Car 1 Bike 0
So, I was hit by a car today.
One and a half tonnes of metal verses sixty three kilogram me on a ten kilo bike. And I walked away from it.
In my effort to “find thirty” and do my bit for the environment, I ride the ten kilometres to work. It’s a puffy little hike, most of which is uphill and usually in the smug face of a strong headwind. Home, it’s a gradual decline, so I can pick up some speed, but it’s dark.
Today, as I was exiting the round-a-bout on Hepburn Ave, I was struck by a car. I had right of way – like any vehicle on the road would. But then again I’m not surrounded by one and a half tonnes of metal.
I’m used to the angle of headlights of cars on the road – the car headlamp’s throw indicates a safe buffer zone when I see the angle shrink. That way I know they are bypassing me.
But there isn’t much you can do when you see a set of headlights directly behind and hear the rumble of an engine. You kind of cringe and brace yourself. And hope for the best.
Of course I didn’t think about all these things when I was struck.
I saw lights behind me.
There was an impact.
My field of view went tumbling around and you see snippets of things like a slides clicked from the child’s ViewMaster toy :
The bike twisting free.
A spinning black tyre that fills your eyeball.
The sparkly texture bitumen has at night.
The ‘under car view’ mechanics dream about, but are the nightmares of cyclists.
I rolled and skidded to a halt on the side of the road leaving a deal of skin on the bitumen.
The mutilated silence of panting and heart beats reserved for when someone’s attention been stolen by trauma. No pain yet. My elbows are sub-cutaneous-white and numb.
She stops the car and my bike is ten meters down the road and backs-up to dislodge the bike. Her little boy jumps out no older than 7, yelling “I can fix your bike mister” I cannot process this thought. She follows him then makes her way to me for what will be a fifteen minute manta of “I’m so sorry” and in Spanish accent. Yeah. Sorry could have killed me.
I get up. “Didn’t you see me?” I’m trying to process my feelings of anger but I can’t. I’m not sure what to feel – I’m probably in shock.
“Are you OK?” [Well, no I’m not you just hit me.]
“Yeah I’m fine, I’m just grazed but everything is OK. No broken bones or anything.”
I look at my elbows. It’s funny sometimes how a visual indicator of injury spurs the body to complete the pain circuit. Ouch! They’re nicely grazed and dripping with blood.
I see cars stop – I tell her to move her car to clear traffic.
“I’ll pay for everything – here is my mobile number, my name is __________”
Trying to enter a new contact in Windows Mobile 6.0 after being stuck by a car is like having someone pull a card trick on you – when you were sure of the answer. It’s a vanishing, frustrating affair. And try holding a stylus to enter it all. Needless to say, she just called me and I saved the number. I was totally cognizant of what needed to be done, but my body was not cooperating.
She says she was distracted by her screaming/crying kids in the car. I don’t really care. I could have been seriously injured or killed.
She’s just happy I’m OK. And I am too. I’m not broken. Just bruised, grazed and sore. She offers to pay for everything and so she should – I had right of way.
She leaves and I’m there standing on the side of the road processing this all. I call my Dad and tell him what happened – Mum will be there in a minute.
Upon hanging up a police car appears. Apparently someone reported a cyclist struck by a car. They are here for me. I tell them what happened. They go over a few legalities of my options. The police woman maintains sharp eye contact possibly to asses a state of shock. I’m more lucid now. They offer me a lift.
On the way home, I’m filled with the kind of thanks when you realise how close you have come to serious injury or death – my bike ended up under one and a half tonnes of metal and I didn’t. The bike’s aluminium handles were ground off into the avenue – that could have been any part of my body. I grin like an idiot. I just cheated death. And now I’m in the back of a paddy wagon.