Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Caress Of Steel - A Precautionary Tale

 I got side swiped tonight while on my bike by a car turning left in the intersection of Main and Dunbrack. Approaching the traffic lights  I  began to proceed through the green light when a red Mini Cooper accelerated onto my 9 o'clock. Instinctively I stood up and stomped on the pedals and automatically turned the bike left into the lane as the car was turning left from the opposite direction. I recall it like a slow motion macabre dance although in real time it occurred in scant seconds.

 The Mini's front quarter panel caressed the rear triangle of my bike and "pushed" me sideways as I tried to avoid getting T-boned. I managed to keep the bike upright while concentrating on getting out of the intersection before becoming someone else's potential road kill.

 Might have been a different story had the vehicle not had the low profile grill of the Mini Cooper. I recall seeing my left foot pass by the edge of the headlight as I leaned the bike along the side of the braking vehicle. Reminded me of those shark attack accounts when people relate how they remember seeing the black eye of the predator just before it bites. Guess this two wheeled "seal" got lucky.

 Clear of the traffic lights I pulled over to the side to check on my bike. I was sure my wheel was toast or that the rear triangle was damaged. To my surprise the bike looked fine so I let out a big sigh of relief, thanked my guardian angel AGAIN  and suppressed the surging primal "fight or flee" adrenaline response. It looks like the impact was localized on the quick release lever. At that point another motorist pulled alongside to see if I was unhurt. I assurred her that I was and thanked her for her concern. I wasn't angry as concern for my bike took precedence...funny how that is with us cyclists. We crash and the first thing we ask about is our bikes? No battle damage this time unless you count my shattered nerves(wink).

  Since I was unscathed and my bike apparently no worse the wear I got back in the saddle and proceeded to my destination. Needless to say the club ride on Purcell's Cove road was a little less aggressive tonight. I was resigned to the fact we (and pedestrians) are nothing more than, to quote Neil Young, "meat on the street" and questioning why the heck I put myself in harms way?

  My return trip back to Halifax along PCR and up through the hills of Fairview makes this a precautionary tale. The sun was sitting lower in the sky but I was still blinded by it on several occasions as it was positioned off my left shoulder. Maybe the driver in the Mini experienced the same issue and that explains why she could not see me? I will grant her the benefit of the doubt. I was certainly cycling blind on stretches of PCR even with sun glasses, barely able to discern the bike lane let alone any obstacles or oncoming vehicles in the adjacent lane.

 Lesson learned by my kiss of steel. The sun setting sooner in the day with the approach of Fall can make visability questionable. Be aware when the sun is at your back approaching and proceeding through intersections whether you are driving, cycling or walking. In those cases discretion is the better part of valor and a moments hesitation to ensure safe passage may make a world of difference.

 I got lucky. Plain and simple.

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