If you're not part of Facebook nation, you wouldn't know yet about the only exciting thing that has happened to me this year: I got hit by car on Wednesday night.
[Mom-don't pick of the phone and immediately call me...if you keep reading, you'll know why I even forgot to mention it this morning. Seriously, put down the phone.]
I read somewhere a few years ago that for every X number of miles traveled on a bike, a cyclist is statistically likely to be involved in a motor vehicle collision. X decreases if you do a lot if urban riding. I can't find the article online, so you'll have to bear with the X.
What is irritating about the X is that it still exists no matter what precautions we take. Personally, I tend to be very conservative and cautious. when it comes to riding in traffic. I always wear a helmet, have no less than four lights on my bike and commute with a reflective jacket and a white backpack that you can see from 200 paces. I stay away from heavily traveled streets without bike lines or significant shoulders when I can. I signal.
But none of this really matters when motorists simply aren't paying attention.
Wednesday night I was riding from TAI to the Lloyd center to attend the Team in Training kickoff party. I hit the Rose Quarter just about at tip-off time of the Blazers-Cavaliers game and motor vehicle traffic was a nightmare. I had finally soft-pedaled my way past the worst of it and was heading east in the Broadway bike lane when I noticed a flash of white off to the left.
Although the whole incident must've taken one minute total, it seemed like a lifetime. The driver of the car must have been attempting to get all of the way across Broadway between the hordes of game-going pedestrians and clumps of cars all fighting for the same free parking spot. I saw the flash, heard the brakes and instinctively grabbed my own brakes as hard as I could.
Then closed my eyes and prepared for the worst. Something very bad was about to happen.
Luckily, she saw me in time and by the time she hit my front wheel, we both were more or less stopped. But I was clipped in and off balance and hit the deck to my right, my cheek scraping on the gravel still coating the bike lane.
The next thing I remember was being up again and banging on her hood three or four times in rapid succession, screaming "Fuck You!" each time my fist hit metal. I then hauled my bike up off the ground by the hoods and around to her driver's side window. She looked scared to death and only cracked the window a half inch.
"I was just trying to get across the street."
What followed from my own lips after that was a litany of swear words and insults that probably would have made a sailor blush. I don't remember hearing an apology, but its very likely that she wasn't able to get a word in edgewise.
At some point she realized that I was no longer blocking her path and she quickly put her car into drive and took off. In my haze of rage, I had neglected to get a license plate number and chasing her down would have been dangerous, if even possible.
With all of the adrenaline pumping through my system and all of the activity at the party, the magnitude of what happened didn't really hit me (no pun intended) until later that evening, as I was icing my sore achilles and watching the season premiere of Lost.
I FUCKING GOT HIT BY A CAR.
Cyclists get hit by cars all of the time in Portland. But until it happens to you, you don't' realize how few inches or factions of seconds are the difference between riding home safely and a trip to the hospital. And that, just maybe, not being able to clip in at the previous stoplight gave me the time I needed to avoid catastrophe.
I feel more mortal, and lucky, than I have in a long time.