Monday, May 14, 2007

I almost die again

Kristen convinced me to skip out of work early and meet her at Barton Springs. I'm glad I did. Austin in May is beautiful weather. I left work at ~3:30 once I realized that both Doug and Dan were out of town until friday.

Since my car is broken, I rode Gertie downtown and across the Congress bridge. I hopped on Barton Springs Road and headed toward Zilker. I was pretty proud of myself, doing ~27 mph on flat ground, almost keeping up with traffic. After passing Lamar, I hopped into the bike lane that goes towards Zilker. I drove down restaurant row, and had almost made it to zilker when I almost became a victim of the Right Hook

Luckily, I was able to slam on my brakes in time, yelling "WATCH OUT!!" I don't think she heard me, but I think I startled some college kids waiting out in front of a sno-cone stand. After recovering from the terror that is a fish-tail, I followed her into the parking lot and waited behind her car until she got out. I don't think it dawned on her until a couple of seconds, and then she realized I was the guy on the bike that was riding in the bike lane. At that point the conversation went something like this....

me (suprisingly calmly): You nearly killed me.
Girl Driving Car: Oh my god. I didn't see you
me: I know it's easy to do, but you've got to pay attention.
GDC: I usually pay close attention to bikers! (I think tears started welling up
me: Please be more careful next time.

All in all, it was a pretty anti-climactic confrontation. I can sympathise. Drivers aren't used to looking out for two-wheeled vehicles. I didn't want to chew her out for something she obviously didn't do on purpose, but I did want to let her know just how easy it is to let you mind wander and end up killing someone. Hopefully I didn't shake her up too much, but hopefully she'll be a little more wary in the future.

I guess it was a good wake-up call for me too... I'm always pretty vigilant out there. I assume cars can't see me, and so far, that's worked out pretty well for me. I guess riding in traffic requires a bit more vigilance. Even in a bike lane.

Still, biking is one of the safest sports/modes-of-transportation out there.

One statistic that jumps to my mind is this: For every 1 year your life is shortened through an accident, you gain 17 years on your life due the exercise improving your fitness level.

If you're a cyclist take this survey!


caroline said...

Casey, I'm glad you're not dead.

Becks said...

I'm glad you told her what she did wrong. I just wish that more cyclists were like you and actually paid attention to the rules of the road instead of running stop signs and willfully refusing to use the bike lanes. Some cyclists make it hard on us drivers! But I'm glad you're not one of them, and I also echo Caroline's sentiment.

AstroDude said...

I'm not saying that I haven't ever blown through stop signs when there's no one else around at 2 am, but I generally abide by the laws. I agree that a lot of cyclists don't follow the rules of the road and generally make life frustrating for motorists. Cops need to do a better job of enforcing that.

As far as the bike-lanes, it's debatable as to whether bike lanes are safer... If I were in the car lane instead of the bike lane, she wouldn't have "forgotten" I was there. Cyclists fare better when they act and are treated as vehicles.