Since we live in a city where bike commuting is as common as riding the bus, I wanted to share an experience that should keep us all aware of the responsibility we share as drivers and also as cyclists.
Mark and I wanted to visit the Fremont Brewing Company Friday to pick up a growler of beer for our weekend trip to Portland (for consumption AFTER the trip of course). We were three blocks away from our house and, crazily enough, discussing how easy it would be to accidentally hit a cyclist when Mark said, “I think that car just hit that bike!” We were a block away from the collision and couldn’t initially tell if anything had happened but as we drew closer, we saw the cyclist on the ground surrounded by about three people.
At first glance, the cyclist didn’t appear to be in too bad of shape – he was obviously a bike commuter and was wearing a helmet but it was apparent that his leg was the primary concern. Mark asked if the car who hit him had stopped and he said yes and pointed to the other people standing around him, one of whom was on the phone with the medics. I felt so bad for them – two guys who looked like they had just gotten off work and had not seen the cyclist crossing the street onto which they were turning.
If ever I’m injured, I now know how long it takes for the medics to get to our neighborhood – about five minutes, though it seemed like much longer. We had to stay around for about 40 minutes so the attending officer could ask Mark for his version of events, and at that point we knew the beer would have to wait until another day.
It’s so easy to stop paying attention for even a moment, but that’s all it takes. Darkness and rain makes it even more difficult to see cyclists, even if they’re wearing reflective gear and have bike lights. So let’s all be careful out there!