Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Dangers and Irony of Biking

I almost got hit by a SUV today. I was biking on Colfax, just crossing over the bridge, when a big, black SUV out of nowhere crossed my path to enter a parking lot. The collision was so close that the driver had to step on the gas to avoid hitting me. Otherwise, I reckon she would have t-boned me into oblivion.

I couldn't believe what happened. And before I could change my mind, I biked into the parking lot to speak to her. I don't think she realized I was waiting for her.

When she exited the vehicle, I told her, "you almost hit me." She looked surprised. "Well, excuse me, but I didn't see you," she said with a haughty tone. "You put my life in jeopardy," I replied. Instead of apologizing, she turned the tables on me and said that I would have hit her. "Actually, I was doing just fine; I was obeying the laws when I was riding." I think she was now getting angry at me. "Look, I'm ok, you're ok. If you want to call the police (but it sounded like po-lice) for a near accident, then go ahead." I told her that wasn't my intention at all. "I have work to do," was her final retort. And with that, she proceeded to walk away. I had the last word, though. "At least drive more carefully!," I exclaimed.

Truth be told, I hate biking on the street, but I do it to conserve fuel, pollute less, and exercise more while commuting to work. I guess the irony here is that I nearly got struck by a gas-guzzling, big-time polluting SUV. And she's not going to apologize for that.


Anonymous said...

Good for you for pressing the point--even if she got huffy with you in the parking lot, I imagine she'll look out a little more carefully next time she passes someone on a bike, if only to avoid having a similar confrontation again.

SBCatMan said...

What a frightening experience. First of all, I am glad that you are OK and that you survived it.

Secondly, you are the psychologist, not I, but it seems to me that her attitude may likely have been her inept way of dealing with the fact that she knew she was terribly wrong. And, as the "conversation" pressed on, so did her denial.

I also agree with grimsaburger in that your confrontation will not have been in vain. I would guess she will be more careful in the future. While you may have gotten little personal satisfaction from your encounter, you may have saved someone else from a similar fate, or worse. And, knowing you as I do, I suspect that is quite enough.

Michelle Verges said...

Thanks guys, for your kind words. As you can imagine, I've been thinking about this experience throughout the day. I really hope you're right - that she will be more careful in the future.

After that ordeal, I rode my bike on the sidewalk for most of my trip home. But toward the end of my ride, I got back on the road.

I told myself that I can't be a chicken just because this person was negligent. Plus, this was the first (near) incident since I purchased my bike two years ago.

Anyway, my ruminations continue...what's been really puzzling is why she didn't just say she was sorry. I was talking about this with a student today, and he thought that I was expecting too much for her to apologize. I just find that to be sad, really.

Nate Ring said...

I read about your near hit on the road. It reminds me of a research article by a student at NYU (I believe NYU). Essentially the study unconverted that individual who are "in a time crunch" are more inclined to disregard basic moralities and niceties to meet a deadline. They did this by two conditions, students from the seminarian who are given 15 minutes to make it across a campus and students who have 45 minutes to deliver time sensitive material. Along the path the individuals would be confronted by a confederate of the study who is in obvious distress. Only a few of the students stopped when they were "rushed" and more stopped if they were "not rushed." It makes me wonder where that lady had to go. :-P

Anyway if you want to know more, Zimbardo has a pretty good lay out of the study in his book Lucifer Effect. (but you should know all of this already :-) )

Jenny said...

50 cents says she's already forgotten about it. It's not that complicated. Some people are just bungholes.

I live within 5 miles of my office - an easy bike commute - but the drivers around here are terrifying. There's a major accident on my way home from work almost every day. I wouldn't think of trying to get to work without several layers of metal and fiberglass surrounding me. And this is coming from one of the worst drivers in history.

Bikers have a difficult problem in most areas. It's illegal to ride on the sidewalks, but riding on the streets means risking your life. And while bike lanes are nice, they lose their security once someone has to turn.

Michelle, I'm glad you're still OK! And keep up the biking! My first year in Athens, I got hit by a car while I was crossing an intersection - on foot! Didn't get so much as an apology. But I'm still walking!