Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why are Bikers Hard to See?

Had a near death experience Tuesday. I was riding home on F Avenue in Cedar Rapids, when a white Buick almost ran me other.

The driver was coming from a side street on my right as I rode north. He started to pull through the intersection just as I was halfway through it, so I had no time to brake or swerve.

Lucky for me, he startled, saw me, and waved me on (as if I had a choice).

Normally, when this this kind of thing happens, I would expect the driver to have a cell phone to his ear. Not in this case, although there was a child in the car with the driver, and perhaps he was speaking with her and not paying enough attention.

Then again, I think of my own habits as a driver. When you plan to pull a right turn on a not-very-busy street, how often do you sort of coast to a stop sign, glance down the street to your left and roll on through if you don't see a car, pickup truck or city bus barreling down on you?

Besides possibly being distracted, I think that the Buick pilot was simply looking for larger objects, moving faster, farther down the street. The biker practically on his bumper didn't register until he nearly ran him over.

I am betting Mr. Buick bears me no ill will. He didn't yell, gesture or honk--as some rude drivers tend to. He just didn't see me, and I bet he's embarrassed about it.

It's a reminder to me as a biker to always pay attention. I sometimes daydream as I ride along--trying to come with the next earworm for my sister's Facebook wall, or whatever. (Lady Gaga didn't work, she says she paid no attention to recorded music since the '80s, which probably rules out Kei$ha, too.) And, when I drive a car, another reminder. Glance to your right before you turn, watching for foot (or bike) traffic--and, most important to me Tuesday, don't only look off into the distance seeking another internal combustion engine. There might be a sweaty old guy much closer.

Please don't run him over.

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