Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Biker Assumes Risk

Every time I get on my bike I know I am taking a risk.  There is simply no way around it.  Naturally, I assume the benefits outweigh the risks.  I almost got hit by a cab yesterday on the way to work.  It was on Grand Street in Brooklyn.  There was plenty of traffic and the cabbie was stuck in it.  Maybe he was trying to not block the box, but he turned suddenly to the right, which made no sense because there was no additional lane to switch to.  Anyway, he came within an inch of me before catching himself and it all happened so quickly that there was no way for me to get out of the way.  I was a little surprised and I probably cursed him, but I wasn't going to get carried away about it.  He obviously didn't see me and I suspect me got more of a scare out of it than I did.  When I am cycling I get into this zone where hardly anything fazes me.  I am so focused on what I am doing, so in the moment, that near-misses are only mildly disconcerting, if that.  Motorists that come close and buzz past attempting to make some point that I cannot bother to care about only reveal their own stupidity. 

Nevertheless, in this state of heightened awareness, I am reflexively looking out for certain things.  One of them is parked cars.  If one is cycling in the correct direction--with traffic--then only the cars in front of you demand your attention.  Naturally, if you are going to change lanes or make a left you must look behind you first.  The cars in front of you may become a problem like the cabbie almost became my problem.  However, the parked cars to your right may also become a problem.  One event I'll never forget was seeing a car, also on Grand Street, pull out of a parking space so quickly that the front tire ran over a pigeon feeding beside it.  The poor thing never had a chance to get away and lay there dying a pitiful death.  I always watch the position of the tires of parked cars.  Some sit with tires poised in getaway position and I always check these for a running engine, passengers and/or a seated driver.  Getting doored is another problem.  A lot of folks just fling those driver's side doors right open.  I am often struck at how irresponsible many motorists immediately become as pedestrians upon emerging from their vehicles.  Stay awake and stay safe.


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