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Bike Beat: Scared


The last time I rode my bike was in late November, I think. It was the day that Fritz came through town. I was on my way home in the dusk at 5pm, and had made it successfully across the Ross Island Bridge and the 9th Ave pedestrian bridge. Traffic was heavy so I rode down Milwaukee looking for a chance to get across it. It never let up enough for me to even shift over to the left side of the lane and look for a chance to turn left. So I went to the pedestrian walkway at the Brooklyn Park.

I don't like to push the button to change the light there, because it stays red for the traffic for too long. I'd rather they just let me across and be able to proceed again, than to sit there until the light turns green. So my not pushing the button is my attempt to let common sense prevail above legal restriction.

I was riding on the sidewalk at this point, because the traffic was heavy and cars were parked in the bike lane. Once at the walkway I slowed down to look, and the oncoming truck slowed down as if he was going to stop. I was covered in blinking lights, so I thought he saw me. I started pedalling to cross the road. Right as I was going off the edge of the curb he hit the gas, coming at me. I slammed on the brakes, skidding to a stop with one wheel in the road and one on the sidewalk. I almost fell over I stopped so unexpectedly. Then I looked up at the truck. It was dark so I could not see the driver. He was stopped at the crosswalk. I got my foot on the pedal and pushed off again, and he lunged his truck at me again. My heart was in my throat as I finished my crossing in front of less threatening vehicles.

From now on I will push that button any time I need to cross that street at rush hour. Cars be damned. I haven't ridden my bike since that day. I discovered that the trimet bus passes by a block from my house every 15 minutes, and it goes straight to school and then to downtown. I also discovered that you can know exactly when to leave the house by tracking the buses online. So I ride the bus now. The bike is in the basement with flat tires.

I have wondered from time to time what the deal was with that truck driver. Was he just impatient? Was he laughing his head off at how badly he scared me? Was he completely out of it, and did not see me with all my flashing lights? I will never know. But it is sad to me that one bad driver can scare me so deeply. I will ride again. But not today.

Comments

liveonearth
Feb. 1st, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
The photo is pilfered from the web. I found it as #7 on a list of the worst things about Portland. I would like to ride my bike but I only want to do it in situations where I feel I have some control. ... which may be illusory, but I want the feeling, at least.

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moon
liveonearth
liveonearth

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