The unlucky cyclist was almost me today. Another girl passed me in downtown Mankato early this evening, wearing headphones but no helmet. Not 30 seconds later, I arrived at the next intersection and saw her crumpled on the ground, having been struck by a minivan whose driver didn't see fit to obey the stop sign posted for her traffic direction. Apparently the parking spot she saw across the way was more important. 911 was already being called, so I stopped to sit with the cyclist, get her stuff out of the street, and offer a phone call to get her a ride home. The cops arrived soon after, and I didn't see any reason to stick around since I hadn't actually witnessed the accident itself. I rode away thinking...I kid you not..."There, but for the grace of God, go I." Cliche, I know, but very true in this case. I was 30 seconds away from being this girl.
Reminds me of the even nearer miss I had back in my Minneapolis bike commuter days, when yet another car driver decided not to obey a stop sign. My choice was to either broadside her or swerve into what would have been oncoming traffic had a school bus not had that direction stopped. That car came within 6 inches of my back tire, and its driver likely needed a change of underwear once she got wherever she was going. I was left in the intersection, screaming the most sailor-like obscenities I could come up with. I made it the last few blocks to work and upstairs to my office before I lost it completely during my "check in" phone call with hubby. It was only the first or second day I had ever ridden that far to work, especially so early on a winter morning, and it's a wonder I ever did it again after that. Being who he is, uber-hubby developed a habit of heading my way after he got done with school so that he could ride home with me. He never said that was why, but I always appreciated the company.
MEMO TO 4 WHEELED VEHICLE DRIVERS: Please obey traffic laws and be aware of bikes and motorcycles that are sharing the road with you. At the end of the day, the Law of Gross Tonnage is on your side, regardless of who really had the right of way.