Monday, May 19, 2014

Riding into the scene of a bike accident

As I pulled onto Mass Ave westbound after leaving the bike path, I saw two cyclists in the road, yelling.  I thought they were yelling at a car driver but there weren't.  I came on the scene after something happened.  I asked a driver in the car that I pulled up next to what happened and he said, rather gleefully, that two bikes crashed into each other.  They seemed to be in the middle of the Mass Ave/Route 60 intersection as they yelled and it became clear, even before the driver told me what he knew, that they weren't happy.  Finally one guy leaves the scene of the accident and crosses Mass Ave and hops on the sidewalk and rides towards the bike path.  Yes, he rode on the sidewalk and yes, he shouldn't do that.  The other cyclist, carrying his bike, walked across the median towards the fleeing cyclist.  I was thinking that there would be a fight but the other cyclist was gone by then so that cyclist retreated.  I watched as he got back on the east bound sidewalk and assessed the damage.  I could see, across the full width of Mass Ave, that his front tire touched the down tube and he wasn't going anywhere on the bike.  I imagine that there was at least $500 in damages, which I believe is the threshold in Massachusetts for reporting a vehicle accident.  But it looked like the second party in the accident didn't leave his contact information, just some harsh words.  I wish I had taken a picture of the the cyclist that left the scene but it was threatening rain and I had stashed my sweater, with my phone in a plastic bag in a zippered pocket, in a pannier.

The bizarre thing about this scene was that it seemed like a lot of time passed between when I first noticed the arguing as to who was at fault and when the lights finally changed.  I couldn't tell you if every driver, having front seats to the altercation, just delayed driving off while the light was green to enjoy the show or if there was a time warp, but the process seemed to take forever.  I also couldn't tell you if someone was clearly at fault, although it seemed clear that the cyclist who left the scene was riding against traffic.  But I don't know this.  Perhaps the cyclist who left was unnerved and was just heading back home.

If this seems bizarre and disjointed, you should have been there.

It's not uncommon to see driving that endangers vulnerable road users.  Last week, after someone, seemingly purposefully, buzzed me at the very spot this incident took place, another driver in his Prius, with his coexist bumper sticker, passed me after swerving wildly leaving Davis Square on Elm Street.  I wish he wanted car drivers to coexist with cyclists as much as he wanted religions to COEXIST.  By the way, he was looking up a telephone number and was talking on his phone when he passed me.  Stuff like this happens and you have to ride defensively and I do.  But it's equally common that I see cyclists do dumb things to endanger other cyclists.  I've been watching places where bike paths intersect and, whether or not I am required to stop, I will because half of the cyclists who I notice don't worry over a stop sign on a bike path.  Then I see the results of this incident and feel pretty good about being cautious around bikes as well as around cars.

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