Nothing like a little body-on-car contact to remind you you’re alive.
So a little before midnight I’m biking on 59th, crossing Madison. I’m one lane from the left. There’s a black stretch limo to my right (never where you want to be at an intersection, but there’s a lot of traffic). The limo starts turning left. I’m not going to fast, mind you, but it’s too late to swerve.
I actually spend the rest of the ride home figuring out exactly what I did. I’m not certain. What I think I did is accept body contact as inevitable and turn to the left without leaning, hence falling over to the right, into the limo, which I effectively used as support. I think that’s what I did. Maybe. Somehow I managed to run into a turning car and stay on two wheels. In that sense it was kind of cool, I guess.
Now I hit the little limo with a little thud, and the limo stops. I stop. I look nastily at the driver, about 2 feet from me. Now this is a situation that could quickly come to yelling and my U-lock bashing through a windshield or denting a car. I have a rule: be wrong or be an asshole. But don’t be both. I already knew he was wrong. If only he started yelling at me...
He rolls down his window and I calmly say, “That’s not the left turn lane.” (Hey, it may not be the best line, but it’s not bad for on the spot thinking. A hell of a lot better than “fuck you, dude!”)
Here’s the important lesson for all drivers. The first words out of his mouth were “Sorry” and “Are you hurt?” He may have even admitted that indeed, it wasn’t the left turn lane.
Sorry and Are you hurt? Wow. That’s just about the only correct two things he could have said. By the tone of our voices, I could have been asking for Grey Poupon.
I took a second to figure out if I was hurt. I wasn’t. I told him so. I didn’t even dirty my jeans. Hell, my pants probably dirtied his limo.
I didn’t want to let him off that easily, so I did mention how he could kill someone. And that somebody would be like me. But what else is there to say? I probably should have complimented him on not yelling at me.
He went our separate ways. I biked in front of him and promptly had to avoid a turning taxi, coming around from his right. Jeeze.