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Riding Like Asshole Will Eventually Get You Killed

About two years ago, of all possible things, I was nearly killled by an ambulance truck.

It was certainly stupid of me to ride my bicycle on the wrong side of the road, and it’s a mistake I thereafter forever kicked.

Anyway, I’m cruising south on” M” Street from school, against traffic, and I see an ambulance truck ahead waiting to pull out of a parking lot and join traffic. He saw his opening before I counted on it, and he slowly creeps out –just as I’m passing in front of his nose!

It was bad. It was too late to stop short and let the truck cut me off. If I had swerved away, chances were good I’d get pummeled by oncoming traffic. So I did the worst thing, the only thing –I stopped right in front of the lurching truck and started yelling at the driver.

The driver didn’t hear me, and nothing more came to mind until I heard my back wheel getting tacoed against the truck’s fender. The bike stared to lean on its own, and I barely slipped my inside leg over the top of the warping frame. I fell backward into the road. The tires of a passing car swerved away from my bare head, which I narrowly avoided smacking against the pavement.

As my bike slowly disappeared under the advancing truck, rolled onto my hands and knees and scrambled for the curb. I like to imagine that manuever was a fantastically nimble tribute to Indiana Jone’s sliding roll under the stone gate, but the oversized duffle bag slung about me at the time probably ensured that my homage wasn’t at all graceful.

I crawled up the far embankment like a ragged castaway to shore. Meanwhile, I could hear my the screech of twisted metal and the tuneful popping of spokes, as the truck took the frame completely under itself and proceeded to drag it another seven or ten yards down the street.

The truck ground to a halt and a crew of four men poured out. As I chuck my clumsy bag in the direction of the truck, a middle-aged man in a blue uniform follows the trajectory with his eyes, until it bounced next to my mangled cruiser, dangling visibly from the back end of his vehicle:

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!”

Well, I have to admit that in a funny way, I was lucky. The medics are already there, washing my scrapped skin. Besides that, I wasn’t hurt at all.

Four hours and a tetanus shot later, I come home and the cops had been kind enough to bring the bike home. If bikes did yoga, it looked like it was stuck in a really advanced position. I used to keep the wreck sitting out next to the house, where I had to see it every time I rolled my new bike out to the street, until there can a time I was certain that I had absorbed the lesson.

Well, telling this story has been somewhat cathartic. Still, my eyes probably portray something like terror every time I see anyone riding the wrong way on the sidewalk. You didn’t have to read the whole story to get the moral, but I think explaining my feelings about this riding habit is necessary to make a case to those who irrationally cling to it’s practice. It’s something we were taught to do as kids, and frankly I don’t see how it makes even little kids safer.

I wish there were more parks around, so kids too small to use normal traffic conventions could ride safely.

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