On June 1 2012, I was riding my bike westbound on King street in San Francisco on my way home just before midnight when a presumably-drunk driver struck my bike from behind and then continued on his or her way, either unaware or unconcerned that s/he had just launched me and my bike into two separate trajectories through the air and onto the tarmac directly in the center of a lane of traffic. Thankfully, I managed to grab my bike and scoot the both of us up onto the sidewalk without being hit a second time, and there, a swarm of witnesses, then police, and then paramedics came to my aid.
I never saw the car that hit me, not before, during, or after the impact, and all the witnesses could tell me about the car was that it was small. There was no sound of emergency braking or any warning whatsoever, just the unforgettable sound of my wheel spontaneously exploding followed closely by the equally memorable sensation of my butt bone crashing into the pavement. I was left feeling as though I’d been steamrollered just the same as if I’d been an inconveniently placed, albeit very well lit up (and flashing, in 7 places), soft hit post.
Some thoughts I had while I was lying on the sidewalk:
- Fuck it! I’m moving to Portland.
- Holy crap my ass hurts.
- Wait, relocating is hard, and what if I got hit in Portland too? After all, it does happen.
- Why do I ride a bike again?
- Oh yeah, that’s right. Because bussing and walking in this Transit First City is unreliable and slow and it isn’t any safer.
- Well thank goodness San Francisco motorists aren’t going to lose any parking spots over this.
- OK that’s it, I’m getting a helmet cam and starting a blog.
What none of my roadside helpers knew was that this was the 3rd time in less than a year that I’d been sent to the E.R. by someone else’s reckless driving. And in the coming weeks, as I was confined to my bed yet again and forced to reflect on the state of our transportation system, I picked up Tom Vanderbilt’s book about Traffic, and I quickly found myself absorbed by his plainly evident point that drivers of automobiles suffer from an almost total lack of feedback regarding their driving abilities and other peoples’ experiences on the road around them, as Mr Vanderbilt discusses in this video:
This blog is my attempt to provide just a little bit of that missing feedback.