Friday, January 29, 2010

Attention Motoring Public!

This is a stop sign. It means you are supposed to stop.

I share this because I have had two incidents on two consecutive mornings where a motorist's failure to heed this very simple directive has put me and others in harm's way.

Late yesterday morning, I was in West Hartford when a driver lost control of his Pathfinder, slid rapidly though a stop sign and found a very short path into the passenger side of the borrowed car I was driving. The resulting impact spun the car into the front of an oncoming dump truck for a second, more destructive, impact. The car is probably totaled, but all of the humans involved were remarkably unscathed. Amusingly, this was one instance where I wish I had been wearing a helmet, as it would have cushioned the side-glancing headbutt I gave the driver side window midway through this bout of Car Pong.

I was understandably a bit rattled after this, but I was perfectly comfortable (if a touch more vigilant) when I was back on my bike a few hours later for my afternoon and evening plans. Even yesterday evening's scary black ice was tolerable at a very slow, careful pace.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, I was biking north on Hudson Street downtown when a speeding green Jetta overshot the stop sign as I reached the corner of Linden and Hudson. We both slammed on our brakes. He managed to come to a stop in the crosswalk. I managed to lock up my front wheel on some loose gravel/salt mixture, wash out and lay myself and bike down on the left hand side. I was up in an instant, as nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like realizing, "Oh crap! I'm laying down on a busy street!" Again I was happily uninjured, and continued on my way with only a slightly cocked handlebar to show for the incident. The Jetta driver displayed a look that might have resembled one of concern or surprise before driving off without comment. Hey, thanks for that.

It was only seconds later that I watched a woman careen around the Pulaski Circle in her black Mercedes with a cell phone at her ear before turning off without signaling. I saw that one coming and was completely unsurprised. I marvel at how someone can drop a condo's worth of coin on an automobile and won't pony up a few bucks for a Bluetooth or some other headset. The headsets these days are durable enough to withstand any chronic cranial-rectal insertion conditions that some drivers appear to suffer. I don't think there is anything to be gained by turning into a militant car-hating bike zealot, but some days some drivers make that sort of moderation very difficult. I digress.

Stop signs are usually placed at a corner for a very good reason. In the case of the corner of Hudson and Linden (pictured above) there are two compelling reasons for there to be a stop sign. Not only is Linden a minor side street to the busier Hudson Street, but there is what traffic engineers term a big ol' honkin' blind spot there in the form of a brick building smack-dab on the south side of the corner (traffic engineers are a folksy lot). It's nigh-impossible to see who or what is coming from the left until you reach the stop sign. Whomever it is, it would really be bad for all involved if you were to hit them.

In closing, motoring public, look both where you are going and where you would like to go. Slow down. The few seconds you save by driving like an idiot can cost you and others a lot.

Ride safe.

1 comment:

Kerri said...

I am relieved that you were not seriously injured; my keyboard, however, is damaged from the snot I just blew on it when I read this: "The headsets these days are durable enough to withstand any chronic cranial-rectal insertion conditions that some drivers appear to suffer."