Tag Archives: St Georges Road

The risks we take

I knew when I started riding in Melbourne that it would be risky at times. Everyone who rides has at least a dozen stories of near misses. I’ve got my own fair share. It’s just part of the experience.

But last night’s near miss really rattled me.

I was waiting at the lights at the corner of St George’s Road and Holden St, heading home down St George’s Road. The lights went green and I pushed off. I put new cletes on my shoes last week and I’ve been having a little trouble with them as they’re much harder to clip in at the moment. I couldn’t work out which way the pedal was so I quickly looked down to check. When I looked up, there was a car turning – illegally – in front of me. It was going way too fast and I didn’t have time to brake, turn away or do anything except make a tiny squeaking noise as I was 100% certain I was about to be hit.

Obviously, I got lucky otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this right now. But it was close and I mean really close. Closest call I’ve had in a long time. Being the big whimpy girl I am, I totally freaked out. I started shaking and wobbled the rest of the way home with tears leaking out of my eyes. I don’t know why it scared me so much. Maybe it’s because I’ve had this happen before except that time I did get hit. Got really lucky that day – the road was wet and I somehow managed to stay upright after the initial contact and slid into the side of the car. Well, it was more like a slamming into the car followed by a desperate grab of the roof instead of going down like a sack of spuds. Of course, I was yelling a string of profanities at the top of my voice and was being watched by a captive audience. I wasn’t seriously hurt and was able to walk away – after giving the car driver a piece of my mind.

Last night was genuinely scary but I can’t tell you why. I’ve had four wheel drives get within centimetres of me and it’s given a me a nasty surprise but not affected me like that. On Sunday morning, I had a bus nearly launch out in front of me. Maybe it’s because I’m partially to blame. I looked down when I shouldn’t have. I took my eyes off the traffic even if it was for a second. The person in the car was doing something incredibly stupid and dangerous but I should’ve been watching. I should’ve been looking out for myself. I know there are car drivers out there who really do think cyclists are the scourge of road and would run us all down if they could get away with it and I ride with the knowledge in my head. Last night I dropped the ball and nearly got myself seriously injured or killed.

I have to stop thinking about it though. Nothing bad happened to me except I got a huge fright. Wasn’t hurt, injured or maimed in any way, shape or form. It’s nothing but a moment in time. The lesson is that I must be more careful all the time. It’s crap that we have to be so defensive all the time and ride like car drivers are out to kill us but it’s a choice between that or not riding at all.

Homeward-bound misadventures

Today’s journey home from work was… interesting.

When I got down to Lisa yesterday after work, I noticed a piece-of-shit mountain bike which had been parked in the bike rack rear tyre in had its front tyre pushing hard against Lisa’s rear derailleur. The gear changes seemed a little rougher on the way home and it felt like she wasn’t changing gear when I asked her to but I thought it was just my imagination. When I got out of work today and attempted to pedal off, I couldn’t change gear initially. And when she did, it was under duress. So it was off to the bike shop for me. Turned out she only needed a little adjusting but I was surprised at how I reacted.

I was so angry and really concerned that someone had hurt my baby. And that’s just plain weird. It’s a bike. Pieces of aluminium, carbon, metal and rubber. She doesn’t have feelings, she can’t be injured. She’s not even a she, she’s an it. But I’m certain I’m not the only one who refers to their bike by gender and has given their trusty stead a name. I’m certain there are a bunch of guys out there who have names for their bikes but will never, in a million years, admit it. We bond with our bikes and the relationship is remarkably strong. To be honest I think there’s something odd if you don’t bond with your bike. And that’s more than a little peculiar.

Anyhoo.. enough waxing lyrical about that. To the other part of my misadventures.

I saw a guy on a bike get hit by a car on St Georges Road.

I’d done my usual thing and stopped at the pedestrian crossing which takes forever to change. I watched a few cyclists go by, doing the usual hugging of the gutter when the accident unfolded in front of me. The driver was totally at fault. She turned in front of him, leaving him with nowhere to go. He struck her car’s bonnet and then kinda rolled along the side of her car until he finally hit the ground. The strange thing was it wasn’t that noisy. There was the thump of him hitting the car but I could hear him say something along the lines of oh god! as it was happening.

It happened so fast but it seemed to take forever. I can remember thinking holy shit!! as it happened and then I just ran to the guy. (Not sure how I managed that in cletes!) I don’t know how but he wasn’t seriously injured. He had a lot of scraps and had a massive bruise forming on his arm but he was okay. Scared shitless but up and walking around. I actually think he was embarrassed by suddenly being the centre of so much attention as quite a few people had stopped to see if he was okay. I was about to leave when I realised I should give him my details as I saw the whole thing and could be witness for him when the insurance company inevitably tries to screw him over. Because, hey he’s just some stupid cyclist. Surely the accident was his fault. *rolls eyes*

What killed me most about it was the woman who hit him looked like she was going to drive away and when she did finally did make an appearance her excuse was I just didn’t see him. I couldn’t see past the truck. And then she came out with the gem of I’m a cyclist too. I didn’t say anything to her because I didn’t doubt she was genuinely distressed by what had just happened but I couldn’t help wondering why she decided she had to turn when the truck was blocking her vision. Waiting another five seconds for the traffic to clear would’ve made such a huge difference to her day. She would’ve seen the guy and not gone, saving herself the trauma of plowing into someone and he wouldn’t be in what I imagine is a huge amount of pain right now. Only if she’d waited a few seconds more. It’s not like she was holding up traffic. St Georges Road is a four-lane road, any cars behind her could’ve gone around. But no, she couldn’t wait.

Today’s events just reinforces my belief that we’ve become a society that’s all about the now. We always have somewhere to be, we’re always super busy, nothing can wait. We have no patience and appear to have lost the ability to simply stop. But I’m thinking the next time she turns right against traffic, she’s going to make damn sure there are no cyclists around. For a little while anyway.