Clean Slate

bicycle sign on the road, bike lane


Statistically it was always going to happen. If you ride the kms that I do, in a city like Sydney, then sooner or later you are going to be taken out. As an early Christmas present I got “doored” this morning. It was about 7.30am and we were heading home along the northern beaches when a ute door was just flung open right in front of me.

As with all incidents like this, time slows, I remember thinking I am not going to avoid this and then next thing I knew I was on the deck. Fortunately there were no other cars on the road and Robyn was far enough back to be able to stop.

Laying spread eagled on the tarmac is one of the worst places to be. Fortunately the adrenaline kicks in and instinctively you want to get up. If I can stand then surely nothing is broken. I could just about stand, my bike looks to be in one piece, now where’s the idiot driver.

It is fair to say I unloaded in his direction as I hobbled off to the side of the road and was still shouting obscenities at him when my legs gave way. Robyn said I looked like a cross between a new born deer trying to stand and the exorcist as I ranted and raved at the driver. He looked genuinely concerned, he just kept apologising, saying he was completely at fault and he just wanted to make sure I was OK and  to do whatever it took to try and fix this mess.

You could argue this was the least he could do, but his approach almost floored me as much my injuries. I think I probably expected a fight. The media produces so much rubbish about the hostility between cyclists and drivers I was expecting to get abused for hitting his ute!

Fortunately my bike was working and I could still move everything. I stood up and looked at the driver, he asked if I was alright before apologising again and again and again. He then offered to drive me home.

Strangely enough all the anger and frustration I was feeling just disappeared. In fact he looked white and shaken up himself, so much so I actually asked him if he was OK. Yes he was at fault but it was an accident and these things will happen. Fortunately, for both of us, I could ride gingerly home.

I know he learned a lesson and I’ll take it on the knee, leg, arm and hip.

I ride cautiously anyway and I follow the road rules when out on my bike.  I was once asked by a new cyclist, who had come out with me for a ride, why I stopped at all the red lights and wasn’t careering through like many of the others. My explanation was that it was more for the benefit of other cyclists. I may be alright if I jump the odd light but from my experience it creates anger and resentment for the average motorist and that’s not good for the next cyclist they come across.

People hold grudges, they carry the resentment around with them. This work both ways for drivers and cyclists alike and it just adds to what can already be a dangerous environment. 

So if you drive or cycle my advice is that every time you get in your car or on your bike, wipe the slate clean. Leave whatever angst or previous experiences you may have behind you. Neither of us are the enemy, instead focus on safely enjoying your day and helping those around you do the same.



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