Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Steve…Here’s a Hit ‘n Run!

Oftentimes, I like to head over to the Booty Loop after work for a light workout. I get to be with other cyclists and the camaraderie is a nice departure from the typical 3 hour ride I spend by myself. Most of the time, I find a rider better than myself that will push me into some good intervals. So yesterday, after punching the time clock at 3PM, I left work and made my way over to the Booty. Sure enough within the first lap, I had a riding buddy. We didn’t talk much – just entered into the silent “you pull for a lap, I’ll pull for a lap” agreement that most cyclists understand.

We had a good pace going - not too slow, not too fast. My buddy (I hadn’t yet asked his name) was leading me up Heartbreak Hill (Hopedale Ave) and at the top it would be my turn to pull. As we came around the corner and merged onto Queens Road, a green taxi switched lanes in the intersection and came into our lane. The rear end side of the car clipped my buddy sending him flying across 2 lanes of traffic. I slammed on my brakes skidding my rear tire whilst screaming at the taxi driver. I squinted hard to get some part of the license plate, but the driver took off so fast, I couldn’t see anything but the color of the vehicle. I yelled to a passing vehicle to get after him, but she looked at me like I was crazy. And I’m sure I was a little crazy. I had just witnessed a hit and run, my buddy’s on the ground bleeding and people are rubbernecking instead of catching the asshole whose gonna get away with this. From the ground I hear, “Go after him!” I assumed my buddy was ok so I took off on a full sprint riding as fast as I could, hoping the stop lights would, for once, work in my favor. I was pedaling at 30 mph but as fast as that is for a bicycle, it’s simply no match for a car and the taxi got away.

Completely out of breath, I returned to the scene of the hit and run. It was like nothing had happened. Nobody had stopped. Nobody had offered assistance. My buddy had scraped himself off the road and put himself on the sidewalk. He was standing up checking out his bike. He was red from his left knee up to his left hip and the blood was seeping through his bike shorts on his thigh. There seemed to be no skin left on his left palm. I asked if he was sure he was ok. “Yeah, you know how it is – doesn’t hurt much now, but this time tomorrow will be unbearable.”

I helped him adjust his handlebar back into place as we discussed what had happened and what went wrong. It’s a tough intersection as the 1 lane road goes to 2 lanes on the Booty side. But, the intersection is set up so that traffic coming through it is delivered into the left lane of Queens Road so merging traffic can take up the right lane. Oftentimes, people change lanes in the intersection which is confusing for the merging traffic. Still, even if you’re conducting an illegal lane change in the intersection, there is plenty of sight and reaction time, that if traffic does merge into the right lane, you should be able to correct yourself without incident. However, for some reason, this taxi driver continued changing lanes until his tires had almost hit the curb. Of course by then, he had already hit a cyclist. Maybe the driver was distracted by a phone call…or looking for a cd. Maybe he hates cyclists and decided to “teach us a lesson”. Whatever the reason, we’ll never know because that asshole took off. Hit and Run. Felony.

After our brief conversation, I finally asked my buddy his name. “Steve,” he answers with a shake of his head. “And today is my birthday.”

Well, Happy Birthday Steve, I hope you don’t mind; I didn’t wrap your present. I couldn’t find wrapping paper big enough for a hit and run.

I wish you a speedy recovery and safe riding when you get back on your bike.

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