Thursday, August 24, 2006

Caution: Riding your bike in Ames may be hazardous to your health.

So I found out today that Chrissy (pictured above on her leg where she was chased by horses) got hit by a car on her bike yesterday. On the day after her 20th birthday. Five weeks away from her first marathon. I saw her today and she is doing okay, besides having a bruise the size of, well, her entire thigh and not being able to turn her neck. She is up walking around, and hopefully will be running soon.

Someone hit her while they were making a lefthand turn at the intersection of Grand and 6th. How do you hit someone when you are turning left? I mean, don't you look before turning? Apparently they took her right out - she went flying across the hood into the windshield and landed in the street. She was fortunately wearing both her helmet and her backpack, which she hit both the windshield and the ground with.

One of my professors got hit by a car on his bike too and spent a while in the hospital. I have had a couple close calls myself where I have skidded out from having to slam on my brakes so hard. I don't ever remember having close calls when I lived in Champaign-Urbana, nor did I know anyone who had been hit. I don't know if Ames drivers are just totally oblivious or what!

Around the university, I actually feel like there is hostility towards people riding their bikes. I can understand there are a lot of jerks who ride their bikes on sidewalks and paths at stupid speeds, but there are a lot of stupid pedestrians who walk right out in front of you when you are on the bike paths, usually chatting on their cell phones, totally oblivious. On weekend nights, on those scattered occasions when I do hit the bars in town, I usually ride my bike (hey, it's better than driving my car), and I encounter packs of frat boys on the bike paths who will not allow me by. I want to yell "Dude, I could take out your little sorority chick girlfriend with my bike right now if I wanted to - she would be a minor bump in my path!"

But my all time favorite is when they make fun of bike helmet. The exchange usually goes something like:

"Hey, bike rider! Nice bike helmet!"

Are these kids 13? I mean, who makes fun of someone wearing a bike helmet? Sheesh!


Lisa said...

When I lived in Valparaiso, Indiana, you'd get jeered at for walking. Pretty much the best thing they could come up with was, "Hey! You walkin!" shit, sherlock. Nooooo...shit.

grr. Let's all move to the Netherlands. People are hotter there, anyway.

Al Dimond said...

That's really tough for Chrissy, hope she recovers well.

In California the cars mostly are very good at handling bike traffic. It surprises me when a car is going to make a right turn into a driveway just in front of me, and stops to wait for me to pass through on the right, even on streets without bike lanes. On the other hand, the high traffic density and number of gigantic surface streets with really long light cycles sucks.

Finn said...

I second the moving-to-The-Netherlands proposal.

Also, as a cyclist and pedestrian, something that really bugs me about Ames is the bizarre and woefully inconsistent policy on bike-only paths, pedestrian/bike paths, pedestrian-only paths, bike/car roads, and car-only roads. It makes getting around rather scary when you know the status of the various parts of your route, but others don't. You can't assume that everyone (or anyone) has a clear idea of right-of-way.

The bike/pedestrian paths are particularly troublesome. When I'm passing a pedestrian on my bike and call out "on your left" (per normal bike etiquette), more often than not they get spooked and jump toward where I am riding. Not a good scene.