13.

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Good Evening:

Since I began this blog less than a year ago, I have saved two lives for a new total of thirteen. You can read about 12 here; Tonight I present 13.

The intersection of Masonic & Geary in San Francisco is a difficult one to figure out and not that safe for pedestrian or bicyclist. Traffic arrives at many different directions at excessive speeds, the lights change in a pattern that might exist (or might not), and sometimes I feel safer crossing against the light than with it. However, the nearest Trader Joe’s grocery store to my apartment has taken up residence near there, so I keep my head on a swivel whenever I visit.

On this particular Sunday I awaited the light to change in my favor when three bicyclists (male, early 20s, Caucasian, preppy) pulled up beside me on their expensive-looking 12-speeds. Two of them had brain cells and stopped in a safe location, heads on swivels like yours truly.

The third did not have brain cells; he had a cell phone.

He chatted away on his Very Important Phone Call (V.I.P.C.), oblivious to the fact that he had wandered 15 feet into one of the most dangerous intersections in San Francisco.

“BACK UP!!”

Mr. Cell Phone backed up six feet. A car traveling in excess of the speed limit zoomed over the spot he used to inhabit. Mr. Cell Phone had no idea what just happened; he still focused all of his attention upon his V.I.P.C.

“DON’T BIKE AND TALK!!”

Mr. Cell Phone backed up another six feet. A second car traveling in excess of the speed limit zoomed over the new spot he used to inhabit. Mr. Cell Phone had no idea that I had saved his life twice in 10 seconds; he still focused all of his attention upon his V.I.P.C.

His friends laughed; let’s fact it, “Don’t bike and talk!” is a rather funny line. I looked at the unprotected heads of the three preppies riding expensive 12-speeds.

“You know, guys, helmets might be a good idea.”

Mr. Cell Phone didn’t hear a word of this; still focused on his V.I.P.C. One of the others replied, “Yeah, well, we made a choice.”

I said, “I know.”

The light turned in our favor and the three bicyclists and went our separate ways. Mr. Cell Phone turned to one of his friends and I think I heard him ask, “What just happened?”

I probably did the right thing in saving Mr. Cell Phone. Didn’t I?

Vonn Scott Bair

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4 responses »

  1. “I probably did the right thing in saving Mr. Cell Phone. Didn’t I?”

    Only if he never procreates. Otherwise, Darwin is unhappy.

    I used to bicycle with a helmet, until 1985 when a careless woman flung her full-size Cadillac driver’s door open right in front of me on Bancroft Ave. on the south front of UC Berkeley, sending me and my Schwinn Sting-Ray two-speed flying right over (so i was told) and onto the pavement. A quick trip to Herrick Hospital revealed a fractured jaw and broken toe. Analysis revealed that the helmet didn’t help me at all. Still have the helmet… haven’t used it since. I feel more comfortable turning my head farther for a better rear view without it.

    Someone day before yesterday once again flung the driver’s door of his parked car wide open suddenly, literally in front of my face (as happened all those years ago). This time i reacted quickly and missed it. It was a quiet Altadena side street, so my equally sudden yelling made a deep impression. I believe this particular gentleman will look before flinging the door open, in the future.

    Since the 1985 event, i tend to bicycle farther away from parked cars when traffic allows, which it does not always. And, attempt to look inside parked cars to see which ones have drivers or driver-side passengers who might be spontaneous door-flingers.

    Maybe the guy you saved can invent sensors which preclude or slow down car door opening when a moving object is close by. That would be a happy ending for everyone.

    • S.P.: You bring up an interesting question–why do bicyclists wear less protection than motocyclists? I know a hard-core “biker chick” (her phrase, not mine) who always rides with leather top to bottom, boots, gloves and helmet. Once, a limo ran a red light and blind-sided her at 30 mph, sending her flying through the air for 20 feet, hitting pavement and rolling another 30.
      Treated and released.
      The next day, I visited her at home. She was already looking through catalogs for her next machine. Hard core.
      If you had worn her protection, you probably would have had nothing but a few bruises.

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