Friday I am bicycling to work and coming up on the second to final stretch which is pretty straight, half up hill and half downhill, has a bicycle lane, and features the following hazards:
1. several (five or so) opportunities to be right-hooked by cars turning in to parking lots
2. at the end you need to cross two lanes to get to the left hand turn lane
There I am, pedaling along as fast as I can heading up hill towards a green light and feeling mildly protected by my skinny little bicycle lane which has only the usual amount of trash and broken glass. The cars are to my left and they are also excited by the green light, accelerating past their usual 15 - 20mph over the speed limit to just a bit more although they are of course constrained by the bumper of the car in front of them. Such is the life of the car. All that engine coupled with all those other cars.
One car does not seem to be stomping the gas quite as aggressively as the other and I survey it warily, wondering if it means to take a sharp right into the driveway of a parking lot. I survey and pedal. It drives and does not signal a right turn. Now the driveway opening is immediately in front of me and my heart has time to beat twice and my bicycle and I are at the start of the opening to the parking lot - it's just wide enough for cars to go in and other cars heading towards the road to head out. No cars are exiting.
I have time to feel rather than see the white car that is to my left suddenly accelerate (because they can't just turn, there is a fucking bicycle in the way) and then I have time to think "it's happening" and then instead of seeing open bicycle lane in front of me I see the passenger side door of a white sedan and I am screaming loudly in a very shouty kind of way and braking and twisting my bicycle to the side and getting tangled up with myself and hitting the curb and falling down in a heavy awkward middle-aged way.
I am not happy about this development.
The car completes its turn but they've seen me fall and have not gone into the parking garage. I kindof stagger up pulling my bicycle with me and the car prepares to continue on it's way because hey, she can still stand up, right? Everything is aok! Time to bake the donuts!
No. Things are not ok. I yell "Stop." The car stops. My bicycle and I gracelessly walk stumble to the driver side door. Nothing happens. I knock on the window. It is not a friendly knock. The window rolls down. My jaw drops.
My only thought for a long minute is "I was attacked by a Tusken Sand Raider."
You say "no way." I say "WAY!" The driver was wearing a thing on it's head that entirely covered the head and mouth and nose with a long column of snaps holding it in place. Also, the driver was wearing bug-eyed black sunglasses. My shock must have shown because the driver put up a hand and started un-snapping itself until the face was revealed. Then the sunglasses came off. I collected myself.
What I said:
"You could have killed me."
"I had the right of way."
"You were driving too fast."
and then, a little sadly, "I have children."
What I did not say: anything with bad language. Go me. You all have been a good or bad influence depending on your perspective.
What she said:
"Are you hurt?"
What she added:
"My sunglasses get in the way of my seeing."
What I added:
"Maybe you shouldn't be wearing sunglasses!"
When she said "Are you hurt" I paused, unsure how to respond. I was pretty confident nothing was broken. I thought my bicycle was probably ok and the Contraption Captain would fix any broken bits. But I felt hurt. Being scared had hurt me. Falling had hurt even if nothing was broken. My right knee felt stiff and...older. My wrist which I had stuck out to break my fall now hurt. I knew I had been injured and some part of me wanted to injure her back but I was collected enough to stop and shake my head and walk back to the road. I got on my bicycle, and I continued on to work.