I’ve often dreamed eventually settling down in Southern Colorado.
Maybe somewhere around Spanish Peaks, which is still one of the most beautiful and mysterious places I’ve ever seen. But I’ve always imagined myself living on a ranch.
Not buying the farm like I almost did today.
The funny thing is, I spent about half an hour Thursday evening on the phone with a reporter from the Times discussing whether it’s dangerous to ride on PCH. The point I tried to make was that the problems on PCH aren’t due to cyclists; it’s dangerous, aggressive and inattentive drivers, lax enforcement and a near total lack of infrastructure improvements to make things safer for everyone. Bicyclists included.
Yet what nearly happened to me didn’t happen on busy PCH; it was on Westwood’s relatively placid Ohio Ave, barely a mile from my home.
I was just starting out on my ride when I crossed Westwood Blvd heading west. As I rode, I watched as a driver at the next intersection started to make a left turn off Midvale, then noticed the oncoming traffic on Ohio.
And instead of gunning it to complete his turn and get the hell out of the way, he did exactly the wrong thing.
He stopped right where he was, partially blocking the eastbound lane of Ohio. Which meant that the oncoming cars had a choice between stopping safely in front of him or going around him.
Do I really need to tell you which option the first driver took?
So just as I approached the intersection doing about 20 mph, I found myself staring face to face with a Cadillac Escalade driving on the wrong side of the road at over 30 mph, and at a distance of maybe 10 yards.
Which meant that I was less than half a second from becoming a bloody Caddy hood ornament. And at a combined speed of 50 mph, my survivability didn’t look very promising.
It wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference that I was wearing a helmet and riding exactly where I was supposed to be.
And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
I had just enough time for that “Oh f***” moment in which I fully grasp the seeming inevitability of my demise, when he suddenly swerved back to the other side, clearing my handlebars by just a few feet. And leaving me riding rubber legged for the next several blocks.
It’s possible that he just didn’t see me. Although how you miss a 6’ tall, 180 pound man in a bright yellow jersey is beyond me.
Then again, maybe he did see me, which is even scarier. Because the total lack of surprise on the driver’s face would suggest that he knew I was there all along — and chose to risk the life of a total stranger just to avoid the minimal inconvenience of braking to avoid another car.
And let’s be very clear.
The danger I faced had nothing to do with being on a bike. Even if I’d been behind the wheel, that big ass truck would have mounted my little car like a dog in heat, most likely removing my head in the process.
Instead, it resulted from a frightened driver who made a mistake, then froze when he should have stepped on the gas. And an overly aggressive driver who chose to swerve dangerously when he should have stopped.
And that’s what makes riding, driving and walking across or along our roads risky, whether it’s on Ohio or PCH.
Lance Armstrong is slipping further behind the leaders, but maybe it’s on purpose. Bicycling talks with Contador on video. A day after being bounced from the Tour, Mark Renshaw blames the competition. This was supposed to be Tyler Farrar’s year; instead he drops out 10 stages after breaking his wrist. Life as a TdF rider means learning to love pain; more backstage tidbits from le Tour.
And caption this photo of Tour leader Andy Schleck and his wool-bearing friend to win a $20 gift certificate.
In case you missed yesterday’s list of upcoming events, click here and scroll down to catch up.
Hell has officially frozen over — L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is photographed riding a bike; no, seriously. Gary says Santa Monica may host its first ciclovia on 10-10-10; maybe it should start at 10:10 am. It looks like L.A.’s best transportation blog may be sticking around after all. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who nearly got nailed recently. Bell unveils new commuter-friendly helmets. The Wall Street Journal continues make itself over into Bicycling Magazine; this time asking if you would commute to work. Three ways to pedal faster. Why it makes no sense to license cyclists. A Georgia driver faces aggravated assault charges after imitating Dr. Christopher Thompson. It looks like Memphis and Toronto will be getting new bike lanes, while Jakarta cyclists demand theirs. French President Nicolas Sarkozy rides a bike. Secret to cycling with traffic #5: signal sensibly. Bike is a four letter word in Halifax. Vancouver residents are up in arms after efforts to create what sounds like a bike boulevard. Copenhagen requests high tech bids to make biking in the city even better, as the rest of the world falls further behind.
Finally, first the NYPD blocks a bike lane, then tickets cyclists for going around them.