Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Fugitive

"In the midst of life, we are in death."  Thankfully, I'm not dead - so let me revise this and say "In the midst of serenity, we are in chaos."  So began my day this morning.  Long story short: I was hit by a car while commuting to work on my bike this morning.  Long story long: I had just exited the MKT trail onto Elm Street, heading east into campus when the altercation took place at the intersection of 6th and Elm.
Upon approaching the intersection I slowed, noticing a woman walking across the crosswalk on the opposite side, and a white car stopped and waiting for her.  This prompted me to unclip my right shoe, and put it on the ground as I came to a complete stop.  I checked to the right and left and noticed a red minivan approaching the intersection to my right, probably 50 yards away from even reaching the stop sign.  There was nothing to my left.  Looking across the intersection again, the woman had reached the opposite side and the white car began advancing toward me in its lane. I picked up my foot, clipped in and rode into the intersection myself.  Now, what follows happened so fast that there was simply no way for me to retrieve my camera and photograph the entire thing.  Thus, using Google Earth, I've recreated the incident step by step for you in a visually representative fashion.
(This is a representative figure of me entering the intersection of 6th and Elm from the West.  Please note that I have chosen Jens Voigt to play the part of me in this reenactment.  As many stand-ins are prone to do, he has elected to take some artistic license with respect to the portrayed speed and aggressiveness with which I was crossing 6th Street. I should note that in actuality, I was not "dropping the hammer" but rather barely crawling as it was still quite early in the morning for hammer dropping, and I'm not even sure I own a hammer to drop.)

Upon reaching the middle of the intersection, I noticed out of the corner of my right eye, that the red minivan approaching the intersection was not stopping at the stop sign, and was instead rolling through it at a pretty good clip directly toward me.  Thankfully, it was also turning right, to the East, the same direction I was heading.  Thus, I swerved away from the turning van, toward the middle of the road to avoid an impact, but the van's speed and trajectory still sent it into me, like this.

At this point, I'm pretty sure I yelled an explative of the four-letter variety that begins with the letter 'F' and simultaneously reached out with my right hand, slapping it on the front corner panel of the van as it hit my thigh and began to push me.....hard.  This kind of deflected me and the van and I traveled as one across the intersection, with me still upright on the bike, feet clipped in.  The sound of my hand slapping the hood must have finally alerted the driver that he was about to kill someone and screw up a really nice bike, because the van finally came to an abrupt halt.  I too was able to brake and come to a stop without going down.  Right about then, I'm pretty sure both of my adrenal glands squeezed down to the size of rabbit turds because my heart rate shot up about 100 ticks. 
I slapped his hood again for good measure, and am fairly certain I yelled some more profanity as I looked through the windshield to get a glimpse of the offending party.  I could see immediately that he was an older gentleman and that he was shouting back at me.  In the midst of the shouting, I noticed a very distinctive feature about his physical appearance......

Now, I'm aware that I have a fairly good imagination, and like to bend reality from time to time.  For example, I like to pretend the following: 1) that I'm a good cyclist, 2) that this blog doesn't suck that bad and 3) the fact that I owned every Duran Duran album in the 80's doesn't bring into question my heterosexuality.  Such self-delusion has gotten me through many of life's little trials, and I doubt I can stop now.  However, what I'm about to tell you is the absolute truth.  The driver of the van only had one arm, just like the guy in the movie "The Fugitive."
Only my guy was not wearing a prosthesis and I could clearly see him waving his stump at me.  At this point, I noticed that I was beginning to shake a bit and rode in front of the resting van over to the sidewalk and once again, stopped my bike to try to gather myself.  And by that I mean I needed to check my chamois for the Hershey squirts.  During mid-gathering, he sped off down the rode and I never even thought to look to get his license plate number.  A number of kind pedestrians asked if I was OK, and in fact, yes I am fine.  Just a little flipped out.

On monday, "Spokes Man" Robert Johnson wrote an article in the Columbia Tribune on how "Obeying traffic laws is a two-way street".  As you can imagine, the resulting commentary was quite colorful, but one reader's response in particular stuck in my head after this morning's run-in.

"dreamer0717" stated....."Every time I see bicyclists on weekends they are.....running through stop signs and red lights as though it was OK and pretty much ignoring every bike safety guideline....Perhaps PedNet could get out of Ward 1 long enough to educate the rest of the residents on safe biking and courtesy when riding the streets.  Focusing on select areas of the city and then writing a column about their work is pretty much "in my face" as I see it."

I bet PedNet cannot get in his face as much as the grill of a red minivan blowing a stop sign got in mine this morning.  I just looked down at my hand and noticed the dirt from the minivan's hood still caked on my sleeve.  I got lucky.  Be safe, kids......and watch out for the one-armed man driving a red minivan with my hand print on the hood.



  1. I am by no means a "legal expert," (unless you consider the night I tried to barter with a CPD officer on a bicycle for his sweet police-issue polo shirt at a pub downtown) but I'm pretty sure that what you've described sounds reminiscent of a 'hit-and-run.' Did you file a police report? I know you didn't get a look at the license plate, but I can't imagine that there are THAT many one-armed men driving brightly colored minivans around town...

  2. Glad you're ok. Texting while driving was probably responsible for this (I mean, it's hard enough with two hands....). Your story flashes me back to my vehicle vs bicycle altercation. Police report said my guy's name was Richard Wylde (2 armed). So not only should we all keep an eye out for a one-armed man but also for my villian..... Aka: "Wild Dick" -Henderson

  3. glad you're ok. Close calls, or "light hit & run" aren't any fun. Oddly enough, my morning commute takes me through almost the exact same route, so I'll be on the lookout for the one-armed man...

  4. Cody - Negatory on the police report...I wasn't injured in any way, and am rather slothful regarding reports of any nature. I know what you say would be the right thing to do however - thanks for your advice.

    DH - IF this mo-fo was texting, then I don't even WANT to know what he was using to steer the damn van with. Talk about Wild Dicks!

    Ajohnmeyer - are you THE John Meyer? If so - you've GOT to go back to the blues man, and drop that pop shit. It's killing us. And lay off the kissing and telling....Anyway - thanks for keeping an eye out - but don't do it for it for your own safety!