Stop Signs are Not Suggestions

I ran into the Gnome tonight whilst watching some old man softball here in Flagtard, AZ and he gave me some (lighthearted) shit about not posting in a while. I do apologize; I was on the east coast for a bit, and I haven’t done an especially good job of organizing my life since returning to the fine southwest.

So when I was sitting on my lazy ass today and the Gnome stopped by to drop off some good DC schwag, I felt I had to earn my keep around here. I wrote up a nice post about bikes and similar musings, but then something happened tonight and I wanted to write it down. It’s fresh in my mind now because it just happened literally ten minutes ago.

I just ended up on the hood of some asshole’s Lincoln Town Car.

I was riding my bike home from softball (disclaimer: I usually play fast pitch baseball and redefine mediocrity once a week, but instead I played old man softball to fill in tonight and once again redefined mediocrity), luckily using my new Knog Bullfrog light in the front and my Blackburn flashing red light in the rear (read: abiding by the goddamn law). When I came upon an intersection, Asshole in Car had a stop sign. I did not. I continued through the intersection.

So did Asshole in Car.

Never even stopped.

I slammed on my (non-cantilever) brakes so hard I flew over the handlebars, landed on my feet, launched forward, and ended up on the hood of the Lincoln.

Okay, Let’s pause and analyze.

We all make mistakes. I often roll through stop signs when I am driving, and I have made my share of driving mistakes. Even had a few close calls. This happens to all of us. There is no way around it, it’s the nature of the beast.

But let me make this perfectly clear: if you EVER, EVER, fucking come close to HITTING A CYCLIST, you better get out of your goddamn car and start apologizing fast.

This asshole sat in his driver’s seat, said, “sorry, sorry,” then drove off without even bothering to find out if I was okay. This does not pass for humanity. This does not pass as compassion or sorrow, or regret, or even being remotely kind in any way. Take fucking note.

Second Disclaimer: I was screaming like a mad man. I believe I said something along the lines of, “You almost fucking killed me, you fucking asshole! What the fuck is wrong with me you fucking asshole?”

I probably would have sat tight in my driver’s seat, too.

Maybe for a minute.

Then I would have gotten out to find out if the fucker was okay.

Summary: I am generally okay. Tweaked my ankle pretty good. My shoulder hurts, but I think it’s nothing. Could hurt worse tomorrow. Like I said, this just happened a bit ago. The worried look on my wife’s face tells me I should reassure her that I’m okay rather than write a goddamn blog post, but if I don’t get this out now, I’m likely to rant for the next hour. Better you than her, if you can be patient.

Final Lesson: never trust anyone but yourself, especially when on two wheels. People treat driving like it’s a goddamn hobby, something they do in between the important things in their lives. But nothing is more important than piloting a two thousand pound hunk of metal when other human beings are around. Keep your eyes open and maybe you can keep your skin off the pavement.

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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

32 thoughts on “Stop Signs are Not Suggestions

  1. Unfuckinbelievable- you literally need to ride a bike like your head is on a swivel. Thank God you are okay! I have never found myself on the hood of a damn car, but I can only imagine it is scary as hell!!!

  2. “I played old man softball” I take offense to that statement, I was a participant…….never mind continue, it was indeed “old man softball”!

    Good to hear you’re ok.

  3. Dude, this goes way beyond expectations man. I mean, I was just ribbing you a bit. It was nothing sincere. Really. Then you go and do this?

    I think if you had cantilevers, you wouldn’t have gone over the bars. Lesson learned. Cantilevers have their place.

    Glad you are ok.

  4. So, the real issue is:

    do you play infield or outfield?

    Cuz’ outfield is for, like, singlespeeders…run, catch throw, do it again.

    Infield is for the thinking man…i.e. the one with opposable thumbs, the shifting man.

    Seriously, though, glad yer ok.
    Many of the auto/cyclist posts on this site don’t end with lighthearted barbs.

    Hug your wife…you outfielder, you.

  5. Did you notice the license plate? Even if you didn’t, call the police to give a vehicle description. Worst case, they don’t find the driver.

    You’re amped and (rightfully) angry now, and the true extent of injury may not yet be apparent. I hope you’re OK, but if you or your wife have any doubt – especially w/rt head & neck pain, or disorientation, get to the hospital. You don’t have to hit your head to get a concussion.

    I hope you feel better soon!

  6. D2,

    Been there, done that & I’m damn glad that we both come out okay.

    I’m grateful that you’re okay, have long distance beer with me, I’m sinking Victoria Bitter, (good Oz piss).

    Weirdest near accident that I had was 3 years ago, I was out at lunch time with a work colleague doing some miles. On this one beautiful sweeping downhill there’s an old age home, as I was hammering down it I saw this car on the opposite lane indicating a turn into it .

    I remember thinking, ‘don’t you dare turn in front of me’, when sure as shit, they did.

    I was riding my Giant OCR3 with the no name brand generic brakes that even Tektro were ashamed to put their logo on so they did not do a great deal in slowing me down.

    Fortunately they did manage to retard my forward progress enough that I managed to swing a left & enter the drive way in parallel with the car.

    I did a u turn in front of it & was ready to let fly when this lovely little old lady wound down the window in tears & apologized to me. She said something like ‘I’m so sorry, I’ve got such a fright’ & I suddenly burst out laughing, (or possibly hysteria), & said, ‘you should have seen it from my side, be careful out there’.

    Riding off my work mate said, “you’re too nice, I’d have cursed the bitch”

    My response was, “one day, that’s you & me”.

    I went out & bought Shimano brakes the next day.

  7. Never trust a vehicle in the dark at an intersection. Night riding is a beautiful thing, but it calls for us pedalers to be ultra defensive. Dumbass in the car was probably half in the bag and wanting to scoot it out of there.

  8. Glad to hear you’re alright. Drivers who treat driving like a hobby are the good ones. It’s the people who think of driving as some trivial task to be done in parallel with more important things that scare me.

    Also, KoolStop Salmon pads are true life savers. I’ve got them on Centaur calipers and have panic stopped (car taking a roundabout the wrong way) hard enough to loosen my headset.

  9. YO d2! im glad you’re ok. totally sucks ass. it’s just one of those things, it’s bound to happen if you ride. period. gnome is wrong though, about the canti’s. and thanks to both of you for that 9 speed shifter!!!

  10. now you know how motorists feel when cyclists run stop signs eh?

    stop signs, stop lights, well

    if you expect cars to obey them…

    cyclists need fucking start obeying them…

    Sucks that it happened to you man… coulda been worse, glad it wasn’t

  11. …kinda makes ya realize just how fragile & transitory this existence is, huhhh ???…

    …sounds like a “chamois stainer”, senor…glad ya made it intact but it never should a’ been that close…‘a role a’ the dice’

  12. One time I came to a four way stop just as a Park Avenue rolled up at the cross street, coming in from the right. Car stops, then proceeds through. I’m trackstanding, waiting my turn like a good little boy.

    Car stops halfway through. Window rolls down. Some old broad who must have been ninety says, “What are you doing on the road? Don’t we have bike trails?”

    I shot right back-”What are YOU doing on the road? Don’t we have nursing homes?”

    In retrospect I actually felt kinda bad about it.

  13. Lincoln town car 1998 – 2002 “curb weight”: 4,467 lbs.
    It’s important to remember that most drivers were asleep in physics class. I’m just amazed we don’t smash into each other more often.
    Thank god for cantilevers.

  14. Worse than Tekro? Cannondale “Omega,” meaning, “If you need these to stop in a big fucking hurry it really will be the last.” Ultegra: nice with one likely life-saver already in the bag.

  15. Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given regarding riding a bike:

    Don’t look at the car. Look at the driver.

    I would caution you about your language in that situation. It’s understandable that you’d be upset but you never want to give someone a reason to leave the scene and then claim they did so for fear of their safety. Something to consider.

    Here in the A people think not running you over is driver courtesy.

    Keep ‘em sunny side up and between the ditches.

  16. Un-fucking real how people in cars will sometimes hold up traffic in order to let a family of ducks or turtles cross the road. Which, by the way, is totally cool. Live and let live. But these same shit heads won’t even consider giving a cyclist a little comfort room while passing, or in general for that matter. We’ve got to get the word out to our law makers and fellow citizens that bikes aren’t going away.
    To avoid a poorly written soapbox ramble, I’ll leave you with this. I’m glad you are ok D2. Have fun sucking at stickball!

  17. Glad you walked away from that on D2, It coulda been lots worse.

    @ike taylor, that is good advice. Watch the driver, make eye contact. As a person that lives on two wheels I have one rule of thumb: If you see a car, assume it is going to try to kill you. Every time. I sometimes defer to the automobile even if I have the right of way. Cars are big and metal and sharp, I am soft and fleshy. In head to head combat they gonna win every time.

    Case in point. Two days ago as I am headed to work on the motorcycle I see a fella in a bank parking lot headed for the exit of said parking lot. As it happens he is also on a collision course with yours truly. Now I have the right of way here but I notice he is showing no signs of slowing down. I start grabbing brakes. He finally did come to a stop but not before his car was fully extended out into the street and directly in my path of travel. Fortunately my preemptive braking worked and I come to a stop inches from his front fender.

    Whoo, talk about mixed emotions! First, fear and relief because shit, I almost got fucking killed there! Second, serious rage and anger because shit, I almost got fucking killed there!! I am just about to unleash a tirade of profanities and insults at this jackass but stop myself because I realize that even though he is the one who fucked up here if my tirade pisses him off he can still take my life with the push of a gas pedal. That easy. And he just might be the unstable, pscychotic type that would do just that.

    Be careful out there y’all.

  18. My leg is titanium fortified because some jackass in a 72 Olds decided that red lights and yielding right of way didn’t apply to him, even though I had a green, and both a helmet light and bike lights (Light and Motion race lights). Because dinner at Luby’s was more important to him than my life. At this point, I will do what gets me off the road and home safe. Most of the time that’s following the rules. Sometimes it’s not. I will follow the rules in visible situations when they keep me safe, and when motorists stop threatening my life I’ll follow the rules all the time. Eye contact with a motorist is not enough. Even if you make eye contact with them, expect that they will still do the thing that might kill you.

  19. Feel bad for you man.
    Coming down hill the other day, say about 25mph. A car does a u turn from the other side of the road and stops with it’s side facing me. As I swerve around the front of the car with my back wheel locked up, I see the woman is talking on her cell phone and applying makeup. Get a grip drivers, at least look around you when you are moving.
    Found a guy in the grass later on, had been buzzed by a car. Said it shocked him so he bailed onto the grass to save his ass. Seemed very shaken, but he and bike where OK.
    I know nothing of softball (I am English). Except that it is for Girls and the under fives ;)

  20. Odd you should feel that way about softball, Fletch. We here in The Land Of The Free feel the same about soccer. To each his own.

  21. ride like you’re invisible. never get comfortable. never let your guard down. sad to say, but you need to be a little paranoid when sharing the road with the beasts.

  22. I bought a helmetcam just so my friends and I could have fun filming and viewing our rides on or off the pavement. Nothing like a fisheye lens to make those alleyway shortcuts look like some kinda EnergyDrink-sponsored event. But lately I’ve been thinking that it might be a nice insurance policy to keep it permanently on the helmet and record every commute and bike ride in the city just in case some fukn dingdong comes along and decides today’s the day that I get to be the hood ornament.

    Not everybody on our side is a good guy and not everybody on their side is a bad guy, but it only takes that one bad guy and you’re all fucked up.

    Keep the rubber side down and stay between the ditches Pedal-Pumpers!

  23. I dunno, el jefe. Around here Municipal Stadium* usually has a pretty good crowd. But you’d have a hard time giving away soccer tickets. Like I said, to each his own. Some things just don’t translate.

    Home of the Hagerstown Suns**.

    **Yeah I know, “big whoop”.

  24. Just to clarify, the Suns aren’t a softball team. They’re a class A farm team for the Washington Nationals. But you get my point.

  25. …jeezus, el jefe…some guys will do ‘anything’ to ride titanium…

    …@otb…“…sad to say, but you need to be a little paranoid…”…a little ???…sheesh…i honestly don’t let it spoil my riding but my safety mantra has gotta be “ride paranoid – think survival” & i live in a relatively ‘safe’ riding environment…

    …too many “driver distractions” these days along with a general lack of focus & attention…

    …scary shit…

  26. …hey, joetheelectrician…

    …don’t the ‘hagerstown slacks’ play the ‘sansabelt loops’ in fast pitch softball ???…

  27. Huh? Hagerstown Suns, old sport. Regular standard baseball. Farm team for the Washington Nationals, a major league franchise based in our Nation’s capitol.

    And you can buy these great honkin’ cups of Yuengling at the stadium. Which in itself has always been reason enough to keep comin’ back.

    Fuck, what was we talkin’ about?

  28. Yeah, what the other dude said.

    Cars have not been 2000 pounds since the 80s…. unless you count the Smart car, which is not a car, but a motor scooter on 4 wheels with a roof. Not that I’m bagging on it. Just saying that is more of an anomaly than the norm these days. Heck, the new Jetta released this summer is 3300 pounds… as much as my 2002 A4 with quattro.

    Heh, chase him down…. in my city of Oakland, CA. cops wouldn’t even bother looking for him. You have to kill somebody to get the cops to put down their coffee and notice.