Thursday, November 20, 2008

What would you do

This past weekend I met a fellow cyclist who recently had been struck by a car. He was riding downtown and as he was signalling to merge from the right lane into the left lane to turn, he made eye contact with a motorist just behind him in the left lane (the driver later will say he didn't see him). He then made his move and as he did so, the driver gunned it apparently trying to deter the cyclist from getting in the lane ahead of him. Unfortunately, the driver misjudged and struck the cyclist. Luckily he wasn't hurt badly. What was even more shocking was the driver's reaction - he got out and started yelling at the cyclist who was lying on the ground writhing in pain and trying to get out of harm's way. The police arrived and did not even issue a citation for rear ending the cyclist. Incredible! I'm sure this would be a different story if there were two cars involved instead of a bicycle and a car.

Even more incredible is that the cyclist did not pursue further legal action. The cyclist had the driver's information as well as several witnesses who could vouch for the driver's negligence. Why wouldn't he want to pursue a case - he had evidence - lots of it. I asked him and was surprised by his answer that he didn't really have much damages to recover against the driver. I assume he was talking about financial damages because in my opinion, he had damages. He experienced a lot of physical pain resulting from the trauma of being hit by a car as well struggling thereafter with a phobia of riding in traffic.

I'm not sure what I would do if I were in his situation. I would like to think that I would endeavor to pursue any and all legal courses of action to raise awareness of the issues that cyclists increasingly face as more and more start riding and protesting the unavailability of bike lanes, lack of enforcement when traffic laws are violated by cyclists and motorists, as well as safety concerns. In the wake of the election and in anticipation of the new administration, transportation is in the spotlight. Now is the time to mobilize and stand together. Lives are and will continue to be at risk and so is our emotional well being. I myself have been buzzed and cut off countless times and believe me, it's always difficult to keep riding after such a close encounter. But still, I'm curious, what would you do if you got hit by a car and only had minor injuries? And for those of you who have been hit, what did you do?