Setting: A lovely spring day in 2007 in Somerville, MA
Where I was going: To volunteer, and I had traveled the bike route many times.
What else you need to know: Cambridge/Somerville/Boston all have narrow roads that narrow even more more and are quite dangerous with any construction at all.
On Somerville Avenue, 3 blocks from my destination, there were a lot of construction vehicles and literally nowhere to go on the road. There were detour signs and everything. I never bike on the sidewalks, because that’s against the law, but my destination was in plain view, and there were no pedestrians, animals, or sidewalk-based road signs in the way. I deemed it safe, and found myself within seconds laying on my back on the sidewalk with the wind knocked out of me and unable to breathe. When I finally opened my eyes, everything was blurry, and I was more confused than I remember ever being. Suddenly, a swinging port-a-potty door came into focus. I was doored by a port-a-potty and a stunned construction worker.
Setting: A lovely spring day in New York, NY (today)
Where I was going: Nowhere, really. Just standing on a street corner after work with my bike waiting for another friend to arrive via bike.
What else you need to know: I was on the phone, and people were around.
“WHAT WAS THAT?!” I yelled in the middle of my phone conversation. Something had hit my head hard, but I couldn’t tell what because I had a helmet on. People were staring. I removed my helmet to find bird poop all over it! The kicker: my hair was totally saved by the helmet!
The aftermath of each
Scenario 1: The construction worker and I stared at each other wordlessly for awhile, he finally said, “uh, are you ok?”, to which I squeaked out a clearly untrue “yes” and proceeded to slink away to the office. I had the wind knocked out of me for 20 minutes, and therefore cancelled my first client. I surely would’ve needed a hospital without the helmet.
Scenario 2: I started laughing in shock and looking around for confirmation from passerby-ers, who had less than a sense of humor than I did, got a girl to watch my bike, ran into a store and asked for a paper towel, explained what happened, got lots of thumbs up and words of encouragement to buy lotto tix, bought two $1 scratchoffs, and lost. All very funny, but it definitely wouldn’t have been if I wasn’t wearing my helmet!
Moral of the stories: wear a helmet; biking or not!