Before anyone worries, I’m ok minus a little whiplash (no fun). Just completely shaken up.
I was biking to work (as I like to do 1-3 times per week) and was in the Sixth Avenue bike lane. The lane is on the left side of the road, and I ride super defensively on it because a lot of cabs and trucks pull into the bike lane at rush hour. It was about 8:45am, and I was biking a normal speed.
As with anything, it happened quickly. I was next to a truck – a tractor trailer – and definitely behind the tractor and alongside the trailer. The driver seemed to be going normal speed, and I did not see a signal light on the tractor before he lurched towards a clear block of curb to the left and in doing so, hitting me on the right. Luckily, I did not fall off, but I screeched to a stop and yelled (bells don’t help here) hoping he’d see me and not continue. We made eye contact through his side mirror, and he pulled up a little onto the curb and rolled down his window. I was yelling to stop and how scary that was and he’s lucky I wasn’t really hurt and to watch before he just decides to go into the bike lane and to use his signal.
He replies “yea, I bet that was scary.” with a distinctive tone of mockery and blame. There is absolutely no way I misheard that. He and the guy in the passenger seat made no move to get out, and I was so upset and shaken and in disbelief that I wheeled my bike out around the tail of the trailer and back onto the road. As I was doing that, I noticed a small crowd of people who had been watching the whole situation. I saw some looks of astonishment, and heard someone say “what a jerk” and someone else say “at least she’s fine”, and once I started wheeling away, folks dispersed. Not that there was particularly something someone should have done, but it was a definite bystander problem where nobody wanted to step forward and offer assistance or eyewitness or support. If anything, it confirmed that I was a victim here.
As I started biking forward, I realized I couldn’t (safely) because I was far too shaken. I got off my bike and took a photograph of the license plate on the tractor:
I also took a picture of the truck, but must have been far too flustered because it didn’t save on my iphone.
The guys, meanwhile, had gotten out of the truck (parked in the bike lane and curb) and proceeded to begin unloading their goods without any follow-up. I yelled to them from the front of the truck “Not even an apology? No regret about that?” No response. Had this been a case of sincere blind spot, human nature and many past instances of accidents (for instance, a passenger exiting a cab without looking) lead me to believe that a sincere apology would have been issued. I felt unsettled and a little bit afraid, so I left.
How stupid of me not to get their information! Or the truck company! Or anything! Or to call from the scene. But when you’re a victim in a hostile situation, the last place you want to be is there. Plus, I didn’t want these guys having MY information… what if they were actually as heartless as it seemed? I called the police, and they said that since I left the scene, the best I could do was go into an NYPD office in the next 10 days and file a civilian report. I will do that, but I don’t think it will do much, so I’m hoping that anyone who cares about bike safety will share with others to at least raise awareness.
I was so super lucky that the angle of impact was what it was and didn’t cause more injury; not everyone is so lucky. Just because I’m ok doesn’t mean that this isn’t a big deal.
Some key takeaways here:
- Being a victim often means having to suck it up and move on, because there’s not much you can do about it and it’s scary and nobody really helps you.
- Bike lanes in the city are both a blessing, because it’s a lane with special designation, and a curse, because there are so many obstacles in them and disrespect for them.
- Human nature can be a bit disheartening sometimes.
- Facebook can be an incredibly supportive platform, and people have great advice. From one friend: “People blame victims all the time. The driver mocked you because I’m sure he was telling himself, ‘If I had been in her shoes there wouldnt have been an accident,’ or, ‘it was completely her fault, not mine.’ That doesnt mean it wasnt his fault!” From another friend: “If down the road it turns out your injuries were more serious, you won’t be able to get compensation from his insurance if you don’t report. Bonus: he will be forced to tell his family and friends why he is in trouble, and then they will know he is a douche. ” All good, helpful thoughts, especially when you’re flustered and alone.
- A final note from a friend: Man, it is so disheartening that none of the witnesses stood up for you. Let’s all pledge not to be passive bystanders if we see something bad happen. YES.