Today, I just missed witnessing an accident. I was heading home from campus, and I saw a cyclist standing up in the street and limping a little. Next to him was a car, stopped and blocking traffic. Curious about what had happened, I stayed to watch how they resolved it, and heard each side of the story in turn.
First, while the driver was parking, I heard the cyclist’s side. He was heading down the hill, when this car started parking right in front of him. I didn’t ascertain exactly how he went down; his bike wasn’t damaged in any obvious way. He may have just swerved out of the way of the car and changed direction too fast, throwing him to the ground. He seemed pretty pissed, but he quickly determined that he was all right, and rode off after telling the driver he was okay.
Then, I got to hear the driver’s side. He was a lot less coherent. He said he was slowing down to park, going only around 2 miles an hour, when this cyclist came flying down the hill and tried to slide between him and a parked car. He kept repeating, over and over, that the cyclist tried to fit between him and the blue parked car. He seemed pretty pissed.
Now, to be fair, I think this was both parties’ fault. The cyclist was moving really fast because the hill turns up quite suddenly, so having a lot of momentum there means that he wouldn’t have to work as hard going back up. I really suspect that if the driver had been using his turn signal, the cyclist wouldn’t have tried to pass him on the right. However, passing someone on the right is a rather bad move, especially in a one-lane situation. The cyclist should probably have slowed down.
In the end, it just goes to show that it sucks to be a cyclist in a driver’s world. You can get hurt really easily, and cars really don’t watch for you. And if you try to be really safe, you end up having to do quite a lot of physical pedal-pushing.