Hermits Rock

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After work yesterday I was walking from Gilbert Street toward a parking lot when I heard a crash and looked up to see a man wrapped around the hood of a car. It was dark, and he had been riding his bicycle on the sidewalk against the traffic. The driver hadn’t seen him. I ran into the street to stop oncoming traffic and to gather his bicycle, his backpack, and—as he bent down to pick it up, I realized—his front tooth from the street.

The bicyclist was dazed but adamant that he didn’t want to call anyone except his daughter, who soon showed up with a truck to load the bicycle into. I talked to him for a while and suggested that, at the very least, he call the police and file a report, which he did. The driver didn’t seem especially worried—if I had been in his place, I would have been more than a little freaked out—but he said he’d been a paramedic in Chicago, a job that I suspect inures one to almost anything. I waited around until the police came, then quietly left.

I don’t know what I think about the bicyclist’s stoicism. I didn’t find out much about him and don’t know whether he had any health insurance. Many people who don’t have it—and many who do—will allow injuries and illnesses to go untreated. It’s possible, too, that he was in shock and having a difficult time making decisions. In various similar scenarios I can even imagine myself doing the same. After all, why waste other people’s time by asking them to tell you that the best thing to do to heal is to go home and rest? But the tooth gets me. I don’t think I could be so matter-of-fact about losing a tooth. (I asked him about it. He grinned and said, “How do I look?” “Not very good,” I replied.) Losing a tooth would have said to me that this is a Serious Injury and that I need to see a dentist now. Perhaps that’s a reflection of my petit-bourgeois upbringing and the many, many hours I spent in reclined an orthodontist’s chair. Perhaps, too, it’s just not in my nature to be a hero in a Hemingway novel.

In other news, the battery on our car died. It was the car’s original battery and had nearly 12 years and 120,000 miles on it.



How did he get hit if he was on the sidewalk?

as an intermittent cyclist, few things get my blood boiling as adults on bikes on sidewalks and adults on bikes going against traffic…

1: The driver was pulling out of a driveway.

2: It’s legal to ride on the sidewalk in IC. However, it’s not particularly wise, nor is it a great idea to ride against traffic in the dark while wearing dark clothes.

legality and safety are two very different matters…

From Sixteen Safe Bike Behaviors

1. Wear a bicycle helmet each time you ride a bike.
3. Always look before changing lanes or turning.
5. Keep to the right-hand side of the road, with the flow of traffic.
6. Obey all traffic laws, including stop signs and stop lights.
8. Walk your bike across busy streets.
9. Always stop and check for traffic when leaving your driveway, alley, or sidewalk. Look left, then right, then left again before going on.
10. Cars and pedestrians have the right of way.
12. Wear bright clothing, to be seen while bike-riding.
13. Don’t ride at night, but if you must, put your headlight on.
14. Use your horn or bell to signal others of your passing.

I’ve always resisted safety rule #1 out of a combination of stupidity, laziness, and vanity. But now I have a good reason to disregard it.