At my son’s sporting events one of my common shouts is “No injuries!” Today I’m very thankful to announce I sustained no injuries when hit by a car.
Have you ever complained on the highway about how dangerous a vehicle going too slow is? In The Netherlands there’s an unwritten rule of life that you should “Act Normal”. Today I learned how dangerous being the odd-vehicle-out can be.
This could have been me:
The red-haired boy was riding his black bicycle home from school on the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2009. He was pedaling along the bike lane of First Station Street, when a truck made a right turn, into the bicycle’s path.
The boy was snagged by the truck’s rear axle and dragged for a few feet before the driver noticed the mangled bicycle in his sideview mirror. Twelve-year-old Hananja Konijn was pronounced dead the next morning.
Five days later, investigators closed the intersection.
Along with clipboards and cameras and measuring tape, they brought with them an 18-wheeler and a child-sized bicycle. Over and over, they maneuvered the two around the corner, recreating the all-too-common “right hook” accident in slow motion, each time adjusting the truck’s mirrors or the angle at which it struck the bike.
Biking is a huge part of our lives in Holland, so I’ve blogged about the rules, my bike wrecks and such. When I escorted our younger sons by bike this morning, I only saw them through the bad round-about. From there they have a straight shot on wide bike paths all the way to their school bike parking lot.
The thing is, 99.9% of the bike traffic on that circle in the morning is going straight, that is rounding across the intersection to continue straight (the 2nd exit) out of the circle. Not me. I gave the signal to cross the straight car path where vehicles are required to watch for bikers and yield right of way. But because my move was unexpected at this time of day, and because the driver of the little blue car was not even looking for a bike coming from that direction, I was headed into the road where a car was barreling through to their morning destination.
Almost in slow motion, I saw the driver’s blond hair, her huge sunglasses, and the fact that she wasn’t slowing down one bit as my front wheel entered the road. If she had been going slower, things would have been ugly.
I turned my front wheel just enough and watched as her bright blue back bumper knocked my wheel farther to right. My forward motion carried me off the bike path and up onto the curb of the sidewalk. The oblivious driver barreled on down the road.
Heart tight in my chest, I stopped to check my bicycle–amazingly the front tire was not bent out of whack. My only issue is the way my back tightened as I braced for probable impact. Might be a little sore–thank God for physical therapy exercises already in my toolbox.
Note to self: Doing something different? Apply extra caution.
Wish I always wore a Go-Pro so you could see the video of the glancing blow to my tire–it sure keeps playing over and over in my head.
Extra grateful to God today.
Kristin King is an author, publisher, mother of 4 sons, army wife, president of a nonprofit, and American expat living in Holland. She is still shaking her head over this mornings biking incident. Her first book is now being released chapter by chapter on Wattpad.