Most days I am happy to be alive. On other days, I am really happy to be alive. A few days ago, I had one of those "really happy" days. Once you read this blog you will understand why the "really happy" days are a blessing in disguise. Suffice it to say the fewer of those particular days the better.
I was coming back home from a bike ride. It was late in the day and while the light was still good, the temperature was dropping and I was getting cold. Needless to say, I wanted to get home and get warm as soon as possible. Those who truly understand the term "situational awareness" know that external factors which make us behave differently from our normal patterns is a sign of danger.
Luckily, I seem to understand "situational awareness" well enough to still be treading this planet. As I neared a busy intersection I was intending to go straight through. There was a big SUV in my lane attempting to turn left and blocking my view of oncoming traffic. Legally, since I was proceeding straight through the intersection any oncoming traffic attempting to turn left has to yield to me and my 22lb (world heaviest titanium bicycle) road bike.
But, because of the SUV in my lane attempting to turn left I couldn't see if there was any oncoming traffic wanting to turn left. I was going about 20mph entering the intersection, but because I didn't have a clear view of the entire situation, I slowed way down to about 5mph. Sure enough, as I passed the SUV on the right, an oncoming car turned left. Since I was going slow enough, it was easy to stop and avoid a collision. The turning car driver never even looked in my direction to see if there was anyone coming.
My actions may seem like a no-brainer, especially if you ride defensively and have good "situational awareness". However, I continue to hear more and more about car-bike accidents in my area and I end up asking myself, even if the car driver was at fault, was the accident avoidable?
The bottom line is that bikes end up on the losing end, in a big way, in collisions with cars. It is best to ride defensively, especially in traffic or areas where confusion is the rule rather than the exception. Be careful out there! It is better to have "really happy to be alive" days than no days at all!