Tuesday, March 09, 2010

commuting fail

Weather has been nice so it was incentive to kick me in the ass and get me back into riding my bike to work because I am a slacker.

I made it halfway to work this morning and next thing I know I am catching some air and landing on the pavement in the middle of the street.

What happened? I was coming down Asylum St. (heading east) making my way towards the center of Hartford and a car got a little too close to me. This is a stretch (between Flower St. and Broad St.) were Asylum opens back up from one lane to two lanes (it is two lanes from Woodland St. east to Sigourney St. and then necks down to one lane up through Flower St.). The right lane being a turning lane and the left lane being a left turn and straight lane. Seeing as downtown was straight I wanted to go straight.

I was about a foot off the white line and followed the white line (it pulls away from the curb to create the left lane) into the new left lane. I do this every time I ride to work, except today I was being extra cautious leading up to this event. What do I mean? I stopped at every red light and stopped within traffic like a car so people could see me. I did not weave in and out of traffic even if traffic was slower than I could ride.

Just prior to the 'event', we were at a red light. The light turned green and I started riding. Once I got up to a comfortable speed I pulled out of traffic and towards the white line (cars were going faster than I was). As I followed the white line into the new left lane a car got a little too close to me (no three foot law being obeyed today). My speed was probably inside of 10mph and the car's speed was inside of 20mph.

I had a passenger side mirror tangle itself with my handlebars only after it got me in the left thigh (which gave me a Charlie Horse for the better part of the morning). My balance was now off so I was kind of pushing off the car to help me keep my balance. Once I found the back of the car I had nothing to keep me upright (my balance was still off) and I fell. I landed on my back but my Bailey Works Super Pro cushioned my fall (and somehow did not destroy my eyeglasses that were in my bag). My bike flew out from me and landed on the other side of the yellow line. My left shoe (Vans slip-ons) was on me but my right Vans was stuck in my toe-clip and I was shoe-less.

Yes, I was riding my track bike. Yes, I was brakeless. Either way, a bicycle that can coast and has brakes would not have made a difference in this case.

I got up and grabbed my things and moved to the sidewalk. I felt fine and did a once-over and realized I was okay. No blood no pains anywhere. The driver of the automobile stopped. Another bicyclist going the other direction stopped. Said something along the lines of "Whoa! I saw all of that!" and when I started looking around (after I got to the sidewalk) he was no where to be found. Cars that witnessed it kept on driving. Got to love rush-hour morning traffic.

Somehow my front wheel taco'd and my tubular tire flew off. The impact of the ground also cut up the left side of my beautiful cork tape job. I was pretty upset knowing that I had the right of way and was doing just about everything correctly.

The road where the event occured. I was traveling from left to right in this picture.

You can kind of see how the road opens from one to two lanes up just past the traffic light.

In the end, I was compensated for the wheel, tire and handlebar tape without having to involve the police or the automobile driver's insurance. I was also driven home so I could clean up and drive my car to work. Got to work really late.

Tomorrow we are riding off-road after work (Finally! the trails are dry.).

Thursday I will try my luck at riding to work again, albeit a route that is slightly less traveled by automobiles and on a different bicycle. The difficult part is that there are a handful of arteries that run into Hartford from the west. Since the city is divided by the Connecticut River running north to south I have a handful of locations to cross the river. The largest, and safest, sidewalk is the Rt2 bridge (where I was going) but that is in downtown Hartford. This requires me to take one of the main arteries into the city which is also chock full of automobiles and people that have no idea how to drive when there is a bicyclist on the road or not.

Hartford, and Connecticut have to do something about bettering their infrastructure for bicyclists. Asylum St. was great for about a week or two when they took the two lanes and made them one lane with a huge shoulder. I was a great bike lane. The CT DOT quickly realized that one lane causes too much congestion so they ground up the new paint stripes and brought it back to two lanes. I've never been happy about that.


Blogger eliza lou said...

Holy crap......I'm glad you were able to walk away.

3/10/2010 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Little Brotha said...

so..... bike with no brakes ehhh. you use your feet flinstone style. hahaha. like long boarding.

3/10/2010 1:43 AM  
Blogger Ohio Robb said...

rubber side down Doug. Glad you're okay and getting to ride dry trails.

3/10/2010 9:17 AM  
Blogger Brendan said...

Actually, it was the Hartford DPW that made and got rid of the bike on Asylum the year before last. There were a million complaints and we caved to suburban drivers.

I'm not very happy about it.

3/11/2010 10:07 AM  

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