Friday, January 2, 2009

The kid with the bike who broadsided the cab

Official company policy is that every accident be reported and fully documented. Reality is different. For one reason or another, many accidents do not get reported and are only informally documented. 2 immediately come to mind.

The first one was a guy who was absolutely intent on racing past me on the right and passing me. You know the type, every traffic light is the Christmas tree at a drag strip for them. I don't approve of this kind of thing, the street may be their playground, but it's where I work, and it's dangerous enough without that kind of thing. The guy was in a right turn lane, that vanished into a row of parked cars along the curb on the other side of the intersection. I had 2 or 3 people in the back seat. When the light changed, he floored it. I went through the intersection, and almost immediately it was obvious that if I didn't slam on the brakes and/or change lanes to let him swerve in front of me, he was going to rear end the first parked car, and/or hit me in the process. While I was giving this a moments thought, he swung his car into the cab, just like they do in stock car races. I couldn't believe it! He hit me on purpose. Now I was definitely going to let him by, because I was going to get the cops and needed to keep him in sight. He pulled over almost immediately, jumped out of the car, and started screaming that I'd sideswiped him and I was at fault.

Ah, we need to get the cops for this. He's screaming that this car belongs to a dealership, and it is indeed wearing a dealers tag, and he's a car salesman. Right, and the only good thing about a car salesman is he's not on welfare. I take a look at both cars, and I can't find any damage. How did that happen? I consult with the passengers in the back seat and we vote for telling this idiot that since there is no damage we are willing to let the issue drop, if he is. He agrees, but I do get his name, and the license number, and the names and phone numbers of the passengers, just in case. Yes, people really do such silly ass shit. Of course, the names and numbers are always given to Roy Boy, and he's always agreed with my judgement that it was better to not call the cops that time, what ever time it was.

The second time was a bit more serious. It was a foot ball Saturday night, and I had a load of drunk football fans in the cab. The intersection of Randall and University has always had a light, and everybody turns there, but a slick cab driver will go straight through that intersection and turn on Lorch which is only 80 feet up the street, without waiting behind 6 or 8 civilians who are turning on to Randall. One then turns left on Campus, and right on Randall, no waiting. There is an eastbound bike lane along the left side of University. University a westbound one way street. On the left side of University is an oncoming, or eastbound, bike lane that's seperated from street by a largish curb that's about 10 inches wide. Just as I was turning across the bike lane at Lorch, into the head lights came a student on a bike who was doing at least 20 mph. There was no way he'd stop, I was already in front of him, he was boxed by the curbs on both sides of him in the bike lane, and my only prayer was to floor it and try to clear the bike lane before he got there. I didn't make it. He hit the rear quarter panel on the passenger side right behind the rear axle and flew over the trunk lid, landing on the pavement on the drivers side of the cab. I stopped immediately of course.

The kid with the bike, who was of course unhurt, was hopping mad. I pulled in front of him he said, it was my fault he said, what was I going to do about his bike!!!!!!! His bike looked pretty bad, he was for sure losing the front tire, and front fork. It also looked like a very expensive bike, I never found out if it was or not.

It was true that I pulled in front of him. In the dark, it was impossible to see him in that bike lane. He had no head lamp of any kind. I pointed up at the bike lane yield sign and said, "That yield sign is there for your safety, you ignored it. You have no light on your bike. Would you like me to call the police?" I held the mike for the radio up for him to see, and continued, "If the police come and determine that you're at fault you will be required to pay for the damage to the cab. Do you have insurance like that?"

We bickered for a few minutes, mostly him grumbling. He knew he would be found at fault if the cops came and got involved. I took his name, he did not take mine. Then he stalked off into the night, carrying his twisted bike over his head. I got the names and phone numbers of all 4 drunks in the cab, a bunch of good old boys from northern Wisconsin, down in Madison to whoop it up for the weekend.

Again, Roy Boy agreed with my judgement that any kind of accident with a bike, was something that should be avoided if possible. He took the list of names and numbers, the body shop repaired the quarter panel, the kid probably got his bike replaced at Christmas, and life went on. I don't know about happily ever after, but life went on.

1 comment:

Skyring said...

You know, I was just thinking last night about the number one thing I'd like the cops to do, and that would be to get night bicycle riders to show lights, as bright and flashing as possible.

The bike riders might be able to see cars with headlights blazing (though your experience indicates otherwise) but the reverse is not true.

Bike riders glide through the streets, grey shadows in the gloom, and when they get hit by car drivers, of course they don't blame themselves.

No, it's the blind/idiot/murderous cabbie.