Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bicycles, accidents and police

Here is a story from the NY Times regarding a confrontation between a bicyclist and a police officer. While you are drawing your own conclusions I'll tell you a story.

On September 30th 2004, about 4 pm, I was riding my bicycle on Massachusetts Avenue from my home in Dorchester, that is I was heading into town. I had only just started riding again after the summer during which I was struggling with medication resistance and the damage that AZT had done to my bone marrow. It felt good. After months of thinking that life was over I was starting feel like there was a future and strength would return. I was exercising, I was out in the free air, I was also fairly weak still and being quite cautious.

I am a long time bike rider- I started riding racing bikes in 1964, and I always rode fast. I discovered in high school that the guys who bullied me started to back off when I started to pass them on the long straight road that lead to the High School. They were in cars, I was on my bike. My philosophy of bike riding is that the cars can't hit you if you are going faster than they are.

But on that day in 2004 I discovered a flaw in that reasoning. Mass Ave, as we call it, gets a little complicated in the area where the food markets, Melnea Cass Bldv. and the exit from the central artery all converge. there is a huge detour around the fire department buildings, unexpected one way changes and very odd traffic patterns. In my hay day this would have been a signal to sprint- and perhaps if I had things would have been different, but I was cautious. There is a sidewalk on the left hand side, and I slowed down, got on the sidewalk, and was proceeding cautiously. As I was crossing Gerard Street, quite properly in the cross walk, a car came full speed down Mass Ave, turned into Gerard Street, and plowed into me. So much for being cautious. These are my memories: I remember flying through the air, thinking an expletive about not being able to "get out of this;" I remember coming to in the ambulance, I called my brother, I am told, and remember the EMT saying the car was doing 30 mph when it hit me; I remember having my clothes cut off and then a doctor apologizing profusely about how long I was in the Emergency Room. I assured her it was my quickest trip to an ER ever, I had no idea that it was midnight and I had been there for 6 hours. That's it, no memory of anything else.

Weeks later, when I went to get the police report, thinking of a nice law suit, I discovered that the officer, of whom I have no memory, entered a report saying that the car had been parked and that I ran into it, and in addition that I had been belligerent toward him. No explanation of how it happened that the front and rear wheels of my bicycle had been bent sideways, or of how the hood and windshield of the car had been damaged. I say nothing about how an unconscious person expressed his belligerence.

So that is what I have to say about bicycles and the police!

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