I’ve been telling people for a while, since my last bike accident, that I’ve driven a bike in New York every day for four years and only been knocked off my bike twice. I thought that was good odds. I may have spoken too soon.
I was on my way to drop off a client’s computer, and then I would be on my way home. Normally, I ride up York or First Avenue to 71st Street, which I take all the way across and enter Central Park at 72nd. Today, since I had to stop at 86th and Park, I thought I’d take First Avenue all the way to 85th (fewer hills, and a bike lane on First). A police traffic van was blocking the left lane, though–not just parked but driving very slowly, slower than I can ride my bike. I was in a bit of a hurry and annoyed so I decided to turn at my usual 71st Street and take Park Avenue up to 86th. Perhaps that was a mistake. At the very next intersection, I approached the red light cautiously, watching the parked cars for signs of a door about to be opened. What I wasn’t watching carefully enough were the cars stopped at the light. As I drove beside one of these, the passenger door opened right on my handlebars, bending the metal mirror post and sending me sideways into a parked van. I toppled over and my right knee took the brunt of the fall. I immediately turned to see that little m was all right. She looked at me, startled, and as I picked up the bike she looked as though she would start to cry. I cooed at her and checked her arm for injury. Thankfully, she had none. The man who had opened the door actually got out of the car to make sure I was all right, and a runner who had passed seconds before came back to check on the both of us. I ignored them until I was able to check little m completely. I pulled up her sleeve. She didn’t even have a scratch on her. I kissed her on the nose and she smiled up at me. She must be getting used to this, I thought.
The man who had opened the door was holding an empty Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee cup. I think he had opened the door so that he could dump the ice on the ground, and he just wasn’t looking where he was going. I, too, should have been paying attention, and probably should not have been riding between the cars. Even though that’s what I’ve been doing for four years, I know I’ve been lucky up to now. There’s no way to predict when a door will open on you.
I took little m off the bike while I checked out my own injuries. A construction worker who had seen me last week riding in the rain stopped to chat about my bike. He hadn’t seen the accident at all, but when I told him what happened he shook his head. “We just need more bikes on the road so they pay attention to us,” he said. “The fact that this is the first time you’ve been doored shows how well you pay attention while you ride. That’s good.” I should pay better attention, I thought. He offered first aid supplies that he thought he’d have on his work site, but I told him I thought I was okay. “Not for you, for her,” he said, smiling down at little m. She backed into my chest and shyly smiled at him. What a coy little one.
I’m now nursing a bruised and stiffening leg and a sore left shoulder. I hope this doesn’t affect my June 5th Israel Day run.