Bloodied, befuddled, bruised, but living, I arrived back home Saturday to cook for a dozen guests. It was after all my 10-month-old grandnephew’s day. This was his dedication — the UU version of a Christening, with a minister but without the trappings of removing demons or reserving a spot in the next world.
I escaped after being flung to the pavement with my bike by a hit-and-run driver in Stoughton.
The ride was an aging Boomer’s wont. I figured if I’d drink and eat well, I should sweat off calories in advance to earn it. The healthier choice might have been to sit on the deck and wash down junk food with beer. I don’t think crazed scofflaws would have driven to the back to get me.
Put me in the bucket of those with little tolerance for rants about how dangerous cyclists are — to pedestrians, cars, trucks, trolleys and themselves. Facts are that inattentive and even malicious drivers maim and kill others by the thousands every year. I’ve had my share and am tired of it.
About 15 years ago, an unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured young woman floored her car turning left and broadsided me. I can still hear the shouts and scream of the bystanders to her. She apparently was looking at and talking to her baby at the moment. The minimum-wage Filene’s clerk got a nominal fine and nothing else. I had broken fingers, a serious concussion and a ruined bike and helmet. The judge wouldn’t punish her and there was nothing to get were I to sue, said a lawyer.
A few years ago, one of those massive pickup trucks jumped a red light and hit me, also broadside. This was a damaged wheel and broken wrist.
Six days ago, I was only 10 or so miles from home when the hit-and-run coward clipped my butt and side mirror, knocking me with great force to Route 138. The cop who showed a few minutes afterward concurred that there was no way he didn’t see me and no way he would not have known he’d hit me.
Pix click trick: Click an image for a larger view.
For the obviousness factor, since I was hit by the clerk, I dress for safety. My bike is bright yellow. My helmet is metallic blue. I was wearing a bright orange shirt. I’m nearly 200 pounds and six feet tall. I have gigantic shoulders and chest. At 11:30 a.m. there I was in my colorful glory.
A few schools, including Harvard, have veritas (truth) as their motto. My cycling version could well be visibilitas (visibility). I’m not one of those arrogant loonies who wanders behind cars backing up in the store lot thinking, “Oh, he’ll see me.” I try to make sure drivers see me. In fact, one my cycling guidelines is not riding on a day when I wouldn’t be able to see the face of a truck or bus driver because of sleet or snow or rain, figuring the driver might not see me.
Yet there I was on 138 headed north. The police report says it happened at 217 Washington Street in Stoughton. That’s across from X&O, the restaurant/bar.
Many cars turn in there and my amateur wreck reconstruction would have me in the shoulder/bike lane to the right of the fog line. That’s where I travel whenever I can and there I can. I did not see the hit, but I sure felt it and the grapefruit-sized bruise on my left haunch as well as the destruction of my mirror at the same height suggest the side view mirror of the car did the damage.
That would put the driver maybe passing a left turner without looking ahead or to the right and coming over into the shoulder to hit me. It’s possible the driver did the damage without passing a turning vehicle, but I’ll stick with Occam’s razor on this one.
Wave the hands. Then magical things happen. Apparently I was either in shock or had a mild concussion. The next I recall is speaking to a nice and sharp and concerned Stoughton cop.
The magic was that according to the police report read to me today over the phone, I spoke with the fire department’s EMTs and the officer, whom I found out is Neal David. I refused a trip to the hospital, told them I did not see the car or driver or license number. I also provided my name, phone and other vitals as though I was functioning. I have no recollection of any of that.
I do remember speaking a bit with Officer David when I gained my awareness. He was angry and regretted not seeing the hit so there would have been no running. He’s not much for irresponsible scofflaws.
Perhaps I should have been checked out as a preventative, but really, short of bleeding brains (no helmet damage or other indicators) and the like, there’s not much an ER can do in such cases except consume 4 to 12 hours of your time. I had food to prepare, wine to chill, and clothes to dress myself in to assume the role of godfather
About two hours north on what appears to be a pretty undamaged bike, my head cleared more. I had images of being hit, but still didn’t see the car — I was compelled to the right and down away from the impact.
It was as I defogged that I was aware that I had not been aware. There was a missing block of minutes, while I appeared rational to the authority types. I suppose that’s what training and hormones can do.
I had a pretty ripped up knee, that big butt bruise with a lot of related muscle pain, and scrapes on my right forearm and elbow.
Calling today to find out the specifics that I did not recall, I had a brief fantasy. Officer David said that sometimes witnesses call in to report details. My thought was that the hit-and-run driver might not have been amoral and devoid of compassion. Perhaps as Polybius wrote, “There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.” and someone came forward to ‘fess up.
…wrong on both counts.
That’s a very busy stretch of road. Apparently I was in a heap beside the road, bleeding and dazed. No one ID’ed the driver and no one stopped to see to me. The timeliness of the police coming by was Stoughton’s humanity.
What could I expect. This was Stoughton, not Samaria.
Glibness aside, I could easily have died from being hit from behind by a one to two ton vehicle. That I was in the right would not have counted for anything. My death certainly would have inconvenienced and upset those gathering for William’s day.
It does little good too to ask what sort of person would drive inattentively? would hit and run? would leave a body in the road? I think we all know about disregard for others, poor upbringing, disdain for laws, and amorality. Such a person is not even worthy of cursing. Yet, part of me does hope that Polybius was right.
Tags: harrumph, harrumpher, safety, bicycles, drivers, Stoughton, hit and run, police