I was biking from home to Brother Juniper’s this morning to have lunch with a friend. I had previously biked to Empire Hair Studio for a much-needed shearing, so my legs were good and warmed up, despite the chilly temperatures today. It was a good ride east on Southern Avenue, and I rested for a moment at the intersection of Southern and Highland, waiting for the light to turn green. As it did, I pedaled through the intersection, heading north on Highland for one block to then turn right on Walker St.
Just as I was turning right, an SUV decided to turn left onto Walker out of the Domino’s Pizza parking lot. Apparently the driver didn’t see me, or just decided to ignore me. As we both attempted to enter Walker at the same time, I had to slam on the brakes. (The driver of the SUV made no similar attempt at stopping.) My rear wheel slid out to the left as I went into a skid. Fortunately, I managed to get my right foot on the ground before I tipped over. After a couple of awkward hop-steps, I stopped, upright, slightly shaken, but none the worse for wear.
This was my first true close call since I started biking almost five years ago. In and of itself, that’s pretty miraculous. I’ve heard some harrowing stories of life on the road from cyclists and non-cyclists alike. I do tend to be fairly defensive when I ride, stopping at traffic signals, not cutting between lanes full of cars, and so on. But all the courtesy and mindfulness will only get you so far. All it takes is one careless driver and you are on the ground.
I will note that I signaled my turn onto Walker for a good 3-5 seconds before I turned, pretty much the entire length of Highland north of Southern. Apparently my extended right arm was unnoticed or ignored. I don’t know. I’m just glad I was able to stop in time, and that the SUV driver didn’t decide to take the lane a few seconds after I did. That could have been ugly.
As it happened, Cort from The Peddler and Fix Memphis was walking west on Walker – say that five times fast – just as I nearly ate asphalt. So at least I got to impress a fellow cyclist with my mad skidding skills.
So that’s my first close call story. Please share yours in the comments. I’d love to read them. Also, be safe out there, and beware of SUVs bearing pizza. (Seriously, did it have to be an SUV? Did I really need another reason to not trust them?)