A few weeks back I got hit by my first SUV during my daily commute. Luckily, I didn't get hurt but the timing and circumstances were rather auspicious. Just that morning I had shared stories of bike accidents and the normal trials of my daily commute. See, Alina and I have a route that while not the safest nor most dangerous ride on the west-side, it is certainly prone to road rage and idiocy. Two streets in particular, Barrington and Ohio, regularly feature cars not noticing that they are on a bike route. Ohio serves for many west-siders as an alternative to Santa Monica Boulevard. What this means is that cars treat it like a major thoroughfare when it is, in fact a two lane roud complete with stop signs and driveways. The culprit for my moment of impact was a silver Lexus SUV that was attempting to take a right turn on Federal Ave. Normally, we cyclists look for such signs as slowly swerving towards the curve or ::gasp!:: a directional signal of some sort. This Lexus did nothing of the sort and slowly drove right into me. The driver had a look of panic on his face when he heard the sound of my bike colliding with his door. He did not stop to see if I was ok (the nerve!), and continued to drive.
I'm sorry: whenever a driver realizes that he or she has hit a cyclist, they have a minimum obligation to stop and ensure that the cyclist has no real injuries. My shoulder hurt for a good three days after that accident. Not two days later another SUV pulled out of a driveway on Ohio without looking both ways and nearly hit me. This time I had enough time to yell, "WATCH OUT!" and avoid an accident. But seriously, people, is it that hard to treat moving vehicles like moving vehicles? I know we bikes are smaller, but the street in question is a popular bike route!
Needless to say, I've been much more paranoid on my rides. Maybe it didn't help that I recently spend a weekend sharing memories of a deceased friend and cyclist. Or maybe it's that the drivers are losing their sense of sharing roads. I try not to think of my riding as a full-contact sport, but sometimes I wonder.