I’ll be traveling most of this week beyond the Potomac and even the Blue Ridge Mts. And while I know that I won’t be bothered even in the cities I visit by sidewalk bicyclists, I am putting a note on my smartphone to remind myself to start being alert the minute I get out of the airport and the Metro when I come back home. I’m doing this because of something that happened Saturday early afternoon, which just shows me how easy it is to forget the danger on our sidewalks and how easy it is to get hurt.
I spent Saturday morning in the Central Business District, which you may remember is the one place in DC that bicyclists are prohibited from riding on the sidewalk, although even there the law is not always enforced. Anyway I spent the morning doing one errand after another and, although there was plenty of auto and bicycle traffic, they were all where they were supposed to be, in the street. And all the bicyclists were stopping at red lights, following the proper direction of traffic. So, after a morning there, when I took the bus back to my Dupont neighborhood, I guess I was lulled into a false sense of security because, as usual on a weekend, there was less traffic on 16th and Q and with rain-threatening skies,fewer bikers. What could go wrong?
I decided that, after dropping my briefcase and package off in my apartment, I’d go back out to pick up something at Safeway. When I got to the main 16th Street sidewalk, I remembered to look both ways, and saw only a couple of guys walking together coming my way so I turned left on the main sidewalk toward Corcoran, but not 25 feet into my walk, I saw a car, which looked like it was going to come up the driveway that serves the apartment building there. So I stopped, but then realized the driver was just using that bit of drive to turn his car around to go south on 16th. By then the two guys I had seen walking were almost next to me and I began to move around the car to continue my walk. But I FORGOT TO LOOK BEHIND ME ONCE MORE. In that brief time two sidewalk bicyclists had come up behind us all and, without a word to any of us, raced in the small space between us and nicked me with an elbow (I think, since it happened so fast). They continued up 16th on the sidewalk, rejoining in a side by side formation, which would prevent anyone walking from entering that sidewalk until they were past. One more step and I would’ve been more than nicked. And what if the auto driver had been coming up the driveway instead? At the speeds they were going they never could have stopped.
And yet, I blame myself for getting nicked. I know better. But, for all I write for you and say to myself, I was lulled into a false sense of security. And so, I conclude by saying once again, as stressful as it may be. STAY ALERT. STAY SAFE. and STAY ALIVE.