Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cops, Cars and Crashes

I, unfortunately do not reside in a cycling friendly area. A few months ago, I moved out of downtown Tacoma (aka Grit City) into the desolate off ramp tideflat known as Fife, WA. While Tacoma is by no means a cycling Mecca, Fife is a virtual cycling hell. Bike lanes to nowhere, shoulderless roads and tons of clueless drivers just passing through on their way to the next gas pump (of which we have many in this wondrous town). Admittedly, my new locale does enable me to do a relatively easy car/bike hybrid commute to work in the morning, but that and the reasonable rent are the only two positive aspects of this off ramp cum "city." I guess there is the world famous Poodle Dog where they served country fried anything.

In any case, I try to get out and ride from my front door as much as possible. This involves a handful of luck and a lot of faith in a god I don't normally believe in in order to complete the sprint from my apartment complex and across the railroad tracks to where the road widens.
Last week, I took my 925 out for a shakedown run after I had changed out my track cog for a more commuter friendly gear ratio. All was normal for the first mile or so of the ride until some guy in a Jeep Liberty drifted into oncoming traffic and POW! He plowed right into an oncoming semi truck.

Now, I've been riding for a lot of years and I've seen a lot of car accidents (I may have caused a few, who knows?), but I've never been privy to anything quite this bad while on the bike. So, I thought I'd be a good Samaritan and offer to stick around until the cops came to take statements since all the drivers who had witnessed the wreck were more concerned with getting home and watching "My Big Redneck Wedding" than if the driver of the Jeep was OK. The driver of the semi truck informed me that he had called 911 and I said that I'd stick around to make a statement.
Ironically enough, the accident happened in front of, what else, a semi truck shop. One of the chubby mechanics came waddling out, waving a fat index finger in my direction.

"Was he swerving to miss YOU?" Fat Mechanic asked while poking a fat finger my way.
"No asshole, but nice observation," I shot back.
"What did you call me?"
"An asshole," I re-stated.
"Why'd you do that?"
I curtailed my response to head shake because I thought Fat Boy was going to break into tears. I guess nobody had ever called him an asshole before. But in reality, the guy was an asshole. I'm sorry that I had to be the guy to shatter his dream of being a nice fucking guy. I hope he cried himself to sleep that night.

It took the Fife Police Dept. nearly an hour to show up to the accident scene. I guess it must have been 2 for 1 chicken fried steak hour at the Poodle Dog. The cops asked the Fat Mechanics Group if they had seen the accident, they said "no" but they figured that the Jeep must have swerved to miss the guy on the bike. I raised a single finger salute in their direction to ensure that they were aware that I was their Number 1 fan.

At first the cops walked by me four or five times. Because as we all know, the guy on the bike couldn't possibly know anything. Finally, one of the cops asked me if I had seen what happened.
I replied that I really didn't enjoy looking at wrecked Jeeps while freezing my ass off, so yes, I had seen the whole thing.

"Was the driver of the Jeep swerving to avoid you?" was the first question out of the cop's mouth.

I explained that the Jeep had over taken me about a quarter mile previously and that I had no idea what made him drift over. The cop looked skeptical. It HAD to be the cyclist's fault right?
Officer Copper asked me for an ID. He was shocked when I produced a driver's license from my wallet. I don't know what he was expecting--forklift certification I guess.

I've been told by three different police officers in three different cities in this state that bikes shouldn't be on the road. We belong on the sidewalk. I'm hoping that means that the local police department will be responsible for the damages if I mow down some innocent old lady out walking her hairless miniature dog because I was riding on the sidewalk.

Maybe instead of concerning themselves with those pesky bikes on the road, the cops should be out protecting and serving rather than harassing and pissing off.
So, I guess I'd like to say to the Tacoma, Bellingham and Fife Police Departments: I had nothing to do with the head on on 70th Ave and Levee Road and I salute you....with one finger.

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