Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Something awful happened to me!

OK, not really, but my readers seem to have eaten up the bike-stealing episode, so I decided to headline everything now with details of horrible proceedings. I could be a journalist:

Pet dog nips toddler's hand in food bowl

becomes

Baby eaten alive by Flesh-Mangling Chihuahua!

Shortfall in 50-year revenue projections for Social Security

becomes

Social Security's Utter Collapse Imminent!

Actually, on the bike thing, there is an upside. I test-rode a new basic bike yesterday and the new $150 bike seems to be worlds better than my old $350 one. The bike guy says that the technology has just gotten better since I bought the old one about 9 years ago. Well, good. I was able to move faster with less work and more comfort last night than my old bike ever did. However, that of course may change once we install a toddler seat and a toddler on the back. The breaks were even better too. I had a sort of love/hate relationship with my old bike. The feelings were pretty predictable, though.

I am driving through the bike lane past all the cars sitting in traffic on a lovely sunny day with the temp around 75 - love it!

I am pumping madly at the pedals going up a steep hill while the rain pours down on me - hate it!

I actually also got in a wreck on it last Fall too. Some car pulled in front of me and I had to slam on my breaks to avoid it, flipping over. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to catch myself with my face. The police wanted to call the ambulance, but I declined, because I could not afford it. They said I would need stitches within 24 hours, so N drove me to the Emergency Room. At the time, I was pretty happy with Queen's Medical, because all these people were there to help me. The doctor, the technician who performed the requested CAT scan to make sure my head was OK, the nurse who did the X-rays on my chest, the nurse who cleaned my wound, etc. In the end, I was OK. I had a bunch of superficial scratches on my face and hand, and a deep one on my chin, which required 5 stitches. So, not a big deal in the end, I needed a few stitches, and I was good to go. Or so you would think. The bill comes - $4400. It was really annoying when they send you this bill for $4000, and then the doctor's bill, who actually gave the stitches, arrives later. I can't afford health insurance, so this was all out of pocket. (For those of you concerned, N, through her work, and B have health insurance; it is just me who does not. But I do have some life insurance. Hmmm....) So in the end 5 stitches - 4400 dollars. I didn't tell this story to family before - the whole in-a-wreck-going-to-emergency-room thing, because after telling it over and over again at school, you get tired of telling it.

It is good that I ride my bike around in order to save money.

For people who think of riding a bike in traffic, here are my tips:

1) It is not the cars on the road with you that are a danger, it is the cars turning. Many of them don't see you on the road or the sidewalk, and some who do see you seem to think it doesn't matter.

2) Speed. It is not how fast you can comfortably go without losing control; it is how fast you can stop. A car will pull in front of you at some point when you are going down the hill. Can you stop in the 5 feet they give you? (This was my mistake in the wreck. I should have assumed some college kid was gonna pull out in front of me, and they did.)

3) When travelling along the sidewalks, you are no safer than on the road, because, again, the dangerous cars are the turning ones, and they don't look at the sidewalks.

4) Imagine you are on the sidewalk of a main street. A car is waiting on a side street to turn into the main street. If the car is being driven by someone under the age of 22, assume they do not know you exist, and just stop and wait for them. Do not cross the side street until they have gone. This is doubly true if they have anyone else in the car with them. Why? Because they indeed do not see you.

5) With people over the age of 22, don't go in front of them until they literally look you in the eyes. Most of them are too frantically looking for the first break in traffic to dart their car out that they could care less about you.

6) Assume that your city's traffic engineers gave almost no thought to bikes on the roads. My favorite in Honolulu for a while was this bike lane that went across a bridge out of Waikiki. Great, right? The problem? Not a single road leading to the bridge has a bike lane, and it's a $60 ticket for riding on the sidewalks.

Have I complained enough? I do like my bike though. Easy parking, right next to wherever you are going, get good exercise just getting around, lose weight, develop heart and muscles, breeze in the hair, etc.

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