With all the bike riding in Japan, it’s inevitable that eventually, you WILL have a bike accident. It may be minor, but it will happen. Today, I helped a child learn that disobeying transit rules is not a good idea. Hopefully.
I’ll admit, back in the States, before I had the accident that made me a cyborg (read: required I get pins in my ankle), I was pretty reckless on my bicycle. I always went as fast as possible, I counted on people to get out of my way if I rang my little bell, and I didn’t avoid paths that required dexterous maneuvering. Granted, my accident had absolutely nothing to do with any of these things, but still, from then on, in my mind, bike + not being 110% cautious = sound of bones being crushed. Sometimes when I ride with others I wonder if they think I’m being anal for always transiting on the proper side of the street (meaning, with traffic rather than against it) even if it means having to recross a street, but I really, really would enjoy keeping the rest of my body intact. You can follow the rules and things will still pop up on you, so it’s better to at least follow the traffic rules.
So there I am, transiting all proper on the left side of the street. Had just taken a curve, was braking because the train was passing up ahead. There were cars to my right. I ride up alongside a bus and suddenly, little kid on a bike, 2 o’clock! He was going pretty fast too, doubtless trying to cross the street in a hurry before the traffic started moving again. I think I slammed on my brakes, but either way, it was too close: I broadsided the kid, we both went down, me on top. Luckily, nothing happened to either of us or our bikes. But good lord the kid gave me a scare! All I could think of as I scrambled to get up was “did I crush this kid? Is he bleeding? Did he break anything? If he’s seriously hurt, will I get the blame even though it was clearly the kid’s fault for dashing out from between cars?” With all those thoughts, all I did was ask him if he was alright, if his bike was okay, and was he sure. He hastily answered “daijoubu desu” (“I’m alright”) to all questions, picked up his bike, and rode away. Later I wished I had told him, “this is why you need to follow traffic rules.” I hope he learned the lesson anyway.
I’d rear-ended some high schoolers a few months ago, in a slightly different situation, but again, it was due to the kids being reckless. Two boys were riding side-by-side (violation #1) very, very slowly in front of me. So I look behind me, see that there’s no cars nor bicyclists coming, and speed up to overtake them. Suddenly, the boys decide to cross the street: no hand signals, not even a backwards glance. Violation #2. I knew if I slammed my brakes it’d end badly for me given how much speed I’d picked up, so I braked firmly but gradually. Still caught one boy’s rear wheel. That time, neither of us went down, thankfully. We just “sumimasen”ed and kept going. When I got home I found a plastic cap, probably from the pin holding the rear wheel to the gearbox from the kid’s bike, wedged into the spokes of my front wheel. I had a mind to be like the cantankerous people that call my school to complain about how my kids ride their bikes and call those boys’ school. ^o^; I didn’t, because I knew nothing would be gained by it. I’m convinced that when it comes to transiting, most people simply cannot learn but through the hard way. I can only hope that the hard way doesn’t need to involve great bodily injury to shake one up.
In happier news, I registered to join GACKT’s official fanclub! ^_^;