Saturday afternoon was the closest I’ve come to being killed while riding my bike. I’ve ridden thousands of kilometres in a dozen countries around the world over the past 30 years and, while I’ve had some close calls, never have I felt luckier to be alive.
The ride, a loop from L’Orignal, up to Vankleek Hill, over to Fournier, then to Alfred and home again, had been mostly very pleasant. It was sunny, with a cool, fall-like wind, very little traffic, and I was feeling good.
On the homeward stretch, things changed.
First, a close call where Station Road merges onto northbound County Road 15 between Fournier and Alfred, one of my favourite stretches. Riding along County Road 15, just before the Station Road merge, a silver Buick buzzed past me on the right, its driver too anxious to allow me the three seconds it would have taken to clear his path. He had a stop sign; I didn’t, but rather than stop or even slow down, he accelerated. It was a dangerous manoeuver and it ticked me off, but no harm was done.
A little while later, though, riding eastbound along Concession 4 north of Alfred, I was approaching Bolt Road when I heard a roar to the right and a black Volkswagen Beetle blew through the stop sign of the T-intersection and made a left-hand turn at speed. If I had reached that intersection a few seconds sooner, an intersection shielded by trees on its west side, I’m certain I’d be dead. The driver wouldn’t have seen me, and wouldn’t have been able to stop. If another vehicle had been traveling along Concession 4, there would have been a frightful collision. It rattled me.
My wife and I and a group of our friends love riding the local country roads in the area, and clearly, lots of other cyclists love our roads too, as we see more and more every year. In my experience, the vast majority of drivers are courteous and respectful.
To those few exceptions, and you know who you are, I would say this: If you don’t care about the life or safety of others, if you believe the errand you’re on warrants the risks you are willing to impose on others, think about the pain that you will have to live with should you seriously injure or kill someone – anyone – through your carelessness, your recklessness, your stupidity.
In other words, if you can’t think about others, think about yourself; I’m sure you’ve had plenty of practice.
Mike Gasher, L’Orignal