Last year when Pinky Swear produced “Killing Women,” a play about female assassins, everyone involved with the production was asked for a funny way to describe how they’d die. It was cute and made for a little kitsch in the program. Mine read something like, “Will catch 3-inch heels on her bike wheel, take out a group of drunken hipsters, and plummet to a watery death in the Potomac.” Hahaha. I was only partly joking.
My biggest fear as a city dweller has increasingly become getting into a bike accident. These seem not only to happen frequently in D.C., but with extreme consequences to the bikers. If a car taps you while you’re in another car, you may get a bit of whiplash, but chances are if you’re wearing your seat belt, you are going to be okay. If you are on a bike and a car taps you, chances of you flying over your handlebar and breaking something major are fairly good.
I remember going to a hipster party in the late summer, which naturally culminated in a bunch of bikers. When I looked around the party, which was maybe only 40-50 people strong, more than one person was in a cast. When I asked them what happened, they all had (roughly) the same story: hit by a car while on a bike. Well, one of them was actually doored. This is why so many cyclists avoid the bike lanes. In D.C., the streets are so narrow that the bike lanes sit right up against parked cars, and if you happen by at the wrong time while someone is opening his or her door… Boom. Hospital. This is why so many of us bike on sidewalks or in the street, much to the dislike of cars and pedestrians. But when it comes to the difference between getting honked at and getting run over, I’ll take the honking, thank you.
Now here’s where it gets scary. Even the most experienced, well-protected cyclists get hurt. An acquaintance of mine, who is an expert cyclist and does all the right things, was badly injured about two months ago. He did everything correctly: light, helmet, etc. Got clipped by a car, which pushed his face directly into a median. Broken ribs, broken arm, broken face. His face was truly busted. And it was a hit and run – they never found the driver.
Rumors have also been circulating about a strain of muggers who whack cyclist off their bikes mid-ride by hitting them with a plank or board in order to steal their money, thus badly injuring the cyclist. Ugh. After hearing this story from two different people, I tried to Google it, but to no avail. Is this an urban legend? A new kind of horror story for a new generation? Or is this actually happening? I honestly don’t know. I used to think that riding my bike was the safer option, that it prevented me from being a likely mugging victim, but now I’m not so sure. On dark nights when I ride through my neighborhood alone, I fear the faceless man who will whack me off my bike and leave me for dead. Take that, Ichabod Crane. Welcome to D.C. in 2012.