2005- Ride #4 19.4 miles, 60.6 total. Second accident in three years.

A woman in the road, a split second, a crash. Dad breaks a rib, and he’s off his bike for a month. I am so not happy right now.

This is a route we’ve taken dozens of times over the years. Dad was feeling a little punk I think, so we opted for this shorter, better-known ride today. I’m still very angry about what happened, how it happened, and how the woman who caused the accident just walked away, taking no notice.

We were heading back to Chelmsford, going through the tiny circle in Carlisle. Dad had been 75 yards back for a while, so for safety’s sake I slowed down to let him join up. Going through the circle together, rather than separated by a few car lengths, should be better, right? Together, we get into the road and signal to enter the circle. A very courteous driver already in the circle pauses to let us through, and we both wave our thanks. As I come out of the circle, heading toward home, twenty feet ahead and straight in front of me is a young woman with a long, squat dog on a leash, crossing the road. Slowly. With the dog and leash she’s a wide obstacle. If I were alone I’d have zipped behind her, but Dad was behind me on that side, an unknown distance behind, and I instinctively knew not to try it. There wasn’t room to safely ride ahead of her without risking an encounter with oncoming traffic, and there wasn’t enough time to scan for it. I couldn’t round the circle again, because the car that had stopped for us was blocking the way. So I slowed, hoping the young lady would be out of the way by the time I reached her.

Unfortunately, during all this, Dad had been waving to the courteous driver, and was following too closely behind me. He never saw the pedestrian; he only looked ahead long enough to see he was going to crash into me. I was pushed over to the left, and he fell to the right, both of us in the middle of the road in the middle of a traffic circle. Once I got free of my bike, kneeling in the street, I looked at the pokey pedestrian incredulously, furiously even, wishing there was something to say. Then I heard Dad groaning in pain. I looked over, he was bleeding and lying on his side with his eyes shut tight in pain. A large construction truck was bearing down on him, so I ran over, stood over his body, and waved the driver to stop. He did, and a few good Samaritans stopped to help, one helping me get Dad and his bike up and to the side of the road, and another getting my bike out of the road. They offered what help they could. Dad said he thought he’d broken his rib, and after five hours in an emergency room he learned he was right.

My mind can’t help but turn these events over and over, looking for some resolution, something I could have done differently, and mostly, what the hell is up with a person who helps create an accident, and doesn’t even stop and ask if everyone is OK? A person who just continues walking on their way, blasé about two bicyclists who crash and fall rather than endanger her, and untroubled by a 72-year-old father lying bleeding in the street, groaning and grunting in pain, with who knows what wrong with him?

One thing I’ve learned. Yell out more on the bike. I often yell, “car back!” when I think Dad can’t hear a car overtaking us. I’m adding, “Stop!” to my repertoire. And another thing: everyone thinks they own the road. Get used to it.

I’m sorry to say that I hope that young woman is wracked with guilt tonight. May she never be in my shoes, and have a careless stranger nonchalantly send her father to the hospital.

Dad has said to me, “Let it go.” It’s hard.

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