It happened.

July 16, 2014 at 06:31 | Posted in bicycles | 4 Comments
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headlightsLife flashes before your eyes? Everything goes in slow motion? Those are the clichés, but in reality it all happened horribly quickly, with no time to think. The sudden realisation that the car was heading straight towards me. That it was not going to stop. The mad scramble to get out of the way. The crunch as it hit me. Feeling the bike momentarily pinning me to the ground. Desperately pulling me legs away from the rear wheels as they passed. Me getting to my feet and realising I was OK. All over in less then three seconds.

I was waiting to turn right from a side turning; the last turn into my street just a short distance from my house, positioned as you would expect towards the centre of the road. I was waiting for the ute coming up from the left to go past, then the road was clear for me to get home. He indicated right just before the junction, and as he started to turn in I thought his line looked loose. Surely he’s going to go a bit wider around me? Then the headlights were pointing straight at me, and the horrible realisation dawned. Fortunately, I was able to get out of the direct line, so it was the side of his vehicle that impacted me, pushing me away and outside the track of the rear wheels.

The driver stopped, and rushed out, clearly shocked. SMIDSY, of course. He kept repeating it. ‘I just didn’t see you, I just didn’t see you; just heard the bang.’

It’s strange; the recent spate of incidents involving cyclists being hit by cars has spooked us all a bit, and coupled with my new commute on much busier roads the thought that it could happen to me has been on my mind sometimes. I didn’t think it would be on a quiet residential street, metres from my house, though. Short of cycleways on every street those kind of local roads are always going to be shared by all kinds of vehicles.

I also, of course, in my over-analytical way, wonder what I could have done differently. I had the handlebars pointed to the right, ready to turn, so  my light would have been pointed away from the driver as he turned (although not so much it was not visible, I’m sure). And whilst I had reflectors on my ankles and bag, I wasn’t wearing my reflective sash; it went awol in the recent house move move I haven’t replaced it. Would it have made a difference? Possibly, although as he turned I was directly in front of him, fully illuminated by his headlights, yet by his own admission he still didn’t see me. That said, I will get a new sash, and perhaps even consider my headlight positioning in similar situations in the future. Not, you understand, that I believe that these things should be necessary, nor absolve the driver of any responsibility. Looking where you are going is after all probably the prime responsibility when operating a motor vehicle.

kneeAs for me, well, I have a bruised, swollen knee that is stiffening up; I’m sure it’s just a bruise to the muscle as the joint is fine, but I’ll get it checked out just in case.  Funny how you don’t notice these things until afterwards; the effect of the adrenaline I guess. Not sure how I’m going to ride to work in the morning; could be interesting.

I have no idea how the bike is. I wheeled it home, so I know the wheels go round, but I’ll have a proper look in the morning. Ironically its not actually my bike, but a loaner bike from the bike shop whilst mine is in for repair.

And I guess finally I have to decide if I go to the police. I know I’ve always urged others to do exactly that in these situations. When it actually happens, and you are OK, it’s less straightforward. The driver seemed like a nice guy, and was clearly shocked; I daresay he learned a lesson tonight. I doubt that a call from the cops will make any difference to how he feels or behaves in the future, and I also doubt the cops will be very interested in following it up anyway, from past form. But then again, it was blind luck that I wasn’t seriously injured or worse, and the driver was clearly negligent. And in any case, reporting it means it will be recorded in the stats, if nothing else.

For now, I’ve poured myself a glass of shiraz, talked it through with Mrs Dan and got a bit teary. Two little girls nearly lost their daddy tonight. But then I feel melodramatic and self-indulgent; I’m absolutely fine, all is well, and compared to others it was really a minor incident. Such is how these things affect you.

Tomorrow is a new day. If you need me, I’ll be riding my bike.

Christmas biscuits

January 26, 2012 at 22:12 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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I am sorry, dear readers, for the hiatus in regular posting on my blog. I took a break from it over the summer, as we moved house, had family descend and generally just seemed to be crazy busy. However, hopefully normal service can now be resumed – thank you for your patience.

And what better place to start than with the biscuits I was given over the festive season. Two novelty Arnott’s packs, indeed.

The first was a kind of cardboard stocking thing, containing two Tim Tams, a Mint Slice, a Scotch Finger / Nice combo, a Wagon Wheel and some Choc Tiny Teddies. The best bit of this was the individually wrapped Tim Tams. They feel much more grown-up when individually dressed up, and I really think that there could be a market for packets of six of these, for popping in lunch boxes and so on. Or perhaps it’s just nostalgia for the Penguins of my (British) youth.

The other, much more exciting one, was a tin in the shape of a car. This I was very pleased with, and made ‘brumm brumm’ noises as I drove it around the floor, much to the delight of Toddler Chillikebab, who than proceeded to do the same. What I didn’t reveal to Toddler Chillikebab was that the top came off, revealing a number of packs of the ‘Scotch Finger / Nice’ combo.

Here’s to a 2012 full of happy biscuit eating!

I couldn’t do that because…

April 4, 2011 at 19:51 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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The road pictured is Balmain Road, Sydney. It is one of the routes into Rozelle / Balmain, a popular suburb of Sydney replete with nice cafes, funky shops and interesting markets. It seems to be especially popular on Saturday mornings; indeed so popular that the queue of traffic on Balmain Road was around 2km long. I was walking along the road at the time pushing Baby Chillikebab in her pram, and the traffic was travelling at about the same speed as we were – say 4km/h or so. This means the people in the cars were prepared to wait around half an hour just to get into Rozelle. Once there, they then would the need to find somewhere to park – easily another fifteen minutes. That’s forty-five minutes in total – let’s hope that latte or antique vase is really worth it.

It’s quite extraordinary really; in that 45 minutes those people could have virtually cycled from Bondi, as this useful map shows. I’m fairly confident that the vast majority of those people queuing up on Balmain Road live less than a 45 minute cycle away from Balmain. However, I’m also fairly confident that, if asked, they all would have had a really good reason why they could not have ridden that day. “too hilly’, ‘too dangerous’, ‘too slow’, ‘too hot, ‘too cold’ etc etc.

I observed as we walked that the cars were about half and half split between people on their own and couples, with rather few families. Another interesting thought is that if each car is about 4m long, and there is a 3m gap between cars, then there were about 285 cars on that 2km stretch of road. Assuming one and a half people per car on average, that’s about 430 people.  A Sydney Transport Authority bus can hold between 44 and 79 people depending on the type, so  we could accommodate all those people in around nine buses. A bus is about 13 metres long, so nine buses only need about 150m of road – around 8% of the road space taken up by the 285 cars.

That’s all a bit by the by; people evidently don’t want to cycle, or go on the bus – otherwise they would be doing it. It’s a free country after all, and people can choose how they want to get about. I suppose the bit I am puzzled by is why they want to sit in their cars for that long. I mean, I know Balmain is nice, but it’s not that nice, surely? Or maybe these people find the interior of their car much more interesting that I find the interior of mine? All very mysterious.

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