I'm lucky I saw it coming. The driver of the big semi to my left was eager to make his right turn from C Street onto westbound Tudor Road. He kept inching forward, waiting for northbound cars to lose their green arrow so he could take both lanes to round the corner.
He knew I was there. He had waved at me less than a minute earlier as I crossed in front of him before stopping on the bike path/sidewalk at the corner so I could get a green light to proceed south beside C Street at the end of the work day. I was standing at the spot where a fellow bike commuter was killed seven months ago.
Many days at this intersection, the light changes and motorists wave me across Tudor before they make their turn. A lot of Anchorage drivers are nicer than their reputation would indicate. Not this guy. He hit the gas as the light turned green to make sure I wouldn’t delay him for five seconds. Annoying, but not uncommon.
What was unusual was what came behind him. He was pulling a road train. Three trailers. “Seriously?” I thought to myself. “Three trailers? In Midtown? At rush hour?” Fortunately, I knew that each trailer would tend get closer to where I was standing, so I watched them closely.
Within a few seconds, it was time for evasive action. I yanked my front wheel into the air, pivoted my bike and dragged it a couple of steps just before the third trailer came off the road and rolled across the spot where the front half of my bike had been.
Not to be dramatic, but that kind of shit kills people, you know? A couple of years ago, another Anchorage truck driver pulled his trailer over a corner sidewalk, and didn’t even know what had happened until he found parts of a pedestrian wrapped around his rear axle. They used dental records to identify the body.
And this trucker knew I was there on the sidewalk. He knew he was pulling a goddamn parade of trailers. He knew he had only two lanes of Tudor to work with as he dragged that monstrosity around the corner.
But he had to go first when the light turned green and the “walk” signal lit up.
Maybe he was in a hurry. Maybe he just didn’t give a shit. Maybe he thought it would be funny to watch in the mirror as I scrambled out of the way.
But what if I hadn’t?
Like I said before, some drivers get a bad rap. Others earn it.
Never let your guard down.