Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trucked up

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.


Griddle said...

Dude, glad that you saw it coming, and that you're alright. Double trailers are scary enough, triples in the city are some straight up BS.

Right turning motorists can suck my nuts (disclaimer: I am frequently a motorist, and do make right turns). At that same intersection, many years back, I was crossing Tudor on the northbound side of C St, moving against traffic, and I got cut off by a right turner moving onto eastbound Tudor. No biggie, I saw it coming; it happens all the fucking time, after all.

So I did a momentary track stand (momentary track stands are all that I'm capable of), and watched to see if she would even see me. As she made her turn, she eventually swiveled her head around and caught sight of my headlight; so she slammed on her brakes (again, I wasn't moving), looked over her shoulder at the crosswalk light, saw that it was a flashing red hand, and waggled her motherfucking finger at me as though it was my fault that she a) didn't understand how crosswalks worked (I entered the 'walk as soon as the light turned), and b) wasn't watching where she was going.

Further down the road where I frequently cross, at C St and International, I'd say that I get cut off by right turners gunning it at the light change about a quarter of the time. I am a motorist. All of my friends, family, and assorted loved ones are motorists. But sometimes, seriously, fuck motorists.

The Donut Guy said...

That kind of shit pisses me off....it pisses me off *big time*.


I woulda caught up to him at the next light and would have got him to get out of his truck....whereas I would proceed to hose him down with my large canister of bear spray.

That's not correct social behavior and also totally illegal....but that's what I would have done....that guy was a dick.

Debbie said...

Another plan would have been to abandon your bike and let the truck run it over. Get a free new bike, get the driver in trouble and raise awareness while saving your skin.

Tim said...

Deb, you are insane if you think I'd throw my beloved, eight-month-old Fatback under the wheels of a truck. Besides, it would probably just result in a crushed bike, a hit-and-run trucker getting away, and me much poorer and depressed.

Leo said...

at least I waved

Debbie said...

I forgot you had a new bike. If I lend you my Pugs, maybe you could search for a replay on that situation and I'll upgrade to a Fatback.

Wilson said...

Unreal! Yes - that could have killed you! You have every right to be angry and dramatic!
I've had similar things happen but perhaps not quite to this extent. I often get the right turner on a red, coming in to the intersection perpendicular to my green (right of way) who simply does not stop for the red at all. I think they assume that I am a bike and going slowly and that they can beat me if they don't stop. It's been close a couple of times.