In 2010, professional triathlete Jordan Rapp was on a bike ride in Oxnard when a car pulled out in front of him. Jordan didn’t have time to react to the car and ended up smashing into the windshield, cutting his throat, and nearly bleeding to death. The car fled the scene, and was later found to be owned by an illegal immigrant. Basically a cyclists worst nightmare.
Fast forward to last week. I’m riding some hill intervals on Santa Susana Pass. As I crest the top of the hill heading back toward Simi Valley, huffing and puffing from the effort, a jeep turns right in front of me. I wasn’t going too quick, maybe 15 mph or so, and I was able to brake/swerve out of the way. Unbelievable. Scary.
“Thanks Asshole!” I yell at the driver. I look back at the jeep in disgust, and astonishingly, it has stopped and began to make a u-turn. What could this jerk possibly have to say to me? He cut ME off!
The jeep catches up to me on the descent and rolls down the window. He looks to be in his mid 30s, blond and had a surfboard in the car. “Hey I just wanted to apologize for cutting you off back there.” Huh, I guess he just didn’t see me. Nice of him to apologize. But then he continued, “But could you apologize to my daughter for the profanity?” You have got to be kidding me! What a backhanded apology.
“Yeah. Sorry. Just watch out for bikers.”
I had some inner conflict. If I hadn’t said anything he probably never would have seen me. I guess a little girl doesn’t need to hear bad language, but is “asshole” really such a bad word? I was upset. My word choice could have been a lot worse.
Am I wrong here? Has anyone had a similar situation?
After thinking about who was right and who was wrong, I started to wonder what could have been done to avoid the situation. This little altercation was a bit eye opening for me — I was on a wide road with fairly light traffic and I was still almost hit. Drivers clearly do not look out for cyclists. So what can we do besides wearing a helmet and being aware of what is going on around us?
Jordan found himself in a similar predicament once his wounds had healed…
Before getting back on the road, I thought about what options I had to make myself more visible. Neon helmets, jerseys, etc. all crossed my mine. But ultimately, I wanted something that dramatically caught the eye, and the obvious thought was a flashing light. On cars, the presence of daytime running lights contributes to a greatly reduced risk of a head-on collision. Add in a flash, and I figured that drivers would pay even greater attention.
The above excerpt is from a series Jordan began writing for Slowtwitch called “Stay Safe. Be Seen.” He has reviewed several different lights intended for daytime use so that cyclists can be seen and stay safe. I intend to go through the reviews and purchase a set of lights so I can try to avoid an accident like Jordan had, or another awkward apology for my “profanity.” I will post which one I decide to go with, hopefully in the coming weeks.
Thanks for your help, Jordan.