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Wear Clean Undies

Bumped into Gurney the other day. Bike Crash!

I was in an accident the other day. But I’m doing fine now. I was only in hospital for a few hours.

My mother was right. (May she rest in peace). She always told me: “make sure you wear clean underpants,…you never know when you’ll have an accident!” She also told me as a boy, “If you’re going to do a job, do it properly” So I did! I “T-boned” that car that drove right across my path! I went through the glass and metal of the back door, almost far enough to put the seat-belt on!

I was biking home from a meeting, in the bike lane, which was clearly marked as such. Beside me was a queue of stationary cars facing in the same direction as me, queued for those confounded Ferrymead road-works. Unbeknownst to me, the driver of a 4WD SUV in the queue had flashed a car coming from the opposite direction (trying to get to the supermarket carpark), to come through the gap they’d left.

That’s the 2nd thing my mother was right about: “don’t trust flashers”. I’m usually very observant and aware of such possibilities, but this was a very large 4WD flasher that I couldn’t see past. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a small red car shot in front of the flasher, through that queue and across my cycle lane. I had nowhere to go, no time to stop. I hit hard!

Years of crashing off my trike, and all of those normal accidents that kids used to be allowed to have, along with the constant chiding of my mother as she patched up my grazes, has taught me a thing or 2 about crashing. In the split second before impact, I had the experience learned from my trike days to choose my point of impact with the car. The door would hurt less than the pillar. Out of control on my trike, I’d learned that mum’s rosebush hurt less than the fencepost.

Mum taught us kids to remember the emergency phone number, 111, but someone else had done that by the time I came around in the back of an ambulance. The police officer told me he’d take the remains of my bike in his car, to my house.

Wheeled into hospital, Gurney on the Gurney, doctors with furrowed brows checked me out, poked, prodded, x-rayed, and after 5 hours pronounced me unbroken. Unlike the car, for it had certainly come off second best. I’m grateful that my mother fed me proper. I have strong bones.

Not wanting to hang around any longer I asked to please be excused, just like my mother taught me. They insisted I needed someone to keep me company that night because of the concussion. I shot an enquiring glance in the direction of the nurses. There where no offers, so I decided the neighbour’s cat would have to do. He regularly does a sleep-over. He’d surely be able to do a “Lassie” should he notice from his perch on the chair that I’d stopped breathing. Cats are smart and intuitive like that aren’t they?

With no bike and no money, I had to find a way to get home. It was nearly 10 pm and I didn’t want to bother any of my friends to pick me up. ACC clearly hadn’t thought this one through. All I needed was $2.50 for a bus, but there were no contingencies for even this. So, donning my smashed helmet for a bit of warmth, I zipped up my bloodied cycling top, bade farewell to those helpful and over-worked medics in the A and E department, and clip-clopped awkwardly in my cycling shoes, out into the night.

After half an hour of failed hitch-hiking, I’d only walked one eighth of the way home. I suppose it was little wonder no-one picked me up looking like I did. It would be a late night, and I hoped the neighbour’s cat, my guardian-to-be, would still be waiting for me.

Then my luck changed. I ended up making full use of the emergency services that night. Previously, the Police had dropped my bike bits home, the ambulance had whisked me to hospital, and then finally I was picked up late that night by a passing fire engine!

It was the Woolston Crew on their way back to base and they kindly offered me a ride home. Driving back past my accident scene, riding high in the colossal cab of this, day-glow-red, formidable fire-fighting beast, I spotted the broken glass of that errant car, scattered on the road. ”Ha!” I declared. I defy you to cut across my lane now!

Fortunately, the cat was stoically waiting at my back door. He intuitively knew he was needed, or maybe it was the previous visit of the Policeman or the pile of bits by the door that were once my shining bike that told him. Laying in my bed that night, Oscar the cat contentedly curled on the chair, I reflected on the accident; A higher power was looking out for me that day, because those motorists certainly weren’t looking out for me.

That flasher in the large 4WD in the queue should’ve looked in their mirror to check the way was clear before flashing the red car through. The driver in the red car should’ve looked before lurching into my lane.

If it were 2 lanes of cars instead of bikes, the drivers would’ve treated that inside lane with a whole lot more reverence. And indeed they will need to in future, for with the rising price of fuel, soaring sales of commuter bikes, and Christchurch being an otherwise ideal commuter-cycle city those cycle lanes are set to be chokka full this summer. They’ll also need to check for cyclists before opening their doors. In a simple catch-all lesson, those motorists might like to try biking themselves once in a while? Win-win for all.

I don’t want those 2 drivers to be charged with dangerous driving. It was an accident. I just want them to spend that energy instead teaching other motorists what we all learned.

I also pondered on my poor mother. She would’ve been distraught, for I hadn’t been wearing my clean undies in that accident. I smiled as I realised I’d defiantly finally broken free from the grip of my mother. We cyclists don’t wear undies!

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