Not to long ago, I had the unfortunate mishap of hitting a woman in a wheelchair. Before you berate me, hear me out.
(I've had a few people suggest I remove this post. Not sure why. Its an actual depuiction of an event. It's not condescending, rude, racist, sexist or otherwise offensive. All people make poor decisions, even people in wheelchairs)
I was minding my own business (the best stories start that way), riding to my shop in the late afternoon. I had just turned onto Hoyt Street, which is the final approach to my destination. I was naturally observing all applicable traffic laws, and was probably traveling between 12-15 mph.
Always observant, I noticed some low lying movement between to parked cars up ahead and on my left. Instinctively, I started feathering my brakes like a duelist with an itchy trigger finger.
Part of me couldn't quite believe she was about to do what I think she is. As a commuter and former messenger, we are trained to expect the stupidest from cars/people. What made it more bizarre is that there was a perfectly nice crosswalk about 40 feet upstream.
She was looking straight across the street and seemed intent on crossing the street illegally, I went into evasive action mode. I couldnt go around her as I knew there were cars bearing down on my right. I jammed my brakes evenly, making sure I didnt flip over the bars. I got my feet out of my clipless pedals anticipating having to exit the bike. I laid down a skid that any hipster would be proud of, bleeding off enough speed to hit het at only 5mph or so,
Even at that speed, the impact wasnt insignificant. i basically broad-sided her with enough impact for me to expect that I bent my front rim. The piece of equipment she was using was substantial and motorized, and I literally bounced off of her into traffic.
She stayed upright, as did I. I immediately laid down my bike and ran up to her to see if she was OK..She met me with a fusilade of curses, telling me I had no right being in the street. I pointed out that I was traveling with traffic, under the speed limit, in the bike lane. She said she always crossed there, and cars always stopped for her.
I told her she was lucky I WASNT a car, and that she really should be crosing at the crosswalk a few yards up-river. This logic didnt seem to effect her...and now a crowd was gathering. People started screaming at me, calling me reckless. I sought out the most logical-looking person and tried to plead my case about how she shouldnt have been crossing here, and how she is lucky she was just hit by a bike and not a delivery truck.. The crowd seemed to think that since she always crossed there, it was her right to continue to do so.
At this point I sensed an escalation in the tension in the air...I once more asked the woman if she was OK....she cursed me up and down, which I took as a yes. I got on my bike, and continued on my way.