I had a most frightening experience the other day. I almost hit a bicyclist. It was by sheer luck if not some greater power that I didn’t run over this guy.
It was about 30 or 45 minutes before total darkness, with the sun already below the horizon, and I just got off the freeway. (This is the freeway exit closest to my house and one I use all the time.) At this exit, there is a traffic signal if you want to turn left and if you want to turn right, you’re sent into a right turn lane that comes to a yield sign. Regular users of the right turn lane tend to first look left to see if there’s any oncoming traffic from the left, slow down or stop if there is, but keep going if there’s no one coming. That’s what I did, but just as I turned my head to the right before going out into the street, immediately in front of me was a guy on a bike.
I’m not sure about the guy on the bike who was stopped frozen in front of me, but I know I was scared out of my wits when I noticed him at the last split-second. He had a helmet on and was pretty much dressed to ride. What made things even more disturbing was that he had an adult riding partner and a couple kids in tow right behind him. There was a whole family of people going up the wrong side of the street on a sloping hill where cars are barreling down at 45 to 50 mph, if not faster.
This experience reminded me of when I was first learning to drive, and my father telling me to always look both ways before turning into a one-way street, because according to his explanation, there always the chance that some not-too-bright person was driving the wrong way down a one-way street and you would crash into him. While my dad’s lesson may not be quite the same situation as cyclists riding on the wrong side of the street, I’m going to have to pay attention to cyclists coming from unexpected directions not just for my own sake but the folks riding on the wrong side of the street.
And yes, for those of you who are curious, I did caution him in a friendly way that he should be riding on the other side of the street. He looked at me like I was crazy.