This happened while I was biking home from work on Friday. Center City Philly. Heading toward Broad St on Spruce. The sidewalks were crowded with people walking home from work or heading to happy hour bars, and there was a fair amount of traffic in the street.
There’s a bike lane on the right side of the street, but I needed to make a left on Broad. So I waited for my opportunity, then merged over in between a couple cars to the left turn lane.
Now I’m on the left side of the one-way street, riding next to the driver’s side of traffic. As I was nearing Broad in the turn lane, I was riding next to a grey Range Rover. Big vehicle. It’s the kind of SUV they drove on the OC, except Seth Cohen would have driven less aggressively.
Preparing to make the left, the driver started easing over more and more to the left side of the street. I was getting crowded in between the car and the curb. The driver probably didn’t notice me.
I panicked a little, afraid I was going to be run off the road, so I squeezed my brakes hoping to come to a complete stop. Instead, my front wheel turned a bit toward the curb and I lost control. I flipped over my handlebars going forward and landed on my knees and hands in the street between the curb and the car. My bike landed upside down on my back then flopped onto the street in front of me. I felt like an asshole. Bruised and embarrassed.
The Range Rover slammed on it’s brakes. I slowly got up and picked up my bike. I could see that a young blond woman was driving. A guy got out of the passenger seat and ran over toward me. I assumed he was going to make sure I was okay and to help me get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Instead, he raced over to the driver’s side of the car and started looking for damage. The driver rolled down her window.
Guy: “You dented my car!”
Guy: “You dented my car, man! Right there! Take off those sunglasses and you’ll be able to see it.”
Me: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Lady: (to me) “Are you okay?” (to the guy) “Get back in the car.”
Guy: “You got bike insurance?” (He said this with a snide tone. I think it was supposed to be funny and insulting.)
Me: “I don’t know what you mean by that.”
The driver seemed to be the guy’s wife. She immediately tried to diffuse the situation. I got the impression she wanted her husband to get back in the car so they could drive off and get their weekend started. I picked up my bike and laid it down on the sidewalk.
Guy: “He dented our car!”
Lady: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Listen, I was just trying to stop and get out of your way.”
There was definitely a little ding on the driver door. There was no way to tell if it was from my bike or if it had been there for weeks. The lady got out to take a look. I was still in a daze. I didn’t talk much. The guy and his wife had their own little conversation about whether or not there was a ding and whether or not it was caused by my bike. They also talked about filing an insurance claim. She reminded the guy that they had some kind of dent repair coverage through their warranty.
The guy was pretty amped up. Yelling and gesturing in a very animated way. He was a tubby little wealthy-looking guy in shorts and a bright orange polo shirt. His wife was fit and probably 10 years younger than him. She calmed him down and made him get back into the car.
She and I spoke for another few minutes. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t hurt. I told her I didn’t think I broke anything. She suggested we exchange info. I guess that’s the sort of thing people do when there’s a traffic accident. I didn’t know how to react. So I just gave her my info and took her phone number. Then we all rode off.
The whole ordeal was probably 10 minutes. Super awkward and surreal. I was a little embarrassed that I fell off my bike in front of dozens of people. And I was in shock from the fall. Just dazed and bruised. I couldn’t believe the guy’s reaction to the whole thing. He was fuming.
During the couple of minutes when the couple were talking to each other and checking out their car, a young couple walked up to me on the sidewalk. The guy had sort of a hipster look. Tall guy, skinny jeans, flat-brimmed baseball cap. He looked at me directly in the eyes and said “You okay, man?” Maybe it was just because of that surreal daze I was in, but I picked up a tough-guy tone in his voice. Like he was implying “You need me to help you deal with this asshole?” “I’m okay, man. Thanks for asking though.”