It was a dark night in autumn, and I was bicycling from a friend’s house to a dance across town. I was rolling predictably down Kentucky Street. Without warning, there was an astonishingly loud crack right behind me. Suddenly I was flying through the air. I landed in a heap, with car headlights shining over my body and the wreck of my bicycle. I was stunned, unable to determine what had happened.
I had been rear-ended by a motorist. She was a teenage girl. She had somehow overlooked my two obnoxiously bright tail lights and slammed into me. We called the police and we settled down for an hour to create the crash report. It was probably her first crash, and she was scared and traumatized. She had to call her parents and explain things to them. She was on the hook for my medical and mechanical bills. I think it’s safe to say it ruined her week.
For my part, I was incredibly lucky I wasn’t hurt more badly.
Cut to the same street, this spring. I’m pedaling home and I sense a car coming up behind me too fast. I have nowhere to go, so I desperately speed up to buy time. At the last second, the motorist swerves to avoid me. Silhouetted against the street lights ahead, I see a cell-phone pressed to an ear inside a speeding car. That driver couldn’t handle both talking and driving. Now I’m getting angry, and I follow the car on an adrenaline-fueled chase through Germantown. The driver manages to give me the slip at first, but he’s delivering pizza and I get lucky and hunt him down. He’s a senior citizen driver working a tough job, and he apologizes profusely. I decide to cut him some slack and let the matter drop.
Hit from behind crashes are usually rare on urban streets at night. But probably because of the high urban speed limit, they sure seem like a threat on Breckinridge and Kentucky. Drivers: you don’t want to hit a cyclist. You don’t want to have that blood on your hands.
Louisville recently removed one travel lane and added a nice bike lane. Now traffic moves at the speed of the most prudent driver. These reckless motorists who hit or almost hit me would have been reigned in by other motorists on the road. The road is slower and safer for everyone.
This change has not proven popular.
Look – I get it – there are currently vastly more motorists than bicyclists on this corridor, and some of them will face delay. However, that is not very important. The safety benefit of the new roadways will save a handful of human lives. That is vastly more important than a lot of people grumbling about little delays.