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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Four wheels always beats two

Bikes – and the rights of their owners versus those of car owners – just seems to becoming a more and more prominent topic of discussion. This month’s Mpls./St. Paul has an interesting article delving into the many spokes of Twin Cities bike culture. And as Minnesota Lawyer editor Mark Cohen wrote a couple weeks back, biking seems to be at the center of more and more violent occurrences – some accidental, some not.

All that was brought home to me this morning when I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle to work. As these things go, it was pretty mild: The driver was pulling away from a stop sign, so he wasn’t going very fast when he nailed me. Other than some bruises and frayed nerves, the only damage is a bent front wheel that needed replacing anyway. I got away cheap.

But the first reaction among a number of people I told the story to was, “Did you get his insurance information? Are you going to call a lawyer?” Most people weren’t serious when they responded that way, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless that it was the default answer.

In fact, I didn’t even get the guy’s name. It was an accident, he apologized profusely, and I was mostly unhurt. Why muddy a simple situation with lawyers and doctors and bureaucrats? Life is too short.

So does that make me a forgiving soul, or a pushover? If there had been broken bones and a crushed bike involved, that would be another story. But to me, if what happened makes that driver – and me – more careful in the future, that’s reward enough.

So bikers: Be careful out there. And drivers: Open your eyes!

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