lost and safe

Near Life Experience

I slammed into a car while riding my bike yesterday. I was going nearly 20 mph. The way I see it, this was bound to happen at some point in time.

Consider this:

  • Bicyclist deaths in 2007: 698 (Down from 773 in 2006)
  • Bicyclist injuries in traffic in 2007: 43,000 (Down from 44,000 in 2006)
  • About 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year. Of those, about 67,000 have head injuries, and 27,000 have injuries serious enough to be hospitalized.
  • Atlanta is ranked number two in terms of least bike friendly cities.


Riding through Little 5 Points on Euclid Avenue, I wave to a friend who happens to be working that evening at a local smoothie joint. honkhonkHONK I only get a glimpse of the car’s hood as I flip over, body and bike airborne for several weightless seconds. Gravity takes control once again as I am hammered into pavement – my messenger bag absorbing most of the impact, saving me from serious injury. I lay prone on my back, focusing on each one of the concerned faces hovering above me, attempting to piece together the last five seconds that have just flashed in front of my face like a whip.

“Are you okay?” “Holy shit, what the hell happened?” “Oh my God! Can you hear me?” “Are you seeing black spots?” “Do you remember where you are?” “Can you move your head?” ” Are you hurt?” “Do you remember what happened?”

I don’t remember actually hitting the car, but I do recall the sound my wheel made when it came into contact with the bumper; it wasn’t a pleasant one. I remain on the ground, bending knees, rotating arms, moving fingers, wiggling toes.

A bike wheel parts the crowd. It isn’t mine. A gently smiling face. A gloved hand.

I grab at it.

I miss. I try again.

Our hands meet this time. I tighten my grip, bend my knees, take a breath, Stand.

[Friday] “Damn son, I saw that shit happen in slow motion. You good? How ya ass feel, ‘cuz you landed on it pretty fuckin’ hard man.”

I’m good…I think. Fuck. Is your car okay?

[Lady] “My car is fine. Are YOU okay?”

Yeah, I’m alright I think. Just a few scratches…and a half a pinkie nail missing.

[Friday] “All I saw was that car, you flyin’ and then your dead ass lyin’ in the street. Hey…you know Portia, right?”


[Friday] “I was talkin’ to her when you crashed. She said what’s up.”

Yeah? I saw her pulling out of the parking garage at State (Georgia State). What’s your name again?

“Friday. Glad you’re not dead or anything. I’ll see you. Oh, and do me a favor: next time you see my dead ass lying in the middle of the street, give me a hand.”

Filed under: Missives, , , ,

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