Illustration: Ryan Perkins
It was a beautiful day in early October. I flew down 200 South with a grin on my face and my legs pumping just fast enough to get me to work with a few minutes to spare. Turning left onto 300 West, I was taking in the aroma of Café Trang’s lunch special when the door of a parked car opened up to my right. My brain processed this almost at the same time as some part of me or my bicycle hit the open door. Landing on my side about five feet in front of the car, my messenger bag underneath me, my helmet scraping over the asphalt, I thought for sure I was road kill. As I laid in the middle of the road, I moaned and gasped “I can’t breathe!” in between painful breaths while the poor fool who’d maimed me stood in shock. Fortunately, there were plenty of medics and lawyers who rushed to my aid, and thanks to the padding of my stuffed Velo City bag and the big Bern head bucket I was wearing, I was able to convince the paramedics not to take me on a thousand-dollar cab ride and walked away with no serious injuries.
I hate to admit it, but I thought I was invincible up until that day. I’ve been riding my bike around town for about four years now, had a driver’s license for almost 10 and have been a lowly pedestrian since I was nine months old. When you’re as terrible a car driver and as commanding of the road on a bicycle as I am, and have never been in any sort of accident, it’s
hard to think otherwise. I thought that maybe I was just one of those people with an invisible bubble around them––if such people exist, and let’s be clear that it’s a very agnostic sort of bubble. The funny thing about my accident is that I NEVER wear a helmet, especially when the weather’s nice. My Bern helmet is actually more of a snowboarding helmet than a bike helmet, and it has earmuffs that clip in, but no ventilation, so I mostly bought it for that and the fact that my tires slip on the ice and I gracefully slide to the ground at least once every winter. I’d started wearing the thing regularly about a week before I got doored because one of my SLUG co-workers got super messed up in a bike accident when his front wheel popped off. I know, I must be pretty stupid to get scared into wearing a helmet by mechanical problems and not by the big steel machines that barrel down the road next to me every day. I just figured that if a car hit me, I’m a fucking pancake with extra syrup anyway, but if I got brain damage because some spokes exploded off my wheel, I’d be a really pissed off vegetable.
Hopefully, this doesn’t sound preachy. I don’t really give a fuck whether you wear a helmet or not, and I’ll be honest and admit that I’m probably not going to wear mine every day. It’s pretty much impossible to ride my pink cruiser unless my hair is free and flowing. Mostly what I hope you get out of this is to watch out for car doors––you never know when they’ll burst your bubble.