As a car driver, I rarely saw car crashes, in action or in aftermath.

I’m not sure why. They happen, people see them, I just didn’t happen to.

In my six weeks of bike commuting, I’ve witnessed one car crash and I’ve passed by the immediate aftermath of two others. One of those was today.

On my worst street (rudest drivers) on my way home, traffic was so slow that I was going maybe 2 mph, and then it stopped completely. I contemplated hopping onto the sidewalk to avoid the backed up cars, but I can only safely go about 8 mph on the sidewalk, and I can go up to about 18mph on this particular road. Plus I thought I saw a flashing cop light up ahead. It is legal in my area to ride on the sidewalk, but if there was a flashing cop car and traffic backed up, it meant an accident and the sidewalk might not be a good option.

Besides, it could be tricky to get back onto the road from the sidewalk.

So I stayed in the traffic. Ironically just today I read about car exhaust and bicyclists. Contrary to what we might assume, as a bicyclist in traffic I’m sucking in significantly less pollution than the people around me in the cars. Food for thought!

I was surprised at how easily the cars around me let me merge in. I think the accident must have been very fresh, because the traffic hadn’t been backed up that much.

As I passed by, I was really shocked. A van (the delivery van kind of van, not minivan) had smashed into a light pole, which had completely cracked and crashed into the roadway. A small red car had clearly then smashed into the van. I can’t help but to wonder if there was another car that got swiped by the falling street light.

There were no skid marks that I could see. Does that mean no brakes applied?

Yesterday as I was approaching a light on a usually-quiet street, a man in a minivan decided to change lanes into my lane as he approached a red light while he was texting. His daughter was in the backseat soaking up his wisdom on how to drive dangerously. He came really close to side swiping me. I’m sure he was completely oblivious to that fact. Luckily I was going 5-10mph, since I was approaching a red light, and that meant that the danger was slight, even if the annoyance was large. I was watching the road, and the drivers, even if he wasn’t. Maybe he even heard my “dude!” since his window was open.

And a couple weeks ago I was at an intersection when a single vehicle accident occured, with an SUV crashing into a light pole. Again, no brakes that I heard.

I think the theme in all these cases, though I can be certain in only one incident, aside from the obvious them of vehicles themselves, is cell phones. It isn’t actually news, or surprising, that texting and dialing while driving makes accidents more likely.

Hang up and drive, folks. Don’t text, don’t watch your iPhone videos reflected in the window, don’t dial your phone, don’t read the wall street journal. Just drive. That’s dangerous enough while you’re watching the road.

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