Christian Peacemaker Teams has an office just off Spadina Avenue and below College Street. I go there to provide computer advice, work on plans, run errands, or just hang out. When I go, I often ride my bike; I find it a pleasant distance to ride in from Bloor West.
Yesterday, as I rode home along Dundas at rush hour, a car tried to cross at Euclid, which has no light, just a stop sign. By the time I realised they hadn't seen me and wouldn't stop, I had passed in front of them. Trying to avoid them, I felt something push my bike. I tried frantically to stay in control, realised I couldn't, and then an instinct that has saved me more than once took over: I relaxed and let it happen. My bike and I went down, and I came off the bike cleanly. I landed on my left hand, and rolled as I hit. I remember thinking I must look like other cyclists caught on You-Tube falling and rolling. I had my helmet on, but I don't think I hit my head at all. I came up in the next second, and roared at the driver, Stop!
I don't think I needed to yell anything; the two young women in the car stopped immediately and apologized profusely. I remember the next few seconds as a bit muddled; I took out my cell phone and tried to decide whether I should call 911. On one hand, I had just had a car crash; on the other hand, I didn't seem seriously hurt, the police might take a while to arrive, and probably had other things to do anyway. I just wanted to get to a doctor and get checked out. The driver asked me if I wanted to call an ambulance, and I knew I did not need to do that. I hesitated for a moment, then looked around for my bike. I panicked for a second when I didn't see it on the street, then realized a witness to the crash had kindly retrieved it for me. I thanked him, collected my bike, and then told the driver I needed her insurance information. She gave me the card, let me a pen to copy the number, and gave me her cell number. She offered again to drive me to the hospital, but I just wanted to get home with the bike. Also, when someone has a car crash, my first impulses don't include accepting a ride from them.
I went to St. Joseph Hospital. Looking back, I would have done better to go to Toronto Western, just two blocks away, but I wanted to go somewhere I knew. The doctors at St. Joseph stitched my thumb up where I lacerated it on the pavement, and took a few x-rays to make sure I hadn't broken any bones. I went home, had some ibuprofen and a hot bath, and emailed friends who had heard about the accident to let them know I had so far suffered no seriously ill effects.
Looking back, should I have called the police? My instincts say no. The driver should have stopped to make sure she had a clear road (which means no cyclists in the way), but plenty of drivers have made worse mistakes in my presence, and I haven't dialed 911. It seemed a bit unfair to try to bring the full weight of the law down on the driver who had the misfortune to get into a crash with my bike.
In the end, I just feel grateful that I apparently go through it with so little lasting harm. When I think of how badly these encounters have gone for other people, I feel fortunate indeed.