Remember when you're learning how to drive and you think "Oh, I'll never need to use turn signals" "No one uses turn signals" "Even my grandma doesn't use turn signals (Which is a total lie, my grandma doesn't even drive on the highway)". But anyway, the point is that you never really pay much attention to them. Well, I hope this post changes your mind.
I was on my way to my nanny job in North Center on Tuesday. I was going north on Damen. I've been riding on Damen for about a year now, and I feel like I know it pretty well, probably better than any other street in the city. I was at Roscoe and Damen. I used to turn right on Roscoe to go play dodge ball. There's a great vintage shop not half a block down. I got my new tubes at the bike shop down the street. It's a lovely intersection.
There were three cars all lined up at the stop light. I had been down through that intersection at least a hundred times, if not more. The light turns green before I reach it. The first car starts to go through the intersection. I am already up to speed with the third car. It’s white and a middle aged woman is driving it, wearing black sunglasses and looking straight ahead. I hope she had NPR playing. Or some form of jazz. So then I see the second car. It’s not going straight. It’s starting to turn. Right. On to Roscoe. I slam on my brakes. But we still collide. I hit the rear back door. Everything stopped at that intersection.
I don’t remember falling. I remember trying to cling to my bike, trying to not fall. I remember the back of my head hitting the pavement. I remember touching my head to make sure my helmet was on, that I didn’t leave it at home. I remember pushing my sunglasses back onto my face. I remember pushing the bike off of me and checking to make sure it was ok. I remember looking right to see if the woman would get out of her car. I remember the man on the blue bike had called to make sure I was ok. I had forgotten that everything had stopped, that people actually notice me.
Another man in a SUV called out to me, “Do you need someone to call insurance for you? Need us to call the police?” The woman still hadn’t gotten out of her car. I shouted, “No, I’m fine! I’m okay!” because I didn’t know what else to say. I just wanted to get out of that intersection as quickly as possible.
I got on my bike, everyone still was asking if I’m alright and I still tell them that I am fine. My heart is pounding. I just want to get out of there. I pedal away awkwardly. I’m still shaken by what just happened and I didn’t really want to process it in the middle of the intersection.
As I ride north on Damen, the woman in the white car who I hoped was listening to NPR or jazz rolls down her window and calls “Are you sure you’re alright?” She is a mother, I can tell. Probably with a daughter my age. I smile and tell her that, “I’m fine” and she smiles back and keeps going.
I was really lucky. Lucky that I had my helmet on. Lucky that I walked away with my bike intact. Lucky that I walked away intact. But others aren't so lucky. Some lose their bikes or their lives. I'm lucky all it gave me was a bruised arm. This could have been avoided had she used her turn signal. I would've been able to slow down enough to let her turn before I crossed through the intersection. So please, my friends. Use your turn signals. Let others know what you're plan is in that car of yours.
I'm still a little shaken (I almost got ran off the road today by a truck) but I'm not going to stop riding.