Last week was probably the worst week I've had at work. Friday came and all I was looking forward to was getting the hell out of there and getting home. I ride my bike to and from work everyday. I usually ride my bike on the sidewalk because in Newark, NJ there is no room to ride on the street. Cars are usually parked on the streets and sometimes double parked so it makes it hard for moving cars to get by when there is a bicyclist sharing an already narrow road. As I'm heading home and come upon another new block, I notice a guy on a ladder wearing a walkman washing his storefront sign with a hose. He's selling potted plants on one side and he's got the hose all over the sidewalk. So I slow down because I see potential for an accident.

Here's what happens... the guy doesn't notice me passing over the hose and decides exactly that moment to yank it at full force. So the second my bike tire was passing over the hose it loses traction and the hose gets caught around my pedals. I, of course, lose total control and in a panic hit my front wheel brakes causing the bike to make an abrupt stop and flip me forward. I crash into the potted plant display and it stops me from coming down hard onto the sidewalk. While this is all going on, in my head, this feels like a dream and it isn't really happening until it ends. I get up and realize no one saw me crash. The guy is still on the ladder with his headphones washing the sign, and at that moment there are no cars passing by or people on this sidewalk or across the street. I get up and assess the damage - two scraped knees, ripped my favorite pair of jeans, and a sharp pain in my right knee. It seems as though my bike made it out in one piece. I get on my bike and start to pedal away. I stop to look back and the only reason you would've known an accident occurred there would be from the all the dirt and potted plants scattered all over the sidewalk.

mark, May 17 2005 10:00PM

at least you left a little damage for the shop owner to know you came by. glad to hear you weren't seriously hurt.

i get real frustrated by leaf blowering maintenance men on the sidewalk. those things are so loud that they can't hear you coming and each time me foot gets a sandblasting. what ever happened to the broom.

Ann, May 17 2005 11:15PM

Speaking of leaf blowers and other loud maintenance equipment: That reminds me of when I lived on the 2nd floor of my college dorm right above the dumpsters. On Saturday mornings I loved to hear that beeping sound followed by the loud banging of the dumpster, as if they couldn't put it back down without shaking every last thing out of it.

paul, May 18 2005 10:20PM

my apartment is directly in front of a grammer school, my bedroom window faces the court yard. And for some strange reason they sanitation department (Waste Management) comes by at 2 o'clock in the morining once a week to switch it out. All you hear is the beeping of the truck backing up, then the dropping of the dumpster banging on the floor. Then you hear them picking up the dumpster. It always wakes me up every single time!

sandie, May 19 2005 11:30AM

I brought my bike with me when we moved to New York but it has sat in our kitchen collecting dust. I rode it due to a bus strike a couple of summers ago, but haven't ridden since. Frankly I'm scared of speeding gypsy cabs, double parkers, buses, quick opening car doors, road debris and red-light runners. I love to bike, but on car-free paths.

paul, May 19 2005 3:20PM

I never understood why NY doesn't have bike lanes. I always see bikes weaving in and out of traffic. It would be so much easier and safer if there were bike lanes.

Even NJ without a car you can't get anywhere. It would be awesome if they had a bike lane on the Turnpike & Parkway. I think that would be cool.

mark, May 20 2005 12:57PM

ann, i had the same problem at clemson. uncanny.

i'm sure i wrecked my bike a lot when i was a kid, but can't recall a particular instance. the one incident that i still bare a scar from is falling off a kick-scooter: one of those deadly devices that looks like a scooter but has a pedal on the back which allows for propulsion.

as is true with skiing and scootering, when i pick up too much speed i panic and see no other way to stop but fall. at least when i was a kid my dad would give me some fruit stripe gum. now i just wake up the next day with steadily increasing pain.

holling, May 22 2005 12:28AM

speaking of bike crashes, the least spectacular was in high school. my friend and I liked to bike down to our friend's house, which was the only residence inside a marine laboratory with a key-access gate. On the way home one day, we decided to ride over the pressure pad and see if we could raise the gate. It worked so we went through, noticing just in time that the wooden gate hadn't actually raised all the way and it dropped down quickly, landing right on my back.

I limped home on the bike, and then closer to home, we rounded a corner and a man was backing out of his driveway, didn't 'notice us, and backed right into us--knocking both of us off our bikes. We weren't hurt, just shaken up. He was mortified.