As the car suddenly swerved towards me, I realized the guy driving it hadn’t noticed me.
Cycling south on Shoken Street, a median separated road, between Salame Street and Glilot Way, used to be a typical morning commute for me. The street rises and descends in both directions. My apartment was located in the low rent but lively South of Tel Aviv. The ride was a seven kilometer stretch to the design school in the adjacent city of Holon.
There wasn’t much time, neither a lot else to do but kick my way to safety. I lifted my left foot straight into the back right door of the car. This stabilized my violent change of direction. At the same time the driver got a clear signal that something wrong was happening.
His U-turn maneuver was a legal one. His neglect to notice me – the cyclist with the right of way – probably was not.
However, as soon as he heard the crashing sound of my shoe bending the metal of his car, his head turned and he saw me. He stopped. But I was still pedaling uphill, a few inches away from the right side of the car that had almost killed me. I was partly startled, partly happy everything was OK and mostly annoyed by the disruption.
When the man saw that I continued my ride, he accelerated beside me and cut me again to make me stop. At that moment the last thing I wanted was to be bothered with him. I changed course and kept going uphill, this time to the left of the car. But now he jumped out and latched onto my handlebar.
Driver: “You kicked my car!”
Cyclist: “You almost killed me…, what d’you want?”
“No, come with me. You kicked my car!”
“Nothing happened. Let go of my bike.”
“No! You come with me first.”
“You almost killed me. Nothing happened to your car. Let go of my bike and I’ll show you.”
“No! If I let go you’ll run away again.”
“You almost killed me. Let go of my bike first.”
At that moment a passer by was beside us. He told the driver that he saw him almost run over me. The look on the driver’s face changed in realization into a gaze of fear. He let go of my bike and I joined him to look at the spot where I’d kicked his back door.
The crashing sound of my kick was that of sheet metal bending in and out again. As much as I was focused on surviving an emergency, seeing that was amusing. My confrontation with the driver gradually added to my sense of comedy.
“You see? Nothing happened. Have a good day.”
Driver: “You,… you speak like someone with a ring in his ear!”
I smiled and continued with my ride.
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Walking and biking in the city has its merits as well as its challenges. All journeys have a story. It is either immediately evident or only reveals its beauty years later when you pull it out of your memory. I was reminded of the story above, from 1990, as I brushed against a moving car here in Vancouver last year. I was crawling with the traffic down Main Street when the car to my left tried to pull right into 6th Avenue. As soon as the driver noticed this, he slammed the brakes. We quickly and peacefully parted ways as nothing happened to any of us.