In a Flash

I almost died today. The blue car that didn’t hit me was so close that I could see the logo on the cell phone the driver  was holding.  My husband and I went out for lunch and a drive  on the motorcycles. On the way back, we were sitting at an intersection. The light turned green, and I pulled my helmet visor down over my face and began to cross the intersection. I noticed a driver stop in mid-right turn as he waited for me to cross.

And then the blue car was there. The front end wasn’t dipping down, and that meant he wasn’t going to stop. I stomped on the brake that controls the rear wheel and my hand reached for the front brake. It was hot and my leather glove didn’t release the throttle, so the engine raced and the tires smoked against the road.

A motorcycle connects to the road through two spots on the tires the size of your tongue. The rest of it balances through forward motion or the skill of the driver. I had one foot on the brake and one on the ground, and I wrenched the handlebars to the left, to avoid the impact. The car roared by me, missing me by about an inch. My husband swears the trajectory looked like I’d be broadsided.

The car slammed on his brakes and then immediately sped away. I shook my head and drove on. No sense calling the police, the only thing I could have told them was the car was blue and the brand of the cell phone the driver was talking on.

I’m grateful to be alive tonight. I’m grateful my bike was heavy enough to take the sudden stop while I still had the hand on the throttle.

Had I done things a tiny bit differently, my husband would be planning my funeral tonight. People would talk about how cell phones cause accidents. The news would report that the driver of the car didn’t sustain “life threatening injuries”–that measure that validates whether or not to show the video.

But I got another chance to balance on two pieces of rubber the size of your tongue and enjoy the fresh air. I won’t even consider not riding my bike. Had I been in the car, I would not have given that glance to either side before I clear the light. I would have been broadsided. Maybe the guy would have dropped his phone.

–(c) Quinn McDonald, 2007. All rights reserved. Quinn McDonald is happy to have more life to live, and she hopes to do it as a writer and certified creativity coach. You can see her work at 

6 thoughts on “In a Flash

  1. I commented on another post a few days ago that, after 5 years of a one-hour commute to a good-sized city, I came to the conclusion that the real terrorists are already here and are on our streets driving SUV’s and Hummers- and I should have added talking on their cell phones. I came home nearly every day with a tale to tell my husband of near-misses I experienced much like yours, Quinn. Awhile back I was stopped at a crosswalk to let some shoppers pass in front of my car and in the rear view mirror, I saw an SUV coming up fast- the driver on her cell holding a poodle in her lap. She swerved around me and drove right through the crosswalk, never slowing down or even seeming to notice the people she nearly hit. When I had seen she wasn’t going to stop, I hit my horn and held it to warn the walkers and so no tragedy occurred. I still wonder if the driver was ever even aware of how close she came to killing people. Sounds like the driver that nearly got you saw what he nearly did, Quinn, and maybe it scared him enough to make him change his ways- but there’s plenty more like him out there.

  2. Paul–A brown bear? Those things are MEAN! and BIG! Hope he was on the motorcycle at the time and could outrun it, because you sure don’t on foot.

    Our traffic is nuts. This fall, we are going to drive from here to Arizona, and I fully expect the opposite effect–once we get out of this area, the drive will be a lot nicer. With the heavier bike, it will also be more comfortable. I just discovered why people who like comfort will buy a shaft drive over a chain drive.

  3. Thank heavens your riding skills outmatched the car driver’s cluelessness. May it always be so for you on the road.

    Traffic density around the DC area makes it a very challenging environment for motorcyclists. My older brother is an experienced rider who did a cross-country trip from New Mexico to visit us in Silver Spring. He had a great trip all the way until he had the misfortune of hitting the Beltway at evening rush on a Friday — he said it was the most terrifying experience of his life.

    This from a guy who once faced off with a brown bear.

    I add my voice to the chorus of people expressing relief at your safe return!

  4. Very very glad you’re still here. Scary 😦

    Here in Oz (anyway) it’s illegal to use your mobile phone while driving, and they say it’s equivalent to driving while drunk. It still doesn’t stop some people doing it.

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