Julia Hansen published "She was biking too close to traffic" in Tell Your Story 2016-09-15 09:48:44 -0400
Almost a year ago, as I was biking my usual route to work from Cambridge to Boston, I was struck by a car. I was riding about 1/3 of the way into the car lane as there was no bike lane on this two-lane thoroughfare in downtown Boston. As bike and car collisions go, this one was really lucky - the car came up behind me and its rear view mirror tapped my handlebars at a pretty slow speed. Of course, this was enough to throw the bike out from under me, landing me in the middle of the road in front of oncoming traffic. But again, I was really lucky because the driver behind me stopped and got out to see if I was ok. This happened in front of a fire house, so all the firemen ran out to pick me up as well (lucky me!).I escaped with just scrapes and bruises and a wrist to watch for a fracture, but in the end no issues. Nevertheless, an ambulance was called and I ended up in the ER, where a policeman came to talk to me and write up a report. His questions were cavalier, non-specific and unconcerned. After 5 minutes he handed me a scrap of paper from his notepad with the number of my report on it written in unclear handwriting, and left.Since I was pretty much ok, other than still experiencing regular feelings of panic when cars pass too close to me, I didn't follow up with the Boston police. When I started receiving medical bills for the ER I wrote to the police department to get a copy of the report to show my insurance that I had been hit by a car, and that I should not be responsible for the medical costs. In the description of the report, the driver was depicted as a saint ("didn't see anything, when she heard a bump she thought she had hit another car so she pulled over and when she saw the cyclist ran up to see if she was ok") while I was described as irresponsible, having "admitted to have been biking close to traffic".Where else could have I been biking other than in the travel lane if there was no bike lane? How can not seeing someone ahead of you in your lane at 8 am absolve you from running into them? The attitude and behavior of the police officer confirmed that in his and the establishment's eyes I had no right to be there and had simply gotten in the way.