I’m officially Oxfordian.
For over a year and a half I’d been slogging it as an ex-pat, but now I’m truly one of the Oxford people. Surely, my habit of recycling and composting everything places me amongst the high echelon of ex-pats, but now… now I am one of them.
School’s back in session, which of course means that the once peaceful streets of Oxford are now cluttered with sleep-deprived parents dragging children by the hair to institutions of higher learning. As I made my way across Donnington-Weir Bridge I noticed clusters of four-door sedans doing their best to make space which defies the law of physics in the bike lanes. (I’m sorry, madam, but your four door is not a motorcycle.) I even had to tap on one car to have a man, sans any children, react in surprise to see a person in a BRIGHT YELLOW JACKET trying to cycle next to him in that lane he was trying to usurp as his own.
“Geez,” I thought, “I need to be more careful. People are really driving weird today.” So I turned onto Abingdon Road and proceeded to be taken in another direction by a car which decided that myself and my little bicycle needed to go elsewhere.
This is one for “I didn’t see it coming.” Because, well, I didn’t.
I had gotten up to speed (well, speed for my bike) when a black four-door Focus proceeded to overtake and turn into the street ahead. What this lovely individual did not realise was that I was also being taken with her, screaming, around the corner. I had enough sense to realize I had to ditch the bike because if not I very well could’ve become a new undercarriage feature. I hopped off and fell, gaining a scrape that bled worse than it was, and found myself standing in the middle of the street chanting, “I’m okay, I’m okay…”
But the woman kept driving. She never even looked at me.
I could see the faces of two children pressed against the glass of the backseat. I ran after the car, the kids looked at me, puzzled. A woman had pulled her car around the corner and parked it. She jumped out of the car, ran up to the lady who appeared to be in a slow chase out of the scene, pointed at her and said, “YOU HIT HER! STOP!” The driver did. Then, without another word she marched straight up to me and helped me to the side of the road. She picked up the bike, she helped reconstruct my wire basket. And she scowled at the lady who proceeded to sit in the car. She kept asking over and over if I was alright. She said it was horrible, she’d witnessed it, she said, “She just hit you. There was no reason for it, she just hit you like you weren’t there.” We were both stunned that I had no other injuries and the bike was fine.
The driver got out of the car. Approaching me all she could say was, “Sorry.” She then backed away, slowly, got in her car and left.
The woman who had rescued me was more concerned with me than to carry on with the lady who had hit me. Though, in hindsight, we probably should’ve made a complaint. I rolled into work late and had some rousing bike accident stories told to me, and a stern warning to do everything in my power NOT to cycle near schools at the start of term. Now, I’m still shaking a bit but overall I’m plus one bandage and minus one sense of trust over Oxford drivers.
So, to the lady who stopped the woman who hit me: “THANK YOU.” I really, truly appreciate that you did your best to help me and I’m really grateful that I didn’t end up more hurt. I’m glad that there are wonderful people in Oxford, and fellow cyclists, who understand and can reach out to help those who have accidents. Because, had you not been there, I’m pretty darn sure the woman who hit me would’ve kept going and never looked back.
And to the lady who hit me, just saying sorry isn’t enough. You had two children in your car who you are in charge of setting an example for. Your decision to drive away, even after a pause, is unacceptable. Granted, there really wasn’t more you could do but if you can hear me on my little blog: PAY ATTENTION TO CYCLISTS. Especially in Oxford, I mean, COMMON, we’re freaking everywhere!
And Finally, to Oxford. I think you should keep me now after my initiation. I survived, I love this weird town, and I’m not done with you yet. So stop trying to bump me off.