Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mindfulness Works Both Ways

A Near Miss

Bicycling is great sport. I have fond memories of flying down hills, grinding up hills, breezing along with the breeze on a summer's day on bicycles. Now I walk (knees can't do cycling now)--and that's great too. Keeps me (sort of) healthy, clears my mind.

When walking, I try to be mindful of other things and people in motion--walkers, joggers, runners people riding  unicycles! (I saw a woman riding one fast, uphill on Highland, just a day or two ago!), as well as people in cars, trucks, vans, tractors, motorcycles, and all types of moving, wheeled vehicles. I'm especially aware of the latter, the main reason being that they're bigger than I am, they're heavier than I am. And not I, nor they, nor their drivers, are infallible. And I don't want to get squished.

On Sunday, driving north on S. Main Street, at just about dusk, I came up behind a bicyclist, also headed north on S. Main. There was no oncoming traffic. It was just dark enough that he or she blended into the dusk. She wore dark clothing. Only three or four reflective chevrons at the back of her shoes shone back at my headlights. I wasn't going fast--perhaps 30 mph, but it was only by the luck of the lumens that I saw her silhouette  in time to slow down and adjust to her speed. She was in the middle of the north-bound lane of traffic, getting ready, I suppose, to turn left on Highland Avenue. Then, she turned and I also turned left onto Highland at that intersection, which you may remember, is the site of several recent, pretty bad accidents.

She kept right on peddling at the same speed, without any indication of consciousness of another vehicle or person on the road--it seemed, as I was then passing on her left. She seemed to be totally insouciant--totally care-less. As if she could care less. Or perhaps she was just caught up in a cycler's "high," just ambling back after a great day on the road. Maybe she was singing or listening to an ipod. I'm not sure. I couldn't tell.

The incident scared the breath out of me. How easily things could have gone wrong. How easily I could have changed her life and mine. It had been such a beautiful day. I whispered a silent prayer as I listened to my heart start to slow down.

I commend the efforts of the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, the City of Middletown, and other organizations working toward  the creation of proper bike trails and bike lanes in Middletown. I think we need them.

But I look to individual riders, walkers, and drivers of every type of  vehicle, all, to keep an eye out for each other. We must.

We are all in this together.

A new detail: I realized last evening as I drove the same route that, for some reason, street lights along that part of the route, from Randolph Rd. to Highland Ave., may have been out that night--either not functioning or not yet turned on. Don't know why. Last night, the lights were definitely on and visibility was much better. (I could be wrong about street lights not being on Sunday night, but I don't think so.)

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