Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Hits of Yesterday

I remember before I'd left Canada for China, I asked a Chinese (from China) girl about biking in China. Is it dangerous? I'll need to get a helmet... She informed me, "If you wear a helmet in China, people will think you're... special." But it didn't take long on the roads of Beijing to realize that a helmet's not a bad idea.

I've witnessed numerous collisions involving bikes (only one involving a head injury), and had a few instances of forgettable contact myself.

Yesterday was my first real accident. Chill. I got off scot-free. Zero employment of my helmet.

It wasn't yet late, but the sky was already black. I was finishing up a rare recreational bike ride, and was 1 minute from arriving home.

I raced ahead to catch the green turning light, noting the approaching taxi who was turning into my lane. No problem, he'll see me. Generally speaking drivers somehow manage to find the brake pedal in time, regardless of the unpredictable shit that foggy drivers and pedestrians thrust in their path.

But this time he didn't see me. I yelled at him at full volume, thinking that my left leg could be on the brink of some serious pain. Then he hit, slamming on the brakes milliseconds later than preferable. I found myself amazingly having landed on my feet, completely unscathed. But the adrenalin at least got me to start yelling at this guy in broken chinese. "I have a green light! You are wrong!" He apologetically concurred that he was busy looking the other way.

A few people stopped to watch, before puttering on. This wasn't serious enough to garner a proper crowd.

I made a show of whipping out a red pen and writing down his license number on my arm. The driver was worried. But elated that I wasn't hurt. And that even the bike seemed alright. It did seem to be strangely untouched. The way things are handled in China, you could call the cops, but both parties usually prefer to take of their own business with one party passing cash to the other.

So i contemplated: 200rmb maybe? 100? But as the adrenaline receded I started to think about the life of the average cabby, the 14-24 hr shifts, dealing w/ drunks and idiots, relentless traffic and ubiquitous bonehead drivers...

Ok, ok, ok. You go. He smiled and pumped my hand with both of his. "Xiexie xiexie xiexie!" Yeah yeah, no problem.

I hopped on my bike and realized that it wasn't exactly riding properly. Eventually i realized the car had struck exactly one place on my bike: the side of the pedal. Thus warping the crank and/or bottom bracket. I groaned wondering if this was gonna cost me some coin. In the end it did: 5 kuai. Or 80cents to get it bent back into shape.

The end.

Lesson: use your front light. It's not useful sitting (conveniently) in your bag, you lazy punk.

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