All the technology in the world won’t help if you’re not willing to even check your rearview mirror. Yet again, Nancy Irwin finds herself the victim of someone with a blind reliance on gizmos.
Check your darn mirror
Grrr… I’m pissed. This is the second time I’ve been hit by a truck this riding season, and both times they were going backward! Seriously, this is no joke. Try explaining how you got knocked off your bike while stopped in traffic, by a truck going backwards. All I can say is, good thing that both times I was outside their tire line, or it would have been worse. Were we able to split lanes, it would never have happened at all.
This time I was coming home from work. Eight hours in 34C weather (45C factoring in humidity) was enough heat to melt my core. My ride along the Gardiner Expressway didn’t cool me. The traffic at the left turn to get off Lakeshore was three lights long—I was melting.
I was almost through the light, but the same could be said about the big red truck in front of me. The difference between him and me was that he was directly behind a tractor-trailer that blocked the traffic signal from view. He saw that he no longer had the advance green when he was already in the intersection. He could have proceeded; the other side had not yet turned green. Instead, he decided to back up.
I had stopped behind the line, but suddenly this truck was backing into me. Then I was hit. Next, I was standing, but my bike wasn’t. I guess he heard the horn or the sound of metal to metal. He got out of his extra-large pickup and stared.
Then came the funny part. I was already trying to pick my bike up but she’s heavy, and can I say I wasn’t in the best position? The others now had a green, and three lanes of traffic sure weren’t stopping for me. He was a strong looking man in his 40s, and I shouted at him to help me pick up my bike. He started to say something that sounded like nothing I wanted to hear. I said, NOW! He stopped talking and in a moment Casper was upright, with me on the wrong side. He asked me if I was okay and I said I didn’t know. I was a bit shaky getting back on from the left.
I had the rest of the light to get sorted. The mirror was adjusted not broken, my new left crash bar scratched deep and my turn signal bent. We agreed to meet in the parking lot.
I gave Casper a good once over. The right crash bar looked okay, maybe. The one with the paint scraped down to the metal from some awkward interaction with his shiny chrome bumper seemed otherwise undamaged, and I’m not going to worry about a scratch. My left turn signal mount was partially broken. My lower leg had a slight souvenir burn and my elbow stung. Pulling up my sleeve revealed an injury only a baby would cry about, but I must have hit pavement if my elbow got scraped, right?
I asked if he was a biker? Don’t know why. He said no, not a biker. Used to be. Four years ago. Now a family man. While I stood confused, thinking many riders have families, he explained he’s no longer an outlaw. Hum. I said I didn’t think you could retire. Ah, well, he is still associated—socially, of course. So when I told him my bike is 26 years old and I’m now having issues getting parts, he said not to worry, the boys could find whatever I needed. For a BMW? He said I’d be surprised. I wouldn’t know; I tend to steer clear. The outlaw scene never looked like a good one for an independent woman like me.
Huff. I looked to see if there was anything else that could possibly have been damaged. She is a bit old and worn looking. But she’s mechanically fit, mostly stock and well maintained, if cosmetically original. We could barely see the scratch our interaction had made on the huge plastic lens of his pristine 2013 truck, and the bumper looked new. He asked how much I thought the part would cost. I guessed it could be a hundred, maybe more. He did politely check that I didn’t want to go through the insurance hassle, and offered $200 cash to call it good. I said I’d let him know if it was less, or more. I wasn’t looking to profit.
I jumped into his air-conditioned truck and we drove to the bank. We laughed about how I had to yell at him to help pick up my bike. Don’t know why he hesitated— especially being a biker. Perhaps he was looking at the passing traffic from a safe distance while I was standing on the wrong side of Casper, looking at it coming right at me.
What a truck! Talk about bells and whistles. He has a computer, a GPS thing, located down where coffee would be. It tells him if there’s anything behind when backing up. He demonstrated the gizmo and said he looked at the computer before he hit me—it had showed clear. I realize that might be good for garages and trash cans, but you can’t rely on a computer to replace mirrors or shoulder checks. Know that saying, “look twice, save a life?” I could see what was behind us in his side view mirror and in the little convex mirror on that. Had he just looked at the mirror, not the computer, he’d have seen me. Ridiculous. Perhaps the big black truck that backed into me the first time (to let someone make a left onto a side street) had a computer too.
When I got home I checked MAX BMW’s website and saw I only needed a bracket, and can mount the existing turn signal to it—$29, plus shipping. Then I realized I was going to have to remove the handlebars and the fork nut to replace the bent piece. I will also have to remove the gas tank to disconnect the wires and successfully break the turn signal off the original bracket and glue it onto the new one.
I called the shop to make sure the part was available. Then I called the driver to bitch, and said I overestimated the cost. He said to keep the rest. When I told him all the work I was going to have to do to replace it, he said not to worry, the boys could take care of that, their mechanics … I said thanks but I’d do it myself. I think that confused him. He has no idea who he hit.
Before we shook hands and parted, I joked that if they boys can get anything, I want a K Model. He had no idea what that was. I tossed him a clue. There are two Ks, and one is not a Harley. Ask the boys. Surely they will know. I’ve lusted after the 1952-56 K series that preceded the Sportster. Not sure what I’d do with one, but I’d love to find out.