Last night I went to the Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) monthly meeting, which I’ve been meaning to attend for quite some time. The meeting was great. Though I was the only non-biker there, I felt very welcomed and was excited to hear about WOBO’s recent successes.
After the meeting, a bunch of us decided to head over to Z Bar for a drink. Most everyone biked over there, but one of the WOBO leaders was kind enough to walk his bike over with me. We walked down 27th from Harrison, and when we reached Broadway, we needed to cross the street. Since 27th intersects with Broadway at an angle, there’s a short pedestrian crosswalk with no light that crosses in front of the right turn lane onto Broadway. A car was stopped at the crosswalk. We made eye contact with the passenger and then started walking across the crosswalk.
After we had walked several steps and were right in front of the center of the car (almost directly in front of the driver), the driver accelerated and started driving forward. Since I was closer to the car, the car hit me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but apparently I flew up just a bit in the air.
The driver stopped almost immediately. I think all of us were in shock because we all just sort of froze there. Eventually, I kind of glared at the driver, motioning to him that he needed to at least apologize. So he rolled down his window and offered a lame apology, saying he didn’t see us. I told him that next time he should be more careful and pay more attention.
I’m a bit shaken from the experience, but aside from a huge bruise on my leg and my back hurting a bit more than usual, I’m fine.
But being hit by a car as a pedestrian got me a bit riled up. It was so clear to me that the driver had not even been looking for pedestrians and bikers because he was so fixated on looking to his left for oncoming car traffic. To him, we were essentially invisible.
WOBO has a lot of work to do, not only to get the City to increase visibility and safety for pedestrians and bikers, but also to increase awareness among car drivers. WOBO’s doing a big membership push right now so if you want to help insure that fewer accidents like mine last night occur, please sign up to become a member. Basic membership is $35 and for a $50 donation, you’ll get a brand new WOBO t-shirt.
And if you’re a driver, please remember to always look out not only for oncoming car traffic but for pedestrian and bicycle traffic too. You could end up saving a life, or at least avoiding an accident.