Sunday, May 1, 2011

Remember when the river flowed up the mountain?

Zoo the other afternoon through the old 105mm.
This morning I woke up to a text message and a voice mail, both inquiring if I had heard about the auto hit and run fatality of a human on a bike at 0551hrs near the South End.  According to a local news source, the death by vehicle happened predawn on Poindexter Drive near the intersection of Lawndale Road.  The victim was Carl Hedrick, a 29 year old who was apparently visiting some friends in Charlotte.   After running over the victim, the car driver hit the gas in a conscious effort to run from the truth that he or she created, while two people could do nothing but watch their friend die of traumatic injuries.  The car, which has been described as an older light colored Toyota Corolla or Tercel with front damage was last seen headed towards South Boulevard.  If you have any information because you are connected to the incident or just searched the cloud over Hong Kong looking for insight, please do what is natural and contact CMPD Detective Kevin Allred of the Major Crash Unit at 704.432.2169. 

Seems like I have feelings that are not yet thoughts about this latest cycling related death by auto in Charlotte. In the now, the time that I spend riding my bike for the Monday through Friday daily continues to fill my senses with the authenticity of the experience.  While remaining car contact free for the past seven years or so, I never stop thinking about the catastrophic potential energy transfer that could happen if I wind up in front of one from any angle accelerating towards my human form.  Just yesterday I was rolling a Saturday Stay Alive into the big buildings to guide 13 riders on a 'Beginners' bike tour of the downtown Charlotte area.  It is a route that I am very familiar with, and the closer to town I get, the more options I have to ride a variety of quiet neighborhood streets that all take me to the same destination.

The gentle climb up McClintock Road in the cool morning air under a cloudless saturated blue sky reminded me of some place I had been a long time ago.  Random vibrant green topped old hardwoods stood tall up the long sloping landscape, their big round canopies weren't there a month ago and now they were swaying lightly in the early breeze.  Rolling by the big church, I thought about going left towards Commonwealth but quickly changed my mind.  For whatever reason, this morning I stayed straight with my back to the sun on McClintock for the Plaza on the flat up over the hill. 

At ten meters and closing for the stop sign at the Plaza I started slowing down knowing that this can be a precarious intersection to cross.  Straight through the intersection I take a gravel parking lot alley to Thomas Street for more options.   Most mornings I have to come to a complete stop because of Plaza commuter car cross traffic, but on a Saturday it felt and was quiet.  Except for one, one potential killer in a small brown colored sports car coming down the Plaza from way of Central accelerating for a quick turn onto McClintock towards my space, on my side of the stop sign.  Yes, at that point in time it was mine.

Slowing the gear still not at the sign but life alarmed, and looking into the approaching windscreen I saw the dark driver's large white eyeballs as he realized he was cutting a corner.  His eyes looked surprised, not aware or paying attention at all.  A prevalent condition of the auto culture of this fine city.  My intuition in complete survival mode not wanting a head on crash at this speed, screamed at him something that I do not remember.  He was cutting it so close to his left that there was no where and time space for me to go.  Either his intuition kicks in by simultaneously widening his turn right (he had plenty of room, which is where he should have been in the first place) and letting off the gas, or he is going to hit me head on and cause a serious problem.

I leaned right, and he came about wider at speed, we missed by a meter before I even made it to the right edge of the white stop line.  There I held up for a second turning to see if he had stopped and was wanting to discuss the matter at hand.  Oh yeah, his eyes, his car, his presence in the now are all dead giveaways that he did not give one shit about what had just really happened.  My heart rate was up a bit until I made it to Pecan, then the quiet street settled me down with the understanding of how comfortable I felt right then.  Tomorrow morning I will go through that spot again, as I will many times forward future.  

Condolences to the family and friends of Carl Hedrick, I am very saddened to hear about his death this morning.  For anyone who reads this post and is actively following the two wheeled path, please be careful and watch the place that you put your machine and human form, this town is as dangerous as any other American metro and that is not a joke.  Like someone smart once tried to instill in me, make every ride count...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad series of events, but a great post. Not sure what is going on right now in the Queen City, but I have had more close calls commuting uptown in the last month than I had all last year.