It’s been a few weeks now since this happened – enough time to calm down, be a bit less reactive and stop my knees from knocking.
* Initially posted on May 12 2012: Recent media reports about accidents involving longboarders sharing public roads with traffic certainly brought my incident from last year back to mind. It was really that close to a serious situation.
The scene: 5:00 pm or so mid-week: The road that runs from the TCH underpass by the RCMP station down past the Health Unit and levelling off as it approaches the Jackson school campus. It’s a curved hill that is a challenge to cycle up and a hoot– given its drop and curves to blast down. I’ve done both!
The participants: One driver – that would be me – entering onto that road from 16th street. A second driver – shortly to be introduced – coming up from Jackson and the Health Unit. One longboarder, crouched in a tuck, blasting down the hill from the RCMP station fast – likely much faster than the speed limit. He wasn’t even noticeable on the road yet as I turned right onto the road to go down past the Health Unit.
A young guy, 16 or so, wearing a full coverage blue motorcross-type helmet going so fast that he couldn’t even come close to stopping. By the time I had turned onto the road, he had appeared from almost a block away, desperately tried to slow down (but nowhere near enough) as he approached the back of my vehicle and then decided to pass me by going into the oncoming lane – just as the other vehicle arrived on the scene going uphill. The young man passed between our two vehicles with not much room to spare.
He made it partly because of his skill but mainly because the two drivers were able to react appropriately. This all happened in an instant.
I caught up with him near Jackson. He was polite … and I think shaking as much as I was.
On the weekend a few days later and a bit closer to Jackson, three younger boarders were downhilling in the middle of that road oblivious to the cars right behind them – all while wearing headphones and obviously focussed on their music and boarding techniques. I was walking! It wasn’t a near miss at all but their lack of road safety awareness was worrisome.
I understand that the RCMP do monitor this stretch of the road but a number of lives could have been changed in a flash in my long-boarding encounter.
Please talk to your kids parents.