I talked to a friend last night who commented that I only write about the crazy and/or unfortunate stuff that happens to me here. While I don’t necessarily think that’s entirely true, I do think those episodes are definitely more entertaining to read (and to write). So, on to another mishap!
Yesterday marked my first attempt to ride the bike in to town to pick up T-Rex from kindergarten. Our public transportation pass ran out, and for now we are not buying another one. No more easy peasy lemon squeezy trips in to the city center. Bummer. My legs are very, very sad.
On the way in to town, I only had Screech in the family car. Thank God. Why? It’s uphill, a slow and steady form of lower body torture. I had the grand idea of stopping somewhere on the way home to eat a picnic lunch with the boys. Until my grand idea got one-upped by a dark rain cloud with a voice like the Wizard of Oz bellowing, “think again, Mama.”
As I was enjoying the downhill ride home, I noticed two college-aged girls coming toward me. Going the wrong way. And hogging the entire bike lane. I’m sure you’re aware that Germans like order and while these girls were smacking their culture in the face, one of them smacked right in to my bike trailer.
Have you ever been in a bike accident? This was my first one. I was a total newb. I have to say it’s about as bad as a car accident, just a teensy eensy bit less because of the lack of crumpled metal. But the shock and the tears are still present. Especially when you hear your child crying. Talk about totally freaking out. And then you start shouting. At the top of your lungs. In English. Because you can’t scream in German.
Only then did the girl stop. I think T-Rex’s tears made her feel really bad. I racked my brain trying to think if I had done anything wrong or could have done anything to prevent it. No, I was half in the pedestrian lane to accommodate for their carelessness and flippancy in the face of the law. I’m a rule follower, I have to admit.
She asked me if I wanted her address. Why in the world would I want to go visit you? She asked if T-Rex needed a doctor. Thankfully, no. I gave her a stern talkin’ to as if I was 50 years older than her and walked off shaking. I realized later that she hit the trailer so hard that it popped open that back that was totally velcroed. The bike path was strewn with bananas and baby carriers formerly secured in an elastic pouch. At least my kids are okay. Thank you again, God.
Because I am a rule follower, I started fretting later that maybe I should have done something different in that situation. I know what to do after a car accident in the US. But a bike accident in another country? Doc Sci asked around at work and discovered there is such thing as personal insurance. Think avoid-a-frivolous-lawsuit-by-purchasing-homeowner’s-insurance but for you personally. If you accidentally open your car door into an old lady and she breaks a hip, you have this insurance. The Germans really do think of everything. Note to self: consider purchasing a similar product with a hefty coverage amount to cover potentially hazardous effects of carting around two toddlers daily.
My internet search for what to do didn’t come up with as much as info as Doc Sci obtained. But I did find this. Of particular interest to me…
5. You only get fined for cycling crimes if you cause an accident. Again: usually. According to a cycle-themed edition of Prinz magazine which I have before me, if you cause an accident going through a red light which has been red for longer than a second (love that German precision), you can be fined €100 and get a point on your driving licence. Hurt a pedestrian while hurtling through a pedestrian zone and you can be charged €20. Pay €30 if you cause havoc cycling in the wrong direction. Interestingly, you can also be fined €25 for talking on your mobile while cycling, and if you are caught cycling drunk you can be taken to court.
I also found all kinds of totally scary accounts of people being crushed to death under wheels of semi’s turning right while the cyclist properly in the bike lane goes straight. And speaking of opening car doors in to old ladies, it seems that this is also a popular way to die for cyclist. Yes, I am totally freaked out now. Wow.