Livin’, lovin’ and transport violence

There are people who think traveling around campus is a Nintendo game.

Mat Koehler

Cha-splonk! It’s something we’ve all heard while walking through the busy campus thoroughfares – a simple, clunking noise that, depending on the volume and degree of stress, can make people laugh, cry or call 911. Cha-splonk is, of course, the distinct sound of a bicyclist being smacked forcefully by an automobile.

As both a driver and a bicyclist (never a walker – too slow), I’ve seen these spectacular crashes from both sides of the spectrum. Just last week, I witnessed a driver who waited at a stop sign, cautiously looking both ways before kicking the accelerator and crashing violently into an innocent, helmeted biker on the sidewalk.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed the female driver had been talking on a cell phone the entire time, probably interrupting the call to say, “Hold on, Jenny – some a-hole biker just jumped into the air and landed on my windshield. I’ll text-message you if he’s cute.”

This seems to be a sad trend in car-bike accidents. No, not female drivers – I’m referring to cell phone usage. Drivers who talk on phones on campus limit their range of vision, and naturally, the quick bicyclists that flank them are ignored.

But you might be saying, “What about all those bikers that talk on cell phones?” To this, I respond, “Yeah, what’s with that?” I’ve tried it a couple times. One attempt resulted in a mighty over-the-handlebars crash and ended with a gentle docking maneuver: I parked squarely into the butt cheeks of the poor girl in front of me. Sorry about that, whoever you are – I hope you got those tread marks out of your sweat pants.

I think it’s safe to say that cell phones should not be used while driving or biking anywhere on campus. But even so, there are still those people that think transportation is a game of “Paperboy.”

When I’m driving, I’ll see bicyclists blow through stop signs and red lights without looking. When I’m biking, I’ll see cars roll through righthand turns at stop signs like they’re trying to hit squirrels. This makes transportation on either type of vehicle nearly impossible. There are bound to be crashes, and quite honestly, I’m afraid my time will come. Also, I’m not sure which side I want to be on.

Hitting a bicyclist with my car would probably make me very sad, and the guilt of laughing at the “cha-splonk” sound would just enhance the depression. However, getting hit by a car might result in very extreme pain, potentially re-breaking all my frail bones. Even so, it would be pretty sweet to say you got lit up by an SUV. Maybe then my girlfriend would show some sympathy and pretend that she cared for me.

There’s little I can do to change my fate while traveling around campus, but I ask that everyone just take it slow, put away your phones and keep your eyes open. Oh, and if I’m ever walking anywhere, I ask that you please refrain from parking your front bike tire between my cheeks.

That looks friggin’ painful.

Mat Koehler welcomes comments at [email protected]