A Monologue with the Æther


Around 15 November 1990, I collide with a pedestrian on Market Street near 5th Street while attempting to get from 388 Market Street to the Recorders Office in San Francisco City Hall, about 1.5 miles. I had around 5 minutes to get there; the office closed at 16:00. Technically, the person to whom I was delivering the items had to wait until I arrived before leaving, but she was a complete bitch if you showed up after close of business even if only by 5 or fewer minutes. I was doing a good job of making the lights and making good time until I reached 5th Street.

The signal began changing as I entered the intersection. I looked behind me to see if I could move to the center lane because I was concerned that I wouldn’t clear the opposite crosswalk before the light changed. During rush hour or pretty much anytime, pedestrians in SF will start crossing as soon as the light changes in their favor whether or not the intersection is clear. My concerns were, however, unnecessary as I was traveling fast enough to easily clear the intersection. Unfortunately for me, I cleared the intersection before returning my attention forward where I spotted a pedestrian tens of feet beyond the crosswalk in the middle of the center lane in my direct path.

Collision was imminent. The pedestrian was paying no attention to traffic and appeared to be trying to identify the buses across the street. I shouted, “oh, shit”. I tried to curve around him, throwing my weight left to shift the bicycle, but it didn’t work. Instead of freezing like a deer in the headlights, the pedestrian pivots towards me. We lock shoulders, and I face plant over my handle bars for the second time in my life. Fortunately, I’m wearing a helmet this time and it takes most of the damage. I escape with only spots above my lip and to the right of my chin needing stitches and a broken big toe on my left foot.