Bicycle Accidents – Common in Japan.

Another brush with death this morning. Well, perhaps not exactly brushing with death but it close. Indeed had it not been for my ukemi ability, I may have ended up with serious injuries. Yes, folks it was yet another bicycle accident. This time I slammed into a mother carrying two kids (one on the back one and one on the front) on a standard Osaka, Mama-Chari – a mommy bike with seats front and rear for kids.

It happened like this: mom decided to take a short cut across a main road and didn’t see me heading straight for her. Her kid on the back saw me and started yelling for his mom to stop. Mom, however, was yelling back at him telling him to shut up. I was hauling on both brakes but all to no avail -BANG!! I flew through the air with the greatest of ease a daring young man without a trapeze. It was a perfect tobu ukemi. My bike skidded to the left and crashed to the road; twisting the handlebars and buckling the rear wheel. Mom and kids were knocked on their asses – flat on their backs in the center of the road. The kids were screaming and after a minute, mom sat up and began scratching her head with a ‘what-the-fuck-happened’ look on her face. I jumped up quickly and picked up one of the kids and carried him to the sidewalk. Mom struggled to her feet and did the same with the other kid.

Within minutes the police arrived – seven of them – followed by a wailing ambulance. The paramedics jumped out of their vehicle and started asking if we were all right. One of the kids had a bloodied face, so he was carted to the ambulance where a tissue was shoved up his nose. This was followed by one of the paramedics suggesting to a police officer that he and his partner take mom and the kids to a near hospital to be checked out. The cop agreed and then asked me, in broken English, “Do you want to go?” I’m OK, I told him. The ambulance left with its siren howling and its tires screeching. Then there was just me – me and seven cops. There were also about twenty rubber-necks having a good gander at the gaijin.

The police started their inquiry. “Where were you coming from?” “What country are you from?” “Why are you in Japan?”, you know all the relevant questions one expects to be asked after an accident. “Did you see the mother and kids?” “If you saw them why didn’t you stop?” “Was the light blue?” I did my best to answer without being a smart ass but it was difficult.

So, after about an hour of explaining with happened, marching out in the middle of the road a few dozen times and pointing to where we collided (the cops held up the traffic while we stood in the middle of the road.), I was finally released and ordered to go to the hospital to see if the mom and her kids were all right. I rode to the hospital (it was near) met the mother, talked with the kids. The police had told mom that we – her and I – were both in the wrong. As far as I’m concerned, however, she is 100% in the wrong. Silly woman.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dale Jones
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 06:28:37

    Why go as far as Japan? According to the NHTSA, 51% of bicyclists never (or hardly ever) wear a helmet, most of them don’t even realize they have to, and only 8% have undergone any sort of bicycle safety training.

    As a bicyclist and a father, this is sad, frustrating and infuriating. Nothing’s going to change until someone high up decided bicyclists are important enough.


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