It’s 3:30 AM on November 11, 2000 and I cannot sleep. I hear tires screeching and the impact of metal on metal. I had a terrifying experience and realized that my life could be over in a second thanks to a drunk driver. While bicycling early to try and avoid traffic because there are no safe places for a bicyclist to ride in Houston, an early morning drunk came upon two of us. We were stopped for a red light in the curb “bicycle lane”. We heard the loud screeching of tires. I saw in my mirror that the car was headed for us for a split second, when by some miracle he pulled back into the traffic lane and rear-ended the car that was sitting at a red light beside us. I saw it all like it was in slow motion. There was a loud crash, car parts flew and he pushed the car into the intersection. Then to our shock the drunk backed his badly damaged car from the car that he had just rear-ended and began to slowly drive away, leaving the scene of the accident that he had just caused. I don’t know where my presence of mind kicked in but I told my friend that I was bicycling with to help me memorize the car tag. It was not an easy tag to remember so we repeated the number and letters over and over until we could find something to write it down on. I called 911 to report the accident using my cell phone. Luckily the man that had been hit was not injured and my friend and I had not been hit. I was shocked when I looked at his car and it was barely damaged because the car that had hit him was badly damaged with a crumpled up hood and steam coming out of the radiator. The man was driving a Chrysler mid sized sedan and I am impressed with how it held up with the terrible impact that it had received. The police came and took an accident report. I was an eyewitness and I wanted to stay and help the man that had been hit to get it on record that he was an innocent victim. Why do I know this was a drunk? The police told me that someone else called to say that they had witnessed the same car that I had reported, with a crumpled up hood with steam coming out of the radiator and it was being driven by a person drinking whisky out of the bottle. Now we have three people who saw the same car and what one drunk can do.
How has this effected me? I am still shaking the next day. I am scared. I want a safe place to bicycle. My husband and I, along with some friends, really enjoy bicycling and the exercise that we get. But I may have to give it up out of fear of losing my life. I am a wife, a mother and a grandmother. I want to live to enjoy our “golden years” with my husband and to enjoy times with our adult children and to see our grandsons growing up.
We just want safe places to bicycle.
I used to bicycle a lot. We got a fair amount of harassment from drivers of cars, both in town and out of town. This is the most frightening experience that I had, besides taking a fall on my bicycle and ending up in surgery – that’s another story!