*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Asphalt Belly Flop

If you ride, you crash.  If you ride hard, you crash hard; fast, fast; stupid, stupid.  You decide which describes what happened to me last week.

Tokyo's a safer, but more stressful, city to ride than Toronto.  Roads are busier and narrower, corners blind, people pass closer and the 'yankee'-piloted scooters are an abomination, but these are perceived dangers.  Japanese laws punish the heavier vehicle in any collision, right or wrong*, making the Japanese driver more attentive than the Canadian, though arguably more likely to 'hit and run'.  I wonder, but it's possible that accidents happen more often than in Toronto; however, since traffic speeds are much slower the consequences are much less: I'd far rather be hit four times at 15 km/h than once at 60.

I crashed again.  I have gone down on Toronto ice, on Toronto streetcar tracks and on an unpainted Toronto speed-bump; I have gone down on metal plates in Japanese construction zones because I had no lights, and now been taken down by a fucking Borg.  Because of Japanese law* I will not tell you if he went down, but I can tell you that he was unhurt, the bastard.

If you thought the unsightly railings along Japanese sidewalks were to protect pedestrians from drivers, you do not know how fucking stupid Japanese walkers and cyclists** are.  The dick thought I needed reminding by making a right-angled turn from the sidewalk onto the street without turning his head to look, through a gap in the railing.  Have you ever once seen a Japanese person turn their head?  Peripheral vision?  I'll have to test the J-wife.  Through evasion and over-correction I ended up Superman-ing over the handlebars.

It's fine that Aikido taught me to roll; however, when inertia is headed to a railing, options decrease.  I managed to spread out my mass in an improvised belly-flop, keeping my head off the street.***  Apart from bar-tape the bike is fine: more justification for fixed-gear.  I am not badly off: scrapes on knees and forearms, a hyper-extended ring-finger right and mashed thumb-heel left.  Note: ride wearing gloves, and be glad for cold weather gear in a crash.

As I was half of the way to work, I had to dust myself off and continue the other half of the ride through central Tokyo with both hands hurting each time I used the brakes: the left hand on the more important brake hurting more.  Much fun!  Bike remains locked at work until the day I can use brakes properly.  The toddler and infant I cannot abandon.  When they don't blithely pull on one of the damaged fingers I am reminded of the accident by pain when I pick them up.  As ever, thankful against what could have been worse.

*Japanese law and psychology both cannot manage 'spirit of the law'.
**Cyclists on the sidewalk, bien sûr
***Still having never hit my head, determined to keep wearing a helmet against the day I do.


  1. Glad to hear it wasn't much worse - although if it had been you'd probably not be posting on your blog. Every time I almost talk myself into getting a bike, I heard about someone getting hurt. At least in Japan it's usually just stupidity not open aggression.

    1. You should ride. There are risks, but I take more of them than many, as I ride with some aggression. There are more lifestyle-disease risks being an indolent driver. I don't know anything about your commuting practices, so that's a general comment. The statistics put cyclists lives as longer and healthier, though N. American suburban drivers set their bar pretty low.

  2. One of our teachers was hit on his way to work on his bicycle, he helmet totally saves his life. He was pretty hurt, but his helmet really did save his life. He was off work for part of the school year even.
    Glad your injuries were not too severe.