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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Scene of the Crime

Okay, I took another look at the Evil Grate of Northbound Baltimore in the River Market. There's one just like it in the southbound lane, but this is the one that made a very credible attempt to paralyze me by sending me ass over teakettle as I casually rode along on Saturday.

I know, I'm lucky I wasn't going faster, it could have been a broken collarbone or even a broken neck if I had. But I learned today that to top all this off, I get to go under the knife next Tuesday. Seems the break on my left ring finger is just the tip busted off and it should heal fine with just the splint. As a guitarist, that one still makes me nervous, but people who went to school an awful lot tell me not to worry.

The right middle, the finger that is splinted into a perma-bird, on the other hand is broken right where the ligaments tie in, right at the joint. For this, the plan is to put me under general anesthetic (a scary thing itself), cut me open and nail or screw shit together.

Going downtown I wondered if I remembered the grate accurately. After all, I got my bell rung pretty soundly and can't remember how I got to the Cafe Al Dente restroom I cleaned up in. I remember riding along, I'm guessing more than 10 mph and less than 20 (I don't recall looking at the speedometer, but given its at the bottom of a shallow hill, I'd believe 10 mph if I started from a stop, closer to 20 if we had the green light I think maybe we did).

I thought maybe I'd get there and the grate would be smaller or less perfect a trap designed to maim cyclists. Because I saw it coming without time to even grab the brakes. I didn't really believe my eyes, I was looking down and thinking, 'That's wider then my tire' and bam.

This grate is the perfect grate to maim and kill cyclists (and those people who get around on Rascal scooters who are, I suppose, already maimed and probably not going fast enough to get killed).

I thought I had a tape measure in my car and couldn't find it. I borrowed one, a floppy thing that only went to 60 inches. As far as I can tell, the grate is 64 inches wide and 29-1/2 from north to south. Depth, well, my bicycle wheel goes pretty near axle deep in this sucker.

On the south side of the intersection, there's another that has two perpendicular crosses that might almost pass for a safe grate, and for all I know I may have rolled over it successfully.

I tried measuring the spacing of the slats. The skinniest was 1.75". The widest, where something bent the grate over near the edge, is almost big enough for a foot to fall through.

I'm sure this grate predates personal injury law, but I know I'm not the first victim. If Kansas City has the money to make a bike lane on the HOA bridge and bask in the positive PR for that, they have the probably $20 it would cost to replace an iron grate. Maybe if they didn't piss away millions on crooked TIF deals like the P&L and fight over whether the mayor's wife comes to work, that sorry excuse for a city hall could get around to things like basic infrastructure.

Long and short of it, this thing is even more inherently dangerous than I remembered. Maybe a mountain bike with exceptionally fat tires would get over it, but nothing skinnier. And it might even bite a MB tire and throw a guy.

My face seemed to be the worst of my injuries at first. My cheek broke my fall. But it's not as swollen, the road rash is starting to peel, and the doc today didn't think I broke any bones in there or otherwise needed plastic surgery any more than I did before the crash. My hands, though...

Not to mention my bent bicycle frame. Good thing I'm on chrome-moly and not carbon fiber, pretty sure carbon would have shattered like plate glass on this one.

1 comment:

PlazaJen said...

I'm not the most litigious person in the universe, but I really think you have a case with the city. At the minimum, to cover your medical expenses, the damage to the bike, and any work-loss due to the injuries. That grate is bullshit, and they need to fix it. You have enough photographic evidence (and witnesses!) that I would say it's pretty open and shut.