Last night, I drove my son to an event, and my go-to route to the location goes through a roundabout.
It was about 6pm in Indiana in December, so that means it was dark.
I went through the roundabout and took the turn onto the road of my choosing, and my lights came upon a couple of joggers — not that matters, but because they’re young, and fit, one male and one female, I would guess they’re a couple and perhaps a married couple — come bounding into the crosswalk.
I immediately brake. A look of terror came to the female jogger’s eyes, and she reversed her movement and jumped back to the safety of the curb.
I waved my hand, which considering I was in a darkend car, behind a pair of headlights, was a futile gesture, but they got the jist and ran on.
Everyone walked away, so that’s fine. But it still hangs in my head.
On my side, I’ve noticed an issue with my car. Being that I’m a very tall person and the car was manufactured by a Japanese company, I can’t help but think this wasn’t designed for me. Specifically, the rear-view mirror has been known to block my view of the intersection to my right. Was that a factor? I honestly have no way to tell.
On their end, the couple were wearing black lycra running clothes, and there was reflective writing on the arm, but dark spandex maked them essentially Fitness Ninjas, and once they crossed the intersection they slunk back into the night.
I flash on a quote from Neal Stephenson’s novel, Zodiac, about an environmental activist and urban bicyclist in Boston. “IF you’ve put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order to be safe — to see you, and to give a fuck — you’ve already blown it.”
By that philosophy, it wouldn’t matter if your running attire wasn’t reflective, although that novel’s protagonist intentionally had no lights on his bike, because you see my car, give it a wide berth, and only pass when you know its safe, when I’ve passed.
I rarely engage in fitness, and when I do, it’s usually indoors, so the reflectiveness of my gear is of no consequence. What is of consequence is my driving. This was an near-miss, which is in the class of miss, but it could have easily gone the other way. I try to be aware of my surroundings when I drive, but I had no clue they were there before they were in my headlights. Was I being a complacent driver?
That it happened at a roundabout brings up a wrinkle; two years ago, it would’ve been a four-way stop, and I would’ve come to a complete stop anyway. I’m not against roundabouts, but really, the whole point of them is that you don’t have to stop.
I don’t have an answer beyond trying to be more observant at night. Maybe, take another route next time, and that isn’t satisfying.