Chapter 29
Run Over by a Bike

Hidden support network?

Ms. T. was in the square today, crossing the main intersection. Ten feet in front of her, a middle-aged man was hit by a bicycle going full speed through the intersection. To be fair, the light was still green for the biker, so the pedestrians had actually begun to cross against the light. But there were no cars, right?, so off they went, the whole crowd from the curb. This man was just unlucky enough to be first in line.

That's not the unusual part of the story. A pedestrian being clobbered by a bicycle is not news. Dog bites man. A man sitting across the street, dressed like a normal civilian in this neighborhood, comes over in seconds, pulls out his phone, calls for an ambulance -- not just 911 but a separate number direct to the EMTs -- and an ambulance and police arrive in about ninety seconds. If you and I call 911 for a car accident, it's at least five minutes before anything happens. (I've done it twice, and five minutes was my optimistic estimate. In Texas, admittedly, not here.)

So, what might one conclude from this incident? First, there seems to have been a first responder right there, waiting for something to happen. This is a very busy intersection and there are probably multiple incidents per day. People and cars, people and bikes, people and people, people and panhandlers, maybe even people and purse-snatchers. Probably a really good use of resources to have someone always watchful. Second, there must have been an ambulance in the immediate neighborhood. I don't see them touring like taxis, and I don't know of an EMT stand like a taxi stand. But they must have been extremely close by to have arrived instantly, there in the depths of the one-way system. That's news: man bites dog.

My tax dollars at work. I like it. Someday that guy on the ground with tread marks on him will be me, because I jaywalked or didn't look both ways on the one-way street.