On my way home, at 14th and Constitution, I had a pretty close call. I had ridden down the sidewalk to the intersection where I typically cross 14th Street when I ran into a couple of co-workers. They were walking to their car and I rode up behind them. We started talking/goofing around. As I approached I noticed the crossing light's timer was at about 17 seconds, usually more than enough time for me to safely make it across, even with a crosswalk full of tourists/pedestrians. Well, I guess I lost track of the time after getting distracted. I said I'd see them later and looked to my left, no approaching traffic so, I darted across. By the time I was halfway across I heard the horns and screeching brakes/tires. I think I heard someone yell as well The car in the lane nearest me stopped just before the crosswalk then, I noticed another coming, in the middle lane. At this point I felt committed and stood up, hammering on the pedals-I didn't think I could have stopped in time. Luckily this car skidded to a stop just short of hitting me. I don't believe there was a car in the next (turn) lane-thankfully. Once safely on the curb I looked back in disbelief. I didn't really understand what just happened, I'm usually very cautious in the city. Everyone kept going so, I did too. Then the fear/realization of what could have just happened, the embarrassment/humiliation of making such a public mistake started to set in. I shook my head in disbelief and slowly kept riding. I wasn't thinking so much about what would have happened to me but, my 4 year old son. I'd hate to think about not being around for him. I was then embarrassed thinking about how my 2 co-workers would later harass me, my riding and attire is always a matter of fascination/playful teasing. I later thought, so what if they tease me, I'll just blow it off-the important thing to take from this is: 1) you can never be too careful, 2) always wear your helmet, 3) do not allow yourself to become distracted/complacent, always take city riding seriously, 4) get right back on the horse, 5) continue to improve all aspects of your commute's safety.
I'm ok now, was a little shaken earlier, I also decided not to tell my wife-she'd understand but worry. No sense scaring her, I've had nearly ten years of incredibly safe, efficient commuting and plan to use this as a lesson and continue my streak. I'll be back on the bike tomorrow but, will make playing it a little more conservatively a priority. Everyone continue to be safe out there.