Well it was bound to happen eventually.
On my way home from work yesterday, I was biking along the main road in the area. It’s two lanes wide on each side with a raised median, but there’s a generous sidewalk where the bicycles ride. I was biking on the right hand side of the street and was going fairly quickly, but keeping an eye out at intersections by waiting for the green man before crossing. I was trying to beat the cold by getting back to my apartment faster.
Suddenly a white box car pulls out from a private lot. I see it in time to put on my brakes and swerve, but can’t avoid hitting it. My bike and body smacks into the front quarter panel on the left (passenger) side of the car.
I back away and look to see a 1 ft wide dent between the tire well and door. I see a woman behind the wheel and the first thing I think about is how mad her husband is going to be about this.
She hurriedly opens her door and starts talking to me quickly in Japanese. No idea what she’s saying. I do understand that she’s apologizing by saying “sumimasen” over and over again. I tell her I’m okay and my bike didn’t look damaged. I also apologize gesturing towards her car, but she doesn’t seem worried about it.
She makes the universal dialing gesture (being in a foreign country quickly turns into a game of charades) and understanding the word ‘telephone’ in Japanese I figure out she’s asking me if I should call someone. I’m not hurt, so I don’t think its necessary. Besides, I’d have no idea who to call even if I wanted to.
I shake my head and let her know we don’t need to call someone. She doesn’t seem convinced, so I jump up and down to prove that I’m not hurt. She’s surprised at first, but looks relieved. She lifts her eyebrows a bit to say, ‘Are you sure’, and I nod.
We soon part ways and I continue back to my apartment, thinking about how much worse it could have been. No one wears helmets over here, probably because they all bike so slowly. I decided I should probably be one of those slow bike riders on the rest of the way home.