I Was Almost Killed

Yesterday, around 4pm, I was in Clapham with my son. We had decided to go for an after-school snack at Esca. We stopped at the crosswalk, pressed the button and waited. The traffic’s red light came on, my green guy came up, the beeper started beeping and we started crossing the road. After about 3 steps my son pulled my arm back just as a huge lorry ran the lights at full speed. If I had preempted my green guy by a second they would have still been cleaning me off the road now.

I bought my son a slice of chocolate cake for saving my life.

10 Responses to “I Was Almost Killed”
  1. vince says:

    Take a motorcycles class. Then when you walk across the road you will look for things that you would not normally look for.

    I have almost been hit by a dozen people or cabs because they are not looking, thank god I am or at least my training. Especially walking through cars!!!!!! look for bikes or you might get clipped by them or if you are a car cutting through a queue of traffic and you want to go right, don’t just look left and go, look left then right then go. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who cut through traffic and go forward but look left and I usually lean on the horn as I’m sitting there waiting for them to move and I know they aren’t looking at me even though I’m right in front of them.

    Clapham high street is one of the worst places in London for bad driving and accidents I’ve seen many many accidents just before Clapham Common, by the Sainsbury’s when cars pull U-Turns, run lights, cut people off, don’t give way to the right, there must be a black hole in Clapham.

    But Tooting is just bad Indian drivers.

  2. Jase says:

    I hate this kind of thing.

    There is a crossing a minute from my house, which I use at least twice a day, where I see drivers jumping the lights pretty much every time. Frankly if children were using that crossing and ran out into the road just because there was a green man and a beeping signal, they’d probably be killed or seriously hurt on a frequent basis. I’m fairly surprised I haven’t seen more accidents there.

    I’m assuming it’s happening because along that stretch of road there are quite a few sets of lights, mostly for pedestrian crossings. Drivers must get pretty frustrated at continually stopping and starting, so are more likely to chance it and drive through on amber or even red if they think it’s clear. Usually the traffic isn’t moving too quickly so presumbly they think it’s not too dangerous. Frankly I think that makes it worse as there is no excuse about not seeing the lights change in time to stop – I’ve seen cars which are stationary when the lights turned, still move off and drive through the lights when the traffic starts moving.

    I’m pretty careful to check for motorbikes coming up the inside of the traffic when I’m crossing, but actually in my experience bikers are themselves a bit more careful at obeying the traffic signals – probably because most of them know they’re more vunerable should there be an accident. People on push bikes meanwhile will ignore every single signal.

    Also bad is the number of drivers who don’t grasp why it’s important not to stop *on* the crossing itself, rather than wait at the edge for a gap to move into. Forcing pedestrians to weave around traffic, where they’re much less visible and drivers on the other side won’t expect them, does nothing for anyone’s saftey.

    The only thing that has been done recently to that section, was the construction of some roadside barriers – which does nothing to stop bad driving and simply makes it more awkward to cross when the traffic *is* stationary but the cross has someone parked on it.

    The most frightening personal experience I’ve had though was in Camden, where I came to a crossing where the traffic was already stopped and the green man showing. I only slowed up and ultimately stopped because there was a woman with a child in front of me who hadn’t started crossing yet and I was judging whether to wait for them or walk around them. They were about to walk into the road when a people-carrier (seemed to just a lone woman driver) came around a corner and went right through at about 40mph – not only ignoring the signals entirely, but almost certainly speeding. It passed inches in front of us, and a single stride would have put any of us in its path. I would guess they were going too fast to even see the signal, let alone react to it. Had the woman child not been completely OTT with waiting for the lights they’d have been toast. As would I, had they not been there to get in my way.

  3. vince says:

    Push bikes, yes I DO NOT STOP for push bikes using a zebra crossing UNLESS they get off the bike and walk it over. That is the law I will not stop if you use it to make a turn. I also will not move from the pavement if a push bike uses it. A woman with no helmet was riding on the pavement and I made her almost stop since she had a chance to use the road since she just crossed a side street and saw 3 of us walking toward her on the pavement!.

    If push bikes moan at me for using the ‘green’ bike lane at the light I say ‘aren’t you going to run the red light like all the others?’

    Clapham Junction at night is fantastic… if you have the green light coming down the hill towards the crossing it’s fun to play scare the pedestrian.. but look out for the nutters running between the cabs and buses trying to run from the train station to a bus in the middle of the road.

    My favourite one was in Lavender Hill, about 6 cars back from the light, 2 lanes of traffic queued at the light, a woman was pushing a pram through cars, buses and black cabs at night. I was moving down to the front at a slow speed since the light was red (this is called ‘filtering’ and it’s LEGAL) and all of a sudden I see a pram stick out from the front of a black cab. I slammed my brakes on, skidded a bit and the woman looked up and said ‘sorry’ … hmm you would have been very If I didn’t stop.

  4. Mark says:

    Glad you’ve lived to blog another day Gia. Any highlights from the life flashing before your eyes incident? And is chocolate cake standard life-saving reward?

  5. giagia says:

    It was either chocolate cake or be indebted to him for life. I pushed very hard for the cake option.

  6. R.J. says:

    My sister was killed in 1995 while on a push-bike waiting at a pedestrian crossing for the lights to change. A skip-wagon ran the light and mowed her down. I’m relieved you are ok.

    Vince, reading your comment I wonder: who is the nutter? We can all say, “Legally I was in the right.” It doesn’t help the person you just killed.

  7. JC says:

    Maybe you should name and shame… publish his (or her?) registration number for all to see! Lol!

  8. Jas says:

    I second what Vince said- take a CBT course (that is, the compulsary basic training for motorcyclists). If you ever drive a car, walk in the city, or even just want to find out what it’s all about, this is the ideal way to sharpen up your observation skills. Plus you get to thrash a little 125 around town all day, which is a cracking laugh.

    A while ago my friend Nico was on the back of my 500 as we tooled across town. It was a warm, sunny day, so I had my visor open and we were chatting at some traffic lights. He asked me why I’d slowed down at one particular point- I said I’d seen someone walking down the pavement who had car keys in his hand, and the car he was walking towards had the drivers’ side door facing the road, so I thought he might step out in front of me. He did step out in front of me, and if I’d been doing my usual 30mph in town, I would have had to brake hard to avoid hitting him.

    “Wow,” said Nico, “you got all that from a quick glance?”

    Yeah. Your quick glances improve with practice, you know…

  9. vince says:

    Yes Jas is right, when you ride motorcycles you pick up more care and you see things that you would not. Everyday (the last 2 days since I saw this) I’ve had someone at Clapham Junction running across the road or behind a bus. You move and you are ready to break because of these things and you keep it under 30mph. When I pull up to a bus/car and I can’t see if there is a person walking through or a car cutting, I notice there is a gap in front I always slow and lean forward and look in front of the bus/car. I also get way out into the other lane if there isn’t anyone coming to make sure can avoid a car or cab doing an unexpected U-Turn.

    Tonight I had both a Black Cab make a U-turn in the middle of the high street and a man run across at Clapham Junction. Both times I was ready.

    When I said I don’t stop for push bikes I mean I go as if I am not stopping to show them that they are in the wrong, but I am ready to stop if they don’t stop. This is how I learned to drive cars in Boston MA USA.. buy my cab driver cugino, Go like you’ll hit them and they will stop, but be ready to stop.

    With pedestrians at Clapham Junction and other places I usually pull my clutch in a little and rev the engine if the can’t see me…. it’s faster than the horn and they hear it and it makes them more scared and then they don’t cross when my light is Green.

    I think I picked up 7 points for the big black woman who was going to run across the light at CJ…and she wasn’t looking and I had the Green light so a little extra Ducati throttle got her attention then I think I get 10 points for scaring a man in the suit who was about to run though the black cabs just after… he stopped too. also a little tipping the bike in there direction usually gets them back on the pavement.

    The last thing I want to do is hit someone or something since it hurts me too and I’m expensive.

  10. Jimmy says:

    Glad to hear you’re okay. I was once pulled out from in front of a bus after freezing up in its wake. It’s a sobering experience: to almost die.