Is a safe bike ride too much to ask?

For many bicylists, this is rather a typical day in the life.

(Warning: obscenities)

The cyclist in Seattle was OK. It happened at an intersection where another cyclist was killed in 2011. The driver of the SUV eventually turned himself in, according to the Seattle Times.

It’s a reality of cycling life. You never know when a person is going to turn in front of you, or open a door when you’re riding by in a lane that’s meant only for you.

On Streets.MN today, Dana Demaster writes that she got hit in St. Paul last night while with her son.

She’s not a rookie rider by any stretch. She writes that she teaches bike commuting and safety where she works in downtown St. Paul, she served on the board of directors of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and she was a co-chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition. “In other words,” she says, “I know my business. I knew that biking on the sidewalk was more dangerous than taking a lane on Kellogg Boulevard.

I have counselled countless new riders against biking on the sidewalk. Nevertheless, I felt it would be safer to bike slowly on the sidewalk given the construction, the rush hour traffic, the hill up Kellogg Boulevard, and my son on the back of my bike. I stopped at every intersection because bicycles on the sidewalk should act like pedestrians.”

And that’s when an SUV didn’t look where he was going at Kellogg and the I-35 ramp.

I stopped and waited for the walk signal. We started across the intersection when the person driving the SUV, waiting to make a right turn, started forward. He had looked left for traffic coming down the hill eastbound, but did not look right for pedestrians on the sidewalk (or a mother on a cargo bike). He hit us. We fell. My first instinct was rage, but also awareness that he still might not know we were there. I ran over to his driver side window and let loose a torrent of obscenities.

My son and the bike were still lying in the street and I calmed down (a little) when I saw that my son’s eyes were as big as saucers. I stopped and got my son onto the sidewalk. I realized that he was more scared of my reaction than what happened so I tried my best to calm down.

They were OK, thanks to a nurse in another car and the homeless people begging at the intersection.

All that was left was trying to figure out how a person on a bike can get to where they’re going safely.

Maybe I should not have been on the sidewalk. The man who hit us should have looked both ways, even if it was one-way automobile traffic. I know some people would say I should not be biking with my children, should just take our car, that I am taking unnecessary risks by riding a cargo bike in rush hour traffic downtown. Believe me, my children are my life.

If Quinn would have been injured or killed, I do not know how I would continue living. He and his sister are the center of my universe. I took every precaution I thought reasonable. If there were a single bike lane in downtown Saint Paul, I would have taken it.

Others insist streets are for cars. That building bike and pedestrian infrastructure is just catering to a left-wing minority, wasting tax dollars on the fringe. It does not matter what choices I or the man who hit us made – cars are legitimate road users because most people drive cars. I drive, too. We called my husband who came to pick us up in our family’s car. I am thankful we have one.

“Give a mother on a bike at least one safe choice to get through downtown so the sidewalk seems like the best choice when it is not,” she writes.

Is that too much to ask?