My husband was hit by a car as he rode his bicycle, and I made a riding mistake that sent me head-first over the handlebars onto a cobblestone street. Ouch.
We are both okay. I am more bruised and hurt than he was, though his crash had more potential to be deadly. His close call happened first.
We were riding back from a trip into Ajijic to our AirBnB rental on outskirts of town. We on the designated bike path (pedestrians use it, too) on the main road. The “ciclopista” is blocked off from the main road with concrete barriers. This is the only main road in this area of Lake Chapala that is paved, and it runs through small towns. Every few hundred feet, there is a section without the barriers for cars to turn onto side streets, or for buses to pull over for passengers.
You can see such an opening here, along with two bikers crossing the road:
At one of these areas, a car hit Tedly, who luckily, was barely bumped. The car hit his leg, he kind of jumped off the bike, staggered but landed on his feet and the bike slid out from underneath him onto the road.
I didn’t see it happen. I was ahead of him, racing to pass a bus coming head-on at me, getting ready to pull over for passengers in a barrier opening. I looked over my shoulder after I passed the bus, saw the bus blocking the ciclopista, and figured my husband was stuck in front of the bus.
That’s when a car pulled over near me and the driver yelled out: “He’s ok – he’s ok – but your husband was just hit by a car.” I raced back.
He was ok, and assured me not to worry. He had just collected his bike, which escaped any damage. His leg had a small red mark where the car bumped into him.
The driver who hit him appeared to be American. That idiot didn’t even stop her car, to get out, and approach Tedly like a decent person would. It’s probably a good thing she was gone by the time I had peddled back.
Tedly later told me the woman who hit him said to him, “Are you OK?” He told her he would be. “You have to be careful around here,” she said to him, and went on her merry way. Now he jokes, Yea, have to be careful because you’re on the road!
My silly crash happened the next week on a side street in downtown Chapala. I was crossing the street on the bike and looked behind me to see if the coast was clear. I looked longer than a moment because the sun was in my eyes. When I looked back ahead of me, at the last instant I saw a large grate in the road, similar to this one:
For a few beats as I looked behind me, my front tire had balanced on the beam, but almost as soon as I saw the danger, my front wheel went down, and down I went. I landed over the handlebars on the cobblestone street, dazed. A Mexican man came rushing over from the sidewalk and gave me both hands to pull me to my feet. Once I was standing, Tedly, who didn’t see this happen because he had the lead this time, came over.
There were a few Mexicans who were around us then, and I said I was ok. I walked to the curb and sat, and a Mexican woman asked if I was ok. They were all very kind, and I was going to be ok. I am on the third day of nasty pain under my right breast, off to the side, and some other minor bruises and strains. Maybe I have a bruised rib – don’t know for sure. All I do know is – it’s not broken, thank heavens.
Aside from our mishaps, there are much more serious accidents that happen all the time on this main road. The ciclopista has dozens of crosses to mark where people have died. I’m sure alcohol plays a role in some, and people crossing the street not seen by drivers at night may also be a factor.
The crosses sometimes are up against the concrete barrier walls, like this.
Or, the crosses are off the road, on the side of the ciclopista.
Sometimes, though not as often, the memorials for people killed dot the other side of the main road, across from the ciclopista.
We used the bike bath also to walk to catch buses or to go to local businesses near our rental. We’ve seen cars flying down the road, even in areas where drivers are supposed to go slower because of crosswalks.
While I took pictures of the crosses for this blog entry, I took pictures of the traffic zooming by me. I got lucky with this shot:
Yet another reminder for me – I have to keep my wits about me on my travels because people text and ride or drive, everywhere.
On morning jogs on the ciclopista, I do see a few retirees fast-walking for exercise, but most people seem to use the malecon in town along the water for that. Not too many American expats here bike down the ciclopista. But when the do, it seems they often wear helmets. (I hate helmets – even on motorcycles, but that’s another story.)
Most of the Americans around here are racing around town in their cars – and rubbernecking over properties for sale. Who knows what the woman who hit Tedly was rushing to, or from.
One more note about the roads here: just about all of them – aside from the main road – are cobblestones. This is another reason why it’s just not a bicycle-friendly place.
If you come to visit Ajijic or Chapala, you’ll probably be just fine if you rent or ride a bike. Since we’re budget travelers with no car, bikes can help tremendously for mundane tasks and save time and money waiting for buses. Our rental came with one bike, and we rented a second one for our time here for my husband.
If nothing else, hopefully this post will remind people to keep their wits about them. We like to think we are savvy travelers, and we’ve had a lot of experience biking around other parts of Mexico. We realize accidents can happen anywhere, but the deck seems stacked against bicycles here. Our two crashes could have had horrific outcomes – and we’re grateful we escaped major harm.