Inattentive Driving

Day 102 • June 11, 2012 •  Lawrence to Olathe, KS •  44 miles

In eastern Colorado and most of Kansas the traffic situation was very good–  light traffic, considerate motorists, and good roads.  As we travelled east through Kansas the situation turned gradually worse.  We first noticed a change in Manhattan where we found heavy traffic and inexplicably rude and dangerous motorists on Bluemont Road where we were staying.  East of Manhattan, Highway 24 became busier and narrower.  In Lawrence folks preached anti-cycling nonsense at us out of their car windows, my favorite. 

Today, Monday afternoon traffic in Olathe was heavy and not well behaved or particularly competent.  After bypassing one big traffic accident in our path, we re-joined our intended road, 35 MPH with two lanes in each direction. In the right lane, about a mile from our destination, a motorist passed us on the left and proceeded to plow into a car that was stopped in the lane to make a left turn.  Zoe got a good view of the collision occurring right next to us while I tried to figure out the best way to get off the road in case she swerved into us.  She didn’t swerve and we pedaled away unscathed, then doubled back to provide an eyewitness account to the police in the unlikely event that there was doubt about who was at fault.  I and the driver of the stopped vehicle could see this coming long before the at-fault driver reacted–  she was driving way too fast and making no attempt to slow down.  She was distracted by something but we couldn’t see through her tinted windows whether a cell phone or something else was involved.  Maybe it was her two kids, one only a couple of months old, who seemed to be fine.  She was walking around after the collision but was eventually put on a stretcher and taken away by ambulance.  Her car looked totaled.

We waited for over an hour for the police to arrive.  We were told it took so long because there were so many traffic accidents that the police force was spread thin.  If this is a typical day in Olathe, weekday afternoons must be prime time for criminal activity, assuming the criminals are able to reach their intended crime scene.  While we waited we got a call from Rob, the friend we were staying with, to say that his wife Julie had just been involved in her own traffic accident.  Someone swiped her car in a parking lot and nearly succeeded in removing her front bumper. Crazy day for cars.

Rob is a longtime friend and college buddy from Topeka.  When we finally arrived, he and his daughter Lilly, about Zoe’s age, were there to greet us but soon Rob had to leave to help get his wife’s mangled car home.  We hung out with Lilly and she and Zoe hit it off, finding all kinds of activities to share.  Lilly’s twin Leah was with Mom at play practice that night and now tied up with the accident so we didn’t meet her or Julie until much later.  Eventually everyone showed up with a couple of local pizzas and we relaxed and caught up.  Local beer was also involved—some things haven’t changed since college.  Julie, herself an avid cyclist, picked up some supplies for us including a K-State jersey that would be Zoe’s uniform as we penetrated enemy territory in Missouri and beyond.  I’m so glad we got a chance to see these guys.  Unfortunately by the time I remembered to get some pictures, the girls were already off to their respective summer activities for the day.


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1 thought on “Inattentive Driving

  1. I was worried that the drivers around eastern Kansas would not be considerate. Everybody is in a hurry and EVERYONE is on their cell phones. Glad you made it all the way safely. I have truly enjoyed following your trip and look forward to hearing, as Paul Harvey would have said, the rest of the story. (I remember your dad listening to that everyday at noon.)


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