Hell on Wheels

Columns | Vienna Review | October 2013

Negotiating right-of-way on Mariahilferstraße is still an awkward and sometimes painful experience.  For a city cyclist, the switch from car/bike/pedestrian congestion to pedestrian/bike/bus confusion, has had mixed effects. On weekends it’s impossible to steer around the sea of swaying shoppers, but during the week the street is a wide open freeway, perfect for sailing downhill at break-neck speed.

So I was whizzing along in the middle of the street, unofficially racing another biker who cruised a few meters ahead or beside me, where a painted bike lane should be.  We were closing in on the finish-line at the MQ when the door of a parked car swung open, and CRASH! I skidded to a halt as my opponent catapulted over the door, smashed to the ground, and triple-topple rolled back onto his feet. Before I could see if he was okay, he was limping back to the car. He called out "Entschuldigung!" (I’m sorry), hopped back on his bike and drove off. The driver was still stunned.

Probable concussion aside, he still beat me to the bottom.

Jeannie Emathinger

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