Mar 5, 2019

Cops and Collisions: The Flying Bicyclist Incident

    It was a Monday. My husband was enjoying his day off around 3 when the kindergarten worker who maintains safety on the bus called up from the downstairs intercom. I raced down to collect our kid, bringing her favorite doll on my pocket as she had asked.

    When I got to them, I handed my daughter the doll and she rushed outside to show the doll to her friend on the bus. I opened the door for her, assuming we would go out and wave goodbye with the doll as the bus drove away.

    Instead, in the time it took me to look up from opening the door, I heard a man's startled yelp. My eyes darted to my kid, now on the ground under an adult's bike, with the adult in question disentangling himself from the bike and the bush in front of our walkway.

Cops and Collisions: The Flying Bicyclist Incident photo
I think she took down the littlest bush on the left. We're really lucky she didn't hit the light post.

    The next thing I remember is getting my daughter back on her feet and checking for broken bones. Finding none, I softly prodded her abdomen to check for internal damage. The tone and intensity of her cries did not change, so I moved to the two scratches on her face that I could see, wiping away the blood to note that they were shallow enough not to require stitches. I may have asked if she was okay, but it's all a blur now. The next thing I remember is watching the man dislodge a chunk of bush from his bike. 

    Remembering my husband bowing to the old man who had hit our car with his last month, I decided to attempt politeness and apologized loudly to the man so that we might then have an interaction. "Shitsureishimashita," I said, which is formal for someone who ran over your kid on a bike, but seemed like the right way to start a conversation here. The man responded by leaving quickly without even looking in my direction.


    My daughter, still crying loudly, was frantically trying to apologize for running onto the sidewalk and not paying attention. I told her it was okay and held her, taking her inside where she would be safe and waving goodbye to the school bus.

    When we got upstairs and I explained what had happened, my husband was furious. Mostly at himself, he later realized, for not being down there to keep her safe, but in the moment he chastised me for not chasing the man down or challenging him to a fist fight. He even yelled at me for apologizing to the guy, though I don't know what I was meant to say instead or how anything I could have said would have made him do anything other than run away.

Cops and Collisions: The Flying Bicyclist Incident photo
My daughter the day after the incident. Two scratches and a bruise on her face, bruised knees, and otherwise okay. Extremely lucky.


    We spent the rest of the day calming my daughter down. She didn't have the emotional energy to go to the doctor or police, and neither did we. Tuesday morning I woke to the realization that if we did nothing, this guy would ride his bike into someone else, someone less lucky or less durable and they could die.

    My husband and I came to the conclusion that we needed to talk to the police and get this on record if nothing else and he set up an appointment with the cops at the scene of the accident for Thursday.

    Tuesday morning, my husband also explained what had happened to the staff at our building. While he was unable to find any video of the actual collision, our doorman did find a shot of a guy matching 2/5 of the description I gave on a bike on the sidewalk further up the street just before the incident.
    Wednesday, I decided to take my kid to the doctor just to make sure she was actually okay. When I came downstairs to wait for her bus, I saw my husband standing across the street, talking to none other than the bicyclist! I got our doorman, to include him in the conversation, and waited across the street because my temper was not to be trusted. The cops my husband talked to on the phone suggested getting the guy's information and telling him to meet us for the appointment the next day. I then took my daughter to the doctor, which involved several extra steps due to my language barrier, but we got through it and she was fine. I paid 3600 yen for a fancy piece of paper that says she is healing well from minor injuries.

    The next day, we met with the cops. In the US, the bicyclist would not have shown up, but because we live in Japan, he even brought his family. His mom and brother apologized to us. The man himself had a severe facial tick and some difficulty speaking, alluding to some level of mental disability or brain damage. We elected not to press charges mostly because my kid was actually fine and the guy would be paying for property damage for ruining the bushes anyway. My husband did give his whole family a lecture, though, and the cop went through a lot of extra effort with the guy as well, trying to get him to understand safety in this context.

    The family apologized profusely and even more so when they actually saw my kid get off the school bus, acknowledging however briefly the light their carelessness could have snuffed out.

    We feel we made the right choice, but emotionally we are all still mending from this. The one benefit is that my daughter is better at paying attention on the sidewalk now. Also, my husband later apologized profusely for every crappy thing he said to me during the ordeal.



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.