It also can be defined to mean the speed at which one is approaching death (Sub-definition: Velocity 3a and Terminal 5).
Today I was riding my bike to Diridon train station in downtown San Jose on my way back home to San Francisco. It was a normal morning like any other, I was stopping for lights and obeying the traffic laws. I was homefree, within two minutes of the train station; truly, the last road I was on before getting there. Today was a day like any other, but then it became a day unlike any I have experienced, a bicyclists worst-case-scenario.
Here is where it all goes wrong. Out from between two parked cars, not even a car length ahead of me, a homeless man strolls out right in front of me. I begin to brake and yell, doing everything I can to avoid him while not swerving into oncoming traffic or the parked cars he jumped out from. As I knew the second I saw him cross my path without even looking I hit him. He went down and I went down with him, even now my right wrist is in a brace and I wait to go in for an X-Ray. I asked him, bluntly, “Did you even look?” My response was a zombified moan, not a moan of pain so much as a moan of “God I am really high and have no clue what happened.” At that he got up and walked off without saying a single intelligible word.
I had to stop and do some road-side repairs but was soon back on my bike and got to my train on time, with minimal injury to myself or my personal effects (my Canon Rebel XT).
I tell this story for pedestrians, drives, and bicyclists alike to all learn from. As a pedestrian, if you are jaywalking into traffic the onus is on you to check and make sure it is safe. As a car or cyclist, you need to be looking out for pedestrians, even if they are not paying any attention at all; but sometimes there is no good option. Would it have been better for me to swerve into oncoming traffic and get killed myself? Our homeless man is very lucky I was only a bike going 20mph, not a car. As I mentioned in a previous post, cars are 4,000 pound death sledges; I would have flattened him had I been in a car, instead we were both able to walk/ride off.
Please, be safe on the roads, no matter what transportation you use. A pedestrian breaking the law in the wrong place at the wrong time is as bad, maybe worse, than a car or a bike. We all only have one life.