One morning a few weeks ago, a woman here was hit by a bus as she was crossing the street at a perfectly ordinary intersection near where I live. Supposedly it was completely her fault--she just stepped out in front of it. I don't know how badly she was injured, or even if she survived. Regardless, my thought was: what kind of moron gets hit by a bus? Buses are, after all, quite conspicuous and travel more slowly than the median motor vehicle. I wondered if maybe she was mentally ill, or maybe it was a suicide attempt, or maybe she was a highly-driven Harvard supergenius who was so absorbed in her ideas about making nuclear fusion from maple syrup that she was just oblivious.
Late this afternoon, during my run, I almost got hit by a bus. Same freaking intersection, maybe, or no more than a block away from it. I looked to my right, and I saw a bus coming but not too close. I looked to my left, and there was a car coming but not too close. So, still looking to the left, I took a couple strides to bound through the intersection. Then I glanced back to the right, and the bus was RIGHT THERE. It's like somebody put the bus on superfastforward while I was looking to my left. So now I'm wondering if there's some kind of optical illusion under which the Cambridge buses look farther away than they are.