Got taken out by a car today...may give up commuting for a bit- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Got taken out by a car today...may give up commuting for a bit

    I was biking home today and in the bike lane going down hill about 20-25mph. The light was green ahead and a car turned right, right in front of me. I didn't have time to slow down, my bike hit the door, my helmet hit the car and I slid for a ways on the pavement. The car stopped and the driver said he didn't see me because of the glare and wasn't sure where he was going.

    Who was at fault? I'm guessing the driver, although I kind of came up on him. Hindsight 20/20, I'll probably slow down to a slower speed speed than traffic in a similar situation. Anyway, I didn't want to make him feel bad and was glad he stopped to check on me after the collision. They were helpful and gave me $40 for my ripped up pants which I reluctantly took.

    With a couple young kids and dangerous roads to commute on, I'll probably give up commuting for a bit. I'll admit I'm not the most cautious rider on the roads too and although I usually do a decent job assessing risk, I should feel more concerned on the roads than on the trails. I was lucky I just got some decent scrapes and minor bruises and about $200 in damage.

    Anyway, who else had been taken out by cars and what was the outcome?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I was biking home today and in the bike lane going down hill about 20-25mph. The light was green ahead and a car turned right, right in front of me. I didn't have time to slow down, my bike hit the door, my helmet hit the car and I slid for a ways on the pavement. The car stopped and the driver said he didn't see me because of the glare and wasn't sure where he was going.

    Who was at fault? I'm guessing the driver, although I kind of came up on him. Hindsight 20/20, I'll probably slow down to a slower speed speed than traffic in a similar situation. Anyway, I didn't want to make him feel bad and was glad he stopped to check on me after the collision. They were helpful and gave me $40 for my ripped up pants which I reluctantly took.

    With a couple young kids and dangerous roads to commute on, I'll probably give up commuting for a bit. I'll admit I'm not the most cautious rider on the roads too and although I usually do a decent job assessing risk, I should feel more concerned on the roads than on the trails. I was lucky I just got some decent scrapes and minor bruises and about $200 in damage.

    Anyway, who else had been taken out by cars and what was the outcome?
    For me time of commute is less important than safety of commute. I add multiple miles to my commute so I can use the MUP's and bike lane roads vs. the much more direct route from my house. 15minutes both ways is added but so much safer being in traffic as little as possible. Research routes that are safer, even if it is longer.

    I was hit twice in a couple of months in my old hometown and that was what I did. Once I picked a longer safer trip I felt safe commuting again. When I moved to Seattle I sourced out the least dangerous routes with the least amount of time on roads. I feel safer, spend more time on my bike and less thinking I could die at any time.
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  3. #3
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    In 2001 on my old commuter (Diamond Back Sorrento), I was biking to work... It was a thick fog day.

    As I was whizzing along the main road, I saw a car coming up a side road to the intersection.

    I naturally assumed he was going to stop. He didn't! He ploughed straight into me. The front 3rd of bike went underneath the car.

    Somehow I lifted my left leg before the car impacted. I then somehow lept off and the momentum sent my flying sideways into the middle of the main road.

    With my laptop bag on my back, I again - somehow managed to do a forward roll and then stood up. I immediately started checking myself out physically for injury.

    I came away totally unscathed!?

    The driver got out, extremely apologetic. He drove me to his place just down the road. Gave me his bike to ride until I got mine repaired.

    I got off quite lucky that morning.

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  4. #4
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    Really sorry to hear about this, that totally sucks. It sounds like you're OK, thank goodness.

    I was run off the road by someone intentionally several years ago, and it really rattled me for a while. Getting hit can seriously phase you and I understand wanting to take some time off, but you run the risk of never getting back in to it.

    I say take a little while to shake it off, reevaluate your route like suggested above, consider what happened and what you could have done differently, and get back on and ride.

    Just this morning on the way to work, I was going through an intersection and had someone start to blow the stop sign and locked up the brakes just before hitting me. I yelled, made a scene, etc, and then spent the first hour of work irritable and cranky.

    Dan

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'll admit I'm not the most cautious rider on the roads too and although I usually do a decent job assessing risk, I should feel more concerned on the roads than on the trails. I was lucky I just got some decent scrapes and minor bruises and about $200 in damage.

    Anyway, who else had been taken out by cars and what was the outcome?
    Never been hit by a car....going on 15 years of commuting.

    Risk assessment is the fundamental step of staying safe. Clearly you missed this step at this time.

    You can't just assess risk once, you need to assess constantly as you ride. Once in the habit it becomes easy and surprisingly accurate.

    Risk assessment is not about more concern on the roads or the trails, it is constant and on going not matter what.

  6. #6
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    At 28 years of age, I totaled my bike into the side of a car. The diver pulled out from a stop with me 20 feet away and doing about 30 mph. I just missed the C pillar, my right knee hit the top of the rear fender and I landed flat on my back behind the car (it moved out from under me). Nothing but some bruises but I was taken an a backboard to the hospital to make sure my back was OK.

  7. #7
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    totally on board with what everyone is saying here. I also try to minimize my time on city streets with traffic because of the heightened vigilance required. I have never been hit, but I do agree that close calls leave me crabby for too long, so I strive to minimize that stuff.

    I have two routes that I use. Both have a bit less than a mile of road w/ bike lane before I can get myself into much lower stress situations. One route dumps me onto quiet neighborhood streets, and the other puts me onto a MUP with next to no traffic. The neighborhood street route is shorter overall, with less busy road riding, but the road is not as good. The bike lane disappears for a short distance at a narrow bridge, which creates a merging situation that can be sketchy and uncomfortable. I have had a few close calls there from people trying to beat me to the merge point. My other route is on a generally less busy road, with more consistent bike lanes, and generally wider traffic lanes. It does have more entrance/exit traffic, in particular from a grocery store, YMCA, post office, and a couple apartment complexes. There are also no sidewalks, so pedestrian traffic uses the bike lanes. I have had fewer close calls here, but the YMCA traffic has occasionally created trouble from pulling out INTO the bike lane to watch for cross auto traffic.

    I actually changed jobs specifically so I could get the better commute. The previous commute was either a 20+ mile drive, mostly on the freeway (THAT was soul-sucking), or a 22 mile bike ride, with about half on the street and half on a MUP, about 5mi of which was a VERY busy MUP. Public transit here sucks enough that it would not have saved me any time even to use it part of the route. And wasn't even possible for the whole route. 3hrs on the bike commuting every day made for a lot of opportunities for close calls, which unless I was riding on Saturday or Sunday, typically left me mentally drained by the time I arrived. I took lengthy breaks from commuting when that was my option, even without actually being hit.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the replies. Fortunately the car wasn't going that fast and I was in the town center. Unfortunately my commute isn't the safest -- it involves riding on a 4 lane divided highway with hardly a shoulder. Cars are coming in and out and average speeds are around 55mph. A couple cyclists got hit and died along the route a few years ago. The alternative would be to bike about 5x further along busy, windy side roads with no shoulder which is probably more dangerous.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Never been hit by a car....going on 15 years of commuting.

    Risk assessment is the fundamental step of staying safe. Clearly you missed this step at this time.
    I'm pretty sure the driver was at fault. I was following all the laws and going under the speed limit. I was cut off and didn't have time to stop.

    I'm glad you've never been hit, but seems kind of naive to think it's just about the cyclists risk assessment.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post

    I'm pretty sure the driver was at fault. I was following all the laws and going under the speed limit. I was cut off and didn't have time to stop.

    I'm glad you've never been hit, but seems kind of naive to think it's just about the cyclists risk assessment.

    Regardless of who is at fault... the cyclist is normally the one that is dead.

    Ignore risk assessment at your own peril.

    So what is your solution to prevent a reoccurrence....

    Or are you going to rely on other drivers being more careful and less at fault than this time.

    Secondly obeying all the laws all the time is not a sure recipe to get you home every night.

    Just think as the cop look down at your dead body and says..well the at least the motorist was at fault..his wife can take comfort in that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Never been hit by a car....going on 15 years of commuting.

    Risk assessment is the fundamental step of staying safe. Clearly you missed this step at this time.

    You can't just assess risk once, you need to assess constantly as you ride. Once in the habit it becomes easy and surprisingly accurate.

    Risk assessment is not about more concern on the roads or the trails, it is constant and on going not matter what.
    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Regardless of who is at fault... the cyclist is normally the one that is dead.

    Ignore risk assessment at your own peril.

    So what is your solution to prevent a reoccurrence....

    Or are you going to rely on other drivers being more careful and less at fault than this time.

    Secondly obeying all the laws all the time is not a sure recipe to get you home every night.

    Just think as the cop look down at your dead body and says..well the at least the motorist was at fault..his wife can take comfort in that.
    My solution to staying safe is to not commute by bike as much (which I've already mentioned and is in the title of the thread). My "risk assessment" is that I can't trust drivers, especially ones driving 55mph who may be on their phones, under the influence or distracted by whatever else. And (in my case) drivers who are lost and make a last second turn.

  11. #11
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    If your only options are roads with no or almost no shoulder I wouldn't do it either. Drive and go for a bike ride before/after work where it's safe. I'm lucky, about 90% of my commute is MUP.

    Wait is there sidewalks at least, maybe? It's 100% legal here to bike on the sidewalks.
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  12. #12
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    Don't go through intersections to the right of cars. Take the lane when needed. I like lights front and rear 24/7. Are you riding on a highway? Looked at plan B routes?

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    Like the others said, it's about risk management... Life is risky. Bicycling is risky.

    You should reduce the risks as much as reasonably possible, without giving up the things you love to do...

    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Don't go through intersections to the right of cars. Take the lane when needed. I like lights front and rear 24/7.
    These are good questions...

    1. Did the car "right hook" you, i.e., were you passing him on the right, and then he turned in front of you? Or did he turn right from a side street?

    It's not your fault that he hit you, either way, but as somebody else pointed out, you can be legally correct and "dead wrong."

    I do NOT pass cars on the right at intersections, unless I'm absolutely sure that they see me and either won't turn right or will wait for me to pass.

    2. I ride with a full complement of bright blinking lights, always.


    Good luck out there...

  14. #14
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    that's horrible, sorry to hear about it. I've been right hooked a couple of times, but it doesn't quite sound like that's what happened to you. A right hook is where someone passes and then turns right before they give enough room. There was one time I was riding in an unfamiliar town during rush hour, and people kept passing me and turning right. It's really tough to deal with, even if there is some amount of room.

    I have to say that 55mph with no shoulder sounds pretty bad to me. Really depends on the traffic volume if I would ride that. As others have said, I seek out lower traffic roads, even if it takes me longer. I only have one place that is true on my commute, and it's only a couple of blocks, but it lowers the morning conflicts by a lot. In the evening, I go the shorter route

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bimmer74 View Post
    Like the others said, it's about risk management... Life is risky. Bicycling is risky.

    You should reduce the risks as much as reasonably possible, without giving up the things you love to do...



    These are good questions...

    1. Did the car "right hook" you, i.e., were you passing him on the right, and then he turned in front of you? Or did he turn right from a side street?

    It's not your fault that he hit you, either way, but as somebody else pointed out, you can be legally correct and "dead wrong."

    I do NOT pass cars on the right at intersections, unless I'm absolutely sure that they see me and either won't turn right or will wait for me to pass.

    2. I ride with a full complement of bright blinking lights, always.


    Good luck out there...
    Yeah, I got right hooked. It was a last second turn by the driver (he was lost) and I don't even think he had on his blinker. We were basically going the same speed (I was just behind him), then he slowed down and turned right. It was just enough time for me to think "OH SH*T" and hit the brakes but not enough time to slow the bike down or get out of the way.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Don't go through intersections to the right of cars. Take the lane when needed. I like lights front and rear 24/7. Are you riding on a highway? Looked at plan B routes?
    Do you ever take the lane and really piss off drivers that you're not using the bike lane?
    That would be my concern and someone would tail me or do a tight pass making it more dangerous. My commute is on a college campus where some people drive 2x+ the speed limit. Plan B routes are even worse -- highway/backroads with hardly a shoulder as I mentioned.

    I enjoy commuting and if I had a MUP or safer roads, it would be a no brainer. But I don't enjoy it so much to do it on my roads and I'd rather take my chances on the trails and with other things

  17. #17
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    I don't think there is any shame in deciding to quit cycling in traffic.

    Road cyclists often have a reckless bravado which glorifies risk taking. It's foolishness. Traffic accidents can easily be life changing, or ending and on that day looking cool won't matter to you very much.

    I remember a conversation I had years ago with a cycling buddy who refused to wear a helmet. The guy has seven kids and is self-employed. I said 'getting killed is not the worst thing that could happen to you'. I pointed out that a head injury could leave him unable to provide for his family or even dependent on their care for the rest of his life. It happens to people all the time.

    I know another guy who cycles thirteen miles into his work in Glasgow, he's been hit four times! If that was me I'd be taking the train.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    Do you ever take the lane and really piss off drivers that you're not using the bike lane?
    That would be my concern and someone would tail me or do a tight pass making it more dangerous. My commute is on a college campus where some people drive 2x+ the speed limit. Plan B routes are even worse -- highway/backroads with hardly a shoulder as I mentioned.

    I enjoy commuting and if I had a MUP or safer roads, it would be a no brainer. But I don't enjoy it so much to do it on my roads and I'd rather take my chances on the trails and with other things
    What bike lane? In MA, except on limited access hiways, cars and bikes have equal rights. Try finding some less busy routes. Got bright lights 24/7? I do have some bike paths going toward Boston. The narrow 20-25 mph road right near where I live? I use the right tire track the whole way. Prevents idiot, unsafe squeeze passes. Forces them to make a pass when clear, not squeezing by with not enough room. Got any local bike/ped advocacy groups near you?

  19. #19
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    Risk assessment is indeed the most important part. I gave up riding for a time because I knew I was never COMPLETELY sober. That's when I first admitted TO MYSELF I had a problem. Coming up on 15 years sobriety.........

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by OlMarin View Post
    Risk assessment is indeed the most important part.
    I think a lot of cyclists are bad it this. A lot of the fastest ones in particular. Awareness of the risks slows you down!

    The guy I know who has been hit four times, I was talking to another friend who has seen him ride in traffic a couple of times and he said that the risks he takes are crazy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I think a lot of cyclists are bad it this. A lot of the fastest ones in particular. Awareness of the risks slows you down!

    The guy I know who has been hit four times, I was talking to another friend who has seen him ride in traffic a couple of times and he said that the risks he takes are crazy.
    Very much so. We all get complacent. I remember taking a motorcycle safety course years ago. They teach SIPDE.
    Scan
    Identify
    Plan
    Decide
    Execute

    I say SIPDE to myself before operating any vehicle. I still get complacent, but not nearly as bad as I used to.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by OlMarin View Post
    I say SIPDE to myself before operating any vehicle.
    I might if I knew how the heck to pronounce it! ;0)

    I passed an advanced driving test years ago which required about a year of training. I would say by far the best thing to come out of that was improved awareness and hazard perception. I think it is It is the single biggest factor in most crashes.

  23. #23
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    At a party last night I had a conversation about commuting with a motorcyclist friend. We compared experiences.

    We both are in strong agreement that smart phone distraction is epidemic.

    My work involves truck driving over 28 years. I am a professional driver! Its partially because of all the driving I do, that cycling to work is preferable.

    The skill and attention of drivers where I live seems to have declined over the years. At the same time, the population has quadrupled.

    The awareness and concern I have for two wheeled people and pedestrians and everything out there consumes me. Everyday I drive I say a little prayer when I pre-trip my truck, and inspect it for safety.

    I am not particularly religious, but I figure it doesn't hurt to spend a moment of meditation on safety and gratitude. Reason being to me, self coaching to intentionally prioritize my behavior to reduce chances of conflict, and increase my awareness.

    I try to be like that about riding too...but it's different when it's not work.

    So I have been hit a few times. I have also become enraged from drivers offenses that seemed life threatening. It's an amazing thing to experience the fight and reprisal or revenge impulse adrenaline and emotions. Pretty damn scary.

    So anyway I have long concluded and it helps to have mellowed over the years, that to do anything impulsively with emotional motivation is suspect. And this may sound anathema to competitive sports, but competitive cycling is obviously dangerous.

    For example Strava. I love to track my rides and commutes and keep a half an eye on my average speed on the commute, but I do not try to win anything. It could lead to chronically taking chances.

    And so to get back to the distracted drivers out there...All of my pious behavior hardly counts for anything anyway.

    Navigation devices and displays are also potential distractions.

    My wife and I used to road ride for "fun"... i.e. ride centuries back in the 90's and by 2001 we have up organized bike rides because we observed all the bike traffic was dangerous in itself, despite the warm social aspects.

    We did keep at road riding and bike touring in small groups or as a couple. Most of the time it was tandem riding. And we have done a handful of double centuries and even brevet style rides.

    All the while, mountain biking is our love, and road riding is poor. We have stopped road tandem riding except for some rare modest ride for the novelty, or the trails a too muddy and we need to get out.

    We concluded that we have used up enough luck on it. I know it is irrational, but we both agree on this intuition. All the crazy long mountain passes we have descended together and enjoyed. It blows my mind.

    But the day to day commute, it's a ritual. I agree with everything people are saying here pretty much.

    I am just adding my POV here as a personal meditation on safety to remind myself again. Pedaling as hard as I can along a long line of stopped cars on the right is risky and I have been right hooked many timea, and it isn't worth it anymore. I do not trust them. I get to choose how fast I ride and where I ride, and I have to work within that parameter. I must choose carefully to reduce my exposure to risks. However I am not willing to abandon bike commuting.

    I see a lot of road riders out there and wince sometimes. I am sure they have people who depend on them. I take care and follow every precaution and law to keep them safe.


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  24. #24
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    Hey bank5, have you been riding again since that incident? I hope so!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I might if I knew how the heck to pronounce it! ;0)
    SIP-i-DEE do Dah! SIP-i-DEE Ay!
    My Oh My! Don't wan' no hit t'day!
    Plenty o' traffic headed my way!
    SIP-i-DEE do Dah! SIP-i-DEE Ay!

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