First Commute home, First Car Accident

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by shaunhancock, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. shaunhancock

    shaunhancock New Member

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    Yesterday was my first time cycling home. As you can tell by my post history, I am a newbie to cycling. I had my wife drop me off on her way to work.

    The trip between my office and the house is short (~3miles), but is along one of the busiest roads in the city. I thought I would be OK, since there are bike lanes along the right hand side of the road.

    Everything started out great, I went straight to the bike shop along the route, and bugged them with questions. When I left, I got back into the bike lane and was riding down a hill at about 25 mph. A car cut me off to turn right into a dive in front of me. I had about 6-7 feet to stop. I slammed on both brakes, and turned into the direction the car was turning, then made contact with the bumper. She used no turn signal, and started to drive off after the collision. I chased her down, once I recovered (She was in a drive and couldn't go far). I was so stunned I didn't know what to say. Luckily, I kept the bike upright, and had only minor scratches.

    Question is: What could I have done to prevent this from happening? I realize that she was responsible, but I still want to take every reasonable step I can to prevent this from occuring again. I was wearing bright clothing, following all the traffic laws, and maintaining what I thought was a safe speed. This occured in bright daylight.
     
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  2. endurance222

    endurance222 New Member

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    There really is nothing you can do, we will always have problems with cars. There are very few people who do understand the mind of a cyclist. Mainly those are cyclist in cars;)
     
  3. SBSpartan

    SBSpartan New Member

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    I want to hear more about the conversation you had with her once you found her. I had someone brush me and a friend while running once. He was to shocked to speak. On the other hand I was pretty much giving this poor lady a verbal beating she probably still crys about.

    We were going at a pretty good clip. My buddy got the worst of it and I just sort of ran into her broad side a bit. I got a good lick in on the rear quarter panel when she attempted to drive off. The noise from that was really the only reason she stopped.
     
  4. shaunhancock

    shaunhancock New Member

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    I was still so stunned when I caught up to her, that I hadn't composed my thoughts. I yelled something about watching the road. I can't remember exactly what I said. I got back on the bike and continued home. In retrospect, I should have phoned the police and gotten an accident report... Just in case.
     
  5. baj32161

    baj32161 New Member

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    Well first let me say that I am glad you're okay and that the bike is okay too:D ....but yes, you should always get a police report whenever you are in a collision, no matter how minor.

    Commuting by bike can be really fun but please be careful out there.

    Cheers,

    Brian
     
  6. JTE83

    JTE83 Member

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    You made a big mistake letting that driver go by. She almost caused a bad accident by cutting you off at 25 mph and you did nothing. I would have taken her license plate number and reported her to the police.

    Maybe you did nothing because your bike wasn't damaged?
     
  7. artmichalek

    artmichalek New Member

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    I'm glad you're ok, and I know how hard it is to keep your head together after getting hit. The "right hook" as it's often called is one of the most common ways for a cyclist to get hit by a car. I ride with the generall assumption that if the car next to me can turn right, he's probably going to. One of the best defenses is to drift out to the left a bit near intersections and big driveways to keep cars from getting up next to you. There's a lot of good information for riding in traffic here: http://bicyclesafe.com/
     
  8. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    One of the things I pay a lot of attention to is the noise a car makes. I have gotten very attuned to the noise that tires and engines make when accelerating and decelerating... a car that isn't going to do something stupid doesn't make those kinds of noises.

    Most important is to recognize all the potential hazards and ride defensively. In your case I may also have turned to make eye contact with the driver well before she passed.
     
  9. shaunhancock

    shaunhancock New Member

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    Most of the items on bicyclesafe.com I have seen before. I was all of the way to the left in the bike lane. One thing the web site did emphasize is a mirror. I think that will be my next purchase at the LBS. After, getting the bike repaired. Turns out that it is now making a creaking noise on every rotation of the rear wheel, when I have weight on it. The wheel has been trued and that doesn't fix the problem. I am really regretting that I didn't call the police now.
     
  10. HenryLaRoy

    HenryLaRoy New Member

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    You might check a map to see if there is an alternative route. Side streets may parrallel the busy one.

    You have every right to be on the major thoroughfares, and quiet residential streets have their own dangers. On the whole though, I prefer to be out of traffic rather than in it. And if the traffic on the side street is half that of the major street, that's half as many idiots.

    Another reason to look for another route is the length of the ride. Three miles is a warm up. If you are a fanatic, you'll soon need a MUCH LONGER way home! :cool:
     
  11. Geonz

    Geonz New Member

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    Statistically speaking, "right hookers" are I think the most common causers of accidents. It stinks you got nailed by one your first time out! I think about the only thing you could have done to 'prevent' it would be, perhaps, to have been driving furhter out in the lane so that she actually had to think about making her turn (which is probably an argument against there being a bike lane; if you were sharing the lane she'd have had to go around you), or simply to anticipate that any driver might be turning right and cutting you off. It's quite possible that with a bit more experience you'd have developed a sense for her actions.

    The driver was a hit-and-run driver - pretty stiff penalties as well there should be. If somebody only causes minor injuries when they run a car off the road, they're still not supposed to drive off. Frankly, I'd consider seeing if she goes into that same drive again and finding hte car and reporting it anyway just as victims of other kinds of assault would. (No, she probably wasn't actively, consciously assaulting you - but the effect on you including being too shocked to report it was the same.)


     
  12. Ike90

    Ike90 New Member

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    I can only echo most of what's been said, but don't beat yourself up about not reporting it.

    First, it's your time, and it's questionable how much of a lesson would be learned buy this driver, or society in general, by your efforts. That's assuming the local DA even bothers prosecuting it.

    Second, as you ride more, you'll find that you could take down license numbers every day if you wanted, and an adversarial relationship with traffic is usually not healthy for a bike rider.

    The simple fact is, most drivers simply cannot envision following a bicycle for any length of time under any circumstances, and they'll do the most stupid things to avoid it.
     
  13. Hidden1229

    Hidden1229 New Member

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    Dealing with traffic is a scary thing for me. I have two options where I am, go to the park, which has a great biking area, but you have to ride back and forth 2.5 times to hit ten miles (not to mention having to scream 'on your left' to the high school kids who think stretching out over both lanes is an okay thing), or ride on the roads with heavy traffic. When I first started out I would ride my bike to the park to pick up another two miles, but you have to cross a major intersection to do it. My friend I was with at the time got her chain caught and ended up turfing out right in the middle of it. Luckily the light was red. It kind of shook me up though and now I have a hard time dealing with any intersections. Does anybody know of nice bike commutes in Central New York? (Syracuse area)
     
  14. wheelist

    wheelist New Member

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    Shaun,

    I guess the main technique when riding in traffic is to assume that all the cars will not notice you, and that the responsibility for staying safe and avoiding collisions is all yours. Before every intersection/driveway you're gonna cross you should assume that there's a blind driver about to turn in, and check that you're gonna have a clear ride before you cross.

    What you'll end up doing is looking round a lot, listening more intently to the traffic, and taking positive control of the road by changing your actions to make sure that evryone knows you're there.

    There's been some advice about riding defensively - very good. But also, and this is what I was trying to get at with my last paragraph, consider riding offensively (i.e. you take control of the road). Taking the whole lane, shouting, clear signalling, and the occasional door kick will all help car drivers to become aware of your existence.

    Don't let this experience put you off mate - once you've mastered the traffic there are many more joys you'll experience on your bike.

    Keep riding!

    Steve
     
  15. F.G.

    F.G. New Member

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    I've had a few collisions of exacty your kind, except I live in the UK, so LEFT turning cars are the problem. Although this may sound wierd, the safest way Ive found to cycle in London is NOT to use cycle lanes/paths. this is because a) in central london cars don't really take much notice of the rules governing cycle lanes and will happilly drive in them, b) cycle lanes are quite narrow and keep you close to the curb and c) cycle paths generally don't intergrate very well in and out of roads, and cars never let you back on the road once your off it, you have to force your way. I've found cycling at least a metre in from the curb, on the road propper means that the traffic has to give you the same consideration they give cars. if your very close to the curb, cars for some reason think you don't matter as a road user.

    I don't know what the roads where you are are like, (or the cycle paths), so I don't know if this is applicable, but I hope t helps!

    yrs, F.G.
     
  16. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    Its important that you understand the problem to avoid it. So I thought I'd add 0.02$.
    I think drivers do not correctly judge a bicyclists speed. They mostly think they can make it to the turn before the cyclist. In some cases they realize 10yards near the turn that they are not going to make it, since they had to slow down. So, they hit the gas just to try and make up the distance. This makes things worse because they are going faster than required into the turn. So, if you are approaching a turn, make sure to make eye contact with the driver driving parallel to you.
    Sometimes when the driver is using a right turn signal I get a little more aggresive and get into the car lane and speed up so he cant even think of going around me. Needs a little skill and experience but it works. The exact opposite of this is to be extremely defensive and slow way down during turns when you see a car trying to turn.
     
  17. Blademun

    Blademun New Member

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    I've had very few incidents involving Right Hooks. It may be that I just don't go fast enough yet.. :eek: I think what the person said about drivers underestimating your speed is dead on. I've considered that one of the main reasons for almost all of my 'close encounters' and my one accident.

    I -always- make sure to make eye contact with drivers as I approach intersections. If I see someone sitting at a intersection, and all I can see is the back of their head I'll stop and wait till they do look at me. Alot of people are so set in their routines they don't even look where they are going. Red-Green-Red-Green, thats all they know.
     
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