Monday, October 1, 2007

September Ride Report

I accumulated 601 miles in September, on 30 days of riding.

Theoretically, that keeps me on track for a 6000-mile year. (Assuming the roads stay clear of ice thru the end of the year. One year it snowed in early December and then stayed below freezing - the dreaded inversion - for the whole month, so the snow never melted. I rode 2 miles that month. Of course, that was back before Global Warming.)

I also had my first bike/car accident in many years, in September.

I was alongside a row of cars, waiting for the light to turn green. The lady in the first car (SUV) was signaling to turn right, so I was going to let her go ahead of me. (I wasn't sure she had noticed me, and better safe than sorry.)

When the light turned green, she started her turn. I started my maneuver to go around the backside of her car, and then proceed straight. Well... she suddenly and without warning braked hard (to avoid a cyclist on the sidewalk/crosswalk coming in the other direction... yep, riding on the sidewalk is dangerous). It was so sudden that I was unable to compensate... and slammed into the back left corner of her SUV. OUCH! I had partially swerved, so it wasn't a direct hit. No damage to car or bicycle... but my 53-year-old carcass complained bitterly for 2 or 3 weeks. (One of the problems of getting older is, it takes longer to recover from trauma.)

Who's fault was it? My understanding is, the person doing the rear-ending is always at least partially responsible. So I accept some of the blame. (And hopefully I've learned a painful lesson.) But she was complicit for pulling out into my path and then stopping suddenly. And the sidewalk bicyclist was also complicit.


Josh said...

About that crash... To get into the position you were in: was there a bike lane that you were in, or were you the first to the light with the SUV coming up next to you, or did you pass the stopped cars on the right?
When I started commuting on my bike, I rode the wrong way on the sidewalk most of the way to work (and the right way on the same sidewalk on the way home). I didn't really realize how dangerous that was until I started riding in the road and having way fewer close calls. So once I was out there with the rest of the vehicles, I would tend to pass on the right to get to the front of a stop light or stop sign; but again, that was quite unsafe because cars aren't usually looking there, and they don't always signal their turns. So then I started taking my place in line at the light, but cars would come up alongside me anyway, which was almost as dangerous. Finally at this point, I've started to “take the lane” at intersections and feel much safer for it. I highly recommend that to anyone. Drivers will still sometimes try to overtake me, but it's pretty rare.
I'm not trying to say that you were doing anything wrong (I'd probably blame the other cyclist), but just sharing my experience with how I try to avoid a situation like that.
Happy Cycling!

Bikeboy said...

Hi, Josh.

Thanks for your VERY knowledgable comments.

The situation was the one where there was a LONG line of cars queued up (heavy traffic at rush hour), and I drifted up on the right, NOT in a bike lane. (Being VERY aware of the risk of not being seen... and that plenty of boneheads don't bother to signal... THAT really riles me!).

I agree with you - "taking the lane" is the safest practice. But if it's obvious that traffic is crawling, I just can't bring myself to do it... I HATE sitting in traffic!! (That's one of the reasons I ride a bike! Plus, it gives me immeasurable satisfaction to breeze past all those pitiful slugs in their single-occupant vehicles.)

I almost never ride on the sidewalk, except for long stretches with no curb-cuts, etc. - too much peril otherwise.

If I had taken the lane, in this case, it probably would've saved me some pain... because I would've been in a better position to get safely around SUV-lady on the left side.