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Old 04-17-08, 11:06 PM   #1
HiyuuX
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can anyone tell me if this kind of accident is possible

My greatest cycling fear is of me slipping and falling sideways and having my head end up under a car wheel. Has anything like that happened before? These kinda things keep me from biking too much 0.0
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Old 04-18-08, 01:49 AM   #2
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Anything's possible, however unlikely, but worrying about it to the point of avoiding the activity isn't very useful. Life is risky, but worth it.

For what it's worth, I have gone down a couple of times between lanes of heavy traffic, and managed to survive. My front wheel and fork wasn't so lucky on one occasion. They went under a truck's rear wheel. I went into the foetal position, and fortunately the traffic wasn't moving too fast (I was actually passing it at the time). I count myself pretty lucky there, but recognise that it was a freak occurrence, and I'm not so keen any more to try and rush through gaps that I wouldn't otherwise just to get ahead of the idiot that was abusing me to 'teach them a lesson'.
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Old 04-18-08, 02:24 AM   #3
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I can understand your concern.

Having spent a lot of time cycling, I am trying to imagine how one could fall sideways into the path of traffic.

When moving, physics dictates that you tend to continue in the direction you are moving. If the bike comes out from underneath you, you don't fall sideways but forward.

Check out "bicycle race, crash" on UTube. There are a lot of racing wrecks from a lot of angles. There isn't a lot of lateral movement to be found in them. Once the cyclist is upset and crashing, he travels pretty much in the direction he was traveling.

Generally, if you follow the rules of the road, cars give you plenty of room. The exceptions are uncommon, and so we delight in sharing them here in the forums. Conflicts are rare.

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Old 04-18-08, 03:17 AM   #4
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I can understand your concern.

Having spent a lot of time cycling, I am trying to imagine how one could fall sideways into the path of traffic.

When moving, physics dictates that you tend to continue in the direction you are moving. If the bike comes out from underneath you, you don't fall sideways but forward.
The body us an irregularly shaped object which, after it hits the ground, will tend to move in the direction of fall. But the chance of ending up sprawled sideways is always there. Especually if arms and legs are splayed about rather than tucked in.



HiyuuX, if you don't want to end up with your head under a vehicle wheel then don't ride in the manner of city motorcyclists, hooning up between the lanes of vehicle traffic to get there quicker. Unless you are doing that (in other words if you are riding sensibly, safely and with the flow of traffic) there's really not much chance at all that the outcome you describe could ever eventuate.
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Old 04-18-08, 07:07 AM   #5
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falling sideways and having my head end up under a car wheel. Has anything like that happened before?
Our sensationalist media such as it is would probably make a pretty big deal about this, if it did happen. People definitely get killed biking, though. Weigh the cost for yourself after you compare the aggregate safety of cyclists against that of motorists.
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Old 04-18-08, 07:15 AM   #6
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My greatest cycling fear is of me slipping and falling sideways and having my head end up under a car wheel. Has anything like that happened before? These kinda things keep me from biking too much 0.0
Try Training Wheels or a Tricycle.
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Old 04-18-08, 09:34 AM   #7
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Your odds of drowning are 5x higher than being killed on your bike.

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Old 04-18-08, 10:53 AM   #8
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Back around '84 or so, my brother's best friend fell sideways under a dump truck and died. Narrow, busy, two lane road, it is theorized that he slipped off a rough shoulder into sand which stopped him and he fell into traffic. Dump truck rode over his chest and he died on the scene without ever being revived. It was a truly sad day in our house and town. Tragic, freak accident, no one sued anyone else. His father still does a commute of at least 12 mi one way, year round, and it has not stopped me from riding. Maybe I'm a bit more cautious where there's a low shoulder/narrow road situation.
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Old 04-18-08, 11:04 AM   #9
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Well, falling, skidding and being run over is always possible.

However, cyclists fall very rarely. It has been some tens of thousands of miles since last I fell and that fell.

Also, if you examine the classification of cycling fatalities, falling and being run over does not make a category. It is such a rare thing that it is in the "other causes" section.

As I said, it could happen but it almost certainly will not happen to you even if you ride hundreds of thousands of miles.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:03 PM   #10
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Like others have said it is possible but its certainly not likely. You have a few things going for you. One, alert drivers (and yes, I realize not all drivers are alert) may notice that you are starting to lose control of your bike and may be able to swerve into another lane. Secondly, your body has a natural reflex reaction to pull itself away from danger. If your bike starts to move out from under you your body will imediately try to pull itself back into a safe position. Failing that and the bike really does come out from under you your body will probably try to jerk itself away from traffic as one last ditch attempt to save your life. If all of these things manage to fail and you fall sideways into traffic you still have a heck of a lot of probability to deal with in that if traffic is heavy you're likely to just fall on a car and if its light you're likely to just get up and walk away (assuming no grave bodily injury from the fall). So probability is highly on your side in that everything that you're worried about has a very low probability of actually coming together to result in your head being run over by a car.

If you've been riding for a while and are moderatly comfortable on your bike then get out there and ride and don't worry about this situation. If you are new to cycling in the sense that your bike handling skills need some work then try cycling somewhere with less traffic until you're more comfortable with the situation.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:16 PM   #11
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Don't worry about things that are unlikely to happen and/or out of your control.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:21 PM   #12
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Your odds of drowning are 5x higher than being killed on your bike.
Absolutely false. Lies, damned lies, and misused statistics, as they say.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:28 PM   #13
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However, cyclists fall very rarely. It has been some tens of thousands of miles since last I fell and that fell.
Oh stop it with this feel-good nonsense. I'll counter that by saying I've fallen many times. Mostly when I was a kid, but a few times more recently. I've been run off the road. I've been hit by a car, which ran over my foot. I've been hit by bikes as a pedestrian. Stuff happens, and the more you ride and the more congested your routes and the wetter your weather the more likely it is to happen. Every rider should be prepared for the inevitable collision or big wreck.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:44 PM   #14
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Absolutely false. Lies, damned lies, and misused statistics, as they say.
bk makes a good point. The stats quoted are for all people, not for you as an individual. It is silly to say your chance of drowning is 5x greater than being kiiled in a bike crash. If you don't ride a bike, your chances of drowning are inifintely greater. If you don't go in the water, your chances of being killed on a bike are much higher.

The graph is useful when talking about whole populations, but it means nothing regarding an individual's particular chances of dying in a particular way. I, for example, intend to die after being shot for good cause by a jealous husband.
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Old 04-18-08, 01:52 PM   #15
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Oh stop it with this feel-good nonsense. I'll counter that by saying I've fallen many times. Mostly when I was a kid, but a few times more recently. I've been run off the road. I've been hit by a car, which ran over my foot. I've been hit by bikes as a pedestrian. Stuff happens, and the more you ride and the more congested your routes and the wetter your weather the more likely it is to happen. Every rider should be prepared for the inevitable collision or big wreck.
I don't get it. Didn't you just insert your opinion for another person's opinion? You've fallen a lot. Him, not so much. Get over yourself.

The statistics are misused by dint of converting them to apply to an individual. You may or may not have a 1 in 5000 chance of having an accident. The probability of you having an accident is completely dependent on your riding habits, skill level, and environment. The 1 in 5000 number means that, out of 5000 randomly chosen people in a given time period, 1 will have had a bike accident. My coworker, who doesn't ride a bike at all, will have precisely a zero percent chance of having an accident while riding a bike.

If you invert this to apply to an individual, you don't get a probability for any certain individual, but rather, you get a probability (1:5000, or 0.02%) for an average person. You, personally, might fall near the average person, or you might be a standard deviation or two away from the average person. I suspect that most of us cyclists fall a standard deviation or two away from the average person in terms of how much riding we do and in what environments.
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Old 04-18-08, 02:17 PM   #16
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My greatest cycling fear is of me slipping and falling sideways and having my head end up under a car wheel. Has anything like that happened before? These kinda things keep me from biking too much 0.0
The most likely way for this to happen is on a busy, high speed (greater than 40 mph) road. If you get "doored" by someone in a parked car while a large vehicle (bus or semi) is passing at high speed it is possible to get sucked under the large vehicle by the wind it generates. The same kind of thing could happen if you got run off the road and thrown off your bike.

It is not a very likely kind of accident. You need a *very* specific set of circumstances for it to happen, and the timing must be very precise. If you ride defensively, the risk of such an accident is close enough to zero that it's not worth worrying about. I'd class this kind of accident as an unreasonable fear.

I tend to worry a lot more about right hooks and being t-boned. They're very common sorts of accidents, and they're very preventable if I pay attention. If the fear is reasonable, you can take action to prevent the problem... and I do.
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