I was out for a morning ride earlier today and witnessed a bad bike accident. It was riding with a group of 5 people heading north on a bike path just north of Milwaukee. It is a protected MUP that is paved. The paved section is raised about an inch above the ground adjacent, and the sides of the trail are dense brush and trees that slopes steeply down just off the paved trail.
The guy riding just behind me swerved a little to his right, perhaps to avoid something in his path (I didn't notice anything, but you never know) or perhaps just a momentary lapse of concentration. Went down hard into some trees and bushes and rolled a few feet down the hill. It seems like the guy might have hit his head. He was bleeding around his face and nose, and might have suffered a concussion. Time will tell on that. We managed to extricate the poor guy from the trees and bushes, but called for an ambulance just in case.
A couple of thoughts on this.
1. One reason to consider not riding alone. Had this fellow not been riding with people, it is possible others riding by might not have noticed him in the bushes, since it isn't really all that visible from the trail, especially since he rolled a few feet down the hill. I don't think he was able to pull himself up and back onto the trail and call for help on his own.
2. Second, some folks hate wearing helmets, and it might not have made much of a difference in this case, but then again, the helmet might have been the difference between a mild concussion and possible broken nose, and a fatal skull fracture. Time will tell the extent of his injuries.
3. Along with colliding with dogs, pedestrians, inexperienced cyclists, and cars at intersections, this sort of freak accident is another example of how riding on a supposedly protected bicycle path is not necessarily any safer than riding in the road with car traffic. This type of accident would not have been as bad, or might not have happened at all, had we been riding on the street. Not saying the street is always the safer option, but just thinking about balancing risks of street vs. MUP.
Still waiting for an update about the guy's condition and hoping for the best.