Advocacy & Safety - I need your input for a college essay
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03-30-08, 12:49 PM
Im writing a essay for my comp II class. Its a cause/effect essay and i chose to do a 5 page essay on the cause and effect of bike/auto collisons. Most of us know the causes, motorist lack of attention, cell phones, texting, cyclist riding radically so on. What i need if any of you have been in a bike/car incident to post up your stories. Let me know the effect of the accident on you and your family and if affected the driver in anyway. If you dont mind please put your name in your post because i will need to use your info for a work cited page with permission of course. Thanks for the help in advance.
03-30-08, 02:02 PM
Ha, Comp II! Are you a WashU student; I was and I remember that shiz. More seriously, just search the forums, you'll find excellent stories and examples. For the reference, just "PM" (private message) the poster and explain your situation and your desire to cite him/her. Otherwise, just cite bikeforums.
John C. Ratliff
04-03-08, 12:27 AM
Take a look at my posts on this thread:
Then click on my name (upper left, in red letters of this post) and do a search under my name for "All Posts by John C. Ratliff" and you'll see a lot more.
Good luck with your essay, and you have my permission to use any of my writings, with attribution of course ;)
04-03-08, 09:13 AM
Cause & effect of car/bicycle collision?
cause = bike & car trying to occupy the same space at the same time and discovering too late that the laws of physics won't let them.
effect = cyclist often gets hurt
I'll let you figure out how to pad that out to 5 pages.:D
My story is probably in one of those threads, but here it is again, for your convenience. You have my full permission to quote or paraphrase all or part of my story in your essay.
In my once-is-quite-enough encounter with a motor vehicle 31.5 years ago, I was descending a hill on a heavily traveled residential street in west Los Angeles at about 20-25mph under clear, pre-dusk conditions. I was wearing street clothes, rather than the bright colors I now habitually wear while cycling, I had an old-style heavily padded vinyl "hairnet" style helmet (a Kucherik, by far the best of its breed, but nothing compared to even a mediocre helmet today), I was perhaps riding farther to the right than I ideally should, and my bike had older-technology brake pads which are less effective than today's. A motorist who later claimed not to have seen me turned left across my path and into her driveway. I suffered a mild-to-moderate concussion, a double fracture of the left clavicle, and a laceration across my left cheekbone, which left a permanent "dueling scar." We settled out of court, with the motorist admitting full responsibility for the incident. As is typical in these situations, I do not recall the collision itself or even the moments leading up to it, but I have always wondered whether I could have done more to avoid the collision or at least to reduce its impact (so to speak) on me.
The thing which worries me most about cycling (or even crossing the street as a pedestrian) is being overlooked by a motorist who is distracted, inattentive, or, scariest of all, who simply does not mentally perceive my presence while looking straight at me. Several of our Vehicular Cycling advocate friends in this forum and elsewhere are big on "in your face" cycling, to try to make themselves seen, and based on my experience, this does make sense. My message to John Q. Motorist (and some law enforcement officers) is that sometimes I ride farther to the left and more into "his" lane than he might prefer because it is by far the safest thing for me to be doing at that point in time.
04-03-08, 09:28 AM
One Sunday morning about 8:30 I was riding on a wide street in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was several decades ago and I was in pretty good shape. I was going all out on a 3-speed. A car passed me, parked, and opened his door without looking. I should have been more alert to the possibility that could happen. I went over the door and hit the pavement. No one wore helmets in those days. It could have been a disaster for me, but I escaped with some scrapes and bruises. I lost a new pair of nice shorts and had some X-ray expenses. The guy had no insurance. I talked with a lawyer about suing him in small claims court, but I also had to move to a different state in a couple of weeks and could not stay around to do it.
Oddly, my bike was not damaged. I had a date to go to an open air church service with a girl. We were taking food and charcoal with us on our bikes to have a picnic in a public park afterwards. I was able to ride a few more blocks to her house and we were able to have our date, still.
The net effect of the experience is that I pay more attention to watching parked cars when I am riding past them.
04-03-08, 02:11 PM
I have been fortunate enough (knock on wood) not to have been involved in an accident so far. Most of my close calls though are because people are impatient and try to cut in front of me forcing me to either slam down on the brakes or to swerve to avoid them. I don't understand how people can sit in traffic for hours here then not have the patience to wait 2-3 seconds for a cyclist to clear their path. Choosing instead to endanger the cyclists life. I like to think that people just dont realize that they are cutting someone off. I am always tempted to bang on their trunk as I narrowly avoid them, but always think better of it. I do wish I could somehow make them aware of what they had just done though, so maybe they don't do it to another cyclist.
04-04-08, 05:20 PM
1986, Summer. Coming home from SJCU on a nice early PM. Made a right from San Carlos onto S. 10th Street - a one way three lane street. I turned right into the far lane and all the way into it - not the near lane.
Right as I finish the turn a truck pickup just in front slams on the brake as a black sedan squirts out of Robert's Bookstore driveway...
I realize that I'm gonna crash - no way out - no time - but my brain said, "Force your left brake lever and left side of bars into rear of truck first..."
I did, just as the pickup driver seeing me coming made a best effort to move up and turn left...
I bounce sideways with the bike skitting just past the rear right of the pickup...
Next thing I know I'm still on the bike doing about 5 MPH with my lower left leg inserted in both bends of the bars - from left to right - knee to foot...my brain says in a flash, "Get that leg out or you are DEAD!!!" My right leg was across the saddle - I was literally flat and sideways on the bike with my back on the toptube.
Somehow I do and immediately I hit the ground as my bike continues to roll all by itself down the street for another 20-30 feet.
My backpack rolls me up the curb protecting my head.
Leg is bent, shoulder is chipped, god I was in total agony....
Lots of people immediately came to my assistance including the very very nice and concerned pickup driver. The driver of the black sedan apparently stopped - took one look - and sped off...
For six weeks I did not ride the bike. I wasn't scared really...I don't let fear run my life. I was really spending all that time thinking about the cause - what was my fault - and what changes if any I needed to make.
1. Turning right AND changing 2 lanes to the far side at once. I gave myself no time to survey the surroundings of my new direction when turning in that fashion. I had no time to get the timely glimpse need to determine 911 exits....
Correction - turn right into near lane. Do the lane changes later having looked around and planned it out.
2. Driving to close to parked cars when in a lane.
Correction - establish a three foot zone out from where cars normally park - follow an invisible line whether cars are parked inside or not - which also makes one more visible and puts you within only a feet few of the next lane - the "new" escape lane when an obstacle presents itself ahead.
3. No helmet. My backpack saved my life - without it the back of my head would have hit the sharp edge of the curb at 9.XX meters/sec.
Correction: Wear a helmet.
4. I'm more anti-social than most people. I'm more paranoid than most and tend to work alone.
Correction: Give the finger to the *******s...that doesn't change. But the other 99% are actually nice caring people who came to your assistance. An uptick in everyday common courtesy and simple "I'm fine, thank you..." wouldn't hurt. Don't wait for an accident for practice it - just do it. Life is a tad more pleasant that way for everyone.
I've hopped back on the bike - which was in better shape than I was - six weeks later and have driven defensively ever since - more visible - plan ahead...take lanes, use left turn lanes - etc. I've had a lot up close calls since - but no accidents.
I think what I just provided above is what you really need for your essay...
04-04-08, 06:17 PM
While I think the essay sounds interesting, I am curious about what your working thesis is...
Here is one academic viewpoint...
A series of "cause A led to effect A, cause B led to effect B..." may not lead to a very good paper or grade.
Narrowing your thesis to something that you can present coherently in 5 pages is probably a good starting point, but you can do that after you gather some information.
For a similar class, and paper of a similar length, my instructor required us to share our working thesis first, and I was going to work with "Trap, Neuter Return is an effective means of controlling feral cat populations" and he told me it was too broad to cover in five pages... "bikes and cars have accidents" seems far broader to me.
Good luck on your paper.
As for me, my one encounter with a car where I actually made contact, I came out of a drive way and brushed against a moving car (about 25 MPH) and fell to the ground. The immediate effect was some rust was scraped off of my handlebar, and my parents were called. Also, I was about 15 and delivering newspapers. I paid more attention to cars around me after that.
I also had a brother (actually 1/2 brother) hit by a car when he was in his 20's. According to the police reports, and findings of the autopsy and investigation into the hit and run, my brother was on the way home from work as a cook at a bar when he swerved into the path of the car. The car hit the bike with enough force to knock the seat out of the bike, have the bike hit a tree at the side of the road 3 feet off the ground where it took a gouge out of the tree. The driver of the car was scared and drove off. My brother laid at the side of the road coughing up blood for a short period of time before he was found by a coworker. The coworker then called the police who filed the report, wrote of my brother coughing up blood.
The autopsy found that my brother died of massive head injuries. He was not wearing a helmet. He also had enough illegal drugs in his system, that the doctor stated that he was not in complete control of his bicycle, so the car driver was not at fault.
The accident led to my parents getting a phone call, and then I got a phone call from my parents. All of this happened on Thanksgiving morning. Shortly thereafter I flew from California to the Seattle area to attend his funeral. His body had already arrived by the time I got there, his body was flown in from New Jersey.
After the funeral, I drove the family car up to the cemetery for the graveside ceremony, since dad was too distraught to drive.
Now I don't ever celebrate a Thanksgiving without thinking of my brother left dying at the side of the road coughing up blood. Even before then, I always wore a helmet when I rode (although I hadn't been on a bike in a long time) but now, the need for a helmet is even more real to me.
I was in the midst of attending college at the time, within a few classes of getting my AA. I quit at the end of the term because I really saw life as futile. I already had a good job, and even though I liked school, I thought that the extra effort was useless when a life can be erased so easily. I didn't go back to finish my AA until about 15 years later.
Now that I am on the east coast, I have an occasional desire to go to the place where he died in Absecon, New Jersey... but then I think that it would not do any good. When I thought of going to Atlantic City recently to ride on the boardwalk, I thought of him, since I discovered a couple of years ago that Absecon is very close to Atlantic City.
My brother is buried in a nice cemetery in Auburn Washington where my step-father (his father) was buried several years later. Whenever I go "home" on vacation, I always swing by their graves,
So, it will be a while before all of the effects on my family have run their course... and even after those of us who knew him are dead, the ripples will still be there, just more faint, and perhaps not even known by those effected...
I know little of the young lady that was driving the car... she did turn herself in, so I have her name... but I strongly suspect that there was significant effect on her life too, even though no charges were filed.
... Darwin Gregory
I grant permission to use anything in this post for any non-profit purpose.
04-06-08, 12:11 AM
Thanks for the input...i did it on my own experience and just got thinking of old stories. I can see where some of you think it might have been a broad topic but i narrowed it down for what i need. I went with the causes and the effects came naturally. A certain personal experience and how it affected his parents took a major part of the paper.
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