Last Monday evening as I rode to an evening meeting about eight miles from my home on a sun-drenched evening (no wind – a nice time for a ride) a motorist made a right turn so unexpectedly that I was unable to avoid her. We were on a four lane non-divided concrete roadway with 6-foot shoulders marked as bike lanes. I was cruising comfortably on a long gradual downhill at about 25 mph when a lady driver overtook me, flashed her right blinker once and made a right turn across my path. I grabbed my brakes as hard as I dared and was able to scrub enough speed to start into a hard right turn before colliding with her car.
It turns out that a patrol car was in the vicinity and at some point had observed me as I progressed down the roadway. Although he did not witness the accident, he was on the scene within seconds of its occurrence.
The lady jumped out of her car proclaiming that she had turned on her signal. Before I had a chance to speak, the policeman interrupted to explain to her that she is supposed to yield to the cyclist.
But the damage had been done.
My left arm was already swollen like a balloon.
Within two minutes, there must have been four police units on the scene, everyone calling my name and asking me goofy questions (obviously to see if I was lucid or dazed from the impact). Then an ambulance arrived to haul me off to the local hospital for x-rays/evaluation. My bike was tossed into the trunk of a police cruiser already crowded with all manner of police equipment (really irked me to watch them stuff my bike into their trunk like that!).
They took me away before I could determine the outcome of the officer’s discussion with the motorist.
Fortunately, I suffered no broken bones, but there was substantial swelling in my left arm. My left wrist feels as though I have sprained it badly, the skin on my left hand still looks like a rubber glove that someone has blown up like a balloon, and my right knee is also bruised and swollen. The inside of my left arm looks as though I had some psycho apply a tattoo along its entire length.
Surprisingly, my bike suffered no visible damage. I took it into the shop for a minor wheel truing and a general check-up – that’s all.
My zeal for biking, however, has suffered a set back. I have read more than once on this BBS that if you get right hooked, it’s no ones fault but your own – I’m here (fortunately) to proclaim that this can happen so suddenly and without warning that the only solution would be not to ride on streets where cars are present. For me, that would mean not riding at all.
It is so disturbing that the lady showed no awareness of my presence before the accident and absolutely no clue that she had done anything wrong afterward – as she explained, she used her signal – I should have stopped for her.
The police report will not be available for another couple of days. I don’t know if it will reveal whether or not a citation was issued against her, not that it matters that much.
FWIW, I was wearing my helmet, although there was no impact to my head. I’m not a fan of helmets and have been wearing one partly due to my interaction on this forum and partly due to loving (if misplaced) insistence from my family. It didn’t play a role in protecting me from injury this time, but I was glad to have been wearing it. The helmet did, indeed, score points with every officer and health provider I dealt with that evening. I could tell that, from the officer’s perspective, the helmet underscored his impression that I was a safety conscious cyclist. He also mentioned that he had observed me moving along prior to the accident – that I was observing/obeying traffic controls and riding in a competent manner (words to that effect, I cannot recall verbatim).
I’ve been out on my bike a couple of times since the accident – just for some short, slow, level rides, but, my heart isn’t really into it just now. Besides, my knee is still stiff and that arm really aches if I put any strain on it while riding.
I know my body will recover, and this blah feeling I have about my cycling is probably just temporary, also. I have to say that I’m still a little stunned from having observed first hand how suddenly a nice outing can turn south. I am, of course, grateful that this accident wasn’t as bad as it might have been. I bear no malice towards the lady driver, either. Although her ignorance infuriates me, I know she didn’t purposely cause this accident.
She has driven home in my mind the point that, as cyclists, we are so very fragile out on the highway. I feel like I am a safe rider, and I’ve ridden 2400 + miles per year over the last four or five years without incident (just one accident when a brand new rear wheel collapsed). Lately, however, I’ve had a number of close calls – it makes me wonder if I shouldn’t just take a break from cycling.
I apologize for rambling – I do appreciate having this forum as one place where I can vent my feelings to a group of knowledgeable cyclists.
Caruso - Edit -->
I guess I should clarify that the lady made her right turn into a shopping center parking lot, not at an intersection - Caruso