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Thread: Right Hooked

  1. #1
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    Right Hooked

    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
    Last edited by Carusoswi; 06-24-06 at 02:07 AM.

  2. #2
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    Ramble all you want, we're happy that you were not injured badly.

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    Caruso,

    We're all very glad you're in OK, if not perfect, shape. Also, glad the bike was undamaged.

    I have to add that in my experience, shopping center entrances are by far the most likely place to have a car pass and immediately turn right (in the U.S.) without either seeing you, or taking you into consideration. For some reason, drivers sometimes have a sense that a their obligation to motoring safety ends at a shopping center entrance.

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    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    So glad that you are moderately OK!

    That citation MAY be important. If your injuries somehow become permanent, you may need to file a claim/lawsuit. Also, wait until you see the emergency room bill, ambulance charges, etc. Hope you have medical insurance. Do you have her license, insurance carrier, etc.?

    Was she on a cell phone?

    Best of wishes for a prompt recovery.

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    Pinstriper SemperFi's Avatar
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    Many of these stories are very scary and certainly drive home the point about how vulnerable we all are when riding...especially since, unlike being in a car, there is little protection between the rider and the road. We've all heard the words about being a defensive "driver" ... this goes tenfold when you're a cyclist.

    My best wishes for a speedy recovery.
    Specialized Sequoia Elite
    Ride On!

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    The fallacy of bike lanes.

    No sensible engineer would ever design a four lane road in which you make right turns from the center lane but that's exactly the situation that you described.

    No sensible driver would ever make a right turn from the center lane or ever make a lane change to the right without making a shoulder check.

    I can't imagine overtaking another vehicle in that situation without gauging, and adjusting for, how fast they were moving. If it had happened to be a women pushing one of those baby jogger things on the sidewalk would the driver have said: "I used my turn signal."

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    Great to hear you are ok. Unfortunately many of the younger motorists think turning on turn signal means they have the right of way. It's another part of having population more than double and available roadways remain about the same. With super congested roads if you yield you'll never change lanes. So it's turn on the blinker, close your eyes and change lanes.
    Hi 'o Silver away

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    Old fart redden's Avatar
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    Had a very similar think happen to me on Fallbrook ave.(no impact) It's 4 lane with a bike lane. Speed limit 40, traffic usually travels 50. Home along the street with driveways. I was traveling at 20mph in the bike lane. Lexus SUV guns it to overtake me and then immediately turns right into a driveway. Not enough space to slow, I move to the left to avoid impact. Cars behind the SUV had to brake. The car behind me lays on his horn because I was now blocking the lane. Most likely thought I should have been on the sidewalk traveling at walking speeds. Very dangerous!!
    If I avoided every dangerous, poorly engineered street in Los Angeles it would be almost impossible to commute by bike.

    Glad your ok!

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    I really appreciate the best wishes. Cruising this forum has lifted my mood somewhat, also. DnvrFox, I'll be getting my hands on that report as soon as it is available (hard to believe how long it takes them to complete it - can't imagine how long it must take for a truly complicated accident). I am covered by health insurance and could also file a claim with my auto insurance if the need arises.

    I am thankful to be alive and in one piece - I am not looking for anything other than compensation for any out of pocket expenses. They took me away from the scene without giving me the opportunity to get the drivers info, but the police assure me that it is available to me at the police station. I will look to her insurance to pick up my medical expenses, but will rely on either my health or auto insurance to defray those expenses if there is a problem.

    I would expect that ambulance ride to be between $700 - $1000.

    At the hospital, besides the normal administrative fees will be the cost of the x-rays and evalutation. They gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for some antibiotic that I never had filled. I took the shot because I haven't had one in a while - I suppose that can't hurt. But I'm passing on the antibiotics unless I notice signs of an infection - less is better when it comes to antibiotics IMO.

    I was just reading a thread over on the road cycling section where a cyclist veered to avoid an accident near the finish line of a race in Dayton, OH, struck a parked vehicle at 40 mph, and is now facing the possibility of permanent paralysis. Believe me when I say again how thankful I am that my situation did not turn out worse.

    My collision did not seem that violent. I was able to get myself turned enough that it was the left side of my body and bike that struck her vehicle. The tape on my left drop bar (is that what you call it?) looks as though it was sliced through with a knife. I would have expected injury to the outside portion of my arm, but the brusing and swelling is on the underside and inside - both above and below the elbow. The most serious swelling occurred in the area around the elbow joint on the inside of my arm and the bruising runs solid from above my biceps to my wrist - all on the inside.

    After the collision, I fell to the ground on my right side - so the brusing on my right knee makes sense. It's all that damage to the inside of my left arm that puzzles me.

    After the accident, my feet were already unclipped from both pedals (I didn't forget to unclip???), and I had no problem getting to my feet. The car had a crease in its right side that ran from the back of the rear door to the front tire, so I must have scooted along side her for quite a while - funny that it didn't feel that way to me at the time.

    When I ride, it is with confidence that I am in control and will be able to react to whatever situation presents itself - but this happened so suddenly - and now I realise that my senses really couldn't keep track of events as they unfolded.

    I keep asking myself if there might have been a better braking technique that might have allowed me to avoid a collision - but I don't think so.

    . . . could I have been more defensive in anticipating her intentions - who can say - but I don't think so.

    . . . so, is this road or others like it worth riding? It's a nice wide road - big fat designated areas for us cyclers to use. What are my alternatives? Of what use is a road-worthy bike if you can't stretch out and cruise along at 20 - 25 mph when the opportunity arises.

    All thoughts that run through an old guys noggin.

    Thanks again for the encouraging words.

    Caruso

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    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Drivers continually under estimate the speed of bicycles. I think it relates to their personal experiences in riding bicycles.

    I have had a vehicle turn left right in front of me when I was going about 25 mph, even though I was clearly visible and I knew that he saw me. I anticipated what he was going to do and slowed to allow the turn. He underestimated my speed. I also said a couple of choice phrases, which really did not serve any good purpose except to vent my frustration.

    One technique I use in driving and biking defensively is to watch the eyes of the driver, and the direction of the front wheels.

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    We're all feeling for you

    And just at the moment I'm also questioning the balance between my own perceived right to ride my bike, and the exposure to risk that it currently involves. So in particular I sympathise with the loss of will or confidence that your collision has caused you because of someone else's heedless fault.
    I've been a committed two wheel user, human powered and engine powered, since early teenage. Commuted on powered or human powered 2 wheels in London, Paris, Jakarta, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and it's all been ok so far. Lots and lots of miles, and no bumps in 40 years.
    I have to confess, here I'm bottling out. (English phrase, means getting scared and not wanting to continue). In Bahrain we have the ghastly statistic of world's worst road traffic 'accidents'. Population of 700,000, say half eligible for a driving licence, and 200,000 injury or death events last year. Almost every alternate person in an injury accident. It's a disease of affluence, cheap cars and no responsibility. I feel out of place on the bike, and have scouted out networks of rideable walkways and jogging tracks to do training miles on.
    And I resent it like fury, but I don't know any cyclist here who hasn't been hit. It's rotten.
    So - I hope you recover fast, and can find the right level of confidence to resume. Best wishes

  12. #12
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    Caruso...hang in there. People slip in the shower everyday too, but cleaning up beats stinking. Keep your chin up and let us know how the report turns out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    One technique I use in driving and biking defensively is to watch the eyes of the driver, and the direction of the front wheels.
    This is why I hate spinner hub caps. You can't tell when a car is moving or stopping by looking at the tires. The same with the stationary hub caps that taxis use sometimes...

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    Life is like that - not just cycling - you're crusing along and then (suddenly, without warning...) BAM! Death in the family, heart attack, divorce, job loss, or bicycle accident...

    The point is, life goes on. It takes time to recover, but you'll regain your zest for cycling, just like you regain your zest for life, IMHO. It's normal to be a bit put off after an incident (I haven't bicycled since my rear wheel exploded & nearly killed me - I'm still too bruised & sore to sit for long). But I already am eager to heal fully so I can enjoy my life again (including bicycling).

    Give it time, and recognize that you could just as easily have been in your car and had a not-your-fault collision that would have injured you as badly or worse. Things happen - it's part of life. Hope you heal quickly both in body and spirit.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Caruso, Hope all injuries (physical and psychological... yes, you suffered trauma) heal soon. Don't let this keep you from riding. Early last fall I witnessed the same thing, only it was two cars involved. One was passing the other (hell bent on getting wherever he was going before anyone else). He shoots slightly ahead of the car on his right, turns on his signal and whips his car into a parking lot outside a bar. Unfortunatley, he misjudged the distance and the car in the right lane hit his rear quarter panel, spun him around and both cars ended up with considerable damage.

    In your case, I would support feeling no ill will toward the driver. However, I would hold that it was very poor driving and there should be logical consequences for it. We are stuck living in a society where the actual skill and judgement required to operate a motor vehicle far exceeds what some people can muster or are willing to exerise. Once again, speedy recovery.
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    Ah, the old pass and turn (or "right hook" as you call it), god forbid the motorist has to wait a half a second to let you go by; too busy for that.
    Another good one is the "left hook" where you are being passed by cars going in your direction (and they block the view of you by on comming traffic) then an on comming car darts behind the car that just passed you to try and cross the lane (before the next car) to go into a lot on your right. They hit the gas and are pointing right at you.

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    Glad you're going to be okay Caruso.

    I've been right hooked more times than I can remember. Luckily I've managed to escape without a collision...so far.

    Probably the only way for bicyclists to insure against the "right hook syndrome" and other reckless driving deeds is to push for stricter traffic laws, heavier fines, and better driver education. Not likely to happen anytime soon.

    Hang in there and keep getting well.
    Last edited by Louis; 06-24-06 at 02:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gear
    Ah, the old pass and turn (or "right hook" as you call it), god forbid the motorist has to wait a half a second to let you go by; too busy for that.
    Another good one is the "left hook" where you are being passed by cars going in your direction (and they block the view of you by on comming traffic) then an on comming car darts behind the car that just passed you to try and cross the lane (before the next car) to go into a lot on your right. They hit the gas and are pointing right at you.
    I almost got hit by a city bus that way last week...and that was after almost being hit by two police cars the same day, in sperate intersections an hour apart, as they ran red lights with no lights or sirens...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carusoswi
    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.
    The old saying is appropriate here. “You have to get back on the horse and ride” I have well over 150,000 miles of riding. I have been hit and taken down by bikes, pedestrians, Cars and even a small child that ran across the road. Every time it causes me to pause for the next few days when I reach for the bike or when I ride by the spot where it happened.

    You were doing everything right and even the police have told you so. I understand how it shakes a person up. A friend of mine had his first bike crash after over 40 years of riding, blew a tire on a down hill decent, it has taken him awhile to over come it.

    More people have accidents at home than on bikes…yea…statistics… statistics and who cares. You’re safer on the bike! We never know when the other car, person, or whatever are going to hit us. But who is to say that I won’t die in my sleep….but I still go to bed.

    Keep riding!

    When you have the miles and scars to show for it and I read a rant here that helmets, and mirrors are dumb I just want to scream.

    I ride with LED red flashers day and night, a helmet, a helmet mirror and I pick my bike clothing by how bright it is.

    Good Luck!

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    Banned. Gary Diego's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk
    I pick my bike clothing by how bright it is.
    And you picked you avatar with divine intervention!

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    Idiot drivers are everywhere and I normally keep an eye out for them but in your case You had no chance. Glad to see that you have survived- but any damage whatsoever on the bike should be claimed for. That bar tape is not cheap and to be replaced by a shop is not going to be F.O.C. and the wheel trueing and check by the LBS should be a matter of course. Just glad to see that no more damage was done. It does sound as thought the police are on the ball on this incident, so hopefully the end result will be in your favour.

    Would like to wish you a speedy recovery and I do but I think you are going to be a bit on the tender side for a few weeks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Diego
    And you picked you avatar with divine intervention!

    How did you know

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    I join everyone else here by wishing you a speedy recovery.....

    Your insurance shouldn't have to pay a dime, her insurance should pay every penny of your bills.

    And anyone that says evryone that gets right hooked by a car brought it on themselves is an idiot in my book.
    Carpe who?

  24. #24
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Hang in there my friend. A very unfortunate situation that was in NO WAY your fault. Don't second guess yourself but see what you can do to recover quickly!!

    You've had a lifetime of close calls and incidents in the past month........

  25. #25
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    "I will look to her insurance to pick up my medical expenses, but will rely on either my health or auto insurance to defray those expenses if there is a problem."

    No. In addition to your medical bills, her insurance should pay for any property damage to your bike and you should claim some amount for "pain and suffering." Let's face it --- she assaulted you with her car. She needs to be "sensitized" to the damage she has caused.

    Also, you need to get back on your bike and start enjoying riding again as soon as possible.

    I was recently the victim of a "right hook", and ended up with fairly serious facial injuries which I am still dealing with. I have been riding for over 30 years and this was my first accident involving an automobile. Life is not without risk and you shouldn't let an isolated incident keep you enjoying cycling.

    SteveE
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

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