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Old 10-10-05, 10:14 PM   #1
SandySwimmer
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social repercussions of a bike accident

I had a minor accident last week. It was my first. A car paused and rolled through a stop sign as I was coming rather fast down a hill after a green light (I had the right of way, but she didn't see me). I saw her in time to say my 's' word three times and she saw me as my front wheel touched her car, so we were stopped as much as possible, but impact did happen. I stopped the rest of the impact with my hand on the hood and then fell in slow motion to the ground. My arm is a bit scraped up and rather bruised, but otherwise I am fine. Also, she has already paid for the bike damages that the bike shop gave me (the wheel and hub need to be replaced and have been ordered and the bike is in the shop). I guess what I am saying is it was a best case scenario if an accident had to happen and I feel pretty lucky.

Now, I am dealing with social implications of an accident. First of all, I learned it is easier to go through a (minor) accident than witness it. The pedestrians and the driver were all on the verge of tears while they were coming to my aid (I was startled more than injured).

Within the two hours of the accident, when I went into the bike shop the guys who work there all told me about being backed over by cars, swerves, and near-misses.

Because my arm is bandaged up (just giant bandages for road burn, not any kind of sling), lots of people ask 'what did you do to your arm?' When I tell them, their faces turn white or they lecture (especially non-cyclists lecture) or they tell me about 'their friend a cyclist' and the worst accident their friend was ever in.

I know a lot of it is out of human compassion and concern, but the stories I am hearing are stressing me out. My actual accident wasn't bad, but lots of people are expressing their fears to me.

I am a blinking light reflective-vest wearing cyclist. I usually cycle in very busy areas and have to go under a highway to get to my usual loop, but this accident happened with no traffic at 8am in a quiet residential area and it was one of the only times I wasn't wearing a reflective vest . . . because I was running an errand (rather than 'cycling'), but my blinkers were on all over the place. I have pulled out my lime-green cycling jacket and have vowed to wear that for every ride, hoping that will make me most visible.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm asking, but it seemed like this would be the group of people who would understand. My bike is in the shop until at least the end of the week. I do miss my bike. I'm feeling sobered by the accident, but (I am hoping) not fearful.

Sandy
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Old 10-10-05, 10:30 PM   #2
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Are you completely sure that you're not just another scofflaw cyclist that was 'asking for it'?
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Old 10-11-05, 01:58 AM   #3
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Let it go in one ear and out the other.

What you're doing is giving people a sounding board to express their fears. Whether those fears are misplaced or made-up is irrelevant to them.

The highways and by-ways are dangerous. A lot of people don't bicycle because they fear cars and traffic. The fact that cycling is statistically safer than driving won't change their minds.

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Old 10-11-05, 02:12 AM   #4
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is your 's' word 'stop'?

I've been known to yell commands at my bike in emergencies. I think the best was on a rainy day, I took a turn too fast on my beater trek MTB, lost traction on the back wheel, and yelled "GRAB" at the top of my voice. It listened (hit a dry patch and popped right back to vertical), and I ended up looking absolutely awesome, because suddenly I wasn't the guy who wiped out, but the guy who totally drifted that corner.
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Old 10-11-05, 06:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Eatadonut
is your 's' word 'stop'?

I've been known to yell commands at my bike in emergencies.
ROFL! i don't know why but that just cracked me up....

If my bike did what I yelled at it there would be a trail of ***** from here to work
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Old 10-11-05, 06:13 AM   #6
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hey Sandy,

good to hear that the incident went pretty well (i.e. banged up arm and bike repairs being paid for)

i think such an incident can in the long run a good thing as it really makes you AWARE as a cyclist. i think the main difference between an auto driver and a cyclist is that an auto driver for the most part just makes sure to "follow the rules" and if something like this happens and someone else fails to give right of way, most of the time is a "fneder-bender" and the result is the party-at-fault's insurance paying for the dents and what-not. BUT for a cyclist the consequences of such a "minor accident" can be major!!

just because the law says you have the right of way (e.g. a stop sign who the other guy is SUPPOSED to stop) does NOT mean that it is safe! that is i think a hard one for newer cyclists to really grasp --- yes, even if you technically do everything right it can still go wrong -- what's the lesson? every time you approach a stop sign, LOOK to see if the driver sees you (it's best if you can see the eyes) and if you're not sure, then start to slow down just in case (a good "trick" is to look until you know they see you and then pretend not to see the car so they can't "sneak in" and take the right-a-way because they know you will yeild to them as the car is bigger)

it's all about riding DEFENSIVELY. expect the car not to stop at the stop sign or the car to unexpectedly without signalling to turn right in front of you... remember this the next time you ride down the hill...

but don't let the fear keep you off the bike. USE the fear to make you a better rider in the future!! good luck and hope you get your bike back soon!
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Old 10-11-05, 06:26 AM   #7
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Sandy, you should thank your friends for their concern, then remark that it wouldn't be so dangerous out there if all the poor/unobservant drivers were taken off the road.

I mean, let's place the blame where it belongs - you're not being suicidal by riding your bike, THEY'RE being homicidal by not paying attention.
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Old 10-11-05, 06:55 AM   #8
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She was not careless; she was a rogue motorist who ran a stop sign and caused an accident. Make sure the cops know wbout it.

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Old 10-11-05, 07:23 AM   #9
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I think it's normal to feel a bit uneasy after being hit on a bike. Even once when I was hit by another car while driving my car, I was really hyper aware of other drivers/cars for about a month. I wouldn't let it stop me from cycling though. Perhaps doing what you can to be more visible is a good idea. But don't let the fear of being hit stop you from enjoying something you love. Hope you have a quick recovery!
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Old 10-11-05, 07:31 AM   #10
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You should learn to have fun with the people who ask you about your arm. Add a bit here and there to the story. Instead of a low to mid speed crash make it 35 to 40mph. Instead of hitting the car and falling to the ground, say you hit, went over the bars and then across the front of hood, landed on your feet but then sliped on some oil and because the driver did not stop right away she ran over your arm. Then get a good look of the faces on the people who believe you.

After you get the shocked look you can tell them what realy happend. If the non cyclist start to tell you how dangerous it is to ride on the street you can tell them you agree and have decided to become a couch potato and avoid any activity that may cause stress or injury and also ask if they would like to join you on your new goal of increasing your cholesterol and body fat. It's fun to be a smart a$$ once in a while

Good to know things worked out for you though and only some minor scraps.

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Old 10-11-05, 07:38 AM   #11
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People who don't ride really WANT it to be UNSAFE ... I think it fills some psychological need they have for an excuse not to exercise. Two weeks ago I cut my knee rather badly ... home accident ... had to go to the ER for 8 stitches and was on crutches for 10 days (b/c I nicked the tendon). Tons of people asked me about it (of course) and MOST felt the need to say, "You mean you didn't do it on your bike?" ... my bike was nowhere near this! It's just that people want to think biking is very dangerous.

Don't let their fear be contagious! You are no more or less safe than you were before.

I wish you a speedy and complete recovery! I rode yesterday for the first time in two weeks. Felt a little weird on my now stiff knee ... but I'm going out for a little longer today.
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Old 10-11-05, 07:53 AM   #12
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My experience is that non-bikers tend to blame the injured cyclist or remark on 'how dangerous' bikes are. Try talking to a cabbie whose cab you're in when you're laid up on crutches from a bike-cab collision.

Better to make up a shark bite story so incredulous the joke's on them no matter how much they believe.
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Old 10-11-05, 08:39 AM   #13
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Thats why you only fall with glorious falls like taking a curve downhill too fast at 25mph on a MTB and then stopping on a dime on a fence pole in an attempt to verify that the fence pole meets all FDA sturdiness requirements.

Best luck on the recovery Sandy and just be glad you dont have a dislocated and numb shoulder out of the deal
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Old 10-11-05, 08:56 AM   #14
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heh, i know the feeling. try coming to work on crutches. everyone comes running..OH MY GOD! what happened! after a while, i felt kinda stupid talking about the accident and didn't like the attention. you're right, everyone has a story to tell you and i've had to listen to dozens of them.
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Old 10-11-05, 09:49 AM   #15
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This phenomenon - drawing out the worst story from everyone around you - also happens with pregnant women. The slightest bulge in your tummy, and all of a sudden everyone thinks you want to hear their horror story.

I think I'd respond to their story with "Wow, that was a really horrible story. What on earth made you think I wanted to hear about that?" and walk away. Embarassing moments lead to introspection, which might lead a few people to insight.

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Old 10-12-05, 08:07 AM   #16
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"is your 's' word 'stop'?
I've been known to yell commands at my bike in emergencies."

This also made me laugh.

Nat - thanks for the advice about riding defensively. One of my thoughts while I was on the ground was, 'darn, I forgot about the side.' I have been so hyper-aware of vehicles coming at me from the front or behind, that I forgot about the side guys. Usually I stop when I see a car approaching a stop sign, but this one I didn't see until it was in the road as it was about to touch my bike. It makes me more aware that I need to slow down and assume a car may be coming even if I don't see it.

I have been strength training which is supposed to reduce injuries. Another thought I had while I was on the ground was, "wow, I bounce, strength training must be working"

I still have a few days without a bike, but it has been raining which makes it a little easier.

Thanks for all of the great responses both funny and practical.

Sandy
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Old 10-12-05, 08:54 AM   #17
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Wear your boo-boos like a badge of honor. Take your minor injury is a sign of your commitment. I am sure that I can speak for the whole BF community, in saying that we are all happy that things did not go much worse for you and wish you a speedy recovery. All decent cyclists have accidents every so often. My minor wrecks serve to remind me to be humble and look out for the unpredictable. Don't give the couch potatoes or car-junkies in your life any reason to think that what they are doing is safer--because it isn't.
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Old 10-12-05, 09:10 AM   #18
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Hey you only cycle and swim (as far as I can tell). Try being an over 50 year old Rugby player! Every weekend I get banged up a bit, sometimes more than a bit. I finally got my mom resigned to the fact that I'll never stop, but still have to convince the wife.

Seriously, if you enjoy cycling then it is what you have to do. What is the worst that can happen? You die. But if you give up everything you love then you are dead already. And everything is dangerous in some way.

BTW the fitness and reactions you keep at topp level by cycling and other 'dangerous' physical activities have a pay off in giving yuo a better chance in those slip and fall in the bathroom accidents that kill many.
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Old 10-12-05, 09:58 AM   #19
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Just tell them you would rather have minor injuries on the outside where you can see them rather than a slow creeping invisible death infiltrating your arteries and slowly clogging the life out of your heart.
Also remember that all those stupid people who drive cars eventually get out of them and make stupid comments about cycling accidents too.
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Old 10-12-05, 10:39 AM   #20
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Be glad you're not pregnant.

Women LOVE to fill pregnant ladies with fear by telling every horrible child birth story that they're ever heard. You can at least hide your injury with a long sleeve shirt. That would be harder to do if you were pregnant.
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Old 10-12-05, 02:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandySwimmer

Now, I am dealing with social implications of an accident. First of all, I learned it is easier to go through a (minor) accident than witness it. The pedestrians and the driver were all on the verge of tears while they were coming to my aid (I was startled more than injured).

Within the two hours of the accident, when I went into the bike shop the guys who work there all told me about being backed over by cars, swerves, and near-misses.

...

I know a lot of it is out of human compassion and concern, but the stories I am hearing are stressing me out. My actual accident wasn't bad, but lots of people are expressing their fears to me.
Try not to let the stories stress you out, but learn from other's experiences, try not to repeat what _someone else_ has already experienced, and be wiser from their mistakes.

Back in early August I was run down from behind by a hit and run driver in an SUV. I was hurt rather badly, spent two weeks in the hospital, and while I'm not fully recovered yet, at least I am alive.

My experience has challenged my love for the sport and demolished any trust I had of drivers on the road. The first couple times riding in a car as a passenger freaked me out. The first time I drove my car, I didn't go over 20 miles an hour. I haven't been able to ride yet, but that will be an interesting experience too I'm sure. Oh yeah, I'm a 45 year old man who raced for 11 years and has spent a LOT of time riding.

My crash opened my eyes as to just how badly 99% of drivers speed, cut people off, fail to stop appropriately, and are just plain aggressive. Drivers in general SUCK, and they don't care.

I don't remember anything from my crash and have only eyewitness accounts of what happened, so it's hard for me to know what to change in my case. But I have done a lot of reading in these forums and on the internet about safe riding practice and crashes of other people so I don't have a repeat of my ordeal.

I am going to be more diligent about wearing BRIGHT clothing in the future (does anyone make BLAZE ORANGE jerseys???? ) and am going to pick my routes carefully.

It's a great sport and can do a lot for you ... just be smart in your approach to it.

John Wilke
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Old 10-12-05, 04:10 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by nathank
hey Sandy,

good to hear that the incident went pretty well (i.e. banged up arm and bike repairs being paid for)

i think such an incident can in the long run a good thing as it really makes you AWARE as a cyclist. i think the main difference between an auto driver and a cyclist is that an auto driver for the most part just makes sure to "follow the rules" and if something like this happens and someone else fails to give right of way, most of the time is a "fneder-bender" and the result is the party-at-fault's insurance paying for the dents and what-not. BUT for a cyclist the consequences of such a "minor accident" can be major!!

just because the law says you have the right of way (e.g. a stop sign who the other guy is SUPPOSED to stop) does NOT mean that it is safe! that is i think a hard one for newer cyclists to really grasp --- yes, even if you technically do everything right it can still go wrong -- what's the lesson? every time you approach a stop sign, LOOK to see if the driver sees you (it's best if you can see the eyes) and if you're not sure, then start to slow down just in case (a good "trick" is to look until you know they see you and then pretend not to see the car so they can't "sneak in" and take the right-a-way because they know you will yeild to them as the car is bigger)

it's all about riding DEFENSIVELY. expect the car not to stop at the stop sign or the car to unexpectedly without signalling to turn right in front of you... remember this the next time you ride down the hill...

but don't let the fear keep you off the bike. USE the fear to make you a better rider in the future!! good luck and hope you get your bike back soon!

This is excellent advice… the cyclist bears most of the risk in any collision, so it makes sense to be ultra-defensive. Never assume that a motorist will yield just because they’re supposed to.

Cycling in traffic has made be a more defensive motorist when I do drive – a little bonus.
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Old 10-12-05, 05:19 PM   #23
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...The pedestrians and the driver were all on the verge of tears while they were coming to my aid....
What's the old saying, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness then to do the right thing..."
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Old 10-12-05, 05:57 PM   #24
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She was not careless; she was a rogue motorist who ran a stop sign and caused an accident. Make sure the cops know wbout it.
You may also find out at a much later date that you fairly tore a tendon in that little crash. Good to have records if something like that crops up.
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Old 10-12-05, 08:07 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by MasterSezFaster


...you can tell them you agree and have decided to become a couch potato...


MSF
And you can add "I bet after a just a few months of daily/nightly reality TV watching I'll be nice and pudgy like you and finally get rid of these annoyingly firm calf muscles!"
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