This is a plea for help from you to convince my wife about my decision to buy a recumbant. I have been looking at, and test riding, recumbant bicycles for five years. I've ridden the Trek recumbant, Vision R40, several Rans models, the BikeE (several models), and Burley's Limbo and Django.
Several years ago, I was involved in an accident where I got "T" boned by an SUV who turned in front of me in a bike lane. I was going straight, and had just come down a hill on my Trek 1420 road bike that I use for commuting. I had just gone through a green light that usually stopped me, and looked down to see how fast I was going (still over 20 mph). When I looked up, all I saw was red; it was the side of an SUV directly in front of me. I pushed the bicycle into the side of the SUV, and bailed out to the rear, kicking to ensure that I did not go under the vehicle. I ended up with a lot of scrapes, and a badly bruised right thigh where my leg hit the top tube as I dismounted. I went to the hospital for observation, was held a couple of hours, and released.
I began looking at recumbants more earnestly because had I been in a recumbant, I probably would not have been looking down at the critical time, and figured I could have better monitored the road. My wife was not thrilled about a recumbant, job situation was unsettling, and things were such that I simply continued looking at recumbants when I got the chance.
A little over a year ago, I had a second accident. In this one, the last thing Ib remember was signaling for a left turn approaching a "T" intersection downhill on the long side of the "T". There were several side streets, and after a thorough analysis (I work in the safety field), determined that apparently I was looking backward to clear myself, when someone came out directly in front of me. It is possible that my front tire actually touched the car's side or bumper, but I cannot be sure as there were no marks. I do know that I tried to brake, and sprained my left thumb doing so from the top of the bars (I was on a ten-speed road bike, a Schwinn LeTour). The bruises showed that I had tucked my head, but that I most likely came down directly on my head as my helmet was crushed on the right side near my temple area, and broke into a dozen or so pieces. I received a laceration an the top of my head, probably from a secondary impact.
Now, my hunt for a recumbant became much more pitched, as if I was in a recumbant, I would have had a rear-view mirror (necessary on recumbants; I was not using one as I was following advise from John Forrester's book, Effective Cycling , advise I now do not believe). Every week for over a month I needed to go to the hospital to get a large bruised area on my right hip drained. When I did, I took the afternoon off and after the procedure, went to the LBS specializing in recumbants to test ride some. One stood out, a Rans Stratus. I almost purchased it, but we still had kids in college, and had just moved, so things were still pretty tight financially. But I told myself, one more time and I would buy a recumbant.
Now, that third accident has occurred. I was riding a bicycle path on my Trek 1420, when parallel cracks in the roadway's wooden structure (we were over a wetland) trapped my wheel at low speed, and dumped me head first onto the path over the handlebars. This time, the only injury was a slightly sprained wrist (the City of Hillsboro has been very good about paying for a new wheel, and fixing the path's problem too).
But after this one, I found out that the Stratus was still available, and I put money down on it. When I told my wife, she was not convinced. She doesn't agree with my assessment (she's a skeptical scientific type in the medical field), and thinks that upright bicycles are safer in traffic. I was about to purchase the Rans Stratus, and then decided to do some more test riding in traffic with a SWB recumbant (the Burley Django). I was not impressed with the Django's high bottom bracket in traffic situations, and so I'm back to the Stratus.
I'm now, as a safety professional, becoming aware of the social pressures to do things that one knows are not as safe, because of the attitude of those who you care about interferring with my better judgement. It did not help my arguments with my wife that those who work in the LBS which sells recumbants all when home the other evening on upright bicycles.
So my question to you who do ride recumbants are these:
--What is your experience in traffic?
--After three accidents that I feel could have been prevented on a recumbant, is there any other approach to deal with my wife's skepism?
--Do you have any other thoughts?
I would really, really appreciate your thoughts here.