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Minor accident/crash on the intersection - lesson learned

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Minor accident/crash on the intersection - lesson learned

Old 11-15-16, 10:40 AM
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kim43235
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Minor accident/crash on the intersection - lesson learned

What happened:
There is a left/straight lane which is a part of my normal commute. If I'm the first vehicle of the lane at the light I usually position myself toward the right side of lane and little bit further up front so that the car behind me can trigger the turn signal. Yesterday during my lunch ride, I did the same thing. On green light I took off and made a big left turn and I hit a car that was going to straight. I actually did not realize the lane is left/straight until then. I did not have a mirror so did not know the car was passing straight. When I saw the car it was little late to avoid the contact. So my bike handlebar hit the right/rear passenger door of the car and I lost balance ended up falling on my left side. Speed was probably less than 8MPH since I just took off and I landed with my hand/knee/hip. The driver stopped and checked if I'm okay. The driver thought I was going straight. I did not do a hand signal so he tried to pass me. There was an witness and Fire Department crew on the street called the police. I thought I felt fine since it's almost like a simple bike fall not like a crash type of accident. They offered to go to ER but I refused as I did not think it was a serious accident. My wrist soared and my knee was bleeding a bit due to a minor road rash. I actually hit the same spot that I fell last week myself. Police took all information from me and the driver and the witness. Police did not file a crash report though. Left me a card to contact him if anything needed. Bike looks okay except the handlebar tape is ripped.

My condition:
The hip started to soar about an hour after crash. My wrist and knee hurts but I could still ride to home. I checked myself after I got home I think I hit the ground with my left hip bone. I can walk and put weight on my left leg. I'm no expert but I don't think my hip bone is broken or cracked. There is no swelling or noticeable bruise on the left hip. It just feels tight and soar when I raise my knee. It's just bit uncomfortable when I walk. No pain when in rest.

After thought:
I did admit that I did not do hand-signal to the left as I thought it was left turn only lane. But when I think about again the driver was passing me very closely in the intersection. I did not take the whole lane but somewhat close to the middle when I was taking a wide left turn. He should have waited until I cross the intersection. I'm thankful that I did not hit by the front of the car though. I refused to go to ER since I thought it wasn't serious injury. Also I did not cause trouble going ER and hospital bill, legal, etc. I feel bit better today and debating whether I should see a doctor or not.

Lesson learned:
1. Know your route and the types of lanes of your commute. If I knew it was a left/straight lane then I would have avoided this accident by taking a whole lane or making a left turn signal to make myself clear.

2. Take a whole lane on the left turn lane. I positioned myself on the right of the road and letting the first car passed by me was silly of me. They can wait on my left turn and should protect myself rather than yielding to cars behind.

3. Go to ER or get medical help on the scene even if minor injury. You never know what happened during accident so it's better to get checked up. I did not know my hip was hit until an hour later. Getting medical help later is still possible and I'm thinking about it but it would be better to just getting a help on the scene.

4. Talk to the witness to get a full picture of what happened. I thought I know what happened but witnesses can give a second eye of story I did not realize such as the car was too close to me when passing. I did not talk to the witness directly but police did. The witness was blaming the driver and they were almost in fight or something and I did not want to cause more trouble.

5. Protect yourself than motorist. I did not want to make a huge deal out of this minor accident so I went easy and did not report a crash report. But next time I would do that even if it seems minor to protect my right than the motorist.

Conclusion:
Just wanted to share this story to remind other bike commuters or road cyclists to get alerted and be safe on the roads. I started road bike a few months ago and this happened. Probably about 600 miles or so on the road. Thank God that it was a minor accident but my confidence on the road is bit damaged and won't ride until my hip is healed completely. I see it as a warning sign to be safe on the roads. Any advice or comment would be appreciated.

Last edited by kim43235; 11-15-16 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 11-15-16, 10:52 AM
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First, glad you're OK and nothing serious was damaged.

Yeah, if I'm turning left, I move far left in the left turn lane. If I'm at a light that doesn't trigger for bikes, I try to position myself as best I can to try anyway, but if a car comes up behind me, I scootch forward into the crosswalk a little so the car behind me can get up on the sensor.

In a combo straight/turn lane I'd signal. But if as you said you thought it was a turn only lane, I probably would not have signalled (but I would have been on the left).
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Old 11-15-16, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
First, glad you're OK and nothing serious was damaged.

Yeah, if I'm turning left, I move far left in the left turn lane. If I'm at a light that doesn't trigger for bikes, I try to position myself as best I can to try anyway, but if a car comes up behind me, I scootch forward into the crosswalk a little so the car behind me can get up on the sensor.

In a combo straight/turn lane I'd signal. But if as you said you thought it was a turn only lane, I probably would not have signalled (but I would have been on the left).
Thanks for the word. Quick question for you. If you position yourself left at the light, do you take a whole lane when making a turn? You need to go to the right side of the lane eventually and I can't imagine myself going from left to right. I'd worry that cars will pass me right side if I'm still on the left side during a left turn. I was thinking to take whole lane (in the middle) at the light and then slowly move towards to the right during a left turn.
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Old 11-15-16, 11:24 AM
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Glad you're okay. I'm fortunate that all my left turns are on dedicated left turn lanes, but even then when there's traffic behind me I'll do a hand signal as well.

Also if there was no left run lane I might be inclined to make the turn as a pedestrian. The traffic behind going straight would scare me a bit, especially if it's been green for some time and drivers approach the intersection at full speed.
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Old 11-15-16, 11:27 AM
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Glad you're OK.

If I'm doing anything other than going straight, I signal when (and if) I see the other light turning yellow then again when my light turns green. I'll continue to signal if conditions allow (especially if I have to stop for oncoming traffic in the intersection).

That, and if I have cars behind me I"ll watch my mirror to make sure no one looks like they're going to make an unsafe pass. If necessary, I'll abort my turn.
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Old 11-15-16, 02:01 PM
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Dual direction lanes are problematic. I agree taking the whole lane is usually the best option. Good news sounds like you're OK. Thanks for posting, always good to benefit from others' experiences.
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Old 11-15-16, 02:29 PM
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The driver tried to pass you on the left?

Sounds like you didn't hit a car but the car hit you. If you were another car they wouldn't have hit you because passing on the left like that is not safe. Rude driver wanted to save 5 seconds and hit you, lucky it wasn't worse. Hope you heal up quickly.
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Old 11-15-16, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by kim43235 View Post
Thanks for the word. Quick question for you. If you position yourself left at the light, do you take a whole lane when making a turn? You need to go to the right side of the lane eventually and I can't imagine myself going from left to right. I'd worry that cars will pass me right side if I'm still on the left side during a left turn. I was thinking to take whole lane (in the middle) at the light and then slowly move towards to the right during a left turn.
It has not been my experience (considerable) that cars will try to pass a left turning cyclist on the right. Nevertheless I do not position myself on the left of any lane if I can help it. I am either in the center, or to the right but there is rarely a reason to be to the left.
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Old 11-15-16, 03:10 PM
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Get a mirror. Take the center of the lane. I will also line up behind the car sometimes too.
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Old 11-15-16, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Get a mirror. Take the center of the lane. I will also line up behind the car sometimes too.
A mirror is NOT the only way to know what is happening behind you. Seriously. It is not. Nor would it appear that it was anything behind this cyclist that caused a problem. They were not rear ended.
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Old 11-15-16, 05:00 PM
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Always take the whole lane in situations like this -- head of the line, with lane open to straight and turns. Helps the drivers too. Even moving to the rightmost wheel track gives them the wrong impression that it's okay to pass.

If you're injured, never admit fault. Difficult to remember when we're in pain and shock. But never admit fault to the police, emergency responders, insurance companies or lawyers who may call to interview you.

If you're injured and need medical care, get an attorney pronto and let the attorney handle everything. Injuries can be tricky with longterm consequences that aren't immediately apparent.

Also keep in mind that some states limit liability and compensation. For example in Texas those loud talking liability attorneys on TV are only interested in accidents that involve a commercial vehicle of some kind. That's where the deep pockets and big money are. They won't help you much in accidents involving only personal private vehicles. In those cases the settlements will often be limited to whatever the vehicle liability insurance covers and half of that may go to the attorney.

For working folks who can afford it, the best policy is your own insurance to cover all of your medical expenses in the event of a disabling accident. Don't count on the other party's insurance, even if they're clearly at fault. But that sort of personal insurance isn't affordable for everyone.
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Old 11-15-16, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
The driver tried to pass you on the left?

Sounds like you didn't hit a car but the car hit you. If you were another car they wouldn't have hit you because passing on the left like that is not safe. Rude driver wanted to save 5 seconds and hit you, lucky it wasn't worse. Hope you heal up quickly.

Sounds like the dude on the bike was the first vehicle/bike on the RIGHT side of a lane that goes straight or left turn. Any normal driver would assume the bicyclist would go straight instead of turning left. Also no hand signal was made. Plus, why go on the right side when you need to turn left? That is inviting cars to go ahead of you and try to pass you up since driver will assume you're going straight and any driver who doesn't want to go 5-15MPH will pass you up. This could've been avoided if bicyclists was in center or very left of the lane. If it were a left turn only lane then it's still dangerous to stay on the right side but less dangerous since cars would also turn left.
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Old 11-16-16, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
A mirror is NOT the only way to know what is happening behind you. Seriously. It is not. Nor would it appear that it was anything behind this cyclist that caused a problem. They were not rear ended.
Just one of many tools bikers find helpful, myself included. More information is never a bad thing.
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Old 11-16-16, 08:55 AM
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Interesting story. I don't see the point in any second guessing; reading it, I just place myself in the cyclist's position, wonder what would I have done differently? Answer is, of course, I don't know. Maybe something. Maybe nothing. It might have turned out better or worse, I won't speculate.

I do ride with a mirror (helmet mounted), and am uncomfortable when I'm without it. Sometimes I'd tell you that periodically checking the mirror becomes second nature. But occasionally I zone out and don't check the mirror, and then a car surprises me by zooming past closer than I was expecting. So I wonder if having the mirror might give me a false sense of security. Dunno. Nonetheless, I do recommend a helmet mounted mirror. It's a useful tool when you use it.

Thanks for sharing, @kim43235, I hope your scrapes and bruises heal quickly!
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Old 11-16-16, 09:47 AM
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Thanks for sharing. I appreciate warning stories like this, every little bit helps make me more aware and safe on my commute.

Was the turn improperly signed, that you weren't aware it was left and straight? That seems weird to me that you wouldn't know that, presumably this intersection is on your regular commute and you use it frequently?

But also the driver's behavior seems weird to me. If I were in my car at a light in a left/straight lane, and the bike that got there before me was positioned at the right side of my lane, instead of the right side of the right lane, I would assume he's turning left, and at least wait until we're through the intersection before looking for an opportunity to safely pass.

The only way it makes sense to me that the driver would try to pass immediately, is if the right lane was right-turn-only, then it is plausible to think that you would take that lane position if you wanted to go straight.

I agree with all of your conclusions. In straight/left, take the full lane, and look to make extra clear signals with drivers. Starting from a stoplight is when cars are slowest, so it makes the least difference if a car is held back a little waiting for a bike (which might be quicker off the line anyways).
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Old 11-16-16, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Thanks for sharing. I appreciate warning stories like this, every little bit helps make me more aware and safe on my commute.

Was the turn improperly signed, that you weren't aware it was left and straight? That seems weird to me that you wouldn't know that, presumably this intersection is on your regular commute and you use it frequently?

But also the driver's behavior seems weird to me. If I were in my car at a light in a left/straight lane, and the bike that got there before me was positioned at the right side of my lane, instead of the right side of the right lane, I would assume he's turning left, and at least wait until we're through the intersection before looking for an opportunity to safely pass.

The only way it makes sense to me that the driver would try to pass immediately, is if the right lane was right-turn-only, then it is plausible to think that you would take that lane position if you wanted to go straight.

I agree with all of your conclusions. In straight/left, take the full lane, and look to make extra clear signals with drivers. Starting from a stoplight is when cars are slowest, so it makes the least difference if a car is held back a little waiting for a bike (which might be quicker off the line anyways).
It was silly of me that I did not realize that it was a straight/left lane. Actually I did not pay too much attention to it as 98% cars are taking a left turn there. The right lane is a right turn only lane. I was turning to left and he was going straight by passing on my left and I hit the car when I was taking a large left turn. It's still scary that what if I took a sharp left turn. The front of car might have hit me instead of the side of car.

Feeling better today and I don't think anything serious. I did not ride to work but rode a 8-mile lunch break ride. I don't feel pain at all during pedaling. Thinking about ride to work tomorrow but will see.
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Old 11-17-16, 01:31 AM
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Glad you're okay. Thanks for sharing. I do the exact same thing when turning left, but you're correct in that cyclists really should know their route and lanes. In the intersection you described (two lanes, left is left/straight, right is right only) I would have taken the entire left lane if I was first at the light, then cheat my way over into the median (assuming unprotected turn) on the green. The driver may not have been intentional or even negligent, but really should have been more attentive to your action and not tried to pass you until driver is certain it is safe to do so; legally, the driver should be at fault for making an unsafe pass attempt since you were technically occupying the lane and in front of the car initially. At least the driver didn't just drive off.
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Old 11-17-16, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by kim43235 View Post
Thanks for the word. Quick question for you. If you position yourself left at the light, do you take a whole lane when making a turn? You need to go to the right side of the lane eventually and I can't imagine myself going from left to right. I'd worry that cars will pass me right side if I'm still on the left side during a left turn. I was thinking to take whole lane (in the middle) at the light and then slowly move towards to the right during a left turn.
That's exactly what I do. I take center lane, then move to the right. I try to make sure that there's no possible way a car can get around me in the intersection. I'm generally accelerating around the corner about the same speed as cars anyway (if there is a car in front of me, I'm usually having to wait on it).

Actually if it's a left turn only lane, I take center of lane stopped at the light. Usually a little left of center to try to hit the sensor if that's an issue.

If it's a straight or right turn lane, I generally take far left if I'm at the front of the line, especially if a mirror check shows someone behind me with a right turn signal on. At one intersection on my route where I go straight, probably 80% of traffic turns right, and it's common for 5 or 6 cars to get past me and turn right on the red. As soon as the light turns, I move immediately to center of lane then head directly for the right side of the lane on the other side of the intersection.
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Old 11-17-16, 09:18 AM
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My personal take-away from O.P.s "A Challenging", "But Valuable", "Growth Opportunity"?
Never Ass-u-me the Other party will do what "I" Expect. Most Specifically when "I" am ABSOLUTELY, 100%, CERTAIN there is 'Only a Single, Isolated, Outcome Even Possible'.
... Complacency + Inattention + 100s of Pounds of Metal Can Kill.

... In this particular case: Always Signal the intention to turn, Always Do 'My Best' to Insure All Other Drivers Understand My Intention to Turn.

... More generally: It is 'My' Responsibility to those that may Love/Care/Depend upon me to ensure 'My' bike handling skills are such that "I" can confidently, reliably, proceed and accelerate Safely thru the ENTIRE intersection with one arm completely outstretched, indicating my intended direction to All Other Road User's AND WITNESSES if necessary.


/

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Old 11-17-16, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by TheChosenOne View Post
Sounds like the dude on the bike was the first vehicle/bike on the RIGHT side of a lane that goes straight or left turn. Any normal driver would assume the bicyclist would go straight instead of turning left. Also no hand signal was made.
Passing in an intersection like that is against the law in Illinois and other places as well.

There's a lot of "what the cyclist should do" in this thread, which is fine. But it's also worthwhile to consider what the motorist should do.
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Old 11-17-16, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Passing in an intersection like that is against the law in Illinois and other places as well.

There's a lot of "what the cyclist should do" in this thread, which is fine. But it's also worthwhile to consider what the motorist should do.
I almost said the same thing, and it was an unsafe pass regardless.

But I thought about all the times I'm going straight, on a straight-only lane. Cars pass me in those intersections all the time and I don't give it a second thought. So if you're in a straight/left, all the way on the right, the driver would think it's the same situation, lane sharing, and maybe not illegal? I wasn't there, I couldn't say either way.

But it's good to bring up, one more danger to remind us about on left turns.
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Old 11-17-16, 11:43 AM
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Thanks to kim43235 for sharing this incident. We had a similar situation on a club ride earlier this week, but fortunately one of our rides noted to the rest of us "Be careful, this is a left/straight lane!"

Everyone signaled and there was no incident/issue with motorists but if we hadn't been paying attention it could have been a similar result to Kim's.

I also agree with the posts above about the importance of having a mirror. Mine is glasses mounted but whether it's handlebar, helmet or glasses mounted, a mirror is very helpful in many commuting situations.

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