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First major car-related accident

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First major car-related accident

Old 04-14-11, 09:40 AM
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itsthewoo
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First major car-related accident

I've had accidents on my bicycle before, but I've been lucky enough to have had them be all my fault (is that still lucky?).

Anyway, I was riding in the shoulder (it's basically an unmarked bicycle lane) coming up to a traffic light at about 12-15 mph. The light was red, and there was a considerable line of cars. A car decided to turn into a driveway before the light without signaling. He's abrupt about getting into the driveway, but takes (what seems like) his sweet time to actually get in. I have extremely little time to react, and I grab as much brake as I can and end up flipping over my handlebars (proper braking technique is so much easier to perform when you are expecting to stop).

The next thing I know, I'm on my back in the middle of the road. I'm pretty sure my head hit the ground, but some part of my body also hit the rear right passenger door of his car. The bike was mostly fine (funnily enough, I was more worried about the bike than myself); it got locked to a post nearby the crash site, and I had a friend pick it up for me. I lost quite a bit of hair, and a decent amount of my forehead skin was left on the pavement.

Paramedics came and recommended that I go to the hospital, which I accepted since I wasn't 100% sure I was okay, and I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be paying out of pocket for it. CT scans and neck x-ray turned up fine, and I'm on concussion watch for a few more hours... I'm scheduled for a follow-up appointment today.

Suffice to say that I would probably not have as much medical related issues if I wore a helmet (not to mention that I probably wouldn't have lost all that hair), but as someone familiar with statistics, its difficult for me to justify the hassle of wearing a helmet when I already do things to minimize my risk. Not to mention that this would have probably been avoided or at least abated if the guy had used his turn signal. Also, the bicycle lanes in Florida suck. For some reason, they think that all we need are three feet of shoulder. Insurance laws are weird too, since I'll be doing everything with my auto insurance rather than regular health insurance.

Overall, I feel much better than yesterday (no more major headaches), and I just wish everyone else safe travels .
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Old 04-14-11, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by itsthewoo View Post
Suffice to say that I would probably not have as much medical related issues if I wore a helmet (not to mention that I probably wouldn't have lost all that hair), but as someone familiar with statistics, its difficult for me to justify the hassle of wearing a helmet when I already do things to minimize my risk. Not to mention that this would have probably been avoided or at least abated if the guy had used his turn signal. Also, the bicycle lanes in Florida suck. For some reason, they think that all we need are three feet of shoulder. Insurance laws are weird too, since I'll be doing everything with my auto insurance rather than regular health insurance.
I hope you heal quickly, but this entire paragraph contradicts itself. Accidents, by definition, cannot be entirely planned for. There are a whole lot of 'if's'. A helmet is designed to minimize the effects of an 'if'. Please do not base justification for helmet use on statistics. It only takes one accident to change a life. Sure, a helmet may or may not help based on stats alone, but you admit here it might have helped. Learn from that.

I'm not one to thump my cycling Bible and demand everyone wear helmets, but this sounds like precisely the type of event that might change one's mind.
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Old 04-14-11, 10:07 AM
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Reason to wear a helmet any helmet even a metal cooking pot:

On 16 March 2009, (Natasha) Richardson sustained a head injury when she fell while taking a beginner skiing lesson at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, about 130 kilometres (81 mi) from Montreal. The injury was followed by a lucid interval, when Richardson seemed to be fine and was able to talk and act normally. Paramedics and an ambulance which initially responded to the accident were told they were not needed and left.[18] Refusing medical attention twice, she returned to her hotel room and about three hours later was taken to a local hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts after complaining of a headache.[19][20] She was transferred from there by ambulance to Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur, Montreal, in critical condition and was admitted about seven hours after the fall.[21][22] The following day she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where she died on 18 March.[1] An autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiners Office on 19 March revealed the cause of death was an "epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head", and her death was ruled an accident.[19]

Even a minor fall from a bike without a helmet can kill you. I hate helmets too, but despite what my wife says my head is not that thick.

I am happy you are ok and from what I read about Florida I wouldn't get on a bike down there without a safety cage, three helmets and knee guards.
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Old 04-14-11, 10:38 AM
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Cereal, your quote gives reason to wear a helmet at all times that you are not already laying down.

A guy from work just came back from FL and told me that nobody there commutes by bike due to the road setup and the car drivers' mentality. I didn't believe him. Having said that, you can't really expect people to use turn signals. I'm glad you are (reasonably) OK, and heal up quickly.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:25 AM
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I used to think wearing a helmet was a hassle, but once you get used to carrying it around it isn't that much of a problem.
Thankfully I've had it on for a car collision that totally ruined one of my bikes, and for a couple of major wipeouts.

Hate to be preachy, but its probably the most important piece of equipment you can invest in.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:28 AM
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I don't consider a helmet to be a hassle at all. If nothing else it gives me something warm to wear in the winter, and a place to mount my mirror.

In Michigan anyway, a turn signal, if used, means "I'm nearly done turning." Seriously, people will turn the signal on like either JUST as they start (wheels already beginning to turn) or when they're halfway through the turn. Clearly they have no friggin' clue WHY turn signals exist (to inform other road users of your intentions) - I have no idea what they think they're for.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:32 AM
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I'm glad you're OK
good luck with the recovery, and I hope you can continue riding soon.

Can you give us any information about the motorist and his response to what happened? Was anyone cited?
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Old 04-14-11, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by enigmaT120 View Post
A guy from work just came back from FL and told me that nobody there commutes by bike due to the road setup and the car drivers' mentality. I didn't believe him. Having said that, you can't really expect people to use turn signals. I'm glad you are (reasonably) OK, and heal up quickly.
It's true. Florida, even with it's perfect year round sunny weather, is not a great place for cycling. I can definitely testify to that having lived in various other states to use as a baseline for comparison.
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Old 04-14-11, 01:13 PM
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hope you heal quickly but learn from the incident and pick up a helmet. helmets are not the worse thing in the world, i promise.
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Old 04-14-11, 01:32 PM
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To wear or not to wear a helmet is debatable. Hope everything is fine nonetheless.
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Old 04-14-11, 01:43 PM
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I had a pedal axle snap off as I was accelerating quite quickly through an intersection. I figure I was going about 35 kmph when it happened. I wasn't expecting it and all my weight shifted and down I went. I landed on my hip and my neck snapped back so I hit my head on the ground very hard. I was wearing a helmet and I figure it did me a world of good. I was pretty bruised and I had a hard time turning my neck for a few days. I also had to get a new helmet as my old one was all cracked up but in the end, I was even more convinced that I should be wearing a helmet at all times.

I would suggest that if you are going to travel at any rate of speed, you should have a helmet. I was just in Zurich and there are bike lanes and bikes everywhere and far fewer people wear helmets as compared to here in Ontario but they likely also have more o0f a biking culture and cars are looking out for them.

In any case - I am certainly pro-helmet...

Glad you are ok.
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Old 04-14-11, 02:47 PM
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I'm wondering about the legality of passing a line of stopped cars on the shoulder? If it were a marked bike lane, then I'm sure it's fine. But if it was just the shoulder of the road, especially if it's not lined off from the "traffic" lane, then the car driver may have a good argument for not bearing any liability. Why would he reasonably expect anyone to be "driving" on the shoulder that is not a traffic lane?

Seems like his biggest liability was not signaling his turn.

I remember years ago I was in my car in the left lane on a backed-up freeway. We were creeping up on a left-hand turn, and the way the freeway was built, to the left of my car was a shoulder that was a full lane wide, then a concrete barrier with landscaping on top of it. Your sight line around the curve was very limited. Suddenly some jerk in another car came booming along the shoulder at about 50 mph passing everybody. The problem he encountered was that, as he negotiated the curve, a police car was parked on the left shoulder with his emergency lights on, and officer was investigating the accident that had everybody held up. I bet the guy had a hard time explaining to the officer how his police car got rear-ended.

I guess my point is: It's either a shoulder or it's a bike lane. Which is it?

And yes, get a helmet. You already got your one free pass.
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Old 04-14-11, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
I'm wondering about the legality of passing a line of stopped cars on the shoulder? If it were a marked bike lane, then I'm sure it's fine.... .
Legal or not, it's never smart to pass a stopped line of cars on the right if there's anywhere that they'd want to turn right into. - be that a road, driveway, whatever. To repeat, doesn't matter (to me) if it's a bike lane, shoulder, whatever. If there's a right turn to be made, sooner or later a car will turn right in front of you and you will get hurt. Doesn't matter who is right or wrong: it is predictable and avoidable so don't do it.

I'm not a person who believes that helmets are essential - I don't think cycling is so dangerous that helmets are required. But this is the sort of thing they help with. But it's so rare compared to other sources of head injuries that I just don't think it's irrational to choose to not wear one as OP did.

I have really, really rung my bell slipping on ice more than once, yet I refuse to wear a helmet as a pedestrian. I have never come close to touching my head to the ground riding a bike in 40 years of riding.
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Old 04-14-11, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
I'm wondering about the legality of passing a line of stopped cars on the shoulder?
Riding on the shoulder is something that many of us do, myself included, but if it's not a marked bike lane, then riding to the right of the white line means that you are not legally on the roadway, and depending on the state you probably legally don't have all the rights you would if you were riding in the roadway. It's one of the decisions you make when riding.
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Old 04-14-11, 07:18 PM
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My home is in Kentucky, and the Kentucky Revised Statutes are almost completely silent about bicycle laws. KRS 189 has a chapter that confers the power to make rules concerning bicycle operation to the Transportation Cabinet, but their web site has nothing regarding bicycling rules. I do believe that Louisville, however, does have some bicycle ordinances.

However, currently I am working on temporary assignment in California. I have a bicycle that I purchased out here so that I could explore and get some exercise, and I read up on California's laws regarding bicycling.

Regarding bicycle lanes, California says this in their vehicle codes:

"
Permitted Movements from Bicycle Lanes. VC 21208
a) Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction shall ride in the bicycle lane, except under the following situations.
  1. When overtaking or passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if such overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.
  1. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  2. When necessary to leave the lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.
b) No operator of a bicycle shall leave a bicycle lane until it can be done safely and then only after giving an appropriate hand signal in the event that any vehicle might be affected by the movement."


As to riding on the shoulder, the vehicle codes say this:


Bicycles on Roadways VC 21650.1
A bicycle operated on a roadway or highway shoulder shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to drive upon the roadway."


In my experience, riding around the neighborhood where my apartment is located, there are some marked bike lanes, and I stay in them. There are also roads that have very wide marked shoulders (which I use as if they are a bicycle lane), and there are roads with very narrow marked shoulders. On those I use them if I think they are safe. (Oftentimes the narrow shoulders are obstructed by debris, or by bad pavement.)


Sometimes bicycle lanes may be present for a block or two, then disappear into a narrow shoulder, or sometimes into no shoulder at all. I simply try to hang as far to the right as I safely can.


However, California also says this:


"Bicycle Use. VC 21200
Every person riding a bicycle upon a street or highway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, including the provisions of law dealing with driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."


I read this as saying that riding on the shoulder of the road alongside a line of stopped cars is not legal. Nor smart, I would add.



The OP inferred that he automobile driver was automatically responsible for any costs to him, including his hospital treatment and any other expenses. I'm not so sure, but perhaps he had better look into Florida's laws on the matter.

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Old 04-15-11, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
I'm wondering about the legality of passing a line of stopped cars on the shoulder? If it were a marked bike lane, then I'm sure it's fine. But if it was just the shoulder of the road, especially if it's not lined off from the "traffic" lane, then the car driver may have a good argument for not bearing any liability. Why would he reasonably expect anyone to be "driving" on the shoulder that is not a traffic lane?
Yea, I've often wondered about the rights you've possibly relinquished when you choose to leave the legally defined lane of travel.

There was a local article recently about the city removing lanes of travel from one of the main roads through town. It's currently about 8 lanes with a median in the middle. They're restriping and basically leaving a lane's with of asphault on the right edge (between the travel lanes and the curb). The author was purporting that this was a benefit to cyclists. The city planner being interviewed didn't go that far. His statement was along the lines of "I don't think cyclists will really ride this road, but if they do, this could help".

The whole thing screamed danger to me. This is a very busy road, completely built up with an almost unlimited number of places for cars to turn right across this shoulder. Additionally, I strongly suspect that it will be utilized as a turn lane by many due to high traffic volumes. In my mind, this actually makes the road more unsafe, regardless of where a cyclist positions himself. Even if you're in the lane, now you have to worry about cars overtaking from behind if you need to cross the median to make a right hand turn yourself.
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Old 04-15-11, 12:21 AM
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That must've been scary -- glad you're okay. Only time I hit a car, I got "doored" back in the day when I was working one summer as a messenger in Washington, DC for a law firm. Was cutting down a side street not far from the White House, of all places, and a woman in a parked car flung her door open with her her foot. I swerved too late, lost my balance and got flipped head-over-heels over the door. Separated my shoulder and hit my head on a curb -- the EMTs said the helmet saved my life (it nearly cracked in half and I kept it for years until finally throwing it out). The lady in the car started to scream at me while I was lying on the ground by the way -- I was too dazed to say anything back. But she drove off before the cops got there and I never got reimbursed for the damage. Took me six months to get my bike fixed.

Be safe out there people.
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Old 04-15-11, 03:23 AM
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passing slow/stopped cars on the outside (here in NZ that's on the left) you need to be extra careful and prepared to stop.

IIUC, if there's a bike lane you'd be legally right - without a bike lane you'd be legally wrong - in either case it does NOT change motorist behavior or the physics involved. with or without a bike-lane it's a danger zone and if you choose to occupy it, take proper precautions.

if it becomes a legal matter, i would consider arguing that the shoulder is a de facto bike-lane.

helmet laws = bad
helmets = good

FWIW, i'm still recovering from a (non-cycling) concussion about 20 months ago. it cost me about 35 minutes of consciousness and for about a year i could barely get out of bed. i'm still not sure how it's possible that i survived... just happy that i'm back on a bike and starting to walk normally again. head injuries are no fun
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Old 04-15-11, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
In Michigan anyway, a turn signal, if used, means "I'm nearly done turning."
LOL!!


Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
... Clearly they have no friggin' clue WHY turn signals exist (to inform other road users of your intentions) - I have no idea what they think they're for.
What most of us aren't aware of is that the turn signal lever activates a hydraulic servo spliced into the power steering line... flick the lever and you activate a sort of hyper-steer. But only the smart people know about this... the same ones who quickly turn their steering wheel left for a split second and then cut it right to initiate a right hand turn into a driveway or onto a connecting road.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:31 AM
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This is not meant as a dis to you in anyway, but talk about helmet/no helmet reminds me of a quote from Joe Kurmaskie, 'The Metal Cowboy'(google it, funny author and long distance cyclist)in his book 'Momentum Is Your Friend':

"If you don't think your head is worth 30.00, then neither do I."
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Old 04-15-11, 07:32 AM
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yikes! glad you are OK; healing and in what seems good spirits. but dude, please wear a helmet. go find a cool one you like. seriously.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:59 AM
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Orlando, in particular, is weird about its bike lanes. The shoulder is painted as if it was a bike lane (this is apparent at right turn lanes), despite not being marked as such. It randomly begins to have bicycle lane painting closer to the university campus. This shoulder is commonly known to be used by cyclists for travel, and I have used it without incident for a long time.

I don't want to perpetuate a helmet vs. non-helmet argument here, but I will say that I am considering it more seriously at this point. It has never really been a matter of coolness for me; it's a matter of hassle, as well as the amount of additional heat that comes about from wearing a helmet in Florida weather.

In any case, legally speaking, whether or not the shoulder is a legal lane of travel is not an issue. The guy told the highway patrol officer that he saw me before he made his right turn and that he thinks I should have been the one to stop for him. Interestingly, the officer actually asked me (at the ER while taking my statement) why I was biking on the road instead of the sidewalk. When I replied (confused, no less) that I was legally allowed to, he kind of repeated the question as "yeah, but why?" He seemed a little confused himself.
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Old 04-15-11, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by RTDub View Post
I hope you heal quickly, but this entire paragraph contradicts itself. Accidents, by definition, cannot be entirely planned for. There are a whole lot of 'if's'. A helmet is designed to minimize the effects of an 'if'. Please do not base justification for helmet use on statistics. It only takes one accident to change a life. Sure, a helmet may or may not help based on stats alone, but you admit here it might have helped. Learn from that.

I'm not one to thump my cycling Bible and demand everyone wear helmets, but this sounds like precisely the type of event that might change one's mind.
I understand and agree, but my point is simply that I take every precaution when riding on the road to minimize my risk. I see it like using the pull out method while your partner is on birth control. Sure, it'll be maximally safe to use a condom, but the statistics are already way in your favor without it. Then again, there's no equivalent to adoption agencies or abortion clinics when it comes to severe head trauma.
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Old 04-15-11, 08:58 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by itsthewoo View Post
Orlando, in particular, is weird about its bike lanes. The shoulder is painted as if it was a bike lane (this is apparent at right turn lanes), despite not being marked as such. It randomly begins to have bicycle lane painting closer to the university campus. This shoulder is commonly known to be used by cyclists for travel, and I have used it without incident for a long time.

I don't want to perpetuate a helmet vs. non-helmet argument here, but I will say that I am considering it more seriously at this point. It has never really been a matter of coolness for me; it's a matter of hassle, as well as the amount of additional heat that comes about from wearing a helmet in Florida weather.

In any case, legally speaking, whether or not the shoulder is a legal lane of travel is not an issue. The guy told the highway patrol officer that he saw me before he made his right turn and that he thinks I should have been the one to stop for him. Interestingly, the officer actually asked me (at the ER while taking my statement) why I was biking on the road instead of the sidewalk. When I replied (confused, no less) that I was legally allowed to, he kind of repeated the question as "yeah, but why?" He seemed a little confused himself.
I googled around and found a web site from a Florida bicycle advocacy group that appears to summarize Florida laws on the matter. I admit, however, since it's not an actual government-maintained site, I have no way to be certain of the accuracy or timeliness of the information. However one part clearly stated that shoulders are not bicycle lanes, and consequently are not traffic lanes. I think, though, in your case, the driver hung himself legally when he admitted that he saw you before he turned, but turned anyway. There is commonly a "due regard" clause - just because you have the right of way doesn't give you the right to collide with something when you could otherwise avoid it.

Your comment about the way that bike lanes are sort of random and weird is exactly what I am seeing. You can be riding along in a clearly marked bike lane, which will narrow down to a lined-off shoulder, then get really narrow, then the line will disappear. You're really not sure where the bike lane starts and stops.

It appears, however, that the condition of the bike lane at any particular point has more to do with when that section of road was last "overhauled", and that eventually the major roads will all be designated bike routes with marked bike lanes.

Right turn lanes are always a hazard, as often the bike lane ends up being between the through lane and the turn lane, and the laws permit vehicles to encroach on or pass through the bike lane to make turns. Also, I find that roads without bike lanes but that have marked right turn-only lanes can be hazardous. I don't hug the curb in those cases, but move over to the right hand side of the through lane (or maybe the extreme left-hand side of the turn lane immediately adjacent to the through lane).
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Old 04-15-11, 09:42 AM
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no debate on helmet or no helmet in my house. sorry. second crushed helmet and safe noggin is enough cost benefit for me. have had two crashes and both times have ended in hospital. helmet did not fare so well. both times crushed. hmmm.... odds on crushing my head? no thanks. not a lottery ticket I want to buy. no question about it. that piece of foam and plastic saved my life every time. rather crush the helmet and be able to walk and talk with my kids than be saving a few bucks or not mussing my fancy hairdoo. it's that simple. man up... get a head bucket.
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