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Have you had collisions with cars? What did you learn from them?

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Have you had collisions with cars? What did you learn from them?

Old 12-13-13, 08:12 AM
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Walter S
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Have you had collisions with cars? What did you learn from them?

Regardless of who is "at fault" there's hopefully something to learn from most car collisions regarding how to avoid similar incidents. We as cyclists could stand to share personal experiences and teach others.

What kinds of accidents have you had that actually involved a collision?

I've had three in my adult life (one just last night). For the first and third, I walk away with a lesson. For the 2nd, I just hope it never happens again.

1) Age 18: I was going downhill on a busy street. A car was stopped at a driveway entrance on my right, waiting to enter the road. I made eye contact with the woman driving. I was sure she saw me. But shortly before passing by her, she pulled out in the road anyway. I broad sided her. Luckily my body was launched over the hood of her car and I tumbled onto the sidewalk mostly unhurt. My front rim was severely bent though and I had to get a ride home. I can't remember if I got her involved in my cycle repairs. I kind of doubt it.

What I learned: I don't think she was malicious at all. Many drivers are unprepared for how fast a bicycle may be going, particularly when going down a steep hill. They misjudge the speed and think they have room to dart on into the road and out of your way, and they're just wrong. You have to watch for cars trying to enter the road, and slow down to a speed where you can be prepared to stop, swerve, etc. to avoid a collision should they move on you.

2) Age 37: Going down a steep incline on my way to work. A van passed by me too close. He clipped my elbow/mirror and the slight movement of the handlebars laid me over against the van. As if by miracle, I was able to put out my arm and lean against the van to put the bike right again. I was unscathed. Just scared to death.

What I learned: I'm not sure. My riding style in those days may have contributed to the accident because I tended to not "purchase" a good portion of the lane when passing is unsafe - something I now routinely do. I do think accidents with cars that overtake or hit you from behind are the most difficult to prevent though. Thankfully they're probably among the less common accidents. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

3) Age 53 (last night): Coming home from work and riding up the sidewalk I passed in front of an SUV that was stopped in their driveway. As I approached for 20 seconds or so she remained stopped. Then as I passed in front of the SUV, the woman hit the gas and hit me from the side. She barely hit me, since she was just leaving a dead stop. But it was enough to make me crash the bike and sent my body tumbling into the road where I was thankfully not hit by the rush hour traffic.

What I learned: Stay off the sidewalk? No. There are a few places on my commute where it is clearly safer to ride on the sidewalk. But I should not have approached and passed in front of her at speed. Since she gave me no buffer to speak of to pass in front of her, I had no time to react to her sudden movement. That was my mistake. She did a poor job of checking for clearance, but I should not depend on people to do that or I'll regret it.

Other collision stories out there?
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Old 12-13-13, 09:44 AM
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At the risk of starting an argument, really, if you're going to be on the sidewalk, walk your bike. Cars don't expect you to be there. The driver in your most recent accident obviously didn't. I'm really glad you weren't hurt; being hit and thrown into potential traffic is my biggest winter commuting fear.

And on topic, the things I've learned from being hit are that drivers sometimes don't see me. I try to be as visible as I can, but my main strategy to avoid being hit again is to route my commute by bike trail as much as I can, even if it adds some miles.
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Old 12-13-13, 09:51 AM
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No, the two times I have crashed while commuting were the result of stupid bike riders I had to swerve to avoid hitting.
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Old 12-13-13, 09:53 AM
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In 1980 I rear ended a parked Volvo.

Don't drink and ride. I haven't since.

Last year I nearly had a collision with a salmon as I was turning right on a red light from marked bike lane to marked bike lane.

Don't run right-turn reds at high speed without sufficient visibility to check for salmon and other hazards.

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Old 12-13-13, 10:04 AM
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I've only had one collision, but several close calls.

My collision was similar to your #3 , except I was on the road and she was at a stop sign waiting to enter the road. Visibility was poor, I was riding in the shoulder.

I almost fell into moving traffic once when riding in the snow. I didn't have the right equipment, but thought I'd be okay. I've since decided that riding in the snow isn't worth the risk (or expense of studded tires).

I've had three left hooks that I was able to avoid. Same spot for all three of them: me coming down a hill at 25-30mph, car turns across my path. I locked up both wheels on one of them; I don't think the driver ever saw me until I was yelling into his window. The other two I was able to anticipate, so I had slowed prior to them turning. I've learned to not go into a tuck coming down that hill and to ride farther into the lane. The tuck makes me very small, and covers my hi-viz vest. Drivers also don't expect a cyclist to be traveling at that speed. I haven't had an incident since, but I do miss the added speed.

@CommuteCommando - I rear-ended a parked car when I was a kid. Too busy daydreaming.
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Old 12-13-13, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by debit View Post
At the risk of starting an argument, really, if you're going to be on the sidewalk, walk your bike. Cars don't expect you to be there. The driver in your most recent accident obviously didn't. I'm really glad you weren't hurt; being hit and thrown into potential traffic is my biggest winter commuting fear.

And on topic, the things I've learned from being hit are that drivers sometimes don't see me. I try to be as visible as I can, but my main strategy to avoid being hit again is to route my commute by bike trail as much as I can, even if it adds some miles.
Like I said, I should have gone slower. I don't think getting off the bicycle and walking is called for though. This whole topic was debated on this forum to excess recently.
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Old 12-13-13, 10:45 AM
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I was hit by a car when I was 15, resulting in a very badly smashed up leg with a compound fracture. In the 27 years since, I've only had one other collision with a car, when the jerk wad driver pulled in front of me and slammed on the brakes, but aside from a taco'd front wheel, I emerged unscathed.

My takeaways from those incidents:

1. don't do dumb sh*t
2. ride predictably
3. anticipate driver moves; what's ahead on the road and in time?
4. move decisively when in traffic; don't waffle
5. plan ahead (see #3 )
6. plan 'escape routes' in potentially risky scenarios
7. take the lane when necessary
8. stay out of blind spots
9. be aware of everything, and communicate awareness and intentions clearly to traffic (see #4 ), using hand signals, body language, speed.
10. keep your bike in top tune
11. build your skills; know what your bike can do and how to handle it.
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Old 12-13-13, 12:08 PM
  #8  
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No cycling collisions with anything in my life - car, bike, person. One big high-speed solo wreck that left me bloody and destroyed the bike. A random slide and topple now and again, maybe once every couple of years. I'm 50 y/o and ride to work every day and on most weekends too.

Sometimes you'll meet a cyclist who has frequent accidents. I don't really get that. You shouldn't have a bicycle collision any more often than you crash your car. I've had two minor fender benders (one with actual bending, one without) and two solo spins (one with minor bending, one without) in my whole life.

There is good and bad luck, but with alertness and defensive riding we can make most of - not all of - our own luck.

When I learned to ride a motorcycle, I remember my motorcycle safety instructor was in his fifities, had been riding his whole adult life, and had never dropped his bike. He was really skilled, went around the cone course 2X as fast as anyone else with his footpegs kissing the pavement for the entire turn, and he focused his skill and concentration on the art of safe riding.

I think, by the way, that for a cyclist, taking a formal safety class is a really good idea. If there isn't a bicycle class near your, a motorcycle safety course is a reasonable substitute. Many of the threats we face on pedals are the same as what motorcyclists face, but most motorcyclists have taken at least the basic MSF course plus the DMV written/riding test, while almost no communting cyclist has any safety training at all.

(This is just road riding. I'm leaving out mountain biking accidents/falls, which I think of as more routine.)

Last edited by jyl; 12-13-13 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 12-13-13, 12:30 PM
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I've been hit twice by cars. 1st time, a driver turned left in front of me and I flew over the hood. Got really lucky. The second time, hit from behind, hit and run. Both situations taught me that cars are hard and it hurts when they hit you. I am now crazy about claiming the lane and have moved to a more rural area where there is more respect for bicyclists.

The first incident was fairly unpreventable, as it happened so fast and the driver did not signal at all. Now when riding a bicycle or motorcycle, I expect everyone to turn left in front of me. The second accident could have been prevented if I had just claimed the lane aggressively.
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Old 12-13-13, 12:36 PM
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I was sideswiped by a school bus....I was riding down a gentle slope and the bus barreled down the hill behind me. My left grip skidded and thudded down the side of the bus and the lugs of the rear wheel were sucking at my left foot. I bunnyhopped up on the curb and the bus driver opened her door to yell at me for some reason. I was so pissed that I shot her the bird before I realized that it was a bus full of second-graders, who were all glued to the windows watching the crazy bike guy flipping them off.

That's probably the closest I've ever come to losing my bowels. I was shaking like a leaf when I got home.
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Old 12-13-13, 12:46 PM
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Twice.

First time I was barrelling down a long steep hill pounding the pedals as fast as I could, and a car driver (in a UK car) drove all the way out on the bike path from a side street and car blocked me. I went into his left front fender, across the hood and was able to roll when I landed, I came to a stand still by running a few meters after the roll. The driver was still in his car (he was seated at the right) and looked absolutely shocked. I went back to the left side of the car, picked up my bike, checked to see if the fork was bent (it wasn't - it was a beefy Cannondale one I used for trials), but there was a big dent in the car where the headset/stem had hit, and my rifled barends had dented and scoured the fender fantastically. I was able to muster a shaking of the head and a stern look, whereafter I left the scene.

Second time it was all my fault. I had some trouble with a chanring and because I was in a hurry, I decided it wasn't worth stopping, so I merely slowed down a bit. Then suddenly: BANG! And the side of my face was flat against the back of (a parked) taxi station wagon. Nothing really happened to his car, and he came out asking if I was okay. I was more embarrassed than anything. This last one was about ten years ago.

Last edited by SmallFront; 12-13-13 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 12-13-13, 02:10 PM
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Almost got hit a few weeks ago coming home from school. I was about 100 yards from my house and had just taken my helmet off. I was turning the last corner and a teen(c)ager was turning the same corner from the other direction. He/she was on the left side of the street and I was on the right side. Because we turned at the same time, we both reacted and swerved right. Because I turned at a sharp angle, the front wheel went perpendicular to the rear wheel and locked up. I fell over and hit my head on the asphalt. The driver sped off immediately and I limped home. Bent my front wheel a few mm's in one spot and destroyed my handlebars.

What I learned: always assume everyone else is an idiot.
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Old 12-13-13, 02:23 PM
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No collisions here.

A solo wipeout once due to an unsealed concrete joint grabbing my wheel. Minor road rash and that's it.

Ride defensively, ride safe!
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Old 12-13-13, 02:32 PM
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I was on a main road and it has a left only lane turning into a side road.

It was raining hard when I joined it and I was so focused on the cars behind me when I wanted to change from that lane into the middle one that I forgot the one in front might slow down.

When I paid attention to it I was too close and of course with it being very wet, my brakes didnt work int time and my front tyre hit the back of her car.

We pulled into a side road but luckily I hadnt caused her car any damage and she left happy after checking that I was ok.

I was apart from some bruising but am sure my bike frame was affected.

It hasnt really been right since.

Lesson : check all round on wet roads, both back and front and if possible avoid that part of the road altogether and join it after the left lane


Also remember braking distances!
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Old 12-13-13, 02:51 PM
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I've had one collision at a place where the bike path crosses the road. I was coming from the right. It was rush hour traffic and all the cars were bunched up at a red light in the right lane to where I barely was able to get between them after making sure they saw me. The only problem was that the left lane didn't have any stopped cars in it and I couldn't see around the stopped vehicles in the right lane to make sure I was clear for crossing. But, being the ammature I was, I started to cross and as soon as I was able to see oncoming traffic in the left lane, it was too late. I got hammered by a pickup truck. I was able to leave that accident scene with no damage to me or my bike which at the time was a Raleigh Technium 440. Other trail users did inform me that the driver had a red light at the time and ran through it and that it was his fault. The driver was very sorry and because I was only off the information of the other trail users and no damage was done, I didn't get any license numbers or anything.

What I learned is to always make sure yo have a clear vision of all traffic before crossing a road even if you have the right-of-way.
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Old 12-13-13, 03:44 PM
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30 years ago, age 15, I rear-ended a parked car on a city street. Landed on my back on the car's trunk. Lesson learned- pay attention to what is in front of me and not to the pretty girl on the sidewalk across the street.
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Old 12-13-13, 04:23 PM
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30 years ago when I was 18 on my way home from work a driver blew a stop sign.
I was run over and dragged through the intersection.I was given a 50 percent chance
of walking again, dont even have a limp. Although , bad arthritis in left ankle now.
What did I learn ? Even though I had the right of way, larger , heavier object always wins.
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Old 12-13-13, 04:25 PM
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Just realized dec. 17 is the 30th anniversary
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Old 12-14-13, 03:05 AM
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Walter S
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Originally Posted by Greg M View Post
30 years ago when I was 18 on my way home from work a driver blew a stop sign.
I was run over and dragged through the intersection.I was given a 50 percent chance
of walking again, dont even have a limp. Although , bad arthritis in left ankle now.
What did I learn ? Even though I had the right of way, larger , heavier object always wins.
Wow. That was rough. Very good to hear you recovered pretty well!
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Old 12-14-13, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I was hit by a car when I was 15, resulting in a very badly smashed up leg with a compound fracture. In the 27 years since, I've only had one other collision with a car, when the jerk wad driver pulled in front of me and slammed on the brakes, but aside from a taco'd front wheel, I emerged unscathed.

My takeaways from those incidents:

1. don't do dumb sh*t
2. ride predictably
3. anticipate driver moves; what's ahead on the road and in time?
4. move decisively when in traffic; don't waffle
5. plan ahead (see #3 )
6. plan 'escape routes' in potentially risky scenarios
7. take the lane when necessary
8. stay out of blind spots
9. be aware of everything, and communicate awareness and intentions clearly to traffic (see #4 ), using hand signals, body language, speed.
10. keep your bike in top tune
11. build your skills; know what your bike can do and how to handle it.
Those are a great set of lessons to practice.
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Old 12-14-13, 04:09 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
Regardless of who is "at fault" there's hopefully something to learn from most car collisions regarding how to avoid similar incidents. We as cyclists could stand to share personal experiences and teach others.

What kinds of accidents have you had that actually involved a collision?

I've had three in my adult life (one just last night). For the first and third, I walk away with a lesson. For the 2nd, I just hope it never happens again.

1) Age 18:
Should have swerved before having approached, to make yourself easier to spot and have your speed judged.


Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
3) Age 53 (last night):
I had similar thing happen on the road - crossing from a separated cycle lane. I was going really slow, walking speed, a car was turning right across my path, but I had the right of way. I saw the car stop, my light was green, so I started crossing slowly. As I moved across the front of the car, he floored the throttle accelerating rapidly, swerved to the left and hit the rear of my bike. Had I been moving more quickly, I would have avoided him. In spite of me going slow, he never saw me - he was talking to his kids at the back, then moved to grab the left lane. I couldn't see past his window, because of the sun, so didn't realise he hadn't stopped because of me.

So going slow is not always safer. My rule is to make sure I'm seen, if not, I make room (time and space) to avoid.


Last incident I had was a driver swerving deliberately to push me sideways off the road. I just avoided being hit. Luckily for me, he went off, so I had the time to calm down and not attack him.
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Old 12-14-13, 06:58 AM
  #22  
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I had a crash about a year ago. The driver just wasn't paying attention. It was in a construction zone, which may have contributed to the outcome. Avoid construction zones if possible.

One thing I learned after the crash on the forums really made sense: Even if you don't think you're injured, get the driver's information. I had a rush of adrenaline going on and felt fine when the accident happened. About a day later I felt worse. Luckily for me, there were no real injuries, just a little more pain than anticipated.

Also, I did a quick check of my bike and I thought it was fine. However, later I noticed that my rear wheel was bent. Again, not a huge deal, but what if I took a closer look later on and my frame was cracked or something? Get the driver's information. If you're like me, you won't be thinking clearly after you pick yourself up off the ground.
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Old 12-14-13, 07:44 AM
  #23  
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I've had three...one serious. What I learned is that you can do everything right and it's not enough...people make mistakes.
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Old 12-14-13, 08:38 AM
  #24  
Walter S
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I've had three...one serious. What I learned is that you can do everything right and it's not enough...people make mistakes.
But wouldn't you agree that you can substantially protect yourself by paying close attention and practicing safe riding habbits? If you ride a bicycle you'd better not resign yourself to thinking accidents are inevitable and you might as well not try.
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Old 12-14-13, 09:22 AM
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One should think of it as "minimising risk". It is not a guarantee, but less risk is usually better.
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