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My bike was hit by a car with me on it

crash

First things first. I am fine, my bike is fine and luckily I didn’t have my kids on the bike.

After more than six years of daily bike commuting, I was hit by a car. Or more accurately, my bike was hit by a car with me on it.

Yesterday morning I was riding my box bike to work and was less than a quarter mile from where I park my bike when I was struck by a young woman on the University of Arizona campus.

I had made a right turn onto Park Avenue heading north from Second Street and was riding in the middle of the lane preparing to make a left turn onto First Street. A car was heading south on Park Avenue so I slowed to let it go past, signaled that I was making a left turn and began to make the turn.

As I started the turn I saw a vehicle sitting at the stop sign on First Street. She wanted to make a left turn on to Park Avenue. She started to make the left onto Park Avenue while I was making the left onto First Street from Park Avenue.

I hit the brakes hard and started screaming, she looked at me in the eyes and then proceeded to accelerate. She hit the box of the bike and accelerated enough to push the bike 90 degrees in the opposite direction and forced me to sort of hop and jump to avoid being knocked to the ground.

She stopped her car and got out. The first thing she said?

You guessed it. “I didn’t see you.” Of course my bike is almost as big as a car, is painted safety orange and has a bright front light and she and I made eye contact.

She asked if I was OK and fortunately I was. Even more fortunately I did not have the kids in the bike. I was however in shock. I checked the bike and it seemed fine. I was fine so I eventually pedaled away. I regret not taking her information in case I found out later that I had actually been hurt or that the bike was actually damaged.

More importantly though, I realized how lucky I was that it wasn’t more serious and it was a reminder of how important it is to be vigilant on the road. Had I not been paying attention and hadn’t been able to stop enough to have her hit my box, it would have been worse.

As for the commute home with kids, we made it safe and sound.

24 comments
EdBeighe
EdBeighe

"When I drive, I don't just coast toward an intersection and pull out if I don't see anybody".

ya, this is very much a "crime of opportunity", when there's (apparently) good sightlines drivers (and bicyclists) don't stop, here's my latest exhibit -- over 90% non-compliance rate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjEjwAuaimw

DanielStolte
DanielStolte

In my own experience as a cyclist and a driver, I can honestly say that I'm probably being way, way more vigilant a driver than most. But I do recall instances where bicyclists were in my blind spot, especially when approaching at a 90-degree angle. There is a "dynamic blindspot" if you want to call it that, that appears when a cyclist and a motorist are approaching an intersection at a 90-degree angle at a certain position relative to each other and a certain speed. Effectively, the cyclist stays hidden behind the left windshield frame the whole time until they pass the front of the vehicle. I try to be extremely aware of that. When I drive, I don't just coast toward an intersection and pull out if I don't see anybody. It really is necessary to come to a full stop, remain there and look for a few seconds to reveal a potential cyclist in the blind spot. When I ride, I wait until the driver and I make eye contact. The disturbing part that I am learning in this thread is that even that doesn't appear to be a fool-proof method as idiot drivers seem to pull out right in front of cyclists they have clearly seen. 

DanielStolte
DanielStolte

I think this might be it for me. Reading this combined with the shocking news of a friend and fellow bike commuter being killed by a car sometime in the last two days (still awaiting details), I feel I can no longer justify taking the risk of riding my bike in this environment. I made a conscious decision not to take up cave diving as a hobby (I tried it!), and it makes no sense whatsoever to eschew cave diving but continue to accept the - vastly higher - risk of bicycling in Tucson. 

EdBeighe
EdBeighe

@DanielStolte It seems that most people are poor judges of risk, and in particular relative risk. You may have missed it, but in the phoenix-metro area there were a rash of highway (as in limited access highway) head-on collisions w/fatalities about a year ago.... There has been a steady drumbeat of how this issue needs to be the top priority for ADOT to fix, e.g. today was an AZ Republic editorial saying so. The trouble is this is far far far from some sort of leading cause of traffic deaths. It amounts to a handful per year -- out of the 8 to 900 fatalities per year in AZ. 


We can haggle over exposure rates but I don't see any basis for thinking the ~ 25 bicyclist fatalities per year in AZ (out of the eight to 900 traffic deaths per year) represents a "vastly" higher risk.


chubasco
chubasco

Last I got nailed was at 1pm in the afternoon heading north on Dodge. Broad daylight, and I had my lights on. She was turning left and was waiting the whole time I was riding up the street, then jammed the gas right when I was about to pass her cross street. I managed to hit the brakes hard enough to T-bone her instead of the other way around. Nice hood-slide if I recall, so I came up cussing at the top of my lungs right next to her driver side window. The officer who sited her very pointedly showed me her Minnesota address on the accident report. Lovely day.


Also my dad got t-boned around noon on an empty state highway (just outside of Aguilla, AZ-73 I think it was for you map-heads). In a bright *Red* jeep with a *King* size mattress tied to the roof. "She didn't see him either..."


Desert

silverpedals
silverpedals

So glad you're not hurt. I think it's important to call the cops in situations like this, even if you are trying to be nice and not make a big deal out of it. Motorists get off scot free anyway when they kill or injure cyclists and pedestrians, so don't worry about their feelings.

PK
PK

Glad that you're okay.

bkr
bkr

I have noticed a tendancy in myself to assure everyone I'm okay (even if I'm not) and try to resume riding.  One time I had an accident on my bike and fractured my hip.  I thought if I "rested for a couple of minutes" I could ride home?  I assured 4 people riding past me that I was fine, it wasn't until I did try to stand up and passed ot that I finally realized I needed help.  Lesson learned.  Now if I see anyone who seems shaken from a bump or crash, I stop to double check.  Our flight response is strong, but it is best to get it reported. So glad your kids weren't on the bike with you this time?

Laura
Laura

I get around Tucson solely via Xtracycle.  Got an "Orp" bike horn recently and it has already proven a huge safety bonus in grabbing drivers' attention when I doubt whether I've been seen.  It makes two sounds, one friendlier (70+ db) and one an intense blast (90+db).  Check 'em out at orpland.com.


Re. "in the eyes" -- My dad, an orthopedic surgeon, told me he'd patched up dozens of motorcycle and bicycle riders who said, "The driver looked at me right in the eye, but then...."  So I never consider it established that a driver has seen me unless s/he waves or nods in response to my wave or shout or horn.  (Pre-Orp, I often bellowed "hey" or "hello" followed by a jaunty friendly wave.)

DanielStolte
DanielStolte

@Laura Never heard of the Orp, but looked it up thanks to your post. So far, I've relied on an Airzound bike horn, which is powered by compressed air and deafeningly loud. As such, it is more suited for complaints after the fact than polite warnings. Do you find the Orp to be loud enough, though? Does it catch the attention of drivers with their windows up listening to music? 

JB
JB

Never ever leave the scene when you have been hit without calling the police. Even if you think you are not hurt or your bicycle is damaged.

Jordan Oldham Bike2Death
Jordan Oldham Bike2Death

I feel your frustration, ESPECIALLY on the campus.  Just the other day I was riding with my family from 4th avenue and decided that going down University on a Sunday afternoon would be a nice safe ride EXCEPT for the student in his bright red Corvette who (not looking) almost pulled out hitting my seven year old son who was riding between my wife in the rear and me leading the way.  After he foolishly parked less than half a block away in front of me, I took out my camera phone and started taking pictures of him and his car and license and made sure he saw me do it.  Seconds later, I notice the Corvette behind me and he stops to confront me about taking the pictures.  I told him very angrily that I knew EXACTLY who he was (he's a well known athlete on the U of A Football team) and told him that as soon as I got home that the photos of his car and license will be emailed to the Campus police department and the Athletics department so that he can be dealt with accordingly within the University code of conduct...guess who sped off to hide like a little baby.  like you, I bike EVERYWHERE and I have ZERO sympathy for oblivious drivers.  I'm sorry to hear that you had to deal with such an experience.


- Bike2Death

Jeff
Jeff

A few years ago I was sitting at an intersection in the straight lane waiting for the light to turn green.  A car in the left turn lane decided to turn right when she got the, put on her right blinker and pow right into me.  Her first words?  The universal excuse of the incompetent driver.  "I didn't see you!"  Oh by the way, I wasn't on my bicycle.  I was in a bright blue White Freightliner semi truck.  If people are so blind that they can't see other people then they don't belong on the road.

tucsonlabs
tucsonlabs

@BicycleTucson Glad you're ok! Hard to think while in shock, but aside from your benefit it's helpful to call the police so its documented.

tucsonlabs
tucsonlabs

@BicycleTucson I t-boned a car that ran a light one time and went over the hood. Felt pretty dumb afterword for not calling the cops.

Red Star
Red Star

At least the motorist stopped post-collision. That lends some authenticity to her claim that she didn't see the cyclist??? (though it doesn't get her off the hook for carelessness).


Of course, had this reporting appeared in the Arizona Daily Star there would be some attention paid to whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet.

EdBeighe
EdBeighe

Michael, glad to hear you are ok!

i hope you made a report. it fyou didn't it didn't happen

arsolot
arsolot

Awful!


Do you think that you were momentarily screened from her view while the car going south went past you?  That's about all I can see that would give any credence to her claim of not seeing you.  


She's got a stop sign and clearly was at fault. 


I don't think you did anything wrong. That's good, but it's also scary since I wonder if there's ANYTHING you could have done differently to prevent this from occurring, regardless of fault.


Glad you're OK.  

NathanSaxton
NathanSaxton

That's terrible! I'm glad you are ok. Happened to me twice in one day last week. Like you, the only reason I rode away from them both, was that I saw the car and knew what was about to happen. In both cases I was just going straight down Broadway, not even trying to turn. Stay alert, cyclists, because the drivers sure as hell aren't. (Yes I know, there are terrible cyclists out there, too)