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View Full Version : The force of a 32 oz. bottle of sports drink falling 10 stories?



PotomacCyclist
06-26-2011, 05:22 PM
Well, I almost found that out last night. I was riding a CaBi bike on Crystal Drive, in the southern end. (Some call it Potomac Yards-Arlington.) As I passed by the Concord apartment building, I heard a loud sound behind me. I turned and saw a sports drink bottle bouncing around on the road. Judging from how loud it hit the road, the fact that there were no walls nearby from which it could have fallen, and the fact that I was not carrying any bottles, I can only assume that someone threw it from one of the balconies of the Concord building in an attempt to hit me.

So I am wondering what the force calculation is of a 32 oz. bottle, about 80% full, falling from an estimated height of 10 stories, then smacking me on the head? Whatever the precise number, I assume that the potential for injury would be very high. The bottle landed about 10 feet behind me. I was on the slow CaBi bike, not racing anywhere. I was probably riding at about 8-10 mph.

After I figured out what probably happened, I looked up at the balconies. I couldn't see any lights on or any parties going on. People wouldn't be carrying around sports drink/Gatorade during a party anyway. Some coward was trying to play target practice from 10 (11, 12?) stories up. If it had hit my head, it's safe to say that I could have suffered a concussion. Maybe even a sprained or broken neck.

I saw a security guard out in front of the government building across the street. I rode back to him and told him what had happened, just for information purposes. I looked up at the balconies again to see if the thug peeked out again. Not seeing anything and having no idea of which floor, I continued north on Crystal Drive. I passed by another cyclist who was heading south. I shouted out that someone had just tried to hit me with a bottle from one of the balconies. He asked which building. When I told him it was the Concord, he said he lived there. He was upset and went ahead to talk to someone in the building. I doubt they would be able to track the thug down, but at least they are on notice.

I wrote a message to the Concord through their website, explaining what had happened. I also reported the incident to the non-emergency unit of the Arlington police. I didn't expect them to do much since I had no description of the thug or the floor. But I thought it would be good for the police to have a record of the incident because I think it's likely that this person will strike again. It's pretty brazen to do something like that. I don't think it was an accident either, based on how far away the bottle landed from the building, and how close it came to hitting me as I was riding.

I'm posting here so that others are aware of a potential indirect attacker at the Concord building. Maybe the person is a resident. Maybe the person was a guest. I have no idea. I only know that the person tried to nail me in the head from 10 stories or more. People with this disregard for others tend not to limit themselves to just one incident.

Jsnyd
06-26-2011, 05:51 PM
I would say that a 32oz bottle from 10 stories would possibly kill you if it hit you in the head. You going 8-10mph, though you weren't going directly towards it, still adds more force. The bottle probably nearing top speed from the pull of gravity depending if the coward threw it, or just let it drop. Which would have to be around 50mph. I think the only reason it wouldn’t kill you would be due to where exactly it hit you and how flexible the bottle is. Imagine someone (who has played a few years of baseball) throwing it at the back of your head as hard as they could from 5 feet away. That’s about how hard it would hit you. You would certainly be knocked out, with a concussion and maybe bleeding around your brain.

CCrew
06-27-2011, 02:15 AM
10 stories up it'd probably hit terminal velocity, which give or take a bit is 120mph. So Jsnyd's pretty much spot on for potential damage. regardless, it would certainly screw up your day. Sounds to me like you followed it up well.

KLizotte
06-29-2011, 10:09 PM
Thanks so much for the head's up (no pun intended) about the incident. I live in Pentagon City and will certainly keep an eye when I'm passing through there now.

I had a very similar incident happen to me when I was a high schooler attending an outdoor political rally in Boston. A full wine bottle bottle was dropped from a high up balcony off of an apartment building onto the sidewalk right in front of me. Glass (and wine) went everywhere. Fortunately I had fairly heavy clothes on and was spared from injury from the glass shards (though I was picking them out of my coat for weeks). It freaked me out so much that I refused to attend any more rallies for years. I don't think it was an accident since it was way too cold to be sitting outside on a balcony for the fun of it.

creadinger
06-30-2011, 11:15 AM
Damn... my wife and I live right near there on 23rd Street. We ride in that area to get groceries and she's been out on that empty road a few times practicing with her new clipless pedals.

We'll definitely keep our eyes and ears open.

RESTONTODC
06-30-2011, 01:22 PM
Now, Do I have to look up while riding my bike? I really need more than 2 eyes. :)

Life is tough sometimes.

RESTONTODC
06-30-2011, 01:41 PM
Alright, I'm making up a list of threats. Here are some of them.

Water bottle from high rise
Sink hole on Custis trail
Passing without calling
Cyclist drafting from behind (this doesn’t bother me unless it's dark.
4 year old kid runs out of nowhere

more?

brendan
06-30-2011, 01:49 PM
Alright, I'm making up a list of threats. Here are some of them.

Water bottle from high rise
Sink hole on Custis trail
Passing without calling
Cyclist drafting from behind (this doesn’t bother me unless it's dark.
4 year old kid runs out of nowhere

more?

Gnats.

Brendan

PotomacCyclist
06-30-2011, 03:13 PM
Alright, I'm making up a list of threats. Here are some of them.

Water bottle from high rise
Sink hole on Custis trail
Passing without calling
Cyclist drafting from behind (this doesn’t bother me unless it's dark.
4 year old kid runs out of nowhere

more?
Meteors, volcanoes and killer tornadoes.

I've ridden past the Concord many times and never had problems before. I'll continue to ride there. But I'll definitely look up before passing the building from now on.

Hopefully any negative publicity from this incident will help to deter that individual or copycats. If they throw bottles frequently, they'll get caught sooner or later. I'm hoping sooner, and before anyone gets injured.

GreyBear
06-30-2011, 04:14 PM
Alright, I'm making up a list of threats. Here are some of them.

Water bottle from high rise
Sink hole on Custis trail
Passing without calling
Cyclist drafting from behind (this doesn’t bother me unless it's dark.
4 year old kid runs out of nowhere

more?

Several years ago, I was biking across Roosevelt Bridge, where there is a very narrow bike/ped section, I was almost on the Virgina side, when suddenly, a runner climbs over the side of the bridge (from the water side) and jumps onto the bike/ped section, nearly colliding with me. I was just shocked. I have no idea where he came from or how he managed to be on the outside of the bridge. I just rode as fast I could to get away from him.

KLizotte
06-30-2011, 11:58 PM
Gnats.

Brendan

I'm all in favor of pressuring government officials to start breeding and releasing copious amounts of bats in our area to eat all of the gnats. I understand bats eat mosquitoes too so we can get a 2-for-1 deal.

Of course the bat idea would have to be abandoned if they eat fireflies. You simply gotta love a bug that comes with its own blinky ;)