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View Full Version : I hit a little girl on the MVT



KLizotte
06-29-2011, 11:13 PM
But it wasn't my fault!

Tonight, on an evening leisure ride on the MVT, I was passing under a bridge and saw a father picking some stuff off the ground on the side of the trail while his little girl (approx 4 yrs old?) was standing on the grass on the other side. A bike and buggy were parked on the grass. I slowed down automatically because I'm paranoid of kids, dogs, etc. and continued forward.

Unfortunately the little girl decided to join her dad and darted out right in front of me at the last minute without looking. I hit the brakes and she ran right into my front wheel and kind of bounced off onto the asphalt. Fortunately she didn't get any cuts or scrapes and seemed more shaken up by the experience than hurt. I immediately offered my first-aid kit and the dad did a once over and said it wasn't necessary. The dad was great in that he remained calm and kept reassuring me it wasn't my fault since she ran out without looking. He even had the little girl wave good-bye to me and I'm confident that she didn't sustain anything but a few bumps and hopefully a good lesson learned. I was going about 9-10 MPH when I first saw them and hit the little girl doing about 5-6 MPH (I'd already hit the brakes hard when I saw her move) but it was still really, really scary to see a little body collide with one's bike irrespective of who is at fault. Even though I'm already a slow poke, I'm going to slow down even more when I see little ones since you never know what they are going to do if they aren't tethered to an adult's hand.

I say all this to *please* ask that everyone remain at *15 mph* or less on the multi-use trails when non-cyclists are present. Peds of any age/sort are too unpredictable and I've seen some very serious accidents occur between cyclists and peds. It never ceases to amaze me how many parents let their kids *play* on the MVT at Gravelly Point (yes, on the asphalt itself) and the number of Lance wannabes flying through there at 20+ mph.

brendan
06-29-2011, 11:36 PM
Yeah: if I see kids, dogs, etc., I slow waaaay down.

The worst fright I had was on the C&O canal one day. Two adults were standing on the water side with a big rolly case next to them (we were relatively close to a parking area). I dinged my bell. They turned and waved and right as I passed...a toddler darted out from behind the case, right across my path.

Slammed on the breaks and semi-screamed, but missed her entirely.

Had to pull over a bit further down to calm down.

Similar things have happened with tiny dogs, hidden behind a couple walking the other way - they always seem to want to go after the fast moving bike!

-b

acc
06-30-2011, 10:00 AM
What a great save! This could have been so much worse. Great thinking, anticipation, and you even had a first-aid kit. I'm lucky if I have a granola bar. Sorry this happened but at least the kid was lucky enough to run out in front of you and not someone else.

ann

OneEighth
06-30-2011, 10:03 AM
I think everyone should read this thread as context for the thread on drafting.
If I've got a tag-along, I'm much, much more conservative in my riding on busy sections of the trails.

baiskeli
06-30-2011, 02:46 PM
I always slow WAY down when there's a kid. They dart and weave.

Rootchopper
06-30-2011, 03:03 PM
I had a similar experience over 30 years ago on the Charles River bike trail in Cambridge MA. I was riding along at a stupidly fast speed when a toddler darted across the path in front of me. I hit the brakes hard, leaned to my right, and went straight over the handlebars. My feet were stuck in the pedals so my bike came right over on top of me. My chest hit the ground first. My lean fortunately was far enough to put me on the grass along side the trail. I slid on my chest right between two tree roots. I stopped with my face a couple of inches from the tree trunk. I missed the toddler entirely. Her oblivious mother didn't bother to ask if I was alright. Admittedly I was going too fast but she was letting her kid walk freely on a busy trail with no concern about her crossing the trail, let alone falling in the river. Many, many trail users simply don't know how dangerous these trails are so cyclists need to be extremely careful. I learned my lesson. BTW, a few years ago I saw a little boy walk in front of a cyclist on the trail down near Mount Vernon. He bounced off the front tire like a beach ball. He got up and walked over to his dad who watched it happen from a bench on the side of the trail.

Joe Chapline
06-30-2011, 05:01 PM
Good thread, thanks KLizotte. All: I'm moving this to General Discussion since it's not particularly about commuting. Please let me know if this makes it difficult to find. I wonder if we should have a section about crashes and near-misses.

PotomacCyclist
06-30-2011, 06:48 PM
I usually slow down to a crawl at Gravelly Point. Way too many children AND adults just wandering back and forth between the asphalt and grass. Glad to hear that the girl wasn't seriously hurt (I hope).

The MVT in general is not a great place for tempo and speed workouts. It's just too narrow, and many sections have blind curves. I ride more slowly on the MVT than on other routes.

adamx
06-30-2011, 08:03 PM
1. good thing little girl wasn't hurt and dad didn't explode.
2. good to take caution upon approach. in similar situations i take the next step and ring the bell - or audible - BIKE!!!
3. the multi use trails were not and never have been intended to be personal Time Trial Training grounds. they are point to point travel routes for a variety of users. Those of us and others who believe the are our personal training grounds are....uh...is idiots too strong?

KLizotte
06-30-2011, 11:33 PM
Rootchopper,

Wow, now that was one heck of a crash. Glad you survived (hopefully without too much damage) and no one else got hurt. I must admit I'm completely baffled by parents who bring their very small children out to walk/play on what is essentially an expressway for "vehicles" (of the slower variety of course).

Kathy

KLizotte
06-30-2011, 11:38 PM
1. good thing little girl wasn't hurt and dad didn't explode.
2. good to take caution upon approach. in similar situations i take the next step and ring the bell - or audible - BIKE!!!
3. the multi use trails were not and never have been intended to be personal Time Trial Training grounds. they are point to point travel routes for a variety of users. Those of us and others who believe the are our personal training grounds are....uh...is idiots too strong?

Yes. lots of tears from the little girl but the dad said he rode the trail a lot and seemed quite level-headed. I'm sure he felt really bad for not realizing ahead of time she might try to cross the trail on her own. I'm quite sure he won't make that mistake again and I hope that doesn't deter him from taking his kids out in the bike buggy again.

As far as ringing the bell, I make copious use of my bell and voice but a really small child simply won't understand what the signals mean.

I fully agree with you on your last point. Shame we can't have cycles-only trails though.

Kathy

Jen B.
07-08-2011, 12:35 PM
Children, dogs on or off leash, people on cell phones, and two or more people especially if they're deep in conversation. They all get The Bell multiple times and far enough in advance that I can check for a response. I once did this when I came up behind two guys walking on the left side of the Custis Trail. For some reason, this prompted one of them to leap into the right lane without looking. I was far enough back that this wasn't an issue for me, but unfortunately another rider, who apparently hadn't signaled, was right next to the leaper and they both went down. While technically the accident wasn't my fault, I've felt guilty about it ever since and it's given me one more potential hazard to keep an eye out for.

Usern Ame
07-08-2011, 12:40 PM
I don't get it. Why is it the attitude that bikers have to alert pedestrians to the fact that there are bikes on a bike trail? And that they are excused from stupid behavior that puts them and their offspring at risk. Obviosuly I am going to do everything I can to not hit a small child, but at the same time this shouldn't be an issue. How big of a moron parent do you have to be to bring a small child onto a bike trail and not explain to them the potential danger?

acc
07-08-2011, 12:47 PM
Once the child is on the trail it becomes my problem whether I want it or not. I will do everything I can not to hit a child. I know they are unpredictable and act accordingly. It doesn't bother me any more than having to work around my elderly neighbors with diminished vision and hearing but who still like to drive and/or walk along the street at night. We're all in this together. And once I get fed up I may start carrying a Super Soaker :-)

ann

Usern Ame
07-08-2011, 12:53 PM
Once the child is on the trail it becomes my problem whether I want it or not. I will do everything I can not to hit a child.
Yeah, I completely get this point. But there seems to be this attitude like parents have no responsibility whatsoever...guess what if a kid jumps in front of my bike, it's the parents fault for being a crappy parent. Ironically, its probably these same moron parents that made it mandatory that all kids have to wear a helmet when they ride a bike.

acc
07-08-2011, 01:00 PM
Rule #17 - If their kid gets hurt and you or your kid are nearby (that includes a radius determined by 3x Reasonable) then it's your fault. I like most kids, just not their parents. :-)

ann

Greenbelt
07-08-2011, 01:41 PM
Kids and dogs seem to understand bells very well. "On your left" not so much. Took me a while to learn this.

Tim Kelley
07-08-2011, 01:43 PM
Kids and dogs seem to understand bells very well.

Tourists, on the other hand.... :-)

baiskeli
07-08-2011, 01:48 PM
Tourists, on the other hand.... :-)

Tourists think "bicycle passing on your left" means jump in panic...to their left.

brendan
07-08-2011, 05:47 PM
Kids and dogs seem to understand bells very well. "On your left" not so much. Took me a while to learn this.

Right, which is why I do an "early bell or two or three" and then a "mid to late: on the left" approach.

Brendan