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Thread: 26 Years of Biking without Any Major Incidents Until This Week

  1. #1
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    Default 26 Years of Biking without Any Major Incidents Until This Week

    I've been biking since I was 7, and other than getting clipped on my left elbow by the side-view mirror of a passing car on Beauregard St about 2 years ago that involved no pain just annoyance, I had been pretty collision-free. Until Tuesday, that is.

    I was biking to get home (Tukwila) from work (downtown Seattle) in the Capitol Hill neighborhood during the evening rush hour. I was riding southbound on 12th Ave approaching the intersection with Alder St here: https://goo.gl/maps/JvqaNqTqs5G2

    The road was pretty congested due to it being rush hour, and I was effortlessly passing by many cars while I was in the bike lane. As I approached the intersection (remember, I was going southbound), a Helpy McHelperson going southbound decided to wave a northbound driver through so they could make a left turn onto Alder St.

    The driver turned but did not see me, and before I knew it, a car was suddenly in front of me. I tried to brake but still hit the car, my front wheel impacting its rear right tire, sending my handlebars forward into the side of the car, bouncing me off the side of the car and onto the pavement, landing on my right side leg, then elbow, and eventually my neck tilting to the right so my helmet hit the ground.

    Oof. I'm lying on the pavement. I've just been in a crash.

    ...how bad is the damage? Am I hurt?

    I sit up, I can feel my right leg is sore, and my elbow has some scrapes. The driver has pulled out of the intersection to the side and has gotten out. I stand up to better assess the situation. The front wheel of my bicycle is bent, but I don't see any other damage. There is no debris (broken glass, bicycle pieces, etc.) on the ground.

    The driver says, "Oh my gosh, are you okay? I'm so, so sorry!" I answer that I'm generally okay and my leg hurts, but I can still walk. He tells me that he made the turn after seeing the driver waving him through but did not see me in the bike lane. The situation of being in a crash is surreal to me, and I'm still getting a grasp at what happened. I decide to pick my bike up to get it out of the way, and I tell him I'm going to call the police to have them make a report (this is mostly for leverage when I eventually have to deal with the driver's insurance company to pay for repairs to my bike). The 911 dispatcher gives me a slight attitude after I explain the situation (i.e., no one is seriously injured/hurt), and, after I request that a police officer be sent to make a report, sternly says that they will send an officer "when one is available."

    I tell the driver that an officer will be on their way, "at some point because the dispatcher didn't seem to be in much of a hurry to request one." We introduce ourselves to each other (his name is Kenny), and he gives me his insurance information. I put my bike against a telephone pole and start taking pictures of it, the intersection, and as I do so, he starts taking pictures, too. It's not until I take a picture of his car that he points out to me the dent that I had left in the side!

    After enough pictures were taken, I chatted with Kenny for a bit. He apparently had just moved to the area a couple of weeks beforehand and lived only a block and a half away, so he was just about home at that point. Then, I got impatient (I needed to do some errands and get home to finish preparing my apartment for my sister who was arriving on Wednesday, plus I was really hungry and it was already past the time I usually eat dinner) since I wasn't entirely sure an officer would actually be coming, so I told Kenny that I was going to just head to the streetcar to take transit home. I grab my bike and start carrying the front side with the rear wheel rolling along (this decision is a mistake on my part, but I wasn't thinking clearly at the time).

    About halfway up a somewhat steep hill, my phone rings, and it's Kenny saying a police officer has arrived. I stop and come back down with my bike. The officer is professional and asks each of us our version of events (he offers to have an ambulance come by if I need it, but I tell him I can walk and get myself and bike home on transit). He gets his camera and takes pictures of the intersection, my bicycle, Kenny's car, and my injuries (I said nothing but laughed internally that I was basically doing the classic shtick of a hitchhiker showing some leg to grab attention). He then comes back to both of us and gives us the breakdown: he explains that he is citing the driver for failure to yield right-of-way to oncoming traffic, describes the process for him writing and submitting his report, and gives each of us business cards with his name and the report number. We each thank him for coming, and we all part ways.

    I had to carry my bike up about 2-3 blocks of somewhat steep uphill to get to the First Hill streetcar which took me to the International District/Chinatown light rail station. I then walked home from the Tukwila light rail station. I found that trying to carry a bicycle by holding the handlebars off the ground and rolling the rear wheel is far more difficult than just lifting the whole thing off the ground and carrying it on my shoulder!

    My injuries were luckily limited to bruising and scrapes on my right leg around my knee and thigh, scrapes on my right elbow, and some mild whiplash on one of my left neck muscles (strained when my head tilted to the right). On Wednesday, I wore an elastic knee brace to help with the swelling and to allow me to move somewhat freely. Today (Thursday), I was able to forego the knee brace as the swelling has gone down a lot, my elbow wound is healing, and I have slight stiffness/tension in my left neck muscles. I am taking stairs a little slower, but honestly, I feel like I'm doing fine because I'm still walking and still breathing after everything. (Side note: when I looked up the intersection on Google Maps Streetview to get the hyperlink, I noticed that there was a white pedestrian silhouette on the telephone pole which symbolizes that a pedestrian died there. Cyclists and pedestrians both are at risk to left-turning drivers there.)

    Here are pics of the crash scene:

    Intersection where the crash occurred (I was in the bike lane, and you can see the congested rush hour traffic)
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    Bike injuries
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    Car injury (you can see the two spots where each side my handlebars hit)
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  3. #2
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    Default Bobco85 Injuries

    And, here are pics of my injuries taken about an hour after the crash:

    Right elbow injury
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Leg injuries (after icing it the past 2 days, the swelling has gone down a lot)
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  4. #3
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    Bobco,
    I'm so glad you had such a long streak of biking without incident, and so sorry to hear this happened. Glad you're mostly ok - but I'm sure you're in some pain.
    I'm glad that the car driver was cited with failure to yield. Hope you keep healing well, and that the insurance company compensates you fairly. let us know how it goes. Enjoy your family's visit!

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  6. #4
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    Hey Bobco, sorry to hear about that! Hope you are recovering well.

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  8. #5
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    One of the things that really stuck with me from my mom teaching me how to drive was "courtesy accidents", where someone yields when they have the right of way and causes a crash trying to be nice. She told me to never trust anyone waving you through when you can't see. Too bad my mom didn't teach Kenny how to drive.

    Anyway, glad you were able to walk away, however gingerly. Heal up quickly.

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  10. #6
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    Ouch! Avoiding a major incident for so long says a lot about your cautious and courteous cycling habits. Hope you heal quickly!

    I've basically accepted that, at some point in my cycling career, I'm going to hit or get hit by something pretty hard. Apart from being left with life-altering injuries, my main worry is that I'll be afraid to get back on the bike after a serious collision.

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  12. #7
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    Yikes! As much as I hate that this happened to you, it was honestly the best case scenario of a car/bike crash.

    I am glad that you are relatively unharmed, the bike is mostly okay, the driver stopped and was apologetic, the police were polite and issued a citation, and (hopefully) your bike gets repaired and you get back on the road quickly.

    Thanks for sharing your story and I hope your injuries heal quickly and without incident.

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  14. #8
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    Bob, sorry to hear about your collision. I guess this is evidence that such an incident can unexpectedly befall even the most experienced and conscientious of riders! On the other hand I am certainly glad to hear that you have escaped relatively unscathed and seem to be in good spirit. I hope that you are able to resume riding as soon as possible.

    I am curious: do you happen to remember what type of vehicle the southbound Helpy Helperton was driving?

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  16. #9
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    Default Yaaa .... Beware of McHelperpersons!

    That's some ugly bruising but hopefully nothing that some time won't heal. I have had close calls in this scenario, avoided only because I was farther back and the crossing driver was already turning. It happens from side streets too.

    Re: 911 call - I wonder if you just say "we have an injured person here" and be somewhat vague (but not untruthful) with responses if they won't dispatch someone more quickly? You'd probably get an ambulance then (which in retrospect might not have been a bad idea).

    It also sounds like Kenny was pretty much stand-up in his response and didn't go ballistic on a cyclist.
    Last edited by Mariner; 07-13-2018 at 09:45 AM.

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  18. #10
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    Any updates from the insurance company? Get the bike checked out?

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