Saturday, July 31, 2010

Van Collision Update

After getting thwacked by a van yesterday, I woke up this morning (I'm glad I can say that), with my shoulder pain-free, without even a Plavix-related bruise. I still wonder what I could have done differently, and in fact I wonder exactly what I did in those few seconds when danger threatened.

I have a vague memory of hitting the brakes, twisting the bike, and skidding into the collision.

More thoughts about this are on my blog.

Over the many years I've ridden a bike on the streets of Los Angles, drivers have made right turns on me, without signaling, and without looking back first to ascertain if the way is clear. In heavy traffic, which was the case last evening along famed Sunset Blvd., it's easy for a cyclist to pass cars on the right, and do so legally; that means it's also easy to be struck by someone who makes a right turn without checking first to see if it's safe. Of course, most people who drive cars are oblivious the truth that cyclists are on the road, too.

The odd/annoying thing about my accident is that, moments before it happened, I was (uncharacteristically for a cyclist), following behind the truck, which meant I didn't have to worry about getting doored from the right, or getting cut off from the left.

When traffic began to come to a stop for a red light ahead, I moved right to pass, which was when the van, without signaling, made a sharp move right, and cut me off.

How to defense against this? One way would be to stay off streets with heavy, slow-moving traffic; another way would be to take the lane and stay behind a motor vehicle (which seems safe, but oh-so-slow), and never pass on the right.

What I may do in the future in heavy, slow-moving traffic is what motorcyclists do, and what I used to do on my bike; pass on the left, and if there are two lanes running one direction, as there was last evening, pass in between the two lanes. While it sounds dangerous, I realize it means less of a chance of getting cut off, and an almost zero chance of getting doored.

Or I could stay off heavily-trafficed streets streets altogether, but that would be ceding too much territory. At least the driver who hit me will probably be more careful when he initiates a right turn, now, and that's one less driver for cyclists to worry about.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dave, Glad to hear you came through this ordeal without significant injury. Perhaps you'll now consider driving a tank. I understand that if you go with one sans power steering you'll get all the excercise you'd otherwise get from biking. Bruce Henderson

schellter said...

This evening I was on the other end of this equation. About 5:30 I was driving south on Venice to the Culver City Farmer's Market on Main St. I know Venice is crawling with bikers, I ride there too, but when I saw a parking place open up I turned into the bike lane without checking for bikes. Bang! a fixed rider hit my side mirror. Sounded like a hard hit but luckily he did not go down. Instead he gave me middle finger salute and rode off rubbing his shoulder. The incident scared me and made me feel really bad.

Dave said...

Schellter, I'm glad the cyclist wasn't hurt, and I'm sure it will leave you with greater awareness for what's around you, about which you can feel good.

Dave said...

Schellter, I'm glad the cyclist wasn't hurt, and I'm sure it will leave you with greater awareness for what's around you, about which you can feel good.