Monday, June 15, 2009

Bike Accident

Image from Ghost Bikes. The good news is that the accident I saw this morning was not fatal.

The weather inspired me to ride this morning. (I've been lazy) A fellow rider fell in behind me at Newport and Clark. He was riding a true messenger bike: fixed gear (pedal backwards, go backwards. pedal forwards, go forwards) and no brakes. He was faster and finally passed me at Barry. I caught up to him at Diversy at a red light. He pulled ahead of me and I let him go. I was paying attention to the delivery truck behind me. I glanced back to make sure I was clear to go around a poorly parked car. I looked forward just as a cabbie clipped the other cyclist. A guy in a suit had hailed the cab.

He went down real hard but at least the cabbie veered back towards the road or he would have run over him. The guy got up just as I caught up. The suit that had hailed the cabbie just backed away. The cyclist went appropriately apeshit. Slammed his hands on the car. Reached into the cracked passenger window and drug it down and went on a tirade of WTFs. After having clipped him and not even getting out of the car to check on him, the cabbie appropriately sat quietly and took his abuse.

I just sat there making sure the cyclist was going to be OK and to be the apparent wingman in case the cabbie had any ideas of doing anything. The cyclist started to step away from the car and I saw the passenger mirror hanging by the wires. I'm thinking, "you so own that mirror," and the cyclist turned back to the car. He ripped the mirror off and slammed it to the ground shattering it everywhere. The cyclist was finally done and tried to ride on. I checked on him and he said he was OK. I don't think his bike was. He rode maybe 30 feet and got off it. When I rode on he was heading back to the cab. Hopefully the cabbie gave up some cash for repairs or the guy called the cops. Or both.

I've been trying to think through the accident and what could have been done better by everyone involved. Obviously, the cabbie is 100% at fault here. He pulled into the bike lane without checking to see if there was someone there and he had just passed the two of us not 100 feet before that so he had to know we were around.

I can't speak to how aware or unaware the cyclist was. He had very little chance to avoid it but I would say that one thing you have to identify when commuting is people hailing cabs. The suit had to be standing on the curb, hand raised or waiving. You see that you have to be ready for a cab. Also, the bike itself was a problem. No brakes means you stop by slowing your legs but the momentum carries you forward. If I had been in the same spot I could have slammed on my brakes and maybe, MAYBE, not gotten hit.

One can't expect the suit to be aware of everything but hailing the cab that just passed a cyclist isn't the healthiest thing you can do for the cyclist.

Again, cabbie 100% at fault but other people were involved and different decisions could have changed the outcome.

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Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

You are SUCH the analyst--that's part of your job, isn't it? :)

Anyway, you said "One can't expect the suit to be aware of everything but hailing the cab that just passed a cyclist isn't the healthiest thing you can do for the cyclist." Thanks for the tip--I will absolutely keep that in mind, the next time I'm hailing a cab.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

It is. At times the analytical mind set can seem boring but it is what I do.

I've been telling this story to everyone I know. Through the BLOG and in person. Some people say you can only learn through experience. And that is certainly one way and it is a method that can instill a lesson deeply. Still, I think one can learn from "book" studies such as this.

It can be scary out there as a cyclist. Cyclists need to be aware of what's going on and do what is necessary not to put themselves in danger. Other people need to be aware of and respect the cyclists and be aware of what puts them in danger.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

I am way too analytical myself sometimes--but I don't think that's a boring trait. :)

Yes, indeed, people can learn from book studies such as this. I did! :)

11:44 PM  

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