On Accidents

To date, I’ve been in two bicycling-related accidents.* One involved me as a pedestrian getting run over. The other was as a bicyclist getting hit by another bicyclist.

In the first incident, I was attempting to cross the street to meet my then-boyfriend R (now husband), who had come to pick me up from work. It was twilight, the time when cars were just starting to turn their headlights on, but it was still light enough to clearly see R on the other side of the road.

The intersection is known for being busy and a little dangerous, what cars turning onto the roads. I was crossing with the light, with the walk sign, when I heard someone yell “watch out!” from the right. The next thing I know, I was knocked off my feet and landed on the asphalt on my hands and knees. The case I was holding was flung out of my hands and shot across the road.

I can’t remember if the bicyclist fell off his bike from the impact, but I know he wasn’t hurt too badly, for he was able to approach me and ask if I was all right. I was stunned and hurt and couldn’t talk at first. R ran from the other side of the street and pulled me to the curb. I do remember being angry because the bicyclist obviously ran a red light and I didn’t see him coming. I wasn’t severely injured, but I did limp for several days and now have a scar on my left knee where I hit the street.

The second incident happened a couple of years later. I had been commuting to work on a cheap mountain bike. On one ride, I saw a woman coming from a side street, weaving unsteadily on her bicycle. We were both going no faster than ten miles an hour, and although I saw her coming toward me from several feet away, I couldn’t predict which way she was going to veer– and so we collided. We both fell on the ground, our bikes in a tangle.

My guess was that the woman was under the influence of something– I don’t know what– and did not have good control of the bike. We both emerged from the accident relatively unscathed, although I felt stupid for not being able to avoid her.

I mention these accidents because they’re not statistically common. Admittedly, I didn’t report these either, so I didn’t help with contributing to the statistics. But although we hear more about car and bicycle incidents, accidents involving pedestrians and other bicyclists do happen, so I urge you to take the necessary precautions when you’re on the road. Be aware, be visible, and be predictable.

*Not including stupid self-inflicted accidents in which I failed to clip out, of which I’m now up to 3 times.


2 thoughts on “On Accidents

  1. On the accident where you and the other bicyclist collided: there’s this thing called “target fixation”, which I’ve had mentioned to me in a couple different contexts. In short, you’ll tend to go where you’re looking, so don’t look at the thing you’re trying to avoid. Look at the path *away* from the thing you’re trying to avoid.

    So,don’t feel stupid for not being able to avoid the other rider…you were looking at her, so that’s naturally where you went. Next time, don’t do that…

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