Collision on the Lakefront Path

For the first time in 2.5 years of daily riding in Chicago (that’s at least 10,000 miles) I had a collision with a person today – as opposed to train tracks or ice. Both parties involved are fine, although my knees are a bit banged up.

While riding on the Lakefront Trail after work, I saw a skateboarder ahead of me and I slowed to make sure he was not doing anything squirrely. Once I saw that he was maintaining a straight line to the far right of the path, I moved to the opposite lane to pass. I did not ding my bell as I usually would because I saw that he had headphones on and I felt comfortable that he would maintain his line. Just as I got directly next to him, without warning he turned sharply to the left, crashing into me. I felt like I was tackled from the right, as he and his skateboard pushed me and Betty Foy sideways for a few feet, before I bailed/fell, landed on my knees and caught my upper body with my hands.

As this happened in apparent slow motion, I first thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and then “Control the fall, control the fall, control the fall.” I think I did a good job of preventing worse injury. I was not in danger of hitting my head – or my teeth! – and two skinned knees isn’t so bad.

The college-aged skateboarder was very sweet afterward. He was perfectly fine and wanted to make sure that I was okay. He apologized over and over again and said that it was all his fault because he did not look before turning. I also apologized to him and said that I should have rang my bell or something before passing. He continued to insist that it was all his fault. Although technically that is correct, I should have been even more cautious before passing, maybe by calling out and making sure he knew someone was behind him, regardless of the fact that he had headphones on. I have a hard time understanding how someone could make a maneuver like that on a crowded multi-use trail without signaling or even looking, but the fact is – this guy did. I need to remember to expect the unexpected. As the least vulnerable user on the trail, I have the most responsibility to watch out for other, more vulnerable users (although it seemed like a pretty fair fight between burly skateboarder guy and me).

My gut reaction to the situation was kinda goofy: I was concerned primarily with reassuring the guy that I was totally fine and getting back on my bike and away from the situation. With the adrenaline pumping, I did not take the time to examine myself or my bike, instead jumping back on and finishing my ride several more miles to my destination before taking stock. I’ve heard from others who have had the same type of instinctual reaction after a collision. Luckily, everything was fine, except my bloodied knees and torn tights. Sadly, no one other than the skateboarder stopped to ask if I was okay, not even the cyclists going by.

On to the positive stuff about my day.

Oma group at Sunday's brunch: me, Samantha and Janet

My destination was dinner and drinks with three cycling ladies, Janet, Molly and Samantha, two of whom also ride WorkCycles Omas. Nothing cures the jitters of a collision like steamed mussels, garlic frites and Belgian beer, plus having an understanding group with whom to rehash the events. It was nice not to have to contend with any tsk-tsking about how dangerous cycling is. That’s certainly a huge bonus to having bikey friends.

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113 thoughts on “Collision on the Lakefront Path

  1. Michael Rumsey says:

    I’m sorry about your collision, and am relieved that both of you were fairly unscathed.

    Nearly the identical thing happened with a jogger and rider here in Dallas:

    http://www.myfoxdfw.com/dpp/news/100110-jogger-seriously-hurt-on-katy-trail

    There were people on the path who said the rider was announcing her presence while passing them just before the incident. Headphones and music volume don’t go together on a shared trail.

    • Dottie says:

      The link did not work for me, but the situation sounds awful based on your comment. I’m sure the cyclist feels terrible, even though she was not the cause of the collision. I was so, so relieved when I saw last night that the guy was totally fine.

      • Michael Rumsey says:

        copied and pasted:

        …DALLAS – A woman who was out jogging on the Katy Trail Thursday evening was seriously hurt when a bicyclist hit her.

        According to police reports, 28-year-old Lauren Huddleston of Dallas abruptly turned left just as a woman on a bicycle tried to pass her.

        Witnesses told police Huddleston had been wearing headphones and likely didn’t hear the bicyclist.

        The two collided near Cedar Springs Road and Turtle Creek Boulevard.

        Both women were taken to a local hospital.

        The biker’s injuries were not life threatening, but Huddleston suffered a severe head injury. She is in the intensive care unit and may not survive. …

        unfortunately the runner died of her head injury. Now there is a lot of noise about how dreadful cyclists are.

  2. Nicolas says:

    Grrrr. Glad to hear you’re OK. And you took this one like a champion.
    What boils my blood is that we cyclists have to pay attention for EVERYONE. Cars, pedestrians, rollerbladers, strollers, you name it. I wish we’d get some respect for that: we anticipate everybody’s moves from 50m away. They don’t pay attention. They don’t even notice we’re paying attention because THEY’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

    My last crash (only crash, really, if you don’t count banging my front wheel on the back bumper of a taxi because I was an idiot at 14) was completely on my own. My handlebar was cracked, and I was riding to get it fixed, but it fell through my front wheel. I got propelled over the remaining half-handlebard. It was a happy coincidence that I was on a low-traffic street, and a motorcyclist stopped to check if I was OK (no scooter driver would have, I’m sure). I fell on my hands and knees, which pretty much killed a really nice brand new suit. The most annoying thing was having to carry my dead (bent fork) bike home. Had a good cry after this one.

    • Dottie says:

      “They don’t pay attention. They don’t even notice we’re paying attention because THEY’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.”

      So true! That is really frustrating, especially since bicyclists do not get the credit we deserve for being super defensive road users, for the most part.

      Sorry to hear about that crash, sounds scary. And I’m very sorry to hear about your new suit!

  3. BB says:

    So glad neither of you were seriously hurt and the skateboarder does sound a lovely lad. We are all capable of forgeting to pay attention when we should or doing something silly for a second or two. What does always surprise me, and I’m going to sound so middle-aged here, is that people volutarily block out one of their senses whilst in contact with other commuters. I come across other cyclists and joggers with ear buds glued to their head. What’s the point in ringing your bell? I rely on my hearing as a sort of cross-check for what my eyes might miss. Much as I love my music, I don’t think it’s very wise to reduce the chance of reading danger signs if your on a busy path.

    Belgian beer – perfect treatment for sore knees. Take care.

    • Dottie says:

      Thank you. I agree that using headphones in both ears is a bad idea. If someone is going to do that, the least they could do is be extra aware of their surroundings using their other senses. I sometimes ride with an earbud in my right ear only and the music set low, but even then I am extra cautious to be sure I’m not missing anything.

      • Dr Paul Martin says:

        I’m glad you’re OK Dottie.

        I have a habit on shared paths of passing others very slowly unless I *know* they’ve heard me or my bell. They will often turn to look at me but often it can be very subtle – a slight tilt of the head or small sidestep. Unless I notice such behaviour I pass them almost at their speed… just in case.

        I often ride with both headphones in my ears but they are not the ‘in-ear’ type and I have the volume set to ‘background level’ – this is quite safe. Sometimes I have them in but not on as it allows me to answer the phone if I’m on call – sometimes I don’t hear it ring when in my pannier and there is a lot of motorised traffic about.

        I can hear everything around me as I would without them in. By far the loudest noise is that of motor vehicles and I’m sure the drivers of them are all listening to their surrounding carefully… :-/

  4. Nuresma says:

    I’m glad you are ok!
    Is Betty Foy also ok?
    It’s silly that in a second everything can change…I agree with BB: headphones reduce our reaction capacity.
    Take care!

    P.S: so sad other cyclists didn’t stop!

    • Dottie says:

      Thanks. Betty Foy seems to be perfectly fine. The crash dislodged the pepper spray hanging from her basket, but no damage otherwise. Then again, I have not yet examined her in the light of day, so I hope her paint is okay.

      It is silly how things can change in an instant. One moment I was lalalalaing along, the next moment I was hitting the ground.

  5. Steve A says:

    You did well to slow or things might have been uch worse for you both.

    • Dottie says:

      I agree, that fact that I was going pretty slow helped the situation for me. Probably would not have made a difference for him, since he got me from the side, but certainly if I had hit him, how fast I was going would have been a factor.

  6. So relieved to hear that you are all right. I need to learn this “control the fall” thing for when it inevitably happens to me.

    As Steve said, it’s a good thing that you were going slowly.

    Is it really so that cyclists are the least vulnerable users of MUPs? On the one hand, yes they are on a bicycle and going fast, but on the other hand they can suffer greater injuries precisely because of that.

    • Jim says:

      Contolled fall. Be very careful about trying to break your fall by sticking out both arms. That is how you break both wrists.
      Very happy to hear that you are OK. Whew!

      best,

      JimP

      • My husband used to work in the ER and he would always say that broken arms/wrists from a fall was one of the most common injuries they’d see in accidents like this. But still, isn’t that better than cracking a skull or breaking teeth? And how do you control a fall if not with the arms?..

        • I would agree. I did a “controlled” fall when I got knocked off my bike when hit by a motorist. I landed squarely on my wrists. Luckily, I came away with nothing but scuffs, but had I broken a wrist or an arm, I would have considered myself better off than the possibility of having cracked my jaw, lost a tooth, or worse– cracked my skull.

        • Coreen says:

          There are techniques you can use for breaking a fall that are taught in gymnastics and some martial arts. It involves absorbing the force of the fall with the entire body (except the head!) instead of just one part. Side break falls are especially useful in winter. Check out this video and the one after it in the playlist for examples:

          • sometimes you have no control over how you fall. just this past weekend, a riding buddy fell in the middle of a major intersection, because his pedal cracked off as he was standing to pedal. he struck his head pretty hard on the pavement, cracking his helmet. the irony is that for such a hard and uncontrolled fall, he was only just starting off from a standstill, probably going no more than 5 mph and having been waiting at the crosswalk just 5-10 feet before the fall.

      • dukiebiddle says:

        I’ll take broken wrists over a broken skull any day. I would never trust my skull or a bicycle helmet to protect my brain if it could be avoided in any way.

        • Jim Phillips says:

          Oh I agree with you. If it’s a wrist or the skull that is going to be broken I’ll break my wrists. But many people break a fall that would only scuff their knees otherwise by sticking out their arms. Broken wrists from breaking a fall very often occur when the skull is not at risk.

          best,

          JimP

          • Dottie says:

            Good point. Glad my wrists are okay. My palms are not even scratched, while my knees are a bit gruesome, so it appears that my knees absorbed almost all of the force.

    • Dottie says:

      That’s a really good point about who the most vulnerable users are. Bicyclists who crash are almost certain to get some sort of injury, since there is a certain distance to the ground and velocity. I’ll have to give that some more thought.

  7. Sigrid says:

    h and i both find that we rarely call out our passing folks on paths anymore. often if we say ‘on your left’, they veer to the left instead of staying right ~ not any safer than quietly passing with a wide berth to the left. i know this annoys some folks, but after many miles logged we have both found it the safest thing to do. in addition, most people often have headphones in their ears and don’t even hear us if we say anything. passing can be a dicey situation sometimes and unpredictable maneuvers are just that, unpredictable. glad you are ok and that it was a person and not a car!

    • Dottie says:

      Those are all good points, I’ve had the same experiences with passing people on paths, especially the veering left part (particularly tourists). I’m very glad that it as a person and not a car!

      • E A says:

        Glad you’re ok and I’m sorry I missed you for dinner!

        I was just having this conversation about how you call out passing and the person veers into your path instead of out of it! D’oh!

  8. Dottie – I’m glad you, Oma and skateboard guy are OK! Imagine if that had been an automobile collision. It could have been so much worse. Thank goodness you were on a bike.

  9. Krista says:

    Glad you and Betty Foy are okay!

    Wish we had the European thing going on where paths like the lakefront had a clearly delineated bike lane and pedestrian lane. (But I guess you’d need a skateboarder lane in this instance!)

    • David says:

      In theory, I think Chicago’s LFP is like this – the paved lane is for cyclists and rollerbladers and other people moving quickly; the shoulder (usually gravel) is for walkers, runners and joggers. This distinction is usually observed more in the breach, however.

  10. Simply Bike says:

    Oh no! I’m glad that everyone involved is ok and that Betty is alright as well! What a scary thing to happen…and now I’m wondering…how *does* one control a fall? Are there actual techniques you’ve learned?

    When I fell during Ragbrai, my body was pumping with adrenaline afterwards. I wanted to race down the cyclist who ran me off the road and didn’t even stop to see if I was alright. I also only really took stock while riding after a few miles, slowly noticing the aches and pains. I hope you continue to feel ok as this week goes on!

    • Coreen says:

      I’ve learned techniques form martial arts that have crossed over nicely into the realm of taking a fall on a bicycle. The secret is to practice falling over and over until it’s set in your muscle memory so you react without thinking. These techniques spread the force of the fall to the entire body (but not the head!) because you’re far more likely to be injured if just one body part takes the brunt of the fall (knees, wrists, etc). Google “ukemi side break falls” for examples.

      • Dottie says:

        Coreen – That sounds interesting. I will google that phrase. Last night I just tried to disentangle my body from my bike and make sure I did not hit my head.

        S – That incident with the aggressive rider at Ragbrai makes me so mad. Sucks that she put a negative spin on what otherwise looked like a great day.

        • Coreen says:

          I’m glad you’re OK and I hope you heal up fast! Adrenalin’s so amazing how it makes you want to get up and go (fight or flight) even when what you really need to do is take a moment and assess damage after an accident.
          As for the break falls, I’ve found side break falls especially useful in the winter if my bike goes sideways. I only used a front fall once, but did it ever save my butt after I went superman. One caution though, seek instruction for this stuff from someone who knows what they’re doing and practice often on mats so you don’t get hurt. I suspect it would be fairly difficult to learn off the internet.
          Of course, avoiding accidents is a more valuable skill, and there’s lots of resources online for that ;-)

      • E A says:

        Last time I tried to do a controlled fall I messed up my knee. I’ll have to check on that ukemi fall, too.

  11. Gram Bev says:

    Glad you’re OK! and sometimes shouting out gets the WRONG result. Here in Salem, MA last year a 66 year old lady riding a bike yelled out, “bike to your left(or was it to your right?) and the two young men – who were walking along ahead of her on a pathway at a park here called winter Island – threatened to hit her with a fallen tree branch one of them was carrying, telling her she couldn’t pass.

    Fortunately, a bicycle cop happened along and the two were arrested and had their day in court.

    The skateboarding young man who crashed into you was a nice guy even though he was wrong not to look behind him. He wouldn’t have heard you had you rung your bell or shouted out to him. I would have done as you did and this is something I’ll be aware of when I’m out biking in the future.

  12. maureen says:

    Oh Dottie, so very sorry this happened to you! I doubt it could have been avoided even by calling out, as the skateboarder had on headphones. I am glad you were not hurt further, but keep a watch on your knees, and perhaps your wrists.

    I am surprised people did not stop to help you. I live in N.Y. and many people think of NYers as rude/uncaring. When I had my accident in Sept. I could not even count the number of people who tried to assist, give me water, called police and e.m.t.s and all that even though I was with a friend.

    I didn’t go to the hospital with the e.m.ts, all I thought about was not inconveniencing anyone, I think part of that may be our nature as woman, and probably our nature as cyclists (being independent).

    I hope you have a quick recuperation period!
    And perhaps because of the collision, the skateboarder will avoid wearing headphones in the future and avoid another accident.

    Please take it easy!

    • Stephen says:

      Really glad you’re ok! The cool thing about cycling is that we learn from every event. As a youngster in the ’70’s, I suffered a broken nose, concussion, trip to the ER, face/teeth/eye trauma, and several painful crashes as a result of being the youngest of 5 boys-on-bikes riding like maniacs. God bless my mother. And last year while commuting home a car ran into me – she says she never saw me. This year my bike was stolen right out of my garage along with all my tools. And yet, I can’t seem to fall out of love with cycling. I figure I’ve paid all my dues and karma will be there for me. Your blog inspires me, keep up the great work.

      • Dottie says:

        Sorry to hear about the car crash – those people who say they never saw you are the scariest. And I’ve had a bike stolen right out of my garage, too. Yes, the thought of karma is what gets me through this world. Your story is a testament to the greatness of cycling.

    • Dottie says:

      Thanks, Maureen. Usually Chicagoans are very friendly, especially bicyclists, although I noticed a dearth of racer types on the path last night, so perhaps those guys did not feel like stopping.

      In my experience women are overly concerned about not inconveniencing anyone. I always thought that I would be able to avoid that kind of behavior if I got in a collision, but I failed that test last night. Maybe if a car had been involved, I would have been more assertive.

  13. Larry Powers says:

    First I am glad that you are OK. Second it was all his fault for not looking first.

    This is the reason I dislike MUP’s and would rather take my chances in traffic. There are too many oblivious people on MUP’s and they move a a much slower pace then a bicycle and are much less predictable then traffic.

    The only thing the might have helped in this case is an Airzound horn. I haven’t resorted to this yet but consider it every time I see a driver do something stupid in front of me.

    Stay alert and safe.

    • Dottie says:

      MUPs do make me nervous because I hate the thought of injuring someone. That’s one of the many reasons I do not drive a car. I’ve considered getting an airhorn to deal with the occasional super-obvlivious driver, but I’m worried that the sound would be too much and startle other bicyclists who may be around.

  14. G.E. says:

    My husband and I greatly differ on the subject of bicycles and multi-use paths. We sometimes ride together (I ride with him to work and then back home alone), and a couple of miles of the ride are multiple use trails. His philosophy is not to say anything and go faster by people before they have the opportunity to do something “dumb” (as he puts it). I, however, slow to an almost stopping point, ring my bell and/or yell out, “Good Morning (or afternoon/evening)! Coming up behind. Passing on your left.” As Sigrid pointed out, 9 times out of 10, people then move to their left, but I’ve begun to anticipate this as well (which is why I slow down to be ready to stop if necessary). My husband makes fun of me and tells me I’m too polite, but honestly, I’d rather be prepared for the sudden moves. I will say that my extreme near-miss accidents almost always seem to be on trails and multi-use paths though, and nearly always with someone wearing headphones. I don’t begrudge them their headphones, but I do think it’s important to look before you move, particularly if you cannot hear the outside world and its noises. Of course, we cannot make people behave the way we want them to (Unfortunately. When will my super powers kick in anyway?!).

    Glad that everyone came out of the accident relatively okay, and hopefully you helped to make another path user more aware of his surroundings for the future.

    • David from Madison says:

      I ride and pass and get passed by many people on our miles of MUP. I’ve never noticed people veering to the left when one says “on your left”. And I use it a lot, although I hate it when people say it to me (I have a mirror, and I’m not an idiot).

      However, there are certain types where I will slow way down.

      Funny, once I was yelling “on your left” to two young kids with their dad, I said it like 2 or three times. I was passing on their right…… oops……

      • dukiebiddle says:

        Yeah, I’m never going to go to the trouble of trying to figure out if the rider in front of me has a mirror and will continue to either say “on your left,” “excuse me” or just ring my bell, depending on the situation.

        No matter what I do about 80% of the time people will look over their left shoulder and move slightly in a leftward direction when I audible. It’s better if I give an audible or a ding about 30 yards behind first and then do it again when I’m right behind.

    • Dottie says:

      Interesting to hear about your and your husband’s respective views on how to deal with multi-use paths. I definitely lean more to your point of view, especially when dealing with children or large groups of pedestrians. The Lakefront Trail is so busy, though, that for practical reasons I cannot give every passing situation the maximum amount of caution.

      Now I’m daydreaming about how I would use that particular superpower…

  15. Zweiradler says:

    Three Omas on one photo, that looks fantastic! :)
    Good to hear that nothing serious happened to you.

    Nico

  16. David says:

    Lucky for you that you came away with just a few scuffs, but it sounds as if you did set yourself up as well as you could by passing him on the far left. While I enjoy the LFP for getting me away from cars, its users do behave much more unpredictably than road users – often you have to expect anybody to move in any direction at any time. And yet, it was only the other day when I was riding up Southport by the Music Box Theater when a runner sprinted off the sidewalk through a gap in parked cars at full speed in front of me in the bike lane without looking. Heads up, chief! Drivers seem to me to be the least oblivious (its the only mode that requires training) but the consequences of their oblivion are the greatest for us.

    • Dottie says:

      “Drivers seem to me to be the least oblivious (its the only mode that requires training) but the consequences of their oblivion are the greatest for us.”

      Very well put. That’s one of the main reasons I usually prefer riding on the Trail, even when it is a circus out there. The Southport bike lane in Wrigley has lots of oblivious pedestrians, I’ve also noticed.

  17. Megan says:

    Glad to see you’re okay AND that the skateboarder was concerned and apologetic!

  18. Janice in GA says:

    Glad things were no worse than they were!

    I was in a discussion on another board about MUP and the ways that people behave on them. The consensus seemed to be that calling “On your left” tends to make people move left. And that in general, people on MUPs wear headphones and have no clue about what goes on around them.

    I only have a little bit of MUP to ride on, but when I meet people, I tend to do what @G.E. does: slow WAY down so that if they do something unexpected, I have the best chance of reacting safely in time. But I can usually count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I encounter on my MUP in a given week. So this might not be an option on busier paths.

    • Dottie says:

      Slowing down substantially definitely helped prevent worse injury in this situation. The Lakefront Trail is too crowded to do that for everyone, but I’m usually most careful around roller bladers, children and the occasional skateboarder.

  19. Beany says:

    sorry about your crash…I can relate.

    My one and only crash (with a human – I’ve crashed into light posts and other inanimate objects before) was with a little, and I have to say, fat, kid on a bike path. He couldn’t have been more than 12. And his chubbiness is what prevented me from getting hurt worse since I landed on him. He was in the wrong (coming around a corner in the wrong direction, downhill at top speed). I felt so awful for hurting a little kid – esp. since my elbows are kinda boney. But his dad was so apologetic that it made it seem okay.

  20. David from Madison says:

    I have said before, these accidents are never really just one person’s fault. It’s a public multi-use trail, never assume! Did you even slow down when passing? Or just try to zoom by? There’s certain “groups” that when I pass, I make a point of slowing down or being loud, like children, a group of folks, etc.. A boarder with headphones on, a red flag to expect the unexpected, slow down.
    Being on a heavy bike, you could have seriously injured that boarder. Or you could have broken your collar bone, etc..

    But I’m surprised no one asked you if you were okay. Oh, it’s Chicago, no I’m not surprised.

    • Aaron says:

      Dottie’s post pretty clearly states that she feels that she is partly to blame. No need to rub it in.

    • Dottie says:

      Please read the post carefully before leaving critical comments. Once you do that, you will see that all of your questions are answered, I did slow considerably, I accepted partial blame and I was not on a heavy bike.

      • David from Madison says:

        Sorry, didn’t mean to sound critical, I should read more carefully. I did read again, but didn’t read anything about you slowing down…..
        I think Aaron’s response influenced your response. Thanks Aaron!
        But in general I don’t read your posts, just look at the pictures.

        • TS says:

          If you don’t generally read posts and only look at photos, then why are you bothering to make comments?? You don’t have to read far to see that yes, she did slow down – 4th sentence to be exact: “While riding on the Lakefront Trail after work, I saw a skateboarder ahead of me and I slowed…”

  21. Traci says:

    Ugh – that sucks that the skateboarder stepped in front of you and caused a crash! I don’t know what people are thinking doing things like that – they obviously just aren’t thinking at all.

    Glad to hear that you (and Betty Foy!) appear to be fine though. At least you had the numbing power of beer and good company right after to temporarily make you forget any pain :) Hope you continue to feel OK in the next few days.

  22. I’m glad you’re okay.

    I wish I could say I haven’t had any collisions in the last few years, but I’ve been hit twice by cars. Thankfully, both were light on injuries, due to their slow speed and my dodging the worst of it.

    But yesterday I wiped out with no interference from anyone else, except the rain. I was taking a turn that I often do on my commute, but the recent rain made it slicker than normal and I went down, fast, skidding across the pavement. Thankfully, I have much experience falling off a bike and only have minor scrapes with some sore bones. I’m happy to have a lesson in the value of slowing down, and watching what I do.

    • Dottie says:

      Sorry to hear about your crash. Unexpected incidents like that are always scary. Yes, I take it as an easy and relatively painless lesson that can help me avoid worse collisions in the future.

  23. julie says:

    Glad you are okay! I appreciate your story in another way – the 2 of you didn’t end up in a shouting match.
    A few months ago I was right-hooked by a delivery truck. My bike was crushed; i was okay. I started running after the truck but a passerby stayed with me while another motorist chased him down. I didn’t yell at the driver when he came back. He had no idea he hit me. I really tried to remain calm because even though he was in the wrong (even the cop told him he couldn’t blame the size of the truck for not seeing me) I’d prefer he’d learn to be a better driver. Somehow, venting my anger would just not help the bigger scheme of things. And I felt bad for him too because he made a mistake that could have killed someone.
    As for MUPs, I’ve been riding the Minuteman “Bikeway” for years. You see everything – good and bad. I’ve learned to shout “Passing!” rather than “on your left”. Many people only hear the “left” part and instinctly move to the left. I also use a bell – a Crane that one passerby said was the nicest bell he ever heard!
    Still, there was the time of the vacuous rollerblader. She had on headphones and was doing the weird 2-lane style so it was difficult to pass. I had to shout several times to get her attention and she finally moved over and thank me for being the first person to signal her that day! I could image how many people tried and gave up trying to get through the earplugs.
    Oh, and you may want to go to the doctor. After the accident, I felt fine the first day. Then achy. A couple days later sore all over — which the doctor had warned me would happen.

    • Dottie says:

      Yikes, right hooked by a truck. That’s my worst fear. I’m happy to hear that you were mostly okay. Did the sore all over part go away on its own?

      • julie says:

        It was my first accident in over 15 years of riding. I relied on Ibuprofen and Naproxen for a couple of weeks. I don’t know how i got off of the bike but somehow landed on my feet with a lot of bruising and a shoulder strain. The doctor sent me to PT for a couple of months. The good thing is I had another bike fixed up and was out commuting 2-days later — my greatest anxiety had been that I might become afraid of cycling but it didn’t happen.
        That said, my walking accident total is worse – including a broken ankle from slipping on black ice. Driving, I’ve lost count but it includes being rear-ended by someone running a red light and sideswiped by a car in another lane who crossed into mine without looking. I haven’t had any public transit related accidents yet :)

  24. Cathy says:

    Glad you’re ok!

  25. glenda says:

    Glad you are OK. Sorry this happened. Hope you heal up soon!!!!

  26. Scott says:

    Glad you are OK. Knocking on wood, I have still yet to have a spill of any kind on the dutch bike.

  27. ridon says:

    in response to your “strange reaction” post-crash, it is not strange at all! i recently read “the unthinkable” (a book about disasters) and it says that extreme politeness is a common reaction. the reasoning is that we cope by overcompensating with normalness. that’s why during some evacuations, people will insist on letting another person go first.

  28. Jennifer says:

    Glad you’re OK!

    • I had the same gut reaction when I had an accident too — I kept saying I was fine, and my bike was fine, and I just wanted to keep going. Even though I was shaking and in no shape to ride.

      No one stopped, but somebody did call the police, who took a report and offered an ambulance (which I didn’t need).

      I’m glad you are OK!

  29. SM says:

    Glad your OK Dottie. I agree with Stephan – the good thing about falling is that you truly learn from each experience even though you were on guard, sometimes it just happens to the best of us. I’ve had a couple of falls – one where I broke my elbow – catapulted off the bike trying to avoid being hit by a car and landed on my side -while i was 3 months pregnant. I still can’t remember whether I placed my arm around my belly instinctually and landed on my elbow trying
    to protect the condition I was in. It’s still all a blur to me – happened so fast. What it taught me was to always be hyper alert of all things comng at me from every direction. I was so busy looking left and right while crossing a street towards a parking lot destination – by the time I looked straight ahead a car was pulling out coming straight at me. I turned the wheel so fast and quick to avoid hitting the car and lost control and some how I went flying off the bike.
    at me

  30. Bif says:

    Ouch Dottie. Poor you. Hope you feel better soon. (…and get back on that horse!)

  31. Daniel says:

    I’m so glad that things did not turn out any worse than they did! While the results were pain and stress, you were able to ride away from the situation, and so was the skateboarder. Sounds like your actions were appropriate and well executed.

    I definitely don’t think that bicyclists are either the most vulnerable nor bear the greatest responsibility. We just tend to have the responsibility for everybody else’s safety forced upon us. :-)

    Dan.

  32. donna says:

    Glad you’re ok. My morning commute starts on a LSP too and just the other day I was waiting at a light, watching the cars turn on the advance green light – the last of which was a huge semi truck – and to my horror the headphone-wearing pedestrian standing two feet away from me stepped out on to the road oblivious to the semi. He nearly got creamed in front of my eyes. Fortunately I managed to yell “watch out!” and he stepped back just in time. He mouthed “thank you” to me but it really shook me up . He simply wasn’t paying attention and almost paid for it with his life.

    • Jim Phillips says:

      That sounds awful Donna but you saved his life so it was worth getting the boGeezus scared out of you (and the pedestrian as well!).
      Here in Charleston, SC three people have been killed on bicycles, one about four blocks from my house, in the past few months. The driver was given a “failure to yield” ticket and the cyclist, a leader in our community and among cyclists as well, is dead. We have to ride defensively. I am so glad that Dottie is OK.

      best,

      JimP

      • Bif says:

        Jim, I recall that incident in Charleston. The car tried to overtake the cyclist as they were both doing a right turn in an intersection. The motorist claimed the cyclist ran into the front of his car. Sounds to me like the motorist tried to squeeze by the cyclist and killed him, and somehow everyone feels real sorry this happended to the motorist. The newspaper said the poor fellow elected to not press charges against the cyclist, who died a couple days later anyway, and who never got a chance to tell his side of the story. Interesting you say the motorist ended up getting a failure to yield citation. Something must have changed.

        • Bif says:

          Wow, you’re right, the driver was charged. Unfortunately you are also right that the charges against the driver were wimpy.

          http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/aug/07/driver-blamed-in-cyclist-collision/

          The police re-opened the case, reversed the earlier findings, and filed charges against the driver while exonerating the cyclist from any wrong-doing. However, the driver was only charged with “following too close”. Seems to me if you are following too close and kill someone it should be wreckless endangerment, but what do I know.

  33. Rebecca says:

    I have come to the conclusion that only an air horn could get through to the head phone wearer! I plan to get one as I have this problem on a regular basis!

  34. Jim Phillips says:

    The cycling community got up in arms and the Charleston Police agreed to re-investigate. After they did, the driver of the car was determined to have been in the wrong and was given a ticket.

    best,

    JimP

  35. Adam K says:

    Nice site. Bummer to hear you got into a collision. I actually don’t ever recall having to pass a skateboarder. With so many people with earbuds on the trail, we need a bell with a normal and a loud ringer. Glad you’re ok. Your videos are great and I love your enthusiasm for bike commuting!!

  36. Curly Suze says:

    Dottie, glad you are OK. If you end up getting the AirZound horn, maybe you can review it here?

    Nearby is a mixed-use rail trail where I do a certain amount of recreational riding. There is unfortunately no shortage of oblivious and/or earphone-plugged trail users who fail to remember that other people are using the trail too. The bike has a fairly loud bell and it’s always gotten through to people except for the few who are too dense to comprehend its meaning until we’re dangerously close. According to many of the other regular trail riders this is a common problem. So far – knock on wood, the only incidents have been falling over due to mistakes with cleated pedals :(

  37. Carolyn I. says:

    I’m glad you are ok Dottie. :)

  38. cycler says:

    Oh NO! Glad you’re OK-
    Proper application of beer and Moules Frites cures many afflictions. Hope you still feel OK in a couple of days.

    I think that the cure for oblivious pedestrians is a combination of dedicated bike lanes and more bikes. If there’s enough bike traffic that pedestrians actually feel endangered or harrassed by walking where they’re not supposed to be, they’ll walk where they’re supposed to be if they’re right next to each other.

    You learn pretty quickly not to walk in the bike lanes when visiting Amsterdam.

  39. Stephen says:

    Interesting discussion. This link discusses the safety aspects of mixing transportation cyclists onto recreational paths, and advocates building more transportation-specific bicycle and pedestrian facilities in response:

    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-11-07-we-need-real-bike-paths-for-real-bike-transportaiton

  40. sara says:

    So out of blogging these days but wanted to let you know that I am glad that you are OK, Dottie.

  41. Steven Vance says:

    Multi-use trails, like the Lakefront Trail, “…pose the highest risk, major roads are more hazardous than minor roads, and the presence of bicycle facilities (e.g. on-road bike routes, on-road marked bike lanes, and off-road bike paths) was associated with the lowest risk.”

    http://www.ehjournal.net/content/8/1/47

  42. Dottie says:

    I can definitely see that multi-use trails pose the highest risk. Do you know, is that for frequency of collisions or also for seriousness?

  43. finch says:

    Now that it’s dark after work, due to the time change, I’ve had the following happen (stolen from a facebook post I made a couple days ago):

    “Joggers on the LSP: Guess what? It’s pretty dark by 5 pm. And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s many parts of the path that aren’t lighted. So for the love of God, why would you jog all the way to the left of your lane? Wearing all dark colors? It’s happened 3 times this week! Are you trying to get hit by bikes? You were taught that slow drivers stay right, yes? Same idea. Bet you’re the sort to stand on the left on elevators, too.”

    OK, I get a bit snarky in there, but it boggles the mind. It’s like another poster above stated – we have to anticipate what they’ll do from 50 m back. Hard to do if you can’t even see them until you’re 20 feet away.

  44. Herzog says:

    Many of these studies don’t take into account that (1) riders are more careful on the street and (2) the risk of deadly (or very serious) collisions is higher on the street.

  45. Steven Vance says:

    I think the study I linked to, and that quote, mean to say frequency of crashes (so frequency is higher on multi-use trails). The study, a review of existing literature, did review some other studies that looked at crash/injury severity.

  46. dukiebiddle says:

    Yeah, I’ve had my share of problems with headphoned joggers all the way on the left of paths too. They do it in the street, which is understandable – but they do it on MUP out of habit, where it always becomes a problem.

  47. Ben says:

    “Stand on the left on elevators” ?

    I’m having trouble seeing the issue with that.

  48. Dottie says:

    I’ve noticed this problem with the end of daylight savings time, too. In my experience, only about 1 out of 100 joggers on the dark path use lights.

  49. ridon says:

    i know joggers who wear lights specifically for this reason. i often wonder if cars really see my bike’s headlight. i’ve been in a car following a bike with a taillight and they’re visible. but i worry about the headlight, do they see if since it’s so much smaller than car headlights?

  50. Finch says:

    Doh! My bad.

    Escalator. The people that stand on the left on the escalator and block the people behind them. They always seem so oblivious.

  51. dukiebiddle says:

    Escalator issues. Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a Washingtonian?

  52. Ben says:

    @Fitch – That makes sense. I thought maybe I was committing an elevator faux pas my whole life.

  53. Yup. In Austria they will shout “Rechts stehen!” at anybody who is foolish enough to do that… Yet somehow the concept does not carry over to the MUPs and pedestrians still block cyclists.

  54. Dottie says:

    That’s a pet peeve of mine, too. :)

  55. joanne says:

    Dottie- Glad you are ok! I am always riding and driving defensively assuming that what I think the other guy might do will be what he does, in fact, do!
    I get so worked up over this kinda stuff- especially the fact that he was wearing the earphones- it says a lot about our society and how people tune out to the immediate world at hand! Don’t get me started about the cell phones glued to everyone in this city’s ears while driving downtown! I thought there was a law? Apparently, too many budget cuts for anyone to enforce.

    At the least, you are safe!

  56. Dottie says:

    I always try to ride super defensively, too, but this incident was a good reminder to me to ride even more defensively. Cell phones – yes – everyone still uses them and no one seems to care. Grr.

  57. Dottie says:

    It would be funny to start yelling that at people in Chicago. See how they react.

  58. Scott says:

    Hey, good to know! I practice my German pronunciation all the time while a’wheel. Sometimes people see me talking to myself — they must think I am crazy, but when else besides my commute can I repeat the same thing over and over without bothering anyone?

    I just booked a trip to Austria in March. We are going to stay with my fiancee’s dad who lives in Vienna for three days. We plan to use the bike sharing program, maybe I will get to use this phrase!

  59. Dottie says:

    If someone is going to use headphones in both ears, they should at least be extremely observant with their eyes and extra careful.

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