Category Archives: Advocacy & Local Issues

Bicycle advocacy both local and national, as well as discussion of local bicycle incidents with the community and/or police

Kevin hit by car while descending 84


Some days are fun to write about. But days when your morning bike ride results in spending three hours in the ER, well, this is one of those not-so-fun days. It started out nicely, climbing up through the fog on Kings, good run across Skyline, nice views from West Old LaHonda. Descending 84 was something else entirely. Most of the group had gotten ahead of us on the descent, while Kevin and I were hanging back just a bit, with some concern about possibly-damp pavement. It’s not like we were riding slowly though; our speed was right at 30, coming out of a tight corner, when the incident happened. Below is the “storyboard” taken from the video.

1:02 into the sequence and the car comes past me with a couple inches to spare. I was doing 30, he must have been doing 10mph greater.
1:02 into the sequence and the car comes past me with a couple inches to spare. I was doing 30, he must have been doing 10mph greater. Kevin is maybe 30 feet in front of me.
at 1:04, just two seconds later, a car passes in the opposite direction, way to the side of the road. This car, the car that passed me, and Kevin, all tried to share the same piece of road at the same time. The driver that clipped Kevin chose him as the path of least resistance.
at 1:04, just two seconds later, a car passes in the opposite direction, way to the side of the road. This car, the car that hit Kevin, and Kevin, all tried to share the same piece of road at the same time. The driver that hit Kevin chose him as the path of least resistance.
At 1:09 I've slowed down and come to a stop just past Kevin, a couple seconds after the car knocked him down.
At 1:09 I’ve slowed down and come to a stop just past Kevin, a couple seconds after the car him him.
The mirror that broke on impact with Kevin. No soft tap here.
The mirror that broke on impact with Kevin. No soft tap here.

Watching the entire sequence, the car that hit Kevin came up on us pretty fast. We were traveling an average of just over 30, the car first appears at 19 seconds, at 33 seconds you see him drifting well over the fog line, and at 40 seconds he’s on my tail. In 20 seconds he covered the same ground we did in 28 seconds. The actual location of the crash can be seen here.

The good news? The driver did stop, and in fact gave Kevin a ride back home, after which we took him to the ER where he spent a whole lot of time sitting around and hurting really badly, and a little bit of time getting x-rays, having his wounds cleaned out, and wishing he could walk to the bathroom instead of having to pee into a container. I got the driver’s name, his phone number, and a picture of his car with the license plate and the broken mirror. What I did not do was take a photo of his driver’s license (stupid!) or get his insurance information.

I’ve also got a photo showing the license number of a car that likely saw the accident and pulled up behind us, offering to call 911.

What Kevin got out of it is a heavily-bruised and battered body, an uncertain amount of time off a bike, and a bike that went from 30 to 0 in a manner it’s not designed for, and not considered safe to ride.

Tomorrow morning I call the CHP and follow up on things, making sure we get the contact info for the insurance company and that a proper report has been filed, since this incident was caused entirely, without any possible way to consider otherwise, the driver’s recklessness. I’m convinced he wasn’t the type that targets cyclists, or if he was, he quickly understood the seriousness of what happened and had a come-to-Jesus moment. But this is not a forgive & forget sort of thing. Kevin could have been killed; falling off a bike at 30mph, even with a helmet (which is cracked, by the way, yet Kevin had no head injury, thank you Bontrager!) is not something to be taken lightly. Plus missing work and losing shape as he prepares to ride his bike in France next month.

But thankfully Kevin will recover… and I’ll start thinking about running a video camera at the front of my bike again, not just the rear. –Mike–

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Trek issues massive recall of quick releases for disc brake bikes; what it means to you (non-Trek bikes suspect as well)

recalled_bikesA few days ago Trek issued perhaps the largest bicycle recall in history, affecting nearly 1 million bikes with disc brakes. I’m going to attempt to summarize the issue here.
But first, here’s a link to a video showing an OK quick release,
another that shows the recalled quick release… and why it’s dangerous.
And finally, Trek’s official release on the recall.

This affects only bikes with disc brakes. Period. Despite the photos shown in the news, displaying rows of bikes without disc brakes, you do not have an issue if your bike does not have disc brakes.

The recall is for Trek bikes right now, but it’s expected to become an industry-wide issue. The quick release style being recalled has been in wide use across nearly all major bike companies. Trek recognized and is dealing with this first, as they became aware of a very serious injury for which research pointed to the quick release design as the cause.

The problem is caused by the quick release rotating backward into the front wheel’s disc, where it can lock in place, causing the front wheel to suddenly stop rotating. This can cause a crash without warning, possibly launching the rider into harm’s way. It’s a serious problem.

Some in the industry believe this is a user-error situation, where someone has not properly installed the front wheel. In many cases, this is true. If someone does not properly install the front wheel, perhaps by screwing the quick release on instead of flipping the lever, or they simply don’t have enough pressure holding it in place, some quick release levers will drop into the disc.  The obvious solution is to properly-install & tighten the quick release, and check it frequently. Better yet to use a quick-release that can’t do that (in 2003 it was shown that it’s not likely, but possible, for a front quick release on a disc brake bikes can loosen on their own, so let’s remove every opportunity practical!).

It would appear that simply moving the quick release lever from the disc-side of the wheel to the other side would eliminate the “lock & launch” problem, but this is not a reliable solution because the mechanism is not keyed and can easily be installed either way. But if you have a non-Trek bicycle and the quick release can rotate backward enough to go into the rotor, having the lever side of the quick release opposite the disc is better than nothing. The problem is that anyone, at anytime, could reinstall it differently.

You should also pay attention to the adjustment of your quick release much more often, since the evidence is clear that they can loosen over time. Yours might not have yet, but it could. Next time you’re in a shop, have them show you what proper tension on the lever is.

Replacing the quick release is super-easy. A couple of minutes and you’re done. Replacing broken bikes and healing from accidents is not so easy. Please take this recall seriously.

Thanks, Mike Jacoubowsky, Partner, Chain Reaction Bicycles

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