Kevin and I are riding on Jefferson heading to work; wide 4-lane road, and this old guy, I mean stooped-over old guy, is slowly making it across the road. Not in a crosswalk. You’re thinking geez, what’s this guy doing? Who’s looking after him? So we’re doing 20mph or so, and by the time we pass him, he’s made it just past the middle of the road. Nowhere close to us. Perfectly safe.
Except that we didn’t pass him. I yelled to Kevin to stop; he looked at me quizzically, wondering, why? There’s no safety issue; we’re nowhere near him and it would seem he’d take another minute to get to where we are.
Here’s why we stopped. Nobody’s looking for an old guy crossing the road nowhere near an intersection. They might, however, see a couple of people on bikes, with not one but TWO bright tail lights. And if they’re focused on us, they might not see the other guy. But… if WE stop, they (the cars behind us) are going to have to stop. Well hopefully anyway! And a car in the other lane might wonder why we stopped, and look around, and see the old guy.
That’s one of the reasons why the law says nobody gets to proceed through a crosswalk, as long as there’s someone in any part of it. You stopping, whether on a bike or a car, sends a signal to others that there’s a reason to stop. It greatly reduces the chance of a pedestrian getting run over. Just something to think about, next time you see someone crossing the street in front of you. Even if you can squeeze by, maybe you shouldn’t.
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.
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–