Life flashes before your eyes? Everything goes in slow motion? Those are the clichés, but in reality it all happened horribly quickly, with no time to think. The sudden realisation that the car was heading straight towards me. That it was not going to stop. The mad scramble to get out of the way. The crunch as it hit me. Feeling the bike momentarily pinning me to the ground. Desperately pulling me legs away from the rear wheels as they passed. Me getting to my feet and realising I was OK. All over in less then three seconds.

I was waiting to turn right from a side turning; the last turn into my street just a short distance from my house, positioned as you would expect towards the centre of the road. I was waiting for the ute coming up from the left to go past, then the road was clear for me to get home. He indicated right just before the junction, and as he started to turn in I thought his line looked loose. Surely he's going to go a bit wider around me? Then the headlights were pointing straight at me, and the horrible realisation dawned. Fortunately, I was able to get out of the direct line, so it was the side of his vehicle that impacted me, pushing me away and outside the track of the rear wheels.

The driver stopped, and rushed out, clearly shocked. SMIDSY, of course. He kept repeating it. 'I just didn't see you, I just didn't see you; just heard the bang.'

It's strange; the recent spate of incidents involving cyclists being hit by cars has spooked us all a bit, and coupled with my new commute on much busier roads the thought that it could happen to me has been on my mind sometimes. I didn't think it would be on a quiet residential street, metres from my house, though. Short of cycleways on every street those kind of local roads are always going to be shared by all kinds of vehicles.

I also, of course, in my over-analytical way, wonder what I could have done differently. I had the handlebars pointed to the right, ready to turn, so  my light would have been pointed away from the driver as he turned (although not so much it was not visible, I'm sure). And whilst I had reflectors on my ankles and bag, I wasn't wearing my reflective sash; it went awol in the recent house move move I haven't replaced it. Would it have made a difference? Possibly, although as he turned I was directly in front of him, fully illuminated by his headlights, yet by his own admission he still didn't see me. That said, I will get a new sash, and perhaps even consider my headlight positioning in similar situations in the future. Not, you understand, that I believe that these things should be necessary, nor absolve the driver of any responsibility. Looking where you are going is after all probably the prime responsibility when operating a motor vehicle.

As for me, well, I have a bruised, swollen knee that is stiffening up; I'm sure it's just a bruise to the muscle as the joint is fine, but I'll get it checked out just in case.  Funny how you don't notice these things until afterwards; the effect of the adrenaline I guess. Not sure how I'm going to ride to work in the morning; could be interesting.

I have no idea how the bike is. I wheeled it home, so I know the wheels go round, but I'll have a proper look in the morning. Ironically its not actually my bike, but a loaner bike from the bike shop whilst mine is in for repair.

And I guess finally I have to decide if I go to the police. I know I've always urged others to do exactly that in these situations. When it actually happens, and you are OK, it's less straightforward. The driver seemed like a nice guy, and was clearly shocked; I daresay he learned a lesson tonight. I doubt that a call from the cops will make any difference to how he feels or behaves in the future, and I also doubt the cops will be very interested in following it up anyway, from past form. But then again, it was blind luck that I wasn't seriously injured or worse, and the driver was clearly negligent. And in any case, reporting it means it will be recorded in the stats, if nothing else.

For now, I've poured myself a glass of shiraz, talked it through with Mrs Dan and got a bit teary. Two little girls nearly lost their daddy tonight. But then I feel self-indulgent; I'm absolutely fine, all is well, and compared to others it was really a minor incident. Such is how these things affect you.

Tomorrow is a new day. If you need me, I'll be riding my bike.

Views: 701

Comment by BernIe on July 15, 2014 at 10:39pm

Sorry to hear about the accident. Glad you are ok. I've been hit twice, and its never pleasant. If you are like me you will be a little sketchy and over-cautious for a while when you get back on the bike. Take the opportunity to talk about it with someone ... I found the endless re-living the event in my head is the worst - talking may help. There is probably nothing you could have done and I always find that feeling of helplessness is pretty lousy. 

Comment by cafard à deux roues on July 15, 2014 at 11:05pm

Happy you're not badly hurt, and well done for having the presence of mind to mitigate the damage. Another reminder that most incidents happen close to home (probably close to the driver's home too). I hope you were able to have a good nights sleep and that you get over the bad feelings fast. Take it easy.

Comment by John Knight on July 15, 2014 at 11:13pm
Bloody hell!
A lucky escape. Was he on the phone or reading?
Sir Adrian is probably correct that the driver was also close to home and was on auto pilot.
Glad you aren't too knocked about!
Comment by Neil Alexander on July 16, 2014 at 8:40am

That story gives me butterflies in the stomach. And reminds me of the times cars have been coming straight at me without seeming likely to stop... Unpleasant, to say the least.

At least you're not saying "A helmet saved my life." Though the woman in your previous blog post would probably be thinking "I told him so."! ;-)

Comment by Ma Dame Vélo on July 16, 2014 at 11:01am

It was raining at my place last night - was it raining where you were?  That alters visibility for drivers.  Otherwise, no excuse for him hitting you, really.  So scary. Glad you are OK.  The only/main reason you might consider the police option is if the bike is damaged and the bike shop wants compensation.....

Take care as I know you do.  :-)

Comment by Chris Hansen on July 16, 2014 at 4:16pm

Dan, glad to hear you are OK - this is very similar to when I was hit about two months ago now. although it was 11am on a Saturday, it was the same thing - the driver looked straight through me. i was fortunate that she had slowed to a virtual stop and was only doing around 15 km/h at time of impact directly into my rear skewer.

My bike was knocked out from under me & at first I only had a slight graze on my right hand, however the following days i developed very sore shoulders from the whiplash-effect of being knocked off the bike.

As for calling the Police, the answer that both the driver & I received is that the police only need to be notified if either vehicle need to be towed. I argued that my vehicle needed to be towed in the back of my wife's car due to ruined wheel & seat-stays, to no avail.

Comment by Dabba on July 16, 2014 at 5:23pm

I dread reading these experiences because they are happening too often to too many people.  Please report it to the police and do all of the necessary bits to get action taken against the driver, if not for your sake, for the rest of us.  If you don't report it, you don't even become a statistic, and that's what drives action from governments.  If your injuries - even though you suggest that they may be minimal - come back to haunt you, at least there is a record of the collision.

I hope that both the physical and mental injuries from this heal quickly.

Comment by Mark on July 16, 2014 at 5:34pm

I've never been hit and never will.....I'm still  working on that second bit actually. So far I'm using large doses of footpath and paranoia (I think they are out to get me). Certainly your experience will have me doubling the paranoia dose tomorrow. Heal up soon.

Comment by Jason B on July 16, 2014 at 6:17pm

Report the collision, you can probably tell the desk cop that you don't feel it necessary for the police to prosecute the driver over the incident.

Moderate injury incidents on quiet backstreets are some of the most under-reported incidents involving cyclists, and under reporting them doesn't help with any realistic attempts to understand actual per km and per hour risk rates for different types of roads.

Comment by Edward Re on July 16, 2014 at 8:40pm

Glad you're ok! Good excuse to get some monkey lights...


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