Anatomy of an Accident

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I experienced an incident this week that shows how quickly things can go wrong, even when you are completely in the right.

Roughy Graphic

The above graphic is the intersection. Notice the two red stop signs on the cross street. The other street has no stop signs. The street from the left is much steeper downhill into the intersection than it appears.

I was riding my bicycle down the hill (see blue graphic) with a large iron mountain shredder truck in front of me (see purple graphic). The truck slowed and stopped at the intersection.

My assumption was it intended to turn left and was waiting for traffic to clear. Me, I was in the (imaginary) bike lane to the right of the truck, so I continued on down the hill, picking up speed to about 20 mph. Suddenly there was this grey vehicle directly in front of me. I put on the brakes, and managed to almost stop. My front wheel slammed into the bike and my hand scraped the side of the truck.

The unexplained piece in this movement is the green arrow for the Orange vehicle — the grey double-cabbed pickup truck. It did everything wrong. It pulled out in front of moving traffic when it had the stop sign and they didn’t. It didn’t turn or even go across the intersection, but made a complete U-turn. That is how I hit it in the side — where it didn’t belong and shouldn’t have been.

Only the efficiency of my brakes, and the slowness of its U-turn, kept the force of my impact down. And even though I had done everything as I was allowed to, legally, I was still endangered.

And yet I was fortunate. I was able to shake it off and ride off. No damage to the bicycle. Just a lot of rattling and shaking up.

The endangering element, beyond that of the illegal driver, was visibility. I couldn’t see around the truck to know the other driver wasn’t following the law. Visibility is always an issue. Usually the thought is the cyclist being visible to the other driver, but this shows that the cyclists visibility is equally as important.

So, lesson learned. Now to apply.

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