I had an unfortunate encounter with a truck while cycling to work last week. The accident left the truck with a big dent and me with a broken wrist and clavicle.
It could have been worse. Although going too fast to brake in time for the surprise truck, I was riding legally in the bike lane on Fourth Avenue. Neither the truck driver, who was turning left across the traffic and bike lane into a driveway, nor the overly nice driver of the car that stopped just before a green light to let the truck turn into the driveway, saw me coming. And I couldn’t see the truck until it was too late. Smack!
The lesson for me as a cyclist is to ride more slowly when in traffic. But the more important lesson is, I think, for all of us as motor vehicle drivers: watch out for cyclists. They have as much right to be on the road as do cars and trucks, and where there is a bike lane, it is theirs to occupy.
Bicycles can move quickly – often more quickly than traffic. They can and do come up from behind and they can pass traffic on the right. Please, drivers:
1. Use your rear view mirrors to watch for cyclists coming up behind you, especially before you make a right turn.
2. Don’t drive across a bike lane before ensuring that it’s clear of oncoming cyclists.
3. Keep moving when the light is green; stopping traffic in order to accommodate someone who could approach their destination in a different way can lead to accidents.
This is the third time I’ve been hit on my bike by a driver who either failed to see me or who underestimated my speed. I could cut my risk and stop bicycle commuting. But that would be a cop-out – I’d rather be optimistic, knowing that the very kind drivers involved in my accident will be a lot more careful now.
According to one of the folks in the Whitehorse General Hospital’s emergency department, they see about one bike/car accident victim per month. (You can guess which person sustains the injuries.)
Surely we can do better.