Friday, May 23, 2008

My first time being hit by a car.

(photo by Richard Masoner)

I guess it was inevitable that in all my multiple thousands of miles I've biked in L.A. in the past year, a run in with a car was bound to happen sometime with the way people drive here. Fortunately, in spite of flying over the handle bars at speed, I came out of it with only a sprained left thumb. Typing kind of sucks at the moment.

This was a classic case of the "right hook," one of the most common types of accidents involving a car and a cyclist. This is when a car turns into the path of a cyclist behind them without adequate time to slow, resulting in a forced evasive move by the cyclist.

I was moving at a speed almost as fast the car was traveling in the bike lane beside the car. The car turned it's signal on to make a right turn but only a moment before turning, and with the freak rainfall today, my breaks were not adequate to stop in time. I slammed into their side view mirror and flew off the bike and went into a roll across the ground.

I feel very fortunate it was not anymore serious then it was with only a week left until AIDS LifeCycle, which I've spent the better part of an entire year training for. I don't know what I'd do if I had to miss ALC. Although it's doubtful it will heal completely before the ride, a damaged left thumb is not going to keep me away.

The driver would not admit fault, however upon further research I also learned that besides the brief turn signal (which is hard to prove), the driver violated California Vehicle Code 21717, which specifies that a car is to enter the bike lane before making a turn, acknowledging it as another lane of traffic, rather then cutting across the lane from the left. It's too bad none of these safety concerns are actually in the drivers handbook or on the DMV's written test, but that is a whole other can of worms.

While we are on the topic of riders being hit, I would like to bring attention to my friend and teammate Randy Cruz, who was hit from behind and left bleeding in the street by the motorist recently. A friend was with her and made sure she was taken care of, and she is fine now. A few stitches, but no joints impacted and doctor said she will be good to ride. The driver was found by police hiding in a nearby parking lot. They however did not arrest the asslient for hit and run, which he clearly did according to vehicle code. More can be read in the recent LAist article on the incident, and contact info for officials who can be complained to for the lack of justice are provided in the comments.

Hopefully Randy and I will heal up quick, and I wish safe riding to everyone. Keep your eyes open and your helmet fastened.


SoapBoxLA said...

I'm glad to hear you made it with minor injuries. We're rooting for you and Randy and the rest of the team.

Gary said...

Thanks for the encouragement, and thanks for bringing media attention to Randy's case.

I've been talking with Alex T. and when the dust settles from ALC I want to get more directly involved in bike activism.

Richard G. said...

sux, but glad you are ok!