Commuter Story: A story of a crash

Mike, a regular commenter here at Commute by Bike, got hit by a truck a couple days ago. It’s a scary story, mainly because it sounds like he was doing everything right.

Here it is in his words:

I was doing my normal commute, which I’ve done since 11/1/06. Most of it is lightly traveled road, but there’s a 3/4 mile section which is 45mph 2 lane. It’s not usually a problem.

Yesterday was different. Some guy in a truck with towing mirrors was following the car in front of him too closely (he said) and when she swerved to get around me (I take the lane, at least 18 inches) he didn’t see what she was swerving for and he hit me in the head with his towing mirror. All I remember is doing a flip and then waking up on the ground. Luckily my brother’s fiancee was on her way to work, saw me, and stopped to hold my hand. I have been told that I spoke to several people on my cell phone, but I remember none of the calls. I believe I was knocked unconscious before I hit the ground. The driver stopped and sat with me until EMS showed up, as did an off-duty nurse and five cops, highway patrol included. The driver got a ticket for “improper pass”, and the trooper said I was crazy for riding on that road when he visited me in the ER.

I spent three hours strapped to a backboard while they took a CAT scan and xrays of everything on my left side. Nothing’s broken, no concussion, not even a suture. HOWEVER, my left elbow is scraped and looks like hamburger, as does my left calf, the back of my head, and my left buttock. My left calf is swollen to the size of a softball. I think it must have been impacted by my pedal, as I can make out a pedal shaped bruise. My left buttock is deeply bruised and is purple. I was wearing my helmet, which in this case was an excellent idea.

My bike came through pretty well. Judging by its appearance, I believe I flipped over and augured the brake hoods into the ground, bending them both inward. The hoods are scraped up, the front fender is broken, and the fender quick releases were both popped loose. There is a big chip out of the paint on the top tube, and the left fold out pannier of my Topeak bag is totally ripped off. I’m lucky to be alive, but my bike is out of commission for a while.

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0 thoughts on “Commuter Story: A story of a crash”

  1. Paul of N.W. GA says:

    I am glad you were wearing a helmet. I am even more so you are not any worse and you had someone stop to support you right after the wreck.
    What makes me upset, is there is no driver education in most places. I have people tell me they almost hit me because they did not see me. When I took drivers ED in high school, I was told to always except someone to be there. And the officer was wrong, it was the motorist’s way of driving that was crazy.

    I have had motorist were I live pass with-in inches in front of local police and did nothing, till about a month ago, they told me I am crazy for using roads legally.

    I do hope that it was an accident, I have had motorist tell me they were trying to hit me.

    You can get a new bike, I am just plain glad to hear as bad as it is, your going to be OK.
    May you have a speed recovery and resume biking one day soon.

    I am a car-free cyclist, I will never hurt anyone again.

    Our children are going to pay for our car-culture.

  2. b3ksmith says:

    Sorry about the crash. I hope you heal fast.

    You are entitled to be compensated for the accident…it is no different than
    a car vs. car accident.

    Keep a record of all medical bills, hours missed at work, and any other expenses relevant to the accident. Contact an attorney (personal injury board certified preferably) Take your bike to a shop and get an estimate of the costs to repair your bike. Get names, addresses, phone numbers of witnesses.

    The least you should recover is the cost to repair you bike, medical expenses and
    any lost wages. Also, look into you car insurance policy, it may cover unisured or underinsured drivers in an accident (mine did!)

    Exercise your rights and GET BACK ON THE BIKE!

    Good Luck

  3. Jett says:

    Here’s wishing a speedy recovery.

    After I had my collision with a car, there was a 2-3 week period where I could feel my fear rise in similar situations. It didn’t take long after getting back out there though, for this to turn into a healthy alertness.

    It looks like +1 for helmets.

  4. jd says:

    Heal fast mate.

  5. Fritz says:

    Glad you’re relatively okay, Mike. Nice of Mr. Cop to blame the victim :-/ Get well!

  6. Holy crap! I’m speechless.

    Recover well Mike.

  7. Russ says:

    Dude, Get better soon and keep riding…. RUss

  8. Noah says:

    Hey Mike! I saw your post on BikeForums as well. I also recently had a run-in with a vehicle. I missed the pickup but got run off the road. I still white-knuckle when cars pass to close; It’s changed the way I ride and definitely reduced my road-riding confidence.

    Like you, the helmet’s the only reason I escaped as well off as I did. Heal up and get back out there! They never caught the guy who ran me off the road. I had to foot the bill for all of my co-pays. Fortunately I had dental and medical coverage to help offset the brunt of the expenses, and my bike fared pretty well through the whole thing.

  9. Chris says:

    It is really good you were wearing your helmet. I always wear a helmet, even just for a 5 min ride to the local coffee shop or such.

    BTW, I work in a Trauma Center as a Respiratory Therapist. Our ED gets a lot of car accidents, motorcycle accidents and bicycle accidents. Some of those people that fair the best are those that use seat belts and helments. And those who do not use helmets when riding thier motorbikes or bicycles don’t do to well at all. I can think of two cases in particular involving two wheeled forms of transportation where the patients survived, but let’s just say they won’t be doing any long division in the future.

    Glad your ok.

  10. Jose Casillas says:

    Glad you are OK, get better soon.

  11. Mike in Florida says:

    Well, here we are 5 days after I was hit. My left calf is 18 inches around and various shades of blue, black, and yellow—my right one is 15.5 inches. My left buttock is bruised from my hip to just below the curve of the glute—also purple. Amazingly, nothing is broken. The ER doc attributed that to my years of strength training, as I carry a lot of upper body muscle and my bones are dense because of it. Well, the fact that I was unconscious before I hit the ground may have a lot to do with it, too. I think that if I was awake I would likely have tried to brace for impact and broken my wrists and collarbones.

    The bike goes to the shop tomorrow. It actually looks pretty good. It is a shame that I lost so many accessories, but the driver’s insurance company told me replacing whatever I say I lost is no problem.

    I’m lucky to be alive.

  12. Apertome says:

    Oh wow … it’s terrible that this happened, but I do think things would have been a lot worse if you hadn’t been doing everything right. I’m glad you’re OK and recovering.

    It’s unbelievable that the cop told you that you were being crazy. I ride on roads like that frequently, and usually have no problems.

    I hope you heal quickly — good luck!

  13. Mike in Florida says:

    I feel physically OK. Nothing’s broken, no major injuries, just deep bruises on my butt and left calf. It’s a week tomorrow and nothing seems too out of sorts. I was cleared by the ER doc—no concussion, no broken bones, not even a suture. So since I feel OK I contacted the driver’s insurance company. Believe me, if I thought ANYTHING was out of sorts I would have an attorney. But I work in the medical field and am good friends with a bunch of doctors. They all are of the mindset that I’ve suffered no serious injury. Just deep bruises, much like I suffered when I played sports in high school.

    They sent an adjuster out today to meet with me. We exchanged information, and here’s the gist of it. His insurance company will pay my medical expenses. The adjuster spoke with me and viewed my injuries, and cut me a check for $4000, but also put down in writing that any future medical issues from the accident will be covered by them. I compiled a list of the accessories I lost in the crash(jersey, shorts, DiNotte light, rack trunk, panniers) and she said they will happily pay for those, plus whatever estimate my LBS gives me. At a minimum, the frame will need to be repainted, so that gets sent back to Gunnar. The LBS will need to replace my Noodle Bar, my fenders, my rack, both brake levers, and my bar tape. If Gunnar says I need a new frame then that’s how we will go. The adjuster actually offered to buy my bike outright, but I have an attachment to it and would much rather just get it repainted if it’s OK. That may not have been the most logical decision, but I like the bike.


  14. Trent says:

    Glad you made it through all of that, sounds terrible…

    oh, and I can definately relate to wanting to keep the bike if possible, I’m very attached to my ride.

    I could not help notice the comment about the cop telling you your crazy for riding your bike… Thats absurd… Peoples mindsets towards cyclists need to change in America. People need to get out of their gas guzzlers and get on their bikes more often…

    I’m glad I live in Boulder, for the most part drivers are pretty good about sharing the road.. I still have had some experiences where people have swurved towards me as if to give me a hint to get on a side walk… Nothing Urks me more while I’m riding!

    Keep on Commuting!!

  15. Sascha says:

    Wow, glad to hear you and your bike will recover!

    I had a similar experience on my commute this winter minus the pain. My close call made me pay attention to the “def/dumb/blind swerve.” As I turned onto a busy road from the bike path after stopping at my stop sign, the 1st driver swerved violently into the middle of the road and the 2nd driver cut over to the shoulder where I was to get around. Luckilly I wasn’t moving fast and was able to hop off the side of the road. I now have a mirror and keep a much better eye on the drivers behind me.

    Driver education seems like a great start, I get links to eurpoean bike safety commercials all the time but “odly” no US ones! Drivers (and police) don’t seem to know bike laws exist so why not spend some money educating, advocating and posting signs? Oh yeah, that might cause us to use less oil!


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