Surviving a Sunday Westside right hook — a first person account from the lucky cyclist involved

Sometimes it’s better to start at the end.

So let me start by saying that Michael Eisenberg is okay. Which is not what you’d expect after reading his description of the right hook collision he suffered on Sunday while riding his bike through Brentwood on his way to the Marina.

But we’ll let him tell the story.

I am very lucky. I was riding my road bike from home near the Chatsworth reservoir to Marina Del Rey today (Sunday) to go sailing. At noon, I was westbound on Sunset Blvd looking to make a left on Kenter Avenue.

There was too much traffic to work over to the left turn lane, so I chose to do what I thought was the safest alternative. I pedaled across Kenter, stopped at the corner, and waited for the traffic light to change so I could then cross Sunset. I could see a line of cars in the lane behind me with a Toyota Prius at the head of the line.  I did not see a right turn flasher.

The light changed, and I proceeded to cross Sunset. The next thing I remember is my shoes disengaging from the pedals of my bike followed by me slamming into the windshield of the Toyota Prius. My next recollection was of lying in the middle of Sunset Blvd, about 10 feet away from the Prius and my bike another 10 feet farther down the street.

I was surrounded by bystanders.  One was a cyclist who was an EMT asking me who the president of the United States is. Another bystander was a Doctor, and he started a basic neurological evaluation. LA City Fire arrived shortly afterwards, I’d guess within 2 minutes. LAPD arrived Code 3 in another 5 minutes. Fortunately, this was not a hit & run, as the 75 year old female driver of the Prius was a little shaken up.

The LA City Fire EMTs could not find any injuries, and I was feeling little discomfort. The most interesting anomaly was that my heart rate monitor had recorded an instantaneous jump from 70 to 160 at the moment of impact. For better or worse, I decided to decline a ride to the hospital. It was then the LAPD’s turn to write the accident report. I didn’t actually see the report, I only received an incident receipt to use to acquire the report in the future. I did mention to the female Prius driver, while standing next to the LAPD officer, that if her handicap placard wasn’t hanging from her rear view mirror obstructing her vision she probably could have seen me.

When all the paperwork was done, I checked my bike and equipment and found everything to be scuffed or cracked. My 2 month old BH Prisma Force looked trashed, but still operable. My Specialized helmet, gloves and carbon shoes were all scuffed. They all did their job blunting the impact and receiving road rash, saving my skull and skin from being injured.

I finished up the last 5 miles of my ride to the Marina. By that time there were various parts of my body (hip, calf, neck) that were causing me just a little discomfort. I elected to get a ride from my son to Kaiser for a quick check. That is where I received the biggest assault to my dignity. The Doctor came into the examining room, and said “I see you ran into a car”. I politely corrected him, and he then said “the nurse wrote down that you ran into a car, so you must have run into a car.” I felt I was being branded as guilty because I am a cyclist.

Anyway, X-rays showed nothing to be concerned about. The recommendation was to take it easy for 3 days, with application of an ice pack as necessary on my neck for a mild strain. The next step for me is to contact the Prius driver’s insurance company and see what they are going to do about replacing my bike and gear.

As Michael says, he was lucky.

And yes, it sounds like he did exactly what he should have done. I usually try to use the left turn lane to make a left, but when traffic conditions or a dangerous intersection make that too risky, I’ll make the same sort of L turn he did. I try to position myself just in front of the right fender of the lead car at the intersection, or just in front and to its left if it’s making a turn.

The problem comes when drivers too often don’t indicate they’re turning. Combine that with an obstructed view from behind, and you’ve got a situation where you can do everything right, and still get hurt.

It will be interesting to see if the police report agrees when he gets a copy.

………

Herb Meyerowitz forwards a flyer he received while trying to enter the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park, a popular parking spot for cyclists preparing to ride PCH.

I’ve been aware for some time that Malibu was considering asking cyclists to park elsewhere in order to leave sufficient space for other park visitors; complaints have been made that we hog too many weekend parking spaces, leaving little room for actual park visitors.

However, this is the first I’ve heard that they’re actually attempting to herd bike riders Webster Elementary School.

It seems like a reasonable request — especially with the promise that restrooms and water will be made available to riders.

Let me know how it works out if you give it a try.

………

Tragedy strikes the annual LoToJa race as a rider falls off a bridge to his death on Sunday.

According to multiple sources, Robert Verhaaren, a 42-year old father from Mesa, Arizona, reportedly swerved to avoid a pothole on over a Snake River bridge in Wyoming. He lost control, hit the guardrail and went over the side of the bridge, falling 35 feet to his death.

The 206 mile ride from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the longest race sanctioned by USA Cycling; tragically, Verhaaren died just eight miles from the finish line.

………

The victim in last weekend’s Topanga Canyon hit-and-run has been identified as 60-year old Gary Morris of Van Nuys. Police are looking for a 1996 to 2000 Land Rover with possible damage to the right front. Anyone with information should call CHP Investigator Brooke Covington at 818-888-0980, ext. 228.

………

A Denver cyclist says traffic laws weren’t made for cyclists. And uses that as justification for breaking them.

Meanwhile, an Asheville writer says cyclists have to give a little, too.

………

A hyperventilating commenter on an earlier story says cyclists are crazy to ride on major roads, where speeding cars pass them by just inches.

Do I really need to say I disagree?

………

Former doper tainted meat eater Alberto Contador makes a dramatic comeback by winning his second Vuelta; fellow Spaniards Alejandro Valverede and Joaquin Rodriguez finish second and third, respectively.

………

Finally, a writer for the London Mail rips the cycling world a new one — especially the life-threatening Lycra louts she claims hit her elderly mother twice in just three weeks. Only problem is, she wrote almost exactly the same story two years ago; thanks to UK bike scribe Carlton Reid for the links.

5 comments

  1. Joe B says:

    As hard as it may be to do, it would be a very good idea for Michael to retire his Prisma. His bike likely has small cracks in the frame from the impact. Carbon fiber is a fragile substance and, when it fails, it tends to fail spectacularly.

  2. TWC says:

    I’m glad Michael is OK. I hope he was assertive about getting the medical record changed to show that the car hit him rather than him hitting the car. If this were to ever end up in court, that medical record, as originally written, won’t do him any favors.

  3. TQ says:

    “The LA City EMTs could not find any injuries” is a terrifying statement. Any monkey provided the data “significant mechanism of injury” with “loss of consciousness” will assess a brain injury. Failure to do so would be ripped to shreds in court if a liability issue arose; that’s why the medics got that signature on the AMA (the paperwork indicating a conscious patient is willfully denying recommended medical care.)

    Although it’s a relief to read that Mr. Eisenberg did seek care after all, I strongly agree with the previous commenter that Mr. Eisenberg should contact the inexcusably lazy doctor who examined him to correct the inaccurate information inserted into his medical record. Kaiser should be contacted as well; such sloppiness negatively impacts patient care and skews data collected for statistics.

    On the bright side, it’s time to shop for a new bike & helmet, paid for by Ms. Magoo’s auto insurance, of course!

  4. Mike_Yanagita says:

    The Armstrong/Contador partisanship is not a good look.

  5. Wes Oishi says:

    “westbound on Sunset Blvd”. I am surprised he made it that far.

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