Tag Archive for bicycle collision

Friday’s ride, in which I met another bike rider the hard way

Okay, so I’m moving a little slow today.

August just hasn’t been my month as far as bike riding is concerned. Normally, I try to put in 100 to 150 miles a week this time of year, when increased fitness and summer weather usually combine for the year’s most enjoyable riding.

But various distractions have kept me off my bike much of the summer, to the point that I’ve averaged less than 30 miles a week for the past three weeks.

Part of that is due to last Friday’s limited ride, interrupted by a bike on bike collision on the bike path in Santa Monica, followed by a slow ride home with blood trickling down my leg.

Somehow, I failed to remember the alcohol swabs and bandages stashed in my seat bag. Or that the reason I shave my legs is precisely so bandages will adhere to them.

But that’s what happens when I break my own rules. 

First rule of thumb is to never ride the beachfront bike during the summer. And if I do, to do it in the morning when traffic on the pathway is at its lightest. 

But a late start meant a shorter ride than I had planned, while a lingering migraine suggested an easier route than the hill-filled one I’d penciled in earlier. Which led to the conclusion that an easy coast along the coast would be the best option to get at least a few miles in.

Then there’s my rule about avoiding the most crowded section of the pathway between the Venice and Santa Monica piers on Friday afternoons, when newly arrived tourists head straight to the beach, joining with locals who don’t appear to have been on a bike in years to form a rolling blockade and human obstacle course.

Don’t get me wrong. 

It’s not that they don’t have a right to be there, other than the chronically unenforced and inadequately marked bike-only sections. State law gives pedestrians a right to share the bike path — any bike path — anywhere there isn’t an alternative pedestrian walkway, such as the famed Venice Boardwalk, within a relatively few feet.

In fact, the newly restriped Santa Monica sections of the pathway include pedestrian walkways on either side of the bike path, though they aren’t adequately indicated as such.

It was a funny, but telling, moment at the most recent meeting of the LAPD’s bike task force when the subject of the beachfront Marvin Braude bikeway through Santa Monica and Venice came up. And the experienced bike cop next to me and I both said in unison that it was the single most dangerous place we ride.

Evidently, something about the presence of sand and sea air seems to disconnect the standard safety centers of the brain.

Or maybe it’s just the absence of sobriety that seems to go hand-in-hand with weekends at the beach.

Either way, it’s a risk I usually try to avoid. Except this time I didn’t.

Then there’s my third rule of thumb, which exceeds the standard allotment of opposable digits by roughly 50%, and forces me to use a finger in place of a thumb. Or borrow one from a total stranger, which seldom seems to be a good idea.

As an old school rider, I was taught to call it out whenever I pass another rider or pedestrian, with a simple “on your left” or “passing right” in the rare instance that the other person’s position makes that the safer option.

And yes, I know some people prefer bike bells. But a bell can only tell you a bike is present. Or an angel just got its wings.

Using my voice, I can tell them not only that I’m there, but that I am passing and which side I’m passing on.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that some people tend to get lost in their own world once they get to the beach. And even the most polite announcement can startle them.

So I’ll sometimes save my breath if I don’t think there’s any risk that they might move in front of me, or if I can give them at least the three-foot passing distance I’d expect from a motorist. Or if they’re wearing ear buds and aren’t likely to hear me anyway.

In this case, the bike path was just as crowded as you’d expect for a sunny summer Friday afternoon. And I was taking my time, both because of the crowds and my still aching head.

But even rolling far below my usual speed, I was still faster than the assorted beach cruisers and motley mountain bikes crowding the bikeway. So I’d wait patiently until there was a break in traffic coming the other way, then slide around the walkers and riders ahead of me, either calling it out as I passed or giving them as much room as I could.

And if the situation didn’t allow it, such as slowly working my way through the great mass of humanity jumbled before the skate park in Venice, I just didn’t pass until it was safe to do so.

It was an approach that got me safely, if slowly, through Venice Beach and well into Santa Monica, when I came upon a pair of casual cyclists riding slowly ahead.

So I moved onto the other side of the bike path, and was just deciding whether to call it out when the rider closest to me suddenly swung left, making a 90-degree turn directly in front of me.

I grabbed my brakes and swung left with him, but a collision was unavoidable.

We hit hard, my right impacting his left. Fortunately, we both managed to remain upright; somehow, though, I seemed to take the brunt of the impact. He was next to me in seconds, asking if I was okay and apologizing profusely, though he did say I should have called out that I was passing.

In retrospect, he was right. Although he turned before I had a chance to say something.

He and his bike seemed fine. Mine looked okay, other than a dropped chain.

On the other hand, I was pretty badly shaken, and both wrists hurt from holding the handlebars tightly at the moment of impact, but nothing seemed broken. Then there was a roughly two-square-inch abrasion inside my left knee, apparently from hitting the air pump I keep strapped to my frame.

The one I often find myself loaning to other riders after they run out of air cartridges or their cartridges fail to get the job done.

He seemed to expect me to be angry, but it was just one of those things. His failure to look before turning made a collision inevitable, but I could have done things differently, as well.

So we shook hands, and went our separate ways.

I probably shouldn’t have, though. My failure to even remember I had a first aid kit, let alone actually use it, was a pretty good indication I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I briefly debated continuing on my way before accepting that it probably wouldn’t be the best idea. Fortunately, I remembered yet another rule of thumb — after any collision or fall, you’re probably hurt more than you realize at the time, since injuries have a way of revealing themselves hours after the impact.

I have no idea how the other guy felt the next morning.

But I spent the weekend nursing a pair of jammed wrists and a stiff back. Not to mention a patch of knee missing its epidermis.

I’ll live.

All in all, I limped away — figuratively, anyway — in about as good a shape as I could have hoped under the circumstances. Had either of us hit the pavement, it might have been a different story.

But it serves as a reminder that the seeming safety of the bike path is an illusion. And you need to ride defensively every moment, because you never know when someone will do exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I did almost everything right.

And this time, it wasn’t nearly good enough.

Update: Bike rider dragged onto freeway in hit-and-run; win Schwinn bikes for two this month

Maybe you can figure this one out.

A series of cryptic CHP transmissions suggest that a cyclist — or possibly more than one — was run down by a hit-and-run driver near the L.A. Zoo around 11:30 Sunday. And horrifically, may have been dragged onto the freeway from the collision site on Zoo Drive.

Initial reports indicated that an older tan or white van fled the scene after hitting a security guard while making an illegal turn at the Zoo Drive onramp onto northbound I-5; the guard was reportedly directing traffic from his bicycle.

A few minutes later, however, a report came of a cyclist trapped under a gray Toyota Sienna on the I-5/134 transition. That report indicates the cyclist was hit at the top of the Zoo Drive onramp, then dragged onto the freeway as the van driver fled.

However, there may have been more than one vehicle involved, as the report says the Sienna does not appear to be related to the Zoo Drive traffic collision.

Hopefully, we’ll get more information to clear up the confusion soon.

And hopefully the security guard will bounce back from what sounds like a truly horrifying collision.

Update: Five days later, the story has finally appeared in the local press.

According to the Glendale News-Press, 36-year old L.A. resident Damian Kevitt — not a security guard — was riding west on Zoo Drive when the driver of an older gray Toyota Sienna made a sudden left turn in heavy traffic and struck the rider. 

Kevitt became trapped under the minivan, and was dragged 600 feet — the length of two football fields — as the driver continued south on the 5 Freeway without stopping.

A comment below says the victim ended up in the 2 lane of the freeway, where a motorist undoubtedly saved his life by stopping to protect him as he lay in front of high-speed traffic.

The writer, who identifies himself as a doctor at County Hospital, describes Kevitt’s injuries as the worst non-fatal injuries he’s ever seen. And correctly predicts that he would lose a leg.

The paper confirms Kevitt’s leg was amputated below the knee, and that he suffered a number of broken bones, as well as severe road rash on his chest and back — injuries the commenter described as “bone deep.”

The News-Press says the minivan had a For Sale sign in the rear window, with the partial phone number 213/XXX-0776.

Anyone with information is urged to call the CHP Altadena Station at 626/296-8100.

Best wishes to Damian Kevitt for a fast recovery.

Update 2: A writer claiming to be Kevitt’s uncle posted this on a gun owner’s forum:

Sunday, Feb. 17th my nephew Damian Kevitt was the victim of a hit & run and left for dead on the I-5 Frwy in Griffith Park. He has lost his right leg below the knee and the left is in limbo as to whether it will survive. Both his legs, arms, wrists, and multiple ribs are broken. He has broken and missing teeth and very little skin left. This is the most horrible hit & run I have heard of short of it being fatal. Please help us catch this disgusting person.

I couldn’t agree more. Whoever could do something like this deserves to do serious time.

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Okay, so I’m a little late with this one.

Schwinn is sponsoring a Valentine’s Month contest for bike lovers, in every sense of the term. Just visit Schwinn’s Facebook page before the end of the month — i.e., February 28th — and share your idea of the perfect rendezvous in their new Perfect Rendezvous Sweeps.

You could win a Schwinn Ladies’ Rendezvous and a men’s 4 One One bike, plus movie tickets and a gift card for your favorite restaurant.

Or two men’s or women’s bikes, if that’s more appropriate.

………

That’s one seriously anti-bike animal, as a spooked horse gets loose and trashes a Bassett bike shop, trampling 45 bikes in under a minute. Nearby host families are needed for the San Dimas Stage Race. Exploring Canyon County with the LACBC and the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles. Modesto police are looking for a strong-arm bikejacker. Napa High School students raise funds to continue a school bike club; every student who joins gets a bike, helmet and cleats if needed.

The judge rejects a plea deal in the Colorado horn-honking road rage case because the victims weren’t consulted; link courtesy of Cyclclicious. Fat bikes are taking over winter riding. Iowa considers a three-foot passing law; hopefully, their governor is somewhat more enlightened than ours. Rockford IL plans to convert abandoned railways into bike trails. Even in Fort Worth, roads go on diets and bike lanes go in. A teenage Massachusetts cyclist talks his high school into forming a one-person bicycling team so he can continue to compete. Evidently, biking to work doesn’t pass the national security test when you’re the new White House Chief of Staff. Drunken Florida driver kills cyclist, then sideswipes three cars before hitting a fourth head-on as he tried to flee.

Canadian man busted for riding a gas-powered scooter disguised as an e-bike. Bristol England police are trying to identify a mountain biker who was seriously injured when he came off his bike; this is why you always carry ID when you ride, right? How to get hooked on bicycling. Somehow, a Scottish boy gets his legs trapped in his bike. Confessions of a formerly arrogant Kiwi cyclist. A New Zealand truck driver loses his license for eight months for playing chicken with some unwilling cyclists, in full view of an off-duty cop who evidently failed to do anything about it for 40 km; thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up. An Aussie driver runs into a cyclist, then gets out and punches him in the face. A British couple are killed by a pickup in Thailand while riding around the world; they had chronicled their journey on the blog Two on Four Wheels. A look at safe cycling in Kuala Lumpur.

Finally, a new laser GPS design promises to improve safety by projecting directions onto the road in front of you. And an Ohio writer asks why waste money on deer crossing signs when animals can’t read and won’t obey the law anyway?

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This might explain that awful grinding noise from my bottom bracket the other day; Chris at Westwood Helen's says my bike will be back on it's feet in no time.

This might explain that awful grinding noise from my bottom bracket the other day; Chris at Westwood Helen’s says my bike will be back on it’s feet in a few days.

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