fredrikegerman: (bicycle)
[personal profile] fredrikegerman
In spite of my user pic, I haven't gone over the handlebars of a bicycle since I was a kid, and possibly not even then (I remember [ profile] tomatoe going over the bars of my ten speed, but I'm pretty sure I never did so on that bike, and that might have been the first bike I owned with a front brake).

Until today.

I was riding down Beacon St. in Somerville, headed down the hill past Star on my way to work. Because of the tragic seven-alarm fire early this morning a bit further along, traffic was backed up on my side of the road, but there's a marked bike lane there and there were several cyclists riding past the cars. Then someone in a white BMW pulled through the jammed traffic and directly across the bike path in front of me. I panic-stopped and wound up lying in the road in the middle of the side street intersection. The guy immediately behind me had the presence of mind to catch the license plate of the car before it – yes – drove off. He also had 911 on the line before I'd gotten my breath back.

I was pretty lucky, actually. I was wearing a helmet, and only grazed the front. The most visible wound is a nasty abrasion on my chin that means I won't be shaving for a few weeks. I bruised my knees and shoulder, and cut my left thumb and right palm (I was wearing bike gloves). Apparently I favor rolling right. By the time the cops and ambulance showed up I mostly just wanted to swab off and report the accident. If I'd been wearing shorts (as I was all last week) I would've been a mess of road rash.

The thing that leaves me the most pissed off is the fact that the driver never stopped. Apparently if I'd decided to just barrel into the car itself it could be charged as a hit and run. Silly me for not ending up under the wheels.

I wasn't riding my usual bike today – I was riding my mountain bike as I'd taken it to an offsite yesterday and it'd gotten caught in the rain. I'd hoped to work the new chain lube in before switching back to my commuting bike. I'm not sure if I'd have made the stop on the other bike; I suspect it would have been easier to stay in the seat as I end up with a straighter arm position on the drop handlebars, and with my weight further back over the rear wheel (the way to keep from going over your handlebars is to straighten your arms and throw your center backwards, but if you panic-stop hard enough and lock your front wheel you won't have time to shift into position). I might have ended up just plowing into the car instead, though, for all I know.

One other observation: once you're over the bars, your bike has almost no momentum left. Kind of surreal to watch your bike falling down as you keep flying over it.

I guess it's been several years since I was in a bike accident of any sort, and most of those have been pretty minor. Maybe my number was up.

Date: 2013-07-26 03:04 am (UTC)
dcltdw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dcltdw
Eeep! Glad to hear you're okay!

Did the cops have any comment about the BMW? I.e., is it actionable? If not, gimme the license plate so that cosmic baseball bats can do their karmic thing.

Date: 2013-07-26 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The cop said that because I had not, in fact, gone flying *into* the car, it wasn't actionable. Read into that what you will.

Date: 2013-07-26 02:26 pm (UTC)
dcltdw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dcltdw
\familybusiness{So.... wot you're sayin' is dat Bugsy might hafta, ya know, pay 'im a leetle visit, eh? Eh, Bugsy?}

Date: 2013-07-27 01:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not certain I'd take the cop's word on this. If the driver's (illegal?) actions caused your accident, I believe there is liability even if there was no direct impact. You could file an accident report at least. You might want to consult with MassBike if you wish to pursue it; if the officer was wrong the police station should be informed about the incident. Officer education on relevant laws is fairly variable.

Sorry to hear about this. =\

Date: 2013-07-28 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree with Tom, that the police officer's statement that it was not actionable seems somewhat implausible. Certainly if you were driving along in a car and the BMW swerved into your lane, and you stopped and skidded into a ditch, it seems like he should have been liable for damages to you and your car.

Date: 2013-07-29 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If a BMW swerved into your lane and you hit him from behind with your car, you would be at fault, not the BMW.

It's not clear to me exactly what the situation was in this incident, but while many bicyclists seem to assume that cars have all the responsibility for allowing bicyclists to proceed at speed all the time, that isn't actually the case. In theory, bicyclists are supposed to obey all the traffic rules that drivers do.

Date: 2013-07-29 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am not convinced that cars automatically get the right of way when they turn across moving traffic. I think you're mistaking two cars moving in the same direction (the car behind is at fault if it hits the front car) with the case in which one car turns across the straight path of another (in which case the turning car is generally at fault).

Date: 2013-07-29 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, just to be perfectly clear, the car was going in the opposite direction, and turned left across the lane of traffic to my left and across my lane (which was a marked bike lane). My understanding was that in a car on car situation the turning car would be at fault unless the proceeding car was moving against a signal.

Date: 2013-07-26 03:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oof, I'm glad you're mostly all right. I haven't gone over the handlebars since I was twelve (and I was really asking for it: dangling my feet near the front wheel while coasting down a steep hill).

Date: 2013-07-26 03:55 am (UTC)
kelkyag: A cluster of red-blushed yellow apples on a tree (apples)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
I'm very glad you're no worse than scraped! Much appreciation to the guy behind you who did all the right things.

Will the police have a talk with the owner of that vehicle, even if there are no charges involved?

Date: 2013-07-26 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I got the impression no, which was pretty discouraging. It would be nice to think they got a stern talking-to about leaving the scene of an accident.

Date: 2013-07-26 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yikes, glad you are ok

Date: 2013-07-26 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad you're alright. The BMW driver should be horsewhipped.

Date: 2013-07-26 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was pretty much the opinion of the guy following me, too. I'm inclined to agree, but was shaken enough to restrain the impulse to say it at the time.

Date: 2013-07-26 11:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad it wasn't worse. I'm guessing the BMW didn't stop because he never knew you were there, you know, because getting were he was going was more important than checking the other lane before swerving into it.

Date: 2013-07-26 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aieeeee, argh!

Glad you are okay-ish. ++ to the quick-thinking guy behind you. -- to the BMW driver. Sheesh.

Date: 2013-07-26 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, glad you didn't break a collarbone or something...

Date: 2013-07-26 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yikes! Will you have a rakish scar?

Date: 2013-07-26 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Probably not. But a really nasty abrasion can take ages to clear up. You may get to see why I don't normally sport a beard.

Date: 2013-07-26 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So what happens to the BMW? Will the police give you his ID in case you wanted to sue or something? I doubt you would, just wondering if they give you the info.

Date: 2013-07-26 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't tried asking for the accident report, but I'm guessing I don't just get the license-plate database result I fear.

Date: 2013-07-26 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Uff. Glad you're ok.

Date: 2013-07-26 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yikes! D: Glad you're in one piece. @_@

Date: 2013-07-26 11:31 pm (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Holy crap. I'm glad you weren't worse hurt, and sorry you were hurt as much as you were.

Date: 2013-07-27 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yikes!! Glad you're okay!

Date: 2013-07-27 02:21 am (UTC)
ilai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ilai
Yeek, that sounds scary. I'm glad to hear you're doing okay. *sends angry hate waves at white BMW*

Date: 2013-07-27 11:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ouch, I am glad you are mostly okay. I am sending thoughtwaves of doom towards the white BMW.

Date: 2013-07-28 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ouch, glad you're okay. You probably know this, but if impacted your helmet at all. you're supposed to replace it.

Date: 2013-07-28 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just bought a new helmet this afternoon, in fact. I don't think it impacted the old one much, but why take the chance? And it's 20% off week at Ace Wheelworks. :-)

Date: 2013-07-28 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad you're okay. I hadn't realized form your comment on the G+ post about that fire that it was actually a somewhat serious bike accident that you were in. Ugh.

Date: 2013-07-29 01:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] michael andresen (from
Oof! Last time I went over the handlebars, it was on my motorcycle in California. My face hit the pavement, too, but the helmet saved the day. Perhaps you will consider swapping bicycle helmet for full-face motorcycle helmet. Or compromise and just wear a catcher's mask?
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