My July 1, 2018 bicycle ride started like any other. Our home was busy with company, I needed some me time. I told my husband I was going for a short ride, put on my helmet, ROAD iD, bright yellow vest and gloves, checked my bike, and hopped on for a much needed spin.
The roads were quiet and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Three miles from home, I came to an intersection requiring cross traffic to stop. I could see a car approaching, fast, from my right. I kept my eye on the vehicle, slowed down, and began to plan my escape if the driver didn’t stop. I covered my brakes, and moved towards the middle of my lane to be more visible and create additional space between me and the car.
Unfortunately, the driver ran the stop sign, and turned left directly into me. No escape! After bouncing off the car’s hood, I slammed onto the pavement, breaking my helmet. The driver jumped out of her car and came to check on me. The first words out of her mouth were, “I didn’t see you.” Really!
I asked the driver to call the police and my husband, Peter. She did, but the first words out of her mouth to Peter were, “I just hit your wife with my car.” Silence. I can’t imagine what was going through Peter’s head. I told the driver to give me the phone, and I explained what had happened.
What should you do if you are hit by a car while bicycling?
- Always assume you are injured - the force of the impact is extreme due to the weight of the car.
- Immediately seek medical attention. Call an ambulance (preferable) or go directly to the hospital.
- Always report the incident to the police at the time of the crash.
- Get a copy of the police report, it will include the drivers name and insurance information.
- Consider hiring an attorney to represent you. It is a difficult time and the last thing you want to do is take calls from the motorist’s insurance company. It can be very stressful.
I suffered a concussion and was not thinking clearly after my crash. I should have gone straight to the hospital. Instead, I went to the doctor the next day. After much thought, I ultimately hired an attorney to represent me, and I am glad I did.
Have a plan in case you are involved in a crash. Know what you will do, who you will call, etc.
My ROAD iD is always on when I bicycle, run or walk. I have worn a ROAD iD since 1999, the year they became a company. It is preferable to have your ID on you; in a crash you and your bicycle may become separated. The ROAD iD is ideal because it is commonly worn on the wrist and visible to anyone trying to help you.
When the officer arrived at the scene of my crash, I simply handed him my ROAD iD and he was able to get all the information he needed. The ID definitely made his job easier and the crash a bit less stressful.
Whiplash, concussion, right leg bruising, and left knee meniscus tear were the result of the driver “not seeing” me. This crash was a direct result of a motorist disobeying a stop sign and failing to yield the right of way. She got tickets for both.
A bicyclist can do several things to reduce the chance of being in this type of crash, or at least lessen the severity.
- Wear bright-colored clothing and always use lights.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, scan for any potential conflicts.
- Be ready to take evasive action.
Motorists need to be educated about the importance of following the rules of the road and sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorists need to come to a complete stop and look left-right-left for other road users; motor vehicles, bicyclists, and walkers.
If the driver in my crash had done this, I would not have been hit.
I’m not special, but there is definitely some irony to my crash. Peter and I own and operate a national bicycle/pedestrian safety consulting business, WE BIKE, etc., LLC. I have over 100,000 crash-free miles on my bicycle, and have successfully completed three self-supported cross-country trips on our tandem. Peter and I even wrote a book, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem: Our Adventure Crossing the USA on a Bicycle Built for Two.” The book chronicles our 2014 bicycle trip from Bellingham, Washington to Bar Harbor, Maine. Our 72-day adventure covered 4,362 miles.
Through our business, I teach fellow bicyclists how to improve their safety. My teaching includes the Head to Toe check, a great way to make sure you are ready to ride. Do I have my helmet on, is it on properly, bicycle gloves, ROAD iD, appropriate shoes, and are the shoe laces secured, etc.? The ABC Quick Check is a simple way to make sure your bicycle is in good working order. I also suggest bicyclists take a bicycle safety class, like the League of American Bicyclists’ Smart Cycling course. This course will teach you to ride more safely in a variety of environments and enjoy bicycling more.
I am excited to get out on my bike again, but also anxious. The few times I’ve ridden since the crash, I was hyper aware of the cars around me. I hope this will fade with time. Plans are to start out with short rides on quiet streets and trails. Once I feel comfortable, I will try longer rides on busier roads. I will need to retrain myself and will work on the skills learned through the League’s Smart Cycling course. These things should help me to get both my skills and my confidence back.
I am on the road to recovery. Good medical care, therapy, and a positive attitude are helping me move forward. If all goes as planned, I will be back on my bike in early October and bicycling across the country again in the spring of 2019. We only have 20 states to go. I can’t wait!
Motivation is a huge part of recovery. I think I’ll treat myself to some new biking clothes and a new ROAD iD. After the summer I’ve had, I deserve it!
Tracy and Peter Flucke own WE BIKE, etc. LLC. Check out their book “Coast to Coast on a Tandem,” to learn more about the couple and their first big adventure.