Lunchtime update: slightly pavement-battered

2007-11-01

in Daily updates, Ottawa, Rants, The outdoors

Last night, a car heading east on Rideau Street decided that it was a good idea to make a right turn at speed without signaling or checking if there were any cyclists behind them and to the right. On the positive side, I learned that the brakes on my bike are very effective. On the negative side, the forward momentum of my bike, body, and panniers was more than enough to throw me over my handlebars: feet still set in the cages on my pedals. Naturally, the car didn’t even slow down.

I actually managed to land pretty well, taking the bulk of the force with my right arm. Still, I managed to bruise my arm and ribs, as well as give my elbow joint a painful knock. My wrist and jaw are also somewhat sore, as a result of their contributions to the nullification of my forward and downward momentum. A group of drunken men dressed as Smurfs gave me a round of applause when I stood up (it was 8pm on Halloween).

I was impressed to see how durable my MEC Aegis jacket really is: despite my entire weight and that of the bike and despite scraping along for a few feet, it is not visibly worn. Irksomely, my bike no longer shifts properly into higher gear. Making it do so requires much more force than before, and sometimes requires shifting twice, waiting for the first shift to actually happen, and then preventing the second shift.

I will take it to the bike store over the weekend to see if they can return it to normal functionality. The uber-smooth gear shifting was one of my favourite aspects of the new bike.

[Update: 3 November 2007] I had my ribs checked out and the obvious was confirmed: they are not broken but may be fractured. If they still hurt in a month, the latter possibility will be confirmed. They could hurt for as long as six months.

The shifting on my bike seems to have largely been fixed simply on the basis of riding around. It isn’t perfectly smooth, but it is adequately reliable. Nonetheless, I will take the bike in for a tune-up soon.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Alena Prazak November 1, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I am so sorry that you had this experience. It is my recurring nightmare that one of my loved ones will be hurt on a bike. In fact, I just spoke about it yesterday. Pehaps you should go to the doctor just to make sure that there is no internal damage. Perhaps a little physio or massage would also help. If you report it as a hit and run, I am sure that you are entitled to some physio from ICBC. I am thankful that it wasn’t worse.

R.K. November 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm
R.K. November 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Sorry to hear about the fall. Crazy drivers are just something cyclists need to deal with.

Ben November 1, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Too many car drivers like that. Did you actually hit the car, or just fall over due to breaking? It’d be nice if you’d at least damaged his paintwork…

Milan November 1, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Ben,

There were always a couple of feet between me and the car. I don’t think the driver noticed I was there at any point before, during, or after the turn.

Oleh Ilnyckyj November 1, 2007 at 6:41 pm

We can never have too much illumination as cyclists, or people.

Tristan November 1, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Just on the topic of the bike,

It would be good to know how to adjust the shifters yourself. It would make you much more self-sufficient. The essence of biking is self-sufficiency.

Milan November 1, 2007 at 7:06 pm

We can never have too much illumination as cyclists, or people.

So it would seem.

Tristan,

Having examined the derailleur, I see that it was actually physically damaged by the accident. The underside of the metal is scored from where it got drawn across the pavement.

As such, it is not just a matter of adjusting cables to repair.

The essence of biking is self-sufficiency.

This is far too sweeping a statement to be defensible. People who live in cities and can pretty easily walk anywhere they would prefer to ride don’t need to be self-sufficient in bicycle maintenance. You may enjoy fiddling with bikes (far more than I do), but that hardly makes such behaviour essential to cycling.

Emily Horn November 1, 2007 at 8:40 pm

Poor kid.. It’s lucky you didn’t break anything!

Do you have reflective gear (armbands, etc.) that you could wear to warn bastard absentminded drivers that you’re coming?

I wish I could drop-kick the driver. Grr.

Edward November 1, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Milan,

I’m very sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience. Drivers in Ontario (my personal experience being those in Kingston) are not very bicycle friendly. Sometimes not very pedestrian friendly, either.

Even at UBC, where they see more than a fair share of cyclists, not every driver regards cyclists as deserving of road space. I nearly got nailed by a car on campus less than a week before my MCATs and ended up with a really swollen writing hand (I somehow got through with painkillers and funny penmanship). Not much of a surprise, the driver didn’t stop either. And it was in broad daylight too.

We really need designated paths for cyclists. A lot of drivers exercise due care around cyclists, but all it takes is one careless one to cause a disastrous outcome.

Hope your injuries heal up soon. I know getting x-rays are a pain to get, but they might be worthwhile just to make sure you haven’t missed something. Pain alone isn’t always the best indicator of fractures.

Edward

Milan November 1, 2007 at 11:04 pm

Do you have reflective gear (armbands, etc.) that you could wear to warn bastard absentminded drivers that you’re coming?

I had two flashing red lights: one with three LEDs and the other with a whopping seven (facing at different angles). I was wearing a bright red jacket, along with red panniers with reflective strips, and a helmet with a reflective portion on the back. I also had a bright 3 LED white front light.

The driver simply saw that the road all around the intersection was devoid of cars and completely disregarded the possibility of other vehicles.

Milan November 1, 2007 at 11:10 pm

We really need designated paths for cyclists. A lot of drivers exercise due care around cyclists, but all it takes is one careless one to cause a disastrous outcome.

The problem, in this case, is a lack of bicycle path connectedness. You can go all the way from Booth St to the locks near Parliament on an excellent bike path. From there, you can follow the Canal along another one. There is simply no easy way to get from the Rideau locks into the Sandy Hill area without spending some time on busy roads with strange intersections.

I know getting x-rays are a pain to get, but they might be worthwhile just to make sure you haven’t missed something. Pain alone isn’t always the best indicator of fractures.

If I find myself with any problems that linger beyond a few days, I will definitely get things investigated.

The combination of pavement bruises and healing bedbug bites is an annoying one.

Milan November 1, 2007 at 11:24 pm

This crude map shows what I mean about the bike paths

Red zones are especially bad areas in which to cycle.

Green zones are dedicated bike paths.

The incident described above happens where the green system of bike paths goes under the red road that is Rideau Street. Going right under Rideau is no problem, but crossing it is a real pain.

Milan November 1, 2007 at 11:33 pm

One quick general message: My thanks to everyone for your sympathy and concern. I am really not particularly injured, and am more annoyed about the damage to my bike than the damage to my body. Still, thanks for coming out in such force: first-time commenters and all.

R.K. November 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm

You may enjoy fiddling with bikes (far more than I do), but that hardly makes such behaviour essential to cycling.

I am surprised you aren’t keen on the technical side of bicycles. You seem keen on all other things technical.

Milan November 2, 2007 at 12:00 am

I am surprised you aren’t keen on the technical side of bicycles. You seem keen on all other things technical.

I have never been overly keen on physical tinkering. At the moment, my technical skills are being applied to learning the many nuances of TextMate.

Litty November 2, 2007 at 1:27 am

You could cycle past Rideau and along the canal to the pedestrian bridge. It’s a long detour, but probably much safer.

Anon November 2, 2007 at 4:36 pm

It would be good to know how to adjust the shifters yourself. It would make you much more self-sufficient. The essence of biking is self-sufficiency.

Economic self-sufficiency is an old idea. Before the revolution in economic thought that began in the 18th century, it was a key part of the mercantilist economic philosophy. This widely embraced strategy emphasized that trade was a zero-sum game, and that the wealthiest nation would be the one which produced and exported the most and imported the least. It was, on the whole, a destructive and inefficient way of doing things.

The insights that slowly overturned this world view centered on the gains from specialization and trade. To illustrate this most effectively, imagine a world in which you had to do everything for yourself. To get along, you’d have to grow your own food, build your own tools, make your own clothes, build your own house, and so on. It should be clear that in such a world you’d be very poor and miserable.

If there were another person around to help you, however, then each of you could focus on a few key things. One person could spend all his time on growing food while the other built tools and made clothes. Each person would be able to accomplish more by specializing, and at the end of the day after exchanging goods, both would be better off. If we increase the number of people to 100, everyone becomes wealthier still. One person might get very good at making shoes, another would excel at animal husbandry, another at plowing, and so on. Everyone produces more than they could by doing everything themselves, and through trade, they’re all able to enjoy a higher standard of living. This model is extendible to a global scale.

The production of many goods in the world economy is fairly concentrated. Take ball bearings, for instance. Ball-bearing manufacturing is a low margin business with large economies of scale (that is, the best way to make them cheaply is to make a whole lot of them). As such, there aren’t all that many manufacturers. Were we to require every metropolitan area to produce their own, the efficiency of ball-bearing production would drop precipitously, and ball bearings (along with all the tools that use them) would get a lot more expensive. As a result, people wouldn’t be able to buy as many ball-bearing-oriented goods as they currently do.

Everything, actually, would get more expensive. Since more people, globally, would be employed in ball-bearing manufacture, fewer people could be employed in other jobs. Labor for those other jobs would become scarcer and more costly, making whatever those workers used to produce more expensive. This would be the case for just about every manufactured good and for agriculture. By unwinding the gains from specialization and trade, we would force local areas to produce what could be more efficiently made on a larger scale. Goods would become much more expensive, workers could afford fewer goods, and the range of products available to any one consumer would be significantly reduced.

Anon @ Wadh November 2, 2007 at 9:42 pm

How are you doing now?

Milan November 2, 2007 at 11:31 pm

How are you doing now?

My jaw is fine. My elbow and wrist hurt a bit. My ribs hurt nearly as much as they did right after I fell.

. November 5, 2007 at 11:29 am

In the past, it was common to tape or tightly wrap the injured rib area. While this may help lessen pain, it also keeps the chest from fully expanding when you breathe in, so you cannot take adequate breaths. This can lead to areas of lung collapse and may make it more likely for you to get pneumonia. Currently, no wrapping, taping, or bracing of the injured area is recommended.

Chest wall injuries, including rib fractures, heal slowly. Your chest wall never gets a chance to completely rest because it is always in motion as you breathe, and this slows down the healing process. Rib fractures generally take at least 6 weeks to heal. Make sure you follow all your health professional’s recommendations for treatment and also talk to him or her about when it is safe for you to return to your regular activities.

R.K. November 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm

A cyclist was killed today in a collision with a garbage truck in North Portland, the city’s second fatal collision this month involving a bicycle and a heavy truck. The crash occurred at about 12:30 pm., as the garbage truck, a white SUV and the cyclist were all headed south down North Interstate Avenue. Police said both motor vehicles had passed the cyclist at the top of the hill. As the garbage truck approached the green light at North Greeley Avenue, it slowed down and started to take a sharp right turn. The cyclist, who had gained speed from the descent, was headed straight when the truck turned. The cyclist was crushed by the truck’s rear set of tires.

Source

Physically seperated bike lanes could be a better option.

Mike Kushnir November 9, 2007 at 7:27 pm

oh crap, i’m really sorry to hear this, milan.

i hope that you manage to heal quickly…

this is why i always try to ride on the inside of the right lane (i.e. towards the centre line); i find it’s much safer that way.

sometimes, the bike lanes in paris are veritable death-traps (i ought to take a photo of one in the 5th district that happens to house The Pothole Of Death).

careless right turns are my biggest fear on the bike. may the car that caused your accident see its tires slashed.

Milan November 12, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Mike,

Thanks for the sympathy. My ribs are already starting to bother me less.

Milan February 5, 2008 at 6:11 pm

This cycling safety video is utterly bizarre.

More about it can be found here.

Milan January 20, 2009 at 12:10 am

“Whatever bike you choose, I would recommend that it have disc brakes if you are planning to commute in the rain. In wet weather, when some douchebag decides to turn right without signaling or shoulder checking, it could mean the difference between your wheels locking and eating the curb, or being able to modulate your braking and stopping safely.”

In retrospect, this was an insightful comment.

. April 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

Pedestrian Safety Act of 2009 to investigate the dangers of silent automobile engines

As automobiles become more eco-friendly, they’re also becoming increasingly quieter… which is a good thing, if, like us, you want to live in a completely silent world (the blaring of Mastodon notwithstanding). The obvious problem with quieter vehicles is, of course that they can pose a real danger to unsuspecting pedestrians. To combat this terrifying prospect, Senators John Kerry (D, MA) and Arlen Spector (R, er… D, PA) have introduced The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. This bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study on what effects of hybrid, electric and other silent engine vehicles are having on pedestrian injuries and deaths in the US. The bill specifically focuses on the perils of quiet engines to blind pedestrians, but notes that the dangers are likely wider spread than that. While there are no possible solutions mentioned, may we suggest writing into law that you have to have a bullhorn strapped to your car and yell “vroom vroom” the entire time you drive?

joshua April 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Have you been injured in a bicycling accident?

Find the legal counsel you deserve!

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