Suburban Assault

Bike vs. SUV

with 3 comments

This is an old story from last March, but I thought I’d share it here on Suburban Assault.

There are a few bike lanes around the University of Texas, Dallas as well as some scattered greenbelt trails around Richardson, where I live. Unfortunately, outside of that, you’re on your own. My general rule-of-thumb is if a road has 3 or more lanes, stay off – generally the automobile traffic is much heavier in these situations.

I’ll typically take a back or side street, but inevitably, some of the major 3+ lane routes are required to make it to my destinations. Since riding on these roads is suicide, I’m forced to ride the sidewalks – which I personally don’t like to do. Fortunately, in Richardson, they are hardly used – even by pedestrians.

MY RIDE SUNDAY MORNING – March 29.

In the many years that I’ve ridden around neighborhood streets (even more so in the past year), I’ve learned to be aware of the traffic around me. I know that most people are blind to cyclist so I tend to ride on the cautious side. Well this day, I got in a rush and became a bit careless.

I was returning home from a long ride where I had just gotten off the UTD bike lane, which travels along Campbell Road, heading east. Unfortunately, at this point it becomes just a sidewalk. Since the bike lane runs along the north side of Campbell, I was heading against traffic. My next move was to find a safe place to cross and, at least, get on the walk that flowed WITH traffic.

While I was traveling down the walk looking for a safe place to cross, a woman in her huge SUV pulled out from nowhere in an attempt to turn right (west) on Campbell. Watching to see if the the oncoming traffic was clear, she rolled through her stop sign to pull onto Campbell, not once looking to her right – which was where I was coming from. This is a common mistake that I find myself doing. In this situation the visibility coming from that road is horrible from both perspectives.

BIKE + SUV = BAD SITUATION

In spite of my efforts to brake. I skidded into her front wheel well, slamming myself around the front of her vehicle, completely tossing myself onto the road. Man, that really hurt.

I’ve had to avoid this type of situation before, where folks pulling onto the main street are focused on the cars coming their way, but because they’re pulling onto a one way lane, they seldom pay attention to the direction they are heading. And because of this, I’m extra cautious of these people. Unfortunately, the visibility was bad and everything happened so fast that neither one of us had proper time to react.

I was shaken up. She and her kids were in shock. Fortunately, aside from being a bit soar, I came out of it okay. Even my bike survived the collision without a scratch. Her front fender has a slight dent in it (it looks as if somebody kicked it) as well as a scuff across her hood.

She felt guilty for pulling out in front of me, but I assured her that I didn’t hold her completely at fault. We were both careless in the situation and very fortunate that nobody was seriously hurt. I asked her about the dent, but she was more relieved that I was okay, that she didn’t want to worry about it. After a few minutes of catching my breath, we shook hands and went our separate ways.

WHAT DID I LEAVE WITH?

In the end, although I’m not sure if I hit my head, I’m glad I had my helmet on (which I’ve replaced with a new one), and that it didn’t turn out much worse.

As a rider, I’ve become more aware of my limitations as to how quickly I can react in situations like this.

As a driver, I’ve become more aware of every direction I travel.

The lady in the SUV was pretty shaken up, and I hope she finds comfort in knowing that everything is okay.

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Written by dickdavid

July 14, 2009 at 8:48 am

3 Responses

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  1. Hi friend! Followed you over from Flickr. Have you heard of “vehicular cycling”? I just learned of it last year and it has completely changed my cycling life. Judging from some of the situations you mentioned in this post, VC techniques would help your Suburban Assault to be quite a bit safer.

    Here’s a really great introduction from Commute Orlando with lots of pretty diagrams: http://commuteorlando.com/ontheroad/confidentcyclist.html

    Happy cycling!

    Eliot

    August 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm

  2. Thanks for the link Eliot!! I would love to make a blog post about it as well.

    Thank you for visiting and contributing to Suburban Assault, and happy cycling to you as well.

    dickdavid

    August 17, 2009 at 5:39 am

  3. [...] about how riding on streets is safer than riding on the sidewalks. I’ve even learned that sidewalks aren’t always the safest places either. For  me, it’s a perspective of Texas drivers and the fear of bike verses SUV [...]


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