This blog is a rant against stupidity and negligence and may contain material not be suited for younger family members.
Part 1: Bikes, Bikes and more Bikes
I keep my Specialized Allez road bike at work. I can grab a quick bike ride during lunch. Or go for a longer ride after work. There are networks of really pretty bike paths accessible from Downtown Denver. Denver streets have well-marked bike lanes. B-Cycle rental kiosks are all over the place. Denver is a bike friendly city.
During nice weather, bikes are a very good way to get around the city. City buses have bike racks on the front, which seem to always seem to be carrying bikes.
Part 2: Yield to Bikes
When I am driving I am always on the lookout for people on bikes, scooters and motorcycles. People riding on two wheels do not have tons of sheet metal surrounding them. They have no seat belts or air bags. They are at the mercy of motorists.
Yielding to bikes is not just a good idea, it's the Law!
Part 3: "Ignorantia non excusat"
"Ignorantia non excusat" is Latin for "Ignorance is no excuse". Or, as the great philosopher, Forrest Gump, would say, "Stupid is as stupid does."
Keep this in mind as I describe my painfully close encounter with a 2012 Toyota 4Runner while riding my bike.
Part 4: Ripple in the Space-Time Continuum
It is common knowledge that space and time is a four dimensional construct of three dimensional space with the addition of the one-dimensional time. Space and Time form a continuum, because so far as we know, there are no missing points in space or time. Furthermore, space and time can be infinitely divided, such that the position of any particle in space is described in terms of position at an instant of time.
But I state the obvious, so please forgive me. I just want to assure you that I am a rational and thoughtful man. However, my rational thought process was severely tested at 6:07pm on Wednesday, May 22nd 2013, while riding my road bike on the marked bike path along First Avenue in Denver, Colorado.
Particle #1: 2012 Specialized Allez Mid Compact
This bike was a top racing bike a few years back and is very light weight. I can easily balance the bike on two fingers at the center of gravity, which is about foot in front of the seat post. I would guess the bike weighs a lot less than 20 pounds.
Particle #2: 2011 Toyota 4Runner 4x4
Does this thing look big to you? From the saddle of a bicycle, this thing looks frickin' monstrous! Length is 16 feet. Height is 6' 4". Vehicular weight is 3.3 tons!
I am positive the blithering idiot piloting this death machine on public roads while talking on a cell phone has no idea that they are a dangerous menace!
I warned you this was going to be a rant!
Here is a reasonably accurate diagram of what happened at 7:07PM. I have annotated the diagram with speed of my bike, which I knew because I was wearing a Garmin 901XT in bike mode.
Invoking the aforementioned space-time continuum theory, I was able to determine the 4Runner's speed and position relative to my speed and position. I only had to determine the overall length of the 4 Runner; and the distance I traveled from when I first observed the 4Runner turning in front of me to the time of impact, which was 11 feet. At the same time, the 4 Runner had traveled one car-length or 16 feet.
See, I can be rational and thoughtful.
Part 5: Pain, Blood and Bruises
I try to avoid roads, particularly busy ones, on my road bike. I ride for pleasure and fitness, not to get from point A to point B. Last Wednesday I was riding the Cherry Creek bike path. Unfortunately there is a section of the bike path that is being rebuilt and there is a detour to a wide city sidewalk. This detour is outlined in yellow and has a yellow dash line separating Eastbound and Westbound bike traffic. Since this is a sidewalk there are a lot of pedestrians, By law, bikes always have to yield to pedestrians, which I do by slowing down or stopping and calmly announcing my intentions.
So what happened, you ask.
I am pedaling down the sidewalk with a nice easy cadence. I am in the clear and there are no bikes or pedestrians in front of me. I am only about 100 yards from the end of the detour. I am happy that I will be soon be away from the busy road and back down by the river again.
I have my hands on the brake covers, which are also called "the hoods". I am feeling really good. The weather is sunny but it is not too hot. There is a gently breeze blowing but it is not windy. I am relaxed and riding easy.
I see in front of me a place where the sidewalk dips and flattens a bit. I recognize that this is an entrance to an office park. Here is a photo of the location.
No worries, the parking lot entrance is totally clear and there is not a car in a position to turn in front of me.
Or so I thought.
All of sudden I see the black grill of a Toyota 4Runner in front of me. There was no turn signal flashing. I hoped the driver saw me and would stop. In blink of a cat's eyeball, I realized that the 4Runner was accelerating.
I that point I knew that I could not, in any way shape or form, avoid a collision. I was already on the brakes. I was moving at over 20 miles per hour. There is no way to stop. Since my hands were on the hoods, my leverage on the brakes was limited. Even if my hand would have been on the drops (lower handle bars), I could not have stopped.
From when I saw the 4Runner until collision was a bit less than 1/3 of a second! Let me repeat 1/3 of a second. As the massive wall of sheet metal loomed in front of me, my brain went into overdrive! I calculated that I was going to hit the rear tire.
The only thing to do was to prepare for impact. I decided to relax and go limp. I closed my eyes. I knew this was going to hurt. Then I heard ka-BANG, BANG, BANG. I was amazed at just how loud a bike plus flesh and bone colliding with sheet metal could sound! The sensation was like there was a giant hand beating me against the side of the speeding car.
The noise was tremendous! Then there was no sound. I had the sensation of falling.... falling..... and falling. I hit the concrete like laying down on a feather bed. I tumbled over three or four times but it didn't hurt. There was no sound.
I opened my eyes. I was on my belly. I saw the 4Runner moving away from me. Then I saw the brake lights come on. I spit out blood. But no teeth, which I thought was good. I ached all over like I had been beaten with a hammer.
I picked myself off the ground. Blood tricked down my left calf. Blood dripped from my left elbow. The back of my neck throbbed. I almost fell down as my right ankle gave way. I picked up my bike. The handlebar was askew and about 45 degrees off center. The brake levers were turned inward. I steadied myself against the bike.
I saw the door of the 4Runner open. A leg with a medium heel swung out and dropped to the ground. A blond woman approached me and asked, " Are you alright?" I took a painful breath and answered with a slurred voice that surprised me, "I dun't know". Blood sprayed out of my mouth as a spoke. The woman took a quick step back. I though, "Oh, far be it from me to get blood on your stupid power suit!"
Then she said the absolutely stupidest thing I ever heard, "I saw you coming. I thought I could beat you"! Had she said that she didn't see me I would have understood her actions a lot better.
I wasn't mad. I was shocked! Remember "Ignorantia non excusat!" Yup, you got it!
I sized her up. She was about 5'4" tall. Her shoulder length blond hair had way too much coloring. She was dressed in an expensive cream-colored suit. I would guess she was in her late 30's. She didn't look concerned. She looked nervous.
I then noticed a security guard from the office park walking toward us.
I held out my hand and said, "My name is Bruce." She held out her hand. I gently took her hand from the top. She answered in a tentative tone of voice, "I am Lynsey". I am sure she was afraid I was going to say something and spit blood in her eye. I said quitely, "Pleased to meet you." She then said, "I am so sorry. I really thought I could beat you through."
I thought, "Please quit saying that!"
The security guard spoke to her. He pointed at the people on bikes cascading by, "This is a bike path. Do you see all the bikes? You have to be more careful." She deflated right in front of my eyes. She spoke to me again, "I have a bike. I ride a lot." I reply, "Maybe we can go riding together, sometime." She gives a nervous little laugh, "I wish we had met under different circumstances." As I stood there trembling in pain, I answered, "Yeah, me too."
While we were talking I had fished my multi-tool from my seatbag. I had straightened the handlebars and re-aligned the brake levers. I picked up the front of the bike and gave the front wheel a spin. The wheel was bent. I looked at her and said, "I am going to need you to pay for repairing the front wheel." She asked, "Where do you want to take your bike for repairs?" I answered, "Wheatridge Cyclery." She hands me her business card, "Have them call me when the repairs are done. I will give them my credit card over the phone."
I looked at her business card. She is a manager in the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services! I am thunderstruck! As a taxpayer I bought a piece of the 4Runner death mobile!
I rode back to my office building very slowly. The pain was starting to increase. A security guard at my company did some first aid and got me ride to the parking lot.
Part 6: Wrap-Up
My bike is at Wheatridge Cyclery getting a crash evaluation and repairs. I am concerned about the carbon front fork. A damaged carbon fork can fail suddenly.
Here is a Garmin readout that shows the crash.
This is a chart of my speed. The big "dip" a bit toward the right of the chart is the collision. My initial speed was 21.4 mph. I managed to slow down to 20.9 mph at the point of impact. The 4Runner was moving at 30.7 mph at the time of impact. The driver was accelerating in attempt to get 4Runner clear of the bike path.
Stopping and not turning in front of a person on the bike is what the vast majority of drivers would have done.
I am bruised and cut all over. Judging by my injuries, My right hand was caught between the car and my brake lever and is very swollen. I hit the side of the car with my head. Then my right shoulder and right knee hit the car. As the car kept moving, I was twisted and hit the left side of my face, which shredded the flesh on the inside of my mouth, which was the source my bleeding mouth. The inside of my left elbow and left knee hit the car causing severe bruising. Somehow, my right ankle was severely sprained. Most of my cuts and abrasions (raspberries) are a result of striking the concrete.
Here is a photo of one set of bruises
I have over a dozen bruises similar to this one. The injuries to my right ankle, neck and right shoulder are deep tissue injuries, which hurt more than the bruises, cuts and abrasions.
I plan to do an easy bike ride today on Ultra Stumpy. I am healing nicely.
Thanks, For reading my blog.