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Riding without an accident?(29 posts)

Riding without an accident?MXL02
Jul 1, 2002 6:16 AM
My wife is very supportive of my new obsession with cycling and the fitness it provides me, but she is terrified that I am going to be in an accident. I have been told that there are only two types of roadies, those who have had an accident and those who will have an accident, in other words, having a cycling accident is part of the sport. I am self employed and really cannot get hurt doing this. I am extremely cautious when I ride, and try to ride in areas where there are very few cars, etc. I don't ride in the city, I don't ride on streets during the week or after 11am in the morning, etc. I know this sounds extreme, but I really do not want to tempt fate, especially with the recent accidents that have been reported which illustrate how motorists are either careless or malicious when it comes to cyclists. We have had many threads where people have discussed their it possible to ride without getting into a serious accident?
Here are the questions: 1) How long have you ridden without an accident?
2)What things do you do to stay safe?
re: **I_See_Fred_People
Jul 1, 2002 6:27 AM
re: Riding without an accident?PaulCL
Jul 1, 2002 6:31 AM
More than likely, your first 'accident' will be a little bit of pavement surfing. The roadrash hurts, but won't kill you.

I have read that the 'average' cyclist has an accident, or goes down, about once every 4500 miles. That means that I am many thousands over due. My last accident was in May of 1998 - or about 12,000 or more miles ago. If the average cyclist includes racers (particularly those of you who do a lot of crits), then the numbers are really skewed too low.

What to do to stay safe: Hmmmmm. If you don't want to wreck, don't race crits. Do be very aware of your surroundings. Ride defensively. Its' hard to prevent an accident - a momentary lapse of concentration can have you skidding across pavement. As horrible as the car wrecks, the endo's, the 50mph crashes are that you read about on this board, they are rather rare.

My May 0f 1998 wreck put me in the hospital. My wife, likes yours, wasn't too thrilled with the idea of my cycling again. It sounds like you have prepared her for the day you come home with gravel under your skin. Good luck. Ride safely. Paul
first one after about 8,000milesDave Hickey
Jul 1, 2002 6:49 AM
I had a run in with a large dog. There were 4 of us in a pace line. The dog started to chase our group. By the time he got back to me(I was last), he cut in front of my wheel. I went down and cracked my helmet. Other than road rash and a bruised rib, I was OK.
re: Riding without an accident?McAndrus
Jul 1, 2002 7:02 AM
While crashing is no fun, it's also unusual for it to cause serious injury. I put in 6-7,000 miles a year. In the last ten years I've crashed at-speed five times and road away with just some serious road rash.

My wife gives me more grief when I crash than the road rash does.
re: Riding without an accident?netso
Jul 1, 2002 7:04 AM
I was hit by a "Hit-Run" driver in 1992. It put me in the hospital. I have had two minor accidents since then. In over 40 years of riding I think these are few. I still ride my bike, wear bright clothing, and I am very cautious.
just shave your legs and you'll be fineDougSloan
Jul 1, 2002 7:12 AM
I've gone several years now without an accident (knock on wood).

Stay safe:

1. when drafting, never overlap wheels

2. watch the road for obstacles and hazards

3. be seen

4. be predictable

5. don't ride with people you don't feel safe with

6. ride rollers occasionally to develop balance

7. use a mirror like a Take-A-Look

8. some roads are safer than others; choose your routes carefully

9. keep your bike maintained well, especially the tires night, really light yourself up courteous to drivers

Almost no such thing as an 'accident'--it's up to youcory
Jul 1, 2002 7:30 AM
One of the reasons we kill 40,000-odd people a year in cars is that we call every crash an "accident," implying that it was unavoidable. Much as I hate to agree with Doug about anything except the joys of fatherhood, he's nailed this. There are times, as with the hit-run crash described above, when things just happen. Overwhelmingly, though, crashes are the result of bad judgment or a lapse of attention or a mistake by SOMEBODY. If you eliminate yours and do what you can to allow for the other guy's (never assume ANYBODY sees you or will do the right thing), you can ride for thousands of miles safely. I've had three memorable falls in 30+ years of cycling (not counting stuff like mountain bike crashes when I knowingly ran a risk and couldn't pull it off), and all three were my fault at some level. In the one car vs. bike I've had, the driver turned in front of me and was cited for it and deserved it--but if I'd been fully aware, I would have realized that she was likely to do it. Way better to avoid the crash than to get revenge when it's over.
Jul 1, 2002 8:33 AM
Great post, Doug...ought to be on a sidebar like your "pledge" post...after much thought I had come to those 11 rules sort of on my own, just not as well delineated as you have done. I broke my mirror and hadn't replaced it, but after some close calls with cars trying to pass me, I am going ahead and replacing it. Going to start rollers this week.
BTW...If I shave my legs, my wife is definitely going to leave me...;-)
Good list....I added a couple moreDINOSAUR
Jul 1, 2002 8:38 AM
I really can't anything that isn't covered in the list. I've been riding off and on since 1974, I had two minor crashes. One was when my right-of-way was violated by a motorist (lesson one-just because they look, don't take for granted that they see you). The second was when I took a small tumble when descending on Mt. Hamilton Rd. in San Jose (just a small case of road rash). The third and very serious crash occurred two years ago when I was .3 miles from home and hit two small rocks while descending (covered under #2 watch for obstacles and other road hazards) my front tire flattened then rolled off the rim at the same precise time as I was making a left turn at an intersection. I ended up in the hospital for 7 days with 4 fractured ribs and a concussion. What saved me was my helmet.

Coming from a law enforcement background (27+years, now retired, thank you) I can't recall ever investigating a traffic accident involving a bicyclist in which the cyclist was NOT at fault. So maybe I could add one to the list, OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS. Mine probably could have been prevented if I was going a tad slower. Also be aware of how your bike handles, hone in your road riding skills. My Klein's rear wheel has a tendency to hop off the ground when you are making tight turns at speed unless I shift my weight to the rear of my saddle and put my weight on the rear wheel.

We all crash sooner or later, just make yours a small one and get up and ride away being a more experienced cyclist..and always wear your helmet, accidents aren't a planned event.....

The #1 cause of crashes for my cycling club is road hazards. When riding unfamiliar roads with other cyclist you can't always see what lies ahead and you can't rely on the guy ahead of you pointing out the hazard. I seldom do club rides anymore, I feel safer riding by myself or with a couple other experienced cyclist on familiar roads. And there are some roads I just won't ride on.

Don't think that you are invincible, crashes are always a big surprise...and somewhat embarrassing...and WEAR YOUR HELMET...
just don't tell him about the time you...ET
Jul 1, 2002 11:08 AM
separated your shoulder, were lying unconscious on the road, time spent in hospital, surgery, etc. etc. etc. :-)
1. About 15 hoursLLSmith
Jul 1, 2002 7:12 AM
Three dogs came after me at the top of a long hill yesterday. I stopped real fast, just could not get that darn right shoe unclipped in time.Just road rash,cuts and a sore wrist.Last November I was fumbling to put my water bottle back when I decided to look down. Can't believe I didn't see the big rock in the road...Concussion and bruised tailbone.First Saturday of last October I was fumbling with my computer and just fell...Almost two months off the bike with wrist problems.
2. There is a pattern here.Keep your eyes on the road. Know whats in front and behind you.I finally found one small,light helmet mounted mirror that works for me. I pretty much only wear high visibility,yellow,white or red jerseys.I have a small blinking red light attached to my seat post that is now on whenever I'm on my bike.No matter how dorky you might look, its not as bad as laying on the side of the road saying "now where did you say I was".
only been in one resulting in serious injuryColnagoFE
Jul 1, 2002 7:25 AM
other than the minor road rash or bruises from MTB or the occasional bonehead road crash--I pretty much have only been in one accident involving breaking anything--and that is since I've been riding so 30+ years. That was caused by aq tow truck side swiping me from the rear and the mirror hit my shoulderblade breaking it and wrecking my bike. I figure that's a pretty good record for 30 some years of riding--both road and MTB.
re: accidentsFredrico
Jul 1, 2002 7:44 AM
Being hit from behind by a car is the least possibility, statistically, believe it or not. Not surprisingly, most car drivers are afraid of passing a bicyclist, fearing the cyclist will swerve into his path, etc. That helps explain the hostility many motorists have toward cyclists.

Also, the faster a bicycle goes, the more stable it is, and the less likely a wipeout can happen, unless you try to suddenly change your line, or a dog or pedestrian steps out in your path!

Thirdly, at the speeds a cyclist goes, striking someone or something, or skidding out mostly induces some pretty nasty road rash, and often a broken collarbone, but rarely broken limbs, and a helmet usually prevents serious concussions.

In other words, driving a car is much more life threatening than riding a bike. As everyone rides in cars, few will admit that it is speed that kills, not balancing on two wheels.

So reassure your wife that she can look forward to a long life with you, the quality of which bicycling can only enhance.

The last accident I had was four years ago, hitting a little girl on her bicycle with training wheels on a residential street. Just as I passed her, she took fright and darted in front of me, throwing me to the curb and breaking my collarbone! Four years before that, I hit a manhole cover after riding over fresh slippery pavement, and skidded out. My helmet saved me from a concussion. The moral of the story: watch where you're going, and don't be impatient, a personality defect that will get you in trouble no matter how you're traveling.

re: Riding without an accident?comedy-tragedy
Jul 1, 2002 7:57 AM
First off, I know what you mean about your wife. Even after 12 years of consistent riding my wife still looks me almost every time I leave and tells me to be careful.

That said, I've been riding for a total of 15 years and had 4 crashes. The first two were during a time when the bike was my only mode of transportation. The first involved locking handlebars with the guy I was working with, and the second was caused when I locked the brakes on a freshly oiled road in a light rain storm. Neither one caused anything more than a few bruises.

The third happened when I crossed a railroad track that was at a steep angle and it caught the rear tire and dropped me like a bad habit. The fourth was last summer when I overlapped the wheel in front of me. Not even a bruise from #3 and just some road rash on my elbow and a bruise on my hip from #4.

As far as I'm concerned all four were my own fault, and avoidable to boot. Just pay very close attention to what's going on around you and be smart about where you ride.

BTW, the are actually three types of roadies; those who have, those who will, and those who will again.
re:No serious crashes, praise God, for 14 years.dzrider
Jul 1, 2002 8:37 AM
1. Watch where you're going at all times.

2. Plan your routes to avoid as much as possible busy roads with lots of businesses, side streets and places where cars turn or park.

3. Be decisive about where you're going and as visible and understandable to cars as you can possibly be.

4. Try to move quickly in traffic which gives cars behind you more time to see you and react. It also gets you by turning cars a little bit faster which may help.

5. Slow down when you first see a dog. If it looks like a chase you can try to out run it, but it's better to slow down, give yourself more time to react and if the worst happens a softer fall.

6. Stay off the sidewalk and on the right side of the road.
Ride where drivers expect to find cars.
Not in years butgrandemamou
Jul 1, 2002 8:41 AM
close calls are too numerous to count. Had one on last thurs group ride. We were doing 22-23 in a pace line in a driving rainstorm. A girl stops long at an intersection we move to the left, she looks directly at us and proceeds forward. I hit my brakes too hard and locked up my rear wheel. I slid sidways for a while. I still don't know how I stayed upright.

The only advice I would add to DS advice, is to stay loose and anticipate problems. Most new riders hold the bar with a death grip. Any time you try to correct your line your movements will be greatly exaggerated. I have kissed tires and been bumped numerous times without going down. I hope the trend continues.

I think the stats may be skewed because there are alot of new riders and crit racers in those numbers.
maybe I'm just luckytarwheel
Jul 1, 2002 8:53 AM
I've ridden for about 30 years and I've never had a crash or accident. I will qualify that statement to admit that I did quit riding for about 10 years during that span, but I put in a lot of miles in the other 20 years -- including 12,000 over the past two years. Like others stated, a lot of things that people call "accidents" could be avoided. Although I am not obsessive about safety, I do not want to get hurt or killed and do a lot of things to minimize the risk. Some cyclists may consider these things "freddish" but my record speaks for itself -- better Fred than dead. Here's what I do:

1. Always wear a helmet, preferably brightly colored.
2. Always wear a brightly colored jersey -- red, yellow or orange.
3. Use a mirror. Don't fixate on it but use it like you use a car mirror -- to periodically check what's going on behind you.
4. Keep good tires on your bike and fill to recommended pressure before every ride.
5. Keep your bike clean and well maintained and you are more likely to notice cracked or worn parts. Replace parts like chains and cables before they break.
6. Raise your handlebar -- you'll be more comfortable and will actually be able to see the road ahead of you.
7. Avoid riding on busy streets.
8. Keep a blinking taillight on your bike that you can turn on when the daylight gets low.
9. Concentrate and pay attention. You're more likely to wreck from hitting a stone, pothole or stick than being hit by a car.
10. Be even more careful riding in pacelines. A mistake could hurt not just you but others riding behind you.
Good advice...MXL02
Jul 1, 2002 10:29 AM
At the risk of probably being labeled as one, I still have to ask, What's a "Fred"
I guess we haven't had a fred discussion in a while ...tarwheel
Jul 1, 2002 10:48 AM
A fred is a derogatory term for nerdy cyclists, poseurs. I tend not to use the term as I think cyclists ought to stick together. But some cyclists have an attitude problem and label people freds if they don't wear the right clothes, use mirrors, ride with higher handlebars or lots of spacers, etc.
At this point in my life...MXL02
Jul 1, 2002 11:27 AM
I'd rather be fred than dead.
re: Riding without an accident?No_sprint
Jul 1, 2002 9:05 AM
Well, you're going to touch pavement if you ride. That's for sure. Whether it be from unfamiliarity with clipped pedals or adjusting them too tight and simply falling over or otherwise. I've hit pavement lots, skidding on a little sand/water, hitting a bump and my hands flying off the bars, wheel touching, etc. These things just happen and don't kill you or seriously injure you. I do what I can to keep upright.

Now, if you're looking to really lower your chance of an accident with a car that is really not your fault or that you have minimal control over, that's another story.

When I'm out on the road I do the following: I do not ride on narrow two lane roads with no shoulder and fast traffic. I don't ride on busy roads during rush hours alone. I basically don't ride on roads with cars alone much at all. My weekday rides include huge group rides that roll at 6:30am and take routes generally considered *good for safe riding* roads, minimal traffic, wide, multi-lane, etc. Also, I do crit practice some weekday nights. The route I take there alone to get there has virutally no traffic. Weekend rides are all group rides, there undoubtedly is more safety in numbers. Then, Sunday is race day. Good luck. Have fun.
re: Riding without an accident?bigrider
Jul 1, 2002 10:07 AM
want to hear something funny? I actually thought I would never wreck when I started riding five years ago. I thought wrecks only occurred to those that weren't careful and didn't ride the right roads at the right times. Well, 12,000 miles later I have ONLY wrecked twice. Both were not directly caused by poor judgement but just events. I broke a cook bros. crank and head dove on the pavement( no serious injury just a little rash, yes I was wearing a lid) and the second wreck was a paceline where the guy in front laid his bike across the road, again no major injury.

Sooner or later something will happen out of your control that will cause you to wreck. It probably won't be that bad but if you are doing all the right things and are being careful you sure do reduce your odds.
re: Riding without an accident?peter1
Jul 1, 2002 10:45 AM
I have ridden 10 years without a serious accident, including about 5 years when I raced mountain bikes. I have only gone over the bars once on a road bike, but probably endo'd 200 times on a mtb, and every time I'm caught by surprise. Just last weekend I was trying to clear a log pile, got lazy and didn't pull the wheel up high enough. Wham! It twisted and I slammed into the top log with my shin. I'm still amazed it didn't snap in half (shin, not log).

Having said all that, I feel a lot safer off road, and as I move into more road riding than mtb'ing, I'm beginning to feel like I'm due for a bad one. As a result, I'm pretty cautious, especially with regards to making myself seen. I mostly ride country roads with lots of blind curves, and I listen carefully for a car...if I can see one, I'll raise up off the seat or shake out my arm so they can see me moving.

One thing that has saved me in the past riding an mtb on the road is the ability to hop into a ditch or roll over debris...tough to do that with 700x23s...
There's a lot you can do...seamus
Jul 1, 2002 12:20 PM
There's a lot you can do to make cycling safer, but like everyone says, ultimately there's an element of danger in everything. Statistically, you're far more likely to get hurt in a car wreck on the freeway than on a bike, and of the 700 cyclists killed each year in traffic accidents, there are 5,000 pedestrians. Makes you wonder.

I've been lucky in 16 years of racing and riding 10,000m a year to only have a few notable crashes and one car/bike collision when I was 16...the guy going the other way made a left turn and hit me almost head on, but it was a slow, downtown kinda thing. Totaled my Vitus but I rode the next day.

I'm way paranoid about this stuff now, like your wife. A friend was lost in this way (we miss you Cooper) and it's something I think about every time I clip in. To stay a little safer, PAY ATTENTION. Watch everything going on at all time. Little kids playing soccer in the yard. Cats. Dogs. Soccer moms backing the Explorer out of the driveway. Car doors. There are a billion hazards going on at all times, and you have to keep your eyes on all of them, so no daydreaming, and don't assume that you're seen. Ever.

I live in the boonies of the California central valley now, and on the rural backroads out here, local hicks and farmers love to wind the ol' white pickup to 85 and go flying down rural country roads. I've taken an unorthodox tactic to avoid becoming a hood ornament. I look behind me, and when I see a car coming from behind, off in the distance, and I can clearly see that there's no traffic coming towards me, I'll drift to the opposite lane. It gives the passing car more room, and if by chance Farmer Bob is tuning his radio while passing and drifts into the shoulder, I'm not in his path. Once he passes, I make sure it's safe and drift back over to the right lane.

Don't worry about being cool all the time. If there's a road that's just too busy, narrow or sketchy, don't be afraid to slow down and cruise the sidewalk until it's safer.

Be aware that when you're riding into the sun, drivers behind you can't see anything.

Final note, enjoy life and ride your bike. Don't let paranoia take the fun out of it or you're already dead.
10 years @~2500 miles/year with no accidents. (nm)bikedodger
Jul 1, 2002 2:37 PM
Get disability insurance-filtersweep
Jul 1, 2002 3:06 PM
like a policy that doesn't kick in for 30 days... they are pretty cheap through most employers (general advise- but in your case, even most property insurers will provide short-term disability).

You probably will eventually go down on your bike. It probably won't be as bad as you think (hopefully). I was clipped by a car a few weeks ago- no real damage to the bike, I had bloody road rash, and I STILL couldn't wait to get up and finish my ride (and think how I was going to tell my wife). Before I was hit, the thought of being hit by a car was a bit scary. Not that I want it to happen again, but after the fact, I feel it wasn't that big of a deal.

Malicious motorists that actually cause harm are probably less common than a random drive-by shooting car to car.

Have you ever been in a car accident? Like car accidents, most bike accidents involve relatively little damage, and few injuries. Fearing an accident won't help, but doing your part to reduce risk can.

Ironically enough, I just caught Lyme Disease from cycling... something I never saw coming!
3 Kinds of Ridersgrzy
Jul 1, 2002 3:13 PM
Retired motorcycle cop (no pun intended) enlightened me with this many years ago:

1.) Those that have crashed
2.) Those that will crash
3.) Those that will crash again

You just have to decide which type of rider you are and realize that's it's not totally up to you, but you do have a lot of influence.

Thinking about crashing is almost as bad as crashing itself except you can't actually get killed this way. There are a slew of different things that can happen to you and they fall into the general category of 1. you do something stupid, 2. someone else does something stupid, 3. freak of nature. Most all of my crashes are self induced by me or nature. I usually don't get taken out by someone else's actions, but then I've never crashed a car either. Realize that racing = crashing. Chock it up to defensive riding (certainly not cautious riding) and being able to anticipate likely out comes. Even careful Walter Mitty types crash.

Point is you're not immune from crashing - no matter what you do. If you want to be totally safe you're going to have to get a Fitness Club trainer and moly bolt it to the floor. The thing to do is keep your wits about you and realize that "close calls" is someone's way of telling you that you're being overly agressive for the situation - sometimes you don't get many warnings. Learn to handle your bike well in all sorts of situations, both high and low speed. Consider getting a MTB so that riding in loose and wild conditions is no big deal. Always wear a helmet and consider using a mirror. When riding keep your situation awareness going at all times and always give yourself an "out." When you see a car approaching an intersection from the side - make eye contact and then ask yourself where you're going to go if and when they blow the stop. When you do get launched keep your arms and legs in, tuck you chin and ROLL. If you try and catch yourself with an outstretched hand you're going to tear something up and it's going to suck. It's easier to say this than it is to make it part of your second nature. Let others be your gauge - let them take the twisty descents first and see how they handle it. If you're not comfortable then SLOW DOWN - there is no trophy waiting for you - unless you're entered in an actual race. Never skimp on maintaining your equipment. Listen and learn from other's experiences, unless you'd like to repeat them.

I can go a couple years between road bike crashes. I seem to crash the MTB a lot more frequently (like every other ride), but it doesn't have the same consequences although I've been ambulanced for both. I have a buddy who crashes on his road bike ALL the time, but then he rides very aggressively and others around him just can't react as quickly. Part of me is surprised that he's still alive. Sometimes he looks like "Bacon Boy" from the scabs all over his body.
Crashed 3X.look271
Jul 2, 2002 3:32 PM
2 were my fault, 1 I was hit by a car-her fault. Worst injury? Sprained knee and some cuts. No hospitalization. I've been riding 10 yrs now. My advice? Be visible. Wear the brightest jerseys you can find. Follow Doug's suggestions and additionally; if you must rtide in traffic with cars, don't be timid. If there is no shoulder and you are on a city street, take the part of the road that is yours and don't weave in and out of parked cars-you're asking to get doored! Take a lane and hold it. It really is pretty safe if you use common sense.