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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    164

    How do you shrug off a close call?

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    DH and I went on a nice little Sunday morning ride this morning. More cars were out than we expected, but we are experienced cyclists. Unfortunately I ended up having a really close call that has me rattled still. I pulled up to a T-bone intersection and came to a stop at a traffic light, in the middle of the left turn lane, for whatever reason stopping about 10-15 feet behind the white line. (I don't know why I stopped early -- I don't think there was any real reason). I turn around to say something to DH who is pulling up to a stop behind me, hear him shout 'WHOA', and turn around to see a car making a right hand turn onto the road and flying DIRECTLY INTO THE LEFT TURN LANE. I only have time to scream, and the driver swerves back into her lane at the last second.

    If I had pulled up to the white line, she would have hit me head on --- or maybe should would have seen me and would have stayed into her lane -- but she came around the turn so fast that I doubt it.

    We tried to continue on with our ride. We were close to entering the park where we knew traffic would die down, and these are roads we are very familiar with - but I was too rattled, freaking out over some moderately close passes. I pulled off the road in tears and decided to just ride home.

    I don't know guys. This one really got to me. We've had one really close call before, but that was the fault of both the driver and ourselves, and we learned something from it. This one I couldn't have prevented or avoided in any way, and I learned nothing from it but fear.

    I bike to work, I bike for health, I bike for fun, and I do a little work for bike advocacy - but today I'm wondering if it's worth going out there and risking our lives at all.

    I don't want to die and I don't want my husband to die. So many of our friends ride and its such a big part of our lives, but drivers are so irresponsible.

    Not biking has risks too. I suspect I would get depressed and develop some chronic diseases. Walking might help, but then pedestrians get hit and killed by cars too.

    I'm so sad and scared. When people talk about how dangerous cycling can be, I generally shrug it off and tell myself that I'm cautious, I'm experienced, I know which roads to take and how to control traffic. But this one - there was nothing I could have done.

    UGH.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,128
    You just keep riding and do everything you can to mitigate the risks. After my DH did an endo because he had to brake hard when a car turned left into him, resulting in a broken collar bone, we both started riding with front flashers all of the time. We already were riding with rear flashers on in the daytime. Is this a cure all? No, but we both notice a difference in car's behaviors, especially when they are waiting to pull out of side streets.
    I do avoid certain intersections occasionally and I modify my commute home if it's at a certain time. DH has rely good skills and is fearless, so he will ride anywhere. But, despite close calls, I am not stopping.Like you, it's our life. Sometimes I feel geeky with all the lights on my road bike, but in the end, I feel safer.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,083
    I'm so sorry you had to go through that, fallstoclimb. Fear sucks :-( I've had my share of close calls, and I think I've learned something from every one. I keep riding, I just get a bit more defensive for a while, but in my mind I replay and replay situations like that, and think how I can put myself in a position where I will not suffer from somebody else's mistake. Gradually the feeling of security comes back. But I've always adjusted a little bit.

    Bottom line is, there is no complete security in traffic, and people do die in traffic every day. Most car drivers don't feel that fear, but that is not because they are not in danger. They are, but are habituated to the situation. The fear you feel is real and for a reason, and it will help you to be more safe. Maybe front flashers, or a really obnoxiously bright jacket will help you feel safer too.

    Maybe it helps if you consider that that car driver probably got rattled too, and drove home carefully, kicking herself for being an idiot. Or you could write a letter to your local newspaper and describe the situation, just like you did here. It would reach somebody, and help them be just that much more attentive.

    Good luck!
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
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    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    164
    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    Maybe it helps if you consider that that car driver probably got rattled too, and drove home carefully, kicking herself for being an idiot. Or you could write a letter to your local newspaper and describe the situation, just like you did here. It would reach somebody, and help them be just that much more attentive.

    Good luck!
    This is true. She did get rattled. She came to a stop once in her lane, even though there was no collision, clearly because she was surprised and confused. We not-so-nicely yelled obscenities at her, but you know, that's what happens when your adrenaline shoots way up.

    I don't actually think that a front light would have helped in that situation, but I may get one anyway just so I can feel a little better about doing SOMETHING.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,128
    LPH is right, in that car drivers become habituated to their feelings of security, when in reality, driving has its risks, too. I feel so much better, now that I no longer have to drive 25 miles on the freeway to get to work and drive all around to go see clients in their homes. My world is kinda small, in terms of driving and commuting by bike (it's 5.2 miles to my office), and this is by choice. I am extremely vigilant when it comes to safety, and this is what I teach others when I lead rides. Is this a guarantee? No, but I never let my guard down, especially in places where I've had close calls. I had one major "azzhole" moment this commuting season, when a school bus turned left in front of me, when crossing the highway, right across from my office. But, I was ready, expected he would do it, and I braked and slowed. Something else happened that day, can't remember what, and it did kind of get me rattled, but I keep going.
    Last edited by Crankin; 07-05-2015 at 12:18 PM.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    8,979
    Quote Originally Posted by fallstoclimb View Post
    This is true. She did get rattled. She came to a stop once in her lane, even though there was no collision, clearly because she was surprised and confused. We not-so-nicely yelled obscenities at her, but you know, that's what happens when your adrenaline shoots way up.

    I don't actually think that a front light would have helped in that situation, but I may get one anyway just so I can feel a little better about doing SOMETHING.
    I'm glad the driver stopped. I am so sorry this happened to you.

    We take a risk each day just getting out of bed. I ride to work about once a week, a car free route that parallels my drive. It's the four days I drive the route that makes me nervous; 4 lanes, fast traffic, no divider. There are often head on accidents. A few weeks ago a close friend was rear ended on the route while driving. The obviously distracted driver hit her hard enought that her car flipped over, spun 180, hit the embankment and flipped back on her wheels.

    She's fine though still finding tiny bits of glass in her hair.

    Every day above ground is a bonus and a day we should ride.
    Last edited by Trek420; 07-05-2015 at 04:40 PM.
    Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    164
    Quote Originally Posted by Trek420 View Post

    Every day above ground is a bonus and a day we should ride.
    OH. Yes, THIS! This is what I was looking for. People elsewhere told me to be grateful I was alive, and instead I was focusing on the what-ifs and how to limit risk - but this shift in thinking just clicked for me. I've seen enough now to see lots of freak accidents, awful things, but I have focused on the fear rather than the gratitude. Thank you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,045
    So happy you are safe. Sounds like good advice to focus on the positive.
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    164
    Trek420, thanks again for the advice. You actually inspired me to write a whole blog post on this

    http://www.mindfulriot.com/suddenly-...and-gratitude/

 

 

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