02 August 2012
Having cycled at least part of the way to work on and off for the last 10 years I’ve been lucky not to have had any trouble with cars aside from a couple of idiots that thought it was fun to shout as they went past. However, yesterday I was actually hit by a car for the first time. Fortunately both myself and my bike somehow came out of things unscathed. This is a somewhat self-indulgent post, but I feel like I need to write this down even though the only lasting effect was a bruised buttock :).
On my route home there is a 3 exit roundabout at the top of a hill. I was turning right when I noticed a blue BMW coming towards the roundabout in the lane to turn left - so he was going to follow me off my exit. There was a white car in the other lane that had stopped and was waiting for me to trundle past (I’m pretty tired by the time I get to the top of the hill). As the BMW approached my thought process was something like:
- “He’s going a bit fast, typical aggressive BMW driver I guess, he’ll brake hard at the roundabout”
- “Actually he’s going to have trouble stopping at the line, I’ll leave him a bit of extra space just in case”
- “He’s is going to stop right?”
- “Oh dear (actually something a bit stronger than that), he’s going to hit me”
- “I wonder how much this is going to hurt”
At this point I think I turned even further away from the car, but at the speed I was going I don’t think it made much difference (the earlier turn to give him space definitely helped though). Fortunately it was a glancing blow as he was turning left and I think he hit the bike first, before my bum bounced off the right hand side of his bonnet/wing. I don’t remember the time I was in the air, the next thing I remember is seeing my bike land further from the car than I did and standing in the road shouting at the driver of the car (I must have turned around in between but don’t remember it).
The bike somehow went out cleanly from underneath me even with the PowerGrips on my pedals, I guess the low frame of a Brompton helped here, and I managed to stay on my feet after bouncing off the car, otherwise things would have been much more unpleasant.
To his credit the driver did stop, helped me check over my bike and put the chain back on (he’ll need to clean his stearing wheel after driving home with bike chain grease on his hands!). Somehow the bike seems to have escaped totally unharmed save for the chain coming off, some bits of road on the ends of the rear axle and a small slight scuff to one side of my t-bag. Given that both ends of the rear axle look to have scraped up a bit of road the best I can come up with is that the bike initially went down on its left and skidded away briefly on its tyres and rear axle bolt before flipping over and landing on its right (which fits with my general impression of the bike bouncing as it went away from me).
The driver said that he simply hadn’t seen me and, as he was heading directly into a setting sun (and very few people try to deliberately hit cyclists), I believe him. He was genuinely shocked at what he’d done and hopefully will be a bit more careful in the future - the white car stopping in the other lane ought to have been a big clue even if he hadn’t seen me.
As far as I’m concerned I’ve learnt four things:
- If a car looks like it hasn’t seen you, even in broad daylight with an orange bike, then there is a good chance that it really hasn’t.
- I should consider wearing my day-glo yellow cycling jacket even when it’s not cold.
- Bromptons are tougher than they look.
- I should have got his name, address, and/or number plate (and ideally that of one of the witnesses). A camera phone would work well here. Even though I think my initial assessment of everything being fine was correct, I was slightly in shock and could easily have missed something. Without these details I’d have no way of trying to get any help paying for any damage I discovered later on.