Monday, November 7, 2016

Flung from a Bicycle

Recently, both Sam and I have struggled to find time to do much of anything outside of daily requirements. While Sam usually takes his bicycle to work (and occasionally rides to work though it's a bit far, but doable if planned), lunch time riding has become a necessity in order to keep his cycling legs. He's able to get in 20-ish miles during his break and not have concerns about riding in the dark when he arrives home.

I am always a bit anxious about Sam's rides because of the amount of motorized traffic on the roads surrounding his work location and the lack of sufficient shoulders or bike lanes to use. He has made his peace with the situation and doesn't seem to mind it, but has told me on more than one occasion about close-call situations with drivers. I'm always thankful that he's paying attention, but in the back of my mind, I cannot help but be concerned that one moment of inattentiveness could result in his injury.

On one of his work rides recently, Sam was pedaling at about 25mph/40kph when he was abruptly thrown from his bicycle.
Thankfully, grass was there to somewhat cushion Sam's tumble... after which he skidded across the sidewalk below.
He felt a bump and then his tire hit the curb while he went over the handlebars and (thankfully) onto some grass, after which he skidded across a sidewalk on his right shoulder.

As he described the tale upon his return home, he assured me that no one had hit him, but when he went to check the road to see what had happened, he noticed that there was a large chunk of asphalt sitting on top of the asphalt that he simply hadn't seen while riding on the road. 
Although it is a small bit of crumbled cement pictured here, the rubble was actually a large chunk when it was hit.
The thinner tires of the bicycle just weren't able to kick the debris out of the way, which resulted in the above debacle.

The next morning, Sam was concerned that he had possibly broken something, so he went in for x-rays and an exam and was told that nothing was fractured (again, thankfully), but he had partially torn some of the muscle around his shoulder. He was and still is quite sore, but he will heal and be back on the roads again without much delay.

What troubled me most about this tale was another matter that has been left out thus far. As Sam recounted his story to me, he mentioned that another cyclist had been riding not far behind him, certainly close enough to have witnessed the scene that had just transpired. But, instead of stopping to help or even to ask a quick, 'Are you okay?' the other rider opted to just pedal by without a word.

I have always felt a certain unspoken camaraderie among other people on bicycles. Knowing that we on bicycles are all at a disadvantage when it comes to direct contact with 2-ton motorized machines and often insufficient roadway for riding, I cannot imagine watching the above scenario play out in front of me and then pedaling away as if nothing had transpired. True, Sam was not hit by anyone, but the other rider must have watched as a body was flung from his bike and skidded across the sidewalk.

To turn a blind eye and leave without a word is reprehensible. Even if I had been driving a car or walking by I would have stopped to check on the individual (for the record, there were no cars or pedestrians in the vicinity at the moment of impact). It's simply a basic human response though (or at least that's what I used to think) to check on an individual who is potentially injured. We don't abandon people who may be severely wounded or have head trauma on the side of the road. It doesn't matter if we have the ability to physically assist with a wound or not.

When I think about what could have happened to Sam, how severely he could have been injured, I become more than a little perturbed that another human could leave an injured person and think nothing of it. While I understand that riding during lunch hours is a common occurrence and often people are under time constraints to get back to their jobs, there is no excuse for not having some sort of interaction to ensure that Sam was well enough to get where he needed to go.

After the crash, Sam's front tire/tube had suffered from the impact, and he walked the bicycle the few miles back to his office. Surprisingly, other than the burst tube and no-longer-functional front tire, the bike escaped pretty unscathed. I was thankful that he was on a steel frame rather than his usual aluminium option because I'm not sure it would've withstood the impact as well, and may have caused even more harm to Sam in the process of the crash.

I suppose more than anything, this instance reminded me that we are all fragile. Although Sam came home from his hospital visit proclaiming that he is indestructible, I think he was actually lucky to have escaped an unfortunate mishap with an injury that will heal fairly quickly. I'd like to think that the lack of interaction from the other cyclist was a one-time occurrence, but I've witnessed other instances over the last year during which people on bicycles have ignored someone on the side of the road and I am hoping this is not a trend for the future.

What about you? Have you ever witnessed an accident involving someone else on a bicycle? Did you stop or proceed on? Have you ever been injured while riding? Did anyone stop to check on your well being? 

8 comments:

  1. I can't believe someone would just ride by like that. That's crazy! I'm so glad Sam will be fine, but that's really scary.

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    1. I couldn't believe it either, Kendra! Surprising what some people can do.

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  2. I was literally standing there smarting (like when you hit your shin really bad, only worse), and he drifted by, didn't even look at me. Of course, he didn't acknowledge me at the stop light a few blocks before it happend. Colorado seems to be a pretty elitist cycling community, probably because most of us moved from California : ).

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  3. I tend to be the sort that minds his own business and I certainly don't like to come off as some sort of weirdo (I'm a weirdo, I'll admit it), but the older I get, the more I try to "be the change you want to see". I stop/offer help to anybody that looks like they could use a hand. If I'm not sure if a person needs help, or is just stopped and sucking wind for a minute ( haha, like me...), I'll just slow down a bit and say hello.

    Like many others, I see other riders and myself as a community, and a community is better when people work together.
    Also, if I'm being totally honest, it's my hope that if I find myself in need one day that somebody will be inclined to help me out. I guess I'm working with the "pay it forward" type of thinking.


    Wolf.

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    1. I think we are all weird in our own way -- which is what makes life interesting. :)

      I agree with you: I would also hope that if I were in need, someone would offer assistance. I suppose there will always be those who just won't ask, and I guess I just need to learn to accept that some people are okay with traveling past a scene without a word.

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  4. That was unfortunate that the fellow cyclist did not even stop to see if Sam was ok. I always carry extra tubes and my mini-tool and always circle back to ask cyclists with mechanical issues if they need assistance. As far as a down cyclist is concerned, as an EMR I carry (depending on the specific amount of bag space on my various bikes) at 'go bag' at minimum comprising of at least 4x4 gauzes and alcohol wipes in my smallest rack bag. Conversely, if I stop even for a minute to make minor adjustments, cyclists stop and ask if I need any assistance. Maybe that's just part of our cycling culture in Oregon.

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    1. I do take a small first aid kit when going to cycling events, but generally don't carry it when out riding every day, but I think it is very smart to do (and it makes complete sense given that we just don't know what we may come upon).

      It is unfortunate that the cyclist that observed this incident didn't think it necessary to stop or communicate with Sam, but maybe it is as you have said, the culture that has developed in Colorado (not that I agree with it in any way). I have had more than one interaction over the last couple of months during which I was told by individuals that "Coloradoans are not friendly people." I think most people I have met in our nearly 14 years here have been cordial, but more often than not it seems that people keep to themselves - which is sad. Sam likes to say it's because so many came from California (but we are both born-raised Californian's and neither of us behave this way). I suspect it is because we live in a very transient state. We always seem to meet people who are here for a time and then either return to where they came from or move on to another area. It is also entirely unreasonable to lump an entire population into a group, but I understand how it develops when a person has so many encounters. Certainly, there is good and bad anywhere a person lives. I think we would fit in well in Oregon, and have often discussed it as a possibility, but I think we (particularly Sam as he seems to be affected deeply by cloudy days) would miss all of the sunshine we get locally, which is probably the only thing that keeps us from actually making the move.

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  5. For the first time in 3 weeks, I actually rode by that spot. It's funny how it's more mentally disabling than physical. I found myself slowing down and looking super carefully. Maybe it's something about Monday, as some guy almost hit me 2x. "Out of towners" I think, stupid holidays.

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