This past Friday evening, I was commuting by bicycle on the way home from work. I cross over 2 cycling/pedestrian highway overpasses on my way home, both of which have kind of wonky transitions from road to path (though I think the designers of these transitions thought they were doing their best with what they had). Both of these feature a 3-way stop on either side. I had come to a stop at one of these intersections Friday evening, and began to proceed across the intersection toward the ramp onto the pedestrian bridge, all the while watching the vehicle approacing on the right to his stop sign. It seemed he was going a little fast, but I was already making my way across, and I thought that surely he a) saw me, and b) planned to stop.
Well, whatever the case was – either he was spaced out and not planning to stop at all, or planning to stop after the line and far into the crosswalk – he ploughed into me at the crosswalk. My thoughts while crossing the intersection were “Surely he is going to stop…boy he is still going pretty fast…he’s not going to stop…he’s going to hit me!”. I was knocked over hard enough to rip my right pedal strap (I still don’t ride with clipless pedals), scrape and bruise my elbow through my shirt, scrape my knee, and significantly bend my front wheel.
What I did right
1) I didn’t significantly curse out the driver. I did, however, yell out “holy sh#$ man!” when he got out of his car, but kept it to that at least. 2) I got his contact information and insurance information. He had no problem providing this info. I felt a little weird about that fact that he didn’t seem to fazed by the experience, but I chalked it up to my adrenalized perception at the time and the fact that the same was probably going on with him. 3) I took my bike by Performance Bike in Mountain View that evening and had the team there look over the bike. They assessed that the only real damage was to the front wheel and advised that I also purchase a new helmet, which I had planned to do. 4) I contacted the driver, and he readily sent me cash via Paypal for the damages.
Where things get questionable
Many of the folks I’ve talked to since the accident say that I should have called the police. At this point, though three days in I don’t feel like I am getting any worse health-wise, I tend to agree. My shoulder started hurting a little over 24 hours after it happened, and fortunately that seems to be the extent of my latent injuries. I did a little searching on the internet, and many folks that have written articles on the subject agree as well that the police should be called. When something like this happens, you tend to be on an adrenaline rush, and because you are on a bicycle, it doesn’t feel like a real accident with liabilities at play, but it is. In addition, something I didn’t think about – if he had been high or drunk, then I just let him off to possibly go kill someone. I didn’t smell alcohol, and as it turns out he is an employee at Apple so I’d assume that he would be at least somewhat responsible, but you never know.
Things seemed to have turned out ok in this case, but if there is a next time, I plan on calling the police so that I can make an official report in case things turn out not so well. I’d encourage anybody out there to do the same. Don’t let it just slide – for yourself, and possibly for others that the driver may encounter after your accident.