Crash Analysis: Part 2

Well, it’s been two weeks since my accident, and I seem to be healing nicely.
Anyhow, now that I’m pretty sure there’s no long-term damage, here’s what happened. As I said last week, I decided to ride one block of my commute on the super-busy route 11/15.

Here’s my artistic rendition of the roadway. 11/15 is a two-laner, with a turning lane in the middle. There are fairly wide shoulders.

Bike Crash

I needed to go north around the park, then make a left onto the side street. I didn’t feel like fooling around with crossing traffic twice, so I did something a bicyclist is never-ever supposed to do: I rode against traffic.

Here is a diagram of the situation. The southbound lane is stacked full of green pick-up trucks heading south into Harrisburg. I am the rotund, bright yellow, bicyclist heading north in the shoulder of the south bound lane.

Bike Crash

My intention was to turn onto the side street. There was also a car waiting to make a right onto the highway (indicated by the red pick-up truck). Our respective intended paths of travel are indicated by the dashed lines.

Bike Crash

Note that our intended plans of travel intersect. This is a bad thing, and is why you are never, ever supposed to ride against traffic. The driver of the red truck was looking to her left, waiting for an opening in the traffic. As I approached the intersection, my spidey-sense was tingling slightly, but I didn’t see any opening in the traffic that would have allowed her pull out in front of me, so I went for it.

Evidently, there was a small opening in traffic. Without turning to look the other way, she stomped on the gas just as I was crossing in front of her.

Bike Crash

Her passenger-side front quarter panel hit me with a force that was totally amazing given that she only had about 5 feet in which to accelerate. I was knocked off my bike, and hit the pavement pretty hard.

The aftermath was that my front quick-release skewer snapped in half, my front fork was twisted in a strange and unnatural configuration, and my seat and seatpost rotated 90 degrees anti-clockwise.

I’ll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say I do not recommend anyone try to rotate your seat post with your butt. Parts of you will turn purple that you don’t want purple.

A few days later, I noticed that the steel rails of my Brooks Flyer saddle were actually twisted in a cork-screw kind of fashion. I shudder to think what might have happened had I not been riding a sprung saddle.

Brooks Flyer

Apart from saddle trauma, I had two nice symmetrical top-tube bruises on my thighs, (one from the impact of the car, and one from the impact with the ground) and various minor scrapes and bruises all over the place.

Overall, I was very, very lucky.

A few people have asked me if I plan to ask the driver to pay for the damages to my bike, and for my medical expenses.

I do not. I consider the accident to be “mutual at fault.” My fault for riding on the wrong side of the road, and her fault for not looking when pulling out into traffic.

My bike sustained about $300 worth of damage, and my medial expenses amount to a $15 co-pay.

Considering that I easily could have been seriously injured, killed, or castrated, $315 is not a very big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Most of the swelling has gone down, and the purple parts are less purple now. If the weather is cooperative, I think I might go out for a short ride this weekend, and get a late start on my new year’s resolution to ride more, to commute more, and to always ride on the right side of the road.

Crash Analysis: Part 1

So, it’s been a full week since my bicycle accident. Now that I can’t ride for a while, I’m bored out of my skull, and thought I’d do a little over-analysis on how this whole thing happened.

I crashed, in large part, because of poor route selection for my commute. Route selection is a tricky thing sometimes. Here’s the basic overview of the routing challenges on my commute.

OpenCycleMap image of my commute

Notice that between my house in Marysville, and my job in Summerdale, there is a big honkin’ mountain in my way. I’m also penned in to the East my the great and mighty Susquehanna River. The river, in her infinite benevolence, has seen fit to carve me a nice, relatively flat floodplain through the mountain, in order to make it possible to cycle to work.

There are only two public rights-of-way along this floodplain. One of them is US 11/15 (a high-traffic, nasty highway), the other (Main Street) is a lovely, low-traffic road along the river, with scenic views of the river and the mountains.

Opencyclemap of the only two possible escape routes from Marysville

Naturally, I ride on Main Street. The problem is that there is only one way to get on Main St, which is through a tunnel under the railroad tracks at the north end of town. Getting from my house to that tunnel is where I ran into trouble.

The basic problem is that my house is separated from the tunnel by a nice big park. I have three options to get around the park.

OpenCycleMap of my three options for getting on the otherside of the park in Marysville

  1. King’s Highway (in blue) — A slow climb up a narrow, shoulder-less road
  2. Park Drive to US 11/15 (in red) — Having to cross three lanes of rush-hour traffic twice within a half mile
  3. Cut through the park (in yellow) — No traffic to deal with, and there are usually interesting waterfowl in the creek

Normally, I use option 3, and cut through the park, stopping to say hello to the Blue Herons and Egrets in the pond. But on the day of my crash, the footway through the park was covered with snow and ice, and so I decided to use option 2, mixing it up with the rush-hour traffic on the highway.

This turned out to be a mistake…


A bunch of people noticed in my Dailymile widget, that I was involved in a collision with a car on yesterday’s commute. At some point, I’ll probably write a big long story about the whole thing, complete with navel-gazing about the meaning of the universe, etc.

In the meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been typing a thousand times in response to a thousand emails from lots of lovely people concerned about my well-being:

  1. Are You OK? – As far as I know, yes I’m ok. I’m going to see a doctor tonight tomorrow, just to make sure. Mostly just scrapes and bruises. It was 20 degrees out, and I had a few layers of wool on to cushion my fall. 🙂
    Update: — Doctor says I’m ok, but I’m not supposed to ride bikes for at least a month 🙁
  2. What Happened? — I don’t really want to publicly divulge all the details, just in case for some reason all hell breaks loose and the driver ends up suing me for scratching her bumper with dynohub shrapnel or whatever, I don’t want some lawyer using my own blog against me in court.
  3. What about your bike?— Front wheel (shinamo dynohub) totally destroyed, front fork really badly bent. I don’t know if the fork can be fixed or not. Rest of the bike seems ok, but I haven’t really given it a good look.

    Update: — Took the fork over to Pedal Pusher. They said fixing a fork would be totally unsafe, but were not able to find a suitable replacement in their pile of spares, or from any of their suppliers. Fired off an email to Ozwald, to see about having a replacement custom-made.

  4. Where did it happen?Here. About a mile from home.