A few weeks ago I was heading east on Mass Ave, going to work. I was riding cautiously, as I always do, averaging about 12 MPH when I entered an intersection a second after a car did. The driver was creating what cyclists refer to as a left cross, which means a car takes a left turn and doesn't yield to oncoming traffic, like me. I didn't have anytime to slow down. I believe I hit my brakes but I still slammed into the car and was thrown off my bike onto the hood of the car and slid off onto the pavement, ruining my day. The crash itself wasn't horrible. I didn't brake anything although I bruised both knees and my thigh. I had a couple of cuts on my left arm. But I didn't hit my head on anything and my face was fine. I had just gone from 12 MPH to zero in less than a second. I don't recommend doing this at home. I'm curious to know how far you would have to fall from to get the same impact speed but I've been kept busy between work and my family to figure that one out.
So, as I said, I didn't hit my head so I was fortunate in being as able as possible in responding to this new, post accident world. The first thing I did was jump up and assess myself and I felt like I was largely intact. The second thing I did was pull my bike off the road as the driver, who stuck around, pulled his car off the road. He was a livery driver and had two passengers in the car, who were asking me if I was alright. I'm sure it looked worse than it was. I then noticed that my bike wouldn't roll straight and I thought, "I want to call the police because there is property damage."
The third thing I did was look for a pencil in my pannier but realized Josh's post accident card wasn't in my bag. I also realized that I had nothing to write on. I was a bit overcharged at this point and realized I might be in shock although I'm not sure if that is true. I worked to slow down and consider how to continue. I realized that I could take pictures of the driver's license and registration using my phone which, surprisingly wasn't broken since I hit my thigh right where I had the phone in my pocket. I then managed to look up the non emergency police number and called them and asked them to come, which they did quickly.
The first thing that the officer asked me was if I was alright, which I responded in the affirmative. He asked me if I needed an ambulance and I said no. He asked me what happened and I told him. He also asked me if I was wearing a helmet, which I was. He then asked the driver what had happened and driver told the officer the same thing as what I said. It didn't take much to describe what happened.
I felt pain in my left thigh but didn't think it was major. But then I tried to bend my knees and the pain in my thigh was overwhelming so I decided that I would go to the hospital. Just then the paramedics arrived and started checking me out while I was standing. They poked and prodded and apparently decided that nothing was broken. Still, my thigh was clearly a mess and I was more than happy to check it out.
At one point I realized that my GPS was still running and put it on pause. I almost thought, "I should delete this ride" but then, luckily, I saved the track. The GPS shows me stopping at all red lights lights and going about 12 MPH when I suddenly stopped. When the police officer asked, I had estimated my speed at between 12 and 15 MPH. It turns out I didn't need the GPS backup but it was nice to have. I have a friend who was called in as an expert witness for a less fortunate person who was killed by a truck driver. He is using the GPS track, along with data on Strava, to disprove the truck driver's story and prove that the cyclist followed his same safe riding habits (which couldn't account for a driver not paying attention). I have considered not recording my commutes on the Garmin but I now think I will continue that habit.
I was aware enough to find out what the officer was planning to write in his report (that the driver would be cited and he was) before the paramedics dragged me into the ambulance. I also watched my bike put in the back of a police SUV. They wanted me to leave it on the street locked but I wanted the evidence preserved since the bike was clearly a mess (it turned out to be far worse than I initially thought, with the fork, the top tube, and down tube bent, among other damage).
So that's the first 15 minutes or so after the accident. The insurance issues haven't been bad. The fact that the driver was cited led to the insurance adjuster stating that the driver was 100% at fault and making the process easier for me.
Medically I should be alright and I was very happy that I went to the ER. When I was in the room waiting for the doctor, I noticed that my left knee was quite swollen, which led to x-rays which determined that nothing was broken. I have full range of motion and my MD, who I saw in a followup the five days after the collision, thought no ligaments or tendons were damaged. While I was in some pain for a while, which woke me up in the night when I turned over onto the knee, that's almost cleared up. I still have pain if I try to kneel on that knee. At my doctor's advice, I've been driving so I can rest my knee but I hope to be riding three to four weeks after the collision but I won't be bound to that, should I still need time to heal. The pain in my thigh was diagnosed as a hematoma, which is no longer painful but I have ugly bruising that is just appearing now as the hematoma is breaking down.
While this was unwanted, painful, unpleasant, and a drain in time and other ways, I was indeed lucky. I would much rather have hit the car than have entered the intersection a second earlier and had the car broadside me.
One further downside to the collision is that a colleague saw me from a bus as I was standing and getting checked out by the paramedics. He mentioned this in a group meeting and I think it put, or renewed, the fear of cycling into most of the people present at that meeting. I don't think that the collision alone would make my wife want me to stop commuting to work on my bike but the recent fatal collision in Porter Square has given me new fear of drivers. I've been cut off by trucks and cars at that same intersection and while I can avoid it with a longer route to work, I can't avoid all dangerous intersections. But I will be more careful than ever when I ride.