Hit by a car for the first time

Tags: bike

Today was the first time I got hit by a car. On my (recumbent) bicycle. First things first: nothing is wrong :-)

If you look on this map, I crossed the “Winthontlaan” right in the center of that map from right to left. Contrary to that map, the cyclists have the right of way crossing that road (since half a year or so).

I crossed the road. The first half of the road was full of cars, as it often is late in the afternoon. So cars coming from the right don’t have a very good view on the cyclists that want to cross. The driver didn’t notice me. When I was crossing, there was quite some room between me and an approaching car, so I assumed he would stop. Room enough. And cars normally drive slowly there because of the unclear situation. This car did, too.

Only… he kept on driving. Weird to experience it. You see a car approaching and it doesn’t stop. There were no alarms going off in my head, only cool calculated distance calculations :-) I remember concluding that I would get hit.

Also weird: I don’t remember exactly what happened when I got hit. I just ended up on the ground. The whole process probably only takes three seconds, so no wonder you don’t remember the exact process.

The car only hit the back of my bike near the bag with my laptop backpack. From the right side. The total center of gravity was probably a little bit above the point where it hit, so I probably got lifted a little bit and ended up on the right side of my body.

  • No personal damage, I got up right away and everything checked out OK.

  • The owner of the car stopped immediately and first inquired of my health (“that’s the most important thing”). Very kind, correct and helpful!

  • We then checked out my bike. We had to adjust the angle of the front wheel and wriggle the brakes a bit, but that was about it.

  • I got the car owner’s email address in case I did find some additional daamge. I’ll mail him this summary if I don’t find anything when I check out my bike tomorrow :-)

  • I totally forgot to inquire after the car, weird enough. I asume it has no damage, though, as it hit my bike in a nice soft padded spot.

So: no harm done. And a gallant car owner that helped me afterwards. Not a bad way to get an accident :-)

An hour later I started to get sore on my left leg. I probably hit my steering bar with it or so. I know for sure I’ll feel it tomorrow. Nothing wrong, just sore.

Oh, I have gotten one thing out of the accident: I now know what was bothering me with my bike for the last week. My bike felt a little bit “squishy” when steering. Something somewhere was loose. I just couldn’t find it. After the accident it worsened a bit and I finally spotted which nut I have to tighten. Funny.

As a former dutch soccer player used to say: every drawback has its advantage.

It also has the advantage of cheaply instilling in me the need for a bit more defensiveness in my driving. Not that I’m driving recklessly, far from it. I even stop for red traffic lights, unlike 90% of the dutch population :-)

Some legal/dutch comments for those that live in a country where cycling is not ubiquitous:

  • I simply had the right of way, so I had the right of way. Sounds logical, but the stories I sometimes hear from the UK sometimes make the dutch situation sound like a luxury. “But it was a cyclist” seems to make everything right (for the car owner) in the UK, it seems.

  • It was dark, but I had my lights on. And that’s a luxury, as 40% of the cyclists don’t have a light in the Netherlands. So I was very visible (compared to most other cyclists). I have a good (85 Euro) headlight.

  • Yes, I have a recumbent bicycle that’s lower than “normal” bicycles. That puts my head more or less on the same level as that of car drivers. Normal bicyclists are higher than cars. I assume I cannot be blamed to be more or less car-height? Especially as I had my lights on. And my light is at the same level as most other bikes.

  • If there would have been damage (which there wasn’t), the money would have to be payed by the car driver unless the cyclist was very, very clearly and recklessly at fault. This way, the law protects the most vulnerable traffic participant. If you drive a car, you technically drive a 1000 kg killing machine, so you have more legal responsibility than a mere cyclist or pedestrian.

  • I have cycled since I was a young child. At the age of 9 I already cycled 1.5km to school on my own. Nowadays I cycle 9km every morning and afternoon. I’m 42 and this is only the first reasonably serious accident I have. I had one crash with another cyclist at almost the same point. The other cyclist totally cut the corner and hit me straight on even though I was driving neatly on the right side of the road.

    So: cycling in the Netherlands is very, very safe! And I enjoy it every day.

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About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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