GObike News

August 16, 2019

To Be Hit by a Car

How does it feel to be hit by a car? Two cyclists tell us. 

We see the aftermath of crashes involving bicyclists smattered on the headlines of local news outlets as cyclists are injured or killed by motor vehicles. News outlets and police reports often blame the cyclist for their injuries, noting arbitrary facts such as, the color of clothing the cyclist was wearing or the usage of headphones or a helmet. Rarely, if ever, do we hear from the cyclist themselves. 

This past week, two cyclists who were in crashes, one a hit-and-run, the other a near miss, wanted to provide statements about their experiences. 

“On the evening of Tuesday, August 13th, I was involved in an accident with a motorist as I was riding my bike south on Elmwood while heading home. I was riding along the side of the road when a person driving a large truck made a last minute turn into the parking lot in front of me (directly into my line of travel). The driver did not use a turning signal nor did they check their mirrors even once, despite my shouting. Luckily, I was able to think quick enough to react in a manner that, honestly, probably saved my life. As a cyclist, I did everything in my power to avoid this accident. I know that isn’t always the case and I’m not here to point fingers or lay blame, but to simply ask for drivers to be more aware.

We are sharing the road and we cyclists have a responsibility to obey basic traffic laws while trying to keep ourselves safe alongside massive steel machines. As a motorist, you also have responsibilities to adhere to—being aware of those around you, and specifically using the tools you are given (i.e., mirrors, signals, etc.) to help you relay your oncoming actions all while doing so in a way that is safe to your surroundings. I was lucky, and my experience and skill on a bicycle helped me walk away from this accident after some stitches and a few hours in the hospital trauma unit. Another cyclist may not have had the same outcome so, please, let us look out for each other.”

—Ben Cliff, age 25 

“It’s very scary to hear friends behind you yell “car” and then hear squealing brakes, with no idea where it is coming from or who it might hit. I was catapulted from my bike and was suddenly rolling across the ground. I heard the screeching car wheels speeding away. I moved to the sidewalk and was applying pressure to my head wound. All my friends came to me and asked if I was ok. When the police arrived, they asked what the car looked like but I hadn’t checked, because I was too scared. Then the ambulance arrived and all I could say was I’m sorry. I felt like I had to completely yield for the car. We had chosen the Elmwood route home, thinking that it would be safer because it was well lit. In every other major city, there are bike paths on major streets. Not on Elmwood. There is a stigma that wearing a helmet is uncool, so I left mine in the car that night. I wish I hadn’t. Helmets save lives. I had to have a CT scan. I was very lucky.

—Anonymous, age 17

Have you been in a crash in the past five years? We want to see it. Head over to our interactive map to mark the spot where you got hit.

Why are we collecting crash data? State data available through the DOT takes a long time to receive (1 to 2 years!) and we suspect it is missing many data points. With data, we can help build awareness around problem areas.  

In the meantime, until we fix our infrastructure, education and enforcement, here is some additional advice on how to safely interact with each other on the streets: 

  • Cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians: be predictable. Obey street signs, signals and road markings. Respect each other's right of way. 
  • Remember, cyclists have the right to to use the road and take the space needed to safely operate. Bikes belong on the street. Sidewalks are only allowed for children 14 and under. 
  • Motorists: speed kills. Slow down. 20 mph is plenty on urban streets. Pay attention to cyclists and pedestrians and do not drive while distracted.
  • Bicyclists, use hand signals to communicate your intentions to turn, change lanes or stop. New York State requires a white front light and red rear light from dusk to dawn, and a sound making devise at all times. Ride in the same direction as traffic. 
To Be Hit by a Car