When Bike Meets Car

Bike path, no automobiles, NYCDOT SR-1801

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I always knew that having an accident on my bike was inevitable, however I didn’t expect it to occur in my first week of riding and I definitely did not expect it to involve a car.  In Hamburg, the bike lane is on the footpath keeping bikes completely separate from the cars, so it was a dose of really bad luck that a car hit me whilst I was riding in the bike lane yesterday evening.

The idiot driver that hit me was reversing up on the footpath and didn’t bother looking.  Fortunately, I slowed down and had almost come to a complete stop when she hit me, thus ensuring that she only hit my front wheel and not me. However, the impact threw me off my bike and onto the unforgiving pavement.

I’m fine, just a few scrapes and bruises and a sore shoulder that is letting me know that it took the brunt of the impact.  Arya (my bike) doesn’t have a scratch on her.  She’s one tough bike.  The Dutch definitely build their bikes well.

To add insult to injury, the driver waited in her car for almost a minute before getting out to check if I was ok.  I honestly think she wouldn’t had apologised if I had gotten up quickly, but as it was it took me time to get Arya off me (she’s heavy) and myself off the pavement.  It was only after I had struggled up and gotten my bike upright that she got out of her car to see if I was okay. I think that pissed me off almost as much as her hitting me.

I hope this incident has taught the driver to look when she reverses as it honestly could have been a small kid that was directly behind her car and that kid would not have suffered just a few scrapes and bruises.

For me, I now have a healthy fear of cars reserving.  I’m never again going to assume that the driver has seen me and will do the right thing and stop before hitting me.

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15 thoughts on “When Bike Meets Car

  1. Sorry to hear about your accident, and yay for not happening anything serious to you and Arya (awesome name, btw). How annoying would it have been if you’d have had to get her repaired on the first week?

    Maybe the driver was in (small) shock and had to muster up some courage before getting out of the car? Shock makes people stupid.

    My ground rule when on the bike (rare as it is) is: always establish eye contact with drivers that might cross your way. No exceptions.

    • Mo, I totally agree with making eye contact with drivers but when they are reversing that can be kinda hard. I was going with the assumption that this driver was like the vast majority of German drivers who take great care to check for bikes. I was wrong. Never going to assume that again.

    • If I had thought of some choice words in German, I probably would have said them but at the time I was struggling to cope with the basics.

  2. Glad you are ok! Unbelievable that she chose a bike path to reverse on – crazy! Where do they want us to be – yelled at for being on the road, yet hit when riding the path! Glad to see you and Arya and not too badly worse for wear!
    I agree with Mo – I always assume they don’t see me, and try to make eye contact. While I try not to do any defensive swerving, I do try to watch out for escape routes! Keep on pedalling.

    • I am definitely going to be much more careful in the future and never assume that the driver is paying attention. I was lulled into a false sense of security by all previous drivers being amazingly awesome when it came to looking out for cyclists. Also as soon as I see some reverse lights, I’m hitting the brakes.

  3. Happy belated bday !! I was gonna write you on your bday post to tell you that you inspired me to buy a bike as well as soon as I am settle in Hamburg but now that you had this accident, you had me rethinking it lol ! I’m glad you’re ok though !

    • Thanks. :) Definitely buy a bike. I’ll write a post soon about how wonderful Hamburg is for cycling. My accident was totally a freak thing, don’t let it put you off.

  4. Maybe she was just checking that she had her insurance papers first, before she got out of the car as you could have been calling the police. Some people are just very odd.
    But I am glad you were not hurt badly, as that is one of my fears about bike riding, getting hit by a car.
    Did you at least give her an earful, when she emerged? ;)

    • If I could have remembered enough German to give her an earful, I would have, but as it was, I barely managed to tell her that I was okay.
      However, this accident was a real spot of bad luck considering the bike lane is on the footpath. Cars have no business being on the footpath.

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