Monday, July 26, 2010

Bike accident...

I finally got into a bike accident!

My right palm has lots of abrasions and a little blood, the other one is better. My bike saddle is slightly scuffed on one side but otherwise, my bike is totally fine. It was a low speed crash on the bike path between Leiden and Den Haag near De Vlietland. It is a two way path with no clear center line demarcation, but it's wide enough for four riders to go abreast.
I like to ride faster than most lolligaging dutch commuters, which is still much slower than the spandex crowd. I got passed by some racers as usual. I passed a few grandmas, some ladies in heels, and was about to pass a slowpoke man, who was riding on the far right of the path.
Plenty of room for me to pass. Ha!
Just as I was a few feet away, he decided to turn left across the path without checking behind himself or signalling. I shouted, and then crashed my front wheel into his back wheel and fell off, skidding on my palms.
Overall, not so bad but,
He politely asked if I was okay and ushered me to a local sailing clubhouse where he told them that the "meisje heeft op de fiets gevallen" which meant I fell off my bike like an idiot. Nothing about him turning left without looking! Grrr. They were very sweet and gave me band-aids.

I will ding my bell constantly now and shout, ON YOUR LEFT when I'm even thinking about passing someone. I used to hate that in Prospect Park, hearing "On your left" every few minutes even though I was riding in a straight line and there was tons of room to pass, but I guess it's necessary. 

It's interesting that I met some other former New Yorkers recently and one of them used to ride her bike in Brooklyn too. She mentioned that it felt a bit scary to ride here because of all the other cyclists! I thought that was a bit weird, cyclists make it safe, no?

I rode the rest of the 20km with lots of adrenaline in my system.

At least it wasn't a cabbie.


  1. sheez!! Glad it wasn't more serious! I tell you, I mostly avoid the Multi-Use paths in and around Boston during the warmer weather seasons specifically because of the unpredictability of casual cyclists... I was in nearly the same situation you described above a few weeks back, but thankfully wasn't as close as you were and was able to avoid it.

    Ride safe, a heal swiftly!

  2. Don't shout "On your left" as it will be confusing; the only things we shout on the road are unprintable so if you are misunderstood the consequences may be even more serious :-). For warning purposes Dutch bicycles have a bell. And in general treat other cyclists as if they are deaf and blind, just like you would when walking among pedestrians. Bicycles are just feet to us, remember?

  3. Ok! Only the bell. :) I do use mine, but sparingly, only when a cyclist is drifting. I'll be sure to use it more often.

  4. Helmet? They do come in handy, bad hair effects notwithstanding.

  5. I knew that would come up :) No helmet, it wouldn't have helped anyway. It was low enough speed that my head did not get near the ground. Gloves would have helped!
    I always wore a helmet in NYC, the cars were dangerous and high speed collisions were more probable. Here it just seems unnecessary.

  6. Riders should always wear helmet for their own safety. Control your speed, don’t go too fast and not too slow, but most of all, don’t be a show-off. It’s the best prevention and safety measure you can give to yourself and to other riders as well. Stay safe always!

    -Raleigh Crowl

    1. Don't be a show off? That's your advice? In the Netherlands people ride their bicycles they way you would walk down the sidewalk. It's normal, it's boring, it's everyday. It's not for showing off. What a ridiculous idea.
      Thanks Mr. Lawyer.