Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On a clear afternoon on a quiet residential street

Sudden, Unexpected, and Improbable

Reflections at an accident scene:

On a clear afternoon on a quiet residential street, where the speed limit is 35mph, right near where the bike lanes I ride every day run out, actually just down the street from an elementary school on the second day of the new school year, something unexpected occurred, resulting in this accident. With both mirrors pushed in, the windshield broken and the denting across the roof, it looks like this Lexis RX rolled, but I wasn't there to see it happen so I'm not sure.

When I saw the results, though, I thought, be careful out there, an excess of caution is called for even on slow residential streets, be aware, be alert, accidents happen. What we do when we take bicycle safety courses, wear helmets, observe the traffic laws scrupulously, come to a complete stop at stop signs, ride alert with heads on a swivel, and listen all around at all times, is not to prepare for the mundane, routine rides that happen every day, safely, a thousand miles without incident, without accident. I don't pay for health insurance because I get sick every day, I don't pay for auto insurance (with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages) because I'm in a crash every day, I don't pay for life insurance because I die every day. I take these precautions out of the basic premise that unlikely events do sometimes still occur, that accidents do happen, that we live and ride in an imperfect world where it pays to be prepared. 

As a providing member of a family, I look at it as an extended form of responsibility, too: at least if the foreseeable, somewhat unlikely yet not completely unexpected occurs, I have taken steps to mitigate at least some of the possible negative results, and put in place at least some measures which will help from their damage from being multiplied. There's no perfect solution, of course. But there are some things that we can do. 

I make preparations because stuff happens. Not very often, but it does, and it gives me a sense of calm to know that. Knowledge that accidents happen, that I am prepared to avoid many of them, and prepared to deal with the aftermath of the one I don't avoid, leads to calm. This is a rational approach to a challenging reality. Even driving on a quiet residential street, it turns out that a 4-star rollover safety rating is a good thing to have. 


Accidents shake me up. Incidents such as this one give me pause to reflect. On a clear afternoon on a quiet residential street, an accident occurred. They happen in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times, and being prepared for them pays off in the long run.


  1. 35MPH speed limit is not a slow residential street in my book. More often than not, the busy four laners on my route have 35phh limits.

  2. wow if a bike crashed like that everything would be okay.

  3. It amazes me when I see folks who have managed to defy the laws of gravity.
    Don't they know that if cars were meant to fly it'd have wings?

  4. Steve as a cyclist as well as an experienced driver I totally agree: 35 mph is fast, and therefore more dangerous than most drivers understand. On an open street like this, a lot of people push that to 40-45mph. I edited out the text where I wrote about the erroneous perception because I started to wonder about finding statistics related to accident counts type and severity in 35 mph zones and opted to save the topic for later.

    Dan I had a very similar thought. And I wonder how many cyclist "rollovers" occur but go unreported.

    limom I did see one actually fly, briefly, once, when the driver ran the stoplight and caught the front end of a crossing vehicle right in front of me. The vehicle left the ground, exposing its underside fully to my view before coming back to earth on its side and crashing up onto the curb next to me. Its brief experience of flight did not end well.


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