Capn's Blog

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Perils of Biking

Lately I've been riding my bike to work. It's cheaper than a train ticket, is great exercise (2 x 20km each day), it's better for the environment, and it only takes about 15 minutes more than the train.

One of the dangers of bike riding though, is having some sort of accident. Unlike in a car, you have no shell of steel around you to protect you. It's just you hitting the road, and if you're unlucky, another car.

Because having a collision with a car is so bad, I try as much as possible to avoid busy roads, favouring parks, bike tracks, and quiet back streets. But there are some places on my route where I have no choice but to share the road with cars.

Since bikes have two wheels, and are very light, it's easy to have an accident. The question is not if, but when. And for me, the when was this morning.

I was on the road with cars ahead and behind me, traveling at about 30 km/h, into a busy intersection. I needed to turn into a side street, so I raised my hand to indicate. Unfortunately, the road is very bumpy at that place, and with only one hand to steer, I lost control of the bike. I hit the road on my side, and my bike helmet hit the road very hard. For a moment, everything looked blue and green.

I guess I was pretty lucky to not get run over by the car behind me. I pulled myself and my bike onto the footpath and let the cars have their road to themselves again :-)

The next ten minutes were the worst. I tried sitting a little and standing a little, but I blacked out three times. A shopkeeper came out and was trying to help me. I knew he was there but I couldn't hear a word he was saying.

I have badly scraped my elbow, my shoulder and my hip, and I also think I'll get some bruising on my hip. My bike isn't damaged, but my helmet is broken in two places. They are designed to break and crush on impact, so I'm not surprised. I remember the force of my head hitting the road, and I think that if I wasn't wearing a helmet, I would have been in deep trouble. This morning, the helmet did the job it was supposed to do.

As you can imagine, I didn't feel like riding any more this morning, so I wheeled my bike to the nearest train station, and finished my journey to the office by train. I tried to sit so that others could not see my bleeding arm - my day may be spoilt, but why spoil it for others?

By this time, I was starting to feel quite a bit of pain. I was hoping and wishing for the train to go a little faster so I could get to work. Once I got to work, first thing I did was take some strong painkillers. Fortunately they have now taken effect! I have washed the bloody areas with a disinfectant, and soon I will go and buy some bandages.

I haven't yet decided whether I'll ride home tonight. It's likely I'll take the train, but I think I'll see how my hip feels.

How do I feel about riding now? I still want to do it. Falls are part of riding bikes, and my other reasons for riding are still the same. I have to work harder on minimising the time I ride near cars though. I'm quite fearful of an accident with a car. The car will win for sure.