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#1 2012-05-18 14:08:01

orion
Member
Registered: 2012-05-18
Posts: 1

Bike/Auto Collision 5/16/2012 on 360

Hi,
I witnessed a bike/auto collision on 5/16 on 360, one intersection south of Westgate.  I'm not a cyclist, but found this site as I have tried to find out what the condition of the rider was.  This hasn't made news anywhere in Austin, so I trust that he's OK.  Observing this accident was perhaps the worst thing I've ever seen, it rattled me to the core.  I did think that it was worth the effort to post the story here, in hopes that the rest of you could be wary and avoid this kind of situation.

Accident happened about about 5:15 on Wednesday afternoon.  360 is backed up, stop and creep rush hour traffic between Bee Caves Road and Mopac headed south.  I was in the southbound left lane, approaching an intersection with no stoplight, with two cars in the northbound left turn lane.  The car in front of me stopped to create a gap to let those cars turn, and then a car in the right lane did likewise, providing a left turn opportunity for the two cars.  Both cars went through slowly, first car got through fine, second car was struck on the side by a bike headed down the shoulder.  Big impact sound, front wheel of the bike came off and went 30 feet or so in the air, cyclist went over the car, about 20 feet, landing face down.  I didn't see the bike before it struck the car, but from the sound and result of the impact, I'd say he was going very fast.

The cyclist did show some small signs of movement, and so I don't believe he was knocked unconscious.  Many people stopped to render aid, or to serve as witnesses, and since I have no skills to render aid nor did I see the actual impact, I thought it best to stay out of the way and continue driving.  But this was very rattling to see, to say the least.

Hard to tell who would have been at fault, or how this could have been avoided.  The cyclist would seem to have through right of way, but the motorist would have had no visibility to the cyclist, nor any reason to expect a bicycle traveling at a high rate of speed.  In my thinking, this falls in the realm of an accident ... it just happened, no one really did anything wrong.

I wanted to offer this story to cycling community in hopes that we all might learn from it.  I know as a motorist, I will never turn left in those conditions without thinking that a bike might be there.  As a cyclist, I'd like to offer the following suggestion.  It is dangerous in rush hour traffic to race along next to slow moving cars on a bike.  I would suggest that if you choose to take  that risk, you ride fast only on parts of the road without driveways or intersections, and as you approach a driveway or intersection you slow down, and focus on the potential of turning vehicles.

Stay safe my friends.

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#2 2012-05-19 00:45:06

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: Bike/Auto Collision 5/16/2012 on 360

Thank you for reporting on this.  It sounds like a horrible collision, and I hope that I never have to go through what the bicyclist is going through (or what the motorist may be going through).

This collision sounds completely avoidable.  Both drivers erred and the result was a collision.  Essentially, both drivers took a gamble instead of knowing for sure that no one was else was heading toward the space they were heading toward.  From what I read in your story, the motorist is clearly at fault, even though the bicyclist could have prevented the collision.  The left-turning driver (motorist) failed to yield to the oncoming driver (bicyclist) going straight through.

I've been on both sides of such a situation: a) the driver turning left past one or more lanes where there is still space for another _line_ of vehicles to travel through, and b) the driver moving in a freely moving line of vehicles while a line of vehicles to my side allows a gap for left turning vehicle to pass through.

The last time I encountered situation (a), was at about 7:30am (May 18th) on Angelina crossing Rosewood.  As an aside, I was instructing a new driver/rider at the time and pointed out the danger that was present.

I encountered situation (b) more times today than I can count.  So neither of these situations are rare, but it takes both parties making the complementary mistake at the same time and place for there to be a collision.

In my life, I have avoided numerous collisions by understanding the risk inherent in situation (a) and (b).  I suspect that this web forum audience has many among it who are also aware of both of these dangers.  Both drivers could have prevented the collision by either ensuring that he/she was visible to the other driver or by anticipating that a vehicle could be in an area hidden by other vehicles.  The bicyclist could have anticipated crossing traffic when he/she approached the driveway or intersection.

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