Bicycles versus Buicks

ast week the staff of Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center mourned the loss of another doctor. This doctor was struck from behind and killed while riding his bicycle. He was riding legally and was wearing the correct personal protective equipment, but it wasn’t enough to save him from a vehicle that was bigger than him.

No bicyclist will ever come out of a vehicle-bicycle collision unscathed. The degree to which the resultant injuries are mitigated will be a factor of environmental, physical, and psychological conditions. Let us look at a few of these.

Environmental: What type of street is it? Residential neighborhood, city street, country road, or divided road, each has dangers that must be anticipated. For example, in residential areas, bicyclists encounter dogs, kids, trashcans and inattentive people backing out or pulling into driveways. City street riders share the road with commuters, bus drivers, distracted drivers, and pedestrians while dodging potholes and drain grates.

Out in the country, a bicyclist may ride on relatively narrow streets, but with traffic traveling at 55 miles per hour or more. A car or semi travels at 55 miles per hour will be upon you and your bike traveling at 15 in a matter of seconds. The vehicle’s driver has to see you and then decide what to do. Even if they are paying attention to driving and have no distractions, it still takes a second or two to decide.

At this speed, the vehicle is travelling almost 81feet per second. This means he will have travelled over 200 feet by the time his brain processes the information and sends the impulses to his body to react. Add to this that most cars take over 200 feet to stop from 55 miles per hour, and the driver will need to see you when he is at least 400 feet away just to be able to respond safely to your presence.

If a curve in the road, hills, the sun, or your dark clothing in any way causes the vehicle driver to not see you from 400 feet away, he will probably have to swerve to miss you, or worse.

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