Savings Cycle Service Interruption – More Photos Coming

This week turned out to be a challenging one and probably the last riding I’ll be able to do for a bit, hopefully getting back on the savings cycle before winter sets in. Everything started innocently enough with a Monday morning meeting at the Centre for Social Innovation and then completing the day jaunting about downtown. Tuesday included a great morning ride but a fairly disheartening ride home.

The issues with poor car pool infrastructure continue on Don Mills Rd. Just n of Sheppard, a silver sedan rode right on my wheel before, determining the coast being clear, zipped close enough to me that I was blasted 6 inches right by the passing jet stream. The driver than stopped at the next light, which has to be no less than 1200 m down, and I yelled through the closed windows that they were in a car pool lane. The driver motioned that they were intending to turn at the next light, again more than 1200 m down the road. The incident caused by the lack of right turn lane markers along the entire road…and bit too much of a rush home on the part of the driver.

Amazingly, only one light further down, I pulled in front of a line of cars that were turning right and came to the light just in front of a TTC bus. The driver took immediate exception to this yelling, “what do you think you’re doing?”

I, still agitated from the silver sedan, yelled back “the sign says bus and bike lane and this is the safest place for me to be. You’re turning right there” as i pointed the 300m to his next stop and a young woman waiting for her ride.

At this point he actually inched the bus up about 4 feet so as to be right behind me and continued, “get out of the way!”

“you’re being paid to get around safely in that thing and I hope you’ll do so”

As the light turned, I shot easily in front of the bus, my companion deciding to move to the right and let the bus pass, putting her in the path of traffic about to turn right as the bus moved on. As I passed the next bus stop, young woman still waiting, the bus flew around me, 3 feet or less to my right and pulled to the following stop another 500 meters down.

From there I just rode casually past the bus and continued on, soon enough I was far enough ahead of the TTC vehicle that it was nowhere in sight as I turned off of Don Mills onto Overlea. My infrastructure struggles would continue on Thursday after a day of carpooling to and from the office in between.

I worked from home to start the day and then headed to lunch at The Spoke on King W. My next meeting was at B Espresso on Queen between Church and Jarvis. I headed down King, past Bay and then something must have happened that caused me to miss my usual route, turning down Yonge, or any one of the other preferred routes I would usually take from King to Queen. In the end, I was on Jarvis where bike lanes would be installed starting the next day. The new lanes promise to turn Jarvis from one of the worst cycling streets downtown to one of the best and may make the street a front runner to form the initial eastern boundary of Toronto’s new BIXI system starting in May 2011. At any rate, I crossed Queen and Jarvis at 1:50 or so pm.

Laid up/Messed up

The problem is, I cant remember anything after crossing Bay and King and when I came to at St Michael’s Hospital around 2:55 I could only think about staying very still as my head started to catch up with my senses. It turns out that I was struck by a car going around 40kph. At this point, I don’t know anything beyond that with certainty but an officer at the hospital told my wife it didn’t appear anyone was at fault…an accident. I really am not a risk taking cyclist, especially on the city bike that I ride downtown, and judging the from my many scrapes, bruises, stitches, holes, road rashes, and swelling I’ve come to a bit of a hazy story that I will get more clarity on when I heal.

The best I can figure it, I crossed Queen heading north on a yellowing light, keeping to the right and watching the crosswalk as the red hand turned solid. At that point I must have checked for my left turn, seen nothing, and begun my turn onto Queen heading west. Apparently I failed to see a gray car continuing through the orange light. The rest of the information I received indirectly from the police via Erin pieced together with the map of my wounds that I’m currently living with and my having seen many episodes of CSI.

It seems that I either came to be perpendicular with the car or that I was caught at about 45 degrees by the corner of the car. In either case, the 6 stitches in my front left shoulder suggest that I struck the bottom, jagged parts of the windshield near the wipers. My head continued into the windshield, leaving bruising all along the left side as well as cuts on the left side of my forehead, eyebrow, and nose. I cant tell, but i may have lost a small patch of hair. The police told Erin that the windshield shattered and collapsed, but did not break. My sincerest apologies to the person that hit me for leaving that memory with them.

From there it seems I slid off of the hood and across the lane, skidding off of the back of my left shoulder and flipping onto the outside of my left arm and knee. I kept flipping and received a blow to my inside right knee where the medics debated putting 2 stitches, opting not to when a then more serious trauma came to the ER. The bottom of my right elbow got some great road rash at that point as well. I’m extremely grateful, if this scenario proves anywhere near correct, that I was unconscious for an hour so that my wounds were cleaned already when I came to…that is certainly not an experience I would want to remember. It seems I blacked out at the impact given the 5-10 minutes I can’t remember leading up to it, but Ill have to determine later whether I was kept unconscious by artificial means by the ambulance which I assume picked me up, or from the trauma itself.

I owe the tremendous hospital staff a post to themselves, but my care was a great experience…given the circumstances.

The glaring thing about all of my challenges cycling this week is that they seem to be fixable. In the case of the first silver sedan, the answer (I feel) is a better carpool lane including 24
Hr designation and clearly marked right turn areas. For the TTC vehicle, education is key…and a better focus on picking up the passenger he left roadside would be good too. In the case of my accident, If i end up being correct in my assumptions about what happened it is almost certain that a bike lane would have allowed the collision to be averted. It would have been a wider area for me to turn through, giving precious extra seconds to identify the car coming through the yellow light. The good news is that those lanes on Jarvis are going in. There is much more work to be done though as even these bike lanes are being challenged. Despite a plan that wont impact traffic flow and treats street users as equals for being people, rather than for being cars, mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi swore that he would take the Jarvis lanes if elected.

Who does this help? It obviously doesn’t help me but does it help the woman (from the vague police record I have at this point) driving the car that hit me? I’m fairly certain she could do without the image of me bouncing off of her car when you closes her eyes. If not that, then the broken windshield has to be an inconvenience. Does it help the general system to have cyclists in the hospital consistently as the result of accidents? No matter what protection cyclists use, they will continue to lose -sometimes badly- when colliding with cars. Its just common sense that one is much much bigger, stronger, and faster. And why wouldn’t a city want to encourage cycling? It increases the potential for population density and allows for more green so ace with the reduction of parking space needs. It keeps people much healthier, is a proven stress relief, and encourages a more human-scale interaction with the urban landscape as well as basic things like weather which combine to add a more people-centric sense of a city. Additionally, the money you save by foregoing the car – which is an option that many don’t consider realistic given our infrastructure and their own thoughts on safety – can assist in social mobility and increase spending available for local goods and services, rather than oil that we either import or gruesomely extract from tar sands.
Long story short, fighting bike lanes especially when they don’t even impact auto traffic flows in a meaningful way, seems inane if not insane.

As for me, I’m feeling far better after almost 48 hours than i should. I’m not much to look at, and am in a lot of pain, but I can only feel joyful at my good fortune to be here writing this. So long as my ring knee heals up, I will be back in the saddle sooner or later…I need to check out the new bike lanes on Jarvis.



This Week’s Rides

Monday Around Town – 17.65km, $12 saved

Tuesday to Work – 44.01km, $6 saved

Thursday Ride n Wreck – 6.17km, can’t really put a price on surviving this one.

Total KM Ridden: 827.02
Total $ Saved: $290

Curent Savings: $125– 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

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3 Responses to “Savings Cycle Service Interruption – More Photos Coming”

  1. Alexwarrior Says:

    Sorry to hear about the collision! I hope the recovery is swift!

    I found your article while searching Twitter for ‘Jarvis’. I live in Vancouver and commute to the office by bike and heard on the CBC about the bike lane installation on Jarvis so went on twitter to see what people were saying about it. You guys are very lucky to be getting Bixi before us… I want Bixi in Vancouver!

  2. Jarvis Says:

    Poor Sherlock!! I hope you feel better soon. I’m amazed that you were able to write all of this while being all banged up. I know you will use this as an opportunity to make the roads safer for cycling, because that’s what you do!! Rest up & heal!!

  3. Cindy Says:

    This Week’s Rides

    Monday Around Town – 17.65km, $12 saved

    Tuesday to Work – 44.01km, $6 saved

    Thursday Ride n Wreck – 6.17km, a vibrant, adventurous, peaceful spirit saved!

    Nick, I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. OMG! Here’s a gift to keep you optimistic: http://www.copenhagenize.com/

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