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I'm probably preaching to the converted, but I'd like to make a plea for even the most experienced of riders to take road safety seriously.

I had an accident on my BICYCLE today. I was coming home from a two-hour, pre-work bicycle ride and a driver made a right-hand turn in front of me. I turned with him, but there were cars parallel parked on the street. I put my hand on the turning car and squeezed my brakes with my free hand, but it wasn't enough, and those parallel parked cars were getting closer faster. I whipped the handlebars 90-degrees to my direction of travel and waited for the crash. My only other choices were to slam into one of the parked cars or slide under the turning car.

I had a perfect three-point crash, and I have road rash on my knee, elbow, and shoulder to prove it. My shoulder got the worst of the crash, and I suspect it'll be a lovely shade of black, blue, and green tomorrow morning. I heard the helmet crack as it hit the pavement, I see scratch marks on the helmet, and I see damage to the Styrofoam padding.

The driver stopped and walked back to help me. I told him I was more freighted than hurt. I told him I didn't see his turn signal, and I asked him if he signaled his turn. He said he didn't know -- which probably means he didn't. The driver ahead of him signaled a right-hand turn, which was why I was hanging back beside this particular driver. Two or three other people stopped to help, but I just needed a moment to collect my wits.

This accident was my first automobile vs. bicycle accident ever. I've had some close calls with cars, and I've been in some lovely bicycle vs bicycle, racing pile-ups, but today was the first time I collided with anything bigger than me. I was very lucky. If I was a less experienced rider, I could have been in a lot of trouble.

The crazy thing about this accident is it happened on a residential access road. I was on MUCH more dangerous streets today. Just goes to show an accident can happen anywhere, and it's not paranoid to be paranoid when you're on two wheels and every other vehicle outweighs you by at least three or four to one -- and 20 to 1 is a more realistic estimate.

Now, here's the really scary part. I usually don't wear a bicycle helmet, but I did today because I rode on a street that I regard as dangerous -- not the street where I had the accident. I've spent a considerable fraction of my life either bicycle racing or training for bicycle races, and I facetiously tell people I spend more time riding than I spend walking. I don't like the bicycle helmet I currently own because it's too heavy and it interferes with my vision and I can't wear a hat with a visor when I wear the helmet and I don't wear a helmet when I walk -- and do any of these stupid excuses sound familiar? I KNOW I heard that helmet crack as it hit the pavement. I felt the thud, and the sound definitely was not a metal on asphalt sound.

PLEASE, if you're one of those motorcycle riders who won't or don't wear helmet, or if you ride with a $10 helmet, I beg you to re-think your position. I ALWAYS ride my motorcycle with a full-face, DOT/SNELL helmet, and I guarantee you I'll buy a bicycle helmet I like and I'll wear it religiously. I've survived people pointing guns at me, and I'll be damned if my tombstone will read, "He died in a bicycle accident."

David Jacobs
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