Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bert Hill hit by car while riding his bike

Bert Hill in 2005

From a Channel 2 story on Monday (Bicycle safety instructor says he was hit by distracted driver):

...Professional bicycle safety instructor Bert Hill said he was pedaling up Bosworth Street 10 days ago, wearing bright yellow, about to merge into the left lane when the driver of Toyota Corolla slammed into him from behind.

"I dodged a bullet so to speak, said 66-year-old Hill, who says he suffered a concussion and contusions.

"Pretty obviously it had to be a case of distracted driving, I think, couldn't be anything else, there was no other reason, and he struck me right in the center of his car," said Hill.

New details from the League of American Bicyclists reveal cars hit bicycles most often from behind, and city crashes are more likely with more lanes.

Forty-four percent of fatal bike accidents happen on major roads and highways, 38 percent on secondary roads, and 18 percent on city streets.

Speed appears to be one factor, but bicyclists say distracted driving is increasing.

"Whatever the distraction can be, it can end up changing everyone's lives, ruining someone’s life," said Hill.

The driver who hit Hill could face criminal charges.

Hill says ironically he was hit right at one of those bicycle 'sharrow' road markings.

He says he'll continue riding and instructing, lobbying for more streets to be marked for bicycles and more enforcement of distracted driving.

Rob's comment:

I first heard of Bert Hill when I read this 2005 article in the SF Chronicle: Mission: Not Impossible/Urban cycling is rewarding dream to be enjoyed that had this paragraph:

Sooner or later, an urban cyclist will be bumped or dumped, either by his or her own action (Hill says 45 percent of all crashes are solo falls, only 18 percent involve a vehicle), or by something done unto him or her. That's why you always, always, ride wearing a quality helmet and gloves. Abrasion-resistant clothing is a plus. When you start to go over, get your arms out, but don't make them stiff. Use them to absorb initial impact, yes, but even more to steer your fall into a body roll. Want to practice falls? Take a class in judo or aikido.

Hill, a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, was surely wearing a helmet in the accident described above, but he still suffered a concussion. (Wearing a helmet is controversial in San Francisco!)

A couple of months ago Hill told the Bicycle Coalition that it's "the inherent understanding of people on bikes that it is the most healthy, sustainable, affordable, efficient and fun form of transportation." Except when you have the inevitable accident, and it doesn't seem so fun and healthy anymore.

Chronicle columnist and former cyclist C.W. Nevius understood that inevitability when he wrote this last year: "There were just too many close calls. Sooner or later I was going DOWN." (Though Nevius apparently still rides on special occasions, like his recent ride with Leah Shahum.)

Bike messenger and author Robert Hurst is also realistic about the dangers he faces when he rides:

Is cycling dangerous? Yes. Yes, it is. Deadly, no, but definitely dangerous. This is actually a controversial thing to say. There are those who bristle at any suggestion that cycling is dangerous, because they fear it will scare noncyclists away from ever ditching their cars and trying a more healthy form of transport. This is a good point, but it doesn’t change the fact that cycling is dangerous. This is not some urban legend that needs to be debunked. It is reality, and we need to embrace it (The Art of Cycling, page 69).

But should we "embrace" encouraging even children to ride bikes on city streets?


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34 Comments:

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob no comment on the fact that it was a driver behind the wheel of a car that caused this?

 
At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, the plain fact is, he was riding a bicycle and putting himself at risk. Just like people who walk in the vicinity of cars. They only have themselves to blame when you get down to it.

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Not exactly a lot of facts to examine here other than the bicyclists account and him stating that "obviously" it was a case of distracted driving. How do we know the cyclist didn't swing out into the lane without warning or signal right in front of the car? We don't, it could have happened either way, so we just don't comment.

 
At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys either have an incredible ability to handle cognitive dissonance, or you're so dumb you don't even know what that means. rkeezy, what university did you attend? and you Rob?

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The point I'm making here is not about who's to blame. It's safe to assume that Hill, a knowledgeable cyclist who teaches safe cycling, is blameless.

But his accident is the sort of thing that's going to happen sooner or later when you ride a bike a lot. Regardless of the cause of cycling accidents, when something goes wrong, the cyclist is the one who gets injured.

Riding a bike in San Francisco---or anywhere, for that matter---is being way oversold by both City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition while the dangers are soft-pedaled, so to speak.

Distracted drivers, potholes, equipment failures, reckless behavior by cyclists themselves---the last Collision Report , page 25, says that cyclists were responsible for 50% of their own injury accidents---all make for a hazardous transportation "mode."

And it turns out that it's a lot more dangerous than anyone exept me thought, as that UC study found.

And concussions are a greater danger for old people like me and Hill, as a story in the New York Times told us several years ago:

People over 30 should be particularly careful because their gray matter is not packed as tightly as it used to be. And I don’t mean that only figuratively.“As you age, your brain shrinks, but your skull does not,” Dr. Gardner said. “That extra space means that the brain can bounce around inside the skull and may be more easily damaged from a blow.”

Cycling accidents like this---and cycling accidents in general---cannot be prevented by simply improving infrastructure and implementing more anti-car policies. Riding a bike has intrinsic dangers that can be mitigated but not eliminated.

I say don't do it. It's too dangerous. And it's irresponsible of City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition to encourage people---even children!---to ride bikes in the city and downplay the intrinsic dangers to unwary would-be cyclists.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"you guys either have an incredible ability to handle cognitive dissonance, or you're so dumb you don't even know what that means. rkeezy, what university did you attend? and you Rob?"

The cognition problem is yours. You make an insult when you need to make an argument.

 
At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hhahahaha i need to make an argument. No i dont. the city is making the changes necessary--on masonic, fell/oak, downtown, civic center etc. its getting better/safer for biking bc of this new infrastructure. the city gets it now. your same, tired old arguments failed bc they are terrible arguments. the only argument i need to make is that the city keep up what theyre doing and do it even faster.

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

saying that something is dangerous without dicussing the cause is idiotic and suggests that you rob and other who comment are here are really, really dumb. this blog and the comments are quite embarrassing and are exhibit a in why we have been igoniring your (bad, ineffectual) arguments. but keep making them on this blog so we can point to it and say "look, thts what some ppl thougth before we made the city great w/ more bike lanes"

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You make an insult when you need to make an argument."

actually the burden is on you to prove why we shouldnt make these improvements. weve historically had streets like the ones you want and theres a lot of blood ont he ground bc of it

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Anonymous, I went to school at the University of California, not that it has anything to do with anything. If you felt so strongly about your views, why are you anonymous? You can take those aggressive comments made without any fear of reprisal and shove them up your coward ass.

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"actually the burden is on you to prove why we shouldnt make these improvements. weve historically had streets like the ones you want and theres a lot of blood ont he ground bc of it"

This post doesn't discuss any so-called improvements. Your reading skills are on a par with your knowledge of punctuation. What "improvement," by the way, would have prevented Hill's accident?

 
At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am at a loss to understand why people do not get Rob's point. What if Leah liked skateboards and she and the city were pushing skateboarding as the new alternative to transit, walking or cars? Because skateboarding can be dangerous, groups demand dedicated separate lanes so that it is "safer" but is it with the strong possibility of falls and serious injuries? Rob's point is only that cycling is statistically more dangerous than riding public transit, walking or even driving. Why is this so hard to understand? I have taken two solo falls while on my bike and these were the only times I ever broke bones, and no vehicle was nearby or involved.

 
At 10:34 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Speaking of skateboarding, check out a recent NY Times story on the hazards of that activity (Extreme Thrills, Extreme Risks):

...According to Dr. Sabesan, skateboarding is particularly hazardous because helmets, now routine for skiers, are not required. Yet, she said, “when you land on your head on concrete or asphalt, it’s not as forgiving as snow.” The study found the risk of suffering a skull fracture while skateboarding was 54 times that of doing so while snowboarding.

Her first recommendation to reduce the risk of serious injury is to use proper safety equipment. “A simple thing like wearing a helmet can go a long way toward preventing a lifelong disability,” she said. Her own experience underscores this advice. While training for a triathlon, she flipped over the handlebars of her bike and landed on her head. A helmet protected her brain...

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What "improvement," by the way, would have prevented Hill's accident?"

a bike lane

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, this accident was apparently caused by a distracted driver, which can happen on any street in the city, whether there's a bike lane or not.

 
At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No, this accident was apparently caused by a distracted driver, which can happen on any street in the city, whether there's a bike lane or not."

This is why you are so ineffective Rob. You have dedicated your adult life to opposing bike infrastructure meant to increase cyclist safety, yet you are completely ignorant of what bike infrastructure actually is. It's pathetic and sad.

Protected bike lanes--the ones you oppose--completely eliminate the possibility of this happening. But yeah stay ignorant Rob and keep using old tired obsolete arguments.

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And this is why you bike zealots make anonymous comments. You surely must sense that what you're saying is dubious, but you say it anyway because you don't have to take personal responsibility for saying it.

Yes, if we created "protected bike lanes" on city streets, such accidents would be less likely. But the only way to do that is by removing massive amounts of street parking and/or traffic lanes on busy city streets. That of course is impractical and politically impossible, even here in Progressive Land, since you folks represent only 3.4% of all trips in the city.

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

By the way, if Mayor Lee is already worried about political opposition to raising the vehicle license fee and Sunday parking meters, he hasn't seen anything yet. I refer to City Hall's Masonic Avenue bike project that will eliminate 167 parking spaces on Masonic between Fell Street and Geary Blvd. to make your protected bike lanes.

Very few cyclists now ride on Masonic, and of course the city has no idea how many will use it once this project is implemented. Mayor Lee better hunker down for some serious feedback.

 
At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two responses from you on this and you still can't find an effective argument.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And this is why you bike zealots make anonymous comments."

We make anonymous comments bc we don't want to be publicly associated with you.

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, if we created "protected bike lanes" on city streets, such accidents would be less likely. But the only way to do that is by removing massive amounts of street parking and/or traffic lanes on busy city streets."

Wrong again. I guess you think something is "massive" when you have a brain as small as yours. It's all relative, right?

 
At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Very few cyclists now ride on Masonic, and of course the city has no idea how many will use it once this project is implemented."

How did they know how much traffic the GGB would get before they built it???????!!!

 
At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You surely must sense that what you're saying is dubious, but you say it anyway because you don't have to take personal responsibility for saying it."

Rebuttals and corrections to your poor thinking and argumentation remain valid and standing on their own without needing a public face. Your willingness to post publicly really bad arguments and poor logical reasoning are truly admirable.

And you still refuse to answer the question: what university did you attend and in what subject did you earn a degree, if any?

 
At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And this is why you bike zealots make anonymous comments."

why does it matter if visitors make comments anonymously? shouldnt their arguments hold up on their own? or would you prefer they disclose who they are so you can attack them personally without recognizing that their arguments are stronger than yours? if it's such a problem, why do u use a platform which allows anonymous comments?

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Good question. I may quit doing that. In the meantime, why don't you try to make a "strong" argument?

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't need to make an argument because Cities like SF and others around the world are already executing on arguments already won. You lost Rob.

 
At 5:55 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You lose an argument intellectually but you win politically. Actually, at least in San Francisco, the war is still going on. You haven't screwed up either Polk Street or Masonic Avenue yet. And what comes after those two battles? Both those conflicts have already eroded whatever positive public opinion advantage you may have had going in.

And then there's the MTA's struggle with that UC study. Sooner or later, it's going to have to face the music about how it's been counting cycling---and other accidents---on city streets.

 
At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And then there's the MTA's struggle with that UC study. Sooner or later, it's going to have to face the music about how it's been counting cycling---and other accidents---on city streets."

Rob, since you aren't struggling with the UC story can you please tell us what % of the injuries in the UC study were commuters vs spandex riders thx

 
At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Actually, at least in San Francisco, the war is still going on. You haven't screwed up either Polk Street or Masonic Avenue yet."

Oh but what about all the streets SFMTA has messed up already? The absolute HORROR that is Polk btw Market and Grove. The HORRENDOUS green lane on embarcadero. The TRAVESTY AND DEVASTATION wrought by the Fell/Oak bikeway. Have you even SEEN how many biznesses have shut down since that MONSTROSITY was installed? INFIDELS!!!!!

 
At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You lose an argument intellectually but you win politically."

hold on are u talking about Prop 8 or Prop B?

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Rob, since you aren't struggling with the UC story can you please tell us what % of the injuries in the UC study were commuters vs spandex riders thx"

That info is irrelevant to the UC study, which is about how the city is under-counting all cycling accidents in the city---and also probably other kinds of accidents.

 
At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That info is irrelevant to the UC study, which is about how the city is under-counting all cycling accidents in the city---and also probably other kinds of accidents."

So you admit you don't actually know what youre talking about. at least your honest

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, moron. It's obvious to anyone familiar with the UC study---or even the abstract of the study. Whether the injured cyclists were recreational cyclists or commuters is beside the point, which is that many of their accidents weren't counted by the city.

 
At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Whether the injured cyclists were recreational cyclists or commuters is beside the point, which is that many of their accidents weren't counted by the city."

you dont even realize why thats a dumb thing to say. theres a big diff between a recreational rider and a commuter and not understand the diff is a indication that u fundamentally do not understand the issue. the difference in type of riding is huge and most bike infra today is made 4 rec riders but the shift is towards commuters. commuter inury rates are much diff than rec riders.

also thanks for advocating for lowering the # of injuries of cyclists we need more people like urselves

 

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