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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