A U-Bicycle rider crosses Douglas St. in Victoria, B.C. on Jan. 29, 2018. I was almost hit recently on my bicycle. I’d be more unsettled if it wasn’t a regular thing to have a near-miss while cycling in my car-centric city. It’s becoming the norm now, almost white noise, for me. What’s more upsetting was that my two little boys, 1½ and four years old, were riding innocently on the back of the bicycle. How life can change in an instant.
As an emergency physician who has been practising for almost a decade, half of that in a downtown Toronto trauma hospital, I’ve seen what happens when 6,000 pounds of metal have a showdown with 200 pounds of human and bicycle. Spoiler alert: The car always wins.
If the cyclist is lucky, maybe they just fall off, fracture their radius and smash their face, with resultant lacerations and bruising. Without the protection of a bike lane, another common occurrence is getting “doored” – when a motorist opens their car door on a passing cyclist. The cyclist smashing into the door goes from 30 kilometres an hour to zero in milliseconds. Brain or spinal cord injuries are not rare, lifelong disability a possibility. Oops.
But the worst ones I see are the direct collisions, often as motorists turn into a cyclist’s path without seeing them. That tremendous force can cause femurs or tibia to fracture and stick out of skin, collapse lungs, rupture spleens, perforate gut. Sometimes the cyclist can be dragged for […]