Well, I can cross "Survive a collision with a car turning left" off my motorcycle bucket list.
Thursday, October 11, 2012 at approximately 12:30 AM, I accomplished this feat.
My motorcycle, however, did not. More on that in a bit.
I am a presenter for a program called "Share The Road With Motorcycles"*. Normally we call it "Share The Road" or "STR". Regardless of what it's called, it's a presentation designed to give non-riders, especially new drivers, an introduction to motorcycles and motorcycling, with the goal of raising their awareness of a segment of the traffic they will be encountering on the public roads.
In the STR presentation we discuss something called The Lethal Left Hand Turn. Pretty simple concept, actually. Analysis of motorcycle crash data shows that right-of-way violations account for somewhere between half and two-thirds of the 'motorcycle vs. automobile' collisions. The graph that accompanies the stat kind looks like a peace symbol, indicating, on a clock face, the direction from which the threats come. Generally, 12:00 to 5:00 is threats from the right, i.e. cars pulling out of driveways or backing out of parking spaces, that sort of thing. 5:00 to 7:00 is threats from behind - following too close, 'running up' on bikes stopped for traffic control devices, etc. 7:00 to 12:00 is the threats coming at the rider from the left. This is the segment that produces more motorcyclist fatalities than the other segments combined.
So, back to Thursday morning....
I used some personal business time Wednesday night so I could take my son to a school activity Thursday morning. After stopping at Walgreen's, I was on Broadway headed west, minding my own business when all of a sudden a car whipped a left hand turn aimed toward the driveway of a fast food restaurant. Unfortunately I was between the car and the driveway. I was able to brake slightly, based on the skid marks, but there was no time for evasive action. The car hit my bike at the front wheel and left engine guard. I came off the bike, flew approximately 20 feet downrange and landed on my right side.
I don't think I lost conciousness, but I did get the wind knocked out of me for a few moments. A number of people showed up and started asking me if I was all right. I started a quick self-assessment to determine the extent of my injuries. I could wiggle my toes and my hands worked, but I had some pain in my right knee and hip, so I decided to stay put. I could hear sirens so I knew medics were enroute. Medics and Fire arrived on scene and the questions started again. The medic treating me determined that it was unlikely that I had a spinal injury. They helped me to my feet. Standing was fine but taking a step was painful, both in the right hip and knee.
I couldn't see the front of my bike from where I stood, but the impression I got from the cops and medics was that it wasn't pretty. The Tour-Pak had opened up and spilled its contents. I asked for my laptop, and the cops had already secured my pistols. I didn't think anyone from my club could get there in time to get the bike, so I asked for the local tow company to pick up and secure the bike. The cops promised to pick up and secure the loose items from the Tour-Pak.
Loading into the ambulance and the trip to Jennie Ed were uneventful. I was able to call Maria and let her know what had happened.
The ER was much like pictured on TV shows - transfer from the ambulance cot to the exam gurney, changing out of street clothes into an exam gown - why don't nurses understand suspenders? - vitals, medical history, etc.
The doctor came in, checked me out and ordered x-rays. The x-ray techs were there in a few minutes and took me for x-rays. They denied it, but I'm pretty sure they both moonlight as physical therapy techs - they have that sadistic streak that says pain is a necessary part of the job. I'm sorry...my leg, knee and hips don't bend those directions!
Back to the exam room to wait for the radiologist to read the x-rays and report to the doc. The doc wanted me to try a few steps to see if the pain had improved. It took help to get up from the gurney, but once up, I took a few steps, gingerly. The hip was able to tolerate as much weight as the pain in the knee would allow. Unfortunately the effort also triggered a bout of nausea...Maria said I turned green. This time when the nurse asked if I wanted something for pain I said "Yes, please!".
Eventually the doctor decided I wan't likely to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon and issued release orders. In the mean time, Maria went home and exchanged her Dodge Neon for my Dodge Caravan, figuring I could fit in the van easier than in the Neon. Hell, I can't fit comfortably in the Neon when I'm NOT in pain and in a leg brace!
So, now I'm home, with a profile saying that I can't return to work until cleared by my doctor, instructions for follow up at the Orthopedic clinic and a prescription for pain pills.
The Ortho followup was uneventful, with the exception of being fitted with a semi-permanent splint in place of the velcro and neoprene joke and getting a prescription for an antibiotic.
Friday morning Maria drove me to the tow yard where my bike is being stored so I could retrieve the remaining personal property - tools, coats, etc., get a good look at the whole bike and take some photos.
It was sad to see my loyal steed mortally wounded.
Calls have been made to insurance agents, family and friends. The healing process is beginning, with the hope of returning to work soon, not because I don't want to draw short term disability at 70% of normal wages, but because I'm already getting bored!
If you ride, please ride safe...if you drive, please watch for motorcycles!