My second bike wreck in Holland could have been much worse. In the bike lane I rang my bell, steered left to pass a couple of teens, and one of them veered into me distracted by something the friend pointed out. His backpack shifted into my hand, tore a nail, and forced my front wheel into the road. Had a car been coming at that moment…well I hate to think about it.
The way my heart pounded after that was nothing compared to getting the call from one of our sons that his brother had been in a wreck. On the phone the news was that two men were hollering at my son in Dutch, the police were arriving on the scene, my son was up but bleeding, and bicycle damage was sustained. Needless to say, I got there as quickly as my peddling feet would carry me.
Raised voices lowered with mom on the scene to assure the racing bike owner that we do indeed have the Dutch personal liability insurance. My son was bleeding from scratches on his hand and had a fist-sized abrasion across his ribs. The bikes were what suffered the most. Whew!
What did the police say? They rebuked the race-cyclist for not carrying his national ID card, and then left us to fill out accident reports. While I’ve heard that in accidents involving cars and bikes, the car is always at fault, and I’ve also heard that any accident involving a child under 12 holds the adult responsible, the latter did not hold true. Bikes are required to be in the bike lane moving in the same direction as traffic, and because my son crossed early and was going the wrong way in the bike lane, he was at fault. All our children learned a lesson that day about bicycle safety and how insurance works.
I wish I could say that was the last accident I’ve seen. One day we woke to icy conditions and saw three bike accidents as we drove the 3 km to school. My younger kids couldn’t get over the white-haired woman whose head wound was bleeding down her face at the traffic circle. (Of the approximately 260 fatal bike accidents in the NL every year, 40% are cyclists aged 70-90.) But that’s not the worst.
If there are no bike lanes, cyclists are allowed to go the wrong way on one-way streets. Within a week of our son’s wreck, we heard that a friend of the boss was leaving the grocery, stepped out to cross the street after only checking for cars coming from the one-way, and was nailed by a bike speeding through the congested area from the opposite direction.
How badly can a bike hurt a pedestrian?
The gentleman’s ankle and his tibia were broken up so badly reconstructive surgery was required. Ever so grateful for broken nails and light abrasions.