For most bicyclists, operating their two-wheeled vehicle is a simple pleasure that allows them to keep fit and/or blow off steam without inflicting bodily harm on the next person who irritates them. Without either self-destructing or lashing out, bicyclists can release the stresses of the daily grind and get their blood pumping at the same time. However, there are also still those for whom the simple pleasure of gliding through space isn’t enough—those who, like madcap handyman Red Green, are not content to let a bicycle be a bicycle, and instead shamelessly manipulate it until its basic purpose is lost.
Simply souping up a bicycle beyond recognition (or usefulness) is comically wasteful at worst. Whether you can believe it or not, there are worse things to do with a bicycle. They may not always look half as stupid as a fender skirt, but the consequences of extreme risk-taking are far more severe than looking like a doofus.
No one is perfect, and even a skilled bicyclist may experience spills. Hopefully, the following mistakes are not the sort you can make by accident while going about your normal rounds:
1. Extreme Stunts
Don’t misinterpret this advice: What bicyclists like Danny MacAskill do is awesome beyond comprehension, and the fact that he was captured on tape shows that his successful completion of mind-boggling stunts is more than just a fluke. However, flouting “Danger of Death” signs to ride atop wrought-iron fences is not something we can encourage in good conscience. Without impugning MacAskill’s and others’ abilities, the thought of attaining those skills through trial and error leaves room for a lot of grisly failures.
2. Buddying Up (and Up)
Buddying up for a bicycle ride is wise most of the time, not only because nyan cats are less likely to attack two people than one, but because one person can help the other if they become injured. However, these people seem to have it mixed up: instead of going out for a group bike ride, they’ve opted to share a bicycle—all five of them. They’re not likely to get into a serious bicycle accident going at their snail’s pace, but the concept is a disturbing one.
3. Failing to Comprehend Danger
Bikeforums.net is awash with stories of near-misses. Midnight Biker, seeing that the gates were down and that the train was coming, tried to cross the tracks anyway—a risky endeavor even when no train is in view. Midnight Biker muses in reflection, “Had my tire gotten trapped in one of the little grooves… I would have been turned into a fine mist with the odd large piece of bone here and there.” KeyserSoze81 sped down a hill and flew off his bicycle when he encountered a patch of gravel. Bgraham111 muses about a time when he and a friend “decided it would be fun to try and grab the brakes on each other’s handle bars and see if we could stop the other guy. At 15 mph. On a road.” Such youthful underestimations of consequences are natural, but too many bicycle accidents are made of innocent misjudgments.
4. Using a Cell Phone
As nonsensical as it is to grab someone’s handlebars or to pile 5 people onto one bicycle, you can only fly so far in either case. Phone use while bicycling, on the other hand, doesn’t even give you that much control: it distracts you from the road so that you can’t see what risks you’re taking by distracting yourself. That’s what happened to a 16-year-old boy in Canada who, because he was texting at the handlebars, didn’t even see the parked car he smashed into. He was ejected from his bicycle, went through the back window, and then went to the hospital for the cuts he sustained as a result. Phone use on a bicycle is not as rare as you’d think—places like Chicago, Philadelphia, and the state of California have sought legal repercussions for phone use on bicycles, specifically.
5. Fleeing Law Enforcement
Bicycle accidents are not necessarily the worst thing you can be involved in during a ride. For example, a “Washington groper” (exactly what it sounds like) harassed at least a handful of women last summer, and a gas robber who threatened the employee with a butcher knife in Niagara Falls escaped on a bicycle several years ago. However, the latter was one case in which two wrongs made a right: thanks to the tree that jumped into the robber’s path, he was stopped and apprehended. A theft plus a bicycle accident led to the arrest of a possibly dangerous criminal.
Most bicycle accidents don’t happen when you’re indulging in perversions or attempting professional-level stunts—most are a consequence of garden-variety carelessness (and the exceptional carelessness described in Item 4). People in general are not looking for thrills when they hop on a bike or take the driver’s seat; they just want to get somewhere. Unfortunately, the focus on that and other goals often causes people to rush, multitask inappropriately, or simply not notice things they should.
If your health has been compromised by the actions of a careless driver in a devastating bicycle accident, and your efforts at recovery are stymied by insufficient resources, there may be more to your case than meets the eye. If this is so, then Christensen & Hymas can inform you of other options for more adequate compensation. For a free initial consultation, call at (801) 506-0800.