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Old 02-06-2020, 12:09 PM   #1
sckego
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SMIDSY'd by a left-turner

Aw man, another sckego contribution to this forum. Dammit.

This is the first time I've ever been in a crash involving another vehicle (over 14 years of riding). Last street crash of any kind was 6 years ago.

I was riding my Honda CB500f westbound on Penitencia Creek Road, having just left my house for the morning commute. This section of road winds lazily along the creek path, passing a bunch of blind driveways, then an intersection with Noble Ave (a narrow bridge across the creek), then a 3-way stop at Toyon, about 200' past Noble. There are two elementary schools within half a mile, and at just past 8am, this area is crowded with people heading to work or to drop off kids. Not a place to rail through, even on a nice, sunny, dry morning.



I was doing about 30 mph as I rounded the left curve, and I could see several hundred feet ahead, down to the intersection with Noble. There was an oncoming SUV (eastbound on Pen Crk) that had slowed down with their left-turn blinker on. There were a few cars stacked up behind them, and as I got closer, I could see a car on the Noble bridge waiting to turn out as well. I was expecting the SUV to turn onto the bridge, as I was still pretty far away (6+ seconds), but she just stopped there, waiting.

My view as I rounded the corner - the bridge to the right is still obscured by the turn, but oncoming traffic is perfectly visible. The stop sign on the right is for bicycle traffic on the creek trail, not for road traffic.


As I approached, I realized she wasn't going, and assumed that she was waiting for me to pass before turning. I've had many encounters where cars waited to yield to me, even though they lots of time to go. She was just waiting a stop with her blinker on, not creeping forward, no indication at all of any movement.

I was less than 40' away, maybe 1 second from passing through the intersection, when she accelerated through the left turn, directly in front of me. I *think* I was already covering the brake in anticipation of the upcoming stop sign, but I'm not certain. In any case, I instinctually grabbed the front brake lever as hard as I could. There was no gradual squeeze or any attempt at modulation - it was 100% pure reaction panic braking that locked the front wheel instantly. The road was gently bending to the right at this point, and I lowsided to the right immediately.

My skid mark (circled) starts about halfway along the white curbing, maybe 20' from the intersection. White marks are where the bike hit the ground. The further away tire marks are from something else.


I slid/tumbled to a stop in the middle of the road, and my bike slid on it's right side down to her car and bumped her rear wheel. She had come to a stop in the middle of the road as well - I think she saw me partway through the turn and did a panic brake herself. I was still lying there, cursing loudly and making sure all my parts still moved without pain, when she hopped out, came running over, and said those magic words: "OMG, where did you come from? I didn't even see you!"

To shorten the rest of the story, I was fine except for some minor bruising on my right leg; bike had a bent handlebar and cosmetic scrapes on plastics and exhaust; gear (Rev-It Commuter pants and Outback jacket) has minor tears on right knee and elbow. Lady was very apologetic and took full responsibility, and cut me a check for repairs, rather than go through insurance.

Analysis...

Man, this is a tough one. When it comes to "what could I have done differently?", the thing that comes to mind immediately is "buy a bike with ABS." It was something like a $500 option when I bought my bike, but I told myself that I'm a very experienced rider, I know what it's like to do threshold braking into a hairpin corner during an AFM race, I've daily commuted for over a decade and have lots of experience emergency braking and swerving when someone pulls in front of me, I can handle whatever comes up. Well, not this time. I had precisely *zero* time to think, only react, and my instinctual reaction put me on the ground. Would ABS have kept me upright? It would have given me a better chance, that's for sure.

Could I have used better judgement? I have a hard time faulting myself there. I was traveling at a perfectly reasonable speed, and she had all the time in the world to see me, and behaved as if she had, right up until the last instant. After all, if she didn't see me, why was she waiting there for 6+ seconds? Still don't know the answer to that one. Could I have gone slower? Sure, and she still could have turned and hit me. Am I really going to slow down to 15mph every time I pass a car waiting to turn? Realistically, no.

Other ways out? Swerving? There were cars to both sides (oncoming traffic waiting behind her, and a stopped car coming out of the bridge). I don't think there was room to go anywhere, even if I had the time to process the situation. MAYBE if I'd gone into a full left-hand swerve I could have cleared both her and the oncoming cars and ended up on the paved runoff to the left... not sure if that would have been correct choice though, as a misjudgment there would have put me into a head-on collision with the oncoming traffic.

Anyways, there you go, have at it...
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Last edited by sckego; 02-06-2020 at 01:50 PM.. Reason: Fix attachments
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:21 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about the get-off, hope you're ok and heal up quick and that you can get the bike repaired relatively painlessly.

The only thing I can suggest is the anti-SMIDSY weave- when I saw that left blinker, I'd have started weaving slightly to make my headlights more noticeable. I have a spot on my way in that is notorious for folks aggressively left-turning so I both weave and modulate my headlight when I'm approaching that turn. Saves my bacon pretty regularly.


youtu.be/tnIisFbd06o
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:27 PM   #3
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Hey, wtf, some of my attachments disappeared. Will fix in a bit.

Edit: Fixed.
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Last edited by sckego; 02-06-2020 at 01:51 PM..
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:16 PM   #4
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:33 PM   #5
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SMIDSY
Aux LED lights mounted low to give the triangle affect.
Modulating headlight
Better luck
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:20 PM   #6
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SMIDSY for sure.

I still do it most of the time even if I believe they see me.

Glad you escaped anything major.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:12 PM   #7
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Glad you’re physically ok. I know I’ve been guilty of thinking “I’m an experienced rider; I know how to brake” - interesting to hear your story.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:54 PM   #8
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In traffic like you described, I put on the highbeam(s). Truth be told, my highbeam is on 99% of the time in daylight. As I approach those threats I'll also move across my lane and back at least once. As I get into the danger zone / point of no return, I create the most space between the threat and myself.

What portion of the lane were you riding in as you approached? The image seems to indicate the center at the time of the crash. Were you there the whole time?
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:55 AM   #9
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In traffic like you described, I put on the highbeam(s). Truth be told, my highbeam is on 99% of the time in daylight. As I approach those threats I'll also move across my lane and back at least once. As I get into the danger zone / point of no return, I create the most space between the threat and myself.

What portion of the lane were you riding in as you approached? The image seems to indicate the center at the time of the crash. Were you there the whole time?
I think I was moving left-to-right in the lane at that time. I usually come by there way towards the left side of the lane, because cars turning out of the bridge are very blind - they need to pull waaaaay out into the road to see up Penitencia Creek. Staying to the left both makes me more visible, as well as putting more space between me and them. If anything, I was looking more towards the car pulling out of the bridge as a threat at that moment - I was wondering if the waiting SUV was trying to get him to turn out first (since the bridge is very narrow, and even two cars passing side-by-side is pretty tight). Once I had good visibility to the bridge, I drifted back to lane center to create space from both of them.

View looking up the Pen Crk from the bridge stop sign - visibility is pretty shit. Also note how narrow the bridge is, not much space for cars to turn in (especially if the car on the bridge is pulled way out to be able to see).

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Old 02-07-2020, 04:54 PM   #10
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If her front wheels were turned, that's a dead giveaway that you're entering a danger zone as you're about to cross her path. If the wheels are straight and not rotating, you can maybe assume that they're not going to cross your path, but I would still likely weave back and forth a couple of times and possibly switch from low to high beam just to make sure they see me.

Read the first post of this thread and tell me if you did everything that I suggested in it:
https://www.bayarearidersforum.com/f...d.php?t=536699
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:29 PM   #11
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" I told myself that I'm a very experienced rider, I know what it's like to do threshold braking into a hairpin corner during an AFM race, I've daily commuted for over a decade and have lots of experience emergency braking and swerving when someone pulls in front of me, I can handle whatever comes up.

The reality is that this is a perishable skill. Our instincts make us do exactly what you did in this situation.

The ability to build brake pressure gradually (even though we need to do it quickly) requires continuous practice.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:41 PM   #12
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This is why I like abs on street bikes. You'd likely have remained upright if you had it. I am super paranoid with left turners in situations like that. I slow down considerably, enough to stop or swerve if they go in front of me. As I approach, I will usually swerve over to the fog line to give some extra space and the swerve might make me visible to the driver.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:57 PM   #13
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It scares me when folks have their wheels turned when waiting to turn left. It generates a big SMIDSY outta me.

If they get rear ended an instant head on can occur. Even scarier when they have a blue placard hanging from the mirror.

Glad you are OK.
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Old 02-14-2020, 04:51 PM   #14
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I wonder if she was waiting for traffic to clear on the bridge (which you wouldn’t have been able to see). Maybe she was distracted by something else while waiting for her opening, and more focused on that than on what was happening in the oncoming lane?

I had something similar to me happen a couple weeks ago with my wife on the back. And although I’d like to believe I have mad braking skills from my racing days, I was very happy to have ABS that day - although not sure I got into it on my stop.

The weave, more light (I’ve got a super bright HID headlight), and ABS are all good suggestions, imho. In your case (as in mine), ABS might have been the only one of the three that would’ve mattered.

Sucks. Glad you’re alright.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:19 PM   #15
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I almost got taken out by a turner coming off a freeway exit yesterday. They waited for the two cars in front of me and then just drove right into the space where I was without ever braking. I was right in front of their bumper and they kept coming at me. Was lucky enough to swerve and accelerate to freedom, but sometimes there’s just nothing you can do if you’re not seen.
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