One of the things that still amazes me about life in The Netherlands is the bike culture. Living in Sydney I was never one for riding a bike. I liked the odd mountain bike ride but to ride as a mode of transport was both anti-social and straight up dangerous.
I write a lot in this blog about biking [commuting-via-bike post] as I am still amazed that though this is my commute to and from work, I enjoy it and feel better for it. You may have noted from an earlier post just how well Holland is set up for riding and how it is far less dangerous than in Sydney.
Miss A at 3 years old is now even riding a pedal bike without training wheels [Miss A on her bike] which is an indication of how exposed to bike riding she has been at such a young age.
Well recently I tested out how you still need to be careful as a wrong move by a car can show you how quickly you can come off a bike.
It was a normal evening riding home from work. I come through the centre of Haarlem which can really slow me down. Haarlem has bike path right through but also lots of side streets where other bikes can fly out thinking that everyone around them will just stop. Fortunately I hadn’t learnt the hard way that it is best to keep at a moderate pace when coming through the city. Generally once I get to the north end of the city I get back up to speed. The bike path from here to home is part of the road but it is wide and well marked (see image below). Cars here also have a speed limit of 30kph. On this particular day I hit my normal spot where I pick up pace but today it was a little chaotic. A truck was coming out from a side street and a car was trying to do a U-turn just in front of the truck. As I slowed down to keep well clear of the chaos, a car decided to overtake me. Well at least he was trying to overtake me, but when he got half way past me he decided to pull into the bike lane on top of me. He hit me with his back door and push me into a parked car of which I bounced off and hit is car again (now stationary) before I hit the ground.
|Bike lane in Haarlem. The arrow marks the point where I got hit.|
The pain initially was unbelievable. I landed on the point of my elbow and my weight came down on my left shoulder. All I could do was scream as the pain felt like I had snapped my arm.
A number of passers by picked me up in a daze. A very kind lady held on to me while she called emergency services and made sure that I was not concussed. Within 2 minutes police arrived and questioned everyone. It appeared the police realised that the driver was at fault and gave him a really hard time. Within 10 minutes an ambulance arrived and checked me over. By this stage I could move my arm and other than the adrenaline kicking in from shock I was OK. The ambulance advised if that changed to see the doctor and rightly suggested that I would be very sore the following day. I then went through the insurance paper work with the Police before heading home to a very worried Belinda who was shaken up at the prospect that I was more seriously hurt.
What I learnt from this; even with bikes ruling the roads in Holland that accidents can happen. I saw first hand that there is very much a standard procedure for a cyclist getting hit and the emergency services had this completely under control. They reacted and did their job super quick.
|Not my fastest ride home but I made it home.
Generally average about 37 minutes for the journey.
I track my ride in Runkeeper and noted from the time I was hit until the time I got to my front door was 35 minutes. I am fine now and the bike was OK but is now in the shop to get some love as it is a little rough from the impact.
Below is not how you should ride your bike on the road. 😉