This article has been necessitated due to internet Twitter discussions about a recent photo posted by Gorski Consulting warning cyclists of a specific injury mechanism.
The above photo was a Twitter post sent while the Gorski Consulting website was down and Covid complications were delaying the reactivation of the site. This photo was provided with a brief explanation. One of the limitations of Twitter posts is that they are very short. Much like e-mails the lack of additional communication cues can lead to misunderstandings as to what is meant. Never-the-less this does not excuse persons viewing the photo from commencing a belligerent series of uninformed rants.
Many readers interpreted the Twitt as victim blaming. That the message was sent to blame cyclists for collisions where they are rear-ended by approaching motor vehicles. It seemed illogical to them that someone could be blaming the width of handlebars on a bicycle for a collision result that could not occur except through the exclusive fault of the evil motor vehicle driver.
The rants went further to suggest that Gorski Consulting was just a biased firm working exclusively for insurance companies for the purpose of directing blame onto cyclists for civil litigation purposes. Others searching for the Gorski Consulting website (which was down at the time) reported that the search engines were reporting the site was unsafe and was likely closed because of attempts to steal personal information from visitors.
Another persistent theme was that laws in Ontario require that motorists pass cyclists at a lateral gap of at least 1metre. Thus any motorist who strikes a cyclist from the rear is automatically at fault regardless of the manner in which contact was made. The commentators made their view known that it was illogical to blame cyclists for such a collision as I was obviously attempting to do.
It was clear that the vast majority of responders had an emotional attachment to fault and blame. The idea that someone would be discussing an injury mechanism without including a discussion of fault or blame was very foreign to their thinking.
As the comments persisted I attempted to respond to those that were, at best, less illogical. After spending two evenings in these discussions it became apparent that the vast majority of persons I was attempting to converse with were just loud-speakers. They were essentially tape recorders with a “play” button constantly applied, with no ability to actually listen. Eventually I had to apply the Twitter “Block” feature to those with whom there was no chance of any meaningful discussion.
At one point I commented that I would create a website article about the meaning of the photo that I posted. This article would contain more details from actual, real-life collisions and it would be posted once the Gorski Consulting site was up once more. But after the second evening of discussions it became obvious that no matter what was posted there was a purposeful intent by many to confuse, misrepresent and mislead. I had serious reservations about proceeding any further. On the other hand, not all travellers on the internet can be completely illogical. This last thought was the final deal-breaker. This resulted in my decision to post the following details.
So I will begin with a few real-life collision examples. I have to be careful here because these are investigations that I had been retained to evaluate by clients. I have previously never revealed anything publicly about the collisions I have been retained to examine. This requires some certainty that the information cannot be used to identify the specific incident. What I chose was to go back many years and select some older cases. I can say that all the cases described here are at least 20 years old. Having reviewed the photos I am highly certain that there is no trail left that can be used to identify the specific incident. I have also been selective in not disclosing all the evidence that was available. I have decided that the public should not have this additional detail because it could lead to the identification of the specific incident.
So let me first look at a common, high-severity impact of a cycle and what the typical evidence might look like. The 2 photos below provide views of a cycle that was struck from the rear on a rural road. There is an obvious and severe deformation to the rear wheel. I will not go into details but the speed of a striking vehicle can be estimated from noting the “throw distance” of the cyclist and/or cycle. Preliminary calculations from the cyclist/cycle throw distance indicated that the cycle could have been propelled up to a speed of 80 to 90 km/h as a result of the impact. While this speed may be over-estimated it can be generally said that this was a high-severity impact. But, somewhat incredibly, the cyclist survived. Unfortunately the cyclist sustained major, permanent brain injuries.
A statement from the driver of the striking vehicle was evaluated. There were also several witness statements that were considered. The complete police investigation was also available. The site was also examined. Although the striking vehicle could not be examined photos of the damaged vehicle provided ample evidence of how the collision transpired.
The undisputed determinations from all involved, including the police, was that this cycle was rear-ended such that the contact was with the centre of the front end of the striking vehicle. So the above photos show what the collision evidence looks like on a cycle with full overlap between the cycle and the striking vehicle.
By the way, since many internet crazies indicated that I was the evil representative of insurance companies who blame cyclists, I can indicate that I was retained by the personal lawyers representing the cyclist.
Given my investigation a written report was unnecessary. The opposing parties accepted the liability issues and could quickly move on to argue the damages portion of the civil suit.
For interest, the two photos below show the inner portion of the cyclist’s helmet. My comment here is that the helmet was a large difference maker between death and major injuries of the cyclist.
For further interest I have presented two photos below showing the rear tire of the struck cycle. Reconstructionists use many forms of evidence. Initially this may be physical evidence. All evidence is analyzed. This may be followed my additional calculations, simulations, on-site testing and so on. Procedures like these cause conclusions to be supportable, not just nonsensical comments made from biased, thin air.
The two photos below illustrate the examination of a tire tread for characteristics of scrape marks and similar details.
Now let us look at a second example. The cycle below was also impacted from the rear on a rural roadway. But note that there is no evidence of deformation to the rear wheel. Yet there is evidence of deformation to the left handlebar. The left handlebar was bent forward. Yet there is no evidence of any other damage to the cycle.
Closer views of the end of the left handlebar contained evidence of contact damage, as shown in the photos below.
As the internet crazies talked about my being the insurance industry’s evil representative that places blame on cyclists in civil litigation cases I can indicate again that I was retained by the personal lawyer of the cyclist in this case. It was the insurance company’s expert who tried to create the argument that, as the striking vehicle approached, the cyclist made a hard left steer into the path of the vehicle.
The insurance expert attempted to explain how the cyclist’s head struck the vehicle’s right A-pillar while the actual overlap between the head and the A-pillar was too wide. The only explanation, he reasoned, is that as the cyclist steered hard to the left the cycle was tilted to a certain angle which placed the cyclist’s head further to the left resulting in the head impact.
In contrast I wrote the following in my report:
“In our examinations we found physical evidence that the front handle bar, forks and front wheel were rotated rapidly to the right such that contact was made between the opposite (right side) of the bike frame and the brake assembly. There is damage on the frame matching with the brake assembly.”
I then proceeded with my analysis as follows:
“Our analysis indicates that the handlebars protrude about 29 centimetres on each side from their mutual anchor. When the bars rotated they would sweep around a circle with a diameter of 58 centimetres and a circumference of 182 centimetres (See Figure 5). Based on our testing using *****, who is of a similar physique, the rapid rotation would have the effect of pulling the cyclist’s left hand forward then inward or to the right. However the right hand would be pulled backward and inward or to the left (See Photographs 18 through 22 at the back of this report). The general effect can be best appreciated by considering that the cyclist’s body was positioned behind the circle created by the rotating handlebars (See Figure 6). The cyclist was attached to the rotating circle by his two hands. As the circle rotated clockwise the cyclist would also be pulled in that direction.
More generally, basic physics indicates that a body traveling in a circle has a tendency or desire to travel in a straight line away from the centre of a circle (Newton’s 1st Law). This can be simply observed by rotating a rock on a string and then cutting the string. The rock wants to travel in a straight line away from the circle but is maintained in a circular motion by the force exerted by the string. In a similar manner, the cyclist’s body (rock) is attached to the rotating handlebars by his hands (string) and as the rotation occurs his body is propelled clockwise and to the outside (left) of the circle.
Our scale diagrams indicate that, in a static state and with both objects perfectly vertical at time of contact with the handlebar, the centre of the cyclist’s head would be about 90 centimetres in front of the right A-pillar and about 30 centimetres to its right (See Figure 5). Note however, that Mr. *****’s assumptions would likely place the cyclist’s head considerably further from the A-pillar because of the sharp angle at which the bicycle would be approaching the Pick-up truck (See Figure 7).
Assuming the speeds reported by Mr. *****, the cyclist’s head impact should have occurred about 50 to 60 milli-seconds after the initial contact with the handlebar. Assuming the handlebar was rotated at a speed of only 50 km/h and the initial speed of the bicycle was 20 km/h, the speed of rotation with respect to the bicycle’s body would be about 30 km/h and the 1.82 metre circumference of the handlebars would reach a rotation of 90 degrees (1/4 rotation) in about 55 milliseconds. Yet the head of the cyclist was located behind this circular motion and therefore further away from the centre of rotation. If we assumed an absolutely rigid system and this head rotated in unison with the handlebars, the head would rotate through a circle of diameter 83 centimetres and a circumference of 261 centimetres (See Figure 5 and Photograph 11 of our report). In order for the head to rotate around to be positioned 30 centimetres inboard, it would only need to rotate 1/8th of the circumference and this could be done in about 28 milliseconds.
Although we have reported exact numbers in the above analysis it is obvious that this discussion can only be viewed in general terms. The numbers are used to show the general basis for our opinion. In reality the cyclist’s body and the handlebars cannot be treated as a rigid system. The cyclist’s head would lag behind the rotation. The exact interaction might depend on how hard the cyclist hung on to the handlebars. It is quite unlikely that the cyclist could maintain his handgrip throughout the rotation. But the above results provide ample leeway to prove our case. The general direction of motion has been demonstrated, and the time to reach contact with the A-pillar is reasonable when the cyclist is fully upright, and not bent to the left as indicated by Mr. *****. The lateral distance of 30 centimetres (about 12 inches) is from the A-pillar to the centre of the cyclist’s head. Considering a possible non-central impact this distance could be shorter. Also, the cyclist’s head would be about 120 to 130 centimetres above the ground. As indicated by Mr. *****, any slight tilling of the bicycle/cyclist could easily bring the head closer to the A-pillar by several inches. And any northward travel angle of the Pick-up truck toward the cyclist would also reduce that distance. So there is clearly ample time and opportunity for the cyclist’s head to be located at the A-pillar, without implying a left turn by the cyclist.”
Some of the photos that accompanied my report are shown below. In the photo below we see how a cyclist’s left hand would be placed in a normal riding position and we also see the deformed left handle bar in relation to that normal position.
If the cyclist’s hand was able to travel with the deformed handlebar the photo below demonstrates how the cyclist’s hand would be pulled forward.
However physical evidence indicated that the handlebars were rotated fully clockwise as shown in the photo below. If the rider was able to hold onto the handlebars throughout this sequence it would result in the hand/arm positions shown below.
The rider’s upper body in the above photo is not positioned to the left of the cycle because, in this static position, the rider has to bend to the right so that he does not fall over to the left. In the dynamic situation of the collision the cyclist’s upper body cannot re-balance itself and would rotate to the left. The head would likely be the body part furthest to the left and therefore this would explain the isolated head impact of the striking vehicle’s A-pillar.
This is an example of the scenario described in my original Twitter post. It demonstrates how a situation could exist where there is only a small overlap between the striking vehicle and the cycle. This causes an initial contact only to the left handlebar. If the rider was able to stay in his normal seated position there might have been no contact between the rider and the striking vehicle. Or perhaps just contact to the cyclist’s hand and/or forearm. But there is a special circumstance. When the handlebars are rotated the rider’s arms can also rotate. And this can cause a rotation to the upper torso leading the head to travel to the left. While this mechanism is not common it is also not irrelevant. In certain instances major head injuries can occur.
Much of how such a scenario unfolds is likely based on how firmly the rider holds on to the handlebar and the magnitude of the force applied by the striking vehicle. It is likely that at a higher impact speed of the striking vehicle the handlebar may be ripped out of the cyclist’s hands without much effect on cyclist’s upper body. Yet for lower impact speeds where handlebar rotation is less severe the cyclist’s grip on the handlebars may be sustained sufficiently that the described mechanism occurs. We will now look at such a lower impact scenario.
I will now present a final case involving the impact between a bicyclist and a gravity wagon that was part of a combination of two wagons being hauled by a pick-up truck. The evidence from this case will be revealed in more detail because I believe this detail is needed in order for the public to appreciate how those details matter.
The photo below shows the final rest position of the cycle on the right shoulder. The visible blood stain is where the cyclist’s head came to rest. Unfortunately this is a case where the cyclist sustained fatal head injuries.
Looking at the photo of the cycle above, along with the photo below, there appears to be no evidence of damage to the cycle. Contrast this with the very obvious crush of the rear wheel of the cycle in the first example where the cyclist survived.
So would it not seem peculiar, examining the two examples, that the collision here resulted in fatal injuries without any real evidence of damage to the cycle?
Incidentally, do you notice that the cycle is not equipped with a mirror? That does not explain everything since some cyclists have mirrors attached to their helmets. But the rider in this incident was also not wearing a helmet.
The photo below shows a view of the struck cycle in the foreground and in the background one can see the red, rear, gravity trailer stopped on the shoulder.
Below is a side view of the truck and trailer combination. The full length of this combination was about 19 metres or similar to the length of a typical tractor-trailer.
Let us consider some further evidence. The driver of the Pick-up truck-wagon combination provided a statement which I’m not going to display here because it was provided in confidence. So I’m going to paraphrase.
The driver stated that he first observed the cyclist 500 feet ahead of him. The driver was travelling 30 km/h. The speed limit on this road was 80 km/h. There was a van following this driver. On approaching the cyclist the driver honked his honk for approximately 10 seconds. This long time of application was so that the driver could be certain that the cyclist knew of his approach. The driver received confirmation that the cyclist heard the horn because, while the cyclist was originally riding about 4 feet from the asphalt edge, the cyclist then moved to the right so that he was riding about 1 foot from that edge. As the driver continued his approach he released his accelerator pedal and thus he believed he would have been travelling slower than 30 km/h as he began to pass the cyclist. The driver also moved to the left as far as possible, causing his left side tires to be within 6 inches of the roadway centre-line. He could not cross the centre-line because there was opposing traffic approaching in the other lane. As he passed the cyclist he observed that his vehicle was about 3 feet away from the cyclist and therefore he was not concerned that he would strike the cyclist. The driver kept looking in his right exterior mirror to observe the cyclist as the passing occurred. He saw his first wagon pass the cyclist. He then glanced toward the oncoming traffic. As his eyes returned to look in his mirror the driver noted that the tires of his second wagon were “beyond the cyclist”. Then the driver suddenly observed the front wheel of the cyclist turn toward the right about a 45 degree angle and he thought the cyclist was purposely intending to steer onto the shoulder. Then the driver observed the cyclist in the process of “falling off his bike”. The driver thought he was clear of the cyclist and he could swear that he didn’t contact the cyclist at all. The driver lost sight of the cyclist so he continued travelling forward about 75 to 100 feet just in case the cyclist was travelling with the wagon. He then pulled over on the shoulder of the road and went back to see what had happened. As he approached the van driver who had also stopped, the driver asked the van driver if he saw what had happened. The van driver told him that his wagon had clipped the cyclist. The driver disagreed.
And later in the statement the driver noted that a police officer came to the driver’s residence and informed him that an autopsy showed abrasions to the cyclist’s left leg and buttock that was consistent with contact by a tire.
In a supplementary statement made to police the driver stated that the cyclist “fell towards the trailer and the bike went away from the trailer”.
I’m not going to discuss the contents of the autopsy report as I have decided that this content is too intrusive and, weighing the need for transparency against sensitivity of medical information I do not think the public needs to grope into the these details in order to understand my further comments. I can say generally, and confirm that indeed, the report indicated that the cause of death was related to a severe head injury and that there was a “blunt force injury to the left leg and buttock with abrasion and bruising”
A witness was following the wagon combination in a van. Because the statement does not apply personally to accusations made against the witness I have decided to include it as it was written, as follows:
“I was directly behind a farm vehicle from about 6 to 8 minutes. The vehicle was a farm wagon, there was at least 2 trailers, and I could not see what was pulling it. The vehicle was going about 30-35 km/h all the way up the road. I was a couple of car lengths behind him at the most. I didn’t pass him because there was too much oncoming traffic. I could see there was more than one trailer when I edged out to look for oncoming traffic. The trailers were staying within the lane but were swaying back and forth – the swaying being between a couple of inches and a foot. The vehicle was mainly in the middle of lane. The trailers never touched the shoulder, and I never saw him cross the centre-line. The right side of the trailer was consistently between 1 and 2 feet from the right shoulder. The first instant I saw the cyclist he was to the right side of the rear trailer and he was upright on the bike. Just before this the vehicle did a gentle movement to the left by about 2 ½ feet as if he was passing something. He then started to swing in back to his original position. The cyclist was about a foot onto the road. His head was in my direct line of sight and that is what I focused on. He was beside the rear right wheels. The bike went out from under him. The wheels on the bike went towards the shoulder. The upper half of the cyclist went in towards the vehicle. His head hit a piece of metal that angles down at the very rear of the trailer, from the top to about ¾ of the way down. At this point the trailer was still on the pavement, the trailer was about 1-2 feet from the edge of the shoulder. After his head hit, the cyclist spun to his left about 90 degrees and then starts to go back. He was still partly on his bike, and was falling backwards. By this point I was braking and swerving around him. In my right side mirror, I saw his head hit the shoulder, the back of his head. His bike was right beside him.”
In a supplementary statement the witness reported:
“I did move the bicycle to get at the gentleman. The bicycle – like the gentleman was half and half on the roadway and the shoulders”.
The driver of the Pick-up truck/wagon combination was charged with Careless Driving. The Crown’s synopsis of the case acknowledged that the collision occurred on busy road. It was also acknowledged that “…a large amount of traffic congregated behind the Pick-up truck/wagon” and it was acknowledged that the Pick-up truck’s speed was 30 km/h on this rural road which was posted with a maximum speed of 80 km/h.
However the description of the collision indicated that “The rear right tires of the second trailer struck the back of the cyclist’s left leg. The collision caused the cyclist to lose control of his bicycle, and he fell sideways, striking his head on the gravel shoulder”. This contrasts with the witness statement of the van driver who clearly stated that the cyclist’s head “hit a piece of metal” of the trailer.
The crown synopsis also stated that “…there was no damage found on the bicycle except that the handlebars had been twisted to the right”. It was also stated that “No damage was found on the pick-up truck or any of the trailers. We can see the bicycle at its final rest position in the two photos I attached earlier. While there could be a small amount of rotation of the handlebars to the right, it is not comparable to the massive rotation that was caused in Case #2. This minor rotation demonstrates that the contact force was likely not large and it would not be expected to be large given the likely small difference in speed between the cyclist and the wagon.
On the rear of the cyclist’s green work pants the following markings were found:
Left Buttock: Black scuff mark just under the pocket, matching the area of abrasion on the cyclist’s buttock.
Left Leg: Large black scuff mark on back, extending from behind the knee to the calf area. Markings consistent with tire marks. Markings in same area as abrasion on the back of the cyclist’s leg.
To summarize, the pattern of injury to the deceased involved the major, fatal, head injury to the top-back-right of the scalp. But there was also a prominent injury to the left buttock toward the left flank. This injury was accompanied by a scraping action in the clothing and also on the left buttock.
It was estimated that the trailer combination was travelling at about 30 km/h while the cyclist was travelling at 18 km/h. At this speed difference of only about 12 km/h it becomes difficult to explain how a severe head injury could occur at the top-left-back of the head. The Crown’s synopsis seemed to imply that the major head injury, including a massive skull fracture, was caused when the cyclist’s head struck the gravel shoulder. I disagree with that conclusion.
In my first ten years of employment with the University of Western Ontario Multi-Disciplinary Accident Research Team I was involved in comparing lists of injuries to the sources that might have caused them in hundreds of motor vehicle collisions, some involved cyclist injuries. Much of these investigations involved detailed measurements and photos of the involved vehicles. Massive skull fractures are not caused from striking a relatively soft surface like a gravel shoulder. In the present case, the most logical source would be the stiff and unprotected portions of the steel trailer just as was described by the witness who saw the cyclist’s head impact. But how could this occur?
Assuming that the cyclist and cycle were positioned in a normal upright orientation the situation suggested by the Crown synopsis could be as illustrated by the standing volunteer representing the cyclist shown below.
The Crown’s synopsis implied that the front tread of the wagon’s tires struck the left leg and buttock of the cyclist. But that is improbable because of the implied overlap between the cyclist and wagon that would have to exist. The wheelbase of the wagon was 3.36 metres. We will see later in this discussion that this overlap would have to take place in about 1 second. Given several witnesses reported that the wagon was not involved in a sharp change in direction, and the same for the cyclist, this rapid development of the offset is not reasonable.
Also, If the cycle and rider were struck by the front of the rear wheel, as shown above, the rolling tire of the trailer would be expected to contact the left buttock and pull the cyclist downward. But then how could this explain the severe head injury at the specific location of the head where it existed. The volunteer’s head is substantially to the right and below the structure of the trailer. And in this scenario the cycle should have been crushed by the wheel of the trailer. Yet there was no major damage to the cycle.
The photo below shows another angle of the orientation of the volunteer and the front of the trailer wheel as suggested by the Crown’s synopsis.
As shown below, an impact to the cycle might propel it forward along with the lower portion of the cyclist. But the rotation of the trailer wheel would tend to drive the cyclist’s body downward and away from the structure of the trailer.
This unlikely scenario is also shown in the photo below. Where is the opportunity to cause the major head injury to the diagonal beam at the rear of the trailer? The probability of a major head injury is low in this scenario.
So an alternative scenario is shown below. What if the left end of the handlebar of the cycle was struck by the side of the rolling tire of the trailer, causing the handlebars to rotate clockwise. In this scenario, where the difference in speed was only about 12 km/h, the impact to the end of the handlebar would cause a lessened velocity of rotation and it would be more likely that the rider could maintain contact with the handlebars rather having the handlebars yanked out of the cyclist’s grip.
In this scenario it is the rear portion of the rolling tire which contacts the left buttock of the rider and, instead of driving the cyclist downward it propelled the cyclist upward, as shown below.
As seen in the previous case, it is the head that leads with its travel to the left and the rider’s head is lifted into contact with the diagonal structure of the trailer. The important point is that there is additional velocity involved. Not only is there a 12 km/h difference is velocity between the cyclist/cycle and the trailer but there is an additional velocity imparted on the body of the cyclist by the rotating tire. This additional velocity is what contributes to making the impact of the head more severe.
Now could I be wrong in these interpretations? Of course I could. But I do not believe that this is likely. I conducted a thorough assessment in each case and I concluded that a dangerous mechanism existed that would not be readily obvious to the public.
But let us look further at scenario with the gravity trailer. At a speed of 30 km/h the trailer combination travels 8.3 metres every second. At a speed of 18 km/h the cyclist travels 5.0 metres every second. So for every second the trailer combination catches up to the cyclist by 3.3 metres. Imagine the scenario where the cyclist is initially at the right front corner of the pick-up truck. If the trailer combination is about 19 metres long then, by the time about 5.8 seconds has elapsed the back of the trailers is about in line with the cyclist. Does that not seem to be a long time for the cyclist to detect the presence of the trailer combination and do something about it?
Furthermore, imagine that the cyclist was 100 metres ahead of the pick-up truck when he detected its presence. It would take about 30 seconds before the front end of the pick-up truck reached the cyclist’s location. Is 30 seconds not enough time for the cyclist to recognize the presence of this wide vehicle and consider the option of steering onto the gravel shoulder until the unit passes? But this cyclist did not equip himself with a mirror and he was riding along a busy rural road without a helmet.
Another point, let us imagine that this collision just happened a few days ago. What if the cyclist was scanning Twitter messages and came across my advisement of the danger of slight contact to the end of a handlebar? Rather than entering into a rage about being blamed for a future collision, what if the cyclist sent an enquiry to me or obtained further information from a website article such as this? Going back to the collision, If he saw the pick-up/trailers passing by him at 12 km/h faster than his speed would he have originally thought “this trailer is close and large but it is going very slow, what possible harm could it do to me at that speed?” or would he say “But wait a minute, that article I read a few days ago reminds me that even a slight contact could cause my fatal head injuries, maybe I better pull over onto the shoulder”.
In contrast, what if he had to read the numerous messages of the internet crazies that explained to him that this was just nonsense? This Gorski guy is just a fraudster working for the evil insurance companies who blame cyclists who are rear-ended. When he saw the pick-up and trailers approaching, what help would he receive from the internet crazies who would have informed him: “Don’t worry about any handlebar contact, this is just nonsense advice”.
And how helpful is the Ontario government? All the cyclist has to do, as the pick-up truck and trailers approach, is to hold up a copy of the Provincial legislation and say: “See this law? It says you must be one metre away from me”. And onward the cyclist will go, riding along the pavement edge irrespective of the trailer’s presence because the law will save him.
Others have remarked to me that cyclists don’t need to be reminded about how they could get injured as all cyclists are very aware of every injury possibility. Well, no. Look at this scenario with the wagon impact. The driver of the wagon combo was looking in his mirror and making note of his position with respect to the cyclist as the passing motion occurred. He thought nothing of significance could happen because of the relative slow speeds of the vehicles and because there was a lateral gap of about 3 feet between the vehicles. And the cyclist, who should have had plenty of warning about the approach of the wagons appears to have done nothing. Does it not appear that the cyclist failed to appreciate the danger he was in? The trailers were close to him but they were moving at a relatively slow speed past him, “What could possibly happen here that could endanger my life?” Well this is what happens when cyclists think that they know about every danger to them without appreciating that “they don’t about those things that they don’t know”.
The importance of this discussion is that the described injury mechanism can occur at relatively low speeds, such as in urban areas, where cyclists mix with motor vehicles. It is the lack of a major speed difference between the cycle and the motor vehicle which could make this scenario more dangerous. This lack of difference in speed is what could cause a less severe rotation of the handlebars of the cycle and a greater likelihood that the cyclist could manage to hold onto the rotating handlebars. When the speed difference is higher the handlebars could simply be ripped out of the cyclist’s grip and the possibility of this mechanism occurring could be less.
Due to the continued irrational beliefs of some, without a solid understanding of what happens in real-life collisions, irrational behaviors develop and are perpetuated by the internet. This results in behaviors such as tying a pool noodle to a cycle and extending it laterally into passing traffic, as shown in the photo below. Did you ever think that the end of the pool noodle could become entrapped in some portion of a passing vehicle? What would happen if the cycle received a sudden jerk from such an entrapment?
Internet crazies have also concluded that, irrespective of any circumstances a driver who is so close to the cyclist that contact is made is automatically guilty of negligence. Let me describe one scenario of this superior logic.
A cyclist is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. While riding along the right lane he suddenly turns his handlebars to the left causing the cycle to make an abrupt turn into traffic similar to the two views shown below. A driver approaching the cyclist from the rear makes a tremendously quick response to avoid the cyclist by turning his/her steering wheel sharply to the left. This causes the motor vehicle to move sharply to the left and brings the motor vehicle parallel to the cyclist when an impact occurs. The impact is almost avoided but the left end of the cycle handle bar makes contact with the left side of the vehicle resulting in serious head injuries similar to the previously discussed cases.
So this is an example where the left side of the car comes too close to the left side of the cyclist in the manner described by the internet crazies. These internet crazies would conclude it was totally the vehicle driver’s fault. After all, any scenario where a vehicle comes so close to a side of a cyclist must, regardless of the circumstances, be the fault of the driver. And this is the gifted logic of the crazies. There is no way to have a meaningful conversation with persons who do not understand how ridiculous their logic is, and I will not try any further.