Peter vs Minivan

So, on the importance of wearing your motorcycle gear — Peter was hit by a minivan yesterday.

What happened?
We had been out camping on Friday night and were heading to a lunch spot on our way home.   The restaurant is the local biker hangout on weekends (Alice’s on 84/35) so there are always a ton of bikes at the intersection.  It’s a 2-way stop, where traffic on the road we were on does not stop and the cross street does.

Anyway, Peter was riding at about 25mph (slowing down as the driveway to the restaurant is just past the intersection) and the minivan driver was stopped at the stop sign at the cross street.  For the locals, we were going north on Skyline/35 and the minivan was at the stop sign going west on 84.

She says she never saw him and she pulled out to turn left directly in front of him.

He locked up the rear brake and skidded for about 15 feet.  He very nearly avoided the car, but we think the aluminum saddlebag clipped it, at which point he let go of the rear brake, the rear tire regained traction, and the bike highsided.  He was thrown free, tumbled, and landed on the shoulder of the road.

(Photo by Alessandro, the very nice guy who took iPhone pics for us right after the accident.)

What did I see?

I didn’t see the actual impact as I was about 20 seconds behind Peter (twisty road, so I was behind the bend).  I arrived on the scene to find the bike down in the middle of the road and about 239487294 pissed off motorcyclists helping, taking photos to email to us, and making sure the driver stayed until the police arrived.

It’s funny how my brain processed the scene.  When I came around the corner and saw a bike in the road, I started slowing way down.  It was obvious that the accident had just happened because people were pouring out of the Alice’s parking lot into the street.
I didn’t consciously realize at first it was the VStrom, but my brain kept repeating “that’s not Peter, that’s not Peter” over and over. Even after I was close enough to definitively see the situation, my brain kept saying, “that’s not Peter’s bike”.

The scariest part for me was after I knew it was the VStrom but I couldn’t see Peter himself.  I couldn’t see his red helmet on the ground so I didn’t think he was still under the bike, but I couldn’t tell.  Fortunately I was able to park quickly and then I saw him sitting up on the side of the road.

I’m just thankful that I didn’t see the actual impact.  I watched a friend highside a few years ago and I can still pull up that memory perfectly.  As it was, by the time I’d arrived and parked, Peter was talking to the witnesses and starting to take his helmet off (under the guidance of a witness who happened to be an EMT).  So it was obvious pretty quickly that he was OK.

The driver was very shaken up and apologetic; she was lost on her way to a wedding and was distracted looking for street signs.  Peter felt way worse for her than I did.  He talked to her and reassured her that he was OK, etc; I wanted to punch her in the throat.

How’s Peter?
He’s fine, thank goodness.  We spent 5 hours in the ER last night and the X-rays show nothing broken, just a sprained left wrist and some bruises/soft tissue injury to the left shoulder and pec muscle.  He’s in a bit of pain today and will have a follow-up appointment with an orthopedist this week.  The doc and nurses were all amazed that it was a moving motorcycle accident and that was the extent of his injuries.  They all thanked him for wearing gear.

He was wearing an armored leather jacket and Aerostich armored overpants (over jeans).  Plus, of course, full face helmet/gloves/study boots.   The jacket has a few good scuff marks and the ‘stich pants have a verrry tiny little hole in one knee.  The gloves are pretty much done (they were old and thin to begin with) and we don’t think he hit his helmet at all.

He’s got a nice bruise going on his left shoulder and a small bit of road rash right at his waist.  The jacket doesn’t zip to his pants, so I think the jacket rode up on his body just a tiny bit.

How’s the bike?

The bike is pretty beaten up aesthetically but he was able to ride it home.  The whole right side is scratched up and has some missing plastics.   The handlebars are bent a little.  The aluminum saddlebag on that side is essentially destroyed (broken weld, twisted, scratched down).

So, now what?

The good news, other than the relative lack of injury, is that the woman admitted fault and she was cited on the scene for right-of-way violation.  Should be a no-brainer with the insurance company.  Peter already called and filed the claim.

Summary:  WEAR YOUR GEAR.  Jacket, pants, gloves, full face helmet. Boots if you can.  EVERY RIDE.

Both Peter and I have ridden cross-country with no incidents and both of us have been hit by cars now each within 10 miles from home.  Don’t skimp on your gear just because you’re putting around town.

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15 Responses to Peter vs Minivan

  1. Red says:

    F***. This is awful. I’m so relieved that he got away with minor injuries. Sending *hugs* to both of you.

  2. Bionic Jodie says:

    So glad to hear that Peter (and you) are OK. Things can be replaced. People can’t! You 2 are living proof that most accidents can and do happen close to home. Big hugs!!

  3. Anthony says:

    Hello Carolyn, I’m one of the witnesses that gave a statement to the sheriff (my jacket was on your ninja) Your post was mentioned on another forum, that’s how I found this! (www.barf.com) Glad Peter is doing good and was a pleasure to meet both of you under the circumstances.

    • carolyn says:

      Thank you SO much for your help yesterday! It was really appreciated. I found the thread on BARF — Peter wants to call about making that a 4-way stop, too. Maybe if enough people call about it, we can get some leverage.

  4. George F says:

    Wow, I’m glad Peter is okay. Glad he was wearing all gear. Hopefully the bike will be taken care by the insurance and he will soon be back on the road.
    I am always so afraid when I see people at cross roads like the one you describe because for some reason people don’t see bikes.

  5. Johnathon Suker says:

    I am very glad to hear that Peter is (relatively) unharmed and that he was wearing good protection.

  6. Mark says:

    I’m glad there were no serious injuries. As a non-motorcycle-rider, I’d absolutely support making that intersection a 4-way stop. It can be pretty hair-raising when someone comes barreling through on Skyline just as you’re leaving the stop sign on Woodside road. I know you two weren’t going particularly fast, but people sometimes do there (motorcyclists and car drivers alike). The visibility is not too bad looking north, but it’s pretty marginal looking to the south.

  7. Jamie C. says:

    That, right there, is why I cringe every time I see a rider wearing a shorty helmet, sunglasses, tee shirt, cutoff jeans, and flip flops riding down Alma St/Central Expressway.

    You won’t see me on the road with less than a full face helmet, riding gloves, and heavy denim. Yes, I know that denim is a bit light, and I have the scars as a result of my choice.

    I got used to full face helmets several bikes ago when the dealer threw in a pair of off-brand helmets for free when I bought a used bike. A few months later, I found myself thanking every deity I could think of for that helmet while sliding face down on a dirt road at ~30 MPH, watching the gravel slide by an inch from my chin. The chinbar got permanently scarred, I didn’t.

  8. tj says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    Glad to hear that Peter is alright!

    This is the type of accident that a motorcyclist has very little defense against. One can follow all the proper precautions but there’s little that can be done when a car turns left at an intersection where the motorcyclist has the right of way.

  9. Matt Crawford says:

    Now is the time to evaluate riding skills! Legality is immaterial to survival – or just avoiding the troubles associated with any accident in terms of the time lost. Specifically, seriously consider the relevance of Hi-Viz gear that might alert the distracted driver. Look carefully at your brake application . It may be that the rear brake is too sensitive … Dont’t play the reaction/blame game! Go over the accident step-by step and evaluate what Peter PRESUMED.

  10. Stacy says:

    Peter, glad you are OK. It’s amazing the damage that can occur in a “low-speed” wreck, ain’t it? When I wrecked my SV, I was “only” going 20 mph or so, but a couple of days later I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Hang in there!

  11. Pat Johnson (aka zzo on ADV) says:

    I just caught up with this and I’m glad Peter was well protected and not seriously injured. I looked at the damage to the VStrom and wonder if GIVI crashbars would have prevented some of the damage? I have them on my 2006 VStrom 650. They have some scrapes on them that would probably be on the bike were they not there. Anyway, best wishes. pj

  12. Cuno says:

    Makes you wonder if this is one of those incidents where ABS would have made a world of a difference. Anyway, I’m glad Peter is okay.

  13. Jack says:

    Peter sounds nice, the chick sounds kind of bitchy. She want’s to punch the woman in the throat over an accident? It’s not like the woman was a raving drunk. Accidents happen. I ALWAYS toot the horn at intersections when I’m not sure cars can see me (which is 99% of the time). Be happy everyone was ok and save your punches to the throat to people who deserve them.

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