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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