Obviously I ride motorcycles. For the past few months in fact I have been commuting 60 miles a day 4 days a week on one of the bikes. Now I accept that riding a small exposed motorbike will never be as safe as being strapped into a ton of cage. I do my best to mitigate these dangers however, I always wear a decent helmet as well as boots, jacket, and gloves. I do not generally wear armored pants for commuting although I do when I am riding the canyons for pleasure. There is a saying amongst riders that there are two types of riders, those who have been down and those who haven’t been down yet. Myself, I have been down on two occasions (well, three but I don’t count the third). On the first occasion I was in full gear on a group ride and hit a patch of sand in the apex of a corner. I went down at about 25 MPH, but due to gear, etc didn’t suffer more than a small raspberry on my elbow and some minor cosmetic damage to the bike. On the second occasion I was commuting on my 1973 BMW. Now, this is a great bike but it has drum front brakes which can be quite grabby. I was just heading through an intersection when the car in front of me stopped short and I grabbed the brakes. Needless to say I locked the front and instantly low-sided the bike at about 25MPH. I ended up sliding across the intersection on my forehead and my elbow. Once again, due to decent gear, I ended up with some minor damage on the bike and a big bruise on my elbow. Obviously the first time was happenstance, and the only thing that would have prevented it would have been not riding at all. The second time I freely admit was my fault as I was following too closely and I grabbed far too much front brake in a panic situation. My point here I suppose is that due to the wearing of decent gear I avoided injuries which would have been much worse without the gear.
Now to what prompted my thinking about these things. This last thursday I was coming back from work on the 91E as usual. I was lane sharing between the #1 and #2 lanes and going about 30-35MPH which is about my average. I saw another bike coming up behind me, so I pulled fully into the #1 lane and waved him by. Just after he passed me a sedan made a quick lane change from #2 into #1. The other guy slowed down and tried to jink around the sedan. Unfortunately, when he came around the rear of the sedan he swung wide and nailed the rear fender on a Lexus SUV in the #2 lane. Bike and rider went flying. Thankfully traffic was moving slowly so everything stopped without further injury to the rider. I stopped instantly and checked on the rider and then killed the still-running motor on the bike. Luckily, the CHP was on scene in maybe a minute and emergency services were on scene maybe a minute after that. The rider definitely seemed a bit dazed, and had some road-rash on his leg but seemed mostly okay otherwise.
Things to take away from this.
1. While lane-sharing is legal in California it must be practiced with the highest level of care and attention. Slowing down slightly would have avoided this accident in my estimation.
2. The rider was wearing a full-face helmet, roping gloves, jeans, and a denim jacket. Not my first choice in protective gear, but enough (especially the helmet) to help him avoid much more serious injuries. I saw damage on the helmet that would have been on the face of someone wearing a half-helmet or a pudding-bowl.