Lessons Learned from a Commuting Crash

Even with brand new, shiny brakes, sometimes you just can’t stop. I learned that lesson the hard way this summer while I was interning at CROET. I biked to work every day; it saved time, gas money, and I didn’t have to ride the bus. My bike commute was one of the best parts of my day (except the climb up Marquam Hill Road). One Monday morning in July, I was almost at OHSU, coming down the big hill into the hospital, when someone backed out of their driveway as I was coming around a corner. She didn’t have time to see me, and I didn’t have time to stop. I crashed right into the back of her car.

I was very fortunate to just have severe bruising and a broken finger. My helmet, however, was smashed. Ironically, I was interning with the Rohlman Lab on the PUSH project, researching young worker safety and health. Of all of the interns, I was the one to get injured.

I am on the mend, my finger should be fully healed in a few weeks, and so will my knee. Getting injured in the summer is a pretty big bummer, I couldn’t rock climb, bike to work, or race in a triathlon.

I learned 2 important lessons about bike commuting from my accident:

  1. Always wear a helmet.

  2. Go slower than you think you need to while riding downhill (even if it’s under the speed limit), and be aware of your surroundings.

 Even though transportation isn’t usually what people think of when talking about occupational safety, focusing on your health and safety during your commute is an important part of total worker health. It is easy to get distracted by the things you need to do when you arrive at work, rather than focusing on staying safe while getting there. No work will get done if you get in an accident. Whether you are driving or biking, paying attention to the speed limits and staying focused on your current task is key to arriving at work healthy and happy.

Submitted by Laura Jeddeloh, Scripps College, 2013 CROET Summer Intern

Other Resources:
Bicycles subtopic on CROETweb

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Comments

  1. Dede, thank you for sharing. I was also involved in a biking accident coming down the hill. I was getting off of a bus and opened the door without looking. A biker crashed into my backpack and went flying off of his bike. He sustained some bad bruising, a laceration on his head, and some abraisons. I learned to look before getting off the bus!

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Lorie. We appreciate Laura’s sharing of her story. I too had a recent non-injury crash. This is a good reminder for all of us to be present and pay attention as we make our way to, from and through work, whether we are walking, riding or driving.

About the Author

Dede supports the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy WorkForce Center's research, engagement and education programs. She is a certified industrial hygienist.

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