As I got to the intersection where I normally turn left on Coachline to head south, then west on Wolfensberger Road towards the mountains, I decided to go straight on Foothills Drive. I had never gone this way before. A few short minutes later I was lying on my back in the middle of the intersection of Foothills and Willow Run, wishing I had turned left on Coachline. I was fortunate to only suffer a broken collarbone, although recovering from that injury has turned out to be a much longer process than I first imagined.
Today, as I headed out on my first real ride since that day, I once again decided to go straight on Foothills.
I have to admit I got a little nervous as I approached the intersection of Foothills and Willow Run (at left). Heck, I was nervous all morning just thinking about getting back on my bike and riding up and down steep hills, avoiding the sand on the side of the road left from winter snowplows, and sharing the road with cars rather than riding in the safety of my own house on my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer.
I was a little shaky at first, but after coasting down the hill past the spot where I lay in the road that day, I knew I'd be fine. From there I decided to circle the neighborhood on Meadows Parkway and head west on Red Hawk towards Wolfensberger so I could test my legs on the steep climb up to Tessa Mesa (at left: the view from Tessa Mesa).
As I passed Castle Rock Fire and Rescue Station #154 it dawned on me that these were the guys who picked me up off the pavement that day and took me to Sky Ridge Hospital. So I stopped and rode up the wide driveway. Two guys were standing in the large station garage hosing down the floor. When they saw me they asked if I needed something. At this point I wasn't sure what I was doing there. But I spoke up and said, "Seven months ago somebody here scraped me off the pavement after I was hit by a car. Today is my first ride since that day. So I just stopped in to say thanks."
As we talked about what happened, the car turning in front of me, my broken collar bone, etc., one of the two guys said, "I remember you. I'm the guy who gave you the painkillers as we rode in the ambulance." For that I said a special thanks and asked the other guy if he'd take a picture of me and Adam by the ambulance. As I headed back out on the road, they shouted "watch out for cars!" Funny. I was glad I stopped.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. I made the climb up Wolfensberger, rode through the new Tessa Mesa development (at left: my new Cannondale Synapse atop Tessa Mesa), and headed back down, then up and over Coachline towards home. For good measure, I turned left on Foothills and rode past the intersection of Willows Run one more time. This time I stopped to take a picture. I think this will become a part of my regular route!
When I got home there was a letter in the mail from my lawyer, Brad Tucker. In it was a copy of the "forensic engineers" report on my accident, commissioned by Progressive Insurance (my car insurance agent). For those of you who haven't been following the saga, the car driver's insurance agency, Allied Nationwide, determined that I was 100% at fault for running into the side of her car after she turned right in front of me onto Willows Run after passing me on Foothills Drive (Progressive's investigation determined that the driver was 100% at fault). In the meantime, I have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in mdeical bills, forked out a couple thousand for a new bike and hired a lawyer to make sure I don't get shafted by the insurance companies!
So anyway, the forensic engineering firm, Alcorn and Associates, concluded (and I quote)...
- The bicyclist was traveling in the proper direction and on the shoulder as required at the time impact occured.
- There are no sight distance restrictions that would prevent the Dodge Intrepid driver from seeing the bicycle rider, monitoring his movement and making sure the turn could be made safely.
- The Dodge Intrepid driver, however, left her lane of travel and began to cross the should of the roadway the bicycle was using and ran into the bicycle.
- The Dodge driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the bicycle rider as she attempted to make a right turn across the bicycle's designated riding location on the roadway.
- Failure on the part of the Dodge Intrepid driver to exercise caution and due care by being attentive and properly monitoring the roadway for the bicycle rider and slowing and yielding the right-of-way, to allow the bicycle rider to continue in its designated space on the roadway and through the intersection is the cause of this accident.
- The bicycle rider did not contribute to the cause of this accident.
So Brad kindly sent the report to Allied Insurance with this cover letter:
I am providing to you for your review a copy of the April 18, 2008 report of Alcorn & Associates Forensic Engineers relative to their investigation into the above-referenced accident. I feel certain that you and your office are familiar with Alcorn & Associates, and their excellent reputation. As you will see, they have come to the exact conclusion that I have been presenting to you from the onset of my involvement. Specifically, it is their conclusion to a reasonable degree of engineering probability that your insured was 100% at fault for the collision that injured Mr. Williams.
I pass this along to you in an effort to give you one last chance to accept liability on behalf of [the driver], and preclude our initiation of a lawsuit against her.
Please let me know your position so that we can proceed accordingly.
So, will Allied accept the eyewitness account and engineering firm's conclusion that their driver was at fault...or will I be forced to initiate a lawsuit to prove what the law and common sense clearly dictate? Stay tuned to DDublog for the next episode of "As the Wheel Turns."