Last Wednesday, I was near the finish of a 80 km loop ride through Woodland and Davis, and just a few blocks from home. As I looked and signaled for a left turn, up ahead I noticed what appeared to be a crumpled bicycle in the street, with it’s rider flat on the ground. A couple of women were standing there, so I decided to go and check it out. What I found, blew me away.
A young woman was lying on the ground next to her bike, which was completely destroyed. She had extensive abrasions (road rash) on her arms and legs, and a small cut just below hairline on her forehead. She was hysterical, and continued to be for quite some time. One of the bystanders was calling 9-1-1 while the other was trying to calm her down. As I approached, one of the first things she said was “the one time I don’t wear a helmet, and this happens.” The absence of a helmet was one of the first things I noticed.
Soon other folks came to see what was happening. Someone who appeared to be an off-duty CHP officer stopped and pulled out his first-aid kit. One of the two women who were right there, witnessed the entire event, which happened maybe a minute before I got there. Evidently the cyclist was struck from behind by a green Toyota 4-runner. The witness shouted at the driver to stop, and made eye contact. The driver quickly left the scene (how quickly a “accident” can become a “felony”), but not before the witness managed to get a plate number.
The young woman was trying to call her parents, but was too hysterical to do so, so she gave me her phone. I spoke with her father and gave him directions where to find us, and left a voice-mail for her mom. We also were able to contact her place of employment, and her boss and one of her co-workers came as well, which calmed her down a little bit.
Soon paramedics and law enforcement arrived and started to assess the situation. She was triaged and put on a back-board and put in an ambulance to UCD Med Center just as her father arrived. Reports and photos were taken, and at the point, I decided that I had contributed all I could, and continued on home.
I’ve been thinking about this whole event during the last week. Obviously, I have no idea how the young women fared (due to patient confidentiality), but the fact that she was conscious seemed a good sign, especially considering the lack of a helmet. And I have no idea about the driver, but the witness seemed to have a pretty detailed description, so hopefully he will be found and prosecuted. And I don’t want to insinuate that the young cyclist was riding in an unsafe manner… I wasn’t a witness to it, and from what I heard, she was riding “normal” (whatever that means).
As I ride around Sacramento, especially on my daily commute, I would estimate that less than half of the other cyclists I see on the road are wearing helmets. My opinion is, that considering the severity of this particular accident and the lack of a helmet, the young woman is lucky to have not been in worse shape (or even dead). And then of course, my usual pet peeves about the way cyclists ride… on sidewalks… ignoring stop signs and stop lights… ignoring virtually everything around them, with a entitled air… continues to astonish me.
So please… always wear a helmet. And pay attention to what is going on around you. There’s no reason to be paranoid, but one has to take care and assume that there are motorists who don’t like you, and would like to put your body and your bicycle on the pavement.
Ok… done for now. As you were.