Saturday night, around 5:30 pm, heading south on the Ballard Bridge I witnessed a bicycle vs. car crash.
It happened so fast I couldn’t catch important details like the make of the vehicle involved, but it seemed like slow motion.
The car in front of us slowed. In the passenger seat, my wife cringed seeing the cyclist exit from the sidewalk and enter the road. The car in front of us was trying to turn right onto Emmerson and halted, then pulled around the cyclist. I doubt that the driver of the dark SUV-sized vehicle noticed when the cyclist hit the side of their vehicle, fell, and crumpled motionless in a pile in the middle of the road behind them. The driver didn’t stop.
I pulled my zipcar up to block traffic, stopped and jumped out to check on the cyclist.
Whew! No blood and he seems responsive. He looks like he just had the wind knocked out of him.
I give him a moment to recover, moving his bike out of the way. Then I help him to his feet. He is shaken, unsteady, moving slowly, but he keeps insisting that he is unhurt.
My wife hands me the phone that she has just dialed 911 on. The people in the car behind us are on the scene and checking to see if they can help.
By the time I get the address to the 911 operator and say that there has been a hit and run, the cyclist is trying to walk away from the scene. I try to get him to stay, but he keeps walking south and the 911 operator tells me that she can’t do anything if the victim is refusing to stay.
This is yet another un-tracked bicycle vs. vehicle collision.
No police report was filed.
It is doubtful that this will even show up on www.bikewise.org as a self-reported crash.
My take-away lessons are:
1. Always, always wear a helmet.
2. At night, always wear reflective clothing and lights.
3. Communicate clearly with other drivers. This cyclist made an ambiguous hand gesture that appeared to be interpreted by the driver as “go ahead”.
4. When driving, give the cyclist extra room. Waiting an extra 5 second is worth it.
5. Stay at the scene and file a @%#! police report so we can get known problems like this fixed.