By Leroy Polk | Apr 27, 2017
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) – As the snow melts and daylight increases, more and more people will take to the street by foot, or bike, in the coming weeks ahead.
On Wednesday, the need for extra attention was exemplified, when a cyclist was struck in the middle of a crosswalk. It happened at the intersection of Lake Otis and East 50th and Waldron Drive. The event was captured on a dashboard camera by Dan Newman, a KTUU employee, just before 4:30 p.m.
The footage shows the cyclist entering the crosswalk, while maintaining the right-of-way. The pedestrian crosswalk sign can be seen flashing the red hand with a countdown of seconds, until the lights will change.
When the cyclist enters the roadway, a silver 4-door SUV-style vehicle, which was stopped at the light, pulls forward and collides with the cyclist. This sends the cyclist above the hood of the car, before falling to the pavement.
Several witnesses, including the motorist involved, then got out of their vehicles to render assistance to the cyclist. The names of the women involved, driving the SUV and riding the bicycle, have not yet been released.
“I stayed with her, until she was picked up by an ambulance,” Newman said. “She seemed responsive, but really banged up.”
APD spokesperson Renee Oistad said that the cyclist was “transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.” She said she could share more details, once the report on the case is turned in.
While there are many steps that motorists can take to avoid accidents such as this one, including distracted driver prevention and improving situational awareness, the cyclist often shoulders the lion’s share of safety responsibility, as they would be the ones more severely injured in an accident, between a car and a bicycle.
Sylvia Craig, the project director for Alaska Injury Prevention Center (AIPC), said that cyclists should follow three important rules, while riding anywhere.
The first is to be visible. Craig said one of the main issues cyclists face is not being seen by motor vehicles. Wearing high visibility clothing, as well as lights and reflectors can help. Also, she says to be mindful of where you are, and make sure you are seen from multiple vantage points.
The second is to wear safety gear. “Helmets are the obvious number one piece of safety gear,” Craig said. She added that bells can also be useful, when on trails and near pedestrians, as it helps to increase visibility on an auditory level.
The third is to be predictable. Craig said that it is important for cyclists to be predictable for cars that do see them, just as it is important to become visible to those that don’t. Being predictable helps cars understand cyclists intended movements and paths.
Bike Anchorage, the city’s self-proclaimed “largest bicycle advocacy organization,” identified Wednesday’s collision as “the crosswalk slam,” wherein motorists are “not expecting, nor looking, for bicyclists in cross walks.”
On the organization’s website, they outline several safety tips for cyclists, in order to safeguard themselves against collisions. For the “crosswalk slam,” their advice is similar to Craig’s. Bike Anchorage said cyclists should make an effort to be seen and highly visible to cars, by wearing high visibility gear, reflectors and lights at night, entering crosswalks at much lower speeds and avoid riding on sidewalks.