A 54-year-old male cyclist traveling north on route 9W was hit by a motorist at around 10 am this morning.
Alpine police responded to the emergency on a straightaway a few miles south of Closter Dock Road, and the cyclist was removed to the Hackensack Emergency Medical Center for trauma, where he is listed in critical condition, said Captain Jerry Beckmann.
Cpt. Beckmann said the nature of the rider's injuries, and his identity are not being released pending notification of his family, but he confirmed that the rider was from New York City.
By any cyclist's standards, the scene was horrific: the familiar flashing lights could be seen from a distance, and cars were backed up in both directions. As you neared the scene, you could see a twisted, flattened bicycle on the ground, its front wheel lying some distance away.
Another 20 feet away was a pile of torn lycra of the many colors one often sees on a team jersey--yellow--black, blue, pink. Motorists and cyclists were allowed only to pass on the far left--as far away from the accident scene as possible.
"Today was a gorgeous day, hence we get a lot more riders on a day like this, and many of them want to get their last ride in," said Beckmann, who said his police team handles a number of accidents between motorists and cyclists every year.
The accident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor's office, said Beckmann. No other cyclists were harmed in the accident, and it is still not clear how it occurred he said. The police will not release any information until an official determination of the cause of the accident is made.
"Anytime an officer responding to a scene sees serious personal injury," they make an assessment as to its seriousness and whether to call in the accident investigation squad. However, many cyclists who witnessed the wreckage thought the cyclist could not have fared well---and many feared the worst.
The scene was closed off so that any indicators of how the accident occurred--skid marks, the distance of where the body landed from the bicycle, and other essential marks, would not be disturbed prior to the arrival of the prosecutor's office. At 1:45 pm in the afternoon, the ground was still be combed over by a police officer in a yellow safety vest wearing gloves, as he put contents from the scene into a large plastic garbage bag.
"There are hundreds of cyclists that traverse 9W every weekend," said Beckmann who said this is one of the "unfortunate" things that sometimes happens. "All the cyclists and the motorists equally need to share the road and be cautious."
When asked if Beckmann had seen the latest article in the New York Times published today that said that the number of pedestrians and cyclist fatalities and accidents had risen sharply in New Jersey this year, and if he could comment anecdotally for the 9W area he said they did not have numbers for the area, but "those [NYT reported] statistics probably speak for themselves."
Some cyclists theorized that wet leaves may have played a role in the accident. Yesterday, Saturday, a cyclist traveling past Tallman State Park in Sparkill, NY, about 5 miles north of today's accident, was struck by a motorist as he rounded a blind corner: he also was taken to the hospital with serious injuries said an officer with the Piermont police dept. The officer said off the record that wet leaves played a role in that accident as the cyclist turned the corner, hit the leaves, and slid into the pathway of a motorist coming around the corner.