Riders in a bus that passed by the scene of the accident where Jessica Purcell lay bleeding on August 1, laughed and derided her for cycling on Rte. 9W.
Several people who were taking the Red and Tan bus 9A that travels from 177th st. and Manhattan to Nyack and parts beyond, laughed when they saw the cyclist lying on the ground, and spoke loudly how they thought she "deserved it" for attempting to ride on Rte. 9W, which they called a "highway," said a rider on the bus who listened to the loud conversation.
The bus rider who witnessed the discussion, and who spoke on condition of anonymity was taking the bus from New York to Piermont, NY, one of the stops further north on the route. He said four people and the bus driver first mocked the woman and laughed at Purcell's distress when they saw her lying on the ground, then spent another 15 or 20 minutes mocking cyclists and deriding them.
Because of the accident, the bus was re-routed from Rte. 9W going north near Exit 4N of the Palisades Interstate Parkway, and had to travel south through parts of New Jersey to get back on track.
The witness said he did not think the bus riders in question has any experience as cyclists, but appeared to be friendly with one another and the driver.
Bob Mionske, a lawyer, bike law blogger and author of the book Bicycling and the Law, said "I don't know whether it common for the public to laugh and mock someone laying gravely injured or dead on the roadside-- but it does not surprise me when it does happen, it turns out to be a fallen cyclist."
Another lawyer, Bob Fader who practices in New York State and specializes in crashes involving cyclists and motorists, was dismayed by the idea that passerbys would find something humorous in a Purcell's misfortune: "Unfortunately, cyclists continue to fight against a misinformed and misguided public which remains inexplicably biased toward motor vehicles," he said.
Many cyclists have long complained of being asked to "Get off the road," or told, "You don't belong here," when not only do they have the legal right to be on the road, but often don't even have space on roads designated for their use, as in the case of Rte. 9W, and are struggling to make a good situation out of a bad road.
Route 9W is a designated bike route. At the accident site in question near Exit 4N of the PIP, the north bound right hand shoulder has been engineered out to allow for a left hand turning lane for motorists entering the northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway.
And ultimately, cyclists move to the bottom of the ranking when it comes to all types of transportation or movement: "Cyclists are legally considered pedestrians but are treated like trespassers," said Fader.
There is still no word on how the accident took place other than the testimony of two "witnesses" who were in front of Purcell and did not see, but heard her crash into the back of the Chrysler Sebring owned by Stephen Spiegel which had stopped at the light.
Purcell's husband, Steve Zebrack also crashed, breaking his collarbone.
There is also no further word on Purcell's condition, whose face and head were severely damaged by the crash, and was being treated in the trauma unit at the Westchester Medical Center. Last we heard she was still in a medically induced coma after doctors performed surgery on her face and head.
Not all motorists think badly of cyclists, but they do complain that sometimes it seems to be a free for all. Yesterday, a woman who works nearby in the Palisades area about a mile and a half north of the crash site spoke anonymously and said she felt sorry for Purcell, but was constantly worried about cyclists' safety on 9W because they often take up a lot of space on the road, and don't always use the shoulders even when there is one.