Saturday, August 01, 2009

Female Cyclist Critically Injured on 9W

A female cyclist was hit by an automobile driver at approximately 12: 15 pm today on Rt. 9W near state line and was critically injured.

She was moved by paramedics to a staging area about a quarter of a mile south of the accident scene, and was then airlifted by helicopter to the Westchester Medical Center across the Hudson River at about 1 pm, as her husband stood by.

The location of the accident was a few feet shy of the bottom of the hill where there is a light and the opportunity for cyclists and motor vehicle drivers to be squeezed, especially during changing lights. About 10 miles from the George Washington Bridge, the descent is particularly fast but also very narrow, and the potential for accidents is great.

Earlier today in the same location, one lane on the northbound side had been coned off by workers and local police officers, forcing northbound traffic into a middle lane that opposed southbound traffic but it was unclear if those conditions still existed at the time of the accident.

Visibly upset, with a torn blue triathlete jersey, and wearing a makeshift support on his left arm, in response to whether he felt okay to talk about the accident he said, "I will not blog about my wife," and walked away.

Alpine New Jersey police officers at the scene had declared the area sealed for an accident investigation but said they did not know anything about what happened.

A dispatch officer who answered the phone at the Alpine police headquarters said more information would be forthcoming but at this time he was not able to talk to the press.

It was unclear if the woman had been struck traveling north or southbound, but her bike lay a few feet away from the intersection of Rte. 9W on the north bound lane and the exit ramp and stop light for State line, on the New Jersey side.

Her bike was in one piece, with blood soaked articles of clothing around it. A sportscar stood parked a few feet ahead, it's driver outside the vehicle, while police officers asked riders to keep moving. It was unclear if the driver had been involved in the accident, but since the area had been sealed for an investigation, he most likely had been.

Car traffic was blocked from entering the scene of the accident from both directions, and cyclists traveling northbound were stopped at the top of the hill before the descent to the next intersection and state line.

Pic: Paramedics bring stretcher to move accident victim about 1/4 mile south of state line on 9W

A fire department employee who had been called to the scene when asked about the accident said he did not know why it occurred but wasn't surprised since cyclists he said "always go over the white line."

When it was pointed out to him by BBB that there was no space on either side of the road next to the white line because the road had been re-engineered to remove the shoulder entirely, he said, "well, it's a state highway, cyclists shouldn't be riding on the road at all." Though he did acknowledge that his father is a triathlete and he always tells him to be careful.

John Birnbaum, a New Milford, NJ paramedic on the scene who was not working on this accident said he was driving nearby when he heard the call come in over his radio.

Birnbaum said the cyclist's condition would have to be good enough for the county to send a helicopter to the scene, but bad enough that it was necessary.

Pic: Helicopter taking off for Westchester Medical Center.

He noted if her condition had been extremely critical with no chance of survival, she would have been taken to a nearby hospital.

As BBB continued to head south, the very visible truck belonging to the Bergen County Prosecutor's office with the words "Prosecutor" emblazoned on the side, was heading north on Rte. 9W.

Prosecutors are normally called to the scene when an accident is or could become fatal after the victim has been moved to a medical facility.

Pic: In the background, accident victim is being taken by stretcher into the helicopter, while her husband walks away.

The area of the accident is sealed off so that tire tread impressions of both the motor vehicle and the bicycle can be taken: measurements of the distance between the car and the bicycle; and the distance between the cyclist and the bicycle are also taken. The distance that objects that have been thrown by the impact of the accident are also measured to get a sense of how fast the driver was going when they hit the cyclist (or vice versa).

Also, eyewitnesses are interview, which in this case includes the victim's husband who was cycling with her, and the automobile driver.

Once the prosecutor has made an assessment of the cause of the accident, they decide whether to prosecute the driver for fault.

As we wrote in the follow up to the accident last November that killed cyclist Camille Savoy, although prosecutors were able to prove that tire marks showed the driver crossed over the white line by over one and a half feet to fatally hit Savoy, she was not found guilty by the presiding judge in Alpine, NJ, and did not even receive the minimal violation of careless driving.


JT said...

Nice douchey irrational anti-cycling comment from that firefighter. But hey, he suggested cyclists "be careful" so he obviously cares.

Anonymous said...

I hope she's ok, I have been thinking about her all day.... I went through the same spot perhaps 45 seconds ahead of her, turned around at the top of the hill and came back down and there was the accident scene, I couldn't believe it. Police came fairly quickly and people were already stopped and helping out, but the ambulance took forever...I was, and still am, freaked out by this accident. It can happen to anyone at anytime, be careful out there folks.

Anonymous said...

The firefighter's comment: "well, it's a state highway, cyclists shouldn't be riding on the road at all."
This is ridiculous - not only is it not a highway, it's a designated bike route with signs to that effect all the way along. It's also one of the stretches of road most heavily used by cyclists in the entire metro area.

Andrea said...

I got to the scene on the state line minutes after it happen on my bike en route to Nyack from downtown Manhattan. The Alpine police had block the northbound lane. When we ask, what happen the officer growl at us like a junk yard dog to go away. Obviously the cop attitude and firefighter remark, lets me thinking if we cyclist are protected by careless and speeding drivers. 9W is for us cyclist, what the clouds is to the sky. And yes, cyclist heads up and be safe.

Stacy Walsh Rosenstock said...

Isn't this a state bike route? How could they re-engineer and remove the shoulder? At minimum, shouldn't a state bike route should have a shoulder, if not a buffered bike lane, throughout?

Anonymous said...

well technically 9W is for everyone, including drivers and cyclists. Unfortunately, nobody seems to realize this. Good luck getting the state to widen the road for cyclists, they couldn't care less.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I used to be a paramedic and I rode by within the first five minutes of the accident. There was already a doctor on scene.

While some firefighters/police/medics are great, there's plenty of redneck macho culture that thinks cyclists are "gay" and would always make comments about wanting to "run them over". So encouraging coming from our tax-paid, public protectors. Like I said, some of the guys are amazing, and no one wants to publicly say anything bad about those that potentially serve us. But from my experiences, there are a large number of sub-intelligent, angry meatheads in those lines of work. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I also rode by the accident before the road was blocked off. Since there was already a cruiser there & I'm not a doctor I did not stop as I felt I had nothing to offer but to add to the mayhem. Does anyone know the condition of the cyclist? I have heard rumors but I also have been thinking about them constantly.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Route 9W is a state highway just like Route 46 and Route 3. Looks do not mean it is or is not something. Also, someone's argument for "it is not a state highway" is that 9W is one of the most heavily traveled roads for bicycles?? Your entire comment is ignorant and does not make any sense. Sorry. One more thing, do not assume a driver of a vehicle is at fault.

Please ride and travel safely out there people.

Anonymous said...

I got there maybe 20 minutes after it happened. One cyclist while turning to go back the other way when he saw the roadblock slowed down to askethe police officer blocking the road what happened. The officer responded with a snarl: "someone like you rode their bike in the middle of the road and got hit. OK?"

Anonymous said...

I was at the traffic light turning to go north on 9W when it happened and the car was just stopped at the red light not moving. So I do not see how he could of hit the victim. It appears as if the victim rode their bike straight into the car. Very unfortunate and I hope that she survives.

Anonymous said...

Hope the driver is okay. Imagine what he must be feeling like. He is sitting at a red light and someone hits him in the back. I hope the cyclist makes it. But, the driver did NOTHING wrong.

Anonymous said...

I find it kind of funny how desperate everyone is to speculate about what happened. Not funny "haha", funny disturbing. There is nothing funny about this and the truth is that NO ONE knows what happened except the cyclist and the driver of the car. Regardless, our hopes should be that the injured party makes a full recovery and that whomever was at fault assuming this was not a faultless accident, learns a lesson about safety. Riders and drivers need to share the road - disrespectful cops are a lost cause. They're practically the state symbol of NJ.

Anonymous said...

I was cycling 9W that day and had to turn around because of the accident as I was heading back to Northvale, NJ. I hope that the cyclist is alright and pulls through her injuries.

Being a daily driver of that stretch of 9W and frequent cyclist as well, I see the problems that the road holds. There should be a shoulder on each side of the road especially at that intersection as road debris will push any cyclist into the traffic lane to avoid it.

At the same time, we as cyclists need to remember that we are to obey the rules of the road as any vehicle travelling on it. Too many times have I seen a cyclist blow through a red light and come within inches of getting hit by a car because the cyclist wasn't following the rules of the road.

Unfortunately, the cyclists that ride side by side in areas that they should not, cyclists blowing stop signs and red lights and acting as though they 'own the road' create the kind of dissent and lack of care by people such as the firefighter and police officer.

Ride Safe and share the road!(drivers AND cyclists

Anonymous said...

I had an accident on 9W two years ago. I was riding south on 9W just past Hillside Ave. There was a strip of rough rode, and I hit a rut, not going very fast. I fell into the road. All I heard was my brother calling my name, and breaks screeching. I was very lucky that the car approaching saw me and stopped. Now I just stick to riding on Piermont Ave, County Rd and Dean St from Rockleigh to Englewood. I hope the rider was ok

Anonymous said...

I hope she recovers - I was by there shortly after the accident and am still upset. It is terrible.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like things are headed in her direction now with recovery. The Driver did nothing wrong and it appears it was simply an accident. No pointing fingers at any riders. Pray for a speedy ascent to health. The driver should be commended for his class throughout the incident.

Anonymous said...

I cycle every weekend and make a habit of avoiding 9W always. There is a continuing standoff between the motorist and cyclist and that day I passed the accident scene minutes before the accident.
I have to say that the groups of riders coming from NYC create a serious problem by riding several abreast and blowing through lights.....Just last week on Clinton Ave making a right on green a whole pack blew the light and almost hit my car and proceeded to give me the finger and curse.
Until these NYC folks learn to ride single file and follow the lights we can unfortunately expect more of the same.
I hope she recovers

Anonymous said...

Again. Hope the women is okay and recovers. Driver not at fault in any way in this case.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there is a consensus that the driver was not at fault in any way.

Anonymous said...

I had just come back from a ride from Fort Lee to Piermont taking 9W when I heard about the accident. I was freaked out because the week before, I was coming down that same hill past Lamont Observatory when my front wheel started to wobble almost out of control. When I got to the bottom of the hill I stopped to thank God that I didn't crash at forty miles per hour and that there where no cars in front of me or behind. I pray now that this women is going to be alright.

Anonymous said...

I just want to commend the volunteer emts and paramedics that arrived on the scene. I am a Jersey City firefighter and i stopped to help the doctor and nurse who were already on the scene trying their best to keep Jessica stable. I see that sort of the thing on a regular basis unfortunately and i just wanted to let everyone know that the medics did great work. I get paid for what i do... these guys volunteer their time and potentially find themselves in dangerous situations where lives are at stake and don't get paid a dime for it. my prayers are with Jessica and her husband.

Anonymous said...

I would like to mention that I drive down 9W all the time and the bikes are supposed to ride single file and they often do not. Sometimes they are 2 or 3 abreast into the street, and occasionally I observe them ignoring the traffic lights. I go as slow as possible and use the left lane to stay away from them but they need to do their part too. Stay single file!

Jen Benepe said...

Dear Anonymous:
Yes you are right! If riding on 9W you can ride double of even triple if you stay inside the white line. The only time you should ride outside the white line is single file when there is no room in the shoulder. Of course the law states that you CAN ride double if there are no cars passing, but if you are talking, the likelihood is you won't notice.
The Alpine police have started giving citations for cyclists riding outside the white line. We haven't blogged about it because of a number of reasons. (1) we don't want to the people in question to lose their case; (2) they maintain they were inside the white line; (3) there is a lot of confusion--or was a lot of confusion--about the rules among police.
Therefore, I would advise, if you want to save your precious time and money, don't ride outside of the white line if there is a shoulder, and single up if there isn't one.
Jen Benepe

Anonymous said...

Always Always Always ride with a helmet camera. Then you'll at least have some way of looking at what happened if you get hit. I use a 5th gen iPod nano -- it's not HD but it is practical (so light I can just tape it on, can take hours of video) and only costs about $130.

Carol said...

I just hope that the lady was not seriously hurt. I am a cyclist myself which is why I feel for her. My thoughts and prayers go to her and her family.