There is still no word on the outcome--and health of rider Jessica Purcell who crashed on Rte. 9W more than a month and 13 days ago today.
Phone calls to her family have not been returned. The last communication from her father, Gregory Purcell, who wrote into BBB soon after the accident stated that she was in critical condition, but "knowing Jessica," she will probably be doing triathlons again as early as next year.
Purcell crashed into the back of a car while coming down the hill before State Line on Rte 9W at the exit to Palisades Interstate Parkway on August 1 at about 11 am. She was airlifted to the Westchester trauma facility across the Hudson River for injuries to her brain and face.
One thing is clear, reports by a passenger in a Red and Tan Bus that was turned away from the scene that morning have been verified. That passenger alleged that four bus passengers repeatedly derided Purcell for riding on Route 9W, and talked about cyclists loudly in general, that they "do not belong," on the road.
The bus was traveling south, not north, as previously reported, and was slated to arrive at 42nd Street in New York's Port Authority station at 12 noon. The driver of the bus was also implicated in the more than 15 minutes of talk with the passengers.
Comment from the Red and Tan bus company is being sought.
Meanwhile scores of cyclists around New York City and in the New Jersey area who have learned about Purcell's accident and followed her story continued to express concern about her recovery, and to wonder how such an accomplished and experienced cyclist had such a terrible accident.
One cyclists speaking off the record at the New Amsterdam Bike Slam held yesterday night at Cielo, an event in which two teams competed to present the best ways to make downtown Manhattan more bikeable, said he thought that perhaps the driver had stopped short before the light.
Other cyclists have theorized that Purcell thought the cyclists in front of her were going to continue through the intersection, but they stopped.
And still others have said that she may simply have hit the side of Steven Spiegel's car because she ran out of space at the bottom of the hill. But we won't know the answer to any of these questions until either Purcell is well enough to tell us, or her husband, Steve Zebrack, who was riding with her that day, speaks publicly on the issue.
In the meantime, Purcell's accident was brought up at a meeting among cycling advocates at the Rutgers University Voorhees Transportation Center where modification of aspects of the law regarding safe passing and other portions of title 39 of New Jersey traffic and safety code were being discussed.
BBB then submitted a general letter to the New Jersey Department of Transportation's Bicycle and Pedestrian Office and Transportation Demand Management Office, regarding the area where Purcell had her accident, and outlining the area's alleged deficiencies including a narrow shoulder all along the descent to Exit 4N.
In that letter, BBB also identified two other hot spots on Rte 9W that they believe need to be addressed by the DOT, including that section of road where Camille Savoy was hit and killed by a driver when she wandered a foot and a half over the fog line; and the section from Palisades Ave. to Clinton Ave. where a few years ago the entire shoulder was engineered out in a road redesign.
It is almost a year since Savoy was hit and killed on 9W, but nothing in that section of road has changed since then: it is still narrower, and the bend in the road seems to encourage drivers to drive over the white fog line into the shoulder. This summer, BBB stood in the same location for 10 minutes taking photographs of motorists repeatedly driving over the white line on both sides of the roadway, some of them chatting away on cell phones.
Add insult to injury, inconsistencies in how the law is interpreted continue to occur. Three weeks ago, two cyclists riding two abreast on the shoulder were ticketed for riding side by side by the Alpine Police. There were no problems with the road ahead and they were not in traffic.
"That is just wrong," agreed several members of the Rutger's Transportation team that discussed the ticketing: "The cop just does not understand the law," said one member off the record.
Yet, amazingly a sign on Route 9W a few miles south of where the two were ticketed says cyclists must ride single file. "The sign is wrong, and against the law" said the member: "It needs to be removed."