Cyclist struck on Monument Avenue, witnesses rush to help

Witnesses lifted SUV to pull the victim out from underneath the vehicle.

Update #1 — February 21, 2014; 8:29 AM

Sports Backers have released the following statement, yesterday afternoon, February 20th.

The Sports Backers respond to bicyclist hit on Monument Avenue

RICHMOND, VA – A woman riding a bicycle was hit by a car at approximately 8:10 a.m. this morning at the corner of North Mulberry Street and Monument Avenue in Richmond. The bicyclist was riding west on Monument when a car heading southbound on Mulberry struck her and dragged her 15 feet through the intersection.
The driver of the Honda CR-V reportedly stopped at the stop sign and couldn’t see the bicyclist because the sun was in her eyes. The bicyclist was reported to have been following the rules of the road.

“Our thoughts are with this bicyclist and her friends and family as she recovers,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of the Sports Backers.

“While traffic collisions happen, poor street design has a played role here,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA for the Sports Backers. “Cars parking too closely to the corners of the intersection have created inadequate sight-lines for anyone trying to make their way across Monument Avenue, regardless of their mode of travel. This condition is not unique to the intersection of Monument and Mulberry – it exists all over the Fan and Museum District. Something needs to be done to fix this situation.”

“The last thing we want is for this to happen again,” said Lugbill. “We can build a better environment for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike. It’s time for real bicycle infrastructure in Richmond that makes riding feel comfortable and that offers people a safe way to navigate the city.”

— ∮∮∮ —

Original — February 20, 2014

This morning’s commute took an unfortunate turn when an SUV struck a cyclist on Monument Avenue. According to CBS6 the female victim was dragged about 15 feet after being struck. Witnesses to the accident rushed to the scene and lifted the SUV off the victim and moved her to safety. At least one witness stated that the victim didn’t appear to be wearing a helmet.Update: Police state that she was wearing a helmet and it probably saved her life.

Richmond Police released the following statement.

At approximately 8:10 a.m. today, a vehicle and bicyclist collided at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Mulberry Street. The bicyclist—an adult female in her mid-20s—was traveling westbound on Monument Avenue when she was struck by a vehicle traveling Southbound on Mulberry Street. The vehicle driver—an adult female in her late 50s—had stopped at the stop sign and looked both ways, but said she did not see the bicyclist, according to Crash Team investigators. The victim was taken to VCU Medical Center with serious injuries. The investigation remains ongoing.

A second update on the victim’s condition was received and she is expected to be OK as the injuries are now described as non life threatening.

Police are asking that people who witnessed the accident to call Sgt. David Selander at 804.513.3647.

Photo: ABC8 News Twitter

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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. I’m glad the cyclist will be okay!

  2. Jeb Hoge on said:

    Scary, scary stuff.

  3. Mike fridley on said:

    So glad she is. Ok. I ride in the rural area of powhatan. Downtown scares me

  4. “Looking both ways” and actually seeing what’s in front of you are two very different things. I am nearly struck about 7 out of 10 times that I ride, and I even use appropriate hand signals.

  5. Aaron H. on said:

    I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I find it really hard to believe that the driver stopped at the stop sign. To hit a cyclist, then drag her 15 feet after initial contact would seemingly take a decent amount of speed and negligence. Drivers everywhere need to be less distracted and pay more attention to cyclists, scooters, motorcycles, and pedestrians!! I hope this young woman has a speedy recovery.

  6. Mike Jasp on said:

    I support the efforts the city is making to be more “bicycle friendly” and am very happy to read the helmet may of saved her life.

    Im a long time bike rider but mainly off road.

    Most every day i see multiple cyclists around the city riding without helmets and think to myself “i bet this person pushes for or supports the great new laws protecting cyclists…but for the love of God why cant they put on a helmet????”

    As stated, this woman’s helmet probably saved her life. Thank goodness. Doesn’t take much thought to conclude that is probably true considering speed, weight of vehicles, pavement,concrete and poles and such all around….

    Why are there so many non-helmet wearing cyclist out there? When one gets killed, it hurts the whole community as well as the road bike rider vs. car driver debates and issues.

    Just put your cool factor or appearance issues aside (just my assumption don’t really know why folks choose to not wear helmets) and stick a helmet on that egg before it gets cracked….sending you to the grave or wheel chair, maybe some less-than perfectly careful driver to jail…not necessary.

  7. Haley V on said:

    Allowing parking so close to these intersections creates blind corners, causing drivers to come dangerously close to being struck by oncoming traffic, or in this case, creating a situation where a bicyclist could be struck as soon as the car makes the turn. I hope to see parking regulated some in the coming years in this city.

  8. 2716wgrace on said:

    my boyfriend was hit at Robinson Street on Monument not 2 years ago by a car trying to get home from work. the city has no interest in making Monument Avenue any safer for cyclists or pedestrians. He was lucky and walked away unharmed but from what it sounds like this poor girl might not have been so lucky, hopefully she’ll make a speedy recovery.

  9. Aaron H. on said:

    Very good point Mike, and I agree. I am dumbfounded at times as to how many people ride on the streets without helmets (or lights at night). A 150 pound cyclist on a 3o pound bike is rarely going to come out on the positive side of a collision with a 4000 pound vehicle. Even the impact of head to pavement at very low speed can cause severe head injuries.

  10. John Durham on said:

    I’m very glad the young woman on the bicycle will be OK, hopefully without lingering injuries.

    Cycling in and of itself is not a dangerous activity, wearing a helmet should not have to be a “necessity”. The onus for safety needs to be on the operators of the truly dangerous vehicles, automobiles. “I didn’t see the cyclist” is not a valid excuse for colliding with a bicycle. It is a reason, and one should be held accountable for being negligent in the operation of the vehicle.

    Outfitting your bicycle with lights for operating at night, and wearing a helmet are two completely separate things. The lights are necessary for others to see you, the helmet is not.

    I do wear a helmet in the winter when there is a lot of ice on the ground, but during the warmer months when I’m out for a casual ride, or heading to the grocery store, etc., I often do not. Because cycling is not dangerous.

    Slow the &%$! down auto drivers!

  11. I commute by bike often. I wear a helmet. This happened a few blocks down from my work and someone said “I think someone on a bike got killed this morning,” then told me, “you hear that? you need to be more careful.” in a tone that implied that if I was hit by a car and dragged 15 feet it would somehow be my fault. They were looking out for me and I appreciate that.

    There are laws for cyclists and motorists and unfortunately both parties bend and break them. I don’t think that will change. But there’s this constant merry-go-round of attitudes and blame that moves from driver to cyclist and back around again. Cyclists don’t obey the laws because they have to ride in a way which protects them or they ride with a stubborn angst to cement their position on the road. Drivers are frustrated with cyclists because they don’t realize they are allowed to ride in the road, or they have had bad encounters with knuckleheads on bikes, or they are cyclists themselves and see a cyclist riding in a way which sets a bad example for the cycling community.

    Our biking infrastructure is horrible, I can’t imagine how scared some cyclists are to get out on the road. Awareness of cyclists and their rights could be light years ahead of where it is now (I’ve had a police officer tell me it was illegal to ride in the road and I should be on the sidewalk, as well as a GRTC bus, with bike racks on the front, lay into its horn multiple times while riding in front of it only a few feet from the curb.)

    Cyclists should be better informed on the laws, and better experienced to handle their equipment on city streets. From bike shop experience, most novice riders don’t realize that simply having properly inflated tires will do wonders for their ride efficiency, handling, longevity of equipment, and prevention of flats.

    There’s so many points we could talk about that would help cars and bikes coexist in a more ideal way. Sadly, in a perfect world, where everyone has equal room, and everyone obeys the laws, and nobody is truly at fault, – in an ‘accident,’ the 4,000 pound monster wins against the cyclist almost every time. I guess all that money we save in gas, car insurance, car maintenance and gym memberships, we can put towards our medical bills.

  12. I came up on this accident this am and it was horrifying. I hope she is ok. I am a Fan resident & ride and find the city ALWAYS very dangerous. I’ve opened my car door on many a unlighted rider at night and nearly picked off a few. Any student, hipster or idiot that does not choose to wear a helmet, reflective clothing and/or have the proper bike lighting should be fined and then posterized. We as a city are sooo far away from being a biking city it’s ridiculous.. RIDERS BEWARE!!

  13. I agree that the city is far from being a bicyclist friendly city.
    I would like to see more efforts from police to ticket people driving recklessly, on their phones, or simply too fast.

    I ride everyday to school and I find Richmond worse than my hometown Los Angeles. In L.A. there are more cars, but there is more respect for bicyclist. Drivers forget that any bit of contact with a bike rider and the bicyclist loses. It is deadly.

    Two weeks ago I was signaling with my hand to make a left and the driver behind me sped up to pass me and hit my hand! Stunned but safe. I was very lucky.

    If drivers haven’t gotten the clue after people die, are hurt, or a relative gets injured then the police need to make a statement and ticket viciously until people get the hint and drive better on their own accord. It is sad that conditioning by repercussion has to sometimes be solution. I wish people would just care.

  14. Fan person on said:

    I hope the bike rider that was injured makes a full recovery.
    That said, the biggest problem we face is that many people refuse to stop at stop signs and look before proceeding. I drive in the Fan daily and my non-scientific guess is that 30-40% of cars roll through stop signs. 50% of those on bikes run the stop signs at full speed and 40-50% slow down and look. I am surprised there aren’t more accidents. People, just stop at the stop signs and look!

  15. Alexander Raring on said:

    “I don’t want to jump to conclusions….To hit a cyclist, then drag her 15 feet after initial contact would seemingly take a decent amount of speed and negligence. ”

    It means she was probably going about 20mph and that assumes she has incredible reflexes to apply the brake as soon as the contact occurs. More likely she was going 15mph, which takes about 11 feet to stop, but allows for some reaction time. Also, for someone not jumping to conclusions, you have no idea how the bicyclist was riding or what the conditions were. It was an accident and bet the person that struck the bicyclist is having their worst day ever. Trying to demonize them when you have only the facts provided in this article is beyond ridiculous.

  16. Tom Bowden on said:

    Driver didn’t see the cyclist, in broad daylight. Tends to indicate they were not really looking if you ask me. It’s true, human sensory perception is flawed in many ways, but the bottom line is that if you are operating a large powerful vehicle, you should have the burden of doing so safely. In many countries, the driver would be presumed liable just for making contact, regardless of whether they claimed to see the cyclist or not. It’s called the vulnerable user law, and the idea is that roads are not just for cars, so when drivers encounter other LEGAL USERS (check out Virginia Code 46.2-800 et seq. if you have any doubts about cyclists’ right to be on the road) they should be primarily responsible for the consequences, absent other factors (e.g. if the cyclist was riding against traffic). As for those who want to make this all about helmets, it’s not. Bike helmets are not designed to protect against serious impacts with cars or other objects – at best, they will protect you from the level of impact you might experience if you just tipped over. Claims that this rider’s helmet saved her life are optimistic at best. Wearing a helmets is way down on the list of things that really matter for safe cycling. And, last but not least, cycling is a safe activity by any objective measure, with or without a helmet, as long as you do it with some modicum of care and common sense. yes, I have statistics to back that up.

    So stop blaming the victim and let’s call these incidents what they are – crashes to to operator error, no “accidents”.

    One last point – Monument Avenue, and most of the streets in Richmond, predate automobiles by decades, in some cases centuries. So please don’t embarrass yourself by trying to explain that roads were built for cars.

  17. Justin on said:

    It’s unfortunate that when I tell people bicyclists need to obey the stop signs that someone who doesn’t actually gets hit. I hope she is OK with no permanent damage. When I drive downtown I stop at the stop signs. Most of those students don’t, they just ride on through without even looking.

  18. I was also struck by a car earlier this year. Since that time I have tried to make myself more noticeably. I now ride with a flashing white light on the front and two red flashing lights on the back. Even with the additional lights cars have pulled out in front of me. We cyclist need to highlight ourselves until drivers start becoming aware that we are there. It should not be our responsibility but it is better then the alternative. Ride Safe and Highlight yourself…

  19. Driving a car is deadly too, and more frequently than we tend to recognize. I absolutely support really good infrastructure and more education for motorists and cyclists, but riding a bicycle in Richmond is not the death wish portrayed by some of the comments here — at least not any more so than driving a car on the interstate or crossing the street on foot.

  20. Scott W. on said:

    Why does the issue of whether the rider was, or was not, wearing a helmet even get commented on in these articles? Would it somehow be the woman’s fault that she got hit if she hadn’t been wearing a helmet? 99.9% of pedestrians struck by cars are not wearing helmets either. The dirty criminals!

    I ride a bike almost every day here in NYC. My decision to wear my helmet or leave it at home is largely dictated by the kind of riding I will be doing. I am neithr for nor against wearing helmets, though if mor people knew what a joke helmet safety testing was no one would bother wearing them.

    The only way to make cycling safe is with dedicated infrastucture and education. Some of the safest biking in the world can be found in th heart of Manhattan where bikes have their own lanes, signage, and traffic signals. When drivers and riders alike know what is expected of them safety increases and tension between the two groups drops.

    RVA seems like a really great town. I pray this woman recovers quickly and that maybe some good can come out of this situation.

  21. I think Hayley hit the nail on the head. Parked cars too close to the intersection block your sight, making pulling out onto or through Monument a game of russian roullette. It’s dangerous for drivers and riders alike. Due to this, i always try to access monument from a side street that has a light at the intersection.

  22. Aaron H. on said:

    “It means she was probably going about 20mph and that assumes she has incredible reflexes to apply the brake as soon as the contact occurs. More likely she was going 15mph, which takes about 11 feet to stop, but allows for some reaction time.”

    Right. If the driver had actually stopped at the stop sign, how would they be going 15-20 mph within 20 feet of the stop sign. It was a Honda, not a Ferrari.

    There are obviously a lot of things that can help prevent serious injuries or deaths of people utilizing bicycles as a means of transportation in the city:

    –Roadway infrastructure can be improved, such as curb/sidewalk bump outs to prevent cars from parking so close to the intersections and improving sight distances.
    –Drivers can be less distracted, actually watch for and respect other users of the road, and follow traffic laws.
    –Cyclists can better protect themselves with helmets, high visibility gear, and lights. And they should also be held accountable for following the rules of the road. They are subject to the exact same laws on the road as motor vehicles.

    It takes efforts by everyone to make the roads safer for all users.

  23. Amen to many of your comments above. I am a city resident and have been hit as a walking pedistrian (car rolling thru stopsign), have opened my car door blindly in the dark to an ‘unmarked’ rider, as a biker been run off the road or up on a sidewalk a few times by drivers to make me want to do more than just shake my ‘fist’ and seen too many tragic accidents to count. Biking is just not a culture here in the RVA like is in many other towns, major cities or countries. Will it be? Maybe. Will the preparation for the 2015 races help us all? Maybe. Will drivers and riders become more educated? Maybe But, in the meantime bike riders will suffer and unfort fall victim to , distracted, irritated, fast young and old drivers. I’m staying off-road until it gets better.

    P.S. Monument Ave (faster traffic, blind spots, circles to navigate, rough cobbles, no marked lanes..) is a horrible place to ride-

  24. Morgan Hafer on said:

    This was a clear case of Inexcusable speeding and or distracted driver via phone . There is no possible way from the spot this vehicle is at that a cyclist was in the wrong or not visible to driver paying attention or sober. The force at which the helmet was destroyed combined with the distance the cyclist was dragged do not equate to a reasonable speed of driver from a dead stop. This woman should be in jail for attempted murder & wreckless endangerment to the public. Allowing another menace driver to get far less punishment than any cyclist striking a pedestrian would receive is not an option. As a cyclist who operates a by bicycle package delivery service trying to bring jobs & economic growth to Richmond, it is Imperative that the laws that apply to people who act out violently with guns, are applied to the way people do so in cars. Otherwise you are leaving us who obey traffic laws & wear proper safety protection with little choice but to obtain a Carry & Conceal Permit to defend our lives from people who have no regard for cyclists.

  25. Senor Cranky on said:

    The easiest way to avoid confusion for drivers is just to follow one rule: always defer to bicycles, no matter what. Look out for them at every intersection. I don’t do a lot of biking, but I make it my responsibility to protect people on bikes and on foot when I’m in a car. We need to teach that in schools and put it on signs at the DMV. In turn, bicycles need to defer to pedestrians.

    The responsibility is shared, I understand that, but remember that when you’re in your car, you can hurt or kill bikers with the slightest miscalculation, and they can’t harm you in any way no matter what they do. I know it wouldn’t have made a difference here, but the whole issue gets simplified if we just adopt it as a mindset.

  26. Haley V raised an important point that has been largely ignored in this discussion. Illegal corner parking has become rampant in our neighborhood and cars are often parked right on the 45 degree angle of the curb on weekend nights, effectively blocking sidewalk crosswalks. Many of the No Parking marker signs that have been removed or pulled down over the last decade have never been replaced. An ordinance exists regarding parking too close to a corner, but it’s rarely enforced by the RPD. This creates a dangerous situation for pedestrians and double trouble for cyclists.
    It is my understanding that a few years ago one of Bruce Tylers’ kids was in an accident in the Fan that was attributed to block sightlines on a corner. Being the Council representative for the 1st District at the time, Tyler got involved and the RPD actually wrote tickets….for a while. This issue has been brought to the attention of Mr. Samuels time and time again. Funny it took a Councilman from a neighboring district to light a fire under some behinds.

  27. Thetazva on said:

    I find it interesting to read all the comments demonizing the vehicle driver, blaming her for what was an accident, for whatever reason. To pass judgement without having all the facts is just plain stupid.
    Richmond is notorious for bad drivers and bad bicycle riders.
    I am very careful about watching when I turn anywhere in the fan or downtown, because you never know when a bicycle is going to just be there, seemingly out of nowhere.
    I would agree on the fact that the RPD does not ticket enough drivers for parking on the corners, blocking sight lines for both vehicles and bicyclists.

    The RPD also needs to start ticketing all bicyclists who violate the rules of the road and there are a lot that do so.
    I would hope that the bicyclist is okay and will recuperate form their injuries.

    To err on the side of common sense, wait till all the facts are in before passing judgement on anyone, doing so without all the facts just makes you the ignorant one.

    All drivers auto, scooter and bicyclist need to follow the rules of the road and exhibit the courtesies and right of way as the law states.

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