Preventing wrecks between bikes and vehicles is a "two-way street," said one cyclist, and education on road laws is needed on both sides to keep roads safe for travel.
On Monday afternoon, Susan Hahn was critically injured while attempting to turn left across northbound Ritchie Highway on her bike in Arnold. She was struck by a car in the far right lane and hospitalized. She was released Tuesday, according to Anne Arundel County police.
Hahn was turning into a shopping center where Bike Doctor is located. Brad Allen, manager of the store, said he ran to the scene of the accident moments after it occurred—attempting to help authorities however he could.
The cyclist wasn't carrying any identification. However, she did have a race number on her bike from the Athleta Iron Girl in Columbia over the summer. Using her race number, Allen was able to track down the woman's identity for the authorities.
Allen said crossing the highway is no easy feat, but in the 25 years the Bike Doctor has been there, it's the only major incident at that intersection he can recall.
Each week, the store hosts group rides along the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail that take the same route Hahn did—always without incident.
Allen said he believes the number of vehicle accidents on Ritchie Highwy have increased as more lanes were added.
"More accidents started happening because people jet up that third lane. It's generally open, so they just zoom through it," he said.
He said crossing a congested area without incident requires the full attention of not only the cyclist, but also every driver on the roadway.
If traffic is backed up, and someone is trying to turn left across the highway, attentive drivers in the first two lanes may wave them through. However, the far right lane may not see a cyclist, and continue at full speed.
That's likely what happened Monday, Allen said.
Alex Pline, an Annapolis cyclist and BikeAAA Board member, said the accident may still have occurred if she were driving a car and not a bicycle.
The most important thing, said Pline, is for both cyclists and motorists to be predictable and be courteous of one another. Everyone must operate under the same rules, he said.
"I’m trying to educate drivers on the rules, and harping on cyclists to follow them," Pline said. "We have to make sure we are not being hypocritical."
Pline’s comments echoed Allen’s thoughts on how to prevent future incidents: "Both cars and cyclists think they're entitled to the road, but in fact it's a shared resource," Allen said.
Need for Education
Allen offered some general tips for cyclists:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Equip your bike with a front and rear flashing light, regardless of when you ride.
- If there is no shoulder and you are feeling unsafe, enter the lane using signalization to communicate with drivers.
- Communication is key: learn hand signals.
- Don't make any abrupt movements.
- Use extreme caution when there is debris in the roadway and there are cars passing.
- Purchase bright clothing to increase your visibility.
Cyclist Fatalities in 2013Hahn's injury is the third serious incident involving a cyclist struck by a vehicle.
In July a Severn School teacher, Thomas Heslin, was struck and killed by a dump truck while riding his bike on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
And in August, Annapolis High School assistant coach Patricia Cunningham was killed after being struck by a vehicle while riding on Riva Road in Edgewater.