On Tuesday last week, one of our own, Jo-Anne Wyndham, was badly injured when a car struck her on her bicycle. Here is her story, from an email (reproduced with permission):

I was right hooked by a car turning right into a gas station… . The driver passed me with my 2 rear blinkys on, much reflective clothing and bike shoes and a very bright front blinky all visible and turned right into the gas station right in front of me. I tried but couldn’t stop or steer out of the way so she hit me with her front fender, I rolled off the fender and hit the ground… .

Although she did not even bother to approach me to find out if I was OK, there were 8 amazing bystanders who took great care of me. One held my head/neck still for about 10 minutes as he was concerned about a neck injury (and he was right). Another brought me a blanket. One called 911. Another called a friend of mine to come down to be with me. The rest formed a human chain and wouldn’t allow any cars to enter the driveway where I was lying. They were amazing and the worst part is that I can’t thank them because I don’t know who they are. I learned the meaning of paying it forward, as this is exactly what I do for others and now a group of people did it for me! I was so touched by their caring! 

So far the accident report only reflected the driver’s point of view and I’m now trying to locate the cop from Boston District 5 to give my side of the incident.

My injuries include 3 ruptured cervical disks, central spinal cord contusion and a concussion. My helmet saved my life or at least saved me from a major brain trauma! I am now going to become a great advocate of helmet use and have called everyone I know who cycles without a helmet and pleaded with them to wear one. My son actually told me that as soon as he heard about my accident and the fact that I’m still alive pushed him to start wearing that “nice helmet” I bought him. I’m so glad!

I am out of work until further notice (at least until September 13th). I may need spinal fusion surgery if the neurogenic pain from one of the ruptured disks that is sitting on my spinal cord and likely causing the pain in my hands and arms (neurogenic pain is worse than labor pain, and I never thought I would say that anything was worse than labor pain!). I will continue to try conservative medical treatment and see if that helps at all, but I can tell you that if this pain continues, I will agree to the surgery.

If anyone wonders why bicyclists sometimes feel persecuted, perhaps this story explains why. How did the driver not see a cyclist with bright clothing, reflectors, and lights? Why did the driver fail to check on the victim of her poor driving? Why did the policeman who responded to the accident not interview the victim either at the scene or later in the hospital? How often do we hear about this kind of negligence in car-to-car accidents? It just confirms a perception that road-culture is predominantly anti-bicycle. Then again, there were all those helpful bystanders: clearly, road-culture is mixed, and we can depend on some people for genuine, selfless support. Perhaps those are the same people who slow as they pass me, who wait for me to cross an intersection before turning, and who wave at me to take a turn.

I hope her recovery is quick, (she’s fit and in good spirits, which helps), and in the longer run, I hope  her legal case (she has secured Andrew Fischer, a lawyer specializing in bike injury cases) convinces more drivers and police to behave as if bicyclists have a place on the roads.

In the meantime, be careful out there. Clearly, this isn’t Amsterdam. Yet.