Bicyclist involved in hit-and-run on Fairlawn
Man suffers minor injuries
By Eric Smith
Topeka police were investigating a hit-and-run involving a bicyclist Thursday evening that left a 26-year-old man shaken up with minor injuries, a police official said.
Officer Luke Jones said the incident happened around 8:50 p.m. in front of Landon Middle School.
The man and his mom were traveling down Fairlawn on bikes when he was clipped from behind by a black muscle car, described as a newer model Chevrolet Camaro or Dodge Charger.The vehicle immediately drove off. […]
[…]He was wearing highly visible clothing and a helmet, police said.
While the tag information is unknown, it is believed the car has damages to the passenger-side headlight.
A witness said the bike flew high into the air before being destroyed.
(Reprinted with the permission of the Topeka Capital Journal)
Impactful. That is how I would describe the incident that occurred at approximately 8:30 pm on Thursday, May 16, 2013. I wouldn’t describe it as life changing, because I was lucky and did not incur physical damages that will cause permanent pain or challenges. That is not to say I’m not changed by it though. Any sort of collision is frustrating and frightening, but it is worse to know someone in your community doesn’t care enough to stop and check on a person they’ve just hit on a bicycle and potentially killed. Being involved in a hit-and-run incident was to me the more alarming part of my accident. I understand responsibility of being involved in an auto collision is a heavy burden for some, but even heavier is the responsibility we all accept daily when getting behind the wheel of a car.There are obviously different ways a person can react to a story like this. Two individuals riding, completely prepared with lights, bright clothing and helmets: if they can’t ride without getting hit, then who can? Some may conclude it must be completely unsafe to ride, so why even try. Perhaps it’s optimism or perhaps it’s naivety, but I see this as an opportunity to speak up for individuals on bicycles who get hit. They should not be that looked down upon or cast out. There’s not blame due to the victim of this situation due to a lack of safety measures taken. Both myself and my riding partner were within our rights and practicing good bicycling habits. The individual driving broke the law. I definitely understand that is not the case in every car/ bicycle incident, or any collision for that matter. But that can be concluded in this situation.
I’m not sharing this to hop on a legal soap box either. This is an opportunity to educate; through education comes understanding and interest. Since the incident… Take note I will not say accident. We all make conscious decisions in riding and driving as to how we are going to act. The driver’s conscious decision on May 16, 2013, to accelerate rapidly and not get over a lane to pass - it was 2 lanes in our direction - caused this incident and so it wasn’t happenstance. But I digress. Since the incident, I have taken the steps to become a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and have taught roughly 8-10 classes in Topeka and Lawrence. I have helped in the instruction of 16 other instructors so that others in Northeast Kansas may have the ability to learn the safe ways to ride Kansas streets and roads. I see this as an opportunity to keep more incidents like this from happening again through proactive measures that enable others to ride safely and be cognizant of how to ride in traffic, rather than disable people with fear resulting from inexperience and lack of exposure.
In addition, there has been a team effort of citizens and government agencies in Topeka working to develop safer streets for all users to co-habitat on. With focus on creating an environment for a diverse cross section of users, Topeka is working towards a network of bikeways as well as a complete streets and complementing bicycle and pedestrian friendly ordinances.
Riding in Topeka and Kansas is one of my favorite ways to see and re-envision my home and the communities that surround me. I hope that through sharing this story and that others will venture out to do so as well!
Andy Fry works as an Energy Engineer in Topeka for the Kansas Corporation Commission