ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As the snow melts and daylight increases, more and more people will take to the street by foot, or bike, in the coming weeks ahead.
The moment before the impact of the bicycle and vehicle on Lake Otis Road. Still taken from dashboard camera footage captured by Dan Newman, KTUU.
On Wednesday, the need for extra attention was exemplified, when a cyclist was struck in the middle of a crosswalk. It happened at the intersection of Lake Otis and East 50th and Waldron Drive. The event was captured on a dashboard camera by Dan Newman, a KTUU employee, just before 4:30 p.m.
The footage shows the cyclist entering the crosswalk, while maintaining the right-of-way. The pedestrian crosswalk sign can be seen flashing the red hand with a countdown of seconds, until the lights will change.
When the cyclist enters the roadway, a silver 4-door SUV-style vehicle, which was stopped at the light, pulls forward and collides with the cyclist. This sends the cyclist above the hood of the car, before falling to the pavement.
Several witnesses, including the motorist involved, then got out of their vehicles to render assistance to the cyclist. The names of the women involved, driving the SUV and riding the bicycle, have not yet been released.
"I stayed with her, until she was picked up by an ambulance," Newman said. "She seemed responsive, but really banged up."
APD spokesperson Renee Oistad said that the cyclist was "transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries." She said she could share more details, once the report on the case is turned in.
While there are many steps that motorists can take to avoid accidents such as this one, including distracted driver prevention and improving situational awareness, the cyclist often shoulders the lion's share of safety responsibility, as they would be the ones more severely injured in an accident, between a car and a bicycle.
Sylvia Craig, the project director for Alaska Injury Prevention Center (AIPC), said that cyclists should follow three important rules, while riding anywhere.
The first is to be visible. Craig said one of the main issues cyclists face is not being seen by motor vehicles. Wearing high visibility clothing, as well as lights and reflectors can help. Also, she says to be mindful of where you are, and make sure you are seen from multiple vantage points.
The second is to wear safety gear. "Helmets are the obvious number one piece of safety gear," Craig said. She added that bells can also be useful, when on trails and near pedestrians, as it helps to increase visibility on an auditory level.
The third is to be predictable. Craig said that it is important for cyclists to be predictable for cars that do see them, just as it is important to become visible to those that don’t. Being predictable helps cars understand cyclists intended movements and paths.
Bike Anchorage, the city's self-proclaimed "largest bicycle advocacy organization," identified Wednesday's collision as "the crosswalk slam," wherein motorists are "not expecting, nor looking, for bicyclists in cross walks."
On the organization's website, they outline several safety tips for cyclists, in order to safeguard themselves against collisions. For the "crosswalk slam," their advice is similar to Craig’s. Bike Anchorage said cyclists should make an effort to be seen and highly visible to cars, by wearing high visibility gear, reflectors and lights at night, entering crosswalks at much lower speeds and avoid riding on sidewalks.
This last tip, when applied to the collision caught on the dash cam recording, is especially identified as a dangerous maneuver.
"If you are on the left side – do NOT pass in front of cars looking to merge onto the road you are on, unless they see you and acknowledge you. If they do not either stop or go behind them so they can't hit you," Bike Anchorage website reads.
However, Craig said that cyclists in Anchorage are "perfectly allowed to choose to bike on the sidewalk, outside of business areas."
AIPC’s website says, “Cyclists can ride on the road, on multi-use trails and on sidewalks (except for in business districts.) When riding in the street, follow vehicle traffic laws, [and] on the sidewalk, follow pedestrian laws.”
These business districts are mainly confined to the downtown area, Craig said. This is due to several factors, including a heightened pedestrian flow, where cyclists would be forced to weave between people walking on the sidewalks.
Outside of the business district, Anchorage cyclists may legally ride on the sidewalk or in the road, Craig said.
"It's legal for cyclists to enter the road lanes, and is generally advised that they stay as far right as practicable in those lanes," Craig said.
She said that this facilitates motorists to pass them; however, she added that cyclists are also allowed to be in the middle of the lane, if they choose.
In an e-mail, Police Spokesperson Oistad said, when turning right on red, "drivers have a tendency to do two things: 1) only look to their left, as that is where the traffic is coming from, and 2) pull up all the way through a crosswalk and to the corner, before stopping. Drivers need to come to a complete stop, prior to the marked crosswalk, or where the crosswalk would be if marked."
She said drivers need to look both ways, before going anywhere. Her advice for cyclists included making eye contact with "any driver who is attempting to turn right on red [and] to make sure they’ve been seen." She added, "There is no legal requirement for the pedestrian to do this, but it helps to keep them safe."
Tonight, on the 5 O'Clock Report, KTUU speaks with an organizer affiliated with Bike Anchorage, regarding a proposed "bike boulevard" on 10th Avenue that could help improve bike safety, in the city.