Wed 9 Dec 2009
I knew what was going to happen the moment after the middle-aged cyclist pushed off eastbound from the curb into the La Cienega Boulevard crosswalk from the northwest corner of La Cienega and Venice Boulevard. His immediate destination was the northeast corner of the intersection, but he went to the hospital instead.
I noted how good it was of him to smile and wave a friendly thank you at the southbound drivers on his left who were stopped as he crossed in front of them. But I also noted right away how bad it was that he hadn’t noticed the Don’t Walk sign across the street or me next to it on my bike waving frantically and yelling for him to stop because he also hadn’t noticed the two left turn lanes of traffic on Venice on his right that got their green arrow and had started flowing in an arc from eastbound Venice to northbound La Cienega.
Two cars in a stereotypical hurry in the No. 1 turn lane, managed to zip clear of the oncoming cyclist before he arrived, as did the lead car in the No. 2 lane. But by the time the second car in the No. 2 lane — a Toyota Prius, blessedly traveling slower and safer — entered the crosswalk, the entirely oblivious cyclist literally didn’t know what hit him as he put himself fully in the Prius’ path. The look of surprise on his face was terrifying, and in a split-second 25-feet away from me came the crunch of the collision, which drove the cyclist hard onto the Toyota’s hood, dislodging his City of Los Angeles baseball cap that fell to the ground beside the stopped car while he rebounded off it flying through the air a few feet and landing even harder on the asphalt where he rolled several times until coming to a stop about 10 feet away from the front bumber of the Prius where it had stopped, approximately 20-25 feet away from the point of impact.
In the next moment I was off my bike yelling “goddammit!” and rushing to the side of the downed rider who while obviously in pain and distress, was remarkably and thankfully free from any visible bleeding.
Kneeling beside him, he was coherent and communicative, but in Spanish, so I held his hand and urged him to stay still and not move. As the driver and passenger of the the Prius arrived and tried to keep him calm, others also gathered around I asked if someone could call 911. Someone did.
Paramedics arrived within a few minutes and police shortly thereafter, and after identifying myself as a witness to the senior officer and giving him my contact information, it was good to see that firefighters were able to help the injured man to his feet where he limped over with their help to a waiting stretcher for transport to the hospital.
Needless to say the rest of the ride to work was a safe but somber and sad one and I’m here now at my desk a little unsettled but both thankful that the occupants of the Prius were so concerned and helpful and hopeful that the cyclist’s injuries are minor ones.