BY JESSIE BALMERT • ADVOCATE REPORTER • MAY 17, 2010
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — A pleasant bicycle ride through the county turned dangerous after aggravated motorists threw full soft-drink cups out their window, knocking a Worthington woman off her bike.
Sara Abele, 29, said she was bringing up the rear of a nine-person bicycle chain on Loudon Street near U.S. 62 Sunday afternoon.
The group was riding at about 22 mph when someone in an oncoming black Pontiac tossed two large plastic McDonald’s cups filled with ice at the group, she said.
“It was definitely on purpose,” Abele said. “They could have killed me.”
She was knocked from her bicycle and sustained deep bruises, she said.
“She ended up sliding down the road on her back,” fellow rider John Martin said.
No bones were broken and a safety helmet, which cracked in three places, saved her from any brain damage, Abele said. She said it could have been much worse if a vehicle or fellow riders had been behind her.
Abele, who is training to ride in Pelotonia, a charitable cycling event to benefit the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, said she enjoys riding her bicycle in Licking County because of the hills and country roads, but she wishes motorists were more thoughtful.
The group, members of the Central Ohio Triathalon Team, started at River Road Coffee House in Newark and were about 10 miles into their ride when the incident occurred, Martin said.
Abele said her injuries serve as a sobering reminder of other bicyclists who were not as lucky. Columbus’ seventh annual Ride of Silence is Wednesday, commemorating cyclists killed by motorists.
“It’s a good time to think about sharing a road,” Abele said.
The Licking County Sheriff’s Office was notified about the incident and will investigate the black Pontiac. Anyone with information may call (740) 670-5555.
If faced with similar circumstances, the best advice for cyclists and motorists is to disengage, not escalate, said Greg Hartz of the Licking County Trails Alliance.
“It’s no different from road rage if you’re in a car,” Hartz said.
The most common problem for motorists is impatience, but they must remember cyclists have a right to the road as well, Hartz said.
“Bicycles are not toys. They do not belong on the sidewalk,” he said.
If cyclists notice someone not sharing the road or, perhaps exhibiting violent behavior, pull off to the side and get the person’s license-plate number, Hartz said.
Hartz said he was disheartened to hear about the attack Sunday but knows most motorists don’t resort to violence. Despite one eager motorist, he had no problems riding to and from work in the rain Monday.
“Generally, people were very patient and very kind,” Hartz said.