Bike advocates demand changes to investigation procedures
By Melissa Pamer | Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012
Los Angeles bicyclist Susanna Schick is in the intensive care unit at County+USC Medical Center after she says she was hit by a white Lexus on Friday night while riding in Spring Street’s neon-green bike lane. Her friend Jennifer Beatty says the car’s driver was harassing Schick and deliberately collided with her. No witnesses have come forward. NBC4’s Angie Crouch reports from downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles police believe a hit-and-run is not the cause of serious injuries to a bicyclist who said she had a late-night altercation with a driver that sent her to the hospital.
The Friday night crash — which left 42-year-old Los Angeles cyclist Susanna Schick with multiple broken bones after she was riding in a new neon-green bike lane on Spring Street downtown — is being investigated as a solo crash, according to Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Officer Wendy Reyes.
The incident has been referred from the Central Traffic Division to Central Detective Division, Reyes said, meaning it’s no longer being investigated as a collision.
“They obviously determined it wasn’t a hit-and-run,” Reyes said. “She might have fallen off the bike on her own.”
Schick told friends she was riding in Spring Street’s bike lane at about 11:30 p.m. Friday when she had an altercation with the driver of a white Lexus who swerved into the bike lane. She tried to get the driver’s attention and was ignored, Schick’s friend Jennifer Beatty said.
Schick woke up later, face down on the pavement, to find paramedics treating her. She had a broken collarbone, six broken ribs and a shattered pelvis.
While some in the LA bike community have expressed outrage over the incident, seen as an another example of road rage directed at cyclists, police contacted Monday said they were unaware of Schick’s condition or accident, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Tuesday, Schick posted on her Twitter account that she had spoken with a detective on Monday afternoon, adding: “Wow! Thanks for all the love & support. I’ve got very good news- I sat on the edge of the bed today, with only a little help from my PT!”
Schick’s condition Tuesday evening couldn’t be confirmed.
Cyclist Ted Rogers, a prolific blogger and tweeter of Los Angeles bike news, was horrified that a police report was not initially filed on the incident.
“Evidently, we really are on our own out there,” Rogers wrote.
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition sent out a statement Tuesday calling for the police department and the city to take the incident seriously and dedicate resources to “the rampant hit-and-run epidemic.”
The coalition called for a police division of “crash detectives/inspectors” to specialize in crashes involving bikes and pedestrians, and to fully investigate such cases, among other requests.
“What is particularly horrific about this incident is that the motorist who hit Susanna and fled the scene appears to have deliberately attacked her with his vehicle. While we realize the majority of Angelenos are good people and can respectfully share the road, Susanna’s crash draws attention to the issue of road rage in our city and county,” the bike coalition statement said.
Reyes said she could not respond to the coalition’s statement.