Alyssa Murphy is “usually really aware” of her surroundings when she bicycles. She wears bright colors and doesn’t often ride at night. And she wears her helmet — most of the time.
But Murphy lost her helmet after last season and hasn’t replaced it since she began riding this spring. On May 8 she was hit by a car while biking.
Murphy was riding on the bike path on Kalifornsky Beach Road where it travels right alongside the roadway, on her way back to work at the Department of Environmental Conservation in Soldotna after her lunch break at home. As she approached the driveway to Duck Inn she saw a car that was waiting for traffic to clear. Murphy thought she made eye contact with the driver and assumed it was safe to proceed.
As she was crossing in front of the vehicle, the driver began to pull forward as she was looking left, watching traffic. Even though the driver was going slowly, she hit Murphy, who ended up on the hood of the woman’s car and then on the ground.
“The first thing that popped into my mind,” Murphy said, “was just like, ‘Wow, why did you hit me? I thought that you saw me.’ I was really shocked that she pulled forward I thought that we had an understanding with our eyes.”
The driver got out of her car and two witnesses stopped to assist the two women as they waited for Alaska State Troopers and medical assistance to arrive.
Murphy sustained minor injuries. At Central Peninsula Hospital she received stitches for a deep laceration in her left leg that was “bleeding profusely” at the scene. She fractured her right hand and wrist near her thumb and may have damaged some ligaments in her knee. Murphy is unsure whether she sustained a minor concussion, but, during the past week, she has been showing the signs of having had a one.
“I think we all agree it could have been a lot worse,” Murphy said. “I should have been wearing my helmet.”
One of the wheels on her bicycle is warped from the accident, but Murphy only paid $10 for it at a garage sale and plans to buy a new one when she can start biking again.
According to the Department of Transportation’s most recent data, in 2010 it recorded five bicycle-related accidents and five pedestrian-related accidents on the Kenai Peninsula.
To avoid becoming a statistic, Trooper Spokesperson Megan Peters said bikers should use reflectors and wear bright clothes as well as helmets. Bikers should be aware of laws specific to where they are riding, as the rules vary between sidewalks and roads she said.
She also warned bikers to be cautious because unlike a motorist, “you don’t have a good metal frame to protect you.”
Peters advised motorists to be aware of their environment and check blind spots as more Alaskans are out biking, running and walking. She said many drivers roll through stop signs, but it’s important to stop completely and look before turning because bikers can seem to come out of nowhere.
Once she heals and is able to start biking again, Murphy plans to continue to wear bright clothing and get a new helmet. She also plans to get drivers’ attention when crossing their paths on her bike.
“I will be waving at them and expecting a wave back,” she said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.