A great meeting is followed by an abhorrent hit-and-run

We had a great meeting of the SVBC San Jose Team last night. Thanks to everybody who came out, and thanks to Pho 69 for giving us a quiet, spacious loft to meet in!

The meeting was a great opportunity for bike advocates, hopeful bike-riders-to-be, and recent bike-friendly transplants to San Jose to meet each other, meet several SVBC staff members, and catch up on what San Jose is doing to increase bike access and infrastructure. Of particular interest were the San Jose Bike Plan and General Plan, both of which lay out goals and strategies for increasing the number of trips taken by bike in the city.

After the meeting, I hopped onto my trusty Route 23 bus and headed home. At the stop near my house, I walked my bike from the bus to the crosswalk as a pinched nerve was keeping me off the saddle. The next ten or fifteen seconds happened very fast.

From behind my right shoulder, a car was turning left, across the crosswalk. I'm used to bad drivers in my neighborhood, and it didn't surprise me that it didn't sound like the car was going to yield to me or the man walking toward me. I stopped; he didn't.

This is the first time I've actually witnessed a hit-and-run, and it was surreal. He got hit in the legs and bounced off the hood of the car. He bounced up off the pavement quickly, shaken and cursing at the driver. The driver looked shocked, but quickly became angry, too. “You were jaywalking!” shouted the driver, before speeding off down the street.

What was I doing during all this? Mostly, I was shouting “whoa, whoa, whoa!” like a dummy, desperately trying to flag the driver to the side of the road, keep an eye on the victim, and figure out what to do with my bike and myself before the light changed again. The car sped off, and the victim and I hurried to opposite sides of the street so as to not tempt fate a second time. As soon as I could, I called the police.

I wasn't exactly the coolest cucumber through all of this, and I've reflected a bit on what I did and didn't do.

What I didn't do:

  • Get an good look at the driver, other than a general confirmation of gender, rough age, and skin tone.
  • Take note of the make and model of the car, other than the fact that it was light in color, small, and older.

What I did do:

  • I got the license plate number and called the cops.

Now, my brain was a little scrambled, and there's a chance that I could have written the number down wrong. It would have been helpful if I could have noted the make and model of the car, too. The most important thing, though, is that the victim walked away after a quick once-over by the paramedics. He's was no doubt a bit bruised and shaken, but mostly okay.

The biggest lesson from all of this? IF YOU HIT SOMEBODY, DON'T DRIVE AWAY!!! Obviously, the “jaywalking” excuse was lame whether it was true or not (it was not). In any case, that driver is now a wanted criminal. Hopefully justice is served. Hopefully, they don't repeat the crime.

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