CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte cyclist is lucky to be alive after he said he was struck by a truck on Oct. 19.
Dan, who asked WCNC Charlotte not to reveal his full name, said he was headed to Uptown around 12 p.m. Tuesday when he was hit by a driver as he approached the intersection of Kennon Street and Pegram Street in the Belmont neighborhood east of Charlotte's city center.
“The person was taking a left on to Kennon from Pegram and just cut, real short, real short,” Dan said. “And then just hit the bike head-on.”
He said it all happened so fast.
“I don’t really know how, just pushed off the hood and jumped off,” he said.
He thought the driver would stop, but they didn't.
“I just kept looking around, trying to see if there were any witnesses, and there was one person who saw it and thought, ‘There’s no way they’re going to keep going,’ but they just kept going up the street,” Dan said.
The driver not only kept going but also drove off with Dan's bike lodged underneath their truck.
“This is the only thing remaining from my bike that I have,” he said, holding up a bent bicycle tire. “Someone else on Parson has my seat, so I’m going to go and try to get that today.”
Dan, a father of four, said he’s grateful to have walked away with only a sore wrist. His family hopes someone may have seen the truck responsible. Last week, Dan's wife posted on the neighborhood app NextDoor, hoping nearby residents may have home security footage.
“If that would have been my kids or something, it could have been a lot of worse, because I was high enough where I could push off and get out of the way,” Dan said. “We bike that way all the time to get to the greenway.”
Dan’s wreck is a reminder of how dangerous bicycling in Charlotte can be.
“Whatever traffic interaction you can think of between two cars, we’ll see it between a bike and a car as well,” Ann Groninger, a Charlotte attorney who specializes in bike law, said.
She herself is also a cyclist.
“Unfortunately, we’ve dealt with a number of fatality cases around North Carolina,” she said.
Watch for Me NC data shows that every year, more than 850 bicyclists in North Carolina are hit by cars, making North Carolina one of the least safe states in the country for bicycling.
The organization added that every year, roughly 20 bicyclists in North Carolina are killed.
“There is, of course, sometimes aggression toward bicyclists,” Groninger admitted. “If you injure somebody, especially if you seriously injure them, you know that’s something that you have to do deal with, both on your conscious and possibly financially."
However, she said the root of the problem is, oftentimes, distracted driving, speeding or running through lights.
“You know you’re in an urban area, Groninger said. "There’s a lot of traffic and a lot of congestion anyway, and, for some reason, people focus on bicyclists as causing that problem, when really it’s just congestion overall in the area."
When it comes to cyclists' rights, Groninger said, in North Carolina, they can ride on the road, and, when they do, the bike is considered a vehicle.
What should you do when you approach a cyclist? Groninger said it is legal to pass them, but there are restrictions. The law requires at least two feet of passing space when in a passing zone with a dotted center line on the road.
“If it’s a no-passing zone, a driver may pass a bicyclist by providing four feet of passing distance or moving completely into the oncoming lane, and, if there isn’t, just wait,” she explained.
The City said its challenge is connecting pedestrians and cyclists from where they live to where the bike paths and sidewalks are located.
For now, drivers and cyclists have to keep an eye out for each other. And if an incident does happen, Groninger recommended filing a report with the police, even if it's minor.
“We do really try to encourage people to make reports ... just so that the numbers are there, and the powers that be can take those into consideration when providing infrastructure and drafting new laws and coming up with solutions,” she said.
Until those lanes are added, Dan is hoping whoever hit him will start paying more attention when the behind wheel.