Local cyclist injured in hit-and-run

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/17/17

A local cyclist and podiatrist was severely injured on Tuesday after being struck on a ride of the Blackwater Cycling Club.

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Local cyclist injured in hit-and-run

Posted

A local cyclist and podiatrist was severely injured on Tuesday after being struck on a ride of the Blackwater Cycling Club.

Dr. John Odle said he is expected to be in a back brace for 12 weeks after suffering three compression fractures during the collision, which occurred around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday on Arkadelphia Road.

His other injuries include a gash on the left elbow, a gash on the hand, a leg hematoma and numerous bruises.

State Trooper Jonathan Appling confirmed Friday that the incident is being investigated as a hit-and-run. Witnesses report that the vehicle involved in the crash was a yellow SUV.

Odle said he and another cyclist were riding single-file near the white line when a vehicle struck him from behind without warning.

The vehicle, which did not stop, also narrowly missed a second cyclist riding in front of Odle.

Alabama law requires that drivers leave at least 3 feet when passing cyclists.

“I’m not sure what the person’s circumstances were before they hit me, but we had flashing lights and appropriate colors and were following our part of the law,” Odle said.

Dr. Gary Russell, who was part of a group of cyclists that had pulled ahead of Odle, said there was a flashing light on the back of Odle’s bike to alert drivers of his presence, and the second cyclist was wearing a lime green jersey and riding a lime green bike.

“This person must have been paying zero attention,” Russell said.

In 2015, nine bicycle fatalities were reported in the state, and 185 cyclists were injured, according to the Drive Safe Alabama website.

Russell said distracted driving is dangerous to cyclists.

“You’re driving down the road at 45 mph in a 2,500-pound vehicle. If you hit someone, there is no contest. They’re going to be seriously hurt or you’re going to kill them. People are driving distracted all the time, like their phones are more important than other people’s lives,” said Russell, who was struck on his cycle in 1995 by a driver who was legally blind.

In May, cyclist Angela Harris told the Daily Mountain Eagle that close calls with vehicles are common on rides of the Blackwater Cycling Club.

“When a vehicle drives past a cyclist at a high rate of speed, that can scare you, especially if you're a single rider. But it's scary even when you're in a group, too,” Harris said.

Odle said cyclists also frequently encounter aggression from drivers.

Moments before Tuesday’s collision, a person in another vehicle screamed profanities at the cyclists and told them to get off the road, according to Odle.

“Part of the problem is there is a segment of the population that does not feel we should be on the road. They’re the ones who harrass people,” Odle said.

Anyone with further information about the incident is asked to call the state trooper post in Hamilton at (205) 921-3121.