Bicyclist on Pedestrian Bridge Struck by Out-of-Place Vehicle

By Peter DePaolis

Imagine you are on your bicycle, out for a relaxing ride through neighborhoods and parks. The sun is shining, birds are singing, children are playing on the nearby grass. Casually, you ride up on to the pedestrian bridge that arcs over the river, greeting strolling families and other cyclists as you pass them. Below you, the river burbles along happily.

Suddenly, crammed into the narrow pathway, a car barrels towards you. What would you do?

“I saw this vehicle. Oh, my God. Brake. Scream,” said Kelley Howell of Norfolk, when this very thing happened to her last month. “When I realized I was hitting him,” she added, “there was no way to stop it.”

Wearing just riding gear, Howell was not carrying a cell phone. When she later contacted the Norfolk Police Department to report the accident and her resulting injuries, officers told her they could not investigate the case, because they were not called to the scene at the time.

The bicycle bridge is maintained by Elizabeth River Crossings, which partnered with the Virginia Department of Transportation to construct and operate transportation facilities in the state. When Howell brought her complaint to ERC, they referred her to the VDOT, which in turn passed her off to the Norfolk Police. The Norfolk Police helpfully suggested she get in touch with ERC.

Complicating the issue even further, there are currently no signs posted on the bridge saying vehicle traffic should not enter the pedestrian and bike area. What seems like obvious common sense is apparently not always so.

I Was Hit by a Car While Cycling and Need a Washington, D.C. Injury Attorney

Norfolk, like many other cities across the country, touts itself as a bike-friendly community. With a police force that refuses to investigate motorists driving on pedestrian bridges, though, it is hard to believe they really mean it. It hardly seems necessary to point out how critical it is that authorities take responsibility for their citizens’ safety.

Have you experienced this kind of bureaucratic nightmare in your community? Share your story on our Facebook page. Let others know they are not alone. Calling attention to this kind of nonsense is hopefully a good way to stop it.

Did You Know? Up in New York City, roughly 10 percent of the population—or 65,000 people—ride bicycles to work every day.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Injury Attorneys


About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.