Queens City Council Candidate Run Down and Injured by Driver
Just because you want to run the city doesn’t mean you won’t be run down by a reckless driver.
City Council candidate Julie Won found that out the hard way on Wednesday when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Sunset Park. Two days later, she posted about the incident on Twitter when she got X-rays and other treatment because she was still in pain (no broken bones, though).
“I was hit by a car on Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park when the driver stopped short to reverse into a parking spot,” Won told Streetsblog. “She had just passed me, but she did that thing that many New York drivers do — she saw a spot and hit the brakes. Then she went in reverse and she hit me.”
While riding my bike home from Sunset Park Brooklyn down 5th Ave, I was hit by a car that stopped short to reverse into a parking spot. Because the bike lane was unprotected and in between the road and parking spots, I was hit by the driver who didn’t see me in their blind spot. pic.twitter.com/YGMAo7SlvT
— Julie Won for City Council (@juliewon2021) November 6, 2020
Won said she fell over her handlebars onto the pavement, landing on her toes, knees and face and sustaining “a lot of muscle and tissue pain, and bruising — and I lost my toenails.”
More alarming, she posted, “The driver did not bother getting out of the car to check if I was okay.”
Instead, other cyclists came to her aid.
Won, a Korean-American who is running to succeed the term-limited Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, has already been savvy about street safety, posting on her campaign website that she “will fight to reverse the retroactive design principles the city takes for our neighborhood streets where DOT takes action to redesign our streets once a life is lost to a crash” and vowed that she would “ensure that we proactively design crosswalks, intersections, bike lanes, sidewalks, and roads to be community and human-centered with safety in mind to prevent crashes and collisions.”
But after the crash, she stepped that up a bit more, even.
“Now it’s personal,” she joked, but continued in a serious vein: “We need roads designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians by putting parking spots on the outside of bike lanes. Bike lanes must have jersey barriers to ensure safety of cyclists, but we also have to design roads so kids and seniors are safe. It pisses me off that DOT waits until someone has died to make a roadways safe.”
Won, who bikes everywhere, said that the three cyclists who stopped to help her were delivery workers — and their main concern was that she had health insurance, which she does.
“These delivery workers spend days and hours biking around a dangerous city and they get into crashes and none of them have health insurance from their employers,” Won told Streetsblog, “and they were the ones asking me if I was OK. It’s not right how they are treated.”
Supporters rallied around the would-be council member.
“I am so sorry that a driver hit you and caused injuries, but I am so glad that it wasn’t worse and that you’re able to get treated,” Queens safe streets advocate Macartney Morris posted on Twitter.
“Your injury is the fault of the driver, yes, but also a DOT and [the] mayor, who either have no courage or care too much about moving cars: fuck ’em.”
Jessie Singer of Transportation Alternatives pointed out that painted bike lanes are “just about as good as no bike lane at all”:
I am so sorry that this happened to you and so glad that you are okay. An unprotected bike lane is just about as good as no bike lane at all.
— Jessie Singer (@jessiesingernyc) November 6, 2020
That comment was a mirror-image of a comment made by Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Thursday when she said she, a veteran cyclist, felt comfortable riding in unprotected lanes. Newer cyclists and advocates saw the comment as a slip, albeit a rare one by Trottenberg, that was insensitive to thousands of bike riders who feel nervous riding in the city’s many unprotected roadways.