Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 6, 2013

Bike/car clashes extend beyond streets

TRAVERSE CITY — Johanna Schmidt is one of the fastest female cyclists in the state, and she’s crashed plenty of times.

She’s crashed in most of her mountain bike races, whether bouncing off a tree or wiping out in sand. Her most infamous crash was at the 2012 Cherry-Roubaix, when she screamed down a hill in a breakaway and wiped out as she rounded a corner.

But it was a casual, noon-time bike trip to Traverse City’s Eastern Elementary School that ended her racing career — at least for now.

On May 24, she was riding on a Civic Center paved trail that leads to East Front and Fair streets at a diagonal. Schmidt usually makes eye contact with vehicle drivers at all intersections, especially so before crossing at Front Street because of the danger of crossing as a “salmon” — on the left hand side.

But she wanted to cross while the pedestrian light remained white and didn’t think the car at the intersection was turning because it sat far back from the corner. As Schmidt began to cross, the car indeed turned right and hit her. Schmidt softly landed, uninjured, on the car hood.

The teen-age driver saw Schmidt on the hood and slammed on her brakes, tossing Schmidt onto the pavement.

“I landed right on my butt on the sacrum and it cracked,” she said.

Neither Schmidt nor the driver received a ticket, according to the 86th District Court.

Nerve damage from the fall caused a loss of feeling in her pelvic area and multiple complications, but she hopes the nerve will heal within a couple years.

“I knew this was going to be a long, hard haul. Luckily, I’m very patient,” she said.

Schmidt is among 19 cyclists involved this summer in collisions with motor vehicles, including Kelly Ann Boyce, who was fatally hit as she cycled to her Washington Street home early July 5. Police have still not identified the driver who struck Boyce, dragged her for more than a block, and drove off.

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