I got hit by a car

It’s been six days since I got hit by a car and today was the first day I was able to walk my dog. 

Getting hit by a car and being able to walk your dog six days later is pretty lucky, in the scheme of things. And that’s how I feel. Also a little depressed. 

I had a pretty bad sickness — just a cold or flu or something — I was just recovering from when I got hit. So I ended up spending half of two weeks in bed which can get to you. 

Someone asked me if I was going to write about getting hit by a car, since for the last few years I have been writing about other people getting hit by cars while walking and now I’ve joined the club. I was hit by an SUV no less.

It’s honestly something that has always worried me, but in my worst nightmare my kids were there and luckily in this case they weren’t. 

I always felt was semi likely that something like this would happen to me at some point I guess. I have been biking, etc. on streets in Ohio for a good 20 years now. A have a handful of friends who have been seriously injured. 

When I got hit I was riding my (e) scooter, though I don’t think that had anything to do with it. I was in a crosswalk with the walk signal. I could have just as easily have been biking or walking. The crosswalk connected two segments of off road trail that I have been using to commute to work when the weather is nice enough. 

It was a hit-and-run. But I got away with just one pretty bruised leg, which is objectively lucky. (If you’re going to get hit by a car, I recommend getting hit at a very slow speed).

Still a bruised leg is sort of an inconvenience when you don’t own a car and do many of your trips on foot or bike or by bus. I was able to use the family (shared car) a few days this week. And then sorta for lack of better immediate alternatives, I started scooting again. 

My scooter is a little bit crooked, the handlebars now, but it works fine. A scooter is actually sort of a good way to get around when you have a bum leg, at least if you don’t have a car. I involuntarily screamed at some driver who was 10 feet away from me but otherwise, no issues since, even though I have to cross the same intersection daily. 

When my friend asked me if I was going to write about it my first thought was no, because it’s not a very interesting story. But here I am writing some long winded (not very interesting) thing anyway because I guess you sort of have to when you’re in my position. 

But I also don’t want to be melodramatic. The hit-and-run aspect is one thing to process. It’s obviously an insulting way to be treated. Then on the other hand, not being too injured is pretty fortunate.

I am fortunate (privileged) in a lot of other ways too. I know might rights in this kind of case really well. Even more, I know — and this is really unusual — basically all the people in decision-making roles about this particular intersection. And was able to just email them when things settled down.

It makes me think: What is the process for which someone who is struck at an intersection they know to be dangerous to bring that to the attention of the right people? And I’m not sure I know the answer or there is an answer, at least not one that is really sufficient. And I know for a lot of people that are less connected, less well off or whatever, they don’t really have any official recourse, outside of the courts. 

I remember getting struck pretty well. I remember knowing this crossing was a nightmare. That the drivers exiting the highway at that location never yield, make a right turn straight through the whole walk signal. But this guy who hit me he paused (looking left?) and I was pretty certain signaled me across.

A few seconds later he is turning right into me and I yell, trying to get his attention. A handful of times in the past when I driver has been driving at me — about to hit me, does not see me — yelling has worked really well to get their attention. 

This guy though, I don’t know. I don’t know what was going on on his end. In the immediate aftermath of the crash — after I crawled to the sidewalk and briefly laid down, and then just sat there for a minute in the snow — I was half convinced he did it on purpose, to punish me for crossing when he thought (incorrectly) it was his turn. But now I’m not so sure about that either. Maybe it was paranoia or adrenaline.

I remember, there was a moment in the crosswalk, me yelling, that I thought to myself, “okay this is really happening,” and like I said this was a possibility — getting hit by a car — I was not entirely mentally unprepared for. 

And while I had that thought, almost immediately I had the realization that I should be trying to gather information about the vehicle. In the meantime though, I was being thrown off my scooter/feet, somehow injuring my left shin (from the car, or the scooter or the street, it’s still not clear to me). 

I sat there on the sidewalk in the snow until a couple people stopped and helped me. They said “Are you okay?” At first I said “No, I just got hit by a car.” (I was still kind of mad and upset.) But then I said, “I don’t know,” which was true because I knew my knees were injured but I couldn’t see them under my pants. 

I asked them to call the police so they did and took down some of my information. Then they sent a firetruck — which was overkill — and an EMS. The EMS folks were amazing. It didn’t seem worth it to me to go to the hospital. It was clear my leg wasn’t broken. 

My husband came and sat with me in the ambulance on the side of the road for a little while and we waited for the police but they never came. Too low of a priority, which is honestly semi understandable I guess in a city like Cleveland. 

Even though one of my first instincts was to gather information about the vehicle that struck me, I failed miserably. I knew it was a silver SUV but I didn’t know what type. I remember the logo on the hood being loopy so I thought maybe it was a Toyota. A Highlander? 

Later a friend who lived down the street sent me a video. And we were able to identify the car as a 2019 Hondai Santa Fe. But without the plate number I knew it wasn’t going to amount to anything. In many cities, I know from my reporting, even fatal hit-and-runs are rarely thoroughly investigated, much less cleared.

Did I really even want “justice?” Someone to be put in jail? Not really. I do sorta hope the guy will not do it again though. When I called the next day, Cleveland did send a police officer that took a report. So the records are in order I guess if for some reason I need them at some point, but I don’t expect that to happen. 

A friend said many drivers travel the same way at the same time every day and I should go do a stakeout. I guess I could try to get a picture of the license plate but I’m just trying to keep my head above water. I still haven’t 100% recovered from having covid over a year ago and I haven’t had all that long to think it through. 

It does make me feel a little down I guess. I’ve been working as a volunteer advocate for more than 10 years to make streets safer in Cleveland. And progress is so slow. Should I just give up and get a car? 

The location where I was hit was on a brand new trail — and even there corners were cut safety wise (the speed of drivers was prioritized over the safety of trail users) that predictably led to me being hurt.

Nobody is safe and we just accept it.