A Palo Alto man riding his bicycle on Alpine Road on Nov. 18 was sent to the hospital with head injuries when someone driving a Porsche SUV struck the bicycle from behind and fled the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The bicyclist, who is 60, was riding westbound on the same stretch of Alpine Road where a westbound cyclist was struck and killed in November 2010 by a westbound truck headed toward the southbound on-ramp of Interstate 280. He was riding in the bike lane at about 1:40 p.m. when he was knocked off his bike after being struck by the vehicle, CHP Officer Arturo Montiel told The Almanac.
He was not wearing a helmet and was taken to Stanford Hospital with head injuries, Montiel said.
A CHP accident report described the cyclist's injuries as minor.
The SUV – a white Porsche – left the scene with a damaged front end on the passenger side, Montiel said.
A "be on the lookout" alert for the Porsche went out to area law enforcement agencies for the rest of the day, he said.
Authorities do not have a license plate number for the SUV, Montiel said.
An Atherton resident said she was driving behind and to left of the SUV when it struck the cyclist. "I thought it was boxes flying through the air," she told The Almanac. "It didn't hit me that it was a human, at first."
She said her first instinct was to follow the SUV and get its license plate number, but thought better of it and stayed on the scene to help and protect the cyclist. He was bleeding from the back of his head and wasn't wearing anything bright. "I thought this man was going to get hit again," she said.
So she got out of her car and began waving down drivers to stop, she said.
"Meanwhile, the SUV took up the freeway ramp," she said. The driver hesitated after the collision, but didn't stop, she said. "I just couldn't imagine how someone could just leave."
Not schooled in first aid, she offered the cyclist comfort, telling him he had just been in an accident and that he was going to be OK. "He was whimpering a little," she said. He eventually sat up and said he wanted to get off the street and to the curb, and the passersby helped him do that, she said.
"I had no medical training," she said. "I was trying to stop someone who knew what they were doing." Eventually, she said, a physician stopped and wrapped the cyclist's head in a towel to stop the bleeding.
She said she gave her contact information to a law enforcement officer who told her he would pass it on to the CHP. "No one ever called me," she said.
Her children, ages 11 and 6, witnessed the accident and were hysterical, she said.
Dedicated bike lane
The green bike lane the cyclist was using opened in October 2013 and came about as a result of efforts by the cycling community and county officials after the November 2010 death of 47-year-old Los Altos cyclist Lauren Perdriau Ward, who was struck and killed in that vicinity.
Her bicycle collided with a tractor trailer truck as both were headed west under the freeway overpass. In that incident, the driver did not leave the scene after the collision.
The westbound bike lane begins after the stop sign at the northbound on-ramp. The bike lane threads cyclists between traffic headed for the freeway and traffic going west on Alpine to Ladera and Portola Valley.
In the approach to the freeway on-ramp, where cyclists contend with merging vehicle traffic, the bike lane is in the shade of the freeway overpass but is painted bright green and staggered into blocks.
The alternating blocks of green and black pavement are meant to alert motorists that they're sharing a right-of-way with cyclists, officials say. Sets of diagonal white stripes alongside the bike lanes further demarcate them from traffic lanes.
"These bike lanes will serve as a constant reminder that motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians can co-exist safely," CHP Capt. Mike Maskarich said at the 2013 ceremony opening the bike lane.