Karlyn Beer was biking north on Westlake Ave Friday evening when a drunk driver made a left turn directly in front of her.
“I slammed on my brakes of course, but plowed into the side of him,” she said via phone Saturday, still recovering from the trauma the night before.
“The top of my thumb is literally gone,” she said. Friendly passersby came to her aid after the wreck, pouring water from her water bottle on her hand to wash off the blood. But after all that, she’s glad it wasn’t even worse.
“I feel lucky that I came out of it alright,” she said. “My helmet was cracked, so it did its job.”
Beer has been a bike commuter for over ten years, and this is the first time she has been in a collision.
“Everyone else out there going on a decade accident-free is still at risk,” she said. “Shit like that is still happening.”
The driver stopped at the scene and was evaluated by police, who determined he was under the influence. It was 8 p.m. and still light out, but he apparently did not see her biking in the right northbound lane. The 56-year-old man has had a previous DUI on his record and was arrested at the scene and booked on investigation of vehicular assault, according to SPD.
The collision splintered the carbon fiber fork on Beer’s bike, which is still in police evidence.
Beer was on her way to Ballard from her job in a South Lake Union lab when she was struck. She said that she has thought a lot about whether it is safer to bike in the road on Westlake or through the parking lot, with cars backing out unexpectedly in front of you.
“I feel safer on the street, where vehicles are going the same direction as me,” she said. And while Dexter is just a hilly block over from Westlake, she said she prefers Westlake because it “is faster and flatter and the path of least resistance,” a sentiment shared by many people who bike from SLU to the Fremont Bridge.
She was also glad to hear that plans for an actually safe bikeway on Westlake are in the works.
While she is mainly concerned now about getting her medical bills and bike damage paid for, when she heard that the person driving was drunk and a repeat offender, that made her mad.
“I do feel really strongly about getting people who are repeat offenders off the road.”