So, for what it’s worth, there was an article about Free Ride in the Post Gazette on Wednesday – the same day our friend was attacked.
Since he is featured prominently in the article, I sent a letter to the editor in the hope that they will find it in their hearts to follow up. Unfortunately the intern who wrote the article leaves Pittsburgh today, but maybe someone else will get involved. Here’s hoping….
Regarding the article “Blood Sweat and Gears” (Wed, Aug 1) by Michael Birnbaum:
My name is Shaun, and I am one of the coordinators with the Free Ride project that Michael participated in and wrote about. Sadly, one of our volunteers who is featured in this article, Elijah, was violently and intentionally struck by a vehicle at Baum and Liberty Avenue on Wednesday, the same day Michael’s article was published.
After exchanging words with Elijah at an intersection, exclaiming that he needed to get off the street, the driver accelerated as the light turned green in an effort to chase Elijah down. Realizing he was in danger, our friend rode his bike up onto the sidewalk to escape – only to be followed by the car onto the sidewalk and struck violently. The “gray sedan” stopped just short of hitting a utility pole before reversing quickly into oncoming traffic and speeding off. Nobody who witnessed this assault, which amounts to an attempt at murder with a motor vehicle, stopped or was able to provide any information about the driver. This happened at around 4pm in the afternoon.
To be clear, Elijah suffered minimal injury given the circumstances – a broken wrist, badly burned leg, and a destroyed rear wheel. Given that all of this happened on his 25th birthday, he’s remained in great spirits, never one to let something like this wipe the perennial smile from his face.
Unfortunately there is a tacit assumption by members of the cycling community that the police will not follow up a situation like this past the initial report that is filed, and further that the local media will not give a terrible story like this – an attempt at murder with a motor vehicle in broad daylight – the proper attention and follow through it deserves. It is all too typical that cyclists are blamed in situations where they are attacked, as though each of us on a bike in Pittsburgh is asking to be treated with disdain.
I hope you will consider a follow-up to Michael’s story regarding this situation. At the least, please print this letter in the hopes that anyone with any information about this assault will come forward and help. Elijah does not have medical insurance to cover his injuries, and the people who attacked him should not be allowed to get away with it. Please contact Free Ride at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-731-4094 with any information.