KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Kathy Kirk knows the roads in Alamo Township well. She’s been riding her bike up and down them for decades she said. Thursday night, one of her friends was riding there at night. She was with three others when they were hit by a pick-up truck from behind.
“I could’ve been there,” said Kirk during an interview at the scene. “It could’ve been me. It could’ve been me and my husband.”
Kirk said when a cyclist is hit, the riding community takes it personally. They feel as though it could have been anyone of them. Deputies said the crash happened just after 7pm. The group was hit on Sixth Street near Ravine Road. The two in the back were hit. Then the driver sped off.
“I talked to one of the gals this morning and she said that when they heard a truck, a car coming up from behind, even though there was no on-coming traffic, they got way over to the righthand side,” said Kirk. “They were riding single-file. So they were doing everything right.”
Including wearing bright colors, Kirk said, and the lights on their bikes were flashing continually. A neighbor’s surveillance video shows the group riding past his driveway lit and visible. Two of the individuals hit — Matthew Sides, 50, of Plainwell, and Andrea Fore, 44, of Kalamazoo — were rushed to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
“We love riding our bikes out here,” said Kirk. “It’s just horrifying, especially this year, there’s so many, it’s hard to call all of them accidents. One was on purpose. But it’s just horrifying to have this happen to our friends over and over.”
In June, nine cyclists were hit by a pick-up truck on Westnedge Avenue. The impact was so severe that it killed four of them and sent the rest to the hospital. Kirk said they grieved as a community and still hurt today. It makes her a little more cautious when out on the road.
“The state is working on a 5-foot passing law that cars will have to give bikes 5ft when they pass them,” said Kirk. “Not that that’s going to cure everything. But it’s still recognition that yeah, we need that space and we expect that space.”
Deputies said the two injured cyclists are expected to be ok but they're looking for the driver. They’re asking the public to keep an eye out for a dark-colored pick-up truck with a missing headlight and damage to its front passenger side. Anyone with information should call (269) 383-8748
“I’m grateful that it’s not any worse than it was,” said Kirk. “It’s still just a reality check of how vulnerable we are.”