GREENSBORO — A UNCG professor and well-known biking advocate is recuperating from serious injuries after his bicycle was struck from behind by an inattentive motorist.
Mark Schulz, an epidemiologist in the School of Health and Human Performance, suffered injuries including a shattered kneecap, crushed vertebrae, broken ribs, a broken sternum and a concussion.
He faces lengthy rehabilitation as a result of the March 26 crash at about 10 p.m. on Aycock Street.
Schulz remembers nothing of the accident that happened as he biked home after working late at the office. He was knocked unconscious.
“I do not remember being hit. It’s just a matter of being rear-ended,” Schulz said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his hospital room. “I went flying. I didn’t have time to look back and see what happened.”
Greensboro police officer M.P. Kees said that Schulz did everything properly for riding at night.
“(He) had on a reflective vest, helmet and front and rear battery powered lights which were working after the crash,” Kees said in the accident report.
The officer said that motorist Amy Dunnuck of Julian was “text messaging on her phone when she looked up and saw a male on a bicycle.”
“She attempted to swerve left to avoid contact with the bicycle but was unsuccessful,” said Kees, who cited Dunnuck for failing to reduce speed.
City officials and bike groups say that many motorists need to get better at sharing the road with bikes and being more alert for their presence.
“Obviously, from the driver’s standpoint, don’t be driving and using a hand-held device at the same time,” said Jesse Day, a friend of Schulz and a fellow biking enthusiast.
Schulz, an assistant professor in public health education since 2002, said he hopes to be back on the job in several weeks at a reduced pace, but he knows it will be much longer before he’s able to ride again. Doctors have told him his knee must be immobilized for six weeks.
The accident shows that “the bicyclist can be absolutely perfect, but there are still drivers out there who aren’t paying attention,” said Peggy Holland, the city’s coordinator of bike and pedestrian programs.
Greensboro reported 69 accidents involving bikes last year, with no fatalities, one disabling injury, 26 “evident” injuries, three without any injury and the rest with unknown levels of injury, she said. But Holland said bicycle-car accidents are a two-way street and no few stem from bike riders not obeying the rules of the road.
Schulz had every right to be on the street after dark, Day said, considering that he was wearing reflective clothing and his bike was equipped with proper lighting.
“We don’t recommend children ride at night,” he said. “But for an adult, in denser urban areas, there should be enough street lighting to make it safe.”
Schulz, 54, said he will have no qualms relying on a bike as his favorite mode of travel when he’s physically able once again.
That’s true even though bicyclists have “double the chance of dying” in an on-road crash compared with a motorist, he said.
“That’s not trivial. But if I were a smoker, I would have 10 times the chance of dying of lung cancer,” the epidemiologist said.