ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Imagine taking a nice summer stroll when suddenly you get rammed by a bicyclist. One Facebook follower doesn't have to imagine because that’s exactly what happened to her. Her story and a recent death prove more of us need to know the rules of the sidewalk.
Dianna Sterbenz says it happened so fast she didn't know what hit her. She was walking with her family along the bike path near the Nicholas Conservatory when out of nowhere a bicyclist slammed into her.
“Something needs to be said so this doesn't happen again,” said the Machesney Park resident. “That could have been a small child or an elderly person who would not have taken the hit as well as I did.”
Dianna says the hit left her with a bruise but it also opened her eyes. She started paying attention to all the bikers passing her by and like the woman who had just hit her, riders weren’t announcing their presence.
“They got on their way,” Sterbenz recounted, “and as they took off we watched them go down the path and pass several more people never once announcing themselves.”
Dianna says the rider could have simply shouted something to avoid the accident. Daniel Rowell was walking along the same path today and agrees with Dianna.
“It’s just safe and it’s just something decent to do,” said Rowell.
The Rockford Park District says while accidents on bike paths don’t happen a lot, the risk is always there and a little common sense courtesy can go a long way.
“If you’re yelling out that [you’re] passing on the left and you don’t receive a response from that person in front of you that you’re wanting to pass,” says Park District Police Community Service Officer Lisa Leombruni, “I would suggest that you dismount your bicycle and just go around them.”
Don Cash is sticking up for riders. He says pedestrians should be more aware of their surroundings.
“Everybody has headphones on,” said Cash. “It’s just like driving…everybody’s paying attention to everything else.”
Dianna says she wasn't badly hurt but not every bike path accident ends so fortunately. An elderly woman was struck by an 11-year-old bicyclist back in June in Arlington Heights and died earlier this month.
The Rockford Park District has a list of guidelines they call “Path Etiquette” on their website. You can find that information by entering the url below into your internet browser.