Protest planned after second cyclist struck in Center City

Becca Refford remembers biking through a green light, seeing the flash of a truck turning sharply toward her, and the rest is mostly a blur.

“I went through the intersection and suddenly there was a truck,” Refford, 24, said from a hospital bed Saturday. “I got super, duper lucky.”

Three weeks after a young woman was struck and killed riding her bike in Center City, Refford was severely injured in a crash just a block away, prompting renewed calls for bike-lane protections.

Refford, a web designer who lives in South Philadelphia, was heading to a medical appointment Friday about 10 a.m. when she was hit by a box truck on the 1200 block of Pine Street. The truck’s driver went to make a right turn onto Pine, which has a bike lane, from 13th Street, when he heard a thump and thought he had struck a curb, police said. A witness flagged down the driver, who stopped and is cooperating with the investigation.

Refford remembers trying to propel herself off the truck’s side but falling hard and getting trapped underneath as its back wheels crushed her legs. She is being treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for a fractured pelvis, shattered hips, and scrapes and bruises, and will undergo surgery  Monday.

“I was just howling, almost animal-like, rolling around writhing in pain,” she said. “Luckily a lot of people stopped to help me.”

She was not wearing a helmet but said she plans to never go without one again “if I ever get comfortable enough to get back on a bike again.” Refford said she never bikes wearing earbuds and her phone was in her pocket.

Doctors told her she’s looking at about six to eight weeks of recovery.

Bicyclist Fatalities in Philadelphia

At least 26 bicyclists have died in accidents on Philadelphia streets since 2010. Seven of the fatalities involved collisions with trucks, including the Nov. 29 accident at 11th and Spruce Streets that killed 24-year-old Emily Fredricks.

SOURCES: PennDot; Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Staff Graphic

She is the second bicyclist hit in the area in three weeks. On Nov. 29, 24-year-old pastry chef Emily Fredricks was killed when a private garbage truck struck her on 11th Street near Spruce.

At least 26 bicyclists have died in accidents on Philadelphia streets since 2010. Seven of the fatalities involved crashes with trucks.

Earlier last week Mayor Kenney responded to safety concerns by announcing the city will add flexible posts to the bike lanes on South Street from 21st to 27th Streets by mid-2018. The protective posts will also extend from South Street to Lombard along 27th Street.

It’s a start, but for activists pushing for protected lanes, Philadelphia has a long way to go. About 200 miles of city streets have bike lanes, and of those, about 2.5 miles are protected.

Camera icon Jessica Griffin
Protesters advocate for safer bike lanes by lining up at 11th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia.

A protest is scheduled for Tuesday on 13th Street south of Pine, and participants will put their bodies between the cycling and driving lanes — the area where protective barriers would go.

Refford said she thinks both bikers and drivers need to be more aware, but it’s the cyclists who are at a major disadvantage.

“Going from my house to work every day, I probably have at least one semi-close call, and any avid biker will tell you a similar number,” she said. “The fact is we’re out there with a tiny metal frame, with our bodies, in the elements and we’re fighting with these two-ton monsters.”