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Cyclist Says Rt. 9W Driver Hit Him Intentionally

Police investigate incident in Upper Nyack; bicyclist bruised, his helmet split.

UPPER NYACK—October 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

An Upper Nyack cyclist who was knocked off his bicycle on Rt. 9W told Patch he believes a motorist struck him intentionally.

Robert Helmke, 41-years-old, was pedaling along Route 9W in Upper Nyack near the Christian Herald Road intersection Saturday, Oct. 6, when the incident occurred.

"I was heading southbound, and the light was red," Helmke said. "I passed a Mercedes to turn into a gas station. As I passed, I heard him rev his engine."

The Mercedes was a late model CL 500, two-door coupe with New York plates and tinted windows.

What happened next, according to Helmke, could only have been purposeful.

He said the driver pulled out in front of two cars using the northbound lane. The motorist then cut in just in front of Helmke, clipping his tire and sending him tumbling onto the pavement, Helmke said.

Helmke suffered a bruise on his right hip, road rash, and a cracked helmet.

"I've been riding for four years, and I've never experienced something like this," he said. "It was, no doubt in my mind, deliberate. He wanted to send me a message."

Nyack Community Ambulance Corps. responded to the incident, checking in on Helmke. Although the scene was in Clarkstown Police jurisdiction, Orangetown Police initially responded due to Clarkstown Police Officer Terrance McCruden's funeral in New City and burial procession in Nanuet.

The report was soon passed to Clarkstown Police, who are currently investigating.

"Mr. Helmke was contacted yesterday for a follow up interview," said Sgt. Jo Ann Fratianni. 

Fratianni said local police sent a request to the state DMV to run a partial plate on the suspect vehicle's make and model.

"Results are pending," Fratianni added. 

Helmke said he had to check his cycle into Toga Bike Shop for repairs, but won't be off the road for long.

"I'll be out again Saturday—if my leg is moving right," he said.

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Related reading

(Sept. 2012)

NYSDOT Puts Cycling Safety Signs on Route 9W [VIDEO] (Aug. 2012)

Opinion: New 9W Bike Safety Signs Not Enough (Aug. 2012)

Police Probe Cyclist's Death; Victim Had 2 Daughters (June 2012)

Nicholas August 13, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Sorry, but that is really the problem, judging all cyclists by those who ride on Piermont Avenue. I ride 150 miles a week and yet I am (although infrequently) subject to physical and verbal abuse. The traffic rules are clear about overtaking a slow moving vehicles (slow down wait for a safe opportunity to pass), but some motorists ignore the law and will plough through regardless of my personal safety. What I choose to wear is irrelevant (FYI cycling clothing is incredibly comfortable and visible) and I follow the rules of the road, but the main issue is car speeding and not waiting until it is safe to overtake a slow moving vehicle as stated in the State highway code.
Tammy Kay Kuiper August 14, 2013 at 08:39 AM
I don't care what cyclists wear and i don't care how expensive or delicate, or not, their bike is. More than once i have had bicyclists decide to swerve out to pass another bycyclist or avoid a storm drain without looking and nearly caused and accident and if i honk i get the finger. this has happened on 9w where traffic is moving 40mph plus and if we touch death or serious injury is almost guaranteed. on river rd it's happened too and the language and hand jestures are lovely. i expect that most if not all of these bicyclists are also motorists. why is it that once they get on a bike they forget all the traffic laws and the fact that cars are less nimble and weight thousands of pounds which means if the two meet the bicycle will come out on the sorry end of things. how about this if a car honks its because they are nervous something bad is about to happen and before you engage in neanderthal like behaviour you think about what you might be doing or have done to trigger panic or concern enough for the honk. please do not stop and wait for your friends or take a break on just the other side of a blind hill right next to the active lane, please stop before or well after the blind hill as far to th side as possible. lets all try to treat each other the way we would want to be treated ourselves and ride the way we were taught as kids...stay single file, stay as far out of traffic lanes and as far to the side as possible at all times, cmmunicate what you are doing using proper hand signals and act like a vehicle because you are, remember the driver might not see what you are doing and in the end if you meet you will be hurt, bicycles have no air bags or protection so if you do meet it is the bicyclist that bears the greatest health risk.
RocklandRes August 17, 2013 at 11:33 AM
The cyclists I encounter in Rockland are ignorant to the rules of the road and common courtesy. Last year one swerved in front of my husband, who was trying to go around him at about ten miles an hour. The man proceeded to swear at us and give my husband the finger (safe move). In single file only areas toucan often find three cyclists next to each other taking up the whole road. They never stop at stop signs or red lights. I'm surprised more aren't hit. Last year near Blue Hill, one nearly killed himself when he tried to run a red light n changed his mind at the last minute. It's crazy.
amerpatriot August 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM
For all the children whose mothers never told them not to play in traffic, do so at your own risk. Our great road system and highways were never intended to have children ride their bikes in traffic. There are many bike trails that have been paid for (with taxpayer money) so you can ride safely. Bicyclists must understand that they DO NOT have "the right of way". Show me a bicyclist that stops for all red lights, keeps as far to the right AS POSSIBLE, rides single file in jurisdictions that require single file. Slowing down and doing figure-eights in the middle of an intersection is not "stopping for a red light". It all says to me that fines for violations are not high enough. Maybe it's time to license bicyclists, written and road testing.
Nicholas August 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM
That is nonsense, cyclist do have 'the right of way' when the law allows, just as any vehicle on our roads does. It saddens me that someone like yourself, who has no comprehension of our highway code, is driving on the roads. Next time you are stopped at a changing light see how many motorists run the red light from the opposite direction or roll through a stop sign. It is about sharing the road, of which part is slowing down and waiting for a safe opportunity to overtake when approaching a cyclist.

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