Two mornings after Charleston City Council once again voted in favor of a plan to convert a lane on the northbound U.S. Highway 17 bridge over the Ashley River to a protected bike and pedestrian lane, news hit the airwaves that a cyclist had been hit on the bridge.
That cyclist, 22-year-old Devario Reid Deterville, is still recovering from injuries he suffered after a car crashed into him as the sun was rising on the morning of July 21. After visiting a friend who worked the night shift at the Waffle House, he was returning to his America Street home via the left hand lane of the T. Allen Legare Bridge.
That’s when a car changed lanes and struck him at a relatively high speed.
Deterville survived the impact and is grateful for all the people, including medical personnel, who stopped on the bridge to help him.
“I could have died,” says Deterville, a native Charlestonian who graduated from the Academic Magnet High School and is now taking a break from his studies at the College of Charleston.
“I’m forever thankful for that group of people who helped me.”
But Deterville, who was thrown from his bike, suffered from breaks in the fibia and tibia of his lower right leg and road rash on his face, arms, legs and even feet, due to his shoes being knocked off. Deterville was not wearing a helmet and did not suffer from a head injury.
Besides being fortunate for surviving the collision, Deterville, who endured four surgeries on his right leg in the week after the incident, also is glad surgeons saved his leg. Shortly after his accident, it had swollen to twice the normal size and he had no feeling in his right foot.
As he undergoes physical therapy and heals, Deterville is living with his grandfather in a West Ashley neighborhood near the Savannah Highway “auto mile” but remains determined to bike in the future.
Like some millennials, Deterville does not have a car and bikes for transportation, including to jobs at Forever 21 and Sephora. He thinks that local and state governments need to catch up and improve infrastructure to make biking and walking safer in the Charleston area, particularly as the population and cost of living continues to increase.
If a protected bike lane had been on the right-hand side of the Legare Bridge, as proposed, Deterville says he probably would have considered backtracking from the Waffle House to find a safer passage across U.S. 17 and access it.
Meanwhile the fate of the Legare Bridge bike lane now lies in the hands of Charleston County Council, which ultimately holds the purse strings for the project. Despite a strong show of support for the lanes at city council meetings, a majority of county council members recently expressed opposition to the project and could potentially shut it down in the coming weeks.
Deterville vows to join the growing chorus of those urging them to move forward with the lane. Lives and limbs are at stake.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.