Another Reason to Wear a Helmet
On the same day that we published a story on bicyclists who have had a hail of projectiles lobbed their way as they ride up and down 11th Street NW near Florida Avenue, Martin Nikoloski was knocked off his bike on 11th Street, just south of Florida, and stomped by a group of what he assumed to be middle-school students. Thanks to his helmet, he doesn't appear to have sustained permanent damage. Here's his e-mail to us (emphasis ours):
Dear Mr. Grim,
I have a brand new appreciation for the article that you wrote in City Paper recently[…]
My name is Martin Nikoloski, and I have been a proud resident of DC and Columbia Heights neighbourhood for the past six years. I have been riding my bike as a major form of transportation for few years now and I would always boast to my friends that I've never been mugged because I'm hard to catch on my bike. I'd like to share with you what happened to me yesterday, April 6th, around 3:10pm as I was riding my bike heading North on 11th Street, b/n U St. and V St. NW, on my way home from the grocery store.
There was a group of African-American kids, about a dozen of them that appeared to be coming back from school, as some of them still had their back packs on. My guess is that they ranged b/n 9 and 13 years of age. One of them was crossing the street ahead of me and I wasn't paying too much attention to him when suddenly he turned around and struck me with his elbow. I tried to maintain a balance on my bike with grocery bags hanging on both sides of my bike, when next thing I know I was jumped by around five kids from all directions who started throwing punches and mercilessly kicking me in my head and ribs. For a minute or two in broad daylight, there was this surreal sight of cruelty and terror. I started yelling ‘stop it, Stop it, STOP IT’ raising my voice as I was taking one blow after another in my head…I never had a chance to get back on my feet. As they ran away I could hear a sheer excitement and laughter in their voices. There was a bus (#66) heading north that my bike, grocery bags and body was blocking its way…I had a bloody nose, bloody knees and vicious headache stemming from a blow just above my right ear, which is limiting motion in my jaw…Had it not been for my helmet I would have easily ended up in the emergency room. I just threw my bike on the buses front rack and boarded the bus…the driver and some of the passengers seemed in shock and she was nice enough not to charge me for the fair. I am grateful that none of my injuries are permanent or debilitating, and sad that these kids grow up with so much violence in their lives and actually get joy and pleasure from these acts.
Around 3:40pm I called 311 and asked to file a police report, describing what had just happened to me. The operator took my name and address and said that she will send the next free officer to take my report. And of course the officer never showed up…I've lived in DC for long enough to know that they might not show up and that they have a bigger fish to fry, but I nonetheless wanted to mention this for the record.
I guess I'd like to inform as many bikers as possible to stay away from 11th St. b/n U and Florida, the backyard of Cardozo High, and hope that the community or the DCPD can bring some attention to this problem[…]
Reading his letter describing the run-in, I realized that Nikoloski is only the latest District resident to feel sorry for the person kicking him in the head as he lied curled up in the fetal position in the middle of the street. Every single victim I spoke to for the article expressed at least some level of sympathy for their attackers.