Cyclist remains in critical condition after being hit

Dr. Matthew Burke (center), pictured with his wife, Bonnie, and father Dr. John Burke, was struck by a sport utility vehicle while bicycling Oct. 1 in Aiken County.

An Army major remains in critical condition after he was hit by an SUV on Oct. 1 while bicycling on a rural South Carolina road.

Dr. Matthew Burke, an orthopedic surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, has shown little signs of improvement since the wreck on Beech Island Avenue in Aiken County, his brother said Thursday.

"My brother has been fighting for his life every day since he was struck," Paul Burke said.

A spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol said Thursday that the investigation into the wreck would take at least 30 days and that there are no charges against the Dodge Durango's driver, Daniel Johnson.

Burke was riding with a group of bicyclists who set out for a weekly ride from Outspokin' Bicycles in Augusta.

Johnson told investigators he was reaching for something and didn't see the bicyclists until he hit five of them, according to Highway Patrol.

Bicycling advocates said the wreck highlights the need for better understanding between motorists and bicyclists.

A meeting last weekend in Savannah, Ga., brought together elected officials and city leaders from around the state to discuss ways to improve safety.

"The summit was a major success," said Brent Buice, the executive director of Georgia Bikes.

Buice said that in the coming year his organization plans a random survey to gauge public sentiment in Georgia about bicyclists and motorists. That information will be used for a statewide media campaign to improve relationships and address misunderstanding.

Some of that public sentiment was evident in e-mails to The Augusta Chronicle .

Richard Gilbert, of Aiken, took issue with a photo that accompanied the latest article on Burke, which showed a pack of cyclists crossing two abreast on the 13th Street bridge. Laws in Georgia and South Carolina allow that formation.

Gilbert said the bicyclists have an "attitude" because they are "spreading out on the lane and IGNORING the protected bike lane to their right."

"Bad attitudes lead to bad things happening," Gilbert said.

Megan Scott has commuted by bicycle for 32 years and said she has been "cussed at, spit on, buzzed, and harassed" by motorists. But, she added, "I have also been smiled at and shown daily courtesy."