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Elite endurance track cyclist Andrew Bernstein on the track at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. Bernstein was critically injured on July 20, 2019, when he was struck by a car while he was riding his bike just outside Boulder. (Trevor Raab, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Gloria Liu was waiting for her fiancé to ride home from another one of his intense workouts on  Saturday when she received a call from a phone number she didn’t recognize.

Andrew Bernstein on his sailboat. Bernstein was critically injured on July 20, 2019, when he was struck by a car while he was riding his bike just outside Boulder. (Provided by Gloria Liu)

The voice on the other end of the phone was a police officer who wanted to know if she was familiar with 34-year-old Andrew Bernstein. In that instant, she knew.

“When your partner is a serious cyclist, it’s always kind of in the back of your head,” she said. “Are they going to come home safe?”

Bernstein was seriously injured in a hit-and-run crash Saturday afternoon on Arapahoe Road near North 75th Street in Boulder County. The Colorado State Patrol is investigating, but they only have a piece of the vehicle that hit him and aren’t even sure of the car’s color.

Troopers think they are looking for a Dodge utility van from around 2000 that’s white or light gray in color. It most likely has damage to its front passenger side.

The approximate area where Andrew Bernstein was struck by a vehicle on Saturday in Boulder County.

“Don’t really have any good information,” said Trooper Gary Cutler, a spokesman for the State Patrol.

Bernstein is the latest in a long string of bicyclist vs. vehicle crashes in Colorado that come amid a perceived uptick in conflicts between the two. It makes sense: There are more cyclists hitting the roads and more cars driving along with them. 

Bicycle fatalities statewide spiked last year at 22, the highest number since at least 2002, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. They’ve been steadily increasing over that period, with a low point of three cycling deaths in 2003.

So far this year, there have been six bicycling fatalities reported by the state. That number doesn’t include the cyclist killed in Denver on Wednesday afternoon at South Marion Parkway and East Bayaud Avenue. A driver was cited with careless driving resulting in death.  

Data from the Colorado State Patrol on Boulder County-wide bicycle crashes was not immediately available on Thursday. 

But the city of Boulder’s crime statistics show that bike and pedestrian crashes were actually pretty flat, about 250 annually between 2014 and 2018. A draft study compiled by the city shows that while bicyclists were involved in only 6% of the city’s crashes between 2015 and 2017, they accounted for nearly 40% of all severe crashes during that period. 

A man bikes past a mural at the corner of West Irving Street and Kentucky Avenue in the Westwood neighborhood of Denver, on January 15, 2019. (Jeremy Sparig, Special to The Colorado Sun).

Bernstein is an elite endurance track cyclist who was training at the Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie before he was struck. He used to work for Bicycling magazine and now represents outdoor brands for True Communications, a public relations firm that specializes in outdoor and cycling brands. He and Liu moved to Boulder last fall.

Initially, Bernstein was taken to a Boulder hospital before being flown by helicopter to Denver Health for further treatment. The admitting physician at Denver Health told Liu that Bernstein’s injuries were life-threatening and that he likely would have died if he had not been found by another motorist.

Bernstein is sedated and intubated, breathing with the aid of a ventilator, Liu said.  

“He looks like he can recognize us and he’ll respond to commands, like ‘Can you wiggle your toes? Can you give us a thumbs up?’” she said. 

Liu calls the situation “a nightmare.” She’s not sure how someone found him on the side of the road, but suspects he raised a hand or made some kind of motion that let a passerby know he was in need of help. 

Cyclist Andrew Bernstein at a race in 2013. When he worked for Bicycling, he organized the magazine’s Fall Classic gran fondo. He was critically injured July 20, 2019, when he was struck by a car outside Boulder. The driver fled the scene without reporting the crash. (Provided by Gloria Liu)

As they wait and hope for his recovery, Bernstein’s loved ones have been trying to do some investigating of their own, anxious about the idea that whoever left him maimed could get away with it. 

They’ve been walking the area. They’ve asked nearby businesses to preserve surveillance video. They’ve even tried to track down the GPS he had on him, which is in the possession of investigators, hoping to collect data from a sports-app to find out what other cyclists or runners might have been in the area when he was hit.

It’s a way they can help Bernstein even while being helpless to his medical situation.

“I think it’s something that any family would do,” Liu said. “We know time is of the essence right now and the longer we wait the more chance this person has to fix the car. People’s memories will change. Videos will get recorded over.”

Read more outdoors stories from The Colorado Sun.

Bernstein’s family is hoping to remove some of the chance elements of the hunt for the driver, asking anyone who was driving — or biking — on Arapahoe Road near Legion Park east of Boulder around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday to share what they saw with CSP investigators at 303-289-4760.

“What hurts so deeply is knowing that someone did it and then left him there — not that it happened, but the fact that the person fled the scene,” Bernstein’s brother, Eric, said.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....