BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Next Sunday, Micah Bucey will be installed as senior minister at Judson Memorial Church. He’ll be easy to spot — he’ll be the guy on crutches and wearing a leg immobilizer.
It will be the first time Bucey has stepped outside of his East Side apartment in two weeks. The last time he did, he was violently blindsided by a man riding an electric bicycle the wrong way down the service road that encircles Stuyvesant Town. The collision left Bucey, 43, with a tibial plateau fracture — a serious and debilitating injury.
He was rushed to the emergency room, and six days later had surgery to repair the damage. The recovery period is two months. Despite being on prescription painkillers, he’s currently in a lot of pain.
Last Sunday, instead of Bucey at the pulpit, Judson had a guest speaker in his place. Bucey was patched in on a video call. Telling the congregants how he was hit by the wrong-way cyclist, he urged them all to “be careful” out there.
The injury has turned his world completely upside down.
“It was quite a shock and I’m glad it wasn’t worse than it was,” the cleric told The Village Sun in a phone interview. “I’m still a bit in shock.”
The incident happened Tues., Oct. 3, around 12:15 p.m. The progressive faith leader had just left the Stuyvesant Town apartment he shares with his husband and was setting out on one of his favorite things to do — make his crosstown walk to Judson Church, on Washington Square South.
Striding toward First Avenue, he had just crossed the complex’s service road, which runs northbound at that spot, when he noticed someone he knew and turned back, wanting to say hello.
“I stepped one foot into the service road,” he said, “and was immediately hit.”
The cyclist came from behind him, to his left. The impact sent the unsuspecting reverend to the ground. Gathering his wits, he saw the cyclist had been riding a Zoomo e-bike, making him initially think he was a deliveryperson.
But the cyclist — who looked to be in his late 20s and did not leave the scene — was apparently not a deliveryman and told him that he leases the bike.
The cyclist urged Bucey not to try to get up and called 911 to get him an ambulance. He also left Bucey his card. Bucey has since spoken to him on the phone.
“I’m glad that he gave me his number,” he said. However, he added, “I don’t know why he would be going the wrong way.”
“I’m just so glad that I didn’t fall and hit my head and get more seriously injured,” he reflected.
As for the cyclist, Bucey said he “kind of got pushed off” his bike but wasn’t hurt.
“Someone on the street said to him, ‘Are you O.K.?’ He said, ‘Yes, I think my bike took the brunt of it.'”
Bucey, who has been at Judson since 2010, was named the historic Greenwich Village Baptist church’s senior minister on June 1.
As a forgiving person, he initially wondered if, in fact, he himself was at fault for the devastating collision.
“I try to be generous and give people the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “I’m far better at blaming myself than to say that someone else is to blame.”
As for how fast the cyclist was going, Bucey said, “I don’t know — but fast enough to break my tibia.”
Zoomo bikes typically weigh around 55 pounds — twice as heavy as pedal-powered bikes —and can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
Bucey was left with a nearly one-quarter-inch fracture down his tibia (the leg bone below the knee), as well as a depression in the part of the tibia where it connects to the knee.
“The surgeon said there was a lot of damage,” he noted.
Fortunately, Bucey had a top surgeon, the head of orthopedics at Mount Sinai Hospital. The man of faith said he has learned that while tibial plateau fractures make up just 1 percent of orthopedic surgeries each year, they are quite common in people hit by cars and bicycles — since it’s where a car bumper or bike tire usually hits pedestrians.
Bucey currently has to wear an immobilizer to keep his leg straight, at least during the initial stage of the recovery. As time goes on, the immobilizer will periodically be adjusted to allow an increasingly greater range of motion for his knee.
“It has completely disrupted my life, my husband’s life,” he said of the injury.
His mother has come to New York City and is currently living with them to help during Bucey’s recovery process.
“I’m hobbled,” the pastor said. “I can’t even put my underwear on by myself. It is very, very painful.”
The injury is also causing another kind of pain — namely, in the preacher’s pocket.
“The expense of this is going to be a hindrance to me,” Bucey said, though adding, “It’s not disastrous to me. The city is full of people for who this would be disastrous.”
As for the cyclist who hit him, Bucey said, “He leases the bike from Zoomo. He has no license to ride it, and he has no insurance.”
In short, the cyclist — though seemingly clearly at fault — will not be helping defray any of Bucey’s medical costs.
“I love the idea of turning New York into a city where life is not dominated by cars — but not with no accountability,” he said. “If we’re going to have these [e-bikes] on the streets, we’ve got to make sure that the motorists on them need to appreciate the gravity that they have heavier, faster vehicles. I think requiring licenses and for there to be some kind of insurance would at least make people think twice about not following traffic laws and about maybe not having an e-bike versus a bicycle.”
Bucey personally doesn’t even comprehend the need for e-bikes in a city like New York in the first place.
“This is a city clogged with people and vehicles,” he said, “and I don’t know why these people would need to go as fast as these e-bikes go.”
As he continues to recover, among the things he misses most is the simple joy of his walk to his job at Judson. But he will be laid up for two months — and his leg really hurts.
“I love walking in the city,” he said. “It’s like a 25-minute walk [to Judson]. It’s kind of the perfect walk. I am really sad that I can’t walk. It’s really painful — and I’m pretty nervous, too. I’m still a bit shaken — just by its happening.”
In the meantime, he’s appreciating all the well wishes he’s been getting from church members and others.
“I’m soaking up all the good energy I can,” he said.
Bucey will be installed as Judson Memorial Church’s senior minister on Sun., Oct. 22, at 3 p.m. Donna Schaper, the church’s previous senior minister, retired from Judson in 2021.