Excuse me if I’m a little livid.
But once again, a cyclist has been killed. And once again, the police — and the local press — have fallen all over themselves to blame the rider.
Let’s start with official version first.
Around 11:50 am Saturday, a pair of cyclists were riding in a designated bike lane on eastbound Friars Road in San Diego, near the off-ramp for the northbound I-15 freeway. The riders attempted to cross the off-ramp; one made it, one didn’t. The victim was described only as a 60-year old white male who lived with his wife in San Diego.
No, he didn’t.
There are very few cyclists anywhere who don’t have a healthy respect for — if not fear of — large trucks. The chance that anyone would actually ride into one is somewhere between slim and none.
Then there’s the comparative speeds. The rider would have likely been travelling at somewhere around 15 – 20 mph, possibly a little more or less, while the truck would have been exiting a major freeway at highway speeds.
So who exactly hit whom? Saying the bike hit the truck is kind of like saying you hit Mike Tyson’s fist with your face.
Meanwhile, according to the San Diego NBC station, a spokesman for the police suggested that the cyclist was clearly at fault.
“It appears at this time, that the bicyclist traveled in front of the truck violating his right-of-way and was struck by the commercial vehicle,” said San Diego Police Lt. Dan Christman.
Maybe it’s me. But one of us seems to misunderstand the most basic concepts of right-of-way law.
I was taught that merging traffic must yield to through traffic. Which means, unless the intersection was clearly marked to the contrary, the cyclists should have had the right-of-way, not the truck.
There is nothing in the law that says that the larger vehicle — or the faster vehicle — has the right-of-way.
Then, in an astounding demonstration of failing to understand the most basic traffic concepts, the officer points out that the bike lane the cyclists were riding in stops just before the off ramp, then begins again in the far right lane on the other side of the junction.
So what, exactly, were the cyclists supposed to do when the bike lane ended? Magically levitate to where it starts up again?
Or maybe they just weren’t supposed to be there in the first place?
As the satellite view clearly shows, cyclists using the bike lane have no choice but to ride across a busy, high-speed off ramp, hoping against hope that exiting drivers will yield to them.
Maybe the police should try riding across that off-ramp themselves.
So rather than the fault lying with the cyclists, it would appear to be a case of exceptionally poor road design, combined with the driver’s failure to yield to oncoming traffic — in this case, a bike. And an investigation by a police department that could use a little more training in the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.
I hope his family has a very good lawyer.
It looks like they’re going to need one.
A couple of the news reports indicate that satellite photos show the bike lane runs along Friars Road as the off-ramp merges with the through lanes. I relied on Google’s satellite photos because I’m over 125 mile from the scene of the collision; there’s no excuse for any San Diego-based station relying on satellite photos instead of taking news van over there to look at the damn road themselves.
A man was killed; isn’t that worth a little actual reporting?