San Diego salmon cyclist killed after falling into traffic lane

A 47-year old San Diego cyclist was killed about 10:40 pm Sunday night after falling in front of an oncoming pickup.

According to San Diego’s KFMB 760, Jaime Ruiz was riding against traffic on the 1200 block of Hollister Blvd when he hit a parked car and fell into the traffic lane, where he was struck by a Toyota Tacoma driven by an unidentified off-duty Border Patrol agent. The driver was not cited; Ruiz was reportedly riding without lights or helmet.

While I often rail against press reports that insist on noting the lack or presence of a helmet in fatal collisions, this is a case where it might actually be worth mentioning — though not without more details.

Depending on the speed of the truck and how the actual impact occurred, this could be exactly the sort of slow-speed impact bike helmets are intended to protect against. Or it could be that the impact occurred at a higher speed or to other parts of the body, making the lack of a helmet irrelevant. Without more information, we’ll never know.

This is also a case in which the rider is clearly at fault.

While riding against traffic may seem logical in order to provide a better view of oncoming traffic, drivers don’t expect to see cyclists riding towards them in the same lane. It also shortens the reaction time required to avoid a collision, as well as increasing the severity of a collision by increasing the speed differential.

This is often a problem among immigrant cyclists, who are sometimes taught to ride facing traffic, rather than with it. While it may seem to make some sense on rural roads where motor vehicle traffic can be rare, it is extremely dangerous on busier streets.

It’s tempting to suspect that Ruiz could have been intoxicated — after all, most riders manage to avoid large stationary objects. However, it’s also possible that, without a light, he may not have seen the parked car until it was too late to avoid it if the street was dark enough, or could have been forced into it by a driver passing too close.

This is the 9th traffic-related cycling fatality in San Diego this year, and the 32nd in the larger Southern California area. Of those, the rider has been at primary fault in 12 of the collisions, the driver at fault in 18; the other two were undetermined.

5 comments

  1. Chris Erion says:

    I’m an active bicyclist and I would be sad about what happened to that guy, BUT – one of the golden rules for bike riding is to always ride in the same direction as the traffic(he rode against the traffic and he was riding late at night without even using a light system(bicyclists should ALWAYS use a light system when riding at night). Not only that, but he wasn’t even wearing a helmet! Safety is always a very important factor when doing bike riding.

    • Ivette says:

      It saddens me to hear comments like these especially because the rider (the victim) happens to be my brother. There are many facts that weren’t noted in this story which make it inaccurate. If you had all the facts it would give you a clearer picture as to what really happened and it should change your perspective. First of all my brother Jaime was riding on the so-called wrong side of the road because the right side of the road was blocked due to construction that has been taking place for several months. There are big tractors and yellow tape blocking the sidewalk to pedestrians and cyclists. Secondly, Jaime was wearing a light reflector at the time of the accident. The detective that notified us of the horrible accident also delivered a bag with my brother’s personal belongings which included a bike light reflector. My brother indeed was not wearing a helmet however there is no law in the state of California that requires adults to wear a helmet and he was riding just two blocks from home and in a 35 m.p.h. area. If the driver was indeed riding within city limits and paying attention to the road ahead of him my belief is that my brother would still be here with us. What outrages me the most is that the driver has not made the slighest attempt at contacting the victim’s family and has not offered any sort of help whatsoever. My family has been dealing with alot of pain over the loss of someone very special to us and to most people that knew him. Jaime was a humble, noble, kind, generous and the most loving human being I’ve known. My brother and our family deserved a lot more respect than this. Please put yourself in our shoes and think of the devestation our family has had to endure.

      • Aaron says:

        You shouldn’t be riding on the sidewalk, let alone the wrong side of the road. Also reflectors are not enough by themselves you MUST use a powered LIGHT at night.

        • bikinginla says:

          Aaron, I’ve edited out your last comment. Everything you said prior to that was valid commentary, but you went a little too far at the end. I’m sure you didn’t mean to cause offense.

          I’m not sure about San Diego; however, it is perfectly legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in many cities, including Los Angeles.

  2. PlebisPower says:

    Riding to/from the Streetsblog ride in northeast the other night, I witnessed a catalog of imprudent nighttime rider behavior: dark clothing; no lights/reflectors; zigging and zagging; riding against traffic; running reds; sidewalking riding; and riding too closely to the curb. What I didn’t see much of was educated, disciplined, sensible riding. Makes me think that rider education is job one even as we clamp down on negligent or reckless motorists.

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