Bike rider killed in Chula Vista; 65th SoCal cycling fatality this year

Sometimes, all it takes is a single mistake.

That seems to be what happened in Chula Vista, as a bike rider was killed in a collision Friday afternoon.

According to the Union-Tribune and other sources, the cyclist, who was identified only as a 60-year old man, was riding south on the 800 block of Hilltop Drive, near Telegraph Canyon Road, around 3:10 pm. According to witnesses, he was on the far right edge of the road when he suddenly made a sharp left turn directly in front of a pickup traveling in the same direction.

He was declared dead at the scene, after the driver was unable to avoid hitting him. No word on why the victim may have turned without warning, or apparently looking for traffic before turning.

This is the 65th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in San Diego County. It’s also the 2nd cycling death in Chula Vista this year, and the 5th since 2012.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

7 comments

  1. billdsd says:

    Sounds like a single witness suicide swerve.

    • bikinginla says:

      Normally, I would agree. However, all the news reports refer to witnesses, rather than a single witness.

      Of course, it’s always possible that all the witnesses were inside the pickup.

      • Serge Issakov says:

        Sad.

        Has to be a pretty serious and sudden swerve for the passing motorist to not be complicit for passing too closely.

        That said, the inability to look back at all, much less look back without veering, is surprisingly common among bicyclists I see.

        • Yes, I’m one of those people with limited range of motion in my neck, and normally I ride with mirrors on both sides of my helmet except those days I don’t wear a helmet because I can’t tilt my head far enough back to see past the visor on the helmet that holds the mirrors. Having a bad neck kinda snuck up on me because of all those years riding recumbents where I didn’t have to tilt my head back at all. Now that I’m riding a cargo bike with “normal” MTB posture I’m in all kinds of trouble.

          But yeah, this particular wreck stinks on toast.

  2. Other possibility is he fell instead of swerving, anyone check out the road surface at the scene?

  3. JD says:

    We offer up our prayers for the family and friends of the victim.

  4. James says:

    On a regular basis I read about collisions that are said to involve a cyclist swerving left and everyone seems to think it is a mystery why. Reporters and most motorists seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of left hand turns or moving into the center lane before turning left. He may very well have been aware of the vehicle but may have severely misjudged its speed and distance. People are not very good at judging the speed and distance of vehicles travelling at common US road speeds above 40mph and of course fatalities are pretty much guaranteed at those speeds. It is much harder t0 tell the difference between 35 and 45 mph than 15 and 20. It may also be more difficult to judge a vehicles distance at higher speeds. At the high speeds accepted on urban highways and residential roads/highspeed arterials in the US drivers tend to have a narrow field of attention that may not include a bike lane, shoulder or sidewalk. You should also consider the possibility that the speeds we accept as normal and safe in an urban environment are beyond most motorists ability to react or a car’s braking distances. These are some of the reasons northern European traffic engineers and urban planners try not mix bicycles and pedestrians with traffic above 40kph.

    On my residential street in Fountain Valley cars routinely travel around 40mph and people seem to not expect others cars to slow down, stop, turn and certainly not yield to pedestrians. Simply slowing down to turn right onto your drive you will be met with the sound of squealing tires, a car’s horn, quickly followed by the car overtaking while noisily accelerating. If drivers in post-war autopia seem to not see or expect the obvious is it not possible that the driver did not see the cyclist signal to turn left and at the same time might the cyclist have thought the car was farther away, travelling at a lower speed and driven by someone who sees you. One thing I’ve learned after I had the misfortune of moving from Portland to OC is that motorists don’t see or pay attention to hand signals and if they do recognize a left hand signal they interpret it to mean “I want to turn left so go ahead, floor it and race ahead of me before I have the chance to leave the bike lane.” One of my professors at the University of Munich used the term “criminal negligence” to describe the design of US roads that put cars travelling at 40 to 60mph in contact with pedestrians and cyclists. Post-war streets in San Diego and surrounding cities are all examples of this. Any road, not matter how urban or residential in use was designed to function as a highway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: