That didn’t take long.
Just three days into the new year, the first Southern California bicycling fatality rears its tragically ugly head.
Several San Diego sources are reporting that a cyclist was killed while riding on eastbound Clairemont Mesa Blvd near the onramp to southbound I-805 around 5:50 pm Thursday.
No details are currently available on the identity of the victim or how the collision occurred; the bike rider was dead by the time paramedics arrived. The woman driving the Pathfinder remained at the scene; there was no immediate indication that alcohol or other intoxicants played a role in the collision.
However, a satellite view of Clairemont Mesa Blvd suggests the sort of virtual freeway all too typical in San Diego, designed for high speeds and traffic volume at the expense of safety. A bike rider approaching the 805 onramp near the curb would be forced to cross in front of exiting traffic in order to continue on Clairemont Mesa.
That doesn’t mean that’s how the collision occurred, though. We’ll have to wait for more information to tell us what really happened.
This is the first fatal bicycling collision in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego; that compares with 12 cycling fatalities in San Diego County in each of the last two years.
Thanks to BikeSD for the heads-up. My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his or her family and loved ones.
Update: BikeSD reports that the victim, who still has not been publicly identified, was a 53-year old married man of Chinese descent. He was reportedly using lights and wearing a reflective vest, yet a story from San Diego’s CW station suggests that no one is assigning blame to the driver — even though the rider should have been clearly visible to anyone who was paying attention.
In fact, police appear to blame the victim for veering in front of the driver, despite the fact that the design of the roadway forced him to do exactly that.
Yet a city official rejects any suggestion that bad roadway design could have played a role in the collision — even though a cyclist wanting to ride straight on Clairemont Mesa has to cross directly in front of high speed traffic exiting onto the on ramp, as I surmised above.
In the CW link above, San Diego 6 quotes key figures disputing the city’s head-in-the-sand comments:
“The design of the roadway is at fault,” said Kevin Wood of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. “This interchange was never built with my needs as a cyclist in mind. It wasn’t built with the needs of pedestrians in mind. This interchange was built using 1960s design standards that only considered automobile traffic.”
According to an attorney handling a similar case in San Diego,
“This case [on Clairemont Mesa] is about as good as they get when it comes to lawsuits against cities for dangerous conditions,” he said.
It’s long past time for Southern California officials to stop denying the obvious, and accept that bad roadway design is just as much a problem as bad drivers or careless cyclists.
And people will continue to die until they finally accept that cars — and bad roads — can kill, and changes must be made.