Riverside bike rider killed in sideswipe collision; 1st cycling fatality this month

It couldn’t last.

For the first 26 days of this month, there hadn’t been a single bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California. It looked, for a time, like we might actually finish the year without another rider losing his life

Sadly, that ended today.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, 68-year old Israel Cerda Contreras was riding east in the right lane of Central Avenue east of the 91 Freeway just after noon today.

Witnesses told police that he began weaving as he struggled to ride uphill. As he did, he reportedly drifted into the far left lane on the six lane street, and was clipped from behind by a car traveling in the same direction.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver stopped, and was not suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To make matters worse, Mark Friis reports the collision occurred in the same spot where David Mendez lost his life earlier this year. Mendez was the first bike rider killed this year; with luck, Contreras will be the last.

This is the 82nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Riverside County.

Let’s hope we can finish the year without another one.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Israel Contreras and all his family.


  1. billdsd says:

    Was he in the right lane or the left lane? Your description makes no sense. Your links seem to be just to Google Maps.

    One doesn’t just drift into the left lane of a 6 lane road because you are climbing. One might wobble a bit but they don’t move over a couple of lanes.

    If he was in the left lane, it’s almost certainly because he was preparing to make a left turn. Whether he signaled and made sure it was clear or not before moving over is worthy of question as is questioning whether the motorist was paying attention or texting or otherwise driving distracted.

    • bikinginla says:

      Sorry, I left out the link to the original story in the Press-Enterprise; I’ve fixed that now.

      As for lane position, I can only go by what the witnesses reportedly told the police, even if it doesn’t make any sense. They claimed he was in the right lane when he began weaving, and ended up in the left of the three lanes.

      I agree your interpretation seems more plausible; the other rider who was killed in the exact same spot was reportedly positioning himself for a left turn, so Contreras may have been doing the same.

      It’s also possible that he might have swerved for some reason, or that the witnesses may have not been in a position to see what was really happening and may have misinterpreted what they thought they saw. And unless the police can somehow pinpoint the point of impact, which is often difficult if not impossible in bike collisions, he may not have been in the left lane at all when he was hit.

      As you know, I’ll often argue with the initial conclusion if things don’t add up, but in this case, there’s simply not enough information to contradict what the witnesses said.

  2. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of Mr. Contreras.

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