Sadly, it couldn’t last.
After suffering just three bicycling fatalities in the first six weeks of the year, four Southern California bike riders have lost their lives in just the last week.
The latest, an 89-year old man who reportedly rode out into traffic on a busy San Diego street.
According to the Union-Tribune, the victim, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was leaving a parking lot on Imperial Avenue near Marketplace Avenue around 10 am Tuesday. The paper reports he rode straight out into the roadway, heading north, despite a right turn only sign.
He made it nearly all the way across the four lane avenue before he was struck by a pickup traveling west in the right lane.
No word on how fast the driver was going, or why he wasn’t able to stop in time. Despite the apparent victim blaming in the U-T report, and another from KUSI-TV suggesting he rode “directly” in front of the oncoming truck, he should have been visible to the driver after crossing three lanes of traffic.
The victim was taken to a hospital with a broken pelvis and major head injuries; he died there later the same day.
This is the seventh bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Diego County.
Note:I am not attempting to blame the driver in this collision. As billsd and Jennifer point out in the comments below, the victim appears to have broken the law in some way and may well bear at least some responsibility.
What I am questioning is how the collision could have occurred as it has been reported. A cyclist who manages to make it almost all the way across a four lane roadway cannot be described as riding out into traffic, let alone directly; it had to be clear at least part of the way for him to make it that far. So the question becomes why the driver was unable to see and avoid someone who presumably was riding slowly across the street, and why the victim thought he could make it across.
Maybe the driver’s view was obstructed by another vehicle; maybe the victim couldn’t see the car coming or misjudged its speed. We simply don’t know based on the limited information available.
Another possibility is that the police gave the wrong direction for which way the victim was traveling. If he was headed south out of the cemetery on the north side of the road, rather than north out of the shopping center parking lot to the south — where there is no exit, as billsd points out — then he might have ridden out in front of an oncoming car, and the driver may have been unable to stop in time.
All I know is that this story does not make sense as it has been reported.
And as Jennifer points out, I may have been overly critical of the press, as they appear to have relied on the information provided by the police.As a result, I have changed the headline which initially criticized the news sources for blaming the victim.
Update: A comment from Bill Jordan may clear up the confusion. He suggests the collision could have occurred further west at the parking lot drive identified as Edgefield Way, which does have a no right turn sign, and roughly correspond’s with the KUSI report, which placed the collision on the 4300 block of Imperial Ave.
He also says the site is just west of a hill, as well as trees in the median, both of which could have hidden the victim and the driver from one another until it was too late.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.