A bike rider has died due to an ambiguous state law.
According to The Desert Sun, a bike rider was killed in a crash with a truck parked in a La Quinta bike lane this morning.
The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north in the bike lane on Avenida Bermudas around 8 am when he rear-ended the truck.
He was taken to a hospital in Indio, where he was pronounced dead.
The Desert Sun places the location as the 54-000 block of Avenida Bermudas, while other sources place it a half mile south near Calle Chillon. The latter location seems more likely, since the paper says a road diet narrowed the roadway to two lanes and a single northbound bike lane in the area of the crash last December; the northern location still shows two lanes in each direction, along with a parking lane in both directions.
According to the paper, the driver has not been ticketed or charged.
The gardening truck was parked in the bike lane, but no one was cited, according to the sheriff’s department. The crash is still under investigation.
California law states vehicles may park in a bike lane if there aren’t any “no parking” signs present and it isn’t impacting the normal movement of a bicyclist, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
It’s hard to argue that the truck wasn’t blocking the lane if the victim couldn’t safely get around it.
This is yet another well intentioned law that actually makes things worse for people on bicycles.
The apparent purpose behind CVC 21211(b) is to keep cities from having to choose between parking and bike lanes. Yet in effect, it confuses drivers who don’t know whether or not they can park there, since it’s hard to park any vehicle in a bike lane without blocking it.
And as this tragedy shows, the consequences can be deadly for people on bicycles.
This is the 27th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County.
Update: The victim has been identified as 81-year old Indio resident Larry Lee Ortner. The Riverside County News Source places the scene of the crash at the southern location, around the bend of the road above Calle Chillon. Thanks to Victor B for the heads-up.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Larry Lee Ortner and his loved ones.