The more I think about this, the angrier I get.
Details are still sparse, but multiple sources report that a middle-aged man was killed riding his bike in Piru early Tuesday morning.
The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on westbound Highway 126 east of Main Street in Piru when he was struck by a driver just after 5:45 am.
He died at the scene. The driver remained and cooperated with investigators.
After an on-scene investigation took place, CHP officials determined the bicyclist may have been riding in the traffic lanes and the driver of a Nissan Sentra was unable to avoid colliding with the bicyclist, according to a CHP news release. The driver sustained minor injuries.
Never mind that bicyclists have as much right to be in the roadway as motorists do. Or that the traffic lane is exactly where they’re supposed to ride.
According to California law, while bike riders are allowed to ride on the shoulder, they’re neither required or expected to. And nothing to the right of the fog line is legally considered part of the roadway.
In addition, CVC 21202(a)(4) clearly states if the traffic lane is too narrow safely share — which includes most right hand lanes in Southern California — the rider may use the full lane.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
Then there’s statement from the CHP that the driver was unable to avoid the collision.
So let’s be clear.
Unless the victim was riding without lights or reflectors in the early morning darkness, the driver should have been able to see him. But if he wasn’t, the CHP would undoubtedly have mentioned that.
And if the driver had his headlights on, which would be legally required at that hour, he would have been able to see him anyway — unless he was driving too fast for his headlights, which is a violation of California’s Basic Speed Law.
“No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
The key word there in this case is visibility, which includes darkness.
So unless the victim was riding against traffic — which again, the CHP would have mentioned — the question remains why the driver couldn’t see a grown man on a bicycle directly in front of his or her car?
And why is the CHP once again blaming a victim for his own death?
Because we all deserve to know.
Anyone with information is urged to call the CHP at 805/553-0800.
This is at least the 52nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth that I’m aware of in Ventura County.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.