Horrible week for San Diego cyclists

Last week was a horrible week for the City’s cyclists.

Last Wednesday, a cyclist was injured when he collided with an automobile while riding against traffic on Market Street. According to the Union Tribune,

The cyclist suffered multiple open-leg fractures and a broken arm. The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

We hope that the injured cyclist isn’t deterred from riding and that he recovers from his injuries quickly and gets back on his bicycle as soon as he is able to. It is very understandable why many cyclists chose to ride against traffic thinking that being able to be see automobiles is safer than having one’s back against fast moving automobiles. However, when drivers are dealing with a variety of stimuli, the occasional wrong way riding cyclist could further endanger all road users especially on high speed or highly trafficked roads.

One positive effect of sharrows [pdf] is that they indicate that cyclists ought to right in the same direction as traffic. Perhaps Market Street would be a good contender for sharrows.

Last Thursday was even worse.

In Chula Vista, a 77 year old cyclist died from injuries after being struck by a driver pulling out from Rice Elementary School’s parking lot.

People nearby attempted to resuscitate him until paramedics arrived. The man was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly afterward, Wedge said.

The driver, described by police as an elderly woman, was questioned by officers. The crash is under investigation.

What is truly remarkable but not mentioned in the Union Tribune’s writeup is the mere fact that a 77 year old was active and fit enough to be riding. It is truly a shame that his life was extinguished in such a cruel yet preventable manner.

Thursday also saw yet another collision involving a bicyclist, this time in Mira Mesa. The driver who struck the bicyclist must have been speeding well beyond the 45 mph speed limit as some reports stated that the driver lost control of the vehicle. Sadly, the cyclist may not recover completely from his injuries.

Sorrento Valley Boulevard/Calle Cristobal was clearly not designed for all its users despite the presence of a sidewalk and a bike lane. If we need to get to a future where Vision Zero is a reality, best practices in road design require lowering of speed limits [pdf].

Medical research has shown that vehicle speeds over 30 miles per hour are particularly dangerous when pedestrians and other vulnerable users are present (and in fact, 20 miles per hour is exponentially safer). Therefore, designs must be adopted that prevent drivers from posing a danger to themselves and other vulnerable road users.

However, having a bike lane on a road is still better than not having a bike lane as Ted Rogers’ data analysis (incomplete as it may be) demonstrates. But here in San Diego, we still have a long way to go before we can claim that our roads accommodates all its users.