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Cyclist killed by truck, Bay St. Santa Cruz

by Christine
8-7-07 A cyclist was run over and killed by a semi-truck turning right onto Bay towards campus from the westward lane of Mission Street.

I was able to take these photos as I encountered this scene on my way to the UC Santa Cruz campus via bicycle, along the Bay Street bicycle lane. Bay street was blocked off and traffic was backed up on Mission. The body had already been removed, but the pool of blood is visible here. One can judge the configuration of the vehicles in the intersection here. The police were marking the scene and taking photos of the front of the Randazzo Co. semi-truck where the cyclist was impacted.
A little bit of analysis of the crash scene, and commentary:

The angle of the bicycle aiming towards Bay street could suggest that the cyclist had been proceeding in the bicycle lane (as I had been) towards campus, which is a very common destination because the campus doesn't have much parking. Bay street is one lane in this section, and the truck could have been making a free right turn, or jumping the gun as the light turned yellow.

Another very realistic consideration is that the cyclist could have been heading along Mission St. towards the service that the campus runs with a free bike shuttle to the top of the hill, which is typically a 30 minute ride. Perhaps the bicycle was dragged the 20 ft onto Bay St. This service runs from Long's drugs half a block from this intersection, and a dozen bicycles can load into the trailer behind a van, and then cruise down the hill at the end of the day. This is a popular option for students who live in the cheaper areas near downtown which is already several miles from campus. Houses adjacent to campus are largely expensive single-family homes and the city rarely zones for apartments. So let's say that the cyclist was going along Mission with the green light. They could have either been legally riding in the street sharing the lane with autos, or illegally riding on the sidewalk, as many cyclists have to do to preserve their safety. If you think this through, it's a catch-22 situation. The cyclist on the sidewalk would have no legal standing if they were hit by cars exiting a driveway or turning at an intersection, unless they dismounted at each intersection. (This is in fact my own strategy for reaching businesses on Mission St. I memorize side streets that will be closest to the destination then take the sidewalk for the last block.).

Last week there was a nearly identical collission with a truck hitting a cyclist by Bay and Mission, although it is difficult to learn whether it was on the other side of the intersection. Subsequently, there have recently been letters to the editor of the local paper blaming cyclists for either insisting on their rights as a vehicle or somehow being ignorant of traffic regulations pertaining to bikes, pointing out that rights don't matter when you are facing a 10 ton truck. As seen here, this is a very apt point, but it doesn't solve the problem. The letter writer would be suggesting that the cyclist should get out of the road and onto the sidewalk where they have no legal rights. Some brave cyclists actually will behave as vehicles, will merge into the traffic lane, including taking the left lane of the two lane street when they need to make a left turn. There are a lot of fender bender rear end accidents on Mission due to the very complex driving environment, with people changing lanes to get around stalled left-blinking autos, and the bicycle will surely lose during such an incident.

Acting like cyclists just need to be educated is not going to solve the problem. There isn't a good solution for bicycle access to businesses on the busy streets when riding legally is bound to place the cyclist in danger.

I will point out that the city has a great and successful bicycle/transportation committee on city council which has installed a very nice side of bicycle boulevards and bike lanes on the side streets. For long-distance travel across town, this network works very nicely, and keeps cyclists away from dangerous intersections and narrow lane interactions. The main problem in Santa Cruz are narrow roads in the hills, and very unsafe roads with business facilities that everyone needs to use. I might personally suggest making a change for Mission St. like I've seen in Walnut Creek, where sidewalks were explicitly made bicycle legal, with signs ensuring that bikes must yield to pedestrians, and cars must looks for bikes when turning.
§Police take measurements
by Christine
§Bay intersection by restaurant
by Christine
§wider angle of scene
by Christine
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Thu, Jan 3, 2008 9:00AM
King5 repost
Thu, Sep 20, 2007 6:05PM
Mon, Aug 13, 2007 8:17PM
Story Time
Mon, Aug 13, 2007 12:10AM
Sat, Aug 11, 2007 7:52AM
Pissed off
Fri, Aug 10, 2007 8:14PM
Fri, Aug 10, 2007 11:10AM
Fri, Aug 10, 2007 12:32AM
San Jose Cyclist
Thu, Aug 9, 2007 1:40PM
ya basta!
Thu, Aug 9, 2007 11:41AM
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