La Jolla High student who was hit by a car teams with firefighters to promote traffic safety at library event

Zachary Shafer, 18, has launched a petition drive calling for new speed bumps at the La Jolla intersection where he was struck while riding his bike in October.


“Being aware of what is happening around you may mean the difference between getting hurt and being safe.”

That advice comes from 18-year-old Zachary Shafer, who speaks from frightening experience.

In October, the La Jolla High School student was riding his bike near the intersection of La Canada and Beaumont Avenue in the Upper Hermosa neighborhood when he was hit by a car.

“There were no major bone breaks, so I was minimally injured, but my bike was destroyed,” he said. “I have seen people nearly get hit and actually get hit at that intersection but was surprised when it happened to me.

“I was lucky enough to walk away with a few cuts and scrapes, but I realized I didn’t know enough about traffic safety. Had I been paying attention and been active in my role as a biker, I might not have been hit.”

Shafer is now on a mission to raise safety awareness among pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, and he put together a traffic safety event March 23 at the La Jolla/Riford Library, joined by representatives of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Wearing a helmet is key for bicyclists, Shafer told people who attended. “Your brain is the most important part of you, and wearing a helmet can reduce the chance of an injury by up to 85 percent.”

For those in a car, he advised buckling up and being aware of one’s surroundings.

Firefighter Mike Seibel agreed that helmets are “super important.”

“When we go to put out fires, we wear our big helmets because it keeps our heads safe,” he said.

Fellow firefighter Paul Clausen said it’s important for pedestrians to look both ways before crossing a street.

“Even if you have the green light and the little ‘walk’ sign, you have to make sure everyone is stopping at the red light,” he said.

“If you are playing with a ball and it goes into the street, don’t chase it,” Clausen added.

The event doubled as a signature-gathering effort for Shafer, who started a petition to get speed bumps or humps installed at La Canada and Beaumont, where he was hit, to try to slow drivers in the area.

In November, he spoke about his experience and the concept of adding speed bumps at a Pitch Your Passion event — a library initiative that encourages teenagers to make presentations about topics they are passionate about and propose projects to advance those causes.

“From what I gathered, many people have been supportive, especially parents and those that live in that area,” Shafer said. “No parent wants to see this happen to their child, and this is something we can do to make [that area] safer.”

Shafer said the petition will be posted online soon so more signatures can be collected, and the plan is to present it to appropriate La Jolla and San Diego boards. ◆