Safety tips for bicyclists and motorists together on La Jolla streets

BY SHELLI DEROBERTIS

The death of two bicyclists in San Diego County last week have focused police and community concern on the dangers of motorists and cyclists sharing the same busy roads.

The worries are heightened in La Jolla, where there are no designated bike lanes, narrow, hilly streets, and lots of tourists and students renting bikes to traverse the town.

Tragically, a hit-and-run accident on July 7 caused the death of 18-year-old Angel Bojorquez of Escondido, who was bicycling home from his job at Albertsons in Del Mar. His body was found in the bushes, thrown from his damaged bike, alongside a windy portion of Via De La Valle, south of Paseo Delicias about 2 a.m., according to the county medical examiner’s office.

The California Highway Patrol later arrested Jin Hyuk Byun, 19, in connection with the hit-and-run after a neighbor saw damage on his vehicle that matched a description.

Theodore Jones, 56, of San Diego, died on July 8 after striking a vehicle while riding his bike on Solola Avenue on July 3.

“It’s a growing concern. We need stronger laws against distracted driving,” said Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition (SDCBC).

Hanshaw said the coalition is working to make San Diego a more bike-friendly city by promoting the installation of more bike racks in business districts, and advocating on the state level for a law that requires drivers to give cyclists at least three-feet of space when passing them from behind.

“We think we live in a great place to ride. We have a growing network of bikes and trails. More and more people want to ride,” Hanshaw said.

But learning the safety aspects for biking in a metropolis is essential first.

Kevin Wood, chair of the SDCBC board of directors, teaches a seven-hour riding safety class that includes how to get comfortable bicycling in traffic.

New cyclists are taught to follow the rules of the road, which include using the rightmost lane in the direction they are traveling.

Bicyclists are also taught to scan traffic and signal when changing lanes.

Wood said statistics show only 18-percent of cycling accidents involve a bike and a car, and of those, the majority happen at intersections.

The most common accidents occur when drivers make a right turn in front of a cyclist, which is referred to as a “right hook.”

“Drivers should be aware and always expect to see cyclists,” Wood said, adding half of cycling injuries occur from riders falling off their bikes.

If there’s an object in the road — or uneven pavement or potholes — a deadly collision can happen if a passing motorist doesn’t give the cyclist enough space to avoid the hazard, which is why SDCBC is campaigning for the three-feet passing law.

Hanshaw said Oceanside is the only city in the county classified as a “bike-friendly community.”

In May, the first street parking space designed for bikes (a 12-space bike corral) was dedicated on Fifth Avenue, north of University Avenue. Hanshaw said more corrals are planned.

“We think that La Jolla and its beach areas are perfect for bike corrals,” Wood said. “Although La Jolla doesn’t have a lot of bike lanes, the lowered speed limit on La Jolla Boulevard in Bird Rock has made it better for cyclists.”

A former member of the UCSD bicycling team, Wood said he knows La Jolla well. “To get from campus to the Village can be just as fast on a bike (as in a vehicle),” he said.

San Diego County Bike Coalition

• sdcbc.org

• (858) 487-6063

10 Ways Not to Get Hit

• bicyclesafe.com

Advice for Bicyclists

• Avoid busy streets.

• Light up your bike for dusk/night riding.

• Take the whole lane when appropriate.

• Signal your turns.

• Re-think music players and mobile phones.

• Don't ride too close to parked cars. Doors can open suddenly.

• Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic (red) lights just as cars do.

• Ride single-file on the street with friends.

• When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass to their left side, and call out ‘On your left!’ so they know you’re coming.

• Children under age 10 are better off riding on the sidewalk.

• Watch for and avoid road hazards. Potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs can cause a crash.

Advice for Motorists

• Stay three feet away for bicyclists on the road

• Be aware that you share the road with motorcyclists and bicyclists at all times.

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