A retired Arizona judge was killed recently while riding his bicycle on a California road near Lake Tahoe. It appears that the driver of the SUV that hit him failed to give the victim enough room as he drove past.
As the cyclist rode, a Jeep Grand Cherokee came up from behind him, going an estimated 45 to 50 miles per hour. The California Highway Patrol said that the SUV drifted to the right as it passed the victim and struck him. The victim lost control of his bicycle and was thrown to the ground.
He hit his head and, despite wearing a helmet, suffered a severe head injury. He was unconscious when EMTs arrived. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was on life support until June 15, when he was taken off the machines and passed away. He was 70.
An article in the Yuma Sun about this terrible incident does not mention if the SUV driver was facing criminal charges, or why his vehicle hit the bike. Without knowing what happened in this particular case, inattention, distractions like a cell phone, radio or other objects in the vehicle, or failing to appreciate roadway conditions can cause a driver to drift out of his or her lane.
For bicyclists, there is a narrow margin of safety. As this case shows, when a car leaves its lane heading for the shoulder disastrous consequences can result. Bike riders are regularly injured by drivers who do not acknowledge cyclists right to the road.
Bicycle safety is everyone’s business. As more and more cyclists take to the road for health, fitness, recreation, business, alternative transportation, all drivers need to increase their level of attention on the roadways.