Cyclists call for more protection and safety education after fatal crash in La Jolla
Days after a cyclist was hit and killed by a car on June 23 in La Jolla, avid cyclists spoke about the need for better safety measures and cycling education across the region.
The crash happened at around 4:20 p.m. in the southbound lanes of North Torrey Pines Road as it approached La Jolla Village Drive, according to San Diego police.
34-year-old woman was riding her bike in the right lane when she joined the left lane and was struck from behind by a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500 driven by 74-year-old San Diego Police Officer John Buttle mentioned. The woman died instantly.
His identity and further details of the crash were not immediately available.
San Diego City Councilor Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said “death is a tragedy. We are awaiting the details of the accident. Until then, my thoughts are focused on his family and friends.
La Jollan Dan Goese said he was driving in the area that afternoon, heading for the Expedition Way. “When I reached North Torrey Pines Road to take a right… I noticed that all the police were blocking the road and examining the roadway to my left. This was all happening immediately north of the intersection of Expedition Way / Revelle College Drive and North Torrey Pines Road.
Kurt Hoffman, an experienced cyclist who rides La Jolla and elsewhere, said North Torrey Pines Road, near UC San Diego, where the crash happened, “is in terrible shape.”
Although he “generally supports public universities,” Hoffman said he was concerned about the impact of UCSD’s many construction projects on traffic and nearby infrastructure.
“They could make a protected cycle path in front of the whole university,” he said. “This whole area could use better bike protections.”
In November, Hoffman asked the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board to consider protected bike lanes and sidewalks on Torrey Pines Road between “The Throat” – the intersection of Torrey Pines, Hidden Valley Road and La Jolla Parkway – and La Jolla Village Drive.
Cars often weave their way through the currently unprotected bike path on Torrey Pines Road, Hoffman said at the time. “The sidewalk stops a third of the way down, and it’s basically a dirt road. Cyclists are at the mercy of speeding.
T&T president Dave Abrams asked Hoffman and others to speak with a subcommittee of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which LJCPA president Diane Kane said was studying access pedestrians and cars entering and exiting the village, including via Torrey Pines Road.
On June 24, Kane told the La Jolla Light that the subcommittee, called the Village Visioning Committee, “worked diligently on the streetscapes in the village and on the entrances to La Jolla,” such as Pearl and Nautilus streets.
She said she hadn’t seen anything for Torrey Pines Road yet. “So far, cyclists have not participated in the committee’s conversation on traffic calming and improving the streetscape, but will be welcome once the initial concepts are merged into a cohesive whole. “said Kane.
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During the November T&T meeting, the board heard updated plans for the City of San Diego Coastal Rail Trail project, designed to create a Class IV bike path separated from motor traffic by elevated medians along Gilman Drive between La Jolla Village Drive and I-5.
La Jollan and avid cyclist Serge Issakov, a board member of the San Diego Bicycle Club, the San Diego Bicycle Coalition and the California Association of Bicycling Organizations, said at the time that he was “very concerned” by the project.
He said the Class IV track, a change from the current paint-delineated Class II track, would endanger the safety of experienced riders who typically reach higher downhill speeds on Gilman Drive.
Hoffman said on June 25 that Project Gilman “isn’t really going to increase security. In fact, it’s going to be more dangerous because serious cyclists… are going to ride in the traffic lane, avoiding that restricted safety lane, and it just doesn’t make sense.
At the T&T January meeting, the Coastal Rail Trail project was approved with the addition of sharrows – painted markings indicating that a road should be shared by motor vehicles and bicycles – on the south side of Gilman.
LJCPA approved the project in February after spines were added on the south and north sides of Gilman.
The project was scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2022, but a June 25 update from city spokesman Anthony Santacroce said construction was postponed to early 2023 “due to a real estate acquisition “.
The project schedule is at sandiego.gov/cip/projectinfo/featuredprojects/railtrail.
Santacroce said the project’s environmental document is available for public review, and “it is estimated that its final approval will come shortly after the review process is completed.”
Although Hoffman called the Gilman project “poorly designed,” Torrey Pines Road “is really much more of a problem,” he said.
Santacroce said there was a Class II cycle path along North Torrey Pines Road near the June 23 crash, with no immediate proposal to change that.
However, the Update of the university’s community plan is underway and is considering new mobility networks, including cycle lane classifications, ”he said.
Karl Rudnick, who teaches monthly smart cycling lessons for the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, said he couldn’t weigh in on the fatal crash but said “bicycle education, both for cyclists and for motorists who need to understand the best safety practices for cyclists, is so important, far more than spending a lot of money on specialized infrastructure.
“Some of these practices are not intuitive to the majority of people who believe that safety is best achieved by completely separating bicycle and motor vehicle traffic,” said Rudnick.
Santacroce said that “bicycle and pedestrian safety is one of the highest priorities for the City of San Diego and the most important part of the continued expansion and improvement of mobility options throughout the city. “.
– Ashley Mackin-Solomon, editor of La Jolla Light, and Alex Riggins, editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune, contributed to this report. ◆