San Diego

After Cyclist, Scooter Rider Deaths on Pershing Drive, San Diego Adds Separators

A scooter rider was struck and killed by a teen driver over the weekend. In July, a beloved cyclist was struck and killed by a car

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In a move to separate cyclists and scooter riders from cars on Pershing Drive, Mayor Todd Gloria directed city staff on Thursday to install bollards to create bikeways in both directions.

The action was intended as a temporary measure until the San Diego Association of Governments begins construction on permanent protected bikeways on Pershing Drive, where two San Diegans recently lost their lives after being struck by cars.

"I brought to this office a firm commitment to creating safe and easily accessible ways for San Diegans to get from Point A to Point B without a car," Gloria said. "That's why my city budget this year included $1.1 million to create the Safe and Sustainable Transportation for All Ages and Abilities Team, a new 12-member unit dedicated to planning and building bikeways across the city."

San Diego resident Greyson Crawford is for changes on Pershing, but she also believes it's not a one size fits all fix.

"I think the one on Pershing is a really good idea because there have been some fatal accidents, plus I see a lot more bike traffic on Pershing than I do up near 30th – near 30th I think there’s pros and cons to it since it took away a lot of parking," said Crawford.

"Well I think If you open up the bike lanes it’s gonna help immensely," San Diego resident Ariel Linares told NBC 7. "People get in accidents whether they’re driving or walking or cycling all the time unfortunately but this most certainly helps."

Linares says it’s about time, and these temporary safety changes are a step in the right direction as deadly accidents, where people were killed by drivers, have occurred.

On Saturday, 34-year-old Johnathan Sepulveda was killed when a car struck him as he was taking a nighttime ride on an electric scooter in Balboa Park.

The northbound sedan, driven by a teenage girl, hit Sepulveda from behind in the 2800 block of Pershing shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday, according to police and the county Medical Examiner's Office.

Sepulveda, whose sister and brother-in-law were riding scooters in front of him at the time of the crash, died at the scene.

Cycling safety advocates say the city isn't doing enough to protect bike riders on the road. NBC 7's Alexis Rivas looked into cyclist-vehicle accidents.

On July 20, a man who was allegedly driving under the influence of methamphetamine fatally struck 57-year-old Laura Shinn, an architect and director of facilities planning at San Diego State University.

Police said that at about 7:30 a.m., Shinn was struck from behind while riding on Pershing. She was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, where she was pronounced dead shortly after arriving, according to the Medical Examiner's office.

Shinn was a beloved bicyclist and her death highlighted the cycling community's calls for safer bikeways along Pershing Drive and other busy bikeways with little separating bikers from traffic.

"And that's why SANDAG and the city have implemented policy changes to cut the permitting time on bike infrastructure projects," Gloria said. "Traveling around our city without a car should not be life-threatening. I will continue to work to make active transportation safe for all residents in all neighborhoods."

Work on the temporary bikeways to prevent similar collisions has begun. They are scheduled to be complete in early October. Construction on permanent bikeways by SANDAG is expected to begin in early 2022.

"Mayor Todd Gloria campaigned on making streets more safe, and now he is making it happen," said Colin Parent, executive director of Circulate San Diego, a think tank focused on regional mobility. "Circulate welcomes this bold action to help make our streets safe for everyone."

"It’s terrific that Mayor Gloria is taking some immediate bold action to make some safety improvements here on Pershing Drive," said Parent. "It’s really valuable to have safe streets so that people are able to get where they are going without having to rely on a car and without fearing for their lives."

2021 has brought a rash of cycling-related deaths to San Diego, San Diego Bike Coalition leaders said. There is now a total of 14 cyclists killed in crashes with vehicles in the county, the nonprofit claimed.

"In light of the recent tragedies that have struck our community, this installation is a step toward a safer, more cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly San Diego," said San Diego Bike Coalition executive director Andy Hanshaw. "We recognize the city of San Diego's actions here today and urge SANDAG to continue to prioritize the safety of active transportation users in our region so that no other family loses their loved ones to what can be prevented through well-planned and safe infrastructure."

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