Several people are riding their bikes with a heavy heart this week after several recent bicycling deaths on roadways.
Dozens of bicyclists gathered at Bird Park in North Park Monday, holding up signs with the names of recent crash victims and demanding action from city and county leaders to make streets safer.
The athletes are concerned about areas like Pershing Drive, where there’s only one white line separating drivers and bikes. Many said that the line doesn’t provide enough protection.
Twelve people have been killed in San Diego County so far this year, with five of those deaths taking place within just the past 30 days.
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“Grief makes you angry,” San Diego Bicycle Coalition executive director Andy Hanshaw said. "If there’s not a dedicated path that’s seperate from the road, then we need a safer bike lane on the street, and your typical white stripe is not safe enough.”
Beloved bicyclist and San Diego State University administrator Laura Shinn was killed on Pershing Drive last Tuesday. Police said she was in the bike lane, wearing a helmet, when a driver hit her from behind.
“A lot of people are feeling hesitant," bicyclist Elizabeth Mayer said. "They don’t want this freedom option of transportation taken from them because they’re afraid of cars."
On June 22, 75-year-old Allen Hunter was hit by a driver as he cycled on South Coast Highway in Solana Beach. The driver fled the scene. Hunter died at a hospital shortly after the crash.
The next day, 34-year-old Swati Tyagi was hit and killed by a driver on North Torrey Pines Road. The driver stayed at the scene. The incident is being investigated by San Diego Police.
The biking community is now urging several cities to quickly build solutions to fix the most dangerous county corridors. Safety advocates said some bike lane projects – like the one on Pershing Drive -- have been approved but the lifesaving infrastructure is taking too long to be built.
“They’re funded, they’re planned, they just need to be built, and if they can’t be built, we need a quick solution, because it really is going to be a good project once it’s in, but it’s no,t and sadly, we lost a life here last week,” Hanshaw said.
Others are demanding that drivers be more aware and watch for cyclists and pedestrians.
San Diego mayor Todd Gloria released the following statement after the bike rally on Monday:
“One cyclist death is too many – particularly when we know it’s preventable.
“My administration has taken a number of steps to help reach our Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our roads, including establishing a new team to create bike lanes more quickly, joining the National Association of City Transportation Officials to learn and adopt best practices, and working with SANDAG to reduce the time it takes to process a bike infrastructure permit by 75%.
“Saving lives should not be controversial, and my administration will continue to work to make sure all who use our roads, regardless of method of travel, are safe.”
NBC 7 reached out to SANDAG o get more information about why the Pershing Drive bike lane project, approved in 2015, hasn’t been implemented but has not yet heard back.
Another bike rally is scheduled Aug. 1 at North Park and 30th Street to celebrate the opening of 2.2 miles of separated bikeway the city has been planning for years. The event starts at 10 a.m.