In light of two fatal bicycle crashes last week in San Diego County, safety advocates are asking drivers to pay closer attention to their surroundings and be aware of cyclists on local streets and highways.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s tragic loss of human life, which is unacceptable,” said Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego Bike Coalition.
Last Tuesday morning, 75-year old Allen Hunter was struck 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.
It happened right in front of Revolution Bike Shop, where Stephane Roch is manager.
“You always here about this sort of thing happening, but it never really hit home for me until really seeing the aftermath and seeing an actual cyclist lying in the middle of the street. It’s kind of shocking,” said Roch.
The next day, 34-year-old Swati Tyagi was struck and killed by a driver on North Torrey Pines Road. The driver stayed at the scene and the incident is being investigated by San Diego Police.
Tyagi was a scientist at the Salk Institute, who is survived by her husband and 11-month-old son, according to a GoFundMe established by co-workers to help her family.
“Any heightened awareness we can have for cyclists on the street is a good thing. Don’t be a distracted driver, don’t be an impaired driver, and understand cyclists have a right to the road,” said Hanshaw.
Hanshaw is a strong advocate for bike safety infrastructure, like dedicated bike lanes throughout downtown San Diego.
He believes many more cyclists hit the road during the pandemic, but now that the state has reopened, more drivers are out and not as aware as they should be.
The bike coalition is also endorsing free online courses that are being offered and target drivers and cyclist awareness. Recently the California Office of Traffic Safety began offering the Bicycle Friendly Driving Course.
Meanwhile, in the North County, green signs known as "sharrows" advise drivers on Coast Highway that lanes can be used by cyclists.
“Be patient. There’s no reason to go around us, buzz us, realize that we do have the right to take up a lane, especially if there is no bike lane,” said Roch.