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Bicyclist Killed in One of Three Morning Accidents Involving Cars and Bicycles

Published: Sep. 21, 2005 at 1:10 AM MST|Updated: Oct. 6, 2005 at 4:23 AM MST
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Drivers are told to share the road with bicyclists, but police say bicyclists need to do their part too; especially after three accidents this morning involving bikes and cars, all within hours of each other.

One happened at 22nd and Second. Police say a truck hit a bicyclist who was going against traffic and not wearing a helmet. The bicyclist died at the scene and the truck driver was not cited. At First and Rudasill, the Pima County Sheriff's Department says a car hit a person on a bike while making a turn. Luckily the bicyclist suffered only minor injuries, but he was given a ticket for riding on the wrong side of the road. And in the third incident, a driver says a man on a bicycle came out of nowhere and got hit.  That rider has severe head injuries.

It's these kind of accidents that have officers thinking that some riders may need a refresher course in bike safety and a reminder to drivers to be on the lookout for those riding bikes. Bicycle safety advocates say these kind of accidents can be avoided but it takes both drivers and the riders to obey traffic laws and be extra aware of their surroundings.

With the monsoon winding down, cooler temperatures setting in, and with the high price of gasoline, more and more people are leaving their car at home and pedaling their way around town.

"Around here you need to look out because the cars, they're not watching for bikes," says Deborah Sinohui.  She was riding her bike on her way home from the University of Arizona.

Alex Cook, a systems analysis at the school of engineering, rides about three miles a day back and forth from work.  "People that are driving don't seem to see the bicycle half the time, that inside lane there, and that's a little scary at times."

Not only scary, but potentially deadly.  "One of the big problems we have is vehicles passing a bicyclist on the left and then wanting to make a right hand turn," says Sgt. Tim Beam of the Tucson Police Department.  "They need to be aware of where that bicyclist is at all times and whether they think they have enough room they better look over their shoulder rather than just using the mirrors."

According to Sgt. Beam, there have already been 206 collisions between bicycles and cars this year. That's compared to 302 last year and 279 in 2003.  "We've got to respect each other on the road. Life is just so precious," says Jean Gorman. She's become one of Tucson's biggest bicycle safety advocates, but not by choice.

Six years ago her son, Brad Gorman, was killed as he rode his bicycle on the east side. Gorman says drivers and bicyclists are equally responsible when it comes to safety and her message is simple. Share the streets and give a bike five feet.  "Motorists are driving what I consider a 2, 3, or 4 thousand pound weapon and they have to know what they're doing when they driving, and bicyclists have to obey all the same laws as the motorists have."

Here are some safety tips provided by the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee:

  1. Be visible. Wear light, bright, and reflective clothing.
  2. At night, use a white front headlight and a red tail light.
  3. Always wear a helmet. National studies show that 85% of brain injuries can be prevented by wearing one.
  4. Be polite and smart. When riding your bike, use hand signals to show your intentions. Ride on the right with the flow of traffic. NEVER ride against traffic on the road, in a bike lane, or sidewalk.

For more information on bicycle safety, you can call the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee at (520) 740-6746. Or you can stop by the El Tour de Tucson offices where there is a tremendous amount of safety material. That office is located at 2609 East Broadway.