Fatal SUV Accident Raises Questions Regarding Cycling Safety in San Jose

It began as just another relaxing Monday morning bike ride — and ended in tragedy.

Two men were cycling along Vista Park Drive and Capitol Expressway on July 15 when they were struck by a large gray Chevy SUV.

Both men were rushed to an area hospital, where one died and the other was treated for life-threatening injuries.

The cyclist killed in the collision was identified by police as Johnny Chu, 70.

Police say the men were traveling south on Vista Park when the SUV pulled into the street from a strip mall parking lot and collided with both men.

The SUV was driven by an adult woman. Police reported that they do not believe alcohol or drugs were responsible for the collision.

Friends of the victims spoke to local news reporters about the incident, which was the 26th fatal collision in San Jose this year.

“I asked him, ‘Are you going for your ride?’ said Chu’s neighbor, Daniel Aponte. “He answered, ‘Yes, I am.’ He started carrying his bike down the stairs. He waved at me. And I said, ‘Next time,’ because we had talked before about riding together,” Aponte said.

A Spotlight on Cyclist Safety

While police say the SUV driver was not under the influence, both cyclists were traveling in a bike lane at the time of the collision. This means that both cyclists had the right of way, and the SUV driver should have yielded before entering the road.

Media reports say the SUV driver was distraught and fully cooperative with police. Yet this is likely small consolation for friends and family members of the cyclists.

As the number of cyclists on the road has grown, collisions and fatalities have grown in parallel. The number of pedestrians and cyclists killed each year has grown substantially over the last decade.

Just a week prior to the fatal collision that cost Johnny Chu his life, another cyclist, Robert Lavin, was killed by a hit and run driver in the Willow Glen neighborhood. Lavin’s family said he was a dedicated grandfather who had just retired from Cisco.

San Jose officials are promoting safer streets through programs such as Better Bikeways and Vision Zero, both of which are designed to help reduce collisions and improve local roadways.

However, as the popularity of cycling grows, it bears watching whether these efforts are sufficient to keep the bicycle-riding public safe from the hazards of the road.

What to Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Cycling Accident

If you’ve been the victim of a cycling-related collision, it’s important to speak to someone who has deep experience in this field of law.

Attorney Gary Brustin is an avid cyclist who exclusively handles bicycle injury litigation and personally represents each client.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

Rancho Mirage Debuts Plan to Improve Cyclist and Pedestrian Safety

City officials in Rancho Mirage are working to keep cyclists safer while improving the quality of local thoroughfares and sidewalks.

City officials hired AECOM, a traffic consultant, to develop a best practices plan for improving Rancho Mirage’s network of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and cart paths.

The 40-page plan was presented in July to the Rancho Mirage City Council. The city has $400,000 to finance network improvements in the coming fiscal year, according to the Desert Sun.

The city currently has about 32 miles of bike lanes. The AECOM plan examined where these lanes are placed, where new lanes could most effectively be placed and any right of way issues that may exist.

The plan also outlines other improvements, including new signage and striping at busy intersections.

Rancho Mirage will begin by addressing issues at the intersections where most collisions occur, and work to deter cyclists from Highway 111.

In addition to street and intersection improvements, the plan also details improvements on sidewalks, crosswalks and local cart paths.

A Response to Rising Bicycle Traffic

The proposed network improvements are a response to rising numbers of cyclists on local roads. Rancho Mirage, and other communities in California’s Coachella Valley, have seen sustained increases in local cycling traffic. One local cycling group that worked with the city on its plan — the Desert Bicycle Club — has reported a 50% increase in membership numbers in the last five years.

City officials were also motivated by changing attitudes. Residents in local communities are seeking more opportunities to work, dine, shop and enjoy recreation without having to drive a car or hail a ridesharing service. This has created a need for more pedestrian and cycling lanes within mixed development communities.

In addition to the $400,000 earmarked for improvements, Rancho Mirage city officials have said that additional state and federal money may be available to finance cycling-friendly projects.

Risks on the Road

There were 783 bicyclists killed in the US in 2017 and 840 killed in 2016. These numbers represent a significant increase over numbers from a little more than a decade ago (in 2007, for example, 701 cyclists were killed).

In Rancho Mirage, four cyclists have already been killed in 2019, along with 12 pedestrians. This means that 2019 is on track to be one of the city’s deadliest years in terms of pedestrian safety.

Given the rising number of cyclists on roads and pedestrians on streets, road improvements are essential for helping mitigate the safety risks to walkers, joggers and riders.

Finding the Right Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Coachella Valley

No road network will ever be entirely safe for pedestrians and cyclists. If you’ve been injured in a cycling accident, it’s imperative that you protect your rights by contacting an experienced attorney.

Gary Brustin has been fighting for the rights of cycling accident victims for more than 20 years.  Contact us today for a free consultation.