Why California Bicycle Fatality May Not Be The Last

One of the frightening things about the traffic accident in Santa Cruz between a big rig and a bicycle that led to the death of a woman with a husband and kids is that it’s not uncommon. In fact, the San Jose Mercury News reports that it wasn’t even trucker Gabriel Manzul Vera’s first caused death on the road. As they describe it:

Vera acknowledged the Moss Landing accident in a deposition he gave last year as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit for a collision with Santa Cruz teacher John Myslin, who was cycling north on Mission Street when he collided with Vera’s tractor-trailer.

A two-month investigation followed the 2007 Santa Cruz collision and investigators determined Myslin, a popular Pacific Collegiate School teacher, tried to pass on the right side of Vera’s 26-wheeler and was struck as the truck turned right onto Bay Street.

Vera and the demolition company he’s worked for almost 20 years, Randazzo Enterprises of Castroville, agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle the Myslin case in March.

So the company has decided that Vera is worth keeping as an employee, but pays settlements on prior accidents. And CalTrans is recognizing how dangerous the intersection is where Vera’s big rig struck the bicycle of Lauren Perdriau Ward, according to the Almanac News:

The road is two lanes at a stop sign before the ambiguous section and two lanes after it: one for through traffic into Ladera and the other for traffic headed on to I-280 southbound.

Bikes headed into Ladera must somehow get to the through lane by crossing the freeway-entrance-ramp lane, a dangerous maneuver in traffic.

The half lane between these two lanes is where Los Altos cyclist Lauren Perdriau Ward, 47, died on Nov. 4 after colliding with the left side of a big-rig cab headed for the freeway.

-There are a number of factors that can make it dangerous for cyclists to share the roads in California with cars and tractor trailers. But it may take more public attention, or the threat of legal action, for bikers in California to feel safer in areas not originally meant to handle pedal and motor traffic at the same time.

[Image: US Navy in the public domain]