North Bay News

Group rides to raise awareness for cyclist fatalities

Friday, August 03, 2012

Bicyclists in Sonoma County went on a very special ride Friday night. The group of about 100 cyclists went on a silent two mile ride from the county supervisor's office to Old Courthouse Square. It was all to support the five cyclists killed in the past 10 weeks. The five were killed in Bodega Bay, Hollydale, Rohnert Park, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa.

While no one can account for the startling spike in fatalities, for now the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC) says it is clearly the time to emphasize safe practices for both motorists and cyclists.

The most recent fatality was Tuesday on Fountaingrove Parkway at Thomas Lake Harris Drive. 37-year-old Ruben Hernandez was out for an early morning ride when a pickup turned left into his path. Hernandez was a PE teacher for K-12 students at a Stockton charter school. He was in the Bay Area for a school conference. Hernandez leaves behind a wife and a 2-year-old daughter.

Marc Selivanoff's 14-year-old son Alexander had an accident when a car cut him off at the same intersection two years ago. The Santa Rosa resident says it's poorly engineered intersection to handle both traffic and bikes, "This is definitely a spot that, when I ride here, we ride here, we feel a little vulnerable. You know, uncomfortable."

His son Alexander added, "Sometimes people are really really nice and they give you room. But a lot of the time they'll just blow right by you. And it's like, come on."

The Selivanoff's know the intersection is dangerous, but the five fatalities have happened all across the county under different circumstances.

"It's hard to identify a reason that this has been happening this summer. But what is true is that it's very clear and sends a clear message that we need to work together in the community to improve road safety," said SCBC Outreach Director Sandra Lupien.

Loretta Esparza says she was injured when a car pulled out in front of her, "Life is a risk and you have to decide which risks you're going to take. And, yeah you have less protection on a bike, but you have all those other benefits. And, for me, those benefits outweigh the risks."

"I really want people to think about everybody who they encounter on the road as somebody who they might know and somebody they should care about so that when we are out there we're eliminating distractions," Lupien said.

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