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September 18, 2007

18 Wheeler vs Cyclist: OC's Rash of Accidents Continues

Since the Spring of last year the number accidents involving encounters between Motorists, and Cyclists, in my backyard, here in Orange County, has grown to troubling proportions, many of them ending in the death of the cyclist.

While most happpend due to the actions of the Motorist, a few did not.

The latest incident occured on Saturday morning, in the city of Irvine, a city with Bike Lanes, and Multi-Use Trails, aplenty, and is still under investigation as of this writing.

The report in the OC Register, by Sam Miller, is thus a brief one:

A bicyclist struck and killed in Irvine Saturday has been identified as Sandy Julienne, 47, of Huntington Beach.

Just after 10 a.m. Saturday, Julienne was struck by an 18-wheeler hauling dirt on the northbound side of Culver Drive north of University Drive, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police were still investigating the scene Saturday afternoon.

The driver of the truck was interviewed, but "it's too early to say what might have happened," said Irvine Police Lt. Rick Handfield.

This barely scratches the suface, of course, but  2 pages of comments, by family, friends, witnesses, and other interested parties, to the online version, paint a picture of the cyclist, the scene in the immediate aftermath, and the attitudes of cyclists toward cycling in general, and the area in particular, that are quite interesting.

Before I go further let me share an e-mail I received, yesterday afternoon, from a reporter at the OC Register:

Hello Kiril,

I am a reporter for the Register. I am working on a story about Sandy
Julienne of Huntington Beach, a cyclist who was struck and killed by a big
rig while riding in Irvine on Saturday. My understanding is he was well
known in the cycling community. I am wondering if you knew him, knew of him
or know anyone who does, as we are interested in writing a news obituary.
It seems we've had an unfortunate patterm of these tragedies lately here in
Orange County. I would also appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on how
to improve safety and interaction between vehicles and bicycles.

Sincerely,

Erika Chavez
Staff Writer
The Orange County Register
(949) 553-2914
echavez@ocregister.com

***UPDATE -  9/19***

Erika's Tribute Report, along with new info on the cause of the accident, was posted online, late yesterday:

Sandy Julienne's loved ones have an easy time naming his passions: cycling, cycling and cycling.

The Huntington Beach man died Saturday doing what he loved most, when he was hit by an 18-wheeler while riding in Irvine. Julienne was such a dedicated cyclist that he rode more than 20 miles to work every day and never drove a car, despite living in Southern California for more than 40 years....

Witnesses say Julienne was riding in the bicycle lane when the big rig's rear tire clipped the bike's handlebars. Fellow cyclists chased the 18-wheeler and detained the driver, who seemed unaware that he had hit Julienne, said David Worthington. The driver was questioned by Irvine police and released; an investigation is ongoing, said Lt. Rick Handfield.

Read the full story, and the comments, and see 7 pictures of Sandy.

***END UPDATE***

I don't know the victim, but promised to try to get some attention paid to this story, and spread the word of her request for info, and local comment, out to the community.

As part of that effort I took a trip, this morning, to the scene to see it for myself.

Irv_acci4

Sandy was a respected, long time, member of the OC Cycling Community, known as a "truly gentle man", "a positive influence on everyone he encountered", "a very strong, safe and courteous cyclist", and more.

I read the comments, and was moved by what I read, including one from a friend of the truck driver, who says he is devasted by what appears to be an accident, but also moved to reply to 4 comments, hoping to start a much needed discussion.

I will spread the comments, and my responses between several pictures I took, sharing them here as a back-up in case the whole lot gets deleted by someone who disagrees, and also to spur discussion here, a discussion about sharing the road that already has been going on here for some time, and was rekindled by the essay of an Arizona Cyclist, this past week.

Irv_acc1

***North on Culver, from University, toward a small climb in the road, with a posted speed limit in the 40's.***

CISCO WROTE:

I was driving north on Culver with my son and we saw 3 cars parked with hazard lights on. There was a space in between the cars and we saw the injured cyclist, it was very graphic accident scene. His head was against the edge of the concrete curb. My son and I were in shock. We later saw the truck at the intersection of Michelson and Culver with one other rider talking with the driver and one other person whose car was infront of the truck, as if to prevent him from leaving, also speaking with the driver. A minute later we saw a police car and then an ambulance come in. We already knew the rider was beyond help. According to the brief police report, it looks like the truck driver was interviewed and released. From the location where the truck had stopped, it looked like the truck driver was not even aware that his truck had struck the rider. Also, i recalled seeing the rider's bare head and later wondered if he had a helmet on or if it simply flew off from the impact. This accident was a shock for me to see because I just started riding a road bike. I also been trying to get my son to ride a road bike. My condolences to the people that knew this rider.

My Reply: What a tragedy! My Condolences to the family. What is it about riding and driving, in the OC, that has led to the rash of incident in the past year and a half?

RE what Cisco wrote, As readers of my BikeBlog know I advocate the wearing of a helmet, but I am not so naive as to think that wearing one is always going to be a life saver, and in this case if one was worn it obviously didn't matter. I do not know if you will even see this, but let me stress that you, and your son, should not let what you saw deter you from taking up cycling! Cycling requires a lot of a cyclist so that he or she can get the most out of the pastime. While knowing how to ride safely on the street, or on multi-use trails, is important we rely on motorists, and other users of the Trail, to be just as safe, and sometimes, even then, accidents happen, despite our best efforts. The street remains an appropriate, and safe, place to ride, and we have the legal right to be there, never forget that.

Irv_acci2***The start of the Debris Field, one that extends all the way to the 1st tree beyond the Memorial.***

GEORGE WROTE:

So sorry to the family and friends of Sandy. It could have so easily been any of us. Everyone, please when you get home today hug your family and tell them you love them. Life is so precious and can be taken away in the blink of an eye. In an effort to do my little part to save gas consumption and lighten the load on polluting our air, also a great way to get some exercise I have been riding my bike to and from Turtle Rock and the airport M-F for about 9 months. I started in the bike lane as I ride at low speeds on a beach cruiser. My bike has wider handle-bars than a racing type bike and unless I am scraping the curb there is no room for me and a car in the right lane. They have to move over slightly to the left to not hit me. If there is traffic to their left and they cannot move over forget about it. I then moved to the sidewalk and sure enough within a week I was pulled over by the Irvine Police at the corner of eastbound Michelson and Culver, there is no bike lane anyway coming up to the intersection, and told it was illegal to ride my bike on the sidewalk. I called the PD and they said there is no such restriction. If you have a chance stick to the sidewalk and go slow and careful. Please, all motorists, be extremely watchful for all bikes and pedestrians, slow down in our community. We have no chance against cars and trucks. Please, no more tradgedies in Irvine.

My Reply: George's comment is troubling on several levels. It is troubling that the cops in Irvine are not on the same page about cycling on the sidewalk. The cop on the street was right to discourge his riding on the sidewalk as it is the least safe place to ride a bike, and since many cities DO have laws on the books forbidding it, it is best not to get into the habit in the 1st place. George, do not be afraid of riding on the street! Learn the ways of being a safe cyclist, such as making left turns, hand signals, and taking the lane safely when you need to, and which is your right. The resources available online from which to learn, are many, and sorely underutilized by all of us, including me, for that matter.

Irv_acci3 ***Just beyond the Memorial: There are 63 markings of debris total, all in the Bike Lane. The intersection where Cisco saw the Truck stopped is a ways up the road, probably 2 lights away.***

JIM93 WROTE:

Last week a pedestrian gets killed by a reckless cyclist on the bike path paralleling this stretch of Culver. Now an innocent and law abiding cyclist gets taken while trying to do the right thing, leaving the multi-use path to pedestrians and slow moving cyclists. Unfortunately it never seems to be the reckless cyclists among us who have to pay this horrible toll.

MY REPLY: About the comment of Jim93. Yes, there are reckless cyclists on our Multi use Trails, but as a study I did of the Back Bay illustrated, last fall, walkers suc as A lady walking a stroller, and a huge dog on a leash, and joggers running in the wrong lane, could be just as reckless as cyclists who were too numerous to list, thus making it clear that we all need to work on keeping our shared experience a safe one for all, not tar and feather a whole segment of users due to the actions of the few. Responsible cyclists, fast, or slow, belong on the Multi-use Trails, but must use them responsibly like everyone else.

Irv_acci5

***Bike Path? There is the San Diego Creek Trail a few blocks to the west, a trail just south of University, and this, in a Residential Community, off to the right of the accident scene, a narrow sidewalk trail, through the area, posted with a No Trespassing Sign, from the University Campus Association, and quoting certain Codes.

I talked with an elderly gentleman, walking his 2 beautiful dogs there, who was a former jogger, and cyclist, in Irvine, and the Back Bay, back in the day.

He told me that while the Trail is private, and used by community cyclists, walkers, and joggers, property security didn't do much to discourage non-residents from using the trail, but that after the recent accidents described above may be planning to be more attentive.

He had his own stories, and stories of friends, who had unfavorable encounters with cyclists on the nearby San Diego Trail, and the Back Bay, and agreed with me on the need for dialogue, education, and cooperation, on the streets, and multi-use trails.***

HANNA WROTE:

Yes, the bike lane at that intersection may be narrow. However I am still having nightmares of the couple that was struck in Mission Viejo last year. The lanes, on Olympiad Rd., are wide and the time was Sunday afternoon. The driver, apparently, leaned to open his glove compartment, or something. The Register never followed up on the story. One cyclist - David Pullen - was killed, and his wife was wounded. That couple could have been us! Until we treat drivers harshly, until we emphasize that bike lanes and crossroads demand special attention from drivers, to slow down and to look both ways, cyclists will be killed. We always cross at the light, on the crosswalk so that drivers will see us, but there is always someone making a right turn on red, or a left turn on green who just ignore us.

*** The Bike Lane is actually the standard width, from all appearances, as you can see, though I have seen a small number both wider, and narrower, over the years, not to mention the dumb ones place on the driver's side of where cars are allowed to park.***

My Reply: Hanna says we need to treat drivers harshly, and that will make them pay attention to us as co-users of the road. Is she willing to be just as harsh with irresponsible fellow cyclists using our streets, and trails? Motorists need to be better educated about us cyclists, and cyclists need to be better educated so they will become confident, safe, co-users of the street. It is as simple as that, and no amount of finger pointing, including THAT finger, by either side, will change that.

The latest comments from a family member post info about the viewing tomorrow, and the funeral on Thursday, and a celebration of Sandy's life afterward.

There are many other comments worth your time, and you can read them, and join the discussion, here.

My Share the Road Archive of posts can be found here, and comments are welcome on all of them.

September 18, 2007 in Share the Road, and Trail: Safety Matters! | Permalink

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Comments

People always said I was crazy for riding my bike in San Francisco.

I will tell you this - I felt safer riding in The City than I do just about anywhere in Southern California.

You have to be a confident rider and an offensive one just to survive here, and even then, as is evidenced in this horrible accident, there are no guarantees.

I cringe when I see weekend warriors and families out on these roads, especially families with children lagging behind.

Car culture is deadly.

Posted by: Rocco Pendola | Sep 21, 2007 1:03:59 AM

Hi everyone, i'm very happy so many people noticed and appreciated my uncle he was my buddy more than anything and also my favorite person. The memories are plenty and will keep me going but my loss is great. You can't be expected to get along with everyone but we sure do try, a comman bond we shared."We love people"

He was as strong as he looked, you'd know that if you shook his hand "Ouch". He was also as gental his voice. Unique in that, he had no restrictions... He did what he wanted when he wanted. He had a job not to long ago, he was with the company for at least a year (good pay) His boss told him that he would have to take out his earring. He said "Ok thank's and without a clinch, quit and a found another job, where he was very happy. My Uncle Sandy liked; Riding anywhere, reading, family, coffee, beer (pref. Guiness), darts, cute toes, sundresses in spring, and cute blonds with "furry thighs" hey those are his words. He was cool real cool!

I'm glad he was in love when he passed. For a few years we would go out every weekend looking for "love" but mostly fun we always ended up with a great story. One spot we use to hang out at a bar in H.B "PERQS", I went years later with my friend Jessie, and met my Annie B who I fell in love with soon after...When I told Uncle Sandy about her he ask does she have friends, I said "I don't know" But she did and she was blond and cute, Susan b was the best thing that happend to him. We shared alot of stories and I know how really happy he was. Thank you! To everyone for your thoughts and prayers our family is so thankful. I heard there will be a ride a week from this saturday at the Food park, if anyone has any information please let us know E-mail "thefrogtree yahoo com" or post...

I Love you Uncle Sandy (:

~Derek

P.S Somtimes at christmas he would sign From: Sandy claus

Posted by: Frogtree | Sep 24, 2007 1:37:16 PM

My heart goes out to everyone touched by Sandy Julienne's death. It's unfortunate that people don't pay more attention when driving.

My husband and I are both avid cyclists and live only a block away from where Sandy was hit. I don't think we'll ever be able to get motorists to wake up and pay attention. Hopefully, his death won't discourage others from the joys of bicycling.

We can't prevent all accidents, so the best thing we can do is pretend we're invisible magnetic bullseyes out there.

Try to be visible. Use lights, reflective tapes, loud clothing, etc. You'll still be invisible to some drivers, so ride defensively.

Anticipate stupidity.

Get loud if you have to. A HEY! or STOP! works well when drivers do dumb things.

Ride closer to the sidewalk or curb than the white line where practical. Be predictable! Use hand signals when you can.

Go out and get a handlebar mirror. Sure you sacrifice weight and drag, but ours have come in handy more than a few times as both of us have been able to narrowly avoid being hit by some clueless driver who suddenly swerves into the bike lane for no reason or decides to make the bike lane a turn lane long before it's legal to do so (which I wish the Irvine PD would start writing tickets for).

And watch out for people parked in the bike lane. In Irvine, bike lane seems to be synomous for landscaping crew, utility truck and private vehicle parking lot.

Perhaps spreading the word to ask these bigger vehicles to park closer to the curb and put out cones that allow us safe passage between their truck and the rest of traffic would help?

Perhaps asking them to drive their passenger-side tires up onto the curb to leave some of the bike lane open would work, too?

And perhaps a little help from the Irvine PD from time to time when private vehicles decide to park in the lanes for no reason would be nice, too?

And perhaps when people get pulled over by the Irvine PD, the PD could redirect them to leave the bicycle lane and find a safer place to pull over?

Just some ideas from someone who rides in traffic all the time.

Ride aware and ride safe and watch the intersections on Culver from Campus past Michelson. They're nasty whether you're on a bike or on foot.

I'll see you on the street!

Posted by: Amy Giaquinto | Sep 28, 2007 12:17:57 AM

All 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have allowed right turns on red since January 1, 1980, unless a sign otherwise prohibits this, such as "No Turn On Red".

Posted by: Pipe | Apr 26, 2010 6:20:54 PM

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