On Saturday, September 15th, my girlfriend and I rode our bikes from our downtown
Erin Kinnard Thompson, police department spokesperson, issued a statement indicating that a female driver (for some reason the driver’s name has still not been released) was headed east, up old Route 66 into Tijeras canyon. The driver was in the process of passing a group of cyclists when an oncoming car “forced her” into the cyclists. “The driver saw oncoming traffic and had no choice but to swerve back—I’m not sure I would even call it a swerve—and that’s when the cyclists were hit,” said Thompson. James Quinn was killed and his wife Ashley injured in the collision. They were riding on a designated bicycle route.
Lt Scott Baird stated that it did not appear that the motorist was at fault, but that an investigation was in progress.
According to Sheriff Darren White in a subsequent public meeting, the driver initially gave the cyclists a wide berth but was forced back into her lane by the oncoming vehicle. Quinn rode on the road’s shoulder, just to the right of the white line.
Their assessment largely agrees with mine after I investigated the area: there’s no corner anywhere near the scene of the accident and there’s no hill that obstructs a driver’s view. A survey of the shoulder reveals very rough pavement on the shoulder except for right along the white line. This is not typical of the entire road, which tends to have a rideable shoulder. One salient point is that a cyclist is not required to ride on the shoulder, and is in fact entitled to ride in the road. Regardless of where Quinn was when struck, the accident was clearly due to the reckless behavior of the car attempting to pass.
Route 66 is not a dangerous road. In fact, it’s one of the most popular cycling roads in the state for good reason. The parallel US Interstate 40 accommodates most of the traffic looking to get somewhere quickly, leaving the meandering Route 66 for reduced volume local traffic and those heading to the mountains. The scenery and terrain are spectacular, and the road connects the southern Rockies to downtown
The reaction of the local law enforcement is typical of the car-bike collisions that have resulted in fatalities in
Steve Mathias, a local cyclist, arrived on the scene of the accident on his bicycle. He recounts in an open letter to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department how one of the deputies told him, “See what happens when you ride in the road?”
Liz Cash reported another brush with the law not long before this. She was riding her bike on an
Improved education to teach drivers about cyclists’ rights, and to teach cyclists about how to ride safely would go a long way. Perhaps even more important is an educated law enforcement that understands and enforces the laws and an administration that doesn’t contribute to the problem.
This past weekend, 300 cyclists rode in silence up Tijeras canyon from
For an update, see: Poor Prosecution after Driver Kills Albuquerque Cyclist
Photos via Duke City Fix
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