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When 29-year-old cyclist David Ortiz was struck by an SUV and then run over by two sedans on the eastbound lanes of Balboa Avenue on March 22, the official word from local media and officers on scene was that Ortiz was likely at fault.


U-T San Diego reported:

It appears that he was first hit by a black Ford Expedition whose driver had the rising sun in her eyes as she drove up a slight incline on east Balboa, police Sgt. Jim Reschke said.

“The gal in the SUV - she never saw him,” Reschke said. “She felt the collision and pulled over.”

The bicyclist was thrown forward several yards, then was struck by a black Toyota Camry and knocked forward several more yards before being hit by a gray Camry, police Lt. Jerry Hara said.

“From witness statements and evidence it seems at this point that the bicyclist was possibly westbound in the eastbound lanes,” Hara said. “We’re pretty sure he was going the wrong way.”

However, a week later, NBC reported that the Ford Expedition, now identified as blue, not black, fled the scene.

Where did Sargent Reschke’s driver account come from?

Further, NBC noted that “Balboa Ave. does not have a bike lane; just three travel lanes and a transition lane” and accounts from friends of Ortiz’ suggest that he was actually riding with the eastbound traffic, as the incident occurred around 7:15 a.m. when he would be commuting from his Pacific Beach home to work in Kearny Mesa.

According to Bike San Diego, police officials have issued a retraction of their statement that Ortiz was riding against traffic.

From BikeSD.org:

For years, residents living in Clairemont along Balboa Avenue have been asking the City of San Diego [pdf] to turn Balboa Avenue from a 55 mph high speed thoroughfare into a source of community pride that would invite its residents to walk, bike and enjoy Balboa Avenue at a slower, more humane pace.

The plan that the Balboa Avenue Citizens Advisory Committe helped prepare addressed a lot of the downsides that currently make Balboa Avenue very dangerous road for cyclists despite being a major thoroughfare that connects residents to the major job centers in San Diego.

Yet, five years after this plan received widespread community support, the City continues to drag its feet and has only allocated funds for a bike lane that has yet to be striped along Balboa Avenue.

Meanwhile, the wide width of Balboa Avenue encourages all its motorized users to travel at excessive speeds contributing toward an unpleasant and dangerous riding and living environment.

In a demonstration of support for the Ortiz family and bike-friendly infrastructure, a group of cyclists will be meeting at the Balboa Park Fountain tomorrow (Wednesday, April 4) at 4 p.m. and riding to the City Administration Building (202 C Street) Downtown.

From the Urban Bike and Social Club event:

The death of David Ortiz highlights the quintessential problems faced by San Diego cyclists on a daily basis: inattentive drivers, poorly designed roadway infrastructure, and a societal mindset that cyclists always ride recklessly.

At the conclusion of the ride, cyclists will lay down on the ground with their bikes to represent the thousands of cyclists and pedestrians struck by motor vehicles every year in San Diego.

(stock photo)

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Burwell April 3, 2012 @ 6:31 p.m.

Riding a bicycle or motorcycle on a public street in San Diego is tantamount to suicide.


SurfPuppy619 April 3, 2012 @ 8:58 p.m.

Ive been T-Boned on a bicycle before, not fun, lucky I am still alive to be honest.


billdsd April 5, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

Not if you know how to negotiate traffic properly. I have been riding the streets of San Diego since 1986. I'm still alive. I ride on major roads every day. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition offers classes.


SurfPuppy619 April 5, 2012 @ 8:35 a.m.

Actually billsd it had NOTHING to do with "negotiate traffic properly" or "classes" or anything else because the dork ran a stop sign while I had the right of way and he T-boned me, so go hawk your bicycle classes to a 3rd grader who may be able to use the info


xians421 April 3, 2012 @ 10:53 p.m.

At least when you ride against traffic, you can look your killer in the eye.

Riders of both kinds, please ride like me: A: I am invisible, no one can see me. B or 2: If they could see me, they would aim for me.


billdsd April 5, 2012 @ 12:11 a.m.

Riding against traffic is one of the most dangerous things that you can do on a bike. It makes you effectively invisible to cross traffic because drivers aren't looking for traffic travelling at speed in that direction on that side of the road.

Most collisions between bicycles and cars occur at intersections. Hit-from-behind collisions are only about 5% of collisions between bicycles and cars.


Twister April 4, 2012 @ 4:41 a.m.

There isn't enough information to go on here. For example, where on Balboa Avenue did the accident occur? Where is the evidence? What does the police report actually indicate?


billdsd April 5, 2012 @ 12:13 a.m.

The reports have changed. Initially someone said that he was riding against traffic. That turned out to not be true. He was on his way to work. It happened on Balboa where it crosses I-805. We still don't know exactly what happened.


Twister April 4, 2012 @ 4:43 a.m.

The photo appears to have been photo-shopped to indicate a bike lane for riding against traffic. Please clarify.


billdsd April 5, 2012 @ 12:15 a.m.

There is no bike lane on Balboa in the area where this collision occurred. The bike lane in the photo is most likely on a one way street. Counter-flow bike lanes are rare and I am not aware of any in San Diego.


Twister April 8, 2012 @ 9:41 p.m.

The Reader should explain. This error should not stand.


Chad Deal April 9, 2012 @ 12:42 a.m.

This looks like a stock photo to me. I believe web admin posted the image.


Twister April 4, 2012 @ 4:48 a.m.

I'm not sure that bike lanes are such a good idea. Maybe the new bike symbols without the stripe will turn out to be better. I ride both, and tend to prefer the latter.


billdsd April 5, 2012 @ 12:18 a.m.

The ones without the stripe are not bike lanes. They are traffic lanes with shared lane markers, which are a bike symbol with a chevron arrow. They are commonly called "sharrows" and their purpose is to inform people that bicyclists have the right to use the full lane in the lanes where they are placed. Note that they do not grant that right. They merely inform people that it exists. It existed before the sharrow markers were put in, usually because the lanes are unsafe for bicyclists to keep far right.


Twister April 8, 2012 @ 9:38 p.m.

Quite. Bike lanes force bicyclists to keep in the lane, which commonly runs next to parked cars, where they can easily get "doored." If that impact doesn't kill them, they can get flipped into traffic and slaughtered, even by careful and considerate drivers.


Chad Deal April 4, 2012 @ 12:42 p.m.

The accident occurred on the eastbound lanes of Balboa Avenue near the ramp to northbound I-805.


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