In addition to having one of the highest traffic fatality rates of any Bay Area county, Sonoma County has also been the site of several recent cycling tragedies. Following Tuesday’s death of a Modesto-area cyclist, the county’s tally has now reached five bike fatalities in the past ten weeks.
The most recent accident occurred when 37-year-old Ruben Hernandez was descending a steep stretch of Fountain Grove Parkway and a pickup truck heading in the opposite direction made a left hand turn into the path of the cyclist. Police said Hernandez was riding within the speed limit (40 miles per hour) in the right lane when 22-year-old Adam Bigham turned left across both lanes of traffic.
There are no bike lanes along that section of Fountain Grove, but the road is a popular training ride for local cyclists.
Despite this recent tragedy, and the higher than usual number of deaths in recent months, at least one local cyclist seems relatively unphased. Longtime bike commuter Craig Hutchinson was quoted by the Press Democrat as saying, “I don’t think it is any worse; it goes in cycles. This definitely seems to be a bad year.” However, Hutchinson says he’ll continue to commute on his bike the same way he has since 1996.
Of the recent rash of accidents, Police Sgt. Rich Celli said there’s no real pattern or trend. The causes and circumstance have been varied, with motorists at fault in about fifty percent of the cases. Celli calls the area a “bicycling community,” but cautions that “all recreational cyclists are aware of all the accidents and how much traffic there is.”
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yardsale/2036774022/