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October 15, 2006

Motorists vs Cyclists in Orange County


Does this image trouble you?

Does it make you angry?

At the motorist in the backround?

At me?

Yes, I staged the shot.

I was not injured.

The car is empty, and the road not seen, behind the camera, is a deadend.

But.... What if?

What if the road was not a deadend?

What if I had been riding safely along, and been struck by an unsafe driver?

What if I had been the one traveling in an unsafe manner, and been the cause of the collision?

What if we both did something stupid?

What if? What if? What if?

2006 has been a year of tragic "what if's" for cyclists, and a few joggers as well, in Orange County, and it took a simple question, e-mailed me by a fellow cyclist, to bring this to my attention, and make me realize that while I did not want to turn this blog into an un-relenting cataloging of national road woes, it was important for me to pay attention when it happens where it affects me the most.

Orange County is my backyard.

It is where I commute to work, and shopping.

It is where I ride for exercise, and to relax on a day off.

What happens here concerns me, and should concern all county cyclists, whether an activist, a Club Rider, a racer, an active daily rider, or a part-time cyclist just out to ride a few miles , wherever, once, or twice, a month.

Now that I've begun writing about 1 local cycling issue it is time for me to begin to try to address a 2nd.

The 1st story involves Class 1 and related, Trails.

This one involves the streets of our county, with Bike Lanes, and without.....

Last month a local cyclist took me to task for not covering a prominent local story, and vented his anger at the person responsible for an entirely avoidable tragedy as well.

My only excuse was that I didn't read the OC Register every day, and so did not know of the story. ( I have since subscribed. )

I have discovered that there is a bigger, year long, story here, and that cyclists are not entirely innocent victims.

Let me share the correspondence with my fellow cyclist:

Phillipe on 9/20/06:

Why don't I see anything on your blog about the murder of Candace Tift?

Cycling Dude on 9/20:

Um...... maybe because I did not know about it.

Not  everyone subscribes to the OC Register, or even reads it every day you know.

I bet ya didn't think of that, before going all acusatory on me, did ya? ;-D

The link you gave me didn't show me the article so I will do a search to see what the story says.

While I have written about an incident or 2 over the years I have learned, from what turns up in my Google Alerts, that there is just too much of this happening in the world, and even locally, and I refuse to make my blog a catalog of the negative, and depressing.

While many such incidents are the fault of the motorist, it is just as true that many are the fault of the cyclist for any number of reasons.

The best thing I can do, as an advocate for cycling, is to promote resources for learning how to ride safely ( See sidebar, and past, and future blog entries. ), and let the public know of changes in communities, for the good, that make cycling safer (  I'll be checking out the new extension created along PCH in Dana Point soon, with a picture.  ).

BTW what do you think of the rest of my blog? ;-D

Phillipe on 9/20:

She was riding on the sidewalk with her dog on a leash.
2006 Lexus jumps onto sidewalk and kills her.
Driver arrested for being under influence of prescroption drugs.
Read the articles, and about the funeral...
Bikers are dying.  I ride that route often.
I am concerned about this fading from the spotlight.
I think it is important that a message is sent that it is not OK to take xoloft, drive a car and kill people.
I'm feeling very "Old Testament" about this...

Cycling Dude on 9/20:

Okay, now I'M bothered.

At work, during a break, I got the link to work, and printed out the story.

13 accidents in 6 months in the OC????

That is troublesome regardless of the individual circumstances.

Like I said before finding google only bringing accidents to my attention was not what I hoped to use it for because I wanted to encourage people to ride not scare them off from it.

But I live in the OC, and there is certainly no reason why I can't keep an eye out for stories such as these WHERE I RIDE.

I have no clear idea just how many area cyclists, and clubs, know of the Dude, despite my leaving flyers in shops, and just hope they are because there is a lot of good, safe riding here.

I will read the story on my bus ride home tonight, and get back to you soon.

Cycling Dude on 9/21:

Okay, I've read the piece, and with now 13 cycling related incidents in 6 months am outraged at the senselessness of it.

The motorist was clearly wrong, and I grieve for the cyclist, her family, and friends, but there are some other questions that need to be asked a well, if only to inform, and educate, bicyclists in our community:

1. Why was she not wearing a helmet?

Yes, there is no way to know for sure if it would have mattered, but still...

2. Why was she riding on the sidewalk?

Last month I posted about cycling laws in the county, and it's against city law to ride your bicycle on Newport Beach sidewalks!!

Did she, or her family, and friends, KNOW this?

Did YOU?

3. Why was she riding in the company of her dog, especially where she was doing it?

On the Santa Ana, San Diego, or Mountain to Sea, Trails I can understand, but on public sidewalks, or streets?

I know you may know the woman, and her family, and my questions may seem insensitive but, if I am going to write about such events as this, I would be shirking my responsibility by not addressing these issues as well as what the motorist did.

BTW, are you a club cyclist, or have a cycling website I might want to link to?

Cycling Dude on 9/22:


Not sure if you received my last e-mail, and was wondering if you are, as you say you are, " feeling very "Old Testament" about this..." what you had to say about it.

Don't be afraid to disagree, I can take it.

I've had Critical Massers, and Green Party Members, get mad at me for my opinions, and "impertinent" questions, after all. ;-D

Tomorrow, I am going down there to take some photos for a post.

Phillipe on 9/25:

Hello Kiril,
No, I do not know the woman in quesiton.
I beleive it's tragic and am concerned that the entire matter is going to be swept under the carpet.
1.  Yes, she should have been wearing a helmet.  I'm not sure it would have saved her.
2.  There is no indication that riding with her dog on a leash had any impact on her ability to avoid the Lexus.
3.  Yes, I know that it's against the law to ride on the sidewalk in Newport Beach.  That is a STUPID law.  Sometimes the sidewalk is the only save place to be.
In any event, the 52 yr. woman who was stoned on prescription drugs left the roadway, killed a beloved school teacher/bicyclist, and she is free to walk the streets.

How can bicyclists be heard?


Phillipe on 9/25:
Old Testament...."An eye for an eye"
I know that won't happen, but I feel that 10 years in prison is appropriate.
I've ridden the Dana Point route.  It's very scary.
Yes, people should wear helmets.  They should follow laws, except stupid ones like the Newport Beach sidewalk law.


Cycling Dude on 9/26:
>Hello Kiril,
>   No, I do not know the woman in quesiton.
>   I beleive it's tragic and am concerned that the entire matter is going to be swept under the carpet.

Well, I'm going to do something on my blog.

>   1.  Yes, she should have been wearing a helmet.  I'm not sure it would have saved her.

I agree that chances are it might not have, but only her family, and those who treated her will know for sure.

>   2.  There is no indication that riding with her dog on a leash had any impact on her ability to avoid the Lexus.

Probably not based on the description of the incident I was given by an employee at the dealership.

The car came from behind.

My point is that she should not have had her dog along at all, especially not there.

>   3.  Yes, I know that it's against the law to ride on the sidewalk in Newport Beach.  That is a STUPID law.  Sometimes the sidewalk is the only save place to be.

Sorry it's not stupid, and the sidewalk is never the safest place to ride a bike, though it might be the only place to ride, especially for kids too young to ride the street.

As I was checking out the accident scene, a car pulled out of the car lot into the sidewalk path, and any person riding a bike, and distracted, day, or night, would not have seen it in time.

PCH, even as it allows for parked cars, IS a Bike Route ( Green signs. ), and any cyclist who does not know how to safely take a lane to avoid parked cars should definitely avoid it in many stretches between Newport Blvd., and Crystal Cove, and many places further south as well.

>   In any event, the 52 yr. woman who was stoned on prescription drugs left the roadway, killed a beloved school teacher/bicyclist, and she is free to walk the streets.

>   How can bicyclists be heard?

Yes, she was wrong, I agree, and should be punished.

Cyclists can be heard by writing letters, and blog posts, and speaking up at community meetings.

Another important question to ask is why so many cyclists are not as knowledgeable about cycling safety, and cycling issues, as they should be?

I have yet to hear from Phillipe about what I had to say in my last e-mail.


I know he, and other cyclists, especially ones with "issues" toward motorists, may not want to think about certain things in regards to the rash of accidents that has overtaken the OC cycling community this year, but avoiding them won't make them go away.

Too bad Phillipe didn't consider my last thoughts worth a reply.

I'll hold out hope that it's possible he overlooked it in a crowded inbox.

October 15, 2006 in Share the Road, and Trail: Safety Matters! | Permalink


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It is very true that it is sometimes as much the cyclists fault as it is the drivers she definetaly should have been wearing a helmet and shouldnt have had the dog with her but as for riding on the sidewalk it can be mixed if they ride on the road vehicles can be a major problem and if they ride on the sidewalk they could cause the accident with pedestrians. It is incidents like this where the driver should be punished 10 years seems fair but cycle paths need to be made.

Posted by: James | Oct 16, 2006 3:35:09 AM

I am the mother of the Candace Tift and just for the record my daughter was brutally and violently hit from behind on the sidewalk (which is not a road for cars). So maybe you should be addressing prescription drug laws and using the automobile as a murder weapon.

Posted by: mary logan | Apr 17, 2007 11:33:56 PM

You are using he tragic death of this amazing woman to argue bitterly. The fact of the matter is that there is NO excuse for driving under the influence. Regardless of what the "cycling laws" may be. NO EXCUSE! If you knew her, you wouldnt be wasting your time with issues of "riding your bike with your dog"

Posted by: Sarah | Aug 24, 2007 2:32:00 AM

Dear Sarah,

I truly wish I HAD known her.

From all that I have read she sounds like a wonderful person, and teacher, and God knows our kids need good teachers these days.

If I had known her I would have, as her friend, tried to persuade her to wear a helmet, not ride on the sidewalk, and certainly not ride a bike while "walking" her dog, anywhere.

My interest in Safe Cycling goes back many years, though I didn't begin to give it a prominent place on my Blog ( Other than a collection of Website links in the sidebar. ), until last year.

The best way I know how to defend my focusing on Safety is to encourage you to read thru the Archive of my Share the Road! Safety Matters! Archive of posts.

I DID reply to Mary Logan's comment, privately, but never heard from her again, so I posted her comment and wrote an extensive Reply, as part of a lengthy, link filled entry on the issue of cycling in the OC.

To this day I have no clue if she ever read the piece, or what she may be doing to honor the memory of her daughter, and her obvious love of cycling.

There are 9 comments in response to the piece, 6 by readers, and 3 in response to them, by me.

Read my archive, and see my series about Riding the Back Bay, and stories about riding along the beach trail, and about the Share the Road Campaign, and the Share the Road ride in which I participated before you judge me so harshly for my opinions, and asking of important questions.

Posted by: Kiril, The Cycling Dude | Aug 24, 2007 3:55:49 AM

Cyclist are on the short end of the stick when it comes to places to actually ride.

I don't like the idea that when we do have a bike path, there are joggers/walkers going in both directions and taking up the entire bike path.

They give you the meanest looks and comments when you announce your presence with a polite "on your left".

Why can't they stay on the sidewalk?

Their presence typically makes the cyclist move out into the traffic lanes, where we are now subject to getting bounced by a passing vehicle.

If we ride on the sidewalk we're breaking the law.

Why shouldn't the foot traffic be subjected to a fine for using the bike routes?

The names or descriptions identify them as "BIKE" path or "BIKE" trail.

They're for cyclists !!!

Posted by: Big Wave Dave | Sep 23, 2008 6:59:38 PM

Sidewalks in Europe have bike lanes, rarely do you see them on the actual street.

Of course Europe is far ahead of us in the ways of traffic laws.

I ride a motorcycle so I somewhat feel your pain, now only if you could do the speed limit on a cycle I would be happy...especially the idiots in the huge flocks that veer off into the middle of the lane with traffic comming up behind them with a 55mph speed limit on that road.

You can't expect average Joe, going or coming, to give you a break and share the road if you are just biking for a "good old time".

You think that average Joe is gonna be happy if your convoy makes him late getting to work or going home after a long day at work?

Probably not.

Posted by: Seph | Nov 25, 2008 1:45:22 PM

There is always gonna be haters.

Posted by: Bell | Oct 11, 2010 1:14:50 PM

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