A cyclist was killed Tuesday morning after he was passed and struck by a cement truck in Santa Cruz. According to this news report, the truck driver overtook the cyclist where there isn’t room to pass, and the truck driver never apparently didn’t know he hit somebody until authorities found the truck several blocks away. According to witnesses, the truck driver clipped the cyclist, who fell under the wheels of the cement truck.
The intersection of Mission Street and Bay Street in Santa Cruz is one of the busier intersections in town. Bay Street provides access to the University of California in Santa Cruz, and Mission Street is California State Route 1 and a major arterial through town. Mission Street is too narrow to share and People Power, the cycling advocacy group in Santa Cruz County, has been pushing Caltrans to install “cyclists may use entire lane” signs on Mission, as this is the second fatality at Mission and Bay in nine months. If the truck driver passed the cyclist, he is fully culpable in this “accident.”
People Power worked with the Santa Cruz City Council to put up signs on Mission that advise cyclists and drivers that cyclists are encouraged to use the full right lane. This is perfectly legal according to California Vehicle Code (which states that bicyclists can use the full right-hand lane when a lane is too narrow for “a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane”) and was approved by the City Council.
Caltrans has refused to put up the signs, stating that they don’t think it is safe for cyclists to ride in the lane, even after the Santa Cruz Police, the Traffic Safety Coalition, and others have pointed out that it is not safe to ride to the right of cars and trucks. The only safe way to do so is in the middle of the right lane. Caltrans refuses to put these signs up. In the meantime, cyclists, take the lane at this location for your own safety.