Left cross injures professor

Santa Clara University professor Bahram Saghari was seriously injured after Juan Antonio Rodriguez-Gallegos apparently made a left turn across Saghari’s path in Los Gatos early Wednesday morning.

According to the Mercury News, Saghari remains in critical condition at Valley Medical Center. The 52 year old professor was biking to work, riding in the bike lane alongside stopped traffic on Los Gatos Boulevard when Rodriguez-Gallegos, coming from the opposite direction, shot through an apparent gap in traffic, pulling a “left cross” and fracturing Saghari’s skull.

Rodriguez-Gallegos drove Ford Explorer and was cited for driving without a license. In California, about 12% of drivers operate their vehicles without a valid license but are responsible for 20% of fatal collisions. My layman’s accident reconstruction shows the intersection where this happened.

Bahram Saghari accident reconstruction

This is a classic left cross. I’m not putting blame on the victim here — the driver, IMO, is clearly responsible for ensuring the way is clear before he makes a left turn — but it’s instructive for the rest of us to note that when passing traffic (and I do it all the time in the Bay area), you should watch for things like this left cross maneuver.

Mike Rosenburg’s story in the Merc News is … interesting. Rosenburg leads off with the victim “rode his bicycle into an SUV.” (Murph already wrote a letter to Rosenburg taking him to task for putting implicit blame on the cyclist.) But when describing the actions of the driver, Rosenburg uses very passive language: “Just then, a Ford Explorer made a left turn through the stopped traffic using the “keep clear” space….” As if the truck just all on its own volition just up and ran through that intersection! This is exactly the kind of language author Tom Vanderbilt addresses in his accidental journalism series on traffic crash reporting.

As per usual in these kinds of things, “the cause of the accident remains under investigation.” Best wishes for Bahram Saghari — I sincerely hope he pulls through this.


  • Anonymous
    May 27, 2011 - 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Is it technically filtering if you are in a bike lane?  I’ve always thought of filtering as passing vehicles on a shoulder or gutter.  If you’re in a marked bike lane, you’re just travelling in your traffic lane.

  • May 27, 2011 - 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Bob Shanteau corrected me on this as well. I’ll edit the text to better reflect reality.

  • May 29, 2011 - 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful graphic and analysis of the “news” story. I’m always surprised with the language the Merc uses when reporting bike-involved collisions. I trying to decide if I’m willing to go read the comments section.

  • Anonymous
    February 4, 2014 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Sad to inform you that Bahram passed away last week from the injuries that he sustained in this crash.

  • Anonymous
    September 19, 2015 - 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Juan.

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