Joy Covey RIP in Woodside, CA

That cyclist fatality on SKyline Boulevard in the hills of San Mateo County yesterday afternoon was reportedly Joy Covey, former Amazon CFO and treasurer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. I’ve met her (very briefly), and her family and her extended circle of friends and colleagues have my most sincere condolences.

The initial reports were scant on details, but from the location every local cyclist knew immediately that Covey was almost certainly a victim of the infamous “left cross.”

Covey was riding her usual northbound loop. Subsequent media reports indeed tell us the 22 year old driver of an OnTrac delivery van turned left directly across covey’s path onto Elk Tree Road from soutbound Skyline. This view from Google Streetview shows the location of the crash.

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The speed limit on this part of Skyline Boulevard is 45 MPH, yet ABC reporter Vic Lee quotes a nearby resident who blames the victim for riding “too fast.” A recent Strava track for Covey shows her riding at 36 MPH, or 9 MPH below the speed limit, past Elk Tree Drive on September 9.


  1. Hi Richard,

    I know you’re trying to do the best reporting possible, especially given the sensitive nature of this incident…but…

    For Joy’s direction of travel…there is a clearly marked 35mph speed limit sign, posted up the hill from the crash site…this, I believe, is mainly due to the upcoming turns and continued downhill slope…but…

    It gets a little confusing once you get past the crash site, still heading north, where another speed limit sign, ups the speed to 40mph…then…

    The speed limit sign across the road, traveling south (uphill), shows a speed limit of 45mph…so…

    We can see how confusing this can become, depending on the location and direction of travel…

    I would also agree with you, based on her ridding history, that she traveled this road often and kept as close as possible to the speed limit, all things considered.

    And yes…may Joy Rest In Peace!

    Dan S.

  2. It is insane for any cyclist attempting to ride that road. The road is narrow and winding. The SUV had already begun the left turn when Joy came around the bend. Joy was not visible to the driver until he began the turn. It was too late then. Joy was traveling fast and she hit the van sideways. The driver wasn’t cited. It was an unfortunate accident. I would advise all cyclist to stay away from Woodside and Skyline roads. It is a death wish if you cycle there. Many people have died. Joy is gone far too soon. We miss her greatly. I feel sorry for the van driver. He has to live with the memory of that horrid day for the rest of his life.

    Jennifer Covey
    Joy’s Aunt

  3. Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for the additional insight and expressing your feelings regarding cycling on this road. You’re right, it’s a challenging road for cyclists for sure, especially when you combine all the elements…no real bike lane to allow greater separation from vehicles traveling the same direction, downhill slope, the corners and most importantly, shadows and the bright sun.

    It’s so hard to understand the passion one has for cycling, despite all the road hazards…some of us log hundreds of miles every week, like myself and travel various road types at different times of the day and week. There are also common rules of the road that some, not all, cyclists are aware of, depending on their riding experiences and whether or not they’ve even read the DMV vehicle codes.

    One of the common rules of the vehicle code for cyclists, is to “take the lane” when there are no other options available. I’m sure that Joy was doing this, since there is no bike lane on that section of road. Then you must control your speed, especially when descending and take more of an inside line when cornering. But, one thing you can’t always prepare for is how someone else will drive the same roads, whether they come from behind or opposite direction. So, like anyone driving a vehicle, cyclists must remain a defensive rider.

    I would like to be honestly with you. I also believe it was truly an accident. As soon as I heard of this crash on Thursday, after getting back from a 50 mile ride on a road similar to skyline…I wept…I was painfully reminded that tragedy happens and sometimes in the worst kind of way and timing.

    To help relieve my pain and anger with understanding, I started doing research on that section of road using Google maps street view and discovered that there was a great likelihood she was in the shadows and the sun was in his face. Especially, based on the time of day, direction of travel and might I add, a beautiful clear ridding day. This unfortunately, was a tragic combination of conditions for them both!

    I also truly believe that Joy was doing one of the things she loved in this life. I’ve created a folder labeled “Joy Coveys Life”, where I will keep a remembrance of her as I’ve done with many others over the years.

    My hope is that your grief will be continually filled with her “Joy”, in remembrance of all she was and still is to you and those she was closest to.

    Deepest and sincerest condolences to you and yours,
    Dan S.

  4. I ride a Harley and I don’t ride it on Woodside Road or Skyline. It is too dangerous. Thank you for your comments. Losing Joy affected the world. She was a beautiful person. We will always miss her.

    Jennifer Covey
    Joy’s Aunt

  5. Three seconds may seem like a lifetime when you’re faced with a decision that determines your fate…can’t that delivery wait, just three seconds more? to make sure its all clear…had I known what was to become of this day, I would not hesitate to have been three seconds late when I left the starting gate…but I had not a clue of what was to become of me and you…three seconds will determine my fate and your destiny…I would love for things to have been different, but see…oh dear!…it was just not meant to be.

  6. I am a fire fighter and not only do I live right off of Elk Tree Rd I was the first on scene with Joy when she crashed. It was a very unfortunate accident. At that time of day the sun comes through the trees and shines directly in the eyes of drivers making the left turn on to Elk Tree. It does not matter how fast or slow you are driving, you are completely blinded and cannot see. I have almost collided with several cyclists myself. My wife almost hit a cyclist one afternoon. He followed her home and thanked her for not hitting him. It scared the shit out of both of them. My advise is to spread the word in your cycling circles about the danger of that intersection and ” SLOW DOWN “. People that live in the area know how dangerous it can at different times of the day and year and are usually cautious. There have been two fatal crashes at that spot in the last three years and both involved vehicles from out of the area. On a side note, on 10/27/2011 I was driving up Hwy 84 when I witnessed a cyclist crash right in front of me. I stopped to render aid and we ended up transporting her for a shoulder injury. 6 months after the crash my wife and I were at Alice’s restaurant when a woman came up to me and thanked me for helping her when she crashed her bike. It was Joy.

  7. No matter how many comments we make on the dangers of that road, cyclists will still cycle on it and blame the drivers. That road was not made with cyclists in mind. I’m Joy Covey’s aunt and I thank the above off duty fire fighter who helped her. Not only did she have a fractured clavicle with that accident, she also had a concussion. With her final accident, approximately 8 months after the concussion, she lost her life. I just have to conclude that cycllists will always be on Woodside Road and Skyline and some will die and all the cyclilsits will blame the county or the drivers for their deaths. I won’t ride my Harley on that road. The insanity of the cyclist was so evident the night of her death when her friend who also cycles was ranting at the police regarding the dangers of Skylline Road. Yes, it is dangerous for cycllists…..stay off of it or you might be the next to see your maker. We grieve for Joy and the world lost a brilliant person filled with love. Joy was the perfect name for her.

  8. After my last post, I decided to go over to the site where the crash occurred. Joys passing really impacted my thinking around my own cycling and I also needed to better understand how this tragic incident happened.

    Being a Saturday with great weather, I knew there would be many cyclists. I parked at the store and walked the road. At the bottom of that section of Skyline road, the first thing I noticed was a speed limit sign of 40mph. It’s a fairly long straight up (south) to the bend before the crash site. There is really no way to walk the road, but there is a makeshift side trail that I mostly used. It’s a beautiful day, blue skies and lots of shadow casts from the redwoods that line the roadway. It’s also the same time-frame, much like the day of Joys incident.

    Just up the road a bit past Fremont Way, there’s another speed limit sign of 45mph. Then before the bend, there’s a (yellow caution curve) speed limit sign of 35mph. I did not catch that one from the earlier google maps view. At the bend, I started paying attention to the shadow casts from the driver’s perspective, walking into the middle of the lane when safe. It did not take long to see the major issues with the suns direction and the significant shadows on the opposite, downside of the road before the turn.

    I took the time to take some pictures and video of cyclist coming down the hill and counted the number of seconds, past the bend (above Elk Tree) to the turn. It was consistently 3-5 seconds, with an estimated average speed of 30mph. There was not one cyclist who was jamming it down that section of road. Most cyclists looked to be concentrating on the roadway and what was ahead. During my almost two hours there, I watched most cars turning left onto Elk Tree very quickly, with a few making complete stops before turning. One motorist turned close to a cyclist, who was in the shadows.

    I also drove the road from both ends. Even wearing sun glasses, it was difficult to see in the shadows. Coming from the top side down, I kept it at the 35mph speed limit and counted the seconds to Elk Tree after the curve. I also used my gps to verify speeds and timings.

    Not too long after I arrived (while taking some pictures) a car turned at Elk Tree, then stopped, turned around and came back down to ask me if I knew Joy. We talked for about 5 minutes. He’s a longtime resident who personally knew her and was very familiar with the issues, especially for residence making the turn. I was encouraged to find out, that he and his family were discussing how to improve or help prevent needless crashes at that turn. He seemed serious about finding a solution.

    One thing to note is that part of the area in within the unincorporated boundaries.

    Another thought came to mind, with the idea of what would Joy do, if she still could, to help prevent this from ever happening again to another cyclist. I’m still wondering?

  9. You just don’t get it. Stay off that road. Joy suffered two fractures clavicles over a period of six years and a concussion on that road. We had another friend who lost a child cycling on that road. Now Joy died last month on that road. It is too dangerous. I was also an ER nurse and worked at Mills and Peninsula Hospitals and we had serious injuries and fatalities from that road. Please cease to endanger your lives, there are other areas that are safer. If Joy was here, she would say it isn’t worth it and I’m sure her 9 year old son would agree. It will never be safe.

    Jennifer Covey

  10. Well, it’s really not a matter of “not getting it”. It’s more about, what are we getting? That concerns me.

    Trying to understand your logic when it comes to the hazards of cycling or motorcycling, is something I fail to get!

    What it means, if I understand your reasoning, is that we should never travel on roads like those in Woodside, no matter what. That is, unless (as you’ve made very clear), we have a death wish. May I dare say, that would be farthest from the truth, especially in Joys case.

    The other thing I’ve gotten. Is that we need to determined within ourselves or collectively, how we should act or react to given circumstances. With our own understanding of how things should be for the greater good of society.

    I can understand your hardened nature as a result of being an ER nurse. I once had a roommate who was an ER nurse at Stanford. We lived in the East Bay. He also owned a Buell motorcycle and after finishing his swing-shift would try to see how fast he could make it home, doing at times 120mph. To be quite honest, that made absolutely no sense to me, but like I’ve always said…to each their own.

    Although I feel you’re trying to prevent another tragic and needless death on the Woodside roadways. A much better alternative (whenever possible), is to come up with a WWJoyD solution. But then again, you’d really need to know her and understand her passions for life, to do that.

    My hope is that some will come up with a solution in her honor.

  11. To Dan S.
    I did know Joy very well and I knew her passions for life. Your comments are cruel. What kind of statement is “WWJoyD” as if making fun of the seriousness of the accident and her death? I would never ride my Harley at 120mph nor would any sane person. Joy and I were about the same age and I’ve known her for many decades and shared many of the same passions. I also cycle but I cycle where there are bike lanes and where traffic can see me. I would think when you post something regarding the death of a fellow cyclist, you would do it with some compassion.

  12. To covyzoo,
    I spent my teen years living in San Mateo in the Crystal Springs area. In the early 70’s, during summer, we would ride our makeshift steel framed bikes over the 92 Skyline pass to Half Moon Bay for the beaches . Not one of us had a severe crash. Yet, in High School, we had one of these friends die in the surf at Hidden Beach during a party.

    I’ve cycled, mountain biked, motorcycled and driven around Skyline, La Honda, Woodside, Canada Road, Crystal Springs for years. I’ve never had a bad crash, nor did anyone I was with. Yet, my best friend who had a beautiful Harley Fat Boy died suddenly at age 45. His younger brother got the Harley and he has a nice resting place in Skylawn with a view of the ocean. Go figure!

    I’ve seen and been in bad crashes that seemingly come out of nowhere. Most, you can never plan for or be fully prepared for. My worst incident was having a car (student driver) turn right in front of me while I was doing ~25mph. I was able to sideswipe it to avoid a complete head-on. But still, a concussion, bruised shoulder, contusions, lacerations, road rash, etc. And this was in an industrial area on a Sunday with very little traffic.

    Yet, a woman cyclist (mid 50’s) I know was riding on what most would consider a safe paved trail, hit a bump/dip (tree root) in the shadows, went down and broke her neck. Luckily not paralyzed, but very close. She was able to recover and still cycles today.

    If you’ve been cycling any length of time, crashes are common and so are concussions and broken clavicles. In rarer instances, you have a tragic death, which in most cases are totally preventable.

    I’m trying to figure out what your real motivation is for posting here. To educate, motivate or legislate? I believe it’s the latter. You’d shutdown every road you deemed dangerous from cyclists, if you could. As for me, I’m not buying you!

    You call yourself a cyclist, but just because you have one and take it out every now and again, doesn’t make you one. A true cyclist loves it and is always looking for the next opportunity to ride somewhere. Most are adventurous and like to ride in different areas which will inevitably mean different types of roads and terrains. And some are concerned or involved in making the cycling experience safer and better for all.

    You say you only ride in bike lanes. It’s preposterous to think you can only travel in bike lanes and actually ride a bicycle anywhere besides around the block from where you live. Most cyclists like to ride from home, because many are concerned with the environment and it’s a hassle to drive, so they leave their home and trek where they want to end up as a complete ride. This might actually involve riding more that two miles at a time.

    As for WWJoyD, you still don’t have a clue and for that reason, I believe you really never fully understood Joy, even though you knew her. I’ve had many blood relatives that I’ve known, but few have really understood me. Its human nature, why do you think there is so much strife in family relationships? Why do you think those relationships outside of family ties can be much more understanding and beneficial? You can call your relationship with Joy whatever you want, but its evident to me, that it was more superficial than not.

    Joy was more about finding solutions to problems, not exacerbating or ignoring them.

    Again, here are some other examples of why you haven’t a clue.

    In your first comment, you use the word “insane” to describe anyone who travels that road. Implying that we cyclists are, including Joy!

    Then you say “I would advise all cyclist to stay away from Woodside and Skyline roads”.

    Now to me, I would deem that statement as “insane” logic!

    Then you go on to express more sympathy for the van driver, than Joy!

    Then you say “I ride a Harley and I don’t ride it on Woodside Road or Skyline. It is too dangerous.” Implying that you know what’s best for us all.

    Then you go even further in your comment “No matter how many comments we make on the dangers of that road, cyclists will still cycle on it and blame the drivers”.

    Without question, telling us cyclists how stupid and callous we are. This is further supported by your follow-on comment…

    “I just have to conclude that cycllists will always be on Woodside Road and Skyline and some will die and all the cyclilsits will blame the county or the drivers for their deaths.”

    What? “ALL the cyclists” will blame someone else!

    Then you tell us again how insane we are, “The insanity of the cyclist was so evident the night of her death when her friend who also cycles was ranting at the police regarding the dangers of Skylline Road.”

    You call out Joy’s friend for going off on the cops the night of her death. Not even considering for one minute that she has a valid point to make and ironically, it’s the same message you’ll been telling us all-a-long. Talk about insensitivity to ones feelings and emotions over a tragic and preventable incident!

    “Yes, it is dangerous for cyclists …..stay off of it or you might be the next to see your maker”.

    Again, you know what’s best for us all, in a “god” like manner!

    I’ve reached my limit of your illogical non-sense and accusatory “hardened” nature towards us real cyclists. I’m done responding to you!

  13. Good. your callousness sickens me. You tell me I don’t know my niece? You tell me I have a hardened heart? You have no idea WHAT you’re talking about. I’m grieving but you continue your ranting at me? I’ve made may point and you’ve made your’s. Go ride wherever you want. You go ahead and cycle on roads where it is dangerous. But don’t you DARE tell me what I know about Joy and what I don’t know about Joy. I don’t want nor need your attacks..

  14. Here is something to help remind us, that cyclists have right too!


    Every person riding a bicycle or riding or driving an animal upon a highway shall have all the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle as set forth in this chapter, except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.






    Based in Palo Alto, we host recreational road bike rides virtually every day of the week on the Peninsula and South Bay, and occasionally farther afield. We have rides suitable for beginners, as well as social rides for experienced cyclists and challenging rides for dedicated enthusiasts.

    ENDUE Classic

    Grab a Friend and Come Ride!

    ENDUE Classic is an annual celebration of life and its wonderful gifts. Ride with us and enjoy the beauty of the SF Bay Peninsula while raising awareness of the people who want to ride but can’t; those with developmental disabilities like Down’s syndrome and Autism. If you are able to ride, then we hope you grab a friend and join us at the ENDUE Classic.


    Tour de Cure Red Riders

    You are why we ride! We celebrate everyone who lives with type 1 and type 2 diabetes as our heroes on the day of the event. If you have diabetes, join our community of riders!


    On Saturday July 13, join hundreds of cyclists participating in Breathe California’s annual Bike 4 Breath Ride and help raise funds for clean air and lung health programs in communities across the Bay Area. The family-friendly event is open to rides of all ages and abilities, with 5 scenic routes along the peninsula to choose from (10, 18, 30, 50 and 63 miles long).


    The San Mateo County Parks Foundation, TdP Honorary Chairman Supervisor Carole Groom, and Honorary Tour Host and Dirty Shirt legend Mark Simon welcome you to the Tour de Peninsula, a perennial highlight of the Bay Area’s social calendar for outdoor recreationists. This family ride offers a variety of bicycle routes on beautiful courses designed to suit everyone from young children and first time riders to serious cyclists.


    The ride is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation and the Almanac. All proceeds are used to support Rotary scholarships, numerous other Rotary Foundation projects, and the Almanac’s Holiday Fund drive, which contributes more than $150,000 a year to 10 local nonprofits. Shelter Network, Second Harvest Food Bank, and St. Anthony’s Dining Room are among the beneficiaries of the Holiday Fund.


    What a beautiful day it was on Saturday, September 28, 2013. With 800 cyclists and 120 volunteers, Canary Challenge raised over $800,000. Donations directly benefit Stanford Cancer Institute and the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection. Donations will be accepted through October 31, 2013.

  15. Hey all,

    I hate to do this, but I’m going to close comments on this post now. I do appreciate the insights from all sides of the issue, but also know emotions are raw and getting a little heated.

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