73 year old cyclist killed near Watsonville

CHP reported a 73 year old man lost his life when he collided with a Pontiac SUV Tuesday afternoon on Salinas Road near Lewis Road in Pajaro, California.  Pajaro is the small Monterey County  community across the Pajaro River from Watsonville.

Initial reports say the cyclist suddenly turned left in front of the northbound vehicle.   I initially dismissed this as “Single Witness Suicide Swerve,” so-called because so many bike-vs-car collisions leave only a single witness who inevitably claims the cyclist suddenly swerved  in front of the driver.  News photos show a bent rear tire on the bike and  smashed windshield on the Pontiac, suggesting a hit-from-behind at high speed.

Santa Cruz County cyclists who know this road,  however,  tell me a left turn across traffic is plausible.   Sight lines are poor, traffic is fast, and close calls are apparently common on this popular recreational route.

The cyclist was in road kit and riding a road bike.  If he was running GPS, hopefully the Highway Patrol can makes use of that information in their investigation.

More from:

  Santa Cruz Sentinel


  1. Its a two lane road, so passing distance can be at least 10 feet. I wonder if he was given more like 1 foot, or less. At the Lewis intersection note the stop sign road marker is completed faded, you can just see a bit of it in the other lane. Past the stop sign there is a debris field of rubble and trash extending into Salinas road. Also note on street view there is a car waiting one car length past the stop sign, blocking where a bike would pass, as the google car passes the intersection.

    One possibility is that he was trying to go around either a car sticking out at the intersection, or around the pile of rocks and trash. Either way, its hard to imagine if given >3ft of passing distance there would have been a problem.

    Some street cleaning and repainting the stop marker on the road might be nice.

  2. He was hit in the left lane so he left the shoulder, crossed across one lane, and was hit in the rear. What is the possibility that the driver was texting. Of course she won’t tell the cops that. She would just say he turned left in front of me. Can’t see how the cop could take that as the truth but it seems he did without seeing the accident. Gotta wonder.

  3. Phone records can be easily accessed by the police, but it never seems to be reported if the check was done or not. They always report if the driver was under the influence, but texting is now more common and shown to be more dangerous than even drinking. Any prudent collision reconstruction or investigation should include a phone record check. It seems these investigations are way too cursory.

    Maybe a state law is need to require phone record checks for all collisions, not just checks for alcohol.

  4. KION said a final story would come out soon and CHP would release name of victim. That was a week ago and nothing yet. I suspect there is more to this that might never come out.

  5. If the final release of information does not demonstrate sufficient analysis, as is too common, then the local advocacy group should submit a CPRA request for the investigation records, as part of their Vision Zero program.

    If enough cursory investigations get CPRA requests, maybe the quality of the investigations will improve, or if not then complaints can be filed.

    Vision Zero should not mean zero visibility of the investigation.

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