Cupertino: Gravel truck vs child on a bike

Big Rig

The driver of a gravel truck ran over and killed a teenager on a bicycle this morning in Cupertino, CA.

According to news reports, the as-yet unidentified teen was cycling west in the bike lane on McClellan Road when the driver of a tandem gravel truck swerved into the bike lanein what appears to be a classic SMIDSY. The driver is cooperating with the police in their investigation, which likely means Santa Clara Attorney Jeff Rosen’s office pass on prosecution of this collision.

This fatality occurred just as the Governor Highway Safety Association released their report on American bicycling fatalities, which illustrated a 23% increase in California cycling deaths between 2010 and 2012.

With sincere condolences to the family of this child, along with classmates, teachers and friends. The cyclist appeared to do everything right and still lost his life.


  1. This is a bit of a problem intersection. I time gaps and signal and take the lane here before the train tracks to avoid this exact scenario. The bike lane essentially becomes the RTOL where the buffer begins, and Cupertino did everything by the books by dashing the merge point and placing bike sensors on either side of the divider at the stop line (good move). Another textbook treatment would be greening the merge and maybe placing a yellow caution sign (signs are useless IMHO). Maybe a sharrows in the RTOL, but people for the most part have no idea what a sharrows means.

    The problem isn’t the infrastructure here, though, it’s traffic flow and contention for placement at this light when it’s red and cars back up in the straight-through lane (between cyclists heading straight and drivers coming up on them who want to turn right). I’ve been purposely and aggressively cut off on more than one occasion here by right-turners who feel their convenience outweighs the value of my safety (and many who fail to signal). Never again.

    It’s likely the truck had to swing wide to take this right, and it’s also possible he decided to at the last minute due to traffic backing up at the high school by parents dropping off kids at this time. Who knows if he signaled, and who knows if the boy had put himself to the right of the truck with or without knowing he was turning right. Teen boys aren’t notorious for good decisions, unfortunately (I’m not victim-blaming here!). Clearly the driver didn’t see the boy, but drivers around here also aren’t notorious for signaling or checking their side-view mirrors…

    I’m guessing he was heading to the quarry, but he should have been on Steven’s Creek, though maybe taking a shortcut as there was construction there last I rode it. I agree with Bike-Scoot – this is not a good route for those trucks, and a weight-limit should be in place here.

    Analysis aside, my heartfelt condolences go out to his family. This is exactly the sort of thing we’re working hard to prevent as bike educators and advocates.

  2. I think its interesting to ask what the Dutch would have done to fix this issue. I seriously doubt they would ever allow such large trucks on this road, but if even without them I’m guessing they would convert it to a physically separated lane that would run all the way to the Bubb intersection, slightly curving it around the corner to allow eye to eye contact before crossing the intersection on a painted lane. This eliminates the need to merge the two lanes together.

    35100. (c) says the city is allowed to impose a 96 inch width limit on this road, which would exclude most big big rigs. It seems like this would be their immediate action to contain the issue, then hire a Dutch consultant for a road re-design.

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