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Ways to Avoid Crashes When Biking Monterey County

Infrastructure plays a very big role in preventing collisions between cars and bikes. That’s the topic of “Bike Lanes For High Volume Traffic Area: Effort to protect Monterey County cyclists,” a 2/12/14 story by reporter Cassandra Arsenault of KION. Cassie’s story includes an interview with Frank Henderson, who was himself struck by a car years ago while biking. Frank went on to continue as an avid bike commuter, and he also became a League of American Bicyclists licensed instructor. Among his community volunteerism–besides the Monterey Bay Aquarium volunteering mentioned in the KION story–Frank teaches bike repair/maintenance and safety to teen boys at the Monterey County Youth Center.

Kudos to Cassandra for responsible coverage. Instead of speculating about an accident for which details were not yet known, Cassie used the tragedy as an opportunity to educate the public.

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On March 26, 2015, a collision occurred resulting in the death of  Rogelio Vasquez  Lopez. Click here for more information, including funeral notice, police report, and lots of related tips that may help avoid such collisions.

In an Oct 31, 2013 crash, the Monterey County Herald story reported that a 17-year-old may not have heard a bus driver’s warning horn because of ear buds.  (By CA law, people who bike–or drive–are to have only one ear bud in.) Many people don’ t know that, so share with others:

Avoid a ticket, avoid a crash – bike law summary flier

Here’s another local crash: Just after Christmas 2012, a nine-year-old Salinas girl suffered a broken leg when she rode her new bike in front of a pick-up truck traveling 25mph.

“Her helmet-protected head left ‘a pretty good-sized dent’ in the hood,” according to police Cmdr. Sheldon Bryan.  But the bike-friendly Salinas Police Department didn’t want the experience to spoil the girl’s holidays or to stop her from biking again, so they gifted her a new bike and helmet promptly.

Thanks, officers.  To learn more about Monterey County’s bike-friendly police departments, click here.

Ways to avoid crashes

Keeping the local bike scene cool–including preventing crashes–is a multi-pronged effort; click to learn more. And

Read on…

(The reports and tips below were previously published August 2, 2012 and May 25, 2011.)

These aren’t the kinds of bike scenes we like in Monterey County.  Yet on July 17 and July 31, 2012,  just such scenes were part of the landscape in our county seat:  bicycle accidents, with injuries. Whether driving, biking, skateboarding, walking, or otherwise getting around, there are things you can do to help you, and others, reach destinations alive and free of injury.

For everyone, please, no distracted travel!

For traffic planners, engineers, and decision makers, please keep in mind that active transportation (walking, biking, skating) are more popular all the time, with residents and visitors.  Why? There are so many benefits!  When planning for route improvements, please give bicycling and other active transport serious consideration.  As U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood announced in March 2010, now is “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”  As the New York Times later reported,  Secretary La Hood reiterated his commitment, saying, “This is what Americans want.”

[See Secretary LaHood greeting people on bikes in Monterey County; click here.]

What can bicyclists do?

For people on bikes, along with advocating for better bike infrastructure, the most important thing you can do is to ride safely and predictably!

How? See Bicycle Monterey’s section on California bicycle laws and personal safety–with tips for kids.  There you’ll find plenty of tips, including links to videos and other resources, such as Bike Safe’s How to avoid getting hit by cars.

Remember that youth under age 18–whether biking or a passenger on a bicycle–are required by CA law to wear a helmet.  In the 7/17 accident, the children were wearing bicycle helmets, which police said helped them avoid more serious injury.  In the 7/31 accident, the boy was not wearing a helmet; head injuries were among the listed injuries he sustained.

Also, it is surprising to many people that while biking on a sidewalk may seem safer, in most cases, it is not!   See the sidewalk info in this site’s CA bike laws and personal safety.  There you’ll also find tips on how to navigate intersections.

Below are official press releases from the Salinas Police Department about the 7/17 and 7/31 accidents.  But first, consider…

Maybe it’s healthier not to bike?

An accident can happen to anyone.  And as Dr. Hugh Stallworth, recently retired director of the Monterey County Health Department said to Sara Rubin, reporter for the Monterey County Weekly (click for 6/2/12 story), he’s never seen anything like the current childhood obesity and diabetes epidemic.

Clearly the dad out biking with his kids on 7/17/12 knows biking benefits his children’s long-term health.  And the boy who had a bike accident on 7/31 apparently had parents who knew, too, that providing him a bike is beneficial to a healthy childhood–and adulthood.

Whatever the causes of accidents, helping more people to bike safely is something we can all be a part of.  As Dr. Stallworth said regarding the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemic, “It’s going to have to be an entire community effort. If we don’t solve that one, the prediction is this is the first generation where parents might outlive their kids.”

Our Monterey County police officers know–and support by their own fine example–that biking also has many benefits beyond health-building physical exercise.

Want to help more youth, and adults, bike safely? 

For starters, refer them to the above-mentioned California bicycle laws and personal safety–with tips for kids.  Found there are linked to such resources as urban cycling videos on how to “take the lane,” which is indeed legal.  Or just  click here, then scroll down to the subheader “Taking the lane,” and watch a video on that subject, and another video on making left turns.

You can also print and distribute fliers, such as the following.  These fliers all include a link to the Bicycling Monterey website.  Once here, they can access that bike laws and safety section, Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide, and many, many more resources to help children and teens, and adults, enjoy biking safely.

Download printable PDFs here:
  1. Be Cool, Be Safe – Bike Law Summary & Advocating for Biking
  2. Leyes de ciclismo de CA – Laws for bicyclists in CA (Spanish, English) – Summary
  3. Bicycling Monterey mini-fliers with HER Helmet Thursdays

(For other Bicycling Monterey posters and mini-fliers, click here.)

Thanks for public service reporting

Thanks to Santa Cruz-based news reporter Matt de Nesnera for referring Jacqueline Tualla of KION to Bicycling Monterey.

Jacqueline responded not just with an accident story, but by contacting Bicycling Monterey to get bike safety tips for the KION audience. 

For the interview, KION was referred by Bicycling Monterey this time to Jan Valencia, 2012 TAMC Golden Helmet award winner and Answer Man for Velo Club Monterey. Although KION’s story is a brief one,  Jan’s example and a few of his comments were included in the 8/1/12 video, “9 Year Old Bicyclist Injured Crossing the Street.”  And in KION’s print edition, they referred readers to and for safety tips.

And much gratitude to emergency services personnel

These professionals are quick to assist–police officers, fire department, ambulance, and air-ambulance!

Press Releases

Thank you to the City of Salinas Police Department for providing this information for public reference.


Release Date/Time: 7/17/2012 2:41 PM
Incident: Vehicle/Bicycle Injury Accident
Report #: 12-070758
Date: Tuesday, 7/17/2012
Time: 12:19 PM
Location: N. Main St / Alvin Dr

Agustin Pirgen, 34, was the front rider of a tandem bicycle traveling south on N. Main Street’s eastern sidewalk. Pirgen was carrying two children on the bike at the time. On the rear seat of the bicycle was a three-year-old child; and the second, a six-year-old child, was riding in a pull-behind bicycle trailer.

At the intersection of N. Main and Alvin Dr., Pirgen rode his bicycle into the crosswalk in front of the path of a vehicle traveling westbound making a right turn onto N. Main St. from Alvin. The vehicle, driven by Apolo Villalobos, 29, struck the bicycle and the trailer. Pirgen suffered  minor injuries and was taken to Natividad Hospital for treatment. One of the children had abrasions to the left knee and stomach. The second child suffered abrasions and a possible broken leg. Both children were transported by air-ambulance to San Jose Regional Hospital.

Pirgen was determined to be most at fault for riding his bicycle in the wrong direction in the roadway and failing to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.

Both children were wearing bicycle helmets at the time of the accident, which helped the children avoid more serious injury.

Release Authorized by: Miguel Cabrera
Telephone: (831) 758-7250

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Release Date/Time: 8/1/2012 8:43 AM
Incident: Injury Traffic Accident (Vehicle/ Bicycle)
Report #: 12-071456
Date: Tuesday, 7/31/2012
Time: 4:09 PM
Location: Fitzgerald St. & Bradbury St.

Officers responded to a vehicle versus bicycle traffic accident with injuries in the area of Fitzgerald St. near Bradbury St. A nine-year-old boy sustained serious injury consisting of head injuries, fracture of his upper arm, and a possible concussion. The boy was flown to a Bay area hospital for treatment.

The vehicle involved was driving westbound on Fitzgerald St. when the nine-year-old riding a bicycle failed to yield at the intersection of Bradbury St., colliding with the side of the vehicle. The impact caused the boy to be knocked down off his bicycle, resulting in the listed injuries.  The boy was not wearing his helmet.

Investigation is continuing.

Release Authorized by: Miguel Cabrera
Telephone: (831) 758-7348

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Photos in this post are from a May 25, 2011 accident in the City of Monterey, at the corner of Sloat and Del Monte Avenue.

This post was published on 2 August 2012. One or more changes last made to this post on 4 February 2020.

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