Visiting the accident site (Skyline bicycle fatality)

The view from the direction the delivery truck was heading. Skyline & Elk Tree Road, just south of Sky Londa.
The view from the direction the delivery truck was heading. Skyline & Elk Tree Road, just south of Sky Londa. Photo labeling is confusing; the van was heading south, the cyclist was heading north. in Google Maps

I’ve ridden this stretch of road literally 2000+ times, every single Tuesday & Thursday morning, for the past 25+ years. Any close calls in all that time? None. We watch for cars turning from Elk Tree Road onto Skyline, since you can’t know for sure that they’ve spotted you and are going to wait until you pass before heading across the road. But that’s not the scenario for the accident 9/18/2013; it was a delivery truck coming up Skyline, not from the side road, and it made a turn across Skyline into her (location in Google Maps).

I rode up there with my son to check it out this morning, as I always do when there’s a serious accident involving a cyclist on “my” roads, and when I have questions that haven’t been answered. And in similar past situations, what I have seen myself is often at odds with the “official” write-up. Unless you have a cyclist on the scene during the investigation, assumptions (leading to conclusions) occur that are often at odds with reality.

Kevin within a few feet of where the delivery van hit Joy Covey. There are flowers today at the street sign; soon I’m sure we’ll see a Ghost Bike.

It’s nearly impossible to come up with a scenario in which anything Joy Covey did was at odds with legal operation of a bicycle (or any other vehicle). She was descending a stretch of Skyline where the grade is such that you can coast at a reasonable speed (26-33mph) but it’s nearly-impossible to exceed the speed limit of 40mph without really working it, and it’s not a section of road where people do that (coming just after a small climb so you’re tired and happy to take it easy for a bit). We may even know her speed with near-100% accuracy, since she’s on Strava and probably recorded the ride. Looking at her past Strava rides, I’m guessing they’ll find she was traveling at 32mph or less at that point; her prior 3 rides were 32, 32 & 31.7mph. This is not a speed demon terrorizing others on the road. At that speed, there’s about 6-7 seconds during which she was visible to a car at the Elk Tree Road intersection. That’s plenty of time to safely make a go/no-go decision on making the left-hand turn across oncoming traffic. Obviously, if there was oncoming traffic, you don’t make the turn.

But the driver DID make that turn. Did he do so without looking? Did he come up the road without stopping? Making the reasonable assumption that he had no malice towards cyclists, why did he make that turn? Did he see her but think cyclists travel much slower than 32mph on a descent, thus terribly misjudging things? I don’t know. The only thing I know is that I’m not going to believe this to be an “unfortunate accident” that just happened, while operating a vehicle legally. We are required to be aware of our surroundings when driving, when cycling. That doesn’t change that something was an “accident” but it does require acceptance (or deliverance) of responsibility on the part of the person who caused it.

Could Joy Covey have done something to prevent it? I don’t know, and even if she could have, even if, lit up like a Christmas Tree and blasting an air horn could have prevented it, that doesn’t change who’s at fault, and it’s reasonable to operate a bicycle without retinal-burning lights and ear-splitting air horns. And yet people will use the availability of flashing bright lights to essentially blame the victim if she wasn’t riding with them. I don’t know if she was; the odds would favor that she wasn’t running with daytime flashing lights, because most cyclists don’t.

And this is where it gets very, very frustrating. I strongly believe in bright daytime flashing lights; I think they greatly enhance the likelihood of your being seen on the road, but not for the reasons people think. Not because it makes you more visible at any given time, but because it increases the length of time you might be visible. Why is it important to be visible a very long way away and not just 500ft or so (which would be plenty of time for someone to notice you and react accordingly)? Because people “zone out” from time to time while driving, and if they happen to “zone out” during that critical last 500ft, bad things can happen. And please let me know if you haven’t, at some point, been driving along and suddenly realized that you can’t play back the last 30 seconds in your mind, because somehow you were on autopilot, going through the motions but not really being aware.

But I can’t send out an email telling people to make themselves more visible, suggesting that they use bright daytime flashing lights and wear brighter clothes, because it would seem both opportunistic (because after all I sell such things) and also give people a chance to blame the victim.

The saddest irony is that Tuesday night I saw a story about how dangerous motorcycling is, with very scary statistics, and reflected upon how much safer bicycling is. I was thinking about writing something up to help calm those who are afraid to get out there on the roads because they know someone who got hit, or have been hit by a car themselves. I was going to point out that I’ve ridden well over 500,000 miles with only two minor incidents with cars, and how much more likely it would be that the same number of miles driving might have involved as many accidents but possibly with much worse outcomes.

I was going to write how we are not helpless on the roads; how we survive in part by predictable behavior (which starts with stopping at stop signs and lights and following traffic rules in general) and also through things like flashing headlights and tail lights, even in the daytime. I still believe those things. I still leave the garage (as I did this morning) not thinking that I’m doing something I might not come back from, that I might be leaving my wife and kids and business without me. I still feel safer when I’m on my bike, in control, than I do when I’m in a car that somebody else is driving. Because I do have control, because I have influence over things that affect my safety when riding my bike, even on busy roads.

But think how awful all of that would sound to a friend of Joy Covey’s, or her son. Or one of my kids, if something happened to me. Sure, they’d be dragging out the cliché about how I died doing something I loved, but they’d also be asking themselves what if it wasn’t so important that I rode that day?   –Mike–

Added thought: How would this have played out in the media if it had been a car that the delivery van had turned into, and not a bike? Would anyone have questioned that the driver of the car that had been plowed into might be at fault?

44 thoughts on “Visiting the accident site (Skyline bicycle fatality)

  1. Thank You for this.
    Suggested correction on the captions in 1st photo:
    Truck was headed south on Ca 35(from SkyLonda), Joy was riding North on Ca 35(From OLH rd toward SkyLonda)…
    Sincerest Condolences to Joy’s Friends and Family.

  2. If the collision had been with a car instead of a bike, it wouldn’t have even made the news. No fingers pointed at the driver. The van would have clearly been at fault (failure to yield right of way).

    I think all of your thoughts are valid, Mike. I just want to shake everybody I know sometimes and say “put on some lights, wear visible clothing, slow down on blind turns, follow the law, remember, it’s just a ride!” Your desire to promote safety measures is not capitalistic. It’s because you LOVE this sport and you’ve been around a long time, long enough to know that life is fragile, riders are vulnerable, and risk and thrill are overrated.

    1. The dark berm is relevant if she was wearing dark clothing…I rarely see cyclists dressed that way. Typically there is bright coloring in their kits which stand out against a backround that is dark, but only if you look. If you are mindlessly driving along focused on your task at hand or even distracted by a phone or clipboard with a delivery address you cannot see and that is a problem.

    2. Wayne,

      This photo was taken early in the morning, but the incident occurred at 1:30 pm, at an hour when that dark berm would not have appeared dark, and when sunlight would have flooded the east side of the road. Of course, the driver was driving south into the sun, but he should have adjusted his driving accordingly.

  3. Thank you for writing about this tragedy and photographing the location from both directions. I found myself wondering about sight lines and reaction time. The availability of Strava data should make an important contribution to the investigation… we should insist the authorities should make use of it.

    Based on my own cycling (and driving) experience it’s become increasingly clear that the percentage of drivers who indicate their turns has dropped dramatically. Only the driver knows whether he indicated or not. I don’t doubt that he either did not see her or miscalculated his turn BUT I know she would have seen HIM. I fear he did not indicate, and Joy did not have the extra second(s) that would have allowed her to brake sufficient to reduce or avoid the impact.

    This Kickstarter “RidEye” project for a bike black-box camera is a good idea. I think cars should also be outfitted with black boxes and collision sensors so that investigators have specific data about speed, direction and signaling.

    I’ve purposely avoided the use of the term “accident” because this appears to be a case of negligence.

    1. i couldn’t agree more! he should have had his indicator on, and she would have slowed down at’s apparent to me that he didn’t and was only paying attention to finding his turn and not stopping, turning on his indicator, and making sure it was safe before casually turning right in front of my sister! her impact was so severe it literally broke her heart and she didn’t even make it to the hospital. she didn’t deserve to die like that due to the negligence of a young driver who didn’t know the area…she was on her way home to pick up her 8 year old son from school…i’m so distraught i can’t eat or sleep. i want him prosecuted!

  4. Thank you Mike. Always thought provoking you are.
    I commute everyday on heavily trafficked roads. I’ve even been hit because the driver “did not see me” yet I had a blinking front light and it was light out. Fact is (my opinion) drivers dont pay attention and many dont care. Its usually we are on their roads. Bike lanes are only an extension of their lane. It wont stop me nor most others from riding our bike. It is very disturbing that accidents like this happen because of ignorant and apathetic people.
    Be careful out there.

  5. I have ridden this stretch of road many times myself on a bike, so this week’s tragedy was particularly unnerving. Am I correct that most of your own 2000+ rides along the same road are usually in the morning, when sun is to east? It might be informative to look at pictures of intersection around 1 to 2 pm, at same time of day when collision occurred. I am not making any excuses for driver, who clearly was at fault since he failed to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left hand turn. However, it is true that at 1 to 2 pm the sun would be up in south instead of eastern sky, and the glare behind a backlit rider may have contributed to poor visibility for a driver headed south into the sun.

    1. You are correct that I’m nearly always riding that stretch of road earlier in the day, typically 9am. And almost never in the direction of the motorist, so I don’t know how the sun would affect things. I might get a chance to check things out at 1:30pm on Sunday

    2. I think that at 1:30 in the afternoon the sun might not be low enough in the sky to create a situation where it is difficult to see. However, I have never been in this area, so this is only conjecture on my part.

  6. I’ve ridden safely for 40 years with only a few mishaps. One rule I’ve adhered to since I was young is to regulate speed vs reaction time and the ability retain some control. Not always to the most fun. A 40 mile per hour speed limit for a car doesn’t always make sense for a cyclist , perhaps a factor in this case. A Speed limit both limits the risk of a speeding vehicle to others on the road, but also contemplates that a vehicle can stop safely in the event of an unexpected risk. Trying to stop a bike rapidly at 40 miles per hour with some control is nearly impossible. A tragic accident. I grieve for the rider and his family

  7. Mike,

    David made the point RE timing of your photos that I was going to make… Your entry is well written and reassures me, but I still, I intuitively don’t really believe that I’d be just as safe riding a Skyline loop 200x on my Cervelo versus driving it 200x in my Accord. That just doesn’t make sense to me unless I was trying to drive like the guy in the BMW you filmed in 2011.

    Anyway, I have to remind myself that my blood panels are much, much better when I’m riding up King’s a few times a month. I’d like to stay off cholesterol (and possibly other) medications and I strongly believe that biking–even a modest amount of miles–helps me do this. At stressful times of life I furthermore think it may have prevented me for either drinking or going out and getting a medicinal MJ prescription. I have to weigh the value of all that against the small (but real) possibility of having something happen to me out on the road. For now, biking is an acceptable risk, but a tragedy like this will get me thinking more about lighting conditions in which I ride and how to be better seen.

    I don’t see any ethical problems with your shop promoting lighting systems either. Maybe the only good that comes out of this is that the publicity this event has triggered marks a tipping point for the use of lights (which I understand are no magic talisman against cars turning in front of you).

    1. Jay: The “ethical” issue regarding promoting lights is really one of timing. It just seems terribly insensitive to use a tragedy like this to sorta scare people into buying lights. I probably shouldn’t have even included that section, but I tend to write (ramble) as I think. On doing the Skyline loop 200x on your bike vs car, that wasn’t quite my example. I said I felt safer riding my bike than being in a car driven by somebody else. Or at least that’s what I meant to say.

      What boggles the mind are the number of people in the comments sections of newspapers, saying that the cyclist should have been going slower. As if it makes much difference when somebody turns right in front of you and you’re going 10mph or 32. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, pedestrians are killed all the time by motorists turning into them at intersections and driveways, and the speeds involved are very low, on the order of 5-10mph.

      And yes, as you point out, there is a risk/benefit analysis that includes the health benefits of cycling. Beyond that, do we want to live a virtual life, like in the movie Wall-E, or experience life ourselves? There will always be some risk experiencing life, but much greater reward than the virtual option. I think. –Mike–

  8. On the matter of black boxes, the ones in use today are DVRs, based primarily on video technology. They’re used in cabs, buses, commercial trucks and patrol vehicles, and their use is growing quickly, especially outside the U.S.

    Last Dec. 7, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed that car black boxes be required on all light passenger vehicles beginning September 1, 2014.

    Many fleet companies already use devices to track vehicles. You can purchase a simple one from Davis Instruments for about $80, Car Chip Pro, on Amazon. It fits in the OBDII port found on all cars. It’s super-easy to use.

    Now that fleet truck may have had something like this, but it will take a lawsuit to make it be entered as evidence.

    1. Ray,

      Interesting point, but in this case I wonder what a lawsuit will be brought because what could it accomplish? The woman’s estate is about $200 million dollars (this must be the richest person to ever die in a bicycle accident).

      1. In civil court, all lives are not created equal, nor are they compensated equally.

        The lawsuit in this case is likely to be of massive proportions; Joy’s estate will rightfully point to everything that she’s accomplished so far as an indication of what she would have accomplished in the future. And she does have a child. –Mike–

  9. I rode that stretch frequently in the ’70s and early ’80s, and in the 90’s started riding a motorcycle (but not on Skyline). One of the biggest dangers to a responsible motorcyclist is a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction turning left in front of the cycle. This is true even for motorcycles with lights on. Drivers often say they did not see the motorcycle. Some motorcyclists who have survived this type of collision have reported that the auto driver was looking directly at them before turning. While these left-turning vehicles are often at fault, the motorcycling community has developed defensive riding techniques to try to avoid the left turning car. Unfortunately those techniques are not infallible. What happened to Joy was horrible.

  10. The normal tendency on the part of law enforcement (state, county and local) is generally to find fault with the cyclist. Our legal system turns on the question of who is to blame, and it does seem from all I have read that the driver failed to yield to oncoming traffic. It is sad when any cyclist encounters a car even with a minor injury, but then again, every day lots of cars hit something, usually another car, and often the resulting injuries are serious. What makes this especially sad for us cyclists is we know that we are at the mercy of the autos on the road with little protection and no recourse if the driver does something intentionally or not and puts us at risk.

    Be careful out there. There’s no real gain in going 40 mph on your bike on Skyline. You’re one pine cone or loose rock away from a spill. Not to mention hitting a car. I’ve hit a few who turned in front of me over the years, and it is not fun.

  11. The sad deaths of Elena Koukareko & Joy Covey
    at Elk Tree Road and Skyline Blvd in Woodside

    My mother collided with a cyclist in the same locale about 23 years ago. The cyclist was severely injured and was airlifted out. I believe he was drinking from a water bottle as he came around the bend. He never saw her and she could not out-maneuver him. That was back when Elk Tree was just a dirt road. My mother was an old lady cautiously turning from a highway onto a dirt road. She always erred on the side of caution. She was cited, and never recovered her emotional equilibrium.

    It is not possible for the party turning onto Elk Tree from Skyline, or onto Skyline Blvd. from Elk Tree, to turn fast enough to dodge a speeding unseen bike, car or motorcycle coming around the curve. That curve is blind.

    We residents cannot see the vehicle around the bend as they head NB on Skyline. Neither can these NB folks see the intersection. Truly. Those of who live here know this and live nervously with it.

    Last Thursday, well aware of the tragedies at this intersection, I made sure there was NO visible NB traffic on Skyline as I prepared to make a right turn heading NB from Elk Tree, accelerated as fast as possible in my very responsive car and immediately looked in the rearview mirror to see a BMW on my tail. No big deal until it is a big deal.

    My personal thought is that there should be reduced speed and flashing lights and signage before the northbound downhill curve saying, ‘SLOW DOWN, BLIND INTERSECTION AHEAD’. The speed limit signs that are currently in place do not adequately indicate the hazardous situation that exists at Elk Tree and Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd.)

    1. I’m sorry about your Mother’s emotional state, but 23 years later apparently you are part of her support system making excuses for the fact she made a mistake. Blaming the cyclist for not avoiding the car is wrong.

      That corner is not blind to a southbound driver. The road bends to the RIGHT going southbound. At about 30 mph (which is at least 10 mph than most cars drive), there is plenty of opportunity to see an oncoming cyclist. Of course, if you’re looking for a car, you won’t see a bicylist. (Have you seen the video of the guys passing the basketball while a guy in a bear suit walks through?) And if a car comes around the right turn at 70 mph (or whatever a sports car can do), then getting into and out of Elk Tree must be challenging. None of this is relevant to a vehicle (bicycle) going much SLOWER than the speed limit.

  12. Jeff,

    It would be nice to be able to descend at exactly the speed on feels comfortable with, however as a practical matter one has to consider other traffic considerations such as cars trailing you.

    I have, at least a couple of times in the past year seen small groups of cyclists riding their brakes down from Saratoga Gap at 21 mph with a string of a dozen trailing autos. I consider that paranoid riding and I think it creates almost as much bad will toward cyclists as the ones who blow traffic lights.

    That said, I do try to time my rides with auto traffic considered. Which probably means not riding mid-day on Sunday down 84. I liked Page Mill a lot because I almost never encountered traffic while descending (but the amount of driveways has begun to unnerve me).

    My preferred descent now is King’s Mountain because of no driveways and low traffic. However, one still needs to watch out for the Tripp road turn where a left turning vehicle can take you out.

    One thing I’ve noticed the past 30 years is that autos are unfortunately much faster at descending than they used to be. In 1985 if I was going to start a descent on 84 and saw a station wagon behind me (or a Civic) I knew I was good to go with a no worries descent. Now cars suspension and aerodynamics and engines make it almost impossible to stay ahead of traffic unless one is really bombing it.

  13. I see that many of you are proposing a ‘No Left Turn’ sign at Elk Tree. This would unduly create a traffic burden on Skyline Drive and hazards to that narrow roadway. It is not a good fix in that it will create new hazards to that one-lane residential road. I think the situation calls for strong signage calling for reduced speed by all vehicles on the down hill slope.

    1. The roadway could also be widened in that area, realigning it to the “west” and possibly incorporate a left-hand-turn lane for turning onto Elk Tree Road. You might also bring Elk Tree Road a bit further west as well, bringing the stop sign/limit line out enough that you have enhanced visibility of descending traffic. It’s a lot of expense for a little-used intersection, but there’s no arguing that it’s got a terrible record for fatal and serious-injury accidents.

  14. Guys, the brain is a remarkable organ, but it gets way too much information from the eyes. So it looks for patterns and throws out a lot of information. While driving the brain is looking for cars and the road lines + road signs. That’s is a lot of information. So a cyclist is literally invisible unless he does something to trigger the brain to pay attention. The only way to do this is w/ a bright flashing light. I’ve been cycling for 40+ years and I’m always on the look out for other cyclist. I’m constantly not seeing them unless they have flashing lights. Whether I’m on the car on on the bike. Try it. See how much easier it is to spot a cyclist w/ a flashing light vs. one w/ out one. We’ve had so many team members get into similar left turning accidents, and it is always the same. The driver didn’t see the cyclist. And you know what, I believe them. So my job as a cyclist is to be seen by them. They have the bigger cars and I’m going to be the one getting hurt.

    1. Eduardo,

      I saw the issue of flashing lights examined in another forum. I believe that one individual argued that flash mode was in violation of the CA VC and was able to provide a reference to the support this.

      Therefore, it might not matter to you, and probably wouldn’t result in anything more than a warning from law enforcement, but from what I saw flashing lights are illegal.

      1. Hi Jay, In the UK the flashing lights were formally made legal. It appears in the US the matter is not formally settled across the states. It appears that locally there is a lack of laws on the front lights, and more laws on reflectors and rear lights.

        I much rather have a ticket than a hospital bill w/ a accompanying pain and trauma, if I survive an accident. I have been riding w/ flashing lights for over a year and ridden by several police cars and never had anyone say anything.

        I would not use the legal issue to prevent you or anyone from being seen on the road.

  15. Thanks Mike . . . I am reattaching my ‘flea’ headlight as soon a I finish typing this.
    My daytime riding is always preceded by a decision to leave my light home because it’s bright outside. I may turn on my tail light from time to time especially if I know I’m going to be rider solo on a route with few or no bike lanes an a minimal safeguard against those autos flying by me from the rear.
    I always had my lights on while riding my motorcycle for years so why I stopped when I took up cycling is a mystery to me.

  16. You don’t have to send out e-mail telling bicyclists to buy lights — we already did. The PenVelo e-mail list was full of e-mail recommending that everyone ride with lights, even during daylight.


    –> Andrew
    President, Peninsula Velo

    1. Golly, Andrew… Not everyone is on the PenVelo list. I’m glad Mike’s urging everyone to buy lights. I hope everyone spreads the word and listens. – Kate

  17. I concur with the sentiment that such a horrible and fatal crash should never be called an “accident”. It is properly called a collision. After all, two vehicles are involved, even though one is a bicycle.
    Little by little, I have upgraded my lights, so that now I often ride with 180 lumens flashing ahead of me. LED technology has undergone a virtual revolution in this regard.
    Also, at speed and especially if there is no shoulder, I will tend to go to the middle of the lane. This tactic will make me more visible (I am laterally further removed from the background in turns), will allow me a few extra seconds to be seen or see anything ahead myself, avoids road debris and the chance for a blowout, and may give me the option to steer right or left when an obstacle does present itself. If cars wish to pass, they must do so with care, as otherwise they might squeeze me out of the lane and right into the bushes otherwise.
    Hardly any driver uses their turn lights and I try to assume a defensive posture by assuming they are all idiots.
    Unfortunately, all this rationalization and mental/technical preparedness will not ward off the terrible habits many motorists indulge in, either from routine or carelessness. I have had a few occasions, especially in the South, where I left a 10-foot skid mark from locking my brakes for a turning vehicle, even though I had the right-of-way. Scary to know that some drivers just don’t care.

  18. A very sad story, my condolences to Joy’s family and friends. Good job Mike analyzing the scenarios. In your first video I feel that the car saw the cyclist and was just too impatient to wait, they could not spare another five seconds and put another person’s life in jeopardy.
    Syl Pascale, in the SIerras

  19. I’d like to know whether the driver’s view was obstructed by the left front windshield post. Depending on the vehicle, that post can create a sizable blind spot. Of course, it’s the driver’s responsibility to look around it and to signal his intentions.

    While I agree that it’s absurd to blame the cyclist’s speed for this tragedy, you can’t argue with physics: the faster you go, the less time you have to react, the longer it takes to stop and the harder you hit. I used to LOVE blazing fast down our glorious hills, but the closest calls I’ve had happened when I was going downhill fast (but under the speed limit) when someone either backed out in front of me or made a left turn in front of me.

    The last incident frightened me so badly that I gave up fast downhills. The rush of speed has been replaced with a memory of terror that is still fresh after 15 years. I’m lucky not to be riding a ghost bike, myself. Crazy, stupid drivers have tried to kill me since, but I’m still here, running double Fleas in front and double Cherry Bombs in back, day and night.

    The bell tolls for us, too. Rest in peace, Joy.

  20. I live right around the corner where the accident occurred. I am also a fire fighter and was first on scene with Joy. I don’t think blame can be put anyone for this terrible accident. At that time of day and year the sun blazes right down skyline blvd and vehicles cannot see the cyclists that disappear into the glare and shadows. I have almost hit a couple cyclists myself and I’m aware of this phenomenon and turn with extreme caution. The delivery van did not know the area and did not know to use extra caution. I don’t know how to resolve this issue but to say to everyone use caution when in the area.
    On a side note 2 years before this accident
    I witnessed Joy crash her bike on hwy 84 at Skywood Way. I stopped to help her and we ended up transporting her for a broken clavicle. My sincere condolences to Joy’s family. RIP Joy

    1. It’s still a very sad incident whether or not Joy was the richest person to ever die cycling (as she probably was).

      If she broke her collarbone on 84 and continued to ride she was obviously pretty hard core and loved the feeling of being on the bike despite the risks.

      She was just unlucky in a way that could have happened to any of us. It’s sobering but unless you tell me I’m going to live to be 175 if I limit myself to swimming laps and the Y, I’m going to continue to ride.

      However do what you can to been seen on Skyline and elsewhere–I have three Thunderbolts now that I picked up at the Chain Reaction which I highly recommend.

  21. ” The delivery van did not know the area and did not know to use extra caution.”
    I cannot reconcile this statement by the previous commenter. It seems to contradict itself.

    What I want to know is whether the driver was prosecuted. I live in Germany so I don’t know how it works in the USA, but the situation seems clear to me: If you are responsible for the death of another road user (in the sense that the driver clearly did not give way), you get prosecuted and a jury sorts it out? Surely?

  22. A very, very, late follow up–but the recent memorials at that intersection have reminded me of this tragedy:
    1) I live at that crossroad, so I make that turn every day .
    2) We welcome cyclists, and I’m positive there are no car-versus-cyclist conspiracy theories (drivers don’t turn into oncoming bicycle traffic intentionally). No need to measure MPH of the cyclist, it has nothing to do with that.
    3) I knew Joy personally and worked for her, so I can vouch for her as an astounding person that I was honored to know, I can also attest that she was an adventurous person (documented by my other neighbor who attended another cycling accident she was involved in).
    4) That being said, this had absolutely nothing to do with Joy’s MPH approach, adventurous spirit, nor a driver’s neglect…it has everything to do with Skyline Blvd at that exact location at 1:30PM, at that exact time of year. As the southbound car-driver approaches you have clear visibility, but then as you come out of the shadow of the Redwoods you are blinded by sunlight at that exact spot, you literally cannot see beyond your front bumper-and it happens instantly. In anticipation, I have to wait and pause for quite awhile when turning onto my street, but any non-local would just be blinded.
    The northbound cyclists approaches via a descending, decreasing-radius corner that is hidden from the approaching driver until the last few seconds…the tragedy is that in those last few seconds the approaching driver is completely blinded…and again, it happens instantly.
    5) I’ve videotaped this phenomenon from the approaching vehicle perspective at that exact time of day the following year for a project to add additional warning signs for all parties, cars and bikes.
    6) It’s a simple, unfortunate phenomenon that happens at that spot (and a lot of Skyline Blvd), where the cyclist can see the vehicle, but the vehicle driver could not possibly see the cyclists at all due to the blinding blast of sunlight.
    It has nothing to do with Joy’s speed, no flashing lights on her bike would have helped, and it has nothing to do with the driver not looking, nor his “left front windshield post” was blocking the view (it would have been the “right post” in a left hand turn, fyi).
    If you return to that intersection other times throughout the year the effect will not be pronounced, but during that time of day/year it is a tragedy waiting to happen.
    7) I had worked with Joy years before her Amazon days and had visited her a month prior to this accident, so the news was shocking and personal. But it is not Joy’s nor a any cyclist’s fault, and in this specific example it is also not the car-driver’s fault; it has to do with that exact location at that time of day where there is an instant change in visibility–it’s not subtle, you are instantly blinded.

  23. That’s good analysis “neighbor” (previous comment). It looks like you’re working with the public authorities on making that stretch of the road a safer. That’s a good thing and I commend you.

    Has anything happened in the last two years to make this area safer for all traffic? Perhaps the intersection should be controlled by traffic lights?

    Of further interest to me is whether the statement of the driver a matter of public record. Was sun-blindness attributed to the driver’s error? Was any prosecution attempted?

  24. I am 76 and ridden bicycles and motorcycles (from age 14) all my life. I make one assumption when riding, especially on a bicycle, and that has saved me many times, that assumption is that I am invisible, no one in a car can see me. That means I never ride in a lane right next to a car and never turn in front of one. If a car is coming the opposite direction to me, I assume the car or truck does not see me and might turn right in front of me; yep I’ve had that happen many times. So what I do is give myself an escape route, always covering the brakes, perhaps slowing a bit, making sure that I can stop if they turn in front of me. I certainly would not ascribe any blame to Joy, but my trick of thinking I am invisible has stopped me from getting killed a few times. I have read that with motorcycles the biggest accident fatality numbers come from vehicles turning left in front of them, just what happened to Joy. She was apparently a wonderful lady, to be remembered for that.

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