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Deadly crash brings awareness of bicycle safety

In October, a 12-year-old boy was hit and killed by a full-size pickup truck while riding his bicycle to school in Oceanside. The risks of commuting by bicycle to school are evident to most bicyclists including students at Palomar College.

Last year on April 10, 2014, a 22-year-old Palomar College international student was hit and killed while riding a bicycle at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Las Posas Road. He was run over by a cement truck as it made a right turn.

Officer Perez of the Palomar Police Department was a bicycle patrol officer and he completed a three-day, 24 hour bicycle safety training course in order to be a bicycle patrol officer. Upon completion of that course he was then required to perform two weeks of bicycle patrol with the Escondido Police Department. He said that because of his training he is, “very aware of [his] surroundings.”

Officer Perez, who speaking from recollection of 25 years working as an officer at Palomar said that on campus Palomar has been pretty fortunate but that, of the few incidences. “Those are usually people not paying attention, or in a hurry and they will run into something like a pole, or something.” According to Officer Perez there haven’t been any vehicle versus bicyclist or pedestrian accidents on campus.

He attributes this in part to the minimal amount of bicycle traffic within the campus. He says that the majority either enter via the main entrance and park their bikes by Admissions, or through Parking Lot 12 and park near the MD building and once on campus the bicyclists walk from class to class.

His advice for bicyclists to be proactive is to, “pay attention to the rules, and slow down.” He also noted his concern over an increase in the use of earplugs and listening to music while riding. “That’s a real safety issue because if someone’s beeping at you, you’re not going to be able to hear them,” said Officer Perez. He also advises to wear bright colors while riding.

When people get in a hurry the dangers of accidents increase. Officer Perez says that, “most of the accidents are because people are always in a hurry and they’re not paying attention…. You’re in a hurry, the people in the car are in a hurry, that’s a bad recipe for something to happen.”

Officer Perez advises drivers to slow down and to remember that if you pass a bicycle and then come to a stop, then that bicyclist is still coming up behind you. He said to remember that “mirrors are good to use, but they only give you so much vision.”

Officer Perez spoke of what he called “robotic mode.” When people get into a routine where action is automatic. He gave the example of stopping the car and opening the car door without checking for bikes.

According to Officer Perez, “It’s all about awareness. When you get in your car, you’re thinking about, ‘I gotta get to school’, ‘I gotta get to class, I got a test,’ ‘after this I gotta get to work’, and are you thinking about a bike rider? No.”

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