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Cyclist’s death raises many questions

September 27, 2019

Jay Kirby died this week, two weeks after being struck by a motorist while he was riding his bicycle on Route 1 near the Kings Highway intersection.

An experienced cyclist and stickler for safe riding, the 79-year-old Kirby had logged hundreds of thousands of miles on bicycles prior to the collision, including a 4,000-mile trek across the United States just a handful of years ago.

The 89-year-old motorist who struck Kirby, in broad daylight, told police he didn’t see the rider.

After the crash, he stayed with Kirby until emergency personnel arrived to carry him away and try to save his life. No charges have yet been filed; the investigation continues.

This tragedy – one of many this summer – raises questions. What, if any, changes need to be made at the Route 1 and Kings Highway intersection, which many acknowledge as dangerous? 

Several entrances and exits for businesses and communities along the deceleration lane leading to Kings Highway conflict with the right-hand bicycle and bus lane, making for a risk-filled situation. Where cyclists are outnumbered by motorists thousands to one, cyclists – much less visible than cars – are at an even greater disadvantage. Combine that with a dangerous intersection, and the odds of a tragedy like this increase.

Given all of the factors at work at any time on Route 1, especially a high proportion of visiting drivers unfamiliar with local traffic patterns and danger points, does it make sense to limit cyclists, in the busiest sections of the highway, to the sidewalks?

And how does age enter into this equation? We are in a county with a higher-than-average, and growing, percentage of senior citizens on the roads. Are our driving tests and restrictions sophisticated enough to reveal diminished skills and reflexes that can come with age and lead to unsafe driving abilities?

Tragedies like the death of Jay Kirby demand that we look closely at all factors and enact changes as needed to make our highways and roads safer for all.

 

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.