Bicyclist killed in Tempe

Eastbound Curry approaching College Ave.

1/23/2019 6:15a Victim  66 y.o. male Peter Bergsneider. In the area of College and Curry. It must have been near the intersection because of the mention they were struck next to a left turn lane. One unconfirmed report is that it was eastbound Curry at College, and another unconfirmed report states “the driver was allegedly texting”.

If that report plus the description released by police, below, is accurate, it would be sortof an odd/unusual position for a bicyclist to be in, being in Lane 1 as there is another through lane (lane 2) plus a designated bike lane; though of course there are a variety of reasons a cyclist might be using lane 1, like preparing to turn left, or if lane 2 was obstructed for whatever reason.

This is a signalized intersections; no mention of who had what light.

It would have been dark at that time.

Tempe PD (apparently, privately; it never as far as i could tell was posted on TPD’s facebook, or twitter, or anywhere I could find) released this statement that Lauren Kuby shared through facebook, and added later on her LaurenKubyForCouncil identity’s post that “The investigation is pending, but the driver was allegedly texting.”

“We wanted to advise you that today at approximately 6:15 am, Tempe Police and Tempe Fire Medical Rescue responded to the area of College and Curry for the report of a vehicle vs bicycle <a-word redacted> that occurred. The bicyclist was in the first through lane next to the left turn lane when he was struck from behind by a vehicle. The vehicle remained on scene.
The adult male bicyclist coded on scene and was transported to an area hospital where the medical staff was able to find a pulse for him. He was transferred into surgery where he eventually died from his injuries.
Impairment does not appear to be a factor in this incident. The victim is an adult male in his mid 60s. The investigation is ongoing.”

Tempe PD, please #crashnotaccident.

There have been eight, including this latest one, fatal bike-MV crashes in the City of Tempe since 2009;  see a detailed list of all Tempe fatal bicycle collisions since 2009. This would be the only one of those that involve a strike-from-behind.

The incident was apparently never reported in the news media.(?)

Crash Report

Took strangely long to show up, not sure what’s up with that.

ADOT incident 3512530. Tempe FileNumber 199616

Based on the database, I don’t have a copy of the report itself, it appears to be written up as the bicyclist was eastbound Curry approaching but not yet at College preparing to turn left. This point listed in the report is about 150′ before the left turn pocket opens up; it’s about 400′ before the intersection itself. The motorist was also eastbound Curry.

The police have faulted the bicyclist for unsafe lane change; It also flags the motorist for speed too fast for conditions.

There is a confusion in which lane each unit was in — the road there has a left through lane (lane 1), a right through lane (lane 2) and a BL.

A bicyclist preparing to turn left would first change from the BL to lane 2, and then from lane 2 to lane 1.

The data says the bicyclist was in Lane 2 (the right through lane); but that the motorist was in Lane 1 (the left through lane). This obviously can’t be correct since if it were no collision would have taken place. Based on the facebook blurb, it sounds like the datafile is incorrect, and should say the bicyclist was in lane 1.

There is a DistractedDriving flag on the driver: OTHER_ACTIVITY_ELECTRONIC_DEVICE

In any event, it’s not clear how fault is established; the written report would have more details of course, including witness statements, if any. In other words, how do you differentiate the unsafe lane change scenario from a plain old rear-end? Once a driver (or a bicyclist) changes lanes; following drivers have a duty to control speed to avoid colliding with anyone ahead. Had the driver who struck the bicyclist not been distracted, would she have avoided the collision?

In any any event, the data can’t tell us what, if any, legal actions were taken against the driver. Tempe, for example, had a distracted driving ordinance that, at the time, made it a criminal misdemeanor (class 1) if a driver becomes involved in a serious/fatal collision while doing certain proscribed things with cell phones. (Tempe has since, inexplicably, watered-down their ordinance Ord. No. O2019.07, 2-28-19 to remove any criminal penalty)

One thought on “Bicyclist killed in Tempe”

  1. I work near here, and saw the debris from the accident that morning as well as the ghost bike that is there now. It saddens me that this wasn’t put in the media, people need to know

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