Remembrance event educates bike riders

Sandra and Dave Chesterman gave away free reflector vests for the second annual Kristina Chesterman Memorial Bike Safety and Drunk Driving Awareness event, Sat. Oct. 18. Photo credit: Anna Sobreviñas

Chico bike companies, family and friends of deceased student Kristina Chesterman gathered Saturday for the second annual Kristina Chesterman Memorial Bike Safety and Drunk Driving Awareness event.

Mike Griffith, a Chico pedicab business owner, started the annual gathering held in the Downtown Chico City Plaza to educate the public on bike safety after a fatal drunken driving accident killed Chico State nursing student Kristina Chesterman.

Chesterman died last year from a brain injury after a drunk driver struck her while she was riding her bike home on Nord Avenue. The drunk driver, Riley Hoover, a Chico resident from Ohio, was sentenced to seven years in prison Sept. 5.

“There’s too many bicycle accidents, bicycle-car accidents and too many drunken driving accidents,” Griffith said. “I’m gonna try to focus on solving the problem, one person at a time.”

Griffith gave Chesterman her last pedicab ride home the night before she died.

“It’s really cool – he put a lot of work into it and I think it makes a difference,” said Dave Chesterman, Kristina Chesterman’s father. “People are more aware of it because it will be in the media. People come by and they see all the bike shops here and they see the message.”

The Kristina Chesterman Memorial Foundation, organized by her parents, gave away free reflector vests with her initials on it.

The Chico Velo Cycling Club gave away free head lamps and tail lights.

“We’ve been a club in the Chico area for 30 years now and our mission is always to promote safe cycling,” said Ann Schwab, Chico City Council member and Chico Velo Cycling Club president. “What we’re doing is giving away head lamps and tail lights for bicycles so that people can be seen when they’re on the road.”

North Rim Adventure Sports and downtown business Campus Bicycles also provided free safety inspections and installed bike lights for people.

“You’re completely unprotected against a 3,000 to 5,000 pound car so it’s pretty much getting hit by a car, except you have a bike to get tangled up and everything,” said Chris Lewis, a paramedic at Butte County Emergency Medical Services. “It’s so much force that it can just destroy your body in a matter of seconds – it’s crazy.”

Some of the immediate affects of serious bike accidents are head injuries, brain damage and collapsed lungs, Lewis said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the percentage of pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-occupant fatalities in the country rose four percent in 2012.

Next year there will be a panel with officials from the High Intensity DUI Enforcement program, Griffith said.

Anna Sobrevinas can be reached at: news [email protected] or @manilanna on Twitter.