Common-sense fixes could prevent more bike deaths

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editorial13_2Two college students, Kristina Chesterman and Janee Nickerson died after being struck by drivers at night.

Chesterman, a Chico State nursing student, was hit while riding her bicycle by a drunk driver on Sept. 22. She died after two days in urgent care.

Nickerson, a Butte College student who was active at Chico State, was struck by a driver two weeks later. She died two days after the collision.

Although these crashes were isolated incidents involving just a few individuals, the  entire Chico community shares responsibility for bicycle safety.

There’s no telling whether a few simple changes would have prevented Nickerson and Chesterman from being struck and killed, but the community can make changes to ensure that a third cyclist doesn’t join them.

To make sure a similar tragedy doesn’t befall another cyclist, the city could take out bonds and launch a construction campaign focused on widening bike lanes in places where they’re narrow.

The city could also use the money to install more lights in darkened areas to give drivers a crucial split-second of reaction time to avoid collisions.

The city could also work with the Butte County Association of Governments to run the B-line later into the night, which would give students alternatives to riding their bikes home after hours.

The university could require every student to attend a bike safety seminar before they can register for classes. This would ensure that everyone attending the university knows the rules of the road before they get on their bicycle.

And, of course, cyclists and drivers also bear responsibility for keeping our roads safe. Cyclists should remember to wear their helmets and put on bike lights, and motorists should take a cab if they’re not sober.


Illustration by Liz Coffee.

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