The driver of a private commuter bus that hit and killed a bicyclist near the Santa Clara Convention Center could soon face charges. Investigators are gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses before they hand the case over to the District Attorney’s office.
Officers say that around 5:21 p.m. on Oct. 25, the bus was turning right from Bunker Hill Lane onto Great America Parkway when it hit the cyclist. The cyclist, a 49-year-old man from Morgan Hill, died before he could be transported to the hospital.
After interviewing witnesses and the bus driver and reviewing the footage from traffic cameras in the area, investigators believe the bus driver failed to yield the right of way to the bicyclist. The bicyclist was traveling in a designated bike lane. Officers say alcohol did not play a part in the crash.
The driver was working for a private company, El Paseo Limousine. The company contracts out to ACE and drives the free commuter shuttles to the Santa Clara ACE train station. The driver was driving one of those shuttles.
Traffic Investigator Nick Cusimano says there are a number of things drivers and bicyclists can do to avoid collisions.
“Probably the biggest thing is for motorists is to stay off the portable devices,” said Cusimano. “Be alert of your surroundings. Always be looking around to see if there’s a bicyclist going to pop out of a driveway.”
Drivers should also be aware of the Three Feet of Safety Act that went into effect in 2014. It requires all drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. If there’s not enough room to safely pass, a driver should not pass.
“A lot of times the drivers, they don’t estimate the speed of bicyclists very well and [bicyclists are] often times are going faster than [drivers] anticipate,” said Cusimano. He says many collisions involving bicycles are the result of drivers misjudging the speed of a cyclist and turning into the bicycle’s path.
As for cyclists, they need to go with the flow of traffic. That means riding on the same side of the road traffic is traveling on and following the same traffic rules as a motor vehicle. They should also make sure to take safety precautions.
“For bicyclists, wearing your helmet is important whether you’re an adult or a child,” said Cusimano. “That will prevent a lot of injuries. So will using a light at night to ride in the dark.”
Cusimano says he also sees a lot of headphones on drivers and cyclists alike. He warns that headphones drown out the surrounding noise, which can make you less aware of what’s happening around you.
The Santa Clara Police Department plans to hand the case over to the District Attorney’s Office in the next few weeks. If you happened to witness the collision, you are asked to contact Cusimano at (408) 615-4764.