A Modesto-area cyclist was killed in a collision with a pickup shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday on Fountain Grove Parkway in Santa Rosa, the fifth death of a bicycle rider in the past 10 weeks on Sonoma County roads.
The crash occurred on a steep stretch of the parkway at Thomas Lake Harris Drive, where a dark blue pickup heading uphill turned left into the path of the westbound cyclist, Police Sgt. Rich Celli said.
Cyclist Ruben Hernandez, 37, was visiting Sonoma County from the Modesto area, Celli said.
The driver of the truck was identified as Adam Bigham, 22, of Sebastopol.
Hernandez was wearing the shorts and jersey of typical recreational cyclist and was riding a high-end road bike. He <NO1><NO>was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers said he was in the right-hand lane and traveling with traffic at a speed that may have been as fast as 40 mph, the speed limit on the lower part of <NO1><NO><NO1><NO>Fountain Grove Parkway almost a mile from <NO1><NO>Mendocino Avenue.
Bingham was heading east in a Chevrolet pickup on the parkway approaching Thomas Lake Harris Drive.
"The truck appears to have made a left-hand turn into the path of the cyclist and other traffic," Celli said. "We are still getting statements from witnesses. There were no skid marks indicating others had to take evasive action."
Celli said the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office is involved in the investigation and will be responsible for determining whether charges will be filed against Bigham.
Police closed westbound lanes of the parkway from Alturia Drive to Thomas Lake Harris Drive after the crash.
<NO1><NO>The collision occurred on a stretch of Fountain Grove Parkway where vehicles and cyclists easily can reach the 40-mph speed limit<NO1><NO>.
Tom Helm of Santa Rosa, who teaches a riding skills class for the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, said the stretch of Fountain Grove is difficult to ride or drive slowly, and bicycles can't stop as quickly as cars.
There are no bike lanes on that section of Fountain Grove Parkway, which has two traffic lanes in each direction.
"The other side of Fountain Grove (toward Rincon Valley) has a bike lane and it feels safer," Helm said.
Helm said 90 percent of collisions between bicycles and cars are at intersections, where the traffic is turning or crossing.
Phil Heydorn of Santa Rosa, who works at Echelon Cycle & Multisport in Santa Rosa, said Fountaingrove is a popular training ground and he rode his bike to the scene to see if it was anyone he knew.
"I went up there because I know so many guys or gals who ride it for training," Heydorn said. "It could have been anybody I knew. The owners of my shop ride that loop, people I work with ride that route, people whose bikes I work on ride the route."
Heydorn, who has been riding for 30 years, said he is not blaming motorists, but he has been shaken by the high number of deaths and injuries of cyclists lately.
"It is an emotional thing. Somebody is not there anymore. It is a real shame," he said, referring to Tuesday's crash. "I don't understand what is going on with all these automobile and bike incidents. It is scary, and it has me spooked."