A road too narrow

Scene of the bike accident on McClellan Road. Images taken from Google maps. Yellow speck represents a cyclist. (Click on image for larger size)

Scene of the bike accident on McClellan Road. Images taken from Google maps. Yellow speck represents a cyclist (Click on image for larger size).

The death of a 15-year old cyclist on Monday, October 27, on McClellan Road in Cupertino bothered me. I’ve ridden that stretch of road many times, mostly during weekend rides.

The fact that a double-trailer big rig was involved didn’t surprise me, although the location did. I’m sure those trucks are not supposed to be on McClellan.

I’m guessing the driver was shuttling between a construction site and the Permanente Quarry on Stevens Canyon Road and got lost or tried to take a shortcut.

I took a screen capture (to scale) of a similar truck and overlaid it onto the scene of the accident. It’s immediately obvious what could have happened. There’s just not enough room for bike and truck on that stretch of McClellan. The driver was turning right onto Bubb and was probably moving right after passing the cyclist.

What happened next is what has happened on more than one occasion. The second trailer struck the cyclist.

From what I’ve read, the Monta Vista High School student who died was an avid cyclist. No doubt that’s why he rode his bike to school.

If you think a double-trailer truck is bad, imagine a triple-trailer. They’re allowed on highways in 10 states, fortunately not California, although the truck industry has lobbied for it. Let’s keep them out of California.

While Cupertino has a great reputation for accommodating bikes on its streets, every community can do better. What happened Monday morning on McClellan shouldn’t happen again.

3 Responses to “A road too narrow”

  1. ted Says:


  2. Anne Paulson Says:

    Gravel trucks are not allowed on McClellan without a specific permit. So most likely the truck had no business being there. But the driver may or may not have been at fault in the accident itself.

    It’s possible that the cyclist dangerously pulled up to the right of the truck, which would have been signalling a right turn at the light. I’ve seen many cyclists pull up to the right of right-turning vehicles. It’s also possible that the accident occurred as Ray describes, with the truck passing the cyclist too close and sideswiping him.

  3. jay Says:

    I’d like to know if the truck/trailer passed the cyclist and if the driver then promptly forgot about bike.

    It’s possible that the teenager could have been more defensive–I’d like to think I have better riding sense now than at the age–but I also think the burden s/h/b on the truck to make sure he knew where the bike was before he began his turn. Whenever I pass a bike in my car I always try to be aware the possibility of it catching up with me before in make a right turn.

    Worst thing is that some parents will know prohibit their kids from riding a bike which will of course make traffic even worse.

    I too really hope this terrible tragedy prompts some soul searching within the city about how to make its streets safer.

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