Cyclist Shatters Collarbone; Partner Pleas for More Driving Civility in Letter to the Editor

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redwood road (1 of 1)

A road through the redwoods. [Stock photo by Kym Kemp]


Yesterday, June 27,  my friend Kristal and I [were] cycling (southbound) along the Ave of the Giants (as we always do since we live on it) North of the Chimney Tree cafe and South of Phillipsville, when a  gray/silver Honda Civic, or similar vehicle, got too close to the solid white line on the side of the road. In order for Kristal to avoid actual contact with the vehicle she needed to drastically veer off the asphalt onto what little there was for a shoulder, which caused her to crash, rather seriously.

I was ahead of her and did not see her when I looked back so I started to back track (northbound) when a gray Civic-esque vehicle passed me. I could see Kristal standing up at the same time though the bend in the road made it appear as if she were standing up in tall grass, not the asphalt, which lead me to believe she simply stopped to urinate. With this thought, I turned around and proceeded southbound to our home.

When I got home and she never returned, I went cycling back and came across her holding her arm, limping and pushing the bike almost right in front of the Chimney Tree Cafe. As I was looking for a phone to dial 911, a kind lady offered to give her a ride to Jerold Phelps Hospital. After sitting in the ER for 5-6 hours, it turns out Kristal has a shattered collar bone, among other countless abrasions.  The nurses at the ER informed us that it could take up to 5 days just to get examined by an orthopedic doctor, and surgery may be required… and of course the rest of the summer to heal.

As I was talking with Kristal, she pointed out that the driver of the car was well aware of the accident and chose to drive off rather than investigate if there was any harm done. Perhaps they where aware that they broke the law requiring vehicles to give cyclists 3 feet minimum clearance (Vehicle Code 21760). At that point in time, when I looked back and simply thought that Kristal was relieving herself, we were on a rather straight part of the road. That car totally knew what it had done and both of us were seen by the driver of this car. I did call CHP to report this vehicle but there is little they can do with a car with such a ubiquitous description and vague details.

It is unfortunate how un-friendly these roads are for cyclists. I love SoHum, but I love cycling even more. I have lived all over this country and have chosen to reside here for the last 7 years and this is by far the most dangerous roads AND drivers I have ever encountered.  All the laws and brightest colored signs do not soften the impact of a vehicle/bike accident.

Brandon Ove



  • My bike has been in the garage for 3 years.

    Cycling around here is just asking for it; walking too.

    I’m so sorry this happened to Kristal. Between the car and the emergency room, she is lucky to be alive.

    ps Why is it that cars in Garberville park on the sidewalk and in intersections? Isn’t our culture/environment devoting enough resources to automobiles?

  • I don’t ride on the Avenue anymore. It’s just too scary.
    I rode my bike from West L.A. to Venice and Palos Verdes regularly as a teen, went cycling in Europe. I know what it is like when a car passes at even 40mph with plenty of room between me and the car…it’s intense!
    I always slow down and move over for cyclists…and Cal Trans etc…even the flying rock chip from a fast moving vehicle can be dangerous.
    You may not be able to love everyone; but please…just try not to hurt, or kill us!

  • The road to Ft. Bragg is equally as dangerous for cyclists. I once drove a motel customer to Ft. Bragg rather than let him ride that road alone. So sad to hear about this but glad she’ s ok.

  • Yep, there’s a plethora of couldn’t-care-less drivers in SoHum. Life is cheap and some people just can’t bear the inconvience of slowing down and sharing the road. Get well soon Kristal.

    • veterans friend

      I had a bicycle when I first moved to Myers Flat. One trip on the Avenue to Weott & back convinced me to sell it.
      People do not recognize two things about the Avenue IMO. 1. It is a state highway with a 55mph speed limit except through the towns. 2. It is not bicycle friendly.

  • I hope you heal so sorry this has happen to you.

  • Five days before Kristal can be examined by an orthopedist?
    You might try Howard Hospital in Willits. I had an orthopedic accident – nothing as serious as Kristal’s- HH has some very skilled Docs there.

  • Medical care has fallen to a new low. Sorry you experienced the accident and the horrid conditions at Phelps. Personally I would never use that hospital or any in Humboldt. My partner broke her arm and we drove down to Willits for medical care. Great hospital and staff.

  • veterans friend

    I had a bicycle when I first moved to Myers Flat. One trip on the Avenue to Weott & back convinced me to sell it.
    People do not recognize two things about the Avenue IMO. 1. It is a state highway with a 55mph speed limit except through the towns. 2. It is not bicycle friendly.

  • veterans friend

    And please, let’s upgrade the ER in Garberville. Not try to make it a “hospital”. The clinic needs to be a separate entity

    • it is separate.. i just had a minor car accident and needed treatment. I had to wait many hours, but the nurses were excellent as was the doc, I have NO complaints. They even broght me a sandwich from the Blue Room cafe!

  • Bicycle, pedestrian or other vehicle, civility on our roads has gone to the birds. Frankly, it is much worse during planting, harvesting and trimming season, I’m sure due to the influx of people who don’t know how to drive on our roads, nor do they give a hoot about common courtesy. And that doesn’t include the drivers who are under the influence or messing with their cell phones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven around a curve and met a speeding vehicle in the middle of my lane. I’m thankful that I’m not a cyclist.

    Truly sorry that Kristal was injured. I’m happy for her sake that her injuries were not more severe. Prayers and good thoughts for her speedy recovery.

  • I received a very nice cruiser bike as a gift several years ago but it lies dormant not because of any physical limitation that I have other than not wanting to die. Drivers in our area seem to have learned about driving by a combination of watching Dukes Of Hazzard and TV ads for new cars. I would say one out of six drivers out there is paying attention. CHP aren’t very safe drivers either.

  • nervous nellie alert.

    righteous bicyclists to “the bicycling community” no hood when they exaggerate these kind of claims and dont cop to their own mistakes.

    the cyclist was in front of the car, not looking backwards and would have been hit if the car was in fact “too close”. the cyclist overcorrected or simply crashed as the car passed. much drama ensued.

  • It’s only a matter of time a circumstance on these roads without a bike lane. There are plenty of alternative spots to ride. Risk vs. reward. Sorry for what happened but thank god you were not killed. Be careful.

    • Like where?

      I used to ride *all over* Mendocino County; Ukiah, Ft. Bragg, Hwy 128, and while it possible it is bad there now, too, I rarely felt like my life was in danger like I have on the streets of HumCo.

      I HAVE been in places like Ashland, OR and Portland, OR recently; it’s a whole different culture; imagine—drivers anticipating and stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks…bike culture is so much more civilized.

      And yes, I would move if I had the money to do it.

  • I have come around a corner with bikes three feet in the lane. They are taking the new three feet law to the max. Bikes shouldn’t be allowed on roads with no shoulder. When it comes between me hitting a car head on and hitting a bike….well….u get the point.

    • Ding, Ding, Ding!

      We have a winner, folks. The ultimate “it all about me, my car and my road” attitude projection. I’ll bet (s)he can text too.

      1. The 3 ft law, is well, the law. Bet if you’re a grower you’d grow at the max allowable by law, if there was a law.

      2. Perhaps the cyclist has no other choice but to use a road with no shoulder. There are lots of them. Is its construction their fault?

      3. I have come upon many cyclists on many roads and I try to keep one civil thing in mind. I am behind the wheel of a two ton vehicle with airbags, cruise control, a gas pedal and a brake. They don’t have any near the clout I possess. Therefor, the onus is on me to be the responsible party here, not them. You obviously, have a different take.

      4. Given the scenario you explained you only list two possible choices: a head on crash with another powerful vehicle or wiping some biker(s) off the road. How about slowing down when entering a blind turn, or, slowing down when you see bikers ahead. Period. I know, that might make you 15 seconds late for a very important deal you just have to score, now.

      5. A lot of children ride bikes. They don’t have drivers licences. Your attitude projection is absolutely disgusting and is signed SoHum local. Good way to sell the brand

      Yeah, yeah we get your point. Your head.

  • You make excellent points!!I watch for bikers in summertime more closely.theirs more than just the commuters out.

  • Bikes take advantage of a law that allows encroachment into a vehicle lane.. Just because it’s a law doesn’t mean you have to be brain dead to follow it! Anyone who rides over the white line is a idiot and asking to become a meat patty.

  • All those public parks, yet no bike path.

  • I have one point to make and spare me the “right ” to the road and the “3ft law”. How many bicycle registrations help pay for that roads maintenance and the construction of new bike lanes?

  • Bicycles have to abide by the California vehicle code, they have the right to ‘take the lane’ i.e. between the double yellow and white line.
    Try to ride past Dazeys in Redway where they put their sale sign in the only marginal space to ride.

  • I rode the Avenue almost daily for a number of years and rarely had a problem.. When I did, it involved grooves in the edge of the paving which could easily dump the unwary and occasionally dumped me.. Today there were dozens of cyclists on the Avenue behaving reasonably well as the blimp soared over them.. It’s easy to give them their 3 feet.. Driver attitude is the big problem for cyclists here as well as Hiway 1…

    • Agreed! Why are so many of these clods driving like a bat out of hell, it’s HUMBOLDT dummies!! Not LA, SF BAY AREA, INDY 500! Good grief, your grow isn’t going anywhere, slow down and enjoy life and the beautiful surroundings

      • Kamikaze Donkey

        Aaaaaand agreeing further. What is the big self-important rush? If bicyclists are sharing the lane because no shoulder, I have no problem driving slowly behind them until there is a clear and safe opportunity to pass with 3 feet between us. The scenery is lovely, I take a deep breath, and pray the Devas don’t completely leave this area because we are all such ….grrr can’t say it.

  • Just My thought, but I would never ride a bike on a road I race on in a video game. Or any other road.

  • Greedy growers driving like assholes are the problem. Roll on full legalization and they will soon dissappear.

    • Wanna Get High?

      I like how “Greedy Growers” are supposed to be the cause of all misfortune.

      I suppose it’s “greedy growers” who have been playing fast and loose with Humboldt County’s finances such that a Grand Jury has basically declared that it to be a disaster resulting from lack of any regulation or oversight.

      I can’t wait until legalization so I can light up a fattie and read the comment section to see which group will be the next scapegoat.

  • Concerned citizen

    First happy to hear she is going to be ok. Second the seed limit is 55, has blind corners, is one lane each direction with barely enough room for cars in some parts. If you ride this road on a bicycle I call it a suicide attempt. It’s dangerous enough in a car, bicycles have no place on this road. If you wanna ride take it to the dirt

  • Riding the avenue is fun but ou can’t be an ass on either side of the issue . The other day I passed a cyclist standing in the road drinking his water . He insisted I go around him !!! He wasn’t riding , so he doesn’t get the lane , But they think they do . Also some have made good points about the road being roughy . These city bikes don’t have good tires so they ride in the middle and if they have to move over they just might wreck . Maybe cycling isn’t for them . Or maybe they should go where cyclists rule the road like Calistoga

  • I remember when cars would stop on the freeway to let you cross. CA is a like…NY, now: arrogant.

  • They sure didn’t think to much before they came up with these bike rules.we travel out to pigeon point Rd for work and the people riding their bikes on that road ARE NUTS.we came around a corner and A BICYCLIST in my lane.i had no where to behind me and one in the other lane.i mean,what the hell do you do.stupid law.roads that narrow,NO BIKES ALLOWED! !!

  • I’m glad your friend isn’t more seriously hurt. There are numerous roads in Humboldt County where giving a bicyclist 3 feet isn’t possible, Ave. of the Giants being one such road. As a bicyclist you’re obligated as much as a car is to obey the rules of the road, ( not saying your friend was or wasn’t ). Too often I see bicyclists riding in such a manner that it surprises me they’re not seriously injured or dead. If a road isn’t wide enough for a car to give 3 feet & the person riding the bike doesn’t feel the need to move off the shoulder to allow the car to pass, don’t ride on those roads. Car vs. bike, car wins.

    • There is enough space for the “three-feet law” on these roads, especially the Ave. Though 3- feet is the law, there needn’t be that much room for safety if the vehicle was to take the proper precautions and, of course, the bicyclist as well. That is coming from someone who is both a driver and a bicyclist on most SoHum roads. It is that most motorist think that slowing down or moving over is not an option. It was pointed out in an earlier reply that the situation comes to the choice of a head-on collision or the death of a cyclist…orrrrrr you could slow down and wait for a safe place to pass.
      I have gotten out of my truck to ass hole cyclist who give the rest of the cycling community a bad name, and scolded them for such bad etiquette as refreshing themselves or stretching in the road. But the ideology that bikes should not go on these roads is a mere opinion, not a fact. As dangerous as it may be, 101 and the Ave are part of the Pacific Coast Bike route. So it is law for these bike to be on the road. If the driver of a vehicle is discontent with that and the biker is unsafe due to the driver’s opinion, they, the driver of the vehicle are the ones who should not be on the road because of the danger that accompanies their opinions and ideologies.
      It seems that the vehicle is an extension to one’s ego. I have confronted people who have thrown shit at me or blew black smoke out of their trucks as they pass me on my bicycle when they were at the store or out of their vehicle and they have nothing to say and won’t even make eye contact with me. But if they where in their monster truck or their Civic, they have all kinds of shit to talk.
      Once an SUV was behind me on Briceland road and I could here a kid yelling at me to get out of the road, though I was on the white line the whole time. As I got out of Ruby Valley they passed and both the mother AND the 8-10 year old kid drove passed giving me the finger as if i ruined their day! …and to top it off, in bright Rasta colors was a giant bumper sticker that said “ONE LOVE.” What a joke.
      The more vehicles the more arrogance. More arrogance, more deush bags their will be. Everyone should ride more!

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