The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has called for immediate action to be taken to protect people riding their bikes in the city’s Presidio national park, where world Masters track champion Ethan Boyes was killed recently after being struck head-on by an allegedly speeding motorist while riding in one of the park’s cycle lanes.
Boyes, who won three rainbow jerseys in the Men’s 40-44 category at last year’s Masters Track World Championships, was riding in the Presidio, a park and former U.S. Army post on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, on the afternoon of April 4th when he was struck by a motorist travelling in the opposite direction.
According to several eyewitness accounts shared online, the cyclist was riding in the non-segregated cycle lane on Arguello Boulevard, near what Biking in LA described as a “treacherous” junction, when a “speeding” motorist heading northbound “swerved” across the road and into the bike lane.
Both Boyes and the driver, who reportedly crashed the car following the collision, sustaining minor injuries, were taken to hospital, where the cyclist later died from his injuries.
U.S. Park Police have not yet confirmed any further details of the collision, which remains under investigation, or whether the motorist has been arrested, though a family spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle that the driver has been detained.
“Ethan was a very experienced cyclist and well regarded in the cyclist community,” Shaana Rahman, speaking on behalf of Boyes’ family, said. “This is a pretty devastating loss for the family and for the San Francisco cycling community.”
Tributes poured in from across the U.S. cycling scene yesterday following the tragic news. Last autumn, Boyes won the Kilo and Sprint events in the Men’s 40-44 category at the World Masters Track Championships, along with a third gold medal in the team sprint.
A 10-time U.S. national champion throughout his career, the North Carolina-born sprinter holds the World’s Best Performance record for men aged 35-39 in the Kilo, set in 2015, as well as a number of national records.
In a statement on social media, USA Cycling said: “Beyond Ethan’s athletic achievements, he was an upstanding member of the American track cycling community.
“His loss will be felt at local, regional, national, and world events for years, as he brought a mixture of competition and friendliness to every race. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
“You couldn’t miss him with his custom Look track frame with googly eyes,” friend Veronika Volok told SF Gate. “He was known to be a sprinter, a damn good one too.
“Ethan was a very special person. The cycling community, especially the track community, won’t be the same.”
Following Tuesday’s tragic collision, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition – a non-profit public-benefit organization created to transform the city’s streets and neighbourhoods into “more livable and safe places by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation” – called for immediate changes to be made to better protect people riding their bikes in Presidio national park.
Cycling activists in San Francisco have long campaigned for changes to be made to Arguello Boulevard in Presidio, an area which falls under the jurisdiction of the park’s governing body and not the city authorities.
“This is the first fatality of a person riding a bicycle in 2023. Rates of fatalities and serious injuries on San Francisco streets remain unacceptably high,” the coalition.
“We are reaching out to the Presidio’s governing body to demand that immediate action be taken to protect the many people who ride bicycles in the park, including on this stretch of Arguello.
“One traffic fatality is one too many. Last year, we experienced the most traffic fatalities on SF streets in a decade. This is unacceptable considering the city’s Vision Zero goal of ending traffic-related death and serious injuries by 2024 is just a year away. More action must be taken by the City to address safety on our streets.
“For years, our members have called on the City to increase safety on Arguello Boulevard between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. While these proposed changes would not impact the stretch of road where this fatal crash occurred, we demand the [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] work with us and the community to implement safety improvements as quickly as possible.”
Boyes’ tragic death comes less than two years since US Masters road race champion Gwen Inglis was killed in a strikingly similar incident, which saw a driver hit her from behind after drifting into a bike lane.
The 46-year-old elite cyclist Inglis was struck and killed by Ryan Scott Montoya while riding in a cycle lane alongside her husband Michael in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, on 16 May 2021.
Motorist Montoya, who admitted to police officers that he had been drinking and using marijuana the night before, drifted into the bike lane and hit Inglis from behind, throwing her 20 feet along the road. The 31-year-old was previously convicted of driving under the influence in 2014 and had been charged with a second DUI just 10 days before Inglis was tragically killed.
In April 2022, Montoya pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence and was sentenced last June to eight years in prison.
In December, Inglis’ family was awarded a $353 million verdict in a civil lawsuit against the driver and his insurance company.