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New York Times
8 Apr 2023

NextImg:Track Cycling Champion Dies in Collision in San Francisco

A track cycling champion died after a car struck him while he was riding this week in San Francisco, a high-profile fatality that highlighted the city’s struggles to reduce traffic deaths.

The cyclist, Ethan Boyes, 44, was struck around 4 p.m. on Tuesday at an intersection in the Presidio, the United States Park Police said in a statement.

The agency said Mr. Boyes was transported to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and was later pronounced dead.

The driver of the car, who was not publicly identified, was also transported to the hospital, with injuries that were not life-threatening. It was not immediately clear whether the driver was facing charges.

The police said they were working with federal prosecutors “as the investigation progresses.”

The accident shocked the San Francisco cycling community, not just because of the loss of life but also because it happened in an area where bicycle safety activists have repeatedly called for improvements.

The heavily used cycling route connecting Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, a nearly 1,500-acre park at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, has been a safety concern for cyclists for years.

The narrow and curvy stretch where Mr. Boyes was killed has painted bike lanes but no buffered space or bollards.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a bike safety advocacy group, described Mr. Boyes as a “champion bicycle racer and beloved figure in the bicycling community.” In a statement, the group demanded “immediate action” to protect cyclists in the park.

“One traffic fatality is one too many,” it said.

San Francisco, like other large American cities, is working toward a “Vision Zero” plan of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024. However, the city last year recorded the largest number of traffic fatalities since at least 2014, with 20 pedestrian deaths, 16 motor vehicle or motorcycle deaths and one bicycle fatality.

“This stretch of Arguello Boulevard has two unprotected, paint-only bike lanes, which allows drivers to drive recklessly at unsafe speeds and may have contributed to Ethan’s death,” Luke Bornheimer, a sustainable transportation advocate, said in a statement. “There is simple infrastructure that is proven to increase safety for all people — including drivers — and make people feel safer riding bikes.”

According to USA Cycling, Mr. Boyes was the reigning masters track world champion in the men’s 40-44 age group for the time trial and sprint events, and he held several records in his age group, including from a flying start race (when cyclists start already in motion as opposed to from a standstill) in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in 2018, at a high-altitude track.

Track cycling, which encompasses a number of different racing formats, is a different cycling discipline than the better-known multistage distance road events, such as the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia.

Events in track cycling are held on 250-meter banked, oval indoor tracks and, depending on the event, can require riders to use a tremendous amount of force on the pedals and handlebars to get the bicycle’s wheels moving from a dead stop.

“Beyond Ethan’s athletic achievements, he was an upstanding member of the American track cycling community,” USA Cycling said in a statement on Facebook. “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.”

The fatal crash involving Mr. Boyes was the latest in a string of high-profile episodes in San Francisco this week.

Bob Lee, the founder of Cash App, was stabbed to death near the Bay Bridge, and Don Carmignani, a former San Francisco fire commissioner, was attacked with a metal pipe and knife in the Marina district.