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By Donna Domino
San Anselmo cyclist Kirk Ross' death Friday marked the second bike fatality on Nicasio Valley Road in four months, and local bicyclists say the threat from cars is getting worse, with motorists throughout Marin going too fast and not paying attention.
"It's part of a basic trend, complained Chris Lang, president of the Marin County Bike Coalition and a Fairfax resident whos been riding in Marin 29 years. Theres rampant carelessness, lack of concentration and focus. Motorists have gotten sloppy in their habits, everywhere you go people are speeding, and bike riders are just a little thing on the side of the road.
Ross, a 42-year-old accounting manager, loved pedaling in the areas green, rolling hills, said his wife, Sophie, 35, who teaches at Old Mill School in Mill Valley. Since Friday was another sunny winter day, Ross decided to go for a ride near the Nicasio Reservoir before getting ready for a New Years Eve gathering at a friends home.
He rode there on a regular basis most weekends, she recalled. It was one of his favorite places.
Ross was killed Friday afternoon about 2 p.m. as he rode on Nicasio Valley Road near Petaluma-Point Reyes Road when he was hit from behind by a Honda driven by Barbara Williams, 71, of Inverness. Although he was wearing a bike helmet, he suffered massive head injuries when he was thrown off his bike.
On Sept. 4, Cecelia Cecy Krone, 42, of San Anselmo, was struck and killed by Jeep driven by Michele M. Young of Lagunitas on Nicasio Valley Road.
Fridays accident is under investigation but Williams was not arrested, and alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the accident, the California Highway Patrol said.
Following the Krone accident, Young, 49, of Lagunitas was ordered to stand trial for vehicular manslaughter in that fatal crash. She had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit and failed sobriety tests at the scene, officials said.
Shaken by a recent string of injury accidents among friends, Lang has given up road riding for a while.
Im just riding my mountain bike because Im spooked, he admitted. I was one of the bravest of the brave. Now Im just hunkered down in Fairfax; I just ride around the hills.
Kirk and Sophie Ross had just moved to their Berkeley Avenue home from San Francisco in August.
We were looking forward to fixing up the house and garden together; he was very much a handyman and good with woodworking, said Sophie, Kirks wife of five years. We had lots of plans. Kirk was going to set up a darkroom to develop his own photos. We were going to go to Yosemite and camping in Mendocino.
Between 1994 and 1998, there were four bicycle fatalities in Marin. Corte Madera cyclist Kathy Crimm was killed in late 1998, but the collision occurred just outside the county, near Petaluma.
(From Oren Noah)
Kirk Ross was killed on a portion of Nicasio Valley Road that it is as close to a perfect cycling road (safety wise) as can be. He was riding north-bound, out of Nicasio, with the Nicasio Reservoir on his left. The road has two wide motor-traffic lanes and wide, well marked shoulders. From the reports I have received, Kirk was riding on the shoulder, to the right of the white line. There can be no excuse for a motorist hitting him from the rear.