Bike Culture Poses Dangers to Isla Vista Community


Kelsey Knorp
Isla Vista Beat Reporter

 A University of California, Santa Barbara student was hospitalized last Tuesday, Jan. 13, as a result of a bicycle accident involving a skateboarder, who proceeded to flee the scene, outside of Blaze Pizza on Pardall Road.

The student was riding east on Pardall toward the UCSB campus with a group of other bicyclists, when, according to the account he gave California Highway Patrol, he saw a skateboarder begin to roll out into the middle of the street. The skateboarder, who then appeared to realize he would not make it across in time to avoid the bicyclists, jumped from his skateboard, causing it to roll backward, directly into the path of the student’s bicycle.

“That caused him to to go over his handlebars where he hit the asphalt, and that’s actually all that he recalled,” said CHP Officer Martin Sanchez, who arrived at the scene after first responders.

Witnesses said that the skateboarder, who was described as male, fled from the scene through a private parking lot before authorities arrived. The bicyclist, whose name has not yet been released by authorities, was conscious upon the arrival of first responders.

Because the bicyclist’s injuries appeared to primarily have been sustained to the head and neck, first responders took measures in keeping with “cervical spine precaution,” including the use of a cervical collar and spinal board during his transport to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. One of these responders, Captain Michael Dalcerri of Santa Barbara County Fire Station 17, said that this sort of biking incident and related injuries occur frequently in Isla Vista.

“There needs to be an understanding that bikes are vehicles,” Dalcerri said.

With thriving bike cultures, Isla Vista and its neighbor UCSB, are certainly no strangers to bicycle accidents. Third-year art history major Morey Spellman was biking to work on campus in December when he crashed at one of the busier portions of the bike paths, adjacent to the Theater and Dance buildings.

Thinking another bicyclist was about to hit his right side, Spellman swerved his bicycle abruptly to the left, and one of his feet slipped from its pedal. As he had been pedaling uphill, the loss of momentum caused his bicycle to collapse.

Spellman said he does not recall whether or not his head only hit asphalt in the seconds after he fell, or if a bicycle he briefly saw speeding toward him actually made contact with his skull.

“Immediately after, I got up and noticed that there were pieces of my teeth and my metal retainer that’s usually in my mouth on the ground, and a bunch of blood, and people were coming up to me asking if I was okay,” Spellman said.

He said that when he went to the Student Health Center bathroom to examine his reflection, he was met with an assortment of teeth jutting sideways, chipped teeth, and even missing teeth. He currently has a cast covering his upper front teeth in order to hold them in their proper positions, and faces a number of root canals, dental caps, and dental crowns in the future.

“If I do bike anymore, my parents don’t want me to bike without a helmet, which makes sense, but I don’t feel very inclined to bike either way,” Spellman said.

Third-year film and media studies major Benjamin Steele sustained a broken wrist in approximately the same region of campus, adjacent to the Theater and Dance buildings. In October 2013, according to his account, he was riding on the left side of another bicyclist, attempting to pass, when that bicyclist unwittingly swerved out to pass the bicycle in front of him, thus colliding with Steele and knocking him onto the pavement below.

“I was probably in a minor state of shock,” Steele said in an email. “I didn’t really feel any pain until I tried to put pressure on my right wrist on the handlebars of my bike.”

Steele never interacted with the person who hit his bike, but his broken wrist required surgery to realign. As a result, he no longer bikes as a primary mode of transportation.

“I already felt that biking was too stressful because of the ridiculous traffic and the lack of adherence to bike path rules, and the long-lasting impact of my injury led me to decide it wasn’t worth it,” Steele said.