Cyclist injured in helmetless tumble on Highway 49

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A bicyclist suffered head and elbow injuries Thursday morning in a single-cycle accident on Highway 49. The accident took place near the start of a road construction zone on the highway just north of Palm Avenue in Auburn. An eyewitness who was driving near the cyclist said confusion over the cone zone may have played a role in the crash. The unidentified man, who gave his first name as Ray to emergency personnel and is believed to live in a seniors community in North Auburn, was treated at the scene for bleeding, abrasions and other injuries before being driven from the scene by ambulance to hospital. Witness Rich Leyva said he was driving near the cyclist when he entered a downhill section of southbound Highway 49 that is now being widened for a right-hand turn lane. "He ran out of shoulder," Leyva said. The paved bike lane on the shoulder where the accident occurred is now part of the cone zone and the cyclist had a choice of either going into the cone zone or riding in the traffic lane, with vehicles fairly close to his bike. There's also a drop-off between the traffic lane pavement and the construction zone surface of about a half inch. Leyva said he had slowed in an attempt to escort the rider through the narrow roadway before the traffic light. But Leyva said he watched as the cyclist, in apparent confusion, hit an orange safety cone head-on and tumbled to the pavement. "He hit his head," the witness said. "He wasn't wearing a helmet." The cyclist was treated at the scene for cuts and abrasions from the fall. Leyva said he estimated the bike was traveling at about 15 to 20 mph when the crash occurred. Auburn Police Officer Chris Forman said that with more people considering riding bicycles because of higher gas prices, they should invest some potential savings in safety gear. That would mean, at the minimum, a helmet, and could also include elbow pads or other protection. The cone zone is not the place for bicycles, as well as vehicles and pedestrians, Forman added. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at