Pittsburgh hit-and-run crash kills bicyclist
By Margaret Harding
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 8:58 a.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
James Price was riding his daily bicycle route through the East End on Wednesday when a driver struck him and sped away, leaving him by the street to die.
“How do you take somebody's life and think that it's OK?” said his sister, Rochelle Jackson, 51, of Homewood. “I believe they're going to either turn themselves in on their own or be found. I trust God. God is going to take care of my family.”
Price, 46, of Homewood was riding inbound on Penn Avenue just past Penfield Court when the driver of a white car hit him, throwing him 6 feet off the mountain bike just after 5 a.m., Pittsburgh police said. Sunrise Wednesday was at 6:11 a.m.
Witnesses told police the driver sped away inbound at about 60 mph. Doctors pronounced Price dead at UPMC Presbyterian about 5:30 a.m.
“It's despicable behavior that needs to stop,” said Scott Bricker, executive director of BikePGH, a bicyclist advocacy group. “We're not animals to leave on the side of the road. We're human beings. We deserve that modicum of humanity.”
Price began riding daily for exercise two years ago and lost about 100 pounds after he was diagnosed with diabetes, Jackson said. He rode early in the morning to avoid traffic and make it back in time for classes, she said. He was almost finished studying air conditioning repair.
“He was looking forward to working,” Jackson said. “He was excited to be in the position he was in.”
Price was wearing a helmet, police said. Relatives said his mountain bike was equipped with lights, reflectors and bicycle turn-signals.
“His bike was like a car on two wheels,” Jackson said. “He was a safe biker.”
Motorists often exceed the 35 mph speed limit in that part of Penn, which has four narrow lanes, no shoulders and no bike lanes, said Bricker, who added that he doesn't feel safe biking there and avoids it.
“It's an unpleasant experience,” Bricker said. “But a lot of people do bike there. I think this tragedy is a calling for us to do something about it.”
Bricker said he would like to see the road converted to two lanes with bike lanes and a center turn lane. Stephen Patchan, the city's bicycle/pedestrian safety coordinator, said officials have no immediate plans for bike safety improvements on that part of Penn.
“At some point, we're going to look at all the streets in the city,” Patchan said. “There are other projects we identified before where we determined we could have a pretty significant impact.”
The city has painted more than 40 miles of bike lanes and shared-lane markings and has increased bicycle parking, mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said. Patchan said the city plans to paint bike lanes or shared-lane markings on East Carson, Butler and Smallman Streets within the next few weeks.
“We're constantly looking at assessing corridors and streets to improve safety,” Patchan said.
Over the past few years, outside groups have praised Pittsburgh for its attention to bike safety. But incidents such as this leave a mark on the close-knit biking community.
Bricker noted a hit-and-run that injured a rider on Liberty Avenue in May. His group's website said Price was the first bicyclist to die in a crash in the city since June 2010.
Price's family said they will remember him as a friendly, loving person who adored his daughter, 10, who lives in California.
“He had so many friends and an enormous family,” Jackson said. “He's really going to be missed.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.