Californians remember two bicyclists killed in traffic; fund drive open

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More than 1,200 cyclists took to the streets in Newport Beach on Sunday in a memorial bike ride for two bicycle riders killed in separate crashes in September.

Catherine Ritz

Sarah Leaf

The two, Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz and Sarah Leaf, were struck on their bikes and killed in a period of under 24 hours.

Ritz, 57, a family practice doctor, was struck by a hit and run driver while on a bike ride with her husband. Leaf, 29, a nutritionist, was killed when a truck made a right turn into her path.

The City of Newport Beach sponsored the one-mile bike ride to memorialize the two bicyclists. The event also drew attention to the need to share the road and raise money for bike safety.

It’s a tragedy that two bicyclists had to die before the city saw the need to focus attention on the plight of bicyclists on its streets. I’m sure bicycle advocates had been raising alarms for years.

Matching grant

The city did take the step to offer a matching grant for bicycling safety improvements. For every $1 raised for the 2012 Share the Road Memorial Ride, the city will match with $3 for bicycle improvements — up to $450,000.

That means if the Memorial Ride raises $150,000, then a total $600,000 will be available for bicycle safety improvements in the city. The money raised will go to sharrow markings, share the road signs on Coast Highway, improvements to bike lanes on Newport Coast Drive, and other projects around the city.

The matching program goes through Dec. 31, 2012, so there’s still time to donate at Share the Road Memorial website. So far, about $53,000 has been raised, which is about $100,000 short of the goal of $150,000.

If you’re a bicyclist in Southern California, here’s a way to improve safety in Newport Beach.

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