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Family of man who was killed while riding an electric scooter on Pershing Drive sues San Diego

John Sepulveda, 34, was struck by car in a bike lane on Pershing Drive, two months after a cyclist was killed only blocks away
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO — The family of a 34-year-old man who was struck and killed by a car while riding a scooter on Pershing Drive last year is suing the city of San Diego.

John Sepulveda died on September 18, 2021, while riding a scooter in a bike lane behind his sister and her husband, just before 11 pm that night. A 17-year-old driver hit Sepulveda from behind while he was riding in a delineated bike lane. 

Two months prior to Sepulveda's death,  architect and planner for San Diego State University, Laura Shinn, was killed by an impaired driver while riding her bike on Pershing Drive, just four blocks away.

Shinn's husband, as first reported by CBS 8, filed a lawsuit last month against the city alleging unsafe conditions along Pershing Drive.

In the newest lawsuit, Sepulveda's family says the city failed to ensure pedestrian safety by not having visible street markings alerting drivers to the bike lane, and for lack of signage and poor street lighting.

This, says the lawsuit, even after Shinn's death two months prior.

[The city of San Diego] failed to undertake any remedial measures to alleviate risks to the public, [Sepulveda and his family] of the known hazardous conditions on Pershing Drive subsequent to Shinn's death and prior to [Sepulveda's] death," reads the lawsuit.

Two days after Sepulveda was killed, Mayor Todd Gloria ordered crews to install protective bollards to create a buffer between vehicles and pedestrians inside the bike lane.

“Traveling around our City without a car should not be life-threatening," said Gloria in a September 23, 2021 statement. "I will continue to work to make active transportation safe for all residents in all neighborhoods.”

The lawsuit also blames the scooter company, Superpedestrian, Inc., the scooter manufacturer, Link, as well as the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). 

In January of this year, SANDAG began construction on the Pershing Bikeway Project, a project to "transform Pershing Drive into a “low-stress” street that will be more convenient and comfortable for people biking, walking, and rolling." 

In a statement, a city spokesperson said that the city "is committed to our Vision Zero goals and making streets safer for everyone. Investments in protected bike lanes save lives. They are key to creating safer road conditions by giving bicycle and scooter riders a dedicated space that those driving vehicles can easily see. That is why, under Mayor Gloria's leadership, the Fiscal Year 2023 budget adds additional funding and resources for the construction of new bicycle and micro-mobility facilities across San Diego. We are bundling new and improved bike lanes with street repair work already underway throughout the City."  

The spokesperson also said the city, as part of Mayor Gloria's "Sexy Street Initiative" is rebuilding "some of the most heavily traveled streets in San Diego."

That includes 18 miles of bike lanes and eight new bike lane projects in this fiscal year. 

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