On Saturday in broad daylight while on a group ride, Julie Galezniak of Stratford, Camden County was struck and killed on Sykesville Road, a semi-rural road in Chesterfield Township, NJ.
She was airlifted to Trenton Hospital and died from her injuries. All who were there that day were deeply and profoundly affected by this act of violence. To date, no charges have been filed and the name of the driver has not yet been released. Julie is the 20th cyclist to die on New Jersey’s roads this year and one of 223 vulnerable road users. The highest total vulnerable road users killed since 1989.
Julie was very well known in the cycling community as she frequently rode with several bicycle clubs in South Jersey and in Southeastern PA.
There will be a memorial service for Julie Galezniak tomorrow morning, the family encourages friends to wear green, her favorite color:
A memorial bike ride and ghost bike dedication will happen on Saturday, December 18 at 10 am departing from the Chesterfield Municipal Building. Township police will escort the riders to the memorial site.
We at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia offer our deepest condolences to Julie’s family and friends.
A Closer Look at Sykesville Road in Chesterfield
Just 6 weeks early on October 20th a pedestrian was struck and killed on the same road. In that case, the driver was issued a summons for Careless Driving. The fact that there were two fatal vulnerable road user crashes in such a short period of time highlights that the road needs to be looked at for improvements.
We seek justice for Julie and call on law enforcement to hold the driver accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, far too often, we see that drivers are never charged.
And this is why the New Jersey Safe Passing Law is so vital to the state. There’s no reason we shouldn’t start abiding by it despite the fact that it gets implemented in March of next year. The new law specifically provides guidance when passing a vulnerable road user “…move over a lane if available and safe to do so, provide at least 4 feet of room, or reduced speed (25pmh) and proceed around with caution.”
The deadly road where these tragedies took place is Sykesville Rd and is a local township road. It has 11-foot wide lanes several curves, hills, and has no shoulders yet the speed limit for most of the road is an astonishing 50 miles per hour.
Speed kills. A person struck at 20 mph has a 95% chance of survival while a person struck at 40 miles per hour has a less than 20% chance. The difference in travel time on this road between 50 mph and 35 mph is 1 minute and 51 seconds Given the curves of the road, the average speed the real difference in travel time is invariably shorter.
The position of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is that any rural or suburban road without any shoulders, separated bicycle infrastructure, or a sidepath should not have a speed limit of greater than 40 mph.