The 92-year-old El Cerrito woman who died after being hit by a bicyclist Wednesday as she took her afternoon walk was identified as longtime area resident Jean Christensen Smith.
The collision happened about 5:30 p.m. as Smith was almost finished walking across Arlington Boulevard at the Brewster Drive intersection, police traffic Sgt. Shawn Maples said. She died shortly before midnight.
Smith had lived just a block from where she was hit, Maples said. She was a small woman, about 5 feet 3 inches, he added.
The cyclist, a 57-year-old El Cerrito man, was riding within the speed limit in a northbound bicycle lane on Arlington Boulevard and appeared to have seen Smith from some distance, Maples said. The man called out to her, but "for some reason, he wasn't able to brake or take evasive action to miss her," Maples said.
Smith was hit, fell to the ground and suffered a serious head wound. She was rushed by helicopter to the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where she died, Maples said. She had family members who live nearby, and they were at her bedside when she died, he said.
The man was thrown from his bicycle and was also hurt, though he broke no bones and his injuries were not life-threatening, Maples said. The man remained in a Richmond hospital Thursday morning.
"It's really a tragedy," Maples said. "How do you make it 92 years and you're out taking a walk, trying to be healthy, and then this happens?"
Investigators determined that the man would have been able to see Smith from more than 400 feet away, Maples said. There was a short skid mark near where the crash happened indicating the man had used his rear wheel brake, he added.
There is no indication the man was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash, but police are awaiting toxicology reports to confirm that, Maples said. The cyclist's speed also did not appear to be an issue, he added, as he was well within the 25 mph speed limit.
"There are no clear signs of negligence or impairment on the part of the rider," he said.
Smith had been crossing at an intersection, but was not in a crosswalk, Maples said. The crosswalk for that intersection was about 30 feet away.
Smith's death underscores a need for police to focus on bicycle safety, Maples said.
He cited the April death of 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, a San Bruno man who was struck by a 35-year-old bicyclist in San Francisco. San Francisco's district attorney has said the cyclist will be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
"We really need to focus on what's going on with cyclists and pedestrians coming into contact like this," Maples said. "Every year, we have a sprinkling of cyclists in collisions with pedestrians and cars.
"Cyclists are not always at fault, of course, but in the last couple months they've been at fault a lot," Maples said. "We've seen failure to yield for stop signs and red lights, passing collisions."
Two months ago, a cyclist was injured after riding behind a truck on Arlington Boulevard and illegally pulling across a double-yellow line to pass the truck just as the truck legally turned to the left to enter a driveway, Maples said. The cyclist plowed directly into the left side of the truck.
Contact Sean Maher at 925-943-8013. Follow him at Twitter.com/oneseanmaher.