H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Apr 30, 2012 11:30 PM by Ariel Wesler

Bicyclist killed co-founded cycling club in Orcutt

An elderly driver crashed into and killed bicyclist from Santa Maria over the weekend.

James Hamlin, 58, was bike riding on the shoulder of Highway 1 near Vandenberg Air Force Base when he was hit from behind. The California Highway Patrol says the 84-year-old driver came out of a curve and drifted into the shoulder rear ending Hamlin.

It happened yesterday around 1 p.m. in the southbound lanes of Highway 1, just south of San Antonio Road East.

Friends say he went by "Jim" and co-founded the Cutters Cycling Club in Orcutt about 10 years ago. Investigators say Hamlin was riding in the center of the shoulder, and obeying traffic laws, when he was hit.

It happens all across America in the blink of an eye. A bike camera captured a recent crash in Berkeley. Neither biker was seriously injured but that wasn't the case closer to home this past weekend.

Veteran cyclist Jim Hamlin was killed while bike riding on a section of Highway 1 between Santa Maria and Lompoc.

"This is a pretty popular stretch. This was part of the stretch in the Solvang century," said Matthew Kenny of Santa Maria.

Like Hamlin, Kenny of regularly rides that route. He enjoys it because of the 8 foot shoulder, which he says is wider than most areas in town.

"It takes a lot for somebody to go way over and take out a cyclist and there's been a lot of that lately," Kenny said.

The Santa Maria CHP says this is the 8th collision involving a cycling so far this year for an area that normally averages about 10 of those crashes annually and the summer months are still ahead.

With high gas prices and great Central Coast weather, more trouble could be just around the corner for bike riders.

"There's more and more cyclists, so it's bound to increase," said Ken Dally, President of the Tailwinds Bicycle Club.

The CHP has already started meeting with the cycling community to discuss ways to improve safety.

"It scares me that so many accidents are happening and when you get hit on a bicycle, you're going to get hurt one way or another," Kenny said.

The CHP is still investigating what caused the crash. So far, no charges have been filed against the driver.

A 50-mile ride is being organized by the Cutters this Saturday morning, May 5th, in Hamlin's memory. If you would like to participate, the group will meet at the Albertson's parking lot in Orcutt at 8 a.m.

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