Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
John Daley ReportingHit from behind while riding a bike on the side of the road, 25-year-old Josie Johnson was struck and killed by an SUV last fall. Her death is now the inspiration for some new legislation.
Go to any bike shop and the folks there will know Josie Johnson. For years bikers have been frustrated by what they see as dangerous drivers and dangerous roads. Now Josie Johnson has become the face of that cause.
Every day on Capitol Hill advocates hold press conferences on this or that issue, but it's not every day they're riding two-wheelers and wearing helmets. Among those there are two men--Richard and Ken Johnson--who never dreamed they'd be there under these circumstances.
Last fall on a clear, crisp day a bicyclist was riding up Big Cottonwood Canyon near Solitude Ski Resort in the outside lane, when she was struck from behind by an SUV. The rider was a 25-year-old University of Utah molecular biology graduate student named Josie Johnson. She was Richard's daughter.
Richard Johnson: “She was hit directly behind. She was very much at the side of the road. The car was maybe even off the road when it hit her. An extraordinary situation because the road where she was hit was the safest place in the whole canyon; so it’s a real sad thing.” Josie Johnson's Father
Josie was Ken Johnson's sister.
Ken Johnson: “We have so many beautiful places to ride and so many great rides to go on. It hurts me to know when riders go out there, they’re at risk of getting hit. And my sister is an unfortunate, tragic example of that.”
A new bill would require motorists to keep three feet away from bicyclists when passing, unless the road is too narrow.
On average, each year on Utah's roads seven bicyclists are killed and 940 are injured, many struck from behind. Those who support the bill are certainly many of the people who ride bikes in Utah; they hope it will send a message, one which honors the memory of Josie Johnson.
Ken Johnson: “Bicyclists are out there. We’re gonna share the road. Please don’t hit us, don’t run us off the road.”
Four months after her death, the case against the driver of the SUV who hit Josie Johnson is still under investigation. The Sheriff's Department recommended the driver be charged with negligent homicide and passed the case to the District Attorney's office. They say they are still investigating, no charges have been filed.