Tell me about the day we could bicycle down the 805 freeway.


I was in high school when the 805 was built and open for business. I seem to remember hearing that the day before it was open to cars, it was open to the public to walk, bike, roller skate, etc. This turned into a huge fiasco because of the steepness of some of the hills, and little kids on bikes and parents on roller skates were wiping out all over the place. Is my recollection correct, or is this just another urban myth?

-- Se or Anonymous, San Diego

Oh the humanity! Breakneck speeders! Hot-doggers! Tailgaters! Suicidal lane-changers! Homicidal lane-changers! Turtles, snails, pedestrians in the fast lane!-- oh, sorry. That was yesterday. You're talking about March 19, 1972. That day about 8000 cyclists, joggers, and picnickers were turned loose on the seven-mile stretch of 805 from El Cajon Boulevard, across the Mission Valley bridge, north to route 52. It was billed as Community Cycle Day, and state highway officials were stoked. This was the test case for future freeway jamborees on new roads. It was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. But within two hours, things had taken a nasty turn. Broken arms, legs, a broken jaw, and lots of road rash. About 30 people were injured to one degree or another before they shut the place down at 1:00. Police estimated that some pedalists were going 50 or 60 miles an hour by the time they had hurtled themselves down the long hill and onto the bridge. Some old bikes rattled to pieces at that speed. So it was no legend. More like the original X Games.

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