Biker killed by SUV, Newton concerned

By Jesse Zhang
Published: June 2010

Senior Matt Ma was the last person to see Andy von Guerard alive. While dropping off library books, Ma had waved to von Guerard as he biked past.

Ma remembers Andy von Guerard as more than a colleague and friend.

“So far as male bonding goes, we were almost on a bromantic level, Ma said. “We were very close since we were the only male, non-boss employees [at our workplace].

Like many, Ma has mourned over the tragic death of 21-year-old von Guerard on May 17, who ran a red light at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Homer Street and collided with a sports utility vehicle.

It was Newton’s first bike-related fatality in three years.

Von Guerard was pronounced dead after being transported to Beth Israel Hospital by ambulance shortly after the collision. He had not been wearing a helmet.

Ma had worked with von Guerard at the Taste Coffeehouse in Newtonville for almost a year.

Ma, who often refers to von Guerard as a “space cadet, recalled how many of the regular customers would come in just to have a chat with von Guerard.

“He always gets the job done, and he always does it with a smile on his face, Ma said.

Von Guerard was originally from Grand Junction, Colorado, and has been living in Waltham since August 2009. He was an online student at Mesa State University and had turned 21 on April 30, about two weeks before his accident.

“I think everyone should learn to truly appreciate their friends every day, Ma said. “You have to let them know that you¦ appreciate them for being there and helping you out. Otherwise you would feel so mad at yourself for missing an opportunity to tell them what you always wanted to say if something happened to them.

Senior Yuji Wakimoto, like many other South students and teachers, bikes regularly to school.

“[Von Guerard's death] definitely brings awareness to paying attention on the street for both the driver and the cyclist, Wakimoto said. “You never think this situation would happen.

After von Guerard’s accident, another 40-year-old cyclist was ran over on May 27 while cycling east on Commonwealth Avenue.

According to a Newton TAB article, a red Toyota Corolla had knocked the cyclist over and pulled him under the car.

The cyclist survived, and the city is now working harder to enforce bicycle safety. Mayor Setti Warren hopes to develop a five to 10-year plan that will possibly install bicycle lanes.

Warren, BikeNewton, and the Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force said that they were attemting to increase bicycle safety even before the accidents through advocacy for bike lanes.

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