Bicyclists mourn for man, 21, killed in crash

TRAGIC ACCIDENT Andrew Von Guerard, 21, was a barista at Taste Coffee House and was completing a political science degree. TRAGIC ACCIDENT
Andrew Von Guerard, 21, was a barista at Taste Coffee House and was completing a political science degree.
By Sarah Thomas
Globe Correspondent / May 19, 2010

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As the state’s annual Bike Week got underway, bicyclists mourned yesterday for a 21-year-old who was killed when his bike rammed a sport utility vehicle in Newton earlier in the week.

Andrew David Von Guerard, a Colorado man who worked at a local coffee shop, was killed Monday when he apparently ran a red light at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Homer Street around 5:15 p.m., Newton police said yesterday.

He was not wearing a helmet, police said.

Von Guerard was a barista at Taste Coffee House in Newtonville and was completing a political science degree by taking online courses from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colo., according to his sister, Joy Von Guerard.

“He was such an amazing guy, smart and funny,’’ she said yesterday. “He loved history. Yesterday he went to Bunker Hill. We were all so excited for him to come home in August. He was a great brother, and a great uncle to my daughter Leila.’’

At Taste, employees held a candlelight vigil last night.

“Andy was a one-of-a-kind person,’’ said Nikolas Krankl, Andrew Von Guerard’s boss at Taste. “He was happy-go-lucky and didn’t have a bad bone in his body. He taught me to live in the moment, whether he was skiing or riding his bike or just sitting and enjoying a cup of espresso with me.’’

Police said the accident occurred when the bicyclist failed to stop for a red light at the intersection as he was traveling east on Commonwealth.

A 2007 Honda SUV driven by a 48-year-old Newton woman was traveling northbound on Homer Street when it was struck on the left side by the bicyclist, police said.

The accident occurred on the first day of Bay State Bike Week. Bicyclists are planning to gather today for a previously scheduled “Ride of Silence’’ to draw attention to bicyclists who have been killed or injured in the past year.

“This year already felt different to me, because in previous years you didn’t have so many fatalities so close together,’’ said David Watson, executive director of MassBike.

“But now, after Eric Hunt’s April 7 death on Huntington Avenue and another death right at the beginning of Bike Week, I think it’s going to be even more powerful.’’

Eric Michael Hunt, 22, was killed by an MBTA bus on April 7 while riding his bike on Huntington Avenue, near where the road bends to become South Huntington.

The next day, a 37-year-old man on his bicycle was hit by a car and seriously injured at the edge of Boston Common.

“There are hundreds of bike-related injuries reported every year, and probably many more that are never reported,’’ Watson said.

“While we can never eliminate the danger inherent in using a particular mode of transportation, there are ways we can change both the designs of our roads and the culture of those who use them to make the streets safer for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.’’

The Ride of Silence is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today, departing from Seven Hills Park in Somerville behind the Davis Square MBTA station. Bicyclists will make their way through Cambridge to Boston, and stop at the Charles Street entrance to Boston Common.

Newton’s mayor, Setti Warren, who spent Sunday riding the streets of Newton on his bicycle while leading the Bike Newton Rally and Ride, said he was saddened by Von Guerand’s death.

“My heart goes out to the family, and my thoughts are with them,’’ Warren said. “This is a tragedy.’’

Bike activists cited the death in calling for improved bike paths and bike lanes.

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