Bicycling enthusiasts called on motorists to respect their right to the road Monday following the death of Randall "Randy" Gibson, a Lincoln cyclist killed Saturday by a suspected drunken driver.

Among the dozen gathered at an afternoon news conference at the Jayne Snyder Trails Center was Corey Godfrey, who went to look for Gibson after being alerted by Gibson's family that he hadn't returned from his ride.

The two have been friends for more than a decade.

"It's been a pretty hard 48 hours," Godfrey said.

Gibson, 52, was doing what Nebraska traffic laws required of him as a bicyclist, Lancaster County Chief Deputy Sheriff Todd Duncan said Monday morning.

"This was totally preventable," Duncan said of the crash, calling it a tragedy.

Gibson's death is Lancaster County's first stemming from a car-bike crash since 2014.

Prosecutors Monday charged the driver, Zygmunt Spicha, 66, 2232 Vavrina Lane, with motor-vehicle homicide due to driving under the influence.

Spicha's Jeep Cherokee hit Gibson's bike while both were headed east on West Sprague Road near Southwest 58th Street, Duncan said.

Gibson died at the scene of the crash, which happened just after 5:30 p.m.

Spicha, who remained at the scene after the crash, appeared drunk and told deputies Gibson's bike "came out of nowhere," investigators wrote in an affidavit to arrest him.

He showed signs of impairment during a field-sobriety test and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.13 percent in a breathalyzer test, the affidavit said.

Gibson was wearing a bicycle helmet.

Deputies were still trying to determine where Spicha had been drinking before the crash on the two-lane, asphalt road with no paved shoulders.

A judge set Spicha's bond at $50,000 and barred him from driving and from possessing or drinking any alcohol if he posts bail.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Gibson is one of three cyclists killed on Nebraska roads this year in crashes with motor vehicles, said Julie Harris of Nebraska Bicycling Alliance.

The death of an experienced biker such as Gibson has the bicycling community reeling, she said.

His death came two days after a crash in Lincoln where a suspected drunken driver hit a cyclist who was using the protected bike lane on N Street at Antelope Valley Parkway.

"This does definitely shake our confidence," Harris said.

A 24-year-old bicyclist struck by a car Friday at Old Cheney Road and 31st Street was in fair condition Monday. Witnesses told police the man lost control of his bike before being struck.

To date, 97 bicyclists have been hit by cars in city limits, Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said.

No amount of legislation will stop cars from hitting bikes on the road, said the chief, who is also a cyclist.

Drivers and cyclists both need to hold themselves accountable on the road, he said. Nebraska law requires cars passing cyclists to give them at least 3 feet of space.

Godfrey, 42, was one of the 97 hit this year, but it hasn't kept him from riding.

He broke a bone in his ankle and ruined his bike when a car hit him in June, but prosecutors dropped their case against the driver.

He worries that tragedies such as Gibson's death will deter people who are thinking about biking from ever starting.

Harris hopes continued enthusiasm among cyclists and advocacy to improve road safety and bike awareness will prevent would-be bikers from being discouraged.

"Today I think we just all need to take a deep breath and go through all those feelings that we're feeling with all of our friends who have been hit or killed and keep working hard," she said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.



Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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