About Matthew


Matthew O'Neill
 
 Matthew at the start of the California Central Coast 1200K
Photo by Stacy Kline


 

Matthew O’Neill, an experienced ultra-distance cyclist, was struck and killed by a teenage driver in Santa Maria California on August 9, 2014. There appear to have been no mitigating circumstances. Matthew was riding his bicycle legally and visibly on a straight section of Foxen Canyon Road. The driver told police that he had seen Matthew.

Whether the collision was due to inexperience, inattention, or deadly intent we may never know, but it is clear that motorists need clear and unambiguous laws and clear and unambiguous training on how to drive safely in the presence of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Changes need to be made, and we need your help. First, help us spread the word to Change a Lane when passing a cyclist. Secondly, help us Change the Law in California to allow motorists to pass a cyclist over a double yellow when safe to do so. Other states already allow this. Finally, help us convince the DMV to Change Education by updating it’s training and testing of drivers to include factually correct and legally accurate information about how to drive safely in the presence of cyclists.


As well as being an accomplished ultra-distance cyclist, Matthew O’Neill was dedicated to addressing the needs of the under-served members of our society. Matthew’s interest in civil and disability rights issues centering on special education law and policy led him to pursuing his Juris Doctorate from Whittier College in 2009. Following his law degree, Matthew furthered his legal training by becoming Ph.D. student in Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk Studies at UC Santa Barbara.  He was beginning his final year in the program in the fall of 2014. While in the Ph.D. program he worked as a Clients’ Rights Advocate for Disability Rights California’s Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy and served clients of California’s unique Regional Center system that provides services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities to live in community settings with family and friends. His passion was seeking ways for children and young adults to have inclusive and communicative experiences in public schools.