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Longtime cyclist John Rous killed in accident

John Rous

John Rous, 78, was struck by a vehicle and killed Tuesday on Old Alfred Harrell Highway. 

The Bakersfield cycling community lost one of its fixtures on Tuesday.

John Rous, 78, was killed at about 10:30 a.m. after a car hit him as he was riding by Old Alfred Harrell Highway, just north of Alfred Harrell Highway, in northeast Bakersfield, according to the Kern County Coroner’s Office.

The driver of a Toyota Scion was heading east on Alfred Harrell Highway when the driver attempted to make a slight left turn and hit Rous as he was heading west, according to the California Highway Patrol. Rous suffered severe injuries from the accident and died at the scene.

Rous was a longtime cyclist and also had participated in about 70 marathons, according to Jim Cowles, who said he had been friends with Rous for more than 40 years. He said they first met when they joined the Bakersfield Track Club.

“He was a wonderful man,” Cowles said. “John was a good friend to lots and lots of people. He was someone who was always there for everybody.”

Cowles said Rous had ridden up to Hart Park from town and was on the way back when the accident happened. Cowles said Rous had biked that route “thousands of times.”

Rous was also involved with several bike-related events and groups. He was the organizer of the Pie Run, an early morning Thanksgiving Day run at Hart Park, during which runners and walkers would bring pie and other desserts to share with one another. 

“No one would start until John Rous told them to,” said friend Margaret Patteson. “The Pie Run will never be the same.”

Patteson said she got to know Rous about 20 years ago after they both joined a running group that met several times a week at the Bagels & Blenderz shop on Stockdale Highway.

“We would all do a run and when we came back, we would sit around to have coffee and visit until we all had to go to work or go home,” she said.

Patteson said that as Rous got older, he did less running and more biking. Besides just riding in town, she said Rous had gone on several cross-state bike trips that took several days to complete.

“He was just a great guy, a stellar member of our community,” she said. “He was amazing, and everyone knew him because he was involved in a lot of things.”

Patteson described him as “bigger than life,” a reference to his height of around 6’5” but also in his personality and how much he was a part of the community.

“He had a great sense of humor. He was very generous,” she said. “It’s senseless what happened to him. When I heard about the accident, I was just devastated and sickened. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Rous leaves behind a wife, three children, several grandchildren and other family.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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