Cisco Cable Engineer Dies in Bike Accident: Report

John Pickens, a Cisco Systems engineer who previously helped develop some of the earliest cable modems and CMTSs, died Saturday in a bicycle accident in near his home in Northern California, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Pickens, who was 66, crashed around 12:45 p.m. on a road just north of the Fremont, Calif., city limits after leaving his Newark home on his bike, and died after hitting his head, according to the newspaper.

At Cisco, Pickens was a distinguished engineer of IP video systems with “technology leadership in device-flexible video delivery/storage core network technologies,” according to his LinkedIn profile. He joined Cisco with its acquisition in 2006 of VOD vendor Arroyo Video Solutions, where he served as vice president of technology.

In a statement, Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers said: "We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Pickens, and the thoughts and prayers of all at Cisco are with the Pickens family. John was a beloved member of the Cisco family for more than six years and a distinguished engineer whose intelligence and hard work was admired by all who knew him, including his Cisco colleagues and customers."

Pickens' title of "distinguished engineer" is the most senior position for Cisco engineers. According to the company, those in this role exhibit superior leadership, responsibility, and accomplishment in technical and strategic areas critical to Cisco's success.

Earlier in his career, Pickens was chief technology officer at Com21, an early cable modem and CMTS vendor, where he contributed to the CableLabs DOCSIS 1.1 specification. He also was CTO of Cablematrix, where he contributed to CableLabs’ PacketCable spec.

As a systems programmer at the University of California Santa Barbara, Pickens developed software for Arpanet -- the precursor to today’s Internet -- to connect one of the first IBM mainframes to the network, according to his LinkedIn page.

Pickens is survived by his wife, Melinda, and three children and four grandchildren, according to the Mercury News. The family has not set a date for a memorial service, the newspaper reported.