Orange County claims yet another biking victim

Just days after a police crackdown on cyclists and drivers intended to reduce Orange County’s one-a-month rate of cycling deaths, another cyclist has been killed on the county’s streets.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a cyclist described only as a middle-aged man was hit and killed on San Joaquin Hills Road east of Spyglass Hill Road in Newport Beach around 6 pm Monday. The unidentified 22-year old suspected drunk driver was booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicate, with bail set at $100,000. An earlier report placed the time of the collision at 5:59 pm; the rider was pronounced dead at the scene.

More details as they become available.

But here’s the thing.

Despite protestations from some quarters, bad bicyclist behavior does not cause most bicycling deaths. Bad driving does.

Even a cursory examination of cyclists killed in Orange County recently suggests that the problem isn’t cyclists running stop signs, riding two abreast or even flipping off drivers, as obnoxious as that may be.

They died at the hands of drunk, high or careless drivers. Simply put, no crackdown on rider behavior would have done a damn thing to save the lives of Michael Nine, Donald Murphy or Alan Earl Miller.

Or nine-year-old Nicholas Vela, who was killed as he rode in a crosswalk in front of a monster truck, whose driver couldn’t see him because the truck was jacked up so high.

Nor did this rider, whoever he may turn out to be, apparently do anything to cause his own death, other than take to the streets at the same time a drunk was behind the wheel. And apparently, there is no shortage of those behind the Orange Curtain.

Orange County clearly has serious problems.

But they’re not going to solve them by targeting the victims.

Update: The driver has been identified as Danae Marie Miller of Newport Coast; no word yet on the victim.

26 comments

  1. Jim Lucas says:

    As congress redefines rape so that less males can be charged with rape, California tries to blame 150 to 250 pound bicyclists for their own deaths by blaming those killed, by drunks and bullies using their 3000 to 80,000 pound weapons, instead of blaming the drunks and bullies.

  2. Will Campbell says:

    Whether intentionally or unwittingly done, certainly the bias as to fault in many of these tragedies is often against the cyclist. And in our deeply embedded car culture there’s also an unfair onus of intentional irresponsibility placed upon anyone “insane” enough to ride our streets — whether they do it safely or not.

    But having witnessed car v. bike as well as bike v. bike and bike v. ped accidents due to cyclist negligence (along with numerous near-misses), I’d respectfully suggest possibly clarifying or elaborating on your statement “…bad bicyclist behavior does not cause bicycling deaths.”

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks for calling me on that, Will; I was a little sloppy in my wording in trying to get something online before bed last night.

      What I meant to say was that the overwhelming majority of cycling deaths appear to be caused my something other than bad behavior on the part of the cyclist. Of the roughly 40 SoCal bicycling deaths I’m aware of since I started tracking them a few years ago, nine appear to be the fault of the rider; of those, only three resulted from running stop signs, one ran a red light and two were riding on the wrong side of the road; the rest resulted from riders losing control of their bikes.

      That’s not to say that bad behavior doesn’t contribute to a greater percentage of non-fatal collisions. I suspect that most collisions caused by stupid bike tricks tend to occur at lower speed situations which tend to be more survivable.

  3. [...] to sprawl — 27 percent — than any other state in the country over the last 25 years. Biking in L.A. reports that Orange County continues to be deadly for cyclists, claiming another victim just days [...]

  4. Lee says:

    It does not matter who is at fault, the bottom line is it is dangerous to ride a bike in the OC. I live in Irvine and people have been hit and died around the corner from where I live more than once. My feeling is you have to be crazy to ride a bike on a busy street. I ride only on my cul-de-sac, and can live to talk about it. You might as well just wear a bulls-eye on your back if you bike on a major road. The bikers try their best, but there is always some bad driver or drunk who winds up killing people. And car vs. bike always results in bike losing.

    • Will Campbell says:

      Lee’s right in that no matter how careful you are as a cyclist you’re only as safe as the worst driver out there with you. But Lee’s wrong in perpetuating that fear-based assumption that it’s crazy to ride a bike on a busy street. I’ve logged more than 15,000 bike commute miles these past years across Los Angeles and along some of its busiest streets in the form of 200 plus days riding per year 30 miles roundtrip each day and I’ve lived to talk about it too.

      Laps around a cul-de-sac are a status quo that Lee’s satisfied with, but that’s not the way I ever want to be able to live or talk about.

      • bikinginla says:

        Lee, riding in traffic may seem very dangerous, but it’s actually pretty safe once you know how to do it. I would suggest taking a course with a Licensed Cycling Instructor to gain the skills that will allow you to ride safely and without fear; the Orange County Bicycle Coalition has a list of upcoming classes.

        As you point out, there are far too many cyclists killed in Orange County; however, the number of deaths and injuries pales in comparison to the vast number of cyclists and miles ridden. You actually face far greater risk walking on the sidewalk — or taking a shower — than you do riding a bike.

        As the saying goes, a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. I invite you to get out on your bike, and discover the freedom and joy you can only experience on two wheels.

        • Matt O'Toole says:

          I’ll second that! Also, the 4 recent fatalities in Newport all happened on wide suburban roads with bike lanes or wide outer lanes, which most people assume are safer. But these roads may be “too easy” — they encourage driving too fast, and not paying close attention.

  5. Carlos Morales says:

    There also was a cyclist hit yesterday in Hollywood, cyclist was hit by a motorist making a left hand turn.

  6. balayeur says:

    it’s really sad too because this stretch of road claimed a life last year when an errant landscaping truck was backing up or driving against the flow of traffic causing the rider to do avoidance maneuver that resulted in his untimely death.

    As much as I love driving, one would almost want to see gas prices go north just so more people would look at this and start making the lifestyle change. Heaven forbid that a portion of the US pop would indirectly get healthy by doing this would be a plus.

    • JR newport says:

      Wasn’t this stretch of road. It was a downhill section of Spyglass Hill Road a mile away. Different circumstances

    • sam love says:

      i just wanted to say that i knew danae miller and she is a very sweet girl and made one mistake that is now going to change her life forever. yes my heart goes out to the bicyclist family but i do not think that danae deserves to go to jail. and i was talking to her sister and she told me that she only had a couples sips of wine… well idk i think everyone is being to harsh on her

      • bikinginla says:

        Sorry, Sam — Danae Miller isn’t the victim here. Amine Britel is.

        No one gets intoxicated on a couple sips of wine. If she was in fact legally drunk, she had to consume at least a couple of drinks, then make a conscious decision that she was sober enough to drive. The dangers of drunk driving are well known, and included on every driver’s test, so she had no excuse.

        She may or may not go to jail, but it is clear from her driving record that she should never be allowed behind the wheel again. She has clearly proven that she is either incapable or unwilling to operate a motor vehicle in a safe and legal manner.

        But even if she does go to jail, she will come home to her family in a few months or a few years. Amine Britel will never come home again.

        It’s time to stop making excuses for drunk drivers.

      • Will Campbell says:

        It’s not easy, but I’m doing my best to recognize that sam love’s personal connection with Danae Miller is leading him to think “everyone is being too harsh on her” for what he believes is “one mistake” when in fact she reportedly has a long history of mistakes as an unsafe driver.

        I’m also wondering if he’d be so unblinkingly forgiving and feel she is so undeserving of jail if he had been acquainted with Amine Britel, the person she killed?

  7. When people say it’s too dangerous to ride on streets, I say to them it’s only too dangerous because drivers like you refuse to drive safely and share the road. When people tell me the streets are too dangerous, I take that as an indirect threat on my life. Only YOU can make the streets safe by obeying the law. Period.

  8. The Trickster says:

    Things are pretty bad down here at the moment, but a story that is semi-amusing in that “how the hell did they survive that?!” kind of way.

    Just as a FYI, Evans Pass is in the hills behind Chch very close to the epicentre.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/canterbury-earthquake/4694248/Cyclists-dodge-rocky-death

  9. JR newport says:

    We don’t have enough facts yet to analyze the incident or make it a broader issue. Let’s put frustration on hold instead of coloring an unfolding story with personal feelings.
    She was allegedly DUI and he couldn’t have beeno going too fast (uphill road). Both bike lane and road are wide. Was stlll light out. Cars often speed here. But she was 22 and just got off work… Texting? Talking on phone? Let’s see…

    • Texting and talking on the phone are just as bad as being drunk. Have you seen the newest information out? This girl was 22 years old and from 2005 to 2009 received 16 moving violations, most for speeding, a few for talking/texting while driving, one for driving on the wrong side of the road, and one for failure to stop at a stop sign. I’m all for due process, but her track record doesn’t help her too much. She has basically been a menace to any road user since she received her license, and now someone is dead. Is she responsible? It seems highly likely to me. And based on her track record, this looks like gross negligence, and I do think she should serve jail time. She’s basically been firing a loaded gun into crowds of people since 2005–that’s what negligent driving is: firing a loaded gun into a crowd and not caring if it hits anyone.

      • balayeur says:

        a quick subpoena of her mobile phone record will tell the tale

      • Jared says:

        Jesus, 16 moving violations in 4-5 years.

        I really think that after you get X amount of tickets, you should get your license revoked for a few years and have to retake the driving test at a later point in life.

        I don’t see how someone who clearly doesn’t respect the law is allowed to continue driving a vehicle.

  10. Lois Rubin says:

    this is the guy she killed: http://www.wafin.com/mom/5/Amine-Britel

    if you google his name, you’ll see his races etc.

  11. Matt O'Toole says:

    More about Amine in this morning’s Daily Pilot.

    With 16 violations in 5 years, I too can’t help wondering why this young lady is still on the road. Also, a 22 year old from Newport Coast is probably still living with their parents, or being supported by them. Is this another spoiled Newport kid run amok?

    • AMI says:

      Is working two jobs to support herself “another spoiled Newport kid run amok”?

      • Mike says:

        She is another spoiled kid. How else could she have posted the 100K bail to get out the very next morning?

        I’m so sick of you hare-brained idiots making excuse from that irresponsible POS.

  12. Matt O'Toole says:

    Ms. Miller has pleaded guilty to yet another, separate violation – a ticket for cell phone use in November. This one would have finally put her over the limit to lose her license – unfortunately not in time to save Mr. Britel.

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