Update: Car hits group ride in Lancaster following collision, husband and wife injured

Intersection where collision occurred; photos courtesy of Sarge and Michele Chavez

Once again, cyclists are collateral damage on the roads of Southern California.

According to a report from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, a husband and wife from Valencia were seriously injured when two vehicles collided in the middle of a Lancaster intersection.

Approximately 20 cyclists were participating in a group ride organized by a local bike shop. As they crossed the intersection of Avenue L and 4th Street West Avenue L and Division Street around 8 pm, a PT Cruiser struck a minivan that was traveling next to them, forcing the van into the couple’s path.

Despite wearing a helmet, the husband suffered head trauma and is in critical condition in a local hospital; the wife is listed stable condition with moderate injuries. Neither has been publicly identified.

More information when it becomes available.

Update: A comment left by Whitney, who was on the ride, says that that collision occurred at approximately 8 am, rather than 8 pm as the L.A. Times and other sources have reported. She offers a little insight into what happened:

The group followed all rules of the road; we were barely into the ride, just starting out, less than a mile from starting. A car ran a red light and exactly as Opus shares, no one, no action, could have prevented this with the exception of the driver of the car that ran the light at high speed.

Even if the 2 cyclists were off to the side of the road, it is possible with the speed of the car at cause, and the trajectory of the car it hit, no “spot” was safe to be. In fact, different angle and the rest of us could have been hit.

Be safe, fellow cyclists, as none of us set out on Saturday morning with anything other than the camaraderie of a group ride in mind. Do whatever you can to raise awareness with your group. No doubt someone from our group will reach out for help, to help this family.

Again, the ride was at 8am, not 8pm. Daylight, morning, not evening. Should be safe right? Perhaps cameras at stop lights aren’t such a bad thing, at least, to capture cause when something like this happens, since all too often these events are at intersections.

Whitney offers an interesting suggestion.

Even with the removal of red light cameras in Los Angeles and other cities in the Southland, there are still thousands of traffic control cameras installed at the busier intersections.

It shouldn’t cost much to expand that system to cover most major intersections, not just to monitor traffic, but to provide evidence to police, attorneys and insurance companies in the event of a collision. Maybe that’s something that could be funded by the legal and insurance professionals who have a financial stake in determining exactly who is at fault in serious wrecks.

And Whitney and Opus raise another good point. Chances are, no one could have avoided a collision like this. Sometimes events occur so swiftly that escaping is not an option. 

However, it’s important to remember that similar tragedies have resulted to death and serious injuries to other drivers, pedestrians, people waiting at bus stops, customers and employees in nearby businesses, and even people in the presumed safety of their own homes. Once a vehicle goes ballistic, there’s no way to control who or what it hits, or who gets hurt as a result. 

This is not proof, as some will undoubtedly suggest, that bicycling is dangerous.

But rather, that cars are — especially in the hands of dangerous, careless and/or speeding drivers.

My heartfelt prayers for the victims, and all their family and loved ones.

Update: I’m told that the husband, Nathan “Bud” Tippee, has died of his injuries. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any confirmation in the press, but that’s not unusual; the press often doesn’t follow-up on stories involving critically injured traffic victims. If I get any more details, I’ll let you know.

27 comments

  1. Whitney says:

    The incident happened at 8am, not 8pm. Please keep this family in your prayers.

  2. Opus the Poet says:

    This is a type of wreck I refer to as a “pinball”. Of the many types of wrecks I report on this is the one that is hardest to stay out of. First of all you have to see and identify that 2 vehicles are going to crash, then decide which one is going to intersect your path and then react to avoid it. By the time most humans have reached step 2 they have already been hit.

  3. Whitney says:

    The group followed all rules of the road; we were barely into the ride, just starting out, less than a mile from starting. A car ran a red light and exactly as Opus shares, no one, no action, could have prevented this with the exception of the driver of the car that ran the light at high speed. Even if the 2 cyclists were off to the side of the road, it is possible with the speed of the car at cause, and the trajectory of the car it hit, no “spot” was safe to be. In fact, different angle and the rest of us could have been hit. Be safe, fellow cyclists, as none of us set out on Saturday morning with anything other than the camaraderie of a group ride in mind. Do whatever you can to raise awareness with your group. No doubt someone from our group will reach out for help, to help this family. Again, the ride was at 8am, not 8pm. Daylight, morning, not evening. Should be safe right? Perhaps cameras at stop lights aren’t such a bad thing, at least, to capture cause when something like this happens, since all too often these events are at intersections.

    • On Saturdays, the Block Shop rides in the mornings and Bicycle John’s rides in the evenings. The article in the AV Press didn’t say what time the incident occurred. I didn’t recognize the names of the couple from our rides, and even though I missed our ride last night, I was pretty sure it was the Block Shop ride. Thanks for sharing, Whitney.

    • Whitney – The AV Press said the incident occurred at 4th St WEST. I didn’t think 4th St West went through at Ave L. Did it occur at 4th St West or 4th St East, where i know there is a light?

      • Whitney says:

        See below…just like the time of the incident, location is incorrectly reported as well (Ave L and Division correct location)…

  4. [...] Rogers reports on the incident in Biking in LA and a rider on the ride shared what happened in the [...]

  5. Another thing about where this occurred. Ave L is a very wide street with a 50 or 55-mph speed limit. If the driver ran the light at high speed, that means they were probably going faster than that.

    Ave L is also the same street that Lisa Collins was hit on. Granted, the situation was different, since that was at the entrance to the 14 freeway, but the speed at which cars travel on both of these portions of Ave L is too fast.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks for jumping in here, Michele. You know that area far better than I do.

      I think the bottom line is we have to stay on our legislators until they repeal that ridiculous law requiring speed limits to be raised if most drivers speed — letting speeding drivers set our speed limits is like putting bank robbers in charge of bank security. Every city needs the authority to control speeds on their own streets.

      • I couldn’t agree more.

        Unfortunately, the local paper reported recently that the speed limits on many of Lancaster’s streets are going to be raised again. One section slated to be raised is in the area of an elementary school.

  6. Acer says:

    It is important that safety advocates – LOCAL safety advocates – speak up on this, big time. Impatient motorists are clamoring to their gov’t reps for higher speed limits all over southern California and local legislators will listen to the loudest and most populated camp.

    Of course all this talk about speed limits is really changing the subject… someone ran a red light and put a bunch of motorists and cyclists in mortal danger. If the speed limit is 25mph this kind of person will still run reds until you take their keys.

    A guy in a PT Cruiser ran a stop sign in front of me and totaled my motorbike. I could have died. Speed limits got nothing to do with that. Something about PT Cruiser drivers maybe…

    • @Acer — I’ll speak to Paul Avila, the president of the High Desert Cyclists, about this. We’re becoming much more active on these kinds of issues in the past few months. Also, April Bartlett, is on the committee that is working on the new bike plan in Lancaster. She and her husband Rich Bartlett own the shop that sponsored the ride. I’m sure they will have a lot to say about this.

      • bikinginla says:

        Acer, it’s true that speed wasn’t the cause of the collision, but it undoubtedly increased its severity. If the cars had collided at a slower speed, it’s unlikely that they would have hit the riders, or at least not with sufficient force to cause such severe injuries.

        It’s also important to remember that when a car that hits a pedestrian at 20 mph, there’s an 80% survivability rate, but only a 20% survivability at 30 mph. And it only goes down further as speeds increase.

        The sort of high speed limits we have in the Antelope Valley, as well as what we’re increasingly seeing in parts of Los Angeles, may make some drivers happy, but they destroy local communities and put everyone at greater risk.

        Glad you survived that PT collision.

  7. Whitney says:

    Location was Avenue L and Division Street, intersection where Chevron Station is located (street also know as Business Center Pkwy).

  8. Thanks, Whitney! I know the intersection well. It’s the next street over from where my husband works (3rd St Street East at Ave L). He’s going to take photos of the intersection from all angles today and if those photos are good, I’m going to send them to Ted here at BikinginLA.

  9. Opus the Poet says:

    Just a correction on the speed of impact versus fatality rates. @20 MPH the fatality rate is 5%, but @30 MPH it jumps to 50%. by 40 MPH it is 80%

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks Opus. The last site I found when I was looking for that stat used the figures I cited, but I trust you when it comes to things like that.

  10. Gord Blackburde says:

    I would assert that in your area (on roads) biking is dangerous. I also understand people, as I do, love biking and it’s an important part of their life. Although I’ve found ways to avoid traffic like off-road biking and cyclocross, I understand this doesn’t address the commuter (or road) aspect of cycling. Unfortunately these two vehicles do not co-exist very well on the road.

    • bikinginla says:

      I have to disagree with you on that one. While sharing the road with cars may seem dangerous, if everyone observes the law, and rides and drives safely, it’s almost impossible to have a collision. The problem comes when someone breaks the law or does something stupid, like the driver who ran the red light in this case.

      Personally, I’d feel much safer riding on the road than doing what you do.

  11. Wes Oishi says:

    That’s a pretty big “if”.

  12. Whitney says:

    All I will add is I put my hazards on on the 2 (mountain pass from Pasadena to Palmdale) to help out 2 cyclists, I slowed down to give cyclist a hand, 2 tailgating drivers behind me, and was honked at by drivers. Guess arriving home 10 minutes earlier is worth more than cyclists lives. We are in such a hurry, life has taken a back seat. Is being late worse than killing someone?

  13. @Whitney – I once had a driver tell me exactly that. I was volunteering at the Malibu Triathlon in Leo Carrillo Park. Part of my job was to hold back drivers leaving the parking lot if there were lots of cyclists going through that part of the park at the time. One driver was getting really antsy. When I pointed out politely that he wouldn’t want to kill a cyclist, he said, “Yes, I would! I’m late to work!” And he wasn’t kidding.

  14. [...] of the injuries he received when a car went out of control following a Lancaster collision, and struck him and his wife while they participated in a group ride. She was less severely [...]

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