Exclusive — What really happened in the Mulholland motorcycle crash that took out two bike riders

You knew there had to be more to the story.

The video of the now infamous Mulholland motorcycle crash that took out two bicyclists is rapidly going viral around the world. Soon to be joined by this view of the same collision from the perspective of a motorcyclist trailing the rider who rear-ended the two bikes.

Area resident Chris Willig forwards word that the collision occurred at the aptly named Deadman’s Turn on a section of Mulholland called The Snake by the motorcycling community, and the Rock Store Climb by bicyclists. According to Willig, and another comment from Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, it’s common for photographers and videographers to position their camera’s there to capture the action.

As Willig put it,

Photographers are there every weekend to capture the parade of cars, motorcycles and cyclists on this particular turn since it approaches 270°. Things happen at this point because drivers aren’t use to negotiating a turn like this.

Speculation has centered on a phenomenon known as target fixation as the cause of the collision, in which riders are unable to avoid whatever they are most focused on.

However, Byron of Bike Hugger points out the camera flash clearly visible in the trailing bike cam video, suggesting that the rider was looking for the photographer rather than focusing on the road ahead of him. Putting the best possible spin on it, it’s also possible that he was distracted by the camera flash, causing him to be out of position on the curve.

According to a source with inside knowledge of the situation, who prefers to remain anonymous, the bike riders were part of an informal ride of roughly 20 to 25 people, including retired pro cyclist and bikewear manufacturer George Hincapie. Hincapie was reportedly some distance ahead when the riders were hit, and may not have been aware of the collision.

This person was following the riders in a sag wagon when they got a call about the collision, and informed two nearby law enforcement officers who were having a car towed from a previous collision. They also stopped to pick up a participant in the ride who was between them and the scene of the collision approximately a quarter-mile ahead.

Good move on their part, since the rider they picked up happened to be the Chief Medical Officer for the Amgen Tour of California, who got right to work moving the more injured of the two riders to a safer position across the roadway.

The first rider to get hit was not part of the ride; he was an unlucky Brit who happened to fall in with the other riders at the wrong place and time. Word is he was not seriously injured; he was taken to a local hospital as a precaution and released the same day.

He may have been fortunate that the motorcyclist hit him almost directly from behind, cushioning the fall as he can be seen landing in the leather-clad rider’s lap.

Amazingly, the second rider, who was part of the riding group, walked away with just a few bruises. I’m told he was riding again the next day, albeit on a borrowed bike.

The motorcycle rider did not have registration for his bike with him, which is why it can be seen being towed at the end of the video.

No word yet on whether charges will be filed; however, my source reports that the police officers on the scene conducted a thorough investigation, including viewing the video of the collision.

But if charges aren’t filed, police will have a lot of explaining to do.

Update: The second video has been removed from You Tube, undoubtedly after realizing that it can, and most likely will, be used as evidence in a both criminal and civil court cases against the rider’s friend; thanks to Caritta for the heads-up.

37 comments

  1. It was gut-wrenching to see how utterly and helplessly the first rider rotated backwards through and over the motorcyclist, knowing what the result would have been had there been a windshield there to break the catapult slam of his neck and head had it been a car that struck him.

  2. Thanks for the details. Wow!

    I’m assuming he took the turn wide. I’ve done it myself and ended up in the dirt shoulder on sharp turns like this when I don’t know the road.

    That “camera flash” looks more like it came from the crashing motorcycle, probably flash of sun as seen from one of the rear view mirrors when he hit the first cyclist.

  3. I think you need to watch again. The motorcyclist is looking left but then changes focus to the cyclist at which time the motorcycle straightens up and goes directly into the cyclist. Then you will notice that the cyclist first impacts the ground with the back of his helmet and then flat on his back. Freeze at 24 seconds to see that the nice soft leather clad motorcyclist is in no way cushioning the fall.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m not saying he didn’t get a good hit, just that it could have been a lot worse if he hadn’t briefly landed in the motorcyclist’s lap. Had he flipped over the bike, as often happens in a car collision, I suspect we’d be looking at a fatality here.

    • Carlos says:

      I an avid motorcyclist and ride a mountain bike and have a commuter bike. The motorcyclist knows cameras are on him and he wants to get a good picture. That is why you can see him looking left at the photographers. However, he then starts to focus on the turn and gets fixed on the bikers. Object fixation is a common occurrence in motorcycling as in cycling. The motorcyclist did not intentionally try to crash into the cyclist but was so fixated he ended up plowing into him.

      This in no way should be a criminal charge but the motorist should have insurance for this accident.

  4. Target fixation *might* have been one of the last causes leading up to the collision itself, but the root cause here is the MC rider riding too fast and beyond his ability. It looks like he had a freakout moment after scraping his boot (perhaps due to improper position of foot on peg, common with inexperienced riders), which interrupted his lean mid-turn. That brief moment is enough to cause a bad line deviation. Add target fixation, and – yup – worse problem. But I’m willing to also entertain possibility that the MC rider didn’t even consider the presence of (“see”) the cyclists till the last moment because he didn’t look through the turn enough either.

  5. […] Biking In LA has the gory details and another camera view from a chase […]

  6. Lois says:

    In my experience, the motorcycles get crazy wherever they know there’s a photographer. It’s really obvious on Palomar where you don’t see any of them except for one quarter mile before and after the photographer. They go there just to be photographed and drive back and forth.

  7. The guy at RockStorePhotos.com, who staked out the “Snake” as his photo territory, has a FAQ on his site specifically telling riders to slow down because the pictures turn out better:

    “Riders and drivers in search of an epic image should also keep in mind that speed does not lead to better pictures. In fact, just the opposite is the case.”

    http://www.rockstorephotos.com/snake.htm

  8. karl says:

    Could someone count the frames in comparison with the distance shown as traveled to get a accurate maybe even very precise speed? I’ve only watched the second video once so far but they overtook those cyclists very quickly and the flash of those the following camera’ed motorbike took as he passed them shows HE WAS JUST AS GUILTY. When you are not leaning into a turn it’s more then scary to take it anyway. He could of sent his bike left without himself despite not having leaned in. Instead he chose apparently to ride the dirt despite not having enough time to get far enough into it before moving the other bikes with him. It was that gap in time, like an undocumented human getting run down on a border road,which he misjudged as well. Unfortunately no simulation is necessary for even a upgraded license- so most who use our roads are not safe. We are unsafe period from lack of practice and study and often root ability. The dealers who sell actually have in writing that no claim for fitness for purpose is present- as if they didn’t do that they could not get away with peddling all the shit without peddles that litters are nation and increasingly the entire planet. The point of advocating unaffordable extravagances like seatbelts or only robotically driven cars is that it’s unaffordabilty apparent or even real if all have to own at least one of there exclusively owned for only there ‘personal’ use is a good thing- SHARING is the solution. After I chimed in earlier I discovred that thug on the way to USC from DTLA has finally struck some gold peddling decades old lithium sacks in getting the same long beach that banned bikes and contracted for antiques being racked widely and at tourist only prices has bought according to wsj ten with batteries big enough to travel in circles, of single digit mile circumference, all day long, at best. Saying charging once per day is there way is admitting there handicapping transit worse then ever- for recharging now is faster then clever and means waiting for it need happen like never. It says that Uncle Sam has no cap on imported spam- so a million, or even 1.2, is good to go as long beach pavement will still be mainly car blighted against us and shared personal transit yet to show. Seriously- a million bucks per bus to keep them from ever living long enough to see any rust. We need the dash cam footage from those cops- who let those moto’s speed past them and did nothing all year long. Those civic servants who have not placed streaming video at this turn- to send out summons or millions as well burn while we earn and more then yearn for safety. What happened was our roads got used recreationally by people who bitch about how wrong that is. If wrongly timed and placed those without high leather boots to lace are guilty for only be so two faced. Our roads when not safe for more then transit/mobility have nothing but abuse they promise if allowed for other use. It was he who rode on just the road for getting someplace who may have been the most innocent- ANY organisation who puts people into danger without waiver more then standard is liable. It is fun, the sun, and all, but why bother, instead help people commute and die in that toot rather then arbitrary route. The silent ride being the exception- for in it’s pace, from conception, is safety. IN just days, maybe for more of us it will show the wrong in our present ways. Bikes are not toys- but rather when on roads like cars, only better. It’s the cars and other evil contraptions like ICE and I don’t mean frozen water bikes who perhaps remind us of being kids on trikes, but anyone one informed should hate and shun with even our goons. Slap not merely just one wrist- those who die, or merely cry- blame widely, solve to for the first time in many decades actually again evolve.

  9. slobby says:

    someone should grab that 2nd video before it gets removed by the poster when his friends all tell him it hurts his “home boys” case

  10. Pat Benson says:

    it’s inexcusable. How many riders did he pass before hitting the cyclists? He knew there were riders on the road.

  11. Chad Ricco says:

    motorcyclist always complaining “Share the Road”, but they mess with me more than cars to, so yah jackhole share the road…

  12. Tom says:

    In Calif, rear-ending someone is guaranteed to be 100% the instigator’s fault, no matter what. Even if it was dense fog at 2am on a moonless night, well then, the instigator was driving too fast for the conditions and it’s still 100% his fault.

    let’s hope the motorcyclist had plenty of liability insurance to compensate the cyclist victims, or if not, that the cyclists had Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage on *their* cars, which covers the cyclists even if they are on foot or on bike.

  13. Abe says:

    This video when around work today, the photographer is a distraction to the riders and should be part of the problem that needs to be solved.

  14. […] You’ve Seen the Video, Here’s the Rest of the Story on the Bike v Motorbike Crash (Biking in L.A.) […]

  15. Rrrrrr! says:

    I ride bicycles and I ride motorcycles. I love them both equally. There is something very basic here that the motorcyclist, for whatever reason, failed to do: watch where he was going and ride in a safe manner. I feel bad for all of them. I suspect the motorcyclist probably came into the curve not expecting the cyclist to be there (yes that equates to ‘too fast to react in time’). If he would have low sided it, that sliding 300+ lb sport bike still would have gotten the cyclists. What can I say, I wasn’t thereand wouldn’t want to be any of them.

  16. Troy says:

    None of us can say with certainty what happened, but i sure didn’t see any good reason why the motorcycle couldn’t have avoided the cyclists. I’ve spent a lot of time on motorcycles, including on racetracks. The bike could have gone through that corner safely, at much higher speed, if it had been under control of a more competent rider. I’m assuming there were no mechanical problems or dirt/oil on the road or anything like that. The motorcycle was barely leaning over.

    That said, new riders–or longtime riders who have just never had an opportunity to learn more aggressive riding–have a hard time understanding just how capable their motorcycles are, and the vast majority of crashes where a motorcycle goes off the road in a curve could be avoided by simply leaning into the turn more and going on around it. It’s incredible what modern motorcycles and tires will do. But saying it is easier than doing it if one hasn’t had the experience.

    SonOfaBike is probably right about the “touch” spooking the rider. You can hear a scrape of a boot or footpeg feeler or something scratching the asphalt as the rider begins to lean into the turn. At that point he abruptly stands the bike more upright, and the rest is history. A more experienced rider would have known that the initial scrape was nothing to fear, and that he could lean much further if necessary.

    • Reed says:

      I can give you a better understanding of what happened. I have ridden that road many times. The camera angle does not show that it is an uphill switchback. When the motorcyclist was in the apex of the turn he was looking straight ahead instead of to his left up the hill. Had he been paying attention to the road and not fixated on the pavement right in front of him, he would have seen the cyclists and avoided them. He was probably an inexperienced rider trying to prove something to himself and impress the many people standing there to watch the fast riders drag their knees around the turn.

  17. […] The Biking In LA blog has now provided some more background on the incident in an article published last night. […]

  18. […] For more on background on the story of the crash, visit Biking in L.A. […]

    • Rrrrrr! says:

      Now this story is irresponsible. They didn’t interview anyone involved but rather someone that likes the fact that two cyclist got hit? What is this , Jerry Springer? On top of that, they are implying that the motorcyclist is a criminal based on the interview of this ‘psychopath’ with an extreme personal position. This isn’t journalism. It is incitement. Has it been established that the motorcyclist was ‘speeding’? Has it been established that he intended to mow down the guys on bicycles. Are we all just watching this unfortunate accident and playing it out in our minds to make it into something it is not? On top of that they are trying to provoke outrage among the public and goad the police into doing ‘something’ (regardless of right or wrong).

      • Rrrrrr! says:

        To be fair, this is on LA Streets Blog. I didn’t see the piece on NBC4 (I did see it on GMA though, and they seemed to have a hang’em high attitude towards the ‘awful’ behavior of the motorcyclist). I stand corrected, this is blogging, not journalism.

  19. Allan says:

    No word yet on what or even if the motorcyclist was charged with anything? Surprisingly I saw something today on channel 4 news on this. They just reported on the “conflicts” between motorcyclists and bicyclists on this stretch of road. Too the didn’t try to educate the viewing public that vehicle in the front has the rights to the road over the vehicle in the back. Speaking of which, I wonder if the police at the site of this mow down knew that????????

    • Rrrrrr! says:

      Is this a matter of right of way? From what I can see in the clip, the cyclist are in the far right of the lane. If I were riding it on my bike that’s where I’d be (in anticipation of faster vehicle traffic trying to overtake me). That part of the road is awful to ride in anyway; full of sand, broken glass, rocks, etc. It has been described as an uphill bend so they were probably going very slow. The motorcycle was probably not ‘speeding’ either though it was going faster than the bicycles. We can speculate that he is at fault but do we know if he was truly negligent?

  20. Knowing someone who is new to riding a motorcycle and likes to ride all the time now, those videos were kind of hard to watch. Thank you for this informative post.

  21. Reed says:

    Cyclists along that stretch of Mulholland Highway always ride single file because the road is narrow and twisty. The accident is totally the fault of the motorcyclist. I’m both a cyclist and a motorcyclist. I give cyclists a huge margin when overtaking them because I know how scary it can be to have a faster vehicle pass them too closely; That turn is notorious for crashes because there are cameras there and idiots think they are going to impress the people standing there. The truly skilled riders take a very smooth inside line and know what they are doing. In the videos of that turn most riders are looking to their left because it is a sharp left hand turn. Inexperienced riders will be looking straight ahead or at the cameras thinking it is their moment of glory. There are many more motorcyclists on Angeles Crest Highway than on Mulholland. There are more accidents and motorcyclists injured there than Mulholland. That stretch of Mullholland highway is only 2 miles long. Angeles Crest highway is 66 miles long and very fast by comparison.

  22. Rrrrrr! says:

    OK, it was an accident. I would guess that he will ultimately be found at fault (not based on your or my opinion). He didn’t maintain control over the bike in the curve. Even if he is the cause of the accident, he is as unfortunate as the cyclists. He is not a criminal. I don’t think anyone intended this to happen (but again that’s my opinion. I wasn’t there and don’t ride that road on a bicycle or motorcycle).

    It’s been over a month now, what more do we know about the resolution of this story? If he is not charged with a CRIME or sued, we the public may never know the resolution. It will just be settled by insurance.

    • Karl says:

      One time I head word that my sister considered me a “criminal”.. and it puzzled me, what gave her that idea I wondered- she’s the one who would even rent a car when visiting our hometown even just for a few days! The snow I bring is biked or hiked, I learned to not drive long before I got my license- and let it expire as people willing to do that sort of thing are always available for hire, and rare is the need for it.

      Yet you growl “OK” and essentially say “Next?” Who’s next, more blood and guts please. You probably even support helmets so nobody takes you bike away, they just roll others who’ve lost there limbs, but whose brains or at least stems had helmets fastened- even though that robs whoever you fly into of the crumble zone that might of let there ribs spare there heart from your freedom to in public rev rev fart.

      The criminal in your mind is who then? The one who says- if there wrong and there bike does fail, then it’s over glover time to shed the helmet before it turns there body into a even more lethal weapon- see when your hot air balloon is falling you got to flow out the flame man, even if gas is still left in the can, don’t bring the flame with you- leave it behind, toss the helmet, say in doing so, pardon me, I’m soft as can be, steer away, don’t crash to bash, gamble with your own brains, leave the helmet that weighs more then our entire wheels at home even better. See those with helmets moving them at high speed as felons, so reckeless with there melons and other peoples bodies. MOtorcycle themselves having no crush zone for pedestrians- this video not at all typical, normally limbs get ripped off, the owner of the truck engine on pedal less nightmare envisioned makes only lethal incision.

      I’ve responded to your contention last night about the blight of overly selfishly motored obese blight all day and night in communities that would otherwise be so blissfully tight! What’s said here about a turn that has the suspecting and not yearn and/or be caught, is as if known only by soul-less bot. If true those who have so far done nothing are of the filthiest lot and need to be seen as far more then ready to merely rot.

      It’s attractive, it’s a nuisance, and therefore it’s obscene and should not be not even for any uninformed fee. THe guys on the old bikes, the fiber owning fools and spandex glooming tools did not consent for the rest of us. The insurance companies know this yes- and should be insolvent for that nothing less. But why do you who know this not know what it’s about? Why about that are you seen to only hint if that, and no so better shout?

      In “Some mother’s son”, not at first, but eventually, the mom’s said enough. Something about seeing there own moan and groan and die, over and over again, had them better pay attention- which was the point. There are those of us who cut off our feet when they don’t perform as well when racing, who need not but want to jog- and are willing to without restraint of medical attention no less hog. Saying “it’s my money honey” as if it is, when my friend, it ain’t. THey didn’t build that foot. Some parents now want to give there kid a few months, and at the price of decades for someone else just as nice- but with an adult lungs need and more then a slice. So is stranger marginilised, the child who once was recklessly sacrificed. They appeal to us and say “won’t you instruct your folk to if killed from the more worthy have ours be billed? Killed?” I rather say, is GM worth the fodder fed our cannons to keep it’s factories making unsatisfactory engines humming? Would you instead please find just your own death bed? Let us really live not just be spoon fed or if not actually fully gone then so routinely without question better off dead? It’s not complicated. Owning and operating, even now sharing so as to enable it further, the internal combustion over powered motor bike or for the most obese or just older not bolder but at least colder shoulder after market trike, or UN MoST UN UN UN UN sportsmanlike NOT NOT NOT AT ALL NOT NOT NOT AT ALL BUT RATHER WANTON LUSTING PUBLIC OHTER PEOPLES BABIES LUSTING UTTERLY OTHERWISE FUTILITY ‘utility’ ‘sport’ truck doesn’t just suck. It is a crime not just against those it’s killing by the tens of thousand a year but not often over beer, usuallly soberly, or humanity, not merely that, but one so fat, it makes treason seem like just being of little pleazin.

      Not a criminal you say? Satirically? Serioiusly? Such satire- so straight, so soft, in the ether miles above the tallest bleacher must be your loft? I will get you there.

      That’ heaven man. Your on your way. Asking the questions. Who licensed that? We did. Who paved that. Who down all of our throats shown shitting? He and us, it’s time for us to get on the bus. We deserve better then some “guilty or not letter” the real verdict now has been in, the casualties counted now long and large- it’s time for us to stop just calling up the corpse a barge and ordering it anew from time to time a bit more large.

      We have the technology. Computers though will have also no place to go if put in cars or antisport reptile in us appealing dinasoars for us to ride over civilisation to plow it under and rob those of solutions any chance to bring there thunder instead to us.

      That corner is an ungoverned zone- just like our cities have been not on loan, but stolen, stolen by car makers greed and our taking so many decades to take back the lead. Those girls kidnapped now 30- somethings or worse- they are us just insignifigance in there numbers, and we unlike them are just too raw in our oppresion to point the finger and say not to doing more evil, to that we will no longer linger. What kind of person puts on leather and revs up explosions tearing down asphalt so near the pacific? You say that’s not a criminal- yet you know he wasn’t going to work? He was just being a jerk? Instead of putting on a suit and swimming he picked up and turned to us the public for partners to play roulette with- raped us, pillaged our village and he’s not the criminal? On a motorcycle? Get this- he’s on a motorcycle but he’s not criminal? Where the hell am I- only zombies, is everyone gone? Am I the last one not taken- snached of any sense is everyone?

      This is in California this occured! Where fighting cocks gets you years behind locks you all say withotu even having to pay one can watch people getting slaughtered in the crotch? Oh really? NOT silly.

      Who then is the criminal or even more absyminal? IN between the rest of us and those there needing to be but not shown yet on any bus? The pavers we say, the supevisors and cops, the MVB’s issuing license to do such evil, to drive, in public a machine like that jumped by knieval himself?

      It is time now to govern over those who need us to draw the lines. Real lines- not hypothetical token fines. Public road funds are not for this, for pits of oiled stolen girlscouts in witch to piss.

      Take your horror show off our roads. Stop blaming those who have not been taught or been given permission to so sin even though we know there so dim. We have the video- we don’t to wait? All we need to do is have the question called. A vote- a vote, continued carnage? Or paradise for less then half the price in not just blood? Continued sound of thud, or destinations reached, not just journeys curtailed too rarely not lesser then to the worthiest peach or beach more of us should be able to freely reach.

      It is a system. Accountability in it can be had. Those who make and sell these machines should have little or no say in how many of us with lives lost are made to pay not asked. Guns are so safe compared to cars- it’s unbelievable truly- to consider, legislation for the former before we spared the blunder of the latter.

      Those shot are but a drop in legions of splatter. Years in past decades have gone buy without even a classroom being mowed down by even crazy goon. But every years school fulls of those most innocent are taught to if they survive those years ensure that they will rob those to come of there chance to survive again so teamsters stuck in Detroit can forever so lethally exploit. Fuck no to that. Your wrong. It’s not Ok. He should dearly pay. Outside or in, but in front of others must we show this sin. Show it, tell it, crush it. The public interest matters in public. We have and can elect government to better serve us- to cure us of this addiction to utter fiction like cars are an asset, needed, or ever used with more then just good intention. They are the work of those who do not fear hell- who think themselves free to impose it so swell. Women and children matter more. Boys to men have a right to life over them.

      We must look at that corner long and hard and turn away it from our bard. Or like some peaceful species without an internet or even pen in hand just direct our children off these cliffs some more. Let them walk off the cliff. Just put on headphones and use less protection, make more, so there bodies can be crushed for no reason. Just make more to shop for at the store. Do that instead.

  23. Rrrrrr! says:

    So, I take it Karl you think he is a criminal and should be punished. What should he be charged with and what should be the punishment? Tell us what you think, then . . .

  24. bikinginla says:

    Sorry Bobby. The rules for comment here are anyone can say anything they want as long as they show courtesy to others, avoid insults and personal attacks, and don’t disrespect the dead.

    Say goodbye.

  25. Sherman says:

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  26. […] I spent 20 minutes or so the other watching a number of these 79 clips. Remarkably, most of the people in the accidents were able to walk away, even in the 2013 crash where a motorcyclist hit two cyclists. […]

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