Update: Bike rider killed in Pacoima train collision; eighth SoCal train victim this year

Eighty-one. And eight.

That’s how many bike riders have lost their lives in what has turned out to be a horrible year for SoCal cyclists. And how many of those riders have died as a result of train collisions.

According to the LA Times, a male bike rider was hit and hilled by a Metrolink train in Pacoima this afternoon. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on Van Nuys Blvd when he attempted to cross the railroad tracks just north of San Fernando Road around 3:50 pm.

The paper reports he apparently tried to beat the train, despite the fact that the warning gates had already been lowered. He was struck by the 218 train on its way to Union Station in Downtown LA, and pronounced dead at the scene.

With this death, nearly 10% of the fatalities involving Southern California bike riders have been the result of train collisions — the easiest type of collision to avoid. All you have to do is stay off the tracks when there’s a train coming.

Unlike motor vehicles. trains are restricted to a specific pathway, and can’t vary their route in any way. And they have warning systems to let you know when they’re coming; all you have to do is squeeze on the brakes.

At least three of those eight deaths resulted from riders attempting to beat the train or ride around the warning gates. Which makes me wonder if they were truly attempting to beat the gates, or if at least some might have been fixie riders forced to ride through because they lacked the skill to stop in time.

Unfortunately, we may never know, since none of the reports identify the type of bike the victim was riding.

But it’s a question worth asking as we struggle to understand why so many riders have died in a type of collision that’s so easy to avoid.

This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 33rd in LA County. This is also the 14th rider to lose his life in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year, three time the average for the city.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the victim, identified only as a 30-year old Hispanic man, was riding west on Van Nuys at the time of the collision. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.

Update 2: Over two weeks later, there’s still no ID on the victim. He is described as a Hispanic man over 21 years old, about 5’2” and 144 pounds, with brown eyes and a black Mohawk, and a red stud earring in one ear. Anyone with information is urged to call coroner’s investigator Daniel Machian at 323-343-0754 or the coroner investigations division at 323-343-0714.

11 comments

  1. bike2hike says:

    Probably the same reason why this moron thought it was fine to clearly ride through a red light https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQVWdN_nPaI this morning.

  2. I ride.. and have for 40 years.. .I have ridden in NYC and other cities.. I hate whenever a riders is injured let alone killed. But lest us not remember that bike riders also have a responsibility. How many of the riders were injured trying to outrun a train. How many were killed riding in the dark without lights or even reflectors. How many went through stop signs of red lights. I ride and every time I am stopped at a stop sign and someone flies by me I wonder what the drivers think of us. Arrogance and disregard to law. I do not find the drivers who flee free of guilt. But we need to discipline our own for their lack of obeying laws. And we need to learn that we all need to be safe.. vests.. lights.. reflectors.. whatever we can do..

  3. Bill K. says:

    I don’t see how riding a fixie would make a difference. There is plenty of time from the point the lights flash and the gates go down to stop.

  4. ooga-booga says:

    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much awareness you bring to an issue. People will make risky/bad decisions based on their lifestyle/obligations/desires.

    • bikinginla says:

      ooga-booga, I’ve edited your comment slightly to show a little more respect for the dead. It’s not that you were out of line, but I’ve learned that relatives and friends of the victims will inevitably come here and read these comments. We don’t need to cause them any more pain than they already feel.

  5. Rico says:

    My condolences to the family.

    I was on the northbound Metrolink train at 5:35. It took a long time to get any information, and we had two-hour delays from Burbank Station to Sylmar/San Fernando. Finally got a little bit of info through the Metrolink website at about 7:00pm. I knew that there must have been some kind of crash or something. It would have been helpful if Metrolink had informed its people who could have informed us about what was going on.

    My thoughts are, one, that Van Nuys Blvd. is such a main thoroughfare that it deserves grade separation. That wouldn’t prevent people from skirting the gates at other intersections, but it would help at this particular intersection.

    And secondly, I just cannot believe that in this day and age, there are long sections of track that are single-tracked. That means shutting down the whole line for hours while investigations are ongoing.

  6. HI recently we have noticed cyclist texting. This troubles me particularly after the fatal consequences that my brother in law suffered when fully alert. It doesn’t take much for loss of balance particularly if road conditions suddenly change. I am hoping you can raise awareness.

    Thanks and best wishes for a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

    Dennis B. Alters, MD

  7. bikinginla says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of the victim.

  8. silvia sandoval says:

    I think I know who the victim was :(. Please send me an email ASAP

  9. silvia sandoval says:

    We have a person missing and it fills this man’s characteristics I need more info.

    • bikinginla says:

      Unfortunately, this is all the information I have. If you think you know the victim, call the coroner’s investigator Daniel Machian at 323-343-0754 or the coroner investigations division at 323-343-0714. They can help you more than I can.

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