Update: Two people killed while walking their bikes in Norwalk; 10th LA County bike deaths this year

It’s bad enough when one cyclist is killed.

When two bike riders lose their lives in a midnight collision, without even being on their bikes at the time, I don’t even know what to say.

Except to let the facts speak for themselves.

According to the Whittier Daily News, a man and a woman were killed in a single collision in Norwalk early Saturday morning.

The paper reports they were walking their bikes across Rosecrans Avenue at Fidel Avenue at 12:02 am when they were struck by an eastbound Ford F-150 pickup truck, which then veered to the side, striking at least three parked vehicles.

No identification or other information about the victims are available at this time.

The driver, who was uninjured, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, He did not appear to be intoxicated, and was not taken into custody at the scene.

No word on whether the victims were in a crosswalk, marked or not, when they were struck. A satellite view shows a zebra crosswalk on the west side of the intersection, but none on the east.

If they were in the crosswalk, they were doing exactly what most law enforcement agencies recommend by walking in the crosswalk, rather than riding.

The question is why the driver didn’t appear to see two people walking bikes directly in front of him. And how fast he had to be going to take two lives with a single impact.

These are the 22nd and 23rd bike-related fatalities in Southern California this year, and the 9th and 10th in Los Angeles County, compared to just four this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for both victims and their families.

Update: Now it makes a little more sense, while seeming even more needless and tragic. Chris K, who lives in the area, writes to say that the crosswalk seen in the satellite photo has long been a popular crossing for people in the neighborhood to the south to get to the businesses, church and school on the north side of the street. He notes that there has even been a crossing guard there in the mornings.

Unfortunately, when the street was resurfaced recently, the crosswalk was removed, and the crossing guard was shifted the equivalent of three blocks west to the traffic light at Shoemaker Ave.

Chris notes that despite the removal, people continue to cross at that intersection just as they always have, sometimes stepping out in front of oncoming traffic expecting traffic to stop as if it was a marked crosswalk.

It should be noted that under California law, there is a crosswalk at every intersection, marked or not. The only exception is if there is signage prohibiting crossing, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. 

Now two people are dead, apparently because local traffic planners ignored historic pedestrian patterns and removed a marked crosswalk, despite the need for residents to cross the street.

Two more victims to a world where motor vehicles are valued more than people. 

Update 2: Chris K adds that the florescent yellow signage pointing to the crosswalk remains in place, even though the crosswalk itself is gone, creating a confusing situation. 

Update 3: KABC-7 has identified the victims as 23-year old Giovanni Xavier Chaidez and 20 year-old Rosibel Montoya, no hometown given. According to a live report on the station Sunday night, the driver is not expected to be charged. 

Maybe someone can explain that one to me someday. Because unless the victims somehow leapt out into the roadway without warning, the driver should have been able to see them and stop in time.

16 comments

  1. Todd Nelson says:

    Hi viz clothing and lights on the bikes? Probably not, though just guessing. Any ambient street, parking lot or building lights in the area? Probably wouldn’t have helped.

    Please don’t take me as blaming the victims. I’m just saying that a lot of pedestrians don’t think much about their visibility when they make decisions (or not) on when and where to walk. I see so many people walking on the side of the road, with traffic, wearing dark clothes. Are they suicidal? If you find yourself having to walk on the road and don’t have light-colored or hi viz clothing or accessories, for crying out loud, walk facing traffic so you can jump off the road if a motorist is driving erratically or distracted!

    The same goes for crossing the street, which translates to “Don’t cross the street if there is traffic, drivers of which may not see you in time, not expecting you at a late hour and not be able to stop safely.”

    Mistakes happen. Even good drivers get tired. Yes, they should realize that they are compromised and pull over. This driver didn’t. Pedestrians AND cyclists need to understand that there are limits to what common sense and the law can do to keep them safe. They need to walk and cycle defensively to defend themselves against the < 1% of occurrences when it doesn't.

    My condolences to the loved ones of the victims in their loss.

  2. Kathy Kurutz says:

    In California it’s legal to cross at an intersection whether or not it’s painted as a cross walk. That this intersection was identified before, and not now, is a problem. Likely, the driver just didn’t see this pair of people walking their bikes…what a terrible tragedy. Few if any drivers in the state know unmarked intersections are legal for pedestrians to cross. This one needs to be repainted as such. My sympathies go to the families and friends, and victims.

    • Todd Nelson says:

      Why does it have to be a question as to whether or not it’s legal to cross or if a crosswalk is adequately painted? What’s visible to a pedestrian is not necessarily visible to a motorist, especially at night. It’s certainly a tragedy, but we’re going to keep seeing them over and over as long as people think that the law and paint is going to keep them safe.

      • Richard says:

        ( to commenter/hater Mr. Nelson) what you don’t get is that there is more then one solution. what you urge simply does not work and guarantees more tragedies. we can reduce the death toll by reducing the number of cars and ordinary drivers especially to a level we can afford to accomidate safely. I am for that. driving tired at all, at all, even once without incident, does not have to be tolerated. having caffeine in your bloodstream after any accident need not continue to result in such drug users ever enjoying a day out of prison again. for sparing so many lives violent gruesome deaths those are just a start of minimal reform. do you really believe people want to kill each other in order to feel fine driving underslept as if professionals and machines are not now long available that make NO necessity to such venal norm an utter fact? an informed electorate will choose life over continued manslaughter and largely surrender there keys to the death machines gladdly. people like you block insight widely and crow about how if only more where in the know like you. it is fantasy and sickness to think that. give up your keys or continue to slaughter its not just about deceiving yourself about what corporate cops note in there stupid blotter. I thank the deceased if they dressed normally for not blaming themselves for what risks anyone who drives takes. may there sacrifice spare countless children fiery deaths in hummmers.

        • Todd Nelson says:

          Richard, get a grip and don’t rely on auto correct. You make little if any sense. I’m not against legal enforcement and stiff penalties. How did you come up with that? Hater? WTF! What are you on? Troll Crack? My point is that these tragedies will happen because in the moment, the law doesn’t do squat. Folks need to protect themselves to avoid other people’s mistakes. It’s known as defensive behavior.

        • Todd Nelson says:

          Richard, get a grip and don’t rely on auto correct. You make little if any sense. I’m not against legal enforcement and stiff penalties. How did you come up with that? Hater? WTF! What are you on? Troll Crack? My point is that these tragedies will happen because in the moment, the law doesn’t do squat. Folks need to protect themselves to avoid other people’s mistakes. It’s known as defensive behavior. There is no one solution, but many that need to work together.

          • Chuck says:

            Todd is right. Many pedestrians seem to feel that stepping out in a crosswalk constitutes a force field that will protect them from harm. I don’t care if there is a bright white/yellow demarcation painted on the street, a green light and a guy with a flag waving me across, I’m not stepping out into the street if I see a car coming and can’t confirm they can see me and will slow and stop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone step out in front of me in a parking lot and purposely avoid eye contact with me as if that would prevent me from hitting them because they came out of nowhere and I couldn’t stop.

            I ride close to a thousand miles a month and do a lot of walking as well so I’m well acquainted with both sides of the issue. However I always assume that everyone around me is not paying attention and does not see me (which is usually a safe bet) and practice extreme defensive driving/riding/walking.

            Prayers and sympathies to all the families involved.

          • Richard says:

            I am refining my consumption of this blog given the changes- for example I save offline the last seven pages, or six I guess, of posts, without comments, and thereby am able to read them when without a connection. I also aspire to more timely find out about responses directly to my comments, unlike today, where I did not deliberately delay giving dignity to the identical duplicated responses beginning just 20 minutes after I wrote.

            What inspired my response is the linked to here historical review of “joy riding” and “jay walking” thrown at change by the respective anti and pro car voices of there time rubbing my nose in the fact that what Nader did decades ago I know not at all well enough.

            The experts make a simple point Todd. These two people died not of there own choice period. We have decided to consider there lives expendable- and not just for the reasons you echo.

            It is rather though a broken democracy that has us purporting these choices. It is a lack of transparency and ‘enterprise’ corruption. It is however small a percentage of the immense profits dealing cars that in the past has appealed to graft among too few but had them impose there way upon all of us, with far too many making there only statement against it there slaughter for ordinary behavior not in fact negligent at all. They die because of the crime against humanity that is our car culture- and not just humans does it kill, but barring a miracle much of the planet already and the rest as we know it all but inevitably.

            Your ingratitude that they did not take the defensive measures you screach that would in fact have delayed the review of the facts about THIS incident- a sign pedestrians see but stripes drivers no longer see even if they should as well be tested to make sure in this situation and literally too countless others they would drive welll enough….

            As an advocate it is my job to point out this should not of happened and to dwell on the counter actually propiganda that seeks to divert our attention away from the crystal clarity.

            I deliberately grounded my comments in reality in response to your effort to “be real.” I say- how many such deaths do we ‘want?’ That is OUR choice. Then we design our world to get no more then that. This is easy to do.

            You instead say- it is ok if only the dumb or reckless or poor or not driving themselves just as literally used to be the marketing of cars- the solution to not being killed by one, the adds declared- get one of your own! So vulgar was it- ever more even if more subtle- like your words- does it remain.

            I again thank the victims for not wasting there energy and worry as you advise! The price is too high- and it would have little impact in fact. It would change who was killed more then how many. Because when you spare your own life it only delays greater safety for all resulting!

            Actual safety is available and affordable and the moral way to go. It may indeed involve drastic changes. They are overdue.

            The greatest gem I can offer now though is your contention I am an illegal stimulant abuser for lighting up the abusive use of the legal substance caffeine. Two OSHA authors just published an article in mining journal documenting one mine’s NOT spending up to $9,000 per sensor to catch tired workers before they crash, but instead ending the practice of buying back vacation pay and graveyard shifts etc. NOted is the drastic impact- far less divorce etc. At bargain cost. So it is with our streets. My vote is fewer deaths. Yours is business as usual just don’t be one of the unlucky. It is not the law of accidents that will spare us but of who can drive what and for what reason and how fast etc. It need not be about maximizing revenue without much concern about climate or kids etc.

            I respect you especially if your not being paid to do what you do, the harm. I hope you are teachable. It won’t be me- but if you are, get it done. My views are increasingly not rare. My sentiment is rather universal. MOst would go without any cars in there cities given how better faster more luxurious – superior in every way- solutions cost far less in dollars even. Yet you appear at least to resist that dream from being realized. As you deny blaming you do precisely that in the freshly shed blood so obscenely. I write assuming loved ones will suffer my words- and with intent there pain be not wantonly imposed. You clearly are oblivious to the potential audience in your fundamentalist refrain about personal responsibility. Absolutely rather I say- sue the car dealer, sue the manufacturer, it took so long to get tobacco, but we are starting to, and we can cars as well. They are not fit for the purposes sold to for many decades. This is not adequately disclosed. GM should of been allowed to die. Keeping it alive is like on NBC’s West Wing when the confession is arranged simultaneously with not staying the mobs lust for vengeance in the form of lethal injection or whatever. We cater to the likes of you at the expense of these lost lives. That is cynical. HOwever unteachable you might be- almost everyone else given a chance would quickly abandon your position. Ignorance, not those not encased in tons of crash cage, must die.

  3. danger says:

    This is the problem:
    ” He did not appear to be intoxicated, and was not taken into custody at the scene.”

    Until drivers who kill and injure people face some kind of punishment bikers and pedestrians will continue to DIE.

    If I closed my eyes and started to shoot people with a gun on the street then told the officer on scene. “I just didn’t see them”, this would not be an excuse just because I was not drunk!

    If you wear black clothes does this mean that it is legal to run you down on the road?

    Driving has become the best way to get away with MURDER.

    • Todd Nelson says:

      Do you honestly think that some people think that it is OK to kill strangers, as long as it was an “accident” with many contributing factors, few if none of which the motorist can be held accountable? Not where I live, but maybe in LA. So, I suppose I’m not qualified to comment on this blog.

  4. I am continually boggled at the number of LEO that seem unaware of the Basic Speed Law, which is in the vehicle code for every state. It boils down to you have to able to stop in the distance you can see clearly no matter if it is dark, cloudy, foggy, rainy, or whatever might be impairing visibility outside the vehicle. If something is impairing visibility inside the vehicle the law requires you to stop until whatever it is is cleared or removed. Yet most of the LEO I speak with have barely heard of the law, and are totally unfamiliar with it. Hitting someone because you “couldn’t see” them is a confession to violating the Basic Speed Law. If only we could get LEO to see it like that instead of their windshield bias.

    • Todd Nelson says:

      That and being distracted to the point of not giving driving the priority it deserves. At minimum, revoke their driver’s license.

  5. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the families and friends of the victims.

  6. If you can’t see someone in front of you soon enough to stop, yes, that should be a violation of the basic speed law. Normally it’s a minor traffic infraction, but if you hit and kill someone as a result, that should be a crime. At least involuntary manslaughter.

    That said… I don’t care if the penalty for hitting someone is the death penalty. I, for one, am not going to cross a street without first verifying relevant motorists have noticed me and are yielding.

    • Todd Nelson says:

      That is probably the best way to put it, BBITTL. First person. Individuals need to take responsibility for themselves because as much as you’d like to think that a stiff penalty for breaking the law is going to stop the relevant motorist from killing you if you step or roll into their path, it is no guarantee.

  7. yang chong says:

    I actually rode through that section last week. There is construction going on and its just poorly designed for all modes of transportation, even cars. Normally I won’t get off my bike but this section of Norwalk scared me enough for me to get off my bike and walk across 4 “crosswalks” just to get to Bloomfield from Rosecrans. This is a prime example of “cars” only mentality that drives street design. Even on a rebuild no consideration was taken for those who are not in cars.

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