Morning Links: Hidden danger on the Coyote Creek Trail, and the Bike League analyzes cycling fatalities

I’m just getting word of a dangerous situation on the Coyote Creek Trail in Los Alamitos.

Orange County cyclist Bob Masuzumi writes that he was riding south on the trail with a small group of riders between Wardlow Road and Los Alamitos Blvd, just before a bridge that crosses a secondary creek next to the high school.

As he tells it,

The rider in the lead didn’t realize the trail, which is poorly marked, curved away from the creek and that you had to cross the creek using the bridge.  Unfortunately, he rode off the trail and ended up at the bottom of Coyote Creek, sustaining a serious concussion resulting in 3 days in the ICU.  He was then transferred to their rehab facility from which he should be released tomorrow.  However, he will continue to receive therapy as an out-patient for an unknown length of time.

I believe that not only does it need proper markings, but there should be a fence extending from the bridge past the curve, so that other riders do not make the same mistake.  Also, a fence needs to be added on the other side of the bridge.  Currently, a rider, after crossing the bridge, needs to make a 90 degree right turn, otherwise they  will end up going down the embankment toward the high school.  This area does not seem to be very safe for cyclists at all & we believe should be corrected to prevent anything similar happening to another cyclist.

I can’t say I’m familiar with the area, even though we’ve discussed problems on the trail before. Including the fact that Los Alamitos has failed to adequately maintain its section of the pathway.

But if you know the part of the trail he’s talking about, what do you think?

Is this as dangerous as it sounds, and does it need corrective measures — or at least a warning sign to comply with state law regarding known dangers on off-road trails?

And is anyone familiar with any other riders who may have been hurt there?

………

A new report from the League of American Bicyclists offers a detailed analysis of bicycling fatalities over a recent 12-month period.

We learned, for example, that a much higher percentage of fatal crashes than expected — 40% of fatal crashes with a reported collision type — were “hit from behind” incidents — that’s important to know for our education program. Not surprisingly, high-speed urban and suburban arterial streets with no provisions for bicyclists are an over-represented location — representing 56% of all bicyclist fatalities — that’s good information to share with our Bicycle Friendly Community partners.

We found important new information about why crashes happen, how they are reported, and the scope of enforcement actions taken against motorists — including common felonies charged and average sentences for 77 convictions related to bicyclist fatalities

Overwhelmingly, however, we were struck by the lack of information, the lack of action, and the lack of a sense of outrage over these deaths, even in communities where this kind of tragedy is relatively common.

It’s something I plan to dive into over the next few days. Because the better we understand how and why these tragedies occur, the more we can do to prevent them.

As they say in asking us all to call on the US Department of Transportation to demand action — and as I’ve argued many times before — there’s only one acceptable number of traffic fatalities when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Zero.

………

Local

Metro honors Sweeyoke Ooi for their monthly Why We Ride series. Because, as they say, Bike Week never ends for many Angelenos. And they offer photos from their Bike Week Guided Ride Day, which evidently did. End, that is.

The Times astutely notes that it’s time to retire the myth that Los Angeles has a love affair with cars, despite what our state’s senior Senator says.

Rick Risemberg attends Sunday’s Reinventing the Wheel: the Future of Mobility in LA sponsored by Santa Monica public radio station KCRW and finds it sadly auto-focused. And out of beer.

Surprisingly, LA doesn’t make the list of the 20 most dangerous cities for pedestrians, though the Riverside/SanBernardino/Ontario region does.

Michael Wagner of CLR Effect confronts Death at the Tour of California. Twice, in fact.

I missed this one last week, as Cycling in the South Bay says being nice has nothing to do with how we’re treated on the road.

 

State

A seven-hour bike ride along the Orange County coast.

The new Napa County Bike Commuter of the Year just got back on his this January after suffering a broken leg in a dooring.

A new infographic lists the top eight American cities for cyclists. Bagdad by the Bay makes the list; LA, not surprisingly, doesn’t.

 

National

Sixteen drunk driving arrests, nine convictions, and the maximum sentence allowed under Washington law is three lousy years. This is why people continue to die on our streets.

The Las Vegas Weekly questions whether the city deserves its new bike-friendly designation. Then again, I once wondered the same about Santa Monica.

A Montana man gets five years for killing a cyclist in a drunken hit-and-run.

A Boston pediatrician prescribes public bike share to treat heath problems due to poverty.

Why teach your kid to ride a bike when you can hire a coach at $90 per lesson to do it for you?

 

International

Caught on video: A British Columbia cop goes on trial for punching a handcuffed cyclist in the face. Since when do bike riders get arrested — let alone punched — for not wearing a helmet and allegedly running a red light?

London’s Telegraph tells cyclists not to vote for an anti-bike political party. Good advice for bike riders everywhere.

Ex-Chevalier Lance Armstrong is stripped of the French Legion of Honor.

In a brilliant experiment, a Swedish city gives residents free bikes for six months as long as they promise not to drive three days a week; thanks to Daniel Blazquez for the link.

Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich injures two people in a three car crash while driving drunk at 20 kilometers over the speed limit. Then tries to pass it off by saying it could happen to anyone. Uh, no. Only someone stupid and careless enough to get behind the wheel after drinking.

 

Finally…

Yet another reason to wear a helmet, as a road-raging Oregon driver hits a bicyclist in the head with a hatchet; fortunately, the rider is okay. And police recover a Welsh cyclist’s stolen bike, but give it to someone else due to a clerical error.

But at least he got his pedals back.

 

12 comments

  1. Joe B says:

    I’d lay money that the sixteen-timer drunk driver still had his driver’s license for his most recent arrest.

  2. John says:

    I know that part of the Coyote Creek trail, and it is very dangerous. He didn’t mention the small (maybe one foot) wooden posts sticking out of the entrances on each side of those bridges that are injuries waiting to happen. To me, that’s the most dangerous thing about those two bridges (there’s one near the high school and another just north). As for noticing the bridge, you should be able to realize it’s there well before going into the creek, as you see the creek intersection at least 1/8 mile before the crossing (if not the bridge). Fyi, if you get nowhere with the City of Los Alamitos, it may be maintained (oddly) by LA County, as it is an LA County flood channel.

    I hope the rider who got injured there recovers well. My most serious biking injury was on that same trail (at Centralia), though it was due to someone sleeping in the middle of the path under a bridge (I ended up breaking a wrist).

  3. Jim says:

    I’ve ridden that section of the Coyote Creek Trail more times than I can count. I don’t want to be insensitive, but I don’t know how you can miss the turn/bridge. There is nothing blocking the view and the terrain is flat. And what John said about the short posts is true – that is more likely to cause an issue when riding with a group. Luckily that section of the trail sees pretty light traffic, so at least you don’t have to worry about dodging other riders/runners and the posts at the same time.

  4. First of all, I’m sorry to hear about the rider’s injury, and I hope the rider recovers quickly and completely.

    I ride that route frequently, and I agree with Bob that there are unmarked hazards in the area he described. Here’s a screen print from Google Maps.

    I have never been fooled by the area marked “A” on the screen print. That’s apparently where the rider described by Bob continued straight and was injured. To me the bridge is an obvious reminder to turn left when riding southbound. However, it just makes sense to me that any turn that has a drop off to the side should be marked. Even back country roads have guardrails or at least reflectors, and there should be something like that in area “A”.

    The drop off that almost gets me every time is marked “B” in the screen print. In this area the path is not clearly visible because it drops off a little, and there is a left turn needed to avoid going into the channel. I ride that route at least weekly, and I still have to be on alert whenever I go through there. I am surprised that someone not familiar with that area has not ended up in the channel at that location.

    The point I’m trying to make is that it only makes sense to me that any turn with a drop off on the side, on any transportation corridor, whether mixed traffic or bike traffic, should be marked and/or fenced.

  5. JD says:

    I’ve never rode Coyote Creek trail, but the cities of Lakewood and Long Beach have greatly improved their sections of the San Gabriel River Trail, which was closed for a complete renovation. Los Al, take note.

  6. Dan says:

    I’ve ridden the Coyote Creek trail a handful of times and it’s not my favorite trail. It gets pretty windy in that area and kind of desolate. I’ve never noticed the drop off near that bridge you have to cross. I always slow down to make the left onto the bridge while going southbound.

  7. A.J. says:

    I ride that section of Coyote Creek multiple times per week, and know that bridge well. It’s not treacherous. The turn is completely obvious. If you aren’t looking where you’re going while exiting the bridge, 5 feet ahead is a small cliff. Solution: look where you’re going, notice the road continues to your right, and follow it.

    Similarly, if you aren’t paying attention and drift 3 feet to your right or left ANYWHERE on the trail, you’re going to ride off the road into the creek or someone’s back yard. Should we fence the whole thing?

    Use your head, folks.

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