Archive for Injuries and Fatalities

Seven-year old e-bike rider killed by ice cream truck in South LA; driver attacked by bystanders

Just heartbreaking.

Several media sources are reporting that a seven-year old boy has died after falling under an ice cream truck.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was reportedly riding a motorcycle-style e-bike when he fell under the rear wheels of the truck.

According to KABC-7, he was riding next to the slow moving truck, and possibly holding on to it, before falling for an unknown reason. The LA Times reports that police consider it an “unfortunate accident,” though the investigation is still ongoing.

He was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, but died at 9:15 pm after emergency surgery.

However, in a report on KNBC-4, which is not available online as of this writing, a man identified as the victim’s uncle said the boy was walking his bike next to the truck, rather than riding, in an attempt to catch up to his older brother. And that the truck had been traveling too fast for the neighborhood street.

To make matters worse, the driver suffered minor injuries after he and his truck were attacked by people in the area who threw bricks at the truck and threatened him with a knife.

According to the man claiming to be the victim’s uncle, the attackers included the boy’s mother.

This is the 74th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 29th in the County of Los Angeles; it’s also the 10th in the City of LA.

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

Update: Bike rider killed in Newport Beach; DUI driver faces murder charge

For once, the charges fit the crime.

Last night, we linked to news that an Orange County bike rider had been hit by a vehicle Sunday evening. Sadly, the Newport Beach police announced this morning that the victim died later that night.

According to the police report, 30-year old Fountain Valley resident Shaun Eagleson was riding west on East Coast Highway just east of the Los Trancos entrance to Crystal Cove State Park when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck around 5:03 pm.

He was taken to a local trauma center for treatment, where he succumbed to his injuries at around 9:45 Sunday night.

The driver, identified as 23-year old Neil Storm Stephany of Huntington Beach, fled the scene, but was arrested shortly afterwards near the intersection of Newport Center Drive and East Coast Highway. He was taken into custody on charges of including Felony DUI (causing Great Bodily Injury), Hit and Run, Narcotics Possession and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; bail was initially set at $100,000.

The charges were later amended to include one count of murder, based on Stephany’s previous DUI conviction. According to the press release,

Further investigation revealed that Mr. Stephany has a prior conviction for Driving Under the Influence.  In California, a previous DUI conviction, and the subsequent required alcohol education, is considered an adequate indicator to suggest “implied malice” in subsequent DUI arrests involving the death of another party.  That fact, combined with Mr. Eagelson’s passing, lead Newport Beach Police to change Mr. Stephany’s booking charges to include 187 PC – Murder.  Mr. Stephany is currently being held without bail.

 

Yes, they even revoked his bail.

And they added one more thought that can’t be repeated enough.

Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime, with the potential for tragic and fatal consequences.  It is also completely preventable. The Newport Beach Police Department urges all members of the Community to make responsible decisions and to avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or prescription medications.

Newport Beach police are still investigating the case; anyone with information is urged to contact Investigator Eric Little at 949-644-3746 or elittle@nbpd.org.

Nice to find a police department and prosecutors that take traffic crimes seriously for a change. Let’s hope they don’t plead this one away.

This is the 73rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in Orange County; that compares to 12 in the county for all of last year. And it’s at least the eighth fatal bike collision in Newport Beach in just the last five years.

Update: The Orange County Register reports Stephany has an extensive criminal record, with prior convictions for felony assault, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to sell, in addition to the prior DUI.

He is also currently facing a charge for domestic violence.

With a background like that, it’s possible that a murder conviction in this case could be his third strike, resulting in life in prison.

Update 2: A fund has been established to help pay funeral costs; in just one day, it’s already raised over half of the $15,000; thanks to Olivia Eagleson and Chris Nguyen for the link. 

Meanwhile, Corona del Mar Today reports that Neil Stephany was formally charged with murder, as well as felony counts of hit and run causing permanent injury or death, and possession of a controlled substance, identified as SUBOXONE sublingual films.

Chris Nguyen also says in his comment that Shaun Eagleson was an avid reader of this site, which makes this one even more personal and heartbreaking for me.

Update 3: The following comment appeared on the original story about the collision on the Corona del Mar website; if true, it raises a lot of very uncomfortable questions. Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the tip. 

I think this accident could be prevented and this was the fault of Laguna Beach Police and paramedic. I was following the driver who hit the bicyclist and killed him, from Laguna Canyon in Laguna Beach and I noticed that he drives out of control. Immediately I contacted 911 and gave his license plate number, but 911 kept me waiting for 6 minutes and asking not important questions and finally they told me since you reached the Newport Beach we have to transfer to Newport Beach department. Instead of wasting time they could send immediately someone to catch this guy before he kills someone. But they didn’t and I saw that the driver hit the poor bicyclist. I pull over and contacted for paramedic it took for them about 10 to 15 minutes to show up and they were not at rush at all. I told them to hurry up the bicyclist is bleeding from head. And I don’t know with having so many closer trauma center why they took him to Mission Viejo Hospital which end up that young man dye at age of 30? big question for me….. who is really responsible for his death Laguna Beach Police, Paramedic or both?

Update 4: Sandra Eagleson, the wife of the victim, describes just how much she has lost as she becomes a widow at just 31 years old. Meanwhile, the OC Weekly details Stephany’s priors; I’m told by someone with knowledge of the case that he has “fuck the police” tattooed on his forehead, along with a swastika on the back of his head.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Shaun Eagleson and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Frank Peters, Patrick Pascal, Lois and Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.

 

Morning Links: A rough weekend for bike riders in San Diego and Orange Counties; the Times talks war on cars

We’ve got a lot of news to get to after a busy weekend.

But if you don’t like reading about the bad things that can happen when people on two wheels share the road with those on four, skip the next two sections.

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Too much bad news from San Diego this weekend.

No three-foot passing distance here, as a bike rider suffers a broken arm when he’s clipped by the foot peg of a passing motorcycle.

A San Diego cyclist is seriously injured when a car veers into the bike lane he was in while riding next to friends competing in a triathlon.

Her family pleads for the driver to come forward, as a hit-and-run victim remains in the ICU with a traumatic brain injury a week after she was run down by a heartless coward. A fund established in her name has raised $13,000 out of a goal of $25,000.

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Then again, the news from Orange County isn’t much better.

A 13-year old Huntington Beach boy is seriously injured when he’s hit by not one, but two Mercedes cars.

An Orange County cyclist suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a suspected drunk driver while riding on PCH Sunday evening. Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and Lois for the heads-up.

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News for all you low riders, as BentRider reports on Recumbent Cycle-Con 2014; thanks to LA BAC member David Wolfberg for the tip.

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Scary news when it comes to painted bike lanes, as a recent UK study shows they don’t make any difference in drivers’ passing distance. If the drivers even notice them.

On the other hand, a new survey shows overwhelming support for London bikeways.

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Local

The LA Times says it will take strong leadership to put cyclists, pedestrians and transit users on an equal footing with drivers in order to avoid a war on motorists. Maybe it’s time we all dropped the phrase “war on cars/drivers/motorists,” since the only victims of this mythical war are the ones on foot or two wheels.

The LA Register correctly points out that cyclists aren’t legally required to carry ID — although it’s always a good idea to have something with you, just in case.

Bike the Vote LA offers a bike oriented voter’s guide, but wisely avoids endorsing our bike-unfriendl, and anti-hit-and-run reform governor.

 

State

I want to be just like him when I grow up. An 80-year old Mission Viejo man rides 80 miles on his 80th birthday — and one more for good measure.

Newport Beach’s proposed Bicycle Master Plan goes before the city council.

Two-hundred brightly lighted cyclists celebrate Cycledelic in Palm Springs.

Just a little bias here, as the San Francisco Chronicle claims a proposition in the city’s upcoming election will put buses, bikes and pedestrians on the fast track while moving cars to the slow lane.

Over 100 Stockton riders turn out for the fifth annual San Joaquin Bike Festival.

 

National

Utah’s Bamboo Cyclist gets four years for running a non-bike related Ponzi scheme.

Laramie WY, where I used to get run off the road by pickup driving cowboys on a regular basis, is now among the top 10 towns for bike commuting, with a nearly 7% mode share.

Evidently, the life of an Iowa cyclist is worth less than the bike he was riding under current state law.

Good idea. A new Michigan law requires driver education courses to include instruction on bike and motorcycle laws.

A fire hose came loose from a Toledo fire truck on an emergency run, and yanked off the rear wheel of a bike while it was being ridden down the street; fortunately, the rider escaped with scrapes and a broken leg.

Arterial streets make up just 15% of New York roadways, but account for over half of the city’s bike and pedestrian collisions. I suspect the same thing would hold true here.

A writer for the New York Times says if cities want to encourage bicycling, they need to lose the emphasis on bike helmets.

A prominent New York investment banker doors a cyclist, then throws his business card to the limo driver and takes off running.

Evidently, Charleston police have a habit of blaming the victims in deadly bicycling collisions, regardless who is actually at fault.

 

International

Unbelievable. A UK milkman continued on his route after running down a bike rider. And gets a measly £3,000 fine — the equivalent of just $4,800.

Bicycling hits the mainstream as leading British fashion designer Ted Baker unveils his line of haute bikewear. Though I’ll pass on the hip-brushing sport coat paired with above-the-knee shorts.

Zac Efron celebrates his birthday by biking through the streets of Amsterdam.

Sounds like fun. A new bike tour promises to take you through the former East Germany from Berlin to Dresden.

Bicycling is gaining popularity in Delhi, despite the city’s deadly streets.

Tragically, the New Zealand cyclist who rode into a pothole suffered a broken neck, but may owe his life to the dog who stayed with him and barked for help for seven hours. Now that’s a good dog.

Fall is tweed season, even in Jakarta, Indonesia, which hosted its first ever tweed ride — attracting even the Norwegian and Danish ambassadors.

 

And finally…

Maybe she’s got long ears. An Austrian cyclist warming up for a time trial is shot by a hunter who mistook her for a hare. ‘Tis the season, as zombies on bikes take over Key West.

And a new Aussie study shows how to benefit from wheelsuckers.

 

Bike rider dies following Montbello collision on Thursday

More bad news.

Word is just coming in that a bike rider has died after being struck by a car in Montbello yesterday.

Seventy-one-year old Julio Fuentes Mendoza was riding on Lincoln Ave around 6 pm when he was hit by a vehicle. He was taken to County USC, where he passed away sometime today.

The driver remained at the scene; no other details are available at this time.

A ghost bike ceremony will be held at the site on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get the exact time and location of the ceremony in advance.

This is the 72nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 28th in Los Angeles County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Julio Mendoza and his loved ones. 

Thanks to Carlos Morales of Stan’s Bike Shop for the heads-up.

Update: Bike rider killed in Agoura Hills

Photo of the collision scene courtesy of Chris Willig

Photo of the collision scene courtesy of Chris Willig

I’m just getting word of a fatal bicycling collision just outside of Agoura Hills last night.

Details are still sparse, however, a bike rider identified only as Pete was struck and killed at the intersection of Kanan Road and Triunfo Canyon Road in unincorparated LA County sometime yesterday evening.

The victim was well known and liked in the area; local residents report he was often seen riding his bike through the canyons, though usually without lights.

Sadly, he leaves behind a wife and two teenage daughters. He reportedly didn’t have insurance; a fund will be set up to help pay funeral expenses.

Hopefully, we’ll get more information soon.

This is the 71st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 27th in Los Angeles County.

Update: Chris Willig reports the victim’s full name is Pete Young. He was struck by a Prius headed south on Kanan around 7:16 pm, at which time it would have been full darkness, and was tended to by a doctor who lives in the area before EMTs arrived.

Willig also forwards a video — which I’m not posting due to the graphic nature of the collision scene — which shows a debris field strewn roughly 30 to 40 feet from the intersection to the right shoulder.

It would appear Young was riding just to the right of the through lane as it crossed the intersection, and that the driver would have to have drifted out of the traffic lane to hit him, and continued towards the right shoulder after the collision.

As always, the question is why. 

Update 2: Evidently, pictures can be deceiving. According to a spokesperson for the CHP, Young was traveling west on Triunfo when he allegedly rode through a stop sign and was struck by a Kia — not a Prius — driven by a 19-year old driver. The driver, who was reportedly an emotional mess following the incident, stayed at the scene and attempted to help Young. 

Meanwhile, a fund has been established to help defray funeral expenses for Young’s family; as of 2:30 pm today, it has already raised $1000 of the $7500 goal. 

Update 3: Area resident Chris Willig offers more insights into the collision.

The CHP spokesperson is mistaken about the travel direction, Young was eastbound on Triunfo (where it doglegs to the south) preparing to make a left turn onto northbound Kanan (it is a skewed “T” intersection with Kanan headed briefly to the southeast). Young’s family lived on the south of Kanan off Mulholland, he worked on the north side and frequently made this trip. The attached aerial is top north (and unfortunately doesn’t show the recent restriping).

The impact point is to the right of the regular travel lane by several feet and would have be a “T”-bone type of hit. Since the travel lane is one lane width in front (to the southwest) of the stop limit line, it is plausible he stopped and then moved forward. The vehicle seems to have been to the right of the travel lane. This could have been the principal cause of the collision, catching Young off guard in what he might have thought was a “safe” zone.

Kanan transitions from one-lane in each direction to 2 south-bound and and one north bound lane. The right lane at the intersection are meant for turns only, but frequently through traffic violates this. We recently got the county to modify the intersection striping to make this more clear. Despite the new paint, drivers are still intent on the relatively long steep grade in front of them, lunging for more speed and the wider road ahead.

CollisionSite_PeteYoung

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Pete Young and and all his family. 

Thanks to Chris Willig and Leland Tang for their help with this story.

Update: Bike rider killed in Pearblossom collision; 70th SoCal cycling death of 2014

News is just coming in that a bike rider has been killed in a collision in Pearblossom, near Lancaster in north LA County.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the victim, identified only as a woman, was struck by a vehicle at 7:42 pm Saturday at the intersection of Longview and Le Page Ranch Roads. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other details are available at this time.

A street view shows a narrow, two-lane highway with dirt shoulders intersected on one side by a dirt road.

This is the 70th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 26th in Los Angeles County. That compares to 69 in SoCal this time last year, and 29 in LA County.

Update: My News LA places the collision site one-half mile from the Devil’s Punchbowl in the Angeles National Forest. 

Update 2: The Antelope Valley Times identifies the victim as Karla A. Thiel, a transient living in Littlerock. 

According to the paper, Thiel was positioned two feet inside the white line. However, she was wearing dark clothes and riding without lights or reflectors; the driver reportedly never saw her before hitting her from behind at 45 mph. 

Although someone should tell the CHP spokesman that in a collision at that speed, whether or not she was wearing a helmet is pretty irrelevant. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Karla Thiel and her loved ones.

Update: Alleged red light running cyclist killed in San Diego; first bicycling death in city this year

This is not the news any of us wanted to wake up to.

Multiple sources report a 57-year old bike rider was killed when he was trying to cross Camino del Rio West at Hancock Street in San Diego around 11:15 pm last night. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was headed west on Hancock when he was struck and killed by a Jeep SUV traveling south on Camino del Rio.

According to San Diego’s ABC 10 News, a witness reportedly saw the west-bound victim run the red light before he was hit by the Jeep that had just exited the freeway. Police say the driver does not appear to have broken any laws.

“He was crossing the street while the light was green,” witness Kevon Smith said. “It wasn’t his light, it was the opposite light. And he just went on his bike, didn’t stop… A Jeep, it was already coming off the freeway, it tried to slow down, (and) hit him.”

Advocacy group Bike SD describes Camino del Rio West as a virtual freeway with six lanes of traffic where speeds frequently exceed 50 mph. And notes that cyclists often have a hard time triggering the traffic light on Hancock, which could explain why the rider went through it; it’s not clear whether he stopped before proceeding or just kept going without stopping.

This is the 69th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 9th in San Diego County; surprisingly, it’s the first bike-related death in the city of San Diego since the first of this year.

Update: The San Diego Union-Tribune identifies the victim as 57-year old San Diego resident Edmund Nicholas Davis. According to the paper, Davis was riding in the crosswalk, against the light, when he was hit.

The paper also says he was a registered sex offender who had been convicted of child molestation, as well as rape. 

My sympathy and prayers for Edmund Nicholas Davis and his loved ones, as well as his victims.

Weekend Links: Blinded by the light, get out of jail free; your final updates on Sunday’s Heart of LA CicLAvia

Once again, blinded by the sun absolves a motorist of any responsibility to drive safely.

Authorities have ruled that the 74-year old driver who killed San Diego bike tourist and cycling instructor Kerry Kunsman won’t face charges in the death after concluding he was momentarily blinded by the sun when rounding a corner.

Which just happened to be the corner where Kunsman was riding.

Bizarrely, he was ticketed for careless driving on the assumption that his familiarity with the roadway and its popularity with cyclists meant he should have been more careful.

He was also ticketed for driving on a suspended license. There is something seriously wrong when a driver can kill someone without any real consequences despite having no legal right to be behind the wheel.

The story also notes that Kunsman was riding near the shoulder when he was hit.

Unfortunately, while most experts would recommend riding further into the traffic lane to increase visibility, there’s no way of knowing if driver would have seen him either way under the circumstances.

Thanks to Serge Issakov for the link.

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The LA Times celebrates CicLAvia by looking at the state of bicycling in Los Angeles. This is the 10th CicLAvia since the first one rolled on 10-10-10; and only the second one I will miss.

Streetsblog offers advice on how to gentrify 1st Street for a day, as well as 25 things to see along the CicLAvia route. They also provide tips on how to keep your cool in the oppressive heat; here’s my advice.

And drink lots of water.

The LA Post-Examiner takes a quick look at highlights of the route. And as always, the Militant Angeleno checks in with the definitive epic guide, and promises they’re all legit after punking us with his April Fools guide for the last one.

Meanwhile, the Daily News says Downtown traffic will be a living hell for motorists this weekend. But bike riders and pedestrians will rule the roads on Sunday.

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Local

KPCC interviews former New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan about what LA can learn from New York; first lesson is have a great DOT leader. Which it sounds like we finally have.

The candidates for next year’s CD4 council race talk traffic and bicycling.

A new stretch of bike path is unveiled in Pacoima.

A Monday meeting will discuss the bike-friendly replacement for the Sixth Street Viaduct.

A Glendale letter writer correctly points out that bike riders pay more than our fair share for the roads, despite what the anti-bike crowd insists.

 

State

An Indio father and daughter finish their ride from the desert city to New York.

Caught on video: A Santa Rosa City Councilman is caught swearing at a bus driver after a scary close pass; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up.

Sacramento will soon get bicycling paramedics.

Folsom unveils a new ped and bike bridge as part of the perfectly named Johnny Cash Trail; from which one could reasonably expect to hear a train a’ coming round the bend.

A 19-year old Milpitas driver is under arrest for leaving her bike riding victim to die in the street.

 

National

A conservative website says bicycling fatalities and falls far exceed deaths from mass shootings, thus missing the point entirely.

A Denver rider urges motorists to drive carefully around cyclists.

That Missouri mayor who intentionally ran a cyclist off the road faces a well deserved charge for felony assault.

Providence RI will convert a freeway causeway into a car-free bridge.

As for that NYPD bike crackdown to improve safety for cyclists, data says not so much. Meanwhile, injuries to pedestrians caused by collisions with cyclists are going down, despite the increase in ridership.

A county official in New York state was drunk when he hit a cyclist and fled the scene; fortunately, the victim was not seriously injured.

 

International

Thirty-one things you always wanted to know about bicycling but were afraid to ask.

Caught on video: A teenage UK cyclist gets nine weeks for walking his bike through a train tunnel at rush hour.

A Brit driver seems to think 10 years for killing two cyclists while driving drunk at over twice the legal limit is a tad harsh; I’m sure most bike riders would agree he got off easy.

Major road raging jerk frightens a six-year old French girl off her bike, then attacks her father — as well as the police who show up to break it up.

A Kiwi truck driver is a two-time loser after taking the life of a second bike rider in less than 10 years.

 

Finally…

Now that’s just too scary, as a Santa Cruz driver in clown makeup intentionally runs down a cyclist in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Here’s proof that a bike doesn’t always make the best getaway car.

And comic book hero Dr. Manhattan steals a bike from an Orlando Wal-Mart; okay, maybe not the real Dr. Manhattan.

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Best wishes for a good Yom Kippur and an easy fast.

My advice is to wear spectator shoes today; why just atone when you can two-tone?

Gov. Brown tacitly endorses hit-and-run; LA finally says enough is enough when it comes to traffic deaths

Once again, California cyclists have been Jerry Browned.

And this time, we’re not alone.

Everyone who uses the state’s streets and highways has been put at risk by our severely out of touch governor, who may be one of the last people left who has no idea that hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions.

The state legislature gets it.

LA-area legislators Mike Gatto and Steven Bradford, and Corona’s Eric Linder — two Democrats and a Republican — successfully shepherded bills through both houses to address the rampant problem of drivers fleeing the scenes of collisions.

Although problem probably isn’t the right word. Crisis fits a lot better for a crime that afflicts nearly 50% of all collisions in the City of Los Angeles, and countless others throughout the state.

And yes, it is a crime.

One that kills and cripples far more people than mass shootings every year — even though that was something Governor Brown was quick to sign a bill to address.

Yet he apparently doesn’t think hit-and-run is a problem.

In vetoing four bills addressing hit-and-run — modestly increasing penalties, ensuring fleeing drivers lost their licenses for a mere six months, creating an Amber Alert-style warning system for the most serious cases and preventing wealthy drivers from buying their way out of criminal charges — he helped ensure that the crisis will remain one.

And that untold numbers of Californian’s will continue to bleed and die on our streets, since the governor sent a clear message — four, in fact — that it’s no big deal.

Thanks, Jerry.

Granted, he paid lip service to the seriousness of the problem (pdf). But then he went on to insist that current penalties are high enough.

Never mind that if penalties really were high enough, drivers would actually remain at the scene instead of driving home to sober up before turning themselves in. Or just pretending it never happened and hoping they don’t get caught.

And knowing they probably won’t.

Actions speak far louder than words. By vetoing all four widely varied bills — as well as another that would have increased penalties for vulnerable road users — Brown sent a clear message to heartless drivers to go ahead and flee.

Because even if you do get caught — which is less likely thanks to his veto of the Yellow Alert system — you’ll face a slap on the wrist, at best.

It took three tries to get a three-foot passing bill past his misguided veto pen. Each time weakening the bill by removing key features Brown objected to before he finally accepted a relatively toothless measure, with advocates making a mental note to strengthen it once he left office.

Which isn’t likely to be anytime soon, since he continues to enjoy a nearly two-thirds lead over his Republican challenger.

And that means, unless someone can manage to get the seriousness of the problem through his thick bald skull — hello AAA and CHP — we face another four years before we’ll finally have a new governor who may decide that too many people have been killed and maimed by cowardly motorists unwilling to face the consequences of their actions.

Then again, if his opponent in this year’s election, Neel Kashkari, were to come out strongly in favor of actually doing something about hit-and-run, he might change a few votes.

Including mine.

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At least there’s better news from Los Angeles.

I was told over a year ago by someone involved in the process that the city’s new mobility plan would call for reducing — though not eliminating — traffic deaths. And that the words Vision Zero would appear nowhere in the document.

What a difference a year makes.

Whether it was the influence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, or new LADOT head Seleta Reynolds already putting her stamp on it, the just released document calls for eliminating traffic deaths in the city by 2025.

The new strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, reflects a fundamental rethinking of our streets, from the traditional focus on automotive throughput — moving as many vehicles through a given intersection as quickly as possible — to ensuring that everyone on those streets gets home safely.

And that, instead of destroying our neighborhoods, our streets will finally become the key to revitalizing them.

After years of never uttering the phrase — despite nearly ceaseless prodding from myself, the LACBC and others — city officials have finally joined New York and San Francisco in committing to a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.

Make no mistake. It won’t be easy.

In fact, as others have pointed out, it may be impossible.

But the key to Vision Zero is that it is a process as much as a goal. What matters are the steps taken to reduce the risk of traffic deaths, from calming traffic and reducing speed limits to improving crosswalks and bikeways. As well as increasing enforcement and education for everyone on the streets, and studying traffic deaths to determine why they happened and how they could have been avoided.

All based on the realization that even one fatality is one too many.

About time.

Or course, there’s more to the plan. As Streetsblog put it,

There’s plenty more in the plan that Streetsblog readers will love. We can’t get to all of it in this short article, but the plan includes: neighborhood traffic calming, bike share, car share, dedicated bus lanes, an improved bikeway network, transportation demand management, reducing disabled parking placard abuse, and plenty more.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Eric Bruins calls it “an ambitious yet achievable framework for the department over the next three years of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s term” and commends “LADOT’s new mission [which] prioritizes safe and accessible options for Angelenos of all ages and abilities, no matter their chosen mode of transportation.”

Then again, as bold as the plan is, it’s doomed to failure as long as individual councilmembers such as Koretz, LaBonge and Cedillo can opt out of already approved safety plans to ensure the streets in their districts remain dangerously auto-focused.

In other words is, we have to find a way to protect our nascent Vision Zero from elected officials with zero.

Vision, that is.

Update: Cyclist found dead following apparent hit-and-run in Oceanside

This is where hit-and-run crosses the line to cold-blooded murder.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a bike rider was found lying dead on an Oceanside roadway surrounded by evidence of an apparent hit-and-run.

The 28-year old victim, who hasn’t been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was found around 5:50 am by a man on his way to work at the San Luis Rey Water Treatment Plant. He was discovered near a smashed bike, as well as other evidence of a collision including tire marks and parts from a damaged car.

San Diego’s 10News places the location on the 3900 block of North River Road; a satellite view shows a dead end cul-de-sac, with access to another roadway through a drive leading to the treatment plant. They report that it’s unclear when the collision occurred or what time the victim died.

Police are looking for a lime or “alien” green Kia Soul, 2012 or 2013, with a missing headlight and front end damage on the passenger side.

Anyone with information is urged call Oceanside police at 760/435-4801.

In a case like this the driver should face a homicde charge, based on the assumption that the victim might have been saved if the driver had cared enough to stay at the scene and called for help. Instead, he or she made a conscious decision to flee the scene and leave an innocent person to die alone on a dark street.

This is the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in San Diego County.

Update: KUSI reports the driver was headed west on North River Road; considering it’s a cup-de-sac that could significantly limit the number of drivers who would have a reason to be there, especially in the middle of the night.

Update 2: According to NBC San Diego, police believe they have identified a suspect in the case. They also report the victim, who still has not been publicly identified, was pronounced dead after paramedics attempted CPR, suggesting it’s possible he might have been saved if he’d gotten help sooner. 

Update 3: The victim has been identified by his sister as 28-year old Philip White. A fund has been established to pay for funeral and other expenses related to the unexpected death, which has devastated his family; any excess funds will be donated to various charities, including MADD and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

It sounds like the world has lost a very kind and gentle soul. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the Philip White and all his loved ones. 

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