Archive for Injuries and Fatalities

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.

……..

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.

……..

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.

……..

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.

………

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. 

Update: Bike rider killed in Lawndale collision; details unknown

Once again, few details are available as the recent rash of bad news continues.

This morning, I was alerted to yet another bicycling fatality by a sharp eyed attorney, who spotted the news hidden in a string of traffic alerts from the CHP (scroll down to 7:14 am).

Based on that alert, Johnson Attorneys Group reports a rider in his 40s was killed in a Lawndale collision that occurred on Manhattan Beach Blvd near Cranbrook Ave in Lawndale at 7:14 this morning.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:30 am. No other details are available at this time.

Cranbrook does not actually intersect with Manhattan Beach Blvd; a satellite view shows a four lane, limited access street with a single crosswalk, suggesting the victim was most likely either hit from behind or crossing the street at the time of the collision.

However, the CHP reports indicate all lanes were blocked following the collision, which would most likely place the victim in the middle of the street when he was struck; El Camino College is located on the south side of Manhattan Beach Blvd, along with a golf course.

This is the 67th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 25th in Los Angeles County; that compares to 65 and 27, respectively, this time las year.

Update: According to the Daily Breeze, the victim, who has still not been publicly identified, was a man in his 60s. And as suggested above, he was riding his bike in the crosswalk when he was hit by a Hyundai sedan driving east on Manhattan Beach. 

A CHP spokesman reports the driver did not see the victim, despite flashing warning lights on the crosswalk; a comment below suggests he may have been blinded by the sun. 

Of course, the proper response when blinded is to pull over until you can see, rather than attempting to drive by braille, yet it is seldom prosecuted.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

61-year old bike rider killed in Huntington Beach; second cycling death in the city in just five days

Not again.

For the second time in just five days, a bicyclist has been killed in a Huntington Beach collision.

According to the Orange County Breeze, the OC Coroner’s office has identified the victim as 61-year old William Rowland, Jr of Costa Mesa.

Rowland was hit by a car shortly after 7:30 pm Friday at the intersection of Yorktown Ave and Education Way in Huntington Beach. He was transported to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he died shortly after midnight the following day.

A satellite view shows a bike lane in each direction on Yorktown, with the three-way intersection controlled only by a stop sign on Education Way.

No other information is available at the time; the paper reports the collision is still under investigation.

His death follows on the heels of the alleged DUI collision that took the life of 55-year old Michael Bastien of Huntington Beach on Monday, less than eight miles away.

This is the 66th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 14th in Orange County. And it’s the 6th cycling death this year in Huntington Beach, which has apparently become a very dangerous place to ride a bike.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for William Rowland, Jr and all his loved ones.

Bike rider killed in Chula Vista; 65th SoCal cycling fatality this year

Sometimes, all it takes is a single mistake.

That seems to be what happened in Chula Vista, as a bike rider was killed in a collision Friday afternoon.

According to the Union-Tribune and other sources, the cyclist, who was identified only as a 60-year old man, was riding south on the 800 block of Hilltop Drive, near Telegraph Canyon Road, around 3:10 pm. According to witnesses, he was on the far right edge of the road when he suddenly made a sharp left turn directly in front of a pickup traveling in the same direction.

He was declared dead at the scene, after the driver was unable to avoid hitting him. No word on why the victim may have turned without warning, or apparently looking for traffic before turning.

This is the 65th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in San Diego County. It’s also the 2nd cycling death in Chula Vista this year, and the 5th since 2012.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Update: Huntington Beach bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver

It’s the curse of a holiday weekend.

Bicyclists can encounter drunk drivers any day of the year. But the risk rises exponentially on holiday weekends — and seems to be even worse in beach communities.

That’s appears to have been the case in Huntington Beach Monday evening, as yet another bike rider lost his life at the hands of a suspected drunk driver.

According to the Orange County Register, a cyclist identified only as a man in his 50s was struck from behind while riding on Bolsa Chica Street north of Heil Avenue around 6:30 pm. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The driver, a resident of Huntington Beach, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI.

KNBC-4 reports that the victim was a father from Huntington Beach, while the driver was behind the wheel of a Mercedes. According to the station, several witnesses rushed to aid the victim following the collision, including medical professionals and a lifeguard.

The station offers a single photo from the scene, showing a crumpled bicycle in the middle of the street, while a satellite view shows a six lane roadway with a bike lane on either side.

Meanwhile, someone who came upon the scene shortly after the collision reports seeing two bikes at the scene, apparently recumbents. A white Mercedes was stopped in the left turn lane, while one bike — apparently the one photographed by KNBC — was in the center of the three lanes, and the other was in the bike lane.

That suggests there may have been more that one rider involved, either in the collision or riding with the victim.

This is the 64th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Orange County; that compares to 12 for all of last year in the county. And it’s the 4th bicycling death in Huntington Beach this year alone, and the 9th since 2011.

Update: I’m told the driver was cited for DUI and released on his own recognizance overnight. 

Update 2: According to the Register, the victim has been identified as 55-year old Michael Bastien of Huntington Beach. The paper reports he was riding a motorized bicycle, and places the location as just below Kona Dr

For some reason, though, the police arrested the 51-year old driver, who they have not identified, on a single misdemeanor DUI count, rather than what would appear to be a more appropriate felony. The difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI is that the driver’s drunken state resulted in the injury or death of another person. 

That would suggest that the police may be blaming the victim for causing the collision, despite the driver’s apparent drunken state.

Never mind that the paper says police located the driver nearby, suggesting he did not remain at the scene and failed to stop and offer assistance, as required by law. 

And yet, he was only arrested on a single misdemeanor DUI charge.

However, police are still investigating, and anyone with information is urged to call Investigators Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.

Let’s hope any witnesses will come forward. Because this one is starting to stink already.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michael Bastien and his family. 

Update: DA refuses to file charges in Milt Olin case

The investigation is finally complete.

As predicted as soon as the LA County Sheriff’s Department inexplicably insisted on investigating itself in the death of cyclist and former Napster Exec Milt Olin, no charges will be filed against the deputy who killed him.

And as long predicated by myself and others, the immediate cause of the collision was the deputy’s use of the patrol car’s onboard computer while traveling on a winding road at 48 mph.

It was clear that the Sheriff’s Department was attempting to downplay their investigation — if not coverup the results — when they announced late on the Friday before Memorial Day that it had been turned over to the DA’s office for evaluation over a week before.

Then, nothing.

Not a word from the District Attorney for over three months, until news broke late this afternoon that the deputy responsible, Andrew Wood, would not face charges.

DA refusal letter (pdf)

Surprisingly, it actually appears the Sheriff’s Department recommended a charge of vehicular manslaughter; not surprisingly, the DA declined to file, saying they did not feel they could prove the deputy was negligent, which would be required for a conviction.

As we have discussed before, the case hinged on CVC 23123.5, which prohibits using electronic communication devices while driving — but exempts police officers and other emergency service workers in the performance of their duties.

According to the DA, that exemption applied in this case, as Wood was typing a response to a query from another officer when he drifted into the bike lane and rear-ended Olin’s bike without ever braking.

As often happens in such cases, Wood initially claimed Olin swerved in front of him in the traffic lane, and he only went into the bike lane in an attempt to avoid him. That is, until physical evidence and witness testimony proved him wrong, at which point his story changed to say he never saw Olin prior to the collision.

Yet somehow, the mere fact that Wood was driving at nearly 50 mph — in a bike lane — with no idea what was on the road directly in front of him is not sufficient evidence of negligence as far as the DA’s office is concerned.

Simply put, there are only two options.

Either the deputy was at fault for driving distracted — even though he could legally use the computer, he is still required to drive in a safe and legal manner.

Or the Sheriff’s Department itself is negligent for a policy allowing its officers to use the onboard computer in a manner that places everyone else at risk, as they will undoubtedly be found responsible for in the civil suit filed by members of the Olin family.

Either way, thanks to the complicity of the DA’s office, no one will ever be held accountable for the death of an innocent man, whose only crime was going for a bike ride on a sunny afternoon.

And a dangerous, if not deadly, policy will never be changed.

Thanks to Brenda Gazzar for breaking the story. 

Update: The afore mentioned Brenda Gazzar offers a detailed look at the case and the DA’s decision not to file charges in the LA Daily News, including this:

Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said he was disappointed to see a clearly distracted law enforcement officer escape charges on what he called a technicality.

“Just because the law allows someone to do something while driving doesn’t mean they are allowed to do something unsafely while driving,” Bruins said. “Hitting someone from behind is very clear evidence that whatever was going on in that car was not safe and should have been considered negligent.”

It’s definitely worth a read to get the full story.

Meanwhile, LAist quotes several angry tweets from very pissed-off cyclists. Including yours truly.

 

 

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