Tag Archive for bicycling fatalities

Morning Links: Governors’ safety group discovers rising bike fatality rates, but fails to provide necessary context

For the past few years, I’ve joined with a few others to wave the red flag warning about a dramatic increase in bicycling fatalities.

Now finally, a national organization has joined us in sounding the alarm.

A new study on bicycle safety from the Governors Highway Safety Administration cites a 16% increase in bicycling fatalities in just three years, from 2010 to 2012.

The Times’ Jerry Hirsch offers a detailed, yet easy to understand report on their findings.

The problem is, the study presents the bare stats without the necessary context for them to have any real meaning or usefulness.

For instance, they note that 69% of bicycling fatalities occur in urban areas, which correlates to a 62% increase in bike commuting since 2000. But fail to note that the 16% increase in overall bicycling fatalities no doubt corresponds to an increase in overall bicycling rates.

In fact, it’s entirely possible that bicycling is actually getting safer, since no one has any clue how much ridership has increased in that same three-year period, since virtually no one bothers to count it.

Though there are a few exceptions.

They also say that California has the highest number of bicycling fatalities, with Florida coming in second. However, they fail to mention that California has the largest population of any state, so it could be reasonably expected to have the most fatalities.

They repeat the same mistake in observing that six states — California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas — represent 54% of all bicycling fatalities. Yet don’t bother to point out that those are also the five most populated states, with Michigan coming in at a close ninth, representing over a third of the US population and most of the major urban centers.

Far more meaningful is the fact that bicycling deaths represent just over 4% of all traffic fatalities in California, twice the national average. At least that figure is in context, and clearly sends a message that far too many bike riders are dying here in the late, great Golden State.

Now that’s something we can work with to demand safer streets.

Unfortunately, it goes on.

The study observes that two-thirds of fatally injured bike riders weren’t wearing helmets in 2012. Which sounds significant, until you consider that nowhere do they attempt to determine how many of those fatal injuries resulted from head wounds.

Helmets are useful items — I never ride without mine — but they are designed to protect against relatively slow speed impacts, not high speed traffic collisions. And they don’t do anything to protect against internal injuries or bleeding.

It is worth nothing that 28% of the bike riders over the age of 16 that were killed in 2012 were over the legal limit for drunk driving. A clear indication that booze and bikes don’t mix, since it impairs your judgment and slows your reflexes — exactly the opposite of the skills you need to survive on the streets.

On the other hand, I would much rather see drunks ride their bikes, where they are a danger primarily to themselves, than get behind the wheel of a car and pose a danger to everyone around them.

Finally, the study correctly notes that our current roadway system was not designed with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind, and that integrating the streets poses challenges. They conclude that cyclists are safest on separated cycle paths, but note that such separated facilities are rarely feasible.

That’s true.

But only because our current leadership doesn’t have the courage or political will to make it happen.

It hasn’t proven to be a problem in places with strong leaders committed to improving safety on our streets, like New York and Chicago, which have somehow found a way to shoehorn those “infeasible” bikeways onto the streets, for the benefit of everyone — cyclists and drivers alike.

I’m not saying the study has no value. It clearly points out that too many of us are dying on American — and Californian — streets.

Then again, one is one too many.

And it’s long past time we did something about it.

……..

A new PSA gets people across LA to promise not to text and drive. Or at least to lie about it, anyway.

……..

Local

LA Bike Trains helps Los Angeles bike riders get to work safely while inspiring similar programs around the country.

The LAPD and USC’s DPS take victim blaming to a new level, attempting to protect bike riders and pedestrians by — wait for it — ticketing bike riders and pedestrians, rather than the people in the big, dangerous machines. And bizarrely, they ticket a cyclist for entering an intersection while the red Don’t Walk hand is flashing, which is just as legal for bicyclists as it is for motorists.

A new UCLA study points out the many public health and economic benefits of pathways along LA’s rivers; improving health and fitness is a lot cheaper than treating diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

A Vancouverite goes bicycling on some of the best bikeways the City of Angels has to offer, and not surprisingly, finds it not to her liking.

Calbike invites you to party with them at the Queen Mary next Monday.

 

State

Good news, as San Diego’s recent Ocean Beach hit-and-run victim is making a remarkable recovery from a major traumatic brain injury.

A Stockton teen has his bike stolen in a strong arm robbery.

San Francisco’s blast to the auto-centric past Prop L is called a right-wing attack on bicycling and safe streets.

A San Francisco bike rider gets shot in the foot.

Sad news, as a Cupertino teen is killed by a big-rig gravel truck while riding to school Monday morning.

 

National

Scary news, as a writer for City Lab says your U-lock is pretty much useless.

New York cuts speed limits to 25 mph in all five boroughs to improve safety; needless to say, not everyone approves. If LA’s leaders had the courage to do that and actually enforce it — which they don’t — it would not only improve safety but most likely, traffic flow as well.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber ride through New York on their family-sized Dutch bike.

Bicyclists have to invent devices to overcome bad road planning.

In an OpEd piece for the Washington Post, a cyclist asks why people who don’t drive have to subsidize parking for those who do. Maybe we deserve a discount on rent and shopping.

Russell Crowe rides a bike to the set of his new movie in Atlanta.

 

International

The Guardian asks if it’s possible to look stylish while riding to work; not to spoil the surprise, but it would be a very short story if the answer was no.

Once again, saying they just didn’t see a cyclist proves to be the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, as not one, but two Brit drivers get off after claiming the sun was in their eyes.

Caught on video: A rare double — and possibly triple — bird, as a UK cyclist and motorist flip each other off after the later drives right at the former.

Caught on video: In case you’ve been wondering how the new Fly6 rear facing bike cam and tail light works, a Sydney cyclist catches a rear view of a major flip following a collision; he wasn’t badly hurt but his bike is a goner.

Two years after a Kiwi cyclist warned about the installation of bollards on a bike path, they’re being removed after his wife was seriously injured falling on them.

 

Finally…

A simple 25 question quiz to determine if you’re overly obsessed with cycling; looks like I’m only mildly obsessed. Halloween costumes for you and your bike. And a new bike tire promises to never go flat because it doesn’t have any air in it.

 

Update: Bike rider killed in Claremont collision; 54% increase in LA County bike deaths this year

It’s happened again.

For at least the third time this month, a bike rider traveling in a designated bike lane has killed in an apparent rear-end collision, this time in Claremont.

According to KTLA-5, the victim was riding east on Baseline Rd at or near Bonnie Brae Ave around 10 am today when he — or possibly she — was hit by a vehicle traveling in the same direction. While road position is not mentioned, the story notes the presence of a bike lane; a wide, curbside lane is clearly visible in Google’s street view.

Another report put the collision site near the Vons at Baseline and Mills Ave.

The victim was declared dead at the scene. The driver remained at the scene and is reportedly cooperating with police.

This is at least the 86th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, compared to 74 last year, and the 37th in Los Angeles County — 13 more than each of the last two years.

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

Thanks to Michael Wagner, Erik Griswold and Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: According to Michael Wagner of CLR Effect, the victim appears to be a man in his 70s, who was hit near the intersection with Edinboro Ave, between Baseline and Mills.

Claremont Patch reports the collision occurred at 9:54 this morning.

Update 2: KTLA-5 reports the victim is 76-year old La Verne resident Ali Mirage. The driver, a 54-year old woman whose name was not released, has not been charged pending the outcome of the investigation. 

Update 3: The Daily Bulletin reports Mirage was honored with a ghost bike on Tuesday. Family members remember him as a fearless free spirit who loved nature, life and exercising.

Thirteen fallen cyclists in the City of Angels, and no one even seems to notice — or care

Ghost bike for Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Ghost bike for Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Thirteen.

That’s the answer to the question the LA Times didn’t ask.

In an opinion piece that went online Thursday as part of the paper’s extensive coverage of bicycling issues in the City of Angels, Times writer Robert Greene notes that London is reeling over the deaths of six bike riders in the last two weeks. And 14 this year.

It’s a devastating total for a city that, like Los Angeles, has made great strides in accommodating cyclists in recent years, and has seen an accompanying jump in ridership.

Or maybe it’s the other way around, as an increasing number of riders have demanded better infrastructure.

Either way, the uproar is entirely justified, as Londoners are shocked by the carnage on their streets, and demand action. Even if some insist on blaming the victims, whether for wearing headphones or other imagined violations that had noting to do with the deaths.

Just one problem.

Los Angeles, with less than half the population of the British capital, has suffered just one less death this year.

Thirteen Angelenos have lost their lives on the city’s streets since the first of the year. All in traffic collisions.

And shockingly, nine of those 13 deaths have been hit-and-runs, as heartless drivers have fled the scene, leaving their victims to bleed out in the street.

Yet unlike London, there is no outrage on the streets of LA.

There are no protests. There are no die-ins. There are no calls in the press for urgent action to keep our two-wheeled citizens safe as they ride, whether for transportation or recreation.

In fact, as far as I can tell, no one in the press has even noticed.

It’s just accepted as the cost of sharing our streets. Maybe there’s brief outpouring of shock and grief in some cases, near total silence in others. But in the long run, as the late Phil Ochs sang, it doesn’t seem to interest anyone outside of a small circle of friends.

And no one in the media or government ever does the math to come up with the horrifying total.

Thirteen.

Some might say it’s only 12, as one victim — Markeis Vonreece Parish — was walking his bike when he was run down by a cowardly killer in a speeding Mercedes who didn’t even slow down after blasting through another human being.

Technically, Parish was a pedestrian when he was hit. But the fact that he was holding his bike as he walked with friends implied he’d ridden it there, and would likely get back on it to return home.

And that makes him one of us.

Then again, I don’t see where 12 victims is any less tragic than 13. Especially when the city saw just five fallen cyclists in each of the last two years.

As if that isn’t five too many.

Even as the press reports on the deaths in London, the loss of lives on our own streets is unnoticed or ignored.

There’s no demand for action from our advocacy groups as the death toll mounts; no mass protests at city hall.

And no reaction at all from city hall. No calls from the mayor to halt the bloodshed, no action from the city council to help keep bike riders alive, no demands, unlike other cities, for an end to traffic deaths, let alone those of more vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians.

In fact, in this bloody year of 2013, with nearly three times the bicycling deaths of recent years — and still six weeks left to go — supposedly bike-friendly councilmembers like Tom LaBonge and Paul Koretz have gone on record as opposing bike lanes on Lankershim and Westwood. And had the mayor’s support in gutting the green lanes on Spring Street.

When we need a hand up, we get a knife in the back.

But what’s a few more dead cyclists in the grand scheme of things, if that means drivers — and Hollywood — can continue to maintain their hegemony on our streets?

Greene’s piece isn’t bad.

He suggests the need for protected bike lanes, though noting that we’re unlikely to get them everywhere they’re needed. And he calls for greater enforcement against law-breaking drivers, even though he can’t resist the false equivalency of headphone-wearing bike riders.

But where is the outrage over the blood that’s being spilled on our own streets, as too many Angelenos lose their lives on the hoods and bumpers of cars? And the angels that watch over this city silently scream at the indifference we show to the deaths of our brothers and sisters.

Thirteen.

It’s just accepted as the cost of transportation, the desperately high price we pay for getting from here to there.

And that may just be the greatest tragedy of all.

Pointing the finger where it belongs — LA cyclists don’t die because of their own careless actions

Uh, no.

Hell no.

Tuesday morning’s LA Times contained a column by formerly auto-centric, anti-bike columnist Sandy Banks, who seemingly saw the light following her first exposure to CicLAvia.

After a recent column in which she related the tale of a mother who launched a battle against distracted driving when her son was killed crossing a busy street, she followed up with unexamined criticisms from readers who blamed pedestrians — and cyclists — for their own deaths.

Needless to say, none of the responses took drivers to task for failing to pay attention, observing the speed limit or putting down their damn phones.

No, the comments she highlighted blamed the victims, placing full responsibility for avoiding collisions squarely on the shoulders of those not driving the big, dangerous machines capable of killing other road users.

As in, I don’t want to kill you. So it’s your responsibility to get the hell out of my way.

Like this one, for instance.

“I know that there are plenty of inconsiderate drivers, but I see just as many inconsiderate pedestrians that need to take some personal responsibility for their own safety,” wrote Wayne Pedersen.

His drive along busy Foothill Boulevard resembles a dangerous game of chicken, with pedestrians oblivious to stoplights, crosswalks and even corners, he said. “Not a month goes by that I do not have a close call, [almost] hitting someone.”

Call me crazy, but if I almost hit someone at least once a month, I’d take a long, hard look at my own driving, rather than pointing the finger at others.

On the other hand, I won’t waste your time pointing out all the problems with this piece. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton did that already.

And as usual, did it well.

I don’t think Banks is anti-pedestrian, or even anti-bike anymore. Her heart seems to be in the right place, even if she’s looking at the problem from the wrong angle.

My problem comes with the LAPD traffic officer who pointed her in the wrong direction.

“Many, if not most, of the pedestrians and bicyclists that get hit (and often die) are the cause of their own demise,” wrote reader Kurt Smith. “They are not obeying the laws, and/or not paying attention.”

Smith ought to know; he’s a traffic cop. A sergeant in the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, he deals “with the aftermath of poor choices” made by people who are struck while walking, running and riding bikes.

Yes, Sgt. Smith ought to know. But evidently, doesn’t.

Whether it’s a case of windshield perspective, police bias or selective amnesia, he gets it dangerously wrong. At least as a far as fatal collisions involving cyclists are concerned.

  • Take Christopher Spychala, the 49-year old cyclist killed when the driver of a parked car threw her door open in his path. He was, by all accounts, obeying the law; if he is to be faulted at all, it’s for riding in the door zone and not wearing a helmet to protect himself from a careless driver.
  • Or David Granatos, the 18-year old bike rider killed by a speeding, red light-running hit-and-run driver while riding in the presumed safety of a crosswalk.
  • Yes, 90-year old Joo Yoon was riding against the light when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver. But most likely because he couldn’t ride fast enough to get across the street before the light changed.
  • Then there’s the rider, to the best of my knowledge never publicly identified, who was the victim of a driver who deliberately ran him over in Downtown LA before fleeing the scene; kind of hard to blame a murder victim for the actions of his killer.
  • The limited information contained in the LAPD press release doesn’t explain how or why 44-year old Max De La Cruz was hit by the car that killed him. But since the driver fled the scene, I know who I’d blame.
  • You’d be hard-pressed to blame the publicly unidentified rider who was collateral damage when a driver slammed into his bike, killing him, while attempting to flee after shooting into his girlfriend’s car.
  • Yes, Jose Cuellar was probably responsible for his own death, since he died in a solo fall, although there were reports of screeching tires before witnesses saw him wobbling on his bike.
  • Forty-seven year old Samuel Martinez reportedly ran a red light when he was hit and killed by a car last July, making him at fault for his own death.
  • Eighteen-year old Markeis Vonreece Parish was walking his bike across an intersection when he was hit by a speeding car that fled the scene, leaving him to die in the street.
  • There is no suggestion that 39-year old Victor Awad was doing anything wrong when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Chatsworth last August.
  • There is also no suggestion that the publicly unidentified rider killed by a turning car in Tarzana in August broke the law in any way.
  • Luis “Andy” Garcia certainly wasn’t at fault in any way when he and two other riders were run down by a drunk driver who fled the scene, leaving him lying in the roadway where he was hit and killed by a second vehicle.
  • You’d be hard-pressed to blame 20-something cyclist Billy Martinez, who was killed when a driver turned left directly in front of him as he rode home from his job in Sunland.

Thirteen cyclists killed in the City of Los Angeles since the first of this year; several of them in the same San Fernando Valley district Sgt. Smith patrols.

Of those, there’s no indication that 10 were in any way responsible for the collisions that took their lives, while only three could be clearly blamed for actions that resulted in their own deaths.

Or looking at it another way, seven of the riders were clearly not at fault, three were, and for another three, we don’t have enough information to point the finger one way or the other.

Either way, that’s far from the “many, if not most,” who cause their deaths through their own carelessness, as Sgt. Smith suggested.

I can’t speak for riders who have been injured, rather than killed; there are far too many for any one person to keep up with.

And I leave it to someone else to track pedestrian deaths. While my heart goes out to all traffic victims, this blog is about bicycling, and it’s all I can do just to track the bike riders who lose their lives on our streets.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Sgt. Smith’s heart is in the right place. And he’s speaking based on his own perceptions, in an attempt to keep cyclists and pedestrians in one piece.

But any suggestion that bike riders are responsible for their own deaths just doesn’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.

And it is irresponsible for anyone to suggest otherwise.

………

There’s one important though I forgot to add when I wrote this.

It is true, as Banks said, that some cyclists and pedestrians put their own safety at risk through carelessness or distraction when they ride or walk, just as some drivers are careless, distracted or overly aggressive behind the wheel.

The difference is, even the worst rider or walker is a danger primarily to him or herself, while bad drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

However, there is nothing you can do to control the actions of others.

All you can do is control your own behavior.

And ride, walk or drive defensively, in a way that protects your own safety and doesn’t pose a danger to those around you.

………

One other quick note.

I got an email today from Mark Elliot, author of Better Bike and one of the area’s leading bike advocates, almost single-handedly taking on the challenge of making the former Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills a little more bike friendly.

And it’s largely thanks to his efforts that we can call it the former Black Hole.

He writes to let us know that meetings are starting this Thursday to discuss the planned remake of Santa Monica Boulevard through the city. And the need for bike riders to be heard to ensure there’s space for us when the work is finished.

I wanted to give you a heads-up that City of Beverly Hills this fall will be developing design options for tomorrow’s SM Blvd as part of our reconstruction of the corridor. As you know, much-needed bicycle lanes must be on the table, but there is some public (and City Hall) opposition to be overcome.

To facilitate public input, the city recently created a ‘blue-ribbon’ committee. I’ve been appointed; I’ll be representing cycling interests. More important, this presents an opening for the cycling community to be heard. Anyone with an interest in plugging the  SM Blvd bike lane gap in Beverly Hills should be aware of the process and the opportunity for comment.

The first meeting is this Thursday, November 7th at 6pm in Beverly Hills (in the library). The 2nd meeting follows in December with a third (and final) meeting in early January. Design recommendations will go to Council in late January, most likely, and we want to be sure that the recommended option(s) includes Class II bike lanes.

Here is the project page:
www.beverlyhills.org/SMBLVD
 
Here are my posts about it:
http://betterbike.org/2013/11/mark-your-calendar-sm-blvd/
http://betterbike.org/2013/10/beverly-hills-calls-for-public-input-on-sm-blvd-project/

I’m not sure I can make there it this time; if not, you’ll see me at one of the other meetings.

But if you can make it on Thursday, I urge you to show up and make you voice heard to close the dangerous gap between the bike lanes on the boulevard through West Hollywood and Century City.

Your safety, and mine, could depend on it.

Four months after a bike rider was fatally injured in a hit-and-run, Redlands police say it never happened

Something smells a little fishy here.

Last week I wrote about a Redlands bike rider who tragically died months after she was critically injured in an October hit-and-run.

Laura Lee Jones was reportedly hit from behind by a car traveling at an estimated 45 to 55 miles an hour; police asked the public to be on the alert for a newer black sedan with damage to the front bumper, windshield and roof.

Now they say it didn’t happen.

I’ll let a Redlands resident take up the story in an email I received Tuesday evening.

Thought I should send this your way as a follow up to your Feb 19 post about Laura Lee Jones, who passed away after an apparent hit-and-run in Redlands last October.  This is from the Redlands Police Department Facebook update this afternoon.

Fatal October accident determined not to be hit-and-runAn October traffic collision that resulted in the death of woman earlier this month was determined not to be a hit-and-run accident as initially believed.The collision occurred in the eastbound lanes of Lugonia Avenue at Grove Street at about 6:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26. The victim, 51-year-old Laura Lee Jones, was critically injured. She died Feb. 3 of injuries sustained in the accident. Early witness reports described a black vehicle that initially struck Jones and left the scene before she was struck by another vehicle which did stop. Police conducted an investigation, examining physical evidence at the scene and reinterviewing witnesses, and determined that the first vehicle was not involved in the accident. The driver of the vehicle that struck Jones was determined not at fault and no charges have been filed.Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Redlands Police Dispatch at (909) 798-7681. Anonymous tips can be provided by texting 274637 using the keyword “REDTIP.” Certain non-emergency crimes may also be reported online using the Redlands Police Department’s CopLogic reporting system at

http://ci.redlands.ca.us/police/coplogic/start-report.html.

I’m really trying to be reasonable here. This accident happened less than 2 miles from my home. Yes, it is a busy street, and yes, it was dark.

Initial reports stated that witnesses reported that a black vehicle had hit the victim and fled east toward Mentone without stopping. I didn’t ever see a report that talked about the second car hitting her at that time. Now that she’s dead, they re-interview witnesses and decide that the black car didn’t hit her after all? The car that supposedly had front end, windshield and roof damage didn’t even hit her?  Did the second car that stopped have damage, because if it’s the only car that hit her, it should have. The second car isn’t even mentioned until updates this month after the vigil her friends held for her at the site where she was hit.

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/news/ci_21871792/hit-and-run-vehicle-injures-cyclist-redlands-police

http://www.sbsun.com/ci_21871792/hit-and-run-vehicle-injures-cyclist-redlands-police?IADID=Search-www.sbsun.com-www.sbsun.com

Regardless of who hit her, she was nailed from behind and she died. Some driver should face a charge of some sort. Name the driver that hit her so there is at least a squinch of accountability.

Funny how the story changes completely only after the victim died.

Suddenly she was killed by a second car that hadn’t existed in the press or police reports in more than three months before Jones died. And the first car, which supposedly sustained extensive front end damage, never touched her.

Not that that strains credibility or anything.

It’s possible, of course. By now, we should all know that a speeding car can cause a rider to fall without ever actually making contact. Yet that doesn’t make the driver any less at fault.

In this case, though, police apparently ignore witness statements to conclude it’s just another case of harm, but no foul.

So maybe it’s just a case of exceptionally bad PR.

Maybe if the Redlands police had updated the investigation as they went on, rather than doing a complete 180 after Jones death, it might not strain their credibility to such a degree.

Maybe if they’d announced publicly that they’d found the driver and determined he wasn’t at fault months ago, it might be more believable.

Or maybe if they’d even mentioned the mere existence of the second vehicle, it might not seem like they’d pulled it out of their… well, hats.

Maybe they’ve just done an incredibly bad job of keeping the public informed. Or maybe there’s something else going on here.

Speaking strictly for myself, I’d like to know who was driving that black sedan.

Because something certainly seems rotten in the state of Redlands.

A bad year gets worse, as Redlands bike rider dies from injuries suffered in October hit-and-run

Last year was a bad one for SoCal cyclists. And now word is coming out that it was worse than we thought.

The San Bernardino Sun reports on a vigil held last night for Laura Lee Jones, who died two weeks ago from injuries she suffered in an October hit-and-run.

The 50-year old Redlands resident, who did not own a car, was riding her mountain bike east on Lugonia Avenue near Grove Street around 6:45 pm on Friday, October 26th when she was hit from behind by a car traveling at an estimated 45 to 55 miles per hour. The car, described as a newer black 4-door sedan with tinted windows, fled the scene without stopping; the vehicle reportedly suffered damage to the front bumper, windshield and roof.

The road narrows at that intersection, with the eastbound side going from two lanes to one just before Grove Ave. However, there’s no word on whether that may have contributed to the wreck.

Jones was in a coma for a month following the collision, and was unable to move or speak for weeks afterward. The paper does not give a cause of death, but says it is unclear if her death was directly linked to the collision.

According to the Sun, the collision is still under investigation; anyone with information is urged to call Redlands Police Dispatch at 909-798-7681.

If the death can be tied to the injuries Jones suffered as a result of the collision, the driver could face substantially increased penalties for the hit-and-run.

If he or she is ever caught.

Simply put, there is never, ever any excuse for fleeing the scene of a collision. Those who do should face mandatory homicide charges if their victim dies, since they callously and knowingly left their victim to die on the streets. And they should automatically lose their drivers licenses for life, since they have shown themselves unfit to be behind the wheel.

Jones’ death increases the final total of 2012 cycling fatalities in Southern California to 75, 10 of which occurred in San Bernardino County — which is about 75 and 10 too many, respectively. Fourteen of those resulted from hit-and-run collisions, with three in San Bernardino County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Laura Lee Jones and all her family and loved ones.

Call now to fight killer roads in San Diego, and a near repeat of a Huntington Beach bike path collision

Just a quick update on a busy day.

Anyone who rides in the San Diego area should take a moment to read today’s BikeSD, in the wake of the death of a publicly unidentified bike rider on Clairemont Mesa Blvd last week.

While no official word has been released regarding the cause of the collision, cyclists have been quick to blame bad road design that forces riders going straight to cross over an exit lane leading to a freeway onramp — just as they did in the death of David Ortiz last year.

In response, riders are prepared to take on, not just a city famed for turning a blind eye to cycling fatalities, but what may be the state’s most bureaucratic and unresponsive agency.

There’s still time to join in and call Caltrans District Director Laurie Berman to demand that she appear at tomorrow’s San Diego City Council meeting to defend the city’s high-speed killer streets, and Caltrans’ apparent refusal to do anything to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Or motorists, for that matter.

And to attend tomorrow’s council meeting yourself to demand both immediate and long-term action to prevent more needless deaths on the city’s streets.

Because far too many people have died on San Diego streets already.

……..

Our anonymous South Bay/Orange County correspondent reports another collision at the exact same site where a car went off PCH in Huntington Beach and nearly killed cyclist Richard Lauwers as he rode on the bike path below.

No cyclist involved

By 10pm, when I rode past, the totaled car had been righted and was facing north, in the exact location of the incident that put Richard Lauwers in the ICU for days.

The tow truck driver was the only one still on the scene, using power tools to try to get the mangled car roll-able.  He said he’d arrived just as the ambulance left Code 3 for UCI.  “The kid fell asleep,” is what HBFD told him, and he added that the car had rolled and then came to rest upside down, half on the path & half on the sand. He also said the cops don’t suspect alcohol or drugs (of course, if the tox results disagree, there’ll be charges.)

I hope all the pretty sparkly bits of glass are swept off the path for the Sunday morning cyclists.

I hope a mom isn’t signing Consent to Harvest papers tonight.

Ride safe out there!

Two serious collisions that sent drivers off the road in exactly the same spot indicates a serious safety problem that has to be addressed on the roadway.

And should serve as a warning to cyclists that they may not be safe riding the bike path there.

………

Finally, I stumbled on something I found heartbreaking over the weekend.

Yes, it’s a good thing that bicycling has become so mainstream that it’s now used to sell everything from pharmaceuticals to fashion.

But it’s a sad day when a once proud Pashley is relegated to serving out its remaining days as a flat-tired retail display in a Santa Monica Banana Republic.

Banana Republic Pashley

The L.A. hit-and-run epidemic claims yet another victim

There’s been a lot of talk about L.A.’s hit-and-run epidemic lately, largely driven by a pair of L.A. Weekly articles.

Today it claimed yet another victim.

According to the L.A. Times, a bike rider, identified only as a Latino man in his 20s or 30s, was killed while riding on the 900 block of East 43rd Street in South L.A. around 8:50 Friday morning. The victim was riding west on 43rd when he was hit from behind by a pickup; the driver fled the scene, leaving an innocent man to die in the street.

Police are looking for a red, late-model pickup, possibly with gardening tools in the back. Anyone with information is urged to call the LAPD Central Traffic Division Detective Meneses at (213) 972-1850 between 7 am and 5 pm weekdays; call the division watch commander after hours or on weekends at (213) 972-1853. Or visit LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

He joins a long line of local hit-and-run victims; in fact, 10 cyclists have been killed in L.A. County hit-and-runs in the last two years alone. Too many of the drivers have never been identified, let alone charged their crimes — including the killers of Erin Galligan and Benjamin Torres earlier this year.

And it’s not just bicyclists who are the victims.

This is the 72nd bicycling death in Southern California this year, and the 23rd in Los Angeles County, leaving the county one behind the total for last year.

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

Update: The identity of the victim has been confirmed as 31-year old Sergio Rodriguez; there will be a press conference on Thursday, February 7th to announce a person of interest in the case. 

Traffic deaths are down, unless you’re on two wheels. Or two feet. Or driving a big ass truck.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released their latest figures for traffic fatalities in 2011.

And the news is not good for bicyclists.

While the overall traffic fatalities showed a nearly 2% decline, bicycle deaths shot up 8.7%, to 677 throughout the U.S. So much for the safety in numbers theory, as the increase is attributed to the higher number of riders on the road.

The news isn’t much better for pedestrians, as bipedalist deaths rose 3% to over 4,400. Then again, either one is better than drivers of large trucks, who saw an amazing 20% increase in fatalities in a single year.

Yet even with increases in virtually every category other than car and light truck drivers and passengers, the total number of traffic fatalities dipped to just over 32,000, the lowest level since 1949.

The Times quotes me as saying in response that bicycle fatalities are a largely urban phenomenon. What I meant by that is that there are more cyclists, and more traffic collisions, in cities, which explains the relatively high number of deaths here in Southern California, while more rural areas may only suffer a handful of deaths each year.

Which is not to say their experience is any less tragic or heartbreaking.

Or unnecessary.

It’s also unclear if the NHTSA figures includes bicycling deaths from various causes, or is limited to fatalities due to collisions.

My counts of 70 SoCal cycling fatalities last year, and 71 so far this year, include deaths due to all causes except for shootings — including solo falls, collisions with trains, and deaths due to natural causes while riding, which may not be included in the NHTSA figures.

We’ll have to wait until statistics for individual states are released to see if their totals are anywhere close to the numbers I’ve counted, which showed a significant increase over the NHTSA’s figures for 2010.

Or if it will be closer to the 49 deaths registered in 2010, before I started tracking them on my own.

Meanwhile, a Sacramento writer says to take those numbers with a grain of salt.

………

Los Angeles’ newfound commitment to bicycling helps make us smarter than our neighbor to the south; sorry San Diego. Women on Bikes SoCal interviews new Bike Nation bike share head April Economides. Long Beach releases ten years of data on the causes of local bike crashes; cyclists are to blame for the top three, which makes me wonder who compiled the figures and how. More on the Long Beach cyclist being named the city’s person of the year. An Orange County man is under arrest for stealing a five year old’s bike; the victim drew his own wanted poster. Fontana cyclist fights off would-be robbers on his way to work. A Marin writer says when police crack down on cyclists, it makes the road a more dangerous place. Sonoma County votes to screw cyclists and pedestrians. A Vacaville woman is looking for the good Samaritan cyclist who helped save the life of her bike riding husband.

Even Goldfish crackers are riding bikes these days — with a helmet, no less. Sometimes, the real victory is just not quitting; I’ve learned many times over that it’s always too soon to quit, whether on a bike or in life. Portland reaches double digits when it comes to kids bicycling to school; kind of sad that such a low number is such a big achievement. My Colorado hometown celebrates a winter Bike to Work Day; if they can do that on a chilly December day, why can’t we do it here in sunny SoCal? A Rochester NY cyclist is hit by a police cruiser; needless to say, it took little time to find the rider at fault. Pedestrians call for bike-only traffic signals in New York’s Central Park to address red light-running bike riders. Making the public health case for bicycling.

A Toronto writer explains why we mourn fallen cyclists. Alex Moulton, developer of the iconic small-wheeled Moulton bicycle, passed away at 92. A British driver who fatally doored a cyclist may not have seen his victim, after recently having his windows tinted to allow only 17% transparency. If there’s a war on Britain’s roads, only a small minority of drivers and cyclists are taking part; personally, I’d call that one a must read. An Aussie writer says it’s time to declare war on cyclists, because we’re so much more dangerous than motor vehicles; nice to know irresponsible journalism isn’t just an American phenomenon. Meanwhile, a local bike organization offers a more rational response. And an Aussie planning institute says give up on bikeways and turn them into Segway and scooter lanes, because their lazy ass countrymen won’t ride them anyway.

Finally, the Alliance for Biking and Walking is looking for nominations for their 2013 bike and pedestrian advocacy awards, both individual advocates and organizations are eligible. When you fill out your nomination, it’s spelled B-i-k-i-n-g-i-n-L-A.

Okay, okay, I’m kidding.

Sort of.

Cyclist suffers shuttle van hit-and-run on PCH; more on the two cyclists killed in Newport Beach

Sometimes bad news is good.

Or at least, not as bad as it could have been. Because last weekend’s three cycling fatalities could have easily been four.

Cristin Zeisler was riding on PCH last Saturday morning when she was hit by large passenger van that kept going after knocking her off her bike.

We’ll let her tell the story.

The details of my accident are as follows: I was riding north on PCH on Saturday 9/15. Around 9am, as I approached the Porto Marina turnout, a large passenger van/shuttle hit me as it passed. I was thrown over the handlebars and landed primarily on my left shoulder (although my head, hip, and knee also took some of the impact). The van’s rear wheel missed running over my head by no more than 6 inches. I remained alert and vigilant throughout the impact and aftermath. I attempted to make note of the van’s license plate or other identifying marks, but it did not stop or slow at all so I was not able to get any details.

I’ve searched dozens of Google images to try to find a photo that matches what I saw. I haven’t found a perfect fit yet. The attached image comes is closest I’ve found so far — however, “my” van looked a little “older” and I believe it was only 5 windows long (not 6) and that the frames around the windows were white, not black.  Also, the back portion of “my” van had an advertising billboard type of thing below the window, on its lower half. I have no idea what it was an ad for, but the main colors I remember from it were blue and green.

A girl in the Marina Porto parking area saw me hit the ground and she came over to check on me and call 911 and she stayed until the police and EMS arrived. I did not get her name or number, but the officers on the scene seemed to talk with her at length while the EMS guys were checking me out. I assume the on-scene officers got her info.

I was transported to UCLA via ambulance. About 45 mins after I got to UCLA, another officer (Yoon) came to interview me and he issued a little tiny form (sort of like a receipt) to let me know that a felony hit and run report was filed. I have not yet followed up to get a copy of the “full” report yet.

Thankfully, despite suffering a broken clavicle — and a busted bike — Crisitin is relatively okay.

It could have been a lot worse.

She thinks she was hit when the van gave her far less than three feet passing distance, sideswiping her as the driver tried to slip by.

That’s something that would have been clearly illegal if our governor hadn’t vetoed last year’s three foot passing law. Let’s hope he has enough sense to sign this year’s version, before more cyclists are sent to the hospital, or worse, thanks to his pen.

And let’s find the driver who ran her down so he — and the company he or she works for — can be held accountable.

………

The Daily Pilot offers a nice look at nutritionist Sarah Leaf, who was killed by a right-turning truck while riding in Newport Beach on Friday. Photos on the Orange County Bicycle Coalition website show a young woman with a lovely smile; maybe if the driver had seen that smile — let alone her bike — he might not have run her over.

Meanwhile, the paper remembers Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz, also killed while riding her bike over the weekend, as a caring and well-respected physician.

“Dr. Kit Campion was a warm, engaging leader, respected and loved by her patients, physician colleagues, nurses and health-care professionals throughout Orange County,” said Diane Laird, CEO of Greater Newport Physicians, which has more than 550 members. “She worked tirelessly to ensure that members of all the communities we serve had access to the best health care.”

The Daily Pilot also confirms that she used her maiden name professionally; she was reportedly riding with her husband when she was killed just four miles from her home.

But can we please get them to stop calling it an accident?

It was a collision — not an accident — right up to the moment the coward behind the wheel stepped on the gas pedal to run away.

And then it became a crime. As if it wasn’t already when he drifted into the bike lane and ran down an innocent woman from behind without slowing down.

Meanwhile, Corona del Mar Today says the investigation continues into both collisions. Police are looking for the driver of the large black pickup that killed Campion Ritz, possibly a 2001 to 2004 Toyota Tacoma with significant front end damage.

Frank Peters provides photos of the collision scenes and ghost bikes for both victims on bikeNewportBeach. He also sends word that 150 people turned out for a special meeting of the Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee Monday night to share their heartbreak over the two deaths. And that Newport Beach Police Chief Johnson, who lost his own brother in a traffic collision, promised an imminent arrest in the hit-and-run.

Corona del Mar Today reports on the meeting.

Correction: Earlier I wrote that Chief Johnson lost his brother in a bicycling collision; it was actually a motor vehicle collision. Thanks to Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the correction.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

………

After all the bad news, maybe you could use a little smile. And frankly, I don’t know how it’s possible to watch this video without your lips turning up at least a little.

No, it’s not bike related. In fact, I don’t think there’s a bike in it.

Just a loving family, and one of the sweetest little girls you’ll ever meet, should you be so lucky. It’s a day in the life of a K/1st grade child with Down Syndrome.

And she’s the daughter of my good friends at Altadenablog.

%d bloggers like this: