Maybe I was wrong.
Multiple press reports quoted L.A. County Sheriff’s Sgt. Phillip Brooks as saying the victim, identified by friends as 36-year old architect and triathlete Marisela Echeveria of Cypress Park, lost control of her bike when she was passed by one or more trucks.
As a result, she reportedly clipped a parked car with her handlebars, which caused her to veer left into the side of the bus, falling under its rear wheels.
But remarkably, only one report — from the not always bike-friendly L.A. Weekly — noted that the above scenario was based on the observations of the bus driver, and subject to change as the investigation developed.
Now word is that video evidence has been found showing the collision was not the result of a close pass after all.
The video reportedly shows Echevaria moving left to go around a group of cars parked on the shoulder. As she does, her wheel apparently got caught in a seam in the asphalt between the shoulder and the right traffic lane, causing her to lose balance and fall under the bus to her left.
And to answer an earlier question, the bus driver had reportedly moved partially into the next traffic lane to give her an estimated five feet of passing distance. Tragically, it turned out that wasn’t enough.
It’s unclear where the video came from.
It could have been from the bus itself, though that would not have shown the actual collision as the bus passed by. Or it could have come from a bike cam from a following cyclist, as there’s no shortage of riders on PCH. Then again, there’s also no shortage of security camera on PCH; I’m told by someone with knowledge of the area that the collision occurred almost directly in front of Cher’s home.
If there’s any good news in a situation like this, it’s that the collision would unfolded very quickly, and she may not have had time to realize what was happening. And from the description I’ve seen, it’s unlikely that she felt any pain; her death would have been almost instantaneous under the circumstances.
The investigation is still ongoing.
But it looks like Echevaria’s death was not due to rider error, a careless bus driver or getting Jerry Browned by a passing truck.
In this case, she may have literally been the victim of a killer highway.
The LACBC has issued a response to Saturday’s collision:
LOS ANGELES COUNTY BICYCLE COALITION CALLS FOR SAFETY ON PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY
LOS ANGELES, Calif. –
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is deeply saddened by the fatal collision between a bicyclist and a Metro bus on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu on Saturday. Preliminary reports indicate that triathlete Marisela Echeveria of Cypress Park was maneuvering around parked cars on the shoulder of the highway when her wheel was caught in a pavement seam and she was thrown toward the passing bus. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and teammates.
Pacific Coast Highway is a notoriously dangerous street for all travelers, and particularly challenging for people on bicycles. Outdated road design, inconsistent shoulders, and high motor vehicle speeds are a perilous combination for people walking or riding along the highway. PCH is Malibu’s main street, yet it was built to rural highway standards that provide first and foremost for the fast movement of vehicles over local access to residences, businesses, and beaches. Bicyclists face increased risks when navigating such a complex traffic environment.
Since the 2005 deaths of Scott Bleifer and Stanislav Ionov, LACBC has worked with stakeholders to improve conditions for bicyclists on the highway. Education, enforcement, and engineering strategies must be used in concert to reduce collision rates. In recent years, the City of Malibu has given considerable attention to these issues and is currently analyzing potential improvements through a $375,000 study funded by Caltrans, the Southern California Associations of Governments, and the City. The City is also currently in design for a bike lane project running two miles from Busch Drive to Trancas Canyon Road. LACBC is encouraged by these preliminary steps.
The California coast is a shared treasure, with access guaranteed by the California Coastal Act and our State’s Constitution. LACBC calls on all jurisdictions to cooperate in providing a safe, continuous bikeway along the Pacific Coast Highway so that all people can enjoy its scenic beauty. We must work together to improve safety in the short term while moving toward a more balanced PCH that better serves residents and visitors in the future.
One other quick note, as a Scottsdale neurologist with ties to UCLA was killed while riding in Arizona over the weekend.
KPHO-TV reports that 38-year old Dr. Marwan Maalouf was killed in a hit-and-run shortly after noon Sunday while riding in Fountain Hills AZ; a suspect was arrested nearby.
My deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.