Tag Archive for Pacoima

Update: Bike rider killed in Pacoima train collision; eighth SoCal train victim this year

Eighty-one. And eight.

That’s how many bike riders have lost their lives in what has turned out to be a horrible year for SoCal cyclists. And how many of those riders have died as a result of train collisions.

According to the LA Times, a male bike rider was hit and hilled by a Metrolink train in Pacoima this afternoon. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on Van Nuys Blvd when he attempted to cross the railroad tracks just north of San Fernando Road around 3:50 pm.

The paper reports he apparently tried to beat the train, despite the fact that the warning gates had already been lowered. He was struck by the 218 train on its way to Union Station in Downtown LA, and pronounced dead at the scene.

With this death, nearly 10% of the fatalities involving Southern California bike riders have been the result of train collisions — the easiest type of collision to avoid. All you have to do is stay off the tracks when there’s a train coming.

Unlike motor vehicles. trains are restricted to a specific pathway, and can’t vary their route in any way. And they have warning systems to let you know when they’re coming; all you have to do is squeeze on the brakes.

At least three of those eight deaths resulted from riders attempting to beat the train or ride around the warning gates. Which makes me wonder if they were truly attempting to beat the gates, or if at least some might have been fixie riders forced to ride through because they lacked the skill to stop in time.

Unfortunately, we may never know, since none of the reports identify the type of bike the victim was riding.

But it’s a question worth asking as we struggle to understand why so many riders have died in a type of collision that’s so easy to avoid.

This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 33rd in LA County. This is also the 14th rider to lose his life in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year, three time the average for the city.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the victim, identified only as a 30-year old Hispanic man, was riding west on Van Nuys at the time of the collision. 

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

Update 2: Over two weeks later, there’s still no ID on the victim. He is described as a Hispanic man over 21 years old, about 5’2” and 144 pounds, with brown eyes and a black Mohawk, and a red stud earring in one ear. Anyone with information is urged to call coroner’s investigator Daniel Machian at 323-343-0754 or the coroner investigations division at 323-343-0714.

Compare and contrast: taking the Times and other local media to task for unbalanced reporting

One was a 17-year old cyclist killed on the streets of Pacoima. The other was a 16-year old runner who died on the streets of Sherman Oaks.

Daniel Marin and Connor Lynch.

One attended a public school in Granada Hills; the other went to an exclusive private school. Daniel Marin died alone on the streets of a disadvantaged neighborhood; Connor Lynch died trying to catch up to teammates in one of the Valley’s most desirable communities.

Both deaths devastated family and friends, and brought tears to classmates.

Yet one received a massive outpouring of news coverage in the local media and around the state and nation, while the other barely made a ripple in the local press and was soon forgotten — without once mentioning the victim’s name.

It’s not that the death of runner Connor Lynch was any less tragic than Daniel Marin’s, or that it shouldn’t have been reported the way it was. Any death on our streets is a loss to the entire community; every story deserves to be told, and every victim remembered.

It’s just that Danny Marin deserved to be remembered too.

Maybe it’s because Danny died on a weekend, when the severe cutbacks in the local press mean there’s often no one around to report the story, while Connor’s killing occurred just in time for the evening news.

Or maybe it’s because some people questioned why a 17-year old would be on the streets at that late night hour. Yet it only took a little investigation by the only reporter who took the time to talk to Danny’s family and friends to uncover a perfectly benign and banal reason why he was coming home so late.

It might be because Danny’s death occurred in a largely forgotten section of the city, while Connor was killed on a busy street in an upscale community; I really don’t want to believe that the difference in coverage is due to the ethnic background of the victims or their respective communities.

Maybe it’s because Connor was participating in school activity as part of an athletic team, while Danny was just a guy trying to get home.

I don’t think it was simply because Danny was on a bike, or because traffic deaths have become so commonplace in our society; countless other pedestrians have died, even in hit-and-runs, without attracting the outpouring of news and grief that Connor Lynch received.

Frankly, I can’t explain it, any more than I can explain why the driver who ran Connor down was immediately arrested when she turned herself in to officers a few blocks away. Yet authorities initially failed to take any action against the woman who ran down Ed Magos, even though she didn’t turn herself in at a police station until hours later.

Yes, Connor was killed, while Magos was “merely” injured. But in both cases, the drivers took the same actions to turn themselves in — and much more promptly in the more recent case.

Maybe the police learned something from the Magos case, after all.

And maybe the press will take a hard look at themselves, and accept that the life of a teenage cyclist in Pacoima is worth every bit as much as that of a runner from an exclusive private school.

Or maybe the Times, the Daily News — which purports to report on the Valley — and the city’s other media outlets will finally publish Daniel Marin’s name, nearly three weeks after they reported his death. Let alone actually tell his story.

I’m not suggesting that one column inch or a single minute of airtime should be taken away from Connor Lynch. But maybe the press could find a little time and space for some of the other victims of our streets.

And by the way, Friday’s memorial ride for Daniel Marin was a success.

Even if it got exactly one mention in the press.

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Speaking of reporting, was it a case of sloppy writing or a police officer suffering from an unbelievable ignorance of the law? In a story about Segways in La Jolla, the head of the San Diego PD Northern Division says it’s against the law to “ride a skateboard or a bicycle on business district streets.” Maybe he meant riding on the sidewalk, since California law allows bikes on any surface street or highway, with the exception of some freeways and expressways.

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Condolences to our friends at the LAPd, as another officer is killed while deployed with the Marines in Afghanistan. Officer Joshua Cullins had just two days left in the field when he was killed by an IED; he had just recently recovered from injuries received while attempting to disarm another explosive device in July.

And my sympathy and condolences to Chief Charlie Beck on the death of his mother.

If you’ve noticed a change in the way L.A. cyclists are treated on the streets, don’t forget that it all started with the appointment of Chief Beck last year.

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Maybe they need a bike safety course at City Hall, as new Planning Director Michael LoGrande becomes the latest city official to be injured on a bike. Another Santa Monica City council candidate responds to Gary’s survey on biking and transportation issues. KCRW’s Kajon Cermak looks back on CicLAvia. How to stay dry on your commute during L.A.’s early winter, following our virtually nonexistent summer. The world is rediscovering the odd-looking Pedersen bike; at least one L.A. bike shop actually sells them. A Modesto musician becomes the latest cyclist to die from the hit-and-run plague. San Jose’s Bike Party gets thousands of people on their bikes to celebrate cycling without the conflict of Critical Mass. A look at Oakland’s Scrapertown scene. A Walnut Creek cyclist suffers major head injuries after falling from his bike; that’s exactly the sort of accident helmets were designed for.

A Utah teenager drives with her windows decorated for 17th birthday, and crosses onto the other side of the road to kill a cyclist. An Iowa father deliberately runs down his son’s bike because the teenager hadn’t been home in two days. Two Wisconsin hockey players face murder charges after knocking a cyclist off his bike, while another faces obstruction charges and eight teammates have been suspended for one year. Hundreds rally is support of New York’s new Prospect Park West bike lane; the downside is that yes, you do have to look both ways when you cross the street, a skill most non-New Yorkers master by age 7. The off-duty NYPD officer accused of threatening a cyclist with a gun says it was just his badge instead; easy mistake, since guns and badges look so much alike. A Tampa Bay homeowner is up in arms about the “20-plus” cyclists who invade her quiet equine community each weekend.  Now can we look forward to mandatory cyclist airbag laws? Yet another cyclist/driver complains about how those darn bike riders could ruin his life by forcing him to kill them.

A Montreal man gets 8 years for killing a cyclist during a police chase. Removing traffic signals to improve road safety. The UK’s bike-to-work plan may survive the country’s budget cuts after all. A London rider says he loves bicycling, but he’s not prepared to advertise a bank for the privilege of doing it. Viscously beat a cyclist unconscious, and get community service. Speaking of community service, that’s what a van driver got for killing a rider after a 13-hour, all-night shift. A new autobiography from the other Isle of Man cyclist. Biking through the Italian countryside.

Finally, in the Netherlands, bike theft isn’t just a crime, it’s an avocation.

Breaking News: Teenage cyclist killed by drunk driver

According to the L.A. Times, a 17-year old cyclist was killed by an alleged drunk driver while riding on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima about 2 am today. Twenty-six year old Shawn Fields was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol.

More later as information becomes available.

Update: The Daily News reports that the driver fled the scene after striking the rider at the intersection of Laurel Canyon Blvd and Chamberlain Street at 2:11 am. Witnesses gave police the license number of the suspect’s car; he was arrested after it was found parked at his home in Mission Hills.

The victim’s name has been withheld pending notification of relatives.

Another bike shooting in Pacoima, a local cyclist DJs for clean drinking water

In a repeat of a recent incident, an 18-year old cyclist was shot and killed in Pacoima in an apparent gang-related attack. According to LAist, Sebastian Caldera was riding near Pierce Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard around 7 pm Friday when he was shot several times and pronounced dead on the scene. Anyone with information is urged to contact LAPD homicide detectives at 818/834-3115.

KABC Channel 7 reports another shooting at virtually the same location just two hours earlier in which the shooter fled the scene by bike.

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One of my favorite local bike bloggers, James Haygood, author of Bike Date Santa Monica, will be a guest DJ at TapRadio.org this Sunday.

In this country, we take clean water for granted. But too many people around the world lack access to safe drinking water — in fact, waterborne illness is the second leading cause of death for children under five. The UNICEF fundraiser will help provide clean drinking water for 900 million people in over 100 countries; half of those are children.

As James points, out, just $5 will get a kid clean water for 200 days.

He’ll be spinning online at 11 am, 5 pm, 11 pm and again at 5 am Monday. Other Sunday DJs include John Taylor of Duran Duran, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and actor Kevin Durand of Lost and Robin Hood. Among the others contributing their time and skills throughout the two-week project are Tom Arnold, Lucy Liu, Elijah Wood, the Village People and Joey Santiago of the Pixies.

Tap Radio is scheduled to continue through April 5th; he will be online again on Sunday, April 4th. You can contribute via the Tap Radio website, or by texting “TAP” to UNICEF 864233 to make a $5 donation.

And be sure to check out Bike Date; while he’s been inactive lately, the archives are definitely worth scrolling through.

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In honor of Dodger owner Frank McCourt’s planned bike race, Damien invites you to plan it for him; the first Streetsblog fundraiser is less than two weeks away. Courtney Cox rides a bike, at least when she’s filming; Miley Cyrus and boyfriend ride through Toluca Lake. San Francisco’s new police chief keeps his promise to ride a bike. The San Diego Custom Bicycle Show kicks off on April 9th. Just weeks after Albuquerque unveiled a new bike safety campaign, a ghost bike appears for a cyclist killed by a driver who didn’t see him riding on the bike path. A Memphis rider asks, if traffic flows at the speed of a bike, why not just ride one? The driver who hit and killed a Northern Irish cyclist while rushing to catch a flight is sentenced to five years; in proof that some people just don’t learn, he was also ticked for speeding twice after killing David McCall. Former TdF winner Stephen Roche says it’s no contest between Lance and Contador, with his vote going to the latter. The hit-and-run epidemic spreads to South Africa, where police say there’s safety in numbers. Finally, the fixie has officially jumped the shark — Walmart unveils its $150 Fixed-Speed Bike.

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