Tag Archive for Pasadena

Morning Links: Phillip O’Neill memorial ride and walk, cyclist’s rights on PCH, and a new bike video from LACBC

4314394Hard to believe it was a year ago that Phillip O’Neill lost his life riding on a Pasadena street.

O’Neill was on a bike date when he was struck from behind with enough force to throw him into a parked car on the other side of the street.

Fortunately, his companion was unscathed, although I’m told witnessing the collision took a tremendous emotional toll. As did the loss of someone she, and many others, cared about.

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition is holding a memorial ride and walk this Sunday to remember Phillip as someone who should still be with us, and who is sadly missed. And to help ensure he will be the last bike rider or pedestrian to be killed in the city.

Let’s hope they succeed.

Phillip O’Neill Commemorative Ride/Walk this Sunday at 7:30 PM

This Sunday, June 15, we’ll be walking and riding to commemorate the one year anniversary of the death of Phillip O’Neill. Phillip was riding his bicycle on Del Mar on June 15, 2013 when he was struck from behind and killed by a motorist. Phillip was an amazing person who had already accomplished a tremendous amount at a young age. We mourn his loss.

We also gather to pledge to work together make our streets safer for people like Phillip and all the pedestrians and bicyclists in Pasadena. We want Pasadena to be a place where this never happens again.

DATE: 
Sunday, June 15, 2014
SCHEDULE: 
7:30 p.m.  Riders gather at City Hall, walkers gather at Grant Park.
7:45 p.m.  Riders and walkers depart from their respective locations.
8:00 p.m.  Riders and walkers gather at Grant Park for commemoration.
RIDE INFORMATION:
Ride gathers at Pasadena City Hall, Garfield steps (100 N. Garfield Ave., 91101). Rides to Grant Park via Del Mar (past ghost bike on Del Mar and Wilson). Please bring your bike with lights and in good working condition.
Pasadena City Hall: 100 N. Garfield Ave., 91101
WALK INFORMATION:
Walk gathers at Grant Park. Walks west on Blanche Street, south on Wilson, east on Del Mar, and north on Michigan to return to Grant Park.
Grant Park: 232 S. Michigan Ave., 91106
TO RSVP and LEARN MORE:
https://www.facebook.com/events/664199610324547/

#PhillipO’NeillGhostRide

Thanks to Candace Seu and the Caltech Bike Lab for the heads-up.

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Usually I try not to link to anything this old.

But everyone who rides PCH through Malibu should carry a copy of this 2009 — or maybe 2010 — letter from former CalTrans District 7 Director Michael Miles, which specifies that cyclists are allowed to ride in the right traffic lane. And that there is no restriction on the number of cyclists who can ride side-by-side in an non-sharable lane.

Then again, maybe every rider everywhere should carry a copy, since too many motorists and law enforcement officers still don’t seem to get it.

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Vote for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s entry in the DoGooder LA video competition.

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The Race Across America — aka RAAM — kicked off today as solo competitors departed from the Oceanside pier; teams leave on Saturday. A UK rider hopes to be the first British woman to finish the race, while Pippa Middleton — yes, that Pippa Middleton — will take part in the team competition.

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Local

KCBS-2 reports on the cyclist-buzzing Metro bus driver we wrote about yesterday.

LA is slowly pedaling to a more bike friendly future.

Metro, CICLE and Bike Odyssey LA host a Pedal Powered Street Theater Ride on June 21st.

Streetsblog invites you to join in a family-friendly fundraising walk and party to honor Streetsie Award winners Jessica Meaney and Alissa Walker.

Great looking plans for resurrecting the Pacoima Wash, including a bike path.

Team Bike Santa Monica invites you to join the National Bike Challenge.

The Downey Kids Bike Festival is scheduled for the end of this month.

 

State

As it turns out, Newport Beach is facing more than one lawsuit from the families of fallen cyclists.

A San Francisco cyclist and musician is getting close to a $3.75 million settlement after he was run down by a city street sweeper two years ago.

Oakland is remaking famed Telegraph Avenue to be more bike friendly, which should benefit local businesses.

Huh? An Oroville judge rules a hit-and-run driver didn’t cause great bodily injury when he killed a bike rider.

 

National

How HR Departments can encourage bicycling by employees.

USA Today looks at 15 fantastic bike trails across the US.

Pro rider Taylor Phinney is on the road to recovery, and refusing to be bitter about the injury that ended his season.

Cyclists participating in Colorado’s Ride the Rockies get caught in a blizzard, and have to be bused to a warmer location.

Good for her. A university website profiles a transgender TCU student and BMX rider.

A GoFundMe campaign for New England cyclist and Internet jokester Ryan Kelly, whose daughter was born last week with major heart problems.

An Atlanta SUV driver fled the scene after making a U-turn to deliberately run down a bike rider following an argument, dragging the victim 50 feet under his car.

 

International

Now that’s more like it. The UK gets serious about speeding by increasing the maximum fine to £10,000 — the equivalent of $16,745. That should make a dent in someone’s wallet.

Yorkshire cyclists create a bike-themed lingerie calendar to raise money for an air ambulance.

UK police search for yet another road raging cyclist who tried to throttle a motorist. Not that we all haven’t been tempted, but still.

A new report shows separated bike lanes in Sydney carry as many people as the cars in the lanes next to them.

 

Finally…

How to avoid seven beginner cyclists faux pas; I still get that chainring tattoo almost every ride. And Torrance paramedics discover a three-foot python in the backpack of a bike rider after he’s hit by a car; the victim should be okay after suffering a broken collarbone and ribs.

 

Former Pasadena councilman Sid Tyler dies after bicycling fall

Sad news this morning, as word broke yesterday that a longtime Pasadena city council member died after falling from his bike on Thursday.

Sid Tyler, who served on the council from 1997 to 2009, was disconnected from life support on Friday after family members arrived from around the country to be at his side. According to the Pasadena Star-News, he was in his early 80s.

Unfortunately, few details are available, and there are conflicting reports about just what happened.

The Star-News reports he was riding on California Blvd when he signaled for a left turn, lost his balance and fell into the street. He reportedly suffered a severe neck injury as a result.

The paper notes witnesses said he was wearing a helmet; unfortunately, a helmet offers no protection against a neck injury, and may exacerbate it under certain circumstances.

However, the Pasadena Now website suggests he may have suffered a heart attack and fallen into the path of an oncoming car. They place the site of the fall as California Blvd near Morengo Ave.

Tyler was a former Marine, and long-time employee of Tenet Healthcare, retiring in 1994 as executive vice president. He leaves behind his wife of 60 years, as well as four grown children.

According to Pasadena Now, flags were lowered to half staff at Pasadena City Hall in his honor.

This is the 27th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Los Angeles County. He is also the third Pasadena bike rider to lose his life in the last nine months.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Sid Tyler and all his family. 

Update: Another drunken OC driver, another fatal hit-and-run; arraignment Friday in death of Pasadena cyclist

It’s happened again.

An Orange County man gets behind the wheel after drinking, and flees the scene after running down a bicyclist riding in a Huntington Beach bike lane.

According to KTLA-5, the victim was riding south in the bike lane near Edwards Street and Ellis Avenue just before 11 pm last night when he was hit from behind by a 2012 Toyota Camry.

The rider, identified only as a 37-year old Huntington Beach resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver fled the scene — leaving behind one of his front tires — and was found by police about a mile away, with damage consistent with a collision. And presumably, only three tires.

Police arrested 29-year-old Antonio Magdaleno Jr. of Oxnard suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run leading to death.

Anyone with information is urged to call Huntington Beach Accident Investigator Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Accident Investigator Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.

This is the 14th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Orange County; in both cases, the victim was hit from behind by an alleged drunk driver while riding in a bike lane.

It’s also the 6th cycling death in Huntington Beach since 2011 — half of which were hit-and-runs, and involved drivers under the influence.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Matthew Liechty and his family.

Thanks to Ed Ryder for the heads-up.

Update: The Orange County Register has identified the victim as 37-year old Matthew Liechty of Huntington Beach. And yes, the photo with the story clearly shows the driver fled the scene on only three wheels.

Meanwhile, a source tells me HBPD Investigator Huynh averages over 100 DUI arrests each year, and had 445 in 2008.

Evidently, there are a lot of drunks on the road in Huntington Beach. We all owe a round of thanks to Investigator Huynh for taking some of the off.

Thanks to the OC Register for making this story public.

Update 2: The Witch on a Bicycle points out that the speed limit on that Edwards Street is 45 mph; given that most California drivers exceed the post limit by at least 10 mph, any collision with a cyclist or pedestrian is almost guaranteed to be lethal.

The Register has updated their story to report that Liechty was a former employee of the Orange County Probation Department, and briefly worked in a non-sworn position with the OC Sheriff’s Department before leaving last year.

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On an all too similar note, I’ve received word that the driver who killed Pasadena cyclist Phillip O’Neill last June is — finally — being arraigned tomorrow.

O’Neill was riding with a companion near Caltech when he was hit from behind as he rode in the lane on Del Mar Blvd; he was struck with enough force to throw him across the road and into a parked car before striking the curb.

The woman he was riding with still struggles with the devastating effects of watching her friend fly through the air to his death. I’m respecting her privacy by withholding her name; however, here is her email urging bike riders to attend the arraignment.

Dear Friends and Family,

As some of you may know, the arraignment for the Pasadena motorist who struck and killed Phillip O’Neill on Del Mar Blvd. on June 15, 2013 is this coming Friday.

Phillip’s family and I would very much appreciate a show of support at the arraignment. We all feel that it’s important to send a message to the city that taking the life of a vulnerable road user is a very serious offense and should be treated as such. I have included details of the arraignment below.

Date: February 21, 2014

Time: Arrival 8:30am. Note that this case is one of six which will be heard this morning. We do not know the order in which the cases will be heard, however the prosecutor believes the case will be heard before noon.

Place: Pasadena Superior Court, 300 E. Walnut, Pasadena 91101

In the event that the case goes to trial there may be additional opportunities to show your support. I will share those if it does. To find out more about how Pasadena CBO’s and residents have come together in response to Phillip’s death, and others like it, go to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition website at http://www.pas-csc.org/.

In a follow-up email, she describes the man whose life was ended by a careless driver that day.

Phillip was an amazing person – young but incredibly accomplished, with a master’s degree in renewable energies, he was a master gardener at one of the best botanical gardens in the nation, amateur chef; these are just a few in an impressive list.

I know it’s a lot to ask to sacrifice your morning, especially on such short notice. But if you’re in the Pasadena area on Friday, they could really use your support.

And it couldn’t hurt to send a message to the court that we’re watching this case.

Meanwhile, it serves as a reminder that Pasadena still has a long way to go to make the roads safe for everyone.

Bike rider shot and killed in South LA; unidentified Pasadena cyclist suffers critical injuries; SD road rage charges

Evidently, 2014 is getting off to a challenging start.

Following a year in which Los Angeles had the lowest number of homicides in nearly 50 years, the city suffered its first homicide of the new year early Sunday morning.

And it was a bike rider who got killed.

According to the LA Times, 46-year old Don Johnson was riding his bike southward on the 10000 block of South Main Street in South LA around 12:20 am when an unknown assailant walked up and shot him multiple times; KABC-7 says a witness heard six shots.

Johnson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

KTLA-5 reports he was shot as he rode in front of a church, most likely the Holy Pathway Missionary Church; he was apparently riding in the bike lane visible on the street leading up to the church.

A report on KNBC-4 — which does not appear to be available online — suggested that authorities suspect it was a gang-related shooting, though there was no indication Johnson was a gang member.

He may have just been the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

And paid for it with his life.

Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at 213/465-4341 or 877/527-3247, or submit anonymous tips at 800/222-8477.

My prayers for Don Johnson and his loved ones.

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A bike rider is in critical condition in a Pasadena hospital, the apparent result of a solo crash. And sadly, authorities have no idea who he is.

The Pasadena Star-News reports the victim, identified only as a white male in his 20’s, was found lying in the roadway on Glenullen Drive at Malcom Drive just before 3 pm Saturday. Police initially suspected hit-and-run, but concluded the victim probably lost control riding downhill and crashed into a tree.

He was not carrying identification, and was unable to speak due to major head injuries.

And no, he was not wearing a helmet. However, there is no way of telling if one would have made a difference in this case, though it probably wouldn’t have hurt.

This should also be a reminder to everyone to carry — or wear — ID every time you ride.

Best wishes for the victim for a full and fast recovery.

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An unidentified San Diego cyclist may see justice after all.

According to San Diego’s NBC-7, 50-year old Douglas Lane faces a felony count of reckless driving with injury for his part in an October road rage incident that left a bike rider seriously injured as collateral damage.

The ironically named Lane was reportedly jockeying for lane position with another driver on State Route 67 just north of Poway Road where two northbound lanes merged into one. Lane lost control of his truck when the vehicles sideswiped one another, and swerved into the bike lane where he hit a 38-year old woman participating in the Pedal the Cause bike ride.

Neither the victim, who was hospitalized with major non-life-threatening injuries, nor the other driver has been publicly identified.

Both vehicles continued without stopping; earlier reports indicated Lane had no idea he’d hit anyone.

He was arrested Saturday, though the warrant was issued in mid-November, and booked on $50,000 bond.

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Thankfully, not all the news is bad.

In fact, when it comes to the economic benefits of bicycling, it looks pretty damn good.

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Don’t forget to voice your opinion — either online or in person this Wednesday — on the necessity of putting bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills when the iconic boulevard undergoes reconstruction in 2015.

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Nice profile of Long Beach bike advocate Melissa Balmer and the new statewide Pedal Love Project, described in the story as a love letter to California bike culture.

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The San Diego Bicycle Coalition moved to new offices on Friday. By bike, of course.

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Hats off to Burbank, which hasn’t had a bicycling fatality in the last two years, and just one pedestrian death last year, down from two in 2011.

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Finally, royal in-law Pippa Middleton clips in for the first time, and likes it. Meanwhile, another rider admits to turning into a royal jerk whenever she slips onto the saddle.

And we wonder why some people hate us.

Pasadena bike rider killed in collision with salmon cyclist; 22nd cycling death in LA County this year

Now we have confirmation.

Last night I mentioned that rumors were circulating that a bike rider had died in Pasadena. This morning, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune confirms that a rider critically injured in a collision with a salmon cyclist has passed away.

The rider, publicly identified only as a 20-year old Pasadena man, was headed west on Mountain Street at Garfield Avenue around 6 pm Saturday when he was hit head-on by a 17-year old cyclist riding against traffic. According to the paper, the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a severe head injury when he hit his head on the pavement.

He was taken to Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital, where he died Sunday evening.

The other rider was uninjured.

It’s hard to imagine how this collision could have occurred on what appears to be a relatively quiet street. It’s possible that the riders may have been boxed in by passing cars, or both may have swerved in the same direction in a last-second attempt to avoid the collision. It’s also possible that the younger rider may have just rounded the corner from Garfield, not leaving enough time for either to react.

Or one or both riders may have just not been paying attention.

In this case, whether or not the victim was wearing a helmet matters, as this seems to have been exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed collision helmets are that designed to protect against.

However, as Caltech Bike Lab points out, one of the many problems with riding salmon is that it dramatically increases the force of any impact.

It’s simple physics that when two objects traveling in opposite directions collide, their speeds combine to create the force of impact. For instance, if these two riders were both traveling at 10 miles per hour, they would have struck with the same force as hitting a stationary object at 20 mph.

And if they were both riding at 20 mph, they would have hit with a combined force of 40 mph — a speed almost assured to result in serious injury. The fact that only one rider was injured suggests that they may have struck a glancing blow, rather than a full head-on crash.

Riding salmon also reduces reaction times, making a collision that much more likely.

Finally, there is the legal aspect. By riding against traffic, the younger rider was in clear violation of CVC 21650, which requires all vehicles to travel on the right side of the roadway, as well as CVC 21202, which requires bicyclists to ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb.

By riding on the wrong side of the road, the 17-year old cyclist could face serious criminal charges, including a possible homicide charge, for causing the death of the other rider.

As well as a lifetime of living with the fact that his carelessness killed another person.

This is 48th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County, which compares with 24 and 23 for all of the last two years, respectively.

And it’s the second cycling death in Pasadena in less than 30 days, following the death of Phillip O’Neill near Caltech last month, which highlights the need for a comprehensive bike plan in the city.

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

Thanks to Pasadena’s Day One for the heads-up.

Update: The victim has been identified as 20-year old Ulises Tamayo of Pasadena.

Update: 25-year old bike rider killed near Caltech in Pasadena

More bad news.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, a bike rider described only as a man in his 30′s was hit and killed while riding near Caltech in Pasadena this evening.

The paper reports the collision took place at Del Mar Blvd and Wilson Avenue just north of the campus about 5:30 pm; the L.A. Times places the location mid-block between Wilson and Michigan Ave, with the time of the collision around 6 pm.

The victim was taken to Huntington Hospital where he died from his injuries. The driver of the compact car remained at the scene and was reportedly cooperating with police.

No other details are available at this time; no word on which way the rider was headed or how the collision occurred.

This is the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year; remarkably, 17 of those deaths have been in Los Angeles County. This is also the third bike death in Pasadena since 2011.

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

Update: The Star-News reports that the victim, who still has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was a 25-year old resident of Los Angeles. 

According to the paper, he was riding west on Del Mar with a female companion when he was struck from behind, with the force of the impact throwing him into a parked car.

The woman he was riding with was not struck by the car.

Update 2: The Caltech Bike Lab is sponsoring a petition calling for better east-west bike routes in Pasadena, including sharrows on Del Mar; whether it would have helped in this case may never be known. 

Update 3: In a comment below, a blogger links to her thoughts about witnessing the collision. According to her, the victim was thrown across the road to collide with the parked car before landing crumpled on the sidewalk, suggesting an impact of significant force. 

Update 4: The victim has been identified as 25-year old Los Angeles resident Phillip O’Neill

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When I learn about a case like this, in which the victim has not been publicly identified, I pray it’s not someone I know. And feel guilty, because even if I don’t know who it is, someone else will.

Because it’s never just a stranger on a bike.

It’s always someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, sister, brother, cousin, nephew, co-worker or friend. It’s someone someone loves, or likes or maybe even can’t stand, if only just a little.

It’s never just a statistic, regardless of those stats I keep.

It is a real person who was here, and now, suddenly and without warning, isn’t. A meteoric flash of life snuffed out in a relative instant, leaving a gaping hole in the lives of those left behind.

It’s always heartbreaking. It’s always tragic. It’s always a loss beyond our comprehension, if only because we can never know what might have been.

And it is always — always — unnecessary.

Pasadena driver gets gentle caress on wrist for killing popular local cyclist and musician Alan Deane

Once again, a killer driver gets off with a virtual pat on the back for decreasing the excess cyclist population.

What else can you call it when the driver pleads to reckless driving, bargained down from an original charge of vehicular manslaughter? And gets off with an obscenely lenient 10 days of community labor, 400 hours of community service and a whopping $4000 in restitution and other fines.

That’s what the life of a human being is worth these days. If he’s on a bike, anyway.

Ten days. Four hundred hours. And at least $4000.

Who knows, maybe they’ll go hard on him and make it $4050.

That’s what Siddhartha Misra got from a Pasadena judge on Tuesday in his trial for the death of cyclist and musician Alan Deane.

And this for a fatal collision that was caught on video, and reportedly showed the driver failing to yield before fatally slamming into Deane on his bike.

And he apparently gets to keep his driver’s license.

So much for keeping dangerous drivers off the road. Let alone sending any kind of message that would encourage careless motorists to slow down and pay a little more attention for fear of the consequences if they didn’t.

If this is what passes for justice around here, I’ll pass.

Maybe our new DA will decide that bike riders have a right to get home alive.

Misra made a statement to the court apologizing for his actions and saying it’s a heavy burden he’ll have to live with until the day he dies.

I have no doubt that he’s sincere in his remorse. Lord knows I couldn’t live with myself under the same circumstances.

But I can assure you Deane’s family feels a hell of a lot worse.

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A 63-year old Long Beach cyclist suffers a broken hip and rib when the victim of a hit-and-run; her son reports she was trapped under the car, and the driver actually backed off her to get away.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Long Beach Police Department Accident Investigation Detail at (562) 570-7355.

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Big news in pro cycling — and good news, for a change — as USA Cycling finally puts women’s cycling on the same footing as men, with equal prize money and championships on the same weekend.

Now maybe the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will figure out a way to get a women’s peloton on the course.

Chances are, they’ll get just as exciting racing — if not more.

And maybe even fewer former (?) dopers.

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An Op-Ed in the L.A. Times says NBC Universal’s agreement to extend the L.A. River through their property is a good start — but until the other studios in the area fall in line, it’s just a start. Santa Monica considers $326,000 in improvements to the beachfront bike path through the city. Will Campbell plays Let’s Make a Deal as he just avoids the door prize, twice.

Fullerton joins with Bike Nation to develop a bike share program, as the latter seems to be developing the critical mass (lower case) for a pan-SoCal system; thanks to Lois for the heads-up. San Clemente considers a road diet — including bike lanes — on El Camino Real. Pomona replaces parking near Cal Poly with bike lanes. A Bay Area news site offers tips to ride safely following the tragic cycling death of a 12-year old girl. A San Francisco schmuck motorist hits a cyclist and drives off with his bike stuck under his car. Sonoma County Supervisors consider an L.A.-style cyclist anti-harassment ordinance; this would be the first to be adopted on a countywide basis. No really, if you’re carrying meth and a pipe after dark, put some damn lights on your bike.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking is accepting nominations for bike and pedestrian advocates and organizations. CNN discovers tweed rides and Cycle Chic — as well as our own Melissa Balmer of Women on Bikes SoCal. Honda says it’s okay to take a little nap behind the wheel. New bike-themed apartment complex opens in Denver, featuring bike storage, a repair room and even free bikes for tenants; so when can we move? Been awhile since we’ve checked in with Dottie at Let’s Go Ride a Bike; she offers a typically beautiful — for her — look at fall riding. A Pittsburgh cyclist says the driver who hit him did it deliberately. A Concord writer says he’ll take bike racks over bike lanes. Boston police warn cyclists about dangerous streets just hours before a cyclist is killed. Boston’s BikeyFace illustrates a downloadable bike safety poster. How New York can fight salmon cyclists, or not. Would you wear your medical information coded on your helmet?

Ontario townsfolk pitch in to replace a boy’s stolen bike. A Toronto physician is arrested protesting the removal of a bike lane. The London Standard says you don’t have to be Bradley Wiggins to deserve a safe ride home. Brit runners following a bike in a race end up following the wrong one. Maybe bike-friendly Bristol isn’t so bike-friendly anymore. Town Mouse’s mum would vroom away from red lights if only her town had any. After losing his license and property, an Aussie cyclist says the only thing bike helmets are proven to protect riders from is fines; my thick skull would beg to differ.

Finally, a Tennessee letter writer evidently assumes all cyclists ride as a hobby — and that local parks just magically appeared. And apparently, a British ad agency is going out of their way to develop the most offensive bike safety campaign yet; it may have been a misguided attempt at viral marketing, but at least they apologized.

Maybe instead of all this apologizing, we could try avoiding things that have to apologized for. Just a thought.

A ride to honor a friend, a fatal hit-and-run and a loyal dog; Pasadena Ride of Silence next Wednesday

Forgive my lack of updates.

I’m still trying to catch up on work, which has kept me tied up this week. But I don’t want to let the day pass without a couple quick notes.

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First, I’ve been following this case all week, which just gets more heartbreaking with every new turn.

The story started with a cryptic report last Saturday that an unidentified cyclist had been killed in a hit-and-run on PCH north of Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz late Thursday night or early Friday morning. The story mentioned in passing that the man’s dog was unharmed despite riding in a crate on the bike at the time of the crash.

By the next day, the story had spread around the world of the loyal Cairn Terrier mix who had stayed by his master’s body for as long as 12 hours after he was killed. The dog was taken to a shelter for evaluation while police searched for his master’s killer.

Before long the victim was identified as a 39-year old homeless man, Joshua Laven of Massachusetts. Except he wasn’t homeless; he was riding across country from Florida to San Francisco in honor of a lifelong friend who had died while visiting Cambodia. In fact, he had been riding the friend’s bike until just days before he was killed, his dog his only companion on the trip.

According to some reports, it was the dog’s mournful howling that alerted a pair of passing riders on a tandem; Laven was just one day San Francisco when he was run down from behind.

Police are still looking for the driver of the truck that hit Laven and left him on the side of the road to die.

His five-year old dog, Ozziet, has been adopted — at least temporarily — by a family friend who had known Laven since he was 15 years old. She hopes to return the dog to his family soon.

The Mercury News says Ozziet whimpered as the shelter workers handed the dog over to his new owner.

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I received an email today from Thomas Cassidy asking me to help get the word out about the Pasadena Ride of Silence next Wednesday.

If you’re not familiar with the Ride of Silence, it’s a world-wide moving memorial in honor of fallen cyclists, to remember those who have died while riding their bike and call attention to the need for road safety. And it’s something I support wholeheartedly.

There are other rides nearby in Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Irvine and Temecula, just to name a few, but this is the only ride in the immediate L.A. area.

Cassidy says the Pasadena Ride of Silence has attracted around 100 riders in the past, but he’s hoping for a big increase this year, with a goal of 250 riders.

Personally, I’d like to see a thousand or more riders rounding the Rose Bowl this Wednesday to remember those who can no longer ride with us. And God knows, there are far too many of those.

The ride will start at 7 pm next Wednesday, May 16th, at the Rose Bowl. It’s an easy, slow-paced ride open to anyone, from beginning bicyclists to experienced riders. Or anyone and everyone in between — even if that means dusting off that old bike that’s been sitting in the garage covered in dust.

Yes, it’s that important.

I’m committed to attending the LACBC board meeting that same night, or I’d be there myself. So I hope you’ll do me the honor of taking my place.

And give real meaning to Bike Week by riding in the Ride of Silence, in Pasadena or whatever ride is closest to you.

Thanks to Thomas Cassidy  for the heads-up — and more importantly, for putting this ride together.

Analyzing 2011 SoCal cycling fatalities: Los Angeles — and door zones — may be safer than you think

Earlier this month, we remembered the people behind the statistics, the victims of cycling collisions on Southern California streets.

Now lets take a look at the numbers. And some of the surprising findings those statistics reveal — including some that suggest Los Angeles could be your safest place to ride. And that the door zone may be a hell of a lot safer than we all think.

But first, a couple of big important disclaimers.

These stats are based strictly on the fatalities that I am aware of, whether they have been reported in the press or have come to my attention in other ways. It is entirely possible that there were other bicycling-related deaths that I don’t know about.

These numbers also do not include non-fatal collisions. It’s possible that any given area could have had a high rate of injury collisions while having few or no fatalities. Or that one risk factor may result in a high rate of fatalities but few injuries — or the other way around.

The limited data I have to work with simply doesn’t show that.

Nor does it suggest why one area may appear to be more dangerous than another, even though I may make a guess at it.

And with that, let’s get on with it.

By my count, 71 cyclists were killed in traffic-related collisions in Southern California last year. That does not include another nine riders who were fatally shot — eight in Los Angeles County and one in San Diego.

Those 71 fatalities represent a dramatic increase over most recent years on record, with 55 cyclists killed in both 2008 and 2009. In addition, it’s slightly more than the five-year average from 2005 to 2009, at just over 68 traffic-relating cycling fatalities per year.

It also marks a return to the roadway carnage of 2005 and 2006, when 76 and 89 riders were killed, respectively.

Fatalities by county: 2011       2009*       2006**     Ave. 2005 – 2009

Los Angeles                24           22             24           24.2

Orange                       13           11             21           13

San Diego                   12           8               5             8

Riverside                     11           7              14            10

San Bernardino            6            4              11            7.4

Ventura                       4            2              11            4.6

Santa Barbara***        1            1               3             1.8

Imperial                       0            1               0             .4

As you can see, Los Angeles County has remained remarkably steady despite a dramatic increase in ridership, with an average of two riders killed per month. At the same time, while Orange County has dropped significantly from the horrors of 2006, it continues to reflect an average of more than one cyclist killed every month.

Meanwhile, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties all showed a 50% increase over 2009, though both Ventura and San Bernardino were still below their five-year averages.

At first glance, it would appear that Los Angeles County is by far the most dangerous place to ride in Southern California. However, L.A. is also the most populous of the eight counties included in this count.

Ranking the counties in terms of risk of death per capita reveals some surprises, with the eight counties ranked from worst to best:

County                    Population               Rate of death

Riverside                  2,100,516               1 death per 190,956 population

Ventura                   797,740                  1 per 199,435

Orange                    3,010,759               1 per 231,597

San Diego                3,001,072               1 per 250,089

San Bernardino        2,015,355               1 per 335,893

Santa Barbara***    405,396                  1 per 405,396

Los Angeles              9,862,049              1 per 410,919

Imperial                  174,528                   0 per 174,528

Unfortunately, there’s no objective measure of how many people ride bikes in each county. But surprisingly, these stats suggest that heavily congested L.A. County may actually be twice as safe as other heavily populated counties.

Those fatalities occurred in 53 cities and unincorporated areas throughout the region, with eight cities suffering more than one fatality last year:

San Diego   7

Los Angeles  5

Long Beach  4

Garden Grove  2

Redondo Beach  2

Pasadena  2

Riverside  2

Oceanside  2

Again, using the measurement of deaths per population reveals some very surprising results:

City                               Population                 Rate of death

Redondo Beach              66,748                      1 per 33,374

Pasadena                       137,122                    1 per 68,562

Oceanside                      167,086                    1 per 83,543

Garden Grove                 170,883                    1 per 85,441

Long Beach                    462,257                    1 per 115,564

Riverside                        303,871                    1 per 151,936

San Diego                      1,301,617                 1 per 185,945

Los Angeles                    3,792,621                 1 per 758,524

While multiple deaths in smaller cities may raise a red flag, they don’t really tell us much. Two deaths apiece in each in the first four cities could be a statistical fluke; just one more in any of the other 45 cities not listed here, and they could have made this list, as well.

It’s also worth noting that some of these cities, such as Oceanside and Redondo Beach, are destination areas for cyclists, with a level of weekend ridership that can far exceed their relatively small populations as cyclists pass through from other areas.

More interesting is the fact that the City of Angels, with it’s long-held reputation for car culture, bad streets and open hostility to cyclists, has significantly fewer fatalities per capita than Riverside and San Diego. Combined.

And at least in terms of fatalities, Los Angeles is over six times safer than bike-friendly Long Beach.

That could reflect any number of factors, from the possibility of better trauma care and emergency response times in L.A., to more dangerous streets in Long Beach — including Los Coyotes and PCH — that have yet to see the improvements that have made biking safer in other areas of the city.

But it’s shocking to think that you may actually be safer riding your bike in bike-unfriendly L.A. than the streets of the self-proclaimed most bicycle friendly city in America.

Then again, the real shocker is that L.A. could a hell of a lot safer than most of us thought.

Myself included.

Now let’s look at some equally surprising stats on how these collisions occurred.

Again, bear in mind that most of this information has been gleaned from media reports; in some cases, they offer a detailed analysis of the collision, and in others, barely mention anything more than the fact that it occurred.

We’ll start with the question of who was at fault.

  • Driver:  32
  • Cyclist:  28****
  • Unknown or both:  11

This is my own analysis of the collision, based on the limited information I have; it does not necessarily reflect how the police, sheriff’s or CHP may have assigned fault.

Especially since many investigative officers tend to be poorly trained in bike collision analysis and investigation, and often appear to be biased in favor of the motorist.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, I assigned hit-and-runs to the fault of the driver, on the assumption that an innocent person has little motive to flee — while recognizing that is not always true.

I have also assigned fault for solo collisions and riders hit by trains to the cyclist. Even though it’s possible that other factors, such as near misses by motorists or poor road conditions, may have contributed to the death in some way.

These numbers also err on the low side, reflecting only the information I have been able to document; in many cases, there was not enough information to make a determination.

And there may be multiple factors involved in any given collision, so these won’t add up to a total of 71.

So let’s look at some of the other numbers.

  • At least 25 riders were hit from behind — by far the leading cause of cycling fatalities in 2010
  • At least 13 were hit-and-runs
  • At least 12 were hit at intersections or driveways
  • At least 10 involved drugs or alcohol — and not always on the part of the driver
  • At least eight were hit while riding on or leaving a sidewalk
  • At least seven were hit head-on, usually while riding on the wrong side of the street
  • Seven were solo collisions
  • Seven victims were over the age of 70
  • At least six were killed after running stop signs
  • At least six were killed while riding in a marked bike lane or off-road bike path
  • At least six were killed in right hook collisions
  • Six 12 years old or younger
  • Another five were between the ages of 15 and 17
  • At least four weren’t using lights after dark
  • Three were killed by trains
  • Three were killed by out of control vehicles
  • At least two were killed by drivers running red lights or stop signs
  • At least two were killed distracted drivers
  • At least one was killed in a left cross
  • One was killed by a truck backing into a loading bay
  • One was killed, at least in part, due to poorly designed infrastructure
  • And just one was killed as a result of a dooring

Stop and think about that.

For decades, we’ve been taught that the door zone is one of the most dangerous places to ride; vehicular cyclists often refer to it as the death zone.

Yet these stats show just the opposite. You are far more likely to be killed in a hit-from-behind collision or at an intersection than you are by getting doored. And yet, the solution we’re invariably taught is to ride in the traffic lane, directly in front of traffic coming up from behind.

Maybe that’s because so many cyclists are heeding that advice and avoiding the door zone, while placing themselves at greater risk of getting hit from behind. Or maybe because hit-from-behind collisions tend to occur at higher speeds, reducing survivability, while doorings tend to be relatively slow speed collisions that are more likely to result in injury than death — especially if the rider is wearing a helmet to protect from head injuries in a fall.

And that’s not to say that riding in the door zone is safe. But it may be far less deadly than we have been lead to believe.

Of course, that’s not the only conclusion that jumps out from these numbers.

Like far too many drivers are willing to flee the scene, leaving their victims to die in the street. Too many cyclists run stop signs — especially when other vehicles are present.

Sidewalks remain dangerous places for cyclists, particularly where they intersect with streets and driveways.

Riders can lower their risk simply by riding on the right side of the road and using lights after dark. And staying of the roads after drinking or using drugs.

Ditto for stopping for trains; once the warning signals chime and the gates drop, stay the hell off the tracks. And that goes for drivers trying to beat a train, as well.

Bike lanes are no guarantee of safety. Yet there were fewer cyclists killed in bike lanes than on sidewalks and crosswalks, and far fewer than on streets without them. But that may just speak to the scarcity of bike lanes in most of Southern California.

Then there’s the single most glaring conclusion we can make from these fatalities.

Too many people have died, and continue to die, on our streets.

One is one too many; 71 is an obscenity.

And it’s clearly headed in the wrong direction.

Update: in response to one of the comments to this post, I’ve added information on how many of the victims were under 18; six riders were 12 or under when they were killed, while another five were aged 15 to 17. In addition, seven of the victims were over the age of 70.

……..

*Most recent year currently on record

**Worst of the five years on record

***I will drop Santa Barbara County from this count next year, to reflect the 7-county area included in the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG)

****Includes solo collisions and collisions with trains

79-year old Escondido cyclist killed in apparent solo wreck; Coroner rules Alan Deane death an accident

What started out as a very good month on SoCal streets has turned bloody for area cyclists.

After going nearly four full weeks without a fatal collision — and yes, that’s good for the heavily populated Southern California region that averages over one bike death a week — three riders have died in the last 10 days.

The latest is a 79-year old Escondido man who apparently died in a solo collision.

According to the North County Times, the rider, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found along the 400 block of East Mission Avenue in Escondido. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Union-Tribune’s Sign On San Diego website reports that the victim was not wearing a helmet, and did not have lights on his bike. In this case, the lack of a helmet is relevant because this appears to be exactly the sort of slow speed impact that helmets were designed to protect against.

The cause of his fall is unknown;  however, police report that no other vehicles were involved.

Of course, it is entirely possible for a car to cause a crash, without leaving any sign, by cutting off a rider or passing too closely and causing the victim to lose control of his bike.

Unless a witness unexpectedly turns up, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know. But this could be exactly the sort of situation that SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill that’s currently sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature, is designed to prevent.

Are you listening, Governor Brown?

This is the 54th confirmed traffic-related death in Southern California this year, and the 11th in San Diego County. That compares to an average of just under seven deaths each year in the San Diego area, and is just one below the 55 deaths recorded in the seven county SoCal region in each of the last two years currently on record.

It’s also the 5th fatal solo bike collision this year.

Update: The victim has been identified as Jerzy Nowak of Escondido; San Diego’s 10 News reports that there were witnesses who saw him fall, and confirm that no other vehicles were involved. 

……..

Meanwhile, the carnage continues in Pasadena, as another cyclist is injured in a hit-and run at the intersection of Walnut Street and Los Robles Ave; fortunately, he was not seriously injured.

And the death last week of popular cyclist and musician Alan Deane has been ruled accidental by the coroner’s office. What effect that will have on the police investigation remains to be seen.

Oddly, for someone whose death brought forth such an outpouring of grief, police have been unable to find Deane’s last known address.

Maybe you know where he was living?

……..

Of course, it’s not just Pasadena. Or Escondido, for that matter.

KABC-7 reports that a 15-year old bike rider was injured when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver on the 5500 block of North Victoria Avenue in Highland on Monday afternoon. He was taken to the hospital with a head injury; authorities are looking for the driver of a black, 1980s pickup truck.

……..

Finally, I’ve gotten word that Jeffrey Ray Adams, the driver accused of intentionally cutting off a cyclist in Santa Monica — then ranting about it in a video captured by the victim — missed a court appearance on Monday. As a result, I’m told that a felony bench warrant has been issued for failing to appear.

However, reports that the case has been upgraded to a felony charge appear to be incorrect. According to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, the District Attorney’s office still reports that the case has been referred to the Santa Monica City Attorney for misdemeanor filing, while the SaMo CA says the case is still under evaluation.

As he notes, however, it’s always possible that neither of their computer systems have been updated yet. We’ll check back in a few days.

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