Tag Archive for PCH

Update: Fatal bike collision on Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades

The aftermath of today's fatal collision; photo by Clifford Phillips

The aftermath of today’s fatal collision; photo by Clifford Phillips

I’m still waiting on official confirmation, but the news doesn’t look good.

A tweet from West LA Traffic Division Captain Brian Adams reports that the LAPD is working a fatal traffic collision at Temescal Canyon Road and PCH in Pacific Palisades.

At the same time, I received an email from a reader who had just passed the intersection and saw a mountain bike with the rear wheel crushed, and a car stopped nearby with its windshield bashed in; the rider was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, that does not necessarily mean the rider was killed. But it sounds like prayers or good thoughts are in order.

More details as they come in.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the collision occurred around 9:15 Sunday morning when a vehicle drifted into the bike lane on Temescal Canyon and hit the rider from behind. The victim was declared dead at a local hospital, later identified as St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica; another report says he was taken to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.

And yes, the driver remained at the scene. 

A comment from Lois below indicates the collision occurred about a quarter mile above PCH on the eastbound, uphill lane. 

Having ridden through there many times myself, that is one of the few bike lanes where I don’t feel comfortable, as many motorists drive far above the speed limit and drift from their lanes on the many curves, both up and downhill.

This is the 84th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 36th in Los Angeles County. It is also the 16th cycling death in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year — over three times the number of bicycling fatalities last year.

Update 2: Pacific Palisades Patch reports the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was approximately 25 to 27 years old, and was hit hard enough to throw his body up to 20 feet through the air.  

One commenter on the site said she was told by an officer at the scene that the driver had been drinking — at 9:15 am — while the writer of the Patch piece says the driver himself suggested he was texting when the collision occurred.

John Rapley; photo from The Age

James Rapley; photo from The Age

Update 3: Police officials have identified the victim at 29-year old Australian tourist James Rapley from Victoria; the driver was 19-year old Mohammed Kadri of Santa Monica.

There’s something horribly wrong when someone can’t visit this country without returning home in a coffin.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for James Rapley and his family.

Update 4: Australian publication The Age confirms a comment from a friend of the victim that Rapley was just passing through Los Angeles when he was killed.

The paper quotes his father as saying Rapley, a software developer for Groupon in Chicago, had rented a bike during an extended layover on a flight back home to Melbourne for the holidays. An experienced rider, he may have enjoyed the challenge of tackling the steep climb, even on a rental bike.

His father also confirms the report that police said the underage driver had been drinking at that early hour.

“He was the sort of kid everyone hopes to have as a son,” John Rapley said.

“I just really want to get the message out that drink driving can affect you anywhere and it’s so stupid.”

No word yet on any charges the driver may face. Let’s hope the authorities take this one seriously — especially if reports that he was texting as well turn out to be true.

I can’t overstate the tragedy that someone just passing through our city is murdered by someone too young to legally drink, let alone be on the road in that condition. 

Update 4: The Santa Monica Mirror reports Kadri was arrested on an unspecified felony charge at 10:50 am, and released on $50,000 bail Sunday night — which seems low under the circumstances.

He is scheduled to appear in Downtown Municipal Court on January 16th; we should be able to learn what charges he’ll face then. Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Update: USC professor seriously injured in early morning PCH collision; CHP blames the victim

Very few details are available yet.

According to the LA Times, a female bike rider was rushed to the hospital with critical injuries following a collision on PCH in the Malibu area this morning.

The collision occurred sometime before 5 am near PCH and Coastline Drive, which may be just east of the city limits. The CHP stopped traffic in both directions for at least two hours to conduct their investigation, which is never a good sign.

The Daily News reports officers are interviewing the driver of the car, while the Times says a big rig truck remains at the scene.

There’s not enough information available to speculate on what might have happened. However, it sounds like prayers may be in order; let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be more serious than it already is.

Thanks to Rick Risemberg and Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

Update: Good news from KABC-7, which reports the victim is expected to survive.

Update 2: I’m told a writer on the Velo Club LaGrange news group reports coming on the scene at 7 am, and watching a Sheriff’s Deputy remove the remains of a black and white carbon road bike, which was in several pieces. He reports the rider was hit by a truck.

Update 3: According to the Malibu Times, the victim is 33-year old Maija Iris Heller, a professor of oceanography at the University of Southern California. Heller’s driver’s license lists a Pasadena address, but police speculated that she lived in the area and was out for early morning exercise. 

The paper quotes CHP spokesperson Leland Tang as saying she was riding downhill on Coastline Drive in Pacific Palisades when she ran the red light at PCH, and was hit by a westbound flower delivery truck at 4:41 am.

She was transported to UCLA Medical Center with major injuries, where she reportedly remains in serious but stable condition. 

Which begs the question, who, exactly, witnessed the collision at that hour and saw her go through the red? 

Given her critically injured state, it’s highly unlikely that police were able to talk to her before she was transported to the hospital. Let alone that she would have been capable of describing how the collision occurred and whether the light was red or green when she went through the intersection.

It’s also questionable whether any independent witnesses were at the scene at such an early hour, and just happened to be looking in the right direction to observe the collision, and at the same time, notice what color the light was.

In all likelihood, the only witness capable of speaking to the police was the driver of the truck that hit her, who has an inherent interest casting events in a favorable light.

If there were any independent witnesses, police should let the public know, if only for the sake of credibility.

At the very least, no conclusion should be made in this, or any other collision, until police speak with all the surviving participants — even if that means waiting days or weeks until the victim recovers enough to present the other side of the story.

That is not to say that the driver was lying. It’s human nature to recall events in a way that casts our actions in the best possible light.

It’s also entirely possible that the collision occurred exactly the way the story describes. 

Heller may have picked up too much speed on the steep downhill and been unable to stop in time. Or, like too many bike riders, she may have simply blown through the light, thinking it would be safe so early in the morning — though it’s questionable whether she would have intentionally run the red with a large truck bearing down on her at highway speeds, regardless of how Tang casts the collision.

“One of the biggest things we are having a problem with is bicyclists are not following the rules of the road,” he said. “Bicyclists have to stop at stop signs, they have to stop at red lights. [Heller] ran a red light.”

I believe he left out the word, “allegedly.” 

I could be wrong.

Maybe there were multitudes of people milling about that corner before 4:45 am. Or maybe the CHP found security video that clearly showed the light was red when she attempted to go through the intersection.

But we should always take such victim-blaming conclusions with a grain of salt until we hear both sides of the story.

And so should the police.

Update 4: Wayne Gunn offered the following update in a comment on another page, including a link to a Caring Bridge page to raise funds for Heller’s recovery. 

Update on Maija Heller, the USC professor injured on PCH at this site set up by her roommate:  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maijaheller/mystory She rides to USC daily from home near the accident site and started in early that day (and in the dark) to help load instruments for a two month trans-Pacific research cruise. Needless to say, she will be on a different journey- of recovery.

Malibu study suggests PCH safety improvements; a NELA paranoid bike lane conspiracy theory

Lots of news to wrap up the work week.

No, seriously, don’t take note of the perfect summer weather that finally arrived in LA this week. You’ve got important things to do. And you can live without riding your bike for another day.

Right?

………

UCLA professor Donald Shoup would be proud.

The nation’s parking meister has long argued against the high cost of free parking. Now a new Malibu safety study seems to be taking him seriously, suggesting parking meters along PCH could improve safety by reducing the problems with drivers looking for free parking.

I like it.

The study also recommends putting east/west bike lanes along the full length of the 21-mile city to get cyclists out of the way of high-speed traffic. Although someone should tell them that sharrows are not bike lanes.

You can read the study here, and weigh in with your own thoughts online through September 17th; thanks to Paiwei Wei for the link.

………

Anti-NELA bike lane activist Tom Topping writes in his Boulevard Sentinel newspaper that he’s being smeared by bike advocates — and oddly, KPCC’s Larry Mantle. I listened to the Airtalk program he refers to when it aired last month; actually, I though Larry was going easy on him. And having appeared on Larry’s program, I can’t say I detected a bit of pro or anti-bike bias, though word is he’s a car guy at heart.

Then again, it does make for a damn good paranoid conspiracy theory if bike shop owners and public radio hosts are all on the city payroll to ram through “vehicle removal plans” for a fast buck.

Though I’m not exactly sure who profits from road diets and bike lanes. Except, of course, for the businesses and residents who reside alongside them.

………

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one to host a Bike Talk program on Tuesday. Flying Pigeon’s Josef Bray-Ali — the unnamed bike shop owner in the above conspiracy theory — hosted a discussion touching anti-bike UN paranoia, billionaires and bikes, and measuring the success of bike projects, among other topics.

………

ABC’s 20/20 program takes a look at LA’s hit-and-run epidemic, which the LA Weekly takes sole credit for uncovering; I seem to recall a long list of bike advocates who have been raising the alarm for years, but what do I know? Culver City hosts the annual bike-friendly Fiesta La Ballona this weekend. The comment period for the new Union Station master plan has been extended through the end of this month. Santa Monica will hold a free festival next month to preview the planned MANGo Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway; for the sake of fairness, I hope they also have a WOMANGo greenway in the works. Santa Monica’s Bike Center will try to help the city’s businesses become more bike friendly. Sunday will see a Kidical Mass ride in Chinatown. Metro and CICLE team up to offer three free community bike rides in the LA area in the next three months. County Supervisor Gloria Molina joins with the LACBC and LA County Parks and Recreation to hold a free East LA Bicycle Ride on Saturday, Sept. 7th. Ride Pablove Across America will hold an LA fundraising ride in the Valley on October 12th. Okay, so it’s not a bike race, but proceeds from the October 20th Loco Motion 10K Run will benefit the LACBC in honor of fallen cyclist Marisela Echeverria, killed while riding on PCH last year. Red5 Yellow7 will host a workshop on how to choose the right bike on September 9th. The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition will hold its first official meeting Saturday. Incycle Bike Shop says they’re having their biggest sale of the year. Bike Long Beach explains when you can really take the lane.

Laguna Beach moves towards complete streets while trying to move bike riders off PCH; maybe the city should consider a Roman role model. Irvine is now officially bike-friendly, but that’s about all you’ll learn thanks to the OC Register’s draconian paywall. A San Diego writer proposes using the city’s unpaved canyons for bike superhighways. A bicyclist gets her bike back, thanks to a door-to-door wildfire evacuation; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up. Yet another holier-than-thou Napa bike rider says she obeys the law and rides courteously, but those damn speeding spandex-clad cyclists should stay the hell off the streets.

AAA says American drivers are growing less concerned about behaviors that could kill you. Biking improves employee productivity. The firing of Serotta’s founder takes some of the soul out of American framebuilding. I’ve been to Maui’s Haleakala volcano, and would not want to ride a bike off the edge of it. A sidewalk riding Las Vegas cyclist is killed in an apparent SWSS. Bicycle tourists are a major source of revenue in Arizona. It takes a village to capture a Longmont CO bike thief. BMC’s Tejay van Garderen takes the leader’s jersey in the USA Pro Challenge. A 74-year old MA pastor was murdered with a hammer while riding home on his bike. Needless to say, the New York cabbie who severed the leg of a British tourist earlier this week blames the bike rider who tried to warn him, as well as the city’s bike lanes; the Daily News reveals the bike rider may not be a nice person, but fails to note what the hell does that has to do with the wreck. Those NYC bike lanes may be key to outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy. Citi Bike rides the subway; New York bike share riders may ride drunk, but at least they don’t black out. Even a Philly bike cop can be a victim of hit-and-run. Is it time to end the longtime Share the Road campaign in Delaware — and everywhere else, for that matter?

British cycling star Bradley Wiggins calls for making helmet use mandatory; how about making it mandatory for cars to not hit bicyclists, instead? Volvo’s new cyclist detection system wins the UK’s award for best car safety system. Edinburgh is the latest city to drop speed limits to 20 mph to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Queensland, Australia cyclists could get a minimum 1-meter passing distance, maybe more in high speed areas.

Finally, repeat after me: If you have two bags of meth stuffed in the tubes of your bike, stop for the damn stop signs, already. And a car crashes into a San Fernando Valley post office; witnesses report the building swerved into the car’s path and wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Triathlete needs your help now to get to Kona Ironman in honor of fallen PCH cyclist

Maybe you remember the case.

On October 13th of last year, triathlete Mari Echevarria was riding on PCH when her tire got caught in a seam in the pavement between the shoulder and the roadway. She lost control of her bike, and was thrown into the path of a Metro bus, and was killed.

Now a friend of hers is trying to qualify for the Kona Ironman, exactly 365 days after Mari was killed.

Jeopardy presenter Kelly Miyahara is asking for your vote to help her get there. But time is short; as I write this, there’s less than five hours left to cast your vote.

It’s a worthy cause, to honor someone who should still be with us. And all it will cost you is a single click.

One other note on a related subject.

The City of Malibu, where her death occurred, responded to the tragedy by working with Caltrans to seal the crack that caused her death. And then went up and down the entire length of PCH in the city to seal any other separations between the shoulder and the roadway to keep it from happening again.

It may have come too late to save Mari.

But it was the right thing to do, and they deserve credit for doing it.

Thanks to Alan Thompson for the heads-up.

Catching up with today’s way too long compendium of all the latest bike news and links

Let’s take a few minutes to catch up on this week’s news now that things have settled down a little.

Or maybe quite a few minutes.

It’s a long list.

………

Beverly Hills isn’t the only place where a road raging driver has left an injured cyclist in his wake.

Around 5 pm last Friday, a group of women visiting from Las Vegas were riding single file on eastbound PCH in Newport Beach, when a Cadillac pulled up behind one on the riders and started honking impatiently — then plowed into one of the riders, rather than wait a few seconds until they could get out of his way.

The jerk driver fled the scene, but returned later, claiming it was the victim’s fault. Evidently for having the audacity to occupy the same space where he wanted to put his car.

The woman was transported to a local hospital with a head injury; a comment to the story indicates she was released after being kept overnight.

And no word yet on whether the driver was cited, or if charges are pending.

Thanks to Lois for the link.

………

An unarmed bike rider is shot by an L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy who thought he was acting “suspicious” and might have had a gun.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but since when is the mere possibility that someone might a weapon sufficient justification for using deadly force?

Maybe that’s why some drivers have been so aggressive lately. They can’t tell if I’ve got a gun in my bike shorts, or just happy to see them.

………

On the job front, Safe Routes to School is looking for an Active Transportation Fellow in DC. The League of American Bicyclists is looking for a Development Director. And if you’re a bike enthusiast with wrenching skills, GMR Marketing has a job for you at this year’s Amgen Tour of California.

………

The LA Weekly trolls for web hits once again, claiming, among other things, that the best way to improve L.A. traffic is to rip out bike lanes in favor of restoring regular traffic lanes. As evidence, the bike-baiting writer who shall remain unnamed claims the 7th Street bike lanes are unused and result in angry motorists.

Yet he somehow fails to explain why the city’s worst traffic problems are on streets that don’t even have bike lanes.

As someone who rides 7th Street on a regular basis, I can attest that I have never seen a traffic jam there since the bike lanes were put in, even at rush hour. And seldom find myself the only cyclist using the popular lanes, which have become the primary feeder route for riders coming into Downtown from the Westside.

But then, the Weekly doesn’t always let the facts get in the way of the story when it comes to bikes these days.

………

Once again, L.A. County’s killer highway claims another life, this time a pedestrian crossing Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

Which is a needlessly tragic lead-in to the news that Malibu is hosting a pair of public meetings next month to discuss the city’s PCH Safety Study next month. If you ride on PCH — or ever find yourself trying to cross the street there — you owe it to yourself to attend one.

………

Maybe it’s just because the producer is my nephew. But this looks like a pretty decent distracted driving PSA. Especially considering it was made by a 16-year old who just got his license.

………

The city council gives the go-ahead for bike share in Downtown L.A., while CD14 Councilmember Jose Huizar introduces a motion to repaint the Spring Street green bike lanes. Speaking of which, the most recent bike count shows ridership on Spring Street is up another 40%, after a 52% increase last year; I suppose the Weekly would say no one uses those, either. Construction will begin soon on shared bike/bus lanes on Sunset Blvd. Mark your calendar for Bike Week; pledge to ride on Bike to Work Day and you could win a bike from REI. Examined Spoke offers some good thoughts about CicLAvia; I missed that somehow in yesterday’s roundup. Will Campbell unwillingly shares a burger with a man who blames cyclists for everything that’s wrong with Los Angeles; maybe he’s a regular Weekly reader. A Silver Lake bike rodeo is scheduled for May 18th. Metro works to improve bike and pedestrian access in Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo. How to get abandoned bikes removed from racks. Both Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica and Pasadena’s Incycle Bicycles invite you to ride with them this weekend to learn about Tour de Cure. County Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky says NBC Universal has agreed to complete — and help pay for — a missing link in the L.A. River Bike Path through Universal Studios; now if he could only apply a little pressure to the anti-bike city of Vernon. Calabasas bike-centric farm-to-table restaurant, coffee roaster and Moots bike boutique Pedalers Fork is open, and the first reviews are already in and looking good. In other food news, bike-powered Peddler’s Creamery is now open in Downtown L.A. The San Marino paper offers what may be the most accurate estimate of attendance at Sunday’s CicLAvia, putting the total at an open-to-interpretation several hundred thousand.

The third attempt at a California three-foot passing law passed its first hurdle in the state legislature; now its on the Appropriations Committee, even though it wouldn’t seem to require any. Riverside boldly decides to study a disputed bike lane. An open letter to the AAA. No charges against a stop sign-running Apple Valley driver who hit a cyclist. A call for artistic bike racks in Beaumont. A Newport Beach city councilmember criticizes the sentence given the killer driver in the Campion-Ritz hit-and-run; but why is the death of a “significant citizen” any more important or tragic than anyone elses? Presenting the best bike ride around San Diego’s Mission Bay; I often followed a similar course when I lived down there. Escondido’s Muffler Man will get bike drag in time for the Amgen Tour of California. When a little girl’s bike is stolen, an Oxnard cop buys her a new one at his own expense, then teaches her how to ride it; thanks to our Carolina friend Zeke for the heads-up. Red Kite Prayer drops in on this year’s Sea Otter Classic. A new bike path opens connecting Downtown San Jose to the Bay. A case so old I’d forgotten all about it finally comes to a conclusion, as a Santa Clara County deputy gets a warm caress on the wrist when he’s sentenced to four months, possibly to be served at home, for killing two riders while asleep at the wheel. Unlike its L.A. counterpart, the San Francisco Weekly doesn’t have it’s collective head planted firmly up its own posterior, explaining why protected bike lanes are good for business; then again, even NBC says the same thing, at least for small businesses. It’s been a bad year for NorCal cyclists, as a 79-year old rider was the latest to killed; if a bike rider can fall under the wheels of a passing car, doesn’t that suggest the car was passing dangerously close — let alone that it might have caused the fall?

A Portland driver somehow finds herself on a separated bikeway rather than the interstate highway bridge next to it; local police say “oops.” Another self-hating bike rider who says cyclists don’t belong on the road (scroll down). Those bike-riding Portland kids sure have it easy these days. Bike share will launch in Seattle next year. An Alaska cyclist rides his fatbike over 2,000 miles in the middle of winter along two of the state’s famed sled dog trails. Big hearted strangers give a new bike to the victim of an Oklahoma hit-and-run victim. America’s only surviving Tour de France winner says he has no vendetta against Lance Armstrong; can’t say the same about the U.S. government, though. Louisiana driver gets a minor citation despite hitting and seriously injuring a bike rider who stopped in a bike lane. Bikeyface wishes bikes were more like cars. New York imposes new restrictions on bike delivery riders. NYC’s new bike share program isn’t even open yet, and it’s already being vandalized.

A UK nurse was over twice the legal alcohol limit — and on her way to work — when she killed a cyclist and fled the scene, stopping only to pull the bike out of her way. A driver with a suspended license killed a cycling married couple as he fled from police. Amazingly, British police refuse to file charges against a road raging driver was captured on helmet cam beating the crap out of a bike rider; thanks to Joni for the heads-up. Parliament members call for reducing speed limits and jailing dangerous drivers, as well as boosting spending levels to £1 billion to encourage more people to take up bicycling. Photos of eyes over bike racks cut theft rates. Town Mouse is more concerned with the safety of the dog chasing her. The director of a Dutch — yes, Dutch — road safety institute calls for a mandatory helmet law for riders over 55. A new book looks at Italian cycling great Fausto Coppi. The authoritarian state of Uzbekistan is banning bicycles in the capital, seizing bikes and advising bike shops to shut down. A Persian Gulf writer asks if taking a dangerous shortcut is really worth it. Queensland is relaxing their mandatory helmet laws to allow religious requirements. An Aussie woman is ticketed for using a handheld cell phone while riding, but the local press is more freaked out by her “bizarre” tall bike. Tempers run hot Down Under, as a cyclist is punched out by an angry driver. Why women should ride to work and how to get started.

Finally, build your own sandwich bike; peanut butter and jelly optional. A British thief returns a stolen “lusciously smooth” bike with an apology and a coupon. And trust me, you don’t want to read the comments to the Times’ story  about the Beverly Hills road rage case — let alone the ones on the CBS version.

But you’re probably going to anyway.

Breaking news: Joel Alexander Murphy gets serious jail time in DUI hit-and-run death of Roger Lippman

I’ve just gotten word that Joel Alexander Murphy has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for the drunken, high-speed hit-and-run collision that took the life of Orange County cyclist Roger Lippman.

Lippman was riding north on PCH along the Bolsa Chica Wetlands last June when he was run down from behind by a car driven by Murphy; a witness reported seeing his body flying over 100 feet through the air following the impact.

Instead of stopping, Murphy continued on until he had second collision a few miles away, crashing into the fence surrounding the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. He was arrested at the scene, and booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and violating probation for prior drug offenses, including DUI, dating back to 2005.

Last month Murphy changed his plea to guilty, reportedly without a deal in place.

On Friday, he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, along with an additional five years for fleeing the scene. The terms are to be served consecutively, with the five-year sentence specifically excluding any eligibility for parole.

Which means that we can expect Murphy to be off the streets for at least the next 10 years at the bare minimum.

It doesn’t bring Lippman back.

But for once, a killer driver gets more than just a slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile, my source reminds me that the Orange County DA’s office still has not filed charges against Becki Lee James in the allegedly drunken death of cyclist Kenneth Prevatte just a month later and a few miles up the road, despite receiving a final report from the Huntington Beach Police Department over six months ago.

Which makes me wonder what exactly they’re waiting for.

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

Breaking news — Long Beach hit-and-run driver runs down two cyclists on PCH Saturday

I’ve just received a first-hand report about a Long Beach attempted hit-and-run that left two riders injured — possibly seriously — on Saturday.

The writer, who prefers to remain anonymous, reports that he was riding on PCH, waiting at a red light between Sunset Beach and Seal Beach, when passing motorists called out to him to stop an elderly driver who had just hit two cyclists riding 100 feet apart.

He says the driver waived his handicapped parking placard at him as if to say he had a free pass, and claimed he didn’t know he’d hit anyone. Even though he reportedly later told police investigators that both riders were out in the middle of the road and he couldn’t avoid them — despite what the writer describes as a 10-foot wide bike lane in that area.

According to my source, the police seemed to be buying that explanation — which he described as total BS, and which was contradicted by his earlier statement that he didn’t know he hit anyone. However, it’s always possible the officer was playing along to get more information from the driver.

He indicates that one of the victims was in bad shape with what he described as a nasty head injury, and that the other, who appeared to be a member of local riding club Velo Allegro, had suffered a hip injury.

If you have any more information on the collision or the condition of the riders, let me know.

Update: I’ve just been forwarded word from Velo Allegro that their rider suffered road rash, while the injuries to the other rider are not life threatening. According to them, the 85-year old driver was arrested by Seal Beach police, apparently on site.

Update 2: Carey left the following comment to this post, including contact information for the Seal Beach police.

A good friend of mine was one of the cyclists injured in the crash. I have since spoken with the officer investigating the case and he would like to hear from anyone who saw anything, including what happened after the driver fled the scene. Please contact the Seal Beach Police Department at (562) 799-4100 and any officer would be able to help you. Let’s try and help make the road safe for all cyclists.

If you have any information, please call them right away so we can get this driver off the road.

Permanently. 

Update: Cyclist gets double smackdown crossing PCH — seriously injured by car, then blamed by police

First he gets run down by a car on PCH.

Then he gets smacked down once more by the LAPD.

According to Pacific Palisades Patch, a bicyclist was riding his bike in the crosswalk across Pacific Coast Highway at Temescal Canyon Road at 7:51 am on Tuesday, October 30th when he was hit by a car heading north on PCH.

The rider, identified only a 30-year old white male, suffered severe injuries, including broken legs and lacerations to his arms and chest.

Then, Patch reports, police blamed him for the collision simply because he was riding in the crosswalk.

(Officer) Johnson said the accident report has the bicyclist listed as the cause of the accident.

“Bicyclists can’t ride in the crosswalk,” he said. “You have to walk it. As soon as you start pedeling (sic) you’re basically considered a vehicle and have to consider the rules of the road.”

Never mind that in order for the collision to occur the way it’s described, someone had to run the red light. Either the cyclist was crossing against the light — which would seem unlikely, given the heavy traffic on PCH at that hour — or the car that hit him ran it.

Either way, that would seem to be a more immediate — and important — cause of the collision than the simple presence of the rider in the crosswalk.

And never mind that the explanation given by Officer Johnson would appear to be in direct contradiction to state law.

According to California law, bikes are allowed to use crosswalks, which are legally considered an extension of the sidewalk. So if it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk — which the City of Los Angeles allows — it’s also legal to ride your bike in the crosswalk.

Sort of.

In a failed attempt to clarify the law, the state legislature recently amended the law to say that cyclists can ride along a crosswalk. Yet failed to clarify what exactly that means.

After all, you can ride along a pathway or along a river, with very different meanings. One puts you on it, the other next to it.

So depending on who is interpreting the law, and how, you can either ride on the crosswalk or alongside it.

Thanks for the clarification, guys.

Then there’s the question of which way you can ride on the crosswalk. And that’s where it really gets complicated.

According to the LAPD, after consulting with the City Attorney, they’ve come to the following, extremely convoluted, interpretation of the law.

As we discussed, cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk in Los Angeles. And since sidewalks don’t have any direction, bike riders can legally ride either way — as long as they remain on the sidewalk.

But in what appears to be a gross misinterpretation of the law, the LAPD says as soon as a bike enters the street, it becomes a vehicle. Even if it’s just crossing the street. And regardless of whether it’s in — or next to — the crosswalk.

And since it’s a vehicle, it then has to be ridden in the direction of traffic.

Even though pedestrians are allowed to use the crosswalk going in either direction. And even though state law says absolutely nothing about direction in allowing bikes to ride along the crosswalk.

That would appear to be the actual violation the police were referring to in this case, rather than riding in the crosswalk.

And there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that I am aware of in state law that says riders must dismount and walk their bikes across the street.

In fact, that would appear to be another violation of state law, which assigns bike riders all the rights and responsibilities of other vehicle users. I am unaware of any requirement that drivers have to get out of their cars and push them across the street before being allowed to get back inside and drive off.

Which brings up the other problem with this collision.

This intersection is a popular route for riders leaving the beachfront bike path along Will Rogers State Beach, whether to ride up Temescal Canyon or cross to the other side of PCH to continue on towards Malibu.

But there is no way for cyclists to trigger the green light at this intersection. The signal detectors embedded in the pavement don’t recognize bikes, and there is no push button for bikes or pedestrians headed east across PCH.

During busy summer months, that’s usually not a problem. Cars leave the parking lot on a regular basis, triggering the light and allowing riders to cross with the light.

But this time of year, you can wait hours for a car to come by and trigger the signal.

So the workaround many riders use — myself included — is to ride over to the north side of the intersection, push the signal button at the crosswalk, then ride across the street on or next to the crosswalk.

Which is probably exactly what the victim was doing that morning when he was hit by a Subaru. And which is now illegal, according to the LAPD.

So first this cyclist was victimized by bad roadway design, which robbed him of his right to ride like any other vehicle, and forced him to use the crosswalk.

Yes, state law does require signal detectors that recognize the presence of bikes, but only when the intersection is repaved or rebuilt in some other way. And just like drivers, cyclists are legally allowed to cross against the red light if it fails to change for several cycles.

Although you might have a hard time explaining that to a cop. And it would be a foolish thing to attempt at rush hour on a busy, high-speed highway like PCH.

Then he was hit by car, which may or may not have run the red light.

And finally, if the article is correct, he appears to have been victimized a third time. This time by the LAPD, with what looks like a highly flawed interpretation of the law.

He may or may not have been at fault.

But he certainly wasn’t at fault for the reason given.

Update: Now it makes more sense. 

It turns out that the Patch story misplaced the location of the collision, according to the LAPD’s new bike liaison for the West Traffic Division, Sgt. Christopher Kunz, in response to an email from Colin Bogart, Education Director for the LACBC.

Rather than the intersection of PCH and Temescal Canyon, the collision actually occurred about 1700 feet north at the crosswalk leading from the parking lot to the trailer park

And rather than being cited for riding in the crosswalk, the primary factor leading to the collision was a violation of CVC 21804(a), entering a highway without yielding to oncoming traffic. Sgt. Kunz says independent witnesses reported the victim rode across PCH at a high rate of speed, in an apparent attempt to beat oncoming traffic.

And failed. 

So while the intersection of PCH and Temescal remains a difficult and dangerous place for cyclists to cross, and the department’s current interpretation of crosswalk law would seem to leave a lot to be desired, neither one had anything to do with this collision. 

Instead it appears to be a case of bad judgement. A rider taking a chance he shouldn’t have taken.

And a news report that only told part of the story.

PCH fatality may have resulted from bad roadway; LACBC issues call for safety; and former UCLA neurologist killed in AZ hit-and-run

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.

Maalouf was a former member of the Schweitzer Lab at the UCLA Department of Neurobiology, researching markers for Alzheimer Disease.

My deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

%d bloggers like this: