Tag Archive for Redondo Beach

South Bay cyclist victim of a hit-and-walk

One of the primary arguments used to attack bicyclists lately has been the alleged carelessness — or aggressiveness — some bike riders show around pedestrians.

Never mind that a solid  collision between a cyclist and someone on foot is likely to result in injuries to both. And while people can point fingers at a handful of cases where careless riders have seriously injured — or even killed — pedestrians, it is a problem that goes both ways.

As just about anyone who has ever ridden any of Southern California’s beachfront bike paths can attest.

Case in point, this email I received yesterday from frequent South Bay contributor Jim Lyle.

Nine days ago, I was returning home from my morning ride up the coast.  As I navigated the bike path under the Redondo Beach pier, a woman ducked under the chain that separates the bike path from the pedestrian walkway directly in front of me.  I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting her and went down, hard.  As I hit the pavement, I heard a “pop” and knew it wasn’t going to be a good thing.  I unclipped and tried to get up, but couldn’t bear any weight on my left leg due to the pain.

Here’s where it gets surreal.  The woman, with a bunch of her friends, did not offer to help me, did not ask if I was OK, or if I was hurt; they simply walked away as if nothing had happened.  Does that qualify as a “hit and walk?”

I was able to pull myself up using the bike to lean on and hobbled to an open area where I had cell phone coverage.  I called a friend who lives near the pier and asked her to come get me.  She arrived, put the bicycle in the truck bed, but I couldn’t get into the cab, it was too high and it hurt too much to move the leg.  I started to go into shock, tunnel vision and losing consciousness.  My friend called 911.  The EMTs arrived, put me on a gurney, and transported me to emergency.  X-rays revealed I had snapped a bone on my femur, but there was no displacement.  They gave me pain meds and crutches and sent me home.  I return to the orthopod in a couple of weeks to make sure there’s been no movement of the bone and I’m on the road to recovery. Otherwise, they’ll have to do surgery.  Meanwhile, I’m moping around the house feeling sorry for myself.  It could have been worse, much, much worse.

As you know, it is illegal (CVC and city ordinances) for pedestrians to use the beach bike path.  There are signs posted and “BIKES ONLY” is painted on the path every few yards.  Because these laws are not enforced, pedestrians, nannies, dog walkers, skaters, illiterates, and scofflaws use the bike path instead of the pedestrian walkway which is often within spitting range.  I always knew this created a dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians. And, now, I’m a victim.

In the past, a polite “on your left” or “bikes only, please” would be sufficient.  In future, when I’m back riding, I am no longer going to be very pleasant when I encounter the brain dead idiots who insist on endangering my health.  Police chiefs in the beach cities are going to know my name.  All it would take is a little public education and the occasional ticket to make the beach safe for all users, on two wheels or none.

I’m still fuming about the lack of humanity shown by people.  Surely, they’re in a minority, or are they?

Make no mistake.

Pedestrians are the only class of road users more vulnerable than we are. And we need to go out of our way to protect their safety, especially when riding on sidewalks and through crosswalks, where they should have unquestioned right-of-way.

And yes, I’ve seen cyclists plow through a crowded crosswalk, seemingly oblivious to the harm they may cause. And a Santa Monica cyclist was recently convicted, fairly or not, of assault with a deadly weapon for doing just that.

But as Jim’s email suggests, we aren’t always the problem. And we are just as vulnerable to their carelessness as they are to ours.

One other point.

Had he been able to stop the woman, she could have been held liable for his injuries, just as a bicyclist can be held legally liable for injuring a pedestrian. Or another bike rider, for that matter.

But whether she could be charged with leaving the scene of a collision is a question I can’t answer.

Update: Bike rider killed in Indio police shooting; Redondo Beach rider seriously hurt in left cross collision

There’s been another fatal shooting of a bike rider, this time in Indio.

And this time, it definitely wasn’t gang related.

Because the police did it.

According to the Southwest Riverside News Network, 23-year old Alejandro Renden was riding in the 82400 block of Miles Avenue in Indio around 11:30 Thursday night when a police officer attempted to stop him.

Renden attempted to flee by riding between two buildings, then got into an altercation with the same officer when he returned to Miles Ave. Somehow, the altercation escalated into an officer-involved shooting; there’s no explanation why the officer fired his gun, or any suggestion that Renden was armed.

And without that, there’s no way to judge whether the shooting was justified, though his family says he wasn’t the type to resist.

Renden was transported to a local hospital, where he died about an hour after the shooting.

He is the second SoCal bike rider to be killed as a result of gunfire this year, and the second this week.

………

A Redondo Beach bike rider was severely injured in a left cross collision on Friday.

The rider, who was not publicly identified, was travelling north on Catalina Avenue at 7:55 am when he broadsided a car turning left from southbound Catalina onto eastbound Carnelian Street.

According to the Easy Reader, the 40-something male rider suffered numerous broken bones and a severe head injury, despite wearing a helmet. The victim was reportedly riding at a high rate of speed, and hit the car with enough force to shatter his racing bike into multiple pieces.

As a police spokesperson noted, a helmet offers protection at slower speeds, but is of little use in a high speed collision. However, assuming he does survive, it may be thanks to whatever protection his helmet did provide under the circumstances.

It sounds like prayers, or whatever good thoughts you’re comfortable with, may be in order.

Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

Update: Jim Lyle forwards what looks like good news on the condition of victim. He’s now in stable condition, and thankfully appears to have avoided any significant brain injury. 

His body is another matter, however. Lyle reports the man — whose name I’m withholding unless I receive permission from the victim or his family or it appears in the press — suffered six to nine broken ribs, a broken femur, broken tibia, breaks to both wrists and hands, broken collar bone, broken clavicle, a gash to his cheek and significant road rash to his left ear.

I’m told the damage to his wrists and hands is the most serious problem, with the potential to be life changing. He’s already had several surgeries to his femur and wrists, and faces more in the morning.

I hope you’ll join me in offering prayers and best wishes for a fast and full recovery.

………

The USC cycling team hosts its first ever crit in Culver City this Sunday, along with a bike expo, children’s bike rodeo and gourmet lunch trucks from 7 am to 12:30 pm. The course will run along a route formed by Steller Drive, Warner Drive, Hayden Ave and Eastham Drive, with easy access from the Expo Line and Ballona Creek bike path.

………

SSJersey_Together-300x300The LACBC offers a stylish new kit for the spandex crowd. Having gotten my hands on last year’s edition, these come highly recommended; it’s one of the few jerseys I actually look good in.

And the bright black color is surprisingly visible during daylight hours, while the white back and colored inserts should stand out in low light situations.

The kit includes everything from men’s and women’s shorts to socks, jacket and arm and leg warmers, all priced to be as affordable as possible. But don’t wait, orders are due by March 1st.

………

LA County Supervisors adopt a new ordinance promoting bicycling, walking, exercise and access to healthy foods to promote a healthier county. An LADOT report suggests uncalming city streets; more on that next week. LAist looks at next weekend’s Bike Prom. Westwood bike lanes get a mixed response from the Westside Neighborhood Council. Better Bike endorses John Mirisch for Beverly Hills City Council. A Santa Monica letter writer complains about those damn raging cyclists, criticizing riders who use the sidewalks and the ones who don’t with equal venom; thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the link. SaMo High is getting a new state-of-the art building — and a 125 space bike parking lot. Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles offers a session on Weight Training for Cyclists this Wednesday. New dad Steve Martin takes to his bike to get in shape; someone needs to work on his knock-kneed, hunched-over riding form, though.

A San Diego rider on a motorized bike suffers a serious head injury after falling as a result of a sudden stop. San Diego County considers a two-mile bike and pedestrian tube suspended from the Coronado Bay Bridge, where bikes are banned. San Diego’s Union-Tribune offers a photographic look at the Ramona High School mountain bike team. A Simi Valley cyclist with cerebral palsy gets a new bike from his friends at Ride 2 Recovery. A San Francisco writer asks what’s more practical, a ban on bikes or a ban on dangerous streets? BART considers letting bikes on their trains all day, every day.

Atlantic Cites says cars and robust cities are fundamentally incompatible. A 69-year old Provo, Utah cyclist is killed in a horrible collision as he’s hit from behind at a train crossing and pushed into the path of an oncoming train. The state also considers a vulnerable users law. Winter bike commuting can be challenging in the 49th state. Austin TX offers a new bike map with genuine road information to guide users. New Orleans begins testing a new bike share program. Hartford CT legislators want to ban riding two abreast, while Toronto moves to remove their requirement to ride single file. Boston cyclists demand justice after a grand jury fails to indict a hit-and-run truck driver who killed a cyclist. Work begins on restoring a Brooklyn bike path destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Merchants in New York’s Crown Heights neighborhood are up in arms because a bike corral is attracting the mustachioed fixie-riding menace. An Annapolis man plans to bike to all 30 major league baseball stadiums. President Obama’s “Fix it First” approach could be good for cyclists. A Virginia writer says the state’s failed attempt to ban dooring is an ignorant vote on a good bicycling bill.

An unnamed cyclist comes to the rescue after Victoria BC police are unable to capture a fleeing driver. London’s Guardian says cities need to be less about cars and more about people to fight climate change; same goes for livability. A new device offers a better way to get traffic lights to respond to bikes. Russia’s Katusha cycling team wins its appeal after being banished from pro cycling’s top tier. After she’s hit by a car, a New Zealand mayor wants the driver who hit her to pay for a new bike and helmet. New Zealand cyclists reject a call to make hi-viz clothing mandatory for all riders.

Finally, just because you’re drunk doesn’t mean you aren’t good to drive, right? Meanwhile, the UK offers a devastating four minute video to drive home the dangers of texting; I wish someone had the courage to do something like that over here. Thanks to Dave H for the tip.

Let me add a special thanks to Nick at the Westwood Helen’s for going above and beyond by dropping what he was doing to fix my brakes on Friday. Not only did he save my opportunity to ride on a perfect day, but he may have saved my ass from  particularly nasty right hook.

A road raging Monrovia driver, a bike riding RB police chief, and an anti-bike ordinance in Costa Mesa

Let’s catch up on recent news.

Starting with a traffic-crazed Dr. Thompson wannabe who tried to run over, then punch out, a group of cyclists last Friday.

Monrovia Patch forwards word of a roadway altercation in which a motorist apparently became enraged with a group of cyclists and swerved his car into them, forcing one rider to rear-end a parked car.

Then the candidate for anger management got out of his car and started hitting another rider before police arrived and took him into custody.

Patch reports that two cyclists were treated at the scene by paramedics.

If anyone has more information on this story, let me know.

Thanks to Monrovia Patch for the news.

………

Two big stories hit the news while I was tied up with family activities over the holiday period.

Even if that family consists of my wife and a six-year old Corgi.

First up is the news of the off-duty Redondo Beach police chief who commandeered a theft suspect’s bike to chase him down and help make the arrest.

Hats off to Chief Joe Leonardi for proving a police chief can still be a real cop; I’m not sure how many of his peers would have chased the suspect themselves, rather than just calling in their street level officers. And for remaining in riding shape — and recognizing that a bike is often the best way to get there, whether or not you’re chasing someone.

And whether or not it’s yours.

Chief, you can ride with me anytime.

Second is the news that Costa Mesa has banned bike parking on public property to — get this — battle the local homeless population.

Apparently, homeless people don’t like having their bikes stolen any more than people with residences to go home to at night.

Go figure.

So instead of dealing with the problem — like maybe providing a secure place to store their belongings, let alone a roof over their heads — city leaders respond in a regressive fashion by attacking everyone who rides a bike.

A member of the Homeless Task Force that came up with the recommendation promises police won’t be heavy-handed in enforcing the ban.

Neighborhood Improvement Manager Muriel Ullman, a member of the task force, said the ordinance would be enforced within reason. For example, if nearby bike racks are all full, then police would not enforce the ordinance.

“If the police see there is an open rack, and they sees (sic) some bikes lying on the grass…they’re not just going to go impound the bike, they’re going to work with the people,” Ullman said.

Right.

Never mind that the city currently has only 38 bike parking spaces in their 30 parks.

Something tells me they have a hell of a lot more than 38 parking spaces for cars. And not just at public parks, but anywhere in the city that cyclists — excuse me, human beings — would like to go.

The nearly forgotten Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, which clearly has not made it to Costa Mesa, includes the right to safe and secure bike parking at the end of a trip.

Personally, I think the law should be changed so that anytime secure bike racks are full or unavailable, cyclists have a legal right to lock their bikes anywhere they damn well please. Up to and including the legs of Costa Mesa council members.

That would only begin to put us on a par with motorists, who enjoy tens of thousands more parking spaces than are available for bicyclists in most areas. As well as forcing cities and building owners to invest the relative pennies needed to provide adequate bike facilities, as opposed to the $4000 to $40,000 it costs to provide space for a single car.

We can only hope that Costa Mesa somehow comes to its senses and repeals this discriminatory, wrong-headed anti-bike and anti-homeless ordinance.

If not, I hope everyone who rides a bike will remember this on election day.

Thanks to Lois for the heads-up on the Costa Mesa ordinance, and everyone who forwarded news about the Redondo Beach Police Chief — far too many to thank here, but I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to send me a link.

………

Erik Griswold forwards a comment on a Danish website (scroll down) claiming to be from a San Francisco motorcycle dealer.

One of my business endeavors is a motorcycle dealership in San Francisco, California. Among other things my dealership services and repairs Police motorcycles for the City of San Francisco and for the California Highway Patrol in this area. I have talked to Police Officers about the “bicycle problem.” We have a serious problem in California with bicyclists thinking that traffic rules apply only to others and that “share the road” means “take the road and screw the cars.” I think some of these people purchased the wrong size spandex and the blood flow to the brain got cut off.

All of the Police Officers I have talked to will not ticket an automobile driver if a bicyclist ignores traffic rules and gets run over in the process. Several of the Officers smiled and quietly encouraged me to “just hit them.”

Everyone is tired of bicyclists inventing their own rules, not just in Copenhagen. Being sustainable, greeny and eco-friendly is not a blanket pass to misbehave.

I cannot wait to paint the first bicycle on the side of my company truck, fighter-pilot kill style. ;-)

Aside from the obvious threat in the last line, if this is legitimate — which, given the nature of anonymous internet comments is always questionable — it goes a long towards illustrating the bias bike riders face from those charge with protecting us.

And yes, I’m looking at you, San Diego Police Department.

………

A judge orders the thrill killers who shot developmentally disabled cyclist Jordan Hickey as he rode his bike to stand trial on murder and special circumstances that could result in the death penalty. Testimony in the preliminary hearing indicated they were cruising for victims when they encountered Hickey, shooting him three times with a shotgun just for the hell of it.

Which, appropriately enough, is where they belong.

I’m not a supporter of the death penalty. But if anyone ever deserved it, these two would be at the top of my list.

………

Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins dons the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, as teammate Chris Froome won stage seven and stage eight was taken by the youngest rider on the tour. It looks like a good tour for the British Commonwealth, as Wiggins takes yesterday’s time trial to keep his yellow jersey, while last year’s winner Cadel Evans holds second overall.

Wiggin’s Team Sky teammate Chris Froome finished second in the time trial. For awhile, it looked like young American rider Tejay van Garderen would win, instead settling for the white jersey as best young rider.

The new leader gets a little hot under the collar when asked about cynics who believe doping is required to win the tour. Cyclists are dropping like flies as countless collisions deplete the riding roster.

If you need an introduction to le Tour, you could do worse than this pop-up guide, reviewed by Gina Morey Rosemberg.

Meanwhile, New Zealand pro Michael Torckler is bouncing back after a near fatal hit-and-run in Sonoma county. A South African woman is the first to finish in the top ten in the women’s Giro d’Italia, as Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley and American Evelyn Stevens take the top three.

Lance files suit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in an attempt to derail doping charges, and is quickly shown the door for now. Former TdF champ Jan Ullrich briefly almost comes clean. And Cofidis rider Remy Di Gregorio is the latest to be arrested for suspected doping in today’s “clean” riding world.

………

The L.A. Times talks with leaders of the city’s bike and pedestrian communities on how to calm traffic. LADOT Bike Blog offers the agenda for tomorrow’s BPIT meeting. L.A. area schools will share in a $48.5 million Caltrans grant to the Safe Routes to Schools program. Will Campbell rides under the big rock — yes, that rock — with his timelapse camera rolling. Better Bike offers a detailed analysis of cycling casualties, concluding the highest risk is during the summer and for riders aged 45 to 54; he also astutely asks why it’s up to an unpaid bike blogger to compile stats that Beverly Hills city officials should be doing. The Bike Babes Bicycling Classic will roll round-trip from Long Beach to Huntington Beach next Sunday. A young Riverside man struggles to walk again, nearly three years after he was hit by a car while riding his bike.

Cyclelicious asks what’s wrong with this picture, as road construction signs block a major bikeway. San Mateo County officials plan to improve a bike lane where cyclist Lauren Ward was killed in 2010; why does it seem like officials always wait until someone is killed to fix a problem? A writer for the London Mail rides his rental bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. An Oakland cyclist is killed in what one witness describes as an intentional hit-and-run. Sunnyvale could soon be the third city to adopt an L.A. style anti-harassment ordinance; nice to see former LADOT Bike Blog writer Christopher Kidd making a name for himself up by the bay. Sonoma County struggles through four cycling deaths in just five weeks — and Michael Torckler could have easily made it five — while over 200 cyclists turn out to honor one of those victims, former Sonoma State University Steven Norwick. Meanwhile, a local rider says cyclists would stop dying if they’d just slow down; evidently he’s an expert on the subject, thanks to one whole year of riding experience. Fairfax CA police crack down on scofflaw cyclists who blow stop signs in groups of 10 to 20. A Visalia rider makes a slow comeback a year after a devastating solo collision.

A writer blames bike sharing for escalating the mythical war between cyclists and drivers; that explains why no cyclists in cities without bike share programs — like Monrovia, for instance, ever have to deal with angry drivers, right? The National Park Service plans to expand access for mountain bikes. Raising your handlebars could reduce sexual dysfunction for women riders. A big-hearted former bike rider with cerebral palsy offers his three-wheeled recumbent to a disabled Utah man whose bike was stolen for the third time. Collisions are on the rise as Denver cyclists and drivers struggle to coexist on the road; actually, it’s pretty easy — if everyone follows the rules, no one gets hurt. Chicago Jews and Muslims ride together in a show of unity; I’d love to see a ride like that here. Chicago trains 100 to 200 new bike cops every year; then again, Escondido bike cops seem to be doing pretty good, too. Whimsical bright colored bikes reappear for the third year in Muskegon MI. Heartbreaking news, as a registered sex offender has been arrested for the murder of missing Louisiana cyclist Mickey Shunick, even though her body has not been found. Police and prosecutors — and motorists — are ignoring New York’s three-foot passing law. Fearless Bed-Stuy cyclist attempts to stop a thief from stealing two bikes, rescuing one. The popular Bike Radar website launches a new American version.

A North Carolina father riding with his daughter watches as she’s killed by a pickup while riding in Canada. A Winnipeg writer suggests lowering speed limits across the city to the equivalent of about 25 mph. Scandinavian researchers says the effects of inducing traffic demand by increasing capacity are ignored too often. After security officers tackle a young boy riding his bike next to the Olympic torch run, they release a report saying he simply fell down and rode off on his own — despite video evidence to the contrary. An insightful look at anti-bike bias in the media that focuses on scofflaw cyclists while ignoring the far bigger problem of dangerous drivers. Taiwan attempts to kick start a bike culture. A Canadian transport expert calls for loosening Melbourne’s helmet laws on a trial basis. A South African man commits suicide after being charged with the hit-and-run death of an 18-year old cyclist. A new study suggests Australia’s bike boom is a myth, as ridership has declined on a per capita basis.

Finally, a great pro cycling ad from Huffy, of all places. And seriously, if you’re an underage cyclist riding with drugs, burglary tools and a loaded gun, don’t ride salmon without a headlight.

Update: Cyclist dies from injuries received in solo Redondo Beach collision

One of the metal objects that may have caused Larry Schellhase to fall.

I’ve just received word that a long-time member of the Los Angeles Wheelmen died on as a result of a solo collision last week.

According to an email that was forwarded to me, Larry Schellhase was riding with his wife Cathy and some friends in Redondo Beach on Thursday. As they were riding on Catalina just south of Emerald, not far from the pier, Larry apparently hit some metal debris that was laying in the roadway and went over his handlebars.

The writer reports that he landed face first and motionless on the roadway, bleeding from the nose and barely breathing. Paramedics arrived within minutes and began manual CPR before taking Larry to the hospital, along with his wife.

Were these clamps used to secure a nearby termite treatment tent?

Unfortunately, he died on Sunday, reportedly as a result of a broken neck.

What appears to be Larry Shellhase’s Facebook page lists him as a graduate of Lynwood High and Cal State LA in 1961 and 1966, respectively. Meanwhile, the L.A. Wheelmen’s website shows him as the 2008 winner of the Jack Flynn Trophy for “long-time service to the club and to cycling.”

I’ve reached out to the author of the email for permission to use what he wrote, as well as photos of the debris that apparently caused the collision.

This is the 12th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, compared with 20 traffic-related cycling deaths this time last year, and the second in Los Angeles County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Larry Schellhase, and all his family and loved ones.

Update: Redondo Beach Patch confirms that the 68-year old Schellhase died as a result of injuries to his head and neck. Police are seeking witness; anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator Bill Turner at 310-379-2477 extension 2721 or email him at bill.turner@redondo.org.

Jim Hannon, president of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition, forwards word that one of their members thinks the metal objects that Schellhase ran into may have been clamps used to secure the tent for a recent termite treatment on Catalina Ave.

Update 2: I mistakenly wrote that this was the 10th cycling fatality in in Southern California this year; it’s actually the 12th.

Update 3: The Daily Breeze reports on Schellhase’s death, placing the time of the collision at 12:40 pm; he was on his way back from a regular Thursday morning ride from the Marina to Rat Beach in Torrance when he fell.

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

Seven-year old Redondo Beach cyclist killed on his way to visit his mother at work

Just one day after news was released about the death of a 51-year old cyclist in Riverside County, another bike rider was killed on the streets of Southern California.

This time, a 7-year old boy on his way to visit his mother at her new job in Redondo Beach.

At 10:28 am, a truck driver was backing up in the loading dock area of the Albertson’s market at 2115 Artesia Blvd when something seemed wrong. Stopping his truck, the driver — who has not been publicly identified — got out to discover Jeremy Perez pinned under the truck along with his bike; a sandal and broken handlebars were still visible under the cab as police investigated the collision.

According to the Contra Costa Times, Jeremy most likely rode through a break in the parking lot wall that neighbors use a shortcut; his mother had begun working at the store just days before.

NBC-4 reports that police are reportedly investigating the death as an accident.

“For the family, for the community, for the business here, for the truck driver, everybody involved,” said Sgt. Shawn Freeman of the Redondo Beach Police Dept. “It’s a tragic accident so we want to get the best and most complete investigation we can.”

In almost every collision, someone is at fault. Someone breaks the law or operates their vehicle carelessly. A driver may be drunk or distracted; a cyclist may blow through a light or ride without lights or on the wrong side of the road.

But on rare occasions, there’s no one to blame.

And this may be one of those cases.

It could be argued that the driver should have been more aware of what was behind his vehicle. But no one would expect a small child to be riding through a loading dock, and he would have been very hard to see through the mirrors of a large truck as it backed up.

It’s also hard to blame a small child for being in the wrong place. Few children have sufficient judgment to determine where they should and shouldn’t ride. That’s what parents and guardians are for; unfortunately, Jeremy’s mother was at work, and there’s no information available on who was, or should have been, watching him.

Ultimately, whatever blame there may be may lie with the property owner, who should have been aware of the damage to the surrounding wall that apparently allowed Jeremy and others to cut through the loading area.

In the end, this is a just heartbreaking tragedy.

And one that will devastate everyone involved for years to come.

Thanks to Vic for the heads-up.

……..

This is the 16th confirmed traffic-related bicycling fatality in Los Angeles County so far this year, and the 45th in Southern California since January 1st. It’s also the second bike fatality in Redondo Beach this year.

Long delayed news of Redondo bike fatality; cyclist rescued in dramatic Glendora mountain fall

I’ve never understood why the death of a human being on our streets isn’t news.

Sometimes a serious injury makes the news; often, in fact. I find stories about injured cyclists throughout the country almost every day. Unless there’s something unique about the story, I usually don’t comment on them; I have to write about enough bad news as it is.

Even when they’re close to home.

Yet other times, a rider is killed right here, and not one word makes the news, as if it never happened. Or didn’t matter.

And yet, every death matters to someone.

And every fallen cyclist deserves to be remembered.

Somehow, the death of 69-year old cyclist Robert Gary Garvin slipped through the cracks. Or someone, somewhere, decided it just wasn’t worth mentioning.

According to the Redondo Beach News, Garvin was hit by a black pickup at PCH and Agate Street in Redondo Beach around 7 pm on January 5th, suffering a “substantial head injury” after being knocked from his bike. He died eight days later at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.

Yet the story didn’t make the news until the police put out a request for witnesses a full month after the collision.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like it may have been a hit-and-run since the story says the police have identified a suspect. Yet another reason you’d think someone would have mentioned it.

Thanks to Steve Montalto for finding the story.

.………

Then again, sometimes the stories about injured cyclists are worth mentioning.

In a dramatic mountain rescue that was carried live on a number of L.A. TV stations, a sheriff’s department air rescue crew airlifted a cyclist to safety after he slid off Glendora Mountain Road around 10 am Tuesday.

Just a month after the death of cyclist Kevin Unck on the same road, a 22-year old cyclist, identified only as a Hispanic resident of Walnut, lost control of his bike during a high speed descent and plunged 200 to 300 feet down the mountainside.

Despite his injuries, he was able to reach his cell phone and call for help; without it, it’s entirely possible that no one would have known he was there — let alone that he needed rescue — until it was too late.

Remarkably, reports indicate that the cyclist’s injuries are not life threatening.

George Wolfberg, who seems to have his finger on everything bike-related in the L.A. area, forwards an excellent description of the morning’s events from Captain Mike Parker of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

(Note: while the story refers to the rider as a mountain cyclist, the footage on KABC Channel 7 appears to show a road bike.):

Mountain bicyclist rescued by Sheriff’s helicopter crew after 300 foot fall in Glendora

A 22-year mountain bicyclist lost control while riding alone down a steep mountain road Monday, falling nearly 300 feet down the mountainside in rugged terrain in Glendora.

The male Hispanic resident of Walnut, an experienced mountain bike rider, said he was unable to slow down in time as he picked up too much speed on Glendora Mountain Road at Glendora Ridge Mountainway in the Glendora area of the Angeles National Forest.

He was unable to stop as he went over the edge and fell a distance about the length of a football field. Injured, he called rescuers from his cell phone in the remote area at about 10:10AM. Surprisingly, he was able to get a phone connection.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, as did officers from the Glendora Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including San Dimas Sheriff’s Station for a mutual aid effort to find and rescue the man.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air-5 rescue helicopter and flight crew including deputy sheriff paramedics were in the area and found the man at about 10:45AM. Sheriff’s helicopter rescue Crew Chief Deputy Darrel Airhart lowered two paramedic sheriff’s deputies via a hoist, while the deputy pilots hovered over a deep ravine.

Paramedic Deputies Mark Desmarteau and Dan Aleman were lowered from the helicopter into position. They provided emergency medical attention, secured the injured man into a gurney, and prepared to have him hoisted up into the helicopter.

As Deputy Desmarteau was hanging off the side of the gurney to protect and secure the injured man, the deputy was dragged through trees and brush, but the injured man was kept clear of these hazards. The team was able to bring the man safely up into the helicopter, which must have been an unnerving but necessary experience for the injured hiker.

By 11:15AM, about one hour after being notified, the deputies were bringing the injured man into the helicopter. Soon thereafter, they flew him to an area hospital for medical treatment. Although injured, the bicyclist’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. The rescued man was very appreciative and thanked the deputies for their efforts.

“Given the terrain, we were surprised to see he could get cell phone reception, especially on the back side of the ridge line,” said Deputy Airhart. “It’s a good thing he did or who knows how long he could have been laying there.”

Parademic deputies said the more difficult aspects of the rescue included trying to get their footing and balance so they could secure the injured man into the gurney. Meanwhile, the helicopter rotor wash (the winds created by the helicopter blades) loosened dirt and rocks on the steep terrain, causing the footing to be more difficult and causing the deputies to have to protect the cyclist from flying debris.

The Air 5 rescue helicopter crew and the eight Search and Rescue teams of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department average about 350 search and rescue missions every year, making it one of the most active counties for search and rescue missions in the nation.

.………

This is just another reminder to always carry your cell phone with you when you ride. In fact, it may be the single most important bike safety device you own; if I had to choose between a wearing a helmet or taking a cell phone, I’d take the phone every time.

After all, I’ve landed on my helmet once in 30 years of riding, while I’ve used my cell countless times to report drunk or dangerous drivers, call in collisions or use the camera to defuse dangerous situations with road raging drivers.

That last point was driven home tonight when a friend of mine, Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News, was threatened by an angry driver who quickly calmed down once Joe started recording the interaction on his cell phone.

Thank God he came out of it okay. And had the presence of mind to defuse the situation.

.………

Today’s news took precedence over my take on Sunday’s I the Westside ride; barring any more breaking events, I’ll try to get my thoughts and photos online Tuesday.

Cyclist killed in collision with pedestrian in Redondo Beach

News broke yesterday that a 73-year old bicyclist has died of injuries following a collision with a pedestrian earlier this month.

According to the Daily Breeze, Eldon Johansen was riding at the intersection of Avenue F and The Esplanade in Redondo Beach on September 10th when he crashed with a woman walking a dog, and fell into the street.

The Pasadena Star-News reports that the woman and dog were not seriously hurt, but Johansen, a retired Palos Verdes firefighter living in Manhattan Beach, fell into the street and suffered head injuries; he died three days later without regaining consciousness.

Falling into the street suggest that Johansen was riding on the sidewalk, legal in Redondo Beach unless a prohibition is posted, which does not appear to be the case here. However, a cyclist familiar with the area says that it’s unlikely he would have been on the sidewalk, due to the wide bike lanes on the street.

He suspects it’s more likely that either the pedestrian was walking in the bike lane or that Johansen may have been riding on the wrong side of the street, both of which are common in the area.

Both articles note that Johansen was not wearing a helmet. While cyclists may debate the need for helmets, this would appear exactly the sort of slow-speed impact for which they are designed to be most effective in preventing injuries.

Police note that there were many people in the area at the time of the 7:45 am collision, and ask that anyone with information call Traffic Investigator Jeff Mendence at 310/379-2477, ext. 2721.

Redondo police threaten respectful crackdown on cyclists; Toronto bike-killer goes free

Not too long ago, a neighbor of mine came up to me with a question.

Every week, he said, on the same day each week, he’ll sit in heavy Sunset Blvd traffic waiting to make a left turn to drop his daughter off at school. And without fail, he’ll see a large group of cyclists riding east from the Palisades turn right at the same intersection — regardless of whether they have the right of way or the color of the traffic signal.

In fact, he’s had to jam on his brakes in the middle of his left as the leaders of the group blow through the light directly in front of him. Then he sometimes has to sit there through the light cycle, blocking the roadway until the riders clear the intersection.

Is that legal, he asked? Don’t cyclists have to obey the same laws as everyone else?

Uh, no. And yes.

I explained that there are reasons why riders in a peloton will keep going rather than stop, ranging from maintaining their momentum to the added safety of staying bunched together as they make their way through traffic.

But it’s not legal. And it’s hard to explain to angry drivers why they need to share the road when we don’t, at least not from their perspective.

I can offer every argument in my arsenal, from the fact that bikes pose a minute fraction of the risk that cars and other motor vehicles do, to statistics that show that the overwhelming majority of drivers don’t stop for stop signs, either. As well as the fact that most cyclists actually do stop for red lights, and that some cyclists think that going through a light is actually safer than waiting for it to change.

But the conversation usually ends up like this one did. “But I have to stop for red lights and observe the right of way. So why don’t they?”

Clearly, he’s not the only one who asks that question. And some of those end up calling the local police department to complain.

Which seems to be exactly what happened in Redondo Beach.

Jim Lyle recently forwarded me this very politely worded letter from the Redondo Beach Police Department Community Services Unit, which makes it very clear that they are prepared to crack down on cyclists if they think they have to.

Dear Cyclists,

The Redondo Beach Police Department would like to respectfully underline the message of obeying all of the rules pertaining to the California Vehicle Code while cycling through the city.  Increased disregard for stop signs by individual cyclists and by large groups or pelotons at several intersections has resulted in numerous calls to the Department for additional enforcement.  Please work with us in getting the word out to all bicyclists that their compliance will prevent a directed enforcement detail for bicycle violations in the City of Redondo Beach.

We wish you continued enjoyment toward a safe and healthy lifestyle.

Of course, we have every right to expect that they will enforce the rules equally against drivers and cyclists.

For some reason, though, few people seem to notice when drivers slow down without coming to a complete stop, while we seem to stand out if we don’t come to a full stop — even if we slow just as much.

So much for the argument that bikes are hard to see. And fair or not, we’re the ones that people complain about.

So be courteous. Play nice. And stop for red lights and stop signs.

Especially in Redondo Beach.

………

Charges have been dropped against Michael Bryant, the former Ontario Attorney General who killed a Toronto bike messenger in what appeared to be a deliberate attack last summer.

Despite video showing the victim, Darcy Allen Sheppard, clinging to Bryant’s car moments before his death, prosecutors blamed Sheppard for escalating the events, noting that he was legally intoxicated and had a history of violent confrontations with drivers.

Although how many people would keep their cool after being struck twice while waiting for a red light to change — the second time hard enough to throw him onto the hood of Bryant’s Saab — is subject to debate.

The whole event took less than 30 seconds.

Cycling advocates question whether it was really Sheppard’s temper or Bryant’s political connections that lead to the dismissal, though some say that Sheppard is the wrong kind of hero for cyclists, while others note that Bryant’s career is probably dead in the water now.

………

The fallout continues from the allegations leveled by admitted doper Floyd Landis, who loses support of his Murietta neighbors, while a bourbon maker demands an apology.

Federal official consider expanding their investigation into other areas — including the possibility of fraud charges — if it can be shown that money from Lance Armstrong’s former team sponsor US Postal Service was used to buy illegal substances. Meanwhile, Lance is running out of time to get in shape for this year’s Tour.

………

Glendale moves forward with a riverfront park, including a bike/pedestrian bridge connecting to Griffith Park. Evidently, you can’t just make a scraper bike; now there are official rules — and L.A. residents need not apply. A San Francisco judge will consider officially lifting that city’s misguided and unwanted injunction against bike infrastructure. Lose the support of cyclists, and Davis area candidates risk losing an election; that’s exactly where we need to get here in L.A. When leading a ride for beginning cyclists, always carry a 5/8” wrench just in case. A Dallas rider discovers a ‘70s era bike that apparently doesn’t exist, at least as far as Google knows. Also from Dallas, a blow-by-blow account of dodging Hummers and sorority girls on the city streets. Lack of a helmet cannot be used against a cyclist in Illinois courts. Safe cycling is courteous, but not always legal. A report from Holland MI says building more bike paths may mean more cyclists on the roads. How London can cut the rapidly rising rate of bike theft — note that a government program will pay commuters up to half the cost of a new bike. Britain’s Bristol City FC encourages fans to bike to their games; is anyone from the Dodgers or Lakers paying attention? A teenage girl is forced off the road by a speeding car and impaled on a barbed wire fence, as people passing by ignore her pleas for help. Paris plans to double its bike path network, while adding 1,000 bike parking spots. Toronto may be a boneyard of broken cyclists, but city officials don’t give them an inch.

Finally, a Canadian driving instructor offers advice on how cyclists and drivers can get along — and actually gets it right for a change.

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