Tag Archive for Riverside

Riverside bike rider killed in collision, driver suspected of drug use

It’s happened again.

A bike rider in Riverside has been killed in a collision with a driver suspected of being under the influence of prescription drugs.

According to the Press-Enterprise, a cyclist was riding west on California Avenue at Van Buren Blvd when he was hit by a 2014 Nissan Versa headed north on Van Buren around 5:40 this morning.

The victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital. He has been identified only as a 61-year old Riverside resident pending notification of next of kin.

The collision is still under investigation; however, the 52-year old driver was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence.

Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Det. Ken Madsen at 951/826-8723.

This is the 74 bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Riverside County this year; that compares with 12 in the county for all of last year. It’s also the fourth bicycling death in the city of Riverside since the first of the year.

Update: The Press-Enterprise has identified the victim as Riverside resident Ronald Williams.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Ronald Williams and his loved ones.

Thanks to Mark Friis and Carlos Morales for the link.

Riverside hit-and-run victim dies after being taken off life support

A heartbreaking week just keeps getting worse.

According to KABC-7, Riverside hit-and-run victim D’Andre Sutherland was taken off life support on Tuesday.

The 27-year old father of two was riding near the intersection of Magnolia Ave and Beechwood Place around 2 am Sunday when he was hit by an SUV driving north on Magnolia. The driver fled the scene, leaving Sutherland lying in the street with what police described as significant injuries.

He was taken to Riverside Community Hospital, where he remained on life support for the next two days.

None of the stories describe how the collision happened; however, KTLA-5 reports he was riding in the number two lane. Since Beechwood is just a single lane in each direction, that means he had to have been riding on Magnolia, which suggests that he may have been the victim of a rear-end collision.

A ghost bike was installed in Sutherland’s honor on Wednesday. As Mark Friis, Executive Director of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance observed, there have been too damn many of them required in the Inland area this year.

Police are looking for a silver or beige SUV, similar to a Ford Flex, with major damage to the windshield and front end. 

Anyone with information is urge to call Detective Felix Soria at 951/826-8720 or email FSoria@riversideca.gov. 

This is the 59th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in Riverside County, which compares with 12 for all of last year. Sutherland is also the 11th bicycling bike rider to lose his life in a hit-and-run since the first of the year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for D’Andre Sutherland and all his family.

Bike rider killed in Riverside collision; eighth bicycling fatality in Riverside County this year

More bad news for Bike Week.

According to the Press-Enterprise, a forty-year old bike rider was attempting to cross Van Buren Ave Blvd at Doolittle Ave in Riverside around 10:15 pm Wednesday when he was hit by a late-model Ford traveling north in the center lane.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 pm.

The Riverside County coroner lists the victim’s age as 32, and places the location as 1600 feet north of Arlington Ave.

While the article makes no mention of which way the victim was riding, Doolittle does not cross Van Buren, so he could only have been riding east. No explanation is given for why he was attempting to cross the road; however, he may have been trying to reach the bike lane on the northbound side and wasn’t able to get across the the six-lane boulevard in time.

A street view shows a 55 mph speed limit north of Arlington. Whether the driver may have been speeding or the victim simply misjudged his ability to cross before oncoming traffic caught up to is yet to be determined.

This is the 39th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth already this year in Riverside County, compared to just two this time last year.

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

Update: Riverside bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver; first SoCal bike fatality of 2014

That didn’t take long.

Just five days into the new year, Southern California has suffered its first bicycling fatality, as a Riverside rider was run down by a suspected drunk driver on Sunday.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 22-year old David Mendez was riding east on Central Avenue, approximately three-quarters of a mile west of Victoria Ave, at 3:47 pm yesterday when he was hit from behind by a suspected drunk driver. An earlier story puts his location close to the Olivewood Cemetery.

The story says he was riding in the far left lane, suggesting that he may have been preparing for a turn.

Mendez was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead half an hour later. The story reports he was wearing a helmet; clearly, it was not enough to protect him from the force of the impact.

The 20-something driver was detained at the scene on suspicion of DUI; no word on whether he was arrested.

Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Detective Ken Madsen at 951/826-8723.

This is the first bicycling fatality in Southern California this year and the first in Riverside County; there were 11 cycling deaths in the county last year. Mendez is also the fifth bike rider to be killed in the City of Riverside since 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for David Mendez and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Zak and West Seegmiller for the heads-up.

Update: As a comment from John McB notes, the Press-Enterprise story has been corrected to say Mendez was riding in the far right lane nearest the curb, rather than the left lane as originally reported.

The story also reports that the driver, 31-year old Christopher R. Banning was arrested at the scene on suspicion of vehicle manslaughter without gross negligence and driving under the influence. Any charges will be determined by the Riverside district attorney’s office.

Update: 15-year old bike rider killed in Metrolink collision; first SoCal bike death in nearly a month

We almost made it.

It’s been exactly 26 days since the last bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California. Lately I’ve kept my fingers crossed the we could make it to a full four weeks; a much needed respite in what has been a very bad year for SoCal cyclists.

Sadly, we didn’t make it.

And neither did a young Riverside man.

News is just breaking that a teenage boy was killed in a collision with a Metrolink train in Riverside earlier this evening; KCBS-2 originally identified him as 15 years old, but later removed that from their story.

According to Murrieta Patch, the young man, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing the tracks at Madison Street near Indiana Avenue at 5:58 pm Thursday when he was struck by a train headed from Orange County to San Bernardino.

A satellite photo shows standard drop-bar crossing arms on both sides of the tracks.

No word on which direction he was riding, or how he ended up on the tracks as the train was coming through. However, a division chief for the Riverside Fire Department speculated that there may have been a second train coming in the opposite direction after the first train had passed.

There are few things easier to avoid than a wreck with a train. Unlike cars, they can’t deviate from a set track; all you have to do is stop when the barricades come down, and wait until they go back up before crossing the tracks — regardless of how safe it may seem at the time.

This is the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Riverside County. That compares with 62 and 11, respectively, this time last year.

He is also the sixth Southern California bicyclist to be killed by a train this year, compared to just two in all of last year, and four in 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all his family and friends; this news will be devastating for whatever school he may have attended.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: A report from KNBC-4 confirms that the victim was 15-years old, and that witnesses said he waited for one train to pass, then was hit by second train coming from the opposite direction when he attempted to cross the tracks. 

Update 2: According to the Press-Enterprise, the victim was riding south on the sidewalk on the west side of Madison Street when he stopped for the first train. 

A witness who recognized the boy waved at him, and watched the wreck unfold. 

“We saw him riding his bike, and we just waved at him,” said Soto, who was heading to a friend’s home in the Casa Blanca neighborhood. “He stopped right there at the (crossing) light” when an eastbound freight train passed by.

“It passed by and 30 seconds later we’re still just waiting there for it (the crossing gate) to lift up. I see a train coming and oh, it’s another train,” Soto said. “I could see the kid go straight and I guess he didn’t look to his left and he got hit. It was a loud pop. At first … I didn’t believe it.”

The witness, who said he was scarred for life by what he’d seen, went on to say that the victim may have been fooled when the warning gate started to lift before coming back down again. 

“I thought something was wrong with it,” he said, “so I guess he (the boy on the bicycle) saw that with the corner of his eye and went straight. I guess now he’s in heaven.”

Update 3: The San Bernardino Sun identifies the victim as Serafin Gonzalez of Riverside.

Update 4: According to the Press-Enterprise, Gonzalez was just out for a quick ride when he was killed; he was dragged over 170 feet by the force of the impact.

He was described by his teachers as an extremely good young man without a mean bone in his body. 

And in an indication of a serious problem, the paper reports that Gonzalez was the fourth person in Riverside to be struck and killed by a second train after waiting for the first train to pass in the last four years.

Update 5: A vigil was held in Gonzalez’s memory Friday night. In a tragic irony, he lived on Railroad Avenue, paralleling the tracks he died on. 

More bad news — bicyclist killed in Riverside

As if the woman killed in Newport Beach wasn’t enough, the Southwest Riverside News Network reports that yet another bike rider has been killed, this time in Riverside.

A 60-year old man, who has not been publicly identified, was riding through the parking lot of an office complex at 1220 Palmyrita Ave around 9 am when he was struck and killed by a minibus.

According to a police spokesman, the Riverside resident was headed west through the lot when he rode in front of an occupied Sky Transportation bus. The driver was unable to stop in time, and the victim died at the scene.

This is the 54th bicycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 10th in Riverside County.

My prayers and condolences for the victim and his loved ones.

Update: the Riverside County Coroner’s office lists the victim’s age as 52, with identification still being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Salmon cyclist killed in early morning Simi Valley collision; possible Riverside bike rider fatally shot

Just when it looked like we might make it through a single week without another cyclist getting killed — which would have made it the first fatality-free week in the last 11 — comes word that two riders have died in the last two days.

One by truck. One by gun.

………

A 62-year old Simi Valley man died in a Thousand Oaks hospital less than an hour after he was hit by a semi-truck while riding the wrong way on a darkened street.

According to the Ventura County Star, Trinidad Nava was riding south in the north-bound side of First Street at Easy Street in Simi Valley around 4:35 am Friday, when a big rig truck made a right turn out of a driveway and hit Nava head-on; KTVA radio says the truck was leaving a car dealership.

The paper reports he was riding without lights despite the early hour; Nava was declared dead of blunt force trauma at 5:30 am.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, stayed at the scene and tried to help him.

The Star notes that the crash occurred just blocks from where the Simi Valley City Council recently rejected proposed bike lanes on Los Angeles Avenue at the urging of local business owners; however, even if they had been approved, they would not have made a difference in this case.

What might have helped is better education and outreach.

Many cyclists who learned to ride in Central American countries were taught to ride facing traffic, rather than with traffic; some Americans were taught the same thing, especially those who started riding as children in the 50s and 60s. Yet riding against traffic greatly increases risk to riders by placing them where drivers aren’t looking for them, while reducing reaction times and increasing the force of impact.

At the same time, outreach programs, such as the LACBC’s former City of Lights program, have worked to provide lights to riders who may not understand the need for them or have the money to buy them. I don’t know if such a program exists in Ventura County.

Either way, it’s too late to help Navi.

This is the 45th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Ventura County, following the death of Guadalupe Cruz in Fillmore this June; Cruz was reportedly riding on the wrong side of the street, as well.

My sympathy and prayers for Navi and his loved ones. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

………

Riverside police report that a man has died after being found suffering from gunshot wounds on Wednesday; the Southwest Riverside News Network says that he was found next to a bicycle.

Thirty-seven-year old Riverside resident Rene Barrientos Corona was found at Arlington Avenue near Fairhaven Drive in the La Sierra Hills neighborhood when police responded to a report of a man down and bleeding in the street.

Police initially thought he had been hit by a car before medical personnel determined that he had been shot; Corona died at a local hospital the following night.

There’s no indication whether he was riding the bike or walking it at the time of the shooting; it’s possible that the bike wasn’t even his. However, the presence of the bike and the fact that police assumed he’d been hit by a car would suggest it was.

Witnesses said a dark, four-door vehicle with a spoiler on the back sped away from the area where Corona was found. Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Ron Sanfilippo at 951-353-7105 or Detective Rick Cobb at 951-353-7135.

Corona is the third bike rider to be killed by gunfire in Southern California this year, compared to nine last year.

My prayers for Corona and his family.

Riverside police assault May Day cyclists; accused DUI hit-and-run driver Juli Ann Brown goes to court

Police in Riverside apparently make up the law as they go along during that city’s May Day protest, ordering bikes out of the street and onto the sidewalk — despite a local ban on sidewalk riding.

And despite the fact that the riders were just a block from their destination.

Then they forcibly stopped the riders by pulling a police car across their path, jumping out of a patrol car with Taser drawn, and tackling a rider off his/her bike.

Regardless of whether the riders may or may not have committed a traffic infraction, using a Taser on a cyclist or knocking a rider off his or her bike is a serious use of force, with a high potential to result in injuries to the rider — and potentially serious, if not deadly, consequences.

Any officer who resorts to such physical violence against department policy to enforce a perceived traffic violation is in serious need of training. If not dismissal from the force.

And any police department that condones it should be reined in by city officials.

If not a lawsuit.

………

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent sat in on Monday’s preliminary hearing for Juli Ann Brown, the woman accused of running down three cyclists in a drunken hit-and-run.

Juli Ann Brown had her preliminary hearing Monday in Judge Margaret A. Anderson’s courtroom. Starting the proceeding was an arraignment for an amended complaint. One of the enhancements was upgraded from 12022.7(a) to 12022.7(c), which suggests that one of her victims was over 70 years old. Naturally the plea is still not guilty.

Officer Michael Ezroj of the Seal Beach Police Department, first on the scene at the Taco Surf parking lot where the cyclists had gathered after the assault, conducted recorded witness interviews and collected physical evidence (pieces of the suspect’s vehicle). All witnesses stated that after hitting the cyclists in the bike lane, the vehicle had stopped a very short way up the road, straddling the lane marker, and had then fled. When notified by Huntington Beach PD that they had pulled the suspect over, Ezroj left the scene to identify and question the suspect.

Just minutes after receiving the description of the suspect’s vehicle, HBPD Officer Johnathan Deliema observed a vehicle matching that description travelling southbound on PCH. He made a U-turn and followed her in the #1 lane. While behind Brown’s vehicle, he observed the vehicle drift partially into the #2 lane not once but twice. Brown, the driver, then engaged her right-turn signal and attempted to merge into the occupied #2 lane, causing another vehicle to take evasive action. At this point, Officer Deliema hit the lights and sirens. Incidentally, this all took place at approximately 40 miles per hour, within a distance of less than a third of a mile.

Officer Deliema observed Brown’s slurred speech and unsteady gait, and asked about the damage to the right front side of her vehicle, Brown claimed she had been shopping at Von’s in Long Beach earlier that morning and discovered the damage when she returned to the parking lot, but had not notified the police because she was late to a doctor’s appointment in Huntington Beach. Asked for her driver’s license, she immediately confessed it was suspended. Officer Deliema initiated a Romberg test, to which Brown complied, and which she failed miserably.

When Officer Ezroj arrived, he noted the damaged vehicle matching the suspect vehicle’s description and also observed in the interior a small baggie filled with an unknown white powder and two short plastic straws. He asked Brown if she knew why she had been pulled over and she stated, “I was told that I hit a motorcycle or something.”

HBPD Officer Nick Nicholas arrived on the scene. In his two years with Huntington Beach, he’s administered an estimated 130 field sobriety tests, and he proceeded to test Ms. Brown, who claimed physical limitations with her lower extremities (which she had not divulged to Office Deliema) and was therefore excused from the walk-a-straight-line and stand-and-turn bits. Officer Nicholas also allowed her to fudge a bit on the Romberg, and she still failed it.

Then it was time to recess for lunch, and I had to split. Kinda disappointing to miss half the witnesses, but the exciting news is that Brown’s next scheduled court appearance is an arraignment- a very good indication that she has already simply agreed to whatever plea deal the prosecution has offered. Looking forward to that.

………

Could someone give these kids their darn bike lanes already?

Seriously, I think they’ve earned them.

………

In an interesting experiment, Malibu shifts street cleaning on PCH from Mondays to Fridays, in hopes of having safer streets for weekend cyclists.

It’s a small step, but could make a big difference — especially if they extend cleaning to the shoulders where cyclists usually ride. And it’s a huge shift in attitude from the formerly bike-unfriendly city.

Thanks to the ‘Bu master bike advocate Eric Bruins for the heads-up.

………

Bike lanes almost magically appear on a short, uncontested section of Sepulveda Blvd. Writing for Flying Pigeon, Richard Risemberg calls for a different sort of road diet on York Blvd; if you can find a copy of Momentum magazine, you can read Rick’s bicycle visitor’s guide to the city. Is CicLAvia headed to points east anytime soon? Bikerowave is conducting a series of bike repair and purchasing classes this month. Why the Amgen Tour of California cyclists won’t be riding Santa Monica Blvd through the biking black hole of Beverly Hills later this month. Celebrate bike month with Better Bike, who says the city’s bike route pilot project leaves a lot on the table. Culver City needs volunteers for bike counts on May 19th and 23rd. The Pasadena Star-News says it’s time to make bikeways the new freeways; I couldn’t agree more. The Claremont Cyclist offers his typically great observations on last weekend’s Chuck Pontius Memorial Crit. Join new LACBC affiliate chapter Pomona Valley Bike Coalition for a casual, 24-mile Art Ride this Saturday; can’t speak for you, but I’m loving the way these affiliate chapters spread bike advocacy to the far reaches of the county.

The San Diego woman who traded her car for a bike at last year’s Tour de Fat is still riding. The San Diego Reader says in a world where everyone dopes, it’s wickedly unfair for Floyd Landis; if he had just accepted his suspension instead of lying to everyone about it, it might have been a different outcome. Head to Paso Robles for a full four days of biking on Memorial Day weekend. The Mercury News explains the meaning of sharrows and gets it mostly right if you exchange “must” for “should” here and there. No, seriously — if you’re carrying rock cocaine, put a damn light on your bike. A San Francisco reporter documents his own harassment of cyclists, along with getting the whole concept of bike safety wrong. A disabled Sonoma cyclist is beaten and stabbed in an early morning assault. Right now, you can conduct your own personal ciclovia on the carless roads of Yosemite.

The Bike League and Sierra Club team up to ask Congress to stop giving cyclists the shaft. The surprising aerodynamics of bicycling; link courtesy of cyclist and CD13 City Council candidate Josh Post, who I never heard of before Tuesday, but I’m liking already. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske says we all need to stand up to biased anti-bike policing. The media doesn’t exactly look favorably on the car-free among us; link courtesy of Streetsblog. Gotta like this one, as U.S. Air Force cyclists take 2nd and 3rd in the Wounded Warrior Games; just the fact that they’re still competing says volumes. Even Houston is getting a bike share program. A fallen Austin TX cyclist did nothing wrong, but that still doesn’t stop some from blaming scofflaw cyclists; seriously, don’t these people have any shame? A Boston Whole Foods bike parking fail. Evidently, road rage fisticuffs directed at cyclists isn’t just an L.A. problem, as a New York driver beats the crap out of a bike rider who tapped on his car to warn him he was too close; note to motorists — if someone on a bike can touch your vehicle, you’re too damn close.

A UK police official says drivers who kill should face life in prison. A Scot cyclist barely avoids death just days after attending the Ride on Parliament. Great anti-drunk driving campaign from Fiat. Three Korean pro cyclists are killed when their team is rammed by a truck on a training ride. China’s Red Cross is accused of running a bike scam. Who needs a bike lock when you’ve got a bike riding guard dog?

Finally, drunken Florida grandparents face charges after towing their granddaughter behind their SUV in a toy car secured by dog leashes.

………

Let Wednesday’s suicide of future Hall of Fame and former USC football player Junior Seau serve as a reminder that you never know what’s going on in someone’s life unless you ask. Take a moment to reach out to those you love, and don’t take a casual “everything’s okay” as an answer.

There are far too many Richard Corys in this world.

And sometimes, hope can seem to be in very short supply.

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

Drunk driver gets 19 years for killing a toddler; 2nd driver gets 300 days for pre-fatal hit-and-run

Sometimes justice takes a long time. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of months.

And sometimes, both cases are just too tragic to comprehend.

In the first case, a Phelan man has pleaded guilty for the June, 2008 collision with a family of four enjoying a quiet bike ride that left one child dead just weeks before her 2nd birthday, and her 11-month old brother severely injured.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, the incident occurred  when Jesse Rolando Astorga fled the scene following  a drunken collision with another car.

Rialto police say Astorga fled from a fender bender with another car in June 2008, when he ran his 2008 Honda Pilot into a median on South Willow Avenue a few minutes after noon, veered to the right, jumped a curb and struck a family of four riding on the sidewalk.

The collision knocked the father, 28-year old William Dean Dinoso, off his bike, and ripped off the bike trailer carrying the two children. He then smashed into the 26-year old mother, Glenda Brooks, throwing her off the car’s windshield and into the gutter.

Brooks, who was unaware that she was pregnant at the time, later delivered another son who was born with developmental difficulties.

Astorga was videotaped buying two 18-packs of beer at a gas station just an hour before the collision.

According to the Sun, he accepted a plea deal on September 9th for five felony counts.

Astorga, now 31, would have faced 10 felony counts at trial, including murder. However, he pleaded guilty to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit and run resulting injury or death, and three counts of drunken driving with a 0.08 blood alcohol content, causing bodily injury.

He now faces the next 19 years in prison.

And a two-year old’s family faces life without her.

……..

In a bizarrely tragic case, a 19-year old Rialto man has been sentenced to 300 days in jail for a hit-and-run collision that severely injured an 18-year old BMX racer, possibly leading to his death in a separate collision months later.

In January of this year, Andrew Dean Murvine drove his pickup truck off Norco Drive in Riverside, and onto a dirt path used by pedestrians and horseback riders. He struck Tyler Rosen as he was walking along the path, then fled the scene, leaving Rosen with life-threatening injuries.

Remarkably, despite weeks in a coma, Rosen recovered from his injuries enough to get back on his bike.

Then on July 30th, he was hit by another car while riding, and reamined in a coma until taken off life support on August 7th.

According to the Valley News, family members believe he would never have been hit by the second car if not for the lingering injuries from the first collision.

As in the Astorga case, Murvine accepted a plea deal, changing his plea to guilty in exchange for a sentence of 300 days in jail and three years probation.

He had faced up to three years in prison.

%d bloggers like this: