Tag Archive for running red lights

Update: Red-light running cyclist killed in Glendale collision Sunday morning

More bad news on what should have been a weekend of celebration after a last minute reprieve for the Marathon Crash Ride.

KNBC-4 is reporting that a Glendale man in his late 20s was killed after riding his bike through a red light in Glendale this morning.

According to the station, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding at the intersection of Glendale and California Avenues at 7:10 am when he allegedly rode through the light at a fast pace, and was hit by a car. He was taken to USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, identified only as a woman in her 40s, remained at the scene and was not arrested.

No other details are available at this time.

As always, the question is whether there were any independent witnesses, other than the driver, who saw him run the red light. It’s too easy to blame the victim when it’s impossible for him to give his side of the story.

This is the 24rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in Los Angeles County.

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

Update: Evidently, there was another witness. According to the Glendale News Press

(Sgt. Tom) Lorenz said a witness at the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf saw the cyclist, headed south on Glendale Avenue, run a red light before being struck by a car headed east. “He didn’t even slow down,” he said, adding the driver of the car, a woman in her 40s, has been cleared of any fault.

Thanks to Rogelio Yanez for the link.

Update 2: the Glendale News-Press has identified the victim as 25-year old Melik Khanamiryan, presumably of Glendale. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link.

Bicyclist killed in Chatsworth after allegedly running red light

Just when it looked like we might get out of the 4th of July holiday weekend relatively unscathed, word comes that a bike rider was killed in Chatsworth last night.

The LA Daily News is reporting that 47-year old Chatsworth resident Samuel Martinez was riding west on Lassen Street at Topanga Canyon Blvd around 11:40 pm when he was struck by a Chevy Silverado pickup headed north on Topanga; he was pronounced at the scene.

A police spokesperson reports that Martinez went through the red light, making him responsible for the collision. And serving as a reminder why bicyclists — and everyone else on the roads — need to stop for traffic signals.

If you blow through a red light or stop sign, you’re likely to be held at fault for whatever might happen as a result. Regardless of what anyone else on the road may have done to contribute to the collision.

Which means that you could end up being the one ticketed for the collision. And that you, or your heirs, will be unlikely to receive any settlement as a result.

There is no mention of whether Martinez’ actions were confirmed by independent witnesses, however.

It’s a common problem that cyclists who are killed or seriously injured can’t present their side of the story, while the drivers who hit them understandably have an inherent interest in painting their actions in the best possible light. Unless someone other than the driver actually saw the collision, police should view driver’s statements regarding the actions of the victim critically.

Too often, they don’t.

It’s also possible that the light may have changed as Martinez was entering the intersection, leaving him unable to stop in time to avoid going through the red light or avoid the collision.

That is not to say Martinez didn’t simply blow through the light.

Just that such statements should be taken with a grain of salt if there are no corroborating witnesses.

Or sometimes, even if there are.

This is the 45th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 21st in Los Angeles County. Alarmingly, it’s also the seventh death of a bike rider in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year — far surpassing the total for each of the last two years.

And this year is barely half over.

My sympathy and prayers for Samuel Martinez and all his family and friends.

Heading for a bike press conference, and dodging red light running drivers in MDR

Okay, so I owe you all an update.

And I promise to get right on that, as soon as I can stay in one place long enough to write one. Too many meetings and other obligations have kept me on the run the past couple days.

And tomorrow doesn’t promise to be any easier, thanks to a morning press conference when I’m usually still checking the news, petting the Corgi — and no, that’s not a metaphor, even if it does sound vaguely dirty —  and working on my second cup.

Then again, if you’re not busy Thursday morning, you might want to head to the 7th Street side of MacArthur Park at 9:30 am when the mayor will be hosting a press conference to announce something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

And yes, it’s good news.

And no, I can’t tell you. Even if others have been leaking the news everyone was supposed to keep quiet.

I promise to fill you in later. In the meantime, if you can’t wait, check out L.A. Streetsblog after 9:30 am when Damien will break his paternity leave long enough to spread the good news. And maybe even quote yours truly if he can make heads or tales out of that rambling statement I gave him.

Meanwhile, here’s a perfect example of the benefits of defensive riding.

I often see cyclists run the red light where the Marina bike path crosses Admiralty Way, for no apparent reason. Especially since there’s seldom a long wait there.

Then again, it’s not unusual to see drivers run it, as well.

Most go through just after the light has changed. Which is why I make it a policy to wait an extra second or two to be sure that everyone is going to stop before I cross.

Then there’s this jerk, who blew through without slowing down, several seconds after the light had changed, and while I was already crossing the street.

If I hadn’t taken those few extra seconds, I might have been right in front of him. Not that I think that would mattered to the driver, who seemed to be a hit-and-run waiting to happen.

Running red lights on PCH: Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Chris Frost speaks out

A couple weeks ago, I met with Malibu Public Safety Commissioners Susan Tellem and Chris Frost, along with LaGrange member and BAC Vice Chair Jay Slater, and a representative from the Sheriff’s Department, to discuss safety issues in the Malibu area.

While there was disagreement on some issues, one thing we all agreed on was the need for cyclists to observe stop lights on PCH. A serious cyclist himself, Frost made a compelling argument that riders who run red lights in that area pose a significant risk to their own safety, as well as needlessly causing problems for other road users.

As a result, I offered to let him write about the issue from his own perspective, as a rider and Public Safety Commissioner. What follows is his comments, presented without input or editing on my part.

………

The City of Malibu has been inundated with cyclists who fail to stop for the required red lights on Pacific Coast Hwy. I am a cyclist myself and put in a great many miles out there amongst you. Many of you know me, as I have taken the time to poll you (mostly at the Trancas Starbucks) on your feelings about PCH. I have ridden with many of you, and know you outside of my duties as a Public Safety Commissioner. I have asked you about your riding habits, and from that have culled a pretty good understanding of what goes on out there. This, coupled with what I personally observe and experience, has led me to the following.

The red light issue has reached a level that is causing problems for all cyclists, even those who obey the law. Motorists have developed a kind of tunnel vision that does not differentiate one cyclist from another. That means that the law-abiding rider gets treated pretty much the same as one who continually flaunts the law. So when you get buzzed for no apparent reason, the cause may well be an incident you had no part of.

This is happening much too frequently now, and it has developed into a breeding ground for animosity and worse–injury and death.

No one is so entitled that they are permitted to ignore a red light. And for you top tier riders, this means being a role model, not the cause of an accident. I know firsthand what is like to lose a friend out on this highway; and many of you do as well. It changes the lives of many forever–including the motorist involved. Recently, I have had reports of riders who claim they are time trialing down PCH, and thus will ignore the red lights whenever convenient. I’m not even going to comment on this. These riders know who they are, and they need to change their riding style. This is completely unacceptable, and is looked at by the majority of the cycling community as unacceptable. There are stretches of this highway with no lights that allow you to ride without stopping. If you don’t like stop lights, this might be your alternative.

On the subject of T-intersections (e.g., Busch Dr,  Kanan Rd, Paradise Cove, Malibu Pier, Carbon Cyn, Big Rock): we have all taken liberties with these types of intersections. A whole pack of riders was recently written up at Big Rock for running the red light. This was not the case of the lead riders entering on a yellow, but the whole group blasting through a red. That ticket cost each rider approximately $400. Please take into consideration that the residents east of that light use the red light interval to exit their garages and driveways. If there are riders coming through, the drivers have very little time to see this and react. Reports of near collisions and angry exchanges between the cyclists and drivers have become all too common. I have spoken with these residents, and heard about too many cases of these residents being flipped off and having water sprayed at them. Come on everyone, is this the way we want to be portrayed? A T-intersection with a stop light is the same as any other and carries the same requirements as any other.

So in finishing, please stop at the red lights and stop signs. They are there for a reason. If you want to question why, I will be happy to hear your comments at a Public Safety Commission Meeting. Meetings are held at 6 PM the first Wednesday of each month at the Malibu City Hall. Bring your complaints, and try to have solutions as well. Don’t think of it as someone else’s responsibility. It belongs to all of us.

Please understand that I am a long-time cyclist, and will always stand up for cyclists rights. I am also a big fan of public safety because it benefits everyone, not just the cyclists. You are all ambassadors of our sport and what you do on the highway is viewed by other cyclists, motorists, residents, and–most of all–by the youth who will possibly be riders themselves.  So what kind of impression do you want to leave? Remember you are no more entitled than anyone else. And the responsibility belongs to every cyclist out there.

Please police your own sport. It will lessen the impact of having it policed for us.

Thank You,

Chris Frost
City Of Malibu
Public Safety Commission
Vice-Chair

………

The Reseda Blvd bike lanes are nearly finished, while the Wilbur Ave. road diet and bike lanes are threatened. More on Wednesday’s upcoming Streetsblog fundraiser and silent auction, with sponsorship from Ralphs, Trader Joes and my favorite American brewery. Eight members of the oddly, but somewhat appropriately, named Palisades Literary Society bike club follow the Tour de France route through the Pyrenees; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. From my friends at Altadena blog comes word of a $50 reward for a stolen Schwinn Voyageur. Witnesses say the drunk driver charged with killing a biking German tourist in San Francisco got out of his car, moved the bike out of his way, then switched seats with his girlfriend passenger before fleeing the scene.

Levi Leipheimer wins the Tour of Utah. A study shows cars really do make Americans fat. A Pittsburgh man makes his own bike map to guide even timid cyclists through the city’s busiest areas. An NYC proposal to clear out abandoned bikes threatens to sweep up ghost bikes as well. A ciclovía by any other name, as New York closes down Park Avenue to vehicle traffic. A Missouri driver ignores police traffic directions and kills a caring cyclist during a fund raising ride. An Oklahoma State student gets the beer-inspired idea to ride from Stillwater to Alaska, then actually does it. Framebuilder Dave Moulton opens an online registry for current owners of his classic bikes.

Raúl Alcalá, winner of the 1987 Coors Classic and the Best Young Rider classification in the ’87 Tour de France, caps a remarkable comeback by winning the Mexican time trial championship at age 46; thanks to Claremont Cyclist for the heads-up. In a twist on vulnerable user laws, Japanese courts rule that in principle, pedestrians are not at fault for collisions with cyclists on sidewalks. A cyclist is seriously injured after hitting the back of a parked car; residents blame the road, not the rider. A motorcyclist hits a bicyclist; for a change, it’s the guy on the bike who walks away. Great Britain’s Bikeability cycling proficiency program — and the organization behind it — could be on the chopping block. A British writer discovers Mexico City is surprisingly bike friendly. Join the campaign to keep Pat the Postie on his Pashley. Brit cyclists fight a proposed mandatory helmet law in Northern Ireland. London’s Guardian says there’s a bike niche for everyone. Coke discovers bicycling in Turkish with English subtitles; if the video won’t play, try this link.

Finally, police backup is required to pull an 84-year old great-grandfather out of a British bank to ticket him for riding on the sidewalk; meanwhile, a Salinas cyclist says sidewalks don’t belong to pedestrians. And maybe that gesture is actually a roadway blessing.

A simple proposal to make next week’s LACBC bike count count more

It’s bike count season.

From Nashville to Portland, and various points over, under, around and through. And next week L.A. will have its first count, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Counting bike riders may not seem like a big deal, but it will provide a baseline number of how many people ride bikes in a normal week – when students are back in school and people are back at work, so it accurately reflects typical riding patterns.

Then next year, we can count again.

That will provide an idea if ridership is going up or down. Which could indicate what effect street conditions are having, whether infrastructure changes are needed and how local laws and policies should be adjusted. In other words, the documentation we need to make things better for cyclists around here.

Unfortunately, I won’t be one of the counters, though I do hope to be among the counted. And I will somehow resist the temptation to ride through the same intersections repeatedly in order to boost the count. After all, a high count might look good now, but it could hurt us down the road.

I do have a suggestion for the LACBC, though.

One of the most common complaints that drivers have about cyclists is that we all run red lights and stop signs.

It’s not true, of course. I stop. And I’m clearly not the only one, since I frequently find other riders waiting right there next to me.

A recent London study found the same thing. Despite similar complaints from UK drivers, researchers for the Road Network & Research Team found that the overwhelming majority of cyclists — 84% — observe stop lights.

Another recent study was cited by a New York organization that calls itself the Coalition Against Rogue Riding — notice the acronym, if you want a little perspective on their perspective.

Their goal is to reign in the “epidemic of scofflaw cycling” and “sense of anarchy” plaguing the city’s streets and sidewalks. Yet the study doesn’t exactly support that:

In May the results a rigorous study conducted in April by the departments of sociology and urban affairs of Hunter College was issued. “Biking Behavior in Midtown” observed 5,275 cyclists at 45 intersections between 14th St. and 59th Sts. and First and Tenth Aves. It was found that nearly 38 percent of observed cyclists did not stop at red lights. Nearly a third did not use a designated bike lane. More than 17 percent were either riding the wrong way, or at various times both with and against traffic.

Sound damning, doesn’t it?

But look at it from another perspective. Nearly 62% did stop for red lights. Over 2/3 used a designated bike lane — and considering the frequent problems riders cite with cars and trucks blocking the bike lanes, it’s amazing that so many were able to ride within the lines. And 83% of riders did ride the right way; impressive in a city with so many one-way streets.

Unfortunately, L.A. cyclists don’t have any similar figures to rebut biased arguments from anti-bike fanatics. But LACBC can do something about that.

Long term, we need to work with a local university to design an effective, in-depth study of riding patterns in the city. But in the meantime, they could easily incorporate a simple study of whether cyclists stop for traffic signals into next week’s bike count.

At any location with a traffic signal or stop sign, in addition to counting bikes, just count how many stop when they should.

All it takes is adding two simple columns to the form. Or pencil in a couple headers in the margin indicating “stopped” and “didn’t stop.” And for each rider you count, just mark down whether they did. Or didn’t.

It might not be a scientific survey. But like the bike count itself, it would be a starting point. And it would tell us that L.A. riders are safer than many people think, or that we have a lot of work to do.

Either way, we’d know more than we do now.

……….

Dr. Alex asks if you’ve considered the consequences before giving that bike thief a beat down. GT shares the story and photos of his recent Eastern Sierra Century. Mavic introduces new magnetic pedals, which may eliminate the need for cleats for some riders. Evidently, Sen. McCain hates transit, while Sen. Coburn merely hates bikes. Instead of getting hit by cars, bike couriers are getting hit by the internet. Illinois considers penalizing drivers who recklessly endanger the health and safety of vulnerable road users, like bicyclists. Bob Mionske questions Ottawa’s recent crackdown on cyclists in response to violent hit-and-run driver. Finally, the State Assembly honors my good friend at Altadenablog for his efforts during the recent fire; couldn’t be more deserved.

A little this, a little that

A few random thoughts while I get back into serious biking and blogging mode after the holidays…

So this is why they hate us. Over the weekend, my wife and I were wandering through Santa Monica, in full pedestrian mode. After awhile, we found ourselves needing to cross a busy street. So like the safety conscious, law-abiding citizens we are, we waited patiently until the light changed, then crossed in the crosswalk.

Unfortunately, not everyone shared our patience.

As we neared the other side, an oncoming cyclist apparently decided that normal traffic laws don’t apply to her. Or possibly to cyclists in general, since we didn’t have the opportunity to discuss her motivation with her.

Instead, we were busy trying to scramble out of her way after she ran the red light — despite the fact that we were directly in front of her at the time.

Now, I’m not one to insist that every rider has to obey every traffic law. Sometimes it’s safer to break the law; sometimes, strict adherence to the law just doesn’t make sense in a given situation. So even though I stop for red lights, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you want to stop.

But here’s a general rule of thumb: When there are people in the crosswalk directly in front of you, stop your goddam bike long enough to let them pass, for chrissake.

Loopholes in the lawI was relieved to read in the Times over the weekend that the state legislature didn’t go overboard when they banned texting while driving.

It seems that the law that went into effect on the first only bans two-way communications; that is, you can’t read or write a text or email to or from another person. (Damn, that was a complicated sentence.) But you can still text or email a corporate site or public forum — although how a cop is supposed to know whether you’re texting another person, or posting to your blog, is beyond me.

So by all means, feel free to respond to this post, or bid on that Cervelo carbon frame you’ve always wanted, while you cruise down the 405 at rush hour. (Cruise being a relative term, or course.)

And best of all, the law only concerns motorized vehicles. So while it may be illegal to text from the saddle of a Harley while you’re stopped at a red light, it’s perfectly legal to do so while you pedal down Wilshire Boulevard.

So be sure to take your iPhone with you on the next Midnight Ridazz Vegan Banana Penis ride, and text us all a photo of the cop writing you a probably unenforceable ticket for riding without a license. Or not.

Imagine no more patch kits. Finally, I was catching up on my reading the other day, when I stumbled upon this small item in the December Esquire Magazine. Evidently, a pair of French scientists have invented a form of synthetic rubber that can heal itself — automatically resealing itself in the event of a puncture or cut.

The developers envision using it to make unbreakable glassware, or — far more interesting for us Angelenos with our crumbling roadways — mixing it with asphalt to develop road surfaces that won’t crack.

And as a cyclist, my mind immediately goes to tires and tubes that won’t go flat. Allowing us to leave our patch kits, tire levers and pumps behind, once and for all.

Although that would ruin the fun for all those people who seem to derive such joy from breaking their empty beer bottles in the bike lane.

 

Ubrayj — or El Brayjereno, if you prefer — describes how to stage a coup in the LABAC. L.A. loses it’s Bike Snob, but gains an Anonymous Cyclist. Damien wants to know what kinds of stories you want StreetblogLA to cover in the coming year. Personally, I want to know why no one has chucked a brick through those damned digital billboards yet. (Not that I condone taking the law into your own hands, of course.) And Timur, in his non-cycling blog, poetically describes his language skills in architectural terms — a perfect example of why I love his writing. Borrowing his metaphorical device, though, my German is like an old refrigerator box under the overpass that someone is using to sleep in, while my Spanish is like an empty Carona six-pack at his feet. And my French is like a broken bottle of Ripple in the gutter… 

A quick morning update

Just a short update this morning. Not that I don’t have anything to say, but it’s a beautiful morning and I just tuned the bike, so I hear the road calling. I’m thinking a quick run down the coast to Hermosa and back — should be roughly a half-century ride by the time I’m done. So if you see a guy in a yellow jersey on a black LeMond, please hold your fire.

In the meantime, the author of Westside Bikeside! has a good write-up on his life as a red-light scofflaw. LAist responds with a citation from the California Vehicle Code that indicates he might not be breaking the law after all, though I suspect most cops might respond with a different kind of citation. LAist also has an open letter to the community from Bill Rosendahl on “A new attitude and new culture of road sharing.

And this fat tire girl is looking for suggestions for traffic and red light-free routes around here (yeah, good luck with that).

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