Tag Archive for salmon cyclist

Update: BMX rider killed riding against traffic in Twentynine Palms Thursday night

A salmon cyclist was killed in Twentynine Palms last night.

According to the Hi Desert Star, a 32-year old man, whose identity has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was riding against traffic on the north shoulder of Valley Vista Road west of Sherman Hoyt Road at 8:31 pm, when he reportedly attempted to cross the road. Note: The coroner’s office lists the victim’s age as 31.

He was struck by a westbound car driven by 31-year old Ann Marie Platzke of Twentynine Palms. The story inexplicably says he was struck from behind, which would be impossible given that they were traveling towards one another.

Other sources suggest the collision was head-on, which makes more sense. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:03 pm.

Investigators found an open container of alcohol near the victim, implying that he may have been riding under the influence, which is illegal under California law.

Drunk or not, the victim should have been able to see a car approaching directly in front of him on such a flat, straight road. Why he might have attempted to cross the road at that point will remain a tragic mystery.

This is the 25th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in San Bernardino County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 31-year old Micky James Mroz of Lucerne Valley. 

My prayers and sympathy for Micky James Mroz and his loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

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

Now we have confirmation.

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

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

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

The other rider was uninjured.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: City of Industry cyclist killed in big rig truck collision; 15th L.A. County cycling fatality this year

Yet another bike rider has died in what’s turning out to be a horrible year for L.A. County cyclists.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that a bicyclist was killed in a collision with a big rig truck in the City of Industry around 3:05 this afternoon.

The unidentified male victim was reportedly riding on the wrong side of Valley Blvd just east of Hurley Street when he was struck by the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. The driver stopped after the collision and was cooperating with investigators; no other details are available at this time.

If you haven’t gotten the message yet, let this be a reminder to never, ever ride salmon.

Drivers aren’t looking for cyclists coming towards them; even if they see you, they may assume you’re riding with traffic, rather than against it. It also reduces reaction times, while dramatically increasing the impact of a collision.

This is the 27th bicycling fatality in Southern California since the first of this year.

Remarkably, 15 of those collisions — 55% of all bicycling deaths in Southern California this year — have occurred Los Angeles County, which has averaged just under 24 cycling fatalities a year for the past several years.

Maybe it’s just a statistical blip that will average out before the year is over. But this is starting out to be an exceptionally deadly year for local bike riders, and we haven’t even reached the peak summer riding season.

Tthose numbers aren’t statistics, they’re people.

And far too many are dying this year.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and his family.

Update: The Tribune identifies the victim as 55-year old Jose Munoz of La Puente. 

According to the Diamond Bar-Wlanut Patch, Munoz was riding east in the westbound lane of Valley Blvd when he was hit by a truck pulling out of the Alta Dena Dairy. Under those circumstances, it’s likely the driver would have been looking towards oncoming traffic as he exited the lot, and may not have looked back to his right before pulling out. 

Update: PCH claims another life — bike rider killed by Metro bus in Malibu; 2nd rider critically injured in Alhambra

It’s the fear of countless cyclists on Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway.

A door opens unexpectedly. A patch of gravel causes a loss of control. A pothole or too-close pass leaves a rider precariously unbalanced.

Followed by a deadly fall in front of unforgiving, high speed traffic.

We may never know why a cyclist fell in front of a Metro bus on PCH today. But the tragic result was entirely predictable.

According to KNBC-4, the 36-year old rider, identified only as a Los Angeles resident of “Latino descent,” was riding on PCH near Puerco Canyon Road at 1:50 pm. She reportedly lost control of her bike and fell into the roadway, where she was struck by an oncoming Metro Bus at 25019 Pacific Coast Highway, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The story does not report which direction she was riding; however, Malibu Patch says southbound PCH was closed for several hours between Puerco Canyon Road and John Tyler Drive, suggesting that the collision occurred on the west side of the highway.

Patch reports that a Sheriff’s spokesman said it’s too early to determine who was at fault. The story also notes that deputies were unsure if she was wearing a helmet; given that the victim was hit by bus, there’s very little chance a helmet would have made any difference in the outcome.

This is the 65th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth fatality in the past week. It’s also the 21st bicycling death in Los Angeles County since the beginning of the year, 12 of which were due to traffic collisions, and the second on PCH in the Malibu/Santa Monica area.

My heartfelt prayers and sympathy for the victim and her family. 

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Update: Malibu Patch quotes a Metro spokesman as saying they don’t know if the bus driver was male or female, what the driver’s previous safety record was, or whether there were any passengers on the bus at the time of the collision. Hint to Metro: when you don’t have anything to say, you’re usually better off not saying anything.

The Pepperdine University Graphic identifies the bus line as the 534, which seems to be more than Metro knows.

Update 2: A press release from the Sheriff’s Department confirms the collision occurred on South/Eastbound side of PCH.

Update 3: According to a comment from Alma Valencia, the victim was Marisela Echeveria of Cypress Park.

Truly saddened to read this report. The Los Angeles resident of “Latino decent” was my friend. Her name was Marisela Echeveria a Cypress Park resident enjoying a ride along PCH. She was an Ironman athlete, architect and was truley an angel taken from us much too soon. We are all in shock and pray for strength for the days to come.

Update 4: Many people have expressed grief over Marisela’s tragic death, as well as anger over a comment below urging riders to avoid dangerous roads like PCH. While I strongly disagree with her comments, the writer does have a right to her opinion, and has not crossed the line into personal attacks or blaming the victim; disagree as much as you want, but please keep responses respectful.

The best thing you can do to channel your anger and grief is to take a few moments to participate in the Malibu PCH bike safety study, which will be online through November 12th. By making PCH safer, we can help prevent future fatalities, and bring some good from this horrible tragedy.

Also, consider writing the Governor to express your anger over his two-time veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing laws. If the bus had been required to stay a minimum of three feet from the cyclist, she might have been able to fall beside, rather than in front, of the bus. And this needless tragedy might never have happened.

Update 5: Finally, some real news, as KCBS-2 reports Echevaria was training for an Ironman triathlon when she was killed on PCH Saturday afternoon. According to the station, she lost control of her bike when she was passed by some trucks and caught her handlebar on a parked car; she then veered into the bus and was dragged underneath.

This may be the first fatality we can lay directly at the feet of Governor Jerry Brown since his most recent veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing law.

In order for the trucks to have caused Echerveria to lose control, they had to be close enough to either startle her or interfere with the safe operation of her bike — although to be fair, larger trucks should give a hell of a lot more than three feet, due to their massive size.

And the bus driver may or may not have been passing too close, depending on how far she was thrown into the roadway after clipping the parked car.

If there are witnesses who can show the trucks passed too closely to her bike — and it sounds like there may be — the driver(s) can and should be charged with vehicular homicide.

Anyone with information is urged to call the L.A. Sheriff’s Department Malibu/Lost Hills station at 818/878-1808.

Update 6: According to Malibu Patch, the Coroner has ruled the death an accident resulting from multiple traumatic injuries; however, as I understand it, that does not halt the investigation or preclude charges.

Update 7: Echeveria’s death may not have been due to a close pass, and it appears it may not have been her fault, either. 

Video evidence has surfaced that reportedly shows her bike tire getting caught in a seam in the roadway as she attempted to go around some parked cars. More in tonight’s follow-up report.

……..

Clearly, it was a bad day for L.A. County bicyclists, as another rider was critically injured while riding salmon in Alhambra.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, the 44-year old rider, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north on southbound Palm Avenue at Main Street when he was struck by a northbound Mercedes Benz turning left from Raymond onto Main around 12:45 pm.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation; however, riding on the wrong side of the roadway didn’t help.

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.

Update — salmon San Diego cyclist killed after being hit by multiple vehicles

You knew it couldn’t last.

After going the first three weeks of March without a single SoCal cycling fatality, San Diego’s KFMB-8 reports that a bicyclist has been killed this morning.

The rider, identified only as a white male, was traveling against traffic on eastbound Balboa Avenue at the I-805 onramp shortly after 7 am when he was hit by a Ford Expedition, followed by two other vehicles.

While facing traffic may seem safer to some people, it dramatically reduces reaction times while increasing the force of impact in any collision. Despite the presence of either a bike lane or painted shoulder on Balboa, drivers would have had no way of anticipating a cyclist riding the wrong way on the roadway, with virtually no time to react before hitting the rider.

This is the 10th cycling fatality in Southern California this year and the 2nd in San Diego, following a disastrous year in which 12 riders were killed in San Diego County in 2011 — nearly twice the county’s six-year average of 6.8 cycling deaths per year.

Update: The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the first driver to hit the victim said she had the sun in her eyes as she entered the roadway, and never saw the rider; she pulled over after feeling the impact. The paper also notes that the victim was killed on impact and wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Note to Union-Tribune — bike helmets are designed to offer protection at impact speeds up to just 12.5 mph; at speeds significantly above that, it doesn’t really matter whether the rider is wearing a helmet or a propeller beanie. Not to mention the rider was hit three separate times, by three separate vehicles; if you can find a helmet that would make a damn bit of difference under those circumstances, let us all know so we can buy one.

Update 2: The Union-Tribune identifies the victim as 29-year old David Ortiz of Pacific Beach; thanks to billsd for the link.

Comments below suggest that the police got it wrong, pointing out that Ortiz would have been riding east from Pacific Beach to his work, rather than the other way around — which means he would have been on the right side of the road riding with traffic. 

And that would make it a completely different matter; instead of the rider being at fault, the first driver who hit him should bear responsibility for breaking the basic speed law by driving too fast for conditions; if she couldn’t see, she should have slowed down until she could.

Update 3: Bike San Diego offers a good follow-up on this case, agreeing with the commenters that Ortiz had been riding with traffic, rather than against it. And suggesting that this may be yet another case of San Diego police jumping to a false conclusion.

My prayers and sympathy for David Ortiz and his family and loved ones.

Update: San Diego TV station attempts to thin the herd by encouraging children to ride against traffic

Evidently, they have too many children in San Diego.

How else can you explain a news report on KFMB-TV encouraging children riding to school to risk their lives by salmoning on the wrong side of the road?

And if your child walks, rides a bike or a skateboard to school, make sure they travel against traffic and always wears a helmet.

The helmet advice is fine. In fact, helmets are legally required in California for all bike riders under 18. And walking against traffic can be good advice, although it might have been nice to encourage children to walk on the sidewalk, rather than in the street.

But riding a bike against traffic is not only illegal — bikes are required to ride with traffic — but exceptionally dangerous. While it may give the illusion of increasing safety by allowing riders to see oncoming traffic, it reduces reaction times for both the rider and drivers while greatly increasing the severity of any collision.

It’s bad enough that a local reporter got it wrong and gave children and parents the wrong advice in a mistaken attempt to improve back-to-school safety. What’s worse is that the statement came in the middle of a quote from a California Highway Patrol officer.

At best, it appears to give official support for the reporter’s error. At worst, it suggests that the officer in question is badly misinformed about bike law and safety, and offering advice that could put children at risk.

Hopefully, they’ll make a correction soon. Before anyone takes their advice.

And maybe they’ll talk to someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about before making a similar mistake again.

Update: As of 12:30 today, KFMB still has not corrected their report, despite promising several people who contacted them that they would do so. As a result, I sent them the following email.

Dear Adrienne Moore — 

I’ve heard from a number of people who have contacted you today to correct the dangerously false advice given in your report “Avoiding a big danger kids face on way to school.” They wrote you to asking that you correct the suggestion that children riding bikes should ride against, rather than with, traffic. 
This is both illegal, as California law requires that all cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic, and dangerous because it reduces reaction time for the cyclists and for motorists rushing towards them. There is no valid authority that advices riding against traffic in the U.S.; however, the placement of the statement within the discussion by CHP Officer Brian Pennings suggests that he provided you with that information.
If he told you that cyclists should ride facing traffic, he is wrong, and this gives you an opportunity to both correct his error and inform the general public how to ride safely with traffic. If not, you have done the CHP a disservice by suggesting that Officer Pennings is unaware of one of the most basic laws governing cycling.
Your continued failure to correct this advice puts the lives and safety of children at risk. I must insist that you offer a full retraction immediately before anyone is injured or killed as a result of your error; simply correcting the story online will not be sufficient to remedy the damage that has been done.
Update 2: I haven’t received a response to my email; however, the video report has been re-edited to say that pedestrians should walk against traffic, and skateboarders and bicyclists should wear a helmet. However, the online print version of the story still has not been corrected, and as far as I can tell, no effort has been made to correct the misinformation given all the people who may have heard or read the original report.
Update 3: I received a response from Adrienne Moore, the reporter who covered the story for KFMB, who apologized for the error and said the story had been corrected. However, the online print version still has not been corrected as of 10 pm August 23rd.

San Diego salmon cyclist killed after falling into traffic lane

A 47-year old San Diego cyclist was killed about 10:40 pm Sunday night after falling in front of an oncoming pickup.

According to San Diego’s KFMB 760, Jaime Ruiz was riding against traffic on the 1200 block of Hollister Blvd when he hit a parked car and fell into the traffic lane, where he was struck by a Toyota Tacoma driven by an unidentified off-duty Border Patrol agent. The driver was not cited; Ruiz was reportedly riding without lights or helmet.

While I often rail against press reports that insist on noting the lack or presence of a helmet in fatal collisions, this is a case where it might actually be worth mentioning — though not without more details.

Depending on the speed of the truck and how the actual impact occurred, this could be exactly the sort of slow-speed impact bike helmets are intended to protect against. Or it could be that the impact occurred at a higher speed or to other parts of the body, making the lack of a helmet irrelevant. Without more information, we’ll never know.

This is also a case in which the rider is clearly at fault.

While riding against traffic may seem logical in order to provide a better view of oncoming traffic, drivers don’t expect to see cyclists riding towards them in the same lane. It also shortens the reaction time required to avoid a collision, as well as increasing the severity of a collision by increasing the speed differential.

This is often a problem among immigrant cyclists, who are sometimes taught to ride facing traffic, rather than with it. While it may seem to make some sense on rural roads where motor vehicle traffic can be rare, it is extremely dangerous on busier streets.

It’s tempting to suspect that Ruiz could have been intoxicated — after all, most riders manage to avoid large stationary objects. However, it’s also possible that, without a light, he may not have seen the parked car until it was too late to avoid it if the street was dark enough, or could have been forced into it by a driver passing too close.

This is the 9th traffic-related cycling fatality in San Diego this year, and the 32nd in the larger Southern California area. Of those, the rider has been at primary fault in 12 of the collisions, the driver at fault in 18; the other two were undetermined.

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