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.