Tag Archive for Santa Monica Mountains

Exclusive — What really happened in the Mulholland motorcycle crash that took out two bike riders

You knew there had to be more to the story.

The video of the now infamous Mulholland motorcycle crash that took out two bicyclists is rapidly going viral around the world. Soon to be joined by this view of the same collision from the perspective of a motorcyclist trailing the rider who rear-ended the two bikes.

Area resident Chris Willig forwards word that the collision occurred at the aptly named Deadman’s Turn on a section of Mulholland called The Snake by the motorcycling community, and the Rock Store Climb by bicyclists. According to Willig, and another comment from Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, it’s common for photographers and videographers to position their camera’s there to capture the action.

As Willig put it,

Photographers are there every weekend to capture the parade of cars, motorcycles and cyclists on this particular turn since it approaches 270°. Things happen at this point because drivers aren’t use to negotiating a turn like this.

Speculation has centered on a phenomenon known as target fixation as the cause of the collision, in which riders are unable to avoid whatever they are most focused on.

However, Byron of Bike Hugger points out the camera flash clearly visible in the trailing bike cam video, suggesting that the rider was looking for the photographer rather than focusing on the road ahead of him. Putting the best possible spin on it, it’s also possible that he was distracted by the camera flash, causing him to be out of position on the curve.

According to a source with inside knowledge of the situation, who prefers to remain anonymous, the bike riders were part of an informal ride of roughly 20 to 25 people, including retired pro cyclist and bikewear manufacturer George Hincapie. Hincapie was reportedly some distance ahead when the riders were hit, and may not have been aware of the collision.

This person was following the riders in a sag wagon when they got a call about the collision, and informed two nearby law enforcement officers who were having a car towed from a previous collision. They also stopped to pick up a participant in the ride who was between them and the scene of the collision approximately a quarter-mile ahead.

Good move on their part, since the rider they picked up happened to be the Chief Medical Officer for the Amgen Tour of California, who got right to work moving the more injured of the two riders to a safer position across the roadway.

The first rider to get hit was not part of the ride; he was an unlucky Brit who happened to fall in with the other riders at the wrong place and time. Word is he was not seriously injured; he was taken to a local hospital as a precaution and released the same day.

He may have been fortunate that the motorcyclist hit him almost directly from behind, cushioning the fall as he can be seen landing in the leather-clad rider’s lap.

Amazingly, the second rider, who was part of the riding group, walked away with just a few bruises. I’m told he was riding again the next day, albeit on a borrowed bike.

The motorcycle rider did not have registration for his bike with him, which is why it can be seen being towed at the end of the video.

No word yet on whether charges will be filed; however, my source reports that the police officers on the scene conducted a thorough investigation, including viewing the video of the collision.

But if charges aren’t filed, police will have a lot of explaining to do.

Update: The second video has been removed from You Tube, undoubtedly after realizing that it can, and most likely will, be used as evidence in a both criminal and civil court cases against the rider’s friend; thanks to Caritta for the heads-up.

Boorish behavior by bicyclists could lead to a CHP crackdown in the Santa Monica Mountains

There’s no excuse for boorish bike behavior.

Especially when it could lead to a crackdown on every cyclist in the Santa Monica Mountains.

A conversation last week with Leland Tang, Public Information Officer for the CHP’s West Valley Area, revealed that they’re planning to start ticketing cyclists for riding violations throughout the area.

All they’re waiting for on is funding to put extra officers in the field.

And to give bike riders one last chance to clean up their act.

According to Tang, the CHP has been getting a large number of complaints about group rides that refuse to play nice by failing to ride single file, not letting motorists pass, riding on both sides of the roadway and not allowing drivers to exit their driveways.

Never mind that I disagree strongly with the CHP on whether it’s legal to ride two abreast.

It’s not mentioned at all in the California Vehicle Code, and it’s a standard precept of common law that anything that is not expressly forbidden is permissible under the law. Not to mention that riding two abreast is safer under many conditions that require riders to take the lane, such as avoiding road debris on the right shoulder or riding on roads with a substandard lane width where lanes are too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle.

The LAPD considers it legal to ride two abreast anytime a rider has to take the lane, or other situations where the riders aren’t blocking traffic, such as riding in the right lane of a four lane roadway where drivers could use the other lane to go around.

The CHP, however, interprets CVC 21202, the law requiring cyclists to ride as close to the right as practicable, as banning riding abreast, reasoning that the rider on the left is not as close to the right as he or she should be.

Or as a friend of mine put it recently, “Your honor, I couldn’t ride any closer to the right. There was another bike there.”

However, that’s a discussion I’ve had with the CHP for some time now, and not one I expect to win outside of a courtroom.

On the other hand, there’s no excuse for riding on both sides of the road, especially on blind curves where drivers coming from opposite direction may not be able to see you. Or continuing to block the roadway and preventing drivers from passing when it’s safe to do so.

And it’s only common courtesy to allow other road users to enter or exit their own driveways if it doesn’t interfere with your own safety, or the other riders with you.

Cyclists at the back of the pack should be on the lookout for cars coming up from behind, and call out for the riders ahead to fall into single file if it’s safe for the vehicle to pass. Or signal to the driver to wait if it’s not, then waive them around at the first opportunity.

We don’t make any friends by needlessly blocking the road or inconveniencing the others on it.

Admittedly, I’m only hearing half the story, coming from the people pissed off enough to call to complain. And filtered through the views of the Highway Patrol officers who have to take those calls and deal with that anger.

But it’s clear that more courtesy is called for from all sides.

However, I’m told that the overwhelming majority of complaints stem from a single weekly ride. Fairly or not, a Sunday morning ride over Decker Canyon draws more calls than every other weekend ride combined — as much as 90% of the complaint calls against cyclists in the area, according to Tang.

In fact, Tang himself has sat on the side of the road and watched them go by, riding three, four or more abreast and blocking both sides of the roadway. Which is neither legal nor justified under any circumstances.

He assures me they don’t really want to crack down on cyclists. The CHP would much rather apply their limited resources other places, where they can deal with more dangerous violations by more dangerous violators.

But the sheer number of complaints stemming from this one ride dictate that they will soon have to do something.

And if they do, it won’t just be the boorish behavior of a single group ride that draws their attention. But rather, a crackdown on any violations by any cyclists, anywhere in their jurisdiction.

Which means you could get a ticket simply because someone else refuses to straighten up and ride right.

So if you know anyone on that Sunday Decker Canyon ride, let them know they’re about to face a hard, and undoubtedly unpleasant look from law enforcement.

And because of them, so are you.

One more quick note. A recent complaint to the CHP involved riders swearing at a driver and throwing objects at his car as he passed. I think we all recognize that as a common reaction to a too close pass by a dangerous or threatening driver. But thanks to the veto pen of our governor, a dangerously close pass remains legal, while hitting a car or throwing something at it is not. It may seem justified, but you’re the one who’s likely to face legal action if you get caught.

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Another bike rider has been shot in South L.A. The shooting occurred when a suspect on foot fired at the rider late Saturday evening near 92nd and Vermont, leaving the victim in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds.

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Bike Radar offers a look at some of the more interesting bikes at this weekend’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver. Bike Biz offers a full list of the winners, while Velo News wonders what it all means. And now there’s no need to get off your bike after pedaling to the slopes.

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I hear Saturday’s first-ever ‘80s Bike Prom sponsored by the LACBC was a huge hit; with luck, that may mean there will be a next one. CICLE’s Wild West Chatsworth Community Bike Ride seems to have been a big success, as well. The NELA and Occidental College Bicycle Art Show opens this Thursday, which is the same day Santa Monica College celebrates the official Grand Opening of their new bike corral. Santa Monica sets a March 16th workshop for the planned Santa Monica Michigan Avenue Greenway project. Redondo Beach considers a major redesign of the area around Hermosa Ave and Harbor Drive, including a two-way cycle track. If you can’t lose weight despite all the miles you put in on the saddle, try trading your electrolytified sugar pop for a handful of dates.

A look at the e-bike revolution at the Terranea Resort. A 68-year old man died of an apparent heart attack in Corona del Mar Sunday morning; police originally though he’d been in a bike wreck. San Diego cyclists get their first ciclovia. The principal of a Vallejo school died Friday of injuries suffered in a hit-and-run while riding in a bike lane on February 13th. A San Ramon attorney has yet to set foot in a courtroom nine months after he was arrested for the hit-and-run death of a cyclist. A Vallejo father campaigns against unlicensed drivers two years after his son was killed. A cyclist was killed on the coast highway in Northern California Sunday afternoon.

An Albuquerque cyclist wants thank the rider who helped rescue him when he passed out and severely injured himself. Still no justice for an Indiana cyclist after 2-1/2 years. South Bend considers their own three-foot passing law. According to the Boston Globe, disregard for the safety of cyclists has reached pathological levels among some drivers. A Mississippi newspaper publisher says education and common sense beat requiring helmet use. Explaining the concept of complete streets to the nation’s deadliest state for cyclists and pedestrians.

London’s deadly cycling zone proves fatal for 14 women and no men; all but one were victims of buses or large trucks. A UK cyclist suffers a broken arm in a road rage incident. A Scot cyclist for 53-years explains that riding single file isn’t always the safest option; something we need to convince the CHP. Town Mouse goes biking in Copenhagen. Belgium’s one-day Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne classic is called on account of snow; weather has often played a role in bike racing. Temecula resident Sarah Hammer won her second gold medal at this year’s track cycling world championships in Minsk, and the sixth of her career. An Indian environmentalist is riding across the country on a seatless bicycle, averaging over 60 miles a day to spread his message. Aussie cyclists are fighting back against road rage with helmet cams. A Sydney man throws everything but the kitchen sink — including a bicycle — at the police outside his fifth floor apartment. Over half of Queenslanders think bike riders should be licensed, though a slight majority think motorists are at a fault in disputes with riders. A Kiwi cyclist is lucky to be alive after being rear-ended at over 60 mph.

Finally, you do not want to get run over in Montana.

Trust me.

Owner of PV Bicycle Center died while riding in Malibu Hills last weekend

Just getting word this morning that Steve Bowen, owner of the PV Bicycle Center, died of an apparent hear attack while riding above Malibu on Sunday.

Bowen was reportedly climbing up a hill with a friend when he collapsed, and a passing motorist flagged his companion down to tell her he’d fallen. A physician stopped and attempted to revive him, without success.

I won’t waste your time trying to tell you more about Bowen or what happened to him. To the best of my knowledge, I never had the privilege of meeting the man; Seth Davidson of Cycling in the South Bay did, and writes far more beautifully than I ever could about the loss of his friend.

Read it, and you’ll understand why I regret not knowing him. And why the local cycling community will be poorer for his loss.

Bowen was the 74th cyclist to die in Southern California this year, excluding gunshot victims, and the 24th in Los Angeles County, matching the total for last year as well as the average for the past six years. And he is at least the third rider to die of natural causes in SoCal this year; it’s likely that others have, as well, but have not been publicly reported.

I include deaths from natural causes in the fatality totals since in many, if not most, cases, it’s impossible to determine if riding or a fall from the bike contributed to the physical events leading up to the death, or if they were what cause could have triggered a heart attack or stroke; however, that does not appear to have happened in this case.

But to avoid splitting hairs to a near-infinite degree, I now include all deaths from any cause other than gunshots in these totals, which is why they are unlikely to match the figures from law enforcement or highway safety agencies.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Steve Bowen, and all his family and loved ones. Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

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