According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, a 51-year old cyclist was killed while riding in the Jurupa Valley section of Riverside County on Wednesday night.
Michael Biel was riding on Rubidoux Blvd south of 26th Street around 9:40 pm when he was hit by an oncoming truck; he was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is continuing; no other information is available at this time.
This is the 44th confirmed bike-related traffic fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Riverside County; Biel is the 3rd Riverside County cyclist to die in just the last two weeks.
The eight cycling deaths in the county now equal or exceed the annual total of each of the last three years for which records are currently available, with just 7 bicycling fatalities for Riverside County in all of 2009.
If you think there’s been a lot of cycling fatalities this year, you’re right.
The seven counties of Southern California are on pace for 79 traffic-related cycling deaths this year, second only to the 89 deaths in 2006 among the last five years on record, from 2005 to 2009. And 11 more than the five year average of 67.8.*
Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties are currently on pace to meet their five year averages 24.2, 13 and 7.4, respectively. Riverside, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties are on a slightly above average pace, though it should be noted that Santa Barbara averages less than 2 deaths per year.
San Diego is having by far the worst year of any county in Southern California, on pace to nearly triple their annual average of 6.8 traffic-related cycling deaths.
To put it in perspective, that projected total of 79 cycling fatalities for the seven Southern California counties represents nearly 80% of the roughly 100 bicycling deaths that occur in the entire state each year.
Yes, we’re having a horrible year.
And those numbers aren’t just statistics. They represent parents, children, spouses, family, friends and co-workers who won’t be coming home tonight.
Or ever again.
*Fatality statistics based on figures provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; this years figures are based on deaths reported by the new media, and may not include all fatalities as some may have gone unreported.
Update: In response to a request in the comments, I’m providing the yearly fatality stats from the NHTSA, as well as the monthly statistics for this year.
NHTSA cycling fatalities for the seven counties in Southern California (listed above) from 2005 to 2009:
2005 = 76; 2006 = 89; 2007 = 64; 2008 = 55; 2009 = 55
Monthly confirmed traffic fatalities as of August 8, 2011, excluding shootings; dates are based on the date of collision, rather than the date of death:
Jan = 8; Feb = 5; Mar = 6; April = 5; May = 5; June = 5; July = 9; August = 3 (through first 8 days); Current total for 2011 = 46, there were two additional fatalities after the post about Michael Biel was originally written