Tag Archive for Southern California

January was a good month, hero San Diego cyclist, Colorado bans bike ban and BMUFL comes to DTLA

Just a few quick notes to start the week.

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There’s good news on the safety front, as January saw just two bike riders killed in the Southern California region.

While even one fatality is one too many, this is notable because January has been one of the worst months for cyclists over the past few years, with seven cyclists killed in 2012 and nine in 2011.

Maybe it was the unusually cold and wet weather that kept all but the most committed bike riders off the road for much of the month. Or maybe motorists are finally getting used to looking for riders sharing the road with them.

Or perhaps it’s just a fluke. Although it seems to have continued into the first weekend of February, when we were blessed with near perfect riding weather.

And that’s not to say that riders aren’t being injured; I’ve seen multiple reports of riders seriously hurt, both in collisions with vehicles and solo falls throughout the region.

But whatever the reason, let’s hope it continues. After the carnage of the last few years, with over 70 riders losing their lives in the seven county region each year — including unacceptably high fatality rates in Orange and San Diego Counties — we could definitely us a break.

Hopefully a permanent one.

Thanks to Eric Griswold and Ralph Durham for the heads-up.

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A San Diego cyclist is being hailed as a hero for rescuing a 14-month old toddler from the collision that killed his nanny.

The anonymous rider was one of the first people on the scene following the fatal collision, and noticed the child dangling from the straps of his stroller underneath the vehicle. So she freed him from the straps and pulled him away from the SUV, where he could get treatment for injuries including multiple fractures and a ruptured spleen.

Of course, it raises questions why police have not taken action yet when they say the driver ran a red light — in fact, she allegedly hit the nanny and child while they were walking with the light in the near crosswalk, pushing them across the intersection to the opposite crosswalk.

And initial reports indicated the driver said she looked up at the last moment and saw them in her path, which is about as close to a confession to distracted driving as you’re likely to see.

The SDPD has a reputation for blaming cyclists for collisions while ignoring violations by drivers. Let’s hope that doesn’t extend to pedestrians in this case.

Yes, there’s reason to show sympathy to the driver, who reportedly had just given birth herself in the previous 24 hours.

But maybe that’s why she shouldn’t have been on the road to begin with.

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Good news from Colorado, where courts have ruled that bikes cannot be banned by local governments.

The historic mining town of Black Hawk, which has sold its soul to legalized gambling in recent years, banned bikes from the only street connecting local highways. Effectively preventing riders from passing through the city, and blocking a long-popular riding route that I’ve taken myself many times before gambling was legalized in the area.

The reason the tiny, 100-resident town gave sounded almost reasonable, as they cited the high number of oversized tour buses on the narrow mining-era streets, saying it was in the riders’ best interest to avoid the area.

Even if they had to be forced to do so.

Of course, what that really translates to is that bikes slow down tour buses and make drivers actually pay attention, so let’s get them out of the way so gamblers can lose their money and fill city coffers that much quicker. And don’t even consider limiting the size of buses so they don’t pose as great a risk to humans who happen to be in the vicinity.

Fortunately, rational minds ruled on the state level, as the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that bicycles are a matter of state concern, and that local governments can’t ban bikes from any roadway unless there’s an alternate path available within 450 feet.

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Finally, hidden in the middle of that fisheye helmet cam grab blow is a blurry sign reading (Bikes) May Use Full Lane.

No big deal, really. Especially since it’s lost in the construction site at 7th and Figueroa in Downtown LA, where it’s unlikely to be seen by virtually anyone at the intersection.

But it’s the first one I’ve seen in the City of Los Angeles.

And hopefully, far from the last.

Bike May Use Full Lane Sign

Analyzing 2011 SoCal cycling fatalities: Los Angeles — and door zones — may be safer than you think

Earlier this month, we remembered the people behind the statistics, the victims of cycling collisions on Southern California streets.

Now lets take a look at the numbers. And some of the surprising findings those statistics reveal — including some that suggest Los Angeles could be your safest place to ride. And that the door zone may be a hell of a lot safer than we all think.

But first, a couple of big important disclaimers.

These stats are based strictly on the fatalities that I am aware of, whether they have been reported in the press or have come to my attention in other ways. It is entirely possible that there were other bicycling-related deaths that I don’t know about.

These numbers also do not include non-fatal collisions. It’s possible that any given area could have had a high rate of injury collisions while having few or no fatalities. Or that one risk factor may result in a high rate of fatalities but few injuries — or the other way around.

The limited data I have to work with simply doesn’t show that.

Nor does it suggest why one area may appear to be more dangerous than another, even though I may make a guess at it.

And with that, let’s get on with it.

By my count, 71 cyclists were killed in traffic-related collisions in Southern California last year. That does not include another nine riders who were fatally shot — eight in Los Angeles County and one in San Diego.

Those 71 fatalities represent a dramatic increase over most recent years on record, with 55 cyclists killed in both 2008 and 2009. In addition, it’s slightly more than the five-year average from 2005 to 2009, at just over 68 traffic-relating cycling fatalities per year.

It also marks a return to the roadway carnage of 2005 and 2006, when 76 and 89 riders were killed, respectively.

Fatalities by county: 2011       2009*       2006**     Ave. 2005 – 2009

Los Angeles                24           22             24           24.2

Orange                       13           11             21           13

San Diego                   12           8               5             8

Riverside                     11           7              14            10

San Bernardino            6            4              11            7.4

Ventura                       4            2              11            4.6

Santa Barbara***        1            1               3             1.8

Imperial                       0            1               0             .4

As you can see, Los Angeles County has remained remarkably steady despite a dramatic increase in ridership, with an average of two riders killed per month. At the same time, while Orange County has dropped significantly from the horrors of 2006, it continues to reflect an average of more than one cyclist killed every month.

Meanwhile, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties all showed a 50% increase over 2009, though both Ventura and San Bernardino were still below their five-year averages.

At first glance, it would appear that Los Angeles County is by far the most dangerous place to ride in Southern California. However, L.A. is also the most populous of the eight counties included in this count.

Ranking the counties in terms of risk of death per capita reveals some surprises, with the eight counties ranked from worst to best:

County                    Population               Rate of death

Riverside                  2,100,516               1 death per 190,956 population

Ventura                   797,740                  1 per 199,435

Orange                    3,010,759               1 per 231,597

San Diego                3,001,072               1 per 250,089

San Bernardino        2,015,355               1 per 335,893

Santa Barbara***    405,396                  1 per 405,396

Los Angeles              9,862,049              1 per 410,919

Imperial                  174,528                   0 per 174,528

Unfortunately, there’s no objective measure of how many people ride bikes in each county. But surprisingly, these stats suggest that heavily congested L.A. County may actually be twice as safe as other heavily populated counties.

Those fatalities occurred in 53 cities and unincorporated areas throughout the region, with eight cities suffering more than one fatality last year:

San Diego   7

Los Angeles  5

Long Beach  4

Garden Grove  2

Redondo Beach  2

Pasadena  2

Riverside  2

Oceanside  2

Again, using the measurement of deaths per population reveals some very surprising results:

City                               Population                 Rate of death

Redondo Beach              66,748                      1 per 33,374

Pasadena                       137,122                    1 per 68,562

Oceanside                      167,086                    1 per 83,543

Garden Grove                 170,883                    1 per 85,441

Long Beach                    462,257                    1 per 115,564

Riverside                        303,871                    1 per 151,936

San Diego                      1,301,617                 1 per 185,945

Los Angeles                    3,792,621                 1 per 758,524

While multiple deaths in smaller cities may raise a red flag, they don’t really tell us much. Two deaths apiece in each in the first four cities could be a statistical fluke; just one more in any of the other 45 cities not listed here, and they could have made this list, as well.

It’s also worth noting that some of these cities, such as Oceanside and Redondo Beach, are destination areas for cyclists, with a level of weekend ridership that can far exceed their relatively small populations as cyclists pass through from other areas.

More interesting is the fact that the City of Angels, with it’s long-held reputation for car culture, bad streets and open hostility to cyclists, has significantly fewer fatalities per capita than Riverside and San Diego. Combined.

And at least in terms of fatalities, Los Angeles is over six times safer than bike-friendly Long Beach.

That could reflect any number of factors, from the possibility of better trauma care and emergency response times in L.A., to more dangerous streets in Long Beach — including Los Coyotes and PCH — that have yet to see the improvements that have made biking safer in other areas of the city.

But it’s shocking to think that you may actually be safer riding your bike in bike-unfriendly L.A. than the streets of the self-proclaimed most bicycle friendly city in America.

Then again, the real shocker is that L.A. could a hell of a lot safer than most of us thought.

Myself included.

Now let’s look at some equally surprising stats on how these collisions occurred.

Again, bear in mind that most of this information has been gleaned from media reports; in some cases, they offer a detailed analysis of the collision, and in others, barely mention anything more than the fact that it occurred.

We’ll start with the question of who was at fault.

  • Driver:  32
  • Cyclist:  28****
  • Unknown or both:  11

This is my own analysis of the collision, based on the limited information I have; it does not necessarily reflect how the police, sheriff’s or CHP may have assigned fault.

Especially since many investigative officers tend to be poorly trained in bike collision analysis and investigation, and often appear to be biased in favor of the motorist.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, I assigned hit-and-runs to the fault of the driver, on the assumption that an innocent person has little motive to flee — while recognizing that is not always true.

I have also assigned fault for solo collisions and riders hit by trains to the cyclist. Even though it’s possible that other factors, such as near misses by motorists or poor road conditions, may have contributed to the death in some way.

These numbers also err on the low side, reflecting only the information I have been able to document; in many cases, there was not enough information to make a determination.

And there may be multiple factors involved in any given collision, so these won’t add up to a total of 71.

So let’s look at some of the other numbers.

  • At least 25 riders were hit from behind — by far the leading cause of cycling fatalities in 2010
  • At least 13 were hit-and-runs
  • At least 12 were hit at intersections or driveways
  • At least 10 involved drugs or alcohol — and not always on the part of the driver
  • At least eight were hit while riding on or leaving a sidewalk
  • At least seven were hit head-on, usually while riding on the wrong side of the street
  • Seven were solo collisions
  • Seven victims were over the age of 70
  • At least six were killed after running stop signs
  • At least six were killed while riding in a marked bike lane or off-road bike path
  • At least six were killed in right hook collisions
  • Six 12 years old or younger
  • Another five were between the ages of 15 and 17
  • At least four weren’t using lights after dark
  • Three were killed by trains
  • Three were killed by out of control vehicles
  • At least two were killed by drivers running red lights or stop signs
  • At least two were killed distracted drivers
  • At least one was killed in a left cross
  • One was killed by a truck backing into a loading bay
  • One was killed, at least in part, due to poorly designed infrastructure
  • And just one was killed as a result of a dooring

Stop and think about that.

For decades, we’ve been taught that the door zone is one of the most dangerous places to ride; vehicular cyclists often refer to it as the death zone.

Yet these stats show just the opposite. You are far more likely to be killed in a hit-from-behind collision or at an intersection than you are by getting doored. And yet, the solution we’re invariably taught is to ride in the traffic lane, directly in front of traffic coming up from behind.

Maybe that’s because so many cyclists are heeding that advice and avoiding the door zone, while placing themselves at greater risk of getting hit from behind. Or maybe because hit-from-behind collisions tend to occur at higher speeds, reducing survivability, while doorings tend to be relatively slow speed collisions that are more likely to result in injury than death — especially if the rider is wearing a helmet to protect from head injuries in a fall.

And that’s not to say that riding in the door zone is safe. But it may be far less deadly than we have been lead to believe.

Of course, that’s not the only conclusion that jumps out from these numbers.

Like far too many drivers are willing to flee the scene, leaving their victims to die in the street. Too many cyclists run stop signs — especially when other vehicles are present.

Sidewalks remain dangerous places for cyclists, particularly where they intersect with streets and driveways.

Riders can lower their risk simply by riding on the right side of the road and using lights after dark. And staying of the roads after drinking or using drugs.

Ditto for stopping for trains; once the warning signals chime and the gates drop, stay the hell off the tracks. And that goes for drivers trying to beat a train, as well.

Bike lanes are no guarantee of safety. Yet there were fewer cyclists killed in bike lanes than on sidewalks and crosswalks, and far fewer than on streets without them. But that may just speak to the scarcity of bike lanes in most of Southern California.

Then there’s the single most glaring conclusion we can make from these fatalities.

Too many people have died, and continue to die, on our streets.

One is one too many; 71 is an obscenity.

And it’s clearly headed in the wrong direction.

Update: in response to one of the comments to this post, I’ve added information on how many of the victims were under 18; six riders were 12 or under when they were killed, while another five were aged 15 to 17. In addition, seven of the victims were over the age of 70.

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*Most recent year currently on record

**Worst of the five years on record

***I will drop Santa Barbara County from this count next year, to reflect the 7-county area included in the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG)

****Includes solo collisions and collisions with trains

In memoriam 2011; part 2

7/2/11 A 68-year old cyclist who was not publicly identified died after being rear-end by a driver on PCH in Long Beach; the driver was questioned and released.

7/4/11 32-year old George Loudon was run down from behind by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike home from work at 2:30 am near Dockweiler Beach.

7/4/11 39-year old musician Stephen Pyle was critically injured when he was struck by a car after riding into the street from between two parked cars in San Pedro; he was removed from life support and died the next day.

7/6/11 67-year old Louis Gabor suffered critical injuries when he was hit by a pickup that may have run a red light in Long Beach; he died of his injuries on 7/19/11. No word on whether the driver was ever charged.

7/14/11 4-year old Sabastian Parada was hit by a car while crossing the street near his home in Desert Hot Springs; he was taken off life support two days later.

7/16/2011 17-year old Jesus Lopez was shot multiple times as he tried to flee from suspected gang members in Montecito Heights.

7/18/11 23-year old Christopher Sop was found dead on the side of the road in unincorporated Big Bear following an apparent solo riding accident; officers concluded that lost control of his bike and hit his head on a rock.

7/19/11 63-year old Victor Rodriguez was collateral damage as two drivers apparently competed for lane space in Downtown L.A. in what was initially described as a road rage incident; Philip Goldburn Williams faces a charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide without gross negligence.

7/22/11 Jose Garcia-Espinoza was killed in Moreno Valley when a 64-year old driver may have suffered a seizure before losing control of his motor home, fatally striking the rider before hitting a utility pole.

7/23/11 An unidentified Hispanic cyclist was hit head-on after riding against traffic on a busy highway; local reports blamed the victim for riding after dark and not wearing a helmet, as well.

7/27/11 64-year old Arthur John Jacobs was killed in a hit-and-run while riding in North San Diego County. After a brief search, Julianne Elyse Thompson was found hiding under some nearby bushes; she was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and drunk driving.

7/29/11 16-year old Bernard Cota suffered severe brain injuries when he was hit by a car while while riding to see a friend in Rancho Cucamonga; his organs where donated after being taken off life support six days later.

8/3/11 51-year old Michael Biel died when he was hit by an oncoming truck in Jurupa Valley; no word on whether he was riding on the wrong side or if the truck had strayed into his lane.

8/5/11 19-year old Cody Wessel was killed in Lake Elsinore after riding his BMX bike in front of an oncoming van after leaving work.

8/5/11 7-year old Jeremy Perez was riding to visit his mother at her new job at a Redondo Beach Albertsons when he rode behind a truck backing into the store’s loading dock.

8/10/11 42-year old Riverside Sheriff’s Detective Duane Parkinson was riding off-duty in Irvine when he was hit from behind by a Mercedes Benz SUV; Parkinson left behind a wife and three children.

8/13/11 12-year old Zachariah Houck was hit and killed In Hesperia after reportedly riding through a stop sign into the path of a Lincoln Navigator; the driver reportedly was unable to avoid Houck.

8/23/11 50-year old Enrique Lemus Bautista was killed in on Avalon Blvd in South Los Angeles; the suspect vehicle may have been a black BMW.

8/27/11 Nathan “Bud” Tippee and his wife were participating in a Saturday morning group ride when two cars collided in a Lancaster intersection and spun out of control, injuring them both; Nathan died of his injuries several days later.

9/18/11 24-year old Oregon resident Jocelyn Young fell off her bike in Pasadena and was run over by a passing car, which fled the scene; a witness followed Nicholas Avila to his home, where he was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving.

9/22/11 61-year old Alan Deane was riding on a Pasadena sidewalk when he rode out into the crosswalk and was hit and killed by a left turning car; the collision was ruled an accident by the coroner. Deane was a musician who had performed with the Captain & Tennille, The Grass Roots and Johnny Rivers, among others.

9/27/11 79-year old Jerzy Nowak was found dead on the side of the road in Escondido; there was no evidence of any other vehicle involved.

9/28/11 30-year old Justin Newman suffered a massive head injury after being doored in San Diego and died two days later; no word on whether the driver was charged.

10/1/11 29-year old Reynard Lionell Fulton was shot and killed while riding his bike in Long Beach.

10/2/11 74-year old Vernon Slade was killed when he was hit by a Dodge Ram truck in Moreno Valley at 3:27 am.

10/8/11 27-year old Omar Gomez was hit from behind in Chino Hills just days after Governor Brown vetoed the states proposed three foot passing law; the driver reportedly looked away from the road just moments before striking Gomez.

10/13/11 21-year old Disneyland employee Margaret Conway, known as Maggie May to her friends, was killed when she was struck from behind by a Ford SUV as she crossed an Anaheim overpass on her way home from work; no word on why the driver didn’t see her on the well-lit bridge.

10/16/11 28-year old Mark Leones was leading a group of riders on a steep, high-speed descent when his wheel caught a groove by the gutter and he lost control; he suffered multiple head injuries after striking a concrete embankment and died at a hospital soon after.

10/17/11 19-year old Genaro Ramirez was shot from a passing car and killed while riding in Downey at 3 am.

10/18/11 Juan Z. Gutierrez was shot and killed while riding his bike in Pico Rivera at 1:25 am, less than 24 hours and 10 miles from where Ramirez died.

10/26/11 44-year old Francisco Donato was fatally injured in Chino when 18-year old Gerardo Mendez attempted to pass another vehicle by driving his massive Yukon SUV through the bike lane Donato was riding in. Donato died two days later; no word on charges against the driver.

11/3/11 Sherri Norton was riding in Santiago Canyon when she reportedly made a 90 degree turn to her left to go back to meet her riding partner, and was struck by a car travelling at 50 mph. She died two days later, and many riders question whether the collision actually occurred the way it was described in the press.

11/5/11 51-year old Robert (Roberto) Hyndman died when he lost control of his bike while riding with his brother on a steep decent on Los Flores Canyon during the Rapha Gentlmen’s Ride.

11/12/11 35-year old Romeo Jimenez-Zavaleta was right-hooked by an Orange County OCTA bus while riding in a Laguna Hills crosswalk; a reader reports that weather conditions may have been a factor.

11/24/11 6-year old Anthony Martinez was killed while riding his bike in Oxnard on Thanksgiving Day when he was hit by a neighbor’s truck after being forced to ride around a commercial truck that was blocking the sidewalk.

12/3/11 65-year old Hollywood writer/producer Carol Schreder was riding on Mulholland Highway in the Malibu Hills when she was struck by a van pulling a trailer, which reportedly jackknifed when forced to stop suddenly; however, several people reported the vehicle was speeding and driving recklessly just moments before the fatal collision.

12/3/11 An unidentified 57-year old man was hit and killed by a passing freight train as he rode slowly across the tracks.

12/13/11 47-year old Randy Isaacs was killed in a Lake Forest hit-and-run while riding in the crosswalk; he was riding on the sidewalk for the few blocks to his home after kissing his children, who were staying at his parent house, good night.

12/28/11 44-year old Gabriel Perez was dragged half-a-block to his death in a Pomona hit-and-run when he was hit by an SUV while riding across an intersection; Chino resident Rodger Allen Karcher was arrested on a charge of hit-and-run causing death after turning himself in the next day.

12/29/11 14-year old Albert Nguyen was killed in a right hook as he rode off the sidewalk into the path of a turning car; he died in the hospital on New Years Day.

Finally, a CHP report indicated that another cyclist was killed in East Los Angeles on 6/20/11; however, I have been unable to confirm the fatality or get any details.

It is also important to note that these are only the fatalities that I am aware of, whether they were reported in the press or sent to me directly. It is entirely possible — in fact, likely — that other deaths occurred last year which I am unaware of; as a case in point, I only learned about the death of 4-year old Sabastian Parada today while researching another fatality.

Click here for Part 1.

My sympathy and prayers to all the victims and their loved ones.

Update: In memoriam 2011; part 1

1/3/11 48-year old Joseph Powers lost control of his bike while rounding a curve at an estimated 30 mph on Highway 150 in the Carpinteria Valley, succumbing to his injuries three days later.

1/5/11 69-year old Robert Gary Gavin suffered a serious head injury after being hit by a black Ford pickup while turning onto PCH in Redondo Beach, dying of his injuries on 1/13.

1/9/11 44-year old masters racer Kevin Unck lost control of his bike on a group decent on Glendora Mountain Road and skidded into the path of an oncoming car.

1/14/11 13-year old Kayel Smith was riding against traffic in Lake Elsinore when he veered right to cross the road, and was struck from behind by a vehicle on the opposite side; Kavel suffered major head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

1/17/11 57-year old Gary Garvin was killed in a solo collision when he rode his ebike into a tree in Oceanside.

1/18/11 An unidentified 80-year old man was killed in a right hook while riding on a sidewalk by a truck exiting a Garden Grove shopping center.

1/19/11 8-year old Andrew Brumback died when he was hit by a car while riding to school in Westminster; Anita Sue Cherry was charged with his death.

1/19/11 An unidentified cyclist was killed while trying to beat the Metro Blue Line across the tracks in Long Beach.

1/21/11 37-year old Steven Garner lost his life when he allegedly swerved across the center line to strike a flatbed truck travelling in the opposite direction; CHP investigators said he appeared to be under the influence.

1/25/11 16-year old Jose Angel Dominguez was fatally shot while riding his bike in Pomona.

2/1/11 48-year old Fernando Santiago was struck and killed while riding through the Los Coyotes Traffic Circle in Long Beach.

2/5/11 60-year old Marberry Ben Acree was hit by a semi-truck exiting I-15 while riding in a poorly designed bike lane in San Diego, and died at the scene.

2/13/11 44-year old Suntat Peverly was killed when the driver of a street sweeper fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into the San Diego bike lane Peverly was riding in.

2/16/11 A 50-year old transient and registered sex offender was fatally injured when he was hit by a VW Beetle while crossing an intersection in Fountain Valley; he was wearing dark clothes on a black bike with no lights or reflectors.

2/21/11 41-year old triathlete Amine Britel was hit from behind while riding in a bike lane in Newport Beach; driver Danae Marie Miller was allegedly drunk and texting at the time of the collision.

3/5/11 40-year old Jose Luis Carmona was killed in a hit-and-run collision while walking his bike alongside PCH in Ventura County; Ventura resident Shannon Richard pleaded no contest to hit-and-run in the death.

3/6/11 73-year old Ignacio Manriques Sanchez was killed in Lomita when a motorist drove up onto the sidewalk he was riding on and struck him from behind.

3/11/11 26-year old Roberto Garcia suffered fatal injuries while crossing a railroad track in Riverside; after waiting for the train to pass, he started across the tracks and was hit by a second train passing in the opposite direction.

3/18/11 56-year old Leonardo Antonio Florez died in an early morning rear-end collision in Long Beach; Florez was reportedly riding without lights.

3/28/11 18-year old David Mendez was found lying next to his bike on the side of the road in Oceanside suffering from severe head injuries, and died the next day; Herman Gozalez of Oceanside was later booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and felony DUI.

4/10/11 47-year old endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman was hit from behind while riding on PCH in Leucadia, the driver fled the scene without slowing down; Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was sentenced in September to three years for hit-and-run after turning himself in.

4/14/11 39-year old Travis Carroll was hit head-on in Bermuda Dunes while riding without lights on the wrong side of the street without lights

4/17/11 28-year old Manuel Santizo was knocked off his bike in Silver Lake, then shot and killed; despite initial suspicion that it was a gang shooting, police later determined it resulted from a dispute over a woman.

4/20/11 17-year old German Alex Romero was fatally injured in a hit-and-run when he was struck from behind by a speeding car while riding with a friend on DeSoto Avenue in the West Valley; Dominiqu Rush was charged for the death and fleeing the scene, while her father Steven was charged with assisting in the cover-up.

4/22/11 63-year old Nemesio Herrera was found dead on the side of the road in Coachella; despite initial suspicion that he was the victim of a hit-and-run, authorities concluded that he had crashed into a light pole while riding a bike with no brakes.

4/22/11 12-year old honor student Shantrel Kailyn Williams was riding on the sidewalk in front of her home in Compton when she rode into the street to turn around, and was struck by a car driven by Thomas Abraham Long. Long was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence; Shantrel died after being taken off life support on 5/1/11.

4/29/11 21-year old Jordan Hickey was shot and killed in National City; the developmentally disabled man did not drive and rode his bike everywhere; at last report, there were no suspects in the case, or any apparent motive for the shooting.

5/11/11 20-year old Nick Haverland was hit from behind while on his way to take a final exam at Ventura College; Satnam Singh faces a second degree murder charge for the drunken rampage that left five additional people injured, including two additional cyclists.

5/15/11 25-year old Hung Khac Do was killed in a Fountain Valley hit-and-run; Adam Garrett was arrested for the crime after calling police pretending to be a witness.

5/16/11 91-year old Fred Walsh died when he was struck by a pickup in Riverside; he died in the hospital eight days later.

5/19/11 71-year old Eduardo Perez lost his life in a Canoga Park hit-and-run when he was right hooked while riding in the crosswalk; to the best of my knowledge, no arrest has been made.

5/31/11 40-year old Nick Venuto was killed when a car driven by Sheena Saranita went off the road at high speed, climbed a 15-foot embankment and flipped over onto to a separated bike path in North San Diego, killing Venuto and critically injuring Baron Hederlin-Doherty.

6/3/11 15-year old Jonathan Acosta Fernandez was struck in Norwalk by a car driven by Ana Chavez at a speed of 60 mph; Fernandez died a week later, and Chavez, who initially was booked on suspicion of drunk driving, now faces a charge of vehicular manslaughter.

6/10/11 19-year old Shoichi Joe Minesaki was murdered in an apparent gang-related drive-by shooting in North Hollywood.

6/20/11 76-year old John H. Dillingham was attempting to turn left into a Camarillo park when he drifted in front of car coming up from behind; the driver reportedly was unable to avoid him.

6/23/11 34-year old Pablo Ortiz was shot and killed in Long Beach.

6/24/11 23-year old Alejandro Lopez Jr. was hit by a motorist after failing to stop for a stop sign in Santa Ana, and the following day after being placed on life support.

6/26/11 74-year old David Sandoval Caldera was killed in Blyth while riding after dark without lights or reflectors; the driver reportedly did not see him before hitting Caldera from behind.

6/29/11 47-year old Jaime Ruiz was riding his bike against traffic without lights in the Nestor neighborhood of San Diego when he hit a parked car and fell into the traffic lane, where he was struck by an oncoming SUV.

6/30/11 15-year old Ricardo Gilberto Lizarraga rode his bike into the path of a Metrolink train in Fontana; he reportedly was wearing earbuds and may not have heard the train, however, the warning gates were working at the time of the collision.

Update: Three cyclists have been added to this list, based on a comment from TQ; thanks to her help, I’ve now been able to verify all three.

Click here for part two.

My sympathy and prayers to all the victims and their loved ones.

The sad stats behind this year’s rash of Southern California bike deaths

I’ve started a database to track information about biking fatalities throughout the Southern California area.

It’s not just morbid curiosity.

I’ve gotten tired of people blaming cyclists for the unacceptably high rate of riding deaths, and wanted to be able to respond to baseless accusations with actual, factual statistics. And I want to be able to offer more than just anecdotes when arguing for better bike safety measures before various state and local bodies.

So far, it’s complete for this year only, from January 1st to date. As time allows, I plan to go back through my files and include every riding fatality I can find for the last few years.

If you know of a bike rider who was killed in Southern California — which for the purpose of this exercise I’m defining as anywhere between Santa Maria south to the Mexican border — prior to this year, feel free to send me the information or a link to the news story to ensure I don’t miss it.

I’ve been debating whether to share that information, though. In some ways, I think there’s too much focus here on the tragedies on our streets, especially this year with the rash of riding deaths we’ve seen. Lord knows, I’d much rather discuss happier topics.

However, I believe very strongly that that every fallen rider should be remembered. And that nothing will change if we don’t call attention to it — because no one else is likely to if we don’t.

However, that decision was made for me when Steve Vance, author of Steve Can Plan — one of the nation’s leading biking and transportation planning blogs — asked for more information following last night’s tragic death of Alex Romero.

And as long as I shared the information with him, I might as well share it with you.*

• Wednesday’s tragic hit-and-run death of Alex Romero was the 24th fatality of a cyclist in Southern California this year; 22 in traffic incidents or riding accidents and two by shootings while riding.

• Of those killed in traffic, 11 were the fault of the driver, the cyclist was at fault in nine, and two were undtermined; in two of the 11 collisions where the driver was at fault, poor street design may have been a contributing cause.

• Two cyclists died in solo collisions; one additional rider lost control and fell in front of an oncoming car.

• Two cyclists were killed by trains while crossing railroad tracks.

• Three were killed while riding on the sidewalk.

• Two died while riding without lights after dark, one was riding on wrong side of street.

• Despite common accusations against cyclists, none died as a result of running stop signs or red lights.

•Four of the deaths were hit-and-runs.

•At least five involved drugs and/or alcohol — four drivers, 1 cyclist — though we can safely assume that some of the hit-and-runs were likely committed under the influence, as well.

• Location, by county (includes shootings):

  • Los Angeles – 8
  • Orange County – 4
  • San Diego – 7
  • Ventura – 1
  • Santa Barbara – 2
  • Riverside – 2

• The current rate projects to 83 cyclists dying on the streets of Southern California in 2011, compared to an average of 100 deaths throughout the state each year.

* A quick note about necessary biases in my methodology. This database contains all the fatal cycling incidents of which I am aware; any incidents which failed to make the news or which I did not learn about by other means cannot be included here. In assigning fault, I accepted the determination of the investigating authorities where available, even when that was questionable; where no official determination was available, I made my own determination based on the information on hand. In the event of a hit-and-run, I assigned blame to the driver in the absence of any conflicting information.

.………

Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that the trial of Marco Antonio Valencia is on hold until next week, and could conclude as early on Monday. He speculates that the defense attorney is building an argument that Valencia was too intoxicated to appreciate the danger he posed behind the wheel, negating the required intent for conviction under the murder charge for the hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny

However, even if the defense is successful in convincing the jury that Valencia was too wasted to know what the hell he was doing — or more accurately, the risk that he posed — his client still faces as much as 20 years on the other charges and numerous probation violations.

.………

The San Fernando Bicycle Club will be hosting a memorial ride on Sunday in honor of Jim Swarzman. The ride — Jim’s favorite with the club — will start at 8 am at the NW corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge; it will be a challenging 40 mile ride, with over 2,000 feet of climbing.

And yes, it is open to everyone.

Speaking of Swarzman, plans are in the works to improve road safety on Hwy 101 where he was killed by a hit-and-run driver; unfortunately, it comes a little too late.

And the LACBC reports receiving over $2500 in donations made in Swarzman’s name following the request of his family and his fiancé Nicole Honda’s request that donations be made to the LACBC in lieu of flowers. Honda also asked that anyone touched by Swarzman’s story get involved by joining the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition or the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

Donations can be made by PayPal or sent directly to the LACBC; indicate that it is for the Swarzman fund when you make your donation. You can make a difference on our streets by joining the LACBC, or giving a gift of membership to a friend or loved one, by clicking here.

.………

The bike rider who was bumped by a car, then fatally shot by a passenger in an apparent gang killing on Sunday, has been identified as 28-year old Manuel Santizo. According to KCBS-2, no arrests have been made.

Writing on the Midnight Ridazz forum, Aktive reports that Santizo was a hard-working man who gave most of the money from his job at Jack in the Box to his parents, and to the mother of his four-year old son. A ghost bike will be installed at the scene on Friday, while a car wash will be held on Saturday to benefit his family. Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up.

.………

Best wishes to Eric B, who’s sporting a new sling and a broken collarbone after becoming collateral damage in a bike racing collision last weekend.

The sad stats behind this year’s rash of Southern California bike deaths

I’ve started a database to track information about biking fatalities throughout the Southern California area.

It’s not just morbid curiosity.

I’ve gotten tired of people blaming cyclists for the unacceptably high rate of riding deaths, and wanted to be able to respond to baseless accusations with actual, factual statistics. And I want to be able to offer more than just anecdotes when arguing for better bike safety measures before various state and local bodies.

So far, it’s complete for this year only, from January 1st to date. As time allows, I plan to go back through my files and include every riding fatality I can find for the last few years.

If you know of a bike rider who was killed in Southern California — which for the purpose of this exercise I’m defining as anywhere between Santa Maria south to the Mexican border — prior to this year, feel free to send me the information or a link to the news story to ensure I don’t miss it.

I’ve been debating whether to share that information, though. In some ways, I think there’s too much focus here on the tragedies on our streets, especially this year with the rash of riding deaths we’ve seen. Lord knows, I’d much rather discuss happier topics.

However, I believe very strongly that that every fallen rider should be remembered. And that nothing will change if we don’t call attention to it — because no one else is likely to if we don’t.

However, that decision was made for me when Steve Vance, author of Steve Can Plan — one of the nation’s leading biking and transportation planning blogs — asked for more information following last night’s tragic death of Alex Romero.

And as long as I shared the information with him, I might as well share it with you.*

• Wednesday’s tragic hit-and-run death of Alex Romero was the 24th fatality of a cyclist in Southern California this year; 22 in traffic incidents or riding accidents and two by shootings while riding.

• Of those killed in traffic, 11 were the fault of the driver, the cyclist was at fault in nine, and two were undtermined; in two of the 11 collisions where the driver was at fault, poor street design may have been a contributing cause.

• Two cyclists died in solo collisions; one additional rider lost control and fell in front of an oncoming car.

• Two cyclists were killed by trains while crossing railroad tracks.

• Three were killed while riding on the sidewalk.

• Two died while riding without lights after dark, one was riding on wrong side of street.

• Despite common accusations against cyclists, none died as a result of running stop signs or red lights.

•Four of the deaths were hit-and-runs.

•At least five involved drugs and/or alcohol — four drivers, 1 cyclist — though we can safely assume that some of the hit-and-runs were likely committed under the influence, as well.

• Location, by county (includes shootings):

  • Los Angeles – 8
  • Orange County – 4
  • San Diego – 7
  • Ventura – 1
  • Santa Barbara – 2
  • Riverside – 2

• The current rate projects to 83 cyclists dying on the streets of Southern California in 2011, compared to an average of 100 deaths throughout the state each year.

* A quick note about necessary biases in my methodology. This database contains all the fatal cycling incidents of which I am aware; any incidents which failed to make the news or which I did not learn about by other means cannot be included here. In assigning fault, I accepted the determination of the investigating authorities where available, even when that was questionable; where no official determination was available, I made my own determination based on the information on hand. In the event of a hit-and-run, I assigned blame to the driver in the absence of any conflicting information.

.………

Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that the trial of Marco Antonio Valencia is on hold until next week, and could conclude as early on Monday. He speculates that the defense attorney is building an argument that Valencia was too intoxicated to appreciate the danger he posed behind the wheel, negating the required intent for conviction under the murder charge for the hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny

However, even if the defense is successful in convincing the jury that Valencia was too wasted to know what the hell he was doing — or more accurately, the risk that he posed — his client still faces as much as 20 years on the other charges and numerous probation violations.

.………

The San Fernando Bicycle Club will be hosting a memorial ride on Sunday in honor of Jim Swarzman. The ride — Jim’s favorite with the club — will start at 8 am at the NW corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge; it will be a challenging 40 mile ride, with over 2,000 feet of climbing.

And yes, it is open to everyone.

Speaking of Swarzman, plans are in the works to improve road safety on Hwy 101 where he was killed by a hit-and-run driver; unfortunately, it comes a little too late.

And the LACBC reports receiving over $2500 in donations made in Swarzman’s name following the request of his family and his fiancé Nicole Honda’s request that donations be made to the LACBC in lieu of flowers. Honda also asked that anyone touched by Swarzman’s story get involved by joining the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition or the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

Donations can be made by PayPal or sent directly to the LACBC; indicate that it is for the Swarzman fund when you make your donation. You can make a difference on our streets by joining the LACBC, or giving a gift of membership to a friend or loved one, by clicking here.

.………

The bike rider who was bumped by a car, then fatally shot by a passenger in an apparent gang killing on Sunday, has been identified as 28-year old Manuel Santizo. According to KCBS-2, no arrests have been made.

Writing on the Midnight Ridazz forum, Aktive reports that Santizo was a hard-working man who gave most of the money from his job at Jack in the Box to his parents, and to the mother of his four-year old son. A ghost bike will be installed at the scene on Friday, while a car wash will be held on Saturday to benefit his family. Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up.

.………

Best wishes to Eric B, who’s sporting a new sling and a broken collarbone after becoming collateral damage in a bike racing collision last weekend.

In Southern California, eight biking deaths in three weeks may be tragic, but it isn’t news

Early last Saturday morning, Daniel Marin died at the bumper of an alleged drunk driver.

The 17-year old Sylmar cyclist was riding near San Fernando High School at the corner of Chamberlain Street and Laurel Canyon Blvd when he was struck and killed by a car driven by Shawn Fields.

Reports don’t indicate how the collision occurred. Police only say that they found him lying unresponsive in the street when they arrived at 2:11 am, with Fields sitting nearby in the driver’s seat of his car.

Fields was charged with Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and released on $100,000; his next court date is scheduled for Wednesday, October 27th at the San Fernando Courthouse.

Some people call it murder, and I can’t — and won’t — argue that point. Anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking is fully responsible for whatever follows, and should be held fully accountable.

I only wish that was the end of the story.

Because by my count, Danny Marin was just one of eight Southern California cyclists killed in the last three weeks alone.

Think about that.

That’s over 1% of all the bicycle related deaths in the entire U.S. for all of 2008. Or looking at it another way, that extends to a rate of 137 deaths over a full year — nearly 20% of the 718 cyclists killed nationwide in 2008.

Yet not one word from the local media.

Clearly, there’s no one cause, since those deaths run the gamut from a retired firefighter killed in a collision with a pedestrian, to hit-and-run and drunk driving cases, and collisions where the rider may have been responsible.

But just as clearly, there are too damn many riders dying on our streets.

It’s time to take notice. It’s time to get mad. And it’s long past time to do something about it.

So be careful this weekend. And ride as if your life depends on it.

Because it does.

………

On a related subject, Dj Wheels reports that a restitution hearing was held last month for Robert Sam Sanchez, convicted in the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas:

On Sept. 20, a restitution hearing was held to determine the amount of monetary damages suffered by the Armas family.  Rod Armas’ wife, Karen Michelle Armas testified regarding the ambulance and hospital bills for the night of the incident, funeral service expenses, loss of earnings for Rod Armas, a former L.A. County Probations Officer, her loss of earnings as a registered trauma nurse, counseling expenses and future medical expenses for Christian and psychological therapy for her and Rod’s three children.

Judge Lawrence Mira set restitution at $1,587,248 plus 10% interest as of 6/28/09.  He also reserved jurisdiction to modify restitution as to attorney fees, treatment for Christian’s knee and therapy for the family.

There were some issues that defense counsel brought up regarding the accuracy of all the figures, including the cost of the bicycles damaged for which Mrs. Armas’ could not provide the estimate from the shop at this hearing, and any off set Sanchez could receive as a result of his insurance company making a payment to Mrs. Armas as part of a settlement.

The restitution hearing was continued to Dec. 12.

He also reports that a plea bargain was reached in the case of William Keith Square in the hit-and-run death of an unnamed cyclist in Carson:

On Sept. 22, a plea bargain was entered between the District Attorney’s office and the Public Defender representing Mr. Square.

Felony hit and run charges, DUI charges and 2nd degree murder charges were dropped in exchange for a plea to Count 1 – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated – PC 191.5(a), which carries a state prison sentence of 4, 6 or 10 years.  Judge John Cheroske sentenced Square to the max term of 10 years in state prison and ordered him to pay a $2000 restitution fee.  Square has been in custody since being arrested shortly after the incident, so he was given credit for 159 days in actual custody.

I believe this matter is now considered disposed of, and no mention is made of any other type of restitution to the family of the victim.

And according to the Orange County Register, Javier Rivera has entered a guilty plea in the hit-and-run death of Patrick Shannon — just one of the many cycling deaths in Orange County that was not caused by bad bicyclist behavior.

Rivera pled guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and felony hit-and-run with injury. He now faces up to four years in prison.

Four years for inflicting a self-imposed death penalty on another human being for the crime of riding a bicycle — despite multiple previous convictions for possession, as well as fleeing from a police officer with wanton disregard for public safety.

And in another four year — or less — he’ll be free to do it again.

………

Host cities are announced for the Amgen Tour of California; local stages include a Solvang time trial, Claremont to Mt. Baldy, and Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks. Claremont celebrates their part with a kick-off event.

Not surprisingly, Italy’s top anti-doping prosecutor backtracks on his earlier statement that all cyclists are on drugs; I’m on antihistamines, does that count? Shane Perkins, the Aussie track cyclist who twice flipped off the judges following a penalty, penalizes himself by pulling out of the team sprint final.

Italy’s L’Eroica race is a throwback to the past, with wool jerseys, gravel roads and no bikes born after 1987.

………

People for Bikes tops 100,000 members. Good news, but we should have that many from here in SoCal alone. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s free, there’s no obligation, they won’t spam you and it only takes a few seconds.

………

L.A.’s first CicLAvia takes place from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday, 10/10/10 along a free seven-plus mile route through Downtown, MacArthur Park and Hollywood; walk, bike, skate, dance or just hang out. Note: Santa Monica’s ciclovia, which had been planned for the same day has been postponed for now; thanks to Eric Weinstein for the heads-up.

All signs point to a good time, with yoga and Capoeira along the way, and you might even find Ellen Page. KNBC-4 invites you to go car free, then again, it might help if you know how to get there and it couldn’t hurt to make your plans in advance. Animals are welcome; in fact, they may be blessed. And the new Fixx Carlton powder coating boutique will open Sunday at the west end of CicLAvia.

………

In other events —

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Explore the effects of bicycles on art and culture at the Grand Opening of Re:Cycle — Bike Culture in Southern California, October 7th – 9th, at U.C. Riverside’s newly relocated Sweeney Art Gallery at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts3834 Main Street in downtown Riverside. A reception will be held from 6 – 10 pm Thursday, October 7th; the exhibition continues through December 31st.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month, starting at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park on Saturday the 9th at 6:30 pm.

Tuesday, October 12th, there will be a community meeting to discuss the soon-to-open Elysian Valley section of the L.A. River Bike Path starting 6 pm at Allesandro Elementary School, 2210 Riverside Drive; parking is available off Gleneden and Riverside Drive.

Santa Monica’s Bike It! Day has been rescheduled from last week to Wednesday the 13th due to the heavy rains; students are encouraged to bike or walk to school.

Glendale will host two public meetings on the proposed Safe & Healthy Streets Plan on Monday, October 25 at the Glendale Central Library Auditorium, and Wednesday, October 27 at the Sparr Heights Community Center; both meetings will run from 7 pm to 8:30 pm.

New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat makes its first L.A. stop on Saturday, October 23rd. The following day, Sony sponsors their bikeless, but probably still fun, Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

.………

Gary submits a questionnaire to the candidates for Santa Monica City Council, and gets a response almost immediately. LADOT Bike Blog does a great job of reporting on Tuesday’s BAC meeting. The Southern California Assoc. of Governments invites you to join in the bike planning process with their new Bike Ped Planning Page, while the South Bay Bicycle Coalition now has its own website. Another great response to KABC-7’s recent lightweight report on bikes in traffic. The once and future Car-less Valley Girl is back on her bike, and she likes it. Even cops commit hit-and-run around here. A bike cozy spotted in Santa Monica, or would you’d rather have a U-lock cozy instead?

A 22-year old San Francisco cyclist was killed Thursday evening in a rush hour collision with a Muni bus. Watch out for bicycle extremists. EcoVelo says it would be nice if drivers just treated us like other road users. Making bike path pavement from plants, not oil. Does dropping a bundle on a bike mean you’re a better rider? Uh, that would be no. A former CIA officer and his wife are riding cross country to raise money for the CIA Officers memorial Foundation. Oregon residents insist on getting their lanes back. Bike Denver plans a 1,200 space bike corral for the Denver Bronco’s first ever ride to the game on Oct. 17th; think L.A could fill even a tenth of that for our NFL team? Oh wait, we don’t have one. Yet another cross-country cyclist is killed when a truck blows a tire when trying to pass safely. Zeke deals with a rash of confrontational drivers. The department of DIY spreads to Missoula as cyclists face charges for painting their own bike lane. An Augusta cyclist is left lying in the street after an assault by the occupants of a passing car.

Biking the French Wine Road. A Winnipeg cyclist is hit by a dirt biker, who pauses to laugh at her before riding off. Montreal redesigns a popular riding route to make it less safe for cyclists. London cycle stylists help women choose the right bikes and fashions. Five years for an uninsured and unlicensed drunk driver who killed an Edinburgh cyclist in a head-on collision; at least that more than Rivera will get.

Finally, if a cardboard bike helmet can exceed design standards, is the design that good or are the standards that bad? A study at NYU Medical Center shows that 76% of bike-related ER patients weren’t even wearing that much, but the cool kids do.

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