Tag Archive for Temescal Canyon

Update: Fatal bike collision on Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades

The aftermath of today's fatal collision; photo by Clifford Phillips

The aftermath of today’s fatal collision; photo by Clifford Phillips

I’m still waiting on official confirmation, but the news doesn’t look good.

A tweet from West LA Traffic Division Captain Brian Adams reports that the LAPD is working a fatal traffic collision at Temescal Canyon Road and PCH in Pacific Palisades.

At the same time, I received an email from a reader who had just passed the intersection and saw a mountain bike with the rear wheel crushed, and a car stopped nearby with its windshield bashed in; the rider was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, that does not necessarily mean the rider was killed. But it sounds like prayers or good thoughts are in order.

More details as they come in.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the collision occurred around 9:15 Sunday morning when a vehicle drifted into the bike lane on Temescal Canyon and hit the rider from behind. The victim was declared dead at a local hospital, later identified as St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica; another report says he was taken to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.

And yes, the driver remained at the scene. 

A comment from Lois below indicates the collision occurred about a quarter mile above PCH on the eastbound, uphill lane. 

Having ridden through there many times myself, that is one of the few bike lanes where I don’t feel comfortable, as many motorists drive far above the speed limit and drift from their lanes on the many curves, both up and downhill.

This is the 84th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 36th in Los Angeles County. It is also the 16th cycling death in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year — over three times the number of bicycling fatalities last year.

Update 2: Pacific Palisades Patch reports the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was approximately 25 to 27 years old, and was hit hard enough to throw his body up to 20 feet through the air.  

One commenter on the site said she was told by an officer at the scene that the driver had been drinking — at 9:15 am — while the writer of the Patch piece says the driver himself suggested he was texting when the collision occurred.

John Rapley; photo from The Age

James Rapley; photo from The Age

Update 3: Police officials have identified the victim at 29-year old Australian tourist James Rapley from Victoria; the driver was 19-year old Mohammed Kadri of Santa Monica.

There’s something horribly wrong when someone can’t visit this country without returning home in a coffin.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for James Rapley and his family.

Update 4: Australian publication The Age confirms a comment from a friend of the victim that Rapley was just passing through Los Angeles when he was killed.

The paper quotes his father as saying Rapley, a software developer for Groupon in Chicago, had rented a bike during an extended layover on a flight back home to Melbourne for the holidays. An experienced rider, he may have enjoyed the challenge of tackling the steep climb, even on a rental bike.

His father also confirms the report that police said the underage driver had been drinking at that early hour.

“He was the sort of kid everyone hopes to have as a son,” John Rapley said.

“I just really want to get the message out that drink driving can affect you anywhere and it’s so stupid.”

No word yet on any charges the driver may face. Let’s hope the authorities take this one seriously — especially if reports that he was texting as well turn out to be true.

I can’t overstate the tragedy that someone just passing through our city is murdered by someone too young to legally drink, let alone be on the road in that condition. 

Update 4: The Santa Monica Mirror reports Kadri was arrested on an unspecified felony charge at 10:50 am, and released on $50,000 bail Sunday night — which seems low under the circumstances.

He is scheduled to appear in Downtown Municipal Court on January 16th; we should be able to learn what charges he’ll face then. Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Update: Cyclist gets double smackdown crossing PCH — seriously injured by car, then blamed by police

First he gets run down by a car on PCH.

Then he gets smacked down once more by the LAPD.

According to Pacific Palisades Patch, a bicyclist was riding his bike in the crosswalk across Pacific Coast Highway at Temescal Canyon Road at 7:51 am on Tuesday, October 30th when he was hit by a car heading north on PCH.

The rider, identified only a 30-year old white male, suffered severe injuries, including broken legs and lacerations to his arms and chest.

Then, Patch reports, police blamed him for the collision simply because he was riding in the crosswalk.

(Officer) Johnson said the accident report has the bicyclist listed as the cause of the accident.

“Bicyclists can’t ride in the crosswalk,” he said. “You have to walk it. As soon as you start pedeling (sic) you’re basically considered a vehicle and have to consider the rules of the road.”

Never mind that in order for the collision to occur the way it’s described, someone had to run the red light. Either the cyclist was crossing against the light — which would seem unlikely, given the heavy traffic on PCH at that hour — or the car that hit him ran it.

Either way, that would seem to be a more immediate — and important — cause of the collision than the simple presence of the rider in the crosswalk.

And never mind that the explanation given by Officer Johnson would appear to be in direct contradiction to state law.

According to California law, bikes are allowed to use crosswalks, which are legally considered an extension of the sidewalk. So if it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk — which the City of Los Angeles allows — it’s also legal to ride your bike in the crosswalk.

Sort of.

In a failed attempt to clarify the law, the state legislature recently amended the law to say that cyclists can ride along a crosswalk. Yet failed to clarify what exactly that means.

After all, you can ride along a pathway or along a river, with very different meanings. One puts you on it, the other next to it.

So depending on who is interpreting the law, and how, you can either ride on the crosswalk or alongside it.

Thanks for the clarification, guys.

Then there’s the question of which way you can ride on the crosswalk. And that’s where it really gets complicated.

According to the LAPD, after consulting with the City Attorney, they’ve come to the following, extremely convoluted, interpretation of the law.

As we discussed, cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk in Los Angeles. And since sidewalks don’t have any direction, bike riders can legally ride either way — as long as they remain on the sidewalk.

But in what appears to be a gross misinterpretation of the law, the LAPD says as soon as a bike enters the street, it becomes a vehicle. Even if it’s just crossing the street. And regardless of whether it’s in — or next to — the crosswalk.

And since it’s a vehicle, it then has to be ridden in the direction of traffic.

Even though pedestrians are allowed to use the crosswalk going in either direction. And even though state law says absolutely nothing about direction in allowing bikes to ride along the crosswalk.

That would appear to be the actual violation the police were referring to in this case, rather than riding in the crosswalk.

And there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that I am aware of in state law that says riders must dismount and walk their bikes across the street.

In fact, that would appear to be another violation of state law, which assigns bike riders all the rights and responsibilities of other vehicle users. I am unaware of any requirement that drivers have to get out of their cars and push them across the street before being allowed to get back inside and drive off.

Which brings up the other problem with this collision.

This intersection is a popular route for riders leaving the beachfront bike path along Will Rogers State Beach, whether to ride up Temescal Canyon or cross to the other side of PCH to continue on towards Malibu.

But there is no way for cyclists to trigger the green light at this intersection. The signal detectors embedded in the pavement don’t recognize bikes, and there is no push button for bikes or pedestrians headed east across PCH.

During busy summer months, that’s usually not a problem. Cars leave the parking lot on a regular basis, triggering the light and allowing riders to cross with the light.

But this time of year, you can wait hours for a car to come by and trigger the signal.

So the workaround many riders use — myself included — is to ride over to the north side of the intersection, push the signal button at the crosswalk, then ride across the street on or next to the crosswalk.

Which is probably exactly what the victim was doing that morning when he was hit by a Subaru. And which is now illegal, according to the LAPD.

So first this cyclist was victimized by bad roadway design, which robbed him of his right to ride like any other vehicle, and forced him to use the crosswalk.

Yes, state law does require signal detectors that recognize the presence of bikes, but only when the intersection is repaved or rebuilt in some other way. And just like drivers, cyclists are legally allowed to cross against the red light if it fails to change for several cycles.

Although you might have a hard time explaining that to a cop. And it would be a foolish thing to attempt at rush hour on a busy, high-speed highway like PCH.

Then he was hit by car, which may or may not have run the red light.

And finally, if the article is correct, he appears to have been victimized a third time. This time by the LAPD, with what looks like a highly flawed interpretation of the law.

He may or may not have been at fault.

But he certainly wasn’t at fault for the reason given.

Update: Now it makes more sense. 

It turns out that the Patch story misplaced the location of the collision, according to the LAPD’s new bike liaison for the West Traffic Division, Sgt. Christopher Kunz, in response to an email from Colin Bogart, Education Director for the LACBC.

Rather than the intersection of PCH and Temescal Canyon, the collision actually occurred about 1700 feet north at the crosswalk leading from the parking lot to the trailer park

And rather than being cited for riding in the crosswalk, the primary factor leading to the collision was a violation of CVC 21804(a), entering a highway without yielding to oncoming traffic. Sgt. Kunz says independent witnesses reported the victim rode across PCH at a high rate of speed, in an apparent attempt to beat oncoming traffic.

And failed. 

So while the intersection of PCH and Temescal remains a difficult and dangerous place for cyclists to cross, and the department’s current interpretation of crosswalk law would seem to leave a lot to be desired, neither one had anything to do with this collision. 

Instead it appears to be a case of bad judgement. A rider taking a chance he shouldn’t have taken.

And a news report that only told part of the story.

Extra caution required as construction projects raise risk on PCH and Temescal Canyon

A couple of quick notes from Wednesday’s PCH Taskforce meeting that could affect your rides along the coast.

First up is a stormwater treatment program on Temescal Canyon Road that will block the right turn lane off PCH, as well as intermittently blocking the uphill bike lane on Temescal itself.

The project is designed to capture the first ¾ inch of rainwater, which contains the most pollutants, allowing it to be diverted for treatment once the storm is over.

However, it could pose a risk to riders on PCH, who will be forced to share the right through lane with right-turning drivers, as well as drivers going straight. The bigger problem, though, is the blockages of the bike lane planned for the uphill side of Temescal.

Construction under the center divider will force temporary closures of one uphill lane as well as the bike lane, requiring riders to share a single lane with motorists on a road where many drivers race through far above the speed limit. And where the steep uphill means riders travel at far lower speeds than they would otherwise, creating a potentially deadly combination.

However, the solution could be as simple as the wide sidewalk on the right, if the city just invests in a few dollars worth of asphalt to build curb ramps that would allowing riders to safely bypass the construction.

Downhill traffic won’t be affected.

The second, and potentially more dangerous, problem lies a little further south on PCH at Potrero Canyon.

A project to stabilize the canyon will mean as many as 200 heavy trucks loaded with soil will soon be traveling northbound PCH every day, adding more — and more dangerous — traffic to one of the area’s most popular riding routes. Then after dumping their loads, they will turn around at the temporary traffic signal that you may have noticed being installed in that area this week, and return back down PCH towards Santa Monica.

This, in an area where the lack of an adequate shoulder means riders have to take the lane in front of frequently speeding drivers — as well as traffic that can grind to a stop due to heavy congestion.

That section is scheduled to be widened, and a shoulder added, by 2017.

But in the meantime, you should ride with extra caution and keep a wide eye open for truck drivers unfamiliar with the road, and who may not be looking for you.

On the other hand, major work on the sewer project that has affected southbound cyclists on PCH around West Channel Road for the last year, and forced a bypass to the beachfront bike path, should be finished by May; the full job is expected to be done by fall.

……..

In a surprising move, the nation’s three leading bike advocacy organizations have decided to merge their efforts.  The League of American Bicyclists, industry trade group Bikes Belong and the Alliance for Biking and Walking announced that they will join together to form a new unified organization.

What exactly that means remains to be determined.

They could unite at the top, while keeping the existing structure of the three organizations intact. Or they could merge into a single organization — though how they make that work when one is membership driven, one composed of local bike organizations from across the nation, and one made up of the nation’s largest bicycle and components manufacturers is beyond me.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. But as Richard Masoner points out on Cyclelicious, a number of questions remain.

Done right, this could give us the political clout we need to avoid future disasters like the current House Transportation bill, which effectively eliminates all bike and pedestrian funding.

Or it could end up weakening — or eliminating — three organizations that have served us well over the years, and leaving us with something less responsive to the needs of average riders.

This proposed merger bears the possibility of greatness. But it’s something we’ll all want to keep a close eye on.

……..

Speaking in Los Angeles, bike racing boss Pat McQuaid finally acknowledges that women riders deserve better. Commute by Bike offers another perspective on L.A.’s green bike lane, while Flying Pigeon shows there’s a little overlap in that new agreement allowing film production trucks to park next to them. A Cypress Park middle school falls in love with bikes; while an L.A. riders says it’s okay for roadies to be friendly, too. New bike lanes land on Aviation Blvd near LAX. While L.A. works on pilot projects, Santa Monica thrives by catering to bikes. UCLA gets a new bike repair stand. Malibu moves forward with a PCH safety study. Solving bike clutter in Redondo Beach. A Redondo Beach bike sting nets career criminals. Diversifying transportation in Glendale is a necessity, not a luxury. Montrose Search and Rescue come to the aid of two stranded mountain bikers near Crescenta Valley. Welcome to the newly formed Pomona Valley Bike Coalition, the latest local chapter of the LACBC. Bikes and beer always go together, so how about velos e vino?

Following the death of a teenage cyclist, San Diego’s press belatedly discover the existence of fixies. San Diego cyclists have to deal with trash cans in the bike lanes, too. Riding on the sidewalk isn’t enough to keep a Stockton cyclist safe from out of control trucks. Texas Governor Rick Perry — the only other governor fool enough to veto a three-foot passing law besides our own Jerry Brown — will have surgery for an old bicycling injury in San Diego. Evidently, sidewalks in Atascadero have right and wrong directions, unlike sidewalks everywhere else — and seriously, even a local cop should know that riding on the sidewalk in either direction isn’t illegal under state law.

Sometimes an endorsement of cycling isn’t as glowing as it seems. Wisconsin cyclists rally for a vulnerable user law. Despite fatally dooring a cyclist, a New York driver faces just 30 days or $500 for driving with a suspended license; no, really, the NYPD takes fatal bike collisions seriously, honest. Gotham defense attorney’s love it when drivers leave the scene of a collision. A Carolina bike shop owner says cars and bikes really can get along. A Georgia bill would ban riding side by side. Why Miami is a deathtrap for cyclists; it’s not just Miami — Florida continues to be the most dangerous place in the nation for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s not the UCI that’s stifling bike frame innovation.

A Canadian cyclist is killed in a collision after running a red light, yet the Mounties insist on blaming his death on the lack of a helmet; I’d say risk factors were a) running a red light, b) getting hit by a truck, and c) not wearing a helmet, in that order. In a remarkable display, the UK’s Parliament gathered Thursday to debate bike safety — something our Congress desperately needs to do, yet which I doubt we will ever see. Two thousand cyclists ride for bike safety in London. In a rare display of Fleet Street comity, London’s Guardian endorses the Times’ Cycle Safe campaign. The risk of death is 10 times higher for cyclists in the UK’s rural areas. A British cyclist dies even though the car that hit him was only doing 10 mph. Safer cycling makes cities safer for everyone. A Scot cyclist punches a driver in the nose after getting knocked off his bike; guess which one got punished? For such a seemingly freak accident, there seem to be a lot of new stories about children killed or injured by falling on their handlebars; is this a bigger problem than we realize? Copenhagen police target cyclists for fun and profit. An Aussie cyclist explains why they’re so angry. According to Reuters, Indonesian cyclists risk their lives every day to ride to work.

Finally, another typically insightful and entertainingly artistic look at cycling from Boston’s Bikeyface. And a cyclist leaves a note for a driver ticketed for parking in the bike lane.

Today’s ride, in which I inflict intense self-suffering. Twice.

I’ve mentioned before that I have one last goal before I consider myself fully recovered from the infamous beachfront bee incident.

I want to get back the climbing ability I used to have. Along with that knot of muscle above the knee that instantly identifies you as a serious cyclist, when there’s not a bike in sight.

You see, when I first moved to California, back when Ronnie Reagan was still riding a desk in the Oval Office, I wasn’t that great with hills. Sure, I could pull off the occasional mountain ride, but it wasn’t that hard ride to through Denver without any real effort.

That changed when I got to San Diego.

Most visitors to San Diego never get past the beach or the Gaslamp Quarter, so they don’t realize the city is just one steep hill and canyon rolling into another. And it quickly became clear that if I wanted to ride beyond my own neighborhood, I needed to get a lot better at hills.

So I found the longest, steepest hill I could. And I rode it.

Everyday.

At first, I could only go 50 to 100 feet before I had to stop, feeling like my heart and lungs were going to explode. Then I waited until I got my pulse and breathing back under control, and rode another 50 feet or so. Then I did it again, and again, until I finally topped the crest and got on with my ride.

It took me a few weeks before I could make it all the way without stopping. Slowly, chest pounding and legs screaming in pain, but I made it.

Then once I could make it every time, I focused on getting up that hill faster and in progressively higher gears. Until at last I reached the point where I would find myself passing some of the local pros on climbs, only to have them fall in behind and let me pull them up the hill — unless I happened to feel like dropping them that day.

But that was a long time ago. And I want to get that back.

So at least twice a week now, I work hills into my route.

One route starts uphill as soon as I leave my door, with eight steep climbs in the first five miles. The other follows my usual route, but adds a full mile of non-stop climbing up Temescal Canyon, from the beach to the Palisades.

This week, for the first time, I felt like I was making real progress. I zoomed up the first route on Tuesday, attacking hills, riding out of the saddle and upshifting on the upslope. So I was really looking forward to today’s ride up Temescal.

Which, as it turns out, was like looking forward to a root canal.

The first third or so was fine. I attacked at the base, upshifted when I rose out of the saddle, and shifted back down when I sat, without missing a beat.

Then without warning, I was done.

I’m not sure why. But suddenly, every pedal stroke was an effort. Standing didn’t help, shifting didn’t help. And I refused to use my granny gears.

So all I could do was suck it up, and focus on one pedal stroke at a time. I’d pick out a landmark a few feet ahead — a car, a tree — and just try to make it that far. Then I’d pick out another, and another. Finally, I made it up past the high school, where the incline eases up a little, and could make it the rest of the way to Sunset.

Then I rode back to the bottom, turned around and did it again.

It wasn’t any easier the second time.

But that wasn’t the point. Because I was damned if I was going to settle for a ride like that. And as hard as it was, it should make it just a little easier next time.

Then I revised my route to include another hard climb on the way home. Because the only way to get better at riding hills is to ride hills.

And the hill you don’t ride today will be the same one you can’t ride tomorrow.

……….

Flying Pigeon needs more double rail saddle clamps if you happen to have a few hundred laying around. Damien asks if it’s time California had a 3-foot law of it’s own. Short answer, yes. A biking newbie asks how to become a little better at climbing. Missouri’s Tracy Wilkins discovers traffic calming islands that force bikes and cars a little too close for comfort. MTB Law Girl lives up to her name, presenting a synopsis of a cyclist vs. cyclist road rage case; the offender was sentenced to 35 years. First they got mad, now Texas riders plan to get even. A San Francisco columnist says if you want cheap, easy transportation to the office, take a bus. The Examiner suggests that Amtrak could increase their ridership if they were more bicycle friendly. We can’t get sharrows, yet Portland riders get their own bridge. A Vancouver writer says it’s time to get past the whole bikes vs. cars conflict. After a two-year doping ban, former Tour de France favorite Vinokourov is back; next year’s tour is starting to look very interesting. Finally, build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door; so what happens when you build a better bike reflector?

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