The seemingly endless rash of recent Southern California cycling fatalities goes on, as a 30-year old woman has been killed riding on PCH at the border between Santa Monica and Los Angeles.
And this one hits far too close to home.
According to numerous sources, the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was riding south on PCH just below Entrada Drive sometime around 11 – 11:30 pm last night when she was hit from behind by a white pickup.
She died at the scene; according to KCBS-2, the impact was so severe that police had to search the area to find her body.
The driver sped away without stopping, disappearing into traffic on eastbound I-10.
Authorities are looking for what is only described as a white pickup or possibly an SUV with significant front-end damage. Anyone with information is urged to call Santa Monica police at 310/458-8491.
Tragically, there’s a good chance this death could have been avoided.
Early in 2011, George Wolfberg, president of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, bike advocate Eric Bruins and I met with officials from L.A.’s Department of Public Works, along with the construction company working on the Coastal Intercepter Relief Sewer project on southbound PCH.
That’s the project that has closed traffic lanes on PCH for the last year, and required temporary rerouting of the bike path near the walkway under PCH at Entrada.
To their credit, they were very open to our suggestions on how to keep cyclists safer during the approximately 18 month construction project.
But one thing we asked for didn’t make the final cut.
The city’s plan was to encourage cyclists to leave PCH and take the beachfront bike path at Will Rogers State Beach to avoid the obstacles and congestion created by the construction work.
A reasonable plan, at least during daylight hours.
However, many riders, particularly women, would be uncomfortable riding on the pathway at night, largely out of sight from drivers on PCH and hidden in the shadows — especially given the large number of homeless people and others who congregate in that area during daylight hours, let alone after dark.
As a result, riders who would gladly take the bike path during the day might feel safer riding on PCH, despite the risks posed by construction and heavy, high-speed traffic.
As one woman once told me, there are worse things than getting hit by a car.
So we asked that temporary lighting be installed along the bike path, at least through the construction zone, so bicyclists would feel safe riding there until they could return to PCH or turn off onto other routes.
While they agreed to consider it, they also said it was unlikely to be approved because there just wasn’t enough money in the $10 million budget. And clearly it wasn’t, as no lights ever appeared on the bike path, other than those required to light the construction site itself.
Now a woman is dead because she chose to ride on PCH instead of diverting onto the darkness of the bike path.
Why she made that choice, we’ll probably never know.
But the knot that’s been building in my stomach all morning tells me this tragedy could have been avoided. And that a women with decades of life ahead of her is now gone, needlessly.
And I’m holding my breath, selfishly hoping and praying that it wasn’t someone I know.
This is the 33rd cyclist killed in Southern California this year, and the 10th already this year in Los Angeles County; it’s also the second cycling fatality in bike-friendly Santa Monica.
And the 8th fatal bike-related hit-and-run — nearly a quarter of all cycling fatalities in the seven-county Southern California region.
Even worse, this is the 13th SoCal bicycling death since June 1st — a horrifying, deplorable rate of one rider killed every 3 days for the last six weeks.
And it’s got to stop.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and her loved ones.
Update: The Santa Monica Daily Press reports the victim, who still has not been publicly identified, lived in the area and was biking home from work after taking the bus part way. Witnesses say she was riding in the right lane before swerving into the middle lane, where she was hit and killed.
The paper reports that the truck dragged her bike about a half-mile from the crash site as it sped away.
Police report that the suspect vehicle is a full-size GM pickup; they’re examining crash debris to determine the exact year and model.
Update 2: The Daily Press has updated their story to identify the victim as Erin Galligan of Venice. She reportedly was on her way home from her job as a waitress when she was killed; the paper does not name the restaurant she worked at.
KTLA-5 reporter David Begnaud reports that police are looking for a white 1999 Chevy Silverado 1500 Xtra Cab with damage to the grill, hood and headlight. And offers a touching photo of Erin that just drives home what a waste this is.
Update 4: The Palisadian Post reports that Galligan worked at Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades, rather than Craig’s as her Facebook page indicated. The paper reports that the collision occurred directly in front of the driveway The Beach Club, and that police have video of the pickup speeding away with Erin’s bike trapped underneath.
According to KNBC-4, Galligan was “an avid cyclist and adventurous woman,” who was well loved by her friends, and thinking about going back to school to become a teacher.
“I don’t know of a sour word that came from the girl,” Bryan McKinley, friend and coworker, told NBC4. “I guess that’s what makes the accident so tragic; it would be ok if it was just an accident.
“But what bothers everyone to their core is there was no accountability by this cowardice person who just ran off.”