It’s the fear of countless cyclists on Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway.
A door opens unexpectedly. A patch of gravel causes a loss of control. A pothole or too-close pass leaves a rider precariously unbalanced.
Followed by a deadly fall in front of unforgiving, high speed traffic.
We may never know why a cyclist fell in front of a Metro bus on PCH today. But the tragic result was entirely predictable.
According to KNBC-4, the 36-year old rider, identified only as a Los Angeles resident of “Latino descent,” was riding on PCH near Puerco Canyon Road at 1:50 pm. She reportedly lost control of her bike and fell into the roadway, where she was struck by an oncoming Metro Bus at 25019 Pacific Coast Highway, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The story does not report which direction she was riding; however, Malibu Patch says southbound PCH was closed for several hours between Puerco Canyon Road and John Tyler Drive, suggesting that the collision occurred on the west side of the highway.
Patch reports that a Sheriff’s spokesman said it’s too early to determine who was at fault. The story also notes that deputies were unsure if she was wearing a helmet; given that the victim was hit by bus, there’s very little chance a helmet would have made any difference in the outcome.
This is the 65th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth fatality in the past week. It’s also the 21st bicycling death in Los Angeles County since the beginning of the year, 12 of which were due to traffic collisions, and the second on PCH in the Malibu/Santa Monica area.
My heartfelt prayers and sympathy for the victim and her family.
Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.
Update: Malibu Patch quotes a Metro spokesman as saying they don’t know if the bus driver was male or female, what the driver’s previous safety record was, or whether there were any passengers on the bus at the time of the collision. Hint to Metro: when you don’t have anything to say, you’re usually better off not saying anything.
The Pepperdine University Graphic identifies the bus line as the 534, which seems to be more than Metro knows.
Update 2: A press release from the Sheriff’s Department confirms the collision occurred on South/Eastbound side of PCH.
Update 3: According to a comment from Alma Valencia, the victim was Marisela Echeveria of Cypress Park.
Truly saddened to read this report. The Los Angeles resident of “Latino decent” was my friend. Her name was Marisela Echeveria a Cypress Park resident enjoying a ride along PCH. She was an Ironman athlete, architect and was truley an angel taken from us much too soon. We are all in shock and pray for strength for the days to come.
Update 4: Many people have expressed grief over Marisela’s tragic death, as well as anger over a comment below urging riders to avoid dangerous roads like PCH. While I strongly disagree with her comments, the writer does have a right to her opinion, and has not crossed the line into personal attacks or blaming the victim; disagree as much as you want, but please keep responses respectful.
The best thing you can do to channel your anger and grief is to take a few moments to participate in the Malibu PCH bike safety study, which will be online through November 12th. By making PCH safer, we can help prevent future fatalities, and bring some good from this horrible tragedy.
Also, consider writing the Governor to express your anger over his two-time veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing laws. If the bus had been required to stay a minimum of three feet from the cyclist, she might have been able to fall beside, rather than in front, of the bus. And this needless tragedy might never have happened.
Update 5: Finally, some real news, as KCBS-2 reports Echevaria was training for an Ironman triathlon when she was killed on PCH Saturday afternoon. According to the station, she lost control of her bike when she was passed by some trucks and caught her handlebar on a parked car; she then veered into the bus and was dragged underneath.
This may be the first fatality we can lay directly at the feet of Governor Jerry Brown since his most recent veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing law.
In order for the trucks to have caused Echerveria to lose control, they had to be close enough to either startle her or interfere with the safe operation of her bike — although to be fair, larger trucks should give a hell of a lot more than three feet, due to their massive size.
And the bus driver may or may not have been passing too close, depending on how far she was thrown into the roadway after clipping the parked car.
If there are witnesses who can show the trucks passed too closely to her bike — and it sounds like there may be — the driver(s) can and should be charged with vehicular homicide.
Anyone with information is urged to call the L.A. Sheriff’s Department Malibu/Lost Hills station at 818/878-1808.
Update 6: According to Malibu Patch, the Coroner has ruled the death an accident resulting from multiple traumatic injuries; however, as I understand it, that does not halt the investigation or preclude charges.
Update 7: Echeveria’s death may not have been due to a close pass, and it appears it may not have been her fault, either.
Video evidence has surfaced that reportedly shows her bike tire getting caught in a seam in the roadway as she attempted to go around some parked cars. More in tonight’s follow-up report.
Clearly, it was a bad day for L.A. County bicyclists, as another rider was critically injured while riding salmon in Alhambra.
According to the Pasadena Star-News, the 44-year old rider, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north on southbound Palm Avenue at Main Street when he was struck by a northbound Mercedes Benz turning left from Raymond onto Main around 12:45 pm.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation; however, riding on the wrong side of the roadway didn’t help.