PCH fatality may have resulted from bad roadway; LACBC issues call for safety; and former UCLA neurologist killed in AZ hit-and-run

Maybe I was wrong.

Multiple press reports quoted L.A. County Sheriff’s Sgt. Phillip Brooks as saying the victim, identified by friends as 36-year old architect and triathlete Marisela Echeveria of Cypress Park, lost control of her bike when she was passed by one or more trucks.

As a result, she reportedly clipped a parked car with her handlebars, which caused her to veer left into the side of the bus, falling under its rear wheels.

But remarkably, only one report — from the not always bike-friendly L.A. Weekly — noted that the above scenario was based on the observations of the bus driver, and subject to change as the investigation developed.

Now word is that video evidence has been found showing the collision was not the result of a close pass after all.

The video reportedly shows Echevaria moving left to go around a group of cars parked on the shoulder. As she does, her wheel apparently got caught in a seam in the asphalt between the shoulder and the right traffic lane, causing her to lose balance and fall under the bus to her left.

And to answer an earlier question, the bus driver had reportedly moved partially into the next traffic lane to give her an estimated five feet of passing distance. Tragically, it turned out that wasn’t enough.

It’s unclear where the video came from.

It could have been from the bus itself, though that would not have shown the actual collision as the bus passed by. Or it could have come from a bike cam from a following cyclist, as there’s no shortage of riders on PCH. Then again, there’s also no shortage of security camera on PCH; I’m told by someone with knowledge of the area that the collision occurred almost directly in front of Cher’s home.

If there’s any good news in a situation like this, it’s that the collision would unfolded very quickly, and she may not have had time to realize what was happening. And from the description I’ve seen, it’s unlikely that she felt any pain; her death would have been almost instantaneous under the circumstances.

The investigation is still ongoing.

But it looks like Echevaria’s death was not due to rider error, a careless bus driver or getting Jerry Browned by a passing truck.

In this case, she may have literally been the victim of a killer highway.


The LACBC has issued a response to Saturday’s collision:



The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is deeply saddened by the fatal collision between a bicyclist and a Metro bus on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu on Saturday.  Preliminary reports indicate that triathlete Marisela Echeveria of Cypress Park was maneuvering around parked cars on the shoulder of the highway when her wheel was caught in a pavement seam and she was thrown toward the passing bus.  We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and teammates.

Pacific Coast Highway is a notoriously dangerous street for all travelers, and particularly challenging for people on bicycles.  Outdated road design, inconsistent shoulders, and high motor vehicle speeds are a perilous combination for people walking or riding along the highway.  PCH is Malibu’s main street, yet it was built to rural highway standards that provide first and foremost for the fast movement of vehicles over local access to residences, businesses, and beaches.  Bicyclists face increased risks when navigating such a complex traffic environment.

Since the 2005 deaths of Scott Bleifer and Stanislav Ionov, LACBC has worked with stakeholders to improve conditions for bicyclists on the highway.  Education, enforcement, and engineering strategies must be used in concert to reduce collision rates.  In recent years, the City of Malibu has given considerable attention to these issues and is currently analyzing potential improvements through a $375,000 study funded by Caltrans, the Southern California Associations of Governments, and the City.  The City is also currently in design for a bike lane project running two miles from Busch Drive to Trancas Canyon Road.  LACBC is encouraged by these preliminary steps.

The California coast is a shared treasure, with access guaranteed by the California Coastal Act and our State’s Constitution.  LACBC calls on all jurisdictions to cooperate in providing a safe, continuous bikeway along the Pacific Coast Highway so that all people can enjoy its scenic beauty.  We must work together to improve safety in the short term while moving toward a more balanced PCH that better serves residents and visitors in the future.


One other quick note, as a Scottsdale neurologist with ties to UCLA was killed while riding in Arizona over the weekend.

KPHO-TV reports that 38-year old Dr. Marwan Maalouf was killed in a hit-and-run shortly after noon Sunday while riding in Fountain Hills AZ; a suspect was arrested nearby.

Maalouf was a former member of the Schweitzer Lab at the UCLA Department of Neurobiology, researching markers for Alzheimer Disease.

My deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.


  1. archetect says:

    Thanks for following up. Even with her passing, perhaps she was trying to change the built environment around her. It’s what we do/she did for a living. I hope this propels change.
    And I cannot but express condolences for the Doctor who was run down. His death was definitely senseless.

  2. Hans Laetz says:

    About 10 years ago, the City of Malibu turned down participation in a regional bicycle safety planning grant for PCH. “Malibu doesn’t do bikes,” was the explanation that the (long gone) city manager gave the newspaper.

    Since then, we have had three bicyclists killed on PCH in city limits. Again last weekend, the coroner was called to a victim who ran out of room.

    Malibu has a different city council, which is building bike lanes from Zuma west. Activists in eastern Malibu supported that project, because they hope bicyclists will drive cars past their houses to unload and ride their bikes in wide open western Malibu.

    Many residents of Malibu rely on PCH for residential parking and access. In eastern Malibu, three of the seven “lanes” are reserved for residential use (parking lanes on both sides plus center turn lane serving residences). There is a pressure to keep the status quo. “This road cannot be made safe under any circumstances,” they say.

    That’s why Malibu is spending $1.1 million for bike lanes at the wrong end of town, out west. Eastern Malibu speaks loud and clear: they want to keep residential parking on both sides of the road, plus the left turn lane into their garages, for their use.

    There are three inescapable facts.

    (1) Bicyclists have an absolute legal right to use this state property, and there is no law anywhere in the state of California that could be used to ban them. Any attempt by Malibu to remove bikes from this section of the California Coastal Trail is doomed. Period.

    (2) The city has an affirmative obligation — a duty — under state law to provide for bikes to use PCH along the Pacific safely. That can only mean isolating bikes from cars and trucks. This has not been done in 22 years of citihood.

    (3) PCH was laid out in 1947 with a 55 mph design speed east of Malibu Creek, and 65 mph to the west. There has been no safety re-engineering of this route since 1964, when the center turn lanes were added. Lane widths, particularly in the straightaways, and other roadway geometry — by design –encourages those speeds.

    For 20 years, Malibu ignored bikes and hoped they would go away. Now, with more bikes than ever, we see this recent history:

    In 2009, the city council approved the La Paz shopping mall and office building in downtown Malibu. The city approved an “off-site traffic mitigation” to solve the traffic jam this multilevel project will cause at Cross Creek. The traffic plan calls for removing existing unofficial bike lanes on both sides of PCH at Cross Creek to squeeze in a right turn lane for the mall. (It also calls for widening PCH into Malibu Lagoon State Park, much to the surprise of the rangers.)

    In 2009, the city council approved a major rebuild of Trancas Market, without requiring the developer to wide PCH to accommodate pedestrians, right turns or bicycles.

    In 2011, the city approved a new trails plan that is a complete rewrite of the city’s LCP Recreation Element — with no bikes! Although the city council plainly directed staff to add bike lanes to the PCH map, that has not happened. The official city recreation map does not have bicycles in it.

    This year, we saw proposals for four major downtown projects surface: the hotel, the Whole Foods, the proposed Ioki complex on Civic Center Way, the community college. Not one of them mentioned bicycles or pedestrians on PCH, despite the fact all four projects will have enormous traffic impacts.

    In fact, the hotel proposed for Malibu Canyon Road at PCH puts a five-story, underground parking garage right up against the PCH fence, without proposing to widen the highway from its 1947-designed width to accommodate right turns, bicycles, or the numerous people walking from Pepperdine or Bluffs Park to the commercial district or pier. City staff edited that document without pointing out the glaring deficiency. Other cities require large developments to widen streets to accommodate the traffic they generate, but not Malibu.

    In 2005, city staff and Caltrans allowed cement barricades to block off the de facto bike lane on a slight curve, for months. Scott Bleifer and Stanislav Ionov were killed as a direct, foreseeable result.

    In 2012, city staff and Caltrans still have not acted to give bikes adequate room on PCH. One mile away from the first disaster, a bicyclist made a mistake of inches on a slight curve, and was crushed beneath a bus.

    There is more than $1 million in the MTA construction schedule to build a bike lane in Malibu. There are additional Caltrans and MTA grants for local bike projects. If Measure J passes, 20 percent of the transportation sales tax can be diverted to bikeway projects.

    Our city council needs to stand up at the meeting, pass a memorial to this young triathlete, and at the same time pass a resolution directing city staff to start plans for a bike lanes or better from one end of the city to the other.

    Sorry for the long letter. But the bicyclists have been largely AWOL in this matter. No one is showing up in Malibu demanding that this state-owned highway be made safer for all residents of this state.

    I live in Malibu, and I survived a 50 mph car into my lit, right shoulder bike 36 years ago. Help us!

    • karL says:

      I could of bought a million dollar home for under six figures years ago on the coast side of othe pch- but instead hoarded my cash so I could guarantee all who wanted to help Obama get the costof electrication dowen by MUCH morethedn half already- and truth be told he was just creating thisteachable moment- it’s notas Nader preached tohim- and believe me, HARD was thathpreaching- making MLK look like a limp whimp, MORE GGENERATION THAT”S NEEDED, but rather, STORAGE!!

      THere is a reason t he energy options futures marketis called ICE and like BOND himselves would say- t here is no better way that DRY- in factmaking itwill shake the shelf, ending fears of settling down hear- cuz will no when and where will have a use for the spare labor to rebuild. THE moon drags water across our continenettotheextent will leet it flow- and uphill no less! THis water- can flash slush with inertial energy as in the ghold mines of africa courtesy of israeli technollgy (see jan 12 P.S. for there name) enough sea water to turn back the c lock initiall a month a d ay int he first six months ofoperation! j then just put out of business even solar heatbrine systems.

      I have the meme- it’s ANTI-COAL…. pelletised frozen air from the lunar stair taking mega mass on trips radius of earth squared cajoned in otherh words for o the price of a trench or at worst laying some pipe we can enjoy clean hydrogen energy- fusion- in essence- the making of ice from the literally sucking heat outof water even salt with ‘wave’ energy and i guess a new doublec oast running east and westfrom boston to frisco being a internataional draw as well.

      Anyway moving on-= what hasthe resst of the planet DONE for melately? If your not sociopathic and want to know what i’d be grateful for- VOTE OBAMA NOW BUY CALLING CHARLES SCHWAB- his 17 year tenured options broker tookoffense after failing to be forthright about what country his allegiantn tofor over an hour so will in t urn sell it’s opteions fee freefor the first 50,000 shares to ever man and woman who asks them. ANd ifyhou have that much in dollars, $50K they” maybe waive the fee for howeveermany such contracts you want. THis isthe ticket to spaceman- the E or whatever ride at DIsneyland which I used to have a porchfile cabinet fullof by the way as my daddy took methere and dozens of ootehr kids much olderand younger ultimately MANY times a summer. I am tinker bell and my brother passed on taking the kill shot againstOBAMA- but not because he wasn’tthe best shot- only because he was toobusy deal,ing with real evil as have Ibeen.

      Sell FORD etc. Buy Denmark toxin less energy storage forthe priceof ice- and we’ll all be dancingand laughing nevera worry again. What will those who profit only from misery and war do- get a life and borrow a knife is w hat…..

      My brand is P.S. Anne.

      thath somehow stands foressentially

      Precidentail Paradigming not just followed upforwho in part I’mlimering. The lastthree letters are actually mAN cuz i’m the

      P.S. Man.


      (Ihaed to safev a kids life so didn’t write down what “Anne” stands for in the limerick Acronym logo and then when I climbed back in my home have not hadtime to remember my anticrime buut will as I’m no shill.

  3. Opus the Poet says:

    In that AZ wreck the bike that was hit from behind had a broken front triangle in the frame. This means the weapon vehicle was either very heavy, or moving very fast, when it hit the cyclist. Since it was a light pickup truck my money is on “very fast”.

  4. […] over by a bus in CA. Bicyclist killed after collision with MTA bus in Malibu and from BikingInLA PCH fatality may have resulted from bad roadway; LACBC issues call for safety; and former UCLA neuro… the wreck seems to have been caused by a longitudinal seam with a ledge the cyclist was caught with […]

  5. Mark Elliot says:

    Thanks, Hans, for that illuminating history and context behind our non-existent bike lanes on PCH. This calls out for, positively cries out for, organized regular actions – a critical mass on PCH – to call attention to official inaction here. Let’s name it for Echevaria and make her sacrifice count for something.

  6. Mark Elliot says:

    Duh, thanks Ted for this post and for keeping on top of bike-involved collisions that maim and kill.

  7. David BC says:

    So sad. She was training to make a difference and help people. RIP. http://los.tnt.llsevent.org/ng/index.cfm/a61daa2/regPages/pledge/MARISELA/

  8. RB says:

    Thanks for the update. I’m a friend of Marisela’s and when we visited the site on Sunday I thought the seam might have played a part. I kept worrying when cyclists passing by kept riding close to it. Marisela was a wonderful person–no exaggeration necessary–and she will be missed terribly.

  9. karL says:

    Who said neurologists are only serial killers anyway! Ghandi wasn’t a moron nor nuts at all after all- and neither AM I. Thanks forothe tip aboutthe league truying to distract us all from buying up AONE option contracts for mere dollars per hundred shares when soon there shares will be a thousand bucks each- but thanksmoreforsupport me in solvingthis petty global warming problem withoff the shelf proven technology no less- especially with pivotal help from not justmy friend our President- but Denmark’s crafty conservative engineers and also I guess India’s willingness to pay iti forward… nowwhat? tellme what’s next- cancer’s already cured after all, in prevention- like making commuting in a gas car alone without full c02 recovery at least a crime against THE EARTH notjust our petty species.

    SEE MY COMMENT AT ‘streets’ if you can- if not here it is:
    Karl ….
    In partnership with this http://triventek.com/dryiceusa… technology -FROM DENMARK!!!- I WILL be letting the free market kick cars HARD off our coastal streets and restore sane communities to ALL humid climates first- then worry about the logistics of manufaccturing enough ‘weightless’ child carriers/shoes and/or w[ITCH-]less broomsticks etc. The problem with segway was it had wheels and relied upon batteries instead of TES.

    TES IS OUR ECONOMY STUPID! Dry ice is better then titanium fiber self powered helicopertertechnology.

    To win GOLD only will be sad- but I’ll get us there in under a year. MAKE WAY Tina Fey!

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