Pasadena bike rider killed in collision with salmon cyclist; 22nd cycling death in LA County this year

Now we have confirmation.

Last night I mentioned that rumors were circulating that a bike rider had died in Pasadena. This morning, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune confirms that a rider critically injured in a collision with a salmon cyclist has passed away.

The rider, publicly identified only as a 20-year old Pasadena man, was headed west on Mountain Street at Garfield Avenue around 6 pm Saturday when he was hit head-on by a 17-year old cyclist riding against traffic. According to the paper, the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a severe head injury when he hit his head on the pavement.

He was taken to Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital, where he died Sunday evening.

The other rider was uninjured.

It’s hard to imagine how this collision could have occurred on what appears to be a relatively quiet street. It’s possible that the riders may have been boxed in by passing cars, or both may have swerved in the same direction in a last-second attempt to avoid the collision. It’s also possible that the younger rider may have just rounded the corner from Garfield, not leaving enough time for either to react.

Or one or both riders may have just not been paying attention.

In this case, whether or not the victim was wearing a helmet matters, as this seems to have been exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed collision helmets are that designed to protect against.

However, as Caltech Bike Lab points out, one of the many problems with riding salmon is that it dramatically increases the force of any impact.

It’s simple physics that when two objects traveling in opposite directions collide, their speeds combine to create the force of impact. For instance, if these two riders were both traveling at 10 miles per hour, they would have struck with the same force as hitting a stationary object at 20 mph.

And if they were both riding at 20 mph, they would have hit with a combined force of 40 mph — a speed almost assured to result in serious injury. The fact that only one rider was injured suggests that they may have struck a glancing blow, rather than a full head-on crash.

Riding salmon also reduces reaction times, making a collision that much more likely.

Finally, there is the legal aspect. By riding against traffic, the younger rider was in clear violation of CVC 21650, which requires all vehicles to travel on the right side of the roadway, as well as CVC 21202, which requires bicyclists to ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb.

By riding on the wrong side of the road, the 17-year old cyclist could face serious criminal charges, including a possible homicide charge, for causing the death of the other rider.

As well as a lifetime of living with the fact that his carelessness killed another person.

This is 48th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County, which compares with 24 and 23 for all of the last two years, respectively.

And it’s the second cycling death in Pasadena in less than 30 days, following the death of Phillip O’Neill near Caltech last month, which highlights the need for a comprehensive bike plan in the city.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for the victim and his love ones.

Thanks to Pasadena’s Day One for the heads-up.

Update: The victim has been identified as 20-year old Ulises Tamayo of Pasadena.


  1. Taffygrrl says:

    How do we educate cyclists that salmon biking is dangerous? I see salmon constantly on the bike lanes in DTLA. Two weeks ago I narrowly avoided a head-on collision on my bike with a salmon cyclist on Grand, and the week before that I narrowly avoided a head on collision while driving my car with a cyclist who was not only salmoning but in the auto lane. I have had salmon cyclists on Spring push me into traffic. How do we effectively educate them? Public shaming? (Hey, it worked to turn “jaywalking” into a bad thing in the early 1900s when the powers that be decided roads should only be for cars and not for everyone.)

  2. kdbhiker says:

    You could call them “Darwinies” I have no problem confronting these idiots while I commuting to and from work on my bike.

  3. Steve says:

    One more thing to consider: at 6pm heading west bound the rider was probably looking into a near setting Sun. Could have been quite difficult to see a bike rider coming his way.

    • bikinginla says:

      Good suggestion, but sunset on Saturday would have been around 8pm, so I don’t think it would have been a factor in this case. However, if the rider wasn’t wearing sunglasses, the light filtering through the trees could have been blinding in place.

  4. Alan Thompson says:

    Mountain Ave is marked with sharrows. it is a narrow 24 foot residential street built in the 1920s. There is also a slight slope, so you can pick up some speed. The four way stop sign is often treated as a yield sign by bicyclists and car drivers alike. Traffic in the afternoon rush hour can get heavy on such a narrow street, so taking the lane is vital to not get pushed to the curb. I travel that stretch about three times a week.and often saw a unicyclist riding as well as teenagers, so bicyclists are common on the street.

    There are a number of possible alternatives as to why the cyclist was riding salmon at that moment (passing a right turning car for example) but without seeing the police report, it is just speculation.

    I would add that the family of the 17 year old, could also be facing a significant lawsuit where the majority of earnings for the rest of his life could be garnished to pay for the loss.of someone’s son, spouse, partner, father, etc, if found liable.

  5. billdsd says:

    “For instance, if these two riders were both traveling at 10 miles per hour, they would have struck with the same force as hitting a stationary object at 20 mph.”

    You are mistaken. Assuming that the mass of each is approximately equal and with a direct hit (no deflection), it’s like hitting a larger more solid stationary object at 10mph.

    Maybe this will help explain it:

    The problem with salmons for this head on situation is more about reduced reaction time and both riders can’t go the same direction to avoid the collision.

    The more common problem for salmons though is that cross traffic is not looking for traffic at speed on that side of the road so they are effectively invisible to cross traffic.

    • bikinginla says:

      Interesting experiment.

      However, I’ll cast my vote with the laws of physics, which says all that energy has to go somewhere (as Caltech Bike Lab said, it’s called the conservation of momentum).

      I don’t pretend to by a physicist myself. On the other hand, my brother, with advanced degrees in both particle and geophysics, is. When I ran that same question past him awhile back, he gave me a whole bunch of reasons why the Myth Busters experiment was flawed, which unfortunately I don’t recall anymore, and confirmed that the law of conservation of momentum had not been repealed.

      That’s good enough for me.

      • billdsd says:

        See the link. The energy is the same as 10mph + 10mph = 20mph. However it is split among both objects equally so they each get the force of 20mph/2 or 10mph.

        Laws of physics do apply. You just have to understand them.

        • bikinginla says:

          I saw the link. As I said, I ran the question past an actual physicist who said their conclusion was incorrect, and that both riders would experience an impact equal to 20 mph. He explained in detail why; unfortunately, that response is lost somewhere in the nearly 9,000 comments posted on here over the years.

          But if any physicists want to jump in here and clarify the matter, feel free,

          • billdsd says:

            Your physicist is wrong, and the Mythbusters experiment proves it.

            Sometimes it’s good to look at it from a different perspective.

            From the car experiment, two cars of equal mass and equal velocity collide head on. Each provides the other with an equal opposing force, causing them to stop at the point of impact.

            A car of the same mass travelling at the same speed hitting an immovable wall also encounters an equal opposing force from the wall. In other words, the wall exerts just as much force against the car that hits it as the car coming the other way did in the head on collision.

            The cars in these scenarios have the same amount of damage because they absorb the same amount of force.

      • Conservation of momentum is only applicable in elastic collisions. Bicycle and motors collisions are classically the inelastic type. Thus the law of conservation of momentum does not apply. The author of the Caltech article is wrong.

        • Energy is conserved though, but spread among the masses. This is basic physics 101.

          • Anzel says:

            You’ve got it backwards–momentum is always conserved, as is energy. But in an inelastic collision, not all the energy goes into motion–it’ll go into other things like heat or deforming an object (e.g. breaking a bone). The total sum of momentum will be the same, however.

            As for what it’s like colliding–a collision between two bikers travelling towards each other at 20 mph would be like a single biker hitting a wall at 20 mph–assuming you could “bounce” off each other well. The crucial issue is that the wall doesn’t move (where as a stationary cyclist would be pushed away, thus reducing the maximum impact).

            If you thought about this as the impact of two billiard balls:
            – Two balls approaching the center at 20 mph would bounce off each other, and would return at 20 mph.
            – A ball hitting a stationary wall at 20 mph would similarly bounce back 20 mph.
            – A ball hitting a stationary ball at the center would stop (and the second ball would go careening off at 20 mph), and the effective impact would be like hitting a wall at 10 mph.

            – Former BikeLab president and Caltech physicist

  6. I am ignorant. Where can I find out; what is “Riding salmon?”

  7. Anj says:

    Just a few days before this unfortunate accident I was headed in the same direction at at roughly the same time. I was passing through that very same intersection. I often look for cross traffic only and run the stop. I remember another cyclist all of the sudden passing me on my right side going roughly the same speed as I was 15 mph or faster, going against traffic. I never saw him at all till the last second, since the sun at that time was directly in my eyes. If I had collided with the other cyclist, I would have gotten banged up, but I always wear a helmet so I presume I would have lived. I’m not sure if the other rider would have been so lucky, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. A word to all riders wear a helmet, it my save your life some day.

  8. JD says:

    We offer up our sincerest heartfelt prayers for the family and friends of the victim.

  9. […] Bike Lab, riding salmon dramatically increases the force of any impact. Read the full story at BikinginLA. Condolences to the young man and his […]

  10. Keith says:

    Reblogged this on The Weekly Nabe and commented:
    Salmoning is about the stupidest thing you can do on a bike. The situation might have played out my greatest fear: that I’ll be approaching an intersection when a delivery guy turns blindly in front of me at full speed, leaving neither of us any time to react.

    My thoughts are with the victim and his family.

  11. […] were highlighted recently in a tragic collision between two cyclists in Los Angeles.  According to and the San Gabriel Tribune, a cyclist who collided with a salmon rider suffered fatal head trauma […]

  12. Jonathan says:

    I miss bicycling everywhere. I would ride my bike every place up in Eugene Oregon. People drive crazy down here and there aren’t enough dedicated lanes so I simply don’t ride anymore.

  13. Mike says:

    Please join Cyclists Against Salmon Riders on Facebook.

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