Eighty-one. And eight.
That’s how many bike riders have lost their lives in what has turned out to be a horrible year for SoCal cyclists. And how many of those riders have died as a result of train collisions.
According to the LA Times, a male bike rider was hit and hilled by a Metrolink train in Pacoima this afternoon. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on Van Nuys Blvd when he attempted to cross the railroad tracks just north of San Fernando Road around 3:50 pm.
The paper reports he apparently tried to beat the train, despite the fact that the warning gates had already been lowered. He was struck by the 218 train on its way to Union Station in Downtown LA, and pronounced dead at the scene.
With this death, nearly 10% of the fatalities involving Southern California bike riders have been the result of train collisions — the easiest type of collision to avoid. All you have to do is stay off the tracks when there’s a train coming.
Unlike motor vehicles. trains are restricted to a specific pathway, and can’t vary their route in any way. And they have warning systems to let you know when they’re coming; all you have to do is squeeze on the brakes.
At least three of those eight deaths resulted from riders attempting to beat the train or ride around the warning gates. Which makes me wonder if they were truly attempting to beat the gates, or if at least some might have been fixie riders forced to ride through because they lacked the skill to stop in time.
Unfortunately, we may never know, since none of the reports identify the type of bike the victim was riding.
But it’s a question worth asking as we struggle to understand why so many riders have died in a type of collision that’s so easy to avoid.
This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 33rd in LA County. This is also the 14th rider to lose his life in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year, three time the average for the city.
Update: According to KCBS-2, the victim, identified only as a 30-year old Hispanic man, was riding west on Van Nuys at the time of the collision.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.
Update 2: Over two weeks later, there’s still no ID on the victim. He is described as a Hispanic man over 21 years old, about 5’2” and 144 pounds, with brown eyes and a black Mohawk, and a red stud earring in one ear. Anyone with information is urged to call coroner’s investigator Daniel Machian at 323-343-0754 or the coroner investigations division at 323-343-0714.