Update: 39-year old salmon cyclist killed in Venice Thanksgiving night

It wasn’t a good Thanksgiving in Venice Thursday evening.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a 39-year old Venice resident was riding the wrong way on South Venice Blvd just east of Speedway when she was struck by a car turning left onto the one-way street from southbound Speedway.

According to the paper, the collision occurred around 5 pm.

Venice 311 reports the victim, who has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was riding without a headlight shortly after sunset, which occurred at 4:44 pm. The website says she lost balance before being struck, and fell under the car before being dragged roughly 10 feet until the driver was able to stop.

The driver reportedly did not see her riding the wrong direction in the gathering dusk. The visitors from Spain remained at the scene, and immediately called for help.

She was not breathing when firefighters dislodged her from the car, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The Venice 311 story includes a number of photos from the scene, including shots of the bike with the rear racks full and the contents of the handlebar basket spilling onto the street.

This collision serves as a tragic reminder to always ride with traffic, even on quiet streets; drivers won’t be looking for you coming from the wrong direction.

This is the 79th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 30th in LA County. It’s also the 11th in the City of Los Angeles.

Sadly, those numbers will grow, as I’m aware of one more recent fatality in the County of Los Angeles; more on that Friday.

Update: John Montgomery visited the site and offers his insights in the comments below, questioning why the driver took so long to stop, and observes that, as always, the victim is unable to give her side of the story. And notes that the LAPD has conducted a thorough investigation at the scene. 

Meanwhile, I’ve received some criticism for using the term salmon; Patrick Miller calls it a “condescending slur” to describe a cyclist riding against traffic — and New York’s famed Bike Snob, who some credit with originating the term, agrees.

While he undoubtedly popularized the term, it has been in use by cyclists for some time; I first heard it decades ago, and have been using it in conversation with other riders ever since. That is not to say Bike Snob did not come up with the term on his own; his original use of the term could easily have been the first time he and many others had heard it.

I have never considered it to be condescending or a slur in any way. It is simply an apt description of an act that is both dangerous and illegal, and one of the leading causes of bicycling collisions. 

No offense was intended. If any was taken, I apologize.

Update 2: The Free Venice Beachhead has identified the victim as 39-year old Summer Baker.

My deepest sympathy and prayers Summer Baker and her loved ones. 

Thanks to Joe Ryan and Venice 311 for the heads-up. 

5 comments

  1. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of the victim.

  2. This hit too close to home, literally and figuratively. It breaks my heart that this tragedy happened, especially when I feel even a light might have helped prevent the severity of it — even when salmoning. It is a dark intersection, and building proximity does obstruct driver views. But the street is a quite street, which can lull one into thinking it’s safe. It’s not,

    But at the same time, I was fairly shocked when I visited the site today in the daylight (I went last night as well). It’s a 3-way stop and the car should have started moving from a complete stop turning left onto South Venice. It looks like the distance from impact to the car stoping is at about 30 feet (I took a tape measure). 30 feet is a lot of distance at a low speed. I don’t quite understand how one could drive that far without noticing…especially when the victim was apparently caught in the wheel well. I admittedly don’t know the exact point of impact, but it is clear from the photos of where the bike fell.

    There’s no doubt that the cyclist bears responsibility here, going the wrong way on a dark street without a light. But I’m curious if there were other factors at play as well. Sadly, the cyclist doesn’t have a voice in recreating the scene and we can only rely on the account of the driver & passenger as well as the forensics.

    One thing to note. I was impressed that the LAPD seemed to be taking documenting the scene very seriously. The intersection was closed off for hours with complete measurements and photo documentation. They were absolutely not “phoning it in” so to speak.

  3. […] Our Daily Ted, Pt. 1. Update: 39-year old salmon cyclist killed in Venice Thanksgiving night […]

  4. M Hoffmann says:

    I was there with my wife that night and we witnessed the entire thing. It brings me some peace now to know who Sunshine is. I think about her everyday.

    My wife pulled out of the beach parking lot at dusk on Thanksgiving. We passed the sports car making the left turn. We saw a woman on a bike coming toward us. She stopped, tilted, and fell. Because my wife was concerned, she looked in the side mirror of our car to make sure she was ok and screamed, “Why isn’t he stopping? Oh my God, my God, he’s dragging her!” I told her to stop the car. I ran out. The red sports car had stopped. I saw the bike but not the person. The couple had gotten out of their car and were in shock. They saw what I was about to see. I looked at the front wheel and saw her. It was bad. I told them to call 911 but they didn’t seem to understand me (I did not know at the time that English was not their first language).

    I ran back to my wife and told her to call 911. When you call 911 from a cell, they expect you to tell them where you are. We didn’t know the exact streets and it was chaotic for a moment. The couple from Spain did call 911 but couldn’t speak to them. They were in shock and were devastated. I got on the phone with the operator and told her that they had to bring the jaws of life. I thought they would have to cut her out but they didn’t.

    I ran over to Sunshine. I wanted to hold her hand and let her know that everything was okay. That help was on the way. But she passed. I watched her take her last breath. She was not alone when she died. I was there with her. She will always be with me.

    So that Sunshine did not pass in vain, my wife and I committed to be better and more patient drivers. We will never assume people see us or know our intentions when we drive. When we walk around our city, we will always be cautious. We will never assume that cars see us. We will always see and be seen when we ride our bikes. I will continue to tell the story of Sunshine because she reminded me that the veil between life and death is thin. That you don’t have to be hit by a car going fast to die or get seriously injured. That killing someone with your vehicle will ruin your life as well. Be vigilant. Be patient. And always look both ways even on a one way street.

    Rest in Peace, Sunshine. Your passing was not in vain. You will always be with me and therefore, you live on in us. All of us.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thank you for sharing that. I know what you saw has to haunt you; I still can’t forget a fatal traffic collision I saw nearly 20 years ago. But please take comfort in knowing that, thanks to you, she did not die alone.

      And as difficult as it is, you’ve learned the right lesson from this. We all need to drive, walk and bike defensively, and always bear in mind the danger we all pose to others whenever we get behind the wheel.

      Best wishes to you and your wife.

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