Update: Bike rider dies four days after he was rear-ended in Long Beach crash

People on bikes are taught to take the lane to improve their visibility and safety.

Sometimes that’s not enough.

And sometimes, all the doctors and nurses in world aren’t enough to undo the damage that can result.

According to a release from the Long Beach Police Department, 39-year old Crestline resident Bryan Lembke died Sunday, four days after he was struck by a driver.

Lembke was riding in the center of the right lane on westbound Spring Street through El Dorado Park around 4:40 am last Thursday, when he was run down from behind by a driver as he approached the San Gabriel River.

In other words, he was exactly where he was supposed to be. And was rear-ended anyway.

He suffered major injuries to his head and body, and was taken to a local hospital where he died.

The driver is identified only as a 53-year old man from Cypress. He remained at the scene, and was released pending further investigation.

No word on whether Lembke had lights and reflectors on his bike in the early morning darkness. And no word on whether police have obtained a warrant to check the driver’s phone to see if he was driving distracted.

Anyone with information is urged to call Accident Investigation Detective Sirilo Garcia at 562/570-7355. Anonymous tips may be submitted through LA Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800/222-TIPS (8477) or visiting lacrimestoppers.org.

This is at least the 45th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 23rd that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

Update: A comment below from the mother of Lembke’s son indicates that he did have front and rear blinking lights on his bike, as well as a solid white headlamp on his helmet. 

A crowdfunding campaign raising funds for his son’s education has raised over $15,000 of the $25,000 goal.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Bryan Lembke and all his loved ones.

Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up. 



  1. Ugh. I used to ride on Spring Street through El Dorado Park frequently when I worked at the Long Beach VA Med Ctr. This was back in the pre mobile phone, pre infotainment days when bike riding on city streets wasn’t full on Russian Roulette. As I’ve written before, I live only 3.5 miles from work and there is a striped off “bike lane” the whole way and it’s a fairly quiet suburban street (Algonquin and Heil Ave, in Huntington Beach) the whole way. I’d love to ride my bike to and from work every day, but I had too many close calls from behind and saw too many drivers looking down at whatever while making oncoming left turns into me that I actually started getting what I call bicycle PTSD. I have a good friend (fellow medical oncologist) who got hit, thrown through the air, with multiple bone fractures (including hip) and two amputated fingers. And this friend had a neurosurgeon friend who was killed in a run down from behind. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but even paranoics have fears grounded in reality. It’s really not worth the anxiety, no matter how the statistics are analyzed.

    • JJD says:

      Our prayers go up for the family and friends of Mr. Lembke.

    • Larry Weisenthal I don’t blame you. Was the neurosurgeon killed in Indian Wells in the Coachella Valley where I’m based? I don’t ride on busy roads anymore either, that’s one reason I put together enCYCLEpedia Southern California for safer riding. In several locations I ride on sidewalk bike paths out here adjacent to roads where cyclists were killed in the bike lanes by distracted drivers. Unfortunately those paths aren’t conducive to fast riding so most road cyclists have no choice but to risk their lives on the roads. You’re lucky to have the San Gabriel & Santa Ana River Trails, and others, for safe workouts. We’re getting the state of the art CV Link regional path but Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells located dead center of the path are banning it which puts a damper on the project and lives at risk.

  2. James says:

    My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Bryan Lembke. Very sad news.

    I also ride that stretch of Spring Street enroute to the bike path several times a week. While the bike path and surrounding park area offers safe riding, that section of Spring remains perilous, with cars coming off the 605 too fast.

    Perhaps this tragedy might lead to bike lanes or other protective measures in that area. I’ve contacted the city to inquire.

  3. Lauren O'Connell says:

    Bryan in fact DID have blinking lights on the front and back of his bike. He was also wearing a headlamp.
    My son now has to go through life without his father.
    There is a GoFundMe set up entitled: Remembering Bryan Lembke, that will help with his sons education expenses.

    • brian says:

      thoughts and prayers to the Lembke family.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for letting us know about Bryan’s lights; I’ve added that information to my story, as well as adding a link to the GoFundMe page.

      Please accept my best wishes for both you and your son.

  4. Amy davis says:

    I saw the memorial for this man at the park by where I live. So sorry for your loss. I’m not blaming the victim, who was riding according to the law, but why, why, why are cyclists taught to ride in a manner as if they were cars?!?! There’s no way in hell I would ride with traffic and trust my life to a bunch of cars that outweigh me by 2000 pounds, traveling at speeds far higher than I can pedal, and driven by people who feel like they have more important things to do than watch the road. (Not implying this is the case here). I ride against traffic, if I ride in the street at all. At least I can see what’s coming, and hopefully get out of the way. When I ride, pretend that everyone is trying to kill me- sometimes it feels that way.

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