Arizona toll rises to 19 including two dead, how to protect yourself on two wheels, and Ballona Creek path could be extended

Make that 19.

The number of victims in Saturday’s bicycling massacre in Phoenix suburb Goodyear, Arizona has risen to two dead and 17 injured.

NPR reports the victims of the crash have been identified as a woman from Goodyear and a man visiting from Michigan, both 61-years old. Eight people remain hospitalized, with one in critical condition.

According to the AZ Central website,

Goodyear Mayor Joe Pizzillo also offered his condolences to those whom the fatal collision had impacted.

“We have a tight-knit cycling community, so this has deeply affected many across the West Valley,” Pizzillo said at a news conference at the city’s police station. “But a tragedy like this affects the entire community of Goodyear.”

Twenty-six-year old driver Pedro Quintana-Lujan reportedly told police his steering had locked before the truck drifted right and ran down the riders, likely one and two at a time. One victim said he wasn’t actually struck by the truck, but by the bodies of victims piled on its grill.

Police report there is currently no indication that the crash was intentional. The results of a blood test to determine if the driver was under the influence are still pending; however, as Arizona Bike Law points out, police would have needed evidence of intoxication in order to get a warrant for the blood test.

According to AZ Central, court documents show Quintana-Lujan told police he had smoked marijuana with his wife the previous evening, roughly 11 hours before the collision.

There’s no report on whether police are looking at distraction as a possible cause, or have examined Quintana-Lujan’s phone.

The victims were participating in a regular weekly ride sponsored by the West Valley Cycle bike club. They were among 20 riders in the second of three groups taking part in the ride when the driver mowed them down, spewing bodies in every direction.

Which means only one person on a bike managed to avoid becoming a victim. Chillingly, no one was likely aware of the driver before he plowed through the entire group.

“No one really saw the truck because he pretty much hit the back of the group and came all the way through the group,” (club founder David) Herzog told NPR.

The driver was in a massive Ford F-250 pickup, designed with a flat front grill that would have acted as a sledge hammer when driven at speed; a trailer being pulled by the truck would have added mass while limiting maneuverability.

Quintana-Lujan faces a raft of charges after prosecutors threw the book at him, including two counts of manslaughter and three counts of aggravated assault; at last report, he was still being held on $250,000 bond.

A crowdfunding campaign for the victims has raised nearly $80,000 of the $120,000 goal.

On a personal note, I’m having a hard time coping with this one, and all the emotions it brings up. Like mass shootings, mass casualty crashes like this just shouldn’t happen. 

Photo from Pexels.

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BikinginLA sponsor Richard Duquette emailed to say the 65-year old bike shop worker seriously injured in the Goodyear crash that we mentioned yesterday had just helped him with his bike last month.

He also reminds all of us of something we have discussed here before, that one of the best ways to protect yourself is to max out the coverage on your own automotive insurance, which also covers you on your bicycle.

Buy the maximum Auto Uninsured/Under insured motorist ($500k min.) & excess Umbrella ($2M) coverage with a UM/UIM “rider” (not just liability) because YOU then control the amount of coverage, instead of relying on the defendant drivers insurance limit, if any, or if in the “course & scope of employers coverage”.

Mass crashes like this may prove difficult getting full compensation, as there will be multiple victims to apportion damages. So spending the money on strong insurance coverage is a critical family & financial planning investment as a bicyclist.

He explains more in this blog post from 2016.

Frequent contributor and San Diego bike advocate Phillip Young also offered his thoughts on how to avoid being a victim of a motorist.

A brightly colored bicycling kit especially with bio movement (bight color with movement) and a rear view mirror may save a trip to the emergency room (ER) or morgue. Easily seeing cars from behind with a mirror is essential situation awareness.

Wear brightly colored bicycling kit [Yellow Chartreuse (best), White (2nd Best) or Orange (3rd Best)]:

  1. Jersey
  2. Helmet
  3. Reflective vest
  4. Shoes, shoe covers, or socks and pants (bio movement)
  5. Front and back blinky lights. (lights with bio movement are the best on arms and legs)
  6. Spoke reflectors, front and rear reflectors, and other reflectors
  7. Rear view mirror (Third Eye bar end mirror is the best)

I can’t argue with any of his advice, although my personal take is to wear colors that contrast with the environment you’ll be riding in. Dark colors can be effective in bright daylight, while light or hi-viz colors are a must at night; we’ve all seen Ninja cyclists decked out entirely in black.

Or maybe we haven’t, which is exactly the problem.

I also believe in using multiple bright running lights, day or night, with a steady white light and flashing white light in front, and three flashers in back.

That’s based on the advice of bike crash survivor Mark Goodley, who researched the optimal approach to lights following the collision that nearly killed him.

I’ve never felt the need for a mirror, since I could usually sense a car coming up from behind before they got close enough to pose a danger. But now that I’m older, I find I get surprised more often, making a mirror a valuable safety tool.

And Young is absolutely right about wearing something attention-getting on your legs. I wear reflective ankle bands at night, and should probably up my shoe and sock game during the day, to ensure drivers see them pumping up and down.

I’ve been known to strap a light to my ankle, though that’s not always easy or comfortable.

I also advise adding front and rear facing bike cams, which could be the only way to provide your side of the story in a serious crash, because the cops will talk to the driver while you’re being hustled away by paramedics.

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Today’s must read comes in the form of an op-ed from Streets For All Founder Michael Schneider.

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Schneider bemoans the days when kids could walk and bike in their own neighborhoods.

Half a century ago, it was very common for kids to disappear into their neighborhood and play with other kids, often arriving by bike. This included the school commute. In 1969, 48% of children 5 to 14 walked or biked themselves to school. By 2009, this was down to 13%.

The result has been an enormous increase in children arriving by car. Anyone with school-age children is likely familiar with long and chaotic car dropoff lines in front of schools all over Los Angeles. The same applies to kids’ playdates, activities, sporting events, etc. — usually, children arrive and depart by car.

A large part of the problem — pun intentional — is the ever increasing size of motor vehicles, crowded into streets and lanes that remain the same size they were decades earlier.

The 1973 Honda Civic was 140 inches long and 59 inches high. Today, a Honda Civic is 168 inches long and 70 inches high. A 2015 Ford Mustang is 63% larger than its 1964 predecessor. A 2018 Mini Cooper is 61% larger than its 1950 counterpart. A 2013 Land Rover is 43% larger than a 1981 model. And a modern-day pickup truck or SUV is larger than a World War II-era Sherman tank.

As cars get larger, they squeeze space in existing roads, leaving even less room for pedestrians and cyclists. Where a kid on a bike might have been able to fit comfortably between parked cars and moving cars before, they are now more likely to be perilously sandwiched between them. Even just crossing the street has become harder because of the awful blind spots for drivers of modern,massive SUVs.

It’s more than worth a few minutes of your day to read the whole thing.

Because there’s no clearer sign that our cities have failed us than the way they’ve failed our children.

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Speaking of Michael Schneider, it looks like he won a major victory in the effort to extend the popular Ballona Creek Bike Path to near where the creek rises to the surface at its eastern end.

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An effort is underway at the state legislature to ban bans on sidewalk riding, in the absence of safe bikeways.

As the tweet suggests, allowing people to ride their bikes on the sidewalk when there’s no bike infrastructure present enables them to decide what is safest and most comfortable way to ride in that situation, without fear of getting a ticket for trying to protect your own life

However, it’s important to remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way, and we all have to ride safely and courteously around them.

Another bill sponsored by Streets For All would eliminate jail terms for transit fare evasion.

Now if we could just get someone to introduce a bill to permanently revoke drivers licenses from hit-and-run drivers.

Finally, the transportation and safety PAC is hosting their next virtual happy hour a week from tomorrow, with Culver City Vice Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin.

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The winds of political reform are finally blowing in Los Angeles County, as Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Holly Mitchell are proposing an expansion of the five-member Board of Supervisors, traditionally known as the five little kings for the power they’ve enjoyed over the years.

With the two sponsors on board, they just need one more vote to pass the motion.

And yes, that’s a good thing.

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Pasadena’s Municipal Services Committee will receive a report at this afternoon’s meeting recommending the city reject a proposed ebike incentive program; ActiveSGV calls for comments calling for rejecting the rejection.

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Has it really been that long?

Culver City-based street safety and bicycle education nonprofit advocacy group Walk ‘N Rollers is celebrating their 11th anniversary next month.

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Gravel Bike California rode up to the snow that fell over the weekend above the San Fernando Valley.

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This is what a city does when it’s serious about fighting climate change.

That tweet translates to:

Fighting pollution also means supporting Parisians in their transition to other means of transport.

This is what we do by offering numerous financial aids for the purchase of bicycles.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

No bias here. A writer for City Watch with a severe case of windshield bias calls for free transit use while rejecting bicycling out of hand, suggesting that “bike lanes and other traffic-“calming” measures are probably the worst approach since these practices constrict traffic flow creating more congestion, increasing engine idling, and in many areas exacerbating the inability for trucks to make deliveries, moms to drop off kids, or even to back into a parking space if that rara avis should become available.” You can read her full misguided take, if you can navigate the site’s seemingly interminable popups. 

A Kiwi man says local officials laughed at him when he requested separate bike paths and underpasses for bicyclists at a new roundabout that’s under construction, warning that the dangerous design could result in a bike rider being killed in the first year.

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Local 

Streetsblog offers a wrap-up on Sunday’s successful CicLAvia in the San Fernando Valley, along with a schedule of upcoming CicLAvias; the next one will be Mid City meets Pico-Union the day before April’s Tax Day. Get your taxes done early so you’re not stuck at home with a pile of receipts, when you could be out enjoying the carfree streets.

The long-awaited Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle and Pedestrian Path on the new $1.5 billion Long Beach International Gateway Bridge is slated to open in May, following the completion of demolition work on the former Gerald Desmond Bridge; the path is named for longtime local bike advocate Mark Bixby, who was killed in a Long Beach plane crash along with four other community leaders.

If you need a cop to come out to a relatively minor crash in Long Beach, better tell the dispatcher you think the driver is drunk or stoned or you won’t see one.

 

State

California is offering $33 million to underserved communities to launch and support new and existing shared mobility projects, including bikeshare.

San Luis Obispo is considering allowing bike riders onto the sidewalk.

 

National

A Honolulu TV station considers bicycling as part of their Multimodal Mondays.

Hiking advocates question proposals in the Montana legislature that would allow ebikes anywhere that bicycles are allowed, including off-road trails. One thing that often gets lost in that debate is that ebikes provide backcountry access to countless people who would not be able to enjoy it otherwise. 

Dallas has combined 39 miles of existing bike trails with 11 miles of newly built bikeways to create a 50-mile loop around the city.

Oops. WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker almost didn’t become one of the most decorated aviators in American history, after cracking his skull attempting to fly his bicycle off a Columbus, Ohio shed in an attempt to imitate the Wright Brothers flight.

The family of a fallen New York bicyclist is suing the city for $100 million, alleging that nothing was done to fix the corridor she was riding on despite five previous deaths in less than two decades. They may have a case, since they can prove the city was aware of the problem, but didn’t correct it. Although the eventual settlement will be far lower than what they’re asking.

A Central Pennsylvania public radio station shares a poem about the intersection of bicycling and Alzheimer’s from Pennsylvania poet Henry Israeli.

Florida’s Highway Patrol is wrapping up their hit-and-run awareness month by telling drivers to stay at the scene after a crash, after Tampa Bay saw over 300 drivers flee this month.

 

International

Bike Radar examines how to prevent hand and wrist pain when you ride. A good padded handlebar tape and padded bike gloves help. So does relaxing your death grip on them in stressful situations.

A South London bike shop owner surprisingly argues that expanding the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will just cause chaos. Although the fact that he owns nine cars, and it would cost him the equivalent of nearly $100,000 to make just three of them compliant with the new rules, might have something to do with it.

It only took 18 months, but a London truck driver has finally been charged with killing a pediatrician who was biking to work after taking it up during the pandemic. But whoever designed the city’s Holborn gyratory, where eight bike riders have been killed in the last 15 years, should face charges, too.

A new dockless bikeshare service named Fredo aims to provide last-mile connectivity in suburban France. Although things did not end well for Fredo in The Godfather II. 

Austria gets serious about multimodal commuting by offering a subsidy of up to the equivalent of $636 on the purchase of a folding bike, but only for people with an annual transit pass; the country is also offering a subsidy of half off the price of an ebike, up to a little over $1,000.

Fatal car crashes surged in Germany last year; not surprisingly, bike riders and pedestrians remained among the most vulnerable victims, with death rates rising for both groups.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reports on the new study showing stolen Dutch bicycles usually remain in the city where they were taken, continuing to contribute to the local economy. Even if the original owners are screwed.

Arevo says they’ve fulfilled 96% of the more than 2,800 Indiegogo orders for their new Superstrata custom carbon bikes and ebikes, which are being 3D printed and assembled in Vietnam.

Tragic news from the Philippines, where a 14-year old boy was killed when he failed to round a corner on his bicycle, and rode off a 33-foot cliff; family members blamed the crash on a broken brake.

 

Competitive Cycling

Cycling Weekly says the opening weekend of the bike racing season has seen a shift from Jumbo-Visma to Soudal-Quick Step as the classics team to beat. And no, I didn’t know they have earthquakes in the UK.

Cycling Weekly’s point was driven home by the remarkable feat of Jumbo-Visma rider and Tour de France champ Jonas Vingegaard winning all four stages of the O Gran Camiño.

 

Finally…

Now you, too, can have your picture taken on a giant bicycle with Mexican conchas for wheels. That feeling when selling your bicycle means a more than 13 hour, 43-mile walk home.

And bbenfulton reminds us that reggae legend Peter Tosh was…uh, half of us, too.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

 

2 comments

  1. Ted & Biking in LA, thanks for publishing my comments & others about the Tragic AZ Crash.
    RIP to the bicyclists & condolences to the injured & the families.

  2. David Erickson says:

    “a rear view mirror may save a trip to the emergency room (ER) or morgue. Easily seeing cars from behind with a mirror is essential situation awareness.”

    Hear! Hear! I always use a rear view mirror, and I will never understand why so many other bicyclists don’t. Good situational awareness is even more important on a bike than it is in a motor vehicle. No one would drive a car without a rear view mirror, yet most bicyclists don’t use one. I just don’t get it. Blissfully ignoring everything that is happening behind you on a bike is a good way to end up dead or in the hospital. Wearing brightly colored clothing or daytime lights is a distant second choice for safety. It still relies on the competence and courtesy of the idiots in the motor vehicles to be effective, and obviously doesn’t work (actually it makes things worse) in those situations where the drivers are intent on scaring, harassing, or even hitting the bicyclists (as happened recently to Dr. Mammone in Dana Point).

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