This is who we share the road with.
Tuesday night, four young Pepperdine University students were killed by an alleged speeding driver on Southern California’s killer highway.
The four 20-year old college seniors were standing on the side of the road in an area locals call Dead Man’s Curve when the 22-year old driver slammed into three parked cars, knocking them into the women.
And making them all collateral damage on a roadway designed and build to accommodate, if not encourage, high speeds.
The driver, Fraser Michael Bohm, was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, which will likely be upgraded to four counts once he’s arraigned.
It’s only a pity that the people who have gone out of their way to keep this killer highway dangerous and deadly won’t face charges with him.
It was nearly a decade ago that I began representing the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, now BikeLA, on the PCH Task Force.
The task force was created by the state legislators who then represented the Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica and Ventura County areas to address safety and other concerns on the highway, with input from the various stakeholders.
The LACBC took an interest because PCH is such a popular route for bicyclists of all kinds. And claimed so many as victims.
In fact, it is the single most deadly roadway for bike riders in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The LACBC joined with other representatives to demand safety improvements to the highway, ranging from road diets and protected bike lanes, to eliminating roadside parking and reducing speed limits.
In almost every case, we were told what we were asking for was impossible. We were told the road, Malibu’s 22-mile long main street, was necessary to funnel commuters from Ventura County and the San Fernando Valley in and out of the LA area.
The overly wide traffic lanes, high speed limits that were nearly universally exceeded, slip lane right turns and roadside parking were all necessary to prevent excessive traffic congestion, or so we were told.
Never mind they also encouraged speeding drivers weaving in and out of slower traffic 22 hours a day. And put bike riders at needless risk of right hooks and dooring.
Caltrans, which has responsibility for the roadway, could have taken steps to dramatically improve safety years ago.
Malibu, Los Angeles and Santa Monica could have demanded changes that would have saved lives.
Sure, minor changes were made. A painted bike lane here, widening the shoulder there. But the killer highway remained, and remains, a deadly speedway for most of the day and night.
Now four young women, who did nothing to put their lives in danger, are dead — victims of an alleged speeding driver, and the officials, engineers and bureaucrats who enabled him.
The young man behind the wheel is likely to be middle-aged before he gets out of prison, unless an overly lenient judge takes pity on him.
It’s just a pity that the others who have worked so hard to keep PCH so deadly won’t be there with him.
What a fucking waste.
A 2013 publication highlights the joys of biking sans helmets on SoCal’s deadliest highway.
San Diego media sources were whipped into a tizzy by “startling new statistics” from the city’s Rady Children’s Hospital, which shows increasing rates of ebike and e-scooter injuries, especially among children.
Yet once again, they fail to put any of it in context.
Injuries can be expected to rise with increasing rates of any activity. If more people started playing Frisbee golf, we’d see rising rates of arm and impact injuries as a result.
What matters is whether those injuries are rising faster than the increase in ridership, or becoming more serious than a baseline of bicycling injuries.
Unless and until we have that context, reports like this are nothing more than a concerning, but anecdotal, data point.
Frequent contributor Megan Lynch forwards news that UC Davis journalism students, not the professional press, are digging into what’s been done since a student was killed by a university employee while riding her bike.
I was lucky enough to be logged on to Mastodon at the time the MuckRock bot sent this through. Otherwise I’d never have known someone was finally making a CPRA request on this. Sadly, it was not made by UC Davis student journalists, but students in a journalism class at University of Nevada, Reno.
You may remember that (19-year old sophomore) Tris Yasay was killed by a yet-unnamed UC Davis employee driving a UC Davis sanitation truck on May 25, 2022. First responders were all UC Davis employees as well (UCDPD and UCDFD). Local press didn’t ask many questions and the few that the Davis Enterprise followed up on was because I got after the reporter about it. It still wasn’t what was needed. UC Davis was successful in burying the questions.
Months later, its PR flacks linked the “accident” and the grant they applied for re “cyclist and pedestrian safety” that simply targets pedestrians and cyclists for re-education, not its own drivers.
So far as I know, UC Davis has not done any campaign to re-train its own drivers or at least it has not publicized one. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that the claim was that the driver could not see the cyclist in the side view mirror. In which case, the position and efficacy of these mirrors needs to be examined. Because cyclists are a regular feature of the UC Davis campus and if the side view does not accurately reflect what’s going on, drivers should be trained to crane their heads around and look for themselves BEFORE turning. “Blind” spots should be minimized on the vehicle.
But haven’t read about any of that happening.
I’m interested to see what the student journalist finds and if the MuckRock interface will let everyone see it when UC Davis responds. They also requested the City of Davis Bicycle Action Plan.
Our Deutschland correspondent Ralph Durham forwards a newsletter from the ADFC, aka General German Bicycle Club, on the subject of licensing bicycles, and why that’s a bad idea.
Here is a link to the ADFC newsletter on the subject of bike license plates. And their list of reasons not to have them. A huge one is the cost because of bureaucracy. Something Germans know a little about.
However, you’ll either need to read German, or dump the story into a translation service like Google Translate.
I used to ride this same route almost daily to get to Lake Hollywood when I first moved to Los Angeles about a hundred years ago.
It didn’t feel safe then, and it feels a lot less safe now.
This is the scariest part of one of my commutes.
Cahuenga E northbound.
Over the last 100 years we have widened the Cahuenga pass to add more car lanes. 15 lanes of traffic.
— BikeLanesLA (@BikeLanesLA) October 17, 2023
Bike Talk posts their latest episode, starting with questioning the effectiveness of Vision Zero on both coasts.
— Bike Talk (@biketalkpfk) October 19, 2023
LA County wants your input on proposed bike paths in the county.
Help us update the LA County Bicycle Master Plan. 🚲 pic.twitter.com/J3TavZOUtE
— Streets For All (@streetsforall) October 18, 2023
West Hollywood’s city council voted to end the city’s e-scooter trial phase and extend their contracts with Lime and Bird, although by a narrow 3 to 2 margin; the increasingly conservative WeHoVille site predictably did not approve.
Calbike claims a number of “big” legislative victories that survived the governor’s desk, along with concerns about bills creating an ebike safety study and a Caltrans bike czar.
The Kern County coroner’s office has finally identified the 39-year-old woman killed by a driver while riding her bike in Bakersfield last month; the CHP continues to blame her for crossing in front of the driver’s car.
The two people killed by shifting lumber form a passing Freightliner truck while riding their bikes on Napa County’s Silverado Trail were identified as a married couple from Portland, Oregon; no word on why they were riding in Napa. It’s questionable whether the driver gave them the required three-foot passing distance, which might have spared them from the impact.
No one seems to like San Francisco’s new Valencia Street centerline protected bike lane, as advocates call it dangerous and counterintuitive, while merchants along the street say it’s killing their business.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is looking for a new executive director once again, as current ED Jannelle Wong is stepping down after just 18 months on the job.
NPR reports on the recent study that shows regular bike riding can improve mental health for middle school students. Which is one more reason for Safe Routes to Schools.
Bicycling offers a requiem and post-mortem for the popular Surly Cross Check, which has been discontinued by the bikemaker. This one doesn’t seem to be available from other sources, so you’re on your own if the magazine blocks you.
Friends of 32-year old BMX champ Nathan “Nate” Miller want to know why the Las Vegas driver who killed him hasn’t been charged for the September crash, after security cam video surfaced showing the speeding driver jerking between lanes before crashing into Miller’s bike, then crashing into a fence and a parked vehicle.
The wife and daughter of fallen former Bell, California police chief Andreas “Andy” Probst first realized he was injured when they got an alert of a fall from his Apple Watch, then heard police sirens and helicopters just blocks from their Las Vegas home; two teens face murder charges for intentionally running down Probst in a stolen car, apparently just for the hell of it.
A 62-year old Florida woman has been identified as the hit-and-run driver captured in a viral video crashing into an 11-year-old girl riding her bike in a school parking lot, and pushing her at least 60 feet with the car; instead of helping the girl, she just got out of her car, asked if the victim was okay, and told her to just go home and take a shower.
Once again, a cop has killed someone riding a bicycle, this time in Marion County, Florida, where a 22-year old sheriff’s deputy ran down a 63-year old man early Wednesday; investigators quickly blamed the victim for riding on a dark roadway without a helmet or reflective clothing, or using lights on his bike. Because apparently, patrol cars in Florida don’t have headlights that could have illuminated someone riding a bike.
Inside EVs says the new European Declaration on Cycling offers 36 principles aimed at advancing bicycling in the European Union, laying the groundwork for future legislation to unlock the full potential of bicycles.
An Australian woman has been seriously injured riding her bike, less than a week after warning a Victoria state parliamentary inquiry into road safety about the extreme risks bicyclists face on the country’s roads.
Sad news from Arizona, where longtime bike racer John Timbers, a previous winner of the Iron Horse Classic and the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, and founder of Arizona’s Vuelta de Bisbee stage race nearly five decades ago, was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike in Tucson early Tuesday morning; he was 78.
And who says you can’t do stunts on a heavy-ass bikeshare bike?
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin