Tag Archive for Imperial County

At least 83 people killed riding bikes in SoCal last year, no more “car oopsies,” and Sartre and Hackman are one of us

Let’s start with a followup to yesterday’s news.

As we noted, 18 people were killed riding bicycles in Los Angeles last year, a 20% jump over the year before. And ten more than the eight we had counted.

That news confirmed that running total of bicycling deaths maintained on this site was a dramatic undercount. Because too many tragedies on our streets never make the news, and the LAPD is often too slow in releasing reports of bicycling deaths.

If they ever get around to it at all.

Adding those 10 extra deaths to our totals comes out to 35 bicycling deaths in Los Angeles County last year, which compares to 34 in 2019, and around 30 in 2020, when we saw a similar problem confirming bicycling fatalities.

Orange County showed just seven deaths last year, which again seems like an undercount compared to 15 in 2020, and 13 in 2019.

San Diego County suffered through a horrible year, with 17 bicycling deaths, compared to just seven in 2020 and four in 2019.

The nine deaths in Riverside County fell in line with previous years, with ten in 2020 and eight in 2019.

The same is true for San Bernardino County, where seven people lost their lives riding bikes last year, compared to five in 2020 and eight the year before.

Ventura County showed a significant jump, with eight deaths in 2021, double the total of four for 2020, and six in 2019.

Finally, there appeared to be no bicycling deaths in Imperial County last year or the year before, compared to two in 2019. Although it’s easier to get light out of a black hole than news from Imperial County, so take that with a grain of salt.

But bear in mind these are only rough estimates, based strictly on reports in the press or announced by the police, the coroner or some other credible source.

Each death included here has been confirmed, eliminating any risk of an overcount; if anything, this is more likely to be an undercount. I’ve heard of several bicycling deaths over the past year that I haven’t been able to confirm, and so haven’t included them in these totals.

That leaves us with at least 83 people killed riding bicycles in the seven county Southern California region last year.

Eighty-three mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and loved ones who were not here to greet the new year.

And likely more.

Maybe many more, when we finally see the official government totals in a few years.

Photo by Ted McDonald from Pixabay.

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The older term was more accurate.

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Gene Hackman is one of us.

And boy do I want to be like him when I grow up.

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A soaked Sartre on a foldie.

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Those vintage ice bikes we shared with you yesterday?

They’re still a thing, if somewhat more stable now.

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

No bias here. And apparently, no sense of irony either, as a proposed new Virginia law would would charge people on bicycles twice as much as motor vehicle drivers for rolling a stop sign, despite the people in the big, dangerous machines posing a much great risk to others. And just try impounding people’s cars for a simple traffic violation.

https://twitter.com/yitgordon/status/1480610900444778496

At least they’re honest about it. The BBC backtracks on an earlier story claiming new bike lanes are responsible for making London the world’s most congested city, correcting it to lay blame on a number of factors; a reporter admits that the “anti-cycling angle ‘gets more readers.'”

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Reminiscent of the infamous Crimanimalz ride on LA’s Santa Monica Freeway more than a decade ago, over 100 people taking part in a Berkeley ride out took over the right lanes of the I-80 Freeway on Sunday, before they were escorted off by a CHP officer. As someone else pointed out, despite their scofflaw behavior, fewer people are killed by bicycle ride outs than everyday motor vehicle traffic. Thanks to Keith Johnson for the heads-up.

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Local

No news is good news, right?

 

State

Huh? A San Diego letter writer criticizes the Union-Tribune for using the widow of a fallen bicyclist to illustrate the need for safer bikeways, saying that safety was never raised as a reason for bike lanes on 30th Street, because everyone knows it was too dangerous to ride a bike there.

A 20-year old Merced woman is under arrest after she was found with a man’s stolen bicycle, which was taken when the man was smashed in the head with a hard object; her alleged partner in crime is still on the run.

San Francisco Streetsblog says a fix to the formerly unprotected bike lane used by an SUV driver to bypass stalled traffic last year, killing a pedestrian in the process, still wouldn’t stop anyone with its new car-tickler plastic bendie posts. Although that may not be quite the way they phrased it.

 

National

How not to bonk on your next mountain bike ride.

E-pickup maker Rivian has applied for an ebike trademark, suggesting a foray into bikemaking could be in their future.

A Houston paper says the local bike lanes in the auto-centric city are an “absolute joke and incredibly dangerous to any cyclist who decides to risk it and ride in them.So, it’s like most other major cities, then.

A writer for Chicago Streetsblog questions who we should really be building bike lanes for, concluding that they should be for inexperienced bicyclists who’d like to ride more, rather than more confident, experienced riders.

 

International

UK GQ recommends stylish and practical panniers for your bike. I’ll take the bright yellow leather ones, thank you very much. 

That feeling when a drunk Irishman breaks into your home and demands an ebike charger. Probably for the e-scooter he just stole to carry your television out on.

A German sociologist concludes that bicycles are becoming status symbols, since poorer people are more likely to drive to show they can afford it, while bike riders tend to be wealthier and more educated, and more likely to send a message by choosing to ride. Methinks he’s full of scheisse.

Life is cheap in Israel, where a professional soccer player was given early release for good behavior after serving just two years for the hit-and-run death of a 17-year old ebike rider.

Popular Bangladeshi actor Bappy Chowdhury is one of us, taking a spill after losing his balance while filming a scene on a bicycle.

An Indian man learns the hard way that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, as he orders a $600 bicycle from a discount site for just $155 — and gets a box full of scrap.

No surprise here. A Singapore report shows an average of 560 serious crashes involving bicyclists in each of the past five years, compared to just 90 a year on bike paths and park connectors. Meanwhile, the island city-state requires ebike and e-scooter user to pass an online test and carry a certificate with them when they ride.  And no, I don’t know what a park connector is, either.

Most of Japan’s abandoned and second-hand bicycles end up in Cambodia’s thriving used bike market.

 

Competitive Cycling

A team of Bangladeshi bicyclists set a new Guinness record for a relay team by riding 1,037 miles in just 48 hours.

VeloNews says UCI is disrespecting women’s cycling by banning team kits, while disrespecting women’s cycling themselves by hiding the editorial behind a paywall.

It’s time to head to Austria and get your snow bike racing on.

 

Finally…

That feeling when your toddler arrives in a bike trailer like an aristocrat. Stop your kid’s balance bike by remote control.

And can we have these on every street?

Please?

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

Man on bike killed when he’s run down by driver on Calexico highway; police blame victim for riding legally

Never put it past the police to blame a victim for riding legally in the traffic lane.

That appears to be the case in Calexico, where an unidentified man was killed while riding his bike on a local highway just before sunrise Tuesday.

According to KYMA-TV, the victim, who appeared to be in his early 30s, was riding his bike somewhere on Highway 111 when he was struck by a southbound van driver.

A spokesman for the Calexico Police Department stressed that the victim was wearing dark clothing, and “was not riding off to the shoulder, as bicyclists should be riding.”

Except there is no requirement under California law that says how someone on a bicycle has to be dressed. And absolutely nothing requiring bicyclists to ride on the shoulder, which is not legally considered part of the roadway.

It’s true that people on bicycles are required to ride as far to the right as practicable. But as far as the law is concerned, that requirement ends at the white line.

It may be wiser to ride on the shoulder, in some cases, but many people prefer the traffic lanes to the broken glass and rocks that collect on unswept shoulders.

Even the DMV says that bicyclists may ride in the center of any substandard lane for increased visibility; drivers are expected to not only see them, but move to the other lane to go around them.

Dark clothing or not.

And substandard is defined as any lane too narrow for someone on a bicycle to safely share with another vehicle, while leaving a minimum three-foot passing distance.

Frankly, there is something terribly wrong when the people who are charged with enforcing the law appear to be so ignorant of it.

And don’t get me started on the local TV station insisting on showing the victim’s blood running off the highway.

This is at least the 70th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second that I’m aware of in sparsely populated Imperial County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones. 

Update: Drinking, unlicensed hit-and-run driver slams into four bike riders in El Centro, killing 44-year old man and injuring 3

It’s not often we hear from Imperial County. And when we do, the news usually isn’t good.

That’s the case today, when an unlicensed driver swerved off the road and struck a group of people who were riding their bikes in El Centro Sunday morning.

The four were riding north on the shoulder of State Route 111, just south of Interstate 8, when they were rear-ended by a 31-year old woman around 7:30 am, killing a 44-year-old man and severely injuring a woman.

Two others suffered minor injuries.

The driver was arrested shortly later after fleeing the scene. Officials said she had been drinking, but was not legally intoxicated, and didn’t have a valid license.

The victims were all reported to be Mexican citizens.

This is at least the 55th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Imperial County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 44-year old Emeterio Millan of Mexicali, Mexico. 

The most seriously injured victim was flown from El Centro to Palm Springs for treatment, while the Mexican consulate was working to help the other victims and get Millan’s body back home to Mexicali. 

The driver, a resident of El Centro, is being held on $150,000 bond on felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter charges.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Emeterio Millan and all his loved ones. And best wishes for a fast and full recovery to all those injured in the crash. 

 

Florida man killed, woman loses part of leg in Imperial County bicycle collision; first SoCal bike death of 2019

That didn’t take long.

The Imperial Valley Press is reporting that a bike rider was killed in an Imperial County crash, just two days into the new year.

According to the paper, a 25-year old Florida man, who has not been publicly identified, died after he was struck by a driver while riding in Imperial County’s Slab City Wednesday night.

A 23-year old woman who was being towed in a cart behind his bike was seriously injured, suffering a partial amputation of her leg, as well as a broken arm and facial cuts.

Her dog, who was apparently in the cart with her, was also killed.

The crash occurred around 7:52 pm Wednesday on Beal Road, near The Range dance club in Slab City.

The victim was apparently riding on the wrong side of the road when his bike was struck head on by a car traveling at 50 mph; there’s no word on whether he had lights on his bike in the desert darkness.

The driver remained at the scene, and was not suspected of being under the influence.

This is the first bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first I’m aware of in Imperial County in the nearly two years.

Update: I’m told they did have lights on the bike, and were struck when they were cut off by a driver, forcing them onto the wrong side of the road. The victim is reportedly recovering from multiple injuries.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victims and all their loved ones.

69-year old bike rider killed in Calexico; first bicycling fatality in Imperial County since 2012

Sadly, sparsely populated Imperial County’s three year record of no bicycling fatalities ended on Friday.

According to KXO radio, 69-year old Irineo Martinez Martinez was hit by a semi-truck as it was making a right turn while he was trying to cross the road at Cole and Rockwood in Calexico around 8:30 pm Friday.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. No other information is available.

A street view shows a major intersection with at least two lanes in every direction, along with multiple turn lanes; no word on which direction Martinez was traveling, or where the truck was turning.

This is the fourth bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Imperial County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Irineo Martinez Martinez and all his family. 

Analyzing 2011 SoCal cycling fatalities: Los Angeles — and door zones — may be safer than you think

Earlier this month, we remembered the people behind the statistics, the victims of cycling collisions on Southern California streets.

Now lets take a look at the numbers. And some of the surprising findings those statistics reveal — including some that suggest Los Angeles could be your safest place to ride. And that the door zone may be a hell of a lot safer than we all think.

But first, a couple of big important disclaimers.

These stats are based strictly on the fatalities that I am aware of, whether they have been reported in the press or have come to my attention in other ways. It is entirely possible that there were other bicycling-related deaths that I don’t know about.

These numbers also do not include non-fatal collisions. It’s possible that any given area could have had a high rate of injury collisions while having few or no fatalities. Or that one risk factor may result in a high rate of fatalities but few injuries — or the other way around.

The limited data I have to work with simply doesn’t show that.

Nor does it suggest why one area may appear to be more dangerous than another, even though I may make a guess at it.

And with that, let’s get on with it.

By my count, 71 cyclists were killed in traffic-related collisions in Southern California last year. That does not include another nine riders who were fatally shot — eight in Los Angeles County and one in San Diego.

Those 71 fatalities represent a dramatic increase over most recent years on record, with 55 cyclists killed in both 2008 and 2009. In addition, it’s slightly more than the five-year average from 2005 to 2009, at just over 68 traffic-relating cycling fatalities per year.

It also marks a return to the roadway carnage of 2005 and 2006, when 76 and 89 riders were killed, respectively.

Fatalities by county: 2011       2009*       2006**     Ave. 2005 – 2009

Los Angeles                24           22             24           24.2

Orange                       13           11             21           13

San Diego                   12           8               5             8

Riverside                     11           7              14            10

San Bernardino            6            4              11            7.4

Ventura                       4            2              11            4.6

Santa Barbara***        1            1               3             1.8

Imperial                       0            1               0             .4

As you can see, Los Angeles County has remained remarkably steady despite a dramatic increase in ridership, with an average of two riders killed per month. At the same time, while Orange County has dropped significantly from the horrors of 2006, it continues to reflect an average of more than one cyclist killed every month.

Meanwhile, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties all showed a 50% increase over 2009, though both Ventura and San Bernardino were still below their five-year averages.

At first glance, it would appear that Los Angeles County is by far the most dangerous place to ride in Southern California. However, L.A. is also the most populous of the eight counties included in this count.

Ranking the counties in terms of risk of death per capita reveals some surprises, with the eight counties ranked from worst to best:

County                    Population               Rate of death

Riverside                  2,100,516               1 death per 190,956 population

Ventura                   797,740                  1 per 199,435

Orange                    3,010,759               1 per 231,597

San Diego                3,001,072               1 per 250,089

San Bernardino        2,015,355               1 per 335,893

Santa Barbara***    405,396                  1 per 405,396

Los Angeles              9,862,049              1 per 410,919

Imperial                  174,528                   0 per 174,528

Unfortunately, there’s no objective measure of how many people ride bikes in each county. But surprisingly, these stats suggest that heavily congested L.A. County may actually be twice as safe as other heavily populated counties.

Those fatalities occurred in 53 cities and unincorporated areas throughout the region, with eight cities suffering more than one fatality last year:

San Diego   7

Los Angeles  5

Long Beach  4

Garden Grove  2

Redondo Beach  2

Pasadena  2

Riverside  2

Oceanside  2

Again, using the measurement of deaths per population reveals some very surprising results:

City                               Population                 Rate of death

Redondo Beach              66,748                      1 per 33,374

Pasadena                       137,122                    1 per 68,562

Oceanside                      167,086                    1 per 83,543

Garden Grove                 170,883                    1 per 85,441

Long Beach                    462,257                    1 per 115,564

Riverside                        303,871                    1 per 151,936

San Diego                      1,301,617                 1 per 185,945

Los Angeles                    3,792,621                 1 per 758,524

While multiple deaths in smaller cities may raise a red flag, they don’t really tell us much. Two deaths apiece in each in the first four cities could be a statistical fluke; just one more in any of the other 45 cities not listed here, and they could have made this list, as well.

It’s also worth noting that some of these cities, such as Oceanside and Redondo Beach, are destination areas for cyclists, with a level of weekend ridership that can far exceed their relatively small populations as cyclists pass through from other areas.

More interesting is the fact that the City of Angels, with it’s long-held reputation for car culture, bad streets and open hostility to cyclists, has significantly fewer fatalities per capita than Riverside and San Diego. Combined.

And at least in terms of fatalities, Los Angeles is over six times safer than bike-friendly Long Beach.

That could reflect any number of factors, from the possibility of better trauma care and emergency response times in L.A., to more dangerous streets in Long Beach — including Los Coyotes and PCH — that have yet to see the improvements that have made biking safer in other areas of the city.

But it’s shocking to think that you may actually be safer riding your bike in bike-unfriendly L.A. than the streets of the self-proclaimed most bicycle friendly city in America.

Then again, the real shocker is that L.A. could a hell of a lot safer than most of us thought.

Myself included.

Now let’s look at some equally surprising stats on how these collisions occurred.

Again, bear in mind that most of this information has been gleaned from media reports; in some cases, they offer a detailed analysis of the collision, and in others, barely mention anything more than the fact that it occurred.

We’ll start with the question of who was at fault.

  • Driver:  32
  • Cyclist:  28****
  • Unknown or both:  11

This is my own analysis of the collision, based on the limited information I have; it does not necessarily reflect how the police, sheriff’s or CHP may have assigned fault.

Especially since many investigative officers tend to be poorly trained in bike collision analysis and investigation, and often appear to be biased in favor of the motorist.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, I assigned hit-and-runs to the fault of the driver, on the assumption that an innocent person has little motive to flee — while recognizing that is not always true.

I have also assigned fault for solo collisions and riders hit by trains to the cyclist. Even though it’s possible that other factors, such as near misses by motorists or poor road conditions, may have contributed to the death in some way.

These numbers also err on the low side, reflecting only the information I have been able to document; in many cases, there was not enough information to make a determination.

And there may be multiple factors involved in any given collision, so these won’t add up to a total of 71.

So let’s look at some of the other numbers.

  • At least 25 riders were hit from behind — by far the leading cause of cycling fatalities in 2010
  • At least 13 were hit-and-runs
  • At least 12 were hit at intersections or driveways
  • At least 10 involved drugs or alcohol — and not always on the part of the driver
  • At least eight were hit while riding on or leaving a sidewalk
  • At least seven were hit head-on, usually while riding on the wrong side of the street
  • Seven were solo collisions
  • Seven victims were over the age of 70
  • At least six were killed after running stop signs
  • At least six were killed while riding in a marked bike lane or off-road bike path
  • At least six were killed in right hook collisions
  • Six 12 years old or younger
  • Another five were between the ages of 15 and 17
  • At least four weren’t using lights after dark
  • Three were killed by trains
  • Three were killed by out of control vehicles
  • At least two were killed by drivers running red lights or stop signs
  • At least two were killed distracted drivers
  • At least one was killed in a left cross
  • One was killed by a truck backing into a loading bay
  • One was killed, at least in part, due to poorly designed infrastructure
  • And just one was killed as a result of a dooring

Stop and think about that.

For decades, we’ve been taught that the door zone is one of the most dangerous places to ride; vehicular cyclists often refer to it as the death zone.

Yet these stats show just the opposite. You are far more likely to be killed in a hit-from-behind collision or at an intersection than you are by getting doored. And yet, the solution we’re invariably taught is to ride in the traffic lane, directly in front of traffic coming up from behind.

Maybe that’s because so many cyclists are heeding that advice and avoiding the door zone, while placing themselves at greater risk of getting hit from behind. Or maybe because hit-from-behind collisions tend to occur at higher speeds, reducing survivability, while doorings tend to be relatively slow speed collisions that are more likely to result in injury than death — especially if the rider is wearing a helmet to protect from head injuries in a fall.

And that’s not to say that riding in the door zone is safe. But it may be far less deadly than we have been lead to believe.

Of course, that’s not the only conclusion that jumps out from these numbers.

Like far too many drivers are willing to flee the scene, leaving their victims to die in the street. Too many cyclists run stop signs — especially when other vehicles are present.

Sidewalks remain dangerous places for cyclists, particularly where they intersect with streets and driveways.

Riders can lower their risk simply by riding on the right side of the road and using lights after dark. And staying of the roads after drinking or using drugs.

Ditto for stopping for trains; once the warning signals chime and the gates drop, stay the hell off the tracks. And that goes for drivers trying to beat a train, as well.

Bike lanes are no guarantee of safety. Yet there were fewer cyclists killed in bike lanes than on sidewalks and crosswalks, and far fewer than on streets without them. But that may just speak to the scarcity of bike lanes in most of Southern California.

Then there’s the single most glaring conclusion we can make from these fatalities.

Too many people have died, and continue to die, on our streets.

One is one too many; 71 is an obscenity.

And it’s clearly headed in the wrong direction.

Update: in response to one of the comments to this post, I’ve added information on how many of the victims were under 18; six riders were 12 or under when they were killed, while another five were aged 15 to 17. In addition, seven of the victims were over the age of 70.

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*Most recent year currently on record

**Worst of the five years on record

***I will drop Santa Barbara County from this count next year, to reflect the 7-county area included in the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG)

****Includes solo collisions and collisions with trains

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