Tag Archive for pedestrian fatalities

Morning Links: Permanent memorial for young Valley bicyclist, Aussie distracted driving cams, and more NY anti-bike bias

One tragic note before we get started.

I’m told that a man from Altadena has been gravely injured in an apparent solo fall while riding with a friend in the Northern California backcountry.

The victim is currently being treated in a Bay Area hospital for severe neck, spine and brain injuries.

I’m withholding his name and other details for now out of respect for his family and their privacy.

But prayers or best wishes are definitely in order.

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He gets it.

Bike advocates rededicated the ghost bike for 15-year old Sebastian Montero, who was killed by a speeding driver while riding his bike in Woodland Hills on Easter Sunday last year.

The ceremony also saw the installation of the city’s first permanent marker honoring a fallen bicyclist, one of up to 20 per year the city will install with a reminder to drive safely.

Photo from Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s Twitter account

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield struck the right tone, reminding the small audience about the big hole Montero’s death left in the lives of everyone around him.

And that a simple sign wasn’t going to fix anything.

“The signs themselves are wonderful,” said Blumenfield. “[But] they’re not going to solve our problems with people dying on the roads.”

It will take a renewed commitment to Vision Zero by the people elected to serve all of us — not just the people in the big, dangerous machines.

And a willingness on their part to stand up to NIMBYs and angry drivers that has been sorely lacking in the city in recent years.

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Great idea.

Inspired by the death of his friend James Rapley, the Australian bike rider killed on Temescal Canyon while on a layover at LAX six years ago, an Aussie entrepreneur has developed an automated camera system designed to capture drivers illegally using a handheld cellphone.

The automated cameras from Acusensus are designed to work like red light or speed cameras to provide photographic proof of the driver breaking the law, along with the license of the car.

Presumably, tickets would follow in the mail.

It would likely require a change in the law to use them in California, where red light cameras are allowed at local discretion, but speed cameras are currently prohibited.

However, it should withstand privacy concerns, since there is no legal expectation of privacy for anything that is readily visible in public.

Although the state’s overly entitled drivers would likely rise up to complain, just like too many do over any attempt to hold motorists accountable and keep them from breaking the law.

But there are few things the state could do virtually overnight that would have a greater impact on safety and do more to save lives.

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No bias here.

The bike-hating New York Post says bike riders are killing pedestrians, and accuses the city of not doing anything to stop it.

Then they go on to explain there were seven pedestrian deaths in the last nine years — something works out to less than one a year, along with another 250 injured each year.

While one death is one too many, the paper doesn’t bother to mention how many bike riders were injured or killed in crashes with pedestrians.

Never mind who was actually at fault in those crashes.

And as anyone who has ever had a pedestrian step out into bike lane without looking, or turn suddenly in front of your bike can tell you, it ain’t necessarily the person on two wheels.

Nor do they bother to put it all in perspective by citing the 100-plus pedestrians killed by motorists each year.

Which only works out to a margin of slightly 100 to one, anyway. Making it pretty damn clear who represents the real danger to people walking.

But who cares about facts if it sells newspapers.

Right?

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Speaking of which, a New York study shows zombie pedtextrians isn’t really a thing after all.

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Go for a Monday mountain bike ride with the great Peter Sagan.

But maybe drop a little dramamine first.

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Thanks to Sgt. Helper for forwarding video of a bike-riding nun who could probably drop most of us.

Well, me anyway.

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Local

Hats off to LAPD officer Andrew Gonzalez, who rode his bike 300 miles from LA to Stanislaus County to deliver a flag to the family of a fallen Newman police officer who was killed during a traffic stop last year.

Katherine Schwarzenegger and Chris Pratt are two of us, as they enjoy married life on a mountain bike ride in Los Angeles.

NoHo’s Chandler Bikeway is set to get $1.2 million in improvements. None of which is apparently aimed at improving safety for bike riders.

E-scooters are officially banned in the ‘Bu.

The Daily Breeze recounts the story of deadly Vista Del Mar, including the failed 2017 attempt to install a road diet, which was ripped out when drivers insisted on their God-given right to go zoom zoom even if it keeps killing people.

 

State

A San Diego woman suffered severe head trauma when a driver leaving a parking lot smashed into her bike as she rode on the sidewalk. Yet another example of why riding a bicycle on the sidewalk isn’t as safe as most people think.

After a Murrietta boy was hit by a car while riding his bike, the kindhearted people at Target gave him a new one.

Sad news from Bakersfield, where a 56-year old bike rider died after allegedly making an abrupt left turn into the path of a pickup driver.

San Jose police bust ten suspects in a series of burglaries targeting bike shops, as well as construction sites and school districts in the Bay Area.

A San Jose columnist goes for the jugular, arguing that a bike rider killed in a head-on collision on popular Mount Diablo would be alive today if parks officials hadn’t ignored a judge’s 27-year old order to improve the roadway. Thanks to Robert Leone for the link.

Officials identified the victim in last week’s fatal hit-and-run in East San Jose as a 44-year old San Jose man. Thanks to Ralph Durham and Robert Leone for the heads-up.

Indicating a total misunderstanding of what speed limits are for, a Santa Rosa-area letter writer says drivers should be required to drive the speed limit, and bike riders should get the hell out of the way so they don’t slow down the more important people in cars. Just like drivers, bicyclists are required to pull over when safe to do so if there are five or more vehicles stuck behind them and unable to pass; the law does not apply if there are two or more lanes in each direction, or if the people can safely pass them.

Three new members were named to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis; the trio will be inducted November 2nd.

A Eureka woman was busted for trying to pass a phony $100 bill at a bike shop to buy a bicycle for…wait for it…$5.46. Sound like maybe she was getting a fake bike for her fake money, anyway.

 

National

New rules for the national parks system would allow ebikes on any trails other bicycles are allowed on, providing new access to the wilderness for older or less able-bodied riders.

Buzzfeed says Amazon’s next day delivery is bringing chaos and carnage to America’s streets, while the company avoids responsibility for the harm they’re causing.

New street design guidelines from the American Society for Landscape Architecture show why inclusive cities start with safe streets.

Guarantee your kid wins playtime at the park with his or her very own Harley-Davidson e-balance bike.

Portland police finally busted the bike thief who stole a 69-year old man’s $11,000 bicycle in a strong-arm robbery in July; a friend of the victim had filmed the thief riding it shortly after the theft.

A hit-and-run bike rider rode over the hind leg of an eight-month old Labradoodle puppy on an Idaho greenbelt, snapping it in two, then simply rode off. Which makes him no less of a cowardly a-hole than any heartless hit-and-run driver. Schmuck.

Kansas City MO develops the usual factions in the fight over bike lanes, as advocates argue for improving safety and boosting local businesses, while opponents fear harm to businesses and want to keep their dangerous streets just the way they are.

A Texas man refuses to take no for an answer after doctors told him he’d never ride a bike again when he lost his leg in a horseback riding accident, completing a 168-mile ride on a prosthetic leg he designed and built himself.

An 18-year old girl rode 550 miles on a tandem bike with her father from Chicago to Toronto for her first day of college, while a Flint MI bike shop owner saved the day when they developed a crack in their tandem’s steering tube.

More proof hit-and-run isn’t just a California thing, as Chicago police are looking for the heartless coward who slammed into a mountain bike rider, and left him to die on the side of the road. Thanks to Art S for the tip.

After a legally blind Indiana man’s bike was stolen, a friend spotted it on someone else’s porch and stole it back.

Congratulations to Ohio officials for keeping a dangerous driver on the roads until he killed someone. The alleged drunk driver who killed a bicyclist on Saturday had been charged with driving while impaired seven years ago, but prosecutors pled it down to a single count of reckless driving with a small fine; the victim was chief counsel to a former Ohio governor. Which means his blood is on their hands.

A driveway vigilante is under arrest after a New York driver took the law into his own hands, deliberately slamming his SUV into the screwdriver-toting bike rider he suspected of breaking into his vehicle, and killing him.

New York’s former parks commissioner says bike and pedestrian traffic in Central Park has become so chaotic and dangerous due to its growing popularity and lack of pedestrian and cycling safety infrastructure that he won’t ride his bike there anymore.

An op-ed in the New York Daily News says sure, bikes are all fine and good, but the city’s Belmont neighborhood needs its parking. Unlike, say, every other neighborhood that says the same thing, until they find out they’re actually better off with more bikes and fewer cars.

Need a haircut? A bike-riding New York barber says he’ll go anywhere to cut hair, traveling from Machu Picchu to Tokyo.

Now that’s more like it. A Philadelphia man is suing a delivery company for repeatedly blocking a bike lane, as well as the city’s parking authority for failing to enforce it.

A Delaware man who is “hardly a bike-phobe” says they’ve already had several bike riders killed in the area, and its totally the fault of those careless, lawbreaking vacationers on bicycles.

An op-ed in the Washington Post says we can have an enormous impact on improving our cities by making it easier to ride a bike and harder to drive a car.

Life is cheap in Virginia, where a woman walks without a single day behind bars despite a conviction for reckless driving in the death of a man riding his bicycle.

A new Clemson University study confirms that daytime taillights can significantly improve your safety. Speaking strictly for myself, I’ve had far fewer close calls since I’ve started riding with multiple taillights and an ultrabright headlight during the day. As much as it really pisses me off to have to do it. 

 

International

London is changing building design rules for skyscrapers to reduce the wind tunnel effect for bicyclists.

A British writer calls for taming the automotive hegemony on our streets by banning all car advertising.

Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden is one of us, too, going for a casual ride with her two daughters.

A new study shows cargo bikes are more efficient than delivery vans in urban areas, so the UK government put its money on…flying taxis.

It’s a long, long way to Tipperary, and an Irish columnist just wishes you’d show a little respect and use your bike bell on the way there.

Yet another study confirms the safety in numbers effect, as a new Belgian study shows motorists will adjust how they drive in relation to the number of bicyclists on the street.

South African police ended a nearly two-year reign of terror when they arrested a Zimbabwean man for murdering a bike rider and a hiker in a national park, as well as eight other nonfatal stabbings and muggings.

A New Zealand charity refurbishes bicycles to give to refugees, and teaches the recipients how to ride them, giving them new hope in the process.

An Aussie op-ed says just painting bike lanes on a street and assuming bicyclists will be safe and motivated to use them is delusional, and does nothing to encourage more people to give bike riding a try.

The Philippines considers a bill that would require elected officials to use public transport. We need something like that here, like requiring officials — elected and otherwise — to walk, bike or use transit at least once a week.

 

Competitive Cycling

A “crazy week” ends at the Vuelta with yet another leader change.

Cyclist looks at the winners and losers in the Vuelta’s first week, while Cycling Weekly confines itself to five talking points from stage 9.

One of those losers was Tejay van Garderen, who was forced to drop out with a broken finger following a crash on Thursday.

Rouleur considers how tiny Slovenia rose to the top of the cycling world.

A Mexican cyclist got a two-year ban after getting busted for doping. But the doping era is completely and totally over, right?

Once again, a bike rider is a hero, as a bicyclist competing in a Russian bike race loses control and veers off the course, but grabs a little girl to protect her as he falls.

Finally…

Yes, a bike lane can save your life the next time you inhale a wasp while riding. If you’re going to take your loaded shotgun into Home Depot, at least get off your bike first.

And don’t toss trash out the window of your chrome-covered Lambo.

Especially if there’s a bicyclist around.

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One final note. 

This is exactly how I feel when I post most mornings. Now if I could only figure out how to include a decent bottle of booze as a downloadable attachment.

Morning Links: Don’t walk the streets of Bakersfield, Wag heads enter scooter wars, and bike hating deer

Even Buck Owens would probably think twice about walking the streets of Bakersfield these days.

The Central Valley city is the seventh most deadly city for people to walk in the US, and the only one in the top nine that’s not in Florida.

Then again, you probably don’t want to walk at all in the Bible Belt.

Surprisingly, though, Los Angeles didn’t even make the top 20.

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A new Los Angeles-based startup created by the founders of the Wag dog walking service has hit the streets of San Diego.

Jonathan and Joshua Viner are positioning Wheels as the next generation in dockless personal mobility, a cross between an e-scooter and mini-bicycle that allows the rider to be seated instead of standing.

You can even recharge your cellphone. And play your music while you’re at it.

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We may have to deal with distracted LA drivers, but at least we don’t have to worry about taking a massive header over a bike-hating deer.

Usually.

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Turns out the left lane isn’t always the fast lane.

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Local

Sahra Sulaiman writes that Leimert Park bike crew Black Kids on Bikes passed the community service torch to a younger generation of bike riders at this year’s King Day Parade.

Streetsblog says the Arroyo Seco Bike/Walk Path is damaged from the recent rains, but still passable.

Popular Mechanics recommends three affordably priced bikes from Burbank’s Pure Cycles.

Homegrown bike service company Pedal Movement will take over operation of the Long Beach Bike Share, which will be expanding into more areas of the city.

State

The Orange County physician who prescribed drugs to driver who fatally ran down Costa Mesa firefighter Mike Kreza has pled not guilty to charges of illegally prescribing opioids; drugs from the alleged Dr. Feelgood also made their way into the hands of the Borderline shooter.

An Anaheim man was killed in a suspected gang shooting while riding his bicycle Tuesday night.

Bike SD co-sponsored a one-night Holiday Lane last December, closing down a major Pacific Beach street for a carfree community celebration.

Hats off to a group of kindhearted Thousand Oaks teenagers, who are collecting 400 bicycles, as well as wheelchairs, crutches and shipping costs, for impoverished kids in Puerto Rico and Africa.

A San Luis Obispo Facebook group forms the basis of a 280 member, all female mountain biking group called SLO Dirt Girls.

Sad news from Fresno, where a bike rider was killed when a driver was briefly blinded by another car’s headlights.

Candidates for the board of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition are being challenged on whether the bike advocacy group should accept money from car companies.

The Marin transportation board wants to steal a lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge back from pedestrians and bicyclists just a tad sooner than expected, cutting a promised pilot program from four years to six months so they can give it back to motorists.

Friends can’t explain why a Marin County man was riding bike on a freeway, where he was struck and killed by at least three separate drivers as he swerved back and forth across all three traffic lanes.

National

He gets it. In a Newsweek op-ed, a GOP advisor questions why car-choked cities are banning e-scooters. More proof that common sense traffic solutions are not a partisan issue.

A new analytical tool based on publicly available cellphone data allows cities to get a more detailed picture of how many people are walking and biking, and where they’re going.

CNN recommends walking or riding a bikeshare bike to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling for business.

The Shift Up podcast discusses why a Denver man shuttered his bike shop, and started his own line of $800 DIY cargo bike kits.

Denver gives its Vision Zero program a passing grade, even though traffic fatalities are up in the Mile High City.

You may soon be able to get drunk and ride your bike in North Dakota. Or your horse.

They get it. A Minnesota newspaper tells readers to be a hero and don’t drive distracted.

Seriously? A Minnesota police chief is serving a one week suspension for choking a 12-year old boy he mistakenly thought was trying to steal his mountain bike, when the kid was actually just trying to pick it up after it had been knocked down. I hate bike thieves as much as anyone, but he should have been fired the moment he put his hands on the kid’s neck.

New York police are looking for a bike rider who attacked an Uber driver and his car with a U-lock, then jumped on the roof and hood when the driver attempted to get away. There’s never an excuse for violence. But you’d think the press might wonder what the driver might have done to provoke it.

Residents of New York’s West Village complain about derelict bicycles left on the sidewalks.

A New Orleans artist yarn bombed a bikeshare bike, covering everything but the wheels and pedals.

Fort Lauderdale FL is banning e-scooters during spring break, apparently preferring to jam the streets with smog belching cars than allow partying students to get around on small, clean machines.

A Miami TV station shows video of the Wheels Up, Guns Down protest in Miami that led to a white driver pulling a gun and yelling racial epithets at a group of black teenagers; the bike riders were protesting the redevelopment of a housing project. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

International

Road.cc tests whether the new Pinarello Nytro ebike is faster uphill than a lightweight roadie.

Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry discusses why he loves riding his Vogue Elite bicycle around London. Note to Christies — it’s called a Dutch-style bicycle, not a ladies bike.

Sad news from Columbia, where a former dean from Vassar College was killed less than two-thirds of a mile into a planned 750-mile ride through the country.

Bolivia’s famed Death Road proved aptly named for a New Zealand bike rider, who slipped off a rain-slicked roadway and down a cliff while on a mountain bike tour with his fiancée.

Victoria, British Columbia plans to sacrifice a tree in one of the city’s busiest intersections to make room for bike lanes and a scramble crosswalk; urban forest advocates say not so fast.

For a monthly fee, a Dutch startup provides a working transportation bike and handles all the maintenance and repairs.

The most shocking thing about this video of a Swiss synchronized cycling team isn’t their amazing performance, it’s that AOL is still around.

National Geographic looks at the new 1,500-mile bike path that will connect cities and towns in eight Balkan countries when it’s completed. Thanks to the Previn Report for the heads-up.

A 27-year old Afghan man is trying to improve children’s literacy by riding his bike across the country handing out free books.

A homeless Australian man pled guilty to the hit-and-run death of a bicycling Dutch tourist; he was speeding at twice the speed limit in a stolen car on his way to buy drugs when he crashed the car.

Finally…

Now you, too, can be a virtual pro cyclist. Cars burst into flames, bikes aren’t supposed to.

And maybe there’s a better place they could have put this.

Just saying.

Morning Links: Los Angeles leads nation in pedestrian deaths, and CSUN petition to save campus LimeBikes

We’re #1.

Preliminary data from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association ranks Los Angeles as the deadliest county in the US for pedestrians, with twice as many deaths as the second-leading county.

San Diego and Orange Counties also ranked in the top ten nationwide.

Clearly, we’ve got a long way to go.

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The student association at Cal State Northridge has started a petition to save the school’s LimeBike program, after Councilmember Mitch Englander introduced a motion to temporarily ban dockless bikeshare from the streets of LA.

Thanks to Steve for the heads-up.

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Place your bids.

The CBS2/KCAL9 cycling team is auctioning off a new Giant TCR Advanced 2 road bike on eBay to benefit BikeMS.

Sounds like a good bike for a great cause.

And thanks to the cyclists at CBS2/KCAL9 for their efforts to give back to the community.

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Evidently, not everyone likes Santa Monica’s Bird scooters.

Thanks to David Drexler for the video.

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Local

Great letter to the editor from Jonathan Weiss saying if CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz really wants to understand how to save lives while keeping traffic moving, he should stop killing traffic safety studies.

Good piece for Streetsblog from Don Ward, who questions how Vision Zero can work when LA continues to prioritize speed.

Rapha offers a guide to bicycling in Los Angeles. Although anyone who comes to LA looking for “movie stars around every corner” is going to go home sadly disappointed. And there seem to be large, mostly non-white, sections of the city missing.

State

Santa Barbara gets its first protected bike lane, the first completed project from the city’s new Bike Master Plan. Although I have a hard time calling something separated from traffic by flimsy plastic bollards “protected.”

The rich get richer. San Francisco approves plans to extend a parking-protected bike lane in the South of Market neighborhood.

 

National

The road-raging Sante Fe NM driver who allegedly backed into a group of bicycling senior citizens says he just stopped in the middle of the road to confront the cyclists he claims flipped him off, and didn’t do anything wrong. Because apparently, he thinks slamming on his brakes in front of other road users and stopping in the middle of a highway is perfectly acceptable. Not that his story strains credibility or anything.

No surprise here. Aspen CO business owners are up in arms over plans to remove just 15 parking spaces to make room for a bike lane. Just like business people almost everywhere, they seem to like cars more than customers.

One way to keep homeowners from opposing a new Minneapolis bikeway — make sure they don’t have to pay for it.

This is why people keep dying on our streets. An Ohio driver who spent four years in prison for killing a bike rider while driving drunk is headed back to jail for once again driving drunk, despite a lifetime driving ban.

More employees are biking to New York’s La Guardia airport, even though that Port Authority has failed to come through with long-promised bike lanes.

Not surprisingly, New York’s Citi Bike bikeshare is having trouble getting users to ride bikes back uphill to higher stations.

DC is now a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community, something bronze-level Los Angeles can only envy.

International

Cycling Weekly offers advice on how to recover after hard rides.

Bicyclists in London — no, the one in Canada — criticize a half-billion dollar plan for bus rapid transit lanes, saying they don’t do enough to accommodate bicyclists and other non-motorized road users.

A Halifax, Nova Scotia letter writer says no, it’s the drivers who are hogging the roads.

A British correspondent living in India offers an outsider’s perspective on bicycling in the country — Manali-Leh highway good, New Delhi, not so much.

A letter writer in The Guardian says riding a bike isn’t an “act of ‘culture war,’ it’s a positive choice to make things better.”

An Irish paper explains why bicyclists need a safe passing distance.

Treehugger examines why car-crazy Germany is safer for bicyclists and pedestrians than the United States.

Some Indian high schools are providing all their students with bicycles, not just to provide access to school, but to level the playing field with better off students.

A planning student from Kathmandu finds echoes of Jane Jacobs in the ancient layout of Nepal’s major cities, and suggests emulating the Dutch and their bikeways is a better alternative than destroying the city to widen the roads.

A South African woman had her bike and cellphone stolen at knifepoint.

A New Zealand company is offering employees $10 a day to ride to work. Thanks to Jon for the link.

Caught on video: A Singaporean bike rider was wrestled to the ground after allegedly braking in front of a bus after the driver honked at him for riding too slowly.

Competitive Cycling

CNN looks at the efforts of the Kenyan Riders to become the first all-African team to qualify for the Tour de France. South Africa’s MTN Qhubeka, now Dimension Data, competed as a wild card entry in 2015.

A team of British cancer survivors will take on this year’s Race Across America, aka RAAM, to prove it’s possible to lead an active life after cancer.

Finally…

When the punishment for your shoplifting attempt is anything but kosher while trying to make a getaway by bike. Pity those poor, put-upon drivers.

And a writer for Outside says enough with the podium girls, already.

Enough indeed.

Update: Homeless man dies in collision with bike on Santa Ana River Trail

The Orange County Register broke the news late last night that someone had been killed in a collision with a bicyclist on the popular Santa Ana River Trail yesterday evening.

The collision occurred on the trail around 6 pm just north of Atlanta Avenue; the victim was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he died an hour later. Initial reports were unclear whether the victim was another cyclist or a pedestrian.

This morning, a reliable anonymous source in a position to know wrote to clear up the confusion.

58-year-old pedestrian Johnathan Charles Coontz was struck and killed by a cyclist on the Santa Ana river trail in Huntington Beach yesterday evening. He was a homeless guy, the type who collect recyclables, and he usually had a bike that he used for transportation and collecting cans, so my guess (just guessin’ here) is that at the time of the collision, maybe he was pushing a heavily laden bike, either while scavenging, or while returning to his encampment.

Homeless camp out in the clumps of thick shrubbery along this stretch of path. It’s not a place I ride, but not because of the homeless, who generally keep to themselves.  It’s just dark, you need really bright lights and you need to look out for drunks crossing the path.

Still hoping to find out anything about the cyclist.

There was some initial confusion about jurisdiction, but CHP will be the investigating agency.

It’s rare that a collision with a bike results in death, but as this incident shows, it can happen — and has happened before — usually involving a pedestrian, through fatal collisions with other cyclists have occurred, as well.

The statistic I’ve heard is that roughly six people are killed each year nationwide as a result of collisions with bicycles; however, I don’t know where that stat came from or how valid it may be.

But it’s a reminder to ride carefully in areas where other people may be present. I’ve seen cyclists plow through crosswalks crowded with pedestrians, forcing people to dodge them to avoid being knocked down.

And you don’t want to be the one who has to live with something like this for the rest of your life. Which is not to suggest the cyclist is at fault in this collision; we have no way of knowing yet what happened in this case.

As this recent helmet cam video from Michael Eisenberg clearly shows, it’s not always the cyclist’s fault — in fact, he reports he likely would have hit the man if he hadn’t he slowed down to 8 mph in anticipation of pedestrians in the area.

Update: The Register confirms the identity of the victim, though they list his age as 58 — or possibly 52, judging from the headline — rather than 62, and say he was a resident of Costa Mesa.

According to the paper, Coontz was riding north on an Electra Cruiser when he drifted onto the southbound side of the trail, where he collided with another rider. The other cyclist, a 52-year old man from Midway City, was hospitalized, as well.

And let’s not discount the tragedy because he was apparently homeless at the time of his death. Many people have fallen on hard times in this troubled economy, for any number of reasons. Whatever combination of factors may have brought Coontz onto the streets, there are undoubtedly those who loved him, and will miss him.

Update 2: Koontz’s family and friends remember him as one of the best surfers in Newport Beach in the 1970s.

Please accept my prayers and condolences for Jonathan Coontz, and all his loved ones.

It ain’t necessarily so — new study proclaims L.A. one of the nation’s most dangerous places to walk or ride

This morning, the L.A. Times discovered the unacceptably high rate of bike and pedestrians deaths in this city. Quickly followed by a number of other news outlets.

Only problem is, they got the story wrong.

The study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute looks at bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in New York and Los Angeles, compared to other large cities in the U.S.

They concluded that while bicyclists represent 1.7% in other cities nationwide, they make up 2.8% of traffic fatalities here in Los Angeles. And pedestrians fare even worse, with nearly three times as many deaths on L.A. streets, as a percentage of total traffic fatalities, as in the rest of the nation.

Needless to say, New Yorkers fared even worse, with cyclists making up 6.1% percent of all traffic fatalities, and pedestrians nearly half.

And the media took that limited and misleading information and ran with it, proclaiming — loudly and falsely — that L.A. and New York are exceptionally dangerous places to walk and bike.

The problem is, as stated above, this study only considered these deaths as a percentage of overall traffic fatalities. Which means that if motor vehicle fatalities in those cities — which make up the overwhelming majority of traffic fatalities nationwide — were lower than the national average, it would skew the results and make bike and pedestrian deaths look disproportionately high.

And guess what?

Driver and passenger deaths in New York accounted for just 43.6% of traffic fatalities and 63.6% in Los Angeles, compared to a whopping 86.3% nationwide.

In other words, because fewer people are getting killed in motor vehicles in New York and L.A., it incorrectly suggests that more people who bike or walk are getting killed.

What’s missing from the study is an appendix with hard numbers of how many bicyclists and pedestrians were killed in each city, rather than just a percentage. As well as individual stats for each city that was included in the study, rather than a national aggregate.

Because the one statistic that would allow us to compare apples to apples is the number of deaths per capita for each city.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to access stats for individual cities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s FARS database today, which would allow us to figure that out. And let us determine whether Los Angeles is really a more dangerous place to ride a bike than Dallas or Des Moines. Or any other city of any size in the U.S.

What I can tell you is that in 2011, Los Angeles County had the lowest per capita bike fatality rate of any county from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino and south to the Mexican border, with the single exception of sparsely populated — and even more sparsely biked — Imperial County.

And the City of Los Angeles had just one bicycling fatality for every 763,940 people who call L.A. home. That’s one for every three-quarter of a million people in this city.

Which sounds like pretty damn good odds to me.

In fact, that compares with one cycling death for every 189,454 people in San Diego. One for every 116,394 in Long Beach. And one for every 69,050 residents of Pasadena.

Don’t get me wrong.

One death is too many. Let alone the four the city has already suffered this year. And nothing in this study, or the press reports that followed, considers the city’s rate of serious cycling injuries, as opposed to fatalities.

But one of that nation’s most dangerous places to ride a bike?

Far from it. At least as far as your risk of dying is concerned.

And study’s authors — and the media who ran with it — would have known that if they’d just dug a little deeper.

Thanks to Harris M. Miller II and Where to Bike Los Angeles co-author Jon Riddle for the heads-up.

Update: Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who had a WTF response to this study and the hype that followed. The Native Angeleno had a similar reaction, as did our friends at Los Angeles Walks, who offer suggestions on how to improve safety for our fellow bipedalists. And L.A. Streetsblog meister Damien Newton looks at the over-the-top — and highly repetitive — media response.

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On a related note, Pasadena public radio station KPCC responds to the study by asking for your help to map the area’s most dangerous intersections. It’s a great idea.

Although checking out the map Bikeside LA already put together would have been a nice place to start.

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OC Bike lawyer David Huntsman forwards word of a road raging Dr. Thompson wannabe.

The Press-Enterprise reports that 38-year old Carl Albert Robbins of Temecula “accidently” hit a rider after intentionally swerving at four cyclists riding on Rainbow Canyon Road near Temecula around 8 am Monday. Robbins reportedly drove his car at the riders in the back, then swerved again at the lead rider, hitting the rider’s hand with the car’s mirror.

According to a Riverside Sheriff’s spokesperson, Robbins claimed the riders didn’t belong on the road, but he didn’t intend to actually hit one.

So let me get this straight.

If I try to fire a warning shot past your head, but miss and blow your ear off, it’s just an accident, right?

Evidently the authorities disagreed with Robbins, as well as the paper, booking him on $25,000 bond.

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A full-time — and apparently very sarcastic — parking lieutenant for LADOT, among his many other jobs, is running for president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. Walk Eagle Rock sends word that he doesn’t seem to be exactly bike friendly; you’d think an LADOT parking enforcement official would know not to put a business sign in a bike lane.

And sarcastic or not, suggesting someone light up a joint seems a tad inappropriate for a city official. Let alone a potential NC president.

But maybe that’s just me.

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My good friends at Altadenablog send word that Cher, the original singularly named recording and Hollywood star, apparently hates PCH cyclists.

Or maybe just cyclists in general.

But she swears, cross her heart, that she would never text from behind the wheel. Honest.

We can only encourage her to Cher the road.

Thanks to Century City cyclist and attorney Stanley E. Goldich for the heads-up, as well.

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It’s been a busy few days in my inbox.

George Wolfberg forwards a link to this New York Times story of a lovely journey by bike through the French countryside.

And he send us another NY Times story from over the weekend saying cities need to lose the helmets to promote bicycling.

Or at least bike share programs.

But lets stop for a moment to consider the claim that Dutch cyclists don’t wear helmets.

Dutch cyclists enjoy some of the world’s best biking infrastructure, and ride relatively heavy, slow bikes that are easy to step off of in the event of a fall.

Most American’s don’t

American bikes tend to be faster, lighter machines that usually take the rider down with them when they go down. And American roads don’t begin to compare with Dutch bikeways, in either quality or separation from vehicular traffic.

Whether or not you wear a helmet is your choice.

Personally, I never ride without mine, bearing in mind that they’re not magic hats that prevent all harm to the wearer; you’re far better off avoiding a collision than counting on your helmet to save you from it.

But let’s stop using the Amsterdam experience to argue against helmet use here. Because it just doesn’t translate from the Dutch.

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Cyclist Jim Lyle send news that Hermosa Beach has rejected a plan to put bike lanes on Aviation Blvd.

HB City council members claimed the 2 – 3 person Public Works Department had more pressing issues, and couldn’t afford the 10 to 20 hours a month it would take to save cyclists’ lives plan the bikeway.

“Once we pave our streets, let’s talk about bikes,” Mayor Pro Tem Kit Bobko said.

Although you’d think with such a small staff, they might know how many people actually work for them.

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Finally, my adventure cycling, Iditarod dog sled racing brother Eric offers a heads-up about the 100-year old former French bike racer who set a new 100 kilometer age group speed record.

I plan to race him myself when I turn 100; my brother, not the Frenchman.

Of course, I may have an unfair advantage, since he’ll be 109.

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