Tag Archive for Temecula

82-year old bike rider dies following Temecula bike collision; investigators quickly blame the victim


The Press-Enterprise is reporting that an 82-year old Murrieta man died late Sunday afternoon, a little over 32 hours after he was struck by a driver while riding in Temecula.

And Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies didn’t hesitate to blame the victim for his own death, when he’s not around to share his side of the story.

According to the paper, Kenrick Skinner was crossing Margarita Road at Paseo Brillante in Temecula around 7:20 Saturday morning when he was struck by an eastbound driver.

Skinner was taken to Wildomar’s Inland Valley Medical Center, where he died around 4 pm Sunday.

The driver remained at the scene and called 911.

A street view shows four lane roadway, with bike lanes and a left turn bay in each direction on Margarita, the intersection controlled only by a single stop sign on southbound Paseo Brillante.

It strains credibility to believe that an 82-year old man would somehow violate the right-of-way by riding out into oncoming traffic, as investigators suggest.

The paper doesn’t say which direction Skinner was traveling, but it’s easy to imagine that the broadly curving roadway may have appeared clear before he started crossing.

He may have struggled to get across the wide roadway before drivers caught up to him — especially if they were traveling at a high rate of speed, which seems likely given the early hour and the wide open roadway design.

Which means a better question isn’t why was he was in the roadway, but why did the driver fail to see a man on a bicycle directly in front of him?

If sheriff’s investigators can answer that, they’ll know why this tragic crash happened.

Anyone with information is urged to call Deputy Hoctor of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Southwest Station at 951/696-3000.

This is at least the 48th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth that I’m aware of in Riverside County.

It’s also the fourth SoCal bike death in the past week.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kenrick Skinner and his loved ones. 

Update: Man dies after apparent right hook in Temecula Wednesday night

Sad news from Temecula, where a man on a bicycle died following a Wednesday night collision.

According to the Valley News, the victim was struck by a truck driver who was turning right from eastbound Temecula Parkway to Pechanga Parkway around 8:52 pm last night.

Riverside County sheriff’s deputies responding to the scene found the man, who has not been publicly identified, lying in the roadway suffering from major injuries. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died today.

There was no indication that alcohol was a factor.

Based on the limited description, it would appear the rider was the victim of a right hook. However, there’s no word on where the victim was riding at the time of the crash.

A satellite view shows a major intersection with seven through lanes and two right turn lanes on Temecula, which suggests that he may have been riding on the sidewalk and rode off into the crosswalk. However, that is just a guess at this time.

Anyone with information is urged to call Officer Carpenter at the Temecula Police Department at 951/696-3000.

This is the 15th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Riverside County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 56-year old John Napolitano.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for John Napolitano and his loved ones.

Update: Three bike riders hit by bus on Camp Pendleton, one killed

Confirmation is just coming in that a bicyclist has died as a result of injuries in a crash at Camp Pendleton yesterday.

I had received an email about the collision earlier this afternoon; however, I was unable to confirm the death until now.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, three cyclists, identified only as civilians, were hit by a bus while riding through the Marine base; the paper uses the word “slammed” to describe the impact. The collision occurred around 1 pm on Stuart Mesa Road near Cook Crossing.

The paper reports that two of the riders were transported by ambulance, with the third flown out by helicopter.

Unfortunately, the LA Times writes that one of the riders has died, confirming the report in the email; according to the Times, one of the surviving riders remains in critical condition, while the third is listed as serious.

The Times reports the bus belonged to the North County Transit District.

No word yet on how or why the collision occurred.

Civilians are usually allowed to ride through the military base, except during war games or security alerts, and it is one of the most popular routes in North County San Diego cyclists.

This is the 57th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in San Diego County; that compares with 10  in the county this time last year.

Update: Three days later, there has still been no follow-up from the press on this tragedy, and no confirmation from the San Diego coroner’s office. However, the name of the victim has become common knowledge in the San Diego cycling community, identifying him as Udo Heinz. 

Some of the comments below are from people who knew him, and worth reading to get a feeling for the kind of man he was. If anyone wants to provide more information about Heinz, or how the collision happened, let me know; you can find my email on the About page. 

And a quick note to commenters. My policy is to allow any discussion that is courteous, avoids personal attacks and does not disrespect fallen riders. At this time, we have no idea how this collision occurred or who was at fault. So if you feel a need to criticize bike riders, for whatever reason, find another post to leave your comments. This is not the place for it.

Update 2: If you haven’t read the comments below, please do. It’s obvious that Udo Heinz was well-loved, not just a cyclist, but as a father and friend, as this column on Mountain Bike Review makes clear; thanks to Lois for the heads-up.

Update 3: The Union-Tribune finally followed up on their initial story and provided a little more information. 

Heinz, a 43-year old resident of Encinitas, was riding south on Stuart Mesa Road through Camp Pendleton with two other riders around 1 pm Sunday when a North County Transit District bus traveling in the same direction attempted to pass. The bus went into the northbound lane to pass the three riders, then cut back and hit them; the paper does not say if there was oncoming traffic or some other reason the bus came back into the lane before clearing the cyclists. 

There were roughly a dozen passengers on the bus who may be able to help explain what happened, and there should be video from the bus itself.

According to the U-T story, one of the other riders, 62-year old John Edwards, suffered what was described as “serious permanent injuries.” The third rider was hospitalized, but no further information was available. 

A member of the Ranchos Cycling Club, Heinz was a mechanical engineer with two master’s degrees and vice president of commercial products for TUV Rheinland Group.

He leaves behind a wife and children.

Update 4: More details on how the collision occurred and the injuries suffered by Edwards are included in a brief posted online by Edwards’ attorney. Apparently, the driver made no attempt to avoid the riders, despite video from an onboard camera showing them riding directly in front of the bus. 

My prayers for Udo Heinz and the other victims and all their families and loved ones. Let’s hope the two survivors make a full and fast recovery.

Update: Bike rider dies Monday after apparent solo Fathers Day fall; Temecula rider dies of natural causes

These are the emails I hate to receive, when someone contacts me asking if I’ve heard about a bike rider who was killed.

Because too often, it’s something that hasn’t crossed my radar yet. And too often, it turns out to be true.

That’s what happened last night when I got a message asking about reports that a rider was killed on Avenue 64 in Los Angeles, near the Pasadena city limits.

A little research turned up a story on the Highland Park–Mount Washington Patch site, describing an apparent solo fall in which a rider suffered sever head trauma; comments to the story reported the victim had died, and gave a name.

According to the site, Jose Cuellar was riding south on Avenue 64 at Burleigh whn he lost control of his bike and fell, suffering severe head trauma. He was reportedly unconscious for 15 minutes before paramedics arrived and took him to a nearby hospital.

Reports of how the incident occurred are a little confusing. The site says the first indication of a problem was the sound of screeching tires; witnesses then report seeing the rider struggling to control a speed wobble before falling.

However, bike tires don’t normally screech, no matter how fast the rider is going or how much strain they’re under, suggesting that there may have been a motor vehicle involved which could have caused Cuellar to lose control of his bicycle.

The site notes he wasn’t wearing a helmet, which is relevant for a change, as this is exactly the sort of fall bike helmets are designed to protect against.

A call to the L.A. County Coroner’s office confirmed that 43-year old Jose Cuellar died at Huntington Memorial Hospital on Monday, June 24th.

According to the person I spoke with, the investigation into his death was just beginning, so no other information was available.

Update: Just received word from Sgt. Lazlo Sander, the LAPD’s bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division, that following further investigation, Cuellar’s death has been reclassified as a single vehicle traffic collision rather than a solo fall; however, there is still no suspicion that any other person or vehicle may have been involved.


In more bad news, a popular Temecula high school teacher died of natural causes while riding Sunday.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 52-year old Darren Thomas, a history and social sciences teacher at Chaparral High School, collapsed while riding in the 40000 block of Calle Medusa, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 9:49 am.

There will be vigil in his honor at 7 pm this Thursday at Puma Stadium, and a memorial service is tentatively scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday, July 6th in the school gym.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose Cuellar and Darren Thomas, and all their loved ones.


These are the 39th and 40th bicycling fatalities in Southern California this year, compared to just 28 this time last year.

It’s also the 19th bike-related death in Los Angeles County this year, compared with 24 bicycling fatalities countywide for each of the last two years. And the third in Riverside County, compared to 11 and 13 in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

It’s also the sixth bicycling death in the City of L.A. this year, compared to five in all of 2011 and four in 2012.

In other words, we’re already 50% above last year in the City of L.A.

And this year isn’t even half over yet.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Fallen Murrietta cyclist identified, and a whole lot of mostly very non-scary post-Halloween links

The cyclist who died on a bike trail near Murrietta Sunday morning has been identified a 60-year old Lee Andrew Tichenor of Temecula; the investigation is ongoing.


I love this quote from Lovely Bicycle!:

“Coming back from Las Vegas a month ago, cycling in Boston seemed like paradise. Coming back from Vienna, it seems like a war zone.”


Streetsblog hosts their next upscale fundraiser on Saturday, and applications are due to their Boyle Heights and South L.A. correspondents. Re-imagining Santa Monica’s Lincoln Blvd as a more livable street, instead of the living hell of a Class III bike route it is now. Cynergy Cycling invites you to get certified for track riding. Long Beach’s biking expats discuss how to stay married on the road. The next edition of Flying Pigeon’s popular Brewery Rides rolls on Saturday. A candidate for the CD 15 city council seat calls for a CicLAvia from Downtown to San Pedro; another promises to build out the Backbone Bikeway Network in the district.

Former San Diego Bicycle Coordinator Jim Lundquist bids a fond farewell. A Red Bluff rider survives a left cross that sent him bouncing 20 feet off a windshield. UC Davis students are the latest to get bike traffic school. A San Francisco cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries when a cab runs a red light. Three Palo Alto cyclists are injured, none seriously, when they’re hit by a car; reading between the lines, it sounds like either the cyclists or the driver was on the wrong side of the road, and we can probably guess which one.

People for Bikes questions why Congress is targeting bike fundingthey’re not the only ones. Fat Cyclist offers a self-published best of. A bike means freedom on Chicago’s South Side; no different from L.A.’s Eastside or South L.A., or countless other places around this city of frequently fallen angels. A tongue-in-cheek response to a call from a Chicago alderman to license cyclists asks why not license feet, too. Safety concerns keep more Pittsburgh cyclists from becoming bike commuters. David Byrne and Janette Sadik-Khan discuss why New Yorkers insist on fighting over bike lanes. A Florida cyclist killed last April may have been the victim of an intentional buzzing.

Women riders need more awareness, not scaremongering. Clearly, cycle chic is nothing new. A UK cyclist was three times the legal limit when he was killed after blowing through a yield sign. British bike fatalities and serious injuries are on the rise. London’s Mayor Boris continues to put the convenience of motorists over the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. Britain’s approach to road safety is called deeply flawed; the widow of the first biking victim on the mayor’s biking superhighways fears he will just be another statistic. Welsh authorities offer a code of conduct for a popular shared trail. A Swedish study shows bike commuters sleep better, are less stressed, are healthier, suffer less exhaustion and use fewer sick days than drivers; question is, does cycling make you healthier or do healthier people choose to bike?  In one of the most disgusting legal arguments I’ve heard, an Aussie lawyer argues that his client had an obligation to watch the traffic ahead, rather than watch out for the cyclist he passed — and killed — in their equivalent of a right hook; if you ever wondered why people hate lawyers, this is a damn good place to start.

Finally, I’ve run over a lot of crap over the years — sometimes literally. But nothing quite as disgusting as greasy roadkill deer guts.

And best wishes to Zeke’s brother Dave who was scheduled to get back on his bike this week following a bad crash. 

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