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Friday, July 19, 2013

Bike rider killed in collision with salmon cyclist


Pasadena bike rider killed in collision with salmon cyclist; 22nd cycling death in LA County this year


Now we have confirmation.

Last night I mentioned that rumors were circulating that a bike rider had died in Pasadena. This morning, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune confirmsthat a rider critically injured in a collision with a salmon cyclist has passed away.

The rider, publicly identified only as a 20-year old Pasadena man, was headed west on Mountain Street at Garfield Avenue around 6 pm Saturday when he was hit head-on by a 17-year old cyclist riding against traffic. According to the paper, the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a severe head injury when he hit his head on the pavement.

He was taken to Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital, where he died Sunday evening.

The other rider was uninjured.

It’s hard to imagine how this collision could have occurred on what appears to be a relatively quiet street. It’s possible that the riders may have been boxed in by passing cars, or both may have swerved in the same direction in a last-second attempt to avoid the collision. It’s also possible that the younger rider may have just rounded the corner from Garfield, not leaving enough time for either to react.

Or one or both riders may have just not been paying attention.

In this case, whether or not the victim was wearing a helmet matters, as this seems to have been exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed collision helmets are that designed to protect against.

However, as Caltech Bike Lab points out, one of the many problems with riding salmon is that it dramatically increases the force of any impact.

It’s simple physics that when two objects traveling in opposite directions collide, their speeds combine to create the force of impact. For instance, if these two riders were both traveling at 10 miles per hour, they would have struck with the same force as hitting a stationary object at 20 mph.

And if they were both riding at 20 mph, they would have hit with a combined force of 40 mph — a speed almost assured to result in serious injury. The fact that only one rider was injured suggests that they may have struck a glancing blow, rather than a full head-on crash.

Riding salmon also reduces reaction times, making a collision that much more likely.

Finally, there is the legal aspect. By riding against traffic, the younger rider was in clear violation of CVC 21650, which requires all vehicles to travel on the right side of the roadway, as well as CVC 21202, which requires bicyclists to ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb.

By riding on the wrong side of the road, the 17-year old cyclist could face serious criminal charges, including a possible homicide charge, for causing the death of the other rider.

As well as a lifetime of living with the fact that his carelessness killed another person.

This is 48th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County, which compares with 24 and 23 for all of the last two years, respectively.

And it’s the second cycling death in Pasadena in less than 30 days, following the death of Phillip O’Neill near Caltech last month, which highlights the need for a comprehensive bike plan in the city.

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