Tags: Pacific Coast Highway, PCH
October 15, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES COUNTY BICYCLE COALITION CALLS FOR SAFETY ON PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY
LOS ANGELES, Calif. –
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is deeply saddened by the fatal collision between a bicyclist and a Metro bus on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu on Saturday. Preliminary reports indicate that triathlete Marisela Echeverria of Cypress Park was maneuvering around parked cars on the shoulder of the highway when her wheel was caught in a pavement seam and she was thrown toward the passing bus. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and teammates.
Pacific Coast Highway is a notoriously dangerous street for all travelers, and particularly challenging for people on bicycles. Outdated road design, inconsistent shoulders, and high motor vehicle speeds are a perilous combination for people walking or riding along the highway. PCH is Malibu’s main street, yet it was built to rural highway standards that provide first and foremost for the fast movement of vehicles over local access to residences, businesses, and beaches. Bicyclists face increased risks when navigating such a complex traffic environment.
Since the 2005 deaths of Scott Bleifer and Stanislav Ionov, LACBC has worked with stakeholders to improve conditions for bicyclists on the highway. Education, enforcement, and engineering strategies must be used in concert to reduce collision rates. In recent years, the City of Malibu has given considerable attention to these issues and is currently analyzing potential improvements through a $375,000 study funded by Caltrans, the Southern California Associations of Governments, and the City. The City is also currently in design for a bike lane project running two miles from Busch Drive to Trancas Canyon Road. LACBC is encouraged by these preliminary steps.
The California coast is a shared treasure, with access guaranteed by the California Coastal Act and our State’s Constitution. LACBC calls on all jurisdictions to cooperate in providing a safe, continuous bikeway along the Pacific Coast Highway so that all people can enjoy its scenic beauty. We must work together to improve safety in the short term while moving toward a more balanced PCH that better serves residents and visitors in the future.
Founded in 1998, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is the only non-profit organization working countywide for L.A. County’s 3 million cyclists through advocacy, education, and outreach. LACBC brings together the diverse cycling community in a united mission to make the entire L.A. region a safe and enjoyable place to ride.
For information go to to http://www.la-bike.org or call 213-629-2142.
Tags: Caltrans, Collisons, PCH
An article written by GORDON, EDELSTEIN, KREPACK, GRANT, FELTON & GOLDSTEIN at geklaw.com
No Warning of Hazardous Road Conditions Causes Bicyclists to Suffer Serious Injuries
Death and taxes—those are givens. Most of us anticipate them, even plan for them. But what happens when the unexpected occurs? For several clients of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, it proved disastrous. For the responsible party—Caltrans—it means legal action. The story unfolded on a sunny weekend last August. The firm’s clients were four of many bicyclists who set out for a ride on Pacific Coast Highway that ended unexpectedly. Like most experienced cyclists, they went through their pre-ride routines—checking tire pressure, filling water bottles, packing an extra tube, identification and a cell phone in their jersey pockets. What they didn’t know, and couldn’t plan for, however, was that a stretch of PCH—at the bottom of an incline—was left in a dangerous state of disrepair caused by a Caltrans road construction project. There was no warning of what many cyclists referred to as a “death trap.” No signs, no delineating tape, no cones. The result? Cyclists went down…hard and suffered everything from severe cases of road rash to concussions, broken bones, punctured lungs, even paralysis. “Caltrans did not do their job,” says Personal Injury Attorney Howard Krepack, an avid cyclist who is handling the cases. “Pursuant to policy and directive, they are responsible for issuing warnings about highway construction projects, and they dropped the ball…big time. Call it oversight, carelessness, stupidity or indifference…it still comes down to many innocent people being seriously injured. “It’s all about safety. We elect representatives who hire bureaucrats and expect them to keep us safe. Safety went out the window here. And, this is just one example of what has become a systemic problem. Policies are set to protect the safety of the public, but all too often there is no implementation or enforcement of the policies. They’re just words, empty promises that lead to, in cases such as this, dire consequences for innocent victims.” To add insult to injury…literally, Caltrans said they were not aware of the hazardous conditions, which existed from Friday through Sunday, until Monday morning because they were closed due to the state-mandated furlough. “Caltrans left the road in a condition that was an accident waiting to happen. There was a total breakdown in communication. Messages were left on their hotline, e-mails were sent informing them of the conditions, and still nothing was done until Monday. When you have bicyclists being airlifted to hospitals, it’s difficult to believe that the powers that be weren’t aware of the problem.” Caltrans will have to face this issue head-on as claims have been filed against the governmental agency by Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton and Goldstein on behalf of its clients. “This is the same kind of negligence on the part of Caltrans that led to the death of bicyclist Scott Bleifer more than four years ago. They have a Bike Coordinator, there is a PCH Task Force, and yet they fail to warn cyclists of hazardous road conditions or remedy the situation in a timely fashion.”
Last weekend, hundreds of cyclists were put in harm’s way on Pacific Coast Highway when a CalTrans contract crew left the right lane and shoulder on the northbound, downhill section between Heathercliff and Zuma Beach cut away and strewn with gravel, with no cones or special signage in place to warn these legal roadway users of the hazard. Many crashed upon encountering this dangerous section at speed, including several hospitalized with serious injuries; dozens of others were lucky to get away with only flat tires. Since then, LACBC, Velo Club LaGrange, and others have been in contact with CalTrans and the Sheriffs Department, and here is how the problem is being addressed (special thanks to Jay Slater of Velo Club LaGrange for this summary):
(special thanks to Jay Slater of Velo Club LaGrange for this summary):
Second, the project is scheduled to run from August 20 through September 15 and covers a length of six miles, which will be repaved in sections from 7 pm to 7 am each day. A sweeper is to clean the roadway daily after 7 am. As of Wednesday morning the sweepers had made a number of passes and gotten up most, but not all, of the loose gravel and stuff. The crew made an effort to clean up some spilled asphalt in the shoulder, and there were new signs going up to warn of the construction further in advance.
CalTrans’ Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for District 7 visited the site this week and has reported his observations to the construction resident engineer and area traffic engineer. He also checked for accumulated gravel after the sweeping, and confirmed that certain sign modifications were made. Many thanks to CalTrans for addressing these serious safety concerns.
Of course, this is probably little comfort to the cyclists who crashed out there last weekend. We wish them all a speedy and thorough recovery. Members of VeloClub LaGrange have offered legal assistance to those injured.
PCH is a very popular cycling destination that presents some unusual challenges, and warrants special attention. In light of this and other recent tragedies on this stretch of highway, LACBC would like to see the (now inactive) PCH Task Force re-convened, so that all stakeholders (residents, law enforcement, cycling clubs, elected representatives) can meet to discuss such issues on a more regular basis, in hopes that PCH never sees another weekend like this last one.