Three cyclists hit on Mulholland, two in critical condition

By Alex Thompson

(Check below for updates.)

Four (UPDATE: LA County Fire Department says three) cyclists were hit this morning on Mulholland at Las Virgenes.  Purportedly three (UPDATE: LA County FD says two) of them are in critical condition in DTLA.  They were hit by an elderly woman turning left.  Check back here for updates as we get more information.  If you have information on this collision or the status of the cyclists, please contact us at contact@BikesideLA.org.

Four cyclists were hit this morning on Mulholland & Las Virgenes, supposedly by a left turner.

Four cyclists were hit this morning on Mulholland & Las Virgenes, supposedly by a left turner.

UPDATE: Inspector Don Kunitomi of the LA County Fire Department says that it was three cyclists, not four as previously reported.  They confirmed that two cyclists were transported in critical condition.  They could not confirm where to.  The call was made at 7:30 am and response reached the scene – two cars and one helicopter – at 7:40 am.

Best wishes to the injured riders and their families.

UPDATE:  KTLA has an article up now with better info.  The collision occured at Mulholland Highway and Stokes Canyon Road.  The motorist was an 81 year old woman.

Helicopter shot of the scene of the collision

Helicopter shot of the scene of the collision

UPDATE, 6:23pm: NBC 4 ran a piece just now which brings in some new details (AT appearance at 1:10!)  I got to ask NBC 4 reporter Ted Chen about what he knew about the cyclists’ conditions.  They’re not life threatening injuries at this point though one has multiple pelvis fractures.

Midnight Ridazz also has a thread@Danceralamode found a Facebook page post by Dorothy Twitchell saying:

The cyclists involved are my teammates. While none of their injuries are life threatening (thank god!), they are serious. When we rec’d the initial word they were air lifted to UCLA we feared the worst. They are happy to be alive! One may s…till need surgery and there is a long road of recovery and rehab for them!!

She actually made a left turn in front of them and panicked when she finally did see them… and stopped in their path!!

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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47 Responses to “Three cyclists hit on Mulholland, two in critical condition”

  1. WTF is going on lately? Two friends of mine were hit on Friday. One died. The surviver raced pro in Europe and the dead one raced at the Masters Pan American games. These guys were not inexperienced riders. I’ve had too many close calls lately and it seems like drivers are getting more hostile.

  2. UPDATE: Inspector Don Kunitomi of the LA County Fire Department says that it was three cyclists, not four as previously reported. They confirmed that two cyclists were transported in critical condition. They could not confirm where to. The call was made at 7:30 am and response reached the scene – two cars and one helicopter – at 7:40 am.

    Best wishes to the injured riders and their families.

  3. Stefan – I’m really sorry to hear about your friend. I don’t know if it’s getting more dangerous out there or it’s getting reported more often or what. We don’t really have good data but things like this, and what happened to your friends – where more than one cyclist is hit at a time – are scary.

  4. Stefan,

    I am so sorry to hear about your friends.
    Who were they..and where did it happen?

    Chris Frost
    Public Safety Commission, Malibu
    (also avid cyclist)

  5. This is terrible, and sadly I think will become more common if we don’t act.

    If you look at traffic collisions resulting in fatalities there is an upside down bell curve with the youngest and the oldest drivers causing the most deaths proportionally. As more generations that grew up car dependent get older and refuse to give up their driving, we are going to see more catastrophic crashes like this, like the old man that plowed into the Santa Monica Farmers Market a few years ago.

    Reaction time dulls with age, and at a certain point we have to tell people, sorry you are not qualified to drive anymore.

  6. LAME! Car probably (incorrectly) assumed the speed of the bikes, there’s a gradual 4-5% grade to Stokes road, the cyclists were probably going 30mph+

  7. Not much can be said except that it’s a tragedy. The area should be clearly visible … but then at 7:30 a.m., many drivers might be less than fully alert, especially to cyclists. As for drivers’ hostility, I’ve noticed an increase as well even here on the flats and along PCH. “Share the road” signs don’t seem to register on motorists.

  8. Share the road signs are sometimes I think worse than worthless. It’s ambiguous and drivers who already don’t understand cyclists rights interpret it to mean the responsibility is for cyclists to get out of the way. For those drivers it’s not about sharing the road, they want it all. That is if they even see the signs, between texting and what ever other multitasking they are doing.

  9. @Chris Frost
    My friends are/were Scott Evans, and Doug Caldwell. Both had their doctorates. Both worked for NASA. Staggering intellects and genuinely good guys.

  10. Very telling quote from the CHP in the KTLA story:

    “It’s unclear if the bicyclists didn’t see the Audi, or the Audi didn’t see the cyclists, CHP officials said.”

    Since the cyclists didn’t have a stop sign, it is totally irrelevant whether they saw the Audi or not.

    Leave it to the CHP to demonstrate maximum creativity when it comes to making a crash the cyclist’s fault.

  11. We need to spend more effort on making cities more livable by foot and bike and less by car, so that people don’t have to drive to survive. Where more people walk and bike, it’s a lot safer. And you don’t find elderly people driving as much because it’s not necessary.

  12. This is the same shit us motorcyclists have been putting up with for years, left hand turn accidents. I advise all bicyclists to learn and react as us motorcyclists do. Assume that no one sees you and always slow down when there’s a chance someone can pull out in front of you. There are many studies showing how/why drivers don’t see a single light or object approaching. One of the best things you can do is to flash your parking lights or if on a bicycle weave back and forth as you approach the turning vehicle. The movement gets the drivers attention and saves your ass. Even though the cyclists were in the right, it’s better to not be dead right. I hope they recover, we’re all on two wheels and need to help keep each other safe.

  13. UPDATED AGAIN ABOVE, the injuries are not life threatening at this point.

  14. I was riding in that area yesterday and had too incidents involving cars. One, a Subaru decided to pull onto the paved shoulder of Malibu Canyon Rd in order to get a look at the line of cars ahead of her. She didn’t check beside or behind her and would have run me into the rocks if I didn’t pound on her vehicle with my fist. The other was a young kid who intentionally pulled out directly in front of me (I made eye contact with the bastard before he pulled out) while I was headed home on PCH. I locked up both wheels to avoid him barely managing to stay upright. When I sprinted after him and briefly caught up, the passenger was pointing at me and laughing. The cop (sheriff I guess) I reported the incident it to 5 minutes later said he couldn’t do anything about it because I wasn’t 100% certain of one of the 7 digits of the license plate #. And they wonder why many cyclists are hostile to law enforcement…

    The sad fact is that no matter how careful you are, if you ride on the road often drivers can and will endanger your life on a regular basis. And they do so both out of negligence, like this 81 year old woman, and sometimes also out of malice. I know that it’s comforting to think that we can be careful and that will make us safe, it’s just not true.

  15. They wouldn’t take the report? That’s bull!

    1) If you ask for a report they have to take it.

    2) A partial plate and either a description of the driver or a make/model/color are solid gold in terms of witness testimony.

    If that happens again let me know.

  16. People drive like jackasses. You have to have a rear-view mirror, watch every approaching vehicle carefully, and also assume that every upcoming car will possibly kill you. You have to bike very defensively and never expect that the moron behind the wheel will yield as they are supposed to. Most drivers have NO comprehension that cars are supposed to SHARE the road with bikes. Every time I am near a vehicle, I have my hands on my brakes and am on high alert ready to bail off the side of the road if necessary to stay alive. It shouldn’t have to be like that. But unfortunately, reality dictates that it is necessary.

  17. im not sure if its the drivers that are getting more hostile or the cyclists getting more reckless. Or maybe a combonation. I live on Latigo Canyon and I have been noticing a lot more cyclists on that road this summer than usual and I have also noticed many riding three abreast while going around blind corners or single riders wondering out into the center of the road (maybe due to just being tired) But, I’ve seen plenty of near misses and a few hits because of that behavior. I think someone in these cycling groups should hold a class on proper defensive canyon riding. Certian things like not rider in the center line, stay at the edge when being over taken by car or motorcyle. Dont play music via headphones so loud that you cannot hear a vehicle coming up behind or towards you. Never ride two or three abreast on a canyon road. Also yield to a larger vehicle. You know simple common sense things like that.

  18. Robert, this is akin to suggesting swimming lessons at a surfer’s shark attack funeral. Here’s a simple suggestion in response to your “yield to a larger vehicle” suggestion. Howabout 81 year old drivers don’t take away the right of way of cyclists in a way that sends people to the hospital. Or, take it a step further, and maybe all drivers could do that, not just the 90% that do it now.

  19. Alex,,,,,yeah, i know what it looks like. but,,,,your always going to be on the brown side of the stick when your up against a 4000 lb car. Let alone one driven but someone with limited senses and reflexes. The onus to stay alive will always be on the cyclist or motorcyclist to ride in the most defensive manner possible. I can only speak to what I see out my backyard every weekend in the canyon.

  20. Honestly, I dont know what can be done. It’s awefully hard if not impossible to change human behavior. I used to cycle. I was on my college team. Infact its why I live where I do. But after 2 accidents I just stopped riding in malibu/Agoura. I only ride Ojai and Somis now because the traffic is a lot less and I can see traffic from far away.

  21. I just love Wheeler canyon and Cerro Noreste Rd. Low traffic, great roads, amazing scenery.

  22. What could be done (aside from creating safer streets)? Lots of things. The criminal justice system could recognize the special vulnerability of cyclists and take adequate measures in response. For example, every time a driver nearly runs a cyclist off the road they could get (at least) an investigatory phone call from the police. If their is sufficient evidence they get their license yanked. Every time someone hits a cyclist and is at fault they go to jail and lose their license for 5-10 years. Make it hurt, even remotely as much as getting hit by a car does, and all of a sudden you’d see a whole lot more respect given to cyclists on the roads. Behavior would change real fast.

    And those with limited senses and reflexes should not be driving. Period.

  23. I just don’t see any cycling groups being as strong and powerful as the AARP any time soon.
    Even with those fines. I don’t think you’ll change human behavior. Just look at DUI’s. The laws are always getting stricter but people still drink and drive en masse.

    But, I think Cycling and Motorcycle groups need to combine forces as both groups suffer from the same problems. I knkow that some of the bike groups like AMA have a very strong local, state and federal lobbying arm and If I was involved with a cycling group I would pick their brains.

  24. ” The car’s driver was not hut, but was visibly upset after the crash. ” (KTLA – http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-calabasas-bicyclists-hit,0,6228698.story)

    ” CHP officers have not cited the motorist. There is no light or stop sign at that intersection. ” (NBC – http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Bicyclists-Struck-101326979.html)

    Sense the bias?

  25. It’s all the motorists’ fault! NOT. There are many good and considerate drivers. The tone of many of the comments here have been a bit hostile, and have conveyed a feeling of “entitlement” to the road. We, as well, have to share the road.

    This morning, I rode through the Marina area. I was swallowed up by a large group from the South Bay … obviously better cyclists than me … but also taking up the entire road. There was little room for me to get out of their way. I easily could have gone down from their carelessness. Later in the ride, I came across a small group that I passed; good cyclists but taking up the entire lane forcing me to go to the second lane … This behavior does little to gain the respect of motorists or the police.

    As said earlier, a little more common sense, and less arrogance, from cyclists would go a long way.

  26. Ed, what you encountered was the “Captain Spandex” syndrome. A funny thing sometimes happens when a group of guys squeeze into skin tight ad covered lycra riding gear. They all get into group-think and think they are all Lance Armstrong running the Tour De France and that rules of the road do not apply to them and that everyone must make way. Reality shows us that doesnt always happen. Then they act all amazed when they get into an accident because they failed to stop at a light or stop sign.
    It happens will all testerone laden individuals, whether they are on foot, in a car, motorbike or bicycle.

    People need to refrain from acting like morons and display some sense and discipline.

  27. No one over fifty should have a license unless they pass medical tests (don’t want people having heart attacks on the road) and go through vigorous testing once a year.

    And this person should loose their license and do jail time.
    nohocyclechic.blogspot.com

  28. Hey Gina, never trust anyone over 30, all men are pigs and no your butt does’nt look fat in those jeans. :)

  29. Drivers making left hand turns are looking for large objects, so that they can make a safe turn (for them). Small, fast moving objects sometimes do not register. If you understand this, you can anticipate the behavior of others and perhaps avoid this. BTW, it has nothing to do with the law or right of way. It’s about survival on a 25 lb bike, while riding among 2500 lb vehicles.

  30. Robert,

    I can’t disagree more. You say:

    your always going to be on the brown side of the stick when your up against a 4000 lb car. Let alone one driven but someone with limited senses and reflexes. The onus to stay alive will always be on the cyclist or motorcyclist to ride in the most defensive manner possible.

    While it is true that in a car vs cyclist collision the cyclist will likely bear the cost of the collision, that does not mean it is their sole responsibility to avoid a collision. Most crimes are one sided, and the perpetrator of the crime does not bear the cost – in essence that is why it’s a crime. Motorists have an equal if not greater obligation to follow the rules of the road, precisely because their mistakes are more likely to kill.

  31. Alex,

    Nice theory, but philosophical arguments aside, the reality is that motorists don’t practice said obligation. Thus the necessity for cyclists to be on the defensive or die. That is the reality of it.

  32. It’s not philosophical when the criminal justice system is easy on reckless motoring. That’s tangible, changeable, and real.

    But to your other point – how the shit do you avoid getting hit by a motorist who turns left across your path? That’s what happened here – what do you suggest? I mean, you could suggest that we address the issue of driving privileges issued to those who might not be fit to drive anymore, or you could address the issue of dangerous driving in general, but since you’re on the dangerous driving kick, how would you avoid the collision that took out these cyclists on Mulholland Hwy?

  33. I wouldn’t blast through an intersection at 30mph with an old geezer itching to make a left turn in front of me. The driver is definitely at fault here, but my point is that if you want to stay alive you have to practice defensive riding. Just as everyone taking a driver’s ed class is taught when learning to drive a car.

    Face it, people in cars tend to drive like morons and think that they are the only thing that matters on the road. It’s been like that since before I started driving 26 years ago and will probably always be that way. So cyclists have to be extra cautious simply because they are very vulnerable. It’s the same phenomena as motorcyclists getting creamed at intersections.

    Motorcyclists shouldn’t have to worry about such things happening, but in reality they do. So if they don’t want to get themselves killed, they have to slow down and be on high alert when some dumbass is itching to make that turn without paying attention.

  34. @Rick: I know it is comforting to blame the victim. It allows you to think that these things only happen to people who aren’t careful and that you can avoid their fate because you are careful. The problem is that it’s total bunk.

    You can’t tell when someone is “itching to make a left turn” until they do so. And by then it’s too late.

    It seems like you are suggesting that cyclists (and by extension motorcyclists) should slow down to a near stop before crossing an intersection every time there is oncoming traffic in the off chance that the driver will turn left in front of them. You can’t possibly believe this. It would almost totally defeat the purpose of cycling which presumably is to either get somewhere relatively quickly and efficiently, or to enjoy yourself, or both.

    This problem is even worse for traffic approaching from the rear.

    I accept that I am exposed to risk when I ride my bike. At any time a driver can negligently or maliciously take my life and there is almost nothing I can do about it. There are things we can and should do both to change driver (yes some cyclists endanger themselves by running red lights, riding without lights, etc. but that’s not what we’re discussing here) behavior and to make streets safer for bikes and cars to share. Blaming the victim, as you seem intent on doing, only provides already recalcitrant governmental actors more reasons not to make these changes.

  35. The map and intersection posted are not where the incident occurred. It was a little further east at Stokes Canyon road T-intersection. At this intersection there is one lane each direction, and no left turn pocket. It’s quite possible there was no warning the left was coming.

    I’m all for promoting defensive cycling, and safe riding practices, but that doesn’t change the fact that drivers have an obligation to yield and need to be held accountable when they don’t.

    A study of older drivers and turning left found that they especially have a hard time with it, and for every advancing year of age after 65 the likely hood of being involved in a left turn collision goes up 8%. If I’m doing my math right, correct me if I’m wrong Alex, that means this woman had at least 128% higher chance of being involved in a left turn crash than someone 65 or younger. What is this person doing behind the wheel of fast and heavy machinery?

    This also calls attention to the need for better engineering. If left turns such as the one in this incident are known to be so dangerous, why don’t we have more roundabouts like European highways do at low volume high risk intersections, which keep traffic all moving in the same directions and slows travel speeds in the area of highest risk.

    Yes cyclists need to look out for their own skin out of self preservation, but we’d all be better off if we push for safer drivers and safer roads.

    I wrote a few thoughts on my blog about this, mainly the defeatist attitude of letting drivers off the hook for their destruction and shifting blame onto cyclists.

    http://garyridesbikes.blogspot.com/2010/08/challenging-defeatist-mentality-of.html

  36. Alex, you can’t think that way. Its the easiest way to get killed by assuming the car driver is looking out for you. You need to think at all times that they do not see you. So you have to never put yourself in dangerous positions. You cant think , oh that person in the car about to turn left in front of me sees me. Always think that person doesnt see you and act accordingly.

  37. I’ve read the comments on this thread with alarming concern as to the attitude of our cycling brethren, from arrogance to hostility and, yes, for some, even reasonable. When I read that 80 year old folks have no business behind hast and heavy machinery, I’m reminded that figures don’t lie, but liars do figure. And I mean no disrespect to those who talk about the stats and age. I merely want to remind us that figures of all kinds can be used to prove a whole host of things. For example, one might come to some very interesting conclusions about women between the age of 18 and 35 .. and accidents; and young people between the ages of 16 and 25; etc. No one would suggest that they should be denied a license or taken off the road. Yet, I can assure you the statistics will show that these groups are in many more accidents and cause many more serious injuries than “more mature” drivers. So, why not focus on the individual, the location and what can be done to increase safety on the road by both cyclists and motorists … and perhaps a little more tolerance in tone. It was a tragedy … and not much more can be said.

  38. When did I blame the victim? I clearly stated that the idiot driver caused this accident.

    The only thing that you could surmise as “blame” on the victims is that they now have severe injuries because they couldn’t be bothered to slow down when it was obvious someone was about to turn in front of them. How can you tell this? because the car would obviously be stopped or nearly in the middle of the road at an intersection.

    I wonder what’s more inconvenient, slowing down at a dangerous intersection with a car about to turn in front of you or getting your pelvis shattered?

    You can continue to rightfully blame the driver and I’ll totally agree with you, but at the same time I will go out there into the real world and try not to get smashed to smithereens by paying attention and not assuming that idiots in cars and SUV’s are going to do the right thing. Because they don’t and that’s the reality of it, not the fantasy world where everyone does exactly what they are supposed to do.

    What “should be” and “what is” are two completely separate realities.

  39. So Rick, how do you know obviously the driver would be stopped at the intersection to turn? Were you there? I see drivers blow turns without stopping all the time.

    You are absolutely blaming the victim here: “They couldn’t be bothered to slow down”. How do you know who did or didn’t slow down in this? Your assuming things you can’t know with any certainty.

    You are basically making the argument that we should abandon efforts of accountability on the road. That it should be some lawless wasteland where the monster trucks should rule the earth and cyclists should scurry around in constant fear.

  40. @RIck: Yep. That’s exactly what I was talking about.

    We disagree about whether (or the extent to which) riders can and, by extension should, control their own safety. You think they can take effective measures without defeating the whole point of riding a bike and therefore they should.

    I think that there are a certain set of thing cyclists can do, be visible, wear a helmet, behave predictably and in accordance with laws, that make them safer and they should do. I also think that beyond a certain point (perhaps like treating every intersection as if you have a stop sign whenever there is oncoming traffic that may or may not be looking to make a left turn in front of you) precautions start to defeat the whole point of riding a bike whether that is having fun or getting from point A to B efficiently. And that furthermore, even if they did take the measures you suggest SIGNIFICANT residual risk of being hit by a car remains.

  41. Gary, You’re trying to put words in my mouth. I never said that motorists shouldn’t be accountable for causing accidents. But the onus is on EVERYONE to be on the alert to avoid accidents.

    We make all this effort to reduce our profiles as much as possible to be more “aero” then freak out when some grandma doesn’t see our almost razor thin profile within 2 seconds.

    It is irresponsible for either party to not be paying attention and just assume that the other person is going to do what they are supposed to do.

    Sure, pass more laws, it will help some, but you’re an idiot if you think that they are going to save your ass by assuming that motorists aren’t going to make mistakes.

  42. @ Ed

    It’s true stats can be used to make different sorts of cases. It was quite eye opening to me that 80% of drivers in NYC who killed a pedestrian were male. Though I’m sure no one would get behind banning males from driving.

    However in the case between young drivers and older drivers, I see them as very different problems. Young drivers are the worst, followed by older drivers, but I believe that stems from lack of proper traffic education and sense of responsibility. I think that could be significantly improved with more comprehensive driving training and raising the bar for entry with improved standards.

    Compared to every other first world nation our traffic education is piss poor, and also not standardized across states. Technically if you move into CA from elsewhere, you have to get a CA license, but I have known many who spent years here on another state license. If you think CA DMV isn’t great standards, people in Texas can get licenses without every getting into a real car for the testing.

    Personally I like the idea used in some countries that getting a license requires a full comprehensible course, and the driver has to pay for it out of pocket. That would cut a lot of irresponsible people out of the picture. In hind sight I don’t feel I should have been allowed to get a drivers license without a drivers ed class. I learned how to drive from my girl friend at the time, who wasn’t even a very good driver.

    For older drivers on the other hand, there are cognitive abilities that decline which complicate certain kinds of driving tasks. There is nothing we can do to change that, it’s simply part of aging.

    I think we need to increase testing on both ends of the spectrum.

    What we also really need is making alternatives to driving feel viable to people, so those who probably shouldn’t be driving don’t feel compelled to. I think we could cut down DUI’s more effectively with better late night bus service than we could police check points.

  43. Take a look at the helicopter photo above. It appears that the driver “cheated” her turn – that is didn’t make a complete turn – but just veered off the line travel into a left. Ted Chen, when I spoke with him, said that CHP suggested she may have done that, and that the collision damage did so as well. If she did not slow and then make a complete turn, that would have been a near head on collision and the cyclists would have had no indication that she was turning other than possibly a turn signal and her veering from her direction of travel. Looking at the damage, I to think she probably did cheat her turn.

    Gary is right, the collision took place at Stokes not Las Virgenes. The initial news I received was Las Virgenes and I haven’t changed the map . . . but the later updates reflect the correct location.

  44. Does anyone have an update on the JPL people injured/killed (Doug Caldewell) on the way to work?

  45. Phil,

    All I know right now is what everyone else seems to know – that Doug was killed:

    http://claremontcyclist.blogspot.com/2010/08/ghost-bikes.html

    http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/leading-local-scientist-and-investor-killed-friday-morning-while-riding-to-jpl/

    I’ll be calling CHP tomorrow for an update on the Mulholland hits.

  46. I’m all for cyclists rights… but why do you have to ride on Mulholland Hwy? The road is covered on the weekends with motorcycles and fast cars, why even take the chance? Ruins it for us motorsports fans and ended up with cyclists down. Ride on less crowded roads PLEASE!

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  1. 81 year old driver hits 3 cyclists on Mulholland, leaves 2 in critical condition | Blogging.la - August 23rd, 2010

    […] a quick post pointing you to BikeSide LA because they have much better and ongoing coverage, but it seems that an 81 year old woman made a […]

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