Tag Archives: cyclist fatality

Moto-cyclist killed in Tempe hit-and-run

In an update to this July 2010 story, as the City of Tempe prepares to turn off its photo-enforcement effective July 19, 2011, police mention that those very photos were instrumental in capturing the suspect, Cody Davis, who fled the scene. See Police: Photo enforcement’s impact goes well beyond traffic infractions from the EVtrib.

UPDATE: Police arrest suspect 7/17/2010 [abc15] “Tempe police say Cody Ryan Davis has been charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident in the death of Bradley Jason Scott, 32, Continue reading Moto-cyclist killed in Tempe hit-and-run

Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009

Most at Fault driver / bicyclists collisions Arizona 2009Abstract

Traffic records for all bicyclist fatalities occurring in Arizona during the year 2009 were categorized and listed according to manner of collision and assignment of fault. Primary results are that 11 of 25 fatalities (44%) were determined to be the fault of the cyclist; while 14 of 25 (56%) were the fault of a motor vehicle driver. The most common manner of collision is when a driver strikes a cyclist from behind.

Full Report

The full report is available in pdf format:
Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009
Supporting data: 2009CyclistFatals.xls

Comments or questions may be left here, or contact me.

There were some somewhat out-of-context statements about my report on the npr.org health blog. They probably should have mentioned that the report covers only FATAL bike-MV collisions (a tiny fraction of all bike-MV collisions), and that the manner of collision in fatals varies significantly from non-fatals.

Continue reading Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009

Arizona bicyclist fatalities 2003-2006

How did I miss this one?

Should State DOTs Prefer Bicycle Lanes or Wide Curb Lanes? A.L. Dennison, 2008 [.pdf] This report was produced for ADOT in cooperation with US DOT/Federal Highway Authority.

Bicycle facility advocates have long debated the respective merits of bicycle lanes (BLs) and wide curb lanes (WCLs); this report investigates their claims… This study found no apparent relationship between fatal bicycle/motor vehicle collisions and type of bike facility… A significant handicap to any analysis of bicycle travel or safety is the paucity of reliable data.

Of great interest to me was the categorization of bicyclist fatalities over a four year (2003-2006) period, based on police reports. Somehow I missed this report entirely even as I echoed its complains about the “paucity of reliable data” for cyclist/traffic collisions while researching Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009.

According to my (from ADOT’s Arizona Crash Facts) records there were 15, 27, 35, 30 fatals in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, respectively. This totals 107, but the report says that “We obtained 85 (97%) of 88 microfilmed fatal bicyclist/motorist crash reports submitted to AzDOT by police agencies in Arizona between 2003-2006”. The missing 3 (88-85) are explained in a footnote. But one wonders, where are the other 19? (=107 – 88). Does that mean that not all fatalities are submitted to ADOT? … so the answer i am told is that it covers the time period 17-Oct-2003 to 25-Sept-2006, which makes sense.

 

Is it illegal to ride a motorized bicycle on the sidewalk in Phoenix?

Story from the Arizona Republic; I copied the whole thing because it was only a few sentences long (my emphasis added):

Woman dies when motorized bike collides with car in Phoenix
by Jack Highberger – Jan. 20, 2011 12:26 PM The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team
A 53-year-old woman died Tuesday night (1/18/2011) when her motorized bicycle collided with a car on Dunlap and 25th avenues.
The woman was driving the motorized bicycle on a sidewalk when she entered the crosswalk and collided with the car, said Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department.
She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.
She was taken to the hospital where she later died. The driver of the car, who is also a 53-year-old woman, was not charged by Phoenix police. Authorities said it’s illegal to operate a motorized vehicle on a sidewalk.

First off, let me say that this type of collision is pretty common, and it is exactly why sidewalk cycling, motorized or not, is not recommended. But is it illegal? Continue reading Is it illegal to ride a motorized bicycle on the sidewalk in Phoenix?

Commuter cyclist killed in Tempe

[UPDATE: Oct 14, see Investigation, below]

According to item at biketempe.org, and thread at azfixed.com… Bike commuter Jay Fretz was killed in a a collision at the intersection of Alamenda and McClintock Drive in Tempe at approximately 6:30p Monday 5/17/2010. Police say the driver on McClintock ran the red light and hit and killed the bicyclist as he was crossing through the intersection. Continue reading Commuter cyclist killed in Tempe

Pre-preliminary 2009 Bicyclist Fatality Report

[update: this posting has been superseded — please see:

Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009

which has detailed, finalized stats and discussion]

First, some perspective: In the state of Arizona, approximately 1,000 people are killed per year in traffic collisions of all types. The number of cyclist (usually called a “pedalcyclist” in the jargon) fatalities fluctuated between15 and 36 per year over the past twenty years, with an average of about 25/year.

[as a sidebar, Arizona total traffic fatalities which have been as high as 1,293 just a couple of years ago, were down to 937 for 2008.  The exact cause of this happy trend is a matter of great debate, e.g. the effect of economic recession, and photo-enforcement. Even after this dramatic reduction Arizona roads remain significantly more dangerous than US averages ]

I have become increasingly frustrated by what seems to me to be short-shrift paid to analysis of crashes resulting in a cyclist’s serious injury/fatality Continue reading Pre-preliminary 2009 Bicyclist Fatality Report

Founder of Yuma Bike Club killed in head-on collision

[Update: on 9/1/2010 the driver was cited Case Number: M-1442-TR-201001097, Somerton Municipal Court]

Cyclist Doug Flynn was killed, and at least one more rider injured, in a head-on collision last year (Sept 24, 2009) by a driver trying to pass a large farm tractor on a two lane roadway.
[for a line-item on each fatality since 2009; follow this link]

A tribute to Doug posted on the YBC’s website reads “Yuma Bike Club is Continue reading Founder of Yuma Bike Club killed in head-on collision

11-year-old killed in crosswalk collision

An 82-year old motorist turning left onto Union Hills from 15th Avenue struck and killed an 11-year old girl riding in the crosswalk on August 5, 2010. The girl was heading southbound on the west side (i.e. going with the flow of adjacent traffic).

Names have not been released, Phoenix Police officer “Martos said the woman was not impaired and likely will not be charged. Police are still investigating.”

I’m not familiar with this area or intersection [google maps], though Union Hills Dr appears to be a typical Phoenix “car sewer”; 5 lanes of rush rush.

The mechanics of the collision are very similar to Maxwell v. Gossett, where the Arizona Supreme court found for the cyclist, and against the motorist who was turning through the crosswalk. If anything, this is a stronger case for the bicyclist, given the direction.

The so-called “left cross” is a common mode of collision; Bradley Jason Scott [tbagblog] was killed on Tempe a few weeks ago in a left cross (but not involving a crosswalk).

[azfamily][arizonarepublic][kpho] The kpho piece says in part that “police are trying to determine if she was riding the crosswalk or in the street, because, police say, it is illegal to ride in a crosswalk…”

Where does such patently false, mis-information come from?

Is it legal to ride in a crosswalk?

Setting aside the issue on the relative merits of sidewalk cycling…

By way of some more background on the legality of cycling in crosswalks; an analysis prepared by the Tuscon City Attorney’s office in 1998 found that (my emphasis) “…it is apparent that under the present state of law in Arizona a bicyclist is not prohibited from riding on or across a crosswalk…”.

It’s worth pointing out that this conclusion was reached in Tucson where it is patently illegal to cycle on the sidewalk. I am not aware of any Phoenix ordinance that affects crosswalks, thus we would fall back to the same cases and Arizona statutes analyzed in the above memo.

That being said, saying something is not prohibited is not the same as saying that the car driver must be automatically at fault, e.g. “the court held that bicyclists must still exercise due care and concern for their safety while about to enter or in the crosswalk”.

Please see Sidwalk Cycling in Arizona for more details and references, especially Maxwell v. Gossett.

The Police Report

This is adot incident 2414621 and Phoenix Incident number 10001096939 [I had gotten the number off by a digit from phoenix traffic records, I may have written it down wrong, in any event that caused a large delay in analysis. Victim Madeleine Pila Driver: Marguerite Savarese.

The ACR is available from the city of Phoenix online, there is presumably a DR as well available from Records but I do not have that.

The narrative in its entirety is succinct and very descriptive:

Traffic unit 1 (pedalcyclist) was riding her bicycle southbound in the crosswalk on the west side of the intersection of North 15th Avenue and West Union Hills Drive. Traffic unit 2 (vehicle) was making a left hand turn from northbound 15th Avenue to westbound Union Hills Drive. Unit 2 collided with unit 1 in the marked crosswalk. As a result of the collision, the operartor of unit 1 was pronouced dead at the collision scene by responding paramedics

THE TRAFFIC UNITS ARE LISTED ALPHABETICALLY BY LAST NAME

Note that in Arizona, “Unit #1 is the vehicle, pedestrian, pedalcycle or animal rider that caused the collision or was most at fault” (refer to ADOT AZ Crash Manual; links here), there is no provision for assigning units in any other way. To do so destroys the usefulness of statistics in the ADOT crash database (ALISS). If police are going to do this, it should be corrected before submitted for final inclusion in the database — was this done? It’s not clear; but given that the driver was never cited for any infraction (according to case lookup), it appears the investigation results stand as initially entered.

Though there would seem to be no confusion in assigning fault, the cyclist was for no apparent reason listed in Block 20, Violations/Behaviors  “13. Failed to keep in proper lane”. This is nonsensical. From the narrative the cyclists should have been assigned “1. No Improper Action”. See Maxwell v. Gossett for further verification that the cyclist was doing nothing whatsoever wrong in riding through a crosswalk.

Though there seems to be no confusion about what the driver did, the driver was listed in Block 20, Violations/Behaviors  “16. Inattention/Distraction”. That may well be true, however, it is apparent from the narrative that the driver committed a “7. Made Improper Turn”

In short, the driver was most-at-fault, and should have been assigned unit number 1 along with the violation/behavior noted above, and should have been cited (according to court records, the driver was not cited).

There is also an apparent error on the ACR but doesn’t affect the outcome, Block 14 Type of intersection is marked as “12 (Controlled Access Area) Intersection Related”. The intersection is not in a controlled access area (a.k.a. a freeway interchange) and should presumable be “2 Intersection Related”.

The ADOT Database Record

This is IncidentID = 2414621  In addtion to what was described above as errors done by the investigating officer on the ACR (and signed off on by a supervisor), the following errors and inconsistencies were noted in the ADOT crash database record:

  • AlcoholUseFlag: 1 (but that is not supported by the report?)

 

Why does Phoenix Get it Wrong, and why does Scottdale get it right?

I have no idea. I have informed Phx PD VCU at least twice (once while the investigation was still supposed to be open, and again in May 2012 when I reviewed Phoenix fatalities). They have steadfastly refused do the right thing; claiming their mis-handling of crosswalk cases is ” based on a sound and experienced understanding of the law along with the guidance of Department, City, and County Attorneys”. Their conclusions appear to directly contradict Maxwell., and indeed those I’ve contacted seem to have never even heard of it.

Consider the case of a 12-year-old boy in Scottsdale struck while proceeding straight in a crosswalk who was struck and seriously injured by a left-turning driver. This is exactly the same configuration as the Pila fatality. However Scottsdale PD not only cited the driver for a bad turn, but also charged him with 28-672, a misdemeanor. Phoenix rewards dangerous, inept drivers with NO_IMPROPER_ACTION while Scottsdale punishes them with criminal charges.

So, apparently Phoenix’s city attorney or Police Department knows something that Scottsdale’s doesn’t, or vice-versa. And of course the County Attorney is one-in-the-same (I mean: Scottsdale and Phoenix are both in the same county); and of course the same state laws exist in both cities — there was no mention of any city codes in the Pila report. I don’t believe any of it, I’m willing to guess no attorney ever reviewed it (I mean for citations; i imagine the case received perfunctory review for negligent homicide charges)

Botched LAPD investigation

This has many of the similar elements of botching as PPD above, the belief, not based on any law, that it’s somehow illegal to ride in a crosswalk, soapboxla explains:

On Monday, June 1, 2009 at approximately noon, a woman rode her bicycle on the sidewalk of Louise Avenue in the valley. As she approached the intersection of Valerio she rode into the intersection on an unmarked crosswalk. At the same time a large truck approached the intersection on Valerio and proceeded to turn right onto Louise. The cyclist and the truck collided, she fell to the ground and the truck crushed her head as she lay on the street.

…But especially disturbing is the resulting confusion during the investigation of the incident and the confusion over “the rules of the road.”

Councilman Smith’s office responded to the incident the next day and explained, via email, that “the bicyclist was reportedly riding on the wrong side of the roadway and traveling against the traffic flow; making her the initial “primary cause” of this tragedy.” The email went on to detail the law enforcement experience of Councilman Smith, Chief of Staff Mitch Englander and Public Safety Deputy Jim Dellinger.

The LAPD’s Public Information Officer confirmed the report that the LAPD considered the cyclist the “primary cause” of the incident because she was riding a bike in a crosswalk which is a violation of CVC 21200 which requires a cyclist to obey the rules of the road. The PIO explained that a cyclist must either dismount at crosswalks or ride on the right side of the road with traffic.

The legal statues, codes, and ordinances are detailed at bicyclelaw.com’s blog — they happen to be analogous to Arizona’s state statutes and Phoenix’s ordinances.

 

Driver Sentenced: Bullhead City cyclist killed in hit-and-run

Larissa Jean Castilleja
Larissa Jean Castilleja

Larissa Jean Castilleja, 43, a Bullhead City High teacher was killed Sept 9, 2009 when a driver hit her and fled the scene.

This fatality bears many similarities to several of four recent fatalities in the Phoenix-metro area this past summer.

  1. the automobile driver hit-and-ran (all 5 incidents)
  2. DUI on the part of the automobile driver is suspected (at least 4 of the 5 incidents)
  3. time of day was overnight/early morning (ranging from 10pm to 4am)
  4. no improper actions on the part of the cyclist are suspected (all 5 incidents)

The suspect was later charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene, on Sept 28 he plead not guilty; and according to the Mojave Daily News, has secured himself  all-star Scottsdale DUI lawyer Scott Maasen. In granting the reduced bond, the judge expressed reservations and then … did it anyway! It was also revealed in that story that the defendant has an outstanding warrant for DUI in Nevada, which he says he is not aware of.

The Plea

The defendant plead guilty to manslaughter, leaving the scene, and DUI. Sentencing is scheduled for May 21, 2010. Case number S-8015-CR-200900986, online lookup.

Sentencing

The [mohavedailynews] had a pretty good rundown of the sentencing:

Judge Steven Conn sentenced Gagliardi to prison for 13 years for both felony crimes (8 for the manslaughter, 5 for hit-and-run), saying the two charges were separate crimes and deserved consecutive sentences. He only found a lack of criminal record as a mitigating factor and that Gagliardi also had about 20 moving violations, mostly for speeding. He found aggravating factors that Gagliardi’s blood alcohol rate was more than twice the legal limit and the emotional harm to Castilleja’s family. The judge also said he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent to people who visit the casinos and drink then get into their cars to drive home.

see also [kingmandailyminer].

Continue reading Driver Sentenced: Bullhead City cyclist killed in hit-and-run