Deadly North Figueroa Street Hit-and-Run Crime Kills Cyclist

According to media reports, this morning at about 3 a.m. a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a cyclist in Highland Park. The crime took place at the intersection of North Figueroa and Pasadena Avenue. The L.A. Times reports that witnesses stated the driver was traveling at 80 miles per hour north on Figueroa. The victim was dragged several hundred feet. LAPD were summoned to the scene and are investigating the crime.

Cycling advocates will be gathering tonight at 8 p.m. to install a ghost bike at the site of the crime.

Councilmember Gil Cedillo blocked LADOT's plan to make North Figueroa safer. Photo via Fig4All
Councilmember Gil Cedillo blocked LADOT’s plan to make North Figueroa safer. Photo via Fig4All

Readers may recall that North Figueroa is one of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 15 selected Great Streets improvement areas, but that City Councilmember Gil Cedillo blocked the Transportation Department’s ready-to-implement safety improvements.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino responded to the tragedy with a statement: “I am sickened by the deadly hit-and-run this morning in Highland Park and want to remind the media and all residents that there is a standing reward for all hit and run crimes in Los Angeles. There is an automatic $50,000 reward for the capture and conviction of the driver who struck this bicyclist. Please, please, please report any information you may have. Our city has an epidemic of hit and runs and the only way we can change this is to speak up.”

Late developments: KCAL is now reporting that LAPD found the car and arrested a suspect. SBLA will update this post as additional information becomes available. 

 

 

  • michael macdonald

    Were it not for the lack of action by the City of Los Angeles, and principally Gil Cedillo, this intersection would have had right-sized lanes that would have discouraged speeding, bike lanes, and continental crosswalks to make people more visible at night by now.

  • davistrain

    While the improvements shown in the drawing would certainly enhance safety for the vulnerable users, I doubt if they would make much difference to someone traveling 80 MPH at 3 AM. People who drive like that deserve to have the proverbial book thrown at them.

  • michael macdonald

    The Vision Zero Initiative is founded on the belief that driver behavior can be affected by roadway design, and that roads can be designed to accommodate human error without causing deaths. If you have not already watched this video, I would highly recommend it: http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

    This concept has been proven in the reduction of injuries and deaths in numerous cities across the world, and it is time that Los Angeles fully adopt this initiative and take action to reduce roadway deaths.

    A great deal of data from numerous jurisdictions (including LADOT & FHWA) counters your intuition by stating that thinner lanes reduce driving speeds and that continental crosswalks and bike lanes improve visibility. Even a 10 mph reduction in speed or minor improvement in visibility could have made the difference in saving this young man’s life.

  • davistrain

    Most of the studies I’ve seen indicate that anything over 35 or 40 MPH is usually fatal, and I suspect that the driver in this case wasn’t paying much attention to lane markings. That said, during the day, when more cars are on the street, narrowing the lanes should encourage “mindful” driving. But, short of requiring cars to be equipped with speed governors that respond to signals from speed limit signs, there’s not much we can do about speed demons other than catch them in the act, shred their licenses and provide stern penalties for unlicensed driving.

  • michael macdonald

    That’s correct. But visibility is also an issue that the proposed plans for N. Figueroa addressed. And in addition to speed playing a factor in actual bodily damage, it also plays a role in reaction time. The effect of narrower lanes on reducing driver speed apply both to sober and drunk drivers: http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/10/why-12-foot-traffic-lanes-are-disastrous-for-safety-and-must-be-replaced-now/381117/

    As I said above, couple more reaction time from a slower speed with better visibility of continental crosswalks, and it’s entirely possible that this could have had a different result. Unfortunately we’ll never know for this particular tragedy because the City chose unfounded fears of loss of convenience over safety. Let’s hope they make the right decision for the future.

  • 3ba

    We really need to elect more Vision Zero-friendly people to the City Council, instead of people with zero vision. I recall there being a complete-streets-focused PAC in NYC. Is there an equivalent here in LA? And if not, can there be?

  • michael macdonald

    Last I had heard, that PAC wasn’t terribly successful because it couldn’t fundraise to compete with other lobbying groups. Has that changed?

  • ubrayj02

    It is less likely someone will get up to 80mph if block length is shortened with crossing points for pedestrians, narrower car lanes, and a couple of other design treatments. More likely that a motorist on a better designed street will hit something before getting up to that speed.

  • Blood on Gil Cedillo’s hands

    If Figueroa had the road diet, bike lanes, and crosswalks planned, there are a number of ways this could have been avoided. What if the bicyclist had ridden on Figueroa instead of Marmion due to the bike lanes? Then he would not be crossing at that moment and the collision could have been avoided. Or, what if given the road diet the driver instead chose to speed on the Arroyo Parkway? He might have crashed there instead, who knows. Or what if the bike lanes meant the driver instead biked home drunk rather than drove? Perhaps given all the roadway markings he might have driven more cautiously, or found himself needing to slow down due to a more steady traffic flow due to the road diet?

    The sad part is of all the crashes that do occur since Cedillo killed the road diet, we don’t know how many would never have happened if the road diet been implemented. What we DO know is that streets like Colorado and York have been made safer since getting road diets. Maybe this crash was inevitable, but many crashes on Figueroa have similar tragic results and are preventable through better street design. This should be a call to arms. We can continue to make excuses and say every crash is inevitable, or that “jerks don’t follow rules” so a road diet won’t change anything, but better street design means fewer people drive like jerks on our roads, and thus crashes like this are less likely to occur.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I wonder if the phenomenon of nighttime speeding could be mitigated somewhat by returning to the old practice of setting traffic lights into blinking-red mode after a certain time of night. Having to stop every few blocks would limit the speed that could be attained by non-drunk drivers and would minimize the delays that pedestrians currently face having to wait for lights or beg buttons to cross empty or nearly empty streets.

  • Tom Flopping

    This is the 3rd death in the area that is directly attributed to Gil Cedillo’s blocking of an already approved safety plan.

  • ubrayj02

    Any PAC in LA that tries to buy a councilman with money will fail – the price is too high.

    A livable streets PAC in LA will have to build a grass roots voting block around petitions for safe streets, block parties, bike tours, and community building events and rallies.

    With a sufficient voting block built, we can have a 10x more efficient electoral impact than all the big donors pumping money and hot air into campaigns in the months leading up to elections. If we use our advocacy efforts to build more lasting human connections and coalitions, our work feeds on itself and grows stronger – unlike the more traditional PACs that simply buy mind-share during elections or rent legislators opinions.

  • ubrayj02

    What kind of street configuration allows someone, drunk or sober, to get up to those speeds? Not one that belongs in the heart of the residential and commercial districts of this community. Drunks on road dieted streets hit things or simply self regulate well before they get up to 80.

  • ubrayj02

    Yes, there is a lot that can be passively done to slow down speed demons. That is why road diets are so heavily touted around the country.

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