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Malibu: Sunshine, movie stars, and senseless deaths on PCH

Forward: This story has particular relevance to me as every week I ride my bike over the exact same stretch of PCH in Malibu as the two riders who were killed last Saturday. Every week I comment to my riding partner that the situation there is incredibly dangerous. For the past several months I had wondered out loud why no one was calling Caltrans or the contractor responsible for creating the dangerous encroachment. I was one of those people who never made the call and I will have to live with that the rest of my life. However, I can do something now which is to make sure that this story is told in its entirety and that pressure is put on all responsible parties to fix the section of roadway that has contributed to two deaths. As of today, five days after the fatal accident, nothing has been done to remove the obstructions which means this weekend, hundreds of more cyclists will be forced out of the bike lane into 50+ mph traffic. How can this be so?

Now their story which has been synthesized from the LA Times, Malibu Times, Santa Monica Mirror and my own visit to the accident site.

Senseless Deaths

Bicyclist deaths are always tragic and senseless. However, the killings of Stanislav Ionov and Scott Bleifer stand out in their senselessness. Bike accidents are often the result of a series of unrelated and unpredictable events that happen in such an unfortunate manner as to result in a catastrophe. For example, a driver just happening to be inattentive at the moment when they are drifting out of their lane while a cyclist is at that same moment veering into traffic to avoid road debris they were just coming upon (think “wrong place, wrong time.”).

However, unfortunate circumstances have nothing to do with the deaths of Ionov and Bleifer and their deaths were 100% avoidable.

The Cyclists

Stas Ionov

Stanislav Ionov was a senior researcher and expert at laser technology at HRL Laboratories, which is located less than a mile from the accident scene. He received a bachelor’s degree after graduation from the Moscow PhysTech in 1981. Then he worked as a research assistant to Professor Kapitsa (a Nobel laureate) to get his master’s degree and doctorate. After that he became the director of an experimental group at the Research Center for Laser Technology at the Soviet Academy of Science. In 1989, he emigrated to the United States, where he did postdoctoral work at UCLA and USC. He became an American citizen in 1999, and had a wife, Irina, and a daughter, Sophi and lived in nearby Calabasas. Ionov often rode his bike to work and went on long rides with co-workers. It was a little unusual for Stas to even be on PCH, his preferred route for going to/from work was Malibu Canyon Road. It appears just back luck that after working a few hours that day he took off north on PCH instead of returning the same way he had ridden that morning.

Scott Bleifer (seen above in a photograh from the La Grange web site) worked in real estate finance and was a regular at the Peet’s Coffee Shop on 14th Street in Santa Monica. He was vice president at Union Bank of California and a member of a local riding club called Club Velo La Grange. He was planning to ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles next weekend for the Arthritis Foundation’s Amgen California Coast Classic.

PCH

The breathtaking ocean and hillside views on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California carries dangers for bicyclists who ride in on the narrow road as cars zoom past them at over 50 miles per hour. Despite the risks inherent with riding on any major thoroughfare, PCH is traversed by thousands of road bicyclists most weekends. For reasons that are not understood, Caltrans has never built a dedicated bike lane on PCH and worse has allowed numerous obstructions and encroachments along the highway shoulder that force cyclists to share traffic lanes with fast moving cars.

So far in 2005, eight cyclists have been injured on PCH, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Seven were injured in 2004 and six in 2003.

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Google satellite image of the area of the crash location taken prior to construction.

The Encroachment

There is a wide shoulder used by bikes on northbound PCH coming down from Pepperdine University where cyclists pick up speed having just climbed a long hill out of Malibu Colony. At the bottom of the hill the road starts to veer to the right. The speed limit is 50 miles per hour on this stretch and cars regularly exceed this speed.

At this point the paved shoulder becomes impassable as orange traffic cones (see above photo) force cyclists onto the right-hand traffic lane. The cones represent the start of a construction project for a synagogue at the Malibu Jewish Center. For the length of the construction site (several hundred feet), concrete barriers cut off the shoulder. It is a very dangerous situation and it is unfathomable that the State, the synagogue, and the contractor let it happen for the several months that they’ve been blocking bicycle passage.

The concrete rails blocking the bike lane were reportedly installed with a state permit for construction. Said one cyclist who had ridden there earlier that morning: “Those barriers literally force you onto the road … there’s nowhere to go.” (As a follow-up I am trying to learn more about the permit and will post as an update).

This dangerous situation has been in place for many, many months. As mentioned above, even after the deaths last week, there has been no attempt to mitigate the danger or even add signs asking drivers to watch for cyclists.

The Accident

As Ionov and Bleifer rode northbound at about 10 a.m. on Pacific Coast Highway just passed John Tyler Drive (the entrance to Pepperdine University) traffic cones forced them into the right traffic lane where they were struck from behind by a catering truck travelling an estimated 50 miles per hour.  

Witnesses said the impact flung the two cyclists 150 feet forward.


(photo: Nick Miehle of Malibu Times)

The driver ”barely stepped on his brakes,” and did not swerve to avoid the two men, who were riding abreast of each other in the right-hand traffic lane next to the barricaded shoulder, said Los Angeles Sheriff’s Traffic Sgt. Philip Brooks. “Witnesses say he pretty much plowed into them, that he just tapped the brakes.”

A shaken motorist, who asked not be to identified, said, “One guy went under the truck, and the other was stuck on the windshield for a moment before he went down.”  Another witness in the car travelling behind the catering truck said he could see the bicyclists and wondered why the truck didn’t pull to the left to give them room.

Los Angeles County paramedics worked on both victims at the scene, and flew them to the UCLA Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead. (photo: Nick Miehle of Malibu Times)

The Killer Behind the Wheel

Victor Silva, a 37-year-old Compton resident, was the driver of the catering truck that killed Ionov and Bleifer.  He was arrested at the scene and on Tuesday was charged  was charged with two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and two counts of felony hit-and-run in their deaths. Silva apparently has no prior record.  He remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Silva did not stop for a quarter mile down the road from the accident scene and said he hadn’t seen the men before the accident. He also explained he did not step hard on the brakes because his passenger was standing behind him and cooking hot food.

Cooking in the back of a moving vehicle is illegal, Caffrey said. Authorities believe Silva was travelling around the 50 mph speed limit.

The Aftermath

Ionov and Bleifer were killed nearly a week ago, and while people at the local Starbucks are talking about it, and the city officials of Malibu are talking about it, absolutely nothing has been done to improve the safety and while I was taking photographs today I saw bicyclists forced back out into the same stretch that killed Ionov and Bleifer. I do not understand how this is possible. State permit or not, two people are dead because of those barricades so how can they remain? Furthermore, if you look at the pictures it would appear that they could easily be moved in three feet which would still allow the construction process to continue while allowing bicycle traffic to come through without going into a high-speed traffic lane. (see photo below.) Is this really too much to ask?

Malibu City Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich brought up the issue of bike safety on PCH at Monday night’s council meeting, and it was decided that the Public Safety Commission would address the issue. Ulich is a proponent of bike lanes, or some other way bicyclists could ride safely on the highway. Caltrans had studied the issue before but decided against bike lanes. The city has no jurisdiction over highway projects and can only make recommendations to Caltrans. Does anyone want to guess how likely this is going to result in action?

Questions

Why were barriers put up for the complete length of the construction site with zero accommodations for cyclists, a situation they knew was both dangerous and would be heavily trafficked?

If it was a construction zone, why wasn’t there a reduced construction zone speed limit?

Why weren’t there any signs notifying drivers to watch for cyclists?

Why haven’t the barriers come down or been moved inward since the accident?[Update (9/30/05): the barriers have been removed.]

Closure

Please do not do what I did and think “somebody should do something” and then do nothing. If you live in California, write your state legislature or Caltrans, as an update I’ll get that contact information. Email the Los Angeles Times (metrodesk@latimes.com) and ask them to do a follow-up story on the obstructions to the bike passage way. The Times has the ability to call the synagogue, the contractor, Caltrans, and others and have a much greater impact than we could. Ditto with the Malibu Times. Please do something.

Photos: Insider (except where noted otherwise)

Here are people who have blogged about the accident. Elegant Variation, LA Observed. I will try to keep this updated.

Link to Scott’s cycling club, Velo Club La Grange, and a link to a message board for Scott.


Scott’s water bottle was still at the scene serving as a chilling reminder what transpired 5 days before.

It should be noted that Velo La Grange lost Debra Goldsmith to a similar accident in Pacific Palisades several years ago.

If you have additional information on the riders or accident please post them in the comments or email them to us. Our contact information is accessible on our homepage.

Update: We understand that Malibu Times is working on another story. We will link to it when it is published and thank them for their comprehensive reporting of this story. If you read the comments below you will see that a dedicated group of cyclists immediately began calling media outlets as early as Sunday in what turned out to be a successful campaign to to get the media to look into the causes of the accident. This same group is forming a PCH bicycle task force to look into bicycle safety issues along the highway. As a follow-up to this posting, I had planned to take photos of what I considered to be the 10 most dangerous encroachments on PCH (some of which have been noted in the comments section). It appears now that there may be a structure for efforts like ours and our readers to support. I will post updates here as I learn about them. Furthermore, we are advised to continue emailing the editors at all local papers asking them to keep on the story. It also never hurts to email our local politicians. The sad news about my “10 most dangerous encroachments” is that I wouldn’t even have to travel far from home to get to ten–so a great deal of work needs to be done.

Update (9/17): There is now a memorial web site for Scott. We also posted a letter to the cycling community regarding the Malibu Sheriff’s department’s new policy regarding cycling on PCH “Malibu Sheriffs to cyclists: if the cars don’t get you, we will.”

Update (9/20): Commenter Merilin Monrovsk sent us a link to a photo of Stas Ionov, which we just added to the post. We thank him for his additional comments about Stas and the accident which can be found in the comments section below.

Update (9/21): The Malibu Times has published their follow-up article by Hans Laetz. Link to it here.

Update (9/23):
Pacific Coast Highway Malibu Riding Dangers–a must read.

Update (10/1): Just posted a story on Scott and Stas’ Memorial Ride.

Update (10/3): A Wiki-enabled memorial has been put together for Stas with links and remembrances. Please check it out.

Please make sure to read the comments below as many of Scotts and Stas’ friends weigh in on the accident.

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48 Responses to “Malibu: Sunshine, movie stars, and senseless deaths on PCH”

  1. 1
    Moon Says:

    Sounds like the families of the victims have an easy lawsuit against the city. It’s up to the city to protect themselves from lawsuits like that by keeping an eye on contractors. The contractor more than likely had an easement allowing them to do that, but, the city not putting in place things to warn and protect bikers, pedestrians, and wide loads is indefensible. I don’t particularly understand why the driver was arrested and charged ( unless he was drunk or something ). I see the blame being placed squarely on the city for not notifying the driver that there was a dangerous aberration in the road ahead.

  2. 2
    Insider Says:

    According to reports, the state of California is responsible for PCH and it was a state agency that issued the permit. That said perhaps there is some overlapping jurisdiction since it is sherrifs contracted by the city that patrol the area and not California CHP.

    As for the driver, it would appear that he was not looking at all at what he was doing. According to witnesses he “just tapped his brakes” before flying into them. A driver behind him could see the cyclists and wonder why he wasn’t slowing down or turning to get out of their way.

    There is also the issue of the illegal cooking in the back of his truck which if that affected what he was doing either by distracting him or in making him hesitant to brake when he finally did see them.

    Finally, there is the issue of his stopping which wasn’t until a 1/4 mile down the road–a portion of which he was dragging one of the cyclists. Some people I spoke to said that he didn’t stop until he was “flagged down” by witnesses but I’m not sure what really happened. However the fact that the police charged him with felony “hit & run” makes me think that they have witness accounts corroborating this.

    Make no mistake, I hold Mr. Sliva accountable for the two deaths and believe his actions were criminal. I didn’t spend too much time on him in the post because I believe that justice will take it’s course. My fear is that nothing will be done with those obstructions or others in that area and we might have more fatal accidents.

  3. 3
    jcrue Says:

    I used to drive the PCH when I lived in Ventura. Scary place to ride I would think.

    Terrible story.

  4. 4
    emmett albergotti Says:

    I hope that there is a way that CALTRANS can review the entire stretch of PCH from Santa Monica to Oxnard. There are many other places on the Northbound and Southbound sides that require that cyclists move into automobile lanes to proceed. Its MUCH more that just the one spot where last week’s tragedy occurred that needs to be fixed and none of the places are major obstacles. The Bel Air Bay Club frontage on the Southbound side has been that way for many years. Please let me know how to get results.

  5. 5
    8763wonderland.com - Cycling in Malibu Can Be Hazardous To Your Health Says:

    [...] bike lane into 50+ mph traffic. How can this be so? Read the entire outstanding coverage here.
    « previous |

    [...]

  6. 6
    Rodger Jacobs Says:

    Just linked you on this story, buddy. Good work.

  7. 7
    Bill Birrell Says:

    Thank you for your comprehensive article. As a long time cyclist in the area, I have been waiting for a comprehensive view of what happened.

    Yesterday, I attended Scott’s funeral along with hundreds of others, many faces familiar from cycling and Velo Club LaGrange among a sea of ‘normal’ people. I also was surprised to see my non-cycling lawyer, who it turns out had been to high school with Scott. He told me that another classmate of theirs has coincidentally just been appointed to one of the local Public Safety Commissions.

    In the last dozen years I have ridden between 70 and 80,000 miles on a road bike, most of it in Los Angeles County. The vast majority of motorists are considerate, and even generous when sharing the road. At the same time, I have been hit by cars twice and have had run-ins with agressive drivers more times that I care to recount.

    As a cyclist, we are citizens exercising our right to use the public roads we have paid for with our tax dollars. Our activity is not a licensed, regulated priviledge as is operating a motor vehicle. If not a regulated priviledge, does that mean the law sees it as a ‘right’? But what ever the parsing of the legal status, it doesn’t excuse that all too often, the governing bodies, be they government or law enforcement, seem to behave as though they are indifferent to our safety if not our import as human beings.

    I will go ahead and say it: cyclists are dismissed – somehow looked down upon as less important than other citizens. More than once I have been told I must be crazy (you even wear lycra!) to ride. These comments always come from sedentary people. On the contrary, cycling has numerous health benefits: physical, mental and dare I say, spiritual. It has been recommended to me by more than one doctor.

    Also more than once I have heard a story of a cyclist who recovered from an injury at a speed and to a degree that surprised a doctor. One well known example: Lance Armstrong’s extraordinary fitness in part allowed him to survive levels of chemotherapy that would have killed a sedentary person. In addition, cycling is ecologically responsible.

    But just because we aren’t delivering food or relying on an internal combustion engines to get our kids from point a to point b., we are less than. We are an unneccessary inconvenience. Sometimes it seems the attitude doesn’t stop at indifference, it seems worse – bordering on expendablity.

    I am not a lawyer, but I cannot believe that any but the most extremely callously posturing defense attorney would seriously suggest that cycling represents assumption of the risk.

    Scott and Stanislov didn’t assume a risk. They exercised their right. Their right to be healthy and enjoy the great out of doors.

    Yesterday I saw hundreds of shaken people, from all walks of life and at many different levels of physical fitness. One (only one) woman actually wore a lycra bike jersey.

    Scott, and Stanislav, were not expendable. They will be missed. Hopefully they will be missed by people who are willing to do something about it.

  8. 8
    Insider Says:

    Phenomenal post. I could not agree more.

    Also, thank you Roger, it is always an honor to be linked by you.

  9. 9
    Rodger Jacobs Says:

    “Sometimes it seems the attitude doesn’t stop at indifference, it seems worse – bordering on expendablity.”

    You said it there, Bill. Here in Glendale we have a problem with motorists striking pedestrians — often fatally — as many of the Armenian immigrants who make up over 70% of our population weren’t taught to drive in the defensive conditions neccessary to navigate in L.A. When it came time for the Glendale P.D. to make an official statement on the issue they said, “Pedestrians have to assume motorists don’t see them.”

    Yeah, I’m in the crosswalk, walking with the big flashing WALK sign and I get mowed down and it’s my fault because I wasn’t engaging in “defensive walking”?

  10. 10
    Insider Says:

    You are right. I remember when it seemed when Brand Ave. in Glendale seemed like the most dangerous place on earth. Something about that street just made people rip thru the crosswalks whether or not people were crossing.

  11. 11
    Trevor Small Says:

    As a road cyclist who rides on PCH at least twice each week, I was very upset and saddened by the recent deaths. There are so many places that seem to be just traps waiting for an accident. It seems that we all need to put our voices together to get this situation changed. My thoughts are with the families of the two. Let us all, when driving or riding keep our ears and eyes open!

  12. 12
    Susan Gans Says:

    Thank you SO much for this incredible report, and to the authors of the equally powerful essays to which you provided links. Although I absolutely encourage all concerned cyclists to pursue the avenues you have suggested (contacting the news media, writing to CalTrans and government officials – - and I can provide this blog with several such contacts later), I do want people to know that the wheels of mobilizing for REAL changes on PCH started to turn as early as Sunday afternoon, and many members of both Scott’s cycling club, Velo Club La Grange, and the LA Tri Club have pledged to help.

    Upon hearing initial reports Sunday that this was a hit-and-run, I immediately e-mailed and/or telephoned the L.A. Times Metro Desk, the Spanish daily La Opinion, and the Malibu Times, hoping that prompt and massive media coverge would help locate witnesses who might identify the driver. I subsequently learned that a lot of people called the L.A. Times, and it is quite likely that it was such persistence that ultimately led to the Times’ belated publication of its article, four days after the fact. Contacting the media (whether by phone or e-mail) to ask them to report on an issue CAN work, and news media coverage DOES help.

    But more importantly, several members of La Grange have already taken initial steps towards formation of a PCH Task Force Bicycle Subcommittee (it turns out that a PCH Task Force already existed, but it had never, as far as we know, focused specifically on hazards to cyclists). This subcommittee will be comprised of representatives of the government agencies and city, county and state offices which have the authority and influence to implement policies that will improve conditions for cyclists on PCH, as well as representatives of the cycling community. Many readers will shortly, I hope, be receiving a request from their cycling organization’s designated representative, soliciting suggestions to present to the task force. Please stay tuned for future developments (via this blog or a website TBD, or your cycling club – - and if you are not a member of one, may I suggest that you consider joining La Grange, which has proven itself again in this past week to be the most wonderful, caring and talented group of people that I could possibly imagine, and one that I am so incredibly proud to be a part of).

    Please pardon my verbosity. I just want to finish by saying that I had the privilege this morning to meet Scott’s mother, who along with her husband and Kona came to Peet’s this morning to meet so many of Scott’s “Peet’s gang.” I told her of our efforts and plans and pledged to her that something positive would come out of this tragedy so that her son’s death might at least help prevent the death or serious injury of another’s son or daughter on Pacific Coast Highway.

  13. 13
    Rodger Jacobs Says:

    God speed with your efforts, Susan.

  14. 14
    Karen Bleifer Says:

    As Scott’s sister, I can’t thank all of you enough for the action you are all taking on behalf of my brother and all other cyclists for that matter. Your posts warm my heart and keep me close to him.

    Susan, thanks so much to you and all the kind people of La Grange for being such an important part of my brother’s short but very full life. Kona misses him and her trip to Peet’s was an effort to help her healing because she just doesn’t understand what happened to him. I appreciate your taking the time to speak to my parents. I know it meant a lot and they were overwhelmed by the turn out from friends and canines.

    I will make it my mission, on behalf of my brother, to help in any efforts to make the highway a safer place for cyclists.

    Thank you all for your posts and I will read them all. Thanks also to those who attended the Funeral it meant a lot to my family.

    I will forever miss my baby brother…KB

  15. 15
    Rodger Jacobs Says:

    Karen,

    Keep Insider informed on any activist efforts to correct this horrible situation. I’ll make sure future events get full coverage at 8763 Wonderland.

  16. 16
    Brian Hodes Says:

    As a fellow rider who, like most of us, ride PCH quiite often, it is imparative that the situation be changed. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE. No one from any governmental agency has done a thing. How many more scenceless accidents need to happen until there is a resolve? Like all of us, I am terribly saddened by the loss.
    I call upon all cyclists to join me in organizing, and participating in a protest. I suggest a sit in, on PCH, if only for a few brief moments, to bring awareness to the public, and to the media, the absolute importance of bicycle safety, not only here, but on all roads in our community.
    Please contact me at brian@gr8shots.com if you wish to assist me, or if you have any comments regarding this issue.

  17. 17
    Gary Harmen Says:

    Shouldn’t they have been riding single file?? Maybe that was the cause of the accicent.
    Gary Harmen
    Bakersfield,Ca.

  18. 18
    Turq Says:

    Karen – sorry to you and your family.

    Not their fault – didn’t matter they were not riding single file (both got hit – plus there were two lanes (hit the car to your left, not the bike to your right)).

    Thanks for the comprehensive story, which i’ll forward to others.

  19. 19
    Newton Adcock- Bermuda Says:

    This is such a very sad situation. Senseless. It would seem that not one of the persons responsible for the construction, or the roads has given any thought to the repercussions if the barriers were moved and the bike lane closed. With a simple thing like a phone call to the bike club, and other interested parties, and a short meeting, this tragedy could have been avoided.

    Please get everyone together on this important safety issue.
    My condolences, may God be with you to give you peace.

  20. 20
    Gary Harmen Says:

    hit the car on the left it will dent my car. If i hit the bikers no dent! That makes sense to me. The cyclists should take at least a percentage of the blame.At least half if not mor. They knew the blokage was there. They should have ridden elsewhere.
    Gary Harmen

  21. 21
    frankie Says:

    This is the best summary of this sad story that I’ve read. Way to go Independent Sources. Thanks!

  22. 22
    Insider Says:

    Gary:

    Not sure if you are just trolling to get a rise out of the people coming here, being sarcastic or a poor attempt a humor, but I will respond to you anyway.

    First, two gentlemen were killed so it’s nothing to joke about. Second, they had the legal right of way to be exactly where they were. Third, unless one wants to forgo riding along the beach or in any of the canyons in Topanga/Malibu, then one will have to be on PCH for at least little stretches and this shouldn’t be a life threatening exercise. Fourth, a lot of people coming here knew one or both of the riders so we’d appreciate whatever the purpose of your comment was to be put on hold for awhile.

  23. 23
    Wayne Hayes Says:

    Thanks for the informative article and the effort put forth thus far to enhance bicycle safety on PCH. For those of us less informed and limited available time, please keep posting address, email sites for those politicians, etc,
    to whom we may communicate our concerns.

    a note to Susan Gans: Your excuses for those groups who blatantly ride outside the bike lanes oblivious to the disruptions they are causing to normal vehicle traffic are implausable. What these inconsiderate cyclists cause is resentment among drivers toward all cyclists which only increases the danger factor for the rest of us. As a roadie for more than 40 years, I still get a sense of intolerance trying to get around three abreast cyclists who are just yakking like some women’s sewing circle.

  24. 24
    Donna Cassyd Says:

    I’ll write my state rep–it would be great to post a caltrans link we would all use
    thanks for this work
    it is awful and hard to see the photos, scarey and angering

  25. 25
    Marcus Says:

    This brings up so many emotions. Anger, most of all. Sadness and feelings of helplessness. Confusion. A whole range I can’t seem to put a name to.
    Anger at anyone that thinks there’s ANY reason these riders should be held in any way accountable for what happened to them. Most of us that look at the pictures and hear about the driver know that there is NO excuse for what happened; and I don’t care if anyone is were chatting like old ladies or completely silent! That is not the point. The city made a problem possible. The driver made the worst possible problem come true. Two good men died because of it.
    I am appalled that this driver killed two men and ran from it and was offered $100,000.00 bail.
    In a conversation over the weekend I related a story where two divers observed poaching two lobster, had their car, their boat, there equipment confiscated and they went to jail immediatly. Kill two cyclists and run away from it and you can keep your truck, your job, and be at home drinking beer or on your way across the border, by dinner time? ( I know they didn’t get out, but they could have….cheaply)
    We need much more serious penalties. I don’t want my wife and kids to hear that I was killed by someone on a cell phone or a trucker on a schedule or a harried roachcoach driver. And oh yeah , by the way, they’re at home with their spouse and kids while the police are breaking it to my family.
    I apologize for the rant but perhaps I’ve hit a few chords,raised some hackles, that will motivate more of you to make that call or write that letter.
    In the meantime, if you can, stay off that section of road until this city finds out how expensive that desicion was and makes the change.

  26. 26
    The Elegant Variation Says:

    Independent Sources has posted the most comprehensive overview to date, with photos, of last week’s cycling fatalities on PCH. Now the sheriff’s department plans to target cyclists for citations, as though we’re the problem The author includes a call for some public action, which is why we include it here.

  27. 27
    Insider Says:

    I will research the best emails and post them above. Thank you for your interest in joining us in pursuing this.

  28. 28
    Edgar Burcksen Says:

    The same day this criminal accident happened I rode PCH in the morning. Luckily I decided to take Topanga Canyon and climb Fernwood and I wasn’t required to pass this dangerous section around Pepperdine. I didn’t hear about the accident until later that day when I was safely back at work. As a fellow La Granger I’m outraged about this and as someone who’s originally from a country where cycling is a way of life – The Netherlands – I know that there’s a lot of driver education that is missing here. Bicyclist are an integral part of driver education and the driving test in Holland. If you performed your driving test perfect and get out of the car before looking in your sideview mirror, you fail. Dooring a cyclist just doesn’t happen in Holland. If you go through the booklet the DMV requires every driver to study before taking a test, you will not find anything about how to deal with cyclists: it seems cars and trucks are the only users of the roads. Bicycling is ever increasing in popularity and it is about time that there is a formal requirement for drivers to acknowledge the rights of slower moving fellow road occupants. Making this part of the DMV drivers guide and test will slowly improve awareness of and behavior towards cyclists. Write your representative!

  29. 29
    De Che, Merilin Monrovsk Says:

    I am a friend of Stas Ionov (Stas is a short nickname for Stanislav). Let me say one more thing, please. That event is tragic in itself. We know, the rights of cyclists in town areas has always been a contentious issue. I understand there has been just an accident, but that accident, that deadly situation has been constructed by men many days before it occurred. I mean the construction workers, city officials, police department. Please, believe me, I do not shift a blame on anybody, including those two poor guys – Scott and Stas. Stas and I, both of us lived for a long time in a country (USSR) where a human life costs almost nothing. Last Saturday I attended Stas’ funeral in Forest Lawn cemetery on the Hollywood Hills. This happened so late because his parents flew from Russia, it took time. I do not want they left with the similar impression that human life here in California is also cheap. Someone said, tragedy comes to those who indefferently allow them-selves to become tragedy conscious. I do not want an accident like that have become a norm, common statistics of daily chronicles. Thanks.

    Here is a photo of Stas from the Boston Independent Almanac “Lebed”:

    Photo

  30. 30
    Jody Cherry Says:

    While Gary’s comments were upsetting and annoying they could be helpful. How many of us cyclists have non-cycling friends who complain to us about riders? The answer I think would be all. So aside from contacting our elected representatives and the local and state employees that work for us we need to think about a collective campaign of driver education. Hard for small individual bike groups to do effectively – it costs $$ to do something like that. What about contacting bike and bike accessory manufacturers and asking that they take on this task as a national effort? Aside from providing good will within their existing client base they might even expand the number of people on the road (making more money is always a good motivator for businesses) and the more of us there are the more we’ll be seen.

    As a side note. I was in an accident with a motorist a few years ago. Not being the most coherent at the time I relied on him to correctly give me his information and you guessed it, it was fake. I had noted his license number and contacted the DMV, they allowed me to file a report but nothing could result from it as the police had not been called to the scene. So my siblings of the saddle, have an accident with a motorist ALWAYS call or have a witness call the police you can protect yourself at least after the fact.

    Keep rolling!

  31. 31
    Karen Bleifer Says:

    Marcus,
    There is always a jerk in every bunch so just ignore posts like that. We all know that my brother and Stas did absolutely nothing wrong. What is wrong that people think they can speed on a dangerous street while trying to watch the view, chat on their cell phones, or cook in the back of their trucks and completely ignore the road. Until motorists understand the rights of cyclists, you will always have someone that will make a stupid or uneducated comment.
    I can tell you that the bail was upped to $200,000 and I don’t think that he is going anywhere anytime soon.
    I also have plans to keep my brother’s memory alive by improving driver education and cycling safety and awareness.
    Visit Scott’s website to keep current on what is going on http://www.scottbleifer.com.
    Thank you for your rant it is appreciated by myself and our heartbroken family!
    Trying to cope,
    KB

  32. 32
    faris Says:

    I rode through the area shortly after the accident (while the road was closed and the Sherrifs department were still conducting their investigation) on my way up to pre-ride the Malibu Triathalon course. I was saddened to learn today of the fate of these cyclists especially as a La Granger myself. Farther up the rode that day I had my own scary incident just past Hwy 23 where I was passing a slower cyclist who was weaving a bit on the shoulder and a huge construction vehicle gave me no additional room. I was in the middle of a time trial effort over a small climb. I am sure the driver had to see that he was going to be passing me just as I was overtaking this rider yet he gave me no leeway when all it would have meant was taking his foot of the gas for a second. The Sherrifs Dept and the lawmakers as has been previously mentioned treat us as second class citizens. They are more than happy to apply laws concerning where and how we should ride when it suits them, but really have no concern for our safety. This Malibu crack down is not for our safety, but rather the safety of their jobs and those of the council members who want to show that they are doing something about the issue. As Bill Birrell stated earlier “health benefits: physical, mental and dare I say, spiritual. ” The only thing I can add is that hopefully gas prices will continue to climb and maybe people will see another benefit in cycling. I can live with out my car if it really came to it and maybe that is what pisses so many of these motorists off! It is not the way that I would hope for cycling to emerge as a viable mode of transportation, but I will be happy to see anything that helps make it safer for me to ride my bike on roads I help pay to maintain.

  33. 33
    Hans Laetz Says:

    The barriers at the accident site were removed today.

    There is an article about Monday’s city council meeting:

    http://www.malibutimes.com/articles/2005/09/29/news/news2.txt

    And, there is this letter to the editor in The Malibu Times:

    >”Cars, bikes don’t mix

    I have a simple suggestion regarding bicycle safety on Pacific Coast Highway. Ban all bicycles. All bicycles! Bikes and cars don’t mix, regardless of what American Civil Liberties Union says or how cute the riders’ outfits are. No doubt we will avoid more than a few auto-on-auto accidents as well. If you really wanted to go for it, you might want to post some immigration officers and get the illegals off the highway, too. That should reduce our traffic by about 50 percent and really make the ACLU crazy, which, in itself, would be worth it.

    Bruce Kent “

  34. 34
    Insider Says:

    Hans is right. I’ve added a few updates to the post noting that the barriers have been removed. I’m not sure who pushed the right buttons but am very happy at the result. I also heard that workers on the site were even sweeping the shoulder of debris. While it is possible that this is required of them to do once the barriers were removed it was a very cool thing to do nonetheless. It is also one less thing to worry about on Saturday’s memorial ride.

  35. 35
    Leslie Says:

    What annoys me is the arrogance of the LA population. It’s ok to break the law by speeding while cooking, talking on the cell phone, or watching television, but those pesky spandex wearing bike riders shouldn’t be there. Where am I supposed to ride? When you ride on the “bike path” in the South Bay, the joggers and the roller-bladers yell at you. If you ride on the road you get yelled at by the drivers, or worse murdered. Why does LA foster such a hate against cyclists? Didn’t Lance, an American, just win a prestigious event again? I spent a few weeks in Europe training and it amazed me the patience the drivers had there. Traveling on streets far smaller than PCH, cars would willingly wait for a safe time to pass a rider.

    Not to encourage the 2 posts that stated the cyclists were at fault for this tragedy (it only shows their arrogance as stated above) but; maybe we should remove the CARS from PCH. Let’s turn it in to a haven for people who would actually enjoy it. Not sure how you can enjoy the view if your watching a DVD, or cooking while driving!

    My heart and prayers go to the families of this tragedy and to all of my fellow cyclists!

  36. 36
    Pavel Ionov Says:

    Thank you very much Insider for an excellent article and all those who have made such thoughtful contributions here. I am brother of Stas Ionov and would like to say that the family appreciates your efforts more than we can express. It is so heart-warming that so many people care so much. It is a great comfort to us and we know that it meant a lot to Stas to be a part of this wonderful community. Thank you also to all of those who contacted the newspapers about this tragedy and for all other efforts that have done so much to bring attention to the dangerous conditions for cyclists on PCH.

    For those who knew Stas, we have created a memorial website, for you to share your memories, thoughts and announcements. Thank you again.

    Link to Stas’ website: http://www.stasionov.org/

  37. 37
    Susan Gans Says:

    Regarding Jody Cherry’s comment “What about contacting bike and bike accessory manufacturers and asking that they take on this task as a national effort?” – - this is EXACTLY the mission of a fantastic organization, Bikes Belong, which is in fact funded primarily by contributions from bicycle retailers and manufacturers – - and its funds are substantial. The chief executives of Trek, Specialized and Shimano, to name just a few, are on its Board. You can read about its grant programs and initiatives at http://www.bikesbelong.org. I had the privilege of meeting some senior staff members of Bikes Belong at Interbike last week, as well as the Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists, and it was very exciting to hear about the work that they are doing. I urge everyone who wants to do something to make our roads safer for cyclists to join and support advocacy organizations like Bikes Belong, the League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org), the California Bicycle Coalition, and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

  38. 38
    The Cycling Dude Says:

    The dangers of cycling PCH in Malibu

    WARNING: This story, and its associated entries, as covered by 4 Blogs, and various newspapers, and other media outlets, is LONG. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT avoid reading the whole collection. If you ride along Pacific Coast Highway ANYWHERE

  39. 39
    Kiril "The Cycling Dude" Kundurazieff Says:

    To say that I am in awe of, and full of admiration for, the magnificent work that went into the 2 major posts on this subject would be a major understatement.

    Bravo!

    And Thank You!

  40. 40
    RoadBikeReview Forums - Riding in Malibu/PCH Says:

    [...] o me.

    I rode by this exact same spot a few hours after it happened.
    Makes me think.

    http://independentsources.com/2005/09/16/malibu/

    [...]

  41. 41
    Velo Club La Grange Says:

    [...] 17 Malibu: Sunshine, movie stars, and senseless deaths on PC [...]

  42. 42
    Velo Club La Grange: Public Policy Says:

    [...] 17 Malibu: Sunshine, movie stars, and senseless deaths on PCH [...]

  43. 43
    Main Page - Memories of Stas Ionov Says:

    [...] September 15, 2005 (http://malibutimes.com/articles/2005/09/15/obituaries/obit1.txt) Independent [...]

  44. 44
    MQ: September 2005 Says:

    [...] lways the chance you’d be shot or robbed if you rode the bike trail.Interesting article on Independent Sources regarding a bicyclist death in Malibu. [...]

  45. 45
    EuroVanClub :: View topic - Crashed Ferrari Says:

    [...] oast highway.

    this strech of highway , is well known and documented for speeding

    http://independentsources.com/2005/09/16/malibu/_________________ B [...]

  46. 46
    2 Cyclists Killed on PCH/Malibu CA Says:

    [...] port PostHorrifying (and moving) story.If you ride a road bike you need to read this story.Malibu: Sunshine, Movie Stars, and Senseless Deaths on PCHpacifico555 Reply [...]

  47. 47
    BikeDenver.org » Why Southern California Isn’t For Cyclists Says:

    [...] Malibu: Sunshine, movie stars, and senseless deaths on PCH [...]

  48. 48
    Twitter’s Response Beats 911? : blog.Mixergy.com Says:

    [...] At about 10:00 last night, when a van swerved into the bike lane on the PCH where I was cycling, I decided to stop riding. I know how dangerous the PCH can be and didn’t want to end up another PCH casualty. [...]