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Family of Bicyclist Killed in Malibu Presses For Safety on PCH

Marisela Echeverria was training for an Ironman Traithlon when she was killed in a crash with a metro bus on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu last weekend.

The family of a woman who was training for an Ironman Triathlon when she was struck and killed by a metro bus in Malibu is hopeful that her death will spur needed safety improvements for bicyclists along Pacific Coast Highway.

Marisela Echeverria, a 36-year-old Cypress Park resident known as "Mari," was pronounced dead just after 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 on Pacific Coast Highway near Puerco Canyon Road in Malibu.

Echeverria was training for an Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon, according to her boyfriend Dominique Zoida of Sherman Oaks, who said the family wanted to issue a statement through him.

"They are very hurt. They want to protect everyone else. They don’t want this to happen again," Zoida said. "...They want something good to come out of it. They are devastated beyond belief and they don’t want this to happen to anyone else."

Zoida said he would like to see improvements along Pacific Coast Highway, especially an extra line that parked vehicles would need to stay to the right of. He wants the improvement to be called "Mari's Line."

"If you are over that you could get a ticket or towed," Zoida said. "That would push the parked cars more to the right."

Echeverria was known among her friends and family for her big heart.

“She was one in a million,” Zoida said. "She meant so much to so many people She touched so many lives in so many ways … She was so charismatic, so full of life and it’s just so difficult.”

Echeverria was involved with Team in Training, and helped raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Andrea Greif, director of public relations for LLS, issued a statement Tuesday, stating that a fund has been set up in Echeverria's honor.

"The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and teammate Marisela Echeverria. As a long-time participant in LLS’s Team In Training program, Marisela was a dedicated volunteer, mentor and fundraiser, and was committed to our mission to find cures for blood cancers and provide help and hope to patients and their families," according to the statement.

In a post Echeverria wrote on the Team in Training website in 2011, she outlined her passion for helping others.

“’All in’ means we face our fears. This means we charge into the ocean, waves tumbling us all over the place, but with the promise that this time, we will make it just a little bit further out. It means riding on our bikes downhill without constantly hitting the brakes, although you are certain you should really not be riding that fast. It means convincing ourselves that we can run, even if our legs feel like lead after a few hours on the bike. It means we ask our friends, neighbors, coworkers, local businesses for a donation, even if they may say no, because we know that this is bigger than ourselves and a cause worth fighting for.”

Echeverria's family asked that donations be made at http://los.tnt.llsevent.org/marisela.

Niall Huffman October 18, 2012 at 10:59 PM
PCH may be designed and engineered like a freeway, but it's the only route through Malibu for cars, mass transit, walking and biking alike. It provides access to homes, businesses, jobs, schools, beaches and recreational amenities that make Malibu a desirable place to live and visit. Treating PCH like a freeway and banning bikes from the roadway simply isn't feasible -- practically, legally or politically -- and any attempt to do so is sure to go down in defeat. People on bikes are not going to stop riding on PCH. The City and Caltrans need to acknowledge their existence and provide for their safe passage. Human life should take precedence over motoring convenience.
hellwood October 18, 2012 at 11:18 PM
gary, According to you, we should all park in our garages. imagine riding your bike while every resident in eastern malibu is blindly backing their cars out of their garages / driveways out onto the highway. this is not a very well thought out scenario gary. think again
Mr. Shelley J. Cohen October 18, 2012 at 11:32 PM
The question is--How did this terrible tragedy happen so others will be safe on their bicycles? Why is it, we do not know how this accident happened?
Ross October 19, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I think that this is a simple issue common courtesy and respect for human life. Whatever your opinions are, a bicycle will always lose against a car. As of now, check with the DMV: bicyclists have the same rights afforded to vehicles as to the use of our roadways. This includes the ability to ride in the right lane as is necessary to ride safely. Vehicles are required to pass bicycles at a safe distance. If we continue to bicker about who is responsible for our safety, I.e. The sentiment that if you get killed on a bicycle, you effectively deserve it for 'taking your life into your own hands', we continue to miss the point. The bus drivers on PCH are beyond belligerent and purposefully fail to give cyclists a safe buffer in which to ride. The easiest and most simple solution seems to be a little courtesy and understanding. Add an extra 15 seconds to your commute and pass ALL cyclists at a safe distance. Period. Don't honk, cuss, throw stuff at them, etc regardless of whether or not you believe they're a huge inconvenience and no business being on 'your' roads because if you do trend towards believing this, you are legally and morally completely incorrect.
Mike Drago October 19, 2012 at 12:07 AM
A rally point could be a place for bike riders to gather off the highway BEFORE they ride along PCH from Trancas to Ventura. PCH is wider there and a better bike lane could be created because fewer cars park along the road in that section. I want people to ride I just don't want them to die. PCH in East Malibu is too dangerous. If somebody insists on riding along PCH in East Malibu, then I guess they can take that chance. I lived in Malibu for 30 years and never rode a bike along PCH. It defies common sense. I didn't know Marisela but she must have been a sweet person. I feel for the family.
hellwood October 19, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Ross, the courtesy goes both ways...if the bikers were respectful of the motorists by only flexing their "right" to take a lane and staying out of traffic unless its necessary, motorists would be more inclined to be respectful in return. just because it "legal" doesn't make it courteous. this always turns into a "legal" vs. "moral" issue, and that is why things escalate. there are chumps in cars and on bikes. we really do need to work it out.
Niall Huffman October 19, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Be careful about lumping "bikers" into one group. Most people on bikes aren't interested in holding traffic up, are uncomfortable riding in the traffic lane and just want to complete their ride safely. Should they be disrespected and endangered because of the actions of a belligerent few?
Niall Huffman October 19, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I'd also point out that it's often the case that even when it looks safe from behind a windshield for a bicyclist to move over to the side, there really isn't enough room to do so safely. Or there are hazards on the roadside that aren't apparent to someone inside a car. If you see a bicyclist out in the lane, it's best to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they're there for a legitimate reason that might not be apparent to you.
R Y A N October 19, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Wrong place/time. Witness statements and evidence may shed light, but we may never know everything. Did fatigue conribute?
hellwood October 19, 2012 at 01:09 AM
ross, not lumping...the majority of bikers are quite considerate. others are just flexing their legal rights
hellwood October 19, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Niall, not lumping...the majority of bikers are quite considerate. others are just flexing their legal rights
Rules of the Road October 19, 2012 at 01:22 AM
More respect for bicyclists will be given when it is earned. You bicyclists claim your "rights" and the "law" but you refuse to follow the rules of the road (yes, they apply to you also). Try stopping at stop signs or red lights--every stop sign or red light-- even at T intersections. Maybe consider signaling before you turn or dart into traffic. If you run into a car, leave a note and offer to pay for the damage that you caused.
R Y A N October 19, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Let’s just put all the cards on the table. Another massive cost completely off-the-books are the costs for the healthcare network and government to provide millions of dollars of care immediately and over time for Humpty Dumpty heroic efforts (trauma centers, air ambulances, and surgeons on standby), and long-term recovery after crashes. Those costs are borne by the insured people, the County, State, and Feds in such an abyss that they can’t be tracked – but are self-evident and real – just ask Zev. This relates much more to motorcyclists in places other than Malibu due to the economic efficiencies of motorcycles as primary transport by young people with limited income, oftentimes with deficient or non-existent accident/heath/life insurance to cover the real and future costs that defaults onto society.
Niall Huffman October 19, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I'll give hellwood the benefit of the doubt on the "lumping" accusation, but I'll level it at Rules of the Road with enthusiasm. I don't run stop signs and red lights, don't cut off cars, always signal my intentions, and don't run into cars. I still get disrespected and endangered by aggressive moron drivers (who thankfully make up a small minority of the driving public) who can't stand the thought of following behind a bicyclist for 15-20 seconds while they wait for a gap to make a lane change. Don't automatically assume that a random person on a bike is a scofflaw, and don't blame law-abiding bicyclists like me for the worst transgressions of every moron who's ever thrown their leg over a top tube.
BJToepper October 19, 2012 at 05:59 AM
I'd be curious to see your sources for traffic deaths being higher in Europe. From what I've read, rates are actually lower in much of Europe, with higher licensing standards and stringent alcohol laws contributing much to their safety records. In my visits to Germany and Holland, I've also seen extraordinary traffic calming infrastructure (trees planted in the roadway, narrowed streets, etc.) that helps lower speeds and reduce deaths. These are both densely populated countries, but traffic death rates have fallen to extraordinarily low percentages, around one-half our own (measured by distance driven). For more, you might check out Wikipedia's comparison of countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate Incidentally, New Zealand is the only country that I know of where cars have the right-of-way over pedestrians (except in crosswalks), but I'd welcome information on others.
Monica Bey October 19, 2012 at 07:39 AM
It's tragic that there has been another cyclist death on PCH. Sympathies to Mari's family, friends and colleagues. It's a shame that this beautiful stretch cannot be safely used by bikers. I think there are solutions to better accommodating bicycle traffic on PCH, but little political will and interest. There are four lanes of traffic. Drivers of vehicular traffic wouldn't like it, but one lane could be taken away from vehicles for bicyclists. Vehicular lanes could change, depending on traffic flow/time of day, that is, two lanes could be used for north to south traffic and one for south to north, and then switched. Also, the speed limit could be reduced.
hellwood October 19, 2012 at 04:24 PM
haha! you should be forced to ride a unicycle in a clown suit for a whole day because of a comment this looney.
Niles Akbar October 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Bullcrap. A lunatic idea.
Niles Akbar October 19, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I'm all for equal rights for cyclists as long as they have to pay the same registration fee as a cars, have airbags around their bodies like the Michelin Man, have to maintain adequate medical and long-term hospitalization & care insurance and also personal vehicle and uninsured motorist insurance. There, now that's a great solution!
Friendmsy October 19, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Come on people..this is not the place for your bs. Some of us want to honor her and wanted to read this article in peace. I knew her and it hurts that now I can't share this link bc of all the inappropriate back in forth ..hurtful!!!
Fend October 19, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Come on people..this is not the place for your bs. Some of us want to honor her and wanted to read this article in peace. I knew her and it hurts that now I can't share this link bc of all the inappropriate back in forth ..hurtful!!!
Lostobe October 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Come on people..this is not the place for your bs. Some of us want to honor her and wanted to read this article in peace. I knew her and it hurts that now I can't share this link bc of all the inappropriate back in forth ..hurtful!!!
hellwood October 19, 2012 at 05:12 PM
tell your friends to start honoring, and stop whining about the highway. it was an accident!
Niles Akbar October 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Dude, how many times will you copy and paste this comment under different names..hurtful!
BJToepper October 19, 2012 at 06:16 PM
@Monica: It's difficult to imagine a roadway in this configuration, but we may eventually get there. So much depends on the foresight and willingness of the powers-that-be. One of the biggest problems is that we have so few examples of infrastructure done right in California and elsewhere worldwide. I can't imagine, however, that any Malibu resident would turn down and opportunity to make PCH safer, more pleasant to live, and more beautiful. The first time I saw the sign, "27 Miles of Scenic Beauty" when entering Malibu twenty years ago, I was expecting something more akin to 17 Mile Drive, near Carmel. Boy, was I disappointed!
BJToepper October 19, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Incidentally, most car insurance policies include bicycle riding as part of the policy. As the large majority of adult cyclists are also drivers, they are, in fact, covered as you mention. The registration fee has been tried at a local level and found unworkable. If I speculate, however, I might think that the increasing share of electric cars will cause states to rethink how to pay for roads. Like cyclists, electric car drivers pay no gasoline taxes, but (unlike cyclists) cause road damage equal to any car. We may eventually see a formula that accounts for miles traveled and weight, and under that system, cyclists might be included. Their share of costs will likely be tiny, perhaps not worth the administrative fee to collect it. Meanwhile, I'm hoping to get an electric car as soon as possible and mooch off all the gasoline car drivers out there...
Beby October 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Wish that we could outlaw bicycles on PCH. It's just too dangerous.
Bob Perkins DDS October 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I know that there is sincere concern for making PCH safe for cyclists but I hope we aren't forgetting that in the middle of all of the logistical discussion that is going on here, a young women was tragically and savagely killed, albeit accidental. It hasn't even been a week. The blood stains are still there. I hope we don't lose sight of that for the short term, at least. Marisela Echeverria, 36, architect, humanitarian, triathlete, friend to many.....
Keith Campbell October 23, 2012 at 04:46 AM
From AgouraKC,I just completed 14 months of work at the T Intersection at Corral Canyon and PCH. I almost took out several bycyclers when I made a legal UTurn on the green arrow. The bycyclers did not stop at the red light. They don't all respect traffic laws and traffic lights.
Noel October 23, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Keith, It's an imperfect world. Some folks don't even spell by the rules. I'm glad you are ok! I don't think anyone is implying that folks all obey traffic laws (in cars or bikes). I think we are trying to understand how this amazing young woman lost her life and also try to better understand how to make the PCH a safer place for all the good people using it. Regardless of the animosity towards cyclists or the feeling that PCH should be for cars only.... we're all left here with an interesting problem to solve: How can we make it safer for cyclists? Certainly we all agree that cyclists can make it safer for themselves by riding legally. Mari was riding legally.

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