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Coroner Rules Bicyclist's Death on PCH in Malibu as Accidental

The woman suffered "multiple traumatic injuries," according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

A bicyclist who was killed in a crash with a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on Saturday apparently veered into the transit vehicle after her handlebar hit a parked vehicle.

The 36-year-old woman, whose name was being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The crash was reported at 1:50 p.m. Saturday in the 25000 block of Pacific Coast Highway.

  • RELATED: Bicyclist Killed in Crash with Metro Bus

An autopsy was conducted over the weekend and her death was ruled as accidental from multiple traumatic injuries, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

The woman was an Ironman athlete, Biking in LA reported. She was also involved in Team in Training, a nonprofit that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

According to the preliminary investigation, the woman lost control of her bicycle after some trucks passed her, and her handlebar hit a parked vehicle, said Sgt. Philip Brooks of the Malibu/Lost Hills Station. She then veered into the bus, and was dragged beneath it and crushed, he said.

The driver was not arrested, Brooks said, but the investigation was continuing.

The bus, in service on the 534 line, was eastbound on PCH when the crash occurred, MTA spokesman Luis Inzunza said.

Inzunza said the driver was given a drug and alcohol test, which is standard procedure, but the results will likely not be released to the public by the agency.

"That will be between the personnel and the sheriff's investigators," Inzunza said.

Anyone with information about the crash was asked to call the sheriff's Malibu/Lost Hills station at (818) 878-1808.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Susan Tellem October 15, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Mikke - there are no bike lanes on PCH - just fog lines which bicyclists ride in to keep out of traffic but they are not bike lanes. There will be bike routes from Trancas north at some point, and while we voted to make this a bike safe city, riding on PCH without designated bike lanes (there is really no room for them) will always be hazardous, in my opinion.
pablo maida October 15, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I wonder if the 3ft law that wasn't could have given her some small peace of mind to feel ok a little farther away from the parked cars? I know when I'm on there I try to stay close to the parked cars also when the traffic is barreling down on me at 60mph+ and rarely gives any room for cyclists. Given there's no bike lane bikes are stuck either on the right edge of the roadway or in the shoulder. Neither is ideal. My thoughts and prayers to her and her family.
Nate October 15, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Cars and buses often drive aggressively. Impatient and distracted as well. All it take is one driver not seeing a cyclist but as an object in the way and so many times does it lead to a direct action or chain reaction that leads to the cyclist either getting hurt or in this case killed. These things need to be addressed for not just this area but on a State and National level
Mikke Pierson October 15, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Hi Susan, I am well aware of this. I just hope we can get the "painted bike routes" through all of Malibu eventually. I am under no illusion that this will make everything perfect, but it is the only answer I see that has a chance of actually happening (there might be room in most areas and we might be able to come up with the money). Ultimately I believe it will always be very dangerous to bike on PCH. Scares the heck out of me. My heart goes out to the friends and family of the woman. Tragic and sadly predictable.
Aaron October 15, 2012 at 10:18 PM
North of Trancas is probably the safest (and that's relative to your idea of safe) area on PCH. Santa Monica to Pepperdine is an absolute nightmare. Unfortunately it will take someone in "power" to have a close call on PCH in order to fix the problem (hence how the 3ft law came to be). How we can pay for the space shuttle to fly all over SoCal and transported through the streets of LA, but not fix a continuously growing problem that could save lives, is beyond comprehension. Your not going stop cyclist from riding up & down PCH, just like your not going to stop motorist from speeding on it. So find the solution, without going through all the "red tape" ...people's lives are worth more than that.
Noel October 15, 2012 at 10:54 PM
There's always a bias in this conversation that implies bicycles are an unwelcome guest. PCH is a designated bike route. Bikes and cars both share dominion over the road. The bias itself is problematic because it suggests one is a superior presence when both should feel at home.
R Y A N October 15, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I note that some packs of bicyclists ride aggressively, too -- running red lights at T-intersections and merging into the #2 lane without looking first and/or when unsafe. Crashes involving injuries are always tragic events and hopefully lessons will be learned to help educate bicyclists of the inherent danger of riding on 45-55 MPH highways. My sympathies to the families and all people involved, including a bus driver who will never forget this terrible event.
Jean Kasem October 15, 2012 at 11:28 PM
The speed limit is a joke in Malibu...come roaring down like its the Long Beach Grand Prix. If this fatality had been cancer Malibu would be called a cancer cluster. It's become immune to the joggers, bikers, and pedestrians mowed down. It has become mundane "town talk"... "have you heard about the one that got hit on PCH yesterday?" When is the powers that be in Malibu going to stand up and do something about life and limb so these victims did not have to die in vain? Jean Kasem
Jessica E. Davis October 16, 2012 at 02:37 AM
I found this article about the misconceptions many motorists have about bicyclists on PCH extremely helpful. I encourage those with questions about bicyclists' rights and responsibilities on the road to read it: http://patch.com/A-htd9.
Marshall Thompson October 16, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Everyone bitching about what the city of Malibu is NOT doing clearly does not understand the legal reality: Malibu does NOT own PCH, the State of California does and that limits our ability to improve things. When we the City or groups like A Safer PCH complain about problems to Cal Trans they are sympathetic but usually tell us they have no money. Malibu is situated in a unique geographical situation where there is simply no more roadway upon which to expand on either side of the pavement. We are squeezed between the ocean and the mountains. So, if we 1. have no jurisdiction to do something as a City, and 2. the State has no money for improvements to the road, and 3. the geography tells us we simply have no place to put a bikeway, then the sensible choice is to NOT ride your bicycle on PCH between McClure Tunnel and Trancas. According to Mick Jagger "You can't always get what you want!"
Seamus Garrity October 16, 2012 at 07:42 AM
I agree with marshal. Bikes shouldn't be allowed on PCH. I saw this woman 1 minute after this happened and I cannot stop thinking about her. There's no room for bikes. Unless the state is willing to build like an elevated track or something they should be banned.
Seamus Garrity October 16, 2012 at 08:03 AM
That's a great article, Jessica. Bicyclists should have to be in groups of 5-10 riders, all with flashing lights and have to wear bright colors. Something has to change.
Marshall Thompson October 16, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Just to be clear, I am not advocating banning bikes on PCH which is a legal impossibility. There are things and activities I'd like to do but are too dangerous for a man of my age and physical condition. I stopped riding motorcycles after40+ years due to the insane distracted drivers populating the roads today. I am OK with living within the law, physics and bald-faced reality. Check it out: cycling is an entirely recreational and voluntary activity. They share the road with drivers transporting goods, families shopping for necessities, people driving to and from work, bus drivers on a route, FedEx and other local delivery trucks, construction vehicles, government vehicles, millions of tourists unfamiliar with the character of the flow of traffic. If cyclists insist on exercising their legal right to bike on a proven dangerous highway, then the risk is on THEM.
Ann Tomkins October 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Marshall, I disagree that the risk is on them. Yes, they may pay with their life, but if you are the motorist that hits them, you will also pay dearly. I don't think that the Share the Road campaign has been very effective, given the number of people posting who seem to think cyclists don't have the right to ride on PCH. I would like to see police start ticketing drivers for not leaving sufficient distance between their cars and cyclists. PCH certainly has challenges for cyclists, but I've lived in other cities that have similar challenges and take cyclists safety more seriously than Malibu. Seattle has much narrower lanes, slippery roads, and a lot of cyclists and yet the data I've seen recently shows that it is much safer for cyclists. They seem to have a far better public education campaign. It is sad that with our better weather, we are not making it easier for people to get out and enjoy it. Perhaps that is one of the reasons so many people are moving to Seattle.
Marshall Thompson October 17, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I'm certainly not going to stand on the way of anyone moving to Seattle from So. Cal. Please do and take a bunch of friends. Share the rain!
Chris Watson October 17, 2012 at 03:45 AM
I pray her family is located soon. May she rest in peace.
Gregwa October 17, 2012 at 05:06 AM
As an avid cyclist with several thousand miles experience in Malibu, I have found it impractical to share the road with cars at all now. I've experienced the usual from drivers swerving at me for sport, being grabbed, spat on, bottles thrown etc.. We all have our stories. In the eighties I decide that early Sunday morning was the only "safe" time to ride PCH. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, a young woman training for a triathalon was killed early on a Sunday morning by two drunken men who stopped only to remove her bicycle from underneath their car near County Line. Her team riders apprehended them but it was too late for her. Just a couple of years ago we had the "soup kitchen" catering tuck that killed two riders on PCH North of Pepperdine. Yes, cyclists have a right to share the road, but is it sensible to "stand your ground" with oversized vehicles driven by distracted drivers? And please, don't get me started on riders in Malibu Cyn. Cars can't keep from hitting each other, let alone share a narrow road with cyclists who like to chat and ride two abreast at 22 mph. It's time to seriously think about where it's safe and practical to ride.
Cesar October 17, 2012 at 05:21 AM
how about just leaving one lane open for the cars then and the other lane can be left for Cyclists =D F, Mick Jagger and F u too M.T.
Cesar October 17, 2012 at 05:35 AM
10 years ago, the City of Malibu turned down participation in a regional bicycle safety planning grant for PCH. "Malibu doesn't do bikes," was the explanation that the moron city manager gave the newspaper. Malibu now is spending $1.1 million for bike lanes at the wrong end of town, out west. Eastern Malibu speaks loud and clear: they want to keep residential parking on both sides of the road, plus the left turn lane into their garages, for their use. THIS IS FACT! The city has an affirmative obligation -- a duty -- "under state law" to provide for bikes to use PCH along the Pacific safely!!!!! That can only mean isolating bikes from cars and trucks. This has not been done in 22 years of citihood.!!!!!!!! FACT, There is more than $1 million in the MTA construction schedule to build a bike lane in Malibu. There are additional Caltrans and MTA grants for local bike projects. If Measure J passes, 20 percent of the transportation sales tax can be diverted to bikeway projects.
Concerend Resident October 17, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Please note that the center lane serves at least two more purposes than just "the left turn lane into their garages, for their use" The lane creates a divided space between two lanes with cars traveling 45mph+ directly at eachother as well as provides a lane for emergency vehicles when thousands of cars are in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why do cyclists insist on riding in places where EVERYONE knows it is unsafe to do so just because it is their "right"? To me riding bikes on PCH is equivalent to smoking. Just because it is legal doesn't make it a good idea or safe and people die as a result.
Concerend Resident October 17, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Please note the center lane is more than "the left turn lane into their [Eastern Malibu residences] garages, for their use." This lane provides a necessary space between two lanes of traffic where vehicles travel 45mph+ directly toward eachother. In addition, it provides a necessary lane for emergency vehicles to travel when thousands of cars are backed up bumper to bumber in traffic. Why do bicyclists insist on riding in places when THEY KNOW it is unsafe just because it is leagl and their "right"? I see riding bicycles on PCH as equivalent to smoking cigarettes. It is a personal choice and just because it is "legal" doesn't make it a good idea or safe.
Concerned Mom October 17, 2012 at 07:15 PM
If transportation funds are going toward bicycle projects, then it sure seems to follow that bicyclists should be required to pay into those funds...when we will require mandatory bike registration and insurance, as we do for automobiles and other motor vehicles? Bicyclists are sometimes the cause of accidents, and often the victims of accidents...they should be required to carry valid insurance to use the roadway, just as drivers of cars are required.
Noel October 17, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It's just not that hard to accept cyclists on the road as part of the reality of driving and to drive thoughtfully, to adapt to the situation around you in the car, to slow down, or move over. It feels like once in a car, everyone feels they have to drive as if there is nothing else but the road but the speed limit. I think what's at issue is the entitlement of drivers and the expectations of what flow of traffic is. The reality is we live a culture where people have to learn to deal with the other and where roads service more than just automobiles. its simply not that hard to drive within the realities of one's surround rather than from some expectation of everything as an obstacle to your foot on the gas. The operative word here is bias. There's a clear bias in expectation that anyothing other than a car is an inhibition to the driving. The reality is the roads service people rather than cars. Those people use different modes of transportation.... we drive, we walk, we ride. This is a neccesarry evolution of how we function together in population dense areas. I'm no less a person in the car than I am on the bike. The reality of the cyclist as problematic to the driver is being grossly overstated.
Noel October 17, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It's just not that hard to accept cyclists on the road as part of the reality of driving and to drive thoughtfully, to adapt to the situation around you in the car, to slow down, or move over. It feels like once in a car, everyone feels they have to drive as if there is nothing else but the road but the speed limit. I think what's at issue is the entitlement of drivers and the expectations of what flow of traffic is. The reality is we live a culture where people have to learn to deal with the other and where roads service more than just automobiles. its simply not that hard to drive within the realities of one's surround rather than from some expectation of everything as an obstacle to your foot on the gas. The operative word here is bias. There's a clear bias in expectation that anyothing other than a car is an inhibition to the driving. The reality is the roads service people rather than cars. Those people use different modes of transportation.... we drive, we walk, we ride. This is a neccesarry evolution of how we function together in population dense areas. I'm no less a person in the car than I am on the bike. The reality of the cyclist as problematic to the driver is being grossly overstated.
BJToepper October 18, 2012 at 06:08 AM
@Concerned Mom: You might check out how state and local roads are funded. Gas taxes and registration fees don't cover the entire cost, so the general fund (income, property, and sales taxes) is regularly tapped to make up the difference. Cyclists pay into the general fund like anyone else, and they use only a fraction of the road space. Some studies show that cyclists actually subsidize drivers.
Ann Tomkins October 18, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I found this article very interesting. Thanks Jessica. Does anyone know if the addition of sharrows has been considered for those parts of PCH where there is no shoulder and bikes are forced into the traffic lane? I've noticed a lot of other cities use them to improve driver and cyclists education as to how to share the road. Because they are just painted on the road, they wouldn't cost very much and may be a helpful addition until the road can be made safer.
Alexandra October 21, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I want to extend my sincere condolences for the women killed on PCH on her bicycle. Having lost my only child by a repeat offender drunk driver, who had no remorse, I know the sudden loss of a senseless accident on the road. I am sure that the Metro Bus driver is not doing well mentally with this also. I hope that help is being given to all to cope with this tragedy We seriously need bike lanes on PCH. We need to remember, if we are riding a bike, or driving a car, that it is a privilege, not a right to be out on the road. We all have to earn this privilege by learning how to, staying focused, accepting responsibility and obeying the law. If a car is doing 60 mph or 25 mile mph, a cyclist is going to be killed.The cyclist cannot sustain impact from the larger vehicle. It happens in residential areas. We cannot be arrogant in our car or bike, PCH is not a speedway. Most drivers and cyclists obey the rules, some do not.The rule for cyclists is to ride single file, we all have observed double file, even triple file on PCH, and cyclists talking while riding this way. PCH is not the place to do this, PCH is not a social outing ride.This is dangerous. Drivers are squeezed into their lanes when cyclists double lane, or more, and a few have become arrogant about it when a car honks and calls out to please single lane only. With car lanes, parking lanes, sidewalk, residential, it is hard to fathom where the bike lane can exist, but exist it must, please. Thank you. Alexandra
Concerned Mom October 22, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Gasoline taxes pay for a large portion of our roadway funds. Bicyclists don't pay those taxes. In addition, our family has been hit by a bicyclist who left the scene without offering to pay damages. Why aren't they required to carry mandatory insurance as drivers of motor vehicles are required to do? If bicyclists want to demand all of these "rights," then they need to start upholding some responsibilities, also.
Bob Perkins DDS October 22, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Alexandra- I can't imagine what you must have gone through. That would be breathtakingly difficult for a parent to process. I am so sorry for your loss. Highways, especially in Malibu, are places where hurtling pieces of machinery are brazenly close to pedestrian and cyclist, often when the driver of said machinery is either distracted, intoxicated, or careless. It is a very dangerous cocktail!!!! You make great, and easily overlooked, points about the bus driver's state of mind after only 8 short days. I hope that we can reach out in some way to the bus driver AND to Mari's family to give our support. It is an opportunity to make a "connection" and show empathy during an extremely difficult event to process. I think the human contact can be incredibly valuable in the healing process, though I am no expert. This could be a major turning point in that bus driver's life. How she processes this event is huge to her healing. The family, of course, bore the greatest insult but at least they can find comfort in one another. The bus driver is quite possibly wearing the scarlet letter with nowhere to turn. It's time to get creative.... I would not want the responsibility of driving a giant bus down the PCH with all that goes on....heck, there is no margin for error. You have to thread the needle all day long. She was just trying to do her job.
Ann Tomkins October 22, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I'm not really sure about the law being for cyclists to ride single file. Generally cyclists must ride as far to the right as practicable. However, if the lane isn't wide enough for the cyclist and car to occupy the same lane safely, then the cyclist should take the entire lane by riding more to the left. Two cyclists riding next to each other are no wider than a car. If the cyclists are "taking the lane" they are more visible riding in a group, and take less length of the road when riding side by side. I find them easier to pass when they are riding that way than when they are riding in single file. I personally don't think it is safe for drivers to attempt to share a lane with cyclists on most stretches of PCH. The draft created by the speed of the vehicle and the width of the lane requires the driver to cross over into the left lane to pass a cyclist who is in the right traffic lane. It appears far safer to change lanes before getting to the cyclist instead of straddling two lanes. Share the road doesn't mean split the lane. In my view, share the road on PCH means give the cyclist the whole lane, not part of it. Once I give them the whole lane, it doesn't really matter to me whether they ride side by side.

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