A Slice of Newport Beach

Continuing our presentation of bike rider safety, we present the latest statistics for Newport Beach. We combined the previous charts from other cities, but here we separate injuries from deaths in two charts.

The 1st quarter of 2011 data is almost complete, and the rest of the year continues to be updated.
2012 data is slowly being processed from other counties, but the latest we have for Newport is from August 2011. The NPB PD has not been responsive to our repeated requests for current information, so we’ll show what we have now, and maybe in a year or two the charts will reflect what they input to the system yesterday.

Abbreviations used:

FTS = Failed to Stop, FTY = Failed to Yield, FTR = Far to the Right

And now for the pie charts!

NPB Dead Cyclist CollisionsThe chart represents the 11 fatalities that occurred in this city up to August of 2011. The color indicates who was at fault for the collision as determined by the appropriate authorities.  Newport Beach enjoys the dubious distinction of earning a “Bronze” in the deadliest city category of county competition with Anaheim and Santa Ana earning “Silver” and “Gold” respectively.

Cyclists ignored traffic signals and signs to their demise by failing to stop or exceeding the speed limit and loosing control.

40% of drivers’ fault for killing someone on a bicycle was do to being under the influence, and that’s for those who were caught.

In September, the Daily Pilot ran a story about Newport and bike accidents. While we note that the reporters were able to get current  data from the NPB PD, what the reporters left out of the story is shown below: OTS-NPB

From the California Office of Traffic Safety, the above chart is for their “latest” data from 2010.

Despite the abysmal safety record for anything not on four wheels, Newport Beach earned the “gold medal” by placing 1st from 103 cities of similar size for alcohol involvement in collisions in the city. The good news for those that like to drive under the influence is that Newport Beach ranked next to last in enforcement as can be seen in their arrest percentage and ranking.

True, this data is from 2010 and things may have changed for the better, which is why we asked in the first place.

NPB Injured Cyclist CollisionsThis chart reflects the cyclist injuries within the city. Newport rides mid-pack at 5th in the top 10 cities injurious to your riding pleasure.

Clearly cyclists are at fault for the majority of collisions in Newport by riding on the wrong side of the road, not far enough to the right, failing to yield or stop, and failing to, CVC22109: “stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle on a highway without first giving an appropriate signal”.

Bicycles can be stopped faster than a motor vehicle, which makes us wonder; were the drivers following too close? Typically the presumption of fault is on the rear-most motorist  in a chain reaction collision. So 101 bike riders stopped as conditions warranted (stop signs, lights, being cut-off, etc.), yet were found “at fault” for failing to give an appropriate slowing or stopping signal?

By now you probably want to know where all the action took place.

Here is an overview of where the cyclist fatalities occurred:

NPB Death Map

The red dots are in the CHP system, while the orange are not.

Here’s the map showing where the injuries took place:

NPB Injuries

The size of the dots have nothing to do with the counts of injury at a particular location. Of interest in this map is the dilemma faced by residents or tourists of the peninsula. Hard to get into, out of, and round about on two wheels it seems. Also interesting is the high count of collisions on Irvine /Campus close to Harbor High and UCI, while no surprise at the “gauntlet” that is Corona del Mar.

Curious about the state of PCH since Newport Beach garnered responsibility for the stretch from Jamboree to Newport Coast, we tried to get data going back to 1996 to provide a balanced perspective on how the Corona del Mar Business Improvement plan is working out for people on bikes traveling through the “improved” area. Unable to get the data in a timely fashion we present:

Cyclist Collision Injuries

This chart shows the number of bike riders injured in collisions in Newport Beach from 2001-2008. This time- frame is chosen to reflect 4 years on either side of the control or “improvement” of PCH.  While things may have improved for the businesses of Corona del Mar, it appears people on two wheels paid the price.

Since we cannot go back we must go forward. The next chart shows a dramatic drop from ’09-10, which the tourism board probably found encouraging. Another drop in ’11 gives the impression that all is well until the realization hits that there’s still another 2 quarters to feed into the chart! Even so, doubling the currently recorded 26 injuries to 52 would put the city on track to have the lowest injury rate since 2003!

Cyclist Collisions in NPB 01-12

Is there data manipulation going on behind the scenes? There’s no way to know, and people seemed conditioned to accept a 2 year time delay in actionable, potentially lifesaving information.

Consider: a policeman fills out a collision report on his handheld wireless gps gizmo, and beams the collision record back to the department complete with pictures. The collision summaries are batched to the state. Minutes later, a collision request occurs at the local station. The request is honored within seconds, yet to receive a response from the state will take 2 years? If someone can explain how this makes sense, saves lives, time, and money we’d love to hear it.

Thanks for your support!

Michael Jason Lopez Charged

9/20/12: From the Daily Pilot we learn that the suspect was in court, and his arraignment has been continued to Oct 5th.

Michael Jason Lopez, 39, of Anaheim, faces one felony count of hit-and-run causing the death of Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion-Ritz, and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, according to the D.A.’s office.

Lopez also faces a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction in 1993 for a residential burglary, prosecutors said.

If convicted of all charges, the suspect faces a maximum of 8 years in state prison.

Bail is expected to be set at $100,000, far too low in our opinion, but we trust our county team to know what they’re doing. Although we note that compared to the arresting charges, the prosecuting charges appear to be watered down from Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence, to Vehicular Manslaughter without Gross Negligence. Why the change?

One again, our sincere thanks to the tireless and dedicated hard work conducted by the Newport Beach Police Department, and others, to bring this matter to the District Attorney who we’re sure will prevail.

For a picture of the suspect please see the Daily Pilot.

The case  is # 12CF2769, and is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit.

Buena Park Cyclist Killed in Auto Collision 9-16-12

9/19/12: Updated with some details but direction of travel wasn’t one of them

And then there were Three in the OC

In one of the deadliest weekends for cyclists in the Southland, we regret to have to add another name to the list of lives lost. For now we will leave it as “Unknown Rider” lost in a traffic collision with an automobile Sunday night (9/16/12) at 7:45pm.

The collision occurred on Artesia Blvd., east of Stanton Avenue, in Buena Park.

The male cyclist’s name is being withheld pending notification of his family.

Update: Thanks to Buena Park Police Corporal Andy Luong for providing the following information:

The rider, a male, 51, and resident of Buena Park had a collision with an automobile in the roadway and was not:

  • Wearing a helmet
  • Wearing any reflective safety gear (vest, ankle wraps)
  • Had no lighting on his bicycle

Having ridden through that area,  anything is possible and since the case is still under investigation we will not speculate as to the cause but present a map of the collision site for your consideration:

Cyclist Collision 9-16-12

Arrest Made by NPB PD

Updated:09:42 – Suspect Michael Jason Lopez, male Hispanic, 39 year old resident of Anaheim was arrested for 192 (c)(1) PC- Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence around 02:00 this morning in Anaheim.

He was booked at the Newport Beach Police Jail and is being held on $100,000 bail. Investigators are pursuing investigative leads and, in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, the Department will not release any further information at this time.

Newport Beach Police Department personnel, with assistance from other Orange County law enforcement agencies, worked tirelessly since the incident occurred to bring the suspect into custody. They will continue these efforts throughout the investigation to insure justice will be served.


Newport Beach police arrested a suspect early Tuesday in connection with the crash that killed cyclist Catherine Campion-Ritz riding on Newport Coast Drive.

Deputy Chief David McGill said police also had custody of a Toyota Tundra suspected in the crash.  h/t – Corona Del Mar Today

Our thanks to the diligence and hard work to find and arrest this suspect and recover the vehicle.