Driver crashes into pack of Los Angeles bicyclists

A driver plowed into a group of bicyclists on a midnight ride Thursday in a suspected drunken driving crash that injured 11 riders, at least one critically, police said.

A group of about 100 cyclists were on a ride about 8 miles south of downtown Los Angeles when they were struck by a Honda Civic shortly before 2 a.m.

Some bicyclists told KTTV a woman driving the car appeared to be using a cell phone before the crash. They said she slowed down then sped up and slammed into the group, sending some riders flying into the air and dragging at least one under her car.

Some witnesses said the car didn't stop as it mowed down a row of riders.

Television reports showed the car's smashed front end and shattered windshield.

Christine Elizabeth Dahab, 27, of Los Angeles was booked for investigation of driving under the influence and remained jailed on $15,000 bail, according to a Sheriff's Department website.

An email message to Dahab from The Associated Press was not immediately returned, and no message could be left at a phone number listed on her Facebook page.

The crash injured 11 riders, including at least one person who was hospitalized in critical condition and expected to survive, said Officer Jacquelyn Abad.

The car turned from a blind corner and hit riders who had stopped in a traffic lane to wait for others to catch up, said Sgt. David Krumer, the LAPD's bicycle liaison.

There were no skid marks so it was difficult to determine how fast the car was moving, Krumer said.

He could not confirm reports that a streetlight in the area was out.

"It appears that they were stopped in traffic" and some who had dismounted to chat with friends technically were pedestrians, Krumer said.

Bicyclists have a legal right to use the right traffic lane unless they impede traffic, and pedestrians are barred from traffic lanes, Krumer said. Violators potentially could be cited, he added.

However, drivers have a legal responsibility to exercise caution regardless of the circumstances, Krumer said.

"They're not at fault simply for being out there in the roadway," he said of the cyclists.

The riders were taking part in a weekly midnight ride starting in Koreatown that was advertised on the urban cycling website Midnight Ridazz. Night rides by loose confederations of riders have become increasingly popular in congested Los Angeles.

"There's no traffic so you can more easily get a group of 50 to 60 riders together and stay together as a group," Krumer said.

However, it is not necessarily safer than daytime rides.

"If you're driving at 2 in the morning, that's when all the DUI drivers are likely to be out," he said.

Some rides have reputations for being rowdy or quirky while others attract more straightforward riders, Krumer said.

Krumer said he hasn't seen an increase in reported accidents involving cyclists, but there can be tense relations with motorists on the crowded Los Angeles streets.

"Everybody wants their particular real estate on the roadway," he said. "Some drivers see bicyclists as taking away space and slowing them. Cyclists sometimes see drivers as maniacs going at unsafe speed."