Archive for April 30, 2010

Cyclists shot in Koreatown bike theft; LAPD didn’t think you needed to know

Evidently, “protect and serve” doesn’t necessarily mean inform.

As in giving us the information we need to protect ourselves — like the fact that there’s a potentially homicidal thief targeting cyclists.

Just when you think the LAPD’s relationship with the cycling community has finally turned the corner, comes word that two cyclists have been shot by a bike thief in Koreatown.

Almost a month ago.

At a time when many cyclists have had enough and have begun fighting back against bike thieves, the Los Angeles Police Department has known for nearly four weeks that at least one thief was willing to kill in order to get away with his prize.

The incident occurred at about 3 am on April 4th when two cyclists stopped at a catering truck at the intersection of Pico Blvd and Westmoreland Avenue, and left their bikes unlocked and unguarded while they bought food. Two thieves walked up and grabbed the bikes while they were distracted; the police have surveillance video showing one of the thieves snatching the bike.

When the cyclists tried to stop them, one thief pulled out a handgun and shot the first victim twice, then fired at the second rider as they rode off on the victims’ bikes, hitting him in the shoulder.

The L.A. Times writes that the first rider suffered life-threatening injuries that kept him hospitalized until last week.

“They nearly killed him,” said LAPD Det. Dennis Bopp, who is investigating the shootings. “It was a crime of opportunity that turned to violence.”

According to the LAPD blog

Both suspects are described as Hispanic between 17 to 19 years of age.  The first suspect stood between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds.  He was last seen wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

The second suspect stood between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds.  He was last seen wearing a blue or black baseball cap, blue sweater with white long-sleeves with the letters ‘LA’ on the chest and blue jeans.

Video footage of one of the suspects was captured on tape and is available at www.lapdtv.org.

Anyone with information regarding this crime is urged to call Olympic gang detectives at  213-382-9430.

So let’s be careful out there. No matter how much you love it, a bike can be replaced.

Your life can’t.

And let’s hope that next time, the LAPD tells us when there’s something we need to know.

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In better news, police arrested three bike thieves at Sunset Blvd and Figueroa Street in Downtown L.A. when they attempted to steal two bikes while detectives were setting up a bicycle-theft sting operation. And in a final ironic touch, one of the bikes the thieves rode up on had been stolen from an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy in 2004.

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In weekend ride news, Flying Pigeon rolls to the Eagle Rock Brewery on Saturday, while Will Campbell kicks of the first ride in his Bike Every (Satur)Day in May with the 10 Bridges Ride. Saturday, May 1st also marks the beginning of Bike Month in Glendale, L.A.’s increasingly bike friendly neighbor to the north; city officials visit Berkeley for inspiration. And Sunday is your chance to celebrate the one year anniversary of Bike Day LA.

Meanwhile, Green LA Girl offers to help with the fund-raising for this year’s Brita Climate Ride for one woman who’s already registered.

Here’s your opportunity to Ride Like the Dutch at the upcoming Long Beach Bicycle Festival in the self-described most bicycle friendly city in America, May 7 – 9; I’d be happy if Los Angeles just aspired to be the most bike friendly city in the county, though that would require asking Long Beach to move to Orange County first.

And the next Streetsblog LA fundraiser rides June 18th starting at Flying Pigeon in Highland Park and following the former Red Car route.

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L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa says L.A. needs to walk and bike more. LADOT celebrates the council’s unanimous vote in favor of the city’s first bike corral. Semi-bike-friendly Santa Monica has big plans for more bike parking. A cyclist rides the Long Beach Bikeway Route 60 at the same time his biking brother gets hit by a car in San Diego, while a San Diego triathlete says cyclists need to embrace their vulnerability and stop blocking the lane. A non-standard — but clearly better — Share the Road sign appears in Tucson. Bike-friendly Salt Lake City gets a promotion. The bike lane that spurred the infamous Tony Kornheiser rant hits the street. New York authorities seek the identity of a cyclist killed in a collision with a car; a reminder to always carry ID when you ride. Starkville MS cyclists ride to protest a mandatory helmet law. Cannondale comes up with a very cool limited edition graffiti-style bike to benefit the Bahati Foundation. Ottawa needs to close car lanes to encourage cycling; well, who doesn’t? Eight Brit cyclists are fined for riding their bikes on a bike path. English footballer Frank Lampard — that’s soccer on this side of the pond — backs his Range Rover over a 14-year old’s bike, then hands over twice the bike’s value, in cash.

Finally, Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbilt says a drivers license is 2 easy to get, 2 hard to lose. I couldn’t agree more.

Local bike cases slowly wind their way through the courts

Cyclist, attorney and court case correspondent Dj Wheels emailed today to catch us up on the current status of the all-too-many mostly bike-related cases winding their way through the local court system.

First up is the case of Patricia Izquieta, charged with the hit-and-run death of Don Murphy in Newport Beach last December.

Patricia A. Izquieta (Case #09HF2198) – Victim – Don Murphy

The Pretrial conference for April 16 was heard, but apparently the Preliminary Hearing which was scheduled for April 26 was cancelled and rescheduled. There is now a Pretrial conference scheduled for May 14 and the Preliminary Hearing for June 17.

She is charged with:

1) one felony count of hit and run with permanent and serious injury – CVC 20001(a)(b)(2)

2) a special allegation of inflicting great bodily harm, which is attached to the hit and run - Penal Code 12022.7(a)

3) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence - Penal Code 192(c)(2)

4) one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid driver’s license - CVC 12500(a)

Next up is Marco Antonio Valencia, the hit-and-run driver who was reportedly high on alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana when he killed Joseph Novotny and injured three others.

Marco Antonio Valencia (Case # PA065011) – Victim – Joe Novotny & 3 other injured cyclists

There were pretrial conferences heard on March 23 and April 8 at the San Fernando Courthouse. Another pretrial conference was scheduled for May 18.

1) one felony count of murder with malice aforethought (2nd degree) – PC 187(a)

2) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

3) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury - CVC 23153(a)

4) one felony count of driving with a BAC over .08 causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(b)

5) four felony counts of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

6) one felony count of driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI – 14601.2

Robert Sam Sanchez is charged with the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas and seriously injuring his son Chris in Malibu during the L.A. Wheelmen’s Grand Tour last year.

Robert Sam Sanchez (Case # SA071910) – Victim – Rod Armas & Chris Armas injured

The Preliminary Setting conferences scheduled for March 11 and April 19 were both heard at the Malibu Courthouse. Another Preliminary Setting conference was scheduled for Friday May 7 at 1:30pm. What’s interesting is that the docket says, “VICTIMS WILL BE PRESENT TO MAKE STATEMENTS.” I called the DA’s office in Malibu to find out what this meant. Deputy McIlvain explained to me that May 7 is a Preliminary Setting Conference, and a disposition (plea bargain and sentencing) may be possible on that day. However, she is not allowed to disclose the terms of the offer for the plea at this point. If it is accepted, the case may reach a resolution that day, otherwise they’ll move forward with the Preliminary Setting conference to schedule a date for a Preliminary Hearing. I’m going to make my best effort to be there next Friday.

Charges are still the same as previously reported:

1) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

Celine Mahdavi is charged with the West Hollywood hit-and-run (notice a common theme here?) that seriously injured professional cyclist Louis “Birdman” Deliz.

Celine Mahdavi (Case #SA073459) – Victim – Louis Deliz

Preliminary Setting conferences were heard on March 22 and April 23 at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. A date of June 11 was scheduled for the Preliminary Hearing.

Charges:

1) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

2) one infraction count of a minor driving with a BAC over .01 – CVC 23136(a)

William Keith Square was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a still-unnamed cyclist in Carson earlier this month; at last report, authorities had not been able to locate the victim’s last address or next of kin.

William Keith Square (Case #TA11183201) – Victim – not named

On April 17, Square killed a cyclist in Carson with his car and left the scene. Luckily a witness wrote down his license plate # and Sheriffs arrested him at his home in Long Beach. The Inmate locater page says the arraignment is scheduled for May 5 at Compton Municipal Court. It also says that Mr. Square was arrested on April 18, assigned to permanent housing on April 24 at 4am, and then released from custody at 7:47 am. This is strange because usually it will also state the bail amount, but it doesn’t in this case. Bail for something like this should be something like $100,000, of which a bail bonds company usually asks for 10% to post bond for you.

Charges: (I haven’t seen the docket yet, but I’m assuming the charges are going to be these.)

1)one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

Former state legislator Walter Karabian faces charges for assaulting an unnamed parking lot attendant with his car during a USC football game last fall.

Walter Karabian (Case #0EA00275) – unnamed parking lot attendant near USC campus

The Pretrial conferences for March 24 and April 23 were heard. At the last hearing, Karabian’s defense attorney, Joseph Gutierrez, was granted a motion for sanctions against Classic Parking for failure to provide subpoenaed documents. Classic Parking is to pay the defendant $500. Another Pretrial conference is scheduled for May 13 at the East L.A. courthouse.

Finally, no charges yet in the death of Bahati Foundation cyclist Jorge Alvarado, who came to this country to fulfill his lifelong dream of riding professionally, only to be killed when 18-year old Patrick Roraff allegedly lost control of his car while street racing.

Patrick Roraff (Case #?) – Victim – Jorge Alvarado

This 18 yr old man killed Jorge Alvarado of the Bahati pro cycling team on April 8 while street racing on Greenspot Road out in San Bernardino. According to the SB County Court online case info page, charges have still not been filed against Roraff.

Hopefully, the local authorities know that the cycling communities of two countries are watching this case closely; the comments in Spanish from the people who knew him are truly heartbreaking.

Special thanks to Dj Wheels for his amazing work in keeping us on top of these cases; if anyone needs a good young lawyer who knows bicycling, let me know.

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In better news, the jury in the case of the New York Critical Mass-bashing cop returned a verdict of guilty for filing a false criminal complaint, but acquitted him of misdemeanor assault.

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A former Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in Wisconsin offers a first-person account of an intentional attack by a truck driver; unclear is whether he was attacked for his politics or because he was on a bike.

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LACBC encourages you to say thanks to your yes-voting council member. USC’s Neon Tommy takes a look at Bikeside, which endorses Winograd for Congress. Stephen Box celebrates a successful campaign to get safe bike parking at the new police headquarters; on the other hand, UCLA’s bike lockers could use some work. Carless Valley Girl debates whether to ride bespectacled; always cover your eyes with something says the man who’s seen bees bounce off his lenses, among other things. You might want to stay off the road while the mayor’s girlfriend is on it.Cyclelicious talks to the producer of the upcoming Major Taylor biopic. A Long Beach intersection gets a road diet, creating more space for diners, walkers and bike racks. Ciclovia comes to San Diego starting tomorrow.

The mindset of the female bike commuter, who rides faster and looks better than the boys do. Biking in Chattanooga — no relation — directs your attention to an exceptional biking artist. The Maryland Senate passes five bike-friendly bills, including a three-foot passing law. The cross-country travelling, penta-biking Pedouins are approaching Portland. A Fort Myers FL ministry donates bikes to the homeless. A kosher Crown Heights bike loan shop turns to sales. NPR offers songs for the urban cyclist.

More doping rumors for pro cyclist Alejandro Valverde. After yet another London cyclist is killed, Mayor Boris calls for more stringent testing of drivers. What to do when you’re riding in Scotland and your wheel falls off. A new British motorists’ guide urges cyclists to claim the lane, while a leading bike group says cyclists could hold the key to the upcoming election. A bike racing Canadian novelist comes to the defense of Lycra with rants tips for cyclists. A day after Lexus announced their high-concept bike, Volkswagen unveils a folding electric prototype.

Finally, Bike Portland discovers, as many of us do sooner or later, that middle fingers do not lead to productive dialogue; I like the advice someone else gave him, “The peace sign only takes one more finger.”

I think I’ll have that tattooed on the back of my hand so I see it when I ride.

Ten percent set-aside, bike corrals pass; bloggers call for better — or new — LADOT leadership

According to Damien Newton at Streetsblog, the L.A. City Council passed the 10% set-aside for “people powered transportation” from the city’s share of Measure R funds by an 11 – 3 vote today.

But in a truly bizarre twist, LADOT — which has spent the last 14 years not building the previously approved projects in the 1996 bike plan — has no idea if they can actually spend the money, whether that turns out to be $3.2 million or the $5.35 million shown in our newly bike-friendly Mayor’s budget.

Which may be the first time — in my knowledge, at least — that a city department has gone out of it’s way to resist additional funding.

Speaking for the LADOT was Mike Uyeno, who was joined by Maria Souza-Rountree from the Chief Legislative Analyst Office.  Time and again, Council Members asked if the LADOT would be able to spend Measure R Local Return funds that were set-aside.  Time and again, Uyeno gave an answer somewhere between “no” and “I don’t know.”  For example:

Councilman Paul Koretz asked:

Is there any chance at all that we’ll be unable to spend the 10% on bike and pedestrian needs.

Uyeno answered

I’m not sure. It depends what staffing becomes available. Not sure what ped. projects are out there in the department. There’s just a lot of open ends in this anymore.

In all fairness, the recent budget cuts have reduced the department’s staffing. But for the first time in memory, LADOT has both the funding and the political backing to actually accomplish something in terms of biking projects. And the best they can come up with is “I don’t know?”

I’d suggest giving LADOT’s leadership 30 days to come back with a plan to spend every penny of that money, effectively, efficiently and productively. And if they can’t do that, then it’s time to hire someone who can, or maybe just do what others have suggested and eliminate the department entirely.

No excuses.

Speaking of which, Damien tells LADOT’s Rita Robinson to stop making excuses and just try something already; while LAist’s Josh Behrens asks if it’s time this city got a new transportation leader.

Anyone think NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is ready to come home and take on a real challenge?

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After a seemingly ridiculous amount of debate and delay, the City Council gave unanimous approval to the city’s first bike corral yesterday. This project had the full support of virtually everyone — with the possible exception of LADOT — including the Highland Park business owner who asked for one in front his Café de Leche.

Now the question is whether LADOT will support and implement the project, or if they will drag their feet until this turns into another sharrows project.

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In local bike news, an unidentified hero bicyclist finished a police chase for them, as he ran down a suspected drunk driver who had taken off running after colliding with another vehicle during a police pursuit. Kudos to the cyclist, but standard advice is to point out the bad guys and let the police do the actual apprehension. Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

And hats off to Jason Alexander — not for colliding with a 14-year old cyclist on his way to school — but for doing the right thing and staying with the rider until the paramedics arrived. The collision occurred at Wilshire and June Street near Hancock Park, and the rider was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries; no word yet on how it happened, but Alexander was not cited and police sources suggest he was not at fault.

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Our bike-friendly U.S. Secretary of Transportation — no matter how many times I write that, it still seems strange — says the one thing we know for sure about biking infrastructure is that people want it, and calls for a nationwide interstate biking network. As a result, he gets some love from cyclists, but the way some people react, you’d think he was suggesting that we move freight by bike instead of trucks.

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Congratulations to the LACBC’s Dorothy Le, as Grist recognizes her as one of 40 people who are redefining green. While the city dithers over bike share, a Hollywood man succeeds with an e-bike rental program. If Santa Monica truly wants to be a bike-friendly city, their departments need to communicate with each other — even during construction projects. Upcoming family bike and pedestrian events in Culver City. The Anonymous Cyclist says time’s running out to get your stickers. That two miles of new bike lanes striped in Long Beach over the weekend marked the completion of the city’s 33-mile bike loop. AAA says California drivers are still texting despite a state-wide ban.

New York bike advocates question the city’s bike count. Denver opens a bike-through coffee window, while a cyclist in neighboring Boulder is hit by a car while riding in a crosswalk marked by flashing lights. New Braunfels TX passes a new law requiring drivers to change lanes if they encounter a vulnerable road user, or pass with a minimum of three feet on two lane roads. Minnesota’s governor signs a law giving cyclists the right to ride though red lights that don’t change. In a bizarre case, a DC-area mom deliberately runs down her cyclist son.

A British driver is accused of murder after intentionally running down a cyclist who damaged his mirror. The three-foot movement spreads to the UK, and takes on a lovely shade of Pepto-Bismol pink. A writer asks if spandex bike shorts are too revealing; obviously, she didn’t grow up with Speedos. The Queen honors Brompton for her birthday. Be careful who you accuse of doping Down Under. Auckland maps out areas cyclists might want to avoid; thanks to the Trickster for the link. A writer in Toronto challenges the precepts of Vehicular Cycling; part two should be very interesting. Now Lexus is getting in on the high-concept bike design trend…yawn.

Finally, 84% of Brits surveyed by a motorists’ group say more money, not more laws, will make cyclists safer; 82% say registration and licensing is a bad idea, and only 1% support mandatory helmet laws.

An open letter to the L.A. City Council — what do you want your legacy to be?

It’s really not that hard a question.

Do you want to leave this city better than you found it when your time on the council is over? Or do you want to continue down the same failed path that has brought L.A. gridlocked streets and declining neighborhoods?

Either way, your vote on Wednesday for or against the 10% set-aside for biking and pedestrian projects in the local return portion of Measure R should be clear.

You can vote to continue the same car-oriented culture that threatens to destroy our city, while leavening it with just enough expensive transit projects to maybe, almost keep up with anticipated growth. Or you can take a seemingly small shift in direction that will set L.A. on a pathway to less congestion, better health and improved livability.

It’s your call.

You can question — as Councilmember Smith did last week — whether enough people walk and bike to justify the expenditure.

Or you can accept the results of the U.S. Department of Transportation study that says 27.3% of all Americans over the age of 16 rode a bike at least once in 2002 — before the recent boom in cycling. Or maybe the statistics cited by Bikes Belong that say 16% of American adults ride a bike in any given month.

That’s a lot more than 10%. And that’s just bikes.

Any guess how many able-bodied Americans walk during the course of their day?

It’s not like this city doesn’t have hundreds, if not thousands, of shovel-ready projects waiting for funding. Just ask the council’s representative from LADOT how many projects included in the 1996 bike plan still haven’t been built. All that’s lacking is a commitment to build them and the funding to do it.

And you can take care of both before this day is over.

In fact, biking and pedestrian projects are remarkably affordable. You could build every project recommended in the new bike plan for a fraction of what it will cost to extend the subway to Westwood. Or the $450 million currently being invested to gain a little short-term traffic relief on the 405 Freeway over the Sepulveda Pass.

Or have you forgotten how nice it used to be to drive on the 105 and 215 Freeways before increased demand overwhelmed the increase in capacity?

On the other hand, maybe you think driving is good for business.

I suspect the merchants on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or Old Town Pasadena would argue otherwise, with their highly profitable clientele drawn almost exclusively by the walkability of those areas. Even the businesses on busy Hollywood Boulevard benefit far more from the crowds who wander down the sidewalks as opposed to those who drive past on the crowded street.

Now imagine what it would be like if it didn’t take an unpleasant drive on frequently gridlocked streets just to get there.

In fact, cities across the country are shifting from drive-through mode to walkable, bikeable, complete streetscapes. Even New York City has discovered the benefits of closing Broadway to vehicular traffic, making it one of the most popular destinations in the city.

Speaking of New York, that city — one of the most crowded and built-out in the nation — recently tripled the number of bike lanes on its streets. So much for the argument that L.A. is too built-out for bike projects.

That also answers the question of whether people will actually use those bike and pedestrian facilities if they’re built. Because New York — which, unlike Los Angeles, actually counts the number of bicyclists who ride on its streets, so they don’t have to guess — saw a 28% increase in ridership last year alone.

Or consider the crowded, crooked streets of New Orleans, where a new bike lane on St. Claude Avenue resulted in a 44% increase in male bicyclists. And a 133% increase in women riders.

If you build it, they will come. And every rider on a bike represents one car that isn’t on the streets. Isn’t that something Los Angeles could clearly benefit from?

How you vote today is up to you.

But few decisions you will ever make in your political career will have a greater impact on the future livability of this city.

Or on the legacy you’ll leave behind.

I had planned to speak in support of the 10% Measure R set-aside for biking and pedestrian projects at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, but a bout with bronchitis will keep me confined to home — and off my bike — for the next few days. So I’ll let this do my talking for me. Come back later for links and other interesting items.

Can a driver be at fault if he doesn’t actually hit you?

Let’s say you’re driving your car.

I know, but just go with me here, even if you’re of the car-free persuasion.

You’re approaching an intersection and have the green light. Suddenly, a car blows through the red light on the cross street, forcing you to jam on the brakes and swerve to avoid it, only to collide with the car next to you.

So who’s at fault?

Is it your fault? The car you hit? Or the one who broke the law and caused you both to take evasive action?

I think most reasonable people would conclude that the red light-runner should be held responsible, even though he wasn’t directly involved in the collision. And based on previous cases I’ve been aware of, I think most police officers would agree.

Now consider a similar situation, in which a driver darts out of a driveway directly in front of you, causing you to collide with another car as you react to avoid it. But fortunately, someone was able to chase the driver down and urge him to return to the scene of the accident he caused.

Again, most people would conclude that the driver who broke the law by cutting you off would be responsible for causing the collision. But is it hit-and-run if he didn’t actually hit anyone?

Now let’s use your imagination one more time.

Let’s say you’re on your bike, riding in the bike lane, when that car darts out in front of you. So you try to make a panic stop, and end up flipping over your handlebars and crashing to the street with a broken collarbone, while the driver who caused it calmly drives off.

Fortunately, a witness sees it happen and chases the driver down. But the driver refuses to return to the scene, insisting that it’s not hit-and-run because she didn’t hit anyone.

That’s exactly what happened on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake yesterday.

As Stephen Box tells the story, the witness flagged down a passing police car, and the driver ultimately returned to the scene. But the police inexplicably concluded that not only did the driver not flee the scene, but that no violation occurred. No report, no crime.

This, despite a clear violation of CVC 21804, as Box points out —

21804. (a) The driver of any vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from any public or private property, or from an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all traffic, as defined in Section 620, approaching on the highway close enough to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that traffic until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.

And yes, a bicycle is traffic.

As he explains —

1) The motorist violated the cyclist’s right of way.
2) The violation of the cyclist’s right of way caused the cyclist to take evasive action resulting in injury.
3) The motorist left the scene of an “incident” that was her responsibility.

Of course, any cyclist could tell you that the driver was responsible. But two police officers, the division Watch Commander and a traffic division Watch Commander concluded otherwise.

Which is why police officers need better training, not only in bike rights and law, but in bicycle accident investigation. Because a driver making a panic stop without hitting anyone isn’t likely to result in any injuries. But a cyclist responding to a careless, law-breaking driver can.

And did.

It’s also one more reason why we need to change the law in California to ensure that any cyclist riding legally in a bike lane enjoys the same level of liability protection as a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Because the mere presence of a bike lane — or sharrows, for that matter — should be adequate notice to any driver to anticipate cyclists, just as a crosswalk suggests the presence of pedestrians.

And you should have a right to be safe when you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, exactly where you’re supposed to be.

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I’ve received an unconfirmed report that the cyclist involved in the hit-and-run on Oxnard Street April 16th has died. If anyone has more information, let me know.

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This time, a drunken hit-and-run driver kills a teenage pedestrian and seriously injures her friend.

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Josef Bray-Ali writes in the Los Angeles Business Journal that L.A. needs to change its parking policies to allow bike parking instead of cars.Will hears, and witnesses the aftermath, of a dooring (even though the cyclist didn’t want to involve the police, the driver could still face hit-and-run charges later if she fails to report it). Altadenablog covers the Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association’s pancake breakfast over the weekend. Courtesy of The Source, Grist’s look at what a car-free metro L.A. could look like; as The Source says, “The point is to show how much space is taken up by roadways and how little that leaves behind for those things known as pedestrians and cyclists.” A 57-year old cyclist dies of a heart attack in San Jose during the Mt. Hamilton Challenge. It seems pretty obvious that if you hit a cyclist, you didn’t observe the three-foot passing law. A Miami cyclist rear-ends a bus parked in the bike lane. A 70-year old Indiana driver turns directly into two cyclists, and swears she didn’t hit anyone. After people in a passing car throw a full drink at him, a South Bend cyclist thanks all those drivers who don’t, Experienced cyclists need to encourage less experienced riders. An Arizona woman says local drivers — and the police — just don’t understand cyclists. Tucson hands out free lights to ninja cyclists. A DC court rules it’s still drunk driving, even if you’re on a bike. The NY Times looks at the two-wheeled tribes of New York. Master framebuilder Dave Moulton writes about a 1940 Campy derailleur — which required reaching backwards and ratcheting the rear wheel. Vinokourov bounces back from a two-year doping ban with victory in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège; evidently, not everyone is pleased. Evidently, there are no fixie-riding hipsters in China. Brit bike thieves may just be joyriding, which could be why bike theft is up 8% while other crimes are down. London’s Guardian defends a new bike lane, noting that it’s standard width even if the resulting vehicle lane isn’t. An Ottawa rider gets goosed on the bike trail, literally. A Canadian widow wants to know why no ticket was written for the parked truck that killed her husband. A Vancouver cyclist turns outlaw by defying the mandatory helmet law.

Finally, after a cyclist is killed during his first bike race, his heart lives on in another rider, while a cyclist rides to promote blood donations three decades after receiving 110 pints to save his life. A reminder that, with a little forethought, some good can come from even the worst situations.

Cyclist killed in Orange County, weekend rides, pro doping and a lot of links

A woman in La Habra was killed by a bus while riding her bike across the crosswalk.

Annette Ferrin-Rodgers, 49, was killed at approximately 8:28 pm last night at the intersection of Beach Blvd and La Habra Blvd in La Habra, when a bus turning left onto La Habra from Beach struck her. The driver reported seeing something in the crosswalk, but was unable to stop despite traveling at an estimated 15 to 20 mph.

A mail processing clerk at the Santa Ana USPS processing center, Ferrin-Rodgers was reportedly riding without lights an hour after sunset. Police also stated that riders are required to dismount and walk across a crosswalk. However, that’s only true where riding on the sidewalk in prohibited, since the crosswalk is considered an extension of the sidewalk, or where DOT-conforming signage requires it; according to comments, riding on the sidewalk is legal in that area.

The driver has been tested for drugs and alcohol, as per USDOT guidelines, and will be on administrative leave while the investigation proceeds.

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C.I.C.L.E.’s Urban Expeditions celebrates Earth Day with the Lorax Ride on Saturday, April 24, beginning at 10 am at Memorial Park in Pasadena.

Sunday the 25th marks the monthly Black kids on bikes – Freedom Ride in South L.A., a fun, medium-paced ride that rolls at 1 pm the last Sunday of each month. If you were at the Streetsblog fundraiser at Eco-Village earlier this month, you saw the premier of the great new StreetsFilm about the Freedom Ride by Ivy London; if not, look for it when it goes online next month.

On the other hand, Will Campbell’s Bike Every Satur(Day) In May rides don’t kick off for another week.

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Twenty-four-year old pro cyclist Leonardo Grullon was killed in the Domican Republic when he and four other riders were hit by a truck while training for the Pan American Championships.

Lance’s new Team RadioShack takes a hit as Chinese rider Li Fuyu tests positive for Clembuterol. BMC Racing Team’s Thomas Frei is suspended after testing positive for EPO, while BMC riders Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio are suspended as part of an ongoing drug probe. Meanwhile, CSF rider Mattia Gavazzi tested positive for cocaine and ex-pro Cristof Kerschbaum faces trial for dealing EPO and other performance enhancing drugs.

In non-doping pro news, the legendary Eddy Merckx is honored with a stamp by his native Belgium on his 65th birthday, while Lance is named the most influential athlete in the U.S.; oddly, Tiger Woods is no longer on the list.

Cyclelicious reports that a movie is in the works about Major Taylor, the nation’s first black athletic superstar and bike hero a century before Lance.

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A Midnight Ridazz art exhibition opens in Long Beach’s Exhibit [A] Gallery. Metro Chair Ara Najarian says there will be bike lockers and racks at the new Westlake/MacArthur Park development after all; maybe they planned it all along, maybe they’re just responding to Stephen Box unnamed bloggers. A new coalition called Living Streets wants to know what local streets should become Living Streets. Who tickets the Parking Enforcement officers when they’re the ones blocking the bike lane? L.A. Cycle Chic looks at the bikes of Coachella. A road diet, including diagonal parking — and yes, bike lanes — is being considered for Culver Blvd in Playa del Rey. Need a job? Green LA Transportation Working Group is looking for a Living Streets Project Coordinator.

Long Beach celebrates Earth Day with two miles of new bike lanes; L.A. celebrates Earth Day with, uh…. Claremont gets cool new bike racks, I like the multi-colored ones; Claremont Cyclist shares my philosophy of supporting your local bike shop. The new U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame opens Saturday in Davis. A Sonoma cyclist offers drivers a little courtesy and asks for the same in return.

Why do they always talk about unsafe cycling and not unsafe driving? Giant unveils what may be the world’s first female-specific fixie. A Tucson writer suggests banning all cars to make the city’s streets safe for cyclists. Boston Biker discovers the joys of going slow. A look at Emily Kreisa, Denver’s street-smart bike planner, while the Mile High City debuts the nation’s largest bike share program. The presidential motorcade through New York results in the confiscation of countless bikes for fear of bike bombs along the route. A Pennsylvania police officer hits a cyclist while responding to a call; the officer is not suspended. Indiana’s Little 500 bike race — made famous in the best bike movie ever — rolls this weekend; a Kappa Delta sophomore is the third member of her family to compete.

Finally, in case you wondered what the hell the New York Critical Mass cyclist-bashing cop was thinking, it turns out he thought he was the one being assaulted. No, seriously.

Your environmentally friendly, low-carbon footprint Earth Day links

Despite last night’s LACBC board meeting, about 10,000 emails that demanded my attention, and what feels like an oncoming cold, those bike links keep piling up. So make yourself a hot drink and settle down for a few minutes of clicking on a cold and semi-damp L.A. day.

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First up, for those who may have missed it, a driver can run down a cyclist and leave the scene with no charges until we raise a ruckus. But if a celebrity drives off after crashing into a no parking sign, she gets arrested.

Thanks to Todd Mumford for the heads-up.

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The LACBC, Midnight Ridazz and graphic designer Geoff McFetridge begin a competition to develop a new bike safety campaign in cooperation with the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD; deadline for entries is May 5th.

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The University of Arizona puts cyclists at risk in the name of bicycle safety during a construction project, while DC detours bikes and pedestrians. On the other hand, Portland takes away a traffic lane to help keep cyclists safe under similar circumstances.

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The LACBC reviews Tuesday’s council committee hearing on the 10% Measure R set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects; Damien takes Council Member Smith to task for vastly underestimating the funding cyclists deserve based on usage alone.  The Venice Neighborhood Council unanimously approves the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Will Campbell plans a group ride for every Saturday in May. Danceralamode credits a bike thief for changing her life. L.A.’s first bike corral could be on its way, while bike-friendly Long Beach approves more cycle-friendly projects. California District Attorneys help kill increased penalties for dangerous drivers. A separated bike path in rural Utah. Orlando police receive training on bike law. Husband of Arizona cycling victim: Anyone paying even a little attention would have known she was there. Cyclists and drivers need to keep a sharp eye on each other; joggers and pedestrians, too. Toronto may have bike sharing a year from now. Biking in Berlin is a dream, due in part to Allied bombing. Here’s your chance to ride a Formula 1 track if you can get to England by the end of the month. Bad patch jobs can be as much of a problem as the potholes they fix. Mexico City bets on bicycles.

Finally, it may have been a volcano that grounded the jets, but it was also one that lead to the invention of the bicycle; meanwhile, DuPont says your current derailleur may be your last.

LAPD seeks information on yet another hit-and-run last Friday

Somehow, this one went under the radar last week.

According to a post on the LAPD blog this morning, a cyclist is in serious condition after being struck by an object on a passing truck while riding on Oxnard St. just west of Los Angeles Valley College in the Valley Glen area.

On April 16, 2010, at around 12:17 p.m., a 43-year-old man was riding his bicycle in the cemented portion of the lane, closest to the curb, westbound Oxnard Street just west of Fulton Ave.  Witnesses described the hit and run only as a truck, driven by a male Caucasian.  The truck was traveling westbound on Oxnard Street attempting to pass the bicyclist.  Witnesses state that a metal object attached to the truck possibly struck the bicyclist.  The driver left the scene failing to render aid and exchange information as required by law.

The 43-year-old man was transported to a local hospital with severe injuries and he is listed in serious condition.  There is no further description on the truck.

Anyone with information is asked to call Valley Traffic Division, Detective Jackson at 818 644-8020 or 818 644-8028, during normal business hours.  During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 877-LAPD-24-7.  Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).  Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

Reading between the lines, the driver may or may not be aware he hit someone; however, he is still liable for the injuries caused by his failure to properly secure his load and pass safely.

Today’s post, in which I rant about a misguided carhead Council Member

City Hall as seen from the entrance to Chinatown.

I expect this sort of willful ignorance from the comment section of the Times.

I don’t expect it from the people who have been elected to lead this city.

Admittedly, I didn’t attend Monday’s joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Budget & Finance committees to discuss a 10% set-aside for bike and pedestrian projects — 5% each — from the local-return portion of Measure R funds.

And since the local news no longer covers local news — even three days later, no one has bothered to report who it was that got killed in Saturday night’s Carson hit-and-run — I’m relying strictly on Damien Newton’s as-always excellent reporting on Streetsblog.

But I went through the ceiling this afternoon when I read his report on yesterday’s meeting. And several hours later, my blood is still boiling.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my stand on any given issue. My philosophy has always been to make my case as clearly as possible, and trust others to make their decisions based on their own best judgment and analysis of the testimony presented.

So while I disagree — strongly — with Council Member and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks that setting aside a specific portion of Measure R funding might deny funding for more deserving projects, I can respect it.

Even though I think his suggestion to commit “up to 10%” of the funding to bike and pedestrian projects couldn’t be more wrong, since it would cap funding, rather than setting aside a single penny.

The one I really had a problem with was Council Member Greig Smith.

As Damien described it,

Following Parks, Valley Councilman Greig Smith put on a private clinic on how little he knows about transportation funding in the city.  After agreeing with Parks’ position, Smith pushed for someone to tell him what percent of residents are cyclists.  Of course, there’s no bike counts being done by the city.  Smith also didn’t seem to understand that a lot of people are cyclists even if they don’t use their bike every day or even every week.  After the city couldn’t answer his question with anything more than a guess, Smith declared that it was “a lot less than 10%.”  I guess the Councilman has done his own bike counts and is just keeping the numbers secret from the rest of us? Thus the city shouldn’t set aside “10% for this group.”

So let me get this straight.

Rather than doing a modicum of research to determine a rough estimate of the number of cyclists — a simple internet search would have lead him to the US Department of Transportation’s estimate that 27.3% of Americans over 16 ride bikes — he made up his own number, based on his own evidently extremely limited experience, to conclude that the number was “a lot less than 10%.”

Never mind that the DOT’s figures were based on 2002 numbers, so they don’t reflect the recent boom in the popularity of bikes — let alone L.A.’s mostly flat terrain and year-round riding weather — that should boost that total significantly. Or that even conservative estimates suggest that 15% to 17% of adults ride a bike in a given month.

Then there’s the fact that building bike infrastructure usually results in an increase in ridership, like the recently installed bike lane in New Orleans that boosted ridership among male cyclists 44% for men and 133% for women.

But Smith seems to think he knows something the statisticians don’t.

Then again, he did turn to city officials — presumably  LADOT — for an answer. However, most of us can attest that’s exactly the wrong place to turn for information, since, despite their recent attempts at better communication with the cycling community, LADOT clearly seems to believe that the T in their name refers to automotive throughput at the expense of any other form of transportation.

So here’s a suggestion.

As others have noted, it’s long past time that this city stopped relying on misguided guesswork and conducted an accurate count of cyclists and pedestrians in this city. And quite frankly, LADOT should be embarrassed that the LACBC has to do their damn job for them.

Meanwhile, if you’re not a member of the LACBC, it’s time you became one so your voice will be represented before the council and other government bodies.

And while you’re at it, sign up for the new League of Bicycling Voters LA so that our next class of council members might enter office with a little more knowledge of, and support for, bicycling than many of our current officials.

And Council Member Smith, the next time you need information about bikes, call me.

Seriously.

Have your aides email me, and I’ll give them my number. And I promise to drop everything to track down the data you need.

Because frankly, it will be a lot better for everyone if you don’t try to make these things up.

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C.I.C.L.E. sponsors a presentation on Creating Great Places to Ride on Wednesday the 21st at Caltech; food and drinks will be provided.

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In today’s jurisprudence report, a cyclist is sentenced for criminal threatening in Portsmouth, NH after wielding a large rock in an attempt to apprehend a road raging driver. Meanwhile, the Critical Mass cyclist-shoving cop goes on trial in NY; the victim admits to taunting the officer after being knocked to the ground — and confesses to being a bad driver.

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Will coins a new term we can all relate to. Mickey Wally reminds us that the 2nd Bike Day LA is scheduled for May 2nd. More on the police crackdown that nabbed three bike theft suspects with another at large; however, someone needs to teach them how to use a calendar. The President of the League of American Bicyclists visits Long Beach to see what a bike-friendly SoCal city looks like; note that he did not visit semi-bike-friendly Santa Monica. An 18-year old cyclist injured in a Costa Mesa collision last year says the traffic signal didn’t give her enough time to cross the intersection.

The hit-and-run epidemic claims yet another life, as a New York cyclist is taken off life support. Bike sharing kicks off in Denver on Thursday. Tucson celebrates a successful ciclovia. New Orleans’ Gentilly Blvd gets a road diet with enhanced bike lanes. Making Portland cycling less white and middle class; and while we’re on the subject, what’s with the negativity towards bike racers these days?  Walmart sells out of their $150 fixie — which isn’t that bad, but isn’t that great, either. Interesting insights on the challenges of representing a competitive cyclist in a personal injury case. An 83-year old Seattle-area woman is critically injured after stepping in front of two passing cyclists. NJ cyclists required to use transit off-peak will see a 64% rate increase; maybe transit should be planned with bikeability in mind. What does it mean when you see a trail of bike parts along the bike path? Missouri moves forward with Complete Streets and Safe Passing legislation. A Portland woman tries to collect 400 used bikes this weekend to send to South Africa.

Global warming means sea levels will rise, so why not floating bikes? London Cyclist lists the top 50 cycling blogs. A tougher, but Lance-free, route for this year’s Tour of Britain. The University of Edinburgh says Lance is the second-happiest tweeter; former Laker Shaq clocks in at number one. Just three weeks into a three year, round-the-world tour, a cyclist is knocked of the road by a British driver. Can you complain about drivers encroaching in the bike lane when the car lane isn’t even wide enough for a Smart Car? Five years for a “sickening” attack on a cyclist that left him permanently brain damaged. New Zealand cyclists complain about cow crap on the bike path; city officials say go home and wash it off.

Finally, Creek Freak and all-around bike, civic and environmental activist Joe Linton receives some well-deserved recognition from the County Board of Supervisors.

Can someone just get this bird laid, already?

I’m not a bird person.

I suppose I enjoy waking to birds singing and seeing some cute little fellow alight on the balcony about as much as anyone, I suppose.

But it’s not like I’m going to grab the binoculars and field guide if I spot a strange puff of feathers in the tree across the way. And as far as I’m concerned, those pigeons people feed are just rats with beaks and wings.

So it’s odd that some of my most vivid memories of riding involve birds.

Take the time I got dropped by a couple of roadrunners who darted past my wheel like sprint specialists fighting for a stage win. Or the time I watched a flock of San Diego parrots burst into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors as they took flight.

I’ve seen a hawk silently dive bomb into an unsuspecting rabbit, while riding through the grasslands of eastern Colorado. And once even felt the wingtip of an eagle brush my shoulder as it swooped down to snatch a snake curled just feet from my wheel.

And if that doesn’t get your heart pounding, you might as well just lie down and close your eyes. Because you may be dead already and just don’t know it yet.

Then there’s the ones that I heard more than saw.

Like the eerie call of a lonely owl across a mountain moraine or the staccato jackhammer of a woodpecker in a Louisiana swamp. The lovely lilting melody of a meadowlark rising from a fencerow along a high country highway.

Or that of a bobolink, whose distinctive call sounds much like its name, rising on the last syllable.

Not one of these, despite what it sounded like. Photo: Wikipedia

I could sometimes imitate it well enough to get a response as I rode; although I suspect, like a foreign tourist who attempts a few words in the local language, they weren’t so much fooled as simply appreciated the effort.

Still, it’s a sound I know almost as well as the sound of my own name.

So when I heard that distinctive call outside my window the other day, there was one thing I knew for certain.

It wasn’t a bobolink.

I hadn’t heard that call in the two-plus decades I’ve lived in Southern California. And to the best of my knowledge, the bird’s range doesn’t extend much west of Utah.

On the other hand, hearing it gave me a clue to just what had been singing loudly enough outside our window to keep my wife awake at night for the past few weeks — and annoy the hell out of her during the day.

So I followed my hunch with quick search online, and sure enough, found the following on Wikipedia:

Mockingbirds’ willingness to nest near houses, their loud and frequent songs, and their territorial defense often annoy people… Mockingbirds are often found in urban and suburban areas, where they perch on telephone poles, streetlights, or high points on buildings.

This photo will have to do, since he seems to be a little camera shy. Photo: Wikipedia

A simple look outside confirmed the presence of a little grey bird, very much like the one in the picture, atop the TV antenna on the building next door.

Game, set, match.

Verdict: mockingbird.

A little more research revealed that those loud calls that were driving my wife up the wall were an attempt to attract a mate, and that he should quiet down once he finds one.

So what we’re dealing with here is just another horny guy disturbing everyone around him in a vain attempt to get laid.

And what man among us couldn’t relate to that?

So if you happen to know a cute, single female mockingbird, let me know. I don’t mind a little bird pimping if it will shut him up and let my wife get some sleep.

Besides, this isn’t the first mockingbird we’ve had around here.

And I’d really like to calm this one down before he learns to imitate a car alarm.

………

Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles hosts a lecture on Surviving Multi-Day Cycling Events on Wednesday; their Spring Sale starts the next day.  A local lawyer offers advice on what to do if you’re doored; as often as it happens, you might want to bookmark it. Downtown sees a rise in bike thefts — and arrests. Less than 10 days after the tragic death of their teammate, the Bahati Foundation team competes in the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston. The path to better biking runs down the road, not through spin class. Set aside your “me first” culture, drive slower and watch for bicyclists. Colorado’s bike-riding Governor is back on the saddle six weeks after breaking six ribs, and a look at ghost bikes in the Centennial State. Salt Lake’s mayor has his bike stolen across the street from the Utah Bike Summit. A Florida cyclist is severely injured in a collision with a police car; police say the rider turned into the path of their vehicle, and who’s going to argue? A pair of DC-area PSAs say don’t cut of the bike and look before opening your door. The CBS Early Show discovers bikes. Why do salmon cyclists insist on riding against traffic? Advice on buying your first bike. A New Zealand cyclist is killed after colliding with a runaway labradoodle; reports suggest the dog will be fine. Auckland cyclists are tough; unfortunately, the roads are tougher. An economist explains why cyclists shouldn’t have to pay to ride. Six thousand miles in eight months come to a fatal end for a British woman in Australia. A British man goes out for a bike ride and comes home without his bike, backpack, cash or memory.

Finally, fallout from the fallout from the Icelandic volcano keeps top European pros at home; but for once, a bike offers a benefit in the non-biking world as stranded travelers have to buy one — and ride it — to get the last cyclist-only tickets home. And one of the world’s most popular bike blogger considers renting a bike to ride home to Copenhagen.

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