Kill a bike rider in Glendale, get a slap on the wrist

Twenty-one months after Gerardo Ramos was struck by a car in Glendale — and six months after he died of his injuries — the driver who blew through a stop sign and struck him is finally being charged.

With a misdemeanor.

According to Glendale Police Detective Ashraf Mankarios, prosecutors determined that Ramos was equally at fault because he was riding on the sidewalk, which Mankarios incorrectly states is a violation of state law.

“They agreed that it’s 50-50,” Mankarios said. “He violated the vehicle code, but in essence had she stopped, he would have gone right through and in front of her.”

As most cyclists could have told them, riding on the sidewalk may be against local Glendale ordinances, but it is not a violation of the vehicle code — and in fact, it’s perfectly legal in Los Angeles, just on the other side of the Glendale city limits.

Had the driver, Naira Margaryan, stopped as required by law, the worst consequence Ramos would have faced would have been a ticket for a local violation, and he might still be riding today.

And could still be sending money back home to Mexico to support his wife and children.

Now a driver who broke the law and killed another human being faces a relative slap on the wrist, charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and a possible penalty of up to one year in county jail or — more likely — a fine.

Their crimes were not equal.

Ramos broke a minor local ordinance, most likely because he — incorrectly — felt safer riding on the sidewalk, and posed a danger to no one other than himself. Meanwhile, the driver failed to operate a dangerous machine in a safe and legal manner, posing a risk to everyone around her.

Yet the Glendale authorities believe one violation cancels out the other.

But that’s okay.

He was only a cyclist, right?

………

Damien Newton looks at tomorrow’s first meeting of the League of Bicycling Voters Los Angeles, taking place at 10:30 am Saturday at the UCLA Law School on the Westwood campus.

If you’re happy with the state of bicycling in the Los Angeles area, feel free to sleep in tomorrow.

If not, you really need to be there.

And maybe we can get elected officials to take dead cyclists seriously.

………

The LAPD issues a BOLO alert for a getaway-bike-riding robber; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. REI is working with Bike Oven to help find a new home for unwanted bikes. A San Diego cyclist explains how to set up a bike valet. Marin County gets a $25 million bike and pedestrian tunnel next October. San Francisco takes up Bike to Work Day; ours is next week. A writer says ridership is declining, despite all appearances to the contrary. My hometown starts a new campaign to get more women on bikes. Zeke takes up proposed legislation with his state representative that would require NC cyclists to ride no more that two abreast and get the hell out of the way of passing vehicles. A 10-year old cyclist says the hit-and-run cabbie who knocked out her teeth belongs in jail. Shreveport looks forward to an appearance by our biking Long Beach expats. A look at the bikes of Lahaina. Biking through New York with a transportation ethicist. London’s mayor announces plans to spend the equivalent of $172 million on bicycling projects over the next year, with an emphasis on improving safety and reducing crime. The first two London Cycle Superhighways open July 19th; a rider takes one for a very fast test spin. A British graph clearly shows the relationship between bicycling and childhood obesity; I only wish they’d included the U.S. What a bike rush hour looks like; thanks to Todd Mumford for the link.

Finally, Vincenzo Nibali kept the pink leader’s jersey on the Giro d’Italia for a second day; in a nice gesture, his gave his jersey to the son of the legendary cyclist Fausto Coppi to place on his nearby tomb 50 years after the great racer’s death.

15 comments

  1. DJwheels says:

    Ted, I don’t think the cyclist was in violation of the Glendale ordinance.

    Glendale Municipal Code:
    10.64.025 Bicycle riding on sidewalks.

    No person shall ride or operate a bicycle upon any public sidewalk in any business district within the city except where such sidewalk is officially designated as part of an established bicycle route. Pedestrians shall have the right-of-way on sidewalks. The prohibition in this section shall not apply to peace officers on bicycle patrol. (Ord. 5116 § 1, 1996)

    According to the code, it’s only illegal to ride the sidewalk in a business district.

    Concord and Milford looks pretty residential to me:

    Map

    • bikinginla says:

      Wow. That’s all I can say right now, just wow.

    • stacey2545 says:

      Which makes me hope there was additional evidence that led them to believe the cyclist was partially at fault. I would definitely be questioning the prosecutors about it though. I think it’s more likely that their office is just overworked and they have to prioritize their time and money and focus on stronger cases, but that sucks. Until the community speaks up and says that these kinds of cases are a priority, I wouldn’t expect it to be treated as such.

  2. DJwheels says:

    This is the quintessential cross-walk collision dilemma.

    Traffic officers always find fault with the cyclist in the crosswalk by relying on CVC 21633 (no motor vehicles on the sidewalk) or a combination of CVC 21650.1 (must operate in same direction as vehicles are required) and CVC 21200 (bikes have same responsibilities as vehicles).

    Relying on 21633 is just incorrect because it explicitly prohibits MOTOR vehicles from the sidewalk. However, relying on 21650.1 is a little more nuanced because they’re saying that as soon as a bicycle enters a cross walk they are against the required direction, meaning the direction of the oncoming traffic that is perpendicular to the cyclist at that moment.

  3. bikinginla says:

    Note to all: racist comments get deleted. My blog, my rules.

    • stacey2545 says:

      Wish yahoo news had the same comments policy. They could single-handedly shrink the unemployment rate if they hired people to screen their site for offensive commentary. ^_^

  4. It’s really ridiculous. If he had been walking his bike across the street versus riding it he would be just as dead now. This driver is completely at fault. Just because he was riding his bike versus walking it (which is not a requirement, I know, just saying) he is basically being discriminated against as a victim. There is NO WAY this can be 50/50 responsibility. This is criminally negligent homicide. I persuaded to go to law school and spend the rest of my entire life trying to get laws passed that require these crimes to be prosecuted as felony criminal negligence.

  5. David says:

    While I am not familier with the facts of this incident I may be able to provide some clarification. It does not matter what the officer’s preliminary determination of fault is. The City Attorney or the District Attorney would make their own determination of criminal liability. With regard to it being a misdemeanor…If there is no intent, no aggravating factor (i.e. DUI or drugs) and no “gross negligence” than the law is pretty clear on the punishment. Gross negligence is more than the commission of a common traffic violation, even if that violation results in death. I am not defending the law…only explaining how it was applied.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks David, the explanation is appreciated.

    • I’m not so much arguing what the law is now as saying that anytime someone gets behind the wheel and acts negligently and causes the death of another person that this negligence should be viewed as criminal. When you get behind the wheel you have a responsibility to be as aware and safe as humanly possible. Neglecting your duties and responsibilities when behind the wheel is no different than neglecting those duties when owning and/or operating a gun. They are both deadly weapons. Deaths that occur from negligence on the road should be prosecuted as such and the law, in my opinion, should reflect that.

      • bikinginla says:

        I have to agree; if the law doesn’t allow that now, we need to change the law. For far too long, we’ve accepted the deaths of 40,000 people on our roads as the price of mobility. It’s time to get that number down to zero. And that’s not going to happen until drivers face the consequences for their actions.

        • And it’s honestly not like we’re asking that much. Millions of people drive safely every day. It’s not too much to ask that you have a legal responsibility to follow the law. Wait, isn’t that why they are called LAWS?

          If you drive 40 miles an hour down a residential street and don’t have time to stop when a child runs into the street after a ball, isn’t the ensuing collision due to your negligence? If you were driving safely through a residential neighborhood, wouldn’t you be going slower and looking for children, dogs, people, etc?

          When I ride my bike down 4th Street, I slow down because of the kamikaze squirrels. And those are just squirrels!

    • Apologies, I somehow read David’s comment on my screen as a direct response to my comment, but see now that it’s not actually. Anyhow, I don’t mind further clarifying my stance on vehicular homicide. And thank you, David, for clarification of current law.

  6. DavidinLA says:

    I totally agree that there should be criminal consequences…which in this case happens to be a misdemeanor. The issue is not really if there is criminal liability…there is!!! The question is how much criminal liability should there be. I don’t think you will get a legislative body to treat every instance where a person dies as a felony. As bikinginla stated we accept 40,000 deaths each year as a cost of doing business. This is a car culture where the majority of people drive. If the majority of the electorate drives they will not vote for politicians that will enact legislation that will turn them into felons if an accident happens. The sad truth is that 40,000 a year is an acceptable loss in our society.

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