Archive for May 20, 2010

A raft of bike-related court cases; L.A.’s revised bike plan MIA.

Dj Wheels catches us up on the current of court cases affecting the cycling community — some of which we’ve discussed before, along with a few new ones in the ever expanding list of drivers brought to justice.

Robert Sam Sanchez, charged in the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas in Malibu while allegedly intoxicated, had his Preliminary Setting continued to May 26 at 8:30 am in the Malibu Courthouse.

According to Wheels —

I didn’t see anyone that appeared to be there for the victim’s family, but there were plenty family members there in support of the Defendant. The deputy DA said again that there would either be a disposition on this day (ie. a plea deal entered) or there would be a date selected for a Preliminary Hearing (a mini trial before the judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to hear the case before a jury).

William Keith Square, arrested in the hit-and-run death of a still-unnamed cyclist in Carson on April 17th, was arraigned three days later and entered a not guilty plea on all counts. A Preliminary Setting was held on May 5th, and Preliminary Hearing scheduled for June 10 at 8:30 am. Notes Wheels, “Funny how when you don’t have private counsel, the process moves a lot faster.”

Angelina Gailine Everett, accused of the hit-and-run that left an injured Ed Magos lying in the street on January 6. Dj Wheels explains —

She initially stopped, but then left the scene without rendering aid or exchanging information with the injured cyclist. The city attorney was not going to file charges at first, but after pressure from the cycling community and a promise from the newly appointed Chief Beck to request that the C.A. take a second look at it, charges were finally filed on April 6. There was an initial arraignment date of May 6, but apparently Everett did not show up. According to my sources, the city attorney might have sent the citation and notice to appear for her arraignment to an old address.  The court’s system still doesn’t have a new arraignment date entered.

Everett is charged with:

1) one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a collision where there physical injuries to one of the involved parties – CVC 20001

2) one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a collision where there is property damage – CVC 20002(A)

Naira Margaryan, accused in the death of Gerado Ramos 13 months after he was struck while riding in a Glendale crosswalk.

On September 23, 2008, Margaryan ran over a cyclist at a crosswalk in a residential section of Glendale, after allegedly blowing through a stop sign. Detective Mankarios of the Glendale PD claims the victim cyclist was somehow also at fault in violation of the Cal Vehicle Code by riding his bike on the sidewalk. The case was filed on April 30. There was an initial arraignment date of May 13, and the defendant appeared with private counsel but did not enter her plea. Arraignment was continued to June 2 at 8:30am at the Glendale Courthouse in Dept. 1.

Margaryan is charged with:

1) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence - PC 192(c)(2)

In a non-bike related case, former state legislator Walter Karabian stands accused of assaulting an unnamed parking attendant during a USC football game last fall. Wheels reports that a pretrial conference was heard on May 13, with another hearing scheduled for June 10 for compliance with discovery requests, as well as a Trial Setting Conference. A jury trial has been tentatively scheduled for July 19.

Yelena Krupen is accused of damaging the property of an unnamed victim in a hit-and-run collision while driving with a suspended license.

On December 3, 2009, Krupen struck a cyclist from behind with her Mercedes on Santa Monica Blvd at Bedford Ave. in Beverly Hills, causing damage to the bicycle. However, Krupen immediately left the scene after backing up off the rear wheel of the bike. Another motorist who witnessed the incident followed the Mercedes for a short distance, wrote down the license plate and returned to the scene with the info, which was later provided to the BHPD. After an investigation by BHPD and some complaints to the BH City Council for what was feared would become a dismissal, charges were filed on March 15, 2010.

Arraignment was held on March 26 and Krupen pleaded not guilty to both counts with the assistance of the Public Defender. A pretrial conference was held on April 23, which was continued to May 20. The defendant was not present but appeared by private counsel. She was ordered to be present at the next hearing.

Krupen is charged with:

1)one misdemeanor count of failing to stop and provide information at the scene of a collision where there is property damage only – CVC 20002(A)

2)one misdemeanor count of driving with suspended/revoked license – CVC 14601.1(A)

And still no word on charges against Patrick Roraff, the 18-year old driver who allegedly killed pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing near San Bernardino on April 8th.

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Remember the new bike plan that seemed to be such a big deal last year? Yeah, me neither. LACBC seems to recall that LADOT promised us a revised plan all the way back in February, and — justifiably — takes the city to task for failing to schedule a realistic release date three months later. And oh-so-politely points the finger at the upper echelons of the department.

Seems to me that if the people in charge at LADOT wanted to release a bike plan, it would have happened already. So here’s my polite suggestion. Either get with the program, or get hell out of the way so people who actually give a damn about cycling in this city can get something done.

Otherwise, you may find L.A.’s cycling community gathered on LADOT’s doorstep with a different finger extend.

And this one won’t be pointing.

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Richie Porte keeps the leader’s jersey in the Giro; Vinokourov starts his comeback by gaining 10 seconds on the leader, leaving him just 9 minutes and 48 seconds behind. Thursday’s Amgen Tour of California was not hijacked by Floyd Landis, despite appearances to the contrary; Michael Rogers — no relation — claims the leader’s jersey despite having the same overall time as Dave Zabriskie.

Landis-accused Lance Armstrong crashes out at the beginning of the stage, while Greg “Everyone is a Doper but Me” LeMond sides with Landis for a change; tune in tomorrow for As the ToC Turns.

Meanwhile, Blog Downtown anticipates big crowds and closures on Saturday.

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Gary gets a pleasant Bike to Work Day surprise — along with some not so nice surprises. Bike to Work Day is celebrated in Claremont and by the LACBC Downtown, while UCLA offers Bike to School Day. Metro offers free rides to cyclists with helmets, but may have forgotten to tell their drivers. And a little Tweet pressure gets Trader Joe’s to think twice about opening in Bike Week without bike parking.

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LADOT continues their advice for beginning cyclists. Pasadena tells cyclists to please stay off the sidewalk. A new OC bike shop will offer dial-up roadside service. Hemet police find cyclists at fault in 16 of 18 collisions; yeah, no hint of bias there. A cyclist in Oakland is killed when he gets doored by a driver and forced into a bus. On the heels of the worldwide popularity of the Tweed ride comes the Seersucker Ride; seriously, does anyone look good in seersucker? Dave Moulton notes that most drivers would give a stray dog more than three feet clearance, so why not a cyclist? The obvious answer is most people like dogs. A cyclist confesses to running red lights, carefully. Boulder CO police are looking for the speeding driver of a $110,000 Mercedes SUV who fled the scene after striking a cyclist in a bike lane. The Washington Post says sharing the road is a two-way street. Evidently, there’s a rash of narco-cyclists in Dallas; oddly, they lifted the photo from USC’s Daily Trojan. A Miami rider says a bus driver ran over him on purpose; the driver claims the cyclist intentionally collided with the bus. Truckers call a proposed new law that would require a four foot distance when passing a cyclist — five feet above 49 mph — “insanity.” Korea prepares a new mandatory bike registration plan to deal with the problem of abandoned bikes. Drivers going through bus and bike-only traffic lights are turning a Birmingham UK road into a ring of death.

Finally, this is pretty much the definition of a very lucky bicyclist.

Seriously, say it ain’t so, Floyd

By now, it shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Still, there are those who believed Floyd Landis when he adamantly denied doping during the 2006 Tour de France. And went to bat for him when he started an online Wiki doping defense movement to clear his name before ultimately losing in the Court of Arbitration.

I really wanted to believe him.

But I remember watching him bounce back from an epic bonk in the Tour, only to devastate the field and clinch the Tour the following day. And sitting in front of the TV thinking he had to be on something.

He was.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal, of all places, broke the news that Landis had sent a number of emails admitting to doping during the 2006 Tour and much of his riding career.

The lying sack of disgraced rider said that longtime Lance Armstrong coach Johan Bruyneel introduced him to doping techniques such as steroid patches, EPO, blood doping and human growth hormone, beginning when he first started riding for Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Team in 2002. And he accuses Bruyneel of coaching him on how to use them without getting caught.

Maybe he should have paid more attention.

As might be expected after placing the blame on Armstrong’s coach, he also accuses Armstrong and fellow teammate George Hincapie of being complicit in the doping, with the clear implication that Lance was doing it, too.

Not surprisingly, Lance denies everything. Then again, so did Floyd for the past four years.

Landis, who signed with the Bahati Foundation team earlier this year in a comeback attempt, claims that former Phonak team owner Andy Rihs — the team he rode for in 2006, which was disbanded after his disqualification — knowingly picked up the tab for his doping program after he signed with the team.

And he says that he helped current Amgen Tour of California leaders Dave Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer take EPO before a previous ToC race.

It shouldn’t shock anyone to discover that there is doping in pro cycling. Or that Floyd is every bit as dirty as the authorities claimed.

But seriously. Why do you think they call it dope, Floyd?

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On a soggy day in Italy, the Giro leaders get caught by a devastating breakaway, possibly killing their chances on the podium. The new leader, Saxo Bank’s Richie Porte, now holds an almost 10 minute lead over former leader Vinokourov, whose best chance to climb back up in the standings might be to give Dr. Christopher Thompson an Italian drivers license.

In the ToC, Landis-accused Dave Zabriskie retains the lead with a slim advantage of just 6 seconds or less over Michael Rogers and co-accused Levi Leipheimer; unless something dramatic happens in the next couple days, it looks like the race will be determined at the Downtown L.A. time trial on Saturday.

The general conclusion is that the coverage on Versus this year has sucked, to put it mildly. Hopefully, they’ll get their act together before Le Tour.

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Saboteurs attack cyclists in a local Maryland criterium by scattering thumb tacks at various points along the course, resulting in crashes and damaged bikes, with a number of minor injuries and at least one broken bone.

Hopefully, local authorities will recognize the seriousness of the crime and respond appropriately; while bike haters may giggle about it, this is no less a violent assault than the Christopher Thompson case.

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By the time you read this, it will be too late to grab free food and bike swag on Bike to Work Day. Riders who could make it Downtown on Wednesday had a chance to roll through the streets with a police bike escort. And there’s still a few Bike Week events later in the week.

But has it ever occurred to anyone that people who ride to work ride home, too? Why not make a real day of it next year and set up some of those pit stops in the evening, instead?

Meanwhile, Metro’s The Source, which as done a great job of covering Bike to Work Week, is looking for recommendations for the best blogs that focus on bikes as transportation, rather than recreation. You can find some of my favorites over there on the right; email your suggestions to thesource@metro.net or leave a comment on their Facebook page.

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L.A. County announces the second round of hearings on the new county bike plan; how about putting some sharrows on PCH? Glendale will invest a $150,000 grant in upgrading bicycle infrastructure; Stephen Box examines the Glendale Police Department’s understanding of their own laws regarding riding on the sidewalk. Bikerowave speaks on Saturday with 7 bike activists talking for 7 minutes each on 7 subjects. Bicycle Fixation considers the proposed 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard and the potholes of L.A. With the publisher in L.A. for a workshop, Tucson Velo looks at the Bikerowave., after discovering our notoriously cracked pavement and lack of infrastructure. I wonder if the ToC podium girls are doping, too. A look at the return on investment for years of bike advocacy. Chicago observes the Ride of Silence, while a Detroit bike blog says the Ride of Silence comes with good intentions but sends the wrong message. A Maryland cyclist gets doored, and police ticket him in the hospital in violation of local laws. In DC, a cop orders a cyclist to use a new bike lane before it’s opened. Dogs and bikes don’t always get along. Ten cents used to get your bike across New York’s Triborough bridge. A look at bicycling in Tokyo. Five motorists go on trial for a roadway dispute that ended in the death of a London cyclist. British cyclists ride to honor Alfred the Great. The Guardian asks why British women are so vulnerable to collisions with big trucks; the conclusion is get away from the curb.

Finally, The League of American Bicyclists announces their ranking of bike-friendly states; California is dropping like a rock (pdf), having fallen from 7th in 2008 to 14th in 2009 to 19th in 2010. Washington leads the list, while Alabama takes up the rear.

The problem with Glendale and riding on the sidewalk; more on Bike Week

Clearly, there’s more to the Glendale bike death wrist slap than there appeared last week.

According to the Glendale News Press, Naira Margaryan was charged with a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter for the death of Gerardo Ramos, who died 13 months after she ran a stop sign and struck his bicycle as he rode through a Glendale crosswalk.

Infuriating cyclists in the middle of the city’s Bike Month, Glendale authorities assigned equal blame for the death on both parties; to make matters worse, a police spokesman incorrectly said that Ramos shared the blame because riding on a sidewalk is a violation of California vehicle codes.

But as Damien Newton pointed out on Streetsblog, California delegates the decision on whether to allow or ban riding on the sidewalk to local jurisdictions — despite what the DMV’s Driver Handbook says.

So that everyone is clear about the law, here is the relevant section from the California Vehicle Code:

21100. Local authorities may adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution regarding the following matters:…
… (h) Operation of bicycles, and, as specified in Section 21114.5, electric carts by physically disabled persons, or persons 50 years of age or older, on the public sidewalks.

Ok, but that doesn’t mean anything without knowing Glendale’s laws.  Here is the section on sidewalk riding in Glendale:

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)

As Dj Wheels pointed out, the intersection where Ramos was struck looks very residential.

And that’s exactly the problem. Because section C of CVC 240 defines a business district as virtually anything that isn’t made up of exclusively of single family homes.

(c) All churches, apartments, hotels, multiple dwelling houses, clubs, and public buildings, other than schools, shall be deemed to be business structures.

In other words, a definition so broad that it brings into question the enforceability of any ordinance based on it, since it would be almost impossible for a rider to know whether or not he could legally ride on the sidewalk in any given spot. What would be legal on one block might be illegal on the next — or even on different sections of the same block, as he rides past single family homes and apartment buildings, schools and churches.

Whether or not that played a role in the decision to blame to Ramos for the collision that killed him has yet to be determined — as is whether anything can be done about it.

What is clear is that Glendale cyclists are stuck with a bad law that is almost impossible to obey; and that legal authorities continue to hold cyclists and drivers equality responsible for actions that contribute to collisions — even though careless drivers pose a risk to everyone around them, while even the most careless cyclists pose a risk predominantly to themselves.

Meanwhile, master framebuilder Dave Moulton weighs in on the Gerardo Ramos case, noting that cyclists have to take responsibility for our own safety and stay off the sidewalk.

He’s right.

Studies show there’s a significantly higher risk to bicyclists riding on the sidewalk compared to street — with or without bike lanes or other infrastructure.

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Another day, another fatal hit-and-run in LA; this one involving a pedestrian in Koreatown.

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More Bike Week news:

Will Campbell proves himself a better man than I am by attending the Blessing of the Bicycles, and credits it to protecting him during a perfect unplanned sliding dismount; I let an hour long rush hour ride from the Westside in a cold, steady drizzle dissuade me. So if anyone knows any freelance bike-friendly priests, ministers and/or rabbis on the Westside, my bike is still in serious need of blessing.

LAPD provides a podcast of Chief Beck’s Bike Week remarks. Green LA Girl continues her excellent coverage of Bike Week throughout the LA area. The Source calls attention to Wednesday’s Downtown L.A. Ride; better hurry, because it starts at 8 am. Stephen Box astutely looks forward to the day when Bike to Work Week won’t be necessary anymore. Bicycling offers a no-excuse guide to bike commuting, while UCLA Transportation provides a five minute video look at the same subject.

Announcing a major victory for bike commuters timed for Bike Week, Metro plans to drop the rush hour ban on bikes on trains, replacing it with unlimited bikes in the articulated sections between cars, and releases a pretty new map of local bikeways, busways and train lines — though more street-level detail would help. And you can finish off the week by taking Metro to the L.A. stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Saturday; then again, you could just ride there.

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American Tyler Farrar wins his second stage in the Giro; Vinokourov keeps the leader’s maglia rosa. On the left edge of America, Dave Zabriskie wins Tuesday’s stage of the Amgen Tour of California and takes the overall lead; Brett Lancaster won yesterday’s rain soaked stage.

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On the political front, Claremont Cyclist endorses the LBVLA, while Damien takes an in-depth look at transportation issues in the 36th Congressional District. LACBC recruits cyclists to test ride LA’s soon-to-be-sharrowed streets; meanwhile, volunteers are wanted to make snowballs in…well, you get it. A UCLA survey question about biking and driving distances could have been phrased a lot better, and offered a better prize as well. LA Cycle Chic reports on a small but successful Mom’s Ride. Gary updates the state of cycling in semi-bike friendly Santa Monica, including a softening on bike licensing and the need for city agencies to work together; meanwhile, you’ll find more bike parking on the Promenade and throughout Downtown. George Wolfberg forwards a story from the NY Times about the ever-present fear of crashing among pro cyclists. Your word for the day: Aggromuter. An East Coast blogger asks if Boston is the new Portland; didn’t Long Beach already beat them to it? Tucson Bike Lawyer trades rings with a trike-riding toddler. A New Jersey cyclist barely avoids injury when she’s knocked off her bike by cups of ice thrown from a passing car; Texas high school students could have faced charges for assaulting cyclists with bananas. Springfield Cyclist celebrates the city’s newfound status as a bike-friendly community. Transport for London turns down an offer of help from the founder of 3FeetPlease; evidently, they have that rash of London cyclists killed by large trucks under control. Fashionable clothes, a toned bum and a tanned face equal cycle chic. Will 2010 be the Summer of Cycling? A Montreal paper says cyclists should be banned from regular roads because we’re all scofflaws — even though less than 20% ran red lights in their own study. And it wasn’t a cyclist who killed three riders in Quebec last week.

Finally, Wednesday night marks the annual Ride of Silence honoring cyclists who have died on America’s streets. Memorial rides will take place in cities throughout the country; local events will take place in Santa Monica, Thousand Oaks, Valencia, Ventura, Rancho Cucamonga, Irvine and Temecula. I have other obligations, or I’d join the ride in Santa Monica, maybe someone can take my place. And lets make sure there’s a ride in Los Angeles next year.

Bike to Work Week, a triple tragedy in Quebec, more L.A. hit-and-runs and the LBVLA is born

It’s Bike to Work Week.

The one time during the year when our local governments and various agencies fall all over themselves to prove they’re bike friendly — often in direct contrast to the other 51 weeks of the year.

And it all starts today.

I won’t waste your time with a recap of all the various events going on around town when so many others have already covered it in far more detail; just click on the links below for more information.

LACBC Bike to Work Day/Bike Week

Metro L.A. Bike Week

Bike Week Pasadena

Glendale Bike Month

Long Beach Bike Week

Claremont Bike to Work Week

Additional coverage at LA Streetsblog, the Source, the L.A. Times, Travelin’ Local and Green L.A. Girl, who notes the Sierra Club’s Bike-ku bike giveaway contest, as well as events south of the Orange Curtain in the Orange County Register. As for Bike to Work Day, there’s bound to be Pit Stop location near you.

And in honor of Bike to Work week, LAPD Chief Beck asks drivers not to run over us, noting that sharing the road is the law.

As for me, I’m looking forward to Good Sam’s Blessing of the Bicycles on Tuesday; after the ride I had on Friday — two right hooks, one left cross, one speeding buzz and a barely averted high speed crash — I’ll take all the help I can get. On the other hand, I’m still debating whether I want to spend an hour bucking L.A. rush hour traffic to ride there. So what do you think about this route?

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Three female triathletes were killed and three others — a man and two woman — seriously injured in a horrific collision while riding on a Quebec highway. Observers blamed the crash on the lack of a paved shoulders along the highway, forcing cyclists to share a lane with high speed traffic. The driver was a volunteer firefighter who attempted to give first aid to the victims. Alcohol has been ruled out, but cruise control may have played a role, while cyclists say local drivers are “cowboys” on the roads. They may be right, as another cyclist is killed by a drunk driver just a day later.

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The League of Bicycling Voters held its inaugural meeting at UCLA on Saturday, and took its first steps as a real political organization.

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Tragic proof over the weekend that hit-and-run collisions affect everyone, not just cyclists.

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Vinokourov gets the pink jersey back — and keeps it — in the Giro. Cyclelicious reports on the first day of the Amgen Tour of California, won by Mark Cavendish, while Tom Boonen gets skinned in a crash. Oh, and some guy named Lance raced, too. The ToC comes to L.A. with a Downtown time trial and bike Lifestyle Festival on Saturday the 22nd.

Of course, that will conflict with the Inner City Sports Festival & Health Fair the same day.

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Volunteers needed to ride pre-sharrowed streets. Cyclists discover the Valley’s Foothill Boulevard on Saturday. Flying Pigeon now carries classic Dutch-style Velorbis Bikes. The Times examines the intersection of biking and real estate. Pasadena plans to become even more bike friendly, with help Ryan Snyder Associates. L.A. Creek Freak reports on the slow progress of the Arroyo Seco Bike Path. Will observes a modern version of the loaves and fishes while riding Saturday, as a $50 bread purchase turns into $1000 of food for the needy. Riding on the sidewalk may be legal, but it’s not safe — and often rude. A San Francisco Grand Jury says it’s time drivers and cyclists got along, and encourages police to ticket more cyclists. A cyclist suffers non-life threatening injuries at a notorious San Francisco intersection. Today Show weatherman Al Roker rides. Cleveland PD offers great advice on how drivers can share the road. An 11-year old Texas girl gets warning signs on a dangerous road for cyclists. Collisions are up in Boulder intersections — including a cyclist who swerved to avoid car and got ticketed for an illegal lane change. An 86-year old driver faces a $75 fine after killing a teenage cyclist and critically injuring two others. Springfield Cyclist recounts a tandem tour of the Outer Banks. A Scottish company invents a new kind of bike seat; I’ll let someone else try it first. A Brit store refuses to sell a patch kit to a 17-year old for fear he might sniff it instead of fixing his flat. A man steals a bike, but is too drunk to remember what he did with it. Four British firefighters will ride non-stop from Edinburgh to London to raise funds for a cancer charity; as an aside, Santa Monica bike blogger JHaygood documents his brother’s battle against a rare form of cancer. A bike flash mob invades a Brussels train station with Queen’s Bicycle Race.

Finally, a German cyclist has been touring the world for 24 years, 38 countries and 320 flat tires and isn’t done yet; he credits his energy to drinking his own urine every morning. And yes, you read that right.

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?

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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.

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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.

Today’s ride, on which I find genuine humanity in an unexpected source. And not so much from others.

Around noon today, I had some unexpected down time as I waited for a client to get back to me. So not wanting to waste an opportunity — or a beautiful day — I grabbed my bike and hit the road.

About 20 miles into my ride, I stopped for a quick snack, reaching into my seat bag for the box of raisins and Kashi granola bar I usually carry with me.

While I did, I saw a homeless man shuffle past, his skin and clothes filthy from head to toe. He stopped at a nearby trash can, staring at it for a few moments before lifting the lid and digging through the trash; after several seconds he came back up holding a half-eaten bag of fruit someone had thrown away.

I looked at him, then down at the unopened Kashi bar in my hand.

It wasn’t like I was considering anything all that unusual. I’ve given away a few spare tubes and patch kits to riders in need, and even been known to leave behind a multi-tool, chain tool or spanner along with my phone number — and yes, I’ve always gotten them back.

So I rolled over, held out the granola bar and asked if he’d like it. He looked it over, studying it carefully before softly saying “Yes.”

Then he slowly looked up at me, revealing crystal clear blue eyes. And looking deeply into mine, he said simply “Thank you,” with a gentle sincerity that took me by surprise.

It was all I could do to say “You’re very welcome” as I turned away, my lip quivering and tears in my eyes, humbled that anyone would be so grateful for such a small gesture.

And I rode off, thinking that, as hard as these times may be, I’ll go to bed tonight with my belly full and a roof over my head, and a wife who loves me. And a new appreciation for the many people and kindnesses and blessings in my life.

I was still thinking about that about half an hour later as I was riding in the bike lane on San Vicente Blvd.

I watched warily as a car waited to cross on a side street; just as I decided he was going to let me pass, it pulled out directly in front of me. I hit my brakes and leaned hard to the left to pass behind him, clearing his car by just inches.

As I came around on the other side, I held out my hands in the universal “What the F***?” gesture. He responded that he just didn’t see me; I said, with as much restraint as I could muster under the circumstances, “Well look next time, it’s not like I’m invisible.”

Evidently offended that his use of the universal Get Out of Jail Free excuse hadn’t bought him absolution this time, he yelled back “F*** you!”

And don’t even get me started on the driver who blared his horn when I had to swerve to avoid a right-hook, even though I barely broke the plane of his lane and didn’t obstruct his path or delay his passage one whit.

But it struck me odd that in the course of one ride, in the span of less than an hour, I saw genuine humanity and gratitude in a man who had nothing. And just the opposite from people who clearly had so much more to be grateful for, yet couldn’t spare a few seconds of their day for the life and safety of another human being.

It’s something I’ll be considering for a very long time.

But I can tell you right now which one earned my respect.

And who I can only hope to emulate.

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The Conejo Valley Cyclists and the city Thousand Oaks will sponsor the annual Ride of Silence next Wednesday, honoring cyclists who’ve been killed on the roads; we need to see one here in L.A. next year.

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Hemet police offer incorrect advice in response to a rash of bike crashes; instead of telling cyclists to “always ride single file” and ride “as far to the right as possible,” why not offer a little accurate advice to the people in the big dangerous machines?

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LACBC and the Ridazz ask for your input on the top 10 finalists in their Bike Awareness slogan contest. Next up in Will Campbell’s Bike Every (Satur)Day in May series is the Frank Lloyd Wride. LACBC stops cyclists for a pre-sharrows survey. Round two of public workshops for the upcoming L.A. County bike plan. Here’s your chance to comment on NBC’s plans to blockade a planed bikeway along the L.A. River. A beginner’s guide to professional cycling. San Francisco cyclists and drivers are urged to metaphorically sing Kumbaya on the city’s streets. Bob Mionske looks at what happens when a local ordinance conflicts with state law. Cyclelicious asks why you bike to work; actually, I often bike to get away from it for awhile. Dave Moulton discovers a Fuso Tricycle made by his ex-apprentice. The newly formed Bicyclists Against Distracted Drivers offers stickers to remind cell phone users not to. A week after a pedestrian in my hometown begs bikers not to warn him, another one says please do. Even if the new bike laws pass, police can’t ticket drivers who park in nonexistent bike lanes. A Chattanooga cyclist experiences one of the best reasons to keep riding. Maryland drivers are even worse than Texans at sharing the road. Louisville offers a new bike safety video. An 80-year old truck driving gutter bunny in Florida. Two downed New York cyclists, two videos, only one conviction. Four stages of the Giro, four cyclists in pink; you’d think no one wanted it. A specter of possible sabotage for next Sunday’s 4,500 rider Etape Caledonia charity ride in Scotland. An Edinburgh cyclist says a popular street may be too dangerous for cyclists. London’s mayor offers details on the city’s planned cycling revolution.

Finally, a driver’s perspective on sharing the road with cyclists that actually makes sense. Can we clone him? Thanks to the always excellent Baltimore Spokes for posting the link.

Another OC cyclist killed, another giant yawn from the local press

One hundred words.

That all the life of an Orange County cyclist was worth today.

Allen Earl Miller, a 55-year old cyclist from Costa Mesa, was riding north on Temescal Canyon Road south of Indian Truck Trail between Corona and Lake Elsinore around 2:40 yesterday afternoon when a Ford SUV driven by Scott Reis drifted off the road for unknown reasons and struck him from behind; Miller died at the scene.

According to the Orange County Register, which offered the best coverage, no one has been arrested; the CHP is still investigating. Neither of the people in the truck were injured.

It took the Register exactly 100 words to tell the story, not counting the headline. The sum total of a life, nothing more than name, age and cause of death.

A story so insignificant, it didn’t make the first 10 pages of news stories in a Google search last night or again this morning. And didn’t even make the news at all just a few miles north in L.A. — then again, neither did the tragic death of Jorge Alvarado.

It’s only another death on the roads.

Only another cyclist killed.

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Chances are, I still wouldn’t have know about Miller’s death if the Claremont Cyclist hadn’t picked up the story.

I cringed when I saw the image of the Ghost Bike on his site, because it meant another cyclist had died. And I hope Michael will forgive me for quoting liberally from his post. But he has something important to say.

Explain to me again how someone just drifts “off the road for an unknown reason”….  I do not think I will ever understand why there is not more widespread outrage over these incidents. Just because a cyclist has lost his life, does not mean this is solely a cycling concern – it is a societal concern. This driver could just as easily have drifted the other direction for an unknown reason, hitting a car head on instead. Indeed most crashes involving cars are with other cars, not bikes, not pedestrians. Getting and keeping people who cannot, or will not, take driving seriously off the roads benefits everyone, not just cyclists.

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Metro leaks the date for the upcoming CicLAvia; evidently, I broke the story and didn’t even know it. So when they make the official announcement, everybody act surprised, okay?

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A great view of Highland Park as seen from a bike on a clear, sunny SoCal day. The LACBC gears up for their best ever River Ride. Metro began a bike count and survey on Tuesday. San Francisco cyclists are urged to shop locally by bike. A cyclist says she’s never seen a rider stop for a stop sign; I assume that means she doesn’t, either. CNN takes note of the conflict between cyclists and drivers on America’s roads. A New Jersey cyclist is dragged 30 feet under the SUV of a right-hooking driver who just didn’t see him, which makes it okay, right? A New York blogger comes home to discover a bike-loving friend has been seriously injured in a collision. If bicycle safety is a two-way street, why do all the articles seem to focus on wearing a helmet? A Huntsville, Alabama editorial urges both cyclists and drivers to use the roads more carefully. North Carolina cyclists debate a proposed law that would limit them to riding no more than two abreast, and just single file when cars are passing. A Detroit cyclist is critically injured when a driver hits him, then gets out of his car to pull the rider off his windshield and remove his license plates before fleeing the scene. Evidently, someone’s stealing bikes from bloggers; just a week after Witch on a Bicycle had his handmade custom bike stolen, another blogger loses hers when a thief unbolts the scaffolding she’d locked it to. Maybe they should have watched this Brit Beat the Thief video first. An Oxfordshire doctor on a five-year round-the-world bike tour only makes it through Europe before his knee gives out. Giro riders complain about being forced to sit down to a midnight meal.

Finally, the Mounties always get their man — even if it’s just for riding without a helmet.

Today’s post, in which I direct your attention elsewhere

I read a lot about bicycling.

Between keeping up with local bike news and searching the internet for insights into infrastructure, advocacy and safety, I probably scan a few hundred stories each day. And stop to actually read through maybe a quarter to half of those — the best of which I try to share with you on here.

It’s not often, though, that I find something that stops me in my tracks, and causes me to go back and read it again to catch every detail.

Usually when that happens, it’s because I think the writer got it wrong in some way, whether it’s a misguided attempt to say the right things, or yet another motorhead rant demanding that we get off their precious pavement. It’s not often that I find someone who seems to get it just right, and says it so eloquently that I wish I’d written it.

But that’s what I found last night, as Google carried me north of the border to the small city of Guelph, Ontario, where a writer tried to explain why drivers need to give cyclists one meter of space when passing — roughly equivalent to our three-foot passing distance.

And got it exactly, precisely right.

If you were driving and saw your child walking on the road, how close would you go? Four inches?

The cyclist on the road is someone’s child, a fragile human life.

I know. We are in a hurry. We have somewhere to be. The bike is so slow. Won’t the driver behind me get annoyed if I slow down?

He goes on to note that any time he writes about bicycling, he gets mail saying that cyclists would get more respect if they behaved better — in other words, the same sort of comments you’ll see on just about any online article about cycling, as motorists write in to complain about cyclists, neglecting to mention that most drivers speed, fail to signal and roll through stop signs.

Consider these dangerous cyclists. The way they ride risks their lives and scares the rest of us. Would the world be a better place if they drove a car instead? For now, let’s leave them riding a bike, where the greatest risk is to themselves.

When the roads are safer, careful people will ride bikes on the road. The secret about riding a bike is that, aside from the fear of early death, it is fun — and fast. For now, cyclists often retreat to the sidewalk. It is illegal, but they are scared and feel safer there.

And he concludes by gently humanizing the cyclist on the road ahead, reminding impatient drivers that it’s up to them whether another person will get home safely.

I know. We are commuting, traffic is slow already and we are late. We are all working hard to pay the bills, giving a better life to our children, for whom we would do anything to keep them safe.

Now look ahead. See that wobbly cyclist on the road in front of you. Picture him as your child at eight years old. Now decide. Squeeze through or give him space? Slowing down could delay you by 30 seconds. Picture the eight-year-old child. His life is in your hands.

It’s a quick read.

One that won’t take more than a couple minutes out of your day, and definitely worth clicking on the link.

And one that I wish I could tape to the steering wheel of every car in L.A. before their drivers hit the road today.

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Alex Thompson shares a moving recount of witnessing the aftermath of a hit-and-run collision, noting that it affects even more drivers than cyclists — in fact, he notes that 38% of all L.A. collisions are hit-and-run. And yes, something needs to be done.

Now.

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Bike Week Pasadena, or more precisely, Bike Weekend — rolls on May 20. A great look at biking on the (real) Eastside; for a change, the comments are as good as story. Metro offers an all-day symposium Wednesday for those who move on two feet instead of two wheels, along with the follow-up to February’s Metro Bicycle Roundtable. Flying Pigeon offers a midweek Cargo Bike Date Night Ride tonight. LADOT notes that locking your bike to a parking meter is illegal, but rarely enforced; on the other hand, it’s also not smart since a thief can slide your bike and lock over the top of the meter. Dancer a la Mode sings the praises of her LBS. San Francisco cycling goes green. Ten dollars could help make the U.S. Bicycle Route System a reality. Bicyclists have officially infiltrated the White House Press Room. A Columbus writer observes that biking improves his reflexes and awareness. A Massachusetts woman runs down Jesus Christ in a crosswalk, no, really. As an experiment, a cyclist comes to a full, foot down stop every time. A well-reasoned response to last weekend’s article saying cyclists need to earn respect. Headline of the day: Are business folks really swapping Ping for Pinarello?

Finally, maybe it’s time for a mandatory helmet law — for motorists. And the four worst drivers you’re likely to encounter on a daily basis; including the DYPMDB (Don’t You Pass Me Douche Bag) driver.

East Coast AAA goes on the PR warpath; Chicago drivers think assault is OK

The Mid-Atlantic AAA went into full PR defense mode after earlier declaring that a new bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC – that little street that goes past the White House — is part of a “war on drivers.” After getting an earful from bicyclists and bloggers, including some of their own members who apparently have cancelled their memberships, they now want to make it very clear that they are only concerned about the environment and the safety of cyclists. Oh, and following the proper processes, which they could have been a part of, if they had only bothered to participate.

Why does this matter here?

Consider it a cautionary tale of the battles we’ll have to fight here if the newly revised bike plan comes back with any real teeth. Or do we dare hope that Southern California’s leading drivers’ organization more enlightened than their eastern counterparts?

At least the north-of-the-border equivalent of AAA understands that bikes use the roads, too.

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Somehow, this one went under the radar last week. A Chicago-area driver fled the scene after hitting a cyclist with her car, then backing up and hitting him again — in front of at least four witnesses — after a dispute over road space. Amazingly, there’s no follow-up on whether the driver was arrested. And not surprisingly, many of the comments suggest the rider had it coming.

So me get this straight.

If a driver gets mad at someone and responds by pulling out a gun and shooting them, would there really be any question about whether a crime occurred or if the victim deserved it?

So what difference should it make if the weapon of choice is two tons of steel and glass?

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Can bikes bring life to Chinatown after dark? Getting hit on — instead of hit — by the driver you started out arguing with. A Lake Elsinore cyclist died Sunday, three weeks after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. A look at this past weekend’s Long Beach Bike Festival. The Daily Breeze looks at the South Bay Bicycle Coalition. A master in the fine art of bicycle forensics; I only wish he worked for the LAPD crime lab. A visit to Santa Barbara’s first bike fashion show. The rider who took the podium for last year’s Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race wasn’t the one who entered, criminal charges are pending. Bespoke bikes on display at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design. Memphis prepares to become more bike-friendly. An Arkansas cyclist is killed on a group ride, just a month after her husband died while riding. A Missouri cyclist says newly bike-friendly Springfield needs bikes. Riding from brewpubs to wineries on Missouri’s Katy Trail. Riding to raise money for stroke victims. American Tyler Farrar takes stage two of the Giro D’Italia, Cadel Evans Vinokourov wears the leader’s jersey. A reporter rides along with London’s pedaling paramedics, while a London writer takes a very pessimistic look at the city’s new bike share program. After bike officers made over 100 arrests last year, a UK police chief orders his officers onto two wheels. The four British bike team members injured in Belgium are improving. For some reason, I suddenly want to ride through Scotland. Sydney’s mayor says cycling could save the city’s commuters from chronic diseases. Athens bicyclists ride to demand their rights. Eight cyclists are robbed at gunpoint in South Africa. A Danish right-side left turn lane just for bikes.

Finally, a Boston rider says it’s a cyclist’s responsibility to avoid collisions with drivers, not the other way around; just like when someone gets shot, it’s the victim’s fault for standing in front of the damn bullet. A Las Cruces, NM rider offers much better advice for both sides.

Long Beach Bike Fest this weekend, River Ride’s just a month away

First up, a quick reminder that we’re just under a month from L.A.’s largest and most popular organized group ride, the 10th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, rolling June 6th from Griffith Park. Six rides to choose from, ranging from a free kid’s ride to a full century. And you only have one more week to save $10 on early registration.

And speaking of the LACBC, they invite you to attend the 7th Stage of the Amgen Tour of California at Staples Center on Saturday, May 22nd.

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If you’re looking for things to do this weekend, you could do worse than a Will Campbell-led tour of Watts. Or maybe you’d prefer a quick trip down to Long Beach for the last two days of the Long Beach Bike Festival; Streetsblog interviews the filmmaker behind Riding Bikes with the Dutch, premiering Sunday as part of the festival.

I’m sure L.A. will sponsor it’s own bike festival any day month decade century now. But at least we get Bike to Work Week.

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If you’re looking for something to do next Wednesday, have a little LAPD BBQ to benefit Kristina Ripatti-Pearce, the former LAPD officer who retired after being partially disabled when she was shot on duty — and currently training for this year’s Race Across America (RAAM).

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A Santa Monica council member says if a better bikeway system can get just 10% of the city’s cars off the street, their traffic problems will be solved. Stephen Box says LAPD Chief Beck’s words don’t mean anything if they don’t translate to the street beat. L.A.’s Department of City Planning has a rare opportunity to reshape the city’s DNA. Bikeside speaks at Bikerowave on May 22nd. Mr. Bicycle Fixation himself is now writing for the Orange 20 website. A very cool look at South L.A.’s Black Kids on Bikes Freedom Ride. A look at the five best bikeways in L.A. Neon Tommy tests a Walmart fixie. A 64-year old cyclist riding without lights is killed in Twentynine Palms. The CHP offers advice on how to share the road for cyclists and motorists. Support for a San Jose cyclist left severely brain-damaged by a hit-and-run driver. Reno gets a bike boulevard that isn’t. In a bizarre bike safety spot, a bike riding octopus takes a spill and injures one of his eight appendages — which is, evidently, proof that you should wear a helmet. The latest update from Long Beach’s biking expats documents a week in Fort Worth. John Leguizamo offers advice on how to ride in the city. How bike collisions — not accidents — occur in Orlando. Overflowing bike racks are a good problem to have. Graphic proof that safety in numbers really works. Baltimore considers five bills to benefit bicyclists. Another Chicago cyclist intentionally run down by a driver. It may be ugly, but it’s electric — and wireless. Another dead British bicyclist, another slap on the wrist; but life in prison for the road raging driver who killed a cyclist for damaging his mirror. Five Brit women cyclists training in Belgium are injured when they’re hit by a car. An Ottawa, Canada columnist shows he just doesn’t get it, saying bike lanes will only benefit the few at the expense of the many.

Finally, on the heels of DOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s support for Complete Streets, the Centers for Disease Control recognizes that transportation reform is health reform.

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