Archive for November 16, 2010

Oxnard cyclist killed in Sunday collision; 14th SoCal bike death in last four months

In yet another SoCal cycling fatality, 20-year old Rene Ambritz was struck and killed in Oxnard on Saturday.

The collision occurred about 6:45 pm at the intersection of Ventura Road and West Hemlock Street. The Ventura County Star reports that Ambritz was riding against traffic with no lights, and was struck by a van driven by Paul Castenada after Ambritz ran the red light. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His death marks the 14th cycling fatality I’m aware of in Southern California since the beginning of August.

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In other cycling collisions, an unidentified ninja cyclist is in intensive care after reportedly running a red light and getting hit by a car in Thousand Oaks late Sunday; the rider was wearing dark clothing and riding without lights, and had no identification on him at the time of the collision.

And fifty-nine-year old cyclist Donald Schick suffered major injuries in a Castaic hit-and-run on Sunday afternoon. Stephanie Leann Argo of Castaic was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run.

Outside the Southern California area, a teenage Vacaville cyclist was killed after being hit by two cars last week; thanks to Witch on a Bicycle for the link.

Meanwhile, a noted NorCal track coach was severely injured in a hit-and-run while riding his bike; reading between the lines, it sounds like it could have been an intentional assault by an impatient driver. And a dangerous stretch of highway may finally get a bike lane, too late for the rider killed there two weeks ago; it was the 2nd cycling fatality for the driver involved.

Finally, Jose Luis Huerta Mundo, the driver who killed OC cyclist Michael Nine last July, is currently on trial for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. A Costa Mesa writer notes that Mundo was in the country illegally and had been cited four previous times for driving without a license, as well as once for not registering his truck, and had ignored two signs prohibiting the illegal maneuver that resulted in Nine’s Death. However, he stresses that now is not the time to hate.

Seriously, as angry as we may get, is there ever a good time for that?

Blaming the victim — some drivers say cyclists are just asking for it

It wasn’t that long ago that a woman was just as likely to be blamed as the man who attacked her.

All too often, a woman would report a sexual assault, only to be asked why she was out that late or what she was doing in a place like that. And if a case overcame the odds and made it to court, a judge or jury might conclude that her short skirt or tight top meant that she was asking for it.

Or if a woman was the victim of domestic violence, she was likely to encounter an attitude that she was the one to blame because she shouldn’t have made her husband or boyfriend that mad to begin with.

Case dismissed.

Fortunately, times have changed. That sort of attitude went out with the onset of the women’s movement, when it slowly dawned on society that a woman had a right to say no or stand up for herself. And that we all need to be held accountable for our own actions, regardless of what anyone else does or doesn’t do.

Except, it seems, when it comes to sharing our streets.

The last socially acceptable vestige of that blame-the-victim attitude is firmly on display whenever the subject turns to bicycling and a riders’ right to the road — and the wisdom of putting our wheels on the asphalt some motorists claim as their exclusive domain.

Consider the L.A. Time’s recent Talk Back L.A. post asking for comments on the proposed anti-harassment ordinance, for instance.

By now, we’ve become accustomed to attitudes like this one that merely express a misguided hatred for anyone who moves on two wheels.

EVERY single person i know hates bicyclists. Your cute little mass protest rides have pissed off a lot of people. Your very existence on busy, clogged streets is an annoyance. Learn to drive or bust a gut-check and pay for gas like the rest of us.

No, the problem comes from those who absolve themselves of any responsibility for their own actions. It’s the cyclists’ fault for being where we shouldn’t be, in the eyes of the outraged and inconvenienced drivers.

ban all bicycles from main roads and their riders won’t get hurt or killed. they can’t keep up with traffic and provide no passenger protection. automobile drivers have enough to worry about when on the road, traffic rules, stop lights, pedestrians and now we have to watch over these cry babies who think they are special, really.

Yes, drivers have enough to worry about without watching out for other traffic on the road. And there’s certainly no need to acknowledge that a car or truck is a dangerous machine and must be operated carefully.

It’s just those two-wheeled crybabies who think they’re special, and insist on using the roads as if the law said they could.

Which it does, of course.

If you ride a bicycle on the street, you’re taking your life in your own hands. Bikes are too slow, too hard to see and take up space in the lane preventing cars from driving around them.

It’s the cyclists, they insist, who are risking their own lives; it’s not the drivers’ responsibility to look for them or pass safely. So if you hit one, it’s really his or her fault, not the fault of the careless, distracted or overly aggressive person behind the wheel.

On a busy 8 lane (8 lane!) street I had a bicyclist pull up in between my truck and another car at the stoplight at one of the busiest intersections in the city like he was on a motorcycle or something. Ridiculous. Just an accident waiting to happen. He perfectly could’ve use the available bike lane and cross walk. But no, he uses a major throughfare as his preferred route of transportation. And guess who’s fault it is when they get hit?

Honestly, the nerve. A cyclist riding on the street like it was a safe, legal and reasonable thing to do. Which it is — or at least, should be.

Then there are others who make the connection more directly.

Rather than a new law, enforce the current laws, laws that bicyclists are supposed to follow. If they drove as they are supposed to drive, harassment would become a non-issue.

From their perspective, drivers are entitled  to harass cyclists because cyclists break the law, or at least they’re not acting unreasonably if they do. Never mind that, despite what some people seem to think, a drivers license does not authorize vigilante enforcement of traffic laws.

I had to hit her, your honor. She made me so mad, I just couldn’t help myself.

Then again, there are some who bend over backwards to blame the victims.

This conviction (of Dr. Christopher Thompson) was total B.S. The doctor DID NOT hit the bicyclists. They ran into the BACK of the doctor’s car. The bicyclist that went thru the car’s back window was going 40 mph at the time. Why was he going so fast? Because he was CHASING the doctor’s car.

Even when a motorist is clearly breaking the law, it’s never the law-breaking driver who’s to blame — as in this heartless comment about the death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last month.

You have no idea what you are talking about, but that doesn’t stop you from hollering with your righteous indignation.
 Don’t want to get killed? Then stay off the streets, there are PLENTY of parks with bike paths. Insist on your “right” to participate in inherently dangerous behavior, then expect there to be tragedies like this.

No, it couldn’t be the fault of the driver who got behind the wheel after drinking and ran down a cyclist riding on a wide road in a well-marked bike lane. It’s the fault of the cyclist for simply for being on the road.

Or just being born, perhaps.

And it’s not just Los Angeles. And not just anonymous motorists.

A father who tragically lost his daughter in a cycling collision concludes, not that the driver who took his daughter’s life should have been more careful, but that bikes don’t belong on the street.

When are people going to realize bicycles and cars don’t mix? I have had horrible days driving along Highway 1 in Marin County, where the bikers are so thick that they force cars to pass on the opposite side of the road — in many cases on blind curves. We need some strict laws that restrict bicycles to roads specifically designed with bike lanes. How about a registration and helmet requirement to ride on streets and highways? Anything else should be illegal and subject to a citation. How many more people need to die before something is done?

Never mind that the law clearly prohibits passing on blind curves, or that it only takes a few extra seconds to pass safely in most cases.

The fact is, it’s not easy to have a collision.

It requires one or more people violating the law or using the road carelessly; if everyone drove and rode carefully, paying close attention to the traffic and circumstances around them, while observing the law, it would be virtually impossible to have a collision. And wrecks, whether between motor vehicles, bikes, pedestrians or any combination thereof, would become so rare that a simple fender bender would be front page news.

Because most accidents aren’t accidents.

But even the newly elected mayor of Toronto says it’s cyclists’ own fault if they get killed — whether or not they’re riding in a traffic lane.

What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks, and sooner or later you’re going to get bitten. And no wonder, roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. And my heart bleeds for them when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.

No need for drivers to be careful.

No need to slow down or put down that cell phone, watch the road or take alternative transportation if you’ve been drinking.  It’s not your fault, really.

It’s those darn cyclists who just don’t belong on the road.

They made me do it.

Case dismissed.

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In a truly astounding example of a driver refusing to take responsibility for his actions, a convicted drunk driver sues the parents of the bike riding boy he killed for allowing him to ride without a helmet — even though no helmet on earth would protect against a car moving at 83 mph in a 45 mph zone.

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And in case you ever wondered just what a harassing driver looks like, they seem to look kind of sheepish when they get caught.

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In a horrific weekend for New Zealand cyclists, two men are killed and a woman critically injured in a collision that left a bike embedded in the side of a car, and another woman killed by a car during a training ride, leading a cycling organization to call for urgent action; meanwhile, a Christchurch cyclist is seriously injured after colliding with a pole.

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Herbie says Google responded very quickly to a suggested change for a more appropriate riding route. The paparazzi catch Gwen Stefani teaching her son to ride with training wheels in West Hollywood. Bike lanes are coming to Valencia exactly where they’re not needed most. A Corona del Mar cyclist traces his route to bike advocate. A biking and baseball literary doping doubleheader can be yours for just $5. It’s your bike, ride it the way it feels right to you. Orem, Utah plans to become more bike and pedestrian friendly. Hats and scarves for cold weather riding. Police reports are often wrong. Yet another case of a cyclist suddenly materializing out of nowhere. As Witch on a Bicycle aptly put it, one zero-emissions vehicle collides with another. Evidently, L.A. isn’t the only city where the roads are falling apart. Sometimes, a sacrifice to the biking gods may be in order. Ivan Basso wants his first bike back. Italian police raid the home of Lance Armstrong teammate Yaroslav Popovych.

Finally, a tongue-in-cheek study shows that electric cars take up as much space as the gas-driven ones.

Weekend rides, Tamale Throwdown and a heartbreaking comment from a recent bike widow

Lulu Laing, the widow of James Laing — the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk driver in Agoura Hills October 23rd — left a comment on here Friday in which she talks about, and to, her late husband.

But fair warning, don’t read it if you don’t want to cry.

I think Ross X, aka @dudeonabike, said it best in a tweet this evening:

Wow … just wow. The tears that must have fallen on her keyboard as she wrote that… For Lulu and James, we fight on.

The San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club is tentatively scheduled to hold a memorial ride for James Laing, next Saturday, November 20th beginning at 8 am at the Agoura Hills Bicycle John’s. Organizers say it will visit the site where Laing was killed on Agoura Road, with an easy pace to accommodate all riders.

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The landscaper accused in the death of OC cyclist Michael Nine returns to court on Monday, charged with vehicular manslaughter after pleading guilty of driving without a license; thanks to Lois for the heads-up.

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Friday and Saturday, November 12th & 13th, celebrate the city’s favorite cuisine by riding your bike to the LA Tamale Throwdown sponsored by the Eastside Bicycle Club at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Rose Hill; free bike valet sponsored by Flying Pigeon LA bike shop.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on Saturday, November 13th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Sample the route for the upcoming 2011 River Ride as the LACBC hosts a free ride from Griffith Park to Long Beach on Sunday, November 14. Riders will leave from the Autry Museum in Griffith Park at 7:30 am and arrive in Long Beach between 11 am and noon, then return by riding back or taking the Blue Line to L.A. Email erica@la-bike.org to RSVP; click to download the ride waiver or share a ride to the starting point.

Also on Sunday the 14th, tour Beverly Hills and talk about opportunities to make the city more inviting for cyclists with the inaugural Better Bike Beverly Hills Ride, starting at 2 pm at Peets Coffee at 258 South Beverly Drive.

Explore the effects of bicycles on art and culture at Re:Cycle — Bike Culture in Southern California, at U.C. Riverside’s newly relocated Sweeney Art Gallery at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts3834 Main Street in downtown Riverside, exhibition continues through December 31st.

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Police are looking for a Torrance hit-and-run driver who collided with an 11-year old cyclist, then ran over his leg. City Council candidate Stephen Box says L.A.’s planned construction on PCH is reminiscent of the construction work that resulted in the deaths of two cyclists in 2005. Gary reports on the recent meeting of Santa Monica’s Recreation and Parks Bike Committee. Hip, hot and in the know Sacramento girls on bikes. Coworkers remember a cyclist killed near Napa on Wednesday. The SF Weekly looks at last weekend’s successful San Francisco Bike Expo. Looks like that California middle school student can keep his flag after all. Tucson’s Director of Transportation has his own personalized parking space. Joining in on the great Cat 6 commuter race. An Iowa cyclist slowly recovers after being clotheslined by wire strung across a bike path. A Michigan drunk driver hit something, but kept driving because she wasn’t sure what it was; turned out it was the cyclist she killed. Bike Radar says don’t be afraid of clipless pedals. Advice from the first great depression, bike your way back to prosperity. The UK’s Cycle to Work tax benefit survives the country’s budget cuts, barely. A cycling Brit lawyer captures a death threat from a motorist on video, and can’t get anyone to do anything about it. Astana reloads to move past the Contador era; yeah, good luck with that. Cycling legend Gino Bartali will be honored for risking his life by working undercover to save the lives of Jews during WWII. NYDOT director Janette Sadik-Khan tells Sydney cyclists if she can do it in New York, they can do it there; if she really wants a challenge, why not try to do it here — after all, we have an opening right now. A South African cyclist is shot to death in an apparent road rage attack.

Finally, what do you call it when a New York cyclist is attacked by a naked man on the newly bike friendlier Queensboro Bridge?

Friday.

Ride the 2011 River Ride route six months early — and free this Sunday only

Think of it as the 2010-and-a-half River Ride.

What started out as a chance for River Ride volunteers to experience the course they usually miss out on because they’re busy helping others enjoy it is now open to everyone. And its turned into the one of the biggest and best free bike rides of the year.

The L.A. River Training Ride is now open to riders of all levels, from beginners to experienced long distance cyclists — whether you volunteered with the River Ride last year or plan to next year, or want to get a head start on training for next year’s ride. Or just feel like getting out for a great ride with a great group of people along the L.A. River Bike Path.

And it will be led by experienced riders from the LACBC staff, as well as other volunteer ride marshals, to offer guidance, advice and encouragement every step, or pedal stroke, along the way.

Riders will meet at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park this Sunday, November 14, at 7:30 am, then ride to Long Beach for lunch. Those who arrive early enough may ride over to see a special showing of Riding Bikes with the Dutch at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. Other riders will have lunch in Long Beach before either riding or taking the Blue Line back to Los Angeles — making it the perfect opportunity for anyone who doesn’t want to do the full ride, or isn’t sure if they can make it all the way.

As well as your chance to overcome those nagging doubts about signing up for the real River Ride next May.

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Speaking of Riding Bikes with the Dutch, that special showing I mentioned is also open to the public, and will take place at 11:30 am this Sunday, November 14th.

I’ll let Tim Blumenthal of People for Bikes tell you about it.

  • When: Sunday, Nov. 14 at 11:30 a.m., 
Q & A with the filmmaker to follow at 12:15 p.m.
  • Where: Art Theatre, 2025 East Fourth Street, Long Beach, CA
  • Cost: $10 per person; tickets available online or at the box office

The filmmaker, American Michael Bauch, completed a home exchange in Amsterdam, and spent months living and documenting the bicycle-centric lifestyle of the Dutch. “The first time I stepped off the train in Amsterdam I was literally speechless,” said Bauch. “Everyone from three years old to 93 seemed to be tooling around the city on two wheels. There was a three level structure dedicated to just parking bicycles. This was too much to take in with just my own eyes. I needed to share this with everyone I could and this is why I made my film.”

Bicycling is booming in big U.S. cities, with more urban riders than ever. This film offers insights for Americans like us hoping to create more bike-friendly, livable communities in our own backyards.

Learn more about the film on the Riding Bikes with the Dutch website or by watching the trailer.

Happy trails,

Tim Blumenthal, peopleforbikes.org

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The LACBC says cyclists and local residents were shut out of an Ad Hoc committee to reconsider the Wilbur Ave road diet, while LADOT apparently has a super secret plan — developed without input from cyclists or local residents — to reconfigure the roadway.

If you’re pissed off — and you probably should be, especially if you live along Wilbur or ride in the Valley — you’re urged to email and voice your opinion.

TAKE ACTION
Write to the Northridge West Neighborhood Council members and Councilmember Smith to demand that this committee be fairly staffed with residents, homeowners as well as local cyclists.

Local residents, be sure to include your zip code.

And isn’t it time we had real leadership at LADOT to put a stop to this kind of crap stuff?

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The Eagle County DA attempts, and fails, to explain his highly flawed reasoning in declining to prosecute a rich money fund manager for felony hit-and-run. Bob Mionske says the DA is wrong on the law and picks the wrong battles to fight, while the Vail Daily urges him to prosecute the felony charges the crime merits.

Personally, I’d suggest that he either prosecute the driver for felony hit-and-run or resign and let someone else do it.

But that’s just me.

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The mainstream media discovers the proposed cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, as the Daily News, et al, publishes the story, while the Times draws comments from the usual bike-hating suspects; Mark at the C-Blog says it may not be as effective as I think. NoHo’s killer intersection may finally get a traffic signal. LACBC offers a new countywide resource guide. Bicycle Fixation relates a night of riding with Flying Pigeon and the editors of Momentum Magazine. Long Beach’s cycling expats say yes, they know they’re doing it wrong. Calabasas residents help plan a new off-road bikeway along Las Virgenes Creek. Ventura plans a new development where 25% of the parking spaces will be for bikes. People for Bikes says San Francisco sets the bar high. The proposed solution to two NorCal bikes deaths: ban cyclists from any road without a bike lane and require all cyclists to wear helmets, even though the first victim was killed while riding in a bike lane, and the helmet the second victim was wearing didn’t do her any good. A cyclist is killed by a 78-year old driver south of Yountville. A California middle school student is told to take an American flag off his bike to “avoid racial tension.”

An Oregon study of bike commuting injuries shows that injury prevention should focus on improving the riding environment, rather than on the habits and skills of riders. After attempting — and apparently failing — to fire the Executive Director, the directors of Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club face a recall. Even Cheyenne, Wyoming is working on becoming bike friendlier. A Chicago mayoral candidate promises to make it one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. A blind, nine-time cancer survivor who raised over $50,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital by riding a bicycle 400 miles from Chattanooga to Memphis has died at age 21. Would you ride to work if you had a guaranteed ride home if you needed it?

Someone may be sabotaging an oceanfront UK bikeway. A British cyclist has been arrested in the bike rage attack on a motorist who nearly doored him; in another UK attack, a cyclist smashes his bike into a driver’s windshield. Some schmuck(s) stole the jersey Marco Pantani’s wore to win the 1998 Tour de France. In interesting choice, Team Sky taps the other Texas pro, TdF veteran Bobby Julich, as team race coach. Aukland NZ pulls the plug on their bike share program. A Croation cyclist is fined for falling off his bike.

Finally, advice to riders — don’t ride near foliage because “Rats can jump out and scare you so badly, you’ll be propelled into traffic and, you know, die.”

Angelina Everett gets 90 days in Ed Magos hit-and-run case

Yesterday was a big day for cyclists. And showed just how far we still have to go.

Ten months after 37-year old fashion designer Angelina Everett left Ed Magos lying in the street begging for help after colliding with his bike on a Downtown Street, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail, along with community service and nearly $20,000 in restitution. According to the L.A. Times, she will be allowed to serve her sentence on weekends in the Glendale City Jail, in part because she has a young daughter.

This is case in which the authorities initially declined to press charges because the driver turned herself in an hour-and-a-half after driving away, until pressure from the cycling community led them to take another look at the case.

While cyclists celebrate that justice has finally been done — not just in this case, but in any hit-and-run resulting in injuries this side of death — it should be sobering, as well.

First because this case, like any hit-and-run, is doubly tragic.

Everett is every bit as as much a victim of her own actions as Magos is. Had she simply remained at the scene, there never would have been a case. Who was a fault would have been determined in civil court, rather than in a criminal case. And she would be able to spend her weekends with her daughter, rather than languishing behind bars.

The other reason this case should cause all cyclists to take a step back is this chilling excerpt from the Times:

In court Wednesday, prosecutor Michael Schwartz played 911 tapes from the incident.

In one, Everett called in to report that she had “collided” with a bicycle, and told the 911 operator that she kept driving after the accident because of heavy traffic. When she returned to the site of the crash, she went on, Magos was gone. She asked the 911 operator, “Am I going to jail?”

“No, ma’am,” responded the operator, who went on to tell Everett that people didn’t go to jail for hit-and-runs involving cyclists.

As the article notes, the LAPD has come a long way under Chief Beck’s leadership. And the department now has an effective point person in Sgt. David Krumer, giving us someone we can turn to when problems like this arise.

But this is just one case, in one city. And as the 911 operator’s comment makes clear, legal protection for cyclists is still the exception, rather than the rule.

And even in supposedly bike-friendly communities like Long Beach, authorities continue to make up their own rules, regardless of what the law actually says.

L.A. City Council unanimously approves drafting proposed anti-harassment ordinance

Sometimes, what happens inside is actually as inspiring as the view outside.

It’s hard to call it a victory when we’ve still got so far to go.

But I’ll take a unanimous vote in City Council any day of the week.

After a couple hours of contentious debates over smoking restrictions and solar panels, the City Council finally got around to discussing the proposed anti-harassment ordinance that would give cyclists the right to sue in civil court for harassment, threats and assault.

Although we seriously need to find a catchier name for it.

Regardless, 11th District Councilmember Bill Rosendahl — who’s taken the lead in shepherding this ordinance through the countless pitfalls City Hall is famous for — set the tone when he said this ordinance just gives cyclists rights we should already have.

He was followed by Deputy City Attorney Judith Reel, who explained the nuts and bolts of the proposed ordinance, including a maximum award of $1,000 or actual damages, whichever is higher. Along with a provision for attorney’s fees if you win your case, which in many cases could far exceed the damages awarded by the court.

As Rosendahl put it, “This plan has teeth.”

And lets not forget that it was Reel who had the stroke of genius to make harassment a civil violation, resulting in a lower burden of proof compared to a criminal case. And allowing cyclists to file suit themselves, rather than rely on police to witness a violation.

Michele Mowery, Senior Bike Coordinator at LADOT, told the council that this ordinance is necessary because many motorists still believe that cyclists don’t belong on the road, and consider it sport to throw things at riders.

4th District Councilmember Tom LaBonge and 1st District Councilmember Ed Reyes also spoke in support — though LaBonge seemed equally concerned with the problems posed by out-of-control sidewalk riders.

Under questioning from Rosendahl, Reel said that if the council approved the motion, the actual drafting of the ordinance would take up to 60 days. Rosendahl urged her to come back to the council with the finished ordinance sooner, rather than later, and to include the LACBC in the reviewing process.

In the end, the council voted 12 – 0 to move forward, with three members absent.

Which means that, through two committee sessions and hearing before the full council, not one vote has been cast in opposition to the City Attorney’s proposal.

And cyclists are one step closer to a first-of-its-kind anti-harassment law that could set the standard for communities around the world.

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Below are my comments from the council session.

I want to make sure you understand how important this measure is.

Every day, cyclists face a barrage of harassments and threats. I’ve received reports of cyclists being crowded, yelled at, honked at, having things thrown at them and forced off the road; female cyclists have had to endure unwanted sexual comments and touching while they ride.

Some people complain about rude cyclists swearing and making gestures. That’s because, until now, that’s all we’ve had to defend ourselves. But as Dr. Thompson clear showed, no word or gesture is a match for an angry driver in a two-ton vehicle.

The police are here to protect us, but they can’t be everywhere. And few people will do these sorts of things if there’s a cop around to see it.

This proposed ordinance is a brilliant solution to these problems. It’s the first of its kind anywhere, giving cyclists the tools to protect ourselves even if there isn’t a cop around. More importantly, it will act as a deterrent to protect the city’s most vulnerable road users, and encourage more people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes.

It will save lives.

Overnight, it will transform L.A. from a bicycling backwater to the world leader in protecting cyclists. It will be copied by cities around the world; already, I’ve received several requests from cyclists across the county for a copy of the City Attorney’s report.

That’s what you’re voting on today.

And yes, it is that important.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton explains why Livable Los Angeles has started an online petition urging Mayor Villaraigosa to conduct a real search for the next head of LADOT, and select a world-class leader to replace Rita Robinson.

And yes, I’ve already signed it.

Speaking of Damien, he wants to know when enough is enough; wouldn’t we all.

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Justice in the Ed Magos case, as Angelina Everett gets jail time, community labor and is ordered to pay restitution; more details as they come in. LACBC offers eight tips on what to do if you’re in a collision; here’s my take on the same subject. A look at the signal loop detectors that makes a Bike Friendly Street bike friendly. CicLAvia is looking for volunteers for Host Committees for next year, and wants your advice on what Sunday in April to hold the next one. Culver City approves a new bike and pedestrian plan. Santa Monica begins the long, hard process to cut the city’s unacceptably high rate of biking accidents. Lance likes our local Left Coast sky in the ‘Bu. The New York Times takes in the sights of L.A. on two wheels, touring the city on $100 a day; thanks to everyone who forwarded it to me. Cycling’s equivalent of Dr. Thompson strikes in Santa Cruz, as a cyclist threatens a group of children in a park, then deliberately rides over a toddler; Thompson got five years, this jerk deserves at least that much, if not more. Ross del Duca puts on a helmet at his wife’s insistence, and is glad he did.

Maybe it’s time for a U.S. version of strict liability. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta prepares for his first triathlon. It’s true, biking is far more social than driving. A Tucson cyclist signs a pro contract just three years after taking up the sport. Speaking of the NYT, they interview cycling attorney Bob Mionske on the Eagle County DA’s inexplicable decision not to file felony charges against a rich hit-and-run driver; meanwhile, Witch on a Bicycle offers an exhaustive recap of 30 separate takes on the same subject. Springfield Cyclist stops to work on his ride to work. A Cleveland driver gets three years for intentionally hitting a cyclist he mistakenly thought had stolen his son’s bike. A heavily bundled Katy Perry rides a bike in New York; the question is, how do they know it’s her? Baltimore joins L.A. in becoming the second city to pass the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. A hit-and-run driver is convicted after his plates are captured by a red light camera.

Eco Velo offers 10 kinder, gentler rules for urban bike commuting; Town Mouse responds with 10 rules for rural commuting from the Scottish countryside. Evidently, bike rage is the new trend, as a Brit cyclist beats a driver into a coma after a near-dooring. UK cycling casualties are up while other road deaths and injuries are down. The Guardian asks if the law takes killing a cyclist seriously enough; if they’re anything like us, the answer is no. A policewoman is disciplined after calling a 16-year old girl a scumbag after she’s killed by a speeding police car. Instead of focusing on making cyclists more visible, police should tackle poor driving. An online exhibition of James Straffon’s the Art of Cycling. A man in Guyana stabs a man several times after he’s called a bike thief.

Finally, Patrick Pascal goes out for a ride in Griffith Park, and is magically transported to an alternate reality where Spandexed riders on Penny Farthings pose beneath the Hollywood sign.

Yeah, like that would happen in real life.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Pascal

Breaking News: Dr. Christopher Thompson appeals conviction in Mandeville Canyon case

Seriously.

You knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.

This morning I got an email from Steve Magas, one of the out of state lawyers listed over there on the right. And someone who’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers about bicycling issues.

Case in point, his latest piece in which he brilliantly eviscerates Eagle County, Colorado DA Mark Hurlbert — the prosecutor who inexplicably refused to file felony charges against a wealthy local resident accused of critically injuring a cyclist/transplant surgeon in a hit-and-run.

Because it might, you know, affect his ability to keep earning massive commissions managing financial portfolios for his multi-millionaire clients.

Tres tragique, mais non?

I’m sure Dr. Christopher Thompson wishes the local D.A.’s office had considered his ability to earn a living and dropped the charges against him in the Mandeville Canyon case.

Then again, you could probably say the same thing about everyone behind bars right now.

Although after seeing how expertly Magas picks the case apart, I definitely wouldn’t want to be the opposing attorney who has to face off against him in a court of law.

Anyway, since he’d referenced the Thompson case in his piece, Magas wanted to know if I knew the current status of the Good Doctor. Like if and where he was in jail, and whether he still had his medical license — and if he was appealing his conviction.

You can probably tell where this is going already.

Frankly, I’d been curious about that myself. So I set my work aside, and started doing a little digging.

First up, I used California’s shiny new Inmate Locator page, which revealed that Dr. Thompson is currently incarcerated at the medium security California Rehabilitation Center in Norco.

A little searching on the website of the Medical Board of California led to the discovery that his medical license has been suspended — not exactly a problem at the moment, since he won’t be in any position to use it for a few years — as well as an apparently unrelated malpractice conviction.

The remaining question was a little harder to answer.

In fact, I didn’t have a clue how to find out if he’d filed an appeal.

So I reached out to a couple of the other lawyers there on the right — Ross Hirsch, currently representing hit-and-run victim Ed Magos, and Daniel Jimenez, a cyclist and attorney who frequently contributes to these pages. And either of whom I’d want on my speed dial if I needed a lawyer.

And after a brief exchange of emails, Jimenez emailed back with the news we’ve probably all been expecting and dreading in equal measure.

Thompson’s attorney filed a notice of appeal with the 2nd District Court of Appeal in January, with the opening brief filed on the 4th of last month. The response from the California Attorney General’s office is due on December 3rd, with a reply from the defendant due about three weeks later. Arguments will then be heard sometime around February or March in Division 7 on the 3rd floor of the Ronald Reagan State Building Downtown.

And yes, it will be open to the public.

In case you want to keep up with it yourself, you can track the status of case on the appellate court’s website, using Appellate Case #B221794.

So you can relax. For now.

Dr. Thompson will remain safely behind bars for at least the next few months. And if current vote counting trends continue, it may be up to the man whose office helped put Thompson away to make sure he stays there.

But keep your fingers crossed.

Because if this appeal goes the wrong way, he could be back on the streets, brake-checking cyclists by spring.

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KCRW’s Kajon Cermak offers a great history of L.A.’s proposed anti-harassment ordinance that would make any threats harassment or assault against a cyclist a civil violation, subject to an award of up to $1000. As she notes, it will be heard before the full City Council Wednesday morning at Downtown City Hall; if it’s approved there, it will go back to the City Attorney’s office to draft the actual ordinance.

See you there.

But not Kajon; she has to work, and help get all those people stuck on the 405 safely to their exit of choice.

An expert analysis of tickets and bike seizures in the Long Beach Critical Mass fiasco.

For the past few years, Long Beach has been the beautiful face of cycling in Southern California, showing the state what a bike-friendly community can be.

But these days, that face has an ugly black eye, thanks to the local police department’s heavy-handed crackdown on the city’s first “official” Critical Mass ride, despite organizer’s repeated attempts to get the city’s cooperation. And many area cyclists find themselves questioning whether any city can truly be bike friendly when the authorities seem to make up the law as they go along, and seize bikes with no apparent legal justification whatsoever.

Recently, Al Williams forwarded me an email written by Alan Wachtel, legislative liaison for the California Association of Bicycle Organizations, in response to that crackdown.

In it, he offered an expert analysis of the citations issued by the LBPD, as well the department’s authority to impound the rider’s bikes — by far, the most detailed and complete examination of the subject I’ve seen. As a result, I contacted Wachtel, and got his permission to share the email with you.

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Citations issued to the cyclists included:

  • B240497 – Running stop sign
  • 21201 – No Brakes
  • 1050020 – No Registration;
  • Riding more than two abreast (Code 1048040)
  • Turning off lights after getting pulled over
  • No horns/bells
  • Riding an unsafe vehicle

The Vehicle Code preempts all local regulation of bicycles, except as expressly authorized. The affected cyclists should hire a lawyer not only to get these bogus citations dismissed, but to sue the City for harassment.

B240497 – Running stop sign: This appears to be a citation number rather than a code violation, which should be VC 22450. Whether it’s valid depends on the violation alleged and the facts; however, nothing in the Vehicle Code requires a cyclist to put a foot down in order to make a legal stop.

21201 – No Brakes: Vehicle Code 21201 requires that “(a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” It’s arguable that backpedaling on a fixie qualifies, because the fixed gear itself can be considered the brake. In any case, it shouldn’t matter how the bike is made to skid.

1050020 – No Registration: I.e., Long Beach Municipal Code section 10.50.020, which says that “No person shall ride or propel any bicycle upon any street, alley, park or bicycle path or other public place in the city which is not registered, or for which the appropriate fee has not been paid or which does not bear a bicycle plate as required by the provisions of this chapter.” But the Vehicle Code provides that:

39002. (a) A city or county, which adopts a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution, may provide in the ordinance or resolution that no resident shall operate any bicycle, as specified in the ordinance, on any street, road, highway, or other public property within the jurisdiction of the city or county, as the case may be, unless the bicycle is licensed in accordance with this division.

Non-residents therefore may not be cited, and the maximum fine for residents is $10 (section 39011). Moreover, the Vehicle Code no longer allows impoundment for lack of registration.

Riding more than two abreast (Code 1048040): I.e., L.B.M.C. section 10.48.040: “Persons operating bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.” Invalid because preempted by the Vehicle Code.

Turning off lights after getting pulled over: Vehicle Code section 21201(d)(1) requires “A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle” (thus allowing for generators). There is no requirement to display a light when stopped.

No horns/bells: Seems to refer to L.B.M.C. section 10.48.080: “No person shall operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk unless it is equipped with a bell, horn or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a bicycle, any siren or whistle.” But this applies only on sidewalks (and if it did include the street, it would be preempted by the Vehicle Code).

Riding an unsafe vehicle: Vehicle Code section 24002 provides: “(a) It is unlawful to operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in an unsafe condition, or which is not safely loaded, and which presents an immediate safety hazard.” But a bicycle is not a vehicle, and this section belongs to Division 12, “Equipment of Vehicles,” which does not apply to bicycles.

Impounding vehicles: Vehicle Code sections 22651 through 22711 set forth the authority to impound a vehicle, such as when it’s abandoned or illegally parked, or the driver is incapacitated or arrested. But I see nothing that would authorize what happened in Long Beach. Even in the case of a bicycle that was arguably unsafe for lacking brakes, Section 24004 provides that “No person shall operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles after notice by a peace officer . . . that the vehicle is in an unsafe condition or is not equipped as required by this code, except as may be necessary to return the vehicle or combination of vehicles to the residence or place of business of the owner or driver or to a garage, until the vehicle and its equipment have been made to conform with the requirements of this code.” So the cyclists should at worst have been allowed to ride home–except that this provision, too, belongs to Division 12 and doesn’t apply to bicyclists.

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Speaking of Long Beach, Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy says the city is moving in the right direction, though maybe not as fast as some people would like. The Long Beach Press Telegram provides a quiz on bike rules, along with tips for motorists and cyclists. And Bike Long Beach offers a two-part bike traffic skills course; maybe they can offer similar training for the police department.

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After the Vail District Attorney refuses to press felony charges against a hit-and-run driver because it could jeopardize his job — as if everyone charged with a crime doesn’t face that problem — Cyclelicious calls for a boycott of the city, and asks the organizers of the Quiznos Pro Challenge to drop the planned Vail stage of next year’s inaugural race. Works for me.

Meanwhile, People For Bikes directs your attention to a petition asking the Eagle County CO District Attorney to protect all road users, and BikePortland calls it yet another black eye for bikes in Colorado.

.………

Thanks to soon-to-be former Congressman Jim Oberstar for his support of cycling issues. Not surprisingly, conservatives are already gearing up to push for an auto-centric transportation policy; meanwhile, Richard Risemberg, writing for Orange 20 Bikes,  says fiscal conservatives should be big fans of bicycling.

.………

L.A.’s proposed cyclist anti-harassment ordinance goes before the full City Council at 10 am this Wednesday, November 10, at Downtown City Hall. As long as you’re Downtown, you can join in on the third, and hopefully final, Ed Magos Ride for Justice that takes place on Wednesday at noon.

.………

It only looks like the Give Me 3 posters are starting to come down; then again, you can always download your own poster. Despite claims, L.A.’s bike plan is surprisingly non-ambitious. The students who live in North Westwood Village face some of the worst streets in Los Angeles; thanks to Be A Green Commuter for the link. The Claremont Cyclist offers great photos from the first day of L.A.’s first Griffith Park Cyclocross — as well as a photo of a competitor’s bike that was stolen after the competition; there’s a special place in hell for bike thieves — and here’s another great shot from dudeonabike. Sometimes, it’s not hard to tell that the people responsible for placing bike racks don’t ride themselves. Robbers push a Pasadena teenager off the bike he was riding, and steal it and his cell phone; meanwhile, San Francisco bike thieves slash a cyclist who resisted their robbery attempt, but get caught a few blocks later. Critics file suit against a proposed project to widen Highway 101 through Ventura County — not because in would increase the highway from four to six lanes, but because it includes a bike lane on the ocean side.

Cyclists need dedicated pathways, not shared-use paths that don’t work for anyone; South Carolina cyclists could face a 20 mph speed limit on a popular bike path. The problem with treating bikes equally with other traffic is that traffic laws weren’t written with bikes in mind. A Facebook group says we’re people on bikes, not lifeless obstacles in your way. Do we need a special slowpoke lane on bike paths and sidewalks? Portland plans to upgrade bike boulevards to Neighborhood Greenways. A Utah mother forgives the driver who killed her 11-year old bike riding daughter. A look at the Denver premier of Race Across the Sky, a movie about the 2010 Leadville 100 mountain bike race won by Levi Leipheimer. A Tampa Bay hit-and-run victim shows that no life is unimportant.

UCI rules Alberto Contador will face disciplinary action over his failed drug test. Aussie researchers call for scrapping the country’s mandatory helmet laws. An 18-year old Aussie cyclist, a gold medalist in the Commonwealth Games, is suspended after drunk driving collision that left a friend with serious injuries. Australian police force a teenage cyclist to deflate his tires and walk home after catching him riding without a helmet. A Kiwi cyclist asks if it’s unreasonable to expect off-road riders to be considerate of other trail users — and their dogs.

Finally, No Whip does the inconceivable and discovers the seemingly impossible by riding a bike to LAX to catch a flight, and discovering a bike rack in front of Terminal 1 — and actually finds his bike safe on his return four days later.

And best wishes to Claremont Cyclist, who succumbed to the national job layoff epidemic of today; let’s all hope he gets a bigger, better job soon.

Breaking news: PCH cyclists save two scuba divers from drowning off Malibu coast

Thousands of drivers speed by every day.

But it took a couple of cyclists to hear the cries for help — and save a pair of scuba divers trapped in the unforgiving surf.

Bankruptcy attorney and cyclist Stanley E. Goldich reports that he was on his way back from a ride up PCH on Saturday when he passed a group of riders stopped on the ocean side of the highway near Deer Creek Road.

He saw a number of bicycles on the side of the road, looking like the riders had gone down to the beach, as well as a couple of cyclists with their riding cleats off. While it caught his attention, it didn’t seem like anything was wrong, so he continued riding.

But when a fire truck roared up and stopped at that exact spot, he turned around to check things out.

And what he found surprised him.

He spoke with two women, Martha Hunt and Rachel Hosmer, both triathletes who were on the backside of a ride from Santa Monica to the Rock.

As they rode, they’d heard yells for help that seemed to come from the ocean; when they stopped, they discovered two men in scuba suits trapped in the surf and unable to climb out due to the steep slope of the shore. Their wetsuits had filled with water, and they were drowning as they were dragged down by the undertow and excess weight.

Hunt immediately threw off her bike shoes and made her way down the steep embankment, first pulling out the man closest to her, then going back out to the man further from shore, who seemed to be in greater difficulty.

He proved to be more than she could handle on her own. Fortunately, Hosmer had flagged down another group of passing cyclists, five of whom went into the water to help Hunt pull the drowning man to safety.

Goldich reports that the men were still being treated by firefighters when he left. They were conscious, although clearly in need of medical attention, but should be okay. They reportedly told Hunt that they were training for their scuba certification, and this was only their second time using the equipment.

Thankfully, it may not be their last.

Cyclists may be far from the most popular people in Malibu these days. But I have a feeling that two men and their families are very grateful that Hunt and Hosmer went out for a Saturday ride on PCH.

Unfortunately, Goldich wasn’t able to get their contact information. But if anyone out there knows Martha Hunt or Rachel Hosmer, or any of the other cyclists involved in the rescue, I’d love to hear the story from their perspective.

Both women, and the others involved, are real heroes.

Two men are breathing tonight who might not be without them.

Fixing a dangerous NoHo intersection a little too late; Cyclecross in Griffith Park, events & weekend links

Efforts are underway to get a traffic signal at the North Hollywood intersection where cyclist Robert Painter was killed last December by a heartless driver who fled the scene and left him to die in the street. Unfortunately, it’s too late for two little girls; one killed and the other in critical condition as a result of a driver who hit them in the same marked crosswalk.

Update: Earlier I’d written that the driver who hit the girls had fled the scene, rather than the driver who killed Robert Painter. That was my error; thanks to Michele for calling it to my attention.

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Looks flat, right? Didn't use to.

Greg forwards a photo of the Marina Bike Path between Mindanao and Fiji Ways. It may not look like much, but he says the simple fact that it’s flat is a big improvement as some of the tree roots that have forced the pavement up have been ground down.

On the other hand, it was still pretty bumpy last time I rode through.

.………

In upcoming events:

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Help the South Bay Bicycle Coalition conduct vital a bike count to help prepare for the upcoming South Bay Bike Master Plan on Saturday the 6th from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm; volunteers are still needed. Thanks to Steve Montalto for the heads-up.

Flying Pigeon host their next Brewery Ride to the Eagle Rock Brewery on Saturday, November 6, starting at 3:20 pm at the Flying pigeon LA bike shop on North Figueroa.

Cyclocross racing comes to Griffith Park as the SoCal Cross Prestige Series hits town on Saturday and Sunday, November 6th and 7th, from 9 am to 4 pm both days. The event takes place in the Vermont Canyon Park and Parking Lot next to the Greek Theatre. You’re invited to join in on the 2:30 pm Saturday Fun Cross Relay for Charity, free for LACBC members.

Flying Pigeon invites riders to ride and share a beer with Momentum Magazine co-founders Mia Kohout and Tania Lo on Wednesday, November 10 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm, starting at Flying Pigeon’s North Figueroa location.

Friday and Saturday, November 12th & 13th, celebrate the city’s favorite cuisine by riding your bike to the LA Tamale Throwdown sponsored by the Eastside Bicycle Club at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Rose Hill; free bike valet sponsored by the very busy Flying Pigeon LA bike shop.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on Saturday, November 13th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

On Saturday, November 20th, the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club is tentatively scheduled to hold a memorial ride for James Laing, the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk hit-and-run driver in Agoura Hills on October 23rd. The ride is scheduled to begin at 8 am at the Agoura Hills Bicycle John’s, 29041 Thousand Oaks Blvd; it will have an easy pace to accommodate all riders, and visit the roadside memorial where Laing was killed.

Explore the effects of bicycles on art and culture at Re:Cycle — Bike Culture in Southern California, at U.C. Riverside’s newly relocated Sweeney Art Gallery at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts3834 Main Street in downtown Riverside, exhibition continues through December 31st.

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LADOT Bike Blog offers a detailed report on Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting; sorry I missed it earlier. Stephen Box says cyclists should have input into the selection of the new LADOT chief or City Hall will once again face the wrath of the riders. Thanks to the efforts of cyclists and local residents, Burbank’s Verdugo Avenue road diet survives for at least another six months. Get a discount at Local in Silver Lake when you ride your bike. Bicycle Fixation considers the last patch job on the massive 4th Street pothole known as the Hudson River. The Inland Empire Women Cyclists celebrated Halloween with their Great Pumpkin Ride; thanks to the Claremont Cyclist for the link. San Francisco holds their Bike Expo on Saturday. The cyclist killed by a big rig near Portola Valley on Thursday was a nurse, mother and avid cyclist out to make the roads safer; every death on the roads leaves a hole in someone’s world. A Petaluma writer says fix the roads first and screw the proposed bike boulevard.

A Times writer takes a sunrise bike ride down Maui’s Haleakala volcano; personally, I’d rather ride in Barcelona or maybe visit a shrine to the patron saint of cyclists. More on the culture clash dividing the nation’s largest cycling club. A roadway confrontation in the Colorado high country results in the conviction of both the driver and a cyclist. The mysterious Muskegon bike artist strikes again. A Connecticut garage owner graphically demonstrates the dangers of distracted driving. The Philadelphia-based hipster bicycle video game you’ve been waiting for will soon be available from the Apple App Store. South Carolina’s car-free Bicycle City breaks ground next month; now that I think about it, BikingInSC has a ring to it.

British bike deaths declined 10% last year, but rose the first part of this year. An innovative bike anti-theft device is being tested in Portsmouth, UK; if someone tries to move the bike it triggers a security camera. Definition of irony: A Brit cyclist is run over by a trailer full of London’s Boris Bikes. A presumably dope-free Floyd Landis finishes 4th in New Zealand’s Tour of Southland. An Aussie driver who killed a former cricket star who was riding with friends loses his license and gets a whopping $900 fine; of course, that coverts to a much stiffer $913 U.S.

Finally, how to terrorize an entire city on two wheels; gravity is the only law you have to obey. Then again, the Eagle County CO District Attorney really knows how to terrorize a community, as a Vail-area driver escapes felony charges for seriously injuring a cyclist in a hit-and-run because a conviction could hurt his ability to earn a living.

No, seriously.

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