A call for tougher hit-and-run laws; cycling legend Gino Bartali hid family from Nazis during WWII

Tuesday night, yet another person was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver — this time, a pedestrian in Playa del Rey.

Just the latest in a long, long list of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as others, killed by cowards who lack the basic human decency to stop and render aid as required by law.

Let alone just see if their victim is still alive.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado law actually makes it wiser for drivers who’ve been drinking to flee the scene, rather than risk a higher penalty for drunk driving; chances are, they’ll sober up before the police ever track them down.

I’ve long argued exactly the same point holds true right here in the late great formerly Golden State.

That’s because California’s stiff penalties for drunk driving far outweigh the relatively light penalties for hit-and-run. Many drivers don’t even lose their license after leaving an injured motorist, pedestrian or cyclist lying in their wake; something Bikeside has tried to address with their Life Before License campaign.

Personally, I think LB4L is a good start.

I just don’t think it goes far enough.

What we need is law that makes license revocation an administrative process, rather than judicial, so that hit-and-run drivers will lose their licenses regardless of whether or not they’re convicted. And make it automatic, so that the license is permanently revoked — not suspended — as soon as it’s shown that a driver has the scene of a collision. By leaving the scene, their actions have already proven they’re unfit to be behind the wheel.

Then make them go before a judge for permission to apply for a provisional license — and only after any sentence has been served.

But as we’ve seen, the lack of a license isn’t always enough to stop some people from getting behind the wheel.

As a result, any car used in a hit-and-run should be impounded as soon as an arrest is made. Then if the driver is convicted, the car should be seized by the state and sold, with the proceeds used to compensate the victim.

After all, it’s been used to in the actual commission of a crime.

Robbers and murderers aren’t allowed to keep their guns after they’re convicted; a car used in a hit-and-run shouldn’t be treated any differently. And California law already permits the seizure of any vehicles used for drug crimes or to solicit prostitution.

Isn’t leaving someone dead or bleeding on the side of the road just a little more serious than offering money for a blow job?

Maybe when drivers face the prospect of making payments for the next several years to pay off a car they no longer own, they might think twice about hitting the gas instead of the brakes.

And maybe then, finally, they’ll actually stick around after a collision.

.………

On a related subject, NY Streetsblog responds to outraged NIMBY’s complaining about dangerous bike lanes by showing where the real danger comes from, with a devastating list of cyclists and pedestrians killed on the city’s streets in 2010.

Meanwhile, Treehugger asks why not aim for zero deaths?

My thoughts exactly. Our only goal should be to make sure the last cyclist or pedestrian killed on our streets really is the last one.

.………

More evidence that Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia and two-time winner of the Tour de France, was a genuine hero of the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Bartali used his bike to smuggle documents on behalf of Italian Jews during the Nazi occupation. Now comes word that he also hid a family of Jews in his cellar for nearly two years, saving their lives at the risk of his own.

These days, when the internet and sports section seems to bring more bad bike news with every passing day, it’s nice to be reminded what a real cycling hero is.

.………

Join the LACBC for the first monthly Sunday Funday Ride with the Valley Pride Ride at noon this Sunday starting at Los Encinos State Park, led by board member Heidi Zeller; the ride is free for members and a guest.

Speaking of which, I’ll be hosting the next one with a four-city, 35 +/- mile tour of the Westside on Super Bowl Sunday.

And L.A. Critical Mass rolls on New Years Eve, just in time to confront the many, many drunks on the road.

.………

I got an email earlier today from someone looking for a 64-65 cm lugged steel bike frame, or possibly a full bike; he says an ’80s era Trek 720 frame would be ideal, but he’s open to anything that meets those specs. If you have one you’re willing to part with, or know where he can find one, let me know and I’ll forward the information.

.………

More on the teenage cyclist shot to death in South L.A. last night. Damien Newton names the Livable Streets People of the Year, as well as the year’s many low lights. The city may — or may not — be liable for injuries or damage caused by potholes; Council President Eric Garcetti directs you to the right form to file your claim. Bike lanes may come to Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills next year; thanks should go to Better Bike Beverly Hills. Stanley Goldich forwards a spectacular photo of the recent storm damage. Bob Mionske points out you could be arrested if you’re stopped by a cop for a traffic violation and can’t produce ID. Cyclelicious lists the top 10 bike stories of 2010.

A comprehensive list of Twitter bike hashtags for cities around the world from my new friends at Bike Commute News. The tax benefits of riding to work. Motorists may be facing a crisis of confidence as the former(?) alpha dogs of transportation. An interview with leading bike advocate Elly Blue on women, cycling and why Portland still has a way to go. Even Seattle cyclists have to deal with snow this year. Just one of 16 bike/ped bridges in the Twin Cities. Michigan adopts a Complete Streets policy. A 17-year old Ohio man is under arrest, suspected of intentionally stalking and killing a cyclist. Mapping crash data to build awareness of bike danger areas.

Now you can have a Porsche of your very own, without sacrificing cycling. Road.cc looks back on the highs and lows of the 2010 racing season, while VeloNews offers a complete calendar of 2011 racing events. Turns out that Aussie study that showed the country’s mandatory helmet law did not reduce head injuries contained “serious arithmetic and data plotting errors.” A bad knee will keep Lance out of a Kiwi triathlon, but he still plans to race with his RadioShack team in the Tour Down Under. An Israeli cyclist is sentenced to three months in jail for allegedly organizing a 2008 Critical Mass ride; thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.

Finally, more on the Dutch cyclist disqualified from the 2012 Paralympics after miraculously regaining use of her legs — remarkably, after being hit by another cyclist on a training ride.

3 comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bike Commute News. Bike Commute News said: RT @bikinginla: A call for tougher hit-and-run laws; '30s cycling legend G Bartali hid Jewish family from Nazis http://bit.ly/i8u30j #bikela […]

  2. DC says:

    Your interest in tougher penalties for hit and run offenses is laudable however there are fewer people willing to take personal responsibility and I don’t anticipate a change in the law will occur.
    There are too many impaired drivers, unlicensed drivers and uninsured drivers that will run from the accident scene. Most believe they have little to lose if they leave the scene of an accident, and a few car payments on a vehicle they no longer own won’t make a measurable difference.
    Then there is the issue of illegal aliens who hit and run. This group will be up in arms if they believe they are unfairly targeted and the race card will be dealt.
    Good commentary. Keep dreaming.

  3. […] We Need to Stiffen Hit and Run Laws (Biking In L.A.) […]

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