Archive for April 26, 2011

Valencia trial nears conclusion, CA 3-foot law moves forward, NY Post absurdly fans the bikelash flames

Dj Wheels reports that the trial has resumed in the case of Marco Antonio Valencia, charged with murder and hit-and-run, among other charges, in the death of Joseph Novotny and the serious injury of three other riders.

According to Wheels, the prosecution has rested their case, and the defense is expected to conclude today after calling a single witness.

The defense’s expert witness, Dr. Ari Kalechstein, a neuro-psychologist who has testified in numerous other trials about the effect of intoxication on the brain and the effect on behavior, offered the opinion that Valencia was “unconscious” (either blacked out or passed out) at the time of the collision with the cyclists.

The prosecution’s cross examination has begun and will resume tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 10:30am.  So far, the prosecution is attempting to establish that although someone is “unconscious” (i.e. blacked out) they can still be aware of what they are doing.  Also that despite the expert’s opinion, he can not provide the jury with any indication of what was going on in the mind of Valencia at the time of the collision.

After the defense rests, the judge and attorneys will have to confer about the appropriate jury instructions to read to the jury before closing arguments begin.

Hopefully they get through it all tomorrow so the jury can start deliberating.

The Signal reports on the same testimony, and notes Valencia faces 27 year to life if convicted on the murder charge.

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Jim Lyle reports that the news is good for Richard Schlickman, the cyclist injured recently in a fall caused by new speed bumps in Palos Verdes Estates, as he has been moved to a rehab facility and is talking up a storm. Meanwhile, no change in the condition of Adam Rybicki, critically injured in a collision with an alleged drunk, under-aged driver.

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California’s proposed three-foot passing law makes it onto the legislative agenda; provisions also include a requirement that drivers pass riders at no more than 15 mph above the speed of the bike, with a fine of $250 for violations. Meanwhile, Kansas cyclists get a shiny new three-foot passing law of their very own; that brings the total up to 17 states with a three-foot law.

And it could soon be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while you ride.

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What kind of a jerk would steal a bike from a teenager with Downs Syndrome? As I’ve said before, there’s a special place in hell…

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Now you can round up your credit and debit card purchases, and contribute the difference to the Bikes Belong Foundation to support projects like People for Bikes and Safe Routes to School.

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The bike-hating New York Post once again smears Gotham cyclists, noting that 24% of riders they observed in bike lanes at a busy intersection ran red lights — but fails to note that the overwhelming majority didn’t. According to the paper, fifteen percent rode the wrong way or swerved in and out of bike lanes; yet once again, they neglect to mention that 85% stayed in the lanes and rode with traffic. Or the distinct possibility that cyclists swerved out of bike lanes because they were blocked by the city’s famously double-parking drivers or pedestrians who use the bike lane as an extra sidewalk.

They also get their hackles up over the 81 cyclists out of 7,182 riders — just over 1% — who rode on the sidewalk; something tells me a lot more drivers than that parked in the bike lane. And of course, when they describe an average of four near-collisions an hour, they fail to note who was at fault, absurdly implying that the cyclists were to blame in every case.

In a textbook example of pot calling kettle black an editorial today, the paper says “far too many cyclists are clueless, boors or bullies,” and calls for a continued crackdown on New York cyclists.

You have to admire a publication with such a firm commitment not to let facts or rationality sully their pages.

Meanwhile, some New York cyclists consider the city’s separated bike lanes “deathtraps;” however, the Wall Street Journal notes that the number of riders killed in them totals exactly zero.

And much-maligned NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joins the board of Occidental College; could this be a first step in coming back home to Los Angeles?

Pretty please?

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Will Campbell shares a photo of the ghost bike for shooting victim Manuel Santizo. LACBC wants your support for bike lanes on the soon-to-be-widened North Spring Street Bridge. LAPD bike cops could soon be zipping around on e-bikes. Streetsblog notes that removing Brentwood and the Westwood condo corridor reduces the effectiveness of the planned Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit lane by 40% — not to mention putting cyclists, who would share those lanes, at continued risk in some of the most dangerous sections of the boulevard. HuffPo offers a biking route from Echo Park to Venice Beach. Gather some friends together make your own Santa Monica CicLAvia. Help take CicLAvia to South L.A. Dancer ala Mode says her new career as a bike advocate began when someone stole her bike. Next time you need your Penny Farthing fixed, Flying Pigeon can handle the job.

Rick Risemberg visits the new separated bike lanes in Long Beach; Mihai and Gary Kavanagh seem impressed as well. A Monrovia High student nears a perfect season in the SoCal high school mountain bike league. Great bike photos from the Claremont Day of Champions. Bicycling’s ride of the day is our own Mt. Baldy. Long Beach’s biking expats Russ Roca and Laura Crawford are the proud owners of Bike Radar’s website of the week. A 17-year old OC cyclist riding on the 405 Freeway gets a good talking to from the police. A San Diego cyclist suffers a life-threatening injury after being doored by a driver getting out of her parked car.

A comprehensive beginners guide to bicycling. How bike economics can help beat the energy crisis. Wired looks at the culture of bike messengers. Complete Streets means the freedom to get around the way you want. A bike hating Tucson driver considers switching sides. Former president George W. Bush rides with the Wounded Warrior Project. Illinois police will now track dooring incidents, after originally saying they couldn’t. Minnesota reminds drivers to share the road after the state suffers its first cycling fatality of the year. A new campaign identifies bike-friendly businesses in New York; something tells me the Post won’t be one of them. Mo Rocca says when the U.S. becomes a third world country, we’ll all be riding bikes; hey, works for me.

Male drivers are twice as likely to have distracted-driving collisions as women. A London cabbie starts a campaign against high-intensity headlights, saying they put cyclists and others at risk by blinding drivers. An 81-year old UK man is killed in a collision with a cyclist. BoJo will be giving Will and Kate a tandem for a wedding present. Pharma Lotto rider Phillipe Gilbert wins three classics in a single week, though some question if the Schleck brothers handed the last one to him. Tel Aviv is the latest city to suffer a bikelash over bike lanes. South Jakarta gets its first bike lanes, though it looks more like motorcycle parking in the photos.

Finally, New York state police pepper spray a drunk cyclist. And a member of New York’s Transportation Alternatives board of directors says cyclists need to show we’ll use bike lanes responsibly; if drivers were held to that standard, no new roads would ever be built.

Two more bike deaths add to a bloody spring

Just two days after writing about the unacceptably high rate of cycling deaths on SoCal streets, we have two more to add to the list.

One was killed in an apparent solo collision Friday night; the other succumbed earlier this month to injuries suffered last November.

In the most recent case, a man was found lying dead on top of his bike on the side of the road in Coachella, at the intersection of Avenue 50 and Peter Rabbit Lane. Despite initial reports of a hit-and-run, police investigators concluded that the rider, who has not been publicly identified, was the victim of a solo collision.

According to KPSP-2, the victim was riding on the sidewalk at a high rate of speed about 8:03 pm Friday when he collided with a traffic light pole. Police investigators suggest he lost control of his bike after gaining speed on the downhill side of a railroad track overpass.

A police spokesperson indicates that the victim’s bike did not have an “operable brake system” or front headlight; that probably means he was riding a fixie, in which the fixed gearing itself can be used to stop the bike.

In the other case, 22-year old cyclist Marco Acuapan died on April 8th, over 4 months after he was injured in a Tustin hit-and-run.

Acuapan was riding west in a marked bike lane on Walnut Avenue near Browning Avenue about 7:30 pm on Wednesday, November 17th when he was rear-ended by red 2010 Mustang, which fled the scene. He suffered severe head injuries and taken to a hospital in critical condition, remaining in a coma until his death this month.

Witnesses provided police with a description and the license number of the car, which police later found abandoned in nearby cul-de-sac; Renato Demartino was arrested at his home on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

Demartino is currently released on bond on charges of felony hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury, unsafe turn or lane change, and not using headlights after dark. No word yet on when charges will be upgraded to reflect the victim’s death.

That makes 26 cycling deaths in Southern California this year; 23 resulting from collisions after the first of the year, and 2 from shootings while riding.

Thanks to Rick Risemberg for the tip on the Coachella collision, and an anonymous tipster for the information about Acuapan’s death and charges against Demartino.

An ever growing list of bike happenings, including a busy Easter weekend

The list of upcoming events gets longer every week, with five events this weekend and seven next week.

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

Join Bike SGV on the Earth Day Community Bike Ride in Monterey Park on Saturday, April 23rd from 7:30 am to 9 am, beginning and ending at Barnes Park.

There will be a car wash on Saturday, April 23rd to benefit the family of Manuel Santizo, who was killed in an apparent gang shooting while riding his bike in Silver Lake. It will take place from 8 am to 6 pm at 1185 Myra Avenue near Effie Street.

Long Beach hosts the official grand opening of their new separated bikeways on the Promenade between Broadway and Third on Saturday, April 23rd from 11 am to 2 pm, with the opening ceremony at noon.  Events include a scavenger hunt, bike rodeo, guided bike tours, bike decoration and a screening of Riding Bikes with the Dutch.

Also on Saturday, there will be a pancake breakfast at LAFD Fire Station 69 at 15045 Sunset Blvd in Pacific Palisades to raise funds for four local firefighters planning to participate in the 3,300 mile cross-country Ride for 9-11 to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

The San Fernando Bicycle Club will be hosting a memorial ride this Sunday, April 24th in honor of Jim Swarzman. The ride will follow Jim’s favorite route with the club, offering a challenging 40 mile ride with over 2,000 feet of climbing; it starts at 8 am at the NW corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge.

Thursday, April 28th, help craft the Glendale Bikeway Master Plan at the first community meeting for the updated plan. The meeting will be held at the Glendale Central Library, 222 East Harvard Street from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Also on the 28th, L.A.’s draft Bike Parking Ordinance will be presented to the L.A. Planning Commission at 10 am Downtown City Hall; comments are still being taken through April 19th attom.rothmann@lacity.org or 213-978-1891.

Attention Boss fans — take in select screenings of the new Bruce Springsteen documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town at a Laemmle Theatre near you, and half of all ticket sales will go to benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, April 28th, 30th, May 1st and 2nd.

Sustainable Streets and Transition Culver City will be hosting a Confident City Cycling course for adult riders. The two-day course is intended to help bike riders gain the confidence and skill to ride a bike safely and legally in city traffic. The $75 course is limited to 12 people, and takes place Saturday, April 30th and Saturday, May 7th at 10 am to 2 pm at Linwood E. Howe Elementary School, 4100 Irving Place in Culver City; preregister at info@sustainablestreetsla.org.

On Saturday, April 30th, the Conejo Valley Cyclists presents Cruisin’ the Conejo, offering rides from 21 mile to a 101 mile route that follows last year’s final leg of the Tour of California. The ride begins at the Skyworks parking lot located at 2504 W. Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks (aka Newbury Park); register online through April 28th.

The Dana Point Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, May 1st, featuring a .8 mile criterium; the start/finish will be located at the intersection of PCH and Del Prado in Dana Point.

If you can’t make it to Dana Point, don’t miss the May edition of the LACBC’s Sunday Funday Rides, with a tour of historic Northwest and Northeast L.A.; riders assemble at the Echo Park Boathouse at 9:30 am on May 1st.

Also on Sunday, May 1st, the Tour de Cure Ship to Shore rolls across the Vincent Thomas and Gerald Desmond bridges, starting from the Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway in Long Beach. Routes range from 8 to 100 miles, as well as an 11-mile route ending with a harbor cruise back to the starting point; in addition to the entry fee, riders are required to raise a minimum $150 in donations to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Thanks to GVDub for the reminder.

Monday, May 2nd, Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets is sponsoring a free Bicycle Commuter Tips Workshop from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Sycamore Room of the Pacific Park Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave in Glendale. Topics include planning your route, what to do with work clothes, how to carry things and basic gear.

The Antelope Valley Conservancy sponsors the 16th Annual Antelope Valley Ride on Saturday, May 7th with rides of 20, 30 and 60 miles; check-in begins at 7 am at George Lane Park, 5520 West Avenue L-8 in Quartz Hill.

Also on Saturday, May 7th, celebrate the intersection of art, the environment and bicycling at the 20th Anniversary Santa Monica Fest, offering free admission, parking and bike valet. A special bike zone includes bike repair and maintenance advice from the Bikerowave, a Bike Learning Area sponsored by the City of Santa Monica Planning and Community Development, a Bike Exhibition with Santa Monica Spoke and a Ticket to Ride from the Santa Monica Museum of Art. It takes place from 11 am to 6 pm at Cloverfield Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica; free bike valet at 25th and Ocean Park.

Meet the members of Team HTC-Highroad before they compete in the Amgen Tour of California when Cynergy Cycles sponsors An Evening in Fast Company on Monday, May 9th from 6 to 10 pm to benefit the Right to Play organization. Your $100 donation includes dinner, drinks, raffle and gift card; 2300 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica.

Also on Monday, May 9nd, Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets sponsors a free Basic Bike Repair Workshop from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Auditorium of the Glendale Central Library, 501 S. Pacific Ave in Glendale. Topics include planning your route, what to do with work clothes, how to carry things and basic gear.

On Thursday, May 12th, there will be a party  to benefit the California Bicycle Coalition and preview the new state-of-the-art Bike Stations at Bikestation Long Beach, 211 E. 1st Street at the Promenade in Long Beach, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

The annual Long Beach Bicycle Festival takes place on Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th in Downtown Long Beach. The festivities include the Tour of Long Beach on Saturday, May 14th with rides of 4, 31 and 61 miles to benefit Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city. This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place as part of Bike Week from 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street. And Metro is looking for Bike Buddies to guide inexperienced cyclists on Bike to Work Day.

The San Diego Century ride takes place on Saturday, May 21st with rides of 37, 66 or 103 miles, starting in Encinitas, along with free admission to an expo featuring sports, local cuisine and live music.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Rideadvance registration is open now. Volunteers are needed now and on the day of the ride, email RRvolunteer@la-bike.org for more info and to sign up.

The next two CicLAvias will take place on July 10th and October 9th; anyone who was at the one last Sunday probably doesn’t need a reminder to mark their calendars.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th, unless you happen to be an observant Jew, since it falls on Yom Kippur this year.

More on fallen cyclist Alex Romero, a good guy wins & thanks for supporting Safe Routes to Schools

KABC-7 offers more information on the hit-and-run death of Alex Romero.

Evidently, the driver who hit him had tried to pass a van on the right side when it collided with Romero’s bike at a high rate of speed. Local residents say De Soto is a de facto racetrack from Sherman Way to Saticoy Street, referring to it as a deathtrap. Evidently, they’re right, as witnesses reported the killer car was travelling at highway speeds — reports online vary from 66 to 100 mph.

In a report that oddly wasn’t posted online, KNBC-4 reports that the driver may have been being followed or chased by another car.

Police are looking for a gray or silver — the latest report called it a metallic gray — Toyota Corolla or Camry with moderate to significant damage to the front passenger side. Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Krajchir at (818) 644-8034 or email 26481@lapd.lacity.org. Or call LAPD at (877) LAPD-24-7; anonymous calls can be made to Crimestoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

The Claremont Cyclist said it very well

How long will we continue to allow the irresponsible, anti-social driving practices of certain individuals, who care not for the lives of any other road users, to be given free reign, to leave trails of death and destruction and shattered lives, across our roads and highways?

Rest in Peace Mr. Romero, and my condolences to family and friends.

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Congratulations to LADOT’s Chris Kidd, named Student of the Year by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Planning Association. The award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person. Just more proof that this is one employee the city can’t afford to lose when his internship with LADOT is up next month.

Just a hint.

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As of 10 am Friday, the Safe Routes to School 2012 Southern California Regional Platform had been endorsed by 77 people — two more and three weeks earlier than the original goal of 75 set for May 15th.

I recognize a lot of the names on that list as regular readers of this site, so please accept my personal thanks to everyone who signed after reading about it here. And to anyone who hasn’t signed up yet, there’s still time.

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File under the heading of they just don’t get it. After a Brooklyn board votes against bike lanes on the Bay Ridge Parkway, a writer for the Brooklyn Eagle insists that those opposed to the proposal aren’t primitive antediluvians who reject anything not propelled by an internal combustion engine.

Biking here is great, especially along the Shore Road Narrows Promenade. Spectacular! I have two bikes, but find it impossible to ride safely along local avenues because they were not constructed to accommodate designated bike lanes in the first place!

Is it just me, or do the problems inherent in that statement just sort of leap out at you?

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Joel Epstein says tear down the fence blocking access to a park at Santa Monica and Bundy, and add a Metro TAP card kiosk and bike parking. Josef Bray-Ali says they start cyclists early at USC; now if school would just show the same support to more adult riders. Take a CicLAvia survey and you could win a $200 gift certificate from Flying Pigeon Bike Shop — which is enough to get you a Flying Pigeon of your very own. Metro’s rush hour bike ban is one step closer to repeal, and L.A. City Planning wins an award for the newly approved L.A. bike plan. Four L.A. firefighters will ride across the country on a 45-day journey to honor those who lost their lives on 9-11. Streetsblog is auctioning a signed Give Me 3 poster online. Jack Black goes bike shopping at I. Martin. Glendale’s city council officially adopts the city’s new Safe and Healthy Streets Plan on a unanimous vote.

Joe Linton give a positive review to Long Beach’s new separated bike lanes, officially opening on Saturday; if you want to understand the meaning of bikelash, read the driver comments on the Linton story. The Long Beach City Council moves to honor Mark Bixby by naming the bike paths he worked so hard to get on the new replacement for the Desmond Gerald Bridge after him. Police escort a cyclist off the 405 Freeway in Orange County after he’d ridden four miles on the highway; a CHP officer struggles with another highway rider in Chico. Cruise the Conejo Valley on April 30th. New York and Long Beach aren’t the only cities with bike lane controversies, as Visalia votes to keep bike lanes on a pair of streets, despite complaints. The Big Sur stage of the Amgen Tour of California is threatened by slides undermining Highway 1 along the coast. A decision has been postponed on a proposed 5 – 10 mph speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge. Here’s your chance to Race Behind Bars at Folsom Prison if you’re sure they’ll let you back out.

Just in time for Earth Day, Trek plans to start recycling carbon fiber. Mia Birk writes that stop signs don’t work for bikes. A nice thought, every month is bike month. A new business in my home town plans to combine a bar, coffee shop and bike shop; totally works for me. What if the car had been invented before the bicycle? A Yuma paper offers an example of press bias, as a cyclist riding on a separated bike path gets right hooked, then blamed. A Memphis mother says connected bike lanes are the right kind of change. NTDOT offers a simple five-point pledge for better bike behavior; NY Streetsblog says combined with the upcoming “Don’t Be A Jerk” campaign, it sends the wrong message. The value of a human life is just $250 in Florida, as long as that human rides a bike.

A new poll says one in ten would give up bicycling if helmet use is made mandatory. A UK women’s race is disrupted by a hit-and-run driver and a tack-strewing saboteur. The head of the UK’s AA — equivalent to our AAA, not Alcoholics Anonymous — defends the organizations recent helmet and hi-vis vest giveaway following a Twitterstorm of protest from cyclists. Town Mouse takes a lovely scary ride home under a placebo moon, without encountering any creatures of the night. A cyclist complains about biking’s cult of fear. An interview with the Brazilian driver who plowed through the Critical Mass ride that injured at least 17 people; not surprisingly, he says it really wasn’t his fault.

Finally, Copenhagen’s Sperm Bike makes special deliveries to fertility clinics. And the cutest sharrow T-shirt model you’ll ever see.

A busy weekend means I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update the events this week, so just in case, please accept my wishes for a happy Passover, a joyous Easter or just a lovely spring weekend, whichever is appropriate.

The sad stats behind this year’s rash of Southern California bike deaths

I’ve started a database to track information about biking fatalities throughout the Southern California area.

It’s not just morbid curiosity.

I’ve gotten tired of people blaming cyclists for the unacceptably high rate of riding deaths, and wanted to be able to respond to baseless accusations with actual, factual statistics. And I want to be able to offer more than just anecdotes when arguing for better bike safety measures before various state and local bodies.

So far, it’s complete for this year only, from January 1st to date. As time allows, I plan to go back through my files and include every riding fatality I can find for the last few years.

If you know of a bike rider who was killed in Southern California — which for the purpose of this exercise I’m defining as anywhere between Santa Maria south to the Mexican border — prior to this year, feel free to send me the information or a link to the news story to ensure I don’t miss it.

I’ve been debating whether to share that information, though. In some ways, I think there’s too much focus here on the tragedies on our streets, especially this year with the rash of riding deaths we’ve seen. Lord knows, I’d much rather discuss happier topics.

However, I believe very strongly that that every fallen rider should be remembered. And that nothing will change if we don’t call attention to it — because no one else is likely to if we don’t.

However, that decision was made for me when Steve Vance, author of Steve Can Plan — one of the nation’s leading biking and transportation planning blogs — asked for more information following last night’s tragic death of Alex Romero.

And as long as I shared the information with him, I might as well share it with you.*

• Wednesday’s tragic hit-and-run death of Alex Romero was the 24th fatality of a cyclist in Southern California this year; 22 in traffic incidents or riding accidents and two by shootings while riding.

• Of those killed in traffic, 11 were the fault of the driver, the cyclist was at fault in nine, and two were undtermined; in two of the 11 collisions where the driver was at fault, poor street design may have been a contributing cause.

• Two cyclists died in solo collisions; one additional rider lost control and fell in front of an oncoming car.

• Two cyclists were killed by trains while crossing railroad tracks.

• Three were killed while riding on the sidewalk.

• Two died while riding without lights after dark, one was riding on wrong side of street.

• Despite common accusations against cyclists, none died as a result of running stop signs or red lights.

•Four of the deaths were hit-and-runs.

•At least five involved drugs and/or alcohol — four drivers, 1 cyclist — though we can safely assume that some of the hit-and-runs were likely committed under the influence, as well.

• Location, by county (includes shootings):

  • Los Angeles – 8
  • Orange County – 4
  • San Diego – 7
  • Ventura – 1
  • Santa Barbara – 2
  • Riverside – 2

• The current rate projects to 83 cyclists dying on the streets of Southern California in 2011, compared to an average of 100 deaths throughout the state each year.

* A quick note about necessary biases in my methodology. This database contains all the fatal cycling incidents of which I am aware; any incidents which failed to make the news or which I did not learn about by other means cannot be included here. In assigning fault, I accepted the determination of the investigating authorities where available, even when that was questionable; where no official determination was available, I made my own determination based on the information on hand. In the event of a hit-and-run, I assigned blame to the driver in the absence of any conflicting information.

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Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that the trial of Marco Antonio Valencia is on hold until next week, and could conclude as early on Monday. He speculates that the defense attorney is building an argument that Valencia was too intoxicated to appreciate the danger he posed behind the wheel, negating the required intent for conviction under the murder charge for the hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny

However, even if the defense is successful in convincing the jury that Valencia was too wasted to know what the hell he was doing — or more accurately, the risk that he posed — his client still faces as much as 20 years on the other charges and numerous probation violations.

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The San Fernando Bicycle Club will be hosting a memorial ride on Sunday in honor of Jim Swarzman. The ride — Jim’s favorite with the club — will start at 8 am at the NW corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge; it will be a challenging 40 mile ride, with over 2,000 feet of climbing.

And yes, it is open to everyone.

Speaking of Swarzman, plans are in the works to improve road safety on Hwy 101 where he was killed by a hit-and-run driver; unfortunately, it comes a little too late.

And the LACBC reports receiving over $2500 in donations made in Swarzman’s name following the request of his family and his fiancé Nicole Honda’s request that donations be made to the LACBC in lieu of flowers. Honda also asked that anyone touched by Swarzman’s story get involved by joining the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition or the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

Donations can be made by PayPal or sent directly to the LACBC; indicate that it is for the Swarzman fund when you make your donation. You can make a difference on our streets by joining the LACBC, or giving a gift of membership to a friend or loved one, by clicking here.

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The bike rider who was bumped by a car, then fatally shot by a passenger in an apparent gang killing on Sunday, has been identified as 28-year old Manuel Santizo. According to KCBS-2, no arrests have been made.

Writing on the Midnight Ridazz forum, Aktive reports that Santizo was a hard-working man who gave most of the money from his job at Jack in the Box to his parents, and to the mother of his four-year old son. A ghost bike will be installed at the scene on Friday, while a car wash will be held on Saturday to benefit his family. Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up.

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Best wishes to Eric B, who’s sporting a new sling and a broken collarbone after becoming collateral damage in a bike racing collision last weekend.

The sad stats behind this year’s rash of Southern California bike deaths

I’ve started a database to track information about biking fatalities throughout the Southern California area.

It’s not just morbid curiosity.

I’ve gotten tired of people blaming cyclists for the unacceptably high rate of riding deaths, and wanted to be able to respond to baseless accusations with actual, factual statistics. And I want to be able to offer more than just anecdotes when arguing for better bike safety measures before various state and local bodies.

So far, it’s complete for this year only, from January 1st to date. As time allows, I plan to go back through my files and include every riding fatality I can find for the last few years.

If you know of a bike rider who was killed in Southern California — which for the purpose of this exercise I’m defining as anywhere between Santa Maria south to the Mexican border — prior to this year, feel free to send me the information or a link to the news story to ensure I don’t miss it.

I’ve been debating whether to share that information, though. In some ways, I think there’s too much focus here on the tragedies on our streets, especially this year with the rash of riding deaths we’ve seen. Lord knows, I’d much rather discuss happier topics.

However, I believe very strongly that that every fallen rider should be remembered. And that nothing will change if we don’t call attention to it — because no one else is likely to if we don’t.

However, that decision was made for me when Steve Vance, author of Steve Can Plan — one of the nation’s leading biking and transportation planning blogs — asked for more information following last night’s tragic death of Alex Romero.

And as long as I shared the information with him, I might as well share it with you.*

• Wednesday’s tragic hit-and-run death of Alex Romero was the 24th fatality of a cyclist in Southern California this year; 22 in traffic incidents or riding accidents and two by shootings while riding.

• Of those killed in traffic, 11 were the fault of the driver, the cyclist was at fault in nine, and two were undtermined; in two of the 11 collisions where the driver was at fault, poor street design may have been a contributing cause.

• Two cyclists died in solo collisions; one additional rider lost control and fell in front of an oncoming car.

• Two cyclists were killed by trains while crossing railroad tracks.

• Three were killed while riding on the sidewalk.

• Two died while riding without lights after dark, one was riding on wrong side of street.

• Despite common accusations against cyclists, none died as a result of running stop signs or red lights.

•Four of the deaths were hit-and-runs.

•At least five involved drugs and/or alcohol — four drivers, 1 cyclist — though we can safely assume that some of the hit-and-runs were likely committed under the influence, as well.

• Location, by county (includes shootings):

  • Los Angeles – 8
  • Orange County – 4
  • San Diego – 7
  • Ventura – 1
  • Santa Barbara – 2
  • Riverside – 2

• The current rate projects to 83 cyclists dying on the streets of Southern California in 2011, compared to an average of 100 deaths throughout the state each year.

* A quick note about necessary biases in my methodology. This database contains all the fatal cycling incidents of which I am aware; any incidents which failed to make the news or which I did not learn about by other means cannot be included here. In assigning fault, I accepted the determination of the investigating authorities where available, even when that was questionable; where no official determination was available, I made my own determination based on the information on hand. In the event of a hit-and-run, I assigned blame to the driver in the absence of any conflicting information.

.………

Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that the trial of Marco Antonio Valencia is on hold until next week, and could conclude as early on Monday. He speculates that the defense attorney is building an argument that Valencia was too intoxicated to appreciate the danger he posed behind the wheel, negating the required intent for conviction under the murder charge for the hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny

However, even if the defense is successful in convincing the jury that Valencia was too wasted to know what the hell he was doing — or more accurately, the risk that he posed — his client still faces as much as 20 years on the other charges and numerous probation violations.

.………

The San Fernando Bicycle Club will be hosting a memorial ride on Sunday in honor of Jim Swarzman. The ride — Jim’s favorite with the club — will start at 8 am at the NW corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge; it will be a challenging 40 mile ride, with over 2,000 feet of climbing.

And yes, it is open to everyone.

Speaking of Swarzman, plans are in the works to improve road safety on Hwy 101 where he was killed by a hit-and-run driver; unfortunately, it comes a little too late.

And the LACBC reports receiving over $2500 in donations made in Swarzman’s name following the request of his family and his fiancé Nicole Honda’s request that donations be made to the LACBC in lieu of flowers. Honda also asked that anyone touched by Swarzman’s story get involved by joining the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition or the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

Donations can be made by PayPal or sent directly to the LACBC; indicate that it is for the Swarzman fund when you make your donation. You can make a difference on our streets by joining the LACBC, or giving a gift of membership to a friend or loved one, by clicking here.

.………

The bike rider who was bumped by a car, then fatally shot by a passenger in an apparent gang killing on Sunday, has been identified as 28-year old Manuel Santizo. According to KCBS-2, no arrests have been made.

Writing on the Midnight Ridazz forum, Aktive reports that Santizo was a hard-working man who gave most of the money from his job at Jack in the Box to his parents, and to the mother of his four-year old son. A ghost bike will be installed at the scene on Friday, while a car wash will be held on Saturday to benefit his family. Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up.

.………

Best wishes to Eric B, who’s sporting a new sling and a broken collarbone after becoming collateral damage in a bike racing collision last weekend.

Dear God, not again — 17 year old cyclist murdered by hit-and-run driver

Just a week after Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman was laid to rest, another cyclist has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, this time on the streets of Canoga Park.

In a case that brings to mind year’s tragic death of teenage rider Danny Marin, a 17-year high school senior identified as Alex Romero was struck and killed near the intersection of De Soto Ave and Valerio Street around 9 pm last night.

According to multiple reports, the Chatsworth High student was riding north with another 17-year old rider when Romero was struck from behind by a gray Toyota Corolla traveling at a high rate of speed, killing him instantly. The driver of the hatchback then fled the scene without stopping.

The two cyclists were reportedly riding side-by-side in the far right lane of De Soto when the collision occurred; reading between the lines, Romero evidently had the inside position while the other rider, who was uninjured, was positioned closer to the curb. KABC-7 reports that there were multiple witnesses to the wreck.

L.A. Weekly indicates that he was a star soccer player at El Camino High School, suggesting that he may have recently transferred since he’s identified as student at Chatsworth.

Police are looking for a gray — or possibly silver — Corolla with moderate to severe damage to the right front end. Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Krajchir at (818) 644-8034 or email 26481@lapd.lacity.org. Anonymous calls can be made to Crimestoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Dear God, not again — 17 year old cyclist murdered by hit-and-run driver

Just a week after Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman was laid to rest, another cyclist has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, this time on the streets of Canoga Park.

In a case that brings to mind year’s tragic death of teenage rider Danny Marin, a 17-year high school senior identified as Alex Romero was struck and killed near the intersection of De Soto Ave and Valerio Street around 9 pm last night.

According to multiple reports, the Chatsworth High student was riding north with another 17-year old rider when Romero was struck from behind by a gray Toyota Corolla traveling at a high rate of speed, killing him instantly. The driver of the hatchback then fled the scene without stopping.

The two cyclists were reportedly riding side-by-side in the far right lane of De Soto when the collision occurred; reading between the lines, Romero evidently had the inside position while the other rider, who was uninjured, was positioned closer to the curb. KABC-7 reports that there were multiple witnesses to the wreck.

L.A. Weekly indicates that he was a star soccer player at El Camino High School, suggesting that he may have recently transferred since he’s identified as student at Chatsworth.

Police are looking for a gray — or possibly silver — Corolla with moderate to severe damage to the right front end. Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Krajchir at (818) 644-8034 or email 26481@lapd.lacity.org. Anonymous calls can be made to Crimestoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Save a life, right now. In fact, save hundreds.

It’s not every day you get a chance to save a life.

But that’s exactly what you can do in the next few minutes. Without moving from wherever you are right now.

Chances are, you’ll never know when it happens.

It could be a young child who doesn’t get hit by a car on her way to school, thanks to a safe crosswalk on a dangerous intersection. Or one who doesn’t develop diabetes or other obesity-related illnesses because he can to safely ride his bike in his own neighborhood.

Or it could be you, benefitting from the same improvements that help keep countless area children and their parents safe as they walk or bike to and from school.

In fact, the life you save could be virtually anyone, and everyone. And all you have to do is take a few moments right now to endorse the Southern California Regional Platform developed by Safe Routes to School California.

I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t do. In fact, you’ll find me right here, along with other names you may recognize, representing people and groups throughout the area.

They’re out to get 75 endorsements by May15th. Personally, I think we can do a lot better than that. I’d like to see at least 75 endorsements by the end of this week. And a few hundred more by the May 15th deadline.

If even just a fraction of the people who visit this blog every day sign up, we can easily meet that goal. And make a real difference in the health and safety of children and adults throughout Southern California.

So if you bike or walk in Los Angeles — or care about children who do — stop whatever you’re doing and take just a couple minutes to click this link and endorse the Safe Routes to School platform.

Please.

.………

Speaking of Safe Routes to Schools, the Santa Monica chapter says there’s a big, gaping Trench of Doom blocking access for students at Santa Monica High. Evidently, there used to be a pedestrian and bike bridge over the Santa Monica freeway, which — despite what one councilmember recalls — was removed to make room for a new off ramp.

And they want it back.

Although personally, I think a park would be a better option there.

.………

Here’s the next bike book I want to read. Olympic medalist and TdF stage winner Davis Phinney writes about his riding career and battle to overcome Parkinson’s disease, as well as raising a rising pro riding phenom in his son Taylor.

Phinney used to lead rides around Denver and Boulder with his wife, fellow Olympian Connie Carpenter, that I fell in with on more than one occasion. So I like to say I’ve ridden with them — even though he probably never knew I was there at the end of the pack.

He’s also one of the few people I’ve never heard anyone say a single negative word about.

.………

Still no charges in the hit-and-run death of Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman; a sheriff’s spokesman confirms that alcohol may have been a factor, as many people have speculated.

.………

A Topeka, Kansas lawyer has his license suspended after pleading No Contest in the DUI death of a local cyclist. Blood tests showed he had a .12 BAC, as well as marijuana, a “narcotic-like pain reliever” and an antidepressant in his system — and was driving in that state with his own son in his car. It was his 4th DUI since 1989, and third since 2000. Thanks to Stanley Goldich for the heads-up.

.………

Zev talks bikes and trains, or more precisely, bikes on trains. Although rumor has it that Metro’s commitment to put bikes back on trains may not be as strong as they suggest, so Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board’s Operations Committee could turn out to be important.

There also may be some pushback on plans to remove seats to make room for bikes, as well as strollers, shopping and suitcases, all of which can block doorways and turn into projectiles if left in aisles.

.………

If you’re 12 -18, you can earn a bike at Bicycle Kitchen; if you’re too old for that, join the volunteers at Bikerowave. LACBC offers flyers explaining the upcoming road diet on Downtown’s 7th Street. Streetfilms looks back at the recent CicLAvia. Cynergy Cycles is offering an introduction to cycling lecture on Wednesday, and will soon feature a blog of their own. KPCC reports on how to get a bike lane or corral on your street. LADOT Bike Blog examines the long history behind the recently opened Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path. The Source looks forward to next month’s Bike to Work Week. L.A. Creek Freak suggests a visit to the double parentheses of Burbank’s Lake-Providencia Bridge. Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu calls for better — aka separated — bike lanes; Long Beach officially opens theirs on Saturday. The Long Beach City Council takes up the cause of naming the bike paths on the new replacement for the Gerald Desmond bridge for late bike advocate Mark Bixby. Bike and dine at a discount on Earth Day in Long Beach. San Diego magazine looks at the rise of citizen cyclists. The Golden Gate Bridge considers a 10 mph speed limit — and a ban on tall bikes and unicycles. The Art of the Group ride looks at the recent list of bike friendly universities, and concludes that smart people ride bikes.

The Economist says distracted driving is the new drunk driving. Green bikeways finally receive preliminary approval from the Feds. Bicycling interviews cycling actress Monica Raymond of Lie To Me. A woman fantasizes about fighting back when she gets right hooked. Vulnerable user laws gain speed across the country. Apparently, a Portland coffee shop doesn’t love cyclists anymore. Motor-centric Indianapolis will add 33 miles of bike lanes this year alone. A Kentucky jury gets it, as they sentence a drunk driver to 35 years for the death of an 11-year old bike rider. Listen my children and you shall hear of bike routes that follow the midnight ride of Paul Revere. A commenter deftly dismantles the NY Posts latest anti-bike diatribe, while BikeNYC offers photographic proof that the city’s traffic-clogged streets are just a myth, and are actually occupied only by bike riders. Robin Williams gets stopped as part of NYC’s bike crackdown, while talk show host Chelsea Handler reportedly finds dead cyclists amusing. The New York Times discovers Japan’s post-earthquake bike boom. A Virginia campaign urges drivers to be bike friendly. NASCAR driver and cyclist Bobby Labonte is hosting a Share the Road Memorial Ride in North Carolina this weekend to honor fallen cyclists; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads up.

A stabbing victim feels police don’t care, comparing it to reporting a stolen bike; now that hurts. A writer takes the UK’s Automobile Association to task for their recent bike helmet and hi-vis vest handout, rather than focusing on dangerous drivers. London cyclists complain about the city’s ghost bike lanes. Everyone cycles in Antwerp. Pro teams walk out on a meeting with UCI President McQuaid in a dispute over race radios. Plans to remove parking spaces to put in bike lanes have Tel Aviv residents up in arms, who see it as an attempt to turn the city over to the rich; evidently, poor people must not ride bikes in Israel. Pietro Ferrero, CEO of the company that brings you Nutella and Ferrero Rocher died after falling from his bike in South Africa. Philippine cyclists campaign for cleaner air.

Finally, a 72-year old Aussie cyclist says red lights are a bloody hindrance. Maybe he’d like the new brakeless bike from Target, although he may need the Army’s new Kevlar bike shorts if he keeps running them.

Evidence spring has sprung along the 10 Freeway; bike lawyer says CicLAvia streets aren’t safe to ride

Funny how much beauty you can find in the most unexpected places when you ride a bike.

I spotted this on a recent ride to check out the newly rebuilt section of the Ballona Creek Bike Path in Culver City; I doubt the drivers speeding by have any idea it’s there.

Im not sure what the wooden structure was originally intended for, but it makes a lovely rustic wildflower planter.

Viewed from the other side, the planter disappears and youre left with just a hillside covered in flowers.

Its only on closer inspection that you realize its a rare island of beauty on the edge of an ugly freeway.

Then again, the new section of the bikeway looks pretty good, too; maybe someday, it will look like that all the way into the Marina.

.………

A Los Angeles attorney says it just isn’t safe to ride the recent CicLAvia route when cars are allowed.

Event participant Greg Pincus stated that it is Los Angeles is a different place without all of the vehicles. But Attorney Ehline says: “Los Angeles has a long way to go before anyone should consider riding a bicycle on that 7.5 mile stretch that they shut down last Sunday.”

Lawyer, please.

I usually ride that exact route along 4th, 6th and 7th Streets when I go Downtown, and I’m not dead yet. In fact, I choose those streets because I feel a lot safer there than I do on busier boulevards just a few blocks away, even at rush hour. As do hundreds, if not thousands, of other cyclists every day.

And while I’m not exactly a cheerleader for L.A. streets, I’ve ridden with relative safety throughout the city for nearly two decades, as have countless other riders.

Yes, bad things can and do happen.

Despite the recently adopted bike plan, L.A. stills lacks proper infrastructure, and will for decades to come until the plan is finally built out. Even then, it will take a massive investment to repave and patch the city’s crumbling streets before they offer the safety Angeleno cyclists deserve.

Then there’s the city’s notoriously careless, aggressive and distracted drivers, many of whom seem would seem to require major surgery to pry their precious cell phones from their faces. Let alone their foot off the gas pedal.

Yet in the overwhelming majority of cases, it only takes a modicum of care to get from here to there safely. And enjoyably.

I don’t know Michael P. Ehline, Esq. For all I know, he may be an excellent and caring attorney, exactly the sort of person every cyclist wants in his or her corner when it all hits the fan.

But to suggest that cyclists take their lives in their hands to ride on what are actually some of the city’s better bike streets isn’t exactly the best way to demonstrate expertise in the subject.

I mean, seriously.

.………

No surprise as Danae Marie Miller pleads not guilty in the February death of world class triathlete Amine Britel, Miller was allegedly under the influence and texting when she ran down Britel as he rode in a Newport Beach bike lane, and had at least 15 traffic citations in the previous 6 years; thanks to Lois Rubin for the link.

Meanwhile, the deputy who initially stopped Marco Antonio Valencia confirmed on the witness stand that Valencia told him “Shoot me, my life is over” as he was being detained. The arrest came minutes after the hit-and-run collision that took the life of Joseph Novotny and seriously injured three other riders, suggesting that Valencia was well aware of what he had just done.

.………

Yo! Venice! sounds the alarm over bike theft by the beach; if you’re looking for suspect, you might want to start with Bill Effing Murray. Santa Monica Spokers Brian and Cynthia ride foldies in Oregon with the Long Beach bike expats. Retailers are gearing up to meet the needs of female triathletes. Richard Risemberg says the real junk miles are the ones spent racing and training, as opposed to actually going somewhere; personally, I say there are no junk miles. Damien Newton says thanks to everyone who attended or helped make an amazing Friday fundraiser possible. More great photos and video from Thursday’s Bike Night at the Hammer Museum. A new TV and online show follows a cyclist touring the country car-free, by whatever means available including an odd assortment of bikes. Actors Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen ride through Studio City. Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles plans a special charity event on May 9th featuring the 2011 Tour of California HTC-Highroad men’s team, benefitting Right to Play. A Confident City Cycling course will be held in Culver City starting April 30th; maybe a certain lawyer might benefit by attending.

A few fond looks back at this month’s San Diego Custom Bike Show. A driver leaving a San Jose party hits and kills his own friend; initial reports indicate the cyclist was riding in the middle of the street, despite bike lanes on either side of the road. A Vallejo man was killed when he hit a power pole support cable while riding on the sidewalk. A Monterrey paper reports on last weekend’s Sea Otter Classic.

Now you can ride with no air down there. Former framebuilder Dave Moulton tells physicists nice experiment, but that’s a push toy, not a bike. Bike Noob says you’re going to fall sooner or later so learn how first, citing my advice on the subject in part. Bike Hugger looks at this year’s Bicycle Leadership Conference. Elly Blue makes the economic case for secure on-street bike parking. Advice on what to do if you’re chased by a dangerous dog — and a first hand view on what happens if it catches you. Illinois offers new Share the Road license plates. The Cutters win Indiana’s Little 500 for the 5th year in a row. A civil rights attorney says you can’t be arrested for talking back to a cop, at least in New York, while the Post continues its smear campaign against cycling in the city; any pretense of journalistic objectivity went out a window a long time ago. A wheelchair-bound Florida man is accused of ramming a female cyclist after chasing her through a parking lot the previous two days.

In Montreal, everyone thinks they have the right-of-way. A writer for the London Mail says Lycra Louts should not be above the law. A cheap mirror could save the lives of London cyclists. A drunk cyclist has to be pulled out of a UK river. Maserati is the latest high-end automaker to produce their own bicycle. Police in the United Arab Emirates begin a bike safety campaign; why is it that bike safety campaigns always focus on cyclists, rather than the drivers who can, and sometimes do, kill us? South Korea’s president says bicycling is a key component of the country’s green growth. A Philippine Senator files a bill calling for bike lanes and bike parking throughout the island nation. Aussie cyclist Matthew Lloyd is confident he’ll be back after being fired from the Omega Pharma Lotto team.

Finally, a truck-driving Bakersfield father asks other drivers not to hit his son anymore when he rides in a local bike lane. And advice from my hometown on how cyclists and horses can share the trail; oh wait, L.A. equestrians say that’s impossible.

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