Alaska scumbag beats kid for bike; a call for reforming California bike theft laws

One of the highlights of last Sunday’s River Ride, for me at least, was seeing a young boy and his father stopped on their bikes to watch all the riders zip by. And the big smile on his face when I gave him a thumbs up as I passed.

Never in a million years would have occurred to me to beat the crap out of him to steal his bike.

Yet that’s exactly what a man did in Anchorage, Alaska on Sunday.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, 32-year old Edward Syvinski tried to force a 7-year old girl off her bike. When she resisted, he punched her in the head, knocking her off the bike and onto the ground, where she lost consciousness.

He then punched her several more times before rifling through her pockets — in front of witnesses, no less. Police aren’t sure if he took anything, but what’s a 7-year girl likely to have on her that’s worth stealing, anyway?

This attack came just moments after he punched the father of a 17-year old boy, who had objected to Syvinsky accosting his son and rifling through a bag he was carrying.

Fortunately, police were able to make an arrest, handcuffing his hands and feet when he tried to fight back.

And yes, I do hope they hurt him. Frankly, I almost wish they’d taken a page from the old LAPD playbook and gone Rodney King on his miserable ass.

But that’s just me.

Syvinski faces two counts of assault and one count of robbery when he’s discharged from a local hospital, where he was taken for medical clearance.

Meanwhile, his victim remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

I have no sympathy for anyone who tries to steal a bike, and far less for anyone who would hurt another human being to do it — let alone a child.

His lawyer will undoubtedly claim that he was on something at the time of the attack — and based on the description of the events, it’s probably true. But anyone who could do something like that, high or not, deserves to go away for a very, very long time.

Thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up.

……..

That brings up another point.

Under current California law, which was changed just at the beginning of this year, the theft of anything valued at less than $950 is considered a petty crime.

Which means walking off with the overwhelming majority of bikes on the road would merit little more than a slap on the wrist. Even though many people rely on their bikes every bit as much as most Californians rely on their cars to get around.

And even though the loss of a bike can be severely disruptive to the owner’s life — not to mention aggravating as hell.

I grew up in a part of the West where the penalty for horse theft used to be hanging. Which was usually conducted on the spot without bothering with the formalities of a trial, let alone a jury.

While that may be a little extreme, it’s time we recognized that the value of a bike goes far beyond its replacement costs. And change the law to reflect the seriousness of the crime and the effect that theft can have on the life of its owner.

Because it doesn’t matter whether a bike is worth $400 or $4000 if it’s your primary means of transportation.

Or simply your primary means of maintaining your health and fitness.

……..

In upcoming events, the L.A. Bicycle Advisory Committee holds their bi-monthly meeting tonight in Hollywood, and CicLAvia is holding a meeting on Wednesday to discuss expansion into Chinatown.

The L.A. Sheriff’s Department Cycling Team is hosting the R2R LASD Cyclefest this Saturday, June 11, with rides of 17, 34 and 62 miles. The ride supports Road 2 Recovery to benefit the rehabilitation of wounded veterans, and starts at 8 am at Malibu/Lost Hills Station, 27050 Agoura Road, Agoura, 91301.

And the OC Wheelmen’s annual Ride Around the Bear Century rolls this Saturday.

……..

Mark your calendar for the weekend of July 15th, when life as we know it will end for many Angelenos, as the 405 freeway — the main artery connecting the Westside to the Valley — will be closed for construction.

While news reporters and city officials are treating this relative non-event with the same sort of frenzy that preceded the non-rapture last month, many cyclists are unlikely to even notice.

However, KCRW chief engineer Steve Herbert offered a great suggestion.

Since July’s planned CicLAvia has been cancelled anyway, why not take advantage of the closure and allow bikes to ride the 405 as sort of a mini-cicLAvia?

Why not, indeed?

I mean, other than the risk of things falling onto cyclists from the Sunset Blvd bridge they’re dismantling. But that could be avoided by keeping bikes away from the actual construction zone.

……..

Safe Routes to School recaps their recent meeting with the L.A. Unified School District. KABC-7 looks at Sunday’s successful L.A. River Ride, while LACBC offers photos and Will Campbell provides a timelapse of Saturday’s route marking. The Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) meets Tuesday at 2 pm. LADOT prepares to finally close the bike lane gap on Reseda Blvd. The Times’ Steve Lopez asks if newly appointed LADOT head Jaime De la Vega — aka the Hummer Guy — can fix L.A.’s transportation problems; Damien Newton wants your questions for De La Vega for an upcoming interview. Rick Risemberg notes that bikes create community; a writer on Risemberg’s Bicycle Fixation blog offers a truly in-depth look at bike parking. Distance cyclist Matt Ruscigno offers great advice to riders trying to get in the habit: just go. Claremont installs new bike racks and sharrows to make the city safer and more inviting for cyclists. A volunteer bike valet discusses what it’s like to park 1200 bikes a day. Long Beach launches the nation’s first Bicycle Friendly Business Districts; might be a great idea to revitalize troubled L.A. neighborhoods like Westwood. Remarkably, Corona del Mar’s Bike Safety Committee steps up to protect the biking and motoring public from sharrows. Seismic retrofit work is about to make the Golden Gate Bridge dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. Is it time to replace bicycle advocacy with marketing?

Bike/Ped spending is expected to increase in the Senate Transportation Bill, despite GOP opposition. U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood bikes to work; maybe he read Andy Clarke’s eight-step guide to getting back on a bike as an adult. Bicycling offers an interesting look at bike helmets, saying current models may not offer as much protection as you think. Commute by Bike reviews the odd Strida folding bike, calling it the Ethiopian food of bikes; don’t worry, it makes sense once you read it. Chicago will get its first protected bike lane; maybe L.A. will get one soon. The crackdown on scofflaw cyclists moves west, as Chicago becomes the next city to tackle law-breaking riders. The New York Times discovers Randonneuring. A look at NYC’s three-way streets. A DC cyclist is beaten when he attempts to call police to report an altercation involving another rider and a group of motorists. Sometimes two tubes and three air cartridges aren’t enough.

A Toronto writer asks if cyclists are being selfish and rude. Academics say separated bikeways are the key to getting more Brits on the road; most consider bikes children’s toys or something for hobbyists. Meanwhile, a survey say UK residents want more questions about cycling on the drivers’ test. A look at London’s biking paramedics from a medical perspective. Accused doper Riccardo Ricco is cleared to race, though a long way from the top tier pro tour he used to ride.

Finally, the Atlantic demands that Lance Armstrong’s lawyers apologize for holding the collective intelligence of the American public in such obvious contempt. And Sarah Palin’s bus nearly hits a cyclist as they routinely speed and blow through traffic signals, while crotch-tweeter Congressman Anthony Weiner’s prospects of ripping out all those New York bike lanes looks a little dimmer this morning; Grist says his position on bike lanes makes him more than one body part.

2 comments

  1. That story from Anchorage is simply unbelievable. Beating a little girl so severely she’s in critical condition?

  2. Joe says:

    Re bike theft, I’m conflicted.

    On the one hand, stealing a bike is a horrible, scummy thing to do. I have no sympathy for professional bike thieves; long prison sentences are appropriate. (I’m against the death penalty; otherwise I’d be tempted.)

    On the other hand, our jails are full. And I think that desperate people, or opportunistic or bored first-time-offender kids, can probably be rehabilitated. I would really like to see some sort of alternative punishment meted out to these folks; something designed to rehabilitate. For example, the guilty could be forbidden from using any non-walking method of transport for a year (enforced by GPS monitoring bracelet that alarms at sustained speeds over 4mph). Or they could be required to do a year of community service in a bike repair program (which might teach them to respect bikes enough to not steal them).

    Or, you know, flogging. Flogging might be a good idea.

    As for Ciclavia on the 405: that’s one hell of a hill. It would likely be attended by hardcore cyclists only.

    On another note, since there will be HUGE demand for transport on the WEEKEND OF DOOM, I’d like to see Metro promote use of the 761 on traffic-free Sepulveda. Perhaps the prospect of a 30-minute bus ride as opposed to a 3-hour trafficky detour might entice some drivers out of their cars.

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