Police appear posed to blame the Culver City victims; Wilbur Ave “compromise” threatens road safety

Things aren’t looking good in the case of the cyclists injured by an allegedly drunk, texting and speeding driver.

To start with, it looks like the driver, Christine Elizabeth Dahab, may skate on the DUI charges. According to a report on Bikeside, she registered a .07 Blood Alcohol Content when she was tested at the police station — just under the .08 BAC threshold for drunk driving. Even though she initially registered a .08 at the scene, her body had time to process the alcohol in her system.

Secondly, while the LAPD initially responded to the collision, the case has been handed over to the Culver City police, since the site is technically within their jurisdiction. And deservedly or not, the Culver City PD has a long-standing reputation for being biased against cyclists — particularly when it comes to populist group rides similar to the one hit on Thursday morning.

Finally, there is some dispute as to where the cyclists were located on the roadway. The preliminary conclusions of the LAPD are that at least some of the victims were stopped in the traffic lane, rather than on the shoulder. And since many were stopped and off their bikes, they may have violated the law against pedestrians in a traffic lane.

That could be enough to get Dahab off the hook — even though she was reportedly drunk at the scene, and witnesses have reported that she appeared to be texting at the time. And since she hit the riders without braking, there is no objective evidence that she was speeding, despite the reports of witnesses that she was travelling at least 20 mph over the limit.

Evidence of just how seriously the case against Dahab is not being taken is that she was out on an exceptionally low $15,000 bond just hours after the collision.

Damien Newton angrily questions whether the LAPD is botching the investigation, as many of the decisions made so far in the case seem to cast blame directly on the victims — never mind the actions of the driver that contributed to, if not caused, the collision. And asks if the police would handle the case more aggressively if roles were reversed, and it was a Hispanic male driver who ran into a bunch of young women.

Yes, the riders may have been in the traffic lane, though that remains in some dispute. But a driver who was not speeding, drinking and/or distracted should have had plenty of time to see and avoid a large mass of stationary people.

Newton also takes KABC-7 to task for their highly inflammatory reporting on the case, as they repeatedly referred to condoms, beer and evidence of drug use found near the scene, without ever directly connecting any of that to any the riders or suggesting that it had anything whatsoever to do with the collision.

Frankly, you could find any or all of those things in the alley behind my old building just about every day of the week; that doesn’t mean I was the one who used or put them there, even though I happened to be nearby.

It’s entirely possible that some of the riders may have been using drugs or alcohol, however, KABC’s exceptionally irresponsible report — which has been toned down significantly from earlier reports — creates the suggestion of a drunken orgy in the middle of a traffic lane, and has unfortunately been picked up by other news sources.

They cite unidentified members of the police as the source of that information; however, unlike KABC, most of the mainstream press somehow managed to keep such unfounded and highly biased tidbits out of their stories. The station owes an apology to all the victims — and every other cyclist in L.A., since this sort of unfounded report smears all of us in the eyes of some members of the public.

There was a much-needed Justice Ride this afternoon, to support the victims of Thursday morning’s bike collision.

……..

In order to maintain drivers’ God-given right to speed on Valley streets, the Wilbur Ave. road diet is in the process of being “fixed,” channeling cyclists into the sort of substandard half-gutter bike lane we thought this city had long ago outgrown. At the same time, drivers will be forced to compete for lane space as they’re suddenly channeled into less space, significantly increasing the potential for collisions and putting cyclists in the bike lane at unnecessary risk.

The only good news is that the new design may actually reduce the number of cycling collisions on Wilbur — by reducing the number of cyclists willing to ride the street, as many cyclists are likely to shun the new bike lanes for other unmarked streets.

Evidently, L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl was wrong when he famously declared that “the culture of the car is going to end today.” Thanks largely to one or more of his fellow councilmembers, it’s alive and well in the San Fernando Valley, and risking the lives of everyone who uses or resides along our streets.

Un-effing-believable.

……..

Fed up with the refusal of the Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee — aka the Orange County Gutter Bunnies — to support much needed sharrows on the Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, cdm Cyclist’s Frank Peters has joined with a handful of other local bike advocates to form the new Newport Beach Citizens Bicycle Committee.

If you live or ride down that way, I strongly urge you to get involved with them, and do your part to force local officials to do something to make cycling safer in the local area, and Orange County as a whole.

That is, something that doesn’t put the blame squarely on the victims.

……..

Time is short, but you still have a few hours left to cast a vote to decide which of five finalists will get the chance to work with Team Liquigas-Cannondale in this year’s Tour de France.

According to a representative for the team —

Ventura native Gabriel Garcia and Los Angeles resident Angel Castillo are among five finalists for an opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to spend a week at the Tour de France working behind the scenes with Team Liquigas-Cannondale.

Both had to submit a one to two-minute video explaining why they’re the most qualified to serve as Team Liquigas-Cannondale’s newest addition.  Hopefuls had to highlight the following in their video submission:

  • How the sport of cycling has impacted your life.
  • Your most memorable moment from the Tour de France.
  • A bike MUST have been visual somewhere in the video shoot (it didn’t have to be a Cannondale)

The five finalists are:

  • Amy Campbell (Austin, TX)
  • Angel Castillo (Los Angeles)
  • Gabriel Garcia (Ventura)
  • Joe Praino (Arlington, VA)
  • Derrick Young (Columbus, OH)

All five videos are now available for fans to vote on by logging onto Cannondale‘s (http://www.facebook.com/RideCannondale) and Peloton Magazine’s Facebook pages (http://www.facebook.com/pelotonmagazine). Videos and voting capability can be accessed by first liking the page, then clicking the Trip de France icon on the left. Voting runs from now until Friday, June 17th.

My apologies for not giving more notice of the competition. I found out about it just a few days ago, and recent events have kept me from getting to it until now.

……..

Notes from this month’s BPIT meeting. LADOT updates what bike projects are on the boards, including a road diet and bike lanes along the CicLAvia route on 7th Street. Here come the bus — and bike — lanes. Better Bike Beverly Hills endorses California’s proposed three-foot passing lane; SWRVE, the L.A.-based urban cycling attire manufacturer, writes to urge cyclists to get involved to support it, and personally, I’m a firm believer in supporting companies that support us. The DVD of the fixie film To Live and Ride in LA drops on Tuesday the 21st. Flying Pigeon will host a fundraising ride and party for Streetsblog tonight. C.I.C.L.E. hosts a ride through NELA on Saturday. Hermosa cyclists look for improvements in the South Bay/Marvin Braude Bike Path. CNN Travel lists the Huntington Beach bike path, along with the Braude bikeway, as among the best in the U.S. Remembering a dedicated bike commuter. A Santa Cruz cyclist gets six months in jail and three years probation for deliberately running over a toddler with his bike; maybe those two figures should be reversed. It’s the people who yell the insults who are seen as the crazy ones. Cyclelicious says don’t be afraid of the dark. Just Another Cyclist says he hates helmets.

Brilliant responses to just about any bike forum comment, ever. People for Bikes reports on riding with your fur-footed best friend. Tom Vanderbilt says it’s time for livability to push mobility into the back seat. AZ Rep. Gabby Giffords is back on a bike just five months after her January shooting. A Portland cyclist recounts a frightening road rage encounter with truck driver that, while not justified, could have been avoided if he’d just stopped for the damn red light. Springfield Cyclist recounts a near-collision with a kid on a bike. Minnesota traffic officials join to reduce traffic deaths to zero; it’s long past time for a Vision Zero plan for California. An 8-year Chicago girl followed all the rules, but was killed by a hit-and-run driver anyway; there’s not a deep enough pit in hell for a driver like that. The Windy City’s new DOT Commissioner could rival NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, while their crackdown on scofflaw cyclists may not be such a bad thing, after all. Someone is deliberately attacking cyclists in Virginia Beach. A Craig’s List missed connection leads to a woman on a Dolphin bike.

The Guardian says riding in a skirt probably doesn’t make you a traffic hazard, though they’d recommend against riding commando on a ‘bent. Euro scientists form a group to coordinate on helmet research. In bike racing news, Movistar rider Juan Mauricio Soler was critically injured after colliding with a spectator in the Tour de Suisse. Mark Cavendish prepares to jump ship for the 2012 season. UCI urges everyone to be kind to Contador, who needs to put a light on the racing bike, and may soon be sampling clenbuterol-free cows in Colorado. Another new on-road laser projection concept could save lives, or at least make your ride more colorful. Wales becomes the first government in the world to require local authorities to provide bike routes.

Finally, only bad guys drive distracted.

3 comments

  1. The Trickster says:

    I’ll properly read the rest of the blog later, but thought you might like this – why an old bloke and a shed are still an awesome thing:

    http://cyclingauckland.co.nz/front/2011/06/woodgrain-bike-frames/

    and a link to the guys site:

    http://www.robswoodgrainbikes.com/#358427/Home

  2. garagehero1 says:

    As itturned out, the bicyclists were at fault…

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