Archive for June 20, 2011

An open letter in support of SB 910, California’s proposed three-foot passing law

As you may be aware, the California Senate recently passed the state’s proposed three-foot passing law. Now it’s under consideration in the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee, with a deadline of 5 pm Tuesday to offer your comments.

I have strongly supported three-foot passing laws throughout my riding career. As I’ve pointed out before, I consider it a much-needed improvement over the current vague standard in place in California and most other states.

As a result, I’ve written the following letter to Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair of the Transportation Committee, to express my support and urge the removal of a clause that would allow passing at less three when travelling at a speed differential of less than 15 mph. This clause undermines the purpose of the bill, and would increase driver confusion and the risk to riders, rather than decreasing it as the law intends.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to write Lowenthal to express your support; it also can’t hurt to send a copy your own Assemblymember and the bill’s author, Sen. Alan Lowenthal, while you’re at it.

You can find a sample letter and more instructions here.

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Hon. Bonnie Lowenthal
Chair, Assembly Transportation Committee
State Capital, Room 112
Sacramento, CA 95814
Assemblymember.Lowenthal@assembly.ca.gov

Dear Assemblymember Lowenthal,

I’m writing to express my support for Senate Bill 910 and to urge the committee to approve the bill on June 27, with one vital amendment.

As a serious bicyclist and California resident, I have ridden a bike on the streets and highways of this state for over 20 years. During that time, I have experienced a number of close calls that have threatened my life and safety due to drivers passing too closely.

I have had drivers pass so close that their mirrors have brushed against my arm, and had passengers reach out to touch me or dump liquids on me. I have been crowded off various roadways, both accidently and intentionally, and nearly collided with parked vehicles as a result, as well as being blown out of my lane by the slipstream from passing trucks and buses. In fact, I can count on being passed at a dangerously close distance at least once or twice virtually every time I ride. I can only credit luck and my own skill as a cyclist for having avoided serious injuries as a result.

On more than one occasion, I have managed to confront drivers who have passed me at such a dangerously close distance; almost invariably, the drivers were convinced that they observed a safe passing distance, demonstrated by the fact that they didn’t actually make contact with me.

The current standard for safe passing is both unclear and confusing, providing no objective measurement to tell drivers what is a safe passing distance. This law clarifies that, providing a clear standard that anyone can understand. Its passage is vital to protect the safety of cyclists, reduce needless confrontations between cyclists and motorists, and encourage more people to choose bikes as a safe form of alternative transportation.

However, I must request that the current bill be amended to remove the provision allowing passage at less than three feet with a speed differential of 15 mph or less. This provision creates a confusing, unmeasurable standard that benefits no one while undermining the key provision of this bill. As a result, it serves to increase the risk to cyclists rather than decreasing it, and is almost universally opposed by every cyclist I have discussed it with. As an alternative, briefly allowing drivers to cross the center or lane line to pass a bicyclist maintains the spirit of the law, while permitting safe passing under most circumstances.

I urge you to pass this important bill, with the above amendment,  to help make our streets safer for everyone.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
www.bikinginla.com
@bikinginla (Twitter)

CC: Senator Alan Lowenthal, Assemblymember Mike Feuer

CHP reports possible fatality in East L.A. bike vs big rig collision

No confirmation yet, and only limited details.

However, CHP reports indicate that a cyclist was killed in a collision with a big rig truck at around 9:54 this morning at the intersection of South Atlantic and East Olympic Boulevards in East L.A.

San Diego salmon cyclist killed after falling into traffic lane

A 47-year old San Diego cyclist was killed about 10:40 pm Sunday night after falling in front of an oncoming pickup.

According to San Diego’s KFMB 760, Jaime Ruiz was riding against traffic on the 1200 block of Hollister Blvd when he hit a parked car and fell into the traffic lane, where he was struck by a Toyota Tacoma driven by an unidentified off-duty Border Patrol agent. The driver was not cited; Ruiz was reportedly riding without lights or helmet.

While I often rail against press reports that insist on noting the lack or presence of a helmet in fatal collisions, this is a case where it might actually be worth mentioning — though not without more details.

Depending on the speed of the truck and how the actual impact occurred, this could be exactly the sort of slow-speed impact bike helmets are intended to protect against. Or it could be that the impact occurred at a higher speed or to other parts of the body, making the lack of a helmet irrelevant. Without more information, we’ll never know.

This is also a case in which the rider is clearly at fault.

While riding against traffic may seem logical in order to provide a better view of oncoming traffic, drivers don’t expect to see cyclists riding towards them in the same lane. It also shortens the reaction time required to avoid a collision, as well as increasing the severity of a collision by increasing the speed differential.

This is often a problem among immigrant cyclists, who are sometimes taught to ride facing traffic, rather than with it. While it may seem to make some sense on rural roads where motor vehicle traffic can be rare, it is extremely dangerous on busier streets.

It’s tempting to suspect that Ruiz could have been intoxicated — after all, most riders manage to avoid large stationary objects. However, it’s also possible that, without a light, he may not have seen the parked car until it was too late to avoid it if the street was dark enough, or could have been forced into it by a driver passing too close.

This is the 9th traffic-related cycling fatality in San Diego this year, and the 32nd in the larger Southern California area. Of those, the rider has been at primary fault in 12 of the collisions, the driver at fault in 18; the other two were undetermined.

Today’s post, in which I remember the man who instilled my life-long love of bicycling

As far back as I remember, there was a bike hanging on the wall of our family’s garage.

The yellow paint had faded years before, any brand name that may have once marked its frame had disappeared in the many days since its manufacture. Its three speed gearing had long ago locked in place; the improbably narrow tires hadn’t seen air in decades.

In its day, it was a racing bike.

One that carried my father, in his own youth, on journeys to countless cities surrounding his northern Colorado home, often dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of miles on a single ride.

And usually without permission.

Where it came from, I don’t know. It may have been a gift, possibly from his own father, before he abandoned my grandmother and her children on an isolated farm on the eastern Colorado plains in the midst of the Great Depression. Or it could have come after she quit the farm and moved her family to the then small town where I grew up.

Maybe he earned the money himself. Or it could have come from some other source.

My father described himself as a bad kid when he was growing up; one who knew every cop in the area on a professional basis. When asked, he told us that meant smoking, drinking and staying out past curfew. But I often thought there might be more to the story he wasn’t willing to confess to his own children.

One thing is certain, though. He vowed that, unlike his father, he would always be there for his own children. And even though he was far from a wealthy man,  they would never endure the hardships he did growing up.

And he more than lived up to that.

To be honest, though, all you really need to know about the kind of man my dad was is contained in one simple story.

He started smoking when he was just 12 years old, and continued his pack-a-day habit for more than 40 years. He often said the only thing that got him through the horrors of World War II — first in Europe, then the Pacific preparing for the planned invasion of Japan — were cigarettes and letters from my mother.

He made a few half-hearted attempts to quit over the years, mostly at her urging. But never made it more than a day or two before starting up again.

Then one day, when I was about 12, he came home from work to learn that the doctor had just diagnosed my persistent cough as an allergy to cigarette smoke. So he took the cigarette pack out of his pocket and placed it on his dresser, without a word or second glance.

And never picked them up again.

He was, then, roughly the same age I am today; 20 years later, those same cigarettes would take his life.

In my earliest memories, I see him encouraging each of us to get out and ride our bikes; from my older brothers on their 5 and 10 speeds, to my sister’s hand-me-down Schwinn cruiser, and me, as the youngest, on a tiny tricycle.

As I got older, I graduated to a bigger trike, then to that same old Schwinn, which he had repainted in the colors of my choice. As I recall, I picked the purple and gold of the high school I would eventually attend, though it may have been the green and gold of the local university; at one time or another, it was painted in both.

It was my dad who held on tight, pushing my new grown-up bike down the sidewalk until it finally picked up enough speed to maintain my balance for a few yards. And he was the one who picked me up, brushed me off and dried my tears, and got me back in the saddle again, until at last I could tear around the neighborhood unassisted.

On those long hot summer nights, he’d urge us all to get on our bikes. Sometimes, he might even borrow one from one of my brothers and join in for a few minutes.

All the while, that old yellow bike hung on the wall, his love for it shown by the dust that never seemed to accumulate for long.

He’d talk about fixing it up and joining us, but never seemed to get around to it. Once he finally did, he found the parts were no longer available.

In my teens, I took the money I earned delivering newspapers on that old Schwinn, and bought an Astra Tour de France that looked exactly like this one. That was my primary form of transportation until I bought a car my junior year; regrettably, I sold that Astra a year later as I got ready to travel halfway across the country for college.

Then one day, a few years out of college, I found myself sitting alone in a Louisiana movie theater, far from home and the people I loved. And I was reminded once again of the sheer joy of bicycling, as I watched a young man call out “Ciao Pappa!” to his Indiana father as he rode by on his bike, wishing I could see my own.

I’ve often credited Breaking Away with kindling my love of cycling. But in truth, it only resparked a romance that began in my childhood and lasted most of my life.

A few months later, I walked into the local branch of nation’s oldest bike shop and walked out with a shiny blue Trek — one of the first of their then-new line of American-made bikes.

The day my father died, that old yellow bike was still hanging on the wall of his garage; still unridden and unridable, yet something he was never able to bring himself to give away. A sentiment I understand well, as that now 30-year old Trek sits silently in my office, one of my oldest and closest companions with whom I have shared most of my fondest memories, and one I have no desire to ever leave behind.

I don’t remember why I didn’t take his bike when I went back home for my father’s funeral; I imagine I simply didn’t have room in my tiny apartment for a bike I might never be able to ride.

We ended up donating it to the local museum, where it was on display the only time I stopped to visit, following my mother’s death a decade later.

It’s probably the right place for it, where countless people who never knew him can marvel at the antique speed machine that carried my dad so far from home, so many years before.

But sometimes I wish it was hanging on my own wall, reminding me of the man who first kindled my lifelong love affair with cycling.

And I wish I could talk to him just one more time, and beg him to ride with me once again.

And thank him for the truly precious gift he gave me.

Update: Culver City driver should have been able to see cyclists; some victims still critical

Inside word from members of Bikeside LA and Midnight Ridazz is that some of the victims in Thursday morning’s Culver City bike crash that injured 11 cyclists may be more critically injured than authorities have let on.

Since the victim’s names have not yet been publicly released, I won’t go into details; however, it sounds like prayers and good wishes for a full recovery would be in order.

And a report by popular cycling advocate Road Block on Bikeside LA proves that the driver in the case should have been able to see the cyclists stopped in the road, despite police reports that her view was blocked by a blind curve.

If she wasn’t drunk, speeding or distracted — or all of the above — she should have easily been able to stop in time.

………

I’m in meetings all weekend, so no Events update this week. Check the Events page for current listings.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Accused drunk/distracted driver plows into group of cyclists; 11 injured with two critical

Photo by Magnus Sheen Nihilus; click photo for other shots from the crash scene on his Facebook page.

The most dangerous intersections aren’t always the junction of two streets.

Even here in L.A., where the safety of cyclists has long been little more than an afterthought.

The events of early this morning clearly proved that, as a popular weekly bike ride intersected tragically with a suspected drunk and/or distracted driver, leaving 11 cyclists injured, six of whom reportedly suffered serious injuries. LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer reports that two of the injured are in critical condition.

The incident occurred at around 1:49 am on the 5900 block of West Jefferson Place in the Blair Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, near the border with Culver City.

The Midnight Ridazz weekly Koreatown ride had just visited the Baldwin Hills Overlook, which often offers spectacular views of the L.A. Basin, and were paused on the street to regroup when the riders reportedly saw a white car approaching.

According to KABC-7, the driver, who appeared to be using a cell phone — or possibly texting — slowed down, then sped up and plowed into the group.

“We were by the bike lane, waiting for more people to come down. Out of nowhere, I saw the lights coming fast,” said Mario Cruz, who was hit by the car. “It looked like she was stopping, but she kept going.”

Another rider said he warned others to get out of the way.

“I saw her first, and then I started calling everybody out, ‘Hey everybody, merge right, get out of the bike lanes to the sidewalk,'” said one bicyclist. “She slows down. She sees us, I think, and I could see her engine rev, and she just takes everybody out.”

While there are no bike lanes on Jefferson, a satellite view shows a wide shoulder indicated by painted hash marks on the side of the road.

A report on KTLA-5 says at least one rider was trapped under the car for a time.

The driver revved her engine, hopped a curb and “just took everybody out,” Alex, a cyclist, said.

Witnesses say one cyclist was dragged by the car.

Meanwhile, MSNBC suggests the car may have been speeding, as well.

“We were all just chilling right here … she merges in and takes everybody out,” one rider told RMG News.

Another rider estimated the car was traveling at more than 60 miles per hour. “I saw everybody flying towards me. Luckily I didn’t get hit … one of the guys got dragged by the car,” he said.

According to cyclist Eric Bruins, who lives in the area, drivers frequently pass through that section at over 60 mph, despite a 40 mph speed limit and a wide turn offering limited visibility.

The L.A. Times cited a televised witness as comparing “what happened to a bowling ball knocking down pins.”

Of course, it didn’t take long for the media to shift blame from the driver to the cyclists.

KABC reports that at least some of the riders may have been wearing dark clothing, and were stopped under a non-working streetlight. However, other reports indicate that the riders were using lights, as required, while the witness statement that the driver jumped the curb suggest at least some of the riders were out of the roadway at the time of the collision.

And while it might not be smart, I know of no law forbidding cyclists from wearing dark clothing after dark.

Bizarrely, the KABC report goes a large step beyond rational reporting by saying beer and condoms were found in the area, evidently implying that the riders were engaged in a drunken orgy in the middle of the street.

And the auto-centric L.A. Weekly lumps the Ridazz in with Critical Mass for committing the unforgivable crime of being in the way while having fun on two wheels.

The Ridazz, along with sister bike group Critical Mass, are a controversial L.A. institution: Many car-bound Angelenos complain the cyclists are rowdy and in-the-way, whereas Ridazz generally feel the cars are the real problem.

Yes, that certainly justifies an allegedly drunk, speeding driver plowing into a group of stationary bikes and riders, regardless of where they might have been stopped or what they were wearing.

So much for that other intersection, the one where we often find ourselves waiting in vain for good reporting and common sense to somehow collide.

Though I suppose, that may be asking a little too much from the local media under the circumstances.

Fortunately, word is that the LAPD is focusing on investigating the actual incident to determine what happened and who is at fault, rather than getting distracted by the irrelevant matters that seem to fascinate some members of the press.

Like whether there may have been condoms at the scene.

Thanks to Will Campbell, Al Williams, Michael Byerts, Karen Lai, Sgt. Krumer, Alexis Lantz, Alex Amerri, Richard Risemberg, Rex Reese, Richard Masoner, Todd Munson and Eric Bruins for the heads-up; my apologies if I left anyone out.

Update: The Times reports that 27-year old Christine Dahab has been booked on a charge of misdemeanor drunk driving, with $15,000 bail — which would seem exceptionally low under the apparent circumstances, given the number and seriousness of the injuries.

Update: Patrick Miller clarified that neither the Koreatown ride, or any of the rides organized on the Midnight Ridazz site, are sponsored directly by the loosely organized group. Rather, it’s a site where individuals can post their own rides, not unlike posting your own ride on Facebook or some other site. 

And apologies to Alex Amerri, whose name I misspelled in my rush to get this story online.

……..

The LACBC’s Alexis Lantz sent the following email to Sgt. Krumer this morning in response to these events:

Good morning Sgt. Krumer,

I’m assuming you’re probably already pretty busy with the collision that occurred last night with a drunk driver and the K-town group ride.

We are hoping you can keep is in the loop on this issue, we have some issues with the way the news has been reporting the incidents – as with so many stories involving people on bicycles – misinformation and blame is often placed on the victim, even when a drunk driver, distracted driver, and speeding are involved.

In particular we’re concerned about folks focusing in on what people are wearing – this should not be a discussion item, whether or not the cyclist had lights, which are required by law is justified – but questioning the color of people’s clothing really shouldn’t be where folks focus their discussion.

While we don’t know the particulars of where exactly the group was in the roadway we hope that the fact that the driver was speeding, drunk, potentially texting at the time of the collision, and failed to slow, change lanes or do anything to avoid a collision will be taken seriously and be the focus of this investigation and reporting. If a car was stopped in a travel lane due to mechanical problems and the same thing happened – the onus would be on the drunk driver, not the driver with mechanical problems. This collision should not be treated any differently and I have complete faith in you and the officers at LAPD that this collision will be well investigated and the driver will be held accountable.

Please use this opportunity to try and further educate the media and public about the rights and responsibilities of all road users.

Thank you for your constant hard work and dedication.

Sincerely,

Alexis Lantz
Planning & Policy Director
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

……..

On an unrelated subject, Byerts also reminds us that current Congressman, future New York mayoral candidate and all around schmuck Anthony Weiner is resigning his office after revelations that he texted images of the little Weiner to a number of women, none of whom his wife.

Considering this is the same guy who famously promised to tear out all of the city’s new bike lanes, I say it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving jackass fellow.

Cyclists assaulted in L.A Naked Bike Ride; NYPD warning to sexy cyclist may be a hoax

The L.A. version of the World Naked Bike Ride turned violent on Saturday when participants were attacked by the passenger of a trailing car, who shouted anti-gay slurs before getting out and punching one of the riders.

The driver then got out as well, and knocked a second rider to the ground before throwing the victim’s bike at him, in an incident that was partially captured on video.

The Eastsider LA, which initially broke the story, reports that the cyclists were not seriously injured.

The two riders who sustained injuries – one sustained a cut lip, the other suffered a bloody nose and scrapes to his face – declined emergency medical treatment, (LAPD Lt. Wes) Buhrmester said.  He provided the following description of two male suspects who were riding in a Honda:

The first suspect is described as a male, 20 years old, black hair, brown eyes, 5-8, 180 pounds, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. The second suspect is a male, late 20s, black “buzz cut” hair, dark complexion, 5-10, 200-250 pounds, wearing a blue shirt with blue jeans. If anyone has information, you can either call or e-mail me at the addresses below (confidentiality will apply, other than me referring your information to detectives), or call Rampart Detective Division at (213) 484-3450. Refer to DR No. 11-0212143. There are some leads upon which detectives are acting.

If you have any information, you can reach Lt. Burhmester, who lives in the area of the attack, at 213/484-3400, or email here.

According to the Echo Park Patch, the police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

And it’s just one more example of why L.A. needs a bicycle anti-harassment ordinance.

Thanks to Steve Herbert for the link.

……..

Herbert also sends word of a logical disconnect afflicting one of our local TV stations.

While watching the KTLA morning news, Lynette Romero was live with a 2 minute story about the LA City council needing to decide the issue of a Wilshire Blvd Bus Only Lane, or risk the opportunity to apply for federal funding to the tune of 23 million dollars.

At the end of the story, host Frank Buckley throws it to their traffic reporter in studio, Ginger Chan asking “What do you think, bus only lane on Wilshire Blvd.?”

Ginger Chan replies: ” I think it’s a terrible idea to be honest with you because not enough people take the buses, so just leave it alone and we’ll figure out something else.”  Then they of course open to a regional map of the freeways with nearly half the freeway routes in red.

……..

By now, you may have heard the tale I linked to last weekend, as an attractive Dutch cyclist is reportedly stopped by a New York Police officer and warned that her short skirt is too distracting to passing motorists.

Naturally, it caused worldwide attention and outrage, as writers compared the incident — unfavorably — to Saudi Arabia, where women are just beginning to fight for their right to drive.

Now it turns out, it may have been a hoax.

The cyclist, Jasmin Rijcken, not only runs a Dutch bicycle company, according to her LinkedIn profile, she is also a marketing consultant specializing in viral marketing.

She denies it, of course, pointing out that she posted the story on her Facebook page, rather than going to the press herself. And she never mentioned the brand of bike she represents — even though the brand has received worldwide attention as a result.

Is it a hoax? Unless the officer comes forward to confirm the incident, or she steps up to admit fabricating it, we’ll probably never know.

But I can tell you this.

As a marketer myself, if I wanted to plant a story in the hopes that it would go viral with maximum believability, I probably would have done it exactly the same way, allowing the story to spread while maintaining plausible deniability.

Thanks to Al Williams and Stanley E. Goldich for the heads-up.

……..

The Times issues a call for protecting cyclists in bike lanes. How to turn a vintage bike into a hanging lamp. Josef Bray-Ali explains why L.A. Streetsblog matters. Better Bike Beverly Hills explains why the Westside Cities Council of Governments should matter to cyclists. A reminder that you could win a free hoodie for donating to CicLAvia this month. Riding the L.A. River Ride with Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman; LACBC says thanks to a very long list of people and organizations that made it possible. Ride the Black Line offers a crack example of why you need to be careful out there. The South Bay Bicycle Master Plan is officially unveiled. A driver faces murder charges after left crossing a motorcycle; can anyone recall seeing a driver face similar charges for left crossing a cyclist? Hello? Anyone?

New pedals can offer relief for sore knees, as cdm Cyclist discovers. A triathlete says bike theft is rampant at UC San Diego, and no one but the victims seem to care. A San Diego man is intentionally hit by a car and robbed following a dispute on the street. An author looks at the 2009 Race Across America; the 30th RAAM edition kicks off today and Wednesday. The Redwood City cyclist who wobbled and fell shortly after being passed by a driver who witnessed the crash in her rearview mirror has died from his injuries; thanks to Richard Masoner for the news. The Sacramento Bee profiles a man who makes whacky whimsical bikes. This year’s AIDS/LifeCycle ride raises a record $13 million.

You, too, can become a bike advocate in three easy steps. Dave Moulton says the freedom to drive should not outweigh the freedom to stay alive. The Portland Oregonian looks at women riders of every kind. Lance Armstrong accuser Tyler Hamilton is banned from an Aspen restaurant after a confrontation with Lance; the feds are informed of the incident. Boulder CO opens a $3.2 million off-road bike park. Springfield cyclist says someone finally got it right in a story about a cyclist hit while riding on the sidewalk. A Texas man dies while raping a 77-year old woman after riding his bike two miles to his victims home; karma can be a well-deserved bitch sometimes. Minneapolis holds its first ciclovia. Delaware sets up bike checkpoints to educate inexperienced cyclists. Virginia Beach gives itself six years to become bike-friendly, while someone is sabotaging local cycling routes. The country’s most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians prepares a new road safety campaign that appears to blame cyclists.

Cambridge gets new signs allowing bikes while banning cars; can we put those at all the entrances to L.A.? If cycling is to thrive, we need to replace cities built for cars with infrastructure that will encourage people to ride bikes. Animals and unpredictable drivers can make tranquil country roads less safe than they seem. Alberto Contador threatens promises to defend his title in the Tour de France. False environmental arguments against building bike paths.

Finally, there are reasons not to trade your roadie for a trendy new fixie. On the other hand, you don’t want ride an ebike in New York, either. And Josef Bray-Ali shows the cutest possible use for a bakfiets.

15-year old cyclist killed in Norwalk collision identified

The teenage cyclist who died tragically — and needlessly — a full week after he was struck by a car has finally been publicly identified.

The Whittier Daily News reports (scroll down) that 15-year old Norwalk resident Jonathan Acosta Fernandez died from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car driven by Ana Chavez of Whittier on June 3rd. The collision occurred near the intersection of Alondra and Pioneer Blvds in Norwalk around 3:10 pm; Fernandez was reportedly leaving the Norwalk Indoor Swap Meet when he was struck.

Police say Chavez was traveling at 60 mph at the time of the collision. She was initially booked on suspicion of felony drunk driving, with a bond $100,000, and is due to be arraigned on a charge of vehicular manslaughter in Downey Superior Court on Tuesday.

And once again, the authorities and the press seem to think a tiny bit of plastic and foam atop a rider’s head can offer some sort of magical protection against an accused drunk driver in a speeding vehicle.

Yes, it is important to wear a helmet; I haven’t ridden without one in over 25 years.

But Fernandez’ fate was sealed the moment an allegedly intoxicated driver got behind the wheel and put her foot down hard on the gas. Even if he’d been wearing a full body flak jacket, it would have offered little protection against a vehicle driven at that speed.

My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jonathan Fernandez.

Rider killed in collision with SUV in Camarillo Saturday (Updated)

Last night, I saw a brief notice from the Ventura Star that a cyclist had been injured in a collision in Camarillo on Saturday afternoon.

This morning, the worst fears were confirmed when the story changed to report that the rider had died at a local medical center.

No details are available at this time, other than the collision with an SUV occurred around 1:15 pm at the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Freedom Park Drive.

This is the third cycling death reported so far this year in Ventura County, and the 31st in Southern California.

Thanks to DC for the tip.

……..

Update: the cyclist has been identified as 76-year old John H. Dillingham Jr. of Camarillo.

According to the Star, Dillingham was attempting to turn onto Freedom Park Drive from Pleasant Valley Road when when he was hit by a car driven by 63-year old Eva Labrador of Oxnard. Yet the paper also says he “accidently” veered into the eastbound lane in front of Labrador’s SUV; she was reportedly driving at 55 mph and unable to avoid him.

Unfortunately, the story does not explain which direction Dillingham was riding, or what the speed limit is on that stretch of roadway. Reading between the lines, it sounds as if he was riding east on the shoulder of the road, and moved into the traffic lane to make his turn; however, that is pure supposition based on the minimal description and the satellite photo of the scene.

It is important to remember is that, unless the police have other witnesses, the only description of how the collision unfolded could be coming from the driver.

Unfortunately, Dillingham isn’t around to defend his actions or explain his version of events. 

My condolences to his family and friends.

Update: TQ reports that Dillingham was riding with a friend, so hopefully the investigators are getting both sides of the story. And Will Campbell does what I didn’t, checking Google’s street view to discover a speed limit sign indicating the limit near the park is 50 mph.

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