Manny Ramirez defense leads to acquittal for Gordon Wray; The Times’ Hector Tobar likes bikes

Evidently, killing a cyclist because you can’t see is nothing more than an accident.

Just say the sun got in your eyes, and walk away.

That’s what happened today, as Gordon Wray was acquitted on a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of Doug Caldwell.

A jury of his peers — though not necessarily the victim’s, since cyclists are usually excluded from bike case juries — took little more than an hour to agree that the prosecution’s case failed to meet the necessary burden of proof.

Never mind that most rational people would agree that the sudden, violent death of another human being should amount to more than just “oops.”

However, Wray’s attorney astutely played the Manny Ramirez defense, claiming the sun was in his client’s eyes at the time of the collision. And rather than pull over until he could see, proceeded to slam into two other people who had the misfortune of sharing the road with him.

At least when Manny used the excuse, he only lost the ball and allowed a few runs to score.

The crux of this case was CVC 22350, which reads:

No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

Unfortunately, as cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels points out, the problem for the prosecution was determining just what speed was reasonable under the circumstances. They were forced to argue that if Wray was truly blinded by the sun, he should have slowed down to a speed that allowed him to see the two riders, even if that meant coming to a full stop.

The defense countered that Wray understood the risk posed by the sun shining in his eyes, and slowed down to 35 mph in a 50 mph zone as a result.

Except that still wasn’t good enough. And a well-loved man died as a result, while another suffered road rash so severe that he required plastic surgery to repair the damage.

Yet the jury’s reaction was to be expected.

Virtually every driver has found him or herself in that same position at least once. And when they put themselves in Wray’s position, they had to ask what they would have done under the same circumstances.

Which, given the verdict, should serve as a frightening warning to everyone else on the road.

If you want to look on the bright side, it was a victory for cyclists that this trial ever came to court. The case was never strong, and it shows just how seriously authorities took it that charges were ever filed in the first place.

But my heart breaks for Caldwell’s family, who had to watch the man responsible for his death walk away, knowing he’ll never be held accountable in criminal court.

Maybe they’ll have better luck in civil court, where the burden of proof is lower.

Although this acquittal won’t help.

……..

Better news comes from the Orange County Transportation Authority in the form of OCLINK, which they describe as “an innovative and convenient pass that allows riders to hop on trains and buses throughout the county.”

According to their release, the OCLINK pass provides unlimited weekday transfers on a buses and Metrolink trains throughout Orange County for just $7 per person. As a result, OC cyclists can easily hop the bus or train to the riding destination of their choice — even if that happens to be in L.A. or Ventura County — then return home without breaking the bank.

For those of us a little further away, Metrolink is now offering an All-Weekend Pass for just $10 a person, allowing unlimited train rides from 7 pm Friday to midnight Sunday. And anywhere Metrolink travels throughout Orange, L.A., Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

Which means you can now take the train to one of those great far-flung riding routes you’ve only heard about, then ride the rails back home without breaking the bank.

The downside is, like the long-despised and recently revoked Metro policy, Metrolink allows only two bikes per passenger car. Although rumor has it they’re considering a prototype bike car that will accommodate up to 20 bikes, making future group tours by bike and train a more viable possibility.

Maybe we should encourage that idea.

……..

LADOT Bike Blog has announced that the city’s long-awaited Bicyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance is finally ready for final approval, and should come before the full council sometime in the next two weeks.

The groundbreaking ordinance, the first of its kind anywhere in the U.S., would make harassment of a cyclist a civil matter, rather than criminal, allowing riders to take threatening drivers to court themselves. And it contains a provision for legal fees, making it worthwhile for lawyers to take cases that might not otherwise be financially viable for them.

Meanwhile, reader Alejandro Meruelo writes to remind us that L.A. Mayor — and my CicLAvia riding buddy — Antonio Villaraigosa has asked for suggestions on how to make L.A. more bike-friendly.

Meruelo suggests using the Ask the Mayor website to encourage hizzoner to inform law enforcement officers that CVC 21202 allows cyclists full use of the lane under many, if not most, circumstances. While every LAPD officer should be well versed on the subject thanks to the department’s bike training video, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little official support from the mayor’s office. And it could carry a lot of weight with other law enforcement agencies that aren’t nearly as enlightened.

……..

The Times’ Hector Tobar talks with some of L.A.’s Ridazz, and decides that the city needs an attitude adjustment regarding bicyclists — concluding that we’re not only a part of the community, but have as much right to the roadway as anyone else.

And yes, that chill you felt was hell freezing over, as the Times has officially crossed over to our side.

Mostly.

Contrast that with this absurdly biased anti-bike lane piece from New York’s WCBS, which argues that city streets should accommodate the 90% in cars and buses, rather than making space for the 10% who ride bikes — even if those bike riders make more room for everyone else. And suggests the danger posed by theoretical bomb-laden bicyclists, who might conceivably use the new lanes to roll up in front of the Israeli consulate.

Because terrorists evidently aren’t brave enough to take the lane in New York traffic.

……..

Bike friendly ad agency Colle+McVoy — the people behind my all-time favorite bike-to-work ad (scroll to the bottom) — has created a Facebook app to let the world know you’re out on your bike. Just download the app, and it will replace your profile photo with the Out Biking image when you ride.

Although I’m not sure I want my clients — or my wife — to know I’m out riding when I should be working.

……..

Finally, thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding this photo from Jonathon Weiss, showing the new bike-friendly ads on the back of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Buses. I was pleasantly surprised to see that one myself the other day, but was a little too busy trying to survive the obstacles blocking the Ocean Ave bike lanes to grab a photo myself.

Evidently, Santa Monica drivers assume that if we can use their lanes, they can use ours.

90 comments

  1. Truth says:

    It is amazing how one sided you are. You don’t mention the fact that Scott Evan lied as to where they were riding. They were not riding on the side of the road in a single file line but swerving back and forth across the road. If in fact they were riding on the side then maybe there handle bars would have been hit. There was a witness to this fact as well as evidence that the skid marks did not go out of the #2 lane. I am pretty sure that most of your readers know how dangerous this area is. There is much more evidance of where they were riding (in the middle of the street) So if a child runs out into the middle of the street when they know is dangerous is the fault the drivers as well? I feel sorry for Mr.Caldwells family as well because they had to go through this because of the lies of Mr.Evans. Not only that but a man just driving to work had to go through all of this and it was hell for him and his family. Maybe bicyclists should take some responability for their own actions.

    • bikinginla says:

      No experienced cyclist would weave across the lane in the manner you describe. We all know that we risk death every time a car comes up from behind, and experienced riders like Evans and Caldwell take measures to minimize the danger.

      When the primary witness you describe is a convicted felon who has to testify in handcuffs, I think any credibility goes out the window.

      And for your information, bicyclists are legally entitled to ride in the traffic lane, rather than in or near the gutter; it’s usually safer because it places cyclists directly in the sight line of oncoming drivers — at least the ones who are paying attention at the time.

      Sorry, but I have a lot more sympathy for the family of the victims than I do for the careless driver who killed them. He may have to live with what he’s done, but at least he gets to live.

      As for someone taking responsibility for their actions, I’d lean a lot more heavily on the ones who operate vehicles capable of killing other people. But hey, that’s just me.

  2. Truth says:

    Were you in the court room at all or are u relying on heresay? If Mr Evans was not in the middle of the street then how did the damage get on the front drivers side of the bumper and hood. The damage from Mr.Caldwell was in the middle of the truck hood and windshield. If they were on the passanger side then how exactly did the damage get there? The witness may be a convicted felon but funny how her testimony corraberates with Mr Wray and the evidence. Does it occur to you that the jury found him not guilty because of the evidence? When the sun is in your eyes do you pull over? Great to say what he should have or could have done but you were not in that situation and as much as I hope that you would be, I don’t think anyone should get hurt so you can open your eyes and see the truth.

    • bikinginla says:

      Actually, yes, when the sun is in my eyes I do pull over. And yes, I can say that is exactly what he should have done, based on the results.

      And while I was not in the courtroom, my comments are based on feedback from people who were.

  3. John says:

    There’s no doubt that anyone loosing their life in an accident is a horrible tragedy. But to press criminal charges against a man who was doing nothing illegal (no drugs, no alcohol, no cell phone use…etc) isn’t right. If Mr. Wray broke any laws he would have been arrested or fined at the scene. Unfortunately accidents happen everyday. Thus why all drivers should carry a good insurance policy. You can be killed in a car, on the street, on a job…. There’s risks in everything that we do as humans. If bicycles are viewed as a vehicle and are given all the same rights as a car…. Why don’t bicyclist have to carry insurance polices or follow all the rules of the road??? I never see cyclist signal for turns, slow down for traffic. Maybe bicycles should have headlights, brake lights, tail lights, turn signals, and a license plate. I can’t even tell you the countless times I see cyclist pull up to a red light, look both ways, and proceed to ride through the intersection. Just some food for thought.

    • bikinginla says:

      John, I have to disagree with you about this being an accident. It’s actually hard to have a traffic collision; it requires one or more people breaking the law or operating in a careless manner. It is seldom, if ever, just an “accident.”

      That’s not to say the driver was at fault; despite what that other commenter suggests, I don’t know who was at fault in this case. I know how it looks to me, based on the evidence available to me as well as my own experience as a cyclist, but I could be wrong.

      And actually, that insurance we all carry helps contribute to the dangerous state of our streets, with over 30,000 Americans killed every year, because there are seldom any consequences for our behavior behind the wheel. Have a wreck, insurance pays, go on with your life as if nothing happened. If drivers actually had to pay for the consequences of their driving, we might all drive more cautiously and safely.

      Cyclists are required to obey all traffic laws, just as drivers are. But just like drivers, there is a sizable percentage who break those laws on a regular basis. Or are you one of the few who never speeds, and always signals and stops for stop signs?

      If you can figure out how to add turn/brake signals, et al, to a bike without decreasing its performance to the point of impracticability, you’ll be sitting on a gold mine.

      • John says:

        I break laws all the time….. Accidents are not always “breaking the law” So… If I was driving next to you, and you swerved your car into my lane cause you didn’t see me, and we got into an accident. DID YOU OR I BREAK A LAW?????? Would I take you to court and charge you with a criminal charge? No cause I’m a good person.

        • bikinginla says:

          As I said, it can be breaking the law or carelessness. Accidents are seldom accidents.

          If I swerved into your lane because I didn’t see you, I would be at fault; the law requires that I be aware of other vehicles around me and change lanes safely. And it is not your decision on whether I face criminal charges in that case; that is the job of the DA/City Attorney. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a good person.

          By all accounts. Dr. Christopher Thompson was a very good person, except when it came to sharing the road with bicyclists.

          • john says:

            Really? ITS AN ACCIDENT. Didn’t mean to do it. No foul play. People make mistakes…. no ones perfect. All these things summarize the point I’m trying to make. SHIT HAPPENS

            • bikinginla says:

              Thank you, John. You just demonstrated why over 30,000 die on our streets every year. Cars are big, dangerous vehicles that can kill when they are used carelessly; until we all recognize that, people will continue to die on our streets.

              I can’t speak for you, but as far as I’m concerned, one death is one too many. Let alone the countless people who are seriously injured every year.

              Shit happens, and people die. What part of that equation is okay with you?

            • john says:

              People do die. Some on purpose. Those are the ones who should file criminal charges.

          • Truth says:

            Right around the time of this accident another one occured to some friends of ours. A mother and her two children were walking down the side of the road at dusk when a 18 year old woman reached behind her seat for a water bottle and swerved and hit the mother and one child. Killed them both, the other daughter watched in horror. Eight monthes earlier their father had died of a heart attack. The parents had 5 children. That left 4 children without a father , mother or sister. They did not press charges against the girl because they are loving and forgiving people. So when you say that it is the DA/city attrny that is not true. Theres only 2 reasons to sue and that is vengeance or greed. Both of which are not good for the soul. That 18 year old has been thru hell herself for what happened and if you think Mr Wray is happy go lucky and not a care in the world you are very wrong. This has taken its tole on him and his family, every day of their life! Yes Mr Caldwell is not here and his family will never be the same again but the ramifications of this accident are ripples in everyone involved. Forgiveness for the ones who deserve it is a great virtue. He did not mean for this to hapen and would take it back if he could. Punish the ones who truly are negligent and have compassion for the ones who didnt. Every one he knows is more careful around cyclist. I know all cyclists arent bad but there are a few that don’t follow rules, what do you say to them?

            • bikinginla says:

              Sorry Truth, you’re confusing criminal and civil law. Only the DA or CA can decide whether to file a criminal case; that decision can have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the victim wants to press charges.

              As for you’re judgement that only greed or vengeance is a valid reason to file a civil suit, you forget both recovering damages — like the lifetime earnings this family will no longer have as the result of a moment of carelessness, and the concept of justice. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean letting the guilty go unpunished.

              I am not unfeeling of the toll this has taken on Wray and his family, but it pales in comparison to the toll it has taken on Caldwell’s family, no doesn’t it?

              As for what I say to the cyclists who don’t follow the rules, I say exactly the same thing I always have. Traffic laws apply to everyone, and exist to keep us all safe on the streets. Whether you are a cyclist, driver or pedestrian, you have an obligation to observe the law and protect the safety of yourself and everyone with whom you share the road.

            • Truth says:

              There was a of a settlement which was not taken and he was a smart man so I am sure he had life insurance. He could have passed away from a heart attack next week and she would have had less. Lets not forget that the 2 cyclist were going 13 to 15 mph in the roadway of a 50 mph street, as evidence clearly showed by where they were hit as well as evidence on the bicycle tires, when do people take responsabilty for their own actions.It may be legal to ride in theroad but that doesn’t make it safer and like it or not evidence proved they were swerving back and forth.

            • See my comments further on in this blog under VA BF.

        • bikinginla says:

          So John, if collisions are just accidents, how many deaths are acceptable as a result? 30,000? 50,000? A million?

          Every day, 89 Americans leave home every day and don’t come home because of traffic “accidents.” It could be you, it could be me, it could be someone you love.

          Until you, me and everyone else on the road accepts our responsibility to drive safely at all times, these deaths will continue.

          Maybe you can live with that. But I can’t.

      • john says:

        They add saftey features to motorcycles and cars every year that takes away the performance…..

        They should do the same for bicycles

        • bikinginla says:

          Yes, and then people will stop riding them. Which means more people in cars, and more traffic congestion. We’re part of the solution, John, not the problem.

          • john says:

            That’s the funniest comment I’ve read so far “The solution” Thanks for the laugh

            • bikinginla says:

              Okay John, so evidently you’re happy with the current level of traffic congestion? Now consider every single person you see on a bike, and imagine them in cars — adding tens of thousands of more cars in your way every time you drive.

              Every single bike you see represents one car that isn’t on the road. And the more people we can get on bikes, the easier your commute will be every day.

              If that’s not part of the solution, I don’t know what is.

  4. Gotta love the WCBS about the NYC bike lanes and “Bedlam”, if only to note the link on the same page for “Fatness Survey: 1 In 4 New Yorkers Are Obese”. In the piece, a tourist from Colorado believes the problem in New York is the environment.

    “The weather here presents some type of challenge when, four or five months out of the year – like last year, with all the snow that was here people probably didn’t get out and exercise as much as they would have,” he said.

    Irony??

  5. Sam says:

    I am tempted to move to L.A. just for the anti harassment ordinance.

  6. Skip says:

    Just for the record here – negligence does not depend on intent. What is used as a guide is whether a person engaged in an action that was grossly outside the norm of expected behavior, and in so acting, caused someone to die.

    What is unfortunate, is that our society is conditioned to believe that driving too fast for conditions (blind corners, sun in eyes, rain obscuring windshield, near pedestrians or cyclists, etc.), driving distracted (i.e. reaching for a bottle in the back seat) are not outside the norm of expected operator behavior and so death that results is not negligence, but “an accident”. To reduce these kinds of deaths, what we really need a shift in how people view these actions so they are considered negligent. Similar to how attitudes shifted away from drunk driving – after all, we didn’t alway have drunk driving laws on the books.

    To the commentators who see nothing wrong with killing someone while simply operating a motor vehicle, do you think it is negligent for a sober person to shoot a gun in a backyard adjacent to others in a tighly packed neigborhood? If someone gets killed in a yard or down the street from a stray bullet, it’s only an “accident”. After all, the shooter didn’t mean for the bullet to hit a person outside of their yard.

  7. john says:

    Firing a gun in the open air in a crowded neighborhood is a stupid analogy. You fire a gun to kill someone. Driving your truck to work and accidently hitting someone is tragic…… but not on purpose. BIG DIFFERENCE IN MY BOOK

    • bikinginla says:

      Funny you think so. Many, if not most, cyclists see motor vehicles exactly that way, as loaded guns pointed at us. It may be a big difference in your book, but just a slight distinction from our perspective.

      When you get that, maybe you’ll start to understand.

      • More says:

        i enjoy how all the responses from this site are all ONE persons opinion! But isnt it also true that cyclists at some point or another have to drive a car? so you are not truely helping with traffic congestion and also living in LA you should be very aware of traffic conditions. if driving a car is like pointing a loaded gun, then you should be aware you are putting your own life in your hands when you get on your bike and ride down a road that cars drive on as well. Never is it acceptable for some one to kill another person if there is intent behind it or some sort of neglegience such as alcohol or drugs or cell phones, but when two cars get in an accident and some one dies, does it always mean a crime occurs? No. And if cyclist want to be given the same rules as cars on the road then the same laws should apply. And if there is truly a crime behind every accident on the roadways, wouldnt we hear about them more? So a cyclist getting injured or even killed is not always news, because ACCIDENTS happen every day.
        Im still also curious why it would take 8 months for criminal charges to be filed? Obviously at the time the police didnt see any crime being commited otherwise it wouldnt have taken so long for charges to be filed, correct?
        And isnt it also plausable that due to the shock of being in such a horrible accident that certain memories may have been distorted? since obviously even Scott Evans couldnt remember where he was when the accident occured?

        Im ver curious what kind of one sided opinion this might receive….

        • bikinginla says:

          More, you sound a lot like John, who said he wasn’t going to respond any more. This is my website; you want someone else’s opinion, go somewhere else.

          Your comment is so full of holes it’s really not even worth answering. But let’s start with a few basics.

          First, there is no such thing as an accident. In order for two vehicles to collide, one or both parties have to either break the law or operate their vehicle(s) in a careless or dangerous manner. That said, not every collision rises to the level of a crime; in fact, very few do. In some cases, one or more parties are ticketed, not charged; in most, it’s left for the insurance companies to duke it out.

          Second, police investigations often take even longer than 8 months. Get over it.

          Third, cyclists getting injured or killed is always news to the people involved, and those who care about them. Even armed robberies don’t make the news all the time.

          Fourth, while I’ve been riding a bike for 30 years, I’ve been driving a car for nearly 40. Want to know how many at-fault collisions I’ve had in that time? Zero.

          And yes, cyclists do sometimes drive cars. But while we’re on our bikes, we’re not causing traffic congestion.

          Now please, sober up before you come back.

          • More says:

            im not john and dont worry im sober, and your response is exactly how i figured it would be. its interesting two different people can come to the same conclusions. funny how you fail to mention how its ok to lie on the witness stand when being questioned in a criminal lawsuit under oath. and maybe if the LAPD had handled this accident correctly and done a better investigation, taking into consideration all evidence and eye witness statements and given better testimony then there might have been a different outcome. did u ever think those factors played into the jurors decision?? i hope you have a good night cuz i surely am. Thanks again for your one sided opinion!!

            • bikinginla says:

              You’re welcome. And if you’re sober, I’m the Queen of England.

            • Willieryder says:

              If everyone road bikes. You would have more traffic because most bicycles on seat one rider. Not to mention you would have a way slower flow of traffic everywhere. I enjoy riding my mountain bike on trails when I have free time.

      • MrHoss says:

        DTA. Don’t trust anyone. When I’m riding on the street, I just figure everyone is out to get me. Defensive riding. I don’t trust cars, pedestrains, animals, fellow cyclist, anyone can make a relaxing ride into a horrible day. I’m going to have to agree with John on this post. the loaded gun example is just plain dumb.

  8. It takes a hell of a lot of patience to put up with people who think a person in a car killing someone, whether on purpose or not, is acceptable. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to report some of the tragedies you share. Your blog is important, thank you for writing it!
    -Severin

  9. bikinginla says:

    Thanks Severin. Usually I love writing this blog, but after a week like this, I needed that.

  10. John says:

    You people are full of yourselves. I won’t waste my time responding to this garbage.

  11. John says:

    Don’t let a car hit ya, K?

  12. Truth says:

    You keep talking about negligance on the part of the car driver but what about the cyclist who 1 knew it was a dangerous road 2 also had blinding sun in their eyes and failed to pull over and 3 were not staying in a safe spot. When i cross a the street I look for cars and make sure I look into the eyes of the driver before crossing because even though I have the right of way I know that accidents happen because sometimesdrivers don’t see you

    • bikinginla says:

      One, cyclists are allowed to ride any road, whether or not you think it’s safe to do so.

      Two, it’s up to the cyclist to determine the safest place to ride, not up to drivers to make that determination for them.

      Three, how the hell would you know if they were in a safe spot or not, unless you happen to be the driver who hit them? Because the responding authorities were trying to save Caldwell’s life, the bikes, victims and other evidence were moved, making it impossible for anyone to know with any certainty exactly where they were on the roadway. Yet somehow, you claim to have absolute knowledge of this.

      Four, the victims are unable to defend themselves, since one is dead and the other has no memory of the collision due to his injuries.

      Truth — and what a misnomer that is — you and your little friends have come in here repeatedly stating your side of the story, and blaming the victims rather than assuming any responsibility whatsoever for the driver.

      The fact you keep conveniently forgetting is that they were hit from behind, and did not commit, or attempt to commit, suicide. They were killed by a driver who, at least temporarily, had no idea what the hell was on the road directly in front on him.

      Do the cyclists bear some responsibility? I have no idea. And frankly, neither do you.

      I can only assume that you and the other defenders who have are either Wray himself, or his immediate family members, as this case received very little publicity, yet you claim to have inside knowledge of the case.

      So get over it. You won. The driver walked free, while Doug Caldwell is dead and his family will have to spend the rest of their lives without him.

      It takes a real ass to come in here and attack the victims — let alone do it over and over and over again.

      You’ve made your point. Repeatedly. Now get on with your life already.

    • See my comments under VA BF below.

  13. I wonder what the driving records of people who have hit cyclists look like. I’d wager not good.

    Many drivers, more than you might think, drive 50 years or more without a single crash or moving violation. They have perfect records.

    What do you think the difference is? I don’t think it’s luck.

    Again, these crashes are not accidents.

    • To Truth, I would first refer you to my responses under the July 7 entry wherein the verdict. Now, where to begin. Hmm…

      No, I don’t think it’s worth my time. You’re obviously an incredibly sophisticated thinker with tremendous ability to handle complex arguments. When I used to teach honors English, I told my students that one of my goals in helping them learn to write analytical essays was that someday they might serve on a jury and be required to use their reason to handle evidence. Clearly, you are the sort of student whom I would have appreciated. For example, you write, “Theres only 2 reasons to sue and that is vengeance or greed.” This is an extremely thoughtful assertion. That it is not backed up by any form of reasoning or identifiable school of ethics is entirely unnecessary. Both you and I know that certain truths are self-evident. (After all, you’ve appended the pseudonym to yourself.) Besides, where Truth speaks, who would dare to respond with anything but humble submission. Even my brother’s having been an eagle scout, having graduated at the top of his high school class, and earning a PhD to pursue a better world through developing smart grid technologies at JPL, would have wanted to kneel before the words of Truth. I used to think that I was blessed to know that I shared fraternity with a rare example of human nobility, one whose friends had the same high level of commitment to competence and integrity as himself. But now I have come up against the wit of one far greater than he, one who has such compelling credentials as would cause each of us to put our thoughts on hold. And I am especially thankful that people like yourself, who in ages past could never have been published, can so easily share their thoughts today. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Kant, Mills, Niebuhr move over and make way for Truth.

    • Sorry, VA BF, just posted a response to Truth under your comment. Just so you know, one of the reasons the city was taking seriously this case and was pursuing its charges with Mr. Wray was that, to my knowledge, he had been involved in multiple – I believe two – recent accidents where he was at fault. Every driver considers himself to be an A driver, but statistically that’s impossible. Average drivers are C rated, so they are in the majority. To my understanding, both from this case and what I think I know of his record, Mr. Wray is an F driver.

  14. Chetty says:

    I’ve been cycling for over 15 years now… I’ve lived in the San Fernando Valley over 35 years. Foothill Blvd. is one street you will never see me riding on. I do most of my cycling up north of Santa Barbara.

  15. MrHoss says:

    My friend had no prior accidents….. licensed for 16 years, till last year he hit and killed a guy on a harley. Harley pulled out of a driveway in front of him. Your theory Steve is way wrong. He wasnt charged with any crime cause it wad an obvious accident.

  16. MrHoss says:

    Yes I was talking to you Stephen. Read my comment. I miss spelled the word was (it was spelled wad) excuse me. I was replying to your post about driving records. My friends record was squeeky clean. No tickets, no accidents. Then his accident happened last year. It can happen to any of us. I don’t appreicate how you responded to me. Maybe you need to take a deep breath, think clearly, and stop writing so much bullshit.

    • bikinginla says:

      Mr. Hoss, you do realize that you’re talking to the brother of the man killed in this case, don’t you? Show a little more respect, or your comments will be deleted.

      My rule of thumb on comments has always been say anything you want, whether you agree or disagree with me or anyone else. But do it politely and respectfully.

      The comments on this post have gotten out of hand.

      • MrHoss says:

        I am sorry for his loss, but its no excuse to be an ass to everyone elses opnions. Just my 2 cents.

        • Stephen Caldwell says:

          Dear Mr. Horse,
          If I’m the ass, then at least my burden is an easy one: To state the importance of simple lines. Carelessness in respect to a single line turns foals (granted the right font) into fools, and colts into dolts. A single line defines 1 too many and two simple lines can take a bull and make it the butt of condemnation. Indeed, to keep a bull from goring, someone might want to teach it how to steer.

          • Willieryder says:

            Stephan your analogies to everyones posts are hard to follow. You need to be on drugs to follow your interpretations of indirect insults.

            • Since you have so astutely discerned that they are insults, then I can only conclude you must be on drugs. Unless of course, you mean that I must be on drugs to follow my own interpretations, which is something that doesn’t make sense, since I wrote them. But maybe that would make sense if I were on drugs.

  17. Truth says:

    My point here was to merely show the other side of a one sided blog. I have been in the Caldwell familys place and I understand it, the research on Mr. Caldwell shows that he was a great man and a great loss to society and I am deeply sorry for his loss. Can I counter yes I can but I have made my point. Btw I have been published several times and it has always been accurate and unbiased but I guess you don’t have to do that as it is a blog. Good bye and good luck.

  18. bikinginla says:

    Actually, I make every effort to be accurate, and I stand by every word I have written here. If you can offer evidence to refute it — not opinions or unsubstantiated defense arguments — feel free to do so.

    Am I biased? Hell yes. I will always take the side of the victim over that of the killer. Guess that’s just one of my many flaws.

    No one should ever die just for riding a bike.

    • MY 2 CENTS says:

      No one should ever die in any case. But to call someone a killer and ignore all the facts in the case is ignorant.

      • bikinginla says:

        Thank you for calling me ignorant.

        But if Wray wasn’t the killer, who was? Did the car drive itself, maybe?

        This collision may or may not have been Wray’s fault, as I have said before. But to deny that he killed anyone is to attempt to rewrite history.

        And to say that I ignored the facts in this case is to a) show your own extreme bias, and b) proof that you failed to read this post or the comments that followed.

      • bikinginla says:

        My 2 Cents, your last comment has been deleted; I’ve warned about personal attacks on here.

        If you don’t like this blog, you are under no obligation to come back.

  19. More says:

    bikinginla- i really hope some day you have to be in the other shoes (the shoes of the convicted and then tell me will u still take the side of the victim??) and maybe you will realize that you arent as perfect as you think. there is no such thing as perfect, we all make mistakes in life. No one said Mr Wray wasnt part of the accident. YOU have never said before that he wasnt at fault. they are just trying to point out that not always is some one dieing considered a crime. obviously there is bias in a case like this when both sides feel so strongly on their OPINIONS. which we are all entitled.

    • bikinginla says:

      More, I have never claimed to be perfect; far from it.

      You are right, though, that I have never said that Wray wasn’t at fault, because I don’t believe that to be true. However, I have said that it’s possible that he wasn’t at fault; it’s also possible that both he and the victims made errors that lead to this collision.

      We can never know for sure, since the only three people in a position to know have no knowledge of what happened. The driver never saw the cyclists prior to impact, so he has no idea. The only other people in a position to know are the victims, one of whom is dead, and the other has no memory of the collision.

      Oddly, you defend your right to have an opinion, yet you try to deny me the same right — on my own blog, no less — even though I have repeatedly allowed you to express yours, despite how strongly I disagree with it, and how disagreeable you have been in expressing it.

      If I was the person you seem to think I am, I could have easily deleted every comment you have made, and so denied you the ability to express your opinion on this blog. I haven’t done that for precisely the reason that I value the opinions of those who disagree with me, and acknowledge that I may not always be right.

      However, you show your true colors when you wish that I am one day convicted of a crime, while I wish neither you nor anyone else any harm.

      My only wish is that people stop killing other people with motor vehicles. And that will never happen as long as we excuse it as a mere “accident.”

      As for Wray, while I firmly believe he is responsible for Caldwell’s death and think he should have been held accountable, the jury disagreed. That’s how the legal system works.

      What your problem with that is, I have no idea. You won. Get over it.

      • Well said. The fact is, a jury only acquits a person as “not guilty,” meaning they have “reasonable doubt” about the prosecution’s argument. If I am correct that some jurors posted on your site, then I would say they went from “not having an abiding conviction” of Mr. Wray’s guilt to having a certainty of Mr. Wray’s innocence. I could, at this point, go further and cast aspersion on the intelligence and judicial capability of people who feel that to acquit as “not guilty” is the same as to deem “innocent” or, for that matter, to conclude that if one side is not guilty, the other side must therefore be guilty, as in the case of Mr. Evans being deemed a liar. But I will not. I hope the fire that has burned so passionately on your blog over the past few days is on the verge of burning out, though I must admit I may well be fanning the embers once again. In any case, kudos to BikinginLA for being a source of information as well as a chance to see what the biking community is ultimately up against. Cheers.

        • bikinginla says:

          I was going to move your comment as you requested, but I see you’re already reposted.

          And thanks for the support; after the past few days, I appreciate it more than ever.

        • Chris Willig says:

          I am a little late to the discussion, but had Mr. Wray died running into the back of a slow moving concrete delivery truck he would been at fault, full stop. The driver of the overtaking vehicle is responsible for executing a safe pass of the slower moving vehicle. Therefore when Mr. Wray continued driving with his vision seriously impaired and killed Mr. Caldwell while trying to pass him, he was criminally and civilly at fault.

          • Willieryder says:

            Wray is at fault for the accident and death… but it seems like it was a complete accident. Everyone can say what they think about how they would react…. but if you just plain didn’t see the cyclist….. its a complete freak accident. One thing I don’t get is you can get a ticket for driving to slow in a posted speedlimit area.. yet bicycles going 15 mph in a 50 mph is legal? Sounds dangerous to me. Especially on a bright morning with city trees over grown into the street with narrow lanes, a dirt shoulder, no bike lane, and cycles riding right in the middle of the lane. Its a reciepe for disaster

            • bikinginla says:

              Willie, I don’t even know where to start.

              To begin with, there is no minimum speed limit law in California, so you can’t get a ticket for going too slow. You can get a ticket for impeding traffic; however, the standard for that is that a minimum of five cars must be following and unable to pass. In addition, it has to be a single lane; the law does not apply if there are two lanes in the same direction, allowing traffic to go around the slower vehicle. And the standard is exactly the same whether it is a bike, car or any other vehicle.

              Second, bikes are allowed to ride in the traffic lane under all conditions; there is no requirement that a bicyclists ride on the shoulder of a road or in the gutter. Bikes are required to ride as close to the right as practicable; however, there are a number of exceptions to that which allow a cyclist to ride in the traffic lane if the usable portion of the lane is too narrow to safely share with another vehicle, which is the case for most streets in the Los Angeles area.

              Those narrow lanes you cite are exactly the reason the cyclists cold legally ride in the lane, and why they should. By positioning themselves in the traffic lane, cyclists place themselves directly in the line of sight of oncoming drivers, and force drivers to go around them to pass, rather than attempt to squeeze by in a dangerous manner.

              While it may seem counterintuitive, this is actually by far the safest way to ride, and is recommended by virtually every authority on bike safety, including the DMV.

              And if it were a recipe for disaster, as you suggest, we would have cyclists dying throughout the city on a daily basis, since those conditions exist all over virtually ever day. However, most drivers seem to have the ability to see things that are directly in front of them; those who don’t really don’t belong on the streets, now do they?

              I’m glad you enjoy riding a mountain bike; you might consider taking a bike riding course by a Licensed Cycling Instructor in order to get a better understanding of how to ride safely.

      • Willieryder says:

        The jurors just used logic and interpreted all the evidence. That’s how justice works.

  20. bikinginla says:

    Jerry, your comments are getting deleted. Come back again, and I’ll post your email and IP addresses for everyone to see.

  21. Willieryder says:

    There’s too many people in this world. Alot of dumb ones. Maybe its natures way of thinning the over crowded population!

  22. river says:

    thanks for this posting, BikingInLA. And i admire your patience regarding so many of the comments posted here. Of course, I agree that crashes are not accidents, it’s a pretty simple concept.
    The refusal to take responsibility for crashes, the blame shifting towards bicyclists, and ultimately the arrogance of most of the car drivers who have commented here is shocking.
    It is good to remind ourselves that inevitably laws supporting the rights and safety of bicyclists will increase and the laws protecting the carelessness and irresponsibility of car drivers will decrease.
    Keep up the good work.

    • GVW says:

      Accidents happen due to ones mistake. A mistake is part of human nature. Some mistakes have worse outcomes. Some learn from them. Just because you ride a bicycle doesn’t mean its automatically the vehicles fault.

  23. STEROIDLUVR says:

    MANNY RAMIREZ IS A GOOD BASE BALL PLAYER. HE DIDN’T HAVE HIS SUN GLASSES ON WHEN HE LOST THE BALL. LETS SEE YOU GUYS PLAY SOME BASE BALL LIKE REAL MEN!

  24. Louie says:

    A few years back, a local man was sent to jail because his young son got a hold of his loaded handgun. It went off by accident, the kid was hit and died.

    The man was jailed because he was supposed to have complete control of his gun and someone died because he didn’t.

    Clearly, this was a horrible, tragic accident with absolutely NO malice involved but the man was still jailed. And that’s the way it should be. It will deter others from treating their guns so casually. And you know what? It works.

    Wray was supposed to be in complete control of his “gun” (car) and someone died because he didn’t.

    Clearly, this was a horrible, tragic accident with absolutely NO malice involved but the man should still be jailed. And that’s the way it should be. It will deter others from treating their cars so casually. And you know what? I think it would work.

    • Dale says:

      You guys are so stupid with your gun examples. Cars and Guns are two different things.

      • bikinginla says:

        You’re right, Dale. Guns are completely different.

        While both guns and cars kill roughly 30,000 people every year, about 16,000 of those guns deaths are suicides. Which means that cars kill twice as many people who don’t want to die.

        And by the way, your IP address shows you’re the same person I’ve already blocked after coming on here making rude and insulting comments under the name My 2 Cents, as well as faking comments using my own screen name.

        Play nice, and you’re welcome to comment. Be a jerk again, and I publish all the email addresses you’ve used, as well your IP address. This is your last warning.

      • Louie says:

        DYING is the same whether you are killed by a car or a gun that was used irresponsibly.

    • Dale says:

      So anyone involved in any kind of accident should go straight to jail? We have enough people in jail that out tax dollars support. Last thing we need is innocent people who had accidents. I don’t know who this Wray guy is… but if I would think that he is suffering enough with the thought that he killed someone in an accident.

      • Louie says:

        Why not? A mere 6 month sentence is more than enough to convince me to lock up all my guns.

        I don’t want to go to jail over it so I’m careful with my firearms.

        I’d LOVE it if drivers felt that way about their cars. It will be safer for everybody. Even YOU Dale.

        • FYI, I believe the punishment for Mr. Wray, had he been convicted, would have been 100 hours of community service. I believe there would have also been certain statutory reimbursements to Douglas Caldwell’s estate.

  25. The Trickster says:

    It still contunues to amaze me that people seem to think it is acceptable for such a low standard of care to be applied to what essentially is heavy dangerous machinery.

    Sadly our standard of care here appears to be as low/if not lower than there – its about time we had German/Dutch style driving standards – hell even English style driving standards would improve the situation.

    • Dale says:

      The Germans have the autoban. You can drive as fast as you want on there. How is that better?

      • Louie says:

        Because German drivers are far and away superior to American drivers. Getting a driver’s license in Germany is as hard as getting a pilot’s license here in the U.S. They spend a few thousand hours and several thousand dollars taking lessons. They are very COMPETENT drivers. If they KILL someone, they will LOSE their license (and can only get it back by taking & paying for lessons again) which makes them also very CAREFUL drivers.

        Careful drivers are better for everybody’s safety. Including YOU Dale.

        • The Trickster says:

          The Dutch and the Germans also have vunerable user laws which are heavily enforced fand their licensing systems are much harder to pass than say here in New Zealand (or from what I know, the US) – I’ve got a couple of Dutch visitors staying at the moment who are scared s**tless by our bus drivers which is saying something – and compared to most New Zealand drivers bus drivers are usually reasonably sane.

  26. Justin says:

    If the victims have no memory of the collision… How can they say they were riding all the way on the right hand side of the road and not in the middle of lane? Sounds like a loophole in their testimony

  27. How is it that I never have my posts follow the entries I intended. My post dated July 10, 2011 at 4:59pm is supposed to follow the post of BikinginLA dated July 9 at 10:46 pm. BinLA. Can you move my post so it follows yours and not Justin’s?

    • bikinginla says:

      I’ve had the same problem myself. I think the sheer number of comments to this post has overwhelmed WordPress’ ability to handle them.

  28. Eric B says:

    To Stephen: I am deeply sorry for your loss. What happened to your brother is the worst fear of many readers of this blog.

    To the others, I will share my thoughts in the form of a story, which took place yesterday up on Angeles Crest Highway.

    While my own car is in the shop, I’m currently borrowing a sportier one than I usually drive. As such, I decided it would be fun to go for a hike up in the mountains as an excuse to take it out for a good drive. I left early in the morning–I was hiking for the day after all–which put me on the highway at the same time as a number of cyclists.

    In the early morning, the highway had a number of long shadows in addition to the normal tight, blind turns. While driving, I was presented with the constant possibility that around the next bend, or in the next shadow, might be a cyclist enjoying the same beautiful scenery I was there to see. Despite driving a sporty car that could more than handle the turns, you know what I did? I slowed down. I refused to overdrive my line of sight. The areas of good visibility were plenty frequent to hit the gas.

    Farther up on the highway, I caught up to a slower car. While, as the driver of a sporty car out for a Sunday drive, I was annoyed at my misfortune in being behind a slower vehicle, I waited about fifteen seconds before the other driver pulled into a turnout to let me pass. And I promptly continued my sporty drive.

    About the same time as I overtook the slower car, an even-sportier car came up behind me. As a matter of courtesy and mutual respect, I began looking for the next opportunity to pull over for him. This occurred at one of the windier parts of the highway and there was not a ready turnout.

    With the even-sportier car still behind me, I rounded a corner and came upon a handful of cyclists riding to the edge of the right lane in the shadows. As we were all going uphill, their speed was slow–much slower than mine in any event. What did I do? I got off the gas, looked up the road for oncoming traffic, edged my left wheels over the double-yellow, and overtook smoothly and respectfully.

    As I slowed down, the even-sportier car decided that the blind curve was a perfectly suitable location to pass me–at the exact same moment I was passing the cyclists. (The distance required to overtake a car is vastly greater than that required to overtake an uphill cyclist–hence the difference in relative visibility.)

    Around the next few bends, I passed a handful more cyclists in the same manner–off the gas, look for an opening, pass safely. All of this was in the same deep-shadow conditions. In a few miles I caught up with even-sportier car at a work zone traffic signal–our travel time difference was insignificance despite his openly risky behavior.

    What was it that bothered me the most about this happening? Knowing that if the driver of even-sportier car had done the worst–come around a blind corner or into a shadow and hit a cyclist–he would receive the same punishment as Mr. Wray. Ted would write about it on this blog and there would be a predictable contingent of commenters saying that the cyclists were assuming the risk by being on that highway at that hour. I could play it out in my head as I continued to drive in vivid detail. It required almost no imagination because it has happened already so many times.

    A guilty verdict may not bring back the victim of negligence, but it will cause the rest of us to think twice about our actions and avoid the negligent behavior in the future.

    To those that argue that overdriving one’s line of sight is not negligent, I am truly scared to share the road with you–whether I am on two wheels or four.

    • bikinginla says:

      Very well said, my friend. And very frightening.

      I’m often shocked by people who insist on passing when they don’t have a clear view of the road ahead of them, or in situations where it is clearly unsafe to pass, such as on corners or when one person is already passing another.

      Yet both drivers and cyclists insist on doing it anyway, needlessly risking their own safety as well as everyone around them.

      I enjoy riding and driving fast as much as anyone. But I prefer doing it in a way that doesn’t put anyone else at risk. I just don’t get it, and never will.

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