Archive for September 30, 2011

Update: San Diego cyclist dies two days after dooring

This is not the way we wanted to end the week.

Early Friday morning, a San Diego cyclist died of injuries he received after getting doored Wednesday evening.

The incident occurred around 7 pm Wednesday when 30-year old Justin Newman of San Diego was riding west on University Avenue near Kansas Street.

According to the Union-Tribune’s Sign On San Diego website, as he passed a 2008 Dodge sedan parked on the side of the street, the driver opened the door into his path. He hit it and fell into the street, suffering a major closed head injury.

He was pronounced dead at 1:30 am at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.

For a change, none of the stories I’ve seen indicate whether Newman was wearing helmet, even though this is exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed impact that helmets are designed to protect against.

And despite common perceptions that often blame the cyclist for running into a door, it is almost always the motorist’s fault when a cyclist is doored.

Under section 22517 of the California Vehicle Code, drivers are responsible for ensuring that the street next to them is clear before opening a door. And it’s been that way for nearly 50 years.

22517.  No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

The driver should face criminal charges for Newman’s death under that statute, since there is virtually no way to door a rider without violating it. So it will be interesting to see if San Diego authorities, who aren’t always perceived as being supportive of cyclists, do the right thing.

Or if they say it was just another accident. And let yet another killer careless driver off the hook.

Newman was the 2nd San Diego area cyclist fatally injured in two days this week, and the 12th confirmed traffic-related bike fatality in San Diego County this year. He was also the 55th cycling fatality in Southern California since the start of the year, matching the annual total for the last two years on record.

Update: Chuck Lowery forwarded an earlier story from the Sign On San Diego site indicating that Newman wasn’t wearing a helmet when he was doored.

And that brings up a common misconception.

Bike helmets are designed to offer full head protection at impact speeds of up to 12.5 mph, and partial protection up to 20 mph. It’s highly unlikely that Newman’s head hit the pavement at a speed higher than that in a simple dooring; had he been wearing one, there’s a good possibility that he might have survived.

Where helmets offer little or no protection are the kind of high speed collisions most people wear them for. If you’re hit by a car or truck traveling at speed, a helmet may offer some protection, but it’s not a magic talisman that will miraculously protect you from injury.

Personally, I use something else for that.

And a helmet will do absolutely nothing to protect against injury to other parts of the body.

So by all means, wear your helmet; I never ride without mine. But know their limitations. Because the best way to survive a dooring, or any other collision, is to avoid having one.

My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Justin Newman.

Breaking news: Shawn Fields guilty in death of cyclist Danny Marin; details on Jaclyn Garcia plea deal

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields unexpectedly changed his plea to guilty last week, and has been sentenced in the death of 17-year old Kennedy High School student Danny Marin.

The collision occurred on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima about 2 am on October 2nd of last year — exactly one year ago this weekend. Fields was allegedly drunk when he hit Marin, then drove home after initially stopping at the scene; police found him inside his home, sleeping on the couch.

In what was apparently a last ditch effort, Fields’ attorney attempted to have the evidence suppressed last month — including the results of Fields’ blood alcohol test — arguing that the arresting officers did not have a warrant when they entered his home, after he failed to respond when they knocked. The judge rejected that motion, ruling that the police had probable cause to arrest Fields and that there were exigent circumstances that negated the need for a warrant.

The prosecutor handling the case told Wheels that Fields pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and admitted to the special allegation that he fled the scene of Marin’s death.

He received a sentence of 7 years in state prison; with good behavior and the current prison overcrowding crisis, he can be expected to serve roughly half of that. Or less.

It won’t bring Danny back.

But at least Danny got the justice his death demanded.


In other legal news, Wheels also offers the full details on the plea bargain accepted by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia for the allegedly drunken collision that nearly took the life of cyclist Adam Rybicki last April.

Rybicky was participating in a weekly, informal group ride known as the Doctor’s Ride shortly after 7 am on Sunday, April 3rd, when Garcia’s car headed straight towards the group on the wrong side of the road.

In the mad scramble to get out of her way, Rybicki was hit head-on, and another rider was injured when he was hit by the fender of Garcia’s car. Rybicki survived, in part, because an orthopedic surgeon happened to be on the ride that day.

Reports from observers at the scene suggest that Garcia and her companions seemed emotionless and unconcerned about the carnage they had caused; maybe because it was far from her first infraction. While Garcia denied it, many people who were on the ride that day have severely criticized the apparent lack of responsibility in the letter she wrote to the court.

Rybicki remains intubated in a rehabilitation facility; while he’s lost the sight in one eye, he is able to communicate using a white board. He reportedly continues to improve, but faces a very long road back to be anything close to the man he was before.

As reported here before, the plea deal will result in just one year in county jail for Garcia. However, Wheels reports that there are more conditions to her sentencing.

She was initially sentenced to three years in state prison, the maximum term allowed for violating CVC 23153(a), which prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury.

However, the sentence was suspended and she was placed on five years probation.  As noted, she will be required to spend 365 days in county jail; the judge specifically barred serving her time on house arrest. Other conditions include court fines and acknowledging that she’s agreed to a first strike under the three strikes law.

She’s also required to abstain from drug or alcohol use, enroll in a 3-month DUI class, wear a Lindsey Lohan-style SCRAM device for one year to detect alcohol use, submit to random drug testing, and install an ignition interlock device on her car.

How about just revoking her drivers license?

Permanently, preferably.

In addition, she will have to participate in the HAM/morgue program, seek and maintain employment approved by a probation officer, and agree to submit to searches by probation or other officers without probable cause.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for November 17th, and she’s scheduled to surrender for incarceration on October 6th.

While I think most of us would have preferred more jail time, it is a tough sentence in other respects. And if she violates the terms or commits another offense, she has that suspended prison sentence hanging over her head.

Personally, I wouldn’t bet on her making it through probation without screwing up.

79-year old Escondido cyclist killed in apparent solo wreck; Coroner rules Alan Deane death an accident

What started out as a very good month on SoCal streets has turned bloody for area cyclists.

After going nearly four full weeks without a fatal collision — and yes, that’s good for the heavily populated Southern California region that averages over one bike death a week — three riders have died in the last 10 days.

The latest is a 79-year old Escondido man who apparently died in a solo collision.

According to the North County Times, the rider, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found along the 400 block of East Mission Avenue in Escondido. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Union-Tribune’s Sign On San Diego website reports that the victim was not wearing a helmet, and did not have lights on his bike. In this case, the lack of a helmet is relevant because this appears to be exactly the sort of slow speed impact that helmets were designed to protect against.

The cause of his fall is unknown;  however, police report that no other vehicles were involved.

Of course, it is entirely possible for a car to cause a crash, without leaving any sign, by cutting off a rider or passing too closely and causing the victim to lose control of his bike.

Unless a witness unexpectedly turns up, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know. But this could be exactly the sort of situation that SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill that’s currently sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature, is designed to prevent.

Are you listening, Governor Brown?

This is the 54th confirmed traffic-related death in Southern California this year, and the 11th in San Diego County. That compares to an average of just under seven deaths each year in the San Diego area, and is just one below the 55 deaths recorded in the seven county SoCal region in each of the last two years currently on record.

It’s also the 5th fatal solo bike collision this year.

Update: The victim has been identified as Jerzy Nowak of Escondido; San Diego’s 10 News reports that there were witnesses who saw him fall, and confirm that no other vehicles were involved. 


Meanwhile, the carnage continues in Pasadena, as another cyclist is injured in a hit-and run at the intersection of Walnut Street and Los Robles Ave; fortunately, he was not seriously injured.

And the death last week of popular cyclist and musician Alan Deane has been ruled accidental by the coroner’s office. What effect that will have on the police investigation remains to be seen.

Oddly, for someone whose death brought forth such an outpouring of grief, police have been unable to find Deane’s last known address.

Maybe you know where he was living?


Of course, it’s not just Pasadena. Or Escondido, for that matter.

KABC-7 reports that a 15-year old bike rider was injured when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver on the 5500 block of North Victoria Avenue in Highland on Monday afternoon. He was taken to the hospital with a head injury; authorities are looking for the driver of a black, 1980s pickup truck.


Finally, I’ve gotten word that Jeffrey Ray Adams, the driver accused of intentionally cutting off a cyclist in Santa Monica — then ranting about it in a video captured by the victim — missed a court appearance on Monday. As a result, I’m told that a felony bench warrant has been issued for failing to appear.

However, reports that the case has been upgraded to a felony charge appear to be incorrect. According to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, the District Attorney’s office still reports that the case has been referred to the Santa Monica City Attorney for misdemeanor filing, while the SaMo CA says the case is still under evaluation.

As he notes, however, it’s always possible that neither of their computer systems have been updated yet. We’ll check back in a few days.

Suicidal cyclists, lawyer-beating bicyclists, killer jerk drivers. In other words, a typical Tuesday.

A few quick notes before I jump into a busy couple of days —


An Auburn, Alabama letter writer wants to know why those suicidal cyclists insist on riding in the roadway when there’s a perfectly good bike path nearby.

Bicyclists that ride on roadways with a speed limit of more than 25 mph know that they are taking an exceptional risk, much like skydiving. If cyclists choose to get their exercise by cycling on the highway, that risk should not be put on motorists who are mostly just trying to get to and from work.

Never mind that cyclists have every bit as much right to the road as the motorists who seem to endlessly complain about us. And that “exceptional risk” wouldn’t exist if everyone — drivers and cyclists — would operate their vehicles safely and legally.

But what the writer is really saying is that he is incapable of driving safely around bikes, so anyone in his way is in danger.

As with most such complaints, all cyclists are seen as recreational dilettantes, while all drivers are just hard-working folks who only use their vehicles to earn a decent living.

Of course.

And we all have endless free time to attend council meetings and ride our bikes, unlike most decent people who have better things to do.

I know the bicyclists’ “union” comes on strong when lobbying the city council, but please consider the vast, silent majority who do not have the time to lobby the council or play in the street.

I smell a road rage waiting to happen.

If it hasn’t already.


Proof that cyclists aren’t always the good guys.

After an attorney challenged a then-teenaged London cyclist for riding illegally on the sidewalk — they call it the pavement over there — the cyclist kicked the other man in the back and threw a beer can at him.

Then as the lawyer’s wife called police, the rider tackled him, taking him down so hard the police operator could hear sound of his head cracking on the sidewalk, leaving the helpless lawyer “a whisker from death.”

The rider, now 20, has spent the last three years in jail awaiting trial. Hopefully, he’ll spend quite a few more before he is once again inflicted on society.

Meanwhile, his victim says he’d probably let it go next time he faces a similar situation.


Then again, sometimes drivers are just murderous jerks.

A British driver is on trial for running down and killing a cyclist – without even braking — then coming back to scream at the victim’s friend.

Blood tests show the driver was drunk and had cocaine in his system when he hit the 18-year old who was riding across the roadway to join his friends.

Witnesses also report he was speeding when he plowed into the rider, who had crossed after making sure the way was clear — or would have been if the driver had observed the speed limit; the lack of skid marks prevented the police from determining the actual speed of the driver’s SUV at the time of the collision.

Then after he stopped over 300 feet away, he walked back to yell at one of the victim’s companions — absurdly assuming the was the one who had been hit, while the real victim lay dying in the street.

And of course, he blamed the victim for a lack of lights, rather than his own intoxicated state and excess speed.

Because, you know, drivers like that are never responsible for their own actions.


In California bike crime news, a Sacramento mother confronts an armed robber who had stolen her son’s bike at gunpoint. And gets it back when the teenage thief throws it down and runs away.

And a Stockton man somehow fights off an armed robber with his bike helmet (5th item).


Bikeside President Alex Thompson questions why a pair of transportation experts — including the consultant who designed Long Beach’s bike facilities — were excluded from the recent invitation-only ThinkBike LA workshops.

It’s a fair question.  But somehow, I have a feeling the answer might be more mundane than his article suggests.

Meanwhile, Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu offers updates on a couple of Santa Monica traffic cases, and directs your attention to an important SaMo City Council meeting on Tuesday evening that will address bike boxes at Ocean Park and Main, as well as other bike-related issues.


You could be sucking down more soot than you think. Or at least, more than the non-biking people around you.

On the other hand, a new bicycle sensor could keep you from riding into cars. I have a similar system that helps me avoid objects in the road; I call them “eyes.”

However, there are some things you definitely should get when you buy a bike.


Finally, the Times makes just a slight boo-boo, as they drop a decimal point in a recent article. Turns out that surprisingly affordable $69 bike trailer you rushed out to buy over the weekend will cost $630 more than you thought.

But at least they’ve corrected their mistake.

Successful ThinkBike with the Dutch, a touch of racing news and lots of links to start your week

The ThinkBike LA workshops presented by the Dutch consulate reached a successful conclusion last Friday, with stunning suggestions to remake key sections of the city to be more like the bike-friendly Netherlands.

By all — or nearly all — accounts, it was an unqualified success. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate because the Dutch neglected to check with my wife’s plans for my birthday before scheduling the event.

And speaking of the Netherlands, experience in some Dutch cities shows that removing traffic signals from intersections can actually make them safer.


Italian Giorgia Bronzini successfully defends her women’s world road championship, while Marianne Vos of The Netherlands finished second for the fifth  — yes, fifth — year in a row, cementing her status as the Susan Lucci of pro cycling; the UK’s Mark Cavendish tops the podium for the men. Alexandre Vinokourov unretires for the second time. As professional bike racing has become more popular, it has also become more dangerous; thanks to Georg Wolfberg for the heads-up.

Meanwhile, a little closer to home, Cameron Dye and Lisa Norden win their respective divisions in the L.A. Triathlon.

And a 93-year old San Diego cyclist sets an age record in the 90+ category that didn’t even exist until he created it; I swear, I want to be just like him when I grow up.


A Chicago cyclist, who claims riding an average of less than 40 miles a week makes him an expert on urban cycling, is highly critical of Critical Mass while plugging his book at least three times on a single web page.

Unless you count plugging his book’s Facebook page, which makes it five.

Personally, I’ve known more than a few bike commuters who do over 40 miles a day. Not a week.


Work is starting on rehabilitating a five-mile stretch of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail in the Southbay. The top eight bike commuting major cities please raise your hand; not so fast Los Angeles. The Eastside is about to get the city’s first green bike lane. Santa Monica Spoke writes about Tuesday’s successful vote by the Venice Neighborhood Council to support the Main Street road diet. Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu says he supports the road diet, but it could — and should — be a lot better, and criticizes the LACBC for calling for better cyclist education instead of fighting for better infrastructure. Santa Monica prepares to observe Bike It! Day on October 5th, as participation continues to grow. Bike Beverly Hills updates the limited progress on making that city safer and more inviting for cyclists. The Source asks if getting around L.A. without a car is easier than it was 10 years ago; I can say that cycling is significantly better than it was just a few years ago, while bus transit is worse. Tourists — and local residents — can now enjoy a one-day bike tour of L.A. Bike theft is up nearly 80% at Cal State Northridge.

The second annual OC Gran Fondo rolls October 8th. An Orange County pedestrian says she was injured by a distracted hit-and-run Huntington Beach cop; not surprisingly, the police claim it never happened. Cool new bike racks sprout in Escondido. Two cyclists are injured after being hit by a car on San Diego’s Mission Bay; just how hard is it to negotiate a simple curve along the beach? The new state Attorney General rejects the San Diego Association of Government’s proposed transportation plan as inadequate. A San Francisco bus driver is accused of rolling over a cyclist’s arm after passing her too close, then just driving away. A Chico teenager is in a coma after he’s deliberately hit by a truck while trying to stab the driver’s friend following a failed bike-jacking. An SF neighborhood group with a history of prevarication targets a three block link in a cross city bikeway. An Oakland cyclist is killed after losing control of his bike and hitting an oncoming car head-on. Once again, state law fails to support the victim in a fatal DUI case; thank God we’re protecting the rights of dangerous drivers to go out and do it again. And again.

In case you missed it, this is what dooring looks like — and why it’s so dangerous. How to bike in heels; not normally a problem I have to deal with, though now that I shave my legs, who knows? A new rear-view camera projects the images behind you onto a handlebar-mounted LCD screen so you can watch in real time as a driver runs you over. Hawaii cyclists push for a vulnerable user law. A cyclist in my home town witnesses a fatal hit-and-run; the victim this time was a female bear cub. That New York study showing 1,000 pedestrians are injured by cyclists every year is called “pretty thin” by a colleague of the authors, while an NYC woman asks the cyclist who hit her to contact her to pay for a new pair of pants and a doctor’s visit; good luck with that, unfortunately. An all-night bike ride by hundreds of cyclists is part of a Columbia class on the history of New York City. Reports are that D.C. police are being urged to fight crime by stopping cyclists in largely minority areas and impounding their bikes if they can’t prove ownership. Nine DC council members introduce a proposed anti-assault law based on L.A.’s new bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. NPR reports that biking infrastructure has hit some speed bumps on Capital Hill.

Ottawa police charge the victim for not having rear reflectors after an 18-year old rider is hit by a car. A British Columbia rider wants to thank the cyclist who cared for him and his young son after he blacked out following a bad fall in an off-road park. A British cop is killed while riding drunk after downing a few pints with his fellow officers.

Finally, ever feel like flying when you ride? No, I mean really flying; thanks to KCRW’s always charming and elucidating Kajon Cermak for the link. Though I don’t know if these DIY kitty liter panniers would work with that bike.

And a Downey reporter follows a cyclist being recorded riding naked in Long Beach; though if the rider was in fact wearing a cape and helmet, I don’t think he was technically naked.

Update: Second cyclist killed in Pasadena in less than a week; charges filed in Downtown L.A. death

Update: The victim has been identified as Alan Deane, a popular L.A. cyclist and musician; tragically, he died on his 61st birthday. There will be a memorial ride in his honor on Sunday the 25th, starting at 6 pm at Pasadena Memorial Park; a ghost bike will be installed at the site of the collision.

Update 2: the Glendale Noon Concerts wrote the following about Alan on Facebook:

The October 5th concert will be dedicated to the memory of Alan Deane, musician and devoted friend of the Glendale Noon Concerts, who passed away yesterday, September 22nd, his birthday. In his long career, Alan had been guitarist/vocalist for the Captain & Tennille, the Grass Roots, Johnny Rivers and countless television and film projects. He was also an actor and green transport activist.

Thanks to Vincent Chang for the link.


This has been a bad week for Pasadena bicyclists.

Just days after Jocelyn Young was killed in an alleged drunken hit-and-run after falling off her bike, news came today that another bike rider has died on the streets of Pasadena.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, the 61-year old Los Angeles resident, who has not yet been publicly identified, was riding east on the sidewalk bordering Colorado Boulevard when he entered the crosswalk at Terrace Drive at 6:13 pm Thursday.

He was hit by car driven by an unidentified 19-year old Pasadena man who was making a left onto Terrace Drive from the opposite direction on Colorado Blvd. The victim was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Unlike the earlier case, in which Nicholas Avila allegedly fled the scene after running over Young, the driver remained at the scene. And not surprisingly, was uninjured in the collision.

The Star-News reports that the victim was not wearing a helmet; whether that could have made any difference remains to be determined.

The case is still under investigation; however, state law is unclear on whether it’s legal to ride a bike in a crosswalk.

A recent attempt to clarify the matter failed when the state legislature passed a law allowing bicyclists to ride along a crosswalk. It’s unclear, though, whether that means cyclists can ride in the crosswalk or next to it; the state Attorney General’s office has declined to clarify the matter despite repeated requests.

This is the 52nd confirmed bike-related traffic fatality in southern California this year, and the 18th in the Los Angeles area. It’s also just the 2nd cycling death in SoCal this month.

But even one is one too many.


In another case, LAPD Sgt. David Krumer reports that charges have been filled in the death of a cyclist in Downtown Los Angeles last July.

This is the case in which the rider was initially reported to be collateral damage in a road rage dispute between two drivers; however, the road rage angle was quickly dropped by police investigators for lack of supporting evidence.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, will face a charge of vehicular manslaughter. Sgt. Krumer identifies the applicable section of the penal code as section 192(c)2:

192.  Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.

(c) Vehicular–

(2) Driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, but without gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.

I’m still working on getting the name of the victim, as well as that of the driver; while the victim’s Central American family has been notified, he has not yet been publicly identified.

No felony charges for Jeffrey Ray Adams, Venice NC approves Main Street road diet

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that the D.A. has declined to file criminal charges again Jeffrey Ray Adams, and referred the case to the Santa Monica City Attorney.

Adams is the driver who allegedly intentionally collided with a cyclist in Santa Monica last month, then ranted about it on video, threatening the rider, witnesses and everyone within earshot.

To be honest, I’m not surprised.

While his behavior was outrageous, the rider’s injuries don’t support a felony filing under California law, which pretty much requires the loss of a major body part before any crime involving a moving motor vehicle is taken seriously.

And the rider didn’t help himself by sending an angry email to a number of local officials demanding justice just hours after the incident.

If the D.A.’s office saw that — and there’s every reason to believe they did — it could have played a significant role in their decision not to file.

Don’t misunderstand.

Adams’ actions were incredibly stupid, dangerous and offensive, and — in my personal opinion, anyway — should prevent him from ever operating a motor vehicle again. And if the law was better written, he’d be facing considerable jail time.

But felony charges were never likely in this case.

So now it’s up to Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie to provide some semblance of justice.

And get a dangerous driver off the streets before his aim improves and he kills someone next time.


The Venice Neighborhood Council voted Tuesday to support the Main Street road diet and bike lanes after receiving support from cyclists and local residents — though not everyone agreed.

And in a pleasant change, the VNC asked LADOT to come back with more suggestions to make the plan safer for cyclists and pedestrians — unlike the recent controversy over the Valley’s Wilbur Ave road diet, where the “compromise” ended up making the bike lanes significantly more dangerous for riders.

LADOT opened the meeting by revising the plan to add 6” to each bike lane, taking the space from the center turn lane, after complaints that the lanes would place riders in the door zone.

Eric Weinstein reported from the meeting:

I think it was the community support for this project that carried the day. The VNC stayed late into the night to resolve and vote this project – you could see them getting tired of endless debate. The big majority voted for. Kudos to the chair (and the parliamentarian) for getting this voted. Should be striped and signed within a month or so. A very long process for some more lanes connecting Santa Monica to Windward Circle!

It’s not perfect.

But as someone who regularly rides both the pre-road diet L.A. and post-road diet SaMo sections of Main Street, I can tell you the much-derided Santa Monica section is much safer and more pleasant to ride, even if it could use improvement.

Hopefully, we can look forward to something better down the road.

But this should be a lot better than what we have now, for cyclists and pedestrians.

And drivers, too.

And on a related note, the LACBC’s Colin Bogart reports that the Burbank City Council voted to keep the bike lanes on Verdugo Avenue, by a vote of 3 – 2.


The seriously anti-bike L.A. Weekly goes out of their way to take yet another needless slam at L.A. cyclists in an article trash found on the beach during Coastal Cleanup Day, as Simone Wilson writes:

• “Condoms all over the place,” according to the Times. Nothing new, says King. As common as plastic horses and bike kickstands. (Not so green now, are we, Team Bike!)

That might be a valid comment if cyclists were in the habit of throwing parts of their bikes into the ocean.

The Weekly somehow ignores the possibility that a bike kickstand might end up on the beach after a bike was stolen and dismantled for parts. Or that one of their own readers got riled up by the paper’s bike baiting and ran a rider down on the bike path, strewing parts everywhere.

No less likely than their implication.

Most likely, however, kickstands and other parts can simply fall off poorly maintained bikes as they ride down — wait for it — the bike path.

You know, the one that goes right along the beach.

Yeah, that could never happen, any more than you might find car parts along a highway.

Seriously, we had higher journalistic standards when I ran my high school paper.

Thanks to Kim for the heads-up.


If you missed the first public session of the Dutch-sponsored ThinkBike this morning, you can still sign up for the closing session on Friday afternoon, followed by an after party at the new Angel City Brewing Downtown.

Richard Risemberg writes about riding with the Dutch experts on their way from LAX to Downtown on Wednesday.

Yes, they rode in. From the airport.

Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to make any of it, since the Royal Netherlands Embassy neglected to check with my wife’s plans for her vacation before scheduling the workshop, but twitter users can follow along at #ThinkBikeLA.

And despite attacks on cyclists from some misguided quarters, places with lots of cyclists — like the Netherlands, for instance — are safer for pedestrians, as well.

Then again, like some local weeklies we could name, the NY Daily News seldom seems to let the facts get in the way of a good story.


Inspiring thoughts on what L.A. can learn from NYC. Help set the statewide biking agenda for 2012 in Downtown L.A. A ghost bike is planted in Pasadena for hit-and-run victim Jocelyn Young. Like the rest of the city, the Beverly Hills Whole Foods fails the bike-friendly test. The Source says we could soon see a few Bikestations in L.A.; maybe Beverly Hills could put one in to make up for everything else bike-related they lack. The Claremont Cyclist offers his usual great photos of last weekend’s ‘Cross at the Cornfield, and suggests if you can’t hear with your earbuds in, maybe you should take them out. Ashley Tisdale bikes Toluca Lake with a flat fat tire. The Long Beach Gazette says it’s time to prove the bike-friendly city’s bike plan is working. L.A. County offers a $10,000 reward in the killing of Pablo Ortiz, gunned down while riding his bike in Long Beach.

Corona del Mar’s cdmCylclist takes time out from bike touring the Erie Canal to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. A San Diego area cyclist is seriously injured after apparently turning left in front of oncoming traffic — always wait until traffic is clear before turning, and watch out for speeders; thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up. Some good looking bike lanes make their appearance at San Diego State University; maybe that’s what USC needs. Bike San Diego reports that former NPR host Tom Fudge got back on a bike for the first time since he was injured in a cycling collision four years ago; by the way, if you’re not reading BSD, you’re missing some of the best bike coverage south of L.A. If you left your bike at Burning Man, maybe you can spot it here. San Francisco considers allowing bikes in commercial buildings to deter theft.

Consumer Reports says even celluloid cyclists should wear helmets. When a 20 minute-car trip can be replaced with a 10-minute bike ride, bicycling becomes the obvious choice. Turns out if you right hook a cyclist in Tucson, it’s the cyclist’s fault. Seriously. Not surprisingly, Portland developers cater to a two-wheeled clientele; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. A Seattle cyclist writes about having his life threatened by a laughing truck driver in an apparently deliberate assault. Licensing bikes is impractical, according to a Seattle radio host. A Sioux Falls driver gets a whopping 100 days in jail after mixing prescription meds and alcohol before blacking out and killing a cyclist; yeah, that’ll certainly send a message that it’s okay to get high and kill people. A Packer fan downs six beers and two mixed drinks before running down a cyclist. Former U.S. 5k champ Henry Dennis is killed when his bike is hit from behind by a drunk driver in Wisconsin; sounds like that state may have a drinking and driving problem, then again, what state doesn’t? Looks like Chicago will be the next big city to get a bike share program. A Chicago cyclist takes Critical Mass to task, as well as repeatedly promoting his own book. No airhead beauty queen here, as Miss Ohio pedals 850 miles across the state to raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. What sentence would you give a drunk driver who ran down a cyclist at 6 am on his way home from a strip club? Richmond VA will host the 2015 world road championships.

The Vancouver Sun reminds drivers to check their mirrors before opening doors; we should all send them a thank you card. Britain’s bike clubs are booming. Is it really a Cycle Superhighway if you have to get off your bike and walk it — on a barricaded sidewalk, no less? Brits debate just whose road it really is. Italian authorities implicate Lance Armstrong in paying the reputed doping doctor he claimed to stop seeing in 2004; meanwhile, Levi leaps to Quick-Step. Video of the recent European record 80 mph bike ride. Pot, meet kettle — the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association claims bicycling is a luxury few can afford. Fast cyclists live longer than slow ones. So there.

Finally, the Lovely Bicycle encounters our own framebuilder Megan Dean at Interbike, and likes what she sees; then again, doesn’t everyone?

A driver stops to help keep a cyclist safe

I received an email yesterday from a reader who wanted to thank a stranger for an unexpected kindness on her morning commute.

I’ll let her tell the story:

The truck pulled over on the side of the road, for reasons she'd soon learn

Before I headed out this morning, my blinky clip snapped.  While fumbling to rubber-band it onto the loop on my bag, the push button fell off. I stabbed at the hole with a pencil to turn it on, and failed.  Undercaffeinated and cranky, I headed out into the misty dawn, feeding myself all kinds of nonsense:  It’s almost sunrise anyway; the bike lane is wide; drivers know there are cyclists along this route; the seat stay has a (completely insufficient) knoggy skull with blinking eyes, and besides my bag has (tiny) reflective straps.

Several miles into my commute, between four lanes of Pacific Coast Highway and a slim sandy strip of solid earth next to the wetlands, a big white pick-up truck suddenly zipped in front of me, crossed over the bike lane, and came to a quick stop, half parked on the sand.  I slowed to a crawl and wondered what was up.  Was the driver having a medical emergency?  Did he need to make a phone call?   Engine trouble of some sort, maybe?  The driver, a tall male, stepped out of the truck and opened the left passenger door.  Ah, okay, so something in the backseat had spilled, or was rattling around.  Or maybe he was double-checking a child’s safety seat.  But then he pulled out a flumpy dayglo vest, and I was instantly certain he’d be changing a tire.

I was wrong.

He turned in my direction and hailed me.  I had slowed way down because, you never know, if nothing else I could offer my cell if his didn’t have enough juice.

The unidentified driver; if you know him, say thanks for all of us

He said hi and explained he’d been passing me every morning all summer, and the mornings are getting darker now, with fall coming.  He held out a brand-new, reflective, dayglo mesh safety vest and said it was for me.

I kind of stared for a moment.

Naturally I accepted it.  Then, I kind of babbled.  I don’t remember about what, although I did kind of apologize that even though I know better, I remain too stupid to wear a helmet.  Then the guy dropped a bombshell that explained a great deal of his desire to illuminate me.

Last month, on this same stretch of highway, a drunken, impatient creep in a pick-up had used the bike lane to pass slower traffic, and had then struck a motorcyclist when swerving back out of the bike lane.  This happened at half past four on a cloudless, sparkling summer afternoon.  The drunk driver fled the scene.  Two days later, I read about this in the paper, and bemoaned the rotten human race with equally appalled friends.

This guy standing before me, handing me the gift of safety?  He had witnessed the crime and pulled over, along with another horrified witness.  He stopped and knelt by the severely injured cyclist and kept talking to him until the medics arrived.

The nearest fire station, staffed with at least two paramedic-level responders at all times, is literally within sight of the crime scene; I could see it in the distance beyond the Good Samaritan’s shoulder.  Our fire department has one of the fastest response times in the entire nation–in fact, in the world.  Yet to this bystander, and certainly to the injured party, it must have seemed an eternity until the medics arrived to provide care and transport.  It is difficult to deal with a person in agony even when you know what to do.  This guy had no medical training, but he did everything right: he did nothing that would exacerbate extant trauma, and he provided psychological comfort, which has a beneficial physiological effect.  Most importantly, he gave a damn, which is more than the perp who had left the biker for dead could be bothered to do.

I thought about heroes on the rest of my commute.  In an Ethan Coen poem (from his book titled, ironically, The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way), the narrator observes a crowd of good strangers assisting a toppled geezer, and after contemplating his own possible future topple, concludes with, “Golly, I hope I get good strangers.”

I know how to provide spinal immobilization, how to assess trauma, how to MacGyver an occlusive dressing, how to manage looky-loos, and I do it if I have to.  I hold the elevator, share my hand sanitizer, and hell yeah, I’ll cork an intersection for a wobbly abuelita who can’t make it across in time.  And if she topples, I’m right there.  I support the LACBC’s City of Lights program and carry extra reflective slap bands to hand out to the so-called “invisibles.”  And yet clearly I am so lacking in common sense for myself that I worry good strangers.

I didn’t get this guy’s name.  I didn’t offer mine.  Despite my appreciation, I don’t remember whether I even thanked him.  He’ll probably see me tomorrow morning, lit up like the Fourth of July, gratitude bouncing off my new high-vis vest in blinding beams.

Dude, whoever you are, wherever you are, thanks.  Not just for the vest, but for the reminder that there are good strangers out there.

We won’t get into the argument over whether hi-vis vests should be necessary for drivers to see us.

Or the necessity for motorists to drive safely and pay attention to others on the road with them — unlike the jerk who left the motorcyclist laying injured in the road.

Her story isn’t about that.

It’s about someone who cared enough about a total stranger to do what little he could to help keep her safe. And a rider who didn’t respond defensively, but instead accepted the gesture in the spirit it was intended.

It’s also the most uplifting thing I’ve read in a long time.

And something we could all learn from.

Myself included.

Important meetings on Main St road diet and Verdugo Ave bike lanes tonight, and bike safety in Signal Hill

Just a few quick notes before I get back to work.

First up, the Venice Neighborhood Council meets tonight to discuss the planned Main Street Road diet, among other issues.

While I strongly support the plans to make the street safer and more inviting for everyone, a work deadline is going to keep me home slaving over a hot laptop long into the night.

But if you’re free this evening, I strongly urge you to attend the meeting to show your support.

Here’s what long-time bike advocate and former fellow LACBC board member Kent Strumpell has to say on the subject:


The City of Los Angeles proposes to extend the bicycle lanes on Main Street in Santa Monica to the Windward Circle in Venice.  This project will be on the agenda for the VNC Board of Directors to consider supporting at their Sept. 20th meeting.  Please come show your support for this important bikeway improvement.  You can also email the Board (see below).

LADOT counted 730 cyclists on Main St. in Venice in a 6 hour period earlier this year, making it one of the most important bicycle routes in Venice.  Providing bike lanes on Main Street from Navy to Windward Circle will create a “Complete Main Street”. The proposed bike lanes will rebalance the street and provide more safety for all road users whether they be on bicycle, foot, or in a car.  Creating a complete Main Street will require removing a travel lane in each direction in order to accommodate the bike lanes and a two-way left turn lane in the center of the road. All on-street parking will remain.

This reconfiguration of Main Street will provide better bicycle connectivity to nearby areas, help achieve more sustainable transportation in our beach community and encourage a more bike-able, and walkable Venice!

Proposed changes for Main Street in Venice


1. Encourages more bicycling and walking in Venice and fewer car trips

2. More trips by bicycle means less demand for parking

3. Businesses can benefit: increased customer access by bike and foot traffic, reduced demand for parking, calmer traffic allows more people to notice businesses

4. Deters speeding, increasing safety for all road users

5. Provides a dedicated center lane for left turns, decreasing rear-end and side-swipe collisions

6. Improves visibility for motorists exiting driveways or turning onto Main Street

7. Provides dedicated space and enhanced safety for bicycles on Main Street

8. Provides better visibility of and for pedestrians crossing Main Street


Attend the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting and speak in support.  Fill out a speaker card for the Main St. agenda item when you arrive.
When:  Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, 7PM
Where: Westminster Elementary, 1010 Abbot Kinney (just south of Main).

Email the Venice Neighborhood Council board to express your support and why you think it is needed.  Please send a email even if you plan to attend, to:

More info at:  LADOT’s blog post –

Damien offers more on the story on Streetsblog, and Gary Kavanagh offers his support after initially opposing the plan.

And on a somewhat related note, Joe Linton looks at LADOT’s approach to the proposed 4th Street Bike Boulevard, and foresees a forthcoming failure snatched from the jaws of apparent victory.


In another important bike-related meeting on a busy Tuesday, the Burbank City Council will consider making the bike lanes on Verdugo Avenue permanent.

As you may recall, a road diet was installed on Verdugo over a year ago; after complaints from some motorists, the city council voted to keep the lanes in place on a trial basis.

Today, that trial comes to an end.

If you ride in the area, you’re urged to attend the council meeting tonight starting at 6 pm at 275 E. Olive Ave in Burbank. Or if you can’t attend in person, the LACBC offers a sample email you can send to express your support.


The Signal Hill Police Department has kicked off a campaign to increase bike and pedestrian safety — which usually translates into a crackdown on bad bike behavior, rather than dangerous practices by drivers that have the potential to kill or injure cyclists, law abiding or otherwise.

However, they say the right things, for the most part, offering valid advice to cyclists and pedestrians on how to remain safe, and advising motorists on how not to kill someone.

Although nothing in state law requires cyclists to ride single file, particularly in substandard lanes where it can actually be safer to ride two or more abreast in order to hold the lane and prevent unsafe passing. And the law is quite specific that slow moving vehicles — which includes bikes — aren’t illegally blocking traffic unless there are five or more vehicles following behind and unable to go around.

But good luck arguing that point with a traffic cop who may not be as well verses in bike law as well as you are.

And I wouldn’t exactly take comfort in this comment from Signal Hill PD Traffic Department Supervisor Sgt. Chris Nunley:

“Unfortunately some people forget that the roadways are primarily for vehicle traffic and walk or run four deep across lanes of traffic.”

Actually, roadways are intended for all legal road users, which includes cyclists and pedestrians. And everyone is entitled to use the roads in a safe and legal manner, with no preference given to mode of travel.

In other words, bikes have as much right to the road as motor vehicles, though no one has the right to needlessly block the roadway.

The program is intended to start with an educational campaign before moving to an enforcement phase.

It remains to be seen whether it will be targeted equally towards all road users in a genuine attempt to increase safety, or simple be used as an excuse to crack down on cyclists.

Read more at the Signal Tribune (scroll to page 9); thanks to Nate Baird for the heads-up. (Note — all comments are mine, so don’t blame Nate; he just pointed out the story.)


A new study from a Dutch consulting group shows that the benefits of properly constructed biking infrastructure significantly outweighs the cost.

In fact, the return in improved travel times, better health and environmental benefits outweigh costs by margin of 44% — increasing to a whopping 358% if ebikes continue to gain in popularity.

It would be interesting to see if the results could be duplicated on this side of the Atlantic.

Thanks to @bplusradsport for the tip.


Much has been made of a report released over the weekend showing that roughly 1,000 pedestrians are injured badly enough by bicyclists to require hospitalization in New York State every year; roughly 500 of those are in New York City.

While that sounds damning, the report fails to note who was at fault in those collisions, merely that they occurred. And also fails to note how many cyclists were injured, as well.

So instead of suggesting, as the authors seem to imply, that it is the result of out-of-control scofflaw cyclists riding rampant on sidewalks and blowing through crosswalks, the collisions could just as easily be the result of pedestrians walking illegally in bike lanes or stepping into the path of riders.

And even that surprisingly large number pales in comparison to the roughly 15,000 New York pedestrians injured by motor vehicles each year. Yet no one seems to be calling for a crackdown on dangerous scofflaw drivers.

It should also be noted that the number of pedestrians injured in bike collisions is trending downward, despite a dramatic increase in ridership in recent years.

Testament, perhaps, to the efforts of that crazy NYDOT director Janette Sadik-Khan to make NYC streets safer for everyone.

Including cyclists and pedestrians.

Note: While I largely dismiss the results of this study, it’s important to remember that pedestrians are the only road users more vulnerable than cyclists. So it’s up to you to concede the right-of-way to pedestrians — even when they’re wrong. And never, ever ride through a crosswalk when someone is using it.


Finally, a timely reminder from L.A. cyclist, bike advocate and attorney Rosh Hirsch that if riding your bike doesn’t make you smile, you’re not doing it right.

My smile wasn’t quite that big when I was riding yesterday, but it was there.

Third grade student Tristan Hirsch demonstrates proper cycling technique, starting with the huge smile; photo by proud papa Ross Hirsch

Oregon woman killed in allegedly drunken Pasadena hit-and-run

Photo of the scene from @Waltarrrrr

Update: The victim has been identified as Jocelyn Young, a resident of Portland and a graduate of the University of Oregon; famed bike builder Gary Fisher reports she was the girlfriend of his son’s best friend.

You knew it wouldn’t last.

A remarkable stretch of nearly a full month without a Southern California bicycling fatality ended early Sunday morning when an Alhambra man allegedly fled the scene after running over a cyclist in Pasadena.

The Pasadena Sun reports that a 24-year old Oregon woman, who has not been publicly identified, was riding with her boyfriend on a 200 block of Los Robles Avenue near Cordova Street when she fell off her bike.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, she was then run over by a vehicle allegedly driven by 21-year old Nicholas Avila, who fled the scene. A witness followed him to his home, where he was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving; at last report, Avila was being held on $100,000 bond.

The victim was transported to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where she died of her injuries.

This is the first reported bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California since Enrique Bautista was killed in South L.A. on August 23rd in yet another hit-and-run; no word on whether a suspect has been identified.

This is the 51st confirmed traffic-related fatality in Southern California this year, and the 17th in the County of Los Angeles. Five of the L.A. County fatalities, and 11 of the overall SoCal total, have been hit-and-runs.

Update: Douglas Wade emailed this morning to let us know that Nathan “Bud” Tippee of Valencia has died of the injuries he received when a car went out of control following a Lancaster collision, and struck him and his wife while they participated in a group ride. She was less severely injured.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any confirmation of Tippee’s death online, but that’s not unusual; the press often fails to follow-up in cases like this.

That raises the total of traffic-related cycling fatalities in L.A. County to 18, and 52 in the greater Southern California area.

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