Archive for October 20, 2011

Update on death of Mark Leones, a call for peace in Downey, L.A. County releases bike plan

Finally, a little more information on the death of cyclist Mark Leones in Laguna Beach on Sunday.

According to the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, the 28-year old Costa Mesa man was riding with a group of six or seven riders when he lost control coming out of a curve on a downhill, struck the curb and was thrown from his bike, striking his chest and the back of his head.

Road conditions were not a factor, and no other bikes or vehicles were involved.

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve been in that same position hundreds of times over the years, where a slight wobble or patch of gravel could have meant disaster on a high speed descent.

We all want to credit our skill for the successful completion of a ride like that. But often, luck can be just as much a factor.

Maybe Leones pushed his just a little too far that day.

There but for the grace of God.

My prayers for his family and loved ones.

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The family of bike rider Genaro Ramirez calls for peace after his shooting death in Downey early Monday morning, and hopes no one will try to retaliate. It may already be too late, though, as the investigation continues into the death of cyclist Juan Gutierrez, who was shot and killed about 10 miles away less than 24 hours later.

My sympathy to the families of both victims.

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The County of Los Angeles unveils the final draft of their proposed new bike plan, offering a more than 500% increase in bikeways. Your last chance to comment of the plan could come before the County of Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission, Wednesday, November 16th at 9 am in the Hall of Records, Room 150, 320 West Temple Street in Downtown L.A.

Meanwhile, Oxnard’s new bike plan calls for 122 miles of new bikeways, while Bakersfield cyclists push for a new plan they can call their own.

And the City of Los Angeles is looking for federal funding to fill in gaps in the L.A. River Bike Path.

Update: I just got late word that the South Pasadena City Council has ordered its staff to draft a cyclist anti-harassment ordinance based on the recently passed L.A. law. Hat’s off to South Pass for taking this key step to protect cyclists — and taking the lead in spreading this vital law beyond L.A. city borders.

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The LACBC has reduced the price of tickets for next week’s 2nd Annual City of Lights Dinner to just $45 for both members and non-members alike. However, the planned Tour de Taste scheduled for next month as been postponed, with the date to be determined.

And Cannondale is teaming up with Junk Food Clothing to design two urban Bad Boy bikes to be officially unveiled at Antenna Magazine’s ReMix Lab in New York. The art, music, fashion and cultural festival will hit L.A. December 7th through 11th, at a site to be selected.

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My newly bike-riding brother officially announces he’ll be competing in the 2012 Yukon Quest.

With dogs and a sled, not wheels.

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In bike-riding celebrity news, Shia LaBeouf bikes his way back from a barroom beatdown, Gwyneth Paltrow rides through Central Park, and Will and Kate Boris Bike their way through London Town.

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Stephen Box offers a powerful indictment of L.A.’s frequently blocked bike lanes. LADOT explains separated bike lanes, and says the new Commuter Express buses will have triple bike racks. LA Cycle Chic discovers a new upscale bike shop on Venice Blvd. The Path Less Pedaled unveil their new 2012 Calendar; expect Russ’s usual breathtaking photos — and they’re working on new T-shirt and sticker designs to help pay their way to New Zealand for the winter. The Claremont Cyclist looks at last weekend’s Spooky Cross, and finds it spooky, indeed. Redondo Beach votes to approve the proposed South Bay Bike Plan and build it in 12 years rather than 20. Turns out California had a pretty decent bike route system over 100 years ago. Tour de Pink rolled through Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties last weekend. Doing the Furnace Creek 508 by fixie. All it takes to ruin a ride is a good screw. An angry cyclist delays a Bay Area Caltrain.

How slow is too slow for the Slow Bicycle Movement, and how chic do you have to be for cycle chic? The Urban Country explains what, exactly, a Dutch bicycle is. Dave Moulton says don’t be a gutter bunny. An unidentified Oregon drowning victim may have bought his bicycle in La Mesa, CA. Once again, an idiotic radio shock jock tries to boost ratings improve safety by calling for a ban on bikes, this time in Seattle; as long as he’s in the mood to blame the victims, how about ending armed robbery by banning banks and liquor stores? A Salt Lake City news anchor returns to the air eight weeks after being cut off by a hit-and-run driver. The recent Pro Cycling Challenge brought in $83.5 million to the Colorado economy. Oklahoma driver Tausha Borland files an appeal of her 24-year sentence for running down three cyclists, killing two, after drinking and taking pain killers; Witch on a Bicycle calls for respectful letters to the judge considering her appeal. Which one is really the a**hole — the slow cyclist or the impatient driver? No helmets necessary for New York bike share riders. A popular bayfront Brooklyn bike path is a mess; I so know the feeling. A Hudson Valley ninja cyclist is killed; always, always use lights and at least some light-colored or reflective clothing after dark. Politicians on both sides of the aisle agree bikes are cool. Maybe the tide is finally turning when it comes to justice for South Carolina cyclists, if you consider 90 days and five years probation justice. Zeke makes a mess of building a building a bike rack but gets it right eventually. Bike trails pump $42 million into the Central Florida economy; link via Baltimore Spokes. A fatal Florida hit-and-run may have been homicide, or maybe not.

Almost inevitably, fashion designers discover the bicycle. Not all bike racers ride marvels of modern science. Should corporate manslaughter charges be filed when known road defects cause bike or pedestrian fatalities? A new online photo library will offer free images of happy cyclists and positive infrastructure. A UK town provides bike lockers to protect local’s rides. A Sussex cyclist is deliberately assaulted with a jeep after asking the driver to kindly get off the sidewalk. Lancashire police are cracking down on bike theft, but does anyone ride with proof of ownership? Feast your eyes on next year’s official time-trial heavy route for the Tour de France. Riding two-way bike lanes on Vienna’s one-way streets. Copenhagen Cycle Chic on the five senses of cycling. Two Moscow cops run down a rider after getting drunk on the job. When a toddler is run down by a Chinese hit-and-run driver, bystanders just walk around — or drive over — the child.

Finally, even a clown can be a victim of bike theft. But at least they get it back. And look for a tongue-in-cheek — among other places — parody of the popular Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. But it may not be a bike he’ll be riding this time.

Make that nine — yet another bike rider shot and killed, this time in Pico Rivera

My apologies.

I just don’t have it in me to write about yet another bike death, the third one in the last three days. And the second fatal early morning shooting in two days, following the solo riding death of Mark Leones on Sunday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the cyclist was shot while riding at the intersection of Harrell Drive and Layman Avenue in Pico Rivera at 1:25 am Tuesday. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune identifies the victim as 33-year old Juan Z. Gutierrez of Whittier. According to the Tribune, the motive and suspects are still unknown.

This shooting took place less than 10 miles from the previous night’s shooting in Downey.

Gutierrez is the 9th person to be shot and killed while riding a bike in Southern California this year, and the 8th in Los Angeles County.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

My sympathies to Gutierrez’ family and loved ones.

And please, dear God, don’t let anyone else get killed riding a bike this week. Or at all, ever again.

Please.

19-year old Downey man fatally shot while riding his bike; 8th fatal SoCal bike shooting this year

This has got to stop.

According to the Downey Beat, a 19-year old man was shot to death while riding his bike in Downey early Monday morning.

The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found bleeding in the street on Earnshaw Avenue near the intersection with Prichard Street around 3 am. Police report few clues and no witnesses; the site reports that it’s currently unknown if he was shot from a passing car or because of a dispute, or for some other reason.

Despite the lack of public ID, the victim was clearly well known in the neighborhood, described as friendly man and a good barber who gave haircuts to local residents.

This is the eight shooting victim killed while riding a bike this year, and the seventh in the County of Los Angeles. That compares with 59 cyclists killed in traffic-related collision since the first of the year.

He may not have been targeted because he rode a bike. But the loss of a young man who hadn’t even seen his 20th birthday is every bit as tragic.

And just as much a waste.

My sympathies to the victim’s family and friends.

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Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields, who was recently sentenced to seven years in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old Pacoima cyclist Danny Marin, has filed an appeal of his conviction.

Wheels reports that the appeal was filed the same day Fields changed his plea. There’s no basis given, but it’s a safe bet that it hinges on the defense’s motion to have almost all the evidence tossed for lack of probable cause in entering Field’s home to make the arrest, which was denied by the judge.

Fields was sentenced to 2 years for the vehicular manslaughter charge, plus five for the hit-and-run, as well as ordered to pay $10,515 in restitution to the victim’s family.

He is now confined in the North Kern Prison, where he can expect to spend at least the next three-plus years with good behavior.

Update — 28-year old Costa Mesa cyclist dies in solo Laguna Beach collision

Very few details are available yet.

However, the Orange County Register reports that 28-year old Mark Leones of Costa Mesa apparently lost control on a steep downhill and crashed in a solo bicycle collision.

The wreck occurred on Park Avenue in Laguna Beach shortly after 11 am; Leones reportedly died on route to the hospital. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

Leones is the 59th cyclist confirmed to have died as a result of a bicycling collision in Southern California this year, compared to 55 in each of the last two years on record. He is also the eighth fatality in Orange County since the first of the year, and the 6th to die in a solo collision throughout SoCal this year.

My deepest sympathy to his family and loved ones.

More information when it becomes available.

Update: Still very little information on this wreck. Laguna Beach Patch reports that Leones fell on the 1900 block of Park Avenue. Commenters on Slowtwitch.com described the location as a steep downhill with a nearly 20% grade where riders can easily reach very high speeds; combined with the sweeping curves in that section of roadway, that can present a very dangerous combination that demands a high level of skill from a rider. 

If anyone has more information, please let me know.

Update: The Orange County Register offers a nice profile of Leones, explaining who he was, as well as how he died.

Spooky Cross, Racing Towards Red Hook and an ever-expanding list of upcoming bike events

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

The 2011 UCI Spooky Cross continues throughout this weekend, October 14 through 16 at Irvine’s Hidden Valley Park, 8790 Irvine Center Drive. Events include a spooky Saturday night costume ride, and a full day of racing on Sunday.

The LACBC is co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking from Friday, October 14th through Sunday, October 16th, 634 S. Spring Street, Suite 821.

Saturday the 15th, aka today, Racing Towards Red Hook screens at the Davidson / Valentini Theater at 1125 N. McCadden Place in Los Angeles. The film follows the simple rules of the 2011 Red Hook Criterium — 20 laps, one gear and no brakes. Better hurry, the screening starts at 10 am.

Occupy LA is sponsoring a Bicycle Outreach and Action Day from noon to 3:30 pm this Sunday, October 16th at L.A. City Hall, 200 North Spring Street. Riders meet at City Hall at noon to discuss bike safety and signaling guidelines, then ride to Echo and Elysian Parks at 1 before returning to the starting point at Occupy LA.

Wednesday, October 19th, the South Pasadena City Council is scheduled to discuss traffic calming, creation of an ad hoc committee to discuss redesigning Monterey Road, and possible adoption of regulations to protect bicyclists. The meeting will take place beginning at 7:30 pm in City Council Chambers, 1424 Mission Street.

The Westside’s popular Bikerowave bike co-op is hosting a party on Friday, October 21st from 7:30 pm to 1 am, 12255 Venice Blvd.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art is teaming with Santa Monica Spoke to sponsor a bicycle tour of four Santa Monica exhibitions in the region-wide Pacific Standard Time art exhibition and collaboration between over 60 cultural institutions throughout Southern California. The ride rolls from 1 pm to 4:30 pm on Saturday, October 22nd, with stops at the Sam Francis Gallery, the Eames Office and 18th Street Arts Center.  Admission is free, but registration is required; meet at 2525 Michigan Avenue, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica.

The AV High Desert Fall Century takes place on Saturday, October 22nd with rides of 25, 62 and 100 miles along the scenic roads of the Antelope Valley, with the century offering some serious climbing, while the shorter rides are good for more recreational riders. It starts at 7 am at the northeast parking lot of Antelope Valley College, near 30th St. West and Ave. J-8. The low $25 registration fee includes sag support, rest stops and lunch at the end of the ride.

Sunday, October 23rd, Richard Risemberg, Mr. Bicycle Fixation himself, leads the latest edition of his popular Stitching the River rides across all the classic bridges crossing the Los Angeles River between Broadway and Olympic in Downtown L.A. The short, 14 to 16 mile social ride meets at 10:30 am in Chinatown’s Central Plaza, with the ride rolling at 11 am.

The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, October 27th from 6 to 11 pm at CARECEN HQ, 2845 W 7th Street. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Times columnist Hector Tobar will be honored; tickets are available online.

The Malibu Canyon Gran Fondo rolls on Saturday, October 30th, starting and ending at Saddlerock Ranch, 31743 Mulholland Hwy in Malibu, with rides of 65 miles — and 6,800 feet of climbing — 45 miles and 17 miles, as well as a kids ride along the ranch, with a picnic and after party to follow.

November 1st, 3rd, 7th and 10th, LADOT will hold a series of Westside Mobility meetings to discuss the future of Westside Commuting; topics include Project Overview, Bicycle and Pedestrian, Transit – Light Rail, Bus and BRT, Roadways, Smart Choices for Commuting, Parking, and Project Ideas via Electronic Surveying. See website for times, locations and registration.

Saturday, November 5th through Monday, November 7th, the California Bicycle Coalition will host the 2011 California Bike Summit to help set the statewide bicycle advocacy agenda for 2012 and beyond. The sessions with take place at Downtown’s Kyoto Grand Hotel, with the Monday session held at the California Endowment for Health.

Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13th, the Eastside Bike Club hosts the LA Tamale Throwdown at a site to be determined, offering a chance to sample some of the city’s best tamales, coffee and pan Mexicano; bike valet courtesy of Flying Pigeon LA.

Details are finally available for the LACBC’s first ever Tour de Taste on Sunday, November 13th, from 8:30 am to 4 pm in Culver City. Group rides will depart from the Helms Bakery District, 8800 Venice Blvd, every 30 minutes to explore the Ballona Creek Bike Path, then return to Culver City to explore the area’s vibrant food scene. Tickets are $60 for LACBC members and $95 for non-members, and include the ride, food and bike valet; proceeds support bike advocacy in L.A. County.

Open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown — and a challenge to meet with L.A. cyclists

Dear Governor Brown,

By now, you’ve undoubtedly noticed a little anger  — okay, a lot of anger — directed your way from the cycling community.

Maybe you expected it when you vetoed SB 910, the three-foot passing law sponsored by Sen. Lowenthal. Or maybe you didn’t realize just how much we cared about this bill.

You see, one of the greatest dangers bicyclists face on the streets of this state comes from drivers who interpret the current requirement to pass cyclists at an undefined “safe distance” to mean anything that doesn’t actually come in contact with the rider.

No, seriously, more than one driver has actually told me exactly that when I confronted them about a pass that put my life and safety at risk.

There are many problems with that attitude.

The most obvious is that motorists frequently misjudge that distance and can collide with riders, either sideswiping them or hitting them from behind; in fact, at least two cyclists have been killed in hit-from-behind collisions since you vetoed SB 910. Maybe the drivers never saw the riders they hit. Or maybe they tried to squeeze by without giving the riders sufficient passing distance.

Chances are, we’ll never know. But many cyclists — myself included — believe their blood, and the blood of future victims, is on your hands as a result of your veto.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Cyclists also face danger from cars that pass too closely when we have to swerve to avoid obstacles in the road, ranging from broken glass and potholes to other vehicles; a simple slight swerve to the left can mean a collision with a car traveling only a foot or two away.

Larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, can pose other dangers. The slipstream of a large vehicle can be enough to blow a cyclist off his or her bike or off the road. And when larger vehicles pass too close, they can block cyclists from moving around obstacles in their way, such as parked vehicles.

Both of these have happened to me, right here in California. I’ve been blown off the road by a semi-truck that passed less — far less — than three feet away. And I’ve been blocked by a bus that passed too close, forcing me to swerve to the right and into the back of a parked car.

Fortunately, I survived both of those incidents with only minor injuries. Other bicyclists haven’t been so lucky.

Your veto message noted that you relied on the advice of Caltrans and the CHP in deciding to veto the bill. Unfortunately, you selected the two agencies most cyclists trust least to defend our rights and protect our safety.

Caltrans has a long-standing bias in favor of moving the greatest number of vehicles at the highest possible speed, resulting in poor road design and excessive speeds that continue to put all Californians in jeopardy. While they talk about making the roads safe for everyone, here in the Los Angeles area, at least, they often don’t even show up at meetings they’ve promised to attend to discuss safety improvements on our most dangerous roadways, such as Pacific Coast Highway.

Meanwhile, CHP officers receive little or no training in bicycle law, or in the physics of bicycling collisions, resulting in flawed collision investigations that too often result in blaming the victim — who may not be alive or otherwise capable of defending themselves.

These agencies gave you bad advice. Many of us believe they lied to you; at best, they failed to understand the application of SB 910 in real life situations.

Your veto message cited the specific fear that the 15 mph passing clause in this bill would cause drivers to slow dramatically in order to pass cyclists.

This hasn’t occurred in any of the other states that have a 3-foot passing law. So what is it about California drivers that makes you think they are incapable of driving safely?

The law clearly allowed drivers to pass cyclists in virtually any circumstance without slowing down, simply by moving three feet to the left or crossing the center divider when necessary. In the exceptionally rare event when that would not be possible, even under existing law, drivers would still be forced to slow down in order to avoid colliding with the riders in front of them, then wait for an opportunity to pass safely when traffic allows.

The only reason this clause was included in the bill was to allow drivers to pass cyclists around intersections or other congested conditions.

In choosing to veto this bill, you have chosen to protect drivers — who are already protected by crumple zones, airbags and seat belts — from rear-end collisions that are unlikely to ever occur.

And instead, you’ve put at risk every cyclist on our roads from dangerous passes that are almost inevitable. Cyclists who are protected by, at most, a helmet designed to offer protection from impacts only up to 14 mph.

To put that in perspective, an impact at the 35 mph to 45 mph speeds you cited has a roughly 80% risk of fatality, with or without a helmet.

In fact, your veto may have increased the risk to cyclists. Many riders have reported an increase in unsafe passing since you vetoed SB 910, as your veto sent a clear message to some drivers that it is perfectly legal to pass a cyclist at less that three feet.

Much less, in some cases.

Just today, I was passed by two separate drivers at distances of less than one foot — close enough that a simple sneeze on my part, or that of the driver, could have resulted in a fatal collision.

And it wouldn’t have been the driver who died.

Oddly, though, despite the anger and outcry you must surely be aware of — unless your staff has failed to inform you of the many Tweets, emails, blogs, letters to the editor and phone calls that have resulted from your veto — you have failed to respond in any way.

We complain, with great merit, I might add; yet your silence remains deafening. Which frankly, is the last thing I, and many other bike riders, expected when we gave you our votes.

Frankly, I am extremely disappointed in you. And have lost a great deal of respect for a man, and leader, I formerly held in high esteem.

It’s not like I’m a single-issue voter. There were, and are, a number of reasons why I supported your campaign and cast my vote for you to become our state’s governor.

But when that single issue could determine whether I, and other cyclists like me, live or die on our streets, it becomes a matter of overwhelming importance.

So I am issuing you a challenge.

Come down to Los Angeles, and meet with cyclists such as myself. Explain more clearly why you chose to veto this bill, because the explanation you gave just doesn’t bear close examination. Then listen to us as we relate the dangers we face on a daily basis, and discuss solutions that could improve safety for all riders and encourage more people to choose to ride bikes, instead of further clogging our roadways.

Our mayor — the one who proposed what eventually became SB 910 — held a similar bike summit. And yes, he had to face a lot of angry bicyclists. But ended up building a much better relationship with the cycling community than would otherwise have been possible.

It’s your choice.

You can talk to us now, or you can continue to hide in Sacramento.

But we’re mad as hell. With good reason.

And we’re not going to go away.

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The racers and organizers of Wolfpack Hustle’s inspiring victory over a Jet Blue flight to Long Beach will be honored by the City Council on Friday.

And frequent contributor Todd Munson writes to invite you to attend — or compete in — the UCI Spooky Cross Weekend in Irvine’s Hidden Valley Park this weekend, beginning with registration and course previews on Friday.

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LACBC thanks L.A cyclists for a successful Tour de Fat and CicLAvia. Russ Roca offers his usual great eye to capture both. KCRW interviews CicLAvia’s Heidi Zeller. Last weekend’s CicLAvia ran from South L.A. to OccupyLA. Joel Epstein looks at how CicLAvia can RENEW L.A. How to make CicLAvia even better; I’d suggest starting with a name that doesn’t require awkward capitalization in the middle of the word.

No, really.

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Bikerowave is having a party on Friday, October 21st and you’re invited. The Santa Monica Museum of Art invites you to ride with them in celebration of the Pacific Standard Time art festival. And Pasadena’s Art Night Ride rolls tonight.

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The newly released L.A. County Model Design Manual for Living Streets is now available online. Notes from last week’s barely announced BPIT meeting that took several cyclists by surprise, myself included. It only takes Damien six months to get new bike racks in his neighborhood. Gary looks at the forthcoming Main Street bike lanes and says it’s time to demand more than just the minimum. When it comes to shootings, cyclists aren’t always the victims. Maybe it’s a positive thing when drivers are embarrassed about texting or threatening cyclists. Bicycling magazine likes the distinctive new Helen’s kit. Long Beach lands next year’s international Pro Walk/Pro Bike convention. Friday is the last day to register for an advance discount for next month’s California Bike Summit. Rick Risemberg will lead another edition of his popular Bicycle Fixation’s “Stitching the River” ride on Sunday, Oct. 23rd. The Red Kite Prayer’s Patrick Brady goes on a mini-REI book tour to support his new book The No-Drop Zone; sorry Tustin, you missed it already. Here’s your chance to voice your opinion on how to take back Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. Metro rolls out ten new bike cars.

CalBike notes that two bike-friendly bills survived the governor’s chopping block. Why drivers should support biking infrastructure for other people. Oakland has a 16-year old biking prodigy. San Diego’s had a long love affair with the bike. October 25th is Bike Day in San Diego; as far as I’m concerned, every day is Bike Day. The San Francisco Bay Guardian looks at Gov. Jerry “Buzz ‘Em” Brown’s veto of the three foot passing law, as does former framebuilder Dave Moulton. A Goleta company offers a reward for information about a cyclist missing in Oregon for nearly a month. Alaska resident Dr. Janice Sheufelt wins her division in California’s Furnace Creek 508 ultra-endurance race last weekend.

A cyclist endures a hit, F.U. and run. Former Talking Head and current bike activist David Byrne offers a Poem to Cyclists. Every state gets back more highway funds than they pay in; which means roads are paid for with your tax money. Springfield Cyclist offers an inventive solution to a lack of bike lock. Yet another attempt to ban bikes, as the incredibly small-minded people of Hull WI demonstrate their auto-centric bias against cyclists, joggers and pedestrians in the name of safety; my suggestion is that all of the above should try spending their money outside the city limits for awhile. Chicago is sued for letting a Hyatt Hotel heir off the hook for assaulting a cyclist, who got arrested for defending himself. GM declares war on cyclists, much to the chagrin of almost everyone, then rapidly backs off and says so sorry. Rebuilding New Orleans results in a more bike-friendly city. Bike-friendly DOT Secretary Ray LaHood calls it quits at the end of this term, win or lose; he also calls attention to a 9-year old bike riding victim of distracted driving. Supporting bikeable cities isn’t liberal or conservative, so it’s time to stop the politicization of cycling. A South Carolina father is killed by an apparently driver-less SUV as he walked next to his bike riding son. The afore mentioned Dave Moulton urges cyclists to consider the risks and avoid irrational fear; if you don’t read his blog, you’re missing the insights of one of the last century’s best framebuilders. Several cyclists are injured in a Miami peloton mishap.

The fatal dooring of an Ottawa cyclist raises safety concerns and advice on how to ride safely, as a Canadian driver goes on trial for running down five cyclists in 2009. The case for and against licensing cyclists in Calgary. British cyclists stand up for a safer Blackfriar’s Bridge. Once again, an overly aggressive UK driver demands a cyclist get out of his way because we don’t pay the Road Tax that was no one has paid since 1937. So who is it that really needs to wear hi-viz? A “leaked” preview of the 2012 Tour de France draws a positive review. Pro cyclist Riccardo Ricco faces a 12-year doping ban. Moscow gets its first bike lane; oddly, it looks like some of ours. A surprisingly even-handed look at Australia’s mandatory helmet laws, and a good read no matter which side of the great helmet debate you take. An Aussie cyclist selfishly rides to work every day.

Finally, unless you’ve been out on the Serengeti, you’ve already seen the video of the cyclist rammed by a buck in South Africa. Meanwhile, Kiwi cyclists are under attack by marauding magpies. Closest I’ve come is being grazed by a golden eagle swooping down to snatch its prey on the side of the road; I don’t think it misjudged it’s approach so much as just didn’t care if I was in the way.

Then again, this heat wave has brought termites swarming into our bedroom, which makes me very glad I don’t own this bike right now.

Breaking news: Cyclist killed early this morning after leaving her job at Disneyland

This is not the way we wanted to start our day.

The Daily Breeze was the first to report that an employee of Disneyland was hit by an SUV and killed on her way home from work this morning.

The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing over the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) on eastbound Ball Road just outside the park when she was hit from behind by an Ford SUV around 12:30 am. The vehicle hit her at an estimated speed of 40 mph, throwing the rider 60 feet before landing on the pavement. She was taken to UCI Medical Center in nearby Orange, where she was pronounced dead.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that area, but as I recall, 40 mph is within or near the speed limit in that area. However, it is widely reported that someone hit at that speed has only a 20% chance of survival, making most major surface streets in Southern California death traps for anyone not wrapped in a ton or more of steel and glass.

(The Minnesota DOT cites a 15% survivability rate at 40 mph [pp15] , while the Times of London cites a 10% survival rate in an article dated May 16, 2008, but won’t allow me to link to it.)

At 40 mph — let alone being thrown 20 yards — whether or not she was wearing a helmet is largely irrelevant, as the rate of speed far surpasses the design capabilities of any bicycle helmet. And helmets can’t protect against injuries to any other part of the body, which are highly likely at that speed.

What is far more relevant is whether she was using lights and reflectors to ride at night. Judging by photos of the scene, she should have been easily visible on the overpass; even without lights, most freeway overpasses are well lighted at night.

The driver did stop at the scene, and passed a field sobriety test. While it sometimes seems like most collisions are hit-and-runs, the driver actually remains at the seen 68% of the time, according to statistics from Bikeside LA.

This is also the 2nd hit-from-behind fatality since Gov. Brown vetoed the three-foot passing law.

How much blood will he have on his hands before he admits the massive mistake he made in taking the advice of two state agencies that care far more about moving cars than protecting cyclists?

This is the 58th confirmed traffic-related bicycling fatality in the greater Southern California area, and the 7th in Orange County, which is a significant improvement over the county’s average of over 1 fatality per month.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Anaheim Police at (714) 765-1900.

My heart and prayers go out to all her family and friends.

……..

I have a long list of links for your reading pleasure, but it always seems inappropriate to attach them to a tragic story like this. I’ll try to get them online later today.

The charges fit the crime — OC authorities re-file in alleged DUI speed racing collateral damage case

Most times, we’re just happy when charges are filed against a driver for killing or injuring a cyclist.

Any charges.

No matter slight, because it beats the all too frequent alternative in which dangerous motorists drive off to do it again, without even a bruise on their wrists.

Which makes it very surprising when the DA not only files charges, but actually re-files to bring enhanced charges — and stiffer penalties — against a driver in a criminal case.

But that’s exactly what happened in the case of Michael Roach, accused of contributing to the crash that critically injured Huntington Beach cyclist Richard Lauwers last January.

Lauwers was riding home on a beachfront bike path when he became collateral damage in a street racing collision between 57-year old Glenn Michael Moore and 36-year old Michael Roach.

In other words, two men old enough to know better.

Thankfully, Lauwers survived, if barely.

In fact, he’s reported to have recovered from his injuries, and resumed riding his bike around his hometown.

An anonymous source reports on the enhanced charges against Roach. And notes that it wasn’t his first offense.

Michael Dennis (“Speed Racer”) Roach was previously charged with a single violation of 23109 (engaging in a speed contest) in the January incident that put cyclist Richard Lauwers in critical care for six days.

That charge has been dropped. The case has been refiled with different charges. The new charges are 23109.1 (DUI with injury) along with an enhancement of inflicting great bodily harm, and 23109.1 (engaging in a speed contest, with injuries to another). Roach has pled not guilty to both and posted $50,000 bond.

It gets more curious.

Ten years ago, he was arrested and charged with four separate misdemeanors in that case:

  • 23152(a)…….DUI
  • 23152(b)…….DUI with a BAC of .08% or greater
  • 20002(a)…….Hit & run with property damage
  • 14601.1(a)….Driving on a suspended license

He pled not guilty to 23152(a), and that charge was dismissed. For the others, he was sentenced to a total of 50 days in jail and three years of informal probation, and his license was restricted for 90 days. He then violated his probation (I dunno for what), and earned another fun 30 days in jail. His probation was reinstated, and during this time, he was also cited for speeding and failure to show proof of registration, in separate instances, although neither seems to have affected his probation. His history of recklessness probably has something to do with the new, improved charges.

Meanwhile, fellow speed demon Moore — the driver whose car actually collided with Lauwers — faces a misdemeanor count of engaging in a speed contest, as well as felony counts of DUI causing great bodily injury and DUI with a blood alcohol content over .08%.

In other words, both were blasted at 8 am on a Sunday morning.

And nearly killed another human being because they were too drunk — or too stupid — to keep their damn feet off the accelerator pedal.

……..

The same source reports that Joseph Fernandez is finally behind bars for the death of Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman.

Also, Joseph Fernandez, who slaughtered Jim Swarzman as his fiancé watched, is currently behind bars at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County. I tried to confirm the length of his sentence yesterday (Columbus Day?), but the courthouse was closed. Still, it’s comforting to know he’ll be off the streets for a while.

Here’s your invitation to tonight’s LACBC Planning Committee meeting

I’m on the run again today, so any exciting updates from the world of cycling will have to wait until tomorrow.

However, I just want to remind you that the LACBC Planning Committee will be meeting at 7 pm tonight at Downtown’s Pitfire Pizza, at the corner of 2nd and Main.

Tonight’s singular topic is where we want to go on a local, county or state level. Such as what infrastructure plans you want to see on the fast track, what bike-friendly changes you want in LA County — like adopting L.A.’s anti-harassment ordinance, for instance — and what legislative changes you want to see at the state level.

Like maybe another three-foot passing bill to replace the one our CHP and Caltrans-influenced governor foolishly vetoed.

It promises to be an interesting meeting. And a chance to have your voice heard at the grassroots level — and possibly multiplied with the support of Southern California’s largest bike advocacy organization.

And no, you don’t have to be a member to participate. Anyone who rides a bike in L.A. County, or cares about those who do, is welcome to attend. Although we’ll be more than happy to sign you up on the spot.

I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend marred when cyclist hit in Tour de Fat adjacent wreck on Saturday

You’ll have to excuse me.

I’d planned on a post offering my thoughts on yesterday’s third CicLAvia — not the third year, as many press outlets have mistakenly reported — as well as Saturday’s Tour de Fat.

But here’s the Cliff Notes version: Major mondo fun for all.

As usual, CicLAvia offered a wonderful opportunity to experience the city car-free, and the added spur onto Central Avenue was inspired; I’d love to see it go further into L.A. biking’s undiscovered country. And the many admonitions to slow down seemed to result in a safer and more enjoyable event.

Hap Dougherty offers his usual great photos, as does Streetsblog’s Damien Newton; while the Times offers a good write-up. And KABC-7 tells the story well, as well. (Update: forgot to mention that the next CicLAvia will take place April 15, 2012, with another scheduled for next October; earlier I somehow mistakenly wrote April 4 even though I knew better, thanks to westculvermonicaside for the catch.)

Having learned from the past, I didn’t even bother taking my camera this year. So many people take so much better photos of the event that my meagre camera jockey efforts are wasted in comparison.

And even my non-biking wife and dog had a great time at Tour de Fat, though the latter seems to enjoy any event in which Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose rubs her belly.

Then again, my wife might enjoy it too, given the opportunity.

Unfortunately, the even was marred for many when a cyclist was hit by a car in front of Nick’s Cafe on Alameda Street just outside Tour de Fat.

Harv Woien initially gave me the heads-up later that night. Somehow I missed it, apparently passing through that same spot just moments before the collision. Twitterers @Revolbike and @GraphikDeziner added what they knew about it.

Meanwhile, @fts_acer sent a detailed, first-person account of wrenching effects of witnessing the wreck.

Gotta start off by saying I didn’t witness the accident per se, but I was standing literally on the corner of the intersection where it happened, on the patio at Nick’s Cafe across the street from LA Historic Park, facing the other way and heard an obvious (very loud) collision behind me, and immediately turned around to see a cyclist tumbling off the front right fender of a Ford Expedition, his bike literally coming to pieces under the SUV’s tires.

The loud noises were a combination of the SUV’s body work (front right lower bumper and passenger side door) getting dented in, the SUV’s right side view mirror getting broken, and the bike being crushed under the car, completely demolished.  Most visually stunning was the Aerospoke broken to bits and the disembodied tire/tube flailing about as the cyclist came to rest next to the car.

Notably, there were no screeching tires involved.  For the record, I used to work for BMW as a test driver and I am very familiar with the sound of tires whining under the stress of anti-lock brakes as well, and that sound was also absent, implying the driver was either not at all on the brakes leading up to the collision, or wasn’t on them very hard.

The driver stopped, thank heaven, staying in the car, perhaps in shock, a young woman with a few passengers in there.  The rider was conscious and moving as we ran over, he was rolling onto his back and took off his messenger bag.  No blood, outwardly didn’t look like any broken bones or anything, but he was definitely mentally out of it, tried to stand up and fell back down.  Noticed he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Luckily there were two police officers already stationed at the same intersection to watch over the event, so they were running up the same time we were.  A couple friends and I tried to lend a hand, but the police shooed us away so we stood and watched from a few feet back.  Medics were called.

The guy started talking to the police, who cleared the scene of onlookers and diverted traffic, using their squad cars to block off part of the road.  The driver got out of the car and said the rider “scared the shit” out of her.  The rider said she “scared the shit” out of him, too.  In other words, one or both of them were obviously not paying attention.

Frankly, it scared the shit out of dozens of cyclists who rode by, visibly mortified just by the aftermath of what happened.  I think most cyclists get that feeling when they see or hear that a cyclist and a car got into it.

No witnesses stepped forward, there were just about ten of us that heard the crash and ran to see if we could help.

My friend who was there with me says he knows that stretch of Spring is well-known for speeding, that drivers are typically very careless through that area.  I suppose that’s hearsay, but who knows how fast that SUV was going before the collision.  IMHO, under the conditions, with so many bikes and pedestrians obviously attending an event at the park, nothing about 25mph would have been safe.  But that’s just my opinion, I suppose.

Anyway, this all amounts to little more than an excessively detailed anecdote but hopefully it helps.  I hope the rider will be okay.

The police at the scene were not interested in talking to us, only in securing the scene, but I wouldn’t mind trying to give them a statement for what it’s worth, would you happen to have any idea how I would go about that?  What division it might be, etc?

I directed Acer to the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division, as well as the department’s bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer.

I agree with his suggestion that speed limits should be temporarily lowered on streets next to major events like that. And I second his hopes that the rider is okay; if anyone has word on his condition, send us the (hopefully) good news.

……..

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a major bike hangover this morning, with symptoms ranging from rubber legs to an overwhelming desire for sleep. And I’ve got an important work assignment due by morning that I should be working on right now.

Then again, all work assignments are important, right?

Before I go, though, a couple of great links.

First up, Russ and Laura, the Long Beach biking expats behind the must-read The Path Less Pedaled — who I had the pleasure of meeting over the weekend — are offering one last SoCal presentation Tuesday night in El Segundo before they once again hit the road. I can’t make it, but I’d strongly recommend attending if you can.

I’ve got an LACBC Planning Committee meetings to chair that same night; 7 pm Tuesday at Downtown’s Pitfire Pizza at 2nd and Main. We’ll be talking about what programs, plans and legislations you’d like to see implemented as we move forward, whether on a local, county or state level. So we’d love to have you join us if you can tear yourself away from Russ and Laura.

And finally, the BBC offers a great look at the non-existent war between cyclists and drivers — including this wonderful quote:

“When we make improvements for bicyclists, often the biggest beneficiary are people who drive motor vehicles.” — Mark LearBureau of transportation traffic safety program manager, Portland, Oregon

Definitely worth the click; thanks to L.A. Streetsblog for the link.

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