Archive for April 30, 2012

Driver arraigned in death of cyclist Carol Schreder; a light charge is better than no charge at all. Right?

Ghost bike installed on Mulholland Highway for cyclist and Hollywood producer Carol Schreder; photo courtesy of Chris Willig.

Maybe we’ll see justice for Carol Schreder after all.

Or some justice, anyway.

After months of being told the cycling death of Hollywood producer and cyclist Carol Schreder was nothing more than an unfortunate accident, I’ve been informed that a charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide will be filed.

Correction — has already been filed, in apparent secrecy and without the knowledge of her family and friends.

Last week, I received an email telling me that the driver, Stafford Drake Taylor, was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday. Then over the weekend, I got another email from the same source letting me know that the arraignment actually took place last Thursday, with no one close to the case informed of it — even after it was over.

Then again, I’m told they were never officially invited to the planned Monday arraignment, either.

So much for keeping the victim’s family in the loop.

Then there’s the question of why authorities suddenly decided to file charges. And why they settled for a misdemeanor charge when there were numerous reports that Taylor was speeding and driving recklessly in the moments leading up to the collision.

Sources who have seen the CHP collision report tell me the vehicle that killed Schreder was a jacked-up 1989 Ford Econoline van pulling a brakeless, owner modified trailer; one person describes the rig as looking like something out of a Mad Max movie.

The report indicates that Schreder was riding on the right shoulder of Mulholland Highway west of Kanan Road, wearing a helmet and bright colored clothing.

According to the report, Taylor initially told police at the scene he was following about four car lengths behind a green Toyota at about 20 to 30 miles per hour when he saw the car ahead slow for a cyclist riding about three feet to the left of the solid white line. Taylor reported that he jammed on his brakes and cut to the right in an attempt to avoid the car and Schreder’s bike, causing his rig to jackknife and strike Schreder.

The next day, Taylor came into the CHP station to clarify his statement to police. Now, he said, he was traveling at approximately 45 mph, following the car ahead by four car lengths or less, while the cyclist was now riding six feet to the left of the white line.

When the Toyota slowed, he said he had to react quickly so he jammed on his brakes and cut to the right, somehow thinking he could slide past the truck and cyclist on their right. Instead, he claimed Schreder moved back to the right when the Toyota apparently startled her, placing her directly in his path.

According to Taylor, he had slowed to about 30 mph when the trailer jackknifed and he hit Schreder with the left front of his jacked-up van, come to rest on the right curb on top of her bicycle.

The CHP notes that Taylor’s truck left a number of skid marks as long as 106 feet, which would indicate a high rate of speed, despite being just a few hundred feet from a controlled interesection. And despite previous speculation that the collision could have been caused by the windy conditions that day, the report indicates that wind was not a factor.

The traffic collision report indicates that a number of cyclists were stopped at the scene when the officers arrived, including a physician who performed CPR until the paramedics arrived — confirming a comment on the original story.

Yet the CHP didn’t interview any of the riders at the scene, or even take their names for possible follow-up later. And I’ve heard from people who attempted to contact the CHP to tell them they’d seen the van driving dangerously prior to the collision — including a cyclist who was nearly hit by the same van just moments earlier — only to be turned away without being allowed to talk to anyone.

In fact, according to the collision report, the only witness the police spoke to was the driver of the Toyota, who described seeing Taylor’s van approaching from behind at a high rate of speed before watching it hit Schreder’s bike.

Maybe I’m confused.

I understand that police can’t file a misdemeanor charge unless they either witness it themselves or can deduce from the physical evidence just what happened. But doesn’t it make sense to talk to all the witnesses and gather as much information as possible before deciding what charges to file?

If Taylor was driving as recklessly as the witnesses have claimed, shouldn’t that suggest a felony charge, with a possible sentence of two to 10 years in state prison, rather than the relative slap on the wrist of up to one year in county jail for the misdemeanor count?

And why all the apparent secrecy and attempts to keep Schreder’s family and close friends out of the loop? Especially when the families of other victims have complemented the DA’s office for going out of their way to keep them informed and a part of the process.

It makes me wonder if there’s already a plea deal in the works and they don’t want objections from the family to get in the way.

Trust me, I’m pleasantly surprised that charges are finally in the works. Although stunned might be a better word.

But mad as hell that it looks like yet another driver may get off with a minimal sentence, while his innocent victim gets the death penalty.

Yes, a slap on the wrist is better than nothing at all.

But cyclists are going to keep on dying if authorities don’t start taking dangerous killer drivers seriously.

Cyclist killed walking bike across San Gabriel River railroad bridge in City of Industry

A cyclist was killed by a train in the City of Industry Saturday afternoon.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, a Hispanic man in his mid-40s was walking his bike east on a railroad bridge over the San Gabriel River west of Temple Avenue around 4:55 pm when the conductor of a Union Pacific freight train saw him and sounded the train’s horn.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, tried to outrun the train, but was hit and killed.

It’s never a good idea to ride or walk along train tracks — especially not on railroad bridges, where there’s no escape route if a train comes along. Too often, the results are needlessly tragic, as it was in this case.

This is the 18th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Los Angeles County.

My sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Get your Swrve on, bike with Bike SGV, celebrate a belated Earth Day and ride with the USC cycling team

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.

Glendora hosts a belated Earth Day celebration this Saturday, April 28th from 9 am to 3 pm, including their 3rd Annual community bike ride, from a one mile family ride and bike safety rodeo, to an eight mile scenic loop with an option ride up Glendora Mountain Road for advanced riders. Registration begins at 8 am, with the rides rolling promptly at 9; 116 E. Foothill Blvd.

L.A. bikewear manufacturer Swrve hosts the grand opening of their new storefront retail space from 4 pm to 7 pm Saturday the 28th at 3421 Verdugo Road. Dinks and snacks will be served; handlebar mustaches are optional.

Also Saturday, Cynergy Cycles hosts Women’s Ride Day with a women’s road ride from 9 am to 11 am, and a mountain bike ride from 8 am to 11 am, starting at Cynergy, 2300 Santa Monica Blvd. Riders of all levels are welcome.

The new Expo Line officially opens this weekend, offering free train rides on Saturday and Sunday, as well as nearly six miles of new bikeways and bike parking at stations along the tracks.

Shifting Gears Cycling sponsors the 17th (or possibly 16th) Annual Santa Barbara Double Century on Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th. The two-day supported ride will travel 100 miles from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, returning the next day.

Here’s your chance to ride with the USC Cycling Team on Sunday, April 29th, with your choice of three rides of increasing speed and difficulty starting at 9:30 am at Bike Effect, 910 W. Broadway in Santa Monica. Suggested $20 donation supports the 2012 USC Cycling race program.

Sunday, April 29th, LACBC affiliate chapter Bike SGV invites you to their free SGV River Loop, held monthly on the last Sunday of the month along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo River bike paths. Meet at 9 am at Santa Fe Dam, 15501 Arrow Highway, with a 10 am departure; the ride features feeder ride check points, as well as a pit stop at Legg Lake with booths, music, mechanics, snacks, water and other goodies.

Tuesday, May 1st, the Pomona Valley Bike Coalition — the newest affiliate chapter of the LACBC — will host their first official group ride starting at 6 pm at Thomas Plaza in Downtown Pomona, with the ride rolling out at 6:20 for a 10 – 12 mile tour of the area.

The BikeFest Tour of Long Beach rolls on Saturday, May 5th, with rides of 31 and 62 miles, as well as a Gran Fondo, and day-long bike festival; proceeds support pediatric cancer research at Miller Children’s Hospital of Long Beach.

The L.A. River bike path will be closed for a 5K Fun Run from 4 am to 11 am on Sunday, May 6th, between Los Feliz Blvd and Marsh Park.

It might be worth the long drive to Davis CA for the first ever Legends Gran Fondo sponsored by the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame on May 6th, featuring America’s first Tour de France winner Greg LeMond — the man whose name is on my bike —  as well as former World Champion Ruthie Mathes, Olympic silver medalist Nelson Vails, and other members of the Hall of Fame.

Beverly Hills will hold a final public hearing on the city’s proposed bike pilot bicycle routes during a special meeting of the city’s Traffic & Parking Commission at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 9th in the Beverly Hills City Hall, 455 N. Rexford Drive, Room 280A.

L.A. Streetsblog holds it’s third annual fundraiser at Eco-Village116 Bimini Place on Friday, May 11th starting at 6 pm; admission is $25 on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.

May is Bike Month. The first National Bike to School Day is scheduled for May 9th, with National Bike to Work Week taking place on May 14th through 18th, and National Bike to Work Day on Friday the 18th.

Here in L.A., Bike Week kicks off at 10 am Monday, May 14th at Expo Park/USC Station, which is also the starting point for the Expo/Mid-City Bike Ride starting at 8 am. Good Samaritan Hospital’s annual Blessing of the Bicycles will take place on Tuesday, May 15th from 8 am to 9:30 am in front of the hospital at 1225 Wilshire Blvd; expect a great breakfast and bike swag, with non-sectarian bike blessings from virtually every faith found in L.A. Bike to Work Day is Thursday, May 17th, with Bike to School Day on Friday, May 18th.

The annual Ride of Silence takes place in the middle of Bike Week this week, with Southern California rides in Irvine, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Carlsbad, Temecula, Thousand Oaks and Ventura; a ride will be held in Oxnard in memory of six-year old Anthony Martinez Jr.

The Amgen Tour of California will kick off with the first of eight stages on Sunday, May 13th in Santa Rosa, with Southern California stages from Palmdale to Big Bear on Friday, May 15th — where you can enjoy the full VIP experience, including free cowbell — Ontario to Mt. Baldy on Saturday the 19th, and the final stage from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live on Sunday, May 20th.

Ride the Downtown leg of the Amgen ToC final stage with the Nissan Ride Before the Pros on Sunday the 20th. Riders of all ability levels are invited to ride the 5-mile closed circuit from 8 am to 9:30 am starting at Staples Center. Think of it as a mini-CicLAvia; free registration required.

The Palms Neighborhood Council will host their 19th Annual Bike Rodeo on Saturday, June 2nd from 10 am to 2 pm at Palms Elementary School, 3520 Motor Ave. The event is free for Palms residents and children attending Palms area schools.

L.A.’s favorite fundraising bike ride rolls out on Sunday, June 10th with the 12th Annual L.A. River Ride; this one just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Six different rides, from an easy family ride to a fast, flat century. Funds go to support the LACBC in building a better, more bikeable L.A. County; save $10 if you register by May 15th.

Recover from The L.A. River Ride with a laid-back bike, brunch and beer ride the following Saturday, June 16th. The first annual B3 charity bike ride will raise funds for the Pablove Foundation with beer and food specials, while making a loop between Golden Road Brewing, Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend.

Sunday, July 1st, Shuntain Thomas, the Real Rydaz and We Are Responsible People (WARP) will host a ride through the streets of South Los Angeles to raise attention to the problem of childhood obesity and streets as recreational space. The ride starts at 10 am at Exposition Park, and ends at a street festival at 86th Street and Vermont Avenue.

Bikes are normally banned from the famed San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge, but you can ride it on Sunday, August 26th, during the 5th Annual Bike the Bay, to benefit the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Get an early registration discount through April 30th.

Early registration has opened for the national Pro Walk/Pro Bike® conference to be held September 10th through 13th in Long Beach. The 17th annual conference is sponsored by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, and Project for Public Spaces.

This year’s Tour de Fat will take place on Saturday, September 15th at Los Angeles State Historic Park — and this time, it’s not scheduled on the Jewish high holidays, so everyone can attend.

Mark your calendar for the next CicLAvia from 10 am to 3 pm on October 14th; more details to follow.

LAPD rules no contact in closing Pinkyracer investigation; manslaughter charges against SF cyclist

The LAPD has concluded their investigation into the Susanna Schick/Pinkyracer case. And concluded that she fell on her own while riding at a near miraculous 30 to 35 mph.

Don’t get me wrong.

I really, really want to believe that the police have conducted a full and fair investigation in this case, and ruled out any other possibilities before coming to the conclusion that her injuries were the result of an unaided solo fall.

But as long as they continue to insist that she was riding up to 35 mph — just moments after stopping for a red light, no less — it only goes to show how little they understand bicycling. And by extension, how to investigate bicycling collisions.

Which does not bode well for any of us.

I’m not saying they didn’t conduct a full investigation. Or that their conclusion is necessarily wrong. But their insistence that Schick was riding at a world record pace defies plausibility.

Schick herself doesn’t buy it either, insisting that she was riding at a more reasonable 18 mph when she fell. And that she’s sure there was another car involved.

Meanwhile, I’m told that the confusion over the lack of a police report when news broke about Schick’s injuries stemmed from the fact that the officers on the scene filed an injury report, rather than a collision or crime report.

As a result, when the press started calling looking for information on a road rage assault and hit-and-run, the police didn’t have any idea what they were talking about.

Only when they connected Schick’s name with the injury report did they put the two together.

The good news is, she’s reportedly working hard in rehab, and making good progress in recovering from her injuries.


Vehicular manslaughter charges will be filed against San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere in the death of 71-year old pedestrian Sutchi Hui.

Bucchere was caught on security camera entering the intersection on the yellow, but apparently made no attempt to stop before hitting Hui. According to witnesses, he was riding in a reckless manner for several blocks before the collision, speeding in a downhill 25 mph zone and blowing through stop signs and red lights.

Consider that yet another reason to stop for signals; it could come back to haunt you if anything goes wrong later.

The San Francisco Examiner reminds us all to keep this case in perspective.


I’ve gotten word from 4th District L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s office that a section of the L.A. River Bike Path will closed for a 5K fun run on Sunday, May 6th.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge will host a 5K Fun Run on May 6, 2012 in celebration of the Los Angeles River. The route will take runners (and walkers!) along the banks of the river, in celebration of its beauty. Cyclists should note the closure of the Los Angeles River bike path from 4:00 AM until 11:00 AM. on May 6th from Los Feliz Boulevard to Marsh Park.

Meanwhile, the USC racing team invites you to join them for the rescheduled Trojan Cycling Benefit Ride this Sunday. Riders of all abilities are welcomed, and coffee and pastries will be served prior to the 9:30 am roll out at Bike Effect at 910 West Broadway in Santa Monica; there’s a suggested $20 donation.


Amazingly, a San Diego police lieutenant says a driver can’t be charged with a crime for a collision if the victim survives; if you want justice down there, evidently you have to die first.

I was shocked when I heard O’Hanlon state that no charges were filed against the drivers responsible for two cases where the bicyclists survived.

O’Hanlon responded, “to be charged with a crime, there has to be a death.” Thus, the only recourse for the party injured is to pursue the case in Civil Court for damages. In order for a case to go to the District Attorney’s office the case has to be a felony – and the criteria for a felony includes intent, malice, gross negligence or substance abuse. But in a case that is not a manslaughter, “the law is very restrictive. We don’t have a misdemeanor.” Intentional road rage acts have “malice and premeditation and you have assault with a deadly weapon.”  Absent that, “you have a vehicle code violation”.

Evidently, misdemeanor charges aren’t an option in San Diego.

Nor, evidently, is justice for victims who survive.


Advice on how to safely ride the new Expo Line bikeway. Joe Linton explains why the Bicycle Kitchen wants a new home and how you can help. Why volunteer at the Bikerowave. Better Bike recounts the second Bike Route Pilot Meeting in the biking black hole of Beverly Hills. A writer for the Daily Trojan says USC should discourage bike use rather than develop a new bike plan; the solution, according to her — more skateboards and scooters. Ride the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California before the pros. No, really. Mr. Bicycle Fixation says you don’t have to join the Navy to see the world, just get on your bike and ride. The current LADOT Bike Blog meister talks with the previous one. A virtually invisible Agoura speed bump takes out yet another cyclist. The Claremont Cyclist offers beautiful views of a ride up Marshall Canyon. What happens if you bike to work and an emergency calls you back home?

California cyclists could see another attempt to ban distracted cycling; Cycleliscious says it could ban your Panda pictures. The San Diego cyclist who confessed to slashing a local cop, among other charges, now wants to withdraw his guilty plea. Everyone who felt taken in by Floyd Landis’ ultimately losing defense against doping charges can take comfort in news that he is now the subject of a grand jury investigation; the Feds couldn’t get Lance, so maybe they’re going after an easier target. A 25-year battle to build a bikeway between an Louis Obispo and Pismo Beach. Another band is touring the Bay Area by bike. Alta selected to run a Bay Area bike plan. Frightening first person bike cam view of a Berkeley hit-and-run that took out two cyclists.

Ten tweets to help boost cycling in cities. Once upon a time, authorities actually took traffic deaths seriously. A new series of stamps will honor bicycling. A well-lit cyclist is hit by a car at 70 mph due to driver inattention, yet the driver isn’t charged — resulting in a Powerpoint on how to be seen. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske says Durango CO police made up a law, then did the cycling collision victim a favor by not charging him with it. The University of Utah plans to increase bike usage. Former President George W. Bush hosts a Wounded Warriors ride. An Ohio cyclist is killed after running into a post designed to keep cars off a bike path; I’ve come within inches of those myself. A Michigan group adapts the Bike League’s Smart Cycling course to help cyclists with disabilities. The media says Detroit is becoming surprisingly bike friendly. New York bike lawyers unveil a bike crash app. A bike riding perp fakes a collision in an attempt to get away. A look back at 25 years of a multi-town Rhode Island bike path. DC authorities clearly get it, expecting three out of every four area trips to be made car-free within 20 years. An autopsy shows a North Carolina cyclist died of head trauma after a police officer used a stun gun on him as he rode his bike; what the hell did they think was going to happen?

England’s iconic Raleigh bike brand is now a Dutch bike. A UK cyclist keeps the camera running as he’s forced off the road by a double-decker bus. London bike bloggers play a role in the city’s upcoming mayoral election. How a planned bike paradise apparently failed. A Westmoreland writer encourages cyclists to stay off area roads if they don’t want to get killed. A legless Scot war vet plans to compete in this year’s Race Across America (RAAM). A look at 23-year old Eritrean pro cyclist Daniel Teklehaimanot.

Finally, the Department of DIY opens a motor vehicle chapter in Studio City, as someone has repeatedly painted over a red curb on Colfax. Bikeyface looks at how the big kids ride. And the Onion offers their own eye-watering bike safety tips; thanks to Where to Bike Los Angeles co-author Jon Riddle for the heads-up.

Update: Cyclist describes brutal Sunday assault by road raging Ventura Blvd driver

A cyclist reports being brutally beaten by a driver in front of Mel’s Drive-In on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks on Sunday.

According to comments from someone claiming to be the victim, the assault took place after he stopped to confront the road raging driver who had angrily buzzed him moments earlier.

I was almost done with my ride, and on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. It is not the best street to ride on, but it has multiple lanes, and a car can pass around. I usually don’t ride on it during mid-day hours but the side street I was on had a fallen tree a little bit before and was closed which caused me to turn onto Ventura.

The guy in the pickup wanted to pass me (honking alot), and he wasn’t interested in changing lanes. With parked cars on one side there was no place for me to go. I had the right to use the lane and he could have gone into the left lane to pass. Instead he decided to pass me leaving about two inches of clearance. I didn’t yell or do anything, but I noticed the car and license plate. I eventually saw him pull over at the diner, I guess to eat lunch, so I stopped to let him know I didn’t appreciate what he did. I wasn’t picking a fight, but after about 1.5 seconds he came over to me, knocked me over and then started beating me mostly with kicks to the face. I’m glad my helmet stayed on. Once my skin broke blood was all over the place. I’m sure the witnesses would agree with my story. And people that know me know that I’m not a voilent (sic) person. I never got in a fight in my life.

The writer claims to have the full plate number of the Oregon driver’s truck, as well as his attacker’s phone, which was dropped at the scene. Yet he says that as of Tuesday, the detective assigned to the case hadn’t begun looking into the case.

The guy also dropped his cell phone on the scene, so that is another important piece of evidence. I called the LAPD detective yesterday, and he didn’t even start looking into the case yet. He also didn’t seem interested in tracking down the cell phone information (and there is a good chance is has phone numbers on it of places he may be staying in Los Angeles).

Really this guy could have been caught within 10 minutes of the incident since he has an easily recognizable car with out of state plates, if the police would have acted quickly after talking to the witnesses.

As a number of comments in the long, long thread made clear, stopping to confront an angry driver is never a good idea.

Even if that is something I do myself far more than I should.

You never know who you’re talking to. Or how short a fuse the driver or his or her companions may have.

And yes, I’ve been threatened by angry women almost as much as angry men. In fact, the driver who ran me down in a road rage assault was an otherwise pleasant — or so I’m told — middle-aged woman.

If you see someone who threatened you or drove dangerously around you, the best course of action is usually to let it pass, and just chalk it up to another unpleasant experience on the road. Or if you think it’s serious enough, call the police and let them handle it — bearing in mind that there’s usually not much they can do if they didn’t witness it themselves.

If you do stop, keep your bike between yourself and the person you’re talking to; it could give you just enough time to get away.

I’ve also found the quickest way to defuse an angry confrontation is to pull out your cell phone and snap a photo of the other person and their license plate.

Whatever you do, don’t throw the first punch. Or any punch, for that matter — especially if you were the one who started the confrontation.

If any time has passed between the initial encounter and when you stopped to talk to the driver, the police will consider it a separate event. Which makes you the aggressor, rather than the angry idiot who just tried to run you off the road.

Not fair, perhaps. But they would argue that you had a chance to avoid the confrontation, and didn’t do it.

Meanwhile, it’s a little scary to think a rider could give the police that much information, and nothing has been done two days later. Let alone an arrest made.

Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in.

Update: I’ve received word from a third party confirming that there were several witnesses to the beating in which the victim did in fact receive significant injuries, and that a police file has been opened; unfortunately, a heavy case load raises fears that the attacker may flee the state before police can get around to this case.

Don’t blame the cops this time. Blame the budget cutbacks that have left the department understaffed, and officers unable to do their jobs in a timely manner.

Thanks to Weshigh for the heads-up — and my apologies for failing to credit him sooner. 

Update: Cyclist killed in Hersperia as a deadly month continues

A surprisingly safe March has given way to a bloody April.

After suffering just one cycling fatality last month, we’ve already seen six cyclists die on Southern California streets and trails this month, with five fatalities in just the last 10 days.

The latest is 34-year old Ryan D. Foster of Hesperia, who was killed last night while trying to cross Escondido Ave just north of Hollister Street. According to multiple reports, he was hit by a southbound 2002 Honda Accord around 10:19 pm.

That’s it.

None of the articles I’ve found — all of which appear to be based on a press release from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s department, which does not seem to be available on the department’s virtually useless websitecontain any more information, except that sheriff’s deputies are investigating the crash.

In fact, they seemed to be competing to see who could tell the story in the least amount of words, ranging from a measly 52 to a whopping 79.

Looking at a satellite photo, the bike lane on Escondido ends at Hollister Street. Foster could have been riding north and trying to cross over to the wide sidewalk on the west side. Or, based on the limited description, he could just have easily been riding south on the sidewalk and trying to make a left onto Hollister.

Or just plain crossing the street.

We may never know.

We also may never know if the driver was speeding, drunk and/or distracted, or a cautious, law-abiding motorist who did everything in his or her power to avoid the collision.

Hopefully, the papers will follow up with information about who the victim was, beyond a mere name and age, as well as how the collision occurred.

Because Ryan Foster and his family deserve more than 79 words.

This is the 17th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Bernardino County.

My prayers and sympathy for Ryan Foster and his family and friends.

Update: This is starting to look like a case where the victim may have been at fault. The High Desert Daily Press reports that Foster was riding without lights or “adequate” reflectors at that late hour, and that witnesses saw him ride directly into the path of the Honda. 

The site also suggests that police officials suspect drugs or alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the crash; since the driver was not arrested at the scene, that implies that Foster may have been under the influence. 

However, given that the crash seems to have been a full-impact collision at speed, the fact that Foster wasn’t wearing a helmet was probably not a factor in his death.

Guest post from Howard Krepack, a cycling CC Council Member, and a San Diego Memorial Ride

There are lots of ways to be a leader in the cycling community.

Howard Krepack has forged his own way, as a long time L.A. cyclist as well as a major supporter of local cycling organizations. As a partner in Geklaw, he’s also one of the area’s leading bike lawyers, fighting for the rights of riders.

And along with some of the other names you’ll find over there on the right, one of the first people I’d personally recommend calling if you need help.

Today, he offers his thoughts on how to be seen — and not be a victim — when you ride your bike.

When It Comes to Bike Safety, Think on the Bright Side

By Howard Krepack, Esq.
Partner, Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP

“I never saw him. I didn’t know where he came from. All of a sudden he was just there.” These remarks are all too common when we read accident reports or are taking statements from motorists involved in a bicycle accident.

Being aware of your environment—road conditions, side streets, driveways, distracted motorists—and, therefore, bicycling intelligently, is only part of the safety equation. An equally important part is making sure you are visible by wearing brightly colored clothing while bicycling during the day. The whole idea is to stand out from your surroundings. Motorists subconsciously expect to see blues and greens (the natural environment) and grays and blacks (streets and highways). By wearing a canary yellow, neon orange or fluorescent green jersey, you are changing the “natural order of things” in the mind’s eye of a motorist. If your bicycle is your main mode of transportation and you don’t want to be sporting a shirt that screams “see me” while running errands or going to work, simply wear a bright vest over your clothes; you can remove it when you reach your destination.

Visibility takes on different dimensions when bicycling at night. Statistics show that half of all bicycling fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. even though there is relatively little cycling done during that 12-hour period. However, that same fluorescent jersey or vest that helped keep you safe during the day might not do the trick at night. According to a study in Bicycling Magazine, “When cyclists wear fluorescent clothing, a driver’s perception distance (when the driver first spots something on the road) increases from 400 feet to 2,200 feet during the day and from 150 feet to 560 feet at night.” That’s quite a difference in perception distance.

So, how do you keep yourself as safe as possible when bicycling at night? One study from Australia found that although fluorescent vests were not a significant improvement on black clothing at night, reflective strips attached to ankles and knees were more effective than wearing a “less static” bright jacket. The thought being that the constant movement of the reflective strip caught the motorists’ attention.

Lights are also an effective way to keep yourself visible while riding at night. They are also required by law when riding after dusk and before dawn. According to California’s Motor Vehicle Code, when riding at night, your bike must have (or you must be wearing) a front white light that is visible from 300 feet. In addition, your bike must have a rear red reflector, pedal reflectors and side reflectors. Keep in mind that wearing a helmet light may be problematic if it is your only front light source as the light is directed in the direction you’re facing. Make sure if you’re riding with others that you don’t inadvertently shine the light in their eyes. Also, the combination of a constant beam and a flashing light is a great attention getter.

Lights are also effective during daylight hours. A powerful blinking white light in the front of your bike—even during the day—can make you more visible to oncoming motorists making left turns.

Keep in mind that even though bicyclists share the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, the road is never an even playing field. Savvy bicyclists are constantly on the lookout for motorists (helmet-mounted rear-view mirrors are very helpful), but that attentiveness is not generally reciprocated. There are too many things—the radio, passengers, phones—that are possible distractions for drivers. Plus, there is the whole bicyclist vs. two-ton machine reality that can spell disaster for the cyclists involved in an accident.

Making yourself as visible as possible can go a long way toward ensuring many safe and enjoyable rides. It is not, however, an insurance policy against getting into an accident. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because you’re wearing something bright. Even though motorists should be looking out for you, don’t count on it. Always make sure you are looking out for yourself.

(The law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of those who have suffered serious injuries on or off the job. Partner Howard Krepack leads the firm’s bicycle accident practice. For more information about our firm, call us at 213-739-7000 or visit our website:


In case you missed it, Culver City now has a new bicycling City Council Member.

Congratulations to Meghan Sahli-Wells, one of the founding members of LACBC-affiliate Culver City Bicycle Coalition, who was sworn in as a Council Member Monday evening.

We can look forward to a more bike-friendly Culver City government as she gives a voice to the two-wheeled community that has long been missing from that city’s decision making.

Not to put any pressure on her or anything.

Thanks to CCBC member Steve Herbert for the heads-up.


Good news from the LAX area.

Last year, Margaret Wehbi wrote to complain about the crumbling, glass-strewn and sand-blocked condition of the bike lanes on Imperial Highway south and west of the airport. I followed up by riding the lanes myself, only to discover the single worst bike lanes I’ve yet ridden in Southern California.

No more.

Wehbi now reports that the roadway has finally been repaved, and is much more ridable than before. As she put it, even without being restriped yet, “It was as if I had my own private CicLAvia.”

Now that sounds smooth.


San Diego cyclists are hosting a Memorial Ride on Wednesday for Chuck Gilbreth, the rider killed near San Diego State University last Wednesday. The ride will assemble at the large fountain in Balboa Park at 4 pm, then ride to City Hall at 4:30.

Our message for this ride will be: “The people who are dying on our streets are not inexperienced or reckless bicyclists, they are careful, experienced riders who are dying from no fault of their own and we demand immediate action toward to goal of safer roads for all users”

This one is highly recommended if you find yourself near our neighbor to the south on Wednesday.

With 12 cyclists killed in San Diego County last year — 13 if you count Jordon Hickey, who was murdered by gunfire while riding blocks from his home — and four already this year, it’s clear that far too many of our fellow cyclists are dying on San Diego’s poorly designed, high-speed and unforgiving streets.


A few other quick notes.

LADOT may pick up responsibility for the innovative, crowd-sourced MyFigueroa project, bringing it back to life after the state shut down the Community Redevelopment Agency behind it — including the city’s first separated cycle track.

Looks like you’ll find more cars in the green Spring Street bike lane than bikes.

Steven Box says bike share sounds great, but why Bike Nation?

The League of American Bicyclists has honored the new Santa Monica Bike Center as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Business, the first in Santa Monica and the only Bike Friendly Business in the L.A. area.

Finally, here’s your chance to discover what’s happening in the Asian bike world, as Gavin Dixon and Byron Kidd — author of the always fascinating Tokyo By Bike and the man behind the dramatic bike reports following last year’s earthquake — bring you the new Pedal Asia Podcast. If nothing else, give a listen to the first segment offering an intriguing overview of bicycling throughout Asia from two men who clearly know what they’re talking about. The free weekly podcast is available on iTunes, as well.

A special thanks to attorney Daniel F. Jimenez for his help today.

Update: Mountain biker dies of apparent dehydration on Palm Springs trail

Motor vehicles aren’t always the biggest threat cyclists face.

According to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, a pair of cyclists were riding on a mountain trail above Araby Cove south of the city around 1:45 Saturday afternoon when one rider collapsed in the near-record 105 degree temperature.

A CHP helicopter that was already in the area responding to another call dropped off a Palms Springs Fire Department paramedic before going on to rescue an injure hiker. The victim was declared dead at the scene, apparently as a result of dehydration, though the official cause of death is still under investigation.

The helicopter later returned to pick up the body of the victim, who has not been publicly identified, as well as his uninjured companion.

The sad part is, this may have been preventable.

It’s vital to carry sufficient water and keep hydrated when riding, especially in hot weather. And even rides that start out cool can turn dangerously hot as the day progresses. It’s always better to err on the side of carrying too much water than not enough.

This is the 15th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his family and loved ones.

Update: The victim has been identified as 40-year old Johnny Lee of Placentia. He was riding around the 1,300 foot level; the official temperature was upgraded to 107 degrees, tying the record set in 1958.

Fire officials urge extreme caution in temperatures that high. Lee was the fourth cyclist to die in the Southern California region last week.

All the news that’s left to print — USC bike plan, big bike hearts in Reno, and new SaMo Bike Campus

After being laid up for well over a week with an apparent case of the Black Death, we’ve got a lot of news to catch up on.

So go get your bike on. Get out and enjoy this perfect weather — unless you’re on the fog-shrouded coast, of course. And even then, get out and get a good ride in.

Then limber up your clicking finger and settle in for some serious reading.

And yes, I am slowly starting to feel better. I may even get back on my own bike before the month is over.

And I’m only joking about the Black Death.

Sort of.


After seeing for myself just how bad the bike parking situation is for Trojans and visitors at USC, I had planned to attend Thursday’s campus bike plan workshop.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, life had other plans.

However, the Daily Trojan reports that Kendall Planning + Design has created what looks like a workable plan.

Rather than banning bikes from campus, as had been rumored, the plan calls for bike lanes on three separate streets through campus, along with secure bike parking. In addition, it calls for on-campus bike repair and service centers, and a bike share and rental program, as well as a possible training program to teach inexperienced cyclists to ride safely.

For a school that doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a bike-friendly campus, it looks like they’re taking their obligation to accommodate bikes on campus seriously.

And maybe, just maybe, they got it right this time.


I love this story.

An 85-yer old Reno cyclist loses his battle with cancer, but keeps riding right up to the end, thanks to some caring people at Home Depot who built a four-wheel pedalcar out of PVC pipe to keep him rolling.

You’ve got to admire a man who loves riding his bike too much to quit, even when his doctors say it’s time. Not to mention the big hearted people who sacrificed their time and materials to make it happen.

And anyone who thinks there’s a war between cyclists and drivers should consider this story about two Spokane motorists who saved the life of a cyclist who suffered a heart attack while riding.


Celebrate Earth Day with the official opening of Santa Monica’s new Bike Campus, which will offer training for riders of all ages and abilities. Combined with the new Bike Center and countless bike lanes and sharrows sprouting up all over town, it looks like SaMo may finally deserve that Bronze-level bike-friendly community designation I railed against when it was first announced a few years back.

I may or may not have been right back then. But these days, they’ve not only earned it, but probably deserve a promotion to the next level.

Now if they could just do something about the hordes of pedestrians that make the beachfront bike path virtually unridable during summer months, weekends and holidays.

Baby steps, I know.

And while we’re in SaMo, the Spoke urges you to support triple bus bike rack legislation.


Recover from June’s L.A. River Ride with a laid-back bike, brunch and beer ride the following weekend. The first annual B3 charity bike ride will raise funds for the Pablove Foundation with beer and food specials, while making a loop between Golden Road Brewing, Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend.


A few press releases and announcements that crossed my inbox this week.

GripRings allow you to mix and match your choice of 12 brightly colored rings for your flat handlebar grips. You can get a set by contributing $20 to their Kickstarter page.

Registering your bike can dramatically increase your chances of getting it back if it’s ever stolen. I’m a fan of Bike Shepherd, which offers free bike registration and stolen bike reporting, with optional tamper-proof tags available for purchase. Now Bike Guard offers free registration and free tags, as well as free notification if your bike is recovered. According to their website, they’re just bike lovers who work in the industry and are tired of seeing stolen and stripped bikes.

Classic 70s-style Solo jersey drip drying in the shower after the one and only chance I've had to wear it.

Dutch-style cycling wear manufacturer Road Holland invites you to vote on their bike photo contest; winner gets a free jersey.

My review of a very cool retro-style riding jersey from Solo Cycle Clothing has been delayed by my inability to get out on my bike the past couple weeks. However, in the meantime, you can still take advantage of their special offer; buy any Solo Classique Jersey, enter the code GILET50 and get a Solo Equipe Gilet for half price.

And Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles is holding a Spring Classic Sale this weekend.


The L.A. Circuit Race rolls this Sunday just north of LAX. Bicycle Kitchen needs just under $22,000 in the next eight days to buy a new permanent home. KCRW traffic maven Kajon Cermak takes on the hit-and-run epidemic; it’s time for all L.A. media outlets to take up the fight. Joe Linton calls out LADOT for a mistaken (cough cough) answer to a 13-year old student who asked for bike lanes so he can safely ride to school; his response gets noticed outside the bike community. The LACBC takes a hard look at the city’s promised new bike share program; this is how it could look in Westwood. Battling Beverly Hills bicyclist Mark Elliot fights for a Complete Streets approach to rebuilding Santa Monica Blvd through the city — and may actually have won the day. Richard Risemberg says nothing but good can come from expanding CicLAvia to new areas of the city; even without it, neighborhoods like NoHo can be great places to ride. Meanwhile, LADOT can’t wait for the next one; neither can I, since I missed this one. A 14-year old Monterey Park rider is critically injured in a solo fall after he’s unable to control his brakeless bike on a downhill, landing head first without a helmet. Azuza police accuse a 20-year old cyclist of staging collisions for a quick financial payout, proving that bike-hating drivers who accuse us all of doing exactly that aren’t entirely crazy after all; thanks to Rex Reese for the tip (and best wishes for a speedy recovery). Pomona begins work on a new bike master plan this Thursday; Claremont Cyclist says that means it’s time for LaVerne to mind the gap.

When the overly timid Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee said there’s no proof PCH is dangerous, local cyclists got the data to prove them wrong; thanks to David Huntsman for the link. San Diego cyclists remember Charles Gilbreth, who was killed on Montezuma Road this past Wednesday; the executive director of SDCBC calls for action, while KBPS reporter Tom Fudge looks back on his nearly fatal collision in the same area, nearly five years ago to the day. A Danville high school student says just let me ride my bike in peace.

The Catch-22 of funding bike projects with gas taxes. People for Bikes explores Portland’s innovative bike network, while the city’s new buffered bike lanes work great — for drivers, if not the cyclists they were intended for. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, was injured in a solo bike crash after taking a corner too fast. Colorado cyclists will now have a chance to ride the flatlands, although that the late date could mean riding through an early plains blizzard. Nebraska is the latest state to pass a three — or more — foot passing law. Ohio’s bike lawyer says the reason people run from collisions is because it pays. NYPD continues to stonewall the family of New York bike victim Mathieu Lefevre, while CNN asks if the department’s refusal to investigate bike collisions — not accidents — is getting ugly; thanks to Don Blount for the heads-up. A cyclist and philanthropist pledges $40 million to build a Brooklyn velodrome. President Obama welcomes the Wounded Warriors to the White House. LSU will host this weekend’s conference road cycling championships; a far cry from when I lived near campus and got run off the road on a semi-regular basis. A Florida cyclist faces arrest — and hospitalization — after punching through a window, apparently in retaliation for falling off a retention wall; no, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.

After encouraging his drivers to illegally use bus-only lanes, the owner of a London cab company says bike lanes are impractical for the city and cyclists can expect to get hit — by his cabs, no doubt — and probably while driving in a lane intended for buses. A candidate for London mayor says current Mayor BoJo is getting cyclists killed. The Institute of Mechanical Engineers calls for mandatory blind spot sensors for all UK buses and large trucks; something we could use over here, as well. Disgraced pro cyclist Riccardo Ricco gets a 12-year suspension for last year’s botched transfusion. A traveling cdm Cyclist says bikes make a fashion statement — even in Red Square; meanwhile, the Moscow branch of the Department of DIY takes matters into their own brushes.

Finally, once again a jackass driver reacts to the death of a cyclist by claiming — incorrectly — that we don’t belong on the roads because we don’t pay for them, while a like-minded jerk motorist insists it’s up to us to share the road with them — and as usual, gets the law wrong by demanding that we ride as far right as possible.

Funny how tragedy brings out the best in some people.

Palm Springs cyclist dies in collateral damage collision; 2nd fatality today, 3rd this week

Some drivers will tell you they’ve never seen a cyclist stop for a red light.

Yesterday, proving them wrong cost a 49-year old Palm Springs man his life.

Donald McCluskey was stopped at the red light on southbound Da Vall Drive at Ramon Road in Rancho Mirage around 12:15 pm Wednesday when a 2010 Chrysler Town and County minivan traveling in the opposite direction ran the red light.

The van overturned after it was hit by a 1998 GMC Sierra pickup traveling west on Ramon, plowing into McCluskey, as well as the car stopped next to him. He was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 1:40 pm.

Remarkably, Larry Wayne Goodman of Cathedral City, the driver who had the green light — not the one who ran the red light — was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence. No word on the identity of the Chrysler driver, who was hospitalized with moderate injuries, or why he blew through the light.

In other words, the two people who caused the collision were both breaking the law, while the person who died as a result of their actions apparently did everything right.

This is the 14th cycling fatality in Southern California since the first of the year, and the third in Riverside County. It is also the second bike death today, and the third in the last seven days.

My deepest sympathy to Donald McCluskey and his loved ones.

%d bloggers like this: