Archive for April 18, 2012

Update: Cyclist killed in San Diego; 3rd SoCal bike fatality this month

Word is just coming in that a bicyclist was killed near San Diego State University this afternoon.

Details are pending; however, the collision is variously reported to have occurred sometime around 3:30 to 3:45 pm on Montezuma Road near Collwood Blvd. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was reportedly riding east in the bike lane on Montezuma when he was hit from behind by a Chrysler SUV.

The driver stayed at the scene and called authorities to report the collision. Police report no drugs or alcohol were involved.

Photos from the scene show the victim’s bike on the sidewalk, as well as a shrouded body several feet off the road; San Diego 6 reports his body was recovered from a ravine, which would suggest a high speed impact.

This is the 13th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 3rd this month, after just one in March; it’s also the 3rd bicycling death in San Diego since the first of the year. Yesterday I inadvertently wrote that Larry Schellhase was the 10th cyclist killed this year; his death was actually the 12th.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and his loved ones. Thanks to Bill Davidson for calling this to my attention.

Update: The San Diego Union-Tribune puts the time of the collision at 3:34 pm, and confirms that the victim was riding in the bike lane. Meanwhile, Sam Ollinger of Bike San Diego forwards word that the area has a long history for speeding drivers.

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 63-year old Charles Raymond Gilbreth; he was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:52 pm. The San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office reports that he was married and lived within the city of San Diego; the report confirms that he was hit by an SUV and thrown onto the side of the road.

A comment on Bike San Diego says that the SUV driver became impatient following behind a bus, and used the bike lane to go around it; the writer says the SUV hit Gilbreth’s bike and threw him in front of the bus, which then ran over him. However, it’s important to note that the description of the rider being run over by a bus doesn’t fit with the ME’s report, or explain why his body was found off the side of the road instead of than within the traffic lanes as would be expected under such circumstances.

Hopefully the SDPD will release more information when their investigation is complete, and the press will follow-up so we can understand what actually happened and why.

………

Meanwhile, Carlos Morales of the Eastside Bike Club forwards word that L.A. police are on the lookout for a hit-and-run driver who left a 60-year old cyclist critically injured.

On April 7, 2012, at 6:25 p.m., a 60-year-old male was riding his bicycle southbound on Duarte Street at 57th Street, when he was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on Duarte Street. The suspect fled without rending aid to the victim. The victim is hospitlaized at a local hospital in critical condition.

If you have information to report that could help lead to an arrest in this crime/crime activity, please contact the police at (213) 972-1825.

Update: Cyclist dies from injuries received in solo Redondo Beach collision

One of the metal objects that may have caused Larry Schellhase to fall.

I’ve just received word that a long-time member of the Los Angeles Wheelmen died on as a result of a solo collision last week.

According to an email that was forwarded to me, Larry Schellhase was riding with his wife Cathy and some friends in Redondo Beach on Thursday. As they were riding on Catalina just south of Emerald, not far from the pier, Larry apparently hit some metal debris that was laying in the roadway and went over his handlebars.

The writer reports that he landed face first and motionless on the roadway, bleeding from the nose and barely breathing. Paramedics arrived within minutes and began manual CPR before taking Larry to the hospital, along with his wife.

Were these clamps used to secure a nearby termite treatment tent?

Unfortunately, he died on Sunday, reportedly as a result of a broken neck.

What appears to be Larry Shellhase’s Facebook page lists him as a graduate of Lynwood High and Cal State LA in 1961 and 1966, respectively. Meanwhile, the L.A. Wheelmen’s website shows him as the 2008 winner of the Jack Flynn Trophy for “long-time service to the club and to cycling.”

I’ve reached out to the author of the email for permission to use what he wrote, as well as photos of the debris that apparently caused the collision.

This is the 12th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, compared with 20 traffic-related cycling deaths this time last year, and the second in Los Angeles County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Larry Schellhase, and all his family and loved ones.

Update: Redondo Beach Patch confirms that the 68-year old Schellhase died as a result of injuries to his head and neck. Police are seeking witness; anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator Bill Turner at 310-379-2477 extension 2721 or email him at bill.turner@redondo.org.

Jim Hannon, president of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition, forwards word that one of their members thinks the metal objects that Schellhase ran into may have been clamps used to secure the tent for a recent termite treatment on Catalina Ave.

Update 2: I mistakenly wrote that this was the 10th cycling fatality in in Southern California this year; it’s actually the 12th.

Update 3: The Daily Breeze reports on Schellhase’s death, placing the time of the collision at 12:40 pm; he was on his way back from a regular Thursday morning ride from the Marina to Rat Beach in Torrance when he fell.

I miss CicLAvia, but it doesn’t miss me; L.A. gets a new bike share program courtesy of Bike Nation USA

Did you miss me?

I didn’t think so.

Yesterday marked L.A.’s fourth CicLAvia. And the first one I’ve missed, thanks to a combination of family obligations and a lingering cold that has me feeling just this side of six feet under the weather.

And yet, it didn’t seem to matter.

Countless L.A. area cyclists turned out anyway, on a day that, by all accounts, exceeded the already high expectations of virtually everyone in attendance.

And that’s the point.

In previous years, it seemed like we all had to turn out every time to guarantee the day’s success, and help ensure that the next CicLAvia wouldn’t be the last CicLAvia.

Now I think we’re well past that point. The overwhelming success of each event — even if they oddly seem to draw the same number of participants each time (see below) — has already made it an L.A. institution, which will continue as long as the city and its residents and visitors continue to fund it.

And one that will continue to grow and expand into new areas, whether you’re there, I’m there or anyone else does or doesn’t go this time or the next.

And that’s a good thing.

It’s a sign of a strong, healthy and successful event that has quickly become part of the fabric of our city.

I may have missed this CicLAvia. But I won’t miss the next one.

And we call all expect many more opportunities to attend as it continues to transform the image and livability of this city we call home.

………

The Claremont Cyclist captures the spirit of CicLAvia in a single photo. CicLAvia itself offers just a few more photos of the day, while Bicycle Fixation’s Richard Risemberg provides video of the day. Los Angeles CM offers a great photo collection, as does USC’s Neon Tommy. And even on a car-free day, you can expect traffic jams, although Gary says he noticed — and stopped for — even more by taking it in on foot rather than bike.

According to the Times, CicLAvia organizers estimate that 100,000 people turned out for this edition. Just like the one before, and the one before that, and the one before that. Evidently, 100,000 is shorthand for “a lot of people showed up, but we don’t really have any way to count how many.” Of course, it might have been even more if Metrolink hadn’t turned some riders away, but the paper reports a good time was had by all, anyway.

And future CicLAvias could run from North Hollywood to Glendale and Burbank. However, Texas may get the jump on us by making Ciclovia de Dallas permanent.

The Design Observer Group offers a good overview of CicLAvia and its history.

……..

You may have heard that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unexpectedly announced Sunday that the city will get a bike share program in the fourth quarter of this year.

Managed by Bike Nation USA, the program will eventually be the second largest in the country, behind only the coming system in New York, with 400 kiosks and 4000 bikes scattered throughout the city. This will be just their second bike share program, after a 200 bike system expected to open in Anaheim this June.

On the surface, it sounds great. Bike Nation is picking up the full $16 million cost, with no city funds at risk.

But clearly, there’s still a lot of details to be worked out.

Or revealed, anyway.

One of which is whether this system will be compatible with bike share systems currently under consideration in L.A. County, Long Beach and Santa Monica, just to name a few.

As the region’s 800 pound gorilla, L.A. could influence the development of those programs, encouraging them to select the Bike Nation system to create one unified bike share reaching into every corner of the county.

Or they could ignore L.A.’s lead and develop their own bike share system, resulting in an incompatible mishmash that could limit the success and viability of bike share in the region.

Time, and more details, will tell.

Speaking of details, I have an unconfirmed report that Bike Nation is owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG — the people behind the L.A. Kings and Galaxy, Staples Center, LA Live and Downtown’s proposed Farmers Field football stadium. However, I can’t find any information about ownership on Bike Nation’s website, or about Bike Nation on the AEG website.

Update: Tom reminds me that AEG also owns the Tour of California, even if Amgen gets title sponsorship.

Update: I’ve received word that Bike Nation is actually owned by First Pacific Holdings, not AEG.

I’m also told that the contract was handed out without a competitive bid.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against AEG; if they really are involved in this, it bodes well for the ultimate success of the program. They have a track record of success in our city, and billions of dollars to back whatever programs they commit to.

On the other hand, I think we’d all be more comfortable with a more open selection process that aired the plusses and minuses of the various interested parties to allow the people of this city, rather than just the mayor’s office, to make a fully informed decision.

I know I would, anyway.

……..

Just in time for the city’s big bike weekend, the Sunday L.A. Times included a copy of the Red Bulletin, a monthly magazine insert with a great feature on Don Ward, aka Roadblock, and the Jet Blue-vanquishing Wolfpack Hustle.

Great, that is, except for the story’s over-the-top framing device.

To ride a bike in the City of Angels might just be the riskiest proposition on two wheels anywhere in the world. But the ringleader of a growing legion of fearless Angelenos is riding to change all of that.

Clearly, the writer hasn’t spent much time riding in our fair city.

Or most likely, any.

While L.A. may not be the cycling paradise it should be, riding our streets is far from the most dangerous thing you can do on a bike. In fact, the City of Los Angeles isn’t even the most dangerous place to ride in Southern California.

And while the city’s current biking infrastructure, or the lack thereof, doesn’t exactly encourage timid riders to take to the road, those who do usually find a far safer and more enjoyable riding environment than outsiders and non-cyclists would expect.

Yes, there are jerks who use their cars to enforce their self-appointed position on the transportation food chain, just as there are in every city and town where cyclists and motorists mix on the streets. And yes, we have more than our share of careless and/or distracted drivers.

But in most cases, it only takes a modicum of care to arrive safely at your destination by bike — and in a far better mood than most other means of getting there.

It’s long past time we put this offensively anti-L.A. and anti-bike myth to bed.

………

Bicycle Kitchen needs your help to buy a new home. Evidently, you can live in L.A. without a car. Is it really a pipe dream that people will walk, bike or take transit to a new Downtown football stadium? Palos Verdes will see a benefit ride for Habitat for Humanity later this month. An Orange County couple rides 45 miles on a tandem to their own wedding. Enjoy a VIP finish on the Big Bear stage of the Amgen Tour of California. A San Francisco rider tries to cut through the anger to present a realistic look at Chris Bucchere, the cyclist who recently killed a pedestrian who was walking in a crosswalk  — even though his GPS shows him going 35 mph at the time of the crash; thanks to Eric Weinstein for the tip.

Women drivers are more likely to mistake the gas pedal for the brakes, even though men are more likely to get into crashes. Chicago cyclists form a chapter of Red Bike and Blue to promote bike riding in the African American community; sounds like something we could use here in L.A. Normal teens in Normal IL organize a bike train to Normal Community High. How to fight a ticket for not riding close enough to the curb. A collision with her husband’s bike puts a 9-month pregnant woman at death’s door and on a long, difficult path to recovery. The good news is, the bike racks are overflowing; the bad news is, the bike racks are overflowing. A fascinating Baltimore study shows drivers violate Maryland’s three-foot passing law nearly 25% of the time — except when the rider is in a bike lane. The Washington Post says if you want more cyclists, build more bike lanes. Dave Moulton suggests that good cycling habits need to be ingrained. A year later, an arrest is finally made in a deadly South Carolina hit-and-run; thanks to Zeke for the heads-up. Huntsville AL police have ticketed just 11 cyclists in the past four years.

London cyclists plan to have an impact on the city’s upcoming mayoral election. Clearly, the Times of London gets it, as they correctly expose seven cycling myths. And clearly the Daily Mail doesn’t, as they say only a £10,000 bike will do for the country’s MAMILs, while the Telegraph would settle for a £8,250 Pinarello Dogma. Nine out of 10 UK riders report close calls with drivers who didn’t see them; and when they get hit, the driver gets a slap on the wrist. Eddy Merckx, perhaps the greatest bike racer of all time, says it’s time to stop attacking cyclists for doping. For the second time in the last few weeks, a top pro cyclist is hit by a car, this time in near Zurich. A Zambia writer calls for flogging, not ticketing, speeding drivers, while a bicyclist is charged with causing death by dangerous driving. Taipei commuters take to their bikes.

Finally, a bike ad is banned for being too overtly sexual. Meanwhile, a Dutch PSA campaign apologizes for speeding just a little. And even Barbie thinks you should signal.

CicLAvia — and Bike Snob — is finally here, with a busy bike Saturday to get in the mood

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.

Celebrate Earth Day a little early as C.I.C.L.E. presents the third annual Lorax Ride on Saturday, April 14th as part of Pasadena’s Earth & Arts Festival. The free ride assembles at 11 am at Pasadena Memorial Park, East Holly Street and North Raymond Avenue, with an 11:30 am departure.

The Spoke(n) Art Ride takes place on Saturday the 14th; riders meet at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street, at 6 pm, with a 6:30 departure time. Single speed beach cruisers are available to rent for $20.

The High Desert Cyclists are starting a series of comfortably paced 15 – 20 mile monthly Brunch Rides starting at Marie Keer Park, Avenue P and 3oth Street West in Palmdale. The first ride takes place on Saturday, April 14 at 8 am; bring money for brunch at a local restaurant or coffee shop.

The 10th Annual Laurel Foundation’s Ride for AIDS will take place with a two-day century ride from San Diego to Santa Monica on April 14th and 15th, and a one day ride from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach and back on April 15th.

L.A. favorite rolling street party takes place this Sunday, April 15th as CicLAvia unfolds on the streets of L.A. from 10 am to 3 pm, with a special 9:30 am kickoff event at El Pueblo, 845 North Alameda Street; the route will follow the same expanded course as last October’s. While you’re there, stop by Orange 20 Bikes at the west end of the route, at the intersection of Heliotrope and Melrose, for a book signing with Eben Weiss, aka BikeSnobNYC, starting at 10:30 am. And be sure to visit Chinatown’s first annual Springfest from noon to 8 pm, making it the perfect spot for your CicLAvia after party. Feeder rides will roll from Santa Monica, Culver City, UCLA, and Highland Park, as well as rides from the Bikerowave and back again.

Update: The first meeting of the newly formed LACBC Civics Committee scheduled Wednesday, April 18th at the Downtown Pitfire Pizza has been postponed yet again, date to be determined. The committee will serve to give the LACBC a voice in the local political process to help ensure the election of bike-friendly candidates; Efren Moreno Jr and yours truly will serve as Co-Chairs.

The University of Southern California presents an update to their draft campus bike plan at 1p on Thursday, April 19th at Tommy’s Place in the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center, 3607 Trousdale Parkway.

Here’s an event for the bipedalists among us, as Los Angeles Walks is hosting a karaoke fundraiser from 7 to 11 pm on Saturday, April 21st  at Atwater Crossing, 3245 Casitas Ave.

Sunday, April 22nd, Santa Monica celebrates the opening of their New Bike Campus at Ocean Park Blvd and Barnard Way with a Bike Rodeo and other festivities; more information to come.

Celebrate Earth Day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, with a 2 pm screening of Riding Bikes with the Dutch; admission is free if you ride your bike.

The Santa Monica Spoke will meet at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 24th, at a location to be announced. Topics will include plans to bring CicLAvia to Santa Monica and the Westside.

Beverly Hills hosts a series of public outreach meetings to gauge support for the city’s proposed bike pilot bicycle routes. The next meeting will take place at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 25th at the Public Works Building, 345 Foothill Blvd, with the final hearing scheduled for 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.

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.

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.

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.

L.A. Streetsblog holds it’s third annual fundraiser at Eco-Village, 116 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 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, Ontario to Mt. Baldy on Saturday the 19th, and the final stage from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live on Sunday, May 20th.

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.

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.

The 30 mph LAPD fail, Sunday’s CicLAvia and L.A. bike politics from the 1890’s

A few quick — or maybe not so quick — updates on the ever-changing Susanna Schick/Pinkyracer case before we move on to other matters.

Schick’s friend Jennifer Beatty offers an update on her condition, along with the off-and-ongoing investigation on her ChipIn page, which is now up to nearly over $6000; seriously, you guys rock.

KPCC’s always excellent Patt Morrison interviews LAPD Chief Beck, asks him about the case and gets exactly the sort of non-specific answer you’d expect. But hats off to Patt for asking the question.

Meanwhile, KCRW’s Warren Olney discusses hit-and-run and the Pinkyracer case with Don Ward, aka Roadblock, and LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer; thanks to Mike for the heads-up.

Mike also sends word that police say Susanna Schick told them she was travelling at 18 mph before she fell; fast enough to get hurt, but hardly enough to account for her extensive injuries. Schick, who is now communicating online, confirmed on Twitter that her bike computer showed she was travelling at 18 mph just before the fall.

Or at least, that’s what they said to MSNBC.

The police officers who claimed to be following her — and who assisted her after they say she fell on her own with no provocation — insist she was riding at 30 miles per hour, according to KNBC-4.

That’s quite a speed differential.

Yes, a fall at 30 mph could very well result in the injuries she suffered. Only problem is, a top pro cyclist would have a hard time accelerating from a full stop to 30 mph on level ground in a few hundred feet. And no one has suggested that Schick was engaged in a mad sprint away from the light.

The mere fact that police investigators would believe she fell at 18 mph and suffered such severe injuries — or that she miraculously managed to hit 30 mph in such a short distance — demonstrates just how desperately traffic investigators need specialized training in bike collisions.

The MSNBC story that Mike referred to also says Schick was riding without lights and reflectors, which could help explain why the driver cut into the bike lane while she was in it. However, Schick has said she was at least using a rear blinkie, which the police should have seen.

And which seems to be visible — to people with better eyesight than I have these days, at least — in security footage posted online Thursday by the L.A. Times.

The pair of videos show a car exiting a parking garage on the 200 block of South Spring Street shortly before midnight, then what looks to be the same car swinging into the bike lane on Spring, barely missing a cyclist riding in the lane.

By barely, I mean it looks to be by inches, though camera angles can be deceiving.

Any cop who witnessed that and failed to stop the driver needs some serious retraining. Which doesn’t even come close to what I really want to say right now.

And after initially suggesting that Schick may have been drinking, LAPD Lt. Vernon now says there’s no evidence that alcohol played a roll in the incident.

It would be nice if he said that in the form of a public apology after so publicly smearing her.

He also says he examined the bike on Thursday, but didn’t see any sign of damage. But doesn’t mention who let him in, since the victim is in the hospital and her friend didn’t do it.

Then again, the police also said there was no damage to my bike after I was the victim of a road rage attack, even though I had to walk it two miles home because it wasn’t in ridable condition.

There’s that little matter of better police training in bike collision investigations again.

Meanwhile, LAist offers a great comment from Gary Kavanagh about the improbability of Susanna Schick suffering her injuries in a solo fall. As well as one from someone who witnessed the immediate aftermath of Schick’s fall, if not the fall itself or what caused it.

One more thing.

I’ve heard from a reliable source that police detectives have collected security camera footage from a building at 5th and Spring, which I’m told offers a clear view of the intersection in question.

So maybe, just maybe, we might actually find out what really happened last Friday night.

………

This weekend’s CicLAvia allows Angelenos to experience our city in a whole different way; and yes, it matters. Zev says it’s time to slow down, get off your bike and smell the CicLAvia. There will be a number of Westside feeder rides headed to the event, including rides from the Bikerowave and back again, too. LACBC offers tips for safe and happy riding this Sunday.

My advice?

Remember CicLAvia isn’t a Gran Fondo, it’s a moving street fest. And it belongs to every Angeleno and visitor willing to spend their Sunday without a motor, bike riders, pedestrians and skaters, older walkers in walkers and toddlers in tiaras. So slow down, enjoy the day and make room for everyone.

Seriously, don’t be a jerk. And have fun.

……..

The LACBC is in the process of forming a new Civics committee to offer a non-partisan look at local political candidates and help ensure the election of bike friendly politicians, to be co-chaired by board members Efren Moreno and myself.

We’re just looking for an open date for our first meeting, after our first two proposed dates failed to work out for various reasons. I’ll let you know as soon as we set a date and location, probably within a couple weeks.

The meeting, not the notification.

Meanwhile, a reader sends word suggesting that this may not be the city’s first non-partisan cycling organization.

In November, 1898, the East Side Cycling Club held its annual pre-election “smoker” party to which all the local political candidates were invited to speak before the wheelmen.  The ESCC’s own platform basically had one plank (“Good Roads!”) and the club members themselves were of assorted political leanings.

So imagine the club’s surprise when the local Republicans mailed out post cards announcing that “there will be a Republican meeting at the hall of the bicycle club,” signed (oh so ironically) “Yours respectfully” by the Republican campaign secretary.

Think of the social media uproar this would have caused if only they’d had the technology back then!  But instead, the club made do with chalk and fury.

On the evening of the smoker, all attendees were greeted with a conspicuous chalkboard.  On it, the offending postcard was affixed next to a brief and  unequivocal statement signed by the club’s board of directors, including Republican Owen McAleer, who himself was just a few years away from being L.A.’s mayor.  Though concise, the message conveyed the ESCC’s staunch nonpartisanship, and to the club’s further credit, neither Republicans nor non-bikers were turned away from the event.

……..

My friends Sarah Amelar and Jon Riddle have written a new guide to Los Angeles bicycling, offering routes, tips and other useful information for locals and tourists alike; find it soon at your favorite local bike shop.

………

The cyclist who killed a 71-year old pedestrian in San Francisco apparently lied about laying his bike down to avoid a collision, while a bike commuter says it’s time to grow up and start acting like we belong here; I couldn’t agree more. However, while a cyclist killing a pedestrian is national news, pedestrians are killed by cars on a daily basis with hardly a peep.

And no, I don’t mean the candy kind.

Then again, bike cops don’t always seem to follow the law, either.

………

That Cypress Park kid who wrote to his councilmember asking for bike lanes in front of his school may be a lot older before he gets them. LADOT makes improvements to a key intersection along the new Expo bikeway. New buffered bike lanes will soon make their bow on Winnetka Ave. Caltech busts a bike thief. A Long Beach crime scene technician raises funds to replace an 82-year old cyclist’s stolen bike. A singer from Long Beach is planning a bike-based concert tour of the West Coast.

Cyclelicious asks who are all these legal drivers we keep hearing about, in contrast to all us scofflaw cyclists. A San Diego cyclist reflects on last month’s death of bike rider David Ortiz; thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up. Moorpark struggles to find room for cyclists at the city’s skate park. Levi Leipheimer says he had a premonition that he was going to be hit by a car just moments before it actually happened; a Santa Rosa writer says a three-foot passing law, like the one currently under discussion in California, could have made a difference for Levi. A Sequoia mountain biker avoids death by millimeters when he’s impaled on a tree branch that just missed his jugular vein and cranial nerves. A hit-and-run driver kills a Richmond cyclist. A father and daughter are remembered after being killed by a speeding and possibly texting teenage driver in Concord, so why does the press insist on calling it an accident?

Bad bike shop marketing and service could be contributing to the lack of women riders; Bikeyface probably wouldn’t argue with that. Lovely Bicycle concludes cities do need bike lawyers. Five things drivers need to understand about sharing the road with cyclists, and 10 things you don’t need for bike touring. The makers of my favorite beer are the new official beer sponsor for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge; I guess Coors isn’t Colorado’s favorite anymore. Chicago cyclists support speed cameras for motorists. A Massachusetts cyclist is killed after his bike fails, possibly due to a recalled Cervelo fork.

Canada prepares for fair-weather bike traffic jams. Toronto’s Deputy Mayor urges city residents not to vote for cyclists. British Columbia police accuse a cyclist of staging fake bike collisions for a quick financial payout; damn, why didn’t I think of that? Looks like London’s cycling mayor won’t get the support of the city’s cyclists. A UK driver admits to screaming abuse at a pair of cyclists and obstructing them with his car; nice to know it’s not just American drivers who do that. New Zealand bike shops are warned that if you’re going to have a Going Out of Business Sale, you actually have to, you know, go out of business. Australia’s Global Mail offers a very nice, in-depth look at cycling in the City of Angeles, including quotes from several people you might know.

Finally, a New York pedestrian asks what the f*** is wrong with the city’s spandex-clad cyclists, among other Gothamists. Dave Moulton asks when did society decide that we don’t want dangerous and deadly driving to be a crime?

And I don’t think I ever got a chance to mention this great Spanish language PSA, courtesy of the LACBC’s City of Lights, LADOT and REI.

Update — LAPD drops, then reopens investigation into Pinkyracer case, blaming the victim for her injuries

According to KNBC-4, the LAPD has closed its investigation into the road rage assault of cyclist Susanna Schick. And shifted all the blame for the incident onto the victim.

Based on the descriptions of two on-duty officers who claimed to have seen the whole thing — yet remarkably, failed to do anything to prevent it — Schick merely fell over, resulting in numerous broken bones as well as a significant concussion.

According to police spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon, speed may have been a factor in the collision, noting that Schick is a long-time motorcycle racer.

Yet she wasn’t riding a motorcycle on Friday night. And the severity of her injuries are inconsistent with a solo fall from a bike; even at high speed, she’s unlikely to have suffered six broken ribs and broken her pelvis in three places in a fall on level ground. Let alone been knocked cold for upwards of 15 minutes, despite wearing a helmet.

The fact that she has raced motorcycles is entirely irrelevant to this investigation.

Excuse me, former investigation.

Yes, it’s possible that she suffered such severe injuries in a simple fall.

But it is so far from likely that to ignore them suggests a desire on the part of police to just close the books and get this case over with.

As of now, no one other than the officers at the scene have examined Schick’s bike for evidence of a collision that might be beyond the ability of a patrol officer untrained in bike collision investigations to spot. And to the best of my knowledge, no one at the department has made any effort to contact the driver of the Lexus to get his side of the story.

If they had, he might have denied everything. Or he may have blurted out, as did the infamous Good Doctor, that he was just trying to teach her a lesson.

We’ll never know, because the department has inexplicably closed the investigation without apparently bothering to talk to him.

Then there’s Lt. Vernon’s apparent attempt to discredit the victim, suggesting that Schick may have been drinking — despite failing to present evidence to support that.

… He also questioned whether she had been drinking, and said officers could have insisted on a blood test at the hospital.

Yes, they could have requested a blood alcohol test at the hospital, but apparently didn’t. They also could have requested a virginity test, but failed to do that, as well.

It’s entirely possible that Susanna Schick had a drink or two — or maybe 20 — before riding home on Friday night. There’s clearly no shortage of bars Downtown where she might have stopped.

But given that she lives just a few blocks from where the incident unfolded, she could have just as easily been on her way home from church, a movie or an AA meeting.

If the police have any evidence that she’d been drinking, they failed to produce it.

As I’ve said before, we have no way of knowing what really happened that night. Maybe the police are right, and she was the aggressor in the road rage dispute, then simply fell off her bike.

Or maybe they’ve once again let a dangerous driver off the hook, as they did when they accused Andres Tena of riding his bike backwards into a Hummer, or cyclists of milling in the middle of a dark street waiting for a driver to mow them down.

I’m not, as a friend of mine accused me, accusing the police of lying.

I would sincerely like to believe that, from their perspective at least, they have followed the evidence and come to what they believe is the right conclusion, however much I may disagree with it. And however repugnant it may be to speculate that the victim may have been drunk without offering evidence to support it.

But to me, this appears to continue the same old windshield perspective, anti-bike bias that Los Angeles cyclists, and cyclists throughout the U.S. — and around the world, for that matter — have fought for years.

And which I thought was finally gone for good thanks to a bike friendly mayor, and the efforts of LAPD Chief Beck, Sgt. David Krumer and the bike community members of the LAPD Bike Task Force.

This investigation may be over as far as the police are concerned.

But that doesn’t mean it passes the smell test.

Update: Evidently, someone at LAPD headquarters doesn’t think it passes the smell test, either.

According to KNBC-4, the department is reopening the investigation, just hours after they reported the case had been closed. 

Police are reopening the investigation into what caused a cyclist to severely injure herself Friday night as a potential aggravated assault case, citing growing community concern and a second interview with the 42-year-old cyclist Susanna Schick.

Must have been some interview. Or maybe it’s thanks to KPCC’s Patt Morrison, who questioned LAPD Chief Beck about the case in an on-air interview Wednesday afternoon.

Of course, they don’t say who is suspected of the assault. The way this case is going, it wouldn’t surprise me if they charged Schick with assaulting the Lexus.

This case is starting to look more like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride than a serious police investigation.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton says the department’s conclusion — or previous conclusion, at least — in the case strains credibility.

You could say that.

Either the department has badly bungled this investigation, or they have conducted the one of the worst public relations exercises in recent memory.

Or both.

In less than a week, the credibility of the department has been badly eroded within the cycling community. 

In fact, I’ve received messages from dozens of cyclists questioning just who was in that white Lexus, and whether some members of the department are trying to protect them.

Yes, it sounds crazy.

Then again, so does everything else about this case.

LAPD reportedly dismisses hit-and-run in Pinkyracer case — in the middle of an ongoing investigation

Today we saw a turn of events so credibility straining it would get most Hollywood screenwriters fired.

And that’s not exactly a group known for believability.

An exchange of emails with LAPD Sgt. David Krumer shed light on the investigation into last Friday’s traffic incident that left Susanna Schick, aka Pinkyracer, broken and bruised in the ICU of a local hospital. Yet still raised as many questions as it answered.

And then it got strange.

Sgt. Krumer, the department’s highly respected liaison to the cycling community, had been out of the city through the holiday weekend, returning to his desk Tuesday morning. And was forced to immediately jump into the controversy surrounding the Schick case.

He reported that, contrary to earlier information, the LAPD did respond to the collision, and that a report was taken.

He said that the police were actually on the scene before the paramedics arrived, and that they were the ones who had called for an ambulance. And in fact, the officers were the ones who dropped Schick’s bike off at her home, rather than the paramedics as we had previously been told.

He said that there were conflicting reports that a collision had occurred, so the investigators were looking for video evidence to confirm exactly what had happened.

According to Krumer, the police also tried to interview Schick at the scene; perhaps due to the confusion caused by her injuries, she didn’t say anything about a collision. He said police would try to re-interview her again to clarify the situation.

It’s also possible that Schick doesn’t remember the collision itself due to her concussion; nearly four years later, I still have no memory of the solo fall that put me in the ICU.

He hinted that he had more information that would explain everything, but was prohibited from releasing it due to the ongoing investigation.

If only everyone else had such high standards.

Friends of Schick report that two detectives did in fact stop by to interview her in her hospital room — although interview might not be the best way to describe it. Instead, I’m told they put in at least as much effort trying to convince her she was wrong about the hit-and-run as they did asking what actually happened.

Then Tuesday morning, reports started to leak from police headquarters indicating that Schick wasn’t hit by a car after all; apparently there were witnesses who could discredit her entire story.

Witnesses in blue, no less.

And members of the department wasted no time in releasing the information Sgt. Krumer was prohibited from sharing.

I guess ongoing investigations don’t count when the department’s reputation is at stake.

I first heard rumors that a female detective was leaking information that Schick’s wreck had been witnessed by two officers who reportedly saw the entire event, and that they were the ones who called for the paramedics.

And they denied that any hit-and-run had occurred. Or that there was even another car involved in her fall.

By afternoon, a police spokesman was speaking to Blogdowntown on the record. LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon denied anything illegal had happened.

“There’s a great deal of discrepancy,” Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department said. “There is no crime here. She fell down on her bicycle.”

Remarkably, the police claimed that an experienced cyclist simply fell down. And somehow suffered multiple broken bones, as well as a shattered helmet, despite what would have been a relatively slow speed impact.

Blogdowntown reports that there is no dispute that the previously described white Lexus pulled out of a parking garage and swerved into the bike lane Schick was riding in on the opposite side of the street.

According to the report filed by the two officers who claim to have witnessed the events, Schick pedaled up to the car at the next red light, hit the passenger side mirror and started yelling at the people inside; the people in the car responded by rolling up their windows.

The officers said Schick continued riding for another block or two before the car turned right, and she simply began wobbling on her bike before falling over.

This semi-official version of events raises a lot of questions.

Not the least of which is why two police officers would witness a car serving across the entire width of a roadway and into a marked bike lane, jeopardizing the safety of a cyclist riding in it, and do absolutely nothing.

Repeat, nothing.

Which is exactly what they did when allegedly following an ongoing roadway dispute, even after they supposedly witnessed a cyclist striking a motor vehicle in anger.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t that have been the time to light up the reds and stop both parties before the situation escalated?

Now, it’s entirely possible that Schick did strike the car’s mirror to get the attention of the people inside. I’ve slapped fenders, trunks and windows for the same reason, as it can be almost impossible to get the attention of music blasting, cell phone-using drivers these days.

And so far, no one has mentioned whether the officers had an unobstructed view of the situation. Schick has stated that the car followed her for at least a block, possibly in the bike lane itself —which would be yet another violation the officers failed to address, and which would have obscured the view of anyone following behind.

It’s possible, if not likely, that the Lexus could have hit Schick’s bike before or during its turn without the impact being visible to the police officers who supposedly saw everything.

It’s also possible that the car might have caused her fall without ever actually coming into contact with her bike. Which would still qualify as hit-and-run if it could be determined that the driver’s actions directly contributed to the wreck.

And the Department’s version of events fails to explain why, if a police report was filed over the weekend, no one in the department seemed to know anything about it on Monday morning. Or even knew a crash had occurred.

I’m not saying the police are wrong.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what actually happened.

And they were — even if the information released so far doesn’t exactly add up.

But if the department is going to release information about an ongoing investigation, they need to be a lot more honest and open about it. And explain the apparent discrepancies in what we’ve heard so far, rather than falling over themselves to blame the victim.

Unfortunately, Schick’s bike may not be much help.

As it turns out, the supposedly tacoed rear wheel is actually a relatively minor bend. While it could still offer evidence of an impact, it may take an expert examination to determine exactly how it got that way.

Something else the police have yet to do, despite concluding that no impact occurred.

Meanwhile, the LACBC is calling for the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles to devote more resources halting the epidemic of hit-and-run; even if this turns out not to be one, drivers flee the scene in a full one-third of all L.A. collisions.

And writing on Streetsblog, Damien Newton calls on the LAPD to train a group of officers in the physics of bike and pedestrian crashes, so maybe in the future they can fairly assess blame without resorting to blaming the victims.

I couldn’t agree more.

But let me leave you with one final thought.

The LAPD investigators say they’ve ruled out hit-and-run, even though they’re still in the middle of an ongoing investigation. And despite continuing to look for video evidence or examining other physical that could prove that premature conclusion wrong.

So just how fair, open and honest can we really expect that investigation to be when, they’ve already announced the outcome in advance?

For a department that offers firearm training for all its officers, they certainly seem to have shot themselves in the foot.

LAPD never responded to Susanna Schick road rage assault — and aren’t sure it was one

My worst fears about the Susanna Schick collision were realized today.

Despite being run down by a road raging driver just blocks from LAPD headquarters, the police were never notified that a cyclist was lying facedown in the street for upwards of 15 minutes Friday night.

Or if they were notified, they never responded.

And no police report was ever filed.

I spoke with a reporter from the L.A. Times Tuesday morning, who mentioned that he’d been calling the police all morning. And everyone he spoke with said this was the first they’d heard of the hit-and-run road rage collision that put Susanna Schick in the ICU with a concussion and multiple fractures.

Absolutely horrifying.

At best, the call fell through the cracks on a holiday weekend. Maybe the paramedics were notified, and the call never got to the police. That’s scary enough.

Far worse is the possibility that any of us — cyclist, pedestrian or motorist — could be left lying in the street waiting for police who might never come.

Hopefully, Schick’s family managed to work their way through the police bureaucracy and get an investigation started today — giving a dangerous driver nearly three full days to cover his tracks.

We may all be a lot less safe on the streets than we thought.

……..

Just received word that a police report was finally filed today. But without witnesses or video evidence, police are treating Schick’s injury as a solo fall, and ignoring — or at least downplaying — the allegations that there was another vehicle involved. Let alone that it was a case of a road rage assault and hit-and-run.

Evidently, we really are on our own out there.

And while they appear to be downplaying Schick’s allegations, I’m told that a cyclist was ticketed in the same area for riding without reflectors on his pedals, despite having both front and back lights.

Yes, it’s illegal.

But probably the most technical, BS violation they could write a rider up for, rather than focusing their efforts on keeping us safe from the drivers who want to run us down.

In light of the LAPD’s massive failure in the Schick case, this is just rubbing salt in the wound.

……..

As for a medical update on her condition, word is that Schick’s doctors are trying to avoid surgery if possible. But she’s looking at a minimum of two months in the hospital or an assisted living facility before she gets back on her feet.

Her family also asks that friends refrain from visiting for the next few days so she can get her rest; too many visitors — and reporters — have worn her out.

The other burning question has been how her bike got back home; I’m told the paramedics dropped the bike off after delivering her to the ER.

And people continue to open their hearts and wallets, as 105 people have contributed $3700 to help defray her medical expenses as of 11 pm Monday.

There are days I’m really proud of my fellow cyclists.

……..

Several news sources have picked up the story, including the L.A. Times, KTLA-5, LAist — including a follow-up —  KNBC-4 and KPCC public radio; ESBK offers a personal reflection, as does Gas 2.0 and Net Impact Los Angeles, where Susanna Schick is part of the leadership team. Even the L.A. Weekly had a surprisingly even-handed report, while KCRW’s Shortcuts blog picked up my own posts (thanks Kajon). Toronto bike blog Bike Lane Diary reported on the collision, as did our own Claremont Cyclist.

Meanwhile, KCBS-2 ignored the family’s wishes and invaded interviewed Schick in her hospital room; the hospital has been instructed to keep the press out in the future while she recovers.

……..

A couple other quick notes on other bike-related subjects —

The first public workshop on the proposed Beverly Hills Bike Route Pilot Project will take place Wednesday evening; Better Bike’s Mark Elliot offers his thoughts on the subject.

Central Coast cyclists are fighting ill-advised rumble strips on Highway 1; thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

In case you missed it, a Bay Area cyclist could face manslaughter charges after blowing through an intersection and killing a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The rider reportedly posted online that he had entered the intersection on the yellow and that the light had turned red before he could get all the way across, and that he had done everything he could to avoid injuring anyone. Right. I’ve laid my bike on its side to avoid hitting someone else, knowing it was going to hurt like hell. And it did. But the other guy walked away, and that was all that really mattered. Thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the tip.

Meanwhile, Streetblog SF points out that cars still kill a lot more pedestrians than bikes do.

A speeding teenage driver loses control in Concord, and kills a father and daughter riding their bikes on the sidewalk, leaving a second daughter with less serious injuries.

The recently founded West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition has started documenting hazards to cyclists in the city, and wants your help to add to the list.

My favorite non-L.A. bikewear designer offers a look at her new spring women’s line, which somehow manages to be practical, stylish and sexy at the same time. Hey Nona — you know us guys need clothes too, right?

And finally, Chris Willig sends a photo of the ghost bike that was installed for Mulholland bike victim Carol Schreder; let’s all be grateful we didn’t need another one this past weekend.

Update: Susanna Schick improving — but where are the police?

Good news about Susanna Schick.

And possibly frightening news for all of us.

Schick, the cyclist who was the victim of an apparent road rage attack while riding in the Spring Street green bike lane last Friday night, is reportedly improving. Her friend Jennifer Beatty says that she’s awake and talking, and was allowed to eat on Sunday for the first time since she was admitted to the ICU.

She also reports that members of Schick’s family have arrived at her bedside, and are beginning to look into the police response to her assault.

And that’s where it gets scary.

As of Sunday night, no one from the department has apparently made any attempt to speak to speak to Schick. And her family has no information to indicate that the police even responded to the wreck that left her lying face down and unconscious on one of the Downtown’s busiest streets for as long as 10 to 15 minutes.

She reportedly has no memory of police officers at the scene of her collision, and no information about a police report being filed.

And that’s scary as hell.

It’s possible that the police were there, and she simply has no memory of them; clearly, she would have been in a lot of pain and barely conscious at that point.

Though you’d think that if the police did respond, they would have asked her what happened once she woke up. Or that someone — anyone — within the department would have followed up by visiting her in the ICU over the weekend.

Then again, this did happen over a holiday weekend, with both Easter and Passover undoubtedly affecting staffing levels at the department. And it may have looked like a solo bike collision — though you’d think someone might have asked how a rider could fall with enough force to cause such serious injuries in between red lights on such a level street.

But in a case like this, a prompt response is vital, as the driver is likely to attempt to get rid of any evidence that he may have hit a cyclist.

In addition, the two-block area where this unfolded contains countless security cameras that could shed light on exactly what happened. But those digital files and videotapes often aren’t kept long, as many systems are designed to record over older video files.

I also haven’t received any word on what happened to her bike, which may show evidence of a strike-from behind collision. Presumably, it should be held by the fire department or in police custody — but again, only if they responded to the collision.

We should find out a lot more today when her family begins what can often be a long, difficult process to work through LAPD bureaucracy to not only get information, but to get the department to take a hit-and-run case involving a cyclist seriously — let alone an accusation of an assault with a deadly weapon.

Hopefully, her family can get the ball rolling this morning, and get an investigation up to full speed before it’s too late. If it isn’t already.

But it’s frightening to think that something like this could happen without police involvement from the very beginning.

Hopefully, that’s not the case here.

Or ever.

Update: I’ve just been informed that Schick’s bike is currently at her home. And yes, the rear wheel is bent, indicating a hit-from-behind collision. No word yet on how it got there. Meanwhile, her ChipIn fund is up to $1700 as of 10:20 am Monday.

Update — L.A. cyclist Susanna Schick seriously injured in DTLA hit-and-run road rage attack

Susanna Schick, aka Pinkyracer, resting in ICU; photo courtesy of Jennifer Beatty

Just getting word of a horrible — and possibly deliberate — hit-and-run assault that left a popular cyclist seriously injured.

Several sources report that Susanna Schick, also known as Pinkyracer, was chased down and apparently struck by a white Lexus while riding in Downtown L.A. around 11:30 Friday night. Details are still sketchy, but it appears to have been road rage attack; the driver fled the scene following the collision.

According to the victim’s own words from her hospital bed, relayed by her friend Jennifer Beatty, the incident started on Spring Street between 2nd and 3rd — just half a block from the new LAPD headquarters — when the driver reportedly swerved across two lanes of traffic and into the bike lane where she was riding.

They exchanged words at the next traffic light until the female passenger rolled up her window; once the light changed, the car continued to chase her down 1st Street along Downtown’s new green bike lane.

After that, her memory is foggy; she remembers an “inexplicable extreme wobble” of bike — apparently a result of her bike being rammed from behind —  then nothing until the paramedics woke her up just past 4th Street, face down on the pavement and unable to move.

Schick reportedly suffered a concussion, broken collarbone, six broken ribs and a shattered pelvis, along with facial lacerations, all to the left side of her body, suggesting a high impact collision. Fortunately, she is conscious and speaking, though confined to the Intensive Care Unit at a Downtown hospital.

The car is described as a recent model, white midsize Lexus, either two or four doors, with tinted windows. The driver is described as a well-dressed, olive-complected man around 6′ tall, with a well-dressed female passenger.

If you see a car that matches the description, do not attempt to stop him yourself. Call the LAPD Central Traffic Division at 1-213-972-1853 and let them handle it. Or if you witnessed any part of the incident or have any pertinent information, you can email me at the address on the About page and I’ll forward it to the right people.

Best wishes to Pinkyracer for a full and speedy recovery, and thanks to Joe Anthony and Jennifer Beatty for the information.

Update: I’ve named Susanna Schick as the victim after getting permission to publicly identify her, and added a link to her Facebook page. I’ve also clarified where the incident occurred, and used her description of the wobble, based on additional information from Schick.

Update 2: A ChipIn fund has been created to raise money for Susanna Schick to help pay for her expenses and the costs of recovery.

Update 3: More information has been added to ChipIn page, including the time and additional details of the collision, which I’ve added above. As of 9:30 Sunday, the ChipIn account has raised $240. In addition, the story was picked up by LAist Sunday evening; thanks to Blog Downtown for prominently featuring the story, as well.

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