Archive for May 21, 2013

Nothing to see here — find me on LA Streetsblog today

Just a quick note to let you know I’m still alive, and haven’t suffered another computer failure.

Although Verizon and I may need to have a little chat about my internet connection.

My morning has been filled trying to keep up with LA Streetblog, where I’ll be guest editing for the next few days. That’s where you’ll find my contribution exhorting bicyclists and transportation advocates to get off their butts and get out and vote.

Even though I know far too many won’t.

I’ll try to get a new post on here for tomorrow. And you can find me on Streetsblog through Thursday.

Allegedly intoxicated, lightless bike rider fatally shot by Sheriff’s deputies in South L.A.

Yes, it’s against the law to ride a bike under the influence.

And yes, bike riders are legally required to have both a headlight, and at the very least, a rear reflector.

But the first is just a misdemeanor with a maximum $250 fine. And the second is usually just a fix-it ticket, often dismissed if the rider can prove he or she has put lights on the bike in question.

Neither usually punishable by the death penalty.

Yet that’s what happened over the weekend as a 50-year old bike rider was shot and killed in South L.A.

The L.A. Sheriff’s Department reports that the man, identified by KACB-7 as Terry Laffitte, was riding without lights and appeared to be drunk when he was spotted by Sheriff’s deputies at 9:12 pm Saturday on Miramonte Blvd in unincorporated L.A. County.

When the deputies tried to stop him, he continued riding to his home in the 6100 block of Miramonte. The officers followed him to the back of his home, where he reportedly punched one of them in the face, leading to a scuffle that eventually included members of his family who tried to pull the officers off Laffitte.

During the fight, he allegedly pulled out a gun, leading both deputies to fire a single shot each; Laffitte died at the scene.

The L.A. Times reports that two guns were found on the man, one of which was a replica.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, both Laffitte and members of his family who lived at the house are known gang members.

However, according to the report from KABC-7, family members say the shooting was unjustified.

“My brother was on the ground. They had his hands behind his back,” said Laffitte’s sister, Sandra Cotton. “He didn’t have a gun. Why would you shoot him if he was already on the ground and you guys had possession of him?”

Laffitte’s sister said the altercation was recorded on a cellphone, but she claims the device was confiscated by the sheriff’s department. Detectives said no cellphones were confiscated.

Family members said Laffitte had turned his life around and did not carry guns.

Of course, claims like that are easy to make.

But sometimes, they turn out to be true. Kern County Sheriff’s deputies are accused of illegally confiscating cell phones from people who witnessed a fatal police beating in the Bakersfield area — and allegedly deleting a video of the incident.

So let’s be clear about one thing.

You have a 1st Amendment right to record anything that occurs in public, whether or not it involves the police. And without a subpoena, they have no more right to take your phone or camera, or confiscate any photos or video on it, than anyone else on the street.

Less in fact, since police are required to protect the rights of the public and adhere to legal standards that the general public isn’t.

And while it happens far less often than some would suggest, it is also not unheard of for officers to plant a gun following an illegal shooting. I once knew a cop in another city who made a point of carrying a cheap handgun to drop at the scene in case he ever shot an unarmed person — and according to him, had used it in at least one case.

Of course, there’s nothing to suggest that’s what happened here, other than the statements of family members whose credibility has already been challenged by the gang accusations.

But even gang members have rights. And clearly, the LASD has some questions to answer.

Like how a simple misdemeanor traffic stop was allowed to escalate into fatal altercation.

And it’s not the first time it’s happened.

Update: City of Industry cyclist killed in big rig truck collision; 15th L.A. County cycling fatality this year

Yet another bike rider has died in what’s turning out to be a horrible year for L.A. County cyclists.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that a bicyclist was killed in a collision with a big rig truck in the City of Industry around 3:05 this afternoon.

The unidentified male victim was reportedly riding on the wrong side of Valley Blvd just east of Hurley Street when he was struck by the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. The driver stopped after the collision and was cooperating with investigators; no other details are available at this time.

If you haven’t gotten the message yet, let this be a reminder to never, ever ride salmon.

Drivers aren’t looking for cyclists coming towards them; even if they see you, they may assume you’re riding with traffic, rather than against it. It also reduces reaction times, while dramatically increasing the impact of a collision.

This is the 27th bicycling fatality in Southern California since the first of this year.

Remarkably, 15 of those collisions — 55% of all bicycling deaths in Southern California this year — have occurred Los Angeles County, which has averaged just under 24 cycling fatalities a year for the past several years.

Maybe it’s just a statistical blip that will average out before the year is over. But this is starting out to be an exceptionally deadly year for local bike riders, and we haven’t even reached the peak summer riding season.

Tthose numbers aren’t statistics, they’re people.

And far too many are dying this year.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and his family.

Update: The Tribune identifies the victim as 55-year old Jose Munoz of La Puente. 

According to the Diamond Bar-Wlanut Patch, Munoz was riding east in the westbound lane of Valley Blvd when he was hit by a truck pulling out of the Alta Dena Dairy. Under those circumstances, it’s likely the driver would have been looking towards oncoming traffic as he exited the lot, and may not have looked back to his right before pulling out. 

An aimless weekend wandering through the wild, wonderful and wacky world of bikes

I wasn’t really planning to write anything tonight; somehow, getting a little sleep seemed like a much more inviting option.

But sometimes, there’s just too much going on in the world of bikes to let it slide.

So grab a seat and strap yourself down.

This is going to be a bumpy ride.


With just two stages left, rising American rider Tejay Van Garderen has surged into the lead of the Amgen Tour of California.

Meanwhile, merchants in Avila Beach, host city of Thursday’s finish, reported mixed results from the tour’s presence. But at least one grammatically challenged local business didn’t seem happy at all.


Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the forward.


A Valley bicyclist reports he had an exciting ride home from work recently.*

I caught a car thief in the act. I left work around 9 tonight and headed home on my bike. 2 blocks from work I see a suspicious guy hanging around the passenger door of a parked Toyota. I pass him and pull around the corner, stopping to observe. I see him attempting to slim Jim the door open so I dial 911. I got a quick connection and started to do scribe what I was seeing. After a minute, the perp gets the passenger door open, unlocks the driver’s door then hops in. It takes him another minute to get the car started and to take off. The operator asked me to describe which way the car was going, so I figured I would see how long I could follow and give a running dialog using my wireless headset. I guess I was pumped up as I had no trouble maintaining the 30 MPH needed to keep up with the car as it weaves its way through the residential neighborhood. That’s quick for me, I normally do 20. I continued to provide a running dialog of my position. The LAPD was really on it, because they had a helicopter and three patrol cars pull the thief over in a half mile. My phone log shows the call duration was only 5 minutes.

After I hung up, I turned and headed for home. This part is really interesting. After I got over a mile away from the scene of the arrest, the police helicopter tracked me down and had me stop. I wonder if the GPS in my phone gave my location. A patrol car pulled up shortly after, the two officers got out and asked me for a witness statement. After I gave a full description of everything that transpired, the officer taking the statement asked me one last question. Mind you, I’m riding one of my nice road bikes and I’m fully kitted up. “What kind of car was I driving when I was following the stolen car?”

*Given the circumstances, I’m withholding his name to protect his privacy.


Santa Monica gets a boost in Bike Friendly rankings, rising from Bronze to Silver. And is rated as the nation’s 5th most bikable community, though some would question the value of that.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles consistently gets left off everyone’s lists of bikable communities. And now we can’t even manage a single bikable neighborhood, either.


Turns out all an artist has to do to get a private showing in New York is get run over by a truck. Then again, dying has always been a good career move in the art world.


Pasadena bicyclists observe Wednesday’s Ride of Silence; thanks to hard-working organizer Thomas Cassidy for making sure our local fallen riders aren’t forgotten.

My goal is to one day have a Ride of Silence straight down Wilshire Blvd from Santa Monica to Downtown.

Let’s see the media try to ignore that.


An exclusive Bay Area town considers banning out-of-town bicyclists from their affluent community. They may be able to legally do that since their roadways are private, rather than public, property.

Just don’t give Beverly Hills any ideas.


Winners are announced for the recent Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer hill climb competition.


Several openings on the job front for those of us who want to work in bike advocacy when we grew up.

First up, Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club — the nation’s largest local bike advocacy organization — is looking for a Policy and Government Affairs Manager. Transportation for America wants a Field Director for their DC office. L.A. expat Amanda Lipsey sends word that the Adventure Cycling Association is looking for a Web Developer ­– Systems Analyst to work in Missoula MT.

Closer to home, Bike Bakersfield is in need of an Executive Director; affinity for fog, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard highly recommended.

And yes, I have walked the streets of Bakersfield.


An article in Shape magazine offers 30 reasons bikes are better than boyfriends, including:

  • # 17. Bicycles aren’t afraid of a lifelong commitment; and
  • # 22. Bicycles that go flat are easy to pump up again.


Verizon celebrates creativity while supporting local community causes through their FiOS SoCal Experience, as well as offering you a chance to win a bike.

As a salute to the Southern California way of life, Verizon created the Conquer your Creativity Sweepstakes. Participants can win a locally crafted Villy Custom beach cruiser valued at over $700. The beach cruiser would be virtually designed by those participating through a unique computer-based design template that allows users to integrate colors, personal photos and text into their designs.

The FiOS SoCal Experience is actively supporting local community causes such as the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica, Habitat for Humanity Ventura and the SurfRider Foundation’s Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter. You can get involved by influencing local change at

You can also find them at the Huntington Beach Duck-A-Thon this weekend, where you can enter to win the beach cruiser or other prizes.


NPR says biking to work is good for you until you hit a pothole.


Bike Week wraps up in the L.A. area with the region’s first Bike Local Weekend. Just bring proof of ridership — such as a helmet or maybe a bike — into a long list of local businesses and attractions for special bike-only discounts.

Meanwhile, someone who writes a lot like me questions just what Bike to Work day is all about on LA Streetsblog.


Finally, an Alaskan newspaper says sure, go ahead and celebrate Bike to Work Day, but you’ll probably get killed.

And they quote a cop recommending that you make eye contact with drivers who may pose a risk — and if they don’t see you, pick up a stick and beat on their hood until they do.

No, really.

Evidently, drivers are a lot more forgiving up there in the Great White North.

Counter-protest angry motorists in San Pedro, ride in Simi Valley to fight homelessness

A couple quick time-sensitive items to wrap up a far too busy first full day back online.

And hey, thanks to the Santa Monica Police Department for cracking down on sidewalk cyclists on Bike to Work Day. That will certainly encourage more people to take up bike commuting.

Not to mention this was the first time I’ve visited a B2W Day pit stop that was delayed by a gun threat.


First up is the all-too-typical furor over road diets and bike lanes, this time in L.A.’s long suffering and usually forgotten port city of San Pedro.

A pair of underused streets — Westmont and Capitol Drives — recently underwent reductions to calm high-speed traffic, dropping one lane in each direction and installing the typical door zone bike lanes.

And needless to say, motorists are up in arms, even though the streets are almost always empty. And even though it should be bike riders complaining about the lack of buffers between them and flinging car doors.

In fact, I’m told Westmont, which is causing most of the anger, only backs up twice a day, when parents drop off and pick up their children at the local school. And then for only 20 minutes at a time.

Which means the roads are clear for 23 hours and 20 minutes every weekday — which, by my admittedly math-challenged calculations, that would appear to be most of the day. And which would suggest that it doesn’t back up at all on weekends.

God forbid that parents would address that minimal level of congestion by allowing their children to use those bike lanes to ride to school — let alone walk — and avoid the whole barely there mess to begin with.

After all, this is a community where the local high school students are forbidden from riding to school because the campus doesn’t even have or want bike parking.

And as we all know, the convenience of drivers is far more important than the lives and safety of cyclists. Even school aged ones.

I’m told the villagers are planning to shake their pitchforks angry motorists are planning to take to the streets in protest on Monday at 4 pm. Just coincidentally in time for the evening news.

Meanwhile, bike riders are encouraged to counter protest, not by confronting the insistently motoring public’s complaints, but simply by riding the bike lanes when the cameras are present.

The message will be clear, as the cameras will show angry drivers protesting over streets devoid of traffic backups, while bike riders calmly make use of the lanes studies show will reduce collisions and serious injuries for all road users.

Even for drivers who insist road capacity should be maintained for 40 minutes of peak traffic, at the expense of all other users at any other time.

If you ride in the San Pedro area — or can make it down to a part of the city most Angelenos have never seen and many don’t even know exists — you’re strongly encouraged to meet at the Albertson’s parking lot at Westmont Drive and S. Western Ave at 3:45 pm Monday.

Short notice, I know.

But it’s a good cause. And all you have to do is keep calm and ride your bike.

Thanks to Allyson Vought for the tip.


Some people complain about the many homeless people in Southern California.  Most simply ignore them.

A few — far too few — actually care enough to do something about it.

If you fit in that category, you’ll want to head up to Simi Valley on Saturday for the first ever — not the oxymoronic first annual, thank you — Ride for the Homeless. Rides range from two to 10 miles for a $20 registration fee and 25, 50 or 100 miles for just $40, followed by a barbeque and raffle.

It’s a great cause, and highly recommended.

Thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.


The LA Weekly abandons its sometimes irrational anti-bike attitude — okay, the anti-bike attitude is always irrational; they just don’t always express it — to profile one of my favorite people, LACBC Executive Director Jen Klausner.


Oh, please.

In an absurd take on the current state of bicycling that ignores trends over the past several years and assumes that the highly diverse bicycling community is just one big monoculture, the Wall Street Journal concludes there is a trend towards casual wear when riding.

And points the finger at a backlash against Lance Armstrong.

Never mind that the more casual, non-spandex bikewear has been growing in popularity for several years, dating back to when only the French and Greg LeMond accused Lance of doping.

Accurately, as it turns out.

Or that bike riders ride in different ways and for different purposes. And what works for a half-century ride up the coast isn’t what you’d want to wear for a bike date or a quick ride to the corner market.

I can also assure the WSJ that the reason no American municipality ranks among the world’s top 20 bike-friendly cities has a lot more to do with a lack of decent infrastructure and governmental support — not to mention San Pedro-style anti-bike lane NIMBYism — than a little spandex.


Finally, I hope to see you next Wednesday, when the LACBC presents five perspectives on California’s rules of the road for cyclists. One of which will be mine.

Perspective, that is, not rules. Although I have a few of those, too.

It takes place on the first floor of LACBC’s headquarters, 634 South Spring Street, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm; free for LACBC members and just $10 for non-members.


I’ll be guest editing LA Streetsblog on Friday, as Damien Newton takes some well-deserved time off. So be sure to stop by and see if I can make a muck of their well-oiled transportation news and advocacy machine.

Update — More bad news for Bike to Work Day: Bike rider killed by driver fleeing a shooting

The L.A. Times has just reported that a 34-year old bike rider was hit and killed by a driver fleeing the scene of a shooting in Florence last night.

According to the paper, the driver had just fired a gun into his girlfriend’s car when he hit the bicyclist at the corner of East 84th Street and South Central Avenue around 10:45 pm. The rider was dragged across the street by the driver’s vehicle, and pronounced dead at the scene.

Something tells me that relationship is probably over. The driver was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

This is the 26th Southern California cycling fatality I am aware of this year, and the 14th in Los Angeles County. This has been a horrible year for L.A. County, which usually averages around 24 cycling fatalities each year.

My deepest prayers and sympathy for the victim and his family.

Update: KABC-7 reports that the incident began with a domestic dispute around 10:30 pm, when the driver argued with the mother of his baby. After smashing and shooting the woman’s car, the suspect attempted to flee when a police helicopter arrived on the scene. 

According to Fox-11, the car became airborne before striking the victim, who has not be publicly identified, before hitting a street sign and coming to rest against another vehicle. The man attempted to flee on foot, but was captured nearby.

Breaking news: Bike rider killed in Valley hit-and-run

It’s happened again.

A bike rider has been killed killed by a heartless coward who left him to die on a San Fernando Valley street.

According to a release from the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, 44-year old Van Nuys resident Max De La Cruz was riding west on Roscoe Blvd east of Balboa Blvd around 11:30 pm last night when he was struck by a pickup truck.

The driver fled the scene; De La Cruz was transported to a local hospital where he died of his injuries.

Police are looking for a white truck with cargo in the back, possibly a Chevrolet or GMC, with damage to the front end. More information as it becomes available.

If you have any information, contact Valley Traffic Division Officer Fuentes at (818) 644-8022. During non-business hours or weekends, calls may be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800)-222-8477).

This is at least the 25th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in L.A. County; there was another death that occurred in West Covina while I was offline last week, more on that later. It’s also the fourth fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist in Southern California since the first of the year.

My heartfelt condolences and prayers for De La Cruz and his loved ones.

I’m back! Well, sort of…

Good news.

After 11 days without internet access, I’m finally back online. And the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro, thanks to your generosity and my wife’s overworked credit card.

It’s a long, complicated story, and not one I think anyone terribly wants to read.

Suffice it to say it involved the sudden death of my previous MacBook in mid-Tweet. On my wedding anniversary, no less. Followed by a convoluted comedy of errors involving Apple’s usually much better repair department, two non-functioning borrowed computers, and countless hours on the phone trying to figure out why I didn’t have functioning internet service on the rare occasions I had a functioning computer.

The day Apple called to tell me they couldn’t — or  more precisely, wouldn’t — repair my laptop was one of the lowest days of my life.

And yet, it lead, just hours later, to one of the most inspiring moments of my life, when the one email address I could access using my phone unexpectedly reported that someone had made a donation to my nearly forgotten PayPal account.

Followed by another. And another.

To say I was stunned is to put it mildly. It never would have occurred to me to ask my closest friends for help buying the replacement laptop I couldn’t afford — let alone people I only know through this blog. Or that anyone would want to dip into their own hard-earned funds to help me get back to writing it.

This is, in many ways, the hardest job I’ve ever had. And by far the most rewarding, even if it doesn’t pay a dime.

Which is something I obviously have to work on.

But thanks to you, I get to keep doing it. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

The donations eventually added up to a little over half the cost of the least expensive MacBook, along with a couple of badly outdated programs that had to be replaced after several years of non-updates before I could access the files I need on a daily basis.

And those are just the ones I had to have to get back to work; there are several others that will eventually need to be replaced before I’m back to full working strength.

So if anyone would still like to contribute, you can send a donation through PayPal to bikinginla at hotmail dot com.

But please, don’t feel obligated. I know as well as anyone how tight money can be these days; your continued readership is more than support enough.

Because it doesn’t matter what I have to say if no one wants to read it.

Finally, allow me to thank my friend thesqueak for filling in for me with Bike Week updates this week while I was still trapped in the seventh level of Unable to Connect to the Internet Hell.

And most of all, to the people listed below who dipped into their own wallets to help rescue me from it.

  • Danilla O.
  • Jessica D.
  • Mark J.
  • Vanessa G.
  • Todd M.
  • Michael E.
  • Brian N.
  • Nicholas A.
  • Joe R.
  • Steven H.
  • Todd R.
  • John L.
  • Harris M.
  • Chet K.
  • Michael B.
  • David H.
  • Michele C.
  • Dave M.
  • Philip L.

Update: We can add a few more extremely generous names to that list:

  • Vahe G.
  • Allen A.
  • Robert P.
  • Lisa L.
  • Richard R.
  • Kevin H.
  • Natalie C.
  • Philip W.
  • Gil S.
  • Glen S.
  • John H.

You guys truly amaze me. I can’t begin to tell you just how touched and humbled you’ve made me feel. And if there’s someone I’ve missed on that list, I sincerely apologize, and thank you as sincerely as I possibly can.

It’s going to take me a few days to get back up to speed. I’ve already spent over four hours today just sorting through the nearly 400 emails that piled up over the last near-dozen days.

Not to mention slogging through my blog to delete the many spam comments that managed to slip through the cracks while I was otherwise occupied.

So bear with me.

I hope to get back to bike news before the weekend, as well as filing in for Damien Newton on Streetsblog on Friday.

And to keep writing this blog as long as you’re willing to read it.


Wednesday offers beautifully cool weather, with sparking sunshine all day and a lovely waxing crescent moon to go along with your evening ride. A bike commute on a day like today is like playing hooky… without having to play hooky at all.

From 10am to 3pm today, BikeSGV will be at the Baldwin Park Metrolink Station to provide info, maintenance checks, minor repairs, and, most importantly, free swag!

This afternoon, Walk’n’Rollers offers a family-friendly bike ride along Ballona Creek in Culver City. Helmets are required and fun is practically guaranteed.

In the Valley, an after-school memorial ride departs Grant High School at 3:50pm in honor of David Granados, whose killer remains at large.

Cali Bike Tours leads a leisurely ride through Long Beach to showcase the city’s spectacular bikeyness.  The ride departs at 4:30pm from Bikestation Long Beach and returns at 6pm. Naturally, there will be coffee.

The City of Santa Monica and Santa Monica Spoke co-host a fantastic tour to show off its impressive new bike facilities. The ride departs SM City Hall at 4pm sharp and returns for a press conference at 5pm. And afterwards, join your fellow cyclists for Handlebar Happy Hour at West 4th and Jane.

Orange 20’s TJ Flexer guides you through the cradle of L.A.’s bike movement; it’s a rolling tour of the Bicycle District! See where it all began, and then return to HelMel for Scoops and maybe a chainring tattoo. Ride departs at 6:30pm from Orange 20 at Melrose & Heliotrope.

In Pasadena, C.I.C.L.E. hosts Ladies’ Night, beginning with a hands-on maintenance review courtesy of the lovely LUNA Chix, starting at 6:30pm at Paseo Colorado. There will be plenty of hydration on the Urban Expedition that follows, especially for ladies fond of coffee and/or wine! (Take a moment for a wistful peek out behind the Jones Coffee building to imagine the lovely elevated Cycleway that once soared above what is now that concrete alley.)

The annual Ride of Silence and its thundering message will roll through numerous cities tonight. Pasadena’s will be the largest in L.A County. The United Riders lead the way in South L.A., while Bici Libre holds its own
Rodado de Silencio.

Other SoCal Rides of Silence take place in Oxnard, Irvine, San Clemente, Rancho Cucamonga, Ridgecrest, San Diego, Temecula, Thousand Oaks and Ventura.

If today’s riding wasn’t enough, plan tomorrow’s Bike To Work Day commute around how many pit stops you can hit on the way to & from work. And there’s still time to register your pledge to pedal on Bike to Work Day; you could win a new folding bike from REI!

Check back tonight for details on tomorrow’s Bike to Work Day fun and the extraordinary list of events planned for the wild bikeapalooza that this upcoming weekend will be.

It’s Bike to Work Week!

As you may have noticed, it’s Bike to Work Week in Los Angeles. Did you miss the official kick-off event at Grand Park this morning? Well, sooth your broken heart (and sweaty brow, given that it’s 90 degrees downtown already) with a leisurely iced coffee at any of our bike-friendly Spring Street sidewalk cafes. Or, heck, in this heat, ice cream will make a perfectly acceptable lunch.

In Santa Monica, free safety checks at various bike shops throughout the day will get you rollin’ right.

Visit BikeSGV’s info booth at the El Monte Transit Center from 10am to 3pm today, and you can get your bike checked and score free swag!

Tonight you can roll with A Taste of Pasadena, one of many Bike Week events planned in the lovely City of Pasadena. The ride meets at Memorial Park, conveniently adjacent to the Gold Line’s Memorial Park Station.

And of course, you’ve already got your calendar marked for tomorrow’s Blessing of the Bikes at Good Samaritan Hospital. Whether you’re a true believer or merely superstitious, you can get blessed and fuel up for free.

You could win a new folding bike from REI, among other great prizes, if you take Metro’s pledge to Bike to Work this Thursday.

Take a break from all that riding to fill out Bikeside’s bike-friendliness survey. All the data are important, and your opinion counts!

There’s a bajillion more events going on this week, including movies, guided rides, and award announcements. Which lucky bike commuter will win Metro’s Golden Pedal Award in the “Treacherous Commutes” category? Stay tuned and BikingInLA will fill you in on everything so you won’t miss a minute of the fun!

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