Archive for June 30, 2013

Update: Bike rider killed in hit-from-behind collision; 5th cyclist killed in Lake Elsinore in past three years

We ended last week with a fallen cyclist.

And tragically, we start the week with another.

Just two days after James “Mitch” Waller was killed and another rider seriously injured when they were run down from behind while riding in Laguna Canyon Road near Laguna Beach, word comes of yet another Southern California bicycling fatality.

And like the others, she died after her bike was struck from behind.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 38-year old Lake Elsinore resident Lucia Ruano was riding south on Grand Avenue at Marvella Lane in Lake Elsinore when she was hit by a silver Ford F150 pickup at 8:37 am. She was pronounced dead just 35 minutes later at the Inland Valley Medical Center.

A street view indicates what looks like a rough shoulder there.

As too often happens with fatal collisions in the Inland area, there’s just too little information in the story to give a clear idea what happened. However, a comment on the Lake Elsinore – Wildomar Patch site offered a second-hand report that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, trapping the bike underneath.

And yes, the witness says the victim was wearing a helmet; from the sound of it, it probably didn’t matter.

Depending on exactly where the collision occurred, the driver may have drifted off the roadway, or Ruano may have entered the traffic lane to avoid an obstacle on the shoulder. Or the driver may have hit her while turning onto Marvella.

This is the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County; that compares to 29 and five, respectively, this time last year. Remarkably, it’s also the fifth cycling fatality in tiny Lake Elsinore, population 53,000, since 2010, and the second on Grand Avenue.

And if that doesn’t indicate a serious problem, I don’t know what does.

Meanwhile, bicycling fatalities are nearly 45% ahead of last year in the seven-county SoCal area just halfway into the year. And this comes as we head into the 4th of July weekend, which is traditionally one of the most dangerous times of year for area bike riders; last year seven cyclists were killed within a week of Independence Day.

One death is one too many; 42 in just six months is an obscenity.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Lucia Ruano and her family. 

Thanks to Zak and Walter Lars for the heads-up.

Update: Call this one a homicide. 

According to the Press-Enterprise, CHP officers arrested the driver, 40-year old Lake Elsinore resident Jay Dustin Sorrell, an hour after the collision for investigation of drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to authorities, Sorrell allowed his truck to drift onto the right shoulder, where he hit Ruano’s bike at around 40 mph, killing her. 

Yes, he was too drunk to drive at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. 

And now an innocent woman is dead because of it.

Update: Fatal bike collision on OC’s Laguna Canyon Road; victim former City Manager of Westminster

I’ve received a number of unconfirmed reports that a bike rider was killed this morning in a collision on Laguna Canyon Road in Orange County.

One person reports driving by the collision site and seeing a body covered up by police, following what appeared to be a collision between a bike and a minivan. Another report places the site near Highway 133.

More details as they become available.

Update: The Orange County Register has just confirmed that two cyclists were struck by a Toyota Corolla around 8:50 am, one fatally. 

They place the site of the collision on the southbound 133 Freeway (Laguna Canyon Road) north of the 73 toll road, just outside the Laguna Beach city limits. A comment from Mike puts it halfway between the 405 and the 73; a satellite view shows a wide shoulder at that point.

According to the paper, the driver remained at the scene; unfortunately, any other details are hidden behind their paywall.

Mike reports that the car had a crushed windshield; combined with the wide shoulder and relatively straight highway with limited access points, that would suggest a hit-from-behind collision.

This is the 41st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County.

Update 2: More details are coming in. According to the Laguna Beach Independent, the victim killed in today’s collision was a 53-year old Mission Viejo man, while the injured rider was a 48-year old man from Fullerton.

The Orange County Coroner’s office identifies the victim as James Mitchell Waller, and places the time of death at 8:48 am; a comment below says he was the former City Manager of the City of Westminster.

The surviving victim, is identified below as Kevin Beach, fleet superintendent for the city. He was taken to Mission Hospital; a comment says he is awake and alert, and no longer in critical condition.

According to Laguna Beach Patch, the 25-year old driver was traveling at 60 mph when she drifted onto the should of the road and hit both riders. She was questioned at the scene, and no arrest has been made at this time; alcohol use is not suspected.

A driver following shortly behind the Corolla witnessed the collision and stayed to aid the victims.

I was at the scene this morning on my way to work, two cars back from the accident when it happened and saw it go down. The two riders were struck from behind by a small white corolla-type car going about 60-65 mph (not sure why that car drifted into the shoulder). The rest of us who were there did what we could to help by directing traffic, calling 911, and talking with the conscious rider, who was responsive but in shock, while the other who died was non-responsive nor breathing right after the accident. Paramedics arrived around 5 minutes later and pronounced the fatality. The driver of the white car stayed (thankfully) and those of us who were there gave statements to the police. The previous post was correct – they were riding black/white Specialized frames. I am still in shock from seeing the accident and am praying for the families of all involved, including the woman driving the white car.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for James Waller, and all his family and loved ones. And prayers and best wishes for Kevin Beach for a full and speedy recover. 

Update 3: The OC Weekly offers a good profile of Waller, including his career with the Westminster Police Department. 

Update: Goodbye to bicycling’s best friend on City Council; Gardena hit-and-run, and Kevitt sent to rehab

Best wishes to outgoing City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, who is being honored by the L.A. City Council today in his final council session.

In many ways, the city’s recent upswing in bicycling can be traced back to Rosendah’sl stepping forward in the wake of the infamous Mandeville Canyon brake check that sent Dr. Christopher Thompson to jail for deliberately injuring two cyclists.

It was Rosehdahl who famously declared “Car culture ends today.” And shepherded the creation and passage of the city’s groundbreaking bicycle anti-harassment that has been copied by cities throughout California and around the country.

Not to mention bringing then new LAPD Chief Beck to meet with bicyclists in the council chambers, leading Beck to promise the department would do better — eventually becoming one of the nation’s most bike-friendly police departments.

Those a just a few of the highlights of a man who has been the best friend bike riders have ever had on the L.A. City Council.

And one who will be sorely missed.

Best wishes, Bill.

But don’t go too far. This city — and the cycling community you’ve worked to protect — still needs you.


A Gardena cyclist was severely injured in a hit-and-run Wednesday night.

The collision occurred about 9:50 pm on the 1000 block of El Segundo Blvd as the victim, identified as Gardena resident Jessie Dotson, was riding to work. He was rushed to a County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in extremely critical condition with head injuries.

Police are looking for a 40 – 50 year-old Latino man in a dark colored compact vehicle, with damage to the front windshield and a 5 in the license number. Anyone with information is urged to call Gardena police at 310/217-9600.

Sounds like prayers, good wishes or whatever you’re comfortable with are in order.

Thanks to Jim Lyle and Lois for the heads-up.

Update: Not surprisingly, the victim in this case, Jesse Dotson, died of his injuries three days after the collision, on Friday, June 29th. According to the Daily Breeze, despite the description given above, police arrested 22-year old Vanessa Marie Yanez on suspicion of manslaughter, perjury, filing a false police report and felony hit-and-run. 

In other words, they threw the book at her.

Something about this case must have really pissed someone off.


Semi-bike friendly Councilmember Tom LaBonge offers an update on Damian Kevitt, the Zoo Drive hit-and-run victim who lost a leg — and nearly lost his life — after being dragged onto the 5 Freeway. He reports Kevitt continues to make progress after being ransferred to the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehab Center in Downey for intense physical therapy.

Meanwhile, the city continues to offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the heartless coward who left Kevitt bleeding in the street.


Cannondale offers a free digital magazine to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France; the Cannondale Gazette is also available for download on iTunes, Android and Kindle.


Streetsblog offers advice for Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti’s first 100 days in office. Is anyone really surprised that bikeshare won’t come to L.A until next year at the earliest? Downtown’s Broadway could get a “dress rehearsal” road diet. Metro plans to spread CicLAvia outside L.A. Celebrate Bastille Day with the Beach Babes Bicycling Classic in Long Beach. A new combination bike and coffee shop opens in Agoura Hills. Red Kite Prayer celebrates cycling’s iPhone moment. Fallen San Diego bike racer Jackie Dunn is remembered as a kind and caring person. How to report an idiot driver. Marin County is up in arms because two preteen mountain bikers rode off after startling two equestrians, leaving them and a horse injured; jerks, yes, but I’d be more upset if they were adults. Making sense of a Fresno-area cycling tragedy a year later. For the right bike and rider, a good kickstand can be a good thing.

Artistic Cycling is the hot new sport. How to beat the heat on hot summer rides. An Ohio man gets a $5000 fine and five years in prison for killing a cyclist while under the influence. A Maine cyclist was killed by being sucked under by the slipstream of a passing semi-truck. Tickets for cyclists have gone up 81% in Brooklyn since New York’s CitiBike bikeshare program opened; not surprisingly, CitiBike users don’t want to ride uphill. Meanwhile, a New York cyclist is ticketed for riding a bike. Someone stole a tandem bike from a blind East Harlem cyclist. An automotive website says NY police are focusing more on pedestrian deaths, and that’s a good thing. The Wall Street Journal’s wicked witch is back for more bike hate; read the annotated Cliff Notes version instead. Evidently, life in Gotham is cheap as a judge calls the death of a four-year old killed by a teenage driver fleeing police “a mistake;” yeah, I’d say. Vastly over-estimating deaths and citing a discredited study to argue in favor of bike helmets. Video shows a cyclist wasn’t responsible for the collision that killed him, despite a long distance mistaken analysis. No bias here, as a DC cyclist is blamed for causing the collision that put him in the hospital — even though video evidence proves he didn’t.

A Toronto councilor is ticket for running a stop sign that doesn’t exist. In a rush back to the 1970s, the UK pledges to focus more on road building and less on active transportation. The case of a British woman who tweeted that she had knocked a cyclist off his bike — and actually did — has been referred to prosecutors. A Bath paper asks why there been another wave of bike hate; seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. A Brit researcher says bike helmets aren’t a no-brainer after all. Sometimes patient drivers are as annoying as the other kind; I often try to wave drivers around to get ‘em off my ass. Seven reasons to visit the bike-friendly Venice of Belgium. Oops; a court orders former pro cyclist Michael Rasmussen to pay over half a millions pounds after he sued his former team for firing him.

Finally, how many times do we have to say it? If you’re riding with an entire mobile meth lab in your backpack, stay off the damn sidewalk, already. And don’t throw your bike at police when they try to stop you for riding salmon.

Triathlete needs your help now to get to Kona Ironman in honor of fallen PCH cyclist

Maybe you remember the case.

On October 13th of last year, triathlete Mari Echevarria was riding on PCH when her tire got caught in a seam in the pavement between the shoulder and the roadway. She lost control of her bike, and was thrown into the path of a Metro bus, and was killed.

Now a friend of hers is trying to qualify for the Kona Ironman, exactly 365 days after Mari was killed.

Jeopardy presenter Kelly Miyahara is asking for your vote to help her get there. But time is short; as I write this, there’s less than five hours left to cast your vote.

It’s a worthy cause, to honor someone who should still be with us. And all it will cost you is a single click.

One other note on a related subject.

The City of Malibu, where her death occurred, responded to the tragedy by working with Caltrans to seal the crack that caused her death. And then went up and down the entire length of PCH in the city to seal any other separations between the shoulder and the roadway to keep it from happening again.

It may have come too late to save Mari.

But it was the right thing to do, and they deserve credit for doing it.

Thanks to Alan Thompson for the heads-up.

Happy anniversary to me, support the Rowena road diet, bike bills move forward, and a hot mess o’links

Maybe somebody should bake me a cake.

Remarkably, it’s been six years since I started this blog, mostly in an effort to blow of steam in response to the city’s unforgiving streets and uncaring leaders.

I had no idea I’d still be writing it over half a decade, 1413 posts and well over a million page views later. Let alone where it would take me.

Or that those mean streets would be a little safer, with bikeways that actually go somewhere, and plans for more. And with more bike riders on them. Along with city and county leaders who actually support them, and us, most of the time.

As opposed to those who say they do.

Back in those dark days, it was hard to find stories about bicycling in the press.

But as you can see from the links below, that’s changed, too.


Come out to support the Rowena road diet in a special evaluation meeting—  held just 90 days after its implementation — at 5 pm today at the Silverlake Community Church; nice of them to hold the meeting at a time most people won’t be able to attend.

Let alone demand results when it’s still too early to tell.


AB184, which would extend the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases, moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee, while the three-foot passing bill unanimously clears a final committee vote before moving on to the full Senate.

And, based on previous experience, a possible third veto by our bike-unfriendly governor who’s likely to Jerry Brown us once again.


Both Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and Melissa Balmer of Women on Bikes SoCal politely ask the owners of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press-Telegram and Star-News, et al, not to do a hatchet job on us in their Summer of Cycling series.

Based on the tone they’ve set so far, I wouldn’t count on it.


The Westside’s incoming and outgoing councilmembers join forces to fix a dangerous intersection on the Expo Line Bikeway, while a groundbreaking ceremony will be held Thursday at 2 pm for the accompanying Westwood Neighborhood Greenway. Flying Pigeon describes Sunday’s Wilshire CicLAvia as a Sea of Tranquility; works for me. Anti-bike bias is preventing a more pedestrian-friendly North Figueroa. Where’s the controversy over the First Street green bike lane; doesn’t Hollywood film in Boyle Heights? L.A.’s much vaunted Bike Nation bikeshare program won’t hit the streets until 2014, at best. Metro profiles a streets maintenance helper who’s biked to work through the mean, truck-laden streets of the City of Commerce for the past 10 years, which trumps anything I’ve done here on the Westside. You’re invited to the 3rd annual South LA, Peace, Love, and Family Ride & Fair 2013 on Saturday, July 6th. A fundraiser will be held for Ride2Recovery to support wounded vets Sunday, July 7th at Gem City Grill in Monrovia. Zócalo Public Square will host a discussion titled Will the Bicycle Kill the Car? at Grand Park on Friday, July 12th; odd that they’d talk about bicycling without inviting any bicycle advocates. Claiming the sun was in his eyes doesn’t absolve a driver for running into a cyclist, after all. Bike SGV will host a Bike Train BBQ and Celebration on Sunday, June 30th. The Pomona Valley Bike Coalition invites you to bike and hike Fish Canyon Falls this Saturday. CLR Effect has had it with salmon cyclists and cell phone talking girls with one hand on the handlebars.

The Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee —NBBMPOC? Would that be pronounced Nubbumpoc? — meets at 5 pm on Monday. The San Diego Velodrome honors fallen cyclist Jackie Drake. San Diego’s Imperial Beach will soon get a bike path adjacent bikeway village. NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan urges bold action to remake the streets of San Francisco. Probably not a good idea to crash into a motorcycle cop making a traffic stop. A planned bike path around Lake Tahoe moves another mile closer to completion. Sure, an Oroville man killed three people with a shotgun and set their bodies on fire in a stolen car, but at least he rode a bike back from the dump site.

The Bike League looks at laws requiring bike riders to use separated bikeways. People for Bikes offers advice for successful group rides. Rutger’s famed bicycling professor John Pucher says riding in Seattle is worse than Manhattan. A Seattle public radio station asks if bikes could be part of the answer in disaster; all I know is, zombies can’t eat your brains if they can’t catch you — or if you’re wearing a bike helmet, for that matter. Turns out my hometown is first runner-up for most bike-friendly city in Colorado; tell ‘em to call me if they ever want to be #1. An Iowa man survives 28 years in the Marine Corps only to be killed riding his bike. A writer bizarrely claims 100-mile group rides represent the Chicago’s craziest bicycling subculture; dude, it’s only crazy if you’ve never done it. A Chicago bike lawyer discusses whether you need insurance when you ride. Maine cyclists decry a pro-motorist bias. Seriously, do we need a stock report on the car brand driven by a hit-and-run driver embedded in a story about his New Jersey bicycling victim’s death? Bike funding is under attack once again, this time in Pennsylvania.

Bicycling is up an estimated 7% worldwide. Trek gets back into big time bike racing, buying the RadioShack-Leopard team for next year, which means we can now pronounce it trek instead of lee-o-pard. Aside from the headline, a Vancouver writer makes some good points about scofflaw cyclists. A sidewalk-riding Canadian cyclist faces hit-and-run charges in the death of a pedestrian. A London writer asks why drivers are in such a hurry to kill bicyclists. In the face of a nearly 20% increase in cycling fatalities over the last five years, it’s time for real government action in Scotland. Bicycling collisions are up an alarming 64% in one Indian state. An enterprising Japanese bike thief auctions bikes off before stealing them back.

Finally, a bike-hating victim-blaming Charleston writer claims you’re more likely to die commuting by bike, so let’s not do anything to make it safer or encourage it; actually, your risk of dying in a car is nearly twice as high on a per hour basis, so maybe we should stop encouraging that, instead. Meanwhile, Toronto police says doorings are like a sunny day.

And there’s nothing like flatting in the hood on the way back from CicLAvia.

Update: Bike rider dies Monday after apparent solo Fathers Day fall; Temecula rider dies of natural causes

These are the emails I hate to receive, when someone contacts me asking if I’ve heard about a bike rider who was killed.

Because too often, it’s something that hasn’t crossed my radar yet. And too often, it turns out to be true.

That’s what happened last night when I got a message asking about reports that a rider was killed on Avenue 64 in Los Angeles, near the Pasadena city limits.

A little research turned up a story on the Highland Park–Mount Washington Patch site, describing an apparent solo fall in which a rider suffered sever head trauma; comments to the story reported the victim had died, and gave a name.

According to the site, Jose Cuellar was riding south on Avenue 64 at Burleigh whn he lost control of his bike and fell, suffering severe head trauma. He was reportedly unconscious for 15 minutes before paramedics arrived and took him to a nearby hospital.

Reports of how the incident occurred are a little confusing. The site says the first indication of a problem was the sound of screeching tires; witnesses then report seeing the rider struggling to control a speed wobble before falling.

However, bike tires don’t normally screech, no matter how fast the rider is going or how much strain they’re under, suggesting that there may have been a motor vehicle involved which could have caused Cuellar to lose control of his bicycle.

The site notes he wasn’t wearing a helmet, which is relevant for a change, as this is exactly the sort of fall bike helmets are designed to protect against.

A call to the L.A. County Coroner’s office confirmed that 43-year old Jose Cuellar died at Huntington Memorial Hospital on Monday, June 24th.

According to the person I spoke with, the investigation into his death was just beginning, so no other information was available.

Update: Just received word from Sgt. Lazlo Sander, the LAPD’s bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division, that following further investigation, Cuellar’s death has been reclassified as a single vehicle traffic collision rather than a solo fall; however, there is still no suspicion that any other person or vehicle may have been involved.


In more bad news, a popular Temecula high school teacher died of natural causes while riding Sunday.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 52-year old Darren Thomas, a history and social sciences teacher at Chaparral High School, collapsed while riding in the 40000 block of Calle Medusa, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 9:49 am.

There will be vigil in his honor at 7 pm this Thursday at Puma Stadium, and a memorial service is tentatively scheduled for 1 pm on Saturday, July 6th in the school gym.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose Cuellar and Darren Thomas, and all their loved ones.


These are the 39th and 40th bicycling fatalities in Southern California this year, compared to just 28 this time last year.

It’s also the 19th bike-related death in Los Angeles County this year, compared with 24 bicycling fatalities countywide for each of the last two years. And the third in Riverside County, compared to 11 and 13 in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

It’s also the sixth bicycling death in the City of L.A. this year, compared to five in all of 2011 and four in 2012.

In other words, we’re already 50% above last year in the City of L.A.

And this year isn’t even half over yet.

Breaking news: bike lanes come to Beverly Hills

Looking east from just past Rexford Drive

Looking east from just past Rexford Drive

Okay, so it wasn’t a total surprise.

Recent news reports had indicated Beverly Hills would be installing their first bike lanes over the next week or so.

So when I saw temporary no parkings signs on Burton Way on my way to CicLAvia on Sunday, I assumed something was in the works.

Since a meeting of the LACBC’s Civic Engagement committee meant I had to ride through Beverly Hills on my way to Downtown LA Tuesday evening, I made a point of taking Burton Way just to check it out.

And sure enough, as soon as I passed Rexford Drive, after surviving the relative terror that is Little Santa Monica at rush hour, there it was. A sparking, capacious new bike lane — so new, in fact, that other riders were taking to the sidewalk in apparent disbelief of what was right there on the street in front of them.

And who could blame them?

Beverly Hills had long earned its moniker as the Biking Black Hole for being the only city in the area without a single inch of bikeway.

Until today.

Maybe we should call them the Biking Grey Hole now. Especially since the new lanes, along with bike lanes and sharrows due to go in on Crescent Drive, are only being installed on a one-year trial basis.

Still, the lanes felt good, more than wide enough to ride two abreast. And the eastbound lanes connected with the lanes on the Los Angeles section of the street, allowing a smooth, comfortable ride from Rexford to San Vicente.

With the slight downhill, I found myself easily riding at 29 mph; previously, I would have held my speed down for fear of traffic conflicts.

Although I might question the placement of sharrows where the bike lanes end to allow right turn lanes on some of the major streets. While they are placed according to standards in the center of the right through lane, few cyclists are likely to ride there, as there is more than enough room to ride next to vehicular traffic in the few feet before the traffic light.

Looking back at Beverly Hills City Hall, which suddenly looks just a little bike-friendlier.

Looking back at Beverly Hills City Hall, which suddenly looks just a little bike-friendlier.

At least, that’s where I rode, since stopped traffic blocked access to the center of the lane, anyway.

On the ride home, the westbound lanes skipped a block between where the L.A. lanes end just at Doheny, and the Beverly Hills lanes picked up a block later.

After all this time, it seems like a minor miracle that Beverly Hills finally has bike lanes. And maybe a warning sign of the apocalypse.

And of course, they installed bike lanes on one of the streets in Beverly Hills that doesn’t need them, since it was more than wide enough to ride outside of the traffic lane as it was.

But still. They’re actually here.

We all owe a round of thanks to Mark Elliot of Better Bike, who has been leading an almost single-handed, and finally successful. fight for cyclists in the Biking Grey Hole.

Which could take a little getting used to.

A successful Wilshire CicLAvia, Give Me 3 moves forward, and who knew drivers run stops signs, too?

The view from the Downtown hub

The view from the Downtown hub

Just a few quick thoughts on Sunday’s CicLAvia.

After all, there’s been more than enough written on the subject to make a review by yours truly truly irrelevant.

But let me offer my congratulations to the folks at CicLAvia for pulling off the most successful event yet.

Maybe it was the extended 9 am to 4 pm hours, allowing people to travel the route more leisurely.

It could have been using both sides of a wide boulevard, unlike the recent CicLAvia to the Sea, allowing more space to move. And the limited traffic crossings certainly didn’t hurt, making it possible for even the slowest riders to cover the entire route in an hour or so of actual pedaling.

Meanwhile, the shorter distance encouraged more walking, making this the first one where I’ve seen a significant amount of pedestrians along the entire route.

Evidently, bikes are good for business

Evidently, bikes are good for business

It might have been the iconic theme for an iconic boulevard. Along with the many entertainment and educational options along the route; the woman singing traditional Korean songs in not so traditional Koreatown was a highlight for me.

Call it Gangnam-style from a handful of centuries back.

Then there was the food of every possible description, dispensed from everything from trucks and restaurants to church groups and kids hawking cookies and lemonade.

It could have been the abundance of portapotties, reducing bladder pressure and putting everyone in better mood.

Or maybe it was all of the above, in what felt like the best planned and organized CicLAvia yet. Clearly, organizers have looked at what didn’t work in previous events and made some changes for the better.

I'll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see  unicorn on it

I’ll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see unicorns

One minor criticism is that participants universally ignored signs suggesting slower people should keep to the right, resulting in conflict zones throughout the full length of Wilshire. Which may have been why I saw three riders fall, resulting, thankfully, in relatively minor injuries.

The worst was a woman who lay in the street grabbing her collarbone, causing me to ride a few blocks back to an aid station get medical help.

The others suffered scrapes and road rash, and declined medical help.

Note to everyone: If you have the option for free medical help in an event like this, take advantage of it. Prompt first aid can prevent worse problems later, and the need for avoid more expensive medical attention if further injuries become apparent the next day, as often happens.

A friend writes that she witnessed a bike-bourn hit-and-run, in which a couple on a tandem rode off after knocking down another rider. Witnesses were unable to stop the bike before it disappeared into the crowd, leaving the victim sprawled bloody on the street.

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Then there’s the schmuck — and I use the term advisedly — who apparently was unwilling to make his way to one of the four crossing points, and gunned his late model Toyota through the barricades at Windsor Ave and across the CicLAvia route, where he hit a cyclist before fleeing the scene.

Fortunately, the rider wasn’t seriously hurt, though badly shaken. (Update: The rider has three fracture vertebrae as well as a mangled bike; having suffered the same injury a few decades back, he likely faces a long road to recovery and a lifetime of back pain.)

Unfortunately, the limited description means the driver will probably get away with it.

But on the off chance they find him, I hope they take away his license. And shove it so far up his ass he’ll need to see a proctologist to buy his next six pack of beer.


Congratulations to Wolfpack Hustle on pulling off what I’m told was a very successful and popular first-ever Civic Center Criterium on Sunday.


California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law is now before the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation and Housing after overwhelmingly passing the state Assembly, just shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority.

The bill’s sponsor, Inglewood Assemblymember Steven Bradford, has been very smart in answering the unreasonable objections Governor Jerry Brown gave in vetoing the last two attempts to pass a three-foot law.

There should be no rational reason for Brown to veto the law this time around. Although as we’ve seen, rationality isn’t exactly his strong point when it comes to bikes.

There are some strong supporters of bicycling on this committee, including West Valley Sen. Fran Pavley. But it couldn’t hurt to contact committee members to voice your support.

As we’ve seen with the previous attempts to pass this law, nothing is guaranteed in California politics.


After learning that the rate of cellphone violations are down in California, a writer from the Press-Enterprise conducts his own survey and finds 7.7% of drivers he observed at a Temecula intersection were texting or using handheld phones — slightly higher than state stats.

More interesting, however, was his secondary observation that two-thirds of the drivers failed to stop for the stop signs.

Based accusations from motorists, I would have sworn only bike riders do that.

Pot, meet kettle.


Speaking of anti-bike bias, so much for the L.A. Newspaper Group’s self-proclaimed Summer of Cycling being a good thing, as the owners of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press Telegram, et al, once again trot out the tired cliché of licensing cyclists and requiring insurance for bike riders.

As usually happens when the press chums for angry drivers, the results will inevitably skew towards requiring licensing for bike riders, if only because there are far more motorists than there are bicyclists. Never mind that this question reads like a classic push poll designed to draw a negative response.

So once again, for their benefit and that of anyone else unclear on the concept, like most bicyclists, I have a drivers license, which means we’ve already passed the same test as anyone else on the road — and probably have a better knowledge of traffic law than most, since we too frequently have to defend our right just to be on the road.

And despite what the papers suggest, my automotive insurance covers me for liability when I ride, as well as covering medical expenses resulting from a collision with an uninsured motorist or a solo fall.

Just like pretty much every American bike rider over the age of 16.

So get over it, already.

And before they claim to cover the subject, they need to reach out to the people and groups who are fighting for the rights of cyclists every day.

Not the angry drivers who don’t have a clue about the rights of cyclists, or how to ride a bike safely on the streets of Southern California.


Congratulations to our friends at LA Streetsblog, winners of two L.A. Press Club awards Sunday night.

Well deserved.


Former LADOT Bike Blogger and current Calbike board member Chris Kidd updates his comprehensive listing of state sidewalk riding laws, including percentages of where it’s legal in each county.


Looks like we’re all invited to the official inauguration ceremony for our new mayor this Sunday evening. LADOT ranks the 50 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians; something tells me they’re not much safer for anyone else. Beverly Hills begins work on the city’s first bike lanes; needless to say, they’re only being installed on a trial basis. A writer raises questions about plans to improve bicycling on Redondo Beach’s Harbor Drive. A SoCal cyclist sets a new national one-hour record at the Home Depot Center Velodrome in Carson. A Valencia woman faces charges for a hit-and-run that seriously injured a cyclist. San Diego prosecutors decide on misdemeanor charges for the driver responsible for killing cyclist Charles Gilbreth — despite recklessly passing a bus — and blame fallen cyclist David Ortiz, at least in part, for his own death.

Bikes Belong looks to reinvent itself. A smart new Maine bill redefines traffic to include bikes, bans right hooks and removes the restriction to ride to the right. NYPD is — finally — starting to take traffic fatalities seriously; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. A New York columnist offers his take on the city’s new bike share program; Gothamist says that all you got? A Virginia cyclist is hit by a stray bullet when a man can’t manage to load his gun without firing it. A Texas woman leaps off her bike at the last second to avoid getting run over by a cement truck. New Orleans gets bike lanes on iconic Esplanade Ave. One hundred nineteen years ago yesterday, a Jewish mother of three successfully set out from Boston to bike around the world.

A bike-hating Toronto writer changes his tune after just  two hours on two wheels. A Winnipeg writer offers a tongue-in-cheek look at six ways a cyclist with a death wish can become a hood ornament; decent advice, but somehow, not so funny. Bikes now make up as much as a quarter of London’s rush hour traffic. Tips for the bike curious. Even in the Netherlands, childhood bike riding is down as more parents drive their kids to school. A look back at 150 years of bicycling in Copenhagen. Evidently, you need nine lives to ride a bike.

Finally, I don’t even know what to say here, as a Swiss man sexually assaults a bicycle after puncturing both tires; presumably so it couldn’t get away, I guess. And if you’re carrying a sunglass case full of meth on your bike at 1 am, put a damn light on it, already.

The bike, that is, not the meth.

Lotsa links: Memorial rides, CicLAvia Sunday, the Summer of Cycling, and a VA bike rider says you suck

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a chance to catch up with the latest headlines.

So pop open a cold one, limber up your clicking finger and settle in for a little light reading. You’ve got to rest up for Sunday’s CicLAvia anyway, right?


A memorial ride will be held at 8 am Saturday in Coronado for San Diego bike racer Jackie Dunn, and a second ride will be held in Rancho Cucamonga. Now if someone will just organize rides for the other six riders who’ve lost their lives in Southern California in the past week or so.

Meanwhile, Michael Wagner of CLR Effect writes movingly about the effect Dunn’s death, and that of Chris Cono, have had on the local bike racing family.


KNBC-4 looks forward to Sunday’s Wilshire Blvd CicLAvia. LAist offers a guide to CicLAvia, which it calls the longest — in terms of hours, not distance — most walkable and event-filled; I prefer the jelly filled, myself. The Militant Angeleno offers his own great tour of CicLAvia sites, but  you can always settle for the official guide and/or podcast initiated by the Getty, whatever that means. One of those Wilshire Blvd sites is the famed Gaylord apartments, built by the boulevard’s socialist capitalist namesake. Take a bike train from the Tar Pits to the Wolfpack Crit. The Bikerowave will be closed for CicLAvia on Sunday.

And Forbes says CicLAvia is turning L.A. into a city of pedestrians.

As for me, I’ll be working the LACBC booth at the Downtown hub at One Wilshire from 10 am to noon on Sunday; stop by and say hi if you’re in the area.


The LA Daily News declares this the summer of cycling, but not necessarily in a good way. But what’s with this whole “bike lobby” crap that’s suddenly popping up everywhere since the wicked witch of Wall Street’s mad rant? Thanks to LACBC board member April Economides for the link.


It looks like West Hollywood is serious about updating its bicycle and pedestrian plan; the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition says things are moving forward.

Seriously, the WHBC is an amazing group of bike advocates working hard to make WeHo a safer and more ridable city; if you live or bike in the city, you owe it to yourself to join.


A bicyclist is looking for witnesses to a hit-and-run at Washington and Pacific in Venice this past Tuesday. Get a free peach if you bike valet today at the SaMo farmers market. If you’ve had a bike stolen in Santa Monica lately, the SMPD wants to get it back to you today. As Santa Monica police prepare to focus on ticketing bike riders, city officials focus on safety in the face of rising cycling rates; maybe they’re playing good cop, bad cop? The Times looks at outgoing city councilmember Bill Rosendahl; he’s been the role model for what an elected official should be. LACBC recounts the recent Climate Ride. LADOT welcomes two new assistant bike program coordinators. A new park opens along the L.A. River bike path. A new Watts bike co-op is put on hold until the owner gets back from his deployment in Afghanistan. In the wake of the collision that killed fallen bike rider Phillip O’Neill, Boyonabike examines the proposed Pasadena bike plan and finds it lacking. Santa Clarita is looking for artists to design new bike racks. Long Beach gets approval for separate bike and pedestrian paths on the beach.

San Diego will install sensors to lengthen red lights to give cyclists time to get across major intersections. Orange County’s cdmCyclist talks to two of my favorite people and bike advocates. A new Riverside bridge offers safe passage to bicyclists and pedestrians on the north side; on the south, not so much. Turns out bike lanes make things better for everyone; except Hollywood filmmakers, of course. SFist starts a — hopefully tongue-in-cheek — sidewalk riding offender registry. A Stockton rider is hit by a pickup, then beaten with baseball bats by the occupants. Watsonville wants to be the new Bike City USA. Now that’s a bad fall, as a Marin County man falls off a bike trail and lands butt first on a piece of rebar. When it comes to infrastructure, a little effective signage might help; personally, I want to post the last one facing against traffic all over L.A.

Elly Blue says the secret to riding in high heels is there is no secret. Lance wants the rest to the cycling world to come clean. A new record in the Race Across America (RAAM). The latest gear for bike cops. Seattle claims to have the world’s best naked bike ride. Skaters beat up a Seattle bike rider after making him fall. Bike to Work Day comes on Wednesday in my home town. A Colorado highway gets a $312 million upgrade, including a bike path. Kansas City Star says someone just needs to tell motorists bike lanes are a good thing. Minneapolis ridership is up, but crashes remain steady — there’s still room for improvement, though. Lady, if a Chicago bike rider travelling at world-class speed really ran right over your dog, he’d probably be dead — and so would the cyclist. A Maine bicyclist gets sucked under the wheels of a passing semi, and police fall over themselves to blame the victim. Leonardo DiCaprio and friend go riding in New York. Gothamist writes in defense of salmon cycling. AARP comes out strongly in support of a Federal Complete Streets bill. Businesses along a new bike trail in Greenville SC saw a 30-50% increase in sales. A Florida driver offers a bike rider $14 for a cab before fleeing the scene after running her down. Now that LeBron has a second ring, can the bike-riding NBA star fix the streets of Miami?

How to cycle up an impossibly high cliff to increase ridership. Guardian readers offer tips for touring France by bike. The New York Times complains Amsterdam suffers from too many bikes; nice problem to have. UK bike bloggers say the bike industry should spend less on press trips and more on advocacy. Bikes are making a comeback in traffic-clogged Bangladesh.

Finally, if you’re being attacked by buzzards, maybe you need to ride a little faster. A Virginia letter writer says I’m okay but you suck, as he draws an artificial distinction between bike riders like him and those damned cyclists. And if this reminder to get on your bike doesn’t make you smile, you may be beyond hope.

In the mad dash between various meetings, writing for Streetsblog and trying to keep up this site this week, I’m afraid I’ve lost track of who sent me what links this time.

So my apologies if I don’t give credit where it’s due for forwarding stories; trust me, I do appreciate it and I’ll try to do a better job next time.

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske weighs in on Santa Monica cyclist convicted of assault with a deadly weapon

Sometimes I’m surprised by just who reads this blog.

Let alone their willingness to weigh in on the issues we discuss.

Case in point: The other night, I mentioned I’d be writing a piece for LA Streetsblog about the cyclist who pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon after blowing through a red light, and seriously injuring a pedestrian on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

And while I was reaching out to a handful of the area’s leading bike lawyers for comments, I invited any other lawyers who wanted to weigh in on the case to send me their thoughts.

Still, I was surprised to receive an email yesterday from bike lawyer Bob Mionske, Bicycling Magazine’s Road Rights columnist, and author of Bicycling and the Law.

I used some of what he had to say in my piece, which is now online at Streetsblog.

But his entire response is well worth reading, as it shines a light both on issues in the Santa Monica case, and the mentality facing cyclists on the road everywhere.

With regard to the “assault with a deadly weapon” charge against the cyclist in Santa Monica, it seems to me that this is overreach, and is due to a frustration with cycling in general, and scofflaw riding specifically. But as we have witnessed in the aftermath of many a cyclist death under the wheels of a culpable motorist, comments about the scofflaw straw man always emerge. This may be a version of the same mentality. When people are frustrated by some group—in yesterday’s culture, young “hotrodders,” in today’s culture, “scofflaw cyclists”—finding a member of that group who has actually broken the law and been caught may lead to a sort of collective punishment for the entire group, in which the culprit is made an example of.

Looking beyond the particulars of this case, there are two larger issues here.

First, there is the issue of disparate treatment of cyclists who break the law, and drivers who break the law. We can see this in the “Scofflaw Cyclist” meme that cyclists are tarred with. In fact, drivers break the law at least as often as cyclists do, and perhaps more often. And when drivers break the law, they are more likely to be a danger to others than when cyclists break the law. And yet, cyclists are the ones who are tarred with the “Scofflaw” meme, even when they are the law-abiding victims of negligent drivers.

When drivers are negligent and injure or kill a cyclist, are they charged with “assault with a deadly weapon”? Not that I’ve ever heard of. Often, they are coddled with “it was just an accident.” And often, law enforcement bends over backwards to shift the blame to the cyclist, when it is crystal clear that the driver was breaking the law. I have seen this happen many, many times.

Part of the problem we are facing is that we live in a culture where most people, including law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and jury members are drivers. Prosecutors have a high bar of proof when pressing criminal charges, and if the accused was a driver who did something that every driver does, it may be difficult for the prosecutor to convince a jury made up of drivers to find the accused driver guilty of a serious charge. But when the accused is a cyclist, and the general opinion of cyclists is that they are scofflaws, it will be easier for the prosecutor to convince a jury made up of drivers to find the accused cyclist guilty.

There is nothing inherently wrong with pressing charges against cyclists who negligently injure pedestrians. But there is something wrong when we treat cyclists more harshly than we treat drivers who negligently injure cyclists and pedestrians. If as a society we want to start charging cyclists with serious violations when they negligently injure pedestrians, then we’d better get serious about charging motorists with equally serious violations when they negligently injure cyclists and pedestrians.

Second, when charges are filed, they should reflect what actually happened. This means that the incident should not be undercharged (for example, “unsafe passing” when in fact somebody was killed as a result of an unsafe pass), and the incident should not be overcharged. The question raised by the charge in this incident is whether the charge reflects what actually happened, or whether the cyclist was overcharged. From my own experience, I have never seen a motorist charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” after running a stop (yes, motorists run stops) and hitting a cyclist or pedestrian.

One other quick note.

Many of the attorneys I spoke with described the charge against the cyclist as an overreach. Meaning, yes, the cyclist could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but it probably wasn’t the appropriate charge in this case.

And while they didn’t say it, one that a good lawyer might have been able to get dismissed.

Which brings up one last point I’m surprised none of the lawyers mentioned.

If you get a ticket while riding, whether in Santa Monica or anywhere else, you may want to fight it — especially if there’s a question of selective enforcement, which may be the case as the SMPD plans to target violations by bike riders over the next few months.

Mionske offers a good guide to determine whether to fight or pay.

You may or may not be able to fight it on your own. But it’s always a good idea to talk with a lawyer first.

But if you’re facing criminal charges, for whatever reason, you need a good lawyer. It’s not a question of whether you can afford one, but that you simply can’t afford not to have one.

You can find a list of attorneys with experience in bike cases over there on the right. Including every lawyer I talked to for my Streetsblog story.

I don’t know if Rocky Martin had one.

But I suspect if he had, his case might have turned out differently.

%d bloggers like this: