Archive for July 31, 2013

Ignoring road rage in Santa Rosa, San Diego cyclists targeted, and LAPD accused of beating bike rider

Talk about the charges not fitting the crime.

A Santa Rosa driver identified as 22-year old Matthew Dewayne Hamilton is under arrest on a felony hit-and-run charge for what police describe as an accidental collision stemming from a roadway dispute.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Hamilton barely missed hitting a cyclist, who responded by yelling at him. So Hamilton backed up to continue the argument, colliding with the rider in the process.


It evidently wasn’t assault with a deadly weapon from their windshield perspective, even though the rider, who has not been publicly identified, suffered several broken bones, as well as internal injuries. And even though they themselves describe it as a road rage incident, police insist the driver just wanted to chat, if angrily.

Of course.

Then, realizing his error after plowing into the rider with enough force to cause significant injuries, Hamilton stomped on the gas and fled the scene, abandoning his car nearby. He was arrested while walking through the area.

You know, just another hit-and-run. Not a violent criminal fleeing the scene of his rage-fueled attack.

It’s all in how you look at it, evidently.

Then again, according to the police report, it was the car that was in control of Hamilton at the time of the collision, rather than the other way around.

Thanks to @murphstahoe for the heads-up.


San Diego cyclists are being targeted by jerks with a pellet gun.

The city’s 10News says police are investigating confirmed attacks in the La Jolla and Mount Soledad areas, as well as possible attacks in the Fiesta Island and Torrey Pines areas.

One woman suffered serious road rash when a pellet penetrated her shoulder and knocked her off her bike.

Police are looking for three men in a black sedan on possible felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

At least San Diego police get the charges right. Although I might argue for a domestic terrorism count.


San Diego police are also looking for tips in last year’s shooting death of 19-year old bike rider Joseph Hutchins in the City Heights neighborhood. Hutchins was killed the day after his 19th birthday.

A successful tip could earn a reward of up to $1000.

Yeah, that’ll motivate someone.


A Los Angeles man claims police beat the crap out of him for riding without lights.

According to KCBS-2/KCAL-9, Brian Cisneros was riding to work at the Ralphs market in Marina del Rey last Friday when he was stopped by two LAPD officers at the intersection of Ida and Redwood Avenues.

According to Cisneros, the officers exited their car with guns drawn and attacked him in a brutal assault that included choking, stomping and throwing him onto the hood of their car, despite his lack of resistance.

Then left him there with a ticket for not having lights while riding after dark.

Clearly, something violent happened.

Cisneros, who says he thought he was going to die, was treated for a dislocated shoulder and a fractured elbow, among other injuries. And looks like someone who took a serious beating in the photos that accompany the report.

But something tells me there’s more to the story.


Manhattan Beach Patch offers the most detailed report yet on Manhattan Beach school board member Bill Fournell, the bike rider violently assaulted in an apparent attempt to steal his bike on the Ballona Creek bike path on July 19th.

The attack took place around 6 pm, one of the busiest periods on the pathway, as bike commuters use it as a virtual bike freeway connecting Culver City with the coast.

Fournell suffered a broken collarbone, broken ribs and punctured lungs, requiring a five-day stay in the hospital, after one of the assailants threw a bike at his front wheel, then struggled with him for possession of his Litespeed bike.

And Patch finally gives us a location for the attack, saying he was assaulted by three juveniles on the bikeway between the Higuera and Dusquesne bridges.

As others have pointed out, the east end of the bike path is far less used than the western sections. Anytime you ride in a secluded area, out of view of the public or other riders, you need to be alert to your surroundings and any possible risks.

Although three kids with a bicycle on a bike path wouldn’t necessarily look threatening or out of place.


The LACBC reports the bike plan currently under development by the City of Carson has been watered down in the face of pushback from a pair of large local businesses.

The city’s Watson Land Company has argued that putting bike lanes next to the traffic lanes used by heavy trucks would increase the danger to bike riders.

Maybe someone should tell them that their self-proclaimed commitment to sustainability and philanthropy should extend to our streets.

Never mind that anyone wanting to ride through the city under current conditions already has to share those traffic lanes with those same trucks. And that the studies I’ve seen say bike lanes improve safety for everyone on the road.

Speaking for myself, I’d much rather ride beside a massive truck than in the lane in front of one.

No, far better to maintain the conditions that have already resulted in the death of a bike rider earlier this summer.

At least I can understand, if not accept, where they’re coming from in their desire to maintain the heavy truck hegemony over Carson’s streets.

Far harder to understand is the opposition from the StubHub (nee Home Depot) Center, home to the region’s leading velodrome. You’d think that an athletic center that features indoor bicycling events — including the upcoming USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships — would appreciate the desire of outdoor bicyclists to get there without getting killed.

But evidently, it’s inconceivable to them that bike racing fans, or their other patrons, might actually want to ride a bike there. Or maybe they just want to ensure that people continue drive to maintain that parking revenue.

The LACBC asks you to take action to preserve the Carson bike plan.

Take Action: Tell Carson City Council to preserve the Master Plan of Bikeways’ original intent of having a cycle-track on Albertoni and University, and preserving the proposed bike lanes on Avalon, Watson Center Road, and Wilmington.

If you cannot make the meeting on August 6 at 6 p.m., please call Mayor Dear at 310-952-1700 ext 1000 and email the rest of council at:

I’d suggest taking it a step further.

And let the StubHub Center know it’s not acceptable for a bicycling venue to needlessly risk the lives of their bike riding patrons.


Finally, Apple has evidently decided that American drivers aren’t distracted enough, and wants to incorporate iPhone functions — including texting and email — into car dashboards by the end of this year.

Which means you may be able to thank Steve Job’s successors for the distracted driver who runs you off the road next year.

If you’re still capable of thanking anyone.

Catching up on the latest news: LA tackles hit-and-run, more on Ballona Creek, off-base bike joke

It looks like City Council is finally taking LA’s hit-and-run epidemic seriously, including dropping use of the term accident to describe what is clearly a crime.

About time.

Most of the changes, such as increasing penalties for hit-and-run, revoking drivers licenses and seizing vehicles of drivers who flee collisions will have to be made on the state level.

But they’ll have a much better chance of succeeding with the backing of the state’s largest city.

Meanwhile, the city council can charge the LAPD with reprioritizing the crime and improving tracking so we know just how serious the problem really is.

Note to the LA Weekly. Seriously, we appreciate you calling attention to the problem of hit-and-run. But you didn’t discover it, and certainly weren’t the first to write about it. Try not to sprain anything patting yourself on the back.


More information on the recent attack on a cyclist on the Ballona Creek bike path mentioned here last week.

Turns out the victim was a Manhattan Beach school board member commuting home from his job on Mid-Wilshire; still no exact location where the attack occurred other than Culver City.

Writing for Orange 20 Bikes, Rick Risemberg says the solution is more and better coordinated police patrols, with checks and balances.

Thanks to Paiwei Wei for the link.


Scotland asks all road users to just be nice and get along; holding hands in a circle and singing Kumbaya is apparently optional. The organization behind it calls the campaign groundbreaking and the first of it’s kind.

Actually, similar “Be Nice” campaigns have been tried all over the world to limited success; local riders don’t seem too impressed.

Even if it does offer an opportunity to show some cute kittens.


Then there’s this from comedian Neal Brennan:

“Bicycle helmets save lives. Because if you wear one, women will never have sex with you, so you’ll never get AIDS.”

Yeah, hilarious.


Some jackass — which is the mildest term I can use under the circumstances — took down the Midnight Ridazz website over the weekend; you can help get it back online. Raising funds for Streetsblog’s new Santa Monica edition, Santa Monica Next. Speaking of which, Streetsblog will host a Google Hangout / YouTube discussion of bicycling this Wednesday at 5 pm. How to request repairs for LA City bike paths. No shortage of Hollywood films are coming out about cycling’s fallen seven-time hero. Temple City will remake Las Tunas Drive to de-emphasize cars and make it more attractive for bike riders and pedestrians. Pomona Valley Bikes hosts an all ages ride around Pomona this Saturday.

California’s third attempt at a three-foot passing law is still working it’s way through the state Senate; unfortunately, the clause allowing drivers to safely cross the center line to pass cyclists has been removed. If bike racks aren’t being used, they’re probably in the wrong place. Riverside considers a CicLAvia of their very own. The Press-Enterprise cites the right part of the state vehicle code to describe a bicycle, and still gets it wrong. Huntington Beach bike shop employee describes a chaotic night of fending off Surf City rioters. Eighteen-year old Dublin CA driver charged with killing one cyclist and seriously injuring her husband after losing control at 83 mph; his father was arrested on weapons charges after police searched for evidence in the collision. A look at the artist behind Sacramento’s new bike racks. Looks like the recent rash of bike path robberies has spread to Chico; or maybe it started there.

Evidently, traffic violations are a gateway crime. Seattle city council member suffers a broken shoulder blade when his bike is hit by a careless driver. US Pro Challenge bike art at Denver’s DIA. Not surprisingly, the way to get bike riders to obey traffic signals is to make them bike signals. This isn’t the first time bikes have been fashionable in New York. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay gets a bike lane in front of his own house. A teenage Brooklyn bike rider is busted twice by the same cop, evidently just for the hell of it. Advancing the technology in the battle to be seen; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Bikeyface looks at bike racks that don’t fit, or don’t even exist. Washington’s MLS soccer team will host a bike night this weekend; has any LA sports team ever done that? Looks like anti-bike KY Senator Rand Paul has failed in his latest attempt to strip Federal bike funding.

Ontario doctors say cycling is a necessary part of the cure for the Canadian city’s commuting problem. A London borough proposes to be as bike-friendly as Holland, including a floating bikeway on the Thames. From the country that gave us WAGS comes the latest spat from British cycling’s significant others. Should Britain get a mandatory helmet law? A helmet probably wouldn’t have helped this Brit rider avoid a 16” branch through the throat; on second thought, maybe you don’t want to see that. By now, it should be clear that virtually every pro cyclist doped in the 90s and 00s, as Eric Zabel is the latest to ‘fess up after retiring. A passing Kiwi driver helps save a cyclist who’d been dragged under a truck. How to deal with road raging Aussie drivers.

Finally, the director of the Tour de France calls adding a women’s Tour impossible, which apparently is French for we don’t want to. But at least women will get a five-day Tour of Britain next year.

And if women’s pro cycling is going to succeed, podium girls need to get the boot.

Like a bike shop in a surf riot, Helmets on Heads on the Eastside, and what I did this weekend

Just a few quick notes after being tied up inside all weekend.


Somehow, bikes always seem to end up on the losing end.

Even in the middle of a surf riot.

Last night proved that problems with “unruly crowds” aren’t confined to urban areas, as a crowd got out of control leaving the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.

And of course, immediately attacked the first bike shop they saw. Evidently, they couldn’t find a surf shop to trash in Surf City.

Earlier reports indicated the shop was looted, but it looks like just one bike was stolen from the window of the Easyrider bike & skate shop after someone threw, yes, a stop sign through it.

We’ll pause for a moment to consider the irony.

Apparently, a second bike was saved by employees playing tug-of-war with looter wannabes, using a bike instead of rope.

Our anonymous OC/Southbay source happened to be riding through in the immediate aftermath.

So a few hours ago, I pull up at a controlled intersection (controlled by five cruisers with lights & uniformed officers) and chat up a bored officer who’s just standing’ around keepin’ an eye on out, and he says right now they’re really cracking down and nailing people for every little thing. So I point out that I don’t have my bike light on. He says that’s too minor to deal with. “People just don’t bring bikes to riots.”

Well, Hunny PD. They should know.


People are sweeping the shattered glass off the curbs and only catching most of it before it hits the gutter. Main Street’ll be safe enough to ride by morning, though. And the officer said there’s a street sweeper coming in a few hours to clear PCH.

Thank god the Open’s over.


If you find yourself on the Eastside Wednesday, you might take a few minutes to meet BMX star Steve McCann and watch Schwinn do a good thing.

Helmets on Heads and Schwinn Bikes Provide Free Bike Helmets to kids from Variety Sports Club, July 31

BMX star Steve McCann to speak to kids about the importance of helmet safety


Helmets on Heads, a comprehensive national education campaign from Schwinn Bikes, in association with the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, is visiting Variety Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 31st. More than 250 members of the Variety Boys and Girls Club will receive a new bicycle helmet courtesy of Schwinn.

Educators from ThinkFirst Los Angeles County Chapter will discuss the importance of protecting the brain and fit each kid with a new Schwinn helmet. BMX star Steve McCann will be on hand to assist with helmet fitting, as well as to encourage the kids on safe and fun bike riding, along with helmet safety.

Helmets on Heads is committed to educating one million kids about bike helmet safety over the next 10 years. The organization offers tools and opportunities for educators, local communities and families to get involved and take action in protecting themselves and those around them.

For more information on Helmets on Heads please visit

One quick caveat, though. All the helmets are already spoken for, and none will be available to anyone other than the kids from the Boys and Girls Club.

Correction: I just got word that this event is not open to the public after all, so I’ve removed the time and location. 


STM_165x248_1Let me give a belated shout out to my friends at Clif Bar, who sent me their latest flavor to check out. There may not be a lot of perks to this job, but getting free food ranks pretty high on the list.

Note to brewers: I’m more than happy to sample your wares, as well.

I’m just saying.


Finally, about this last weekend.

I spent both days at a retreat for the Board of Directors for the LACBC (Saturday) and an LACBC Board/Staff workshop (Sunday).

I don’t often talk about my role with the LACBC here, since I want it to be clear that I’m speaking for myself, rather than than the LACBC or any organization I may be associated with, when I speak to the media or write on this site.

But allow me a moment to say I’m very proud to play a small part with such an outstanding organization. The people who work or volunteer for the LACBC are among the finest I have ever had the pleasure of being associated with. And dedicated to making to making the 88 cities and unincorporated areas that make up LA County better, safer and more inviting places to ride a bike — and helping make those communities healthier and more livable for everyone, whether they ride or not.

If you aren’t already a member, you owe it to yourself and your community to become one.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Even if you never ride a bike, you owe it to yourself to support a group working to improve commutes and make our streets safer for everyone on them.

Cyclist killed by Metrolink train in Jurupa Valley; passengers inconvenienced

What a wrong-headed article.

The Press-Enterprise reports a bike rider was killed by a Metrolink train in Jurupa Valley last night.

Or rather, barely reports, because the story only briefly touches on the fact that someone lost his or her life, instead focusing on the horrible inconvenience it posed to those on the train.

How rude that he should have delayed all those poor, unfortunate people from getting home by dying.

I’m going to be tied up all day today, but I’ll try to add more information later tonigt.

Update: According to the  Press-Enterprise, the collision occurred around 5:24 pm Friday at Rutile Blvd and Van Buren Blvd

The story offers no more information about the victim or the crash itself, even 24 hours later.

The Riverside County Coroner’s office offers a little more information, listing the victim as a 64-year old Riverside resident; his name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. He was declared dead at 5:34 pm.  

And yes, unless the warning signals were malfunctioning in some way, a collision with a train is almost always the rider’s fault. Looking at the satellite view, it’s hard to picture how the victim could have been caught on the tracks by accident; although it is always possible he was riding along the tracks rather than crossing them.

Never go around a warning gate, even if the way seems clear at the time; a train can be coming from out of view, or a stopped train can start without warning.

Other than the flashing lights, bells and lowered gates, that is.

This is the 54th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 6th in Riverside County. Remarkably, it’s also the 5th SoCal cyclist killed in a collision with a train since the first of the year.

Update 2: The victim has finally been publicly identified by the Riverside County Coroner’s office as 64-year old Riverside resident Ronald Rodriguez.

Breaking news — Christine Dahab sentenced to one year in county jail for Culver City 13 collision

LA bike lawyer Daniel Jimenez, known in the bicycling community as Dj Wheels, reports that Christine Dahab will spend the next year behind bars.

As noted yesterday, Dahab was sentence today at the Airport Courthouse for her role in the Culver City 13 collision, in which 13 riders were injured, some critically; initial reports said 11 riders had been injured.

Dahab was intoxicated and allegedly driving distracted when she plowed into the group of riders taking a break on the side of Jefferson Place, on the border between LA and Culver City. She entered a guilty plea in April, and was ordered to complete a 90-day evaluation period in state prison.

According to Jimenez, after victim impact statements were read today, she was sentenced to an additional 16 months in state prison; however, that was suspended in lieu of 365 days in county jail. She will likely receive credit for the 90 days already served.

The reduced sentence was most likely imposed as a result of California’s current prison overcrowding; the state is sending many prisoners to local jails to comply with a court order to reduce the prison population.

Update: Two bike riders killed in San Bernardino County hit-and-runs; both victims found dead on roadway

I could just scream.

Not only does the body count of bike riding hit-and-run victims continue to rise, but details on the twin San Bernardino County deaths seem to be treated like state secrets.

In what may be the single worst news item I’ve ever seen, the Press-Enterprise reports that a 55-year old bike rider, who has not been publicly identified, died somewhere in Ontario sometime on Thursday morning.

Ontario police responding to a report of a man in the street found the victim lying dead next to a bicycle, and determined he’d been hit by some sort of vehicle.

No word on where in the city of over 160,000 this might have occurred. Nor is there any suggestion of when this might have happened between the hours of midnight and noon, or any information on the victim aside from his age.

Or any other details whatsoever that might allow us to make any sense of the story.

All we know is another bike rider is dead, and another heartless coward ran away after taking the life of a fellow human being.

No word yet about the death on the San Bernardino County Coroner’s website, either; hopefully they’ll provide more information later today.

Update: The coroner’s office has identified the victim as 55-year old Ontario resident Antonio Soriano, and says he was killed on the 700 block of west State Street in Ontario; the call came in to 911 at 5:25 am.


Unfortunately, searching for news of the above death on the county coroner’s website revealed yet another fatal hit-and-run in San Bernardino County.

According to a brief press release from the coroner’s office, a 911 call reported a collision between a vehicle and a bike rider in Phelan — southwest of Hesperia and Victorville — at 11:41 last night. The San Bernardino Sun offers a typically cryptic report that merely retypes the coroner’s release.

When CHP officers and San Bernardino fire fighters arrived at the intersection of Highway 138 and Gramercy Road, they found 29-year old Max Deanwallace Abraham of Wrightwood lying alone in or near the roadway; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

No word on whether he was riding on 138 or trying to cross the dangerous highway, which has earned the nickname Blood Alley.

Again, hopefully we’ll get more information later. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Update: Maybe it wasn’t hit-and-run after all. 

According to the Victor Valley Daily Press, Abraham was riding his bike east on Highway 138 when he was struck from behind by a Chevy Tahoe pickup traveling at 60 mph.

A CHP spokesman says he was riding within the right hand lane, even though there appears to be an adequate shoulder in the area. The paper notes Abraham’s bike and body were found four feet inside the lane.

However, the landing point of the victim’s body is a highly unreliable indicator of where the rider was positioned prior to the collision, especially when hit at high speed. It’s entirely possible that the driver drifted off the side of the road to strike his bike, and he was thrown back into the roadway by the force of the impact.

The paper also notes he was not using lights or reflectors despite the late hour, and was not wearing a helmet. If the Daily Press can point out any bike helmet capable of protecting against a 60 mph impact, then, and only then, will that last part be relevant. 

No word on why this was originally reported as a hit-and-run.

The CHP spokesperson identified Abraham as a resident of Sunland, rather than Wrightwood; no explanation for the discrepancy.  Anyone with information is urged to contact the CHP at 760-241-1186, or call anonymously at 800-835-5247.


These are the 52nd and 53rd bicycling fatalities in Southern California this year, and the eighth in San Bernardino County; that compares to seven in the county this time last year.

Nearly 25% of those deaths — 13 out of 53 — have been the result of hit-and-runs.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for both victims and their loved ones.

Christine Dahab sentencing Friday, LA City Council takes up hit-and-run reform, Gardena police sued

Just a couple quick notes to wrap up a busy and exhausting day.

First up, a comment from Renee Andreassen sends word that Christine Dahab, the allegedly drunk and distracted driver who plowed into 13 bicyclists on a late night ride in Culver City in 2011, will be sentenced on Friday.

Christine Dahab, who hit 13 bicyclists June 2011 will be sentenced Friday July 26, 2013 at 
West District
Airport Courthouse,
 11701 South La Cienega Blvd.
 Los Angeles, CA 90045
 Dept D

I hope all of the victims will come to give their victim impact statements. 
I would appreciate any assistance this website can get out to those impacted by this horrible event

Dahab pleaded no contest to all charges last April, apparently including DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

She was sentenced to a 90-day evaluation period in state prison pending final sentencing. So she’s already spent more time behind bars than most drivers do even in fatal collisions. And could face a lot more.

I have other obligations Friday, so if anyone attends the sentencing, please let us know how it turns out.


Hit-and-run rears its ugly head once again in L.A. But this time, they may actually do something about it.

From the blog of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition:

The Public Safety Committee will hear the LAPD report on Friday, July 26th at 8:30 AM in City Hall Room 1010.  Please join LACBC in requesting that the City take a leadership role to fix state law to increase penalties for hit-and-run.  You can also write the committee members at,,, and

No matter how you parse the numbers — and the LAPD has been roundly criticized for attempting to put the best face on a dismal record — the city ranks at or near the top among major cities for cowardly drivers refusing to take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel.

Fortunately, the department appears to be taking the problem seriously. And they seem to have been listening to me, with recommendations including:

  • Automatic license consequences — hopefully including revocation
  • Possible hold or forfeiture of the vehicle used in the crime
  • More significant consequences, including tougher penalty enhancements
  • Limit civil compromises
  • Extend the statute of limitations for hit-and-runs that result in death or serious injury


Not surprisingly, Gardena police are being sued for civil rights violations and excessive force in the shooting death of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, who was killed by police while trying to help recover his brother’s stolen bicycle.

Diaz-Zeferino reportedly ran up to police as they held guns on two of his friends, shouting in English that they weren’t the thieves, but were trying to help find the bike.

And that’s when they shot him eight times, including twice in the back. As well as hitting one of his friends, resulting in permanent injuries.

Not that they overreacted or anything.


Finally, the arraignment for Gonzalo Aranguiz Salazar, the driver accused in the death of Cal Poly Pomona bike rider Ivan Aguilar, has been postponed until September.

Salazar faces a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. The relatively light charge may reflect the fact that was reportedly Aguilar riding against traffic, as many students do in that location, due to a lack of safe bicycling infrastructure.

Meanwhile, discussions are underway to make much-needed bike and pedestrian safety improvements on campus.

Hopefully before someone else gets killed.

Update: Orange County bike rider dies from injuries suffered in Saturday collision

Make that 51.

The ever growing body count of Southern California bicyclists continues to rise, as an Orange County bike rider died Monday morning following a Saturday collision.

According to the Orange County Coroner’s office, 40-year old Stanton resident Alberto Ramos was riding at the intersection of Dale and Cerritos Avenues in Stanton when he was struck by a small SUV at 10:20 pm on Saturday, July 20th. I’m told he died at UCI Medical Center in Orange without regaining consciousness.

His death came less than three weeks before his 41st birthday.

A source tells me the driver was arrested at the scene, which would suggest a possible DUI. However, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department refused to provide any information about the driver or any possible charges.

No other information is available at this time.

This is the 51st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, which compares with 41 this time last year. It’s also the 7th bicycling death in Orange County this year, as the county maintains its deadly one-a-month average of cycling fatalities.

That increase over last year is due entirely to a dramatic jump in fatalities in Los Angeles County, which has suffered 10 more deaths than this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Alberto Ramos and his family.

Update: The driver who was arrested has been identified as Charles Edward Bennett, who faces charges of driving on a suspended license, felony possession of a controlled substance & misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. 

Remarkably, he was released from jail on July 29th — despite a previous failure to appear on charges of driving on a suspended license & failure to provide proof of insurance from an arrest last March. 

Needless to say, he failed to appear for his most recent court date scheduled for August 5th, and is now listed as a fugitive. 

Embarrassing video shows Sheriff’s deputy doesn’t know what a sharrow is or what it means

They should be embarrassed.

Or maybe we should, since the LA County Sheriff’s Department is supposed to work for all of us.

Yet as this new YouTube video from WesHigh shows, at least one Sheriff’s Deputy has no idea what a sharrow is. Let alone that bicyclists aren’t required to ride to the ride on a non-sharable lane.

As the video points out, sharrows are not just wayfinding symbols that indicate a Class III bike route, but indicate the preferred position for bike riders within the lane. While you’re not required to ride on the sharrows, if you position yourself on the point of the arrow, you’ll be in the exact spot traffic engineers think you should be within the lane.

Those charged with enforcing the law should know that.

Yet from what I heard from other bike riders, the Deputy’s misconception, while an extreme example, isn’t that unusual for the department.

Many riders have complained about Sheriff’s Deputies demanding that they ride as far as possible to the right, in violation of CVC 21202, which only requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable. And then, only when traveling below the speed of traffic.

If you’re riding as fast or faster than the vehicles around you, you can legally ride anywhere you damn please, as long as you travel in the direction of traffic.

Yet even if you’re just crawling along, there are countless exceptions to the requirement to ride to the ride — including riding in a non-sharable lane, which is defined as any lane too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. And that includes allowing for sufficient space to avoid the door zone, which is one of those hazards the law refers to.

Which means that virtually every right lane in the Los Angeles area should be considered non-sharable. Especially if it allows parking on the right.

The officer is also mistaken in his insistence that the rider was obstructing traffic. Under California law, that only applies on two lane roadways, and by definition, requires five or more vehicles stuck behind the slower vehicle and unable to pass. If drivers can pass, or if there is another lane to the left they could use to pass if they chose to do so, the rider is not legally obstructing traffic.

As the video shows, this was a four lane street. And drivers were able to pass with ease — including the officer who dangerously chose to speak with a moving cyclist without pulling over to the curb first.

Unfortunately, this brings up a much bigger problem.

While the LAPD has worked with local bike riders to clarify the laws applying to cyclists, and developed a training session to train their officers in just how to — and how not to — enforce traffic laws relating to cyclists, the LASD, to the best of my knowledge, has not.

Just what training their officers receive in bike law isn’t known outside of the department and the officers who actually receive it. Or not.

And while the department may feel their officer training is adequate, this video — and complaints from bike riders around the county suggesting a lack of knowledge and inconsistent enforcement in various areas of the county — would suggest it isn’t.

It’s long past time for the Sheriff’s Department to step up and work with cyclists to ensure their officers understand bike law and enforce it correctly, and fairly.

In the meantime, this video prepared by the LAPD in conjunction cyclists participating in the department’s bike task force remains the state-ot-the-art for bicycle traffic law training among SoCal police agencies.

Even then, it’s only as good as department’s commitment to ensure every officer views it.

And learns it.

Police seek hit-and-run driver who killed 90-year old bike rider in April

A bad news day just got that much worse.

The LAPD has just released a dash cam video showing the hit-and-run death of a 90-year old bike rider in graphic detail.

Three months after the fact.

According to a video posted on the department’s YouTube page, Los Angeles resident Joo Yoon was riding in a marked crosswalk on Virgil at 6th Street around 5:10 pm on Saturday, April 27th; judging from the video, he appears to be headed west on 6th.

The light apparently turns green while he’s crossing the street. The bus driver recording the video waits for Yoon to finish crossing, while a driver in the right lane, whose view is apparently obstructed by the bus, blows through and hits the rider, who doesn’t move after the collision. Police report he died at a local hospital shortly afterwards.

The only thing harder to watch than the collision itself are the drivers who casually go around as a man lies dying in the street.

Police are looking for a a newer model Nissan GT-R, gun metal or dark grey, with 3″ white racing strip from front fender to tail light section, possibly on both sides, and damage to the front bumper area and hood — although that was likely fixed some time ago. They are also interested in a second vehicle, possibly a newer model black or dark colored Audi.

The suspect is described as an Asian man about 25-years old, with black hair and brown eyes, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing around 180 to 190 pounds.

Anyone with information is urged to call LAPD West Traffic Detectives Willmon at (213) 473-0222.

This is the 50th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and 23rd in Los Angeles County, equalling the total for all of last year. It’s also the 8th bicycling death in the City of Los Angeles, which compares with 5 for each of the last two years.

My prayers and sympathy for Joo Yoon and all his loved ones.

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