Archive for July 23, 2013

62-year old bike rider killed in Fontana collision

Once again, a bike rider has been killed in San Bernardino County.

And once again, we have virtually no information on the tragedy.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 62-year old Hershel Trueblood of Fontana was killed when he “rode his bike into traffic,” whatever that means.

The San Bernardino County Coroner reports he was riding on Sierra Avenue at Fontana Circle — an address that doesn’t seem to exist — at 8:18 am Monday when he rode in front of a vehicle, and was hit by a car headed south on Sierra; he died at Arrowhead Medical Center at 1:51 pm.

No word from any source on which direction Trueblood was riding.

From the limited description, it sounds like he may have swerved into the traffic lane, for whatever reason, and been hit from behind in a classic SWSS — single witness suicide swerve. If there were no witnesses other than the driver who hit him who can verify that he rode into traffic, it’s just as possible that he may have been riding straight and hit from behind by an inattentive driver.

As the Urban Country points out, there are incentives for drivers, police and society at large to blame the victim for his own death when he is unable to defend himself.

Then again, for all we know, he could have been riding against traffic, or either he or the driver may have somehow strayed onto the wrong side of the road, resulting in head-on collision. Or he could have been riding on the sidewalk and come out into the street.

Unless someone bothers to do a follow-upthat goes beyond retyping the coroner’s cryptic report — which too often, doesn’t happen in the Inland Empire — we may never know.

This is the 49th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in San Bernardino County. Trueblood is the third rider killed in Fontana in the last three years, and the second in the last two months; the others died in collisions with trains.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Hershel Trueblood and his family and friends.

Killer SF cyclist Chris Bucchere gets slap on wrist — should we be angry?

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I can get almost apoplectic when a killer driver walks with a relative slap on the wrist.

So how should we respond when it’s a bike rider who gets the benefit of the court’s low valuation of a human life?

San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere faced a felony manslaughter charge for running into 71-year old pedestrian Sutchi Hui in a crosswalk while — allegedly — trying to beat his Strava time. Witnesses and security camera footage were unclear on whether he ran the red light, or entered on the yellow as Bucchere claimed.

Bucchere posted online shortly after the incident, defending his actions by saying the crosswalk filled before he could clear the intersection, and, unable to find a clear line, laid down his bike at the least populated area. At least some witnesses said he simply plowed through the crowded crosswalk, killing Hui.

Other witnesses reported that he had been riding recklessly prior to the collision, running at least three red lights prior to arriving at the deadly intersection.

Now the SF Gate reports that he’s accepted a plea deal that will avoid jail time, agreeing to perform 1,000 hours of community service.

Don’t get me wrong.

One thousand hours is a long time, and it gives him an opportunity to benefit society while serving as a warning to other riders.

But if a killer driver got off with just community service, we would be livid. At least, I would be.

Should we be any less so when the killer is one of us?

My first reaction was relief that Bucchere had been held accountable without suffering the heavy handed sentence that had been threatened. After all, he’s one of us, and it’s easy to imagine ourselves in that position.

Or not, on second though.

I never run red lights. As in, never.

I always ride within my capabilities; as thrilling as it can be to push beyond your limits, I’ve learned the hard way that the risks far outweigh the benefits.

And I never, ever ride recklessly around pedestrians. They have the right-of-way when crossing the street. And even when in the wrong, they are the only people on the roadway more vulnerable than we are.

They need, and deserve, our respect and consideration as much as we need that of the motorists we’re forced to share the road with.

So I find myself conflicted.

I’m angry that yet another killer has been let off the hook with a sentence that once again devalues the life of his victim and the consequences of his actions.

And relieved that one of us wasn’t held to a stricter accountability than similarly reckless drivers.

It’s just another slap on the wrist. And a sentence that is only fair in the uniformity of its unfairness.

Thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

Update: Bike rider mugged on Ballona Creek bike path; Redlands driver attempts to run down cyclists

Are the Ballona badlands back?

In a crime reminiscent of the bad old days of five years ago, when bike riders were attacked in two separate assaults on the Ballona Creek Bike Path, a cyclist was mugged on the popular bikeway Friday evening.

According to a comment from Mark Neumann, a friend of his was assaulted by three men in an attempt to steal his bike.

On Friday night about 6 pm while riding home from work, a friend of mine got assaulted on his bike riding the Ballona Creek bike path in Culver City on Friday. His words: “He threw his bike into my front wheel as I was about to pass him going about 20 mph. So that dumped me straight onto my shoulder and ribs. I hopped up and the guy was starting to pull my bike away. I told him no and grabbed it back. Wasn’t thinking straight with all the adrenaline cause he pulled it back and started reaching in his pocket. But then he let go and ran off. That’s when I started to feel the injuries and that I couldn’t breathe from the ribs and punctured lung. Feeling better today but the ribs hurt like a mother. Hope to get the chest tube out tomorrow and then get home.” Three guys caused him to crash and tried to steal his bike. He has 5 broken ribs, a broken clavicle, collapsed lung and some good road rash. He is doing well at UCLA but in lots of pain and unable to move.  Be careful on this path.

Unfortunately, things like this are nothing new.

And not restricted to the Ballona bikeway.

An August, 1990 article in the LA Times reports that the Automobile Club of Southern California had warned its bike riding members to avoid Ballona Creek due to dangerous conditions there — a risk made evident when a rider was shot to death on the bike path near Marina del Rey that July.

And it was just two years ago that riders were attacked in at least four separate incidents on the Greenway Trail in Wittier, including a woman who was severely beaten before her attackers ran off without taking anything. Or, thankfully, doing anything other than beating the crap out of her.

It’s a fear that leads many riders, especially women, to avoid off-road bikeways, particularly after dark or when other riders aren’t likely to be present. And may have contributed to the hit-and-run death of Erin Galligan in Santa Monica last year, as she chose to ride through a dangerous construction area on PCH rather than take her chances on the dark, secluded beachfront bike path just a few feet away.

It’s not that bike paths are inherently dangerous. It’s the fact that assaults like this are relatively rare that makes them so shocking.

But it’s an inherent problem with virtually any off-road pathway that while they offer protection from motor vehicles, large sections of the paths are likely to be out of public view and rarely, if ever, patrolled by the police, providing a secluded location for anyone with evil intent.

In fact, in the 2008 assaults, it became clear that the LAPD didn’t even know there was a Ballona Creek bike path, let alone where it was. A problem compounded by the three separate police agencies — LAPD, Culver City PD and LA Sheriff’s Department — responsible for various sections of the bikeway.

None of whom I have ever seen patrol the pathway while riding there myself.

That lack of police protection means it’s up to you keep an eye out for dangerous situations and people or circumstances that just don’t look right. Just as it would be if you were walking or riding through a secluded alley or parking garage, or any other place where an assault could be hidden from public view.

Though how you avoid someone throwing a bike at you is beyond me.

Update: Neumann forwards another report from a friend showing the long history of violence on the bikeway, this one dating back more than 20 years.

Flashback to: Wed Nov 27, 1991 Ballona Creek bike path. Back then there was no fence between the projects and the bike path. I was attacked by a gang while riding home from my office in Beverly Hills. They pulled me off the bike. One of them cold cocked me. I took off running. They caught me. Struck me on the side of the head (with a bike helmet on – no less) with either a gun or a pipe. While on the ground that night I thoroughly believed it was going to be my last day on this planet. But, they grabbed my backpack and ran away. (They got my wallet and a Rolex.) I was in shock. I had a fractured zygomatic (temple) arch. They never caught the culprits. My doctor failed to diagnose my fracture. It healed broken. I had to have corrective surgery which resulted in an infection/abscess. More surgery. A week in Torrance Memorial on 24 hour IV antibiotics. Lost 20 pounds. Necrosis to my jaw bone. Followed up with corrective surgery and bone removal. I have permanent limited opening of my jaw. I never thought anything could rattle me but I could not walk down a street without looking over my shoulder for over a year. I refused to ride that stretch of Ballona Creek for over 15 years. I will only ride it now if I am with others. A couple of weeks after I was assaulted a guy was shot and killed on his bike in the same stretch. I knew him. He worked at that corner mini-mart up from the MB Pier (where Skechers is now). Anyhow, I hope your friend is OK. Truly.

Update 2: The victim of the assault has been identified as Manhattan Beach school board member Bill Fournell; he was released from the hospital after five days with a broken collarbone, broken ribs and punctured lungs. 

Manhattan Beach Patch places the assault at around 6 pm on July 19th, between the Higuera and Dusquesne bridges.

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Maybe they really are out to get us.

According to multiple reports, a Redlands man is under arrest for deliberately aiming his car at number of bike riders in a string of attacks this past weekend.

Redlands police arrested 26-year old John McDonald on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after he repeatedly attempted to ram bicyclists along Sunset Drive with his Honda Civic. In at least one case, he swerved across the roadway in an effort to hit a cyclist riding in the opposite direction, forcing the rider off the road.

More frightening, police responded to similar calls throughout the weekend, including two on Sunday, suggesting that the attacks continued over at least a two-day period.

Under the circumstances, it seems like a miracle that no one was seriously injured.

Or worse.

And yet, when they finally did arrest him, McDonald was held on just a $50,000 bond. I guess trying to kill someone with your car isn’t considered all that serious unless you succeed.

Anyone with information is urged to call Redlands police at (909) 798-7681.

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Finally, police are looking for the hit-and-run driver who plowed into a group of cyclists at the monthly San Jose Bike Party, injuring two riders and leaving one with a broken hip and skull.

Clearly, hit-and-runs are not just an LA problem.

They seem to occur with frequency wherever motor vehicles come in contact with soft and breakable flesh.

Catching up: Bike art, a real Summer of Cycling rider, and driving on meth without a license

Let’s catch up with the weekend’s news.

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The 5th Edition of the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s popular Tour de Arts is back on August 18th, as art museums in Portland and around the nation embrace bike culture.

Thanks to Robin Cembelest of ARTNews for the second link.

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The Los Angeles Newspaper Group, home to the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Star-News, et al, finally finds a real bike rider to comment for their so-far far disappointing Summer of Cycling.

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A Palo Alto driver who ran down and gravely injured a 12-year boy riding in a bike lane will face only a single misdemeanor count despite driving with a suspended license and meth in his system.

If you ever wondered why people continue to die on our streets, that’s a damn good place to start.

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Police stop an anti-racism protest run in Westwood, but only the bicyclist accompanying the runners gets arrested, for reasons that remain undisclosed; thanks to Dylan for the heads-up. Then again, it was the cyclists riding for peace who got arrested in Inglewood, too; evidently, activism and pedals don’t go together as far as police are concerned. LADOT Bike Blog reports on the department’s progress to the BAC. Outside Magazine rides with Wolfpack Hustle’s Marathon Crash race. Bike lawyer Joshua Cohen will host a workshop on legal and practical issues for bicyclists on Tuesday at Red 5 Yellow 7. After surviving a helmetless fall, a Santa Monica lawyer wants everyone to wear one. Yes, there will be a second annual Clitoral Mass ride on August 24th. New bike racks are coming to downtown El Segundo; thanks to Margaret for the heads-up. Hermosa Cyclery helps provide a special-needs bike for an 11-year old double stroke victim. Long Beach will host a bike-in movie screening of The Triplets of Belleville on Saturday, August 10th. A new coffee and bike shop opens in Agoura Hills. The first of 30 “Need to Know” bike classes in East LA County kicked off in El Monte Saturday.

CLR Effect reports on the Ontario Grand Prix, including some outstanding racing photos. Bike lanes and sharrows are making life easier for Palm Springs bike riders. It really takes some sort of incredible heartless jerk to steal the ghost bike installed for 12-year old Simi Valley bike victim Jacob Sellers; a ride was held Sunday to re-install it. A 25-year old Santa Cruz cyclist is right hooked by a 95-year old driver, who responds by stepping on the gas instead of the brakes. A bike rider is found dead in a Los Banos canal, and may be the cyclist who was reported missing by his family. A San Francisco musician makes his living playing and pedaling a 325 pound piano bike. Another DUI hit-and-run in San Francisco, but this time, it was the cyclist who was allegedly drunk.

Why are BMW drivers such jerks when it comes to cyclists? A Seattle cyclist loses a thumb in a left cross collision with a drunk driver, who was still on the road despite a prior DUI. A Salt Lake City cop says bike riding is only healthy if you don’t have an SUV parked on top of you; no, seriously, thanks for that astounding insight. The Times says my bike-friendly hometown may be the happiest place on earth; hopefully not just because I don’t live there anymore. Evidently, LA isn’t the only city with a hit-and-run problem, as fleeing killer drivers are common in New Orleans. New York police ticket a cyclist for not running a red light, and add two more for not shutting up; best advice, shut up and take the ticket, then fight it later. Police use a Taser and projectile launcher to take down a Delaware driver following a hit, run, bike and swim. A suspected North Carolina drunk driver plows into a building, then hits a cyclist head-on on an off-road bike path.

The comparison between seat belts and bike helmets doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock a $960 Gucci bike helmet with built-in sun shield. A British celebrity lawyer calls for making helmets and hi-viz clothing mandatory. No, really, that pub owner was just making a really funny joke to his friends when he threatened to kill bike riders, so lighten up already. An Edinburgh surgeon rides 3,415 miles from LA to Boston. It’s been a very good year for UK cycling. Ireland plans on-the-spot fines for scofflaw cyclists, but don’t plan to punish drunk riders; insert mildly offensive drunken Irish joke here. Tour de France champ Chris Froome gives a backhand to an interfering fan, while Garmin-Sharp rider Jack Bauer suffers severe facial injuries falling into barbed wire. A retiring Jens Voigt attacks for the last time in the Tour de France. On the other hand, women riders could do that, too. Meanwhile, 27 more cyclists face doping charges; good thing the sport has been cleaned up, right?

Finally, at best, bicycling is slowing your rate of decay compared to your former classmates. And a UK man doesn’t remember killing his friend and dismembering his body, although that’s the sort of thing you’d think would stick with you. But at least he used a bike to get rid of the body parts.

A simple thought

My apologies for not having a new post for the last couple days.

Yesterday was my wife’s XXth anniversary of her 29th birthday, so that took priority over updating this site, as much as I might have wanted to.

Today, though, I woke to the news that this is the 44th anniversary of the moon landing.

Those of you who grew up in an age of space flight, where putting a man on the moon was old news, probably can’t comprehend just how momentous that moment was.

To this day, I clearly remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.

My father’s Knights of Columbus group had a picnic, scheduled long in advance, at the local park; a few members brought along their portable black & white TVs so they wouldn’t miss it. And at the appointed hour, everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around their TVs to watch.

And by everyone, I mean the entire world.

America had done the impossible.

Again.

As teenagers and men and women in their 20s, my parent’s generation, possibly your grandparents or even great grandparents, defeated the greatest war machine the world has ever known. And quite literally, saved the world in the process.

They split the atom. They landed on the moon, using 1960s technology. They fought, and won, the battle for civil rights. They built the massive Interstate highway system that connects our cities and makes our much-vaunted mobility a reality.

They did the impossible. Not once, but over and over again.

A generation that believed it could achieve anything, did. Today’s America believes it can’t, and doesn’t.

That’s not to say they got everything right.

We’re still fighting the battle for equal rights for all Americans. And dealing with the nuclear legacy they left behind, and the needless deaths on our streets.

But it was a generation that thought big, and found solutions when challenges to those ideas inevitably arose. And refused to let a single roadblock, or a thousand, derail them from reaching their destination as a nation.

Unlike ours.

It’s long past time to end the era of small thinking and lowered expectations, and once again envision America as it can and should be, with limitless horizons and compassion for all.

We have proven over and again that we can accomplish anything we truly commit to, and solve any problem if we set our minds and hearts to the task.

So lets do it. Again.

Now.

OC bike cop run down by driver, Gardena starting to get it, and banning Banning from illegal bike laws

Evidently, not even bike cops are safe from road raging and/or otherwise wacked out drivers.

According to multiple sources, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy was patrolling on his bike at John Wayne Airport when he went to investigate a collision in the parking garage, and wound up on the bumper of a car driven by 48-year old Rebecca McLaughlin.

McLaughlin had reportedly driven her Toyota Sequoia through a locked parking gate. The wrong way, no less.

She then backed up, aimed her car at the unnamed officer and accelerated, knocking him onto the hood of her Toyota Sequoia and running over his bike. He then wrestled her out of the car after she crashed into a ticket machine, and placed her under arrest.

And no, wrestling the driver out of the car that hit you is not recommended for any riders not in uniform, no matter how tempting it may be.

The officer suffered minor injuries, while his attacker was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, as well as an outstanding warrant.

She’s being held on over a half-million dollars bail.

Evidently, the courts take an assault on a bike riding police officer a lot more seriously than they do the rest of us.

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Gardena police promise better enforcement of traffic laws, but fall short of an apology for illegally ticketing a group of minority riders.

Or shooting one, for that matter.

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Looks like Banning has an illegal law on the books prohibiting bike riders from interfering with motor vehicles or pedestrians in any way.

It shall be a violation of law subject to punishment as set forth herein for any person operating a bicycle to obstruct, hinder, impede or restrict the lawful course of travel of any motor vehicle or the lawful use by any pedestrian of public streets, sidewalks, alleys, parking areas, pathways, or trails in any manner whatsoever. When operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or other area routinely traveled by pedestrians, such operator shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.

Someone should tell them it’s in violation of several state laws, starting with CVC 21200, and including the one that give the state — not local jurisdictions — full authority over traffic regulations.

 Thanks to Chris Kidd for the link.

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Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of the Santa Monica Farmers Market Massacre. I remember listening to the horrific, near-constant parade of ambulances, even though I lived over six miles away off Santa Monica Blvd, as the wounded and dead overwhelmed closer hospitals.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton takes on the Los Angeles News Group’s biased Summer of Cycling series. Even having your mother along is no guarantee police won’t pull a Taser on you during a protest ride. No bikes involved, just a driver sentenced to over five years for the allegedly intentional crash that cost two strip club patrons three legs. Actor Seth Rogan sports a sling here in LA after breaking his arm falling off a bike. The Weekly reviews Pedalers Fork in Calabasas, and kind of likes it, I think. A Newhall man has been charged with felony hit-and-run causing injury after turning himself in four hours after leaving a bike rider in the road with a broken back; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

It nearly happened again, as a bike rider encounters a car on the same off-road bike path where San Diego cyclist Nick Venuto was killed two years ago. A deadly stretch of road in Ramona will be widened, straightened and have bike lanes added; evidently to cut crashes while encouraging speeding. Cambrian bike riders sample eight possible fixes for the Highway 1 road surface Caltrans ruined. A Bay Area bike rider survives traveling by BART. A Petaluma bike thief is found hiding face-up in a river next to the submerged hot bike. A Santa Rosa writer asks where bike riders learn the rules of the road, not comprehending that most cyclists passed the same drivers test she did; that’s not to say better education isn’t needed for both drivers and bicyclists, but get real, already.

Not surprisingly, wealthier motorists are more likely to drive like jerks; certainly matches my experience. The Bike League is looking for a manager for their Equity Initiative. Apple is finally giving you back your Google Maps, including turn-by-turn bike directions. Now your bike can convert to a stroller once you get to your destination. People with far too much money on their hands can spend $400 for a Burley dog trailer. Not surprisingly, bike friendly businesses are doing good business. The Department of DIY wins one for a change, as Seattle decides to make a guerrilla bike lane permanent. A bike-riding writer in my hometown says cyclists who break the law deserve to be ticketed. The cross-country bike rider injured in the Colorado Dark Knight shootings intends to pick up where he left off before being shot. Bicycling is growing in popularity, even in Amarillo. Horrifying video of a crash with a cyclist captured from inside a bus. A Chicago suburb says no to fining parents whose kids don’t wear bike helmets. Is it just me, or does it strain credibility just a tad that a bike rider would run a stop sign in front of the oncoming dump truck that killed him? A South Carolina man is charged with hit-and-run in the death of a cyclist — evidently, without ever making contact with the bike or rider.

The Brit twit who tweeted about running down a bike rider faces charges including failure to report an accident; what, tweeting about it wasn’t enough? The head of British transportation charity Sustrans says slow down, you move too fast. Kill a cyclist while driving a cab, and get a whopping £35 — or $53 — fine. Before you can stop for red lights, you’ve got to have a red light to stop for. Tour de France leader Chris Froome is understandably upset over questions about doping; then again, given the race’s recent history, those questions seem inevitable. The director of the Tour de France brushes off demands for a women’s Tour. An Israeli entrepreneur want to help you electrify your own bike. An elderly Chinese man is charged as a reckless pedestrian in the death of an e-bike rider.

Finally, a Spanish cyclist is wrestled to the ground by a group of women parishioners after riding his bike into a local church waving a gun; not too surprising considering the church is named Los Angeles. And the 11th annual Beverly Hills Cycling Classic will be held today.

No, not that Beverly Hills.

Pasadena bike rider killed in collision with salmon cyclist; 22nd cycling death in LA County this year

Now we have confirmation.

Last night I mentioned that rumors were circulating that a bike rider had died in Pasadena. This morning, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune confirms that a rider critically injured in a collision with a salmon cyclist has passed away.

The rider, publicly identified only as a 20-year old Pasadena man, was headed west on Mountain Street at Garfield Avenue around 6 pm Saturday when he was hit head-on by a 17-year old cyclist riding against traffic. According to the paper, the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a severe head injury when he hit his head on the pavement.

He was taken to Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital, where he died Sunday evening.

The other rider was uninjured.

It’s hard to imagine how this collision could have occurred on what appears to be a relatively quiet street. It’s possible that the riders may have been boxed in by passing cars, or both may have swerved in the same direction in a last-second attempt to avoid the collision. It’s also possible that the younger rider may have just rounded the corner from Garfield, not leaving enough time for either to react.

Or one or both riders may have just not been paying attention.

In this case, whether or not the victim was wearing a helmet matters, as this seems to have been exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed collision helmets are that designed to protect against.

However, as Caltech Bike Lab points out, one of the many problems with riding salmon is that it dramatically increases the force of any impact.

It’s simple physics that when two objects traveling in opposite directions collide, their speeds combine to create the force of impact. For instance, if these two riders were both traveling at 10 miles per hour, they would have struck with the same force as hitting a stationary object at 20 mph.

And if they were both riding at 20 mph, they would have hit with a combined force of 40 mph — a speed almost assured to result in serious injury. The fact that only one rider was injured suggests that they may have struck a glancing blow, rather than a full head-on crash.

Riding salmon also reduces reaction times, making a collision that much more likely.

Finally, there is the legal aspect. By riding against traffic, the younger rider was in clear violation of CVC 21650, which requires all vehicles to travel on the right side of the roadway, as well as CVC 21202, which requires bicyclists to ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb.

By riding on the wrong side of the road, the 17-year old cyclist could face serious criminal charges, including a possible homicide charge, for causing the death of the other rider.

As well as a lifetime of living with the fact that his carelessness killed another person.

This is 48th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County, which compares with 24 and 23 for all of the last two years, respectively.

And it’s the second cycling death in Pasadena in less than 30 days, following the death of Phillip O’Neill near Caltech last month, which highlights the need for a comprehensive bike plan in the city.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for the victim and his love ones.

Thanks to Pasadena’s Day One for the heads-up.

Update: The victim has been identified as 20-year old Ulises Tamayo of Pasadena.

Westfield Century City wants your business. And they have the free bike valet to prove it.

Westfield Bike ValetFinally, someone gets it.

Instead of fighting to keep bike lanes and the bicyclists who use them from besmirching their businesses — as merchants on North Figueroa and York Blvd in Northeast LA have done lately — Westfield Century City is throwing open the doors for people on bikes.

The Westside shopping center, which sits at the eastern terminus of one of the city’s most popular bike lanes, wants your business.

No, they really want your business.

As I hinted yesterday, the busy mall is planning a new Bike Station, which will be the first in the city of Los Angeles. And just the second to be found north of Long Beach, following the highly successful Santa Monica Bike Centers.

Now Westfield’s Assistant General Manager Louis Schillace tells me they’re offering a free bike valet service. In fact, it’s already open, with the first signs going up along the eastbound Santa Monica Blvd bike lane on Tuesday.

Just ride up to the valet station at the front of the shopping center anytime between 10 am and 11 pm, and the Valet Ambassadors will issue you a ticket and lock your bike in a secure storage area while you shop, take in a movie or just hang out for awhile.

And did I mention it’s free?

Particularly nice now that they charge motorists a minimum of $1 for parking — which rises dramatically after three hours.

And which doesn’t seem to have done anything to diminish the demand for parking, as both levels of the upscale mall’s massive parking lots are often full.

As someone who’s lived in the area almost as long as I’ve been in Los Angeles, I used to avoid driving to the mall from Thanksgiving to New Years, when the holiday shopping frenzy meant long waits and endless circling for one of the few available parking spaces.

Now the popularity of Westfield Century City’s stores and restaurants, combined with one of the city’s busiest movie theaters, means that parking backlog exists year round, on most evenings and every weekend.

Bike Valet SignWhich is probably why their parking valet is always packed. And why they’re building a new 500-space parking garage next to Gelson’s and the aforementioned AMC Theaters.

But unlike most malls in auto-centric LA, they get it.

They understand that bikes mean business. And that giving people an opportunity to get out of their cars and ride to Pink Taco, the Apple Store or the latest Hollywood blockbuster on a typically perfect SoCal day means fewer cars clogging those parking lots and the streets leading up to them.

And that replacing their old, hidden wheel bender racks with safe, secure and convenient bike parking is the best way to entice us to open our wallets.

Meanwhile, the free — and yes, I can’t seem to mention that enough — bike valet is only the beginning.

In the near future, what Schillace assures me will be a state-of-the-art bicycle facility will provide an even better option for local riders.

The Bike Lockers will be in our secure valet area and heavily monitored. There will be access control to ensure the safety of the bikes. We will have male and female changing rooms with showers available for people who bike to the center and wish to freshen up.

Sounds perfect for people who commute to work in Century City. And once again, the plan is for the lockers to be free, though that may change depending on demand.

I can live with that.

I’m usually not one to recommend going to a mall. Let alone actually shopping in one.

But I’d love to see their bike valet swamped with bicycles this weekend, and every weekend to come. Along with an uptick in business to confirm they made the right choice.

And encourage other LA businesses to follow their example.

And while you’re there, be sure to stop at the concierge booth or mall offices and say thanks.

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On the other hand, one of LA’s leading landmarks could stand to show some serious improvement.

Bike advocate Niall Huffman rode to the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday for a show featuring, as he put it, “badass Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela along with DeVotchka and Lord Huron.” But when it came time to park his bike, he found the situation sadly lacking.

Leading to this email to the Bowl’s management.

To whom it may concern:

I strongly encourage the Hollywood Bowl to re-evaluate how it accommodates the parking needs of patrons who choose to arrive by bicycle. I recently rode my bike to an event, and found the designated “bike parking” (i.e., a railing around a tree next to the Main Gate) to be a joke. By the time I arrived 15 minutes before showtime, the entire outside of the railing was occupied by locked bikes, and I had to hoist my bike and clamber over the railing in order to find a space to lock up. Because the height of the railing interfered with my handlebars, it took me several minutes to figure out how to move the frame of my bicycle close enough to the railing to be able to lock it securely. A picture I took of the designated bike parking area — overflowing with locked bikes — may be viewed at http://goo.gl/7cFVA.

Hollywood Bowl bike parking

I found the whole experience to be undignified and unworthy of the Bowl’s reputation as a world-class live music venue. Beyond this, I am disappointed that the Bowl’s management has yet to see the wisdom of making arriving by bicycle a more convenient experience. Bicycles, after all, take up much less space than automobiles and do not contribute to the pre- and post-event congestion on surrounding streets for which the Bowl has become famous. In a time when the City of Los Angeles is seeking to encourage public transit, bicycling and walking as alternatives to sitting in traffic and making significant investments in improvements for users of these modes, the failure of large destinations like the Bowl to accommodate bicyclists at the end of their trips is holding back the achievement of this worthy policy goal.

This is all very frustrating because it would be remarkably easy for the Bowl to support the proper parking and locking of bicycles. Properly designed bicycle parking can accommodate 8 to 12 bikes in the space it would take to park one car, and standard U-shaped racks accommodating two bikes each can be bought and installed for around $100-200 apiece. Surely there is space somewhere on the Bowl’s property and in its budget for a few dozen of these racks.

If you require more information about how to provide proper bicycle parking, I recommend consulting the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals’ “Bicycle Parking Guidelines” (available at http://goo.gl/k3KOl), which contains standards for the shape, spacing and siting of bike racks. It would also be a good idea to review the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s guidelines for bike parking (http://goo.gl/vXOBY). It is key that any new bike racks allow for the frame — not just the wheel — of the bicycle to be locked, and that they not require the bicycle to be lifted off the ground.

It is my sincere hope that the management of the Bowl take this problem seriously and work in good faith to address it. I look forward to many more years of riding my bike to events and being treated with the same respect and dignity as any other Bowl patron.

Niall offered the following update on Tuesday:

UPDATE (7/16/13 5:19 pm): I’m told the Bowl provides a sweet bike rack to its employees and that there’s at least one bike commuter in their marketing department who’s working on improving the bike parking for event patrons, including discussing the possibility of having the LA County Bicycle Coalition coordinate a bike valet. Good to hear things may be getting better!

………

On a sadder subject, I’ve gotten a report that another bicyclist has died in Pasadena. However, I haven’t been able to get any confirmation yet; let’s hope it’s not true. And offer a few prayers just in case.

Was the brother of a Gardena bike theft victim murdered by the cops sent to help them?

Maybe those riders in Gardena are lucky they only got ticketed for blocking the lane.

It was suspicious enough when Gardena police blew away the brother of the victim — yes, victim — of a bike theft last month, because they couldn’t be bothered to let him explain that the bike-riding men they’d detained were friends who were helping to look for his brothers bike.

And yes, he said it in English, according to witnesses.

Somehow, the patrons at a nearby restaurant were able to understand Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino clearly. But the cops couldn’t seem to make it out, claiming he was shouting and gesturing before reaching towards his waistband.

So they shot him.

Eight times.

Including twice in the back.

One of those non-bike theft friends was also shot. And yes, also in the back.

Maybe they have a problem with backward shooting trick shot artists down there.

Never mind that the officers shot and killed an unarmed man. Or the recklessness they showed in opening fire just feet from of a crowded Redondo Beach Boulevard restaurant.

At best, it looks like an incredibly bad shoot by a trio of trigger happy cops. At worst, they may have murdered the brother of a petty crime victim

I cannot repeat that enough. They killed someone helping the victim of the crime.

And now those officers are back on the street after being placed on administrative leave.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stay the hell out of Gardena for the foreseeable future.

And whatever you do, don’t report a crime there.

Correction: An earlier draft said police had killed the victim of the bike theft, which had been my understanding. However, this story from the Daily Breeze makes it clear that the man who was killed, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was the brother of the man who had his bike stolen, and was assisting in the search for the stolen bike. Thanks to Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman for the correction.

………

Meanwhile, in yet another black mark on the city’s police department — which still hasn’t been able to catch the killer of hit-and-run victim Benjamin Torres — Streetsblog’s Damien Newton writes that you shouldn’t expect justice in the case of the LAPD Sargent whose daughter is charged with killing bike-riding postal worker Jesse Dotson in a hit-and-run.

That’s because Gardena police aren’t even investigating the father, even though she was driving his car, which was later reported stolen. And oddly, discovered just blocks away from their home.

As Damien put it,

He either believes his daughter’s ridiculous story and is one of the worst investigative officers ever, or he is complicit in the scheme to report the car stolen.

Yeah, no point in investigating that.

………

Bike racer Emma Pooley says it’s long past time that women bike racers were allowed to compete equally with the men — in fact, they used to just a few decades back, both in the Tour de France and America’s late, great Red Zinger/Coors Classic.

If you agree women belong in a parallel Le Tour — let alone the Amgen Tour of California and the upcoming USA Pro Challenge — sign the petition here.

I did.

………

A new bike and pedestrian bridge over the LA River on its way to approval by the LA City Council may make a planned Glendale bridge superfluous. The county breaks ground on a new segment of LA River pathway in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. The Source is enthusiastic about bike trains. Participants in Friday’s Zócalo Public Square/Grand Park forum call for a cease fire between bicyclists and drivers. Tell that to the papers of the Los Angeles News Group, who continue to troll for bike hate, this time questioning if LA commuters will ever bike to work, in a negatively worded poll. A Pasadena bike rider suffers life threatening injuries in a head-on collision with a salmon cyclist. Boyonabike looks at cars and the environment. Ride with the mayor of Montebello next Sunday. Over 500 riders turn out for the first ever Long Beach women’s only Beach Babe Classic. A Santa Clarita cyclist suffers a broken back in a hit-and-run; the driver turned himself in four hours later, apparently at the urging of family members. The San Diego Union-Tribune endorses efforts to promote bicycling in the county. Evidently, you don’t have to be sane to have a drivers license in California, with predictable results.

Scion thinks you’re an obstacle, but they’re really, really sorry about it. Elly Blue says our roads are depreciating, too. Do bike shops just market to white males? Cycle chic is already a thing; you can’t co-opt it by adding “ing,” even if helmets really are becoming more fashionable. Five innovative ways to park a bike. Using a bike as a weapon is no different from using a car as a weapon, except for the results. Famed researcher John Pucher says it’s time for a bike renaissance in Seattle. The Boulder CO sheriff says the road rage brake check that left a leading triathlete seriously injured wasn’t. An aggressive road-raging, horn-blaring, multi-car passing Colorado driver films his own apoplectic outrage at a group of bicyclists. Turns out you can’t use your car as a weapon to run down a bike riding, cigarette-stealing Wisconsin thief, after all. Even a protected bike lane isn’t enough to protect a Chicago bike rider. Michigan police arrest a 12-year old bike riding bank robber. Thanks to our veto-wielding governor, California can’t even get a three-foot passing law; a Maine writer says three-feet isn’t enough. Lesson #1: Try not to share the same stretch of asphalt as your boyfriend’s crazed, motor-maniacal ex. Upstate New York triathlete killed when he rides into the back of a parked car; another is seriously injured while exchanging water bottles. A pair of bike-riding Pennsylvania teenagers rescue a kidnapped five-year old girl; thanks to D.D. Syrdal for the heads-up. The next broken down bike rider you see could be Dave Matthews on his way to his own show, and you could get front row tickets if you stop. Seriously, no matter how pissed off you are about the 70-something driver who nearly hit you, don’t try to punch him out. A nice piece from Bike Delaware explains why you may be invisible to some drivers.

A British pub owner is really, really sorry he threatened to run down “weak-kneed” cyclists at 60 mph. Half of all Brits admit to road rage; maybe that’s why someone is pushing people off bikes in Leicester. With a week left, the Tour de France may already be over, as Froome looks unbeatable. Cadel Evans tweets advice on how to watch a bike race safely. A year after she quit racing, American Mara Abbott is a two-time winner of Italy’s prestigious Giro Rosa. Lexus rolls out a one million-yen limited edition bike; yawn.

Finally, what do you do after leaving City Council? Former Councilmember Ed Reyes rides a bike. And it looks like Westfield Century City will soon open LA’s first bike station; more on that later.

Westfield Bike Station

Because every child has a right to grow up

This is so not what I want to write about.

I’ve been working on another post, taking on so-called futurist Syd Mead, who somehow can’t seem to envision a future with bikes in it.

And typically, complains about empty unused bike lanes. Yet in the next breath, worries about cars unable to turn right because of all the bikes blocking their path.

Sometimes they just make it too easy.

But frankly, my heart’s just not in it.

Not tonight.

Because tonight my heart is weighed down by Skittles and tea, bumpers and guns; badly broken by a world where too many children lose their lives before they can get back home.

Yes, I’m talking about Trayvon Martin.

But I’m also talking about Horacio Pineda.

And Alex Romero.

And Danny Marin.

And Shantrel Williams.

And Jonathon Fernandez.

And Jeremy Perez.

And Joseph Parra.

And Roger Lewis.

And David Granados.

And Jonathon Hernandez.

All were 18-years old or younger when the life was crushed out of them by the bumper of a car. Or under a bus or truck.

In some cases, the driver was at fault. In some, the rider.

And in some, we’ll never know.

And those are just the one from Los Angeles County in the last three years. And only those who died in collisions.

The numbers would jump considerably if we added those who died from falls or trains or solo collisions. Or other SoCal counties outside LA.

Or gun violence while riding their bikes.

Like Martin, they had no idea when they left home they’d never return again. Or that the next time their parents and loved ones would say goodbye, it would be forever.

In his case, he went out for some Skittles and an iced tea.

The others were out with friends or running errands. Or just, you know, riding their bikes.

Like many others, I’m troubled by the Zimmerman verdict. Just as I am all the drivers who get off after killing a bike rider, or get just a slap on the wrist while their victims get the death penalty.

Or never face charges at all. If they’re ever found, for that matter.

I can’t say if he deserved to be convicted. I wasn’t in the courtroom; the only evidence I saw was what was presented on TV.

If you really want my opinion — and God knows, I don’t know why you would  in this case — he’s responsible for everything that happened once he ignored police instructions to stay out of it.

But I wasn’t there.

And unless your name is Zimmerman, neither were you.

What I do know is that far too many children are dying on our streets, victims of guns and gangs and cars and predators. And if we are ever to succeed as a civil society, it has to stop.

Now.

The Netherlands were once as car centric a nation as we are.

But the Stop de Kindermoord (stop the child murder) movement led to dramatic changes in transportation and society that gave a higher priority to the lives and safety of children and other assorted human beings.

Because it’s not just children who are dying out there.

It just seems more heartbreaking when it’s a future full of possibilities that’s snuffed out.

We need something like that, right here and right now. Something that goes beyond just traffic to address all the reason parents have to rightfully fear for their children whenever they leave the relative safety of home.

And to keep those children safe from the countless boogeymen and women behind the wheel.

Or behind the trigger.

Because the most fundamental right of all should be the right of every child to grow up.

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