Archive for December 19, 2013

Michelle Mowery in the LA Times, the most heartless hit-and-run driver yet, and a Saturday memorial for Milt Olin

The Times’ Patt Morrison interviews LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery.

It’s a good piece for the most part, with an eye on where we’re going; using Copenhagen as a role model can’t be a bad thing.

Although I have to admit, I cringed in a few places.

Like where she responded to a question about licensing cyclists by correctly addressing the need for better education, without discussing why licensing is a bad idea. Let alone questions about bikes running red lights, without pointing out most riders don’t, and we’re not the only scofflaws on the road.

Others readers I heard from objected to a seemingly flip response to the question of parents who don’t wear helmets even though their children do.

And Morrison brings up the nonexistent traffic jams on 7th Street following the road diet that added bike lanes, with no refutation from Mowery — let alone a tacit admission that it could have resulted in a significant increase in pollution from idling cars.

Right.

Still, she has some good things to say, and it’s a good look at the woman who’s the closest thing this city has to a bike czar.

And who deserves a lot of credit for the changes we’ve seen on the streets in recent years, as the city has done the seemingly impossible by becoming officially bike friendly.

………

In the single most horribly heartless report I’ve ever seen, a Florida man drives for two miles after striking a cyclist, with the rider embedded in the car’s rear window. Then after arriving home, he pried the rider out of the glass, and dumped him behind a dumpster to die before hiding his damaged car from his girlfriend.

Fortunately, a landscaping crew found the victim nearly over two hours later, albeit in critical condition with a deep gash in the forehead, nearly severed ear, and spinal injuries that could leave him paralyzed.

Police arrested the driver at a body shop later that same day, as he attempted to get his car fixed before the damage could be discovered.

If there’s any justice, he’ll face an attempted murder charge for deliberately dumping the victim and leaving him to die.

And a very long sentence in a very unpleasant pen.

Wait. Attempted manslaughter? Seriously?

………

A memorial will be held for fallen cyclist, entertainment attorney and former Napster CEO Milt Olin at 2 pm this Saturday at the Jim Henson Company Lot, 1416 N. La Brea. The family asks attendees to carpool and RSVP here.

Still no word on the official cause of the collision that took his life, though rumors are rampant that the 16-year veteran sheriff’s deputy behind the wheel was using the patrol car’s laptop computer while he drove.

………

The LA Times says the LAPD should focus on riskier behavior than jaywalking; Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers arguments against the crackdown. Meanwhile, Streetsblog Sahra Suliaman asks for community involvement in the planned Slauson active transportation corridor. Better Bike reviews the recent meeting to remake bike-unfriendly Santa Monica Blvd; there may be hope for Beverly Hills yet, thanks largely to the efforts of Better Bike’s Mark Elliot. Santa Monica hosts an important meeting on the planned MANGo project on Saturday, January 7th. Downey’s new mayor has supported bike lanes since he was eight years old; let hope he still does. Wolfpack Hustle announces the official results of their 2013 race series. As we’ve been telling you, wayfaring signs really are coming to the LA River; no, really. Celebrate the season with the LACBC’s East LA Holiday Bike Parade. A bird-flipping Benz driver threatens to kill a Highland Park cyclist; could be another test case for the city’s anti-harassment ordinance.

Coronado’s temporary bike corrals may not be. Annual National City bike giveaway needs more bikes. Now you can ride the last leg of the Amgen Tour of California just like the real pros. but without the EPO and clenbuterol and stuff. Trek’s John Burke backs plans for a Santa Barbara bike network. San Francisco’s fire department opposes safety measures that could protect cyclists and pedestrians. More green lanes in San Francisco, and a parking protected bike lane. Oakland truck driver fatally drags a cyclist two blocks after hitting her; he may not have known he hit anyone. Sonoma County sting stops people driving away from the courthouse after their licenses have been suspended; wait, you mean the judge was serious about that?

Alta offers advice on how to avoid collisions, and what to do if you don’t. The seven habits of highly effective bike cities. Now you, too, can honk your horn in an obnoxious manner, or not. Drunk ND driver hits a cyclist, then backs up and runs over a pedestrian coming to the rider’s aid. Wisconsin hit-and-run driver who killed a 61-year old bike rider had 13 previous traffic violations in the last four years; so why was he still allowed to drive? Maybe bike lanes aren’t the cause of Buffalo’s traffic congestion. New York’s DOT launches a new campaign against reckless driving. Road raging New York cyclist arrested for bashing in a driver’s window for no apparent reason, if you believe the story. Philadelphia now allows you to tweet about blocked bike lanes, and they’ll actually do something about it. Boston police still won’t identify the officer who killed a cyclist last July. Bikes are the new enemy for misguided conservatives.

Canadian bike safety taught via Legos. UK driver gets six years for killing a cyclist while driving drunk and without a license. Riding a bike cross-county, and with a pig. Riding a London bike share bike up Mt. Ventoux before the rental period expires; then again, Boris Bikes are turning up in Gambia, too. UK bike rider takes the long way home — from South Korea. New German fitness shirt promises to manage your e-bike for you; but if you’re riding an e-bike, why do you need a fitness shirt? Ninety-four percent of Turkish motorists think they’re better drivers than they really are; I suspect that would hold true everywhere. Kolkata bans bikes, or maybe not. Saudi groom rides his bike into his wedding hall on a dare. Gambia cracks down on dangerous cyclists. Aussie world-champion time trialist Michael Rogers claims his positive drug test for clenbuterol resulted from tainted meat; why not, it’s worked before. An Australian concrete company bars a bike path. Road raging Kiwi driver gets 32 months in prison for attacking a triathlete.

Finally, a Missouri woman won’t face charges for fatally running down a bike rider at 82 mph. But her ex-boyfriend will, after flashing a gun and chasing her through the streets; he’s charged with second degree murder in the rider’s death.

Seriously, there are no words.

Thanks to John McBrearty and Rich Alossi for their generous donations to help support this site.

Breaking news — bike rider physically assaulted by motorist in West LA

I’ve received an eye witness report of a bike rider being physically attacked by a motorist this afternoon.

According the report, forwarded to me by attorney David Huntsman, a woman was driving north on Westwood Blvd when she saw another driver get out of his car and attack the rider on the southeast corner of Westwood and Olympic just after noon today. As she described it, the driver came at the rider flailing his arms, while the cyclist yelled at his attacker.

The woman said other people appeared to be calling 911 to report the attack.

Let’s be very clear.

No matter what took place between the two parties to cause the conflict, the motorist committed a crime by striking the rider — as one cop explained to me in a similar case, the driver was at fault as soon as he left his vehicle. He can, and should, be prosecuted if he and his victim can be identified.

This is also would appear to be a perfect case for LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows bicyclists to sue motorists or others who threaten or attack them while riding. The ordinance allows victims to collect three times actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher; it also allows for the payment of full legal fees to encourage lawyers to take a case that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem with the ordinance has always been that it can be difficult to gather the witnesses or other evidence necessary to prove the case. But in this case, it took place in front of multiple witnesses, at least one of whom has already come forward.

If anyone has more information — or if you were the rider involved — contact me; you can find me email address on the About page.

And let’s not forget that this is exactly where an innovative floating bike lane was proposed to reduce or eliminate conflicts between cyclists and drivers — without the loss of a single traffic lane or parking spot.

Yet the lane was vetoed by Westside City Councilmember Paul Koretz at the urging of wealthy homeowners, even though it would have zero negative impact on the Boulevard and the surrounding area.

And would move cyclists out of the way of impatient, and too often, angry drivers, helping to avoid incidents like this.

14-year old bike rider fatally shot, a painful email from the family of a fallen cyclist, and I beg shamelessly

Before we start, several people have asked me lately how they can support the new BikinginLA.

The easy answer is just keep reading, and keep coming back. And keep sending in those news tips, whether in the comments or through the email address on the About page.

But if anyone wants to contribute financially to help support me and my work here, you’ll now find a Donate page on the links at the top of this page. There will be more options for donations, sponsorships and advertising soon, but for the time being, you can contribute directly to my PayPal account.

Please don’t feel pressured or any obligation. Especially this time of year, there are so many demands on your wallet, and so many higher priorities.

But any contribution, in any amount, is greatly appreciate.

………

One more bike rider is dead. Yet another young woman will never grow up.

This time, it wasn’t the result of a careless or distracted driver, or even scofflaw cyclist. It was a different kind of violence on our streets that took the life of 14-year old Alicia Gomez, gunned down as she rode her bike in Compton.

Police have described her as a known gang member, and characterized the shooting that took her life at the corner of Elm and Alameda streets as gang-related.

That’s exactly where most of us stop paying attention. Another gang shooting, another homicide in Compton, where 213 people, innocent and otherwise, have been murdered in the city since 2007.

She may have died a gang member, but she also died as one of us.

And more importantly, she died a young woman barely in her teens, who will never be a day older. Another life lost to the violence we continue to tolerate on our streets.

Let’s pray that she’s the last one.

………

Every bicycling death is tragic. Every fatality leaves a heartrending hole in the lives of his or her loves ones, and in our world.

Yet some seem to be particularly haunting, a metaphorical ghost bike within our own hearts, remaining long after the news has faded.

For me, the needless death of Donnie McCluskey is one of those.

Maybe it’s because it could have happened to any one of us. He was nothing more than collateral damage in a wreck between a drunk driver and a red light running minivan operator; after the initial impact, the van spun out of control and smashed into McCluskey as he waited at the red light.

If he’d run the light, as so many accuse us all of doing, he might be alive today.

Or maybe it’s because of the online conversations I’ve had with his family from time to time, as they’ve shared the latest updates on his case, or just the pain of his loss in the year and a half since he was taken from them.

It makes me feel like I’ve lost a friend I never knew.

Over the weekend, I heard from his sister Pattie McCluskey-Andre once again, this time to report the final disposition of the case against the driver responsible for Donnie’s death.

With her permission, I’ll share it with you.

Dear Ted,

Re: Donny McCluskey, bicyclist, killed April 18, 2012 in Rancho Mirage while waiting for the light to green.

Final day in court was December 13, 2013.  The DA never lowered or altered the original charges (not sure how much our participation from the start helped). Much to our collective relief, the driver and the judge all seemed to understand the devastation caused by this accident.  My brother was honored with a judge who appreciated that this was a death that was indeed avoidable and gave Donny his day in court.

The driver had lost 80 pounds since the accident; he spoke of his nightmares and his thoughts of Donny every time he entered an intersection. The driver cried during the entire sentencing. His remorse was so complete that he stated that he wished daily that it had been him instead of Donny who was killed.

The judge suspended his driver’s license for a year, placed him on probation for 3 years. He was not given jail time secondary to our family’s request that he perform community service instead, which was also given to him.

Ultimately, there is no closure but the ability to go forward and pay it forward. Drivers need to be held accountable whenever they are negligent and dangerous causing the death of another human. I truly feel the driver in this accident placed a deeper punishment on himself then we would ever impose. My family offers forgiveness to this man so he can forgive himself.

RIP Dear Brother, we love you, we miss you everyday and we will continue to tell your story.

Again, thank you for being the voice of cyclists,

Patti

There’s a lot of pain and a surprising amount of compassion in that email. Let’s hope, now that the case is settled, the family can finally find peace.

And this holiday season, they can remember the joy they shared with him, instead of their loss.

………

News of this weekend’s upcoming Route 66 ride promoted Alan Thompson to send word that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has been working with the Adventure Cycling Association, Caltrans and local advocacy groups to develop a SoCal leg of the planned Bike Route 66. It will follow the path of the legendary highway, giving riders a route from Chicago to LA.

I wonder if my wife would let me ride that one.

………

LA County Sheriff’s deputies have now been involved in the deaths of three people in the last week.

………

Turns out a new Calgary cycle track not only boosts ridership, but improves the flow of motor vehicle traffic, as well.

………

Finally, an Aussie cyclist responds to a roadway dispute by reaching into the driver’s car and riding off with his keys. A Menlo Park rider brings home the family Christmas tree by bike. And there may be a reason the next cyclist you see is smiling and moaning uncontrollably; then again, it’s not exactly a new idea.

 

A close call in DTLA, a biking Hollywood producer gets left off the bus, and get your kicks on Route 66 next Sunday

It could have been so much worse.

Friday night, a high speed chase ended with a dramatic crash at Olympic Blvd and Los Angeles Street in Downtown LA, followed by police fatally shooting the driver for reasons that have yet to be explained.

And all just steps away from a group of bike riders who were nearly collateral damage in the crash, and had a front row seat for everything that followed.

Take a look at the link below — for some reason, I can’t embed the video — and watch carefully just above the geyser where the other car takes out the fire hydrant. (Hint — click on the full screen option for a better view.) You’ll see three bike riders who can count their lucky stars as both cars spun out on either side of them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbDwKspYgiU

Looks like some of the angels this city is named for were looking out for them. Ether that, or they need to buy some lottery tickets for Tuesday’s drawing, because they had to be some of the luckiest people on two wheels.

Thanks to Matt Ruscigno for the heads-up, who says a friend of his was one of those lucky riders.

………

You might be surprised who rides a bike. Or takes it on the bus.

When they can, that is.

It’s been a long-time problem that bike riders can be left stranded on the streets when the two bike racks on the front of Metro buses are full — including a woman who was forced to ride home alone at 4 am on New Years morning a few years back when she wasn’t allowed to take her bike on the bus.

TV producer Michael Binkow gets it.

Despite achieving a level of success that allows many of his peers to travel by limo or luxury car, he chooses to ride his bike to worksites throughout the city. And combine that journey with taking a Metro bus to get through some of the more challenging sections.

Except when full racks leave him stranded on the side of the road, waiting for bus after bus to pass by until one finally has an open space for his bike — even when there’s room for both him and his bike inside.

Here’s an email he sent to Metro on Friday, and cc’d me on.

Dear Ms. Johnson,

My name is Michael Binkow and I’ve been a resident of Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks) for the past 32 years.  I’m a television producer (“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” “1 vs 100,” “Container Wars,” etc.) so my work takes me to various parts of the city.  I’m now in Santa Monica and riding a bike to and from work most everyday.  With (the end of) Daylight Savings Time and ongoing construction on northbound Sepulveda Boulevard through the Sepulveda pass (and no bike lane), I’ve been riding the bus for 3 miles from Church Lane or Getty Center to Skirball Center to continue my ride home.

Here’s the issue—if there are two bicycles on the front of a bus, I’m stuck.  Drivers are “not allowed” to let me on and sometimes I must wait for several buses to pass before there’s an open slot.  By then of course it’s dark and even more dangerous to ride.  I’ve heard it’s a liability issue with potential injury to other passengers.  This is just fair.  One possible solution:  leave it to the driver’s discretion.  If there’s room on the bus and the bike won’t affect other passengers, let us on.  If the bus is too crowded and there’s not enough room, so be it, we’ll have to wait for the next one.

It’s obviously frustrating that those of us trying to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce auto traffic and take advantage of public transportation are discriminated against.

Please do what you can to revise this current policy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Michael Binkow

………

My friends Jon Riddle and Sarah Amelar, authors of Where To Bike Los Angeles, have been hosting a series of rides around the city and nearby environs in conjunction with the LACBC.

Their next ride will explore the legendary Route 66 that reaches its terminus right here in the City of Angels. Or more precisely, in Santa Monica, despite what the song says.

Route 66

When:   Sunday, December 22, 2013

Time:    Meet at 8:30am; ride at 9:00am

Where: Union Station in downtown Los Angeles

Meet in the garden courtyard on the south side of the main concourse of Union Station. Here’s the map.

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, Main Street of America, or the Will Rogers Highway, is one of our Nation’s first interstate highways. Opened in 1926, it rolls west from Chicago. In our end of the country, it passes through Azusa, Pasadena, downtown L. A., and on to its unofficial terminus at the Pier in Santa Monica. On this tour, we’ll experience a bit of this historic highway by following a bike friendly version of Route 66 (the current official route is on the 101 Freeway from downtown to Hollywood) from Union Station west on Sunset Boulevard, then Fountain Avenue, then Santa Monica Boulevard and a few side streets to the ocean. Along the way, we’ll ride down holiday decorated streets in Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. After a short break at the Pier, we’ll meander back to downtown on Main Street, Abbot Kenney, Venice Boulevard, and another Main Street.

Ride Length: 40 miles.

Ride Duration: Approximately 4-5 hours, including stops.

Difficulty: Recommended for intermediate-level riders, aged 16 and up. We’ll be riding on city streets, sometimes in bike lanes and sometimes on bike friendly streets marked with sharrows. Bottom line: be prepared for riding around automobiles on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Hardly any climbing.

Weather Policy: Torrential rain, snow, earthquake or fierce wind cancels the outing. Otherwise, we ride.

What to bring: A road-worthy bike, extra inner tubes, a patch kit and pump, plenty of drinking water, a pocket snack (such as an energy bar, banana or trail mix), a helmet, proper clothing, and money for refueling at random espresso bars and for post-ride refreshments.

Parking: There’s plenty of inexpensive parking not far from Union Station in Chinatown. Or, save gas and parking coin—ride a Metro train or a bus to the station.

RSVP: Strongly encouraged, via wheretobikela@gmail.com, so we can send you last-minute advisories, particularly about weather.

………

Finally, there’s still time to get into the spirit of the season — assuming you read this before Sunday evening — with the LACBC’s annual Larchmont Holiday Caroling Bike Ride.

 

Report from an active BAC Bikeways committee, and a long list of pre-holiday bike links

Sometimes pressing issues force me to set aside things I intend to discuss here.

That’s what happened over the last few weeks, as I’ve been meaning to post a link to the minutes of last month’s meeting of the Bikeways Subcommittee of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee.

As you’ll see, the committee — and the BAC as a whole — is doing great work on some of the most pressing issues facing LA cyclists.

………

LADOT’s People St prepares to work with the community to transform the streets of LA. The CEO of DTLA’s Union Rescue Mission rides his way back from a heart attack and kidney transplant. Metro to consider better bike and car parking in North Hollywood. A homeless Rosemead man teams with an off-duty anesthesiologist to save the life of a fallen bike rider; remember that the next time you’re tempted to look down on the tattered guy huddled in a doorway. CLR Effect says pay attention out there after coming on an injured bike rider near a school. A Santa Monica letter writer complains about a lack of enforcement against bike riders, but neglects to consider all those scofflaw motorists. The Acorn asks that the sheriff’s deputy who killed cyclist Milton Olin, a 16-year veteran, be investigated for distracted driving.

Twenty Riverside students get new bikes. Dates are set for next April’s 30th Redland’s Bicycle Classic. A Big Bear bicycling group invests $35,000 in local bike projects. Huntington Beach’s new mayor has supported bike paths since he was eight years old; let’s hope he still does. San Diego city council approves a $312 million bike plan. A San Diego summit considers how to wean the North County area off auto-dependency. San Diego State students are threatened with having their bikes impounded if they don’t use the new bike racks. The Borrego Springs Century rolls this weekend. Now that’s more like it, as a Santa Barbara driver faces murder charge for a drunken hit-and-run after his victim dies. A Bakersfield driver faces a vehicular manslaughter charge for killing a cyclist while legally using a hands-free device. Small town San Luis Obispo ranks as the 7th most dangerous city for California cyclists. A former Google engineer wants to put turn signals on your hands. How to use your bike for holiday shopping. Ride 2 Recovery brings a greater sense of normalcy for a wounded Stockton Iraq war vet.

Cyclists send a message to motorists in a nice new video; basically, that message is please don’t kill me or someone I love. Physical activity is the new wonder drug. Bike lanes are good for small businesses; someone should tell that to the anti-bike merchants on Westwood and Lankershim. The Bike League is seeking a new Equity Advisory Council member. A tongue-in-cheek look at why you should never try biking to work. NPR looks at efforts to make bike share more accessible. A look at America’s top 10 protected bike lanes; not surprising, Los Angeles — which recently got its first sort-of protected bike lane in the 2nd Street tunnel — doesn’t make the list. Bike Portland examines when it’s legal to ride side-by-side in Oregon; it’s legal here in California, though many some misinformed cops may disagree. Long Beach biking expats The Path Less Pedaled looks at Oregon’s Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway. Seattle’s new mayor could mean less support for a new bike plan. My hometown, which has a real winter, holds a Winter Bike to Work Day; Los Angeles, which doesn’t, doesn’t. An over-privileged 16-year old Texas boy gets probation for killing four people while driving dunk at three times the legal limit; thanks to Austin Brown for the heads-up. Big hearted Nebraska driver goes bowling after running down a bike rider; no word on what he scored. The family of a fallen Chicago cyclist hopes to crowd source his funeral expenses. Ohio driver fesses up to punching a bike rider in a road rage incident; it helps when the chief prosecutor is a cyclist too. DC Streetsblog asks the Associated Press to nix the term accident in their style book. A different kind of scofflaw cyclist, as a DC rider stencils bike-positive messages on bike lanes. Cranky VA letter writer takes issue with the idea that bike lanes improve livability. Alabama foster kids get 502 new bikes for the holidays.

Trek hopes the Schlecks can bounce back. A BC writer just doesn’t get the concept of sharrows; problem is, he’s not far off. As expected, Specialized kisses and makes up with the Canadian bike shop they tried to run out of business; that means they’re not overly litigious bullies anymore, right? A Canadian cyclist videos his own face plant after a failed stunt, leading to a breakthrough in facial surgery. Avid cyclists are going extinct, and maybe that’s a good thing. UK study show’s only a tiny fraction of cycling collisions resulted from bad behavior by the bike rider. Look, no matter what they did to piss you off, don’t punch out drivers — or moms in front of their kids. Newly minted Sir Bradley Wiggins is humbled by the honor. The Beeb asks if new technology could make cyclists safer; thanks to Victor Bank for the link. Unconscious Norwegian cyclist is saved when a passing snowplow operator sees the handlebars of his bike poking out from a snow bank. A new Bangkok bike promises to clean the air while you ride; now we only need a few hundred billion of them and enough people to ride ‘em.

Finally, great holiday ad from Jamis bikes, aside from the gratuitous sex object. And don’t try this at home. Or especially not this.

Update — 37-year old cyclist critically injured in Westside dooring

Word is just coming in that a bike rider suffered severe injuries after being doored last night.

According to an email from LAPD West Traffic Division bike liaison Sgt. Laszlo Sandor, a 37-year old bicyclist was riding south on Barrington near the intersection with San Vicente in Brentwood at 6:46 pm when he came in contact with the open door of a parked car.

No word on whether the victim, whose name was withheld due to privacy restrictions, was hit by the door as it was opened, or if he collided with it after the door was opened in front of him.

Barrington is a narrow, two-lane street on both sides of San Vicente, with substandard-width lanes that legally allow riders to take the lane in order to avoid the door zone. However, heavy traffic and impatient drivers encourage many cyclists to ride in the door zone, where passing cars can leave them trapped with nowhere to go if one of those doors should open.

Sgt. Sandor reports the rider is in critical condition and was in surgery last night for head trauma.

No helmet was found at the scene. This is exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed impact helmets are designed to protect against; however, there’s no way of knowing whether one could have made a difference in this case.

He was also using a headlamp and tail light, so he should have been visible to the driver.

And no word yet on whether the driver was cited. Drivers are almost always at fault in a dooring; CVC 22517 clearly requires that drivers only open car doors when it is safe to do so.

22517.  No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Head trauma is never a good thing; if not life-threatening, it can often be life-changing, sometimes permanently. So prayers, good thoughts and/or best wishes for the rider are definitely in order.

More details when and if they become available.

Update: I was just forwarded the following email, which went out as part of a community crime report from a Brentwood-area homeowner’s association. 

Unfortunately, an accident occurred last night on the 600 block of Barrington involving a cyclist and a vehicle. My partner and I were the first responders at scene.  The severity of the accident moves me to encourage all cyclists to PLEASE wear helmets — even for short trips. The cyclist is in critical condition and sadly, it doesn’t look good for him. 

A man sitting in his parked vehicle opened his door just as the cyclist passed and the cyclist clipped the door sending him head first onto the pavement. Does everyone know that it is the driver’s responsibility to look behind them before opening their door? The driver was incredibly shaken and upset and did not realize, until the traffic officers gently explained to him, that he was the party likely at fault. 

As our community continues to increasingly utilize cycling as a mode of transportation, please be ever aware of cyclists maneuvering throughout the traffic. And cyclists please wear your helmets and follow the rules of the road—all the rules of the road—for your own safety and protection.

Thank you. My apologies go out to the Brentwood Homeowner’s Association board and members for missing the meeting that I was en route to when we came upon the accident. I’ll make every effort to be at the next one….

Thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up.

Update 2: I’ve received confirmation that the victim, identified as Julio Martinez, died sometime after he was hospitalized; I haven’t been able to confirm the date. His brother, who worked with Martinez at the Belwood Bakery on Barrington Court, took his body back to their hometown in Mexico. 

This is the 88th bicycling fatality in Southern California in 2013, and the 39th in Los Angeles County. It’s also the 18th in the City of Los Angeles — a 360% increase over 2012.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Julio Martinez and all his family and loved ones.

BOLO Alert — bike stolen in front of HMS Bounty in Koreatown

Kapoor Stolen Bike

This is the bike that was stolen.

Sometimes even a U-lock isn’t enough.

The LAPD recently reported that bike theft is one of the few crimes that continues to increase in the face of falling crime rates in Los Angeles — as much as 200% in some areas in recent years.

Something Daveed Kapoor found out the hard way, despite doing everything right to secure his bike.

I’ll let him tell the story.

Monday night at 6:30pm I locked my bike to the LADOT inverted U-rack on Wilshire just west of Kenmore, as indicated in the photo. It was dark but in front of the Gaylord Apts entrance with fair amount of foot traffic, didn’t seem risky at all. I used my Kryptonite Evolution U-lock locked through the frame and rear wheel. This is my everyday city bike that I use to get everywhere all over LA.  For 3 years I’ve been u-locking it on Central LA streets and never had a problem. I weigh 210 pounds, I kept breaking my wheels so a couple years ago I bought Aerospoke wheels, which are super heavy but don’t need to be trued. The wheels are attractive to thieves, so I use Pitlock locking skewers, which take are very theft proof, but can be removed using vice grips or a hammer and a wedge, and a lot of time. But in 3 years biking in LA almost every day I have never had a problem before.

When I came out of the Bounty two hours later at 8:30 pm, all that was left was my sawed-through U-lock in two pieces. Looks like a clean cut, I suspect they used an angle grinder. I’m guessing it was one of these van bike theft units that parks the van in front of the bike, cuts the lock off and quickly throws the bike in the van. But who knows…

Where the bike was stolen; even a busy, well-lit street isn't always enough.

Where the bike was stolen; even a busy, well-lit street isn’t always enough.

He offers a good description of the bike and accessories, which should make it easy to identify if the thief tries to sell it intact or brings it into a bike shop.

  • Bike was black 2010 GT Tachyon 3.0, 24 speed
  • Pitlock Skewers
  • Schwalbe Marathon Tires
  • Black Aerospoke Wheels
  • ISM Adamo Race Saddle
  • Rear Rack w/ Linus ‘Sac’ Saddle Bag – with Black Fiji Sweater + Oakley Clear Industrial M Frame
  • Glasses inside the bag
  • 2 Gotham Industries Defender Bike Lights locked to the handlebar
  • Light & Motion Vis 180 Rear Light
  • Green Giro Hex Helmet was locked thru the U lock, taken as well

Kapoor estimates the total value of the bike and accessories as around $2000, making the crime Grand Theft. And he notes that police were very polite and took the crime seriously when he filed his report, something that doesn’t always happen.

If you see the bike or find it listed for sale, call the LAPD at 877/ASK-LAPD (877/275-5273). Or if you see a bike theft in progress, call 911.

Meanwhile, the LAPD and local cycling organization CICLE offer advise on how to protect your bike from theft.

And homeowner’s and renter’s will usually cover your bike in the event of theft, even when you’re away from home. So check with your agent and make sure you’re covered — and that your deductible is low enough to to make it worth filing a claim if your bike is stolen.

Because as this case shows, you can do everything right and still lose your bike to a determined thief.

 

Rail-to-River comes to South LA, important meeting in BH, and e-bikes to help the recently homeless

We finally made it.

As you can see, things look a little different around here.

Which is a clear sign this site finally made the transition to a new server, the first step in transitioning to an advertising supported bike news site.

There are still some bugs to work out, including the fact that links from the old site haven’t followed over to the new one yet, and visitors to the old site aren’t automatically transferred over here.

Meanwhile, the design is just temporary, an attempt to replicate the old look and feel while we work on the cool new site to come.

So bear with me while we work out the bugs, and build a whole new bigger and better BikinginLA.

And thanks to everyone for the kind words of support in recent days.

I’m definitely feeling the love.

………

Big news from LA’s undiscovered country south of the I-10.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has joined with fellow Supervisor Gloria Molina to propose an 8.3 mile rail-to-trail conversion through the heart of South LA.

The proposed Rail-to-River trail would follow Slauson Avenue east from the future Crenshaw/LAX rail station in Inglewood to just north of Washington Blvd near the LA River. Which means that riders will finally have a direct off-road route from the LA River bike path most the way to the beach.

More importantly, bike riders — and potential riders — in one of LA’s most underserved areas will have a safe place to develop their skills and build a healthier lifestyle. And the county will turn an underutilized eyesore into an asset that could help revitalize the area.

What’s not to like?

The first meeting to discuss the trail will take place this Wednesday at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School, 644 E. 56th Street in Los Angeles.

Big thanks to Ridley-Thomas and Molina for bringing this to the table.

………

The Cyclist Down Facebook page reports yet another hit-and-run in Downtown LA.

A Cyclist was injured in a Hit & Run early Sunday morning in DTLA.

The cyclist suffered injuries to his wrist and a broke his nose in two places.

The incident occurred around 1 am near 4th & Hill. Cyclist was knock unconscious and does not remember the incident and was transported to a local hospital.

No further details available at this time.

Hopefully, we can find the jerk who left yet another rider bleeding in the street.

In case you have noticed, I effing hate hit-and-run drivers.

………

The Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills — upgraded from Black Hole thanks to some nice bike lanes on Burton Way — will host a meeting tonight to discuss the planned reconstruction of Santa Monica Boulevard through the city, including the possibility of bike lanes to fill the gap between lanes in Century City and West Hollywood.

The meeting will take place in the Municipal Gallery on the second floor of the Beverly Hills City Hall, 455 North Rexford Drive starting at 6 pm. If you ride through the city — or would if you felt safer on the streets — you owe it to yourself to be there.

Or at least voice your opinion on the comment page.

………

I’m not one to simply repost a press release.

In fact, most never make it any further than the trash bin on my email account.

But I’m going to make an exception this one time. Because not only is the piece unusually well-written, but it tells the tale of a young man determined to make a difference.

And we could use a lot more like him.

bikeshareLOS ANGELES, CA, December 9, 2013 – Formerly homeless residents at two Los Angeles supportive housing projects will soon have wheels to get to jobs and job training, school, interviews, medical appointments, sober meetings, and gatherings with loved ones – courtesy of a teenage Eagle Scout candidate and competitive bicyclist.

Diego Binatena of Boy Scout Troop 927 in Westchester learned that the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), a bicycle advocacy group, was looking for a good home for 20 electric pedal-assist bicycles that were sitting unassembled in a warehouse due to the closure of a bicycle company.

“A bicycle is a terrible thing to waste,” joked Binatena, a Scout since first grade, a bicycle commuter and national-level competitive racing cyclist. More seriously, said the Playa del Rey teenager, he created “Cycle Forward BIKESHARE” as his Eagle Scout Service Project to put the LACBC bicycles to use as transportation for formerly homeless youth and men trying to improve their lives.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Binatena is aware of the effects of poverty and homelessness. His mother, Julie Lansing, is the administrator of a rent-subsidy housing program for low-income families and chronically homeless adults.

“Our dinner table conversations were often about the problems of homelessness and how our family could help with solutions,” said Binatena. “My mother had us participate in food drives, adopt-a-family, and fundraising events. She taught us that everyone who cares about people in need can make a difference in their lives.”

Binatena found his partners and beneficiaries for BIKESHARE at two Los Angeles transitional housing agencies: Jovenes, Inc, in Boyle Heights and PATH La Kretz Villas in East Hollywood. Jovenes focuses on helping at-risk men ages 18-25 years and PATH provides intensive supporting housing for 48 residents.

“Moving around the city is a tremendous challenge for our residents, and this bike sharing program will make a real difference,” said Eric Hubbard, Development Director for Jovenes, Inc.

Be Prepared

Binatena launched his project in September and quickly learned that for his project, the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” required hard work, money and friends. After consulting with bicycle advocates, he set a $25,000 budget for the project. Beyond the bikes donated by the LACBC, valued at $1,000 each, he needed bike racks, safety equipment, locks, commuter bags, and safe-cycling program materials.

With a polished Power Point presentation in hand, Binatena got agenda time at the Westchester/Playa and East Hollywood Neighborhood Councils and the Westchester Rotary Club. He left all three meetings with checks in his pocket. He got donations from the South Bay and Los Angeles Wheelmen Bicycle Clubs and the Southern California Gas Co. He successfully solicited bicycle accessories, and safety equipment from KHS Bicycles, Collision & Injury Dynamics, and Planet Bike. He recruited fellow Scouts and friends to assemble the bicycles and racks.

Three months after project launch, Binatena exceeded his goal: He collected $2,700 in donations and $2,300 worth of bicycle equipment.

“I was not prepared for such a positive reaction from everyone,” he said.

Hard work and persistence are not new to Binatena. Bicycle racing requires planning, preparation and focus – plus countless hours on the bike in training to compete at a high level, he said. After winning the 2013 California Junior State Road Championships and other elite races, he was recruited by the USA Cycling National Team to race in Europe against the best in the world.

When Cycle Forward “BIKESHARE” is rolling at PATH and Jovenes, Binatena will present his service project to the Eagle Board of Review to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.

………

Finally, maybe you missed the uproar over the weekend about the overly-litigious gang that couldn’t shoot straight, as Specialized threatened to sue a small Canadian bike shop that dared to use the name Roubaix, which Specialized claims to own but really doesn’t.

No offense to local bike shops who carry the brand. But it’s going to be a long time before I’ll be willing to buy anything bearing the Specialized S. Evidently, I’m not the only one.

And no, an apology won’t be enough.

Not this time.

Update — bike rider killed in wreck with Sheriff’s patrol car

Word is just coming in that yet another bike rider has lost his life on Mulholland.

And this time, the police may be fault.

According to KCBS-2, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding in the bike lane on the 22000 block of Mulholland Highway in Calabasas around 1:05 pm today when he was hit by a Sheriff’s Department patrol car. Calabasas Patch reports that both the victim and the patrol car were traveling in the same direction, suggesting the rider was struck from behind.

The sheriff’s deputy behind the wheel was reportedly on routine patrol and not responding to an emergency call; a sheriff’s spokesman said speed was not a factor in the crash.

However, the driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor lacerations to his face and eye due to broken class from the impact, suggesting a significant impact. No explanation was given for why the driver apparently entered the bike lane to hit the cyclist; drug or alcohol use was not suspected as a factor.

This is the 82nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 34th in Los Angeles County; that compares with 71 in the seven-county SoCal region and 21 in LA County this time last year. And this was at least the fourth cyclist to lose his life on Mulholland Hwy in the last four years.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to Carlos Morales, Danny Gamboa, sonofabike and John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Update: KABC-7 has just identified the victim as 65-year old Milton Everett Olin Jr. of Woodland Hills; a well-known attorney in the entertainment field. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information is urged to call the LASD Malibu/Lost Hills Station at 818/878-1808.

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Star reports that Olin’s bike somehow hit the patrol car, rather than the other way around — despite obvious damage to the car’s windshield. The LA Times confirms the car’s windshield was broken, making it virtually impossible for the rider to have struck the car if they were both traveling in the same direction. 

Update 2: KTLA-5 reports Olin and the patrol car were both traveling east on Mulholland Hwy when the collision occurred.

The Times fills in Olin’s work history, noting that he was Chief Operating Officer at Napster from 2000 to 2002, at a time when the file-sharing service was under fire from the music industry for enabling piracy, and forced to liquidate in bankruptcy court. 

He’d been a practicing attorney since graduating from UCLA Law School in 1975, and worked as vice president of business development for A&M Records — which was chiefly responsible for the lawsuit that led to Napster’s bankruptcy. He also served briefly as the senior vice president for business development for Firstlook.com before joining Napster.

The Star has corrected their story that repeatedly blamed the victim for the collision in a later report, although they’ve left the initial biased story online; thanks to Lois for the tip.

Update 3: Too often, we never learn anything about the victims of bicycling collisions, or the pain their loss leaves behind. But in this case, both the LA Times and KNBC-4 fill in the blanks with nice reports on a man who loved his family and riding his bike.

Although it does not build more confidence in the investigation to know the lead investigator in the case took yesterday off. Or that I’m told the CHP was willing to conduct an independent investigation, but wasn’t asked.

Meanwhile, a reader forwards an email exchange with the editor of the Ventura County Star in which he complained about the bias in the initial report. And received a very nice response promising to look into the matter — which resulted in the updated report correcting the misinformation, as well as changes to the initial story.

Too often, complaints like that get ignored. So let’s give credit to VC Star editor John Moore for doing the right thing.

Update 4: The LA Sheriff’s Department offers an apology, but doesn’t accept responsibility.

Update 5: The Daily News identifies the Sheriff’s Deputy who killed Olin on as a 16-year veteran from the Malibu/Lost Hills station, despite a lack of confirmation from the department. The collision is still under investigation; two weeks later, investigators still haven’t spoken to all the witnesses. 

Update: Bike rider killed in Pacoima train collision; eighth SoCal train victim this year

Eighty-one. And eight.

That’s how many bike riders have lost their lives in what has turned out to be a horrible year for SoCal cyclists. And how many of those riders have died as a result of train collisions.

According to the LA Times, a male bike rider was hit and hilled by a Metrolink train in Pacoima this afternoon. The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on Van Nuys Blvd when he attempted to cross the railroad tracks just north of San Fernando Road around 3:50 pm.

The paper reports he apparently tried to beat the train, despite the fact that the warning gates had already been lowered. He was struck by the 218 train on its way to Union Station in Downtown LA, and pronounced dead at the scene.

With this death, nearly 10% of the fatalities involving Southern California bike riders have been the result of train collisions — the easiest type of collision to avoid. All you have to do is stay off the tracks when there’s a train coming.

Unlike motor vehicles. trains are restricted to a specific pathway, and can’t vary their route in any way. And they have warning systems to let you know when they’re coming; all you have to do is squeeze on the brakes.

At least three of those eight deaths resulted from riders attempting to beat the train or ride around the warning gates. Which makes me wonder if they were truly attempting to beat the gates, or if at least some might have been fixie riders forced to ride through because they lacked the skill to stop in time.

Unfortunately, we may never know, since none of the reports identify the type of bike the victim was riding.

But it’s a question worth asking as we struggle to understand why so many riders have died in a type of collision that’s so easy to avoid.

This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 33rd in LA County. This is also the 14th rider to lose his life in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year, three time the average for the city.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the victim, identified only as a 30-year old Hispanic man, was riding west on Van Nuys at the time of the collision. 

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

Update 2: Over two weeks later, there’s still no ID on the victim. He is described as a Hispanic man over 21 years old, about 5’2” and 144 pounds, with brown eyes and a black Mohawk, and a red stud earring in one ear. Anyone with information is urged to call coroner’s investigator Daniel Machian at 323-343-0754 or the coroner investigations division at 323-343-0714.

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