Morning Links: The Times looks at rising bike hit-and-run rates; and the year’s most inspirational video

You already knew hit-and-runs were a problem for cyclists.

But maybe none of us realized just how bad it’s become.

According to the LA Times, overall injury and fatal hit-and-run rates have actually declined since 2000. Except for those involving bike riders, which have increased a whopping 42% since then.

It’s easy to lay blame for the increase on a rising rate of bicycling over the same period, which has grown 61% since the turn of the century, according to a recent report from the League of American Bicyclists. But the fact that overall rates have gone down while bike-involved hit-and-runs have gone up just raises the question of why so many drivers think it’s okay to leave a bike rider bleeding in the street.

Then again, maybe it’s just that a collision with a bike rider is less likely to leave the driver’s car too damaged to flee than a wreck with another motor vehicle.

Regardless of the reason, nothing will change until the law is changed to make the penalties for hit-and-run greater than the potential reward for running away.

And that won’t happen until someone can get it through our out-of-touch governor’s head that hit-and-run is a serious — and deadly — problem.

Especially for those of us who aren’t protected by a couple tons of glass and steel.

………

The Times piece also notes that an overwhelming 80% of all hit-and-runs go unsolved. And only half of the cases that do get solved result in a conviction.

In other words, drivers have a 90% chance of getting away with it if they hit the gas instead of the brake after a collision. No wonder hit-and-run remains at epidemic proportions.

In addition, the story profiles some of the victims of fleeing drivers — at least, the ones still able to tell their own story, including Paul Livingston, whose story was told here last June.

There’s a great interactive map, as well, that drives home the obscene number of bike-involved hit-and-runs every year, and where you need to be on the lookout for fleeing drivers. Including Long Beach, Santa Monica, DTLA, Van Nuys and North Hollywood — in other words, the places where you’re most likely to find people on bikes.

And the paper offers a video interview with Finish the Ride’s Damian Kevitt, who barely survived the gruesome hit-and-run that took his leg.

Then again, it’s not just an LA problem, as a Florida paper asks what kind of driver doesn’t stop after hitting someone.

Or more to point, what kind of pond-sucking scum would even consider it?

………

No surprise, as prosecutors have declined to press charges against the South LA bike rider allegedly beaten by cops while being held down after a brief pursuit.

Police had reportedly ordered Clinton Alford to stop while he was riding his bike on the sidewalk along Avalon Blvd, but he kept going because he says they failed to identify themselves as police officers. Then he ran when someone grabbed his bike from behind, which lead to the alleged beating.

Based on the description of events, though, the police appeared to lack probable cause to make the stop, since sidewalk riding is legal in Los Angeles. Which makes everything that followed, including alleged evidence of drug possession and accusations of resisting arrest, inadmissible in court.

Never mind that filing charges would stand in the way of reaching a settlement with the city over the beating.

………

Unbelievable. A Paso Robles cyclist is dead and her riding partner severely injured because the jerk behind the wheel dropped his effing cell phone and bent down to pick it up. Then had to swerve to avoid the stopped car ahead of him, slamming into the riders in the process.

Never mind that using a hand-held phone while driving is illegal in California.

Or that taking your eyes off the road to pick it up is idiotic.

………

Local

CicLAvia offers a narrative guide to Sunday’s event (pdf) from the real voices of South LA.

An Aussie travel writer takes a 32-mile bike tour of LA in — gasp! — a single day.

West Hills’ Spoke N’ Wheel Bicycles bounces back after a summer fire nearly put it out of business.

An important bike route through the UCLA campus is needlessly blocked by construction. And Porta Potties.

Santa Monica sees a dramatic increase in bicycling since 2000, nearly six times the national growth in cycling. And yes, this story is where I got that stat about the 61% increase in bike riding nationwide.

Riding for a great cause. The Midnight Ridazz annual All City Toy Ride takes place on Friday, December 9th. Thanks to James Hawkes for the link. 

The Eastside Bike Club is hosting a family-friendly Slow ES Cool — Cypress Park Ride to explore some of LA’s and the San Gabriel Valley’s beautiful sites and diverse eateries on Saturday, December 13th.

 

State

Riverside police plan to offer a $10,000 reward in the hit-and-run death of fallen rider D’Andre Sutherland.

A San Bernardino man is the victim of a bike-by shooting; he’ll survive, but may have trouble walking for awhile.

Evidently, they’re just a bunch of old softies, as a group of Hell’s Angels — yes, the notorious motorcycle gang — buy up all the bikes at a Fresno Walmart and donate them for needy kids. And not for the first time.

San Jose prepares to ban all bikes on the sidewalk because of a few overly aggressive riders.

The popular East Bay Bike Party has been cancelled for December due to out-of-control and disrespectful riders.

 

National

Evidently, bad research never dies, as the press continues to report on that highly flawed Governors’ report on bike safety.

Rails to Trails offers 10 great bike movie moments.

Your next GoPro could offer overhead shots, as the company is reportedly developing its own line of drones.

A Maine man admits to fatally running down his bike riding friend while driving drunk, after initially claiming he found him lying in a ditch.

New York City cuts the speed limit in Central Park to reign in all those dangerous bikes.

New York police use faulty, or perhaps made-up, data to justify a crackdown on bike riders.

 

International

A Vancouver writer says motorists must take more responsibility for keeping cyclists and pedestrians safe.

An Ottawa paper goes for major click bait, asking their readers whether an idiot on a bike or a moron behind the wheel is worse. How about the idiot editor who approved the piece?

A new association of the top pro cycling teams plans to bring a little more rationality to the sport.

A London writer offers up five mistakes that cancel out even the best bike lights.

London’s mayor Boris considers holding open streets events in the city after seeing similar events in Jakarta. If he thinks that’s impressive, we should invite him to Sunday’s CicLAvia.

Bike cams are being accepted as evidence in cases against Scottish motorists.

An American man and his 12-year old son tour Amsterdam by bike, including the Red Light District.

Caught on video: A Polish rider participating in a bikejoring competition — racing with dogs pulling her bike — is tackled by, not 10 Lords a Leaping, but a leaping herd of deer.

A Chengdu, China bike rider invents an air purifier that fits in a very big backpack.

 

Finally…

Florida cyclists connect through Facebook to get a man’s $5,000 Cannondale back before he even knew it was stolen. Lance just can’t keep away from the sport, as he admits to motorpacing BMC’s Tejay van Garderen.

And they must make ‘em tough Down Under, as a 13-year old boy rides his bike back home after being bitten by a shark.

………

One quick bonus video: Michael Eisenberg forwards what may be the most inspirational video you’ll see this year, featuring former race car champ and champion paracyclist Alex Zarnardi, who lost both legs in a car racing collision.

Seriously, if he can get back on a bike, so can I.

And so can you.

 

11 comments

  1. Tom says:

    Spectacularly bad advice in that LA Time article:
    ” … stay in the bicycle lanes where they are available. … Use the sidewalk if necessary ”

    Most cyclists are killed or injured WHILE they are in the bike lane or shoulder … the worst places to be, because you are part of the “road furniture” and mostly ignored by drivers.

    In fact, the Paso Robles death reported in today’s blog stated:
    ” [driver] dropped his effing cell phone and bent down to pick it up. Then had to swerve to avoid the stopped car ahead of him, slamming into the riders in the process.”

    Sounds to me the driver swerved into the shoulder or bike lane, killing the cyclist.

    Last year’s highly publicized death of Milt Olin by a sheriffs deputy also occurred when the deputy swerved into the bike lane.

    Lately, most of our local rides on PCH through Santa Monica & Malibu have been “taking the lane”, and that practice now has the blessing of the region’s LA County Sheriffs, thanks to the hard work of several cycling advocates in the past year.
    Those “take the lane” PCH rides have been spectacularly drama-free and uneventful. The vast majority of drivers see us from a long distance and simply change lanes to go around us.

    Very infrequently some butt-head driver will scream at us, or stand on the horn … but that means they DO SEE us. They’d have to be willfully wanting to commit murder, to run you down.

    • Most of the serious injuries or fatalities for bicycle riders due to collisions with motor vehicles along a major street or highway occur while riding to the side of motor vehicles, in a bike lane, or through a crosswalk because that’s where the vast majority of people ride a bicycle. Very few cyclists ride directly in front of motor vehicles on highways or along major streets.

      Most of the serious injuries or fatalities for motor vehicle occupants occur on major streets while making a left turn or traveling in the through lanes of major streets. The lower speeds for motor vehicles entering or exiting driveways or making a right turn cause much fewer fatalities or serious injuries per collision for motor vehicle occupants.

      To conclude that it is therefore safest to ride a bicycle in the middle of through lanes for motor vehicles on major streets or highways is to assume some sort of aura of invincibility as a bicycle rider that will protect you from getting in a collision with a motor vehicle. You also are indirectly stating that on-street parking is much more likely to get hit by a moving vehicle because drivers are much less likely to see the parked vehicles than the moving vehicles that are directly in front of them.

      One of the five safety principles that the Dutch traffic engineers use is homogeneity of mass, speed and direction. That has proven to be very successful in reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities for bicyclists. Your idea is to throw that principle out the window.

      • Tom says:

        I am not asserting any “aura of invincibility” by taking the lane. I do claim the drivers are more likely to see you, because they are typically more fixated on what’s directly in front of them.

        Having said that, there are circumstances when I would not feel comfortable taking the lane, eg at night on a high speed road, no matter how bright my taillights. People are very bad at judging distances and speeds at night.

        • “I do claim the drivers are more likely to see you, because they are typically more fixated on what’s directly in front of them.”

          Then by that standard of reasoning drivers are much more likely to see what’s traveling in front of them than they are parked vehicles on the side of the road. Therefore, on-street parked vehicles are much more likely to get hit than are objects that are traveling in front of the moving motor vehicles.

          I think its fair to assume that most people know that on-street parked vehicles are much less likely to get hit by moving motor vehicles than are the objects that are traveling down the middle of a moving lane. Its not reasonable to assume that you are much less likely to get hit where most of the movement of motor vehicles is occurring and that the severity of injury will be less at a higher speed collision than if the motor vehicle was traveling at a lower speed such as at driveways and right turns.

  2. The number of residents of Los Angeles who use a bicycle as their primary means of getting to work has risen 95% from 2000 to 2012. This far surpasses the 42% increase in hit-and-runs involving bicyclists. The rate of hit-and-runs per volume of bicycle commuters very likely is less now than it was in 2002.

    Bicycle commuters are only a portion of all bicycle riders on the streets, although its a good indication of the percentage of increase in the overall number of bicycle riders in the streets.

  3. Appie says:

    PC-types may want to stick their heads in the sand, but there is a probable cause for increase in the LA hit-and-run collisions:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/16/local/la-me-unlicensed-20130116
    “Unlicensed drivers in California — the vast majority of whom are illegal immigrants — are nearly three times as likely to cause a fatal crash as licensed drivers, according to a study by the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

    http://laist.com/2013/08/22/lapd_detective_20_20.php
    LA PD detective Felix Padilla:
    ” …half of all car accidents in the city are hit-and-runs,…”
    ” … one of the biggest reasons for hit-and-runs and the lack of witness participation is the high number of undocumented immigrants living in the city. … ”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/08/local/la-me-ff-immigrants-study-20130508
    “… 1 in 3 adults in parts of L.A. are in U.S. illegally, study finds …”
    ” … Countywide, about one in 10 adults is an immigrant who crossed the border illegally … ”

    “Undocumented” is more PC baloney — these are people who broke federal laws to enter the US, and once here, some break even more laws and eventually commit manslaughter.

  4. Census Bureau American Community Household Survey data has a 30% increase in bicycle commuting in the city of Santa Monica between 2011 and 2013.

    The city of Los Angeles bicycle commuting increased 26% for ACS results in that same time period.

    The City of Santa Monica is in the top five cities for the rate of bicycle commuters using ACS results.

    Zip code 90405 has the highest rate of bicycle commuting in Santa Monica at 4.1%, using 5-year ACS average results from 2008 to 2012.

    Canoga Park zip code 91303 (which is right smack in the middle of suburbia in the city of Los Angeles) also had a 4.1% average ACS bicycle commuting result from 2008 to 2012.

    That’s right. A zip code in Canoga Park has just as high a rate of bicycle commuting as the highest rate of any zip code in the city of Santa Monica.

    Broken down by a much smaller Census population tract, Canoga Park has the second highest bicycle commuting rate of any population tract in the entire county at 17.7%. The highest rate is just above USC at 19.7%.

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