Morning Links: San Bernardino police unfairly blame victim; bike commuter dares Sepulveda Pass sans spandex

This is the sort of crap bike riders have to deal with far too often.

After an 81-year old bike rider was killed in San Bernardino recently, police investigators determined that the victim was at fault.

Even though he had legally taken the lane, which was too narrow to share because of drifted sand, and was riding abreast, which is not not forbidden under California law.

And even though his bike was well lighted, and should have been clearly visible to the driver who hit him from behind, and who could have easily changed lanes to avoid him.

So evidently, it’s legal to kill bike riders in the Inland Empire, even when they’re riding within their rights.

The victim’s family asked the Executive Director of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance to talk to the detective in charge of the case.

What follows is a recount of the conversation from their Facebook page, reprinted with permission, which reads more like an Abbot and Costello routine.

Note: The name of the detective has been withheld to spare him well-deserved embarrassment.

Time to bring your blood to a boil. Our ED was asked by the family of William Easley (killed when hit from behind in SB) to represent their grievance with the police report putting William at fault. The traffic commission determined that the primary cause of the collision was Easley’s violation of CVC 21202. They contest that because he was riding two abreast, that is why he was hit.

Here is the abbreviated exchange between Mark and SBPD.

Mark: It is not illegal to ride two abreast and I have a letter from CalTrans stating such.

SBPD: It is not stated to be legal either

Mark: But it’s a substandard lane due to the sand (see picture below) and riding two wide allows for the rider to control the lane which is his right to do so

SBPD: Doesn’t matter. If he had been riding in front or behind other rider he would not have been hit

Mark: What if it were a car that been hit behind?

SBPD: He is not a car and must adhere to bike laws.

Mark: He’s still a vehicle and has a right to the lane. Why couldn’t the driver have simply change lane?

SBPD: He didn’t see him.

Mark: Why didn’t he see him? Didn’t the cyclist meet and exceed the required lighting for a bike?

SBPD: I don’t know and yes he had lights that were visible

Mark: So he didn’t even know if it was a car because he “didn’t see it”? But the fact that he was NOT paying attention is in your opinion NOT the primary cause?

SBPD: Correct

Mark: So where in the law is it ok to not see things while driving?

SBPD: It happens that’s why it’s an accident.

Mark: So your telling me that if a cyclist is not to the right as far as practicable, it is ok to hit and kill them as long as you say I didn’t see them?

SBPD: If Easley had not been riding 2 wide he would not be at fault.

Mark: I don’t care just about the fault. What scares me is you are setting a precedent that it’s ok to run over bikes and peds from behind if they are just a few feet out of what YOU DETERMINE as practicable.

Mark: What about CVC 21750 the 3′ Law? This is a clear violation of it.

SBPD: True but it’s not the primary cause therefore not applicable.

Mark: Then why aren’t we allowed the lane, since we are acting as a vehicle?

SBPD: Because your not. You have bike laws.

Mark: But we are also required and have the same rights as a car.

SBPD: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t pick and choose which laws you wish to follow. Either your under bike laws or motor vehicle laws.

AT THIS POINT MY MIND IS BLOWN

The scene of the fatal collision; note how the sand reduced the ridable portion of the roadway.

Mourners gather at the scene of the fatal collision; note how the sand reduced the ridable portion of the roadway.

HE stopped the meeting after this exchange:

Mark: How far in the lane was Easley?

SBPD: 7.5′

Mark: Wait a second. How wide is the lane?

SBPD: 20′ (actually 19′)

Mark: That gives a lot of room

SBPD: How wide is a Honda?

Mark: 6′ at best. He still has 12′ to clear him.

SBPD: I’m not going to go back and forth all day with this. We determined the primary cause

We all know the flawed logic in all this and we could hash this for hours with arguments. There was back and forth with CVC and hypotheticals earlier, that got nowhere.

I cannot express the level of frustration here. The shear power of this decision to undermine our right to the road and the danger it poses to all vulnerable users as now we are “just an accident” if you didn’t see us.

The family asked us to offer a rebuttal to the final police report, which I agreed to do. After that, it’s up to the family to decide whether they wish to pursue suing the insurance company. In a weird turn, the unlicensed driver was driving a car with insurance on it from his wife.

All of which raises the question of how can we ever be save of the roads if the police don’t understand the laws regulating bicycling.

And refuse to enforce them even if they do.

……..

Local

A magazine editor attempts an apparently death-defying commute from the Valley to UCLA over the Sepulveda Pass. Without the aid of spandex.

A Santa Monica woman was thrown off her bike by a homeless man who had been running in and out of traffic.

More bike lanes at Cal Poly Pomona may come down to the same old argument over removing parking. Never mind that improving bike access and safety could reduce the need for it.

BikeSGV will offer free bike safety classes in El Monte the next four Saturdays; click the link for classes in other cities around the county in coming weeks, as well.

 

State

Maybe it really is a new Caltrans, as the agency asks planners, engineers and cyclists for input on guidelines for protected bike lanes.

San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood prefers to remain auto-centric, rejecting plans for protected bike lanes and suggesting sharrows instead.

A Jurupa Valley bridge is being rebuilt with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. Unlike plans for a certain LA bridge we could name.

A three-month Sacramento road closure could force bicyclists to take a 16-mile detour.

A sidewalk riding Modesto cyclist somehow avoided serious injuries when he was hit by a big rig truck.

 

National

The broken leg John Kerry’s suffered in a solo bike fall won’t stop the Iran nuke talks after all.

Not even ghost bikes are safe from hit-and-run drivers, as a Portland memorial was struck — perhaps intentionally — just six days after a rider was killed at the same spot. But in rare case of a city actually giving a damn, Portland officials want to lower the speed limit on the city’s crash corridors.

For some reason, Kansas farmers were okay having a railroad in their backyard, but not the bikeway that replaced it.

A North Dakota driver faces a negligent homicide charge for killing a bike-riding triathlete last August while he was taking selfies as he drove; he deleted the photos in an attempt to hide the evidence.

A lawsuit says a Chicago area cop ran down a bike rider with his patrol car, Tased him, then shot him in the foot — all in a case of mistaken identity. To make matters worse, the rider is still sitting in a jail cell facing a battery charge resulting from the altercation two years later.

In a failure of the medical system, a 16-year old bike rider died two weeks after he was treated and released by the hospital following a rear-end collision.

 

International

Wired ranks the 20 most bike friendly cities on the planet; Minneapolis is the only US city to make a list, while Copenhagen replaces Amsterdam at the top spot.

A Vancouver librarian says stop demonizing fat people if you want get more people on bikes.

All bike thieves suck. But it takes a real jerk to steal a customized bike from a Winnipeg man who had his leg amputated.

Ontario cyclists now face fines up to $500 for riding without a light; the good news is, drivers now have to give bike riders a one meter — 3.3 feet — passing distance, and face a $1,000 fine for dooring.

A noted Toronto architect has died a month after he was hit by an SUV while riding his bike.

A new British helmet prototype gives riders a heads-up display of the safest bike routes.

That road raging UK driver who threatened to break a bike rider’s neck and eat him for breakfast just happens to own a chain of upscale coffee shops that offer cycling workshops. But no need to boycott because he says he’s very sorry. No, really.

Once again, someone has sabotaged a popular British riding route with drawing pins.

Brit bike scribe Carlton Reid describes his recent US book tour to promote his new book, Roads Were Not Built For Cars.

Beijing works with Dutch experts to revive bicycling in the Chinese capital.

Bangkok is starting to take safety seriously, reducing speed limits for streets with bike lanes to just 18 mph. Good luck with that here.

A Japanese Nintendo hero is teaming with Tokyo police to stop bike theft.

 

Finally…

It’s bad enough when police figuratively crap on bike lanes; worse when their horses literally do it. When you’re riding your bike with 18 bags of marijuana, put a damn bell on it, already.

And a Fargo man is convicted of drunk driving for operating a Zamboni with a BAC nearly four times the legal limit.

But at least he rode a bike to the arena instead of driving.

 

5 comments

  1. PatrickGSR94 says:

    A community is auto-centric because they decide to place sharrows instead of bike lanes? I call that a win! Anything that helps motorists understand that “bikes belong” is a win in my book. Of course, BMUFL signs help with that, also.

  2. B2H says:

    I can agree Sepulveda Pass can be nerve-racking ride I did it for about 8 months (before they widened the 405) from Van Nuys to Englewood. Going in wasn’t the issue because I left before the sun was ever up but coming home truly sucked. The section just north of the Getty entrance was the worst where the bike lane was about a foot wide, not sure what’s it like now. Also the temperature difference didn’t help either, it could be 78° in Inglewood and 100° in Van Nuys.

  3. Tom says:

    19ft would not be the lane width. The lane would be default 11ft and the other 8ft is a parking lane. If 7.5ft from the curb, the cyclist was in riding in the parking lane, not the travel lane. Since it is impossible to hold up traffic while riding in a parking lane (not required by FTR), even the investigator’s fictitious made up two-abreast violation would not apply.

    The investigator is clearly completely incompetent. Firing would be too good for that guy….he needs to choose another career.

  4. Vox_Populi says:

    The picture speaks a thousands words. Did the accumulation of sand result in the riders avoiding a hazardous condition? Did the sand accumulate because the county failed to maintain the overflowing drainage ditches (there are two manhole covers) hence creating a hazard for cyclists and motorcyclists. Does the atty. have access to auto speed trap data (time/speed/date) nearest the site of the accident? I think the driver incriminates himself by saying he wasn’t paying attention (on a digital device or medication) and didn’t see the sic, rider(s). Tragically, Inland Empire seems a dangerous for cyclists. 🙁

  5. Eddie says:

    So, the primary cause was the victim of the rear-end collision was in front of the car that hit him.
    Not seeing what is directly in front of you is an accident, not negligence.
    Operating a motor vehicle without a license doesn’t presume you don’t know how to operate and therefore isn’t assumed negligence.
    Why are there laws?

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