Morning Links: Victim’s family calls for compassion as hit-and-run driver gets time served; bike thief faces 27 years

Sometimes, compassion wins.

Especially when it comes from the family of the victim, for a driver who didn’t show any himself.

On Friday, commercial truck driver Filemon Reynaga was sentenced to time served for the hit-and-run death of 19-year-old Manuel Rodriguez as he rode his bike to work in Anaheim nearly two and a half years ago.

Reynaga was convicted last August for running a stop sign and right hooking Rodriguez, dragging him and his bike several yards — by some accounts, up to 150 feet — before finally stopping his truck. He got out, walked back to look at the young man lying badly injured the street, then simply got back on his truck and drove away to continue his deliveries.

At least one driver manage to avoid striking Rodriguez as he lay on the dark street before he was hit by another car, whose driver had the decency to stay at the scene.

It’s impossible to say which vehicle struck the fatal blow.

Reynaga faced up to four well-deserved years in prison, even though the judge planned to sentence him to two.

But that changed when Rodriguez’ relatives urged him to show leniency — not because they felt sorry for Reynaga, but out of sympathy for his family, because they didn’t want them to suffer the loss of a loved one like they did.

Moved by their remarkable compassion, the judge ordered Reynaga released, while imposing $16,000 restitution to help pay for Rodriguez’ burial in Mexico, along with three years probation; if he violates probation, he could be sentenced to serve the full four years.

Let’s hope he justifies their kindness.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and Ann for the heads-up.

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A homeless man faces 27 years in prison — yes, 27 — for stealing a specialized three-wheeled bicycle belonging to a Burbank boy suffering from cerebral palsy.

The $5000 tricycle was found on the side of a road in Silver Lake several days later after the alleged thief dumped it when media coverage made it too hard to sell.

So let’s get this straight.

A hit-and-run driver who left a man to die in the street gets off with a little more than a year in jail, while someone who stole a bike faces nearly three decades behind bars.

Even with the bike thief’s long list of priors, something is seriously wrong here.

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A California appeals court overturned the murder conviction of the substance abuse counselor who got loaded, got behind the wheel and smashed into a Torrance pedestrian so hard she knocked his pants off — then drove two miles with his underwear-clad body embedded in her windshield.

The court ruled that the jury might have been prejudiced because they were shown her entire rap sheet — including previous convictions for possession, prostitution and burglary.

At least they let her conviction for hit-and-run stand.

But the 55-years to life sentence she originally received is out the window, pending a likely retrial. Or more likely, a plea for a dramatically reduced sentence.

………

This is what a distracted driver looks like on the road, as a cellphone-using SUV driver repeatedly drifts towards a bike lane before right crossing the rider.

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Local

More than 200 people ride for love and unity in Watts.

Assuming the Santa Monica city council says yes on Tuesday, the city’s Breeze bikeshare will expand outside the SaMo for the first time with five new stations in Venice.

Mark your calendar for the return of CICLE’s Tweed Ride in Pasadena on March 13th.

A writer for the San Gabriel Tribune calls a proposed Class 1 bike path on Garvey Ave in Rosemead a game changer because people are more likely to ride their bikes if they feel safe. And credits advocacy group Bike SGV for many of the bicycle improvements in the area.

 

State

A San Diego cyclist is suing the city after suffering serious injuries when he hit a pothole so big it could be seen in a satellite view taken months before.

The Coyote’s Bicycle, a new book from a San Diego journalist, follows Central American migrants making their way illegally across the border by bicycle.

The feds aren’t the only ones having issues with Apple; bicyclists in Cupertino have suffered serious injuries on wet pavement at the construction site for the new Apple headquarters.

A San Francisco cab driver insists it’s okay for him to break traffic laws because he’s a professional and knows what he’s doing. So bike messengers, pro cyclists and delivery people should be able to break the law with abandon, right?

Sonoma County bicyclists hold a Tour de Trash, riding the back roads of Petaluma on Saturday to locate trash, then coming back in trucks on Sunday to remove it.

 

National

Country music star Clay Walker credits riding 25 to 40 miles a day with his band with helping him manage the effects of MS.

Truck side guards could save the lives of countless people on foot and bikes, but the federal government has failed to take action.

Austin TX agrees to stripe a bike lane by narrowing traffic lanes from a dangerously capacious 14 feet to a more realistic 11 feet — but only after a kid riding his bike on the sidewalk is hit by a car.

Not surprisingly, Arkansas cyclists would rather have a driver cross a double yellow line to pass than follow behind until they get to a passing lane. I agree; in my experience, drivers who follow behind a bike instead of passing usually do it too closely and impatiently.

When a carfree Little Rock AK man called police to report the bicycle he used as his only form of transportation had been stolen, the cop who responded promptly walked into a pawn shop, pulled out his own credit card and bought him a new one.

The Cincinnati paper says it’s time to embrace the bicycle and fully commit to bike-friendly infrastructure and education.

Tennessee proposes legislation forbidding funding bike and pedestrian projects with gas taxes. In that case, they should also prohibit general tax funds paid by bicyclists and pedestrians from being used for highway projects.

Evidently, they take drunk driving seriously in Pennsylvania, as a woman who killed a cyclist while driving under the influence gets up to 13 years behind bars.

DC is planning to trade traffic lanes for bike lanes in four key spots. Something that would probably lead to rioting in Los Angeles. Or endless attempts to undo it.

Four North Carolina cyclists were seriously injured when a driver tried to pass in an unsafe place, and cut over into them when she saw a car coming in the opposite direction. That’s the caveat in crossing the yellow line to pass a cyclist; the driver has to have enough sense to do it only when it’s safe.

 

International

A San Francisco travel writer rides through the heartland of Cuba.

A Newfoundland bike rider says once you go fat bike, you’ll never go back; the rider who just finished a Yukon dog sled race on one would probably agree.

Irish track cycling gold medalist Martyn Irvine talks about walking away from the sport after losing his love for riding.

Apparently, it’s open season on pro cyclists, as two riders for the Belgian Lotto team became just latest racers to be hit by a car while they were training in Spain; fortunately, their injuries seem to be limited to bruises and abrasions.

Nothing suspicious here. The former executive director of the Russian anti-doping agency was planning to write a tell-all book about the country’s doping program before his sudden and unexpected death. Let the probably well-founded conspiracy theories begin.

ESPN profiles the only woman on the Rwandan National Cycling Team.

The transportation minister for Australia’s New South Wales is standing firm on dramatically higher fines for bicyclists, despite fears that they will force people back into their cars; remarkably, the department insists the heavy-handed measures will actually encourage more people to ride.

Sounds familiar. When a Singaporean ad man lost his major client, he switched careers, becoming a cycling coach and setting up a new bike school. Which is sort of how this site was born, too. Although it wasn’t the dog that crapped on my best work, it was usually my clients.

A Malaysian bank funds a twice monthly two-hour ciclovía in Kuala Lumpur, including offering free loan of one hundred bicycles and ten tandems for the event.

 

Finally…

Who cares about a lousy separated bike lane when you could have valet parking for Saks? Seriously, train seats are for people, people, not bikes.

And always read the legal disclaimers warning about possible injury or death before you install a bike bell.

Yes, a bike bell.

 

4 comments

  1. Right there at the end of the distracted driver video you can see the front end damage and buckled hood that tells you this was not the first time this has happened. This is a serial distracted driver.

  2. Ralph says:

    I’m now in Germany and purchased a wood cutting board. Safety and care instructions in 20+ languages…..

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