Last year, 72 people died riding their bicycles in Southern California, just one less than the year before.
The last person killed was a 17-year old Norwalk high school student, Chandler Ray, who lost his life just three days before Christmas.
Yesterday I received the following email, from someone moved by the memorial to a young man who deserved to be more than the punctuation point to another year of needless tragedy on our streets.
When my coworker arrived at work Christmas morning, she mentioned “at least a hundred candles” at an intersection down the road. “Like when someone gets killed on the street.” So on the way home, I made a detour.
It’s on the northeast corner. With the sun in my eyes, I might’ve missed it if I hadn’t been looking for a roadside memorial specifically, despite its size. “At least a hundred candles” was a vague and yet extremely accurate estimate.
Westbound Firestone has four lanes of fuckyou, including a designated right turn lane where a homicidally impatient pick-up truck driver with zero intention of stopping at that oblique angle nevertheless braked fast when he realized the crosswalk was occupied by a goddamn cyclist. My swerve left me too terrified to yell, and nearly sent me to the asphalt.
A handsome young man stood on the ADA ramp on the narrow sidewalk, taking a picture. I spoke with him. He had missed the memorial service, but promised his school friends he would come Christmas morning. And so here he stood, alone, at half past seven on a chilly Sunday morning, looking at the memorial for his classmate: the candles, the cross, the Christmas tree, the donuts, the white painted bike frame. From a second, much more polished (I’m tempted to say “professional looking”) bike hung a sign with Chandler’s name painted on it.
The young man told me he didn’t know Chandler well, but has friends who did. He expressed disbelief that a classmate would be killed the day before winter break started. The young man indicated that Chandler had been killed just east of the intersection; I squinted towards the blind vertical curve (an overpass crosses above the train tracks there) and considered how suicidal it would be to take the lane here, given the arbitrarily high (45mph) posted speed limit allowed despite the impaired line of sight. For the record, it is illegal in the City of Norwalk to ride on the sidewalk. At this location, the insane choice to obey the law puts a cyclist in mortal danger.
Before the young man left his house that morning, he said, Chandler’s GoFundMe page had raised over $20,000.
I passed the memorial on New Year’s Eve, too. The velodoras’ wicks were submerged under an inch of water. Amidst the bushes nestled two big white plastic lumps, trash bags stuffed with the plush animals left by those who came to the memorial. The sight was just temporarily unsightly; it meant somebody cared enough to stop by and protect the offerings. The sun returned, and when I passed by the next evening, the plush critters were lovingly propped up against the candles and the bikes. As I stood there, a woman who had been sitting in a car in the parking lot approached. She asked if I had known Chandler. I explained I was just passing by. The woman had never met Chandler either; she learned from her 15-year-old daughter that her classmate had been killed, and then they found out that Chandler had also been their neighbor, living only two blocks away. Her daughter has a bike that she never uses because she (the daughter) is scared to. This mom is glad her daughter doesn’t ride around their residential neighborhood.
There is something very wrong with the world when infrastructure is set up to terrify mothers and children.
As of last night, the GoFundMe page for Chandler Ray had raised nearly $24,000 in just 17 days.
Contrast that with $840 in donations to another GoFundMe account opened the same day, intended to funds to replace the front teeth a bike rider lost in yet another hit-and-run collision.
Here’s a portion of what that page, set up by the staff of Streets Are For Everyone, has to say.
On Sunday, December 4th, Capitan Arreola was riding home after having spent the morning volunteering and instructing new cyclists how to ride safe during a group ride. Just a few blocks from his home, Capitan was hit by a speeding car. Landing on the hood, the driver sped away, tossing Capitan face down onto the asphalt — bleeding and barely conscious. 20 minutes went by before he received aid from a passerby.
Capitan suffered a concussion, the loss of his two front teeth, as well as other injuries to his face and body. Despite his pain and suffering, one week later, Capitan (who always keeps his word) showed up to fulfill his volunteer agreement to Streets Are For Everyone at our event, Finish The Ride.
- Bike Mechanic (full or part time)
- Sales Associate (full or part time)
- Storefront Manager (full time)
Anyone interested in applying should email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles has been selected as the host of the 2017 UCI Para-Cycling Track Championships at the VELO Sports Center in Carson in March.
CD3 Councilmember Bob Blumenfield is hosting his 4th annual community bike ride through the west San Fernando Valley on January 21st.
Santa Clarita is moving forward with plans to widen the Newhall Ranch Road Bridge over San Francisquito Creek, including new barrier-protected sidewalks and a shared-use pathway.
San Diego is being sued for removing plans for a bridge, which was included in the city’s bicycle master plan, from a neighborhood community plan.
Dueling surveys reflect conflict over whether to build protected bike lanes in San Francisco’s Panhandle area.
A Davis cyclist has published a book about his 2,300 mile journey along entire length of the legendary Route 66.
A group of bike campanies announce the winners of the 2017 Women’s Bicycle Mechanics Scholarship.
A writer for Bicycling discusses things she wished she’d known before biking across the country.
A growing number of states are diverting federal funds intended for biking and walking projects to build infrastructure for motor vehicles.
No surprise here. Charges won’t be filed against a Spokane cop who killed a 15-year old bike rider in 2014, even though he failed to use his lights and siren despite driving 70 mph on surface streets. Until new evidence came to light, authorities had denied the car even struck the boy.
Evidently, it’s okay to kill someone in your sleep, as an Idaho woman gets a slap on the wrist for running down a bike-riding firefighter after dozing off at the wheel.
Kindhearted strangers pitch in to by a new three-wheeled bike for a partially paralyzed Texas man who has become a local role model for overcoming disabilities.
A neighborhood group is offering free women’s self-defense classes following a series of attacks on a Madison WI bike path. Too many bike paths are hidden from public view and often deserted after dark, making them poor alternatives to on-street bikeways, especially for women.
A Chicago writer calls for a change in the law to allow police to automatically check phone records after serious crashes, which currently requires a warrant.
A woman from Chicago recounts riding from Key Largo to Key West with her husband.
The CEO of Ford says the future does not belong to cars alone, and suggests taking traffic lanes away from automobiles to create Complete Streets.
A new study shows DC’s bikeshare system cut local congestion by four percent, which projects to a savings of $182 million.
A Reston VA bike shop is threatening to leave the downtown area because they don’t think their customers should have to pay for parking.
A Cuban cyclist earns a living selling ad space on his tall bike.
Caught on video: A pair of professional triathletes biking across South America get dropped by a Columbian campesino on a heavy single-speed bike.
It’s now legal to ride side-by-side in at least one region of Ontario, Canada.
A teenage Irish bike thief allegedly had his leg broken when he was forced into a van by vigilantes; police can’t investigate because the victim hasn’t filed a complaint, for obvious reasons.
And even a three-year old can ride rollers better than you.
Or me, anyway.