Morning Links: Court sticks LA and Caltrans for $9.1 million in PCH crash, and Brown signs e-scooter helmet bill

In the latest massive court case against the City of Los Angeles, a jury awarded $9.1 million to a man injured while riding his bike on PCH.

The Los Angeles Times reports Robert Jeffrey Watts suffered a severe brain injury four year ago, when he swerved his bike to go around rocks and debris on PCH in Pacific Palisades, and was struck by the wing mirror of a passing truck.

Watts came across a pile of sand and rocks on the pavement, and steered into the travel lane to avoid the debris. He was struck by a truck’s side mirror and lost control of his bicycle, resulting in a crash that left him with a “significant amount of brain damage,” according to a complaint filed in 2015 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Watts was an experienced bicyclist who rode to his office in Culver City for years to keep fit, said his attorney, Boris Treyzon. Watts, who ran a successful freelance camera company, was left unable to work.

The jury split blame for the case, finding Caltrans 40% liable for the crash, with Los Angeles responsible for the rest.

Caltrans, which owns the highway, had hired Los Angeles to sweep the pavement at least once a month and keep it free of debris, but jury testimony and records left it unclear how often the work was performed, Treyzon said.

During the trial, he said, two city street sweepers testified that at the Tramonto slide, “they would simply swing around … and ignore it,” rather than remove the sand, gravel and rocks from the roadway.

No surprise there to anyone who has watched LA City street sweepers in action. Or had to ride through the debris they left behind.

The size of these awards keep climbing. And those payments come out of your taxes.

Money that would be much better spent to fund quality bike infrastructure and safer streets to keep bike riders and pedestrians from getting injured.

Instead of paying out massive legal judgements after they do.

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Go ahead and scoot without a skid lid.

To the surprise of some — okay, me — Governor Brown signed AB 2989, allowing adult users of e-scooters to ride without a helmet.

In addition, the law allows scooters on streets with speed limits up to 35 mph; current law limits scooters to streets with speed limits up to 25 mph unless they have bike lanes.

No word on when the law takes effect.

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CiclaValley wants to know whether Decker Canyon or Westlake Blvd offers the scarier descent.

Although Phil Gaiman might vote for Tuna Canyon.

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Cheetahs don’t pedal.

Just saying.

 

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Local

Ride Metro Bike bikeshare free tomorrow for World Car Free Day.

A writer for City Watch takes a miserable walk down Fairfax Blvd, followed by a harrowing bike ride. And says Metro could fund trees, sidewalk improvements and bike lanes on Fairfax, as well as on Wilshire Blvd and all the major streets in the area that connect to Wilshire, for less than $50 million. Let’s hope someone is listening to him.

Downtowners weigh in on plans to remake LA’s Civic Center, calling for protected bike lanes and trails with bike and scooter parking.

Bicycling profiles the founder of LA-based women’s bikewear brand Machines for Freedom.

The third annual Gran Fondo Santa Clarita rolls next Saturday.

 

State

The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail is nearing completion, following the Truckee River 116 miles from the north shore of Lake Tahoe to Nevada’s Pyramid Lake.

 

National

A writer for Forbes explains in detail why you have a greater right to ride a bicycle than to drive a car, and proposes a Micromobility Bill of Rights giving you the same entitlement on smaller devices like e-scooters.

Bicycling looks at the “newest and coolest gear” from this year’s Interbike show.

Your next bike could be made of Super Magnesium.

No bias here. A Colorado columnist complains about “Bicyclist Entitlement Syndrome,” saying courteous bike riders are so rare you never see them. And the rest park their bikes on handicap ramps and run over kittens.

Omaha police agree to keep patrolling the city’s paved trails in response to bike riders’ concerns about “wrongdoers.”

A Chicago city alderman has proposed requiring bike riders to dismount and walk their bikes on the popular downtown Riverwalk, saying it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

The administrators of the bike-hating Northern Kentucky Facebook group we linked to earlier this week have turned it into a closed group after it got public attention, and changed the name to “Share the Road;” local bicyclists are worried it could incite violence against bike riders.

Police in Knoxville TN are the latest department to use an ultrasonic radar device to enforce the three-foot passing law. The LAPD, not so much.

A pair of Cleveland bike riders were brutally attacked and robbed in separate early morning attacks.

New York is closing a pair of key bike lanes, apparently for security reasons, in preparation for next week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting — but leaving open a car tunnel that runs directly underneath.

A DC Twitter bot instantly uncovers the unpaid traffic tickets for any license plate, including one driver with 84 tickets totaling $10,700. Can we get that here in LA? Pretty please?

 

International

The co-founder of Zipcar warns the changes autonomous vehicles will bring could be paradise, or it could be hell.

Bike Radar offers tips on how to take inexperienced bike riders out for their first road ride.

Now that it’s legal north of the border, Canada’s military says don’t drive for 24 hours after you toke.

The Guardian looks at the colorful reinvention of city intersections.

Now that’s more like it. After a driver in the UK tweets that she should have run over a bike rider, police tell her to return her license because she’s clearly not fit to have one.

A British ebike maker says restricting ebikes to 15.5 mph in the UK and European Union is too slow for riders to be safe in traffic.

A Brit bike rider blames Strava for leading thieves to his home, where they stole five bikes worth nearly $16,000.

Heartbreaking news from the Netherlands, where four children were killed when the daycare cargo bike they were riding in was hit by a train.

VeloNews takes a tour of Italian bicycle factories.

 

Competitive Cycling

Forty-three-year old Amber Neben continues to defy the calendar as she prepares to compete for her third road world championship.

But maybe you’d rather watch bike racers about 40 years younger.

 

Finally…

Forget bike polo, it’s Cycleball season. Now you can own your very own British bike chain; no, not that kind.

And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think those are bike racks.

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Thanks David D, and everyone who has contributed this week, for their generous donations to help support this site. 

One final reminder, if everyone who visits this site today donated just $10, it would be more than enough to keep it going for a full year.

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Join the Militant Angeleno and BikinginLA for the first-ever Militant Angeleno’s Epic CicLAvia Tour at the Celebrate LA! LA Phil 100 CicLAvia on September 30th!

Just RSVP to [email protected] We want to guarantee a relatively small group to make sure we can keep the group together, and everyone can hear.

4 comments

  1. Hans Laetz says:

    Although the lawyers went after the City of LA, the Tramanto Landslide is 100% Caltrans.
    It’s a LANDSLIDE that has been allowed to creep right up to cars’ tires .. over the fog line … for 60 years!
    Just west of Sunset, before the ped overpass.
    Look up Tramanto landslide and you will see pictures from 1958.
    Caltrans has been unable to remove the dirt because that means remediating the ginat landslide … it goes three blocks up the steep cliff.
    It won’t move the highway towards the ocean … there’s 15 parking places and a bathroom in the way.
    Caltrans and LADOT have plans to widen PCH at the similar landslide east of Sunset, near the Bel Air Bay Club, where a similar landslide causes a bike lane and pedestrian fiasco at the north end of a bikeway that goes all the way to Torrance.
    Will Caltrans and LADOT address the Pacific Coast Bikeway???? Ever??? Anyone listening down there???

  2. Z says:

    Hans makes a apparent whopper point but the dirt can be swept up daily for next to NOTHING compared to almost any road related cost.

    Modern materials enable us to elevate bike lane above pollution and collisions and this victims injuries exceeded a mile of the cost. There should be a coastal bike superhighway like a third of a mile from now tide break and three yards above high tide elevation. In Manhattan now innercity house costs 20k a sf of roof area remaining unsold despite completion in 2017 while park 2 bedroom has building bikeshare….

  3. James says:

    I spent a lot of time taking the lane on PCH. What has happened is that ride share services have commandeered the shoulder/bike lane and in some areas cars waiting to enter a parking lot will fill up the shoulder for significant distances. In Huntington Beach where signalized intersections are 1/2 mile apart I’ve seen a line of cars waiting in the shoulder stretch from one intersection to the next, which means I’ve been forced to take the lane for 1/2 mile on a highway where people drive 60-70mph. Many of the cars have bicycles on them. Huntington Beach is so dangerous and scary for bike riding that people will drive to the beach just to ride back and forth on a congested sidewalk.

    No attempt has been made to make it easier or safe to ride to the beach. Recently redesigned intersections at PCH and streets that lead to the beach feature disappearing bike lanes, no pocket bike lane (to the left of extra wide right hand turn lanes) and no bicycle detection features. I’m not sure if riding in the crosswalk across PCH is technically legal in this area; regardless a cyclist looses the right of way and will be blamed for any collision.

    HB/OCTA/Caltrains to people on bicycles: fuck off and die . apparently.

    have a look at this offense:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Warner+Ave+%26+CA-1,+California+92649/@33.7109835,-118.0640643,127a,35y,52.61h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80dd25a864bef633:0x5cc7e002912b5db8!8m2!3d33.7115295!4d-118.0628669

  4. scott rose says:

    Tuna. Decker. Westlake. In that order.

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