Archive for Bicycle Safety

Today’s post, in which I talk pain and what the hell is wrong with me

When I started this website over six years ago, the first decision I made was that it was not about me, but rather, about bicycling. If I did write about myself, it was in the service of a larger point. 

Today, I’m breaking that rule. 

If there’s a larger message to come out of this, I don’t know what it is. 

I have struggled with whether to write this. But I have been open in discussing my diabetes up to this point; to not finish the story seems somehow dishonest.

And it affects my ability to maintain this site and bring you the bike news you’ve come to expect.

So if you’re interested, read on. If not, no hard feelings; feel free to skip it and come back another time.

Either way, we’ll be back to discussing bikes in the next post. And you can find today’s Morning Links here

……..

Let’s talk pain.

As a long-time cyclist, I thought I knew what it meant to suffer.

From the pain of struggling to make it up a tough climb or somehow make it back home when you ran out of gas miles before. To nursing bruised and broken bones and flesh, or debriding a massive case of road rash.

But nothing I’ve been through in 30-plus years of adult riding — or anything that came before — prepared me for what I’ve experienced this past summer, and the months since.

But at least now it has a name.

Diabetic Amyotrophy, to be exact.

Which means I beat the odds once again. First by developing diabetes without any of the usual risk factors other than a family history. Then developing a form of diabetic neuropathy that affects just 1% of adult diabetics.

I should play the lottery more often.

Unlike most medical conditions, it’s easy to point to when it began. According to my calendar, I took my last recreational bike ride in mid-June; my last ride for transportation at the end of July, as the pain started taking over my life and forcing me off my bike.

Surprisingly — both to me and my doctors — it came as I was gaining control over my diabetes.

When I was first diagnosed in April, I had an A1C — the key marker of diabetes, measuring blood sugar levels over a three-month period — of 14.5. A figure that was, quite literally, off the charts, as I discovered recently when I noticed the graph on my doctor’s wall only goes up to 12.5.

In fact, one of my doctors — I have a virtual peloton of physicians these days — said the biggest surprise was I hadn’t ended up in diabetic coma. Or worse.

No wonder I’d felt like crap.

Yet, despite being repeatedly told it would be impossible, I was able to bring my blood sugar back down to normal levels less than three months after my diagnoosis. My most recent A1C was just 5.8 — a level that would be on the high end of the normal range for a non-diabetic.

And through diet and medication alone, without having to go on insulin.

In fact, low blood sugar is a more of a problem these days, as I have to carefully monitor myself to keep from crashing.

As my diabetes improved, though, the pain increased. Until it became the single defining factor affecting my life.

My doctor advised me to just wait it out, guessing that it was my body’s reaction to lowering my blood sugar too far too fast. And that it would simply go away in time.

Instead, it continued to get worse. So I finally got a referral to a physician specializing in diabetes, and was lucky to find one who takes the Sherlock Holmes approach to diagnostics.

As in, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

So we began a months-long journey through a wide range of exotic blood and neurological tests in an attempt to discover what it wasn’t. Including some very scary things.

And once everything else had been considered and dismissed, we were left with this:

Diabetic amyotrophy, also known as proximal diabetic neuropathy, diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy, and diabetic polyradiculoneuropathy, occurs in patients with diabetes (more likely in those with type II than type I). It usually involves weakness followed by wasting of muscles, and excruciating pain in the muscles of the thigh, hip, and buttocks.

Bingo. Although excruciating is putting it mildly.

What it doesn’t mention, though, is that the pain comes in three distinct flavors.

The first is a constant burning or freezing sensation in my feet, like they’re alternately on fire or encased in a block of ice.

Next comes uncontrollable muscle spasms in my calves and thighs lasting hours at a time, and resulting in a sensation like the lactic acid build-up that follows a hard ride. But many times worse.

Finally, I’m subject to intense, sudden shocks that come with no warning, strong enough to drop a grown man — namely me — to his knees. And striking anywhere from the waist down.

And I do mean anywhere.

Yes, even there.

You know those movies where they torture someone by shocking him with a car battery? My body doesn’t need any help to torture me. I can do that all by myself, without the need for external electricity.

The pain is constant, without relief, ranging from moderate to, by far, the worst pain I’ve ever felt, feared or imagined. Sometimes it’s just one of the three forms, at other times, all three at once.

And it’s worse at night. Much worse.

Which meant I spent most of my summer on the couch; awake all night from the pain, trying, usually unsuccessfully, not to wake my wife in the next room with my muffled cries of pain. Then curled up in a ball all day desperately trying to get the sleep I didn’t get the night before.

Relief, when it finally came, was in the form of a powerful anti-seizure medication used off-label for neuropathic pain. But it would only help for a day or two, at best, as my doctor slowly ratcheted up the dosage.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that it finally reached a level that offered any significant help. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but on a good day, helps bring it down to a more tolerable level.

Not that there are many of those.

Or more precisely, there are bad days, and less bad days.

On better days, I can function almost normally for a few hours, though even just going shopping with my wife is enough to wear me out. Going out on my own, unsupervised, requires cutting back on the amount of medication I take, and accepting the pain that comes with it.

And overdoing it means a relentless bout of pain that can last for days; it took over a week to get it back under control after spending just a few hours at the LACBC’s Firefly Ball recently.

There’s also a fine line between taking enough medication to control the pain and being unable to function. Too little and the pain knocks me on my ass; too much and I’m a virtual zombie until it finally wears off.

And even then, there’s no guarantee it will be enough to overcome the pain.

As a result, I’ve been unable to work, since I can’t commit to being anywhere, or being conscious enough to meet a deadline. Or guarantee that my head will be clear enough to be productive or that the pain won’t drive me back to bed.

Not that I have work to do. In fact, I haven’t worked a single day since the onset of my diabetes towards the end of last year.

Or an hour, for that matter.

It’s also kept me from making the changes I’ve wanted to this website; usually, it’s all I can do just to keep it going every day.

Or almost every day, as you may have noticed. Some days I’m just not up to the simple act of pounding out a new post.

And it’s kept me off my bike for nearly four months. While I’m determined to get back to riding, I don’t know when that will happen. Or if I can ever get back to riding the way I used to.

My life is now centered, not on the things I used to do, but the pills I have to take.

I’m finally starting to accept that.

Up to now, I’ve been fighting to overcome my pain and get back to normal. Now I’ve finally accepted that isn’t going to happen.

This is my new normal.

I have to accept that this is a chronic, and possibly permanent, condition. It may go away on its own someday, just as unexpectedly as it came on. Or it may be something I have to deal with all day, every day, for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that I’m stronger than I thought I was. And I can endure more than I thought was humanly possible.

My challenge now is to find a way to live my life, regardless of what’s going on with my body. What that means, I have no idea.

But I’m looking forward to finding out.

And other people have overcome far worse.

 

Update: Bike rider killed in Santa Ana; 73-year old cyclist gravely injured in Laguna Woods

This was a bad day for bike riders in Orange County.

According to the Orange County Register, a bike rider was killed in a collision with a vehicle in Santa Ana somewhere near the intersection of West 5th Street and North Harbor Blvd.

The New Santa Ana website places the time of the collision around 5:30 pm Saturday, and identifies the victim as an adult male. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both sites report the driver stayed at the scene. No other information is available at this time.

This is the 78th bicyclist killed in Southern California this year, and the 17th in Orange County; that compares with 12 in the county last year. And he’s the third bike rider killed in Santa Ana since the first of the year.

Update: Bill Sellin forwards an email from the Santa Ana police reporting the collision occurred at 300 N. Harbor Blvd. The victim was riding against traffic and attempting to cross the street when he was hit by a car traveling north on Harbor. 

Sadly, police are still attempting to identify the victim. A reminder to always carry some form of identification when you ride. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to Natalie and Bill Sellin for the heads-up. 

……..

Meanwhile, KNBC-4 reports a 73-year old bike rider is in grave condition after he was hit by a Honda Civic on southbound Moulton Parkway near Santa Maria in Laguna Woods just before 6 am Saturday morning.

Sound like prayers or good thoughts are in order.

Weekend Links: Rider down at 7th and Grand; driver charged with killing James Rapley in Temescal Canyon DUI

A bike rider was hit by a car at 7th and Grand in Downtown LA Friday morning.

Unfortunately, no word on the condition or identity of the victim, but I’m told he was conscious and in a lot of pain.

That bike appears to be trashed, though.

Photo by Yuki Kidokoro

Photo by Yuki Kidokoro

Thanks to Yuki Kidokoro and LA BAC member David Wolfberg for the heads-up.

……..

Just got word late Friday that Mohammed Kadri has been charged with a felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the death of cyclist James Rapley on Temescal Canyon late last year.

As you may recall, Rapley was riding on a rented bike during an extended layover at LAX while flying back home to Australia for the holidays, when Kadri’s car drifted into the bike lane and hit him from behind.

Kadri was allegedly drunk — or possibly still drunk — at 9:15 am on a Sunday morning, and reportedly told a bystander he had been texting.

On a related note, it’s my goal is to turn the uphill bike lane on Temescal into the city’s first parking–protected bike lane. It may not have saved Rapley at that early weekend hour, but could help keep future cyclists from the same fate.

Thanks to Karen for the heads-up.

……..

You’ve got to be kidding.

A 20-year old Wisconsin man hit a newspaper deliveryman on a three-wheeled bike, and drove home with the victim embedded in his windshield. The rider, who did not appear to be seriously injured, unlocked the passenger door and started walking down the street before a witness called police.

And yes, you’ve got to see the photo on that link.

Then it happened again, when an allegedly drunken New Jersey driver was stopped by police with a man stuck in the windshield, after driving 1.5 miles from the scene of the hit-and-run. The 61-year old victim had to be cut out of the windshield by firefighters, and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

……..

Local

No surprise that two of the three drug charges filed against Clinton Alford, Jr — the bike rider allegedly beaten and kicked by LAPD officers last month — have been dropped, with the third likely to follow, since police had no probable cause to stop and search, let alone beat, him. I’ll never understand why there’s not more outrage over this case.

Seventh District Councilmember Felipe Fuentes teams with the LACBC to light up lightless riders as part of Operation Firefly.

LADOT counts riders along the LA River bike path.

Better Bike offers an open letter calling for an end to considering traffic congestion as a mitigation criterion under CEQA rules.

Cycling in the South Bay writes about an all too typical exchange between a cyclist, a dangerously aggressive driver and bike cop who blames the wrong one.

Former US crit champ Rahsaan Bahati talks bike safety to school kids.

 

State

Neal Storm Stephany pleaded not guilty to a well-deserved murder charge in the Newport Beach DUI death of cyclist Shaun Eagleson last month.

A missing Irvine mountain biker isn’t missing any more.

The Executive Director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition explains what the city’s CicloSDias open streets festival is all about.

A Riverside man uses cycling to bounce back from osteoarthritis, and is raising a team after missing last year’s California Coast Classic following a double knee replacement.

Ventura County gets a $3.3 million grant for biking and walking projects.

Oakland bike thieves bust through the front door of a bike shop and steal 46 high-end mostly folding bikes. Thanks to Alex Kekauoha for the link. Note: I initially misidentified the location as San Francisco; it actually happened in the Bay Area city that didn’t win the World Series this year. Thanks to Prinzrob for keeping me honest. 

A San Francisco drunk passes out in the street next to the pink child’s bike he’d been riding. Am I the only one wondering if they checked to see if the bike was stolen?

Bike friendly Davis is looking for a new bike/ped coordinator.

A Sacramento-area fitness chain mimics ghost bikes by locking orange-painted bikes around town for a not-very-effective marketing campaign.

 

National

Protected bike lanes not only improve safety for cyclists, but for pedestrians, as well. Then again, they seem to be good for everyone.

A rider for Team Novo Nordisk explains how to ride with diabetes, something I’m going to have to learn.

Four years for a Portland teenager who bashed a random cyclist in the face with a brick. Too bad he’s a juvenile, because that crime deserves a lot more time.

A Wyoming driver faces up to 16 years after pleading guilty to aggravated homicide in the death of a cyclist earlier this year.

Things are changing in the Lone Star State as San Antonio becomes bike friendlier, and even Houston isn’t as bad as it used to be.

A writer for the Chicago Reader skillfully dismantles the Tribune’s crotchety, anti-bike troll.

A Michigan writer explains why riding with traffic is safer for cyclists. Seriously, nothing good comes from riding salmon.

New York launches a new Vision Zero map tracking traffic deaths across the city.

Great profile of New York bike messenger and riding legend Austin Horse.

A DC writer says riding on the sidewalk is just scary, for pedestrians, not dangerous.

 

International

How to survive riding in the rain.

A Vancouver study shows drivers are seldom charged with dooring.

A UK website asks if doping is finally a thing of the past in pro cycling. Uh, yeah, sure. Of course it is.

A smartly designed new Brit bike grows with your child.

A Welsh cyclist faces multiple charges after breaking out the window of a car with his U-lock. Seriously, no matter how angry you may be, responding with violence will only make it worse.

Irish researchers with a keen grasp of the obvious discover bicycling is underutilized in the country because many people think it’s too dangerous.

An Aussie rider explains why we wear those silly cleated shoes.

 

Finally…

Sir Bradley Wiggins, former Tour de France champ, is now an anime character. Caught on self-promoting video: A London beverage company develops a slightly self-serving plan to provide helmets for Boris Bike users; but not, evidently, these helmetless cyclists who videoed themselves using them — the bikes, not the helmets — to ride from London to Paris.

And Bikeyface neatly illustrates the problem with Share the Road.

 

76-year old Yucaipa bike rider killed in traffic collision

Evidently, it takes awhile for news to filter out of the Inland Empire.

Word is just coming out that a 76-year old bike rider was killed in a collision in Yucaipa on Sunday, when he reportedly turned in front of an oncoming car.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, Yucaipa resident Julian Rodriguez was riding his bike on the right shoulder of 7th Street south of Parkside Lane around 3:30 pm when he suddenly turned left in front of a car driven by a 56-year old driver, also from Yucaipa.

No reason is given for why he would have turned without warning, or why he didn’t look for oncoming traffic before turning.

There’s also no word on whether that alleged turn was observed by anyone other than the driver who hit him.

Despite the report, a street view shows no shoulder on 7th Street. It’s possible Rodriguez may have had to turn to go around a parked car or a pothole. Or that the driver drifted to the right, or didn’t see him until it was too late.

Without an independent witness, there’s no way of knowing what really happened.

The paper also reports that Rodriguez wasn’t wearing a helmet, but doesn’t say whether  he suffered a head injury or how fast the car was going; it’s entirely possible that a helmet wouldn’t have made any difference.

This is the 77th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 9th in San Bernardino County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Julian Rodriguez and all his loved ones.

E-bike rider killed in North Hollywood dooring; 10th LA bicycling fatality

Dooring is one of the most common kinds of bicycling collisions, but it is rarely fatal.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as the Daily News reports that an e-bike rider died yesterday as a result of being doored in North Hollywood.

According to the paper, the cyclist, identified only as an man apparently in his 50s, crashed into a car door on westbound Vanowen approaching Longridge Ave around 10 am Tuesday. A passenger in the parked car opened a driver’s side door into the path of the rider, who fell after crashing into it; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The passenger remained at the scene and tried to help the victim.

It’s important to note that CVC 22517 requires any person opening a car door to wait until it is safe to do so without inferring with moving traffic. As a result, the person opening the door is almost always at fault in a dooring, whether it’s the driver of a passenger.

This is the 76th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, which compares with the same number this time last year. It’s also the 29th cycling death in LA County since the first of the year, and the 10th in the City of Los Angeles.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Morning Links: LA cyclist killed in Arizona; Santa Ana hit-and-run driver has long record and suspended license

Let’s start with the bad news.

LA cyclist Jesse A. Simon was killed while riding in Arizona last Thursday.

The driver who hit Simon to police he attempted to swerve at the last second when the 65-year old rider entered the roadway — apparently from the shoulder of the highway — but still clipped him with the pickup’s mirror.

Of course, in real life, that usually means the driver wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see the cyclist until it was too late, and simply didn’t react in time. Unfortunately, unless another witness is found, police will only have the driver’s statement to go by, since the victim is unable to give his side of the story.

I’m told Simon worked for LA Metro, though I don’t know what position he held with the county transit agency.

An earlier version of the story said he was riding through Arizona as part of a national bike tour; however, that has since been removed for some reason.

My prayers and condolences for Jesse Simon, and all his family, friends and co-workers.

Thanks to Alan and Vanessa for the link.

……..

Police make an arrest in the hit-and-run deaths of three trick-or-treating teenage girls who were killed in Santa Ana Halloween night.

Thirty-one year old Jaquin Ramone Bell was arrested on Sunday, and booked on felony hit-and-run causing death; he also had two outstanding warrants for domestic violence charges.

Unbelievably, Bell had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of child abuse and endangerment, DUI and hit-and-run with property damage for an August 1st collision in Anaheim. And was sentenced to a whopping 10 days in jail and three years probation on the child abuse count, and eight days — eight — for the traffic charges.

We should all thank the judge who set him loose to kill someone the next time.

Granted, he was driving on a suspended license when he killed the three girls. Although clearly that didn’t stop him.

Then again, that’s probably to be expected since he had violated probation seven times before.

And we can only guess whether he was drunk behind the wheel on Halloween, despite a three-month court ordered substance abuse program. Fleeing the scene gave him plenty of time to sober up before he was busted two days later.

If he had been drinking or using drugs, that is.

And did I mention that he had his own teenage children in the car with him when he fled the scene like the heartless coward he allegedly is, leaving three innocent children to die in the street?

Nice parenting lesson there, dude.

If you’re not disgusted, maybe you should be. Because once again, our courts failed to take traffic crime seriously, despite being given every possible warning that the suspect couldn’t be trusted.

But once again, they gave him yet another second chance.

And once again, an innocent victim died as a result. Or three, in this case.

Yes, they should charge the jerk with three counts of felony murder, lock him up and drop the key in the deepest pits of hell.

But maybe the people who let him off the hook over and over should do some of that time with him.

Meanwhile, Santa Ana officials vow to slow speeds and improve pedestrian safety, which is sadly lacking in the city.

……..

Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk offers a detailed report on the death of triathlete Gary Holmes, two-and-a-half years after he was run down by a DUI driver near Los Olivos.

……..

Local

Mayor Garcetti wants LA to experiment with pedestrian scrambles, already proven in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and yes, Westwood — as well as countless cities around the world. Yet the Times worries drivers will freak out over having to wait at red lights a few more seconds.

Groundbreaking took place on Saturday for the Greenway Trail, extending the LA River bike path another five miles through the San Fernando Valley.

LA erases DIY street safety efforts in Silver Lake, but lets gang symbols remain on South LA streets.

A suspected drunk driver hits a seven-year old Burbank bike rider; fortunately, the boy is expected to recover. So don’t expect the courts to take it seriously or anything.

Pasadena gets $172,000 to conduct a year-long bike safety program for children and their families.

 

State

Cyclelicious offers a statewide guide to today’s election.

Huntington Beach sees a jump in bike thefts. Evidently, you’re not safe on your bike in HB, and your bike’s not safe when you’re off it.

Bike share is finally getting ready to roll in San Diego, where the first stations were installed Monday.

A reminder that the end of Daylight Savings increases the risk for riders; make sure you leave home with the lights you’ll need later.

The Sacramento Bee says the recent governor’s report on bike deaths misses the chance to focus on real problems.

 

National

A new warning system alerts drivers to the presence of bikes, but only of they both have the same system installed. Or drivers could, you know, just pay attention.

A Tucson cyclist is killed by an unmarked patrol car.

A Minneapolis cyclist has his bike stolen after an alleycat race, but the thief returns it the same night.

An Illinois cyclist is killed by a driver who crossed onto the wrong side of the road; somehow, the state police still blame the victim.

New distracted driving laws took effect in New York state on Saturday.

A columnist for the New York Daily News claims New York’s new 25 mph speed limit, intended to save lives as part of the city’s Vision Zero, will just mean more lives lost to road raging drivers. Because, you know, it’s impossible to be patient or control your temper behind the wheel; then again, maybe he’s right.

 

International

Biking Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, which you are still officially prohibited from visiting if you carry a US passport.

Olympic cycling champ Chris Boardman offers 12 tips for urban cycling in a BBC video report. But Brits freak out over why he didn’t wear a helmet.

A British statistician looks at how safe cycling really is in the UK.

London police back two proposed bike superhighways. Which is what they called the city’s previous bikeways, which weren’t.

A Yorkshire paper says golf is out as middle-aged men in Lycra get on their bikes.

My favorite Scottish bike advocate and blogger explains why covered bikeways won’t work.

Pro cycling’s governing body may shorten two of the three Grand Tours.

Singapore has some way to go to become a cycling nation.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: A driving instructor and bike trainer explains why those damn cyclists ride in the middle of the road. A new study confirms that San Francisco’s streets are decidedly auto-centric, unlike every other city in North America, evidently.

And meet the bike for people who don’t ride bikes. But does it have a seat that turns into a lock — or wheels made of ice, for that matter?

 

Bike riding mother of eight killed in Anaheim hit-and-run

Yet another innocent person has been murdered by a heartless coward in a motor vehicle.

Just one day after three teenage girls were killed by a hit-and-run driver in Santa Ana, a mother of eight has been killed by a driver who fled the scene in nearby Anaheim.

Forty-four-year old Anaheim resident Daniella Palacios was apparently riding her bike across Magnolia Avenue just south of La Palma Ave around 9:10 pm Saturday, when she was struck by a vehicle whose driver ran away rather than stop and aid the victim or take responsibility for his actions. Palacios was found lying in the street by one of her nieces, just a few blocks from her home.

She was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where she died at 12:46 am.

According to the Orange County Register, witnesses reported seeing a white pickup in the area at the time of the collision. Police are looking for the driver, who reportedly fled north on Magnolia, although the truck does not yet appear to have been tied directly to the crash.

A street view shows a six lane street, with the wide lanes typical of Orange County that can encourage speeding, especially at off hours such as a Saturday night. In addition, there don’t appear to be any crosswalks or traffic signals until Crescent, several blocks south of La Palma.

According to KABC-7, Palacios often brought food to homeless people living in the area, after once being homeless herself.

Anyone with information is urged to call Anaheim Police Department at 714/765-1991.

As I have said before, the driver of this or any other fatal hit-and-run should face a murder charge, on the assumption that the victim might have survived if she’d gotten help on time.

And they should be banned from driving for the rest of their lives.

This is the 75th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in Orange County, which compares to 12 for all of last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Daniella Palacios and all her family. 

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

Update: Riverside bike rider killed in collision, driver suspected of drug use

It’s happened again.

A bike rider in Riverside has been killed in a collision with a driver suspected of being under the influence of prescription drugs.

According to the Press-Enterprise, a cyclist was riding west on California Avenue at Van Buren Blvd when he was hit by a 2014 Nissan Versa headed north on Van Buren around 5:40 this morning.

The victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital. He has been identified only as a 61-year old Riverside resident pending notification of next of kin.

The collision is still under investigation; however, the 52-year old driver was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence.

Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Det. Ken Madsen at 951/826-8723.

This is the 74 bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Riverside County this year; that compares with 12 in the county for all of last year. It’s also the fourth bicycling death in the city of Riverside since the first of the year.

Update: The Press-Enterprise has identified the victim as Riverside resident Ronald Williams.

Update 2: According to the Press-Enterprise, 52-year old Gail Wilkins of Jurupa Valley was cited for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and released, after originally being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Ronald Williams and his loved ones.

Thanks to Mark Friis and Carlos Morales for the link.

Finally, the Foxen Canyon tragedy is complete, as a mother sits behind bars and a cyclist slowly slipped away

Maybe you remember.

It was a little over two-and-a-half years ago when a Los Olivos mother crossed the center line on Foxen Canyon Road near the city, and plowed her SUV into a group of cyclists while under the influence of prescription medication.

With her eight-month old daughter in the car.

Two of the eight cyclists, who were participating in a riding camp, were injured. One woman suffered arm and leg fractures; the other, 57-year old Gary Lynn Holmes, suffered serious brain injuries, and was still unresponsive when 32-year old Alicia Gilbert was charged in the collision three months later.

He never recovered.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors were clearly as incensed as local cyclists were, charging her with driving under the influence of a drug and causing bodily injury, failing to provide accurate information at the scene of an accident, child endangerment, false personification of another and driving with a suspended license.

Gilbert eventually accepted a plea bargain, pleading no contest to a single felony count of driving under the influence causing injury; she was sentenced to four years and four months in state prison.

Unlike most revolving door sentences that allow guilty parties to serve just a fraction of their time, sentencing guidelines require her to serve 85% of her sentence before she’s eligible for parole.

That works out to just over three years and eight months, making her up for parole in July, 2016; the state inmate locator confirms that she is still behind bars.

Her daughter, eight months old at the time of the collision, will be nearly five before she even has a chance to get out. And return to a daughter who will barely know her.

Meanwhile, Holmes, a former champion triathlete, remained unresponsive, and was returned to his Memphis-area hometown where he could be near family.

Sadly, Orange County Bicycle Coalition board member Barbara Danzi writes that he passed away earlier this month; a funeral notice confirms he died on October 15th.

She writes,

I knew Gary when I attended the same Tri camp in 2011. He was a great guy, full of stories of his 20+ Ironman races. He seemed to enjoy the training for the camaraderie as he would wait by the side of the road to cheer people on and take photos and video. His tri club members said that he would ride with anyone, anytime, anywhere, any speed.

As she points out, he was not from here.

But his life effectively ended as one of us, on a lonely, winding road outside of a picturesque California town, at the hands of a woman who couldn’t manage to stay out of her car when she was too stoned to drive.

There is simply no excuse, ever.

And the price paid by family and loved ones, of both the victim and his killer, is just too damn high.

My thanks to Barbara Danzi for the news, and my deepest prayers and sympathy for Gary Holmes and all his family and loved ones.

Morning Links: More criticism of the GHSA bike safety report; register now for SoCal state highway safety summit

More responses to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s report on bicycle safety, which we discussed here yesterday.

Bike Portland digs deep into the stats to show the report just doesn’t add up. Streetsblog says despite what the report says, the bike boom has been fantastic for bike safety.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking says those scary numbers the report cited for California add up to just 6.3 deaths per 10,000 bike commuters in the state, and that the real scary data is how little states spend on bike and pedestrian safety.

The Bike League says the tone deaf press release doesn’t even mention speeding or driving behavior, and yes, bicycle safety is a national issue. And People for Bikes suggests that the safety in numbers effect means biking has been getting dramatically safer as Americans ride more.

On the other hand, KPCC’s Airtalk keeps it superficial in discussing the matter.

……..

The State of California is updating its Strategic Highway Safety Plan, described as a “holistic, statewide plan” that coordinates the efforts of a wide range of organizations to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on the state’s roadways.

There are currently over 400 stakeholders participating in the process, from state and federal agencies to police departments, regional transportation agencies, tribal governments and private individuals.

As part of the update process, a Southern California summit will be held to collect public input on how to improve safety on the state’s roadways.

November 12, 2014
8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
California State University, Los Angeles
Golden Eagle Student Union
 

Advance registration is required no later than November 5th at

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1821831/California-SHSP-Development-Summits

Thanks to Alan for the heads-up.

……..

Local

Metro gets the ball rolling on South LA’s much needed Rail to River bikeway.

A writer for City Watch bizarrely asks if LA’s walkable streets and bike lanes are only for the creative class, before arguing that the streets will be incomplete if they don’t include street food vendors.

Writing for Streetsblog, former city council candidate Odysseus Bostick asks if Los Angeles can fix roads and sidewalks, invest in rail and bike share, and complete other needed infrastructure projects without raising taxes. Good question.

 

State

After five long years, Newport Beach unanimously approved the new Bicycle Master Plan. Maybe this will finally provide some much needed safety improvements down there.

San Diego plans to change the way residents get to work in the next 21 years.

A San Jose State University art exhibit documents a student’s bike tour down Highway 1.

 

National

Auto-centric magazine Road & Track surprisingly admits America is losing the war on distracted driving.

A cyclist rides a single speed from LA to Charleston SC in 27 days to raise awareness of human trafficking.

You can have Kevin Costner’s bike from American Flyers for a cool $40 grand. No offense, but for that price you can have damn near any bike you want.

Great idea, as the University of Louisville gives over 1,000 students $400 vouchers redeemable at local bike shops when they agree not to buy a campus parking permit for at least two years. Are you listening, parking-challenged UCLA?

A DC website asks if city residents will be willing to make the unpopular decisions necessary for Vision Zero to succeed. LA needs to ask itself the same question, now that it’s finally official policy here.

 

International

Cycling Weekly offers advice on how to ride in the rain, which is about as much winter as we ever get around here.

British employers should do more to ensure bike safety, as a significant proportion of road deaths and injuries are caused by work vehicles.

London’s Express offers ten, uh, make that six tips for safe winter riding.

Cycling Central argues that women riders don’t need their own Tour de France, but should have a pro tour of their own somewhere else. Probably because that would make it easier for TV and the press to ignore.

Bicycling is even booming in the land of Putin, as Russian cyclists bring bike culture to Moscow.

Life is cheap in Singapore, as a driver gets a whopping two weeks in jail for the death of a cyclist. But at least he won’t be driving — legally, anyway — for the next three years.

 

Finally…

No bikes involved, as Michigan man in a zombie costume tries to scare passing motorists, with predictable results; police are still looking for the driver. Speaking of which, you’ll need this bike for the coming zombie apocalypse.

And Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson reports on the 2nd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards in his own inimitable style, tongue planted deeply in cheek.

 

%d bloggers like this: