Archive for Bicycle Safety

Weekend Links: Cyclists help save missing woman, bike cop injured in fall, and Sac cyclists injured in car assault

Once again, bike riders are heroes.

Even if they are mentioned only in passing.

A Simi Valley woman was rescued Wednesday after her car went off the road in Latigo Canyon on Monday. She’d been missing for two days after driving to the beach for a run.

Her rescue came when a pair of unnamed cyclists heard her screams for help; something that anyone driving by would be unlikely to notice.

Motorists frequently complain about cyclists in the Malibu canyons.

But one owes them her thanks. If not her life.

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Even bike cops are at risk on our streets.

Especially if they don’t maintain their bikes properly.

KTLA-5 reports an LAPD officer suffered an apparent head injury while riding in a residential Sherman Oaks neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

According to KNBC-4, the officer was leaving the scene of a three-hour police standoff when the brakes failed on both his and his partner’s bikes as they rode down a steep hill. He touched wheels with his partner’s bike and was thrown to the pavement.

While his injury is described as serious, the department tweeted that it does not appear to be life threatening.

And yes, he was wearing a helmet.

However, brake failures on one bike — let alone both — raises serious maintenance issues. Let’s hope the department isn’t risking the safety of its officers by ignoring basic inspections and service on their bicycles.

Let’s hope he makes a full and fast recovery; thanks to Rick Risemberg for the heads-up.

And evidently, it was a bad day for bike-riding cops, as a St. Paul MN cop was right hooked by a driver looking the wrong way.

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It gets worse.

Wednesday we linked to a story about three Sacramento-area cyclists injured by a hit-and-run driver in a stolen car, who was later arrested with the help of a police dog.

Now it turns out he may have done it on purpose.

Thirty-eight-year old Alamar Houston faces multiple felony counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and DUI, as well as a host of other charges, for allegedly driving into the cyclists on purpose in two separate incidents, a quarter mile apart.

The Sacramento Bee reports he first swerved into a single rider, then plowed into two other cyclists from behind, leaving two teenage riders seriously injured, before fleeing the scene.

He pleaded not guilty to 17 separate charges on Thursday, while suggesting he needs mental health help.

No shit.

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KCBS-2 managed to track down a hit-and-run driver who struck a 12-year old bike rider in a collision caught on stomach-churning security video.

Even though bystanders came to help, the woman never got out of her car or asked how the boy was doing before driving off.

According to the station, she said she assumed everything was okay after seeing the victim get up. Never mind that he could have had major injuries that might not have shown up until later. Or that every driver is required to stop, render aid and exchange information after any collision, no matter how slight.

Police have given her two weeks to respond to their investigation. Which is about 13 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes too long.

But regardless of whether charges are filed, anyone who’d drive off after hitting a kid doesn’t belong behind the wheel. Ever.

Period.

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Sad news from the DC area, as a Brazilian police investigator was killed competing in a road race at the World Police and Fire Games. Reports indicate one rider blew a tire and crashed into two other cyclists; the other two victims are in critical condition.

No word on which rider had the blow-out.

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Lots of racing news as we gear up for Saturday’s start of the Tour de France.

The Wall Street Journal says the world’s best riders are going downhill — literally — putting their lives on the line to gain a few seconds. GoPro is about to go where no camera has gone before, into the peloton where it will hang out with Big Data.

In the absence of Cadel Evans, the Aussie delegation is stepping up as key lieutenants in the Tour de France, while Teejay van Garderen leads the American delegation.

The Telegraph looks at how motor doping works, and the risk it poses to pro racing. A representative for one unnamed rider reportedly asked the maker of an e-assist bike if one could be surreptitiously incorporated into his client’s bike.

Dutch police wisely decide not to disrupt Le Tour after all.

And bicycling’s longest running soap opera continues, as Lance’s girlfriend is ordered to testify, and Floyd Landis must turn over records to the courts.

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Local

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton offers good advice for new councilmember David Ryu.

Richard Risemberg says LA could learn from Long Beach, where bike boulevards and protected bikeways have resulted in increased sales for local business, rather than the disaster usually predicted by business owners in here in the City of Angels.

An LA bike commuter explores Copenhagen and Berlin, and finds Los Angeles does have a few advantages over its European cousins. But not many.

Police are looking for a bike thief who took a Trek Madone from Glendale Cycles out for a test ride and never came back, leaving behind someone else’s driver’s license and Visa card.

Sounds like fun. This month’s edition of the LACBC’s popular Sunday Funday Ride rolls Sunday morning for a tour of early LA history, led by board member Patrick Pascal.

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition will host a potluck on Monday.

 

State

LADOT Bike Blog talks with Caltrans about California’s new protected bike lane standards.

San Diego sheriff’s deputies bust three high-end bike thieves in an Encinitas hotel.

Mark your calendar for the second annual Big Bear Cycling Festival later this month.

Santa Barbara opens a new Bike Center to serve transit users.

A San Francisco cyclist was the victim of a double hit-and-run; she was hit by a driver fleeing from a collision with a bus.

 

National

Streetsblog explains the hows and whys that kept protected bike lanes and intersections from being implemented for 40 years after the first one hit the streets in Davis CA, laying the blame on organized groups of vehicular cyclists.

A writer for Mobility Lab says there’s no right or wrong way to be a cyclist. Seriously, ride how, where, and in and on whatever you like. Just do it safely and legally.

Bike Portland talks with outgoing Bike League president Andy Clarke.

Bicycling looks at devices that could save your life in a riding emergency.

Zagster raises funds to take their bikeshare program nationwide.

Former Arizona congresswoman and shooting victim Gabby Giffords is one of us.

A 79-year old Las Vegas man continues to ride 12 to 15 miles every day; he’s been riding the same route since he retired 28 years ago.

A Colorado bike rider was shot in the leg with a pellet gun from a passing car.

South Dakota cyclists get a shiny new three-foot passing law, which smartly increases to six feet at speeds over 35 mph.

Indianapolis cyclists fear the city’s support for bicycling will leave office along with their outgoing bike-friendly mayor.

Local officials in Massachusetts are offended by bike lanes mandated by the state on a highway leading to a casino.

Police have made a second arrest in the road rage attack on a Pennsylvania cyclist and his girlfriend by a pair of machete-wielding teens, who also broke all of the ground floor windows in the couple’s home and were trying to crawl in when police arrived.

Philadelphia bike commuters are about to get covered bike parking at regional train stations.

A writer for the Wall Street Journal remembers a dedicated cyclist who lost his life in an collision with another bike rider while running in New York’s Central Park. His bike-riding widow calls on cyclists to accept our responsibilities and protect the rights of other people.

Not everyone likes the idea of a 76-mile bikeway through the Everglades.

 

International

An Ontario letter writer says not only should bicyclists be licensed, but it should apply to children, as well.

With the help of friends, including stunt master Danny MacAskill, off-road legend Martyn Ashton gets back on a bike for the first time since he was paralyzed from the waist down in 2013. It’s worth watching the video, if only to see the huge smile on his face.

British bike scribe Carlton Reid says northern UK cities are falling behind by catering to motorists alone.

In an important and chilling read, London’s Guardian looks at the toxic bias against bicyclists in the media, and how it’s led to potentially deadly sabotage of cyclists.

A Scottish woman gets five years for killing a cyclist while chatting on her cell phone; she allegedly deleted the record of the call in an attempted cover-up.

A new documentary looks at bi-polar former world pursuit champ Graeme Obree and his effort to break the bicycle speed record on an odd bike he designed and built himself.

It’s five years in prison for the taxi driver who killed South African Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander. Which is four years more than his blade running fellow countryman served for shooting his girlfriend.

 

Finally…

Bad karma. The same day an Ohio prosecutor crashed the bike he got from a bike riding judge, the judge wiped out on his new one; both injured their ribs and a shoulder. VH1 is looking for 150 sets of bicycling twins to set a tandem riding record this month.

And your next bike could be a three-wheeled T-Rex.

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Enjoy your holiday weekend; the forecast promises near-perfect riding weather.

Just be careful out there and ride defensively. Drivers are likely to be focused on finding a parking space for the fireworks or near the beach rather than looking out for you.

 

Update: Arrest made in horrifying high-speed Highland Park fatal hit-and-run

North Figueroa was supposed to be safer by now.

Had LADOT been allowed to carry out it’s plans, the street would have undergone a road diet. Not just to install bike lanes, but to calm dangerous high-speed traffic.

Now a bike rider is dead, the victim of a speeding hit-and-run driver.

According to the LA Times, two bike riders were crossing Figueroa at Marmion Way in the crosswalk at 3:02 am when one was hit by car traveling at what police estimated as 80 mph, based on witness reports.

At that speed, there is virtually no chance of survival. Especially since the victim was dragged several hundred feet underneath the car as it sped away.

Witnesses say the driver never braked, before or after hitting the victim.

The second rider wasn’t struck. No word on whether they were riding or walking in the crosswalk.

The victim has not been publicly identified; he is described only as a man in his 20s.

The car’s bumper was left lying in the road, which should make the car easy to identify if it can be found. Police are looking for a small black sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima.

There should be an automatic $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver, based on the hit-and-run reward program recently passed by the city council.

Despite overwhelming support in public meetings, plans for a road diet to improve safety on North Figueroa were halted by Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Cedillo claimed he was canceling the plans for safety reasons, an argument this morning’s wreck has proven wrong.

Now he has to answer to the victim’s family. And the rest of us.

This is the 34th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in LA County; it’s also the eighth in the City of Los Angeles.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

According to KTLA-5, a witness tipped police to the location of the abandoned vehicle, which had biological matter from the victim on it.

That led them to 21-year old Alexis Virto, who was found asleep in bed with his girlfriend at 7:15 am, roughly four hours after the collision.

Virto was still drunk when he was taken into custody. He insisted that he wasn’t the driver; however, he had injuries consistent with a crash, and windshield debris clinging to his hair.

He was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder and felony drunk driving with great bodily injury.

The LA Times reports the victim is a 33-year old man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

The Times also says there were 68 collisions that resulted in severe injuries to bicyclists on that stretch of North Figueroa between 2002 and 2012; there were also nine pedestrians killed in that time period.

Meanwhile, anti-bike Figueroa activist and Boulevard Sentinel editor Tom Topping had this to say:

Why was this person on the street at 3am? Usually only meth-head criminals looking for something to steal are riding around on bikes at that hour.

Update 2: The LA District Attorney’s office has finally identified the victim as Jose Luna, also known as Bizzy.

According to the press release, his alleged killer, Alexis Virto, has been charged with one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08% blood alcohol content causing injury and hit and run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person. Not surprisingly, he entered a plea of not guilty to each count.

Virto reported drove the length of two football fields with Luna on the hood of his car.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose “Bizzy” Luna and his family. 

Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to this story. And thanks to fig4all and Terri Moore for their help in IDing the victim.

Morning Links: Brake-checking driver harasses cyclist; curb-jumping drivers don’t get Redondo bike lanes

The problem with sharrows is that they put you right in the path of drivers.

Impatient, road-raging and brake-checking drivers, at times, as cyclist Michael Schinderling learned out the hard way while riding on Fountain Ave in Los Angeles.

The driver first honks, then repeatedly slams on his brakes in front of him. Even though Schinderling was riding exactly where the sharrows indicate he should be.

The big problem with LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance is that it’s so hard to get proof that a driver deliberately antagonized a rider.

But this looks like an open-and-shut case.

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Caught on video: Those new Redondo Beach separated bike lanes seem to be working well. Except for curb-jumping drivers who can’t seem to figure out why the traffic lane is green and there are so many bikes in it.

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American cyclist Tyler Farrar is heading back to the Tour de France as part of the first African-based pro team, while Tejay van Garderen is older and wiser and says he’s ready for the challenge. The Wall Street Journal asks why no Latin American rider has won the Tour de France, as Nairo Quintana attempts to become the first.

Meanwhile, former pro team leader Bjarne Riis chose to ignore doping by his riders. Or more likely, tacitly encouraged it, if not openly.

Cycling Weekly looks at the best bike tans in the peloton. Dutch police evidently feel the best way to get a new collective bargaining agreement is to delay riders in the Tour de France, thus ensuring it won’t besmirch their country again.

And sad news from the UK, as a British bike racer was killed in a collision with another rider last weekend.

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Local

The LA-area’s Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) wants your input on a new regional transportation plan.

State Assemblymember Richard Bloom and two Westside councilmembers say Metro is going the wrong way with plans for a bike share system that will be incompatible with systems opening soon in Long Beach and Santa Monica, and as well as systems planned for West Hollywood, UCLA and yes, the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

San Gabriel gets a new bike lane on Las Tunas Drive.

Santa Clarita opens a new 1.5 mile stretch of the Santa Clarita River Trail, including a bike bridge over the Los Angeles aqueduct.

A Long Beach councilwoman will host a bike safety program for kids from 9 to 17 years old next week.

The second Tour de Laemmle will roll on July 19th, as Greg Laemmle invites you to ride with him on all or part of a 125+ mile tour of all the Laemmle Theaters.

 

State

Santa Ana conducts a reverse road diet, forcing long-time residents out of their homes to make room for an added lane and bike lanes on Warner Ave, as the OC Register says evicted residents will have to be made whole.

A bike rider suffered major injuries in a collision with a pickup in Anaheim on Tuesday; a comment on Bike Forums suggests the victim was riding in the crosswalk over the onramp to the 57. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the link.

Big oops from the Bay, as San Francisco retracts a report that a new bikeway saw a 651% jump in bike traffic; the actual figures ranged from a 12% to 62% increase depending on time of day. You’d think someone would have noticed that those numbers seemed just a tad high before sending out the press release.

Oakland is planning to trade traffic lanes for bike lanes, with twelve road diets proposed for the next three years; needless to say, bike riders are thrilled while motorists are worried. Maybe Oakland could explain how the process works to Santa Ana.

The Marin tech exec who viciously beat a driver who clipped him with his mirror has been found guilty of felony battery and misdemeanor assault; he faces up to four years in prison. Seriously, never resort to violence. Period.

 

National

Tragic news from Las Vegas, as a 16-year old boy riding without ID was hit by a car last week; he died the next day before family members learned about the wreck and he could be identified.

A Utah driver has plead guilty to intentionally running down a bike rider with whom he had an adversarial relationship.

Evidently, the penalty in Texas for riding a bike without lights is to get Tased, then beaten after falling off your bike. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

An Iowa man is back on his bike six months after losing a leg to complications from diabetes; he’ll be riding in the Tour de Cure this weekend.

Needless to say, Chicago business owners are worried about the loss of parking with the city’s first curb-protected bike lane; Chicagoist asks if it will be good for business. Bikes are usually good for business. And there’s something seriously wrong if your customers won’t walk a few extra feet to do business with you.

A Maine driver is accused of intentionally running down a 10-year old boy on a bike over a dispute with the kid’s mother; unbelievably, the man was released on just $1,000 bail — despite using his car as a weapon to attack a child.

Just days after an LA bike rider was attacked with a machete in an attempted bike theft, a machete-swinging road-raging PA teenager attacked a cyclist and his fiancée, who used his bike to defend themselves.

The Baltimore Sun says bike helmets aren’t ugly anymore, while The Week offers a look at six bike helmets of the future. Can we just get one that actually protects against concussions and other serious brain injuries in real world collisions?

A Georgia website offers advice on how to get a red light to change for your bike.

A cyclist rides 1,400 miles up the East Coast while towing his dog and a cargo trailer.

 

International

Here we go again, as a Facebook page devoted to shaming law-breaking Victoria BC cyclists devolves into a hotbed of anti-bike hatred.

Two Edmonton councilors call for ripping out bike lanes on three streets, calling them unsafe and underutilized.

Cyclists halt London traffic to protest the death of yet another young woman killed by a truck while riding to work. Although not everyone was willing to show a little respect.

Caught on video: The UK’s “vigilante cyclist” catches a woman texting behind the wheel with two kids in her car. I see something similar almost every time I ride. Like a woman who was steering with her knees as she texted with her kids in the back seat.

A pair of Good Samaritans pitch in to replace a British nurse’s bike after it was stolen from outside her apartment.

A Brit bike rider gets a year in jail for killing a 73-year old woman in a collision while riding a brakeless BMX.

Switzerland is telling e-bike riders to slow down, following a rise in single-vehicle bike wrecks due to riders misjudging their speed and stopping times.

India gets its first cycling café in the “Detroit of India” even though the city doesn’t have a single bike lane.

Australian bike riders may soon be allowed to ride on sidewalks in the state of Victoria, but could face on-the-spot fines for using a handheld phone. So what happens if they can’t pay? Are they arrested on the spot?

“Selfish” Aussie cyclists are accused of illegally riding in high-speed bus-only lanes to avoid slower bikeways.

Don’t ride under the influence in Japan, don’t report a falling down drunk bike rider to the police, and don’t ride with groceries on your handlebars.

 

Finally…

It takes a bold thief to ride off with a bike cop’s bike as she stood just a few feet away. Caught on video: an Ohio bird defends his territory against a cyclist. Or maybe he just doesn’t like they guy’s taste in bike helmets.

And a new study from the University of Duh confirms that marijuana use impairs driving. Next up, a study confirming that it gives people the munchies, too.

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I need to find a better name for the Morning Links, since I seem to be temporally challenged these days. Chain Links is too cutsie, while Bike News seems a little dull.

Any suggestions?

Suspected DUI driver kills adult trike rider and her dog in Garden Grove

No one is safe from intoxicated drivers.

Not women on adult tricycles. Or the dogs they carry with them.

That’s exactly what happened last night in Garden Grove, as  suspected DUI driver killed a cyclist, and her little dog, too.

According to the Orange County Register, a woman believed to be in her 50s was riding her adult tricycle eastbound on Chapman Ave near Faye Ave, carrying a small dog in the bike’s basket, when she was struck from behind by a pickup around 9:45 pm.

One of the Register’s photos from the scene shows damage to the hood of the truck, suggesting she was thrown onto it by the force of the impact, while KTLA-5 says the dog was thrown several feet away, still inside the basket.

No word on whether she was using lights or reflectors after dark.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene; she has not been publicly identified. Her dog died later at an Orange County Animal Services clinic.

The driver, 58-year old Rita Faye McLaughlin of Santa Ana, remained at the scene, and was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI after failing a field sobriety test.

Anyone with information is urge to call the Garden Grove Police at 714/741-5800.

This is the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County; that compares with 10 in the county this time last year. It’s the first bicycling death in Garden Grove since November, 2012.

Update: A comment from the victim’s sister identifies her as 55-year old Suzi V. Ramage, along with her dog Sonny. 

It’s the second family member she’s lost to a drunk driver; her son was killed in 2003.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Suzi V. Ramage and her loved ones.

 

Hemet mountain biker found dead on trail after being reported missing

Police have finally made the connection that seemed to be obvious.

The Press-Enterprise reported yesterday that a man had been found dead on a bike trail near Hemet on Sunday, a day after a mountain biker had been reported missing in the same area.

Yet even after authorities identified the victim, they wouldn’t say if he was the person who had been reported by his family when he failed to return from a Saturday off-road ride.

That changed tonight when police finally confirmed that 33-year old Hemet resident Shane Gainer had been found dead after riding in the hills a mile north of Simpson Park.

Police located his car in the park’s parking lot, then conducted a search of the area before finding his body in a ravine off one of the trails in the area.

No cause of death was evident; the Press-Enterprise reports it could take up to six weeks to get the results of an autopsy and toxicology report.

However, the paper reports temperatures in the area reached 100 degrees on Saturday, which could easily have resulted in dehydration or heat stroke.

This is the 32nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County. That compares with eight in the county this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Shane Gainer and his family.

 

LA bike rider attacked with machete, bad news from Hemet, plus Bicycle Coffee and pleasant private bike cops

In one of the most horrifying attacks in recent memory, a Los Angeles man may have kept his bike, but lost one of his thumbs.

And nearly his life.

According to multiple sources, a 43-year old man was walking — or possibly riding — his bicycle near the intersection of West 12th Street and South Burlington Avenue around 12:30 am Sunday, when he was attacked by four men who tried to steal his bike and wallet.

One of them hacked at him with a two-foot machete, resulting in a severe cuts to both arms, as well as a fractured skull, in addition to having his left thumb cut off; early reports suggest he was likely to lose his right hand, as well.

Despite his injuries, he somehow managed to run a few blocks to get help; at last report, he was hospitalized in critical condition. However, he was able to keep both his bike and his money.

The attackers were described only as young adult men, possibly 18 – 21 years old, who fled in a green four-door sedan. According to police, the attack did not appear to be gang related.

For some reason, the victim was initially described as an 18-year old man before police corrected the report.

Let’s hope he recovers quickly, and that police catch his attackers.

And let this be a reminder that no bike is worth your life.

………

Brace yourself for bad news.

A man was found dead on Hemet biking trail on Sunday, hours after a 33-year old mountain biker was reported missing.

The victim has not been identified yet, and here’s no confirmation yet that it’s the missing cyclist. But it doesn’t look good.

Hopefully, we’ll learn more soon.

Update: Authorities have identified the man found dead as 33-year old Hemet resident Shane Gainer, but for some reason, won’t confirm if he is the missing cyclist. No cause of death has been determined. 

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Bicycle-Coffee-1Now let’s switch to a happier subject.

On Sunday, my wife and I made a short trip to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market at Ivar and Selma, just a few blocks from the Hollywood and Vine Metro station.

Sans bikes, since she doesn’t ride. And without the Corgi, since even well-behaved dogs aren’t allowed under LA County health rules.

The purpose of our journey was to find the elusive Bicycle Coffee Company.

Elusive, because the LA branch at Santa Monica and Western is only open Friday though Sunday. And despite our best efforts, we hadn’t been able to get there when the doors were open.

Bicycle-Coffee-3On the other hand, we knew they were at the farmer’s market every Sunday, just a short subway ride way from our apartment.

It took some searching to find their Nishiki-towed bicycle cart — yes, there’s a reason for their name — hidden back behind the other vendors near the Arclight, nee Cinerama, Theater, and just in front of Umami Burgers.

We left with a couple bags of what is reputed to be some of the area’s best coffee, each accompanied by a free cup of joe with purchase.

And the knowledge that next time, we can just order our beans and they’ll deliver by bike within a roughly 10-mile radius.

……..

On the way out, I stopped to admire a bike belonging to one of the security guards with the BID Patrol at the farmer’s market.

Rosales-1And found myself talking with retired LAPD officer and dedicated cyclist Jim Rosales, who was happy to point out the 29” wheels and disc brakes, as well as the rear rack for the panniers he usually uses but decided to leave at home that day.

We talked about his volunteer work patrolling the Santa Monica mountains, the road bike he rides in his spare time, and the fixie he’s currently building. As well as his favorite bike shops, including the Performance Bike his brother-in-law wrenches for in Pasadena.

Kanagi-bikeAll in all, a pleasant talk with another rider. And one more example of a conversation that would never have happened behind the wheel.

Then just as we were about to leave, I noticed the pink handgrips on his partner’s bike. So he called her over, and fellow BID security officer Cortney Kanagi was happy to show us her matching pink handcuffs and the pink grip on her handgun.

Proof that you can be feminine while riding a bike.

Or subduing a suspect.

Kanagi-2

Former OC lawyer gets max sentence in drug-fueled death of bike rider

Four years.

That was the sentence a judge finally issued Friday, after repeated delays, for the death of bike rider Eric Billings in Mission Viejo 27 months earlier.

Former immigration attorney Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti, who goes by the name of Hayley, had unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March of this year.

According to the OC DA’s office, she had a near-lethal dose of Xanax and Suboxone in her system when she ran down Billings’ bike from behind on March 15, 2013, as he rode in a marked bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway.

My News LA reports that investigators found a bottle of Xanax in her car following the collision; despite being filled just two days earlier, there were already 75 pills missing.

She reportedly ignored several text messages prior to the wreck from friends who begged her to stop driving and sober up. Yet despite claims that she was screaming and “pulling her hair out” following the crash, her first call was to her pharmacist, not 911.

She had faced a possible sentence of 16 months to four years for the conviction. She was also sentenced to an additional three years, to be served concurrently, after being caught with Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, while she was behind bars.

In addition, Fahkrai-Bayrooti’s license to practice law has been suspended by the California Bar, and stands to be permanently revoked after her sentencing.

My News LA reports that her defense attorney — at least the third one she has had in this case — claimed she had been dependent on prescription drugs since an “early, early age,” and may have early onset dementia as a result.

She expressed remorse at the hearing while pleading for mercy, saying she is no longer in denial about the damage she has caused. Although that denial appeared to be in full force in comments she left on this site just one day after pleading guilty.

A press release from the DA’s office quotes Billing’s wife from the victim’s statements given at an earlier hearing, offering just a hint of the loss her family has suffered.

The victim’s wife said in part, “The void that is left by this tragic and senseless accident is overwhelming. The fact that it isn’t just an accident, but rather an accident committed by one under the influence, is ironic in that Eric never had a drink in his life, would not even take a Tylenol, and would barely take a pain killer after surgery.” She went on to say, “Although I have chosen not to be bitter and have forgiven this woman, I would like her to have consequences for her actions.”

Fahkrai-Bayrooti now faces a long stay in state prison because she didn’t get the help she so clearly needed before she took an innocent man’s life.

Let’s hope she finally gets it while she’s behind bars.

And is never, ever allowed to drive again.

 

Newport Beach bike rider dies after fall, apparently due to natural causes

Another cyclist has died on the streets of Southern California.

For once, though, no one seems to be at fault.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a 61-year old Costa Mesa man apparently fell off his bike while riding in Newport Beach; sadly, he passed away after being taken to Hoag Hospital.

The Orange County Register reports that police responded to word of a collision on Jamboree Road north of San Joaquin Hills Road at 10:32 am Thursday.

When they arrived, they found the victim in the roadway with no sign of a collision. He appeared to have suffered some sort of medical emergency and stuck his head while falling; no word on whether he was wearing a helmet.

It’s not clear whether his death was due to the head injury or some other cause. An autopsy will be performed later this week.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County. That compares to 47 in SoCal this time last year, and ten in the county.

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

 

Guest Post: Testing to Destruction

It’s one of the most popular posts ever on this site. And I didn’t even write it. 

A review of ultra-bright bike taillights by Mark Goodley continues to draw readers on a daily basis, over two years after it was written.

The survivor of a near fatal collision, Mark has made it his mission in life to keep others from suffering the same fate. And has put his background as a product design engineer and a licensed pro racing mechanic to use to study how bike collisions happen, and how to prevent them.

……..

Common to physicists and engineers is the requirement to test a product and/or design to total destruction. First we test in computer simulations (via FEA, CFD, or Multi-physics) software, Second; by intentionally pushing well beyond the design limits in real world tests, to produce catastrophic failures.

This is how we learn and improve our designs, and develop an understanding between our theoretical software modeling, and it’s correlation to the physical entity/item/product.

How and why this process is highly relevant to understanding and preventing cycling fatalities follows below.

After countless examinations of police reports, interviews, and scouring though all available data, I started a couple plus years ago with a very simple theory.

IF you ride your bike on roads and streets, with (minimum standard/charged) Ultra Bright Lights, you won’t get hit or killed (from behind at least) by a vehicle. (The bio-psycho-physio-logical “whys and how’s” this works is found in separate articles.)

The theory has seemingly held for over 500,000 bicycle-car related accidents, injuries and deaths in the US over a ten year period. Until this past week, I haven’t been able to find a single verified instance (data collection is ongoing) where a cyclist was hit from behind, while flashing Ultra Bright lights. Half a Million Cycling Injuries and Fatalities (without lights) to 0 (ZERO, with lights). 500,000: 000000.

Even if these numbers could be off by one or two accidents, the long term trend is evident, striking, and alarming.

That statistic changed this past week. Two men were killed (reported by bikinginla.com) in unrelated “hit from behind” accidents in the Los Angeles area while likely/evidently riding with lights. Begging the question; what made these two different from all the others? What broke down? Is the theory disproved?

So let’s look at the preliminary facts in each of these two fatalities that “broke” the theory.

  1. Each man was riding his bike shortly before, and long after midnight, between roughly 12:00AM and 3:00 AM.
  2. Each man was riding on high speed streets (one on a freeway off-ramp, the other in twisting and turning Fairfax) streets with car sidewalk parking), both without bike lanes.
  3. Each man was Hispanic and over 45 years old.
  4. Each man may have had (only) one bicycle light on the rear when they were hit.
  5. One man was very possibly killed by a drunk/drugged driver.

This is what we’ll call/term Testing a Theory to Destruction.”

Look at what was necessary to “Break the Theory.” Do you see anything even remotely resembling your riding? NO, of course not. How many of us actually get on our bikes after midnight to take a ride?

You had to have a large number of beyond “Perfect Storm” scenarios in each case to kill these two men. An old pilot axiom is: It’s not the 1st or 2nd mistake that kills you, but the 5th or 6th will.

IF anything, these two (very sad) fatalities PROVE the point. To get hit or injured by a car while riding with Ultra Bright lights, a lot of things have to go wrong, all at the same time.

In Summary; what have we learned?

  1. Don’t ride late at night at all, especially after midnight when even the best of drivers are going to be tired, never mind when drunk-drugged up drivers are going to congregate… after the bars close.
  2. Don’t ride on very dangerous roads that are going to be a problem, even under the best of circumstances.   I personally have known the Fairfax area for many decades… and would never ride a bike on it; at least not willingly. IF you HAVE absolutely no option but to ride these streets, take extra precautions. Ride at safe(r) times, with EXTRA Ultra Bright Lights, Don’t ride in black/dark colors, and Still ride at least 5 feet away from parked cars (to prevent getting doored, which is equally life threatening).
  3. Take up the WHOLE lane if you MUST, until it is Safe to move back over to the right. There are some areas I still will only ride the sidewalk.
  4. Be attentive at all times; DON’T BE TOO PROUD to PULL OVER and STOP your bike and WAIT for traffic to pass before crossing dangerous, high speed areas. ESPECIALLY FREEWAY/Highway ON-OFF RAMPS.
  5. Ride with multiple rear lights, (3) three is preferable to “paint” a clear 3D picture in space for a(ny) driver’s mind to immediately identify your location, bearing, and speed. The best lights can be clearly seen and easily recognized from over 1/2 a mile away!!! (in broad DAYlight).   Distance is Time, Time is Early Warning, Early Warning is allowing a driver time to plan (rather than milliseconds to react) and hence accident avoidance, and That is Life.
  6. 500,000:000002 are still pretty good odds… Especially when Your life is on the line. Play the numbers.
  7. STAY ALIVE! ride ULTRA BRIGHT… DAY and night…

……..

Stay tuned. We’ll have another post from Mark next week.

 

 

Morning Links: Hermosa backs safety improvements; San Diego details deaths in the county, including on bikes

A reader sends word that Hermosa Beach is backing up its commitment to bike safety.

Literally.

A married couple were exploring the new bikeways on Harbor and Herondo linking Redondo Beach and Hermosa when they came upon some odd markings on the street next to a new bike lane.

Photo by Allison Sheridan

Photo by Allison Sheridan

A quick look online confirmed they are reverse-angled parking spots, designed to improve bike safety by increasing visibility for drivers as they pull out of the spots (scroll down to pages 26-29). Although I neglected to ask just which street they were on.

I’m told these could be the first reverse-angle parking in the South Bay. And one of the few anywhere in the LA area.

So hats off to Hermosa for reversing the usual risky angled parking to help keep riders safer.

Update: A comment from Margaret says the street is Herondo; this is what it used to look like. And Vince points out that the south half the street is actually in Redondo Beach, so they should get credit, as well.

Thanks to Margaret for the heads-up and the correction.

……..

Philip Young of the San Diego Wheelmen forwards a series of annual reports from the San Diego Medical Examiner examining the causes of deaths in the county for the years 2011 through 2013; he notes the 2014 report hasn’t been released yet.

According to Young, the reports show nine bicyclists were killed in San Diego County in 2011, ten in 2012 and seven in 2013.

Although my records indicate a higher bicycling fatality rate for each year — twelve in 2011, eleven in 2012 and eight in 2013.

I haven’t had a chance to dig through the reports to figure out the reason for the discrepancy yet. However, they may classify bicycling fatalities more conservatively than my records; I include anyone who was riding or walking a bike at the time of their death, including solo falls and bike-related medical conditions, as well as traffic collisions.

Update: Ed Ryder sends word that SWITRS shows 15 bicycling fatalities in 2011, which makes more sense.

I track fatalities primarily through news reports, as well as other sources, so my records may undercount the actual totals if the death of a cyclist never makes the news; that often happens if the victim dies several days or weeks after a collision.

The real question is, why does the Medical Examiner’s report undercount bicycling fatalities for that year by over 50 percent?

……..

The Women’s Tour of Britain is helping to bridge the equality gap in pro cycling, while a writer for Britain’s Guardian says it’s time for cycling to lose the podium girls.

Let alone bikini girls at women’s races.

Twenty-three-year old Astana women’s pro Anna Solovey has been canned by the team for “unprofessional behavior;” she was previously banned for two years for doping before she was even in her 20s.

And you’d think someone who once sponsored a major bike race would get that 72 years old isn’t too old to race, let alone ride. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

……..

Local

A Metro survey shows 37% of LA voters think separated bike paths are very important, while only 10% say they’re not important at all.

Pasadena gets that intersections are dangerous places for bike riders; the city is painting a new bike lane that remains green all the way through the intersection of Marengo and Orange Grove.

CiclaValley tells you why to get excited about the upcoming LA River Ride, set to roll on the 28th. And if you’re not too worn out from the River Ride, join CICLE, the Bike Oven and Metro for the Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Ride later that day.

 

State

Dozens of Santa Ana homes will be demolished to widen a dangerous Santa Ana street, including wider medians and sidewalks. And yes, bike lanes. I guess performing a road diet and keeping the houses would be out of the question in auto-centric OC.

Oceanside police will team up to compete in RAAM; the team competition starts on Saturday.

A San Diego County supervisor may have committed an ethics violation in nixing a bike lane that could have affected the value of a restaurant he’s a partner in. Although as a new study shows, he may have shot himself in the foot.

Coachella Valley bike riders are urged to donate old bikes, locks and helmets to benefit the local Boys and Girls Clubs.

 

National

A writer for People for Bikes says you don’t have to give up your car to live mostly car-free. I’ve put less than three hundred miles a year on mine for the last five years.

Someone is groping and harassing women riding on Phoenix bike paths; one woman was punched in the face by a homeless man.

Boulder CO moves forward with right sizing three major streets to make room for wider bike lanes.

A Chicago runner and firefighter makes a commitment not to use his cell phone when he drives.

Don’t believe everything your GPS tells you. A Minnesota girl learned that the hard way after her smartphone guided her and her bike onto a freeway.

Evidently, it takes concrete barriers to keep New York drivers from parking in bike lanes, green or otherwise. Maybe we could use some here to keep cops out.

Bike commuting in the DC area jumped 450 percent in just three years, while auto commuting has remained steady; now another area county plans to ramp up their bike network.

 

International

Twelve reasons why you should take a foldie when you explore Cuba. Which is sort of legal for Americans these days. Visiting Cuba, that is.

A group of 17 friends will team together to finish the epic ride a UK man had planned before he was killed in a collision earlier this year.

A British woman can ride a bike for the first time after being fitted with the world’s most lifelike bionic hand.

An Irish mom says yes, cyclists face dangers on the roads, but pedestrians run a risk from us, as well.

Tim Robbins casually rides a bike in Milan. Just don’t ask him about The Shawshank Redemption.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is riding his new bicycle on his Bulgarian set as he recovers from knee surgery.

Reckless Japanese bike riders can now be required to take safety lessons, and can face steep financial liability for injuring others.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Eating behind the wheel is one thing; eating cereal out of a bowl is another. Eight years old may be just a tad too young for a naked Brit bike ride, by about a decade or so.

And when your name is Outlaw, it’s probably not a good idea to steal a bike, unlocked or otherwise.

Or anything else, for that matter.

 

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