Archive for Car vs Bike

Morning Links: Sad Fiesta Island news, for and against the 3-foot law, and a new reflector could stop cars sooner

We have a lot to catch up on after yesterday’s unexcused absence,* so let’s get to it.

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Bad news from San Diego. The wife of the cyclist critically injured by an allegedly drunk and/or high wrong way driver on Fiesta Island says he’s on a breathing machine and fighting for his life; if he survives, he’ll be paralyzed from the waist down.

Sounds like prayers or good wishes are in order, whichever you’re comfortable with.

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The family of fallen randonneur Matthew O’Neill encourages drivers to observe the new three-foot passing law and change lanes to pass a cyclist.

Meanwhile, a website uses video from the Rock Store climb, aka The Snake, to suggest the three-foot law will make driving impossible, even though passing at an unsafe distance has always been illegal; the only thing this law changes is specifying just what a minimum safe distance is. And the rider in question is legally taking the lane on what is clearly a substandard lane.

Bottom line, as a side-by-side comparison of these two stories make clear, observing the three-foot law is a question of safety — that is, someone’s life — versus a minor inconvenience to impatient motorists.

I know which side I fall on.

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This could be a big step forward in bike safety, as a new reflector tricks the Crash Avoidance System found in many new cars into seeing a cyclist or pedestrian as being closer or larger than they really are. The makers are looking for a strategic partner to help bring it to the right markets; this could be a great investment for someone with the right knowledge.

And yes, I want one. Now.

Thanks to new ROAD Magazine editor Chris Klibowitz for the heads-up.

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Time to loosen up those wallets. The Kickstarter for BikinginLA sponsor AnyKicks has just over $18,000 to raise with two weeks to go.

Let’s push ‘em over the top and show bike shops and manufacturers that advertising on here really works. And fund a deserving project while we’re at it.

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Evidently, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, either. The father of the teenage driver who got off using the affluenza defense was arrested last month for impersonating a police officer.

If you’ll recall, his 16-year old spawn got away with killing four people in an under-aged drunken crash when the judge agreed his parents were too rich for him to be expected to take responsibility for his own actions.

Thanks to the Witch on a Bicycle for the link.

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Elia Viviani wins the fourth stage of the USA Pro Challenge after retiring rider Jens Voigt fades after a 40 km solo breakaway; that other famous bike rider from my hometown keeps the leader’s jersey.

Is it just me, or is there less interest in the Pro Challenge this year? There seems to be a lot less press coverage this time around. Except for the drunk driver who somehow made it onto the closed course.

Italy’s economic woes lead to the merger of the Cannondale/Liquigas and Slipstream teams. And Vavel previews the first seven stages of the Vuelta, along with the seven that follow.

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Local

Boyle Heights residents worry the new Eastside extension of the Downtown CicLAvia route will lead to increased gentrification, while LA’s incredibly popular open streets event officially comes to the San Fernando Valley next March.

A ride marshal is ticketed — and may have been intentionally doored by police — for running a red light on the Clitoral Mass ride.

The LA Times looks at the new Timbuk2 store on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

Sweet Ride USA invites you to explore the intersection of bikes and sweets in Little Tokyo this Saturday. The Santa Monica Museum of Arts’ Tour Da Arts rolls on Sunday, as does the LACBC’s Sunday Funday ride through Carson.

A chef famed around the world for his cuisine and temper gets his new bike on at Cynergy.

The bike friendly Fiesta La Ballona takes place in Culver City this weekend.

LACBC local chapter Bike Walk Glendale sponsors Operation Firefly to give free bike lights to riders without them.

 

State

The state legislature passes a bill allowing local jurisdictions to tack an extra $5 onto vehicle registration fees to fund bicycle infrastructure. But what are the chances of actually getting 2/3 of drivers to tax themselves to fund bike projects?

Laguna Beach votes to explore ways to ease congestion and improve bike and pedestrian access on Laguna Canyon Road.

The Bike League profiles BikeSD’s own Sam Ollinger, who has quickly risen to become one of the leading bike advocates — not women’s bike advocate, thank you — in the US.

An Ohio man pleads no contest in the alleged DUI hit-and-run that took the life of a Chico State cyclist.

The EPA honors a 116-mile bike path from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake; when a new segment opens, it will be 75% complete.

 

National

CNN asks if Lance’s lies and bullying can be forgiven. The former, maybe; the latter, not so much.

Protected bike lanes are rapidly spreading throughout the US.

Our own Boyonabike looks at riding in bike friendly Portlandia.

Life is cheap in Utah, when not even killing a bike riding judge while driving distracted is enough to get authorities to take traffic crime seriously, as the driver gets off with a lousy $670 fine and six months probation.

Seventy-year old basketball great Rick Barry is slowly recovering from a bad solo bike crash in Colorado.

University of Chicago Hospitals illegally applies stickers to discourage legal bike parking.

A New York cyclist is fined $675 and loses her drivers license for running a red light on her bike and not having a bell — $5 more than some states fine drivers for killing someone.

The Washington Post asks if bike riders should be allowed to roll stop signs. The obvious answer is yes, but good luck convincing most motorists. And voters.

 

International

A writer for the Vancouver Sun says bike lanes will do more to protect cyclists than helmets.

Toronto authorities exonerate a local police department on accusations that they whitewashed a case involving the wife of an officer who killed a cyclist. Even though they failed to test the driver for drugs or alcohol and allowed her to drive home while the investigation at the scene was still ongoing.

Northern Ireland plans a two week bicycling festival.

Caught on video: An Edinburgh cyclist learns first hand the dangers of getting a wheel caught in tram tacks.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Sometimes it’s the other riders you have to watch out for. It doesn’t even take a whole car to send a cyclist to the hospital; sometimes, a stray part is enough.

And Gizmodo looks at seven bikes that, thankfully, didn’t change bicycling forever.

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*My apologies for missing yesterday’s post, as well as a few others in recent weeks. I try to post every weekday; however, while my diabetes is officially under control, I’m still having major health problems that may or may not be related, and which leave me largely incapacitated for much of the day — and have kept me off my bike for the better part of two months. Most days, I’m able to rally long enough to get a new post online, but others — like yesterday — find me down for the count.

Hopefully, my doctors will finally figure out what’s going on, and this too shall pass.

 

Morning Links: Popular LA cyclist seriously injured, update on the San Diego crash that injured 8 riders

Lots of news today, so grab some coffee, limber up your clicking finger and settle in for a good read.

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Popular LA cyclist Jo Celso is hospitalized in San Diego after suffering serious injuries while riding at the San Diego Velodrome Tuesday night. Donations to defray medical expenses can be made through PayPal.

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The driver in the San Diego crash that sent eight cyclists to the hospital was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and drugs, possibly including meth; she has a history of petty crime dating back to 2006.

One of the victims reportedly couldn’t feel his legs following the crash, while the Times says one of the injured — most likely the same rider — suffered a major vertebral fracture; sounds like prayers or good wishes are in order.

And BikeSD calls for charges against the driver.

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A Santa Maria TV station confirms the rumors that the passenger in the truck that killed Chula Vista randonneur Matthew O’Neill was the 18-year old son of former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado. Nicolas Maldonado was also a passenger in another fatal collision involving his mother two years ago.

According to the same rumors, the 16-year old driver who killed O’Neill is also a member of the Maldonado family.

Meanwhile, Stacy Kline offers a moving remembrance of her friend and riding companion.

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More on our fellow cyclist Robin Williams, his big heart and his love of bikes.

First up, noted bike rider Conan O’Brien relates how Williams tried to cheer him up following O’Brien’s dismissal from the Tonight Show by giving him an outrageously silly bicycle.

Then there’s the story told by Bay Area comic Johnny Steele, who said Williams bought him a custom-made bike and became his regular riding partner after Steele told him he didn’t ride because he couldn’t afford it. And all because Williams liked his joke about 65-year old men on $6,500 bicycles.

Meanwhile, a bike shop owning friend of the comedian says Williams told him cycling saved his life after kicking cocaine.

And the Wall Street Journal relates how he once met famed Italian bike builder Dario Pegoretti, and how Williams said he loved riding because it’s a close as you can get to flying.

I think we can all relate to that one. I’ve said the same thing myself more than once.

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Local

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is hosting a fundraising Firefly Ball the day before Halloween, honoring Andy Leeka of Good Samaritan Hospital, Long Beach’s Suja Lowenthal, and legendary BAC founder and bike advocate Alex Baum; tickets start at $250.

Meanwhile, the LACBC is holding a workshop on fundraising for bicycle advocates next Thursday.

Attend a live recording of the Bike Talk podcast at the Levi’s pop-up store this Friday with hosts Nick Richert, Melissa Balmer and Maria Sipin.

The Daily News takes a look at LADOT’s new Bicycle Friendly Business program.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers advice for walking or biking back to school.

 

State

California lists 147 projects that could get funding under the state’s new Active Transportation Program, including several in Southern California.

Calbike offers their monthly update.

New bike lanes are approved near Corona del Mar High School.

A 23-year old Big Bear rider competes in his first year as a professional cyclist.

 

National

Even the feds want you to take a bike tour.

Once again, a foreign tourist riding across the US is killed by a drunk driver, this time an Australian woman who was killed in Indiana just 500 miles from her destination.

Caught on video: Angry motorists confront a Vermont cyclist, saying they should have run him over. And to make matters worse, it was the rider got ticketed — for riding in the traffic lane.

Once again, the NYPD cracks down on the victims of traffic violence, rather than the cause.

 

International

Toronto cyclists win a fight for protected bike lanes.

London cop hops on a stolen bike to chase down a wanted bike thief.

Poetic justice, as a drunken Brit bike thief breaks his ankle when the bike he’s trying to make off with falls on him.

 

Finally…

Kids, don’t do this at home. A Kansas driver pulls into a parking lot to confront a bike rider, who promptly pulls out a gun and shoots him in the face; the rider was taken into custody nearby.

 

Morning Links: Bike-friendly LAPD chief reappointed, suspected DUI driver hits 8 riders in San Diego

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has been reappointed for another five year term.

It was Beck who worked with cyclists to establish the department’s bike liaison program and bicycle task force when he was first appointed five years ago, resulting in a training module to teach patrol officers the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

And helping to make the LAPD one of the most progressively bike-friendly police departments in the US.

They may not always get it right.

But things are a hell of a lot better than they used to be.

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A wrong way driver crashed head-on into a group of cyclists on San Diego’s Fiesta Island, sending six riders to the hospital with undetermined injuries; two others declined to be transported. Reports are as many as 16 riders hit the pavement trying to avoid the car.

Not surprisingly, the driver has been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Meanwhile, Riverside hit-and-run victim D’Andre Sutherland remains on life support as police looks for suspects.

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The latest round in the battle over bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Black Hole takes place on Thursday, August 21st at 8 am as the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce takes up the debate.

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It seems like the whole world is mourning the unexpected death of Robin Williams. But the loss may be hitting a lot of cyclists a little harder than most.

Because, as Cyclelicious notes, he was one of us. And he’s got the photos to prove it.

Williams never hid his love of riding, even going so far as to describe himself as a bike-sexual.

Red Kite Prayer notes he was a customer of Santa Monica’s Bike Effect and City Cycle in San Francisco; I saw tweets Monday saying he was favorite customer of I. Martin, and had stopped by the Bicycle Kitchen at least once to buy T-shirts.

The mere fact that someone like Robin Williams had even heard of the Kitchen — let alone stopped by to support it — speaks volumes about who he was and how important bikes were to him.

He was even stopped by police in New York for riding on the sidewalk. And let go with a warning as soon as officers realized who he was.

As for myself, I had one wordless, non-bike interaction with Williams when I worked in a jewelry store in Denver’s most exclusive hotel back in the 80s. The one where everyone who was anyone stayed when they passed through what was still an oil and cow town.

And where I met celebrities ranging from politicians and religious leaders, to the day’s leading movie stars and models, rock stars and blues immortals.

I was polishing rings in the back room, which faced a secluded hallway often used by hotel guests to escape the press and hoi polloi.

I looked up to see Robin Williams coming down the hall in the company of a woman. And was startled to see his stricken, almost fearful expression when he realized I recognized him, as if begging just to be left alone.

So I nodded, and he looked back at me with a half-smile and a look of relief, clearly grateful to retain a brief moment of privacy before disappearing out the door.

And I learned a lesson that has served me well in my life here in the figurative, if not literal, Hollywood. That being famous shouldn’t mean a loss of privacy, and that even the rich and famous have a right to be left alone.

Robin, you will be missed.

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Local

LADOT expands their Bicycle Friendly Business program throughout the city.

Downtown bike shop Just Ride LA forms a new cycling club.

An online petition calls on the DA to prosecute the sheriff’s deputy who killed Milt Olin on Mulholland Highway. Personally, I’m less concerned with prosecuting the driver than holding the department responsible if it can be shown that their policies, official or otherwise, put us all at risk.

The new LA Times new publisher is one of us; former assistant mayor Austin Beutner suffered a serious biking injury while riding in the Santa Monica mountains a few years ago.

Wolfpack Hustle calls on everyone who cares about safety to write city officials to demand buffered bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the soon-to-be rebuilt Hyperion Bridge.

 

State

Bid on a one-of-a-kind 8-speed Linus + SeaVees bike, and all the proceeds will go to benefit the California Bicycle Coalition.

Paso Robles votes to install a four-block bike lane.

A 14-year old Fresno-area bike rider riding with his father is killed in a collision with an 82-year old driver; needless to say, the driver insists the victim inexplicably swerved in front of him.

The leader of the state’s most successful bicycle advocacy group, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will leave at the end of the year.

Here’s an idea. Keep a bike on both ends of your commute, and you never have to take one with you on the train.

 

National

Thirty-six bike share programs throughout the US, resulting in a combined 23 million rides — and despite the panicked predictions, not a single fatality.

After a Spokane man steals a bike when his gets stolen, the internet helps bring him to justice.

A DC blogger says the Post’s bike-hating columnist may have ridden a bike, but he didn’t learn much.

 

International

A Belizean cycling legend is executed during a rash of gun violence in the Central American country over the weekend.

A new app could help design bike lanes in Germany’s most bike-unfriendly city.

Bike share is booming in Poland.

 

Finally…

Even the trees are out to get us, as a Brit rider barely survives a falling branch. Athens GA police chase a drunken, lightless bike rider.

And two German artists finally claim credit for the white flags that appeared on the Brooklyn Bridge last month, and led the Manhattan DA to subpoena the Bike Lobby parody account.

 

A new video — and change of heart — from the formerly bike-hating former reserve Santa Paula police officer

Now she gets it.

Maybe you remember a couple weeks ago when the internet blew up over a bike-hating video from a woman who was quickly identified as a reserve Santa Paula police officer.

Even though, as it turned out, Laura Weintraub was only peripherally associated with the department, helping out around the office a few hours a week. She was never a patrol officer, and never in a position to enforce the law, fairly or otherwise.

And the bike-friendly department she barely worked for got an undeserved black eye based on the comments of someone who should have known better.

It wasn’t like the anger we all felt wasn’t justified.

Weintraub’s failed attempt at humor fell into a long list of shock jocks, newspaper columnists, comedians, online commenters and just plain anti-social jerks who can’t seem to understand that bike riders have as much a right to the road as they do.

And that we’re all just people trying to get from here to there in one piece.

They somehow seem to think the idea of running us over or off the road is outrageously funny. And fail to grasp the concept that a simple tap that would be nothing more than a fender bender between cars could result in serious injury — or worse — if it was with a cyclist, instead.

I was as outraged as anyone.

Yet somehow felt that in our anger, we were missing out on a teachable moment. One that could allow us to reach out to the Santa Paula police, and maybe even drivers like Weintraub herself, to educate them on our rights and how to drive safely around us. And why.

Turns out, a lot of people read that piece.

Including Laura Weintraub.

So I was surprised when I opened my inbox a few days later to find an email from the alleged bike hater herself, asking if we could talk.

When we spoke on the phone a few days later, I found a very caring and contrite young woman who realized she’d made the biggest mistake of her life. And had listened to the angry comments directed her way, and truly got just how and why she was so wrong, and why we were all so upset with her.

A typical motorist, she had never seen us from anything other than a windshield perspective, unaware of our right to the road and the dangers we face on a daily basis from drivers just like her.

She’d never put herself in our position, literally or figuratively, she said.

But she wanted to.

So I agreed to meet with her, and take her on a ride through the relatively quiet streets of Santa Monica and Venice, unwilling to throw a neophyte rider into the deep end on more challenging streets.

Even that brief tour through tame traffic scared her. But somehow, she held her own, remembering the riding tips she’d gotten from me, as well as cycling instructor Stanley Appleman the day before.

She also picked my brain in an attempt to truly understand the dangers we face, and what we can do to make peace on the roads with people like her.

Or at least, like the way she’d been a few weeks before.

She’s changed. She truly gets it.

She’s doing her best to make amends. Not to improve her badly tarnished reputation, but to fix the mistake she made.

And talk to the people out there who might have found the humor in her previously video, and explain to them and other like-minded drivers that we’re all just people, on two wheels or four.

But don’t take my word for it.

Take a look at her latest video, and decide for yourself.

And let’s stop the death threats. Against her or anyone else, no matter how deserved you think they may be.

Just like her earlier video, it’s not funny.

And never appropriate.

 

Morning Links: Biking backlash to misguided WaPo bikelash, and a fund for injured Manhattan Beach racer

Nice.

The transportation beat reporter for the Washington Post responds to yesterday’s anti-bike screed from a fellow WaPo writer.

Here’s my bias: No matter how you go — bike, car, bus, train, boat or plane — I want you to get there safely.

I’m sick to death of people who take risks with other people’s lives.

And lately I’ve become disgusted with all the venom aimed at cyclists.

It’s a great piece. Take a few moments to read it.

I’ll wait.

Back already?

A writer for the Washingtonian offers his own response. The editor of Greater Greater Washington — the site that innocently set off the misguided screed — suggests letting understanding win over hatred. The Brooklyn Spoke says embracing the crazy is the best way to stop the bikelash.

And Streetsblog USA cites still more sources giving the misguided rant the smackdown it deserves.

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Great Le Tour coverage from VeloNews.

Defending champ Chris Froome is out after falling on rain-soaked cobbles, his third crash in two days; Team Sky’s decision to leave Wiggins at home is looking pretty foolish, despite what the team manager says. Then again, things aren’t looking so good for the Spaniards, either. American Tejay van Garderen is growing into his role as team leader for BMC.

And China’s first Tour de France rider is hanging in there, while Garmin-Sharp domestique Jack Bauer says in a Bicycling video that Wednesday’s Stage Five was as bad as it gets.

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A fund has been set up for SoCalCycling.com Team rider Ronnie Toth, who was severely injured in the final sprint of the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix this past Sunday.

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Streetsblog’s Joe Linton adds to the discussion of the OC cyclist threatened with arrest for swearing at the road raging driver who tried to run him off the road.

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Local

Bike liability lawyer and BikinginLA sponsor Jim Procrass answers an intriguing question on Streetsblog: Can city council members be held liable after killing bike safety improvements?

PCH remains a dangerous place, as a 58-year old rider is injured in a collision in Pacific Palisades; thanks to Barry Goch for the heads-up. Meanwhile, a writer for the Weekly says riding a bike in LA can be deadlier than Mumbai or Shanghai.

Protesters march on Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s office to demand a safer North Figueroa.

Levi’s will open a pop-up bike commuter hub in Los Angeles next month; other hubs will open in Brooklyn and London.

Bike in to the Frog Spot on the LA River bike path in Elysian Valley.

Santa Monica police insist their announced July crackdown on bike riders is about education, not writing tickets. So remind them about that if they pull you over; I’m sure they won’t mind.

Long Beach police catch a thief with a taste for $1000 bikes.

Santa Clarita will add more off-road bike trails to their existing 76-mile network.

Westlake Village resident and former pro rider Dave Zabriskie, aka Captain America, calls on everyone to use common sense to improve safety for cyclists.

 

State

A Newport Beach bike rider goes from collision victim to wanted criminal after whacking the driver with a bottle.

Turns out that USA Today report listing San Diego as one of America’s top 10 bicycling cities was based on a single bike path across the bay in Coronado. But admittedly, it’s a nice path.

A writer for Wired takes a three-day, 77-mile journey through the Mojave Desert.

When you’re a known Ukiah meth user on probation with a recent firearm arrest, stop for the damn police car already. Or at least, don’t ride in front of it.

 

National

An NPR producer describes the lessons learned from her high-speed solo cycling fall. Like know your limits and stop when your body says enough.

A Portland rider discovers the risks of falling of your bike include contracting flesh eating bacteria.

Nice to see some businesses get it. Instead of fighting bike lanes, a group of Portland business owners ask for a protected bike lane in front of their storefronts.

Lance gets props from cops for trying to help catch a notorious Austin bike thief.

Instant Karma? An Atlanta thief is severely injured doing a faceplant while trying to ride off with a purloined bike.

 

International

Caught on video: After a speeding motorist nearly runs down a Brit cyclist, he tries again. In reverse.

Scotland’s Town Mouse takes the long way home through the rural countryside. Looks like a lovely ride; maybe she can show me the way someday.

Corking intersections may be controversial, but a network of new bike lanes in Cork, Ireland should be reason to celebrate.

 

Finally…

Don’t get drunk and ride through the middle of a police investigation. Just don’t. Bikeyface says it’s hard to talk to a machine, let alone understand what it’s trying to say.

And bike friendly Beverly Hills toasts their 12th annual Cycling Classic with a special brew. No, sadly, not that Beverly Hills.

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In fact, if your business had an ad on here, it would have been seen by over 10,000 people yesterday alone.

OC Sheriff threatens to victimize an Orange County cyclist a second time; road raging driver allowed to walk

Prepare to get mad.

Or maybe livid is a better word.

Just a day after a widely circulated open letter called on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to charge a truck driver who used his vehicle as a weapon to threaten a cyclist, the department recommended that charges be filed.

Against the victim.

According to the LA Times, Bryan Larsen was riding his bike on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point on May 31st when he captured video of a truck driver attempting to run him off the road before the passenger — who turned out to be the driver’s wife — hits him with a thrown Gatorade bottle; they then try to smoke him out as they took off.

Maybe she thought he looked thirsty.

Larsen was originally told that no charges could be filed because sheriff’s deputies did not actually witness the assault themselves.

Which is not true, of course.

Police are required to witness an event in order to file a traffic violation or misdemeanor charge; however, there’s no such requirement for felony charges. And using a large truck to intimidate a vulnerable road user should certainly qualify.

I’ve also been told by members of other departments that video footage can be used as evidence, as well as eye witness testimony. At the time, Larsen was riding with another cyclist who could verify everything seen on the video.

After the video went viral and was picked up by local news stations, the sheriff’s department reconsidered and conducted an investigation. Though based on the results, not much of one.

Even though the driver reportedly used his massive truck as a weapon to threaten the rider and attempt to force him off the road, they declined to charge him with anything. At all.

Instead, the Orange County Register reports they recommended that the OC District Attorney file an assault and battery charge against the driver’s wife.

And that charges be filed against the victim for apparently inciting the attack through his use of obscene language directed at the couple.

Charges are also being recommended against the bicyclist, he said, who is suspected of using “offensive words in public, likely to provoke a violent reaction.” Officials suspect the cyclist made “rude, disparaging comments” before the incident was recorded on his cellphone, (Lt. Jeff) Hallock said.

This, despite the fact the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive language and gestures are protected as free speech under the 1st Amendment. And even though Hallock makes it clear investigators are only assuming that Larson said something so offensive as to justify a violent attack with a deadly weapon.

As if anything could.

Would they still feel the driver was justified if he had pulled out a gun and started shooting at the cyclist? Legally, there’s no difference; only the choice of weapon used.

And never mind what actually precipitated the event. Unless Larsen suffers from a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome or mental illness that forced him to swear without any provocation, he was clearly responding to something the driver had done before the camera started recording.

What, we may never know, since the threat of criminal charges will now force him to remain silent. Which is probably the real intent.

Legally, there’s no valid case against him. So the question becomes, why is the OCSD trying so hard to intimidate the victim of a violent crime — while letting the primary perpetrator off scott-free?

And what does it say to every other bike rider south of the Orange Curtain when even video evidence isn’t good enough to get the authorities to give a damn about our safety — let alone threaten us for reporting it?

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her department are sending a clear message to everyone who travels by two wheels that we remain second-class citizens in her jurisdiction.

And if something bad happens on her watch, just keep your mouth shut about it.

Or else.

What to do when the road rages and bumpers bite — part 2

I thought I knew what to do if I was ever in a cycling collision.

I was wrong.

Yesterday I wrote about defusing a road rage incident, based on what I learned as a result of my own run in with a raging driver. A case in which I did just about everything wrong, costing me any chance of a settlement — as well as blowing any shot at a criminal prosecution.

Hopefully, it’s something you’ll never run into. But if you ever find yourself sprawled on the pavement looking up a looming bumper, maybe you can avoid making the same mistakes I did.

After all, it’s so much more fun to make your own.

Let the driver leave.

No, seriously. After knocking me to the pavement, the driver who hit me started to flee the scene. So I jumped up and blocked her from driving off until she finally turned off the engine and got out of the car.

Wrong move. Not only did I put myself at risk of getting hit a second time, it might have been better if she had run away. Police usually take a hit-and-run far more seriously than they do a mere traffic accident, even if you say it was road rage. Hopefully, any driver would have enough decency to stick around, but if not, just note the license number and get out of the way.

Don’t move anything until you have to.

First, make sure you’re out of traffic or that someone is directing cars around you. Then ignore the people who tell you to move it, and leave your bike exactly where it is. And try to keep the driver from moving his car, as well.

Both are now evidence, and the relative positions between them could help show what really happened. Move either one before the police tell you to, and you’ve eliminated a key part of the puzzle. Or at the very least, pull out your camera phone and take photos of everything before anyone moves anything. Trust me, you’ll need them once the lawyers get involved.

Shut the hell up.

This isn’t a bike ride anymore; it’s a legal case. Who was at fault has yet to be determined — and you are just as likely to be blamed as the driver who hit you, if not more. So remember that anything you say can, and probably will, be used against you.

In my case, I tried to attract attention and keep the driver from fleeing the scene by yelling that she’d tried to kill me. But someone told the police that I’d threatened to kill her, instead. As a result, they refused to give me her contact information — and threatened me with arrest if I tried.

So make sure everyone else is okay. Exchange information. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Listen closely if the driver or passengers say anything, and write it down if you can find a pen and paper. But keep your own lips zipped until it’s time to talk with the investigating officer.

You’re the victim. So act like it.

As soon as the driver got out of her car, she screamed that it was my fault for being in her way. So I found myself yelling back to defend myself against my attacker. Or at least, that’s how it felt from my perspective.

But as bystanders began to arrive, what they saw was a grown man yelling at a middle-aged woman — with no knowledge that she had just used her car as a weapon to run me down. So guess which one they felt sorry for?

I’m not suggesting that you lie or exaggerate. But how sympathetic you seem to the bystanders will determine whose side they’re on — and could influence what they tell the police.

Never refuse medical care

The fact is, you probably are hurt. But you may not know it yet, as the adrenalin and endorphins flooding your brain mask any pain.

So when the paramedics ask if you want to go to the hospital, the answer is always yes. The charges the driver may face will depend largely on the severity of your injuries, as will any future settlement you might receive. And the police will take the case more seriously if they know you’ve been injured.

I refused transportation to the hospital, so the official police report said I was uninjured. And that never changed, even after I was diagnosed with a broken arm and permanent vascular damage.

Be prepared for bias

As I waited for the police to arrive, I was surprised to hear bystanders, who had no idea what happened, say it was my fault because those aggressive, arrogant cyclists never obey the law.

But I was shocked to hear similar comments come from the supposedly impartial officer conducting the investigation. Even though I was stopped at a stop sign when she hit me, the driver claimed I’d run the stop sign and fell over while turning onto the cross street. The investigating officer said he believed her because “all you guys run stop signs.”

Expect to explain the evidence

The simple fact is, many, if not most, police officers don’t receive adequate training in investigating bike accidents. So chances are, they may miss or misinterpret key evidence proving who was really at fault.

In my case, the officers didn’t understand that it wasn’t possible to fall to my left while making a high-speed right turn, as the driver had claimed. And they didn’t grasp that the imprint of the chainwheel on my calf could only have occurred if my foot was firmly planted on the ground at the time of impact. So be prepared to walk them through the evidence. But don’t be surprised if they don’t believe you.

Don’t take no for an answer

This was probably the biggest mistake I made. After conducting their investigation, the lead officer said it was a “he said, she said” situation, and let the driver go without a ticket or charges — then tried to intimidate me by saying I could be charged with filing a false police report if I continued to argue with their decision.

It worked.

So I settled for an incomplete and inconclusive police report that virtually eliminated any chance of justice, financial or otherwise. What I should have done — and what you should do in a similar situation — was insist on talking to a supervisor and demanding a fair and unbiased examination of the evidence.

And if you still don’t get satisfaction, call the station and ask to talk to the watch commander.

Maybe if enough of us do, things will start to change.

Update: The LAPD now has four bike liaisons representing each of the four Traffic Divisions. You can find their email addresses — which is the best way to contact them — on the Resources page.

One more bit of advice.

Since my road rage incident, I’ve taken to wearing a helmet cam and recoding all the time I spend riding in traffic. It may look silly, and it may be awkward and inconvenient, but it’s your best way to prove what really happened in any traffic situation.

If nothing else, you’ll end up with lots of stupid driver tricks to post on YouTube.

 

What to do when the road rages and bumpers bite — part 1

I’m going to do something today I usually try very hard not to do.

Repeat myself.

But lately, I’ve heard and seen a lot of reports about conflicts between bike riders and road raging drivers, and sometimes, riders taking out their frustrations on motorists, deserving or not. 

A few years back, I offered my own advice on the subject, as well as advice on what to do if you’re the victim of a collision, based strictly on my own personal experience. 

The advice still stands. But unless you’ve been following this site from the beginning, chances are, you may not have seen it before. 

And even if you have, a refresher might be in order to help keep you safe on the roads, and protect your interests if the worst ever happens.

……..

“Boy, boy, crazy boy, get cool boy! Got a rocket in your pocket, keep coolly cool boy!”

— Cool, from West Side Story

On a good day, nothing beats a good ride.

Days when the sun is shining and traffic effortlessly parts to let you glide by. And you find yourself offering a nod and a wave to express your gratitude for the courtesy of others on the road.

And there are the other days.

Days when traffic snarls and tempers flare. When horns become curses and cars are brandished like threats.

In most cases, that’s as far as it goes.

But when steel and glass impact flesh and bone — intentionally or otherwise — how you respond in the first few minutes before and after can go a long way in determining whether you finish your ride. Or whether you have a case.

I was the victim of a road rage attack a few years back, and in retrospect, I did almost everything wrong. Over the next couple days, I’d like to share some of the painful lessons I learned so you’ll know what to do if, God forbid, it ever happens to you.

Maybe you’ll be smarter than I was and find a way out that doesn’t pass through the emergency room. Or lose your case before it starts.

Let’s start with those precious few minutes before the impact, when there’s still time to de-escalate and find an exit strategy — or at least find a way to protect yourself and your legal rights.

Ride courteously

Let’s face it. There are hotheads on the road. A driver might be mad because he had a fight with his significant other. Maybe he’s an aggressive driver who doesn’t want to share the road. Or maybe he — or in this case, she — is just a bike-hating jerk. How you react to them can go a long way in determining whether that anger gets directed towards you. So always ride courteously. And if you see signs that a driver may be angry or acting in an aggressive manner, try to give them a very wide berth.

Ride legally

I won’t to tell you how to ride. But I will make one simple point: As Bob Mionske observed, whether or not you obey traffic laws could determine whether you have a legal case in the event of a collision or road rage incident. Simply put, if you run a stop sign or red light, or fail to signal a turn or lane change, chances are, you will be found at least partially at fault regardless of what the driver may have done.

And not just during the incident; police and lawyers will look for anyone who may have seen you riding in the miles and weeks leading up to the incident. So the red light you blew through half an hour before, or even last week, may be used to show that you probably didn’t stop at the stop sign when you got hit — even if, as in my case, the physical evidence shows you did. It may not be fair, but that’s the world we live in.

Keep your fingers to yourself

It’s a bad habit, one I’ve struggled to break with limited success. Unlike drivers, we don’t have horns to express our fear and anger, so it only seems natural to flip off someone who’s just cut you off or threatened your safety in some way. The problem is, it doesn’t work. I’ve never seen anyone respond to a rude gesture with an apology; instead, it only escalates the situation. At best, they may ignore you or respond in kind; at worst, it gives an angry driver a reason to retaliate.

And never, ever flip off a driver behind you.

Let dangerous drivers pass

You have a right to the road, no less than anyone with a motor and four wheels. And you have every right to take the lane when the situation warrants it; drivers are legally required to follow or pass safely. But just because it’s the law doesn’t mean that’s what they’re going to do. So the question becomes whether it’s better to stay where you are and fight for your right to the road, or pull over and let the driver — and the situation — pass.

Before my road rage incident, I would have stayed right where I was and held the lane. But I’ve learned the hard way that cars are bigger than I am, and they hurt. So when you find an angry driver on your ass, pull over and let the jerk pass. Then take down the license number, pull out your cell phone and call the police.

Snap a photo

Your camera phone may be one of the most important safety tools you own; I keep mine within easy reach in a Topeak case attached just behind my handlebars. When tempers flare, simply pull it out and snap a photo of the other person, as well as the license of their vehicle. Instantly, you’ve established a record of the incident and documented the identity of the driver — destroying the sense of anonymity that allows most violent acts to occur.

I’ve used mine on a number of occasions. And in every case, the driver has backed down and driven away.

Next: What to do after a collision

 

Morning Links: LA bike rider is deliberately buzzed by Metro bus driver for legally riding in the traffic lane

Last year, Metro proclaimed that every lane is a bike lane, to the applause of many in the bicycling community.

Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to tell some of their drivers.

In an all too common complaint, Twitter user topomodesto posted video of a close pass and brake check by a Metro bus driver apparently attempting to punish him for riding exactly where he was supposed to in the middle of the lane.

Personally, I had no idea bus drivers had been deputized to enforce their own mistaken interpretation of the law. Or that at least some seem incapable of remembering the message that was proudly plastered on the backs of their buses such a short time back.

Topomodesto reports he’s filed a complaint over the incident. But also notes that he and other riders have never heard back after filing similar complaints in the past, so he has no idea how seriously Metro takes them.

Unfortunately, no one outside of Metro does.

Complaints against drivers are considered personnel matters, so no one other than the driver and his or her supervisors are ever told the resolution of the matter.

Or if it was ever resolved, period.

Short of filing legal action — and this would appear to be a perfect test case for the city’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance — there seems to be no way to find out.

Which really needs to change.

Because we have a right to know if something, anything, was done in response to a deliberately threatening driver. Even if they don’t actually identify the driver.

And Metro’s well-intentioned attempts to promote bike riding will be meaningless if we have to ride in fear of self-appointed vigilante bus jockeys.

……..

Before you ride to Thursday’s public forum on the North Figueroa road diet and bike lanes with the Bike Oven and the Eastside Bike club, catch up on LADOT’s presentation on the subject from last month’s community meeting.

Meanwhile, it turns out the LA Fire Department did not determine that the North Fig bike lanes would slow response times, despite what a fire captain suggested last month. In fact, it wasn’t even studied by the department.

So why did he imply it was — and would?

……..

Local

The LAPD is looking for bike riders to start a volunteer bicycle patrol team in the northwest San Fernando Valley.

A West San Fernando Valley website looks at last weekend’s COLT ride.

KPCC’s annual Olympic Day considers the rise of bicycling on June 23rd; free, but RSVP required.

Despite what this story says, Santa Monica is already designated as a Bike Friendly Community, but they’re trying to certify more Bicycle Friendly Businesses.

 

State

A reporter for Marketplace completes the AIDS Lifecycle Ride.

Good for them. The family of fallen cyclist Paul Lin is suing Newport Beach, alleging that a dangerous intersection at San Joaquin Hills Road and Marguerite Ave was responsible for his death.

Evidently, it’s not just LA. The Voice of San Diego looks at that city’s hit-and-run epidemic.

A Bay Area bike safety instructor is recovering after being rear-ended by a distracted driver.

Sacramento police nail a butt ugly bike thief with a bait bike.

 

National

The bike industry wants tariffs reduced on imported bicycles since bikes have a positive effect on the environment.

A Massachusetts cyclist luckily lands in the back seat of a convertible after being hit by the turning car.

Bike shops may be collateral damage to the popularity of New York’s Citi Bike program, even though the opposite appears to be true in DC.

Unbelievable. A new three-foot passing law is approved in West Virginia, which also requires motorists to give an audible signal when passing a rider. Yes, they want every driver who passes a bike to honk or shout, which is about the most distracting and dangerous thing they could do.

Velonews says loyal Lance lieutenant George Hincapie’s new book rationalizes his doping choices; I’ve often wondered why the still popular rider seems to get a free pass on the subject.

The price of that $20 cardboard bike rose to $295 before dropping to $95 plus shipping, then nothing as the business collapsed.

 

International

Caught on video: A London cyclist is searching for the rider who crashed into him in a bike-on-bike hit-and-run.

A tragic reminder that bike-on-ped collisions are dangerous for both parties, as a UK scientist is killed when her bike collides with a pedestrian.

One third of all Czech cyclists blamed for traffic collisions had been drinking; no word on how that compares to the rate of drunk driving collisions in the country.

 

Finally…

An Indiana cyclist is doored. By a porta-potty. Here’s the latest bike-themed music video.

And no. Just… no.

 

Weekend Links: Avid cyclist gets bike safety wrong in the ‘Bu, and a highly biased 3-foot report from the Bay

A self-described “avid” cyclist offers advice for cyclists in the canyons above Malibu.

And gets most of it wrong.

Despite what he says, bike riders aren’t expected to ride on the shoulder, or even hug the white line at the right of the road. In fact, nothing to the right of the limit line is even considered part of the roadway under California law.

And despite a common misperception, cyclists are not required to ride as close to the right as possible. Rather, bike riders — like any other slow moving vehicles — are expected to ride as close to the right as practicable.

Which means far enough into the roadway to avoid the broken glass, rocks and potholes that too often accumulate on the right.

Then there’s the question of the narrow traffic lanes usually found on canyon roads. The requirement to ride to the right does not apply to any lane too narrow for a bike and a car to safely share with at least three feet between them. Which includes most of the right lanes in Southern California.

There’s also nothing in California law prohibiting cyclists from riding two or more abreast, as long as they stay within a single unsharable lane. In fact, it’s often safer to ride abreast in order to increase visibility and maintain control of the lane.

While it may seem safer and more polite, riding single file along the limit line encourages drivers to pass cyclists in a dangerous manner, rather than change lanes to safely go around them. And it increases the likelihood that passing motorists will try to cut back in between the riders to avoid oncoming traffic, greatly raising the risk of a collision.

Never mind that it’s actually easier to pass a more compact group of cyclists riding abreast than it is a long, strung out line of single file riders.

Yes, bicyclists should always obey the law, and show courtesy to others on the road whenever it’s safe to do so.

And as he notes, we will inevitably come out on the losing end in any conflict with a motor vehicle.

That is why cyclists can and should ride in the manner they consider safest, and motorists should drive carefully around them. Even if drivers — or other “avid” cyclists — may not understand why we ride the way we do.

It only takes a modicum of courtesy and patience on everyone’s part to make sure we all get home safely.

……..

In a highly biased report, a Bay Area TV station takes a remarkably one-sided look at California’s new three-foot passing law.

San Francisco’s KGO-7 concludes that it is virtually impossible for drivers on the city’s crowded streets to give a bike rider three-feet of passing distance while remaining in the same lane.

Evidently, San Francisco drivers somehow lack the ability to change lanes or wait until it’s safe to pass. And never mind that the law allows drivers to pass at less than three feet after slowing to a reasonable speed, whatever that may be.

They also inexplicably note that bike riders aren’t subject to a fine for coming within three feet of a motor vehicle, evidently failing to realize that the purpose of the law is to protect the lives and safety of cyclists, rather than keep motor vehicles from getting scratched.

The law may be far from perfect, thanks to Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of a better version of the law in 2011, as well as weaker version in 2012.

But it’s a hell of a lot better than their amateur reporting would make it seem.

And misguided reports like this only add to the animosity on our streets, putting cyclists at even greater risk.

Jerks.

……..

A bike rider was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in Compton last month after a traffic stop for illegally riding while wearing headphones.

The official version is he tried to flee, then grabbed the officer’s gun in a struggle to get away; a deputy wounded in the incident was shot with his partner’s gun.

……..

Local

Bicycle Retailer notes the ascension of ex-Helen’s employee Chris Klibowitz to editor of Road Magazine. Seriously, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Updated plans for a remade Union Station include two bike and pedestrian bridges over the busy rail yard.

The Bike League makes a mini-grant to the LACBC and Multicultural Communities for Mobility to promote women as community leaders.

There will be a commemorative ride for fallen Pasadena cyclist Phillip O’Neill in the city’s Grant Park next Sunday.

Long Beach’s new mayor calls for more bike cops, and making the bike-friendly city safer for everyone.

The Santa Clarita Century Ride and Expo rolls next weekend.

 

State

The five-day I Can Bike camp teaches disabled children to ride.

OC’s cdmCyclist confesses to Dirty Old Man On A Bike Syndrome. For the sake of full disclosure, I have to confess to riding into the back of a park car while gazing upon an attractive woman in my younger days. She thought it was funny; the owner of the car, not so much.

A bicycling victim of the Isla Vista tragedy hopes to walk in his graduation ceremony; the rider ho was run down in the vicious rampage is the last victim still hospitalized.

San Jose attempts to discourage, but not ban, sidewalk riding.

 

National

A new book tells the story of early bike racing legend Major Taylor, who broke the color barrier over a century ago.

An Oregon man alleges police beat him for riding while black.

A bamboo bike-riding Utah charity fundraiser is convicted of using the money to fund a Ponzi scheme.

Non-cycling Chicago residents are afraid of the city’s new bike lanes, but bike riders aren’t.

Fortunately, the reports of an upstate New York rider’s death were greatly exaggerated. Oops, say the local police.

The public could soon be banned from parking their bikes at the US Capitol.

Some people just don’t belong on the road. A Virginia driver who killed a cyclist had received two tickets in the last year — both after a crash that killed her daughter and niece last spring.

 

International

CNN offers the world’s most incredible bike routes.

Women’s cycling is starting to take its rightful place next to men’s. But women riders offer a voice to be listened to, not a problem to be solved.

Five UK residents rescue a cyclist who was trapped under a car.

It’s not only cars that crash into buildings, as a UK cyclist crashes through a local storefront.

Keep your eyes on Craigslist. Brazen thieves steal 200 bikes worth over $1.1 million from Scott’s Swiss factory, including 2015 models not even on the market yet.

An Aussie cyclist competing in a race swaps his water bottle for a beer. For the second time.

 

Finally…

In an amazing story, 25-year old cyclist Jonny Bellis will be riding in the Tour of Britain — five years after nearly dying and being told he would never walk again, let alone ride.

And maybe we should cut drivers some slack, because parking really does make them crazy.

 

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