Archive for Bicycle Safety

Morning Links: Making up the law on PCH, Olin ghost bike goes missing, and Canyon Lake cyclist critically injured

Once again, a sheriff’s deputy is caught on video making up traffic law on PCH.

For anyone unclear on the concept — law enforcement included — bike riders are allowed to ride in the traffic lane under California law, and allowed to take the full lane if it’s not wide enough to safely share with a motor vehicle.

And there is nothing in state law banning cyclists from riding two or more abreast as long as they stay in a single, non-sharable lane on a multi-lane roadway.

………

Someone has taken the ghost bike for fallen cyclist and Napster CEO Milt Olin, despite efforts of the City of Calabasas to maintain it. And still no word about the results of the investigation into Olin’s death or whether the sheriff’s deputy who killed him will face charges.

………

More bad news from the Inland Empire, as a 15-year old Canyon Lake cyclist suffers critical injuries after broadsiding an SUV at the base of a steep descent. The impact was hard enough that the vehicle’s airbags deployed.

………

Local

Some of DTLA’s larger new buildings feature more bike than car parking.

New LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds says it’s time to slow LA traffic to a more human scale, and may bring big changes to the city.

Meanwhile, LADOT has completed 50 miles of road diets in the last 15 years, and has finally budgeted for a citywide network of bicycle wayfinding signs.

Discovering the Ballona Creek bike path.

Sounds like fun. Metro and CICLE sponsor a Downtown LA Film History Ride on July 19th; maybe they’ll visit the Spring Street green lane gutted at the request of Hollywood filmmakers.

 

State

Newport Beach unveils the city’s draft bicycle plan, which will be under discussion when the Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee meets on Monday.

Nice. San Clemente approves a two-way bike path along the coast highway, as well as bike lanes for riders who want to remain on the roadway.

Seriously? San Diego is the only California city named to USA Today’s list of the 10 best cities for bicycling. No mention of Long Beach, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Davis, Palo Alto or any other CA towns.

 

National

Your bike is finally welcome on Amtrak.

Fading bike lanes send a message of disrespect from motorists.

A bike safety educator takes issue with the Bike League’s recent report showing 40% of bicycling fatalities over a 12-month period involved hit-from-behind collisions; thanks to Karen Karabell for the heads-up.

The feds are investigating a sabotaged Aspen CO bike trail after someone hid nail-studded boards on the path. Except it’s the Bureau of Land Management doing the investigating, not the FBI.

Life is cheap in Colorado, as a hit-and-run driver who killed a cyclist from my hometown gets four years probation and one year of work release.

A new deal could save New York’s Citi Bike bike share program.

 

International

How can you tell when police investigations are biased against bike riders? When they conclude cyclists are at fault in over three-quarters of all bike collisions.

The key to encouraging alternative transportation is to make private cars the least efficient mode of transport.

Maybe wheel-suckers don’t suck after all. Drafting cuts wind resistance up to 49%, while reducing drag for the lead rider by 5%. And it turns out shaving your legs really does make you faster.

A UK man is riding across Africa following the death of his parents from cancer.

Bicycling is booming in Bangkok, even if it puts bike riders in the danger zone.

 

Finally…

An LA cop watches as a red light-running driver threatens a pedestrian, then blames the walker for blocking the road. And no matter how mad you may be, your bike deserves better than to be thrown onto the hood of a driver’s car; maybe they can charge him with bicycle cruelty.

………

Just a quick reminder. Bikes are usually the most efficient way to get in and out of your local fireworks display. Just ride with extra care, because drivers will be focused on finding that elusive parking space or beating the crowd home instead of looking for you.

Update: Young boy killed in San Bernardino bicycling collision

Every every traffic death is needless; every bicycling fatality is heartbreaking.

But some tug a little harder on the heartstrings.

Like yesterday’s collision that took the life of a 79-year old bike rider in Chino, at an age when he had more than earned to right to a far more peaceful end. And today, when a wreck in San Bernardino left parents grieving a son who will never come home.

According to the Press-Enterprise, a boy around seven or eight years old was hit by a pickup around 1:20 this afternoon. Initial reports indicated that he was rushed to a hospital after suffering major injuries, where he died sometime later.

The collision occurred at or near the offramp to the eastbound 210 Freeway at Del Rosa Avenue. Presumably, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding across the intersection when he was hit by the truck exiting the freeway; however, as too often happens with news reports from the county, no explanation is given for how or why the wreck happened.

The intersection is controlled by a traffic light, but authorities were unsure who had the right-of-way or if the victim was riding in the crosswalk. A satellite view shows a crosswalk connecting the sidewalk on either side of the off-ramp, which is where he was most likely riding.

He was reportedly riding with another boy, who apparently did not see the collision despite being positioned behind him.

Now a young boy will never grow up, and a family must somehow find a way to go on without him.

This is the 49th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year. and the 6th in San Bernardino County. And as noted above, the second cycling death in the county in the past two days.

Update: The victim has been identified as 12-year old Tewon Woods, presumably of San Bernardino.

And a fund has been established to help pay his burial expenses. A tragedy like this shouldn’t be allowed to break his family financially. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the Tewon Woods and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to attorney James Johnson and the IE Biking Alliance for the heads-up.

79-year old bike rider killed in Chino; SoCal cycling fatalities up slightly over last year

Word is just coming in that a 79-year old bike rider was killed in a Chino collision earlier today.

According to the Press-Enterprise, Manuel Vera Ortega was struck by Silverado pickup at noon Tuesday somewhere south of the intersection of Central and Washington Avenues. He was taken to a nearby medical center where he died less than an hour later.

The truck, driven by 73-year old William Parkinson of Chino, was traveling south on Central; no word on which direction Ortega was traveling or where he was on the roadway. And no other details on how the collision may have occurred.

A satellite view shows a five lane divided boulevard with no bike lanes, and only one visible driveway on the southbound side.

This is the 48th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in San Bernardino County; that compares with 45 SoCal deaths and four in the county this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Manual Ortega and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link.

 

 

Downey bike rider killed in collision with Metro Blue Line

Word broke late Saturday night that a cyclist may have killed in a collision with a Metro Blue Line train in the Florence neighborhood of Los Angeles.

KABC-7 tweeted that a bike rider had been killed crossing the tracks at East Gage and Holmes Avenues, citing a report from the CHP. However, while the Highway Patrol dispatch confirmed a fatality, it did not identify the victim as a bike rider.

Any question was resolved Sunday evening when KCBS-2 confirmed that a 51-year old Downey resident was killed when he rode his bike in front of the train, which was traveling at 50 mph at the time. At that speed, such a collision is unlikely to be survivable; he was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:01 pm.

The victim was not publicly identified pending notification of next of kin.

No word on why he did not see or hear the train approaching, or whether the crossing arms were working properly.

This is the 47th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 20th in Los Angeles County. It’s also the sixth cycling death in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year.

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

 

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: Segways and scooters banned from Venice Boardwalk — and possibly the Venice bike path

Good news.

I think.

If I’m reading this right, the LA City Council not only voted unanimously to ban Segways on the Venice boardwalk, but on the LA segments of the adjacent Marvin Braude bike path through Venice, as well.

And since the ban applies to other “multiple-wheeled motor scooter-type devices“ and “multiple-wheeled electric personal assistive mobility-type devices,” it should also apply to those damn rental e-tricycles too often piloted by clueless tourists too drunk, and children too young, to operate them safely.

Let’s hope that’s really the case.

Because it could make the crowded bike path safer for the bike riders it was designed for, as well as the pedestrians who use it anyway, despite the numerous bike-only stencils on the pathway.

And don’t even get me started on that one.

It’s a lost cause.

Note: I have an email in to someone at Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office, who represents the Venice area, for clarification. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Update: An article from the Santa Monica Mirror says Segways and similar devices will still be allowed on the bike path.

Update 2: Just heard from Paul Backstrom at Bonin’s office, who says Segways are still allowed on the bike path; presumably, that extends to other mobility devices, as well.

………

Local

Bike liability lawyer — and BikinginLA sponsor and sometimes guest writer — Jim Pocrass answers reader’s questions on Streetsblog; first up is advice on what to do following a collision, whether or not you’re in it.

Not all road diets reduce parking; some can actually increase parking spaces.

New LADOT head Seleta Reynolds faces her first committee confirmation hearing today.

Ovarian Psychos are hosting a bike-in movie night to screen two ghost bike documentaries in Boyle Heights tonight.

Another Perfect Day has a near perfect day at the LA River Ride. Meanwhile, Greenway 2020 is working to complete the LA River Bike path from the Valley to Long Beach within the next six years.

Longtime Santa Clarita resident, cyclist and 2014 River Ride participant Kevin Korenthal applies for that city’s Parks Commission.

The new bike and pedestrian friendly Gerald Desmond Bridge is already at least a year behind schedule.

 

State

A Bakersfield man is competing with 42 other bike riders in the cross country Trans Am Race from Oregon to Virginia; can’t say I ever heard of that one.

Actually, there’s no reason for drivers not to signal, even in the rare situations where it’s not required. The same goes for bike riders as long as removing a hand from your brakes or handlebars won’t pose an unnecessary risk.

 

National

Bicycling tours a baker’s dozen of the nation’s most unusual velodromes; none in California and only one on the left coast. Is it just me, or is the magazine showing a decided East Coast bias these days?

A new bike horn allows you to sample any sounds you want. I’ll take the Flight of the Valkyries at maximum volume, thank you.

Nice. Reconstruction plans for a major Colorado highway include a 15-mile, 12-foot wide separated bikeway.

Possibly the world’s oldest paperboy passes away; the 91-year old bike-riding Illinois newsie insisted on finishing his route even after he fell ill.

Riding across the country to save the life of an Alabama boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Florida increases penalties for hit-and-run to remove the incentive for drunk drivers to flee, something we desperately need to do here. Assuming we can even get authorities to care enough prosecute it.

Riding on a sidewalk is no protection from Florida’s out of control killer drivers.

 

International

A Brit study shows most bike injuries don’t involve cars; those that do could be prevented by increasing separation.

That absurd ban on Scottish TV ads depicting helmetless bike riders has been officially overturned.

The LA Times looks at Paris’ new Velib kids bike share.

Ex-doper Ángel Vázquez is unceremoniously jerked from a Spanish Gran Fondo. And yes, I copied that name from the website to capture those cool Spanish accent marks.

 

Finally…

If you’re dealing heroin out of your Glendale home, don’t steal a bike from an underground parking garage. Or don’t get caught riding it by the victim’s sister, anyway.

And an alligator lying in the middle of the road photobombs a Louisiana bike rider, causing him to take a tumble to the pavement. I dodged a few myself when I lived and rode down there, and bigger ones at that. Fortunately, alligators on land are slow and don’t have a taste for bike tires.

 

Don’t expect justice. Not on a bike, not for hit-and-run. And not in Beverly Hills.

Paul Livingston, back on his feet.

Paul Livingston, back on his feet. Photo by Brandon Lake.

Three days in jail for felony hit-and-run.

Exactly half the time her victim spent in a coma. And just a fraction of the seemingly endless days he spent in the hospital, let alone long months in rehab.

No wonder Paul Livingston is mad.

Maybe you remember the story.

Just over three years ago, June 12, 2011, to be exact, Livingston was riding his bike through the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills when he was rear-ended by a driver, who a witness described as weaving in and out of traffic “as if she was drunk.”

In fact, that same witness was dialing 911 to report the driver when she heard the sickening thud of the impact that nearly took Livingston’s life.

As Don Ward tells the story in LA Streetsblog,

Last summer Paul Livingston, an experienced cyclist of 15 years, was commuting along Santa Monica Blvd heading east through Beverly Hills. He began slowing as he approached a stale red light. Relaxed, it was about 6pm on a clear skied Sunday afternoon and his lane – the right lane – was clear. He was estimated to be moving at about 8 miles per hour. Suddenly his world changed forever. Witnesses describe an impatient and unpredictable driver racing in and out of pockets heading east towards the soon to be green light that Paul was approaching. Paul had no chance. He was smashed from behind and thrown. It was reported that the driver never braked but instead accelerated to get away after impact.

Even worse was the terrible toll caused by that collision.

The impact was so harsh that Paul suffered multiple spinal and pelvic fractures, severe internal bleeding and abdominal injuries. He spent 6 days in a coma and another month in the hospital. Doctors performed spinal fusion surgery to 5 levels of his vertebrae. Because of his disability he was let go from his job at SIR Hollywood, and as a result his medical insurance was terminated. With no ability to work he lost his apartment soon after. Paul’s hospital bills add up to well over $1 million dollars. The driver not only left Paul with a massive hospital bill, she stole a life’s joy from him as he lie broken in the street that day. Paul may never again ride a bicycle. None of the witnesses that stayed managed to get a plate, just a vehicle description.

In fact, it was far worse.

In a follow-up piece, Streetsblog’s Sara Bond wrote,

The last thing Paul remembers that day is being put on a stretcher before he woke up in a hospital bed six days later. He suffered spinal and pelvic fractures. His pelvic bone, broken in half and pushed upwards into his bladder had severed blood vessels causing him to bleed internally. When he was first admitted to the hospital he was hypotensive, which means his organs were shutting down with the lack of blood and his body was going into shock. Paul underwent three abdominal surgeries within the first two days just to stop the bleeding. On the fourth day, the doctors were able to fix his pelvis and then he went through spine surgery only to have pelvic surgery once again to get it back to its original position. Paul also suffered from post-operative infection from the abdominal surgeries. Finally, with his fever gone, he was healthy enough to have his spinal fusion – as a result, Paul is a bit shorter now.

Yet despite the severities of his injuries, he credits his helmet with saving his life, and the large bike bag he was carrying with cushioning the impact from the car and protecting him from even greater harm.

The driver, Victoria Chin, called police to turn herself in the next day — after she’d had time to sober up, if the witness was correct — claiming she didn’t stop because she couldn’t find a parking spot.

Well, okay then.

Or at least, that seemed to be the laissez faire — if not incompetent — attitude of the Beverly Hills police.

Rather than send a patrol officer out to see her — let alone make a badly needed arrest — the officer she spoke with told her she had to come to the station turn herself in, and to bring the car with her. Instead, she showed up the next day with no car and a lawyer in tow, refusing to say or do anything other than identify herself.

And that’s when things got strange.

Livingston's warped bike doesn't begin to capture the extent of his injuries.

Livingston’s badly warped bike doesn’t begin to capture the extent of his injuries.

As far as the BHPD was concerned, no harm, no foul — ignoring that her victim was in the ICU at Cedars Sinai in a medically induced coma at that very moment.

Because of the botched non-investigation, the DA initially declined to press charges. It wasn’t until Livingston’s own lawyer conducted his own investigation and handed them a gift-wrapped case on a silver platter that they even deemed it worth pursuing.

Not that they really seemed very interested, even then.

“I never got the feeling Marta (Miller, the prosecuting attorney) gave a shit about me or my case,” Livingston said when I spoke with him last week.

In fact, he had a bad feeling about it from the beginning.

Chin’s defense attorney, a former Los Angeles DA, boasted on his website about using his connections with the office to benefit his clients. And when Livingston asked about it, he was told that Miller had worked with him for over 10 years.

But no one else seemed to see a conflict of interest; his request for a new prosecutor never even received a response from the DA’s office.

Evidently, his intuition was on target.

At the final court hearing, Miller refused to even acknowledge his presence before the plea deal was announced. Livingston says he knew a deal had been made by the guilty expression on the face of the prosecutor who should have been fighting for society’s, if not his, interests.

Chin entered a plea of no contest to felony hit-and-run. Or rather, a plea was entered on her behalf; she had moved back to her family home in Pennsylvania, and after her initial hearing, didn’t attend any court sessions until she was ultimately sentenced.

That plea deal should have been good news. California sentencing guidelines for felony hit-and-run call for 16 months to three years in state prison, with a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. Severe bodily injury brings an additional one-year enhancement, while permanent injury or death calls for another two to four years.

You’d think titanium rods permanently embedded in your back just to hold your body together would qualify as permanent injury.

But you would be wrong.

As a result of an incredibly generous deal, and despite the felony conviction, Chin was sentenced this past April to just 120 days in jail.

County jail.

Not state prison.

And given the current overcrowding conditions in LA County lockup, Livingston was warned that she wasn’t likely to serve anything close to the full term.

But he was shocked to learn she’d been released after just two days behind bars.

Two days.

Combined with another day in jail following her arrest, her total incarceration adds up to just three days, compared with the minimum 26 months in state custody she should have received. And just half the time Livingston spent in a coma because of her actions.

On the other hand, she was ordered to pay $638,434 in restitution.

Not that he will ever see the money.

Livingston’s insurance company has a $468,000 lien on any judgment. Cedars has another for $150,000. And whatever is left when they’re done will go to St. Vincent Hospital.

And not like anyone realistically expects her to pay.

Like most California drivers, she had the minimum liability insurance coverage of just $15,000 required by California law; an amount that hasn’t been increased since it was established in the 1970s.

Which also means that, while he’s almost assured of winning his civil suit, Livingston probably won’t see a dime for his lost wages, pain or suffering. The only hope is that Chin may — key word, may — have been driving as part of her job that day; if that turns out to be the case, her employer could be on the hook for the full amount of what should be a multi-million dollar settlement on top of the restitution.

Let’s hope so.

……..

Despite everything, Paul Livingston remains remarkably upbeat.

“I’m so lucky,” he says. “I got so lucky.”

Without the herculean efforts of the paramedics and ER staff, he probably wouldn’t have made it through the first night. Even after that, so much could have gone wrong that could have changed his life forever.

Yet today, he pronounces himself fully recovered, physically anyway. He’s jogging a couple of miles every other day, doing push-ups and pull-ups, even lifting weights.

And he’s back to work as a drummer in a reggae band.

On the other hand, as Streetsblog noted, he’s not back on his bike, and probably never will be.

“I’m not riding anymore and I miss it. But there’s absolutely no way I would get on a bike in traffic again, anywhere.”

He also has to bite his tongue when he sees someone else riding a bike on crowded city streets.

“I want to tell them, if you only knew the danger you’re in, not just of getting hurt, but of the person who hit you never being brought to justice…”

His voice tapers off, leaving the thought dangling in the air.

He’d never actually say it, of course.

He knows the sheer joy that comes from riding a bike, and wouldn’t want to take that away from someone else.

But for all his upbeat attitude, the pain and financial stress has taken its toll.

I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve been really bummed out about the medical liens, insurance bullshit, and the reality of possibly not getting anything financially for my pain, suffering and all the emotional stress. I’m a professional musician and I lost my studio in Hollywood, my apartment, my job, my medical insurance. It’s been just one gnarly fight after another.

I had to fight to stay alive, I had to fight to learn how to walk again, I had to fight to get disability payments, I had to fight to get the Beverly Hills DA’s office to press charges and it just keeps going.

The hell I went through is something anyone would go to great lengths to avoid and that’s what’s hard to explain to people.

Until you experience trauma like that, you just don’t know. Imagine not being able to sleep while in pain waiting for spine surgery wondering if you’re going to still be able to walk again, go to the bathroom by yourself, and have sex again.

The physical pain was absolutely brutal but the emotional trauma is something that still haunts me. And I have to live with titanium rods and screws in my back forever.

So yeah, she took a lot away from me and the fact that she only did 3 days in jail makes me want to pack my shit and move to Montana.

But I want to try and help change things here so that other people don’t have to go through the hell I went through.

Yet remarkably, Paul Livingstone is not a vengeful man.

If she had shown some sign of remorse; if she’d just come up to me one time to say she was sorry, I might have let the whole thing go.

But she never did.

……..

Maybe I should let the story end there.

But as someone who has long argued for tougher hit-and-run laws, and applauded the efforts of Don Ward, Damian Kevitt, state Assemblymember Mike Gatto and others to pass hard-hitting legislation, I realize it doesn’t really matter.

This obscene epidemic will never end, and the physical, emotional and financial toll of hit-and-run will continue to build as long as police, prosecutors and the courts refuse to take it seriously.

This should have been an easy case for the police to investigate. But they didn’t care.

It should have been a clear-cut prosecution for the DA’s office. But they didn’t care.

It should have been a chance for the judge to send a message that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated in a civil society, and that there are serious consequences for running away like a coward and leaving another human being to bleed, and possibly die, in the street.

But he didn’t care.

Or if anyone did, not enough to actually do anything about it.

Until we change the attitude that traffic crime doesn’t matter and people don’t have to be held accountable for their actions, nothing will ever change.

Livingston is right. We can expect a lot of things when we ride.

But justice isn’t one of them.

Especially not in Beverly Hills.

 

Morning Links: Drivers give more distance to riders in bike lanes; cyclist hurt at Sunday’s LA River Ride

Interesting.

Bike lane opponents often claim the painted lanes encourage drivers to pass at an unsafe distance. But a new study from the UK (pdf) finds just the opposite.

The study compared urban streets with and without bike lanes; drivers on the streets with bike lanes were shown to pass cyclists at a greater distance than on those without, with fewer cases of unsafe passing.

That doesn’t exactly jibe with my personal experience, though.

I find drivers in the lane next to a bike lane don’t usually move over to provide a safe passing distance. Especially bus drivers. Even if you’re hugging the left side line to avoid the door zone.

But then, I’ve never conducted an independent study of the matter.

Then again, the new three-foot passing law that goes into effect in September does not include an exemption for passing riders in bike lanes, so hopefully drivers will learn to give a little more space here, as well.

……..

I wasn’t able to make it this year, for the first time since I’ve been a board member.

But word has it the LACBC’s 14th annual LA River Ride was another great success; Cycling Across LA takes you on the century ride in just four minutes.

……..

Speaking of the LACBC, their new 2014 team kits are now available for pre-order at a discount before July 5th.

Team-LACBC-Jersey

 

If you’re a spandex-clad member like me, you’ll want to wear the coalition’s colors with pride. But you don’t have to be a member — or even live in the LA area — to wear it. Anyone who wants to look and feel good on a bike is welcome place an order.

And yes, you will look good.

I’ve got the previous all black version, which is the only jersey I own that is actually flattering and doesn’t make me look like a total bike geek.

And the bright black coloring is surprisingly cool and very noticeable during daylight hours; with the new white back panel and reflectorized details, it should stand out even more, day or night.

……..

Local

Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff becomes the first US Representative to complete the AIDS/Lifecycle Ride from San Francisco to LA.

LADOT compromises on the North Figueroa bike lanes, now promising no delay at all for motorists at Avenue 26; Metro insists it’s not opposed to the road diet after all.

Meanwhile, Richard Risemberg takes Councilmember Gil Cedillo to task for misrepresenting the facts about North Fig.

And speaking of LADOT, the Bike Blog looks at the future of bikes at Union Station.

 

State

The hit-and-run epidemic hits our neighbor to the south, as San Diego has its deadliest year for hit-and-runs since 2009. And it’s only June.

Sadly, the husband of California’s first female Episcopal bishop is killed in a bicycling collision with an 83-year old driver. Thanks to Biker395 and Mike for the heads-up.

Shades of failed 1980’s road design, as a Mountain View bike lane sacrifices rider safety for the sake of automotive throughput.

 

National

HuffPo explains how to look like a lady while riding your bike. Then again, maintaining your modesty on a bike is a lot easier when you don’t have paparazzi trying to shoot up your skirt.

Bad enough we have to worry about dangerous drivers; a Kansas City cyclist is apparently killed by a downed power line.

A teenager with cerebral palsy is participating in a 250-mile group ride across western Michigan. No, really, what’s your excuse?

New York’s mayor lowers the speed limit to 25 mph as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan. But the NYPD can’t be bothered to investigate most collisions involving bike riders, unless the victim is a pedestrian.

Charlotte NC cyclists call for more to be done to improve safety after a rider is killed.

 

International

A Canadian publication asks if there’s any hope for détente in the war between bikes and cars. But can we please drop any further reference to the mythical war on cars?

You can see a lot of things riding a bike. For instance, two Brit cyclists may have witnessed a murder.

A writer asks if Madrid is too dangerous for the city’s new e-bike share system; then again, they said the same thing about New York before Citi Bike opened.

Despite reports to the contrary, it looks like bicycling in Australia is actually getting safer.

Your bike helmet may have been designed to provide safety for a dummy, not a real head like yours.

A New Zealand truck driver admits to careless driving in the death of a bike rider; he plays the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, claiming he just didn’t see her. But why was a 75-year old man behind the wheel of a 10-ton truck in the first place?

 

Finally…

A bike! A bike! My kingdom for a bike! Infamous English King Richard III could spend the rest of eternity in a bike rack. And if you’re going to harass a group of cyclists, first make sure one of them isn’t an off-duty cop.

 

Update: Bike rider killed in close pass on Mt. Baldy Road last Saturday

No name.

One lousy paragraph.

Evidently, that’s all the life of a Fontana cyclist is worth, as the Claremont Courier reports a bike rider was killed on Mt. Baldy Road last Saturday.

According to the paper, the 59-year old victim was riding south on Mt. Baldy Road near Evey Canyon around 7 am on Saturday, June 14th, when a 77-year old driver attempted to pass him. She hit him with the passenger side mirror of her SUV, knocking him to the ground with great force.

He died after being airlifted to USC Medical Center with severe head trauma. The paper notes that he suffered the injuries despite wearing a helmet, which suggests a significant impact.

No other information is available at this time, including the names of the victim and driver.

The collision is still under investigation. However, even without the new three-foot passing law going into effect until September, this would appear to be a clear case of unsafe passing at the very least.

This is the 46th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 19th in Los Angeles County.

Update: Comments from Cheryl and Sierra Ornelas identify the victim as Carlos Vasquez, who was riding with his son at the time of the collision.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Carlos Vasquez and his loved ones.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

%d bloggers like this: