Archive for Road Rage

Morning Links: Victim and suspect identified in Oceanside hit-and-run, charges filed in PV road rampage

Note: I have to take my laptop into Apple on Monday for a repair it shouldn’t need after just 16 months, but apparently does. So this may be my last update for a few days until I can get it back; I’ll be out of email contact for the most part, as well.

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Philip White ghost bike; photo courtesy of Ghost Bike Foundation.

Philip White ghost bike; photo courtesy of Ghost Bike Foundation.

Police finally identified the victim in last week’s Oceanside hit-and-run, a day after he was named here by family members.

According to San Diego 6, 28-year old Oceanside resident Philip White was found lying dead in the roadway on the morning of September 21st; evidence at the scene suggested he had been hit by a green Kia Soul.

Police quickly found the vehicle, and have identified the owner as 22-year old Christopher Noah of San Diego. Yet a full week later, Noah has not been arrested and no charges have been filed.

The delay may be due to difficulty proving Noah was behind the wheel at the time of the collision.

Let’s hope that when an arrest is finally made, the charges will reflect the seriousness of the crime. Had the driver stopped and rendered aid, as the law requires, it’s possible that White’s life may have been saved; instead, the person who ran him down made a conscious decision to let his victim die in the street rather than face the consequences of his actions.

If that doesn’t warrant a murder charge, I don’t know what does.

Meanwhile, a fund has been established to help the family pay for funeral and other related expenses arising from White’s unexpected death. They’re only asking for $5000; any money beyond what’s needed will be donated to charity organizations such as MADD and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

Then there’s this comment contained in an email from a member of White’s family, which is definitely worth sharing.

The cycling community has shown an overwhelming amount of support and sorrow for someone they probably did not know and it has given real comfort to our family.

Let’s never forget that what we do and say can touch the people who need it most, when they need it most.

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A drunk driver who went on a violent road raging rampage through Palos Verdes last year has finally been charged in the case.

According to the Daily Breeze, 66-year old William Thomas Kelly faces charges of “assault with a deadly weapon using a vehicle, making terrorist threats, driving under the influence, vandalism and hit-and-run.”

Let’s hope it hurt like hell when the DA threw the book at him.

Kelly started by crashing his Audi into a woman’s car. Then backing up and hitting her again.

He went on to deliberately assault a cyclist, attempt to run over a pedestrian, sideswipe a car, hit another one, ram several cars in a parking lot, and rear end a car before sideswiping another one, then intentionally backing into it.

But wait, he wasn’t done.

Kelly drove on to intentionally sideswipe and back into yet another car before ramming into three locked fences and, finally, passing out behind the wheel of his disabled car.

Other than that, though, he was a perfect driver.

The Daily Breeze quotes the bike rider in describing what happened after he yelled at Kelly for clipping him in a too-close pass and running him off the road.

The bicyclist, Doug Castile, said that afternoon that the driver backed up behind him and pushed him and his bike into the bushes at the side of the road.

“At that point, my feet are clipped in the pedals on my bike,” he said. “I unclipped my feet and jumped off the bike into the plants and he’s running over my bicycle back and forth.”

Castile said the driver then noticed him reach into his pocket to get his phone.

“He says, ‘What are you reaching for, a gun?’ It just was so odd to hear that statement. I took my hand out of my pocket. I thought this guy is capable of anything,” Castile said.

Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

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No justice for fallen Newport Beach cyclist Debra Deem, as the DA drops all charges against the 85-year old driver who killed her, following a mistrial earlier this month.

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Local

LA’s Bureau of Street Services recommends removing roadside memorials — including ghost bikes — from city property after just 30 days; thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link.

Eastsiders worry that Sunday’s CicLAvia will bring hipsters and gentrification to Boyle Heights.

Two South LA men sharing a single bike are injured when a driver runs a red light; the victims were hospitalized with broken limbs, internal injuries and head trauma. Naturally, the driver was not arrested at the scene.

Nice. Seven years ago, a 34-year old former Army sergeant was confined to a wheelchair, riddled with pain and addicted to opiates; on Sunday, he planned to ride 90 miles in the Beverly Hills Gran Fondo, thanks to a new medical device.

Actor and 30 Seconds to Mars lead singer Jared Leto rides a bike in Studio City.

BikeSGV picks up the Bike the Vote mantle, with a questionnaire completed by Alhambra city council candidate Eric Sunada.

 

State

This Sunday a section of Santa Ana will go car-free, the same day CicLAvia extends into Boyle Heights for the first time.

An OC trail rider gets a helicopter rescue after he’s injured while riding on Whiting Ranch.

A San Diego collision between a police car, a bicyclist and another vehicle sends five people to the hospital; a later report says the police car spun onto the sidewalk and hit eight Brazilian tourists on rented bikes.

The next time someone says bike riders have to obey the law too, ask them who the “too” refers to. Because most drivers don’t, either.

A San Francisco writer says the new three-foot law means drivers will have to break the law to do the right thing, and that protected bike lanes are the way to go. Unfortunately, Governor Brown vetoed an earlier version of the three-foot passing law that would have allowed drivers to briefly cross the center line to pass a cyclist safely.

 

National

New Mexico is investing $1 million in improving rail crossings to protect bicyclists and pedestrians.

Police are searching for a road raging Nyack NY cyclist who went off on a car passenger for no apparent reason. Of course, drivers are entirely innocent in such cases and couldn’t possibly have done anything to set a rider off, right?

Good advice on what to do if you’re hit by a car in New York; the same holds true here in LA or anywhere else.

After a New York state senator proudly yells at cyclists to “Find an f-ing bike lane and get in it,” a Brooklyn cyclist invites her to get on a bike and see what it’s like for the victims of her abuse.

 

International

Kind hearted Winnipeg residents return a customized bike stolen from a nine-year old with cerebral palsy after they unknowingly buy it for parts.

A UK writer says cyclists make easy targets for anti-bike politicians, but it’s only a minority that don’t play by the rules.

An Iranian cyclist gets a free pass out of military service after his surprise win in the Asian Games.

An Australian state invests $300,000 in an education campaign to improve bike safety; then again, spending the same amount on improving infrastructure could probably do more good.

 

Finally…

Well, duh. An Abu Dhabi writer says cycling outside, instead of in a gym, relieves boredom; only people who cycle in a gym think it even begins to approach the real thing. Proof that not all jerks are behind the wheel: A Brit bike rider punches a 70-year old man who reprimanded him for weaving through a crowd.

And now you can follow your every move with your own personal drone. Even if using private drones is currently illegal.

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Thanks to George Wolfberg and Glen Schmuetz for their generous contributions to support this site.

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 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.

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“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: A disgustingly auto-centric driver, and the rest of the story on that biking tech exec beating

They drive among us.

Commenting on the Facebook page Look! Save A Life / Arizona, a gigantic motorhead asshole driver makes it clear he could care less about the lives on any cyclists who happen to ride — legally — on the road.

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Thankfully, jerks like this are a very small minority of drivers, most of whom do their best to drive safely and accommodate everyone.

As for the others, comments like this live forever on the internet. And can be used as evidence if he ever does hit someone.

Thanks to Cyclelicious and Brendan Lyons for the heads-up.

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Speaking of Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, trust him to get the whole story on that bike riding Silicon Valley tech exec arrested for beating the crap out of a driver.

Turns out the driver did hit the cyclist, as the exec had claimed. And both people in the truck — including the guy behind the wheel — were reportedly drunk, and got out to throw the first punches.

Which makes it a case of self defense against a drunken idiot, rather than the vicious assault the local press implied.

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And it turns out there’s a lot more to that story of the sick, twisted Ontario, Canada driver who sued the parents of the teenage bike rider she killed for her pain and suffering in having to live with what she did — including the incredible pain of the boy’s parents and allegations of police misconduct.

There’s a special place in hell for people like that.

Thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the links.

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More on Sunday’s Finish the Ride from KNBC-4, as well as KCBC-2 and USC’s Annenberg TV. Maybe the word is finally getting out about hit-and-runs. As usual, though, it takes Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman to offer real insight and put it all in perspective.

And an LA mom says f*** you to speeding drivers and actually rides her bike on the streets of LA.

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Local

CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley says we need to get rid of the us vs. them attitude on our streets.

New bike lanes appear next to LA’s Eco-Village, and vandal-resistant bike repair stations pop up on LA’s not-quite Eastside.

Naomi Watts rides a bike in Brentwood.

Repeat after me. If you’re carrying a stolen Glock and a high-capacity magazine on your bike in Pasadena after dark, put a damn light on it. The bike, not the gun.

I love this one. Three bike-riding Palos Verdes financial advisors dig into their own pockets to donate 100 bikes to underprivileged kids. Seriously, hats off to these guys.

 

State

Huh? HuPo offers seven spots in California you can only reach by bike. Like auto, transit and pedestrian-accessible Downtown San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Venice Boardwalk, where bikes aren’t even allowed.

Oakland is racing to meet the demand for bike lanes for non-racing riders.

In a move that could improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, Google promises their self-driving cars can now recognize objects better than a human driver can — including gestures made by bike riders. Yeah, but can they recognize this one? Thanks to Ed Cable for the heads-up.

A teenage Sacramento driver deliberately chases down and pins a 7th grader to a tree after someone throws a water bottle at her SUV. Yeah, that’s equivalent force.

 

National

Grist sort of answers whether it’s safer to ride a bike or drive a car; thanks to Kevin Hopps for the link.

A new wearable bike light promises to be fashionable, but doesn’t look very noticeable.

Kansas residents pitch in when a man suffering from arthritis has his three-wheeled bike stolen.

An aggressive Austin driver intentionally targets — and fortunately misses — pedestrians and cyclists.

An LSU football player is arrested for bike theft, and says he’s very sorry. Well, okay then.

Two women take off on a bike tour of the East Coast. In 1944. Thanks to Chris K for the tip.

Shockingly, the father of a hit-and-run driver who killed a Florida cyclist says it wasn’t his son’s fault, he wasn’t intoxicated, he didn’t flee and it was all that damn bike rider’s fault. For a change, the police disagree.

 

International

Calgary’s city council votes to defy the bike haters and build three separated bike lanes as a pilot project.

A new bike lock promises to be unpickable. But does anyone actually bother to pick bike locks these days?

Caught on video. A bike riding Dutch woman breaks up a fight the hard way.

This might not be the best time for a politician to ride a bike in the Ukraine, as the mayor of the country’s second largest city is shot while riding his.

Aussie streets are designed to tolerate minor “bingles” but bicyclists aren’t. Is it just me, or does bingle sound like the name of an elf?

 

Finally…

Letters reveal the great feminist author Simone de Beauvior and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre rode bikes to help organize the French resistance in World War II.

It was de Beauvior who brilliantly wrote “There are two kinds of people in the world: human beings and women. And when women try to act like human beings, they’re accused of trying to be men.”

Which I learned from a Doonesbury cartoon.

 

Morning Links: Another road raging SFV driver, and a young pro succumbs after years of chronic pain

Another day, another road rage incident.

A rider named John sends word that he was punched by an angry, impatient driver on Tuesday. This is the account he posted on Instagram, along with photos of the truck and his broken glasses.

Another cycling road rage incident. This guy in the Chevy pickup was yelling at a cyclist at a light when I rode up behind them. When the light changed the guy peeled out then went about 4 or 500 feet up and pulled over. When the 1st cyclist was about to pass him the guy through open his door to try to take him out. That cyclist swerved into traffic to avoid the door but kept riding. I stopped and told the guy that we are allowed and supposed to ride in the street, there are even sharrows on the section of Sherman Way we were on, I pointed to them. He called me a idiot and said we can’t be on the street. He shoved me. I shoved him back and he started swinging. I avoided the first few punches then he got me in the eye and smashed my glasses, as I grabbed my glasses he punched me in my chin then he took off. I waited for police and filled out a report. Hopefully they go after him. He will kill one of us one day if they don’t.

He later added this thought in response to a comment.

Someone needs to stand up for the rights of cyclist. These people are killers. These are the people that’s run over cyclist and keep driving. Last time the guy ran me over. This time I got punched in the face. But if that’s what has to happen to get this to stop then I’ll take the punches, so other people can ride safely.

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Very sad news.

Chase Pinkham, a former rider for the Trek-Livestrong development team, has died of an accidental overdose. According to a story from VeloNews, the 23-year old rider suffered from chronic pain and depression due to a 2008 training collision.

He recovered enough to ride for Trek, followed by the Bissel and Jamis domestic teams, and was getting off narcotic pain relievers when he suffered a broken leg in the Valley of the Sun Stage Race earlier this year. His doctors put him back on painkillers as a result; his body was found Sunday night.

The VeloNews story includes a few paragraphs everyone should read.

According to a March 9 Facebook post, Pinkham dealt with chronic pain and depression related to his 2008 crash.

“Just wanted to give you an update if you have tried to get a hold of me the last few days by cell phone. I am currently seeking treatment for some severe depression caused by years of dealing with chronic pain from my accident in 2008. I am in a safe and good place, but I do not have access to a cell phone. If you need to get a hold of me please message me here,” wrote Pinkham.

“Dealing with chronic pain, years of medication and depression is something that may make you completely alone and hopeless, even when surrounded by the people that love you. Please remember that if you are suffering currently, or ever end up suffering, that you are not alone and that people love you. There is help available and asking for it only proves that you have the strength to reach out and the desire to change the state you are in. Many suffer, but so few ask for the help that so many people are willing to give.”

Despite the depression, a family friend assures that the overdose was accidental, and Pinkham did not take his own life.

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Local

How Los Angeles riders won their first protected bike lane. Assuming we did, that is.

How to report items that don’t belong in the public right-of-way. And yes, bike lanes are part of the public right-of-way.

A fun drone-eye view of the recent Wilshire CicLAvia.

The next LACBC Sunday Funday Ride rolls along the LA River bike path.

CICLE hosts a Taste of Pasadena bike ride to celebrate Bike Week. Speaking of CICLE, they’re in the market for a new Managing Director to replace departing Dan Dabek, who has done an amazing job in revitalizing the organization.

 

State

A Huntington Beach author looks at the city’s recent ghost bikes.

USC’s Neon Tommy visits the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival.

Buy a brick in the Marin Museum of Bicycling.

If you’re going to ride a bike in Vallejo while carrying a hand gun with the serial numbers removed, at least ride on the right side of the street.

 

National

Long Beach’s long missing biking expats explain why you should explore cities by bike.

Maybe there really should be a war on cars.

Obeying the law and not being a jerk aren’t always the same thing, says a Philly writer.

A Texas woman says drivers need to be aware of bike riders and stop treating them like ants.

If bike lanes are too expensive, Shreveport won’t paint them; just what price do they put on bicyclists’ lives?

Kim Kardashian rides a bike in Miami for Vogue; more proof bikes are the fashion accessory du jour.

A Florida town will use a state grant to crack down on bicyclists and pedestrians who put themselves at risk; never mind the drivers in the big, dangerous machines who pose that risk.

 

International

The BBC reports a new heavy truck design has been approved by the European Union to improve safety.

Brit bike scribe Carlton Reid tells motorists that cyclists sometimes block the road in order to save their lives, and possibly yours.

How to make your bike traceable in case of theft in just 10 seconds.

Dutch pro Robert Gesink, fifth place finisher in the 2010 Tour de France, is out for the foreseeable future with a heart arrhythmia.

In a bizarre tragedy, a bike-riding Dubai boy is killed at the same intersection that took his mother’s life three years earlier.

A cyclist from the United Arab Emirates is riding around the Persian Gulf to raise funds for special needs children.

Aussie cyclists accuse police of going soft on dangerous drivers, as an injured cyclist discovers police made up his statement while he was incapacitated.

 

Finally…

It’s one thing to ride one of London’s bike share bikes — aka Boris Bikes — on London Bridge. It’s another to ride it on the safety railing.

And when you’re drunk and carrying an axe on your bike at 3 am, it helps to know if you’re in Huntington Beach or Long Beach. Or maybe Bakersfield.

 

Morning Links: BOLO for dangerous San Fernando Valley driver and disappearing Bike Plan bikeways

An impatient Ford truck driver allegedly ran over a cyclist at Winnetka and Roscoe last Saturday morning, after honking and telling the rider to get out of his way so he could make a right. He then backed up and fled the scene.

A photo included in the report clearly shows the license number of the truck; no word on whether the rider was injured or if incident has been reported to the police.

If not, it should be.

Update: Frequent contributor Micheal Eisenberg reports seeing two apparently uninjured riders talking to a police officer at Roscoe and Winnetka as he rode by Saturday morning.

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LA’s city council-approved 2010 bike plan has been incorporated into the draft Mobility Plan 2035. Except, apparently, the parts that haven’t. Could this mark the return of the much maligned — and deservedly so — “Currently Infeasible” category from the original draft bike plan?

Meanwhile, City Planning is hosting a webinar Thursday evening to discuss year two of the bike plan; maybe you can ask them where the missing miles went.

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Local

The rebranded Gran Fondo Italia has dumped the Beverly Hills edition.

Joe Anthony captures a hyper drive nighttime ride through the streets of LA on his bike cam.

Make your plans for Thursday night, when a Treats and Beats ride will be held to celebrate the opening of a new Huntington Park bike parklet.

Monterey Park and BikeSGV host a free, family friendly community bike ride for Earth Day. Meanwhile, the very busy BikeSGV hosts an Open House Bike Social to kickoff Bike Month.

Five Azusa Pacific students are biking from Seattle to New York to raise funds for clean water.

 

State

Streetsblog updates transportation bills before the state legislature, including a proposed vulnerable user law and a rapidly sinking bike tax.

Orange County officials host a workshop on bike safety following recent bicycling deaths; that should be the response to every bike and pedestrian fatality, anywhere.

Cross champion Tim Johnson bridges the gap between racing and advocacy.

In advance of Bike to Work Day, the no sweat way to bike to work.

San Francisco commits to 24 Vision Zero projects to eliminate bike and pedestrian deaths.

A Chico State student sees the thief ride by as she’s reporting her stolen bike to the police.

 

National

A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center looks at the whack jobs people and groups behind the anti-Agenda 21 conspiracy theories and the damage they do.

Bob Mionske discusses what to do when you’re not the slowest vehicle on the road; California also allows cyclists to pass on the right.

Is the Internet threatening the iconic bike-riding Mormon missionaries?

A Seattle bike shop owner is charged with running a chop shop to fence stolen bikes. Schmuck.

Yes, says a writer from my hometown, drivers have a responsibility to keep cyclists safe.

American bicycling may have been born in Newton Mass.

Needless to say, the alleged jackass who killed a triathlete in New Orleans over the weekend blames the victims for swerving into his path; physical evidence and witness testimony suggest he plowed into them instead of changing lanes to go around — while driving with a suspended license, no less.

 

International

London will cut speed limits to 20 mph in the central city in a bid to save lives.

Anti-bike saboteurs have struck once again, strewing nails in the path of riders participating in a UK sportive. Crap like this is a crime, not at prank; a sudden flat could cause a rider to fall, leading to potentially catastrophic injuries.

A bike-centric service was held for the world’s fastest bike-riding police officer, killed in a British velodrome accident last month.

While Brit bike commuting is on the upswing, it’s dropped over a quarter in the Cotswolds.

Velonews wraps up Sunday’s unpredictable Paris-Roubaix.

After running down a bike rider while texting, an Aussie driver complains to police about the damage the rider caused to her car, and says she doesn’t believe texting while driving could cause a collision with a cyclist, even though she swears she wasn’t. Nice.

 

Finally…

Your next text could be from your bike. Telling you it’s been stolen.

And Major Taylor’s 101-year old track bike could be yours for just $20,000; why isn’t this in a museum already? Seriously, if you don’t know who Major Taylor was by now, you should.

A happy and blessed Pesach to all who observe it!

No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

Bike rider shot and killed in South LA; unidentified Pasadena cyclist suffers critical injuries; SD road rage charges

Evidently, 2014 is getting off to a challenging start.

Following a year in which Los Angeles had the lowest number of homicides in nearly 50 years, the city suffered its first homicide of the new year early Sunday morning.

And it was a bike rider who got killed.

According to the LA Times, 46-year old Don Johnson was riding his bike southward on the 10000 block of South Main Street in South LA around 12:20 am when an unknown assailant walked up and shot him multiple times; KABC-7 says a witness heard six shots.

Johnson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

KTLA-5 reports he was shot as he rode in front of a church, most likely the Holy Pathway Missionary Church; he was apparently riding in the bike lane visible on the street leading up to the church.

A report on KNBC-4 — which does not appear to be available online — suggested that authorities suspect it was a gang-related shooting, though there was no indication Johnson was a gang member.

He may have just been the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

And paid for it with his life.

Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at 213/465-4341 or 877/527-3247, or submit anonymous tips at 800/222-8477.

My prayers for Don Johnson and his loved ones.

………

A bike rider is in critical condition in a Pasadena hospital, the apparent result of a solo crash. And sadly, authorities have no idea who he is.

The Pasadena Star-News reports the victim, identified only as a white male in his 20’s, was found lying in the roadway on Glenullen Drive at Malcom Drive just before 3 pm Saturday. Police initially suspected hit-and-run, but concluded the victim probably lost control riding downhill and crashed into a tree.

He was not carrying identification, and was unable to speak due to major head injuries.

And no, he was not wearing a helmet. However, there is no way of telling if one would have made a difference in this case, though it probably wouldn’t have hurt.

This should also be a reminder to everyone to carry — or wear — ID every time you ride.

Best wishes for the victim for a full and fast recovery.

………

An unidentified San Diego cyclist may see justice after all.

According to San Diego’s NBC-7, 50-year old Douglas Lane faces a felony count of reckless driving with injury for his part in an October road rage incident that left a bike rider seriously injured as collateral damage.

The ironically named Lane was reportedly jockeying for lane position with another driver on State Route 67 just north of Poway Road where two northbound lanes merged into one. Lane lost control of his truck when the vehicles sideswiped one another, and swerved into the bike lane where he hit a 38-year old woman participating in the Pedal the Cause bike ride.

Neither the victim, who was hospitalized with major non-life-threatening injuries, nor the other driver has been publicly identified.

Both vehicles continued without stopping; earlier reports indicated Lane had no idea he’d hit anyone.

He was arrested Saturday, though the warrant was issued in mid-November, and booked on $50,000 bond.

……….

Thankfully, not all the news is bad.

In fact, when it comes to the economic benefits of bicycling, it looks pretty damn good.

……….

Don’t forget to voice your opinion — either online or in person this Wednesday — on the necessity of putting bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills when the iconic boulevard undergoes reconstruction in 2015.

……….

Nice profile of Long Beach bike advocate Melissa Balmer and the new statewide Pedal Love Project, described in the story as a love letter to California bike culture.

………

The San Diego Bicycle Coalition moved to new offices on Friday. By bike, of course.

………

Hats off to Burbank, which hasn’t had a bicycling fatality in the last two years, and just one pedestrian death last year, down from two in 2011.

………

Finally, royal in-law Pippa Middleton clips in for the first time, and likes it. Meanwhile, another rider admits to turning into a royal jerk whenever she slips onto the saddle.

And we wonder why some people hate us.

Breaking news — bike rider physically assaulted by motorist in West LA

I’ve received an eye witness report of a bike rider being physically attacked by a motorist this afternoon.

According the report, forwarded to me by attorney David Huntsman, a woman was driving north on Westwood Blvd when she saw another driver get out of his car and attack the rider on the southeast corner of Westwood and Olympic just after noon today. As she described it, the driver came at the rider flailing his arms, while the cyclist yelled at his attacker.

The woman said other people appeared to be calling 911 to report the attack.

Let’s be very clear.

No matter what took place between the two parties to cause the conflict, the motorist committed a crime by striking the rider — as one cop explained to me in a similar case, the driver was at fault as soon as he left his vehicle. He can, and should, be prosecuted if he and his victim can be identified.

This is also would appear to be a perfect case for LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows bicyclists to sue motorists or others who threaten or attack them while riding. The ordinance allows victims to collect three times actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher; it also allows for the payment of full legal fees to encourage lawyers to take a case that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem with the ordinance has always been that it can be difficult to gather the witnesses or other evidence necessary to prove the case. But in this case, it took place in front of multiple witnesses, at least one of whom has already come forward.

If anyone has more information — or if you were the rider involved — contact me; you can find me email address on the About page.

And let’s not forget that this is exactly where an innovative floating bike lane was proposed to reduce or eliminate conflicts between cyclists and drivers — without the loss of a single traffic lane or parking spot.

Yet the lane was vetoed by Westside City Councilmember Paul Koretz at the urging of wealthy homeowners, even though it would have zero negative impact on the Boulevard and the surrounding area.

And would move cyclists out of the way of impatient, and too often, angry drivers, helping to avoid incidents like this.

The more things don’t change, the more they remain the same; LA driver confesses to threatening cyclists

Here's a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog than the people I hired to do it.

Here’s a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog to a private server than the people I hired to do it.

So much for that.

As we left off last week, I promised this blog would be transferred to a private server over the holiday weekend, as the first phase of long-gestating plan to remake it into an advertising-supported website.

Long gestating, indeed. Many species have their babies in a lot less time than this process, which started in August, has taken.

But as you’ll see, either the transfer was done so perfectly that nothing has changed, or nothing has changed.

Smart money is on the latter.

Over the weekend I received an email from the web-hosting service I’d hired to do the transfer that they too lacked the capability to move it to their servers. This, despite sworn assurances from their sales staff that they’d done it many times before, and would have me up and running in a matter of days.

Turns out they hadn’t. And wouldn’t.

But at least I got my money back.

So the transfer is on hold for now. Hopefully, it will get done later this week, by another company that doesn’t have its head so far up it’s own ass knows what it’s doing and is a little more honest about its own abilities.

I’ll let you know more when I do.

………

It’s not everyday someone confesses to assault with a deadly weapon on National Public Radio.

But that’s exactly what self-proclaimed life-long LA driver Jackie Burke did in an otherwise positive piece about LA Bike Trains.

The story focused on the founding of the program by New York transplant Nona Varnado, who has become a leader in the local bicycling scene in the short time she’s been here — though I do miss her incredible design work for women cyclists. Along with the success the program has had in helping beginning bike commuters take to the roads.

Not that everyone welcomes new riders to the roads.

Like the aforementioned Ms. Burke, for instance.

“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

Let’s start with the fact that neither Burke, nor anyone else, has a right to the roadway, let alone a right to drive unimpeded. And as Niall Huffman points out, bikes aren’t hard to pass — as long as you’re not the kind of sociopath who’s willing to intentionally threaten another human being for the crime of slightly inconveniencing your commute.

Because that’s exactly what Burke has admitted doing.

By her own account, she used her vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to intimidate another person using the roadway in a legal manner. She could, and perhaps should, be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Except that she would undoubtedly deny her own words, which is currently the only evidence against her.

In order for charges to stick, her victim or an independent witness would have to come forward who could testify that Burke threatened the rider with her car, and could place her — or at least her vehicle — at the scene of the crime.

Because a crime is exactly what it was.

Her words also place her in violation of LA’s groundbreaking cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows a cyclist to file a civil suit against deliberately threatening drivers. But again, that would require Burke’s victim(s) to come forward, and be able to identify her as the attacker.

Not likely, given the challenge of taking down a license number as a rider struggles not to get run off the road. Let alone over.

Which means, despite her very public confession on national radio, she’s likely going to get away with it. Just like all the other otherwise decent people who somehow turn into blood-thirsty, road-raging sociopaths once they get behind the wheel.

Although the DMV should seriously look into permanently pulling her license. Or at least until she can learn to drive without threatening the lives and safety of complete strangers who have the misfortune of sharing the road with her.

Perhaps more frightening, though, is that Alex Schmidt, the reporter on the piece, didn’t even bother to challenge her comments.

Because attitudes and actions like hers are far too common. And far too accepted in our society.

And if that doesn’t scare the crap out of every American, it should.

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