Archive for Bikes & the Law

Guest Post: Bikes Have Rights™*

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Civil vs. Criminal Bike Lawsuits: How They Differ

 
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

 

Streetsblog LA reported recently on the 3-year and 8-months plea deal that was struck by Wendy Villegas, the drunk driver who struck three bicyclists, resulting in the death of one of them, Andy Garcia, on the bridge on Cesar Chavez Boulevard last Sept. 14. Villegas never even stopped. It is only because a witness followed Villegas and was able to get her license plate number that she was apprehended. When the police booked her at 7:15 a.m., it is reported that she was still intoxicated.

The post talks about the effect of the plea deal on Garcia’s family and friends. How they weren’t consulted about the deal and that their only permitted involvement was that they were allowed to read statements at the sentencing hearing about how Villegas’ actions affected their lives.

I bring this up because it is important for you to understand the differences between a criminal case and a civil case. There is a growing outcry that drivers who commit hit-and-runs should get stiffer penalties. Personally, I agree. However, when you are calling for stiffer penalties, do you mean stiffer criminal or stiffer civil penalties?

A criminal lawsuit is filed by the government (district attorney), not by the person or persons who have suffered at the hands of the accused. The district attorney is acting for the state (read as “society”) and ensuring the stability of society by punishing wrongdoers and deterring them and others from offending.

The hard truth is that you, as the victim or wronged party, are witnesses, at best, in the trial. The criminal case is about the wrongdoer being accused by the state of a criminal offense against society. Punishment for crimes against the state can be incarceration, fines, community service, or, in extreme cases, the death penalty.

In a civil suit, the lawsuit is brought by the wronged party (or parties). They are appealing to the court for relief. They are telling the court, “We have been injured because of the negligence or carelessness of the accused.”

The civil court’s response is to give the victim (the plaintiff), the chance to show how the accused (the defendant), harmed them. If the victim can prove they were harmed, then the court’s duty is “to make them whole.” This is usually accomplished by awarding the victim compensation for their injuries.

Before I discuss the issue of compensation making anyone “whole,” I want to talk about one more significant difference between criminal and civil lawsuits.

Everyone is familiar with the “O.J. trial.” O.J. Simpson was found not guilty by a jury for the murder of his wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in a criminal trial. Yet in the civil jury trial, O.J. was found guilty and was ordered to pay the Brown and Goldman families approximately $40 million.

How did that happen? There are probably numerous reasons, but the prominent reason I want you to know is the differences in “standard of proof” in criminal versus civil trials.

In a criminal trial the “standard of proof” is that the district attorney must convince the judge or every member of the jury that the accused is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In a civil trial, the “standard of proof” is that the victim must demonstrate that there is a “preponderance of evidence” that the accused is guilty. It only takes a judge or a majority of jurors to find the accused liable in a civil trial.

In the O.J. example, it is obvious that the jurors in the criminal trial had doubts of O.J.’s guilt, where in the civil trial, the lawyer’s for the families of the victims had to convince the jury that the evidence of guilt was “beyond the balance of probabilities.”

Returning to the issue of compensation of the law making anyone “whole,” everyone knows that money cannot bring back a loved one or heal the catastrophic injuries the victim and their family suffered, or give anyone back the time they have lost due to the wrongdoer’s actions.

Every client I have ever had for whom I obtained a multi-million verdict or settlement has told me that they would give back every penny to have their loved one back or the injury they suffered to never have happened.

In legal terms, “made whole” means through compensation (which is the only currency that is available to the court), to bring the injured party to the place they would have been if they had not been injured by the wrongdoer.  What “making whole” means in a legal sense varies by state laws.

In the Streetsblog post referred to earlier, the families are quoted as saying they are not interested in bringing a civil case. They have no interest in money. I understand, and they should do what is best for them. But never think that the compensation obtained for clients doesn’t matter to them. This isn’t “jackpot justice” as the public relations machines of Big Business and Big Insurance would like you to think.

The compensation allows people who have been injured at no fault of their own – or families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence or carelessness of another – to rebuild their lives. In some cases it has meant being able to adapt a home and car for a wheelchair or for retraining for another career or for paying for quality childcare. It invariably means being able to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for current and future medical care. In some cases the compensation is put in trust for a child’s future use, for college or other advanced education.

Just as importantly, when the wrongdoer is a government entity or a corporation, it sends the only punishment either of those understands: a hit to their bottom line.

There is no doubt in my mind that we need stronger criminal penalties against hit-and-run drivers. I also believe that we need to bring these people to justice in a civil court. It is only when their insurance companies start seeing what these people cost THEM (yes, I know that’s horrible, but that’s how companies work), will the insurance companies start applying their own form of punishments.

I know, after 30 years of representing some of the most wonderful people who never deserved the injuries and losses they suffered, that the compensation mattered to the victim and it punished the wrongdoer. That’s really all the courts can offer us.

*California Vehicle Code 21200: A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. . .

For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.  For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.*

*Sponsored Post

 

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!

SoCal cops to bike 300 miles in memory of fallen officers next month

Sometimes, what you’re looking for shows up exactly when you’re not looking for it.

I’ve been seeing online comments from various LAPD officers training for the Police Unity Tour of Southern California Challenge Ride. And made a mental note to ask about it after CicLAvia.

Instead, as I stopped at one of the smaller hubs, I looked over to my right. And there was a booth manned by LAPD officers promoting exactly that.

Olympic Division Senior Lead Officer Eric Mollinedo explained the purpose of the bike tour, which runs nearly 300 miles from New Jersey to Washington DC, is to raise awareness and honor officers who have died in the line of duty. As well as to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial.

I can’t think of a better cause.

I’ll let Mollinedo explain in a letter he wrote seeking donations.

Dear friends and family,

On May 10, 2014, I will join nearly 1500 law enforcement officers from throughout the country who will bicycle along varying routes, each nearly 300 miles, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC. This year, the Police Unity Tour – Southern California Chapter will have nearly 100 police officers representing the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and police departments from Alhambra, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Los Angeles, Palos Verdes Estates, and Pasadena.

On May 10th, we will depart from Somerset, New Jersey and travel through Philadelphia, Baltimore, and ultimately into Washington DC. On May 13th, we will join over 50,000 people at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil. During the ceremony, the names of every officer who died in the line of duty during 2013 will be read and his/her name officially added to the Memorial, which already contains over 19,000 fallen heroes.

The primary purpose of the Police Unity tour is to raise awareness about the police officers that have died in the line of duty. Our motto is, “We ride For Those Who Died.” The secondary purpose is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Since its inception in 1997, the Police Unity Tour has raised over $14 million to support the Memorial. It is because of your incredible level of support and financial contributions that I will be able to participate in the 2014 Police Unit Tour and ensure that the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten.

I am seeking your financial support in order to allow me to ride in this incredibly worthwhile event. Each rider must raise approximately $2500 in order to participate in the Tour. The first $1850 is paid to the Police Unity Tour. This money includes a $1000 donation to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and $850 to cover support services, ground transportation, overnight lodging, and food while we ride. Donations to the Police Unity Tour are tax deductible (Tax ID# 22-3530541). If you are not concerned about the tax deduction, you may write a check directly to me, which will be applied to the cost of airfare and other expenses that I am responsible for. Any donated monies in excess of what is used for airfare and expenses will be donated to the Police Unity Tour.

Thank you so much for your consideration in supporting the Police Unity Tour. If you have any questions… please send me an email.

Sincerely,

Eric Mollinedo
31754@lapd.lacity.org

(Note: To protect the officer’s privacy, I’ve removed any contact information other than his email address.)

You can also donate through PayPal in the name of Mollinedo, or a long list of other officers, by clicking here.

A couple of names jumped out at me from that list; South Traffic Division bike liaison Sgt. Jon Aufdemberg and Valley Traffic Division bike liaison Sgt. Steve Egan are both listed among the participants. And both are men I can personally vouch for; you can find their email addresses on the Resources page.

One other note. Mollinaedo told me he’s riding in memory of fallen LAPD officer Nicholas Lee, who was killed in a crash on Sunset Blvd in Beverly Hills last month.

Sadly, another LAPD officer lost his life yesterday, as 27-year veteran Chris Cortijo died from injuries he suffered when his motorcycle was hit by a driver allegedly high on cocaine.

In a case of tragic irony, he had arrested over 3,000 DUI suspects before becoming victim to one.

 

Morning Links: Settlement in Camp Pendleton bus collision could have far reaching bike benefits

We’ve got another long list of links this morning, so let’s get right to it.

………

A settlement has been reached in the bus collision that injured cyclist John Edwards on Camp Pendleton last August.

As you may recall, rider Udo Heinz lost his life in the same collision when a North County Transit District bus rear-ended three cyclists who were riding single-file on the right side of the roadway, exactly where and how they should have been riding; the driver was reportedly distracted at the time of the collision.

Terms of the settlement weren’t announced, but the company that operates the bus line agreed to work with the San Diego Bike Coalition to improve bike safety training for their drivers.

According to Edwards’ attorney, Oceanside-based Richard Duquette, the company claims to be the largest bus line operator in the US. Which means the settlement could have ramifications far beyond Southern California by improving safety for riders throughout the county.

Maybe I should mention Duquette is a competitive cyclist.

Because it would probably take a fellow rider to ensure the settlement that benefits his client also benefits the rest of us.

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Local

The first ever Tour de UCLA celebrates National Public Health Week.

There’s still time to sign up for the LA Circuit Race this weekend near LAX.

Boyle Hieghts Beat looks at everyone’s favorite Eastside feminist cycling brigade.

Sunday’s successful CicLAvia points out the need for better bicycling infrastructure; clearly, there’s a pent-up demand for safe places to ride a bike. Especially with your kids.

Speaking of which, Downtown News calls on everyone to keep pushing for agreement on the My Figueroa plan.

KPCC asks what will it take to encourage people to ditch their cars? Besides making CicLAvia a daily thing.

Work is proceeding on the Expo bikeway.

 

State

Cyclelicious notes California’s proposed bike tax now has a more user friendly name, even if it wouldn’t bring in enough money to cover administrative costs.

Bike Newport Beach reminds us that a bicycle is a necessary part of any earthquake survival kit; works for the coming zombie apocalypse, too.

Santa Ana city officials plan to make it Orange County’s “most friendliest bike city,” which is not the same as bike-friendliest city, is it?

Fullerton’s bike share program expands onto the local CSU campus.

A tragic mystery in Modesto, as a cyclist with minor scrapes rides into a gas station and asks the clerk to call an ambulance, then passes out and later dies of a ruptured spleen before he could tell anyone what happened.

Bay Area bike share expands into the East Bay.

 

National

The Bike League announces a Bicycle Friendly America photo contest.

Seven reasons why bikes are for everyone. Okay, but can we quit denigrating “cyclists” already? Anyone who rides a bike is a cyclist, just as anyone operating a motor vehicle is a motorist. It applies equally to kids with training wheels, los invisibles, bike commuters or spandex-clad weekend warriors. Anything else is trying to force a meaning on the word that it just doesn’t possess.

Bike Portland explains why a woman arrested for intentionally ramming a cyclist — there’s that word again — was released without charges. And yes, you’re legally obligated to stop if you witness a road rage collision, at least in Oregon.

A bike manufacturer in my hometown introduces a reduced road bike for petite riders.

The Missouri legislature votes down a proposed anti-bike funding amendment.

Good interview with Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek.

New York police refuse to release impounded bikes for a year and a half. Couldn’t that be considered bike theft?

Now that’s more like it. A Virginia women faces 31 years in prison for killing a cyclist in a drunken hit-and-run; she was three times the legal limit when tested after the wreck.

Hats off to a Carolina 4th grader, who plans to celebrate his 10th birthday by bicycling 200 miles to raise funds for clean water around the world.

Gainsville FL city commissioner is just the latest to demand double taxation for cyclists, who already pay more than their fare share of the roads. Unlike cars, bikes cause virtually no damage to the streets and infrastructure they use, and most streets are paid for through general taxes, not gas taxes. You’d think an elected official would know that.

 

International

London will reduce speed limits to 20 mph. If they can do it, why can’t we — at least on residential streets and populated commercial districts?

Less than a year after a UK rider gave up his dream of becoming a pro cyclist when his heart stopped for 25 minutes, he’s back on his bike and riding 1000 miles through South America for charity.

Now that Lance has fallen, America’s only other Tour de France winner continues his remarkable comeback, becoming an on-air cycling commentator for the Eurosport network.

I want to vote for this guy. A Polish mayor makes a citizens arrest after watching a drunk driver kill a cyclist, calling the driver he struggled with a “murderer.”

Yet another young rider has been impaled on his handlebars, this time in Israel. Clearly, there’s a design flaw that needs to be addressed on children’s bikes; this should never happen, let alone as often as it does.

 

Finally…

In a truly bizarre case, a man escapes from a Miami mental health clinic after jumping into the ocean, then attempts and fails to carjack a driver before bike-jacking a passing bicyclist — then crashes head-on into the car he’d attempted to steal moments earlier.

And Washington state police have to take down photos of 60-plus recovered bicycles when pornographic images somehow get included

 

Update — bike rider killed in Huntington Beach hit-and-run

Another Orange County bicyclist has been killed by a heartless hit-and-run driver.

KABC-7 reports that a 34-year old woman, whose has not been released, was struck by a white van around 8:25 last night near the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Utica Ave.

The driver fled the scene without stopping. Meanwhile, the victim was taken to UCI Medical Center, where she died.

The Orange County Register reports she was in a crosswalk on Utica when she was struck; a satellite photo shows four well-marked crosswalks at the intersection. They also report that the van was last seen fleeing north on Beach Blvd.

No further details are available at this time. Anyone with information is urged to call police Huntington Beach police accident investigators Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Robert Barr at 714-536-5666

Read more: http://ktla.com/2014/04/07/driver-sought-after-cyclist-killed-in-huntington-beach-hit-and-run/#ixzz2yFUMPpW8

This is the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County since the first of the year, three of which have been hit-and-runs.

She is also the second bike rider killed in a Huntington Beach hit-and-run in the last two months, and the fifth rider to die in a hit-and run in the city since 2010.

Looks like there’s a serious problem there.

Update: Still no ID on the victim; however, KTLA-5 reports that she was a resident of Huntington Beach.

The Register has removed the paywall from their article, which says the driver appears to have been headed north on Beach, while the victim was riding east on Utica. Police are now looking for a white sedan with probable front-end damage; earlier reports suggested the vehicle was a white van.

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 34-year old Genevieve Ann Hall of Huntington Beach. Meanwhile, the suspect vehicle has been identified as a 2006 to 2013 Chevy Impala with damage to the front bumper. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update 3: Friends and family members struggle to deal with Hall’s death. And a fundraiser will be held at Mama’s On 39 in Huntington Beach on Wednesday night to help pay her funeral expenses.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Genevieve Ann Hall and her loved ones.

Morning Links: Not guilty pleas in OC meth hit-and-run, BFF KINDness, and fundraiser for OC’s Matt Liechty

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, so let’s not waste any time.

……..

Not surprisingly, 18-year old Sommer Gonzalez pled not guilty to all counts in the death of cyclist Joe Robinson on Orange County’s Santiago Canyon almost exactly two months earlier.

As the chart below shows, she entered a plea of not guilty to four felony and two misdemeanor violations of the criminal code, and denied two felony violations of the state vehicle code.

I’m told she’s been remanded into custody pending trial. Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 21st.

Sommer-Gonzalez-Charges-2

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and an anonymous source for the tip.

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A relative of fallen cyclist Matt Liechty sends word that a fundraiser will be held in his honor this Saturday. The event will take place at Perry’s Pizza, 2108 W. Oceanfront Blvd in Newport Beach, with donations accepted from 11 am to midnight.

Liechty was the victim of yet another February Orange County hit-and-run, as the former OC Sheriff and Probation Department employee was run down in a Huntington Beach bike lane by an alleged drunk driver who fled the scene, leaving one of his wheels behind.

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SAMSUNGSnack bar maker KIND has come up with a clever promotion for this weekend’s Bicycle Film Festival.

Due to a delivery issue and a busy schedule, I’m a little behind in sharing this, but you still have one more day — today — to share a little kindness with a friend.

#kindawesome
Spread kindness in Los Angeles. Send a flower and KIND bars to a friend via bike messenger. www.KINDsnacks.com/kinddeliveries 
 
#bffworld 
Bring your friends to the Bicycle Film Festival coming to LA – April 4-5th! www.bicyclefilmfestival.com/city/los-angeles/
 
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BICYCLE FILM FESTIVAL:
Location: Aratani/Japan America Theatre (downtown)
Dates/Times: Friday, April 4th 7:30pm + 9:30pm; Saturday, April 5th 7pm + 9pm

The four unique screenings of narrative and cinematic films kick off with the premiere of HALF THE ROAD, BY Kathryn Bertine a highly anticipated feature about the highlights and challenges of women’s cycling, setting the tone for the following three programs of fun and poignant shorts illuminating the joys and perseverance riding inspires across cultures, ages and landscapes.

We also just added after parties for both nights, which will take place at Angel City Brewery just a few blocks away. (216 S. Alameda)

SAMSUNG

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A Santa Monica high school student has developed a handlebar mounted cell phone holder and speaker to give you access to all your aps, as well as music and hands-free calling. As of Wednesday, it was roughly $10,000 short of its Kickstarter goal with 10 days to go.

Personally, one of the many reasons I ride a bike is to get away from all the electronic demands on my attention, and experience the real world for awhile. And as far as I’m concerned, there are enough distracted motorists on the roads without adding distracted cyclists to the mix.

But you can learn more here.

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Local

KPCC says it’s never too late to learn how to ride a bike, thanks to CICLE’s adult Learn to Ride classes.

A guest writer for the Times Opinion page thanks LA drivers for safely sharing the road; your experience may vary.

Flying Pigeon asks for a little network elegance when it comes to LA bikeways, but despairs of the power council members have to stop it.

LAist reminds us that CicLAvia isn’t the only bike event this weekend, and that there’s more to life than bicycling. Meanwhile, LA Magazine offers advice on what to eat and see on Wilshire this Sunday.

 

State

Oceanside is about to open the next segment of a planned 44-mile bike trail from Oceanside to San Diego.

Less-than-bike-friendly CSU Sacramento considers on-campus bike lanes and enforcement of bike-free zones to improve campus safety.

A San Jose writer asks if racing culture has sucked all the fun out of riding a bike. That’s the great thing about bike riding, though; you can race or ride for recreation, exercise or transportation. Or all of the above, whatever works for you. And whether or not you pay any attention to other kinds of riders is entirely up to you.

An 18-year old Pleasanton man faces 2nd degree murder and felony reckless driving charges after losing control of his speeding car last June, and slamming into a couple bicycling in the opposite direction, killing the wife. He had previously invited his Twitter followers to join him on a “death ride;” meanwhile, his father faces a possible third strike for weapons and controlled substances that were found when conducted a search related to his son’s case.

 

National

In a truly bizarre case, a Missouri woman has pled guilty to hit-and-run in the death of a bike rider last year. She was reportedly fleeing from her ex-boyfriend at the time, who was chasing her in a stolen car while flashing a gun; he faces a second-degree murder charge for causing the death.

 

International

An English magistrate questions whether a law banning cyclists from riding drunk was intended to apply to bike riders; Parliament may have to make the final determination.

A UK man plans to ride the courses of the five European Spring Classics on a homemade Penny Farthing.

And in the last of today’s string of killer teenage drivers, an 18-year old British woman is accused of going crazy following a dispute at a party, then tracking down and killing her victim with her car as he rode his bike.

Evidently, the same three foot law that’s in use throughout the US becomes hopelessly impractical when converted to Australia’s metric system.

 

Finally…

It’s okay to carry a shovel on your bike, but don’t use it to threaten police and laundromat customers.

And if you’re riding drunk in Pennsylvania, put a damn light on your bike and don’t yell at passing patrol cars; bike lawyer Bob Mionske notes that his 15 day sentence is more than most drivers face for killing someone.

 

Your fool-free Morning Links, including a well-done bike film, and a book deservedly thrown by OC prosecutors

 

Yes, this post is dated April 1st, despite my best efforts to get it online earlier.

But no, you won’t find any April fools here.

Except possibly a writer/rider who keeps hoping the motoring public will somehow get it, and transform our roadways into the safe and welcoming streets they can and should be. That cyclists will assert their right to ride the streets in a safe and courteous manner.

And that both will form, if not a genuine friendship, as least a grudging détente that will allow us all to arrive at our various destinations in peace. And in one piece.

It could happen.

Right?

………

Orange County prosecutors are prepared to throw the book at a young driver facing 15 years and nine months in state prison. As well as one year and six months in county jail.

And frankly, she couldn’t deserve it more.

Allegedly, of course.

That’s what 18-year old Tustin resident Sommer Gonzalez could potentially serve once she’s arraigned on Tuesday in the hit-and-run death of 21-year old cyclist Joe Robinson this past February.

Robinson, who worked at Jax Bicycle Center in Irvine, was riding in the bike lane on southbound Santiago Canyon in Orange when he was plowed down from behind by Gonzalez’ car. Gonzalez fled the scene, but was arrested an hour later based on the description of her car given by an off-duty fire battalion chief, who also found Robinson’s body.

According to Rancho Santa Margarita Patch, she will face a long list of charges.

  • One felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
  • Driving under the influence of drugs causing bodily injury
  • Hit and run with death
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • One misdemeanor count of use and under the influence of a controlled substance
  • One misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia
  • Sentencing enhancement allegations for inflicting great bodily injury
  • Sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of a crime

The real tragedy here is that two lives were destroyed that morning. A well-loved young man needlessly lost his life.

And a young woman willfully threw hers away.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and John McBrearty for the heads-up.

………

Great short film with a wicked twist if you have a little less than 10 minutes to kill. Thanks to John Murphy aka murphstahoe for the link.

………

Local

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton asks why Metro is looking at raising fares while giving away free parking. Damn good question if you ask me.

HuffPo talks with CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley.

The LA Weekly casts a questioning eye on the state’s proposed vulnerable user law; don’t bother reading the comments unless you’ve got a strong stomach.

Three perspectives on turning the Riverside bridge into an elevated park.

A walker is injured after looking over her shoulder but still turning into the path of a cyclist, leading a community leader says more must be done to prevent future collisions on the Elysian Valley section of the LA River bike path.

A cop in Watts pulls over a cyclist for a traffic violation, and ends up shooting a pit bull after its owner — not the bike rider — sics him on the officer. Thanks to Rick Risemberg for the heads-up.

 

State

Jeff Miller of the Alliance for Biking and Walking will speak about Building a Bike Friendly City in Santa Ana next Monday. Thanks to Frank Peters for the tip.

Brewcyclers will be riding to a new brewery in Anaheim at the end of this month.

Turns out San Diego’s new police chief is one of us.

 

National

A pair of BMX-borne bastards knock an  85-year old Las Vegas woman down and steal her belongings; there’s a special place in hell for people like that.

A Missouri woman faces up to seven years after pleading guilty to the high-speed hit-and-run death of a cyclist.

A New York artist offers an illustrated guide to the city’s stereotypical bicyclists.

Bike traffic just keeps growing on DC’s protected bike lanes.

 

International

A Brit band plans a full album of bike-inspired songs.

Once again, a British bike rider is seriously injured after someone strings a rope across the pathway he was riding on.

London buses will get new bike and pedestrian sensors to help avoid collisions.

A promo for a UK bicycling festival is pulled after people call it sexist. And yes, it is. Or was.

Ten things that put British residents off riding; I suspect those same reasons would hold true just about anywhere.

An Irish teenager says he was so drunk and stoned he had no idea what he was doing when he assaulted a cyclist, beat her viciously and stole her groceries. Maybe someone can save room for him in Hades next to those BMX bandits.

 

Finally…

An Aussie reporter offers five tips to avoid helmet hair — including just not riding.

And a photo from JoJointhe310 shows that there are exceptions to every rule.

Bike Parking Sign

 

Bypassing busy traffic on 7th Street, notes from the LAPD bike task force, and Beverly Hills bike lanes redux

When is a bike lane not a bike lane?

When it’s a traffic lane allowing impatient drivers to bypass backed-up traffic for a whole block, shaving maybe a few seconds off the evening commute.

……….

A few notes from last week’s meeting with the LAPD’s bike liaisons.

First off, Sgt. Lazlo Sandor has taken over as bike liaison for the West Traffic Division; you’ll find his email address on the Resources page.

As part of Chief Beck’s proclamation that this will be the year of traffic enforcement, the LAPD has transferred a number of officers to work the city’s four traffic divisions. The good news is, the city is now focused on cracking down on dangerous drivers — like the one in the video above, for instance. The bad news is, bike violations are considered traffic offenses as well, so be forewarned.

One of the biggest problems in fixing traffic problems has long been that no one has been tracking bicycling and pedestrians collisions, injuries and fatalities. Which meant no one had a clue just what and where those problems might be, let alone how to solve them. Fortunately, the LAPD is now keeping track of all of the above as part of their Compstat program, requiring traffic officers to appear four times a year to discuss problems in their areas. And the department is tracking the most dangerous intersections for all road users to determine what has to be done to improve safety for everyone.

Last week’s story that Houston police officers were conducting traffic stings to improve safety for the city’s cyclists made news around the world. Which may have come as a surprise to LA officers, who have been doing the same thing for some time without public notice. In fact, LA’s West Traffic Division has conducted nine such stings since the first of the year — eight to enforce bike lane issues and one for stop sign enforcement. A total of 53 people were cited, including both cyclists and drivers; LAPD policy does not allow for selective enforcement, so they’re required to write up any violations they see during a sting, regardless of who commits it.

Finally, they stressed the importance of getting permits in advance for events that will require police participation. When the recent Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race was cancelled at the last minute, the department cancelled the officers who had been scheduled to work the event. Then when it was rescheduled at the last minute as a ride, they had to scramble to get enough officers to work the event on such short notice, and ended up paying out over $10,000 in overtime. While they understood the situation with the Marathon Crash, they ask for a minimum of 28 days advance notice to avoid any issues if you’re planning some sort of event.

On the other hand, if you break the law, they’re happy to show up with little or no notice.

……….

The subject of bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd through Beverly Hills is back on the council agenda this Tuesday. Except they’re not, but maybe they are. It’s a complicated subject explained well by Better Bike.

Meanwhile, a Beverly Hills homeowner’s association offers their reasons why bike lanes are a bad idea, few if any of which actually hold water.

For instance, someone should tell them that California law requires that drivers merge into bike lanes before making right turns, rather than turning across the lane as they suggest (#2). And surprisingly, blind spots exist on motor vehicles, which can hide the presence of bikes from careless drivers like themselves, whether or not bike lanes exist.

……….

Finally, this just in as a friend of mine reports an assault while riding home on PCH in Orange County.

I was riding on the super dark stretch of PCH between the oilfield and 10,000 miles of ocean. An empty car was stopped, no blinkers, on the shoulder. With cars coming up behind me at 60mph, the only option is to stop and wait for them to pass, or hike over the shrubs on the slope to the right of the (red) curb.

I take a picture of the car, and an angry guy kicks the driver’s side door open, emerges, and comes at me barking, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I dismount in case I have to run for it and start backing away while he repeatedly demands the camera, which he ain’t gonna get.

Long story short, he ends up throwing me, my bike & my bag (containing the Coolpix he was so interested in, plus my MacBook Air & iPad) into the ice plant.

I’m not injured, but my glasses are still out there because I gave up looking for them when the damn sprinklers came on. Also, I called Hunny PD back, and arranged them to just meet me at work for the report. The officer arrived before me AND TOLD MY COWORKER I HAD BEEN HIT BY A CAR. Boy, was she relieved when I grumped up my boss’s porch stairs with bike on shoulder & no visible injuries.

Lesson: Assume even parked cars are full of ex-convicts who will be violently angry with you for nothing.

I’m scared to check my MacBook.

BOLO alert for stolen Bianchi, appeal denied for convicted victim blaming OC drunk driver, and Morning Links

I hate bike thieves.

I hate even more when they victimize my friends. Or friends of my friends.

Or anyone, for that matter.

That’s what happened sometime Monday night or Tuesday when a friend of a friend had his bike stolen from inside a locked car a gated parking area at his Silver Lake apartment.

To make matters worse, he’d only had it for three weeks after taking up riding again for the first time in over a decade, using it to commute to work and explore the area around Echo Park, Silver Lake and DTLA.

So be on the lookout for a new Bianchi Brava, white 55 cm frame with red lettering, standard flat pedals and Shimano 2300 components.

BjnsAyDCAAE0ZV_

A police report is on file, so call the police if you see it. Or contact me, and I’ll get word to the owner.

And one word of advice.

Take your sell phone right now, and snap a photo of your bike’s serial number. Then email it to yourself, while keeping the original on your phone.

That way you’ll have the serial number safely recorded in two separate places, with no risk of transcribing errors.

……….

Evidently, she didn’t quite grasp the concept of a designated driver.

An Orange County woman had her appeal denied five years after she was convicted for killing a cyclist near Knott’s Berry Farm while driving at twice the legal limit — despite agreeing to be the designated driver for a group of friends.

She was sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison for the death; most likely because she was already on probation for previous DUI convictions in 2002 and 2004.

Her appeal was based on the judge’s action in denying evidence that the victim was allegedly high on meth and booze, and riding six feet into the roadway — aka taking the lane — with no reflectors and while wearing headphones.

Nothing like blaming a victim who can’t defend herself.

Fortunately — or unfortunately for her — her appeal was filed a year too late. So the woman she killed won’t have to depend on others to defend her character, or her actions.

Thanks to Lois for the tip.

……….

A memorial celebration will be held Wednesday evening for fallen Fountain Valley bike rider Sean Severson, on what would have been his 16th birthday.

I love that attitude. Mourn the loss, but celebrate the person you knew and loved, even if they’re gone far too soon.

……….

Local

LA Observed reminds us about the upcoming Wilshire Blvd CicLAvia, and reprises last year’s guide to the route; I’m a fan of the Militant Angeleno’s guide, too.

A writer for City Watch says LA’s proposed street repair program is not ready for primetime.

Can’t see the forest for the trees. Pasadena police respond to pedestrian fatalities by cracking down on the potential victims rather than the people in the big, dangerous vehicles who might kill them.

 

State

Biking under the influence does matter. Personally, I’d prefer that no one gets out on the road after drinking or using drugs. But I’d much rather have a drunk on a bike than behind the wheel.

The San Diego Reader warns locals away from the city’s second CicloSDias, their take on a ciclovia. I remember an equally off-target screed from the LA Weekly predicting disaster before LA’s first CicLAvia.

Oddly, the civil suit has already been settled — for undisclosed terms, of course — in the case of the Tesla driver who blamed that new car smell for killing a Santa Cruz cyclist.

Once again, a reminder that you’ll need a good bike for the coming collapse of civilization, this time from the SF Weekly.

Speaking of which, Oakland is the latest city to move forward with an LA-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. If you want to lower your IQ 30 points, just read the comments.

 

National

The Bike League urges you to contact the USDOT and tell them that one dead cyclist is one too many.

US cities are using bike repair programs to teach youth job skills and increase ridership.

How to frame your pitch to government officials.

A Phoenix man is arrested for kidnapping after officers spot him riding a bike with a pajama-clad 4-year old girl in his lap at three in the morning.

Houston police conduct stings to target drivers who endanger cyclists. The LAPD has discussed similar tactics, but to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t tried it yet. Thanks to Nicole Gustas for the heads-up.

Ohio bails on a three-foot passing law.

A Syracuse cyclist is suing the local police department for a collision in which he was hit by a squad car after running a stop sign. And the cop that hit him ran one, too.

An Allentown PA driver gets nine to 23 months for hitting a cyclist and fleeing the scene; police found his car abandoned half-a-mile away, with the bike still trapped underneath.

 

International

A British advocacy group says two million new Brit riders are about to take to the roads. Not all at once, I hope.

That dooring Down Under video has stirred up a hornet’s nest of bike hate.

An Aussie man is the second in two weeks to be injured after slipping on the paint stencil marking a bike lane.

More bike lanes come to Manila in the Philippines.

 

Finally…

I’m just old enough to remember the classic 7-Eleven Cycling Team take on European racing — the first US riders to tackle the classics. Cycling News remembers Davis Phinney’s disastrous Milan-San Remo, yet very American cyclist since has followed in those pioneering tire tracks.

And did I mention that I hate bike thieves?

A year in jail for killer Moorpark driver, cyclist hit by Maserati on Rock Store climb, and your Morning Links

Somehow, this one fell through the cracks last month.

Susan Levy, a cousin of fallen Moorpark cyclist Bernie Cooper’s widow, reported that the driver who killed him pled guilty to felony hit-and-run and two related misdemeanor counts.

Twenty-two year old Ridgecrest resident Nicholas Santiago was sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation.

Santiago hit Cooper’s bike as he was riding on Tierra Rejada Road with enough force that Cooper’s body was thrown into a nearby tree. Santiago fled the scene, but apparently had a change of heart and returned half an hour later to accept responsibility.

Thanks to Levy for keeping us in the loop. And my apologies for the delay in reporting this.

……….

Reports are a cyclist was airlifted to a hospital after being struck by a Maserati on the Rock Store Climb — aka the Snake — on Mulholland yesterday morning. No word on the condition of the rider.

Paul Herold, the famed photographer who documents the activity on that contested stretch of roadway — and offered advice here on how to stay safe there — somehow managed to capture the male victim in midair following the initial impact. Personally, I think it’s in poor taste to post a photo of someone in the process of being injured, so use your own judgment on whether to click the link.

However, it should also be noted that Herold was seen comforting the victim until help arrived.

And of course, the comments devolve into whether cyclists should be allowed on the crowded roadway, especially on weekends. A better question is why speeding motorists are allowed to test their limited skills there.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the links.

……….

Interesting idea. Denver has an Amber Alert-type system to warn the public to be on the watch for hit-and-run vehicles, called a Medina Alert. Oregon is considering a similar system, which was named after a 21-year old man killed in a hit-and-run.

Maybe we should push our City Council members and state legislators to get a similar system in place here. Especially one that notifies every body shop to be on the lookout for a car matching the description of the suspect vehicle — with serious penalties for failing to report it the police.

Of course, the problem with any citywide program is that drivers could sidestep the law by taking their vehicles across the city limit, where compliance would be voluntary rather than mandatory.

On the other hand, the city can usually move much faster than the lumbering state legislature to get something like that in place.

Thanks to our anonymous OC/South Bay source for the tip.

……….

Local

Friday’s Critical Mass will honor hit-and-run victims with a candlelight vigil.

A LAPD officer and a bike rider both suffered injuries in a South LA fight after the rider refused to accept a vehicle code citation. Or maybe they’re predicting the future, since the article — dated today — says the fight occurred, or maybe will occur, at 9:35 tonight. Though I assume they meant last night.

Outside Magazine looks at the recent uncanceled Marathon Crash ride, while the LA Weekly offers a comparison of the Ballona Creek bike path and the Elysian Valley section of the LA River bike path.

Errands by bike are easier when you add the Red Line to your route.

USC’s Neon Tommy looks at the benefits and challenges of riding in LA, and offers a vision for the future.

Cynergy Cycles offers a free seminar on making extreme cycling events easier with science on Wednesday.

If you still give a damn about the Lance Armstong saga, the Times reviews two new books on the subject.

Long Beach’s Charlie Gandy offers a detailed look at the city’s streetdecks.

 

State

More proof that bike riders aren’t always the good guys as a Riverside County cyclist stabs a driver in the neck and steals his vehicle.

A 23-year old driver turns himself in for killing a cyclist in a Half Moon Bay hit-and-run. Maybe he had enough time to sober up before coming forward.

Fruit of the poisonous tree? A Napa man is arrested for meth possession after being stopped for texting while riding his bike. Except texting on a bike isn’t illegal in California, which could call the stop and everything that followed into question if he has a good lawyer.

A Yuba City program teaches people with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheeled bike independently; I’d love to see a program like that here. And everywhere.

A local cyclist with nearly 50-years riding experience writes the book on Northern California’s best riding routes.

 

National

A Tucson women develops an LED/reflective harness to improve bike and pedestrian safety.

Tulsa gets its first mile-long bike lanes following a road diet; do I really have to say some residents aren’t happy?

An Ohio rider is killed by a 78-year old driver while on a 200-mile group ride.

New York’s highly successful and suddenly embattled bike share program faces a possible cash shortfall, as the mayor refuses a bailout and Alta is accused of shoddy maintenance.  But if it survives, you can (illegally) add an e-motor to your rental ride for just $1,350.

CNN looks at New York’s Worksman Industrial Cycles, the oldest large-scale bike manufacturer that actually makes its bikes in the US, in operation since 1898.

 

International

Huh? A Hamilton Canada letter writer says don’t build bike lanes to make bicycling safer because it’s too dangerous for motorists when cyclists ride in the winter. Oh, and fix those damn potholes first.

Tragic news from across the Atlantic as a British father of three is killed by an 18-year old drunk driver while on a 24-hour, 248-mile solo charity ride. He’d hoped to raise £1000 for the mental health charity; after his death, over £40,000 in donations have poured in. A 19-year old man has also been arrested.

The UK’s Independent looks at the rise of the female cyclist, while two teenage girls have been arrested for attempting to decapitate one.

My favorite Scottish bike blogger writes about getting caught in a stinging rain and offers advice for surviving such. And appropriately closes with this line: “Anyone commenting to the effect that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, will be hunted down and drowned.”

Copenhagenize conducts a little bike archeology, and comes up with 10 former bike features worth reviving.

A Philippines congressman calls for bike lanes on the country’s major thoroughfares.

A Bangkok airport offers bike riders a new 14-mile off-road bikeway.

 

Finally…

In a man bites dog twist, a Florida man was arrested for leaving the scene after drunkenly colliding with a SUV.  On a bike. And in a case of man bites cop, a  Sacramento rider is under arrest for biting the officer who tried to stop him for a traffic violation, and assaulting another.

Makes that South LA case look pretty tame.

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