Archive for Hit-and-Run

Morning Links: The Times looks at rising bike hit-and-run rates; and the year’s most inspirational video

You already knew hit-and-runs were a problem for cyclists.

But maybe none of us realized just how bad it’s become.

According to the LA Times, overall injury and fatal hit-and-run rates have actually declined since 2000. Except for those involving bike riders, which have increased a whopping 42% since then.

It’s easy to lay blame for the increase on a rising rate of bicycling over the same period, which has grown 61% since the turn of the century, according to a recent report from the League of American Bicyclists. But the fact that overall rates have gone down while bike-involved hit-and-runs have gone up just raises the question of why so many drivers think it’s okay to leave a bike rider bleeding in the street.

Then again, maybe it’s just that a collision with a bike rider is less likely to leave the driver’s car too damaged to flee than a wreck with another motor vehicle.

Regardless of the reason, nothing will change until the law is changed to make the penalties for hit-and-run greater than the potential reward for running away.

And that won’t happen until someone can get it through our out-of-touch governor’s head that hit-and-run is a serious — and deadly — problem.

Especially for those of us who aren’t protected by a couple tons of glass and steel.

………

The Times piece also notes that an overwhelming 80% of all hit-and-runs go unsolved. And only half of the cases that do get solved result in a conviction.

In other words, drivers have a 90% chance of getting away with it if they hit the gas instead of the brake after a collision. No wonder hit-and-run remains at epidemic proportions.

In addition, the story profiles some of the victims of fleeing drivers — at least, the ones still able to tell their own story, including Paul Livingston, whose story was told here last June.

There’s a great interactive map, as well, that drives home the obscene number of bike-involved hit-and-runs every year, and where you need to be on the lookout for fleeing drivers. Including Long Beach, Santa Monica, DTLA, Van Nuys and North Hollywood — in other words, the places where you’re most likely to find people on bikes.

And the paper offers a video interview with Finish the Ride’s Damian Kevitt, who barely survived the gruesome hit-and-run that took his leg.

Then again, it’s not just an LA problem, as a Florida paper asks what kind of driver doesn’t stop after hitting someone.

Or more to point, what kind of pond-sucking scum would even consider it?

………

No surprise, as prosecutors have declined to press charges against the South LA bike rider allegedly beaten by cops while being held down after a brief pursuit.

Police had reportedly ordered Clinton Alford to stop while he was riding his bike on the sidewalk along Avalon Blvd, but he kept going because he says they failed to identify themselves as police officers. Then he ran when someone grabbed his bike from behind, which lead to the alleged beating.

Based on the description of events, though, the police appeared to lack probable cause to make the stop, since sidewalk riding is legal in Los Angeles. Which makes everything that followed, including alleged evidence of drug possession and accusations of resisting arrest, inadmissible in court.

Never mind that filing charges would stand in the way of reaching a settlement with the city over the beating.

………

Unbelievable. A Paso Robles cyclist is dead and her riding partner severely injured because the jerk behind the wheel dropped his effing cell phone and bent down to pick it up. Then had to swerve to avoid the stopped car ahead of him, slamming into the riders in the process.

Never mind that using a hand-held phone while driving is illegal in California.

Or that taking your eyes off the road to pick it up is idiotic.

………

Local

CicLAvia offers a narrative guide to Sunday’s event (pdf) from the real voices of South LA.

An Aussie travel writer takes a 32-mile bike tour of LA in — gasp! — a single day.

West Hills’ Spoke N’ Wheel Bicycles bounces back after a summer fire nearly put it out of business.

An important bike route through the UCLA campus is needlessly blocked by construction. And Porta Potties.

Santa Monica sees a dramatic increase in bicycling since 2000, nearly six times the national growth in cycling. And yes, this story is where I got that stat about the 61% increase in bike riding nationwide.

Riding for a great cause. The Midnight Ridazz annual All City Toy Ride takes place on Friday, December 9th. Thanks to James Hawkes for the link. 

The Eastside Bike Club is hosting a family-friendly Slow ES Cool — Cypress Park Ride to explore some of LA’s and the San Gabriel Valley’s beautiful sites and diverse eateries on Saturday, December 13th.

 

State

Riverside police plan to offer a $10,000 reward in the hit-and-run death of fallen rider D’Andre Sutherland.

A San Bernardino man is the victim of a bike-by shooting; he’ll survive, but may have trouble walking for awhile.

Evidently, they’re just a bunch of old softies, as a group of Hell’s Angels — yes, the notorious motorcycle gang — buy up all the bikes at a Fresno Walmart and donate them for needy kids. And not for the first time.

San Jose prepares to ban all bikes on the sidewalk because of a few overly aggressive riders.

The popular East Bay Bike Party has been cancelled for December due to out-of-control and disrespectful riders.

 

National

Evidently, bad research never dies, as the press continues to report on that highly flawed Governors’ report on bike safety.

Rails to Trails offers 10 great bike movie moments.

Your next GoPro could offer overhead shots, as the company is reportedly developing its own line of drones.

A Maine man admits to fatally running down his bike riding friend while driving drunk, after initially claiming he found him lying in a ditch.

New York City cuts the speed limit in Central Park to reign in all those dangerous bikes.

New York police use faulty, or perhaps made-up, data to justify a crackdown on bike riders.

 

International

A Vancouver writer says motorists must take more responsibility for keeping cyclists and pedestrians safe.

An Ottawa paper goes for major click bait, asking their readers whether an idiot on a bike or a moron behind the wheel is worse. How about the idiot editor who approved the piece?

A new association of the top pro cycling teams plans to bring a little more rationality to the sport.

A London writer offers up five mistakes that cancel out even the best bike lights.

London’s mayor Boris considers holding open streets events in the city after seeing similar events in Jakarta. If he thinks that’s impressive, we should invite him to Sunday’s CicLAvia.

Bike cams are being accepted as evidence in cases against Scottish motorists.

An American man and his 12-year old son tour Amsterdam by bike, including the Red Light District.

Caught on video: A Polish rider participating in a bikejoring competition — racing with dogs pulling her bike — is tackled by, not 10 Lords a Leaping, but a leaping herd of deer.

A Chengdu, China bike rider invents an air purifier that fits in a very big backpack.

 

Finally…

Florida cyclists connect through Facebook to get a man’s $5,000 Cannondale back before he even knew it was stolen. Lance just can’t keep away from the sport, as he admits to motorpacing BMC’s Tejay van Garderen.

And they must make ‘em tough Down Under, as a 13-year old boy rides his bike back home after being bitten by a shark.

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One quick bonus video: Michael Eisenberg forwards what may be the most inspirational video you’ll see this year, featuring former race car champ and champion paracyclist Alex Zarnardi, who lost both legs in a car racing collision.

Seriously, if he can get back on a bike, so can I.

And so can you.

 

Morning Links: OC hit-and-run driver gets a slap on the wrist; Detroit’s Shinola opens a new store in Silverlake

Our Orange County source reports on the semi-successful conclusion of the case against the hit-and-run driver who critically injured a bike riding Santa Ana girl.

Arif Abdul Sattar accepted a plea deal yesterday. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with two days’ credit for time served, plus the usual fines & restitution. If he qualifies for home confinement, he can serve his time under house arrest instead. If not, he has the option of County or a city (a “pay-to-stay”) jail, though because of a change in his employment circumstances, he may not be able to afford city. His driver’s license was also suspended for a full year.

His lawyer had hoped to be able to get a no contest plea deal, because a nolo contendere cannot be used against him in the civil suit. The judge denied this request.

Terrifyingly, the judge cited some “mitigating circumstances” in allowing for the possibility of house arrest. One was the fact that he had called a lawyer right away after the incident. This is not a “mitigating circumstance.” This is Sattar’s tacit acknowledgement of his awareness that he had committed a crime. He probably didn’t even know which crime, because although he certainly deduced from the sudden opacity of his windshield that a collision of some sort had occurred, he was a little confused about the requirement to remain at the scene. For all we know, he was distracted and couldn’t remember what color his signal was at the time of the collision, and this factored into his choice to flee. The information that he proceeded thorough a green light comes from his young victim’s admission that she ran the red. Also, it was four days before he was interviewed by the police.

Another mitigating circumstance is Mr. Sattar’s “lack of priors.” Immediately after mentioning this, the judge then STATED HIS PRIOR, another vehicular crime which demonstrated the same selfish lack of consideration for others on the roadway, and was probably committed with the same vehicle.

I also only found out at the plea hearing that the family has had zero interest in assisting the prosecution. They’ve filed a civil suit (I have to check, but it may be just to cover medical bills, with no request for compensation for pain & suffering, etc). If I were a mama, I wouldn’t want my kid to have to face the evil fuck who snapped her bone like a twig and then left her for dead. Especially on a school day, y’know.

Nice to see yet another judge take hit-and-run seriously, especially even when it leaves a critically injured little girl bleeding in the street.

And yes, that is sarcasm.

……..

A suspected drunk driver is under arrest after clipping a Fullerton cyclist with his wing mirror, in a clear violation of the three-foot passing law. Although he doesn’t appear to have been charged with that yet.

The victim suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive. And as turns out it’s not the driver’s first DUI.

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Local

Somehow this one slipped under the radar, as Detroit-based Shinola opened their first West Coast store in Silverlake.

CICLE leads a leisurely holiday themed ride through Northeast LA on Saturday the 13th in conjunction with LADOT, LACBC and others whose names aren’t initials.

Santa Monica Spoke looks at the South LA CicLAvia, just two Sundays away.

 

State

A new petition calls on California to change the new three-foot passing law to allow drivers to safely cross the yellow line. Governor Brown has already vetoed a similar provision, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Bike Newport Beach is hosting a pre-Thanksgiving ride on Wednesday.

Boston’s Isolate Cyclist takes a critical look at those questionable San Diego stats blaming cyclists for most collisions. Meanwhile, a mind-reading San Diego-area letter writer knows why bike riders do those things we do.

Forty Riverside kids get free bikes, along with a talk by Olympic cyclist Amber Neben.

A cyclist takes you on a 70-mile ride around Santa Barbara — and describes how to control the lane in a dangerous situation.

 

National

People for Bikes offers an ode to the beater bike.

That nine-year old boy who said he was called by God to bike across the country has finished his journey, raising over $25,000 to fight cancer. No word on whether God gave him an attaboy at the finish line.

A good bike network is key for a successful bike share system. So much for LA’s planned system.

Forty-three year old pro cyclist Chris Horner will continue to ride, coming home to an unnamed American team for 2015.

My brother competed in the famed Iditarod sled dog race four times; this guy’s done it nine times, by bike. And without the help of dogs.

The Today Show discovers Cranksgiving.

Durham NC sets a policy allowing ghost bikes to stay indefinitely, unless someone complains.

 

International

Montreal’s threatened bike share system gets a reprieve for the next five years.

Turns out Sherlock Holmes is one of us. The modern, British heartthrob one.

The UK has nearly 10 million bike riders, one-fifth of whom ride every week.

The Australian National Museum is hosting an exhibition on bicycling Down Under.

 

Finally…

Scotts Valley police must employ brilliant interrogation techniques, as a man confesses to attempting to steal bikes after being caught red-handed inside a bike shop in the middle of the night after prying the door open. Another crack burglar is busted after falling through the roof of a Rohnert Park bike shop.

And evidently, action cams are nothing new. Wish that Rohnert Park idiot had been wearing one when he fell through the bike shop roof.

 

Morning Links: BOLO alert for El Segundo hit-and-run driver; Brit bike benefit-to-cost ratios off the charts

El Segundo police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who hit a bike rider.

According to the Daily Breeze, a dark haired, 20-something Asian woman was behind the wheel of a black BMW that fled the scene after running down the rider at Maple Ave and Center Street on October 29th.

Although how they can tell she had a thin build seated inside a car is beyond me.

A source tells me the speed limit in the area is just 25 mph; no word on how fast the driver was going. And no word on the rider’s condition.

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I think we all can relate at times.

The designer of Google’s self-driving car says “I’m a cyclist. I don’t like cars.”

Especially since 98% of cellphone-owning drivers say they know the dangers of texting behind the wheel, but three-quarters do it anyway.

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The British transport agency compares benefit-to-cost ratios for various means of transit, and finds bike are off the charts.

Road and rail projects are considered high benefit when they offer a benefit-to-cost ratio of just 2:1, while the country’s new cycling plans offer a ratio of 5.5:1 — and some are as high as 35:1.

I’d like to see a similar study here, where the results would undoubtedly be the same.

Correction: Initially, I had accidentally reversed the term benefit-to-cost as cost-to-benefit, which changes the whole meaning of the story. I have since changed it to read correctly. Thanks to Calla Weimer for the correction. 

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Local

A rental site creates a map of where your bike is most likely to get stolen in cities around the country, including right here in Los Angeles; be extra cautious locking your ride on the Westside. And Fox-11 gives a much appreciated shout out to BikinginLA as part of the story.

The Daily News looks at the LACBC’s Operation Firefly to provide lightless riders with free lights.

A Glendale cyclist is hit by a car, whose driver doesn’t flee for a change. Fortunately, the rider only suffered a broken arm.

Santa Monica Next explains that yes, SaMo is considering going ahead with their own bike share, but they’re working with Metro and the Westside COG to ensure compatibility with any future countywide system.

 

State

The Union-Tribune asks if San Diego can be a mecca for cyclists. Maybe, but I don’t plan to bow down in their direction anytime soon.

Good news from Murietta, as the critically injured cyclist who was run down by a drunk, distracted driver who was eating mushrooms and — as Opus the Poet pointed out — driving in the bike lane, is expected to survive despite major injuries.

Fair warning. If you’re riding a bike in Santa Barbara on the 11th and 12th, make sure you stop for red lights and stop signs.

San Francisco safety advocates rally for faster action on Vision Zero.

Longtime pro Chris Horner talks with a Bay Area business publication about how to build a winning culture.

A proposed Sacramento law goes beyond banning bikes from sidewalks, requiring cyclists to pass a test and get a $10 bicyclist license — something that would probably be illegal under California law, which supersedes misguided local ordinances. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

 

National

The top ten bike apps for Android users. Because not everyone has an iPhone. No, really.

Making cities more bikeable helps return them to a more human and livable scale.

A new study shows what we already knew. If you build a safe bicycling network, more people will ride their bikes and overall health improves.

Someone posted an illegal sign on a Hawaiian road to warn drivers about Japanese bike riders who don’t know the rules of American roads.

The body of a French adventurer has been found six months after he disappeared in an effort to walk, bike and canoe across Alaska.

A new Utah radar system can detect cyclists at red lights. Maybe they could put them in cars, too.

You’ve got to be kidding. The driver whose carelessness nearly killed American cycling legend Dale Stetina in Colorado gets off with restitution and a 60 hours of community service.

As usual, Boston’s Bikeyface nails it in sort of celebrating bike-cations.

A New York TV station panics over speeding cyclists in Central Park, some of whom exceed the posted speed limit by a whole 5 mph! Which naturally leads to…

The NYPD promises to give drivers a little leeway when it comes to enforcing the city’s new 25 mph speed limit. But cracks down on bike riders.

A drunk NYC cyclist hands his bike over to an unarmed thief just because the guy asked for it. Well, okay then.

A New Orleans judge clears the way for a road diet that will probably benefit the businesses suing to halt it.

 

International

A British sustainable transport group says the country’s roads aren’t safe enough, as bicycling injuries and fatalities go up 10%; no word on whether that corresponds to an increase in ridership.

The Netherlands opens the world’s first solar bike path to generate electricity while providing a safe route between two cities. Seems a little problematic, but we’ll see.

Polish cyclists evidently in search of that healthy glow ride through the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Yes, that Chernobyl.

An Indian city gets a new Dutch-inspired cycle track. Which coincidently, just happens to surround the chief minister’s residence.

Katy Perry buys a bike helmet, after she’s spotted riding without one in violation of Australia’s mandatory helmet law. I used to see her riding along the beach in the South Bay so often I started to think we were dating.

Celebrating bikes on a gran fondo-style ride through Japan.

 

Finally…

Repeat after me: if you’re riding a bike with a crack pipe in your pocket and a rock in your pants, don’t deliberately ride in front of a police car. Evidently, God likes bikes, as a nine-year old says the Almighty told him to ride across the country; he must have said something to the boy’s parents too, since they went along with the plan.

And the devil may be in the details, but he won’t be chasing competitors in the Tour de France anymore.

 

Morning Links: LA cyclist killed in Arizona; Santa Ana hit-and-run driver has long record and suspended license

Let’s start with the bad news.

LA cyclist Jesse A. Simon was killed while riding in Arizona last Thursday.

The driver who hit Simon to police he attempted to swerve at the last second when the 65-year old rider entered the roadway — apparently from the shoulder of the highway — but still clipped him with the pickup’s mirror.

Of course, in real life, that usually means the driver wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see the cyclist until it was too late, and simply didn’t react in time. Unfortunately, unless another witness is found, police will only have the driver’s statement to go by, since the victim is unable to give his side of the story.

I’m told Simon worked for LA Metro, though I don’t know what position he held with the county transit agency.

An earlier version of the story said he was riding through Arizona as part of a national bike tour; however, that has since been removed for some reason.

My prayers and condolences for Jesse Simon, and all his family, friends and co-workers.

Thanks to Alan and Vanessa for the link.

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Police make an arrest in the hit-and-run deaths of three trick-or-treating teenage girls who were killed in Santa Ana Halloween night.

Thirty-one year old Jaquin Ramone Bell was arrested on Sunday, and booked on felony hit-and-run causing death; he also had two outstanding warrants for domestic violence charges.

Unbelievably, Bell had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of child abuse and endangerment, DUI and hit-and-run with property damage for an August 1st collision in Anaheim. And was sentenced to a whopping 10 days in jail and three years probation on the child abuse count, and eight days — eight — for the traffic charges.

We should all thank the judge who set him loose to kill someone the next time.

Granted, he was driving on a suspended license when he killed the three girls. Although clearly that didn’t stop him.

Then again, that’s probably to be expected since he had violated probation seven times before.

And we can only guess whether he was drunk behind the wheel on Halloween, despite a three-month court ordered substance abuse program. Fleeing the scene gave him plenty of time to sober up before he was busted two days later.

If he had been drinking or using drugs, that is.

And did I mention that he had his own teenage children in the car with him when he fled the scene like the heartless coward he allegedly is, leaving three innocent children to die in the street?

Nice parenting lesson there, dude.

If you’re not disgusted, maybe you should be. Because once again, our courts failed to take traffic crime seriously, despite being given every possible warning that the suspect couldn’t be trusted.

But once again, they gave him yet another second chance.

And once again, an innocent victim died as a result. Or three, in this case.

Yes, they should charge the jerk with three counts of felony murder, lock him up and drop the key in the deepest pits of hell.

But maybe the people who let him off the hook over and over should do some of that time with him.

Meanwhile, Santa Ana officials vow to slow speeds and improve pedestrian safety, which is sadly lacking in the city.

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Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk offers a detailed report on the death of triathlete Gary Holmes, two-and-a-half years after he was run down by a DUI driver near Los Olivos.

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Local

Mayor Garcetti wants LA to experiment with pedestrian scrambles, already proven in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and yes, Westwood — as well as countless cities around the world. Yet the Times worries drivers will freak out over having to wait at red lights a few more seconds.

Groundbreaking took place on Saturday for the Greenway Trail, extending the LA River bike path another five miles through the San Fernando Valley.

LA erases DIY street safety efforts in Silver Lake, but lets gang symbols remain on South LA streets.

A suspected drunk driver hits a seven-year old Burbank bike rider; fortunately, the boy is expected to recover. So don’t expect the courts to take it seriously or anything.

Pasadena gets $172,000 to conduct a year-long bike safety program for children and their families.

 

State

Cyclelicious offers a statewide guide to today’s election.

Huntington Beach sees a jump in bike thefts. Evidently, you’re not safe on your bike in HB, and your bike’s not safe when you’re off it.

Bike share is finally getting ready to roll in San Diego, where the first stations were installed Monday.

A reminder that the end of Daylight Savings increases the risk for riders; make sure you leave home with the lights you’ll need later.

The Sacramento Bee says the recent governor’s report on bike deaths misses the chance to focus on real problems.

 

National

A new warning system alerts drivers to the presence of bikes, but only of they both have the same system installed. Or drivers could, you know, just pay attention.

A Tucson cyclist is killed by an unmarked patrol car.

A Minneapolis cyclist has his bike stolen after an alleycat race, but the thief returns it the same night.

An Illinois cyclist is killed by a driver who crossed onto the wrong side of the road; somehow, the state police still blame the victim.

New distracted driving laws took effect in New York state on Saturday.

A columnist for the New York Daily News claims New York’s new 25 mph speed limit, intended to save lives as part of the city’s Vision Zero, will just mean more lives lost to road raging drivers. Because, you know, it’s impossible to be patient or control your temper behind the wheel; then again, maybe he’s right.

 

International

Biking Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, which you are still officially prohibited from visiting if you carry a US passport.

Olympic cycling champ Chris Boardman offers 12 tips for urban cycling in a BBC video report. But Brits freak out over why he didn’t wear a helmet.

A British statistician looks at how safe cycling really is in the UK.

London police back two proposed bike superhighways. Which is what they called the city’s previous bikeways, which weren’t.

A Yorkshire paper says golf is out as middle-aged men in Lycra get on their bikes.

My favorite Scottish bike advocate and blogger explains why covered bikeways won’t work.

Pro cycling’s governing body may shorten two of the three Grand Tours.

Singapore has some way to go to become a cycling nation.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: A driving instructor and bike trainer explains why those damn cyclists ride in the middle of the road. A new study confirms that San Francisco’s streets are decidedly auto-centric, unlike every other city in North America, evidently.

And meet the bike for people who don’t ride bikes. But does it have a seat that turns into a lock — or wheels made of ice, for that matter?

 

Gov. Brown tacitly endorses hit-and-run; LA finally says enough is enough when it comes to traffic deaths

Once again, California cyclists have been Jerry Browned.

And this time, we’re not alone.

Everyone who uses the state’s streets and highways has been put at risk by our severely out of touch governor, who may be one of the last people left who has no idea that hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions.

The state legislature gets it.

LA-area legislators Mike Gatto and Steven Bradford, and Corona’s Eric Linder — two Democrats and a Republican — successfully shepherded bills through both houses to address the rampant problem of drivers fleeing the scenes of collisions.

Although problem probably isn’t the right word. Crisis fits a lot better for a crime that afflicts nearly 50% of all collisions in the City of Los Angeles, and countless others throughout the state.

And yes, it is a crime.

One that kills and cripples far more people than mass shootings every year — even though that was something Governor Brown was quick to sign a bill to address.

Yet he apparently doesn’t think hit-and-run is a problem.

In vetoing four bills addressing hit-and-run — modestly increasing penalties, ensuring fleeing drivers lost their licenses for a mere six months, creating an Amber Alert-style warning system for the most serious cases and preventing wealthy drivers from buying their way out of criminal charges — he helped ensure that the crisis will remain one.

And that untold numbers of Californian’s will continue to bleed and die on our streets, since the governor sent a clear message — four, in fact — that it’s no big deal.

Thanks, Jerry.

Granted, he paid lip service to the seriousness of the problem (pdf). But then he went on to insist that current penalties are high enough.

Never mind that if penalties really were high enough, drivers would actually remain at the scene instead of driving home to sober up before turning themselves in. Or just pretending it never happened and hoping they don’t get caught.

And knowing they probably won’t.

Actions speak far louder than words. By vetoing all four widely varied bills — as well as another that would have increased penalties for vulnerable road users — Brown sent a clear message to heartless drivers to go ahead and flee.

Because even if you do get caught — which is less likely thanks to his veto of the Yellow Alert system — you’ll face a slap on the wrist, at best.

It took three tries to get a three-foot passing bill past his misguided veto pen. Each time weakening the bill by removing key features Brown objected to before he finally accepted a relatively toothless measure, with advocates making a mental note to strengthen it once he left office.

Which isn’t likely to be anytime soon, since he continues to enjoy a nearly two-thirds lead over his Republican challenger.

And that means, unless someone can manage to get the seriousness of the problem through his thick bald skull — hello AAA and CHP — we face another four years before we’ll finally have a new governor who may decide that too many people have been killed and maimed by cowardly motorists unwilling to face the consequences of their actions.

Then again, if his opponent in this year’s election, Neel Kashkari, were to come out strongly in favor of actually doing something about hit-and-run, he might change a few votes.

Including mine.

………

At least there’s better news from Los Angeles.

I was told over a year ago by someone involved in the process that the city’s new mobility plan would call for reducing — though not eliminating — traffic deaths. And that the words Vision Zero would appear nowhere in the document.

What a difference a year makes.

Whether it was the influence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, or new LADOT head Seleta Reynolds already putting her stamp on it, the just released document calls for eliminating traffic deaths in the city by 2025.

The new strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, reflects a fundamental rethinking of our streets, from the traditional focus on automotive throughput — moving as many vehicles through a given intersection as quickly as possible — to ensuring that everyone on those streets gets home safely.

And that, instead of destroying our neighborhoods, our streets will finally become the key to revitalizing them.

After years of never uttering the phrase — despite nearly ceaseless prodding from myself, the LACBC and others — city officials have finally joined New York and San Francisco in committing to a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.

Make no mistake. It won’t be easy.

In fact, as others have pointed out, it may be impossible.

But the key to Vision Zero is that it is a process as much as a goal. What matters are the steps taken to reduce the risk of traffic deaths, from calming traffic and reducing speed limits to improving crosswalks and bikeways. As well as increasing enforcement and education for everyone on the streets, and studying traffic deaths to determine why they happened and how they could have been avoided.

All based on the realization that even one fatality is one too many.

About time.

Or course, there’s more to the plan. As Streetsblog put it,

There’s plenty more in the plan that Streetsblog readers will love. We can’t get to all of it in this short article, but the plan includes: neighborhood traffic calming, bike share, car share, dedicated bus lanes, an improved bikeway network, transportation demand management, reducing disabled parking placard abuse, and plenty more.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Eric Bruins calls it “an ambitious yet achievable framework for the department over the next three years of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s term” and commends “LADOT’s new mission [which] prioritizes safe and accessible options for Angelenos of all ages and abilities, no matter their chosen mode of transportation.”

Then again, as bold as the plan is, it’s doomed to failure as long as individual councilmembers such as Koretz, LaBonge and Cedillo can opt out of already approved safety plans to ensure the streets in their districts remain dangerously auto-focused.

In other words is, we have to find a way to protect our nascent Vision Zero from elected officials with zero.

Vision, that is.

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.

……..

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.

……..

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.

……..

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.

……..

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

Two year sentence in Dotson case, Brown yields his veto pen in support of hit-and-run, dooring caught on video

Just a quick update today, since I’m having some major computer problems. Assuming I get things straightened out, I should be back Saturday night with some Weekend Links. If not, you may not hear from me for awhile until I can get my laptop fixed.

Keep your fingers crossed. 

Update: The jury is still out. Reinstalling the OS may have solved the problem. Or not.

……..

First up, in case you missed it, the driver who killed postal worker Jesse Dotson as he rode his bike to work in Gardena last year has been officially sentenced to two years in prison.

Twenty-four year old Vanessa Yanez, the daughter of a veteran LAPD sergeant, was behind the wheel when she struck Dotson’s bike and fled the scene, leaving him lying on the street; he died in a hospital three days later.

After running Dotson down, Yanez drove to a nightclub to meet a friend before reporting her car stolen the next day in an attempt to cover-up the crime.

The sentence was a given, having been worked out in a plea deal last month.

It’s not enough. The meagre sentence reflects the lack of seriousness with which our society takes traffic crimes, even when they kill.

And even when drivers try to cover up their crimes.

She should have faced a murder charge on the assumption that Dotson might have been saved if he’d gotten emergency care sooner.

But given the lax hit-and-run laws and weak penalties currently on the books, it’s probably the best we could have hoped for.

……..

Speaking of lax hit-and-run laws, there is one person who doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem.

And unfortunately for all of us, he’s the governor of our state.

Three-term Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 2337 on Thursday; the bill would have ensured that a hit-and-run driver would lose his or her license for two years if they injured someone.

The only governor in the US to veto a three-foot passing two times, before finally signing it last year, Brown wrote in his veto message (pdf) that penalties for hit-and-run are already stiff enough.

Evidently, he’s the only person in the state who still has no idea hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions. If the penalties really were strict enough, most drivers would stop at the scene and render aid to their victims, as the law requires.

And quite frankly, a two year suspension for leaving another human being bleeding in the streets isn’t nearly strong enough. Anyone who lacks the basic human decency to obey the most basic requirement of the law has shown that they are undeserving of the privilege — not the right — to drive.

Our governor clearly doesn’t get that.

Instead of a mere two-year suspension, a hit-and-run driver should face lifetime revocation of their license.

Instead, Brown is fighting to keep the most dangerous and callous drivers on the streets.

Thanks, Jerry. No, really, we owe you one.

Meanwhile, Calbike is calling for everyone to contact the governor to demand that he sign AB 1532, which would increase the fines for hit-and-run — though not the prison sentences — to match those for drunk driving, in order to reduce the incentive for drivers who have ben drinking to flee the scene.

And it would ensure that hit-and-run drivers would lose their licenses for a minimum of six months — regardless of whether anyone was injured.

Given that Brown has already expressed his opinion that penalties for the crime are high enough, it’s very questionable whether he’ll sign this one.

If not, the blood of every future hit-and-run victim will be on his hands.

……..

One of the best jobs in bike advocacy just became available.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is looking for a new Executive Director to replace Jen Klausner, who is stepping down after nearly a decade of successfully leading the organization.

Under her stewardship, the LACBC has grown to become a leading voice for Southern California bicyclists, and one of the most influential bike advocacy groups in the US.

The organization has had an exceptional track record in recent years, from nurturing CicLAvia in its earliest stages to developing award-winning programs like City of Lights. They were a driving force behind the initial Give Me 3 efforts that recently became California’s new three-foot passing law, and the key backer of the cyclist anti-harassment ordinance that is being copied across the nation.

In just a few short years, they’ve helped turn one of the nation’s most car-centric cities into a certified bike-friendly community. And they were one of the first organizations to reach out to underserved ethnic and economic communities, and to push for cycling infrastructure in less affluent areas — not because that’s where their members are, but simply because it was the right thing to do.

Now they’re looking for a superstar capable of leading the LACBC to the next level and building it into one of the nation’s pre-eminent bicycle advocacy organizations.

Maybe it’s you. Or someone you know, anyway.

……..

Recently we mentioned that the Santa Monica Bike Center had been named the area’s only Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists.

But dig a little deeper into the list of honored businesses (pdf), and you’ll find Santa Monica marketing communications agency Phelps.

The agency was honored by the Bike League for amenities including on-site showers, secure bike parking and financial incentives for bike commuters.

It’s also home to WesHigh, whose YouTube videos from his 15-mile commute from Silver Lake to Santa Monica have often been featured here.

In celebration of the honor, the agency created this infographic encouraging their employees to ride.

And maybe even you.

Phelps-Bike-InfoGraphic

……..

Might as well buy a used bike off Craigslist. After all, it’s probably your bike, anyway.

……..

Finally, I was forwarded this security cam footage showing a dooring that occurred in Burbank recently.

The shocking thing is just how quickly it happens, and how little time the rider has to react.

Fortunately, I’m told the rider was okay; his bike, maybe not so much.

And just to be clear, drivers are required to ensure that it’s safe to open their car door without interfering with the operation of other road users (CVC 22517).

So unless you’re doing something stupid, like riding the wrong way or without lights after dark, the driver is almost always at fault.

……..

Don’t miss this weekend’s most exciting bike action — the Lucha Libre-themed HP Gran Prix from 5 to 9 pm tonight in Huntington Beach.

HPimage004

 

Update: Cyclist found dead following apparent hit-and-run in Oceanside

This is where hit-and-run crosses the line to cold-blooded murder.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a bike rider was found lying dead on an Oceanside roadway surrounded by evidence of an apparent hit-and-run.

The 28-year old victim, who hasn’t been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was found around 5:50 am by a man on his way to work at the San Luis Rey Water Treatment Plant. He was discovered near a smashed bike, as well as other evidence of a collision including tire marks and parts from a damaged car.

San Diego’s 10News places the location on the 3900 block of North River Road; a satellite view shows a dead end cul-de-sac, with access to another roadway through a drive leading to the treatment plant. They report that it’s unclear when the collision occurred or what time the victim died.

Police are looking for a lime or “alien” green Kia Soul, 2012 or 2013, with a missing headlight and front end damage on the passenger side.

Anyone with information is urged call Oceanside police at 760/435-4801.

In a case like this the driver should face a homicde charge, based on the assumption that the victim might have been saved if the driver had cared enough to stay at the scene and called for help. Instead, he or she made a conscious decision to flee the scene and leave an innocent person to die alone on a dark street.

This is the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in San Diego County.

Update: KUSI reports the driver was headed west on North River Road; considering it’s a cup-de-sac that could significantly limit the number of drivers who would have a reason to be there, especially in the middle of the night.

Update 2: According to NBC San Diego, police believe they have identified a suspect in the case. They also report the victim, who still has not been publicly identified, was pronounced dead after paramedics attempted CPR, suggesting it’s possible he might have been saved if he’d gotten help sooner. 

Update 3: The victim has been identified by his sister as 28-year old Philip White. A fund has been established to pay for funeral and other expenses related to the unexpected death, which has devastated his family; any excess funds will be donated to various charities, including MADD and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

It sounds like the world has lost a very kind and gentle soul. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the Philip White and all his loved ones. 

Daughter of LAPD Sgt. accepts plea in death of Gardena cyclist Jesse Dotson

Despite her best efforts, the killer of a Gardena bike rider was unable to avoid justice after all.

Although her semi-successfult attempt to flee the scene may have spared her from a more severe penalty.

Twenty-three-year old Vanessa Marie Yanez was reportedly driving home when she collided with 60-year old postal worker Jesse Dotson as he was riding into work on Gardena’s El Segundo Blvd in June of last year. Yanez fled the scene, leaving Dotson bleeding in the street; he died in a local hospital a few days later.

The daughter of a veteran LAPD sergeant, Yanez reported the car stolen to the Huntington Park police the next day. However, an alert HPPD officer put two-and-two together after seeing news reports of the collision, and contacted Gardena police to report Yanez as a suspect.

Her car was found, complete with shattered windshield, still at the home she shared with her father, less than a mile from the scene of the collision. KNBC-4 later reported she told police she had been drinking before the wreck; if true, fleeing the scene would have given her time to sober up before her arrest.

She was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, perjury, filing a false police report and felony hit-and-run.

Gardena police initially said her father, Sgt. Arturo Yanez, could face charges if it was shown that he had knowledge of his daughter’s actions or was involved in the attempted cover-up. No such charges were ever filed, though, even though it’s hard to understand how such an experienced officer would be unaware of what was happening under his own roof.

There were also reports that he could face an internal investigation with the LAPD; however, such investigations are considered personnel matters, and the results are unlikely to ever be made public.

Today, the LA District Attorney’s office announced (pdf) that Vanessa Yanez had changed her plea to no contest on three counts — a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident, felony perjury, and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. She is expected to be sentenced to two years in state prison on September 25th.

The sentence seems light under the circumstances, suggesting she accepted a plea deal in exchange for a lighter sentence, as usually happens in traffic cases.

However, light sentences do little to stem the epidemic of hit-and-runs. And her sentence would have undoubtedly been much stiffer if it could have been shown that she was under the influence when she hit Dotson.

Which is just one more reason why the penalty for hit-and-run should be stiffened to match the penalties for drunk driving and remove the incentive for intoxicated drivers to flee the scene.

Correction: This story initially said Yanez had pled guilty; it has been amended to reflect her actual plea of no contest.

 

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

Paul Livingston, back on his feet.

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

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

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

No wonder Paul Livingston is mad.

Maybe you remember the story.

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

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

As Don Ward tells the story in LA Streetsblog,

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

Even worse was the terrible toll caused by that collision.

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

In fact, it was far worse.

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

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

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

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

Well, okay then.

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

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

And that’s when things got strange.

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

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

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

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

Not that they really seemed very interested, even then.

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

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

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

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

Evidently, his intuition was on target.

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

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

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

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

But you would be wrong.

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

County jail.

Not state prison.

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

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

Two days.

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

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

Not that he will ever see the money.

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

And not like anyone realistically expects her to pay.

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

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

Let’s hope so.

……..

Despite everything, Paul Livingston remains remarkably upbeat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’d never actually say it, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet remarkably, Paul Livingstone is not a vengeful man.

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

But she never did.

……..

Maybe I should let the story end there.

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

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

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

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

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

But he didn’t care.

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

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

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

But justice isn’t one of them.

Especially not in Beverly Hills.

 

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