Archive for Hit-and-Run

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.

 

Morning Links: Career criminal arrested in fatal San Bernardino County hit-and-run

Turns out the driver arrested in the April hit-and-run death of San Bernardino County bicyclist Troy Davids has a long criminal and traffic record.

Twenty-six-year old Casey Andrew Coltrain was already on probation for driving under the influence of drugs when he allegedly crossed onto the wrong side of the road, ran a red light and hit Davids as he rode his bike in a crosswalk on his way home from work.

In addition, Coltrain has prior convictions for misdemeanor reckless driving and drug-related charges, as well as speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign and not using a seat belt. Not to mention multiple convictions for burglary, possessing an illegal dagger and receiving stolen property; he was already in jail on his latest burglary and probation violation charges when he was arrested for the hit and run.

He faces second-degree murder and felony hit-and-run charges in the death.

It will be interesting to see if the DA tries to use this as a possible 3rd Strike.

……..

Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman digs into the latest tragedy in South LA, movingly capturing the devastating effect the hit-and-run death of 19-year old Oscar Toledo Jr — aka Snoopy — has had on his family and friends.

Meanwhile, an account has been set up to help pay for his funeral expenses.

……..

Local

Streetsblog reviews last week’s community meeting to discuss the North Figueroa road diet and bike lane, and finds it kind of boring.

The LACBC talks bikes on the Bike Talk podcast, with special guests Karen Kroener, Joe Linton, Don Ward and Josef Bray-Ali.

Neon Tommy joins the LA edition of the World Naked Bike Ride; LAist offers a photo array of the event. I’m afraid to look for fear of who I’ll know and what I might not want to see.

Celebrate the 4th of July with a West Covina bike ride; thanks to ride leader Cynthia Carter for the link.

 

State

An Orange County off-road rider suffered a serious head injury in a fall on a remote trail and had to be airlifted out. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

It’s not just us. An 81-year old marathoner is killed by a suspected drunk driver while running in a bike lane in Corona del Mar.

A drunk Sacramento driver intentionally runs down a cyclist after the rider punctures his tire in a dispute, then hits two more riders — accidently, apparently.

Glendale-area Assembly Member Mike Gatto introduces a bill to create an Amber Alert-style warning system for serious hit-and-run cases. Another Sacramento bill would increase penalties for drivers who injure cyclists and pedestrians.

 

National

That study showing head injuries increased in cities with bike share systems? Not so much, as it turns out, as both head and overall injury rates actually went down.

A Philadelphia rider receives a $2.4 million jury award after suffering life-changing injuries in a dooring.

Tragically, a 24-year old Maryland bike rider is killed when she stops to change a flat tire in Kentucky. The assistant basketball coach with the Catholic University of America in DC was on a cross country tour to raise funds for a cancer charity.

Caught on video: A Virginia bike rider is hit head-on by a motorist driving on a bike/pedestrian bridge; amazingly, the local police don’t give a damn, despite the video evidence.

Fair warning for California drivers. A new three-foot passing law goes into effect in West Virginia, and traffic does not come grinding to a halt.

 

International

American rider Andrew Talansky is the surprise winner of the Criterium du Dauphine after a successful breakaway on the final stage, but what does it mean for next month’s Le Tour?

A 19-year old French cyclist dies after riding his bike into the ocean on a Facebook dare.

Egypt’s new president leads a mass bike ride to urge his countrymen to ride more. And yes, only men were allowed on the ride.

Shocking! An Aussie newspaper clocks cyclists exceeding the advisory speed limit on bike and pedestrian bridge.

A New Zealand neurosurgeon says bike helmets are useless in high speed collisions, while a helmet manufacturer, who couldn’t possibly have any reason for bias, insists they’re effective.

 

Finally…

Your next high tech Samsung device could be a bike. And repeat after me: If you’re already on probation and carrying a virtual illegal drug superstore in your backpack, don’t ride your damn bike on the sidewalk.

 

Morning Links: 55 years to life for drunken hit-and-run, arrest in Eastdale hit-and-run, Fig4All drags on… and on

My apologies for the late post. Just too much bike news on a lucky Friday the 13th.

Well, maybe not so lucky for the New York Rangers.

……..

Now that’s taking hit-and-run seriously for a change.

Former substance abuse counselor Sherri Lynn Wilkins, who fell off the wagon and killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence — hitting him so hard she literally knocked him out of his boxers, and drove two miles with his body lodged in her windshield — was sentenced to 55 years to life.

Maybe if the heartless cowards who killed Andy Garcia and maimed Damian Kevitt, just to name a few in a shamefully long list, faced sentences like that, we might finally put an end to this horrible epidemic.

……..

San Bernardino authorities report an arrest has been made in the April hit-and-run death of Eastdale bike rider Troy Davids. More details when they’re released.

……..

KCRW covers the debate over the Fig4All bike lanes on North Figueroa, while a writer for KCET complains about the city’s incomplete streets exemplified by North Fig and Westwood Blvd, where Councilmembers Cedillo and Koretz have blocked bike lanes despite professing support for them.

Meanwhile Streetsblog looks ahead to the meeting that took place last night, and questions the motivations of CM Cedillo.

CedilloBallotBy all reports, the meeting was a total waste of time as Cedillo spent over an hour introducing his staff and patting himself on the back, while failing to take comments from the public on either side of the debate. Many people got bored and walked out long before the meeting was over.

Instead, attendees were asked to fill out a form indicating their preferences — the results of which will be compiled by the office of the same councilmember accused of trying to block the project.

Nothing fishy about that.

……..

Great read from a survivor of a cycling collision, who’s glad she didn’t die — not just for herself, but for the difference she’s made in other’s lives. And she wants your help for a great cause to raise $5000 to provide free legal services to low income veterans; she’s brought in over $3,200 so far.

……..

The Santa Monica Museum of Art invites you to design a critter on a bike (pdf) to serve as the logo for the August Tour de Arts.

And don’t miss the Bike Zone at this weekend’s Santa Monica Festival.

……..

Local

A committee recommends banning Segways from the Venice boardwalk, but continuing to allow them to risk your safety on the bike path.

An LA group wants to cap parking tickets at just $23. Or they could just, you know, obey the damn parking restrictions and not pay anything.

West Hollywood is teaming with the UCLA Triathlon Team to train 9 to 18 year olds to compete in the sport.

Cycling in the South Bay says it’s one thing to take the lane on PCH when you’re in a group, another when there’s just two of you.

The popular Kidical Mass bike ride continues to roll in Bixby Hills.

 

State

A father and son — 80 and 54, respectively — complete a 3,000 mile cross-country tour in San Clemente to raise money to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

San Diego’s CBS8 looks at the Race Across America, which is already underway for solo riders; more on Pippa’s team RAAM ride.

Nice. A handicapped Yucaipa-area second grader gets a new custom-made hand cycle.

Seven people are under arrest after attacking, pistol-whipping and robbing a Bay Area cyclist riding on a BART bike path.

 

National

A new study says brain injuries are up an average of 14% in bike share cities. Which kind of makes sense since more people are riding, too.

A Fairbanks AK driver is under arrest for the drunken 7 am hit-and-run death of a bike rider. Yes, he was wasted and behind the wheel first thing in the morning; not surprisingly, it’s not his first DUI.

An Albuquerque cyclist says the hit-and-run driver who seriously injured another rider had deliberately attempted to run them both off the road; uncomprehending — or possibly uncaring — local police ignore her and call it just another accident.

Colorado’s governor signs a Safe Routes to School bill.

A Gillette, Wyoming cyclist recovers from harrowing injuries after he’s left-crossed while riding over 30 mph; other recent cycling victims in the area haven’t been as lucky.

A bicyclist travels 6,000 miles with his dog to raise awareness for animal shelters.

A heroic bike rider stops a suicidal man from jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge.

 

International

Wow. A Yorkshire, England man turns down treatment after a recurrence of lung cancer, sells everything he owns and sets out to tour the world by bike; two years and over 21,000 miles later, he’s still doing well.

The UK considers restructuring the Highways Agency. And possibly indicating a shift in focus by renaming it the National Cycling and Highway’s agency.

The Guardian asks how the justice system can be rebalanced to support cyclists, and says Cyclists Stay Back stickers send a message that bike riders are second-class citizens. Thanks to Ralph Durham for the heads-up.

The president of the IOC says cycling is cleaning up its doping act. No really. And with a straight face.

A 21-year old cyclist takes a 3,000 mile journey through the Australian Outback — 100 years ago.

 

Finally…

Even if I could teach the Corgi to be a trail dog, who’s going to teach me to ride like that? A Glendale man leaves his car parked in front of a convenience store, then comes back on a bike 30 minutes later — and proceeds to throw the bike through the store’s window. And after a British rider is assaulted by another cyclist in a Team Sky kit, the Guardian assures us that the perp was not Brit bike heroes Bradley Wiggins or Chris Froome.

 

19-year old bike rider killed in South LA hit-and-run

Yet another teenage cyclist has been murdered by a heartless hit-and-run driver.

Late last night, news broke that a South LA pedestrian had been seriously injured by a driver who fled the scene. By this morning, it was clear that the victim, identified as by the LA Times as 19-year old Oscar Toledo Jr., had been riding a bike when he was run down.

KNBC-4 places the collision around 9:40 pm at the intersection of South Normandie Ave and West 47th Street. Toledo was reportedly crossing Normandie on 47th when he was hit by a car traveling south on Normandie; no word on which direction he was riding. However, the Times story says he was making a left, apparently onto Normandie.

The driver fled the scene, evidently without slowing or stopping.

Toledo was transported to a local hospital in critical condition; KNBC reports he died there while the Times says he passed away in the ambulance.

Police are looking for a red Toyota Corolla or burgundy Pontiac, which suggests there may have been at least two witnesses to the crash. KNBC reports police will be looking to see if  collision may have been captured on surveillance video from local businesses.

KABC-7 quotes an LAPD detective, who says the vehicle may have front end damage constant with striking a bike.

“The young man was 19 years old, leaves behind a caring family, his mother, his brother. It’s very important that if witnesses have any information to come forward so we can solve this crime,” said Render.

Anyone with information is urges to call the LAPD at 877/LAPD-24-7.

This is the 44th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, which compares with 32 this time last year. It’s also the 18th cycling death in LA County, and the fifth in the City of LA; three of those five deaths have been hit-and-runs.

Update: KTLA-5 reports Toledo had recently become a father; now a child will grow up never knowing his dad. A ghost bike will be installed at the location Friday evening.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Oscar Toledo Jr. and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Richard Risemberg and James Johnson for the heads-up.

Finish the Ride results in a large check, a 9% drop in hit-and-run — and your chance to help take up the fight

Over a year later, Damian Kevitt finishes the ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Over a year later, Damian Kevitt finishes the ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

I got to meet one of my heroes last week.

Okay, two.

I was at the LACBC Board of Directors meeting Wednesday night when someone stepped up behind me and said he wanted to introduce himself.

I turned to see a tall man with a huge smile and a face I knew from countless news stories. A quick, almost involuntary glance down revealed an artificial leg he made no attempt to hide, and suddenly no introduction was necessary.

For reasons I will never understand, Damien Kevitt wanted to shake my hand.

I think he had that backwards.

I’ve been wanting to shake his ever since he fought his way back from one of the most horrific hit-and-run collisions I’ve ever heard of. Just surviving what he went through took more courage than most of us will ever need in our lifetimes.

And that was long before his amazing Finish the Ride campaign made him the public face of the fight against motorists who run away like the cowards they are, rather than stopping to take responsibility for their actions.

Under similar circumstances, most people would be happy just to survive. Let alone display the determination to get back on his bike as quickly as possible, despite the loss of a leg.

And even more to start a movement dedicated to justice, if not for himself, then for others victims of hit-and-run.

……..

Crowds at start of Finish the Ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Crowds at start of Finish the Ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

It was a little later, after he had made a presentation to the board, that I gave a hug to another hero of mine.

Kevitt was accompanied by a woman who turned out to be one of the most awe-inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

His mother, Michele Kevitt Kirkland.

Her name popped up from the very beginning in news stories about his collision. And virtually every story after that as she spoke for — and fought for — her son until he was able to do it for himself.

I have no doubt that it was her will and determination, as much as the skill of his medical team, that helped bring Kevitt through the first few days when his survival was in doubt.

Let alone every seemingly impossible step that followed.

……..

Congressman Adam Shiff addresses the crowd; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Congressman Adam Shiff addresses the crowd; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Kevitt was at the board meeting because he had named the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition as one of the beneficiaries of the event, along with the Challenged Athletes Foundation — in the unlikely event there were any profits to benefit from — and the coalition provided the organizational support necessary to pull it off.

At the last minute, though, sponsors started pouring in, from local bike shops to a major car dealership, as well as BikinginLA sponsor Pocrass & De Los Reyes. And news started spreading, not just here in LA, but across the US and around the world.

In the end, the turnout far surpassed anyone’s expectations. And the ride not only broke even, it resulted in one of the largest private donations the LACBC has ever received.

  • Over 700 participants
  • Five elected officials both speaking and riding, including a US Congressman
  • Over 16 media outlets represented
  • 26 festival booths
  • 22 entertainers performing for the crowd
  • $25,000 raised for the LACBC and the CAF

But the biggest success may have come as a surprise to everyone.

According to LAPD Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, after rising steadily for years, the rate of hit-and-runs in Los Angeles has declined 9% since the first of the year.

A drop he attributed in large part to the publicity Finish the Ride received, and the message of responsibility behind it.

Which goes to show that the battle to stop drivers from fleeing may actually be winnable after all.

……..

From left: Jennifer Klausner, Damian Kevitt, JJ Hoffman, Michele Kevitt Kirkland and Alex Amerri

From left: Jennifer Klausner, Damian Kevitt, JJ Hoffman, Michele Kevitt Kirkland and Alex Amerri.

After a victory like that, anyone else would sit back and relax. Or maybe start thinking about next year’s ride.

Clearly, Damian Kevitt is not like anyone else I’ve ever met.

He not only credits everyone else with the success of Finish the Ride, he’s taking the fight to the next level.

Tomorrow night he’s hosting the first Hit and Run Summit — Gathering of the Minds at a church in Hollywood. And inviting you, and everyone else committed to doing something about this deadly, life-shattering epidemic, to attend.

Join us Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 7:00pm for the first “Hit and Run Summit – Gathering of the minds.”

Gather your voices and be part of something that will help change the streets of Los Angels in a positive light for young and old alike.

Join in on a united mission to make Los Angeles County a healthy, safer, and fun place to walk, run, and ride bicycles.

Come and network with a diverse community of people that believes in advocacy, education, and community building over dinner.

Please share this with anyone that could possibly benefit from this event. We will be providing useful contact information for various groups, and organizations for volunteer and/or assistance purposes.

Schools, mothers, clubs, and non-profit organizations are highly encouraged to attend and participate.

Address:
Hollywood Lutheran Church, Rear Gallery
1733 North New Hampshire, Hollywood, CA 90027
 
Time:
7:00PM Summit Opens, 7:20 Summit Starts, 7:50PM Dinner Served
 

*Keynote speakers will include experts in the following areas.

  • CREATING SOLUTIONS TO MAKE LA STREETS SAFER FOR EVERYONE
  • CAMPAIGNING ON HANDLING HIT AND RUN
  • CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAW AND HIT AND RUN
  • CURRENT AND FUTURE LEGISLATIONS REGARDING HIT AND RUN
  • STATISTICS AND FACTS OF HIT AND RUN
“Safer roads in LA County for everyone!”

I’m not making many commitments these days as I work to get my own health back under control. But I plan to attend even if I have to drag myself there.

And I hope you’ll be there, as well.

 

Morning Links: Coddling drunk drivers, analysis of the new Bike League study and a moving new hit-and-run video

This is why people continue to die on our streets.

An Olympia WA man gets work-release despite his seventh — yes, seventh — DUI arrest; he’ll spend nights and weekends in jail, but be released every day to run his business. Odd that they don’t offer bank robbers and drug dealers the same consideration. And no word on how he plans to get there; let’s hope he won’t be driving.

And an Illinois lawmaker proposes a new bill to help keep more drunks on the road. Because it’s too inconvenient for them to find some other way to get around without killing someone.

………

More on the League of American Bicyclists’ 12-month study of bicycling fatalities across the US, as USA Streetsblog offers eight takeaways from the study released Wednesday, including:

  • Most fatalities occur on urban arterial roads
  • Hit-from-behind collisions were the most frequent cause of bicycling fatalities
  • Intersections are the most dangerous place for urban riders
  • Most victims were wearing helmets
  • The more people who ride in your state, the less risk you face

Vox provides their own analysis of the report.

………

A moving new documentary profiles Damian Kevitt and Ghost Bikes LA to call attention to the dangers cyclists face, especially from hit-and-run drivers. At only eight minutes long, it’s definitely worth watching.

………

Local

Streetsblog looks at Temple City’s new partially protected bike lane on Rosemead Blvd.

Both Milestone Rides and Boyonabike offer reviews of last week’s LA Bike Week, most of which I missed.

Santa Monica considers dropping speed limits to 15 mph near schools; then again, it doesn’t matter what the speed limit is if they don’t adequately enforce it.

Downey is preparing a new citywide bicycle master plan. They’d better hurry, as a bike rider was seriously injured attempting to cross a freeway onramp early Thursday morning.

 

State

Redlands gets a new Community Based Bicycle Master Plan, which will provide 175 miles of bikeways — a huge amount for a town of just 69,000. And a local market plans their own privately operated bike share program.

A new company plans to provide bike camping around San Luis Obispo.

Specialized finally puts their wind tunnel to good use by determining the aerodynamics of beards on bikes. Now if they’d just figure out if shaving your legs really makes you faster.

 

National

According to Forbes, American bicyclists save $4.6 billion a year by riding instead of driving; I’d like mine in cash, please. Meanwhile, Intuit explains just how that works.

A Grist writer says Idaho Stop laws infringe on pedestrians’ right-of-way; actually, cyclists are still required to yield to anyone with the right-of-way. Brooklyn Spoke says the subject is complicated.

Chicago drivers — including city bus drivers — are turning a buffered bike lane into their own traffic bypass lane.

The NYPD is back to ticketing cyclists in Central Park.

The US Pro National Championships roll in Chattanooga this Monday.

A Virginia lawyer offers advice on the eight things you should do right away if you’ve been injured in a bike collision. Seriously, though, you’d think an attorney would know not to call them accidents.

 

International

An Ottawa writer says the city doesn’t need any more bike lanes because they can’t make the climate bike friendly. Oddly, he doesn’t suggest they stop building roads due to adverse winter driving conditions.

Four hundred London cyclists stage a die-in at a notoriously dangerous intersection.

Liverpool plans to triple the number of cyclists who ride at least once a week.

A Melbourne bike rider is injured when she crashes into a police vehicle hidden by a blind curve on a bike path. The cops were targeting motorbikes and other motorized vehicles illegally using the trail, like… uh, them.

Aussie cyclists protest the country’s mandatory helmet law; ridership in Tel Aviv jumped 54% in just two years after the Israeli city revoked theirs.

Even Chinese robots can track stand, so why the hell can’t I?

 

Finally…

A road-raging New Hampshire bike rider shatters a driver’s passenger window, then takes his anger out on a nearby construction worker; no matter how angry you get, acting on it only makes things worse. A PA man posts a thank you for the man who stole his bike. And three young cyclists are arrested for speeding at a blistering 10 mph.

In 1899.

………

The Memorial Day weekend means heavy traffic this afternoon as people get off work early and rush to get home and get out of town. So ride defensively and watch out for drivers today, because chances are, they won’t be watching for you.

I expect to see you all back here safe and sound on Tuesday.

 

Morning Links: Petition urges tougher hit-and-run penalties; an LA cyclist says you’re not above the law, either

A new petition urges tougher penalties for hit-and-run drivers who injure or kill bicyclists, runners or pedestrians, in the wake of the gentle wrist-caress plea deal given the drunken killer of cyclist Andy Garcia.

If you’ve been coming here for awhile, you know I’ve offered my own suggestions on how to put an end to hit-and-runs once and for all.

Meanwhile, another petition calls for an end to the common practice of driving — legally — without plates, which makes it virtually impossible to identify drivers who flee after injuring or killing someone. Although some people want to remove the requirement for a front plate entirely because it reduces aerodynamics and might get dinged during a car wash.

Seriously.

But if some driver takes off after running over my ass, I want the cops to be able to read the imprint of the jerk’s license plate embedded on my butt cheeks.

One way or another, though, something has to be done now to stop dangerous drivers from running away like the cowards they are after colliding with another person or vehicle.

And force them to take responsibility for their actions.

Willingly or not.

……..

An LA bike blogger offers a word of advice to his fellow bike riders:

JUST QUIT BREAKING THE DAMN LAW, PEOPLE!

It’s a good read. And he’s got a point.

Though I might argue with the suggestion that the distain some drivers have for cyclists is justified by our own bad behavior.

But I’ve had the same experience he has of obeying the law only to watch another rider blow through the red light or stop sign I’ve stopped for. Or pausing to observe a motorist’s right-of-way only to have a cyclist swerve dangerously around me and cut the car off — then flip off the driver for the chaos he created.

And yes, it’s inevitably a he.

Granted, traffic laws were not written with cyclists in mind. And sometimes safety dictates observing the spirit, rather than the letter of the law.

But we can’t expect others on the roads to obey the laws we choose to flaunt.

There’s absolutely nothing that says traffic regulations don’t apply to you. Or me, for that matter.

And let’s not forget that if anything bad does happen, you’ll likely lose any chance of an insurance or legal settlement if it can be shown you were even partly in the wrong. Regardless of what the other party may or may not have done.

It may not be fair.

But that’s the world we live in these days.

……..

Local

Flying Pigeon shows how it’s done when they successfully bike the vote at the recent NELA Neighborhood Council elections.

Bodacious Bike Babes visited Union Station in advance of its 75th — not 25th — anniversary.

UCLA celebrates Bike Week next week.

The annual Palms Bike Rodeo takes place this Saturday.

 

State

The OC Register reports on Sunday’s Dana Point Grand Prix that left five women riders injured.

Bike riders take over San Diego’s Barrio Logan for a full day of all-ages bike racing.

In a nice gesture, a San Jose writer suggests naming a bike boulevard after a local priest who was killed while riding his bike.

 

National

Sadly, Silicon Valley actor and “fanatical” cyclist Chris Welch succumbs to the cancer he’d battled since 2010.

Streetsblog remembers bike-friendly former Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar.

A Las Vegas driver faces DUI charges when he hits a 12-year old bike rider before and after slamming into multiple parked cars, then fleeing the scene.

A Portland bike rider files suit against the city after she’s injured on streetcar tracks trying to avoid people standing in the bike lane.

New York cyclists celebrate the Blessing of the Bicycles; LA riders will celebrate ours next Tuesday as Good Samaritan Hospital honors Ghost Bikes LA. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

As helmets become more common for kid’s activities, including bike riding, they still do nothing to prevent concussions. As I’ve learned the hard way.

 

International

A UK rider points out the indignities women have to put up with when she’s slapped on the ass from a passing motorcycle. Unfortunately, that’s a story I’ve heard too often from other women, as well.

Now that’s more like it. British drivers who kill while driving with a suspended license will now face 10 years in prison. Then again, I’d vote for prison time for anyone who continues to drive after their license has been revoked.

Nice promo for the inaugural Women’s Tour of Great Britain this month.

 

Finally…

Top women’s pro cyclist Evelyn Stevens is just the latest to offer a video on how to change a flat tire — after the proper nourishment, of course. And a new video shows how not to lock your bike like an idiot.

 

BOLO for Mission Hills hit-and-run driver who seriously injured bike rider

This morning we linked to a brief item about a bike rider who was seriously injured in a Mission Hills hit-and-run on Sunday.

Now more details have been added to the story.

According to the Daily News, the victim, identified only as a 53-year old North Hollywood resident, was riding west on Devonshire around 9:44 am when he attempted to cross Sepulveda Blvd on the green light. A white car headed north on Sepulveda stopped briefly at the red light before accelerating and crashing into the rider directly in front of him.

The paper reports he rolled onto the hood, smashing into the windshield, before being thrown to the ground when the driver braked before fleeing the scene. He was taken to a nearby hospital with broken bones, but no life threatening injuries.

The story also notes that the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Since he does not appear to have suffered a head injury, the Daily News is apparently under the impression that a bike helmet somehow would have prevented the collision or made a rider impervious to any injury, including broken bones in other parts of the body.

An alert from the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division describes the vehicle as a white four-door Jaguar, no model given, with black rims. The driver is described as Hispanic male with dark hair, around 30–40 years old.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Valley Traffic Division Detectives at 818/644-8020; anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800/222-8477).

Keep your eyes open for a white Jag with front-end damage, especially if you ride in the North San Fernando Valley. Let’s help the LAPD bring this heartless SOB to justice.

Thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up.

And best wishes to the victim for fast and full recovery.

Morning Links: BOLO alert for Brentwood hit-and-run driver

The LAPD wants your help in tracking down the hit-and-run driver who seriously injured a bike rider in Brentwood last November.

Brentwood BOLO

Then again, they might have better luck if they didn’t wait five months to ask for help next time.

Just a suggestion.

……..

Local

The LA Times offers the latest reminder about this weekend’s Finish the Ride to call attention to the problem of hit-and-run.

Wrap up next month’s Bike Week with the first Bike Night at Union Station.

KCRW’s beginning LA bike rider takes a Confident City Cycling course and concludes that drivers need bike education, too.

The Bike League looks at the Santa Monica Bike Center, now a Platinum-level Bike Friendly Business. And managed by the instructor of the afore mentioned CCC course.

Long Beach police are on the lookout for a bike riding groper.

 

State

Mark your calendar for the Honor Ride Irvine this August.

San Francisco motorists demand the restoration of balance in the city’s transportation planning; in other words, a return to all cars all the time.

I like it. San Francisco police virtually dare thieves to steal a bait bike. And pass out “Is this a bait bike?” stickers to post on your bike to make thieves think twice.

San Francisco’s bike share program expands to the East Bay despite the Bixi bankruptcy.

California’s proposed bike tax becomes a potential $5 fee on cars to repair and maintain bike paths in regional parks. Although I wonder how many voters, aka drivers, will be willing to tax themselves to fund bikes — especially when it requires a two-thirds majority.

 

National

This should be fun, as recently retired pro Dave Zabriskie commits to riding this year’s RAAM to promote Yield to Life as part of the Legends of the Road team.

A petition asks online fences websites Craigslist and EBay to require serial numbers on all bike ads. Of course, sellers could just lie about them, but still.

USA Today names Davis CA the best cycling town in America; my hometown comes in at number two.

Portland teens injure two people by throwing bricks at passing bike riders; one victim nearly loses an eye.

Ottumwa, Iowa Shriners are expecting 70 – 80 riders for a 30-mile Ride With the Clowns. Something like that could draw hundreds here; just don’t sniff any flowers.

Submitted without comment. North Carolina’s 21-time national champ admits to doping with amphetamines, synthetic testosterone and EPO. At age 62.

 

International

A Vancouver company plans bicycling sunglasses with a heads-up display.

A new World Health Organization report says if London achieved Copenhagen-like riding levels, it could save 500 lives a year and create 8,000 jobs.

David Hembrow looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of on-road bike lanes.

This time the tainted meat excuse actually works, as former Aussie world time trial champ Michael Rogers is cleared of doping charges after blaming Chinese meat.

 

Finally…

For the English-challenged members of the media, there is a big difference between “watch out for bike riders” and “beware of bicyclist.”

Seriously.

 

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