Archive for Legal Cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe I should mention Duquette is a competitive cyclist.

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

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Local

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work is proceeding on the Expo bikeway.

 

State

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

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

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

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

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

Bay Area bike share expands into the East Bay.

 

National

The Bike League announces a Bicycle Friendly America photo contest.

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

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

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

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

Good interview with Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek.

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

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

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

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

 

International

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

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

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

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

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

 

Finally…

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Sommer-Gonzalez-Charges-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAMSUNG

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

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

But you can learn more here.

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Local

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

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

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

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

 

State

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

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

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

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

 

National

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

 

International

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

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

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

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

 

Finally…

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

It could happen.

Right?

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

And frankly, she couldn’t deserve it more.

Allegedly, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

And a young woman willfully threw hers away.

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

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

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Local

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

HuffPo talks with CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley.

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

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

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

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

 

State

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

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

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

 

National

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

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

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

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

 

International

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Finally…

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

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

Bike Parking Sign

 

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

I hate bike thieves.

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

Or anyone, for that matter.

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

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

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

BjnsAyDCAAE0ZV_

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

And one word of advice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Lois for the tip.

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

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

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Local

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

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

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

 

State

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

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

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

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

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

 

National

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

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

How to frame your pitch to government officials.

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

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

Ohio bails on a three-foot passing law.

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

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

 

International

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

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

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

More bike lanes come to Manila in the Philippines.

 

Finally…

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

And did I mention that I hate bike thieves?

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

Somehow, this one fell through the cracks last month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to David Huntsman for the links.

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

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

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

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

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

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Local

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

State

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

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

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

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

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

 

National

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

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

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

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

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

 

International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Finally…

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

Makes that South LA case look pretty tame.

Breaking news: Wendy Villegas accepts plea in September hit-and-run death of cyclist Andy Garcia

Ghost bike being installed for Andy Garcia; photo from Ghost Bike Luis "Andy" Garcia Facebook page

Ghost bike being installed for Andy Garcia; photo from Ghost Bike Luis “Andy” Garcia Facebook page

News is just coming in that Wendy Villegas has been convicted in the hit-and-run death of cyclist Luis “Andy” Garcia.

According to Danny Gamboa, Villegas changed her plea to no contest for the September 14th collision that took the life of Garcia, and left two other riders seriously injured.

Gamboa reports she accepted a plea bargain of three years and eight months in prison for felony hit-and-run and DUI. That represents a gift from the DA’s office, as she had been facing a minimum of five to seven years for vehicular manslaughter, DUI and felony hit-and-run, with a maximum of 10 to 15 years.

In other words, she was sentenced to just 20% of what she could have faced.

Garcia was riding with Ule Melgar, Mario Lopez and two other riders on the LA River Bridge on Cesar Chavez Avenue near Mission Road at 2:45 am on Saturday, September 14th, when they were hit from behind with no warning by Villegas’ car.

She proceeded to drive home, dragging Garcia’s bike several hundred feet beneath her car according to LA Streetsblog. She was reportedly still drunk when she was taken into custody several hours later.

Meanwhile, her victims remained where they’d fallen. Lopez had been tossed into the air, breaking his back and leg; Melgar was nearly knocked over the guardrail and into the LA River below.

Garcia was left lying in the roadway, where he was run over by a second vehicle. Whether he could have survived the initial impact had Villegas stopped as the law requires will never be known.

Many reports suggested that the 21-year old Villegas never seemed to grasp the seriousness of her actions, as exemplified by this courtroom incident reported by Sahra Sulaiman in the Streetsblog story above.

So, when she and her lawyer complained that wearing an ankle bracelet that would monitor both alcohol intake and movement would be inconvenient to a young, working student as well as a challenge for her to pair it properly with the variety of shoes she wears, Lopez couldn’t take it any more.

“I thought to myself at that moment, ‘Well, what about Andy?’” he wrote. “‘[Andy] was a full time student in college. He had responsibilities. But yet, he can’t and will never be able to fulfill them…And she is worried about her fashion sense! What about the inconvenience she brought upon his family and friends?’”

He finally yelled out, “But she killed someone!”

Maybe a few years in state prison will succeed in driving that home.

Update: KTLA-5 reports that Villegas is scheduled for sentencing on April 22nd. Not surprisingly, the story notes that many of the cyclists in the courtroom were unhappy with the minimal sentence, and the Garcia’s mother was repulsed by Villegas lack of remorse. 

Morning links: Arraignment in the Phillip O’Neill case, and a preview of this weekend’s Donut Ride

One quick note before we get started.

I’ve been a little under the weather lately, so today I finally got out for my first good ride in a couple of weeks.

And proceeded to get buzzed by two cyclists in two separate incidents — one male and one female — each one passing just an inch or two from my shoulder.

Maybe I should be impressed by their skill in somehow managing to just miss me as closely as possible; instead, I was awed by their overwhelming jerkishness and willingness to risk a total stranger’s safety.

So let’s make one thing clear.

Whenever you pass another rider on a city street or bike path, call it out to avoid startling them and causing a bike-on-bike collision. A simple “On your left” or “Passing left” can make all the difference.

And don’t pass on the right. Just don’t.

If you can’t give another rider at least an arms-length passing distance — if not the three feet you’d expect from a motorist — then don’t pass, dammit.

You can wait a few seconds until it’s safe to pass, just like drivers can.

………

Ghost bike for Phillip O'Neill; respectfully borrowed from Ghost Bikes-LA

Ghost bike for Phillip O’Neill; respectfully borrowed from Ghost Bikes-LA.

A source who prefers to be anonymous reports on the recent arraignment of the driver charged with taking the life of cyclist Phillip O’Neill in Pasadena last year.

According to her report, the motorist, who wasn’t named, did not appear; his lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him and a pretrial date was set for this month, However, the prosecutor is expecting the defendant to plead out.

On the other hand, the prosecutor said he’d never seen so many people show up to support the victim at an arraignment.

……….

The authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles are joining with the LACBC for their monthly bike tour of the LA area, this time through the Palos Verdes area.

And they’re expecting more perfect weather for the ride, so don’t rub it in when you talk to your friends in other parts of the country.

The Donut

When: Saturday, March 15, 2014

Time: Meet at 8:30am; ride at 9:00am

Where: Wilmington Waterfront Park

Drive south on the 110 Freeway to the C Street exit in Wilmington. Then, continue east a short distance to the Park. We will meet at the small parking lot at the Park’s east end off Lagoon Avenue. Here’s the to map the Park: Wilmington Waterfront Park

This is a San Pedro version of the classic “Donut” tour around the Palos Verdes Peninsula. We’ll start (and finish) with an easy warm-up (and cool down) through the port city of San Pedro where we will see everything nautical (tankers, container ships, old battleships, merchant vessels, cruise ships, lighthouses, seagulls). Then, we’ll ride into PV proper and tackle the famous switchbacks (the one big climb of the day). From there we’ll continue around to Malaga Cove (rest stop), Point Vicente, Abalone Cove, and Fort McArthur. We should have many wonderful vistas of the South Bay, Catalina and the Port of Los Angeles as we ride back to San Pedro and Wilmington.

Ride Length:  43 miles.

Ride Duration:  Approximately 5-6 hours, including stops.

Difficulty:  Recommended for intermediate-level riders, aged 16 and up. Expect a mix of city and rural riding conditions—busy bike paths and city streets from the start to the switchbacks, then bike lanes and quieter roads circling the peninsula. We’ll tackle one climb at the beginning, then mostly rolling terrain, for total elevation gain of roughly 2,500 feet.

Rain Policy:  Torrential rain, snow, earthquake or fierce wind cancels the outing. Otherwise, we ride.

What to bring:  A road-worthy bike, extra inner tubes, a patch kit and pump, drinking water, a pocket snack (such as an energy bar, banana or trail mix), a helmet and money for refueling stops and post-ride refreshments.

Parking:  There’s plenty of street parking around Wilmington Waterfront Park

RSVP:   Strongly encouraged, via wheretobikela@gmail.com, so we can send you last-minute advisories, particularly about weather.

Touring Los Angeles County with LACBC and Where To Bike Los Angeles is a series of rides that are free and open to every LACBC member, plus one guest.

……….

People for Bikes selects six new cities for their second Green Lane Project; needless to say, LA ain’t one of them. I wonder if the recent lack of support for bike lanes from a handful of city council members had any anything to do with our non-selection.

On the other hand, Santa Monica is installing new green lanes on Broadway and Main.

The Daily News talks to Damien Kevitt about his plans to Finish the Ride that cost him a leg in a still unsolved hit-and-run last year.

The Weekly goes on the off and then unexpectedly back on Marathon Crash Ride, but fails to obey the rules, unlike the less aggressive rider representing Streetsblog.

A Bakersfield rider gets pinned between two cars by a suspected stoned driver; fortunately, the cyclist only suffered moderate injuries.

Baseball legend Barry Bonds is one of us, even if the writer can’t resist the usual steroid/doping comparisons.

The Supreme Court throws an unexpected wrench into the Rails to Trails movement; the family bringing the suit would rather have a train on their land than a bunch of us nasty bike riders.

Consider it a Mood Ring for your head. A new helmet tracks your stress levels and transmits them to your iPhone. Because it’s so hard to know when your stressed while riding your bike, right?

Finding an alternate path to equity for women’s cycling.

A nine-foot travel lane costs less than a 12-foot lane, and can make everything better.

Bike tourism goes to the next level as Oregon builds a network of Overnight Bike Pods.

The New York Times offers a number of gadgets to improve bike safety, and correctly notes the most common mistake new riders make is not riding predictably. Which means riding in a straight line, with traffic, signaling and obeying the right-of-way; now that’s not so hard, is it?

Virginia legislators vote to keep it legal to tailgate bicyclists. After all, what harm could possibly come from that?

The World Naked Bike Ride pops up in Peru; evidently, Peruvians are growers not show-ers.

London plans a network of bicycle Quietways to shift riders onto underutilized side streets. Can’t call them Quietways here because this city is seldom silent.

Don’t piss off this 91-year old Baroness, or she’ll whack you with her handbag — then re-enact it for the cameras.

Finally, in LA we dodge cars; in Florida, golf balls.

Morning Links: Killer Chula Vista driver had multiple priors, faces up to 15 years; and not so fast on Olin case

Prepare to get mad.

The accused drunk driver who killed Chula Vista cyclist David Voight earlier this week was on probation at the time of the collision, and had been convicted of meth possession two months ago. And he was still on the streets — in a stolen car — despite at least seven other previous felony charges.

San Diego’s NBC-7 reports Michael Reyes faces five counts, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, car theft and possession of methamphetamine, with a maximum sentence of 15 years and 4 months.

Reyes family expressed their sympathy for the victim’s family, explaining that he’d had many “life difficulties” in the past year.

……….

The Thousand Oaks Acorn goes back on an earlier story saying the sheriff’s investigation into the death of cyclist Milt Olin, killed in a collision with a sheriff’s deputy last December, had gone to the DA’s office for evaluation. According to today’s correction, the report is expected to go to the DA in the near future.

……….

A 70-year old Whittier cyclist suffered severe injuries when he was hit and dragged by the driver of a pickup truck; reportedly the driver kept going because he thought he hit a curb. Reports were the victim was riding salmon, though how any driver could be unaware he hit someone coming right at him is beyond me. Initial reports were that the victim’s injuries were not life-threatening.

………

Latest word is that representatives of Wolfpack Hustle were on their way to city hall in a last ditch effort to save this year’s Marathon Crash Race. Funny how every department spokesperson for the city seems to point the finger at race organizers and/or city bureaucracy to deflect any responsibility for this massive snafu.

And you do know what snafu stands for, right?

………

writer for the LADOT Bike Blog gets doored, but doesn’t seem to realize he was the victim of a hit-and-run. Speaking of LADOT, the department unveils their new campaign to fight trash cans in the bike lane. And the department’s Nate Baird moves on to a new job in Long Beach; he’ll be sorely missed.A bike rider was stabbed to death in Norwalk in an apparent gang attack.

………

Bad news for LA area bike riders and pedestrians, as changes in Federal funding programs force Metro to renege on prior commitments to fund 49 projects in the county.

A UCLA bike commuter helps two injured cyclists the same day.

NELA’s York Blvd bike lanes will be extended to connect with lanes in South Pasadena.

The LACBC’s Operation Firefly gives out free bike lights in Glendale.

What the…? A Rancho Cucamonga letter writer somehow hallucinates that last year’s death of Cal Poly cyclist Ivan Aguilar had something, anything, to do with road raging bike riders.

In what seems to be a first anywhere, bike thefts are actually down at Cal State Fullerton.

Thousand Oaks needs volunteers for the final stage of this year’s Amgen Tour of California.

Two bikes worth $18,000 were stolen from an office in Valencia last weekend.

Santa Barbara County gets its first green bike lane in Goleta.

Good news for a change, as a Pleasanton cyclist’s riding companions team with a passer-by to save him from a heart attack.

Women now make up the majority of family cyclists.

That disassembled Pee-wee Herman bike sold for over $36,000.

The NYPD finally discovers that sometimes, pedestrians do in fact have the right of way.

The first line sums it up nicely: Virginia is for lovers, but it’s not always for bikes.

Two teenage girls are arrested for nearly decapitating a Brit bike rider with a rope strung across a trail.

Ford will partner with Dahon to develop a line of folding bikes designed to fit into the company’s cars.

Aussie cyclists struggle to get fair treatment from investigators following traffic collisions. Actually, you could write that same story just about anywhere.

Finally, an Alaskan cyclist smashes the record for the 1,000-mile Iditarod human — not dog — powered race across the Alaskan backcountry. I wonder if his record had anything to do with the unusually warm weather that’s left many stretches of the course void of snow and ice?

Another bike victim In San Bernardino; cyclist seriously injured in Chula Vista; and charges in October OC hit-and-run

Let’s hope bad news just comes in twos this time.

Less than 24 hours after news broke that a bike rider had lost his life at the hands of a drunk driver in Huntington Beach Wednesday night, news is coming in that another rider died earlier that evening, this time in San Bernardino.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the 43-year old cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was riding west on the 1200 block of West Kendall Drive around 6:40 pm when she swerved across the roadway. While riding against traffic in the number 1 (left) lane of the roadway, she was apparently hit head-on by an eastbound Mustang driven by a 20-year old woman.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

No word on why she suddenly started riding against traffic. But let this serve as a reminder to never ride salmon — let alone in the middle of the roadway — and always be aware of other traffic on the roadway before making any sudden moves.

This is the 15th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Bernardino County.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and all her loved ones.

………

More bad news comes from San Diego County, where a bike rider suffered life threatening injuries in a collision with a truck in Chula Vista.

According to San Diego’s 10News, the victim was apparently crossing the offramp to the southbound I-805 at Bonita Road when he was hit by a truck exiting the freeway around 10 pm Wednesday.

Google’s satellite view shows what appears to be a bike lane leading up to the offramp.

Police say the driver stayed at the scene and did not appear to be under the influence.

The station reports initial evidence suggests the rider was at fault. However, traffic exiting the freeway is required to yield to through traffic; unless the victim was riding against traffic or failed to observe a traffic signal, it’s hard to imagine how he could have been at fault.

If police are saying he did go through a red light, the question is whether there are any independent witnesses other than the truck driver to attest to that, and if the signalization provided enough time to get across the intersection.

Either way, it sounds like prayers or good wishes are in order once again.

………

Jeffrey Fylling forwards word that Orange County prosecutors have filed charges against the truck driver who killed 19-year old cyclist Manuel Morales Rodriguez last October.

Forty-eight year old Filemon Reynaga was to be arraigned on Friday on one count of felony hit-and-run causing death and a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

Reynaga is accused of hitting Rodriguez as he pulled his semi truck out of an Anaheim driveway, then dragging the victim and his bike under his truck for up to 150 feet before fleeing the scene without stopping. Rodriguez was then hit by a second vehicle, which remained at the scene, and died as a result of inures suffered in the two collisions.

If convicted, Reynaga faces up to five years in state prison. He’s currently free on a ridiculously low $50,000 bail.

………

Finally, while we’re on the subject, I received this email from a rider troubled by all the recent bicycling deaths in Orange County, following the death of Matthew Liechty on Edwards Street in Huntington Beach on Wednesday. (Note: I added the links.)

But take fair warning. It’s a difficult read. And the last line hits like a punch in the gut.

Edwards became an alternate commute route for me after Roger Lippmann’s slaughter… until I realized that swinging over to PCH took me right past Becki Lee James’ house, which creeps me out. And now I’m disinclined take Goldenwest (whose “vicious hills” had become “gentle rollers” pretty quick after I abandoned the flat PCH commute) because I’ll picture the crunched-up Camry in the Ralph’s parking lot.

Have I ever passed this Matt Liechty on my commute? Was he the guy with the really, really bright headlamp? Were the distant sirens I heard last night responding to this incident?

What. the. holy. serious. fuck. Can’t I have a single fucking street on my commute where somebody hasn’t been slaughtered? Is that too much to ask?

And that piece you linked to recently about ghosts… I see those ghosts everywhere, sometimes in visual incarnations. New flowers on Lippmann’s memorial, a year and a half later? I hit the brakes and looked out at the sunshine sparkling on the water and wanted to apologize to him at the top of my lungs because he got a death sentence and his killer only got six years. Every time I pass 9th Street in Sunset Beach, every time, I still see the sea breeze blowing the ashes left behind by the flares set down for the investigation of Kenneth Prevatte’s death: gray ashes, grey asphalt, gray clouds. At 43rd & Wadsworth, where nobody from Perry’s office which announced it could be bothered to show up for a joke of a so-called press conference, I nearly caused a pile-up on RWNN last summer when I recognized the intersection as we entered it and idiotically froze, because I was seeing the ghost that no one else on that ride saw.

I see these ghosts because if I forget then I’ve left a rider behind and I can’t leave a rider behind.

Update: Another drunken OC driver, another fatal hit-and-run; arraignment Friday in death of Pasadena cyclist

It’s happened again.

An Orange County man gets behind the wheel after drinking, and flees the scene after running down a bicyclist riding in a Huntington Beach bike lane.

According to KTLA-5, the victim was riding south in the bike lane near Edwards Street and Ellis Avenue just before 11 pm last night when he was hit from behind by a 2012 Toyota Camry.

The rider, identified only as a 37-year old Huntington Beach resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver fled the scene — leaving behind one of his front tires — and was found by police about a mile away, with damage consistent with a collision. And presumably, only three tires.

Police arrested 29-year-old Antonio Magdaleno Jr. of Oxnard suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run leading to death.

Anyone with information is urged to call Huntington Beach Accident Investigator Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Accident Investigator Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.

This is the 14th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Orange County; in both cases, the victim was hit from behind by an alleged drunk driver while riding in a bike lane.

It’s also the 6th cycling death in Huntington Beach since 2011 — half of which were hit-and-runs, and involved drivers under the influence.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Matthew Liechty and his family.

Thanks to Ed Ryder for the heads-up.

Update: The Orange County Register has identified the victim as 37-year old Matthew Liechty of Huntington Beach. And yes, the photo with the story clearly shows the driver fled the scene on only three wheels.

Meanwhile, a source tells me HBPD Investigator Huynh averages over 100 DUI arrests each year, and had 445 in 2008.

Evidently, there are a lot of drunks on the road in Huntington Beach. We all owe a round of thanks to Investigator Huynh for taking some of the off.

Thanks to the OC Register for making this story public.

Update 2: The Witch on a Bicycle points out that the speed limit on that Edwards Street is 45 mph; given that most California drivers exceed the post limit by at least 10 mph, any collision with a cyclist or pedestrian is almost guaranteed to be lethal.

The Register has updated their story to report that Liechty was a former employee of the Orange County Probation Department, and briefly worked in a non-sworn position with the OC Sheriff’s Department before leaving last year.

………

On an all too similar note, I’ve received word that the driver who killed Pasadena cyclist Phillip O’Neill last June is — finally — being arraigned tomorrow.

O’Neill was riding with a companion near Caltech when he was hit from behind as he rode in the lane on Del Mar Blvd; he was struck with enough force to throw him across the road and into a parked car before striking the curb.

The woman he was riding with still struggles with the devastating effects of watching her friend fly through the air to his death. I’m respecting her privacy by withholding her name; however, here is her email urging bike riders to attend the arraignment.

Dear Friends and Family,

As some of you may know, the arraignment for the Pasadena motorist who struck and killed Phillip O’Neill on Del Mar Blvd. on June 15, 2013 is this coming Friday.

Phillip’s family and I would very much appreciate a show of support at the arraignment. We all feel that it’s important to send a message to the city that taking the life of a vulnerable road user is a very serious offense and should be treated as such. I have included details of the arraignment below.

Date: February 21, 2014

Time: Arrival 8:30am. Note that this case is one of six which will be heard this morning. We do not know the order in which the cases will be heard, however the prosecutor believes the case will be heard before noon.

Place: Pasadena Superior Court, 300 E. Walnut, Pasadena 91101

In the event that the case goes to trial there may be additional opportunities to show your support. I will share those if it does. To find out more about how Pasadena CBO’s and residents have come together in response to Phillip’s death, and others like it, go to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition website at http://www.pas-csc.org/.

In a follow-up email, she describes the man whose life was ended by a careless driver that day.

Phillip was an amazing person – young but incredibly accomplished, with a master’s degree in renewable energies, he was a master gardener at one of the best botanical gardens in the nation, amateur chef; these are just a few in an impressive list.

I know it’s a lot to ask to sacrifice your morning, especially on such short notice. But if you’re in the Pasadena area on Friday, they could really use your support.

And it couldn’t hurt to send a message to the court that we’re watching this case.

Meanwhile, it serves as a reminder that Pasadena still has a long way to go to make the roads safe for everyone.

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