Archive for Legal Cases

Breaking News: No justice for OC cyclist Kenneth Prevatte; civil suit filed in Debra Deem case

Once again, there’s no justice for a fallen rider.

Late Tuesday, I received an email from the sister of Kenneth Prevatte, killed in a rear-end collision while riding in a Sunset Beach bike lane on PCH in Huntington Beach over two years ago. She informed me that Becki Lee James, the driver charged in the death of the popular Long Beach cyclist, was acquitted in a trial this week.

She reports James had been charged with vehicular manslaughter; she had originally been arrested on suspicion of felony DUI causing great bodily injury & gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

No word yet on why the alcohol charges had been dropped or why she was acquitted in what seemed like a clear cut case; hopefully we’ll have more information soon.

But at least the Orange County District Attorney should be congratulated for filing charges in a case with no guarantee of victory — unlike the LA DA.

And hopefully, Prevatte’s family will get the justice they deserve in civil court.

In an aside to the case, one of the potential jurors dismissed from the jury pool in the James trial was the brother of teenage cyclist Sean Severson, killed while biking to school in Fountain Valley.

Pity that those who would make the best jurors in cases like this are the ones who are automatically excluded.

……..

Speaking of civil court, I received a press release from Torrance-based law firm AgnewBrusavich, the firm behind the CalBikeLAw.com website, announcing they had filed a civil suit in the death of cyclist Debra Deem.

Deem, the wife of former Olympian cyclist and Cycle Werks bike shops owner Paul Deem, was riding in the bike lane on PCH in Newport Beach when she was right hooked by a driver turning onto Newport Coast Drive.

The suit alleges that the State of California and the City of Newport Beach were both negligent in the design and maintenance of what has been described as a very confusing intersection by cyclists who ride there. Unlike other intersections in the area, the bike lane reportedly disappears prior to the highway-style interchange, leaving riders with no clear pathway to the other side, and no guide for drivers on where bikes are likely to be positioned.

According to the release, Paul Deem filed the suit, at least in part, in hopes that it will bring much needed safety improvements to this section of PCH.

Meanwhile, I’m told that the case against the driver, 84-year old Robert James Anderson, ended in a mistrial on Friday; no word yet on why or if the case will be refiled.

 

Morning Links: An open letter to the LA DA’s office; Streetsblog talks with LADOT head Seleta Reynolds

The fight for justice goes on.

Following up on DA Jackie Lacey’s non-response to the LACBC’s demand for justice in the Milt Olin case, cyclist Al Williams shares an email he sent to the DA’s office. And cites a similar case from Santa Clara County where the DA actually did give a damn.

Milt Olin was cycling in a designated, marked bike lane on a clear, sunny afternoon.

While it may be legal for a sheriff’s deputy to use his computer while driving, it is not legal for him to be inattentive while driving, which he most clearly was; and it is not legal for his car to enter a designated bike lane, as his car clearly did.

It is inconceivable to conclude that Andrew Wood was other than inattentive when he struck and killed Milt Olin on 8 Dec 2013.  Please correct this decision.  Please correct the finding of your office.  It is imperative that a message be sent that inattentiveness resulting in death will not be tolerated.

James Council, the Santa Clara County deputy sheriff who “fell asleep” while driving on duty, crossed the road, and killed Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson on March 9, 2008 was charged with vehicular manslaughter by the Santa Clara Count District Attorney, plead guilty and was convicted.  (http://abc7news.com/archive/6884991/)  The punishment was distressingly minor, but at least he was charged and convicted.  You should follow this precedent.  Failure to charge Deputy Wood is an outrage.

You can contact the DA’s office to express your own outrage any of the following ways, courtesy of the LACBC.

1. E-Mail :webmail@da.lacounty.gov, bcc: info@la-bike.org

2. Snail mail to:
District Attorney’s Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000

Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

3. Phone: (213) 974-3512

4. Twitter: @LADAoffice

……..

New Vuelta winner Alberto Contador rules out a trip to the world championships; Chris Froome finished second in the race.

Caught on video: A rider in the Tour of Britain loses it on a sharp curve and takes out several spectators.

Jeremy Powers and Katie effing Compton — no really, that’s her Twitter handle — capture the Boulder Cup cyclocross race.

……..

Local

The upstart LA Register says fat bikes are big business.

Two former USC students want to cover the world with free bicycles; profits come from ads on the bikes.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton talks with new LADOT boss Seleta Reynolds; she may just be the world-class transportation leader LA has been begging for. And deserves.

 

State

The Orange County Register takes an in-depth look at the state’s new three-foot law, which goes into effect on Tuesday.

Seriously? A reader poll in the San Diego Union Tribune’s story on the three-foot law says bikes are bigger road hogs than cars. I kid you not.

Incensed motorists accuse San Jose’s Mr. Roadshow of being biased towards bicyclists; bike riders get their say the next day. Personally, I’ve always found the column fair and balanced in dealing with road issues. Then again, I’m one of the one’s he’s accused of favoring.

Hundreds of Marin County cyclists ride to remember fellow rider Robin Williams.

If you’re riding with a fake gun and police try to stop you for a traffic violation, don’t try to flee into an acquaintance’s home — especially if she has meth and hash inside. Oops.

 

National

Miss America contestants highlight their footwear; Miss Oregon gives a whole different meaning to bike shoes.

New York bicycling injuries drop despite an increase in ridership.

A Maryland writer is shocked by the irrational hatred directed towards cyclists by online commenters, saying riders just want to safely return to their loved ones.

A Virginia writer says the first step in solving traffic problems is treating bike riders and pedestrians as respected users of the public right-of-way.

 

International

An 18-year old UK cyclist is back to riding after technically dying four times — whatever that means — following a trackside heart attack.

After a frequently photographed bike is stolen from the Scottish barn it leaned against for at least four decades, a local photographer contributes a suitably rusty replacement.

Another look at Australia’s first hydrogen-powered bicycle.

 

Finally…

Biking to work can improve your romantic relationships — and your sex life. But you already knew that, right? An actual human cyclist pulls off a video game quality stunt; even I’m impressed.

And it seems like the entire world is in an uproar over the Columbia women’s cycling team’s highly unfortunate new uniforms; some with tongue apparently planted deep in cheek.

 

Weekend Links: LA DA responds in Olin case, but says nothing; KY rider convicted for riding in the street

It didn’t take long for LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey to respond to the LACBC’s demand for justice in the Milt Olin case.

Only problem is, she didn’t have anything new to say.

In the letter (pdf), she repeats the insistence in the original refusal notice (pdf) that Deputy Wood was legally allowed to use his onboard computer when he ran Olin down last December. And that there is simply not enough evidence to get a conviction in the case.

Never mind that Wood was clearly driving distracted — which is a crime even if the driver is participating in an otherwise legal activity — as well as illegally driving in the bike lane, and admitted that he never saw the cyclist directly in front of his car. And witnesses said he never even touched his brakes before plowing into Olin’s bike.

Even I could get a conviction with evidence like that.

And never mind that prosecuting attorney’s frequently file challenging cases because they feel the victim deserves justice.

Which raises the question of what’s really going on here. And whether the DA is deliberately trying to quash the case, for reasons known only to her.

Though we can speculate.

The bottom line is, if Lacey is unwilling to prosecute in a case like this, no cyclist can expect to get justice in Los Angeles County.

Especially not if there’s a cop involved.

And that’s the real tragedy.

Here’s how to contact the DA’s office to express your outrage, courtesy of the LACBC. And if you’re not outraged, you should be.

1. E-Mail: webmail@da.lacounty.gov, bcc: info@la-bike.org

2. Snail mail to:

District Attorney’s Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

3. Phone: (213) 974-3512

4. Twitter: @LADAoffice

……..

In a bizarre miscarriage of justice, a Kentucky bike rider is convicted of careless driving for repeatedly riding in the traffic lane instead of on the shoulder on a busy multi-lane highway.

Even though the shoulder is not legally part of the roadway, and cyclists are entitled to ride in the traffic lane in every state in the Union. Yes, even in the Blue Grass State.

You can contribute to her legal fight here. And yes, she plans to appeal.

……..

Lots of writers are weighing in on bikes this weekend.

Starting close to home, a Burbank letter writer clearly gets it, saying bikes don’t impede traffic, they reduce congestion. Meanwhile, a columnist for the Daily News clearly doesn’t, insisting the new three-foot law will only make our streets narrower and that bikes could never, ever be even a small part of the solution for LA’s traffic problems.

A Riverside letter writer doesn’t get it, either, basically insisting that bike riders are all scofflaw jerks who deserve what they get.

An Arizona writer says yes, cyclists have rights, but also have responsibilities. And a Wyoming letterist takes the local paper to task for a perceived bias against bike riders.

……..

Alberto Contador extends his lead over Chris Froome to wrap up the Vuelta.

Officials insist the doping era in professional cycling is officially over; evidently, no one bothered to tell Italian rider Matteo Rabottini.

And in non-pro cycling, a 70-year old New England cyclist took home three golds from the US masters road championships.

……..

Local

An architect and urban planner says it’s time to speed up the scope and pace of urban change in the City of Angels — including replacing Copenhagen as the bike capital of the world.

The LACBC offers members a free Basic Bicycling Skills class on Saturday the 20th.

Also on the 20th, Helen’s Cycles hosts a monthly no-drop Women’s Only Group Ride. The same day, Helen’s holds a free training ride for the Beverly Hills Gran Fondo Italia.

Glendale residents discuss where to locate a bike, ped and possibly equestrian bridge over the LA River.

Gritty Wilmington has the most extensive bike network in the city — and maybe the state — with 21.6 miles of connected bike lanes.

 

State

A San Diego cyclist is seriously injured after allegedly running a red light.

The Riverside Police Department asks for the public’s help in solving the hit-and-run death of bike rider D’Andre Sutherland last month.

Riverside entrepreneur Michael Cachat parlays his love of bicycling into a $28 million business.

A Jurupa Valley bike rider suffers major injuries in a Thursday afternoon collision.

A fake Palo Alto cop pulls over and chastises a teenage cyclist while waving a gun.

A helmet-wearing Sacramento comedian suffers a concussion in a collision.

 

National

City Lab explains what a road diet is and why even the US Department of Transportation recommends them; evidently, they know something CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo doesn’t. Or doesn’t want to, maybe.

The next step in accommodating bikes is building low-stress bike networks.

New cardboard panniers fold out on the spot to carry your belongings.

In Tucson, even streetcar drivers are disciplined for driving too close to a bike rider.

Was Boise’s failed buffered bike lane project designed to do so?

A Milwaukee website says protected bike lanes are the silver bullet of bike safety.

New York plans bike corrals in front of four Prospect Heights bars, even if not everyone gets it.

Caught on video: A New York rider captures a dooring and its aftermath on helmet cam.

Baton Rouge gets bike wayfinding signage right.

 

International

Sad news from the UK, as the girlfriend of a British mountain biker is killed when another rider loses control as she stood next to the course to see her boyfriend compete.

British Cycling plans to get more women riding in Wales and Scotland, the latter of which may derail their plans by untying the United Kingdom.

An Aussie advocacy group calls trucks wheels of mass destruction.

An Australian state DOT rejects “radical” bike rule changes, including an Idaho stop law and legalizing sidewalk riding. No, radical would be arming cyclists to defend themselves against threatening drivers.

 

Finally…

Seriously? A Cincinnati letter writer calls for red and orange safety warning triangles on bikes. Seattle moves to invalidate marijuana tickets written by a bike cop who actually flipped a coin to decide who to write up.

And after a Biloxi man steals a police bike, cops chase him down on foot — because he stole their bike.

 

Morning Links: No contest plea in Phillip O’Neill case, the Times gets it on 3-foot law, AnyKicks squeaks by

Maybe there’s justice after all.

Monday morning the driver responsible for the violent death of Pasadena cyclist Phillip O’Neill accepted a plea deal that will put him behind bars, at least for awhile.

O’Neill was riding with a companion on a designated Class 3 bike route on Del Mar Blvd when he was hit from behind with enough force to throw him into a parked car on the opposite side of the street.

According to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, which was formed in response to O’Neill’s death, Jose Gonzales pled no contest to a charge of vehicular manslaughter. He will be sentenced at that end of the month to terms including:

  • 90 days jail
  • 45 days Cal Trans service work
  • 3 years probation
  • Participation in HAM (Hospital and Morgue) program — a “scared straight” program for DUI offenders
  • $13,000 restitution

Although there is no true “justice” in a case like this, PasCSC would like to thank prosecuting attorney Joon Kim for his efforts to hold the operator of the motor vehicle responsible for this thoroughly preventable collision, especially in light of the failure to do so in other recent fatal collisions involving pedestrians and/or cyclists. Operating a motor vehicle while distracted or under the influence of alcohol  or other drugs is never an accident. And it too often comes at too great a cost to innocent bystanders.

Clearly, it’s not enough.

The life of an innocent victim should be worth more than a mere three months in jail. But given the limitations in current laws, and considering how seldom drivers face any jail time at all — let alone prosecution — this is one we can all be grateful for.

In fact, O’Neill’s family, and the woman who was riding with him — who has asked not to be identified — have asked cyclists to write Pasadena Deputy City Prosecutor Joon Kim to thank him for his dogged persistence in prosecuting this case. As she put it,

He did not waver on sentencing, and felt strongly that taking a life through reckless driving be punished.

You can write Kim at:

Joon Kim
100 North Garfield Avenue, suite N 210
Pasadena, CA 91101

……..

We mentioned this one the other day, even though there were no bikes involved. Prosecutors announced that the North Dakota woman who killed an 89-year old North Dakota grandmother while scrolling through Facebook while driving at 85 mph will face a well-deserved charge of negligent homicide.

No word on how much time she could face.

……..

Now there’s something you don’t see every day, as two pro cyclists are kicked out of the Vuelta for coming to blows while on their bikes. Road.cc profiles the final week of the race, while Contador takes control.

Just weeks after suffering major brain and facial injuries when he rear-ended a support vehicle during Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge, rookie pro cyclist Ian Crane is recovering and hopes to get back to racing.

……..

Now that was close.

BikinginLA sponsor AnyKicks made their $30,000 goal for funding on Kickstarter with just $66 to spare. Thanks to everyone here who helped push them over the top.

……..

Local

Streetsblog posts a short video by Nathan Lucero documenting last week’s ride and vigil calling for justice for fallen cyclist Milt Olin.

They get it. A Times editorial calls the new three-foot passing law, which takes effect next week, a smart first step in rational road-sharing, and part of a long, slow process in building a bike-friendly society.

Evidently, when you’re on meth, it’s hard to remember you don’t have to say yes when police ask to check your backpack.

Long Beach needs volunteers for this year’s bike count.

 

State

Next City looks at AB 1193, recently passed by the state legislature to legalize protected bike lanes in California, which are technically banned under current regulations.

Who’s the real victim? The driver who injured a woman when he plowed into the Zombie Walk during San Diego’s Comic-Con has sued the San Diego Police Department for creating a “confusing and misleading situation for motorists.” Thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up.

San Diego’s next CicloSDias rolls through the Hillcrest neighborhood in November.

Wish I could be there. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition rides in honor of fellow cyclist Robin Williams.

 

National

Someone forward this to anti-bike lane LA Councilmember Gil Cedillo. Results from New York show road diets can actually improve traffic flow and reduce delays, while confirming that protected bike lanes improve safety for everyone.

Seattle’s new protected bike lane on Second Ave proves a hit with cyclists, even as it confuses motorists. Unfortunately, it came a week too late for cyclist Sher Kung, one of the attorneys who successfully fought the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Tragic news from Chicago, as local actress Molly Glynn died in a freak accident when a tree fell on her while she was riding during a storm; she had a recurring role in the TV show Chicago Fire. Note to the Chicago Tribune: Whether Glynn was wearing a helmet might have mattered if she was hit by a falling branch; a falling tree, not so much.

Streetsblog Chicago questions whether the Second City really deserves to be ranked as America’s second best bike city.

In a truly bizarre case, Muncie IN authorities try to inform a woman her brother was killed when his bike was hit by a car — only to discover she had evidently been undiscovered after dying late last week.

Even after a New York cyclist tracked down the hit-and-run driver that left her lying injured in the street, the NYPD can’t be bothered to talk to the suspect.

Evidently, you have to be crazy to ride in bike-unfriendly Alabama.

 

International

At least the deputy in the Milt Olin case didn’t back over his victim after hitting him, unlike police in Ontario, Canada.

An 84-year old British man overcame two broken hips to set a new hour record for the 80 to 84 age group. Of course, it’s easier to set the record when no one that age has ever attempted it, but still.

The UK woman who called for assertive action to halt a pair of organized rides backed off when no one else came to her support.

A Brit driver loses her license for a whopping six months for fatally dooring a cyclist. No fine. No jail time. No justice.

A Kiwi cyclist is viciously attacked by two road raging motorcyclists after one knocks him down.

 

Finally…

Former Sopranos star Edie Falco is a four time loser to bike theft, after her treasured ebike is stolen in New York. An Omaha cyclist rides into a puddle, and finds himself neck deep in a sink hole. And evidently, a bike makes a good getaway vehicle when robbing an Aussie brothel.

 

Morning Links: Cyclists ride for justice; LACBC ED Jen Klausner resigns, Los Angeles is nation’s 28th Best Bike City

As it turned out, I missed Wednesday night’s ride and vigil calling for justice for Milt Olin when complications from my diabetes once again knocked me on my ass.

Fortunately, a lot of riders didn’t.

According to Streetsblog, roughly 75 riders made the 30 mile journey from Calabasas, where Milt Olin was run down by an admittedly distracted sheriff’s deputy last December, to the District Attorney’s office in Downtown LA to demand justice for Olin after the DA refused to file charges. That number swelled to an estimated 125 as other voices joined in.

I’ll leave reporting of the event to those who were actually there. The Los Angeles Register and the LA Daily News both offer in-depth reports on the ride and vigil, and the events leading up to it, while KABC-7 has video from the scene. And Gary Kavanagh captures the event with his usual great camera work.

Meanwhile, you can read the full three-page letter from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition urging the DA to reconsider the decision not to file charges.

But perhaps more than anything else, this simple tweet from the Milt Olin Foundation says it best.

Olin-Tweet

……..

Speaking of the LACBC, they have big news.

Jennifer Klausner, executive director of the LACBC, announced her resignation from the coalition, effective at the end of the year.

Over the past seven years, Jen has overseen the growth of the coalition from a single employee — herself — to 12, as well as the birth of a lucky 13 local chapters throughout the county. And helped make the LACBC Southern California’s dominant voice for cyclists; the boom in local bike-friendliness occurred, not just on her watch, but in large part thanks to her leadership.

I am heartbroken to see her go.

In the five years I’ve been involved with the coalition, Jen has always been a vital part of it, adding her warmth, insight and humor to whatever issues confronted the organization, and leading the group through all the many ups and down. Such an important part, in fact, that I can’t imagine the LACBC without her.

And yet, she leaves it positioned for even greater growth and success in the years to come.

The coalition will undoubtedly find a new Executive Director, one with the leadership skills to build it into one of the nation’s leading bicycle advocacy organizations, as it should be for a city this size, and with a ridership as vast and varied as we enjoy.

But we will never find another Jen.

You can read her full resignation letter here.

Full disclosure: I am a board member of the LACBC; however, I have been inactive for most of this year as I’ve dealt with health issues that have kept me largely incapacitated; I hope to return to my duties on the board before Jen leaves, and help with the transition to a new director.

……..

Caught on video: This one’s way too close for comfort, as a cyclist narrowly avoids getting sideswiped by a cattle trailer in what could be an intentional assault — note the puff of black smoke as the driver cuts the rider off, in a practice known as rolling coal.

……..

Bicycling shocks everyone by naming New York the nation’s Best Bike City with Chicago second; Portland is demoted to number four while my hometown clocks in at number nine.

A bigger surprise is the city found at number 28 — yes, not only did Los Angeles actually make the list, we came in just five notches below Long Beach and five above Thousand Oaks. Surprisingly, bike friendly Santa Monica didn’t make the cut.

……..

Phillip Young, President of the San Diego Wheelmen, sends a reminder that cyclist Juan Carlos Viñolo and his family needs our help.

Viñolo suffered a severe spinal cord injury when he was hit, along with several other riders, by a drunken wrong way driver on San Diego’s Fiesta Island. In an act of bravery, he pushed another rider aside and took the full impact of the collision himself, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

The Juan Carlos Fund has raised over $172,000 for medical expenses and to support his family, but much more is needed. Your generosity could make all the difference.

……..

Lots of events and opportunities to learn how to ride, or ride better, coming up.

CICLE is offering an adult bicycling for beginners class in Eagle Rock this Sunday.

The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition hosts a teen bike safety workshop on Saturday, the 27th.

CORBA — not the elusive albino cobra — is providing an Introduction to Mountain Biking Skills Clinic at Malibu Creek State Park this Saturday.

Marina del Rey Middle School hosts a Kids Bike Festival this Sunday.

The LACBC host their monthly Sunday Funday ride in Carson on Sunday.

Join CicLAvia for an afternoon of open houses and events exploring the newly pedestrian friendly Broadway in DTLA this Saturday, followed by a screening of Mulholland Drive at the spectacular Million Dollar Theater.

Bike riders are invited to attend a party celebrating the launch of Eddi, a new mobile marketplace app that promises to change the way we buy and sell things. The free event takes place in Pasadena this Saturday, from 7 to 10 pm.

You’re invited to celebrate the start of cyclocross season with the Pedal Cross Mulholland Gravel Grinder Ride at Pedaler’s Fork in Calabasas this Sunday.

……..

Local

Flying Pigeon looks at the ins-and-outs of riding bikes with kids.

Streetsblog and LA Walks want your vote to win a grant to organize a Vision Zero plan for LA.

Writing for Streetsblog, Roger Rudick says police need to innovate, not prevaricate. And stop parking in the damn bike lane, already.

Seven suspects have now been arrested in a string of assaults on Santa Clarita bike paths; two have already been sent to juvenile camps.

 

State

CABO confusingly clarifies their opposition to AB 1193, the badly needed new law approving protected bike lanes currently awaiting Governor Brown’s signature.

Fullerton finally looks at bike safety improvements following the needless death of rider Raphael Correa.

Once again, a killer driver gets off with no charges, this time for the Newport Beach death of cyclist Paul Lin.

The Orange County Register says this is the best time of the year. I couldn’t agree more; now that the tourists are gone, we can have the often overcrowded beachfront bike paths to ourselves.

San Diego plows under a rogue mountain bike park in Balboa Park.

Bike share bites the dust in La Jolla.

Tips for hassle-free riding in San Francisco.

Battle lines are drawn over proposed bike lanes in San Rafael; as usual, fears of lost parking lead the way.

 

National

VeloNews remembers a 2003 interview with fellow cyclist Robin Williams.

Colorado cyclists — and riders everywhere — are finding comfortable alternatives to spandex.

It’s all the way down in the last sentence. But the Denver Broncos will be hosting a 500-space bike valet at their games this year.

Bike friendly Colorado continues to be the thinnest state in the Union; bike unfriendly West Virginia and Mississippi, not so much. Not surprisingly, people are healthier where more walk or bike to work.

DC proposes effectively banning bikes from streets with streetcar tracks.

In a truly heartbreaking story, a cyclist is fatally stabbed by a homeless man in Florida as he neared the finish of a cross-country ride to propose to his girlfriend.

 

International

How Cuban cyclists fix their bikes when there are no parts available in the country.

London’s mayor calls for segregated cycleways through the city.

Bike riding is now the key for British employees to get ahead at work.

Giovanni Pinarello, founder of the iconic brand, died at age 92 after a good, long life.

Pro cycling’s toughest rider, the recently retired Jens Voigt, will attempt to set a new hour record later this month.

 

Finally…

Britain’s angriest driver fined £500 for swearing at a cyclist 25 times in 35 seconds. Cycling in the South Bay learns what it feels like when the bike shoe is on the other foot.

And no bikes involved, fortunately, as a driver is arrested for a Santa Ana hit-and-run — by the same cop as he was for another hit-and-run at the same intersection 19 years earlier.

 

All hands on deck: Ride and vigil tonight for justice in Milt Olin case; is the DA’s office involved in a cover-up?

Let’s be honest.

When a prosecutor really wants to file charges in a traffic case, they’ll tear the vehicle code apart until they find something that sticks.

So when the DA’s office examines a case and concludes there’s nothing there, it’s more often an indication that they don’t want to prosecute, for whatever reason.

Like when it’s a cop who ran down a cyclist, for instance.

When the LA County DA’s office announced last week they weren’t filing charges against the sheriff’s deputy who killed Milt Olin, they concluded (pdf) that he had not violated the state prohibition against texting while driving because police officers in the course of their duty are exempted from the law. Never mind that he’d also been texting — illegally — with his wife as recently as one minute prior to the wreck.

And yet, I’ve repeatedly been told by officers from a number of different police agencies that it’s not just the act of texting behind the wheel that’s against the law, but simply being distracted while driving. For whatever reason.

From putting on makeup or eating, to simply changing the stations on the radio. And yes, some people still listen to the radio when they drive.

Anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the road is distracted driving. Or as cited by the LA Times, “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

By that standard, Deputy Wood was clearly distracted when he ran down Olin’s bike from behind.

In fact, by his own admission, he never even saw Olin or knew he was driving in the bike lane when he hit him at somewhere around 48 mph, which was his last recorded speed prior to the impact.

He could just as well have been charged with making an illegal lane change. Or driving in a bike lane.

Or even the catch-all violation when police can’t come up with anything else to charge a driver — or too often, a bike rider — with, violating CVC 22350, the state’s basic speed law.

After all, no speed is safe when you have no idea where you’re driving or what’s in the road directly in front of you.

And any or all of which could be used to support the sheriff’s investigator’s recommended charge of vehicular manslaughter.

So the question becomes one of why they’re not willing to file charges. Any charges.

It could, as many have speculated, be a case of looking out for their own; the District Attorney relies on police officers to build their cases, and may be reluctant to prosecute an officer as a result.

Or it could simply be that the death of a cyclist — even one as prominent as entertainment lawyer and former Napster executive Milt Olin — just isn’t worth their time.

Or it could be a cover-up.

By prosecuting Wood, the deputy could be forced to testify in his defense that, even though using the onboard computer while driving is officially against sheriff’s department policy, the unofficial policy encourages officers to do just the opposite.

Which would make higher-ups in the department complicit in Olin’s death. And could have led them to pressure the DA not to file.

Maybe there’s a more innocent explanation for the failure to charge the driver with something.

Anything.

But the official explanation doesn’t hold water.

And the fact that they’ve left themselves open to this kind of speculation shows just how wrong that decision was.

………

If this case pisses you off as much as it does me, you’ll have your chance to demand justice for Milt Olin, and all of us, tonight.

The LACBC, Yield to Life and Ghost Bikes LA are hosting a ride and vigil for Milt Olin to call on the DA to revisit the case and press charges.

This is an all-hands-on-deck demand for justice.

If there’s any way you can be there for all or part of it, you owe it to yourself to attend. Because the more people who participate, and the more varied the riders who attend, the better our message will penetrate the insulated offices of the District Attorney.

I’m going to do my best to attend the vigil, at least. If you don’t see me there, it means my health has knocked me on my ass once again.

From the LACBC website:

When: Wednesday, September 3

Schedule:

  • 4:00 p.m. Meet at crash site (around 22532 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302)
  • 4:15 p.m. Moment of silence
  • 4:30 p.m. Start ride
  • 6:30 p.m. Leave from the L.A. Zoo parking lot (5333 Zoo Dr, Griffith Park, CA 90027). Other riders can meet up here.
  • 7:30-8:00 p.m. Arrive at District Attorney’s office (210 W Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012)
  • 8:00 p.m. Candlelight vigil

The public is invited to join us at the beginning, ride with us, join us for the vigil, or meet us at any point along the way (exact route to be determined).

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/Y4xFh

The route follows major streets through the San Fernando Valley and Griffith Park to Downtown Los Angeles. Riders will be expected to stay alert and follow all traffic laws. The ride is scheduled to arrive in Downtown just after sunset, therefore lights are required by law.

The route is 30 miles. Riders should come prepared with water and snacks to stay fueled.

Shorter options:

  • Start at the L.A. Zoo parking lot (5333 Zoo Dr, Griffith Park, CA 90027) for an approximately 10-mile ride into Downtown. Please arrive no later than 6:15 and be ready to ride by 6:30 p.m.
  • Start in Calabasas, ride 17 miles to the Universal City Red Line station (located at Lankershim Blvd and Campo de Cahuenga), and take the Red Line to Civic Center, where the D.A.’s office is located (210 W Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012). Riders who lag behind the main group will be asked to take this option.
  • Join us for the vigil. People are welcome to skip the ride and meet us at the D.A.’s office. The ride is expected to arrive between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.
  • Meet us along the way. We will do our best to live-tweet our location with the hashtag #rideformilt. Follow us @lacbc.

Getting to the ride:

  • The start is on a suburban section of Mulholland Highway with little to no on-street parking (approximate address: 22532 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302). We recommend taking the Metro Orange Line or Orange Line Bike Path to De Soto or Canoga and riding from there. Free park-and-rides are available along the Orange Line.
  • Check out the Facebook event and feel free to post feeder rides there.

Getting from the ride:

  • The best option is always riding (with lights!) or taking transit.
  • If you parked at a Metro Orange Line park-and-ride, take the Red Line from Civic Center to North Hollywood. Then either transfer to the Orange Line (limit 3 bikes per bus) or ride along the Orange Line Bike Path to your car.

Questions? Post them in the Facebook event or call the office at 213-629-2142 and we’ll do our best to respond before the ride.

 

Morning Links: More on misguided Olin decision; protected bikeways and hit-and-run bills pass legislature

More on the DA’s refusal to prosecute the sheriff’s deputy who killed cyclist Milt Olin, as cyclists urge the DA to change her mind.

Meanwhile, the local Calabasas paper picks up the story, while Digital Music News offers an angry response. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton rails against the decision. And the story goes international, courtesy of London’s Daily Mail; thanks to Kevin Hopps for the tip.

LA Daily News writer Brenda Gazzar writes that the Sheriff’s Department will open an internal affairs investigation into Deputy Andrew Wood now that the investigation is complete; thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link. Be sure follow her if you’re on Twitter for the latest updates and best reporting on this case.

For those who want to do more than sit and seethe, a protest ride and vigil will held next Wednesday, sponsored by the LACBC, Yield to Life and Ghost Bikes LA.

milt_olin_FLYR

……..

Despite difficult to understand opposition from CABO, the protected bikeways bill sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition passed the legislature Thursday and awaits the governor’s signature. The bill will allow protected bikeways, which are currently considered experimental under California law, as long as they adhere to NACTO guidelines.

Meanwhile, two hit-and-run bills sponsored by Glendale Assembly Member Mike Gatto passed, as well; AB 47 will create a Yellow Alert system to notify the public about significant hit-and-runs, while AB 1532 would automatically suspend the license of any driver convicted of hit-and-run. Thanks to Finish the Ride for the heads-up.

……..

LA Weekly rides along to the Emmys with Mad Men writer/producer Tom Smuts and company.

……..

Alejandro Valverde captures stage six of the Vuelta. Disappointing that one of the world’s great bike classics is getting so little coverage, especially when it promises to be one of the best in years.

And even though Lizzie Armistead has already wrapped up the Women’s World Cup, there’s still a lot at stake in the final race.

……..

Local

Two miles of new bike path open along the LA River in the West Valley.

Flying Pigeon questions whether North Figueroa drivers really want faster speeds or better traffic flow.

Fig4All explains how one misguided councilmember can derail a much needed safety improvement project on North Figueroa. And what can be done about it.

Bicyclists in the City of Angeles will ride in solidary with the Afghan women’s cycling team “and all women who ride bikes in the face of adversity” this Saturday.

LA cyclists ride to remember three fallen Belizean riders.

Who knew? The Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills was once home to some of the region’s finest bike trails.

Santa Monica police bust a bait bike thief.

A jogger is critically injured running in the bike lane on PCH in west Malibu when he’s hit by a car, which doesn’t bode well for cyclists using the lane intended for them. Correction: It turns out that’s not a bike lane, after all. 

 

State

San Diego’s new Bicycle Advisory Committee promises to make the city better for biking

Santa Barbara gets $8.6 million for bike projects, while Goleta gets $3.654 million and Santa Ana gets a relatively paltry $3 million.

Sadly, a Roseville rider is killed by her own SUV when it rolls over her while she’s trying to remove her bike from the back.

 

National

Momentum Magazine lists the next great bicycling cities, while Bicycling is about to offer an updated list of the nation’s top 10 bike cities. Do I really need to mention that LA didn’t make either list?

A 91-year old Oregon WWII and Vietnam Vet plans to keep riding despite being hit by a car.

No distracted driving law means the penalty for hitting a Texas cyclist is no worse than getting a speeding ticket.

Despite the LSU paper’s apparent ethical dilemma, bike theft is just wrong. Period.

A 75-year old former Manhattan bike commuter reminds his fellow Virginia riders they’re not above the law.

Milt Olin isn’t the only cyclist to lose his life to a sheriff’s deputy, as a 15-year old Florida boy is run down for no apparent reason by a patrol car driven by a Lee County deputy.

 

International

Calgary defenseman Cory Sarich puts his NHL career on hold to recover from serious injuries suffered in a frightening bike collision last month.

The UK government is urged to protect funding for bikes and pedestrians.

Half of Brit drivers break the law; I suspect the percentage would be a lot higher here.

Turns out London cyclists aren’t a danger to guide dogs after all.

A Brit minibus driver gets five years for killing a cyclist while looking a photos on his cell phone.

India’s Health Minister wants a nationwide network of protected bike lanes.

Clearly, it was a loss felt worldwide, as Aussie cyclists ride to remember Robin Williams.

 

Finally…

When you’re leaving an Ohio drug house with crack on your bike, put a damn bell on it if that’s what the law requires; the bike, not the crack. Now that your GoPro bike cam can give you a dog’s eye view of the world, expect to see a lot of butt close-ups.

And evidently, a pair of Laguna Beach cyclists are selling something to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research. Unless the local paper meant pedal, instead of peddle, of course.

 

Update: DA refuses to file charges in Milt Olin case

The investigation is finally complete.

As predicted as soon as the LA County Sheriff’s Department inexplicably insisted on investigating itself in the death of cyclist and former Napster Exec Milt Olin, no charges will be filed against the deputy who killed him.

And as long predicated by myself and others, the immediate cause of the collision was the deputy’s use of the patrol car’s onboard computer while traveling on a winding road at 48 mph.

It was clear that the Sheriff’s Department was attempting to downplay their investigation — if not coverup the results — when they announced late on the Friday before Memorial Day that it had been turned over to the DA’s office for evaluation over a week before.

Then, nothing.

Not a word from the District Attorney for over three months, until news broke late this afternoon that the deputy responsible, Andrew Wood, would not face charges.

DA refusal letter (pdf)

Surprisingly, it actually appears the Sheriff’s Department recommended a charge of vehicular manslaughter; not surprisingly, the DA declined to file, saying they did not feel they could prove the deputy was negligent, which would be required for a conviction.

As we have discussed before, the case hinged on CVC 23123.5, which prohibits using electronic communication devices while driving — but exempts police officers and other emergency service workers in the performance of their duties.

According to the DA, that exemption applied in this case, as Wood was typing a response to a query from another officer when he drifted into the bike lane and rear-ended Olin’s bike without ever braking.

As often happens in such cases, Wood initially claimed Olin swerved in front of him in the traffic lane, and he only went into the bike lane in an attempt to avoid him. That is, until physical evidence and witness testimony proved him wrong, at which point his story changed to say he never saw Olin prior to the collision.

Yet somehow, the mere fact that Wood was driving at nearly 50 mph — in a bike lane — with no idea what was on the road directly in front of him is not sufficient evidence of negligence as far as the DA’s office is concerned.

Simply put, there are only two options.

Either the deputy was at fault for driving distracted — even though he could legally use the computer, he is still required to drive in a safe and legal manner.

Or the Sheriff’s Department itself is negligent for a policy allowing its officers to use the onboard computer in a manner that places everyone else at risk, as they will undoubtedly be found responsible for in the civil suit filed by members of the Olin family.

Either way, thanks to the complicity of the DA’s office, no one will ever be held accountable for the death of an innocent man, whose only crime was going for a bike ride on a sunny afternoon.

And a dangerous, if not deadly, policy will never be changed.

Thanks to Brenda Gazzar for breaking the story. 

Update: The afore mentioned Brenda Gazzar offers a detailed look at the case and the DA’s decision not to file charges in the LA Daily News, including this:

Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said he was disappointed to see a clearly distracted law enforcement officer escape charges on what he called a technicality.

“Just because the law allows someone to do something while driving doesn’t mean they are allowed to do something unsafely while driving,” Bruins said. “Hitting someone from behind is very clear evidence that whatever was going on in that car was not safe and should have been considered negligent.”

It’s definitely worth a read to get the full story.

Meanwhile, LAist quotes several angry tweets from very pissed-off cyclists. Including yours truly.

 

 

Morning Links: New e-book from bike writer Rick Risemberg, conviction in Phillip Richards hit-and-run case

Our-Own-Day-HereWe have a lot to catch up on after this weekend’s breaking news, starting with a new e-book from one of LA’s leading bike writers.

If you’ve been following this site for awhile, you’ll know that we link to pieces written by my friend Richard Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation on almost a daily basis, whether on his own site, or as a guest writer for Flying Pigeon and Orange 20 Bikes.

Now he’s collected some of his best essays for the new volume, Our Own Day Here.

While many of the chapters focus on bicycling, the tome goes beyond bikes to examine “how the way we travel, live, and shop shape our lives and our souls, and reveals the richness of experience he finds in city living.”

Among the subjects covered in these sometimes poetic, sometime humorous essays are cars, transit and bicycling, economics and politics, development, as well as the sense of place and the places that make it happen.

As he notes, some of the pieces have appeared on various websites, as well as in the pages of local and national publications, while others have never seen print or pixels before.

I haven’t had a chance to read it myself yet, though I hope to offer at least a partial review soon.

But knowing Rick, and the insightful quality of his writing, I’d highly recommend giving it a read. Especially at the low download price of just $4.99 — with a 10% discount through Smashwords with the code BU84L through the end of August.

It’s also available through Apple’s iTunes Store, and for Kindle through Amazon.

So what are you waiting for, already?

………

The driver charged with killing popular Beaumont cyclist Phillip Richards has been found guilty on charges stemming from the fatal hit-and-run.

Jurors convicted William Donald Johnson of both gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence and hit-and-run causing injury, with enhancements for leaving the scene of a collision and causing great bodily injury.

However, the jurors split on an additional murder charge; the Riverside County DA is unsure if he will be retried on that charge. He will be sentenced October 3rd; no word yet on how much time he faces.

Johnson’s wife Kari had previously pled guilty to aiding in Johnson’s escape in the hit-and-run, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation.

………

Tragically, the bike rider most seriously injured in that wrong-way collision on San Diego’s Fiesta Island that sent eight cyclists to the hospital is paralyzed from the chest down as a result.

Meanwhile, the driver responsible pled not guilty to felony DUI with injury and possession of a controlled substance after meth was found hidden in a very private place.

………

That other notable cyclist from my hometown sets out today to win his second USA Pro Challenge, while Jens Voigt says this will be his last pro tour after 33 years.

Caught on video: A nasty crash in the Eneco Tour takes out Italian cyclist Eugenio Alafaci, as well as the cameraman filming it.

And former world champ Mario Cipollini is hospitalized after a car turns in front of him on a training ride.

………

Local

CityMetric looks at a tale of two bike lanes on North and South Figueroa.

A virtually unrecognizable Kesha goes for a bike ride on Venice Beach.

LAist offers photos from the opening of the Levi’s Commuter pop-up in DTLA.

Now you, too, can slug your java from an Every Lane is a Bike Lane mug.

Streetsblog and Santa Monica Next will host a forum for SaMo city council candidates next month.

The San Gabriel City Council holds a special session on Tuesday (pdf) to discuss the city’s proposed bike plan.

 

State

A Desert Hot Springs man is under arrest after police found him riding with bolt cutters on a stolen bike. And it wasn’t even the one he was seen stealing on surveillance video.

Sad news, as the San Francisco bike rider seriously injured in a collision with a fleeing car thief last month was taken off life support on Saturday.

After his custom-made bike is stolen, Redding residents pitch in to help a developmentally disabled man build a new one.

 

National

Our slow cycling, casually dressed president goes for a family bike ride on Martha’s Vineyard.

An OpEd writer for the New York Times reminisces on her life on two wheels, while a writer for Crain’s New York, who lost his own son in a bicycling collision seven years ago, explains the city’s new Vision Zero policy.

The New York Post applauds the NYPD’s crackdown on cyclists who “terrorize pedestrians and endanger life and limb,” and calls on the city to make it permanent. On the other hand, they seem to be fine with the lawbreaking drivers who kill a hell of a lot more people than cyclists ever could.

Caught on video: Continuing today’s New York theme, an NYPD officer is caught leaning in to deliberately block a bike lane, evidently just for the hell of it.

Finally leaving Gotham, a Maryland cyclist pens a powerful open letter to the hit-and-run driver who cracked his ribs and ran his bike over.

 

International

CNN lists the world’s best cycling cities; only one US city is on the list. And no, it ain’t LA.

A Montreal office building cuts a cyclist’s lock and impounds her bike, even though it was parked on public property; if they have such a problem with parked bikes, maybe they should put in a decent bike rack.

Britain’s Top Gear host calls for separated bike lanes and greater tolerance on the roads.

Turns out cyclists are human beings, too. Who could have imagined?

At least they’re showing an even hand, as Aussie police target scofflaw cyclists and the law-breaking drivers who pose the greatest risk to them and others.

 

Finally…

Breckenridge CO hosts a replica of the Eiffel Tower made entirely of bike parts. And Ford learns the hard way that using a convicted bike doper probably isn’t the best way to market their cars.

 

Morning Links: Possible Olin cover-up, USC students launch Nutlock, and the other cyclist from my hometown

The LA Times updates the lack of action in the Milt Olin case, killed by an LA County Sheriff’s Deputy while riding on Mulholland Highway last December.

The story offers one bit of new information, reporting that an initial examination of the driver’s cell phone showed no activity at the time of the crash, while phone records later showed he had texted six times in the minutes leading up to it.

Which suggests that the texts may have been erased from the phone in an attempt to cover it up — or that someone may have ignored evidence on the phone pointing to his guilt.

Meanwhile, Salon is the first national news source to pick up the story, noting that texting while driving is illegal in California. But they fail to note the exemption for on-duty emergency workers, which could explain why the DA’s office can’t seem to find anything to charge him with.

This one was forwarded from multiple sources, so thanks to everyone who sent it for the heads-up; thanks to Hwy 39 for the Salon link.

……..

USC students unveil an innovative new wheel lock to help prevent wheel theft and eliminate the need to lock them in addition to the frame. Security is enhanced by plans to create multiple key designs to prevent thieves from simply buying a set to unlock the wheels.

After just two days, their Kickstarter campaign has already raised over $10,000 towards the $15,000 goal. A pledge of just $25 dollars will get you a pair of Nutlocks of your very own.

……..

The other famous cyclist from my hometown, Teejay van Garderen, will defend his USA Pro Challenge title later this month. Former next big thing pro cyclist Joe Dombrowski has vascular surgery to try and get his leg strength back.

And Peter Sagan may not be headed to Tinkoff-Saxo after all. Update: Yes, he is.

……..

Local

The LACBC invites you to attend Hot August Bikes at Hollywood’s Amoeba Records on Sunday, the 17th.

London Bridge may not be falling down, but the Riverside Figueroa Bridge is. Or being dismantled, anyway.

No irony here, as Beverly Hills promotes heart health while fighting bike lanes and discouraging bike riding in the city.

Santa Monica gets $4.4 million to improves streets and implement their Bike Action Plan.

Proposed Glendale Green Streets could include bike lanes. And a smart OpEd in the Glendale News-Press patiently explains why motorists are a bigger danger than cyclists.

 

State

Measuring traffic flow by automotive throughput — aka Level of Service — is now officially a thing of the past in California.

BikeSD makes a public call for the resignation of the chair of the city’s Uptown Planners group.

A 73-year old San Diego cyclist suffers major head trauma in a head-on collision with another rider.

Mobile bike repair service comes to San Diego.

BART hopes new signs will keep bike riders from breaking the rules.

 

National

The problem with Share the Road campaigns.

If you want to get cyclists off the sidewalk, build bike lanes.

Wearing headphones when you ride may not be smart, but it’s safer than driving with the windows rolled up.

East Texas cyclists start a safety campaign reminding drivers that bike riders are people, too.

A reminder that a new bike path isn’t any good if it’s not maintained, like this one in New Jersey.

A former American Gladiator allegedly flattens a pedestrian while riding in New York’s Central Park.

To protect and serve (pizza). Baltimore bike cops go above and beyond by delivering pizza to a seriously injured cyclist after she’s released from the hospital; link via Bicycling magazine.

The Baltimore airport opens a 12.5 mile bike path, complete with bike share to entertain waiting passengers and employees.

Kill a bike rider in Florida, and lose your license for a whopping six months.

 

International

A Vancouver motorist drives down a protected bike lane, then right crosses a cyclist after leaving it.

Evidently, a unanimous vote of Toronto’s city council doesn’t mean any more than it does here, as they voted for a separated bike lane that never gets built. Sort of like bike lanes on Lankershim, Westwood and North Figueroa.

A London grocery truck gets outfitted with 360-degree cameras in an effort to protect bike riders.

Caught on video: A London bike rider captures a first-person view of a cut-off collision; fortunately, he survived the brutal impact.

Lovely Bicycle meditates on a ghost bike for a 16-year old Irish rider.

A new Chinese bike helmet promises to be a combination turn signal and mood ring for your head.

 

Finally…

After a six-year old Portland girl posts a sign shaming the thieves that stole her dad’s bikes, the publicity helps get them back. After repeatedly giving a Texas man with Asperger’s Syndrome a ride to work, local police pitch in to buy him a bicycle; now that’s class.

And Austrian police tell a naked bike rider to put her damn clothes on, already.

 

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