Archive for Legal Cases

Juries, Judges and Your Bike Crash

Bikes Have Rights™
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP 

Jury box

This may well be the most controversial blog post I’ll ever write. It’s likely that many of you are going to hate reading this. Some of you will tell me that what I say here isn’t fair and that I’m blaming the victim.

Be assured, I’ve represented many bicycle riders in bike crashes and I know as well or better than anyone how the system is stacked against them. As to fairness, well, it isn’t fair that I don’t have the same head of hair that I had as a younger man either, but that’s the way it is.

What I’m going to tell you is the hard truth. It’s not fair, but it IS an undeniable, regrettable fact: many people have strong, negative feelings about cyclists. If you are in a bike crash and it goes to trial, the judge and/or jurors will probably not be cyclists.

Though the people on your jury and the judge presiding over your trial have probably encountered hundreds – if not thousands – of law-abiding bicyclists, those aren’t who they remember. They remember the helmetless cyclist who cut them off or rode through a red light and saluted them with a middle finger as they blew by. It’s always that “one” ne’er-do-well who people remember.

The U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmark Report, commissioned by People for Bikes, reported that though the number of Americans ages 3+ who rode a bicycle last year is larger than had been previously thought, 30% of these cyclists rode 5 days or fewer in 2014.

The chance of getting a cyclist on your jury or a judge is probably even worse when you add the number of seniors who willingly sit on juries. (Think of that the next time you attempt to get out of jury duty or complain about being called for jury duty.)

The result is that the judge and jurors, more than likely, are going to be people who are biased against cyclists. When I am questioning potential jurors in a bicycle case, some of the most common comments I get from people are:

  • Bike riders ride recklessly, not stopping at red lights or stop signs.
  • Bike riders should ride on the sidewalk and stay out of traffic.
  • Bike riders ride too fast on the sidewalk.
  • Bike riders ride in car lanes, sometimes side-by-side or as a group, which interferes with traffic.
  • Roads are for cars, not bikes.

You know all this. If these things have never been said to your face, you’ve read them in comments on articles and posts on social media.

These are the people who are going to decide your legal case. Their inclination is going to be to blame YOU – the cyclist – for your own “accident.” Furthermore, insurance adjustors and defense attorneys know this, and they are going to cater to this bias.

It would be nice if more people understood the rules of the road. “Fair” doesn’t enter into the equation. In a trial, we have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt, and in most bike crash trials, it’s contending with the prejudice against our cyclist client.

To be successful in trial it is critical for your trial lawyer to understand how people perceive you. As a trial lawyer, I have numerous strategies I utilize to attempt either to overcome this bias or to focus the jurors on the person the cyclist is, not his/her activity. I want the juror to see the cyclist as a person who has more in common with the jurors than s/he has different. An experienced trial lawyer utilizes specific strategies in every part of the trial, from jury selection at the beginning of the trial to how jury instructions are crafted near the end of the trial, and everything in-between.

I believe we can change these preconceptions, but it isn’t easy, and it isn’t going to happen tomorrow, next month, or even next year.

As a cyclist – whether you ride for recreation or as a commuter – you can be part of the solution. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Join the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and your local bicycle advocacy organization. Even better, get involved. These people are on the frontline of change. At the very least, sign up for the LACBC’s e-newsletter (no membership required) and join these advocacy organizations’ Facebook pages. (And in a shameful plug, “friend” the FB Pocrass & De Los Reyes Bicycle Law page, too.)
  1. I suggested above that you join your local advocacy organization. Many of these are chapters of LACBC, all of them work together. Almost all cities have such organizations, including Claremont, Pomona, the Eastside, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Santa Clarita, and many more.
  1. Join the California Bicycle Coalition, our state-wide organization that is instrumental in lobbying for biking conditions and laws for California cyclists.
  1. Get involved with SAFE (Streets are for Everyone). The nonprofit advocates for changes in the law to make streets safe for bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, and everyone else.
  1. Know and follow the Rules of the Road. The LACBC has a wonderful wallet-sized brochure that explains what these are. They are available at every event attended by the LACBC. The organization also is offering FREE bicycle safety classes through the end of September throughout the Southland. Don’t be that one cyclist who will be burned into the brain of those who come in contact with him/her for his/her bad behavior.
  1. Cyclists over the age of 18 are not required by law to wear a helmet when they ride. We strongly urge you to wear one, regardless of your age. The obvious reason for wearing a helmet is that it very likely increases your chances of surviving or limiting brain injury should you crash. A less obvious reason is that not wearing one adds to the jurors’ and judge’s biases that you SHOULD HAVE BEEN wearing a helmet and if you had been wearing one, it would have protected you so your injuries “are your own fault.” (Don’t kill the messenger, please. I said I was going to talk reality here.)
  1. Think before you post on social media. Specifically, insurance companies and defense attorneys troll your social media accounts to see what can be used against you. What you write on social media will come back if you’re ever a plaintiff in a jury trial. Generally, furious posts filled with expletives (I understand the urge, believe me), reinforce non-cyclists’ attitudes about the “arrogance” of cyclists.
  1. Educate the non-cyclists you know. Back up your arguments with facts and statistics. Try to be calm and rational in the discussion, but the one-on-one discussions are the best way to change perceptions. Remember, no one goes out to kill someone with their car (okay, almost no one), but most drivers are angry because they’re scared. No one taught them how to share the road. No one taught them how to drive sharing the road with a cyclist. You can say that’s not your problem, but the truth is, it’s everybody’s problem.

Often when I read bikinginla.com and see the slap on the wrist so many drivers get for hitting cyclists, I am frustrated by the slowness of the process to eliminate cyclist bias. But it’s coming, and by working together, I believe we can make it happen.


 

Jim Pocrass Trimmed

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

For more than 30 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com or visit www.pocrass.com.

 

 

Morning Links: Graphic testimony in the case of a fallen PCH cyclist; riding the Reseda protected bike lanes

It’s been just over a year since John Greg Colvin was killed when his bike was rear-ended while riding on PCH in Laguna Beach.

Last week, a preliminary hearing was held for the driver, Dylan Rand-Luby, on charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run for driving over a mile from the scene before stopping, despite a windshield too shattered to even see through.

A source, who prefers to remain anonymous, reports on the hearing from inside the courtroom.

Warning — some of the information presented in the hearing was very graphic. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you may want to skip to the next section.

Dylan Thomas Rand-Luby’s preliminary hearing was Tuesday morning, and surprisingly, the word “texting” never came up. The word “objection,” on the other hand, popped up a couple dozen times like a poorly written comedy.

A witness in a vehicle traveling behind Rand-Luby’s Prius in the #2 lane had just moved over into the #1 lane to pass him. When the witness glanced at his rear-view mirror, he saw a bicyclist’s body going onto the hood of the Prius, and then up and over. Despite the shock, the witness immediately scanned the roadway to see where he could pull over. He was unable to move into the #2 lane, because Rand-Luby was accelerating. Alarmed, the witness told his confused wife to call 911 (she hadn’t seen the actual collision, and as you might imagine, had to be told several times why to call 911.) Meanwhile, Rand-Luby had rolled down his driver’s side window in order to see the road. He was clearly terrified, and yelled, “I have to pull over!” But he didn’t pull over until he reached the El Morro School parking lot, over a mile down the road; the distance surprised the witness, who followed him into the parking lot. Rand-Luby was crying, trembling and covered in shards of glass as he stepped out of his car and approached the witness, who hugged him and told him that 911 was already on the way to help.

Another witness had been in the #2 lane when Rand-Luby came up behind her. His tailgating led her to believe he was distracted, and she was so nervous that she sped up to create distance. In her rearview, she saw the Prius drift to the right, hit the cyclist, then swerve to the left and accelerate. She had merged into the #1 lane, and upon observing the shattered windshield as the Prius passed her in the #2 lane, she grabbed her cell phone to call 911.

A young Department of Fish & Wildlife officer in a marked DFW vehicle was traveling northbound in the #2 lane and hit the brakes upon approach to the scene. He immediately parked in the lane, activated his emergency lights, and ran to the victim. Bike parts and clothing were strewn on the shoulder. A woman at the scene identified herself to him as a nurse, and as the DFW officer had no advanced first aid training, he allowed the nurse to provide care, and returned to his vehicle to contact dispatch.

Within minutes, LBPD was on the scene. The first arriving officer observed the road shoulder littered with bike debris, and two Good Samaritans, one in scrubs, attending to the victim, who was bleeding about the face, head and arm. One swollen arm indicated a fracture. The officer attempted to initiate chest compressions, but the victim’s ribcage was no longer intact. The officer identified Mr. Colvin by his Road ID.

The lead investigator, who testified, is a cyclist himself. When the defense pressed him about his qualifications to assess whether the friction mark left by Colvin’s rear tire was actually created by a bicycle, he first mentioned his familiarity with bicycles, and road bikes especially, and then listed his pertinent professional training as an investigator.

The defense suggested, without much success, that perhaps the victim had been riding to the left of the solid white line that delineates the shoulder. Don’t know what she was getting at there?… She, and the paid criminal investigator, made a big deal about the overgrown shrubbery encroaching a little bit into the right side of the shoulder. It can’t be helpful for the defense to insinuate that the victim may have been lawfully riding in the #2 lane, and would therefore have been even more visible to a motorist approaching from behind. But there you go, excellent strategy. The defense’s own investigator also made a big deal about the thirteen “NO PARKING ANY TIME” signs between the point of impact & the school parking lot, suggesting that Rand-Luby did, in fact, pull over at the first lawful opportunity. Naturally the defense skipped over the part about Rand-Luby’s inability to actually see these signs.

In sending the case to trial, the judge cited separate witnesses who corroborated Rand-Luby’s sudden acceleration immediately upon hitting the victim, and she agreed with the prosecutor that operating a motor vehicle with a completely opaque windshield for over a mile on a highway with a 50mph speed limit is certainly an aggravating circumstance. The judge also denied the defense’s request to reduce the hit and run charge to misdemeanor.

Rand-Luby, who was just 19 at the time of the collision, faces up to four years in prison if he’s convicted.

………

It’s not always easy to get from one part of this vast city to another, especially on two wheels.

Which means most LA riders haven’t had a chance to try out the new protected bike lanes on Reseda Blvd. Or even know they exist, for that matter.

Reader danger d makes up for that with a video tour of the full length of the northbound lane, including a lingering look at the sidewalk treatments and outdoor furniture that make up the city’s first Great Street.

………

Way too much news to wrap up the Tour de France, which ended Sunday at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Élysées.

After weathering three weeks of doubt and abuse, not to mention comparisons to He Who Must Not Be Named, Chris Froome rolled into Paris as the winner of the Tour de France; maybe he should have crossed the finish line in a yellow polka dot jersey. He also explains why he keeps his head down when he rides. But that doesn’t explain his awkward elbows-out cycling form.

The BBC asks where Froome ranks in the pantheon of British bike racing. Peter Sagan wins his fourth green jersey in a row as the Tour’s best sprinter, while Alberto Contador has no regrets after failing to win a rare Giro – Tour double.

Here are the full standings in every category at the end of the race, which ended with a bang — and a shooting.

Bicycling talks to the man behind the spectacular artworks carved into farm fields at the Tour. The Wall Street Journal offers video of the crazed fans atop the Alpe D’Huez, while Cycling Weekly offers a GoPro view from inside the peloton.

And a writer for Forbes explains how pro cycling’s 6.8 kilo rule leads to more innovation.

Meanwhile, Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen wins the rain-soaked women’s La Course preceding the final stage of the Tour. A racer looks at the misconceptions that have kept women from having more than a token race before the finish of the Tour de France. But while progress has been made, women’s racing still has a long way to go.

………

Local

KPCC looks at bike commuting in the City of Angels, while NPR rides with LA’s Carlos Morales and the Eastside Bike Club.

Rick Risemberg says when it comes to city councilmembers blocking bike lanes, just sue ‘em. Couldn’t agree more. Any lawyers out there want to volunteer?

CiclaValley rides the LA area’s equivalent of Alp d’Huez.

Glendale votes to build parks and extend the bike path along the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk.

 

State

Ride too far on San Diego’s Mission Trails, and you could be cuffed and busted by armed Marines, and your bike seized as evidence.

The owner of a bike rental shop in San Diego’s Pacific Beach complains about the city’s bikeshare program competing with his business. Even though bikeshare is intended for short-term rentals, and could bring more customers to his shop.

San Carlos-based Beeline Bikes receives financing to take their mobile bike repair shops nationwide.

The library bike movement spreads to San Francisco.

Bicycles and riders of every description flock to Oakland’s Jack London Square for the city’s Pedalfest.

A Bay Area hit-and-run driver tries to cover-up the crime after hitting a cyclist. Literally.

The managing editor of the Stockton paper calls for peace and consideration on the streets after getting an unwanted shower while riding. And is just glad it was Gatorade instead of something else.

Sacramento police discover most bike thieves are habitual criminals. Which really shouldn’t shock anyone.

 

National

Bicycling offers advice on how to buy a saddle, while Treehugger asks if we really need all those gadgets on our bikes. Surprisingly, most bikes still function even without Strava and GPS.

Plans are underway to encircle Detroit with a 26-mile bike and pedestrian path, although an 8.3 mile gap still needs to be plugged.

Who says cyclists aren’t tough? A New Mexico mountain biker drove himself to the hospital after being impaled through the neck with a tree branch.

A Texas woman calls for locks on bus bike racks after her bicycle was stolen. Suggested solutions range from locks where the key stays in the lock until used, to a solenoid controlled by the driver.

Chicago is transforming a roadway into a three-block long shared street accommodating bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic.

After a Pittsburgh-area woman accuses a road raging driver of pushing her off her bike, he claims they were the ones harassing him and she just fell off her bike as he ran screaming towards her. Sure, let’s go with that.

Bikeyface has lane envy.

 

International

Winnipeg’s anti-bike councilors aren’t giving up, despite the city’s adoption of an aggressive bike and pedestrian plan.

A Brit pedalcab operator says he was justified in charging a pair of tourists the equivalent of $320 for a one-mile trip because he was riding uphill. Most of the peloton didn’t make that much per mile riding up Alp d’Huez.

A Welsh hotel is going out of its way to make bike tourists feel at home.

After a similar video appeared online last month showing a Brit cyclist being pushed off his bike from a moving car, some Irish jerks film themselves pushing over a bike rider as they drive by. Seriously, there’s not a jail cell dark enough or a pit in hell deep enough for people like that.

Over 150 cyclists will race across India in six-member teams to promote amateur cycling.

An Aussie writer questions whether bicycling is really in decline in the county.

 

Finally…

If you’re wanted on an outstanding warrant and carrying drug paraphernalia on your bike, stop for the damn stop sign, already.

A YouTube video looks at the tragic plight of the bicyclists’ nearest living relative, the endangered North American biped.

And in a must watch video, a bike-riding Aussie TV host makes some strong points with tongue planted firmly in cheek, telling drivers “don’t be a wanker.” Update: As mwandaw points out below, this video is no longer online. Let’s hope it comes back soon.

Seriously, this could be the best five minutes of your day.

 

Morning Links: Killer OC hit-and-run driver jailed, Westwood Blvd bike lanes threatened, and Beverly Hills lanes fail

Justice came too late for another fallen OC rider on Thursday.

Forty-four year old Daniella Palacios was riding in Anaheim last November when she was hit by a truck driven by Junior Rigoberto Lopez. Lopez fled the scene, leaving the mother of eight to die in an Orange County Hospital.

He tried to hide the damage by fleeing to Mexico, where he had the truck repaired before returning to the US six weeks later.

It didn’t work; he was arrested after police examined the truck and discovered the repair work.

Lopez was sentenced to three years.

With credit for time served, he should be out in less than two. Probably far less.

In fact, he’s already eligible for parole.

But to the judge’s credit, parole was denied; according to the according to KNBC-4, the judge called Lopez’ actions “outrageous and nearly unforgivable.”

What do you mean, nearly?

Junior Lopez sentence

Thanks to Ed Rubenstein and an anonymous source for the heads-up.

………

Both the LA Times and KPCC look at the needless controversy over bike lanes proposed for Westwood Blvd, which have so far been halted by councilmember Paul Koretz at the demand wealthy homeowners.

The homeowners cite safety concerns, fearing for the poor riders who could face harm from increased bus traffic, despite having their own lane which would keep them out of the way of buses. Unlike now, when riders are forced to share the same congested lanes with them.

Why is it that people who oppose improving safety for bike riders always seem to stress how concerned they are about the safety of bicyclists, while doing absolutely nothing about it?

And seriously, don’t read the comments to either of those pieces unless you want to lose all hope for the future of humanity.

………

Speaking of needless battles, the fight over re-opening long-closed Mt. Hollywood Drive to motor vehicles at the resumes tonight at the meeting of the Griffith Park Advisory Board.

Homeowners in the wealthy Beachwood Canyon neighborhood, who evidently didn’t notice the Hollywood Sign when they moved in, are trying to turn their community into a virtual private enclave to keep tourists from besmirching their streets in an attempt to get selfies in front of the sign.

And they want the park to open the popular biking and hiking street to cars so those tourists can have a much less attractive view of the sign, at the expense of everyone else who uses the park.

………

Yet another failure of rationality in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills, as Better Bike’s Mark Elliot reports the city council voted not to include bike lanes on the soon-to-be-revamped Santa Monica Blvd.

This despite the fact that space for bike lanes will be available on almost the entire length of the boulevard, and require the loss of just a few feet of parkland in just one short section. And despite the fact that state law now calls for Complete Streets that meet the needs of all users, not just motor vehicles or over-privileged residents.

I’m old enough to remember a time when some towns still had signs warning minorities not to let the sun set on them inside the city limits.

That’s the same feeling I get from Beverly Hills.

They send a clear message that bikes, and their riders, are not welcome there, and they will do whatever it takes to run us out of town.

Although some of their elected leaders get it. Just not enough to make a difference.

Not surprising, Elliot also reports the city fails to address the safety of bicyclists in construction projects on the boulevard.

………

Albertor Contador insists the Tour de France is not over, despite Chris Froome’s overwhelming dominance.

One rider who won’t be challenging Froome is Teejay van Garderen, who was forced to abandon the race due to illness after struggling in Wednesday’s stage; he says he just wants to disappear after dropping out while still in third place.

Despite doping controversies, viewership of the Tour de France is up except in France; America’s only remaining TdF champ gets a warm embrace after returning to the race as a broadcaster.

The owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo team calls for a revolution in pro cycling.

Good news for Ivan Basso, whose successful surgery for testicular cancer means no further treatment is necessary.

And a Singapore cyclist competing in the South East Asian Games is under investigation for repeatedly slapping a teammate on a training ride.

………

Local

Streetsblog looks at multiple motions regarding bikeshare at today’s Metro meeting; Santa Monica’s system is scheduled for a limited opening in August, while Long Beach should open next year.

The East Side Riders fulfill a longtime dream by opening a bike co-op in Watts.

The LAPD is on the lookout for a pair of Brentwood bike thieves caught on camera stealing a bike from inside a building.

Bike LA’s battle with Hollywood over green bike lanes goes on… and on… as LA’s newly installed chief film liaison is working to find a compromise shade of green that will allow the city to finally put some paint on the streets; the city caved to filmmakers demands and stripped the paint off LA’s first green lane on Spring Street in DTLA.

 

State

Apparently having nothing better to do, the state legislature passes a bill requiring bike riders to pull over on narrow roads when five or more vehicles are following behind and unable to pass. Even though current law, which already applies to cyclists, already says exactly that.

BikeSD reports on a new study that concludes the cost of driving a car is six times the cost of riding a bike.

The next time someone says police never ticket bike riders, show them this: San Bernardino police ticketed 12 bicyclists and 31 pedestrians as part of a safety sting; not surprisingly, motorists still lead the way with 57 violations.

The weeklong Big Bear Cycling Festival kicks off this Saturday.

Sixty kids in Mecca — no, not the one in Saudi Arabia — get refurbished bikes, locks and helmets courtesy of a local transit agency.

A pair of East Palo Alto brothers, one on a bike and the other on a skateboard, help subdue a man accused of attacking an 89-year old priest.

San Francisco settles with a father who was choked by police for riding a bike with his 10-month old son in a baby carrier, but without a baby helmet. No, really.

Alameda cyclists will ride Sunday to remember a popular bike shop owner who lost his battle with cancer earlier this month.

The idiotic Orinda bike lane that places riders in the path of high speed traffic entering a freeway on double onramps is due for a safety makeover; the city’s chief engineer admits the current design is “not ideal.” A little green paint is not going to solve the problem, or encourage riders to risk their lives there.

The death of a bike rider in St. Helena last May is blamed on alcohol, even though the victim’s rental fixie had a substandard brake; the Ohio woman, who was celebrating her first anniversary, had a BAC of .18 when she rode into the side of a slow moving truck.

 

National

Outside Magazine sums up the HBO Real Sports look at the state of bicycling in the US, for those without premium cable.

AT&T offers their latest public service ad showing the devastating consequences of texting while driving.

Portland advocates say an increase in reported bike thefts means more people are trying to get them back instead of just giving up.

An Arizona driver gets nine years for killing a cyclist while high on synthetic marijuana; the victim’s friends complain the sentence wasn’t stiff enough. California cyclists are just happy to see DUI drivers get any jail time.

Colorado cyclists call a bizarrely designed bike lane a death trap. This is what happens when people who apparently don’t ride bikes design bicycling infrastructure.

Note to business owners fighting bike lanes — you’re shooting yourself in the foot. When Denver installed bike lanes on a pair of streets downtown, retail sales skyrocketed.

The Slow Roll movement spreads to Minneapolis, encouraging leisurely rides through neighborhoods where bicycling is less popular. Which is their overly polite way of saying lower-income and minority areas.

Vermont police somehow conclude a bike rider made an abrupt U-turn just to collide head-on with the wife of a cop, who was found not at fault even though she was driving drunk while high on Xanax.

A 560-pound man is riding across the country to lose weight; he’ll be getting a new donated bike after he was stranded in Rhode Island when his broke.

A bike rider is a hero after grabbing a woman’s ankle to keep her from jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge. But bikes are the problem, right?

A seven-month pregnant woman was stabbed in the shoulder while riding her bike home from work in DC.

An Atlanta man wasn’t even safe from a hit-and-run driver while walking his bike on the damn sidewalk.

 

International

The family of a fallen Saskatchewan bike rider call her death senseless after her bike was clipped by a passing delivery truck. Actually, all traffic deaths are senseless; it’s long past time we stopped tolerating them.

Instead of fixing a dangerous railroad crossing, British authorities urge cyclists to be careful when riding near it.

More Brit women are taking up bicycling despite safety fears. Evidently, it’s okay to kill a cyclist there due to a momentary lapse in concentration.

Irish police are accused of misleading cyclists into thinking riders without helmets and hi-viz are subject to on-the-spot fines.

A Turkish adventurer has ridden through 19 countries on his bike, as well as a failed attempt to ride to the North Pole; however, authorities wouldn’t let him pedal up Mt. Everest.

 

Finally…

A Michigan SUV driver somehow couldn’t avoid hitting a cyclist, or an elementary school. Drivers parking in a bike lane is one thing; placing a permanent bus stop in one is another.

And if you’re going to threaten to permanently injure the person who stole your bike, it helps if you spell it right.

………

Thanks to everyone who expressed concern about the Corgi.

Three days, two vet visits and several hundred dollars later, we learned that she has Giardia, most likely as a result of all the irresponsible dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets around here.

The good news is, she should be back to her feisty self in a week or so.

Sienna-Foot-Back

Morning Links: Suit filed in death of Granada Hills teenager; Biking Black Hole considers SaMo Blvd bike lanes

That was to be expected.

The father of Philomene Ragni, the 17-year old bike rider killed when he was hit by a DWP truck in Granada Hills earlier this year, has filed suit against DWP and the driver of the truck.

The suit states that Ragni had the right-of-way and was riding with due care when he was struck due to the careless actions of the driver; it also alleges the driver was traveling at an unsafe speed and was in violation of several DWP policies.

Of course, lawsuits, by their nature, paint the actions of their client in the best possible light. And the ones being sued in the worst.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

……..

Don’t forget the proposal for the much-needed bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills comes up before the city council one more time today.

And this time, perhaps for the first time, it might actually have a chance.

So if you can’t there, email the councilmembers at the link above to voice your support.

……..

Spain’s Rubén Plaza wins Monday’s stage 16 of the Tour de France as part of a 23-man breakaway; once again, Peter Sagan finishes second after a blazing descent. Today is a rest day.

Team Sky plans to release part of Chris Froome’s performance data to put to rest rumors of doping.

Wicked crash in Monday’s stage as Geraint Thomas gets bumped, misses a turn and crashes into a telephone pole before falling into a ditch. The rider who bumped him, Warren Barguil, blames Teejay van Garderen for knocking him off his line; naturally, Teejay disagrees.

Bicycling explains how TdF riders show up on a yellow bike the day after winning the yellow jersey. Doesn’t look like that’s likely to be a concern for the remainder of this one.

Interesting post on a physics website, as a writer wonders if Lance Armstrong has actually had a net positive effect on bicycling and society, and just how to measure that.

………

Local

Metro board directors Mike Bonin and Shiela Kuehl call on the agency to speed up the glacial implementation of LA’s long awaited bikeshare program. At this rate, it won’t get to Hollywood until I’m too old and feeble to use it.

The LACBC’s Tamika Butler will participate in a webinar on Active Transportation and Equity at 10 this morning. Thanks to LA Streetsblog for the link.

The LACBC’s Valley Bike Ambassadors meeting will be held tonight. Along with the LACBC’s local chapters, the Neighborhood Bike Ambassador program is one of the best ways to get involved with bike advocacy and volunteer work in your own community.

CiclaValley offers their weekly update.

Bike SGV hosts a bike train and barbeque this Sunday.

 

State

Better Bike offers a detailed manual on how to read the results from California’s SWITRS collision database.

Calbike invites you on scenic 265-mile fundraising ride from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

An 11-year old Irvine girl appears to be okay despite getting hit by an SUV while riding her bike to summer school.

More private bikeshare in Orange County, as the Irvine Company teams up with Zagster to offer 60 bikes for residents and commercial tenants to use free of charge. That hardly seems enough for 9,000 potential users, though.

Santa Barbara companies are discovering that bikes are good for business. Funny how LA businesses didn’t seem to get the memo.

A San Francisco writer looks at the newly bike-friendly Caltrans, but says the agency still has a long way to go to put its auto-centric past behind it.

Bike thefts are up in Palo Alto. And pretty much everywhere else, as well. So be careful out there.

 

National

Another new study from the University of Duh shows that people who walk or bike to work have a lower body mass index; living in compact cities doesn’t seem to encourage more active commutes, though.

Largely unnoticed last week was Senate approval of a clause allowing parents to decide when their kids are old enough to walk or bike to school. Although the Popsugar website jumped the gun a tad since it still needs to be reconciled, and signed by the president.

People for Bikes is looking for a new Marketing and Communications Manager in their Boulder CO office.

A prominent Albuquerque homebuilder was killed by an alleged drunk driver while riding his bike in a gated community. The driver, who police describe as a low-life drunk and despicable guy, was released on $100,000 bail. I wonder if the police would be as pissed off if it was just anyone on a bike.

Bad enough to drive drunk. Worse to rear end a pair of cyclists while doing it — especially if they’re North Dakota bike cops making a traffic stop. Fortunately, the officers are okay.

A couple on a tandem taking part in Iowa’s RAGBRAI ride were injured when a drunk driver ignored a cop’s instructions and drove through an intersection.

A Texas woman overcomes melanoma to set a masters world record in the 2K pursuit.

A writer for the Boston Globe says non-compete clauses are the wrong move for boutique bike builders, where one bike maker can spawn another.

Don’t try this at home. A 14-year old Massachusetts girl was texting while riding down a steep hill, blowing through a stop sign and turning into the path of an oncoming car. Seriously. Put the damn phone down and pay attention to the road in front of you.

New York’s environmental commissioner leaves office after biking across the state. Although it would have been better if he’d done it upon entering the office. 

A New York cyclist was dragged off his bike and beaten in an alleged hate crime; the Hispanic rider was attacked by two white men who called him a “fucking immigrant” and said he didn’t belong in this country. Doesn’t sound very “alleged” to me.

New Charleston bike lanes are delayed until next year; they’ll be part of a planned 140-mile citywide bikeway system.

Cyclists in New Orleans plan a die-in at Thursday’s city council meeting to protest too many bicycling deaths in the city.

 

International

Laguna Beach mountain bike champ Hans Rey goes biking at 10,000 feet through the Guatemalan Highlands; his Wheels 4 Life organization has donated 7,100 bikes to school kids in 200 developing countries.

Winnipeg drivers can’t seem to get the hang of a new bike lane; the story blames parking next to the bike lane for forcing drivers into it. Or they could, you know, just stay the hell out of it.

Nice. A UK man not only finds a stolen bike abandoned in a park, but fixes it and adds a kickstand before returning it to its owner.

Pashley and Brompton owners can take some credit, as sales and production of British bikes jump 70% in a single year. I still think Pashley should send me a Guv’nor to try out on a semi-permanent loan, right?

Stockholm is taking ciclovía a step further by turning the entire city center over to people, not cars, for a day.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: You seriously may not want to see this, as a Cuban track cyclist competing in the Pan Am Games gets one of the worst splinters in human history. When you’re already wanted on a $25,000 outstanding warrant, don’t ride salmon — and don’t get in a wreck.

And a father in the UK jumped from his van and beat the boy he said stole his son’s bike with a hammer — only to apologize after realizing it wasn’t even the same bike.

No, seriously.

……..

Thanks to John Hall for his generous donation to support this site. Contributions of any amount are deeply appreciated.

Gardena police video released in shooting of unarmed man looking for his brother’s stolen bike

As expected, a judge has ordered the release of a video showing the Gardena police fatally shooting the unarmed brother of a bike theft victim.

Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino was trying to tell the officers that the men they had detained weren’t bike thieves, but friends who were helping to look for the bike.

But instead of releasing them, the cops opened fire when he took of his hat and lowered his hands, shooting Diaz-Zeferino eight times, and injuring one of his companions, who had his hands in the air the whole time.

Even though Diaz-Zeferino was unarmed, and as the video shows, made no threatening moves towards the officers.

He was shot, apparently, because they thought he might possibly be armed, and they were too afraid to wait to see if he really had a gun before blowing him away.

And somehow, that’s okay with the DA and the Gardena police department; KNBC-4 reports the officers are still with the force and patrolling the streets.

Even though the city felt there it had enough liability to settle with the victims’ families to the tune of a $4.7 million, paid out of the taxpayer’s pockets.

That’s a lot of guilt if no one did a damn thing wrong.

The city fought the release of the video, claiming it could result in a “rush to judgment” about the officer’s behavior, according to KPCC.

Or it could just let the public see what really happened. And realize that what sounded like a bad shoot by trigger happy cops, was.

It used to be that any cop who shot an unarmed person could expect to lose his or her job, at the very least. I once knew an officer, in another state, who freely admitted carrying a spare gun and a knife to drop by the victim if he ever shot someone who wasn’t armed.

And it used to be that fellow officers wanted bad cops off the force, because they made everyone else look bad and made the public lose faith in the officers charged with protecting them.

In fact, that officer was eventually fired, at the urging of his fellow officers.

Clearly, those days have changed.

So be careful riding through Gardena.

In other cities, getting stopped by the police could get you a ticket you might not deserve, from a cop who doesn’t understand bike law.

In Gardena, it could get you shot.

But it won’t get anyone fired.

Update: I was reminded this morning that Gardena is also where a group of Hispanic riders were illegally harassed by the police two years ago, while on their way to meet with the city manager to discuss the unsolved hit-and-run bike rider Benjamin Torres.

………

Warning: The video below, posted online by the LA Times, shows the full shooting from two separate angles. Decide for yourself whether you really want to see that before pushing play.

20-year old OC driver faces 10 years for 2014 DUI death of Dana Point cyclist

Ten years.

That’s what a 20-year old driver is facing for the drunken collateral damage death of a cyclist in April of last year.

Thirty-nine-year old Haitham Gamal was riding south on PCH in Dana Point when Dominic Devin Carratt lost control of his car at high speed, drifting 200 feet through a bend in the road before slamming into Gamal’s bike.

Carratt’s car continued to drag him another 500 feet — nearly twice the length of a football field — before hitting a curb and flipping over. Gamal was pronounced dead at the scene, simply because he was in the way.

Carratt and his passenger were taken to a hospital with slight injuries, where he was found to have a blood alcohol level of .15.

Normally, that would be almost twice the legal limit. But as an under-aged driver, the legal limit in this case would be zero.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Carratt will be arraigned today on felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit causing bodily injury, along with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.

I’d call death great bodily injury, all right.

Unlike the LA County DA’s office, the OC DA tends to take cases like this seriously, and is more than willing to throw the book at killer drivers. And they seldom bargain away a case just to get a conviction.

That may be a product of a lighter case load, or more jail space to house convicted drivers.

Or maybe they just give a damn. And take traffic crime seriously.

Thanks to attorney and cyclist Ed Rubinstein for the heads-up.

 

Dominic-Carratt-arraignment

 

Morning Links: DUI driver in Palos Verdes rampage gets three years; scofflaw cyclists no worse than drivers

The Torrance man who went on a drunken rampage through the Palos Verdes Peninsula won’t be driving anywhere anytime soon.

William Thomas Kelly was sentenced to three years in jail Monday after pleading no contest to felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence causing injury.

Kelly had a BAC of .11 when he crashed into numerous cars, moving and otherwise, in September of 2013. Not to mention nearly hitting a pedestrian, and intentionally forcing a bicyclist off the road and into some bushes before repeatedly running over his bike.

According to the Daily Breeze, the rider, Doug Castile, was in the courtroom for the sentencing, hoping to see some sign of remorse from the man who tried to run him down. But didn’t get a single hit of it.

Maybe Kelly will finally show a little when he gets out in a few years

And hopefully, he’ll have to walk or bike anywhere he goes for the rest of his life.

……..

Interesting interview from Science Friday, as a professor from the University of Colorado Denver says despite perceptions, bike riders break the law at about the same rate as drivers do. But we do it for perceived safety reasons, rather than convenience or time savings, like drivers do.

As if to emphasize the point, a Napa resident complains about those darn scofflaw, semi-suicidal cyclists ruining her drive. And a New York editorial says cyclists have to get on board with the city’s safety plans.

Funny how motorists can see bike riders breaking the law, but never seem to notice the far more dangerous law-breaking drivers they share the road with.

……..

Fabian Cancellara crashed out of the Tour de France with two fractured vertebrae in his first day in the yellow jersey as part of Monday’s massive multi-rider pile-up. Remarkably, he managed to finish the stage, in what must have been incredible pain, before abandoning the race.

The Sacramento Bee offers a timeline of Monday’s third stage.

After being embarrassed when several riders went through a railroad crossing barricade in this year’s Paris-Roubaix race, French authorities have ordered the military to guard crossings during the tour to prevent bike racing rascals from trying it again.

You can support the first African team in the Tour de France by donating a bike for an African child as part of their #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. And yes, they do.

Meanwhile, mountain bikers were busy as well, as two Americans saw the podium in a World Cup race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

……..

Local

There’s no excuse for not learning how to ride a bike safely this summer, as Metro and the LACBC sponsor bike safety classes throughout LA County, including Long Beach and the San Gabriel Valley.

LADOT opens a new bike corral complete with repair stand outside Peddler’s Creamery near Fifth and Main in DTLA.

Bicycling looks at long-time bike advocate — and Calbike board VP — Charlie Gandy and his famed three-hour tour of Long Beach bike infrastructure.

 

State

KPCC looks at the state’s proposed hit-and-run alert legislation, which would notify the public to be on the lookout following particularly egregious hit-and-runs.

San Diego invests $74 million in fixing 300 miles of bad roads, which is especially good news for those on two wheels. Let’s hope they put in safe bike lanes while they’re at it.

A planned bike freeway promises to change the way Fresno residents live.

A Eureka cyclist crosses the 100,000 mile mark in his 40-year riding career. That’s a mark I left behind a long time ago.

 

National

A history professor from my hometown makes a full recovery from the gran mal seizure that caused her to crash during a bike race, suffering a concussion and fracturing her spine in five places; the benign golf ball-sized tumor that caused her seizure was successfully removed, as well.

Big hearted donors raise $5,000 for travel and funeral expenses for a Ukrainian woman killed while riding her bike home from work in Iowa.

Houston regulations will now require narrower traffic lanes, as well as taking all users into account, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

It takes a major schmuck to steal a custom-made bike from a Wisconsin girl with spinal bifida — let alone just before her 12th birthday.

A Minneapolis cyclist offers a harrowing first-hand account of what it’s like to see her best friend left lying in the street by a hit-and-run driver.

Beverly Hills is holding their annual bicycling classic crit. No, not the bike-unfriendly one on LA’s Westside. The one in Chicago.

Speaking of Chicago, they plan to turn a large patch of industrial wasteland into a world class 278-acre bike park.

A Cincinnati man is riding 2,000 miles to Yellowstone to remember his late wife who struggled with depression, while raising funds for mood disorder research.

A Michigan study shows apartments rent for 28% more in walkable areas, while home prices are 58% higher than non-walkable areas. Seems to hold true for bikeable areas, too.

A Connecticut driver is arrested on drug and DUI charges after nearly hitting a bicyclist; he admitted drinking four or five beers, and was found with three controlled substances prescribed to someone else, vodka, Bud Light and a straw that had been used to snort a prescription drug. And was then released on a whopping $100 bail.

 

International

A texting British driver gets 21 months for killing a hi-viz-wearing cyclist; he was busy flirting with a woman he met online instead of watching the road. Other drivers clearly saw the victim, but evidently, that would have required looking up from his phone.

A Brit woman is justifiably outraged that the drunk driver who killed her bike-riding husband while traveling at twice the speed limit will only serve six months behind bars.

As biking continues to grow in popularity, the UK government and local councils are urged to make riding safer; 55% of people surveyed said bicycling should be a higher government priority.

The Irish Independent says walking and biking aren’t just part of a green, hippy, sandal-wearing lifestyle.

Cape Town, South Africa’s new green bike lanes are declared a failure since motorists can’t resist parking in them.

An Aussie website looks at the bike tools every cyclist should own. Although most bike riders can get away with just a fraction of those, and a good mechanic.

 

Finally…

Don’t be too impressed with your bike riding skills; turns out even a Raccoon can do it. GoPro unveils a new lighter, more aero cam, as long as you’re willing to fork out nearly $400 bucks.

And what do you tip your waiter when he returns your stolen bike along with your latte?

 

Former OC lawyer gets max sentence in drug-fueled death of bike rider

Four years.

That was the sentence a judge finally issued Friday, after repeated delays, for the death of bike rider Eric Billings in Mission Viejo 27 months earlier.

Former immigration attorney Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti, who goes by the name of Hayley, had unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March of this year.

According to the OC DA’s office, she had a near-lethal dose of Xanax and Suboxone in her system when she ran down Billings’ bike from behind on March 15, 2013, as he rode in a marked bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway.

My News LA reports that investigators found a bottle of Xanax in her car following the collision; despite being filled just two days earlier, there were already 75 pills missing.

She reportedly ignored several text messages prior to the wreck from friends who begged her to stop driving and sober up. Yet despite claims that she was screaming and “pulling her hair out” following the crash, her first call was to her pharmacist, not 911.

She had faced a possible sentence of 16 months to four years for the conviction. She was also sentenced to an additional three years, to be served concurrently, after being caught with Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, while she was behind bars.

In addition, Fahkrai-Bayrooti’s license to practice law has been suspended by the California Bar, and stands to be permanently revoked after her sentencing.

My News LA reports that her defense attorney — at least the third one she has had in this case — claimed she had been dependent on prescription drugs since an “early, early age,” and may have early onset dementia as a result.

She expressed remorse at the hearing while pleading for mercy, saying she is no longer in denial about the damage she has caused. Although that denial appeared to be in full force in comments she left on this site just one day after pleading guilty.

A press release from the DA’s office quotes Billing’s wife from the victim’s statements given at an earlier hearing, offering just a hint of the loss her family has suffered.

The victim’s wife said in part, “The void that is left by this tragic and senseless accident is overwhelming. The fact that it isn’t just an accident, but rather an accident committed by one under the influence, is ironic in that Eric never had a drink in his life, would not even take a Tylenol, and would barely take a pain killer after surgery.” She went on to say, “Although I have chosen not to be bitter and have forgiven this woman, I would like her to have consequences for her actions.”

Fahkrai-Bayrooti now faces a long stay in state prison because she didn’t get the help she so clearly needed before she took an innocent man’s life.

Let’s hope she finally gets it while she’s behind bars.

And is never, ever allowed to drive again.

 

Weekend Links: Another OC sentencing delay, Hyperion at rush hour, and Dr. Thompson makes a comeback

Continuing this week’s theme, the sentencing of another killer OC driver has been delayed.

According to My News LA, Junior Rigoberto Lopez was scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty in the hit-and-run death of Daniella Palacios in Anaheim last November.

Palacios had copped a plea after a promise from the judge that he would be sentenced to no more three years in prison; under California law, he faced a max of just four years for leaving the bike riding mother of eight to die in the street, anyway.

Yet another example of people continuing to die because our state doesn’t take traffic crime seriously.

Then again, even if we gave every deadly driver the punishment they deserve, we wouldn’t have any place to put them.

Our anonymous OC reporter was in the courtroom hoping for a conclusion to this sad case. Instead, she writes,

First off, Lopez has the same type of extremely savvy criminal defense team as Hasti Fakhrai-Bayrooti. They only very recently received the probation department’s report & its 13-page addendum, and haven’t bothered to read them yet. Hell, I’ve read them! They’ve been available since Wednesday of last week! At any rate, the judge is unwilling to give any cause for appeal, so naturally he’ll allow the defense time to review. Sentencing is set for next month.

Second, I fucked up by taking way less Kleenex than I needed, going in with no idea I’d be hearing an 11-year-old’s victim impact statement. (Oh, and there were eight statements altogether.)

The My News LA story above has more details on the impact statements.

Maybe the judge could make those three years seem a lot longer by making Lopez read those statements again every day he’s behind bars.

……..

CiclaValley looks forward to bike share in DTLA, and offers up video evidence of just how crowded the Hyperion Bridge is during the morning rush hour.

Yeah, I can see why the city council so wisely determined that keeping an extra lane for cars was more important than providing safe access for people on foot.

……..

Long-time bike racer Steve Tilford says Dr. Christopher Thompson, who went to prison for brake checking two bike riders in Mandeville Canyon, doesn’t belong in jail.

He feels a better punishment would be sentencing the good doctor to community service in an under-served community, like LA’s low-income Chesterfield Square. Although he’s not the first one to suggest that; I’ve though the same thing myself more than once.

He’s a little off on his timeline, though.

The incident happened seven years ago; Thompson was found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to five years in prison the following year. He’s already served his time and been out of prison for over a year; in fact, he should be off parole by now.

And one more problem with Tilford’s suggestion.

Doctor Thompson isn’t one anymore.

He lost his license to practice medicine following his conviction in this case. So he couldn’t have served as a physician anywhere, no matter how desperately needed.

……..

Nice profile of injured painter and pro cyclist Taylor Phinney, along with his parents, former pro and Olympians Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter. From Lululemon, of all places.

Wait. There’s never been a black women’s pro cyclist? New York music teacher Ayesha McGowan hopes to be the first.

And top ranked women’s cyclocross racer Sanne Cant can’t following a solo fall after she was cut off by a tractor while training.

……..

With all the bad news about college fraternities these days, it’s nice to see members of my old frat riding from Long Beach to DC to raise awareness for disabled people.

……..

My apologies for the late notice, but you may still have time to catch the Women’s History Ride, departing from Grand Park in DTLA at 10 am sharp. As the ride leader put it,

There are so many more amazing bike-riding chicks than I thought: lawyers, librarians, doctors, and the original Midnight Ridazz. I’m panicking about forgetting any of these amazing ladies!

Redondo Beach opens their Harbor Gateway bikeway at 10 am today.

The LACBC’s Tamika Butler will be one of the featured speakers in the new Coffee For Climate Art & Speaking Series at the Highland Café on York Blvd tonight.

Long Beach hosts the Beach Babe Bicycling Classic this Sunday.

The Eastside Bike Club is hosting a Taco Night Ride next Saturday, the 18th of June.

CyclingSavvyFlyerIrvineJun2015The Orange County Bicycle Coalition is offering a Cycling Savvy course on June 19th and 20th, emphasizing legal cycling in traffic, bike handling skills, and concluding with riding in traffic on a tour of Irvine. You can register here.

Santa Monica is hosting a 4th of July themed Kidical Mass on the 27th.

Better keep the kids away from DTLA and Echo Park though, as the LA edition of the World Naked Bike Ride rolls on the 27th, as well. Just don’t get too excited.

BikeSGV hosts the Beautiful Uptown Whittier Ride the next day, June 28th.

The Beverly Hills city council will discuss bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd on the 30th. Or more likely, the permanent lack thereof.

……..

Local

LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds says public and private partnerships are the key to eliminating traffic deaths and developing a realistic transportation package, and everyone must be invited to the table.

KPCC provides a good look at the debate over providing sidewalks on both sides of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, noting that the public was engaged — and ignored. They also report on LA’s bizarre policy of only fixing streets that don’t really need it; way too many bike riders are taken down by hidden bumps and holes in roads that should have been fixed years ago.

Evidently, Long Beach has caught ciclovía fever, as plans are already in the works for another Beach Streets Open Streets event.

Evidently, local cities do a crappy job of explaining the benefits of a road diet, as Temple City residents are the latest to freak out about a proposal to remove a traffic lane and add bike lanes.

 

State

BikeSD says human lives should not be the cost of doing business.

The new captain of San Francisco’s Park Station vows a crackdown on scofflaw cyclists, apparently believing people on two wheels are a greater risk to the public than scofflaws on four.

A San Francisco cyclist is the victim of a double road rage assault, in cartoon form.

Sausalito continues its efforts to discourage bicycling tourists, instituting a $2 to $3 charge to park a bike in the city — after removing all the bike racks from downtown. Evidently, they’d prefer that all those tourists clog the streets with cars, not bikes. Or just spend their money somewhere else, which is what I’ll be doing.

Seriously? A former San Diego bike rider says you don’t have a right to put his family at risk by riding a bike on the winding roads of California’s Reno-adjacent Nevada County. Or he could, you know, just slow down and drive safely.

An anonymous Good Samaritan replaces a Chico ghost bike after it was stolen on Wednesday.

 

National

Vision Zero is becoming a public health issue, as cities across the county commit to eliminating traffic deaths. Of course, goals are meaningless without action, as certain LA councilmembers have made abundantly clear.

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske says despite what bike haters insist, it’s the motorists who are getting a free ride, not bicyclists. Nice to see Bob back with VeloNews where his column originally started.

Writing for Strong Towns, a traffic engineer says members of his profession show a conscious indifference to pedestrians and cyclists, which he aptly calls the very definition of gross negligence.

A Portland bike rider who suffered a broken back in a collision with a pickup files a $21 million suit against the city, alleging a too-narrow bike lane contributed to the death of one rider and injuries to nine others.

Looks like Wisconsin won’t slap a tax on bicycles after all.

Kentucky proposes toughening the penalties for drunk driving, making a fourth lifetime conviction worth five years in prison; previously, prior convictions were forgotten, if not forgiven, after five years.

Caught on video: Pennsylvania cyclists argue with a cop who hit a cyclist while attempting, and failing, to pass a small group of riders; oddly, a woman feels the need to jump in and defend the scofflaw cop against the big bad bike riders.

New York residents lash out against proposed “deadly” bike share stations, even though there hasn’t been a single fatality in roughly 18 million rides.

Once again, the NYPD does its best to discourage people from riding their bikes.

The New York press blames the bike rider when a woman is seriously injured after apparently stepping in front of a cyclist riding in a bike lane. On the other hand, the jerk should have stopped, just like any driver would be required to under similar circumstances.

Good idea from Delaware, as proposed legislation would encourage transit-friendly, walkable and bikeable economic development.

North Carolina’s legislature goes the wrong way, voting to increase pollution while making it harder to conduct road diets and install bike lanes.

 

International

Cycling Weekly lists the top 10 road bike innovations. Although you’d think paved roads would be pretty high on that list, too.

A new Calgary bike lane is exceeding expectations.

A new British study shows women cyclists are twice as likely to be subject to harassment and dangerous driving than their male counterparts. Yet another answer to the eternal question of why more women don’t ride.

Fast Company offers yet another look at how Copenhagen became a cycling paradise, noting bikes usually win when the city calculates all the social costs involved with investing in roads or bike lanes. Maybe LA should give that a try some time.

Refugees ride through Macedonia on their way to a better life in the European Union. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

Five lessons from the world’s biggest bicycling conference Down Under, including global cities are about people, not transport. Something LA clearly still needs to learn.

It takes a real jerk to steal the bike a 91-year old Aussie man has ridden for the last 68 years.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to use a bike as a getaway vehicle, don’t lose half the loot as you ride away. Caught on video: In case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ride a BMX bike through an abandoned NFL stadium.

And He Who Must Not Be Named plans a possibly unwelcome return to France, as the celluloid Lance makes his way to the silver screen.

 

Breaking news: no sentencing in Eric Billings case today; driver found with narcotic drug behind bars

So much for that.

Word broke yesterday that the driver convicted in the death of cyclist Eric Billings in Mission Viejo two years ago was found with a prescription narcotic in her jail cell.

According to the Orange County DA’s office, former OC lawyer Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti was found in possession of Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, on May 13th as she was being held awaiting sentencing.

Something that was supposed to happen today.

However, a source reports from the courtroom that her sentencing has been delayed yet again, much to the distress of the victim’s family.

Apparently, her extremely savvy criminal defense team doesn’t work weekends. Robert Weinberg told Judge Jones that Hasti’s psychiatric evaluation only reached his office last Friday afternoon, and he hasn’t had time to review it. SINCE FRIDAY. In his defense (cough), it’s an extremely lengthy report.

The judge is unwilling to allow for any technicality that would give Hasti any possibility of appeal whatsoever, so he granted the motion to allow the delay. The defense will naturally try to incorporate any pertinent information from the psych eval into his sentencing brief. (Note: The Deputy DA managed to create a very persuasive 25-page brief on the People’s behalf just fine, without any report from the probation department.)

One of Eric Billings’ daughters who’d been unable to speak at the first attempt at sentencing was allowed to speak this morning. She vented, and clearly the judge agrees that she is absolutely right that victims have a right to a fair and speedy trial.

In the hallway prior to the hearing, she was demanding to know who Hasti’s “pharmacist” is, because she wants him investigated, and his license revoked. (When the first witness to approach Hasti after the collision asked if there was anybody she could call, she mumbled something about her pharmacist, and tried to place a call on her cell. Also, her blood drawn more than four hours after the collision indicated Alprazolam [Ed. note: the generic form of Xanax] in an amount that is usually fatal.)

At one point, Hasti attempted, in her meek voice, to speak to the judge, but her lawyer instantly spun around in alarm and shushed her.

The next attempt at sentencing will be June 19th. The DA had a prelim set for that same morning, but rescheduled it because the Billings family has suffered enough during this delay.

Oh yeah, and naturally Hasti pleaded not guilty to the new charge. And she’s not retaining her extremely savvy criminal defense team this time; instead, she has a public defender.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti had entered an unexpected guilty plea last March to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for running Billings down from behind as he rode his beach cruiser in the bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway two years earlier. Billings, described by friends as a loving father and devout Mormon, died at the scene.

She faces up to four years in prison once she’s finally sentenced

In addition to all the other breaking news in this case, the California State Bar suspended the immigration attorney’s license to practice law earlier this week. Chances are that suspension will become permanent following her sentencing, especially in light of the additional drug charge.

Let’s hope the Billings family gets the justice they deserve. And that Fakhrai-Bayrooti gets the help she so desperately seems to need while she’s behind bars.

And that she’s never allowed behind the wheel again.

 

%d bloggers like this: