Archive for Legal Cases

Morning Links: Two months later, still no word from DA on Olin Case; Amoeba plans Hot August Bikes celebration

Sometimes, no news is no news.

More than two months after the Sheriff’s Department turned their investigation of their own officer who fatally ran down cyclist Milt Olin over to the District Attorney’s office, the DA has announced absolutely nothing.

According to the Daily News, there is still no word, official or otherwise, on whether the officer will face charges. Or even when or if a decision will be made.

Even though the DA’s own website promises a decision on filing within 60 days on any case, barring unusual circumstances.

I guess a texting on-duty cop running down a rider in a bike lane, then being investigated by his own department, rather than an independent agency such as the Highway Patrol — which normally investigates traffic fatalities in the county’s jurisdiction — could qualify as somewhat unusual.

Although the near-total news blackout on the results of the six-month investigation, followed by a total lack of comment from the DA’s office after more than two months, might make someone wonder just what the hell is or isn’t going on.

This case has stunk from day one.

And eight months later, the stench isn’t getting any better.

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Sounds like fun. Amoeba Records, along with a long list of co-sponsors, will celebrate Hollywood bike culture with Hot August Bikes in their parking lot behind store on Sunday, August 17th. The event, which runs from noon to 5 pm, will benefit the LACBC.

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Forgive the late notice.

The Bikeway’s Subcommittee of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee — the city’s only official voice for bicyclists — will meet from 1 – 3 pm today at LADOT Headquarters, 100 Main Street.

BACBikewaysAgendaJuly302014

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Local

Been awhile since we’ve heard from bike lawyer Daniel F. Jimenez, better known here by his nom de bike Dj Wheels. He writes that cyclists are turning to tech products to improve safety.

Planning is underway for next month’s third annual Clitoral Mass ride; as the name suggests, men need not apply. Meanwhile, Culver City will get its own CicLAvia next July.

The Westside’s favorite bike race, the annual Brentwood Grand Prix, rolls this Sunday; always a great time offering exciting men’s and women’s racing.

Metro honors CICLE’s new executive director, Vanessa Gray.

Seriously? A Glendale museum director insists that cyclists — except for his law-abiding friends, of course — are crazed lawbreakers who speed downhill at 40 mph in spandex and without brakes, unlike all those rational, law-abiding motorists out there. Proving you can be really smart, and still say some really stupid things.

And a Palos Verdes letter writer (second letter) complains about bicyclists getting their own private space, plus being allowed to use every lane on the public roadways, unlike all those law-abiding motorists who would never dream of driving in a bike lane. Thanks to Margaret for the heads-up.

 

State

A San Francisco cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries when he’s hit by the driver of a stolen minivan fleeing from police; six other people were less seriously injured.

After a young New York woman is killed while riding in Chico, her parents vow to live out her bucket list.

A Stockton man sics his dog on a bike rider for the unconscionable crime of using a hose without permission.

 

National

The Bike League looks at how better laws can promote bicycling, and invites you to order their new Smart Cycling Quick Guide.

Despite what the NY Times says, Bicycling insists there’s no proof carbon fiber is making bikes more dangerous. And the magazine’s Test Director can barely control his anger at the Times piece.

I’ve been ignoring multiple stories lately about a competition to design the urban bike of the future; Bike Snob explains in his own inimitable way why that was the right choice.

A Chicago study shows only buffered bike lanes keep riders outside the door zone.

An upstate New York woman was high on crack when she hit a cyclist not once, but twice before fleeing the scene — and despite her 23rd license suspension. You’d thing after the first dozen or so, someone would permanently revoke her license and forbid her from owning a car.

A proposed change in DC law would end contributory negligence in car vs bike collisions.

When Ft. Lauderdale police lead Critical Mass riders uphill at a dangerously slow pace — 3 mph, for chrissake — a ride leader asks them to speed up so people won’t fall. And is nearly forced into a collision by a cop, then arrested for his trouble.

 

International

A local Yorkshire official who called cyclists lawless menaces who speed through the village at a remarkable 50 mph is convicted of drunk driving at nearly twice the legal limit. But we’re the dangerous ones, right?

Now that’s class. When the Malawi bike team competing in the Commonwealth Games brought a pair of bikes to a Glasgow bike shop for repairs, the staff decided they deserved better. And loaned them two high-end bikes for the competition.

British rider Emma Pooley announces she’ll retire after the Commonwealth Games.

After pedestrians call an Irish bike rider an idiot for riding on a footpath, he proves them right by attacking them with a key and screwdriver.

 

Finally…

A Houston burglar uses a doggy door to steal a bike, then leaves it behind when he can’t ride it. And Long Beach police respond when a six-year old tries to use a toy gun to jack another boy’s bike.

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

 

Morning Links: DUI drivers get well-deserved extended sentences, and a careful Menifee cyclist mourned

Good news as a couple of outrageous high-profile legal cases come to a conclusion.

A Chula Vista car thief is sentenced to 14 years, 8 months in prison for the death of bike rider David Voigt. Michael Reyes, who was already on probation for car theft and meth possession, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty earlier this year to gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, auto theft, possession of methamphetamine and other charges.

Reyes was behind the wheel of a car he had just stolen after a day of drinking when he crossed onto the wrong side of the road and hit Voigt head-on, killing the husband and father before crashing into a tree and power pole.

And a Colorado woman gets a well-deserved 10 years for killing a cross-country cyclist after falling asleep while driving with cocaine and anti-depressants in her system — while on her way to a court hearing on a previous DUI arrest.

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Menifee remembers fallen cyclist Matt Carp for his caring and passion for riding, while a friend describes him as the safest bike rider he’s ever ridden with.

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not enough.

Compounding the heartbreak, Carp’s oldest son took his own life following his father’s death, in a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

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As expected, Vincenzo Nibali rode to victory on the Champs Elysees after dominating the Tour de France from the first stage to the last. He says he couldn’t have won without improved drug testing to level the playing field.

Improvements in bike technology are increasing the risk of serious injuries in the peloton. And the legendary Jens Voight calls it a TdF career after 340 stages.

The Wall Street Journal looks at Sunday’s big race in Paris; no, the other one. As expected, Marianne Vos took the inaugural women’s La Course race, as British favorite Lizzie Armistead crashed out near the end. The NY Times notes Vos won a race she worked to get started.

Meanwhile, Brit rider Emma Pooley observes that women’s cycling is an underdeveloped asset.

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Local

Mayor Garcetti promises urban acupuncture to transform the city’s future Great Streets; I know exactly where I’d like to stick the first needle or two.

Better Bike’s Mark Elliot offers an insightful response to the recent Times editorial criticizing Councilmember Gill Cedillo’s ill-advised veto of the planned North Figueroa road diet. Two other letter writers, not so much. As often happens, a pair of self-proclaimed bike riders insist no one will ever ride to work or to go shopping simply because they can’t imagine themselves doing it, ignoring the fact that countless others cyclists do it every day.

A sarcastic Burbank letterset decries planned bike lanes on Verdugo, saying it doesn’t matter how many motorists or homeowners are inconvenienced if it placates bike riders. Sounds about right to me.

A Pasadena rider suffers serious head injuries when he’s hit by a car while walking his bike across Los Robles Ave; fortunately, he’s expected to survive. This is why I always prefer to ride rather than walk my bike across an intersection; on foot, you’re a sitting duck.

 

State

A Santa Ana cyclist vows to fight after he’s ticketed for not registering his bike and riding on the sidewalk; several SoCal cities — including LA — cancelled their bicycle registration requirements after police used them to target bike riders.

Newport Beach asks cyclists to comment on the city’s proposed bike plan.

A Riverside cyclist is rescued after intentionally riding his bike off a paved pathway on Mt. Rubidoux.

An Oxnard cop becomes a Facebook hero after he buys a little girl a new princess bike to replace the one she had stolen.

The family of a fallen San Luis Obispo cyclist files suit against the driver who took his life.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offers advice on how to avoid dooring and what to do if it happens anyway.

 

National

People for Bikes asks why don’t more African-Americans ride them?

How to teach anyone to ride a bike in five easy steps.

Remarkably, an Oregon rider is back on his bike after three surgeries for benign brain tumors.

An Indiana man keeps riding at age 83.

A North Carolina rider says every cyclist lives with “the fear.”

 

International

Canada is missing the boat — or rather, the bike — on cycling tourism.

A Vancouver pedestrian suffers a broken back when she’s hit by a speeding cyclist and knocked off a seawall. Seriously, show some extra caution around people on foot; some pedestrians may be clueless, but they’re the only ones more vulnerable than we are out there.

The Guardian follows a single New York Citi Bike around the city for a day; here’s what happened when they tried the same experiment in London.

Yet another young driver tweets about running down bike riders, yet another employer pays the price for her stupidity.

An American cyclist who spent the last two decades circling the globe to promote world peace is killed by a drunk driver near Moscow.

Tokyo looks to London for bicycling inspiration.

 

Finally…

An Indian army officer sets a new record for riding a bike 103 kilometers — 64 miles — with a bottle of water balanced on his head; not surprisingly, there was no old record. And an Illinois bike rider is pleasantly surprised when a cop tickets the tailgating driver behind him. Thanks to my aspiring filmmaker nephew Adam Sputh for the heads-up; if there are any admissions officers for the USC film school reading this, save him a place in the class of 2019.

 

 

Morning Links: Reckless driving laws apply to bike riders, too; LA Times comes down hard on Gil Cedillo

No, your bike isn’t a vehicle under California law.

But that may not matter as far as traffic regulations are concerned.

In a case involving an LA cyclist, a Los Angeles appeals court has ruled that the statute prohibiting reckless driving applies to bike riders, as well.

Even though the state defines bicycles as devices, rather than vehicles. And even though the most reckless rider poses far less risk to those around him or her than a reckless driver.

Jorge Velasquez, Jr was over twice the legal limit when he left a Dodger game in April of last year, riding brakeless on the hilly streets. He swerved to avoid a car, and slammed into a jogger while on the wrong side of the road, leaving her in a coma for 10 days with serious facial injuries.

Rather than charging him with biking under the influence, which carries just a $250 fine and no points against the rider’s drivers license, prosecutors charged Velasquez with reckless driving, with a penalty of up to three years in jail.

His public defender argued, reasonably, that the reckless driving statute was specifically written to apply to operators of motor vehicles who act in a manner likely to injure or kill others.

But the court ruled that CVC 21200, which gives cyclists with all the rights and responsibilities of drivers, meant that all traffic laws that apply to motorists apply to cyclists — unless the law is specifically written to exclude bicyclists, such as the statue setting separate penalties for riding under the influence.

In some ways, the ruling works to our benefit by reconfirming our right to the road.

If the court had ruled that the reckless driving statute didn’t apply to bikes, it could be argued that other laws that work in our favor don’t either, such as the right to ride on any road where cars are allowed — with the exception of some limited access highways — or to use any lane when appropriate, just as drivers do.

On the other hand, not everyone agrees with the ruling.

Cyclist and Century City attorney Stanley E. Goldich, a frequent contributor to this site, thinks the court missed the mark.

My two cents on the opinion.  I read the prior 1980 Clingenpeel opinion in addition to the ruling of the CA Court of Appeal in the Jorge Velasquez (pdf) matter.  The central question seems to be whether the additional reference to Division 17 in the 1982 amendment to Section 21200 is sufficient to satisfy due process requirements by making clear “to persons of ordinary or common intelligence” that cyclists can be charged with reckless driving of a vehicle under Vehicle Code section 23103 notwithstanding that a bicycle is not a vehicle under the Vehicle Code.

I think in order for cyclists to be subject to prosecution and criminal penalties for reckless driving of a vehicle there needs to be an explicit reference to reckless driving of a vehicle in Section 21200 as was done for drunk driving in the 1982 amendment with the language “driving under the influence of intoxicating liquors or drugs, or the combined influence thereof.”  I don’t think it is sufficiently clear that cyclists are subject to criminal prosecution for reckless driving of a vehicle by the vague reference to Division 17, particularly in light of the last phrase in section 21200 “except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.”  I read this last phrase to mean that cyclists are not subject to punishments for driving of a vehicle because a bicycle in not a “vehicle.”  Certainly, without an explicit reference to reckless driving as was done for drunk driving in the 1982 amendment, there is ambiguity whether the general reference to Division 17 is intended to make cyclists liable for reckless driving of a vehicle.  This general reference does not give fair warning required for criminal statutes. In addition, there are not less severe penalties for bicyclists as was done for driving while intoxicated that takes into account that bicyclists do not pose the same dangers as motorists.

Certainly the actions of Jorge Velasquez in riding a fixed gear bike without a handbrake in traffic after the Dodger game with a blood alcohol level of 2.18 was extremely reckless. However, while he can certainly be prosecuted for biking while intoxicated (and should be subject to civil liability to the pedestrian he hit for his reckless conduct) I don’t think the criminal statute for reckless driving of a vehicle is applicable and criminally charging Velasquez or other cyclists for this violates due process of law. It is also curious that this issue has not arisen in the 32 years after Section 21200 was amended.   I wonder if there have been previous instances where cyclists in CA have been prosecuted for reckless driving of a vehicle. I certainly would welcome having the legislature address this and provide for prosecution of cyclists for reckless bike riding in conjunction with determining an appropriate penalty or penalties as was done with biking while intoxicated.

Unless the California Supreme Court agrees to take up the case, the ruling will now be law throughout the state.

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Red Kite Prayer offers an open letter to now ex-Santa Paula reserve officer Laura Weintraub, saying no, you are not forgiven.

And hat’s off to Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson, who responds to my post about the whole imbroglio being a teachable moment. And reaches out to a surprisingly receptive Santa Paula Police Chief Steve McLean; he’ll be meeting with McLean, along with the LACBC’s Eric Bruins, on Friday to help build a better relationship between the department and bicyclists.

I hate to sound like part of a mutual admiration society, but if you’re not reading Seth’s blog, you should be.

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The LA Times Opinion page comes down hard on CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo and his single-handed attempt to derail the already approved road diet and bike lanes on North Figueroa.

Unless some demonstrable miscalculation was made in the bike plan, or unless there’s a real safety issue, individual City Council members should not be tinkering with the plan, which was designed carefully with the whole city in mind. Currently, Los Angeles has 337.62 miles of dedicated bike lanes. Cedillo is looking at alternatives to the Figueroa corridor, but the city planners chose these designated routes for specific reasons; nearby streets, they say, won’t work. The idea is to create a seamless network of bike lanes that allow cyclists to travel continuously from one point to another.

It’s a good read, and well worth a few moments of your time. Thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up.

Meanwhile, KFI’s John and Ken demonstrate how little they know about the subject in this segment from Monday’s show, beginning at roughly the 11-minute mark.

Personally, I didn’t have the stomach for it, tuning out shortly after they disregard studies proving road diets improve safety simply because they choose not to believe them. Life is too short for that kind of indignorant anti-bike drivel; maybe you can tolerate it better than I could. Link courtesy of Erik Griswold.

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After giving up his dream of winning a grand tour, Australia’s Michael Rogers wins Tuesday’s stage of the Tour de France. France’s Thomas Voeckler stops mid-race to berate a heckler. And BMC’s Peter Stetina is ready to step up and deliver Tejay van Garderen to a place on the podium; but only if TvG can manage to keep the rubber side down.

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Local

London’s Guardian looks at Nona Varnado and LA Bike Trains.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton says new LADOT chief Seleta Reynold’s outside perspective could help overcome LA’s self-defeatist attitude.

Downtown LA could get a new 84-station bike share system and a bike hub at Union Station, courtesy of Metro.

Better Bike looks at three newly approved types of bike facilities and wonders if any will ever come to the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills. Don’t hold your breath.

A Santa Monica bike theft is caught on video; this is why you never secure your bike to a parking meter with a cable lock.

Construction begins on an improved bike route on PCH in west Malibu.

Pedestrian and cycling safety will be a major focus of new Glendale councilmember Paula Devine.

Walk Bike Burbank forms in response to the city’s decision to shelve a planned bike and pedestrian path.

 

State

KCBS-2 looks at last weekend’s Orange County memorial ride to remember fallen cyclists.

A Laguna Beach group proposes a two-way bike path as path of a plan to beautify downtown.

Sonoma County’s bike commuter of the year isn’t who or what you’d expect.

 

National

A new national bike website is for women only.

Even Arizona is driving less and bicycling more.

Lafayette CO police apologize for ticketing a cyclist for riding in a crosswalk, which isn’t against the law in the state.

Even Philadelphia police can be victims of bike theft; the clueless thief abandoned the bike after attempting to sell the clearly marked police bike to someone around the corner.

Not surprisingly, people who live near bike lanes exercise more than people who don’t — although the results may not be immediate.

 

International

Seven innovative ways cities are transforming themselves to improve bicycling.

The Telegraph offers advice on how to avoid common bicycling injuries.

A Kiwi writer calls cars the logical and inevitable solution to cycling injuries and dung-covered streets, and says it’s madness to expect bikes to share roads with cars. Oh, well okay, then.

 

Finally…

When the satirical Bike Lobby twitter account claims credit for two white flags that mysteriously appeared on the Brooklyn Bridge overnight, the media takes them just a little too seriously. And an easily offended Seattle driver assaults a cyclist to defend the honor of another driver. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

 

Morning Links: Olin lawsuit filed; deputy was texting on private phone in apparent violation of LASD policy

As expected, the family of fallen cyclist and former Napster executive Milt Olin filed a lawsuit against the LA County Sheriff’s department.

But in yet another twist in the case, it turns out the deputy behind the wheel sent over 100 text messages in the hours preceding the collision, including six in the last four minutes prior to fatally rear-ending Olin in the bike lane.

As KTLA-5 points out in the link above, state law exempts emergency personnel operating an authorized emergency vehicle in the course their duties from the law prohibiting texting or handheld cell phones while driving.

However, The Acorn reports the deputy had been using his own personal cell phone to text an undisclosed number in Camarillo. And according to KTLA, sheriff’s department policy prohibits the use of cell phones in a county-owned vehicle “absent extenuating circumstances.”

KNBC-4 says the department has still not made the mobile digital computer records public that would show whether the deputy was using his onboard computer at the time of the collision.

Meanwhile, Olin’s family has started a new foundation honoring his memory and dedicated to eliminating cycling-related fatalities and serious injuries.

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Galloping Tony Gallopin takes stage 11 of the Tour de France, just days after spending one day in the yellow jersey. Major gut check, as Andrew Talansky suffers his worst day yet in this year’s Tour after yet another crash, but courageously holds on to finish the stage and beat the cut-off time.

And what the Tour de France looks like from the bike’s point of view.

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Local

Downtown News talks with new LADOT transportation maven Seleta Reynolds.

Flying Pigeon says thanks for nothing to Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who ignored safety studies to kill the long-planned North Figueroa road diet.

Despite what LAist says, CicLAvia is not a bike festival, it’s a people festival; the route is open to anyone who wants to enjoy the streets without a motor, and with or without a bike.

The LA Register looks at Santa Monica’s month-long crackdown on scofflaw bike riders.

Empact LB leads a bike tour of Long Beach farms and community gardens this Sunday.

The conflict between cars and bikes escalated as a U-Haul truck tries to single-handedly take out a Redondo Beach triathlon shop; thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up.

 

State

BikeSD examines how failed regional transportation plans erode public trust.

Bike riders get more room on a Chico roadway following the death of a cyclist last year.

This is why DUI and hit-and-run drivers need to have their vehicles impounded; too many continue to drive even after their licenses are revoked.

A coalition of unrepentant motorists, NIMBY’s and conservatives qualifies a ballot measure to maintain automotive hegemony and undo San Francisco’s progress in promoting alternative transportation. They’d probably start by killing this bikeway along the Embarcadero.

 

National

Five ways to carry pets by bike.

The former mayor of Wisconsin’s Mad City says it’s time to cool the bike rage. And questions whether the amount of irresponsible riding outweighs all the irresponsible driving.

Road raging Illinois driver beats up a bike rider who flipped him off. My rule of thumb: Never flip off the driver behind you.

Sympathy for the much maligned Chicago sidewalk cyclist.

After a Georgia bike rider is the victim of a hit-and-run, he spots the car the next day — with part of his pedal still stuck in the grill.

Florida gets tough on hit-and-run with a new law imposing a minimum four years in prison for fleeing the scene of a deadly collision.

 

International

UK police ram a BMX rider after he’s seen waving a gun.

Victim-blaming Brit seems to confuse the risks faced by bike riders with the dangers they don’t pose to others.

New Zealand researchers determine the best way to encourage bicycling is to build protected bike lanes on arterials, and traffic calming measures on quieter side streets.

 

Finally…

The Onion get the TdF scoop of the day, reporting an unexpected delay occurred when the peloton paused to throw rocks at some bugs. And Boyonabike says bicycles could help meet UN sustainability goals, which should come as no surprise to Agenda 21 conspiracy theorists.

 

Morning Links: LA bike lawyer examines anti-harassment ordinance; shoes starting to drop in Milt Olin case

Los Angeles attorney Josh Cohen writes about LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance for Plaintiff Magazine.

In it, Cohen — a BikinginLA sponsor — explains that the ordinance may not be the panacea we had hoped, since California law relieves insurance companies of responsibility for intentional acts — making it difficult to collect anything other than a small judgment in a harassment case, unless the driver has unusually deep pockets.

His suggestion is that most victims may be better off filing a case in small claims court for a flat $1000 judgment, rather than struggling to get an attorney to take the case when there’s little chance of a recovery.

He goes on to explain that you can file a form with the DMV to identify the driver. And even if you never see a dime, winning your case means you can get the DMV to suspend the driver’s license if he or she can’t — or won’t — pay.

Then again, getting a dangerous driver off the road is a victory in itself.

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The shoes are finally starting to drop in the Milt Olin case.

According to the Daily News, court papers show the sheriff’s deputy who killed him was texting moments before the collision, and may have been using the patrol car’s onboard computer.

However, it’s my understanding that police officers are exempt from the California law banning the use of handheld devices, which means he’s unlikely to be charged with texting while driving. Although he still could face charges for careless or distracted driving.

Of course, the real question is whether the deputy was texting a private number while on duty, or someone within the sheriff’s department. And whether, as many have suggested, that it is department policy — official or otherwise — for officers to use the onboard computer while driving.

If so, it could exonerate the deputy, but leave the department itself on the hook for Olin’s death.

Which may be why the DA’s office is taking so long to decide what, if any, charges to file. Or what laws may even apply in this increasingly bizarre case.

Thanks to Lois, John McBrearty, Mike Kim and Lisa Buckland for the link.

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Bike riders are being urged to attend tonight’s Laguna Beach City Council session to call for safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians following the death of John Colvin last month.

To the best of my knowledge, the 19-year old driver still hasn’t been charged, despite stopping over a mile away.

Just a reminder to please join us tomorrow night on the City Hall lawn to express our solidarity and support for urgent change to our transportation grid. We demand safe passage for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Laguna has a long way to go, but if our City Council sees how many of us care about this issue, and understand how we fear for our lives every time we mount a bike, perhaps we can spur some action.

Please spread the word and urge your cycle buddies to join us.

Livable Streets Laguna Rally
5:30-6:30
Tuesday, July 15
City Hall
505 Forest Ave

Bring your bike if possible.

Thanks to Jeffery for the heads-up.

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You’re invited to show up on Wednesday to protest Metro’s short-sighted plan to give mere crumbs to active transportation.

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And then there were none.

The last remaining former winner of the Tour de France abandoned the race today when Alberto Contador injured his knee in a solo fall. Despite a broken tibia, Contador did his best to finish the mountain stage.

Which means yellow-jersey bearer Vincenzo Nibali becomes the instant favorite, with a wide-open field behind him.

Meanwhile, to no one’s surprise, former Russian pro Denis Menchov — two-time winner of the Vuelta and one-time Giro winner — gets a two-year ban for doping.

And the great Marianne Vos wins her third Giro de Rosa, as Emma Pooley takes the final stage. In a show of total domination, Vos’ Rabobank-Liv teammates Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Anna van der Breggen round out the podium.

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Local

More on CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s Orwellian decision to halt the road safety project slated for North Figueroa. Maybe someone should tell Cedillo that increasing traffic congestion — as West Hollywood did in remaking Santa Monica Blvd — can be a good thing, leading to a vibrant and popular neighborhood.

In another loss for LA bicyclists, new buffered bike lanes on Vineland could mean the death of long fought-for lanes on nearby Lankershim.

Another link opens in the eventual 51-mile LA River bikeway with the opening of the Los Angeles River Headwaters greenway in the San Fernando Valley.

Santa Monica Museum of Art’s popular bike-centric Tour da Arts rolls August 26th; RSVP early because the bike ride always fills up.

Meetings are planned to integrate bikes into the new Expo Line extension in Santa Monica.

Five hundred women take part in Long Beach’s Beach Babe Bicycling Classic; the event also marked the announcement of an all-women’s Gran Fondo in Napa Valley next spring. Meanwhile, a writer says the city can and should take the lead in encouraging more women to ride.

 

State

A San Diego cyclist is injured after he’s cut off by a car exiting a parking lot.

The San Diego victim’s family is justifiably furious when the DUI driver who killed their father is let back out on the streets just over two years into a six-year sentence.

A Riverside man rides his bike back home. From Montana.

Despite finding more than 130 stolen bikes and frames, the Marin County DA drops bike theft charges against a woman suspected of buying hot bikes.

 

National

Bicycling’s Elly Blue compares abusive drivers to internet trolls. Sounds about right.

Great advice to support the ones who support you at your local bike shop.

Good for her. A transgender rider fights discrimination while taking the BMX world by storm.

An editorial writer for the Denver Post is nearly as sarcastic as I am in ridiculing the slap on the wrist given a killer hit-and-run driver from my hometown.

Does it really matter if drivers understand that bike riders have a right to ride in the middle of the lane? Aren’t they supposed to somehow avoid running over anyone directly in front of them anyway?

It takes a real schmuck to shove a five-year old Cleveland boy off his bike and steal his nine-year old brother’s Schwinn at gunpoint.

 

International

The typical Calgary bike rider is helmet-wearing man who prefers to ride on a bike path.

A Toronto writer says maybe drivers and cyclists could achieve some sort of détente on the road if we all tried thinking like the other guy.

A Brit cyclist celebrates World Naked Bike Ride Day with a bare solo ride on a major highway.

A UK man is pushed into a river when his bike is stolen in a strong arm robbery.

Team Rwanda is headed to the British Commonwealth Games.

Rants in the Australian media help fuel anger against bike riders.

 

Finally…

I don’t care how drunk you are, how on earth does anyone mistake the cyclist she just killed for a badger? And seriously, no matter how pissed off you are about the truck driver who nearly hit you, don’t lie and say he threatened you with a gun; it won’t end well for you.

 

Guest post: South Bay cyclist brings down a prolific bike thief. And pays a cool grand for the privilege.

A happy ending to a long tale of a stolen bicycle; photo by Mike Bike.

A happy ending to a long tale of a stolen bicycle; photo by Mike Bike.

Last week I stumbled on a couple of news stories with an unusual twist.

According to stories in the Daily Breeze and Easy Reader News, a Redondo Beach man had been arrested for stealing a number of bikes from garages in Redondo and Manhattan Beach.

I don’t think anyone would complain about getting a bike thief off the streets.

But the interesting thing was the way the thief was uncovered, when a man simply walked into the Redondo Beach Police station and told them he’d bought a hot bike.

It seemed like there must be more to the story.

And there was.

The next day, I found an email in my inbox from South Bay cyclist Mike Bike, who identified himself as the man in question. And offered a detailed explanation of his role in the convoluted tale.

Yes, it’s a long read. But it’s a great story, and well worth the time.

And fair warning to anyone tempted to buy a bike of questionable provenance.

………

Caveat Emptor

Strange day today. Very strange, indeed.

It started out so well. Jane and I are training for a couple of tours at the end of the month and we had been frustrated trying to get her new bike to fit her. Today’s ride was going very well, though, after we finally got it dialed in: up the west side and back to the South Bay where we’d finish up the long weekend with this long ride.

Then it got weird. But let’s go back a ways.

A month ago we’d started training in earnest after Jane’s school year ended. We had done a serious climbing day up on the hill. We were headed home and Jane was in a hurry because she had some prep to do for a summer class. As we passed ‘the corner,’ I saw some bikes chained to sign posts on the right side. One of them caught my eye because it was a small women’s frame. The issue with Jane’s bike was that it’s a 52cm men’s frame that we thought was just a tad long in the top tube and with the standard diamond frame didn’t give her much stand-over clearance. I pulled over but Jane kept going. It turned out the guy selling the bikes was strolling up to show it to some other guy who just came there and must have called (both bikes had hand-written signs with a phone number). I asked the guy “how much for the Specialized?” He said he had checked on Craigslist and it was worth a lot and he’d have to get $1000 for it. It was a new looking Specialized carbon fiber WSD with Shimano stuff on it. Nothing looked abused. It had eggbeater pedals on it. I told him I was in the market for something like this but that my girlfriend had just ridden by. I wanted her to look at it and test ride. I jotted down the phone and model stuff and left him there.

Jane was interested. She thought it would be worthwhile to look at a bike just a mile from the house. So I collected my mad money, $700, and got in the van to go look. We brought her pedals and a pedal wrench and Allen keys to make it a little better for a test ride. We called ‘The Guy’ and he came on out from somewhere. I asked if I could swap pedals and he said, “sure.” We chatted a bit and he said he rode regularly up on the hill. He had bought the bike for his wife and she loved it but they were forced to move since his dad was dying of cancer in New Jersey. He was moving back there to take care of him and they needed to get rid of stuff. I could sympathize with that. Jane came back from her spin and said she liked it. I told ‘The Guy’ that I only had $700 or so on me, could he take less? He said he needed the grand. I told him I could go to the ATM down the street. Jane stayed and I went to the ATM. I came back and gave him the cash and we did the deal. I asked about cleats for those pedals; he said they had never bought those. His wife only rode it a few times and he had bought the bike like that used, with the pedals. OK, I was a little suspicious; but it was a plausible story.

After a week off for travel, we got on it in the middle of June. It was clear that the stem was too low. On a ride back from the hill, we saw ‘The Guy’ out by still more bikes for sale. We stopped and told him that we were really pleased with the bike but were still dialing it in. Jane asked about these two ‘new’ bikes; He said they had found two more stashed in the back of the garage. We rode away thinking that things weren’t as plausible as they were earlier. As for the stem, I thought it was an 80 mm but it was actually a 60. It turned out a friend at work had an adjustable stem he wasn’t using. And he wanted the pedals so we made a swap.

I did the wrenching and things were better but she was still cramped and getting a sore back. She wanted the seat further back. We moved it as much as possible but she wanted more. I was thinking we bought the wrong size bike. I looked at set-back posts but thought maybe one of my other posts could yield a cm or so. I swapped to a different post with a little more space but it was not enough. Looking at the bike, it was obvious that the bars should be moved forward if she wanted more space. My work friend had an array of stems and he was pleased with his pedal deal so he agreed to lend me all his OS stems. Over two rides we eventually gravitated to the longest of the lot, a 120 mm. We were even able to switch back to the original post.

In the mean time I had purchased side loading bottle cages due to the extreme smallness of this little compact frame, along with a new top-tube bag and seat bag. We had her Garmin on there and a new bell (which didn’t fit so well on the OS bars but I rigged it with a zip tie). Saturday night she declared it finally dialed and she looked at the tour profile and said “We need to do 71 miles tomorrow.” A quick calculation showed the west side run with a trip to Hawthorne would do it. The hot weather would help with heat conditioning though the breeze kept us from getting too hot.

Sunday morning we got underway about quarter to eight. We turned at the plaza and headed north along the coast, and were going much better than other recent rides because the bike was finally dialed. What a difference! Jane held my wheel while I kept an eye on her with my relatively new helmet-mounted rear-view (really nice unit: http://www.safezonemirror.com/install/). Great day.

Coming back, we rode the beach south taking our time through the crowds. Then we rode by the plaza on our way to completing the 71 miles. I did the mental math and it looked like we were right on target. Go to Hawthorne, hit Trader Joes for some cold drinks and then home.

Then it got weird. As we crested PV West I noticed a small female rider on a bike that looked too large for her; she was rocking her pelvis on the saddle and just looked awkward. I passed her and didn’t say anything. I looked back and Jane was off my wheel a bit then I heard the ladies talking. I got to the overlook and pulled off thinking I might give the lady advice. They both pulled up and I thought I heard the lady ask how long Jane had been riding. I told her about 5 years. She looked displeased. It became apparent she was interested in the bike and wanted to know how long we had it. I said we bought it used about a month ago. She said “that’s my bike!” Well, what do you say to that?

She said it was stolen from her house nearby a little over a month earlier along with other items and she had resorted to riding her old bike which had been re-fitted for a daughter (she did not wrench). Then she started obsessing. I asked her about the stuff I had replaced, could she tell me what the original equipment looked like? She could not. But she claimed she had the police report and the serial number in her phone.

The serial numbers matched. Crap. I bought a stolen bike for cash. But I still had the guy’s phone number and I had seen still more bikes at the lot on Friday.

The lady insisted she wanted her bike back right there. I said that we were out on a ride and I understood it was her bike but could we please finish our ride and we’d give it back with the original equipment on it (provided I could trade back to get the pedals!). She wasn’t buying it. She wanted the cops. We agreed, police were needed to resolve this, but she had no idea where she was. I helped her out giving her reasonable instructions on our location (you say Paseo and PV West and it could be about 5 different places). She kept insisting that I should have known the bike was stolen and I should have checked the stolen bike data bases before purchasing. Maybe so, but I’ve been stymied too many times trying to buy well-priced used merchandise on web-sites that I tend to move quickly.

The cops arrived and at first wanted to know who the perp was. Thank goodness they didn’t draw weapons or cuff us. We explained the situation several times to several officers and since the numbers matched (and they checked the report online) they said the lady needs to have her bke. I asked again if we could please finish up our ride and we’d get the bike restored and returned; they said no. They said we should remove our stuff from the bike and they’d impound it.

Fortunately, I had spotted Greg (another guy who’s ridden with us many times and done construction work for us) parked nearby. I went over and he had just finished his ride and I explained some of what was going down. So with Greg’s pedal wrench and my multi-tool, I started taking off pedals, stem, bags, computer, and bell; leaving the bars dangling by the cables. The lady exclaimed “are you going to let that asshole take parts off my bike?” The cops said, yes, they were my parts so I could have them. I explained yet again that I would make the bike whole and I really wanted to finish the ride but if you are going to be like this, this is how it will be done. So Greg loaded up our stuff in his truck, the cops carted the stolen bike off in the back of the police cruiser and I was left to ride home. I passed the lady on the ill-fitting bike and waved. She had my phone number and address and would stop by to let me fix the bike later.

I thought it couldn’t get any stranger. I started mulling over a visit to the roadside bike sales lot to chat with ‘The Guy’; but what to say? Basically, the lady was going to be more-or-less whole; but I was out $1000 and the PV cops had no interest in helping me. At least they didn’t shoot me! Down the hill I went. What to do next. I had to get the pedals back; shouldn’t be a problem. I had to talk to more cops in the south bay; never much fun talking to cops. I turned and headed toward home. I was mulling things over as I crossed an intersection. Someone yelled from a car window “Hey, I’ve been looking for you!” I looked over and there’s the guy! He pulled a left turn and parked the wrong way behind me.

He says his buddy just came up with a high-end bike and he thought I might be interested. A month later and he recognizes me!?! In any case, here he was saying he wants to talk to me I said, yeah, I’m real interested. His wife was in the passenger seat and she offered to take my phone number again since he didn’t have it anymore. He remembered that he sold us the Specialized and that we’d stopped to say how much we liked it. I asked him, again, where did you get that. He said it was his wife’s and said “where’d we get that, honey? Was it Huntington?” She said it was. I asked about how his dad was doing. He said “it is what it is.” Very profound. I was less sympathetic this time. He said “Yeah, we’re leaving in a couple of weeks.” Then they drove up a side street as I noted their vehicle license and make and color. Tres bizarre.

I got home and Jane wasn’t home yet, so I called her. Greg had to drop some stuff at Ray’s house. They were just looking at bikes at ‘the lot’. I told them to forget that; I was going to get a call from him this afternoon to see a bike. They drove to our street. We talked it over and decided first things first, get the pedals. Then the bike lady called and said she had the bike and was stopping by. I said I had the stem but no pedals yet but I’d get them. After 45 minutes and a trip for pedals, she was set. I went back home and we contemplated our next move. No call from ‘The Guy’ so I called the local cops. Cops on the phone don’t really want to chat so I said I’d stop by the station.

Jane and I went down and after some screening at the front desk and sitting on their hard bench, got to talk with first one officer and then a pair. They seemed somewhat disinterested in my bizarre tale; maybe because it sounded like I made it up. But they took down all the info I had: stolen bike police report number, phone number for ‘The Guy,’ plate number, description and times. Then they told me I was SOL; that I was lucky I wasn’t arrested for possession of stolen goods! I thanked them for their compassion and we left figuring ‘The Guy’ was going to have a long career as a salesman.

We cleaned up and decided to go out for dinner with Jane’s daughter. We ended up driving by the sales lot. The bikes that I’d seen earlier were gone. Crap, maybe he’d gotten wise and pulled up stakes after my questions. Then I glanced right and saw a police car parked. Hey, I said, half in jest, maybe they’re visiting my friend. Jane’s daughter said it wasn’t one car but two. We went to dinner and talked about the day.

After dinner and some shopping, we drove back by the place. Wow! Now there were four police cars and a police pick-up truck! And it was loaded to the gills with bikes! Holy crap; not in my wildest dreams did I expect that outcome. We pulled around the corner and parked and got out with cell phone cameras ready. We chatted with the official looking officer on the front steps. He indicated that they took the guy down and he was a major operator. He had been carted away and would spend the night in jail. Wow. Then the two officers from the PD visit emerged with big smiles. They thanked me and said it had been a big help. I told them that ‘the Guy’ hadn’t called me back. I got the police report number so I could cite it for my income tax loss; that’s about the only way I’m going to recoup any monetary benefit on this one. Small claims court seems a long shot. No offense, but I’m not a fan of courts, lawyers or law enforcement. But I’ll give them kudos on this one.

I sent a text message with the pick-up full of bikes to the bike lady. She called back to say she was very excited and glad they got ‘the Guy’.

Reflecting on it now; it was one very strange day. Jane has got a new Specialized from a local dealer; costs more but nobody is going to stuff it in the back of a police car in the middle of our ride.

Oh, and if you’ve lost a bike to theft in the south bay, contact the Police department, (310) 802-5124.

Don’t expect sympathy.

OC Sheriff threatens to victimize an Orange County cyclist a second time; road raging driver allowed to walk

Prepare to get mad.

Or maybe livid is a better word.

Just a day after a widely circulated open letter called on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to charge a truck driver who used his vehicle as a weapon to threaten a cyclist, the department recommended that charges be filed.

Against the victim.

According to the LA Times, Bryan Larsen was riding his bike on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point on May 31st when he captured video of a truck driver attempting to run him off the road before the passenger — who turned out to be the driver’s wife — hits him with a thrown Gatorade bottle; they then try to smoke him out as they took off.

Maybe she thought he looked thirsty.

Larsen was originally told that no charges could be filed because sheriff’s deputies did not actually witness the assault themselves.

Which is not true, of course.

Police are required to witness an event in order to file a traffic violation or misdemeanor charge; however, there’s no such requirement for felony charges. And using a large truck to intimidate a vulnerable road user should certainly qualify.

I’ve also been told by members of other departments that video footage can be used as evidence, as well as eye witness testimony. At the time, Larsen was riding with another cyclist who could verify everything seen on the video.

After the video went viral and was picked up by local news stations, the sheriff’s department reconsidered and conducted an investigation. Though based on the results, not much of one.

Even though the driver reportedly used his massive truck as a weapon to threaten the rider and attempt to force him off the road, they declined to charge him with anything. At all.

Instead, the Orange County Register reports they recommended that the OC District Attorney file an assault and battery charge against the driver’s wife.

And that charges be filed against the victim for apparently inciting the attack through his use of obscene language directed at the couple.

Charges are also being recommended against the bicyclist, he said, who is suspected of using “offensive words in public, likely to provoke a violent reaction.” Officials suspect the cyclist made “rude, disparaging comments” before the incident was recorded on his cellphone, (Lt. Jeff) Hallock said.

This, despite the fact the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive language and gestures are protected as free speech under the 1st Amendment. And even though Hallock makes it clear investigators are only assuming that Larson said something so offensive as to justify a violent attack with a deadly weapon.

As if anything could.

Would they still feel the driver was justified if he had pulled out a gun and started shooting at the cyclist? Legally, there’s no difference; only the choice of weapon used.

And never mind what actually precipitated the event. Unless Larsen suffers from a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome or mental illness that forced him to swear without any provocation, he was clearly responding to something the driver had done before the camera started recording.

What, we may never know, since the threat of criminal charges will now force him to remain silent. Which is probably the real intent.

Legally, there’s no valid case against him. So the question becomes, why is the OCSD trying so hard to intimidate the victim of a violent crime — while letting the primary perpetrator off scott-free?

And what does it say to every other bike rider south of the Orange Curtain when even video evidence isn’t good enough to get the authorities to give a damn about our safety — let alone threaten us for reporting it?

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her department are sending a clear message to everyone who travels by two wheels that we remain second-class citizens in her jurisdiction.

And if something bad happens on her watch, just keep your mouth shut about it.

Or else.

Morning Links: Making up the law on PCH, Olin ghost bike goes missing, and Canyon Lake cyclist critically injured

Once again, a sheriff’s deputy is caught on video making up traffic law on PCH.

For anyone unclear on the concept — law enforcement included — bike riders are allowed to ride in the traffic lane under California law, and allowed to take the full lane if it’s not wide enough to safely share with a motor vehicle.

And there is nothing in state law banning cyclists from riding two or more abreast as long as they stay in a single, non-sharable lane on a multi-lane roadway.

………

Someone has taken the ghost bike for fallen cyclist and Napster CEO Milt Olin, despite efforts of the City of Calabasas to maintain it. And still no word about the results of the investigation into Olin’s death or whether the sheriff’s deputy who killed him will face charges.

………

More bad news from the Inland Empire, as a 15-year old Canyon Lake cyclist suffers critical injuries after broadsiding an SUV at the base of a steep descent. The impact was hard enough that the vehicle’s airbags deployed.

………

Local

Some of DTLA’s larger new buildings feature more bike than car parking.

New LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds says it’s time to slow LA traffic to a more human scale, and may bring big changes to the city.

Meanwhile, LADOT has completed 50 miles of road diets in the last 15 years, and has finally budgeted for a citywide network of bicycle wayfinding signs.

Discovering the Ballona Creek bike path.

Sounds like fun. Metro and CICLE sponsor a Downtown LA Film History Ride on July 19th; maybe they’ll visit the Spring Street green lane gutted at the request of Hollywood filmmakers.

 

State

Newport Beach unveils the city’s draft bicycle plan, which will be under discussion when the Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee meets on Monday.

Nice. San Clemente approves a two-way bike path along the coast highway, as well as bike lanes for riders who want to remain on the roadway.

Seriously? San Diego is the only California city named to USA Today’s list of the 10 best cities for bicycling. No mention of Long Beach, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Davis, Palo Alto or any other CA towns.

 

National

Your bike is finally welcome on Amtrak.

Fading bike lanes send a message of disrespect from motorists.

A bike safety educator takes issue with the Bike League’s recent report showing 40% of bicycling fatalities over a 12-month period involved hit-from-behind collisions; thanks to Karen Karabell for the heads-up.

The feds are investigating a sabotaged Aspen CO bike trail after someone hid nail-studded boards on the path. Except it’s the Bureau of Land Management doing the investigating, not the FBI.

Life is cheap in Colorado, as a hit-and-run driver who killed a cyclist from my hometown gets four years probation and one year of work release.

A new deal could save New York’s Citi Bike bike share program.

 

International

How can you tell when police investigations are biased against bike riders? When they conclude cyclists are at fault in over three-quarters of all bike collisions.

The key to encouraging alternative transportation is to make private cars the least efficient mode of transport.

Maybe wheel-suckers don’t suck after all. Drafting cuts wind resistance up to 49%, while reducing drag for the lead rider by 5%. And it turns out shaving your legs really does make you faster.

A UK man is riding across Africa following the death of his parents from cancer.

Bicycling is booming in Bangkok, even if it puts bike riders in the danger zone.

 

Finally…

An LA cop watches as a red light-running driver threatens a pedestrian, then blames the walker for blocking the road. And no matter how mad you may be, your bike deserves better than to be thrown onto the hood of a driver’s car; maybe they can charge him with bicycle cruelty.

………

Just a quick reminder. Bikes are usually the most efficient way to get in and out of your local fireworks display. Just ride with extra care, because drivers will be focused on finding that elusive parking space or beating the crowd home instead of looking for you.

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

Paul Livingston, back on his feet.

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

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

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

No wonder Paul Livingston is mad.

Maybe you remember the story.

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

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

As Don Ward tells the story in LA Streetsblog,

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

Even worse was the terrible toll caused by that collision.

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

In fact, it was far worse.

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

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

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

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

Well, okay then.

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

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

And that’s when things got strange.

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

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

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

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

Not that they really seemed very interested, even then.

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

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

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

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

Evidently, his intuition was on target.

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

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

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

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

But you would be wrong.

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

County jail.

Not state prison.

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

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

Two days.

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

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

Not that he will ever see the money.

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

And not like anyone realistically expects her to pay.

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

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

Let’s hope so.

……..

Despite everything, Paul Livingston remains remarkably upbeat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’d never actually say it, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet remarkably, Paul Livingstone is not a vengeful man.

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

But she never did.

……..

Maybe I should let the story end there.

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

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

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

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

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

But he didn’t care.

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

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

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

But justice isn’t one of them.

Especially not in Beverly Hills.

 

Morning Links: Cyclist critically injured in Laguna Beach; lawsuit filed against LA County, LASD in Milt Olin case

Late breaking news as this goes online.

According to the Orange County Register, a 55-year old bike rider was critically injured when he was hit by a car on Coast Highway near Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach around 7 pm Tuesday. Despite initial reports that the driver had fled the scene, he actually stopped a short distance away and waited for authorities.

No word yet on how the collision occurred; a satellite view of the street shows a wide parking lane or shoulder, but no bike lanes.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a full and fast recovery.

……..

The only real question is why they waited so long.

Not surprisingly, the family of fallen cyclist and former Napster executive Milt Olin has filed a lawsuit against LA County, the LA Sheriff’s Department, and the deputy behind the wheel when he was run down from behind while riding in a Mulholland bike lane last December.

According to the LA Daily News,

The family “suffered a profound loss, a loss of a wonderful husband and father, and actually a wonderful human being, as all his friends will tell you,” attorney Bruce A. Broillet, who is representing the family, said Tuesday. “We believe the sheriff (deputy) was operating his vehicle negligently, inappropriately and this never should have happened. We will be seeking to hold the county, the sheriff (deputy) and the Sheriff’s Department accountable for the death of Milton Olin.”

The claim seeks an unspecified amount in damages for loss of love, care, protection, moral support and financial support, among other things. It also seeks more than $30,000 in damages for medical, burial and funeral expenses.

Meanwhile, the DA’s office is still reviewing the Sheriff’s Department’s self-described unbiased investigation of their own officer nearly a month after the results of the five-month investigation were turned over to them.

No word on what conclusions they reached, if any, or when or if the DA will announce whether charges will be filed.

Or whether it was an official or unofficial departmental policy that resulted in Olin’s death, as many suspect.

……..

Local

In response to Metro’s advice for cyclists on how to share the road with buses, Streetsblog’s Joe Linton offers his own five astute points on how Metro can better interact with us.

The LACBC will be providing free bike valet at the Roaring Nights at the LA Zoo.

Claremont is sponsoring a free bike safety class for children and adults this Thursday.

Santa Clarita sheriff’s deputies arrest two men for a string of armed bike path robberies.

 

State

The Coronado Historical Society is hosting a series of guided bike rides around the island this summer.

An OC businessman is riding 5,000 miles to raise funds to help end malnutrition, while a Menlo Park man is competing in the Race Across America to raise funds for the Stanford Cancer Institute.

Police arrest a bike rider for groping a Bay Area woman before riding off.

A sharp-eyed Sacramento-area man spots someone riding this daughter’s stolen BMX bike.

 

National

Speaking of RAAM, the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay looks at Dave Zabriskie and his four-man Legends of the Road team.

Momentum Magazine examines the next great bicycling cities; shocked! shocked! am I that LA failed to make the list.

CLIF Bar teams up with People for Bikes to get more people on bikes.

A writer for Crain’s Chicago Business says we all have to get along, no matter how many wheels we travel on.

A bike shop in the Windy City installs a 24-hour bike parts vending machine.

Memphis turns half a divided highway into a two-way biking and walking path along the Mississippi River.

The Alabama man who posted videos of himself running cyclists off the road pleads guilty to reckless endangerment. And gets off with a mere loving caress on the wrist.

 

International

An Irish man learns not to honk and swear at a group of cyclists. Because they might turn out to be off-duty cops.

Forty-one amateur riders prepare to ride the entire 2014 Tour de France route.

Caught on video: a bike riding Japanese schoolgirl learns the hard way to stop at the stop sign and look both ways before crossing an intersection

 

Finally…

Repeat after me: When you’re carrying six bags of meth and wanted on outstanding warrants, stop for the damn red light — but don’t do it directly in front of a pursuing police car after trying to flee.

And it takes a real schmuck to steal a 9-year old’s bike at gunpoint.

 

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