Archive for Legal Cases

No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

Accused OC DUI hit-and-run driver stays behind bars, and an ever-expanding list of local bike events

One quick bit of news before we move on to this week’s events.

Earlier in the week, it was revealed that Sommer Gonzales, the 18-year old Orange County driver accused of killing 21-year old bike rider Joseph Robinson in drunken, high speed hit-and-run, would have to be released from jail due to the 48 hour limitation on holding a suspect without filing charges.

However, sources tell me that rather than being released, she was transferred to a juvenile facility — odd since she’s legally an adult, if only by seven months.

The most likely explanation is that she may have been on probation as a juvenile, and her arrest in this case — or more likely, for the meth that was reportedly found in her car — violated the terms of her probation.

Chances are, we may never know for sure, since juvenile records are usually sealed unless a judge orders otherwise.

……….

Last month’s scheduled ride with LACBC and the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles had to be cancelled due to smoke from the Colby Fire. This month, they make up for it by returning to the planned route through the river bikeways and historic towns of the San Gabriel Valley.

Through the San Gabriel Foothills: River Bikeways and Historic Towns 
When:            Sunday February 16, 2014
Time:             Meet at 8:30am, ride at 9:00am
Where:          Classic Coffee, 148 North Glendora Avenue, Glendora, 91741
                      Meet in the public parking lot behind Classic Coffee

Back in January, we had to cancel this Tour—smoked out be the Colby Fire! We were disappointed (no one likes to cancel a bike ride), but the air quality was truly bad that day and we would have suffered.

So, now we’ve rescheduled the 2nd edition of our very first Touring LA County ride—a tour in the San Gabriel foothills along the northeastern fringe of urban Los Angeles. Rich in history, variety and natural beauty, the area is home to some of LA County’s earliest small cities: Monrovia (incorporated in 1887), Azusa (1898) and Glendora (1911). Two river bike-path systems — along the San Gabriel and the Rio Hondo — tie together the ride, passing along the Emerald Necklace, an evolving string of pocket parks and greenways. The route also includes the Royal Oaks Bike Trail (a rails-to-trails path on the old Red Line trolley right-of-way) and a foray into Monrovia Canyon Park, with its forest and streams.

Ride Length: 46 miles

Ride Duration: About 5-6 hours, including stops

Difficulty: Recommended for intermediate-level riders, age 16 and up. The total elevation gain is roughly 2,000 feet over the course of the entire ride.  The terrain is mostly rolling, with one major climb to Monrovia Canyon Park.  Primarily on bike paths, the route begins and ends with some some city street riding through Glendora, Monrovia and Azusa.

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

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

Parking: There’s plenty of public parking behind Classic Coffee, accessible from Vista Bonita Avenue (one block east of Glendora Avenue).

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

………

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, the city’s only official voice for bicyclists, meets on the first Tuesday of every even-numbered month; the next meeting takes place at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 1st at 6501 Fountain Ave.

The annual Tour de Palm Springs takes place on Saturday, February 8th. Up to 30,000 cyclists from throughout the US and around the world will travel through the Coachella Valley on rides of five to 100 miles.

Saturday, February 8th, take a bike tour of Pomona Valley craft breweries. The unsponsored ride meets at the new Sanctum Brewing Company, E Commercial St & Paloma Dr in Pomona at 1:30 pm, before rolling to the Dale Bros Brewery and Claremont Craft Ales before returning.

The San Fernando Valley Bike Club offers a twice monthly Campagni Group Ride — Italian for companion — on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. The moderately paced, leader-led no-drop ride on February 9th offers 27 miles and just 482 feet of climbing, departing from the Northwest corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge (CSUN Parking Lot B1) at 8 am sharp. Click here for more details (footnote d); lots of other great sounding rides on the list, too.

C.I.C.L.E. offers two Learn to Ride for Adults classes on Sunday, February 9th, from 9 to 11 am and 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Both classes take place in the parking lot of Eagle Rock Plaza, 2700 Colorado Blvd; tickets are $30, need-based fee waivers are available.

On November 27th of last year, David Enright was riding his bike on Eagle Rock Blvd when he was hit by an unlicensed and uninsured driver, breaking his left forearm, right elbow and clavicle, and fracturing his pelvis in seven places. His friends have set up a fundraising website to help defray his expenses and lost wages; a donation of just $40 gets you into a party at 8 pm on Sunday, February 9th at the Record Parlour in Hollywood, 6408 Selma Ave.

Monday, February 10th the Los Feliz Improvement Association presents Law & Order in Los Feliz, a discussion with LA City Attorney Mike Feuer and LAPD Northeast Division Police Captain Jeffery Bert, 6 pm at the Autry Museum, 4700 Western Heritage Way. Considering how the flyer equates homelessness, crime, noise and bicyclists, maybe you might want to attend if you’re in the area.

The next Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 11th from 5:30 to 7 pm in the Gateway Plaza Conference Room on the 3rd floor of Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza. Topics include status updates on bike share, bicycle campaigns and planning studies.

Also on Tuesday, February 11th, Santa Monica’s proposed Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo) goes before the city council starting at 6:30 pm; Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main Street.

Anyone interested in participating in this year’s Climate Ride is invited to meet with Team LACBC Captain Greg Laemmle and Climate Ride Director Blake Holiday at the LACBC Climate Ride Meet & Greet from 6 pm to 7:15 pm on Wednesday, February 12th at the Federal Bar, 5303 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. RSVP to Kelly@la-bike.org.

The movie that got me back into bicycling will screen on Wednesday, February 12th as the Laemmle Theaters show the classic bike movie Breaking Away as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Operation Firefly to put lights on everyone’s bikes; 7:30 pm at the Laemmle NoHo 75240 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood.

Celebrate a belated Valentines Day with Ride for Love: Explore the Changes of Watts, co-sponsored by Metro, C.I.C.L.E. and the East Side Riders. The ride will share love, community, and the joy of bicycling while exploring the history and changes of Watts; meet at 9:30 am at 10950 S. Central Ave.

Bike Newport Beach is hosting a Lunch in Laguna Beach Valentines Ride on Saturday, February 15th. Meet at the Newport Beach Civic Center for the 10 am, 18.3 mile moderately paced ride, returning about three hours later.

Last month’s scheduled ride with LACBC and the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles had to be cancelled due to smoke from the Colby Fire. This month, they make up for it by returning to the planned route through the river bikeways and historic towns of the San Gabriel Valley. The ride meets at Classic Coffee, 148 N. Glendora Ave in Glendora at 8:30 am, rolling at 9 am.

The first Los Angeles Bicycle Commuter Festival and Summit takes place on Sunday, February 16th from noon to 8 pm at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Placetickets $10.

Also on the 16th, a fundraising ride from Pasadena to Silverlake will be held to benefit injured cyclist David Enright (see February 9th for more information). The ride will depart from Intelligentsia Coffee Bar in Pasadena at 10 am, riding by historical landscapes, quiet ravines, bustling neighborhoods, and the breathtaking Silverlake Reservoir, ending at the flagship Inteligensia in Silverlake. Suggested sponsorship is $200, however, sponsorship is not mandatory; all proceeds go to help Enright’s long road to recovery.

Monday, May 17th is your deadline to enter the Ride with Greg Laemmle contest. The winner receives a free entry to this year’s Climate Ride, as well as $2500 towards your minimum fundraising total and an Unlimited Laemmle Movie Pass for the remainder of 2014. Two second place winners will get the movie pass, free Climate Ride registration and $1250 towards fundraising.

Serious Cycling hosts a Malibu Gran Fondo from Friday, February 21st to Sunday, February 23rd. Event is limited to first 100 to register.

Get ready to get jiggy wit it as the LACBC invites you to celebrate their 16th birthday with a 1998-themed Bike Prom from 8 pm to midnight on Saturday, February 22nd at the American Legion Post 206, 227 N. Ave. 55 in Highland Park; earlybird tickets are $8 for LACBC members and $16 for nonmembers before February 7th.

Chinatown’s annual Firecracker Ride takes place on Saturday, February 22nd with rides of 20 and 30 miles943 North Broadway.

Check out the latest implementation of the Glendale Bike Master Plan with a leisurely ride through the city’s new designated bike routes, ending at the Golden Road Brewery, from 1 pm to 3 pm on Saturday, February 22nd. Meet at the Glendale Public Library, 222 East Harvard Street.

The LABC’s West Bike Ambassadors host a leisurely ride through Venice and Mar Vista on Sunday, February 23rd; the eight to ten mile ride starts at the Mar Vista farmer’s market at the intersection of Venice Blvd and Grand View at 10 am.

The San Fernando Valley Bike Club offers a twice monthly Campagni Group Ride — Italian for companion — on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. The moderately paced, leader-led no-drop ride on February 23rd offers a choice of 25 or 52 miles around Chatsworth Lake, departing from the Northwest corner of Nordhoff and Etiwanda in Northridge (CSUN Parking Lot B1) at 8 am sharp. Click here for more details (footnote d); lots of other great sounding rides on the list, too.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, February 25th, as Longbeachize hosts a Long Beach mayoral forum at the Art Theatre, 2025 E. 4th Street, sponsored by the LACBC, Bikeable Communities, Streetsblog LA and the Long Beach Post. Topics include bicycling, pedestrian accessibility, placemaking, urban design, and green policies. Time and further details to be determined.

A community meeting will be held from 6 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday, February 26th, to discuss the proposed Rail to River Greenway along the Slauson corridor in South LA, at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School’s multi-purpose room, 644 E. 56th Street.

Burbank will host a community meeting on Wednesday, February 26th at 6 pm to discuss the proposed Burbank Channel Bikeway; 301 E. Olive Ave in Room 102 of the Administrative Services Building. The proposed bikeway will run from the Burbank Metrolink station to Griffith Park via the Burbank/Western flood control channel; if you can’t attend, you can still provide input online through February 8th.

The 2nd Annual Bike Oven Fundraiser Auction takes place on Saturday, March 1st from 5 to 10 pm, 3706 North Figueroa St. Donations of any kind are welcome, from auction items to refreshments.

The formal recommendation to include bike lanes on a rebuilt Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills goes before the city council on Tuesday, March 4th, at 7 pm; 455 North Rexford Drive. If you ride through Beverly Hills — or would like to — be there to fight to complete the missing link between the Century City and West Hollywood bike lanes.

Sunday, March 9th marks the return of the LA Marathon — and the world-famous Wolfpack Hustle: The Marathon Crash Race. As always, the ride meets at 3 am at Tang’s Donuts, 4341 W Sunset Blvd, rolling at 4 am through the closed marathon course to the coast.

C.I.C.L.E. hosts The Way Back When Ride: La Puente, co-sponsored by Metro and Bike SGV, on Saturday, March 15th. The family-friendly, leisurely paced ride meets at 10:30 am at the Park-N-Ride Lot at Stafford Street and Glendora Avenue in the City of Industry, rolling at 11 am.

Also on Saturday, March 15th, give your legs a test with the annual Malibu Seven Canyon Classic, with routes ranging from 50 to 100 miles, including a new fast, flat route along the coast. All rides start at 8 am.

Finish up the day with the first Streetsblog fundraiser of the year from 6 to 9 pm on Saturday, March 15th as they honor Streetsie Award winner Paul Backstrom, Transportation Deputy to Westside Councilmember Mike Bonin. The event, with a suggested donation of $100, will include Indian food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages; location provided upon RSVP to Damien@streetsblog.org.

The National Open Streets Summit is scheduled for Friday, April 4th through Sunday, April 6th in Los Angeles.

The next CicLAvia is scheduled for Sunday, April 6th on iconic Wilshire Blvd, LA’s historic main street. The free event rolls and walks from Downtown to the Miracle Mile with expanded hours from 9 am to 4 pm.

Fans of the Amgen Tour of California can ride the same official Stage 8 course the pros will when the L’Etape du California rolls on Sunday, April 6th in Thousand Oaks. Entry is limited to the first 1,500 riders to register.

The American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure Ship to Shore ride takes place on Sunday, April 27th at the Queen Mary, 1126 Queen’s Highway in Long Beach. Rides range from eight to 100 miles, with a $200 fundraising minimum.

On February 17th of last year, Damian Kevitt was hit by a minivan while riding his bike in Griffith Park. The driver attempted to flee the scene with Kevitt trapped under the vehicle, dragging him nearly 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway and leaving him for dead; the resulting injuries cost him a leg, and nearly took his life. On Sunday, April 27th, Kevitt is planning to finish the ride to raise funds for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

The Ride 2 Recovery to benefit wounded vets returns to Southern California on Saturday, May 3rd in Thousand Oaks. The ride departs from the Lost Hills Sheriff Station, 27050 Agoura Hills Road, starting at 8 am; no cost for injured vets.

Mark your calendar for Glendale’s 2nd Annual Jewel City Fun & Fitness Ride on Sunday, May 18th, with rides ranging from seven to 45 miles.

LA’s most popular fundraising bike ride rolls on Sunday, June 22nd with the 14th edition of the LACBC’s Los Angeles River Ride. Ten rides of varying lengths, with starting points in Long Beach and Griffith Park, including two centuries, a 15-mile family ride and a free kid’s ride; discount prices available through May 27th.

Mark your calendar for the Peace Love & Family Ride for Crohn’s and Obesity in South LA on July 5th and 6th. Great cause; more details when they become available.

The year’s second CicLAvia takes place on Sunday, October 5th with a new variation on the classic Heart of LA route through Downtown LA, from Echo Park to East LA.

The first winter — or late fall, anyway — CicLAvia is also the first to roll through historic South LA on Sunday, December 7th, from the cultural center of the Southside in Leimert Park to the birthplace of West Coast Jazz on Central Avenue.

Find bike racing schedules and other cycling events at SoCal Cycling.

Dr. Thompson disappears, why ghost bikes are needed, and Times Steve Lopez says LA isn’t doing enough

Evidently, the rumors were true.

A search of the state’s prison inmate locater no longer shows Christopher Thomas Thompson in Norco prison, or anywhere else.

He’s done his time, and deserves a chance to put his past behind him.

On the other hand, anyone who uses a motor vehicle as a weapon should never be allowed to drive again.

……….

If you’ve ever questioned the need for ghost bikes, take a moment and read this. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

But grab a handkerchief first. You’ll need it.

………

Now that you’ve dried your eyes, here’s a great piece from the LA Times Steve Lopez, in which he says the city’s plan for bikeways and a 5% bike commuter share aren’t bold enough.

That’s not (LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle) Mowery’s fault. She’s dealing with infrastructure limitations and all the usual political realities. Too many motorists, merchants and homeowners stand in the way of a bold transformation in a city that desperately needs one, and no public official past or present has been brave enough to stand up to them for the greater good. But do they really think we can just go on adding cars to already clogged roads?

If the goal is to get more people to consider commuting by bike, we need more than painted white lines on the road and the rare buffer like the one in the tunnel. We need fully protected bikeways, so people of all ages can go for a ride without fear of getting hit by a bus.

It’s a good read.

And great to have Lopez on our side.

……….

Speaking of good reads, BikeSD’s Sam Ollinger offers up the perfect polite, yet firm response to a woman who wrote to complain about scofflaw cyclists.

Bookmark this one. And use it as a template the next time someone expects you to take responsibility for bad bike behavior by others.

……….

Cyclists ride from Bell Gardens to the Downtown courthouse to attend a preliminary hearing for Wendy Villegas. She’s the 21-year old woman charged with driving under the influence, felony manslaughter and hit-and-run in the collision that killed bike rider Andy Garcia and seriously injured two other riders.

One of the riders was Garcia’s mother, who asked for tougher penalties for hit-and-run. Unfortunately, as usually happens with preliminary hearings, the hearing was rescheduled.

……….

OC cyclists ride to honor Irvine Jax employee Joe Robinson, killed by an 18-year old alleged meth-using, drunk and speeding hit-and-run driver.

Much respect to the folks at Jax Bicycle Center, who have gone out of their way to show some for one of their own, including raising funds for Robinson’s family. These guys definitely have their hearts in the right place.

Meanwhile, the alleged drunk and speeding hit-and-run driver who killed Robinson was due to be released without charges on Tuesday.

Eighteen-year old Sommer Gonzales was being held without bail since her arrest following the Sunday morning collision on Santiago Canyon Road. However, California law only allows a suspect to be held for 48 hours without charges being filed, and the OC DA’s office wants CHP investigators to look into the case further before deciding on charges.

Reports are she’s due to be arraigned on Thursday.

But why they couldn’t file preliminary charges to keep her custody in the meantime is beyond me.

……….

The Torrance substance abuse counselor who ran down and killed a pedestrian — hitting him so hard he was knocked out of his underwear, then drove over two miles with his body lodged in the windshield — has been convicted.

Fifty-two year old Sherri Lynn Wilkins was found guilty of 2nd degree murder, DUI and hit-and-run; she was over twice the legal limit when she killed 31-year old Philip Moreno.

Wilkins now faces 55 year to life.

And no, I can’t remember anyone facing a sentence like that for killing a cyclist.

Ever.

……….

HuffPo writes about the problems facing the previously approved My Figueroa project; if Mayor Garcetti really wants to create great streets, why is he keeping quiet? At the other end of the street, all Fig4All is asking for is better safety for everyone. Councilmember Paul Koretz, who single-handedly killed the long-planned Westwood bike lane, submits a motion to extend the Expo Greenway the full length of the train line and bike path. Streetsblog’s Joe Linton says walkability is key to the success of bike share, which means it could be a problem for LA. A woman’s journey from Israeli soldier to LAPD bike cop. Culver Blvd is getting a makeover east of Sepulveda Blvd, including a separated bikeway. Anyone interested in participating in this year’s Climate Ride is invited to attend a Meet & Greet at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood on Wednesday, February 12th — and don’t forget the Ride With Greg Laemmle contest that could pay your entry fee and most of your fundraising amount, while providing free Laemmle movie passes for the rest of the year. Eleven-year old Rosemead boy suffers a fractured skull in collision with a pickup.

Sisters are doing it for themselves when it comes to advancing bicycling in California. This is why you’re likely to get screwed in your next collision: California has the nation’s second lowest liability insurance requirement. Cyclists on an early morning ride discover a woman’s body in Yorba Linda. A cyclist is seriously injured when he’s run down from behind in a Bermuda Dunes hit-and-run. Santa Cruz Tesla driver faces charges after killing a cyclist while literally asleep at the wheel. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Agency has adopted a Vision Zero plan to eliminate bike and pedestrian deaths within a decade; here in Los Angeles <crickets>. Oakland’s famed Telegraph Avenue could soon get slower traffic and protected bike lanes. After a Turlock driver knocks a cyclist off his bike at 60 mph, another driver hits his bike and drags him 100 feet; it’s anyone’s guess which one killed him. Mountain View considers naming a city bike-ped czar; here in Los Angeles <crickets>.  Yuba City mother calls on hit-and-run driver who seriously injured her bike riding son to do the humane thing.

If car culture is really dying, it’s a long, slow, complicated death. US business leaders are finally getting the message that Danish-style bicycling infrastructure is good for business. Lovely Bicycling considers rural transportation cycling; one of my favorite bloggers often writes about biking through the Scottish countryside. The road raging Tucson driver who hit a group of pro cyclists gets a whopping seven days in jail. Evidently, road rage is a real problem in Tucson, as a driver is suspected of murder after punching a bike rider who died hours later. A lot of Seattle fans biked to Super Bowl parties. A Colorado Springs man gets his $5000 bike back from an armed thief after spotting it on Craigslist. Minneapolis cyclist does everything right, yet still gets killed by a drunk driver; then there’s this: “Remember, bicyclists are not putting themselves in danger when riding — people driving vehicles are.” Eight years in prison for a Chicago-area bike thief and long-time criminal. Pennsylvania man overcomes cancer to ride his bike around the world five times. I like it, as a PA bike shop owner gets a bicycle funeral after passing away a age 99. Evidently, New York bike riders are behaving better. Two Chattanooga teens have finally been charged in the assault on a cyclist that caused nationwide outrage. No bikes involved; just three killed when a 79-year old Florida woman backs over a crowd of pedestrians after church. Florida moves to strengthen laws against hit-and-run; the Miami Herald says it’s time to stop the mayhem on the streets. Autistic Florida boy gets his bike back after thieves take it.

Turns out that pre-ride sugary goop may not do you a damn bit of good. New study suggests ways to detect bicycles through crash-prevention video imaging systems. Maybe being blinded by the sun isn’t a Get Out of Jail Free card for British drivers after all. Women finally gain access to the Tour de France as something other than podium girls, thanks to a circuit race through Paris on the final day. Evidently, the better looking you are, the more likely you are to win the Tour de France, which is why Adam Levine is penciled in to win this year’s tour.

Finally, Fat Cyclist urges you to get in shape to ride out the coming zombie apocalypse. And remember, I don’t need to outride the zombies, I just need to outride you.

Unconfirmed rumor says Dr. Thompson may be back on the streets soon; LA BAC meets tonight

It’s possible LA’s bicycling Boogey Man could be getting out of jail soon.

If he hasn’t already.

Rumors are swirling that Dr. Christopher Thompson, the road raging driver responsible for the infamous Mandeville Canyon brake check that seriously injured two cyclists, was due to be released from Norco prison yesterday.

I haven’t been able to find confirmation one way or the other yet.

But Thompson is four years into a five year sentence. With good behavior, it would make sense that he would be due for release soon.

The question is, should we care?

Yes, he did a horrible thing. But he’s apologized, and he’s done his time.

Maybe it’s time to simply put him in our unpleasant past, and get him get on with his life.

And us with ours.

……….

The LA Bicycle Advisory Committee meets tonight with a long agenda, including discussion of bike lanes on Figueroa Street.

Bicycle Advisory Committee of the City of Los Angeles
Agenda
Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall ‐ Community Room
6501 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028

PLEASE NOTE

  • Public participation in Bicycle Advisory Committee meetings is welcome.
  • This agenda is tentative and may be updated as the meeting date nears.
  • Items may not be considered in the same order as this Agenda.
  • Meetings start promptly at the posted time
  • Sign Language Interpreters, Communication Access Real-Time Transcription, Assistive Listening Devices, or other auxiliary aids and/or services may be provided upon request. To ensure availability, you are advised to make your request at least 72 hours prior to the meeting you wish to attend. Due to difficulties in securing Sign Language Interpreters, five or more business days’ notice is strongly recommended. For additional information, please contact: Shelly del Rosario at LADOT at (213) 972-5980

1. Call to Order – Count for Quorum – Member Sign In
2. Approval of Minutes from December 2013 Meeting
3. Introduction of Committee Members
4. Public Comment: Non Agenda Items: All speakers must submit a City of LA Speaker Card before they will be
recognized. Public Comment is limited to two (2) minutes per speaker.
5. Los Angeles Police Department Report
a. Discussion and possible action re LAPD/LACBC handout re rules of road for bicyclists.
6. LADOT Bikeways Program Report
7. LADOT Bikeways Engineering Report re Bikeways Installed and In Progress
8. Bikeways Subcommittee Report:
a. 20‐Mile Sharrow Package
b. Discussion and possible action re Planning Department request to fund and staff “metrics”
c. Discussion and possible action re LADOT funding and staffing levels
9. Advocacy and Education Subcommittee Report:
10. Planning Subcommittee Report:
a. Discussion and possible action re Year 2 Environmental Review Package
b. Discussion and possible action re Mobility Element Update
11. Planning Department Report:
12. Metro Update
13. Update re status of Bike Plan Year 1 Environmental Package Projects (see next page):
a. Discussion and possible action re North Figueroa Package
14. Update re other projects
a. My Figueroa
b. Hyperion/Glendale Blvd Bridge:
c. Signage on LA River bike path
15. Involvement with Other City Departments:
a. City Attorney
b. Recreation and Parks
c. Public Works‐Bureau of Engineering
d. Public Works‐Street Services
16. Upcoming Events/Activities:
17. Officer Reports – Chairman – Vice Chairman
18. Member Reports – Emphasis on Council District Meetings and Projects
19. Adjourn

Next Meeting – April 1, 2014

……….

Boyonabike calls for an end to car-centered culture at Caltrans. The LAPD is increasing bike patrols along the Venice Boardwalk; hopefully they’ll bring a little peace to the bike path, as well. Sweet Ride USA releases a mouth-watering Episode Three featuring Peddler’s Creamery and DK Donuts; they’re featured in this month’s Bicycling. In his new role reporting for Streetsblog, Joe Linton asks if LA bridge builders can reconfigure the Riverside-Figueroa bridge; welcome back to one of LA’s most knowledgeable and influential bike, transportation and river advocates. Pink and daughter take a “strenuous” ride along the beach in Santa Monica; meanwhile, the singing Braxton sisters learn to ride a bike on TV, sort of.

A San Diego cyclist sues over a bad crash caused by a broken sidewalk. An 11-year old Bakersfield boy is killed by a car while riding his bike. Santa Barbara is letting 30-year old bike lanes near a school fade to oblivion in favor of parking. A Fontana cyclist escapes robbers who attempted to form a human barricade on a bike path. Jury deliberations begin for a man charged with attacking a rider on a bike path.

How to improve traffic safety for older adults; something has to be done to get dangerous drivers off the road while allowing safe ones to keep driving. New medical study shows master’s cyclists up to 71-years old maintain muscle mass as well as much younger riders. How to create a pop-up protected bike lane for just $600. New wireless hi-def bike cam released by Shimano, as well as new models by other makers. A man and his bike make beautiful music together. No more Viva Bike Vegas gran fondo in Las Vegas following Interbike this year. Anchorage motor vehicle laws stack the deck against cyclists; same story could be written just about anywhere. Tucson looks to build protected bike lanes; they could beat out LA for the Green Lane Project funding if the My Figueroa project fails to move forward. Going carless with bike and car share in Denver. A Houston area cop teams with Walmart to replace a boy’s stolen bike. St. Louis County votes for Complete Streets, despite protests from some cyclists decrying bike lanes and the “bicycle industrial complex.” A Delaware cyclist is ticketed for riding his bike safely and legally. Fortunately, not many bike riders are found on freeways, as a South Carolina driver is stopped for weaving in and out of traffic at 107 mph, while drunk — and with a open, half-empty gallon bottle of vodka — and no license. Sorry Houma, Louisiana, a shared lane may be many things, but it’s not a bike path. A 21-year old Tampa man faces prison for killing a bike rider while drag racing.

British experts say it will take more and better data to cut rates of bicycling injury and deaths; “Every death through cycling is entirely preventable, with countless lives shattered by the ripple effect of these tragic events.” Bike-hating Top Gear hosts take a ride through the streets on London. After barely surviving a collision with a car, a UK cyclist has to wait to learn if she can have her missing teeth replaced. Nottingham bike lanes are a “waste of cash and unwanted;” except by the people who might ride them, of course. The Tour of Dubai could help counter anti-bike fear-mongering. It’s war out there as Adelaide drivers and cyclists do battle daily on their commutes. It’s legal to cross a double line in Australia to pass a cyclist safely; not so in California, thanks to our veto-pen wielding governor.

Finally, a New Zealand study shows cycling is safer than you think — in fact, a two-hour ride is six times safer than riding a horse, 15 times safer than a day on the slopes and 35-times safer than playing rugby.

It’s getting scary out there — dogs attack Pasadena bike rider; driver flees police with bike dangling from car

A Pasadena cyclist walking his bike barely avoided serious injury when he was attacked by three apparently road raging dogs.

He was smart enough to place his bike between himself and the raging pit bulls, then jumped onto the hood of a car for protection. Police shot all three dogs, killing one; the rider suffered minor bite punctures.

If they shot humans for attacking cyclists, there might not be many drivers left.

……….

Horrifying video footage shows a car fleeing police in Laguna Beach with a bicycle dangling from its side, leading to speculation that it was a hit-and-run.

Fortunately, no victim has yet appeared. Other reports suggest the bike may have started out on a rack on the car before it was knocked off in the pursuit.

Thanks to Steve Messer and sonofabike for the heads-up.

……….

KTLA-5 offers a look at Ghost Bikes. Maybe if more people understand what they are, we might not need so many of them.

Thanks to Lois Horwitz for the link.

……….

Charges in the case of Donald Johnson, the Calimesa driver arrested for the hit-and-run death of Philip Richards earlier this month, have been upgraded to gross vehicular manslaughter and fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter; bond has been increased to $1 million.

In addition, his wife, Kerri Johnson, has been arrested on a charge of accessory after the fact for aiding in the coverup.

……….

Bikes lanes are now a near certainty on the Glendale-Hyperion bridge, after serious blowback from pissed off advocates; now the fight is to get sidewalks on both sides. Bicycle Fixation’s Rick Risemberg gets it; whatever you wear to ride — or play social games — is okay. On the other hand, the LAPD clearly doesn’t. The next Metro Bicycle Roundtable is scheduled for Tuesday, February 11th. Former DA and current mayoral dad Gil Garcetti talks Paris: Women & Bicycles. Yes, you really can live car-free in Los Angeles. Pedicabs could be coming to Hollywood and San Pedro; a previous trial in Westwood failed, just like every other business seems to do there sooner or later. UCLA Bicycle Academy rightfully demands better safety and access; but is anyone listening? The LACBC’s Operation Firefly distributes bike lights in Long Beach. Hawthorne approves $11 million renovation of Hawthorne Blvd, including bike lanes; thanks to Margaret for the tip.

Independent review says Caltrans is out of date, operating out of a culture of fear and acting too much like the highway department it is and not the mobility department it should be; I could have told them that. Newport Beach’s proposed bike plan can now be viewed online. San Diego’s planned bike share program has been delayed until Spring; it should still beat LA’s by a few years, at least. San Francisco woman does everything wrong, but still gets her stolen bike back — $260 later. San Francisco’s cycle tracks are paving the way for safer cycling throughout the state. Caltrans approves $2.7 million for a Monterey bike lane. Mountain View man is busted with a truck full of hot bikes. A Redding man is seriously injured in a possible BUI solo crash.

New bi-partisan bill in Congress would bring equity to bike and pedestrian funding, as well as boosting funding for bike and pedestrian projects in low income communities. It takes a real schmuck to steal a bike from someone suffering from Parkinson’s. The law is stacked against bike riders in Alaska; there are reasons Alaskans ride year round, though. Wounded warriors mountain bike to recovery in Las Vegas. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas, as a German reporter attempts to cover CES by bike. The hit-and-run victim killed near my hometown turns out to be a gifted elected motor scientist who could breath fire; no, really. The good get better, as Denver bridges gaps for cyclists and pedestrians. Fort Bliss Afghan vet rides his way back from battlefield injuries. Infamous bike lane hater and tweeter Anthony Weiner now rides them; bike lanes, not tweets. NYPD targets drivers and jaywalkers in a traffic safety crackdown; evidently, cyclists are still fair game. Freezing temperatures don’t stop DC cyclists. Baltimore police ignore evidence and the law to illegally blame a bicyclists. A Chattanooga cyclist takes the local paper to task in the wake of a teenage assault on a bike rider.

The Vancouver bike rider assaulted by a road raging driver tells his side of the story. The death of a British cyclist has turned into a murder investigation. London finally bans large trucks without pedestrian and cyclist safety features; vehicles that kill by design should never be allowed on the road, anywhere. Forty-two-year old Chris Horner, the oldest Grand Tour winner, gets a ride for 2014. Spanish cyclist riding through Pakistan denies reports six policemen were killed protecting him. Family of Japanese woman killed in collision with cyclist awarded equivalent of nearly half-a-million dollars. Sydney’s bi-directional bikeways take the wrong path.

Finally, outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky profiles LACBC board member, bike advocate and alternative transportation fan Greg Laemmle; they couldn’t feature a nicer or more deserving guy.

Lots of news — SaMo Blvd bike lanes, CicLAvia 2014, misguided SaMo Op-Ed piece, possible Olin charges

Sold out auditorium for the recent Southern California Cycling Summit; see below.

Sold out auditorium for the recent Southern California Cycling Summit; see below.

Let’s catch up on some of the recent news.

……….

First up, Westside riders owe a big thanks to Mark Elliott of Better Bike.

Elliot has led the fight — almost single-handedly at times — to improve safety and ridability in the traditionally bike-unfriendly Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

A comparison to a lone salmon swimming upstream would be putting it mildly; the mythical Sisyphus would be more apt.

Yet somehow Elliot persevered, resulting in a 1-year “pilot program” to install bike lanes on Burton Way, and bike lanes and sharrows on North Crescent Drive. While I’ve never had cause to ride Crescent, the Burton Way bike lanes have become my favored eastbound route out of the city — when I’m willing to risk my life riding through Downtown Beverly Hills to get there.

For the past year or more, Elliot has led the fight to include bike lanes on a reconstructed Santa Monica Blvd when it goes under the knife in 2015, providing a vital missing link between existing lanes in West Hollywood and Century City.

Despite overwhelming odds and the opposition of the city’s paid consultant and members of the Blue-Ribbon Committee established to study the issue, his efforts have once again carried the day, winning approval by a 9-2 vote of the committee.

Then again, the fight isn’t over yet.

The committee’s recommendation now goes to the Beverly Hills City Council for approval next month, on a date to be determined. Hopefully, we’ll get enough advance notice of the meeting to show up and voice our support.

But for the first time, it looks like we might actually get a near-continuous Santa Monica bike lane stretching from the 405 in West LA to east of La Cienga in WeHo. And we have him to thank for it.

Of course, there still are problems to be solved.

……….

Next up is the newly announced CicLAvia schedule for 2014.

This year offers three of the exceptionally popular Open Streets events, minus last year’s overly crowded CicLAvia to the Sea and the long-rumored San Fernando Valley CicLAvia. Both are promised for next year, though the former may see a reconfigured route to overcome some of the problems that resulted in near-impassible blocks of bike-congestion on Venice Blvd.

Yet even with just three events on the calendar, it looks like a strong line-up.

The Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route returns on Sunday, April 6th, once again following LA’s main street from Downtown to the Miracle Mile — although Mark Elliot has hinted that Beverly Hills might like to get in on the action. The route visits some of the city’s finest architecture and historical sites, as called out in this guide from the Militant Angeleno.

CicLAvia takes the summer off — perhaps because that Valley route fell through? — before returning with a reconfigured Heart of LA route through the Downtown area on October 5th. This year’s route extends from Echo Park to East LA, as well as traveling the length of Broadway from 9th to Chinatown, with a stop at the relatively new Grand Park.

Finally, the first holiday season CicLAvia will take place on December 7th, with its first full foray into South LA. The route will range from Leimert Park, the cultural center of the Southside, to Central Avenue, the birthplace of West Coast Jazz and home of the legendary Dunbar Hotel. Can’t wait to read the Militant’s guide to this one.

Of course, the question is, does any of this really matter?

And the answer is, of course it does. In ways that many of us, myself included, may not have realized.

LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has written what may be the best and most insightful analysis of what CicLAvia is and can be. And the role it plays in transforming our city for the better.

It’s a must read.

Just don’t read the comments.

……….

On the opposite side of the coin, there’s this misguided Times opinion piece from a long-time resident of Santa Monica, who blames bikes and urban planning for all the traffic problems in the city.

In it, he laments the young urbanites who have invaded his city, while simultaneously proclaiming that the majority of the city’s 92,000 residents can’t ride bikes and live too far to walk to the city’s newly hip urban core.

So wait.

Despite the influx of moneyed young people, most city residents are too out of shape — or maybe just too lazy — to get on a bicycle? They can’t be too old, given the number of riders I know in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who somehow manage to ride on a regular basis.

And if no one can ride, where do all those casual bike riders come from?

As someone who used to work in the city over decade ago, I can testify that Santa Monica’s traffic problems existed years before more than a handful of bike lanes appeared on the street. It frequently took me over an hour to drive the 6.5 miles from my beachside office to my apartment just 6.5 miles to the east — and not because of any bikes on the streets.

And don’t even get me started on virtually impassible Lincoln Blvd, which has long been avoided by bicyclists — despite being a designated bike route — because of the heavy automotive traffic.

Then he complains about bicyclists who position themselves in traffic — “because they can!” — moments after complaining about the bike lanes that move riders safely out of the way.

For someone who claims to have lived in Santa Monica for nearly three decades, he doesn’t seem to understand the city very well.

Or urban planning, for that matter.

Or bicycling, at all.

……….

The investigation into the December 8th death of cyclist, entertainment lawyer and former Napster exec Milt Olin is nearly complete. According to the LA Times, the case will be presented to the District Attorney to determine whether charges will be filed.

The Daily News reports the Sheriff’s Deputy who killed Olin when his patrol car somehow drifted into the bike lane on Mulholland Hwy could face a charge of vehicular manslaughter, or possibly even felony manslaughter.

“Could” being the key word.

It’s also possible, if not probable, that the DA will decline to file charges based on the evidence presented by the Sheriff’s investigators. And no word on whether charges will be filed against the department if it’s found that the deputy was following policy by using the onboard computer in his patrol car while driving, as some have suggested.

And while the department has gone out of its way to stress the independence of the investigation and deny any special treatment, they have guaranteed that the results will be second guessed — no matter what they conclude — by investigating a death involving their own deputy, rather than turning it over to an outside agency such as the CHP.

……….

The Metro Board approved a motion calling on the transit agency to look into a countywide bike share program (Item 58).

While there’s no guarantee such a program will actually be approved, it could provide deep pockets to back the system, while avoiding the Balkanization caused by competing and possibly incompatible programs in various cities.

………

(L-R) Anthony Reguero, President PTE Events, Chris Carmichael, author Time-Crunched Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, President Bahati Foundation and Michael Bell, Oakley.

(L-R) Anthony Reguero, President PTE Events, Chris Carmichael, author Time-Crunched Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, President Bahati Foundation and Michael Bell, Oakley.

I received a press release this past weekend from the Bahati Foundation about the SoCal Cycling Summit 2014, held at Oakley Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA.

Unfortunately, I found out about it long after the January 14th event was over.

I say unfortunately because I’m a big fan of the efforts of the foundation, founded by former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati, to bring the joy of bicycling to inner city youths.

And because I would have enjoyed hearing from famed cycling coach Chris Carmichael, author of The Time-Crunched Cyclist.

Summit attendees representing a diversified audience that ran the gamut– Olympic medalists, serious weekend enthusiasts as well as international competitors, filled the 400-seat amphitheater to hear Carmichael discuss his revolutionary time-crunched cyclist technique. “The SoCal Cycling Summit is a wonderful platform for our foundation to share its vision in providing assistance to inner-city youth through cycling,” said Rahsaan Bahati, founder Bahati Foundation.

“Athletes want to stay engaged in the sports they love, but it can be a difficult balance for working parents and career professionals. The time-crunched athlete program is a new approach to endurance training, one that actually takes advantage of a busy athlete’s limited training time. It’s been successful for tens of thousands of athletes, and I look forward to sharing the program with everyone at the SoCal Cycling Summit,” stated Carmichael.

Maybe next year.

………

Things aren’t looking good for long-planned bike lanes on North Figueroa Blvd, which had been approved and ready to implement until new City Councilmember Gil Cedillo appeared to throw a wrench in the works — despite his previous support for the plan.

As a result, the LACBC is calling on bike riders to contact the councilmember to express their support for the lanes, especially if you live or work in the area.

Since the candidate forum we sponsored in 2013, we have seen bike lanes installed on Colorado and the Eagle Rock bike lanes extended to Colorado.  All that is left to complete the backbone network in Northeast LA is N. Figueroa.

The residents of Northeast LA are scratching their heads thinking why haven’t they been installed yet?  After all, they were packaged for last year’s projects alongside Colorado/Eagle Rock.  This is a good opportunity to raise the question and urge Councilman Cedillo to keep his promise and install bike lanes on this very important corridor. Please join us TODAY for a day of action urging Councilmember Cedillo to add bike lanes on N. Figueroa between York and San Fernando!

Call Cedillo’s office and share your thoughts.  Dial his downtown office (213) 473-7001 and let his staffer know why you think bike lanes on N. Figueroa are good for everyone.  Then, email alek@la-bike.org and let me know how it went.  Remember to stay positive!

You can find a sample script here.

………

Finally, the CEO of Ford gets it. Even if certain residents of Santa Monica don’t.

 

Update: Driver faces charge for August death of Debra Deem in Newport Beach

Maybe there will be justice for Debra Deem after all.

According to CdM Today, a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence has been filed against 84-year old Irvine resident Robert James Anderson, the driver who took her life in a Newport Beach collision last August.

The site reports the case was filed last Friday, and he’s expected to be arraigned on February 3rd.

Deem was riding west on East Coast Highway just east of Newport Coast Drive at 4:28 pm on August 28th when she was struck by a white minivan driven by Anderson.

The van as traveling in the same direction as Deem; however, it’s not clear if her bike was struck from behind or if he turned into her. Police merely say Anderson made an unsafe lane change that resulted in the collision.

Several people who ride through the area suggest that the design of the intersection, with a dangerous transition from the shoulder bike lane through the freeway-style interchange, may have contributed to the collision.

Deem was the wife of local cycling legend Paul Deem, a former Olympic cyclist and the owner of the Cycle Werx bike shops in Costa Mesa and San Clemente.

According to the Daily Pilot, the charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail.

To be honest, though, as much as I believe in justice for all cyclists, I’m not sure what good there is in sending an 84-year old man to jail. The real benefit may simply be getting a driver who may be too old to drive safely off the roads.

Then again, that probably should have been done long before the collision that took Debra Deem’s life.

Thanks to Amy Senk and Jeffrey for the heads-up.

Update: More information from the Orange County Register; for a change, the story isn’t locked up behind their paywall. 

The paper reports neither speed or alcohol appeared to be a factor in the collision. In an interview, Anderson says he has only received on traffic citation in his life, oddly, for another improper lane change in 1966.

According to his lawyer, witnesses to the collision said Deem left the bike lane when she was cut off by another driver, placing her bike in the path of Anderson’s van. The lawyer says he never saw her. Or rather, never had a chance to see her.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like prosecutors will argue that if Anderson hadn’t made the illegal lane change, Deem’s bike wouldn’t have been in front of him. Or at the very least, he would have had a chance to see her and react.

Then again, her bike should have been clearly visible in the bike lane before any of this unfolded.

And the tragedy is compounded by the heartbreaking effect it’s had on her husband.

“My initial thought was ‘accidents happen,’ “ he said. “People get in a hurry. I’ve been in a hurry. Fortunately I’ve never killed anybody.”

But he keeps thinking about the unfairness of the situation. He lost his wife and later, he said, his house.

“I’m not quite sure what Mr. Anderson’s losing in this thing,” Deem said. “He doesn’t lose his house. If I sue him for wrongful death, he files for bankruptcy and keeps his house and life goes on. I’ve lost my life. … From a justice standpoint, I’ve lost everything.”

Horrific DUI hit-and-run case goes on trial, bicycling may be safer than you think, and a Saturday San Gabriel ride

Before we start, a little housekeeping.

Note the addition of four new pages at the top of this site. Hopefully, they’re self-explanatory.

Facts & Stats is exactly that, a random collection of bike facts and statistics that will continue to grow as we stumble upon useful and/or interesting information — including the bit about bike safety a little further down this page.

Resources is a listing of things bicyclists may need, from information on the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance and the seemingly dormant Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, to the LAPD’s Bike Liaisons and a listing of lawyers experienced in bike cases.

Organizations lists bike advocacy groups on the national, state and local levels, as well as local riding groups.

Bike Shops & Co-ops provides links to a small listing of local bike shops that I recommend, or that have been recommended to me; obviously, there are too many shops in the LA area to list them all. In addition, you’ll find bike co-ops and other bicycle services, as well as locally based manufacturers and online retailers. Other online retailers may be added down the road, but the idea is to support local bike shops and builders.

All of these should be considered works in progress. So if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or email the address on the About page.

And I promise to update the Events page now that things are finally getting back under control.

………

Somehow, I’d forgotten all about this case. Maybe because it didn’t involve a bike rider.

Just a drunken Torrance drug and alcohol counselor who hit a pedestrian so hard she knocked him out of his pants and boxers. Then drove two more miles with her dying victim lodged in her windshield, naked from the waist down. And turned away from the emergency room that could, maybe, have saved him.

Consider this from The Awl.

When Wilkins had pulled into the gas station with a pantless (Phillip) Moreno embedded in her windshield, her blood alcohol level was .17. That’s twice the legal limit. There were traces of THC and benzodiazepine in her bloodstream. When police searched her car they found two empty mini-bottles of Absolut Vodka and a 40-ouncer, along with a receipt that showed it’d been purchased that evening.

That driver, Sherri Lynn Wilkins, is on trial now in a Downtown LA courtroom in a case that’s expected to take three weeks.

With two prior felony convictions, she faces life in prison if convicted of vehicular manslaughter, which would be her third strike.

I have a lot of sympathy for people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. But anyone who could do what she did deserves to go away for a long time.

Take a few moments, and read Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s story from The Awl. It’s very well-written, and a very powerful read.

Though perhaps one that’s best done on an empty stomach.

Thanks to Geoff Stiltz for the heads-up.

………

Ever wonder how safe bicycling really is?

According to the 2010 National Bicycling and Walking Study, Americans took 4 billion bike rides in 2009; resulting in an estimated 52,000 injuries, while the national FARS database recorded 628 deaths.

As a result, the odds of returning home unscathed that year would have been nearly 77,000 to one in your favor, while the odds of surviving any given ride were an overwhelming 6.3 million to one.

And yes, deaths and injuries have gone up since then, but so has ridership. If anything, your odds could be even better today.

So don’t let the bad news scare you off. Even if you’ve seen far too much of it here lately.

As for me, I’ll gladly take those odds. Especially when the health benefits of bicycling significantly outweigh the risks.

Thanks to People for Bikes for the top link.

………

City leaders are finally talking Vision Zero. Just not in this city.

New York’s new mayor follows through on his campaign promise for a Vision Zero; even if new NYPD Chief Bratton’s famed data blames the victims. And San Francisco steps up to the plate to stop killing cyclists and pedestrians.

Even new US DOT Secretary Foxx says it’s time to make bike and pedestrian safety a priority.

Los Angeles?

<crickets>

………

Update: Ride cancelled due to smoke from the Colby fire.

This Saturday my friends Jon Riddle and Sarah Amelar, authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles, are hosting their latest monthly ride through the LA area — this time a tour of the San Gabriel foothills.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 – 8:30am

When: Saturday, January 18;  Meet at 8:30 a.m., ride at 9:00 a.m.

Where: Classic Coffee - 148 North Glendora Avenue, Glendora, 91741 (Meet in the public parking lot behind Classic Coffee)

This is the 2nd edition of our very first Touring LA County ride—a tour in the San Gabriel foothills along the northeastern fringe of urban Los Angeles. Rich in history, variety and natural beauty, the area is home to some of LA County’s earliest small cities: Monrovia (incorporated in 1887), Azusa (1898) and Glendora (1911). Two river bike-path systems — along the San Gabriel and the Rio Hondo — tie together the ride, passing along the Emerald Necklace, an evolving string of pocket parks and greenways. The route also includes the Royal Oaks Bike Trail (a rails-to-trails path on the old Red Line trolley right-of-way) and a foray into Monrovia Canyon Park, with its forest and streams.

Ride Length: 46 miles

Ride Duration: About 5-6 hours, including stops

Hopefully, the Colby Fire will be out by then, and everyone can enjoy some good air to breathe.

And mark your calendar for a new Los Angeles Bicycle Commuter Festival and Summit on Sunday, February 16th.

………

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton finds problems with the mayor’s recent traffic collision. LA City Council members want to set rules for how long ghost bike should stay up; how long do the victims stay dead? New Virgil Ave bike lanes officially open on Saturday. New semi-green bike lanes on UCLA campus. Neon Tommy explains why traffic sucks in Century City. Looks like a massive Boyle Heights roundabout is finally moving forward; no word on whether they plan to accommodate bikes or use us as bumper fodder for speeding drivers. Great idea, as a last-minute effort attempts to save the Figueroa-Riverside Street bridge as an elevated parkway for cyclists and pedestrians; as usual, the city says no. On the other hand, we should get a new bright orange Taylor Yard bike and pedestrian bridge soon. UCLA Today interviews parking meister Donald Shoup. Glendale gears up for the 2014 Jewel City Ride next May. Massive new Burbank Ikea will have 1,726 parking spaces — and 86 for bikes.

When your bike becomes your frenemy. San Diego’s acting mayor sees a world-class bike city in the town’s future. A 71-year old Riverside County rider is injured when she allegedly turns into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Thousand Oaks cyclists get new bike lanes on a bridge, but no safe way to get to them. UC Santa Barbara student committee works on improving bicycling on campus. It takes a real schmuck to assault an 11-year old Bakersfield boy to steal his BMX bike. A 70-year old Antioch cyclist is killed in a collision; witnesses report he ran a red light, not something most 70-something riders are normally prone to do. Napa cyclist responds to hate speech graffiti.

Four 5x goals from People for Bikes. Protected bikeways mean business. Elly Blue writes about riding out your period. High speed Seattle road ragers crash multiple times, on purpose. Washington farmers say bikes and trees are incompatible; seriously, I can’t make this crap up. Headline of the day: If smartphones are so smart, why don’t they tell drivers to watch the road? Chicago lawyer goes after taxi that apparently hit a cyclist, only to find the real culprit. Chicago celebrates winter Bike to Work Day; strange that we don’t have one when our weather is so much better. Unlicensed Illinois teenager gets five years for killing a nine-year old bike rider. Tennessee teens pepper spray a cyclist from a passing car. A Massachusetts cyclist is run down by a drunk driver early New Year’s morning after his mother warned him not to go out. Utica NY driver ticketed for failing to pass safely after running down a 74-year old woman with a reputation for “recklessly bicycling in the street;” no, really, that what they said. Cars don’t kill people, irresponsible drivers do; amen brother. Florida police catch a bike riding cross-dressing bank robber. Miami cyclists want the mayor to ride with them to see why riders are getting run down on a city causeway.

In a case eerily reminiscent of the Torrance tragedy above, a Brazilian motorist drives 6 km — 3.73 miles — with the body of his bicyclist victim embedded in his windshield. Maybe bike forks don’t have to be angled after all. Brit motorcyclist tries to kick a bike rider into traffic. Britain needs more cyclists. Britain’s bicycling minister sees a future for everyday riders the current streets can’t support; at least they have a cycling minister, unlike some countries I could name. As long as we’re introducing crazy laws for cyclists, here’s three more. We don’t need no stinking elevated bikeways. Spaniards riot over plans for a bike-friendly boulevard. Think your ride’s tough? Try a 12,000 km race across Africa. Kiwi driver gets 32 months for pushing a triathlete off his bike in a road rage attack. Family of a fallen New Zealand cyclist forgives the driver she collided with, saying he did nothing wrong; that’s class. Aussie pro quits his comeback due to a dangerous heart arrhythmia. Australian judge loses her license for a whole eight months after hitting a cyclist while driving under the influence, but at least she’s barred from hearing alcohol and traffic cases.

Finally, CNN looks at the future of bicycling, which oddly doesn’t include just getting on a bike and going for a ride. And that would probably please a Santa Monica letter writer, who wants to rein in all those killer bike riders on the boardwalk.

Sadly, I’ve gotten word of yet another apparent bicycling fatality, but haven’t been able to get confirmation yet. Let’s hope Friday will bring better news.

Good news and bad news: LAPD makes hit-and-run arrest; bike rider killed in Compton

Ghost bike for Compton victim Pete; photo by Danny Gamboa

Ghost bike for Compton victim Pete; photo by Danny Gamboa

Let’s start with the bad news.

No details yet, but I’ve received confirmation that a bike rider was killed in Compton Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

As if the photo that’s circulating online wasn’t confirmation enough. And no, I’m not going to share it here.

According to the reports, he was killed while riding his bike at Compton Blvd and North Dwight Ave. Friends of the victim, who identified him only as Pete, confirm that he was hit by a car sometime before 5 am Wednesday morning and died at the scene; the driver remained at the scene following the collision.

Judging by the photo of the victim, he appears to be a bearded white male with grey hair, possibly in his 50s or 60s.

No other information is available at this time.

This is the 7th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, as we maintain the horrific every-other-day pace since the first of the year. And it is the third cycling death in LA County this year, which suffered an intolerable 39 bike-related deaths in 2013.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: I didn’t recognize the corner, but Gamboa points out it’s the same intersection where Ovidio Morales was killed in a still-unsoved hit-and-run in 2010; his ghost bike is still there across the intersection. 

He reports one of the victim’s friends said he was a good man who struggled with alcohol, and was in and out of treatment programs.

As the photo suggests, neighbors have placed candles in his memory.

………

Gamboa also forwards word that an arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of a Panarama City man, who has not been publicly identified at the request of the man’s family.

According to a press release from the LAPD,

Fatal Hit And Run Driver taken into custody

On January 13, 2014 at 6 PM Valley Traffic Division Detectives arrested a 46-year old male, Rene Amaya of Panarama City on suspicion of the felony hit and run (20001(a)VC) death of a bicyclist, which occurred on December 23, 2013, at the intersection of Burnet Ave and Lanark St in the Community of Panarama City, California. Bail was set at $50,000.

Maybe someone can explain to me why we continue to grant such a low bail to someone who has already demonstrated a willingness to flee after taking a life.

14-year old bike rider fatally shot, a painful email from the family of a fallen cyclist, and I beg shamelessly

Before we start, several people have asked me lately how they can support the new BikinginLA.

The easy answer is just keep reading, and keep coming back. And keep sending in those news tips, whether in the comments or through the email address on the About page.

But if anyone wants to contribute financially to help support me and my work here, you’ll now find a Donate page on the links at the top of this page. There will be more options for donations, sponsorships and advertising soon, but for the time being, you can contribute directly to my PayPal account.

Please don’t feel pressured or any obligation. Especially this time of year, there are so many demands on your wallet, and so many higher priorities.

But any contribution, in any amount, is greatly appreciate.

………

One more bike rider is dead. Yet another young woman will never grow up.

This time, it wasn’t the result of a careless or distracted driver, or even scofflaw cyclist. It was a different kind of violence on our streets that took the life of 14-year old Alicia Gomez, gunned down as she rode her bike in Compton.

Police have described her as a known gang member, and characterized the shooting that took her life at the corner of Elm and Alameda streets as gang-related.

That’s exactly where most of us stop paying attention. Another gang shooting, another homicide in Compton, where 213 people, innocent and otherwise, have been murdered in the city since 2007.

She may have died a gang member, but she also died as one of us.

And more importantly, she died a young woman barely in her teens, who will never be a day older. Another life lost to the violence we continue to tolerate on our streets.

Let’s pray that she’s the last one.

………

Every bicycling death is tragic. Every fatality leaves a heartrending hole in the lives of his or her loves ones, and in our world.

Yet some seem to be particularly haunting, a metaphorical ghost bike within our own hearts, remaining long after the news has faded.

For me, the needless death of Donnie McCluskey is one of those.

Maybe it’s because it could have happened to any one of us. He was nothing more than collateral damage in a wreck between a drunk driver and a red light running minivan operator; after the initial impact, the van spun out of control and smashed into McCluskey as he waited at the red light.

If he’d run the light, as so many accuse us all of doing, he might be alive today.

Or maybe it’s because of the online conversations I’ve had with his family from time to time, as they’ve shared the latest updates on his case, or just the pain of his loss in the year and a half since he was taken from them.

It makes me feel like I’ve lost a friend I never knew.

Over the weekend, I heard from his sister Pattie McCluskey-Andre once again, this time to report the final disposition of the case against the driver responsible for Donnie’s death.

With her permission, I’ll share it with you.

Dear Ted,

Re: Donny McCluskey, bicyclist, killed April 18, 2012 in Rancho Mirage while waiting for the light to green.

Final day in court was December 13, 2013.  The DA never lowered or altered the original charges (not sure how much our participation from the start helped). Much to our collective relief, the driver and the judge all seemed to understand the devastation caused by this accident.  My brother was honored with a judge who appreciated that this was a death that was indeed avoidable and gave Donny his day in court.

The driver had lost 80 pounds since the accident; he spoke of his nightmares and his thoughts of Donny every time he entered an intersection. The driver cried during the entire sentencing. His remorse was so complete that he stated that he wished daily that it had been him instead of Donny who was killed.

The judge suspended his driver’s license for a year, placed him on probation for 3 years. He was not given jail time secondary to our family’s request that he perform community service instead, which was also given to him.

Ultimately, there is no closure but the ability to go forward and pay it forward. Drivers need to be held accountable whenever they are negligent and dangerous causing the death of another human. I truly feel the driver in this accident placed a deeper punishment on himself then we would ever impose. My family offers forgiveness to this man so he can forgive himself.

RIP Dear Brother, we love you, we miss you everyday and we will continue to tell your story.

Again, thank you for being the voice of cyclists,

Patti

There’s a lot of pain and a surprising amount of compassion in that email. Let’s hope, now that the case is settled, the family can finally find peace.

And this holiday season, they can remember the joy they shared with him, instead of their loss.

………

News of this weekend’s upcoming Route 66 ride promoted Alan Thompson to send word that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has been working with the Adventure Cycling Association, Caltrans and local advocacy groups to develop a SoCal leg of the planned Bike Route 66. It will follow the path of the legendary highway, giving riders a route from Chicago to LA.

I wonder if my wife would let me ride that one.

………

LA County Sheriff’s deputies have now been involved in the deaths of three people in the last week.

………

Turns out a new Calgary cycle track not only boosts ridership, but improves the flow of motor vehicle traffic, as well.

………

Finally, an Aussie cyclist responds to a roadway dispute by reaching into the driver’s car and riding off with his keys. A Menlo Park rider brings home the family Christmas tree by bike. And there may be a reason the next cyclist you see is smiling and moaning uncontrollably; then again, it’s not exactly a new idea.

 

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