Archive for Violence & Crime

Stupid human tricks: Hit-and-run triathlete, assault on a cyclist, and confused SF and NYC cops and DAs

Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a common theme to much of this week’s news.

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A Chicago cyclist is injured in a deliberate assault, as a passenger in a passing SUV reaches out and grabs her messenger bag, dragging her alongside the vehicle until her bike crashed into a parked car.

Evidently, just for the heck it, as she reported that the occupants were laughing as they risked her life.

Fortunately, she wasn’t badly hurt. But it’s another argument for protected bike lanes as she was quick to point out.

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Following the death of a San Francisco bicyclist, members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition held a rally calling for improved safety and a separated bike lane on the street where she was right hooked by a truck driver who illegally turned across the bike lane she was riding in.

Evidently, one of San Francisco’s finest didn’t get the memo.

He illegally parked his patrol car in the middle of the bike lane, in the middle of the rally — despite an empty parking space to his right — forcing riders to leave the bike lane to go around his car. All to make a point that bike riders are supposed to pass on the left, just like anyone else.

Except they aren’t. Bikes are allowed to split lanes in California. And cyclists using a bike lane are in a separate lane from automotive traffic, and are no more required to stop for traffic in the lane next to them than a driver in the right lane would be expected to stop for one in the left.

Which isn’t to say it’s not the smartest move in response to clueless drivers sometimes.

Better to come to a full stop even though the law doesn’t require it than end up under the wheels of a car or truck.

And he blamed the death of Amelie Le Moullac, and two other bike riders killed by trucks in the same area this year, strictly on the victims. Even though the truck driver who killed Le Moullac was most likely overtaking her, rather than the other way around.

So he took the law into his own hands, apparently making the law up as he went along and needlessly risking the safety of anyone using that bike lane, just to blame the victim of a collision that’s still under investigation and attempting to bully bike riders into seeing the world through his own windshield perspective.

Sound about right?

If he’s not working a desk and worrying about his pension today, there’s something seriously wrong in Baghdad by the Bay.

Thanks to murphstahoe and Bike Soup USA for the heads-up.

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Thankfully, not all San Francisco cops have their heads so far up their own badges, as the department responded to a tweet from a tipster to bust a bike chop shop.

And speaking of bike thieves, a San Francisco resident noticed one riding off on a stolen bike. And promptly nailed him with an ice cube from his third floor apartment.

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In a case of someone who really should have known better, a well-known San Francisco triathlete has been arrested for the hit-and-run that left a Bay Area business suffering from the after effects of a severe brain injury.

Ironman champion Meredith Kessler was allegedly driving the SUV that ran into Soren Krogh-Jensen as he walked in a crosswalk last March, tossing him into the air before crashing back down ob his head. Security video shows her remaining at the scene for several minutes, reportedly checking the victim before getting back in her car and running away like just another heartless coward.

You’d expect better behavior from someone who rides a bike, especially at that level.

At least, I would.

Then again, instant karma seems to have played a role, as Kessler suffered a head injury herself in a collision with another rider while competing in a triathlon that followed the hit-and-run.

And yes, I know karma doesn’t really work that way.

But still.

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On the opposite coast, a New York City cop decides to ticket a bike rider for going through a red light by knocking her off her bike, apparently failing to realize — or perhaps not caring — that any fall from a bike can result in serious injury.

Or worse.

That’s like deliberately crashing into a driver’s vehicle in order to make a simple traffic stop. Or pistol whipping a pedestrian for jaywalking.

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Update: Thanks to Joe B for pointing out that the case below actually dates to 2009. For some reason it popped up in a web search for stories posted online in the previous 24 hours, and I neglected to check the date before writing this. So the good news is, maybe today’s New York isn’t as bad as it seems; or maybe the bad news is, this sort of thing has been going on longer than we thought. 

Or maybe I just need to avoid posting my own stories after 1 am. My apologies.

In another example of the sheer idiocy of officials in supposedly bike-friendly New York, a rider faces a charge of criminal mischief after he was deliberately doored by the driver of a massive SUV.

The vehicle was stopped partially blocking a protected bike lane with no indication of why it was stopped; but when the rider attempted to go around it, it started moving again.

So the cyclist responded by slapping the side of the SUV to warn the driver he was there; I’ve done the same thing more than once, and seen other cyclists do it as well.

It usually scares the crap out of the driver, but it’s better than getting run over by someone who doesn’t even know you’re there.

But I’ve never seen anyone respond the way this driver did, flinging open his door into the victim and knocking him off his bike. Then standing over him threateningly before picking up the man’s bike and setting it on the kickstand and driving away.

Leave it to the New York DA’s office to victimize the victim all over again, apparently for that potentially life-saving tap on the driver’s door.

According to the story, criminal mischief requires property damage in excess of $250 — which is far more likely to have been caused by the door hitting the rider than the other way around.

And this from the city Bicycling ranks as the 7th most bike-friendly community in the US.

Maybe the New York DA’s office didn’t get the memo, either.

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In another horrifying case from Gotham City, a taxi driver took the leg — or possibly legs — of an English tourist after an apparent dispute with a bike rider.

And Dr. Oz came running to the rescue.

The bike rider, who was injured in the incident, was next to the cab when the driver allegedly became impatient while attempting to make a left turn. When the rider attempted to tell him to stop, the cabbie reportedly became angry and stepped on the gas, tossing the cyclist onto his hood before slamming into the woman who was sitting on a piece of concrete street furniture.

Her life was apparently saved by a bystander who had the presence of mind to use his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding on her severed leg, while another put the amputated limb on ice. Reports are her other foot was crushed and may not be able to be saved.

TV’s Dr. Oz reportedly saw the collision from his studio window, and came down to help, followed by a camera crew.

Needless to say, the NYPD seems to have ignored everything leading up to the crash and quickly determined there was no criminality involved. Not an impatient, careless or road raging driver, but just another tragic oops.

Fortunately, the city’s DA — yes, the same ones who charged the cyclist in the previous story — is taking another look at it. And the agency responsible for licensing cab drivers is taking steps to revoke the driver’s taxi license for a whopping 30 days; although under the circumstances, life would seem more appropriate.

Meanwhile, advocates are trying to get the NYPD to take traffic crime seriously, instead of just targeting bike riders while ignoring speeding motorists.

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A Florida detective makes a U-turn without checking his mirror, and collides with a driver in the next lane. But of course, it’s the stop sign-running bike rider who gets the blame.

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A British mom gives her hockey playing son a new BMW because she thought it was too dangerous to ride his bike to work.

Forty-two days later, he was killed driving his new car.

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Newport Beach’s highway-style right turn lanes put cyclists and pedestrians at needless risk. Actually, these are far too common throughout Orange County as well as San Diego County; another example of well-meaning but outdated planning gone dangerously amuck.

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But at least the Tour de France was dope-free this year. Right?

Although now that I think about it, I remember the same being said about Lance in the not too distant past.

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Finally, here’s the story I wrote for LA Streetsblog as guest editor yesterday, reporting on the new Save Our Streets LA proposal to repave the city’s crumbling streets.

And hopefully fix the sidewalks and install bikeways and build complete streets in the process.

Update: Bad news on a beautiful day; cyclist killed in Pomona shooting, another rider seriously injured in Tarzana

Just a quick note to take the shine off this beautiful Sunday.

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A bike rider was shot and killed in Pomona last night.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 45-year old Pomona resident Jose Cerda was riding on Lexington Avenue just west of Garey Ave around 9:30 pm when a vehicle pulled up next to him and one of the occupants opened fire, shooting him several times.

Cerda was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was just the first of three people killed by gunfire in the city overnight, in what would appear to by a series of drive-by shootings.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Pomona Police Department Detective Bureau at 909-620-2085.

Update:  According to the LA Times, no one has been arrested yet in any of the shootings; no word on whether police have any suspects or if the shootings are related.

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I’ve also gotten word of a serious collision involving a bike rider in Tarzana last night.

An email from reliable source says he was driving with his family along Reseda Blvd near the 101 Freeway overpass around 5:50 last night when he came upon the immediate aftermath of collision involving a bike and a car.

He arrived before the paramedics, and said the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, appeared to have been gravely wounded with a serious head injury.

Thankfully, the driver had remained at the scene; the window on the small car was completely smashed. Judging from the damage and position of the car, he said it did not appear to be a hit-from-behind collision, but couldn’t tell from what he saw how it might have happened.

As a frequent rider in the area, he reports the area is very congested with heavy vehicle traffic due to the freeway offramp, and that riding there can be challenging. despite the presence of a bike lane.

I haven’t been able to find any confirmation of the collision yet; however, knowing the source, I have no reason to question what he saw. Not surprisingly, he says he and his entire family were traumatized by what they witnessed.

Once again, it sounds like prayers or best wishes are in order, whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Thanks to Bro Dave for the heads-up.

Update: Sgt. Stephen Egan, the bike liaison for the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, reports that the collision occurred at 5:50 pm Saturday at the intersection Reseda and Collins. The driver was making a turn when he hit the rider; which way he was turning or what street he was turning onto is not clear at this time. 

The victim was transported to a local hospital with severe head trauma.

MB reports in the comments that the victim was wearing a helmet, but it was evidently knocked off by the force of the impact.

Update 2: Bad news. I’ve just gotten word that the victim died of his injuries last week. I’m trying to get more information.

Junior SoCal cyclist gets funded for Glasgow, petition for Ballona Creek police patrols, and major linkage

Looks like I’m a little late with this one.

Seventeen year old SoCal cyclist and Olympic hopeful Tara McCormick qualified for the World Junior Championships in Glasgow, Scotland starting this Sunday, after she or her team won three events at the Junior Nationals.

But to make the trip, she needed to raise $2,000 for travel costs.

At last count, she’d raised a little over $2,400, so it looks like the trip is on. But I’m sure no one would mind if you wanted to contribute a little more.

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A new petition calls on Culver City to assign regular police patrols to the Ballona Creek bike path in light of recent attacks on bike riders. I’ve already signed it; hopefully you will, too.

Now we just need to ask for patrols in the LA City and County sections of the bikeway, as well.

And even if you don’t live there, you’re encouraged to sign this petition to increase penalties for vulnerable road users in Florida, still the nation’s most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians.

After all, you may find yourself riding there someday.

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Shockingly, LA doesn’t make the list of the nation’s top 10 bike commuting cities; yes, that’s sarcasm. But we are leading the way in new car-lite households. Revised designs for the Spring Street green bike lanes have received state approval. The Bird Wheel offers an in-depth look at last week’s city council hit-and-run hearing. A simple crosswalk could make a dangerous LA bridge safer. What LA can learn from Minneapolis about bike planning. Free bike traffic skills classes continue throughout the LA area. KNBC-4 catches a bike thief in action, and offers tips on how to thwart them. Youth perspectives on walking, biking and riding Metro; speaking of which, Metro unveils their new Safe Routes to School site. The LACBC’s monthly Sunday Funday ride tours Lakewood this weekend. Galco’s John Nese breaks the heart of a bike rider who just wants to do business with his store, while the Boulevard Sentinel resorts to PowerPoint to fight bike lanes on North Fig. BikeSGV invites you to their 2013 Awards celebration, aka a good time for a good cause. I’ve found lots of things in 30-some years of riding; thankfully, body parts haven’t been among them and I’d like to keep it that way.

Assuming it clears the legislature — and our anti-bike governor doesn’t veto it — state bike funding could increase by over a third. CicLAvia-style events spread throughout California, with up to 20 scheduled by 2017. San Diego joins LA as a member of NACTO. Santa Barbara police plan a crackdown on an annual cruiser bike run; seriously dudes, they’re cruiser bikes. Learn the basics for group rides before you join in. San Francisco police take to Twitter to fight bike theft.

Great article from a bike cop on how police should enforce bike laws; hint, it’s not the way most of them are currently doing it. Turns out even motorists prefer separated bike lanes. Protected bike lanes are finally coming to North America, while Mashable asks if you’d commute on a bike superhighway; depends on how well designed and implanted it is, mais non? The intersection of bikes and fashion in the pages of Vogue. A Seattle driver rams a pedestrian who told her to hang up and drive; Bike Portland offers advice on how to handle the situation. The silly season is in full force, as Wisconsin Republicans recoil from the horror of roundabouts, while the Missouri GOP is pushing a meaningless ban on Agenda 21. Actually, you’re not paranoid — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul really is out to get your bike funding. Lovely Bicycle is very attractive to bees; tell her I can relate. Bikeyface humorously calls for better bike racks. Sadly, Serrota bicycles will soon be no more, though the founder promises to come back. Looks like the New York Jets’ Kellen Winslow is one of us, as he rides his Specialized bike to practice. Following their founder’s twin heart attacks, Brooklyn Bike Patrol is back to escorting pedestrians safely to their destinations. Some rich Brooklyn neighborhoods hate bike lanes; most poorer ones don’t. It’s time for Miami police and motorists to respect bike riders; seems like that’s asking a lot under current circumstances, given the state’s serial killer status when it comes to cyclists.

A surprisingly rational look at new bike lanes from across the northern border. Builders are keeping bicyclists in mind, except in Vancouver, evidently, where building operators ticket a cyclist for actually using their bike racks, for fear of besmirching their “professional image;” so much for being a green building. Riding a bicycle in normal clothes should not be an act of rebellion. New study shows Oslo cyclists like bi-directional bike lanes, Oslo drivers not so much. Pro cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney gets his first stage win in the Tour of Poland with a bold solo breakaway; raise your hand if you knew there was a Tour of Poland. Admitted doper Jan Ullrich says Lance should get his titles back. A road raging pedestrian shoots a bike share cyclist in Paris. Bike riders explore Russian history on a nighttime Moscow ride. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, evidently to get the Palestinian city’s first cycle track installed. Cycling could be Africa’s next big sport. Aussie cyclists are told to chill out and enjoy their ridiculously low 6.21 mph speed limit; yes, I did the math for you, and you’re welcome. This is big news, as the Australia government does the math, and determines every bike commute saves society $21; someone please tell that to Rand Paul and the anti-Agenda 21 folks.

Finally, teen girls everywhere are breathing easier, as the Bieb is cleared of hit-and-run charges. But now you can tell him what you really think just before he runs you down on your new twin-framed fixie in his chrome Fisker.

On the other hand, Cycling in the South Bay says some drivers are going to hate you no matter what you do.

Ignoring road rage in Santa Rosa, San Diego cyclists targeted, and LAPD accused of beating bike rider

Talk about the charges not fitting the crime.

A Santa Rosa driver identified as 22-year old Matthew Dewayne Hamilton is under arrest on a felony hit-and-run charge for what police describe as an accidental collision stemming from a roadway dispute.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Hamilton barely missed hitting a cyclist, who responded by yelling at him. So Hamilton backed up to continue the argument, colliding with the rider in the process.

Right.

It evidently wasn’t assault with a deadly weapon from their windshield perspective, even though the rider, who has not been publicly identified, suffered several broken bones, as well as internal injuries. And even though they themselves describe it as a road rage incident, police insist the driver just wanted to chat, if angrily.

Of course.

Then, realizing his error after plowing into the rider with enough force to cause significant injuries, Hamilton stomped on the gas and fled the scene, abandoning his car nearby. He was arrested while walking through the area.

You know, just another hit-and-run. Not a violent criminal fleeing the scene of his rage-fueled attack.

It’s all in how you look at it, evidently.

Then again, according to the police report, it was the car that was in control of Hamilton at the time of the collision, rather than the other way around.

Thanks to @murphstahoe for the heads-up.

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San Diego cyclists are being targeted by jerks with a pellet gun.

The city’s 10News says police are investigating confirmed attacks in the La Jolla and Mount Soledad areas, as well as possible attacks in the Fiesta Island and Torrey Pines areas.

One woman suffered serious road rash when a pellet penetrated her shoulder and knocked her off her bike.

Police are looking for three men in a black sedan on possible felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

At least San Diego police get the charges right. Although I might argue for a domestic terrorism count.

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San Diego police are also looking for tips in last year’s shooting death of 19-year old bike rider Joseph Hutchins in the City Heights neighborhood. Hutchins was killed the day after his 19th birthday.

A successful tip could earn a reward of up to $1000.

Yeah, that’ll motivate someone.

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A Los Angeles man claims police beat the crap out of him for riding without lights.

According to KCBS-2/KCAL-9, Brian Cisneros was riding to work at the Ralphs market in Marina del Rey last Friday when he was stopped by two LAPD officers at the intersection of Ida and Redwood Avenues.

According to Cisneros, the officers exited their car with guns drawn and attacked him in a brutal assault that included choking, stomping and throwing him onto the hood of their car, despite his lack of resistance.

Then left him there with a ticket for not having lights while riding after dark.

Clearly, something violent happened.

Cisneros, who says he thought he was going to die, was treated for a dislocated shoulder and a fractured elbow, among other injuries. And looks like someone who took a serious beating in the photos that accompany the report.

But something tells me there’s more to the story.

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Manhattan Beach Patch offers the most detailed report yet on Manhattan Beach school board member Bill Fournell, the bike rider violently assaulted in an apparent attempt to steal his bike on the Ballona Creek bike path on July 19th.

The attack took place around 6 pm, one of the busiest periods on the pathway, as bike commuters use it as a virtual bike freeway connecting Culver City with the coast.

Fournell suffered a broken collarbone, broken ribs and punctured lungs, requiring a five-day stay in the hospital, after one of the assailants threw a bike at his front wheel, then struggled with him for possession of his Litespeed bike.

And Patch finally gives us a location for the attack, saying he was assaulted by three juveniles on the bikeway between the Higuera and Dusquesne bridges.

As others have pointed out, the east end of the bike path is far less used than the western sections. Anytime you ride in a secluded area, out of view of the public or other riders, you need to be alert to your surroundings and any possible risks.

Although three kids with a bicycle on a bike path wouldn’t necessarily look threatening or out of place.

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The LACBC reports the bike plan currently under development by the City of Carson has been watered down in the face of pushback from a pair of large local businesses.

The city’s Watson Land Company has argued that putting bike lanes next to the traffic lanes used by heavy trucks would increase the danger to bike riders.

Maybe someone should tell them that their self-proclaimed commitment to sustainability and philanthropy should extend to our streets.

Never mind that anyone wanting to ride through the city under current conditions already has to share those traffic lanes with those same trucks. And that the studies I’ve seen say bike lanes improve safety for everyone on the road.

Speaking for myself, I’d much rather ride beside a massive truck than in the lane in front of one.

No, far better to maintain the conditions that have already resulted in the death of a bike rider earlier this summer.

At least I can understand, if not accept, where they’re coming from in their desire to maintain the heavy truck hegemony over Carson’s streets.

Far harder to understand is the opposition from the StubHub (nee Home Depot) Center, home to the region’s leading velodrome. You’d think that an athletic center that features indoor bicycling events — including the upcoming USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships — would appreciate the desire of outdoor bicyclists to get there without getting killed.

But evidently, it’s inconceivable to them that bike racing fans, or their other patrons, might actually want to ride a bike there. Or maybe they just want to ensure that people continue drive to maintain that parking revenue.

The LACBC asks you to take action to preserve the Carson bike plan.

Take Action: Tell Carson City Council to preserve the Master Plan of Bikeways’ original intent of having a cycle-track on Albertoni and University, and preserving the proposed bike lanes on Avalon, Watson Center Road, and Wilmington.

If you cannot make the meeting on August 6 at 6 p.m., please call Mayor Dear at 310-952-1700 ext 1000 and email the rest of council at:

jdear@carson.ca.us
myfrancisone@yahoo.comail
lholmes@carson.ca.us
mgipson@carson.ca.us
arobles@carson.ca.us

I’d suggest taking it a step further.

And let the StubHub Center know it’s not acceptable for a bicycling venue to needlessly risk the lives of their bike riding patrons.

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Finally, Apple has evidently decided that American drivers aren’t distracted enough, and wants to incorporate iPhone functions — including texting and email — into car dashboards by the end of this year.

Which means you may be able to thank Steve Job’s successors for the distracted driver who runs you off the road next year.

If you’re still capable of thanking anyone.

Update: Bike rider mugged on Ballona Creek bike path; Redlands driver attempts to run down cyclists

Are the Ballona badlands back?

In a crime reminiscent of the bad old days of five years ago, when bike riders were attacked in two separate assaults on the Ballona Creek Bike Path, a cyclist was mugged on the popular bikeway Friday evening.

According to a comment from Mark Neumann, a friend of his was assaulted by three men in an attempt to steal his bike.

On Friday night about 6 pm while riding home from work, a friend of mine got assaulted on his bike riding the Ballona Creek bike path in Culver City on Friday. His words: “He threw his bike into my front wheel as I was about to pass him going about 20 mph. So that dumped me straight onto my shoulder and ribs. I hopped up and the guy was starting to pull my bike away. I told him no and grabbed it back. Wasn’t thinking straight with all the adrenaline cause he pulled it back and started reaching in his pocket. But then he let go and ran off. That’s when I started to feel the injuries and that I couldn’t breathe from the ribs and punctured lung. Feeling better today but the ribs hurt like a mother. Hope to get the chest tube out tomorrow and then get home.” Three guys caused him to crash and tried to steal his bike. He has 5 broken ribs, a broken clavicle, collapsed lung and some good road rash. He is doing well at UCLA but in lots of pain and unable to move.  Be careful on this path.

Unfortunately, things like this are nothing new.

And not restricted to the Ballona bikeway.

An August, 1990 article in the LA Times reports that the Automobile Club of Southern California had warned its bike riding members to avoid Ballona Creek due to dangerous conditions there — a risk made evident when a rider was shot to death on the bike path near Marina del Rey that July.

And it was just two years ago that riders were attacked in at least four separate incidents on the Greenway Trail in Wittier, including a woman who was severely beaten before her attackers ran off without taking anything. Or, thankfully, doing anything other than beating the crap out of her.

It’s a fear that leads many riders, especially women, to avoid off-road bikeways, particularly after dark or when other riders aren’t likely to be present. And may have contributed to the hit-and-run death of Erin Galligan in Santa Monica last year, as she chose to ride through a dangerous construction area on PCH rather than take her chances on the dark, secluded beachfront bike path just a few feet away.

It’s not that bike paths are inherently dangerous. It’s the fact that assaults like this are relatively rare that makes them so shocking.

But it’s an inherent problem with virtually any off-road pathway that while they offer protection from motor vehicles, large sections of the paths are likely to be out of public view and rarely, if ever, patrolled by the police, providing a secluded location for anyone with evil intent.

In fact, in the 2008 assaults, it became clear that the LAPD didn’t even know there was a Ballona Creek bike path, let alone where it was. A problem compounded by the three separate police agencies — LAPD, Culver City PD and LA Sheriff’s Department — responsible for various sections of the bikeway.

None of whom I have ever seen patrol the pathway while riding there myself.

That lack of police protection means it’s up to you keep an eye out for dangerous situations and people or circumstances that just don’t look right. Just as it would be if you were walking or riding through a secluded alley or parking garage, or any other place where an assault could be hidden from public view.

Though how you avoid someone throwing a bike at you is beyond me.

Update: Neumann forwards another report from a friend showing the long history of violence on the bikeway, this one dating back more than 20 years.

Flashback to: Wed Nov 27, 1991 Ballona Creek bike path. Back then there was no fence between the projects and the bike path. I was attacked by a gang while riding home from my office in Beverly Hills. They pulled me off the bike. One of them cold cocked me. I took off running. They caught me. Struck me on the side of the head (with a bike helmet on – no less) with either a gun or a pipe. While on the ground that night I thoroughly believed it was going to be my last day on this planet. But, they grabbed my backpack and ran away. (They got my wallet and a Rolex.) I was in shock. I had a fractured zygomatic (temple) arch. They never caught the culprits. My doctor failed to diagnose my fracture. It healed broken. I had to have corrective surgery which resulted in an infection/abscess. More surgery. A week in Torrance Memorial on 24 hour IV antibiotics. Lost 20 pounds. Necrosis to my jaw bone. Followed up with corrective surgery and bone removal. I have permanent limited opening of my jaw. I never thought anything could rattle me but I could not walk down a street without looking over my shoulder for over a year. I refused to ride that stretch of Ballona Creek for over 15 years. I will only ride it now if I am with others. A couple of weeks after I was assaulted a guy was shot and killed on his bike in the same stretch. I knew him. He worked at that corner mini-mart up from the MB Pier (where Skechers is now). Anyhow, I hope your friend is OK. Truly.

Update 2: The victim of the assault has been identified as Manhattan Beach school board member Bill Fournell; he was released from the hospital after five days with a broken collarbone, broken ribs and punctured lungs. 

Manhattan Beach Patch places the assault at around 6 pm on July 19th, between the Higuera and Dusquesne bridges.

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Maybe they really are out to get us.

According to multiple reports, a Redlands man is under arrest for deliberately aiming his car at number of bike riders in a string of attacks this past weekend.

Redlands police arrested 26-year old John McDonald on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after he repeatedly attempted to ram bicyclists along Sunset Drive with his Honda Civic. In at least one case, he swerved across the roadway in an effort to hit a cyclist riding in the opposite direction, forcing the rider off the road.

More frightening, police responded to similar calls throughout the weekend, including two on Sunday, suggesting that the attacks continued over at least a two-day period.

Under the circumstances, it seems like a miracle that no one was seriously injured.

Or worse.

And yet, when they finally did arrest him, McDonald was held on just a $50,000 bond. I guess trying to kill someone with your car isn’t considered all that serious unless you succeed.

Anyone with information is urged to call Redlands police at (909) 798-7681.

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Finally, police are looking for the hit-and-run driver who plowed into a group of cyclists at the monthly San Jose Bike Party, injuring two riders and leaving one with a broken hip and skull.

Clearly, hit-and-runs are not just an LA problem.

They seem to occur with frequency wherever motor vehicles come in contact with soft and breakable flesh.

Was the brother of a Gardena bike theft victim murdered by the cops sent to help them?

Maybe those riders in Gardena are lucky they only got ticketed for blocking the lane.

It was suspicious enough when Gardena police blew away the brother of the victim — yes, victim — of a bike theft last month, because they couldn’t be bothered to let him explain that the bike-riding men they’d detained were friends who were helping to look for his brothers bike.

And yes, he said it in English, according to witnesses.

Somehow, the patrons at a nearby restaurant were able to understand Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino clearly. But the cops couldn’t seem to make it out, claiming he was shouting and gesturing before reaching towards his waistband.

So they shot him.

Eight times.

Including twice in the back.

One of those non-bike theft friends was also shot. And yes, also in the back.

Maybe they have a problem with backward shooting trick shot artists down there.

Never mind that the officers shot and killed an unarmed man. Or the recklessness they showed in opening fire just feet from of a crowded Redondo Beach Boulevard restaurant.

At best, it looks like an incredibly bad shoot by a trio of trigger happy cops. At worst, they may have murdered the brother of a petty crime victim

I cannot repeat that enough. They killed someone helping the victim of the crime.

And now those officers are back on the street after being placed on administrative leave.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stay the hell out of Gardena for the foreseeable future.

And whatever you do, don’t report a crime there.

Correction: An earlier draft said police had killed the victim of the bike theft, which had been my understanding. However, this story from the Daily Breeze makes it clear that the man who was killed, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was the brother of the man who had his bike stolen, and was assisting in the search for the stolen bike. Thanks to Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman for the correction.

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Meanwhile, in yet another black mark on the city’s police department — which still hasn’t been able to catch the killer of hit-and-run victim Benjamin Torres — Streetsblog’s Damien Newton writes that you shouldn’t expect justice in the case of the LAPD Sargent whose daughter is charged with killing bike-riding postal worker Jesse Dotson in a hit-and-run.

That’s because Gardena police aren’t even investigating the father, even though she was driving his car, which was later reported stolen. And oddly, discovered just blocks away from their home.

As Damien put it,

He either believes his daughter’s ridiculous story and is one of the worst investigative officers ever, or he is complicit in the scheme to report the car stolen.

Yeah, no point in investigating that.

………

Bike racer Emma Pooley says it’s long past time that women bike racers were allowed to compete equally with the men — in fact, they used to just a few decades back, both in the Tour de France and America’s late, great Red Zinger/Coors Classic.

If you agree women belong in a parallel Le Tour — let alone the Amgen Tour of California and the upcoming USA Pro Challenge — sign the petition here.

I did.

………

A new bike and pedestrian bridge over the LA River on its way to approval by the LA City Council may make a planned Glendale bridge superfluous. The county breaks ground on a new segment of LA River pathway in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. The Source is enthusiastic about bike trains. Participants in Friday’s Zócalo Public Square/Grand Park forum call for a cease fire between bicyclists and drivers. Tell that to the papers of the Los Angeles News Group, who continue to troll for bike hate, this time questioning if LA commuters will ever bike to work, in a negatively worded poll. A Pasadena bike rider suffers life threatening injuries in a head-on collision with a salmon cyclist. Boyonabike looks at cars and the environment. Ride with the mayor of Montebello next Sunday. Over 500 riders turn out for the first ever Long Beach women’s only Beach Babe Classic. A Santa Clarita cyclist suffers a broken back in a hit-and-run; the driver turned himself in four hours later, apparently at the urging of family members. The San Diego Union-Tribune endorses efforts to promote bicycling in the county. Evidently, you don’t have to be sane to have a drivers license in California, with predictable results.

Scion thinks you’re an obstacle, but they’re really, really sorry about it. Elly Blue says our roads are depreciating, too. Do bike shops just market to white males? Cycle chic is already a thing; you can’t co-opt it by adding “ing,” even if helmets really are becoming more fashionable. Five innovative ways to park a bike. Using a bike as a weapon is no different from using a car as a weapon, except for the results. Famed researcher John Pucher says it’s time for a bike renaissance in Seattle. The Boulder CO sheriff says the road rage brake check that left a leading triathlete seriously injured wasn’t. An aggressive road-raging, horn-blaring, multi-car passing Colorado driver films his own apoplectic outrage at a group of bicyclists. Turns out you can’t use your car as a weapon to run down a bike riding, cigarette-stealing Wisconsin thief, after all. Even a protected bike lane isn’t enough to protect a Chicago bike rider. Michigan police arrest a 12-year old bike riding bank robber. Thanks to our veto-wielding governor, California can’t even get a three-foot passing law; a Maine writer says three-feet isn’t enough. Lesson #1: Try not to share the same stretch of asphalt as your boyfriend’s crazed, motor-maniacal ex. Upstate New York triathlete killed when he rides into the back of a parked car; another is seriously injured while exchanging water bottles. A pair of bike-riding Pennsylvania teenagers rescue a kidnapped five-year old girl; thanks to D.D. Syrdal for the heads-up. The next broken down bike rider you see could be Dave Matthews on his way to his own show, and you could get front row tickets if you stop. Seriously, no matter how pissed off you are about the 70-something driver who nearly hit you, don’t try to punch him out. A nice piece from Bike Delaware explains why you may be invisible to some drivers.

A British pub owner is really, really sorry he threatened to run down “weak-kneed” cyclists at 60 mph. Half of all Brits admit to road rage; maybe that’s why someone is pushing people off bikes in Leicester. With a week left, the Tour de France may already be over, as Froome looks unbeatable. Cadel Evans tweets advice on how to watch a bike race safely. A year after she quit racing, American Mara Abbott is a two-time winner of Italy’s prestigious Giro Rosa. Lexus rolls out a one million-yen limited edition bike; yawn.

Finally, what do you do after leaving City Council? Former Councilmember Ed Reyes rides a bike. And it looks like Westfield Century City will soon open LA’s first bike station; more on that later.

Westfield Bike Station

Because every child has a right to grow up

This is so not what I want to write about.

I’ve been working on another post, taking on so-called futurist Syd Mead, who somehow can’t seem to envision a future with bikes in it.

And typically, complains about empty unused bike lanes. Yet in the next breath, worries about cars unable to turn right because of all the bikes blocking their path.

Sometimes they just make it too easy.

But frankly, my heart’s just not in it.

Not tonight.

Because tonight my heart is weighed down by Skittles and tea, bumpers and guns; badly broken by a world where too many children lose their lives before they can get back home.

Yes, I’m talking about Trayvon Martin.

But I’m also talking about Horacio Pineda.

And Alex Romero.

And Danny Marin.

And Shantrel Williams.

And Jonathon Fernandez.

And Jeremy Perez.

And Joseph Parra.

And Roger Lewis.

And David Granados.

And Jonathon Hernandez.

All were 18-years old or younger when the life was crushed out of them by the bumper of a car. Or under a bus or truck.

In some cases, the driver was at fault. In some, the rider.

And in some, we’ll never know.

And those are just the one from Los Angeles County in the last three years. And only those who died in collisions.

The numbers would jump considerably if we added those who died from falls or trains or solo collisions. Or other SoCal counties outside LA.

Or gun violence while riding their bikes.

Like Martin, they had no idea when they left home they’d never return again. Or that the next time their parents and loved ones would say goodbye, it would be forever.

In his case, he went out for some Skittles and an iced tea.

The others were out with friends or running errands. Or just, you know, riding their bikes.

Like many others, I’m troubled by the Zimmerman verdict. Just as I am all the drivers who get off after killing a bike rider, or get just a slap on the wrist while their victims get the death penalty.

Or never face charges at all. If they’re ever found, for that matter.

I can’t say if he deserved to be convicted. I wasn’t in the courtroom; the only evidence I saw was what was presented on TV.

If you really want my opinion — and God knows, I don’t know why you would  in this case — he’s responsible for everything that happened once he ignored police instructions to stay out of it.

But I wasn’t there.

And unless your name is Zimmerman, neither were you.

What I do know is that far too many children are dying on our streets, victims of guns and gangs and cars and predators. And if we are ever to succeed as a civil society, it has to stop.

Now.

The Netherlands were once as car centric a nation as we are.

But the Stop de Kindermoord (stop the child murder) movement led to dramatic changes in transportation and society that gave a higher priority to the lives and safety of children and other assorted human beings.

Because it’s not just children who are dying out there.

It just seems more heartbreaking when it’s a future full of possibilities that’s snuffed out.

We need something like that, right here and right now. Something that goes beyond just traffic to address all the reason parents have to rightfully fear for their children whenever they leave the relative safety of home.

And to keep those children safe from the countless boogeymen and women behind the wheel.

Or behind the trigger.

Because the most fundamental right of all should be the right of every child to grow up.

Update: Monrovia cyclist survives violent road rage assault; Ontario rider critically injured in hit-and-run

This has not been a good weekend for Southern California cyclists.

In addition to Saturday night’s collision that took the life of a Chatsworth bike rider, a rider was critically injured in deliberate motor vehicle assault in Monrovia, while a young Ontario bicyclist clings to life following an apparent hit-and-run.

……..

The Pasadena Star-News reports that 19-year old Anthony Pina of Glendora could be facing charges including DUI, hit-and-run, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon for a deliberate assault on at least one bike rider, as well as a motorist who tried to help.

The near-murderous rampage began a little before 6 am Saturday when a car matching the description of Pina’s 1987 Buick Regal collided with a 43-year old bike rider from El Monte, who has not been publicly identified, at the intersection of Mountain and Shrode Avenues just outside of Monrovia.

That collision may not have been intentional, according to police. But the decision to flee the scene, leaving the rider injured on the street, was.

About five to ten minutes later, Pina apparently aimed his car at a 63-year old bike rider at the intersection of Mountain Avenue and Royal Oaks Drive in a failed assault; again, the rider has not been publicly identified.

The bicyclist was not so lucky the second time.

Pina encountered the same cyclist a few blocks later at Huntington Drive and Mountain Avenue, where he reportedly carved donuts by repeatedly circling the bike before intentionally crashing into it. The rider was critically injured, but reportedly has stabilized following emergency surgery.

The paper reports there is no known connection between Pina and his victim.

Other than the fact he tried to kill him, that is.

As Pina once again fled the scene, he was followed onto the 210 Freeway by two men in a Mini Cooper who had witnessed the attack. When he discovered he was being followed, he pulled over to the side of the road, then deliberately crashed into the Mini Cooper before hitting the center divider and flipping his car.

Pina ran off on foot before being apprehended by an Azusa police officer minutes later. Remarkably, he was being held on just $50,000 bail pending a court appearance.

But let’s be clear about one thing. This is not a traffic case. Nor is it just another hit-and-run.

As the potential charges reflect, this was an attempt to murder another human being, followed by an attack on two others in a attempt to get away with the crime. The fact that he failed to kill his victim should not reduce the charges or the ultimate penalty in any way.

And neither should the fact he used a motor vehicle instead of a gun.

Thanks to BikeSGV for the heads-up.

Update: The Star-News reports that Monrovia police have concluded Pina did not know either rider, and the collisions with both were intentional; the CHP — which is running a concurrent investigation — may not be so sure. 

According to the MPD, Pina lay in wait for the second victim to pass after missing him the first time. 

The good news is, the second victim, who was the more severely injured of the two riders, is reportedly doing well and speaking with police. 

Update 2: According to the Star-News, Pina faces multiple charges. And deservedly so.

Anthony Pina, 19, was charged with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of drunken driving causing injury and two counts of hit-and-run causing injury, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. He was ordered to return to Pasadena Superior Court July 31 for a preliminary hearing setting. 

His bail was also increased, from a paltry $50,000 to a more appropriate $320,000.

……..

At least in the Pina case, we know what happened.

We can’t say the same for a teenage cyclist who suffered life-threatening injuries in Ontario Sunday morning.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the rider was found lying in the street at Riverside Drive east of Walker Ave around 12:36 am. There was no other vehicle present; however, police believe a motorist hit the rider while traveling east on Riverside before fleeing the scene.

The paper notes that the victim was not wearing a helmet, but does not indicate whether he suffered head injuries or if one would have been of any use in this case. A bike helmet offers no protection to any other part of the body, and is not designed to protect against high-speed collisions.

But let’s give the writer credit for not using the term “accident” anywhere in the story.

Police are looking for a dark colored car with front-end damage.

They believe the collision occurred sometime between 11:30 pm and 12:30 am. Which means the victim could have bled in the street for more than a hour before help arrived.

Let’s all hope he recovers from his injuries.

If he doesn’t, the driver should face a murder charge for denying him the prompt medical care that is the right of every traffic victim, and often means the difference between life and death.

Yet the driver who ran down this rider couldn’t be bothered to place a simple call for help before fleeing the scene like the coward he or she is. Let alone actually stop and render aid as the law requires.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Ontario Police Department at (909) 986-67811 or Detective Steve Hurst at (909) 395-2902.

Update: The victim, Horacio Pineda, died of his injuries Sunday night.

I hope you’ll join me in offering prayer, good thoughts, or whatever you are comfortable with for both of these victims for a full and fast recovery from their injuries. And for justice in both of these cases.

A little this, a little that — missing NY green lane, WeHo bike workshop, SaMo bike shooting suspect

Just a little light reading to get you through your Wednesday.

………

Remember those vivid green bike lanes that Hollywood says don’t exist anywhere else and are impossible to remove in post-production?

Evidently, not a problem in New York.

………

West Hollywood will host a workshop to help overhaul their bicycle and mobility plan this Saturday. The meeting takes place starting at 9 am at the WeHo library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd; the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition encourages anyone who rides or walks in the city to attend to help make the plan as powerful as possible,

………

Sign the petition to keep the bike lanes on Westmont Drive in San Pedro; thanks to Jennifer Gill for the link.

………

Santa Monica police have identified a suspect in the shooting of a bicyclist last Sunday. Oddly, they say it doesn’t appear to be related to the shooting of two men, one fatally, in the same area Tuesday morning — let alone the nearby shooting rampage on Friday.

You might want to avoid the area south of Pico Blvd in Santa Monica for awhile until things settle down.

………

A 13-year old L.A. boy has been missing since he was last seen riding his bike on Sunday. Bicycle Fixation looks forward to CicLAvia on the Miracle Mile. Bike Nation is seeking a Fortune 500 company to sponsor their bike share program; I could use one of those myself. A sponsor, that is. The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee now has a Facebook page. It’s a busy bike weekend at Flying Pigeon, with a Streetsblog fundraiser on Friday, LACBC’s RideFigueroa Saturday, and a Get Sum Dim Sum ride on Sunday. A look at the World Naked Bike Ride, L.A. edition. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department is fixing unclaimed bikes — actually, the inmates are — to donate to kids throughout the county. The woman who helped put bike lanes in Rolling Hills Estates has passed away. A Sierra Madre cyclist suffers minor injuries when a motorist fails to yield; thanks to John Lloyd for the heads-up. How not to lock your bike.

More money for bike and pedestrian projects in the new state budget, but Safe Routes to School programs are at risk. Santa Ana will build two secure bike parking facilities holding a total of just 36 bikes; evidently, not many riders need secure parking down there. It seems the facts are however you spin them, as a San Francisco grand jury says the city must do more to prevent bicyclists’ deaths — but all a Bay Area website hears is a call to crackdown on scofflaw cyclists.

Nice read on being an unwitting role model for little girls. A new Tucson Walgreens didn’t eliminate a bike lane in front of the store after all. If you’re going to make your getaway by bike, try to steal one your own size. Traffic laws apply to cyclists, even in Idaho. The teams have been announced for this year’s USA Pro Challenge. Colorado man spots his stolen mountain bike on eBay, leading to the arrest of a serial bike thief. A lesson from Kansas for all drivers — don’t kill people with cars; damn good advice if you ask me. A new Cincinnati app allows cyclists to report harassment and collisions.

Brit drivers are more miserable than they’ve been in 25 years. If you really want to be seen, ride a Penny Farthing. An Irish writer demonizes cyclists — literally — in calling for greater courtesy around pedestrians. A look at bicycling in Paris. Johan Bruyneel, former sports director for Lance’s various cycling teams, denies being a demon or putting anyone’s health at risk.

Finally, a self-identifying cyclist criticizes a “small, tiny, sub-section of cyclists” — the cam-wearing, lycra-clad aggressively mentally ill subsection, evidently. Something tells me the conversation he relates may not have occurred exactly the way he tells it.

If it occurred at all.

Actually, the Newport Beach Police Department gets it after all; Gardena may be another matter

No one gets it right all the time.

Myself included

But I have to respect anyone who can accept criticism. Especially when they actually do something about it. And particularly when the problem involves the often troublesome intersection of police and bikes.

That’s exactly what happened recently when I criticized the bicycling webpage of the Newport Beach Police Department.

As you may recall, I took them to task for offering bike safety advice that suggested cyclists should always ride to the right, while ignoring the many exceptions to CVC21202 that allow bike riders to take the lane for their own safety.

As well as disputing their recommendation to ride single file, a requirement which is contained nowhere in the California Vehicle Code.

My reasoning wasn’t just that they were wrong. It was that both bike riders and motorists might get the wrong idea from reading it, needlessly contributing to the conflicts on our streets.

The surprising part came a few days later when I received an email from bike riding NBPD Deputy Chief David McGill.

Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled my criticisms. But instead of arguing with me, he wanted to reach out to me to work together in addressing the problems facing bicyclists in Newport Beach.

As he put it,

When Jay Johnson was sworn in as our Chief of Police in 2010, he made bicycle safety an important part of the Department’s mission.  As a result, in the past several months the NBPD has increased their efforts to work together with the community and the City’s Citizen’s Bicycle Safety Committee (recently reformed as the Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee) to do what we can to help improve bicycle safety for all people who visit, live and work in Newport Beach.  Together with our partners, we have accomplished much in the past few years, but there is always more work to do.

When I took a second look at what I’d written, I realized that I’d come off a little harsher than I had intended for what was, in balance, good advice for bike riders. So I toned down my criticism of their website, while responding to his email to explain my objections.

Then, to be honest, I forgot all about it, as a continuing parade of various issues and crises, both personal and bike-related, took precedence.

But they didn’t.

This week I got another email from McGill saying the department had considered my suggestions. And actually acted upon them.

But more importantly, they got it right this time.

My only suggestion was to add the phrase “when traveling below the speed of traffic” to their advice about “riding furthest to the right.” And when I checked back before writing this, I saw that change had already been made.

Of course, we didn’t win on every count.

While they continue to interpret the vehicle code as not allowing side-by-side riding in most situations, it also seems to be a lower priority for the department. And they’ve removed the instruction to ride single file from their website.

I can live with that.

And you can’t ask for much more than a police department that is willing to listen to — and better yet, act on — criticism from the bike riding public.

NBPD Chief Johnson, and those who work for him, have won my respect.

And my gratitude.

………

Gardena might be another story.

According to the official version, police responding to a report of a robbery and/or stolen bicycle attempted to stop two men they spotted riding bikes. That’s when a third man ran up to them, and — allegedly — reached into his waist band.

Thinking he was reaching for a gun, the officers shot multiple times, killing him and wounding one of the other men.

But if he really was armed, no one has bothered to mention it yet.

Now witness reports are coming out that the victim, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was actually running with his hands in the air, rather than near his waistband. And he was trying to tell the officers that the two men were his friends, and weren’t involved in the theft.

In other words, he died because it was his bike that was stolen. And he was trying to help two friends who had nothing to do with the crime.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I understand that cops have their lives on the line, and things can go horribly wrong in any contact with the public. And that they have to make split-second decisions to protect both their own safety and those they are sworn to protect.

It’s easy for us to sit back and judge their actions after the fact. A lot harder to make those split-second decisions in real time, in real world situations.

But it looks like an innocent man — one of the L.A.’s area’s many bike riding Los Invisibles — became all too visible at exactly the wrong time, in front of cops who apparently reacted to what they thought was happening, rather than was actually was.

And now a man is dead because of it.

All because he was the victim of a bike theft, and some cops in an area with a large Latino population who apparently didn’t understand Spanish.

………

On a related note, KPFK’s Michael Slate Show will interview Sandra Cotton, sister of Terry Laffitte, who was fatally shot by police who initially attempted to pull him over for riding without lights last month.

The broadcast will air today — Friday — at 10 am on KPFK 90.7, streaming live at www.kpfk.org.

………

Finally, just a few more quick notes.

Nearly forgotten in the dust-up over New York’s bike share program is the fact that L.A.’s Bike Nation bike share program was supposed to be up and running by now. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton explains why it isn’t and maybe never will be.

The new mayor of Compton is young, female and an actual urban planner.

Volvo designs a safety system that can recognize a bike rider and apply the brakes before a collision can occur; thanks to Jeff White for the link.

An Alexandria VA bike advocate effectively rebuts the myth of the scofflaw cyclist; link courtesy of Kent Peterson.

John Grotz forwards a link to a video currently making the rounds showing a New York bike rider repeatedly cut off, then threatened in a Hassidic neighborhood before another man comes to his rescue. He notes this is the same neighborhood that successfully lobbied to have new bike lanes removed a few years back.

A Victoria BC mountain biker is nearly decapitated when a wire is strung across a bike trail in an apparent sabotage attack.

And a Brazilian billionaire’s son gets community service, loss of his license for two years and a nearly half million dollar fine — chump change for his family — for running down a bike rider in his $1.3 million Mercedes SLR McLaren.

And yes, he’s planning to appeal his very generous slap on the wrist.

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