Archive for Guest Columns

Guest column: Pam Leven’s last ride

I hate wrecks like this.

Not just because a popular local cycling leader died far too early. Or because people I care about have been hurt so deeply by such an unexpected loss.

But also because details in the death of LA Wheelman president Pam Leven last month have been so hard to come by. And what little we knew just didn’t seem to add up.

Like how such an experienced rider could suffer such devastating injuries in what seemed like an everyday collision between two bike riders.

I could only explain it by assuming they had crossed wheels while riding at speed. However, a rider named Ann, who was on the ride with Leven, left a comment claiming Leven was crossing on a green light at 5 mph when she somehow came in contact with another rider and went down with what turned out to be fatal injuries.

I offered to let her explain what she knew about the collision. While she didn’t actually witness it, she knew more about this troubling case than anyone other than the two people involved, one of whom will never tell her side of the story.

Or at least anyone who has yet come forward.

And let’s be very clear.

While she criticizes the prior behavior of the other rider involved, she makes it very clear that she does not know what actually happened in those fateful few moments. And is not blaming either Pam, the other rider or anyone else for what happened.

Though I might point a finger at the slow emergency response time, which has been a chronic problem here in LA.

………

Sunday, December 15, 2013.  Pam Leven’s Last Bike Ride

It was our usual Sunday Corner Ride (we start from the corner of Olympic and LaCienega in Los Angeles).  Part of the Los Angeles Wheelmen Bike Club, the Corner Ride starts at 9 AM and is easy going, not a racing ride.  We have some strong and some slow riders.  Usually, the same group rides in the Brentwood Hills, Hollywood Hills, Santa Monica, Griffith Park, or the South Bay.  The rides are between 30 to 50 miles long.  This particular Sunday was one our Newcomer Ride which Pam, an experienced and safe rider, was leading.  As usual, however, there were no “newcomers,” except for a woman who, although a long-time, skilled rider who completed many “double-centuries,” was returning from a long hiatus.

The ride was easygoing and uneventful.  Pam and the newbie were riding together in the back of the group.  Instead of climbing the hills of Beverly Hills and Brentwood, they took a more flat route, but we all pretty much stayed together.  At various places we stopped to wait for slow riders to catch up.  This is our custom and is always insured by our wonderful Corner Ride leader.

When I arrived to the corner of Sunset and Amalfi, most of the riders, including the experienced rider involved in Pam’s accident, crossed Sunset and were waiting on the southwest corner for the rest to catch up.  It was a long light.  Finally the light turned green, and I and another rider crossed the intersection heading south on Amalfi descending the slopped street at about 5 miles an hour.  Not far behind me, Pam was crossing the same intersection riding south on Amalfi at a similar speed.  Suddenly, I thought I heard Pam yell “Oh! Oh!”, and then there was a horrific sound of the crush of metal.  When I stopped and looked back, I saw Pam lying in the middle of the street on the pavement facing downhill.  The other rider involved in the crash, who had a large bruise or road rash on his left cheek, was kneeling at her side calling her name, and squeezing her hand.  She was not responding.  Someone called 911 for help.  Pam was lying on her stomach, her head facing right, and blood was flowing downward from her left ear or mouth, and her arms were resting along the sides of her body.  Her helmet was partially broken, but remained in place on her head.  The few of us gathered around her did not attempt to move her fearing possible neck injury.  As a registered nurse, I noted a strong radial pulse and she was breathing normally.  The paramedics arrived about 12 to 15 minutes later.

I did not see what had happened, but it appeared to me to be an obvious impact, and apparently, no one else witnessed what happened either.  Only the other rider and Pam know what happened, but Pam never regained consciousness and died a few days later.  The kind of “accident” that led to Pam’s death will never be fully understood.  Apparently, there are no guidelines or rules that require any investigation about such accidents.  Even if someone tried to figure out what happened, it would be difficult because someone moved both bikes to the sidewalk.  I did not see Pam’s bike after that, but I did notice that the other rider’s shifters were both facing outward.  Based on what I saw, it is my assumption that as Pam crossed the street they began to ride too close together.  It seems that when both bikes came into contact with each other, the handlebars became interlocked and the bikes came to a sudden stop.  It is possible that his curved handlebars might have hooked on Pam’s straight handlebars.  As they fell, it is quite possible that the other rider, who weighs about 200 pounds, may have fallen on top of Pam, a much smaller woman.  This scenario is suggested by the extent of Pam’s injuries; in addition to skull fractures, she also sustained a shoulder and hip fracture.

(Editor’s Note: It’s also possible that Leven’s bike may have flipped up and over the other bike if the handlebars became locked, which could also explain her injuries.)

If this accident had involved anyone else, I would not feel as angry as I do.  I have been riding with the Corner group for about ten years.  During this time, this rider was known to have a record of reckless riding.  This includes riding too fast and aggressively, riding too close to other riders and cars, listening to music while riding, rude behavior such as flipping off car drivers and verbally antagonizing other riders and belittling slower riders, and encouraging the group to ride ahead and not wait for them.  Last year, he made an unsafe move which caused another club rider to fall off the bike.  Luckily, they were riding along the bike path.  Had the other rider fallen on pavement and not on sand, this rider might have sustained severe facial injuries.  And not long ago, he broke his collarbone when he flew over his handle bars riding too fast downhill and hit a hump on the road.  As president of the Los Angeles Wheelmen, Pam had several discussions with him about his riding etiquette and style, but apparently, this is where it ended.

During a recent club meeting, I was told that the club does not keep an incident record of accidents or unsafe behavior.  I also learned that members of the club had noted that he had been on “good behavior” for some time, and in the end, accidents just happen.  Yes accidents do happen, and bicycling is a dangerous sport.  Riders assume a risk every time they get on their bike.  And in spite of the obvious dangers, we often feel omnipotent on our bikes, some of us ride too fast and ride too close to one another, we engage in conversations, multitask, listen to music while riding, ride on bad roads, and sometime share the roads with careless and impatient drivers, and some riders do not wear a helmet.  Needles to say, we all need to be more careful and pay close attention to our actions and surroundings, and reckless riders should not be allowed to ride with a group.

Pam did a great job as the President of the Los Angeles Wheelmen Bicycling Club.  She encouraged and welcomed new and old riders.  She listened patiently and always had a smile on her face.  She was a thinker, a reader and a writer and volunteered for many community organizations.  She will be missed very much.

As for me, I will not ride with the Los Angeles Wheelmen if any riders I consider reckless show up.  I am rethinking riding my road bike at all.  At home, I have a great stationary bike and with the right music, I get a wonderful workout.  Maybe, I’ll ride my mountain bike instead.  Riding with a friend or two on easy fire roads and trails away from cars and other bike riders might be more prudent.

Maybe I’ll just put my boots back on and start hiking again.

Rail-to-River comes to South LA, important meeting in BH, and e-bikes to help the recently homeless

We finally made it.

As you can see, things look a little different around here.

Which is a clear sign this site finally made the transition to a new server, the first step in transitioning to an advertising supported bike news site.

There are still some bugs to work out, including the fact that links from the old site haven’t followed over to the new one yet, and visitors to the old site aren’t automatically transferred over here.

Meanwhile, the design is just temporary, an attempt to replicate the old look and feel while we work on the cool new site to come.

So bear with me while we work out the bugs, and build a whole new bigger and better BikinginLA.

And thanks to everyone for the kind words of support in recent days.

I’m definitely feeling the love.

………

Big news from LA’s undiscovered country south of the I-10.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has joined with fellow Supervisor Gloria Molina to propose an 8.3 mile rail-to-trail conversion through the heart of South LA.

The proposed Rail-to-River trail would follow Slauson Avenue east from the future Crenshaw/LAX rail station in Inglewood to just north of Washington Blvd near the LA River. Which means that riders will finally have a direct off-road route from the LA River bike path most the way to the beach.

More importantly, bike riders — and potential riders — in one of LA’s most underserved areas will have a safe place to develop their skills and build a healthier lifestyle. And the county will turn an underutilized eyesore into an asset that could help revitalize the area.

What’s not to like?

The first meeting to discuss the trail will take place this Wednesday at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School, 644 E. 56th Street in Los Angeles.

Big thanks to Ridley-Thomas and Molina for bringing this to the table.

………

The Cyclist Down Facebook page reports yet another hit-and-run in Downtown LA.

A Cyclist was injured in a Hit & Run early Sunday morning in DTLA.

The cyclist suffered injuries to his wrist and a broke his nose in two places.

The incident occurred around 1 am near 4th & Hill. Cyclist was knock unconscious and does not remember the incident and was transported to a local hospital.

No further details available at this time.

Hopefully, we can find the jerk who left yet another rider bleeding in the street.

In case you have noticed, I effing hate hit-and-run drivers.

………

The Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills — upgraded from Black Hole thanks to some nice bike lanes on Burton Way — will host a meeting tonight to discuss the planned reconstruction of Santa Monica Boulevard through the city, including the possibility of bike lanes to fill the gap between lanes in Century City and West Hollywood.

The meeting will take place in the Municipal Gallery on the second floor of the Beverly Hills City Hall, 455 North Rexford Drive starting at 6 pm. If you ride through the city — or would if you felt safer on the streets — you owe it to yourself to be there.

Or at least voice your opinion on the comment page.

………

I’m not one to simply repost a press release.

In fact, most never make it any further than the trash bin on my email account.

But I’m going to make an exception this one time. Because not only is the piece unusually well-written, but it tells the tale of a young man determined to make a difference.

And we could use a lot more like him.

bikeshareLOS ANGELES, CA, December 9, 2013 – Formerly homeless residents at two Los Angeles supportive housing projects will soon have wheels to get to jobs and job training, school, interviews, medical appointments, sober meetings, and gatherings with loved ones – courtesy of a teenage Eagle Scout candidate and competitive bicyclist.

Diego Binatena of Boy Scout Troop 927 in Westchester learned that the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), a bicycle advocacy group, was looking for a good home for 20 electric pedal-assist bicycles that were sitting unassembled in a warehouse due to the closure of a bicycle company.

“A bicycle is a terrible thing to waste,” joked Binatena, a Scout since first grade, a bicycle commuter and national-level competitive racing cyclist. More seriously, said the Playa del Rey teenager, he created “Cycle Forward BIKESHARE” as his Eagle Scout Service Project to put the LACBC bicycles to use as transportation for formerly homeless youth and men trying to improve their lives.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Binatena is aware of the effects of poverty and homelessness. His mother, Julie Lansing, is the administrator of a rent-subsidy housing program for low-income families and chronically homeless adults.

“Our dinner table conversations were often about the problems of homelessness and how our family could help with solutions,” said Binatena. “My mother had us participate in food drives, adopt-a-family, and fundraising events. She taught us that everyone who cares about people in need can make a difference in their lives.”

Binatena found his partners and beneficiaries for BIKESHARE at two Los Angeles transitional housing agencies: Jovenes, Inc, in Boyle Heights and PATH La Kretz Villas in East Hollywood. Jovenes focuses on helping at-risk men ages 18-25 years and PATH provides intensive supporting housing for 48 residents.

“Moving around the city is a tremendous challenge for our residents, and this bike sharing program will make a real difference,” said Eric Hubbard, Development Director for Jovenes, Inc.

Be Prepared

Binatena launched his project in September and quickly learned that for his project, the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” required hard work, money and friends. After consulting with bicycle advocates, he set a $25,000 budget for the project. Beyond the bikes donated by the LACBC, valued at $1,000 each, he needed bike racks, safety equipment, locks, commuter bags, and safe-cycling program materials.

With a polished Power Point presentation in hand, Binatena got agenda time at the Westchester/Playa and East Hollywood Neighborhood Councils and the Westchester Rotary Club. He left all three meetings with checks in his pocket. He got donations from the South Bay and Los Angeles Wheelmen Bicycle Clubs and the Southern California Gas Co. He successfully solicited bicycle accessories, and safety equipment from KHS Bicycles, Collision & Injury Dynamics, and Planet Bike. He recruited fellow Scouts and friends to assemble the bicycles and racks.

Three months after project launch, Binatena exceeded his goal: He collected $2,700 in donations and $2,300 worth of bicycle equipment.

“I was not prepared for such a positive reaction from everyone,” he said.

Hard work and persistence are not new to Binatena. Bicycle racing requires planning, preparation and focus – plus countless hours on the bike in training to compete at a high level, he said. After winning the 2013 California Junior State Road Championships and other elite races, he was recruited by the USA Cycling National Team to race in Europe against the best in the world.

When Cycle Forward “BIKESHARE” is rolling at PATH and Jovenes, Binatena will present his service project to the Eagle Board of Review to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.

………

Finally, maybe you missed the uproar over the weekend about the overly-litigious gang that couldn’t shoot straight, as Specialized threatened to sue a small Canadian bike shop that dared to use the name Roubaix, which Specialized claims to own but really doesn’t.

No offense to local bike shops who carry the brand. But it’s going to be a long time before I’ll be willing to buy anything bearing the Specialized S. Evidently, I’m not the only one.

And no, an apology won’t be enough.

Not this time.

South Bay cyclist victim of a hit-and-walk

One of the primary arguments used to attack bicyclists lately has been the alleged carelessness — or aggressiveness — some bike riders show around pedestrians.

Never mind that a solid  collision between a cyclist and someone on foot is likely to result in injuries to both. And while people can point fingers at a handful of cases where careless riders have seriously injured — or even killed — pedestrians, it is a problem that goes both ways.

As just about anyone who has ever ridden any of Southern California’s beachfront bike paths can attest.

Case in point, this email I received yesterday from frequent South Bay contributor Jim Lyle.

Nine days ago, I was returning home from my morning ride up the coast.  As I navigated the bike path under the Redondo Beach pier, a woman ducked under the chain that separates the bike path from the pedestrian walkway directly in front of me.  I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting her and went down, hard.  As I hit the pavement, I heard a “pop” and knew it wasn’t going to be a good thing.  I unclipped and tried to get up, but couldn’t bear any weight on my left leg due to the pain.

Here’s where it gets surreal.  The woman, with a bunch of her friends, did not offer to help me, did not ask if I was OK, or if I was hurt; they simply walked away as if nothing had happened.  Does that qualify as a “hit and walk?”

I was able to pull myself up using the bike to lean on and hobbled to an open area where I had cell phone coverage.  I called a friend who lives near the pier and asked her to come get me.  She arrived, put the bicycle in the truck bed, but I couldn’t get into the cab, it was too high and it hurt too much to move the leg.  I started to go into shock, tunnel vision and losing consciousness.  My friend called 911.  The EMTs arrived, put me on a gurney, and transported me to emergency.  X-rays revealed I had snapped a bone on my femur, but there was no displacement.  They gave me pain meds and crutches and sent me home.  I return to the orthopod in a couple of weeks to make sure there’s been no movement of the bone and I’m on the road to recovery. Otherwise, they’ll have to do surgery.  Meanwhile, I’m moping around the house feeling sorry for myself.  It could have been worse, much, much worse.

As you know, it is illegal (CVC and city ordinances) for pedestrians to use the beach bike path.  There are signs posted and “BIKES ONLY” is painted on the path every few yards.  Because these laws are not enforced, pedestrians, nannies, dog walkers, skaters, illiterates, and scofflaws use the bike path instead of the pedestrian walkway which is often within spitting range.  I always knew this created a dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians. And, now, I’m a victim.

In the past, a polite “on your left” or “bikes only, please” would be sufficient.  In future, when I’m back riding, I am no longer going to be very pleasant when I encounter the brain dead idiots who insist on endangering my health.  Police chiefs in the beach cities are going to know my name.  All it would take is a little public education and the occasional ticket to make the beach safe for all users, on two wheels or none.

I’m still fuming about the lack of humanity shown by people.  Surely, they’re in a minority, or are they?

Make no mistake.

Pedestrians are the only class of road users more vulnerable than we are. And we need to go out of our way to protect their safety, especially when riding on sidewalks and through crosswalks, where they should have unquestioned right-of-way.

And yes, I’ve seen cyclists plow through a crowded crosswalk, seemingly oblivious to the harm they may cause. And a Santa Monica cyclist was recently convicted, fairly or not, of assault with a deadly weapon for doing just that.

But as Jim’s email suggests, we aren’t always the problem. And we are just as vulnerable to their carelessness as they are to ours.

One other point.

Had he been able to stop the woman, she could have been held liable for his injuries, just as a bicyclist can be held legally liable for injuring a pedestrian. Or another bike rider, for that matter.

But whether she could be charged with leaving the scene of a collision is a question I can’t answer.

Happy anniversary to me, support the Rowena road diet, bike bills move forward, and a hot mess o’links

Maybe somebody should bake me a cake.

Remarkably, it’s been six years since I started this blog, mostly in an effort to blow of steam in response to the city’s unforgiving streets and uncaring leaders.

I had no idea I’d still be writing it over half a decade, 1413 posts and well over a million page views later. Let alone where it would take me.

Or that those mean streets would be a little safer, with bikeways that actually go somewhere, and plans for more. And with more bike riders on them. Along with city and county leaders who actually support them, and us, most of the time.

As opposed to those who say they do.

Back in those dark days, it was hard to find stories about bicycling in the press.

But as you can see from the links below, that’s changed, too.

………

Come out to support the Rowena road diet in a special evaluation meeting—  held just 90 days after its implementation — at 5 pm today at the Silverlake Community Church; nice of them to hold the meeting at a time most people won’t be able to attend.

Let alone demand results when it’s still too early to tell.

………

AB184, which would extend the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases, moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee, while the three-foot passing bill unanimously clears a final committee vote before moving on to the full Senate.

And, based on previous experience, a possible third veto by our bike-unfriendly governor who’s likely to Jerry Brown us once again.

………

Both Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and Melissa Balmer of Women on Bikes SoCal politely ask the owners of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press-Telegram and Star-News, et al, not to do a hatchet job on us in their Summer of Cycling series.

Based on the tone they’ve set so far, I wouldn’t count on it.

………

The Westside’s incoming and outgoing councilmembers join forces to fix a dangerous intersection on the Expo Line Bikeway, while a groundbreaking ceremony will be held Thursday at 2 pm for the accompanying Westwood Neighborhood Greenway. Flying Pigeon describes Sunday’s Wilshire CicLAvia as a Sea of Tranquility; works for me. Anti-bike bias is preventing a more pedestrian-friendly North Figueroa. Where’s the controversy over the First Street green bike lane; doesn’t Hollywood film in Boyle Heights? L.A.’s much vaunted Bike Nation bikeshare program won’t hit the streets until 2014, at best. Metro profiles a streets maintenance helper who’s biked to work through the mean, truck-laden streets of the City of Commerce for the past 10 years, which trumps anything I’ve done here on the Westside. You’re invited to the 3rd annual South LA, Peace, Love, and Family Ride & Fair 2013 on Saturday, July 6th. A fundraiser will be held for Ride2Recovery to support wounded vets Sunday, July 7th at Gem City Grill in Monrovia. Zócalo Public Square will host a discussion titled Will the Bicycle Kill the Car? at Grand Park on Friday, July 12th; odd that they’d talk about bicycling without inviting any bicycle advocates. Claiming the sun was in his eyes doesn’t absolve a driver for running into a cyclist, after all. Bike SGV will host a Bike Train BBQ and Celebration on Sunday, June 30th. The Pomona Valley Bike Coalition invites you to bike and hike Fish Canyon Falls this Saturday. CLR Effect has had it with salmon cyclists and cell phone talking girls with one hand on the handlebars.

The Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee —NBBMPOC? Would that be pronounced Nubbumpoc? — meets at 5 pm on Monday. The San Diego Velodrome honors fallen cyclist Jackie Drake. San Diego’s Imperial Beach will soon get a bike path adjacent bikeway village. NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan urges bold action to remake the streets of San Francisco. Probably not a good idea to crash into a motorcycle cop making a traffic stop. A planned bike path around Lake Tahoe moves another mile closer to completion. Sure, an Oroville man killed three people with a shotgun and set their bodies on fire in a stolen car, but at least he rode a bike back from the dump site.

The Bike League looks at laws requiring bike riders to use separated bikeways. People for Bikes offers advice for successful group rides. Rutger’s famed bicycling professor John Pucher says riding in Seattle is worse than Manhattan. A Seattle public radio station asks if bikes could be part of the answer in disaster; all I know is, zombies can’t eat your brains if they can’t catch you — or if you’re wearing a bike helmet, for that matter. Turns out my hometown is first runner-up for most bike-friendly city in Colorado; tell ‘em to call me if they ever want to be #1. An Iowa man survives 28 years in the Marine Corps only to be killed riding his bike. A writer bizarrely claims 100-mile group rides represent the Chicago’s craziest bicycling subculture; dude, it’s only crazy if you’ve never done it. A Chicago bike lawyer discusses whether you need insurance when you ride. Maine cyclists decry a pro-motorist bias. Seriously, do we need a stock report on the car brand driven by a hit-and-run driver embedded in a story about his New Jersey bicycling victim’s death? Bike funding is under attack once again, this time in Pennsylvania.

Bicycling is up an estimated 7% worldwide. Trek gets back into big time bike racing, buying the RadioShack-Leopard team for next year, which means we can now pronounce it trek instead of lee-o-pard. Aside from the headline, a Vancouver writer makes some good points about scofflaw cyclists. A sidewalk-riding Canadian cyclist faces hit-and-run charges in the death of a pedestrian. A London writer asks why drivers are in such a hurry to kill bicyclists. In the face of a nearly 20% increase in cycling fatalities over the last five years, it’s time for real government action in Scotland. Bicycling collisions are up an alarming 64% in one Indian state. An enterprising Japanese bike thief auctions bikes off before stealing them back.

Finally, a bike-hating victim-blaming Charleston writer claims you’re more likely to die commuting by bike, so let’s not do anything to make it safer or encourage it; actually, your risk of dying in a car is nearly twice as high on a per hour basis, so maybe we should stop encouraging that, instead. Meanwhile, Toronto police says doorings are like a sunny day.

And there’s nothing like flatting in the hood on the way back from CicLAvia.

Catching up on CicLAvia, bike lawyer Dj Wheels unmasked, and I meet one of my few bike heroes

People have been asking me what I plan to say about Sunday’s CicLAvia to the Sea.

At this point, not much.

As a result of the delay caused by this week’s breaking news, others have already offered the insights I was going to give, and in some cases, better than I would have done.

Like this one for instance, in which a USC professor pretty much took the words right out of my mouth.

No, go ahead and read it.

I’ll wait.

………

One of the highlights of any CicLAvia is running into friends along the way.

And this one certainly didn’t disappoint, offering a chance to catch up with former LACBC board member Chet Kostrzewa, who followed up with some insights that might never have occurred to me.

I wanted to pass on some of my own thoughts and observations I made, while teaching basic bike skills to a group of very young riders and watching the inspiring sight of upwards of 150,000 people enjoying taking the street for those few hours. CicLavia has very quickly grown to be an institution, an event to look forward to and count on as an antidote to the traffic fatigue that too many of us endure on a daily basis. As inspirational as CicLavia has become, however, what seems to me to be missing is an inherent motivator in the event that empowers people to see this as a game changer in their lives and not just a rare distraction from the routine on our streets. The sad reality is that starting the next morning and succeeding days until the following CicLavia, River Ride or other bike event, only a very small fraction of those bikes will be getting much new mileage on them.

There are probably as many good reasons to ride regularly and to ride often as there were bicyclists between downtown and Venice yesterday, here is a short list that came to my mind from talking to a variety of bicyclists yesterday:

  1. All the young riders I coached yesterday were, without exception, excited about riding their bikes and taking the challenge of trying out new skills. Unfortunately, without a broad based bicycle skills curriculum in our schools, such learning opportunities offer only a single snapshot in what should be a gradual and incremental development process. The challenge and opportunity here, would be for the parents of these beginning riders to take on the task of role model and long term coach, guiding their development over an extended period toward becoming fully street smart and confident cyclists. The game changer for these parents is to improve their own skills, such as through a confident cycling class, such as taught by League Certified Instructors (LCIs) from the League of American Bicyclists.
  2. While teaching beginning cyclists during CicLavia, I had the opportunity to talk to parents and other adults who stopped to comment and, in some cases, ask for tips to improve their own cycling experience. Many of these casual riders were on bikes that were clearly poorly maintained and which did not fit their riders. One woman I spent some time coaching started our conversation by complaining about how physically difficult the ride down Venice Blvd. was for her. It was quickly evident that her immediate problem was that she had no idea how to shift out of the highest gear on her bike. Her total exposure to cycling was to drag her rusting bike out for just one or two days a year and muscle her way through just a few miles in high gear, before calling it quits until the next CicLavia. With a basic tune up and brief lesson on how to use her bike, it would be a small step to an easy game changer. Instead of just dragging the bike out for those very rare occasions, find weekly opportunities to make a bike ride special. Maybe breakfast out on Sunday morning by bike, or a short daily ride as a stress busting habit right after the evening commute home.
  3. Use technology to facilitate riding and as a feedback tool to improve your riding and fitness level. A basic bike computer provides a wealth of data to measure your results, while providing a tool for setting new goals for improvement. Other technology makes it increasingly easy to insert a bicycle in place of a car in our daily routines. The bus bike racks and increasing number of bike lockers along key transport routes make it easy and economical to start to use a bike for part of all of a commute. Recent bike design technology, such as the highly engineered folding bikes Tern Bicycles was demonstrating at CicLavia make it possible to take your bike with you anywhere. This opens a whole new world of bicycling opportunities, whether as part of a daily routine, or an easy way to enhance a vacation getaway. The game changer here is to realize that technology makes the bicycling experience more flexible, convenient and economical in many scenarios than the typical paradigm of transport being limited to where your car can take you along with a just a few additional blocks you can conveniently walk once you get there.

CicLavia is a fantastic enabler to get rarely used bicycles out of garages and on the road. All most of us need is just a little help and a couple of mental and physical tools to experience a major paradigm shift to move the bicycle from a toy of last resort to become a key tool for enhancing our daily lives. Hopefully a few other of the 150,000 on Venice Blvd yesterday are having similar thoughts tonight and will be changing the urban roadscape in the days and weeks ahead.

………

Another friend I ran into along the way was someone most readers of this blog should know by now, at least by his bike de plume.

Dj Wheels has been a key contributor here for the past several years, offering legal updates and insights on many of the cases involving bicyclists.

It was Wheels who broke the news that Christine Dahab had pleaded guilty and was going to jail; in fact, he told me she started her 90 day evaluation behind bars on Monday.

And it was Wheels who reported from inside the courtroom in the trial of road raging L.A. bike boogeyman Dr. Christopher Thompson, enabling me to scoop the major media and break the news to the world when he was convicted.

So I’ve long been frustrated that I couldn’t tell you who he really is while a court case he was involved in dragged through the legal system. But Sunday, he let me know the case was finally finished.

And I was free, finally, to reveal his identity.

Granted, it may not be a big secret in some circles of the Los Angeles cycling community, where he has long been a popular member.

But for those who don’t know, allow me to introduce Daniel F. Jimenez, Esq.

Jimenez is one of the few lawyers I know who has made bike law his specialty, rather than just an area of practice. And unlike many lawyers, he doesn’t limit the cases he takes on to potentially high-payout liability lawsuits.

Yes, he takes the cases of injured cyclists on a contingency basis, just like most other lawyers. But he has also represented riders in everything from criminal cases to simple traffic violations, and even defended a rider who collided with a pedestrian and was being sued for the injuries he suffered.

Southern California cyclists are lucky to have a number of excellent bike lawyers; I can personally recommend many of the men and women you’ll find listed over there on the right.

But any time someone asks me for a good lawyer to represent a bike rider, you can bet that Daniel Jimenez will be on the list.

………

The Times offers a look at CicLAvia and decides it gives L.A. a small town feel, even though some motorists grumble; then again, I’d grumble too if I was stuck in my car when so many Angelenos were out having fun. Many people complained about the bike congestion caused by closing just half of Venice for CicLAvia; outgoing Councilmember Bill Rosendahl says plans are already in the works to repeat CicLAvia to the Sea next year — and this time, with both sides closed to vehicular traffic.

Streetsblog offers a lively discussion of the day, and notes that for some it was more than just fun. For others, it was the smells that were most memorable. Even the Mayor rode on Venice once again, this time without falling down. Leading mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti rode at CicLAvia; if opponent Wendy Gruel was there, I haven’t seen any sign of it yet. Flying Pigeon offers suggestions to make L.A.’s happiest day even better. A road racer does her first CicLAvia and asks WTF just happened? KPCC’s Larry Mantle talks CicLAvia with co-founder and Executive Director Aaron Paley.

And clearly, the Stoopidtall bike was the hit of the day.

………

Finally, I’m not much on heroes.

I learned early in life that they too often turn out to be human, and so, likely to let you down. See Armstrong, Lance; Hart, Gary.

But one exception has always been track cyclist and US Bicycle Hall of Fame member Nelson Vails, who captured a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and helped prove that Americans — and African-Americans — could hold their own at the highest levels of the traditionally white European sport.

So excuse me if I was just a little awed — rather than merely odd, which I freely confess to — when I ran into Eastside bike advocate Carlos Morales, the new owner of Stan’s Bike Shop in Monrovia. And he introduced me to the man sitting next to him in the bike car they rode at CicLAvia.

And if Nelson Vails wants to give a shout out to his friends at Stan’s, far be it from me to say no.

Guest post: A review of high-intensity rear lights for improved safety, day or night

Awhile back, OC cyclist Mark Goodley wrote a guest post calling for cyclists to ride with ultra bright bike lights both day and night for increased safety, following his own near-fatal riding collision

At the time, he mentioned he was working on a review of some of the brightest lights on the market, which would be easily visible in daylight. So I offered to post his review once he got it finished. 

And here is it, representing an exceptional amount of work and out-of-pocket expense.

……..

STAY WELL LIT and You Won’t be HIT!!!

In other words

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride Ultra BRIGHT, DAY And night”

A Bicycle Light Review

By Mark D. Goodley

Introduction: As a quick start; I was hit and almost killed last year by a car making an illegal turn… I was a lucky survivor. Many are not so fortunate. Even though I ride an average of 10K miles/yr., I’d never been a bike advocate or activist before; but seeing your own blood draining onto the street changes you. Within weeks of being released from the hospital, I started looking for a solution to the carnage. We had two more fatalities the next month further raising the stakes. What was the most expedient, reliable, and cost effective mechanism to preventing/stopping the fatalities?

You can say and preach all you want about driver and rider safety and education, but the truth is, you’re never going to get to every driver or rider. There had/has to be other options. I looked in all directions and researched numerous possibilities, and one statistic I found leapt out against all the others… To date, I have not found one, not a single fatality, hit from behind accident, (which out number all other cycling fatality accidents 2:1), when the cyclist was riding with today’s ultra bright rear lights turned on… that started me on the trek…  If you can give the driver 5-10 seconds (.1-.2 tenths of a mile at highway speeds) advance warning of your presence, you will not (at least statistically) have problems. In fact, from my and many others reported experiences, most every driver that passes you will appreciate the simple and effective “heads up” warning.

Cutting directly to the chase scene: Wear multiple ultra brite lights, day and night..  As a good rule of thumb; If  you can look directly at the light, it’s not even close to being brite enough. All the lights in this article are retina searing, some, more  than others.

The bottom line is, that after many months of searching police and sheriff records following my accident this past June, I still can’t find one rear end cycling fatality where the rider had ultra-bright rear lights flashing at the time of the accident. That is an impressive statistic to say the least; and one that no cyclist should ignore, take lightly, nor not heed.

Abstract:

Determining which rear end lights were most effectively seen, day and night by drivers. There are many dozens of lights to choose from. Which lights can be seen most easily? Which are the best Price/Performance options?

The minimum lighting standard I set for inclusion in this review was the light must be clearly visible flashing, in the daytime  .1 mile (one-tenth of a mile). At highway/road speeds, that represents between 10 and 20 seconds warning to the driver. An eternity in reaction time, and an early warning system to drivers.

A total of only 11 lights met this criteria, many more did not. Any of these lights will greatly enhance your chances of staying alive on the road. But there are profound differences between Good, Better, and Best, as you will see.

Prices ranged from $25-$200.

I intentionally did not make it easy to meet this standard. For the visibility tests, I chose early morning, around 8-8:30AM, bright cloudless days, when the sun was low on the horizon. The lights were placed roughly only 10 degrees east (North) of being directly into the sun. This is exactly the time when most cyclists have been killed, early morning or late afternoon, riding towards the sun.

Determining which is the best light is impossible. It would be the same as saying which bicycle is the “best.” Everyone has their own needs and budget. What works best for Fred doesn’t for Wilma, etc.

Please note, that as a matter of practical usage, ALL lights/batteries tested were rechargeable, in one manner or another. The intent was/is to take the typically heard excuse for not using lights, “I didn’t want to run my batteries down”, completely out of the equation.  Some lights were tested with rechargeable AA/AAA batteries, while others were USB rechargeable… In any case, no one can use that excuse again. Lights that did not have a rechargeable option were not tested, and in fact, are being erased from the market.

A power meter

A power meter

One light characteristic and function that becomes important to note to the reader is “lensing.” A light can appear to be extremely bright from one angle, but quickly loses effectiveness only a few degrees off this primary angle. To further complicate matters, more LED’s in a light may or may not be perceived as brighter, depending upon the relative photon count coming out from the individual LEDs. Therefore every light is a compromise of LED brightness, lensing focus brightness, viewable angle brightness, # of LEDs, and battery runtime.

P1020098

Testing LED lights is technically challenging. Numerous methods have been used over several decades. For this study I roughly followed the Modified Allard method for effective intensity. This calibrated protocol was combined with visual comparisons at .1 mile and .25 mile. The  empirical results of these protocols, were averaged.

Newport Corporation Optical 1918-R Power meter for determining overall light power, and Newport Corp optical table

Newport Corporation Optical 1918-R Power meter for determining overall light power, and Newport Corp optical table

Next, while the flashing color red denotes a heightened state of awareness in our minds, red lenses typically reduce overall perceived power by a significantly large factor. Again, everything is a compromise. Lastly; runtime of each light was tested and noted. The minimum was approx. 2 hours, which is usually acceptable  for a commuter who can and will recharge their lights at work, but not so good for the road cyclist who’s putting in 4-6 hours, and will be left unprotected.

Lastly,  note that all lights were paid for. None were “donated.” I wanted to eliminate any potential or possibility of the results being questioned or perceived as “bought” or “mailed in.” When multiples of light from a given mfg were tested, some were purchased at a discount which was appreciated to save my personal wallet a bit, but all were bought. Many of the lights were purchased at retail, multiples from some mfg’s.

  1. Best Overall Combined Brightest Light
  2. Best Price/Performance Light
  3. Brightest Single Angle tested Light
  4. Most Innovative light (and likely to be copied by competitors)
  5. Best Commuter Light

So, due to the large number of variables in testing, it seemed fairest to set several categories to list the order of finish, and “award” the winner, and hence for you to choose from: Each light has its own Strength and Weaknesses. What’s important to note is that all lights in this review passed the most basic of tests: Can the light be clearly seen flashing by a driver from a minimum of .1 mile (one-tenth of a mile)?

This is a non retouched pic showing a light at .1 mile distance.  You can see even from this singular, non-flashing photo that the light is clearly visible.  The pic does not do the flashing, justice.

This is a non retouched pic showing a light at .1 mile distance. You can see even from this singular, non-flashing photo that the light is clearly visible. The pic does not do the flashing, justice.

Quickly (skip this paragraph if not interested in testing protocols).

How do you test for brightness? This is not as EZ as it map first appear. There are numbers of industrial, military, auto, and FAA lighting standards, and none for cycling. I chose to loosely follow the Modified Allard method which is the most common, and augment the approach with visual confirmation. This incorporates very high end testing equipment such a Lab spheres, CCD spectrometers, Optical power meters, and finally, after the numbers were in; good ole’ eyeballs. Lights were tested by observers at .1 mile and then at .23 mile, both directly line of sight, and then approx.. 30 deg. off axis center line. All lights were tested with full charges, either from their own USB batteries, or fully charged Li+ rechargeable purchased from Costco. Lights and mounts were weighed and noted in grams.

For a complete analysis description, protocol, data taken, etc., please see website or write.

Newport Corporation

http://www.labsphere.com/products/light-measurement-systems/led-ssl-systems/lcs-led-characterization-systems/default.aspx

LabSphere

http://www.labsphere.com/products/light-measurement-systems/led-ssl-systems/lcs-led-characterization-systems/default.aspx

1.  The Top 11 lights tested (in OVERALL combined viewpoint- Brightest order)

  • DINOTTE 300L $200 USD This light is very bright (though not the brightest) from all possible viewing angles.  It also has the longest battery life, USB rechargeable, and nicest flashing pattern. It suffers in cost and weight.
  • SERFAS TL-60  $60USD WOW doesn’t seem to do justice to this little dynamo. Placing first in brightness both on the meters and visually, USB rechargeable, decent runtime, weight and EZ mounting options for frame and helmet. This guy was the surprise entry. Suffers only in viewing angle. Ride with two or three and you’re set.
  • NIGHTRIDER Solas USB http://www.niterider.com/ This is a Great Light. A Very Bright, and Very Well built light.  This  was the third brightest light. The light angle spread is wider than most of the others, including the TL-60 above it. The design works well on both helmet and frame. I used electricians tape to cap off the end when using it on my helmet. Can’t go wrong here.
  • PLANET BIKE Turbo Super Flash $30USD I’ve bought at least half of dozen of these over the years… They’re reliable, bright, good flashing patter, affordable, run forever, and EZ to mount. Close on the Price/Performance curve, but not in the same brightness category as the two above it.
  • CATEYE Rapid 5 This all-time favorite is historically one of the best lights ever manufactured and set the standard for many years, and can still holds its own.
  • NIGHTRIDER Cherry Bomb  Another strong entry from NightRider, not in the same briteness category as the others above, but a good light nonetheless. A very nice light, extremely well built, you can feel the quality of everything about this light.
  • BONTRAGER Flare Nothing wrong with this guy,  good briteness, just not in the same category as the first few… Good mount and EZ to use.
  • PLANET BIKE Super Flash My defacto standard for many years and still a very reliable, long running worker… Briteness has been passed in the last year by it’s Turbo sibling and the others above.
  • SERFAS Thunderbolt Yellow; SERFAS Thunderbolt Red These two lights have taken the world by storm. Instead of a string of singular, tightly focused LED bulbs, the Thunderbolts utilizes an entirely different technology emphasizing a new Wide Beam approach. Although not as intrinsically bright as the top entries, the Wide Beam pattern really gets your attention as you get closer… and it’s the only light tested that is meant to be attached to the seat stays and forks… This light is a revolution. It suffers only in runtime, about 2 hours, which is more than enough for most commuters, but not in the running for road cyclist needs.
  • CATEYE Rapid 3 A decent light in a pinch and fine at night. But nowhere in the same category as the above top Escalon. It just barely made the minimum criteria.

2. Best Price/Performance Light

3. Brightest Single Angle tested Light

4. Most Innovative light (and likely to be copied by competitors)

  • THUNDERBOLT Pair of RED/YELLOW

5. Best Commuter Light Conclusion:

  • THUNDERBOLT RED/YELLOW COMBINED
  • TL-60
  • CATEYE Rapid 5
  • ALL the ABOVE
Pic below; from top left clockwise: 1. Dinotte 300, 2. Serfas TL-60, 3. Planet Bike Turbo 4. Planet Bike Flash, 5. Nightrider Cherry Bomb 6. Blue Test light (not reviewed), 7. Night Rider Sola, 8. Serfas Thunderbolt Yellow, 9. Serfas Thunberbolt Red, 10. Cateye Rapid 5, 11. Bontrager Flair

From top left clockwise: 1. Dinotte 300, 2. Serfas TL-60, 3. Planet Bike Turbo 4. Planet Bike Flash, 5. Nightrider Cherry Bomb 6. Blue Test light (not reviewed), 7. Night Rider Sola, 8. Serfas Thunderbolt Yellow, 9. Serfas Thunberbolt Red, 10. Cateye Rapid 5, 11. Bontrager Flair

While any of these lights will greatly increase the odds of avoiding mishaps on the road and help to SAVE YOUR Life, there is a definite pecking order…  Buy the best that your wallet can afford. Increasing Brightness means early warning distance, and distance means time to avoid you.

I highly recommend riding with multiple flashing lights. You will not be missed. One on your helmet, one on your seat post pointed level, slightly to the left towards traffic (to the right in UK), and at least one on your back seat stay. If you wear a backpack, at least one if not two more.

 List Review Spreadsheet  
  Mfg Model BRITENESS Retail Weight Battery Runtime
    RATING 1-5 $ USD      
DINOTTE 300L

4.5

200

  USB 4 hr+
SERFAS TL-60

5

60

  USB 4 hr+
NIGHT RIDER SOLA

4

45

  USB 4+ hr.
PLANET BIKE SUPER FLASH TURBO

3

30

  AAA 4+ hr.
CATEYE RAPID 5

3

30

  AAA 4+ hr.
BONTRAGER FLAIR

2.5

30

  AAA 4+ hr.
SERFAS THUNDERBOLT

2

45

  USB 120 min
NIGHT RIDER CHERRY BOMB 1 W

2

25

  AAA 4+ hr.
 
Mark D. Goodley
USA Cycling Pro Race Mechanic
markdgoodley@aol.com

Today’s post, in which I post elsewhere

Just a quick note.

I’ll be writing a series of articles on bicycling in Santa Monica for LA Streetsblog over the next several days. The first, an apology to the city and people of Santa Monica for opposing the city’s designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community, appears today; others will appear next week.

Meanwhile, no more information yet regarding the cyclist killed in San Diego last night. I’ll update the story as details become available.

Tonight’s post, which is not about bicycling at first, though I try to make up for it later

Some days, life just doesn’t make sense.

And this was one, in spades, as the unfolding joy of the holiday season was shattered once again by yet another madman with a gun.

I won’t make the comparison, as some have done, to the carnage on our streets. Yes, both needlessly waste precious human life, snatching innocent victims from their loved ones breasts.

But this is different.

This was an intentional choice to kill and kill again. It was not the result of distraction or drunkenness; it did not stem from carelessness or flaunting the laws that govern the roads we all share.

This was an act of gut-wrenching insanity. A heinous crime against God and man.

No rational person could point a gun at a child and pull the trigger. Let alone do it 20 times, then take the life of another eight adults.

Yes, there is madness on our streets.

But it doesn’t begin to compare to the madness that allows this to happen over and over, all over the country.

There will be other nights to address the long list of problems on our streets. But not this night.

This is a night for prayers for people we don’t know. And now never will.

And for those who loved and nurtured them, and now face an eternally aching hole in their lives and hearts that can never be filled.

We are all devastated.

And yes, I’ve said it before.

But let’s not let another day pass without telling those we love that we do. Hug those you can; call those you can’t.

Share the simple joy of having one another in our lives in this season of miracles.

Do it now, before it’s too late. Because one day it will be.

Tomorrow we can all commit to doing all we can to ensure that this will never happen again.

Because it’s happened too many times already.

And it will again.

If we don’t.

………

image004

Burbank Bike Angels hard at work

Nothing warms my heart more than people who go out of their way to share a little joy with kids who might not otherwise find anything under the tree on Christmas morning.

That’s why I’m a big fan of things like the 7th Annual All City Toy Ride that — hopefully — took place on Friday if the rain held off long enough.

And even more when bikes are involved as more than just a form of transportation.

Like the work of volunteers with the Burbank Bike Angels, who spent the last three months refurbishing bikes and restoring them to like new condition. And resulting in the delivery of 150 bikes to the Salvation Army to distribute to kids in need, along with another 50 bikes for other organizations.

Their work is just about done for this year.

But there’s always next year. They’re asking you for any used bikes — especially children’s bikes — and monetary donations so they can give away even more bikes next year. As well as volunteers to turn those unloved bikes into sparkling new gifts to inspire better health and a love of bicycling in a new generation.

If you can offer any help, whether bikes, money or time — or all of the above — call the Burbank Recycle Center at 818/238-3900.

Love the bike riding bear in the lower right

Love the bike riding bear in the lower right

………

Fifty-eight candidates qualified for next March’s L.A. city elections; all but eight are running for city council seats. The LACBC’s Operation Firefly brings bike lights to South L.A. Flying Pigeon says North Fig doesn’t have to be a killer neighborhood. Getting back on a bike isn’t always like riding a bike. Orange County motorists discover ghost bikes, far too many of which have taken root in the county this year. San Diego counts bikes countywide, while the San Diego Bicycle Coalition says this was the year bikes boosted local business. Thousand Oaks gets a new semi-green bike lane. Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor train line may be looking into a bike share program.

If you’re wondering what to buy your bike riding — or bike curious — friends, consider this review of Elly Blue’s Everyday Bicycling. Nevada begins work on an off-road bike path on their side of Lake Tahoe. Bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users all outspend Portland drivers at area small businesses; NBC picks up the story, as well. A high Seattle driver is charged with attempting to run over a bicycling off-duty cop after he tells her to stop smoking heroin. A 62-year cyclist from my hometown is recovering from a hit-and-run he can’t even remember. A man gets a whopping 30 days for threatening a Montana cyclist with a switchblade. Chicago cyclists get a new two-way cycletrack. Road riding can bring up all kinds of emotions, most of them good. A writer for the New York Times Magazine offers an insightful and very funny sequel to the year-old piece we linked to yesterday, in response to the anti-bike screed from the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo. New York’s upcoming bike share program is just the latest sign of the city’s revived bicycle culture. If you’re a convicted felon carrying a concealed weapon, don’t ride your bike while drunk.

A Canadian driver right hooks a cyclist, so naturally police ticket the cyclist for riding in a crosswalk — even though the driver had a suspended license. The GranFondo Banff has to develop a new wildlife plan after grizzly bears forced a 40 kilometer reduction in last year’s route. A London driver is acquitted of fatally dooring a cyclist, despite having tinted windows that only allowed 17% visibility. The bike riding journalist whose near-fatal collision inspired the London Times CycleSafe campaign remains hospitalized 13 months later, while the distracted truck driver who put her there gets off with a £2,700 fine and eight months suspended license. An open letter urges the British Judiciary to give a damn about the lives of cyclists in response, while a London blogger struggles to understand. Cambridge police crack down on anti-social cycling; apparently, anti-social driving is still okay. YouTube offers a new bike channel in conjunction with a British bicycling communications channel. A UK writer says cyclists need to give respect in order to get respect; odd that no one ever says that about motorists. The 100th edition of the Tour de France will start in Corsica, while the 101st begins in Yorkshire, England; after most of the recent titles have been vacated, does anyone still care? Your next mountain bike could come from Andorra; no, not the tv witch. In honor of the holidays, the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer tandem bike, of a sort. Bike commuting in Rio. Celebrate the birthday of the man who invented the modern bicycle 158 years ago.

Finally, Red Kite Prayer sums up the day’s tragic events nicely, as always.

Don’t miss ARTCRANK LAX at Orange 20 Bikes on Saturday, December 8

ARTCRANK LAX logo, designed by Big Table Studio

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from Patrick Murphy of Minneapolis-based ARTCRANK, the international traveling showcase for bike art.

He was writing to let me know about the upcoming ARTCRANK LAX exhibition at Orange 20 Bikes, featuring the work of 31 local artists.

Unfortunately, my world had just been turned upside down. So rather than adding more to my plate, he graciously agreed to write a guest post to tell you all about it. 

It sounds like a great time, for a great cause. And one I’d highly recommend.

……..

International bike poster show coming to Orange 20 on Dec. 8

ARTCRANK, billed as “A poster party for bike people,” will make its long awaited Los Angeles debut with bikes, art and beer at the newly-minted Best Bike Shop in L.A. —Orange 20 Bikes on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

ARTCRANK LAX will feature hand-made, bike-inspired posters created by 31 local artists. Admission is free, and limited edition, signed and numbered copies of all posters will be available for $40 each.

A selection of craft beers by Widmer Brothers Brewing will be available in exclusive ARTCRANK pint glasses, with proceeds going to L.A. Streetsblog.

“Los Angeles has always been a beacon for creative people,” said ARTCRANK founder Charles Youel. “But even two years ago, nobody would’ve thought of it as a big bike town. So it’s exciting for ARTCRANK to hold our first show here at a time when more people than ever are taking to the streets on bikes, and the city is becoming more bike friendly. We can’t wait to see how that comes through in the posters that our L.A. artists are creating for the show.”

ARTCRANK LAX Details
 
When:
Saturday, December 8 – 6:00p.m. – 11:00p.m.
 
Where:
Orange 20 Bikes
4351 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
 
What + Why:
  • Original, limited edition prints from local artists – all sold for $40
  • Custom pint glasses and beer specials by Widmer Brothers Brewing
  • Proceeds from pint glass sales go to benefit L.A. Streetsblog
  • Neenah Paper will donate proceeds from the ARTCRANK LAX show poster to L.A. Streetsblog
  • Free valet bike parking courtesy of Clif Bar

 For more information, please visit: http://artcrank.com/losangeles

About ARTCRANK

ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Since its 2007 debut in Minneapolis, ARTCRANK has held shows in bike-friendly cities in the US and UK, including Portland, San Francisco, Austin, New York, Denver and London. In 2012, we held our second show at Interbike, a cycling industry showcase that attracts attendees from around the world. ARTCRANK uses creativity to change how people think about bicycles and grow the cycling community. Find out more about ARTCRANK at artcrank.com.

……..

I should mention that in that original email, Patrick took the time to express his concern for my wife before moving on to other matters — a sign of real class and compassion that made me like the guy right off the bat.

As for my wife, the news couldn’t be better. Despite a major heart attack, there doesn’t appear to have been any permanent damage to her heart.

Sometimes, life is good.

A poignant and angry remembrance of a fallen cyclist, and a tale of justice denied

Yesterday, I received the following email from a reader named Kate.

In it, she describes a death of a dear friend in a San Bernardino County cycling collision two years ago today, and the apparent lack of justice that followed. Which may sound familiar if you’ve followed the case of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado and the two drivers charged with his death.

She hadn’t intended to make it public; she just wanted to vent her frustration and anger.

But I thought she had something important to say. So I asked for her permission to share it with you, which she graciously granted.

I am writing to you because Sunday, November 4th is the 2 year anniversary of the death of a dear family friend, Lynn Pletcher.  He was killed in Cherry Valley while riding in a bike lane with two other buddies.  Lynn was 70. He was fit (he had completed a 400-ish mile ride across Oregon for his 70th birthday a month prior). He was experienced and extremely safety conscious. He was a husband, father of two, grandfather of 2 (now 3).  Lynn was a retired educator who was very active in the local Rotary Club.  He was also my parents’ next door neighbor for almost 20 years, and my father’s closest friend. http://www.swrnn.com/2010/11/06/bicyclist-killed-in-beaumont-identified/

I know this is not current cycling news, but I guess I just want to vent my frustration about how this was handled. I know you don’t print names or details that aren’t already known, and I’m not looking for that.  I just want to vent.

The man who killed Lynn was never named publicly.  The man who killed Lynn was never charged with anything.  It took the cops more than a year to complete their accident report, and then it was determined that the accident was Lynn’s fault, and that the skid marks showed that he was out of the bike lane when he was hit.  The two men (one a retired postal worker and one a retired physician) who were riding with Lynn didn’t see the accident, as Lynn was last in the pace line.  Lynn was hit from behind, so regardless if he was in the lane or out of it, he was still rear-ended. The bike lane in that particular spot is 6 feet wide, wide enough to ride two abreast if you wanted to, and still be well within the lane. Rumor had it that the guy who hit Lynn was somehow connected to law enforcement, and even that he may have known the cop who came to the accident scene. He had a cell phone in his hand when he got out of the car. I heard this from Lynn’s family, but you can see that there are others out there who heard the same info. http://www.myvalleynews.com/story/52256/ .

The guy who killed Lynn got away with everything. He was never named publicly, never reported in the paper or online, he was never charged.  He never had to face Lynn’s family.  He declared bancruptcy to avoid any kind of law suit. He kept his house. The only thing he has to do is make a monetary contribution to the scholarship fund set up in Lynn’s name.  He writes the check to Lynn’s wife each month.  So far he has made 10 payments, as it took that long to get the final police report, and determine what the penality (if any) would be.  At least he has to think about Lynn every month.  Lynn’s sons are both attorneys, and after having other attorneys look over the case, they were told that based on the evidence, Lynn was most definitely not at fault, but that fighting the system would be expensive, lengthy, and likely a losing battle, so his sons and his wife opted to have the donation made to the scholarship fund each month. They are tired and sad, and don’t want to pursue anything else, which I understand and respect. Lynn’s family has been through so much in the last 2 years, they are glad the checks have been coming regularly so far, but wonder how long it will last.

Sunday will come and go, we wil leave flowers at Lynn’s ghost bike and on his grave, then we will go to lunch with his widow and one of his sons.  His killer might watch football, maybe he’ll work an extra shift and get paid overtime, maybe he’ll spend the day with his family.  Lynn no longer has that option.  I am disgusted at the how this was handled.  I am angry at the lack of accountability.  I am outraged at the blue wall protecting their own.

I will continue to read your blog faithfully, although, I have to say, some days I just want to put my bike in the garage and forget about it. Nope. I won’t let the morons of the world dictate what I do, and I will continue to do my small part to spread awareness when I can.

Thanks for listening,

Kate

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