Tag Archive for 3feet2pass

Fairness and objectivity go out the window in NELA newspaper’s fight against North Figueroa bike lanes

So much for fairness.

Or facts.

A local NELA newspaper offers a misguided editorial disguised as news, arguing against proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa Blvd (upper right corner; click to enlarge).

Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone who takes a stand I may disagree with.

Granted, I may get a little hot under the collar at times, but my attitude is they have as much right to their opinion as I do to mine. And I can learn more from people who don’t agree with me than I can from those who do.

However, just because you own a newspaper doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.

In this case, the writer, Tom Topping, claims — among many other highly questionable assertions — that studies show bicyclists are 12 times more likely to have a fatal collision than someone in a motor vehicle. Even though the studies I’ve seen say you are far more likely to die behind the wheel than riding on two.

In fact, your lifetime risk of dying in a car is 58 times greater than on a bike. Meanwhile, a 1993 study shows that, even adjusted for comparable time spent driving and riding, you have almost twice as much risk of dying from driving as from bicycling.

Needless to say, he doesn’t offer any support for his claim.

He also suggests that bikes represent just 2% to 3% of traffic — again, not citing a source — so we should only be entitled to 2% to 3% of the roadway, apparently willing to relegate us to a strip 1.1 to 1.65 feet wide.

For both directions, that is, not each way.

And he makes the absurd assertion — again, without any evidence to support it — that bike lanes on Figueroa will add a full hour to an average commute. Never mind that the much lower delays projected by LADOT are worst-case projections that are unlikely to actually occur, let alone mutate into the automotive horror show he projects.

No, far easier to simply make numbers up to support his NIMBYist anti-bike argument.

Of course, he insists he couldn’t be anti-bike, as he trots out the same claim found in virtually every anti-bike or bike lane screed, because he is a bike rider himself. Yet at the same time, calls those who created a study showing no harmful effects to local businesses as a result of the York Blvd bike lanes — one he calls “obviously slanted” — “pro-bicycle fanatics.”

Actually, the carefully controlled study was conducted by a UCLA researcher as part of his class work, with support from the LACBC and funding from industry trade group Bikes Belong.

If he thinks those are fanatics, I know a number of far more rabid bike riders I could introduce him to.

And never mind that studies in other cities support that finding, concluding that rather than harming local businesses, bike lanes actually result in increased business.

Then again, his style of riding may hint at one likely reason for his opposition to bike lanes, even as he reluctantly admits that bike lanes increase safety.

Additionally, safety studies show that while a bicyclist is 1200% more likely to have a fatal accident (see above) than a motorist, bike lanes make it only 30% safer (again, no source cited)*. So, instead of being 12 times more likely to die, a bicyclist is only 8 times more likely to die, a small gain to consider when the specter of removing motorist lanes comes up. (To use a bike lane you have to trust that motorists will look out for you — something I cannot bring myself to do when I am on two wheels. I always ride like I am invisible, never assume anyone can see me and am therefore 99% safe at all times)

*Comments in italics mine

Personally, I’d call a 30% reduction in fatalities a huge improvement.

Never mind that every single study I am aware of shows that bike lanes improve safety for bicyclists, as well as others on the road, motorized or not — cutting injury risk as much as 50% with a simple painted lane, and 90% on protected bike lanes.

He is right to suggest it’s best to assume drivers don’t see you when you ride.

But to conclude that cyclists are less safe in bike lanes flies in the face of all available evidence. And once again, he fails to provide any evidence to support his bizarre claim that assuming no one can see him reduces his risk on the road to just 1%.

If Topping or anyone else can provide a valid study supporting that assertion, I’d like to see it.

And in an all-too-tired refrain, he concludes by complaining about the lack of outreach for a bike plan that was adopted over two years ago, following more than a year of public comment.

So why does it suddenly become our problem when other people have had their heads in the sand for over three years, rather than engaging in what was a very public and high profile process?

Unfortunately, this is what too often passes for local journalism in the debate over bikes, with no hint of objectivity or fairness. When one local business owner on North Figueroa called to complain about the inaccuracies and lack of objectivity in Topping’s story, he was told to “buy your own newspaper.”

He’s got a point.

It’s his newspaper, and he can print whatever he wants, regardless of facts or fairness.

Just like the big metropolitan dailies do.

Well, some of them, anyway.

………

Long-time L.A. bike advocate Richard Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, has started a petition calling on Governor Jerry Brown to sign a three-foot passing law to make up for the two he inexplicably vetoed.

You’ll see my name right there as signee number two.

Please join me in signing it, and forward it to every bike rider you know. Let’s let our governor know we’re not going to stand by and allow him to needlessly risk our lives and safety on California streets.

………

This is why police investigators need specialized training in analyzing bike collisions.

Utah authorities say that after a 10-year old boy riding on the shoulder of a highway was passed by a semi-truck, he rode into the traffic lane where he was hit and killed by a second semi-truck.

A far more likely explanation is that the first semi passed too close at too high a speed, sucking the boy into the truck’s slipstream and onto the roadway, into the path of the trailing truck.

But only someone who has experienced the terrifying power of that kind of slipstream when riding — or been trained to look for it — would understand that.

………

Good news for distracted drivers, as Volvo designs the world’s first second cyclist detection system to recognize and automatically brake for bike riders in the car’s path; the first such system is called “eyes,” which come as standard equipment on every driver.

And notice how they assume it’s the rider who will swerve into the car’s way, and not the other way around?

………

Note to Redlands Daily Facts: It’s good that Redlands is getting more bikeways. But sharrows aren’t bike lanes, and bicyclists already have the right to use the full lane in many, if not most, situations; the presence or absence of sharrows doesn’t change that.

………

Damien Newton asks what does it mean and what comes next now that the primary election for L.A. Mayor and City Council is over. LADOT has installed 123 miles of bikeways since the 2010 L.A. bike plan was adopted. Gary Kavanagh reports on UCLA’s Complete Streets Conference last week; nice to see the moribund Bikeside website come back to life to discuss it, as well. Curbed looks at the effects of AB 2245, which removed bike lanes from CEQA review. L.A.’s 4th Street is already a bike boulevard, whether or not the city wants to call it that — or fix it. Better Bike looks at the results of Tuesday’s election in the Biking Black Hole; it looks like the outsiders — and the only semi-bike supporter — may have won. Santa Monica College officially unveils their new 400 space bike parking lot. Fallen Cal Poly Pomona cyclist Ivan Aguilar will be remembered with a memorial ride and ghost bike today. CLR Effect notes that Southern California is becoming more colorful.

Remarkable sometimes how easy it is to park in a bike lane and force riders to risk their lives in high speed traffic; no, Mr. Topping, that is an argument for better enforcement, not another reason to oppose them. San Diego’s city council approves an ordinance calling for safer recreational and commuter routes for bike riders. Bike SD makes the case for protected bike lanes on El Cajon Blvd. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition rewards cyclists with chocolate for good behavior. Cyclist Chris Bucchere faces a preliminary hearing for killing a pedestrian in San Francisco last year. A Fresno school teacher is killed in a classic SWSS — single witness suicide swerve — as the driver claims he did everything right, but the rider inexplicably swerved into his path; thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

Bob Mionske offers advice on whether to fight that ticket. AAA releases a bike safety video, which you may recognize as a Canadian video released last year, as the Bike League casts its lot with an organization that fights bike safety laws in California and elsewhere. Bicycle Retailer reports on Day Two of the National Bike Summit. The Bike League reveals what Congress really thinks of us — including that bike advocates are sore winners, while the economic benefits of bicycling dominate discussions with Congress. Outgoing DOT Secretary Ray LaHood calls for increased, high-quality infrastructure for people who ride bikes. How to recognize a Stroad. Stereotypes of who rides a bike are rapidly falling away. The driver accused of attacking a pro cycling team in an Arizona road rage assault defends himself online. A Colorado woman saves her own life through cycling, dropping 170 pounds in four years. At Austin’s SXSW one good Tern deserves another. Bike Safe Boston says ride straight through an intersection; definitely good advice for all the reasons they cite. Transportation Alternatives provides the facts about New York bicycling. A New York lawyer says the city needs to introduce strict criminal liability for traffic violence. Residents of one New York neighborhood don’t want their historic cobblestones ripped out to make way for a bikeway; for once, I might agree with them. While we all face harassment while riding, women can face a far worse kind.

Bike-centric traffic signals go up in Montreal. British politicians lack the will to get anything done to promote bicycling, but London’s bicycling mayor BoJo finally unveils a real plan to remake parts of the city into mini-Hollands and change the future of bicycling in the city. A 94-year old British driver claims an unforeseeable medical condition left her unconscious behind the wheel and therefore, not responsible when she ran down and killed a bike rider a third her age. Perhaps the most subtly sarcastic bike advocacy headline in human history. Is Spain trying to force bicyclists off the roads? An Israeli company wants to turn your helmet into a heart monitor. A Zimbabwe man kills his father with a brick after they argue about borrowing the older man’s bike without permission, then allowing it to get stolen. Someone dumped uncooked rice on an Aussie bike path in an apparent attack on bicyclists. A Kiwi rider suffers a heart attack while on a cross country charity ride, and rejoins the ride just days later after heart surgery.

Finally, after a drunk driver runs down a Florida cyclist and flees the scene, her father takes her to Mickey D’s before driving her to the police to turn herself in. A Florida legislator finds his drive delayed a few seconds by a bus, and responds by attempting to ban public buses from stopping on streets.

And as bike ads go, this one for the British video release of Premium Rush isn’t half bad.

Gov. Brown inexplicably vetoes 3feet2pass, Tour de Fat and CicLAvia on tap this weekend.

I lost a lot of respect for Jerry Brown today.

California’s once and current governor had a chance to sign SB 910, a common sense bill mandating a simple three-foot passing distance when passing a cyclist. Legislation that has passed in 19 other states already, and been signed by a long list of governors including Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman.

In other words, some of the leading conservative lights in the GOP.

In fact, the only other governor to veto a three-foot passing law up to now was Tea Party conservative Rick “The Executioner” Perry.

Not exactly good company our governor is keeping these days.

He reasoning doesn’t exactly pass the logic test. Or the smell test, either.

Courtesy of BAC Vice Chair Glenn Bailey

While he claims to support bicycle safety, he vetoes the bill that would do much to improve it, taking the advice of Caltrans and the CHP — two groups that probably understand California bike law and bike safety less than anyone else he could find.

His primary concern, based on advice provided by those decidedly bike-unfriendly state agencies, is that drivers would suddenly jam on the brakes to slow down to 15 mph to pass cyclists when they couldn’t pass by three feet.

Yet they have to do that right now, because current law doesn’t allow drivers to cross the center divider to go around cyclists, as the bill the governor vetoed would have. Which means that motorists either have to slow down and follow riders in front of them, or attempt to squeeze past dangerously.

Or just run them over.

And the dangers the Governor so desperately fears have so far failed to materialize in any of the 19 states that have a similar law now — and have had for as long as 38 years.

So I’d like to issue Gov. Brown a challenge.

Let him get on a bike, and I’ll pass him by less than three feet at 35 to 40 mph. And we’ll see if he thinks it’s safe.

From this moment forward, Gov. Brown has the blood of every cyclist who’s injured or killed by a too-close pass on his hands.

I hope he’s planning to observe Yom Kippur.

Because he has a lot to atone for.

……..

Moving on to happier things, this weekend marks two of the biking highlights of the year, with Tour de Fat on Saturday and an expanded CicLAvia on Sunday.

As I’ve noted before, CicLAvia reminds riders to be nice, as well as offering other tips for cyclists.

Be nice – CicLAvia is for everyone - 8-year olds and 80-year olds. Folks will be walking and skating. CicLAvia welcomes families, beginners, on foot, on skateboard, on wheelchair, on training wheels. This isn’t a race. It’s not the Tour de France or the Wolfpack Hustle (and we love those, too), this is CicLAvia. Keep an eye out for slow moving traffic, pass with care (the way you want drivers to pass you every day.) Wherever CicLAvia gets really crowded, walk your bike. If you see pedestrians trying to get across CicLAvia, help them out. (If you’re looking for a fast-paced workout ride, maybe take a long ride to and from CicLAvia – check our feeder ride listing.)

Though overall the route is very flat, we had a couple of serious injuries last year on two hills. These hills are minor, and many of us bike them every day. In the interest of safety, we’ve instituted two MANDATORY DISMOUNT ZONES going downhill on hills. These are at:

  • 4th Street just west of Boyle Avenue (in Boyle Heights)
  • New Hampshire just north of Beverly Blvd (in East Hollywood)

I’m not sure about those dismount zones.

While they won’t be a problem for riders with old school pedals, walking downhill for those of us who wear cleats could pose a whole different set of problems.

KCRW’s Shortcuts blog offers good logistical advice. Santa Monica Spoke is hosting a feeder ride from the Westside. Other rides will funnel in from almost every direction. Bikeside will be hosting political candidates and the LAPD.

As for me, I plan to take a quick loop around the route, then hang out at the LACBC bike valets at the plazas in Olvera Street and Little Tokyo during the afternoon.

So look for me there.

……..

The other big event takes place on Saturday at L.A. Historic State Park when the massive bike and beer filled carnival that is Tour de Fat rolls into town.

Sponsored by New Belgium Brewing — makers of my favorite American ale — and benefiting the LACBC, C.I.C.L.E. and Bicycle Kitchen, Tour de Fat is about as much fun as you can with your clothes on, a brew in your hand and your bike parked nearby. A weird, wild and wacky celebration of all things bikes and beer.

Best of all, admission is free. And beer is just $5 a pint.

It all kicks off with a bike parade from 11 to noon, with beer, bands, contests and other assorted entertainment from noon to 5 pm.

Costumes are strongly recommended. As is fun, as you’ll see from last year’s photos.

Besides, it’s Yom Kippur. Might as well have something else to atone for.

Not you, Jerry.

You’ve done enough.

Felony charges in SaMo road rage after all, and I nearly run down a seemingly semi-suicidal cyclist

I was wrong.

Twice, as it turns out.

Last week, I wrote that a report that the charges against SaMo road rager Jeffrey Ray Adams had been upgraded to a felony appeared to be incorrect, based on responses from both the DA’s office and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.

And I had previously written that any charge against Adams was likely to be filed as a misdemeanor rather than a felony, based on the victim’s lack of serious injuries.

Wrong on both counts.

Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that as recently as last Thursday, both offices still said the case had been referred to the CA. However, when he checked on it again today, he discovered that on September 23rd, the DA had filed two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, case No. SA078790.

Why two felony counts for the one incident, I have no idea. And no word on why the DA’s office changed their minds.

As I noted last week, Adams was scheduled to appear for arraignment on September 26th; a felony bench warrant was issued when he failed to appear. The warrant was recalled when he appeared on the 28th with a new attorney at his side.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 2nd at the LAX courthouse.

My apologies to the victim, and to everyone else, for getting it wrong this time.

And thanks to the DA’s office for taking this case seriously, and to Dj Wheels for staying on top of it.

……..

Tuesday afternoon, I nearly hit a cyclist.

I was driving back from REI in Santa Monica, partly because I needed some new arm warmers and partly because our dog has had a difficult week. And like a typical Angeleno, there’s nothing she enjoys more than a ride in the car to cheer her up.

Just what I need, an auto-centric Corgi.

This particular cyclist was hugging the parking lane, riding closer to the curb between the parked cars, then coming back out into the traffic lane to go around parked vehicles.

When he moved back towards the curb in an extended space between cars, I took my opportunity to pass, moving slightly to the left just in case. Then watched him look back over his shoulder, my car clearly visible on his left. I responded by letting up a little on the gas.

And sure enough, even though we were in the middle of the block, he suddenly threw his arm out to signal a left turn and immediately cut across my path, forcing me to hit my brakes to avoid him.

Suddenly, I had a far different perspective on all those SWSS collisions — Single Witness Suicide Swerve — in which drivers swear the cyclists they hit pulled out in front of them without any warning.

Because I was that close to being one of them.

Fortunately, I recognized the warning signs and reacted in time, although my move to the left actually increased the risk of a collision by putting me closer to him as he cut across.

Although if it hadn’t been another cyclist following behind him and recognizing the warning signs, he might not have been so lucky.

Then, oddly, I came home to read a few online news stories I’d been saving from the weekend, and discovered one from a British cyclist who had a nearly identical experience.

And went back to talk to the offending rider the next day.

……..

Governor Brown has just five days to sign SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill, despite opposition from the CHP — and eloquent support from a retired CHP officer paralyzed on the job. Best biking buddies Lance and Tony urge the re-governor to sign, too.

……..

Joe Linton offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sunday’s CicLAvia, while Mayor Villaraigosa stands up for it. This year’s route will cover 10 blissfully car-free miles. Bikerwave is closing Sunday so they can be there; maybe they’ll meet with some of the candidates for city council in CD15 hosted by Bikeside.

And half of your Veggie Grill purchase tonight will go to support CicLAvia.

Speaking of Linton, he offers a remarkable review of the results of the recent ThinkBike workshops for Downtown, Pacoima and South L.A. And likes what he sees, despite complaints about the process from some quarters.

……..

Gas 2.0 says no one walks in L.A., but we do bike. KPPC’s Air Talk program talks bikes with the co-author of The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide. Jaclyn Andrea Garcia is scheduled to start her jail sentence on Thursday. LADOT is three-quarters of the way to its first 40 mile annual bikeway commitment, assuming you count sharrows. A beginner’s guide to surviving the streets of Los Angeles. South Pasadena plans a new citywide bike network. Santa Monica gets a new bike riding training course. Bike-friendly UCLA offers students free use of a new $1400 repair station, while free air stations are a big hit in the South Bay. Long Beach is ready for its close-up. A bike riding Downey gardener refuses to use power tools. The importance of overcoming obstacles of the mind when you ride.

Temecula police arrest an 18-year old mask-wearing cyclist who appeared to be casing parked cars; okay, but how exactly do you ride suspiciously? An OC cyclist loses control on a busy roadway and slams into an SUV; sounds like he’s lucky that’s all he lost. Corona del Mar cyclists could soon have new signs and striping at key intersections. The Voice of San Diego says it’s time to fix the city’s cycling problems; as usual, the comments offer the same battle between cyclists, bike haters and vehicular cyclists you’ll find on almost any online infrastructure story. A lightless cyclist is sideswiped by a Chico State University police officer. If you’re looking for an emotionally charged name for a new hockey team, how about Critical Mass?

Tea Party members who criticize “socialist” bikeways might be surprised to learn arch-conservatives have supported cycling for over 40 years. What can be done to cut the unacceptably high rate of cycling fatalities. Evidently, drivers don’t like other drivers, either; turns out we’re all responsible for the tensions on the street. Bob Mionske says it’s time to stop blaming the victims. A Hawaii father says urges cyclists to make an informed choice on wearing a helmet. Bikes, cars and trucks attempt to occupy the same space/time on Seattle streets. As if the endless conflict between cars and bikes isn’t bad enough, in Colorado it’s cyclists vs. sheep dogs; I’ve had a few stare downs with stray flocks myself, but can’t recall a run-in the with the dogs guarding them. Texas A&M cracks down on cyclists for their own good, while bike laws don’t protect cyclists at LSU. If you don’t have plans for next May, you might consider the Tour de Rouge, a six-day ride from Houston to New Orleans; any ride that gets you out of Houston and ends in the Big Easy can’t be bad. Chicago bans hand-held cell phones and texting by cyclists; having watched in amazement as texting cyclists blundered into dangerous situations, I seriously do not have a problem with that. Senator Chuck Schumer walks, but apparently doesn’t ride, the Prospect Park West bike lanes his wife continues to fight, even though opponents knew their case had no merit. The Wall Street Journal puts a couple of negative bike studies in perspective, and not surprisingly, the results look a lot different from what the press has been reporting with baited breath; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Streetsblog points out that bike-on-pedestrian injuries actually dropped as bicycling rates soared. Why DC needs their version of L.A.’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

Bicycling uses Geraint Thomas as an example of how to fall right, and offers eight examples of why The Cannibal may be the greatest cyclist of all time; no offense, Lance. Lululemon steps in to save the highly successful HTC-Highroad women’s team. New Calgary bike lanes oddly force riders to swerve out into the traffic lane. After nearly getting killed in an Arizona collision last year, adventurer James Cracknell cracks just 68 miles short of a tandem crossing of the British Isle; amazing that he could make it that after nearly dying last year. British cyclists prepare to go back to Blackfriars Bridge to demand safer cycling conditions. Another tragic — and predictable — London cycling death. The Dutch Cycling Embassy says cycling is for everyone, even if Dutch cyclists may not be qualified to ride in the UK. An Aussie magazine puts bike locks to the test. Tokyo police crack down on fixies (correction: Rick Risemberg points out they’re only going after brakeless fixies). Biking regains popularity in China.

Finally, cool L.A. bike jazz — and a cool L.A. bike jazz video — from Garfield Adams; I’ve started my day with this video for the past five days and it hasn’t failed to put a smile on my face yet. The music track is every bit as good without the bikes, too.

And I’m all for innovation when it comes to bike wheels, but no. Just no.

……..

One other quick note: I was hoping to highlight an exciting and heartbreaking new exhibit honoring fallen cyclists at the end of this month, but this post got a little too crowded. I’ll try to get to that in the next day or two.

An open letter to California Governor Jerry Brown in support of SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to urge you to sign SB 910 to require motorists to give at least three feet of clearance when passing a person on a bicycle.

As a long-time bicyclist, I have ridden a bike on the streets and highways of California for nearly 25 years; over 130,000 miles by a conservative estimate. Yet there has not been one moment in all those miles that have I been free of the fear of being sideswiped or hit from behind by a driver attempting to pass too close, or being run off the road — intentionally or otherwise — by a driver interpreting the current requirement to pass at a safe distance as anything short of actual contact with a bike rider.

Anyone who has ever ridden a bike on our streets knows the dangers posed by being passed too closely. A rider can lose control after being startled to find a speeding car just inches away or swerve to get away from it; both can potentially result in serious, even fatal, accidents, without the vehicle ever coming in contact with the rider. Bike riders can be boxed in by passing cars and forced into parked cars, open doors or other objects, edged off the road or even knocked off their bikes by the slipstream of a large vehicle zooming past.

Serious collisions can also result when cyclists are forced to swerve to avoid potholes, broken glass or other obstacles in the road, only to find themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle with potentially disastrous results.

At one time or another, all of those things have happened to me as I rode my bike in an otherwise safe and legal manner. It’s only through a combination of luck and the skills developed over a lifetime of bicycling that I am here today.

You have the power to take that danger away. By signing SB 910, you can ensure that California drivers understand just what a safe passing distance is when passing a bicyclist. And replace the current vague and misunderstood standard with one that is clear, easy to understand and enforceable, with no cost to the state.

I beg you to sign SB 910. My life, and the life of millions of California bicyclists, is in your hands.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
bikinginla.com

………

This is my letter.

Now the governor needs to hear from you.

There are powerful forces that oppose this commonsense legislation to make our streets safer for California cyclists. And it will take all of us joined together in support of SB 910, the 3feet2pass pass bill, to make sure he hears our voices.

You can write your own letter and email it to the California Bicycle Coalition to forward to the governor, or fax it to the governor’s office at 916/558-3177. Or simply go here and fill in your personal information to send a pre-formatted email containing all the key points, along with your personal comments, in just seconds.

Don’t wait.

Send your letter in support of SB 910 today. Now, in fact.

And make your voice heard for safer streets for all of us.

……..

One other quick note — I received the following announcement from Eric Weinstein about Friday’s Park(ing) Day:

Santa Monica is getting a new park. For Park(ing) day tomorrow ( Friday ) SPOKE is setting up a temporary park in front of Swingers cafe on Broadway where it intersects Lincoln. Starts at 9AM or so – come on by and park! More info: www.parkingday.org

LBFD’s John Hines guilty, 3feet2pass passes and L.A. Weekly goes off the deep end

You can now remove “alleged” from any reference to John Hines.

The Long Beach Fire Captain, scion of one of the city’s leading fire fighting families, changed his plea to guilty in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday.

He was convicted on three felony counts — driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury.

Hines will serve a 90-day diagnostic evaluation in state prison to determine whether he is suitable to serve a sentence in the state penitentiary. After his release, he will be sentenced on December 2nd at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana; potential penalties range from probation to up to six years and eight months behind bars.

Hines reportedly spent the morning of April 1st drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before getting behind the wheel of his truck. Around 1:20 pm, he swerved into the bike lane on Westminster Ave in Seal Beach and plowed into the bike ridden by 47-year old Jeffrey Gordon.

Gordon was thrown over 70 feet, suffering critical injuries including severe lacerations, spinal injuries and head trauma; according to the Orange County Register, he was hospitalized for two weeks, and continues to suffer from limited physical mobility, as well as speech and memory loss.

Meanwhile, Hines fled the scene without slowing down; witnesses followed him to his home where he was arrested with a BAC of 0.24.

I have no idea why he needs to be evaluated for suitability for state prison; most inmates are simply sentenced without any say in the matter.

But we can only hope the judge imposes the maximum sentence.

Anyone who is trained to save lives, yet is so drunk and heartless as to leave a man laying broken and bleeding in the street does not deserve to walk free.

Or ever drive again.

Thanks to Rex Reese, Jim Lyle and an anonymous source for the heads-up.

……..

California cyclists may now enjoy a little cushion from passing vehicles, as the State Assembly passed SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill, by a margin of 41-20.

Do I really need to point out that 16 of the no votes came from the Republican side of the aisle, as the California GOP has swung so far to the right they feel a kneejerk need to oppose virtually everything?

However, six Republicans retained sufficient common sense to vote for the bill, while four Democrats felt California drivers still deserve the right to buzz cyclists as long as they don’t actually make contact.

What still remains to be determined is whether the dangerous exception allowing drivers to pass at less than three feet, as long as they slow to 15 miles above the speed of the ride, remained in the bill or was removed in amendments as we have been repeatedly promised.

In other words, if you were riding at 20 mph, a driver moving at up to 35 mph could pass you as close as they wanted as long at they didn’t actually hit you; yeah, good luck with that. And yes, that exception would be every bit as confusing and unenforceable as it sounds, forcing both drivers and police to guess how fast you’re riding.

And yes, it was still in the most recent draft of the law posted online on August 30th.

Let’s hope it really was removed.

Or this will be nothing but feel-good legislation that could actually make it more dangerous for California riders.

Update: Eric B and billsd wrote to correct my reading of the most recent draft of SB 910. The law has in fact been revised to remove the 15 mph passing exemption; it now allows drivers to pass at less than three feet only at speeds of 15 mph or less. Thanks to both for the correction.

……..

I’ve heard from a number of cyclists who are concerned about a rumor in the case of Joseph Fernandez, the driver convicted of killing Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman.

They’re worried that judge K. Michael Kirkman may have found that Swarzman contributed to his own death though improper lane positioning by failing to ride far enough to the right. As the comment linked to above points out, that would suggest a basic misunderstanding of both state law and commonly taught safe riding practices.

As a result, I reached out to cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, who looked into the question for me.

According to Wheels, it’s unlikely that the judge would have made a ruling like that, since it’s unrelated to the charges against Fernandez. He’s been found guilty of hit-and-run causing serious injury or death, rather than the death itself.

In other words, Fernandez was convicted of leaving the scene, not killing Swarzman — which makes where Swarzman was positioned  in the lane, and whether he contributed to his own death, irrelevant to this case.

As Wheels points out, that may be a matter that will be addressed in the civil case.

However, if anyone who was actually in the courtroom when Fernandez was found guilty has other information, please let me know.

Fernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on September 12th in San Diego Superior Court in Vista; he faces up to four years in prison, case #CN290834.

……..

Finally, did the L.A. Weekly deliberately lie about L.A.’s new cyclist anti-harassment ordinance? Or was it a case of journalistic incompetence and failure to fact check?

A blog post by Dennis Romero suggests that the new law will clog the courts with cyclists retaliating for the slightest insult.

Really. The law goes into effect today. (Ed. Actually, it was Monday, but who’s counting?) We can just imagine the court testimony:

Bicyclist: He called me an asshole.

Driver: Your honor, I would like to submit that he is an asshole, and that free speech is protected, especially when one speaks the truth.

And he concludes with a reminder abut First Amendment rights:

Added: Interestingly, we recall that court rulings over the years have held that even swearing at police is protected speech. Guess the bicycle gets more respect than the badge at L.A. City Hall.

Of course, as virtually every commenter on the story has pointed out, he is completely and totally wrong. (I particularly enjoyed the comment from local bikewear manufacturer swrve.)

Mere insults aren’t addressed by this law. In fact, as LAPD Sgt. Krumer pointed out, you can call a cyclist any damn thing you want and be perfectly within your rights. Although at this point, calling someone an L.A. Weekly reader could be particularly hurtful.

What you can’t do is threaten the life or safety of a cyclist, either through words or actions.

That’s it.

Don’t say “I’m going to kill you,” or attempt to run a rider off the road — or imply you intend to — and this law will never apply to you.

And for his suggestion in the comments that most cyclists will never read the law, so they’ll file countless worthless cases anyway, no lawyer is going to take a case unless he or she thinks they have a reasonable chance of winning.

Which means there has to be evidence and/or witnesses to support it. And even if a lawyer did take such a case, the courts wouldn’t hesitate to throw it out.

Which takes us back to the Weekly’s false and inflammatory story, which can only put cyclists at greater risk of actual harassment from angry drivers who might believe their load of crap.

So I demand — yes, demand — a complete and full retraction from the Weekly, as well as a public apology from the author.

And I hope you’ll join me in doing the same.

Thanks to Evan G. for the tip.

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