Tag Archive for Alexis Virto

Morning Links: Swift justice in Highland Park DUI hit-and-run case, and protected bike lanes spread across US

That was fast.

Less than five months after 33-year old Jose Luna was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding in a Highland Park crosswalk, the man responsible has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Alexis Virto was reportedly driving at least 60 mph on North Figueroa Blvd and never braked before he slammed into Luna, severing his leg and carrying him the length of two football fields on the hood of his car as he fled the scene.

He was found bed with his girlfriend a few hours later, still drunk, with glass from the shattered windshield still in his hair.

Virto accepted a plea deal last month, entering a plea of no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in exchange for prosecutors dropping a host of other charges.

Even if he served his full sentence — which is highly unlikely — the 21-year old driver would be just 30 years old when he gets out.

But he’ll have the rest of his life to live with what he did after getting drunk and getting behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, North Figueroa remains one of the city’s deadliest streets, over a year after CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo arbitrarily killed a planned road diet while somehow citing safety as the reason to halt the safety project.

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Today’s theme seems to be protected bike lanes.

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Local

UCLA cites 13 improvements that helped the campus jump up to silver-level Bicycle Friendly University status, placing it in the top third of bike-friendly colleges nationwide; however, UC Santa Barbara ranks a notch higher with gold status. Needless to say, USC is nowhere to be found on the list.

The LACBC offers highlights from last week’s successful Firefly Ball.

Pasadena’s Open Road bike shop is a one man operation with no employees to help run the 10,000 square foot store; owner Steve Lubanski’s business model focuses on selling accessories rather than bicycles.

BikeSGV is looking for a full-time Active Transportation Data Coordinator to collect, analyze and report information on bicycling and walking in the San Gabriel Valley.

The Santa Monica Bike Center is selling some of their used bikes, including this nifty kid-friendly ride that transforms into stroller. If only it came in a Corgi-compatible model, and I had an extra grand tucked under the mattress.

El Segundo police are looking for the thief who cut a cable lock to steal an $1,800 bicycle. Anyone who thinks $1,800 is a high-end bike hasn’t priced them lately.

 

State

The Orange County Transportation Authority warns that a quarter of Orange County bicycling fatalities occur between 6 pm and 10 pm. Which means that three-quarters don’t.

Irvine-based Pedego introduces their first e-powered mountain bike. Whether it can legally be ridden off-road is highly questionable, though.

Laguna Beach cyclists will take a free tour of local backyard chicken coops with the third annual Tour de Coop.

Lake Forest considers a plan to put bike lanes on Saddleback Ranch Road after residents rose up in protest of earlier plans.

Santa Ana will host it’s second annual ciclovía this Sunday, with a belated Day of the Dead theme.

Thousand Oaks’ first ciclovía drew just 2,000 people, most of whom went home as the day grew on.

A Thousand Oaks driver didn’t bother to stop after hitting a deer, but a cyclist who witnessed it did; rider Todd Banks comforted the badly injured animal until help came, while other riders and motorists stopped to call for help and direct traffic.

A lightless Redding bike rider suffered significant head and leg injuries when he reportedly rode out in front of an 88-year old driver.

 

National

The Bike League reports those proposed anti-bike amendments to the federal transportation bill went down in flames.

A loophole in Lance’s lifetime ban means he’ll be eligible to compete in triathlons starting next year. When you look at the photo accompanying that story, just remember you can’t spell Speedo without EPO.

A writer for Health Magazine asks if the un-helmeted people who ride New York’s Citi Bike bikeshare bikes have a death wish. Actually, as of last year, no one had been killed riding a bikeshare bike anywhere in the US. But I guess they don’t have Google at the magazine.

Colorado’s governor touts the benefits of bicycling; the bike-friendly state has the lowest obesity rate in the US.

The Grand Rapids newspaper calls the removal of a bike lane in front of a church attended by a city commissioner an abuse of power, and an exercise in how not to run a city.

Feel free to write your own punch line, as a Massachusetts bike rider somehow mistook a Trump for President campaign sign for a bomb.

 

International

If you want to meet actual Cubans instead of tourists, just hop on a bike.

Vancouver unanimously rejects a proposal to license cyclists, which means even the counselor who proposed it ended up voting against it.

Calgary police shoot a hit-and-run suspect who deliberately ran down a cyclist, then circled back and drove at officers when they tried to stop him.

A Canadian researcher says mandatory helmet laws may increase bike helmet use, but they do absolutely nothing to improve safety.

Now that’s more like it. A UK cop is fined and given “management advice” for parking in a bike lane, forcing riders out into rush hour traffic.

Evidently, fleeing the scene after hitting a cyclist isn’t enough to take away a Brit cab driver’s license.

Historical photos show how Amsterdam slowly transformed itself from a car-choked city to a bicyclists’ paradise, suggesting other cities can do it, too. Like Los Angeles, for instance.

Not surprisingly, the director of the Tour de France says the Dutch bill for unpaid expenses from the first two stages of last year’s race is baseless and absurdly high.

Take a bike tour of Croatia to visit island vistas and ancient sites, including the birthplace of Marco Polo.

 

Finally…

Bombing down a trail in a state park is one thing; finding a WWII hand grenade on the trail is another. Your next high-end bike could be made of plastic.

And what’s the point of striping a new bike lane if you’re just going to plop a Yield to Bikes sign in the middle of it?

 

Morning Links: Guilty in North Fig hit-and-run and meth-fueled Fiesta Island crash, & still more Coronado madness

It’s been a busy few weeks for courtroom drama.

In the latest case, 21-year old Alexis Virto has pled guilty in the horrifying hit-and-run death of bike rider Jose Luna.

Luna was crossing North Figueroa in a marked crosswalk with another rider last June when Virto’s car smashed into him at an estimated 60 to 80 mph, then sped away with his victim still on the hood of his car, carrying Luna’s body 200 yards from the crash site.

Police found his abandoned car, which led them to arrest Virto as he slept with his girlfriend just six blocks from where the collision occurred; still drunk, with windshield glass glittering in his hair.

EGP News reports he plead guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as part of a plea deal; prosecutors are expected to drop additional counts of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content causing injury, and hit-and-run resulting in death or serious injury to another person.

He’s due for sentencing on November 5th; the story does not say what sentence he faces as a result of the plea.

North Figueroa had been scheduled for a road diet intended to improve safety and slow speeding drivers. Had it not been summarily cancelled by Councilmember Gil Cedillo, it would have been completed long before this collision, though there’s no way to know if it would have made a difference in this case.

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Not surprisingly, the meth-infused wrong way driver who plowed into a group of cyclists on San Diego’s Fiesta Island has been found guilty.

Despite her lawyer’s bizarre claim that she wasn’t impaired by the meth in her system. Or the meth hidden in her privates.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Theresa Owens was found guilty of felony DUI causing injury, as well as causing permanent paralysis to one victim and great bodily injury to three others.

She was also convicted on a misdemeanor possession count for the .15 grams of methamphetamine stashed in her vagina.

She now faces up to 18 years in prison.

Let’s hope wherever she ends up, it has a good rehab program.

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More madness from Coronado, as a resident uses Google to discover various Vehicular Cycling websites, and cites them as proof that bike lanes don’t belong in the crazy little burgh.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Bicycle Coalition offers a more rational voice.

And the Coronado insanity neatly sums up this piece touting the craziest things that have been said about bike lanes.

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A new study from the University of Arizona shows that wearing a bike helmet reduced the risk of severe traumatic brain injury in a collision by 58%, and the risk of death by 59%. The authors also note helmet use reduced the risk of facial fractures by 29%.

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Evidently, the reward for winning the world champion’s rainbow jersey is the chance to play waterboy for your teammates in your next race.

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Local

Outside Magazine looks at Madmen producer Tom Smut’s recent ride to the Emmys, and says what bicycling needs is the perfect A-list champion of bikes. The problem isn’t finding celebrities who ride bikes, it’s getting the world to pay attention. Unless maybe Russell Crowe, Katy Perry and Beyonce aren’t big enough, just to name a few.

South Pasadena students take part in Wednesday’s National Walk to School Day on foot and by bike; KPCC says Walk to School Day raises important safety issues.

Los Angeles Magazine looks at Culver City’s new bike friendly restaurant, The Cannibal.

Bike SGV invites you to attend the Grand Opening of their new Bicycle Education Center on the 25th, complete with Halloween Pet and Costume Bike Train.

 

State

San Diego advocates insist that transit lines and bike and pedestrian projects must move to the head of the line, as the San Diego Association of Governments, aka SANDAG, prepares to vote on a $204 billion transportation plan.

UC Riverside is the latest campus to combat bike theft using GPS bait bikes; so far, they’ve been stolen 17 times, leading to 13 convictions.

Bicycling says Marin County Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Charlie Cunningham needs your help after suffering a life-threatening subdural hematoma in a riding accident that forced him to crawl two miles out of the woods; a gofundme account has be established to help pay medical expenses.

Hollister police haven’t issued a single ticket for violating California’s helmet law for riders under 18 since 2011. Nor should they; a simple warning should be sufficient in cases like that.

A NorCal website explains the difference between Ordinary and Safety bicycles, in case you happen to find yourself in need of a ride in 1880s London.

 

National

Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the race for Speaker of the House means the next leader of the US House of Representatives won’t be a California bike rider.

The Feds propose scrapping regulations that make it difficult to build Complete Streets.

Montana is the latest state to ditch the requirement that cyclists ride as far to the right as practicable; now riders will be allowed to ride as far to the right as they feel safety allows. Are you listening Calbike and CABO? This should be the next big change to California bike law. And while we’re at it, let’s ditch the must-use requirement for bike lanes and bike paths; different types of riders have different needs, and one lane does not fit all.

Bicycling is booming just about everywhere. Except Iowa, evidently.

A Nebraska man is biking the trail the Native American Ponca people were forced to march to their Oklahoma reservation.

Yet another bighearted cop, as a Texas police lieutenant replaces a man’s stolen bike.

One week after a Wisconsin boy finished building his custom BMX bike, a group of teenagers shoved a gun in his face and stole it.

The Wall Street Journal says bike lanes make riding in New York less challenging, but cyclists still face a number of obstacles, from bike lanes blocked by vehicles to lanes that stop and start without warning.

A Brooklyn councilman says the city’s Transportation Committee is more concerned about parking than the safety of bicyclists.

A Staten Island website says with a price tag of $300 to $400 million to add bike and pedestrian access to New York’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, just forget about it.

Bike New York offers advice on autumn cycling.

DC’s Metro system blames the city’s successful bikeshare system for their loss in ridership. The brilliance of LA Metro’s planned bikeshare system is that it is designed to be integrated into the transit system, not compete with it.

An OpEd in the Charlotte Observer calls for a Vision Zero there to end the cycling carnage on city streets.

 

International

Three successful women designers discuss women’s bike style beyond the usual shrink it and pink it approach.

A Toronto writer calls the so-called war on cars a mythical fabrication, and says cyclists deserve bike lanes that will allow them to ride in safety.

Two Lycra-clad British bike thieves walk into a bike shop and calmly walk out with a pair of bikes worth $6,600.

SF Gate takes a bike tour along the rugged coast of Ireland.

An Irish cyclist was fined the equivalent of $283 after he was convicted of careless driving for crashing into the back of a parked car.

The bike-riding mayor of Rome has been forced out over an expense scandal; he had won admirers for refusing to stop riding his bike despite mafia threats.

South Australia bicyclists will now enjoy the equivalent of a three-foot passing law and be allowed to ride on the sidewalk, while drivers will be allowed to cross over a double center line to pass cyclists when they have a clear view of approaching traffic and can safely do so. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have allowed drivers to do the same thing here.

Instead of improving safety, the mayor of Melbourne wants to tell riders to just avoid certain streets.

 

Finally…

There’s nothing unusual about a car chase in Los Angeles; on the LA River bike path, not so much. Caught on video: Once again, a Brit rider has been smacked by a crossing bar while trying to beat a train.

And Donald Trump seems to have forgotten about that little bike race he once held.

 

Update: Arrest made in horrifying high-speed Highland Park fatal hit-and-run

North Figueroa was supposed to be safer by now.

Had LADOT been allowed to carry out it’s plans, the street would have undergone a road diet. Not just to install bike lanes, but to calm dangerous high-speed traffic.

Now a bike rider is dead, the victim of a speeding hit-and-run driver.

According to the LA Times, two bike riders were crossing Figueroa at Marmion Way in the crosswalk at 3:02 am when one was hit by car traveling at what police estimated as 80 mph, based on witness reports.

At that speed, there is virtually no chance of survival. Especially since the victim was dragged several hundred feet underneath the car as it sped away.

Witnesses say the driver never braked, before or after hitting the victim.

The second rider wasn’t struck. No word on whether they were riding or walking in the crosswalk.

The victim has not been publicly identified; he is described only as a man in his 20s.

The car’s bumper was left lying in the road, which should make the car easy to identify if it can be found. Police are looking for a small black sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima.

There should be an automatic $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver, based on the hit-and-run reward program recently passed by the city council.

Despite overwhelming support in public meetings, plans for a road diet to improve safety on North Figueroa were halted by Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Cedillo claimed he was canceling the plans for safety reasons, an argument this morning’s wreck has proven wrong.

Now he has to answer to the victim’s family. And the rest of us.

This is the 34th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in LA County; it’s also the eighth in the City of Los Angeles.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

According to KTLA-5, a witness tipped police to the location of the abandoned vehicle, which had biological matter from the victim on it.

That led them to 21-year old Alexis Virto, who was found asleep in bed with his girlfriend at 7:15 am, roughly four hours after the collision.

Virto was still drunk when he was taken into custody. He insisted that he wasn’t the driver; however, he had injuries consistent with a crash, and windshield debris clinging to his hair.

He was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder and felony drunk driving with great bodily injury.

The LA Times reports the victim is a 33-year old man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

The Times also says there were 68 collisions that resulted in severe injuries to bicyclists on that stretch of North Figueroa between 2002 and 2012; there were also nine pedestrians killed in that time period.

Meanwhile, anti-bike Figueroa activist and Boulevard Sentinel editor Tom Topping had this to say:

Why was this person on the street at 3am? Usually only meth-head criminals looking for something to steal are riding around on bikes at that hour.

Update 2: The LA District Attorney’s office has finally identified the victim as Jose Luna, also known as Bizzy.

According to the press release, his alleged killer, Alexis Virto, has been charged with one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08% blood alcohol content causing injury and hit and run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person. Not surprisingly, he entered a plea of not guilty to each count.

Virto reported drove the length of two football fields with Luna on the hood of his car.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose “Bizzy” Luna and his family. 

Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to this story. And thanks to fig4all and Terri Moore for their help in IDing the victim.

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