Tag Archive for Alyson Lee Akers

Morning Links: More details in Tour de Palm Springs crash, and what to do about overly courteous drivers

No victim blaming here.

After cyclist Mark Kristofferson was killed by a speeding driver while riding in the Tour de Palm Springs on Saturday, and another rider badly injured, participants say there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the crash.

Except for a bike-riding Palm Springs resident, who calls for better eduction for participants in the rules of the ride.

Even though accused killer Ronnie R. Huerta Jr. was allegedly traveling at over twice the 50 mph speed limit when he lost control and slammed into the victims.

And even though the two victims were doing nothing wrong, and reportedly riding exactly where they were supposed to be.

Nothing they did could have prevented the crash. Unless they had somehow been able to keep Huerta’s alleged foot off his alleged gas pedal. Or keep him out of his damn car to begin with.

Huerta was reportedly released on $75,000 bail on a single count of vehicular manslaughter, though that could change as prosecutors move forward.

Meanwhile, the other victim, 50-year old Alyson Lee Akers of Huntington Beach, was being treated for what was described as “major injuries,” including a head laceration.

Let’s all hope she makes a full and fast recovery.

And that Riverside County officially treat this case with the seriousness it deserves.

Let’s also hope that the ride organizers figure out some way to improve safety. Because two deaths in four years is two too many.

Photo courtesy of the LAPD Central Area Bike Unit.

………

Frequent contributor Mike Wilkinson writes for advice on how to handle the problem of friendly drivers who want to wave you through the intersection.

Dear Dr. BikinginLA:

My wife and I are enjoying a friendly disagreement about what to do when a driver yields their right of way to us. I say it’s confusing and maybe dangerous. She says the drivers are being courteous. We should smile, wave, and go for it.

Although I go to extra effort to ride according to the rules (and laws) of the road, I don’t have too much trouble waving and smiling in low-risk situations. An example would be meeting a driver at a four-way stop. If the driver waves me through, even if that driver was there first, my wife’s words ring in my ears, and I smile, wave, and start pedaling. My wife is very adamant: With all of the hostility from drivers that we hear about, if a driver is kind enough to yield their right of way, we should accept it graciously.

On the other hand, yesterday I encountered what I thought was a dangerous situation. I was on a small 25 mph residential street waiting to cross a 45 mph street with two lanes in each direction. To my surprise, a driver on the busy street stopped and waved me through. I didn’t go, because there were cars coming from the other direction. Soon there were other drivers behind the one who stopped, and the honking began. Eventually the driver who stopped drove away, but I think everyone involved was upset, some of them at me!

I think that in the long run it would be better if everyone took their right of way. We all know that the streets are crazy enough without someone trying to invent new rules, even if they are just trying to be courteous. However, in the real world, I’d be very interested to learn what your other readers have to say about drivers who yield their right of way.

Personally, I appreciate when drivers show me any courtesy, wanted or otherwise.

So I play it by ear. If there’s no one else on the road, I’ll usually wave my thanks and ride through; if not, I’ll wave the driver through while signaling my appreciation.

And if I don’t feel safe, I’ll clip out of my pedal, put my foot down, and won’t budge until it’s safe for me to go. No matter how offended the driver gets.

However, I try not to brag about my Ph.D. in Advanced BS from Whatsamatta U.

………

Local

The intersection where 15-year old Saul Lopez was killed while riding to school two years ago has been renamed in his honor after receiving a number of safety improvements, including leading interval signals for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The LACBC will host a monthly slow ride beginning this Saturday.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman will host a discussion on the future of transportation in Los Angeles at the Glendale Transportation Center this Saturday.

CiclaValley explores the newly extended bike lanes on Verdugo Ave in Burbank.

 

State

Caltrans’ white paper on the Future of Mobility in the years leading up to 2050 includes a section on bikeshare. But not on riding any other kind of bike.

The San Diego Union-Tribune says pedestrian fatalities continue to mount as the city drags its feet on Vision Zero. Not unlike another city I could mention a few hours to the north.

 

National

Oregon chefs are already gearing up for May’s three-day, 300-mile No Child Hungry ride along the California coast.

Riding while black. According to the Chicago Tribune, blacks, Latinos and whites each make up roughly a third of the city’s population — yet over half of all tickets issued to bike riders were written in predominantly black neighborhoods.

A Kentucky Op-Ed says the state should adopt a three-foot passing law, like 34 other states already have, including California.

Country star Luke Bryan is still one of us, gearing up with a new Trek despite breaking his collarbone in a 2016 bicycling fall.

The annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show runs this coming weekend in Hartford CT.

 

International

Former LA Kings goalie and current Canadian hockey analyst Kellie Hrudey is one of us, too.

A British bicyclist gets six months for breaking the leg of a man in his 70s while riding drunk and brakeless on a train platform.

A British man lost his bicycle, mobile phone and laptop in a strong-arm robbery by three young men who pushed him into a stream.

A Scottish nonprofit group is helping refugees get settled in the country by providing them with bicycles.

An Irish writer says “Cyclist bashing is a popular sport among the less enlightened members of the commentariat.” And then proceeds to do exactly that, before concluding that too many cyclists have died.

Drivers in Kuala Lumpur call for the removal of new protected bike lanes, describing them as a safety hazard. Just like drivers in Los Angeles do.

Bicyclists in Yangon, Myanmar say riding a bike on city streets is like betting your life.

 

Competitive Cycling

Nice profile of America’s only men’s Olympic cycling gold medal winner, 1984 champ Alexi Grewal, told from the perspective of his new home in India.

A Rwandan paper looks at the rise of bike racing in the country.

A writer for Slate looks at Strava as a gateway drug, explaining how it got her into bike racing.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to do a story about sharing the road, don’t illustrate it with a photo of tandem time trial riders. How to be antisocial and take a group cycling vacation anyway.

And teenage Nazi spies on bikes may not just be a good premise for a WWII novel.

……..

Let’s finish with one last, larger look at that great, suitable-for-framing photo at the top of this page.

Photo courtesy of LAPD Central Bike Unit

Update: Man killed by alleged speeding driver in Tour de Palm Springs, 2nd rider injured; 2nd death in four years

It’s happened again.

One man was killed, and another bicyclist seriously injured, when they were struck by an allegedly speeding driver during today’s Tour de Palm Springs.

According to the Desert Sun, the victims were struck when a speeding driver lost control of his car on Dillon Road in Indio Hills, south of Tinker Road, around 9:25 am.

However, that location doesn’t show up using any map site.

The paper reports the driver came up from behind a number of cyclists as they were riding east on Dillon, allegedly traveling at over 100 mph — twice the posted speed limit. He veered onto the dirt shoulder on the wrong side of the road, lost control and veered back across the road to hit the two riders.

The crash reportedly occurred among the trailing riders on the century ride.

Fortynine-year old Lake Stevens, Washington, resident Mark Kristofferson died at the scene.

The other victim was airlifted with serious injuries, while the driver was transported to a local hospital by ambulance.

The case is still being investigated, and no charges have been filed at this time.

This the second death in the 20-year history of the Tour de Palm Springs. It comes just four years after 55-year old La Vonne Koester of Alta Loma was killed during the 2014 edition of annual event, when she allegedly ran a stop sign.

However, other reports indicated that a driver had stopped to wave a group of riders through the intersection, when a second driver came up from behind and was unable to stop before plowing into the riders.

No one was ever charged in that case.

This is the seventh bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Riverside County.

Update: The Desert Sun has updated their story to say 21-year old Desert Hot Springs resident Ronnie R. Huerta Jr. has been arrested on a charge of vehicular manslaughter.

The story also corrects Kristofferson’s age as 49, rather than 54 as originally reported; that change has been made to this story, as well.

The second victim has been identified as 50-year old Alyson Lee Akers of Huntington Beach. She is being treated for what is described as major injuries, including a head laceration.

Huerta was also treated for moderate injuries before being taken to jail on the manslaughter charge, where he is currently being held.

Update 2: At the request of Mark Kristofferson’s family, I have removed a bike cam video of the crash scene taken half an hour after the collision, which briefly showed the tarp covering his body. 

Update 3: According to the Desert Sun, CHP investigators report the driver did not appear to be under the influence at the time of the crash, but are still waiting for the results of drug and alcohol tests. 

Huerta was released on $75,000 bond, and isn’t expected to appear in court until April. 

The crash location was corrected to Dillon Road near Avenue 30. The story reports that there were several police officers stationed at key intersections along the route, but none along the 25-mile stretch where the crash occurred.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mark Kristofferson and his loved ones. And best wishes to Alyson Lee Akers for a full and fast recovery.

Thanks to Tom Morash and Wes R for the heads-up.

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