Tag Archive for bicycling injuries

Bikes Have Rights™*

The Danger in Dog Day Afternoons

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

   
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP 
 

Recently, at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Open House, JJ Hoffman was telling me a story about her daily encounter with dog a couple of years ago. JJ said every day when she was riding to work she’d meet up with this same woman who was walking her dog unleashed.

Every day the dog took after JJ, which set the woman off who would run yelling behind her dog. It got so bad that JJ had the pepper spray out before she got to the street where she’d meet up with the dog. All that dog wanted, JJ said, was a taste of her calf.

JJ really didn’t want to spray the dog, though spraying the owner was tempting, and, luckily for everybody, JJ never actually had to take action.

Like JJ, I really like dogs. The dogs are doing what their instincts tell them to do: to chase prey. Irresponsible dog owners are another matter. They put the cyclist, the dog, and especially themselves in danger.

Bitten by a Dog

In California, if you are bitten by a dog, the owner is at fault. It doesn’t matter if the dog is leashed or not. It doesn’t matter if the owner knew or didn’t know that the dog had a “vicious nature.” California holds owners to “strict liability.” If you are bitten, the owner is liable for your injuries. There is no “free bite” in California.

Collision with or because of a Dog

When a dog begins chasing a cyclist, most cyclists tend to try to outrun the dog. When that happens, the dog’s brain goes into get-the-fleeing-prey mode, and the race is on.

Whether or not you can really outrun the dog, the real danger is in possibly colliding with the dog or colliding with something else because you lose control of the bike or you hit a pot hole or even getting hit by a motor vehicle when swerving or not being able to stop at a light or an intersection.

If you suffer serious personal injuries or your bike is damaged, again, the dog owner can be held liable. Your bicycle accident attorney should be able to obtain compensation for your injuries.

Compensation for Dog-related Collisions or Bites

The dog owner may be held negligent for:

  • Ineffective control of the dog.
  • Violation of the leash law and other Animal Control Ordinances.
  • Inadequate supervision or management of the dog.
  • Putting the dog in a condition in which the owner could have seen that the dog could cause injury to somebody.

Individual cities also may have their own animal control ordinances. For instance, one city limits the number of dogs that can be walked by one person at a time and a number of cities consider it a misdemeanor if a dog is tied to a parking meter, sign or bus bench without food or water nearby.

Some cities have ordinances specific to a breed. In Santa Monica a pit bull on public property must be muzzled.

The dog owner may be held responsible for compensating you for:

  • Medical bills from doctors, emergency rooms, hospitals, therapists, plastic surgeons, and for prescriptions.
  • Future medical bills to remove scars or to repair disfigurements. If the money for medical care is not recovered at this time, your health insurance might not cover any future medical procedures you need later, calling them “cosmetic.”
  • Time you had to take off from work resulting in lost income.
  • Lost future earnings because of disfigurement or disabilities.
  • Emotional counseling.
  • Pain and suffering.

Of course you can only recover compensation for injuries you suffer and care you actually need.

Hesitations to Holding an Owner Liable

One of the major hesitations a cyclist who is bitten by a dog often has in reporting a dog bite is the fear that the dog will be destroyed. A dog that has no history of biting is rarely “put down.”

The court takes into account the severity of the bite and the number of times it has bitten. It may rule that a dog must be muzzled in public or restrained in a particular way, such as kept behind a certain type of fence of a certain height.

Self-Defense

We all have heard that we have the right to defend ourselves against an attack from another person. What few people realize is that the law says you can defend yourself as much as is necessary to foil the attack. Your defense must be proportionate to the attack, and when the danger is past, so is your right to defend yourself.

This is a common law concept, and there is no explicit statement in common law that this also applies in a dog attack. More and more dog owners are counter-suing for compensation when their dog has been injured either intentionally or through someone else’s negligence.

So if you are going to use self defense, be sure that it is proportionate to the attack and that once the attack is over you stop, similar to how you would defend yourself with a human. That is a legally defensible act, though you could still find yourself in a lawsuit with the dog owner.

Personally, I subscribe to the belief that it’s rare to find a bad dog, but bad owners are much too plentiful.

*Sponsored post

 

Bikes Have Rights™*

Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friend

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

 
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP
 

Behind the warm and fuzzy jingles, the precocious animal mascots, and the deep-voiced spokespersons, insurance companies are faceless, heartless corporations whose one purpose is to increase premiums and to decrease payouts in order to make the biggest profits possible.

Simply put, THAT is why you need your own lawyer if you have a bike accident.

If insurance companies were “fair,” I’d be out of a job. I am pretty confident that unemployment due to insurance companies deciding to do the “right thing” is not something I have to worry about in my lifetime.

The reality is, after you have had a bike accident and the friendly insurance adjuster calls you, his (or her), goal is to come up with a reason not to pay you. If he can’t outright deny you compensation for your damages, he wants to diminish your case so the company has to pay you as little as possible.

Rest assured, everything you say to that nice insurance adjustor can and will be used against you in a court of law. That is why I – and every other personal injury lawyer – will tell you to refuse to speak to an insurance adjuster or insurance representative. Give the adjustor your lawyer’s name and phone number and hang up.

If you cooperate with the insurance adjuster and you are offered a settlement, it is likely that you are getting 10 cents on the dollar of the value of your case. I was once told by an adjuster that he received a bonus if he could settle a case within 48-hours.

Let me tell you about a case I handled. A client who had a Los Angeles bike accident injured his shoulder. He talked with the kindly insurance adjuster who sympathized and sent him to a doctor (an insurance company sending you to a doctor is a rare occurrence).

SURPRISE! The doctor recommended by the insurance company said my client’s shoulder was fine. The company offered my client $5,000 to settle his case.

My client’s shoulder really hurt. He finally engaged a lawyer (me), and I sent him to a doctor. The doctor I sent him to diagnosed a torn rotator cuff. He underwent surgery. We settled the case for $150,000.

Never forget that insurance companies have more knowledge than you do. They also employ an army of lawyers. They can throw more resources at your case than you even know exist. They have all the power, all the money, and the wherewithal to fight you when you are fighting alone.

You need an experienced personal injury lawyer to level the playing field. I have written here before about how to choose a lawyer, but it bears repeating to say you should look at how or where you got the referral, the lawyer’s experience in your type of case, and the results the lawyer has achieved.

Now go increase your uninsured motorist insurance to the maximum the insurance company will permit, and the next time you see an insurance company commercial, remember, they are not your friend.

*California Vehicle Code 21200: A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. . .

For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.

*Sponsored post

 

BOLO for Mission Hills hit-and-run driver who seriously injured bike rider

This morning we linked to a brief item about a bike rider who was seriously injured in a Mission Hills hit-and-run on Sunday.

Now more details have been added to the story.

According to the Daily News, the victim, identified only as a 53-year old North Hollywood resident, was riding west on Devonshire around 9:44 am when he attempted to cross Sepulveda Blvd on the green light. A white car headed north on Sepulveda stopped briefly at the red light before accelerating and crashing into the rider directly in front of him.

The paper reports he rolled onto the hood, smashing into the windshield, before being thrown to the ground when the driver braked before fleeing the scene. He was taken to a nearby hospital with broken bones, but no life threatening injuries.

The story also notes that the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Since he does not appear to have suffered a head injury, the Daily News is apparently under the impression that a bike helmet somehow would have prevented the collision or made a rider impervious to any injury, including broken bones in other parts of the body.

An alert from the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division describes the vehicle as a white four-door Jaguar, no model given, with black rims. The driver is described as Hispanic male with dark hair, around 30–40 years old.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Valley Traffic Division Detectives at 818/644-8020; anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800/222-8477).

Keep your eyes open for a white Jag with front-end damage, especially if you ride in the North San Fernando Valley. Let’s help the LAPD bring this heartless SOB to justice.

Thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up.

And best wishes to the victim for fast and full recovery.

Help a badly wounded rider get back on his feet, BAC Bikeways subcommittee minutes, and ride with Greg Laemmle

There’s no shortage of good causes these days, especially when it comes to bicycling.

But this one really deserves your attention.

On November 27th of last year, David Enright was riding his bike to pick up a U-Haul to start a new life in Seattle with his fiancé.

That’s when his life nearly ended.

As he crossed the intersection of Eagle Rock Blvd and Avenue 36 around 10:50 am, a car ran the red light and hit him from the side. Enright suffered a broken left forearm, right elbow and clavicle, as well as seven factures to his pelvis; he credits his helmet for sparing him from head injuries.

Do I really need to add that the driver was unlicensed and had no insurance?

Enright spent the past two months confined to a hospital bed, unable to move. Two weeks ago, he was finally released, though confined to a wheelchair, and immediately began the long and painful road to rehabilitation.

Friends say he has the strength, in both mind and body, to make it all the way back. On the other hand, that new life he was starting hasn’t exactly gone the way he planned.

In addition to crushing medical costs, he’s looking at a full year of lost wages and legal fees, as well as unexpected housing and storage costs.

And that’s where you come in.

A fundraising page has been established in his name. Donate just $40, and you’ll receive entry and drink tickets to a fundraising party at The Record Parlour in Hollywood on Sunday, February 9th.

One week later, a fundraising ride will roll from Intelligentsia Coffee Bar in Pasadena to the flagship Inteligensia in Silverlake, passing through historical landscapes, quiet ravines, bustling neighborhoods, and around the breathtaking Silverlake Reservoir. Suggested sponsorship is $200, however, sponsorship is not mandatory.

All proceeds go to help Enright’s long road to recovery.

Like I said, it’s a good cause.

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It’s also hard to keep up with all the important bike meetings in and around the City of Angels these days.

One of the most important is the work being done by the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, particularly the Bikeways Subcommittee.

That’s why I’m pleased to share the minutes of their most recent meeting:

Bicycle Advisory Committee of the City of Los Angeles
Bikeways Subcommittee
MINUTES
Sunland Room, LADOT, 100 Main St., Los Angeles CA
Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 1-3 PM

1. Call to Order

2. Introduction of Subcommittee members and City staff

In attendance: Jeff Jaccobberger (BAC Chair), Herbie Huff (BAC Bikeways Subcom Chair), Jonathan Weiss (BAC Advocacy and Education Subcom Chair), Michelle Mowery, Nate Baird (LADOT Bicycle Outreach and Planning), Tim Fremeaux, Paul Meshkin, Carlos Rodriguez (LADOT Bikeways Engineering), David Somers (LADCP), Dennis Hindman (public)

3. Current bike lane designs for review

a. 48th St: Crenshaw Blvd to Normandie Ave

This is an HSIP project being led by Carlos Rios. It’s a road diet with a new signal at 11th. Design work will be completed in February.  

b. Lakme Ave: M St to G St

b, d, e, g, are all in a package in Wilmington. Most of these are ‘drop-in’ bike lanes that don’t require lane removal. Some of these projects are adding a center-turn lane. Most of these neighborhoods are residential, and some are mixed light industrial. Bike lanes have had a lot of support and success in this working-class community, and the department is looking forward to seeing the results of implementing a network of bike lanes here.

c. Loyola Blvd: Westchester Pkwy to Lincoln Blvd

This is a small section. Someone asked about a portion of an existing bike lane here, where current department practice would dictate the addition of painted buffers to the bike lane, but there are no such buffers. Tim Fremeaux noted that historical bike lanes are updated opportunistically with repaving.

d. McDonald Ave: Denni St to C St

e. Denni St: Fries Ave. to Banning Blvd.

f. San Vicente Blvd: Beverly Blvd. to Burton Wy. (E/B) Wilshire Blvd. (W/B)

Design of this bike lane discussed at a previous Bikeways Subcom meeting. The reason for the varying extents is that the E/B side is in the City of Beverly Hills. Tim has verified that Beverly Hills has the right-of-way to implement a bike lane. LADOT has shared the plans with the City of Beverly Hills.

g. St: Wilmington Blvd. to Watson Ave.

h. Valley Vista Blvd: Woodvale Rd. to Sherman Oaks Ave

i. San Vicente Blvd: Redondo Blvd. to La Brea Ave.

This is a short addition on a repaved segment, to add to bike lanes the department recently painted on the lower section of San Vicente.

4. Exposition Neighborhood Greenway

Because of the adjacent City park planned as a part of the Westwood Neighborhood Greenway, BAC member Jonathan Weiss wanted to determine the precise location of the Expo Bike Path between Westwood and Overland. Project lead Carlos Rodriguez explained that the bike path will be basically adjacent to the Metro ROW and the train tracks, running along the soundwall (with a 5’ landscaping buffer) and minimizing the disruption to the park. There will be a parallel pedestrian path on the park side of the bikeway which will act as an access route to the park.

5. Cesar Chavez: Mission to Sunset

The department is planning to add a bike facility here. This will be a difficult project, for which there is no off-the-shelf design. Some of it will be a continuation of the bus lanes on Sunset Blvd. Hill to Mission is the difficult section. The intersection at Vignes will be especially tricky because this is the location with the most bus boardings in the City, even more than in Patsaouras Plaza. The eastbound bus stop on Chavez at Vignes sees over 100 buses an hour. Tim shared a preliminary idea which is to add bike lanes on the bridge with turn lane removal. Jonathan Weiss recommended barriers in the tunnel similar to the ones that were recently implemented on 2nd St.

6. Wayfinding sign project – opportunity for input on sign placement

LADOT will release a public version of the location of the signs soon via the bike blog. BAC members should look for any errors and do basic fact-checking in their districts.

7. 20 mile sharrow package – discussion and opportunity for input

LADOT shared a draft sharrow package. BAC members felt all the streets were well chosen. Herbie will give Gregg Spotts from BSS a call about the fact that 4th St. sharrows need to be replaced after being slurried over. The request would be that if streets to be slurried can be known in advance, LADOT can wait until they are slurried before laying down the sharrows.

8. Approval of next meeting date: Weds, 3/19/2014

Please note that meetings will be on the 3rd Wednesday rather than the 1st Wednesday from now on.

9. General Public Comment

A few other notes:

DCP is looking to create a data unit in response to the Mayor’s emphasis on metrics.

DOT bikeways staffing is an issue. The department has requested an additional position in Bikeways Outreach and Planning this year’s city budget. BAC members and advocates should follow the budget to see if this is granted by the Mayor’s office.

10. Adjourn

……….

More on Francisco Alvarez, the 78-year old Glendora rider who died after he was hit by a car last week; the devoted grandfather was a popular Spanish Language poet with over 3,600 sonnets and other poems.

……….

LACBC board member Greg Laemmle is once again leading the bike coalition’s entry for the annual Climate Ride. Tell them why you want to ride with Greg, and you could win free entry to the ride, $2500 towards your fundraising commitment, and an Unlimited Laemmle Movie Pass for the remainder of this year.

……….

A new LA bike commuter is born. Writing for the Eastsider LA, Severin Martinez of Walk Eagle Rock says it’s time to take traffic safety seriously in Northeast LA; actually, it’s long past time to take it seriously everywhere. Broadway traffic lanes will be reduced from six to three in order to improve livability in the heart of Downtown. Valley Councilmember Bob Blumenfield leads a successful community ride in his district; hopefully this will inspire other councilmembers to lead rides in their own districts. Streetsblog adds more details to the story of hit-and-run victim Damian Kevitt’s Finish the Ride event on April 27th; they also say Mayor Eric Garcetti’s support of the city’s application for the Green Lane Project means he now has skin in the game for My Figueroa. The People St. parklet program goes citywide this week.

Ghost bikes are multiplying in the Inland Empire. Sixteen-year old San Diego bike rider injured when he’s hit by a 76-year old driver. Police ask for help tracking down the driver who ran down a Santee cyclist last week; fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured, though his bike looks badly mangled. The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition launches a Youth Bicycle Fleet. Sacramento bartender faces DUI and vehicular manslaughter charges for killing a cyclist last April. Sounds like authorities are taking this one seriously for a change, as an El Dorado County driver is booked on $1 million bail after disappearing on a warrant for the suspected DUI death of a cyclist last year.

A blogger falls in love with bicycling. Scary collision as a resting Seattle cyclist is slightly injured after being knocked off an overpass. For the first time I can recall, a bicycle is part of the traditional mayors’ Super Bowl bet. A Tucson filmmaker says it’s time to let women ride in the Tour de France; past time, if you ask me. Clearly, hit-and-run is not just an LA problem, as police seek the motorist who killed a cyclist near my hometown. Bicycle tourism is starting to have an effect on businesses’ bottom lines in Montana. San Antonio artists create breathtaking underpass chandeliers from bike parts. Chicago merchants are discovering bike lanes are good for business. Northwestern University students develop a smart bike to help prevent collisions.

The Times of London absurdly claims bike riders pose as much risk to pedestrians as motorists do; yeah, that’s one way of looking at it. Indian MAMILS put pedal to the metal. The bike racing season is off and running as Aussie Simon Gerrans wins the Tour Down Under.

Finally, this is why you don’t want to tempt fate: minutes after pointing out to a riding companion where he’d want his ashes scattered, a UK rider is killed in a solo fall. And a writer for Outside magazine says it’s time to fight back — metaphorically, if not literally — against jerks who attack cyclists.

Bike rider shot and killed in South LA; unidentified Pasadena cyclist suffers critical injuries; SD road rage charges

Evidently, 2014 is getting off to a challenging start.

Following a year in which Los Angeles had the lowest number of homicides in nearly 50 years, the city suffered its first homicide of the new year early Sunday morning.

And it was a bike rider who got killed.

According to the LA Times, 46-year old Don Johnson was riding his bike southward on the 10000 block of South Main Street in South LA around 12:20 am when an unknown assailant walked up and shot him multiple times; KABC-7 says a witness heard six shots.

Johnson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

KTLA-5 reports he was shot as he rode in front of a church, most likely the Holy Pathway Missionary Church; he was apparently riding in the bike lane visible on the street leading up to the church.

A report on KNBC-4 — which does not appear to be available online — suggested that authorities suspect it was a gang-related shooting, though there was no indication Johnson was a gang member.

He may have just been the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

And paid for it with his life.

Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at 213/465-4341 or 877/527-3247, or submit anonymous tips at 800/222-8477.

My prayers for Don Johnson and his loved ones.

………

A bike rider is in critical condition in a Pasadena hospital, the apparent result of a solo crash. And sadly, authorities have no idea who he is.

The Pasadena Star-News reports the victim, identified only as a white male in his 20’s, was found lying in the roadway on Glenullen Drive at Malcom Drive just before 3 pm Saturday. Police initially suspected hit-and-run, but concluded the victim probably lost control riding downhill and crashed into a tree.

He was not carrying identification, and was unable to speak due to major head injuries.

And no, he was not wearing a helmet. However, there is no way of telling if one would have made a difference in this case, though it probably wouldn’t have hurt.

This should also be a reminder to everyone to carry — or wear — ID every time you ride.

Best wishes for the victim for a full and fast recovery.

………

An unidentified San Diego cyclist may see justice after all.

According to San Diego’s NBC-7, 50-year old Douglas Lane faces a felony count of reckless driving with injury for his part in an October road rage incident that left a bike rider seriously injured as collateral damage.

The ironically named Lane was reportedly jockeying for lane position with another driver on State Route 67 just north of Poway Road where two northbound lanes merged into one. Lane lost control of his truck when the vehicles sideswiped one another, and swerved into the bike lane where he hit a 38-year old woman participating in the Pedal the Cause bike ride.

Neither the victim, who was hospitalized with major non-life-threatening injuries, nor the other driver has been publicly identified.

Both vehicles continued without stopping; earlier reports indicated Lane had no idea he’d hit anyone.

He was arrested Saturday, though the warrant was issued in mid-November, and booked on $50,000 bond.

……….

Thankfully, not all the news is bad.

In fact, when it comes to the economic benefits of bicycling, it looks pretty damn good.

……….

Don’t forget to voice your opinion — either online or in person this Wednesday — on the necessity of putting bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills when the iconic boulevard undergoes reconstruction in 2015.

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Nice profile of Long Beach bike advocate Melissa Balmer and the new statewide Pedal Love Project, described in the story as a love letter to California bike culture.

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The San Diego Bicycle Coalition moved to new offices on Friday. By bike, of course.

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Hats off to Burbank, which hasn’t had a bicycling fatality in the last two years, and just one pedestrian death last year, down from two in 2011.

………

Finally, royal in-law Pippa Middleton clips in for the first time, and likes it. Meanwhile, another rider admits to turning into a royal jerk whenever she slips onto the saddle.

And we wonder why some people hate us.

Update: Calimesa hit-and-run victim dies two weeks after collision

This is not what I wanted to write about today.

I was hoping to end this year on a positive note. But maybe the good news is simply that this bloody year, with its epidemic of hit-and-runs and far too many cyclists killed or injured, is finally coming to an end.

And maybe the new year that starts tomorrow will be a better one for all of us.

………

News broke today that a cyclist in Calimesa suffered major injuries in a Sunday hit-and-run.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the bike rider was riding south on Calimesa Blvd just north of Singleton Rd in the small town east of Redlands and Moreno Valley around 12:25 pm. Witnesses saw a northbound car drift over the centerline and hit the rider head-on before fleeing the scene.

The victim was identified on Don Davidson’s Facebook page as Phil Richards, but it does not mention his age or residence.

In a second Facebook post, he said Richardson coded overnight after spending Sunday afternoon in surgery for multiple injuries, but was revived and in surgery again on Monday morning to stop internal bleeding and relieve pressure in his abdomen. Fortunately, he does not appear to have suffered head or spinal injuries — remarkably, since he was reportedly hit at 50 mph.

The car reportedly struck Richards on the left front, damaging the car’s left side and headlight. The vehicle is described only as a compact four door sedan, light blue or green, driven by an elderly white-haired white or Hispanic man.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the department’s Cabazon Station at 951-922-7100.

Prayers or good wishes are definitely in order.

Thanks to Cleave Law and Tom Herman for the heads-up.

Update: The Riverside Sheriff’s Department has made an arrest in the case. 

According to a press release from the department, a deputy assigned to Calimesa noticed a 2005 Ford 500 matching the description of the suspect vehicle, with damage consistent with the collision, parked in a driveway in the 1200 block of Cherry Lane. 

After towing the car to examine the evidence and talking with the owner, 42-year old Calimesa resident William Donald Johnson was booked for felony hit-and-run.

Then again, Johnson had a full week to sober up if he had been drunk or otherwise under the influence at the time of the collision.

Meanwhile, the victim, who has been identified on Facebook as Phil Richards, remains hospitalized following several surgeries

Thanks to Kevin for the heads-up.

Update 2: I’m sad to report that, according to Don Davidson’s Facebook page, Richards died of his injuries at 5 pm on Saturday, January 11th.

This is the 89th bicycling fatality in Southern California resulting from injuries suffered in 2013, and the 12th in Riverside County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Phil Richards and all his family and loved ones.

……….

In somewhat better news, another hit-and-run driver is in custody as of Monday evening after he ran down a rider on an adult tricycle Monday afternoon.

According to the Ramona Sentinel, 69-year old James Swift was riding south on Montecito Road at around 1:05 pm. He was crossing Main Street on the green light when he was apparently right-hooked by a 2002 Yukon Denali.

Witnesses report the driver actually stopped and placed the stroke victim back on the seat, saying he was sorry before running back to his truck and fleeing as fast as he could.

Fortunately, witnesses got the license number of the truck, and CHP officers were able to convince him to turn himself in. The 31-year old driver, who was not publicly identified, faces charges of hit-and-run and driving without a license.

But at least he said he was sorry, right?

………

Finally, Ed Ryder offer moving photos of the ghost bike for Pete Tomaino, the popular 82-year old cyclist killed in Laguna Hills on Christmas Eve.

The way this year has gone, maybe that’s a sadly appropriate note to end on.

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Update: Panarama City hit-and-run victim dies; 17th confirmed LA bike fatality in 2013

Yet another bike rider’s life hangs in the balance, in one of the worst holiday periods in memory.

According to a press release from the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, a cyclist was riding west on Burnet Ave when he was struck by an unknown vehicle headed south on Lanark St in Panorama City. A street view shows a typical Valley intersection.

Investigators were called around 7 am; no word on when the collision occurred or how the victim was discovered. The rider was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. No arrest has been made, and no description of the suspect vehicle was provided.

The LA Weekly reports that the victim’s son has identified him as a 57-year old man, but asked than his name be kept private for the time being.

According to the paper, the victim is in grave condition and not expected to survive.

He told the Weekly his father sustained a “severe brain injury” and that his “condition deteriorated” to the point where family members were told his chance of survival was essentially “zero.” He said he’d keep us updated.

He also requested the media’s help in finding the person who left his father in the street to die.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Valley Traffic Division Detective William Bustos at 818/644-8021 or Officer Scott DeWitt at 818/644-8027; anonymous tips can be given to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800/222-8477).

This comes after at least three bicycling fatalities in the past 10 days.

Update: According to the LAPD, the victim, who has still not been publicly identified, has died.

This is the 87th — and hopefully last — bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 38th in Los Angeles County. It’s also the 17th confirmed bike death in the City of LA, over three times the total for 2012, and four times the total in 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all his family and loved ones.

Update 2: The victim has been identified as Dimitar Batchiyski

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Famed bicycle tool maker Paul Morningstar was found dead in his booby-trapped home on Saturday morning.

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Storage company contributes $17,000 to Bahati Foundation, founded by Compton’s own former US Crit champ Rahsaan Bahati. Ride the Santa Monica Mountains on New Years Day. CORBA invites you for a little off-road riding on January 11th. The New York Times looks at the LAPD’s idiotic crackdown on DTLA pedestrians; thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

Camarillo reaches the final phase of a four-mile bike path. Wildomar will get bike lanes and sidewalks on two major streets. The Badwater Ultramarathon race will bypass Death Valley this year due to the National Park Service moratorium; the Furnace Creek 508 bike race will likely suit. Thirteen reasons you should make a resolution to ride to work. English research scientist killed by big rig truck in Oakland. There’s more than one way to celebrate Christmas.

The boom in bicycling causes the old bike tax suggestion to rear its ugly head once again — despite the fact that bikes cause little or no wear and tear on the streets and cyclists already overpay for their share of the road. Michael Eisenberg also forwards news of the hot rod of electric bikes. Building a better fat bike for Arctic riding. Colorado tests a new way to measure bicycle traffic. Cyclists petition for bike lanes near Colorado National Monument. Turns out there’s another bike swallowed by a tree, this time in Oklahoma. An Alexandria VA resident says trading parking spaces for bike lanes in a worthy sacrifice.

Pro cyclists pick the best and worst of the recent racing season. New safety devices can’t cure bad road design. Motorized traffic is declining in London, but so is bicycling. Kiwi rider hit by egg from moving car.

Finally, in a pair of stories worthy of the season, a Mesa AZ cop rescues a little girl from a kidnapper — then buys her a new bike after the one she was riding is impounded as evidence. And a Good Samaritan buys a Chicago woman a new bike after she posts a very public notice when hers is stolen. 

Update — 37-year old cyclist critically injured in Westside dooring

Word is just coming in that a bike rider suffered severe injuries after being doored last night.

According to an email from LAPD West Traffic Division bike liaison Sgt. Laszlo Sandor, a 37-year old bicyclist was riding south on Barrington near the intersection with San Vicente in Brentwood at 6:46 pm when he came in contact with the open door of a parked car.

No word on whether the victim, whose name was withheld due to privacy restrictions, was hit by the door as it was opened, or if he collided with it after the door was opened in front of him.

Barrington is a narrow, two-lane street on both sides of San Vicente, with substandard-width lanes that legally allow riders to take the lane in order to avoid the door zone. However, heavy traffic and impatient drivers encourage many cyclists to ride in the door zone, where passing cars can leave them trapped with nowhere to go if one of those doors should open.

Sgt. Sandor reports the rider is in critical condition and was in surgery last night for head trauma.

No helmet was found at the scene. This is exactly the sort of relatively slow-speed impact helmets are designed to protect against; however, there’s no way of knowing whether one could have made a difference in this case.

He was also using a headlamp and tail light, so he should have been visible to the driver.

And no word yet on whether the driver was cited. Drivers are almost always at fault in a dooring; CVC 22517 clearly requires that drivers only open car doors when it is safe to do so.

22517.  No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Head trauma is never a good thing; if not life-threatening, it can often be life-changing, sometimes permanently. So prayers, good thoughts and/or best wishes for the rider are definitely in order.

More details when and if they become available.

Update: I was just forwarded the following email, which went out as part of a community crime report from a Brentwood-area homeowner’s association. 

Unfortunately, an accident occurred last night on the 600 block of Barrington involving a cyclist and a vehicle. My partner and I were the first responders at scene.  The severity of the accident moves me to encourage all cyclists to PLEASE wear helmets — even for short trips. The cyclist is in critical condition and sadly, it doesn’t look good for him. 

A man sitting in his parked vehicle opened his door just as the cyclist passed and the cyclist clipped the door sending him head first onto the pavement. Does everyone know that it is the driver’s responsibility to look behind them before opening their door? The driver was incredibly shaken and upset and did not realize, until the traffic officers gently explained to him, that he was the party likely at fault. 

As our community continues to increasingly utilize cycling as a mode of transportation, please be ever aware of cyclists maneuvering throughout the traffic. And cyclists please wear your helmets and follow the rules of the road—all the rules of the road—for your own safety and protection.

Thank you. My apologies go out to the Brentwood Homeowner’s Association board and members for missing the meeting that I was en route to when we came upon the accident. I’ll make every effort to be at the next one….

Thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up.

Update 2: I’ve received confirmation that the victim, identified as Julio Martinez, died sometime after he was hospitalized; I haven’t been able to confirm the date. His brother, who worked with Martinez at the Belwood Bakery on Barrington Court, took his body back to their hometown in Mexico. 

This is the 88th bicycling fatality in Southern California in 2013, and the 39th in Los Angeles County. It’s also the 18th in the City of Los Angeles — a 360% increase over 2012.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Julio Martinez and all his family and loved ones.

Today’s post, in which I catch up on all the latest news, including cyclists who come out of nowhere

I can’t even tell you how much stories like this piss me off.

According to the Daily Pilot, a Costa Mesa rider suffered major injuries when she was hit by a car before sunrise Monday morning.

The driver was headed east on Bay Street when he turned right on Newport Blvd and heard a loud noise, then found 44-year old Michelle Lounsbury trapped underneath his car.

In other words, he had no idea she was anywhere around when he made his turn.

Now, it’s always possible that it could have been her fault, at least in part.

She may or may not have been using lights in the early morning darkness. She may or may not have been properly positioned on the roadway, and riding in safe manner. The story doesn’t offer enough information to know what really happened.

On the other hand, if she’s close enough to run over, she should be close enough to see.

Every driver has an obligation to be aware of anyone and everyone else on the roadway. If someone is capable of being seen, it’s the driver’s obligation to see them — especially before making a turn.

Too often, that doesn’t happen.

Too often, someone gets hurt as a result. Or worse.

And too often, police accept “I just didn’t see her” as the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, as the last line of that story may suggest.

Best wishes to Michelle Lounsbury for a full and fast recovery.

………

I’ve gotten several reports of other serious SoCal bike collisions that have left riders badly injured over the past few days, so far without any follow-up.

In cases like this, no news is usually good news. So let’s hope that continues to be the case.

But some prayers or good thoughts might be in order if you’re so inclined.

………

After Mayor Garcetti lets LADOT chief Jaime De La Vega go, the Times questions whether NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan might be the right replacement. Word is Chicago’s exceptional DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein is about to become available, as well.

That’s a hint, Mr. Mayor.

Meanwhile, the LACBC’s Executive Director Jen Klausner offers an OpEd in response to a Times opinion piece claiming LA will never be a bike-friendly place. According to Klausner, our streets aren’t safe enough, but we’re getting there.

……..

Thanks to John Stesney for sending word of an upcoming bike race at the StubHub Center. Since he did a pretty good job of describing it, I’ll let him tell the story.

The Los Angeles Grand Prix will be held at the Velo Sports Center (i.e., the velodrome)  at the StubHub Center in Carson, Friday, November 22, through Sunday, November 24. It’s a UCI event, with UCI points, which means international fastest-of-the-fast fields. It isn’t free, but it’s not expensive either, especially since you can see the whole race, and you actually get a seat. (It beats standing alongside a road for hours just to watch the guys come by once.)

………

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition calls on the city to move beyond low-hanging fruit in building bikeways, and sponsors a petition calling for cycletracks in LA. Cracks begin to show in official support for the deadly, highway speed proposal to remake the Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex, as CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell promises mores study; meanwhile, the LACBC calls for action. A new bike corral opens in Atwater. You’re invited to ride in the NELA Holiday Parade December 1st. Streetsblog says the new 7th Street bike lanes are looking good. A look at the Dia de los Muertos altar to fallen cyclists in Grand Park over the weekend; thanks to Joni for the link.

The San Diego Bicycle Coalition needs your help to help create a more livable Coastal Rail Trail. Cyclelicious looks at the ideology of bicycling. It looks like the beavers are back to destroy Bakersfield’s Kern River bike path. Boyonabike enjoys a car-free Santa Barbara weekend, along with several thousand other Open Streets participants. Cyclists say the recent fix for Caltrans’ Highway 1 chip sealing disaster has been a failure. San Luis Obispo is getting a $64 million bike plan. Turns out electric cars are just as deadly as the other kind — especially if the driver is asleep behind the wheel. A 12-year old Berkeley bicyclist rides the entire Left Coast to draw attention to climate change. It’s that time of year to focus on being seen after dark.

How to work with police for smarter enforcement. How Complete Streets became hip. A new bike alarm uses a sort of crowdsourcing to recover your stolen bike. A look at bicycle insurance and the nation’s most dangerous states for riding. The battle to make Yuma bike friendly. The “six kids and no car” mom has her bakfiets stolen. Bike Portland offers an ode to bicycle butts. Portland tests solar powered lights to call attention to a bike path; reviews are mixed. Mad City offers cyclists a choice of bike path or bike lane along the same route. Building right hooks by design in Chicago. The Chicago Reader offers an in-depth look at a fallen cyclist, the driver who killed him and our lenient drunk driving laws. A Columbus OH reporter and bike blogger is critically injured in a cycling collision; the driver is charged with his second DUI in two weeks — but amazingly, it’s just a misdemeanor offense. Seriously? A New Hampshire hit-and-run driver ran over and killed her former boyfriend; just a coincidence, right? A Boston cyclist has a dangerously close encounter with a spoiled motorist and her driving dog. Ridership is up for New York’s Citi Bike bike share program, which isn’t the death trap critics had feared, or perhaps, hoped for, in some cases; but no jokes about riding Brooke Shields, please. Delaware no longer says Share the Road.

Canadian pediatricians call for mandatory helmet laws for everyone, perhaps hoping to reduce the rate of cycling, as well as injuries. Is Toronto’s bike-hating mayor a crack-smoking serial drunk driver? If you build it, they really will come; study shows investing in bikeways results in increased journeys while reducing motor trips. The rate of cyclists killed or injured on London streets went up 18% last year. Bristol England prepares to go Dutch. Indian cyclists are getting crushed — sometimes literally — in the nation’s rush to prosperity. An Aussie site asks if the media helps whip up anti-cyclist rage; well, duh.

Finally, how to survive the coming Zombie Apocalypse through bike share, including advice that wearing a helmet makes it harder for zombies to feast on your brain. On the other hand, how you ride your bike could offer prospective employers insight into yours.

Bike hate and road rage rear their ugly heads in San Diego County, leaving one rider seriously injured

Photo by @bikeSD

Photo from Sam Ollinger of BikeSD.com

Some people don’t even try to hide their willingness — if not desire — to kill you for getting in their way.

Bike San Diego reports coming across a frightening sign on the side of the road saying it’s better to run over a cyclist than risk a head-on collision by going around one.

I think the writer misunderstands the basic concept of sharing the road. It does not mean that bike riders have to get the hell out of the way, despite what some impatient drivers might suggest.

And unless you’re a total ass behind the wheel, hell-bent on getting where you’re going as fast as humanly possible regardless of the cost, it is in fact possible to wait patiently until it’s safe to pass, and avoid the risk of collision altogether.

The writer also makes it clear that he — I’m assuming, perhaps erroneously, that such a hate-filled colossal pile of human waste capable of writing something like this must be a he — couldn’t care less about the person on that bike if it’s in his way.

On the other hand, he very carefully avoids crossing the line by actually inciting violence. The sign is on private property, and as offensive as it is, the writer has a First Amendment right to express his highly objectionable opinion as long as he doesn’t actually encourage drivers to run cyclists over.

On the other hand, if he even so much as bumps the wheel of a bike, this sign could offer proof of criminal intent.

For the rest of his life.

………

A San Diego cyclist was nearly killed in a collateral damage collision between two road raging drivers on Saturday.

The drivers were reportedly jockeying for position where two travel lanes merged into a single lane on State Route 67 in Poway. The vehicles sideswiped one another, causing the pickup in the right lane to swerve into the rider, who was taking part in the Pedal the Cause ride to raise funds for cancer research.

Both drivers left the scene; frighteningly, the driver of the pickup reportedly had no idea he hit her.

The victim was hospitalized with major injuries, including broken bones; doctors said her helmet saved her life. Personally, I’d blame a couple of dangerously aggressive jerks for nearly taking it, instead.

And that’s the difference between the risks posed by cyclists and drivers, which so many bike-hating motorists don’t seem to get.

Even the most aggressive cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while aggressive drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Update: According to San Diego’s NBC-7, the 38-year old victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding in a marked bike lane when the collision occurred; her injuries are described as severe but not life threatening. 

The two drivers are both 50-year old men, which is certainly old enough to know better. 

And speaking of knowing better, NBC-7 should know than a collision that results from the intentional act of two drivers each refusing to yield to the other may be many things. But it is no more an accident than if they had used guns rather than motor vehicles to settle their dispute.

………

Despite a state law requiring bike helmets for anyone under 18, only 11% of LA children injured while riding a bike were wearing theirs. Children over 12, minority children and children from low income families are least likely to wear one.

………

Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 9th at 4 pm when The Long Bike Back screens at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood as part of the All Sports Film Festival.

The new film traces the recovery and cross country ride of a cyclist seriously injured in a bicycling collision.

Pearson Constantino was preparing to fulfill his lifelong dream of bicycling across the United States when he was hit from behind by an SUV.  Despite his helmet, Pearson suffered serious injuries including a shattered femur, a crushed vertebra, and head trauma.

The Long Bike Back follows his recovery and his exciting bike ride across America with his brother Pete advocating for safer roads and reminding people of the joy of riding a bicycle.

Pearson and Pete’s cross-country journey covers the length of historic US Route 20.  Along the way, Pearson encounters many unexpected challenges including record high temperatures, flooding, food poisoning, inhospitable drivers, poor road conditions, crashes, detours, flat tires, and new injuries which inspire him to recommit to what matters most.

………

A writer for the Times suggests licensing bike riders, but acknowledges it might not make a bit of difference. You’re invited to ride Central Avenue this Sunday. The 7th Street bike lanes are being extended from Figueroa to Main St, hopefully taming what has long been one of the most dangerous streets I regularly ride. Rick Risemberg joins about a hundred other riders to plead for bike lanes on Lankershim Blvd, and calls out “Uncle Tom” LaBonge for betraying the bicyclists he claims to support. The Eagle Rock community celebrates the new Colorado Blvd, though the comments suggest not every community member does. An Atwater Village advocate complains about last minute attempts to add bike lanes and sidewalks to the proposed Hyperion-Glendale bridge makeover, failing to note they were included in the 2010 bike plan; Streetsblog’s Damien Newton counts 45 speakers against the proposed plans for a highway speed makeover at tonight’s meeting, and only 3 in favor. The Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills asks a somewhat biased question about bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica will host a bike expo next to the pier next May. You can now call them Santa Monica’s award-winning Ocean Park green bike lanes. SoCalCycling offers results from Sunday’s Krosstoberfest along with photos from Saturday’s Spooky Cross; CLR Effect offers more great photos. South Pas prioritizes sidewalks over bike lanes. Best wishes to Seth at Cycling in the South Bay, who hits the pavement hard in a gnarly 10-bike crash caught on video; he credits his helmet with preserving his brain matter. Corona del Mar hosted a Halloween costume ride over the weekend. The embattled Bike Nation bike share system lives on in Fullerton. There’s still time to attend the California Bike Summit in Oakland next month.

How to avoid bike-on-bike crashes; maybe the group Seth was riding with should have read this first. Well yeah, if you built a bike path next to it, maybe the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t be such a total ecological disaster after all. The late, great Lou Reed was one of us. A Portland man steals his stolen bike back, and helps bust a theft ring. No more excuses — bike-friendly Portland built their entire bikeway network for the price of a single mile of urban freeway; just imagine what all that money wasted on the much-maligned 405 makeover would buy. In yet another Portland story, a clown has his tall bike stolen, while people report someone approaching strangers trying to sell one for 20 bucks. Just heartbreaking: A 92-year old Chicago-area man was killed when his adult tricycle was hit by a speeding car. Security is increased after an Illinois bike rider threatens blue-eyed private school children. If you’re bicycling in Ohio, make sure you’re not riding recreationally if you want any protection under the law. Maybe it’s time to stop being polite when a law-breaking driver threatens your safety. Just heartbreaking 2: An 89-year old Florida man is killed in a left cross while riding his adult tricycle in a crosswalk. Bike lanes may reduce the frequency of collisions, but not their severity.

The effectiveness of pro cycling’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission depends on how far back they go; I doubt the golden, dope-free age of cycling we all fondly want to remember ever existed. British parents write about the loss of their bike-riding daughter. Maybe #space4cycling should be #space4people. How to stay cycle chic all winter; wouldn’t those shorts be cold, though? A Brit bike rider verbally — and physically — abuses a 12-year old girl after a minor collision; seriously, that’s taking general obnoxious jerkishness way too far. A writer for the Guardian says the lack of a women’s Tour de France keeps cycling in the dark ages. Video shows an Amsterdam cyclist nearly crushed by a tree felled by yesterday’s hurricane force winds. Just a slight disconnect here, as a New Deli writer complains about how dangerous it is for bike riders to commute to work in the city — like his driver, for instance. Katy Perry rides Down Under, sans skid lid; now that I think about it, I don’t recall if she was wearing one when I saw her riding with her ex on the South Bay bike path awhile back. Japanese bureaucracy is effectively banning biking to work.

Finally, the future meets the past with this new e-Penny Farthing. And there was a time when Malibu actually encouraged people to bike there; as the photo suggests, though, it was a long time ago. Thanks to Jen Klausner for the heads-up. 

Malibu Pro-Bike Cover

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