Tag Archive for Carol Schreder

Driver arraigned in death of cyclist Carol Schreder; a light charge is better than no charge at all. Right?

Ghost bike installed on Mulholland Highway for cyclist and Hollywood producer Carol Schreder; photo courtesy of Chris Willig.

Maybe we’ll see justice for Carol Schreder after all.

Or some justice, anyway.

After months of being told the cycling death of Hollywood producer and cyclist Carol Schreder was nothing more than an unfortunate accident, I’ve been informed that a charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide will be filed.

Correction — has already been filed, in apparent secrecy and without the knowledge of her family and friends.

Last week, I received an email telling me that the driver, Stafford Drake Taylor, was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday. Then over the weekend, I got another email from the same source letting me know that the arraignment actually took place last Thursday, with no one close to the case informed of it — even after it was over.

Then again, I’m told they were never officially invited to the planned Monday arraignment, either.

So much for keeping the victim’s family in the loop.

Then there’s the question of why authorities suddenly decided to file charges. And why they settled for a misdemeanor charge when there were numerous reports that Taylor was speeding and driving recklessly in the moments leading up to the collision.

Sources who have seen the CHP collision report tell me the vehicle that killed Schreder was a jacked-up 1989 Ford Econoline van pulling a brakeless, owner modified trailer; one person describes the rig as looking like something out of a Mad Max movie.

The report indicates that Schreder was riding on the right shoulder of Mulholland Highway west of Kanan Road, wearing a helmet and bright colored clothing.

According to the report, Taylor initially told police at the scene he was following about four car lengths behind a green Toyota at about 20 to 30 miles per hour when he saw the car ahead slow for a cyclist riding about three feet to the left of the solid white line. Taylor reported that he jammed on his brakes and cut to the right in an attempt to avoid the car and Schreder’s bike, causing his rig to jackknife and strike Schreder.

The next day, Taylor came into the CHP station to clarify his statement to police. Now, he said, he was traveling at approximately 45 mph, following the car ahead by four car lengths or less, while the cyclist was now riding six feet to the left of the white line.

When the Toyota slowed, he said he had to react quickly so he jammed on his brakes and cut to the right, somehow thinking he could slide past the truck and cyclist on their right. Instead, he claimed Schreder moved back to the right when the Toyota apparently startled her, placing her directly in his path.

According to Taylor, he had slowed to about 30 mph when the trailer jackknifed and he hit Schreder with the left front of his jacked-up van, come to rest on the right curb on top of her bicycle.

The CHP notes that Taylor’s truck left a number of skid marks as long as 106 feet, which would indicate a high rate of speed, despite being just a few hundred feet from a controlled interesection. And despite previous speculation that the collision could have been caused by the windy conditions that day, the report indicates that wind was not a factor.

The traffic collision report indicates that a number of cyclists were stopped at the scene when the officers arrived, including a physician who performed CPR until the paramedics arrived — confirming a comment on the original story.

Yet the CHP didn’t interview any of the riders at the scene, or even take their names for possible follow-up later. And I’ve heard from people who attempted to contact the CHP to tell them they’d seen the van driving dangerously prior to the collision — including a cyclist who was nearly hit by the same van just moments earlier — only to be turned away without being allowed to talk to anyone.

In fact, according to the collision report, the only witness the police spoke to was the driver of the Toyota, who described seeing Taylor’s van approaching from behind at a high rate of speed before watching it hit Schreder’s bike.

Maybe I’m confused.

I understand that police can’t file a misdemeanor charge unless they either witness it themselves or can deduce from the physical evidence just what happened. But doesn’t it make sense to talk to all the witnesses and gather as much information as possible before deciding what charges to file?

If Taylor was driving as recklessly as the witnesses have claimed, shouldn’t that suggest a felony charge, with a possible sentence of two to 10 years in state prison, rather than the relative slap on the wrist of up to one year in county jail for the misdemeanor count?

And why all the apparent secrecy and attempts to keep Schreder’s family and close friends out of the loop? Especially when the families of other victims have complemented the DA’s office for going out of their way to keep them informed and a part of the process.

It makes me wonder if there’s already a plea deal in the works and they don’t want objections from the family to get in the way.

Trust me, I’m pleasantly surprised that charges are finally in the works. Although stunned might be a better word.

But mad as hell that it looks like yet another driver may get off with a minimal sentence, while his innocent victim gets the death penalty.

Yes, a slap on the wrist is better than nothing at all.

But cyclists are going to keep on dying if authorities don’t start taking dangerous killer drivers seriously.

LAPD never responded to Susanna Schick road rage assault — and aren’t sure it was one

My worst fears about the Susanna Schick collision were realized today.

Despite being run down by a road raging driver just blocks from LAPD headquarters, the police were never notified that a cyclist was lying facedown in the street for upwards of 15 minutes Friday night.

Or if they were notified, they never responded.

And no police report was ever filed.

I spoke with a reporter from the L.A. Times Tuesday morning, who mentioned that he’d been calling the police all morning. And everyone he spoke with said this was the first they’d heard of the hit-and-run road rage collision that put Susanna Schick in the ICU with a concussion and multiple fractures.

Absolutely horrifying.

At best, the call fell through the cracks on a holiday weekend. Maybe the paramedics were notified, and the call never got to the police. That’s scary enough.

Far worse is the possibility that any of us — cyclist, pedestrian or motorist — could be left lying in the street waiting for police who might never come.

Hopefully, Schick’s family managed to work their way through the police bureaucracy and get an investigation started today — giving a dangerous driver nearly three full days to cover his tracks.

We may all be a lot less safe on the streets than we thought.


Just received word that a police report was finally filed today. But without witnesses or video evidence, police are treating Schick’s injury as a solo fall, and ignoring — or at least downplaying — the allegations that there was another vehicle involved. Let alone that it was a case of a road rage assault and hit-and-run.

Evidently, we really are on our own out there.

And while they appear to be downplaying Schick’s allegations, I’m told that a cyclist was ticketed in the same area for riding without reflectors on his pedals, despite having both front and back lights.

Yes, it’s illegal.

But probably the most technical, BS violation they could write a rider up for, rather than focusing their efforts on keeping us safe from the drivers who want to run us down.

In light of the LAPD’s massive failure in the Schick case, this is just rubbing salt in the wound.


As for a medical update on her condition, word is that Schick’s doctors are trying to avoid surgery if possible. But she’s looking at a minimum of two months in the hospital or an assisted living facility before she gets back on her feet.

Her family also asks that friends refrain from visiting for the next few days so she can get her rest; too many visitors — and reporters — have worn her out.

The other burning question has been how her bike got back home; I’m told the paramedics dropped the bike off after delivering her to the ER.

And people continue to open their hearts and wallets, as 105 people have contributed $3700 to help defray her medical expenses as of 11 pm Monday.

There are days I’m really proud of my fellow cyclists.


Several news sources have picked up the story, including the L.A. Times, KTLA-5, LAist — including a follow-up —  KNBC-4 and KPCC public radio; ESBK offers a personal reflection, as does Gas 2.0 and Net Impact Los Angeles, where Susanna Schick is part of the leadership team. Even the L.A. Weekly had a surprisingly even-handed report, while KCRW’s Shortcuts blog picked up my own posts (thanks Kajon). Toronto bike blog Bike Lane Diary reported on the collision, as did our own Claremont Cyclist.

Meanwhile, KCBS-2 ignored the family’s wishes and invaded interviewed Schick in her hospital room; the hospital has been instructed to keep the press out in the future while she recovers.


A couple other quick notes on other bike-related subjects —

The first public workshop on the proposed Beverly Hills Bike Route Pilot Project will take place Wednesday evening; Better Bike’s Mark Elliot offers his thoughts on the subject.

Central Coast cyclists are fighting ill-advised rumble strips on Highway 1; thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

In case you missed it, a Bay Area cyclist could face manslaughter charges after blowing through an intersection and killing a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The rider reportedly posted online that he had entered the intersection on the yellow and that the light had turned red before he could get all the way across, and that he had done everything he could to avoid injuring anyone. Right. I’ve laid my bike on its side to avoid hitting someone else, knowing it was going to hurt like hell. And it did. But the other guy walked away, and that was all that really mattered. Thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the tip.

Meanwhile, Streetblog SF points out that cars still kill a lot more pedestrians than bikes do.

A speeding teenage driver loses control in Concord, and kills a father and daughter riding their bikes on the sidewalk, leaving a second daughter with less serious injuries.

The recently founded West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition has started documenting hazards to cyclists in the city, and wants your help to add to the list.

My favorite non-L.A. bikewear designer offers a look at her new spring women’s line, which somehow manages to be practical, stylish and sexy at the same time. Hey Nona — you know us guys need clothes too, right?

And finally, Chris Willig sends a photo of the ghost bike that was installed for Mulholland bike victim Carol Schreder; let’s all be grateful we didn’t need another one this past weekend.

Bad day in San Diego area, as one cyclist is killed and another critically injured

Just heartbreaking.

A 77-year old cyclist was killed while riding past a school in Chula Vista Thursday morning, and another cyclist suffered life-threatening injuries in a second collision Thursday afternoon.

In the first case, the victim was riding past Chula Vista’s Rice Elementary School when an employee of the school, described only as “elderly,” pulled out of the parking lot around 8:30 am, hitting the cyclist with her Jeep Cherokee. The rider, whose name has been withheld, was taken to a nearby hospital where he died about an hour later.

It’s unsure if the driver will face charges, though the police note the victim did have the right-of-way.

This is the 5th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego County. And we’re less than three weeks into the new year.

In the second case, a cyclist in his mid 40’s was riding in the bike lane on Sorrento Valley Blvd east of Whispering Heights Lane when he was rear-ended by a Toyota driven by a 75-year old woman about 1:05 pm.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports the rider was thrown from his bike and run over by the car, which ended up against a tree with the unconscious cyclist trapped underneath. A police spokesman said at least three witnesses saw the collision; one told police the driver was using a cell phone just before the collision.

According to the paper, doctors say he will be a paraplegic if he survives.

My heart and prayers to both victims and their loved ones.

Update: The victim has been identified as Robert Howard Marshall of Chula Vista, a 20-year Navy veteran of Korea and Vietnam. He leaves behind his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

That’s what’s so heartbreaking about any traffic fatality. It’s not a statistic, but a real human being with a life and loved ones. And whose death leaves a huge hole that can never be filled in the live of everyone who knew him.

Thanks to Philip Young for forwarding the identification.


A couple of other quick notes.

A memorial service will be held for Hollywood writer/producer Carol Schreder at noon Sunday, March 4th at the Aero Theater at Montana and 14th in Santa Monica. As you may recall, she was killed by an out-of-control van on Mulholland Hwy in the Malibu Hills last month; at last word, the CHP was still unwilling to take action against the driver, despite repeated reports that he was speeding and driving recklessly prior to the collision.

Bike advocate Richard Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, writes to remind us about this weekend’s midnight bike movies at the Vista Theater in Silverlake, with four short films all set in the world of L.A. bicycling.

Finally, congratulation to new LACBC board members Herbie Huff, Lynn Ingram and Efren Moreno. Alex Amerri was elected board president at the board meeting on Wednesday, with Steve Boyd as Vice President and Greg Laemmle elected Treasurer; Scott Moore continues as Secretary. Alex replaces outgoing President Chet Kostrzewa, who has done a great job guiding the Coalition through a period of rapidly expanding influence over the past few years and will be very missed.

My apologies to everyone looking for an analysis of last year’s cycling fatalities, as I had promised on Twitter Thursday. Unfortunately, today’s bad news takes precedence; barring any further breaking news, I’ll have the story online Monday. Look for some very surprising findings, including the possibility that neither L.A. or the door zone is as dangerous as you might think.

Christine Dahab to face felony DUI charges, ID in July Downtown bike fatality, Cpt. Hines behind bars

Against all odds, justice prevailed in Culver City.

According to the Culver City Patch, Christine Dahab has been charged with felony DUI and DWI in the June collision that left 13 cyclists injured — some seriously — when she plowed into a group of riders stopped on the side of West Jefferson Place.

The DA’s office charged Dahab on Nov. 11 with violating California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (A) [Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol causing injury], and California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (B) [Driving while Intoxicated above a .08 blood alcohol content, causing injury].

Both charges are felonies. Dahab wil be formally arraigned at the Los Angeles Airport Court on Dec. 22.

Many local cyclists had given up on ever getting justice in the case, following an initial finding by the LAPD that the cyclists were at fault for standing in the roadway.

According to the finding, the riders became pedestrians the moment some had dismounted from their bikes to wait for stragglers, and so could not legally stand in the roadway — even though most, if not all, of the riders were waiting in the parking lane rather than the traffic lane.

And police falsely claimed that Dahab’s visibility was limited by a blind curve, even though a subsequent test by local riders made it clear that the cyclists should have been readily visible to any non-distracted driver.

To make matters worse, some irresponsible members of the press quoted an unidentified LAPD officer implying that the riders were engaged in a drunken orgy in the middle of the street, noting the presence of beer bottles and condoms in the area where the cyclists were waiting. Yet failed to observe that the area is a popular hangout for people looking for a secluded place to party, and that they could have been left there days or weeks before.

It’s a slander that has entered the public consciousness, as shown by today’s report by LAist that claimed authorities had “found alcohol, condoms and marijuana used by the group.” Even though no reports at the time had ever connected the objects to the riders themselves.

Fortunately, later examination of the city limits revealed that the collision had actually occurred in Culver City.

And while it may have taken a long time, the results indicate that the CCPD took the matter seriously despite the LAPD’s initial finding, and an investigation hampered by the reluctance of many witnesses to come forward.

Thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up.


Thanks to the efforts of cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, we finally have a name for the cyclist who was killed at 8th and Francisco in Downtown L.A. last July.

While the collision was initially reported as collateral damage in a road rage case, the LAPD investigators quickly ruled that out for a lack of evidence, despite witness reports that the driver had been arguing with another driver.

Instead, police investigators ruled that Victor Apaseo-Rodriguez was killed as a result of a narrowed roadway, combined with drivers angling to enter a freeway onramp.

Part of the delay in identifying Rodriguez was the difficulty contacting his next of kin, who lived outside the country. Yet even after they were notified, I was unable to get either the name of the victim or the driver charged with causing his death, despite repeated requests.

Fortunately, Wheels succeeded where I failed.

Acording to Wheels, the driver, Phillip Goldburn Williams, was charged with a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence on October 6th, and arraigned in Metro Court Dept. 60 on October 28th, case number 1MP09818. However, Wheels notes that Williams’ attorney did not enter a plea at that time, and the case has been continued to January 19, 2012.

It will be interesting to watch this case move forward, and see if there’s a reason why authorities were so reluctant to release information that should have been a matter of public record


Speaking of Dj Wheels, we both had a brief scare earlier in the week when it appeared that disgraced Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines had been released on time served, despite a sentence of one year in Orange County jail.

And even that seems like a slap on the wrist for critically injuring cyclist Jeffery Gordon while driving drunk at nearly three times the legal limit — then driving home, reportedly without slowing down, leaving his victim bleeding in the street.

This from a man trained to save victims just like the one he caused.

Fortunately, it was all a misunderstanding.

Wheel’s had followed up on Hines’ incarceration, only to discover that the OC Sheriff’s inmate locator page said Hines had been released at 9:40 am on November 30th. What it didn’t say, and what was missing from all the news stories about his sentencing, was that the judge took the current prison overcrowding problems into account in crafting his sentence, and ruled that Hines can spend his time in an approved city jail, monitored by the county probation department.

In effect, it’s a tougher sentence then he would have gotten in county lockup, where Hines could have enjoyed a Lindsay Lohan-like express route through the system, and been released after serving less than half his already light sentence.

Now he will be required to serve out the full time.

Wheels also notes that the judge specifically structured the sentence to prevent Hines from getting credit for his time in rehab. And that his five-year probation following his release won’t be an easy path, but instead will require monthly reporting duties and fees, along with possible warrantless searches — and that any screw-up anywhere along the way could mean an immediate trip to state prison to serve out the remainder of the probationary period.

So maybe, just maybe, this was less a slap on the wrist than a swift kick in the ass.


Despite reports to the contrary, Stephanie Segal has not been sentenced in the death of cyclist James Laing.

There was some confusion when she was expected to plead to guilty at a hearing on November 29th. However, the defense balked after asking the judge for an indicated ruling — that is, an estimate of what the sentence would be if the defendant changed her plea in open court.

When the defense heard a possible sentence in excess of nine years, they immediately withdrew the plea; a preliminary hearing is now scheduled for December 13th.

It sounds like the judge is giving this case the serious consideration it deserves, and for a change, intends to hold Segal fully accountable for getting drunk and killing another human being.

Now if we could just get him to talk with the CHP.


Last night, I received an email from one of the two riders who tried to assist Carol Schreder immediately after the collision that took her life on Mulholland Hwy last Saturday.

In it, he described comforting her until the paramedics arrived, noting that she was unresponsive, but did manage to squeeze his hand as he held hers. He did not want to share the devastating details in the comments on here, but wanted to come forward to help her family and friends as they try to piece together what really happened that day.

Personally, I can’t think of any higher act of kindness that any person could perform than to simply be there for someone so badly hurt, and let her know she’s not alone in her time of need. My heart goes out to him as he continues to struggle with the painful memories of that morning.

As well as my thanks for stepping up to help a total stranger.

He also mentioned that a doctor came along to help before the paramedics arrived, as well as a photographer to took some pictures of the collision scene. And sure enough, earlier this morning I saw a photo posted online that appeared to show Schreder’s bike shortly after the wreck.

While there was nothing identifying it as the bike she’d ridden, it looked identical to her bike in every way, and was dated the same day as her collision.

But what the photo showed was shocking.

While the CHP has stated that the driver’s van and trailer jackknifed, striking Schreder’s bike with the right rear of the van, this photo clearly showed the aftermath of a rear end collision. The rear wheel of the bike was jammed under the van’s left front wheel, and a gash in the frame corresponded to the upper ridge of the van’s front bumper, with the van coming to rest at a nearly 90-degree angle to the side of the road.

Simply put, it would have been physically impossible for the bike to have ended up in that position if the collision occurred the way the CHP described. Which calls into further question their already dubious decision not to file charges or ticket the driver, calling it just an “unfortunate accident.”

Unfortunately, shortly after I emailed the photographer to ask for permission to use his photo, the shot disappeared from his website, and I have not received a response as of this writing.

I can only hope that he will do the right thing.

And regardless of whether he ever lets me share it with you, that he will forward it to the CHP and Schreder’s family, so they can get the justice they deserve in this case.


Finally, in one of the most bizarre cases I’m aware of, a Virginia driver is fined just $500 for recklessly running down a German tourist touring the U.S. by bike — then initially fleeing the scene before returning, claiming he was chasing a mythical driver who forced him off the road.

That’s $500 for putting a visitor to this country into a coma he may never come out of.

And that’s what too often passes for justice for cyclists in America.

No wonder we continue to die on California streets, when CHP says killing a cyclist is just an accident

This morning I received the following email from Chris Willig regarding the tragic death of Hollywood writer/producer Carol Schreder while riding on Mulholland Hwy last Saturday.

A public spokesperson for the CHP West Valley station stated in a phone call Monday that no citation has been issued nor is there likely to be one in the December 3rd death of cyclist Carol Schreder in a tragic traffic incident on Mulholland Highway in Malibu.

He indicated that it was a “unfortunate accident” caused when a possibly inexperienced driver of a van towing a trailer applied the brakes too hard. This caused the trailer to force the van to the right in a jack-knife. The rear end of the van caught Carol who was riding on the right of the fog line severely injuring her. She later died in hospital. Because there was no “criminal intent”, charges against the van’s driver are not being considered.

Wait a minute.

Since when has “criminal intent” been a required element for a traffic infraction?

Under that standard, no one would ever be held accountable for any traffic violation in California. No tickets for running red lights. No violations for driving drunk, since it would be impossible to ever prove intent.

Not even a ticket for distracted driving, since drivers could claim they just broke the law without thinking, and didn’t really mean to do it.

You know, just one of those things.

Like killing a cyclist.

And that, in a nutshell, is why you can count the number of knowledgeable cyclists who still have faith in the CHP on one hand, and have enough fingers left over for a well-deserved gesture.

After all, this is the same organization that said cyclists are responsible for the overwhelming majority of bike-involved collisions — based strictly on their own auto-centric investigations, as well as their pronounced lack of training in the rights and responsibilities of of cyclists and the physics of bicycling collisions.

Let alone that this is the same organization that advised Governor Brown to veto the state’s three-foot passing law.

And despite the fact that it only takes a quick scan of the California Vehicle Code to find a number of violations for which the driver could, and perhaps should, have been cited.

Like the California Basic Speed Law, for instance.

CVC 22350.  No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

Even if strong crosswinds contributed to this collision, as some have suggested, the driver would have been in violation of the requirement mandating due regard for weather. And at least one other cyclist reports that the van was seen traveling at an excessive rate of speed just prior to the collision.

Then there’s the requirement to follow at a safe distance; the fact that the driver had to brake sharply to avoid the vehicle ahead offers prima facie evidence that the driver was in violation — let alone that there was a stop sign just 260 feet ahead of the point of impact.

CVC 21703.  The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.

And most damning of all is the requirement for drivers towing a trailer to maintain control of both vehicles.

CVC 41104.  In any case, involving an accident or otherwise, where any rear component of a train of vehicles fails to follow substantially in the path of the towing vehicle while moving upon a highway, the vehicle shall be presumed to have been operated in violation of Section 21711.

CVC 21711.  No person shall operate a train of vehicles when any vehicle being towed whips or swerves from side to side or fails to follow substantially in the path of the towing vehicle.

According to the standard set forth in CVC 41104, the simple fact that the collision occurred in the way it did is demonstrates a clear violation that the driver should have been held accountable for, regardless of a possible lack of experience.

And proof that the driver should have been found at fault for the collision, and the death that resulted.

By failing to hold a killer driver responsible for his actions, the CHP has not only failed Carol Schreder, her family and loved ones, but the entire cycling community.

Because we will continue to die on California roadways as long as authorities allow drivers to break the law with impunity.

And just drive away, regardless of the consequences.

If you’re not pissed off yet, maybe you should go back and read this again.

Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the CHP West Valley Station 5825 De Soto Ave, Woodland Hills 91367-5297; 818-888-0980; maybe if they hear from enough witnesses they’ll reverse this outrageous decision.

Give your loved ones the gift of peace of mind this holiday season

The tragic news about Carol Schreder brought a lot of responses this morning.

One of the most moving was exchange of emails with a 40-year friend of Carol’s, telling me how loved she was by everyone who knew her.

She was the most wonderful of friends in every way. None of us can hardly find a single thing to complain about her — some little irritating habit that we couldn’t stand? Not a one. She was pure gold and we are so terribly heartbroken. I can’t imagine she is not here to comment on life, politics, bike riding, good movies.

Another exchange came from South Bay attorney Seth Davidson of CalBikeLaw.com discussing a few issues raised by the tragedy — including the importance of having your own insurance coverage in case anything should happen while you’re riding.

And yes, you can get insurance that covers you on the bike. In fact, if you own a car, you probably already have it.

But I’ll let Seth explain.

CalBikeLaw.com sees the results of car-bike collisions daily, everything from trashed bikes to people who are never going to walk again to people whose last moment on this earth was pedaling a bicycle. What follows is some advice that I hope you’ll heed.

You may think that if you’re in a bike-car collision, you’ll be able to recover money from the driver as long as the driver is insured. What you may not know is that in California the minimal insurance for accident liability is $15,000. What you also may not know is that an estimated 85% of the drivers on the road have only this minimal coverage.

This means that the money you can recoup from the careless idiot who takes you out while he’s texting his girlfriend will be completely used up on the life flight trip to the hospital, and once your expenses exceed the $15k that most drivers carry, you’re done. There is no other “pot of money” in most cases from which to collect damages for lost earnings, pain and suffering, future medical care, or even to replace your fancy road rig.

That’s what happens when you get hit by someone with no insurance, or with a very small liability policy. Imagine how hard it is as a lawyer to tell someone who’s been trashed for life that the driver’s insurance policy won’t even pay for their first day of medical care…then imagine how hard it is for the victim who has to actually live through it.

There is, however, a very cheap and very effective way to protect yourself and your family. It’s called uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage, and it comes standard with almost every auto insurance policy. Many cyclists are unaware that this coverage even exists, and many more are unaware that it covers you in a bike-car collision.

This means that when the driver’s policy tops out at $15k, you have the legal right to turn to the uninsured motorist coverage on your own liability policy for the remainder. So far, so good, but there’s a catch: most UM coverage is also minimal, often only $15k or $25k, which is hardly enough to make you whole when you suffer significant injuries.

Unlike most insurance stories, though, this one has a very happy ending if you’re proactive about it, because you can increase your UM coverage to very high levels for only a very modest increase in your monthly premium. Although your UM coverage generally cannot exceed your liability coverage, if you have $500k worth of liability you can bump up your UM from $25k to $500k for only a few bucks a month.

For the sake of yourself and your family, take a minute to look at the declarations page of your insurance policy, check the UM coverage, and then call your agent to ratchet the coverage up to the max. With the spate of deaths and serious injuries occurring in our midst this past year, this is something you really can’t afford to put off.

It’s good advice.

My own uninsured motorist coverage paid all of my medical and rehab expenses when I was hit by a car in a road rage incident. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the care I needed until the case settled nearly two years later.

And even then, the meager settlement was eaten up by attorney’s fees.

So give yourself and your loved ones an early holiday gift, and call your insurance agent today. Because a little piece of mind is one of the best — and most affordable — gifts you can give them.


I’ve also added CalBikeLaw.com to the list of lawyers over there on the right.

Scrolling through the list of cases they’re working on, you may recognize a few high profile ones, even without listing any names. In fact, I’ve written extensively about at least three of the cases listed on their website — which pretty tells me what I need to know about them.

And Seth promises to write again about a dangerous roadway in Palos Verdes Estates that has already nearly taken the life of another rider.

You may also have noticed that I’ve also added the El Dabe Law Firm to the list, our first bike attorney from Orange County.


A couple other quick notes:

C.I.C.L.E. hosts the Toys and Mittens Ride on Saturday the 17th; the family friendly toy ride will gather toys and warm clothes for Burbank residents in need.

The LA Streetsblog fundraiser scheduled for this Thursday has been moved. The new location will be at Earl’s Gourmet Grub at 12226 Venice Boulevard; your food is included in the suggested $25 donation.

And Allan Alessio forwards a link to Life Cycles, an Ultra HD short documentary detailing the story of a mountain bike, from creation through breathtaking rides to its ultimate demise.


Finally, thanks to Chris Willig, and Paul Herod of RockStorePhotos.com, for letting us know about Carol Schreder’s death yesterday. Oddly, the story still hasn’t hit the news, so without their efforts, we’d still be in the dark.

Breaking news — cyclist killed on Mulholland Hwy

Photo of crash scene by Chris Willig

I received word late Sunday afternoon that a cyclist was killed in the hills above Malibu on Saturday morning.

According to an email from Chris Willig, she was riding east on Mulholland Highway at Kanan Road around 9:30 am Saturday when she was hit from behind by a white van.

The victim was reportedly riding on the shoulder of the road, to the right of the fog line, when the van ran off the road. The bicycle was crushed underneath the van; unconfirmed reports indicate the driver may have been speeding and tailgating another vehicle.

Reading between the lines, it’s possible that the driver may have been trying to get around the slower car on the right when he or she hit the rider; however, that’s pure speculation on my part.

CHP reports confirm the collision, and indicate that the rider was transported to UCLA Medical Center at 2 pm in extremely critical condition.

The Flickr account RockStorePhotos.com identifies the victim as Carol Schreder, a regular Saturday rider, and reports that she passed away in the ICU around 10:45 pm.

As Willig put it, this is madding in its senselessness. Schreder appears to have been doing everything right, but died anyway due to a driver’s carelessness and/or impatience.

My prayers for Carol, and all her family and loved ones.

This is the 65th confirmed traffic-related bike fatality in Southern California this year, and the 21st in Los Angeles County.

While the SoCal total is well above the 55 cycling fatalities for each of the last two years on record, it is far below the horrific total of 89 bicycling deaths recorded in 2006. The Los Angeles figure is one below the total of 22 in 2009, the last year on record, as well as below the five-year average of 24.2 fatalities in L.A. County each year.

And please note that the totals for this year are only the fatalities that I am aware of and have been able to confirm in some way. It’s entirely possible there may have been others that I don’t know about.

Photo by Chris Willig

Update: IMDB lists Carol Schreder as a writer and producer on a number of titles, including Mama Flora’s Family, In Love and War, Call to Glory, the Burning Bed and Calendar Girl Murders; there’s also a Carol Schreder listed as owner of the Carol Schreder Company in Topanga, and as a finisher in a number of marathons and triathlons, as well as the Mulholland Challenge century.

Then there’s this piece written five years ago, almost to the day, extolling the virtues — and risks — of riding Topanga Canyon, not far from where this collision occurred.

Update 2: I just received the following comment from Heidi Christensen, who came along the scene shortly after the collision:

My husband and I rode up on the scene about 10 minutes after it happened. Carol was hit by a van pulling a trailer; the driver stopped. From what we heard, the driver said the car in front of him hit the brakes suddenly, then he hit his brakes, jack-knifed, and lost control. It’s hard to figure out, though, because it happened maybe 50 yards from the Mulholland/Kanan intersection (between the Calamigos Ranch driveway and Kanan)….the cars should have already been braking and not carrying much speed. Very tragic and just horribly sad. Judy, our thoughts and prayers are with you, Carol’s family, and all those dear to her.

Oh, and by the way, the EMTs identified her by her Road ID.

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