Tag Archive for Christine Elizabeth Dahab

Christine Dahab enters guilty plea in 2011 Culver City Massacre, faces minimum 90 day sentence

Most of us who have followed this story from the beginning never thought this day would never come.

It was just less than two years ago that a car driven by an allegedly drunk and distracted Christine Dahab plowed through a group of cyclists stopped alongside a Culver City roadway, injuring 13 riders, some seriously.

The case took a turn for the worse almost immediately, as the initial, highly biased LAPD investigation blamed the victims for allegedly standing in the roadway — even though they were actually in the parking lane — and suggested that she could not have seen them there because of a blind curve that didn’t exist.

And some members of the media irresponsibly implied that the riders had been engaged in a drunken orgy, noting the presence of empty liquor bottles and condoms near the collision site. Yet failed to note the collision occurred near a popular lovers hangout or that the inflammatory items could have been there for days or weeks, let alone connect them to the riders in any way.

Meanwhile, some misguided motorheads applauded Dahab’s apparent efforts to decrease the excess cyclist population.

Fortunately, the Culver City Police Department took over the investigation after it was determined that the collision occurred just inside the CC city limits.

The CCPD investigators refused to give up on the case, even when it would have been far easier to follow the LAPD’s lead and let Dahab off the hook. Especially when many of the witnesses, some of whom may have been under-aged, were reluctant to come forward.

However, their painstaking investigation eventually led the L.A. District Attorney’s office to file felony charges of DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

But in the 16 months since then, the case seemed to fall off the radar as a then-pregnant Dahab missed at least one court date, and other more recent and higher-profile cases took priority in the minds of local bicyclists.

Even I managed to forget the case was still ongoing as nothing appeared to take place.

But looks can be deceiving.

Frequent contributor Dj Wheels now reports that Dahab unexpectedly entered a guilty plea last week. And even more surprisingly, according to the cyclist and attorney, she did it without a plea deal in place, throwing herself on the mercy of the court.

On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, Christine Dahab entered a plea of no contest to all counts. She has pled “open to the court,” meaning she didn’t bargain for a lesser sentence but rather will ask for leniency from the Judge directly based on a diagnostic evaluation to be completed by the Dept. of Corrections while she is in custody.

She will surrender directly at a CA State prison on April 22, 2013.

She will remain in custody for the 90 day evaluation period, a report will be prepared by the Dept. of Corrections and sent to the Judge in Dept. D with its recommendations for sentencing.

April 22 is also on calendar as a probation/sentencing hearing, but they will probably just select a future date for the sentencing hearing which would have to be beyond the 90 day diagnostic period.

Victims will be notified of the actual sentencing date so that they can give their victim impact statements in court to the Judge to take into consideration when making his sentencing order.

So even if Dahab is released at the of her evaluation, she will have spent at least 90 days in custody — more than many drivers receive in fatal collisions.

And depending on the results, she could face considerably more.

Not bad for a case almost no one outside the cycling community, including the driver herself, seemed to take very seriously.

Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up. And to the CCPD and DA’s office for fighting for a conviction few of us expected.

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The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition wants your help to keep the Spring Street green lanes green in light of continued ridiculous attacks from some in Hollywood who value their locations and free parking more than your safety.

The LACBC is also sponsoring a cash mob next Sunday in support of the provisional road diet and bike lanes on Rowena Ave.

Meanwhile, a bilingual newspaper group bizarrely fears bike lanes on York Boulevard could fuel a violent bikelash against bike riders.

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BOLO Alert: Be on the lookout for a stolen black and white Cannondale SuperSix taken near Silverlake around 4 Sunday afternoon.

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KCRW traffic maven Kajon Cermak discusses the effects of L.A.’s newly synchronized traffic signals; seems like if I get stopped at one light on my bike, I get stopped at all of them. Rumors are L.A. will soon merge the Department of Planning with Building and Safety. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles leads the nation in traffic congestion. The proposal for a $3 billion bond issue to fix L.A. streets is back; as I said before, as far as I’m concerned, it’s dead in the water unless it includes a provision for speeding up Complete Streets and fixing our broken sidewalks. The Emerald Necklace plan proposes 16 park and bike path projects along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers, while writer for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune says only CEQA can make a project like that sound bad; thanks to BikeSGV and Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Better Bike says take your money somewhere else as the Biking Black Hole punts on promised bike racks. Cycling in the South Bay writes beautifully about early morning rides on the city’s deserted streets. Santa Monica will host its first Kidical Mass this Saturday.

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan is biking cross country for her Tour de Peace, with stops in Santa Monica and Claremont on Sunday. New sharrows hit the road in Redlands. San Diego is slowly becoming more bike-friendly. Cyclelicious lists hearing dates for bike-related bills in this year’s legislature, while Calbike shares their 2013 legislative agenda; I don’t see the third attempt at a three-foot law anywhere on their list. A Salinas hit-and-run driver is under arrest after striking a man riding a child’s bike. A San Jose man is sentenced to a well-deserved 41 years in prison for killing two men and injuring another in a road rage assault; thanks to Ralph Durham for the link.

As any cyclist could tell you, bans on using hand-held cell phones or texting while driving aren’t working; an estimated 660,000 Americans use their cell phones while driving every day. Too many drivers don’t look for pedestrians — or bicyclists — when they turn left. Legendary 1920s baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dropped out of high school to take up bike racing. People for Bikes discusses what to wear, or not, while riding, while an Oregon writer debates the need for underwear under bike shorts; kind of defeats the purpose of a good chamois, mais non? An Oregonian takes up bike commuting in response to rising gas prices. Seattle’s Department of DIY installs their own protected bike lane. An Anchorage man completes the 2,000 mile Iron Dog sled dog trail in 40 days on a fat tire bike. A South Dakota man tragically demonstrates the risks of off-road mountain biking. A Galveston driver gets a well-deserved 10-year sentence for fleeing the scene after killing a cyclist, even though the rider reportedly ran a stop sign. A Dallas councilmember suggests repealing the city’s mandatory helmet law to encourage bicycling. This Louisiana tour sounds like about as much fun as you can have on a bike. A Wisconsin legislator want to legalize some cases of drunken bike riding to allow pedal pub crawls. A Minneapolis cyclist survives an attack with a Molotov cocktail. If you’re carrying a loaded .38 with an outstanding New York warrant, don’t ride on the damn sidewalk, already.

A Vancouver writer looks into mandatory helmet laws, and changes his mind. In a horrible collision, a Montreal cyclist falls under a truck after hitting a stopped car, then is killed when the light changes and the truck pulls forward. Four in 10 Brits now ride bikes, including one out of every two men and over half of Londoners. The London Times corrects seven common bicycling myths. A UK council votes to remove a ghost bike three years after the victim is killed. Yet another British bike racer has been hit by a car while riding; this time, its gold medalist Joanna Rowsell. A Liverpool pedestrian dies a day after a collision with a bicyclist, after deciding not to wait to see an emergency room doctor. A Cambridge bike rider nearly has his belongings seized after he’s mistakenly fined the equivalent of over $1,000 for riding without lights. Eddie Merckx Cycles promises to advance bicycle design by investigating bike stability and possibly put an end to death wobbles. A young American cyclist gets a last-minute call to ride in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, won by Fabian Cancellara in a sprint over 24-year old Sep Vanmarcke. Spanish cycling legend Miguel Poblet passes away at 85; he was the first España rider to wear the yellow jersey. Women cyclists dread Aussie roads, while an Australian woman calls for more riders in dresses and heels; thank goodness I’ve got the legs for it. Canberra cyclists have doubled in numbers over the last nine years, while Adelaide cycling is up 10% over the last year after increasing 20% the year before. Yes, there should be fewer cyclists in Lycra, but only because there should be more cyclists wearing anything they please; couldn’t have said it better myself. Earthquake damaged Christchurch plans to rebuild with Copenhagen-style separated bikeways.

Finally, a bike riding Korean War chaplain is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, and may be considered for sainthood. And a Brooklyn writer offers advice to motorists on how to stop hitting him with their cars.

Dahab arraigned, CA cops under no obligation to investigate or report, and Santa left a bunch of links

Catching up on lots of bike and semi-bike related stuff left over from the pre- and post holiday madness.

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Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels attended the arraignment hearing for Christine Dahab, the driver accused in the allegedly drunken/distracted collision that injured 11 or more riders in Culver City last June.

At the arraignment, Dahab’s attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf and set a date of January 13, 2012 for a preliminary setting at 8:30am in Dept. 142.

When the issue of setting bail came up the defense attorney suggested the bail NOT be set at the scheduled guideline amount of over 300k and that the court use its discretion in setting bail at an amount between 50-60k, which would be fair considering a number of factors that he says showed that Dahab was not a danger to society nor a flight risk, such as: she has a 7 yr old daughter to care for, she has lived and worked on the Westside of LA her whole life, currently works as a server at a restaurant in Marina Del Rey, the fact that the collision was the result of carelessness and not purposeful intent to harm, she has no prior convictions whatsoever, only had a .07 BAC, police reports indicate that perhaps cyclists were also at fault for being in the roadway and standing under a streetlight that was out.

After a sidebar with the Judge and attorneys, the prosecutor objected citing the numerous serious injuries, the fact that the .07 was recorded hours after the incident occurred and most likely was above the legal limit at the time.  The DA also noted that there were open containers of alcohol in the vehicle as well as empty prescription bottles for medical marijuana and even an empty Yoshinoya cup that also had traces of alcohol in it.  He insisted that the bail be set at the suggested scheduled amount per the guidelines.

Ultimately the judge agreed that bail needed to be set, but not at the amount suggested by defense counsel. So she set it at 100,000. Dahab was taken into custody at the end of the hearing. She had a group of five or six people there with her including what appeared to be a mother and a boyfriend.

Christine Dahab was released after posting a bond on her 100k bail sometime in the early afternoon, according to the Sheriff’s inmate locator page.

Wheels suggests it could take some time for Dahab’s attorney to dig through all the various — and possibly conflicting — reports from the LAPD and CCPD in this case.

So I wouldn’t count on an early resolution.

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Meanwhile, Century City bankruptcy attorney and cyclist Stanley E. Goldich sends word that a California court has ruled that police officers are under no obligation to gather information or file a report on a collision — even if they promise the victim they will.

A California Court of appeal ruling relating to a collision between a car and motorcycle on Encinal where the police officer covered up and destroyed the information on the driver of the car who hit the motorcyclist.  The Court held there was no liability because (1) there was no duty to file a report - the CHP Accident Manual requiring filing of a report did not have the force of law, (2) the fact that policeman promised to get the information on the driver and the injured motorcyclist relied on this did not create a special relationship and (3) there was no tort claim for spoliation of evidence because of the immunity of the government.

As Goldich points out, it’s worth knowing that you can’t always rely on the police to get the necessary information following a collision, even if there’s a serious injury.

Actually, it’s kind of scary.

He adds that he stopped at the scene of a recent collision on Ocean Ave in Santa Monica in which a rider in the bike lane was right-hooked by a driver attempting to pull into a parking space.

Since the rider was not seriously injured, the police told Goldich they wouldn’t be filing a report — leaving the cyclist on his own to gather information. And a little too late, since the only witness had already left the scene, and the driver was refusing to admit anything.

Fortunately, the victim had a working GPS which should provide evidence of how the collision occurred. But it’s just another example of how you can’t always count on the police to provide the information you need following a collision.

And it’s up to you to get the driver’s license and insurance information, as well as contact information for any witnesses — even if you’re still confused or in pain following the impact.

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A couple of interesting looks at becoming a bike commuter, as L.A. expat Amanda Lipsey relates her journey to a car-free lifestyle and Development Director for Adventure Cycling. And a DC writer says it takes a village.

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Writing for the Wall Street Journal, sportswriter Jason Gay says everyone should get lit this New Years. At least when it comes to biking.

Don’t let anyone tell you that lights aren’t cool. Here’s what’s not cool: ambulance rides.

This easy resolution may save your life, without you even realizing it.

I’ve kind of avoided the Journal since Rupert took over. But as long as Mr. Gay sticks around, I may want to take another look.

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Great feature in the new Los Angeles Magazine on UCLA professor and parking rock star Donald Shoup and the high toll automobile parking takes on cities — especially right here in Los Angeles, with more parking per acre Downtown than any other city on earth.

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L.A. bike advocate and recent candidate for city council Stephen Box celebrates the holidays as a proud new papa. Cyclists aren’t always the good guys, as a bike rider shoots and kills a man in South L.A. Richard Risemberg criticizes the same crumbling Imperial Highway bike lanes I wrote about last March. A Santa Monica columnist criticizes “arrogant creeps” and “clowns” on “multi-speed bikes” after a bad experience with a jerk on the beachfront bike path. Warner Center envisions new bike and walking paths to connect with the L.A. River. Canoga Park gets more bike racks. Claremont forms a new community bike group, with an inaugural ride Sunday, January 8th; link courtesy of the Claremont Cyclist. Claremont’s Safe Routes to School program will be sponsoring a League of American Bicyclists-approved bike safety training program for adult riders at the end of next month.

An Orange County cyclist was critically injured in a Santa Ana collision Christmas evening. A 12-year old San Diego boy suffers a broken leg when his bike is struck by a hit-and-run driver. San Diego’s Brown Girl in the Lane strikes a chord with readers around the world as she takes Vehicular Cyclists to task, and more than once. Cyclocross comes to Cal State San Marcos next month. Cyclelicious looks at the conflicts between cyclists and the Santa Cruz Sierra Club. San Jose firemen fix up a tricycle to give to a disabled friend.

Bob Mionske takes Californian Governor Jerry Brown to task for endangering cyclists by joining Texas Governor Rick Perry as the only state leaders to veto the three-foot passing law. Apparently, American youth have fallen out of love with the automobile. Bicycling (upper case) offers 101 things they love about bicycling (lower case). Bicycling’s Neil Bedzek says maybe it’s time to hang up his headphones for good. How to straighten steel bike forks. A Minnesota cyclist gets left hooked, then ticketed for improper crossing of a roadway. A New York Councilmember promises a continued crackdown on cyclists next year. Next on your reading table, a new collection of short fiction centered around bikes.

A secret Canadian base trained bicycling spies in WWII. The BBC names reigning world champ Mark Cavendish as their sports personality of the year. Fascinating views of an empty London on Christmas morning. London fails — by a wide margin — to meet their target goals for reducing bike fatalities and serious injuries by half over 1990’s levels. UK stats suggest bike fatalities increase during economic downturns; SoCal figures for this year certainly support that thesis. A new Aussie study suggests Sydney cycling rates could double if mandatory helmet laws were repealed. A Chinese ebike rider survives a direct hit by a speeding truck in a graphic video.

Finally, great advice on what to do if you’re the victim of a collision.

When the police ask if you’re injured, the correct answer is always yes; as the article notes, injuries that aren’t apparent at the scene often show up later. The right response could protect both your health and your legal rights.

The weather promises to be great here in L.A. the next few days; get out on your bike and enjoy it.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

CCPD asks Culver City witnesses to come forward; LA bike community to hold major press event Thursday

Culver City police are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision earlier this month in which an alleged drunk, speeding and distracted driver collided with a group of late night riders on Jefferson Blvd.

Anyone with information is urged to come in to police headquarters to review a photo reconstruction of the event. If you were there, or know people who were, contact CCPD Officers Davis or Newman at 310-253-6254. Thanks to Jim Shanman of the Culver City Bicycle Coalition for the heads-up.

And clear your schedule for tomorrow morning, when a wide spectrum of the Los Angeles cycling community representing cyclists of all types — myself included — will come together for a press event to protest the botched LAPD investigation and biased press coverage of this case, and make a public call for safer streets and fair investigation into all cycling incidents.

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Yet another bike rider shot and killed; 15-year old SD cyclist critically injured by 84-year old driver

The Daily News reports that a bicyclist was killed in a Long Beach shooting last night.

The shooting occurred prior to 8 pm Tuesday on the 2100 block of East 14th Street; no other details are available at this time.

This is the 5th cyclist fatally shot in Southern California this year, and the 4th in L.A. County.

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An anonymous reader forwards news of a tragic collision in San Diego last week, in which a 15 year old boy was critically injured when an 84-year old driver mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brakes.

Isaiah Fisher remains in a coma after reconstruction surgery to the entire right side of his face. The van driven by Dean Hedlund reportedly made a wide left turn, went over the curb and hit a light pole before colliding with Fisher.

Just when an elderly driver is no longer able to drive safely is one of the hardest questions any family will face. For older people, driving means represents freedom and an ability to care for themselves, yet it can also pose a significant risk to themselves and everyone else on the road as their ability and judgement decline.

The hard part is that this occurs at a different rate for every individual. Some can no longer drive safely in their 60′s, while others can maintain full control of a motor vehicle decades later.

We took my father-in-law’s keys away after he suffered a severe stroke; even with significant physical impairment, he would have gladly gotten back behind the wheel if he could.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have such a clearly defined indicator that they can no longer drive safely. The warning signs of declining driving ability are usually subtle and slow to develop, often not becoming apparent until it’s too late; Hedlund himself denied that his age was a factor in the collision.

As a society, we haven’t begun to address this problem.

Instead of mandating annual testing after a certain age, we leave it up to often unqualified family members to recognize the problem and take away the keys.

As Isiah Fisher tragically shows, that’s just not good enough.

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Speaking of drivers who should be on the road, Bikeside’s Alex Thompson offers a full update on the condition of the victims, as well a interviews with witnesses, in the Culver City collision that injured 11 cyclists, 6 seriously enough to require hospitalization.And he forwards a link to some very sick and disturbed people who consider Christine Dahab, the driver who put all those people in the hospital, a hero.

Maybe we should force everyone who posts such vile comments online to visit the victims of their hatred, and see firsthand what drunken and/or distracted carelessness can do.

Maybe then they might rediscover a shred of their own humanity.

Doubtful, though.

Update: Culver City driver should have been able to see cyclists; some victims still critical

Inside word from members of Bikeside LA and Midnight Ridazz is that some of the victims in Thursday morning’s Culver City bike crash that injured 11 cyclists may be more critically injured than authorities have let on.

Since the victim’s names have not yet been publicly released, I won’t go into details; however, it sounds like prayers and good wishes for a full recovery would be in order.

And a report by popular cycling advocate Road Block on Bikeside LA proves that the driver in the case should have been able to see the cyclists stopped in the road, despite police reports that her view was blocked by a blind curve.

If she wasn’t drunk, speeding or distracted — or all of the above — she should have easily been able to stop in time.

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I’m in meetings all weekend, so no Events update this week. Check the Events page for current listings.

Police appear posed to blame the Culver City victims; Wilbur Ave “compromise” threatens road safety

Things aren’t looking good in the case of the cyclists injured by an allegedly drunk, texting and speeding driver.

To start with, it looks like the driver, Christine Elizabeth Dahab, may skate on the DUI charges. According to a report on Bikeside, she registered a .07 Blood Alcohol Content when she was tested at the police station — just under the .08 BAC threshold for drunk driving. Even though she initially registered a .08 at the scene, her body had time to process the alcohol in her system.

Secondly, while the LAPD initially responded to the collision, the case has been handed over to the Culver City police, since the site is technically within their jurisdiction. And deservedly or not, the Culver City PD has a long-standing reputation for being biased against cyclists — particularly when it comes to populist group rides similar to the one hit on Thursday morning.

Finally, there is some dispute as to where the cyclists were located on the roadway. The preliminary conclusions of the LAPD are that at least some of the victims were stopped in the traffic lane, rather than on the shoulder. And since many were stopped and off their bikes, they may have violated the law against pedestrians in a traffic lane.

That could be enough to get Dahab off the hook — even though she was reportedly drunk at the scene, and witnesses have reported that she appeared to be texting at the time. And since she hit the riders without braking, there is no objective evidence that she was speeding, despite the reports of witnesses that she was travelling at least 20 mph over the limit.

Evidence of just how seriously the case against Dahab is not being taken is that she was out on an exceptionally low $15,000 bond just hours after the collision.

Damien Newton angrily questions whether the LAPD is botching the investigation, as many of the decisions made so far in the case seem to cast blame directly on the victims — never mind the actions of the driver that contributed to, if not caused, the collision. And asks if the police would handle the case more aggressively if roles were reversed, and it was a Hispanic male driver who ran into a bunch of young women.

Yes, the riders may have been in the traffic lane, though that remains in some dispute. But a driver who was not speeding, drinking and/or distracted should have had plenty of time to see and avoid a large mass of stationary people.

Newton also takes KABC-7 to task for their highly inflammatory reporting on the case, as they repeatedly referred to condoms, beer and evidence of drug use found near the scene, without ever directly connecting any of that to any the riders or suggesting that it had anything whatsoever to do with the collision.

Frankly, you could find any or all of those things in the alley behind my old building just about every day of the week; that doesn’t mean I was the one who used or put them there, even though I happened to be nearby.

It’s entirely possible that some of the riders may have been using drugs or alcohol, however, KABC’s exceptionally irresponsible report — which has been toned down significantly from earlier reports — creates the suggestion of a drunken orgy in the middle of a traffic lane, and has unfortunately been picked up by other news sources.

They cite unidentified members of the police as the source of that information; however, unlike KABC, most of the mainstream press somehow managed to keep such unfounded and highly biased tidbits out of their stories. The station owes an apology to all the victims — and every other cyclist in L.A., since this sort of unfounded report smears all of us in the eyes of some members of the public.

There was a much-needed Justice Ride this afternoon, to support the victims of Thursday morning’s bike collision.

……..

In order to maintain drivers’ God-given right to speed on Valley streets, the Wilbur Ave. road diet is in the process of being “fixed,” channeling cyclists into the sort of substandard half-gutter bike lane we thought this city had long ago outgrown. At the same time, drivers will be forced to compete for lane space as they’re suddenly channeled into less space, significantly increasing the potential for collisions and putting cyclists in the bike lane at unnecessary risk.

The only good news is that the new design may actually reduce the number of cycling collisions on Wilbur — by reducing the number of cyclists willing to ride the street, as many cyclists are likely to shun the new bike lanes for other unmarked streets.

Evidently, L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl was wrong when he famously declared that “the culture of the car is going to end today.” Thanks largely to one or more of his fellow councilmembers, it’s alive and well in the San Fernando Valley, and risking the lives of everyone who uses or resides along our streets.

Un-effing-believable.

……..

Fed up with the refusal of the Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee — aka the Orange County Gutter Bunnies — to support much needed sharrows on the Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, cdm Cyclist’s Frank Peters has joined with a handful of other local bike advocates to form the new Newport Beach Citizens Bicycle Committee.

If you live or ride down that way, I strongly urge you to get involved with them, and do your part to force local officials to do something to make cycling safer in the local area, and Orange County as a whole.

That is, something that doesn’t put the blame squarely on the victims.

……..

Time is short, but you still have a few hours left to cast a vote to decide which of five finalists will get the chance to work with Team Liquigas-Cannondale in this year’s Tour de France.

According to a representative for the team —

Ventura native Gabriel Garcia and Los Angeles resident Angel Castillo are among five finalists for an opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to spend a week at the Tour de France working behind the scenes with Team Liquigas-Cannondale.

Both had to submit a one to two-minute video explaining why they’re the most qualified to serve as Team Liquigas-Cannondale’s newest addition.  Hopefuls had to highlight the following in their video submission:

  • How the sport of cycling has impacted your life.
  • Your most memorable moment from the Tour de France.
  • A bike MUST have been visual somewhere in the video shoot (it didn’t have to be a Cannondale)

The five finalists are:

  • Amy Campbell (Austin, TX)
  • Angel Castillo (Los Angeles)
  • Gabriel Garcia (Ventura)
  • Joe Praino (Arlington, VA)
  • Derrick Young (Columbus, OH)

All five videos are now available for fans to vote on by logging onto Cannondale‘s (http://www.facebook.com/RideCannondale) and Peloton Magazine’s Facebook pages (http://www.facebook.com/pelotonmagazine). Videos and voting capability can be accessed by first liking the page, then clicking the Trip de France icon on the left. Voting runs from now until Friday, June 17th.

My apologies for not giving more notice of the competition. I found out about it just a few days ago, and recent events have kept me from getting to it until now.

……..

Notes from this month’s BPIT meeting. LADOT updates what bike projects are on the boards, including a road diet and bike lanes along the CicLAvia route on 7th Street. Here come the bus — and bike — lanes. Better Bike Beverly Hills endorses California’s proposed three-foot passing lane; SWRVE, the L.A.-based urban cycling attire manufacturer, writes to urge cyclists to get involved to support it, and personally, I’m a firm believer in supporting companies that support us. The DVD of the fixie film To Live and Ride in LA drops on Tuesday the 21st. Flying Pigeon will host a fundraising ride and party for Streetsblog tonight. C.I.C.L.E. hosts a ride through NELA on Saturday. Hermosa cyclists look for improvements in the South Bay/Marvin Braude Bike Path. CNN Travel lists the Huntington Beach bike path, along with the Braude bikeway, as among the best in the U.S. Remembering a dedicated bike commuter. A Santa Cruz cyclist gets six months in jail and three years probation for deliberately running over a toddler with his bike; maybe those two figures should be reversed. It’s the people who yell the insults who are seen as the crazy ones. Cyclelicious says don’t be afraid of the dark. Just Another Cyclist says he hates helmets.

Brilliant responses to just about any bike forum comment, ever. People for Bikes reports on riding with your fur-footed best friend. Tom Vanderbilt says it’s time for livability to push mobility into the back seat. AZ Rep. Gabby Giffords is back on a bike just five months after her January shooting. A Portland cyclist recounts a frightening road rage encounter with truck driver that, while not justified, could have been avoided if he’d just stopped for the damn red light. Springfield Cyclist recounts a near-collision with a kid on a bike. Minnesota traffic officials join to reduce traffic deaths to zero; it’s long past time for a Vision Zero plan for California. An 8-year Chicago girl followed all the rules, but was killed by a hit-and-run driver anyway; there’s not a deep enough pit in hell for a driver like that. The Windy City’s new DOT Commissioner could rival NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, while their crackdown on scofflaw cyclists may not be such a bad thing, after all. Someone is deliberately attacking cyclists in Virginia Beach. A Craig’s List missed connection leads to a woman on a Dolphin bike.

The Guardian says riding in a skirt probably doesn’t make you a traffic hazard, though they’d recommend against riding commando on a ‘bent. Euro scientists form a group to coordinate on helmet research. In bike racing news, Movistar rider Juan Mauricio Soler was critically injured after colliding with a spectator in the Tour de Suisse. Mark Cavendish prepares to jump ship for the 2012 season. UCI urges everyone to be kind to Contador, who needs to put a light on the racing bike, and may soon be sampling clenbuterol-free cows in Colorado. Another new on-road laser projection concept could save lives, or at least make your ride more colorful. Wales becomes the first government in the world to require local authorities to provide bike routes.

Finally, only bad guys drive distracted.

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