Tag Archive for Danae Marie Miller

A look at Camp Pendleton collision site; a killer driver may be back on the streets three years early

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent took a trip down to San Diego County in the wake of the Camp Pendleton collision that killed Udo Heinz and left fellow rider John Edwards critically injured.

Did you know you’re required to wear a helmet to ride at Pendleton? Learned that the Del Mar gate. So I own a helmet now. (And I want to read Heinz’s autopsy report to see whether his helped any.)

The site of the collision is on a shoulder-less stretch of two lane road, divided with a double yellow, between two guardrails. Signs indicate the bike route, set the maximum speed at 45 mph, and remind cyclists to ride single file. The shoulder completely disappears as the road crosses what appears to be a broad wash; the lanes may be substandard width, but I was too scared to stop to measure, partly because I was going too fast to discern whether there was non-sloping space on the other side of the guardrail to set my bike, and partly because there was just enough traffic to disincline me from stopping (or even slowing) long enough to find out.

The roadway’s in good repair; I didn’t notice any violent bumps or scary surface infrastructure like fissures or moguls. It’s certainly preferable to, say, Wilshire Blvd. This stretch of road is also completely straight, without even the gentlest curve that could possibly impair a driver’s view. The video from the NCTD bus shows absolutely no traffic coming from the opposite direction, although that video makes it seem as if the blind vertical curve ahead is much closer than it is. The hills worried me a lot more than the big vehicles on the road. In fact, the motorists on Pendleton seemed attentive and, frankly, kind of slower than I’d expected, not just in passing but generally. Passing through Oceanside afterwards was unpleasant in comparison.

New infrastructure on PCH stunned me. The stretch through downtown Oceanside is still bike-unfriendly, but going through other towns on the way to Del Mar blew my mind. There’s signage (regulatory & wayfinding), bike lanes, charming bike racks, bulbouts, ped-activated crossings with embedded flashing beacons, and even sharrows. Sharrows! On Highway 101! One town even had a portable message board parked in the median to inform road users what the heck these newfangled sharrows are for.

I crashed the memorial for Udo Conrad Heinz. Attendance was huge (I tried to count, but gave up after several attempts, and have to just estimate “well over two hundred”). Udo’s wife was clearly touched, and his son watched everything somberly with his great big eyes. I spoke very briefly with Susanne Davis, who left a comment on your blog, and she is hoping there will be a push now for a change in legislation to protect vulnerable road users, an Udo’s Law. (Also she mentioned in her comment the friendly attentiveness of the tank drivers at Pendleton, but part of this may be because she’s really attractive.)  The memorial touched everyone, family, friends, neighbors, fellow riders, former colleagues… I’m surprised the guy’s mailman didn’t show (maybe he did?) And the sunset was lovely.

On the return trip, I missed the Coaster because I was taking so many pictures of the aforementioned new infrastructure, so with darkness falling, I decided to catch the bus. I was standing under a lighted street lamp, wearing an extra large ANSI Class III hi-vis reflective vest, and shouldering a chrome bike with two reflective spoke cards. Also my bag, which has a prominent reflective stripe, was sitting on the bus bench next to me. I was almost blinded by the stupid blue-white high-intensity headlights of the approaching NCTD bus, which very clearly wasn’t slowing down or maneuvering towards the curb. I actually had to holler and wave to get the driver to notice me. As I boarded, I apologized sarcastically for my invisibility, and received no response. I’d hate to encounter this oblivious, unapologetic driver while riding.

Very shortly thereafter, the drivers changed shifts at a stop. The first thing the new driver did was wipe the front windows down. There was an amazing difference in visibility. The new driver said that it’s not a requirement for drivers to clean the windows, but it’s something he took upon himself to do as soon as he began driving Route 101, which is the coastal bus, because the sea spray builds up so fast. Sometimes, he said, he’ll even do it mid-route when it’s necessary.


She also reports that Danae Marie Miller, — the driver convicted of killing Orange County triathlete Amine Britel while allegedly drunk and texting — appears to be out of prison well before her four year sentence is up, with no public explanation.

Danae Marie Miller’s out of prison. There’s no record of her within the California Dep’t of Corrections & Rehabilitation, at any rate. She could have been “realigned” to a county or city jail (not in any of the half-dozen I’ve checked, though.) She could be under monitored house arrest. She could be on unsupervised probation. She could be out there drunk & texting on the roads at this minute. Amine Britel? Still dead.


LA’s hit-and-run epidemic hit a horrifying climax this past weekend, as four innocent victims lost their lives to murderous drivers who couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to save a life in four separate incidents.

Including a 19-year old woman and a three-year old child.

It’s clear that we need to change the law to halt this bloody crime spree. Including making the penalty for hit-and-run equivalent to drunk driving, to remove the incentive to flee the scene if a driver has been drinking.

If the victim dies, the driver should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim’s life might have been saved if the driver had stopped long enough to render aid or call 911 before fleeing like a coward — let alone lived up to their responsibility as a decent human being.

Yet as the Danae Miller case suggest, the current prison overcrowding crisis means that anyone convicted under such a law is unlikely to serve more than a fraction of their prison term. We need to take steps to insure anyone who flees the scene of a collision loses their privilege to drive for decades.

If not for life.

And the car they used to commit the crime is seized and sold, with the proceeds given to the victim; after all, you don’t give a bank robber back the gun he used.


Last chance to help the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition set the city’s priorities for biking and walking.


The MyFigueroa project is set for final approval, including LA’s first, albeit reduced in scope, cycle tracks, which even AARP approves of. Though someone might want to mention to LADOT that there are space-saving alternatives to creating semi-permeable car-blocking barriers.

And Streetsblog reports you still have to worry whether the long-planned Expo bikeway will survive latest assault from the wealthy homeowners in Cheviot Hills. These are the same people who argued in the past that a bike path would put their homes at risk from bike riding burglars who might try to peddle away with their 60” flat screens.

Just as an aside, I will be guest curating Streetsblog once again tomorrow.


Don’t forget tonight’s public meeting to review recommendations to improve safety on PCH in Malibu. If you can’t make it, another meeting will be held on Thursday. This is your chance to stop another serial killer — this time, one of Southern California’s most deadly highways.


LA traffic would be a lot better if the city’s commuters would follow UCLA’s example. Only 51% of campus employees drive alone, compared to 70% of Los Angeles commuters — and nearly 75% of the university’s students use some form of alternative transportation.


Finally, anyone into adventure cycling will want to follow the exploits of Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley, who are just eight days into a planned 100 day, 11,184 mile ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa.

You can keep up with Pakravan and Pawley on Twitter as they make their way across three continents.

Two killer drivers — one stays at the scene and gets four years, one flees and gets no jail time

So let me get this straight.

A woman with 16 previous tickets runs down a cyclist while texting and drunk, and gets off with just four years.

Evidently, Danae Marie Miller got an early birthday gift. Although I’m sure she doesn’t think so.

Miller plead guilty on Tuesday to a single count of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. She had been facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison; she accepted a plea deal for less than half of that.

Her victim, Amine Britel, a world-class triathlete as well as a popular local businessman, was riding in the bike lane on San Joaquin Road just east of Spyglass Hill Road in Newport Beach last February 21st when he was run down from behind by Miller’s car — just one year and one week from the day of her sentencing.

Why she was even on the road that night is question our lenient traffic courts will have to answer. Or would, if anyone was paying enough attention to ask the right questions.

In the six years between 2005 and 2011, Miller received six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions, as well as tickets for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, failure to stop at the stop sign and two tickets for talking on a cell phone while driving.

A record like that should have been more than enough to get her off the road. If the courts had actually taken her obvious refusal to obey basic traffic laws seriously, a gifted athlete might still be alive today.

Instead, she was allowed to keep driving until she killed someone. Now her license has finally been revoked for three years as part of her sentence.

Just a tad too late, I’d say.

Despite initially claiming that she hadn’t been drinking, Miller had a BAC of over .10 nearly two hours after the collision after getting off work at the Zinc Café in Corona del Mar. And despite claiming that she never texts while driving, records showed that she had been texting just moments before killing Britel — though not, apparently, when she actually hit him.

Evidently, you’re not considered legally distracted unless you text WTF! at the exact moment you kill someone.

According to an anonymous source who attended the sentencing, the real surprise was that the two families seemed to be supportive of one another at the conclusion of the case, despite earlier anger.

The surprise in the Miller case is that the families, Miller’s and Britel’s, were amicable after the sentencing, talking with each other in the courthouse hallway. After the daggers I saw fly at Miller from the two members of the Britel’s family who had shown up at the prelim last December, I certainly would never have expected this, especially after the oral impact statements provided to the judge before sentencing. Miller’s family, however, had been very supportive of her, showing up at all her court appearances, so maybe this support will give her a shot at redemption, a chance to be a useful, productive, harmless member of society in the future; even Britel’s family seems to be hoping for this.

We can hope.

Danae Miller is just 23 years old, and spent Tuesday night in the Orange County Jail pending transfer to state prison. With good behavior, she could be back on the streets in a few years.

Whether she will have learned her lesson by then remains to be seen.

Her birthday is in a few weeks; she’ll celebrate it behind bars. Hopefully, she’ll appreciate the early gift she got in court on Tuesday.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Update: I neglected to mention that two civil suits have been filed against Miller for the death of Amine Britel; they were recently consolidated into a single case.


In yet another example of our courts coddling killer drivers, the same anonymous source tells me that Renato Demartino entered a surprise guilty plea on Tuesday for the hit-and-run death of 22-year old Marco Acuapan.

Acuapan was also riding in a marked bike lane, on Walnut Avenue near Browning Avenue, on November 17, 2010 when he was rear-ended by red 2010 Mustang. The driver, later identified as Demartino, fled the scene, leaving his victim lying in the street with severe head injuries.

Acuapan was taken to a hospital in critical condition, where he remained in a coma until his death last April.

According to my source, Demartino was sentenced to just two years in state prison. And even that was stayed, meaning he is unlikely to spend a single night in jail.

Thankfully, his license was revoked for three years, since the court saw fit to let him out.

Seriously, he killed a man and fled the scene. And didn’t even get a slap on the wrist for heartlessly leaving another human being to die in the streets.

May I politely ask what the f*** is wrong with our legal system?


One brief bit of good news.

The County of Los Angeles now has a shiny new bike plan, as the Board of Supervisors passes it on a vote of four to zero; Supervisor Mike Antonovich abstained because of questions about funding the plan.

And a planned Altadena bike boulevard was given teeth when the Supervisors voted to require traffic calming measures, rather than merely allowing as called for in the plan.

Insights and updates on Orange County bike cases — laughter or tears?

Over the past year or so, I’ve featured a number of updates on various Orange County and South Bay legal cases from an anonymous source.

Like the updates I get from Dj Wheels, I’ve come to trust and rely on the insights from this source to keep us up to date on cases from behind the Orange Curtain, which can be hard to follow from up here in L.A. — especially since these cases seldom make the news unless something major happens.

Today she sent me an email offering background information on a couple of cases that are slowly moving through the system. And I thought it was good enough that I wanted to share it with you.

This article from the Sunday Orange County Register shows why the OCDA’s office wants to nail Michael Dennis Roach (and his ilk) so bad.  (Roach is the drunken racer on PCH who hit another drunken racer, spinning both cars onto a segregated beach path.)  Things do not look good for Roach.  His co-defendent Glenn Michael Moore, on the other hand, has a much shorter rap sheet and a terrifyingly good lawyer.

Our drunk-driving laws are nauseating liberal.  MADD had to fight for years to get that excessively high .08 limit, and it’s so easy to circumvent in court.  In other, more civilized countries with a better grasp of public safety and/or neurochemistry, the limit is much lower, and the penalties are more appropriate.  Every year in America alone, more people are killed by drunk drivers than by firearms, knives, blunt objects, & strangulation combined, and drivers under the “legal” limit (but at .04 or above) account for 25% of these deaths.  Our laws fail to address the severity of the repercussions of dangerous operation of motor vehicles.

Danae Miller (um, for example) had a preliminary hearing on December 1st and naturally the judge decided that there is indeed enough evidence to send her to trial.  Miller’s due to be arraigned in a few hours;  I won’t be there because both Anita Sue “Stop Signs Don’t Apply to Me” Cherry and Adam Carl “Just a Witness” Garrett have appearances at a different couthouse.  However, an incredibly wonderful MADD victim services specialist assisting the Britel family will forward me the plea and any details.

Miller’s preliminary hearing was tedious, thorough and heart-rending. The D.A. called four individuals to testify; the defense called none.  The hearing included some of the evidence that will be shown if Miller doesn’t just plead guilty like Hines, including the video from the dashboard-mounted camera of the first responding officer’s approach to the scene, which showed Britel’s shattered carbon fiber bike lying in the gutter, front light still blinking.

Although it was dusk, the view of the roadway was completely unobstructed, the streetlights were on, and the bike had plenty of reflective material on the rims and below the seat.  Britel was wearing a yellow dayglo jacket with reflective material.  A blind man could have seen him.  Miller could not.

Evidence also included the dozen or so texts & calls made in the minutes preceding the collision, as well as Miller’s ratty ancient-tech flip phone, which she’d handed over to the first responding officer at his request after stating that she never texts while driving.  Two prior citations to which she pleaded guilty refute this remark.  Disappointingly, a Verizon custodian of records testified that there’s no record of the content of the texts sent or received.

Miller also initally lied to the police on scene about her intake of alcohol.  With bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, she first claimed she’d had nothing to drink prior to driving.  She then changed her story, saying she’d had “one glass” of wine about an hour prior to leaving work.  However, her BAC was measured at .105 and .106 from two separate vials of her blood collected approximately an hour and forty-five minutes after the collision.  (This amount was rounded down to .10.)

In questioning the D.A.’s theory of culpability, the judge requested a brief review of testimony in order to determine whether, as Miller’s lawyer attempted to suggest, the incident was a simple SWSS.  But Miller had never told investigators,  “I saw the cyclist ahead.”  She admitted to the arresting officer that the first indication she had that she’d hit something was the shards of her shattered windshield hitting her arm.  (At least she wasn’t too drunk to wonder what all the sparkly stuff was.)

After the hearing, I asked D.A. Hayashida whether Britel had a bike computer and whether the data had been accessed.  To my surprise, she admitted she didn’t know (!!!) but would look into it.  I’d squinted at the pics & video of Britel’s mangled bike, but could only see a dark blur to the left of the areo bars.  It just strikes me as unlikely that a serious, competetive cyclist wouldn’t have the bells and whistles that could pinpoint the location, sudden deceleration & trajectory of his bike… and possibly even indicate the exact time, to the second, when his heart stopped beating.

Incidently, Hayashida is also assigned to prosecute Adam Carl Garrett, so I expect to see her  again today.  AND (refer back to the Orange County Register article) she’s the one who nailed Dennis Malavasi.

Mad props to good stranger Heather Lohrman (hope that’s spelled right), who stopped at the crime scene, attempted to find Britel’s pulse, and ran up to Miller’s car to get the license plate number in case the perp decided to flee.  Another good stranger was present as well but his name was not released.

Just a quick and irrelevant note about Anita Sue Cherry:  Last month, only two days before her most recent scheduled hearing, her first lawyer (whose list of traffic citations is longer than Cherry’s) was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign.  And next Monday, her most recently retained lawyer (her first lawyer’s legal partner) has his arraignment for the DUI w/property damage he got in September.

I swear to God I’m not making this up.

Laugh, or cry?

Charges in Carlsbad and Fountain Valley cycling deaths; bold plans for WeHo, new bike plan in SaMo

Lots of things are happening on the SoCal legal front.

To start with, Julianne Thompson of Carlsbad has pleaded not guilty in the hit-and-run death of 64-year old cyclist Arthur Jacobs; she was found hiding in some nearby bushes shortly afterwards with a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit. Thompson faces up to 15 years on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run and drunk driving.

According to the stories, she’s remorseful. Yet the victim is still dead.

So how does that balance out?


Sources tell me that Adam Carl Garrett, the 19-year old driver accused of killing cyclist Hung Do in a Fountain Valley hit-and-run then calling police pretending to be a witness, has been charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run without gross negligence and hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury.

As one reader put it,

I don’t understand the “without gross negligence” part, but I’d have to say that, yes, death is “permanent and serious.”

As members of the LAPD have repeatedly pointed out, charges are based on what the DA or City Attorney’s offices think they can prove, rather than what police believe really happened. Without witnesses, and with the additional time for any possible intoxicants to pass out of the driver’s system allowed by the hit-and-run, it would be very difficult to make stronger charges stick.


I’m also informed that the family of Amine Britel, the Newport Beach triathlete killed while riding in a bike lane last February, has filed a lawsuit against the driver. Danae Miller was reportedly texting and driving under the influence when she hit Britel’s bike from behind; with her driving record, I’d recommend settling quickly.


Word from the LAPD indicates that charges will soon be filed — if they haven’t already — in the hit-and-run death of Alex Romero, the 17-year old cyclist killed by a speeding car while riding with a friend on De Soto Ave. last April. And charges may not be limited to the driver; they could include others who allegedly attempted to help her cover up the crime.


Renew your membership or make a donation to the LACBC now and AdventureCorp will match it up to a total of $10,000 in honor of fallen endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman.


Get a first look at the newly unveiled draft of the Santa Monica Bike Action Plan when the Santa Monica Spoke hosts a meeting with Santa Monica Deputy Director Lucy Dyke tonight from 6 pm to 8:30 in the Colorado Community Room, 502 Colorado Blvd.

Meanwhile, West Hollywood’s Bicycle Task Force proposes a bold plan to make the city more bike friendly, including removing parking spaces to extend bike lanes along busy Santa Monica Blvd and a road diet on Fountain Ave. to create a protected bike lane along the curb. Not to mention aligning other proposed bike lanes on Fairfax and Vista/Gardner with bike lanes included in the new L.A. bike plan.

We can only hope bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills is paying attention, and plans to do something about that gaping black hole marring biking on the Westside. And needlessly risking the lives and safety of everyone who lives and rides there.


The L.A. County Sheriffs Department is looking for a stabbing suspect who killed a man along the L.A. River Bike Path in South Gate; if you rode the trail the last Friday in June, maybe you saw something.

And according to KNBC-4, L.A. police are looking for a hit-and-run suspect who struck three pedestrians and a parked car in a space of two blocks in Downtown L.A. Sunday morning. But maybe someone else can point out the logical disconnect in this sentence, since KNBC clearly doesn’t get it:

An investigation is underway as to whether or not these accidents were intentional, police said.


It’s time to rethink North Figueroa. Streetsblog looks at the less-than-promising Woodley Ave. bike lanes. LADOT wants your help to survey L.A. bike racks. Metro moves forward on bike share. Full bike parking at the Grove. Those of us born with an competitive gene have to be reminded from time to time not to underestimate anyone; I have to fight the urge to ride down anyone on the road ahead of me. Funny how often the Times photo of the day features bikes. Will gives new meaning to L.A. River Ride by actually riding in the river to connect the gaps in the trail. The South Bay section of the beachfront Marvin Braude Bike Path is about to get a much needed facelift; hopefully the county will get to the cracked and crumbling Marina section before it completely falls apart. Ashley Tisdale rides with her dog in Toluca Lake. An update from Amarillo on the L.A. firefighters riding across the country to honor victims of 9/11.

More information on Cody Wessel, the 19-year old Wildomar cyclist who was killed in nearby Lake Elsinore on Friday. Bike thefts are up in Newport Beach, where police search for Ashton Kutcher and Colonel Sanders. A blind cyclist rides a tandem 240 miles from Santa Barbara to San Diego. A Santa Barbara writer says we could solve a lot of problems with those three little words: share the road. An SB teen is riding across county to raise money and awareness for a program allowing the homeless to live safely in their cars. The Bay Area is facing a pedicab war; yes, Microsoft Word, pedicab is a word so get over it. I missed the unique importance of these new microwave red light sensors in Pleasanton the first time around; thanks to Road.cc for the clarification. Palo Alto attempts to calm traffic and build boulevards. A bike path that doesn’t connect to anything may be a waste of money, but some idiots still don’t get it — it’s the cyclists who are subsidizing the roadways, not the other way around. African American cyclists get blessed in Oakland in an attempt to get more on the road.

New Tron-style wheel rim lights could keep you safer at night. How to not be invisible when you ride. Cycling is good for you, even if you’ve been a couch potato. A graphic illustration of why bikes are good for rural economies. This is why you don’t buy cheap carbon frames off eBay. How is it that Sitka AK is bike-friendly and L.A. isn’t? Misdemeanor charges for killing a Colorado cyclist. It wasn’t easy coming up with that crappy name for the upcoming USA Pro Tour Cycling Challenge; after a top 10 finish in the TdF, Colorado’s Tom Danielson could be one of the favorites. A thief who stole seven bikes from Idaho’s World Relief returns three with an apology. Newly minted Montanan Dancer a la Mode sends word of a DUI fatality that’s gripping the local community. Oklahoma authorities have arrested a suspect in the 2009 hit-and-run death of an 8-year old girl; there’s not a pit in hell deep enough. A Chicago cyclist is killed on her way home from Lollapalooza after falling underneath a dump truck. Massachusetts authorities can now ticket cyclists, but can’t force them to pay.

Turns out bike share saves lives; I wonder if the results would be the same here in L.A. with our lack of cycling infrastructure. How to be an ambassador for cycling. Southern California isn’t the only place where cycling fatalities are on the way up. Pro cycling’s most successful team is folding at the end of this season, while star rider Mark Cavendish may jump to Team Sky; thanks to George Wolfberg for the head’s up. Cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney will compete in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, after winning his first stage since turning pro. Israel revokes their mandatory helmet law for adults. Three years in prison for a rickshaw jockey who chewed off a cyclist’s ear in a road rage incident.

Finally, the unofficial highlights of the Tour de France. And a cyclist rescues a crawfish from the mean streets of Salinas.

If you missed Sunday's Brentwood Grand Prix, you missed some great racing. Don't make the same mistake next year.

Possible cycling fatality in Santa Maria, pedestrian killed in unreported Westside hit-and-run

I’ve received an unconfirmed report of a cycling fatality in Santa Maria on Monday. According to an anonymous source, a 73-year old man was struck and killed at the intersection of Betteravia and Sinton Roads just after noon; rescue personnel were unable to resuscitate him and he was declared dead at the scene.

More details as they become available.

Update: Fortunately, this one turned out to be a false alarm; the report was based on an undated internet story referring to a collision that occurred last year.


Streetsblog reports on a fatal hit-and-run that never made the news, on the same night an allegedly drunk/distracted driver plowed into a group of cyclists in Culver City.

The collision took the life of a pedestrian crossing Venice Blvd at Motor, just 1.25 miles from the other incident, in the early morning hours of Thursday, June 16th. The victim was walking with the light when a dark colored Volkswagen Jetta ran the red light, then sped off to leave him dying in the street.

Anyone with information is asked to call call the West L.A. Traffic Division Officer O. Osbourne at 213-473-0234.  If you’re calling after-hours or on the weekend, please call 1-877-LAPD-24-7.


Danae Marie Miller is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on September 22nd in Newport Beach on a single count of felony vehicular manslaughter in the February death of triathlete Amine Britel. She reportedly was texting and had a BAC of .10 at the time of the collision, and had 16 prior tickets for moving infractions.


As racing resumes after yesterday’s rest day, Thor Hushovd wins stage 16 of the Tour de France; defending champ Alberto Contador must have resumed eating Spanish beef as he gains precious seconds on the leaders.

Evidently, I’m not the only one who thinks this year’s tour is anything but boring. Dave Moulton says keep an eye on Samuel Sanchez. A lasting, if somewhat gruesome, image to show how tough Tour riders really are. Current TdF leader Thomas Voeckler says he has no chance of winning.

Meanwhile, Lance goes to court to demand an investigation into apparent grand jury leaks, saying the Justice Department is trying to destroy his legacy in the court of public opinion. And Alexander Vinokourov closes out his dope-marred career; sometimes I wonder if the cyclists banned for doping are just the ones who got caught, though others might disagree.


Streetsblog’s Damien Newton bookends Carmageddon with a preview on Fox 11, as well as offering a wrap-up with his usual insight; he says there are just too many freeways. Riding to Carmegeddon Ground Zero. GOOD wants you to imagine L.A. without cars; isn’t that what Carmageddon was all about? Police save the 405 from the indignity of being ridden by 200 or so cyclists. Local officials hope the positive Carmegeddon experience will encourage Angelenos to drive less; I give it maybe two weeks tops.

A mathematical follow-up to the great Bike vs. Jet race. Yes Magazine looks at the cyclists who beat an airplane, while Time Magazine evidently misses the part about Gary Kavanagh finishing 2nd on Metro.


The Sacramento Bee offers a semi-tongue-in-cheek list of 11 things thing the pros do that you shouldn’t when you ride your bike.

I realize they’re trying to be funny while making a point. But personally, I’m getting pretty fed up with all the attacks on cyclists who wear Lycra bike clothes; anyone who thinks riders wear spandex to fit in or be fashionable doesn’t have a clue what road riding is all about.

Experienced riders know that road biking shorts and jerseys are designed to provide for maximum comfort and performance over long distances at relatively high speeds by wicking away moisture and preventing chafing while minimizing drag caused by loose, flapping attire.

But nobody says it’s mandatory. Street clothes are perfectly fine if that’s what you want to wear, especially when riding shorter distances or at slower speeds.

So if you don’t like Lycra, don’t wear it.

And anyone who thinks shaved legs are about “primping” has never tried to field dress a gashed calf 40 miles from home.


Bikes Belong gives a grant to the LACBC to study the economic impact of a road diet on York Blvd; the results could provide much needed support for bike projects across the country. The Westside Cities Council of Governments meets at the VA on Thursday; coordination of bike planning and potential funding sources is on the agenda. New Miracle Mile bike racks prove popular. Surf, skate and bike at the Architecture and Design Museum. A discussion of bike share in Santa Monica. Cycletracks are coming to Temple City. Sometimes it only takes a new grate to help make a street a little safer. A Whittier veteran rubs elbows with royalty to promote the Ride Against Homelessness Bike Ride.

Your next Felt could be a little more affordable. Three Newport Beach teenagers are arrested as bike thefts spike. No charges yet in a Ventura hit-and-run. The correct answer to “where to ride your bike” isn’t “somewhere else.” Another Californian has been busted for Biking Under the Influence after colliding with a car. A mountain biker dies after losing control on a Lake Tahoe trail.

Road ID offers a great series on the rules of the road, including videos with bike lawyer Bob Mionske. A new bike can help leave even the worst disappointments behind. Lovely Bicycle defines what bicycle safety means to her. Elly Blue looks shows how disability doesn’t mean a lack of ability when it comes to riding a bike. A look at the Bike Lady of St. Ignatius MT; thanks to new Montanan and former Angeleno Dancer al a Mode for the heads-up. Springfield Cyclist wins not one, but two bikes. A Chicago man complains about the way ghost bikes look over time. It takes a genuine jerk to door a 6-year old and say “I hope you learned your lesson, young man.” A Princeton fusion researcher is killed on the final day of a 500-mile charity ride. NYDOT turns a safe and pleasant commute into a potentially deadly ride. No bike share station on DC’s National Mall.

A new London gym offers indoor bike parking and bike repairs. A British teenager rides on water to raise money for charity; thanks to Rex Reese for the link. Now that’s what I call cycle chic. An English cyclist riding across Africa has all his gear stolen, except for his bike and passport. A fascinating, if lengthy, look at the Rwandan Cycling Team from the New Yorker.

Finally, a Boston cyclist says yes, we are trying to take over the streets.

Legal update: DUI driver arraigned for injuring Adam Rybicki, Valencia sentencing today

These days, it seems like there are as many court cases involving cyclists than there are riders on the streets.

Fortunately, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels has done his usual great job of keeping us up to date with the latest legal proceedings — including charges against the under-aged, allegedly intoxicated driver who ran down who hit Adam Rybicki head on, and Thursday’s sentencing for Marco Antonio Valencia, convicted in the hit-and-run DUI death of Joseph Novotny.

Editor’s Note: While Dj Wheels provided updates on these cases, any commentary or information beyond the actual status of the cases are mine. So blame me, not him.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia:  Charges were filed May 19th at the Torrance Courthouse for the DUI collision that critically injured cyclist Adam Rybicki this past April. The Supervising Judge recused all the judges there from hearing the case, with no public explanation for his actions; however, rumor has it that Garcia’s mother is a court reporter in Torrance, which would explain the recusal.

As a result, arraignment was held Tuesday in Department 5 of the Inglewood Courthouse, Case #YA081126. Garcia’s attorney, George Bird, entered a plea of not guilty to all four counts:

1) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
2) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury
3) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
4) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury

Bird also informed the court on the record that his client has voluntarily surrendered her driver’s license, entered into a three-month alcohol program, voluntarily attended 18 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and has begun electronic alcohol monitoring with the SCRAM device made famous by Hollywood’s favorite outlaw.

Too bad it’s just a little too late.

Had Garcia sobered up a few months earlier, Adam Rybicki might not be in a coma right now, the victim of a 20-year old woman still drunk and behind the wheel at 7:15 in the morning.

And you can bet that none of the actions Garcia took in surrendering her license or entering rehab were her idea; it was no doubt ordered by her attorney in an attempt to show remorse and get his client released with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

After all, it’s worked for any number of Hollywood celebrities, whose first stop after hitting the tabloids is usually a stint in luxury rehab.

And by all accounts, Garcia’s high-priced attorney knows what he’s doing. Maybe if Dr. Thompson’s attorney had ordered him straight into rehab, he might be a free man today.

Let’s hope that the court takes this case seriously, and doesn’t let yet another driver buy her way out of taking responsibility.

Speaking of the infamous Good Doctor:

Dr. Christopher Thompson:  The date for oral arguments has been continued upon the court’s own motion in the appeal of Dr. Thompson’s conviction for intentionally injuring two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon by slamming on his brakes in front of them.  The new date is now 6/29/11.

Marco Antonio ValenciaValenica was convicted last month in the hit-and run DUI death of cyclist Joseph Novotny. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for today (Thursday) at the San Fernando Court; he faces up to 24 year to life in prison.

Shawn Fields:  Fields is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October. Fields reportedly told investigators that he thought he might have hit something, because he remembered seeing sparkly dust flying over him — from the windshield shattered by Marin’s body. Pretrial/Trial Setting Conference is scheduled for 6/22.

Patrick Roraff & Brett Morin:  Roraff and Morin are charged with causing the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. The two were allegedly street racing when Roraff lost control and slammed into Alvarado, who was riding on the opposite shoulder. Pretrial conference is scheduled for 7/7.

Stephanie Drew Segal:  Segal is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura last year (notice a theme here?). She allegedly plowed into Laing after leaving a local wine tasting room, and entered into a rehab facility after her arrest. Preliminary setting is scheduled for 6/28; Wheels notes that the docket says the DA has been ordered to have victims present, which is unusual for this type of hearing.

Renato Demartino:  Demartino is charged with the hit-and-run death of 22-year old cyclist Marco Acuapan, who died in April, four months after he was allegedly hit by Demartino’s car while riding in a bike lane in Tustin. A pretrial conference scheduled for 6/1.

Danae Marie Miller:  Miller is charged with the death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel; she was allegedly drunk and texting when she rear-ended Britel, who was riding in a marked bike lane. Pretrial conference scheduled for 7/15.

Captain John David Hines:  Hines, a Long Beach Fire Captain, is accused of plowing into cyclist Jeffrey Gordon, then fleeing the scene, despite legal, and professional, obligations to stop and render aid. He had allegedly been drinking for hours in a local bar before getting behind the wheel, and had a BAC of .24 at the time of his arrest — three times the legal limit. And once again, he reportedly checked into rehab right after his arrest. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/17.

Satnam Singh:  Singh is charged with killing 20-year old college student Nick Haverland in yet another hit-and-run DUI — this time, in a hit-and-run rampage involving three separate collisions in a matter of minutes that left five people injured and Haverland dead. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/14; Singh remains in custody with the Ventura County Sheriff.

Cyclist killed in Indio area, suspected Jim Swarzman killer released, Marco Antonio Valencia on trial

I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to write this.

Last night, the CHP reported a collision involving a cyclist in the Indio area; the cryptic feed indicated that the coroner had been called.

As I searched for confirmation, though, I found another report online that said the coroner call had been cancelled, and the rider had been transported to the hospital with major injuries. The CHP feed was later updated to indicate that, as well.

Unfortunately, the good news didn’t last.

According to a story in the Desert Sun, 39-year old Travis Carroll was pronounced dead at 8:17 last night, after being hit by a van while riding on Avenue 42 in Bermuda Dunes. The collision occurred between Washington and Adams Streets at around 7:35.

The sparse description of the collision in the Desert Sun doesn’t really make sense.

The paper reports that Carroll was riding on the north side of the street, which suggests he would have been riding west if he was riding with traffic. He then reportedly began riding southeast, which would mean he either had to make a U-turn, or had actually been riding against traffic and drifted across the roadway before being struck by the west-bound van,

However, that raises the question of why he would cross the path of an oncoming vehicle which should have been clearly visible as he faced it — especially since the paper reports that alcohol does not seem to be a factor.

According to reports, the investigation is ongoing.


The same day Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman was laid to rest at Forrest Lawn, word came that the driver suspected of killing him was released from custody.

According to San Diego’s KGTV, Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was released at the last moment before being arraigned. Reportedly, the reason stemmed from the three day limit authorities have to file charges after taking the suspect into custody.

The station indicates that the delay is due to ongoing forensic work to ensure that Fernandez’ Dodge Ram 1500 pickup was in fact the vehicle that took Swarzman’s life; following that, the DA needs to be able to show that Fernandez was actually the one behind the wheel.

I would hope that they are also investigating his actions before the collision; I suspect they may find that he was drinking heavily.

The reports I’ve heard say the collision was extremely violent; I’ll spare you the details, but it would have been virtually impossible for the driver to have been unaware he hit something, putting to question Fernandez statement to the police that he thought he might have hit something.

Unless he was in a significantly altered state, the driver had to know damn well that he hit something, making his flight afterward a purely intentional — and illegal — act.

The investigation is ongoing, and I have no reason to believe the San Diego DA’s office isn’t taking this case very seriously. But we may want to keep on top of it, just in case.


I’ve been on the run the last few weeks, and haven’t had a chance to update the ongoing legal cases (my apologies to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, who has done a great job of keeping me abreast of the ongoing cases).

Wheels reports that the trial has begun in the case of Marco Antonio Valencia, charged with killing Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring three other riders in an alcohol and drug-fueled hit-and-run.

The Signal reports on yesterday’s testimony from the surviving riders; it’s difficult to read, but offers the clearest picture yet what happened on that tragic day. Here’s one brief excerpt:

Chad Lewin, 25, was riding in front of Munana and Novotny during the ride.

As Lewin was riding around a right turn, he saw the bicyclist in front of him slam on his brakes abruptly.

To avoid crashing, Lewin testified that he swerved into the roadway to his left to avoid crashing.

In an instant, he was knocked to the ground by the truck. As he slid, Lewin said his skin was ripped off — in some instances to the muscle.

“As I was sliding backward, I saw Joe 20 feet in the air and hit the mountainside,” Lewin said.

Dj Wheels has been attending some of the court sessions, and offers these thoughts:

It appears that Valencia’s defense will mainly focus on avoiding the “Watson” 2nd degree murder charge by arguing that although he was awake and able to drive, he was not “conscious” of his actions and thus did not have the required specific intent for murder, which would be implied malice.

I don’t know all the case law on these types of DUI murder charges, but essentially Watson says when you have been previously convicted of DUI, you should know all ready that driving drunk can cause serious injury or death, which would establish the intent requirement of malice.  The CA legislature later enacted CVC 23103.5.  As a resulty, many county courts and district attorneys offices for several years now have required defendants to sign a declaration admitting that you acknowledge these risks and that you may be charged with murder if someone dies as a result of their drunk driving.  I believe this declaration can also be used as evidence.

However, under CA Jury Instructions 8.47 says “If you find that a defendant, while unconscious as a result of voluntary intoxication, killed another human being without intent to kill and without malice aforethought, the crime is involuntary manslaughter.”

So my guess is that the defense will try to establish that none of the witnesses actually saw the driver of the vehicle (specifically his face/body) in the seconds before the collision and during the collision in order to establish a reasonable doubt about whether he was indeed “conscious.” I think the only defense witness will be the expert who will testify that someone can be unconscious due to voluntary intoxication, but still be awake.

As long as we’re on the subject of biking collisions and court cases, we might as well keep going.

Danae Marie Miller will be arraigned today on one count of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated in the death of world-class trialthlete Amine Britel in Newport Beach last month. She’s currently out on $100,000 bail.


John Stesney reports that a pretrial hearing is scheduled next week in the death of local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell. The hearing for accused driver Gordon Catlett Wray will take place at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, on Wednesday, April 20th at 8:30 am, case #0SR05313.

My sources indicate that despite numerous questions that have been raised that the defendant was using a cell phone at the time of the collision, the prosecutor either can’t get the records, or won’t request them for some reason — even though they could offer proof of distracted driving in fatal collision.

Maybe a few cyclists in the courtroom could stiffen the DA’s resolve, and show how seriously we’re taking this case.


Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields was arraigned on March 30th for the heartbreaking hit-and-run death of 17-year old Danny Marin in Pacoima last year; a description of the injuries suffered by Marin — again, I’ll spare you the details — suggests another extremely violent collision.

Wheels offers some revealing testimony from the case:

According to the arresting officer, Fields was asleep at home by the time they arrived at the location where the vehicle was registered. He wouldn’t wake up at first after knocking and banging on the windows from where they could see him sleeping.  Fields also volunteered a statement before being taken to the police station that he shouldn’t have driven home because he had too much to drink at a wrap up party at the Roosevelt in Hollywood. He also saw many bottles of various alcoholic beverages inside Field’s house.

Also, the officer that administered the breath test at the station noted that his BAC was .14/.15 at about 4:15 a.m. The collision occurred about three hours earlier.

The investigating officer who interviewed Fields at the station also testified. Fields told him he got to the party around 10pm and drank a long island ice tea, a red label whiskey, a gin and tonic, beer and some water before leaving. After walking out, he had a bacon wrapped hot dog on the street, threw up on himself, debated whether to drive home, waited in his car for a while then finally drove.  He did not have a recollection of actually driving home, but recalled he may have hit something because he remembered being at a stop light close to home and looking at sparkly dust on his arms from the shattered front windshield.


A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 28th at 8:30 am in the San Bernardino Superior Court in the case of Patrick Roraff and Brett Michael Morin for the street racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado last April.


A preliminary hearing is also scheduled for May 11th in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged in the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.


Jim Lyle forwards news that Richard Schlickman, the cyclist critically injured when he lost control of his bike due to newly installed speed bumps in Palas Verdes Estates, is showing amazing progress and determination, and may be transferred to a rehab facility by the end of the month.


Meanwhile, reports are that your prayers continue to be needed for Adam Rybicki, critically injured by an alleged underage drunk driver in Torrance on April 3rd.

Newport Beach cyclist was world-class triathlete, killer driver had 16 tickets; bike plan goes to council March 1

Authorities released the name of the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk driver in Newport Beach Monday evening.

Forty-one year old Amine Britel, a local businessman and world-class triathlete originally from Morocco, was pronounced dead at the scene. His killer, Danae Marie Miller, was released on bond Tuesday morning, on a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated — and was on the road despite receiving 16 traffic tickets over the last six years, including six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions in a three-year period.

Miller has apparently been playing Russian Roulette with her car for years, while the courts failed to do anything to stop her. Now one life is ended and another shattered, all because a woman who probably shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel got behind one after drinking.

Thanks to Lois Rubin for the link to Britel’s profile on Wafin.com, and Patrick Pascal for the link to the Daily Pilot story about Miller’s driving record.


Word comes from the LACBC that the draft bike plan is scheduled for final approval by the City Council on Tuesday, March 1st. A press conference will be held at City Hall at 9:30 am Wednesday to celebrate its anticipated passage.


Three cyclists barely survive falling boulders during the recent Christchurch earthquake; the riders suspect a nearby jogger didn’t make it. The photos offer fair warning of what could happen on PCH when  — not if — it happens here. Thanks to the Trickster for the heads-up.

There are several ways you can help. Then again, there are always those who’ll make the best of any situation.


The controversy over New York’s Prospect Park West bike lanes just won’t go away, as a cyclist and university professor sides with the opposition, and video shows an ambulance bypassing traffic by using the bike lane.

And the crackdown on scofflaw cyclists continues as NYPD officers allegedly beat a teenage cyclist on camera, then throw him in jail for 24-hours for riding on the sidewalk; according to police, the ass-kicking was justified.


Then again, the same battle is being fought on this coast, as battle lines are dug in over the Wilbur Avenue road diet — even though it’s supported by 77% of local residents — while LADOT claims to have a compromise.


If you own a Felt bike, be sure to check this recall list.


Why show your eco-cred by arriving at the Oscars in a Prius when you could go by bike? Maybe co-host Anne Hathaway will do it.


The CalTrans Bicycle Advisory Committee meets this Thursday at 1:30 pm. Help CicLAvia expand east into Boyle Heights. Bicycle Fixation takes the city to task for poor roadway maintenance on 4th street that put cyclists at risk. LADOT Bike Blog asks how you would improve 7th Street for bikes, and reports on the recent BAC meeting, including the election of Jay Slater as chair. Green LA Girl interviews Lindsey Darden, author of Adventures of a Car-Less Valley Girl. Call it the art of bike maintenance, as C.I.C.L.E. and Bikerowave team with the Santa Monica Museum of Art for a tour of the museum, bike maintenance workshop and a mini-ride through the neighborhood on Saturday. Bikerowave plans a 4th birthday celebration this Friday. CD4 council candidate Stephen Box will sponsor free bike repair at the Hollywood farmers market this Sunday. Long Beach is building a multi-modal downtown; maybe L.A. could follow suit. Claremont Cyclist asks why smaller towns aren’t included in lists of bike-friendly cities. Who needs a car when you can bring home $100 in groceries by bike? A four-year old is killed in Sacramento after riding his bike out into the street. The father of the folding bike dies at age 77.

Free bike repair stands are popping up at Whole Foods stores. Next time a driver runs you over, ask if he or she is a Verizon customer. Bicycling’s Joe Lindsey blames bad reporting for bike racing’s continued lack of popularity, while the magazine looks for the next Lance Armstrong among a small group of rising stars. Tucson Bike Lawyer takes issue with yet another incorrect reminder that cyclists don’t pay for infrastructure; I know I do, and you do, too. A Colorado man gets hit by a car, then faces charges for biking under the influence. Utah considers the Idaho Stop Law. Chicago’s new mayor is a big supporter of biking; then again, so is Detroit’s. If you’re going to hit a car, at least make sure it’s an ambulance. A Florida cyclist is hit by a car, but the dog he was towing escapes unharmed. Everyday substitutes for expensive sports bars and drinks.

Now you can ask strangers to rate your ride. London’s new Olympic velodrome is officially open. British cycling champ Victoria Pendleton plans a series of women-only bike rides. Plans are underway to change the bike lanes near Blackfriars Bridge to speed traffic and make cycling less safe. A Manchester bike cop is the victim of a hit-and-run; the driver got out and looked at the victim before fleeing the scene. A Brit cyclist threatens an offending driver with a meat cleaver. Malaysian track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is expected to make a speedy recovery after finishing a World Cup race with a massive wood splinter through his leg. Now you can produce clean drinking water while you ride; I produce a lot of water when I ride, but you wouldn’t want to drink it.

Finally, a fascinating Seoul study shows how cyclists make the transition from leisure riders to bike commuters. Married, married and lower income people are more likely to make the switch; oddly, so are people who live in high-rise buildings. And it concludes that governments should invest in separated bike lanes.

Maybe the Idiot’s Guide to Bike Commuting would help.

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