Tag Archive for Dj Wheels

Catching up on CicLAvia, bike lawyer Dj Wheels unmasked, and I meet one of my few bike heroes

People have been asking me what I plan to say about Sunday’s CicLAvia to the Sea.

At this point, not much.

As a result of the delay caused by this week’s breaking news, others have already offered the insights I was going to give, and in some cases, better than I would have done.

Like this one for instance, in which a USC professor pretty much took the words right out of my mouth.

No, go ahead and read it.

I’ll wait.

………

One of the highlights of any CicLAvia is running into friends along the way.

And this one certainly didn’t disappoint, offering a chance to catch up with former LACBC board member Chet Kostrzewa, who followed up with some insights that might never have occurred to me.

I wanted to pass on some of my own thoughts and observations I made, while teaching basic bike skills to a group of very young riders and watching the inspiring sight of upwards of 150,000 people enjoying taking the street for those few hours. CicLavia has very quickly grown to be an institution, an event to look forward to and count on as an antidote to the traffic fatigue that too many of us endure on a daily basis. As inspirational as CicLavia has become, however, what seems to me to be missing is an inherent motivator in the event that empowers people to see this as a game changer in their lives and not just a rare distraction from the routine on our streets. The sad reality is that starting the next morning and succeeding days until the following CicLavia, River Ride or other bike event, only a very small fraction of those bikes will be getting much new mileage on them.

There are probably as many good reasons to ride regularly and to ride often as there were bicyclists between downtown and Venice yesterday, here is a short list that came to my mind from talking to a variety of bicyclists yesterday:

  1. All the young riders I coached yesterday were, without exception, excited about riding their bikes and taking the challenge of trying out new skills. Unfortunately, without a broad based bicycle skills curriculum in our schools, such learning opportunities offer only a single snapshot in what should be a gradual and incremental development process. The challenge and opportunity here, would be for the parents of these beginning riders to take on the task of role model and long term coach, guiding their development over an extended period toward becoming fully street smart and confident cyclists. The game changer for these parents is to improve their own skills, such as through a confident cycling class, such as taught by League Certified Instructors (LCIs) from the League of American Bicyclists.
  2. While teaching beginning cyclists during CicLavia, I had the opportunity to talk to parents and other adults who stopped to comment and, in some cases, ask for tips to improve their own cycling experience. Many of these casual riders were on bikes that were clearly poorly maintained and which did not fit their riders. One woman I spent some time coaching started our conversation by complaining about how physically difficult the ride down Venice Blvd. was for her. It was quickly evident that her immediate problem was that she had no idea how to shift out of the highest gear on her bike. Her total exposure to cycling was to drag her rusting bike out for just one or two days a year and muscle her way through just a few miles in high gear, before calling it quits until the next CicLavia. With a basic tune up and brief lesson on how to use her bike, it would be a small step to an easy game changer. Instead of just dragging the bike out for those very rare occasions, find weekly opportunities to make a bike ride special. Maybe breakfast out on Sunday morning by bike, or a short daily ride as a stress busting habit right after the evening commute home.
  3. Use technology to facilitate riding and as a feedback tool to improve your riding and fitness level. A basic bike computer provides a wealth of data to measure your results, while providing a tool for setting new goals for improvement. Other technology makes it increasingly easy to insert a bicycle in place of a car in our daily routines. The bus bike racks and increasing number of bike lockers along key transport routes make it easy and economical to start to use a bike for part of all of a commute. Recent bike design technology, such as the highly engineered folding bikes Tern Bicycles was demonstrating at CicLavia make it possible to take your bike with you anywhere. This opens a whole new world of bicycling opportunities, whether as part of a daily routine, or an easy way to enhance a vacation getaway. The game changer here is to realize that technology makes the bicycling experience more flexible, convenient and economical in many scenarios than the typical paradigm of transport being limited to where your car can take you along with a just a few additional blocks you can conveniently walk once you get there.

CicLavia is a fantastic enabler to get rarely used bicycles out of garages and on the road. All most of us need is just a little help and a couple of mental and physical tools to experience a major paradigm shift to move the bicycle from a toy of last resort to become a key tool for enhancing our daily lives. Hopefully a few other of the 150,000 on Venice Blvd yesterday are having similar thoughts tonight and will be changing the urban roadscape in the days and weeks ahead.

………

Another friend I ran into along the way was someone most readers of this blog should know by now, at least by his bike de plume.

Dj Wheels has been a key contributor here for the past several years, offering legal updates and insights on many of the cases involving bicyclists.

It was Wheels who broke the news that Christine Dahab had pleaded guilty and was going to jail; in fact, he told me she started her 90 day evaluation behind bars on Monday.

And it was Wheels who reported from inside the courtroom in the trial of road raging L.A. bike boogeyman Dr. Christopher Thompson, enabling me to scoop the major media and break the news to the world when he was convicted.

So I’ve long been frustrated that I couldn’t tell you who he really is while a court case he was involved in dragged through the legal system. But Sunday, he let me know the case was finally finished.

And I was free, finally, to reveal his identity.

Granted, it may not be a big secret in some circles of the Los Angeles cycling community, where he has long been a popular member.

But for those who don’t know, allow me to introduce Daniel F. Jimenez, Esq.

Jimenez is one of the few lawyers I know who has made bike law his specialty, rather than just an area of practice. And unlike many lawyers, he doesn’t limit the cases he takes on to potentially high-payout liability lawsuits.

Yes, he takes the cases of injured cyclists on a contingency basis, just like most other lawyers. But he has also represented riders in everything from criminal cases to simple traffic violations, and even defended a rider who collided with a pedestrian and was being sued for the injuries he suffered.

Southern California cyclists are lucky to have a number of excellent bike lawyers; I can personally recommend many of the men and women you’ll find listed over there on the right.

But any time someone asks me for a good lawyer to represent a bike rider, you can bet that Daniel Jimenez will be on the list.

………

The Times offers a look at CicLAvia and decides it gives L.A. a small town feel, even though some motorists grumble; then again, I’d grumble too if I was stuck in my car when so many Angelenos were out having fun. Many people complained about the bike congestion caused by closing just half of Venice for CicLAvia; outgoing Councilmember Bill Rosendahl says plans are already in the works to repeat CicLAvia to the Sea next year — and this time, with both sides closed to vehicular traffic.

Streetsblog offers a lively discussion of the day, and notes that for some it was more than just fun. For others, it was the smells that were most memorable. Even the Mayor rode on Venice once again, this time without falling down. Leading mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti rode at CicLAvia; if opponent Wendy Gruel was there, I haven’t seen any sign of it yet. Flying Pigeon offers suggestions to make L.A.’s happiest day even better. A road racer does her first CicLAvia and asks WTF just happened? KPCC’s Larry Mantle talks CicLAvia with co-founder and Executive Director Aaron Paley.

And clearly, the Stoopidtall bike was the hit of the day.

………

Finally, I’m not much on heroes.

I learned early in life that they too often turn out to be human, and so, likely to let you down. See Armstrong, Lance; Hart, Gary.

But one exception has always been track cyclist and US Bicycle Hall of Fame member Nelson Vails, who captured a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and helped prove that Americans — and African-Americans — could hold their own at the highest levels of the traditionally white European sport.

So excuse me if I was just a little awed — rather than merely odd, which I freely confess to — when I ran into Eastside bike advocate Carlos Morales, the new owner of Stan’s Bike Shop in Monrovia. And he introduced me to the man sitting next to him in the bike car they rode at CicLAvia.

And if Nelson Vails wants to give a shout out to his friends at Stan’s, far be it from me to say no.

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

Against all odds, justice prevailed in Culver City.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up.

……..

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

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

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

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

Fortunately, Wheels succeeded where I failed.

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

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

……..

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

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

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

Fortunately, it was all a misunderstanding.

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

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

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

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

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

……..

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

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

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

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

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

……..

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what the photo showed was shocking.

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

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

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

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

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

……..

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

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

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

Valencia sentenced, BOLO for killer car, arrest in Angeles Crest road rage and 3 feet 2 pass passes

Lots of news to catch up on while I take a break from work.

……..

First up, Marco Antonio Valencia has finally been sentenced in the drunken and high hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny over two years ago. Valencia had an estimated BAC of .23— nearly three times the legal limit — as well as methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in his system at the time of the 11 am collision.

The now 22-year old driver will spend the next 26 years to life in state prison.

Unlike some other notable cases, there’s no satisfaction or sense of victory in this case. At least, not for me.

Just an overwhelming sense of sadness that two lives ended that day — Novotny and the man who killed him — because we as a society couldn’t manage to keep a repeat, underage drunk driver off the roads.

And fear of how many more Valencia’s there are out there just waiting to happen.

……..

Next up, there’s BOLO alert in the hit-and-run death of Alex Romero on the Valley’s Canoga Park Blvd last April.

Authorities have identified the car used to flee the scene after killing Romero in a high-speed collision, and traced it first to Palmdale, then San Pedro before losing track of it. As a result, you’re urged to be on the lookout for the following vehicle —

SUSPECT VEHICLE:

2003 TOYOTA COROLLA 4 DOOR, LIGHT GRY OR SILVER

LIC PLATE: 5FCA061

(REGISTERED TO ADDRESS IN PORTER RANCH)

MISSING RIGHT SIDE MIRROR & FRONT EMBLEM, DAMAGE TO RIGHT PORTION OF WINDSHIELD, AND POSSIBLE FRONT GRILL DAMAGE

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Valley Traffic Detective Krajchir, at (818) 644-8034. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting the word “TIPLA” and the message to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. Tipsters may also go to www.lacrimestoppers.org, click on “Submit a Tip” and follow the prompts.

……..

An arrest has been made in the case discussed here recently in which a driver was accused of threatening cyclists on Angeles Crest Highway.

According to the Arcadia Patch, Earl Clyde Cox of La Crescenta threatened two separate groups of cyclists along the highway in a road rage incident.

Frighteningly, he reportedly told deputies that the riders weren’t being considerate, so he appointed himself as a driveway vigilante fashion and set out to teach them some manners.

I have a feeling he’s going to learn some the hard way himself.

……..

There’s good news from Sacramento for a change, as the proposed three-foot passing law passed the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee.

According to the California Bicycle Coalition, the measure passed on an 8 to 5 vote after an hour of impassioned testimony, including support from Bakersfield Senator Michael Rubio, who spoke as a private citizen and cyclist.

Not surprisingly, the AAA — both NorCal and SoCal editions — came out strongly against the bill, suggesting that it be made optional for drivers. So basically, they think their members should have the right to buzz you if the mood strikes.

Meanwhile, a lobbyist for the Teamsters insisted on their members’ right to continue killing cyclists by passing too closely.

Now the bill moves on to the full Assembly, which means it’s time to flood your own representative with letters of support for SB 910.

Let’s end with this quote from CBC Executive Director Dave Snyder —

“…Yesterday’s hearing offered a sobering reminder of how far California still has to go to ensure that everyone who uses the roads can do so safely. It’s disturbing to see AAA and the Teamsters try to defeat a measure that would give drivers – those with the greatest potential to harm others on the road – clear guidance on how to share the road more safely. Drivers who ride bicycles or know someone who does should be deeply concerned about how they’re being represented before lawmakers in Sacramento.”

On second thought, let’s end on this from Cyclelicious, as he urges you to support another bill, SB 582, that could begin to level the playing field for those who prefer to commute via something other than four wheels.

Like a bicycle, for instance.

……..

There’s been a non-development in Dr. Christopher Thompson’s appeal of his conviction in the Mandeville Canyon Brake Check, in which the Good Doctor tested his stopping power by slamming on the brakes in front of two riders, seriously injuring both.

According to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, the oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled after Thompson’s attorney declined to argue his case.

Evidently, that’s not unusual. And since the appellant chose not to appear, the attorney for the People of California chose not to appear, as well. After all, there’s no point in responding when there’s no one to respond to.

So what’s next?

Brace yourself. According to Wheels,

In the normal course, the case will be “submitted” tomorrow (Wednesday), without oral argument, and the court will have 90 days from that date to file its opinion.  If the conviction is affirmed, appellant will have the opportunity to seek rehearing, if he can identify a very specific error in facts in the Court of Appeal.  He can also, and universally will, file a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, identifying specific issues under specific conditions that would justify a  grant of review in the Cal. Supreme court.  He may also collaterally attack the conviction in the California courts by means of a writ of habeas corpus.  For those federal claims that have been exhausted in state court, he may then file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court, which could lead to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court.

In other words, we’ve got a long damn row to hoe before the case involving this particular repellant appellant is finally settled.

……..

Jury selection is scheduled for Wednesday in the case of Gordon Catlett Wray, the driver accused of killing local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell and injuring fellow rider Scott Evans; opening arguments will follow either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, depending on what time jury selection concludes. The trial will take place at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, case #0SR05313. Cyclists are urged to attend to show their support for the victims.

Update: I’ve just been informed that the charge against Wray is misdemeanor vehicular homicide; as always, that could be reduced if there’s a settlement.

Thanks to John Stesney for the reminder.

……..

Outrage from cyclists has had an effect in Mississippi, as a local DA has agreed to reopen the investigation into the hit-and-run driver who ran over a cyclist, got out of her car to look at her, then got back in and ran over her again. The victim was victimized yet again when authorities concluded that her actions weren’t prohibited under Mississippi and there was nothing they could charge her with.

Hopefully, a more thorough scouring of state laws will turn up something this time.

Personally, I vote for attempted murder. Or at the very least, a couple counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

……..

Finally, thanks to George Wolfberg, and Tim Rutt of Altadenablog, for forwarding the New York Times report on noseless saddles designed to help put a little less pressure on the groins of male riders, and help them get a little more wood out of the saddle.

Not that you have a problem with that, of course.

Possible justice in Jim Swarzman hit-and-run, Zeke’s brother Dave blasts Universal

It looks like justice may be coming for Jim Swarzman after all.

Joseph Ricardo Fernandez of Carlsbad has been rearrested and is being held on $100,000 bond pending arraignment on Wednesday. Fernandez was arrested after turning himself in the day after Swarzman was killed in a violent hit-from-behind collision, telling police investigators he thought he might have hit something.

However, he was released from custody just moments before the planned arraignment on April 14th, as prosecutors declined to file charges at that time.

It will be interesting to see just what charges are filed.

Problem is, no matter how severe the penalty ends up being, it can’t undo the past and bring a well-loved man back.

.………

On a similar subject, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that the defense has rested in the murder trial of Marco Antonio Valencia for the drunken hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny, and jury deliberations will start tomorrow.

The question doesn’t seem to be if Valencia will do time for the hit-and-run, but whether he will be convicted of the murder charge, with its possible life sentence. Wheels has noted previously that even if he is acquitted of murder, Valencia still faces up to 20 years in prison.

Yet no amount of jail time will bring Novotny back, either.

.………

Bob Mionske says there has to be some middle ground between felony manslaughter and failure to yield, serious prison time or a slap on the wrist. As usual, he gets it right; definitely worth reading for anyone interested in genuine justice on our streets.

.………

Maybe you’ll recall that I’ve complained more than once about Universal Studios’s refusal to allow an extension of the L.A. River Bike Path or revitalization of the river through their North Hollywood property.

And that as far as I’m concerned, any plans for expansion should be dead in the water until their attitude changes. Including the silly explanation that they fear failing screenwriters will throw their scripts over the fence if they’re allowed to get that close.

Like they couldn’t just buy a ticket for the studio tour.

So I found it very amusing — and dead on the money — when Dave Yount, brother of North Carolina bike scribe Zeke, sent me the following email:

Hey Ted,

I just stumbled across these drawings for plans for the huge expansion at Universal Studios.  I knew they were trying to block any extension of the LA River path through the studio lot, but I didn’t realize they had offered an alternative bike path through the property.  Check out the drawings here:

http://www.lasubwayblog.com/2010/11/nbc-universal-evolutions-proposed.html

Are you familiar with Universal City Walk?  They have the bike path going up the hill from Lankershim, conveniently buy (pun intended) City Walk, back north across some new road and back down to Barham.  First of all, nobody is going to (and most can’t) ride a bike up that hill.  Secondly, you have to go through all the traffic at City Walk to get to this new road they are building.  Finally, if you are trying to get to the Cahuenga Pass, you then get to climb up Barham after having just pushed your bike up the hill to City Walk.

The nerve of some planning (PR) a$$holes never ceases to amaze me.

Bro Dave

Thanks to Dave for permission to share this. And say hi to Zeke.

.………

A teenage mountain biker is airlifted to safety after falling off a 50 foot embankment in the Claremont area. Metro will consider removing — or perhaps just studying — the rush hour bike ban on their trains, as well as an Active Transportation Agenda, at Thursday’s board meeting; LACBC says your help is needed. The next BPIT meeting is coming up next week, while the city prepares a package of projects for environmental review; Bikeside accuses L.A. Planning and LADOT of hijacking the process. Raise funds for LACBC while you River Ride and you could win big. Streetsblog offers a handful of opportunities to raise funds and have fun. Thirteen SoCal bike coops gather to trade notes last weekend. Glendale announces plans for next month’s Bike Month. The new Bike Newport is sponsoring a low-stress family fun ride for Sunday, May 15th.

Going carless can put the equivalent of a $4 an hour raise in your pocket, while higher gas prices mean fewer wrecks.  Bicycling asks what’s the best bike for bicycle commuting; how about the one you have? Lovely Bicycle asks if it’s really productive to criticize other cyclists. A reluctant bike commuter takes to the streets of Seattle. Albuquerque opens limited access highways to bikes. Take a baseball bat to a high-end bike, and get two years probation — even if your version of events is termed a fantasy. New York police insist on forcing cyclists to ride in the bike lane, even if it kills them — the cyclists, that is. The Wall Street Journal stops the presses for a little positive news about a New York cyclist.

Great Britain risks fielding a reduced bike team at this year’s Worlds and the 2012 Olympics. After a rough spring spent rehabbing a knee injuring, bike prodigy Taylor Phinney shows why the expectations are so high by finishing 2nd in the time trial prologue for this week’s Tour of Romandie; Jonathan Castroviejo takes 1st. Kate Middleton works for a Boston bike shop.

Finally, even Moscow — the one in Russia, not Idaho — promises to become bike friendly, although 2000 bike parking spaces and 45 kilometers of bikeways doesn’t sound like much in a city of 11 million.

Possible justice in Jim Swarzman hit-and-run, Zeke’s brother Dave blasts Universal

It looks like justice may be coming for Jim Swarzman after all.

Joseph Ricardo Fernandez of Carlsbad has been rearrested and is being held on $100,000 bond pending arraignment on Wednesday. Fernandez was arrested after turning himself in the day after Swarzman was killed in a violent hit-from-behind collision, telling police investigators he thought he might have hit something.

However, he was released from custody just moments before the planned arraignment on April 14th, as prosecutors declined to file charges at that time.

It will be interesting to see just what charges are filed.

Problem is, no matter how severe the penalty ends up being, it can’t undo the past and bring a well-loved man back.

.………

On a similar subject, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that the defense has rested in the murder trial of Marco Antonio Valencia for the drunken hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny, and jury deliberations will start tomorrow.

The question doesn’t seem to be if Valencia will do time for the hit-and-run, but whether he will be convicted of the murder charge, with its possible life sentence. Wheels has noted previously that even if he is acquitted of murder, Valencia still faces up to 20 years in prison.

Yet no amount of jail time will bring Novotny back, either.

.………

Bob Mionske says there has to be some middle ground between felony manslaughter and failure to yield, serious prison time or a slap on the wrist. As usual, he gets it right; definitely worth reading for anyone interested in genuine justice on our streets.

.………

Maybe you’ll recall that I’ve complained more than once about Universal Studios’s refusal to allow an extension of the L.A. River Bike Path or revitalization of the river through their North Hollywood property.

And that as far as I’m concerned, any plans for expansion should be dead in the water until their attitude changes. Including the silly explanation that they fear failing screenwriters will throw their scripts over the fence if they’re allowed to get that close.

Like they couldn’t just buy a ticket for the studio tour.

So I found it very amusing — and dead on the money — when Dave Yount, brother of North Carolina bike scribe Zeke, sent me the following email:

Hey Ted,

I just stumbled across these drawings for plans for the huge expansion at Universal Studios.  I knew they were trying to block any extension of the LA River path through the studio lot, but I didn’t realize they had offered an alternative bike path through the property.  Check out the drawings here:

http://www.lasubwayblog.com/2010/11/nbc-universal-evolutions-proposed.html

Are you familiar with Universal City Walk?  They have the bike path going up the hill from Lankershim, conveniently buy (pun intended) City Walk, back north across some new road and back down to Barham.  First of all, nobody is going to (and most can’t) ride a bike up that hill.  Secondly, you have to go through all the traffic at City Walk to get to this new road they are building.  Finally, if you are trying to get to the Cahuenga Pass, you then get to climb up Barham after having just pushed your bike up the hill to City Walk.

The nerve of some planning (PR) a$$holes never ceases to amaze me.

Bro Dave

Thanks to Dave for permission to share this. And say hi to Zeke.

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A teenage mountain biker is airlifted to safety after falling off a 50 foot embankment in the Claremont area. Metro will consider removing — or perhaps just studying — the rush hour bike ban on their trains, as well as an Active Transportation Agenda, at Thursday’s board meeting; LACBC says your help is needed. The next BPIT meeting is coming up next week, while the city prepares a package of projects for environmental review; Bikeside accuses L.A. Planning and LADOT of hijacking the process. Raise funds for LACBC while you River Ride and you could win big. Streetsblog offers a handful of opportunities to raise funds and have fun. Thirteen SoCal bike coops gather to trade notes last weekend. Glendale announces plans for next month’s Bike Month. The new Bike Newport is sponsoring a low-stress family fun ride for Sunday, May 15th.

Going carless can put the equivalent of a $4 an hour raise in your pocket, while higher gas prices mean fewer wrecks.  Bicycling asks what’s the best bike for bicycle commuting; how about the one you have? Lovely Bicycle asks if it’s really productive to criticize other cyclists. A reluctant bike commuter takes to the streets of Seattle. Albuquerque opens limited access highways to bikes. Take a baseball bat to a high-end bike, and get two years probation — even if your version of events is termed a fantasy. New York police insist on forcing cyclists to ride in the bike lane, even if it kills them — the cyclists, that is. The Wall Street Journal stops the presses for a little positive news about a New York cyclist.

Great Britain risks fielding a reduced bike team at this year’s Worlds and the 2012 Olympics. After a rough spring spent rehabbing a knee injuring, bike prodigy Taylor Phinney shows why the expectations are so high by finishing 2nd in the time trial prologue for this week’s Tour of Romandie; Jonathan Castroviejo takes 1st. Kate Middleton works for a Boston bike shop.

Finally, even Moscow — the one in Russia, not Idaho — promises to become bike friendly, although 2000 bike parking spaces and 45 kilometers of bikeways doesn’t sound like much in a city of 11 million.

Valencia trial nears conclusion, CA 3-foot law moves forward, NY Post absurdly fans the bikelash flames

Dj Wheels reports that the trial has resumed in the case of Marco Antonio Valencia, charged with murder and hit-and-run, among other charges, in the death of Joseph Novotny and the serious injury of three other riders.

According to Wheels, the prosecution has rested their case, and the defense is expected to conclude today after calling a single witness.

The defense’s expert witness, Dr. Ari Kalechstein, a neuro-psychologist who has testified in numerous other trials about the effect of intoxication on the brain and the effect on behavior, offered the opinion that Valencia was “unconscious” (either blacked out or passed out) at the time of the collision with the cyclists.

The prosecution’s cross examination has begun and will resume tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 10:30am.  So far, the prosecution is attempting to establish that although someone is “unconscious” (i.e. blacked out) they can still be aware of what they are doing.  Also that despite the expert’s opinion, he can not provide the jury with any indication of what was going on in the mind of Valencia at the time of the collision.

After the defense rests, the judge and attorneys will have to confer about the appropriate jury instructions to read to the jury before closing arguments begin.

Hopefully they get through it all tomorrow so the jury can start deliberating.

The Signal reports on the same testimony, and notes Valencia faces 27 year to life if convicted on the murder charge.

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Jim Lyle reports that the news is good for Richard Schlickman, the cyclist injured recently in a fall caused by new speed bumps in Palos Verdes Estates, as he has been moved to a rehab facility and is talking up a storm. Meanwhile, no change in the condition of Adam Rybicki, critically injured in a collision with an alleged drunk, under-aged driver.

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California’s proposed three-foot passing law makes it onto the legislative agenda; provisions also include a requirement that drivers pass riders at no more than 15 mph above the speed of the bike, with a fine of $250 for violations. Meanwhile, Kansas cyclists get a shiny new three-foot passing law of their very own; that brings the total up to 17 states with a three-foot law.

And it could soon be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while you ride.

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What kind of a jerk would steal a bike from a teenager with Downs Syndrome? As I’ve said before, there’s a special place in hell…

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Now you can round up your credit and debit card purchases, and contribute the difference to the Bikes Belong Foundation to support projects like People for Bikes and Safe Routes to School.

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The bike-hating New York Post once again smears Gotham cyclists, noting that 24% of riders they observed in bike lanes at a busy intersection ran red lights — but fails to note that the overwhelming majority didn’t. According to the paper, fifteen percent rode the wrong way or swerved in and out of bike lanes; yet once again, they neglect to mention that 85% stayed in the lanes and rode with traffic. Or the distinct possibility that cyclists swerved out of bike lanes because they were blocked by the city’s famously double-parking drivers or pedestrians who use the bike lane as an extra sidewalk.

They also get their hackles up over the 81 cyclists out of 7,182 riders — just over 1% — who rode on the sidewalk; something tells me a lot more drivers than that parked in the bike lane. And of course, when they describe an average of four near-collisions an hour, they fail to note who was at fault, absurdly implying that the cyclists were to blame in every case.

In a textbook example of pot calling kettle black an editorial today, the paper says “far too many cyclists are clueless, boors or bullies,” and calls for a continued crackdown on New York cyclists.

You have to admire a publication with such a firm commitment not to let facts or rationality sully their pages.

Meanwhile, some New York cyclists consider the city’s separated bike lanes “deathtraps;” however, the Wall Street Journal notes that the number of riders killed in them totals exactly zero.

And much-maligned NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joins the board of Occidental College; could this be a first step in coming back home to Los Angeles?

Pretty please?

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Will Campbell shares a photo of the ghost bike for shooting victim Manuel Santizo. LACBC wants your support for bike lanes on the soon-to-be-widened North Spring Street Bridge. LAPD bike cops could soon be zipping around on e-bikes. Streetsblog notes that removing Brentwood and the Westwood condo corridor reduces the effectiveness of the planned Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit lane by 40% — not to mention putting cyclists, who would share those lanes, at continued risk in some of the most dangerous sections of the boulevard. HuffPo offers a biking route from Echo Park to Venice Beach. Gather some friends together make your own Santa Monica CicLAvia. Help take CicLAvia to South L.A. Dancer ala Mode says her new career as a bike advocate began when someone stole her bike. Next time you need your Penny Farthing fixed, Flying Pigeon can handle the job.

Rick Risemberg visits the new separated bike lanes in Long Beach; Mihai and Gary Kavanagh seem impressed as well. A Monrovia High student nears a perfect season in the SoCal high school mountain bike league. Great bike photos from the Claremont Day of Champions. Bicycling’s ride of the day is our own Mt. Baldy. Long Beach’s biking expats Russ Roca and Laura Crawford are the proud owners of Bike Radar’s website of the week. A 17-year old OC cyclist riding on the 405 Freeway gets a good talking to from the police. A San Diego cyclist suffers a life-threatening injury after being doored by a driver getting out of her parked car.

A comprehensive beginners guide to bicycling. How bike economics can help beat the energy crisis. Wired looks at the culture of bike messengers. Complete Streets means the freedom to get around the way you want. A bike hating Tucson driver considers switching sides. Former president George W. Bush rides with the Wounded Warrior Project. Illinois police will now track dooring incidents, after originally saying they couldn’t. Minnesota reminds drivers to share the road after the state suffers its first cycling fatality of the year. A new campaign identifies bike-friendly businesses in New York; something tells me the Post won’t be one of them. Mo Rocca says when the U.S. becomes a third world country, we’ll all be riding bikes; hey, works for me.

Male drivers are twice as likely to have distracted-driving collisions as women. A London cabbie starts a campaign against high-intensity headlights, saying they put cyclists and others at risk by blinding drivers. An 81-year old UK man is killed in a collision with a cyclist. BoJo will be giving Will and Kate a tandem for a wedding present. Pharma Lotto rider Phillipe Gilbert wins three classics in a single week, though some question if the Schleck brothers handed the last one to him. Tel Aviv is the latest city to suffer a bikelash over bike lanes. South Jakarta gets its first bike lanes, though it looks more like motorcycle parking in the photos.

Finally, New York state police pepper spray a drunk cyclist. And a member of New York’s Transportation Alternatives board of directors says cyclists need to show we’ll use bike lanes responsibly; if drivers were held to that standard, no new roads would ever be built.

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A raft of legal cases — 5 deaths, 4 hit-and-runs, 1 drunken pop star and a justly jailed physician

I haven’t had a lot of opportunity lately to keep up with recent bike-related court cases, or even to update the Legal Cases page on my blog — something I’ll try to get to over the weekend.

Fortunately, local cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels continues to do an incredible job of keeping on top of what’s happening in our local courts, as well as with key trials across the country. This past week, he sent his latest update on some of the cases currently making their way through the courts.

My heartfelt thanks to Wheels, who has done more to keep the local cycling community informed than we could ever thank him for.

Shawn Fields – PA068775 (San Fernando)

Charged in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old Daniel (Danny) Marin on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima on October 2nd of last year. While any cycling death leave me shaken, this is one that has hit me the hardest. Maybe it was the needless waste of a bright, well-loved young man; maybe it was because he reminds me of myself at that age. Or maybe just because I think I would have liked him if I’d ever had the chance.

Last hearing was held on January 21 – proof of compliance with discovery requests.  Although the Preliminary Hearing had all ready been scheduled for February 2, that hearing was advanced and continued to February 16 in Dept. 502 – Judge Olmedo.  Fields remains out of custody on bail.

Marco Antonio Valencia – PA065011 (San Fernando)

Valencia is charged with killing cyclist Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring two other riders in Santa Clarita’s Bouquet Canyon. He is accused of exhibiting a “willful, wanton disregard for human life,” by driving with a blood alcohol level of .18, as well as methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in his system at the time of the morning collision. After the wreck, he reportedly told a deputy to shoot him because his life was over; unfortunately, it was Novotny whose life was ended.

After numerous continuances of the trial date, Valencia will probably be on trial by the end of February for DUI/murder charges.  The next hearing is scheduled for February 14 as a 0 of 20 for Trial.  Valencia is still in custody.

Yelena Krupen – 0BV00450 (Beverly Hills)

Beverly Hills model Yelena Krupen was charged with fleeing the scene after hitting cyclist Brandon Chau on Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills, in a case that infuriated local cyclists by demonstrating just how hard it is to get justice if the rider isn’t critically injured.

She was sentenced on December 7 to 25 days county jail for misdemeanor hit and run property damage and driving on a suspended license charges, plus restitution to the victim.  She surrendered on December 27 to the women’s detention facility in Lynwood.  Her projected release date was January 6 according to the Sheriff’s inmate locator page, but it has not been updated with an actual release date.

Jose Luis Huerta Mundo – 10HM05193 (Newport Beach)

He’s charged in the death of popular OC cyclist Michael Nine, who was killed on a group ride when he collided with a truck driven by Mundo, who was in the country illegally after previously being deported. Mundo allegedly made an illegal turn on a blind corner; Nine was riding downhill at speed and was unable to avoid the truck.

Trial was held in mid November and the jury was hung.  Mundo is being re-tried.  Pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 7 and trial is tentatively scheduled for February 28.

Patrick Roraff – FSB1002475 (San Bernardino)

In another devastating case, rising pro racer Jorge Alvarado was killed shortly after moving from Mexico to the San Bernardino area to join the short-lived Bahati Foundation racing team. He was killed when Roraff was allegedly street racing another car driven by Brett Morin, who is also charged. Along with the fallout from fellow team member Floyd Landis’ doping accusations, Alvarado’s death helped destroy what had been a promising new pro team headed by a local riding hero who gives back to the community he grew up in. If you have the heart to handle it, read the heartbreaking Spanish language comments from those who knew and loved Alvarado.

Pre-Preliminary Hearing is scheduled for March 1 and Preliminary hearing for March 3.  Roraff remains out of custody on bail.

Carlos Bertonatti – F-10-001742  (Miami-Dade County, Florida)

Bertonatti is the Miami pop singer charged with killing cyclist Christophe Le Canne last year in yet another drunken hit-and-run, culminating in a police chase with Le Canne’s bike still lodged under his car. Bertonatti was still on the road despite racking up over 40 moving violations in the past 12 years.

Trial Hearing scheduled for February 22.  http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2010/12/carlos_bertonatti_released_on.php

Dr. Christopher Thompson – B221794 (L.A. Downtown Appellate Court)

The Good Doctor was convicted in the vehicular assault of two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon on the 4th of July in 2009. Not surprisingly, he is appealing his conviction.

Attorney General’s responsive brief is due March 1, with no further continuances.  Thompson remains in custody at Wasco State Prison.

In addition to the cases Wheels mentioned here, charges were recently filed against Stephanie Segal in the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills, and Patricia Ann Izquieta has pleaded guilty in the “drug addled” death of cyclist Donald Murphy in Newport Beach last year.

A raft of bike-related court cases; L.A.’s revised bike plan MIA.

Dj Wheels catches us up on the current of court cases affecting the cycling community — some of which we’ve discussed before, along with a few new ones in the ever expanding list of drivers brought to justice.

Robert Sam Sanchez, charged in the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas in Malibu while allegedly intoxicated, had his Preliminary Setting continued to May 26 at 8:30 am in the Malibu Courthouse.

According to Wheels —

I didn’t see anyone that appeared to be there for the victim’s family, but there were plenty family members there in support of the Defendant. The deputy DA said again that there would either be a disposition on this day (ie. a plea deal entered) or there would be a date selected for a Preliminary Hearing (a mini trial before the judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to hear the case before a jury).

William Keith Square, arrested in the hit-and-run death of a still-unnamed cyclist in Carson on April 17th, was arraigned three days later and entered a not guilty plea on all counts. A Preliminary Setting was held on May 5th, and Preliminary Hearing scheduled for June 10 at 8:30 am. Notes Wheels, “Funny how when you don’t have private counsel, the process moves a lot faster.”

Angelina Gailine Everett, accused of the hit-and-run that left an injured Ed Magos lying in the street on January 6. Dj Wheels explains —

She initially stopped, but then left the scene without rendering aid or exchanging information with the injured cyclist. The city attorney was not going to file charges at first, but after pressure from the cycling community and a promise from the newly appointed Chief Beck to request that the C.A. take a second look at it, charges were finally filed on April 6. There was an initial arraignment date of May 6, but apparently Everett did not show up. According to my sources, the city attorney might have sent the citation and notice to appear for her arraignment to an old address.  The court’s system still doesn’t have a new arraignment date entered.

Everett is charged with:

1) one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a collision where there physical injuries to one of the involved parties – CVC 20001

2) one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a collision where there is property damage – CVC 20002(A)

Naira Margaryan, accused in the death of Gerado Ramos 13 months after he was struck while riding in a Glendale crosswalk.

On September 23, 2008, Margaryan ran over a cyclist at a crosswalk in a residential section of Glendale, after allegedly blowing through a stop sign. Detective Mankarios of the Glendale PD claims the victim cyclist was somehow also at fault in violation of the Cal Vehicle Code by riding his bike on the sidewalk. The case was filed on April 30. There was an initial arraignment date of May 13, and the defendant appeared with private counsel but did not enter her plea. Arraignment was continued to June 2 at 8:30am at the Glendale Courthouse in Dept. 1.

Margaryan is charged with:

1) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence – PC 192(c)(2)

In a non-bike related case, former state legislator Walter Karabian stands accused of assaulting an unnamed parking attendant during a USC football game last fall. Wheels reports that a pretrial conference was heard on May 13, with another hearing scheduled for June 10 for compliance with discovery requests, as well as a Trial Setting Conference. A jury trial has been tentatively scheduled for July 19.

Yelena Krupen is accused of damaging the property of an unnamed victim in a hit-and-run collision while driving with a suspended license.

On December 3, 2009, Krupen struck a cyclist from behind with her Mercedes on Santa Monica Blvd at Bedford Ave. in Beverly Hills, causing damage to the bicycle. However, Krupen immediately left the scene after backing up off the rear wheel of the bike. Another motorist who witnessed the incident followed the Mercedes for a short distance, wrote down the license plate and returned to the scene with the info, which was later provided to the BHPD. After an investigation by BHPD and some complaints to the BH City Council for what was feared would become a dismissal, charges were filed on March 15, 2010.

Arraignment was held on March 26 and Krupen pleaded not guilty to both counts with the assistance of the Public Defender. A pretrial conference was held on April 23, which was continued to May 20. The defendant was not present but appeared by private counsel. She was ordered to be present at the next hearing.

Krupen is charged with:

1)one misdemeanor count of failing to stop and provide information at the scene of a collision where there is property damage only – CVC 20002(A)

2)one misdemeanor count of driving with suspended/revoked license – CVC 14601.1(A)

And still no word on charges against Patrick Roraff, the 18-year old driver who allegedly killed pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing near San Bernardino on April 8th.

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Remember the new bike plan that seemed to be such a big deal last year? Yeah, me neither. LACBC seems to recall that LADOT promised us a revised plan all the way back in February, and — justifiably — takes the city to task for failing to schedule a realistic release date three months later. And oh-so-politely points the finger at the upper echelons of the department.

Seems to me that if the people in charge at LADOT wanted to release a bike plan, it would have happened already. So here’s my polite suggestion. Either get with the program, or get hell out of the way so people who actually give a damn about cycling in this city can get something done.

Otherwise, you may find L.A.’s cycling community gathered on LADOT’s doorstep with a different finger extend.

And this one won’t be pointing.

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Richie Porte keeps the leader’s jersey in the Giro; Vinokourov starts his comeback by gaining 10 seconds on the leader, leaving him just 9 minutes and 48 seconds behind. Thursday’s Amgen Tour of California was not hijacked by Floyd Landis, despite appearances to the contrary; Michael Rogers — no relation — claims the leader’s jersey despite having the same overall time as Dave Zabriskie.

Landis-accused Lance Armstrong crashes out at the beginning of the stage, while Greg “Everyone is a Doper but Me” LeMond sides with Landis for a change; tune in tomorrow for As the ToC Turns.

Meanwhile, Blog Downtown anticipates big crowds and closures on Saturday.

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Gary gets a pleasant Bike to Work Day surprise — along with some not so nice surprises. Bike to Work Day is celebrated in Claremont and by the LACBC Downtown, while UCLA offers Bike to School Day. Metro offers free rides to cyclists with helmets, but may have forgotten to tell their drivers. And a little Tweet pressure gets Trader Joe’s to think twice about opening in Bike Week without bike parking.

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LADOT continues their advice for beginning cyclists. Pasadena tells cyclists to please stay off the sidewalk. A new OC bike shop will offer dial-up roadside service. Hemet police find cyclists at fault in 16 of 18 collisions; yeah, no hint of bias there. A cyclist in Oakland is killed when he gets doored by a driver and forced into a bus. On the heels of the worldwide popularity of the Tweed ride comes the Seersucker Ride; seriously, does anyone look good in seersucker? Dave Moulton notes that most drivers would give a stray dog more than three feet clearance, so why not a cyclist? The obvious answer is most people like dogs. A cyclist confesses to running red lights, carefully. Boulder CO police are looking for the speeding driver of a $110,000 Mercedes SUV who fled the scene after striking a cyclist in a bike lane. The Washington Post says sharing the road is a two-way street. Evidently, there’s a rash of narco-cyclists in Dallas; oddly, they lifted the photo from USC’s Daily Trojan. A Miami rider says a bus driver ran over him on purpose; the driver claims the cyclist intentionally collided with the bus. Truckers call a proposed new law that would require a four foot distance when passing a cyclist — five feet above 49 mph — “insanity.” Korea prepares a new mandatory bike registration plan to deal with the problem of abandoned bikes. Drivers going through bus and bike-only traffic lights are turning a Birmingham UK road into a ring of death.

Finally, this is pretty much the definition of a very lucky bicyclist.

Local bike cases slowly wind their way through the courts

Cyclist, attorney and court case correspondent Dj Wheels emailed today to catch us up on the current status of the all-too-many mostly bike-related cases winding their way through the local court system.

First up is the case of Patricia Izquieta, charged with the hit-and-run death of Don Murphy in Newport Beach last December.

Patricia A. Izquieta (Case #09HF2198) – Victim – Don Murphy

The Pretrial conference for April 16 was heard, but apparently the Preliminary Hearing which was scheduled for April 26 was cancelled and rescheduled. There is now a Pretrial conference scheduled for May 14 and the Preliminary Hearing for June 17.

She is charged with:

1) one felony count of hit and run with permanent and serious injury – CVC 20001(a)(b)(2)

2) a special allegation of inflicting great bodily harm, which is attached to the hit and run – Penal Code 12022.7(a)

3) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence – Penal Code 192(c)(2)

4) one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid driver’s license – CVC 12500(a)

Next up is Marco Antonio Valencia, the hit-and-run driver who was reportedly high on alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana when he killed Joseph Novotny and injured three others.

Marco Antonio Valencia (Case # PA065011) – Victim – Joe Novotny & 3 other injured cyclists

There were pretrial conferences heard on March 23 and April 8 at the San Fernando Courthouse. Another pretrial conference was scheduled for May 18.

1) one felony count of murder with malice aforethought (2nd degree) – PC 187(a)

2) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

3) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

4) one felony count of driving with a BAC over .08 causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(b)

5) four felony counts of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

6) one felony count of driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI – 14601.2

Robert Sam Sanchez is charged with the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas and seriously injuring his son Chris in Malibu during the L.A. Wheelmen’s Grand Tour last year.

Robert Sam Sanchez (Case # SA071910) – Victim – Rod Armas & Chris Armas injured

The Preliminary Setting conferences scheduled for March 11 and April 19 were both heard at the Malibu Courthouse. Another Preliminary Setting conference was scheduled for Friday May 7 at 1:30pm. What’s interesting is that the docket says, “VICTIMS WILL BE PRESENT TO MAKE STATEMENTS.” I called the DA’s office in Malibu to find out what this meant. Deputy McIlvain explained to me that May 7 is a Preliminary Setting Conference, and a disposition (plea bargain and sentencing) may be possible on that day. However, she is not allowed to disclose the terms of the offer for the plea at this point. If it is accepted, the case may reach a resolution that day, otherwise they’ll move forward with the Preliminary Setting conference to schedule a date for a Preliminary Hearing. I’m going to make my best effort to be there next Friday.

Charges are still the same as previously reported:

1) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

Celine Mahdavi is charged with the West Hollywood hit-and-run (notice a common theme here?) that seriously injured professional cyclist Louis “Birdman” Deliz.

Celine Mahdavi (Case #SA073459) – Victim – Louis Deliz

Preliminary Setting conferences were heard on March 22 and April 23 at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. A date of June 11 was scheduled for the Preliminary Hearing.

Charges:

1) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

2) one infraction count of a minor driving with a BAC over .01 – CVC 23136(a)

William Keith Square was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a still-unnamed cyclist in Carson earlier this month; at last report, authorities had not been able to locate the victim’s last address or next of kin.

William Keith Square (Case #TA11183201) – Victim – not named

On April 17, Square killed a cyclist in Carson with his car and left the scene. Luckily a witness wrote down his license plate # and Sheriffs arrested him at his home in Long Beach. The Inmate locater page says the arraignment is scheduled for May 5 at Compton Municipal Court. It also says that Mr. Square was arrested on April 18, assigned to permanent housing on April 24 at 4am, and then released from custody at 7:47 am. This is strange because usually it will also state the bail amount, but it doesn’t in this case. Bail for something like this should be something like $100,000, of which a bail bonds company usually asks for 10% to post bond for you.

Charges: (I haven’t seen the docket yet, but I’m assuming the charges are going to be these.)

1)one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

Former state legislator Walter Karabian faces charges for assaulting an unnamed parking lot attendant with his car during a USC football game last fall.

Walter Karabian (Case #0EA00275) – unnamed parking lot attendant near USC campus

The Pretrial conferences for March 24 and April 23 were heard. At the last hearing, Karabian’s defense attorney, Joseph Gutierrez, was granted a motion for sanctions against Classic Parking for failure to provide subpoenaed documents. Classic Parking is to pay the defendant $500. Another Pretrial conference is scheduled for May 13 at the East L.A. courthouse.

Finally, no charges yet in the death of Bahati Foundation cyclist Jorge Alvarado, who came to this country to fulfill his lifelong dream of riding professionally, only to be killed when 18-year old Patrick Roraff allegedly lost control of his car while street racing.

Patrick Roraff (Case #?) – Victim – Jorge Alvarado

This 18 yr old man killed Jorge Alvarado of the Bahati pro cycling team on April 8 while street racing on Greenspot Road out in San Bernardino. According to the SB County Court online case info page, charges have still not been filed against Roraff.

Hopefully, the local authorities know that the cycling communities of two countries are watching this case closely; the comments in Spanish from the people who knew him are truly heartbreaking.

Special thanks to Dj Wheels for his amazing work in keeping us on top of these cases; if anyone needs a good young lawyer who knows bicycling, let me know.

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In better news, the jury in the case of the New York Critical Mass-bashing cop returned a verdict of guilty for filing a false criminal complaint, but acquitted him of misdemeanor assault.

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A former Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in Wisconsin offers a first-person account of an intentional attack by a truck driver; unclear is whether he was attacked for his politics or because he was on a bike.

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LACBC encourages you to say thanks to your yes-voting council member. USC’s Neon Tommy takes a look at Bikeside, which endorses Winograd for Congress. Stephen Box celebrates a successful campaign to get safe bike parking at the new police headquarters; on the other hand, UCLA’s bike lockers could use some work. Carless Valley Girl debates whether to ride bespectacled; always cover your eyes with something says the man who’s seen bees bounce off his lenses, among other things. You might want to stay off the road while the mayor’s girlfriend is on it.Cyclelicious talks to the producer of the upcoming Major Taylor biopic. A Long Beach intersection gets a road diet, creating more space for diners, walkers and bike racks. Ciclovia comes to San Diego starting tomorrow.

The mindset of the female bike commuter, who rides faster and looks better than the boys do. Biking in Chattanooga — no relation — directs your attention to an exceptional biking artist. The Maryland Senate passes five bike-friendly bills, including a three-foot passing law. The cross-country travelling, penta-biking Pedouins are approaching Portland. A Fort Myers FL ministry donates bikes to the homeless. A kosher Crown Heights bike loan shop turns to sales. NPR offers songs for the urban cyclist.

More doping rumors for pro cyclist Alejandro Valverde. After yet another London cyclist is killed, Mayor Boris calls for more stringent testing of drivers. What to do when you’re riding in Scotland and your wheel falls off. A new British motorists’ guide urges cyclists to claim the lane, while a leading bike group says cyclists could hold the key to the upcoming election. A bike racing Canadian novelist comes to the defense of Lycra with rants tips for cyclists. A day after Lexus announced their high-concept bike, Volkswagen unveils a folding electric prototype.

Finally, Bike Portland discovers, as many of us do sooner or later, that middle fingers do not lead to productive dialogue; I like the advice someone else gave him, “The peace sign only takes one more finger.”

I think I’ll have that tattooed on the back of my hand so I see it when I ride.

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