Tag Archive for Doug Caldwell

A beautiful, moving remembrance of a fallen cyclist. And brother.

Almost one a year ago to the day, I received an email from a reader telling me that a friend of his had been killed riding his bike a few days earlier.

A link to a Facebook page brought confirmation that Doug Caldwell, a popular local cyclist and scientist, had been killed, and another man, Scott Evans, seriously injured.

The driver, Gordon Wray, was charged with the death, and acquitted. Even for the relatively light charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, it was a difficult case to prove.

In the flurry of angry comments that followed, I was surprised to see Stephen Caldwell jump into the fray to challenge those who claimed his brother’s death was nothing more than just an accident.

Afterwards, I offered him the use of this site if he ever wanted to tell his story, or simply remind us of the man Doug had been.

This past weekend, Stephen took me up on my offer — exactly one year after his brother was struck down on Foothill Blvd.


To My Brother

For a boy, a bike means freedom. With a bike he can ride to a friend’s house or explore new neighborhoods on the weekend. He doesn’t need his parents anymore to drive him to school. He can, if he wants, ride to the beach. Were he a surfer he could devise a means to carry his board.

I think of my own boyhood. Few were the consecutive days when I did not ride my bike. Indeed, I took it so much for granted that recently I tried to remember the bicycle I used from the 7th through the 11th grade. Though I can specifically remember the Centurion ProTour I purchased just before my 12th grade year – the year I started driving – I cannot remember the prior one. I think it may have been light blue. I think it was a Schwinn. But it was my freedom. And I often rode with my brother.

For an adolescent boy-becoming-man, a car means freedom. He can go to the same places he went on his bike, but now more quickly. He can take girls on dates. He can drive to work at night. If he persuades his parents, he can drive to a city he never could have reached on bicycle. Greater freedom and a larger world.

For the adolescent with car keys, the bike takes on new meaning. Now a bike becomes simply a means of exercise. Or a way to feel the wind in his hair. (We lived at a time when helmets were rarely worn.) Now it is not primarily a means of transportation, but of recreation.

For some at this stage, the bicycle recedes into the past. They take it out again when they have their own children, or perhaps when they are on vacation and pleased to enjoy a summer boardwalk in a carefree way. For others, bicycles rise to the racks atop their cars, now transportable to scenic roads away from the busy city. For a few, bicycles become symbols of something greater, of greener worlds and healthier humans.

As boys, the bicycle demonstrated the sort of men we might become. The steep hills were our crucible. At the base of the hill one had three choices:  push the bike up while walking beside it; zig zag up to decrease the effective grade; or dig deep into oneself and learn to dominate the hill by going up it straight.

For the first boy, the ride down is but a lazier extension of the walk up. It is remarkable only in that it might not have been at all, close as the boy was to simply turning around at the bottom to look for an altogether easier route. For the second boy, the ride at the end is a reward for his labor. The gravity he once resisted now serves for his relaxation. But the rest is short-lived. Another hill will come, ever a burden.

For the last boy, the ride down on the wings of gravity is like a hero’s flight on the wings of victory. He has triumphed. He does not dread the next hill but seeks it out. “I defy you,” he thinks. “Indeed, though you may be even steeper and longer, I shall learn to ascend you faster.”

In a way, the three boys so described are three types of men. One cruises along in society, often at the expense of others. Another makes his way, but with only enough energy to provide for himself and the small world of his affections. The third is the sort who leads. Metaphorically, he has the power and strength to ride a tandem up a hill even doing the greater share of the peddling. Indeed, he can push himself to great heights because he knows that life is like the hills he conquered in his youth.

As a man, he must drive his car to his place of work, the place where he rides metaphorical mountains straight up. As a man, he sometimes rides his bicycle to work, a bit of a boy still in him. He enjoys the exercise which stills his busy mind, his mind which at his place of work he exerts for developing concepts or equations and for leading others to do embrace a vision.  He enjoys the open road with nature to his side – at least as much as he can experience in the city. He feels the air on sides of his head, but not the top, for now he does wear a helmet.

He is free for one last time. Ironically, on this day he is riding up a slight hill without exertion.  He has many mountains yet to climb, in tandem or as vanguard, showing others the way.

He is a man for one last time. And then a driver, proving only a simple law of basic physics – that energy times mass equals force – lays that man, my brother, to rest beside the road.

Like that. It ends. And we are left groping for answers.

Douglas Caldwell, a lifelong cyclist, was an eagle scout, a nature photographer, and a UCLA Ph.D. He had spent many years advancing space exploration, but in recent years had shifted his focus to alternate energy development. On August 20th, 2010 he was riding to his new job at JPL where he would have led a program to develop smart grid technologies for a greener planet earth. A driver straying into the bike lane struck him down. Douglas died the following day. 

Manny Ramirez defense leads to acquittal for Gordon Wray; The Times’ Hector Tobar likes bikes

Evidently, killing a cyclist because you can’t see is nothing more than an accident.

Just say the sun got in your eyes, and walk away.

That’s what happened today, as Gordon Wray was acquitted on a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of Doug Caldwell.

A jury of his peers — though not necessarily the victim’s, since cyclists are usually excluded from bike case juries — took little more than an hour to agree that the prosecution’s case failed to meet the necessary burden of proof.

Never mind that most rational people would agree that the sudden, violent death of another human being should amount to more than just “oops.”

However, Wray’s attorney astutely played the Manny Ramirez defense, claiming the sun was in his client’s eyes at the time of the collision. And rather than pull over until he could see, proceeded to slam into two other people who had the misfortune of sharing the road with him.

At least when Manny used the excuse, he only lost the ball and allowed a few runs to score.

The crux of this case was CVC 22350, which reads:

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

Unfortunately, as cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels points out, the problem for the prosecution was determining just what speed was reasonable under the circumstances. They were forced to argue that if Wray was truly blinded by the sun, he should have slowed down to a speed that allowed him to see the two riders, even if that meant coming to a full stop.

The defense countered that Wray understood the risk posed by the sun shining in his eyes, and slowed down to 35 mph in a 50 mph zone as a result.

Except that still wasn’t good enough. And a well-loved man died as a result, while another suffered road rash so severe that he required plastic surgery to repair the damage.

Yet the jury’s reaction was to be expected.

Virtually every driver has found him or herself in that same position at least once. And when they put themselves in Wray’s position, they had to ask what they would have done under the same circumstances.

Which, given the verdict, should serve as a frightening warning to everyone else on the road.

If you want to look on the bright side, it was a victory for cyclists that this trial ever came to court. The case was never strong, and it shows just how seriously authorities took it that charges were ever filed in the first place.

But my heart breaks for Caldwell’s family, who had to watch the man responsible for his death walk away, knowing he’ll never be held accountable in criminal court.

Maybe they’ll have better luck in civil court, where the burden of proof is lower.

Although this acquittal won’t help.


Better news comes from the Orange County Transportation Authority in the form of OCLINK, which they describe as “an innovative and convenient pass that allows riders to hop on trains and buses throughout the county.”

According to their release, the OCLINK pass provides unlimited weekday transfers on a buses and Metrolink trains throughout Orange County for just $7 per person. As a result, OC cyclists can easily hop the bus or train to the riding destination of their choice — even if that happens to be in L.A. or Ventura County — then return home without breaking the bank.

For those of us a little further away, Metrolink is now offering an All-Weekend Pass for just $10 a person, allowing unlimited train rides from 7 pm Friday to midnight Sunday. And anywhere Metrolink travels throughout Orange, L.A., Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

Which means you can now take the train to one of those great far-flung riding routes you’ve only heard about, then ride the rails back home without breaking the bank.

The downside is, like the long-despised and recently revoked Metro policy, Metrolink allows only two bikes per passenger car. Although rumor has it they’re considering a prototype bike car that will accommodate up to 20 bikes, making future group tours by bike and train a more viable possibility.

Maybe we should encourage that idea.


LADOT Bike Blog has announced that the city’s long-awaited Bicyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance is finally ready for final approval, and should come before the full council sometime in the next two weeks.

The groundbreaking ordinance, the first of its kind anywhere in the U.S., would make harassment of a cyclist a civil matter, rather than criminal, allowing riders to take threatening drivers to court themselves. And it contains a provision for legal fees, making it worthwhile for lawyers to take cases that might not otherwise be financially viable for them.

Meanwhile, reader Alejandro Meruelo writes to remind us that L.A. Mayor — and my CicLAvia riding buddy — Antonio Villaraigosa has asked for suggestions on how to make L.A. more bike-friendly.

Meruelo suggests using the Ask the Mayor website to encourage hizzoner to inform law enforcement officers that CVC 21202 allows cyclists full use of the lane under many, if not most, circumstances. While every LAPD officer should be well versed on the subject thanks to the department’s bike training video, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little official support from the mayor’s office. And it could carry a lot of weight with other law enforcement agencies that aren’t nearly as enlightened.


The Times’ Hector Tobar talks with some of L.A.’s Ridazz, and decides that the city needs an attitude adjustment regarding bicyclists — concluding that we’re not only a part of the community, but have as much right to the roadway as anyone else.

And yes, that chill you felt was hell freezing over, as the Times has officially crossed over to our side.


Contrast that with this absurdly biased anti-bike lane piece from New York’s WCBS, which argues that city streets should accommodate the 90% in cars and buses, rather than making space for the 10% who ride bikes — even if those bike riders make more room for everyone else. And suggests the danger posed by theoretical bomb-laden bicyclists, who might conceivably use the new lanes to roll up in front of the Israeli consulate.

Because terrorists evidently aren’t brave enough to take the lane in New York traffic.


Bike friendly ad agency Colle+McVoy — the people behind my all-time favorite bike-to-work ad (scroll to the bottom) — has created a Facebook app to let the world know you’re out on your bike. Just download the app, and it will replace your profile photo with the Out Biking image when you ride.

Although I’m not sure I want my clients — or my wife — to know I’m out riding when I should be working.


Finally, thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding this photo from Jonathon Weiss, showing the new bike-friendly ads on the back of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Buses. I was pleasantly surprised to see that one myself the other day, but was a little too busy trying to survive the obstacles blocking the Ocean Ave bike lanes to grab a photo myself.

Evidently, Santa Monica drivers assume that if we can use their lanes, they can use ours.

Breaking news: Gordon Wray found Not Guilty in death of Doug Caldwell

A jury has found Gordon Wray Not Guilty of misdemeanor negligent homicide charges in the death of local cyclist and scientist Doug Caldwell last year.

The closing arguments ended around 1 pm today, and the jury announced they had a verdict less than an hour-and-a-half later.

More details later tonight.

Closing arguments in Wray trial, double pro racing tragedies, 3feet2pass survives GOP opposition

Catching up on the week’s news after far too much bad news this week.


Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning in the trial of Gordon Wray, charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide in the death of popular local cyclist and scientist Doug Coldwell. The trial resumes a 9:30 am in the San Fernando Courthouse.

If you’re in the area and have the morning free, the lawyers I’ve talked to tell me it can help to have a room full of cyclists to let the judge and jury know we’re watching.


California’s proposed three-foot passing law took another step forward when the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed it on a straight party-line vote; next up is a vote by the full Assembly in August.


This week’s tragic news has spread from the South Bay to the world of professional bicycling.

Oceanside cycling coach Mark Whitehead, a member of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic team and holder of 20 national titles, has died while attending the junior track national championships in Texas; no details have been released the cause of death. As a coach, Whitehead mentored multiple world champ Sarah Hammer and L.A.’s own 2008 national criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati, among others.

And rising Aussie professional Carly Hibberd was killed when she was hit by a car while training in Italy. She was riding with training partner Diego Tamayo of Columbia; Tamayo escaped injury, while Hibberd died at the scene. The 26-year old cyclist was just three months from her planned wedding.


Red Kite Prayer looks at the recent Gran Fondo Los Angeles and says it needs a little work; directions to the post-ride festival my wife and I tried to attend to but couldn’t find until too late would have been nice, too.

I’m told that that Mayor of Beverly Hills gave a grand speech welcoming cyclists to the city. If only he’d do something to make us welcome the other 364 days of the year.


The recently anti-bike New York Times seems to be shifting gears more often than a weekend warrior testing out a new derailleur. Their latest reports indicate women in New York prefer safety and fashion over cycle chic, while an Econ professor writing for their business blog explores the many benefits of the bicycle dividend:

Major improvements in bike infrastructure wouldn’t just make it easier to get to work. They would also create work, a high priority in our high-unemployment economy.

Construction of bike paths offers more job creation per infrastructure dollar than investment in roads. (For more details, see this recent study by my University of Massachusetts colleague Heidi Garrett-Peltier, who analyzed 58 projects in 11 cities, using an input-output model to measure employment impact).


In case you missed it dodging cars over the holiday weekend, there’s a little bike ride going on in France for the next three weeks. And unlike most years, where there’s not much reason to pay attention before the race hits the mountains, this year’s Tour de France has offered some damn good racing going on from the non-prologue start, and more drama than a demolition derby.

American Tyler Farrar celebrates the Fourth with a victory in Stage Three, and dedicates his win to fallen friend and former teammate Wouter Weylandt. Formerly clenbuterol-tainted defending champ Alberto Contador finally makes a charge, but falls just short as Cadel Evans narrowly takes Stage Four. Stage Five turned into a crash fest as Cavendish takes the win, and Contador drops further back after riding into a ditch and taking it out on his bike; world champion Thor Hushovd leads by 1 second over Evans. RadioShack rider Janez Brajkovic was forced to leave the Tour due to his injuries, while Quickstep’s Tom Boonen escaped serious injury and will continue to ride.

Red Kite Prayer says the race could be wide open this year. And Frank Schleck manages to hold third place despite swallowing a bug and getting stung in the mouth.


Mayor Villaraigosa orders L.A. agencies to work together to implement the city’s new bike plan, and asks for your input on how to make the city more bike-friendly. Joe Linton says the city is already falling short. L.A. lifeguards call a 4th of July SigAlert on the Santa Monica bike path. LADOT Bike Blog updates the status of the city’s bike lane projects, as well as the latest BPIT (Bike Plan Implementation Team) meeting; evidently, this one was a little less contentious and things actually got done. Will Campbell takes a time-lapse ride on the other side of the L.A. River. A cyclist fights for his right to take the lane in Culver City and loses. Claremont pulls the brakes on the Amgen Tour of California for next year, but would welcome it back in 2013. A day in the life of professional cyclist Cara Gillis. A Laguna Hills bike shop now offers roadside service for Orange County cyclists. Bay Area bike commuters are facing major traffic jams on the Golden Gate Bridge. JustAnotherCyclist lists his favorite cycling blogs, which includes your humble host in some very good company. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club says it’s time to look beyond oil to other solutions, including bikes; what, you thought he was going to call for expanding the 405 even further?

What if we treated motor vehicle deaths like any other preventable public health issue? Elly Blue concludes her groundbreaking series on Bikenomics by saying bicycling may not make us rich, but it creates a lot of well-being — and maybe that’s more important. Creating a circle of roadway courtesy. Recharge your iPhone while you ride. Steve Vance looks at the problem of construction detours that don’t consider or accommodate bikes, something that ticks me off on a regular basis. Yet another tragedy in New York, as the sister-in-law of famed attorney Alan Dershowitz is killed by a postal truck whose driver appeared to be unaware of the collision. CNN offers a positive look at the New York bike boom, but why does it always have to be framed as a battle between cyclists and drivers? Tennessee proposes a law requiring due care when passing a cyclist or pedestrian and eliminating the SMIDSY* defense, while Streetsblog offers a frontline perspective on the proposed law. A report from a Virginia TV station implies that cyclists don’t deserve protection on the streets because — OMG! — some of us break traffic laws just like drivers do; meanwhile, a fire truck strikes two riders in the same city without stopping. A cyclist’s guide to driving your bike safely; thanks to Dave Moulton for the link.

A university study says protein supplements may offer no benefit. London’s Guardian asks what’s the best way to stop an angry dog? A British driver walks free after killing a cyclist and claiming his sciatica caused it; a UK hit-and-run driver gets a suspended license and community service. This is what a bike theft looks like, while a teenager climbs three stories to steal a bike. Fighting poverty with bikes in sub-Saharan Africa. For the first time, Japanese police charge a cyclist with using a cell phone while riding.

Finally, advice for next weekend’s Carmegeddo, as a Chinese driver asks why sit stuck in traffic when there’s a nearby footbridge you can drive over?

*Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You

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 —






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.

LB shooting victim ID’d, Doug Caldwell killer goes to trial, Ventura’s Satnam Sing faces murder charge

Coroner’s officials identified the cyclist shot and killed in Long Beach on Tuesday night as 34–year old Pablo Ortiz. The shooting took place around 7:30 pm on the 2100 block of East 14th Street; anyone with information is asked to call the LBPD Homicide Detail at 562-570-7247.


Trial will begin next week in the case of Gordon Catlett Wray, the driver accused of killing local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell, and injuring fellow rider Scott Evans. Jury selection and opening arguments are both scheduled for Wednesday at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, case #0SR05313.

Reports are that both sides have stipulated to the cause of death — that is, that the victims were run over by Wray’s Camry — however, the fact that this is going to trial indicates that Wray’s attorney thinks he can get his client off. From what I’ve heard, they may claim that the sun was in his eyes, making it impossible to see the riders in front of him.

If you’ve got some free time next week, some cyclists sitting in the courtroom could help prevent any glare — or smokescreens — from blinding the jury.

Thanks to John Stesney for the reminder.


Dj Wheels sends notice of a little good news, if you can call it that, that I missed somehow last week.

The Ventura County Star reports that a murder charge has been added to the charges against Satnam Sigh, the driver who killed college student Nick Haverland and injured several other people in a series of allegedly drunken hit-and-run collisions in Ventura last month.

According to the Star:

Senior Deputy District Attorney Richard Simon said second degree murder requires proof that the defendant acted with conscious disregard for life, not intent to kill, Simon said.

Prosecutors determined Singh’s actions fit that definition based on the defendant’s high blood alcohol level, speed and the fact that he fled multiple crashes before the collision that killed Haverland, Simon said.

“All those told us that he knew what he was doing was dangerous, but he did it anyway,” Simon said.

In addition to second degree murder, Singh faces charges of felony drunk driving, felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor hit-and-run.

Needless to say, he’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.


Bikeside’s Alex Thompson offers an in-depth update on the Culver City collision case to include the good news that the driver could potentially face DUI charges after all. Hats off to everyone at Bikeside for taking the lead in covering this important case.

The Culver City Police Department has taken over the investigation, and officers are looking for any photos or video of the scene prior to intervention by police or fire officials, as well as testimony from independent witnesses (re: not cyclists or the driver). Anyone with information is urged to contact CCPD Officers Davis, Cisneros or Newman at 310/253-6254.

Word is that tonight’s Critical Mass may visit the crash site to protest the crash and initial police investigation; then again, knowing CM, it may not. But at any rate, the positive relationship with the LAPD should survive.

Meanwhile, a broad coalition of local cyclists and organizations have been working on an official response; look for a statement in the near future.


Two arrests have been made in the beating of cyclists participating in the mostly-clothed L.A. edition of the World Naked Bike Ride earlier this month.  Twenty-year old L.A. residents Carlos Rojas and Amanda Arellano were booked under $75,000 and $35,000 bonds, respectively. Two other male suspects are still being sought.


LACBC member John Morlock will be hosting a car wash from 9 am – 2 pm on Sunday, July 3rd at 316 W. Florence Ave in Inglewood to raise funds for Ride2Recovery, a nationwide program that helps wounded vets reclaim their lives through cycling. There will also be a taco truck onsite for those who want a great lunch — or don’t have cars and still want to contribute.

And I’m sure no one would object if you just want to stop by and make a contribution. Or if you walked next door to get a cobbler for dessert from one of the best restaurants in Southern California.

While this isn’t affiliated with LACBC, it’s a great cause and one I support 100%. So if you find yourself driving or riding anywhere near the area on the 3rd, stop by and tell John I sent you.

Maybe they’ll even wash your bike if you ask nice.


Miscellaneous pro cycling news:

Twenty-eight-year old Austrian ultracyclist Christoph Strasser wins this year’s RAAM. RadioShack’s Levi Leipheimer overcame a two-minute margin to win the Tour de Suisse by a razor thin 4 seconds. Pro cycling’s winningest team could lose its sponsorship and cease to exist in fallout over doping cases — despite taking the High Road.

The Claremont Cyclist profiles the groundbreaking Greg LeMond, who turns 50 this weekend, and has his name on my bike. Ex-fellow Tour de France winner Floyd Landis is represented by a high-powered team of made-up lawyers; frankly, he needs the best team of imaginary barristers money can buy.

The contest I mentioned here last week to send someone to work with Team Liquigas­–Cannondale at next month’s Tour de France has been won by Joe Praino of Arlington VA.

And former framebuilder extraordinaire Dave Moulton raises a very intriguing question — why has the rate of deaths for pro cyclists doubled since UCI required helmets for all racers?


A new street signal will finally be installed for the murderous North Hollywood intersection that took the life of 12-year old Emily Aleman and cycling hit-and-run victim Robert Painter. L.A. cyclists put together their own DIY bike destination map. Rick Risemberg says if this is the way they plan to build a bike boulevard, we’re better of the way things are. The latest BPIT meeting is compared to a tar ball, and not favorably. Changes are coming to Downtown L.A., with bike lanes planned for Fig, Flower, Spring and Main Downtown. A profile of bike, river and eco-activist Joe Linton. Actor Donald Sutherland hits a cyclist with his SUV in Santa Monica. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune says even though cyclists can be annoying, drivers should chill and let us live, and sentiment I share and for which I thank them. Sidi America will offer special deals at I. Martin Friday night; why do things like this always happen when I’m broke? Maybe because I usually am, no?

A group of South Bay cyclists say the proposed South Bay Bike Plan needs to include a real extension of the beach bike path through King Harbor. The family of Michael Nine, who was killed in a collision with a gardener’s truck in Newport Beach last year, files suit against just about everyone; as usual, be forewarned that ignorance abounds in the comments. A San Diego cyclist is buzzed by a patrol car, then written up for riding — apparently legally — in the traffic lane. The SF Chronicle says door zones, no; helmets yes. Cyclist’s riding the famed Golden Gate Bridge now face a 15 mph speed limit, with a 5 mph limit when passing peds; can a speed limit be legally enforced on vehicles that often lack speedometers? For a bike paradise, Marin County is pretty dangerous. Cyclists are urged to attend Monday’s State Assembly Transportation Committee hearing to support the proposed 3-foot passing law; word is the controversial 15 mph passing differential exemption has or will be removed.

Despite the negative headline, a car writer doesn’t seem to take a clear stand on whether an Interstate Bike Route System is a good thing or a bad thing; thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up. No surprise, it turns out the top cities for bike commuting are happier, too. A People For Bikes blogger narrowly averted tragedy at 15 by not getting a car. Green colored bike lanes are no longer considered experimental by the feds. A new study shows bike projects create more jobs than other transportation infrastructure. Sibling’s cross-country bike tour honors victims of drunk drivers. A man travels across country by bike to visit every major league ball park and ask for a job. Utah cyclists ride for respect and road courtesy. A Wyoming highway patrolman saves a cyclist towing two skateboarders from a drunk driver. Denver gets it’s first cycle track. A truly heartless hit-and-run driver hits and seriously injures an 11-year old, then gets out of her car to reclaim her hubcap before fleeing the scene. An 86-year old cyclist is killed in a time trial accident at the National Senior Games. Mystery art bikes return to Muskegon MI. A short, quick list on bike path etiquette; can’t say I disagree. The Wall Street Journal says New York’s bike wars are over and we won; even the Australian press say peace could be at hand — for New Yorkers, not for Aussies. Is Janette Sadik-Khan’s predecessor trying to sabotage her work? Evidently, it’s perfectly legal to run over a cyclist a second time — after she had already hit the rider once and gotten out of her car to check on her — in Mississippi. This is why you don’t run your dog next to your bike, especially on hot days.

A pro mountain biker is identified as one of the Vancouver hockey rioters — but not the one making out in the famous photo. Toronto officials waste no time in getting rid of popular bike lanes. Apparently, London’s transportation agency counts cyclists as just one-fifth of a car. Britain’s Conservatives go on record as opposing efforts to give walking and cycling priority in road projects. A lovely ride through London town; link courtesy of Bike Commute News. How to prepare your body and your bike for more riding. It’s amazing what you can do with a little tin foil, oil and a lot of patience. A Copenhagen cyclist is killed when a car being chased by police goes off the road at 112 mph. Advanced advice on wheel truing from Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs.

Finally, a big congratulations to the man who’s bringing bike culture to the hill country of North Carolina, as Zeke has been named a Haywood County Hometown Hero (scroll to page A10). And a NY cyclist says cyclists are people too, so ride responsibly and don’t be a tool, while the Onion offers their own unique take on bike safety.

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.

Details on the August death of cyclist and scientist Doug Caldwell; driver walks with no ticket or charges

For months, it’s been one of the mysteries of L.A. cycling.

Late last August, word slowly broke that a popular cyclist and leading scientist had been killed while riding to work, and his companion injured.

Then nothing.

No news coverage. No additional information. Not one single mention in the local media. And nothing about what happened, or why.

For weeks afterwards, Google’s seemingly infinite well of information came up dry, returning only the story I’d written myself. Had it not been for a brief Facebook comment from the man who’d been riding with him, I might have questioned whether it actually happened.

However, I received confirmation from a number of sources, publicly and privately, that the information I’d reported was true. I held back one piece of information I’d received privately, though; I was told that Caldwell was married to KCRW host Chery Glaser, but because the family had not come forward, I left that out to respect their privacy.

Since then, people have come to my site almost every day looking for more information about what happened, and every few weeks I’d get an email asking for details.

And every time, I’d have to send my apologies, because I didn’t know any more than I did before.

Last weekend, though, I received an email from LAPD Sgt. David Krumer, who’d been asked to look into the matter by Colin Bogart, LACBC PLACE Grant Coordinator in the City of Glendale; evidently, he’d been getting the same requests for information that I had.

And after answering them, he forwarded the information to me, as well.

The driver of the vehicle was traveling eastbound on Foothill Blvd at approx 7:10 a.m. on 08/20/2010  He rear-ended Doug and another cyclist.  It appears he was going the speed limit but too fast for given conditions.  The driver indicated that he had the sun in his eyes and did not see the cyclists.  If glare was an issue then even if he was going the speed limit he was traveling at an unsafe speed and therefore he was in violation of 22350 VC (Basic Speed Law).  The driver was not cited because we can not write a ticket for a violation we did not observe.  The driver was not arrested as there was no evidence that a crime occurred.  Doug died the following day from massive head trauma.  The other cyclist had scrapes and abrasions with the most serious injury being the loss of some front teeth.

Right there, amid the dry details of the tragedy, you’ll find one of the biggest problems cyclists face on our streets.

There’s no shortage of laws already in place to protect us on the roads. But most are unenforceable unless a police officer actually witnesses the infraction. And while they can clearly conclude after the fact what violations occurred, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it unless the infraction rises to the level of a crime.

Sgt. Krumer goes on to note that the collision occurred on a clear day, and the riders were properly positioned in the right-hand lane. And while the driver failed to see two adult cyclists, he had not been drinking and wasn’t using a cell phone at the time of the collision.

And yes, they verified that.

And while it’s commonly assumed that a driver who hits someone else from behind is almost always at fault, that refers to civil liability, rather than criminal culpability. So even though the family may have a wrongful death case, the driver won’t face any criminal action.

It seems beyond comprehension that someone can continue driving — without slowing down — despite being unable to see what’s directly in front of him. And as a result, kill one cyclist and injure another, yet face no criminal charges. Or even a traffic ticket.

But that’s the way our laws are written.

And that’s something that has to change.


In another horrible tragedy, seven cyclists were killed in Southern Italy on Sunday — early reports indicated eight deaths — when a driver hit the riders head-on as he was attempting to pass another vehicle.

Reports indicate that the driver was speeding; he also tested positive for marijuana and had been banned from driving just seven months earlier. Two additional riders were injured, one very seriously, as well as the 21-year old driver and his 8-year old nephew, who was also in the car (earlier reports indicated the injured passenger was the driver’s 10-year old son, which seemed unlikely given the age of both).

Road.cc quoted the one of the paramedics on the scene:

“What we found on our arrival this morning was a terrible scene. Indescribable,” said Silvio Rocco, one of the first paramedics on the scene. “Not even a bomb could have caused something like this.”

He continued: “We were had been alerted about an incident in which, according to initial reports, only one cyclist was involved. Arriving on the scene, however, we saw that we were dealing with a massacre. They were all people whom we knew personally, so the blow was even more distressing. We alerted other emergency staff and the helicopter. It’s something that is truly disturbing.”

Meanwhile, two brothers were killed Sunday in Britain’s Cumbria region when their bikes were run down from behind by a bus, on what is considered the most dangerous road in the country.

And a North Carolina woman remembers her late husband, killed while bicycling last October, by endowing a chair in his honor at the local symphony.


The Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path is now open; Will suggests that we should all cooperate in not being an impediment to other peoples enjoyment on shared-use bike paths, while Bicycle Fixation points out the plusses and minuses of bike paths along the water.


Fourth Street gets sharrows from Hoover to Cochran, while York Blvd gets new bike lanes from Eagle Rock to Highland Park. The UCLA Bicycle Academy revives to stir campus bike advocacy; next meeting is July 7th. Altadenablog looks at the kickoff of Saturday’s Tour of Altadena. Turning your trainer into an Epic Ride. Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles hosts Red Bull Pro Rebecca Rusch, the Queen of Endurance Cycling, on Wednesday the 8th at 7 pm. The Inland Empire Women Cyclists will hold a toy ride on Sunday, December 12th. A writer says a planned tunnel to complete a key Marin County bike route makes sense, just not right now.

Cycle chic circa 1945; raise your right hand, and repeat the Cycle Chic Manifesto. The Alliance for Biking & Walking opens nominations for their 2011 Advocacy Awards. People for Bikes says it’s time to make biking contagious, too. Learning to ride just below the sweat threshold. Evidently, human beings just look better on a bike. A planned Mississippi River Bike Route could take riders from the Minnesota headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico. Bike riders must rank below dogs in the moral zeitgeist. An OpEd in the Daily News says New Yorkers should learn to love their bike lanes, but the paper editorializes that NYDOT commissioner Janette Sadik Khan needs to back up bike lanes with facts; what, a 40% reduction in serious injuries and death isn’t good enough for them? In a classic example of government in action, a Boston neighborhood paints — then removes — bike lanes. Thanks to the efforts of local businesses, a sheriff’s supervisor and inmates at a county work farm, a six-year old girl with cerebral palsy will get a custom-made bike for Christmas.

Peter Gabriel rides a bike. How to stay safe on winter rides. Copenhagenize lists the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities based on usage; the only American city on the list is Davis, CA. Bike lane snow removal in Copenhagen. Auckland cyclists say they’re in an undeclared war, as a motorist is charged with careless driving in the deaths of three cyclists last month, and a widowed husband says the driver is a victim, too. A 19-year old Indian woman was killed for not bringing a bicycle as her dowry.

Finally, just a slight boo boo in London, as someone forgot to order the track for the 2012 Olympic velodrome. And a Tennessee PSA says you better be pimpin’ with that helmet on tight.

No really, I think they’re serious.

Leading local scientist and investor killed Friday morning while riding to JPL

I received an email last night from a reader named John, saying that a friend of his had been killed by a speeding motorist while riding his bike in the greater L.A. area, and that another rider had been hospitalized.

So far, there’s been no official confirmation of the report, either from the authorities or in the media. However, Brent pointed out in a comment that Scott Evans wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Thanks everyone for your well wishes! For those who haven’t heard, on Friday morning my buddy Doug Caldwell and I were hit by a car while we were riding our bikes to work at JPL. Unfortunately, Doug did not survive. I was very lucky and only ended up with a 48 hour stay in the hospital and some broken teeth.

As of now, I have no other details about the collision or where it occurred, other than that the driver stayed at the scene; however, unconfirmed reports indicate that Caldwell was taken off life support over the weekend.

Brent also pointed to a LinkedIn profile that appears to be the same Doug Caldwell, listing him as an investor in Pasadena Angeles, a Chief Architect in Renewable Energy Solutions at Boeing, and a principal at Angeles Energy, as well as a former lecturer in Applied Physics at CalTech and a Project Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Other sites seem to confirm that, including a Facebook posting that referred to his death on Saturday — which has since disappeared — and identified him as a co-founder of Ecliptic Enterprises.

In light of today’s Calabasas collision on Mulholland Hwy, in which a car driven by an 81-year old woman caused major injuries to three riders, many people are questioning the ease of getting — and keeping — a drivers license; as Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbuilt put it, a license is too easy to get and too hard to lose.

As John put it in his email,

I’ve read enough news accounts (and your blog as well) to know how it’s going to go. People will say it was an “accident,” when really it’s an artifact of our society’s treatment of driving as a birthright. We hand out drivers’ licenses like banks used to hand out credit cards, and we never seem to take them back.

Let’s remember that we still don’t know the details of either incident, and no one has yet been ticketed or charged in the Calabasas collision — even though it’s easy to infer what probably happened in Calabasas.

But as a society, we have to do something to regain the long-forgotten sense that cars are dangerous machines that must be operated with extreme care, rather than the casual carelessness far too many drivers adopt behind the wheel.

And that there are some people who simply shouldn’t drive, because of declining capabilities.

Or their own actions on the road.

My condolences to the family and friends of Doug Caldwell, and best wishes to Scott Evans for a fast and full recovery.

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