Tag Archive for fallen cyclists

Popular bikeway to remain open this weekend, scholarship fund for fallen cyclist, and your Morning Links

Pete van Nuys, Executive Director of the Orange County Bicycle Coalition, sends word that the popular Pacific Coast Bike Route will remain open this weekend, despite the scheduled Ironman race.

After months of emails and the threat of lawsuit, organizers of the Ironman 70.3 race through Camp Pendleton have agreed to assign volunteer course marshals at the south end of San Clemente to permit regular bicycle traffic between that city and Oceanside.

In recent years Caltrans in San Diego has been issuing permits to the event which has become increasingly possessive of the only connection between Orange and San Diego Counties for 100 miles.

Those permits violate Streets and Highways Code 888, intended to assure citizens that when Caltrans builds a freeway it will not sever connections for non-motorized travelers.

The I-5 freeway alternate is the popular Old Hwy 101 to Las Pulgas, through a portion of the Marine base. When the Marines close it for maneuvers Caltrans routinely opens the shoulders of I-5 for bicyclists. But the race permit even closed those shoulders, stranding bicyclists in Oceanside and San Clemente for up to 5 hours. With little or no notice riders from LA County usually had no choice but to turn around.

Thanks to the hard work of Seth Cutter, Bicycle Coordinator for Caltrans San Diego, the agency convinced Ironman to do what most bike race organizers do: use course marshals to cross civilian bikes and peds. Caltrans is posting signs alerting motorists to bicycle presence. And anyone riding to San Diego’s Bikes & Beers event should find the route open fast along I-5′s shoulders all the way to Oceanside.

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Australian cyclist James Rapley lost his like while biking in LA.

Australian cyclist James Rapley lost his like while biking in Los Angeles.

A memorial website and scholarship fund have been set up in honor of Australian cyclist James Rapley, killed while riding on Temescal Canyon last December.

If you want to grasp just an inkling of the love a parent has for his son — and the enormity of that loss — take a moment to read that page and browse through the website.

As you may recall, Rapley was on an extended layover at LAX on his way home from his new job in Chicago to join his family back in Seymour, a small country town in Victoria. So early in the morning of December 22nd — the last Sunday before Christmas — he rented a bike and took off to explore the beachfront bike path from LAX to the Palisades.

It must have seemed magical to ride along the nearly deserted beach at that early hour. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning myself.

For some reason, he made a detour onto Temescal Canyon; maybe he wanted the challenge of the steep uphill after the easy ride along the coast. I often do the same, even though it’s not a comfortable bike lane, as drivers frequently go too fast around the sweeping curves, and cut into the bike lane regardless of whether anyone is in it.

In other words, what followed could have happened to me. Or to any of us.

As Rapley rode in the bike lane, doing absolutely nothing wrong, he was struck from behind by an allegedly drunk, and possibly texting, 19-year old driver. He died there on the side of the road; I can only imagine his final thoughts, 8,000 miles from home and the loved ones who were eagerly awaiting him.

I’m told his family has dug deep to fund the scholarship, to be given to a rural student studying engineering or science at Melbourne University, as Rapley had done. But it will take a lot more money to make the scholarship a success, and honor a good and cringe man who should still be with us.

I’d love to see some significant donations come from here in LA. It’s the last place he ever saw, and we owe him and his family a debt we can never repay.

My wallet is pretty anorexic right now, but I’m going to do my best to send a little something their way. I think we owe him that.

Meanwhile, I’ve started making inquiries about how we can convert the bike lane he was riding in into the state’s first parking protected bike lane. It will take a change in state law, which currently requires cars to be parked within 18 inches of a curb.

But this is an ideal location for it, with no cross streets from PCH to Palisades High School, roughly 3/4 of a mile up the hill. And it would, for large portions of the day, help eliminate the risk riders currently face from aggressive and distracted drivers with little respect for a line a paint.

Because the best way we can honor James Rapley is to ensure it never happens to anyone again.

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This sort of things always pisses me off.

A friend of mine reports she was assaulted while riding in Huntington Beach over the weekend when a group of idiots in a passing car threw a cup of ice at her, hitting her on the ass.

The good news is, she was able to maintain control of her bike and avoid a potentially dangerous fall, making it nothing more than a major annoyance. The bad news is, she wasn’t able to get a license number or good description of the car, so the jerks remain free to do it again to someone else.

For anyone unclear on the subject, throwing anything at a bike rider runs the risk that they might lose control and fall, or swerve into traffic or parked cars in an attempt to get away. The result can be serious injury, whether or not that was the intent of the attacker.

And it takes a real jackass to attack a woman riding alone after dark.

Then again, harassment isn’t reserved just for women riders.

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Local

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton calls for a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths in the City of Angels. Now will our new mayor or council members step up to answer the call?

Metro’s Bike Week website is up. If you want to find me that Tuesday, I’ll be at the blessing of the bicycles.

LADOT Bike Blog looks at the problem of dooring. but let’s not forget that drivers are almost always at fault for dooring, since they’re required ensure that it’s reasonably safe and doesn’t interfere with other traffic before opening their door. And then, only as long as necessary.

A hero cyclist helps a Santa Monica woman recover her phone from a thief.

There are things you see while bicycling that should be seen by more.

 

State

California considers language that could bar bikes from most off-road trails.

Temecula could vote to support Federal legislation to create long-term, low interest loans to build biking and walking networks.

A close encounter of the potentially stinky kind.

A $9.4 million temporary bike path on the Bay Bridge will be torn down to be replaced with a permanent structure.

 

National

People for Bikes debunks the myths non-riders too often use against us; the answer for “Bicyclists think they own the road” could have been a lot better, though.

Bicycling says you may be getting too much sugar.

Evidently, life is cheap in Ohio, as a doctor gets a whopping 15 days in jail for seriously injuring a cyclist while driving drunk. Why should drivers take drunk driving laws seriously when the courts don’t?

A Louisiana schmuck driver faces charges for running over a four-year old bike rider while fleeing from police; the child suffered moderate to severe injuries.

 

International

The UK renews a campaign calling for cyclists and motorists to “Think! Cyclist” after a successful campaign that may not have changed anyone’s behavior.

Turns out Dickens — yes, that Dickens — supported safe and courteous cycling.

Customers of a Yorkshire paperboy pitch in to buy him a new bike when his is stolen while he was delivering his route.

An Aussie blog asks — and answers — what is a cyclist? My answer is a lot simpler; you’re a cyclist whenever you’re on or with your bike, just as you’re a motorist when you’re driving your car.

 

Finally…

Everyone needs a leather banana holder for their bike, right?

 

Guest Column: Bikes Have Rights™*

Today marks the second edition of the new guest column by LA bike lawyer Jim Pocrass. 

Yes, this is a sponsored placement. But he once again offers good advice — this time on how to help if you should come upon a downed rider.

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Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

When You See A Cyclist Down

By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Someone in my office came to me recently to tell me that as she was driving home she saw a bike accident. The car that had hit, presumably, the cyclist was parked nearby. There were a few people helping the cyclist, who sat in the middle of the road. She could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles that were on their way.

She said that though she wanted to stop to help, she felt that since there were people at the scene already, it wouldn’t be useful. So she didn’t stop. She asked me if I thought she should’ve stopped.

Upon thinking about the question, I told her I thought she should have. Because we work with so many cyclists who have been in bike accidents, we know what information the cyclist needs if they want to pursue a legal case.

In the immediate aftermath of a bike accident, even the most knowledgeable cyclist is probably shaken and stunned. If the cyclist has suffered serious personal injuries, they may be incapable of collecting the necessary information.

Also, there is no guarantee that the people who stop really know what information the cyclist – or the cyclist’s family – is going to need for legal action. More than likely, the people assisting the fallen cyclist are most concerned, understandably and rightfully, with the cyclist’s injuries.

If you see a cyclist down, of course the first thing to do is to call the police and to get the cyclist emergency medical assistance. If that is being done by others, you can best assist the fallen cyclist by writing down the following information:

  • Time & Place: Notate the time the accident happened as well as the location. You want to include approximate address, the nearest cross street(s), and the city.
  • Vehicle Information: Most importantly, get the license plate number and state. Note: if the cyclist was hit by a truck, you need to get the license plate number of both the cab and the trailer. They may be different. Write down the make, model, year, and color of the vehicle that hit the cyclist.
  • Driver Info: Get the driver’s name, phone, address, email, and driver’s license number (and state). Get the driver’s insurance information, including company and policy number.
  • Witness Info: Get the name, address, phone, and email of any witnesses (including any passengers in the vehicle).
  • Photos: One of the most helpful things you could do for the cyclist is to take pictures with your phone. You want pictures of the bicycle and of the car (multiple views and as close as possible). Then take multiple pictures of the scene of the accident, from numerous angles, as it relates to street signs, lights, corners, and curbs.

Once you have collected this information, write down your contact information, with a brief note that you have witness information and photos, and give it to the fallen cyclist, tuck it into the cyclist’s pocket, or give it to a paramedic to put with the cyclist’s possessions.

The worse the cyclist’s injuries are, the more important this information will be to the cyclist or to the cyclist’s family.

BikeCrashReportBACK r1 (2)You don’t need our help to do this, but we did create a free, wallet-sized guide to carry with you should you have a collision or should you see a fallen cyclist. You can either download a version of it here, or send us an email and include your mailing address and we’ll mail you a hard copy of the guide.

A very experienced cyclist, whose case we are handling, told us that he had one of our guides in his wallet when he had his bike accident, and he was so shaken he never thought about using it.

So let’s help each other and gather the information necessary to strengthen each fallen cyclist’s legal case. If people will not be careful around cyclists because it’s the right and legal thing to do, maybe they will change their behavior when they feel the sting from their pocketbooks.

*California Vehicle Code 21200: A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. . .
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For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.  For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.
 

Santa Clarita to honor fallen cyclist with silent ride

novotny-2Every cycling death is tragic. And unnecessary.

And this year, there have been far too many around here.

Whether it’s a father taking his son on a grand adventure. A local handyman who took up riding after losing part of his vision in an accident. A day laborer from Sonora, Mexico, who rode everywhere. A woman police blame for causing her own death by riding the wrong way on the sidewalk. Or a man in Orange County just trying to get home from work.

And then there’s Joseph Novotny.

Like Rod Armas and Jesus Castillo, he was killed by an accused drunk driver who fled the scene — a driver who had already been arrested multiple times, despite being too young to legally drink.

And it was preventable.

His killer was driving with a suspended license, and passing motorists had already reported him to the authorities. But despite their best efforts, sheriff’s deputies arrived just moments after he’d plowed his truck into a group of oncoming cyclists riding on the opposite shoulder of the road, and continued down the road.

Four cyclists were injured, two seriously. And Novotny was killed.

It could have been anyone of us.

Adding to the tragedy, he was on one of his first rides with the Santa Clarita Velo Club, having just moved to the area with his wife. Now she, and all those who knew and loved him, have to find a way to go on without him.

Next Saturday, October 3rd, the City of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Velo Club are sponsoring a Memorial Ride of Silence in memory of Robert Novotny, and other cyclists who have been killed on the roads.

I’ll let Jeff Wilson explain:

Los Angeles cyclists and Biking in LA readers, we could use your help!

On July 11, 2009, 43 year old cyclist Joseph Novotny was struck and killed by an underaged drunk driver while riding his bike in the Bouquet Canyon area of Santa Clarita.

On October 3, Santa Clarita cyclists will ride silently in memory of Joe Novotny and all other cyclists who have been killed while riding. Please consider joining us to raise awareness of bicyclists and our right to use roads.

The 12 mile ride begins at 8am in Santa Clarita. A Sheriff’s escort will be provided as we ride into Newhall, then Stevenson Ranch, and finally back to Valencia. Most of the route is flat; other parts are somewhat hilly (but brief). Cyclists are asked to ride in silence and at around 12mph.

From Los Angeles, Santa Clarita is just minutes north of the San Fernando Valley. Take Interstate 5 north and exit at Valencia Blvd. Proceed east on Valencia until you reach Citrus Avenue. Turn left on Citrus Avenue. Free parking is available.

Unfortunately, while Metrolink service is available to Santa Clarita, the earliest northbound train will arrive after the ride has started.

I know it’s short notice, and you may have other commitments already. But if you’re planning to ride next weekend, I can’t think of a better place to do it.

Or a better reason.

And please, be careful out there this weekend. I want to see you all back here on Monday.

For more information, contact IreneTJohnson@yahoo.com, or click here to visit the Facebook page.

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Submitted for your approval: LADOT has finally released the full draft bicycle plan and scheduled dates and locations for public comment; Bike Girl calls the deadline for comments “infeasible,” while Dr. Alex notes that it excludes input from Neighborhood Councils. Pasadena has a meeting scheduled to discuss its new Bicycle Master Plan. Mark your calendar for the Festival of Rights to protest the illegal exclusion of bikes from the DWP’s annual Holiday Light Festival. We could have had bike lanes on Topanga Boulevard by now, no thanks to the Department of Currently Unfeasible, aka LADOT. L.A.’s leading bike wonk makes the case for making the case for active transportation. The only thing missing from Santa Monica’s new green maintenance facility is bike racks. Long Beach’s cycling expats offer a report from the road. An Arizona cyclist was killed riding with a group of other cyclists; he leaves behind a wife and three children, including a newborn. Evidently, cars really do make Americans fat. Proof there’s more than one way to park a bike. I don’t know what’s worse — that they put up speed bumps in a cemetery without warning cyclists, or that a few rude cyclists made it necessary. San Francisco police take a report of harassing a cyclist seriously. Finally, your word for the day is Traumadinejad.

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