Tag Archive for Finish the Ride

Finish the Ride results in a large check, a 9% drop in hit-and-run — and your chance to help take up the fight

Over a year later, Damian Kevitt finishes the ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Over a year later, Damian Kevitt finishes the ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

I got to meet one of my heroes last week.

Okay, two.

I was at the LACBC Board of Directors meeting Wednesday night when someone stepped up behind me and said he wanted to introduce himself.

I turned to see a tall man with a huge smile and a face I knew from countless news stories. A quick, almost involuntary glance down revealed an artificial leg he made no attempt to hide, and suddenly no introduction was necessary.

For reasons I will never understand, Damien Kevitt wanted to shake my hand.

I think he had that backwards.

I’ve been wanting to shake his ever since he fought his way back from one of the most horrific hit-and-run collisions I’ve ever heard of. Just surviving what he went through took more courage than most of us will ever need in our lifetimes.

And that was long before his amazing Finish the Ride campaign made him the public face of the fight against motorists who run away like the cowards they are, rather than stopping to take responsibility for their actions.

Under similar circumstances, most people would be happy just to survive. Let alone display the determination to get back on his bike as quickly as possible, despite the loss of a leg.

And even more to start a movement dedicated to justice, if not for himself, then for others victims of hit-and-run.

……..

Crowds at start of Finish the Ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Crowds at start of Finish the Ride; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

It was a little later, after he had made a presentation to the board, that I gave a hug to another hero of mine.

Kevitt was accompanied by a woman who turned out to be one of the most awe-inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

His mother, Michele Kevitt Kirkland.

Her name popped up from the very beginning in news stories about his collision. And virtually every story after that as she spoke for — and fought for — her son until he was able to do it for himself.

I have no doubt that it was her will and determination, as much as the skill of his medical team, that helped bring Kevitt through the first few days when his survival was in doubt.

Let alone every seemingly impossible step that followed.

……..

Congressman Adam Shiff addresses the crowd; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Congressman Adam Shiff addresses the crowd; photo courtesy of Finish the Ride.

Kevitt was at the board meeting because he had named the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition as one of the beneficiaries of the event, along with the Challenged Athletes Foundation — in the unlikely event there were any profits to benefit from — and the coalition provided the organizational support necessary to pull it off.

At the last minute, though, sponsors started pouring in, from local bike shops to a major car dealership, as well as BikinginLA sponsor Pocrass & De Los Reyes. And news started spreading, not just here in LA, but across the US and around the world.

In the end, the turnout far surpassed anyone’s expectations. And the ride not only broke even, it resulted in one of the largest private donations the LACBC has ever received.

  • Over 700 participants
  • Five elected officials both speaking and riding, including a US Congressman
  • Over 16 media outlets represented
  • 26 festival booths
  • 22 entertainers performing for the crowd
  • $25,000 raised for the LACBC and the CAF

But the biggest success may have come as a surprise to everyone.

According to LAPD Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, after rising steadily for years, the rate of hit-and-runs in Los Angeles has declined 9% since the first of the year.

A drop he attributed in large part to the publicity Finish the Ride received, and the message of responsibility behind it.

Which goes to show that the battle to stop drivers from fleeing may actually be winnable after all.

……..

From left: Jennifer Klausner, Damian Kevitt, JJ Hoffman, Michele Kevitt Kirkland and Alex Amerri

From left: Jennifer Klausner, Damian Kevitt, JJ Hoffman, Michele Kevitt Kirkland and Alex Amerri.

After a victory like that, anyone else would sit back and relax. Or maybe start thinking about next year’s ride.

Clearly, Damian Kevitt is not like anyone else I’ve ever met.

He not only credits everyone else with the success of Finish the Ride, he’s taking the fight to the next level.

Tomorrow night he’s hosting the first Hit and Run Summit — Gathering of the Minds at a church in Hollywood. And inviting you, and everyone else committed to doing something about this deadly, life-shattering epidemic, to attend.

Join us Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 7:00pm for the first “Hit and Run Summit – Gathering of the minds.”

Gather your voices and be part of something that will help change the streets of Los Angels in a positive light for young and old alike.

Join in on a united mission to make Los Angeles County a healthy, safer, and fun place to walk, run, and ride bicycles.

Come and network with a diverse community of people that believes in advocacy, education, and community building over dinner.

Please share this with anyone that could possibly benefit from this event. We will be providing useful contact information for various groups, and organizations for volunteer and/or assistance purposes.

Schools, mothers, clubs, and non-profit organizations are highly encouraged to attend and participate.

Address:
Hollywood Lutheran Church, Rear Gallery
1733 North New Hampshire, Hollywood, CA 90027
 
Time:
7:00PM Summit Opens, 7:20 Summit Starts, 7:50PM Dinner Served
 

*Keynote speakers will include experts in the following areas.

  • CREATING SOLUTIONS TO MAKE LA STREETS SAFER FOR EVERYONE
  • CAMPAIGNING ON HANDLING HIT AND RUN
  • CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAW AND HIT AND RUN
  • CURRENT AND FUTURE LEGISLATIONS REGARDING HIT AND RUN
  • STATISTICS AND FACTS OF HIT AND RUN
“Safer roads in LA County for everyone!”

I’m not making many commitments these days as I work to get my own health back under control. But I plan to attend even if I have to drag myself there.

And I hope you’ll be there, as well.

 

Morning Links: An inspiring and horrifying interview, outrageous bike news, and send a guy on Climate Ride.

Send this boy to camp. Or rather, Climate Ride.

Send this boy to camp. Or rather, Climate Ride.

Lots of news to catch up on before the weekend. So let’s jump right in.

……..

Sweet Ride USA’s Steve Isaacs offers an amazing, horrifying and ultimately inspiring interview with hit-and-run survivor Damian Kevitt in advance of Sunday’s Finish the Ride. Choose between the short 4:15 minute version and the full 16 minute one.

Unfortunately, it looks like illness is going to keep me from attending on Sunday, despite my best intentions. So if you’re planning to attend and would like to share your thoughts or photos, let me know.

……..

Here’s an intriguing invitation.

Inventor Eric F. has come up with what he describes as a “revolutionary bicycle safety device (US and international patent pending) that will save lives and visibly change the urban landscape.”

He’s looking for volunteers to participate in a focus group at Helen’s Cycles’ Santa Monica location, 2501 Broadway, on Monday, May 5th from 7 – 8 pm.

You can start your Cinco de Mayo celebration a little later. And it’s a good chance to check out the new green bike lanes in front of the shop.

Just watch out for drunks on your ride home.

……..

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition’s Team LACBC on exceeding their fundraising goal for this year’s California Climate Ride.

But several of the team members are still short of the money they need to raise to participate in the ride.

I can personally vouch for everyone on the list, all of whom deserve to go on the bike adventure of a lifetime. And each of whom deserves your support for all they do to support your right to ride safely and enjoyably in the City and County of Angels.

In fact, I have never known a more committed and hardworking group of staff and volunteers, and as a board member for the past five years, I’m honored for the small part I play in supporting their work. Which is something I don’t say nearly enough.

But I’d like to call your attention to just one of those potential riders, and ask you to help him get from the California Wine Country to Sacramento next month.

Alex Amerri, President of the LACBC Board of Directors, has done an incredible job of guiding the organization through some turbulent times — often at the expense of his own career and personal life.

I’ve watched as he’s often put in more than full-time work in an unpaid, volunteer position. When he leaves the board — which hopefully won’t be anytime soon — he’ll leave the LACBC a far stronger, more stable and successful organization than he found it, positioned for even greater growth and influence in the years to come.

And you can’t ask any more than that of anyone.

However, the time he’s put in solving problems and creating opportunities for the coalition lately has meant he hasn’t had time to raise the funds he needs to participate in the Climate Ride. In fact, he’s less than a third of the way to his $3,500 goal.

So let’s send a boy to camp.

Or rather, a man to ride.

If you’ve got a little extra money laying around, make a donation to a good cause to support sustainability and improve our environment. And do it in the name of someone who truly deserves a few uninterrupted days on his bike.

And if not Alex, then help one of the other team members who do so much to help you.

Note: Alex has no idea I’m writing this. So let’s not tell him. Just let him be surprised when the donations start coming in, with no idea where they’re coming from or why.

……..

Prepare to be outraged.

It’s not unusual to find a story or two that makes a mockery of justice, and reminds us all that cyclists are still second-class citizens on our streets.

But today’s news carried three examples of just how far we have to go. And how self-centered, heartless and cruel some people can be.

First up, a Massachusetts woman is convicted of a reduced charge in a fatal hit-and-run when the judge rules that a second vehicle that hit the victim afterwards could have caused the fatal injuries. Never mind that the trailing vehicle would never have hit the rider in the first place if the hit-and-run driver hadn’t plowed into her and left her lying in the street.

Or there’s this, as Pennsylvania authorities refuse to file charges against a driver who killed a teenage cyclist — even though she was under the influence of cocaine and prescription drugs at the time. Nice to see them taking DUI so seriously.

And in a truly disgusting demonstration of genuine overly entitled, self-absorbed heartlessness, an Ontario — Canada, not California — driver sues the family of the teenage cyclist she killed for the emotional turmoil that taking his life has caused her. Evidently, she’s the real victim here, not the kid who lost his life, the parents who lost a child or the brother who OD’d because he couldn’t deal with the loss.

I never to wish ill on anyone. But I’m sorely tempted to make an exception in her case.

……..

Local

UCLA’s Herbie Huff and Madeline Brozen offer a rebuttal to the recent report showing bike lanes don’t cause traffic congestion if they’re put in the right place.

Cultural Weekly explains why CicLAvia has struck a chord with Angelenos. Although I’m not really sure that’s it.

Variety promotes this weekend’s first-of-the-year bike-in movie in Reseda Park.

KCRW’s DnA will host Reinventing the Wheel, a discussion on the future of mobility at the Helms Bakery complex on May 18.

Santa Monica police use a bait bike to get two bike thieves off the streets.

Long Beach offers a bike map of six downtown routes.

Santa Clarita plans a number of events around hosting a pair of stages in next month’s Amgen Tour of California.

 

State

The Idyllwild man who created the Stagecoach 400 mountain bike race finally finishes the route he designed after three failed attempts.

Streetsblog looks at last week’s California Transportation Choices Summit.

VeloNews rides the Amgen Tour of California route in reverse with the Rapha Women’s Ambassadors.

 

National

A new Strava map offers a detailed look at where people who use Strava run and ride bikes, which seems to be pretty much where people live. Then again, people who don’t use Strava ride everywhere.

A proposed MiniBrake promises to let parents stop their children’s bikes by remote control. Seems a little dangerous to stop a kid’s bike without warning, but it could keep them from riding into danger.

Treehugger lists five ways bicycling is getting better in the US. And one way it’s not.

A severely auto-focused Texas jerk letter writer says “You ‘need’ a car for business, shopping and taking your kids to Burger King. You only ‘want’ to ride your bike…” which places “an unreasonable safety burden on drivers of other vehicles.” Right. And maybe if those kids walked or rode to Burger King they might be healthier now, and as adults.

 

International

After a Brit thief steals a $4,200 e-bike, he calls the local dealer for advice on how to charge it. Which turns out to be the same guy he stole it from.

Lance says he’s still the winner of all those Tours de France, regardless of what anyone else says, while former Armstrong lieutenant George Hincapie promises an unvarnished look at pro cycling’s doping era in a new book.

Osaka police crack down on reckless cyclists — or any, for that matter — at the urging of local merchants.

 

Finally…

A cute 30-second video suggests the more you ride, the more calories you can take in. Not necessarily true, though, as I’ve learned the hard way.

 

No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

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