Tag Archive for genuine heroes

Malibu’s hero cyclists, a driver plays bingo while her victim dies, bike projects build jobs

It was one of the best local stories the mainstream media missed last year.

Last November, two cyclists were riding on PCH in Malibu when they heard barely audible screams for help. Triathletes Martha Hunt and Rachel Hosmer didn’t hesitate, rushing to rescue two inexperienced scuba divers from drowning.

I wrote about it, based on the limited information I had, courtesy of bankruptcy attorney and cyclist Stanley Goldich, who happened on the scene shortly afterward. The Malibu Times mentioned it in passing, failing to give the story the attention it deserved — especially in a city where cyclists are often reviled — but at least they covered it, unlike the other media outlets.

Now an online site dedicated to open-water swimming reports on the story, offering in-depth comments from Martha recapping the urgency and elation of the rescue. It’s a great read, and an important story in a world where the great mass of cyclists are too often criticized for the action of a few.

Martha and Rachel are genuine heroes. Two men are alive today because they happened to be riding by and cared enough to do something about it.

For the life of me, I’ll never understand why that’s not news.

Thanks to Steve Munatones for the heads-up.

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Following on Wednesday’s post about a near collision with an unrepentant cyclist — which got picked up by the Times, even if it was lost under a repot on transvestite prostitute embezzlement and a huge Umami burger — a Washington DC site asks just what typical bicyclist behaviors should be part of our social contract.

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In the latest example of the sheer inhumanity of some members of our species, a 57-year old Sacramento woman was arrested for the fatal hit-and-run death of a cyclist. According to reports, the driver left the 30-year old woman to die in the street, claiming later she knew she hit something but didn’t know what it was.

Apparently, it was far more important to get to the bingo parlor than to stop and see what, or who, she hit.

No word on whether she won.

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Not that it will matter in the new GOP-controlled House, where the new leaders don’t allow facts to get in the way of political posturing, but the League of American Bicyclists points out that bike lanes create more jobs per $1 million spent than other road projects. So if Congress really wants to put Americans to work — other than themselves, that is — they should focus on painting stripes rather than paving highways.

Fortunately, not all conservatives have their heads so far up their own butts are anti-bike; a writer for the American Conservative suggests a creating network of Bike Only Streets to prepare for projected fuel shortages.

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In case you missed it last night, make plans next Thursday for #bikeschool, the fastest and possibly most entertaining bike hour on Twitter. Meanwhile, Tucson Velo offers a great profile of our own Joe Anthony, the L.A. bike advocate behind Bike Commute News and one of bikeschool’s foremost students.

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Santa Monica considers patterning their new bike plan on Long Beach; not a bad model to follow as long as they don’t try to imitate the police department. LADOT Bike Blog — which has done wonders to improve the public face of the agency — offers an in-depth look at upcoming bike lane projects and makes a solid argument for road diets. Streetsblog looks at the new and improved Ohio bike lane, a side-benefit of the massive 405 widening. A Burbank driver calls on the city to remove the Verdugo bike lanes. Car-less Valley Girl recommends the LACBC’s Valley Pride Ride this Sunday. The Times says organizers are planning for round two of CicLAvia; you can help support CicLAvia with your own personalized t-shirt and spoke card. Apparently, L.A. has its own version of San Fran’s famous Wiggle. Group ride etiquette does not mean you have to be a second-class citizen on the road. A look at the laidback world of cyclocross.

Bicycling looks at a commuter bikes under $800; if they get stolen, though, it’s only petty theft thanks to California’s new law of unintended consequences. People for Bikes encourages you to keep riding this winter, while Dottie defends the use of studded bike tires. Dave Moulton looks at smoking and cycling; the only thing I find more absurd than texting while riding is pedaling with a butt in your mouth. Not surprisingly, Time magazine says bored drivers have the most accidents (note to Time: consider updating your terminology; very few collisions are “accidents”). If you want to experience Yellowstone in the winter, make sure you have a motor. In a nightmare scenario, an Ohio doctor responds to a cycling collision, only to discover the victim is his new wife. NYPD cracks down on cyclists who ride like most motorists drive. A day in the life of one of my favorite East Coast bike bloggers — and a reminder to watch out for those darn retractable dog leashes. New bike lanes in the Big Easy result in a 57% increase in ridership.

Former British boxing star Gary Mason was killed in a cycling collision in South London. If you’re going to be in London this month, don’t miss the world’s smallest velodrome. Cyclists accuse a UK court of a cover-up in the death of their club mate — and slap on the wrist for the driver who killed her. The UK’s I Bike London offers a great overview of London bike blogs, as well as a listing of leading blogs around the world. The Guardian calls New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan a modern day Robin Hood. While Danish drivers were stuck in snow, cyclists simply rode on. A look at the 1953 book Bikes and Dikes. The Schleck brothers new Luxemburg-based bike team finally has a name and a new riding kit. Seville sees a remarkable jump in cycling in just five years.

Finally, an Aussie cyclist has a violent early-morning confrontation with a kangaroo; at least that’s one problem we don’t have here.

But I bet it would make the news if we did.

A call for tougher hit-and-run laws; cycling legend Gino Bartali hid family from Nazis during WWII

Tuesday night, yet another person was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver — this time, a pedestrian in Playa del Rey.

Just the latest in a long, long list of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as others, killed by cowards who lack the basic human decency to stop and render aid as required by law.

Let alone just see if their victim is still alive.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado law actually makes it wiser for drivers who’ve been drinking to flee the scene, rather than risk a higher penalty for drunk driving; chances are, they’ll sober up before the police ever track them down.

I’ve long argued exactly the same point holds true right here in the late great formerly Golden State.

That’s because California’s stiff penalties for drunk driving far outweigh the relatively light penalties for hit-and-run. Many drivers don’t even lose their license after leaving an injured motorist, pedestrian or cyclist lying in their wake; something Bikeside has tried to address with their Life Before License campaign.

Personally, I think LB4L is a good start.

I just don’t think it goes far enough.

What we need is law that makes license revocation an administrative process, rather than judicial, so that hit-and-run drivers will lose their licenses regardless of whether or not they’re convicted. And make it automatic, so that the license is permanently revoked — not suspended — as soon as it’s shown that a driver has the scene of a collision. By leaving the scene, their actions have already proven they’re unfit to be behind the wheel.

Then make them go before a judge for permission to apply for a provisional license — and only after any sentence has been served.

But as we’ve seen, the lack of a license isn’t always enough to stop some people from getting behind the wheel.

As a result, any car used in a hit-and-run should be impounded as soon as an arrest is made. Then if the driver is convicted, the car should be seized by the state and sold, with the proceeds used to compensate the victim.

After all, it’s been used to in the actual commission of a crime.

Robbers and murderers aren’t allowed to keep their guns after they’re convicted; a car used in a hit-and-run shouldn’t be treated any differently. And California law already permits the seizure of any vehicles used for drug crimes or to solicit prostitution.

Isn’t leaving someone dead or bleeding on the side of the road just a little more serious than offering money for a blow job?

Maybe when drivers face the prospect of making payments for the next several years to pay off a car they no longer own, they might think twice about hitting the gas instead of the brakes.

And maybe then, finally, they’ll actually stick around after a collision.

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On a related subject, NY Streetsblog responds to outraged NIMBY’s complaining about dangerous bike lanes by showing where the real danger comes from, with a devastating list of cyclists and pedestrians killed on the city’s streets in 2010.

Meanwhile, Treehugger asks why not aim for zero deaths?

My thoughts exactly. Our only goal should be to make sure the last cyclist or pedestrian killed on our streets really is the last one.

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More evidence that Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia and two-time winner of the Tour de France, was a genuine hero of the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Bartali used his bike to smuggle documents on behalf of Italian Jews during the Nazi occupation. Now comes word that he also hid a family of Jews in his cellar for nearly two years, saving their lives at the risk of his own.

These days, when the internet and sports section seems to bring more bad bike news with every passing day, it’s nice to be reminded what a real cycling hero is.

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Join the LACBC for the first monthly Sunday Funday Ride with the Valley Pride Ride at noon this Sunday starting at Los Encinos State Park, led by board member Heidi Zeller; the ride is free for members and a guest.

Speaking of which, I’ll be hosting the next one with a four-city, 35 +/- mile tour of the Westside on Super Bowl Sunday.

And L.A. Critical Mass rolls on New Years Eve, just in time to confront the many, many drunks on the road.

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I got an email earlier today from someone looking for a 64-65 cm lugged steel bike frame, or possibly a full bike; he says an ’80s era Trek 720 frame would be ideal, but he’s open to anything that meets those specs. If you have one you’re willing to part with, or know where he can find one, let me know and I’ll forward the information.

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More on the teenage cyclist shot to death in South L.A. last night. Damien Newton names the Livable Streets People of the Year, as well as the year’s many low lights. The city may — or may not — be liable for injuries or damage caused by potholes; Council President Eric Garcetti directs you to the right form to file your claim. Bike lanes may come to Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills next year; thanks should go to Better Bike Beverly Hills. Stanley Goldich forwards a spectacular photo of the recent storm damage. Bob Mionske points out you could be arrested if you’re stopped by a cop for a traffic violation and can’t produce ID. Cyclelicious lists the top 10 bike stories of 2010.

A comprehensive list of Twitter bike hashtags for cities around the world from my new friends at Bike Commute News. The tax benefits of riding to work. Motorists may be facing a crisis of confidence as the former(?) alpha dogs of transportation. An interview with leading bike advocate Elly Blue on women, cycling and why Portland still has a way to go. Even Seattle cyclists have to deal with snow this year. Just one of 16 bike/ped bridges in the Twin Cities. Michigan adopts a Complete Streets policy. A 17-year old Ohio man is under arrest, suspected of intentionally stalking and killing a cyclist. Mapping crash data to build awareness of bike danger areas.

Now you can have a Porsche of your very own, without sacrificing cycling. Road.cc looks back on the highs and lows of the 2010 racing season, while VeloNews offers a complete calendar of 2011 racing events. Turns out that Aussie study that showed the country’s mandatory helmet law did not reduce head injuries contained “serious arithmetic and data plotting errors.” A bad knee will keep Lance out of a Kiwi triathlon, but he still plans to race with his RadioShack team in the Tour Down Under. An Israeli cyclist is sentenced to three months in jail for allegedly organizing a 2008 Critical Mass ride; thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.

Finally, more on the Dutch cyclist disqualified from the 2012 Paralympics after miraculously regaining use of her legs — remarkably, after being hit by another cyclist on a training ride.

Breaking news: PCH cyclists save two scuba divers from drowning off Malibu coast

Thousands of drivers speed by every day.

But it took a couple of cyclists to hear the cries for help — and save a pair of scuba divers trapped in the unforgiving surf.

Bankruptcy attorney and cyclist Stanley E. Goldich reports that he was on his way back from a ride up PCH on Saturday when he passed a group of riders stopped on the ocean side of the highway near Deer Creek Road.

He saw a number of bicycles on the side of the road, looking like the riders had gone down to the beach, as well as a couple of cyclists with their riding cleats off. While it caught his attention, it didn’t seem like anything was wrong, so he continued riding.

But when a fire truck roared up and stopped at that exact spot, he turned around to check things out.

And what he found surprised him.

He spoke with two women, Martha Hunt and Rachel Hosmer, both triathletes who were on the backside of a ride from Santa Monica to the Rock.

As they rode, they’d heard yells for help that seemed to come from the ocean; when they stopped, they discovered two men in scuba suits trapped in the surf and unable to climb out due to the steep slope of the shore. Their wetsuits had filled with water, and they were drowning as they were dragged down by the undertow and excess weight.

Hunt immediately threw off her bike shoes and made her way down the steep embankment, first pulling out the man closest to her, then going back out to the man further from shore, who seemed to be in greater difficulty.

He proved to be more than she could handle on her own. Fortunately, Hosmer had flagged down another group of passing cyclists, five of whom went into the water to help Hunt pull the drowning man to safety.

Goldich reports that the men were still being treated by firefighters when he left. They were conscious, although clearly in need of medical attention, but should be okay. They reportedly told Hunt that they were training for their scuba certification, and this was only their second time using the equipment.

Thankfully, it may not be their last.

Cyclists may be far from the most popular people in Malibu these days. But I have a feeling that two men and their families are very grateful that Hunt and Hosmer went out for a Saturday ride on PCH.

Unfortunately, Goldich wasn’t able to get their contact information. But if anyone out there knows Martha Hunt or Rachel Hosmer, or any of the other cyclists involved in the rescue, I’d love to hear the story from their perspective.

Both women, and the others involved, are real heroes.

Two men are breathing tonight who might not be without them.

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