Tag Archive for hit-and-run

Yet another driver kills a cyclist and flees the scene; 3rd fatal Ontario bike hit-and-run since July

News is just breaking that yet another bike rider has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, this time in Ontario.

According to the Daily Bulletin, the victim was riding on Euclid Avenue at Budd Street shortly after 2 pm Sunday when he struck by a Ford pickup traveling north on Euclid. No word on which direction the victim, who has not been identified pending notification of next of kin, was traveling or how the collision occurred.

He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, the driver fled the scene, but was captured shortly later thanks to information provided by witnesses. Police arrested 29-year old Ontario resident James Manuel Avalos; no word yet on any possible charges.

This is the 78th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in San Bernardino County. That compares to 74 SoCal deaths, and 10 in the San Bernardino County, for all of last year. It is also the third bicycling fatality in the City of Ontario since July — all hit-and-runs.

Clearly, something is seriously wrong there.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all his family and loved ones. 

Correction: I initially left off the last name of the suspect; he should have been identified as James Manuel Avalos, as I’ve now changed it above. Thanks to Allyson Vought for the catch.

Update: Cyclist found dead on side of the road in San Bernardino County, apparent victim of hit-and-run

If this doesn’t piss you off, maybe it should.

According to the Lucerne Valley Leader, an unidentified man was found dead on the side of the road in eastern San Bernardino County this morning, the victim of an apparent hit-and-run.

The victim was discovered with his bike on the south side of Highway 18 just east of Post Office Road in Lucerne Valley around 8 am; paramedics declared him dead at the scene after arriving about 10 minutes later.

According to the CHP officer investigating the death, it appeared his mountain bike was hit from behind as he rode along the white line on the right side of the highway. His bike showed damage to the rear end, and there was evidence that the driver veered off the road after striking him, then continued without stopping.

The collision most likely occurred sometime during the night, which means the victim could have been lying there for several hours before he was discovered — which could have been the difference between life and dead.

All because some heartless son of a bitch didn’t have the basic human decency to at least stop and call for help before running away like the coward he — or she — is.

As far as I’m concerned, once the driver is found, he or she should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim might have lived if they hadn’t made a conscious decision to let him die.

This is the 77th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in San Bernardino County. That compares with 10 in the county for all of last year, and six in 2011.

Update: The Victorville Daily Press identifies the victim as 47-year old Angelo “Andy” Douglas Azzato of Lucerne Valley.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Azzato and all his loved ones.

Update 2: According to the Victorville Daily Press, the CHP reports Azzato was hit by a truck between 5 pm and 10 pm on November 6th, which means his body was on the side of the road for 10 to 15 hours before he was discovered. Authorities are looking for a silver 1999 or 2000 Dodge Ram pickup with damage to the right front bumper and/or headlight assembly. 

Anyone with information is urged to call the CHP Victorville office at 760-241-1186.

 

Alleged hit-and-run killer of Jesse Dotson faces charges; LA bike share dead in the water

Last night’s breaking news meant a couple other important stories got pushed aside.

Like the news that we may finally see some justice for the death of Gardena bike rider Jesse Dotson.

According to the LA Times, Vanessa Marie Yanez, the 23-year old daughter of an LAPD Sargent, pled not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run, as well as a perjury charge for lying to police investigators by claiming her car had been stolen.

Dotson was riding to work at the local post office just before 10 pm on Wednesday, October 26th when he was allegedly run down by Yanez’ car. She reportedly left him to die in the street, then drove to meet a friend at a Huntington Park club before reporting her car stolen in hopes of evading responsibility.

Her father was not charged, despite extensive speculation that he may have actively aided in the cover-up, or at least been aware that his daughter had been involved in a hit-and-run.

According to the Daily Breeze, Yanez faces up to six years in prison.

Meanwhile, Dotson’s family faces a lifetime without their husband and father.

Thanks to Jim Lyle, Linda Campbell and Mike D for the heads-up.

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In news that should surprise absolutely no one, LA’s long-promised Bike Nation bike share program appears to be dead in the water.

The announcement of the bike share plan was unexpectedly made at the April, 2012 CicLAvia, apparently with no competitive bidding — or much thought, for that matter.

Now the Downtown News reports that the program appears to be on terminal hold due to the city’s famously burdensome permitting problems, as well as a contract giving exclusive rights to advertise on sidewalk furniture to another company. Without the income from advertising, it would be impossible for Bike Nation to make a profit on the program, which they had promised to provide at no charge to the city.

The good news is, without the Bike Nation program in the way, Metro is free to explore a county-wide bike share program, which may or may not include Bike Nation as a participant. And which could prevent the Balkanization caused by each city developing their own incompatible bike share systems.

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Connecting UCLA is attempting to start a conversation on traffic and mobility surrounding the campus, and how that affects the livability of the neighborhoods around it.

So far, the conversation is surprisingly civil.

Then again, there’s only two comments up to this point.

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Finally, a San Bernardino patrol car left crosses cyclist, resulting in minor injuries. And of course, the local press blames the rider. The question is whether the SBPD will hold their own accountable for cutting off the bike rider, or follow the Sun’s lead in blaming the victim.

And a Brit writer complains — tongue-in-cheek, by his own account — that far too few bike riders are being killed on the country’s roads. Is hate any less ugly when it’s well written, or when you’re supposed to get the alleged joke?

Update: Bike rider killed in Anaheim hit-and-run; victim left in street to be hit by second car

It’s happened again.

Last month a cyclist was killed in Los Angeles when a hit-and-run driver plowed into a group of cyclists, leaving her victims lying in the street, where Andy Garcia died after being hit by another vehicle.

Whether he would have survived if she’d stopped at the scene is anyone’s guess.

Now something similar has happened in Orange County.

According to multiple reports, a bike rider was struck by a vehicle at or near the intersection of East Orangethorpe Ave and North Lemon Street in Anaheim around 5:40 am. However, details are still unfolding; the Orange County Register places the time of the collision as 5:55 am, while Google Maps places the intersection in Fullerton, rather than Anaheim.

The reports indicate a driver in an unidentified vehicle reportedly hit the cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, dragging the victim several feet on Orangethorpe before fleeing the scene. The victim was then struck by another vehicle; he or she was pronounced dead at the scene, still trapped under the second car.

No word on how the collision occurred, or what street the victim was riding on. And once again, whether the victim could have survived the initial collision if the driver had stopped, as required by law and basic human decency, is anyone’s guess.

KCBS-2 reports the victim was dragged roughly 20 feet under the first car, while KNBC-4 describes it simply as several feet. However, before their paywall cuts the story off, the Register writes that the bike was found lying in the street about 150 feet behind where the victim’s body was found, suggesting it may have been dragged a considerable distance.

That would be consistent with the description of where the rider was hit by the second car. Reports indicate he ended up in front of a church; Google’s satellite view shows The Rock some distance east of Lemon Street.

KNBC-4 also indicates the first driver hit another car as the driver fled the scene after hitting the cyclist.

Who was at fault for the initial collision is still to be determined.

However, if there is any justice in this case, the first driver should face a homicide charge on the assumption that the victim might have survived if the heartless coward behind the wheel hadn’t dragged him or her beneath the car, then left the victim lying in the street to be hit by someone else.

This is the 74th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in Orange County this year; it’s also the second in Anaheim since the first of the year. This is also the 16th fatal hit-and-run involving a bike rider this year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his or her family. 

Thanks to Alan Thompson for the heads-up.

Update: An email from John reports passing the scene this morning, and witnessing police activity on Orangethorpe east of Lemon, as well as several hundred feet north of Orangethorpe on Lemon, where he saw several pieces of blood-soaked clothing. While he can’t say that the two sites are definitely connected, it suggests that the collision may have occurred on Lemon, ending on Orangethorpe. 

Meanwhile, KABC-7 reports that one driver managed to swerve around the victim before he was hit was hit by the second car. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact OC Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 19-year old Fullerton resident Manuel Morales Rodriguez. According to the LA Times, a suspect has been identified, but has not been arrested or charged.

Increasing penalties for hit-and-run, increasing opposition to high-speed Hyperion/Glendale bridges

Today's forecast calls for first winter storm of the year. But hopefully, not this bad. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Forecast calls for first winter storm of the year. But probably not like this. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Momentum is finally building to increase penalties for hit-and-run.

But while increasing penalties to match DUI will remove one incentive to flee, it won’t be enough to stop hit-and-runs at a time when prison overcrowding means non-violent offenders serve only a fraction of their sentences.

Original thinking is required, whether that means automatic revocation of the driver’s license and seizure of the vehicle used, as I’ve long advocated, or extensive home detention and community service.

We also need to require permanent license plates for every car on the road from the minute it leaves the sales lot. Too many drivers use loopholes in the law to avoid putting valid plates on their cars, making them virtually untraceable in the event of a collision.

Just try counting the number of cars you see without plates the next time you ride.

Drivers should also face homicide charges anytime someone dies following a hit-and-run on the assumption that the victim might have been saved if they had stopped and called for help.

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Opposition is deservedly growing to the planned highway-speed redevelopment of the Hyperion/Glendale bridge complex.

How this deadly throwback design even got preliminary support from city officials is beyond me.

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Wednesday’s planned hearing of the My Figueroa project before the city council’s Transportation Committee has been postponed until further notice.

Let’s hope it’s soon, because funding requirements dictate that all opponents have to do to kill the project is to delay the start until after the first of the year. It would be very easy for someone to halt the whole project just by demanding further study, without ever publicly opposing it.

Not that any, say, car dealer or councilmember would actually try that, of course.

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The NY Times profiles our Jewish Latino Moby-accompanying semi-hipster mayor; meanwhile, our own Times talks with LADOT bike czar Michelle Mowery, and apparently approves. City of LA department performance data goes online, including a rising rate of bike lane miles. The Times says the new and de-improved Spring Street bike lane is ready for a road test. Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman walks and thinks at Sunday’s CicLAvia; Boyonabike explains why he boycotted this one. Roaming historic Leimert Park by bike. West Hollywood is about to get a new robot garage; disappointingly, it’s not actually for parking robots. Pasadena man rides to raise funds for a chemical dependency treatment program like the one that saved his life. The inaugural Rose Bowl Legacy Cycling Challenge scheduled for later this month has been cancelled until next year. Bike to the Pomona Pumpkin Festival on the 20th. A new petition calls on El Monte to approve the city’s first bike lane. Funny how frequently opponents can look at bike lanes and fail to see anyone use them, even in bike friendly Long Beach. Will we ever see the promised Bike Nation bike share programs in LA and Long Beach, and should we wait on them? CLR Effect offers more typically great photos from the 2013 Velocity Cross.

Governor Brown has signed AB 417, which will streamline the environmental process for urban bike plans, so they don’t get held hostage by absurd claims that bike lanes will cause pollution. Ride the 2014 Amgen Tour of California route before the pros. I’d love to know what OC Register readers have to say about cyclists and the recently passed three-foot law, but you know, draconian paywall and stuff. An eight-year old Corona boy is released from the hospital three weeks after he was attacked by dogs while riding his bike. Bike SD says without an implementation strategy, the city’s Bike Master Plan is just a wish list. Seven-year old Solano Beach boy finishes third in BMX Nationals. Registration opens for next month’s Tour de (Camp) Pendleton. A driver is sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison for the DUI death of a Morro Bay cyclist last month thanks to previous convictions for DUI, reckless driving and hit-and-run; she was still drunk from the night before at the time of the 11 am collision, even after going for a run. No bias here, as the local press reports a helmetless Pacific Grove cyclist slammed into the back of a stopped car, but fails to consider whether the driver may have stopped short or cut her off. A Sacramento bike rider is killed when she’s rear-ended by a bus pulling up to a stop. San Francisco cyclists complain about well-documented anti-bike police bias; the question is, was anyone listening?

About time, as the NAACP declares walkability a civil rights issue. A drop in driving rates — especially among young people — is causing car builders to rethink their business model. Not surprisingly, bike friendly mayors often result in bike friendly cities; one hundred days into his administration, it remains to be seen just how bike friendly our new mayor is. Hundreds pause in Boulder CO to remember fallen pro cyclist Amy Dumbroski. Chicago business owner refuses to move to any city without protected bike lanes. One in four Ohio bike collisions ends in hit-and-run. More New Yorkers are killed in motor vehicle collisions than by guns; not that the NYPD seems to give a damn. Leading New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio switches from opponent to supporter of protected bike lanes, but won’t bike to work if elected. New York jurists consider whether a driver can be too drunk to be responsible for his or her actions. Lindsey Lohan rides bikes with her mom; no word on whether they rode drunk or crashed into anyone. Because a driver wasn’t willing to wait 15 seconds for a bike rider to cross a bridge, a Maryland family no longer has a mother. Charleston SC officials want to encourage bike riding while reining in all that cluttered bike parking. Georgia’s absurdly anti-bike legislation is pulled by its authors, who don’t understand the negative reaction.

Mass retirements hit the pro peloton. Bolivia’s fourth largest city could require residents to ride once a week; thanks to Cyclelicious for the link. Breathtaking Ai Weiwei bike art installation opens in Toronto. Your next really heavy helmet could be made of flax. Evidently, Cambridge’s new cycle-safe junction design isn’t as two cyclists collide head-on. Biking the back roads of Southern England. Next year’s Giro will pay tribute to the late, great Marco Pantani. The Jerusalem Post looks at “righteous Christian Italian cycling great” Gino Bartali, who risked his life to save Jews during WWII; I look forward to the Catholic church giving him the respect he deserves. Dubai prosecutors want to increase the one-month sentence given the killer of triathlete Roy Nasr. Cape Town’s new cycle track is used primarily for motorbike parking and smoke breaks. Australia’s new Prime Minister defends making the country pick up the tab for his bike rides. An Aussie cyclist is arrested for riding at nearly four times the legal alcohol limit at 11:30 am, still drunk — and surprisingly not dead — from the night before.

Finally, every thief now has an alibi, as a California appellate court inexplicably rules that it’s not stealing if you plan to return a cell phone — or a bike — when you’re done with it. And here’s the perfect bike to borrow for all you temporary bike rustlers out there.

FYI, if you see an ad on this or any other post on here, the money is going to WordPress for hosting this blog, not me.

Breaking news: OC DUI hit-and-run driver Juli Ann Brown gets serious jail time

It looks like a dangerous driver may be off the streets for awhile.

And for once, she didn’t have to kill someone to get the court’s attention. Just nearly kill three people in an allegedly intoxicated state.

I’m told that Juli Ann Brown, the driver who ran down three members of the Long Beach Lightening Velo bike club in a drunken hit-and-run on PCH last year, was sentenced on Friday to a total of one year in county jail, 15 years in state prison, plus fines, restitution and an 18-month alcohol offender program.

Yes, you read that right.

A total of 16 years, though what that will mean in real life remains to be seen, as she was convicted of multiple counts, and some or all of those terms may end up being served concurrently.

Brown was convicted of plowing into a group of cyclists riding in the bike lane on PCH in Seal Beach in February 2012, then fleeing the scene. Three of the riders were hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries.

Brown was arrested shortly afterwards when Huntington Beach police officers observed her damaged car swerving repeatedly, and booked on suspicion of hit-and-run, driving under the influence and possession of narcotics.

All before 10 am on a Saturday.

This is her second conviction for a DUI offense. Brown was convicted on two separate DUI counts in 2003, one for drug use and another for a blood alcohol level greater than .08. Amazingly, she was sentenced to just 10 days in jail — which as then stayed — and just 90 days of driving restriction, as well as a nine month alcohol treatment program.

This time, at least, she should do some serious jail time.

Whether it will be enough to keep her sober and off the streets once she gets out, only time will tell.

Road raging driver mows down cyclist in Palos Verdes

The bike is dead. Fortunately, its rider isn’t.

The Daily Breeze is reporting that a road raging driver deliberately ran down a bicyclist before slamming into a series of cars.

According to the paper, Palos Verdes Estates resident Doug Castile was riding on Via Pacheco around 6:30 pm when he was Jerry Browned by a driver who sideswiped him, then backed up and hit him again when he complained.

Castile said he yelled, “Hey, you just hit me!” The driver of the black car then put it in reverse, backed up behind the bicyclist, pulled forward and pushed the bicyclist into the plants.

“The guy put it in reverse again, backed up, and ran over my bike,” Castile said. “At that point, my feet are clipped in the pedals on my bike. I unclipped my feet and jumped off the bike into the plants and he’s running over my bicycle back and forth.”

The driver, who wasn’t identified in the story, reacted bizarrely when Castile reached reached into his pocket for his cell phone.

“He says, ‘What are you reaching for, a gun?’ It just was so odd to hear that statement. I took my hand out of my pocket. I thought this guy is capable of anything,” Castile said.

At that point, the driver sped off, slamming into an unknown number of parked and moving vehicle before his car finally became disabled on Ganado Drive and Sheriff’s deputies made an arrest.

Castile was able to escape with scrapes, while his $3,000 to $4,000 bike was destroyed.

The paper says police were unsure whether the driver was suffering from a mental condition or committed a deliberate assault.

Unfortunately, anyone can buy a car and get a license, regardless of mental or emotional stability. And in the wrong hands, it can become a weapon.

As we have seen too many times before.

Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

Update: The Daily Breeze identifies the driver as 65-year old William Thomas Kelly of Torrance. He’s being held on $30,000 bond on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon; hopefully, more charges — and a much higher bail — will follow soon. 

It’s also worth noting that deputies found Kelly unconscious in his car after it rammed the gates to an FAA facility, which could lead to federal charges. According to the paper, officer’s smelled alcohol on his breath when he was taken into custody — which could make this the fourth time he’s charged with DUI since 1991.

And yet he was still allowed behind the wheel to threaten the lives and safety of others.

More on the 2nd-car death of Andy Garcia, no more green bike lane, and LA gets tougher on hit-and-run

Streetsblog attempts to clear up the confusing details over the hit-and-run collision that resulted in the death of Luis “Andy” Garcia.

Garcia was killed after 21-year old Wendy Villegas hit a group of five riders and fled the scene, leaving her victims lying in the street, where he was hit by a second vehicle.

Streetsblog writer Sahra Sulaiman talks with some of the other riders involved.

What they have to say contradicts some of the details in the official press release from the LAPD — including the fact that Mario Lopez, one of the riders hit in the initial collision, suffered a broken back, rather than the minor injuries the police report.

And paints a picture of a needlessly horrifying night that took the life of a young bike rider, shattered two families, and forever scarred the four surviving riders, as well as the three men who prayed over Garcia after their van took his life.

All because a young woman got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive, and fled like a coward after colliding with her victims.

Then again, there’s no such thing as being just a little drunk when you’re driving.

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Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Also courtesy of Streetsblog, which has been very busy on the bike front this week, comes official confirmation that you can kiss your green Spring Street bike lanes goodbye.

The highly popular bike lanes barely survived an attempt by Hollywood filmmakers to have them removed entirely; regretfully, self-described bike supporter Council Member Tom LaBonge bought into the industry’s easily disprovable lies — as did our new bike-friendly Mayor Eric Garcetti.

If it wasn’t for the efforts of Council Member Jose Huizar and a few others, the bike lanes would have been removed entirely, rather than just stripped of their green paint.

Now they await a newly approved treatment that costs significantly less, but may not be as effective in capturing the attention of motorists.

We should all hold Hollywood — and our elected readers — accountable for any drop in ridership on the street.

Or increase in injuries.

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The LA City Council instructs the LAPD to take a tougher stance on tracking hit-and-runs. And will work at the state level to revoke the licenses of fleeing drivers, and forfeit their vehicles.

Which is exactly what I’ve long been calling for.

So whether someone has read my blog, or just came up with the idea on their own, thank you. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who gets the credit as long as long-needed changes are made.

Now let’s get it done. And put a stop to this deadly epidemic.

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The LA Times says the ball is in Governor Brown’s court when it comes to signing the three-foot passing law, noting that this is the fifth attempt at passing it in California. The first two never made it out of committee, while our esteemed governor vetoed the last pair.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog notes the Times promises more coverage of bicycling issues on their Opinion page. With all the bike-riding reporters and editors who work at the paper, the only question is what took so long.

Speaking of which, Streetsblog and the new Santa Monica Next are holding a fundraiser this Sunday.

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lb_market_valetKelly Heller sends word that the Long Beach Southwest Farmers Market will begin offering a bike valet this Sunday:

Since it doesn’t begin till next weekend, I cannot tell you anything about how the valet staff is or what the bike accommodations look like.

However, I certainly *can* attest to the fact that this farmer’s market has a significant car-traffic problem.  They are paying for at least three traffic guards, and the whole time we were locking up our bikes and readying our shopping bags we observed the frustration of both the drivers and the traffic guards as they yelled at each other and everyone struggled to find any remaining needle-in-a-haystack open parking spots.

It’s nice to see that someone did the math and figured out that putting up a free bike valet might be the ideal solution.

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There may be hope for the LA River yet, beyond the current unfinished bike path next to a graffiti-clad concrete river bed. The city breaks ground on a new park next to the river in Sherman Oaks that will include a short bike path. The city council approves a new $6 million bike, pedestrian and equestrian bridge over the LA River in North Atwater Village. Larchmont Village loses thirty — yes, 30 — bike racks in order to satisfy drivers who prefer parking meters. Residents want to tame traffic on Ave 64.

There will be a blood drive in honor of fallen OC cyclist Kurt Kirkey in Aliso Viejo on Wednesday, October 2nd. Bike Newport Beach looks at the different mindset for riding in Paris. A Bakersfield driver was using a legal hands-free device when she struck and killed a cyclist riding in a bike lane Tuesday night, in what has been a horrible year for Kern County cyclists and pedestrians; police say the driver was at fault. Sharrows or Supersharrows? When a cyclist is nearly decapitated by fishing line strung over a bike trail, it’s not a prank, it’s a terrorist attack.

Industry trade group Bikes Belong folds itself into its own People for Bikes subsidiary. Elly Blue offers five tips for the bike industry to increase ridership among women. Lovely Bicycle asks if it’s possible to have too short a ride. The Houston Chronicle asks how relatively ancient Chris Horner won the Vuelta. A Houston rider has his bike stolen when he’s mugged on a popular bike trail. Evidently, there’s a requirement in Montana that says drivers have to pass bike riders even when it’s not safe to do so. A Milwaukee man is shot and killed after spotting a man riding a child’s stolen bike. Apparently, more bikes really do mean safer streets, even if New York’s Daily News has trouble believing it. Evidently, you can do tricks on a bike share bike. Male riders outnumber women in Philly, like just about everywhere else. A Maryland rider explains what it’s like to be a cyclist on the state’s roads. DC could remove restrictions preventing bike shops from selling used bikes. A 77-year old Arlington VA driver threatens the cyclist he right hooked with a baseball bat; the driver claimed the rider should have signaled for the left turn he wasn’t making.

A Winnipeg law would absurdly force groups of 10 or more bike riders to get a parade permit. Beat the crap out of a UK bike rider in a road rage incident, and walk away with a fine. A three-year old Brit girl is banned from riding her bike because she might damage resident’s cars. Is Europe’s bad economy causing the boom in bicycling? After overseeing the worst doping era in bike racing history, Pat McQuaid says he’s the only one who can clean it up; I’d say let’s give him the same ban Lance got. The mother of racing great Marco Pantani thinks her son was poisoned after breaking pro cycling’s doping omerta. A Sydney paper continues its highly biased anti-bike reporting, including blaming bike lanes for a loss of handicap parking and cyclists for running red lights; apparently, objectivity and grammatically correct headlines aren’t attributes expected of the local press. Meanwhile, the Guardian says the anti-bike hysteria in the Sydney press has got to stop, and local cyclists fight back on Twitter.

Finally, this is one way to ride with a dog. And if you’re planning to burgle a flat screen TV, maybe a bike isn’t your best choice for a getaway vehicle.

Update — Two cyclists injured, one killed by second driver in drunken early morning hit-and-run

Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

I’ve just gotten word from the LAPD that a bike rider was killed, and two others injured in a hit-and-run early this morning.

Or rather, the victim most likely died because the driver failed to stop at the scene as required by law and basic human decency.

According to the press release, 28-year old Los Angeles resident Ulises Melgar, 30-year old Mario Lopez of Bellflower and 21-year old Bell Flower resident Luis “Andy” Garcia were riding east on Cesar Chavez Avenue at Mission Road with two other bicyclists at approximately 2:45 am Saturday.

They were rear-ended by an eastbound 2013 Toyota Corolla driven by 21-year old Wendy Villegas, knocking all three off their bikes and into the street.

Villegas fled the scene, leaving her victims lying in the street. She drove to her home, where she told her parents she’d been in a collision, and asked them to call the police.

Unfortunately, it was too late.

Just moments after Villegas ran away, 21-year old Jimmy Marroquin was driving east on Cesar Chavez in a 1994 Nissan Quest. He didn’t see Garcia lying in the roadway and struck him with his SUV, dragging his body a short distance.

Had Villegas stayed at the scene, she could have directed other drivers around the people lying in the street until they could move or help could arrive. Ot at the very least, Marroquin would have been more likely to see the collision and drive more carefully around it.

Garcia was pronounced dead at the scene. Whether he could have survived the initial collision if he hadn’t been struck a second time is a matter of speculation.

However, the other two victims only suffered minor injuries, which suggests that his injuries might have been survivable. Lopez was treated by paramedics at the scene, while Melgar was taken to the ER at USC Medical Center.

Meanwhile, Villegas confessed to police that she had been drinking and left the scene of the collision. She was booked for hit-and-run resulting in injury or death (CVC 20001(a)) and vehicular manslaughter while under the influence (Penal Code 191.5).

In other words, police investigators are blaming her for Garcia’s death.

The collision is still under investigation.  Anyone with information is urged to contact Central Traffic Detective M. Kaden at (213) 972-1837 or Officer R. Cortez at (213) 972-1846; or call the Central Traffic Division’s Watch Commander at (213) 972-1853 during the weekend or off hours.

This is the 66th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 28th in Los Angeles County; that compares to 23 in the county for all of last year. It is also the 12th biking death in the City of Los Angeles, compared to five in each of the last year two years.

That’s nearly two-and-a-half times the city’s cycling death toll for 2011 and 2012, with over three months left in the year.

And horrifyingly, nine of those 12 deaths have been hit-and-runs.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for Luis “Andy” Garcia and his loved ones.

Thanks to LAPD Central Traffic bike liaison Sgt. Laszlo Sandor for the heads-up.

Ghost bike for Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Ghost bike for Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Update: There are a number of rumors swirling around this case. According to reports, instead of turning herself in, the second driver followed Villegas home and reported her to the police after watching her get out of the car stumbling drunk.

In a second version, there were three vehicles that hit Garcia; the third was reportedly a Metro van, or possibly an official Metro vehicle, which followed Villegas to her home after hitting Garcia.

After checking with the LAPD, both of those versions appear to be untrue. The only vehicles involved in the collision were those driven by Villegas, who fled the scene, and Marroquin, who stopped after hitting Garcia.

Marroquin did not follow Villegas to her home; if he had, he would have committed hit-and-run, regardless of his intentions in following her. And so far, there is no credible report that there was a Metro vehicle present at the time of the collision, let alone that it was involved in the wreck or that the driver tracked her to her home.

I’ve also been told that one of the victims suffered a broken back as a result of the collision, which I have been unable to confirm with the LAPD. They’re looking into it for me, but so far say both other victims suffered minor injuries.

In addition, reports are that it was actually Melgar who was treated and released at the scene, while Lopez was taken to the hospital; he’s the one who reportedly has a broken back.

There will be a memorial service for Andy Garcia Tuesday, September 17th.

andy

A new LA councilmember develops memory problems; GiveMe3 and hit-and-run bills move forward

Sometimes I have to wonder if politics causes memory problems.

Plans have been under way for the past few years to transform Figueroa Blvd between Downtown and South LA. The four mile My Figueroa project would narrow and remove some mixed-use traffic lanes, along with some parking, in exchange for transit-only lanes and the city’s first protected bike lanes.

However, Streetsblog reports that the conditions of the funding for the project require that construction has to start by the end of this year, and be completed before 2015.

Now newly elected City Councilmember Curren Price may have thrown a wrench in the works by expressing concerns that could kill LA’s first Complete Streets project by delaying it past the required starting point.

According to Downtown News, Price has straddled both sides of the fence, voicing support for the project while expressing concerns at a recent meeting.

“It’s a promising project. Let’s not rush through it. Let’s make it a good deal for everybody,” (Price) said, adding, “Major stakeholders have lingering concerns.”

Those stakeholders reportedly include the often anti-bike AAA, which has its regional headquarters on Figueroa, as well as the owner of eight car dealerships in the area, who evidently doesn’t offer any parking onsite and can’t conceive of anyone biking in and driving out with a new car.

And never mind all those recent studies showing bikes are good for business.

The website also reports that Price filed a motion asking the city Planning Department and LADOT to provide an in-depth analysis of how they plan to mitigate traffic congestion caused by the removal of auto lanes on the street.

Never mind that the street was chosen for the project, in part, because it would not significantly affect traffic flow on the under-utilized corridor. Or that any delay at this point could kill the project.

And never mind that Price, elected to the state Senate just four years ago before leaving for the higher paying city council seat, claimed to be a supporter of bicycling, and, “among other things, the role that it plays in improving air quality, health, traffic congestion and the overall environmental quality of life in the 26th Senate District.”

In a campaign statement for this site before the 2009 election that took him from the state Assembly to the Senate, he wrote:

A lack of investment in mass transit, infrastructure and Class One BikeWays, coupled with the “love affair” that Angelenos have with their cars and a jobs housing imbalance which has residents commuting on average between 15-20 miles roundtrip each day has contributed to the district’s inability to realize higher air quality standards. These reasons, among others, is why transit, transportation and air quality are at the top of my environmental agenda, why I have earned the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters and why I will continue to support increased investment in mass transit as well as alternatives such as cycling, full enforcement of the Clean Air Act, incentives for cleaner technologies and penalties for gross polluters.

He went on to add…

Young people who can’t cycle or exercise outdoors are not only likely to have higher rates of asthma and obesity but to underperform in school.

And…

Whether one cycles for business, for pleasure or for the environment, cyclists and, more correctly, support for cyclists plays a crucial role in creating a more livable 26th Senate District. Improvements and expansion of Class One Bikeways via increased public/private partnership funding and incentives for those who build bike-friendly developments supported by ancillary City street improvements are among the priorities I would have in developing a cycling/environmental agenda.

Then he closed, in part, with this:

I grew up riding my bike in the 26th District in South LA, Leimert Park and the Crenshaw District. I did it for pleasure. As state Senator, I would like to support a climate which allows cyclists to choose their own reason and create an environment which makes it possible.

But not as a council member, perhaps.

Maybe it’s just me. But that doesn’t sound like someone who would halt a major project at the last minute in a fight to preserve parking and under-used traffic lanes.

Or has Price forgotten those high-minded ideals now that he’s not running for office and powerful people with deeper pockets are demanding his attention?

Maybe we need to remind him.

………

According to Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law landed on Governor Brown’s desk Monday afternoon.

I’m told he has 12 days to sign the bill, so we should have an answer — good or bad — by Saturday the 21st. You have less than that to urge him to sign it.

………

Legislation to address LA’s hit-and-run epidemic has advanced to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

AB 184, sponsored by Glendale-area Assembly Member Mike Gatto, was originally written to add an additional one year to the statue of limitations after a suspect is identified in hit-and-run cases. However, the law was significantly amended to double the current three-year statute of limitations, instead.

The bill proved remarkably popular, winning final approval by a unanimous vote of both houses. The LA Weekly says Brown will have 10 days to sign the bill if he gets it by Thursday; otherwise, he’ll have until October 13th.

Don’t ask me why.

Meanwhile, Florida cyclists are backing proposed legislation that would impose a minimum three-year sentence for leaving the scene of a collision resulting in injuries.

………

Speaking of Florida, sentencing has been delayed in the case of Carlos Bertanotti, the Miami musician who killed a cyclist in a drunken 2010 hit-and-run; he dragged the victim’s bike under his car for over two miles before police stopped him.

Family and friends begged the court to show him mercy; not that he showed his victim any. Bertanotti, with 46 violations on his driving record — although his brother claims 12 of those are actually his — faces between 11.56 and 37 years in prison.

And hopefully, a lifetime ban on driving once he gets out.

………

Tuesday was the first day of LA’s 2013 bike and pedestrian count, as volunteers with the LACBC and Los Angeles Walks counted non-motorized travellers during the morning and evening commute times. The count will continue this Saturday to track weekend riders and walkers.

The remarkable thing is that two members of the LA City Council participated in the count along with their staffs; Westside CM Mike Bonin and Valley CM Bob Blumenfield deserve thanks for joining in. Which just goes to show how mainstream bicycling and walking have become when even council members become volunteers.

Maybe there’s hope for this city yet.

Especially if Bonin’s new motion to have the city share such statistics passes the Council.

On the other hand, as great a job as they’ve done, it shouldn’t be up to a pair of non-profit organizations to do the city’s job for it.

New York City can prove the benefits of their efforts to transform the city streets with detailed before and after stats showing traffic, collisions, and injuries or death.

It’s long past time Los Angeles did the same.

………

Alan Stephen ghost bike

Alan Stephen ghost bike

A Central Coast driver pleads guilty to vehicular manslaughter and DUI, just nine days after running down two bicyclists in Morro Bay on Memorial Day.

She tried to do the right thing by taking the train back home after a night of drinking. Unfortunately, she still had a BAC of .07 an hour after killing one rider and seriously injuring the other while driving to work at 11 am.

But at least she did the right thing by taking responsibility for her actions. And doing it right away, rather than dragging out the process in order to get a better plea deal.

When was the last time you saw that happen?

Thanks to Patti Andre — who still hasn’t seen justice for the collateral-damage death of her bike riding brother — for the heads-up.

………

Virgil Avenue could be the latest Los Angeles Street to get a road diet, complete with five-foot bike lanes and wider, more walkable sidewalks.

And San Marino will discuss that city’s first bike lanes on Wednesday.

………

You’re invited to attend next week’s meeting of the Advocacy and Education Subcommittee of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, the city’s only official voice for cyclists. The meeting, with a very full agenda, takes place at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 18, at the IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave.

……..

Streetsblog offers a nice look at the work of HOLA, or Heart of LA, a non-profit bringing youth art to city bus benches.

What the story doesn’t mention, though, is that one of the members of their Board of Directors is Glenn Gritzner, who pleaded no-contest for the hit-and-run collision that left LA bike advocate Don Ward, aka Roadblock, lying injured in the street.

That was the case in which Ward famously tracked down the driver himself when the police were slow to take action.

………

Looks like you’re not going to get back that money you spent on Lance Armstrong’s book.

………

I’m told that Tuesday was the 130th anniversary of LA’s first organized bike race, as five riders took to a one-mile dirt track on their Penny-farthings in what is now Exposition Park on September 10th, 1883.

Twitter-er Walt Arrrrr kindly forwards photos of a couple of slightly more recent races.

I wonder what they would have thought about last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle Drag Race?

………

Finally, get out that old catcher’s uniform, as Calgary researchers say a mere helmet isn’t protection enough; you now need body armor. And LA’s Fox 11 (KTTV-11) goes trolling for bike hate, asking their Facebook followers what they think about sharing the road with cyclists; thanks to Michael McVerry for the link.

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