Tag Archive for Jerry Browned

Morning Links: Glendora cyclists buzzed by CHP officer; LA Times maps the most dangerous intersection

I received the following email from cyclist Ken Adams Sunday night, relating a dangerous encounter with a CHP officer who buzzed their bikes, then came back to argue his apparent misunderstanding of California bike law.

Re: Encounter with Maniac CHP Officer While Cycling on Glendora Mountain Road / Glendora Ridge Road

I’m trying to spread the word of my experience yesterday as far and wide as possible, because it was quite unbelievable and extremely dangerous.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the roads I mentioned, but they are very popular cycling routes, especially for Saturday morning rides.  I was riding with a friend, starting from his house in Glendora.  There was another training ride with about 9 people starting from a coffee shop in Glendora that I was aware of because of an event invite on Facebook.

We started our ride just after 8 am.  We started the climb on GMR at about 8:15. At approximately 8:30, about 2-3 miles North of Sierra Madre, a CHP SUV passed us dangerously close – probably about 2 feet away. Neither of us gave the incident much thought, as it happens frequently, although it is unexpected from law enforcement.  A few miles later, the same CHP vehicle was stopped and the officer had exited the vehicle.  He was standing on the shoulder and commented something to the effect “watch out, there are cars coming up”.  We turned and looked, but saw nothing.  We assumed he was referring to some type of event that was occurring, so we were extra vigilant.  We never saw any unusual vehicle traffic – in fact, traffic was unusually light for a weekend.

We continued riding, past East Fork road, where GMR becomes GRR.  Approximately 13 miles from the previous incident, the same CHP SUV passed us again, this time much more closely.  He was no more than 1 – 1.5 feet from us.  At that point, the road was straight, there were clear sight lines for at least ½ mile, no oncoming traffic and we were riding single file on the white line.  There are also no lane demarcation lines painted on the road, as the road is less than 2 lanes wide at that point.

We both raised our arms as he passed in a “what the heck” gesture.  The officer continued down the road, but we could see that in the distance he was turning around.  My friend started recording as he returned.  I raised my arm again in a “what the heck” gesture and the officer slowed and started lowering his window.  We stopped our bikes and an animated conversation ensued.  I have included a link to that video on my FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/ken.adams.9484/videos/1116460408367279/

Subsequent to this incident, we continued our ride.  We encountered additional riders and described our experience with the CHP SUV.  Incredibly, they told us they had experienced the same thing.  When I returned home, I went to the FB event page I mentioned earlier and posted about my experience, asking if anyone else on that ride had experienced an issue with a CHP SUV.  I got a number of responses from cyclists who had either witnessed or experienced brushes from this same CHP officer.

It is my opinion that this officer had some type of agenda yesterday.  He either has some type of antipathy towards cyclists, was trying to prove a point, or was trying to provoke a confrontation that he hoped would escalate to the use of force.  Even in a best case scenario, as you can ascertain from viewing the video, he is woefully misinformed about cycling laws and vehicle interactions with cyclists.  Most troubling to me was his cavalier attitude about endangering my life and the life of my friend.  He seemed completely unconcerned, not to mention excessively arrogant.

I filed a complaint on the CHP website yesterday, but I hardly trust the CHP to police themselves with this matter.  In case you’d like to read the content of that complaint, here is what I wrote:

I was riding my bicycle on Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road on the morning of 7/11/2015. At approximately 8:30 am, on Glendora Mountain Road, about 2 miles north of Sierra Madre, a CHP SUV with license plate number 1365395 passed me and the cyclist with whom I was riding with significantly less than 3 feet (I’d estimate about 2 feet). We continued riding and at approximately 9:55 am, on Glendora Ridge Road, approximately 13 miles from the previous incident, the same CHP SUV passed us again, barely missing us, by approximately 1 foot. The officer continued on for some time, then turned around and returned. We flagged him down and had a conversation with him. We have a video of this interaction, which I would be happy to share with you. I would like to point out that Glendora Ridge Road is a very desolate spot with minimal vehicular traffic. The road is less than 2 lanes wide and has no lane demarcation lines painted on the road. At the point we were passed by the CHP vehicle, there was no oncoming traffic, the road was straight with clear sight lines for at least 1/4 – 1/2 mile and we were riding single file on the white line. During our conversation, the officer claimed that he must drive on the right half of the road and that he “cannot violate a law to follow a law” when asked about California’s 3-foot cycling law. He seemed completely unconcerned when I pointed out that he had just needlessly endangered my life. In the course of the rest of my ride and subsequently via social media, I learned that this same officer passed numerous other cyclists dangerously close during this same time period on the same stretch of road.

This officer endangered my life twice, the life of the person I was cycling with twice, at least 4 other cyclists that I’ve been in contact with and who knows how many others. I suspect this type of aggressive and unsafe driving behavior is not what you expect from your officers. This incident has significantly affected my trust in the professionalism of the CHP as an organization. Cycling on California’s roads is sufficiently dangerous without our law enforcement officers adding to the danger. I sincerely hope that this officer receives some additional training on correct and safe vehicular interaction with cyclists, because it is clear that he currently is lacking in this area.

I would very much like to get the dash cam video from his tour yesterday, as I’m sure it clearly shows his two assaults on us, as well as the numerous other assaults on other cyclists.

This officer is a menace to cyclists and needs to be dealt with, swiftly and harshly IMO.  It is bad enough when Joe Citizen behaves this way.  It is completely unacceptable when law enforcement does.

………

The LA Times crunches the numbers, and identifies LA County’s most dangerous intersections.

According to the story, just 1% of intersections account for 25% of pedestrian collisions; chances are, those same intersections are just as dangerous for people on bicycles. And bike lanes could be part of the solution, along with other traffic calming efforts.

They also report LA Mayor Eric Garcetti will announce a Vision Zero plan next month to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city within 10 years.

The question is whether the city is really willing to make the hard choices necessary to get there.

After all, they can’t even get bike lanes promised in the unanimously approved 2010 bike plan installed on Westwood, Lankershim and North Figueroa, thanks to roadblocks thrown up by a few councilmembers.

………

Chris Froome keeps the lead in the Tour de France, as his Team Sky finishes just one second behind BMC in the team time trial; the injury riddled Orica-GreenEdge team tanks it. Cycling Weekly offers five talking points following Sunday’s ninth stage.

Chris Froome continues to lead, but Teejay van Garderen is just 12 seconds behind.

The New York Times looks at the unexpected success of Eritrean riders at the Tour, while WaPo explains why it matters.

Mayuko Hagiwara becomes the first Japanese woman to win a stage at the Giro Rosa. Meanwhile, it looks like the Tour de France’s La Course stiffed some of the women competing in last years race out of their already ridiculously low prize money.

And US women sweep the bronze mountain biking medals in the Pan Am Games. Am I the only one who didn’t know the Pan Am Games were even going on right now?

………

Local

A teenage boy was shot and killed while riding his bike in the Florence neighborhood of South LA. Something that’s happening far too frequently these days.

Bike Metro posts a photo of what looks like secure bike parking at the Beverly Connection shopping center on La Cienega.

 

State

Another bike rider has been hit by a car in Newport Beach; fortunately, he’s in stable condition. Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition urges you to sign a petition to preserve plans for a Class 1 bike trail through Peters Canyon.

CSU Fullerton police recover three stolen bikes off campus.

A San Diego cyclist’s life was changed forever by the alleged stoned driver who plowed into a group of riders on Fiesta Island last year.

Oceanside’s Strand will be widened, including a shoulder for cyclists and pedestrians, only 35 years after it was damaged in a storm.

San Francisco’s Sunday Streets visits some of the city’s sketchier neighborhoods in the Tenderloin.

A Sacramento bike advocate says the city is lagging behind in planning for bicycles.

A distracted driver killed a Sacramento father and critically injured his eight-year old son as they rode their bikes; the 25-year old driver was reading a text message when he drove into the bike lane they were in. Tragically, the victims were refugees from war-torn Afghanistan, and had only been in the city for a few weeks.

No Trespassing signs go up on a Modesto bike and pedestrian trail, presumably by mistake.

 

National

Redbook suggests riding a bike together could make you fall in love all over again.

My hometown considers joining other Colorado city’s in embracing bikeshare; the city already enjoys a successful bike lending library.

Someone apparently deliberately rigged a truck to crash into an Oklahoma bike shop.

Tragic news from Minnesota, as a small town ambulance crew responds to a bicycling collision, and finds their own boss fatally injured.

Fifteen-hundred cyclists ride 160 miles across the state of Indiana.

Connecticut bike riders no longer have to ride as far to the right as practicable, only as far to the right as they deem safe. We so need that wording change here.

New York is working to improve safety by reducing left turns. Banning left turns on busy streets would improve safety in LA, while allowing the near-ubiquitous center turn lanes to be reconfigured to make space for bike lanes. And yes, it is possible to avoid a left turn and still get where you’re going by just driving around the block.

The NYPD has issued a BOLO Alert for the hit-and-run bike rider who critically injured pedestrian last month.

 

International

A Winnipeg paper calls for approval of the city’s proposed bike and walking plan, despite the overt objections of some city councilors.

Londoners react to the latest subway strike by doubling usage of the city’s bikeshare system.

A new Brit bike satnav system attaches to your handlebars and lights up to indicate where to turn.

Once again, UK police stop a “silly cyclist” from riding on a major highway.

A British soldier tracks down the thief selling his stolen bike on Ebay, and finds the trail leads to a fellow soldier in his own barracks. Oops.

No offense, but who would confront 25 angry teenagers to stop a bike-jacking? Props to this British man for trying, but seriously, when you’re outnumbered 25 to three, just let the damn bike go, already.

Copenhagen may be a bicycling paradise, but it’s also a popular spot for bike thieves; a bike shop owner was arrested after being caught with hundreds of hot bikes.

Israel will construct a nearly 100 mile bicycling network, including 10 cycling expressways.

A writer for the New York Times gets busted for borrowing a bike from Japan’s unofficial bikeshare.

Bangkok officials clean up the streets to prepare for a bike event in honor of the queen’s birthday.

 

Finally…

Talk about crappy customer service; a Utah bike shop employee decks a deer that wandered into the shop. You can get Audi’s new limited edition racing bike, as long as you’re willing to travel to Dubai. And not a deer, presumably.

And a Kiwi website offers advice on how to deal with the bike haters on social media.

 

Gov. Brown tacitly endorses hit-and-run; LA finally says enough is enough when it comes to traffic deaths

Once again, California cyclists have been Jerry Browned.

And this time, we’re not alone.

Everyone who uses the state’s streets and highways has been put at risk by our severely out of touch governor, who may be one of the last people left who has no idea that hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions.

The state legislature gets it.

LA-area legislators Mike Gatto and Steven Bradford, and Corona’s Eric Linder — two Democrats and a Republican — successfully shepherded bills through both houses to address the rampant problem of drivers fleeing the scenes of collisions.

Although problem probably isn’t the right word. Crisis fits a lot better for a crime that afflicts nearly 50% of all collisions in the City of Los Angeles, and countless others throughout the state.

And yes, it is a crime.

One that kills and cripples far more people than mass shootings every year — even though that was something Governor Brown was quick to sign a bill to address.

Yet he apparently doesn’t think hit-and-run is a problem.

In vetoing four bills addressing hit-and-run — modestly increasing penalties, ensuring fleeing drivers lost their licenses for a mere six months, creating an Amber Alert-style warning system for the most serious cases and preventing wealthy drivers from buying their way out of criminal charges — he helped ensure that the crisis will remain one.

And that untold numbers of Californian’s will continue to bleed and die on our streets, since the governor sent a clear message — four, in fact — that it’s no big deal.

Thanks, Jerry.

Granted, he paid lip service to the seriousness of the problem (pdf). But then he went on to insist that current penalties are high enough.

Never mind that if penalties really were high enough, drivers would actually remain at the scene instead of driving home to sober up before turning themselves in. Or just pretending it never happened and hoping they don’t get caught.

And knowing they probably won’t.

Actions speak far louder than words. By vetoing all four widely varied bills — as well as another that would have increased penalties for vulnerable road users — Brown sent a clear message to heartless drivers to go ahead and flee.

Because even if you do get caught — which is less likely thanks to his veto of the Yellow Alert system — you’ll face a slap on the wrist, at best.

It took three tries to get a three-foot passing bill past his misguided veto pen. Each time weakening the bill by removing key features Brown objected to before he finally accepted a relatively toothless measure, with advocates making a mental note to strengthen it once he left office.

Which isn’t likely to be anytime soon, since he continues to enjoy a nearly two-thirds lead over his Republican challenger.

And that means, unless someone can manage to get the seriousness of the problem through his thick bald skull — hello AAA and CHP — we face another four years before we’ll finally have a new governor who may decide that too many people have been killed and maimed by cowardly motorists unwilling to face the consequences of their actions.

Then again, if his opponent in this year’s election, Neel Kashkari, were to come out strongly in favor of actually doing something about hit-and-run, he might change a few votes.

Including mine.

………

At least there’s better news from Los Angeles.

I was told over a year ago by someone involved in the process that the city’s new mobility plan would call for reducing — though not eliminating — traffic deaths. And that the words Vision Zero would appear nowhere in the document.

What a difference a year makes.

Whether it was the influence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, or new LADOT head Seleta Reynolds already putting her stamp on it, the just released document calls for eliminating traffic deaths in the city by 2025.

The new strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, reflects a fundamental rethinking of our streets, from the traditional focus on automotive throughput — moving as many vehicles through a given intersection as quickly as possible — to ensuring that everyone on those streets gets home safely.

And that, instead of destroying our neighborhoods, our streets will finally become the key to revitalizing them.

After years of never uttering the phrase — despite nearly ceaseless prodding from myself, the LACBC and others — city officials have finally joined New York and San Francisco in committing to a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.

Make no mistake. It won’t be easy.

In fact, as others have pointed out, it may be impossible.

But the key to Vision Zero is that it is a process as much as a goal. What matters are the steps taken to reduce the risk of traffic deaths, from calming traffic and reducing speed limits to improving crosswalks and bikeways. As well as increasing enforcement and education for everyone on the streets, and studying traffic deaths to determine why they happened and how they could have been avoided.

All based on the realization that even one fatality is one too many.

About time.

Or course, there’s more to the plan. As Streetsblog put it,

There’s plenty more in the plan that Streetsblog readers will love. We can’t get to all of it in this short article, but the plan includes: neighborhood traffic calming, bike share, car share, dedicated bus lanes, an improved bikeway network, transportation demand management, reducing disabled parking placard abuse, and plenty more.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Eric Bruins calls it “an ambitious yet achievable framework for the department over the next three years of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s term” and commends “LADOT’s new mission [which] prioritizes safe and accessible options for Angelenos of all ages and abilities, no matter their chosen mode of transportation.”

Then again, as bold as the plan is, it’s doomed to failure as long as individual councilmembers such as Koretz, LaBonge and Cedillo can opt out of already approved safety plans to ensure the streets in their districts remain dangerously auto-focused.

In other words is, we have to find a way to protect our nascent Vision Zero from elected officials with zero.

Vision, that is.

Morning Links: LA bike rider is deliberately buzzed by Metro bus driver for legally riding in the traffic lane

Last year, Metro proclaimed that every lane is a bike lane, to the applause of many in the bicycling community.

Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to tell some of their drivers.

In an all too common complaint, Twitter user topomodesto posted video of a close pass and brake check by a Metro bus driver apparently attempting to punish him for riding exactly where he was supposed to in the middle of the lane.

Personally, I had no idea bus drivers had been deputized to enforce their own mistaken interpretation of the law. Or that at least some seem incapable of remembering the message that was proudly plastered on the backs of their buses such a short time back.

Topomodesto reports he’s filed a complaint over the incident. But also notes that he and other riders have never heard back after filing similar complaints in the past, so he has no idea how seriously Metro takes them.

Unfortunately, no one outside of Metro does.

Complaints against drivers are considered personnel matters, so no one other than the driver and his or her supervisors are ever told the resolution of the matter.

Or if it was ever resolved, period.

Short of filing legal action — and this would appear to be a perfect test case for the city’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance — there seems to be no way to find out.

Which really needs to change.

Because we have a right to know if something, anything, was done in response to a deliberately threatening driver. Even if they don’t actually identify the driver.

And Metro’s well-intentioned attempts to promote bike riding will be meaningless if we have to ride in fear of self-appointed vigilante bus jockeys.

……..

Before you ride to Thursday’s public forum on the North Figueroa road diet and bike lanes with the Bike Oven and the Eastside Bike club, catch up on LADOT’s presentation on the subject from last month’s community meeting.

Meanwhile, it turns out the LA Fire Department did not determine that the North Fig bike lanes would slow response times, despite what a fire captain suggested last month. In fact, it wasn’t even studied by the department.

So why did he imply it was — and would?

……..

Local

The LAPD is looking for bike riders to start a volunteer bicycle patrol team in the northwest San Fernando Valley.

A West San Fernando Valley website looks at last weekend’s COLT ride.

KPCC’s annual Olympic Day considers the rise of bicycling on June 23rd; free, but RSVP required.

Despite what this story says, Santa Monica is already designated as a Bike Friendly Community, but they’re trying to certify more Bicycle Friendly Businesses.

 

State

A reporter for Marketplace completes the AIDS Lifecycle Ride.

Good for them. The family of fallen cyclist Paul Lin is suing Newport Beach, alleging that a dangerous intersection at San Joaquin Hills Road and Marguerite Ave was responsible for his death.

Evidently, it’s not just LA. The Voice of San Diego looks at that city’s hit-and-run epidemic.

A Bay Area bike safety instructor is recovering after being rear-ended by a distracted driver.

Sacramento police nail a butt ugly bike thief with a bait bike.

 

National

The bike industry wants tariffs reduced on imported bicycles since bikes have a positive effect on the environment.

A Massachusetts cyclist luckily lands in the back seat of a convertible after being hit by the turning car.

Bike shops may be collateral damage to the popularity of New York’s Citi Bike program, even though the opposite appears to be true in DC.

Unbelievable. A new three-foot passing law is approved in West Virginia, which also requires motorists to give an audible signal when passing a rider. Yes, they want every driver who passes a bike to honk or shout, which is about the most distracting and dangerous thing they could do.

Velonews says loyal Lance lieutenant George Hincapie’s new book rationalizes his doping choices; I’ve often wondered why the still popular rider seems to get a free pass on the subject.

The price of that $20 cardboard bike rose to $295 before dropping to $95 plus shipping, then nothing as the business collapsed.

 

International

Caught on video: A London cyclist is searching for the rider who crashed into him in a bike-on-bike hit-and-run.

A tragic reminder that bike-on-ped collisions are dangerous for both parties, as a UK scientist is killed when her bike collides with a pedestrian.

One third of all Czech cyclists blamed for traffic collisions had been drinking; no word on how that compares to the rate of drunk driving collisions in the country.

 

Finally…

An Indiana cyclist is doored. By a porta-potty. Here’s the latest bike-themed music video.

And no. Just… no.

 

Seriously, don’t be a two-wheeled Jerry Browning jerk, and your Morning Links

It’s bad enough when drivers pass far to close.

It’s another thing entirely when the danger comes from being buzzed by other bike riders who really should know better. Especially when there’s no damn reason for it.

In the first case captured in the above video, a rider blew by with no warning whatsoever, apparently  because he couldn’t be bothered to squeeze his brakes long enough to announce his presence and make a safe pass. Had I moved more than a few inches off my line — which would have happened as soon as I thought it was safe to pass the rider ahead — we would have collided.

And probably ended up beneath the cars to our left.

The second rider evidently felt the need to risk my safety by remaining firmly inside the frequently ignored solid yellow no-passing line, brushing by as close as humanly possible without making actual physical contact.

If I had even turned my head to look behind me, she would have hit me. She must have recognized my obvious skill and was confident in my ability to hold my line.

Right.

So let’s get this straight.

What passes in the peloton doesn’t play on the street. Or the bike path, for that matter, which tends to be over populated with the least skilled riders and pedestrians,.

If you’re going pass another human being — on a bike or otherwise — give them at least an arms-length passing distance, if not the full three feet you’d expect from a motorist.

If for any reason you can’t give sufficient passing distance or if there’s any danger of conflict, call if out before you pass. A simple “On your left” can avoid most problems, and is often, though not always, greeted with a thank you and a move to the right.

Which is exactly what I would have done if the woman on the bike path had just announced her damn presence.

And if the guy on the street had yelled it out before blowing by, at least I would have known not to move left, which I was about to do.

While I’m no fan of bike bells, even that helps by offering a friendly announcement that you’re there, if not where you’re going.

And lets everyone know an angel just got it’s wings.

Always pass on the left whenever possible, and never undercut a rider by passing in the door zone he or she is carefully avoiding. If a car door happens to swing open, it could knock you into them, and you could both end up under passing traffic.

Or better yet, just treat other riders the same way you want drivers to treat you. And simply don’t pass until it’s safe to do so.

Better to lose a few seconds off your Strava time than spend a few hours in the ER.

Or force someone else to.

Update: In the comments below, Chuck questioned whether the first rider was really as close as he seemed, noting he passed the rider in front of me at over an arms length.

While he goes by far too fast in the video to tell just how close he is, this still should give a better idea. Clearly, not as close as the near-shoulder brushing rider on the bike path, but still too close for safety, let alone comfort.

Especially at that speed.

Way too close for comfort.

Way too close for comfort.

………

Nice.

Some walking — or in this case, rolling — human scum used sleeping homeless people as props for BMX stunts in Downtown’s Skid Row.

I don’t care how much of a self-absorbed jackass you may be, show some respect for other human beings. Especially those less fortunate than you.

………

Abbott Kinney gets a pair of surprise bike corrals; LADOT Bike Blog offers full details on the design and construction, while Streetsblog says the city is taking applications for more. I expect rioting from parking-challenged Venice motorists over the loss of two spaces.

Even so, Flying Pigeon suffers from infrastructure envy.

Meanwhile, the needlessly embattled MyFigueroa project is gaining key support from neighborhood councils, and is due back before the city council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee any day. Hopefully, we’ll get some advance notice of the hearing so supporters can actually show up.

At least one candidate for Glendale city council supports bicycling.

Bike Long Beach invites you to join them for a low-speed Sunday morning bike ride to remember city leader and bike advocate Mark Bixby, killed in a plane crash three years ago Sunday. A more permanent memorial to Bixby is the city he helped transform, where a downtown cycle track has boosted bicycling 33% while reducing bike-involved collisions 80%.

Outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky looks at Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable; has it really been four years since so many cyclists showed up for the first one?

If you need inspiration, you’ll find it here, as the Orange County Register talks to a recumbent-riding Wounded Warrior who’s not letting cancer kick her ass. Thanks to the Register for sharing this one.

Riverside’s long-debated Brockton Ave road diet and bike lanes finally gets a final approval.

Five-foot wide bike lanes are coming to Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas, while green bike lanes are coming to a deadly intersection in Goleta.

More evidence that Caltrans is hopelessly locked in the auto-centric past as they propose widening Highway 1 to six lanes in Pacifica to possibly save 5 minutes drive time 20 years from now. But at least they did include bike-friendly 10-foot wide shoulders in the plan.

Does San Francisco’s MTA spend more on Post Its than bike projects?

More on the unanimous committee approval of AB 1532, which would suspend licenses and create minimum sentences for any hit-and-run.

Two Utah bike commuters were killed by a driver who apparently didn’t see them. No one will ever be safe on our roads until that’s an admission of guilt instead of a Get Out of Jail Free card.

An off-duty Chicago cop who drove away after hitting a cyclist gets one whole year probation and 30 days community service.

New York firefighters will ride 18-days from Ground Zero to the Navy Seal Museum in Florida, towing an I-beam from the World Trade Center.

Very cool bike murals from Buenos Aires. I wonder if I could fit an entire wall in my carry on? Then again, I have not idea how I’d get to Argentina to begin with.

An Ontario Canada triathlete gets $75,000 restitution for taking a beating from a road raging driver, yet, as usual, no jail time for his attacker.

Lots of people swear at cyclists, but this guy may have been going for the record as a road raging Brit driver is caught on video swearing at a cyclist 25 times in just 35 seconds.

Finally, stealing a bike is nothing unusual. Stealing a penny-farthing for a drunken Christmas Day ride home, on the other hand, is.

For once, California cyclists don’t get Jerry Browned. And finally get a three-foot passing law.

Yes, we won.

But just what did we win?

Monday afternoon, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he’d signed AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act, after vetoing similar three-foot passing laws in each of the last two years.

So we should be happy, right?

Yes.

Sort of.

For the first time, California drivers will have a clearly defined passing distance, rather than the current requirement that they pass at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle being overtaken. Which in the real world, too often passes for anything that doesn’t actually result in contact with the rider.

No, really.

More than once I’ve caught up with a driver who buzzed me at a dangerously close distance. And the response has been a sarcastic “Well, I didn’t hit you, did I?”

Well, no.

Just scared the crap out of me, taking all my self-control not to overreact and swerve into the passing car or some other object. Not to mention risking getting sucked into the side of a larger vehicle by its slipstream.

Sort of like the school bus that passed me at speed at less than an arm’s length distance on San Vicente Monday afternoon. Or maybe this pass by a Big Blue Bus that barely did.

Pass, that is.

And I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, at the Santa Monica bus company to give enough of a damn to call me back.

Now drivers will know anything less than three feet is too damn close.

Though some would question that.

Some lawmakers who opposed the bill, such as Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said it would be difficult to estimate a 3-foot distance while driving, especially when cyclists also might be swerving to avoid road hazards.

That’s kind of the point, though. We need that three feet of space so we can swerve to avoid road hazards without plowing into the vehicle next to us.

Anyone convicted of violating the law will face a $35 base fine, plus fees that will take it up to $233, or a $220 base fine if a collision resulting in injuries to the rider occurs.

The problem is, unless a driver actually does make contact with a cyclist, the law is virtually unenforceable.

The bill includes a provision allowing drivers to pass at less than three-feet if they slow down and pass only when it won’t endanger a cyclist’s safety.

In other words, the same sort of vague, virtually unenforceable standard we have now.

Still, it’s worth celebrating simply because we’ve joined the other 22 states and the District of Columbia with a clearly defined standard. And unlike last year’s bill, this one applies whether you’re in the same lane as the vehicle passing you or in a separate bike lane or parking lane.

Which should help stop those drivers who buzz you with two wheels on, or in, the bike lane while you’re riding in it.

Key word being should.

So let’s give credit to former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for pushing for a third attempt to pass this bill. And Gardena Assemblymember Steven Bradford for shepherding this law through the legislature, even if it was severely watered down from the brilliantly written bill he originally proposed.

Including removal of the much-needed provision allowing drivers to briefly cross the center line in order to safely pass cyclists with a minimum three-foot distance. In other words, legalizing exactly what many drivers already do, despite the fears our governor expressed in vetoing last year’s bill.

Like Glendale’s Mike Gatto, who took on the successful fight to extend the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases, Bradford has shown himself as a skilled legislator willing to go to the mat for bicyclists. Both deserve our support, and will be worth watching — and working with — as we go forward.

We should also thank the strange mix of supporters who backed the bill, from Calbike and CABO, to traditionally bike-unfriendly AAA, which helped kill the last two bills.

And we owe a begrudging round of thanks to Jerry Brown for not going down in history as the only governor to strike out when it comes to bike safety legislation; it’s enough that he’ll be remembered by bike riders for being the only governor, besides Rick Perry of Texas, to veto a three-foot passing law once, let alone twice.

As the bill’s author put it,

“I sincerely thank the Governor for signing this commonsense measure to protect cyclists on our roads,” Bradford said. “When cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy. This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users.”

Which begs the question, do we now stop referring to dangerously close passes as being Jerry Browned? Or is a single signature not enough to overcome the harm he’s already done?

The law takes effect a year from now, on September 16, 2014.

Which means things should start to get a little better then. If we can all survive that long.

And once Brown leaves office, we can work on strengthening the law and giving it some real teeth.

Update: Bike rider killed in hit-from-behind collision; 5th cyclist killed in Lake Elsinore in past three years

We ended last week with a fallen cyclist.

And tragically, we start the week with another.

Just two days after James “Mitch” Waller was killed and another rider seriously injured when they were run down from behind while riding in Laguna Canyon Road near Laguna Beach, word comes of yet another Southern California bicycling fatality.

And like the others, she died after her bike was struck from behind.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 38-year old Lake Elsinore resident Lucia Ruano was riding south on Grand Avenue at Marvella Lane in Lake Elsinore when she was hit by a silver Ford F150 pickup at 8:37 am. She was pronounced dead just 35 minutes later at the Inland Valley Medical Center.

A street view indicates what looks like a rough shoulder there.

As too often happens with fatal collisions in the Inland area, there’s just too little information in the story to give a clear idea what happened. However, a comment on the Lake Elsinore – Wildomar Patch site offered a second-hand report that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, trapping the bike underneath.

And yes, the witness says the victim was wearing a helmet; from the sound of it, it probably didn’t matter.

Depending on exactly where the collision occurred, the driver may have drifted off the roadway, or Ruano may have entered the traffic lane to avoid an obstacle on the shoulder. Or the driver may have hit her while turning onto Marvella.

This is the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County; that compares to 29 and five, respectively, this time last year. Remarkably, it’s also the fifth cycling fatality in tiny Lake Elsinore, population 53,000, since 2010, and the second on Grand Avenue.

And if that doesn’t indicate a serious problem, I don’t know what does.

Meanwhile, bicycling fatalities are nearly 45% ahead of last year in the seven-county SoCal area just halfway into the year. And this comes as we head into the 4th of July weekend, which is traditionally one of the most dangerous times of year for area bike riders; last year seven cyclists were killed within a week of Independence Day.

One death is one too many; 42 in just six months is an obscenity.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Lucia Ruano and her family. 

Thanks to Zak and Walter Lars for the heads-up.

Update: Call this one a homicide. 

According to the Press-Enterprise, CHP officers arrested the driver, 40-year old Lake Elsinore resident Jay Dustin Sorrell, an hour after the collision for investigation of drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to authorities, Sorrell allowed his truck to drift onto the right shoulder, where he hit Ruano’s bike at around 40 mph, killing her. 

Yes, he was too drunk to drive at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. 

And now an innocent woman is dead because of it.

Update: Fatal bike collision on OC’s Laguna Canyon Road; victim former City Manager of Westminster

I’ve received a number of unconfirmed reports that a bike rider was killed this morning in a collision on Laguna Canyon Road in Orange County.

One person reports driving by the collision site and seeing a body covered up by police, following what appeared to be a collision between a bike and a minivan. Another report places the site near Highway 133.

More details as they become available.

Update: The Orange County Register has just confirmed that two cyclists were struck by a Toyota Corolla around 8:50 am, one fatally. 

They place the site of the collision on the southbound 133 Freeway (Laguna Canyon Road) north of the 73 toll road, just outside the Laguna Beach city limits. A comment from Mike puts it halfway between the 405 and the 73; a satellite view shows a wide shoulder at that point.

According to the paper, the driver remained at the scene; unfortunately, any other details are hidden behind their paywall.

Mike reports that the car had a crushed windshield; combined with the wide shoulder and relatively straight highway with limited access points, that would suggest a hit-from-behind collision.

This is the 41st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County.

Update 2: More details are coming in. According to the Laguna Beach Independent, the victim killed in today’s collision was a 53-year old Mission Viejo man, while the injured rider was a 48-year old man from Fullerton.

The Orange County Coroner’s office identifies the victim as James Mitchell Waller, and places the time of death at 8:48 am; a comment below says he was the former City Manager of the City of Westminster.

The surviving victim, is identified below as Kevin Beach, fleet superintendent for the city. He was taken to Mission Hospital; a comment says he is awake and alert, and no longer in critical condition.

According to Laguna Beach Patch, the 25-year old driver was traveling at 60 mph when she drifted onto the should of the road and hit both riders. She was questioned at the scene, and no arrest has been made at this time; alcohol use is not suspected.

A driver following shortly behind the Corolla witnessed the collision and stayed to aid the victims.

I was at the scene this morning on my way to work, two cars back from the accident when it happened and saw it go down. The two riders were struck from behind by a small white corolla-type car going about 60-65 mph (not sure why that car drifted into the shoulder). The rest of us who were there did what we could to help by directing traffic, calling 911, and talking with the conscious rider, who was responsive but in shock, while the other who died was non-responsive nor breathing right after the accident. Paramedics arrived around 5 minutes later and pronounced the fatality. The driver of the white car stayed (thankfully) and those of us who were there gave statements to the police. The previous post was correct – they were riding black/white Specialized frames. I am still in shock from seeing the accident and am praying for the families of all involved, including the woman driving the white car.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for James Waller, and all his family and loved ones. And prayers and best wishes for Kevin Beach for a full and speedy recover. 

Update 3: The OC Weekly offers a good profile of Waller, including his career with the Westminster Police Department. 

Brit twit tweets she hit cyclist, bike rider attacked on L.A. River path, cyclists may get Jerry Browned again

In today’s lead story, a common sense-challenged motorist is in deep doo doo with British authorities after she tweeted about hitting a cyclist.

And claimed it was her right, since the bike rider doesn’t pay the country’s road tax. Which was actually eliminated roughly 80 years earlier.

“Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way – he doesn’t even pay road tax!,” “#Bloodycyclists.”

And yes, hit-and-run is a crime in the UK, just like it is here. Especially if you confess to it online.

Thanks to everyone who forwarded this one to me.

………

The LAPD promises to step up their mostly non-existent patrols along the L.A. River bike path after a Glendale man is violently attacked in an apparent gang assault in order to steal his bike.

I’ve long argued that L.A.’s separated bike paths, most of which are hidden from public view along river banks, should be regularly patrolled by uniformed bike cops to deter crime.

Not that anyone has listened, of course.

………

Rails to Trails says cyclists are about to get Jerry Browned once again, as our anti-bike governor threatens to cut funding for the state’s Recreational Trails Program; thanks to Allan Alessio for the forward.

………

In an absolutely disgusting column, a Denver writer apparently assumes she is the only bicyclist who observes traffic regulations.

And blames riders like you and me for making motorists mad enough to kill — even though the case that inspired her hateful diatribe involved a cyclist killed by drunken, wrong way, though admittedly bike-hating, driver.

Using the same irrational logic she employs, domestic violence victims should also be blamed for inciting violence by angering their attackers. And while we all agree sexual assault is wrong, it must be the victims’ fault for wearing their skirts too short or jeans too tight, right?

I though we’d outgrown that kind of offensively misguided thinking decades ago.

Except, evidently, when it involves people on bikes.

If a driver attacks another human being using a motor vehicle as a weapon, it’s because there’s a dangerous psychopath behind the wheel.

Not because a bicyclist — or every damn bicyclist on the road — run stop signs.

………

A more rational writer responds to the same case by suggesting that when motorists start to obey all traffic laws and regulations, then — and only then — can they start getting pissed at cyclists.

As I recall, someone once said something similar about those without sin casting the first stone.

Naw, that’s just crazy talk.

………

Rising BMC rider Tejay Van Garderen wins the Amgen Tour of California; turns out he’s from my hometown, though he went to the wrong one of the other high schools. And three-time ToC winner Levi Leipheimer hangs it up after his recent doping ban.

………

The Buffalo News reports that a bike riding upstate New York boy thanked the paramedics who saved him after one of the most gruesome freak injuries I’ve heard or read about.

Caide recalled the accident – in detail.

“My friend bumped into the back of my bike tire, and I fell,” Caide said. “He flipped over me, and that’s when the right brake handle went into the right side of my stomach, and then my intestines came out.”

Something tells me I’m going to remember those last six words for a very long time.

………

Join Figueroa for All in fighting for bike lanes in Northeast L.A. Los Angeles gets its first commuter bike trains, which may not be what you think. Bikeside comes back to life to predict the winner of Tuesday’s election; oddly, I made pretty much the same prediction on my own. UCLA hosts its first bike-powered concert this Friday. A San Pedro driver complains about taking 45 minutes to drive his kids half a mile to school, as drivers and bike riders counter-protest a recent road diet; hint to driver — your kids could walk that in 15 minutes, tops.

Beware the handlebar-basketed beach cruiser-riding bike path stalker in Rancho Santa Margarita. Temecula is now officially bike friendly. San Diego cyclists may get concrete barriers along a freeway where a car left the road and killed a bicyclist on a separated bike path. Guess Hollywood won’t be filming there either, as San Diego’s Nimitz Blvd goes green thanks to newly painted bike lanes. Our neighbor to the south will honor 95-year old cycling legend Gordy Shields. A bike riding San Jose teenager is killed on his way to school, the ninth cyclist or pedestrian killed in the city this year; thanks to Rebecca Wong for the heads-up. Remarkably, a six-year old Rohnert Park bike rider survives being run over by a multi-ton garbage truck; police may blame the victim, but there’s something seriously wrong when a driver can’t even see what’s directly in front of his truck.

Outside offers bike commuting essentials; if you ask me, the only real essentials are shorts or pants, without which you’re liable to get arrested. Seven reasons conservatives should embrace bikes — if you can find an actual conservative these days, that is. Maybe what you really need is a self-monitoring helmet complete with accelerometer and wireless communications capabilities; or you could just, you know, ride a bike. A new study suggests you’re not as visible at night as you think you are. Who could have predicted that a New Mexico woman who got a slap on the wrist for killing a cyclist in 2010 would be arrested for DUI and careless driving just three years later? A visiting MIT scientist from Japan is killed riding her bike in Boston. A passing New Jersey bike rider saves a family from their flaming home. New York’s bike share program is based on ideas from around the world; predictions of carnage when it opens next week are just a distraction. A New York writer astutely notes that bikes that heavy and slow aren’t likely to terrorize anyone. Georgia looks to lower their rate of bike deaths, something that should be top of the agenda everywhere.

A Toronto man is killed trying to perform stunts on a bike share bike. So much for cycling being clean these days, as French rider Sylvain Georges is the latest to be busted for doping.

Finally, boldly go where most of us have enough sense not to go; no, seriously, I’m sure you wouldn’t look like a total geek in your new Star Trek cycling jersey. And it’s not quite warp drive, but a French cyclist set a new record of 163 mph on a rocket powered mountain bike, just slightly faster than my best speed, albeit without the rocket power; thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the link.

Update: Carlsbad cyclist killed in hit-from-behind collision

Damn it.

This is not what I wanted to write about tonight. And not the news I wanted to come home to today.

I wanted to write about yet another amazing CicLAvia, marred only by the decision to use just half of the Venice Blvd roadway, resulting in massive bike back-ups from the once-again grossly underestimated crowd.

Anyone who thinks less than 200,000 bike riders turned out to enjoy the day probably wasn’t there; personally, I’d put the number at over 250,000.

Well over.

And I wanted to tell you about a friend I met along the way, and finally unveil the identity of one of this site’s leading contributors.

But all that will have to wait.

Because we have to add yet another name to the growing Southern California body count. Or we would, except once again, the name has been withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

And once again, there’s almost no information available, despite virtually identical reports from four different sources.

According to the reports, two cyclists were riding north in the bike lane on El Camino Real north of La Costa Ave in Carlsbad around 7:40 this morning when one of the riders was rear-ended by an apparently driverless and apparently invisible vehicle, since there’s no description of the driver or the car.

There’s also no description of where the riders were positioned on the road, or any conditions that may have contributed to the collision, despite a number of apparent witnesses. Although that doesn’t stop some of the commenters from drawing their own conclusions.

The victim suffered a head injury, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A commenter on the local Patch website describes him as a La Costa Valley resident, who leaves behind a wife and three young children.

This is the 18th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Diego since the first of the year.

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

Update: The victim has been identified as 45-year old Eric Ringdahl of Carlsbad; thanks to Phillip Young for the heads-up. Comments below describe the vehicle as a red or maroon sedan, possibly a Corolla. The driver remained at the scene — and how sad is it that something like that even has to be noted? A comment from Stone says the weather was clear and traffic light at the time of the collision, suggesting the victim should have been clearly visible.

Update 2: I’ve just been forwarded an email from the Traffic Division Commander with the Carlsbad police, which confirms what many have been saying, that the driver fell asleep at the wheel coming home from working the night shift. However, he indicates that the driver was a man, rather than a woman, as virtually everyone had assumed, myself included.

According to the Commander, there was no indication of impairment and no intent to cause harm or break the law, which eliminates the possibility of serious criminal charges such as assault or homicide. However, he says the collision will result in a lengthy investigation by the Carlsbad Police and the San Diego Medical Examiner’s office, and that the results of that investigation will be forwarded to the county DA for review and possible prosecution.

And that’s one of the major problems with the California Vehicle Code.

There is, to the best of my knowledge, no specific legal requirement for motorists to remain alert behind the wheel — let alone awake. Unlike many other states, there is no blanket prohibition against careless driving. We assume that all drivers are required to be alert and aware of road conditions at all times, to operate their vehicles carefully and safely. And most of all, to not kill anyone.

But that’s not necessarily the case.

Thanks to Chris Menjou for the information.

Update 3: The San Diego Union-Tribune confirms that the male driver told police he had fallen asleep while driving home form work and drifted into the bike lane, where he struck Ringdahl. And despite finger pointing in the comments here and elsewhere, the police say he was wearing a helmet and “riding properly in the bike lane” when he was killed.

The paper says it should take somewhere around a month to complete the Medical Examiner’s investigation, at which time the driver could be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, if they find the crash was caused by the driver’s carelessness or inattention. 

In addition, according to a comment from Kim, a CaringBridge page has been set up to raise funds for Ringdahl’s family.

Thanks to Philip Young for the heads-up.

Antelope Valley cyclists barely survive drunken assault; Apple Valley rider killed March 1st

So not funny.

Around 9 am on Sunday, a group of Antelope Valley cyclists riding in a paceline were deliberately assaulted in what the drunken perpetrators apparently considered a prank.

On that got that must have been that much more amusing to them when the driver, reportedly over twice the legal limit despite the early hour, misjudged the distance and Jerry Browned the riders, sending six of them tumbling to the pavement.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Although another inch or two could have made the difference between a handful of minor injuries and a mass homicide.

I’ll let Kevin Walsh, one of the riders involved, tell the story, which he posted on his Facebook page. And yes, his story has been confirmed by an item in Monday’s Antelope Valley Press, which I can’t link to since it’s hidden out of site behind a paywall.

I’m thanking my guardian angel…again…way too close to tragedy. Met 6 friends at Ave L and 20 St West for today’s ride. Today’s cast of characters were Roger, Bob, Randy, Javier, Scott and Brian.

I was hoping for a recovery ride after yesterday’s hard effort in the wind. Brian was the only other rider who rode the 70 miles yesterday. Brian was also feeling the effects of yesterday’s ride. Randy rode the 44 mile loop. The plan was to ride up Godde Hill Rd (60 St West) to get out of the wind which was again strong today. (FOX@8AM: 56deg; WNW22G29. Poppy Park@9AM: 57deg; W29G44. FOX@11AM: 63deg; W30G36.) Then make a right on Elizabeth Lake Rd (ELR) to Munz Ranch Rd back to the valley floor and get pushed home by the wind. Bob and Roger were going to 3 Points.

The 7 of us were riding in a paceline on ELR just west of Bouquet Cyn Rd when a car suddenly sideswiped all of us except Roger who just rotated to the back of the group. I was at the front of the paceline on my aerobars when (seemed like instantaneously) I was hit by something hard on my left cheek-bone, felt a car brush my shoulder, heard yelling and crashing sounds behind me. I don’t know how I didn’t crash. After the car passed me, it drifted further into the shoulder and kept going. We were doing about 20mph, the car about 40mph.

Roger saw the entire incident unfold. Javier and Randy went down hard (3rd and 4th in line). Randy slid a long way on his backside – lots of road rash. Javier went down hard on his hip – very fortunate that he was ok. Scott who was behind Randy was hit on his ass by the car’s mirror and the passenger’s hand and arm. He doesn’t know how he didn’t crash. Roger saw the passenger put his arm out of the window. The mirror broke off and remained at the scene of the accident. The car also hit the back side of Brian – he also didn’t crash.

I called 911 – response was very fast. The paramedics checked out Randy then took him to the hospital for observation. He was obviously in shock. Turns out Randy is ok and back home. The Sheriffs got all of our personal info and each of our accounts of what happened. We all said that it was a small black sedan like a Ford Focus or a Honda. Other Sheriffs came then left to look for the car. Javier got picked up by his mom who was rightfully upset.

Before all of our info and accounts were taken, the car was found at a house in the hills above Elizabeth Lake golf course. The sheriff came back and wanted 2 of us to go with him to officially ID the car (easy without the sideview mirror). Roger and Scott went. The perps were two 20-year olds and not too bright. One of the 20-year olds had a cut above his eye. The 1st question the officer asked him was “How did you get that cut?” The reply was a bicycle mirror. Not sure what the officer then said but essentially it was “say no more” and they were both handcuffed.

It took awhile for Roger and Scott to return to the accident scene where we were. The sheriff then wanted 2 more of us to go to the house for official ID so Bob and Brian went. We then found out that the passenger gave a full confession. After drinking all night they went to Palmdale to McDonalds for some food. On the way back they saw us and thought it would “be fun” to slap the back side of us cyclists. The driver being drunk swerved too close and wound up hitting us. Over an hour after the incident, the driver was tested at 0.16 – twice the legal limit. So, the driver is facing 3 felony counts: 1) Assault with a deadly weapon with injuries; 2) Hit and run; 3) DUI. The passenger is facing 1 felony – not sure if it’s assault with a deadly weapon or “hit and run”.

After more than a couple of hours, we finally headed home. Bob and Roger continued west to go down Munz; Brian, Scott and I turned around and rode to 25 St West to get back home on 30W. After Scott got home and took a shower, he noticed that not only did he get hit by the mirror but he had an arm and hand imprint (all 5 fingers) on his butt. He’s sending a picture to the deputy tomorrow.

Don’t know what else to say except that I’m very thankful that no one was seriously hurt (could’ve been so much worse), the perps were caught, and justice will be served!

This is an extreme example of the sort of harassment cyclists have to endure every day, virtually everywhere. It’s not unusual for riders, especially women, to be slapped or grabbed while riding, or to be deliberately startled by honking, run off the road or have objects thrown at them.

If this occurred in the City of Los Angeles, or a number of other cities or counties that have adopted a version of L.A.’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance, the victims would be able to sue for actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher, plus triple damages and legal fees.

As it stands, they could only sue for actual damages, which are likely to be minimal — if they can find a lawyer willing to take the case.

Which is why the law needs to be adopted on a statewide basis. Now.

We need to put a stop to this sort of thing before someone gets killed.

………

Unfortunately, this one flew under the radar last month, as happens too easily in Southern California’s far-flung corners.

According to the High Valley Daily Press, 56-year old Kevin Olin of Apple Valley was killed on March 1st while riding in the bike lane on Apple Valley Road near Quantico Road.

The rider was rear-ended by the driver of a Chevy Tahoe pickup travelling in the same direction, and died at the scene. According a press release from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, inattention may have been a factor in the collision — presumably on the part of the driver.

A regular cyclist in the area, Olin was the much loved maintenance director at Our Lady of the Desert Catholic church, and leaves behind his wife, four children and some grandchildren.

His death raises the total number of Southern California bicycling fatalities this year to 16; it’s also the second cycling death in San Bernardino County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kevin Olin and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to JL for the heads-up.

………

Frequent contributor Rick Risemberg — aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation — forwards an incredible story of yet another killer driver walking off with a bare caress on the wrist.

Let alone a slap.

The Press-Enterprise reports that Juan Zacarias Tzun was sentenced to just 90 days for the death of a motorcycle-riding Moreno Valley Sheriff’s Dispatcher. After credit for time served, that means he’ll be subject to just another 34 days in jail.

This, despite driving without a license and two previous convictions for drunken driving. But because Tzun was sober at the time of the collision, and wasn’t speeding or driving distracted, he was only charged with a single misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter count.

His victim, on the other hand, received the death penalty.

And that’s the problem with our current laws.

Driving without a license, for whatever reason, should automatically elevate any additional driving offense to a felony. And a conviction for DUI should be counted as a first strike towards any future traffic offenses, automatically increasing the penalty in order to get dangerous drivers off the roads — hopefully, before they kill someone.

And politics aside, we’ve got to find a way to legalize undocumented drivers so they can be licensed and insured, and held accountable for their actions behind the wheel.

………

Finally, Matt Baume sends this painful reminder to ride carefully, and watch out for hidden road obstructions. And no, it wasn’t the massive pothole that got him.

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