Tag Archive for Jerry Browned

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.

Fairness and objectivity go out the window in NELA newspaper’s fight against North Figueroa bike lanes

So much for fairness.

Or facts.

A local NELA newspaper offers a misguided editorial disguised as news, arguing against proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa Blvd (upper right corner; click to enlarge).

Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone who takes a stand I may disagree with.

Granted, I may get a little hot under the collar at times, but my attitude is they have as much right to their opinion as I do to mine. And I can learn more from people who don’t agree with me than I can from those who do.

However, just because you own a newspaper doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.

In this case, the writer, Tom Topping, claims — among many other highly questionable assertions — that studies show bicyclists are 12 times more likely to have a fatal collision than someone in a motor vehicle. Even though the studies I’ve seen say you are far more likely to die behind the wheel than riding on two.

In fact, your lifetime risk of dying in a car is 58 times greater than on a bike. Meanwhile, a 1993 study shows that, even adjusted for comparable time spent driving and riding, you have almost twice as much risk of dying from driving as from bicycling.

Needless to say, he doesn’t offer any support for his claim.

He also suggests that bikes represent just 2% to 3% of traffic — again, not citing a source — so we should only be entitled to 2% to 3% of the roadway, apparently willing to relegate us to a strip 1.1 to 1.65 feet wide.

For both directions, that is, not each way.

And he makes the absurd assertion — again, without any evidence to support it — that bike lanes on Figueroa will add a full hour to an average commute. Never mind that the much lower delays projected by LADOT are worst-case projections that are unlikely to actually occur, let alone mutate into the automotive horror show he projects.

No, far easier to simply make numbers up to support his NIMBYist anti-bike argument.

Of course, he insists he couldn’t be anti-bike, as he trots out the same claim found in virtually every anti-bike or bike lane screed, because he is a bike rider himself. Yet at the same time, calls those who created a study showing no harmful effects to local businesses as a result of the York Blvd bike lanes — one he calls “obviously slanted” — “pro-bicycle fanatics.”

Actually, the carefully controlled study was conducted by a UCLA researcher as part of his class work, with support from the LACBC and funding from industry trade group Bikes Belong.

If he thinks those are fanatics, I know a number of far more rabid bike riders I could introduce him to.

And never mind that studies in other cities support that finding, concluding that rather than harming local businesses, bike lanes actually result in increased business.

Then again, his style of riding may hint at one likely reason for his opposition to bike lanes, even as he reluctantly admits that bike lanes increase safety.

Additionally, safety studies show that while a bicyclist is 1200% more likely to have a fatal accident (see above) than a motorist, bike lanes make it only 30% safer (again, no source cited)*. So, instead of being 12 times more likely to die, a bicyclist is only 8 times more likely to die, a small gain to consider when the specter of removing motorist lanes comes up. (To use a bike lane you have to trust that motorists will look out for you — something I cannot bring myself to do when I am on two wheels. I always ride like I am invisible, never assume anyone can see me and am therefore 99% safe at all times)

*Comments in italics mine

Personally, I’d call a 30% reduction in fatalities a huge improvement.

Never mind that every single study I am aware of shows that bike lanes improve safety for bicyclists, as well as others on the road, motorized or not — cutting injury risk as much as 50% with a simple painted lane, and 90% on protected bike lanes.

He is right to suggest it’s best to assume drivers don’t see you when you ride.

But to conclude that cyclists are less safe in bike lanes flies in the face of all available evidence. And once again, he fails to provide any evidence to support his bizarre claim that assuming no one can see him reduces his risk on the road to just 1%.

If Topping or anyone else can provide a valid study supporting that assertion, I’d like to see it.

And in an all-too-tired refrain, he concludes by complaining about the lack of outreach for a bike plan that was adopted over two years ago, following more than a year of public comment.

So why does it suddenly become our problem when other people have had their heads in the sand for over three years, rather than engaging in what was a very public and high profile process?

Unfortunately, this is what too often passes for local journalism in the debate over bikes, with no hint of objectivity or fairness. When one local business owner on North Figueroa called to complain about the inaccuracies and lack of objectivity in Topping’s story, he was told to “buy your own newspaper.”

He’s got a point.

It’s his newspaper, and he can print whatever he wants, regardless of facts or fairness.

Just like the big metropolitan dailies do.

Well, some of them, anyway.

………

Long-time L.A. bike advocate Richard Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, has started a petition calling on Governor Jerry Brown to sign a three-foot passing law to make up for the two he inexplicably vetoed.

You’ll see my name right there as signee number two.

Please join me in signing it, and forward it to every bike rider you know. Let’s let our governor know we’re not going to stand by and allow him to needlessly risk our lives and safety on California streets.

………

This is why police investigators need specialized training in analyzing bike collisions.

Utah authorities say that after a 10-year old boy riding on the shoulder of a highway was passed by a semi-truck, he rode into the traffic lane where he was hit and killed by a second semi-truck.

A far more likely explanation is that the first semi passed too close at too high a speed, sucking the boy into the truck’s slipstream and onto the roadway, into the path of the trailing truck.

But only someone who has experienced the terrifying power of that kind of slipstream when riding — or been trained to look for it — would understand that.

………

Good news for distracted drivers, as Volvo designs the world’s first second cyclist detection system to recognize and automatically brake for bike riders in the car’s path; the first such system is called “eyes,” which come as standard equipment on every driver.

And notice how they assume it’s the rider who will swerve into the car’s way, and not the other way around?

………

Note to Redlands Daily Facts: It’s good that Redlands is getting more bikeways. But sharrows aren’t bike lanes, and bicyclists already have the right to use the full lane in many, if not most, situations; the presence or absence of sharrows doesn’t change that.

………

Damien Newton asks what does it mean and what comes next now that the primary election for L.A. Mayor and City Council is over. LADOT has installed 123 miles of bikeways since the 2010 L.A. bike plan was adopted. Gary Kavanagh reports on UCLA’s Complete Streets Conference last week; nice to see the moribund Bikeside website come back to life to discuss it, as well. Curbed looks at the effects of AB 2245, which removed bike lanes from CEQA review. L.A.’s 4th Street is already a bike boulevard, whether or not the city wants to call it that — or fix it. Better Bike looks at the results of Tuesday’s election in the Biking Black Hole; it looks like the outsiders — and the only semi-bike supporter — may have won. Santa Monica College officially unveils their new 400 space bike parking lot. Fallen Cal Poly Pomona cyclist Ivan Aguilar will be remembered with a memorial ride and ghost bike today. CLR Effect notes that Southern California is becoming more colorful.

Remarkable sometimes how easy it is to park in a bike lane and force riders to risk their lives in high speed traffic; no, Mr. Topping, that is an argument for better enforcement, not another reason to oppose them. San Diego’s city council approves an ordinance calling for safer recreational and commuter routes for bike riders. Bike SD makes the case for protected bike lanes on El Cajon Blvd. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition rewards cyclists with chocolate for good behavior. Cyclist Chris Bucchere faces a preliminary hearing for killing a pedestrian in San Francisco last year. A Fresno school teacher is killed in a classic SWSS — single witness suicide swerve — as the driver claims he did everything right, but the rider inexplicably swerved into his path; thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

Bob Mionske offers advice on whether to fight that ticket. AAA releases a bike safety video, which you may recognize as a Canadian video released last year, as the Bike League casts its lot with an organization that fights bike safety laws in California and elsewhere. Bicycle Retailer reports on Day Two of the National Bike Summit. The Bike League reveals what Congress really thinks of us — including that bike advocates are sore winners, while the economic benefits of bicycling dominate discussions with Congress. Outgoing DOT Secretary Ray LaHood calls for increased, high-quality infrastructure for people who ride bikes. How to recognize a Stroad. Stereotypes of who rides a bike are rapidly falling away. The driver accused of attacking a pro cycling team in an Arizona road rage assault defends himself online. A Colorado woman saves her own life through cycling, dropping 170 pounds in four years. At Austin’s SXSW one good Tern deserves another. Bike Safe Boston says ride straight through an intersection; definitely good advice for all the reasons they cite. Transportation Alternatives provides the facts about New York bicycling. A New York lawyer says the city needs to introduce strict criminal liability for traffic violence. Residents of one New York neighborhood don’t want their historic cobblestones ripped out to make way for a bikeway; for once, I might agree with them. While we all face harassment while riding, women can face a far worse kind.

Bike-centric traffic signals go up in Montreal. British politicians lack the will to get anything done to promote bicycling, but London’s bicycling mayor BoJo finally unveils a real plan to remake parts of the city into mini-Hollands and change the future of bicycling in the city. A 94-year old British driver claims an unforeseeable medical condition left her unconscious behind the wheel and therefore, not responsible when she ran down and killed a bike rider a third her age. Perhaps the most subtly sarcastic bike advocacy headline in human history. Is Spain trying to force bicyclists off the roads? An Israeli company wants to turn your helmet into a heart monitor. A Zimbabwe man kills his father with a brick after they argue about borrowing the older man’s bike without permission, then allowing it to get stolen. Someone dumped uncooked rice on an Aussie bike path in an apparent attack on bicyclists. A Kiwi rider suffers a heart attack while on a cross country charity ride, and rejoins the ride just days later after heart surgery.

Finally, after a drunk driver runs down a Florida cyclist and flees the scene, her father takes her to Mickey D’s before driving her to the police to turn herself in. A Florida legislator finds his drive delayed a few seconds by a bus, and responds by attempting to ban public buses from stopping on streets.

And as bike ads go, this one for the British video release of Premium Rush isn’t half bad.

78-year old bike rider killed in Moorpark hit-and-run

Once again, a cryptic CHP dispatch hinted at a horrible cycling collision long before anyone else.

A transmission early Thursday afternoon told of a damaged bicycle on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark, with debris in the roadway — and a body in a tree.

And someone — maybe a passerby, maybe the driver involved — was waiting on the right shoulder to guide CHP officers to the collision site.

Now the Ventura County Star and Moorpark Patch confirm that 78-year old Simi Valley resident Bernard Cooper was killed in a rear-end collision while riding on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada east of the Moorpark Freeway around 1:20 pm Thursday; the CHP puts the initial report at 1:28 pm.

After hitting Cooper with enough force to throw his body into a tree, 20-year old Nicolas Santiago of Ridgecrest drove for another mile-and-a-half before evidently having a change of heart and returning to the scene. The CHP dispatch identifies the vehicle waiting for them as a Nissan Xterra; unfortunately, there’s no word on what kind of car Santiago was driving or whether he returned after the collision had been reported.

Both Cooper and Santiago were headed east on Tierra Rejada; a satellite view of the roadway shows a wide shoulder where Cooper should have been safely out of the line of traffic, while a Google street view shows a 55 mph speed limit in the area.

Not surprisingly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash was still being investigated Thursday evening, however, the CHP reports that alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.

Santiago was arrested at the scene for hit-and-run. However, based on similar cases, the fact that he returned to the scene of the collision — apparently voluntarily — suggests that the charge is unlikely to result in significant penalties.

This is the fifth cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Ventura County; that compares to three bicycling deaths in Ventura County in all of 2012.

My prayers and condolences for Bernard Cooper and all his family and loved ones.

Update: A comment below says the driver of the Xterra was the one who called 911, and was not involved in the collision.

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