Tag Archive for Justice for Milt

Morning Links: LA County settles Milt Olin case for $11.75 million, and sheriff’s deputies get it wrong on PCH. Again.

Five and a half years after music executive Milt Olin was killed by a distracted LA County sheriff’s deputy, his family has finally received some justice.

About $11.75 million worth.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the Olin family will receive that amount in a settlement from the county.

Which is just slightly more than the $80,000 requested in their original lawsuit.

But possibly less than a jury would have given them if the case had gone to trial.

Olin was riding in a bike lane on Mulholland Highway in Calabasas when the deputy ran him down from behind while responding to a message from another officer on his onboard computer.

That came just moments after the deputy had been texting with his wife while driving. Which, remarkably, is legal for emergency personnel in California, even if the text has nothing to do with official business.

The LA County District Attorney refused to file charges in the case, or to hold the sheriff’s department accountable in any way for a policy that allowed deputies to use the onboard computer while driving, with predictable results.

That policy was changed as a result of Olin’s death.

Which, in the long run, may be worth much more than his family will receive in this case.

Photo from the Milt Olin Foundation website.

………

It’s a never-ending story.

Every few years, Malibu sheriff’s deputies insist on harassing and ticketing bicyclists who are doing absolutely nothing wrong, based on a flawed interpretation of California law.

And after various bicyclists, bike advocates and organizations explain the law to them, they back off. Until the deputies are transferred out, and new ones come in to take their place.

Then the cycle starts all over again.

Like it did this past weekend, when members of the Major Motion Cycling Club were harassed by a sheriff’s deputy, who used his loud speaker to insist that they ride single file in a non-existent bike lane.

So let’s go through this one more time.

CVC 21202 allows bicyclists to ride in the roadway, using the full lane when necessary.

Bike riders can, at their own discretion, ride on the shoulder of a roadway. However, nothing to the right of the limit line is legally considered part of the road, and bicyclists can’t be required to ride there.

And just because there’s a stripe on the side of the road, that doesn’t make it a bike lane.

It’s true that CVC 21202 requires anyone using a bicycle to ride as far to the right as practicable — not as far as possible, as it’s frequently misinterpreted.

However, it contains a number of exceptions when the ride-to-the-right rule does not apply, including in a substandard traffic lane. That means any lane that is too narrow to safely share with a bicycle and a motor vehicle, while allowing for a three-foot passing distance.

Like the lane shown in the video, which is clearly too narrow for a bike and a car to safely travel side-by-side. And like most of the other right hand traffic lanes in the LA area.

There is also absolutely nothing in California law requiring bicyclists to ride single file.

The CHP and LASD have often attempted to misapply the ride-to-the-right rule in CVC 21202 to say that anyone riding abreast is not riding as far to the right as practicable. However, as we noted, that requirement does not apply on a substandard lane.

It is actually safer to ride abreast under those conditions, because it increases the visibility of the riders and allows them to control the full lane, forcing drivers to change lanes to go around them.

And it makes the riders easier to pass by bunching closer together in a small group, rather than stretching out in a long line.

Finally, it’s impossible to obstruct traffic on a roadway with two or more lanes in each direction, where drivers can simply change lanes to go around.

But don’t take my word for it.

Below is the video the LAPD prepared to train its own officers in bike law and the rights of bicyclists.

Which should be required viewing at the Malibu/Los Hills sheriff station.

Thanks to Martin Blount for the video.

………

This is who we share the roads with.

An aggressive, road raging California driver flips off a bike rider and makes a punishment pass for no apparent reason.

Thanks to Frank Lehnerz for the heads-up.

………

Local

Los Angeles police solved just 8% of hit-and-runs in the city last year. Which means 92% of hit-and-run drivers committed a crime and got away with it. But sure, let’s keep pretending it’s not a crisis.

The SGV Connect podcast discusses how to support people who bike at the University of La Verne.

Registration is open for this summer’s Tour de Laemmle, the annual 135-mile ride along with Laemmle Theaters president Greg Laemmle as he visits all of the theater chain’s nine LA area venues.

 

State

No surprise here. San Diego drivers are taking advantage of a new bike lane in Mission Valley for prime parking space, forcing riders out into high speed traffic; police are ticketing the cars even though No Parking signs haven’t been installed yet.

A San Francisco woman asks if bike riders are really welcome in Paso Robles after a road raging driver threatens to run her and her husband down unless they ride single file. Which they were.

A San Francisco supervisor follows through on threats to remove a bike lane to make room for more free parking.

Don’t ride your e-scooter on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Or any other freeway.

 

National

Distracted driving gets the blame for a 13.5% jump in traffic fatalities in the US; the United States was one of just five nations to see an increase in traffic deaths over a five year period.

Streetsblog says fire departments are now embracing safer street designs, rather than fighting much needed safety improvements.

An Oregon letter writer says bicyclists should be held to the same standard as drivers. So feel free to roll stop signs, ride through intersections after the light has changed, never signal, and ride ten miles over the speed limit while texting, just like the people in cars do.

A retired Los Angeles man says he’s given up on bicycling in the city, driven off the streets by road raging drivers, and moving to Tucson to take advantage of the city’s 131-mile off-road bike and pedestrian loop. Someone should send that to every member of the city council so they can see what we have to deal with on a daily basis.

A group of Ukrainian cyclists is passing through New Mexico on a ride across the US to promote adoptions.

Iowa bicyclists call for a law requiring drivers to change lanes to pass people on bicycles, and increased penalties for driving distracted.

A Chicago bike rider somehow assumes that bad bicyclist behavior is responsible for a dramatic increase in bicycling fatalities, and calls on his fellow citizens to yell at the miscreant riders.

Doctors in New York were able to save the leg of a nationally ranked junior cyclist after he developed an aggressive form of bone cancer, saving his dreams of competing in the Olympics.

A marathon runner is suing New York for $2 million after he broke his arm in a collision with a bike rider on the George Washington Bridge, claiming there’s not enough room for people on bikes and on foot on the bridge.

A Pennsylvania newspaper reminds drivers about the state’s four-foot passing law, and says there’s no excuse for disobeying a perfectly sound law.

The Voice of America looks at DC’s monthly Bike Party.

Apparently having solved the problem of distracted driving, Miami considers a campaign to reduce distracted bicycling, skateboard and moped riding. No, really.

 

International

Horrifying story from Ontario, Canada, where a man is fighting for his life, and a woman seriously injured, after a driver slammed head-on into four bicyclists on a charity ride; the driver was attempting to pass a slower vehicle, and reportedly never braked before hitting the riders.

A Canadian city is taking bikeshare to the next level by offering a free bike lending program, allowing users to check a bike out for a day.

In a bizarre comment, the head of London’s department of transportation apologized to drivers for the city’s hugely successful cycle superhighways, saying they were poorly thought out and rushed through under the previous mayor. Although he may have been talking about the construction delays, not the bikeways themselves.

London’s Independent recommends six of the coolest cycling destinations around the world to add to your bike bucket list.

When is a bike lane not a bike lane? When it can convert to other uses at different times of day, thanks to a new concept from a London design engineering firm.

The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes continues. Someone reportedly sabotaged a UK mountain bike trail by stringing wire across it, as well as placing logs and other obstructions on the trail.

Bike advocates in Malta complain about a limited and disconnected bike lane that doesn’t meet European standards. Proving once again that bicyclists face the same problems all over the world.

Over 82,000 people in Australia have signed a petition to require bicyclists to ride single file when in a group, and ban bikes from roads with speed limits over 50 mph.

 

Competitive Cycling

A member of the US Paralympic Cycling Team credits riding with lifting him out of a decade-long depression that began when he suffered a stroke as a teenager.

Britain announces a new campaign to stop doping and ensure public faith in cycling. Maybe they could start by taking a closer look at Team Sky. I’m just saying.

Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault doesn’t hold back, saying Team Sky star and Giro champ Chris Froome doesn’t belong with the legends of cycling, and shouldn’t be allowed to compete until his doping case is resolved.

 

Finally…

It’s now legal to bike through the drive-through for a Portland burger. Putting school parking — and senior pranks — to better bikeshare use; thanks to Campoy for the link.

And we’re not in danger of being replaced until these little guys learn to hold their line.

Weekend Links: LA DA responds in Olin case, but says nothing; KY rider convicted for riding in the street

It didn’t take long for LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey to respond to the LACBC’s demand for justice in the Milt Olin case.

Only problem is, she didn’t have anything new to say.

In the letter (pdf), she repeats the insistence in the original refusal notice (pdf) that Deputy Wood was legally allowed to use his onboard computer when he ran Olin down last December. And that there is simply not enough evidence to get a conviction in the case.

Never mind that Wood was clearly driving distracted — which is a crime even if the driver is participating in an otherwise legal activity — as well as illegally driving in the bike lane, and admitted that he never saw the cyclist directly in front of his car. And witnesses said he never even touched his brakes before plowing into Olin’s bike.

Even I could get a conviction with evidence like that.

And never mind that prosecuting attorney’s frequently file challenging cases because they feel the victim deserves justice.

Which raises the question of what’s really going on here. And whether the DA is deliberately trying to quash the case, for reasons known only to her.

Though we can speculate.

The bottom line is, if Lacey is unwilling to prosecute in a case like this, no cyclist can expect to get justice in Los Angeles County.

Especially not if there’s a cop involved.

And that’s the real tragedy.

Here’s how to contact the DA’s office to express your outrage, courtesy of the LACBC. And if you’re not outraged, you should be.

1. E-Mail: [email protected], bcc: [email protected]

2. Snail mail to:

District Attorney’s Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

3. Phone: (213) 974-3512

4. Twitter: @LADAoffice

……..

In a bizarre miscarriage of justice, a Kentucky bike rider is convicted of careless driving for repeatedly riding in the traffic lane instead of on the shoulder on a busy multi-lane highway.

Even though the shoulder is not legally part of the roadway, and cyclists are entitled to ride in the traffic lane in every state in the Union. Yes, even in the Blue Grass State.

You can contribute to her legal fight here. And yes, she plans to appeal.

……..

Lots of writers are weighing in on bikes this weekend.

Starting close to home, a Burbank letter writer clearly gets it, saying bikes don’t impede traffic, they reduce congestion. Meanwhile, a columnist for the Daily News clearly doesn’t, insisting the new three-foot law will only make our streets narrower and that bikes could never, ever be even a small part of the solution for LA’s traffic problems.

A Riverside letter writer doesn’t get it, either, basically insisting that bike riders are all scofflaw jerks who deserve what they get.

An Arizona writer says yes, cyclists have rights, but also have responsibilities. And a Wyoming letterist takes the local paper to task for a perceived bias against bike riders.

……..

Alberto Contador extends his lead over Chris Froome to wrap up the Vuelta.

Officials insist the doping era in professional cycling is officially over; evidently, no one bothered to tell Italian rider Matteo Rabottini.

And in non-pro cycling, a 70-year old New England cyclist took home three golds from the US masters road championships.

……..

Local

An architect and urban planner says it’s time to speed up the scope and pace of urban change in the City of Angels — including replacing Copenhagen as the bike capital of the world.

The LACBC offers members a free Basic Bicycling Skills class on Saturday the 20th.

Also on the 20th, Helen’s Cycles hosts a monthly no-drop Women’s Only Group Ride. The same day, Helen’s holds a free training ride for the Beverly Hills Gran Fondo Italia.

Glendale residents discuss where to locate a bike, ped and possibly equestrian bridge over the LA River.

Gritty Wilmington has the most extensive bike network in the city — and maybe the state — with 21.6 miles of connected bike lanes.

 

State

A San Diego cyclist is seriously injured after allegedly running a red light.

The Riverside Police Department asks for the public’s help in solving the hit-and-run death of bike rider D’Andre Sutherland last month.

Riverside entrepreneur Michael Cachat parlays his love of bicycling into a $28 million business.

A Jurupa Valley bike rider suffers major injuries in a Thursday afternoon collision.

A fake Palo Alto cop pulls over and chastises a teenage cyclist while waving a gun.

A helmet-wearing Sacramento comedian suffers a concussion in a collision.

 

National

City Lab explains what a road diet is and why even the US Department of Transportation recommends them; evidently, they know something CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo doesn’t. Or doesn’t want to, maybe.

The next step in accommodating bikes is building low-stress bike networks.

New cardboard panniers fold out on the spot to carry your belongings.

In Tucson, even streetcar drivers are disciplined for driving too close to a bike rider.

Was Boise’s failed buffered bike lane project designed to do so?

A Milwaukee website says protected bike lanes are the silver bullet of bike safety.

New York plans bike corrals in front of four Prospect Heights bars, even if not everyone gets it.

Caught on video: A New York rider captures a dooring and its aftermath on helmet cam.

Baton Rouge gets bike wayfinding signage right.

 

International

Sad news from the UK, as the girlfriend of a British mountain biker is killed when another rider loses control as she stood next to the course to see her boyfriend compete.

British Cycling plans to get more women riding in Wales and Scotland, the latter of which may derail their plans by untying the United Kingdom.

An Aussie advocacy group calls trucks wheels of mass destruction.

An Australian state DOT rejects “radical” bike rule changes, including an Idaho stop law and legalizing sidewalk riding. No, radical would be arming cyclists to defend themselves against threatening drivers.

 

Finally…

Seriously? A Cincinnati letter writer calls for red and orange safety warning triangles on bikes. Seattle moves to invalidate marijuana tickets written by a bike cop who actually flipped a coin to decide who to write up.

And after a Biloxi man steals a police bike, cops chase him down on foot — because he stole their bike.

 

All hands on deck: Ride and vigil tonight for justice in Milt Olin case; is the DA’s office involved in a cover-up?

Let’s be honest.

When a prosecutor really wants to file charges in a traffic case, they’ll tear the vehicle code apart until they find something that sticks.

So when the DA’s office examines a case and concludes there’s nothing there, it’s more often an indication that they don’t want to prosecute, for whatever reason.

Like when it’s a cop who ran down a cyclist, for instance.

When the LA County DA’s office announced last week they weren’t filing charges against the sheriff’s deputy who killed Milt Olin, they concluded (pdf) that he had not violated the state prohibition against texting while driving because police officers in the course of their duty are exempted from the law. Never mind that he’d also been texting — illegally — with his wife as recently as one minute prior to the wreck.

And yet, I’ve repeatedly been told by officers from a number of different police agencies that it’s not just the act of texting behind the wheel that’s against the law, but simply being distracted while driving. For whatever reason.

From putting on makeup or eating, to simply changing the stations on the radio. And yes, some people still listen to the radio when they drive.

Anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the road is distracted driving. Or as cited by the LA Times, “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

By that standard, Deputy Wood was clearly distracted when he ran down Olin’s bike from behind.

In fact, by his own admission, he never even saw Olin or knew he was driving in the bike lane when he hit him at somewhere around 48 mph, which was his last recorded speed prior to the impact.

He could just as well have been charged with making an illegal lane change. Or driving in a bike lane.

Or even the catch-all violation when police can’t come up with anything else to charge a driver — or too often, a bike rider — with, violating CVC 22350, the state’s basic speed law.

After all, no speed is safe when you have no idea where you’re driving or what’s in the road directly in front of you.

And any or all of which could be used to support the sheriff’s investigator’s recommended charge of vehicular manslaughter.

So the question becomes one of why they’re not willing to file charges. Any charges.

It could, as many have speculated, be a case of looking out for their own; the District Attorney relies on police officers to build their cases, and may be reluctant to prosecute an officer as a result.

Or it could simply be that the death of a cyclist — even one as prominent as entertainment lawyer and former Napster executive Milt Olin — just isn’t worth their time.

Or it could be a cover-up.

By prosecuting Wood, the deputy could be forced to testify in his defense that, even though using the onboard computer while driving is officially against sheriff’s department policy, the unofficial policy encourages officers to do just the opposite.

Which would make higher-ups in the department complicit in Olin’s death. And could have led them to pressure the DA not to file.

Maybe there’s a more innocent explanation for the failure to charge the driver with something.

Anything.

But the official explanation doesn’t hold water.

And the fact that they’ve left themselves open to this kind of speculation shows just how wrong that decision was.

………

If this case pisses you off as much as it does me, you’ll have your chance to demand justice for Milt Olin, and all of us, tonight.

The LACBC, Yield to Life and Ghost Bikes LA are hosting a ride and vigil for Milt Olin to call on the DA to revisit the case and press charges.

This is an all-hands-on-deck demand for justice.

If there’s any way you can be there for all or part of it, you owe it to yourself to attend. Because the more people who participate, and the more varied the riders who attend, the better our message will penetrate the insulated offices of the District Attorney.

I’m going to do my best to attend the vigil, at least. If you don’t see me there, it means my health has knocked me on my ass once again.

From the LACBC website:

When: Wednesday, September 3

Schedule:

  • 4:00 p.m. Meet at crash site (around 22532 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302)
  • 4:15 p.m. Moment of silence
  • 4:30 p.m. Start ride
  • 6:30 p.m. Leave from the L.A. Zoo parking lot (5333 Zoo Dr, Griffith Park, CA 90027). Other riders can meet up here.
  • 7:30-8:00 p.m. Arrive at District Attorney’s office (210 W Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012)
  • 8:00 p.m. Candlelight vigil

The public is invited to join us at the beginning, ride with us, join us for the vigil, or meet us at any point along the way (exact route to be determined).

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/Y4xFh

The route follows major streets through the San Fernando Valley and Griffith Park to Downtown Los Angeles. Riders will be expected to stay alert and follow all traffic laws. The ride is scheduled to arrive in Downtown just after sunset, therefore lights are required by law.

The route is 30 miles. Riders should come prepared with water and snacks to stay fueled.

Shorter options:

  • Start at the L.A. Zoo parking lot (5333 Zoo Dr, Griffith Park, CA 90027) for an approximately 10-mile ride into Downtown. Please arrive no later than 6:15 and be ready to ride by 6:30 p.m.
  • Start in Calabasas, ride 17 miles to the Universal City Red Line station (located at Lankershim Blvd and Campo de Cahuenga), and take the Red Line to Civic Center, where the D.A.’s office is located (210 W Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012). Riders who lag behind the main group will be asked to take this option.
  • Join us for the vigil. People are welcome to skip the ride and meet us at the D.A.’s office. The ride is expected to arrive between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.
  • Meet us along the way. We will do our best to live-tweet our location with the hashtag #rideformilt. Follow us @lacbc.

Getting to the ride:

  • The start is on a suburban section of Mulholland Highway with little to no on-street parking (approximate address: 22532 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302). We recommend taking the Metro Orange Line or Orange Line Bike Path to De Soto or Canoga and riding from there. Free park-and-rides are available along the Orange Line.
  • Check out the Facebook event and feel free to post feeder rides there.

Getting from the ride:

  • The best option is always riding (with lights!) or taking transit.
  • If you parked at a Metro Orange Line park-and-ride, take the Red Line from Civic Center to North Hollywood. Then either transfer to the Orange Line (limit 3 bikes per bus) or ride along the Orange Line Bike Path to your car.

Questions? Post them in the Facebook event or call the office at 213-629-2142 and we’ll do our best to respond before the ride.

 

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