Tag Archive for L.A. County Sheriff’s Department

Embarrassing video shows Sheriff’s deputy doesn’t know what a sharrow is or what it means

They should be embarrassed.

Or maybe we should, since the LA County Sheriff’s Department is supposed to work for all of us.

Yet as this new YouTube video from WesHigh shows, at least one Sheriff’s Deputy has no idea what a sharrow is. Let alone that bicyclists aren’t required to ride to the ride on a non-sharable lane.

As the video points out, sharrows are not just wayfinding symbols that indicate a Class III bike route, but indicate the preferred position for bike riders within the lane. While you’re not required to ride on the sharrows, if you position yourself on the point of the arrow, you’ll be in the exact spot traffic engineers think you should be within the lane.

Those charged with enforcing the law should know that.

Yet from what I heard from other bike riders, the Deputy’s misconception, while an extreme example, isn’t that unusual for the department.

Many riders have complained about Sheriff’s Deputies demanding that they ride as far as possible to the right, in violation of CVC 21202, which only requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable. And then, only when traveling below the speed of traffic.

If you’re riding as fast or faster than the vehicles around you, you can legally ride anywhere you damn please, as long as you travel in the direction of traffic.

Yet even if you’re just crawling along, there are countless exceptions to the requirement to ride to the ride — including riding in a non-sharable lane, which is defined as any lane too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. And that includes allowing for sufficient space to avoid the door zone, which is one of those hazards the law refers to.

Which means that virtually every right lane in the Los Angeles area should be considered non-sharable. Especially if it allows parking on the right.

The officer is also mistaken in his insistence that the rider was obstructing traffic. Under California law, that only applies on two lane roadways, and by definition, requires five or more vehicles stuck behind the slower vehicle and unable to pass. If drivers can pass, or if there is another lane to the left they could use to pass if they chose to do so, the rider is not legally obstructing traffic.

As the video shows, this was a four lane street. And drivers were able to pass with ease — including the officer who dangerously chose to speak with a moving cyclist without pulling over to the curb first.

Unfortunately, this brings up a much bigger problem.

While the LAPD has worked with local bike riders to clarify the laws applying to cyclists, and developed a training session to train their officers in just how to — and how not to — enforce traffic laws relating to cyclists, the LASD, to the best of my knowledge, has not.

Just what training their officers receive in bike law isn’t known outside of the department and the officers who actually receive it. Or not.

And while the department may feel their officer training is adequate, this video — and complaints from bike riders around the county suggesting a lack of knowledge and inconsistent enforcement in various areas of the county — would suggest it isn’t.

It’s long past time for the Sheriff’s Department to step up and work with cyclists to ensure their officers understand bike law and enforce it correctly, and fairly.

In the meantime, this video prepared by the LAPD in conjunction cyclists participating in the department’s bike task force remains the state-ot-the-art for bicycle traffic law training among SoCal police agencies.

Even then, it’s only as good as department’s commitment to ensure every officer views it.

And learns it.

Update: Inglewood bike rider killed in early morning collision with Sheriff’s Deputies

Did L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies make a fatal mistake in trying to stop a bike-riding suspect?

Or did they use their patrol car as a weapon in a deadly use of force?

According to a very brief press release from the Sheriff’s Department, a marked patrol car collided with a bicyclist at 1:25 am today on the 3500 block of West 107th Street.

The deputies were reportedly attempting to contact the cyclist, who they believed was armed with a handgun; a search was underway for the weapon, which was not recovered at the time.

And yes, they did make contact with the victim, who has not been publicly identified.

Fatally.

The Daily Breeze reports the rider was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital in full cardiac arrest. The paper says Inglewood police are investigating the incident; the sheriff’s department patrols in nearby Lennox, which is next to where the collision occurred.

There’s no word on how the collision took place.

However, it’s not unusual for police to use their doors or patrol cars in an attempt to stop a bike rider, not realizing that a simple bump can have deadly consequences for a bicyclist. Any physical contact with a moving bike should be considered a use of force, and subject to the same restrictions as an officer firing his gun at a suspect.

This is the 62nd bicycling death in Southern California this year, and the 18th in Los Angeles County; the victim is the first SoCal cyclist killed due to the actions of law enforcement officers in recent memory.

My prayers for the victim and his family.

Thanks to Tim Rutt from Altadenablog and Danny Gamboa of ZKO Films for the heads-up.

Update: The victim has been identified as 45-year old Alfonso Cerda, a father of three who lived in the area where he was killed; he was reportedly on his way to a friend’s house when he was killed. No gun has been found; family members suggest he may have been carrying a flashlight.

According to LAist, authorities report the officers attempted to stop Cerda, who initially complied before taking off on his bike. They say he then pointed what the deputies thought was a gun at them; one officer took cover, while the other chased Cerda down with his patrol car, hitting Cerda as he attempted to get ahead of him.

A little this, a little that — social media bike thieves, a jerk cyclist and a leading blogger dumps on LACBC

They’re getting smarter.

According to an email circulating in the local cycling community, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department has broken up a bike theft ring that used social media to identify what bikes to steal.

The email reported that the suspects would identify bike owners through Facebook, Craigslist and geotagged photos, and exchange emails using a fictitious name and email address. Then they would research their victims and their homes online before driving to their houses at night, breaking in and stealing their bikes.

The thieves used the names Joe Wayne and Mark Silverstein, both using Yahoo accounts. They may have negotiated with their victims about buying a bike or just about riding; victims may have emailed them a photo of their bike before it was stolen.

According to the email, most of the bikes that were recovered have been stripped of their components; however, the Sheriff’s Department has around 40 frames and 100 wheels they hope to return to their owners.

I’m not going to post the name and contact numbers of the Sheriff’s Lieutenant who sent the email online; however, if this story sounds a little too familiar to you, email me at the address on the About page and I’ll send his contact information to you.

Thanks to Eric Bruins and the staff at Geklaw for the heads-up.

………

Mike tips us to the story of a hit-and-run of a different sort, as a volunteer working to help clean up the L.A. River is the victim of a cyclist who failed to stop after crashing into her.

So let’s make this very clear.

If you hit someone while riding your bike, you have just as much of an obligation to stop as anyone else. No matter who’s at fault.

And while it’s called the L.A. River bike path, it’s actually a multi-use trail, like most off-road bike paths in the L.A. area. Which means pedestrians have as much right to be there as you do, whether they’re cleaning up the river or out for a late night stroll.

And whether you like it or not.

Yes, they have an obligation to use the bikeway safely and watch out for other people, whether on two wheels or two feet.

Just like you do.

And anyone who yells at pedestrians to “get off the bike path” — let alone fails to stop after hitting one — is just a jerk.

Meanwhile, the comments offer the usual distasteful back and forth that seems to occur whenever anything involving a cyclist occurs.

As a famous L.A. area resident put it 20 years ago this week, can we all get along?

………

You’re invited to participate in a webcast with pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer at 1:30 pm on Monday, May 7th.

The webcast is open to the public; however, you must have a Ustream profile or log-in using your Twitter account in order to join the live chat, or ask questions using your Facebook account. And if Levi likes your question, you’ll win a limited edition Levi poster from CLIF Bar.

……..

In other upcoming events, this Saturday will see a free Tour de Palmdale Poker Run Fun Bike Ride to celebrate the city’s hosting of the 6th Stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Riders will meet at Marie Kerr Park, 2723 Rancho Vista, and ride a 30 mile course through the city, picking up a playing card at each stop; the one with the best poker hand at the end of the ride wins. Thanks to Michele Chavez for the tip.

And everyone who rides PCH — or would like to — is invited attend a progress meeting on the design of the Pacific Coast Bike Route Improvements Project between Busch Drive and the western Malibu city limit. The meeting is scheduled for 10 am to noon in the Multi-Purpose Room at Malibu City Hall, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.

………

Erik Griswald forwards a couple of stories, as a Bay Area TV station goes after those damn law breaking and non-helmet wearing cyclists.

And an 18-year old Chandler AZ cyclist can thank the deity of his choice after he was right hooked by a 69-year old driver while walking his bike across the street — apparently with the light, and most likely in a crosswalk.

Even though he ended up with a broken collarbone and tire marks across his chest — and even though the driver assumed she had just hit the curb and kept going on her way to Famous Footwear — a police spokesperson said it was just a tragic accident, and no charges were likely to be filed.

So lets get this straight.

A woman fails to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, never even looking in the direction she’s actually turning. Then continues merrily on her way, oblivious to the fact that she’d just literally run over another human being.

And the police say it’s just an oops?

Just thank God you don’t live or ride in Chandler AZ.

………

Santa Maria cyclists are mourning the death of a popular club leader who was run down by an 84-year old driver who failed to negotiate a turn on PCH.

I suppose that will just be an “oops,” too.

………

Thanks to the multiple people who have sent me links to the many, many stories about the Berkeley hit-and-run that was captured by bike cam, leading to the arrest of a typical scumbag ex-con.

There’s really not much left to say about this one.

Except that it offers dramatic evidence that every cyclist should have a bike cam of their very own. I’m starting to consider it every bit as important as lights or a helmet.

After all, while lights can help keep you from getting hit and a helmet could offer some protection if you get hit, a cam could offer proof of what happened if you do get hit. And as this case shows, help catch the driver if he or she flees the scene —as happens in a third of all L.A. collisions.

And it seems to be absolutely necessary to build a case under the city’s still-untested cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which still hasn’t seen its first test case.

Of course, I should talk.

I don’t have one yet myself, thanks to a budget so tight it squeaks. Maybe GoPro or Contour would like to sponsor a poor, lowly bike blogger.

Hey, it could happen. Right?

………

LA/2B and GOOD invite you to imagine your ideal car-free day in L.A.; the winner will receive $500 to make it a reality.

………

Finally, Mikael Colville-Andersen, author of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic — and arguably the world’s leading bike blogger — takes the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to task for its standard liability waiver for group rides, describing it as a “massive marketing/advocacy FAIL.”

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe Denmark is a far less litigious society that ours. Maybe he just doesn’t understand American legal culture. Or maybe his rabid campaign against bike helmets has led to a little confusion due to one too many falls.

But even so, he should have realized that the waiver form comes from the LACBC’s insurance company and was written by their lawyers, not the coalition’s. And that use of that form is a requirement to even get insurance, without which a non-profit organization such as the LACBC would be unable to host rides, since the legal fallout from a single fall or collision could be enough to wipe out the entire organization.

He’s right, though.

The form could be written a lot better. But that’s a matter to take up with the insurance companies and lawyers, not a non-profit leading the fight for safer streets and improved access for cyclists in L.A. County.

And which just wants to let local cyclists enjoy a simple bike ride.

Without getting sued.

Happy Bike Month!

Tour de Fat sets a date, Malibu Sheriffs don’t get it, and 6 month suspension for killing Roger Grooters

“Oh I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused.” — Elvis Costello, (The Angels Want to Wear My) Red Shoes

One quick breaking news note:

Tour de Fat has officially set a date for this year’s return engagement, coming back to Los Angeles on October 8th. Better yet, that’s one day before the city’s 4th scheduled CicLAvia, making for a full weekend celebration of cycling in L.A.

The bad news is, October 8th is also Yom Kippur.

You’d think someone would check the calendar before scheduling a date in a city with such a large Jewish community, many of whom are active cyclists. And might appreciate having a day full of beer and bikes to atone for.

.………

File this one under the heading of They Just Don’t Get It.

Malibu City Council approved a three-hour Bicycle Safety public workshop, to be held on a Saturday morning at a date to be determined. Great news so far, as cyclists have been pushing for an open discussion of the problems we face riding in and through the ‘Bu, while city officials — particularly members of the city’s Public Safety Commission — have been surprisingly open to dialogue with the biking community.

And then there’s the Sheriff’s Department.

“It should be noted that the Sheriff’s department expressed concern about whether a workshop would be a benefit to the city’s goals of improved safety. During previous discussions with members of cycling organizations and bike clubs, the Sheriff’s liaison stated that the cyclists continued to disagree with the Sheriff’s interpretation of the law. There was additional concern expressed that the goal to open communication between motorists and cyclists would not likely be achieved through the workshop as it is doubtful that many non-cycling members of the public would consider attending,” the staff memo adds.

So, discussion is only worthwhile when we think they’re right?

Maybe we continue to disagree because the Sheriff’s Department in Malibu continues to interpret state law incorrectly. Despite the best efforts of cyclists to point out that we do in fact have a legal right to ride in the traffic lane, and that nothing in state law prohibits riding side-by-side in order to safely control the lane when necessary, even — or especially — on busy highways like PCH.

And somehow, given the passionate hatred expressed towards cyclists by some Malibu residents, I doubt getting the non-riding public to attend will be a problem.

.………

Oh. My. God.

The driver who ran down cross-country cyclist and former USC Athletic Department employee Roger Grooters has had his license suspended for just six months and fined a paltry $1,160 by a Florida judge.

Six lousy months of being prohibited from driving — and no jail time — after carelessly killing another human being. Before being allowed back on the roads to do it again to someone else.

That isn’t even a slap on the wrist. They might as well have given him a cigar and a pat on the back for reducing the state’s surplus cyclist population.

Clearly, life is cheap in Florida.

There are no words. At least, none that I’d want to use here.

But I can tell you where I won’t be spending my next vacation.

.………

In our continuing coverage of former Tour de France winners accused of doping, Lance officially retired once again on Wednesday. Contador’s decision to ride this year’s Giro may be a polite way to avoid being banned from Le Tour, while Spanish meat producers say he’s full of mierda. A physician says he was fired from a Spanish bike team when he refused to dope the riders. And UCI threatens to sue Floyd Landis over his allegations of a cover-up; Dave Moulton says Landis has a right to be ticked off.

If you’re as disgusted as I am with all the endless doping and cheating charges, denials and countercharges, try following the Twitter feed of rising star Taylor Phinney, whose cheerful optimism could restore your faith in pro cycling.

Or even in humanity.

.………

The Seattle Times offers an in-depth and very insightful look at the seemingly inevitable conflicts between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, and the anger that springs from it. If you don’t read any of the other links on here today, read this one.

Meanwhile, Seattle Bike Blog asks how you handle anger while you’re riding. And the Wall Street Journal says if road rage wasn’t bad enough, now we have to deal with sidewalk rage.

.………

Santa Monica’s Planning and Community Development Department invites you to participate in a special workshop to help transform the Bergamot area into an urban transit village, including pedestrian and bike linkages to the Expo Line, Bergamot Arts Center and other destinations. The meeting takes place from 6:30 – 9 pm tonight at Pier 59 Studios, 2415 Michigan Ave in Bergamot Station.

Bike Long Beach is hosting a bike ride for the city’s next Bicycle Master Plan workshop this Saturday, Feb. 19th. The ride departs from the Silverado Park Community Center, 1545 W. 31st Street at 10 am; the workshop begins at 11:30 am. And take a look at what they’ve accomplished already.

.………

A new petition urges Maryland to stop senseless bicycle deaths; then again, do any bicycle deaths make sense? Maybe it’s time to take something like this nationwide. Thanks to Kim for the heads-up.

.………

Big bike happenings Downtown this week as DTLA Bikes opened on Wednesday, and the city’s first bike corral officially opens Friday. If you liked October’s first CicLAvia, you’ll love April’s on the same route. Glendale’s Safe and Healthy Streets Plan moves forward to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians; meanwhile, Glendale and Burbank cooperate to request Metro funds for transportation improvements, including a bike boulevard on Kenneth Road. At least some San Diego business people get that bikes are good for business, encouraging people to Bike the Boulevard this Saturday. The 2011 NorCal High School mountain bike racing season kicks off Feb. 27th; why didn’t they have that when I was in school?

Sunset Magazine lists bike sharing, bike planning and car-free festivals — including CicLAvia — among their top 100 cultural trends in the West. Actor Matthew Modine and filmmaker David Holbrooke will host a nationwide mountain bike event on October 8th — yes, once again on Yom Kippur — to call attention to women’s rights in Afghanistan; then again, you haven’t mountain biked until you’ve bombed straight down a volcano. Bikes in the national parks are not just for tourists. The 17-year old Utah driver who killed a cyclist because her vision was obscured by birthday balloons will face misdemeanor charges. Bike Portland offers an alternate explanation for a recent cycling death. Favorable results are in for Portland’s cycle track and buffered bike lanes. The rich and powerful try to take down New York’s Prospect Park West bike lanes, including former NYDOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall and her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Current ABC and former CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour rolls on two wheels. In an all-too-familiar story, a Florida family is devastated when the father is killed in a cycling collision. In case you ever wanted to see what it’s like to vicariously run down a jay walking cyclist, here’s your chance.

In a typically illogical, knee-jerk motorhead response, a UK Member of Parliament suggests banning bikes from a highway to keep cyclists from getting killed, rather than doing something to keep drivers from killing them. A new car hood design promises to protect cyclists and pedestrians in collisions; instead of building safer cars, why not make safer drivers? Creative things to do with old bike parts. An Irish man accidently runs down and kills his own biking father. A triple confrontation with a road raging driver convinces a Sydney rider that angry drivers can make a cyclist’s life hell. Kiwi cyclists call for repealing New Zealand’s mandatory helmet law.

Finally, KCET’s Departures offers an exceptional in-depth look at the abused, and slowly recovering, L.A. River from the Headwaters to the Sepulveda Basin. Kudos to KCET; this one of the best examples I’ve seen of using online media to tell a story. Meanwhile, Flying Pigeon blogger Rick Risemberg looks at the graffiti and grace of the Downtown section of the river and its bike path.

Congratulations to new LACBC board members Lourdes Lopez, Steve Boyd and Carrie Ungerman.

Long delayed news of Redondo bike fatality; cyclist rescued in dramatic Glendora mountain fall

I’ve never understood why the death of a human being on our streets isn’t news.

Sometimes a serious injury makes the news; often, in fact. I find stories about injured cyclists throughout the country almost every day. Unless there’s something unique about the story, I usually don’t comment on them; I have to write about enough bad news as it is.

Even when they’re close to home.

Yet other times, a rider is killed right here, and not one word makes the news, as if it never happened. Or didn’t matter.

And yet, every death matters to someone.

And every fallen cyclist deserves to be remembered.

Somehow, the death of 69-year old cyclist Robert Gary Garvin slipped through the cracks. Or someone, somewhere, decided it just wasn’t worth mentioning.

According to the Redondo Beach News, Garvin was hit by a black pickup at PCH and Agate Street in Redondo Beach around 7 pm on January 5th, suffering a “substantial head injury” after being knocked from his bike. He died eight days later at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.

Yet the story didn’t make the news until the police put out a request for witnesses a full month after the collision.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like it may have been a hit-and-run since the story says the police have identified a suspect. Yet another reason you’d think someone would have mentioned it.

Thanks to Steve Montalto for finding the story.

.………

Then again, sometimes the stories about injured cyclists are worth mentioning.

In a dramatic mountain rescue that was carried live on a number of L.A. TV stations, a sheriff’s department air rescue crew airlifted a cyclist to safety after he slid off Glendora Mountain Road around 10 am Tuesday.

Just a month after the death of cyclist Kevin Unck on the same road, a 22-year old cyclist, identified only as a Hispanic resident of Walnut, lost control of his bike during a high speed descent and plunged 200 to 300 feet down the mountainside.

Despite his injuries, he was able to reach his cell phone and call for help; without it, it’s entirely possible that no one would have known he was there — let alone that he needed rescue — until it was too late.

Remarkably, reports indicate that the cyclist’s injuries are not life threatening.

George Wolfberg, who seems to have his finger on everything bike-related in the L.A. area, forwards an excellent description of the morning’s events from Captain Mike Parker of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

(Note: while the story refers to the rider as a mountain cyclist, the footage on KABC Channel 7 appears to show a road bike.):

Mountain bicyclist rescued by Sheriff’s helicopter crew after 300 foot fall in Glendora

A 22-year mountain bicyclist lost control while riding alone down a steep mountain road Monday, falling nearly 300 feet down the mountainside in rugged terrain in Glendora.

The male Hispanic resident of Walnut, an experienced mountain bike rider, said he was unable to slow down in time as he picked up too much speed on Glendora Mountain Road at Glendora Ridge Mountainway in the Glendora area of the Angeles National Forest.

He was unable to stop as he went over the edge and fell a distance about the length of a football field. Injured, he called rescuers from his cell phone in the remote area at about 10:10AM. Surprisingly, he was able to get a phone connection.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, as did officers from the Glendora Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including San Dimas Sheriff’s Station for a mutual aid effort to find and rescue the man.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air-5 rescue helicopter and flight crew including deputy sheriff paramedics were in the area and found the man at about 10:45AM. Sheriff’s helicopter rescue Crew Chief Deputy Darrel Airhart lowered two paramedic sheriff’s deputies via a hoist, while the deputy pilots hovered over a deep ravine.

Paramedic Deputies Mark Desmarteau and Dan Aleman were lowered from the helicopter into position. They provided emergency medical attention, secured the injured man into a gurney, and prepared to have him hoisted up into the helicopter.

As Deputy Desmarteau was hanging off the side of the gurney to protect and secure the injured man, the deputy was dragged through trees and brush, but the injured man was kept clear of these hazards. The team was able to bring the man safely up into the helicopter, which must have been an unnerving but necessary experience for the injured hiker.

By 11:15AM, about one hour after being notified, the deputies were bringing the injured man into the helicopter. Soon thereafter, they flew him to an area hospital for medical treatment. Although injured, the bicyclist’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. The rescued man was very appreciative and thanked the deputies for their efforts.

“Given the terrain, we were surprised to see he could get cell phone reception, especially on the back side of the ridge line,” said Deputy Airhart. “It’s a good thing he did or who knows how long he could have been laying there.”

Parademic deputies said the more difficult aspects of the rescue included trying to get their footing and balance so they could secure the injured man into the gurney. Meanwhile, the helicopter rotor wash (the winds created by the helicopter blades) loosened dirt and rocks on the steep terrain, causing the footing to be more difficult and causing the deputies to have to protect the cyclist from flying debris.

The Air 5 rescue helicopter crew and the eight Search and Rescue teams of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department average about 350 search and rescue missions every year, making it one of the most active counties for search and rescue missions in the nation.

.………

This is just another reminder to always carry your cell phone with you when you ride. In fact, it may be the single most important bike safety device you own; if I had to choose between a wearing a helmet or taking a cell phone, I’d take the phone every time.

After all, I’ve landed on my helmet once in 30 years of riding, while I’ve used my cell countless times to report drunk or dangerous drivers, call in collisions or use the camera to defuse dangerous situations with road raging drivers.

That last point was driven home tonight when a friend of mine, Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News, was threatened by an angry driver who quickly calmed down once Joe started recording the interaction on his cell phone.

Thank God he came out of it okay. And had the presence of mind to defuse the situation.

.………

Today’s news took precedence over my take on Sunday’s I the Westside ride; barring any more breaking events, I’ll try to get my thoughts and photos online Tuesday.

%d bloggers like this: