Tag Archive for L.A.P.D.

Guest Post: Deep data analysis reveals the real causes of LA bike collisions

The key to improving bike safety is understanding how and why collisions occur.

Which has been almost impossible to figure out here in Los Angeles, where no one was keeping track of such vital statistics until recently. Let alone analyzing them.

I tried digging the data out of the statewide SWITRS traffic collision database before giving up, as have others before and since.

Now long-time LA bike advocate Dennis Hindman has dug through data compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department to uncover the causes of collisions — at least as determined by LAPD traffic investigators — with surprising results.

And makes the commonsense suggestion bicycling infrastructure should be installed first where cyclists ride, and collisions occur. At least until we have a fully built-out bicycling network.

I’m sharing the results of Hindman’s investigation, with his permission.

It’s a must read for anyone who cares about bike safety, and ensuring that everyone who goes out on a bike ride comes back home in one piece.

……..

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data results from 2007 through 2013 have a doubling of commuting by bicycle from 0.6% to 1.2%. Los Angeles Police Department reported 1,335 bicycle collisions in 2007 and 2,413 in 2013. That’s a 81% increase. Although the bicycle collisions have significantly increased, the rate of collisions per total number of bicycle riders has no doubt fallen.

I did a totaling of type of collisions in the first 100 pages (about 500 collisions) of the 484 page 2013 bicycle collision report that mentions each collisions individually and found the reported collision type or primary factor in the collisions to be:

  • 220 broadside
  • 110 wrong side (usually got hit by driver turning right)
  • 146 Right of Way auto
  • 70 stop sign
  • 40 improper turn
  • 48 sideswipe
  • 30 head on
  • 22 rear end
  • 10 improper turn
  • 8 too close
  • 5 improper driving
  • 10 lane change
  • 29 unsafe speed (usually unclear when that refers to bicycle or motor vehicle)

I haven’t seen anything in the report that mentions hitting a parked car door. There are several reports about hitting a parked vehicle though. I’ll try to figure out how many times that occurred in the total. Its much less frequent than getting broadsided.

Right of Way auto and broadside I assume would mean a bicycle running a stop sign or running a red light and a motor vehicle that had the right-of-way hitting the bicycle. I have yet to see a collision report state ROW bicycle, although it occasionally mentions ROW pedestrian.

The report does mention collisions when a motor vehicle was making a right-turn as a bicycle was going straight. I’ll try to see how frequently that occurred in relation to all types of collisions. This also seems to be a small proportion compared to the number of broadsides.

A Los Angeles Department of Transportation bikeway traffic engineer recently stated that they do not do treatments for bicycles at intersections. The bike lanes are striped where there are no crossing points for motor vehicles such as driveways, freeway on and off ramps, and cross street intersections.

The MIT Media Lab made a great looking map of all the LAPD reported bicycle collisions for 2012:

http://youarehere.cc/p/bicycle-accidents/losangeles

When I look at that map it seems to me that the bulk of the LADOT resources for bicycling should be concentrated in the areas of the city where the bicycle collisions are densely packed together. That’s also where the most bicycling occurs. If there are few staff members and a very small budget, then why try to install bicycle improvements across the whole city at once. That dilutes the effect by spreading out the improvements so much that they don’t connect into a network of any sort and the quality of the infrastructure won’t be as good because the emphasis is on quantity.

……..

Hindman followed-up with a brief email providing a little additional information and clarification. 

When I mentioned 70 crashes involving a stop sign it should be stop sign or traffic signal. I’m getting better at understanding the abbreviations in the crash data and hopefully I can tabulate the primary collisions factors and collisions types for 2013. I counted 16 bicycle fatalities for 2013.* One pedestrian was killed by a bicycle rider in 2007 and in 2012, but none in 2013. Both of these pedestrians were in their 80’s.

Spot checking the MIT Media Lab results of 54 bicycle crashes for Van Nuys Blvd I noticed that any time the LAPD bicycle crash data mentions Van Nuys as the primary or secondary street it was counted by MIT as a crash on Van Nuys Blvd. I have to assume that all the street crashes mentioned were totaled the same way.

……..

*Editor’s note: My records show 18 bicycling fatalities in the City of Los Angeles in 2013. The discrepancy may be due to one rider killed in a train collision, and another who was walking his bike when he was hit by a car; it’s possible neither was classified as a bike collision in the LAPD stats. Two of the cyclists killed in 2013 died as a result of doorings. 

 

Weekend Links: CicLAvia comes to South LA Sunday; new LAPD video says don’t get killed running a stop sign

It doesn’t look like I’m going to make Sunday’s South LA CicLAvia, even though it’s shaping up as possibly the best CicLAvia ever.

So go in my place. Have fun.

And say hello to LA’s historic undiscovered country south of the Santa Monica Freeway.

……..

CicLAvia leads KNBC’s list of things to do this weekend. The South LA community looks forward to their big day on LA’s center stage, while Streetsblog looks at what’s on tap all along the route.

The Militant Angeleno offers his must read guide to the South LA CicLAvia route; seriously, no one knows LA’s history and significant cultural sites better. No, really, click on the damn link, already.

And the new Silverlake Shinola hosts a neighborhood block party to celebrate its Grand Opening just as CicLAvia comes to a close; Angel City Brewery will be there to aid your post ride recovery.

……..

If CicLAvia isn’t in your plans, you can show your respect for a fallen rider killed by an LA sheriff’s deputy — who escaped without even the usual slap on the wrist — with Sunday’s Ceremonial Spin with the family of Milt Olin.

……..

The LAPD introduces a new traffic safety campaign.

Do I really need to mention that the first ad blames bike riders for getting themselves killed — even though none of the 11 cyclists killed in the city this year died as a result of running a stop sign?

……..

Local

The response from drivers to the LA Times’ recent story about bike-involved hit-and-runs is to blame the damn cyclists for getting hit. So evidently, they think running away after running down a cyclist is justified? Now that’s scary.

LA’s new bike lanes are just a step in the right direction towards improving traffic congestion and air quality.

Two LA city councilmembers introduce motions to fix those bad roadway patches that can make a bike ride miserable or take a rider down.

 

State

Calbike comes up with an aggressive agenda for next year, including requiring insurance companies to pay for collisions drivers cause, even if they aren’t directly involved.

The OC Weekly misinterprets the Newport Beach safety crackdown as targeting bad bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, even though the plan is to target all violations that endanger vulnerable users, whoever commits them.

 

National

GoPro is trying to, uh, go pro.

The Women’s Road World Cup will come back to the US next year.

People for Bikes reaches one million riders; you’ll find my name somewhere around the first thousand or so.

Tucson cyclists now enjoy over 1,000 miles of bicycling infrastructure. Although I’m not sure bike routes should count.

St. Paul hopes to catch up with its bike friendly twin city with a comprehensive new bike plan.

Tension still exists between cyclists and drivers in bike friendly Chattanooga. Just like everywhere else.

Orlando cyclists illegally stick to the sidewalk because they’re afraid to ride in the street.

 

International

The BBC says Bolivia’s Death Road has become the hot new route for risk-taking mountain bikers; the photos alone are worth the click.

We’re winning, at least overseas. Bikes are creating more jobs in Europe than carmakers in the US.

Even getting filmed kicking another London rider off his bike into rush hour traffic isn’t good enough for more than a warning.

Sometimes expensive mechanical problems aren’t.

At least we only have to worry about LA drivers. Rome’s bike-riding mayor may have to start taking a limo to the office after his life is threatened by mobsters.

A Helsinki study shows what I’ve always suspected — slower speed limits move traffic more efficiently.

An auto-centric Aussie coroner responds to the death of a cyclist by saying bikes should be banned from the motorway he was riding on, rather than suggesting motorists could conceivably drive more safely.

 

Finally…

At 1,500 an hour, the best way to burn off those holiday calories could be fat biking. Bring your Christmas tree home by bike. Ride inside this winter with your own DIY rollers for just $32.

And in case you were wondering, the AP says Kris Kringle should be spelled with a double S, and Chanukah without the C; meanwhile MAMIL makes the Oxford English Dictionary, along with carne asada and Secret Santa.

 

Weekend Links: LAPD officers accused of beating South LA bike rider, SDSU police blame the victims in bike wrecks

An LAPD officer is accused of beating and kicking a bike rider in South LA.

According to the LA Times, 22-year old Clinton Alford was riding on the sidewalk on Avalon Blvd near 55th Street — something that’s perfectly legal in Los Angeles — on October 16th when a police car pulled up behind him and he was ordered to stop.

However, Alford kept riding, since he says the person failed to identify himself as a cop. After a brief pursuit, he voluntarily laid down on the street and put his hands behind his back, making no attempt to resist as officers restrained him.

That is, until another very large officer arrived on the scene. And immediately stomped Alford as the other officers held him down.

The officer then dropped to the ground and delivered a series of strikes with his elbows to the back of Alford’s head and upper body, sources said. Alford’s head can be seen on the video hitting the pavement from the force of the strikes, two sources recounted. Afterward, the officer leaned his knee into the small of Alford’s back and, for a prolonged period, rocked or bounced with his body weight on Alford’s back, the sources said. At one point, the officer put his other knee on Alford’s neck, a source said.

It gets worse.

The paper describes the officer kicking Alford’s head like a football, before several officers carried his limp body into a patrol car.

Alford was booked for drug possession and resisting arrest, and released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty — likely to be tossed for a lack of probable cause in making the initial stop.

Meanwhile, the officers involved have been relieved of duty — with pay — pending an internal investigation.

……..

Oh please.

The campus police at San Diego State University say bike collisions are up in the area surrounding campus — and that it’s usually the cyclist’s fault. Oh, and those scofflaw cyclists cause psychological trauma to the poor drivers by getting blood on their bumpers.

No victim blaming there.

……..

Local

The LAFD is now the first fire department in the nation to post response times online; and yes, this matters, since your life could depend on how fast help arrives if you’re injured in a fall or collision.

LADOT is testing traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start before cars are allowed to cross the street; hopefully, they’ll try giving bikes the same four-second safety margin.

Calla Weimer — who made a detailed argument here for bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, which Councilmember Paul Koretz blithely ignored to placate wealthy homeowners — calls for more bike lanes and bike racks instead of increased parking at Metro stations (second letter).

Figueroa For All says Koretz’ fellow councilmember Gil Cedillo is putting politics over people by diverting two hundred grand from housing funds to pay for a new traffic signal at a dangerous intersection — when the same amount could pay for the entire already-funded road diet he killed for the same street.

Santa Monica will host a Halloween-themes Kidical Mass ride today, while the Santa Monica Spoke hosts next Sunday’s edition of the LACBC’s Sunday Funday ride.

Wounded vets will ride in Redondo Beach on Sunday, November 9th, the weekend before Veteran’s Day.

A local couple create what the Long Beach Post calls the ultimate guide to urban cycling.

 

State

Ford works with California-based Pedego to market an e-bike beach cruiser under their own moniker.

Calbike’s coming 241-mile bike tour will avoid parts of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach due to the dangerous conditions on the cities’ streets.

San Diego considers a one-mile bike path through congested Mission Valley.

The San Luis Obispo sheriff’s department is asking for donations of unwanted children’s bikes to be repaired and given to kids this Christmas.

San Francisco thinks cargo bikes have a role to play in improving disaster response.

 

National

USA Cycling has three job openings at their Colorado Springs CO headquarters.

VeloNews talks to a recovering Taylor Phinney.

Seattle’s mandatory helmet law could hinder the city’s new bike share program.

In another case of cops gone wild, Idaho police detain five BMX riders for the crime of being in a skate park 12 minutes after closing time — then illegally tell them they don’t have any legal rights when one tries to record the confrontation.

A road raging Kansas driver intentionally veers into a cyclist, knocking him into a ditch, then turns around and rams him again before fleeing the scene. All in front of a sheriff’s deputy and two witnesses who saw the whole thing.

A Minneapolis cyclist says a new protected bike lane could make things more dangerous for bike riders, and says there’s little research on the subject — ignoring studies that show protected bike lanes reduce injuries up to 90%.

 

International

An 85-year old Vancouver man regains his mobility with an e-bike.

A UK cyclist is threatened with a knife after a man demands to “borrow” his bike, then refuses to give it back.

A road raging Brit driver is convicted of intentionally running into a cyclist.

Three men are convicted for stealing over 500 bikes from British railway stations.

Graeme Obree and son plan to go after the pedal-powered land speed record once again next year.

A Vienna, Austria industrial design student has invented a self-filling bike water bottle that literally sucks moisture from the air.

 

Finally…

Lance can’t even ride in a non-competitive Gran Fondo run by his fellow ex-doper friend. A London website takes the city’s bike bashing Baroness to task for her vigilante violence. And over 91% of UK residents insist that cyclists aren’t a menace on the roads.

 

Morning Links: Sign up online for BAC agendas and minutes, and LAPD cracks down on USC cyclists

Maybe LA city government really is becoming more open and accessible under Mayor Garcetti.

For the first time, you can sign up for reports and agendas from a long list of city agencies and committees — including the city’s long-neglected Bicycle Advisory Committee.

You’ll find them listed under the LADOT heading, where you can opt to receive BAC agendas and minutes, as well as other LADOT groups including the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

And just below, you’ll find reports from the police and fire commissions. Both of which have a lot to say about your ability to ride legally and safely.

Thanks to BAC members David Wolfberg and Glenn Bailey for the heads-up.

……..

The LAPD cracks down on salmon cyclists at USC, calling it a last resort in response to a rising number of bike collisions on and around the campus.

Actually, the last resort appears to be campus officials acknowledging the high level of bike commuting students, and working with city officials to accommodate bike riders so they don’t feel a need to break the law.

There’s a reason UCLA is recognized as a bike-friendly campus. And USC isn’t.

……..

Local

Laemmle Theater president and LACBC board member Greg Laemmle says we need good policies and urban planning, and smart business practices to encourage bicycling and walking in LA County.

A 16-year old LA student transforms his life — and his formerly 250 pound body — by biking to school.

Flying Pigeon’s Richard Risemberg attends a glum Bicycle Plan Implementation meeting, which brightens considerably when he discovers new LADOT head Seleta Reynolds had been listening patiently for the whole meeting. Turns out she stopped by Tuesday’s BAC meeting, too.

Ride to celebrate the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, expected to be announced by President Obama on Friday; CORBA offers only conditional support for the designation.

Cyclists are invited to participate in a public workshop on October 22nd to develop a joint bike plan for Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu and Westlake Village.

A new two-mile stretch of bike path opens along Coyote Creek in La Mirada.

 

State

Inland riders are gearing up for Sunday’s Temecula Valley Century, with five rides ranging from 6.4 to 101.5 miles. None of which is a bike race, regardless of what the Press Enterprise might say.

Local merchants are on board this time for Salinas’ second ciclavia.

The SF Gate talks with the Sonoma County Gran Fondo cyclist felled by a squirrel through the spokes; he was lucky to get away with a concussion and minor facial fracture. And you don’t want to miss that amazing photo of the squirrel jammed in his wheel; then again, maybe you do. Thanks to Kent D for the second link.

 

National

HTC unveils a periscope shaped cam to compete with GoPro.

A Seattle website explains what happens after your bike is stolen. And it ain’t pretty.

Now that’s more like it. A Texas driver gets 18 years — yes, years — in jail for killing a cyclist while under the influence. He was caught attempting to hide the victim’s body after driving away with his headlights off when the bike rider tumbled into the bed of his truck following the collision.

A Kentucky teenager apologizes for throwing a cup of ice at a cyclist and goes for a ride with his victim; does it matter that a judge ordered him to do it?

There’s a special place in hell for someone who’d shoot a seven-year old Detroit girl out riding her bike; she was collateral damage in a car-to-car shootout.

Bad enough when people drive in the bike lane; worse when they get high and drive down a Michigan bike path.

Bikeyface complains about bike lane bike creeps.

We may have to worry about rabid LA drivers, but New Jersey cyclists have to deal with rabid coyotes; I’m not sure which is worse.

Many cyclists have ridden along the Hudson River, but not many have actually pedaled across it.

The Orlando paper endorses a plan for a continuous 275-mile bike trail from the Atlantic to the Gulf coasts.

 

International

London, Ontario cyclists reject the city’s new bike plan as too little, too late.

A Brit police and crime commissioner says cyclists should be forced to wear numbered plates big enough to be read at a distance so they can be identified and prosecuted when they break the law. After all, that’s worked so well to curb law-breaking by motorists, right?

Despite what the local authorities say, the jerks who stretched a cord across a British roadway at neck height aren’t morons, they’re terrorists attempting to injure or intimidate bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Good thing cycling has cleaned up it’s act. Otherwise, the Astana team could be in trouble after not one, but two riders test positive for EPO.

Tres shock! An Aussie study suggests cyclists break the law because they don’t feel safe on the streets.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Extreme off-road Lego bike stunts. Yes, Lego. Evidently, they really are out to get us, as a car — a real one — crashes into a Brit bike shop, at least the 10th time it’s happened to the same store.

And a rare condition can give cyclists a third, non-functional testicle — including riders who weren’t born with two.

 

Morning Links: BOLO alert for Brentwood hit-and-run driver

The LAPD wants your help in tracking down the hit-and-run driver who seriously injured a bike rider in Brentwood last November.

Brentwood BOLO

Then again, they might have better luck if they didn’t wait five months to ask for help next time.

Just a suggestion.

……..

Local

The LA Times offers the latest reminder about this weekend’s Finish the Ride to call attention to the problem of hit-and-run.

Wrap up next month’s Bike Week with the first Bike Night at Union Station.

KCRW’s beginning LA bike rider takes a Confident City Cycling course and concludes that drivers need bike education, too.

The Bike League looks at the Santa Monica Bike Center, now a Platinum-level Bike Friendly Business. And managed by the instructor of the afore mentioned CCC course.

Long Beach police are on the lookout for a bike riding groper.

 

State

Mark your calendar for the Honor Ride Irvine this August.

San Francisco motorists demand the restoration of balance in the city’s transportation planning; in other words, a return to all cars all the time.

I like it. San Francisco police virtually dare thieves to steal a bait bike. And pass out “Is this a bait bike?” stickers to post on your bike to make thieves think twice.

San Francisco’s bike share program expands to the East Bay despite the Bixi bankruptcy.

California’s proposed bike tax becomes a potential $5 fee on cars to repair and maintain bike paths in regional parks. Although I wonder how many voters, aka drivers, will be willing to tax themselves to fund bikes — especially when it requires a two-thirds majority.

 

National

This should be fun, as recently retired pro Dave Zabriskie commits to riding this year’s RAAM to promote Yield to Life as part of the Legends of the Road team.

A petition asks online fences websites Craigslist and EBay to require serial numbers on all bike ads. Of course, sellers could just lie about them, but still.

USA Today names Davis CA the best cycling town in America; my hometown comes in at number two.

Portland teens injure two people by throwing bricks at passing bike riders; one victim nearly loses an eye.

Ottumwa, Iowa Shriners are expecting 70 – 80 riders for a 30-mile Ride With the Clowns. Something like that could draw hundreds here; just don’t sniff any flowers.

Submitted without comment. North Carolina’s 21-time national champ admits to doping with amphetamines, synthetic testosterone and EPO. At age 62.

 

International

A Vancouver company plans bicycling sunglasses with a heads-up display.

A new World Health Organization report says if London achieved Copenhagen-like riding levels, it could save 500 lives a year and create 8,000 jobs.

David Hembrow looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of on-road bike lanes.

This time the tainted meat excuse actually works, as former Aussie world time trial champ Michael Rogers is cleared of doping charges after blaming Chinese meat.

 

Finally…

For the English-challenged members of the media, there is a big difference between “watch out for bike riders” and “beware of bicyclist.”

Seriously.

 

SoCal cops to bike 300 miles in memory of fallen officers next month

Sometimes, what you’re looking for shows up exactly when you’re not looking for it.

I’ve been seeing online comments from various LAPD officers training for the Police Unity Tour of Southern California Challenge Ride. And made a mental note to ask about it after CicLAvia.

Instead, as I stopped at one of the smaller hubs, I looked over to my right. And there was a booth manned by LAPD officers promoting exactly that.

Olympic Division Senior Lead Officer Eric Mollinedo explained the purpose of the bike tour, which runs nearly 300 miles from New Jersey to Washington DC, is to raise awareness and honor officers who have died in the line of duty. As well as to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial.

I can’t think of a better cause.

I’ll let Mollinedo explain in a letter he wrote seeking donations.

Dear friends and family,

On May 10, 2014, I will join nearly 1500 law enforcement officers from throughout the country who will bicycle along varying routes, each nearly 300 miles, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC. This year, the Police Unity Tour – Southern California Chapter will have nearly 100 police officers representing the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and police departments from Alhambra, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Los Angeles, Palos Verdes Estates, and Pasadena.

On May 10th, we will depart from Somerset, New Jersey and travel through Philadelphia, Baltimore, and ultimately into Washington DC. On May 13th, we will join over 50,000 people at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil. During the ceremony, the names of every officer who died in the line of duty during 2013 will be read and his/her name officially added to the Memorial, which already contains over 19,000 fallen heroes.

The primary purpose of the Police Unity tour is to raise awareness about the police officers that have died in the line of duty. Our motto is, “We ride For Those Who Died.” The secondary purpose is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Since its inception in 1997, the Police Unity Tour has raised over $14 million to support the Memorial. It is because of your incredible level of support and financial contributions that I will be able to participate in the 2014 Police Unit Tour and ensure that the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten.

I am seeking your financial support in order to allow me to ride in this incredibly worthwhile event. Each rider must raise approximately $2500 in order to participate in the Tour. The first $1850 is paid to the Police Unity Tour. This money includes a $1000 donation to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and $850 to cover support services, ground transportation, overnight lodging, and food while we ride. Donations to the Police Unity Tour are tax deductible (Tax ID# 22-3530541). If you are not concerned about the tax deduction, you may write a check directly to me, which will be applied to the cost of airfare and other expenses that I am responsible for. Any donated monies in excess of what is used for airfare and expenses will be donated to the Police Unity Tour.

Thank you so much for your consideration in supporting the Police Unity Tour. If you have any questions… please send me an email.

Sincerely,

Eric Mollinedo
31754@lapd.lacity.org

(Note: To protect the officer’s privacy, I’ve removed any contact information other than his email address.)

You can also donate through PayPal in the name of Mollinedo, or a long list of other officers, by clicking here.

A couple of names jumped out at me from that list; South Traffic Division bike liaison Sgt. Jon Aufdemberg and Valley Traffic Division bike liaison Sgt. Steve Egan are both listed among the participants. And both are men I can personally vouch for; you can find their email addresses on the Resources page.

One other note. Mollinaedo told me he’s riding in memory of fallen LAPD officer Nicholas Lee, who was killed in a crash on Sunset Blvd in Beverly Hills last month.

Sadly, another LAPD officer lost his life yesterday, as 27-year veteran Chris Cortijo died from injuries he suffered when his motorcycle was hit by a driver allegedly high on cocaine.

In a case of tragic irony, he had arrested over 3,000 DUI suspects before becoming victim to one.

 

No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

Good news and bad news: LAPD makes hit-and-run arrest; bike rider killed in Compton

Ghost bike for Compton victim Pete; photo by Danny Gamboa

Ghost bike for Compton victim Pete; photo by Danny Gamboa

Let’s start with the bad news.

No details yet, but I’ve received confirmation that a bike rider was killed in Compton Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

As if the photo that’s circulating online wasn’t confirmation enough. And no, I’m not going to share it here.

According to the reports, he was killed while riding his bike at Compton Blvd and North Dwight Ave. Friends of the victim, who identified him only as Pete, confirm that he was hit by a car sometime before 5 am Wednesday morning and died at the scene; the driver remained at the scene following the collision.

Judging by the photo of the victim, he appears to be a bearded white male with grey hair, possibly in his 50s or 60s.

No other information is available at this time.

This is the 7th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, as we maintain the horrific every-other-day pace since the first of the year. And it is the third cycling death in LA County this year, which suffered an intolerable 39 bike-related deaths in 2013.

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

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: I didn’t recognize the corner, but Gamboa points out it’s the same intersection where Ovidio Morales was killed in a still-unsoved hit-and-run in 2010; his ghost bike is still there across the intersection. 

He reports one of the victim’s friends said he was a good man who struggled with alcohol, and was in and out of treatment programs.

As the photo suggests, neighbors have placed candles in his memory.

………

Gamboa also forwards word that an arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of a Panarama City man, who has not been publicly identified at the request of the man’s family.

According to a press release from the LAPD,

Fatal Hit And Run Driver taken into custody

On January 13, 2014 at 6 PM Valley Traffic Division Detectives arrested a 46-year old male, Rene Amaya of Panarama City on suspicion of the felony hit and run (20001(a)VC) death of a bicyclist, which occurred on December 23, 2013, at the intersection of Burnet Ave and Lanark St in the Community of Panarama City, California. Bail was set at $50,000.

Maybe someone can explain to me why we continue to grant such a low bail to someone who has already demonstrated a willingness to flee after taking a life.

Cutting through the confusion — LAPD clarifies why driver wasn’t cited in last week’s right hook wreck

Call it a case of miscommunication.

Last week’s failure to ticket the driver who right hooked Melanie Freeland as she biked to work — despite being witnessed by two police officers — quickly went from bad to worse.

As Freeland questioned why the driver wasn’t ticketed for failing to signal and yield the right-of-way as required by law, it quickly devolved into a desk officer arguing with her and refusing to put through her call to the bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division.

And led to an explanation from the Watch Commander on duty at the time of the collision that made it appear that most police officers are prohibited from writing traffic tickets, even if they witness the incident.

Or maybe not.

That bike liaison in question, LAPD Central Traffic Division’s Sgt. Laszlo Sandor, went to great lengths to clarify matters at last night’s regularly scheduled bike liaison meeting, which evolved from the department’s long-standing bike task force.

First off, the officers who witnessed the collision could have written a ticket on the spot. The reason they didn’t wasn’t that they didn’t have specific training in traffic law, as Freeland had understood from the Watch Commander’s explanation. It was that they were due in court, and had to hand the case off to someone else to avoid the wrath of an angry judge.

Or worse, having their case dismissed.

Secondly, Freeland reported that the Watch Commander had described a Catch 22 that would seem to prevent most patrol officers from writing a ticket in virtually any situation.

She stated that in order for a traffic citation to be issued two criteria must be met. An LAPD officer must witness the incident and be trained in traffic laws (taken the special course in traffic). Because the [traffic officer] didn’t witness the incident it did not meet the two criteria. Secondly, the officer who did witness the incident is not trained in traffic laws, so again it does not meet the criteria.

In other words, as she understood it, in order to issue a ticket at the scene, an officer must 1) actually witness the infraction, and 2) have specialized training in traffic investigations.

Which counts out the overwhelming majority of officers on the street.

Well, almost.

As Sgt. Sandor explained, there are two ways a driver — or a bike rider or pedestrian, for that matter — can be held accountable for an infraction.

The first is the one we’re all familiar with.

Someone commits an infraction, like running a red light, for instance. An officer sees it, fires up the lights and sirens, and tickets the violator on the spot.

Or in this case, can write a ticket after actually witnessing a collision. Which these officers could have done, but didn’t, for the reason explained above.

The second way is what the Watch Commander evidently tried, and failed, to explain. A driver can be ticketed after the fact if the investigating officer can conclusively determine what actually happened based on witness statements and the evidence at the scene.

But in order to do that, the officer must have specialized training in traffic investigations.

So any officer can write a ticket for any infraction they witness. Or an officer with specialized traffic investigation training can write a ticket or make an arrest after the fact, based on the totality of evidence.

In addition, there are two ways a driver can be held accountable for an infraction.

Again, he or she can be ticketed or arrested, depending on the severity of the infraction. Or the investigating officer can find the driver at fault in the traffic report, in which case the driver won’t face a fine or jail time, but will be charged points against his or her license by the DMV.

That appears to be what happened in Freeland’s case.

So justice was, apparently, won, despite a full week’s worth of aggravation and confusion.

The officers at the meeting suggested that, in some ways, it’s better to have the driver found at fault and have points charged by the DMV, since, unlike a ticket, it can’t be fought in court or dismissed if the officer is unable to attend the hearing.

Although if the driver is convicted, he will still have points charged against his or her license, as well as face additional penalties from the court.

As for the argument with the desk officer, Sgt. Sandor suggested that the officer was actually trying to help, since he — Sandor — was out of the office for several days.

But in the end, we all agreed that it would have been better to simply send the call to his voice mail, rather than appear to screen the bike liaison’s calls.

On the other hand, all of the department’s bike liaisons at the meeting agreed that email was the best way to contact them, rather than calling. Email leaves a written record of the conversation that they can refer to later. And they receive emails on work computers as well as on their personal devices, regardless of whether they are in the office.

And one more thing.

This morning I received an email from Melanie Freeland, who reported that she was back on her bike and once again riding to work, exactly one week after she was hit by the car.

Now that’s good news.

………

Thanks to Sgt. Sandor for looking into the matter and clarifying a very confusing situation. And thanks to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Colin Bogart, who worked with the LAPD and city officials to assist Freeland in this case.

The LACBC doesn’t often trumpet its victories or the work it does to help individual bike riders — perhaps to its detriment.

But as in the case above, I’ve often witnessed their staff members fighting behind the scenes for the rights of bike riders, whether collectively or on an individual basis. And whether or not they’re members of the coalition.

It’s an organization I’m proud to support and be a part of.

Meanwhile, writing on LA Streetsblog, an LA attorney offers advice on what to do if the police fail to adequately respond to a collision.

Update: LAPD traffic investigators evidently don’t believe other cops who witness a right hook bike collision

Evidently, cops aren’t credible witnesses.

At least as far as LAPD traffic officers are concerned.

Imagine you’re riding along when a driver right hooks you — not just turning across your path, but illegally making a right turn from the left lane — and in the process, not only violates your right-of-way, but causes a collision.

And for once, not just one, but two cops witness the whole thing.

And then…

Nothing.

………

That’s exactly what happened yesterday morning, when Melanie Freeland was making her regular bike commute from Highland Park to Downtown LA.

She was riding on North Broadway through Chinatown around 8:40 am, in the right peak hour lane — that is, what would normally be the parking lane, but converts to a regular traffic lane to accommodate rush hour traffic.

As she was passing the Far East National Bank at 977 N. Broadway, the Lexus traveling in the lane on her left — what was, in effect, the center of three lanes — suddenly turned into the building’s parking lot. The driver cut across the lane Freeland was riding in, without warning, forcing her off the roadway and causing her bike to collide with the car’s door and front panel.

A classic right hook, with the extra added benefit of an illegal turn from the wrong lane. Without signaling, no less.

If that’s not clear, just imagine you’re in the right lane of a two lane street, and the driver on the left suddenly makes a right turn directly in front of you.

And for once, a cop saw the whole thing.

Two police officers — one in uniform, the other in plain clothes — were on their way to court when the collision occurred right before their eyes. They pulled over to offer assistance, calling for an ambulance and staying with her until a regular traffic officer arrived to investigate.

Both officers — I’m leaving out the names of all the cops involved, though Freeland provided their names and badge numbers* — said the driver failed to signal or yield the right-of-way. But even though they were the ones who witnessed the wreck, it would be up to the traffic cop to actually issue a ticket.

The officers gave their report to the traffic investigator, then left for the courthouse.

………

And that’s when everything went to hell.

The investigator told Freeland he couldn’t issue a ticket or determine fault in the collision because he did not actually witness it, saying he “could not issue a traffic ticket for something he did not see.”

Never mind that two sworn officers did. As well as a security guard for the building, who supported the first officers’ version of events.

So Freeland smartly asked to speak with the traffic officer’s supervisor. Yet when the Sergeant arrived, she repeated the exact same sentence.

And added that “It is not a crime to hit a pedestrian.”

Note to police: bike riders are not pedestrians. We have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicle operators, and are allowed on every public street cars are allowed to use, with the exception of some limited access freeways. Calling us pedestrians implies we belong on the sidewalk and belittles our legal right to the roadway.

While it’s true that police officers are generally prohibited from writing citations for traffic violations they don’t witness, I’ve been assured by officers that they can write a ticket or make an arrest based on clear evidence pointing to responsibility for a collision or other violation.

And if the testimony of two cops who witnessed the whole thing — as well as a third independent witness — isn’t clear evidence, I don’t know what the hell is.

Instead, the officers sent just as clear a message that, as far as they’re concerned, bikes don’t’ belong on the street. And good luck getting justice.

Just like the bad old days of LAPD’s anti-bike, windshield bias I thought we’d left long behind us under Chief Beck’s more enlightened leadership.

As Michael MacDonald put it in an email informing me of the case,

There are a lot of things wrong in this picture, not the least of which is that LAPD has again made it clear that cyclists are essentially fair game. I am particularly frustrated that someone I know that had made a concerted effort to make a mode shift towards cycling and to educate herself to ride safely now feels no degree of protection on the road, and is deterred from ever commuting by bike in Los Angeles again.

Fortunately, Freeland does not appear to have suffered any serious injuries, although she was due to be examined by a physician late yesterday.

She’s following up with the original officers, and contacting the department’s bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division. And she plans to reach out to Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Jose Huizar to express her disappointment and call for safety improvements on Broadway.

Police officers also tell me you should contact the Watch Commander overseeing the officers involved as quickly as possible after an incident like this.

But make no mistake.

Yesterday the LAPD failed Melanie Freeland.

Tomorrow, it might be you.

*My purpose here is not to embarrass the officers. The LAPD was been provided with all the names and badge numbers; it’s up to them to deal with the individuals involved.

Update: Okay, now I’m pissed. Melanie Freeland emailed this morning that she tried to call the bike liaison officer for the Central Traffic Division after I passed his contact information on to her. Except the desk officer who took the call initially refused to put the call through, significantly misrepresenting her case and saying “I know the same laws he does.”

She was finally able to leave a message, but hasn’t heard back yet.

Under former LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the department made great strides in improving relations with the bicycling community. But the expanded bike liaison program is absolutely meaningless if self-appointed gatekeepers are allowed to screen their calls.

And no one should ever have to face an argument when reaching out to anyone in the department for help.

I’ve praised the LAPD as one of the most progressive and bike-friendly police departments in the county since Chief Beck took over. But this is starting to feel like a huge step back to the bad old days.

Update 2: Freeland reports she spoke with the Watch Commander on duty at the time of the incident. Who turned out to be the same Sergeant who came to the scene and backed up the original traffic officer. 

In the course of a long conversation, the officer described a Catch 22 that makes it almost impossible for the department to issue a ticket to anyone. Which goes a long way towards explaining the wild west mentality of LA streets, where drivers feel entitled to do virtually anything without fear of consequences.

I called the Central Traffic Division and asked to speak with the Watch Commander on duty yesterday. As I probably should have guessed it was [the Sergeant she’d spoken to at the scene].  I explained to her my phone conversation with [the desk officer] and she stated she did not know why he would state it was a rear end incident when it wasn’t.  We talked at length about why a citation would not be issued for this offense.  She stated that in order for a traffic citation to be issued two criteria must be met. An LAPD officer must witness the incident and be trained in traffic laws (taken the special course in traffic). Because the [traffic officer] didn’t witness the incident it did not meet the two criteria. Secondly, the officer who did witness the incident is not trained in traffic laws, so again it does not meet the criteria.  Thus it is now my understanding, due to the letter of the law that it is not possible for the LAPD to issue a citation to the driver who hit me.

But aren’t all officers trained in traffic law at the Academy? 

And are you seriously trying to tell me that a uniformed LAPD officer lacks sufficient judgement and training to determine that a driver failed to signal and violated the right-of-way of another road user?

Sorry, but this explanation sounds like BS.

And if it isn’t, even worse.

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