Tag Archive for Los Angeles Wheelmen

Update: President of LA Wheelmen dies in riding fall

All week, I’ve been hearing rumors of a serious accident on an LA Wheelmen ride over the weekend.

Today I got confirmation. And the news is worse than we thought.

According to the LAW Facebook page, group president Pam Leven was involved in a riding accident when she touched wheels with another rider on Sunday. Both she and the other rider went down hard; unfortunately, she suffered injuries including a broken hip and collarbone, as well severe head and facial trauma. The second rider was not seriously injured.

She was taken to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where she died at 3 pm today after being taken off life support without regaining consciousness.

And yes, she was wearing a helmet when she fell.

I haven’t been able to find any other details yet; I’ll share them if and when I do. Please let me know if you have any additional information.

Her death is going to touch many local riders very deeply, as the Wheelmen are a popular riding group in the city, and Pam was well known, and clearly, well loved. In addition, she was the treasurer for the Independent Writers of Southern California for over 20 years; I’m told members of the group are in shock over her loss.

This is the 83rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, in what has turned out to be a very bad year. Since she was taken to UCLA, I’m assuming this occurred in LA County, which would make her the 35th bike rider to die in the county this year, compared to 22 last year.

She is also the sixth SoCal rider to die as a result of solo falls or collisions with another rider this year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Pam Leven and her husband Bob, and all their family and loved ones.

Thanks to Jim Lyle, Lynn Ingram, Jenna Radomile and Topomodesto for the heads-up.

Update: The initial draft was based primarily on Facebook comments, and contained a number of errors, which have been corrected above. Thanks to Monica Vogl for the corrections.

Update 2: I’ve received an unconfirmed report that the fall that took Pam Leven’s life occurred Sunday afternoon near the intersection of Sunset Blvd and Amalfi Drive in Pacific Palisades. 

That places it within the City of Los Angeles, which has now seen 15 bicycling deaths this year.

Update 3: In a comment below, cdp8 points us to the California Triple Crown blog, which offers an online memorial to Pam Leven. In it, he says she was on the Wheelmen’s Newcomer’s Ride when they turned off of Sunset, and she touched wheels with another experienced rider. 

From what I’ve been able to pick up, it sounds like no one was at fault here; it’s just the risk we all assume when we get on a bike and ride at that level. I could have lost my life a dozen times over in the years I’ve been riding if things had just gone a little differently.

It’s also clear that she was loved very deeply, both within and outside the cycling community, and she will be very missed.

BikinginLA takes on the Times Opinion page, and arraignment delayed for killer OC DUI driver

If you’re wondering why there was no post yesterday, here’s one reason.

The LA Times Opinion page continues their excellent series on Sharing the Road in LA with an insightful rebuttal written by the author of BikinginLA to an earlier editorial saying cyclists don’t belong on Wilshire Blvd on the Westside.

Wait, that’s me.


Yesterday’s planned arraignment of Hasti Fakhrai-Bayrooti, the 39-year old lawyer charged with killing OC bike rider Eric Billings while on a cocktail of prescription drugs, has been postponed until December 6th.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti denies she was impaired when she killed the popular father and Mormon elder, despite suggesting that she had no idea what was happening and no control over her car as it drifted into the bike lane.

Yeah, that’s credible.


The Los Angeles Wheelmen are forced to cancel their annual Five County Century after the Forest Service demands a permit to use public roads and rest stops on federal land — even though it had gone on permit-free since 1984.

Despite working out other alternatives, the last straw was the USFS refusal to allow sag wagons to stop on federal roads to aid riders in distress.


Something tells me they’d let a tow truck stop to aid a disabled motorist.

And they’d probably permit an ambulance to rescue riders after they’re forced to keep going despite being at the end of their capabilities because they didn’t have a damn sag wagon to pick them up.

I don’t know if this had anything to do with the recent government shutdown. Or just someone with the forest service who has to visit a proctologist to get a root canal because his head is jammed way too far up his own ass.

Thanks to Vic for the heads-up.


Aviator light

Aviator light

Please forgive the last minute notice.

I’ve mentioned this project before, but it’s worth noting again. You’ve got just a few hours left to back this Kickstarter project for the virtually theft proof and indestructible new Aviator and Afterburner bike lights from Fortified Bicycle Alliance.

I get a lot of pitches to promote various products, most of which go directly into the trash bin. But this one I really like, with tough, ultra-bright LED bike lights smartly designed by a team of former MIT students.

Afterburner light

Afterburner light

Back the project today at a level of $45 or more, and you’ll get one or more of the lights at a discount on the retail price. The Kickstarter is already funded, so you’re guaranteed to get your light(s), with a projected delivery date of next April.

And no, they haven’t promised me anything in exchange for promoting their products.



The hidden bike path along the southbound 405 east of the VA campus that hardly anyone knows about will be closed from now through November. I only learned it existed a couple years ago when a previous shutdown was announced.


In upcoming events, the exhibition Ghost Bikes of LA opens at red5yellow7 this Friday, 4257 Melrose Ave. And Trust South L.A. and Community Health Councils are sponsoring a bike ride from Central Ave to Leimert Park this Sunday to promote peace in South LA


The New York Times looks at the state of bicycling, with reports from the father of vehicular cycling, the founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works, a senior research associate with the University of North Carolina Highway Safe Research Center, a researcher with the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, and the mayor of technical and environmental administration for Copenhagen.


LADOT General Manager Jaime De La Vega highlights the department’s recent accomplishments, including 101 miles of new bike lanes. Maybe it’s a sign of the end times, as the auto-centric San Fernando Valley becomes pedestrian and yes, bike friendly, auto-centric Warner Center wants to get people out of their cars and Northridge could actually become pedestrian-friendly like Westwood — but hopefully without the vacant storefronts. KCET says the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge complex needs to be about more than just cars; evidently, the city is starting to get the message, as they’ve called a new public hearing next Monday. Popular LA cyclist Will Campbell founds the Happy Foot Bicycle Club, which departs each Wednesday before I even get out of bed. Video from last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle HP Gran Prix. The annual Spooky Cross cyclocross race takes place this weekend in Pomona. The CHP will establish a bike and pedestrian safety enforcement project throughout Southern California next year.

Charlie Gandy and Steven Wallauch talk about the upcoming Calbike bike summit on KPCC’s AirTalk program. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske talks with cdmCyclist. A great San Diego program provides refurbished bikes to refugees living in the city. A San Diego triathlete refuses to be pretty in pink. Riverside approves a controversial road diet and bike lanes on Brockton Ave. This is one reason why some cyclists run stop signs, as confusion over who goes first leads to an injury collision. Santa Barbara hosts their first ciclovía on November 2nd. A Menlo Park writer doesn’t like the city’s proposed LA-style cyclist anti-harassment ordinance. A Mountain View writer says the city’s El Camino Real needs cyclists to survive. A Fresno father credits Obamacare for helping save his critically injured bike riding son without bankrupting the family. San Francisco police are targeting cyclists rolling through stop signs; I hope they’re also ticketing drivers who do the same thing. The San Francisco bus that ran over and killed an elderly cyclist was missing a rear wheel guard designed to prevent exactly that. Trying to track down East Bay bike thieves leads to the arrest of a woman for stealing a $1000 pair of jeans.

Distracted driving is killing more bicyclists and pedestrians in the US. Here’s a GOOD pre-ride checklist. Hammerhead wants to be Waze for bikes. The false dichotomy of civil vs militant cyclists. Seattle drivers are confused by new two-way bike lanes. A Colorado driver is found guilty of hit-and-run, but not guilty of vehicular homicide in the death of a cyclist. The per capita bike collision rate rises to record levels in my bike-friendly hometown; drivers are found at fault in 57% of cases. A call to make Montana roads safe for everyone. Wisconsin considers a law making it a felony to kill or injure vulnerable road users. Last year’s vaporware Copenhagen Wheel becomes a reality, easily turning your bike into an e-bike, which is exactly why I don’t want one. The New York Times says cycling is probably pretty safe, or maybe not, sort of. Gotham cyclists, including the famed Bike Snob, are up in arms over an OpEd piece in the NY Times that says blue Citi Bikes are besmirching the city, even though they seem to be popular with rich white people. New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says it’s been a wonderful six years; imagine what she could do here in the next 12. Evidently, in New York, bike lanes just happen. DC cyclists will get a jump on red lights — legally — while drivers will be held more responsible for hitting cyclists. An Atlanta cyclist is run down by a 15-year old in a golf cart.

Canadian police seize a truck used to intentionally run down and kill a bike rider. After an Alberta driver hits a cyclist head-on, she yells at him to get his bike out from under her car — then drives off with it still trapped underneath. Michael Bublé and wife bike baby-free in Vancouver. The Guardian asks if companies like Strava have a responsibility to discourage reckless behavior. A day in the life of a female London bike messenger. A long list of bike books for kids. Four — yes, four — people face manslaughter charges in the apparent hit-and-run death of a Welsh cyclist; can’t wait to see the explanation for that one. The 2014 Tour de France starts in England and returns to the cobbles; meanwhile, the only remaining American Tour de France winner calls Lance Armstrong the greatest fraud and says he belongs in jail. Cyclists and pedestrians make up over half of all traffic fatalities in India. While bikes appear to be booming everywhere else, bike use is dropping Down Under; maybe it’s due to the mandatory helmet law.

Finally, you can wear your new Bianchi around your wrist, without the inconvenience of wrecking it first. If the bike path you’re riding on glows in the dark, do you still need a bike light? And seriously, when you’re carrying cocaine, crack, meth, concealed knives and $1000 Canadian, stop for the damn stop light, already.

Evidently, another drunk driver and dead cyclist just isn’t a big deal

Last Thursday, my wife had the day off, so we decided to run a few errands in Westwood that afternoon. As soon as we stepped out of her car, we noticed the helicopters overhead.

For the uninitiated, there is a code to interpreting helicopters in L.A. One, flying low and circling, is probably a police helicopter responding to a crime report or looking for a suspect. Two or more, flying high and stationary, means news copters covering a story; the more helicopters, the bigger the story.

And one low circling helicopter combined with two or more stationary helicopters mean you probably shouldn’t go outside for awhile.

Clearly, though, something important was happening — confirmed by the presence of over a dozen news vans and satellite trucks parked near the new UCLA hospital. It was only later that we discovered that Michael Jackson had died less than a block from where we were parked, at almost the same moment we arrived.

By the time we got home, a full blown media frenzy had broken, unleashing a tsunami of all things Jackson.

It’s not that the coverage was undeserved. He had been, and clearly still was, a beloved figure, at one time the most important performer of his era. And he died on the cusp of a comeback that could returned him to prominence for his music, rather than the flurry of tabloid reports of recent years.

Yet that tidal wave of coverage swept aside all other news in its path. Including the death of a cyclist early Sunday morning, as well as his critically injured son who was taken to the same hospital where Jackson died.

I heard about the death early in the day on Sunday, but wasn’t able to learn much more than the minimal details included in that report. Finally, today I was able to learn a little more, thanks to the Ventura County Star.

An L.A. County probation officer named Rod Armas, a resident of Kern County, was the cyclist killed; his 14-year old son suffered numerous broken bones but is expected to survive. In addition to his son, he leaves behind a wife and two daughters; my heart and prayers go out to them.

They were struck while on the final leg of a double century sponsored by the Los Angeles Wheelmen. And the human waste of space allegedly responsible is being held on $100,000 bail.

I’m sure we’ll learn more soon as word spreads and the local blogosphere fills in the gaps, and those who knew him begin to address their loss.

But it’s shameful that the local media couldn’t interrupt their breathless coverage of the most minute and mundane details of Michael Jackson’s life and death to make a few phone calls to fill in the blanks in the AP report. Or mention Armas’ tragic death at all.

Then again, it was just another dead cyclist.

And another drunk hit-and-run driver.


Alex metaphorically beats his chest after dropping another rider. Will pays his dues for rolling through a stop sign, and gets a mention in New York Magazine for his touching story of meeting Farah Fawcett. GT in LA falls out of love with his bike. Streetsblog wants to know where LADOT should do more workshops on the bike plan. Ensie offers photographic proof of new much needed bike lockers on the Orange Line. A writer with the Downtown News explores L.A.’s reviving downtown by bike, and should have a new stretch of the L.A. River Bike Path to enjoy soon. And finally, the Atlantic day dreams about bike-only roads, while Russ Roca covers the unofficial and official unveilings of the new Long Beach sharrows, though not everyone shares the love; maybe they could tell LADOT what kind of paint they used.

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