Tag Archive for Mulholland Highway

An open letter to cyclists from the Rock Store photographer, and a warning about a dangerous NELA bike lane

Cyclists tackle The Snake on Muholland; photo by Paul Herold

Cyclists tackle The Snake on Muholland; photo by Paul Herold

Sometimes, my posts get written for me.

Not that I’m complaining.

This is one of those occasions, with an open letter to cyclists from a well-known motor sports photographer. A couple of videos. A request for witnesses from an LA bike lawyer.

And a friend who played an unwanted game of bumper bike near Westside Pavilion on Pico Blvd.

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First up is that open letter to cyclists who ride the famed Snake on Mulholland, aka the Rock Store ride, from Paul Herold, known around the world for his photos of the cyclists, motorcyclists and high-end sports car drivers who test their skills there.

I can’t say I agree with everything he’s written. On the other hand, I don’t ride there; some cyclists who do tell me his advice is spot on.

Either way, it’s worth a read.

Dear Velonauts,

Rumour has it that Amgen’s 2014 Tour of California will be returning to The Snake (the Rock Store climb) this May with the same circuit format we all enjoyed so much back in 2010. While I can find no confirmation on the TOC web site, I see ample support for the rumour in the faces of scores of new visitors I am seeing every weekend. Enthusiasm is not the only thing I am seeing in those new faces though….fear, horror, dread, anger frustration and rage are there too, mixed in with the usual fatigue and desperation. I can’t help much with fatigue. But perhaps I can help ease some of the fear, dread, loathing and rage.

And there's the problem; photo by Paul Herold

And there’s the problem; photo by Paul Herold

After sitting on The Snake camera in hand for seven years of weekends and holidays, I have some ideas to help make your ascent or descent of the Rock Store more enjoyable and safer. First, some perspective.

The Snake is one of the greatest 2.3 mile stretches of tantalizingly twisty tarmac on the West Coast. Located on Mulholland Highway north west Los Angeles County, the road is accessible to millions of car enthusiasts, motorcycle riders and cyclists. And it ain’t no secret. Crash videos from The Snake on YouTube are viewed by tens of millions viewers world wide. Visitors from South America, Europe and Asia are on the hill every weekend to witness the spectacle in person. Unsurprisingly, the top sweeper known as Edward’s Corner, is probably as famous and recognizable as any street curve in the world.

Local car clubs regularly include The Snake on their weekend cruises. National car clubs run The Snake for their national events. Individuals in everything from tricked out Civics to convertible Bugatti Veyrons run The Snake on a normal weekend. And the vehicles Jay Leno brings are sweet enough to ruin your diet.

Photo by Paul Herold

Rider down; photo by Paul Herold

Motorcyclists from all over the USA ride The Snake too. For some, it is a jumping off point for hundreds of miles of canyon and coastal riding. For many, many others, it is an end destination.  I have seen individual riders pass me over 50 times in the course of a day, up and down, again and again loving every minute. The mix of motorcycles is split between crotch rockets, sport tourers and cruisers.

So…how do you stay safe on your bicycle, amidst the mechanized din? Here are my suggestions.

  • Please ride single file. Don’t force overtaking traffic into oncoming lanes. If you are riding with two friends or twenty please respect the rights of the traffic behind you.
  • Lose the ear buds. It is unlawful and dangerous. Not every motorcycle or car has loud pipes.
  • Ride early….or late. The mechanized madness peaks between 10am and 3pm.
  • Hug the white line. I read many years ago that if you can’t keep your road bike on the line, you shouldn’t be on the street. The white line is your friend. Hug it robustly.
  • Generally, the higher the RPM of the vehicle approaching you, the less skilled the operator. Stay alert.
  • Don’t stop and sightsee in turns. Step over the guardrails if you must, unless a wheelchair sounds like fun.
  • Another rider down; photo by Paul Herold

    Another rider down; photo by Paul Herold

    Imagine an out of control car or bike heading your way from the other side of every blind apex…and pick your line accordingly. If a driver or biker is going to lose control, it will usually be at the exit of a turn.

  • While climbing, courteous riders vacate the apex post haste. There is only one ‘best line through’ any turn. If you don’t need that line, don’t hog it
  • If you didn’t climb it, don’t descend with abandon, because you don’t know what road hazards may await…oil, wet patches, gravel….
  • Ride with a GoPro or dash cam. If you complain to me about a car or motorcycle, I can’t educate/mediate/excoriate unless I know who it was.
  • Prepare your body. Out of shape climbers rock to and fro enough to move themselves around within their lane.
  • Prepare your mind. This is not an abandoned country road. You are going to get ‘buzzed’. You are going to hear a horn or two. And you will certainly hear some throaty exhausts.
  • Prepare your bicycle. The Snake is not where you want to discover a slow leak or frayed cable.
  • I keep water, velo tools, tubes (thank you Ashton Johnson of Franco) and air in my truck at all times. So if you are in need, find me on the hill.
  • This is what you may see coming from behind; photo by Paul Herold

    This is what you may see coming from behind; photo by Paul Herold

    STAY OFF THE YELLOW PAINT! It is slick as bal… er, uh… ice. If you try and corner on the yellow lines, you will go down.

  • Be especially vigilant on the first Sunday of each month. A well attended Valley automobile event gets a lot of motors running, usually between 9am and noon.
  • Be prepared for anything. A group from Helen’s on a break neck descent came around a fast curve only to confront an armada of three radio controlled cars screaming towards them in the wrong lane. Semis, garbage trucks and longboarders are also sighted frequently.
  • Road shoulders at the exit of any turn are not the place for repairs. Cross the road or get well off to the side.
  • The better the weather, the more mechanized company you will have.
  • RIDE SINGLE FILE!

In these past few years, I have taken over I million photos on The Snake. In that time, I am aware of only three incidents in which a cyclist was hospitalized, and know of only five incidents involving motor vehicles vs. cyclists. The catalog of close calls and WTF’s could fill a reservoir, but the safety record still isn’t bad.  I’d guess that despite the frenetic nature of a sunny Sunday prime time on The Snake, you are still safer here than you would be on PCH…or in Kabul. ;).

Major speed differential creates danger among the various road users; photo by Paul Herold

Major speed differential creates danger among the various road users; photo by Paul Herold

And there is no real enmity among the motorcyclist towards the cyclists. The moto riders’ #1 complaint is when cyclist ride two or more wide. Conversely, the number one complaint I hear from cyclists is that they were buzzed by a motorcycle. Seems to me that if fewer cyclist rode in social formation, there would be fewer incidents of ‘buzzing’.

My experiences, observations and suggestions are limited specifically to weekend conditions on The Snake, but may have general applicability to narrow canyons throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. As May approaches, there will be more and more riders heading for the Rock Store climb, as our heroes will be doing in the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. The purpose of this letter has been to give you some perspective about The Snake and offer some suggestions that will keep you and everyone else safe.

Come. Ride. Enjoy. Buy pictures! And remember….You Will Never Ride Alone.

Ride safe,

Paul Herold
RockStorePhotos.com
 

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Next up, Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney Josh Cohen offers a warning about a dangerous stretch of bike lane on westbound Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. And he’s looking for witnesses familiar with that hazard for a case he’s handling representing an injured bike rider.

A serious injury has been reported due to a dangerous condition in the center of the westbound bicycle lane on Colorado Boulevard, between Vincent Avenue and Mount Royal Drive, in Eagle Rock. The condition is a deviation in the center of the lane that runs for several yards parallel to and directly between the lines that delineate the bicycle lane. It consists of an undulating ledge that has formed where the asphalt of the roadway dips into a shallow trench where it meets the concrete that forms the gutter and sidewalk. Cracks also exist between traffic side lane line of the bicycle path and the number two vehicular lane (and bus lane). There is also a bus stop just west of and adjacent to the hazard, which makes navigating this section of roadway even more treacherous. Cyclists riding along this section of lane should use extreme caution and be especially mindful, as following the arrow at Vincent Drive that directly them into the bicycle lane on Colorado forces them into having to choose between avoiding a series of cracks on the left side, the ledge on the right, and possibly a bus that may be merging across their path.

Anyone with first-hand information or experience with this situation is urged to call him at 323/937-7105 or email josh@paulfcohenlaw.com.

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Okay, so it’s not LA. Or even Southern California.

Or the US, for that matter.

But I was forwarded this short video from Vancouver Cycle Chic about a veteran Vancouver politician, the man who loves him and their mutual love for bicycling. And liked it enough to share with you.

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I’ve long considered Streetsblog’s Damien Newton a friend, sometimes collaborator, occasional employer and always, editor of the best transportation website in the city.

On Wednesday, we can add dooring victim to that list.

Damien was riding his bike east on Pico Blvd between Overland and Beverly Glen Blvds — a busy stretch of roadway which inexplicably used to be considered a Class 3 bike route and isn’t anymore, for good reason — when he was dangerously buzzed by passing driver who nearly didn’t.

Riding my bicycle on Pico Blvd. going east between Overland and the really hilly section a driver buzzed so close to me (note: the lane to his left was empty) that I veered right…right into an opening car door that was opened inches in front of me. As I struggled to maintain balance, another car buzzed me and this time I toppled over onto my right side into an empty parking space directly in front of the Beverly Hills Bike Shop.

I probably terrified the woman in the car. To be fair, I doubt she was at fault. I came at her at a funky angle after reacting to the “Jerry Browning.” Frustrated, scared and filling up with adrenaline I took my helmet off and slammed it into the ground as Gunpowder clattered itself on the asphalt and I walked to the sidewalk. A 6’2 guy acting erratically after a high-stress incident probably seemed like something from another planet to this elderly woman who was gripping her steering wheel and staring at me.

Thank goodness he was able to limp away.

It could have been so much worse.

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Broadway make-over; photo by Patrick Pascal

Broadway make-over; photo by Patrick Pascal

Downtown’s Broadway has long lost the luster that made it the heart of pre-war LA. Now it looks like it could once again become the heart of a revitalized Downtown, as the city gives it a pedestrian, if not bike, friendly makeover.

Frequent bike commuter Patrick Pascal shares a photo showing the work has already begun.

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One of yesterday’s links was to the story of a Bermuda Dunes bike rider who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run. Now more information has come out.

And as too often happens, the truth is worse than anything most of us may have imagined.

According to MyDesert.com, 20-year old Liliana Avalos was talking on her cell phone as she drove down Country Club Drive at a high rate of speed, weaving through traffic and passing vehicles in the left turn lanes and right shoulder. She was attempting to pass yet another car on the right when she entered the shoulder and struck the 28-year old victim from behind before speeding off.

And in a sign of just how seriously the courts don’t take traffic crime, she was released within hours on a mere $25,000 bond.

No, really.

And we wonder why so many people don’t take traffic laws seriously.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

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Finally, music videos featuring the LA bike scene are becoming a very crowded sub-genre these days.

The latest is from Nashville-based indie-rock band And the Giraffe, who rigged a camera onto the front of a bike with some strapping tape, and rode around greater LA from PCH to the high desert, capturing a number of recognizable vistas.

The whole thing cost them about $200 to make; I’ve seen far worse for a comma and two or three zeros more. They talked about it with KPCC.

Not a bad song, either.

Update — bike rider killed in wreck with Sheriff’s patrol car

Word is just coming in that yet another bike rider has lost his life on Mulholland.

And this time, the police may be fault.

According to KCBS-2, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding in the bike lane on the 22000 block of Mulholland Highway in Calabasas around 1:05 pm today when he was hit by a Sheriff’s Department patrol car. Calabasas Patch reports that both the victim and the patrol car were traveling in the same direction, suggesting the rider was struck from behind.

The sheriff’s deputy behind the wheel was reportedly on routine patrol and not responding to an emergency call; a sheriff’s spokesman said speed was not a factor in the crash.

However, the driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor lacerations to his face and eye due to broken class from the impact, suggesting a significant impact. No explanation was given for why the driver apparently entered the bike lane to hit the cyclist; drug or alcohol use was not suspected as a factor.

This is the 82nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 34th in Los Angeles County; that compares with 71 in the seven-county SoCal region and 21 in LA County this time last year. And this was at least the fourth cyclist to lose his life on Mulholland Hwy in the last four years.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to Carlos Morales, Danny Gamboa, sonofabike and John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Update: KABC-7 has just identified the victim as 65-year old Milton Everett Olin Jr. of Woodland Hills; a well-known attorney in the entertainment field. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information is urged to call the LASD Malibu/Lost Hills Station at 818/878-1808.

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Star reports that Olin’s bike somehow hit the patrol car, rather than the other way around — despite obvious damage to the car’s windshield. The LA Times confirms the car’s windshield was broken, making it virtually impossible for the rider to have struck the car if they were both traveling in the same direction. 

Update 2: KTLA-5 reports Olin and the patrol car were both traveling east on Mulholland Hwy when the collision occurred.

The Times fills in Olin’s work history, noting that he was Chief Operating Officer at Napster from 2000 to 2002, at a time when the file-sharing service was under fire from the music industry for enabling piracy, and forced to liquidate in bankruptcy court. 

He’d been a practicing attorney since graduating from UCLA Law School in 1975, and worked as vice president of business development for A&M Records — which was chiefly responsible for the lawsuit that led to Napster’s bankruptcy. He also served briefly as the senior vice president for business development for Firstlook.com before joining Napster.

The Star has corrected their story that repeatedly blamed the victim for the collision in a later report, although they’ve left the initial biased story online; thanks to Lois for the tip.

Update 3: Too often, we never learn anything about the victims of bicycling collisions, or the pain their loss leaves behind. But in this case, both the LA Times and KNBC-4 fill in the blanks with nice reports on a man who loved his family and riding his bike.

Although it does not build more confidence in the investigation to know the lead investigator in the case took yesterday off. Or that I’m told the CHP was willing to conduct an independent investigation, but wasn’t asked.

Meanwhile, a reader forwards an email exchange with the editor of the Ventura County Star in which he complained about the bias in the initial report. And received a very nice response promising to look into the matter — which resulted in the updated report correcting the misinformation, as well as changes to the initial story.

Too often, complaints like that get ignored. So let’s give credit to VC Star editor John Moore for doing the right thing.

Update 4: The LA Sheriff’s Department offers an apology, but doesn’t accept responsibility.

Update 5: The Daily News identifies the Sheriff’s Deputy who killed Olin on as a 16-year veteran from the Malibu/Lost Hills station, despite a lack of confirmation from the department. The collision is still under investigation; two weeks later, investigators still haven’t spoken to all the witnesses. 

Exclusive — What really happened in the Mulholland motorcycle crash that took out two bike riders

You knew there had to be more to the story.

The video of the now infamous Mulholland motorcycle crash that took out two bicyclists is rapidly going viral around the world. Soon to be joined by this view of the same collision from the perspective of a motorcyclist trailing the rider who rear-ended the two bikes.

Area resident Chris Willig forwards word that the collision occurred at the aptly named Deadman’s Turn on a section of Mulholland called The Snake by the motorcycling community, and the Rock Store Climb by bicyclists. According to Willig, and another comment from Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, it’s common for photographers and videographers to position their camera’s there to capture the action.

As Willig put it,

Photographers are there every weekend to capture the parade of cars, motorcycles and cyclists on this particular turn since it approaches 270°. Things happen at this point because drivers aren’t use to negotiating a turn like this.

Speculation has centered on a phenomenon known as target fixation as the cause of the collision, in which riders are unable to avoid whatever they are most focused on.

However, Byron of Bike Hugger points out the camera flash clearly visible in the trailing bike cam video, suggesting that the rider was looking for the photographer rather than focusing on the road ahead of him. Putting the best possible spin on it, it’s also possible that he was distracted by the camera flash, causing him to be out of position on the curve.

According to a source with inside knowledge of the situation, who prefers to remain anonymous, the bike riders were part of an informal ride of roughly 20 to 25 people, including retired pro cyclist and bikewear manufacturer George Hincapie. Hincapie was reportedly some distance ahead when the riders were hit, and may not have been aware of the collision.

This person was following the riders in a sag wagon when they got a call about the collision, and informed two nearby law enforcement officers who were having a car towed from a previous collision. They also stopped to pick up a participant in the ride who was between them and the scene of the collision approximately a quarter-mile ahead.

Good move on their part, since the rider they picked up happened to be the Chief Medical Officer for the Amgen Tour of California, who got right to work moving the more injured of the two riders to a safer position across the roadway.

The first rider to get hit was not part of the ride; he was an unlucky Brit who happened to fall in with the other riders at the wrong place and time. Word is he was not seriously injured; he was taken to a local hospital as a precaution and released the same day.

He may have been fortunate that the motorcyclist hit him almost directly from behind, cushioning the fall as he can be seen landing in the leather-clad rider’s lap.

Amazingly, the second rider, who was part of the riding group, walked away with just a few bruises. I’m told he was riding again the next day, albeit on a borrowed bike.

The motorcycle rider did not have registration for his bike with him, which is why it can be seen being towed at the end of the video.

No word yet on whether charges will be filed; however, my source reports that the police officers on the scene conducted a thorough investigation, including viewing the video of the collision.

But if charges aren’t filed, police will have a lot of explaining to do.

Update: The second video has been removed from You Tube, undoubtedly after realizing that it can, and most likely will, be used as evidence in a both criminal and civil court cases against the rider’s friend; thanks to Caritta for the heads-up.

Hit-and-run on Mulholland Hwy, boat racing by bike and train, win a bike trip to Tuscany from LACBC

Lots of news coming in through my inbox this past week.

So let’s take a few moments to catch.

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First up is news of a hit-and-run on the dirt road section of Mulholland Highway. Fortunately, the rider wasn’t hurt, but that doesn’t change the need to find the driver and bring her to justice.

According to the email, the owner of a Valley bike shop was riding between the trail head near Topanga Canyon and the Reseda trail head when he was struck by what’s described as a white crossover SUV. He landed hard on the hood of the car, leaving a major dent.

The driver was reportedly looking down at her phone when she hit him. She got out of her car to look at the dent on the hood, then sped away without talking to her victim, who wasn’t able to get the plate number or make of car before she left.

If you see a vehicle that matches that description with a large dent in the hood, take down the license number and call the police.

Thanks to Dan at Santa Monica Helen’s for the heads-up.

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A couple weeks ago, Michael Eisenberg, who has contributed a number of items here in recent months, emailed me asking for info on taking a bike on an Amtrak train.

He was planning to participate in a Newport to San Diego sailboat race, and wanted to drive his boat trailer down to San Diego, then use a combination of bike and train travel to come back up to get his boat and start the race.

I’ll let him tell you how it worked out.

I’ve returned from my sailing/biking weekend and I thought you might want a travel report.

After launching the boat in Newport Harbor, I headed down to San Diego to leave the car and trailer. As I expected, I was running late and wasn’t ready to start cycling back to Newport Beach until 3:45. With a stop for dinner I calculated that I would arrive at my destination  around 10. I really didn’t want to finish the ride on PCH after dark, so I changed my plans and headed over to the Amtrak Old Town station.

The train was scheduled to depart at 4:08, so I needed to hustle to cover the 5 miles in time. I got there with 2 minutes to spare. As an aside, as I was speeding up Rosecrans Blvd passing block upon block of stalled rush hour traffic, I came upon a police cruiser with a cyclist pulled over and with his hands spread out on the hood awaiting a pat down. I have no idea what led up to this.

I’ve never ridden on a train before, so I had to ask around to find out what to do next. I was told that the only bike storage was on the lower level of the first car. When I entered to car, I found 10 bike racks in the front. This car also contain the area for special needs travelers. There were already 7 bikes in racks, and these must all have arrived. At the first stop, as Old Town was the second stop. I noticed that every other bike was locked, so I new I would have to get up at each stop to keep tabs on my bike as it was the low hanging fruit.

While on the train, I figured out how to register on-line with Amtrak and to purchase a ticket. I was ready when the conductor came by to scan the bar code on my phone. The ride was of course extremely pleasant. As I was dressed in cycling gear, I had two people come up to me asking about where to find good cycling spots in SD. Talk about the blind leading the blind. I was able to tell them about the excellent bike path that traverses the South Bay from Coronado around to Chula Vista and up to San Diego.  But when I mentioned the path was only about 30 miles long, their eyes got really big. My how perceptions change after a time.

The only glitch occurred when we arrived in Irvine. The train overshot the platform, and I had to carry my bike up the stairs and back to the second car before heading back downstairs to exit. Talk about tight.

Once I exited the station, I Googled the directions from Irvine to Corona Del Mar in walking mode. I was given 3 choices, all the same length of 15 miles. Two were major boulevards, and one was listed as Shady Canyon / Bonita Canyon. That sounded the most appealing and it did not disappoint. I was a first rate bike path with spectacular views. I arrived at my destination at 7:00 with a sense of accomplishment in discovering a new method of travel.

Once back at the boat, I removed the bike wheels, packed the bike into a travel bag, and stored it down below. The next day I won my singlehanded division in the Newport to San Diego sailboat race.

I’ve written this for you, not because I’m looking for any publicity, but instead to inform you about how easy and satisfying bit was to combine rail and bicycle travel.

Just goes to show what you can do with a bike and a little imagination.

As an aside, he notes that he’s planning to bike down to Knott’s Berry Farm for an annual car show later this month, a distance of 115 miles round trip. Which should impress his friends more than any car he might take down there.

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Eisenberg's DIY bike rack

Eisenberg’s DIY bike rack

Eisenberg also writes that he’s gotten in the bike rack business for a friend.

I went to the gym last night. The gym manager showed me a video taken in the morning of some low life creep cutting a cable lock on a $1000 bike and riding off. I hope they catch the bastard. Anyway, there was no proper place to lock a bike before, just around a 6″ x 6″ support post. So I whipped this up for him today. It’s now out being powder coated. I made this one for about 1/2 of what I saw similar ones online if anyone is in interested.

I should note that LADOT offers a free bike rack program, installing U-racks on request anywhere within the City of Los Angeles.

But if you’re outside the city or want a larger rack, you can contact him at maecomotorsport@bizla.rr.com.

Bike rack 2

You could have a rack like this of your own

And he notes that, now that the rack has been installed, the gym owner hopes the rack gets enough use to justify a second one.

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The LACBC is offering you a chance to win a bike trip to Tuscany by fundraising for the upcoming River Ride.

Fundraise for LACBC’s Annual Los Angeles River Ride.  It is easy.  The top prize for the highest fundraiser is a bike trip to Tuscany, courtesy of VBT. We also have a prize for the fundraiser who gets the most people to donate to the cause: a bike from DTLA Bikes. Runner-up prizes include a New Belgium Brewing Cruiser Bike and signed copies of Where to Bike Los Angeles. Prizes are guaranteed for meeting fundraising minimums at the $100 (LACBC socks), $250 (River Ride jersey), $500 (access to the River Ride VIP tent and beer garden), $1000 (recognition at LACBC donor and supporter party), and $5000 (custom vintage cocktail mixology, tea ceremony, or dinner with our Excutive Director and Board President) levels. Go to http://www.active.com/donate/riverride and  www.la-bike.org/riverride for more information.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has long been fighting for a safer, cleaner, quieter form of transportation for all Angelenos whether they bike, walk, or drive. The Annual Los Angeles River Ride provides much of the funds LACBC needs in order to transform the face of Los Angeles County and give future generations the option of enjoying Los Angeles by bike! This year’s Annual Los Angeles River Ride also incorporates a campaign to complete all 51 miles of LA River Bikeway. Imagine it: a completely car-free uninterrupted bike highway running right through the middle of Los Angeles, from Canoga Park to Long Beach!

When you raise funds for the River Ride you are contributing to this campaign. What a legacy to leave, the knowledge that you helped make such an enormous and positive change to the landscape of the 5th largest economy in the world. In addition to helping LACBC do such great work, high fundraisers win great prizes.

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Reporter Roger Rudick produced a story for KCRW’s Which Way LA contrasting the impressive bicycling infrastructure in the Dutch city of Rotterdam with the far less notable bikeways here in the City of Angeles.

Yet surprisingly, he discovers that the two cities aren’t that different.

Which suggests that Los Angeles could do a lot more to encourage cycling and keep riders safe.

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Police have concluded that the driver was at fault in the death of Cal Poly Pomona bike rider Ivan Aguilar. Charges against the driver, who has not been publicly identified, are on hold pending the result of a final report from the L.A. County Coroner.

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The family of cyclist Donny McCluskey published a moving memorial to the fallen cyclist, who was killed in Rancho Mirage when a speeding driver ran a red light and hit another vehicle driven by a drunk driver. The cars spun out of control and hit McCluskey, who was stopped at the red light.

McCluskey was killed despite doing everything right. Except being in the wrong place when two drivers broke the law.

Yet shamefully, neither has faced more than a slap on the wrist for taking the life of an innocent human being.

Donny McCluskey Memorial

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Finally, it turns out that those green bike lanes on Spring Street in Downtown L.A. aren’t so hard for filmmakers to remove in post-production after all.

Which begs the question of why Hollywood really wants them gone. And why FilmLA, the L.A. Times and L.A. city officials have fallen for what appears to be one big anti-bike lie.

Let alone why the city appears to have caved in to bogus demands to let the highly popular green lanes fade to oblivion.

Credit to LA Streetsblog’s Damien Newton for getting the truth in this story.

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I’m going to be at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition booth at CicLAvia from 2 pm to 3:30 pm this Sunday at the Culver City hub; stop by and say hi if you get the chance.

Better yet, bring a few bucks, checkbook or credit card with you and I’ll be happy to sign you up as an LACBC member if you’re not one already.

Update: Breaking news — CHP reports yet another SoCal cyclist killed in solo fall on Mulholland Highway

More bad news for Southern California cyclists.

A CHP transmission reports that yet another bike rider has died on our streets. According to the cryptic message, the coroner has been called to a solo bike wreck on Mulholland Highway at Stunt Road, just outside Stunt Ranch State Park and Red Rock Canyon Park above Malibu.

The first call came in at 9:33 this morning, with the coroner called just after 10 am. The transmission codes (1144, 1019 and 1039) indicate a probably fatality, with rescue personnel instructed to return to the station, followed by confirmation of the call to the coroner’s office.

The satellite image shows a three-way intersection with a stop on Stunt Road, and an uncontrolled intersection on Mulholland.

No other information is available at this time.

This marks the 39th cycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 11th in Los Angeles County. This is also the ninth cyclist to die in a solo collision since the beginning of the year.

And it’s the 10th cycling death in just the last nine days, as the horrible, tragic string of recent cycling fatalities continues for yet another day.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and all his or her family and loved ones.

Update: The L.A. Times reports that the victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was a black male approximately 40 years old, who died at the scene. A comment to this story says he left behind a wife and children.

The Times puts the time of the collision at 9:20 am, while other sources put it just before 9 am. However, all reports agree that the rider somehow veered of the road and down a ravine.

As always, the question is why. He may have simply lost control or had a mechanical failure, or could have been forced off the road or over reacted to a passing car. 

There’s no indication whether he was riding alone or with a group, or if there were any witnesses to the wreck.

Update 2: The L.A. Daily News has identified the rider as 42-year old Willis Veluz-Abraham of Winnetka. The paper also places the location of the collision as near Stunt Road and Mulholland; a comment places the location on the mid to upper section of Stunt.

Update 3: Starting to get a little more information. In a comment below, Justin Murray identifies the location as a curve near Mile Marker 3 on Stunt Road, and points the finger at newly installed rumble strips in the center of the roadway. If anyone has photos of the location or the rumble strips, please let me know.

While they may seem harmless to motorists, rumble strips can be exceptionally dangerous to cyclists. Someone taking a corner a little to hot could easily drift over the center line and lose control after hitting them. It’s especially dangerous if the strips were newly installed, as Murray suggests, as riders may not have known they were there if the strips had been installed since the last time they’d ridden that road, especially if there were no warning signs pointing to their installation.

Update 4: One of the saddest things about any tragedy like this, to me at least, is that most of us never get to know the person that was taken away from us. Not just the name, or barest details of his or, but who they really were. 

That’s why I’m elevating a couple of the comments that came in this afternoon after Veluz-Abraham was identified as the victim. Maybe they’ll touch you as deeply as they did me — and remind us all just how much is lost when any one of us is taken away needlessly.

From Daniel:

Willis was a co-worker and a friend of mine. Since the first time I met him, he was always friendly and he always had a smile on his face. His wife and him recently had their second child.I had a conversation with him a few days ago and he was mentioning how important it was for him to have quality time with his wife and children. 

Willis was also very active in his Church. He was a graduate of UCLA and he was originally from Northern California. Willis love to eat and he enjoyed trying new foods. Willis and his wife enjoy salsa dancing. 

Everyone at work is crashed that he died this way. I take some comfort that he died while doing something he loved to do and that he live his life to the fullest.

From Fellow Bruin

I’ve known Willis since my college days.  Such a bright light he is/ was to anyone who knew him.  Such a shock and a terrible loss for our entire community.  He and his wife just welcomed their 2nd son into the world in February.  That’s the worst part– he’ll never remember just what a special dad he had.  Willis was no dare-devil.  I don’t know how this could happen- but ride carefully, folks!

Please, take that last part seriously. We may not know exactly how or why he died, but we do know how to avoid the next one.

Ride carefully, ride smart, ride defensively.

There are people who love you, and count on you to come home from your rides.

Driver arraigned in death of cyclist Carol Schreder; a light charge is better than no charge at all. Right?

Ghost bike installed on Mulholland Highway for cyclist and Hollywood producer Carol Schreder; photo courtesy of Chris Willig.

Maybe we’ll see justice for Carol Schreder after all.

Or some justice, anyway.

After months of being told the cycling death of Hollywood producer and cyclist Carol Schreder was nothing more than an unfortunate accident, I’ve been informed that a charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide will be filed.

Correction — has already been filed, in apparent secrecy and without the knowledge of her family and friends.

Last week, I received an email telling me that the driver, Stafford Drake Taylor, was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday. Then over the weekend, I got another email from the same source letting me know that the arraignment actually took place last Thursday, with no one close to the case informed of it — even after it was over.

Then again, I’m told they were never officially invited to the planned Monday arraignment, either.

So much for keeping the victim’s family in the loop.

Then there’s the question of why authorities suddenly decided to file charges. And why they settled for a misdemeanor charge when there were numerous reports that Taylor was speeding and driving recklessly in the moments leading up to the collision.

Sources who have seen the CHP collision report tell me the vehicle that killed Schreder was a jacked-up 1989 Ford Econoline van pulling a brakeless, owner modified trailer; one person describes the rig as looking like something out of a Mad Max movie.

The report indicates that Schreder was riding on the right shoulder of Mulholland Highway west of Kanan Road, wearing a helmet and bright colored clothing.

According to the report, Taylor initially told police at the scene he was following about four car lengths behind a green Toyota at about 20 to 30 miles per hour when he saw the car ahead slow for a cyclist riding about three feet to the left of the solid white line. Taylor reported that he jammed on his brakes and cut to the right in an attempt to avoid the car and Schreder’s bike, causing his rig to jackknife and strike Schreder.

The next day, Taylor came into the CHP station to clarify his statement to police. Now, he said, he was traveling at approximately 45 mph, following the car ahead by four car lengths or less, while the cyclist was now riding six feet to the left of the white line.

When the Toyota slowed, he said he had to react quickly so he jammed on his brakes and cut to the right, somehow thinking he could slide past the truck and cyclist on their right. Instead, he claimed Schreder moved back to the right when the Toyota apparently startled her, placing her directly in his path.

According to Taylor, he had slowed to about 30 mph when the trailer jackknifed and he hit Schreder with the left front of his jacked-up van, come to rest on the right curb on top of her bicycle.

The CHP notes that Taylor’s truck left a number of skid marks as long as 106 feet, which would indicate a high rate of speed, despite being just a few hundred feet from a controlled interesection. And despite previous speculation that the collision could have been caused by the windy conditions that day, the report indicates that wind was not a factor.

The traffic collision report indicates that a number of cyclists were stopped at the scene when the officers arrived, including a physician who performed CPR until the paramedics arrived — confirming a comment on the original story.

Yet the CHP didn’t interview any of the riders at the scene, or even take their names for possible follow-up later. And I’ve heard from people who attempted to contact the CHP to tell them they’d seen the van driving dangerously prior to the collision — including a cyclist who was nearly hit by the same van just moments earlier — only to be turned away without being allowed to talk to anyone.

In fact, according to the collision report, the only witness the police spoke to was the driver of the Toyota, who described seeing Taylor’s van approaching from behind at a high rate of speed before watching it hit Schreder’s bike.

Maybe I’m confused.

I understand that police can’t file a misdemeanor charge unless they either witness it themselves or can deduce from the physical evidence just what happened. But doesn’t it make sense to talk to all the witnesses and gather as much information as possible before deciding what charges to file?

If Taylor was driving as recklessly as the witnesses have claimed, shouldn’t that suggest a felony charge, with a possible sentence of two to 10 years in state prison, rather than the relative slap on the wrist of up to one year in county jail for the misdemeanor count?

And why all the apparent secrecy and attempts to keep Schreder’s family and close friends out of the loop? Especially when the families of other victims have complemented the DA’s office for going out of their way to keep them informed and a part of the process.

It makes me wonder if there’s already a plea deal in the works and they don’t want objections from the family to get in the way.

Trust me, I’m pleasantly surprised that charges are finally in the works. Although stunned might be a better word.

But mad as hell that it looks like yet another driver may get off with a minimal sentence, while his innocent victim gets the death penalty.

Yes, a slap on the wrist is better than nothing at all.

But cyclists are going to keep on dying if authorities don’t start taking dangerous killer drivers seriously.

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