Tag Archive for Newport Beach

Actually, the Newport Beach Police Department gets it after all; Gardena may be another matter

No one gets it right all the time.

Myself included

But I have to respect anyone who can accept criticism. Especially when they actually do something about it. And particularly when the problem involves the often troublesome intersection of police and bikes.

That’s exactly what happened recently when I criticized the bicycling webpage of the Newport Beach Police Department.

As you may recall, I took them to task for offering bike safety advice that suggested cyclists should always ride to the right, while ignoring the many exceptions to CVC21202 that allow bike riders to take the lane for their own safety.

As well as disputing their recommendation to ride single file, a requirement which is contained nowhere in the California Vehicle Code.

My reasoning wasn’t just that they were wrong. It was that both bike riders and motorists might get the wrong idea from reading it, needlessly contributing to the conflicts on our streets.

The surprising part came a few days later when I received an email from bike riding NBPD Deputy Chief David McGill.

Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled my criticisms. But instead of arguing with me, he wanted to reach out to me to work together in addressing the problems facing bicyclists in Newport Beach.

As he put it,

When Jay Johnson was sworn in as our Chief of Police in 2010, he made bicycle safety an important part of the Department’s mission.  As a result, in the past several months the NBPD has increased their efforts to work together with the community and the City’s Citizen’s Bicycle Safety Committee (recently reformed as the Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee) to do what we can to help improve bicycle safety for all people who visit, live and work in Newport Beach.  Together with our partners, we have accomplished much in the past few years, but there is always more work to do.

When I took a second look at what I’d written, I realized that I’d come off a little harsher than I had intended for what was, in balance, good advice for bike riders. So I toned down my criticism of their website, while responding to his email to explain my objections.

Then, to be honest, I forgot all about it, as a continuing parade of various issues and crises, both personal and bike-related, took precedence.

But they didn’t.

This week I got another email from McGill saying the department had considered my suggestions. And actually acted upon them.

But more importantly, they got it right this time.

My only suggestion was to add the phrase “when traveling below the speed of traffic” to their advice about “riding furthest to the right.” And when I checked back before writing this, I saw that change had already been made.

Of course, we didn’t win on every count.

While they continue to interpret the vehicle code as not allowing side-by-side riding in most situations, it also seems to be a lower priority for the department. And they’ve removed the instruction to ride single file from their website.

I can live with that.

And you can’t ask for much more than a police department that is willing to listen to — and better yet, act on — criticism from the bike riding public.

NBPD Chief Johnson, and those who work for him, have won my respect.

And my gratitude.


Gardena might be another story.

According to the official version, police responding to a report of a robbery and/or stolen bicycle attempted to stop two men they spotted riding bikes. That’s when a third man ran up to them, and — allegedly — reached into his waist band.

Thinking he was reaching for a gun, the officers shot multiple times, killing him and wounding one of the other men.

But if he really was armed, no one has bothered to mention it yet.

Now witness reports are coming out that the victim, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was actually running with his hands in the air, rather than near his waistband. And he was trying to tell the officers that the two men were his friends, and weren’t involved in the theft.

In other words, he died because it was his bike that was stolen. And he was trying to help two friends who had nothing to do with the crime.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I understand that cops have their lives on the line, and things can go horribly wrong in any contact with the public. And that they have to make split-second decisions to protect both their own safety and those they are sworn to protect.

It’s easy for us to sit back and judge their actions after the fact. A lot harder to make those split-second decisions in real time, in real world situations.

But it looks like an innocent man — one of the L.A.’s area’s many bike riding Los Invisibles — became all too visible at exactly the wrong time, in front of cops who apparently reacted to what they thought was happening, rather than was actually was.

And now a man is dead because of it.

All because he was the victim of a bike theft, and some cops in an area with a large Latino population who apparently didn’t understand Spanish.


On a related note, KPFK’s Michael Slate Show will interview Sandra Cotton, sister of Terry Laffitte, who was fatally shot by police who initially attempted to pull him over for riding without lights last month.

The broadcast will air today — Friday — at 10 am on KPFK 90.7, streaming live at www.kpfk.org.


Finally, just a few more quick notes.

Nearly forgotten in the dust-up over New York’s bike share program is the fact that L.A.’s Bike Nation bike share program was supposed to be up and running by now. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton explains why it isn’t and maybe never will be.

The new mayor of Compton is young, female and an actual urban planner.

Volvo designs a safety system that can recognize a bike rider and apply the brakes before a collision can occur; thanks to Jeff White for the link.

An Alexandria VA bike advocate effectively rebuts the myth of the scofflaw cyclist; link courtesy of Kent Peterson.

John Grotz forwards a link to a video currently making the rounds showing a New York bike rider repeatedly cut off, then threatened in a Hassidic neighborhood before another man comes to his rescue. He notes this is the same neighborhood that successfully lobbied to have new bike lanes removed a few years back.

A Victoria BC mountain biker is nearly decapitated when a wire is strung across a bike trail in an apparent sabotage attack.

And a Brazilian billionaire’s son gets community service, loss of his license for two years and a nearly half million dollar fine — chump change for his family — for running down a bike rider in his $1.3 million Mercedes SLR McLaren.

And yes, he’s planning to appeal his very generous slap on the wrist.

Catching up with today’s way too long compendium of all the latest bike news and links

Let’s take a few minutes to catch up on this week’s news now that things have settled down a little.

Or maybe quite a few minutes.

It’s a long list.


Beverly Hills isn’t the only place where a road raging driver has left an injured cyclist in his wake.

Around 5 pm last Friday, a group of women visiting from Las Vegas were riding single file on eastbound PCH in Newport Beach, when a Cadillac pulled up behind one on the riders and started honking impatiently — then plowed into one of the riders, rather than wait a few seconds until they could get out of his way.

The jerk driver fled the scene, but returned later, claiming it was the victim’s fault. Evidently for having the audacity to occupy the same space where he wanted to put his car.

The woman was transported to a local hospital with a head injury; a comment to the story indicates she was released after being kept overnight.

And no word yet on whether the driver was cited, or if charges are pending.

Thanks to Lois for the link.


An unarmed bike rider is shot by an L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy who thought he was acting “suspicious” and might have had a gun.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but since when is the mere possibility that someone might a weapon sufficient justification for using deadly force?

Maybe that’s why some drivers have been so aggressive lately. They can’t tell if I’ve got a gun in my bike shorts, or just happy to see them.


On the job front, Safe Routes to School is looking for an Active Transportation Fellow in DC. The League of American Bicyclists is looking for a Development Director. And if you’re a bike enthusiast with wrenching skills, GMR Marketing has a job for you at this year’s Amgen Tour of California.


The LA Weekly trolls for web hits once again, claiming, among other things, that the best way to improve L.A. traffic is to rip out bike lanes in favor of restoring regular traffic lanes. As evidence, the bike-baiting writer who shall remain unnamed claims the 7th Street bike lanes are unused and result in angry motorists.

Yet he somehow fails to explain why the city’s worst traffic problems are on streets that don’t even have bike lanes.

As someone who rides 7th Street on a regular basis, I can attest that I have never seen a traffic jam there since the bike lanes were put in, even at rush hour. And seldom find myself the only cyclist using the popular lanes, which have become the primary feeder route for riders coming into Downtown from the Westside.

But then, the Weekly doesn’t always let the facts get in the way of the story when it comes to bikes these days.


Once again, L.A. County’s killer highway claims another life, this time a pedestrian crossing Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

Which is a needlessly tragic lead-in to the news that Malibu is hosting a pair of public meetings next month to discuss the city’s PCH Safety Study next month. If you ride on PCH — or ever find yourself trying to cross the street there — you owe it to yourself to attend one.


Maybe it’s just because the producer is my nephew. But this looks like a pretty decent distracted driving PSA. Especially considering it was made by a 16-year old who just got his license.


The city council gives the go-ahead for bike share in Downtown L.A., while CD14 Councilmember Jose Huizar introduces a motion to repaint the Spring Street green bike lanes. Speaking of which, the most recent bike count shows ridership on Spring Street is up another 40%, after a 52% increase last year; I suppose the Weekly would say no one uses those, either. Construction will begin soon on shared bike/bus lanes on Sunset Blvd. Mark your calendar for Bike Week; pledge to ride on Bike to Work Day and you could win a bike from REI. Examined Spoke offers some good thoughts about CicLAvia; I missed that somehow in yesterday’s roundup. Will Campbell unwillingly shares a burger with a man who blames cyclists for everything that’s wrong with Los Angeles; maybe he’s a regular Weekly reader. A Silver Lake bike rodeo is scheduled for May 18th. Metro works to improve bike and pedestrian access in Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo. How to get abandoned bikes removed from racks. Both Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica and Pasadena’s Incycle Bicycles invite you to ride with them this weekend to learn about Tour de Cure. County Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky says NBC Universal has agreed to complete — and help pay for — a missing link in the L.A. River Bike Path through Universal Studios; now if he could only apply a little pressure to the anti-bike city of Vernon. Calabasas bike-centric farm-to-table restaurant, coffee roaster and Moots bike boutique Pedalers Fork is open, and the first reviews are already in and looking good. In other food news, bike-powered Peddler’s Creamery is now open in Downtown L.A. The San Marino paper offers what may be the most accurate estimate of attendance at Sunday’s CicLAvia, putting the total at an open-to-interpretation several hundred thousand.

The third attempt at a California three-foot passing law passed its first hurdle in the state legislature; now its on the Appropriations Committee, even though it wouldn’t seem to require any. Riverside boldly decides to study a disputed bike lane. An open letter to the AAA. No charges against a stop sign-running Apple Valley driver who hit a cyclist. A call for artistic bike racks in Beaumont. A Newport Beach city councilmember criticizes the sentence given the killer driver in the Campion-Ritz hit-and-run; but why is the death of a “significant citizen” any more important or tragic than anyone elses? Presenting the best bike ride around San Diego’s Mission Bay; I often followed a similar course when I lived down there. Escondido’s Muffler Man will get bike drag in time for the Amgen Tour of California. When a little girl’s bike is stolen, an Oxnard cop buys her a new one at his own expense, then teaches her how to ride it; thanks to our Carolina friend Zeke for the heads-up. Red Kite Prayer drops in on this year’s Sea Otter Classic. A new bike path opens connecting Downtown San Jose to the Bay. A case so old I’d forgotten all about it finally comes to a conclusion, as a Santa Clara County deputy gets a warm caress on the wrist when he’s sentenced to four months, possibly to be served at home, for killing two riders while asleep at the wheel. Unlike its L.A. counterpart, the San Francisco Weekly doesn’t have it’s collective head planted firmly up its own posterior, explaining why protected bike lanes are good for business; then again, even NBC says the same thing, at least for small businesses. It’s been a bad year for NorCal cyclists, as a 79-year old rider was the latest to killed; if a bike rider can fall under the wheels of a passing car, doesn’t that suggest the car was passing dangerously close — let alone that it might have caused the fall?

A Portland driver somehow finds herself on a separated bikeway rather than the interstate highway bridge next to it; local police say “oops.” Another self-hating bike rider who says cyclists don’t belong on the road (scroll down). Those bike-riding Portland kids sure have it easy these days. Bike share will launch in Seattle next year. An Alaska cyclist rides his fatbike over 2,000 miles in the middle of winter along two of the state’s famed sled dog trails. Big hearted strangers give a new bike to the victim of an Oklahoma hit-and-run victim. America’s only surviving Tour de France winner says he has no vendetta against Lance Armstrong; can’t say the same about the U.S. government, though. Louisiana driver gets a minor citation despite hitting and seriously injuring a bike rider who stopped in a bike lane. Bikeyface wishes bikes were more like cars. New York imposes new restrictions on bike delivery riders. NYC’s new bike share program isn’t even open yet, and it’s already being vandalized.

A UK nurse was over twice the legal alcohol limit — and on her way to work — when she killed a cyclist and fled the scene, stopping only to pull the bike out of her way. A driver with a suspended license killed a cycling married couple as he fled from police. Amazingly, British police refuse to file charges against a road raging driver was captured on helmet cam beating the crap out of a bike rider; thanks to Joni for the heads-up. Parliament members call for reducing speed limits and jailing dangerous drivers, as well as boosting spending levels to £1 billion to encourage more people to take up bicycling. Photos of eyes over bike racks cut theft rates. Town Mouse is more concerned with the safety of the dog chasing her. The director of a Dutch — yes, Dutch — road safety institute calls for a mandatory helmet law for riders over 55. A new book looks at Italian cycling great Fausto Coppi. The authoritarian state of Uzbekistan is banning bicycles in the capital, seizing bikes and advising bike shops to shut down. A Persian Gulf writer asks if taking a dangerous shortcut is really worth it. Queensland is relaxing their mandatory helmet laws to allow religious requirements. An Aussie woman is ticketed for using a handheld cell phone while riding, but the local press is more freaked out by her “bizarre” tall bike. Tempers run hot Down Under, as a cyclist is punched out by an angry driver. Why women should ride to work and how to get started.

Finally, build your own sandwich bike; peanut butter and jelly optional. A British thief returns a stolen “lusciously smooth” bike with an apology and a coupon. And trust me, you don’t want to read the comments to the Times’ story  about the Beverly Hills road rage case — let alone the ones on the CBS version.

But you’re probably going to anyway.

Breaking news: Driver sentenced to five years in hit-and-run death of Newport Beach cyclist

I’ve gotten confirmation from multiple sources that Michael Jason Lopez pleaded guilty today in the hit-and-run death of Newport Beach cyclist Dr. Catherine Campion-Ritz.

As you may recall, Campion-Ritz was the second of two cyclists killed in Newport Beach in just 24 hours last September, hit from behind as she rode with her husband in the bike lane on high-speed Newport Coast Drive. The driver fled the scene, leaving her critically injured in the street; she died later at a local hospital.

According to a press release from the OC District Attorney’s office, the Newport Beach Police Department used surveillance video to identify Lopez’ truck and determined that he was the driver, arresting him just three days after the collision.

Lopez accepted a plea deal for a single felony count of hit-and-run causing death and a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

According to the press release, he will serve five years in state prison. However, another source indicates that Lopez will serve four years in state prison on the felony count — with the possibility of parole — followed by another year in county jail for the misdemeanor.

The death of the popular physician had a huge impact on her family, as the press release indicates.

Victim impact statements were submitted to the court by the victim’s mother, her husband, two brothers, and two sisters. The victim’s mother said in part, “Her death was a tragic loss for all of us. Without warning, she was gone and our lives will never be the same without her. I never expected to outlive my children, yet Kit is gone at 57 and I am still here at 87.”

The victim’s husband said in part, “Catherine was many things to many people; physician and leader in the medical community, business leader, a church lector, and family leader. To me she was my wife. She was my confidant, my partner in adventure, and my inspiration. There is an emptiness at home with no one to reminisce about [the] past, to discuss the day’s events or to make plans for the future. The activities we did together I typically now do alone or not at all.”

What the release doesn’t mention is the impact her death had on the larger community.

Along with the death of cyclist Sarah Leaf a day earlier, it inspired a massive rally and bike safety campaign that still reverberates today. As tragic as it is, we can honestly say her death wasn’t in vain, as it has lead to improvements in safety and enforcement that could help keep other riders alive.

Which, honestly, should be the result of every cyclist who falls on our streets.

Whether just five years, or potentially less, is justice in this case is subject to debate; Dr. Christopher Thompson got a similar sentence for merely maiming two riders, though his actions were intentional.

However, it is a lot more than the slap on the wrist too many hit-and-run killers get away with.

And it’s probably the best we could hope for without going to trial.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and Ann for the heads-up. And thanks to the NBPB and Deputy DA Anna McIntire for bringing a killer to justice.

Bad news on Christmas Eve — Hero Newport Beach lifeguard dies in apparent solo fall

This is not the news any of us want on Christmas Eve.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a hero lifeguard has died after an apparent solo fall.

Thirty-eight-year old Brian Gray was found laying face down near his bike at 2:02 am Friday at the intersection of 26th Street and Newport Blvd in Newport Beach. A police spokesman says he was simply fell while riding his bike; he died the following day in a local hospital.

The news site reports that Gray, a lifelong resident of Newport Beach, was one of the rescuers who saved the life of 13-year old Dylan Scott of Riverside when he was buried in the sand in 2006; he received the Bravo Award from the American Red Cross, along with other lifeguards involved in the rescue.

In addition to his work as a lifeguard for the past 21 years, Gray worked as a courier for the Newport Beach Fire Department; paramedics reportedly recognized him at the scene.

Of course, as in any solo fall, the question is why.

Given the hour, it’s possible that Gray may have been drinking and simply fell off his bike.

However, it’s also entirely possible that he fell as a result of being brushed or buzzed by a passing car, leaving little or no evidence behind to point to a dangerous pass that may have resulted in the rider’s death — which I suspect happens far more often than any of us realize.

Or he could have simply lost control of his bike for any number of reasons, something that happens to even the best riders, myself included.

This is the 73rd cycling fatality in Southern California this year, three above the total for last year, and the 14th bicycling death in Orange County this year. Remarkably, it’s the third bicycling fatality in tiny Newport Beach, with a population of just 86,000 — though it should be noted that the area is a popular biking destination, drawing in far more riders than its small size would suggest.

Gray is also the 14th SoCal rider to die in a solo fall in 2012, and third in Orange County.

So please, let’s be careful out there.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Brian Gray and all his family and loved ones. It’s hard enough to lose someone you love, but especially tough this time of year.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Help improve safety for Newport Beach cyclists via Amazon and Thursday evening silent auction

It’s not every day you can make a difference for cyclists on the streets of Southern California.

And especially not get something in return when you do.

But that’s what you can do right now when you do your holiday shopping with Amazon.com. And again this Thursday with a silent auction in Costa Mesa co-sponsored by a number of Orange County bike shops.

The funds raised will go to promote bike safety and improve streets for cyclists in Newport Beach, which was recently the site of two cycling deaths in just two days — along with a third near fatality the same weekend.

Better yet, every dollar raised will be matched by the city of Newport Beach on a three-to-one basis through the end of the year, up to $150,000 — an extension of the offer the city made as part of the recent memorial ride for Sarah Leaf and Dr. Catherine Campion-Ritz.

Which means $10 out of your pocket is really worth $40 on the streets. And that $150,000 in donations will mean a full $600,000 in actual improvements.

And that could make a real difference in a city that has been far too dangerous for OC bike riders in recent years.


First up, since this is Cyber Monday, you can make a donation simply by placing an order on Amazon.

Just click on this link to access the site, and a portion of every dollar you spend will automatically be donated to the Newport Beach Bike Safety Improvement Fund. And it doesn’t matter what you buy, whether it’s bike gear, books, pet food or office supplies. Or virtually anything else your little heart desires.

So you can make a donation simply by buying things you’d get anyway, or justify buying something you’ve long been lusting after. Or by getting a jump on your holiday shopping.

One quick note — once you click the order button, you’ll have to start over from the link above if you want to place an additional order and have your purchase credited to the fund.

Then this Thursday evening, everyone is invited to a silent auction at Surf City Cyclery in Costa Mesa.

You’ll find all kinds of items, from an official Newport Beach “Bikes May Use Full Lane” sign — which I’d recommend wearing on your back while you ride — to a hand-tufted rug valued at $7,500. As well as gift certificates, Angel’s tickets, and a four day, three night wine and cycling trip for two in the Santa Ynez Valley valued at over $2000, courtesy of Wine Country Cycling.

And once again, all the proceeds will go to the Bike Safety Improvement Fund, where they will be matched by the city on a three-to-one basis.

  • Date:  Thursday Evening, November 29, 2012 from 7 to 9 pm
  • Time:  Silent and Live Auction Ends at:  8:15 pm
  • Place:  Surf City Cyclery, 257 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa, CA
  • Bike Shops Participating:  Surf City Cyclery, Irvine Bicycles, The Unlikely Cyclist, Pedego, Jax Bicycles, Richards Cyclery, Performance Bike and Bike Religion
  • Attire: Casual
  • Payment Methods:  Credit Cards and Checks will be accepted
  • Libations:  Appetizers and refreshments will be served
  • Items for Auction:  Trips, Gift Cards, Bikes (kids bikes, recumbent, cross, road, city, tt and more), sports tickets, and more
  • There are also fun items that will be included in a raffle – so everyone has a chance to be a winner.
  • Register and view the entire list of items here:  http://www.newportbeachmemorialride.com/silent-auction-registration-and-items.html
  • Registration is free, however space is limited, so be sure to register to ensure a place.
  • Proceeds go to the Bike Safety Improvement Fund and will qualify for the City of Newport Beach’s $3 to $1 match.

Finally, you can still donate directly to the fund by cash, check, debit or credit card. And once again, your donation will be matched three-to-one by the City of Newport Beach.


One other quick note.

Is it still hit-and-run if you take the victim with you?

A suspected drunk driver ran down a pedestrian in Torrance on Saturday night, then drove another two miles with the victim still embedded on her hood and windshield; 31-year old Torrance resident Phillip Moreno died later at a local hospital.

KABC-7 reports that the driver — a drug and alcohol counselor, no less — was allegedly over twice the legal limit at the time of the collision.

Needless to say, she’s facing charges that include manslaughter and driving under the influence.

But not hit-and-run.

No charges in Sarah Leaf death, guilty plea in North San Diego, vehicle identified in Gardena hit-and-run

Evidently, they just don’t get it.

Newport Beach police have cleared the truck driver in the death of cyclist Sarah Leaf, concluding that she lost control of her bike and fell under the turning truck on her own, without the truck ever hitting her.

Yet they apparently failed to consider the possibility that it was a massive truck passing too close and/or turning across her path that caused her to lose control.

So let’s get this straight once and for all. Skilled, experienced cyclists don’t just fall over. And a vehicle doesn’t have to actually hit a rider in order to cause her death.

Something made her to lose control. Until the police can offer some reasonable explanation of what that was, we should not accept the results of this investigation.

And until police everywhere figure that out, no bike rider will ever be safe on our streets.

Update: A commenter who claims to have known a friend of Leaf disputes the contention that she was an experienced rider. By his account, she was a novice rider on a borrowed bike, who had been urged by a friend not to ride that day. And according to him, the reason she fell because she was unfamiliar with clipless pedals. However, as he did not actually witness the collision, that should be taken with a grain of salt; hopefully, we’ll learn more on Monday when the Chief of the Newport Beach Police Department meets with the city’s Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee.


Jin Hyuk Byun, the 19-year old driver charged with killing 18-year old North San Diego bike commuter Angel Bojorquez in a late night hit-and-run, has pleaded guilty to a single felony count of hit-and-run causing death.

Byun faces up to four years up to four years in prison — or as little as probation. Hopefully, the court deliver a sentence that shows Bojorquez’ life had value.

Unlike courts in, say, San Bernardino.


Gardena police have finally narrowed down the type of vehicle used in the hit-and-run death of Torrance cyclist Benjamin Torres on October 10th.

Be on the lookout for a maroon or purple 1995 to 2001 Ford Explorer or a 1997 to 2001 Mercury Mountaineer with light to moderate damage to the right headlight area. Call Investigator Matthew Hassoldt at 310/217-6189 if you have any information.

And on a related note, his step-daughters are asking cyclists to join them in honoring Torres and calling for bike safety on November 10th.


The LACBC is launching a safety education and bike light giveaway program dubbed Operation Firefly. The Times looks at the Bicycle Kitchen’s women’s-only Bicycle Bitchen night. Richard Risemberg writes that bike lanes benefit the entire community, including local merchants. Your access to mountain bike trails could depend on playing nice. South Pasadena may consider extending the Arroyo Seco bike path next week. The Culver City Bicycle Coalition is hosting a fundraising ride on Sunday, November 11th, while C.I.C.L.E. is hosting a Made in LA ride on Saturday, November 17.

How not to sell a bike on Craigslist. Video of the amazing turnout at last weekend’s memorial ride in Newport Beach. A new female-centric bike shop opens in Orange County. If you’re looking for a good ride and good beer, you could do worse than a ride to North San Diego County’s Stone Brewing Company. Lucky San Diego cyclists get to choose between two bike supporters for mayor, which is exactly what the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee is working towards here in L.A. A nurse has her bike stolen when she stops to help an injured cyclist at San Diego Critical Mass — then a local businessman buys her a new one. A coach with the Sacramento Kings hits a bike-riding child while test driving a new Jaguar, then returns it to the dealership instead of staying to help. Palo Alto police arrest two bike thieves after recognizing them from security footage. Who’s the genius who put a Share the Road sign in the middle of a bike lane? A 92-year old Sonoma driver denies running down two boys in a crosswalk, claiming they were the ones who damaged his car — and that one of them was a girl.

Seven reasons why bikes are for everyone. What does it take to build a world-class bicycling network, and will the US ever embrace bicycling like Denmark has? Why you might need more than one bike. Someday soon, you may never get another flat. Private bike share program Spinlister changes its name to Liquid, in an apparent attempt to conceal what the hell it is from anyone who might be interested. HuffPo looks at the hubris of Lance Armstrong, while the company that gave him $12 million in bonuses wants it’s money back, and an English town prepares to burn him in effigy; thanks to George Wolfberg for the latter link. Drunk Spokane driver gets two-and-a-half years for killing a cyclist. My hometown employs a smartphone app to crowd source cycling data. Oklahoma City gets its first sharrows. A Texas cyclist is under arrest for threatening two pedestrians with a gun. Doorings are down in Chicago, the question is why. Kill a Windy City cyclist in a right hook, and get a ticket for an improper right turn; no, really. The real riders on the storm — New York filmmaker Casey Neistat captures a four-hour ride through hurricane drenched streets. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, bikes provide the best way in, out or around Manhattan, as the city bans vehicles with less than three occupants from Manhattan. The anti-bike New York Post blames bike lanes for bus-bike collisions; yeah, it couldn’t be impatient bus drivers, overly aggressive riders or just plain carelessness. The world’s first car-only roadway is now a bike path, even though motorists used to fear the same vehicle segregation that many now call for. A Pennsylvania man gets six months probation for killing a cyclist while driving under the influence — six-effing-months probation, which is exactly the same sentence he would have gotten for a first-time DUI even if he didn’t hit anyone; nice to know the death of a human being doesn’t matter one damn bit in Western PA.

The popularity of tweed rides has helped increase the sales of more than just bikes. Helmet-cam video results in charges against a Canadian driver who dangerously Jerry Browned a cyclist — even though he could have safely passed a few seconds later. What to do after a crash. The victim is dead, but at least his bike has been returned. Teenage Brit triathlete is seriously injured in an apparent hit-and-run as she’s found on the side of the road after a car passes her, still clipped into her pedals. A new UK website tracks the best deals on bike gear. An Aussie writer asks whether you consider yourself a cyclist; ever notice that no one ever asks if people consider themselves drivers, which everyone becomes the moment they slide behind the wheel?

Finally, South Park takes on l’affaire Lance. A Polish cyclist is charged with speeding in a 30 mph zone — while riding completely naked except for the pants wrapped around his head.

And if you think some drivers are blind, you may be right.

Over 1,200 cyclists honor two fallen riders and call for bike safety in Newport Beach

Photos courtesy of April Morris

Sometimes, the SoCal cycling community awes me.

For the past few weeks, Newport Beach cyclists have been planning a memorial ride and fundraiser to honor fallen riders Sarah Leaf and Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion-Ritz, both killed the same horrible weekend last month.

As well as a third woman, Betty Bustrum, who somehow survived a serious collision on the Coast Highway.

When they first started planning this ride, I think organizers would have been happy if a few hundred riders showed up. Let alone the 600 bicyclists who had signed up to participate as of Saturday night.

Then the morning dawned, and over 1,200 cyclists were waiting at the starting point to honor the dead and injured, and call for better safety on Orange County streets.

I say over 1,200, because that’s when Newport Beach police stopped counting. It could have been 1,300. Or 1,500.

Or more.

More than 1,200 riders whose hearts — amazingly big, caring hearts — were in exactly the right place.

And who have contributed $53,000 and counting to improve bike safety in Newport Beach, with the city pledging to match donations on a three-to-one basis. Which means that $53,000 is really worth $159,000.

It came in the form of t-shirt sales, wristbands and donations ranging from a single dollar to $10,000 donated by our friend Frank Peters of cdmCyclist.

And there’s still time to raise more, as donations will continue to be accepted through the end of this year, in case you happen to find your heart and wallet full at the same time.

I don’t know if any of those riders were there because of anything I wrote about it here. Or if a solitary dime was donated due to anything I may have written.

But it doesn’t matter one whit.

I am simply amazed and gratified so many cyclists gave up their Sunday morning for their fellow riders.

And thankful for April Morris, Joan Littauer, the Orange County Bicycle Coalition, and all the people who volunteered their efforts and gave up far more than one morning to pull this off.


You all are amazing.


As long as we’re talking memorial rides, the stepdaughters of fallen cyclist Benjamin Torres are hosting a BikeRun in honor of their stepfather on Saturday, November 10th. If you live or ride in the Gardena area, show up to show the world he hasn’t been forgotten. And that all bicyclists have the right to ride safely.


A bicyclist is seriously injured, and a motorcyclist left in critical condition following a crash on Santiago Canyon Road near Modjeska Grade Road. Rancho Santa Margarita Patch quotes an OC Sheriff’s Department spokesperson as saying the collision was severe enough that they initially thought it was going to be a double fatality. But evidently, the OC Register was more concerned with the effect the crash had on traffic conditions.

Redlands police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who ran down a cyclist from behind at 45 – 55 mph, leaving her with critical injuries. The victim is identified only as a black woman in her 30s or 40s; police are looking for a newer black mid-size, 4-door sedan with tinted windows, and damage to the front bumper, windshield and roof.


The first NACTO conference reveals cities around the country are making their own transportation improvements without state or federal help. New York’s pro-cycling Mayor Bloomberg declares bicyclists, pedestrians and bus riders are as important, if not more, than motorists; thanks to Michele Bigelow for the heads-up. And NY stats show a 49% increase in retail sales along one new bikeway, and a 49% reduction in commercial vacancies along another.

So much for bike lanes being bad for business.


Unbelievably, after all the lies in pro cycling’s recent doping scandal, UCI picks Pinocchio as the mascot for next year’s World Championships. Talk about tone deaf.

Meanwhile, pro cycling’s governing body faces an investigation into its role in l’affaire Lance. The Guardian says UCI has a long way to go to reclaim their credibility, while five Euro newspapers team up to provide a roadmap to recovery.


Richard Risemberg offers solutions to the disappearing eastbound bike lane on Santa Monica Blvd in Century City; the current solution is pedal fast and hope for the best. Santa Monica’s Bike Center encourages new cyclists by loaning them a free bike for two weeks. A Downey writer calls on the city to develop an effective bike plan. Chico’s new city manager gets to know the town on two wheels. A pair of Napa cyclists look back on the recent Furnace Creek ultra-distance bike race.

It’s been a bad month for bike shop employees, as two were killed while riding this month. A red light-running New Mexico driver gets a whopping 90 days of home detention for killing a cyclist; way to crack down on dangerous drivers, your honor. A writer in my hometown asks if helmets are necessary in a cycling city. The mayor of Fort Worth conducts her town halls on two wheels. There’s a bicycling renaissance in central Massachusetts. It took a group of NY non-journalists to do the work the press didn’t and help bring doping to light.

A cyclist is being sought by Vancouver authorities for beating another rider, apparently for riding the wrong way on a bikeway. London plans to open the South Bank of the Thames to cyclists and pedestrians. A UK driver gets off with a slap on the wrist after the victim is blamed for his own fractured skull because he wasn’t wearing a helmet; so if I shoot someone, it’s his fault for not wearing a bulletproof vest, right? A British town is up in arms over the presence of a recumbent rider. In a truly heartbreaking case, a British rider is hit and killed by a car while exchanging information with a driver hit him in another collision moments earlier — and to top it off, his bike was stolen following the first collision by two men offering to help. The New York Times reveals why nearly forgotten cyclist Fiorenzo Magni was one of the greatest riders of his era — and not just because he finished 2nd in his final Giro with a broken collarbone and a broken arm. Four months after nearly getting killed in a Santa Rosa hit-and-run, Kiwi pro Michael Torckler makes a near-miraculous recovery to ride competitively once again.

Finally, I know the feeling, but seriously, don’t hit the car back after it hits you. If you’re going to carry your five-year old son on your bike, leave your portable meth lab at home.

And don’t get too comfortable, you can be replaced.

Bike Events: Newport Beach Memorial Ride, Tour de Portos and a Bike SGV Halloween Bike Train

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

new support group has formed for people who have been involved in a bicycle collision. Everyone is welcome to share your experiences, gain insight and understanding into your emotional state and develop new coping strategies. The group will meet Saturdays from 11:30 am to 1 pm at 6310 San Vicente Blvd, Suite 401. Current LACBC members receive a discount. To learn more, contact Aurisha Smolarski at 323/203-1526 or email aurisha.smolarski@gmail.com.

Saturday the 27th marks the Glassel Park Murder Mountain Urban CX Race starting at 4 pm at Velo Love, 3421 Verdugo Road, with an after party at Verdugo Bar.

Newport Beach will sponsor a memorial ride for fallen cyclists Sarah Leaf and Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz on Saturday, October 28th. The easy, 1.2 mile ride will begin at 8 am, starting from the northwest corner of Santa Rosa and Newport Center Drive, and rolling at a processional pace. A longer, unofficial ride will follow, visiting a number of sites where riders have been injured or killed in the area, as well as the soon-to-be-installed CdM sharrows. The ride will feature a fundraising drive for bike safety improvements, with the city matching all donations on a 3-to-1 basis up to $450,000, and there will be a raffle for prizes including a Specialized Bike and gift cards from local bike shops. If you live or ride in Orange County, you need to be here.

Now here’s a great idea for a ride. The Arthritis Foundation is teaming with one of the L.A. area’s favorite Cuban bakeries and cafés to offer the first ever Tour de Porto’s starting at 8:30 am on Sunday, October 28th. The ride starts at Porto’s in Glendale, travels a short distance to the Burbank Porto’s, then down the L.A. River Bike Path to the restaurant’s Downey location. If the entry fee includes a Cubano or Medianoche, count me in.

The same day, Bike SGV will host a Halloween Bike Train and BBQ, with rides of 25 and 60 miles, as well as a Walk/Jog/Run. The rides start at 9 am and 8 am, respectively, starting at 776 Santa Anita Ave in South El Monte, followed by bike and rider costume contests, barbeque and pumpkin carving.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Civic Engagement Committee meets at 6:45 pm on the last Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be Tuesday, October 30, at Johnnie’s Pizza at Museum Square, 5757 Wilshire Blvd. This month we turn our attention from the November election, and start focusing on next March’s L.A. mayoral and City Council elections. Email bikinginla at hotmail dot com to be added to the email list.

The Eastside Bike Club invites you to the 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos Bike Ride to honor family and friends who have passed. The ride assembles at 3:30 pm on Friday, November 2nd at Hecho En Mexico, 4976 Huntington Drive in El Sereno, rolling at 4 pm.

This month’s LACBC Sunday Funday ride will take place on Saturday night, instead. The Haunted Saturday Funday Ride (scroll down) will take meet at 3:45 pm on Saturday, November 3rd at The Georgian, 1415 Ocean Ave in Santa Monica, rolling at 4:15 pm. Led by Executive Director Jen Klausner, the 16 mile ride will visit spooky destinations like the Marquez Family Cemetery, Sullivan Ridge Fire Road and the Murphy Ranch. Expect some climbing and descending; dirt-worthy bikes recommended.

Monday, November 5th, the High Desert Cyclists hold their monthly Cruiser Ride from 9 am to 12 noon. The easy, slow paced rides run about 20 miles, at a speed of about 10 mph, with stops along the way. This month’s ride meets at the north side parking lot at Ave S and the Aquaduct in Palmdale.

The stepdaughters of fallen cyclist Benjamin Torres are hosting a BikeRun in honor of their stepfather on November 10th starting at Rowley Park in Gardena, and proceeding to Wilton Place and 135th St. The ride assembles at 3:30 pm and rolls at 4 pm. I highly recommend this one to honor a hit-and-run victim who should still be with us.

CORBA (the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association) invites riders to meet at the Hub in Topanga State Park on Saturday, November 17th to celebrate their 25th anniversary and show that mountain bikers can co-exist on off-road trails. Riders will meet at 10 am, with a group photo and cash prizes starting at 10:30.

The LACBC’s second Tour de Taste is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, December 2nd; mark your calendar for a unique combination of bikes and great food.

High Desert Cyclists win the award for the first scheduled Christmas party of the year, to be held at 7 pm on Monday, December 17th at the Texas Cattle Company, 44206 10th Street West in Lancaster. You can also buy a $40 raffle ticket for a chance to win a $600 Bicycle John’s gift certificate; the raffle ticket includes a free one year family membership to the HDC.

Registration is now open for a six-day ride through San Diego and Riverside Counties between the holidays. The HI-USA Christmas Trip, which has rolled every year since the mid-1950s, starts in San Diego on December 26th and returns on December 31st, with five overnights in between. Total mileage runs between 360 and 400 miles, with terrain ranging from urban to rural, mountains to desert. Thanks to Marvin Davis for the heads-up.

Make your plans for the Malibu 7-Canyon Ride on Saturday, March 23rd with rides of 100 mile, 100 kilometers and 50 miles. The fully supported ride will begin at Zuma Beach, and pass through Latigo, Encinal, Decker, Mulholland, Little Sycamore, Yerba Buena and Deer Creek Canyons, with over 9,000 feet of climbing on the century ride. The first 200 people to register before November 15th will get a 15% discount; enter the code First200 on the registration page.

Memorial ride for fallen Newport Beach cyclists — and a fundraising drive for bike safety

I’ve often heard that Newport Beach is a dangerous place to ride a bike.

That was driven home when two cyclists were killed less than 24 hours apart last month, as nutritionist Sarah Leaf was killed by a right-turning truck, and Dr. Catherine Campion-Ritz died in a hit-an-run as she was riding in a bike lane with her husband; a suspect has been charged in her death.

That’s why I’ve been following reports that the city was planning a memorial ride for the two cyclists later this month.

And more importantly, raising funds for safety improvements, with Newport Beach matching any money raised on a 3-to-1 basis — and our friend Frank Peters of cdmCyclist pledging the first $10,000.

I’ve been waiting for full details, which entered my inbox tonight in an email from April Morris, who gave me permission to share it with you.

I am one of the volunteers (and a cyclist) helping organize the Newport Beach-sponsored Memorial Ride on October 28, 2012. The ride starts at 8 am and it is open to riders of all levels, since it is only 1.2 miles. It will be a processional-paced ride to honor those who have fallen as well as those who survived collisions. As you probably know, in September 2012 within 24 hours two cyclists (women) were killed on the streets of Newport Beach from automobile collisions. A third woman (within a 3 day period) was critically injured. Three incidents in three days is just too much for our cycling community to sit still for.

The cycling community is up in arms and wants change. We want to be viewed as a cohesive group and part of the solution to the problem. I, and Joan Littauer, volunteered on behalf of all of our cycling brethren to help the city organize this Memorial Ride. A large attendance at this ride is important. We want the city to see how large our numbers are (the Mayor and several councilmen will be present).

Subsequent to these three collisions, we have pressed the City to start making advancements in bicycle lane improvements – since cyclists from all around So. Cal use the Newport Beach streets on their routes. We are pleased to report that as of last night, at the City Council Meeting, the City of Newport Beach agreed to match all of our funds raised, $3 to $1, up to $450,000 specifically for Bicycle Safety Improvements. This means if we raise $150,000, the City will put in $450,000 giving us $600,000 in the fund.

A special fund has been established by the City so that any donations are tax deductible. Can you help us spread the word about the ride and the need to generate $150,000 so that we can get ALL of the $450,000 matching funds for bicycle improvements? We have a website established for the ride with information on our fund raising activities: www.NewportBeachMemorialRide.com

Thank you so much for any help you can give us in publicizing the Memorial Ride and giving information on the fund raising element.

If you live or ride in Orange County, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning; you can go to brunch, catch the game or attend church to repent your failings afterwards.

Or a better cause to donate to, since the life you save may be your own or someone you love.

It’s definitely worth a few bucks if you’re on a tight budget, or more if you’re not. And maybe it’s time for bike-friendly businesses and wealthier riders to step up and make a donation big enough to make a difference.

Update: I’m told an unofficial ride with follow the official memorial ride, taking a longer route to visit the sites of local collisions that have left riders dead or seriously injured, as well as the site of the upcoming CdM sharrows on PCH.


One other quick note.

I’ve been busy curating LA Streetsblog this week, which has kept me too busy to ride as I’ve done my best to keep up with two busy blogs. And Thursday is my last day as guest editor for new father Damien Newton, since I have a prior commitment on Friday.

But there’s one more project waiting in the wings. Or actually, in the corner of my office where the bikes sleep.

Sometime in the next week or two, I’ll be writing a review  at the request of Critical Cycles, makers of a solid and surprising affordable single-speed/fixed gear bike.

And no, I won’t be riding brakeless.

Not me.

Not ever.


Turned into this… (Note the hand brake on the handlebars)

Which, with a little effort — and an old water bottle cage — turned into this.

Update — Suspect arrested in fatal Newport Beach hit-and-run

Corona del Mar today is reporting that a suspect has been arrested in hit-and-run death of Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz last weekend. Campion Ritz was run down from behind as she and her husband were riding their bikes in a Newport Beach bike lane last weekend.

Details are still sketchy. However, the site reports that an arrest was made early this morning, and police have the suspect vehicle in custody. And yes, it is a Toyota Tundra, as had been suspected.

More information when it becomes available.

The fast arrest undoubtedly has to do with the seriousness with which the local police treated the case.

Not only did Newport Beach Police Chief Jay Johnson lose his own 18-year old brother in a traffic collision, as cdmCyclist’s Frank Peters reported last night, but he clearly understands the curse of rampant hit-and-runs.

“That was a hit and run accident, which absolutely disgusts me,” Johnson said. “This police department will not stop until we find this suspect and bring him to justice. We are not going to stop until we make this happen.”

When every police department adopts that attitude, maybe this epidemic will finally stop.

Half of the eight fatal cycling collisions in Orange County this year have been hit-and-runs; the County’s ninth cycling death was a solo fall. That compares with two hit-and-runs out of seven cycling collisions in both Los Angeles and San Diego Counties.

L.A. County has a total of 15 riding deaths so far this year, including solo falls and one train collision, while San Diego has 10.

Correction: Earlier I wrote that Chief Johnson lost his brother in a bicycling collision; it was actually a motor vehicle collision. Thanks to Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the correction.

Update: The Orange County Bicycle Coalition identifies the suspect as 39-year old Anaheim resident Michael Jason Lopez.

Newport Beach police arrested Lopez around 2 am this morning; he’s currently being held on $100,000 bond on a charge of Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence. Hit-and-run charges will most likely be filed at a later date.

%d bloggers like this: