Tag Archive for Ohio Ave

Pomona hit-and-run killer arrested, OC Register’s Dan Whiting questioned, and a Westwood pothole fail

The driver who killed Rafael Perez in a Pomona hit-and-run on Wednesday has turned himself in to the police.

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 67-year old Chino resident Rodger Allen Karcher walked into the Pomona Police Station around 8 pm Thursday. Police speculated that Karcher turned himself in after hearing media coverage of the collision, in which the victim was dragged half a block under Karcher’s SUV.

The Tribune reports that his SUV was also located, and matched the evidence found at the seen.

Karcher was booked on suspicion of hit-and-run causing death, and was being held on $50,000 bail; arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

Yes, that’s a lousy $50,000 for dragging a man half a city block to his death.

And of course, Karcher may — or may not — have been drunk as a skunk when the collision occurred. But if he was, he had plenty of time to sober up in the 26-and-a-half hours before he turned himself in.

Thanks to Opus the Poet for the heads-up.


I’m still hearing from cyclists about David Whiting’s recent columns about bicycling in the Orange County Register.

As I’ve said before, Whiting seems to have his heart in the right place. I have no doubt that he genuinely cares about keeping riders safe, and ending the seemingly eternal conflict between riders and drivers behind the Orange Curtain — one that has contributed to a nearly one a month rate of biking fatalities in the county.

On the other hand, that’s a hell of a lot better than the 21 riders killed on OC streets in 2006, or even the 15 killed the following year.

The problem is that Whiting seems to blame the victims, placing more than our share of responsibility firmly on the helmets and wheels of riders. And interpreting bike laws in an overly conservative manner, including a common misconception that riding two or more abreast is against the law — even though that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the California Vehicle Code.

Mark Loftus, author of the insightful riding website The C-Blog — I particularly like his explanation of why we roadies wear such ridiculous clothes — copied me on an email he sent to Whiting in response to his latest column on bicycling.

I have a quick observation that I was hoping you might see fit to print in the future…

There are several comments from readers included in your piece (referenced above) that go something like this:

  • I saw cyclists doing this (breaking a perceived law).
  • I saw cyclists run this light.
  • I saw a cyclist run that stop sign.
  • I saw cyclists do that.

And then these comments conclude with something akin to:

  • Cyclists should not be allowed on the road.
  • Cyclists should ride on bike paths.

I will not debate the validity of these observations except to say that many comments, on many different websites (not just your article) put out a cyclist “infraction” and it’s not really against the law anyway because the writer apparently doesn’t know/understand the law.

At any rate, why is it, in articles that draw out comments such as these, we don’t see comments also saying:

  • I saw a car driver not stop at a stop sign.
  • I saw a car driver texting while driving.
  • I saw a car driver blocking the whole lane and they wouldn’t let me pass. I had to pass on the shoulder or into oncoming traffic.
  • I saw a car driver run that red light.

And then, these comments could conclude with:

  • Car drivers should not be allowed on the road.

Food for thought, I should think.

Whiting responded positively, indicating that he’s written critically about drivers in the past. And may do so again soon.

Now that’s something I’ll look forward to reading.


Finally, a major Streets Services fail in Westwood.

In the roughly 18 years I’ve lived in this neighborhood, I’ve noticed a repeated problem at the corner of Manning and Ohio Avenues.

A near constant flow of water through the gutter on the west side of the intersection results in a massive recurring pothole undermining the eastbound lane — in fact, you can even see it in this Google satellite photo.

For nearly two decades, I’ve watched as the city would send out a crew to patch the pavement, without ever doing anything about the root cause of the problem. And every time, the patch would only hold for a few months — or in some cases, weeks — before washing out again under the continual barrage of water and traffic.

Never mind that if they figured out where the water was coming from, they might be able to actually solve the problem, and save a fortune in perennial pothole repair.

Maybe they’re finally catching on.

Instead of patching the pothole once again, after doing it yet again just a few months earlier, the city responded by placing warning signs directly over the potholes.

In the middle of the traffic lane.

So instead of investing a few bucks worth of asphalt for yet another temporary fix, they’ve decided to avoid the issue entirely.

And hope drivers manage to avoid the signs placed directly in their path, forcing them to go around by either cutting into the heavily trafficked pedestrian crosswalk on the right. Or cut around the signs on the left by entering the oncoming traffic lane.

Neither of which is a reasonable — or even rational — expectation.

And never mind that the second option places motorists directly in the path of vehicles coming over a blind hill, at an intersection where drivers frequently roll through the stop in all four directions.

And of course, when the inevitable collision occurs, if it hasn’t already, it will be your tax dollars that will pay the city’s share of the damages.

All because some rocket scientist thought putting a warning sign in a traffic lane was a better idea than patching the damn pothole one more time. Let alone finding the problem causing the posthole to keep coming back.

And fixing it.

Best wishes to all for a very healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

Just poor planning? Or are they trying to kill us?

When I ride my bike, I tend to stick to routes I know, and take side streets whenever possible.

That gives me an intimate knowledge of the danger spots; because I know the streets, I know where I’m likely to run into trouble, so I can be ready for it.

For instance, when I take the bike lane on Main Street in Santa Monica, I know I’ll have a long, straight route where I can get up a good head of speed, often approaching — or sometimes exceeding — the speed of traffic. But I keep a close watch for taillights and drivers behind the steering wheels of parked cars, so I can avoid getting doored. And I have to be prepared for cars that suddenly cut in front of me and stop in the bike lane to back into a parking space.

If I keep a close watch on the oncoming cars behind me, though, I can easily cut out into traffic and take the lane for as long as it takes to avoid any obstacles.

Closer to home, I often take Ohio through Westwood, which gives me a nice, relatively quiet street to ride. East of Westwood Blvd, I look out for cars that dart out from the side streets without looking for bikes coming downhill at 25 or 30 mph; west of the boulevard, I know that cars tend to pass too closely. Sometimes intentionally.

But when I drive my car, I don’t have to be concerned about things like that. So I frequently find myself driving down streets I seldom, if ever ride.

Like Pico Blvd, for instance.

According to the most recent Metro Bike Map, it’s designated as a bike route between the 405 freeway to Century Park East.

Evidently, they assume a lot of cyclists are going to ride along the 405, then sling their bikes over their shoulders and climb down from the overpass, since there’s no exit ramp there. Or else we’re going to ride Pico to Cotner — just before the freeway — and then take the onramp for a nice, exhilarating ride over the Sepulveda pass.

And who knows, that could happen. Because anyone crazy enough to ride through all the traffic and potholes along there is probably crazy enough to ride the freeway.

The next section, just east of Sepulveda, offers two narrow lanes in each direction, bounded by parked cars on either side. And there’s no room to ride in the parking lane, even if you did manage to avoid any swinging doors.

Which means that any rider there would be forced to take a lane on one of the Westside’s most crowded streets. Then try to dodge all the cars pulling in and out of all the various driveways, parking lots and valet stands, as well as one of the city’s busier shopping centers.

I suppose that explains why I’ve never seen a cyclist on that particular bike route. And I can only assume it was designated as a bike route in a blatant attempt to thin the herd, since I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone without a death wish.

Then I find myself driving down other streets, such as Centinella, which was recently repaved and widened, leaving plenty of room for a bike lane now, in an area that desperately needs one. Instead, they put in nice, wide lanes and a center divider lane. The newly rebuilt Santa Monica Blvd, where they could easily extend the bike lane through Beverly Hills — or at least far enough to accommodate the route Will recently attempted.

Or Jefferson, which has three full lanes of traffic leading to and from the new Playa Vista development, yet no bike lanes to help move those people in and out of the area, or get riders to and from all the work places that have opened up in the former warehouse district south of Ballona Creek.

Maybe they assume riders will take the Ballona Creek bike path to get there. Except that it runs on the north side of the creek, with little access to the south side. And it presents it’s own set of problems.

I could go on (and on… and on…), but you get the idea.

Pick virtually any street in West L.A. If it’s a designated bike route, chances are, it shouldn’t be. Or if it could safely accommodate a bike lane, it doesn’t. And if by some miracle it actually has a bike lane, it usually doesn’t go anywhere, and dumps riders off in the most dangerous spot possible.

I think Timur hit it on the head. (If you haven’t read his blog, drop what you’re doing — once you finish reading this, of course — and check out one of the most intelligent, insightful and beautifully written sites in local cyberspace.)

The problem is that our entire bike system shows every sign of being designed by people who have never ridden a bike in their entire lives. Or at least, haven’t been on one that didn’t training wheels, streamers on the handlebars or playing cards attached to the spokes.

It’s a system that was designed to move cars with maximum efficiency, though little evident efficacy, with no thought paid to any other form of traffic or the effect it will has the surrounding community — like the mayor’s plan to turn Olympic and Pico into one-way streets, for instance. And whatever minimal effort was made to accommodate cyclists or pedestrians was obviously nothing more than an afterthought.

That why we need to add our comments to the new bicycle master plan, which the city is updating right now. (Yes, there actually is one now, believe it or not.) Then contact your council member to insist on adoption of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights — and do something concrete about it by insisting that Metro include a 1% each set-aside for cycling and pedestrian projects in the proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase.

You don’t have to look very had to see the failure of bicycle planning around here.

And no one’s likely to do anything about it unless we stand up and make them.


The Times’ Bottleneck Blog’s questions SoCal bike routes, including one on a Ventura highway in the sunshine; you’re gonna go, I know. Once again, the city breaks the law by banning cyclists from the holiday light display in Griffith Park. Maybe we should get a group together and go anyway. LACBC celebrates it’s tenth anniversary with a potluck party. Thankfully, only Will Campbell’s shadow bites the dust, courtesy of a non-stop driver, then encounters the owner of these road we ride on. Back from vacation, Gary catches us up on the Brentwood Grand Prix, and urges us to support the subway to the sea. But who won the Manolos? Alex says goodbye to Spook. And finally, New York has over 3600 reports of vehicles blocking bike lanes; L.A. zero. Somehow, I don’t think that means it never happens here; maybe we just don’t have enough functional lanes that anyone out here thinks it matters.  

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