Tag Archive for police shooting

Morning Links: Surprising stats on CA bike crashes, and unarmed bike rider shot by sheriff’s deputies in Castaic

LA County is by far the most dangerous place in California to ride a bicycle.

Or maybe not.

Following up on his brief look at national bicycling crash stats, Ed Ryder is back with a more detailed look at bicycle injuries and fatalities on a countywide basis in California, from 2004 to 2016. And the results are both exactly what you might expect, and very surprising, depending on how you look at the data.

The good news is, bicycling fatalities dropped slightly in 2014, following a steady upward climb from 2009 to 2013, while injuries continue a gradual decline from a peak in 2012.

State Report 1

Not surprisingly, Los Angeles, as the state’s most populous county, led the way with 41% of bicycling injuries, followed by Orange and San Diego Counties.

State Report 2

The same held true for bicycling fatalities, as Southern California counties dominate the stats, led by Los Angeles at 30%, followed by Orange, Riverside, San Diego and San Bernardino.

State Report 3

However, the surprise comes when you look at injuries and fatalities on a per capita basis.

When Ryder examined the rate of injuries per one million population, he found that Los Angeles County barely made the top ten, coming in just above the state average. Santa Cruz County led the way, followed by San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Marin and Yolo.

State Report 4

When he looked at the rate of fatalities per one million population, Los Angeles didn’t even make the top ten. It turns out that Stanislaus County is actually California’s deadliest place to ride a bicycle, followed by Tulare, Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties. However, Southern California was still well represented with Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange Counties making the list.

State Report 5

So what exactly does this mean?

It could be more evidence of the safety in numbers effect, as you’re more likely to be injured in less populated counties.

Or the low death rate could be evidence of lower average speeds and better access to emergency care in Los Angeles County.

But the main thing it shows it that too many people are still getting injured or killed on our streets.

And we need to keep fighting until the last person killed riding a bicycle in California really is the last person killed riding a bike.

You can read the full report on California bicycling injuries and fatalities here.

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Questions are being raised after LA sheriff’s deputies shot an unarmed bike rider in Castaic Tuesday night.

The victim, a homeless man named William Bowers, reportedly jumped off his bike and tried to flee on foot as the officers chased him. He was shot when he allegedly reached for something in his waistband.

However, a witness says he was just walking down the street, after crashing his bike when deputies ordered him to stop, and had his hands down at his side when they opened fire.

The Times says it was unclear why the officers tried to stop him in the first place.

Local residents said the victim was well-known in the area. And despite suffering from drug problems, he never caused any trouble, though he did have a habit of trying to get away from deputies on his bike.

It wasn’t that long ago that shooting an unarmed man was enough to cost an officer his badge.

Now the accusation that someone reached for his waistband is enough to exonerate a cop.

Even if the victim was just trying to hold up his pants.

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Cyclelicious takes a deep dive into the Caltrans/UCLA report on bicycle crashes in LA County. If you don’t have the time or patience to dig through the full 97-page report, he offers an excellent summary of the key details.

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Bike SGV is hosting a used bike sale today through Saturday.

Bike SGV Used Bike Sale

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Defending silver medalist Lizzie Armistead insists she’s clean as she prepares to lead Britain’s cycling team into the Rio Olympics; she claims the missed drug tests weren’t her fault. Although missing three drug tests in 12 months does not exactly inspire confidence; after the repeated denials from Lance, Floyd, et al, it’s hard to believe anyone who denies doping these days.

Bicycling gets in the mood for Rio with five crazy moments in Olympic cycling history.

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Local

Metro votes to put the transportation tax increase, including funding for bike and pedestrian projects, on the November ballot.

KPCC’s Air Talk discusses the new law requiring temporary plates on newly purchased vehicles, which should help identify hit-and-run drivers.

CiclaValley continues his report on the ten most essential climbs in the LA area.

There will be a fundraiser this Saturday for bike shop owner Josef Bray-Ali’s grass roots effort to unseat anti-bike CD1 City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, aka Roadkill Gil.

Covina police arrest a burglary suspect who fled by bicycle after breaking a car window and stealing a purse.

The host of Tom Explores Los Angeles will explore the history of Santa Monica later this month with a tour that’s part walking and part bikeshare.

 

State

Mind the letter of the law in OC this weekend, where sheriff’s deputies will be enforcing traffic violations involving drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, in the latest effort to improve safety for the latter two.

Exclusive La Jolla may get a few docking stations for San Diego’s bikeshare system whether they want it or not. Meanwhile, a La Jolla man has discovered the alleys of the community because he’s not comfortable riding his bike on the street.

The madness continues in Coronado, as a letter writer says a proposed bike and pedestrian bridge would just bring more transients. Because evidently homeless people can’t figure out how to take the ferry, or follow the bike path around the bay to the strange little town.

A suspected Palm Springs car thief fleeing from the CHP on a bicycle suffered minor injuries when he allegedly swerved left into the patrol car that was driving right beside him. Sure, that’s credible; a suicide swerve makes much more sense than the cops cutting him off with their car to stop him.

Congratulations to Bakersfield on 29 new bouncing baby bike racks.

Bay Area advocates are pushing for a bike and pedestrian bridge over an estuary near Jack London Square.

An Oakland man was shot in a bike-jacking. Seriously, if someone has a weapon, just let them have the damn bike. No bicycle is worth your life.

 

National

A new Streetfilm says building an equitable bikeshare system is possible.

A man and his dog traveling cross-country by bike were both banged up when their rear wheel “exploded” while riding in South Dakota.

A group of Columbus OH cyclists will ride in purple tutus this weekend to honor a friend who died of leukemia.

A bicyclist slammed into a pedestrian in New York on Wednesday. Notice how no one ever seems to suggest that it might not have been the rider’s fault in cases like this, even though the pedestrian was jaywalking.

A New York study shows protected bike lanes reduce bicyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities at intersections by a whopping 53%. Despite claims by some that protected lanes would leave riders more vulnerable at intersections.

A Pennsylvania bike rider offers seven reasons not to hit a bike rider with your car. Reason #8: I know a lot of good lawyers.

The coaching staff of the Washington Redskins commute to training camp by bicycle, despite what they describe as a wild ride dodging car doors and riding salmon.

She gets it. A Charleston SC columnist says it’s time to stop bitching about traffic caused by a bike lane on a bridge, and focus on building a community that serves and protects all people, not just the ones in cars.

An off-duty Charleston cop has been charged with assault and battery following a fight with a salmon cyclist; the officer resigned while the case was under investigation.

A pair of Hilton Head SC thieves stole a pickup from a driveway, and left a bicycle in its place. Sounds like the owner of the truck may have gotten the better end of the deal.

 

International

Cycling Weekly explores the eternal question of what’s the right tire pressure.

If you build it, they will like it. Saskatoon, Canada residents are happy with a pilot bike lane network in the downtown area, even if it leaves a lot to be desired.

A Welsh woman was killed when she rode off a the edge of a ravine in the Pyrenees while cycling in a heavy fog.

Brit commenters argue over who’s at fault when video surfaces of a bike rider getting right hooked as he overtakes a taxi, whose driver failed to signal. So why does it have to be one or the other? Isn’t it just possible that both of them might have contributed to the situation?

An 81-year old Pakistani man is scraping by as a Lahore rickshaw driver after being hailed as a hero when he competed for the country as a cyclist in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics.

Caught on video: A bike-riding Kiwi mail carrier goes out of his way to get a few licks from a nine-month old German Shepherd.

Malaysian authorities raided the country’s cycling officials after accusations of substandard tracks and a lack of safety barriers during the recent Malaysia Games, even though funds had been allocated for the courses.

 

Finally…

No, really. It’s okay if you blow that red light, because you’re just following the rules of calories. How to tell if you’re a Fred.

And yes, you can cart a caribou carcass by bicycle.

 

Morning Links: State may legalize California stop; bike rider shot by Santa Ana PD; free Cycling Savvy class in OC

The California legislature could be taking your life in its hands.

Brenda Miller, founder of the PEDal advocacy group, writes that a new bill currently flying under the radar would legalize the California stop at red lights. According to her, SB 986 jeopardizes the safety of cyclists and pedestrians by eliminating the requirement that drivers remain stopped until they check for traffic before making a right turn on the red.

The result, she says, is that most drivers will simply roll through the intersection without stopping. Or looking.

You can read more of her comments on the bill here.

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An apparently homeless bike rider was shot and killed by Santa Ana police Monday morning after struggling with officers.

Let’s hope the altercation didn’t start just because he was riding on the sidewalk in violation of local law. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the heads-up.

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The Orange County Wheelmen is hosting a free class this Thursday to discuss your rights and responsibilities to help keep you safe on the road.

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Two common themes in today’s news, starting with still more kindhearted people.

An Ohio man’s co-workers pitch in to buy him a new bike after his was stolen while he was working.

In a nice gesture, Schwinn will donate 100 bicycles to Louisville KY kids.

A Connecticut cop gives a 15-year old boy his own bicycle after the teen’s bike was stolen.

The owner of a New Jersey bike shop is giving back to the community by purchasing 41 bicycles that will be given to underprivileged kids in the city’s toughest neighborhoods.

Sheriff’s deputies give a bike to a 16-year old boy so he wouldn’t have to walk four miles to the library in the Florida heat to study.

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And the opposite, as road raging drivers form a far too common theme.

A Spokane driver faces a first-degree murder charge for deliberately chasing down a rider and smashing into him following a dispute.

Caught on video: An Atlantic City woman is under arrest for smashing her car into several parked cars in a deliberate attempt to run down a bike rider, who is shown throwing his bike at her car multiple times; police are looking for another suspect, presumably the man on the bike. The driver should be charged with attempted murder; the bike rider with bicycle abuse, if nothing else.

A Florida cyclist’s cross-county dream came to an abrupt end in Alabama when a road raging driver first threatened him with a knife, then ran over ran over his bicycle; the driver faces charges of reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal mischief.

Caught on video too: An Aussie truck driver is now under investigation after he posted video of himself deliberately drenching a group of riders with water, while cackling that he wishes he could run them over instead. It’s bad enough to pull crap like this, but what kind of idiot posts video online of himself doing it?

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Peter Sagan confirms that he will be moving to current second-tier team Bora-Hansgrohe for next season when it moves up to WorldTour status, while Nicholas Roche jumps to BMC.

Bicycling offers seven reasons to get excited about the Tour of Utah, going on now in, that’s right, Utah.

A transgendered Canadian cyclist wins a key human rights complaint over what she considers a humiliating sex-verification process, as well as being denied needed hormones because they’re banned under anti-doping rules.

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Local

KPCC notes that Los Angeles is currently holding focus groups to fine-tune its Vision Zero plan, with public meetings to come later.

DTLA’s Metro Bike bikeshare system, which remains in desperate need of a good nickname, is now open to walk-up users at a reduced rate of $1.75 per half hour through September. Meanwhile, Next City asks if bikeshare should cost the same as a bus.

CiclaValley rides Critical Mass.

Santa Monica’s California Incline, including new bike lanes, is finally set to open one month from today.

A UCLA doctor on the final leg of a seven-day charity ride saves the life of another rider who was suffering a heart attack in Malibu. Thanks to Evan G for the link.

 

State

The dozens of bicycles in a Santa Barbara couple’s garage testify to their lifelong love of bike riding.

San Bruno approves its first comprehensive walk and bike plan.

A San Francisco man is charged with murder in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist in June while driving a stolen car.

 

National

Surprisingly, using Uber has done nothing to cut the rate of drunk driving deaths.

Portland police track down a Vietnam vet’s custom hand-bike after the double-amputee’s bicycle was stolen.

Once again, a bike rider has been killed while inexplicably riding in the fast lane of a freeway, this time in Portland.

The parents of the first, and so far only, cyclist killed while riding a bikeshare bike have filed a wrongful death suit against the truck driver who hit her and his employer.

Brooklyn bike riders get a new parking-protected bike lane, replacing the existing unprotected lane. Which is a natural progression that can and should be followed on many, if not most, LA bike lanes.

A man rides off with a $5,500 bicycle from a Florida bike shop after giving them the keys to a non-existent car as collateral for a test ride.

 

International

Ottawa, Canada cyclists and residents opposed to ghost bikes have been battling it out at the scene of a cyclist’s death; after the city removed her ghost bike, bike advocates and the victim’s family would draw one on the wall, then someone else would come and wash it off at night. Now, someone has upped the ante by illegally painting it on the wall where she died.

A Toronto columnist says why not build Pokemon Go lanes, since he’s convinced there are more Pokemon Go players than there are bike riders.

A London father uses security camera footage and Facebook to track down the teenage thieves who stole his daughter’s bicycle.

 

Finally…

Throw away your sports drinks; soon you’ll be quaffing nasty-tasting ketones, while you ride a $3,000 entry-level bike. Singing while you ride is one thing, playing a cello is another.

And parking in a bike lane is bad enough without using it as a staging area to climb a tower on the Bay Bridge.

 

Morning Links: Police shoot at a K-Town bike rider, Prince was one of us, and bicycle heroes in the news

Now the police are shooting at bike riders.

In a somewhat bizarre story, the Eastsider reports LAPD officers opened fire after stopping a man riding a bicycle in Historic Filipinotown Wednesday night.

The website says it’s not clear why police attempted to detain the man, who fled on foot after the shooting, and no reason is given for why the police tried to shoot him.

Then again, if cops were shooting at me, I’d run like hell, too.

The man was taken into custody a few hours later after police cordoned off the area; as of Thursday morning he had not been booked, and there was no information on what charges he might face, if any.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

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As everyone most likely knows by now, Prince was found dead in his Minneapolis home yesterday, just days after he got on his bicycle to show the world he was okay after a brief hospitalization for flu-like symptoms last week.

He also rode his bike to leave the stage between songs during his March solo concert in Oakland — not San Francisco, as I wrote earlier.

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Today’s news features a few hero bicyclists.

After two Polish women steal another woman’s purse, a cyclist chases them down and crashes into them to recover it, while catching the pursuit on his bike cam.

Closer to home, an OC rider uses his bicycle to take down a thief who had just emptied the cash drawer in a Huntington Beach restaurant.

And a different kind of hero, thanks to the efforts of a USC student, 37 high school students in need will receive bicycles impounded by the university; she got the idea after her own bike was stolen. Thanks to Patrick Pascal for the link.

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Episode 1Momentum Magazine says those overly graphic Phoenix bike safety graphic novels are gruesome and straight up appalling, while noting that the tone deaf AZ Department of Transportation inexplicably considers them a success.

If you can call frightening little kids off their bikes for life a success, that is; Streetsblog simply calls the brochures insane.

Meanwhile, prinzrob points out they’re not the first to use the scary graphic novel approach, as a 1972 comic book tells the tale of kid and his bicycle from hell — literally.

Although it does have a happy ending, since he learns to ride safely and grows up to be a hipster.

03

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Local

LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar is working to create a more walkable, bikeable and livable Downtown. Contrast that with LA’s Westside and Northeast LA, where councilmembers have actively blocked any significant improvements in their districts.

CiclaValley takes a slide through Topanga State Park.

A person of interest in a rash of bike thefts at Cal State Long Beach has been temporarily banned from campus after police spotted him casing bike racks; he’s subject to arrest for trespassing if he’s even seen on campus before Monday.

Culver City Walk & Rollers hosts a seven-mile Family Sweet Streets Ride to visit bakeries and ice cream and sweets shops in the city.

 

State

The Dana Point Gran Prix returns to the city’s Lantern District at the end of this month, with two days of family bike activities before the pros hit the streets.

Competitive bike polo comes to Fresno.

In a brilliant display of police work, Clovis police fail to conduct a sobriety test after a driver fatally runs down a cyclist from behind, in a bike lane and without braking; police initially said the driver “accidently bumped into” the victim. Kind of makes you wonder how well they know the driver, doesn’t it?

A free training class for League Certified Cycling Instructors in Monterey County will likely be postponed for lack of interest.

Chico police are planning to install cameras on a dangerous bike path near the local university; so far, only $4,000 of the required $20,000 has been raised so far. Even in a small town like that, $20,000 should be little more than a rounding error in the city budget.

 

National

A new NACTO guide on siting bikeshare stations says they should be accessible and convenient, and located within a three to five minute walking distance of one another. Let’s hope LA Metro picks up a copy.

Bicycling Magazine offers safety pointers for urban bicyclists, as well as tips on how to prepare for your first bike ride; meanwhile the Oregonian suggests ways to get ready to bike to work.

Ohio pediatricians are teaming with the state DOT to distribute 10,000 free bike helmets to children. Hopefully they won’t include the Arizona bike safety brochures along with them.

Once again, the NYPD seems to be bending over backwards to exonerate a truck driver in the death of a bike rider; first they said the victim was hanging onto the truck, which was not supposed to be on the narrow residential street, then suggest that the non-existent “wind force” of the slow moving truck sucked the rider underneath.

The New York Daily News says the NYPD, and Chief Bill Bratton — former head of the LAPD — needs to get onboard with the mayor’s Vision Zero plan. As the above story shows, the department’s extreme windshield bias means drivers are seldom held accountable for collisions with cyclists and pedestrians, continuing to put both at needless risk.

Somehow I missed this story from the New York Times, which examines the problem of motor doping in the pro peloton; thanks to George Wolfberg for finding it.

A pair of New Orleans men fight bike theft one Facebook post at a time.

There’s a special place in hell for someone who’d steal a specialty handbike from a handicapped Tampa man.

 

International

Two people were killed when an elevated bike path built in advance of the Rio Olympics collapsed when it was it by a strong wave; a third person is missing while two others were rescued. ABC News says shoddy construction due to graft is an ongoing problem in the country, which could affect this summer’s games.

Montreal is working to improve safety for bike riders on 57 dangerous underpasses in the city, while Toronto’s war between cyclists and drivers seems to have ended.

A writer for the Telegraph says the UK could wipe out its national debt if they fined every driver who stopped in London’s bike boxes.

London cabbies team with cyclists to campaign for cleaner air.

Scotland expects a record turnout for the fifth Pedal on Parliament; last year’s ride drew 4,000 people calling for bike safety.

Caught on video: A London cop is enraged that a bicyclist chose to ride in the traffic lane rather than a crowded bike lane.

A new system in the Netherlands is designed to warn drivers that a bicyclist is approaching an intersection in order to help riders cross safely.

A writer for the Guardian looks at the war on bike riders in Australia’s New South Wales.

 

Finally…

Apparently, Americans aren’t too concerned about global warming because we like it. Is the shape of a bike-riding BBC presenter’s ass really more important than the ride she’s promoting to battle cancer?

And what if Chrissie Hynde was one of us, just a stranger on a bus?

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Thanks to Josh Cohen, aka Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney, for renewing his sponsorship for another year. Without the support of our sponsors, this site couldn’t exist in its present form.

And to all who observe Passover, Chag Sameach!

Gardena police video released in shooting of unarmed man looking for his brother’s stolen bike

As expected, a judge has ordered the release of a video showing the Gardena police fatally shooting the unarmed brother of a bike theft victim.

Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino was trying to tell the officers that the men they had detained weren’t bike thieves, but friends who were helping to look for the bike.

But instead of releasing them, the cops opened fire when he took of his hat and lowered his hands, shooting Diaz-Zeferino eight times, and injuring one of his companions, who had his hands in the air the whole time.

Even though Diaz-Zeferino was unarmed, and as the video shows, made no threatening moves towards the officers.

He was shot, apparently, because they thought he might possibly be armed, and they were too afraid to wait to see if he really had a gun before blowing him away.

And somehow, that’s okay with the DA and the Gardena police department; KNBC-4 reports the officers are still with the force and patrolling the streets.

Even though the city felt there it had enough liability to settle with the victims’ families to the tune of a $4.7 million, paid out of the taxpayer’s pockets.

That’s a lot of guilt if no one did a damn thing wrong.

The city fought the release of the video, claiming it could result in a “rush to judgment” about the officer’s behavior, according to KPCC.

Or it could just let the public see what really happened. And realize that what sounded like a bad shoot by trigger happy cops, was.

It used to be that any cop who shot an unarmed person could expect to lose his or her job, at the very least. I once knew an officer, in another state, who freely admitted carrying a spare gun and a knife to drop by the victim if he ever shot someone who wasn’t armed.

And it used to be that fellow officers wanted bad cops off the force, because they made everyone else look bad and made the public lose faith in the officers charged with protecting them.

In fact, that officer was eventually fired, at the urging of his fellow officers.

Clearly, those days have changed.

So be careful riding through Gardena.

In other cities, getting stopped by the police could get you a ticket you might not deserve, from a cop who doesn’t understand bike law.

In Gardena, it could get you shot.

But it won’t get anyone fired.

Update: I was reminded this morning that Gardena is also where a group of Hispanic riders were illegally harassed by the police two years ago, while on their way to meet with the city manager to discuss the unsolved hit-and-run bike rider Benjamin Torres.

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Warning: The video below, posted online by the LA Times, shows the full shooting from two separate angles. Decide for yourself whether you really want to see that before pushing play.

LA County DA rules Gardena police were justified to shoot and kill the unarmed brother of a bike theft victim

Finally, we know what really happened.

Or not.

In July of 2013, two men were shot by Gardena police responding to the theft of a bicycle.

Except they didn’t kill a dangerous bike thief and wound his partner in crime.

The man they mistakenly killed was the brother of the man whose bike was stolen. He was just trying to tell the officers that the men they had stopped weren’t vicious thieves, but were actually helping to look for the missing bike.

Unfortunately, the three officers didn’t seem to understand Ricardo Diaz Zeferino’s Spanish, even though customers at a nearby restaurant could clearly make out what he was saying. And he didn’t seem to understand the cops commands to stop.

Now the DA’s office has ruled that they acted within the law in shooting the unarmed man eight times — including twice in the back.

The same with what they say was the unintentional shooting of his similarly innocent friend, who was also shot in the back.

The DA’s decision was based on dash cam video, which apparently captured the whole thing. It reportedly showed Diaz Zeferino reaching into his pockets to toss unidentified items to the ground, then taking off his baseball cap, despite orders to stop. The officers opened fire when he started to raise his hands again.

The cops couldn’t see his right hand, according to the Deputy DA who reviewed the video, and believed he was going to reach for a weapon.

A weapon that didn’t exist.

Not that that inconvenient fact seems to matter to anyone.

Not surprisingly, the attorneys for the victims reached a different conclusion, arguing that the video showed the police gave confusing orders, and that Diaz Zeferino’s right hand was empty and in front of his body when they opened fire. And that the other victim, Acevedo Mendez, was shot despite keeping his hands over his head the whole time.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know which version is true, since the Gardena Police Department has refused to make the video public.

Although they did allow the cops to view the video before making their statements so they could get their stories straight.

On the other hand, whatever the video showed, it was enough to convince the city of Gardena to settle a civil rights lawsuit over the shooting for $4.7 million. Not that any amount of money will do Diaz Zeferino a lot of good.

According to the DA’s report, the toxicology report showed he had meth and alcohol in his system. Which is no more relevant to the case than whether he was wearing a bike helmet.

The three officers who opened fire are still on active patrol duty nearly two years after the shooting; the department’s internal review over the shooting was on hold until the civil case was resolved, which happened earlier this week.

The outcome of that review is something else we’ll never know about; any disciplinary action will be confidential under California law.

This is the second time this year the DA has refused to prosecute cops who killed someone in a bike-related case. And the second time that disciplinary action, if any, will be a deep, dark secret known only to the officers involved.

So if your bike is ever stolen in Gardena, maybe you’re better off just letting it go. Those cops could still be out there, ready to shoot at the drop of a hat.

Literally.

And whatever happens, don’t count on the LA County DA’s office to do a damn thing about it.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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