Tag Archive for Richard Lauwers

Urgent action needed on Expo bikeway and Beverly Hills; more breaking news on the legal front

Big news on the legal front to start your week.

Along with a call for urgent action on the Expo Bikeway, and to fight hit-and-run in the seemingly heartless biking black hole of Beverly Hills.

As well as your chance to be an ambassador for bicycling in your own neighborhood.


Let’s start with the long-awaited Expo Line bikeway, which appears to be rapidly turning into a train wreck for Westside cyclists.

Expo Bicycle Advisory Committee member Damien Newton offers a detailed background on just how and why the plan is riding off the rails. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about the safety of cyclists on our streets.

Which is where cyclists will end up when the planned bikeway forces them onto dangerous crossings. Or when they avoid the bikeway entirely because they feel safer on busy high-speed streets than on a badly designed, rushed and corner-cutting bikeway.

Fortunately, you still have a chance to put your foot down and demand the Expo Line Authority start listening to the BAC they appointed, rather dictating bad design from above.

The LACBC is calling for concerned cyclists — and yes, you should be very concerned — to attend the next Expo BAC meeting at 8 am tomorrow at the Skanska-Rados Joint Venture Field Office, on the 3rd floor at 11390 W. Olympic Blvd.

If you can’t make it, they — and I — urge you to email the list of Expo Directors on their website today to demand a safer bikeway from Downtown to Santa Monica. They also provide a sample email you can use as a template.

It will only take you a few minutes to write and send an email.

And the bikeway you save could be your own.


Meanwhile, Don Ward, aka Roadblock, calls on cyclists to attend the next Beverly Hills City Council session on Thursday to demand an end to their local — and hopefully unofficial —policy of letting hit-and-run drivers off the hook without even the slap on the wrist they get in most jurisdictions.

Ward points out a recent case in which a cyclist was severely injured, and the driver actually came forward to confess. Yet the case was so badly bungled by local authorities that no charges were ever filed.

According to Beverly Hills PD a break came the next day when the alleged driver, Victoria Chin, phoned in to confess her crime. Detectives arranged for her to turn herself in that day. They requested she bring the car in as well. This is where things apparently got complicated for the Beverly Hills Detectives. After flaking on her first appointment, Chin showed up the following day along with a lawyer but without her car. Beverly Hills Detectives acknowledge that they failed to process her confession and they sent her home without booking or arresting her.

Months later, citing issues not fully understood, the case was declined by District Attorney Steven Katz. Katz claims that since there was no car in custody, and the woman confessed on the phone and not in person, there was not enough evidence to move forward with a case. Questions arise of whether this is an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern of Beverly Hills apathy towards cyclists… Paul was not the first hit and run victim in recent memory to be denied justice by the city.


Brett Morin, the other driver charged in the road racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, has accepted a peal deal. He’s scheduled for sentencing on October 3rd; considering the gift of a sentence given the driver who actually killed Alvarado, don’t expect more than a slightly harsh caress of the wrist.


Our anonymous Orange County source reports that we finally have convictions in the case of two allegedly drunk Huntington Beach speed racers who flew off the road, critically injuring a cyclist riding on the beachfront bike path.

Yes, even separated bikeways aren’t safe from speed-crazed Southern California drivers.

And yes, both have once again gotten off with a relative slap on the wrist — even if one appears to be a tough sentence for that particular judge.

Which says far more about our SoCal court system than we should be willing to tolerate.

Glenn Michael Moore & Michael Dennis Roach are the scumbags who were skunk drunk at half past eight on a Sunday morning and racing each other down PCH (can’t be late for church!!!) when they clipped each other.  Both speeding vehicles flew down an embankment.  Moore’s car slammed into Richard Lauwers as he rode his bike on the completely segregated beach bike path.  The next speeding vehicle on PCH was the responding ambulance.

Lauwers was having a nice quiet ride after a leisurely weekend breakfast at our famous Sugar Shack.  He would’ve been home in another twenty minutes.  Instead he ended up in the ICU, where he spent six days.

On Wednesday, Moore pleaded guilty to all counts against him.  He was sentenced to fines & restitution, one year in jail (stayed), three years of formal probation, and a  “First Offender Alcohol Program.”  Oh, and his license was suspended for a year.  I can’t figure this one out, because I’m working with insufficient data here.  IF Moore was before Judge Adams, who generally presides over that particular courtroom and is lenient, AND had a good lawyer (and by all accounts his lawyer is very good), AND he doesn’t have an extensive rap sheet (he’s pretty clean in OC at least), then this is a surprisingly tough sentence.  It’s still insufficient, but it’s certainly on par for Judge Adams and our overtaxed justice system in general.

Meanwhile, Michael Dennis Roach appears to have three separate sentences for the single count of engaging in a speed contest with injuries to another: two sentences for 90 days in jail, and a third for 90 days of service in lieu thereof.  Also, three years of formal probation as well.  Dunno what this is about, but there’ll be further proceedings on the 28th. Also, the OCDA unearthed a DUI with property damage that Roach had committed in November 2001 (while driving on a suspended license, but never mind that); a second DUI within 10 years could have resulted in a stiffer sentence, but oddly, his DUI charge and its enhancement were dismissed.

Did I ever mention that I have a real problem with drivers who put everyone else at risk because they can’t keep their damn feet off the accelerator — let alone get behind the wheel when they’re drunk or stoned?

The good news is that Lauwers is okay, and back on his bike.


The LACBC is offering a way to become more active as a bicycling advocate in your own neighborhood. And make a real difference where you live and ride.

The new Neighborhood Bike Ambassador program is designed to empower you to influence the implementation of the L.A. bike plan, as well as programs developed by the LACBC.

The first kick-off meeting takes place tonight in the Valley, followed by four others throughout the L.A. area over the next 10 days. The meetings — and the program itself — are open to everyone; you can sign up to be a Bike Ambassador here.


Finally, a few other brief notes from the world of bicycling.

In a truly shocking case, a Santa Rosa driver takes his road rage off road, chasing a cyclist 100 yards onto a golf course before running him down with his car. The good news is, an arrest has been made; the bad news is, the 81-year old driver has done it at least twice before. And was still allowed to drive.

Thanks to Emily C for the heads-up.


The schmuck who kidnapped and murdered Louisiana cyclist Mickey Shunick pleads guilty to first degree murder in her death, as well as that of another woman. Hopefully they’ll shove him so deep into the living hell that is Louisiana’s Angola Prison that he’ll never see the light of day again.


Police may have solved the recent rash of Calnago thefts. The Orange County Bicycle Coalition reports hat two stolen Calnagos have been recovered when they were abondoned by the thieves outside an OC Dennys, and a third was recovered in a West Hollywood pawn shop through stolenbikeregistry.com.

No word yet on arrests in the case.

The L.A. Times offers a nice profile of Cypress Park’s Flying Pigeon bike shop and the eponymous Chinese bikes they love and sell.


And a PA cyclist moons a couple in a passing car, then threatens them with his bike seat before crashing into a police cruiser.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

The charges fit the crime — OC authorities re-file in alleged DUI speed racing collateral damage case

Most times, we’re just happy when charges are filed against a driver for killing or injuring a cyclist.

Any charges.

No matter slight, because it beats the all too frequent alternative in which dangerous motorists drive off to do it again, without even a bruise on their wrists.

Which makes it very surprising when the DA not only files charges, but actually re-files to bring enhanced charges — and stiffer penalties — against a driver in a criminal case.

But that’s exactly what happened in the case of Michael Roach, accused of contributing to the crash that critically injured Huntington Beach cyclist Richard Lauwers last January.

Lauwers was riding home on a beachfront bike path when he became collateral damage in a street racing collision between 57-year old Glenn Michael Moore and 36-year old Michael Roach.

In other words, two men old enough to know better.

Thankfully, Lauwers survived, if barely.

In fact, he’s reported to have recovered from his injuries, and resumed riding his bike around his hometown.

An anonymous source reports on the enhanced charges against Roach. And notes that it wasn’t his first offense.

Michael Dennis (“Speed Racer”) Roach was previously charged with a single violation of 23109 (engaging in a speed contest) in the January incident that put cyclist Richard Lauwers in critical care for six days.

That charge has been dropped. The case has been refiled with different charges. The new charges are 23109.1 (DUI with injury) along with an enhancement of inflicting great bodily harm, and 23109.1 (engaging in a speed contest, with injuries to another). Roach has pled not guilty to both and posted $50,000 bond.

It gets more curious.

Ten years ago, he was arrested and charged with four separate misdemeanors in that case:

  • 23152(a)…….DUI
  • 23152(b)…….DUI with a BAC of .08% or greater
  • 20002(a)…….Hit & run with property damage
  • 14601.1(a)….Driving on a suspended license

He pled not guilty to 23152(a), and that charge was dismissed. For the others, he was sentenced to a total of 50 days in jail and three years of informal probation, and his license was restricted for 90 days. He then violated his probation (I dunno for what), and earned another fun 30 days in jail. His probation was reinstated, and during this time, he was also cited for speeding and failure to show proof of registration, in separate instances, although neither seems to have affected his probation. His history of recklessness probably has something to do with the new, improved charges.

Meanwhile, fellow speed demon Moore — the driver whose car actually collided with Lauwers — faces a misdemeanor count of engaging in a speed contest, as well as felony counts of DUI causing great bodily injury and DUI with a blood alcohol content over .08%.

In other words, both were blasted at 8 am on a Sunday morning.

And nearly killed another human being because they were too drunk — or too stupid — to keep their damn feet off the accelerator pedal.


The same source reports that Joseph Fernandez is finally behind bars for the death of Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman.

Also, Joseph Fernandez, who slaughtered Jim Swarzman as his fiancé watched, is currently behind bars at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County. I tried to confirm the length of his sentence yesterday (Columbus Day?), but the courthouse was closed. Still, it’s comforting to know he’ll be off the streets for a while.

Victims and driver identified in San Diego bike path collision; speed may have been a factor

One was a 40-year old father of two small children; the other is a 51-year old father of a college age son. One was an executive with a bioenergy company; the other is president and CEO of the YMCA in San Diego County.

One was a bike commuter on his way home; the other an avid triathlete who rides several times a week.

Both are married; neither one knew the other.

Yet yesterday, both men were the victims of a possibly speeding driver who lost control of her SUV and ended up flipping over on the bike path they were riding on.

Now bioenergy executive Nick Venuto of Poway is dead, while YMCA CEO Baron Hederlin-Doherty is in stable condition, his body shattered with broken hips, ribs and arms, according to the North County Times.

The San Diego Union Tribune’s SignOnSanDiego reports that 27-year old Sheena Saranita was driving her Ford Escape at an estimated 65 – 80 mph when she attempted to change lanes. She overreacted after seeing a vehicle in the right lane and went off the road, climbing the 15-foot embankment, blowing through a chainlink fence and flipping over onto the bike path; her SUV landed on its side, hitting both riders in the process.

Police don’t think drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision; no word on whether Saranita may have been texting or otherwise distracted behind the wheel. However, the nature of the collision would suggest that either excess speed or some sort of distraction could have been a factor.

According to the Union Tribune,

Dr. Dave Chotiner, a dentist from Carmel Valley, witnessed the accident and was the first to render aid. He said Venuto, who appeared to have been hit first, died within minutes. Herdelin-Doherty was lying on his back about 40 feet behind Venuto.

He said Saranita was out of her SUV near Venuto and was yelling hysterically, “you have to help him.”

Both papers feel compelled to report that the riders were each wearing helmets, despite the fact that bike helmets can’t, and were never intended to, protect against a multi-ton vehicle travelling at highway speeds.

And as Hederlin-Doherty’s injuries make clear, helmets can do absolutely nothing to protect against injuries to any other part of the body.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m a firm believer in wearing a helmet every time I ride. But in a collision like this, they would have been of little, if any benefit.

And whether or not the victims were wearing them is truly irrelevant in this case.

My heart and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones of Nick Venuto, and best wishes to Baron Hederlin-Doherty for a full and fast recovery.


On a related subject, I’ve received word from a source who doesn’t wish to be identified that cyclist Richard Lauwers is doing very well, back on his bike and is now a firm believer in the power or prayer. As you may recall, Lauwers was critically injured last January when a driver went off the road and hit him while he was riding on the Huntington Beach Bike Path; the driver, Glen M. Moore of Newport Beach, was allegedly intoxicated and racing a BMW driven by Michael D. Roach.

And a memorial will be held this Sunday for Nick Haverland, the 20-year old Ventura College student killed last month in an allegedly drunken roadway rampage. Driver Satnam Singh was reportedly  involved in three separate collisions in a matter of minutes, injuring five other people.

Update: Jim Lyle forwards some good news about Adam Rybicki, the cyclist critically injured when he was hit by an underaged, allegedly drunk driver in Torrance in April. While he has been unable to respond to verbal commands, he is now moving his hands and responding to commands and questions written on whiteboard. Clearly, he faces a long road back, but this is the first news that offers real hope for his recovery.

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