Tag Archive for road rage

Morning Links: The battle over Santa Paula cop’s anti-bike video is over, but we may have lost the war

And then it was over.

Less than 36 hours after the flap over a bike hating Santa Paula reserve police officer blew up online and in her face, she found herself unemployed by the department.

Apparently her own choice, much to the displeasure of countless riders who were out for blood. And not in a mood for ritual career hari-kari.

I first became aware of the video in question when Bike Snob tweeted about it on Saturday morning.

Meet Laura Weintraub, horrible person, incompetent videographer, and utter moron: 

Like countless others, I watched in varying degrees of horror and outrage as she laughingly expressed her hatred of bikes, bicyclists and spandex, as well as her desire to run us all off or into the road.

After tweeting about it a few times myself, I made plans to express my own outrage on here. Only to discover the video had been taken down before I could get to it, leaving nothing to link to and no copy to repost.

Meanwhile, the proverbial defecation had hit the fan.

It didn’t take long for someone to discover that she worked as reserve officer for the Santa Paula PD, compounding the outrage that a uniformed cop would express such offensive thoughts in a cheap and badly failed attempt at humor.

Although cop is stretching it; someone sent me a link to a page showing Weintraub had made less than $100 working for the department in recent weeks.

Countless riders — and others who simply didn’t like the idea of killing or maiming innocent people for giggles — inundated Weintraub’s Facebook page, as well as the SPPD, with calls, emails and online comments.

She responded by removing the offensive video without comment, followed by what seemed like a sincere apology. Or at least, a damn good job of faking one.

I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists. It was never meant to be hurtful or harmful in anyway, I am a human being, I made a mistake, I have learned from this and ask for your forgiveness. The responses have shown me overwhelmingly just how hurtful my comments were to some and that is not at all what I intended. As soon as I knew, I removed the video immediately.

The response from the cycling community has made me aware of the sport and its safety issues and challenges with drivers on the road of which I was completely unaware. My heartfelt apologies to those that have been offended and to those who face these very real challenges.

Then again, you’d think any reasonably sentient being would get that calling for violence against anyone for the simple crime of riding a bike would likely be taken the wrong — or in this case, the right — way.

For some inexplicable reason, though, many drivers don’t seem the grasp the fact that people don’t just bounce back after being knocked down; what would be a simple fender bender if they hit another car could be catastrophic if they collided with a cyclist or pedestrian.

Although you’d certainly think a cop — even a lowly reserve officer — would grasp the damage motor vehicles can do in the wrong hands.

At the same time, we can only imagine Chief Steven McLean’s reaction, as whatever community relations he had managed to build up in his year on the job were seemingly undone in a single afternoon by someone who barely worked for him.

Once his head undoubtedly finished exploding, the long-time veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department responded by suspending Weintraub pending investigation. Along with another reserve officer who snarkily answered the criticism by complimenting her videos and suggesting cyclists need to obey the law.

At that point, the controversy appeared to be over. The video was down, the woman in question appeared to have learned her lesson, and the chief had done the right thing.

And then the media picked up the story, further fanning the justifiable outrage long after the fact, and leading to countless calls for Weintraub’s job, if not her head.

The final shoe dropped Sunday evening when Chief McLean posted on Facebook that he had accepted her resignation effective immediately — whether she volunteered it or he demanded it was left unstated.

So allow me to offer a contrary opinion.

I’m sorry to see her go.

Had she remained on the job — or even in limbo for awhile — we would have had a rare opportunity for a teachable moment.

If she truly got what she did wrong, and listened, as she said, to the many reasons why her attempt at humor wasn’t funny, she might have become more sympathetic to cyclists and a positive influence on her fellow officers. Or at the very least, unlikely to make a similar mistake a second time.

Not that she didn’t deserve to lose her job. But I’ve found that forgiveness is often more effective than vengeance in the long run.

Meanwhile, Santa Paula cyclists would have had a rare opportunity to demand a meeting with the chief and his officers to discuss the rights of riders and explain the risks we face in employing our legal and moral right to the road.

That door is probably closed now.

Chief McLean is likely to conclude that the matter has been concluded now that Weintraub is no longer a part of the department. And given the entirely justifiable vitriol dumped on him and his officers, he’s unlikely to open his door to our representatives anytime soon.

Which is not to say the anger wasn’t justified.

It was.

I was just as livid as anyone else when I viewed the video. However, we need to learn to direct that anger effectively, not just to get a young woman who did something incredibly stupid fired.

But to use it as an opportunity to build better relations with those charged with enforcing our rights. And achieve long-lasting changes that can and will improve safety and courtesy for everyone on the roads.

We won the battle.

But in doing so, we may have shot ourselves in the foot. And cost us an opportunity for dialogue that may not come again.

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about this story; there are simply far too many to thank each of you individually.

……..

Local

The media seems to be coming down on the other side of Gil Cedillo’s veto of the North Figueroa road diet — a veto that may or may not be legal.

Construction delays are keeping a new section of the LA River Greenway from opening.

The next LACBC Sunday Funday ride rolls through Lakewood on Sunday, August 3rd.

Neon Tommy looks at how bikes empower women.

 

State

New Seal Beach bike paths help close some of the final links in Orange County’s 66 mile OC Loop. Note to Press-Telegram: bike riders can actually ride anywhere they want in Downey, or anywhere else for that matter.

Caltrans will widen bike lanes through Chico to improve a dangerous section of roadway.

 

National

Google Maps now allows you to check elevations on your route, whether you want to seek out hills or avoid them.

Colorado Springs CO cyclists are tired of riding in the killing zone.

If you want to talk with the mayor of Fort Worth, you’d better get on your bike. Meanwhile, neighboring Dallas has a new bike czar.

New Orleans riders rally to demand safer streets.

 

International

A Montreal letter writer says cyclists aren’t a menace on the roads, comparing the one Canadian killed by a bike in 2010 with the 2,227 killed by cars. He’s got a point.

Indian army cyclists ride over 400 miles through the Himalayas, at altitudes up to 19,000 feet in an attempt to set a new record.

Talk about a good cause. A cyclist is planning to spend a full year riding across Ghana to meet 25,000 people and raise funds to provide shelter and healthcare for the county’s homeless street kids.

A young Kiwi rider overcomes diabetes to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

Cyclist deaths expose a culture clash on the congested streets of Sydney, Australia; thanks to New Colonist for the heads-up.

The best way to see Beijing is by bike.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Before you build that bike jump, put a little thought into how you’re going to land. A Dutch pro miraculously avoids death on both Malaysian Airlines disasters.

And a special thanks to Cycling in the Southbay’s Seth Davidson for his very kind words and high praise.

 

OC Sheriff threatens to victimize an Orange County cyclist a second time; road raging driver allowed to walk

Prepare to get mad.

Or maybe livid is a better word.

Just a day after a widely circulated open letter called on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to charge a truck driver who used his vehicle as a weapon to threaten a cyclist, the department recommended that charges be filed.

Against the victim.

According to the LA Times, Bryan Larsen was riding his bike on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point on May 31st when he captured video of a truck driver attempting to run him off the road before the passenger — who turned out to be the driver’s wife — hits him with a thrown Gatorade bottle; they then try to smoke him out as they took off.

Maybe she thought he looked thirsty.

Larsen was originally told that no charges could be filed because sheriff’s deputies did not actually witness the assault themselves.

Which is not true, of course.

Police are required to witness an event in order to file a traffic violation or misdemeanor charge; however, there’s no such requirement for felony charges. And using a large truck to intimidate a vulnerable road user should certainly qualify.

I’ve also been told by members of other departments that video footage can be used as evidence, as well as eye witness testimony. At the time, Larsen was riding with another cyclist who could verify everything seen on the video.

After the video went viral and was picked up by local news stations, the sheriff’s department reconsidered and conducted an investigation. Though based on the results, not much of one.

Even though the driver reportedly used his massive truck as a weapon to threaten the rider and attempt to force him off the road, they declined to charge him with anything. At all.

Instead, the Orange County Register reports they recommended that the OC District Attorney file an assault and battery charge against the driver’s wife.

And that charges be filed against the victim for apparently inciting the attack through his use of obscene language directed at the couple.

Charges are also being recommended against the bicyclist, he said, who is suspected of using “offensive words in public, likely to provoke a violent reaction.” Officials suspect the cyclist made “rude, disparaging comments” before the incident was recorded on his cellphone, (Lt. Jeff) Hallock said.

This, despite the fact the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive language and gestures are protected as free speech under the 1st Amendment. And even though Hallock makes it clear investigators are only assuming that Larson said something so offensive as to justify a violent attack with a deadly weapon.

As if anything could.

Would they still feel the driver was justified if he had pulled out a gun and started shooting at the cyclist? Legally, there’s no difference; only the choice of weapon used.

And never mind what actually precipitated the event. Unless Larsen suffers from a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome or mental illness that forced him to swear without any provocation, he was clearly responding to something the driver had done before the camera started recording.

What, we may never know, since the threat of criminal charges will now force him to remain silent. Which is probably the real intent.

Legally, there’s no valid case against him. So the question becomes, why is the OCSD trying so hard to intimidate the victim of a violent crime — while letting the primary perpetrator off scott-free?

And what does it say to every other bike rider south of the Orange Curtain when even video evidence isn’t good enough to get the authorities to give a damn about our safety — let alone threaten us for reporting it?

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her department are sending a clear message to everyone who travels by two wheels that we remain second-class citizens in her jurisdiction.

And if something bad happens on her watch, just keep your mouth shut about it.

Or else.

What to do when the road rages and bumpers bite — part 2

I thought I knew what to do if I was ever in a cycling collision.

I was wrong.

Yesterday I wrote about defusing a road rage incident, based on what I learned as a result of my own run in with a raging driver. A case in which I did just about everything wrong, costing me any chance of a settlement — as well as blowing any shot at a criminal prosecution.

Hopefully, it’s something you’ll never run into. But if you ever find yourself sprawled on the pavement looking up a looming bumper, maybe you can avoid making the same mistakes I did.

After all, it’s so much more fun to make your own.

Let the driver leave.

No, seriously. After knocking me to the pavement, the driver who hit me started to flee the scene. So I jumped up and blocked her from driving off until she finally turned off the engine and got out of the car.

Wrong move. Not only did I put myself at risk of getting hit a second time, it might have been better if she had run away. Police usually take a hit-and-run far more seriously than they do a mere traffic accident, even if you say it was road rage. Hopefully, any driver would have enough decency to stick around, but if not, just note the license number and get out of the way.

Don’t move anything until you have to.

First, make sure you’re out of traffic or that someone is directing cars around you. Then ignore the people who tell you to move it, and leave your bike exactly where it is. And try to keep the driver from moving his car, as well.

Both are now evidence, and the relative positions between them could help show what really happened. Move either one before the police tell you to, and you’ve eliminated a key part of the puzzle. Or at the very least, pull out your camera phone and take photos of everything before anyone moves anything. Trust me, you’ll need them once the lawyers get involved.

Shut the hell up.

This isn’t a bike ride anymore; it’s a legal case. Who was at fault has yet to be determined — and you are just as likely to be blamed as the driver who hit you, if not more. So remember that anything you say can, and probably will, be used against you.

In my case, I tried to attract attention and keep the driver from fleeing the scene by yelling that she’d tried to kill me. But someone told the police that I’d threatened to kill her, instead. As a result, they refused to give me her contact information — and threatened me with arrest if I tried.

So make sure everyone else is okay. Exchange information. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Listen closely if the driver or passengers say anything, and write it down if you can find a pen and paper. But keep your own lips zipped until it’s time to talk with the investigating officer.

You’re the victim. So act like it.

As soon as the driver got out of her car, she screamed that it was my fault for being in her way. So I found myself yelling back to defend myself against my attacker. Or at least, that’s how it felt from my perspective.

But as bystanders began to arrive, what they saw was a grown man yelling at a middle-aged woman — with no knowledge that she had just used her car as a weapon to run me down. So guess which one they felt sorry for?

I’m not suggesting that you lie or exaggerate. But how sympathetic you seem to the bystanders will determine whose side they’re on — and could influence what they tell the police.

Never refuse medical care

The fact is, you probably are hurt. But you may not know it yet, as the adrenalin and endorphins flooding your brain mask any pain.

So when the paramedics ask if you want to go to the hospital, the answer is always yes. The charges the driver may face will depend largely on the severity of your injuries, as will any future settlement you might receive. And the police will take the case more seriously if they know you’ve been injured.

I refused transportation to the hospital, so the official police report said I was uninjured. And that never changed, even after I was diagnosed with a broken arm and permanent vascular damage.

Be prepared for bias

As I waited for the police to arrive, I was surprised to hear bystanders, who had no idea what happened, say it was my fault because those aggressive, arrogant cyclists never obey the law.

But I was shocked to hear similar comments come from the supposedly impartial officer conducting the investigation. Even though I was stopped at a stop sign when she hit me, the driver claimed I’d run the stop sign and fell over while turning onto the cross street. The investigating officer said he believed her because “all you guys run stop signs.”

Expect to explain the evidence

The simple fact is, many, if not most, police officers don’t receive adequate training in investigating bike accidents. So chances are, they may miss or misinterpret key evidence proving who was really at fault.

In my case, the officers didn’t understand that it wasn’t possible to fall to my left while making a high-speed right turn, as the driver had claimed. And they didn’t grasp that the imprint of the chainwheel on my calf could only have occurred if my foot was firmly planted on the ground at the time of impact. So be prepared to walk them through the evidence. But don’t be surprised if they don’t believe you.

Don’t take no for an answer

This was probably the biggest mistake I made. After conducting their investigation, the lead officer said it was a “he said, she said” situation, and let the driver go without a ticket or charges — then tried to intimidate me by saying I could be charged with filing a false police report if I continued to argue with their decision.

It worked.

So I settled for an incomplete and inconclusive police report that virtually eliminated any chance of justice, financial or otherwise. What I should have done — and what you should do in a similar situation — was insist on talking to a supervisor and demanding a fair and unbiased examination of the evidence.

And if you still don’t get satisfaction, call the station and ask to talk to the watch commander.

Maybe if enough of us do, things will start to change.

Update: The LAPD now has four bike liaisons representing each of the four Traffic Divisions. You can find their email addresses — which is the best way to contact them — on the Resources page.

One more bit of advice.

Since my road rage incident, I’ve taken to wearing a helmet cam and recoding all the time I spend riding in traffic. It may look silly, and it may be awkward and inconvenient, but it’s your best way to prove what really happened in any traffic situation.

If nothing else, you’ll end up with lots of stupid driver tricks to post on YouTube.

 

What to do when the road rages and bumpers bite — part 1

I’m going to do something today I usually try very hard not to do.

Repeat myself.

But lately, I’ve heard and seen a lot of reports about conflicts between bike riders and road raging drivers, and sometimes, riders taking out their frustrations on motorists, deserving or not. 

A few years back, I offered my own advice on the subject, as well as advice on what to do if you’re the victim of a collision, based strictly on my own personal experience. 

The advice still stands. But unless you’ve been following this site from the beginning, chances are, you may not have seen it before. 

And even if you have, a refresher might be in order to help keep you safe on the roads, and protect your interests if the worst ever happens.

……..

“Boy, boy, crazy boy, get cool boy! Got a rocket in your pocket, keep coolly cool boy!”

— Cool, from West Side Story

On a good day, nothing beats a good ride.

Days when the sun is shining and traffic effortlessly parts to let you glide by. And you find yourself offering a nod and a wave to express your gratitude for the courtesy of others on the road.

And there are the other days.

Days when traffic snarls and tempers flare. When horns become curses and cars are brandished like threats.

In most cases, that’s as far as it goes.

But when steel and glass impact flesh and bone — intentionally or otherwise — how you respond in the first few minutes before and after can go a long way in determining whether you finish your ride. Or whether you have a case.

I was the victim of a road rage attack a few years back, and in retrospect, I did almost everything wrong. Over the next couple days, I’d like to share some of the painful lessons I learned so you’ll know what to do if, God forbid, it ever happens to you.

Maybe you’ll be smarter than I was and find a way out that doesn’t pass through the emergency room. Or lose your case before it starts.

Let’s start with those precious few minutes before the impact, when there’s still time to de-escalate and find an exit strategy — or at least find a way to protect yourself and your legal rights.

Ride courteously

Let’s face it. There are hotheads on the road. A driver might be mad because he had a fight with his significant other. Maybe he’s an aggressive driver who doesn’t want to share the road. Or maybe he — or in this case, she — is just a bike-hating jerk. How you react to them can go a long way in determining whether that anger gets directed towards you. So always ride courteously. And if you see signs that a driver may be angry or acting in an aggressive manner, try to give them a very wide berth.

Ride legally

I won’t to tell you how to ride. But I will make one simple point: As Bob Mionske observed, whether or not you obey traffic laws could determine whether you have a legal case in the event of a collision or road rage incident. Simply put, if you run a stop sign or red light, or fail to signal a turn or lane change, chances are, you will be found at least partially at fault regardless of what the driver may have done.

And not just during the incident; police and lawyers will look for anyone who may have seen you riding in the miles and weeks leading up to the incident. So the red light you blew through half an hour before, or even last week, may be used to show that you probably didn’t stop at the stop sign when you got hit — even if, as in my case, the physical evidence shows you did. It may not be fair, but that’s the world we live in.

Keep your fingers to yourself

It’s a bad habit, one I’ve struggled to break with limited success. Unlike drivers, we don’t have horns to express our fear and anger, so it only seems natural to flip off someone who’s just cut you off or threatened your safety in some way. The problem is, it doesn’t work. I’ve never seen anyone respond to a rude gesture with an apology; instead, it only escalates the situation. At best, they may ignore you or respond in kind; at worst, it gives an angry driver a reason to retaliate.

And never, ever flip off a driver behind you.

Let dangerous drivers pass

You have a right to the road, no less than anyone with a motor and four wheels. And you have every right to take the lane when the situation warrants it; drivers are legally required to follow or pass safely. But just because it’s the law doesn’t mean that’s what they’re going to do. So the question becomes whether it’s better to stay where you are and fight for your right to the road, or pull over and let the driver — and the situation — pass.

Before my road rage incident, I would have stayed right where I was and held the lane. But I’ve learned the hard way that cars are bigger than I am, and they hurt. So when you find an angry driver on your ass, pull over and let the jerk pass. Then take down the license number, pull out your cell phone and call the police.

Snap a photo

Your camera phone may be one of the most important safety tools you own; I keep mine within easy reach in a Topeak case attached just behind my handlebars. When tempers flare, simply pull it out and snap a photo of the other person, as well as the license of their vehicle. Instantly, you’ve established a record of the incident and documented the identity of the driver — destroying the sense of anonymity that allows most violent acts to occur.

I’ve used mine on a number of occasions. And in every case, the driver has backed down and driven away.

Next: What to do after a collision

 

Morning Links: BOLO for dangerous San Fernando Valley driver and disappearing Bike Plan bikeways

An impatient Ford truck driver allegedly ran over a cyclist at Winnetka and Roscoe last Saturday morning, after honking and telling the rider to get out of his way so he could make a right. He then backed up and fled the scene.

A photo included in the report clearly shows the license number of the truck; no word on whether the rider was injured or if incident has been reported to the police.

If not, it should be.

Update: Frequent contributor Micheal Eisenberg reports seeing two apparently uninjured riders talking to a police officer at Roscoe and Winnetka as he rode by Saturday morning.

……..

LA’s city council-approved 2010 bike plan has been incorporated into the draft Mobility Plan 2035. Except, apparently, the parts that haven’t. Could this mark the return of the much maligned — and deservedly so — “Currently Infeasible” category from the original draft bike plan?

Meanwhile, City Planning is hosting a webinar Thursday evening to discuss year two of the bike plan; maybe you can ask them where the missing miles went.

……..

Local

The rebranded Gran Fondo Italia has dumped the Beverly Hills edition.

Joe Anthony captures a hyper drive nighttime ride through the streets of LA on his bike cam.

Make your plans for Thursday night, when a Treats and Beats ride will be held to celebrate the opening of a new Huntington Park bike parklet.

Monterey Park and BikeSGV host a free, family friendly community bike ride for Earth Day. Meanwhile, the very busy BikeSGV hosts an Open House Bike Social to kickoff Bike Month.

Five Azusa Pacific students are biking from Seattle to New York to raise funds for clean water.

 

State

Streetsblog updates transportation bills before the state legislature, including a proposed vulnerable user law and a rapidly sinking bike tax.

Orange County officials host a workshop on bike safety following recent bicycling deaths; that should be the response to every bike and pedestrian fatality, anywhere.

Cross champion Tim Johnson bridges the gap between racing and advocacy.

In advance of Bike to Work Day, the no sweat way to bike to work.

San Francisco commits to 24 Vision Zero projects to eliminate bike and pedestrian deaths.

A Chico State student sees the thief ride by as she’s reporting her stolen bike to the police.

 

National

A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center looks at the whack jobs people and groups behind the anti-Agenda 21 conspiracy theories and the damage they do.

Bob Mionske discusses what to do when you’re not the slowest vehicle on the road; California also allows cyclists to pass on the right.

Is the Internet threatening the iconic bike-riding Mormon missionaries?

A Seattle bike shop owner is charged with running a chop shop to fence stolen bikes. Schmuck.

Yes, says a writer from my hometown, drivers have a responsibility to keep cyclists safe.

American bicycling may have been born in Newton Mass.

Needless to say, the alleged jackass who killed a triathlete in New Orleans over the weekend blames the victims for swerving into his path; physical evidence and witness testimony suggest he plowed into them instead of changing lanes to go around — while driving with a suspended license, no less.

 

International

London will cut speed limits to 20 mph in the central city in a bid to save lives.

Anti-bike saboteurs have struck once again, strewing nails in the path of riders participating in a UK sportive. Crap like this is a crime, not at prank; a sudden flat could cause a rider to fall, leading to potentially catastrophic injuries.

A bike-centric service was held for the world’s fastest bike-riding police officer, killed in a British velodrome accident last month.

While Brit bike commuting is on the upswing, it’s dropped over a quarter in the Cotswolds.

Velonews wraps up Sunday’s unpredictable Paris-Roubaix.

After running down a bike rider while texting, an Aussie driver complains to police about the damage the rider caused to her car, and says she doesn’t believe texting while driving could cause a collision with a cyclist, even though she swears she wasn’t. Nice.

 

Finally…

Your next text could be from your bike. Telling you it’s been stolen.

And Major Taylor’s 101-year old track bike could be yours for just $20,000; why isn’t this in a museum already? Seriously, if you don’t know who Major Taylor was by now, you should.

A happy and blessed Pesach to all who observe it!

No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

Breaking news — bike rider physically assaulted by motorist in West LA

I’ve received an eye witness report of a bike rider being physically attacked by a motorist this afternoon.

According the report, forwarded to me by attorney David Huntsman, a woman was driving north on Westwood Blvd when she saw another driver get out of his car and attack the rider on the southeast corner of Westwood and Olympic just after noon today. As she described it, the driver came at the rider flailing his arms, while the cyclist yelled at his attacker.

The woman said other people appeared to be calling 911 to report the attack.

Let’s be very clear.

No matter what took place between the two parties to cause the conflict, the motorist committed a crime by striking the rider — as one cop explained to me in a similar case, the driver was at fault as soon as he left his vehicle. He can, and should, be prosecuted if he and his victim can be identified.

This is also would appear to be a perfect case for LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows bicyclists to sue motorists or others who threaten or attack them while riding. The ordinance allows victims to collect three times actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher; it also allows for the payment of full legal fees to encourage lawyers to take a case that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem with the ordinance has always been that it can be difficult to gather the witnesses or other evidence necessary to prove the case. But in this case, it took place in front of multiple witnesses, at least one of whom has already come forward.

If anyone has more information — or if you were the rider involved — contact me; you can find me email address on the About page.

And let’s not forget that this is exactly where an innovative floating bike lane was proposed to reduce or eliminate conflicts between cyclists and drivers — without the loss of a single traffic lane or parking spot.

Yet the lane was vetoed by Westside City Councilmember Paul Koretz at the urging of wealthy homeowners, even though it would have zero negative impact on the Boulevard and the surrounding area.

And would move cyclists out of the way of impatient, and too often, angry drivers, helping to avoid incidents like this.

Last night’s ride, in which I flip off an impatient driver

In retrospect, I should have been further out into the lane.

Instead, I tried to be polite and let cars move up next to me, not anticipating that one incredibly impatient driver would deliberately right hook me.

She couldn’t wait two seconds — literally — for the light to change. And it was worth it to her to risk the life of a total stranger because I didn’t get the hell out of her way.

I don’t recommend flipping off anyone.

But this one earned it.

If I’d gone when the light turned green, I’d be in the hospital right now.

Or worse.

Valley bike rider says he was threatened by road raging Metro bus driver

A San Fernando Valley bike rider reports being harassed by a Metro bus driver earlier this week.

The rider, whose name I’m withholding, was riding on westbound Burbank Blvd around 9:30 am Monday when he made a box turn onto southbound Valley Circle Blvd, first crossing Valley Circle, then waiting at the light to cross Burbank.

As he was crossing Burbank, the driver of a Metro Bus, which had also been waiting at the red light on Valley Circle, came up behind him and began honking. The driver continued honking as he pulled up within a few feet of his bike, illegally driving in the bike lane behind him for at least another 100 yards.

The rider says he pulled as far as he could to the right curb, leaving the bike lane in an effort to get out of the way of the threatening driver. The bus finally pulled into the traffic lane and went around him, continuing to honk until it had passed.

Despite being shaken up, he was able to get the route number of the bus — 645 — but not the number of the bus itself.

But it wasn’t over yet.

About a half block later, the bus pulled into the bike lane next to the parked cars to let some passengers off. The rider was about 200 yards behind the bus when he saw the doors close, but the bus didn’t move.

Not knowing how long the bus was going to sit there, he started to pass it on the left. But as soon as he approached the bus, the driver cut sharply left, in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to cut him off.

He’s filed a complaint with the police, as well as with Metro itself.

But without video or eyewitness testimony, there’s not likely to be much the police can do, unless they get the video off the bus itself. And then only if it clearly shows the driver acting in a dangerous or threatening manner.

Meanwhile, Metro considers complaints against their drivers private personnel matters, which means he’s unlikely to ever know if any action was taken against the driver internally. Or if they even took his complaint seriously.

This could make a good case under the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, but the bicyclist says he’s not interested in monetary damages. And besides, without witnesses or other evidence, it would be virtually impossible to make a case unless he could get the video from the bus, which would require a subpoena from a lawyer.

Unless someone who saw the events unfold on Monday — such as a passing motorist or pedestrian, or a passenger on the bus — sees this and happens to step forward.

Stranger things have happened.

But at the very least, this incident is now on record with the police. So if the driver does something like this again they will be able to use his complaint to establish a pattern of behavior.

And maybe get this bus driving jerk off the road before he kills someone.

………

The Times says Wilshire Blvd is no place for bikes, especially in Westwood; surprisingly, all the comments — so far, at least — have been pro bike.

Of course, what the paper fails to consider is that most of Wilshire is scheduled to get a shared bus/bike only lane. Except, of course, the section through the high-priced condos of Westwood where it is most needed.

And the reason cyclists dare the dangerous stretch of the boulevard beneath the 405 between Federal and Westwood is that they are prohibited from riding through the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which would provide the safest and most direct route from Westwood and UCLA to Brentwood and points west.

Until that changes, nothing else is likely to, either.

………

Matthew Gomez reports encountering preliminary markings for new bike lanes in East Pasadena, on California Blvd between Rosemead and Michilinda.

………

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton says Mayor Eric Garcetti needs to slay the zombie projects before he can be the mayor we voted for. Metro wants your help to update their bikeway map, while the next meeting of the Metro Bicycle Roundtable is scheduled for Tuesday, November 5th from 5:30 to 7 pm. Not exactly bike related, but LA is finally going to consider moving its election date so more people might actually cast a vote for a change. Flying Pigeon considers the success of Portland’s bike corrals. Cyclelicious looks at LA bike advocate Nona Varnado and the LA bike trains. The Bird Wheel tests noseless bike saddles to protect delicate parts. Why bike parking could outnumber car spaces in some new — and not so new — developments. Hollywood races to get competing Lance Armstrong biopics on the screen; maybe they can film the finale on Spring Street now that the green lanes they love to hate are gone forever.

There will be a fundraiser next Sunday, as well as a Saturday bake sale, for fallen bike rider Angel Gonzalez; the 15-year old cyclist was killed in a collision with a Metrolink train last week. San Diego cyclist sues the city, county and state over inadequate bicycling facilities. Central Coast cyclists aren’t sold on Caltrans efforts to fix chip sealing on Highway 1. Menlo Park is the latest Bay Area town to consider an LA-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

Will a rapping puppet, not puppy, dog get you to wear a helmet? A new smart wheel provides battery powered pedal assist, offering speeds of 20 mph for up to 30 miles. The Christian Science Monitor takes up the debate over use of the word cyclist; you can guess where I, a cyclist of long standing, stand on the matter. Bike lane rage erupts in Portland. The recent Colorado flooding means Boulder may not host a leg of next year’s Pro Challenge. It was a bad day for bike riders in my hometown. It takes a real jerk to steal a legally blind Colorado boy’s custom made bike a second time. Chicago Streetsblog says the city has a speeding epidemic; actually, pretty much every city does these days. Chicago’s mayor caught riding sans-helmet. The good news is, this innovative Memphis bike lane is being partially paid for by crowdsourcing; the bad news is that it has to be. Charts show New York’s Citi Bike program is taking over the city; now that’s what I call a healthy growth curve. A well-spent 14 minutes watching NYDOT’s Janette Sadik-Khan’s TED talk. Gotham’s Guardian Angels are patrolling three of the city’s parks following attacks on bike riders. Sharrows come to Waynesville NC. Turning a crunched classic frame into a new folding bike.

Why do cyclists shave their legs; I do it for the third reason, myself, having learned my painful lesson the hard way. Interactive map shows where London cyclists outnumber motorists. Groningen shows how bicycles can rule a city. In a chain reaction collision, an Aussie driver rubs his eyes, veers off course and hits a light pole, which falls on a cyclist, fatally throwing him onto the hood of the driver’s SUV. WaPo looks at the Kolkata — nee Calcutta — bike ban.

Finally, repeat after me. When you’re riding your bike through London carrying a concealed switchblade, marijuana and traces of meth, stop for the bloody red light, already.

Road raging driver mows down cyclist in Palos Verdes

The bike is dead. Fortunately, its rider isn’t.

The Daily Breeze is reporting that a road raging driver deliberately ran down a bicyclist before slamming into a series of cars.

According to the paper, Palos Verdes Estates resident Doug Castile was riding on Via Pacheco around 6:30 pm when he was Jerry Browned by a driver who sideswiped him, then backed up and hit him again when he complained.

Castile said he yelled, “Hey, you just hit me!” The driver of the black car then put it in reverse, backed up behind the bicyclist, pulled forward and pushed the bicyclist into the plants.

“The guy put it in reverse again, backed up, and ran over my bike,” Castile said. “At that point, my feet are clipped in the pedals on my bike. I unclipped my feet and jumped off the bike into the plants and he’s running over my bicycle back and forth.”

The driver, who wasn’t identified in the story, reacted bizarrely when Castile reached reached into his pocket for his cell phone.

“He says, ‘What are you reaching for, a gun?’ It just was so odd to hear that statement. I took my hand out of my pocket. I thought this guy is capable of anything,” Castile said.

At that point, the driver sped off, slamming into an unknown number of parked and moving vehicle before his car finally became disabled on Ganado Drive and Sheriff’s deputies made an arrest.

Castile was able to escape with scrapes, while his $3,000 to $4,000 bike was destroyed.

The paper says police were unsure whether the driver was suffering from a mental condition or committed a deliberate assault.

Unfortunately, anyone can buy a car and get a license, regardless of mental or emotional stability. And in the wrong hands, it can become a weapon.

As we have seen too many times before.

Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

Update: The Daily Breeze identifies the driver as 65-year old William Thomas Kelly of Torrance. He’s being held on $30,000 bond on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon; hopefully, more charges — and a much higher bail — will follow soon. 

It’s also worth noting that deputies found Kelly unconscious in his car after it rammed the gates to an FAA facility, which could lead to federal charges. According to the paper, officer’s smelled alcohol on his breath when he was taken into custody — which could make this the fourth time he’s charged with DUI since 1991.

And yet he was still allowed behind the wheel to threaten the lives and safety of others.

%d bloggers like this: