Tag Archive for violence against bicyclists

Metro supports your right to the road, PCH cyclist beaten in Malibu, $25k reward for hit-and-run driver

I like it.

Metro is introducing a new bike safety campaign leading up to May’s bike week. One that may finally convince at least some drivers that we’re not confined to a tiny strip of roadway next to the gutter.

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I hope they show this to law enforcement agencies, too.

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A cyclist riding with his wife on PCH in Malibu last month was severely beaten by two men after recording an argument with another rider on his cell phone.

The two men, described as Persian or Middle Eastern in their 40s or 50s, were in a black two-door Bentley without permanent license plates. After they noticed the man recording their argument with the cyclist, they got out and demanded his phone, then punched and kicked him, and took his phone after knocking him to the ground, before driving south on PCH.

The victim suffered a concussion in the assault.

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Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge joins with the CHP to offer a $25,000 reward to find the hit-and-run driver who critically injured cyclist Damian Kevitt by dragging him nearly a quarter mile onto the 5-Freeway near the L.A. Zoo.

Meanwhile, Cal Poly Pomona professor Boyonabike offers his thoughts on the tragic death of cyclist Ivan Aguilar on campus last Thursday; a highly recommended though heartbreaking read.

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Bike scribe Padraig of Red Kite Prayer could use a few prayers and/or good thoughts for a new baby who’s not out of the woods yet.

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The 13th Annual Nation Bike Summit kicked off in Washington DC on Monday with the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, which heard inspiring words from freshman Congresswoman, double war amputee and cyclist Tammy Duckworth. How to diversify bicycling in three easy steps. And Frank Peters of cdmCyclist provides photos from the first day.

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For anyone interested in somewhat colder pursuits, my Iditarod veteran brother is offering his insights into this year’s dog sled race.

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Traffic planning star and L.A. native Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the New York Department of Transportation, spoke at the UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs Complete Streets Initiative last week, and rocked the house as usual; I’m told she got a standing ovation at the Bike Summit, too. Streetsblog offers a guide to today’s city council election. New bike lanes on Vermont are a small step forward. Los Angeles Cycle Chic looks at a CicLAvia wedding. Better Bike reminds those who live in the Biking Black Hole to vote today if you ever want to see improvement in the city; the new Request for Proposals to remake Santa Monica Blvd through Beverly Hills doesn’t look promising. A Santa Monica woman is charged in the hit-and-run death of a tow truck driver on PCH in Malibu last month. Santa Monica Spoke wants your help to deliver Meals on Wheels by bike later this month. Walk Bike Glendale gets that city’s city council candidates on the record for their stands on, yes, walking and biking.

Cyclelicious looks at the bicycling bills under consideration during the current legislative session — including one disastrous proposed law that would remove government liability for any injuries that occur as a result of bad bike lane design or maintenance. Whittier approves a new bike plan focused on improving safety. San Diego considers a bike safety resolution, even as local advocates express their disappointment; Bike SD calls on local riders to attend Tuesday’s council session as a result. North San Diego County drivers will get a wider freeway, while cyclists will get two new bikeways, including a 27-mile pathway along the coast. Temecula will update its trails and bikeways master plan. A Texas attorney dies after jumping into the chilly San Francisco Bay during the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. After a Marin County cyclist collapses while riding, a sheriff’s deputy uses a portable defibrillator to save his life.

USA Cycling celebrates Major Taylor, America’s first cycling hero, who broke the color barrier over a hundred years ago. Oregon’s largest newspaper starts a new bicycling blog written by their riding reporters. Portland businesses seek out bike front properties. Washington legislator Ed Orcutt apologizes for saying cyclists should be taxed because our heavy breathing contributes to global warming; I guess a tax on sexual activity is out of the question then. Arizona considers reforming their three foot passing law, which currently makes it legal to kill a cyclist if he or she is riding in a bike lane. Utah cyclists may soon be able to ride through red lights that don’t change for them. A Colorado dump truck driver faces a $1000 fine and up to one year in jail for carelessly killing a cyclist. Texas bike wreck survivor and bike safety blogger Witch on a Bicycle unveils his $500 contest to design a tattoo to cover a large fish-shaped scar on his leg.

Biking in crime-ridden Guatemala City is possible after all. Mikael Colville-Anderson, author of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic, makes his return to his native Calgary. Rising British cyclist Junior Heffernan is killed in a collision with a car in his first race with his new pro team. A British bike rider is hit in the face with a branch thrown at her from a bridge. Did an angry Brit driver punch out a cyclist because he hates bikes or because the rider gave him the finger because he was angry? The BBC cans their long-time cycling commentator in favor of a much younger colleague. UK health professionals warn against creeping requirements for helmets on charity rides, a practice that is virtually universal in this country. Lance could lose his French Legion of Honor medal in the wake of his recent doping scandal. Multiple world champion cyclist Marianne Vos enters her first ever mountain bike race in Cyprus — and wins, of course. Retroactive tests of 50 South African cyclists shows evidence of EPO use. Melbourne celebrates the World Naked Bike Ride; yes, there are naked pictures, whether that makes you want to click on the link or avoid it. Two Kiwi cyclists are hit in separate collisions at virtually the same spot half an hour apart. A Japanese bike mechanic is still wrenching at 85.

Finally, Indian bike advocates call for licensing cyclists, with a small cash payment if one gets killed, saying that will encourage more people to ride; I’d think it would have exactly the opposite effect. And a study from the University of Duh shows that cyclists who are hit by moving vehicles are four times more likely to suffer severe injuries than riders involved in non-vehicle accidents.

Now put this down and get out and bike the vote if you haven’t already.

The Biking Black Hole can’t get it right; no justice in Texas, and road rage is all the rage these days

A little news and a whole lot of links to wrap up the week.

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Police in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills offer safety tips for cyclists, but can’t manage to get it quite right.

Bike riders are required to ride as close to the right as practicable, not as far right as possible, as they state. There’s a big difference, which any police officer should understand.

And which is scary as hell when they don’t.

Riding as far to the right as possible puts riders in the gutter and door zones, and gives police an excuse to ticket anyone with the audacity to take the lane. Riding as far right as practicable keeps cyclists out of the way of swinging doors and broken glass, and allows them to legally ride in the center of non-sharable lanes.

Which is basically the difference between being bike friendly and observing the law, and making sure riders know they aren’t welcome in your city.

Meanwhile, the city considers adding an handful of bike racks, but banning locking bikes to virtually anything else.

In other words, once again appearing to support cycling while actively discouraging it.

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Amazingly, the Texas driver who ran down tandem cyclists Greg and Alexanda Bruehler in 2009 — resulting in the single saddest photo I’ve ever seen — has been acquitted in their deaths.

Clearly, there is no justice for cyclists in the state of Texas.

The driver was doing 79 in a 65 mph zone when he failed to see the riders wearing hi-viz vests, and drifted off the roadway onto the shoulder where they were riding. The defense won the case by arguing that anyone could have could have made the same mistake.

The scary thing is, they’re right.

Even scarier is no one really seems to care. Not even a jury.

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There’s been a horrifying number of road rage and traffic violence stories in the news the past few days.

For instance, a Massachusetts driver punches a cyclist in the face after the rider’s bike falls over and scratches his car. Local police don’t get it when a Mass cyclist is deliberately doored. A Pittsburgh cyclist is chased up a flight of stairs, stabbed and cut from ear to ear in a brutal road rage assault. A Texas mixed martial arts fighter has been charged with the shooting death of a cyclist after they apparently argued last year; even in Texas, shooting someone because you feel disrespected is a rather extreme response. A former Florida police officer threatens two cyclists with a knife when one flips him off after he threw something at the riders. A Hamilton Ontario cyclist is beaten by a pickup driver after being yelled at, then grazed by the truck’s mirror. A road-raging Toronto cab driver faces up to five years in prison for backing into a cyclist following a dispute, causing the rider to lose a leg. A UK car passenger is sentenced to three years for jumping out of the car and beating a cyclist to a bloody pulp.

Proving it’s not just drivers, police find their suspect in a methadone clinic after a drunken Colorado cyclist pulls a knife on a driver. A Massachusetts cyclist bends a car’s antenna after an argument with a driver. A New York mob trashes a car after a collision with a cyclist during the Fashion’s Night Out celebration. A 16-year old cyclist breaks into a couple’s home after an argument over an open car door. And closer to home, the OC Weekly’s food writer gets into a little bike on bike action; thanks to David Bain for the heads-up.

So let me offer a little advice.

Having been the victim of a road rage assault, I would much rather get off my bike and let the jackass pass than have an angry, potentially violent, driver behind me.

And no matter how much you think the other party deserves it, violence is never justified — it’s far more likely to jeopardize your own life and freedom than teach the other person a damn thing.

One more bit of hard-earned advice.

Never flip off the driver behind you.

Trust me. I’ve learned the hard way that cars are bigger than me, and they hurt.

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Some idiot jackass stole the bike Jerico Culata was riding as he lay dying on last week’s Critical Mass ride; there’s not a pit in hell deep enough for someone like that. Formerly bike-unfriendly Malibu has come a long way, now launching an interactive website to explore improving safety on PCH — for bicyclists and everyone else. The city will also be conducting public hearings on the subject the next four Thursdays. Rapper The Game comes to the rescue of a cyclist who was unresponsive after a crash with his bike on top of him — the cyclist, not The Game — no word on how the rider got that way. LADOT introduces new street signs for Bike Friendly Streets. A Sierra Madre driver sees a girl riding her bike, but steps on the gas instead of the brakes; local police say “oops.”

Bike Lawyer Bob Mionske looks at California’s recently passed three-foot passing law and CEQA exemption for bike lanes. San Clemente gets over $1 million in grants for bike and pedestrian projects. NPR looks at charges that Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital sent jobs from Santa Ana-based GT Bicycles overseas; seems like there’s some truth on both sides. San Diego plans to encourage cycling in the “fun” communities. A San Diego cyclist suffers major leg injuries in a crash with a delivery truck. A North San Diego County writer asks who owns the roads, and correctly concludes we all do. An 18-year old salmon cyclist is seriously injured in a Temecula left cross collision. A bike rider in Perris suffers major injuries in a collision with a minivan on a street that somehow seems to simultaneously run both south and west. Rancho Mirage tells cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk across a bridge — even though it has a bike lane. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious is run off the bike path by an overly aggressive rider. A Modesto cyclist is killed after both he and the driver who hit him run a four-way stop; guess which one will probably get the blame? San Francisco cyclists will get their own lane on The Embarcadero during next month’s America’s Cup races.

People for Bikes looks at biking to school. A cyclist watches an idiot bike rider from his position behind the wheel; thanks to Jerry Oser for the heads-up. Barbie rides a bike. New foldable bike helmet fits odd shaped heads. Suffering the emotional scars of urban cycling. A Portland man moves forward with a statewide initiative requiring bike license plates and licenses for bike riders. An Albuquerque court imposes the maximum sentence on a drugged driver who killed the bike riding manager of the local REI. The 13-year old Milwaukee girl who laughed about it after killing a cyclist while street racing in a stolen car has been ordered into mental health treatment; well no shit. Ohio suffers three cycling fatalities in one week. An Atlantic City cyclist is killed when he’s caught in the crossfire in a gunfight. An Alabama driver won’t be cited after colliding with a cyclist who was riding on the sidewalks illegally. Long Beach’s bicycling expats, now Portland residents, visit our buddy Zeke in North Carolina. A Florida driver with drugs in her system receives the maximum sentence for killing a cyclist — a six-month suspension of her drivers license; no wonder the Sunshine State leads the nation in bike and pedestrian deaths.

A Toronto writer is taken down by streetcar tracks while trying to maneuver around a truck blocking the right lane. A London magazine editor apologizes after writing that “the only good cyclist is a dead cyclist,” noting that he was merely being ironic with his heartfelt wishes that you and I would just die and get it over with. London considers, probably not seriously, a multi-million-pound network of elevated bikeways. UK driving instructors want bicycle awareness to be part of the driving test. Former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi wins gold in the Paralympic handcycle time trial 11 years after losing his legs in a horrific crash. Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree cancels his attempt at a record setting 100 mph bike ride, saying his ride isn’t ready yet. An 11-year old French boy finds a brake lever imbedded in his thigh months after a bike crash; even my stomach turned a little writing that one. One of the better Vueltas in years is slowly coming to a conclusion, as Contador holds a seemingly comfortable lead after bouncing back from a drug scandal that stripped him of his 2010 Tour de France victory; maybe current and former dopers should form their own bike racing league so they can take whatever the hell they want and not have to worry about getting caught.

Finally, a UK cyclist apparently accomplishes the rather remarkable feat of rounding a corner on the sidewalk at 20 mph; even more remarkable is the arthritic pensioner who claims he managed to stop the speeding rider merely by putting his arms out.

Superman ain’t got nothing on him.

Breaking news: arrest made in Mel’s Drive-In beating case; two cycling victims identified

Just a quick note, as my other job — the one that actually results in income on all too rare occasions — is keeping me tied up tonight.

However, I don’t want the day to pass without a quick update on a few cases we’ve discussed here recently.

First up, I’ve received confirmation that the driver who severely beat a cyclist in front of Mel’s Drive-In in Sherman Oaks last month has been identified, and an arrest has been made.

According to LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the victim was supposed to be told of the arrest today (Monday).

As you may recall, the cyclist was riding on Ventura Blvd when he was honked at, then dangerously buzzed by a pickup truck coming up from behind. When he saw the same truck at Mel’s Drive-In moments later, he stopped to confront the driver.

But instead of arguing with the rider, the driver responded by knocking him down and repeatedly kicking him in the face.

There was some concern that the driver of the Oregon-licensed truck would leave the state before an arrest could be made — particularly since the LAPD detective in charge of the case had reportedly taken no action 48 hours after the assault due to a heavy caseload.

And there was some question whether the person driving the truck — and who attacked the cyclist — was the owner of the truck.

There’s no word yet on the identity of the driver, or what charges he will face.

But the simple fact that an arrest has been made is a positive step forward.

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Today also put names to the victims of two fatal bike collisions.

The cyclist killed in a solo fall yesterday has been identified as 47-year old Luis H. Esparza of La Puente. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, he was riding on the sidewalk when he collided with a raised metal mailbox and fell into the street, striking his head on the curb.

The incident took place in the Bassett area of unincorporated L.A. County.

And no, Esparza was not wearing a helmet, even though this is exactly the sort of collision bike helmets are designed to protect against.

This time, it may have cost him his life.

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Finally, Philip Young forwarded word today that the cyclist killed while riding past an elementary school in Chula Vista last January was 77-year old Robert Howard Marshall. Marshall was a 20-year Navy veteran who had served in Korea and Vietnam, and left behind a wife, four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Maybe it’s just me. But it strikes me as vital to put a name to every cycling victim when we can, so we can remember them for the people they were, and not just tragic statistics.

Is a ghost bike appropriate for a teenage gun shot victim?

When I lived down south, I had a great apartment in a park-like 1920s neighborhood that was the envy of all my friends.

The only problem was — and the reason I could afford it — it was right next to one of the worst high-crime neighborhoods in town. One that I had to ride through if I was going to get anywhere.

I never thought much about though, until one night when I was on my way home from a late-evening ride and found myself stopped at a red light, well after dark.

A small group of men were gathered on the corner. And sure enough, as I waited for the light to change, four or five of them started walking towards me, looking very unfriendly despite their broad smiles.

“Nice bike, man.”

“I bet I’d look good on that bike.”

“Maybe you should let me ride it.”

Fortunately, right about then, the traffic cleared. And I took off on a sprint that would have won most stages of the Tour de France.

Later, when I discussed it with a friend of mine on the local police force, he suggested that in the future I should just run all the red lights and stop signs in that neighborhood. “There’s not a cop in the world that would give you a ticket for that,” he said.

Somehow, I have a feeling the LAPD might disagree.

I was reminded of that this evening when I read this post from Will Campbell.

It seems he was stopped at a red light at National and Venice, when a beat-up car blaring rap music pulled up on his left.

“That’s a nice bike, ” says the passenger to me over the lyrics that are mainly muthafuckin this and the muthafuckin that.

At face value that may seem a nice thing to say. But more often than not, such a statement is not a nice thing. More often than not, such a statement is not a compliment. More often than not it is not paid by a Century City lawyer or a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, but rather by some covetous lowlife, and it translates roughly into “I want your bike.” It’s a statement in the form of a demand along the converse lines that  “Where you from?” is a demand in the form of a statement. In short, it’s mostly rhetorical and arrives carrying a lot of baggage.

I give him a glance to find him presenting a general demeanor that would qualify as a definite lowlife. The hairs on my arms rise.

“Thanks!” I say too cheerily and I watch him looking over 8Ball like it’s another guy’s girl that he wants to get to know better 10 minutes ago. Looking away and ignoring him might have been the better tactic, But I didn’t employ it.

“What’ll you give me for it?” I ask and he takes his eyes off the bike and puts them on me and sits up a bit.

“How ’bout a beating?”

Fortunately, after a tense stare-down, both men in the car started laughing. “Nah, man. I’m just fuckin’ witcha,” he said, before driving off.

But it brings up yet another risk cyclists face on the streets.

Unlike drivers, who can lock their doors and roll up their windows — yet still risk getting jacked — cyclists are exposed and vulnerable to whoever might be passing by at any given moment. And we’ve got something worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars tucked between our legs, as well as wallets, cell phones and iPods in many cases.

Most of the time, it’s not a problem.

You keep your eyes open, and try to avoid certain streets and circumstances, especially after dark. Just like you would if you were on foot.

But things can happen. And you never know when you could find yourself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people.

Like the mini crime-wave that stuck the Ballona Creek bikeway a couple years ago, prompting cyclists to reclaim the bike path. Or the female rider struck in the face with a baseball bat in a robbery attempt, or the two cyclists shot and wounded in separate incidents on the same night last year.

And it’s not just limited to L.A. Clearly, it can happen anywhere.

And does.

Then there’s this tragic incident that occurred yesterday in Paicoma, in which two teenage cyclists with no apparent gang ties were shot in an attack police believe was gang related — evidently, simply because they were riding their bikes in the wrong place at the wrong time.

According to the LAPD blog,

On March 8, 2010 at around 6:44 p.m., officers from the Foothill Division responded to a radio call of an “Ambulance Shooting” on the 11200 block of Dronefield Avenue in Pacoima.  When officers arrived they found two male juveniles suffering from gunshot wounds.  The victims were 15 and 16-years-old, their names are being withheld.  Both victims were transported to a local hospital where the 15-year-old died from his wounds.  The 16-year-old was treated and remains hospitalized in stable condition.

A subsequent investigation determined that the victims were riding bicycles on Dronefield Avenue when a black vehicle, unknown make or model approached. An unknown male Hispanic suspect in the vehicle fired several rounds striking the victims multiple times.  This case is believed to be gang related, but neither victim has apparent gang ties.  There is no additional suspect information and the weapon is still outstanding.

Police ask anyone with information to call LAPD’s Foothill Homicide Detectives Gahry or Martinez at 818-834-3115.

We live with violence in our city by telling ourselves it doesn’t affect us, and can’t happen here.

But this young man was someone’s son.

He lived in this city.

And he died as one of us.

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