Tag Archive for weshigh

Two year sentence in Dotson case, Brown yields his veto pen in support of hit-and-run, dooring caught on video

Just a quick update today, since I’m having some major computer problems. Assuming I get things straightened out, I should be back Saturday night with some Weekend Links. If not, you may not hear from me for awhile until I can get my laptop fixed.

Keep your fingers crossed. 

Update: The jury is still out. Reinstalling the OS may have solved the problem. Or not.

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First up, in case you missed it, the driver who killed postal worker Jesse Dotson as he rode his bike to work in Gardena last year has been officially sentenced to two years in prison.

Twenty-four year old Vanessa Yanez, the daughter of a veteran LAPD sergeant, was behind the wheel when she struck Dotson’s bike and fled the scene, leaving him lying on the street; he died in a hospital three days later.

After running Dotson down, Yanez drove to a nightclub to meet a friend before reporting her car stolen the next day in an attempt to cover-up the crime.

The sentence was a given, having been worked out in a plea deal last month.

It’s not enough. The meagre sentence reflects the lack of seriousness with which our society takes traffic crimes, even when they kill.

And even when drivers try to cover up their crimes.

She should have faced a murder charge on the assumption that Dotson might have been saved if he’d gotten emergency care sooner.

But given the lax hit-and-run laws and weak penalties currently on the books, it’s probably the best we could have hoped for.

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Speaking of lax hit-and-run laws, there is one person who doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem.

And unfortunately for all of us, he’s the governor of our state.

Three-term Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 2337 on Thursday; the bill would have ensured that a hit-and-run driver would lose his or her license for two years if they injured someone.

The only governor in the US to veto a three-foot passing two times, before finally signing it last year, Brown wrote in his veto message (pdf) that penalties for hit-and-run are already stiff enough.

Evidently, he’s the only person in the state who still has no idea hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions. If the penalties really were strict enough, most drivers would stop at the scene and render aid to their victims, as the law requires.

And quite frankly, a two year suspension for leaving another human being bleeding in the streets isn’t nearly strong enough. Anyone who lacks the basic human decency to obey the most basic requirement of the law has shown that they are undeserving of the privilege — not the right — to drive.

Our governor clearly doesn’t get that.

Instead of a mere two-year suspension, a hit-and-run driver should face lifetime revocation of their license.

Instead, Brown is fighting to keep the most dangerous and callous drivers on the streets.

Thanks, Jerry. No, really, we owe you one.

Meanwhile, Calbike is calling for everyone to contact the governor to demand that he sign AB 1532, which would increase the fines for hit-and-run — though not the prison sentences — to match those for drunk driving, in order to reduce the incentive for drivers who have ben drinking to flee the scene.

And it would ensure that hit-and-run drivers would lose their licenses for a minimum of six months — regardless of whether anyone was injured.

Given that Brown has already expressed his opinion that penalties for the crime are high enough, it’s very questionable whether he’ll sign this one.

If not, the blood of every future hit-and-run victim will be on his hands.

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One of the best jobs in bike advocacy just became available.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is looking for a new Executive Director to replace Jen Klausner, who is stepping down after nearly a decade of successfully leading the organization.

Under her stewardship, the LACBC has grown to become a leading voice for Southern California bicyclists, and one of the most influential bike advocacy groups in the US.

The organization has had an exceptional track record in recent years, from nurturing CicLAvia in its earliest stages to developing award-winning programs like City of Lights. They were a driving force behind the initial Give Me 3 efforts that recently became California’s new three-foot passing law, and the key backer of the cyclist anti-harassment ordinance that is being copied across the nation.

In just a few short years, they’ve helped turn one of the nation’s most car-centric cities into a certified bike-friendly community. And they were one of the first organizations to reach out to underserved ethnic and economic communities, and to push for cycling infrastructure in less affluent areas — not because that’s where their members are, but simply because it was the right thing to do.

Now they’re looking for a superstar capable of leading the LACBC to the next level and building it into one of the nation’s pre-eminent bicycle advocacy organizations.

Maybe it’s you. Or someone you know, anyway.

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Recently we mentioned that the Santa Monica Bike Center had been named the area’s only Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists.

But dig a little deeper into the list of honored businesses (pdf), and you’ll find Santa Monica marketing communications agency Phelps.

The agency was honored by the Bike League for amenities including on-site showers, secure bike parking and financial incentives for bike commuters.

It’s also home to WesHigh, whose YouTube videos from his 15-mile commute from Silver Lake to Santa Monica have often been featured here.

In celebration of the honor, the agency created this infographic encouraging their employees to ride.

And maybe even you.

Phelps-Bike-InfoGraphic

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Might as well buy a used bike off Craigslist. After all, it’s probably your bike, anyway.

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Finally, I was forwarded this security cam footage showing a dooring that occurred in Burbank recently.

The shocking thing is just how quickly it happens, and how little time the rider has to react.

Fortunately, I’m told the rider was okay; his bike, maybe not so much.

And just to be clear, drivers are required to ensure that it’s safe to open their car door without interfering with the operation of other road users (CVC 22517).

So unless you’re doing something stupid, like riding the wrong way or without lights after dark, the driver is almost always at fault.

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Don’t miss this weekend’s most exciting bike action — the Lucha Libre-themed HP Gran Prix from 5 to 9 pm tonight in Huntington Beach.

HPimage004

 

Embarrassing video shows Sheriff’s deputy doesn’t know what a sharrow is or what it means

They should be embarrassed.

Or maybe we should, since the LA County Sheriff’s Department is supposed to work for all of us.

Yet as this new YouTube video from WesHigh shows, at least one Sheriff’s Deputy has no idea what a sharrow is. Let alone that bicyclists aren’t required to ride to the ride on a non-sharable lane.

As the video points out, sharrows are not just wayfinding symbols that indicate a Class III bike route, but indicate the preferred position for bike riders within the lane. While you’re not required to ride on the sharrows, if you position yourself on the point of the arrow, you’ll be in the exact spot traffic engineers think you should be within the lane.

Those charged with enforcing the law should know that.

Yet from what I heard from other bike riders, the Deputy’s misconception, while an extreme example, isn’t that unusual for the department.

Many riders have complained about Sheriff’s Deputies demanding that they ride as far as possible to the right, in violation of CVC 21202, which only requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable. And then, only when traveling below the speed of traffic.

If you’re riding as fast or faster than the vehicles around you, you can legally ride anywhere you damn please, as long as you travel in the direction of traffic.

Yet even if you’re just crawling along, there are countless exceptions to the requirement to ride to the ride — including riding in a non-sharable lane, which is defined as any lane too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. And that includes allowing for sufficient space to avoid the door zone, which is one of those hazards the law refers to.

Which means that virtually every right lane in the Los Angeles area should be considered non-sharable. Especially if it allows parking on the right.

The officer is also mistaken in his insistence that the rider was obstructing traffic. Under California law, that only applies on two lane roadways, and by definition, requires five or more vehicles stuck behind the slower vehicle and unable to pass. If drivers can pass, or if there is another lane to the left they could use to pass if they chose to do so, the rider is not legally obstructing traffic.

As the video shows, this was a four lane street. And drivers were able to pass with ease — including the officer who dangerously chose to speak with a moving cyclist without pulling over to the curb first.

Unfortunately, this brings up a much bigger problem.

While the LAPD has worked with local bike riders to clarify the laws applying to cyclists, and developed a training session to train their officers in just how to — and how not to — enforce traffic laws relating to cyclists, the LASD, to the best of my knowledge, has not.

Just what training their officers receive in bike law isn’t known outside of the department and the officers who actually receive it. Or not.

And while the department may feel their officer training is adequate, this video — and complaints from bike riders around the county suggesting a lack of knowledge and inconsistent enforcement in various areas of the county — would suggest it isn’t.

It’s long past time for the Sheriff’s Department to step up and work with cyclists to ensure their officers understand bike law and enforce it correctly, and fairly.

In the meantime, this video prepared by the LAPD in conjunction cyclists participating in the department’s bike task force remains the state-ot-the-art for bicycle traffic law training among SoCal police agencies.

Even then, it’s only as good as department’s commitment to ensure every officer views it.

And learns it.

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