Tag Archive for what the hell are they thinking?

Pomona hit-and-run killer arrested, OC Register’s Dan Whiting questioned, and a Westwood pothole fail

The driver who killed Rafael Perez in a Pomona hit-and-run on Wednesday has turned himself in to the police.

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 67-year old Chino resident Rodger Allen Karcher walked into the Pomona Police Station around 8 pm Thursday. Police speculated that Karcher turned himself in after hearing media coverage of the collision, in which the victim was dragged half a block under Karcher’s SUV.

The Tribune reports that his SUV was also located, and matched the evidence found at the seen.

Karcher was booked on suspicion of hit-and-run causing death, and was being held on $50,000 bail; arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

Yes, that’s a lousy $50,000 for dragging a man half a city block to his death.

And of course, Karcher may — or may not — have been drunk as a skunk when the collision occurred. But if he was, he had plenty of time to sober up in the 26-and-a-half hours before he turned himself in.

Thanks to Opus the Poet for the heads-up.


I’m still hearing from cyclists about David Whiting’s recent columns about bicycling in the Orange County Register.

As I’ve said before, Whiting seems to have his heart in the right place. I have no doubt that he genuinely cares about keeping riders safe, and ending the seemingly eternal conflict between riders and drivers behind the Orange Curtain — one that has contributed to a nearly one a month rate of biking fatalities in the county.

On the other hand, that’s a hell of a lot better than the 21 riders killed on OC streets in 2006, or even the 15 killed the following year.

The problem is that Whiting seems to blame the victims, placing more than our share of responsibility firmly on the helmets and wheels of riders. And interpreting bike laws in an overly conservative manner, including a common misconception that riding two or more abreast is against the law — even though that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the California Vehicle Code.

Mark Loftus, author of the insightful riding website The C-Blog — I particularly like his explanation of why we roadies wear such ridiculous clothes — copied me on an email he sent to Whiting in response to his latest column on bicycling.

I have a quick observation that I was hoping you might see fit to print in the future…

There are several comments from readers included in your piece (referenced above) that go something like this:

  • I saw cyclists doing this (breaking a perceived law).
  • I saw cyclists run this light.
  • I saw a cyclist run that stop sign.
  • I saw cyclists do that.

And then these comments conclude with something akin to:

  • Cyclists should not be allowed on the road.
  • Cyclists should ride on bike paths.

I will not debate the validity of these observations except to say that many comments, on many different websites (not just your article) put out a cyclist “infraction” and it’s not really against the law anyway because the writer apparently doesn’t know/understand the law.

At any rate, why is it, in articles that draw out comments such as these, we don’t see comments also saying:

  • I saw a car driver not stop at a stop sign.
  • I saw a car driver texting while driving.
  • I saw a car driver blocking the whole lane and they wouldn’t let me pass. I had to pass on the shoulder or into oncoming traffic.
  • I saw a car driver run that red light.

And then, these comments could conclude with:

  • Car drivers should not be allowed on the road.

Food for thought, I should think.

Whiting responded positively, indicating that he’s written critically about drivers in the past. And may do so again soon.

Now that’s something I’ll look forward to reading.


Finally, a major Streets Services fail in Westwood.

In the roughly 18 years I’ve lived in this neighborhood, I’ve noticed a repeated problem at the corner of Manning and Ohio Avenues.

A near constant flow of water through the gutter on the west side of the intersection results in a massive recurring pothole undermining the eastbound lane — in fact, you can even see it in this Google satellite photo.

For nearly two decades, I’ve watched as the city would send out a crew to patch the pavement, without ever doing anything about the root cause of the problem. And every time, the patch would only hold for a few months — or in some cases, weeks — before washing out again under the continual barrage of water and traffic.

Never mind that if they figured out where the water was coming from, they might be able to actually solve the problem, and save a fortune in perennial pothole repair.

Maybe they’re finally catching on.

Instead of patching the pothole once again, after doing it yet again just a few months earlier, the city responded by placing warning signs directly over the potholes.

In the middle of the traffic lane.

So instead of investing a few bucks worth of asphalt for yet another temporary fix, they’ve decided to avoid the issue entirely.

And hope drivers manage to avoid the signs placed directly in their path, forcing them to go around by either cutting into the heavily trafficked pedestrian crosswalk on the right. Or cut around the signs on the left by entering the oncoming traffic lane.

Neither of which is a reasonable — or even rational — expectation.

And never mind that the second option places motorists directly in the path of vehicles coming over a blind hill, at an intersection where drivers frequently roll through the stop in all four directions.

And of course, when the inevitable collision occurs, if it hasn’t already, it will be your tax dollars that will pay the city’s share of the damages.

All because some rocket scientist thought putting a warning sign in a traffic lane was a better idea than patching the damn pothole one more time. Let alone finding the problem causing the posthole to keep coming back.

And fixing it.

Best wishes to all for a very healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

Streetsblog benefit in SaMo, Walk It or Lock It in Long Beach, better biking in Beverly Hills & outrage in TN

I’ve got a long list of legal matters to catch up on — including reader insights into last week’s road rage assault in Santa Monica, first reported by Mihai Peteu on Bikeside.

As well as a letter written by the underage, allegedly drunk driver who nearly killed cyclist Adam Rybicki in Torrance earlier this year. And the driver who called police pretending to be a witness to the collision that killed cyclist Hung Do before being arrested for the crime himself.

But in the meantime, as I rush from riding to meetings to work and back again — let alone trying to squeeze in a little sleep into to process — let me offer a reminder about today’s Streetsblog benefit at Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse.

As it turns out, I won’t be able to make it this time. But if you can make it, I strongly recommended heading to 2911 Main Street for some New Belgium beer, raffle, auctions and a cargo bike worth of fun. Along with a lot of good people having a good time for a good cause.

And yes, there will be a bike valet.


Long Beach is kicking off the Walk It or Lock It campaign to remind cyclists that it’s against the law to ride bikes on the sidewalk in the city’s business districts.

Police will be handing out safety cards to instruct riders to either walk their bikes or lock them up in areas including Broadway and Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach, Atlantic Avenue in Bixby Knolls, Second Street in Belmont Shore, “Retro Row” on Fourth Street, and Cambodia Town on Anaheim Street.

And if you haven’t already, Long Beach residents are encouraged to take five minutes to complete the city’s 2011 Bike Safety Survey.


Hats off to what — hopefully — will soon be the former Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

Along with a number of other bike advocates and local residents and business people, I attended last night’s meeting of the city’s Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee.

For a town that currently lacks a single inch of biking infrastructure, the representatives from Beverly Hills were surprisingly committed to changing the situation and getting test projects off the ground — or rather, on the ground — as quickly as possible. And remarkably open to suggestions, including innovative ideas that are just starting to gain acceptance elsewhere.

Make no mistake. They have a very long way to go, and still have to sell the idea of biking infrastructure to a city government and populace likely to cast a wary eye on two-wheeled interlopers in their city.

And the toughest challenge, recreating Santa Monica Boulevard in a format that will be inviting to cyclists — or at least less likely to risk our lives — still awaits discussion down the road.

But they’re off to a good start. And with a far more positive and approachable attitude than many other cities I could name.

If you live or ride through Beverly Hills — or would like to if it was a little safer and more inviting — sign up with LACBC affiliate Better Bike to get involved and stay abreast of the latest happenings.


Finally, allow me a moment of sheer outrage, as a Tennessee woman is threatened with arrest for the crime of allowing her 10-year old daughter to ride her bike to school.

According to Bike Walk Tennessee, Teresa Tyron of Elizabethton thought her daughter had a reasonably safe 7 – 9 minute ride to school in the tiny town near the border with North Carolina.

Evidently, the authorities disagreed.

Teresa Tryon said, “On August 25th my 10 year daughter arrived home via police officer, requested to speak to me on the front porch of my home. The officer informed me that in his ‘judgment’ it was unsafe for my daughter to ride her bike to school.”

She followed up by contacting the mayor and chief of police. But instead of getting the apology any rational person would have expected, she was told that the officer would be contacting Child Protective Services — and that she could be arrested for child neglect if she allowed her daughter to ride to school in the meantime.

So let me get this straight.

A town of just 13,000 people is so dangerous that children can’t safely ride their bikes on the streets.

Of course, they don’t say whether the danger stems from the horrible traffic conditions, which surely must be far worse than those of the Los Angeles area, where children are encouraged to ride to class, though few actually do.

Then again, maybe the town is so overwhelmed with child molesters and other criminal sorts that it is unsafe for anyone to ever be outside of their homes day or night. Let alone a child.

Or maybe city officials have their collective heads so far up their own collective asses that the entire collective city government would have to visit a proctologist just to get their glasses cleaned.

If the problem is the condition of the streets, it’s up to the mayor and other city officials to make them safe — not parents to keep their children off them. If it’s a fear of criminal activity, the police should stop harassing parents and start arresting criminals until families don’t have to be afraid to let their children go out alone for less than 10 minutes on the way to and from school.

But if it’s the latter problem — which I would highly suspect — local residents should seriously consider riding the police chief, mayor and anyone else involved in this idiotic process out of town on a rail.

And replace them with far more rational people who understand that riding a bike to school isn’t a crime, and should in fact be encouraged in this day of rampant childhood obesity. And willing to do their damn jobs to make the streets safe for everyone.

Maybe they could use a little gentle encouragement to see the light.

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