Tag Archive for Witch on a Bicycle

Teenage cyclist loses leg in collision, 3-foot passing law awaits Brown’s veto, and an 8-year old PCH bike reporter points a finger at Caltrans

We’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s not waste any time.

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In still more tragic news, a teenage Long Beach girl loses a leg, and nearly both, when her bike is struck by a Lexus and she’s pushed through a plate glass store window Monday afternoon.

According to the Long Beach Post, the girl was riding to the beach with her adult nephew when the Lexus allegedly ran a red light and struck another vehicle. The collision caused the Lexus to veer into the riders, who were standing with their bikes waiting for the red light to change.

Both riders were struck, though the other rider suffered less serious injuries.

In a sign of just how trivially traffic laws and dangerous drivers are treated, the driver was cited and released.

Meanwhile, his or her victim has been sentenced to a lifetime on one leg.

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AB 184, which would add one year to the statute of limitations for prosecutors to file charges once they identify a suspect in hit-and-run cases, moves forward in the state Senate.

Meanwhile, California’s third attempt at passing a three-foot passing law once again sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, awaiting his signature — or perhaps a chance to veto it a third time. Texas Governor Rick Perry is the only other governor to veto a three-foot bill, and he only did it once.

There is simply no reason left to veto this watered down bill, after every objection Brown expressed to the previous versions has been addressed or removed.

So when if he vetoes it once again, I hope he’ll be honest with us and say he just doesn’t like bikes.

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Opus the Poet’s Witch on a Bicycle has long been one of my favorite bike-related websites, tracking cycling collisions and other bike news from around the world — and offering advice on how to avoid them yourself.

The collisions, not the news.

What many readers may not realize, though, is that he himself was briefly a bicycling fatality, brought back to life only by the miracle of modern medicine.

And, as he movingly explains, as a different person than he was before. Not necessarily better or worse, but very different.

It can be a damn long road back from a devastating collision, and not everyone has the courage to do it. He did, and does.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I admire that guy.

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Just heartbreaking.

Some despicable low life has stolen the bike that would been used by a San Pedro man in the cycling portion of last June’s Redondo Beach Triathlon — if he hadn’t died of a heart attack in the swimming leg that proceeded it. His adult son had been planning to ride the yellow Specialized Allez in next year’s race in his father’s honor.

If the schmuck who took it has any human decency left, he’ll put it back where he found it. If not, hopefully we can find some room for a lengthy stay behind bars for him.

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First the good news about the news, then the bad.

In a must-watch news report, an eight-year old journalist reports on Caltrans’ dangerous installation of K-rail along the shoulder of north/westbound PCH above Malibu.

The concrete barrier, installed in response to a recent brush fire in the area, dangerously forces riders in front of high speed traffic on a bend in the roadway. Funny how a child has a better sense of bike safety than the state Highway Department charged with keeping us all safe.

That is their job, isn’t it?

Then again, a group of riders recently took the lane on PCH instead of hugging the shoulder. And declared it the best bike lane in the world.

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Yellow journalism lives, as the anti-bike publisher of NELA’s Boulevard Sentinel accuses the LACBC of planning to pad the planned Eagle Rock bike count on September 14th.

Tom Topping, who has led a vociferous, if somewhat biased, opposition to planned road diet and bike lanes in Northeast LA, writes that a planned Sept. 14th bike safety class in Eagle Rock, as well as additional classes in Glendale and Pasadena, exist only so the Coalition can get unsuspecting participants to ride past the Eagle Rock bike count location scheduled for the same day.

Never mind that the two events are completely unrelated, or that the planned route for the Metro-sponsored safety classes go nowhere the bike count location. Or that the dates and times for the citywide bike count co-sponsored by the LACBC and Los Angeles Walks are the same for every neighborhood in the LA area, regardless of whether they face opposition from a local newspaper publisher intent on keeping bike lanes from besmirching his neighborhood.

Of course, by calling advance attention to this paranoid conspiracy theory, he’ll later be able to claim that he stopped the Coalition from cheating on the count when the class participants don’t go anywhere near where they never going to go in the first place.

Just like I can keep tigers away by snapping my fingers.

No, really. Haven’t seen one yet.

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Somewhere in between those two journalistic efforts, the Los Angeles News Group’s Summer of Cycling comes to a disappointing end.

The parent group of the Daily News, Press-Telegram, Daily Breeze, et al, finishes its short examination of bicycling in the Los Angeles area with a positive look back at the last 20+ years. Along with unexamined — and unchallenged — readers comments, including a call for every bicyclist to ride facing traffic.

I kid you not.

And a “can’t we all just get along” summation of the lessons learned in their feeble efforts over the past few months. One that mistakenly says bike riders must dismount and walk at crosswalks, ignoring state law that, confusing though it may be, allows bicyclists to ride along crosswalks.

The LAPD’s current interpretation of that law is that bike riders can ride in the crosswalk as long as they go in the direction of traffic; ignoring the bi-directional nature of both crosswalks and the sidewalks of which they are an extension.

Los Angeles cyclists and drivers could have both benefitted from an in-depth examination of the issues facing local cyclists and the impact of bikes on our communities. Instead, we got a series that barely skimmed the surface, offering less depth than the investigative efforts of a typical high school newspaper.

They apparently didn’t even contact any of the many bicycling advocates and city officials fighting for greater safety, acceptance and improved infrastructure for bicyclists on SoCal streets. Any series on local cycling that doesn’t mention Long Beach’s Charlie Gandy, CICLE or the LACBC, or examine the progress in Long Beach or Santa Monica, just to name a few, is a failure from the outset.

If this is the face of LA journalism, count me out.

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I’ve always wondered how any bike rider — or anyone else — could get hit by a train; a new Metro video dramatically drives it home. The Source talks with bike commuting LADOT employee Jon Overman, who helped the city score a grant for 43 miles of new bike lanes; when I started this blog, I don’t think most of the city’s traffic planners and engineers knew what a bike was, let alone actually rode one. LA’s city council takes a big step towards livability by voting to cap the 101 Freeway in Downtown LA with a park. A call for entries for Ghost Bikes of LA, a multi-media exhibition exploring the ghost bike phenomenon, hosted by red35 yellow#7. LAist offers tips for drivers and cyclists on how to survive around one another. Gary Kavanagh offers his input on the planned redesign of Santa Monica’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGO); loss of parking is a concern. A September 15th ride around the Santa Monica Airport is planned to consider its future after the city’s agreement with the FAA expires in 2015. Ten reasons to complete the survey for the Malibu PCH Safety Study. Pasadena police arrest two suspects for knocking a cyclist off his bike in an attempted robbery. The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition is hosting a barbeque on Saturday, Sept. 21st to thank everyone for their support.

Cycling in the South Bay writes movingly about fallen Newport Beach rider Debra Deem. Four hundred competitors take part in the inaugural Temecula Grand Prix. A Cayucos CA driver is under arrest after allegedly running down two cyclists, killing one and critically injuring the other while under the influence; she already had an outstanding warrant for reckless driving, but apparently was allowed to remain on the road until she succeeded in killing someone. In a case that sounds like a surreal scene from a David Lynch movie, a Stockton man riding with his son is wacked eight times with a cane by a 20-something Asian man. Petaluma brothers repair bikes for the homeless. Bike riders go just partway on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

Twenty-nine riders have been named to the US World’s team. Family members say ‘70s cycling legend Dale Stetina is showing improvement. This is why you always carry ID with you on your bike, as an unidentified rider is killed in Wyoming. Eight months later, not a single citation has been issued under the new Dallas vulnerable road user law. A Lincoln NE bike rider ignores his injuries to aid the driver of the SUV that hit him. An Arkansas driver faces charges for the alleged distracted driving collision that took the life of a high school student on a cross country bike tour. Chicago’s bike friendly mayor shows just how friendly he is by aiding a rider who was injured in a collision. Evidently, she’s a Ramones fan, as an Ohio woman proceeds to beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah, after a 14-year old bike rider hits her in the face when she yelled an obscenity at him from her car; both were — deservedly — cited for assault. A New York state man is charged with hit-and-run after a road rider is found dead on the side of a street Sunday morning. New Jersey cracks down on New York bike riders. Boston wants to be the nation’s leading city for bicycling. If you think there’s been an increase in road raging drivers, you’re probably right. Florida confronts the state’s well-deserved killer reputation with protected and buffered bike lanes; it comes too late to help a tandem-riding couple critically injured by a hit-and-run driver.

A Vancouver area man is arrested in a fatal hit-and-run after his license plate is found next to the victim’s body; passersby tried heroically to save the victim’s life before paramedics arrived. Protesters surround the UK Parliament to protest cycling conditions; MPs respond by voting to Get Britain Cycling. Could a new London building be the ultimate weapon in the war on cars? Spandex — or rather, Lycra — clad thieves simply ride off on high-end bikes. A big hearted Liverpool cop teams with Walmart to replace a boy’s stolen bike. Clearly, hit-and-run is not just an LA problem. Tour de France riders live an average of 6.3 years longer than the general population; maybe because they get all the good drugs. Formula 1 star saves unpronounceable Spanish Euskaltel Euskadipro cycling team. New Varibike can be pedaled with feet or hands. A teenage Delhi boy is killed in a fight over bicycling courtesy; seems needlessly rude if you ask me. A young girl’s collarbone is broken in a collision with an Aussie cyclist on a shared pathway.

Finally, what it’s like to live in a town so bike friendly, even the chef at your soon to be ex-favorite restaurant can recognize a bike part in your food. You can now ride your bike up a tree. And if you’re going to walk off with the bike you just stole — complete with U-lock still attached to the rear wheel — don’t cross against the light.

On zombies, boogey men, murderous drivers and Dr. Christopher Thompson

Evidently, drivers aren’t really like zombies after all.

I’ve been catching up AMC’s Walking Dead lately — a must for fans of the mindless flesh-eating oeuvre, especially those of us who prefer the classic slow-moving zombies to their zippier modern brethren.

Watching it caused me to briefly entertain the notion that those swarming undead masses hungry for human flesh might make a decent metaphor for some of the deadlier drivers with whom we find ourselves sharing the roads.

But it didn’t really fit.

While too many drivers operate mindlessly behind the wheel, and allow their cell phones and other distractions to divert their attention from the road, the simple fact is that most drivers aren’t actually out to get us, despite how it sometimes seems. And while there may be great swarms of them swirling around us, the overwhelming majority of motorists are more concerned with the minutiae of their own lives than the presence of those of us on two wheels.

And yes, that is every bit as good and bad as it sounds.

Still, there are some scattered in that great mass of humanity on our roads who really do want to cause us harm.

Think of it as the early stages of a zombie infestation, when there are still just a few infected souls feasting on the unsuspecting.

Take David Mark Clark, the Bay Area man accused of intentionally running down four separate cyclists in a six minute hit-and-run rampage, for instance.

Or the driver who made a U-turn to come back and hit Opus the Poet, nom de web of the author of Witch on a Bicycle.

As long time readers will know, Opus has made it his life’s work to report on collisions and assaults involving cyclists, and offer advice on how to avoid similar situations yourself.

But what you may not know is that he himself is a survivor of a horrific near-fatal collision that left him with lasting life-changing injuries. And the simple fact that he’s still here riding and fighting for other cyclists makes him far more than just another bike blogger in my book.

In the last few days, though, he revealed that he finally found the driver who hit him; ironically, by the time he finally found the driver, the man was already six feet under in a local cemetery, the victim of another collision. And for the first time I’m aware of, Opus explained just what happened — and what it’s like to know he’ll never have a chance to confront his attacker:

There’s not much to tell from before the wreck. Until I got hit Dallas and Richardson cops would shadow my commute route because as one cop put it “Son, you are an idiot magnet.” and they could get a month’s worth of tickets from people acting stupid around me on my after midnight commute home. Garland cops couldn’t have cared less. Just before I crossed into Garland someone in a white pickup shouted at me to “Get off the Fucking road!” and a few minutes later someone in a white pickup shouted the same thing doing about 65 MPH just before I got hit by him….

Well in spite of finding out the guy I wanted to torture to death with blunt impact trauma has already died life must go on (just not for him). I never will get to find out why he made a u-turn around a median to come back and kill me, what inspired that level of rage. I think that’s the thing that bothers me the most about this whole “resolution” thing, it doesn’t resolve anything. I want to know “Why?” so I can do something about it in the future. Of course if the answer to “Why?” is “Because I’m an asshole and don’t like bicycles on the road.” there isn’t much I can do about that except request some kind of screening during the driver’s license test that prevents people like that from ever getting a license, along with stricter laws against driving without a license, ideally the same penalties as carrying concealed without a CHL. Whatever, I’m just glad the asshole population on the roads in control of deadly weapons of mass destruction has been reduced by one.

Then there’s our own biking Boogey Man, the good doctor whose name we invoke to frighten young cyclists — knowing full well that the man who used his car to attack two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon is locked safely behind bars.

Except, as noted here recently, there’s no guarantee he’s going to stay there.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Christopher Thompson is appealing his convictions for mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon (his car), battery with serious injury, and reckless driving causing injury.

Surprisingly, though, cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, who has followed the case from the beginning — and brought all of us into the courtroom with him — says he may have a point. While he’s still giving it some thought, he says it looks like Thompson may have some interesting, and potentially valid, arguments.

According to Wheels, Thompson’s appeal is based on six key grounds —

  1. Trial court erred when it allowed evidence of alleged prior conduct
  2. Trial court erred in finding appellant presumptively ineligible for probation
  3. Failure to object to jury verdict forms was ineffective assistance of counsel
  4. Trial court abused discretion in failing to grant probation
  5. Trial court abused discretion in awarding Peterson and Stoehr attorney fees of $20,000 each as restitution
  6. Appellant entitled to one additional day of presentence custody credit

Whether the appellate court will agree should be determined sometime next year. But it’s possible that 2011 may see Dr. Thompson back on the streets.

I think I’d rather take my chances with the zombies.

Especially the slow ones.

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In a victory for Santa Monica cyclists, their City Council considers relaxing the penalty for riding on the sidewalk, while the City Attorney acknowledges that the city’s bike licensing law doesn’t comply with state law.

Now if someone could just tell Long Beach.

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LACBC offers a cheat sheet courtesy of bike attorney Ross Hirsch in case you’re hit by a car. The new Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path is finally open. One of L.A.’s best wrenches (aka bike mechanic) has been running a great series of photos of bike shop decals from around the country, now gathered in one place; I have one I’ll have to send him. LADOT Bike Blog says December will be a busy month for local cyclists; you can add another Streetsblog fundraiser to the list. Highlights from yesterday’s Living Car-Free in Southern California live chat from KPCC, or read the complete transcript. The Mandoline Grill food truck offers a ride-up discount. SoCal mountain bikers will raise funds for five-year old Tyler Blick in his battle with leukemia on Friday with the 24-hour Le Tour de Tryptophan. Public bikes pop up in the Gap’s San Francisco flagship store.

Electric cars and hybrids will soon make noise to warn others on the road. Eugene, Oregon cyclists get a beautiful new car-free bridge. NYDOT Commissioner Jannette Sadik-Khan is interviewed in Esquire, while the city puts out a call for graffiti-resistant one-size-fits-all bikes for its new bike share plan. The head of AAA in the DC area insists bike lanes are part of a war on drivers. A cyclist killed Sunday in Gulfport, Alabama devoted his time to charity work, despite being homeless. Three — or maybe three-and-a-half — U.S. teams will compete on next year’s pro tour.

Here’s your chance to ride with one of cycling’s all-time greatest riders, as Eddy Merckx promises to ride in a new B.C. Granfondo. A London cyclist complains her coat seems to make her invisible to drivers; I’ve got a blue jersey that seems to do the same thing. A dog walker is upset when an off-road race blocks access to his favorite trails. A blind Scot pedestrian is injured by a hit-and-run cyclist. Spanish cyclists win the right to ride on the sidewalk.

Finally, a Kiwi writer says bikes and cars are a dangerous mix — and suggests banning them from the roads for our own good, since drivers can’t be bothered to drive safely. Tell that to Octavio Orduno, who’s still riding at age 102

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