Morning Links: OC truck driver goes on trial; Montebello hit-and-run reward; Metro bike workshops start tonight

The trial of truck driver Filemon Reynaga started on Monday in a Santa Ana courthouse.

And kicked off with one big revelation.

Reynaga is charged with felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor manslaughter for the 2013 death of 19-year old Manuel Morales Rodriguez.

According to the Orange County Register, Reynaga was shown on surveillance video pulling out of a store parking lot after an early morning delivery, and making a blind right turn without stopping. He ran directly into Rodriguez’ bike, dragging Rodriguez under his trailer as he made a second right onto Orangewood Ave.

A witness testified that Reynaga got out of his truck and walked back to look at Rodriguez, coming within five feet of his body. Then he got back in his truck and drove away, leaving his Rodriguez lying in the street, where he was struck again by another car moments later.

Why that doesn’t warrant a murder charge is beyond me, since he knowingly left his victim lying in harms way.

To make matters worse, his defense attorney argued that Reynaga isn’t at fault because Rodriguez might have been killed by the second driver, instead. Even though the other driver probably wouldn’t have hit him if Reynaga hadn’t left him there unprotected in the early morning darkness.

Then again, he also argued that Reynaga a) didn’t cause the collision, b) may not have even hit Rodriguez, and c) may not have known that he hit him if he did.

Let hope the jury will pick d) he’s guilty as hell.

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Montebello is offering a $10,000 reward for the hit-and-run death of fallen cyclist Steven Vasquez Garcia last month.

Montebello Reward

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Metro is hosting a series of Open House Workshops to develop a  strategic plan for active transportation — including bikes and pedestrians — starting tonight in San Gabriel.

We want to hear from you! Metro is developing an Active Transportation Strategic Plan to identify needs, resources and strategies to improve and increase walking, bicycling and transit use in LA County, and your input will help create a meaningful, effective plan.

The workshops will:

  1. Gather input on improving first and last mile access to transit and improvements to the regional network of walking and bicycling facilities, including shared-use paths and on-street bikeways
  2. Explore opportunities for supporting local and regional partners to get these projects and programs implemented

The workshops are designed for planners, engineers, traffic safety professionals, public health and injury prevention professionals, advocates, transit riders, transit operators, non-profit organizations, decision-makers, and other interested stakeholders. Each workshop will include information about the overall plan and information specific to the sub-region. We encourage you to attend the workshop specific to your sub-region; however, staff will be available to answer questions and gather input at all workshops.

Click here for dates and locations.

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The Tour of Utah brings big-time pro cycling to the Beehive State, with 10 riders to watch. However, two-time champ Tom Danielson won’t be one of them after failing a drug test; he could face a lifetime ban thanks to a previous six month suspension.

The best news in this year’s racing season is Taylor Phinney’s return to the peloton following last year’s horrific crash in the National Championships days after winning the time trial title. And better yet, he finished third in a breakaway in Monday’s stage.

Sunday’s competition in the Crested Butte Big Mountain Enduro race was cancelled after Will Olson was killed while competing in the off-road race on Saturday; competitors rode in his honor instead.

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Local

A new study shows bikeshare really is an effective form of transit; LA’s upcoming system could take that a step further by offering transfers to and from other forms of transit.

LA’s Mobility Plan comes up for a vote before a joint meeting of the city council’s Transportation and Planning and Land Use committees at 2:30 today at City Hall. At least two of the councilmembers who have been working to scuttle the plan sit on those committees, so we have our work cut out for us.

The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee — the only official voice for bicyclists in our city government — holds their bi-monthly meeting tonight; the location has been changed to the Meeting Room at Pan Pacific Park.

 

State

Get your resume ready. Delaware-based Blue Bicycles is moving to Orange County by the end of the year; the company will release over 20 models for its 2016 line after being off the market for two years following an unsuccessful merger.

People in Santa Barbara support a well designed bike network, but question whether the one currently under consideration fits that description.

Cyclelicious says don’t bother uglifying your bike to deter thieves.

British bike scribe Carlton Reid says Davis set the standard for what a bike friendly American city could be, though it’s going to take work to return it to bike paradise it once was.

 

National

Bicycling looks at the 13 best bike rides in US national parks. And asks pro cyclists to tell us about their favorite places to ride.

People for Bikes says cities can’t prioritize vehicle speed and volume, just as turning up a hose too far causes more harm than good. It makes more sense when you read it.

An architecture website offers seven rules for safer cities.

A cyclist shares what he learned from riding across the country.

An Albuquerque thrift store sold a man’s $1,500, 1937 antique bike to another customer for $4.99 while he shopped. I’m going to have nightmares about that one.

An Iowa bike rider is grateful for the hit-and-run that broke his leg, mangled his arm and cost him his job; if he hadn’t been hurt, doctors might not have found the tumor that probably would have killed him.

A heartbreaking story, as a Minnesota man returns to the site of the hit-and-run that took his wife’s life and left him seriously injured as they returned home from a bike tour one year ago.

Not many 12-year old bike riders have sponsors. A Minnesota boy runs his own advertising service by selling ad space on his bicycle.

Vermont police conclude a cyclist was at fault in the collision that killed him, even though the driver blew a .123 alcohol level right after the wreck — well over the .08 legal limit — and had Xanax, Sertraline and Nortriptyline in her system. But it’s just a coincidence that the driver is married to a cop, right?

A Virginia bike rider is shot in an apparently random act of violence. And a VA hit-and-run victim wants to know what kind of person would slam into a bicyclist, then leave him sprawling in a ditch without stopping. I suspect we know the answer to that one.

A North Carolina driver tells a reporter he didn’t do it on purpose after killing a cyclist while driving under the influence. Oh, well okay, then.

 

International

A cyclist died after going 50 feet off a bridge at the site of the worst traffic fatality in British history. Maybe it’s time to fix the damn road, already.

A 15-year old boy from India takes gold twice in the Special Olympics time trial events, after just one month of training; he didn’t even have a racing bike when he qualified last year.

Is nowhere safe from bike thieves? A South African woman was bike-jacked while competing in a mountain bike race.

Bicycling rates are up in Western Australia, though the Aussie state faces the same gender gap everywhere else does.

Evidently, Japan isn’t quite up for Vision Zero yet, planning to cut traffic deaths by 50%. Maybe they call it Vision Less; thanks to an anonymous source for the heads-up.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to ride through floodwaters, make sure you know where the damn curb is. Maybe you find spandex too confining, but please wear something. Anything. Except unsightly calf-high bike socks.

Especially if you’re planning to use what’s basically an adult balance bike.

 

An open letter to the LA City Council in support of the Mobility Plan 2035

Dear Councilmember Ryu and Honorable Councilmembers,

As a resident of the 4th Council District, and someone who walks, bikes, drives and uses transit throughout the City of Los Angeles, I strongly urge you to support passage of the Mobility Plan 2035 to increase safety on our streets, while encouraging alternative transportation, increasing livability and creating a more sustainable future for our city.

It is vital that we have a well-connected bicycle network, including protected bike lanes, bike friendly streets and other safety enhancements, in all parts of the city to encourage people to leave their cars at home and embrace alternative transportation methods to improve the health of both our city and its residents. Bike lanes have been repeatedly shown to reduce injury collisions for all road users by as much as 50% — protected bike lanes by up to 90% — while improving the livability and health of neighborhoods and commercial corridors, resulting in increased property values, commercial occupancy and business receipts.

Our city’s current reliance on automotive transportation is clearly unsustainable. Our streets are already at or near capacity, with little or no room to expand; even where expansion is possible, increasing capacity will only increase demand. We have no choice but to provide safe, viable and inviting alternatives to help remove some of those cars from the roads. It only takes a small reduction in traffic volume to create a significant reduction in traffic congestion.

There are currently no safe bike routes in or out of my neighborhood in Hollywood west of La Brea, with few bike lanes and only sharrows on a handful of streets, most of which are too heavily travelled by motor vehicles to accommodate the overwhelming majority of people on bicycles, not to mention the 65% of people who say they would like to bike more if they had safer alternatives. We desperately need both the east/west and north/south bike lanes contained in the plan to encourage people to commute to work and school, as well as ride to shopping or family recreation. And I need them for my own personal safety; even as an experienced bicyclist, I must ride in fear anytime I leave my home on my bicycle, and take extraordinary steps to ensure I’m seen by motorists, even in broad daylight.

I am also concerned by the unprecedented recommendation to remove bike lanes on Westwood Blvd from the Mobility Plan — after they were unanimously approved by a vote of the city council as part of the 2010 Bike Plan, which has been subsumed into the Mobility Plan, and which was part of a long public process leading to its approval. Westwood is one of the city’s most dangerous streets for people riding bikes, with over eight times as many bike-involved collisions as on similar streets in Los Angeles. Westwood is already heavily used as a commuter route by UCLA students, faculty and employees, as well as people who work along the boulevard and on the Wilshire corridor; this will only increase, perhaps dramatically, once the Westwood Expo Line station opens early next year. In addition, bike lanes could help revive the long declining commercial corridor along Westwood Blvd and bring more life to commercially failing Westwood Village.

I urge you to vote to adopt the Mobility Plan 2035 as written to ensure greater safety and livability for everyone who uses our streets.

Thank you for your consideration,

Ted Rogers

bikinginla.com

 

Morning Links: It’s Mobility Monday — contact your councilmember to support LA’s Mobility Plan as written

Today is Mobility Monday

A day designated to voice your support for the LA Mobility Plan 2035, which includes the hard fought bike plan passed unanimously by the city council in 2010. Yet that same plan is under attack by members of that same council, including some who voted for it just five years ago.

And yes, I’m looking at you, Paul Koretz.

We’ll let the LACBC explain, as I shamelessly lift from the coalition’s weekly newsletter.

Action Alert: Mobility Plan 2035 Goes to Committee On Tuesday and Needs Your Support

The long-awaited Mobility Plan 2035 is coming before a joint council committee hearing at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4th at City Hall Room 340 (Council Chambers). In the past several weeks, opponents have launched baseless attacks on the Plan’s bicycle and transit networks, with particular vengeance against proposed bike lanes on Westwood Blvd connecting to UCLA. The campaign was hot enough to get picked up by the Los Angeles TimesKPCC’s Airtalk, and UCLA Green Commuter Blog.

As reported by the Times, Councilmember Paul Koretz opposes these critically needed bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. Worse yet, he wants to remove them from the Mobility Plan, not just block the project from being installed. Such a move would be totally unprecedented and reverse nearly a decade’s worth of bicycle advocacy on the Westside.

The integrity of the Bicycle Plan itself is at stake. We need your help demonstrating the community’s strong support for a safer, more accessible streets in Los Angeles.

Take Action Now!

  1. Mark your calendar and come to the hearing at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4th at L.A. City Hall Room 340 (Council Chambers)
  2. Email the council committee: use the sample email at la-bike.org/mobilityplan
  3. Join us for another #MobilityMondayLA day of online action this Monday. For more info, go to: la-bike.org/mobilityplan

Below you’ll find the email address, where available, and Twitter handles for each of the councilmembers; you should be able to contact the councilmembers without public email addressed through their webpages.

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Cyclists aren’t even safe from drivers on the race course, as yet another pro racer has been taken out by an official vehicle; Greg Van Avermaet had a 15-second lead on a solo breakaway when a race moto ran him down from behind.

A British rider is the only one who didn’t know he’d just won the biggest race of his career.

And cycling has lost the lead when it comes to doping.

………

Too much sad news from the world of cycling this weekend.

Ghana’s top cyclist was killed in a traffic collision while training. A 22-year old women’s racer died from an apparent embolism while on route to a Women’s World Cup race. And a Colorado mountain biker died following a crash near the finish line of a Crested Butte Enduro race.

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Local

Richard Risemberg complains about being unable to get a sinkhole fixed, in a bike lane that doesn’t connect to anything.

 

State

A man was found dead in an Anaheim alley with his bicycle around 4 am Sunday; no word on whether he was riding his bike or if it just happened to be nearby. Hopefully, we’ll get more details in the next few days.

Who says cyclists aren’t tough? A former Marine from Escondido who lost both legs and part of his brain in an Afghan explosion just finished a 3,000 mile handcycle trip across the US.

Marin County parks officials are being trained to use radar guns to catch speeding cyclists on fire roads, despite the lack of posted speed limits.

 

National

Spokane cops bust twelve bike thieves with the help of a bait bike. On the other hand, when Chico cyclists tried to same thing, no one took the bait.

Boulder CO motorists declare the “right sizing” of a city street to add buffers to existing bike lanes a failure in the first week, rather than wait to see if it actually works; the local paper explains what all the markings mean. Meanwhile, a law professor at the local university says buffered bike lanes cause car collisions and encourage law breaking by bike riders, resulting in traffic congestion that will increase noxious emissions and greenhouse gases. And evidently, will basically lead to the end of life as we know it.

A letter writer from Pueblo CO says they should rip out that city’s bike lanes before it becomes a laughing stock for visitors, since there’s not a single bike lane in the UK or the rest of Europe. No, really, that’s what he said.

A Houston lawyer bikes across the country just to talk to people and figure out what makes America tick.

Two Iowa reporters created the world’s largest bike tour in the 70s because they wanted to ride across the state, and have their newspaper pay for it.

A Kansas City paper says the city needs to move faster to finish promised bike lanes.

Boston encourages people to park for free, and pedal the last few miles to work.

When Bono honored the woman who came to his aid following his bicycling wipeout in Central Park, New York concert goers booed her off the stage.

Bikes not guns, as 50 Baltimore men ride across the city calling for an end to violence.

A Virginia advocacy group mails a users guide to local residents explaining how sharrows work, four years after they were installed and the city neglected to do it.

This is why you never say you’re not hurt following a collision, as a 14-year old New Orleans boy is hospitalized with a brain bleed days after he and a friend were hit by a cabdriver while riding their bikes.

 

International

A new movie looks at how bad planning is the real cause for the conflict between bikes and cars.

Other children pitch in to raise funds to buy a special bike for a four-year old boy with cerebral palsy in Ottawa, Canada.

London drivers have a meltdown when roads are closed for a cycling event.

An Irish paper catches 22 rule breaking bike riders in just half an hour. No word on how many motorists broke the law in the same period, though.

Bangladesh factory workers beat a man to death for allegedly stealing a bicycle.

A passing plumber with a second-hand defibrillator saves the life of an Aussie cyclist who was having a heart attack.

Instead of improving safety on Western Australia streets, government councils want to let people ride on the sidewalk.

China discovers randonneuring thanks to the efforts of a single cyclist.

 

Finally…

A style website explains how to make a bike your best fashion accessory, because how you look with it is far more important than where it can take you. But if you really want to make a statement, try riding a Big Wheel to the first day of an NFL training camp.

And an eight-year old boy completes his first triathlon, despite suffering from cerebral palsy.

Now then, what was your excuse?

Update: 23-year old Newport Beach e-bike rider died after colliding with parked van

A bike rider has died after he was critically injured while riding in Newport Beach Sunday afternoon.

According to the Orange County Register, 23-year old Corona del Mar resident Jonathan Wilson died about an hour after he collided with a parked minivan.

The paper reports the collision occurred around 1:27 PM at 1801 Bayside Drive, while Corona del Mar Today places the location further up the road near the intersection of Bayside and El Paseo Dr.

Matching photos from the scene with a street view suggest he was riding north on Bayside, in between the two locations.

No explanation is given for how or why he hit the van.

Photos accompanying the Register story show a mountain bike lying near the curb, with the back of the van in badly damaged. That suggests Wilson somehow hit it at a high rate of speed, which is surprising given the flat road surface.

Even though the road has sharrows, the impact point on the van is just to the left of the curb. So the question becomes why he was riding so close to the curb, and how he reached a high enough speed to cause so much damage.

And whether he didn’t see the row of parked cars directly ahead of him, or was forced to the right in some way.

Unless a witness turns up, we may never know.

This is the 40th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in Orange County. That compares with 57 in SoCal this time last year, and 12 in the county.

Wilson also the 11th cyclist killed in Newport Beach in the past five years, and second to die in a solo crash in the city in just the last two weeks.

Update: According to the Newport Beach Police Department, Wilson was riding an electric bike, would could explain the force of impact evident from the damage to the minivan. 

He was initially found conscious and responsive, while suffering from numerous lacerations. 

And no, he was not wearing a helmet.

Update 2: Corona del Mar Today cites a police spokesperson as saying neither drugs or alcohol appeared to be a factor, and it did not appear that Wilson was forced into the van by another vehicle.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jonathan Wilson and all his loved ones.

 

Weekend Links: OC hit-and-run driver to face trial; parking meter bike racks approved for Westwood, but not lanes

Apparently, justice delayed is not justice denied after all.

At least not in Orange County.

Nearly two years ago, 19-year old Manuel Morales Rodriguez was his riding bike on Missile Way in Anaheim when he was struck by a semi-truck driven by 49-year old Filemon Reynaga as he was pulling out of a driveway.

Reynaga dragged Morales Rodriguez and his bike under his truck onto Orangethorpe Ave, leaving him lying in the street where he was struck by another vehicle. There’s no way to tell which one struck the fatal blow, but Morales Rodriguez might have had a chance at survival if Reynaga has stopped as the law, and human decency, dictate.

Reynaga is scheduled to go on trial Monday, charged with felony hit and run causing death and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. He faces up to four years if he’s convicted.

And the OC DA’s office has a good track record of getting convictions and serious jail time in traffic cases.

 

Filemon Reynaga trialThanks to OC cyclist and attorney Edward Rubinstein for the heads-up. That’s Rubinstein with an I, not an E, as I bone-headedly spelled it in an earlier post.

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Westwood Village points out that it’s technically illegal to lock a bike to a parking meter in Los Angeles, though the law is seldom enforced.

The reminder was made after the city council approved a motion to install bike racks on over 100 parking meters in the village, at the urging of Westside councilmember Paul Koretz. Never mind that they could have just changed the law to allow locking up to meters.

So evidently, Koretz supports bike parking in Westwood, just not safe ways to get there.

Be A Green Commuter looks at the needless controversy over bike lanes on Westwood Blvd through the eyes of UCLA students who have to ride it, dangerous or not. And describes the dispute as “a handful of anachronistic curmudgeons and an LA City Councilmember pitted against transportation experts, UCLA and many Westwood businesses.”

Meanwhile, Joel Epstein calls out Koretz for caving into the demands of “a handful of NIMBYs who haven’t gone out without their car since LA hosted the Olympics.”

And since he broached the subject, Forbes examines just how much NIMBYism costs us.

………

On a related subject, the LA Mobility Plan is scheduled to come up before a joint session of the city council’s Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management committees on Tuesday.

Some of the bikeways, such as Westwood and North Figueroa, are under attack in an unprecedented attempt to remove them from the bike plan, which was already unanimously approved by the city council and incorporated into the Mobility Plan.

If approved bikeway plans that were developed as part of an extensive public process are allowed to be removed at the whim of individual councilmembers and others who failed to participate in the process, the whole thing becomes meaningless.

As a result, a coalition of advocacy groups have designated this Monday as Mobility Monday, urging you to contact your councilmembers to urge them to approve the plan as written.

You’ll find email addresses and a sample email at the link above.

And if you’re free on Tuesday afternoon, drop by City Hall to let them know how you really feel.

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Great news from the BMC racing team, as Taylor Phinney and Peter Stetina, both badly injured in horrific bike racing wrecks, will make their comebacks in next week’s Tour of Utah.

Maybe they’re onto something in the UK. Just a week after British rider Chris Froome won the Tour de France, a pair of Brit road riders take gold in the Special Olympics.

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Local

LADOT Bike Blog says corridors and plazas are the malls of the future. Like this car-free plaza that just opened in Pacoima, for instance.

CicLAvia presents a neighborhood guide to the Culver City Meets Venice open streets event coming up a just a week from Sunday. Hopefully, we’ll have the Militant Angeleno’s guide by then, too.

CiclaValley says LA’s first bike park could be coming to the Valley.

The LACBC’s monthly Sunday Funday ride takes a family friendly roll through Lakewood this Sunday, led by board president Steve Boyd.

 

State

San Diego’s new bikeshare program may be off to a bumpy start.

The chair of the San Diego Bicycle Advisory Committee explains how improving bicycling conditions will benefit the city and its residents.

The local paper suggests that giving 60 Coachella Valley kids refurbished bikes abandoned on the local bus system could lead to culture change.

Cyclelicious discusses public safety and bike commuting after an Antioch cyclist is mugged while riding home from work.

The San Francisco Police Department has officially revised their deadly driving campaign to target people walking and biking who, unlike dangerous drivers, pose little risk to others around them. Meanwhile, the SF Weekly looks at what happens when bike riders follow the letter of the law.

 

National

USA Today names the nation’s top 10 beachfront bike rides; our own Marvin Braude trail, stretching 22 miles from Palos Verdes to Pacific Palisades, tops the list.

A Portland paper offers advice for riding in a heat wave as Pacific Northwest cyclists face temperatures in the 100s.

Oddly, a bike helmet didn’t keep a Spokane cyclist from suffering a serious spinal injury in a solo fall; a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with medical expenses.

Bicycle Colorado says three is the magic number when it comes to traffic lanes and road diets.

Minnesota Public Radio asks what will it take to get you to put your damn phone down while driving, while Georgia cops pose as construction workers to nab texting drivers. Maybe the LAPD, LASD, and CHP et al could take a page from the Georgia playbook; thanks to F3nugr33k for the heads-up.

Bike commuting is up a whopping 400% in Pittsburgh, despite the usual arguments over bike lanes versus parking. Nice way to bury the lede, though.

Philly’s bikeshare system may take a back seat to His Holiness, even though the pope is a bike rider himself.

It looks like some of New York’s bike lanes are being allowed to fade to black.

 

International

People for Bikes says Canada is leaving the US in the dust when it comes to protected bike lanes; separated lanes helped Vancouver reach its goal of half of all trips being made by bike, foot or transit.

News is just coming out of a horrifying case of vigilante murder in Hamilton, Ontario, as a driver deliberately stalked and ran down a bike rider in the mistaken belief he was a pedophile; police still haven’t solved the case despite keeping a lid on it for two years.

Caught on video: A road raging British driver chases a bike rider after being called out for a close pass, and takes a tumble in the street.

Bicycling is going upscale in the UK as part of a luxury lifestyle. Try telling that to the people who rely on a bike for transportation instead of an expensive fashion accessory.

A Brit rider is fined the equivalent of nearly $1300 for riding off after plowing into a toddler. And deservedly so.

A government minister for the Isle of Man calls for the equivalent of a nearly five-foot passing law after a driver walks away with a suspended sentence for killing a cyclist.

More on Munich’s plans for a series of radschnellverbindungen, the equivalent of bike autobahns spreading across the city like a spider. No, really, look at the map.

A study from an Australian university identifies the most dangerous intersections for cyclists in Perth. No one knows the most dangerous intersections for bike riders in LA, because the city has never bothered to find out.

 

Finally…

A cyclist admits what so many drivers already think — we’re just here to fuck with them. A Chicago gas station owner would probably agree, as the bike-riding residents of the Wicker Park neighborhood force him out of business.

And maybe drones could be used to make sure you straighten up and ride right on your next group ride.

 

Morning Links: The Feds look at road diets, including three LA area case studies, though LADOT’s stats falls flat

The Federal Highway Administration offers a fascinating series of road diet case studies from across the country — including three from the LA area.

  • Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Blvd road diet resulted in a remarkable 65% reduction in collisions, and a 60% reduction in injury crashes — without increasing congestion as measured by average speeds, or any measurable spillover in the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Adding bike lanes to Pasadena’s Cordova Street increased bicycle traffic and reduced speeding by drivers, without reducing level of service for drivers or pedestrians; there was also a slight decrease in collisions and injuries.
  • On the other hand, the road diet on LA’s 7th Street highlights LADOT’s failure to keep statistics before or after making changes to the streets. They had to rely on the LACBC’s volunteer bike count to show bicycle traffic tripled along the corridor; they also received “positive feedback from users” and found “satisfactory” results from an analysis of traffic at key intersections.

It’s LADOT’s failure to keep any kind of traffic safety stats that allows councilmembers like Gil Cedillo and Paul Koretz, as well as recently departed Tom LaBonge, to weasel out of much-needed safety and livability improvements in their districts, since no one can prove they’re really needed.

And the city can’t demonstrate the success of road changes that have already been made in other areas in any meaningful way.

Hopefully, that’s changing under new traffic maven Seleta Reynolds and Mayor Garcetti’s commitment to stat-based accountability.

But it can’t change soon enough.

………

After getting the year off to a great start by winning the Giro, followed by a tough Tour, Alberto Contador calls it quits for the season. And he didn’t even do it on a 1970s chopper bike.

World cycling chief Brian Cookson is worried about hooliganism at the Tour de France after winner Chris Froome was insulted, spit on and splashed with urine. Seriously, it’s just a matter of time before a rider is seriously injured — or worse — by a crazed “fan,” to use that word loosely.

Cycling’s elite riders are coming to North America this summer, starting with the Tour of Utah next week and culminating in September’s world championships in Richmond VA.

But will any of them will be sampling the new EPO substitute that anyone can get online?

………

Local

Streetsblog wants to know if LA is giving the wrong sign for blocked bike lanes.

KPCC looks at the winners of the mayor’s Great Streets grants; there appear to be more street parties in our future.

Speaking of Great Streets, Flying Pigeon thanks Councilmember José Huizar for the pedestrian oriented makeover of Broadway in DTLA. Nice to see someone on the city council who actually gets it, and is willing to make changes that benefit the public instead of blocking them.

Boyonabike says Pasadena’s newly resurfaced Sierra Madre Villa Blvd coulda, woulda, shoulda have bike lanes.

CORBA offers an updated page on off-road trail etiquette. Really, it doesn’t take much to avoid confrontations on the trails. And everyone wins when you make the effort.

Santa Monica bans private bike parking at their still-unbuilt bikeshare kiosks.

SaMo is holding a workshop next week on re-envisioning Lincoln Blvd south of I-10, which could use a lot of improvement. Back in the bad old days, the street was listed as a Class 3 bike route in an apparent attempt to thin the herd.

Walk Bike Burbank hosts the Midnight Ramble Ride on Saturday.

 

State

The OC Foothills Bikeways Collaborative wants your vote to prioritize bikeway improvements in the county.

Evidently bike theft is a family affair in Seal Beach, as a snatched bike leads to a brawl with the thief’s relatives.

No bias here. After a teenage fixie rider suffers severe head injuries in a collision, San Diego police say they don’t know who had the right-of-way. But blame the victim anyway.

The San Diego Association of Governments will build a bike and pedestrian bridge to connect the Escondido Transit Center with a shopping center anchored by Barnes & Noble. Apparently people who use transit, walk and bike still read books made from dead trees down there.

If you were planning to ride through Camp Pendleton on Saturday, forget it; a shuttle will be available for riders who have to cross the base.

San Francisco cyclists call for adoption of the Idaho Stop law in California, which would allow bike riders to treat stop signs like yields; a supervisor for the city backs the law change. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the Idaho stop law has been shown to improve safety for bicyclists. And it would legalize what most bike riders — and most drivers, for that matter — already do.

Meanwhile, San Francisco bike riders show how following the letter of the law by coming to a full stop slows traffic for everyone; Streetsblog deems it an effective spectacle.

The 10,000 member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has proven itself to be a potent force in influencing city elections, faces a dispute over the balance between member privacy and democratic board elections.

San Raphael is putting the final touches on a $1.6 million shared path through the downtown area.

 

National

Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez is one of us. So are the Green Bay Packers.

A cyclist files a $13.5 million suit against an Arizona county over a dangerous bike lane design that led to him being seriously injured in a collision.

Seems like other states take hit-and-run a lot more seriously than California does. A Montana man is being held on $350,000 bond for fleeing the scene after critically injuring a pedestrian and tampering with evidence.

A Kansas man faces a charge of second degree reckless murder in the death of a college professor participating in a time trial last month.

Tragic news from Oklahoma, as a Florida man riding cross country to raise funds for affordable housing was killed by a distracted driver; a second rider was airlifted with a leg injury.

The Minneapolis StarTribune looks at the intersection of camping and biking.

A Connecticut cop responds to a report of kids fighting, and ends up fixing a broken bike chain.

Gothamist asks if New York is leaving bike lanes and the people who ride them behind in their Vision Zero plans.

Florida bicyclists want a little space on Palm Beach bridges.

 

International

An Alberta paper says a recent dooring death shows the need to improve safety and infrastructure for bicyclists.

A Quebec writer says mandating bike helmets may not be a good idea; shockingly, a bike helmet maker backed the idea before backing off the next day.

Cycling Weekly asks if carbon soled bike shoes are really necessary. Considering the footwear of choice for bike riders in my neighborhood appears to canvas sneakers, I’m going to say no.

The Guardian looks at how Groningen in the Netherlands set the standard for bicycling cities back in the 1970s.

A London rider asks “what’s life without a little risk?” after recovering from a fall when he was cut off by an apparently self-driving Prius.

Portugal tells government employees to get out of their cars and on their bikes.

 

Finally…

Evidently, posh cyclists ride salmon in bike lanes while sipping espresso. A self-described bike guy learns to love cycling; presumably, he hated it before but rode anyway. Maybe you want to take a bike tour of North Korea before you get captured and killed. Or you might become a dictator’s best friend like Dennis Rodman.

And since when do bike riders take UV-busting fashion cues from Donald Sterling’s self-professed non-girlfriend?

No. Just… no.

……..

Let’s offer a round of thanks to BikinginLA sponsors Jim Pocrass and Josh Cohen; their support makes this site possible. 

And thank you to everyone who has contributed to support this site. You help keep it, and me, going.

 

Juries, Judges and Your Bike Crash

Bikes Have Rights™
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP 

Jury box

This may well be the most controversial blog post I’ll ever write. It’s likely that many of you are going to hate reading this. Some of you will tell me that what I say here isn’t fair and that I’m blaming the victim.

Be assured, I’ve represented many bicycle riders in bike crashes and I know as well or better than anyone how the system is stacked against them. As to fairness, well, it isn’t fair that I don’t have the same head of hair that I had as a younger man either, but that’s the way it is.

What I’m going to tell you is the hard truth. It’s not fair, but it IS an undeniable, regrettable fact: many people have strong, negative feelings about cyclists. If you are in a bike crash and it goes to trial, the judge and/or jurors will probably not be cyclists.

Though the people on your jury and the judge presiding over your trial have probably encountered hundreds – if not thousands – of law-abiding bicyclists, those aren’t who they remember. They remember the helmetless cyclist who cut them off or rode through a red light and saluted them with a middle finger as they blew by. It’s always that “one” ne’er-do-well who people remember.

The U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmark Report, commissioned by People for Bikes, reported that though the number of Americans ages 3+ who rode a bicycle last year is larger than had been previously thought, 30% of these cyclists rode 5 days or fewer in 2014.

The chance of getting a cyclist on your jury or a judge is probably even worse when you add the number of seniors who willingly sit on juries. (Think of that the next time you attempt to get out of jury duty or complain about being called for jury duty.)

The result is that the judge and jurors, more than likely, are going to be people who are biased against cyclists. When I am questioning potential jurors in a bicycle case, some of the most common comments I get from people are:

  • Bike riders ride recklessly, not stopping at red lights or stop signs.
  • Bike riders should ride on the sidewalk and stay out of traffic.
  • Bike riders ride too fast on the sidewalk.
  • Bike riders ride in car lanes, sometimes side-by-side or as a group, which interferes with traffic.
  • Roads are for cars, not bikes.

You know all this. If these things have never been said to your face, you’ve read them in comments on articles and posts on social media.

These are the people who are going to decide your legal case. Their inclination is going to be to blame YOU – the cyclist – for your own “accident.” Furthermore, insurance adjustors and defense attorneys know this, and they are going to cater to this bias.

It would be nice if more people understood the rules of the road. “Fair” doesn’t enter into the equation. In a trial, we have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt, and in most bike crash trials, it’s contending with the prejudice against our cyclist client.

To be successful in trial it is critical for your trial lawyer to understand how people perceive you. As a trial lawyer, I have numerous strategies I utilize to attempt either to overcome this bias or to focus the jurors on the person the cyclist is, not his/her activity. I want the juror to see the cyclist as a person who has more in common with the jurors than s/he has different. An experienced trial lawyer utilizes specific strategies in every part of the trial, from jury selection at the beginning of the trial to how jury instructions are crafted near the end of the trial, and everything in-between.

I believe we can change these preconceptions, but it isn’t easy, and it isn’t going to happen tomorrow, next month, or even next year.

As a cyclist – whether you ride for recreation or as a commuter – you can be part of the solution. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Join the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and your local bicycle advocacy organization. Even better, get involved. These people are on the frontline of change. At the very least, sign up for the LACBC’s e-newsletter (no membership required) and join these advocacy organizations’ Facebook pages. (And in a shameful plug, “friend” the FB Pocrass & De Los Reyes Bicycle Law page, too.)
  1. I suggested above that you join your local advocacy organization. Many of these are chapters of LACBC, all of them work together. Almost all cities have such organizations, including Claremont, Pomona, the Eastside, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Santa Clarita, and many more.
  1. Join the California Bicycle Coalition, our state-wide organization that is instrumental in lobbying for biking conditions and laws for California cyclists.
  1. Get involved with SAFE (Streets are for Everyone). The nonprofit advocates for changes in the law to make streets safe for bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, and everyone else.
  1. Know and follow the Rules of the Road. The LACBC has a wonderful wallet-sized brochure that explains what these are. They are available at every event attended by the LACBC. The organization also is offering FREE bicycle safety classes through the end of September throughout the Southland. Don’t be that one cyclist who will be burned into the brain of those who come in contact with him/her for his/her bad behavior.
  1. Cyclists over the age of 18 are not required by law to wear a helmet when they ride. We strongly urge you to wear one, regardless of your age. The obvious reason for wearing a helmet is that it very likely increases your chances of surviving or limiting brain injury should you crash. A less obvious reason is that not wearing one adds to the jurors’ and judge’s biases that you SHOULD HAVE BEEN wearing a helmet and if you had been wearing one, it would have protected you so your injuries “are your own fault.” (Don’t kill the messenger, please. I said I was going to talk reality here.)
  1. Think before you post on social media. Specifically, insurance companies and defense attorneys troll your social media accounts to see what can be used against you. What you write on social media will come back if you’re ever a plaintiff in a jury trial. Generally, furious posts filled with expletives (I understand the urge, believe me), reinforce non-cyclists’ attitudes about the “arrogance” of cyclists.
  1. Educate the non-cyclists you know. Back up your arguments with facts and statistics. Try to be calm and rational in the discussion, but the one-on-one discussions are the best way to change perceptions. Remember, no one goes out to kill someone with their car (okay, almost no one), but most drivers are angry because they’re scared. No one taught them how to share the road. No one taught them how to drive sharing the road with a cyclist. You can say that’s not your problem, but the truth is, it’s everybody’s problem.

Often when I read bikinginla.com and see the slap on the wrist so many drivers get for hitting cyclists, I am frustrated by the slowness of the process to eliminate cyclist bias. But it’s coming, and by working together, I believe we can make it happen.


 

Jim Pocrass Trimmed

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

For more than 30 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com or visit www.pocrass.com.

 

 

Morning Links: Busting on Beverly Hills and its San Diego soulmates, and a Chitown writer busts on bikes

Just too much to catch up on after yesterday’s breaking news.

So hold on to your handlebars, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

………

Looks like everyone is condemning Beverly Hills for their shortsighted, misguided and wrong-headed refusal to put bike lanes on the soon-to-be-rebuilt Santa Monica Blvd; even a realty website is getting in on the act.

And its a 70’s era traffic planning blast from the past from their like-minded contemporaries in Carlsbad, as the local Planning Commission says roads are for cars, and they’re tired of hearing about bikes. Thanks to The Editors for the heads-up.

………

Evidently desperate for click bait, a bike-hating Chicago writer calls people on bikes “reckless terrorists,” and “rude, vulgar and violently intimidating” “imbecile muff monkeys.” And says bicyclists should be forced to carry a special ID at all times, and face fines up to $1000 and a year in jail just for riding on the sidewalk.

No, really, that’s what he said.

………

VeloNews lists five winners and losers from the just completed Tour de France. And Bicycling finishes their long, long five-part story on who punched the great Eddy Merckx. Did I say it was long?

………

Local

Hats off to Streetsblog guest writer Michael Fleming, who calls out Westside Councilmember Paul Koretz for his hypocritical support for fighting climate change while blocking bike lanes on Westwood Blvd.

The LACBC is hosting a feeder ride to the RevisitReseda Blvd celebration this Thursday.

Metro is holding a series of weekly contests asking people illustrate how you walk or bike instead.

The Pomona Valley Bicycle Club is hosting a Bicycle Photo Scavenger Hunt next week.

 

State

Our old friend Rick Bernardi looks at the problem of cyclists getting buzzed by CHP officers, and cops who don’t know bike laws. Or care.

An El Cajon cyclist was seriously injured in a hit-and-run crash; police are looking for an older, grey 3-Series BMW.

A Las Vegas writer rides San Diego’s coastal North County.

A day after a Hollister boy was killed by a bus while riding his bike, local restaurants pitch in to raise funds for the victim’s family, and a Hollister councilwoman bemoans kids riding and skating without helmets — even though she has no idea if the victim was wearing one.

Evidently, getting dragged from your home and beaten by San Francisco police for the crime of biking on the sidewalk while black is only worth a $20,000 settlement.

San Francisco police ticket bike riders for squeezing past a several-block queue of backed-up cars on the left, even though there’s no valid alternative for it, and even though lane splitting is legal in California. In a brilliant move, cyclists plan to protest the police crackdown by riding legally en masse.

No bias here. A Bay Area website says a cyclist riding downhill was injured when he crashed into the windshield of a car.

A 61-year old Sacramento cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run.

A Chico man confronts bike thieves with his own vigilante bait bike program.

 

National

It’s the 30th anniversary of many people’s favorite bike movie. So here are 20 things you didn’t know about Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

The National Law Review considers one of the burning questions of jurisprudence: How often should your bike helmet be replaced.

A Portland bike shop employee spots a stolen track bike, wrestles it from the thief and the thief into submission, all before the police arrive.

Caught on video: A Seattle bike rider captures the hit-and-run driver who left crossed him on his helmet cam; not only did the driver flee the scene, but he was caught looking at his phone as he turned. A Minnesota writer responds by questionng if a safe bike ride is too much to ask. Thanks to @BrianMScott for the heads-up.

A dump truck driver from my hometown faces a vehicular homicide charge for attempting to pass a bike rider despite a double yellow line, then cutting back because of oncoming traffic, trapping the victim under his truck.

Boulder CO says not so fast on right-sizing those streets to make room for separated bike lanes; they want to see how the first one works out first.

San Antonio TX wants more hikers and bikers, and less motor vehicle traffic. Well, who doesn’t? Aside from Beverly Hills and Carlsbad, of course.

A Chicago woman is suing another bike rider for causing a three-bike pileup on a bike path. Proof you’re not always safe even when you’re protected from cars.

Anyone can tell you how to keep from getting hurt on your bike; an Indiana TV station offers tips on avoiding injuries after a long bike ride.

An Albany NY website says a new protected bike lane is for all kinds of people, and that the city’s first one shouldn’t be the last. They’re preaching to the choir.

A New York advocate says bike lanes should be a default feature of street designs under the city’s Vision Zero Plan. The same goes for LA’s Vision Zero, which is supposed to be officially announced next month.

This is why you never lock your bike to a tree, as a Brooklyn bike thief chopped down a 25-foot tree to get the bike chained to it. Not only did the cyclist lose his bike, but the rat bastard killed the damn tree in the process.

A Pennsylvania cyclist is behind bars pending trial for the crime of obstructing traffic by riding in the lane, and getting pissed off when impatient drivers tried to pass him. Since when are traffic violations a criminal offense? And unless he threatened or attacked motorists, swearing was protected by the First Amendment, last I heard.

Philadelphia plans to sweep away abandoned bikes so they won’t besmirch the streets when bike-riding Pope Francis comes to call. Meanwhile, a Philly lawyer offers a detailed look at the problems faced by bicyclists and pedestrians in the city, and what can be done about it short of papal intervention.

A new policy passed by hard-hearted city officials in Durham NC requires ghost bikes to be removed after just 45 days, or even sooner if someone complains; not surprisingly, friends and relatives of bicycling victims object.

Thanks to a law change, it’s legal to ride without holding on to your handlebars in Florida. Shouting “Look ma, no hands!” remains optional.

 

International

A new Canadian study confirms that traffic lanes 10 to 10.5 feet wide improve safety at intersections, while still allowing traffic to move efficiently.

No bias here, either. A Calgary website calls the victim of a hit-and-run a “pedestrian,” but the driver who may have killed her is a “person.”

Caught on video: A Toronto pedestrian kicks a cyclist’s bike and punches him in the face after the rider collided with him on a shared waterfront pathway.

Three Ontario sisters are stopped by police for riding their bikes topless; after pointing out that it’s legal in the province, the cop says he was really just doing a light and bell check. Right.

Evidently, life is cheap in the UK, as a British driver who killed a cyclist on the Isle of Man walks away — literally, perhaps — with a suspended sentence and a three-year driving ban. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

A road raging Brit cop is accused of knocking a cyclist off his bike, then throwing him into a store window. Then again, it goes both ways, as London police are looking for the road raging bike rider who attacked a driver with a glass bottle; the victim appears to have survived getting whacked in the knee.

Caught on video: A motorcyclist catches a London woman somehow managing to drive while simultaneously talking on the phone and eating cereal.

The Dutch are riding further after getting a boost from their e-bikes.

New Zealand parents are rightfully upset after their six-year old son isn’t allowed to bring his bike onto an otherwise empty bus.

More proof cyclists are tough. An Aussie man rides his bike home after being stabbed by a woman.

 

Finally…

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. An Ohio man fled from the coppers on his bike after stealing two rolls of copper, and was caught after getting hit by a car making his escape. If you’re going to flee the scene on a bike you pulled out of the trunk of the stolen car you just crashed into a telephone pole, it helps if you’re sober enough to ride it.

And one last caught on video, as a Brazilian cyclist takes a car parked in a bike lane into his own hands. Literally.

 

Update: 36 year old bike rider killed in Newport Coast

Sadly, another bike rider has died days after she was injured, in a case that hasn’t made the news.

According to the Orange County Coroner’s office, 36-year old Monterey Park resident Yeny Vergara was injured when she came off her bike around midnight last Wednesday, at 35 Crystal Cove in Newport Coast.

Vergara OC Coroner

She died just after noon on Saturday; no cause of death is given.

A satellite view of the location shows a narrow roadway turning to a dirt road as it leads to the beach. However, it’s possible that she was riding on PCH or bike path next to it, and the coroner simply gave the closest street address.

Unfortunately, no other information is available at this time.

The age and city of residence match a 36-year old master’s racer who has competed in several Southern California races this year. However, that is unconfirmed at this time, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

This is the 39th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County.

Update: A response from the Newport Beach Police Department indicates her fall occurred on state property on the trails deep within the Crystal Cove State Park near the 73 Freeway. The NB Fire Department responded to the call as the closest agency; police never responded since it was reported as strictly a medical call. 

No word on whether she fell, had a medical issue, or collided with another rider, although the latter would seem unlikely if her injury occurred at the late night hour indicated by the coroner. 

Update 2: The Orange County Register reports that Vergara was apparently injured in a fall while riding on the Elevator Trail around 3:45 pm on the 22nd, rather than midnight as the coroner’s report listed. 

She was found lying unconscious on the trail, suffering from an obvious head wound despite wearing a helmet.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Yeny Vergara and all her family.

Thanks to Bill Sellin and Lois for the heads-up.

 

Anaheim Hills bike rider died from solo fall last year; his family makes moving video calling for helmet use

Too often, when a bike rider is seriously injured, it never makes the news. Especially if there’s not a car involved.

Even if it does, there’s seldom any word on what happens after that; no one other than family and friends usually know if the victim bounces back or suffers permanent injuries, or worse.

That’s what happened last year in Anaheim Hills, when bike rider died a month after he was injured in a solo fall.

According to the Orange County Register, 25-year old Gary Lofgren died in an Orange County hospital last October after falling while riding to a park to play football with friends.

A heartbreaking Facebook page created by his sister adds more information.

Lofgren was just two blocks from his home when he fell while riding downhill on September 20th. A neighbor heard him crash as he fell into some trash cans, and ran out to see him try to stand before collapsing hard onto the street.

That was 19 years to the day after his father died.

He was hospitalized with multiple brain bleeds as well as a fracture. And died exactly one month later, apparently without regaining consciousness, a few days after he was taken off life support.

And no, he was not wearing a helmet.

With the help of two friends, his family made a very moving video showing just how much they have lost. And calling for cyclists to wear helmets to keep others from suffering the same fate.

If you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you may know that I never ride without a helmet. But I am also aware of their limitations.

Bike helmets aren’t designed to protect against high speed collisions, where the force of impact can exceed their design capacity. They aren’t a substitute for riding safely, and should be seen as the last line of defense when all else fails.

But relatively slow speed falls like this are exactly what they are designed for.

A bike helmet is a cheap form of insurance against traumatic brain injury, as I know all too well. In 30 plus years of riding, I have only needed my helmet once; in that case, it probably saved my life.

Whether or not to wear one is your choice, as it should be. But like losing weight or giving up smoking, it’s something you do as much for those you’d leave behind, as much as you do for your own benefit.

As this video drives home quietly, and powerfully.

This raises the number of bicycling fatalities in Southern California last year to 86, with 20 in Orange County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Gary Lofgren and all his loved ones.

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