Morning Links: San Diego police blame bike mob; unconfirmed report of bicycling fatality on PCH in Malibu

No bias here.

Not from the press. And certainly not from the San Diego Police Department.

According to San Diego’s ABC 10 News, a female driver called 911 to report a “mob” of nine or ten bicyclists had chased her down and smashed her car window.

It must have seemed frightening to the people huddled at home watching the broadcast.

But the real story is hidden in the details.

The bike riders were using the sharrows in the city’s Normal Heights neighborhood when the driver came up behind them and began harassing them by honking nonstop, which is a violation of California law. Even though they were exactly where they were supposed to be.

She then broke the law again by passing too close, striking one of the bikes; fortunately, the rider was able to jump off just in time to avoid serious injury.

The riders then chased down the hit-and-run driver as she dragged the bike for several blocks, banging on her window in an attempt to get her attention and keep her from fleeing the scene.

Pedestrians and other motorists are often called heroes when they stop a fleeing driver under similar circumstances.

Instead, these riders were portrayed as a crazed mob, and threatened with prosecution on vandalism charges for punching and kicking the car.

So it’s okay for the driver to mangle a bike after running down the rider. But not for riders to break a window, apparently inadvertently, in an effort to make her stop.

Got it.

Police refused to even ticket, let alone arrest, the woman, despite obvious violations for

  1. harassing the cyclists
  2. breaking state law governing the use of a horn
  3. violating the three-foot passing law
  4. destruction of property
  5. failing to stop and exchange information following a collision

And yet somehow, she’s portrayed as the victim, with the people on bikes her attackers.

It’s sadly reminiscent of a case that marked the first stirrings of the bicycle rights movement here in Los Angeles.

Andres Tena was riding with a group of friends in the spring of 2009 when they were confronted by an impatient Hummer driver, who attempted to flee the scene after striking Tena’s bike and injuring him enough to require hospitalization. The other riders chased the driver down and blocked his way; in response, they were threatened with an unseen gun before the driver ran over their bikes in an effort to escape.

When police arrived, they somehow concluded that Tena had crashed into the side of the Hummer — which would have required backing into it at a high rate of speed, since he was thrown forward by the impact and suffered significant damage to the rear of his bike.

And that the driver was justified in attempting to flee, because he was frightened by all those scary bike riders, despite being safely ensconced within his multi-ton urban assault vehicle.

The cop on the scene took it a step further, saying if the cyclists had surrounded him like that, he would have done the same thing the Hummer driver did.

In fact, the only criminal prosecution that was even contemplated was a misdemeanor charge against a cyclist for “throwing his bike at the Hummer.”

Funny how some things never change.

It took years of sometimes difficult negotiations, but now LA’s bicycling community has a much better relationship with the LAPD than we did back in the dark days of just six short years ago.

But clearly, San Diego police haven’t gotten the memo.

And as this case clearly shows, they have a long way to go before cyclists can feel like they have the same support from law enforcement that drivers have come to expect, and are considered equal road users rather than two-wheeled pirates.

None of us are safe on the streets if we can’t count on the police to be there when we need them. And to do it fairly, without an obvious — and repugnant — windshield bias.

According to a tweet from BikeSD, they’re working with the San Diego Bicycle Coalition to arrange legal representation for the bike riders.

They may need it.

And sadly, the angry hit-and-run driver who started it all won’t.

………

The publisher of the Malibu Times mentioned Tuesday that a bike rider had been killed on PCH near Busch Drive, but didn’t have any details.

However, the report cannot be confirmed at this time.

There have been no other reports in the press, and repeated web searches have turned up empty. And there has been no response yet to a request for information from the CHP.

Meanwhile, he goes on to criticize cyclists for riding with inadequate lighting on their bikes. While he has a point, it is irresponsible to bring it up in response to the unconfirmed report of the bicycling fatality without knowing if a lack of lights had anything to do with it.

Or if it even happened.

It’s no better than if someone went off on a rant against speeding, texting drivers after hearing about a traffic collision without knowing if those were contributing factors in the wreck.

Yes, we should all ensure that we are visible to those we share the road with, especially after dark or in the late dusk or early morning hours when it can be most difficult to see.

But it’s wrong to imply, intentionally or not, that it may have had anything to do with a wreck that can’t even be confirmed.

………

I don’t even know what to think about this.

TMZ reports the DA’s office is unlikely to file charges against Caitlyn Jenner for a fatal collision on PCH last February, since they wouldn’t even file charges against the sheriff’s deputy who killed Milt Olin while using his onboard computer.

………

Just like anyone else, Alejandro Valverde used Google to plan his route to victory in stage four of the Vuelta.

And after the Feds drop fraud charges against the other disgraced former Tour de France champ, Floyd Landis — remember him? — still has to repay nearly half a million dollars to the 1,700 people who donated to his defense fund when he was still pretending he hadn’t doped.

………

Local

A Texas study says LA has the second worst traffic in the US, costing commuters 80 hours a year lost to traffic delays. To which bike commuters respond, “So?”.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton talks Vision Zero with LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds in the latest #DamienTalks podcast.

For those who read español, a nice profile of Carlos Morales and the Eastside Bike Club; Morales saved his own life by losing 250 pounds riding a bike, and now works to spread the gospel of bikes and health to others. For those who don’t, Google Translate offers a passable translation.

 

State

Congratulations to the newly announced Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Southern California, including Santa Monica ad agency Ruben Postaer and Assoc, Giant Santa Monica bike shop, and the San Diego Association of Governments.

San Diego police bust a bike-riding bank robber. Or maybe they just assume everyone on a bike is a criminal.

Apparently, not everyone in Coronado opposes a bike path along the beach. Nice to see a rational, non-NIMBY response for a change.

The El Cerrito Planning Commission approves an Active Transportation Plan, including bike boulevards, traffic calming on narrow streets and a bike route providing access to the Bay Trail surrounding the San Francisco Bay.

 

National

Bicycling offers tips on how to avoid helmet hair, as well as advice on meditating to get more out of bicycling. Meditation will also improve your health. And life. Trust me.

A Utah man is ordered to pay a whopping $8,000 restitution for intentionally running down a man on a bike over a property dispute. Twice.

Turns out that despite vocal opposition, 57% of Boulder CO residents support the right-sizing of a city street to make room for protected bike lanes; bike traffic is up 38% in just the first three weeks, while average vehicle speeds have dropped from 39 mph to 37 mph — in a 30 mph zone.

Colorado transportation officials plan to improve bicycle safety on a major street by turning it into a high speed virtual freeway and forcing bikes off it. Memo to Colorado DOT: The auto-centric ‘70s are over.

In a bizarre assault, a Boise man who was driving erratically shouted at a bike rider at an intersection, then made a U-turn, drove up on the sidewalk and punched the rider in the face before driving over his bicycle.

A Wisconsin driver faces charges for running over a bike and a child’s bicycle attachment following a dispute after passing a father and his two kids too closely; the driver claims the father threw his $2,000 bike in front of the truck’s wheels. Sure, that’s credible.

No bias here, either. Two people were killed and eleven injured in seven separate Chicago shootings, yet the headline only mentions the one involving a bike.

It’s bicycle back to school time. Indiana’s Purdue university opens its own bikeshare system, while the University of Florida is offering to rent students a bike, helmet and lock.

Pittsburgh’s transit system will open its third bike garage, which will hold up to 80 bikes on pneumatic, spring-loaded double-decker racks.

Over 800 Philadelphia bike riders are planning to participate in a PopeRide when the city’s downtown streets will be shut down for the papal visit.

A Staten Island website questions whether bikes, recreational or otherwise, should ply the island’s narrow colonial-era streets. Never mind that bikes are better suited for narrow streets than cars and SUVs, or that they could provide an alternative to heavy traffic.

The mayor of an Alabama town lost his bid for a fifth term two weeks after he was bopped in the head with a baseball bat for schtupping the wife of a bike riding attorney.

 

International

A Quebec cop is charged with killing a bike rider last September; he faces charges of reckless driving and criminal negligence, even though witnesses say he backed into the victim’s bike on purpose.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 90-year old British man still rides every day on the 1939 Triumph bicycle he got for his 14th birthday.

People get killed or injured by being passed too close, and some post video of those dangerous passes online. Evidently, a group of British filmmakers who posted a YouTube style parody online think that’s funny.

Caught on video: A Brit bike thief makes off with a bicycle in less than a minute after casually joking with the staff at a gym, where the owner had gone in to take a shower.

A writer from the UK says she belongs on the road as much as any man, and despite the harassment she faces, the freedom of bicycling more than makes up for it. All cyclists are subject to harassment, but the added sexual component woman face is one of the factors that helps keep bicycling a predominately male form of transportation.

The Smithsonian recommends touring Kaohsiung City, Taiwan by bike, calling it one of Asia’s best cycling cities, with a world-class bikeshare program.

 

Finally…

Painting eyes over a bike rack helps prevent thefts, although the thieves just seem to go somewhere else. If you’re going to “borrow” a bike to get to work, make sure it’s not a cop’s patrol bike first.

And a Baltimore writer finishes dead last on what the Smithsonian calls the world’s “most difficult feat in uphill cycling.” But he finished.

Then again, they probably never heard of LA’s own Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: