Guest Posts: An attack on children and mountain biking, and LACBC response to last week’s FedEx bike death

Sorry to disappear on you this week. 

My St. Patrick’s Day was interrupted by a sudden sharp pain, a panicked trip to the emergency room, and an unplanned stay at Cedars-Sinai.

Where their firewall somehow prevented me from logging into this site. Not that I was capable of doing much in my morphine-induced haze, anyway.

Now I’m finally back home, a handful of kidney stones, a few pounds and a couple thousand bucks lighter.

I’m still trying to shake the last of that drug fog and make up for some lost sleep, so let’s skip the Morning Links one more day, and catch up on a couple of recent guest posts.

First up is a one from Mike Vandeman arguing against allowing kids to take up mountain biking. While it’s not something I agree with in any way, I’ll let him make his case. As he said in an email to me, you can’t argue with facts. We’ll let you decide just what those facts are.

Next, I had planned to share the LACBC’s press release on the tragic death of Elisa Gomez in Monday’s post, so we’ll finish with that today. As you’ll recall, Gomez was killed by a FedEx driver who pulled out from a stop sign while she was directly in front of his truck, then run over after he failed to stop, and fled the scene. A suspect was taken into custody, but no word on an arrest.

Then barring any unexpected setbacks, we’ll be back with our regularly scheduled Morning Links tomorrow.


Children and Mountain Biking

by Mike Vandeman,

Introducing children to mountain biking is CRIMINAL. Mountain biking,
besides being expensive and very environmentally destructive, is
extremely dangerous. Recently a 12-year-old girl DIED during her very
first mountain biking lesson! Another became quadriplegic at 13!
Serious accidents and even deaths are commonplace. Truth be told,
mountain bikers want to introduce kids to mountain biking because (1)
they want more people to help them lobby to open our precious natural
areas to mountain biking and (2) children are too naive to understand
and object to this activity. For 600+ examples of serious accidents
and deaths caused by mountain biking, see

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are
inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to
mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to
say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have
EXACTLY the same access as everyone else — ON FOOT! Why isn’t that
good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking….

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more
harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and
that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle
the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited,
and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see I found that of the seven studies
they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every
case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to
the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided
mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not
favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et
al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently
incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain
biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them,
but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills
small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife
and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches
kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it’s NOT!). What’s
good about THAT?

For more information:

Note: It’s the policy of this site not to post personal contact information; however, Mike Vandeman’s email address has been included at his request.



LOS ANGELES – Yesterday morning, Elisa Gomez was hit by a delivery truck southeast of downtown Los Angeles, and left to die in the middle of the street. The 54-year-old bicyclist was riding Eastbound on Washington Avenue at around 8:30 in the morning and was struck from behind by a FedEx delivery truck, which then sped away. This tragedy is indicative of the grim realities faced by bicyclists and pedestrians on our county’s streets.

Los Angeles County is known as the “hit-and-run capital of the nation” with 50% of all traffic crashes categorized as “hit-and-run.” The national average is 11%. In 2015, over 28,000 hit-and-run crashes were reported across the county. That averages out to one hit-and-run crash every 18 minutes in Los Angeles County, a number that glaringly shows the risks faced by those walking or biking in our county.

Making streets safer for all road users has to be a priority for the City of Los Angeles,” stated LACBC Executive Director Erik Jansen. “Simple steps can be taken to calm traffic and make drivers more aware of vulnerable road users, like people walking and biking. We know how it do it — other cities have shown immense progress building infrastructure to decrease speeds, make turns safer, and build a city at a human scale. Angelenos deserve safe streets and they deserve elected officials willing to show real leadership to make it happen.

Elisa was killed a block away from the Washington Blue Line Metro station southeast of Downtown Los Angeles. In 2017, LACBC partnered with other community organizations and Metro to conduct community engagement along the Blue Line to assess the safety and access needs for people walking and biking to stations. LACBC chose to focus on Washington Station, an area surrounded by the High Injury Network, to work to prevent tragedies such as these. Currently, Metro is using the data collected through this process to apply for funding to make infrastructure improvements identified by the community.

The widely-accepted belief that people dying on our streets is inevitable is a false one. These tragedies are wholly preventable, and that’s why we call them “crashes” and not “accidents.” LACBC calls upon our city and elected officials to be leaders for safe streets and commit to adequately funding and implementing initiatives like Vision Zero. Without their leadership, Elisa Gomez will not be the last bicyclist who will be killed on Los Angeles streets.

I reached out to Jansen for further comment, and received the following response.

Elisa Gomez didn’t have to die. While the driver is ultimately responsible for running her down and leaving her to die on the pavement, her death could have been prevented by ensuring Angelenos have access to safe streets. We know how to make streets safe, and Elisa Gomez deserved elected officials willing to show real leadership to end traffic fatalities in Los Angeles. We need action, and not just another plan sitting on a shelf.

It’s good to see the LACBC take an active lead in fighting for safer streets. Because if there’s any good that can come from this senseless tragedy, it will be keeping it from happening to someone else.


  1. David Drexler says:

    We wish you a speedy recovery. Get better soon.

  2. A. Bauer says:

    Welcome back, begining to think someone would have to get out a ghost bike.

  3. A Grant says:

    Glad you’re back – I was a bit worries there for a second.

    While I appreciate that you’re posting again, why must you give this man a forum to spew his nonsense? He’s a notorious zealot and has been found guilty of attacking cyclists with a hacksaw. His inclusion of “PhD” (in psychology) to his title is simply a lame attempt to validate his “research”. No better than a PhD in classical literature lending their name to a global warming thesis.

  4. TWC says:

    I agree with A Grant.

  5. Anthony M says:

    Welcome back. Glad you’re going to be okay. Pretty sure there plenty of “price of healthcare” content you could cover now.

    I like that you’re brave enough to include Mike Vandeman’s “research.” I don’t like it, but it’s good to have some balance, and it’s good for us (cyclists) to see some of the crazy that’s out there against us. I certainly don’t take Vandeman’s rant seriously, but I see portions of it from more well-spoken foes, so this helps me to stay sharp and prepared with counter-points.

  6. Alex says:

    Yes Mike Vandeman is a well known anti-mountain biking internet troll. He spews his hateful gibberish any chance he gets.

    • He was also banned from owning and operating a computer connected to the Internet after his conviction for assaulting mountain bikers on a public trail some years back. Either that ban has been lifted…

  7. Hello Ted,

    While you are recovering …………..

    Because of the disparity in speed and mass, and the likelihood of injury to a cyclist or pedestrian in a crash with a motorist, please consider ……………………ability-for-drivers/


    “Should the Law Create a Presumption of Liability for Drivers?

    While the plaintiff’s initial burden of proof is likely appropriate in the context of a collision between two motor vehicle drivers, some commentators argue that this burden is inappropriate for collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles. For example, proponents of presumptive liability legislation assert that, by presuming liability of motor vehicle drivers who collide with cyclists, the law would:

    take into consideration the power imbalance between motor vehicles and bicycles;
    increase bicycle ridership; and
    account for the fact that many bicyclists suffer memory loss because of head injuries and have difficulty meeting their burden of proof.[2]

    Presumptive liability for motor vehicle drivers is not a concept unique to the United States. On the contrary, several European countries have adopted legal systems where motor vehicle drivers are presumed liable in collisions with pedestrians or bicyclists, including the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France.

    Opponents of imposing presumptive liability on drivers argue that our legal system is based upon the presumption of innocence, and that presumptive liability violates this basic principle. Furthermore, opponents highlight the fact that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is fairly common in Washington, and provides no-fault injury coverage for medical treatment, thereby avoiding injustice while the injured bicyclist or pedestrian argues his/her case.”

    And we have a rising pedestrian death toll:…l-traffic-crash-data


    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released fatal traffic crash data for calendar year 2016. According to NHTSA data, which was collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015.

    The number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million VMT – a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year.

    NHTSA found that distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.

    The 2016 national data shows that:

    Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent;
    Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent;
    Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7 per­cent;
    Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent;
    Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent;
    Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1 percent;
    Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9.0 percent; and
    Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3 percent. [emphasis added]

    As intermediate mitigation that would probably balance out on a cost/benefit basis a motorist hood mounted air bag prevent or lessen many deaths and injuries.

    I think the time for the exterior airbags introduction is now.


    Dutch TNO




    +1 mph Faster

  8. I totally agree. In case it happened, the kids must be very well protected in order to minimize the injuries.

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