Morning Links: Tearjerking look at Woon tragic death, Pasadena flirts with e-bikeshare, and fix for Spring St

Seriously, they’re just trying to make us cry now.

Just days after Sahra Sulaiman’s moving story on how Frederick “Woon” Frazier’s mom is coping with the death of her only son a year later, former Bicycling editor-in-chief Peter Flax steps up with a heartbreaking look of his own for his former publication.

And no coincidence, in either case, that today is the one-year anniversary of needless, cowardly hit-and-run that took his life.

Or that, despite the announcement of pending charges against the speeding, uninsured driver who left him to die in the street — then attempted to coverup her crime by repainting her Porsche Cayenne — no charges have actually been filed a full year later.

Even though she turned herself in and confessed to the crime when investigators were closing in on her.

Maybe they’re waiting for today to do it with a big splash.

We can only hope.

Flax describes the day of Woon’s death in painful new detail.

When Woon got to the busy intersection of Normandie and Manchester avenues, less than a mile from home, he arced a slow right turn. Almost instantly, the Porsche was upon him. A nearby security camera caught the moment when a driver in a white Cayenne, who had been speeding in the gutter lane, closed the gap to Woon’s rear wheel and struck him from behind.

The impact was fierce, more than enough to shatter the rear triangle of his carbon-fiber frame. Then the driver took off, leaving Woon to die on Manchester Avenue before an ambulance could take him to the hospital.

Perhaps an hour after her son left the house, Owens (Woon’s mother) heard a knock on her door. On the front step stood three LAPD officers. One detective pushed up his shades—his eyes were red, Owens recalled—and told her that Woon had been in a crash and didn’t make it.

It’s a must read, as Flax delves into the extreme loss, emotionally, physically and financially, for a family that can least afford it, in any sense. Yet refuses to give up on long-delayed justice, even without hope of a civil judgement.

But be sure to have some tissues on hand.

Flax ends his story with a visit to Woon’s ghost bike. And an unexpected encounter, as a monthly South LA group ride came pedaling by.

Everyone was staring and shouting at the ghost bike. Two dudes popped synchronized wheelies. 

I later recalled something Owens told me that afternoon. She and her son had been talking about the dangers of riding a bike in South Central, and Woon looked up at his mother and tried to reassure her. “Don’t worry, Momma,” he said. “If something happens to me, they’ll ride for me.” She said she didn’t understand it then, but she understood it now.

A Latino guy on a tricked-out fixie was riding shotgun at the back of the Fixie Goons. As he passed the ghost bike, we made eye contact for a second. Then he titled his head back and shouted to the sky: “Long live Woon!”

Long live Woon, indeed.

Although the best part of Flax’s story isn’t even part of it.

He mentions, almost in passing, the crowdfunding page set up for Woon’s three-month old son.

Sitting in the small and crowded living room in South Central, Beverly Owens spent a few hours talking about her son and her heartbreak, but there was one more bittersweet disclosure to come. On the day of Woon’s funeral, Owens said, his girlfriend found out she was pregnant. 

The baby is three months old now. The boy’s mother is trying to raise him on her own, but it’s tough. An ongoing GoFundMe campaign helped buy a crib and car seat, but diapers are expensive. A settlement in civil court would have really make a difference for the people Woon left behind.

When I last checked the GoFundMe site on Sunday night, it had been languishing at just over $1,000 for four full months.

But within hours of Flax’s story appearing online, it had jumped to over $3,000. And now sits at $3,555 as of this writing.

A happy ending to a very sad story.

Photo of Woon’s mom looking at his photo from GoFundMe page.

………

In a surprise announcement, Pasadena may be getting back into the bikeshare business.

Less than a year after pulling the plug on the Metro Bike docked bikeshare program, the city is considering buying into an ebike bikeshare proposed by San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.

The program will roll out 1,000 bikes which can be ridden in ped-assist or fully electric mode, across ten SGV cities.

Just don’t plan on riding an e-scooter in the Rose City anytime soon.

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It looks like LADOT heard the complaints about the notorious Spring Street parking lane protected bike lane, and will be making some much needed improvements soon.

At least, we can hope they’ll be improvements.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps going on.

A San Francisco driver chased a man on a bike and intentionally ran him down with his car after the two got into an argument; fortunately, the victim wasn’t seriously hurt.

Yet somehow, police inexplicably failed to make an arrest.

Something tells me they wouldn’t let the suspect go if he’d pistol whipped the victim, which is no different in any real sense than using a motor vehicle as a weapon.

………

Usually I’m loathe to share a commercial TV spot on here, especially for an insurance company. And especially without getting paid for it.

But this gecko-less Geico semi-PSA is worth a small exception.

Thanks to David Drexler for the heads-up.

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A new Mobility Lab video shows that walkers and bike riders are the happiest commuters.

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Local

Work has finally begun on the new bike and pedestrian bridge across the LA River using the piers originally used by the Red Car trolleys, which will allow access for people on bikes and on foot to cross the river once work begins on remaking the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.

Riders using the Expo Line bike path will have to deal with a three-year detour — 1,096 long days (don’t forget leap year) — for construction of an oddly spelled “creative” high-rise office complex at Jefferson and National.

Not everyone likes LA’s demand that dockless bikeshare and e-scooter companies share their usage data with the city; the Electronic Frontier Foundation says the ride tracking pilot program is out of control. Thanks to Steve S for the link.

A Santa Clarita man was seriously injured when he was hit by the driver of a car while riding his bicycle on Sunday; a witness worried the victim would never walk again. Meanwhile, Santa Clarita collisions are down 24% since the implementation of the city’s Head’s Up safety campaign.

The Laemmle theater chain — run by bike-riding former LACBC board member Greg Laemmle — will screen The Bikes of Wrath, a documentary following five Australians as they ride from Oklahoma to California, following the westward Okie migration described in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Thanks to Keith Johnson for the heads-up.

State

San Diego gives the boot to DecoBike, operator of the city’s docked bikeshare, alleging an unspecified breach of contract.

How about a three-day self-paced bike tour through the wine country surrounding Los Olivos?

National

Walmart is moving beyond their typical low-end bicycle shaped objects to introduce a high-end mountain bike selling for up to $6,000.

The question of how many bike shops there are in the US, and whether they’re shrinking or expanding, depends on how you define “bike shop.”

A Seattle radio station offers a discussion on how to ride a bike in a town without enough bike lanes. Which is probably required listening for all of us here in America’s Worst Bike City.

Bike Mag takes a ride in the heat, thorns and amazing desert blooms around Tucson AZ.

I want to be like her when I grow up. A 77-year old Chicago grandmother stops by the Grand Canyon on a cross-country bike ride, as part of a group of 14 senior citizens riding across the US the hard way, going east to west headfirst into the prevailing winds.

Once again, a bicyclist visiting this country has been killed, this time in New Mexico, where an Australian man was run down from behind by an “inattentive” driver. There’s something terribly wrong when someone can’t ride a bike while visiting this country without getting shipped back home in a coffin.

There’s a special place in hell for the Texas thief who rode off with a nine-year old boy’s bicycle as he pleaded with him not to take it.

A bike-riding Maine letter writer freaks out at the sight of a group of bicyclists riding two abreast, which appears to be perfectly legal in the state. Besides, anyone who uses the too-tired phrase that bicycling is a two-way street belongs in cliche jail.

Now that’s more like it. Cambridge, Massachusetts has passed a first-in-the-nation ordinance requiring it to add permanent protected bike lanes anytime they reconstruct a road in the city’s bike plan. LA advocates fought for a clause like that when the bike plan was adopted. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far.

Seriously? A Massachusetts TV station reminds viewers to wear a helmet when they ride a bike, after someone sent them a photo of a helmetless rider popping a wheelie in the middle of a busy intersection. Call me crazy, but I’d think better advice would be don’t pop wheelies in intersections. with or without one.

International

A new study shows the cognitive and psychological benefits of bicycling are the same whether you pedal yourself or let an ebike do it for you. So just get out there and ride, already.

Argentina’s national soccer coach Lionel Scaloni is one of us; he was lucky to escape with a few cuts and bruises when he was hit by a driver while riding in Spain. Just a pity that we too often find out who rides a bike when they get knocked off one.

Montreal tried to close a popular park to motor vehicles after a bike rider was killed — then reopened it after motorists rose up in anger. Which might sound familiar to anyone who remembers LA’s Playa del Rey fiasco.

Adventure cyclist Ishbel Holmes set out on an around-the-world bicycle tour, only to adopt a stray dog in Turkey that she says changed her life forever.

Competitive Cycling

British Continental cyclist Ian Bibby said he’s devastated after thieves broke into his garage and stole his bike.

Cyclist considers the favorites for Sunday’s infamous Hell of the North, aka Paris-Roubaix.

Minnesota’s North Star Grand Prix launched a crowdfunding campaign to make up a $200,000 shortfall in funding in their planned comeback as a UCI women’s race.

And this is how you give a post-race interview.

Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for that one.

Finally…

Discovering that bike riding can actually be fun if you try. Why did a bike-riding Domino’s worker get run down with a full load of Little Caesars pizzas?

And adding insult to injury.

Literally.

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