Your help needed for precedent-setting legal case, Epstein enters CD5 council race, and reward for hit-and-run drivers

This has been a rough year for all of us.

And riding a bike hasn’t always been enough to get through it, emotionally or otherwise. 

So take some time to find something you can truly be thankful for, and give your heart and mind a break for a few days. 

And stay safe out there. I want to see you back here bright and early when we return to our regular programming on Monday.

Meanwhile, Friday will mark the launch of this year’s 6th Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive.

The corgi puppy is already hard at work preparing for her debut as our new spokesdog. 

But feel free if you want to get a jump on donating and beat the holiday rush. 

Update: Thanks to Arthur B for kicking the fund drive off!

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Today I learned what depublishing means — and what we can do about it.

Recently, we mentioned a legal ruling from a California appeals court that held Sonoma County responsible for injuries a woman suffered when her bike hit a pothole at 25 mph, setting a precedent that would make it easier for other injured riders to hold local governments accountable for bad roads, and their failure to maintain them.

But now lawyers for the county are asking the California Supreme Court to depublish the ruling, which means it couldn’t be used as a precedent for other cases, claiming she was engaged in an “extreme sport.”

This is how the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition described the case.

The argument put forth by appeals attorney Nadia Sarkis, representing the County, focused on the length, speed, and purpose of Williams’ ride, claiming that as she was engaged in an “extreme sport” and was not an “ordinary user” of the road, she assumed the “inherent risk of the sport.”  In other words, she should have known she could get hurt riding a bike and that County liability for poor road condition therefore does not apply to her.

The Justices’ line of questioning really hammered on this idea that the County’s liability varies based on the speed and purpose of a cyclist’s ride on a given day. One Justice gave Sarkis some hypotheticals and asked in which cases the County has duty. They included a woman riding at the same speed and distance but to work; a teenager riding the same speed but on her way to soccer practice; a 65-year-old woman riding the same speed on an electric bike she bought after having a knee replacement. They all seemed somewhat incredulous only Williams’ incident, but not the rest of these situations, should release the County from liability for the cyclist’s injuries and questioned the whole idea of defining “ordinary” versus “extreme” bicycling.

(Sarkis had quoted a study on “average” speed and distance for recreational versus transportational cyclists and implied that anything above “average” was “extreme.”  The speed and distance of Dr. Williams’ ride were certainly those of a fit and serious rider, but nowhere near what any of us would consider “extreme.”)

Which is ridiculous, of course. And has nothing to do with the failure to ensure a safe riding surface.

Which is where you come in.

Alan Charles Dell’Ario, the plaintiff’s attorney, is asking for letters from bicyclists to forward the Supreme Court within to oppose depublishing the ruling, and keep it as a precedent that could prove invaluable to other injured riders.

You can email your letter to him at Charles@dellario.org.

San Diego bike lawyer Richard L. Duquette, a longtime friend of this site, has shared his own letter to serve as a guide.

Just hurry, because it’s due at the Supreme Court by the end of next week.

Update: Mr. Dell’Ario sends word that your letter must follow the format below to be forwarded to the court.

Thanks to Phillip Young for the heads-up.

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This year’s city council election ended less than a month ago. But the campaign to replace termed out Paul Koretz in CD5 is just getting started, as Scott Epstein tossed his cycling cap into the ring.

Epstein is a life-long bike rider and advocate for safer streets, and a long-time leader with both the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Mid City West Community Council.

I’ve known him for over a decade, and it’s hard to imagine a better replacement for the pseudo-environmentalist Koretz, who has opposed virtually every bike project in his district.

Epstein has my unqualified support. And you can find a long list of other endorsements by clicking on the thread above.

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This is who we share the road with.

The LAPD is looking for a motorcyclist and two drivers who ran down a South LA man in a deadly triple hit-and-run.

Fifty-year old Jose Fuentes was crossing Central Ave near 78th Street when the motorcycle rider slammed into him, followed by both drivers running over him, one after the other, as he lay in the roadway.

And not one had the basic human decency to stick around afterwards, let alone call for help or render aid.

Meanwhile, 76-year old Kuen Ham died several hours after she was run down by yet another hit-and-run driver as she was crossing Miramar Street at Union Ave in the Westlake District, dragging her several feet as they fled the scene.

As always, there is standing $50,000 reward offered by the City of Los Angeles for information leading to an arrest and conviction in any fatal hit-and-run, which applies in both these cases.

Thanks to Jeff Vaughn for the Fuentes heads-up.

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Four people find the balance between mountain biking and skiing.

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

A road-raging Pittsburgh man faces a raft of charges including attempted murder for allegedly shooting a man riding a bicycle in a dispute that following a collision.

Someone has been sabotaging a rail-to-trail bike path in the UK by strewing large branches on the pavement, as well as throwing sticks at passing riders.

Sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly. 

Lincoln, Nebraska police are on the lookout for a pair of bike-riding teens who confronted a family jogging on a bike trail, and flashed a gun when they were asked to move out of the way.

………

Local

Metro is offering Black Friday deals on bikeshare passes this weekend.

 

State

San Luis Obispo released the city’s new active transportation plan for public review.

A Santa Cruz man faces a murder charge after telling police his girlfriend was killed falling off her bike, even though neighbors reported her screams for help.

Tragic news from San Leandro, where a bike rider was killed in a collision with a van driver, who remained at the scene. Police are looking for a second driver who left the scene and may have been involved, as well.

Davis police are looking for whoever is responsible for a series of bike shop burglaries targeting high-end bicycles. And it’s not just bike shops falling victim, either.

 

National

Bicycling recommends the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for bike riders, along with ten cutting-edge gifts for tech-loving bicyclistsUnfortunately, these don’t seem to be available on Yahoo yet.

Gear Junkie recommends the best mountain bikes for under a grand.

The NYPD has finally done the right thing, and cancelled dozens of outstanding ebike tickets after the city belatedly got around to legalizing them; the department’s crackdown fell primarily on immigrant delivery riders who could least afford it.

New York’s Department of Transportation overrules a community board to build a cargo bike corral near a Manhattan Whole Foods.

Outgoing New York Mayor de Blasio says it will be up to the next mayor to finish Vision Zero, even though the city has barely made a dent in it.

 

International

Cyclist looks at the relatively brief history of Cervélo, as the cutting-edge brand reaches the quarter century mark.

The Guardian considers how to stay safe running or biking after dark this winter.

Wired looks at the surge in bike lanes in cities around the world, as they react to the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic. Needless to say, Los Angeles isn’t one of them.

The CBC profiles London, Ontario residents who plan to keep riding through the frigid Canadian winter.

Bike Radar has the best Black Friday bike deals from the UK, as well as a few from the US.

Cycling Weekly examines how London’s Pearson, reportedly the world’s oldest bike shop, launched its online business in the middle of the pandemic.

Brazen London thieves used an angle grinder to steal a locked ebike in front of witnesses in broad daylight.

British residents say a local bike rider might not have been killed if completion of a half-finished bikeway hadn’t been pushed back to 2027.

That’s more like it. An Irish man has until the end of the year to pay a nearly $24,000 fine for seriously injuring two bicyclists while driving at four times the legal alcohol limit, after an appeals court ruled his original 18-month sentence was too lenient.

A Borneo op-ed says it’s time to consider installing bike lanes on the Malaysian island.

Australia’s food delivery riders complain about dangerous conditions after five riders were killed in just two months.

 

Competitive Cycling

Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen is back on his bike, three months after a horrific crash during the final sprint in stage one of the Tour de Pologne.

Pez Cycling looks forward to five things they want to see in road cycling next year.

 

Finally…

Not all bike riders are saints, but at least one bike riding priest is one his way. And when the shooting of America’s only remaining Tour de France champ didn’t even make the local paper (Scroll down. No, seriously, keep scrolling.).

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

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