2nd driver charged in double hit-and-run death of two young brothers, and US bike deaths may have dropped in 2020

One quick note before we get started.

Almost a year ago, just before the world went to hell, the LA Times did a story about the foster corgi we took in to help a homeless man get back on his feet. 

This weekend they did a followup story, with an update how man and dog are doing and the ripple effect it had on everyone, my wife and I included. 

Along with the corgi puppy we adopted last summer. 

………

The other shoe finally dropped.

A full month after 57-year old Grossman Burn Foundation co-founder Rebecca Grossman was charged with murder and vehicular manslaughter for killing a pair of young brothers in an alleged drunken street race last September, the other driver has finally been arrested.

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Erickson was inexplicably charged with a single count of misdemeanor reckless driving, despite allegedly contributing to the deaths of the two young boys.

And despite the allegation of street racing.

Eleven-year old Mark Iskander and his eight-year old brother Jacob were crossing the street with their parents in a marked and well-lighted crosswalk when they were run down, one on his bicycle and the other on a scooter.

It easily could have been worse. Their parents were able to jump back with the boys’ younger siblings at the last second, barely sparing the family from being wiped out entirely.

And yet the 51-year old Erickson, who had a one-year stint with the Dodgers, faces a single lousy count of misdemeanor reckless driving.

Did I mention that both drivers are in their 50s, and should have effing known better?

Maybe prosecutors can explain their charging decision in this one, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me.

………

The good news is bicycling deaths may — repeat, may — have dropped last year, from an obscene 857 in 2018, and 846 in 2019, to 697 last year.

So says Outside Magazine, which tracked every bike rider killed in the US last year, much like I’ve been tracking Southern California bicycling deaths for the last decade.

Or rather, all the deaths they’re aware of; there are undoubtedly more that never crossed their radar, for whatever reason.

Of those, slightly more than 80% were men, and over a quarter of the victims were killed in hit-and-runs.

No surprise on either count. Especially not the latter, which tracks very closely with what we’ve seen here in Southern California.

And sadly, no surprise that far too many of those deaths occurred here in California.

Louisiana, New York, California, Florida, and Texas were the five deadliest states for cyclists in terms of total fatalities. The latter three have been the most deadly states for cyclists for years, and New York’s fatalities have been on the rise as well—in 2019, it reported 46 cyclist deaths, with 29 in New York City alone. While these three states are also the most populous in the country, Florida and California have among the most cycling deaths per million people, as well. And Louisiana recorded 7.3 cycling deaths per million people, the most of any state. Louisiana’s total fatal crash numbers have remained in the twenties and thirties for the past five years, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

No surprise that those deaths may have been driven in part by last year’s bike boom, either.

Though it’s too early to be certain, the cycling boom that took place after the COVID-19 lockdown orders may have contributed to the summer death rate. From January through November, $4.9 billion worth of bikes were sold in the U.S., according to the NPD Group. In Los Angeles and Houston alone, Strava found approximately a 100 percent increase in cycling trips in both cities in May 2020 compared to May 2019. More cyclists on the road seemed to correlate with more people on bikes being killed by drivers.

………

Harrison Ford is one of us, as the once and future Indiana Jones star has a bike rack installed on his car for his new bicycle at the Santa Monica Helen’s.

New Bollywood sensation — and former porn star — Sunny Leone is one us, too, riding bikes with her husband and kids in Los Angeles before returning to India.

And new mother Katie Perry is still one of us, as is her fiancee Orlando Bloom, as they ride together in Santa Barbara.

………

Consider this your periodic reminder that Bike Index works.

And it’s free. So what the hell are you waiting for?

………

Mountain biking though a NorCal burn zone.

………

Think you’ve got mountain bike skills? Trying riding downhill on a kid’s bike.

………

GCN considers how to get your confidence back after a crash.

………

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

Just days after a Portland driver killed one woman and injured at least ten others in a 15-block rampage, another driver intentionally ran down a delivery rider; fortunately, this victim was able to bounce back up.

You’ve got to be kidding. Life is cheap in the UK, where a road raging driver was fined the equivalent of a lousy $549 for a fist-shaking punishment pass that caused a 68-year old man to fall off his bike, suffering life-changing injuries. But hey, at least he won’t be able to drive for a whole six months.

But sometimes, it’s the person on two wheels behaving badly.

Santa Cruz police are looking for a bike-riding man who allegedly battered a motorist in an unprovoked attack. Although something tells me that unprovoked attack wasn’t.

A Dublin, Ireland bike rider suffered a severely lacerated face when a delivery rider cut him off, forcing him into a glass bus shelter.

………

Local

Noticing the explosive growth in ebike usage during the pandemic, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach respond by cracking down on scofflaw ebike riders who are apparently terrorizing the local populace, on and off the beachfront Strand. Thanks to Margaret for the heads-up.

You only have until 3 pm today to urge Culver City to approve new bus and bike lanes, over the objections of local traffic NIMBYs.

 

State

Streetsblog talks with new California Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman, including about her efforts to allow local communities to lower speed limits.

A kindhearted Santa Ana cop gives a pair of bike helmets to two young boys after they stopped her to ask if they had to wear one; she correctly noted that California law requires bike helmets for any bike riders under 18.

Carlsbad police busted a suspected drunken hit-and-run driver who ran down a bike-riding woman from Arizona; at last report, the 65-year old woman was unconscious with serious injuries.

San Diego County officials cut the ribbon on a new three-mile segment of North County’s Inland Rail Trail; the new segment means ten miles of the planned 21-mile trail is ready to ride.

Sad news from San Jose, where a man was killed when a wrong way driver slammed into his bicycle, then drove off like the murderous coward he or she is.

A new plan promises to remake San Jose’s Eastside into a more welcoming place for bike riders and pedestrians, while reducing the need for cars. Sadly, it comes too late for the victim above.

San Francisco bike shops say if you’re in the market for a new bike, you’ve got a long wait.

 

National

An engineering website examines the aerodynamics of bicycling to keep riding from being a drag.

Pink Bike wonders when, if ever, mountain bikes will be allowed in US wilderness areas.

A writer for Bicycling explains how he finally went carfree after he job went remote during the pandemic. As usual, you can read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you.

An American Sign Language professor at an Arizona college has turned his daily bike ride into a fundraising campaign for his students.

He gets it. A Salt Lake City columnist says bike riders have a right to be safe in traffic. And that’s why he supports a bill that would legalize the Idaho Stop in Utah, even if people on bicycles will still have to be alert, because too many drivers aren’t.

The full route has been released for this year’s RAGBRAI bike ride through Iowa, after last year’s ride was cancelled due to the pandemic.

A Missouri couple decide to open a bike shop. And then figures, why not sell pizza, too? Toss in some decent craft beer, and I’m all in.

A Rhode Island letter writer pleads with drivers to stop giving bicyclists the “wave of death.”

Yes, please. New Haven, Connecticut officials are pushing the state legislature to approve a bill that would allow automated traffic cams to enforce speed limits and crosswalks.

Frank Sinatra’s hometown of Hoboken NJ will add protected bike lanes to the singer’s eponymous street.

A retired Maryland man spent the pandemic providing free bike repair services for the local community; he’s fixed over 650 bicycles since last April.

No bias here. Florida cops fall over themselves to absolve a killer hit-and-run driver of responsibility, saying he knew he hit something, but didn’t know it was a person on a bicycle. Because apparently, it’s just too much to expect someone to get out of his car to see what the hell he hit hard enough to cause front end damage.

 

International

Cycling Weekly looks at the clothes you’ll need to get through the coldest, wettest days on your bike. Or you could just do like most Angelenos, and stay home any day there’s a sprinkle or the temperature dips much below 70°.

Eight bicyclist-inspired songs for your bicycle playlist.

An entrepreneurial 13-year old girl in Edmonton, Canada turned her pandemic baking into a business, delivering fresh loves to customers by bike every weekend.

London’s popup bike lanes and Low Traffic Neighborhoods could be in jeopardy, after a judge rules that they could adversely affect disadvantaged groups, such as the elderly. Because apparently, older people don’t ride bikes. Or walk, for that matter.

They may have a point. A London paper questions whether a 300-foot bike lane in an English town is the country’s stupidest bike lane; the street with the contraflow bike lane — aka wrong way — is so narrow that even small vans don’t fit in the traffic lane and have to extend into the bike lane.

More on the British man who responded to the death of his brother and a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer by riding from the UK to Beijing on a tandem, sharing the other seat with people he met along the way.

I want to be like him when I grow up. After getting tired of people laughing at him, an 83-year old Pakistani man rode his bike over 1,100 miles to prove age is just a number; he’s been riding since buying his first bicycle 66 years ago.

An enterprising 15-year old Indian boy is too young to legally ride a Vespa-style scooter, so he turned his bicycle into one.

After her politician father was arrested on what she insists are trumped-up charges, an Indian teen refused to accept a free bicycle from a government-run program in protest.

A quick-thinking Indian bus driver is credited with saving the lives of two little boys after they fell off their bikes into the path of the bus.

Apparently, they take driving in a protected bike lane seriously in Qatar, as a driver has his car seized on the spot.

Here’s another one for your bike bucket list — a biking tour of old Taipei.

A Wellington, New Zealand bike rider says the city needs a lot more than just bike lanes.

 

Competitive Cycling

Fortune favored the Dutch in this year’s cyclocross worlds, as 31-year old Lucinda Brand and 26-year old Mathieu Van der Poel took the women’s and men’s elite titles. Riders from the Netherlands took four of the top five places in the women’s race, and two of the top five on the men’s side; the only American to finish in the top five in either race was Clara Honsinger, who placed 4th in the women’s race.

The New York Times examines how the horrific crash that nearly took the life of Dutch cyclist Dylan Groenewegen at the Tour of Poland has increased pressure on the sport’s governing body to make much needed changes to protect the riders in the peloton.

 

Finally…

Remember, kids, always pickle your bike lanes before a storm. Your next car could be an ebike. Or maybe the other way around.

And your long, dark wait for LEGO bike lanes is over.

………

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

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: