Justice for Woon — Banks pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run, and LA active transport woefully understaffed and underfunded

The good news is, my migraines finally let up after about eleventy-seven hours of sleep the past few days. 

The bad news is, they haven’t gone far. 

It’s been more than a month since one of my many doctors decided the health problems I’ve been suffering since last fall were the result of vestibular migraines, necessitating a complete upending of my diet. 

No caffeine. No chocolate. No artificial sweeteners — not a good thing for a diabetic. No aged cheeses or dried fruits. Or even a number of fresh ones, along with a very long list of other newly verboten foods.

Basically, if I like it, or used it to control my diabetes, I can’t have it. 

But after five weeks of slowly adjusting the new diet, I’m feeling even worse than when I started. 

But let’s try to plow through this anyway, and see how much we can catch up on today. 

And a belated happy Mother’s Day to all you mom’s out there.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels.

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It looks like we’ll finally see justice for fallen bicyclist Frederick Frazier, who was run down by a speeding driver in a Mercedes SUV on a South LA street over four long years ago.

And nearly four years since Mariah Kandise Banks was arrested for killing the young man known to everyone as Woon, and injuring Quatrell Stallings, as they rode their bikes near Manchester and Normandie in 2018.

This is what our anonymous courtroom correspondent emailed me Friday afternoon.

On a beautiful sunny day over four years ago, Mariah Kandise Banks ran down Frederick Frazier and left him to die in the arms of a stranger just a few blocks from his home. She was later apprehended and charged with hit and run and vehicular manslaughter.

This afternoon, another gloriously sunny spring day, Banks accepted a plea deal from the DA.

The count of 20001(b)(2), hit and run involving great bodily injury or death, was dropped.

With tears, Banks pleaded no contest to one count of 192(c)(1), vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

For this charge, she was sentenced to four years in state prison, restitution, fines, and three years of parole upon release from incarceration.

She had requested a surrender date in September due to significant childcare obligations, which was denied.

Sentencing will be on August 19th. Woon’s family is expected to present their impact statements on that date.

RIP Woon. Ride in peace.

Banks could have received up to six years, with another four for the felony hit-and-run count that was dropped.

Peter Flax offered this heartbreaking account of Woon’s death, and the impact his loss had on his grieving mother, fiancé and infant son, who was born months after he was killed; he didn’t know yet that he was going to be a dad. As usual, read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you.

Four years doesn’t begin to seem like enough for the heartless crime and attempted coverup.

But it will have to do.

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I’m not always a fan of CD2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who singlehandedly halted the fully funded and shovel-ready lane reductions and bike lanes on Lankershim Blvd through North Hollywood’s Arts District.

But he’s absolutely right in calling the chronic underfunding and understaffing at LADOT “a threat to public safety.”

Well, no shit.

As LAist points out, despite the adoption of Vision Zero seven years ago,

At the same time, the death toll on L.A. streets continues to rise. Within the first 15 weeks of 2022, 95 people were killed in crashes, according to preliminary city data. In the same period last year, the toll was 87.

The number of pedestrians killed by drivers is especially grim — up 53% citywide compared with the same period last year. The greatest share of those victims is in South L.A., where pedestrian deaths more than doubled from this time last year.

And last year was bad; 2021 marked the highest annual death toll in nearly two decades, with nearly 300 people killed in collisions. Roughly half of those victims were killed by drivers while walking or biking. Nearly 1,500 other people were seriously injured in crashes.

Yet shockingly, but unsurprising to any of us who have been paying attention, LADOT is currently working with a 21% vacancy rate — with a whopping 50% in the active transportation and Vision Zero programs.

Not to mention nearly two dozen additional positions that need to be added to meet LA’s active transportation goals.

The agency tried to address those needs by requesting 18 new active transportation positions, as well as two new Vision Zero hires.

Yet Mayor Garcetti, whose dreams of an India ambassadorship have largely gone up in smoke, responded by cutting LA’s transportation budget, while funding just the two Vision Zero hires.

That’s just two more people for a city of nearly 4 million, with 8,500 miles of streets and a rising toll from traffic violence.

Sure. That’ll fix it it.

Although, as the story notes, Vision Zero spending is up slightly over last year, if you squint hard and juggle the numbers just right.

But no matter how you slice it, it’s still just a fraction of the $80 million LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds said five years ago would be necessary to cut traffic deaths a modest 20%.

And a pittance compared to the $270 million New York invested in Vision Zero in 2019 alone.

As others have said, if you want to know a city’s priorities, look at its budget.

And ours says LA just doesn’t care.

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Today is the last day to tell the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it’s long past time to consider the safety of those outside of cars and trucks in their new vehicle safety tests.

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California’s bicycle omnibus bill — which would allow speed-limited, ped assist ebikes on bike paths statewide, permit bike riders to use leading pedestrian intervals, require drivers to change lanes to pass bike riders, and ban bike licensing requirements — has cleared the state assembly and is moving on to the senate.

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We’ve never had a single ride with the mayor of Los Angeles. But at least you can ride with the mayor of Glendale next Saturday.

Or ride SaMo to Venice with Metro.

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Long Beach offers a very full calendar of Bike Month events.

Meanwhile, Metro offers other events around the LA area.

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They’ve got a point.

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Who needs a drivetrain when you can build your own DIY propeller-driven bicycle?

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

No bias here. Carlsbad CA uses Bike Month to actively discriminate against bicycle, ebike and e-scooter users, banning riders from sidewalks, ditches, sports courts or gyms, as well as requiring them dismount on any trails narrower than five feet or within 50 feet of a pedestrian or someone on horseback.

No bias here, either. Australia’s Daily Mail unleashed a recap of online motorist drivel and dreck, including “calling for cyclists to carry licences, criticising those on bikes for taking up ‘car lanes,’ and claiming that cyclists are ‘more dangerous’ than 4×4 drivers.”

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

Police are looking for a bike-riding gunman who shot a man in DTLA, after riding up to him as he walked on the sidewalk, before riding away.

When a road raging Glasgow driver got out of his car looking for a fight with a man on a bike, he probably wasn’t expecting the whooping he got.

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Local

Streetsblog looks at the installation of a permanent rainbow memorial for Venice hit-and-run victim Prynsess Brazzle, who was killed while riding her bike at the intersection of Pacific and Rose Aves last year. Of course, this being Los Angeles, permanent usually means until it breaks or someone gets tired of it.

Metrolink is offering free rides to anyone with a bicycle during next week’s Bike to Work Week, along with an ebike and rail pass contest package worth $2,500.

 

State 

Newton’s third law of motion applies to politics, too. As Caltrans commits to getting out of the freeway business and refocusing on Complete Streets, the state’s massive 450,000 member building and construction workers union is pushing back.

Sad news from Paso Robles, where a 68-year old man was killed when he rode his bike off the road and ran into a culvert, throwing him off his bike.

 

National

Seriously, who wouldn’t want a solar-powered combination ebike, camper and electric boat? Perfect for riding those flooded freeways if it ever rains here again. 

Barry Morphew, the Colorado man who recently saw murder charges over his missing wife dismissed, says he just wants her to be found. Suzanne Morphew was last seen riding her bike on Mother’s Day two years ago; authorities dropped the charges after claiming they are close to finding her body. Meanwhile, Fox News examines where the case stands now.

Former Olympic gold medalist and world champ Scott Hamilton finished a 444-mile ride to raise funds to fight cancer, 25 years after his last treatment for testicular cancer.

New York is already up to 75 traffic deaths this year, after an NYU student was killed by the driver of a private waste truck.

Bloomberg says ebikes are transforming New York’s transportation future. Which could be happening here in Los Angeles, too, if the city had just bothered to fund active transportation and Vision Zero.

A feel good story turned painful when a Louisiana man was struck by a speeding truck driver, just one day after he been given a new ebike purchased through a crowdfunding campaign.

 

International

Road.cc says the promised benefits of the ebike-replacing SuperWheel sound great, but defy the laws of physics.

A Canadian man lovingly restored his brother’s rusted BMX bicycle, over 35 years after the 15-year old boy was killed in an avalanche.

This deaf, bike-riding London cat is breaking the internet.

A new study from an insurance website ranks the UK’s safest and most dangerous cities for bicycling.

An Afghan man rejected an offer of free plane tickets to ride his bike from Karachi to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, a distance of over 2,800 miles by car.

Add this one to your bike bucket list. Tanzania is now allowing bike riders to ascend Africa’s fifth highest mountain, the nearly 15,000-foot Mount Meru in Arusha National Park.

Sad news from Namibia, where 60-year old rugby legend Gerhard Mans was killed by the driver of an unlicensed BMW while he was riding his bike with a group; he was captain of the country’s first national team after gaining independence.

The closure of Beijing’s subway system due to a Covid surge is leading to a revival of the city’s legendary Bicycle Kingdom.

Authorities in New Zealand are looking for the eco-jerk who destroyed slow growing, 100-year old palms and other native trees to carve an illegal mountain bike trail through a park. Seriously, don’t do that. Ever. Period.

 

Competitive Cycling

A familiar face took the Giro’s 3rd stage on Sunday, as Mark Cavendish claimed his 16th stage win in the Italian Grand Tour, although he has a way to go to catch up with Cipollini’s 42 Giro stage wins; Mathieu van der Poel kept his grip on the leader’s pink jersey.

Yes, this is what pro cycling is like every day. Four-legged fans at the Junior Peace Race in the Czech Republic kicked up their hooves ahead of the advancing peloton, apparently preparing the young riders for spectators on the WorldTour, who often behave like animals.

  

Finally…

How many miles per gallon of gas could your bike get, if by gas you meant beer? Your next bike could cost forty grand and shatter in a crash — if you can find one.

And don’t try to tell us you’ve got bike skills if you can’t do it, too.

https://twitter.com/CoolBikeArt1/status/1523014821964247041

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

One comment

  1. j says:

    My only advice is when getting MRIetc. from provider who did not do prior CT etc. scans bring them even on disc if you have to so radiologist can compare.

    I wish I had been told that! Direct contact with MRI provider can gain access to next day cancelations I did stumble upon. . . .

    Thanks for being a role model for sustained effort in managing health challenges! I am learning I am not that. Relying on biking to be superhealthy is great until you DON’T. I warn everybody to not pause exercise it can be nontrivial to resume it even after just months.

    My largest challenge is believing my ailments don’t ALL trace back to this adaptation gone wrong. Have you tried any of the gadgets your linked backgrounder to meaning of vestibular describes? Vertigo while biking and doing so fit is unfair!

    I remember early in your illness you did wrong things with diet but now your a true expert. Be very assertive find someone who can expertly substitute ingredients to help you regain control!

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