A deep dive into an ebike tragedy, minibike rider killed in Downey hit-and-run, and driver appalled at bicyclists taking the lane

Let’s start with another deep dive from Peter Flax, who seems to specialize in finding the heart and complexities underlying our most heartrending tragedies.

Writing for Bicycling, Flax examines the solo ebike crash that took the life of 12-year old Molly Steinsapir last year, when she and a friend crashed their Rad Power bike at the bottom of a hill in Pacific Palisades, unable to stop.

The crash has led to a lawsuit by her parents against the bikemaker, Seattle’s Rad Power Bikes.

This story also begins with two preteen girls on a bicycle—to be specific, since it matters, on an electric bike made by the ascendant Rad Power Bikes. It was the final day of January 2021, on yet another balmy morning in Los Angeles. An 11-year-old named Eme Green was piloting the e-bike, and her friend Molly Steinsapir, 12, was nestled behind her on a cushioned seat intended for a second passenger. Molly and Eme were friends and neighbors, and both lived about a half mile downhill from this dramatic perch. One can imagine or at least hope that the girls felt some awe and delight up there, marveling at the expanse of earth and ocean and blue sky before them.

But then they turned that e-bike downhill and a terror unfolded. As Molly’s parents would later allege in a lawsuit, Eme could not stop the RadRunner, and the two girls crashed at high speed near the bottom of the steepest stretch of Enchanted Way. Molly, who was wearing a bike helmet, hit the pavement hard and lost consciousness.

Tragically, she would never wake up. Despite a series of increasingly desperate surgeries to address her head injuries, Molly would be pronounced dead a little more than two weeks later.

That’s the part of the story we all know, if you’ve been following the case.

But Flax uses Molly’s tragic death as a platform to examine the burgeoning ebike industry, and the boom in ebike riders of all ages.

And the seemingly inevitable crashes that follow.

This story will raise questions that don’t lend themselves to straightforward answers. Some are philosophical questions that you’ll have to ponder yourself; some are legal questions that lawyers will argue and possibly a jury will have to deliberate; and some are questions that only legislative or regulatory bodies can address. Should children be allowed to ride e-bikes? How do you balance responsibility between parents and the companies that make those bikes? Should there be significantly more proactive regulation of e-bikes by the government, given that some e-bikes may not be as safe as they should be? And in the absence of such regulation, do the companies that make and market e-bikes—particularly the companies that sell relatively inexpensive e-bikes directly to the customer—have an ethical or legal obligation to do more?

Like anything He writes, it spins an emotionally compelling tale that’s exceptionally well written. And it exposes deeper issues we all should be concerned with.

In other words, it’s well worth the few minutes of your day it will take to read it.

You can read the story on AOL if Bicycling blocks you. 

Photo by Tucă Bianca from Pexels.

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A Downey paper reports a bicyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision Sunday night.

The victim was found lying on eastbound Telegraph Road over the San Gabriel River around 10:30 pm, after multiple witnesses reported the crash.

However, according to multiple other sources, the victim was actually riding a motorized minibike, rather than a bicycle.

Which doesn’t make it one bit less tragic. Or criminal.

Thanks to Joe Linton for the heads-up.

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A Santa Monica driver is unhappy to find himself behind a small group of bicyclists.

At first glance, I thought the bike riders were breaking the law by taking both lanes, before realizing that the lane to the right is actually a parking lane.  But in this case, they can legally take the full lane as long as they’re moving at the speed of traffic; otherwise they would be required to use the bike lane, which isn’t practical for a group ride.

One more reason to can California’s bike lane requirement.

Thanks to Marcello Calicchio for the heads-up. 

Meanwhile, ChrisByBike offers his own example of what is unacceptable.

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The victim in Saturday’s Fullerton bike crash has been identified by family members as Robert C. Galvin.

Investigators believe he somehow rode into a the back of a parked truck with enough force to cause his death, even though a reported witness called it a hit-and-run.

A crowdfunding campaign has raised a little over half of the $12,000 goal.

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CicLAvia offers a reminder about the year’s first edition of what may be the country’s most popular open streets event later this month.

https://twitter.com/LADOTofficial/status/1620542911627534338

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This is what it looks like when bikes get priority, and cars are guests.

Maybe we’ll see that here someday.

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

A clearly frightened Toronto bike rider was subjected to homophobic slurs from a driver before he was run off the road; his attorney’s letter to the city’s mayor spells out what his attacker could and should have been charged with.

No bias here. A columnist on the British island of Jersey complains about a plan to encourage bicycling to cut pollution with an ebike rebate, even though he claims there’s no proof of a pollution problem. And he wants bikes to face even more stringent restrictions than cars, including a ban on bicycles in the city center.

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

An Ithaca NY bike rider learned the attempted coverup is worse than the crime when he gave cops a false name and struggled with officers after he was stropped for a traffic violation.

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Local 

No bias here. Spectrum TV’s LA Times Today discusses “the battle of ebikes on SoCal beach boardwalks.” But somehow illustrates the story with what looks like an electric motorcycle zooming along a highway.

A writer for WeHoVille wins the lottery for a free bike from the city as part of a pilot program to get more people riding. Then has second thoughts about the restrictions, including a requirement to ride a minimum of a relatively paltry 20 miles a month.

 

State

Carlsbad officials joined with the San Diego Bike Coalition to preach the mantra of bicycle safety, following the city’s two-month extension of its bicycle state of emergency.

Streetsblog talks with San Francisco bike advocate Stacey Randecker, who recently went viral — and not in a good way — after complaining about paramedics parked in a bike lane, gaining fame as the “entitled cyclist of San Francisco,” or alternately, as a bike lane Karen. And as usual, there’s another side to the story.

Sad news from the Sacramento area, where a Roseville bike rider was killed in an early morning crash after allegedly swerving in and out of the roadway in low light conditions.

 

National

Bicycling examines the eight bike skills they say every rider needs to know. Although I’d question the inclusion of drafting in that list, since only roadies who race or ride in groups really need that skill. Once again, read it on AOL if the magazine blocks you. 

Women’s Health offers ten reasons to take up cycling, though they don’t differentiate between the indoor and outdoor versions.

Houston bike advocates are raising concerns after two bike riders and a man on an e-scooter were killed in just the first month of this year.

Ohio’s Bicycle Museum of America offer three floors of bikes covering more than two centuries of history, including bicycles used by Pee Wee Herman and Robin Williams.

He gets it. A Massachusetts letter writer objects to a proposal to remove new bikes, saying the traffic congestion opponents complain about will still be there, and bike lanes meet the state’s objective to serve people with lower incomes.

A New York driver is caught on video illegally using the bus lane, and fleeing the scene after crashing into a man on a cargo bike; the cargo bike was trashed, but at least his dog is okay. Meanwhile, the UK’s Daily Mail claims he’s the same man that terrorized patrons at a New York McDonald’s with an axe last September.

That’s more like it. A Florida man will spend the next ten years behind bars after pleading no contest in the drunken death of a 73-year old woman, who lingered for eight months following the crash.

 

International

That explains a lot. Is anyone really surprised that a new British Columbia study shows sitting in traffic for “just” two hours is enough to cause brain damage?

A Toronto bike cop goes viral for ticketing a truck parked in a contraflow bike lane. Yet somehow, some people side with the truck driver.

A record-breaking Scottish bicyclist rode her bike for the first time since last September, after she had to learn to walk again when a hit-and-run driver broke her pelvis in four places; the driver who ran her down still hasn’t been found.

An English judge tells a 32-year old man to expect a very significant sentence  after he pled guilty at the last minute to the high-speed death of two boys sharing a bicycle.

An Amsterdam intersection saw so much bike traffic, it had to be redesigned to increase capacity while improving protection from motorists.

The Belgian city of Ghent is combining preservation with bicycling by converting a very cool unused medieval building into a public bike parking structure.

 

Competitive Cycling

A September mountain bike race with test the course for the Paris Olympics mountain bike events, with “breathtaking” views of the Eiffel Tower.

A petition drive is calling for pioneering Black world champion cyclist Major Taylor to be honored with a postage stamp and a Congressional Medal of Honor; a Hollywood movie about his life is also in the works.

Tadej Pogačar and Rafał Majka played Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine the winner in Tuesday’s stage of the Tour of Slovenia.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CoCjo7XrV3O/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=3e68acb0-17ea-4fed-8207-9323fb92edc5

 

Finally…

Evidently, it’s a short journey from selling pretzels from a three-wheeled bike to becoming a Food Network Star. Your next bike could be a 900-pound DIY pedal-powered VW Bug.

And who can argue that bicycling isn’t cool when Clark Gable was one of us, too?

With no hands, no less.

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

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

 

One comment

  1. Christian says:

    Regarding Steinsapir, it’s already dangerous enough riding bikes in car-centric SoCal/US in general, but now add the element of increased speed, less control of e-bikes? The newer gen e-bikes w internal gears, electronic shifting, drive belts vs chains,… are closer to motorcycles > bikes. They should have restrictions and regulations as such. I feel sorry for the parents but they have no case.