Avalos charged with murder for South LA dragging hit-and-run, a successful Arroyo Fest, and Malibu’s killer highway

Go ahead and call it murder.

Prosecutors are.

Felipe Avalos pled not guilty Friday, after he was formerly charged with murder and hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury in the gruesome death of 65-year old bike rider Francisco Gonzalez in Willowbrook last Tuesday.

The 66-year old driver fled the scene with Gonzalez still trapped under his van, as Avalos twisted and turned for nearly a mile in his efforts to escape, before Gonzalez’ body was finally dislodged in Compton.

The murder charge suggests investigators were able to confirm witness accusations that the crash was intentional. Or maybe the DA’s office just decided that dragging a man’s body for almost a mile demonstrated intent.

Avalos will be due back in court on November 9th to set a trial date, although that date is subject to change.

………

Evidently, a good time was had by all.

Sunday’s Arroyo Fest gave LA County residents a rare chance to take to a local freeway without having to encase themselves in a couple tons of glass and steel. Or having to dodge the usual overly aggressive, speeding, distracted or otherwise generally reckless drivers.

That is, when the crush of cars doesn’t turn it into a parking lot.

In fact, it was the first time in 20 years that the II0 Freeway had been closed to cars, and open to everyone else for what the Los Angeles Times termed “four glorious hours.”

For four glorious hours, cyclists and pedestrians had a chance to safely explore six miles of the 110 Freeway between Los Angeles and Pasadena, a stretch of roadway that opened in 1940 and typically carries more 100,000 daily motorists who brave its winding turns and scary entrance ramps.

Aside from events such as Sunday’s 626 Golden Streets ArroyoFest and other bike celebrations, such as CicLAvia, cycling in L.A. County is not for the faint of heart. The road network was built for automobiles. Bicyclists are often left to vie for space alongside cars on congested, poorly maintained streets. Fatal bike crashes are an intractable problem in the county, and efforts to build dedicated bike lanes have been spotty

This was the reality for the cyclists who joined the crowd of thousands in Northeast L.A. on Sunday…

The paper goes on to talk to a number of bicyclists who participated in the event about what they love about bicycling in greater Los Angeles, and what they’d change about it.

Which might have been the wrong way to frame the question, since the freeway closure likely brought out a number of people who would normally be reluctant to ride on city streets.

Meanwhile, the Pasadena Star-News reported tens of thousands of people turned out to enjoy the all-too brief opportunity.

And Los Angeles Magazine says people “walked, ran, biked, skateboarded, and even rode on horseback to celebrate the second iteration of this rare community event.”

……..

She gets it.

Los Angeles Times culture columnist Mary McNamara extended her beat Sunday to what she termed “Blood Alley,” as Pacific Coast Highway winds, or maybe speeds, through 21 deadly miles of Malibu coastline.

And by extension, some of the other iconic LA-area roadways too many drivers seem to think were built for high-speed thrills.

In Los Angeles, it isn’t just PCH that’s treated like a cinematic backdrop with often fatal consequences. After being featured in “The Fast and Furious” franchise, streets in Angelino Heights roiled with the type of street racing that has plagued other parts of Los Angeles for years. Angeles Crest Highway remains a draw for reckless driving too; despite increased Highway Patrol presence, there are yearly incidents of motorists taking its curves too fast and driving over steep cliffs.

So yes, Malibu definitely needs speed cameras, sidewalks and more signs reminding motorists that they are entering a residential area. Perhaps, as some including Shane suggest, those 21 miles of PCH that cut through Malibu should be designated as a boulevard rather than a highway, with all the traffic-law changes it would require…

There is no reason on God’s green Earth for anyone who is not involved in a professional auto race or being chased by actual monsters to drive more than 80 miles an hour, never mind 100. “The Fast and the Furious” is a film franchise; James Bond is a fictional character; and PCH is, in many places, a treacherous road that should be driven with care even if the Beach Boys are playing.

If you need the exhilaration of speed, go on a roller coaster.

Take a few minutes to read the whole thing.

Then read the paper’s examination of why LA County’s killer highway continues to claim more victims.

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As if we haven’t had enough bad news lately, someone riding a bicycle in Palm Springs was critically injured when they were struck by an alleged drunk driver early Saturday.

Twenty-two-year old Mecca resident Diego Pacheco was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence for the 1 am crash.

No word on the current condition or identity of the victim.

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Jury selection was scheduled to begin today in the trial of Kaitlin Armstrong for the murder of 25-year old champion gravel cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson in Austin, Texas earlier this year.

Armstrong was the subject of an international manhunt when she fled the country after allegedly shooting Wilson, who she saw as a romantic rival for the affections of professional cyclist Colin Strickland..

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

Police in Madrid are investigating what appeared to be an intentional attack, as a motorist accelerated into a Critical Mass-style protest ride in support of Palestinians, injuring five bike riders; however, the driver claimed he acted in self-defense after several riders assaulted his car.

News broke over the weekend that a New Zealand TV star erupted into a bizarre rant when a bike advocate approached him about allowing a bike path to pass through his estate earlier this year, calling her “the enemy” and saying she needed to “have her head cut off and brain replaced.”

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

A New Jersey man faces charges after a 70-year old man died two weeks after he punched the victim and knocked him off his bicycle; the incident allegedly began when the victim hit the man’s girlfriend with his handlebars, then called him a racial slur.

Police in Telford, England warned local residents about an “errant cyclist” riding an ebike who was abusing pedestrians and wheelchair users on a local trail.

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Local 

UCLA is bringing back a program allowing staff and graduate students to trade their parking permits for a free bicycle worth up to $900.

 

State

A writer for the UC Santa Barbara student newspaper puts tongue firmly in cheek, and suggests the Tour de France had been rerouted to the campus bike lanes for the second week of the fall semester, and all students were automatically entered.

Sad news from Fresno, where a man riding a bicycle was killed when he was struck by a train after apparently waiting for one train to pass, without realizing there was another coming from the opposite direction. One more reason why you should always wait for the crossing gates to go up before riding across the tracks. 

 

National

The Bike League is out with their latest list of the most Bicycle Friendly Universities, with Stanford, Colorado State University, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Boise State University awarded platinum status. Only one of which is in my platinum-level bike friendly hometown.

Honolulu residents turned out to pick up trash and revitalize the bike path that runs along Pearl Harbor’s waterfront.

Velo talks with Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer about his career-long support for bike riding, as well as a possible national ebike rebate and how to advocate for bikes.

The driver who killed BMX champ Nathan “Nate” Miller in Las Vegas last month was somehow still on the road, despite receiving at least 19 tickets for driving without a license, registration or insurance. Just one more example of officials keeping a dangerous driver on the road until it’s too late; he should have been in jail, or had his car impounded, at the very least.

Chicago advocates are justifiably outraged after a hit-and-run driver who killed a man riding in a bike lane was released without charges, even though a Breathalyzer test showed she was two-and-a-half times the legal alcohol limit when the cops stopped her.

Hundreds of Pittsburgh bicyclists turned out for a 60-mile race around the city and up 13 of Pittsburgh’s steepest hills, as spectators offered participants a choice of water or beer.

Baltimore letter writers say no, bike riders belong on the streets, not in alleys.

 

International

Road.cc offers advice on choosing the right bicycle for commuting to work.

A new report from the UK shows that motorists fail to see a 22% of bicyclists, compared to just 4% of jaywalkers — and younger drivers miss seeing a whopping 31%.

A new German study concluded bicyclists are more caring and concerned with the “common good” than drivers, writing “the benefits of cycling over driving are more profound and sustainable than previously thought.” Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up. 

An Ottawa, Canada website says more residents of the city are riding their bikes through the winter months, even as climate change increases the risk from winter storms.

A Montreal writer says he’s grateful for the “insta-super-treatment” he received at a Vermont hospital after an endo on a rented ebike, compared to the endless waits in a Montreal hospital, and didn’t even mind the $10,000 hospital bill since his union insurance should cover it.

An American man completed a 963-mile journey from Nagasaki to Yokohama, Japan on a Penny Farthing, recreating a 1886 trip on the high-wheeler the Japanese called a dharma bicycle.

A Singaporean website asks if a new bikeway network is the answer to going car-lite, concluding that most people won’t give up their cars for a bicycle, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Australian traffic safety experts are calling for an investigation after bicycling deaths have risen more than any other group over the past 12 months.

 

Competitive Cycling

Velo has reaction from the peloton to the newly announced routes for next year’s men’s and women’s Tour de France.

 

Finally…

Who needs to rough it when you can tow your own portable treehouse behind your bike? Your next bicycle could be the illegitimate offspring of a track bike and a cargo bike.

And who says you have to see to ride a bike?

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

Oh, and fuck Putin

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