My apologies for another unexcused absence on Friday.
One of the many insidious effects of diabetes is a dramatic decline in stamina; busing to a couple of medical appointments was enough to knock me out all night, and most of the next morning.
On the plus side, at least I’m starting the week well rested.
Ryan Fonseca of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at why killer drivers are so rarely charged with murder in California.
Which is something we’ve probably all asked at one time or another.
Although to be fair, it’s not just here. From what I’ve seen, most drivers walk with just a slap on the wrist, no matter where it happens.
If they get charged at all.
Here’s how he explains it.
First off, killing someone with a vehicle is simply viewed differently under the law. That difference is codified in California’s criminal law, where manslaughter — “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice” — is divided into three kinds: Voluntary, involuntary and vehicular.
The key difference between murder and manslaughter is intention. There’s also the idea of implied malice, or what’s sometimes called a depraved heart — when someone should have reasonably known that an act was potentially deadly, but they did it anyway.
Like driving 104 mph in a 45 mile zone, for instance. Or weaving in and out of traffic at speeds up to 100 mph with a suspended license while stoned .
Or dragging someone under your car for nearly a mile while trying to flee the scene; police are still looking for the heartless coward in that one.
But perhaps the chief limiting factor, according to former prosecutors, is what a jury made up of 12 people who drive is willing to convict on, combined with prosecutors well-founded fear of losing.
Which is why you see so many killer drivers plead out for a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Or a lousy traffic ticket, for that matter.
And that means drivers get away with things they wouldn’t if they killed someone using any other means.
Damian Kevitt, executive director of the advocacy nonprofit Streets Are For Everyone, often meets with families who have lost a loved one to traffic violence. He told me the focus on a driver’s intent in a fatal crash creates a level of protection that doesn’t exist outside their cars.
“Instead of assuming that you have a responsibility and you have an obligation to drive safely, it’s more… ‘we’re going to assume that you have the best of intentions,’” he said. “That’s not right — not when you’re [operating] a two-ton vehicle that has just as much ability to kill someone as a gun.”
It’s worth reading the whole thing.
Because public pressure, or the lack thereof, can be the deciding factor on how serious the charges are that a driver could face.
And how much time they might end up serving.
Santa Monica will consider a motion to speed up traffic safety improvements at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Live, ride, walk in Santa Monica?
This Tuesday, council will consider an item by @jessezwick @ctorosis & @GleamDavis to make intersections safer throughout the city.
Show up to City Hall by 8 PM, or send out an email.https://t.co/SCdDN7VZlF pic.twitter.com/t4JVSvMLaS
— Streets For All (@streetsforall) November 11, 2023
According to an email from Streets For All,
This item will direct the city manager to expedite requests for stop signs, update the city’s guidelines to upgrade unsignalized intersections, update the process through which residents can report dangerous intersections, improve communication between SMPD and the Department of Transportation, update the Take The Friendly Road campaign, develop a proposal to allocate funding towards infrastructure in daylighting zones to address dangerous illegal parking, and more.
It can’t come fast enough.
Because a man riding a bicycle was lucky to escape with minor injuries when he was struck by a driver, at the exact intersection where Tania Mooser was killed in a collision while riding her bike just two weeks earlier.
And where local residents have spent years demanding safety improvements, with no one at SaMo City Hall seeming to give a damn.
Don’t forget to voice your opinion on the LA County bike plan.
It's not too late to provide your input and help make bicycling safer and easier in LA County! 🚲
— Streets For All (@streetsforall) November 1, 2023
On Thursday 11/16 at 6pm we're having a Streets For All virtual meeting to discuss the LA County Bike Master Plan revisions — this is your chance to speak to representatives from the County about where you want to see bike lanes! RSVP at https://t.co/UYRpGuUGXp for Zoom info 💜 pic.twitter.com/qHLTarHp1s
— Streets For All (@streetsforall) November 10, 2023
Nice to see a good turnout for the ghost bike ceremony honoring fallen Hollywood producer Bob George.
Maybe someday, things like this won’t be necessary anymore.
Over 50 people gathered at Fountain & Edgemont in #EastHollywood for the #ghostbike installation in memory of cyclist Robert George, who was doored & then fatally struck by an oncoming vehicle while riding NB on Edgemont on 10/17, a day after his 51st bday. #bikeLA #RobertsReach pic.twitter.com/obite6N3b3
— Elson Trinidad (@elsontrinidad) November 10, 2023
Because of course he was one of us.
Actor Richard Burton riding through two lovely bollards in Winchester, UK.
— Cool Bike Art (@CoolBikeArt1) November 10, 2023
GCN considers the true cost of bicycling, including buying all the gear.
Never mind that you can get a used bike for a couple hundred bucks, and just start riding.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.
No bias here. Writing for the Orange County Register, the western director of a conservative think tank says sorry, but bicycling isn’t going to change the world, and only bicyclists demand “the world be rebuilt to cater to (their) somewhat-dangerous hobby.” He also compares bike lanes to social engineering, and insists, without evidence, that closing streets to cars destroys cities. Just wait until someone tells him about the social engineering that forces everyone into cars.
No bias here, either. A Marin paper says everyone has to accept that few people want to ride their bikes on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge compared to the 80,000 daily drivers. But fails to mention that drivers have connecting roadways leading to and from the bridge, while bike riders are still waiting for safe connections to get on and off. The paper’s editorial cartoonist weighs in, as well.
But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
A Florida man is back behind bars for running down a pedestrian on his ebike while stinking of booze, after previously serving ten years for a DUI manslaughter.
A Scottish bike rider confesses to being one of those demon cyclists who jump red lights and ride on the sidewalk, sometimes putting his own life over the “the irritation of motorists and occasionally pedestrians.”
Streetsblog reports the LA City Council has taken the first steps to implement an automated speed cam program, and officially committed to using “crash,” “collision” or “incident,” rather than “accident” to describe two drivers trying to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space at the same time. Although I’m more impressed that the LA Times is now using the term “traffic violence.”
Readers of the San Diego Reader compiled a list of the city’s most dangerous spots for bike riders, including Friars Road, Nimitz Blvd and University Ave. Which shows some things haven’t changed since I lived down there over 30 year ago.
A bike-riding Santa Barbara boy suffered minor injuries when he was struck by a driver, although he apparently broke his guitar — unless the website meant a broken fender, not Fender. The story also suggests the driver may have been blinded by the sunset, which seems somewhat unlikely at three in the afternoon.
A Santa Cruz website considers the ripple effects of one free bicycle given to a kid nearly two decades ago.
Who was that masked man? An unidentified San Francisco bike rider saved the day when burglars tried to break into a van belonging to Minneapolis-based indie band Yam Haus, apparently smacking one of the thieves to disrupt the break-in before riding off into the sunset.
Sad news from Oakland, where someone riding a bicycle was killed in a collision Friday night; the driver either did or didn’t remain at the scene.
A couple of men were busted after a man tracked his stolen bike to their car, then they drove into him when he tried to get it back; police tracked the suspects to their home, and arrested them on a raft of theft and drug charges.
Lake Tahoe’s Incline Village is banning scofflaw ebike riders from city sidewalks, adding ebikes to a current prohibition on sidewalk riding, although a spokesperson for the sheriff swears it’s only enforced when people ride recklessly.
Electrek explains why drivers should love seeing more people on ebikes — or any other bicycles, for that matter — from more bikes means less traffic and more parking, to better roads and more money in your pocket. Maybe someone should tell that guy from the Orange County Register.
Clean Technica looks at the “slow, painful process” of eliminating the sale of dangerous ebike batteries.
Bicycling reports the annual Cranksgiving food-drive ride is back after a three-year Covid hiatus, with over 100 rides currently scheduled in 35 states, although the nearest one to Los Angeles/Orange County appears to be in Redlands. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else, so you’re on your own if the magazine blocks you; however, the second link works, regardless.
An Oregon state legislator responded to the death of a 16-year old boy riding an ebike by introducing legislation to ban throttle-controlled ebikes for anyone under 16, limiting younger riders to ped-assist ebikes.
NPR conducts an exit interview with Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who has been bicycling’s biggest champion in Congress in recent years.
A Washington bike rider urges drivers to please respect the city’s new purple bike lanes. Apparently painted in an effort to make Barney feel at home.
Apparently, killing a 13-year old Denver-area boy as he rode his bike to school last month is just a minor traffic violation, after the driver who killed him got a lousy ticket for careless driving resulting in death.
Former President George W. Bush hosted his annual Warrior Ride for America’s veterans at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, expressing his gratitude and support for vets.
New York’s Transportation Commissioner considers how to safely integrate ebikes into the city’s traffic system.
Life is cheap in Pennsylvania, where intentionally trying to back over a bike rider while threatening to “smoke” the victim will get you two months of home vacation, followed by just two lousy days behind bars each week for 15 whole weeks.
Momentum readers nominate the world’s worst bike lanes.
Bike Radar suggests five areas of training that will make you a better roadie. None of which are better roadway courtesy or yielding to pedestrians, however.
Police in Ontario — no, the one in Canada — are searching a cornfield for a missing 34-year old man after his ebike was found in the middle of the field with a flat tire, and the wires leading to the battery dangling down.
This is who we share the road with. A London bike rider’s helmet cam captured video of a security van driver watching porn on his phone and masturbating while he was driving. Wanker.
That’s more like it. A British truck driver got eight-and-a-half years behind bars for killing a 53-year old woman riding a bike, and seriously injuring her 19-year old son, while using a social media app on his phone.
Finland addressed a smattering of people illegally crossing from Russia on bicycles by banning anyone from riding a bike across the border, months after a similar ban on people arriving in motor vehicles.
Over 35,000 people turned out for the fourth annual Dubai Ride, the region’s largest bike ride.
There may not be a 38th edition of Japan’s Tour de Hokkaido next year, after a cyclist was killed in a head-on collision that resulted in the immediate cancellation of this year’s event.
Up to 15 riders were injured in a mass pile-up in the final stage of Australia’s Tour of Tasmania.
One of the four climate activists on trial for disrupting the road Worlds by gluing their hands to the roadway claims the cycling community is complicit in the climate crisis through ignorance of the “oil and gas companies sponsoring their races.” Trust me, they know.
And Red Bull says it gives you wings, but maybe they should hand you floaties, instead.
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin