Archive for Bikes & the Law

Update: Mountain biker killed in Escondido hit-and-run; victim hit head-on during group ride

Yet another SoCal bike rider has lost his life to a hit-and-run driver.

According to multiple sources, the victim was struck by a driver at 11:52 Saturday morning on the 1600 block of La Honda Drive, just below the entrance to the Daley Ranch Recreation Area.

Reports indicated he was headed south on the narrow street with a group of other riders when he was hit head-on by the driver of a dark colored Toyota sedan, who continued without stopping.

The victim, identified only as a 36-year old Vista resident, died at the scene before rescuers could arrive.

Police later found the heavily damaged car abandoned half a mile away, on the 600 block of Aster Street.

They note the victim was wearing a helmet; clearly, it was not enough to save his life.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune absurdly reports that police don’t know if the driver was under the influence. Which is probably true, considering they don’t even know who was behind the wheel.

Anyone with information is urged to call Officer Adan Martinez of the Escondido Police Department at 760/839-4465.

This is at least the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year; remarkably, it appears to be just the third in San Diego County.

It’s also the 23rd fatal hit-and-run I’m aware of involving a bike rider since the first of this year.

Update: The victim has been identified as 36-year old Vista resident Kevin Lentz; the former mountain bike racer leaves behind his wife and one-year old son.

The driver reportedly was traveling at a high rate of speed on the wrong side of the road, after rounding a blind curve.

A crowdfunding page has raised nearly $52,000 in just one day.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kevin Lentz and his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Phillip Young for the heads-up.

Guest Post: Hit-and-run driver Mehta walks despite showing no remorse, plus updates on other recent stories

We’re going to give our anonymous courtroom correspondent her own platform today.

Starting with an update in the case of 34-year old Medium contributor and author Pratiti Renee Mehta, who was re-sentenced for last year’s hit-and-run that left a bike rider seriously injured.

And yet another reminder of why people keep dying on our streets.

Two years.

Suspended, of course. ‘Cause she’s learned her lesson.

Upon her July conviction for all counts, Judge Julan Baliley sentenced Mehta to 3 years in State Prison. She left for her Chowchilla vacation almost immediately and was bussed back for her re-sentencing last week.

His Honor informed her that he’d sent her up the river in the hope that exposure to the element that fills our prisons would allow her to reflect on the person she wished to be. She did just that, observing her ilk from what little distance she could keep in such close quarters. According to her diagnostic assessment, she was a “model inmate” who did not create any disruptions during her brief stay.

She was allowed to address the court, and, through tears, expressed regret that she was unable to be present with her family, who experienced two deaths during her absence. She stated that she never wishes to experience incarceration again.

It is telling that she did not state that she never wants to harm an innocent human being with her car ever again, nor did she express regret for the permanent injury inflicted on that “bum” (direct quote from the post-collision texts collected as evidence).

Yup, she intimated that prison was unpleasant for her, but she never once referenced the extensive medical bills, physical pain, PTSD, permanent scars, loss of income, and limp she inflicted on her victim. Not to mention damaging the Peugeot her victim had bought in 1984.

Mehta’s assessment by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation psychologist  concludes that she is unlikely to reoffend. I agree, because she doesn’t wanna experience the hassle of mandatory court appearances, restitution, and incarceration. She won’t deliberately slam her Mercedes against another bum again, not because she gives a damn that others may suffer. Just because she might be affected by the repercussions, and it’s already been such a headache.

Frankly, Mehta lacks empathy. She’s not sorry for her victim; she’s just sorry she got caught.

Typically infuriating for these cases, she is required to sign away her Constitutionally protected right to possess firearms. Yet she is still allowed to drive. In fact, the Judge stated unambiguously that “I am taking no action against your driving privilege.” A driver who fails to use a turn signal will be sentenced to traffic school. But, gosh, all Mehta did was leave a guy lying in the street with his bone sticking out of his leg, and that’s not substantial enough to warrant remedial driver’s education. It might have been helpful if Judge Bailey had used his discretion to order Mehta to comlpete a Savvy Cycling class before returning her privilege to drive.

Also infuriating: Some hideous person left a comment on your blog about how horrible it is that poor li’l Pratiti’s career has been derailed because of all this inconvenience. Well, Mehta’s victim is a stage hand, a manual laborer whose ability to labor manually was taken away from him by her violent assault. To this day, he walks with a limp, and will probably never be 100% again. Although he’s working now, he lost lucrative, prestigious opportunities (plural) because he was unable to work during his physical rehabilitation. The commenter’s ignorance in suggesting that the victim shared fault is terrifying, and it’s disgusting to consider that Mehta associates with those who think this way and who might be able to influence her thoughts, especially since she is still allowed to continue to drive without any education.

In addition to time served (with credits for good behavior), the Judge sentenced Miss Mehta to 2 years in State Prison, suspended, for the felony hit and run count; 6 months in County Jail for the misdemeanor lyin’-to-the-cops count; and fines for the infraction of CVC 21070, “unsafe operation of a motor vehicle causing injury.” Count 4, CVC 21107 (“unsafe turn”), was dismissed.

Mehta will be on formal probation for the next three years. She will probably drive to report in for every appointment.

………

I recently wondered why a driver had been charged with murder for killing someone, which almost never done except in the case of repeated DUIs.

Here’s what she had to say.

Regarding murder charges. I spoke briefly with a random attorney in the courthouse hallway, and “implied malice” (the reasonable knowledge that an act is dangerous) is sufficient to file a charge of murder. “Express malice”  (“I’M GONNA KILL YOU, BITCH!”) makes it a lot easier to prosecute, but if you get reasonable jurors, a murder conviction is not just possible but likely.

This should be a giant duh, but murder is rarely sought in cases involving motor vehicles. Unless, of course, the driver is impaired, or if a threat has been expressed.

And conviction is never a sure bet, as in this case, which ended in acquittal, probably because of the, uh, questionable sobriety of one of the pilots. (This case was actually referenced by DA Cornwell in one of his filings in a vehicular manslaughter case a few years ago, which is why I looked it up.)

………

Yet another reason why people keep getting killed on our streets.

If nobody’s pointed it out yet: 10.4 miles of Vanowen Street is gettin’ a speed limit increase.

Not at the same Vanowen High Injury Network location where a crossing guard was killed at a yellow crosswalk and a HAWK beacon was installed last month. West of there. 10.4 miles, the longest stretch designated for an increase, all within a half mile or less of over twenty preschool and K-12 facilities. But at least those 10.4 miles don’t have many of those useless HAWK beacons. And only about 3 of the 10.4 miles are on the High Injury Network.

Good job, Vision Zero team!

………

That “wipeout” video you posted.

I recognized that Starbucks (and hideous Wells Fargo) instantly. That was my commute route for nearly 10 years.

Also, right where the video began, that’s where Michael Bastien was killed. (His killer’s already out, fwiw.) And that Starbucks is in the same strip mall where another Huntington Beach statistic worked, at Valentino’s Pizza. The dough slinger saw Bastien’s ghost bike every day, just meters from his work; he was hit on October 13th, 2015, and died in the hospital on the 19th, on the anniversary of Shaun Eagleson’s murder. If I’m marking dates, Wednesday would’ve been AJ Brumback’s 17th birthday. (Note: The killer of the then-eight-year old boy didn’t spend a day behind bars.)

A simple right-hook video shouldn’t create a cascade of these associations.

………

She also addressed last week’s response to a column by OC Register columnist David Whiting calling for a mandatory bike helmet law.

David Whiting’s friend Pete Tomaino was wearing a helmet when he was killed while riding his bike. Look, there’s a picture of Pete in the newspaper, wearing his holy, all-protective helmet!

Orange County bicyclists Joey Robinson, Roger Lippman, Shaun Eagleson, former Olympian Amine Britel, Sara Leaf, Debra Deem, Fire Captain Mike Kreza, all wearing helmets when they were killed.

The human brain can shut down permanently as a result of trauma not inflicted by a direct blow to the head. Even if you’re wearing a motorcycle helmet, damage to your rain not inflicted by a direct blow can kill you. No helmet will prevent trauma-induced hypoxia or rhabdomyolysis.

………

And she ends on a personal note.

Sunday night I was nearly killed by a creep who ran a red (not orange; very, very red) at a blind corner at 50 mph. I am still shook.

You know how your brain replays everything over and over and over in these situations, all the scenarios with variable timelines could have resulted in a different outcome. Yeah, that’s what my head’s been doing. For days.

Also, I had the plate, driver’s description, and location, and damn right I called it in, and the Sheriff will do nothing about the piddly little infraction that nearly killed me and the other driver with the same green light.

I won’t rant, but I am still shook. If I weren’t the type to look for cross traffic, if I hadn’t been on my slow janky bike while my Kilo TT’s in the shop, if I hadn’t yielded a block before for a turning driver, I wouldn’t be writing this.

If, if, if.

If, indeed.

Morning Links: Charges increased in Frederick “Woon” Frazier death, and WeHo drag queen run down on purpose

Maybe there will be justice for Woon after all.

I received the following email from an anonymous correspondent at yesterday’s scheduled prelim for Mariah Kandise Banks, charged with the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier and the attempted coverup that followed.

The People have filed an amended complaint against Ms. Banks in which the charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence has been upgraded to felony.

Judge Lynne Hobbs thanked Ms. Banks for being on time this morning. Alas, the prelim was trailed yet again.

The judge inquired about the prosecution’s previous request for an increase in bail due to the accused’s alleged harassment of the victim’s family (and frankly, she seemed willing and prepared to grant it). The prosecutor stated that she had spoken to the victim’s family two days ago and had received no further reports of harassment, so the bail stands as-is.

Ms. Banks was her usual muttery self as she exited the courtroom.

The increased charges mean Banks now faces six years for felony vehicular manslaughter, rather than one year for the misdemeanor count.

That’s in addition to a possible four years for felony hit-and-run.

However, it’s unlikely she’ll serve anywhere near that. The LA district attorney’s office has a well-deserved reputation for bargaining charges down to avoid a trial.

If Banks is smart, she’ll drop the attitude and cop a plea. And maybe get out in a couple years, rather than risk serving the full dime behind bars.

Photo of Frederick “Woon” Frazier taken from his original crowdfunding page.

………

This is who we share the road with.

A popular West Hollywood drag queen says a driver fled the scene after apparently running him down on purpose as he was leaving a bar with friends two weeks ago.

The victim, Sasha Markgraf, says he was the only member of the group dressed in an effeminate manner.

In addition to being a drag performer and singer, Markgraf is also a costume designer. When he left the bar with his friends to cross Larrabee Street after 2 a.m. he was wearing high heels and suspects the driver may have intentionally hit him.

“It’s sad to say but I think he was coming straight for us. He didn’t have to go right. He didn’t have to veer to the right,” Markgraf says.

A crowdfunding page says the driver turned on his car as Markgraf stepped off the curb and revved his engine before plowing into him. So far, it’s raised just $2,100 of the $50,000 goal.

Unfortunately, the only description of the car is a silver Honda Civic. There’s no description available for the driver.

Lets hope they catch this jerk before he or she tries to kill someone else.

And maybe succeeds next time.

………

Another crowdfunding page is raising money to buy a new bike for an Active SGV staff member whose bike was stolen, along with her panniers, wallet and clothes, at last Sunday’s CicLAvia.

So far it’s raised nearly $300 of the modest $500 goal.

………

There’s no shortage of bighearted people in today’s news.

When the bike a Salem, Oregon man used as his primary form of transportation was stolen, his friends in the trading card community pitched in to buy him a new one.

The bike an Ohio man used as transpiration for himself and his one-year old daughter was stolen just two days into his new job, so his Walmart coworkers dug into their own pockets to buy a new bike and trailer for someone they barely knew, and most had never met.

A Pennsylvania man rode his bike across the US, raising $11,000 for a pair of small-town animal rescues.

Great piece about a British Columbia bike shop owner and inventor who earned the Lanterne Rouge in the 1955 Tour de France, joining another rider as the first British cyclists to finish the tour; after moving to Canada, he built the wheelchair used on an around-the-world journey, as well as refurbishing bicycles to give to those in need. Sadly, he died of cancer on Saturday.

Then again, some people would rather help themselves. After a thief stole the bicycle a nine-year old English boy got for his birthday, he set out to do odd jobs around town until he earned enough to buy a new one.

………

Local

As we noted yesterday, LADOT is looking for volunteers for the city’s first-ever official bike and pedestrian count later this month, as well as using traffic cameras for part of the count. Volunteers are needed to count bicycles in Long Beach, too.

A pair of LA Times readers shake a metaphorical fist at the paper for celebrating the death of the High Desert Corridor through the Antelope Valley.

 

State

67-year old San Diego man was rear-ended on his bike in broad daylight, suffering what was described as a non-life-threatening brain bleed. A witness said he “came out of nowhere,” which is just another way of saying you weren’t paying attention.

The student newspaper at San Diego State University says the school made a bad decision in banning e-scooters and other micromobility devices, based on bad data and with little student input.

A Santa Barbara man was critically injured when he was hit head-on rounding a curve after allegedly drifting onto the wrong side of the road; fortunately, he’s expected to make a full recovery.

 

National

Bicycling hosts a debate on whether someone on a bicycle is a cyclist or a biker. Apparently, a person riding a bicycle wasn’t an option.

A medical columnist says if you really want to avoid pain when you ride, hie thee to a bike fitter. Though he might not have phrased it quite that way.

A Hawaiian advocacy group will host a Noodle Ride, with participants using pool noodles to call attention to the three-foot passing law.

Seriously? An Oregon letter-writer says she’s fine with one bike lane, but why do bicyclists need one going the opposite direction on the other side of the street, as well?

Albuquerque paramedics are using bicycles to get through the crowds at the city’s annual hot air balloon festival.

Good advice. After surviving a serious collision while riding her bike, a Boulder CO woman says you should take published reports in the media with a massive grain of salt. Like this one, for instance.

A Houston man is dead after a cop driving at high speed — and without lights and sirens — slammed into him in a crash caught on dashboard video from a car parked nearby. In a tragic irony, the city launched a prescheduled campaign just hours later, calling on drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users.

A writer for Streetsblog Chicago says he’s willing to bury the hatchet after a city alderman backs down on his threat to ban bikes from the Riverwalk. But he wants those illegal Bicycles Must Be Walked signs taken down.

A Minnesota man just finished riding every public street in his county

A Pittsburgh man is making his third official attempt to set a new handcycle 24-hour record. The paraplegic athlete set an unofficial record of 407.7 miles in 2016, breaking the existing record of 403.8; however, the track wasn’t certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, so it didn’t count.

Life is cheap in Pennsylvania, where a 73-year old woman was killed in a left cross collision, and the driver walked with a lousy traffic ticket. There’s something seriously wrong when needlessly taking the life of another person amounts to nothing more than a simple traffic violation.

 

International

Cycling Tips says a British Columbia bikemaker is setting a new standard for environmental sustainability in the bicycle industry.

Heartbreaking story from Hamilton, Ontario, where a 14-year old boy was stabbed to death by a pair of brothers as his mother watched, after he had confronted the other boys for allegedly stealing his bicycle.

Life is cheap in Wales, too, where a woman got off with just 27 months behind bars for drunkenly driving “like a maniac” and plowing into four members of a family out for a bike ride, then fleeing the scene; one of her victims was lucky to survive. So naturally, she blamed the entire thing on her boyfriend.

A British truck driver was convicted of careless driving in the death of a bike-riding doctorhis view was obstructed by a dashboard tray full of ornaments and other items.

In news for my fellow diabetics, a new Australian study shows that while diabetics are prone to heatstroke, you can reduce your risk by training in the heat for a week in advance.

 

Competitive Cycling

Baltimore will host a one-day ProSeries race — one rung below the WorldTour — for the next three years.

Cycling’s governing body says it’s going to work with riders to improve safety in time for next year’s cycling season. If they really want to improve safety, they’ll get team cars and race motorcycles out of the peloton, and require riders to wait until someone can catch up for assistance.

 

Finally…

Nothing like circus friends to borrow a bike from. Apparently, there’s no bike lane that can’t be turned into a parking lot.

And nothing like turning a Santa Clarita bike path into your personal brass knuckle fight club.

 

Rally tomorrow demanding justice for Scott Clark; OC triathlete was collateral damage in alleged 2017 road rage case

No Morning Links today, due to the demands of this piece, as well as a few too many emergency potty runs caring for a sick Corgi.

I’ll try to catch up tomorrow with a rare Weekend Links if her belly allows; if not, we’ll be back on Monday with anything we’ve missed.

………

When does justice delayed become justice denied?

Apparently, when Orange County investigators drop the ball.

And the DA drops the case.

Bike lawyer Ed Rubinstein forwards a flyer demanding justice for a Laguna Hills father, teacher and triathlete who was killed over two years ago, the result of a road rage incident between two motorists.

Scott Clark, a fifth-grade teacher at Laguna Niguel Elementary School and four-time Ironman triathlete, was training for a race in January, 2017, when he ran into a crosswalk just as two women were arguing as they sped down the road in Laguna Nigel.

One of the women, later identified as Jamie Mulford, allegedly turned right from the left lane in front of the other car, cutting off the driver and forcing her  car into Clark as he crossed the street.

He suffered severe head injuries, and died two weeks later.

Mulford was arrested at the scene for suspicion DUI, but the charge was dropped because investigators failed to test her blood alcohol level for nearly six hours after the crash, by which time she was under the legal limit.

The DA eventually charged Mulford with vehicular homicide in the death of Scott Clark. Yet after numerous delays, the case was dismissed ths year when the DA said they could no longer prove Mulford’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Adding insult to overwhelming injury, Mulford sued Scott Clark’s wife for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress — choosing the two year anniversary of his death to file suit.

It took less than a month to have the case thrown out of court for lack of merit.

Which bring us to tomorrow’s rally calling for justice for Scott Clark.

Supporters of Clark — or anyone who believes in the safety of our streets — is urged to meet at Laguna Nigel City Hall at 10 am Saturday to walk to the crash site at Niguel Road and Alicia Parkway.

I don’t know if Jamie Mulford is guilty.

But I do know Scott Clark’s survivors deserve to have the case put in front of a jury.

And newly elected DA Todd Spitzer owes them that.

Thanks to Ed Rubenstein for the heads-up.

Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza died, 2 days after he was struck allegedly stoned driver in Mission Viejo

In the end, a man who spent 18 years saving others couldn’t be saved himself.

News broke this morning that Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Captain Mike Kreza had died, two days after he was after he was run down by an allegedly stoned driver while riding in Mission Viejo.

Kreza was training for an Ironman Triathlon when his bike was struck by a car driven by 25-year old Stephen Taylor Scarp around 8 am Saturday on Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos.

He was reportedly hit from behind as he was riding in the bike lane on eastbound Alicia Parkway, suffering critical wounds to the head and body.

The Costa Mesa Fire Department had reported that he was unresponsive as a Sunday afternoon, and surrounded by family and friends.

Scarp remained at the scene. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI after police found multiple prescription medications in his car. At last report he was being held on $100,000 bond, pending a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Kreza leaves behind a wife and three young daughters.

This is made even more tragic, not just because of the families he leaves behind — both his own and the close-knit firefighter community — but because so many of us owe our lives to the men and women who devote theirs to saving others.

He died, sadly and needlessly, not in a courageous effort to rescue someone else, but as one of us.

A crowdfunding campaign for his family has raised over $126,000 in just two days, more than five times the original $25,000 goal.

This is at least the 43rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth that I’m aware of in Orange County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mike Kreza and all his family and loved ones. 

Thanks to Megan Lynch, Steve S and Steven Bonadio for the heads-up.

 

 

Update: Driver arrested on murder charge for intentionally running down a Claremont bike rider

Wrecks are seldom accidents.

But they’re usually not on purpose, either.

Yet that was the case in Claremont today, where a driver is facing a murder charge for intentionally running down a woman as she rode in a bike lane.

According to the Daily Bulletin, 54-year old Leslie Pray was riding north along the 1900 block of North Mills Avenue near Radcliffe Drive around 11:30 am today when she was deliberately struck by the driver of a 1996 station wagon.

Pray was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrested 61-year old Claremont resident Sandra Wicksted at a nearby hospital after a brief investigation.

There’s no word on how — or why — the crash happened, or whether the two women knew each other.

Wicksted is being held on $2 million bond. Then again, if she could pay that, she probably wouldn’t be driving a 22-year old station wagon.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Claremont Police Department at 909/399-5411.

This is at least the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 21st that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

And the first one that was, allegedly, on purpose.

Update: KABC-7 reports that Wicksted was driving in the opposite direction on Mills, and swerved across the road to strike Pray’s bicycle.

The presence of skid marks on the street demonstrates her path across the road, as well as indicating she was braking as she crossed the roadway. Which is odd for a driver who was attempting to hit someone. 

However, the station also says other bike riders told police that Wicksted had swerved towards them just moments before she killed Pray.

She is also suspected of being under the influence; several empty liquor bottles were found in her car after the crash.

Tragically, Pray had just started riding a bike this summer.

Update 2: A ghost bike will be installed at 7 pm today

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Photo by Erik Griswold. 

Morning Links: South Figueroa Complete Street project opens next week, and updates on OC court cases

The long awaited My Figueroa Complete Streets project will finally open a week from tomorrow.

City officials will open the long-delayed makeover of the iconic South Figueroa corridor with an official ribbon cutting, as well as walking and biking tours.

Although not everyone is happy with the unprotected, cab-blocked bike lanes by Staples Center, the pedestrian beg buttons required to cross the street, and the interminable bicycle red lights that give drivers clear priority over people on bikes on a street that’s supposed to serve everyone.

LADOT has promised they’re still fine-tuning the street, but I’m hearing complaints that too many compromises were made to get everyone to sign off on the My Figueroa project.

Let’s hope they get it fixed before Angeleno bike riders write off the remade Figueroa as just another incomplete, auto-centric LA street.

Meanwhile, nothing has been done at all on North Figueroa, which remains just as deadly as ever.

………

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from our anonymous OC correspondent, who checks in today with a number of updates on outstanding court cases.

Along with a little justified criticism of yours truly.

Hi, here’s a few overdue updates on OC cases, along with some typical ranting.

………

(Alleged) murderer Justin Scott German was released from custody on August 10th on $1mil bond. His preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for September 17th. No surprise that this bartender was on probation for DUI at the time of the killing.

………

Baby-faced rager Pratiti Mehta is facing a slew of charges: unsafe right turn, unsafe lane change, unsafe operation of a motor vehicle causing injury, hit and run causing injury, and oh yeah, ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON with an enhancement for great bodily injury. And since her fleeing ass provided false information to the investigating officers, there’s another charge.

………

The Rita Faye McLaughlin case drags on and on and on. Last fall, I skipped a “pretrial” hearing. Turns out, it wasn’t yet another pretrial. It was the victim impact hearing. The victim’s siblings and daughter were there, and Rita Faye was supposed to plead. But she changed her mind. The jury trial was scheduled to begin on the 16th, but has been delayed again.

………

Jason Roy Rocha‘s case is also dragging. There will be no good outcome; he needs extensive mental health maintenance and he needs to be permanently banned from operating a motor vehicle, but neither of these things will happen.

………

Taylor Russell Evans pleaded guilty in June and is currently serving 364 days in County. His prelim on June 11th was canceled because he accepted a plea bargain, and sentencing was the following week (I skipped both because I had that gimongous facial hematoma)*. He’ll probably be out by Thanksgiving, and his victim will probably still be dead.

*(Editor’s note: Our correspondent was hit by a driver while riding, suffering what the police consider minor injuries.)

………

Not bike collisions, but Bani Duarte, who was interrupted by officers as she was packing her suitcase to flee the country, will be allowed out if she raises $4mil bail.

And imagine if Garrett James McKinnon injured 12 people in two separate firearms incidents, instead of using a car.

………

Can you stop lauding the OCDA sooo highly? I remind you that killer Becki Lee James was acquitted after she ran down a cyclist, from behind, in broad daylight, inside a 23′ lane, even though her victim was riding in the door zone. The deputy DA at the trial sprawled out in his seat like Dwight the Surly Teen and was clearly irritated to be in the courtroom. The DA absolutely failed to provide the level of prosecution the case deserved, and James is still out there driving around.

Young Dylan Rand-Luby served his 90 days in the cushy pay-to-stay section of Santa Ana’s jail, and is going on about his life.

I was sooo hopeful that the OCDA’s Vehicular Homicide Team would be be brave enough to set some precedent and prosecute on murder/DUI-marijuana charges, but they’ve decided not to go for murder, and so far there are no charges at all.

There’s more, but we’ll save it for another day.

………

BikinginLA sponsor Josh Cohen offers a good explanation of California’s comparative liability law, which could cut the amount you receive in any settlement if a jury finds you’re partly at fault in a crash.

On the other hand, it could also allow you to receive something, even if you’re the one who screwed up.

………

Local

The Los Angeles Public Library has a bouncing baby bakfiets book bike, which was donated to the Baldwin Hills branch by the LACBC.

LADOT and CD3 Councilmember Bob Blumenfield are hosting a public workshop to discuss street improvements for Winnetka Ave between Vanowen St and Victory Blvd next Wednesday.

Bloomberg says forget vaporware tech promises, and just build a decent sidewalk that would allow fans to walk to Dodger Stadium.

A bill just signed by Governor Brown will allow the County of Los Angeles to develop a program to get employers to encourage their workers to use alternative forms of transportation, including bicycling.

 

State

No surprise here, as the San Francisco driver who allegedly admitted he was drunk after running down and killing a bike rider has pled not guilty, with his attorney calling it just a “tragic accident.” He faces a murder count due to two previous DUI convictions, which led to a warning under state law that he could be charged with murder if he killed someone while under the influence.

San Francisco bike advocates want to end the city’s cap on bikeshare ebikes.

Police in Elk Grove turned to Facebook to find the owner of a Colnago Extreme C racing bike after busting a burglar. Seriously, register your bikes, already. It doesn’t cost anything, and will give police a much easier way to find you if something like this happens.

 

National

The national Vision Zero Network says it will focus on managing and reducing speeds, while defending the program against cities that treat it like a tag line or a PR campaign. Like Los Angeles, for instance.

Bicycling says bicycling — lower case — is the best way to banish the blues. Unless, of course, you’re sad because you can’t ride for some reason, in which case you’re screwed.

A writer for Bicycling says keep your feet out of our bike lanes.

DIY advice on how to wall mount your bike.

Portland’s Community Cycling Center is looking for a new Director of Equity, Engagement and People.

A Utah man suffered cuts and bruises, and broken glasses, when he was assaulted by a bike rider who objected to the man’s dogs being off-leash on a shared use trail. Seriously, just… don’t. No matter how justified you may think your anger is, violence is never the answer.

No bias here. A Colorado music professor is being blamed for a fatal suicide swerve into the side of a passing tanker truck. A more likely explanation is the truck driver passed too close at too high a speed, in violation of the state’s three-foot passing law, and the victim got sucked into the truck’s slipstream.

The subway apocalypse predicted for New York when the L-train shuts down for 15 months of maintenance next year could be a boon for buses and bicycling in the city.

A group of DC Eagle Scouts just earned their bicycling across the US merit badge.

This is how Vision Zero is supposed to work. DC is fixing a bike lane and intersection where a bike rider was killed earlier this summer.

Arlington VA is conducting a trial next month to see how well bicycling volunteers can deliver emergency supplies and messages following a disaster. But oddly, they’re charging people to participate.

A North Carolina newspaper says if the city is bike friendly, where are the bike lanes?

 

International

The Guardian says urban walking could save humanity.

Bike riding is growing in Toronto, even as the BBC calls it the worst city in the world for bicycling.

London’s Scotland Yard has developed a “shocking” 360° virtual reality film to show the dangers of riding a bike near large trucks.

A member of the British Parliament accepted an invitation to ride with a bicyclist after his Conservative party sent out a since-deleted tweet promising a crackdown on dangerous bicycling. Many, if not most, of LA’s elected officials agreed to meet and ride with bicyclists when they filled out candidate questionnaires from the LACBC, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever held them to that. Maybe we should change that.

Seriously? A UK study shows Millennials are spending more on hobbies, including bicycling, than their elders, because they have to have the latest fashionable gear and most up-to-date equipment. Which is the exact opposite of most bike riding Millennials I know, but sounds like a lot of older riders.

A pair of British men now officially own the world record for circumnavigating the globe by tandem, riding over 18,000 miles in a little more than 290 days. Speaking of which, tandems are in again.

This is why you have to ride carefully around horses. A woman in the UK suffered a punctured lung when a bike rider tried to pass between her horse and the curb without announcing his presence. Seriously, equestrians can be self-righteous jerks when it comes to demanding exclusive rights to trails and bridges, but both rider and mount can be seriously injured if the horse gets frightened.

The London driver caught on video deliberately swerving at a group of bike riders wasn’t lying when he said the car was stolen; he faces multiple charges for car theft and driving without a license.

A new British government program will spend the equivalent of $645,000 to train driving instructors to teach bicycle awareness to their students.

 

Competitive Cycling

The Continental Jelly Belly-Maxxis team could be on its way out after 18 years, after Jelly Belly announces it’s pulling out at the end of this year.

An Indiana mountain biker is still winning races after 25 years.

 

Finally…

Apparently, you ride like a moose. An injured goose’s goose isn’t  cooked, thanks to a pair of bike riders.

And evidently, there were no major advances in road bikes before 1948.

 

Arrests announced in the double South LA hit-and-runs that killed Frederick Frazier, and injured Quatrell Stallings

No Morning Links today due to today’s breaking news.

I’ll try to catch up tomorrow with a rare Saturday edition; if not, we’ll see you on Monday. 

………

We finally know a little more about the arrest in the hit-and-run death of Frederick Frazier.

Frazier, known as Woon to his friends, was killed on April 10th as he rode near the intersection of Manchester and Normandie in the Manchester Square neighborhood of South LA.

Twenty-three-year old Mariah Kandise Banks was initially arrested after turning herself in on May 11th.

However, KTLA-5 reports the LA District Attorney’s office referred the case back to the police for further investigation.

Banks was taken into custody again on Wednesday; Streetsblog LA reports she will likely be charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run.

LAPD officers said she traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the crash.

Here’s how Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman described it.

From the surveillance footage, it appears abundantly clear that Banks was speeding.

She was also flying through a gutter lane peppered with parked cars along the length of Manchester, meaning that, at the very least, her intent was a self-centered one: to get around other vehicles she saw as moving too slowly. To do so, she was likely weaving in and out of the gutter lane as quickly as possible – there was even a car parked in the lane thirty or forty yards up from where Frazier’s body lay.

She deliberately put herself in a position where her only options were to slow as she approached parked cars until there was an opening in the adjacent lane that she could move into or to intermittently accelerate and weave recklessly at high speed.

According to the police, Banks admitted she was driving the SUV, and told investigators she simply panicked and fled.

Which does not explain why police found her formerly white Porsche Cayenne painted black in an obvious attempt to disguise it, apparently with a brush, when they served a search warrant in Moreno Valley.

Banks called police a few hours after that to turn herself in.

The LA Times reports police are still investigating, and other arrests are possible.

Which seems appropriate, since initial reports indicated there were two passengers in the car, who both failed to come forward after the crash. And there may be others who aided in the cover-up.

Remarkably, Frazier’s mother has forgiven Banks, according to the Times.

“I have compassion for the lady,” Owens said “I can’t imagine what it’s like for her, I can’t imagine what it feels like living with this.

“There’s no good ending to it,” she added.

KTLA reports she had previously said Frazier had Type 1 diabetes, and rode a bike to manage his weight.

“He worked full time and he has a car but he wanted to get his miles in, so he rode his bike,” she said at the time. “He didn’t deserve to die because he rode his bike.”

No one does.

There’s an effort led by some of Frazier’s friends to get protected bike lanes on Manchester — as called for in both the city’s mobility and Vision Zero plans — in response to his death.

But as usual, it only comes after it’s already too late.

Especially for Frederick Frazier’s mother and his pregnant girlfriend.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for video of the press conference. Top photo from Facebook via Streetsblog. 

………

Police also made an arrest in the intentional hit-and-run that followed the next day.

The LAPD took 19-year old Alana Ealy into custody on May 30th on suspicion of attempted murder following a nearly two-month manhunt.

Ealy had been caught on video arguing with bicyclists who had blocked the intersection of Manchester and Normandie on April 11th to protest Frazier’s death.

She was then filmed plowing directly into Quatrell Stallings as he blocked the intersection with his bike, and nearly hit a woman as she was crossing the street with her dogs.

Police found her car the next day, but were unable to locate Ealy.

According to Streetsblog’s Sulaiman,

They were able to identify her from images that had been captured of her altercation with cyclists and forensic evidence gathered from the car. But they speculated that she could be hiding in one of several different locations. Ealy was finally located by the Fugitive Task Force on the evening of May 30. According to LASD records, however, despite being charged with attempted murder, she was released on $50,000 bail in the early hours of June 1. No court date has yet been set in that case.

Meanwhile Stallings is still recovering from injuries that include head trauma, a broken leg and ankle, head injuries and surgery to repair his knee.

Sadly, the crowdfunding page to help pay his medical expenses has raised less than $500 of the $20,000 goal.

Morning Links: Red light-running bike rider severely injured in DTLA crash, and taking Montclair to task

This is why you always stop for red lights.

And observe the right-of-way.

According to the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division, a bike rider suffered what was described as severe injuries in a collision at Washington and Grand in DTLA yesterday, and was hospitalized in critical condition.

Traffic investigators report that multiple witnesses said the victim ran the red light before being struck.

Personally, I couldn’t care less if you roll a stop sign or two when there’s no one else around. Just be sure to always observe the right-of-way, and stop if there’s conflicting traffic.

But seriously, always stop for red lights — especially if there is cross traffic of any kind.

And never forget that even if there doesn’t appear to be any traffic on the street you’re crossing, that doesn’t mean a speeding driver won’t come out of view and try to make it through the intersection before the light changes.

Which happens far too often. And too often with tragic results.

So just stop and wait a minute or two. Push the beg button if the light doesn’t change. And hesitate for moment before crossing to make sure everyone else stops, as well.

Because it beats the hell out of waking up in the ICU.

Or not waking up at all.

I hope you’ll join me in offering a prayer or best wishes for the victim, and hope for a full and fast recovery.

Photo from LAPD Central Traffic Division.

………

He gets it.

Writing for Streetsblog, Mehmet Berker does a great job of slicing and dicing the new Montclair distracted walking ordinance that bans the use of electronic devices, including earpieces, while crossing the street.

Never mind that most drivers have their windows up and sound systems blaring. If they’re not too busy texting.

More to the point, the Montclair ordinance is at best a well-intentioned but misguided attempt at making safer streets – legislated by city leaders who suffer from extreme windshield bias. It’s also one more example of our car-centric society’s tendency to classify city streets as spaces solely for automobiles and place the responsibility for safety on anyone who is not driving.

………

Local

Pasadena plans to extend its biking and walking networks — although the latter is usually known as sidewalks — as well as increasing the density of the Metro Bike bikeshare to 800 bikes at three docks per square mile, to help met climate goals.

The latest SGV Connect podcast discusses the proposed Orange Grove Blvd lane reconfiguration, as well as attempts to halt the popular Rose Bowl rides.

La Verne is moving forward with development of a new Active Transportation Plan.

Santa Monica adopts an “emergency” law allowing it to impound shared mobility devices, aka Bird scooters and dockless bikeshare bikes, that pose a hazard to others when left on the sidewalk or in the street.

The LACBC is holding their March RideSELA community bike ride this Sunday through the Willowbrook and Florence-Firestone neighborhoods. Check to make sure it’s still on with this weekend’s predicted rain, however.

 

State

Encinitas commissioners unanimously support plans to convert a deadly section of Highway 101 to a complete street through the Leucadia neighborhood, including bike lanes and six roundabouts. This is the same stretch of roadway where Los Angeles randonneur Jim Swarzman was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver in 2011; his killer was eventually sentenced to just two years behind bars.

A Santa Barbara bike rider gets caught for running a stop sign in the city’s latest crackdown, as a dangerous underpass prepares for a road diet.

San Francisco plans to replace its fleet of firetrucks with smaller trucks that can fit on narrower streets. Although the purpose of the change is not to reduce conflicts with bike advocates, as the headline suggests, but to save lives.

Bike East Bay reports there are a number of bike jobs available in the Bay Area, from bike shops and bikeshare to advocacy groups.

A trio of Oakland letter writers say there are actually road diets in the city that are safe and successful.

Officials will now spend $100,000 to study backing out of a promised bike lane across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, and converting it to car use instead. Which should tell you how bicyclists rank in their priorities, when drivers get 100% of the bridge, and everyone else gets zip.

 

National

US speed skater Mia Manganello credits bicycling with helping her win the first American women’s medal in the sport in 16 years.

A new study suggests the obsession cities have with bike helmets could actually be undermining more effective ways to improve safety, noting that the real problem is people getting hit by cars.

Portland is using bicycles to revitalize a strip mall district originally build around cars. Which sounds pretty much like most of Los Angeles. So if they can do it, so can we.

A small town in Washington state passed an ordinance requiring all bike riders and skaters to wear a helmet, regardless of age.

A University of Texas student insists the local bikeshare system should provide riders with helmets. Even though there have been only two deaths on all the bikeshares operating throughout the US.

Apparently Copenhagenize’s Mikael Colville-Andersen doesn’t love Minneapolis anymore, dropping it from his list of the world’s 20 best bike cities, even though he used to recommend it. And even though he’s never been there.

Fast Company looks at New York’s bizarre crackdown on ebike-riding delivery people, and how they are being abandoned by their employers.

A Jewish letter writer concludes that the reason his brother died in a 1971 bicycling wreck while his son survived another New York bike crash 44 years later is that his brother wasn’t wearing a helmet, while his son was. Or it could have something to do with his brother getting hit by a bus.

The father of a fallen Florida bicyclist calls for more sidewalks to protect riders. A better solution would be more bike lanes — especially protected bike lanes — since sidewalk riding actually increases the risk of a wreck.

Unbelievable. After a Florida driver gets arrested for the drunken, hit-and-run death of a man on a bicycle — at over 2.5 times the legal alcohol limit — he calls the victim a dumbass for riding in the lane, and says the police should go arrest the victim’s family instead.

Miami is about to get its first woonerf, where cars, bikes and pedestrians share the street on equal terms.

 

International

A St. John’s, Newfoundland college professor is using the BikeMaps platform to develop a map of dangerous locations for bike riders.

Torontoist is back, and says it’s time to make structural solutions to the roads, because our addiction to driving is costing us lives.

A new British study shows that bicycling can help keep you young in more ways than one, including protecting the immune system. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the heads-up.

The Guardian’s Laura Laker says yes, people on bikes to stupid things, but the real danger comes from the people wrapped in two tons of glass and steel. And a bill cracking down on dangerous cycling won’t help.

Life is cheap in the UK, where a van driver gets community service in the death of a bike rider, after making the equivalent of a left cross in front of the victim, who had the right-of-way.

Donors have raised the equivalent of over $33,000 for South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala, who was attacked by three men who tried to cut his legs off with a chainsaw. There’s still no explanation for the bizarre attack.

A New Zealand columnist says shopkeepers are just being complete idiots for opposing a bike lane that could boost their business.

 

Finally…

When you bounce off the hood of a car, your stunt riding has probably gone just a tad too far. And who needs a ciclovía when you’ve got your own F1 track?

Morning Links: Justice for Deborah Gresham, bike settlements soar due to bad LA streets, and BAC meets tomorrow

Finally, there’s justice for a fallen bike rider.

It’s been 16 months since Walking Dead fan page author Deborah Gresham was hit by a driver while riding her bike in Stanton.

And left to die in the street, literally within site of her own home.

The driver, Ricardo Hernandez Sandoval, was arrested less than an hour later after horrified witnesses followed him to his home. He was booked on charges of felony hit and run, felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.

Now I’ve been informed that he was sentenced on Friday to four years for vehicular manslaughter under the influence, and five years for the fatal hit-and-run, to be served consecutively.

In other words, nine years total, along with fines and restitution.

I’m also told the assistant DA had to wipe tears from his eyes when Gresham’s children gave their witness statements.

It won’t bring Deborah Gresham back. But for once, a fallen SoCal cyclist got justice from the courts.

If you haven’t yet, take a few minutes to read Peter Flax’s moving, must-read story about this tragedy. Photo from Ghost Bikes LA.

………

Great story in the LA Times about the soaring cost of settlements involving bike riders who were injured due to the city’s failing streets.

According to the story, the City of Los Angeles settled with 17 bicyclists last year for a total of $19 million, over four times more than in any previous year.

That’s $19 million that could have gone to fixing the streets before anyone got hurt, rather than waiting until it was too late.

It was those settlements that inspired Councilmember Mitch Englander’s misguided proposal to ban the striping of bike lanes on any streets with less than an A pavement grade, and removing any existing ones from streets with a B or less.

Which would leave few, if any, bike lanes anywhere in Los Angeles.

And only serve to increase the city’s liability when bike riders continue to get injured on streets that used to have bikeways.

The story quotes me on that, as well as talking with BikinginLA sponsor and Calbike board member Josh Cohen.

………

The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee will meet tomorrow night in Hollywood; the BAC is the only official voice for bike riders in the City of LA.

………

The LACBC has unveiled a new video explaining who they are and what they do as part of their 20th Anniversary Celebration.

………

Local

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ridden a bike through there to learn that the intersection of Devonshire Street and Reseda Blvd is the most dangerous one in the state.

LA2050 is offering a total of $1 million in grants to five organizations for projects designed to make Los Angeles, “the best place to learn, create, play, connect and live.” Applications will start being accepted on March 1st.

A bike rider was hit by a car in Pacific Palisades last Wednesday; no word on how the victim is doing. The driver somehow claimed to be driving just 15 mph in a 45 mph zone at the time of the crash.

Tomorrow the UCLA Bicycle Academy intends to confront the members of the Regents Health Services Committee to demand that the statewide UC Health system lose its automotive bias and recognize the health benefits of bicycling.

LA celebrated the official opening of a one-block long Green Street in the Del Rey neighborhood, connecting Westlawn Ave with the Ballona Creek bike path.

 

State

Sad news from Hesperia, where a father drowned rescuing his nine-year old son from the California Aqueduct, after the boy slipped in as they rode their bicycles along the canal.

Caltrans is warning about construction delays on the the coastal bike path north of Ventura through the month of February, though the path will remain open.

A decision could be made this week on the proposed San Luis Obispo bike boulevard that has brought the anti-bikeway NIMBYs out of the woodwork.

For the first time, you won’t need a vintage bicycle to participate in the Eroica California in Paso Robles.

More sad news, this time from Oakland, where a man on a bike was killed in a collision with a big rig truck.

 

National

Slate says requiring bicyclists to wear sensors so self-driving cars don’t crash into them is cheating, and autonomous vehicles should be able to spot people riding bicycles on their own, without outside help.

Details have been released for this year’s Ride the Rockies bike tour through the Colorado high country; it will cover 418 miles and nearly 26,000 feet of vertical climbing in six days. And it will visit the tiny lakefront town where my mother worked as a waitress when she was just 18.

Seriously? The death of a Kansas cyclist competing in the state time trial in 2015 was the catalyst for a proposed state law prohibiting negligent driving. Except the penalty would be a whopping $45, which isn’t likely to change anyone’s driving habits.

Michigan is doubling the width of a four-foot bike lane and adding other safety improvements, after two women were killed there two years ago. Maybe they could try making improvements like that before someone gets killed. Which goes for Los Angeles, and everywhere else, as well.

New York news media goes berserk after mobs of “crazed, angry cyclists” swarm drivers, smashing a car window and punching a driver. Although it turns out it was really just 16 teenagers on bicycles, and the cop who was injured was hit by a car making a U-turn to go after them.

 

International

Canadian cross-country ski clubs are slowly opening their trails to fat bikes.

Ofo dockless bikeshare comes to London, as the Guardian says it will be to cycling what Uber is to taxis.

LA bike riders aren’t the only ones who have to deal with crappy pavement.

The economic impact of bicycling adds the equivalent of nearly $1 billion to the Scottish economy.

 

Competitive Cycling

The incomparable Katie Compton had to settle for second place in the women’s world cyclocross championships, finishing behind Belgian Sanne Cant.

Belgium’s Wout van Aert won the men’s world cyclocross title for the third consecutive year.

 

Finally…

Buy a bike, bore your dinner companions. UFC champ Connor McGregor is one of us.

And yes, you just got dropped by a priest on a folding bike.

No doubt staged, but still fun.

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