Tag Archive for Bicycling While Black

“I can’t breathe”: Las Vegas bike rider killed by cops over bike light; over $110,000 raised for SoCal cycling diversity

Nine months ago, it was a needless tragedy.

Today it stands as yet another reminder why so many people of all races are taking to the streets to demand justice, and change.

It was last September when a man died in police custody after a Las Vegas cop kneeled on his back, ignoring his repeated cries of “I can’t breathe.”

Sound familiar?

This is what I had to say at the time.

Once again, a man has died at the hands of police for what began as a simple traffic stop.

When a Las Vegas man took off running after police tried to pull him over for not having a headlight on his bike, a pair of cops chased him down, then kneeled on his back as the man complained he couldn’t breathe.

Which turned out to be his last words.

He was found with drugs and a gun, and had slipped an ankle monitor, which explains why he ran.

But what it doesn’t explain is why police didn’t respond to his complaint about not being able to breathe once they had him in custody.

And why they allowed a traffic stop to escalate into a lethal use of force.

What’s missing there is any reference to the victim’s race.

In retrospect, it almost goes without saying that he was Black, although the only reference to his race was a photo from the police press conference and a news report showing the victim’s grieving family.

And he had a name.

Byron Lee Williams.

I didn’t mention it at the time; I don’t normally mention the names of people outside of Southern California, and often not then.

But in retrospect, I should have.

Because he joins a long and growing list of black people unjustly killed by police.

Names like Rayshard BrooksGeorge Floyd, Breanna Taylor and Michael Brown.

And Byron Lee Williams.

Which is not so say Williams didn’t do anything wrong. But nothing he did called for the death penalty. Or a summary execution without the benefit of a judge and jury.

And it never should have been allowed to escalate from something as minor as a simple traffic stop for a missing damn bike light.

Now Williams’ family is renewing their calls for justice, joining a loud, mournful and growing chorus of loved ones needlessly left behind.

As well they should. Especially in light of this, from a story released yesterday by NBC News.

Thompkins and Scott said the additional video showed officers dragging Williams around a corner, his body still limp, before dropping him on the ground. At one point, Thompkins said, the video showed Williams asking for an ambulance and an officer telling Williams that nobody was coming to help him.

Williams then fell silent, lying on the ground as the officers laughed and discussed weekend plans, Thompkins said.

I’ve known a lot of cops over the years, and worked with several as part of the LAPD’s bike liaison program.

With a few notable exceptions, most have struck me as caring men and women who want to do the right thing. And many want bad cops off the force as much as anyone else.

Although their union is another matter.

I’ve been quick to call the police out when they do something wrong. But I also recognize that my white skin means my experience isn’t the same as what my Black and brown friends have to go through at their hands.

And it’s entirely possible to recognize that police officers have dangerous jobs, and hope they all make it home at the end of his or her shift, while still recognizing that things have to change. Major, systemic changes.

It isn’t a matter of Black and white, liberal or conservative.

Just right and wrong.

Because we all have a right to get back home safely, and in one piece.

Regardless of skin color.

Thanks to David Drexler for the heads-up.

………

Great news from former national road, crit and track champ Justin Williams, whose crowdfunding campaign for his Legion of Los Angeles cycling team has raised well over twice the original $50,000 goal to promote diversity in the sport.

He had this to say on his new From The Gun With L39ION podcast, as quoted by Cycling News.

“Wow, that’s been crazy,” said Williams of the fundraiser. “We set the mark at $50,000 because we thought that would be a decent number, and I want to share with you guys what we are going to put all of that toward. It’s more than doubled so we will figure out more stuff to put it toward, but for the most part we will put the money toward team infrastructure.

“The funds will allows us to do team camps and more community engagement, which is something I really like to do. We will bring back junior day camps and BBQs, and elevate what that was. We’ll break it up into three and four hours with the whole L39ION team, and then break up into groups … and it will be open to every junior team.”

Nice to see someone rewarded for doing good work.

………

Authorities have identified the victim of Wednesday’s e-scooter fatality in Silver Lake as 68-year old Los Angeles resident Timothy Stirton.

He was killed when a driver speeding at least twice the posted 35 mph speed limit slammed into him before crashing into a local restaurant.

The driver, a woman in her 70s, said her car began to accelerate when she tried to slow it down, and only drove onto the wrong side of the road to avoid crashing into other vehicles.

Which sounds less like a mechanical failure than yet another argument for testing older drivers on a regular basis, before they mistake the gas pedal for the brakes.

………

The latest video from GCN explores the eternal question of whether you should get a roadie or a gravel bike.

If you can even find one in this market, that is.

………

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

No bias here. A Vancouver woman says a decision to close a local park to cars while a bike lane is built is just an example of knee-jerk anti-car hostility, and accuses the “bike lobby” of bullying. Funny how people who oppose bike projects are just concerned citizens, but supporters always seem to be part of some shadowy bike lobby.

Sometimes it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

An accused Chechen hit man was apparently one of us, after he was seen throwing a wig, gun and a bicycle into a German river; prosecutors allege he murdered a Georgian man on orders from the Russian government.

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Local

The LA-area Helpful Honda Dealers teamed with the LAPD to buy a new adaptive tricycle for a Sherman Oaks boy with Down’s syndrome, after his was stolen last month.

Britney Spears is one of us, going for a bike ride with her boyfriend as part of a “fun-filled” day out.

 

State

Redding has become the first place in California to be honored with a bronze medal by the International Mountain Bicycle Association for its extensive trail system.

The fight over bike lanes is usually the need to remove parking spaces. In Santa Barbara, it means removing some fully grown trees.

A Fresno woman ran inside her house and locked the door after she was approached by a stranger. So he went into her open garage and walked off with a $1,700 ebike.

 

National

The New York Times offers detailed advice on how to start riding a bike in the age of coronavirus and bike shortages. Meanwhile, HuffPo offers suggestions from experienced bike riders for new urban bicyclists; always being predictable is a good place to start.

Streetsblog says this could be micromobility’s big moment as it experiences “stratospheric jumps” in usage around the US despite, or maybe because of, the pandemic.

A college professor explains how he lost 55 pounds after he changed careers and started bike commuting.

Portland bicyclists are riding to support Black Lives Matter protests and demand changes.

Never mind bike lanes. Cincinnati has over 570 miles of bike trails in the greater metro area.

Seriously? Buffalo NY residents are demanding changes after 120 pedestrians and 41 bike riders have been hit by drivers on a single street over the past five years, including three fatalities. Yet city officials have refused to implement traffic calming measures to save lives.

New York Streetsblog looks at the role bicycles play as a means of protest and exposing racism.

A Georgetown, Delaware organization bought a new bicycle for a 17-year old boy so he can get to work and keep his job.

Kindhearted Virginia cops dipped into their own pockets to buy a new bike for a young boy whose new bicycle was stolen just four hours after he got it, then they recovered his original bike in a creek; the boy’s parents say they’ll fix it up and give it to someone who needs one.

An Alabama man takes hit-and-run to the extreme, firing a gun in the street before assaulting a bike rider and stealing his bicycle, then fleeing on foot before he was captured by police.

Miami bike riders are in the same sinking boat as we Angelenos, as city leader leaders have failed to taken steps to accommodate the boom in bicycling.

No bias here, either. A letter writer in Key Biscayne, Florida demands a vote on a proposed new bike lane, saying bicyclists “don’t pay tolls or add to the economy, and in fact are just not good neighbors.” And swears locals will never give up their golf carts for a bike.

 

International

Scotland Yard is looking for a suspected serial bike thief accused of stealing nearly $12,500 worth of bicycles throughout the London area.

A Scottish op-ed calls bicyclists a threat to mature walkers, noting that older people may not be able to hear whistles or spoken warnings. Always ride with care around pedestrians of any age, and give them as wide a berth as possible, for their safety and yours.

The bike boom is real in the UK, and so is the bike shortage. One woman learns the bike she ordered won’t arrive until next year.

A new conversion kit from a Polish company promises to turn your bike into a smart ebike in just ten minutes.

Bikes are booming big time in Bangladesh, too.

An award-winning journalist is the subject of a fatwa from an Iranian cleric calling for her death, after she called for women to be allowed to ride bikes in the conservative Islamic country.

 

Competitive Cycling

London’s Black Cycling Network has launched the UK’s first Black and ethnic minority cycling team.

Pez Cycling News talks with former Swedish cycling star Marianne Berglund, who won over a hundred races in the ’80s and ’90s.

 

Finally…

How to ride your bike nearly 300 hours and not get anywhere. No, Jeep’s new ped-assist ebike is not a threat to Harley Davidson’s new $30,000 e-hog.

And riding around an airport can be a real blast.

That’s not a good thing.

………

Happy Juneteenth, and happy Father’s Day this Sunday.

Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

Morning Links: LAPD cop charged in beating of bike rider, Biking While Black in FL, and Facebook bike drama

An LAPD officer has been charged with assault in the October beating of a South LA bike rider.

Twenty-two-year old Clinton Alford, Jr. fled from officers when they tried to stop him because he allegedly matched the description of a robbery suspect.

According to Alford, he ran when someone grabbed the back of his bike because the officers failed to identify themselves, and he only became aware of who they were when he was being held down and handcuffed with his hands behind his back.

After all, why would anyone look back to see who was chasing him as he fled for his life?

It was while he was face down trying to surrender that LAPD officer Richard Garcia allegedly kicked him in the head, repeatedly, in an attack that was captured on a nearby security camera. Police say they have no intention of releasing the video, despite the demands of Alford’s lawyer for it to be made public.

According to KTLA-5, he was kicked so hard he lost a filling from his teeth; other officers at the scene called the attack horrific, describing it as like someone kicking a field goal, with Alford’s head as the ball.

Garcia has entered a not guilty plea. He faces up to three years in jail if he’s convicted.

The LA Times reports three other officers and a sergeant have been relieved of duty and assigned to their homes while the investigation continues.

All charges against Alford, for possession and resisting arrest, have been dropped.

………

Shameful.

Fifty years after Selma, people are still ticketed for Bicycling While Black, as eight out of ten of the 2,504 bike tickets written in Tampa FL in the last three years — more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined — went to African American residents.

Seriously, it’s long past time this country put this kind of crap behind us. No one should face fear for riding a bike, especially not from police.

………

KCBS-2 offers a good report on Sunday’s Finish the Ride; for a change, someone in the media actually seems to get it.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers an update on the current status of hit-and-run, saying we’ve made progress, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

………

Major Facebook drama, as an apparent cyclist fires back after Burbank racer Troy Templin posted a photo of a BMW that he says nearly ran him over because, as he claims the driver said, “you were in my way.”

Someone identifying himself as Peter Richardson professed to tell his version of what really happened, claiming Templin “committed multiple acts of violence” simply because the woman honked to let him know she was there, and he had to be run off by a security guard when he wouldn’t let her exit the car. He even includes stills from a security camera to support his claims.

However, the view in the photos is so distant it could show anyone, and it’s impossible to tell from them what may or may not be happening.

And as a commenter to Richardson’s post points out, the photos on his Facebook page were lifted from other websites, raising questions as to whether he actually exists, or if the persona was created simply to go after Templin in retaliation for the photo.

It is curious that his timeline only goes back to April 15th, two weeks after the original photo was posted online.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

………

Local

The Times belatedly catches up with the news that the proposed California helmet law has been converted to a study of helmet use by the CHP and the state Office of Traffic Safety; BikinginLA sponsor Michael Rubinstein offers his take on it.

The Daily News lists bicycling as one of the top five eco-friendly ways to get around in LA, while Slate asks if LA can sell the myth of a green, sustainable city.

Alhambra police bust a thief who tried to escape with one of their own bikes on Sunday; the apparently remorseful man wrote of letter of apology from his jail cell.

 

State

A 24-year old San Jose woman is under arrest for slamming into a Miltipas bike rider who was standing on the sidewalk, then crashing into a mini-golf course before fleeing in another car.

An elderly Palo Alto woman was seriously injured in a collision with a cyclist; the rider was coming around a blind curve at speed when he ran into the woman as she crossed the street.

A San Francisco cyclist was seriously injured when he was deliberately rammed by an Uber driver following a violent road rage dispute in which he reportedly pounded on the driver’s car and pushed its mirror in. Seriously, I’m as hot tempered as anyone, but resorting to violence only makes things worse.

Marin County’s new bicycling museum will open this June; maybe they’ll include one of those rental bikes that Sausalito councilmember wants to get rid of.

 

National

A new study shows drivers are more likely to ignore crosswalks at speeds over 30 mph. I wonder what a similar study would have to say about bike lanes and sharrows.

An Anchorage cyclist says ride defensively, because your life may depend on it; good advice anywhere.

If cops in my hometown are reluctant to ticket cyclists because they feel bad about writing tickets that can reach $170 including fees, imagine how the riders feel about getting them.

Minnesota researchers determine that bike lane density — the measure of bike lanes within a given area — matters more than connectivity when it comes to encouraging ridership.

A Knoxville TN bicyclist suffers multiple non-life-threatening injuries when he’s hit by an SUV, but the only thing a local TV station seems to care about is his lack of a helmet.

Mashable looks at a decade of ghost bikes, while New Yorkers conduct the 10th Annual Ghost Bike Memorial Ride, visiting some of the 150 memorials to people who have lost their lives riding in the city.

Just like countless bicyclists everywhere, Shreveport bike riders says motorists need to be more aware of cyclists and the laws governing bikes. Especially the requirement to ride in the street where sidewalk riding is illegal — and the right to do so everywhere else.

 

International

Vancouver’s Van City Buzz gets it right, saying the media’s focus on shiny new safety gadgets is no substitute for proven safety measures like traffic calming and an effective bicycle infrastructure network.

Guardian readers relate their heart-stopping near-misses on the road; unfortunately, that’s something we can all relate to. Meanwhile, hundreds of people turn out for a vigil demanding a stop to killing cyclists; even so, Britain’s Labour Party may be backpedalling in its support for bicycling.

A soccer player is killed when a train smashes into on of those pedal-powered multi-passenger beer bikes in The Netherlands.

Turkey’s president rides through Istanbul to kick off the country’s 51st Presidential Tour of Turkey; he promised to make the city more bike friendly, while saying they “couldn’t manage to make people love the bicycle.”

A road raging Aussie driver hits a woman participating in a charity ride, then drives off with the mangled bike still trapped under her car.

Taking ciclovía to the next level, as one neighborhood in a Korean city bans cars from the streets for a full month.

 

Finally…

Now you can wear matching outfits when you ride with your dog. A word of advice: don’t try to use a mountain bike as a getaway vehicle if you can’t manage to ride it.

And a Portland BMX rider could be facing an expensive bill after riding over a parked $350,000 Lamborghini; the owner says he’s getting estimates to repair damage to the windshield.

Unless it’s all a publicity stunt, of course.

 

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