Tag Archive for court cases

Day one of Scarpa murder trial, tell LA to stop street racing and loud engines, and CHP responsible for East LA hit-and-run

Our anonymous Orange County correspondent is back to cover this week’s trial of Stephen Taylor Scarpa for murder.

Scarpa allegedly ran down popular Costa Mesa fire captain and father Mike Kreza in a drug-fueled crash three years ago, as Kreza was riding a bicycle in Mission Viejo to train for a triathlon.

Here’s what she had to say about the lead-up to the long-delayed trial.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa‘s jury trial starts on Monday. So far, Judge Patrick Donahue has decided to allow the video of Scarpa’s participation in his high school’s “Every 15 Minutes” event, as well as testimony from fellow personnel of the rehab centers he worked at. The People’s exhibits will probably also include the DMV’s letter of license revocation and a diagram (but no photographs) of the victim’s many injuries.

Since Scarpa has a long-standing association with drugs, his medical records might be presented as well. The judge finds that this is not in violation of HIPAA. Despite the lack of a previous arrest for DUI, there is sooo much other evidence, strong evidence, that Scarpa knew the dangers of impaired driving, the DA might not even bother to present these records. Scarpa had jaw-dropping levels of assorted drugs in his system, and his blood was not drawn until 4 hours after the collision.

His Honor has forbidden Kreza’s fellow firefighters to attend the trial in full uniform, and friends & family will not be allowed to wear clothing or badges with the deceased’s likeness. I am sorely tempted to get a T-shirt printed up with “It’s about time” in bold letters, because according to the arresting officer, these were Scarpa’s words as the handcuffs were slapped on.

And this is how she reported on the first day of public testimony in the trial.

Oh, man, I’m not hopeful.

The Scarpa trial began Monday morning. Deputy DA Michael Feldman began opening statements by thanking the victim’s friends and family for coming. As stipulated by the judge, no uniformed firefighters were present inside the courtroom. But they were out in the hallway to provide support for the widow and other family members. There was no mention that Mr. Kreza himself had been a firefighter.

In a PowerPoint presentation bannered by the misspelled name of the defendant, Mr. Feldman tersely listed the basic facts that support the People’s charge, among them Scarpa’s participation in his high school’s “Every 15 Minutes” program, his rehab stints, and his employment as a behavioral health technician. “He’s gonna be the one to tell you first hand,” insisted Mr. Feldman, pointing at the defendant, that he was aware of the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. To this end, the People played audio files of the interrogation, in which Mr. Scarpa tells the investigating deputy, “I do it, but I don’t condone it,” a tacit and unambiguous confession. Mr. Scarpa clutched tissues as the DA played his confession that he’d driven impaired with his own young daughter in the car.

Feldman then went on to use the word “accident” several times during his opening statement. AUUUUURGH. That is the entire premise of the defense. It’s almost like he’s trying to hand Mr. Scarpa an acquittal with a big red shiny bow.

Mr. Lowenstein, for the Defense, insisted that the collision had been an “accident,” and that Mr. Scarpa’s actions did not meet the legal definition of implied malice. He stated that the prescription drugs found in Scarpa’s system do not, as opposed to Feldman’s assertion, have warning stickers telling users not to drive. The defense asked whether Scarpa acted with “conscious disregard” (without underscoring the impossibility because Scarpa was, in fact, unconscious at the time of impact).

The Defense told the jury that Scarpa, though drugged up after a party, drove approximately 25 miles without incident, and there was no evidence that he was speeding. He went on to loftily praise Scarpa’s parking (“snug against the curb”!) after the collision, and reiterated several times that he did not attempt to flee afterwards. The collision was merely “a split second in time, a miscalculation, a perfect storm of events.”  Scarpa’s temporary inattention, “a fraction of a second,” and impaired state led to “a perfect storm of events.” (Lowenstein also mentioned something about a perfect storm of events.)

Both Feldman and Lowenstein brought up the words Mr. Scarpa uttered upon his official arrest: “It’s about time.” The People assert that this indicated Mr. Scarpa’s acceptance of a long-anticipated outcome. The Defense suggested that Mr. Scarpa had been expecting an arrest only for the duration of his lengthy interrogation.

First to testify was widow Shana Kreza, who identified a photo of her late husband, and briefly described the family’s Saturday morning, getting ready for their daughter’s soccer game. Mr. Kreza had left on his bicycle, but never arrived at the soccer field.

Next on the witness stand was the first responding officer, who described taking initial command of the scene, Mr. Kreza’s broken body, the agitation of the suspect, and the actions of the Good Samaritans.

The next two witnesses had been in the car behind Scarpa. Ragan Hill and her nephew, Cage Morgan, were putting up garage sale signs in the neighborhood. Hill saw Scarpa’s minivan leave the roadway. As it took out shrubs and saplings on the embankment to the right of the sidewalk (where Kreza was riding his bicycle, despite the adjacent bike lane), she saw a body fly off the top of the minivan.

Morgan described his aunt yell, “Oh my god, look at that car!” He diverted his attention from his phone to see Scarpa’s minivan returning to the roadway, with a trailing cloud of debris. He watched as a man fell off the minivan’s roof onto the road. Hill hit the brakes, stopping about 5-10 feet from Kreza’s prone, bloody body. Morgan called 911, and both exited the vehicle to assist.

Scarpa had parked by the curb and exited his minivan as well, but didn’t approach his victim or the witnesses. Instead, he sat on the curb, fidgeting. “My first thought,” testified Hill, “was that he was impaired.”

Both Hill and Morgan described the same aspects of the scene: Scarpa’s agitation, Kreza’s bone sticking out of his lower leg. Morgan was afraid to initiate CPR, fearing it would exacerbate Kreza’s injuries. Because Morgan was unsure the collision was accidental and did not know whether Scarpa was dangerous, he didn’t approach the suspect, but gestured questioningly from a distance, with palms up. He kept an eye on Scarpa, who appeared disoriented, because “I was afraid he would flee the scene.”

Deputy Christian Servin was called to the scene to perform a field sobriety test. He first approached the twitchy suspect and asked what was going on. He was apprehensive about asking Scarpa to perform some of the physical field sobriety testing tasks because his lack of balance and coordination might subject him to falls. Deputy Servin’s search found six 800mg gabapentin pills on Scarpa’s person, and Scarpa confirmed he had no prescription. Though Servin had difficulty with communication because Scarpa was “in and out” of it, he was able to determine that Scarpa had not slept for two days, had smoked .25g of meth 36 hours prior, had fresh tracks from injecting a fentanyl/meth mixture, had taken Suboxone at a party that morning, and had taken lorazepam. Scarpa stated that he had no medical conditions, and (and) that he was under a doctor’s care. (This doctor, perhaps?) Scarpa also stated he knew he should not have been driving, because he was “upset,” and he believed that he had crashed into a tree and several people.

At this point, court recessed for lunch, and I had to split ’cause I have graveyard shifts, but I’m all free for Day 2.

Meanwhile, the Daily Pilot says the case will hinge on intent, and whether Scarpa intentionally committed the act that resulted in Kreza’s death.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels.

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Our anonymous correspondent also added this note.

EMT students are required to attend one rotation in a hospital emergency department. I did this.

The morning started off slow, and the nurses had zero interest in talking with me, so I poked my head into an exam room and announced to the patient that I was there to check her vitals. She consented and while I took her pulse, I asked what brought her to the ER. She stated that she had passed out while making a left turn (in a major intersection, btw) and had crashed into a fire hydrant. I sympathized with her awful morning, and then asked what she’d had for breakfast. Nothing. I suggested that it was always a good idea to fuel up to start your day. Then I asked whether she was on any medications. She had taken a prescription narcotic analgesic before she took her kids to school. “And you drove?” She confirmed this. I informed her that it was dangerous to drive under the influence, and her pill bottle even had a warning sticker added to the prescription label. She insisted there was no such warning, so we pulled the bottle out of her purse to look at it.

I read the warning out loud: “Do not operate heavy machinery.”

She protested, with frustration at my stupidity, “I wasn’t operating heavy machinery. I was just driving my car.”

(Ed. note: Because evidently multi-ton cars aren’t, well, you know…)

There are warnings of “Don’t drive until you know how this drug affects you,” even though said drug impairs your cognitive abilities such that you cannot ascertain how the drug impairs you. In the absence of quantification and/or memory, your brain just lies to you: “Everything’s fine.”

Why appropriate phrasing hasn’t been legislated, I don’t know.

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Streets For All is urging you to take action to support a couple of motions on the agenda for this afternoon’s meeting of the LA City Council Public Safety Committee.

Make your voice heard on two key issues this week.

There are two key issues being considered this week at City of Los Angeles Public Safety Committee.

1 – The first (Council File 21-0870) is a motion at the Public Safety Committee to consider re-designing streets to prevent illegal street racing. As much as we fight for lower speed limits, the best way to slow cars down is by redesigning streets all together.

2 – The second (Council File 20-1267) is a motion to reduce illegal exhaust noise in the City of Los Angeles. Modified mufflers disturb the peace and evenincrease our stress hormones and risk of heart disease. While we don’t want more armed officers doing traffic stops, we can solve this by clamping down on the shops that make these illegal modifications.

Here’s how you can help in 2 easy steps:

1) Make public comment using the council file system

If you are unable to make live public comment, the next best thing is writing a message in the council file management system. We have made this easy with a pre-filled template and links.

MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT IN ADVANCE

2) Make public comment live at the committee meetings

The Public Safety Committee is on Wednesday, September 1, at 330pm. Here is the agenda. Call into this meeting to comment on the re-designing streets to curb racing and the illegal exhaust noise issue.

CALL IN INSTRUCTIONS + TALKING POINTS

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Speaking of Streets For All, the political nonprofit is calling on you to fill a vacancy in your local Neighborhood Council if you live in any of the following areas.

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In a Twitter thread, the LACBC calls for accountability from the CHP for the hit-and-run that injured a 14-year old boy in East LA over two months ago.

Despite catching the crash on video, and multiple news reports, they’ve apparently done nothing to hold the officer responsible, or compensate the bike-riding boy for his injuries.

Click on the tweets for the full thread.

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This is who we share the road with.

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

Utah’s Zion National Park is looking for public input on new bike and ebike regulations that would allow bikes in groups of no more than six spread at least a quarter-mile apart, require riders to pull off to the side of the road for buses, and have a bell on your bike to warn people and wildlife. Because everyone knows cougars, skunks and bighorn sheep will politely move aside to let you pass if they hear the dulcet tones of a bike bell announce your presence.

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

San Diego authorities are looking for a bike-riding arsonist who set a series of small fires in the city’s North Park neighborhood earlier this month.

Probably not the best idea to leave a “sanctimonious, passive-aggressive” note on a Portland driver’s car calling out the expired plates, and suggesting they get rid of it and start riding a bicycle.

Police in Lincoln, Nebraska busted a man who stabbed another man in the back in a dispute over an alleged stolen bicycle, then tried to break into an apartment using lock pick tools.

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Local

Bloomberg considers UCLA parking meister Donald Shoup’s call to stop subsidizing drivers at the expense of everyone else, arguing that free parking is killing our cities.

Monrovia’s new “Biking for Bucks” program promises to reimburse people who live or work in the city up to $350 for the purchase of bikes and ebikes, whether for adults or children, as well as bicycle accessories, purchased between July 1st and September 30th of this year. So start shopping, already.

Active SGV teamed with Alhambra and SCAG to install a new popup bike lane, high viz crosswalks and curb extensions on Popular Boulevard in the city to gather public feedback. But hurry of you want to check ’em out, because they’ll be gone this time next week.

 

State

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds teams with San Francisco Transportation Director Jeffrey Tumlin to pen an op-ed for CalMatters in support of AB 43, arguing that speeding drivers should not set speed limits.

 

National

It looks like Outside and VeloNews are joining Bicycling in hiding their stories behind a draconian paywall, on the mistaken assumption that preventing people from reading them will make more people want to. However, unlike Bicycling, the Outside and VeloNews stories don’t appear to be available on Yahoo.

Schwinn’s new I Am A Cyclist ad campaign focuses on marginalized members of the bicycling community to show what kind of people really ride bicycles.

Consumer Reports explains the steps they take to rate bike helmets, while InsideHook looks at the best commuter bike helmets for people who hate to wear one that won’t make you look like a total dork.

Best Buy is jumping head first into the ebike business by selling ebikes, e-scooters, mopeds and electric dirt bikes on their website, as well as in some stores.

A writer for Shape raves that her new Rad Power bike actually makes her comment enjoyable. And no, Best Buy doesn’t sell it.

Police in Colorado are looking for a hit-and-run driver who abandoned his SUV, then fled on foot before stealing a bicycle from a nearby school to make his getaway.

This is who we share the road with, part two. South Dakota’s killer Attorney General was hit with yet another speeding ticket — his seventh in seven years — just days before he was scheduled to go on trial for the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian while on his way home from a fundraiser last year. Yet he’s still allowed to stay on the roads to kill someone else, never mind that the $177.50 fine for a simple speeding ticket is nearly a fifth of what he was fined for actually killing someone.

A new Illinois law will require the state to pick up 100% of the costs for bicycle and walking infrastructure on state roadways; the state had previously required the local community to pay 20%.

A four-year old Michigan girl is able to ride a bicycle for the first time, after a fundraiser brings in enough to buy her an adaptive bike, and cover the cost to buy a bike for someone else, too.

Like drivers everywhere, motorists in Dayton, Ohio seem to have trouble figuring out how the city’s new parking protected bike lanes are supposed to work, parking in the bike lane next to the curb while leaving the parking lane empty.

 

International

Wired says Covid-19 means it’s finally time for the 15-minute city, where living, shopping and work are all within walking distance in the same neighborhood. Unless you live in Los Angeles, that is, where city leaders seem to be firmly committed to keeping everything within an hour and a half drive. Except at rush hour, of course.

Bosch says their new upgrades to ebike batteries and motors promise to make your new ebike ride smarter and farther.

Probably not the best idea to try to steal a bike from inside a British police station.

Life is cheap in Australia, where a driver was sentenced to seven years for the meth-fueled hit-and-run that seriously injured five bike riders last year — but with time served, he’ll be eligible for parole in less than a year.

 

Competitive Cycling

Twenty-year old American cyclist Quinn Simmons refuses to limit his options, dividing his plans for next year between the WorldTour and American gravel races.

Red Bull talks with two-time European mountain bike champ Lars Forster about how he went from riding with his dad to riding with, and beating, the world’s best.

 

Finally…

When your status in the local bicycling community hinges on finding the right bike basket. Get your very own bicycle umbrella for your next rainy ride.

And you’ll have to wait another year for a zombie bike ride in Key West.

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

Justice grinds slowly in SoCal bike cases, reward in previously unknown hit-and-run, and DUI driver injures man on bike path

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from our anonymous legal correspondent.

She’s back today with a long list of cases that are slowly working their way through the court system.

Along with a few killer drivers scheduled to get out from behind bars too damn soon.

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Mariah Kandise Banks, charged in the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier, has yet another prelim reset date coming up on July 13th. This case is just so long and drawn out, and meanwhile, Banks continues to drive and has not ceased her harassment of Woon’s family, in violation of Judge Hobbs’ repeated reminders,

On April 10th, I attended a group march from Woon’s mama’s house to the site of his slaughter, where a new ghost bike was installed. It is really horrible to have to see his mama right there at the scene where a stranger held her son as he died.

In speaking to our group, she told us all she was thankful that so many people showed up and are still fighting to make things safer.

The DA’s office has not been very communicative. I feel that the DA’s office is in violation Marsy’s Law. My understanding is that the clerk has even outright hung up on Miz Beverly. I spoke with Edin (Chief Lunes) at the event, and suggested that perhaps a calm, independent liaison would be helpful in exchanging information. Naturally he volunteered. I spoke to Miz Beverly about this and I think it is a relief to her that she doesn’t have to pick up that phone herself to harangue the prosecutor, who’s really dropping the ball.

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On the subject of long, drawn-out cases, Justin Scott German has his next appearance date on August 18th for the alleged drunken hit-and-run death of 41-year-old Binh Ngo in Huntington Beach.

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Scuzzy Andrea Dorothy Chan Reyes, who told the mechanics who cleaned the blood off her dented car that she’d hit a dog, and subsequently fled to another continent, is eligible for parole in October. Yes, October 2021.

(Chan Reyes was sentenced to seven years just three months ago for the 2017 hit-and-run death of Agustin Rodriguez, after dragging Rodriguez the length of two football fields under her car as she sped away — then fleeing to Hong Kong and Australia in an ultimately vain attempt to avoid prosecution. Evidently, seven years doesn’t last as long as it used to.)

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I remain furious that Brandon James Lindsley only got 7 goddamn years for the hit-and-run death of Carla Becerra while illegally riding a motorcycle on the San Gabriel River Trail, but at least he’s not eligible for parole until… February 2023.

Becerra’s ghost bike is still there next to the river trail, so I added some flowers for her birthday a couple weeks ago.

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Unrelated to bikes, repeat drunk driver Maritza Joana Lara, who killed a dad on Father’s Day and critically injured four other people, then fled the scene on foot before her arrest in Mexico, will be eligible for parole in 2033.

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Stephen Taylor Scarpa, who left Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza’s three little girls fatherless, is still set for a jury trial in August. Scarpa is charged with murder for allegedly driving while stoned when he killed Kreza as the popular firefighter was training for a triathlon while riding in Mission Viejo.

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Richard David Lavalle, charged with murder in the death of a 12-year-old autistic boy as he rode bikes with his dad in a Costa Mesa crosswalk, wants to fire his public defender. If this doesn’t happen, his prelim will likely proceed as scheduled September 21st.

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Robert Calvin Mata, who killed John Crouch at PCH & 1st in downtown Huntington Beach late last month, remains under investigation for DUI (drugs, not alcohol).

A commenter on your blog said that the crosswalk on the south side of that intersection had been removed, but I remember being surprised that one wasn’t intstalled after the new development went in, given the great increase in pedestrian activity it’s brought to that location.

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Ronald Earl Kenebrew, Jr., who was already locked up awaiting a court date on charges of robbery & indecent exposure, was arraigned yesterday on charges of murder, carjacking, and hit & run in the death of Branden Finley as he rode to the Ride For Black Lives in Downtown Los Angeles last year. The court website hasn’t been updated, so I dunno the outcome of his hearing.

LA Superior Court opens back up this week, and I’ll be there to do some digging into a backlog of cases.

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School teacher Molly Jane Hoene had a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 21st, and no further hearings scheduled as yet, but her bail still stands, so I don’t think the charges were dropped. Hoene was arrested for the 2019 hit-and-run death of a homeless bike rider in Silver Lake that was caught on security cam.

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Moises Iscaya, who fled the scene after killing South LA father Jorge Guerra on July 8th as he rode bikes home with his two kids last fall, is likely to be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Investigators found Iscaya three months later, already in custody on multiple unrelated charges, including murder.

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Jared Walter Anderson, who allegedly squished the life out of scooter rider Evan Dyer Faram at Sunset & Vine in 2019, faces the judge again on July 15th.

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On a separate not, last month, on Friday, May 14th, I was waiting for the bus at Fig & Pico about 11am, and a ride rolled by… and rolled and rolled and rolled… I thought the river of bikes was never going to end. I honestly started wondering whether they had just looped a few blocks and were going around in a circle. A young man yelled an invitation, so I jumped in and followed a guy riding backwards for at least a half mile. To this day I still don’t know what this ride was!!!!! All ages. Guys, gals. Fixie trash. Insta-girls. Geezers on trikes. BMX kids. Dogs in backpacks, dogs in baskets. Spandex, cargo shorts, hot pants, and a skirt or two… everybody and all their neighbors. Just an amazing encounter. Los Angeles, 2021. Wow.

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The LAPD announced a $50,000 reward for the hit-and-run driver who killed Leo Dimeglio as he was riding his bicycle on eastbound Jefferson Blvd around 11:41 p.m on June 10th.

Unfortunately, this is the first we’ve heard of the fatal crash. It shouldn’t take nearly three weeks for the police to inform the public that an innocent person has been killed. Let alone ask for our help in apprehending a heartless, cowardly, killer driver.

I’ll have a more detailed story later today.

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Once again, a driver has gotten onto a supposedly carfree bike trail — this time with tragic results.

An alleged drunk driver somehow got onto Sacramento’s popular American River Parkway and slammed into the Sacramento Wheelmen group ride, leaving one rider in critical condition with severe injuries.

Let’s hope the victim makes a fast and full recovery, and that they secure the trail to keep it from ever happening again.

And that the driver is never again allowed behind the wheel.

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

A Boston man is under arrest for slashing a food delivery rider on the arm with an “industrial-style pocket knife” in an apparent random attack. The victim was treated at the scene but refused further medical attention.

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

San Francisco police are offering a $25,000 reward for the 2016 fatal shooting of a man in the Tenderloin District; a security cam captured an image of the suspect riding on the handlebars of another man’s bike; the bike rider has been cleared, but the shooter is still at large.

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Local

For the first time since the 1980s, Los Angeles doesn’t has the worst traffic in the US. The Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim region was number two last year, behind the New York-Newark area. Which, oddly, is exactly what it feels like to ride a bike here.

Progressive news site Knock LA looks at the fight to form a union representing Metro Bike workers, who don’t actually work for Metro.

The new state budget includes $4.3 million in funding for a proposed walking path along the San Gabriel River.

 

State

Streetsblog offers an update on key issues that passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday, including a bill allowing bike riders to treat stop signs as yields, a bill legalizing jaywalking, and a third allowing cameras on buses to capture bus lane violations. So we can have cameras on buses, but no speed cams in school zones. Got it.

San Diego safety advocates are calling for drivers to pay attention after the recent rash of bike deaths in the county.

A San Luis Obispo paper say the transportation bill currently taking shape in the US House — as opposed to the recently announced bipartisan bill — contains $20 million for transportation projects in SLO and Santa Barbara counties, including a bike path connecting Morro Bay and Cayucos.

San Francisco Streetsblog calls out a deadly combination of reckless driving and unsafe street design for the needless death of a man riding his bike home from work in Hayworth last week.

 

National

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske examines the safety and legalities of modern roundabouts.

The Christian Science Monitor questions whether America even knows how to do infrastructure anymore.

They get it. The county surrounding Boise, Idaho is suddenly a national leader in protecting bike riders, committing to install protected bike lanes whenever they resurface any of the most dangerous multilane roadways in the region. Maybe the newly bike-friendly Caltrans can follow their lead. Let alone the ostensibly progressive LADOT.

Visions of cowboys on scooters, as e-scooters hit the streets of Cheyenne, Wyoming just in time for the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota is expanding its 35-mile network of bike trails to serve the area’s one million annual users.

A Minnesota bike rider calls on drivers to look out for people on bicycles after he was nearly run down while riding in a crosswalk with his girlfriend while crossing with the walk signal.

The carnage continues in New York, where a 71-year old man was killed when he was stuck by a postal truck in an apparent right hook.

A New York county approves its own three-foot passing law after concluding bike riders need more protection than the state’s “safe distance” passing rule.

That’s more like it. A University of Pennsylvania cop goes viral for her friendly interaction with an Instagram star, as she and her partner join him in passing out sandwiches after initially responding to a call of bike riders blocking the sidewalk.

The DC bike community is in mourning after 61-year-old Jay Moglia died of a massive heart attack while leading a group ride last Saturday; the former bike messenger, racer and cycling trainer was a renowned figure in the Washington area.

 

International

Treehugger rates the year’s best ebike conversion kits.

Pink Bike takes a spin on Earthbound’s high pivot bamboo-frame enduro bike. And likes it.

A British Columbia man questions whether the motorcyclist who ran down his bicycle-riding mother caught a break because authorities thought he was a “nice” and “decent” man.

A Clinton, Ontario website looks back to the “Victorian age of muscular Christianity,” when a group of itinerant American clergymen rode into town on their Penny Farthings under the banner of the newly formed American Wheelmen.

He gets it, too. A Montreal writer questions whether an accident waiting to happen that puts children, bike riders and pedestrians at risk is still an accident.

A British transport minister says no, there is no chance bike riders will be required to wear license numbers, regardless of the demands of “Mr. Loophole,” a lawyer who specializes in getting wealthy drivers off the hook.

Okay, so they weren’t on a bicycle. It’s still worth mentioning two Indian men sharing a motorcycle who escaped a charging leopard by feeding him cake. Although something tells me the big cat will be waiting to blow to the candles when they come back.

A new Australian study hopes to determine whether “excessive” recreational riding leads to heart problems in non-elite bicyclists.

 

Competitive Cycling

Spoiler alert: Skip this section if you still have yesterday’s stage of the Tour de France in your viewing queue. Still here? The news that aging Mark Cavendish won his first stage of the Tour de France in six years is just to big to hide behind a spoiler-free link; the win leaves the sprinter just three victories behind The Cannibal’s record of 34 Tour stage wins.

The entire peloton stepped off their bikes for a silent protest at the start of yesterday’s stage to call attention to the dangerous conditions that have led to a rash of crashes in this year’s Tour, arguing that someone could be killed next time.

The woman who caused a massive crash with her sign in the first stage of the Tour has disappeared after fleeing France to parts unknown.

Now you, too, can wear the same kit as LA’s own L39ION of Los Angeles cycling team.

 

Finally…

A driver cuts out the middleman and runs down bikes before they even leave the shop. Nothing will test your relationship like riding 3,700 miles on a tandem.

And that’s one way to do a multimodal commute.

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

Morning Links: Court sticks LA and Caltrans for $9.1 million in PCH crash, and Brown signs e-scooter helmet bill

In the latest massive court case against the City of Los Angeles, a jury awarded $9.1 million to a man injured while riding his bike on PCH.

The Los Angeles Times reports Robert Jeffrey Watts suffered a severe brain injury four year ago, when he swerved his bike to go around rocks and debris on PCH in Pacific Palisades, and was struck by the wing mirror of a passing truck.

Watts came across a pile of sand and rocks on the pavement, and steered into the travel lane to avoid the debris. He was struck by a truck’s side mirror and lost control of his bicycle, resulting in a crash that left him with a “significant amount of brain damage,” according to a complaint filed in 2015 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Watts was an experienced bicyclist who rode to his office in Culver City for years to keep fit, said his attorney, Boris Treyzon. Watts, who ran a successful freelance camera company, was left unable to work.

The jury split blame for the case, finding Caltrans 40% liable for the crash, with Los Angeles responsible for the rest.

Caltrans, which owns the highway, had hired Los Angeles to sweep the pavement at least once a month and keep it free of debris, but jury testimony and records left it unclear how often the work was performed, Treyzon said.

During the trial, he said, two city street sweepers testified that at the Tramonto slide, “they would simply swing around … and ignore it,” rather than remove the sand, gravel and rocks from the roadway.

No surprise there to anyone who has watched LA City street sweepers in action. Or had to ride through the debris they left behind.

The size of these awards keep climbing. And those payments come out of your taxes.

Money that would be much better spent to fund quality bike infrastructure and safer streets to keep bike riders and pedestrians from getting injured.

Instead of paying out massive legal judgements after they do.

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Go ahead and scoot without a skid lid.

To the surprise of some — okay, me — Governor Brown signed AB 2989, allowing adult users of e-scooters to ride without a helmet.

In addition, the law allows scooters on streets with speed limits up to 35 mph; current law limits scooters to streets with speed limits up to 25 mph unless they have bike lanes.

No word on when the law takes effect.

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CiclaValley wants to know whether Decker Canyon or Westlake Blvd offers the scarier descent.

Although Phil Gaiman might vote for Tuna Canyon.

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Cheetahs don’t pedal.

Just saying.

 

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Local

Ride Metro Bike bikeshare free tomorrow for World Car Free Day.

A writer for City Watch takes a miserable walk down Fairfax Blvd, followed by a harrowing bike ride. And says Metro could fund trees, sidewalk improvements and bike lanes on Fairfax, as well as on Wilshire Blvd and all the major streets in the area that connect to Wilshire, for less than $50 million. Let’s hope someone is listening to him.

Downtowners weigh in on plans to remake LA’s Civic Center, calling for protected bike lanes and trails with bike and scooter parking.

Bicycling profiles the founder of LA-based women’s bikewear brand Machines for Freedom.

The third annual Gran Fondo Santa Clarita rolls next Saturday.

 

State

The Tahoe-Pyramid Trail is nearing completion, following the Truckee River 116 miles from the north shore of Lake Tahoe to Nevada’s Pyramid Lake.

 

National

A writer for Forbes explains in detail why you have a greater right to ride a bicycle than to drive a car, and proposes a Micromobility Bill of Rights giving you the same entitlement on smaller devices like e-scooters.

Bicycling looks at the “newest and coolest gear” from this year’s Interbike show.

Your next bike could be made of Super Magnesium.

No bias here. A Colorado columnist complains about “Bicyclist Entitlement Syndrome,” saying courteous bike riders are so rare you never see them. And the rest park their bikes on handicap ramps and run over kittens.

Omaha police agree to keep patrolling the city’s paved trails in response to bike riders’ concerns about “wrongdoers.”

A Chicago city alderman has proposed requiring bike riders to dismount and walk their bikes on the popular downtown Riverwalk, saying it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

The administrators of the bike-hating Northern Kentucky Facebook group we linked to earlier this week have turned it into a closed group after it got public attention, and changed the name to “Share the Road;” local bicyclists are worried it could incite violence against bike riders.

Police in Knoxville TN are the latest department to use an ultrasonic radar device to enforce the three-foot passing law. The LAPD, not so much.

A pair of Cleveland bike riders were brutally attacked and robbed in separate early morning attacks.

New York is closing a pair of key bike lanes, apparently for security reasons, in preparation for next week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting — but leaving open a car tunnel that runs directly underneath.

A DC Twitter bot instantly uncovers the unpaid traffic tickets for any license plate, including one driver with 84 tickets totaling $10,700. Can we get that here in LA? Pretty please?

 

International

The co-founder of Zipcar warns the changes autonomous vehicles will bring could be paradise, or it could be hell.

Bike Radar offers tips on how to take inexperienced bike riders out for their first road ride.

Now that it’s legal north of the border, Canada’s military says don’t drive for 24 hours after you toke.

The Guardian looks at the colorful reinvention of city intersections.

Now that’s more like it. After a driver in the UK tweets that she should have run over a bike rider, police tell her to return her license because she’s clearly not fit to have one.

A British ebike maker says restricting ebikes to 15.5 mph in the UK and European Union is too slow for riders to be safe in traffic.

A Brit bike rider blames Strava for leading thieves to his home, where they stole five bikes worth nearly $16,000.

Heartbreaking news from the Netherlands, where four children were killed when the daycare cargo bike they were riding in was hit by a train.

VeloNews takes a tour of Italian bicycle factories.

 

Competitive Cycling

Forty-three-year old Amber Neben continues to defy the calendar as she prepares to compete for her third road world championship.

But maybe you’d rather watch bike racers about 40 years younger.

 

Finally…

Forget bike polo, it’s Cycleball season. Now you can own your very own British bike chain; no, not that kind.

And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think those are bike racks.

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Thanks David D, and everyone who has contributed this week, for their generous donations to help support this site. 

One final reminder, if everyone who visits this site today donated just $10, it would be more than enough to keep it going for a full year.

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Join the Militant Angeleno and BikinginLA for the first-ever Militant Angeleno’s Epic CicLAvia Tour at the Celebrate LA! LA Phil 100 CicLAvia on September 30th!

Just RSVP to MilitantAngeleno@gmail.com. We want to guarantee a relatively small group to make sure we can keep the group together, and everyone can hear.

Breaking News: No justice for OC cyclist Kenneth Prevatte; civil suit filed in Debra Deem case

Once again, there’s no justice for a fallen rider.

Late Tuesday, I received an email from the sister of Kenneth Prevatte, killed in a rear-end collision while riding in a Sunset Beach bike lane on PCH in Huntington Beach over two years ago. She informed me that Becki Lee James, the driver charged in the death of the popular Long Beach cyclist, was acquitted in a trial this week.

She reports James had been charged with vehicular manslaughter; she had originally been arrested on suspicion of felony DUI causing great bodily injury & gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

No word yet on why the alcohol charges had been dropped or why she was acquitted in what seemed like a clear cut case; hopefully we’ll have more information soon.

But at least the Orange County District Attorney should be congratulated for filing charges in a case with no guarantee of victory — unlike the LA DA.

And hopefully, Prevatte’s family will get the justice they deserve in civil court.

In an aside to the case, one of the potential jurors dismissed from the jury pool in the James trial was the brother of teenage cyclist Sean Severson, killed while biking to school in Fountain Valley.

Pity that those who would make the best jurors in cases like this are the ones who are automatically excluded.

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Speaking of civil court, I received a press release from Torrance-based law firm AgnewBrusavich, the firm behind the CalBikeLAw.com website, announcing they had filed a civil suit in the death of cyclist Debra Deem.

Deem, the wife of former Olympian cyclist and Cycle Werks bike shops owner Paul Deem, was riding in the bike lane on PCH in Newport Beach when she was right hooked by a driver turning onto Newport Coast Drive.

The suit alleges that the State of California and the City of Newport Beach were both negligent in the design and maintenance of what has been described as a very confusing intersection by cyclists who ride there. Unlike other intersections in the area, the bike lane reportedly disappears prior to the highway-style interchange, leaving riders with no clear pathway to the other side, and no guide for drivers on where bikes are likely to be positioned.

According to the release, Paul Deem filed the suit, at least in part, in hopes that it will bring much needed safety improvements to this section of PCH.

Meanwhile, I’m told that the case against the driver, 84-year old Robert James Anderson, ended in a mistrial on Friday; no word yet on why or if the case will be refiled.

 

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