Tag Archive for LACBC Planning Committee

LACBC Planning Committee tonight, blaming OC biking victims & guilty of DUI but not killing cyclist

The LACBC’s Planning Committee will meet at 7 pm tonight at the Downtown Pitfire Pizza at 2nd and Main.

Tonight’s agenda will include a presentation by Alison Kendall of Kendall Planning + Design on the upcoming USC Campus Bike Plan, as well as a possible discussion of traffic calming efforts on Via del Monte in Palos Verdes Estates — which has already nearly taken the life of at least one cyclist.

You don’t have to be an LACBC member to participate. Just give a damn about safer, more livable streets.


I honestly don’t know what to think about Orange County Register columnist David Whiting.

I mean, his heart seems to be in the right place. I think he genuinely cares about keeping cyclists safer and diffusing tensions on the road.

He just too often seems to go about it by blaming the victims.

For instance, he complains about perceived offenses such as riding two or more abreast, which, much to the surprise of many misinformed motorists — and law enforcement personnel — is not even mentioned in the California Vehicle Code. Let alone prohibited.

But then he follows it up with mostly well-reasoned advice from the Executive Director of the OC Bicycle Coalition. Though I’d take issue with the rationale behind this bit of advice, as well as the second suggestion.

Seven: Running stop signs

Running stop signs irritates drivers.

Smart: Respect stop signs and the right of way of vehicles. If a driver waves you through, stop and put your foot down to show that you “get it.” Most drivers are so amazed to see a bicyclist stop, they chill out for next rider they pass.

Yes, stopping at a stop sign is important, especially when there are other vehicles or pedestrians around. It’s one thing to carefully go through a stop after ensuring there’s no one else around; dangerous and foolish to do it when someone else has the right-of-way.

But intersections are risky enough without trying to unnecessarily complicate matters by insisting on stopping when someone else safely defers the right-of-way to you.

Then there’s his most recent column with comments from readers that include complaints against overly entitled riders and suggestions that bikes don’t belong on the road when there’s a perfectly good bike path nearby. Not to mention a former law enforcement officer who claims to have ticketed a rider for doing 41 mph in a school zone.

If I got a ticket for going that fast, I wouldn’t fight it.

I’d frame it.

But what ultimately puts me off Whiting’s writings is his frequent insistence on the old auto-centric fallacy that better behavior by cyclists will result in greater respect and courtesy from drivers.

It won’t. It doesn’t. And it never has.

Yes, you should always ride safely, and as legally and courteously as the situation allows — bearing in mind that it’s your life that’s on the line, and what’s legal isn’t always what’s safest.

But angry drivers don’t act that way because of anything you do or don’t do on the saddle. In reality, they’re usually upset by your simple presence on the road. Let alone the fact that you’re in front of them, which means a few seconds delay in their death-defying rush to wherever they’re going.

Telling cyclists not to make drivers mad is like telling a battered housewife to be more obedient so her husband won’t beat her anymore.

It’s long past time to stop blaming the victims.

Thanks to David M. Huntsman, Esq. for the links.


Then again, a comment by a Streetsblog reader pretty well sums up the whole argument.

Yesterday I saw a bicyclist do [insert dangerous, stupid, inconsiderate, boneheaded move here] and it nearly inconvenienced me. This means all bikers better watch out because the responsible, productive, law-abiding members of this community aren’t going to tolerate this kind of anti-social behavior from you riffraff much longer.

Yesterday I saw a car driver do [insert dangerous, stupid, inconsiderate, boneheaded move here] and kill someone!  A tragedy, but it was an accident, no one’s fault really, just one of those bad parts of living in the modern age that we all have to put up with. After all, anyone can make a mistake. It would be a shame to even suspend the driver’s license over it because they really might need it to get to work. It certainly is no reflection on me or how most people drive.


A Ramona driver is convicted of being under the influence of methamphetamine and driving under the influence when she killed a cyclist, followed by hitting a parked car, stop sign and a liquor store.

Yet according to the Ramona Sentinel, she wasn’t responsible for his death, because the cyclist was drunk when he was killed.

David Bruce Menea was riding with a BAC of .17 — over twice the legal limit — as well as riding without lights when he reportedly rode out in front of Suzanne Nicole Reed on September 11th of last year. Despite veering right to avoid him, Reed hit and killed Minea before crashing into the other objects.

She was sentenced to one year in jail, with all but 90 days suspended, as well as 5 years probation and fined 2008.

Now, if Whiting wants to complain about drunk cyclists riding without lights, I’m totally in his corner.


A Mississippi Gulf-area judge shows that at least some jurists take drunk driving seriously, dishing out the sort of sentence Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines and underage drunk driver Jaclyn Garcia may have deserved, but could never have gotten here in the late, great Golden State.

Let alone drivers high on meth who kill other people.

Circuit Judge Roger Clark threw the book at convicted drunk driver Robin Lee Vo for critically injuring a cyclist while driving at over twice the legal limit — sentencing her to 20 years in prison, 10 years suspended, plus $400,000 restitution.

That’s 10 years in state prison, compared to one year apiece in the comparable California cases, and just 90 days for meth-driving Reed.

Are you listening, judges?

I don’t know a damn thing about Mississippi judge Roger Clark, but he’s got my support for any office he wants to run for.


Not only do those damn cyclists back up L.A. traffic, but they actually seem to be enjoying themselves. L.A. endurance athlete and registered dietitian Matthew Ruscigno amusingly takes up cyclocross; maybe he’ll be at this weekend’s Santa Cross in Griffith Park. Flying Pigeon’s next Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place this Sunday, while Walk Bike Glendale will host a family-friendly holiday ride. Santa Monica Spoke invites everyone to the LACBC’s 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Merriment at the Library Alehouse on the 27th, and looks for volunteers for the bike valet. The Daily News finds flaws in L.A.’s new bike plan. The Hansen Dam bike path gets security upgrades after series of after dark assaults. The Port of Long Beach will approve the final environmental impact statement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge — including bike lanes. Ride with Alta Planning principal Mia Birk in Long Beach Thursday. Rancho Cucamonga cyclists and pedestrians now have their own bridge over freeway-like Foothill Blvd. How to repair your Joe Blow.

Holiday season riding means dodging crazed shoppers. The Senate considers an amendment that could improve safety for all road users, yet at the same time, considers banning cyclists from some roads on federal lands. Interestingly, the percentage of people who bike is pretty evenly distributed across all income levels. A graphic argument on how bikes can save us. A series of 60-second sprints could help control Type-2 Diabetes. Columbia MO allows parking in bike lanes, and a local bike advocate thinks that’s a good thing. Seriously? Advil promotes winter bike congestion relief in Chicago. A Wisconsin study shows transit costs $50 per year per household, while roadways cost $779. Turns out a Wisconsin town isn’t planning to ban bikes and pedestrians after all — but the scary thing is, they could. A leading bike safety advocate is killed when he’s run down from behind. A U.S. Representative keeps the pressure on following the deliberately botched investigation of a cycling fatality by tribal police on a New Mexico reservation. A cyclist is the latest injury in New York’s contested Prospect Park. A North Carolina driver claims she was blinded by the sun and sneezing when she ran over a cyclist; oh, well it’s okay then. North Carolina cyclists may be left out in the cold on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Louisiana authorities suspect alcohol use in the death of a 76-year old cyclist; the victim, not the driver. When it comes to traffic signals, Florida cyclists just want fair treatment.

A Canadian cyclist is nearly refused entry to this country because he didn’t have a helmet. The Department of DIY strikes in Toronto. An Ottawa cyclist files suit after an open manhole leaves him an incomplete quadriplegic. Evidently, English soccer fans — or at least Hotspur fans — are too dense to figure out the difference between Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy and Premier League referee Chris Foy. In the UK, they actually enforce speed limits on popular cycling routes; go figure, huh? What do Dutch expats miss more than bicycling? Herring. An Aussie driver goes on a crime spree after killing a cyclist. Long Beach’s biking expats take their Path Less Pedaled to New Zealand.

Finally, the rules of bicycle touring haven’t changed much in the last 128 years, as bad teeth was no barrier to enlistment in the bike corps, and even billionaire robber barons rode bikes.

And returning to this century, frame meister Dave Moulton offers 10 tips for driving around cyclists; don’t click the link unless you’re in the mood for the best laugh of the day.

Maybe David Whiting should read that before he writes his next column.

Here’s your invitation to tonight’s LACBC Planning Committee meeting

I’m on the run again today, so any exciting updates from the world of cycling will have to wait until tomorrow.

However, I just want to remind you that the LACBC Planning Committee will be meeting at 7 pm tonight at Downtown’s Pitfire Pizza, at the corner of 2nd and Main.

Tonight’s singular topic is where we want to go on a local, county or state level. Such as what infrastructure plans you want to see on the fast track, what bike-friendly changes you want in LA County — like adopting L.A.’s anti-harassment ordinance, for instance — and what legislative changes you want to see at the state level.

Like maybe another three-foot passing bill to replace the one our CHP and Caltrans-influenced governor foolishly vetoed.

It promises to be an interesting meeting. And a chance to have your voice heard at the grassroots level — and possibly multiplied with the support of Southern California’s largest bike advocacy organization.

And no, you don’t have to be a member to participate. Anyone who rides a bike in L.A. County, or cares about those who do, is welcome to attend. Although we’ll be more than happy to sign you up on the spot.

I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Three years for Swarzman killer, help shape L.A. cycling policy & the L.A. Weekly continues its anti-bike crusade

And just like that, it’s over.

Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was sentenced to three years in state prison today for the hit-and-run death of Encino ultra-distance cyclist Jim Swarzman last April.

As you may recall, Swarzman was riding along Highway 101 in the Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas with his fiancé and another man when he was hit by a truck driven by Fernandez.

Actually, hit is a mild term; his fiancé, Nicole Honda described the collision as an explosion as she watched Swarzman fly past her through the air, while the driver continued down the highway without even slowing down.

Fernandez turned himself in a day later, reportedly telling police investigators he thought he might have hit something over the weekend.

Though how you manage to hit someone with that much force without knowing it will forever be beyond me.

After Fernandez waived his right to a jury trial, he was convicted of felony hit-and-run causing death in a two-day bench trial conducted by Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman, facing a possible four years in prison.

Instead, he got three.

Three years for plowing down another human being and leaving him in the street to die.

Oh wait.

Although I suppose we should be grateful the Fernandez got any time at all. I’m glad he was sentenced for his crime, even if he did get less than the maximum sentence.

But this is one time when the time does not fit the crime. Maybe now that the trial is over, we can finally find out why Fernandez only faced charges for hit-and-run, rather than being charged with actually causing Swarzman’s death.

And if the rumors are true about the judge blaming Jim Swarzman for improper lane positioning, in what would seem to be a basic misunderstanding of bike law.

Update: San Diego’s 10News reports that Fernandez was sentenced to just two years in prison, rather than three. No explanation yet on the discrepancy.


If you’re not doing anything tonight, drop by the Pitfire Pizza at 108 W. 2nd Street in Downtown Los Angeles at 7pm. And help set the agenda for cycling in the City of Angels.

Because, as of this month, I’m taking over for Stephen Villavaso as Chair of the LACBC’s Planning Committee.

Don’t get me wrong.

Stephen’s done a great job in chairing the committee. Quite frankly, I would be just as happy, if not happier, if he’d been able to continue in the role. And I want to thank him for all the hard work he’s done as Chair, and hope he’ll continue to offer his invaluable insights as a member of the Planning Committee.

However, any change in leadership provides an ideal opportunity to rethink the role of the committee, as well as the projects and policies we want to pursue.

As a result, the primary topic of this month’s meeting will be a discussion of exactly what the Planning Committee is, and what you’d like to see come under its heading. I hope to conclude the meeting with a clear agreement on the role and future direction of this committee.

In addition, I’d like to begin a discussion of the programs and policies we want to support on a state and local level. This doesn’t have to be limited to anything that is currently under discussion within the LACBC or anywhere else. Use your imagination to come up with solutions that could make bicycling better, safer and/or more enjoyable for bike riders in California, L.A. County, or in your own neighborhood and the areas you ride.

I have my own ideas. But I really want to hear your thoughts as we shape an agenda for the months to come.

I’d like to personally invite everyone to attend. You don’t have to be a member of the Planning committee, or even a member of the LACBC. If you ride a bike in Southern California, or care about those who do, we want to hear from you.

Because the more voices we hear from, the better our work will reflect the attitudes and desires of the local riding community.


Note to Dennis Romero of the L.A. Weekly:

You didn’t encounter a shitstorm of criticism because you expressed your opinion about L.A.’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. You were deservedly taken to task because you blatantly misrepresented the new law.

And continue to do so.

Attorney Bill Blum may or may not make some valid points in his Op-Ed in the L.A. Daily News — though you’d think any lawyer worth his salt would know that neither drivers or cyclists are a protected class under the Equal Protection Clause.

Let alone that the laws regarding cyclists and drivers are not, and were never intended to be, symmetrical in their application to each. The courts have long accepted that drivers can be required to have a license —which can be taken away — because of the threat their vehicles pose to everyone else on the streets. On the other hand, cyclists don’t require a license precisely because we pose so little risk to those around us.

So much for the courts requiring that both be treated equally.

Yes, we may piss you off.

But the biggest risk most drivers face from cyclists is that we may get a little blood on your paint when you run us over.


I’m facing a busy work load this week — the first time in months I’ve had as much, if not more, paying work on my plate as I can handle. So let me offer my apologies in advance if I don’t manage to post as much or as often as usual.

Besides, I’ve got a committee to chair.

On the other hand, that makes it a perfect opportunity to submit a guest post of your own. So if you have anything you’d like to say on any subject directly or indirectly related to bicycling, just drop me a line at bikinginla at hotmail dot com. Whether you agree with me or not.

And yes, that includes Mr. Romero.