Sometimes the generosity of people astounds me.
Like the family and girlfriend of fallen cyclist James Rapley, and plea deal they requested for the driver who killed him.
As you may recall, Rapley was just visiting our city on an extended layover at LAX in December of 2013, leaving his girlfriend behind in Chicago to visit his family in Australia.
He never got there.
His love of bicycling inspired him to rent a bike and ride up the coast on a sunny winter morning, just days before Christmas.
Maybe he wanted more of a challenge, or a more sweeping view of the coast. We’ll never know why he left the beach to ride up the steep hill on Temescal Canyon.
Because that’s where he was run down from behind as he rode in the bike lane at 9 am on a Sunday morning, by Mohammed Kadri, then 19-year old and still high from the night before. Rapley died there, a visitor to our city, thousands of miles from the people he loved.
Kadri could have faced significant jail time if the case went to trial, although as a first-time offender in a county cramped for jail space, that was unlikely. Even though an OC lawyer got four years for an almost identical crime earlier this year.
Yet despite their obvious grief, Rapley’s loved ones saw no good in sending a young man to jail. Instead, they pushed for significant community service in the hopes that Kadri could turn his life around and be a benefit to others.
Last Friday, they got their wish, as Karen Scott, James Rapley’s long-time girlfriend who moved with him from Australia, explains.
Kadri pleaded no contest to the felony charge of vehicular manslaughter. “No contest” is legally equivalent to guilty however they don’t say the words “guilty”. No contest means they are admitting guilt because they believe it is in their best interest to do so.
• 5 years probation which cannot be reduced in length (the max probation period). 8 days credit from time served in prison (I wasn’t aware that’s he’d served time in jail)
• 150 days community service, 30 days per year min for duration of the probation.
• Proof of enrollment in community service to be submitted to the court by Dec 1st.
• He can’t ever carry a firearm and will be considered more harshly on any future criminal acts due to the felony charge.
• He was registered on probation straight after the hearing and it all goes into place straight away.
Myself and James family believed that community service was the best outcome as James would have wanted this and also there is some good that may come from this for the community and hopefully Kadri will grow from the work he does. I can’t see how anyone who will be doing community service every week (or once a fortnight) for 5 years couldn’t come out of this a better person. 150 days is one of the highest number anyone had seen for court mandated community service, usually its 100 days or less. If we had decided to go down the jail route, as he didn’t have a history, he would probably have been given a maximum of 16 months in jail, but because the jails in LA are so full, he’d only serve half that, at 8 months. And with jail that is it, he wouldn’t do anything in the community and we just didn’t see that outcome being what James would want. We did want to make sure however that he plead guilty to the felony charge as we wanted it to be on his record and clear that he take responsibility for his actions.
Scott also gave me permission to post the Victim Impact Statement she read to the court.
It is a beautiful, loving and heartbreaking document, and one that is difficult to read. But it offers a clear picture of harm caused by traffic violence and driving the influence. And the enormity of the loss she suffered, along with his family.
Over the course of this case, I’ve come to know Karen Scott, through emails and finally, meeting in person when she came to LA for a hearing.
She is a petite, charming and generous woman, with a gentle accent that belies her origins Down Under; her love for James still evident nearly two years later. Yet she has born the incredible weight of this case on her small shoulders, bearing witness for his family when they could not bear to set foot in the city where their son died.
I can’t say I would have made the same choices they did. I would have pushed for jail, and the revocation of Kadri’s license.
But I admire their charity, for lack of a better word. And, if not forgiveness, a willingness to release the need for revenge and craft a punishment designed to make the killer of the man they loved whole again.
They also have me wondering, not for the first time, if there might not be a better way to punish those who kill behind the wheel.
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Streetsblog says Vancouver is a bicycling city with lessons for Los Angeles.
Explore site-specific art installations on the LA River bike path this Saturday with TEN FEET: Art Meets The River.
LAist looks forward to CicLAvia’s fifth anniversary on Sunday the 18th with a return to the Heart of LA route, where it all started on 10-10-10. And yes, I still have the T-shirt.
A writer for the Daily Trojan says bikes are an important part of campus life at USC, but the university needs to be made more bike friendly.
South Pasadena considers hosting a stage for next year’s the Amgen Tour of California. The anticipated $7,800 cost seems like a bargain; it should bring in far more than that in tax receipts from the additional sales local businesses will see.
Jerry Brown signed AB 1096 clarifying the rules for e-bikes. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the tip.
The lawyer for a San Diego driver charged with driving head-on into a group of cyclists says yes, she had meth in her system but she wasn’t impaired by it. So evidently, she just drove the wrong way and crashed into them for fun.
The Capitola city council will decide whether the safety of bike-riding school children is worth removing 99 parking spaces.
Sad news from Hayward, as the body of a missing mountain biker was found 150 feet down a park hillside.
A Contra Costa writer looks at the arrival of bicycles in California in the 1800s, 20 years after they swept the rest of the country.
Six miles of San Jose streets will go car-free for the city’s first ciclovía.
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Bicycling offers tips on how to keep your makeup flawless on a ride. Which is apparently the biggest problem women riders face.
Yakima WA releases a draft $6 million bike plan in hopes of getting off the list of the country’s 10 fattest cities.
Grist tells the ghost bike origin story, tracing them back to a 2003 St. Louis art project.
Loss of parking rears its ugly head in Ithaca NY, as residents and councilmembers want to reopen discussion of bike lanes on a major street, even though it’s too late to stop the project.
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Norfolk VA unveils a draft bike and pedestrian plan designed to improve 12 critical corridors.
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A review website compares the new SitGo e-bike foldie to a Transformer. Although it looks more like a Star Wars droid to me.
Canada’s Halifax cycling Coalition calls for protective side guards on trucks to keep bike riders and pedestrians from falling underneath. Actually, those should be required everywhere. Now.
The Guardian tries out anti-pollution masks to protect bike riders from bad air.
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Seriously? Solve a Rubik’s Cube while riding a bikeshare bike through a London park with a 5 mph speed limit, and get reported to the police for endangering the safety of others. Your next ride could be on a 3D printed open sourced bike.
And no matter how mad you are at the driver who honked at you, don’t bash his car — and him — with your U-lock.