Tag Archive for Pacific Coast Highway

Questions raised about PCH door zone warning, and driver crashes into home built by Lincoln’s great-grandfather

Evidently, I’ve ruined everything.

Yesterday, a series of tweets were directed my way to tell me I got it all wrong about the proposed changes to PCH that would seem to put bike riders in the door zone.

Those were quickly followed by a comment on here, and a series of increasingly rude and insulting private messages blaming me for somehow ruining 20 year of bicycle advocacy by repeating what was said in a news story from a Malibu paper.

Which I was apparently supposed to somehow be able to deduce had made some yet-to-be confirmed error in reporting the story.

Then again, I was also accused in those private messages of somehow plagiarizing that same story by someone who had apparently never read it, and clearly has no idea what plagiarism means.

Seriously, feel free to do a side-by-side comparison, and see for yourself if I copied anything.

While I wasn’t involved in this project, and had no idea it was even in the works before this week, I have long fought for bike safety on PCH in Malibu. And worked with and supported Eric Bruins in his surprisingly successful campaign to turn the city from extremely anti-bike to a newfound commitment to welcoming people on two wheels.

And this project was definitely not what I remember asking for.

I also don’t remember meeting Mr. Laetz during all those years that I represented the LACBC on the PCH Task Force, before illness forced me to step down.

Which doesn’t mean he wasn’t there, or wasn’t working for bike safety in other ways. With all the meds I’m on these days, I have trouble remembering last week, let alone what happened a decade or so ago.

But maybe he’s right.

My reaction to this project was based entirely on Wednesday’s story in the Malibu Surfside News, which said this in the very first paragraph —

A stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu that’s seen several bicycle collisions in as many years is being looked at for changes that will make it safer for bicyclists while adding motor vehicle parking.

Note that last phrase, “adding motor vehicle parking.”

The writer of that piece, Scott Steepleton, the editor of the Malibu Surfside News, cited a Malibu Planning Commission document as his source.

According to the July 19 meeting staff report by Jessica Thompson, associate planner, the changes “will provide increased travel space on the right shoulder for a combination of bicycle use and on-street parking, thereby improving safety on this segment of PCH.”

I never hid the fact that this was my source, and linked back to the story in my original post. I also sent the link to Mr. Laetz when he objected to my story to confirm where the information came from.

Yet he continued to attack me, both publicly and privately. Right up to the point I told him what he could do with himself, and blocked him from my personal Twitter account.

But again, that doesn’t make him wrong.

This is how he describes the project in a comment Mr. Laetz left on here.

WAIT A MINUTE, The city’s plan is to WIDEN the shoulder, by narrowing the median and shifting the traffic lanes to the center, No parking will be added, none will be eliminated. Te (sic) plan will leave shoulders that are in excess of 14 feet wide. It will also add marked bike lanes at the traffic lights. The Coastal Commission will not allow the city to add parking (reducing coastal access to bicyclists) or decrease parking (reducing parking access for people in vehicles). This plan is parking neutral. It will eliminate much of the wide, unused median. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT.

Despite repeated requests, he never sent me a link to any source to back up his description of the project, though he did reference a story he claimed to have written for the Malibu Times, which I haven’t been able to find on their website.

However, assuming the shoulder will in fact be a minimum of 14 feet wide, while that may be enough room to safely pass an average parked car, it would leave only a sliver of space outside the door zone of today’s massive pickups and SUVs.

And that’s if the driver pulls all the way to the right, which hardly ever happens the real world.

It also raises the question of whether that space could be better used to provide a parking protected bike lane that would keep riders safely out of the door zone, as well as away from drivers cutting over to park their cars or pull out of a parking space.

And why maintain those plush eleven-foot traffic lanes, which encourage higher speeds, when they could easily be narrowed a foot to help slow traffic, and provide more space to work with on either side?

As I tried to point out to Mr. Laetz, even if this project would be wholly beneficial for people on bicycles, the worst thing that resulted from calling it out is that hundreds of bike riders are newly aware of it, and prepared to give it the scrutiny any bike project should have.

So go ahead and email your comments and concerns by Sunday night, if you haven’t already. And attend Monday’s virtual meeting of the Malibu Planning Commission to learn more about it if you can.

Full disclosure, I won’t be able to make it Monday evening. Somehow, I suspect my wife’s birthday has to take priority if I don’t want to see a permanent change my sleeping arrangements.

I’ve also offered to let Mr. Laetz write a guest post for this site to clarify anything he thinks we got wrong.

So far, he hasn’t responded.

I’ll let you know if he does.

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I do my best to be as truthful and accurate as possible in everything you read on this site.

If I get something wrong, I’m more than happy to correct it, which I’ve done more times than I can count. Just reach out to me, either in the comments below, at the email address on the About page, or on Twitter @BikinginLA.

Just be able to back it up. And don’t be a jerk about it.

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This is the cost of traffic violence.

A Massachusetts driver slammed her SUV through the side of a 371-year old house built by the great-grandfather of Abraham Lincoln, after swerving to avoid an early-rising squirrel.

Yes, that Abraham Lincoln.

Although it may have been the house’s fault, since the owners say there have been a number of near-misses since they moved in.

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Apparently, pedicabs are nothing new.

Though seldom quite this cool.

https://twitter.com/anderspreben/status/1031213754724372480

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A Utah TV station wins the award for best attempt to remove any agency for an injury collision, with a headline that suggests some unidentified “person” was injured when a car without a driver somehow collided with a bicycle without a rider.

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Call a happy bike surprise.

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

After a Denver man attempted to stop a woman from stealing his neighbor’s $5,000 mountain bike, she returned in a beat-up SUV and smashed into another car while attempting to run him down. But even after they tracked the attacker to a nearby homeless camp, the police have refused to go in and do anything about it.

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

Must have been in a hurry. A New York “transit menace” snatched a bikeshare bike out of the hands of the person who rented it, rode it to the subway station, the jumped the turnstile to catch his train.

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Local

No news is good news, right?

 

State

I want to be like him when I grow up. Bicycling talks with a 77-year old Lake Forest man who still rides a bike every day, despite two serious heart surgeries. Or maybe because of them. I mean, without all the heart problems and stuff. As usual, read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you out.

San Diego letter writers continue to beat a dead bike lane horse, still complaining about the new protected bike lanes on 30th Street in North Park that are already under construction.

Police in Salinas are asking for the public’s help identifying a thief caught on camera stealing a mountain bike.

 

National

CyclingTips examines the custom Trek Domane Richard Branson pretended to ride to Sunday’s space launch, in what they accurately describe as part of a billionaire “dick-measuring competition.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

A culture website suggests four exciting US cities to ride a bike in. If you really want excitement, though, it’s hard to top mixing it up with LA drivers. Although it may not be the kind of excitement you want.

Nearly a hundred Portland-area kids now have newly refurbished bikes, thanks to an organization dedicated to giving kids free bikes who might not be able to get one otherwise.

No surprise here. Las Vegas is being sued by the family of a Black man who died in police custody in 2019 with a cop’s knee planted firmly in his back; Byron Williams was recorded saying 24 times that he couldn’t breathe, after getting stopped for the capital crime of not having a light on his bike. The family is being represented by the same lawyer who filed suit in the George Floyd case.

Montana’s first shuttle mountain bike park is now open near the Flathead Lake resort area, incorporating a shuttle service to carry riders from the end of one gravity trail to the start of another.

Heartbreaking news from Chicago, where an off-duty cop in a jacked-up truck ran over a little boy and dragged him to his death; nine-year old Hershel Weinberger was riding his bike in a crosswalk when the driver reportedly ran the stop sign, even if the local union head swears he stopped and looked both ways. But investigators failed to hold the off-duty officer accountable after he played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, by claiming he just didn’t see the boy. Although chance are, just flashing his badge was probably enough.

Life is cheap in Michigan, where a driver faces a single year behind bars for killing a 16-year old boy riding a bike, after prosecutors allowed him to plead to a misdemeanor moving violation. Sad to know that’s all a kid’s life is worth to them.

A new study suggests 30% of DC crashes involving a bike rider or pedestrian go unreported, reducing the reliability of the data Vision Zero relies on.

 

International

Talk about flash photography. A British woman snapping a selfie captured the exact moment she and her brother and sister were struck by lightening as they were sheltering under a tree, after getting caught in a thunderstorm while riding their bikes to see their aunt; fortunately, they were all okay after being treated for burns.

The final stage of the Tour de France is just the start of festivities as Paris bounces back from the pandemic lockdowns, as only Paris can.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews talks with the stars of Thursday’s final hors catégorie climb, which was pretty much Wednesday on repeat.

Here we go again. CyclingNews is reporting that French authorities raided the hotel and team bus of the Bahrain Victorious cycling team before Thursday’s stage of the Tour de France, as prosecutors open a preliminary investigation into doping allegations. But we all know the doping era is over, right?

Road Bike Action wants to help you build the perfect bike for Sunday’s Belgian Waffle Ride.

 

Finally…

Why pro cyclists dance with their bikes. Your next (really weird looking) touring bike could come with a built-in chair and day bed.

And if you have to ask…

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

 

Protest Malibu’s PCH door zone plan, Caltrans District 7 active transportation plan, and Sunset4All halfway to goal

After we sounded the alarm yesterday, Streets For All is calling on everyone to email the Malibu Planning Commission.

The street safety PAC is urging bike riders to protest plans to widen a two-mile section of PCH to “improve bicycle safety” by installing even more roadside parking, forcing bike riders into the door zone.

And yes, that means you.

Ask the City of Malibu to add safe, protected bike lanes to PCH

Thanks to our friends at Biking In LA for pointing out that the City of Malibu is considering an item on its next planning commission agenda (item 5B) to improve safety for people on bikes on PCH.

However, their proposal is really a way to add even more parking for cars on PCH, while putting people in bikes in the “door zone.” We need them to do better, and eventually would love a protected bike lane for the entire stretch of PCH.

As usual, they include a link, complete with email addresses and a sample email, to contact the Malibu Planning Commission by this Sunday and voice your concerns over this dangerous “bike safety” plan.

Photo by DJ_Moertel from Pixabay.

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Cuong Trinh, the Active Transportation and Complete Streets/ Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for Caltrans District 7, wants your input on the state DOT’s active transportation plan for the Los Angeles region.

Hello Community Stakeholder,

I wanted to let you know that we are undertaking the development of the Caltrans District 7 Active Transportation Plan.

Our plan serves as a needs assessment, by utilizing our government agency partners, non-government stakeholders and members of the public to identify bicycle and pedestrian needs along the State Highway System. In order to undertake the completion of this plan, we have a Consultant that is analyzing existing planning documents from cities and counties, as well as user and partner-submitted needs (using a location-based-needs survey) that your organization and its stakeholders can participate in.

The State Highway System includes all state-owned freeways, select regional highways and some local streets. All of these freeways, highways or local streets are signed by a red and blue Interstate freeway shield (Interstate 5) or a green California state highway shield (State Route 2).

Next Thursday, July 22nd, we invite you to attend one of our informational meetings intended for our non-governmental stakeholders where we will provide an introduction to the Caltrans Active Transportation Plans and the effort to complete the plan in Caltrans District 7, serving Los Angeles and Ventura counties. You may be aware that other Caltrans districts are also in the process of completing their district-specific plans as Caltrans has 12 districts that serve 58 counties statewide.

Your organization and its stakeholders may be aware of bicycle and pedestrian needs on our State Highways. These needs can range from missing or broken sidewalks to gaps in bicycle lanes and paths along or across State Highway System facilities. We see that your input is critical in providing locations and context for those needs. With your help, we can prioritize those needs in our future highway projects. However, without sufficient input from our stakeholders, we would be short of sufficient information that our project engineers could use to address non-motorized user needs.

You can learn more about the CAT Plans, as well as take a survey (where users are invited to place pins on a map) at http://www.catplan.org and click District 7.

We have scheduled two informational meetings in the next week that you can attend at your convenience, as the same materials will be presented at either meeting. Therefore, you can attend one meeting that best fits your schedule.

Feel free to attend one of these (virtual) meetings at your convenience:

Also feel free to forward this to anyone from other organizations or people who may find the Caltrans Active Transportation Plans effort of interest or relevance, as we may have missed many organizations and local interests.

Should you have any questions regarding the CAT Plans, don’t hesitate to contact the project lead for the Caltrans District 7 Active Transportation Plan, at cuong.trinh@dot.ca.gov.

Hope you stay healthy and safe.

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Sunset4All is now over halfway to their goal of raising $25,000 to fund a public/private partnership to build protected bike lanes on eastern sections of Sunset and Santa Monica Blvds.

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If you’ve got a few extra bucks, take a moment to help support the LA-area’s most important voice for transportation news.

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Now tell me again why businesses need to keep every car parking spot to survive.

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GCN explains how to successfully deploy chamois cream to keep your bike from being a pain in the ass.

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

Horrifying video from Idaho, where a 26-year old man faces charges for responding to a minor dispute between kids at a skate park by chasing two young boys in his pickup, and running over their bicycles after they barely jump out of the way. Never mind what kind of a sick schmuck would actually do something like that.

No bias here. A Missouri newspaper says a young boy was injured when he hit a car with his bicycle. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell what actually happened from the brief three-sentence article. But that probably wasn’t it.

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

There’s a special place in hell for a “‘bitter’ and jealous man” who rode his bike up to his ex-girlfriend as she got a London bus and threw a caustic chemical in her face, leaving her with severe acid burns; the attack followed a months-long harassment campaign.

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Local

LAist looks at the continuing efforts by Metro Bike workers to form a union to protect their interests with the company who manages it for Metro. As the son of a union man, you probably don’t have to guess which side I fall on.

Surprisingly, Los Angeles didn’t make the list of the 20 US cities with the worst urban heat islands. Despite what it feels like here in Hollywood on hot days.

 

State

The 4th of July continues to take a toll on bike riders, after a 15-year old Fremont boy died of injuries he suffered in a collision while riding his bike that night.

Despite a number of street safety projects across the city, San Francisco is failing to make progress on Vision Zero, with roughly the same number of fatalities last year as in 2014, when the program to eliminate traffic deaths was adopted. On the other hand, at least they’re undertaking major Vision Zero projects, unlike a certain megalopolis to the south we could mention, which continues to just nibble around the edges.

A San Francisco website says yes, the city needs cheaper bikeshare. But it also needs to do something about those damn potholes and fractured streets.

Redding hopes the public turns out for a mile-long bike parade to celebrate the opening of a new two-way cycle track.

 

National

New Statesman considers how the “populous and multifarious history of women’s cycling” set women free.

A new study shows police traffic stops don’t prevent crashes, while unfairly targeting people of color.

Writing for Road Bike Action, a doctor explains how to treat and survive road rash. Don’t get me started. I once wiped out during a high-speed turn and ended up with road rash from my ankle to my chin. Good times.

Tucson, Arizona man faces a second-degree murder charge for the alleged drunken hit-and-run that killed a 56-year old man riding his bike.

After Tulsa, Oklahoma responded to complaints by ripping out a bike lane that had been installed without consulting the mostly Black residents of North Tulsa, a lone Black man walked the route carrying his bicycle in a powerful solo protest, saying that as a bike rider, he feels like a minority within a minority.

A Houston man got life without parole for fatally shooting a homeless man, after previously shooting the same man in the leg a few months earlier; he also faces charges for the fatal shooting of a woman riding a bicycle five years earlier.

A new book from Massachusetts-based author Peter Zheutlin spins a fictionalized tale about his real life great-great aunt Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, aka Annie Londonderry, famed for being the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world over a 125 years ago.

This is who we share the road with. Five children were injured when an allegedly stoned driver lost control of her car and slammed into a Rochester, New York home, coming to a stop in the living room where they were gathered.

Bizarre story from Philadelphia, where a driver was physically attacked by a bystander while trying to get away after running over a 12-year old boy with his pickup, with the boy’s bike still trapped underneath.

 

International

Fast Company says simply designing cities better — whether through superblocks, a Paris-inspired 15-minute city or going carfree — could cut deaths by all causes up to 20%.

The European Union commits to phasing out new gas and diesel-powered cars by 2035.

The booming gravel bike market is keeping titanium-frame bikemakers busy.

Outside continues to consolidate its growing monopoly on bike news with the purchase of Canada-based Pinkbike and CyclingTips, as well as the TrailForks mountain bike mapping app; the company already owns VeloNews, Peloton, Beta and Triathlete.

A British website explains how to keep your bike from being stolen, and what to do if it is anyway.

A Dutch village near Utrecht unveiled the world’s longest solar power-generating bike path, stretching more than the length of three and a half football fields, as part of a drive to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Speaking of Utrecht, the city’s latest new district will go even further in prioritizing bicyclists and pedestrians by banning cars entirely. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be packing my bags and dusting off my passport.

A Singapore woman begs bike riders to announce their presence to runners and pedestrians before passing by ringing a bell or saying “on your right” (or left, here), or even just “excuse me.”

 

Competitive Cycling

Defending champ Tadej Pogačar tightened his grip on the yellow jersey, as rivals tried and failed to wrest it from him on Wednesday’s penultimate mountain stage.

The New York Times and National Public Radio both pick up the story of Austrian cyclist Lachlan Morton’s remarkable solo ride along the entire Tour de France route, and every mile in between, raising over half a million for World Bicycle Relief while beating the Tour peloton the Paris by six days.

The popular Belgian Waffle Ride rolls into San Marcos this weekend with three days of festivals and bike racing, while the eponymous 132-mile multi-surface race takes place on Sunday.

A British woman was seriously injured when a commercial van driver apparently missed or ignored warning signs, and crashed into her while she was participating in an officially sanctioned time trial.

 

Finally…

How you, too, can become the country’s newest bicycle mayor. And always wear your helmet — it could save you from a tiger attack.

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

 

Noted safety advocate’s tragic story of friend’s death as they were riding together is compelling — but it may not be true

Due to the time and effort this story has taken, there will be no Morning Links today. We’ll catch up on anything we missed tomorrow. 

Photo by Danny Gamboa.

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It’s not unusual for advocates to disagree about bike and traffic safety.

It’s doesn’t necessarily mean one person is right and the other wrong. And it doesn’t mean we can’t respect one another, or work together on issues where we find common ground.

That’s the position I find myself now, after learning respected safety advocate Pat Hines, founder of the nationally recognized nonprofit youth program Safe Moves, opposes the California Safety Stop, aka Stop as Yield, bill that recently passed the state assembly.

Hines cites a personal tragedy in opposing the bill, when a friend was killed as they were riding together while training.

This is from a recent story from the Sacramento Bee.

For Pat Hines, founder of traffic safety group Safe Moves, this bill is personal.

While training for the 1984 Olympics, Hines and a fellow cyclist, Sue Latham, rode their bikes through an intersection, believing they had enough time to cross. Hines made it across, but Latham was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle.

Hines tells virtually the same story in this 2013 piece from the Mountain View Voice.

Safe Moves founder, Pat Hines, started the organization in 1983, after her friend, Sue Latham, was killed while the two were riding their bikes together.

Neither of the two were wearing helmets, Hines recalls, “because I don’t like helmets and I had asked her not to wear one either.”

Hines blew through a stop sign and Latham followed her. And while Hines made it in time, Latham didn’t — she was struck by a passing car, which never stopped.

There’s just one problem.

It may not be true.

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I confess, I wasn’t aware of Hines’ opposition to AB 122, or the tragedy that spurred her life of advocacy, until a few days ago.

That’s when I received an email from Serge Issakov, a longtime advocate for San Diego bicyclists.

I don’t always agree with him, either. But I always respect him, and his opinion, and make a point of listening to whatever he has to say.

It was Issakov who pointed me to the article in the Bee, and called out the discrepancy in her story.

As the stop-as-yield bill is working its way through Sacramento there have been several articles about it, and several quote cycling safety advocate and former RAAM racer Pat Hines, who opposes the bill, saying that she was once riding with a friend, Sue Latham, who rolled a stop and was hit, fatally. I of course felt empathy for the horror Hines must have experienced as I first read the story in the Sacramento Bee.

He reached out to me after coming across this 2018 article from the LA Daily Mirror historic website, which tells a radically different story about how Latham was killed.

One which did not involve them riding together — or Latham running a stop sign.

In fact, she wasn’t even on her bike at the time.

California Highway Patrol investigators said that [Sue Latham] was apparently kneeling on the side of the highway, trying to unjam the gears on her bike, when a motorist hit her, throwing her 15 to 20 feet in the air, causing massive head injuries and leaving a pool of blood on Pacific Coast Highway. Whoever hit her dragged her to the construction site and partially undressed her to make it appear that she had been raped, and then made a second trip to get her bike, the CHP said. Because she was nearly 6 feet tall, investigators said it might have taken two people to drag her to where she was found.

As Issakov pointed out, two extremely different accounts.

One is a simple, and all too common story, about a hit-and-run that occurred after someone blew a stop, with tragic consequences.

The other, a bizarre tale that strains all credibility.

Except it’s the second version that seems to be true.

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The story starts to change as you move back in time.

Starting with this 2008 story in the Sahuarita Sun, which cites Hines as saying Latham had run a red light, rather than a stop sign.

Hines told students she started the organization in memory of her best friend, Sue Latham, who died in 1983 when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle along the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Hines, also on a bicycle, had run a red light, and her friend followed. Latham was thrown 65 feet and died in the hospital three days later.

Hines said she was young at the time of the accident, and reckless about traffic safety.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my friend,” Hines said.

Note that the story is also off by two years on the 1981 date of Latham’s death.

However, those discrepancies can easily be written off as a simple trick of memory.

More troubling is a 1993 story from the Los Angeles Times, which suggests Hines wasn’t with Latham at all when she was struck.

And again, the story incorrectly sets Latham’s death in 1983, rather than 1981.

She began (Safe Moves) after her best friend was killed on a bicycle Nov. 13, 1983, by a hit-and-run motorist. Sue Latham had been on her way to meet Hines for a morning ride on Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway.

“The guilt I felt for Sue’s death was overwhelming,” Hines said. “I’d been responsible for her being interested in bicycle riding… I’d told her, ‘Don’t worry, the cars have to look out for us.’ ”

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But when we go back to more contemporaneous accounts, like this 1982 Associated Press story published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel just over two months after Latham’s death, and archived on the California Digital Newspaper Collection maintained by UC Riverside, the story changes completely.

And the bizarre fake rape story starts to become much more credible.

It was near dawn on a cloudy Sunday morning last fall when Miss Latham set out alone from Santa Monica on a bicycle ride up the scenic highway.

She had moved to Los Angeles just two months earlier from Austin, Texas. Miss Latham, who held a master’s degree in quantum mechanics, seemed to be settling nicely into the Southern California lifestyle. She had joined a swim club and loved to bicycle.

As she pedaled her 10-speed into Malibu on Nov. 15, she apparently developed a problem with the bike and got off to make repairs along the shoulder of the road. As Miss Latham was working, an automobile swerved and struck her, throwing her 15 to 20 feet.

Investigators say the driver, and perhaps another person, got out of the car and dragged her to a site about 100 feet away. They removed her shorts and underpants, shoved her beneath a partially constructed home and drove off. Police say it was an attempt to make Miss Latham look as if she was raped and beaten.

Two days later, in a hospital, Miss Latham died of head injuries and the Malibu office of the California Highway Patrol had a homicide to solve…

The story goes on to describe a billboard campaign and reward intended to find Latham’s killer.

And it mentions Hines, with no suggestion she was with Sue Latham when she was killed.

Pat Hines, a member of the (Santa Monica Swim Club) and a friend of Miss Latham’s, is hoping to boost the reward to $100,000.

Ms Hines said friends told her that as soon as the emotional impact wore off, people would lose interest. It isn’t true, she said. “I get letters from people all the time”, including from those whose sons and daughters have been killed by hit-and-run drivers, she said. “People are desperate to help.”

“I don’t want to let it get by”, she said. “I don’t want her to become just another statistic.”

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An even more contemporaneous article from the Austin American Statesman, written just a month after Latham’s death, tells her personal story in much more detail.

And confirms the tragic crime as told by the CHP, rather than Hines’ version of events.

The paper describes Latham as having a genius IQ, and publishing an article on the quantum mechanical study of a particular laser reaction in the journal of a prestigious British academic society, while studying for her masters at the University of Texas.

She was also a talented artist, with her work displayed in a New York gallery when she was just 17.

And she was active in the budding environmental movement of the 1970s, as well as campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Somewhere along the way, though, her interests shifted to the family business of writing, following in the footsteps of her novelist father and screenwriter sister and brother-in-law.

Which led her to move to Los Angeles to break into the business as a screenwriter and actress. And led to her friendship with Hines, then an advertising director for KRTH-AM.

“I met Sue in a restaurant,” Hines recalled. “I train daily on a bike, and Sue asked me if I knew any places to ride that were safe. I told her LA is really a bad place to ride…cars are everywhere and motorists don’t pay any attention to people on bikes. I said it was important to ride with somebody, and she kind of smiled and said, “I don’t worry about things like that…

The bike route Hines and other friends suggested was the Pacific Coast Highway, but they said the ride should only be undertaken early in the morning when traffic was light, preferably on holidays or weekends.

On the final day of her life, Latham borrowed her sister’s car, and parked behind Gladstones at Sunset and PCH, where she planned to meet the other members of the swim team later that Sunday morning.

Shortly after 7 am, Latham got off her bike on southbound PCH and knelt alongside the road; the CHP suspected she was fixing a mechanical problem.

That’s when the driver, who still hasn’t been caught 40 years later, veered off the side of the road, slamming into her.

Unconscious, and likely clinically dead, she was alone and defenseless against her killer or killers.

What happened next turned the case from a routine traffic accident into a bizarre incident that captured the attention of a city not known for its compassion.

Someone dragged Latham off the roadway, leaving her under a beach house under construction about 30 feet from the highway. Doctors later found sand in her brain.

After the injured woman was hidden from view, someone removed Latham’s shorts and underwear. her bike was concealed behind a nearby construction crane, and her backpack, containing her current journal, was stolen.

Note that there is no mention of Hines, or anyone else, being with her, other than the heartless cowards who took her life and went to extraordinary lengths to coverup the crime.

In fact, the story makes it very clear that, not only was Hines not with her, but wasn’t even aware of her death until the next day.

Outrage. The word comes up frequently in conversations with Californians who knew Latham or who have heard about the case.

One person who uses the word is Hines.

“We must have ridden right past her and not known it,” she said.

Hines said she got back to the restaurant where Sue had left her car about 2 pm that Sunday, but did not notice the Mercedes was still there.

The next morning, unaware of the accident, Hines saw Latham’s car in the restaurant parking lot about 6 am.

“It was still pitch dark,” she said. “I thought Sue might have gone swimming by herself. I ran up and down the beach but I didn’t see her.”

Then, assuming Latham must have been somewhere else, Hines went for a swim herself.

In fact, Pat Hines didn’t even learn about Latham’s impeding death until around 10 am Monday, when someone called the radio station to make sure Hines was okay.

The caller told Hines that an unidentified young woman had been critically injured in a hit-and-run on the Pacific Coast Highway. She had been admitted to Santa Monica Hospital as “Jane Doe.”

I knew it had to be Sue,” Hines said. I called the restaurant and found her car was still there. I called one of her friends and she said she had not seen Sue in two days.

Convinced the woman was Sue Latham, Hines contacted Latham’s brother-in-law.

She and the brother-in-law went to the hospital that Monday, and identified Latham.

Sue Latham died at 10:30 the following night.

………

None of this is to suggest that Pat Hines is intentionally lying.

Maybe, as Serge Issakov suggests, she just needed a compelling story for her advocacy work, and it evolved over time.

But time can play tricks on memory, especially when clouded by grief and survivor’s guilt.

Pat Hines lifetime of work on behalf of bike-riding children has surely earned our respect, and more than a modicum of consideration; there’s no telling just how many young lives she could be responsible for saving.

We also haven’t heard her side of this story. Issakov reached out to her for a reaction, but hasn’t received a response at the time this was written.

And I’m more than willing to post her response if she sees this.

Let’s also not forget that real story is, or should be, that there’s someone out there, living or dead, who’s gotten away with killing an innocent young woman for a full four decades.

But the next time Pat Hines tells the story of how Sue Latham died, whether to oppose AB 122 or any other reason, take it with a grain of salt.

Or maybe a five pound bag.

………

Eid Mubarak to all those observing today’s holiday!

………

Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask

And get vaccinated, already.

Two bike riders killed in Malibu collisions on PCH; just two of five fatal crashes on LA’s killer highway in recent weeks

My biggest fear when I agreed to surgery on my arm and hand was that someone would lose their life riding a bike, and I wouldn’t be able to write about the victim.

Which is exactly what happened in Malibu.

And not once, but twice.

The first came when three men were crossing Pacific Coast Highway just west of Busch Drive around 10:35 pm on Easter Sunday, one of whom was apparently walking a bicycle.

According to the Malibu Times, the man with the bike was struck and killed by a driver headed west on PCH.

A few moments later, one of his companions was struck and killed by a second driver as he scrambled to collect the victim’s belongings from the roadway.

Both men apparently died at the scene, just minutes apart. According to the paper, there have now been three people killed at the same spot in recent years.

Six days later, another man was killed while riding his bike at PCH and Corral Canyon.

The crash occurred sometime after dark on Saturday, April 10th.

The victim was riding without lights or reflectors when he was run down by a driver headed east on PCH at 51 mph, as recorded on the vehicle’s black box. He was knocked onto the other side of the highway, where he may have been struck by another driver.

There’s no word on whether the victim was riding on PCH or trying to cross the street. There’s also no word on whether the second driver remained at the scene.

Unfortunately, no identification was given for any of the victims, other than the first two men were homeless, while the third may have been.

But they all deserved better.

These are at least the 18th and 19th bicycling fatalities in Southern California this year, and the fourth and fifth that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

They are also just two of at least five people killed on PCH in Malibu since early March, along with another pedestrian and the driver of an SUV who went off the road.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for all the victims and their loved ones.

Thanks to Valley Duke for the heads-up.

 

 

 

 

Breaking news: Man killed in apparent solo bike crash on PCH in Seal Beach

Southern California’s killer highway has claimed yet another victim.

The Seal Beach Police Department is reporting that a man was found lying in the bike lane on Pacific Coast Highway near Seal Beach Boulevard around 9:17 Wednesday morning.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

According to the police, he was apparently riding in the bike lane when he hit some unidentified object, and was thrown from his bike.

The article stresses that no other vehicle was involved.

However, without identifying the object he allegedly struck, it’s also possible that the victim could have been sideswiped by a passing driver, or fallen in an attempt to avoid one.

There’s also no word on whether the victim was wearing a helmet, which might have helped in this situation, depending on the speed he was riding. Or it might have been of no use, since they don’t specify what injuries he suffered.

Hopefully we’ll learn more later.

Anyone with information is urged contact Traffic Investigator Keith Phan at 562/799-4100 ext. 1625, or email kphan@sealbeachca.gov.

This is at least the 45th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eleventh that I’m aware of in Orange County, which is having a very bad year.

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

Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Morning Links: CicLAvia returns to Culver City–Venice, and Malibu parking study could bring better safety to PCH

The big news this weekend is the return of CicLAvia to Culver City and Venice, and points in between.

CicLAvia lists feeder rides, including a chance to ride with the mayor of Santa Monica. Meanwhile, Metro offers advice on how to get there via the Expo Line, which is by far your best bet if you can’t ride there.

CicLAvia also offer an interactive map of highlights along the route. And no CicLAvia is complete without the Militant Angeleno’s epic guide.

………

It was only seven short years ago that cyclists started seriously pressing Malibu officials to make much needed changes on deadly PCH through the city.

Efforts that at first seemed to go nowhere in what was then a very bike-unfriendly city, but gradually led to significant improvements as they recognized both the value of bicyclists and the need to make the city’s de facto Main Street safer for everyone.

A change for which Eric Bruins, now the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for Culver City, deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

Now those efforts appear to be bearing fruit, as many of the suggestions made by cyclists in those meetings — like narrowing traffic lanes to slow drivers, installing bike lanes and widening shoulders to reduce the risk of dooring from parked cars — are contained in a new PCH Parking Study commissioned by the city.

According to the Malibu Times, the study calls for making traffic lanes, which are currently anywhere from 14 to 16 feet wide, a uniform 11 feet throughout the 22-mile length of the highway through the ‘Bu.

It also calls for bike lanes, which city officials had rejected out of hand back in the bad old days, on PCH west of Trancas. And from Webb Way to Las Flores Canyon, stretching 3.3 miles from just beyond the Country Mart to a little before Pepperdine University.

However, it’s not a done deal.

Malibu is holding a special joint meeting of the Public Safety and Public Works Commissions this Wednesday to discuss the study. And it’s sure to be filled with the usual anti-bike forces who don’t want any changes to accommodate bikes, as well as residents who are willing to keep PCH dangerous if it means they can keep their parking spaces.

So if you ride PCH through the city — or would like to — make plans to be there, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Malibu City Hall, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.

………

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from LA Bike Dad. Now we know why, as he relates the harrowing tale of his wife’s emergency C-section and his son’s premature birth.

Best wishes to him and his family, and congratulations on a healthy baby boy.

And let’s offer a word of thanks that everyone is okay.

………

Local

LA’s $5.5 billion plan to reduce auto traffic at LAX includes improvements in bike and pedestrian access.

Rapha is planning a series of weekend rides and parties in cities around the world; they’ll come to Los Angeles in July.

The mayor of Santa Clarita makes a call for residents to complete a short five-question survey about the city’s proposed bikeshare system before the end of the month.

 

State

Don’t plan on riding the bike path at Bolsa Chica State Beach this Saturday, unless you want to find yourself in the middle of a pro-Trump rally.

A Salinas writer says bikeshare has been a huge success in SoCal, so why not there?

A bike-hating Vallejo letter writer blames bicyclists for just about everything, from running into car doors to riding outside the door zone. The only thing she seems to have left out is colluding with the Russians to put bike lanes on our streets.

 

National

A writer for Road and Track makes a surprising call to bring back red light cameras — not to raise revenue for cities, but to actually improve safety for everyone on the streets.

Tucson concludes that painted bike lanes aren’t enough for riders of all ages.

A Seattle-area bicyclist complains about the insensitivity of drivers who refuse to pass safely.

A Boston reverend says she found a new spirituality and sense of community bicycling through the city’s traffic clogged streets.

New York delivery cyclists speak out about what the Village Voice calls the toughest job on two wheels.

New Orleans plans to double bicycling rates over the next three years as part of the PeopleForBikes Big Jump Project. Los Angeles is also one of the ten cities participating in the project, with plans to boost cycling rates in DTLA and University Park.

 

International

Grab another cup of joe; a new books says for most people, coffee isn’t just not harmful, it’s actually good for you.

Seriously? A British lord blamed the bike lanes on London’s Westminster bridge for making it easier for a terrorist to run down dozens of people in Wednesday’s attack. As if it would have been harder for him to drive down the sidewalk if the traffic lanes butted up against the curb, instead.

A physician who used to live in Visalia got caught up in the attack as he was bicycling across the Westminster Bridge, and rushed to help the victims before the paramedics arrived.

A British bike industry association is staring a new campaign to get more children to start cycling.

Officials in an English town remind angry drivers that bicyclists aren’t required to use a new network of bikeways, and there are good reasons why they might choose to ride in the road instead.

Now that I’d like to see. Danish ebike maker Diavelo will unveil a new model at the Taipei Cycle Show designed by famed auto design firm Pininfarina, the company responsible for classic cars from Ferrari, Fiat, Alpha Romeo and Maserati.

Drivers aren’t always the bad guys. A South African motorist came to the aid of a woman who had been pulled off her bicycle and dragged down some stairs by a pair of robbers; they bolted when he ran to help.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to hitch your dog to a bike rack, make sure it’s bolted down first; same advice holds for your bike, too. Maybe you’re in the market for a slightly used 24K gold BMX bike for a mere fifty grand.

And usually the douchebags are behind the wheel, not protecting the bikes.

 

PCH claims another victim, as bike rider killed in Pacific Palisades hit-and-run

Yet another bike rider has been murdered by a heartless driver who didn’t have the basic human decency to stop.

KCBS-2 reports the victim was struck by the driver of a white Jeep around 11 pm on PCH at Sunset Blvd. However, they add that it was near Temescal Canyon, suggesting that the wreck occurred somewhere in between the two streets.

No information is currently available about the victim, who died at the scene.

The driver fled following the crash, with the front bumper hanging off the vehicle.

No other details are available at this time.

According to SWITRS data, the brief section of PCH through Los Angeles remains one of the most dangerous areas of the coast highway, with 158 bicycle-involved crashes in the last 12 years, second only to Long Beach. Malibu is third with 128.

The section of PCH that runs through Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Malibu has been the site of nine bicycling fatalities in that time, including this one, making it one of the deadliest roads for cyclists in Southern California. At least three of those deaths have been the result of hit-and-runs.

Malibu is currently working on safety improvements to PCH through the city, while Caltrans has promised to eventually widen PCH to provide shoulders through the section where this crash presumably occurred.

This is the 55th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County; it’s also the seventh in the City of Los Angeles.

Note: An earlier version of this story contained the wrong total for bicycling fatalities in Los Angeles County this year; it has been corrected to reflect the accurate total. 

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

Thanks to Brian Nilsen for the heads-up. And thanks to Ed Ryder for the stats on PCH.

Update: Early morning crash kills cyclist on PCH in Huntington Beach

More bad news.

Less than two hours after a disabled bike rider was killed in Arleta, a woman was killed riding her bike in Huntington Beach.

The Orange County Register reports that the cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north on PCH just south of Seapoint Drive when she was rear-ended by a car around 4:40 am.

She was hit with enough force to knock her into the southbound lanes, and was taken to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, where she died.

The driver stayed at the scene and called police; police said he did not appear to be under the influence, and was not arrested.

A satellite view shows a four lane divided highway with a wide marked shoulder where the victim likely would have been riding, although she could have been forced into the traffic lane by parked cars or some other obstruction.

No word on whether she had lights on her bike nearly two hours before sunrise.

This is the 47th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Orange County. It’s also the 13th bicycling fatality in Huntington Beach since December, 2010.

Update: The victim has been identified as 31-year old Long Beach resident Nadia Silva. 

Update 2: According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Silva was crossing the southbound lanes of PCH from the center median when she was hit, and places the location as between Seapoint and Goldenwest Streets

Police say speed doesn’t appear to be a factor. Which leaves the question of why Silva and the driver did not seem to see each other on the straight, unobstructed roadway.

My deepest sympathy for Nadia Silva and all her loved ones.

OC Sheriff threatens to victimize an Orange County cyclist a second time; road raging driver allowed to walk

Prepare to get mad.

Or maybe livid is a better word.

Just a day after a widely circulated open letter called on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to charge a truck driver who used his vehicle as a weapon to threaten a cyclist, the department recommended that charges be filed.

Against the victim.

According to the LA Times, Bryan Larsen was riding his bike on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point on May 31st when he captured video of a truck driver attempting to run him off the road before the passenger — who turned out to be the driver’s wife — hits him with a thrown Gatorade bottle; they then try to smoke him out as they took off.

Maybe she thought he looked thirsty.

Larsen was originally told that no charges could be filed because sheriff’s deputies did not actually witness the assault themselves.

Which is not true, of course.

Police are required to witness an event in order to file a traffic violation or misdemeanor charge; however, there’s no such requirement for felony charges. And using a large truck to intimidate a vulnerable road user should certainly qualify.

I’ve also been told by members of other departments that video footage can be used as evidence, as well as eye witness testimony. At the time, Larsen was riding with another cyclist who could verify everything seen on the video.

After the video went viral and was picked up by local news stations, the sheriff’s department reconsidered and conducted an investigation. Though based on the results, not much of one.

Even though the driver reportedly used his massive truck as a weapon to threaten the rider and attempt to force him off the road, they declined to charge him with anything. At all.

Instead, the Orange County Register reports they recommended that the OC District Attorney file an assault and battery charge against the driver’s wife.

And that charges be filed against the victim for apparently inciting the attack through his use of obscene language directed at the couple.

Charges are also being recommended against the bicyclist, he said, who is suspected of using “offensive words in public, likely to provoke a violent reaction.” Officials suspect the cyclist made “rude, disparaging comments” before the incident was recorded on his cellphone, (Lt. Jeff) Hallock said.

This, despite the fact the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive language and gestures are protected as free speech under the 1st Amendment. And even though Hallock makes it clear investigators are only assuming that Larson said something so offensive as to justify a violent attack with a deadly weapon.

As if anything could.

Would they still feel the driver was justified if he had pulled out a gun and started shooting at the cyclist? Legally, there’s no difference; only the choice of weapon used.

And never mind what actually precipitated the event. Unless Larsen suffers from a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome or mental illness that forced him to swear without any provocation, he was clearly responding to something the driver had done before the camera started recording.

What, we may never know, since the threat of criminal charges will now force him to remain silent. Which is probably the real intent.

Legally, there’s no valid case against him. So the question becomes, why is the OCSD trying so hard to intimidate the victim of a violent crime — while letting the primary perpetrator off scott-free?

And what does it say to every other bike rider south of the Orange Curtain when even video evidence isn’t good enough to get the authorities to give a damn about our safety — let alone threaten us for reporting it?

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her department are sending a clear message to everyone who travels by two wheels that we remain second-class citizens in her jurisdiction.

And if something bad happens on her watch, just keep your mouth shut about it.

Or else.

Update: Cyclist killed in Huntington Beach hit-and-run; arrest made in nearby Seal Beach

A bad month for SoCal cyclists just got that much worse when a cyclist was killed in a Huntington Beach hit-and-run late this morning.

According to the Orange County Register, the collision occurred around 11:40 Friday morning on northbound PCH between Seapoint Street and Warner Avenue. The rider, who has been identified only as an adult male, was pronounced dead at the scene.

No details on how the crash occurred are available at this time. However, a commenter on the Register story says they heard the impact, and turned to see the rider flying through the air and skidding over 100 feet, suggesting a high speed hit-from behind collision.

Satellite photos show a long stretch of roadway with only limited access, while the street view reveals a marked shoulder next to a four lane highway, with a 60 mph speed limit. It’s possible the driver may have drifted onto the shoulder, or the cyclist could have been forced into the traffic lane by a parked car or some other obstruction.

But we won’t know until additional information becomes available.

The good news — if there can be good news in a story like this — is that a suspect was arrested about an hour later in nearby Seal Beach.

According to KTLA-5, a man lost control of a 2011 Hyundai and crashed on Westminster Blvd between Bolsa Chica and Seal Beach Blvds. Police investigating the collision discovered the car matched the description of the suspect vehicle in the hit-and-run, and took the driver into custody.

However, KCBS-2 says police were following the suspect by helicopter, and arrested the driver when he ran off the road.

This is the 27th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County. The cyclist was also the sixth SoCal rider killed by hit-and-run since the first of the year, and the seventh to die this month.

My prayers for the victim, and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Lois, David Huntsman and Weshigh for the heads-up.

Update: KTLA-5 has identified the victim as 63-year old Roger Michael Lippman of Huntington Beach, listed as a rider in last year’s Palm Desert and Stagecoach Centuries

KNBC-4 confirms that the driver hit Lippman from behind; aerial video shows Lippman’s body covered by a tarp on the right shoulder next to his crumpled bike. The web version of the story shows the bloodied face of the suspect driver, while the embedded video shows the crumpled front end and shattered windshield of the car he was driving, which was registered to a 59-year old Anaheim woman.

Meanwhile, the Times identifies the driver as 27-year old Joel Alexander Murphy of Mission Viejo. A comment from reliable source TQ reports that Murphy has been booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and violating probation for prior drug offenses, including DUI, dating back to 2005.

And yet, despite all that, he was still behind the wheel.

I’ve also seen unconfirmed reports that Murphy was racing another vehicle at speeds up to 80 mph when he ran off the road and murdered hit Lippman. 

Hopefully, this will be the last time he’s ever allowed to operate a motor vehicle.

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