Tag Archive for Samantha Cunha

New ADA in Woon hit-and-run case, LA paid out 300 grand in hit-and-run rewards, and bike theft down 22% in Long Beach

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

So let’s have her kick things off today by catching us up with the latest happenings in bike jurisprudence and other related stuff.

Mariah Kandise Banks (charged in the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier) has yet another DA newly assigned to her case. He was tranfserred from the Van Nuys courthouse on the morning of her most react hearing, December 6th. He had a whole new caseload to familiarize himself with, but was present for Banks’ appearance. I was able to speak with him very briefly and he indicated that the prosecution is continuing to work with the defense on a plea deal.

(Editor’s note — Let’s hope they finally get a conviction while Woon’s long-suffering mother is still around to see it.)

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Samantha Cunha killed her friend during a bizarre road rage incident. On December 1st, the charge was dismissed.

(Editor’s note — This was the case where Cunha was a passenger in a car driven by Sophia Ardalan when they became involved in a running road rage dispute on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. Ardalan was killed when she either got out, or fell out, of her car attempting to confront the motorcyclist in front of a West Hollywood apartment building, and Cunha somehow put the car into reverse, crushing her against a tree.)

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In the latest episode of Drivers Hitting Buildings:

  • On the 6th, a driver smashed into a building at Los Altos Dr. & Caricia Dr. in Hacienda Heights.
  • On Sunday morning, a speeding driver in a Nissan Frontier took out a parked pick-up, a light pole, and the garage at the T-intersection of City Terrace Drive & Ditman.
  • In the wee, wee hours of Monday, the flower shop at Colima & Lambert, the site of a Black Friday fatality, was again collateral damage in a 3-vehicle collision. This time a driver made a drive-thru of it.
  • A driver fled a hit and run on the 710, went zipping down surface streets, and ended up hitting the house at 5th St. & Sydney Dr. (This is not the first time that house has been hit.)
  • On the 3rd, a dipstick departed the Sinclair gas station at Alameda & Nadeau with the gas nozzle still attached. Counts as structural damage?

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There was a candlelight vigil Sunday for a mother & daughter killed on my coworker’s commute route. Last week, she asked, “You do this all the time. Do I take a candle, or will they hand them out there? Is it okay to take more flowers?” I’m  kinda upset to be the go-to for advice on this subject, tbh.

The speed limit on this stretch is 40mph, and this intersection is close to the terminus of the 105 at Studebaker, which has frequent collisions, sometimes involving the already red-tagged building on the east side of the street. Currently, the guardrail “protecting” the sidewalk has a 20-inch dent. Just a half mile up the road, Chandler Ray was killed on his bike.

The killer was released last Tuesday before the tox exam was even returned. She’s out there. Just like Mariah Banks.

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This was the third Christmas in a row that it was too wet for me & my friends to put up our hit-and-run reward posters… y’know, the some people are in such a rush on Christmas Eve that they really don’t watch out for grannies trying to make their way home. We have really sharp pictures of the suspect and his vehicle, too! The posters and the reindeer hoof print stencils have to wait til next year.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels.

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LA’s standing reward program is working better than we realized, as Crosstown reports the city paid out a total of $300,000 to eleven people for information leading to the conviction of hit-and-run drivers last year.

Prior to last year, the city had only paid three people a total of $55,000 in the previous four years of the program.

The sudden explosion of payments was most likely due the time it takes to make an arrest and for the case to work its way through the court system, according to a police spokesman.

The site also reports that serious hit-and-runs are up in the city, while overall hit-and-runs decreased somewhat.

Los Angeles has seen a rise in people dying or being seriously injured in car crashes. In 2021, there were 359 felony hit and runs in the city that resulted in serious injury or death, up 25% from the 286 in 2020, according to LAPD Traffic Division Compstat data.

Altogether, there were 3,536 felony hit and run cases in Los Angeles last year. That was a decrease of 17% from the 4,273 in 2020.

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Time is running out to voice your thoughts on the planned rush hour bus lanes on La Brea Ave, which would provide a relatively safe route from Hollywood to South LA.

As long as you don’t mind Metro buses running up behind you every ten minutes or so.

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Let’s tip one out for the late, great VeloNews.

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Longtime CNN reporter and host Christiane Amanpour is one of us.

https://twitter.com/CoolBikeArt1/status/1481128809348874240

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The latest Streetfilm illustrates how cargo bikes are revolutionizing family life in New York City.

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

A Seattle man has had more than a dozen surgeries to correct critical injuries suffered when a hit-and-run driver his his bike last month, dragging him for two blocks under the massive SUV, in what he says may have been a deliberate attack.

An Atlanta man faces multiple felony charges for allegedly chasing down a man on a bicycle with a Hummer, then beating him with a baseball bat in an apparent attempt to stiff the victim out of a mere $70 for two days worth of yard work.

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

A Milwaukee bike rider faces a charge of 1st degree intentional homicide for an alleged road rage shooting that took the life of an immigration lawyer after the pair exchanged words; he’s claiming the shooting was in self-defense.

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Local

Streets For All wants you to tell LA County to improve bike and pedestrian access to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area at this evening’s 6:30 pm virtual meeting.

Speaking of Streets For All, the traffic safety PAC is hosting their latest virtual happy hour at 5 pm today, with 26th District California Senator Ben Allen as guest.

Violent crime may be up in Long Beach, just like in most of the country, but bike thefts were down by nearly 22% in the city last year.

 

State

Anaheim is hosting a virtual meeting tomorrow to consider transportation and mobility options for the city’s resort district, including Disneyland; better sidewalks and bike lanes leading from the nearby ARTIC train station would help. The meeting comes five years after the city’s shortsighted decision to cancel a streetcar that would have linked Disneyland with the train station.

San Francisco Streetsblog’s Roger Rudick takes an Oakland TV station to task for displaying its windshield bias by criticizing  bicycle rideout taking over a local freeway, while failing to criticize dangerous drivers using bike lanes. Because one is a lot more dangerous than the other, and it ain’t the kids on bikes. Even if riding on a freeway isn’t the brightest choice. 

No bias here. A San Francisco letter writer says they might as well put up a sign saying “restricted to the young and fit” on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, which advocates are calling on the city to keep closed.

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition objects to a special meeting to once again reconsider a planned road diet that has already been “considered, reconsidered, and reconsidered yet again,” apparently to appease residents opposed to the loss of some parking spaces.

UC Davis has moved its auction of bicycles abandoned on campus online, presumably opening the sale up to anyone. Just in case you’re in the market.

 

National

Kind of a strange post from Bike Snob’s Eben Weiss, who finds his knickers in a twist after criticism from Peter Flax and Doug Gordon of The War on Cars podcast, who made their comments without actually naming him.

Bike mechanics, co-ops, and various advocates and nonprofit advocacy groups are joining together to call for more durable and repairable budget bikes that can last at least 500 riding hours before breaking down, and be fixed when they do. You can sign the petition here. However, you’ll be required to give your full address, which is usually a deal breaker for me.

The second shoe has fallen in Las Vegas, where the family of one of the five bike riders killed by a meth-fueled truck driver have filed suit against the driver and his employer, as well as the ride’s escort driver, leaving just three more shoes to inevitably fall. The driver, Jordan Barson, is doing 16 to 40 years behind bars for the crash.

Bird watchers in the town nextdoor to my Colorado hometown are up in arms over plans to pave a bike path less than half a mile from a beloved pair of nesting golden eagles, who they fear will be frightened off by “flashing bicycle rims and pink Lycra speeding past at 22 miles an hour.” But evidently, dull rims and yellow or green Lycra is just fine.

Houston is falling behind on a commitment to build 1,800 miles of bike lanes by 2027, as bicycling deaths continue to rise in the city and the surrounding county.

Chicago’s supposedly race-neutral traffic cams somehow managed to disproportionately ticket Black and Latino drivers anyway.

You’ve got to be kidding. Life is cheap in Florida, where an accused hit-and-run driver who killed a man riding a bicycle copped a sweetheart plea deal in a long-delayed conclusion to the 2016 case, walking without a single day behind bars in a case that should could have resulted in four to 15 years behind bars.

 

International

Tragic news from Argentina, where a German man was struck and killed by lightening on just the second day of a planned 1,615-mile ride across the South American country.

A British doctoral student is begging a thief to show a little heart, and bring back the stolen bike her mother gave her as a birthday present to get to class. It’s tempting to say bike thieves don’t have one, but you never know. She might get lucky.

Great idea. An English town is renting new foldies, ebikes and bike trailers, as well as more traditional bikes, for as little as $27 a month, including free delivery and a beginner’s lesson from a bicycling instructor, to get people to try out biking to work or school without having to make a commitment.

A neighborhood in Nottingham, England is going carfree, banning motor vehicles to make roads described as “a racetrack” safer for bike riders and pedestrians. Robin Hood would undoubtedly approve.

Singapore’s Straights Times offers a guide to bicycling in the island city-state, which has some unusually strict regulations.

Now surprise here, as Australian researchers report three-quarters of people surveyed in the country’s Victoria state want to ride their bikes more, but only if there’s safe bike infrastructure to do it in. Which pretty much corresponds with similar surveys everywhere else, including Los Angeles.

 

Competitive Cycling

Disappointing news, as newly revitalized cyclist Mark Cavendish won’t get a chance to break Eddy Merckx record of 34 stage wins at this year’s Tour de France; the British sprinter, who bounced back from five winless years with a surprising four stage wins last year, will be relegated to the Giro, instead.

Sad news from San Diego, where former Canadian pro cyclist and acupuncturist Greg Bourque died of Covid-related complications just after Christmas; he was 55.

Louisiana’s “challenging” Rouge Roubaix bike race is back this year after a five year hiatus due to flooding and Covid, as well as a misguided local ordinance banning groups of more than ten people on bicycles. Which makes it kind of hard to host a race with hundreds of competitors.

 

Finally…

Your next ebike could be a itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny little ped-assist car. And yes, always check your broken bike to make sure it still works.

Check Your Breaks Screenshot

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

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