Tag Archive for sidewalk riding

Blaming the victim: Beverly Hills police blame sidewalk riding cyclist over dangerous driver

Last week, I received the following email from cyclist and budding brewmeister Todd Mumford.

As you may recall, Todd recently described a collision that left him with minor — though painful — injuries and a badly mangled bike. Now his neighbor has been the victim of a law-breaking driver.

And, apparently, the Beverly Hills police.

Todd notes that the story is second hand, but he has no reason to question his neighbor’s version of events.

He was headed east on Olympic Blvd. At some point he was riding in the street, but jumped on to the sidewalk (there was a car blocking his path or something like that).

He was on the sidewalk when he entered the crosswalk at Olympic/Doheny on a green light with the pedestrian walk sign. According to my neighbor, he checked the road and all was clear as he entered. However, as soon as he got into the crosswalk, he looked left just in time to see an SUV make a right turn from the middle lane at the last second, hitting my neighbor and sending him to the ground; he took the brunt of the impact with his shoulder.

The driver stopped and checked on my neighbor. My neighbor said two or three drivers that witnessed the accident also stopped, and started berating the driver that hit him for driving like a maniac. According to them, the driver of the SUV was speeding down Olympic, weaving in and out of traffic and finally made an illegal right turn from the middle lane before striking my neighbor.

The paramedics arrived as did the police. My neighbor got checked out and nothing appeared broken, but his shoulder was in a lot of pain (it has since become worse and he is going to get it checked to see whether he needs surgery). The police took the statements of the witnesses, the driver and my neighbor.   Their conclusion at the end of the police report was that my neighbor was entirely at fault because he was riding on the sidewalk. (My neighbor also said the police treated him like he did something wrong the entire time.)

Now, as I explained to him, it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk in Beverly Hills. If he was just a little farther down Olympic he would have been in Los Angeles and it would not have been an issue. What I am wondering is if the police came to their conclusion because the law states it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk or they think he’s at fault because the driver couldn’t see him because he was riding on the sidewalk.

All of which begs the question, what would the police have concluded had the SUV hit a pedestrian who was walking down the sidewalk had just entered the crosswalk and got hit?

If the police assigned 100% of fault to my neighbor because he broke the law by riding on the sidewalk, they are absolutely in the wrong. There is a legal concept in torts called negligence per se  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negligence_per_se), which, although not applicable here, feels like the police may be following the same concept. “You broke a law, you got hit, your fault.”  I have not seen the police report, but if they assigned 100% of fault to my neighbor, I would assume the driver was not cited for anything.

My neighbor said he has since retained an attorney and the driver’s insurance company assigned 80% of the fault to the driver and 20% to him, which is a small victory.

(As a side note, when I was dealing with the adjustor for the insurance company of the driver that hit me, they asked if I was riding on the sidewalk when I was hit.)

This story raises a number of issues.

Not the least of which is the problem of sidewalk riding, which is legal in some California cities and banned in others. And even legal in some areas of cities that ban it in others, such as Beverly Hills, which bans sidewalk riding only in business districts — even though BHPD bike officers routinely ride on the gilded sidewalks of the city’s Golden Triangle, including Rodeo Drive.

This patchwork of laws makes it virtually impossible for cyclists to comply with the law, as they may have no way of knowing if it is legal or illegal as they pass through the many various communities of the county.

In effect, it’s no different from the speed traps that plagued the state in the ’40s and ’50s. By refusing to post regulations on the street where cyclists who don’t live in the city can see them, jurisdictions that ban sidewalk riding virtually ensure that riders who take to the sidewalk for whatever reason will break the law at some point and be subject to ticketing.

Or worse, as this case points out.

Of course, the one solution is for all cyclists to always ride in the street. But simple common sense says that will never happen, as some riders will always feel more comfortable on the sidewalk, while others will jump on and off as needed to avoid road hazards and dangerous streets.

A better answer is to establish a uniform standard from city to city so it’s actually possible for riders to know and observe the law, wherever they ride.

Then there’s the problem of police in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills ignoring witness statements that the driver broke the law by making a right turn from the wrong lane. And deciding that the relatively minor violation of riding on the sidewalk completely outweighs a reckless driver in a dangerous vehicle putting others at risk by committing a major moving violation.

Despite the driver’s potential to cause harm, they insisted on blaming the victim. Instead of holding people operating vehicles that are capable of killing their fellow road users accountable for operating them in a safe and legal manner, they heaped all the blame on the bike rider, who posed a danger no one but himself.

All of which begs the question, what the f*** is wrong with Beverly Hills??????

Maybe you can ask them yourself.

The Beverly Hills City Council is meeting tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, March 6th, at 1:30 pm. Bikes are on the agenda — a discussion of the city’s first planned bikeways, making them only 40 years or so behind the rest of the world.

But maybe we can use the opportunity to ask why they seem intent on remaining the most bike-unfriendly city on the Westside.

Attention cyclists: just share the damn sidewalk, already. And don’t get killed in KY after dark.

KCET reports on rude cyclists unwilling to share the road — or the sidewalk, for that matter — with pedestrians. Even though we expect other people to share the streets with us.

But let’s face it. There will always be jerks on two wheels, just as there are countless jerks on four. And anyone who hasn’t encountered bipedal jerks on L.A.’s sidewalks hasn’t spent much time walking in this fair city. Or trying, with more or less success, to navigate around the pedestrians who sometimes clog the various off-road bike paths that bisect L.A.

But whatever mode of transportation and/or recreation we choose, we all have a responsibility to share common spaces safely and courteously, whether or not we think the other party belongs there.

As the most vulnerable users, pedestrians should be given the same sort of space we expect from passing drivers, regardless of how careless and clueless they may seem at times. Especially on the sidewalk, where they have every right to be safe from the rampages of rude, careless and barely under control riders.

Lord knows, I’ve come close to punching a few myself for riding close enough and fast enough to put my wife and I at risk while we walk.

And God help anyone who endangers my dog.

Not to mention that you’re significantly safer on the street — despite how it may seem — where you’re more visible and less likely to get right hooked or hit by drivers barreling out of driveways.

On the other hand, complaining about cyclists on a bike path is like complaining about all those damn cars on the 405.

Then again, it doesn’t seem to be a new problem.


Instead of focusing on why the driver hit and killed a cyclist, Kentucky authorities question why he was riding his bike on a rural road at 9:15 pm.

How about because he wanted to, and had every right to be there?

Fortunately for the driver, he claims he just didn’t see Illinois Institute of Technology student Yishi Wei, which of course absolves him of any and all responsibility to operate his vehicle in a safe manner, or avoid people directly in front of him.

Police also question why Wei had a hand-drawn map listing distances between towns, yet had no change of clothes to indicate he was planning to stay overnight; clearly, they’re unaware that some cyclists actually enjoy long distance rides. Let alone ever heard of randonneuring.

An earlier article notes that he was wearing dark, non-reflective clothing, and that the bike had reflectors, but apparently not lights. Police make a point of mentioning that Wei wasn’t wearing a helmet.

While any non-distracted driver should have been easily able to spot a rear reflector, there is a reason why smart cyclists wear bright clothing and light themselves up like Christmas trees after dark.

And even then, it’s not always enough.

And for all those police spokespersons and reporters who seem to be endlessly unclear on the concept, there’s not a single bike helmet made anywhere on the planet that can protect the rider from a rear-end collision at highway speeds.

None. Nada. Zero. Zip.

Got it?


AG2R’s John Gadret reeled in Katusha’s Daniel Moreno, the last survivor of the day’s breakaway, to win Stage 11 of the Giro. Cavendish wins the final sprint stage and goes home, while Contador holds almost a one-minute lead overall. And t-shirts sales have raised $22,000 so far for the family of fallen Giro rider Wouter Waylandt, who was laid to rest on Thursday with a eulogy from friend Tyler Farrar.

On the other side of the Atlantic, 39-year old Chris Horner of the RadioShack team won an impressive victory in Stage 4 of the AToC; he feels under appreciated after 17 years as a pro cyclist, and thinks he can win it all. A spectator is hit by a car and seriously injured near the end of the race.

Horner holds onto the leader’s jersey in Stage 5, won by 21-year old Slovakian cyclist Peter Sagan. The Amgen Tour of California heads to a big finish in Thousand Oaks, where a local cyclist will be honored as a cancer survivor two years after doctors gave her six months to live. A look at the man behind Team Type 1, established to call attention to the battle against diabetes.

And Just Another Cyclist considers what’s in a multi-hyphenated  name when it comes to AToC teams.


Walk Eagle Rock takes an in-depth and insightful look at the many problems facing Eagle Rock Blvd. KCET offers eight off-road routes to celebrate Bike Week, which kind of defeats the purpose of Bike Week seeking to normalize cycling on city streets, doesn’t it? Streetsblog’s Bike to Work series continues with Michelle Chavez writing about the challenges of biking in the Antelope Valley. Will Campbell accompanies his wife on her first Bike to Work Day. Better Bike Beverly Hills’ Mark Elliot casts his insightful eye on Bob Mionske’s Bicycling and the Law. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton wants your stories, photos and videos of Bike to Work Day. The Times briefly covers Wednesday’s Downtown Ride for Bike Week; the Source offers a little more detail while LADOT Bike Blog offers the best coverage, as usual. Metro rewards bike commuters with their Human Powered Commuter Awards. Reimagining San Fernando Road as a more pleasant place to walk and bike; than again, anything would be an improvement. Flying Pigeon says L.A. is surrounded by cities that are trying a lot harder. LA Brakeless will have a public opening party on Saturday the 20th to celebrate their new pop-up location. Santa Monica Museum of Art offers a Cycle Chic Saturday to conclude Bike Week. The Beach Cities Cycling Club offers free bike corrals for events throughout the South Bay. Art of the Group Ride looks at the history of the Blessing of the Bicycles.

People for Bikes wishes you a happy Bike to Work Week. Five tips for bike commuting. New data on the economic benefits of cycling, which could be the forgotten answer to energy policy, as well. Turning your bike into a basket case. Tucson Velo visits Los Angeles. There’s finally a settlement in Portland’s infamous case of the disappearing bike lane, despite the ruling of an apparently incompetent judge. A St. Louis cyclist brushes off a close call. After receiving a Purple Heart as a result of an Iraqi IED, an Ohio veteran fights for his life after his bike is hit by a car. The NYPD backs off their heavy handed crackdown on Central Park cyclists.

A human life is worth about the price of a mid-sized TV in Ontario. How to tell when it’s time to find a new bike shop. Despite last year’s rash of bike deaths, London streets are the safest overall since records have been kept; a British MP calls for sensors that could spot a cyclist in a truck’s blind spot. London cyclists are getting mugged for their bikes. A Brit driver gets a whopping 100 hours of community service for the hit-and-run death of a 17-year old cyclist. An investigative journalist is out to eliminate Scotland’s popular Etape Calendonia because it closes local roads for three hours once a year — never mind that the roads are open the other 8757 hours every year. A third-tier Aussie cyclist faces a two-year ban after being caught using recreational drugs.

Finally, more former friends and teammates turn against Lance Armstrong, as Tyler Hamilton says he witnessed Lance taking EPO.

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