Tag Archive for they ride among us

2nd driver charged in double hit-and-run death of two young brothers, and US bike deaths may have dropped in 2020

One quick note before we get started.

Almost a year ago, just before the world went to hell, the LA Times did a story about the foster corgi we took in to help a homeless man get back on his feet. 

This weekend they did a followup story, with an update how man and dog are doing and the ripple effect it had on everyone, my wife and I included. 

Along with the corgi puppy we adopted last summer. 

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The other shoe finally dropped.

A full month after 57-year old Grossman Burn Foundation co-founder Rebecca Grossman was charged with murder and vehicular manslaughter for killing a pair of young brothers in an alleged drunken street race last September, the other driver has finally been arrested.

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Erickson was inexplicably charged with a single count of misdemeanor reckless driving, despite allegedly contributing to the deaths of the two young boys.

And despite the allegation of street racing.

Eleven-year old Mark Iskander and his eight-year old brother Jacob were crossing the street with their parents in a marked and well-lighted crosswalk when they were run down, one on his bicycle and the other on a scooter.

It easily could have been worse. Their parents were able to jump back with the boys’ younger siblings at the last second, barely sparing the family from being wiped out entirely.

And yet the 51-year old Erickson, who had a one-year stint with the Dodgers, faces a single lousy count of misdemeanor reckless driving.

Did I mention that both drivers are in their 50s, and should have effing known better?

Maybe prosecutors can explain their charging decision in this one, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me.

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The good news is bicycling deaths may — repeat, may — have dropped last year, from an obscene 857 in 2018, and 846 in 2019, to 697 last year.

So says Outside Magazine, which tracked every bike rider killed in the US last year, much like I’ve been tracking Southern California bicycling deaths for the last decade.

Or rather, all the deaths they’re aware of; there are undoubtedly more that never crossed their radar, for whatever reason.

Of those, slightly more than 80% were men, and over a quarter of the victims were killed in hit-and-runs.

No surprise on either count. Especially not the latter, which tracks very closely with what we’ve seen here in Southern California.

And sadly, no surprise that far too many of those deaths occurred here in California.

Louisiana, New York, California, Florida, and Texas were the five deadliest states for cyclists in terms of total fatalities. The latter three have been the most deadly states for cyclists for years, and New York’s fatalities have been on the rise as well—in 2019, it reported 46 cyclist deaths, with 29 in New York City alone. While these three states are also the most populous in the country, Florida and California have among the most cycling deaths per million people, as well. And Louisiana recorded 7.3 cycling deaths per million people, the most of any state. Louisiana’s total fatal crash numbers have remained in the twenties and thirties for the past five years, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

No surprise that those deaths may have been driven in part by last year’s bike boom, either.

Though it’s too early to be certain, the cycling boom that took place after the COVID-19 lockdown orders may have contributed to the summer death rate. From January through November, $4.9 billion worth of bikes were sold in the U.S., according to the NPD Group. In Los Angeles and Houston alone, Strava found approximately a 100 percent increase in cycling trips in both cities in May 2020 compared to May 2019. More cyclists on the road seemed to correlate with more people on bikes being killed by drivers.

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Harrison Ford is one of us, as the once and future Indiana Jones star has a bike rack installed on his car for his new bicycle at the Santa Monica Helen’s.

New Bollywood sensation — and former porn star — Sunny Leone is one us, too, riding bikes with her husband and kids in Los Angeles before returning to India.

And new mother Katie Perry is still one of us, as is her fiancee Orlando Bloom, as they ride together in Santa Barbara.

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Consider this your periodic reminder that Bike Index works.

And it’s free. So what the hell are you waiting for?

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Mountain biking though a NorCal burn zone.

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Think you’ve got mountain bike skills? Trying riding downhill on a kid’s bike.

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GCN considers how to get your confidence back after a crash.

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

Just days after a Portland driver killed one woman and injured at least ten others in a 15-block rampage, another driver intentionally ran down a delivery rider; fortunately, this victim was able to bounce back up.

You’ve got to be kidding. Life is cheap in the UK, where a road raging driver was fined the equivalent of a lousy $549 for a fist-shaking punishment pass that caused a 68-year old man to fall off his bike, suffering life-changing injuries. But hey, at least he won’t be able to drive for a whole six months.

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

Santa Cruz police are looking for a bike-riding man who allegedly battered a motorist in an unprovoked attack. Although something tells me that unprovoked attack wasn’t.

A Dublin, Ireland bike rider suffered a severely lacerated face when a delivery rider cut him off, forcing him into a glass bus shelter.

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Local

Noticing the explosive growth in ebike usage during the pandemic, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach respond by cracking down on scofflaw ebike riders who are apparently terrorizing the local populace, on and off the beachfront Strand. Thanks to Margaret for the heads-up.

You only have until 3 pm today to urge Culver City to approve new bus and bike lanes, over the objections of local traffic NIMBYs.

 

State

Streetsblog talks with new California Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman, including about her efforts to allow local communities to lower speed limits.

A kindhearted Santa Ana cop gives a pair of bike helmets to two young boys after they stopped her to ask if they had to wear one; she correctly noted that California law requires bike helmets for any bike riders under 18.

Carlsbad police busted a suspected drunken hit-and-run driver who ran down a bike-riding woman from Arizona; at last report, the 65-year old woman was unconscious with serious injuries.

San Diego County officials cut the ribbon on a new three-mile segment of North County’s Inland Rail Trail; the new segment means ten miles of the planned 21-mile trail is ready to ride.

Sad news from San Jose, where a man was killed when a wrong way driver slammed into his bicycle, then drove off like the murderous coward he or she is.

A new plan promises to remake San Jose’s Eastside into a more welcoming place for bike riders and pedestrians, while reducing the need for cars. Sadly, it comes too late for the victim above.

San Francisco bike shops say if you’re in the market for a new bike, you’ve got a long wait.

 

National

An engineering website examines the aerodynamics of bicycling to keep riding from being a drag.

Pink Bike wonders when, if ever, mountain bikes will be allowed in US wilderness areas.

A writer for Bicycling explains how he finally went carfree after he job went remote during the pandemic. As usual, you can read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you.

An American Sign Language professor at an Arizona college has turned his daily bike ride into a fundraising campaign for his students.

He gets it. A Salt Lake City columnist says bike riders have a right to be safe in traffic. And that’s why he supports a bill that would legalize the Idaho Stop in Utah, even if people on bicycles will still have to be alert, because too many drivers aren’t.

The full route has been released for this year’s RAGBRAI bike ride through Iowa, after last year’s ride was cancelled due to the pandemic.

A Missouri couple decide to open a bike shop. And then figures, why not sell pizza, too? Toss in some decent craft beer, and I’m all in.

A Rhode Island letter writer pleads with drivers to stop giving bicyclists the “wave of death.”

Yes, please. New Haven, Connecticut officials are pushing the state legislature to approve a bill that would allow automated traffic cams to enforce speed limits and crosswalks.

Frank Sinatra’s hometown of Hoboken NJ will add protected bike lanes to the singer’s eponymous street.

A retired Maryland man spent the pandemic providing free bike repair services for the local community; he’s fixed over 650 bicycles since last April.

No bias here. Florida cops fall over themselves to absolve a killer hit-and-run driver of responsibility, saying he knew he hit something, but didn’t know it was a person on a bicycle. Because apparently, it’s just too much to expect someone to get out of his car to see what the hell he hit hard enough to cause front end damage.

 

International

Cycling Weekly looks at the clothes you’ll need to get through the coldest, wettest days on your bike. Or you could just do like most Angelenos, and stay home any day there’s a sprinkle or the temperature dips much below 70°.

Eight bicyclist-inspired songs for your bicycle playlist.

An entrepreneurial 13-year old girl in Edmonton, Canada turned her pandemic baking into a business, delivering fresh loves to customers by bike every weekend.

London’s popup bike lanes and Low Traffic Neighborhoods could be in jeopardy, after a judge rules that they could adversely affect disadvantaged groups, such as the elderly. Because apparently, older people don’t ride bikes. Or walk, for that matter.

They may have a point. A London paper questions whether a 300-foot bike lane in an English town is the country’s stupidest bike lane; the street with the contraflow bike lane — aka wrong way — is so narrow that even small vans don’t fit in the traffic lane and have to extend into the bike lane.

More on the British man who responded to the death of his brother and a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer by riding from the UK to Beijing on a tandem, sharing the other seat with people he met along the way.

I want to be like him when I grow up. After getting tired of people laughing at him, an 83-year old Pakistani man rode his bike over 1,100 miles to prove age is just a number; he’s been riding since buying his first bicycle 66 years ago.

An enterprising 15-year old Indian boy is too young to legally ride a Vespa-style scooter, so he turned his bicycle into one.

After her politician father was arrested on what she insists are trumped-up charges, an Indian teen refused to accept a free bicycle from a government-run program in protest.

A quick-thinking Indian bus driver is credited with saving the lives of two little boys after they fell off their bikes into the path of the bus.

Apparently, they take driving in a protected bike lane seriously in Qatar, as a driver has his car seized on the spot.

Here’s another one for your bike bucket list — a biking tour of old Taipei.

A Wellington, New Zealand bike rider says the city needs a lot more than just bike lanes.

 

Competitive Cycling

Fortune favored the Dutch in this year’s cyclocross worlds, as 31-year old Lucinda Brand and 26-year old Mathieu Van der Poel took the women’s and men’s elite titles. Riders from the Netherlands took four of the top five places in the women’s race, and two of the top five on the men’s side; the only American to finish in the top five in either race was Clara Honsinger, who placed 4th in the women’s race.

The New York Times examines how the horrific crash that nearly took the life of Dutch cyclist Dylan Groenewegen at the Tour of Poland has increased pressure on the sport’s governing body to make much needed changes to protect the riders in the peloton.

 

Finally…

Remember, kids, always pickle your bike lanes before a storm. Your next car could be an ebike. Or maybe the other way around.

And your long, dark wait for LEGO bike lanes is over.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a damn mask, already. 

Morning Links: Close encounter with a sidewalk cyclist, football players ride among us, and some bikes used for evil

My wife got hit by a bike rider yesterday.

We were walking back from brunch on a Sunset Blvd sidewalk, when we heard a bike bell from behind.

I quickly moved off to the side with our dog. But before my wife could figure out just where the rider was and which way to go, he zoomed past, brushing against her as he blew by.

And never looked back to see if she was okay.

Fortunately, she kept her balance and wasn’t hurt; it could have been much worse.

This is why I’m not a fan of bike bells. They tell you a bike is present, but the listener has to figure out first where the sound is coming from, and then what to do in response.

Make that mental calculation too slowly with the wrong rider, and you could end up on your ass.

Meanwhile, every bicyclist is equipped with a simple, yet effective means of letting people know where you are and what you intend to do.

Your voice.

It’s easy enough to politely say “excuse me,” and tell them you’re passing on their left or right. Politely being the key word.

Which brings up the question of courtesy, which is where this rider failed badly.

While he did the right thing by ringing his bell, he should have slowed down and waited for us to get out of the way. With the understanding that moving out of the way is a courtesy, not an obligation.

Sidewalks may be shared turf in LA, where riding on the sidewalk is legal, unlike many other cities in the area. But people on bikes have an obligation to ride safely and courteously around pedestrians, leaving plenty of room for the people on foot.

In other words, show the same courtesy to pedestrians you’d want drivers to show you on the street.

Another inch or two, and my wife could have been hurt badly. And we’d likely be looking for a hit-and-run cyclist, instead of just complaining about some jerk on a bike.

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A key member of the newly minted Super Bowl champs is one of us, even though he had to sit out the game. So is former Pro Bowl tight end and San Diego resident Kellen Winslow II.

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Bikes aren’t always used for good.

Bike-riding, mask-wearing German extremists torched or trashed 48 luxury cars to protest gentrification in Berlin.

And a suicide bomber on a bicycle killed eight people in Pakistan.

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Local

A pair of community groups help beautify a stretch of Jefferson Blvd near USC before bike lanes will be painted on the street in the coming weeks.

Pasadena proposes a road diet, wider sidewalks, parklets and reverse angled parking, but no bike lanes, on a stretch of Colorado Blvd east of Old Town.

The San Gabriel Valley Bicycle Education Center operated by Bike SGV has new extended hours.

 

State

A non-profit group is building a home for a San Diego Marine vet who lost his legs in Afghanistan, just months after he rode 3,000 miles across the US to raise funds to support wounded Marines and their families.

A century ride through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego had 26 volunteers this year. And just three participants. Correction: There were actually 225 riders who rolled across the start line. Blame a misleading lede, cut off too soon by a paywall. Thanks to Bill Clare for the correction. 

Fontana receives $3 million for a north-south bike and pedestrian trail due to be completed in 2018.

Sad news from Santa Barbara, as a long-time advocate for the homeless was killed in an apparent solo fall, possibly brought on by a stroke; tragically, he had purchased the bike just hours before.

In a twist on the usual complaints from business owners about the loss of car traffic, merchants on a San Francisco street are urging the city to make a ban on cars permanent.

The beloved founder of a one-man Sacramento bicycle food delivery service is battling leukemia; local restaurants are stepping up to raise funds for his medical expenses.

 

National

The author who outed Lance says motor doping could spell the end of pro cycling.

Utah is making a successful effort to get federal funds for bicycling enhancements; Idaho, not so much. Speaking of Utah, a bike builder builds a new business model by offering their own customized bikes over the Internet for up to 40% less than comparable bikes.

A Minnesota woman finished third in a frozen fat-tire endurance race — despite pausing to breast feed at each stop.

New York considers letting bicyclists join pedestrians in getting a head start over motor vehicles at some key intersections.

Uber is taking over Gotham’s bike messenger business, accused of undercutting traditional courier services by not paying worker’s comp for its riders.

Opponents to a proposed DC bike lane say it’s an attempt to run black churches out of town, and tell bike riders to take their “pastime” to a park.

The Daily Mail reports BMX legend Dave Mirra was making plans for the future before he took his own life; the mayor of his North Carolina hometown suggests multiple brain injuries may have led to his depression.

 

International

A newly minted Newfoundland roadie discovers the joy of winter fat bike riding.

Bike Radar talks with the developer of the Laserlight that projects an image of a bicycle on the pavement in front of your bike.

Nice piece from a former London bike courier, who appreciates the boom in bicycling but misses having the streets to herself.

Evidently, British royalty-in-law Pippa Middleton is one hell of a cyclist if she can complete a 54-mile bike ride “in a matter of minutes.”

A Brit writer relives his childhood by teaching his six-year old son to ride a bike, with both calling it the best day of their lives.

No, really. A Pakistani paper says keep riding because it makes your skin glow. So does riding through a nuclear plant.

Aussie merchants lament the effects construction of a new protected bikeway on their business, as well as the switch from diagonal to parallel parking.

 

Finally…

If you’re planning to steal a quarter ton of beef, always send a kid on a bike to scope it out first. When you’re riding with dope and a stolen Miley Cyrus sex doll in your backpack, remember to ride with traffic.

And evidently, things get boring when you’re driving a cab.

 

L.A. cyclists busted in BUI, anti-bike backlash spreads

Everyone knows it’s against the law to drink and drive.

Well, you do, right?

But here in California, it’s also illegal to bike under the influence.

A group of cyclists in Baldwin Hills learned that the hard way last night, when CHP officers were called to the scene after one struck the center divider while riding the wrong way on La Cienega Blvd. According to the Times, five of the fifteen riders were arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

While the Times suggests that riders are subject to the same 0.08 BAC that drivers are, no specific alcohol level is included in the statute, so riders could conceivably be charged at an even lower level than drivers. And while the fine is a relatively affordable $250, a conviction could affect your drivers license even though you weren’t operating a motor vehicle at the time.

Although personally, if someone is going to be on the road after imbibing, I’d much rather see ‘em on a bike than behind the wheel.

And as an aside to the Times, may I politely enquire what the hell helmet use has to do with a) riding while drunk, or b) whether the riders were able to be seen after dark?

Riding sans skid lid may or may not reflect bad judgment, depending on your perspective.

But it has absolutely nothing to do with this story.

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Having evidently solved all the illegal and dangerous behavior by motorists, who have far more potential to kill or injure others, police in Australia and New York City have turned their attention to scofflaw cyclists.

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t have any problem with ticketing cyclists who break the law, any more than I do anyone else on the streets. My problem comes when cyclists are singled out for enforcement, rather than enforcing the law equally against all illegal behavior.

And if there is going to be any bias in enforcement, shouldn’t it be directed at the operators of the vehicles responsible for over 30,000 deaths each year?

Scofflaw cyclists may annoy the hell out of other people. And they may give the cycling community a black eye, and encourage the anti-bike backlash the flares up with frequent regularity throughout the country.

But to the best of my knowledge, even the worst cyclists still pose a greater risk to themselves than to anyone else.

That doesn’t stop the anti-bike comments online or in the media, though. Not to mention the ill advised knee-jerk reaction to register and license bikes, or a bill that would prohibit reckless cycling in Virginia — a law that just begs for abuse as it leaves it up to individual officers, who are often ill-informed as to bike law, rights and safety, to determine just what is reckless.

Like riding in the traffic lane, maybe.

Then there’s the attempt by an Oregon legislator to ban carrying a child on a bike or in a bike trailer — this even though 630 people were killed in the entire U.S. while riding bikes in 2009, compared to over 10 times as many motor vehicle passengers.

Maybe it would make more sense to ban carrying a child in a car or SUV.

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The LACBC’s new Bike Wrangler program will collect and recondition unwanted bikes, which will be distributed in low-income, high-obesity areas; Good examines the Bike Coalition’s efforts to reach out to the city’s invisible cyclists. The new L.A. River Bike Path extension is nice, but it could use a little direction; Lisa Newton points out that the historic De Anza Trail runs along its path. LADOT unveils some interesting ideas in their Call for Projects application. Todd Munson relates the ugly side of sharing the road, as well as the good. Gary gets harassed by an armored car driver and does something about it. Jessica Alba takes her daughter bike shopping in Santa Monica; it’s hard to read, but that looks like that could be a Helen’s tag. A court date is scheduled for the deaf hit-and-run driver accused of killing cyclist Patrick Szymanski in La Quinta last month.

An apparently highly-flawed study suggests that cell phone users may actually be safer drivers; problem is, it focused on a time when most people aren’t driving. A Coronado bike thief gets a well-deserved year in jail. The mayor of Del Mar calls on drivers and cyclists to sharrow the road during a bridge retrofit. A San Louis Obispo cyclist is in critical condition after inexplicably turning in front of a big rig truck. San Fran times stop lights to keep cyclists moving. A San Francisco Chronicle writer revisits his old paper route on video. Santa Cruz rejects a second claim for injuries at a single intersection, with a third cyclist’s claim waiting in the wings. A lifelong bike commuter tells her story.

While we’ve finally got more typical L.A winter weather, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters still struggling to ride in the south and east. Evidently, among the other promises Obama has kept are the ones he made about bike and pedestrian projects. The next long distance cycling route will aim to recreate the original Route 66; link courtesy of Lloyd Lemons. EcoCycle provides underground bike parking. The solution to placing bike paths in high-water areas could be floating bikeways. Bike-friendly Boulder CO gets a B-Cycle bike share program. A proposed bill would ban bike bans in Colorado cities. Bike lawyer Steve Magas reports on three upcoming criminal trials for drivers charged with killing cyclists. New York’s uber-popular Magnolia Bakery turns a bike lane into a parking lot; thanks to @BicycleFixation for the link.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s through biking ability. Strategies to avoid a bike infrastructure backlash. Don’t fight a losing battle for bike safety, sell it in terms of protecting children. London’s new bike superhighways result in a 70% increase in bike traffic. Irish courts award £10,000 to a child frightened when a bike fell in front of her in a Dublin toyshop. Lance leads the effort to fight back against Aussie flooding. Separated bikeways and handicap bike parking in Shanghai. A new bike share program kicks off in Haikou.

Finally, a cyclist survives an attack by unleashed killer dachsunds. And no matter how hardcore you think you are, you’re not a real cyclist until you pedal yourself to the hospital to give birth.

Now that takes balls. Or not.

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