LAPD seeks information on yet another hit-and-run last Friday

April 21, 2010

Somehow, this one went under the radar last week.

According to a post on the LAPD blog this morning, a cyclist is in serious condition after being struck by an object on a passing truck while riding on Oxnard St. just west of Los Angeles Valley College in the Valley Glen area.

On April 16, 2010, at around 12:17 p.m., a 43-year-old man was riding his bicycle in the cemented portion of the lane, closest to the curb, westbound Oxnard Street just west of Fulton Ave.  Witnesses described the hit and run only as a truck, driven by a male Caucasian.  The truck was traveling westbound on Oxnard Street attempting to pass the bicyclist.  Witnesses state that a metal object attached to the truck possibly struck the bicyclist.  The driver left the scene failing to render aid and exchange information as required by law.

The 43-year-old man was transported to a local hospital with severe injuries and he is listed in serious condition.  There is no further description on the truck.

Anyone with information is asked to call Valley Traffic Division, Detective Jackson at 818 644-8020 or 818 644-8028, during normal business hours.  During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 877-LAPD-24-7.  Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).  Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

Reading between the lines, the driver may or may not be aware he hit someone; however, he is still liable for the injuries caused by his failure to properly secure his load and pass safely.


Today’s post, in which I rant about a misguided carhead Council Member

April 20, 2010

City Hall as seen from the entrance to Chinatown.

I expect this sort of willful ignorance from the comment section of the Times.

I don’t expect it from the people who have been elected to lead this city.

Admittedly, I didn’t attend Monday’s joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Budget & Finance committees to discuss a 10% set-aside for bike and pedestrian projects — 5% each — from the local-return portion of Measure R funds.

And since the local news no longer covers local news — even three days later, no one has bothered to report who it was that got killed in Saturday night’s Carson hit-and-run — I’m relying strictly on Damien Newton’s as-always excellent reporting on Streetsblog.

But I went through the ceiling this afternoon when I read his report on yesterday’s meeting. And several hours later, my blood is still boiling.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my stand on any given issue. My philosophy has always been to make my case as clearly as possible, and trust others to make their decisions based on their own best judgment and analysis of the testimony presented.

So while I disagree — strongly — with Council Member and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks that setting aside a specific portion of Measure R funding might deny funding for more deserving projects, I can respect it.

Even though I think his suggestion to commit “up to 10%” of the funding to bike and pedestrian projects couldn’t be more wrong, since it would cap funding, rather than setting aside a single penny.

The one I really had a problem with was Council Member Greig Smith.

As Damien described it,

Following Parks, Valley Councilman Greig Smith put on a private clinic on how little he knows about transportation funding in the city.  After agreeing with Parks’ position, Smith pushed for someone to tell him what percent of residents are cyclists.  Of course, there’s no bike counts being done by the city.  Smith also didn’t seem to understand that a lot of people are cyclists even if they don’t use their bike every day or even every week.  After the city couldn’t answer his question with anything more than a guess, Smith declared that it was “a lot less than 10%.”  I guess the Councilman has done his own bike counts and is just keeping the numbers secret from the rest of us? Thus the city shouldn’t set aside “10% for this group.”

So let me get this straight.

Rather than doing a modicum of research to determine a rough estimate of the number of cyclists — a simple internet search would have lead him to the US Department of Transportation’s estimate that 27.3% of Americans over 16 ride bikes — he made up his own number, based on his own evidently extremely limited experience, to conclude that the number was “a lot less than 10%.”

Never mind that the DOT’s figures were based on 2002 numbers, so they don’t reflect the recent boom in the popularity of bikes — let alone L.A.’s mostly flat terrain and year-round riding weather — that should boost that total significantly. Or that even conservative estimates suggest that 15% to 17% of adults ride a bike in a given month.

Then there’s the fact that building bike infrastructure usually results in an increase in ridership, like the recently installed bike lane in New Orleans that boosted ridership among male cyclists 44% for men and 133% for women.

But Smith seems to think he knows something the statisticians don’t.

Then again, he did turn to city officials — presumably  LADOT — for an answer. However, most of us can attest that’s exactly the wrong place to turn for information, since, despite their recent attempts at better communication with the cycling community, LADOT clearly seems to believe that the T in their name refers to automotive throughput at the expense of any other form of transportation.

So here’s a suggestion.

As others have noted, it’s long past time that this city stopped relying on misguided guesswork and conducted an accurate count of cyclists and pedestrians in this city. And quite frankly, LADOT should be embarrassed that the LACBC has to do their damn job for them.

Meanwhile, if you’re not a member of the LACBC, it’s time you became one so your voice will be represented before the council and other government bodies.

And while you’re at it, sign up for the new League of Bicycling Voters LA so that our next class of council members might enter office with a little more knowledge of, and support for, bicycling than many of our current officials.

And Council Member Smith, the next time you need information about bikes, call me.

Seriously.

Have your aides email me, and I’ll give them my number. And I promise to drop everything to track down the data you need.

Because frankly, it will be a lot better for everyone if you don’t try to make these things up.

………

C.I.C.L.E. sponsors a presentation on Creating Great Places to Ride on Wednesday the 21st at Caltech; food and drinks will be provided.

………

In today’s jurisprudence report, a cyclist is sentenced for criminal threatening in Portsmouth, NH after wielding a large rock in an attempt to apprehend a road raging driver. Meanwhile, the Critical Mass cyclist-shoving cop goes on trial in NY; the victim admits to taunting the officer after being knocked to the ground — and confesses to being a bad driver.

………

Will coins a new term we can all relate to. Mickey Wally reminds us that the 2nd Bike Day LA is scheduled for May 2nd. More on the police crackdown that nabbed three bike theft suspects with another at large; however, someone needs to teach them how to use a calendar. The President of the League of American Bicyclists visits Long Beach to see what a bike-friendly SoCal city looks like; note that he did not visit semi-bike-friendly Santa Monica. An 18-year old cyclist injured in a Costa Mesa collision last year says the traffic signal didn’t give her enough time to cross the intersection.

The hit-and-run epidemic claims yet another life, as a New York cyclist is taken off life support. Bike sharing kicks off in Denver on Thursday. Tucson celebrates a successful ciclovia. New Orleans’ Gentilly Blvd gets a road diet with enhanced bike lanes. Making Portland cycling less white and middle class; and while we’re on the subject, what’s with the negativity towards bike racers these days?  Walmart sells out of their $150 fixie — which isn’t that bad, but isn’t that great, either. Interesting insights on the challenges of representing a competitive cyclist in a personal injury case. An 83-year old Seattle-area woman is critically injured after stepping in front of two passing cyclists. NJ cyclists required to use transit off-peak will see a 64% rate increase; maybe transit should be planned with bikeability in mind. What does it mean when you see a trail of bike parts along the bike path? Missouri moves forward with Complete Streets and Safe Passing legislation. A Portland woman tries to collect 400 used bikes this weekend to send to South Africa.

Global warming means sea levels will rise, so why not floating bikes? London Cyclist lists the top 50 cycling blogs. A tougher, but Lance-free, route for this year’s Tour of Britain. The University of Edinburgh says Lance is the second-happiest tweeter; former Laker Shaq clocks in at number one. Just three weeks into a three year, round-the-world tour, a cyclist is knocked of the road by a British driver. Can you complain about drivers encroaching in the bike lane when the car lane isn’t even wide enough for a Smart Car? Five years for a “sickening” attack on a cyclist that left him permanently brain damaged. New Zealand cyclists complain about cow crap on the bike path; city officials say go home and wash it off.

Finally, Creek Freak and all-around bike, civic and environmental activist Joe Linton receives some well-deserved recognition from the County Board of Supervisors.


Can someone just get this bird laid, already?

April 19, 2010

I’m not a bird person.

I suppose I enjoy waking to birds singing and seeing some cute little fellow alight on the balcony about as much as anyone, I suppose.

But it’s not like I’m going to grab the binoculars and field guide if I spot a strange puff of feathers in the tree across the way. And as far as I’m concerned, those pigeons people feed are just rats with beaks and wings.

So it’s odd that some of my most vivid memories of riding involve birds.

Take the time I got dropped by a couple of roadrunners who darted past my wheel like sprint specialists fighting for a stage win. Or the time I watched a flock of San Diego parrots burst into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors as they took flight.

I’ve seen a hawk silently dive bomb into an unsuspecting rabbit, while riding through the grasslands of eastern Colorado. And once even felt the wingtip of an eagle brush my shoulder as it swooped down to snatch a snake curled just feet from my wheel.

And if that doesn’t get your heart pounding, you might as well just lie down and close your eyes. Because you may be dead already and just don’t know it yet.

Then there’s the ones that I heard more than saw.

Like the eerie call of a lonely owl across a mountain moraine or the staccato jackhammer of a woodpecker in a Louisiana swamp. The lovely lilting melody of a meadowlark rising from a fencerow along a high country highway.

Or that of a bobolink, whose distinctive call sounds much like its name, rising on the last syllable.

Not one of these, despite what it sounded like. Photo: Wikipedia

I could sometimes imitate it well enough to get a response as I rode; although I suspect, like a foreign tourist who attempts a few words in the local language, they weren’t so much fooled as simply appreciated the effort.

Still, it’s a sound I know almost as well as the sound of my own name.

So when I heard that distinctive call outside my window the other day, there was one thing I knew for certain.

It wasn’t a bobolink.

I hadn’t heard that call in the two-plus decades I’ve lived in Southern California. And to the best of my knowledge, the bird’s range doesn’t extend much west of Utah.

On the other hand, hearing it gave me a clue to just what had been singing loudly enough outside our window to keep my wife awake at night for the past few weeks — and annoy the hell out of her during the day.

So I followed my hunch with quick search online, and sure enough, found the following on Wikipedia:

Mockingbirds’ willingness to nest near houses, their loud and frequent songs, and their territorial defense often annoy people… Mockingbirds are often found in urban and suburban areas, where they perch on telephone poles, streetlights, or high points on buildings.

This photo will have to do, since he seems to be a little camera shy. Photo: Wikipedia

A simple look outside confirmed the presence of a little grey bird, very much like the one in the picture, atop the TV antenna on the building next door.

Game, set, match.

Verdict: mockingbird.

A little more research revealed that those loud calls that were driving my wife up the wall were an attempt to attract a mate, and that he should quiet down once he finds one.

So what we’re dealing with here is just another horny guy disturbing everyone around him in a vain attempt to get laid.

And what man among us couldn’t relate to that?

So if you happen to know a cute, single female mockingbird, let me know. I don’t mind a little bird pimping if it will shut him up and let my wife get some sleep.

Besides, this isn’t the first mockingbird we’ve had around here.

And I’d really like to calm this one down before he learns to imitate a car alarm.

………

Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles hosts a lecture on Surviving Multi-Day Cycling Events on Wednesday; their Spring Sale starts the next day.  A local lawyer offers advice on what to do if you’re doored; as often as it happens, you might want to bookmark it. Downtown sees a rise in bike thefts — and arrests. Less than 10 days after the tragic death of their teammate, the Bahati Foundation team competes in the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston. The path to better biking runs down the road, not through spin class. Set aside your “me first” culture, drive slower and watch for bicyclists. Colorado’s bike-riding Governor is back on the saddle six weeks after breaking six ribs, and a look at ghost bikes in the Centennial State. Salt Lake’s mayor has his bike stolen across the street from the Utah Bike Summit. A Florida cyclist is severely injured in a collision with a police car; police say the rider turned into the path of their vehicle, and who’s going to argue? A pair of DC-area PSAs say don’t cut of the bike and look before opening your door. The CBS Early Show discovers bikes. Why do salmon cyclists insist on riding against traffic? Advice on buying your first bike. A New Zealand cyclist is killed after colliding with a runaway labradoodle; reports suggest the dog will be fine. Auckland cyclists are tough; unfortunately, the roads are tougher. An economist explains why cyclists shouldn’t have to pay to ride. Six thousand miles in eight months come to a fatal end for a British woman in Australia. A British man goes out for a bike ride and comes home without his bike, backpack, cash or memory.

Finally, fallout from the fallout from the Icelandic volcano keeps top European pros at home; but for once, a bike offers a benefit in the non-biking world as stranded travelers have to buy one — and ride it — to get the last cyclist-only tickets home. And one of the world’s most popular bike blogger considers renting a bike to ride home to Copenhagen.


Update — Carson cyclist killed in alleged drunken hit-and-run

April 18, 2010

A cyclist is dead, a driver faces a drunk driving murder charge.

The news finally broke this morning that the cyclist critically injured in a hit-and-run collision in Carson has died, and the driver has been arrested.

According to KCBS Channel 2, 40-year old William Keith Square was driving north on Santa Fe Blvd when he struck a cyclist at East 218th Place in Carson about 9:05 last night.

The Times reports that the victim, so far identified only as an adult man from Long Beach, was riding north on Santa Fe when he was struck, and was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. A bystander wrote down the license number of the dark-colored SUV as the driver fled the scene, leading to Square’s arrest at his home in Long Beach.

Square is being held at the Carson Sheriff’s station on charges of gross vehicular homicide while intoxicated.


Breaking news — cyclist critically injured in Carson hit-and-run

April 17, 2010

It’s happened again.

According to KABC Channel 7, a cyclist suffered critical injuries in a collision with an SUV on Santa Fe Avenue in Carson Saturday night, after which the driver fled the scene.

More information as it becomes available.


Your weekend reading list

April 17, 2010

The hit-and-run driver who left Roadblock lying injured in the street pleads no contest and receives a slap on the wrist —  and gets to keep his license. After years of reports that the LAPD didn’t take bike thefts seriously, things have clearly changed. Bikeside puts out a call for cyclists to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council. Cosmo — the Cycle Chic, not the magazine — wants to know if any Moms out there would be interested in a daytime Mama ride with kids; maybe they should read these safety tips for cycling kids and teens first. A Riverside writer has a pleasant experience cycling in San Francisco; boarding the train was another matter. Streetfilms takes a look at Long Beach. If you want to stop smartphone users from texting while driving, there’s an app for that; can we install it on every phone? Please?

Turns out a center divider on a narrow street actually encourages drivers to go faster. Tucson’s first cyclovia rolls this Sunday; ours is scheduled for this September. A Missouri lawyer publishes a book about how not to screw up your accident claim. Seventy wounded Iraq and Afghanistan vets will take part in a 110 mile ride to Gettysburg this month. Brooklyn cyclists call for a new bike lane after an 18-year old cyclist is killed on Flatbush Avenue. An Oregon parish creates the Episcopal Church’s first two-wheeled liturgy. Following a fatality, an Austin store owner says Please Be Kind to Cyclists.

Yet another cycling fatality in London, as a female rider is killed by a bus on Oxford Street, where other riders had predicted that would happen. A UK writer learns about police bike training from the inside, and why some apparent violations get enforced while others don’t. Town Mouse takes a friend for her first ride on a borrowed bicycle, and laments all those forgotten bikes yearning to breathe free. An open letter to Toronto candidates urging Complete Streets for all road users. A new website helps you find the perfect international bike tour.

Finally, a Danish cyclist teaches a busload of Dutch tourists and their driver not to park in the bike lane. Which reminds me of a story


Mark your calendar for Oct. 23 when the Tour de Fat visits L.A. for the first time

April 16, 2010

I don’t do press releases.

Not that I don’t get a lot of them these days. I seem to find them popping up in my inbox with surprising regularity these days.

But for the most part, it’s just a missive from some corporate hack trying to get me to shill a new MP3 player or New York travel, or some other thing that’s only tangentially related to bikes. And even on the rare occasion when it is actually bike related, it’s usually just an attempt to get a little free advertising.

Today, I’m going to make an exception, if only in hopes that they may reward me with a few bottles of my favorite beer, which just happens to come from my hometown — although this one runs a close second.

On the other hand, it’s also for a good cause.

The Tour de Fat has been rolling across the U.S. for 11 years now. Now finally, the nation’s biggest and best roving bike fest is coming to the nation’s second largest city, which often treats its cyclists like #2, as well.

From all reports, it’s a great time. And it will help promote cycling in the city at a time when we desperately need promoting, while contributing to the coffers of local non-profit bike organizations.

And one lucky Angeleno will get free bike in exchange for promising to live car-free for the next year.

So herewith is the full shill, fresh from my inbox.

New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat Spins into 13 Cities this Season

Come ride, dance and experience the ultimate freedom: trading your car for a bike!

Ft. Collins, CO, April 15, 2010 – Clip a card in your spokes and fluff the rainbow wig …Tour de Fat is back for its 11th season! New Belgium Brewing’s traveling celebration of all things bicycle rolls through 13 cities this year, raising money and sharing bike love. At each Tour de Fat stop, one person will help honor mankind’s greatest invention, the bicycle, by handing over their car keys and committing to a year of car-free living.

For the fourth year in a row, Tour de Fat is looking for volunteers to accept the swapper challenge. One volunteer in each city will give up their car and receive a hand-built Black Sheep (http://www.blacksheepbikes.com/) commuter bike. The volunteer is chosen after submitting a video or essay describing their desire to live sans-car for a year.  To submit an application, log on to http://www.newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat.

“The car-for-bike swap is the pinnacle of the day, illustrating one person’s true belief in all that a bicycle can offer,” said Bryan Simpson, spokesman for New Belgium. “Bikes represent freedom, fun, fitness and folly while helping the environment. It’s a way of life that we live and share at New Belgium.”

Tour de Fat kicks off in Chicago on June 26 and wraps up in Austin on October 30, with first-year debuts in two cities, Milwaukee and Los Angeles. The tour originated in Ft. Collins, Colorado to increase awareness and participation in cycling as a sustainable form of transportation.  Since then, it has become a rite of passage celebrated by bike enthusiasts of all skill levels across the land.

Why Tour de Fat is a Must-Attend Event:

  • Tour de Fat encourages everyone to embrace their inner-cyclist and ride the streets as a cohesive carnival of creativity. Each show begins with a costumed bike parade that stops traffic and turns heads along the way.  (Costumes are highlyencouraged!)
  • Tour de Fat seeks to leave as small an environmental imprint as possible and composts and recycles waste from each tour stop.  The waste diversion rate for 2009 was 94 percent.
  • Tour de Fat is free to participants, but beer and merchandise proceeds go to local cycling non-profits. So far, Tour de Fat events have raised more than $1.25 million for philanthropy.
  • All musical acts perform on a solar-powered stage with decorations made from recycled materials, trucks and transport use biofuel sourced from recycled waste oils, and all vendors operate off the grid.
  • This is a pro-bike celebration, not an anti-car rally…non-cyclists are more than welcome to join the festivities.

See http://www.newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat for the Tour de Fat credo, schedules, videos and to submit your entry to swap your gas guzzler for a shiny new bicycle.  Also visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Belgium-Tour-de-Fat/10150099069050417?ref=ts.

Tour de Fat 2010 will cycle through each of the following cities:

June 26 – Chicago, Palmer Square Park

July 3 – Milwaukee, Humboldt Park

July 10 – Minneapolis, Loring Park

July 31 – Seattle, Gasworks Park

August 14 – Portland, Waterfront Park

August 21 – Boise, Anne Morrison Park

September 4 – Fort Collins, Mothership

September 11 – Denver, City Park

September 25 – San Francisco, Lindley Meadows in Golden Gate Park

October 2 – San Diego, Balboa Park

October 9 – Tempe, Tempe Town Park

October 23 – Los Angeles, L.A. Historic Park

October 30 – Austin, Fiesta Gardens

About New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces eight year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Ranger IPA, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Mothership Wit and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases.  In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship.  For more information, visit http://www.newbelgium.com.


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