A call for tougher hit-and-run laws; cycling legend Gino Bartali hid family from Nazis during WWII

December 30, 2010

Tuesday night, yet another person was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver — this time, a pedestrian in Playa del Rey.

Just the latest in a long, long list of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as others, killed by cowards who lack the basic human decency to stop and render aid as required by law.

Let alone just see if their victim is still alive.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado law actually makes it wiser for drivers who’ve been drinking to flee the scene, rather than risk a higher penalty for drunk driving; chances are, they’ll sober up before the police ever track them down.

I’ve long argued exactly the same point holds true right here in the late great formerly Golden State.

That’s because California’s stiff penalties for drunk driving far outweigh the relatively light penalties for hit-and-run. Many drivers don’t even lose their license after leaving an injured motorist, pedestrian or cyclist lying in their wake; something Bikeside has tried to address with their Life Before License campaign.

Personally, I think LB4L is a good start.

I just don’t think it goes far enough.

What we need is law that makes license revocation an administrative process, rather than judicial, so that hit-and-run drivers will lose their licenses regardless of whether or not they’re convicted. And make it automatic, so that the license is permanently revoked — not suspended — as soon as it’s shown that a driver has the scene of a collision. By leaving the scene, their actions have already proven they’re unfit to be behind the wheel.

Then make them go before a judge for permission to apply for a provisional license — and only after any sentence has been served.

But as we’ve seen, the lack of a license isn’t always enough to stop some people from getting behind the wheel.

As a result, any car used in a hit-and-run should be impounded as soon as an arrest is made. Then if the driver is convicted, the car should be seized by the state and sold, with the proceeds used to compensate the victim.

After all, it’s been used to in the actual commission of a crime.

Robbers and murderers aren’t allowed to keep their guns after they’re convicted; a car used in a hit-and-run shouldn’t be treated any differently. And California law already permits the seizure of any vehicles used for drug crimes or to solicit prostitution.

Isn’t leaving someone dead or bleeding on the side of the road just a little more serious than offering money for a blow job?

Maybe when drivers face the prospect of making payments for the next several years to pay off a car they no longer own, they might think twice about hitting the gas instead of the brakes.

And maybe then, finally, they’ll actually stick around after a collision.


On a related subject, NY Streetsblog responds to outraged NIMBY’s complaining about dangerous bike lanes by showing where the real danger comes from, with a devastating list of cyclists and pedestrians killed on the city’s streets in 2010.

Meanwhile, Treehugger asks why not aim for zero deaths?

My thoughts exactly. Our only goal should be to make sure the last cyclist or pedestrian killed on our streets really is the last one.


More evidence that Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia and two-time winner of the Tour de France, was a genuine hero of the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Bartali used his bike to smuggle documents on behalf of Italian Jews during the Nazi occupation. Now comes word that he also hid a family of Jews in his cellar for nearly two years, saving their lives at the risk of his own.

These days, when the internet and sports section seems to bring more bad bike news with every passing day, it’s nice to be reminded what a real cycling hero is.


Join the LACBC for the first monthly Sunday Funday Ride with the Valley Pride Ride at noon this Sunday starting at Los Encinos State Park, led by board member Heidi Zeller; the ride is free for members and a guest.

Speaking of which, I’ll be hosting the next one with a four-city, 35 +/- mile tour of the Westside on Super Bowl Sunday.

And L.A. Critical Mass rolls on New Years Eve, just in time to confront the many, many drunks on the road.


I got an email earlier today from someone looking for a 64-65 cm lugged steel bike frame, or possibly a full bike; he says an ’80s era Trek 720 frame would be ideal, but he’s open to anything that meets those specs. If you have one you’re willing to part with, or know where he can find one, let me know and I’ll forward the information.


More on the teenage cyclist shot to death in South L.A. last night. Damien Newton names the Livable Streets People of the Year, as well as the year’s many low lights. The city may — or may not — be liable for injuries or damage caused by potholes; Council President Eric Garcetti directs you to the right form to file your claim. Bike lanes may come to Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills next year; thanks should go to Better Bike Beverly Hills. Stanley Goldich forwards a spectacular photo of the recent storm damage. Bob Mionske points out you could be arrested if you’re stopped by a cop for a traffic violation and can’t produce ID. Cyclelicious lists the top 10 bike stories of 2010.

A comprehensive list of Twitter bike hashtags for cities around the world from my new friends at Bike Commute News. The tax benefits of riding to work. Motorists may be facing a crisis of confidence as the former(?) alpha dogs of transportation. An interview with leading bike advocate Elly Blue on women, cycling and why Portland still has a way to go. Even Seattle cyclists have to deal with snow this year. Just one of 16 bike/ped bridges in the Twin Cities. Michigan adopts a Complete Streets policy. A 17-year old Ohio man is under arrest, suspected of intentionally stalking and killing a cyclist. Mapping crash data to build awareness of bike danger areas.

Now you can have a Porsche of your very own, without sacrificing cycling. Road.cc looks back on the highs and lows of the 2010 racing season, while VeloNews offers a complete calendar of 2011 racing events. Turns out that Aussie study that showed the country’s mandatory helmet law did not reduce head injuries contained “serious arithmetic and data plotting errors.” A bad knee will keep Lance out of a Kiwi triathlon, but he still plans to race with his RadioShack team in the Tour Down Under. An Israeli cyclist is sentenced to three months in jail for allegedly organizing a 2008 Critical Mass ride; thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.

Finally, more on the Dutch cyclist disqualified from the 2012 Paralympics after miraculously regaining use of her legs — remarkably, after being hit by another cyclist on a training ride.

14-year old cyclist shot and killed in South L.A.

December 30, 2010

In yet another heartbreaking case of apparent gang violence, a 14-year old kid is murdered while riding his bike in South L.A.

According to the LAPD, he was riding around the intersection of St. Andrews Place and 87th Street around 7:25 pm last night when a gunman shot him from behind. And as usual, it’s the details that are most saddening, as the police note he dropped his bike and attempted to run before collapsing about a block away.

14-Year-Old Boy Shot While Riding His Bicycle

A 14-year-old Black male, has been shot to death while riding his bicycle.

On Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at about 7:25 p.m., the teenage victim was riding his bicycle around Saint Andrews Place and 87th Street. An unknown suspect(s) approached the victim from behind and started shooting at him. The victim was hit by the gunfire, then dropped his bicycle on the street and started to run. He collapsed around the 1800 block of 87th Street.

The suspect(s) ran in an unknown direction. Detectives believe the motive for this crime is gang related, however, there is no suspect description at this time.

Los Angeles City Fire Department personnel responded to the location and transported the victim to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD 77th Street Area Criminal Gang and Homicide Division Detectives Eric Crosson or Samuel Arnold at (213) 485-1383. After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “CRIMES” with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web Tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.” All calls and contacts are anonymous.

Another life wasted. Another young man who will never grow up.

Another future wiped out and another family destroyed in a single moment of insanity.

Thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up.

Don’t miss today’s intersection of bikes and beer at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica

December 28, 2010

Don't forget Tuesday's all-day LACBC fundraiser and party at the Library Alehouse — I'll be stopping by this afternoon and again tonight, so look for me there.

Police kill armed Watts cyclist, LBPD cracks down once again, DMV says accidents aren’t

December 27, 2010

Don't forget Tuesday's all-day LACBC fundraiser and party at the Library Alehouse.

Catching up from a long and fattening weekend:

In a bizarre case, police shot and killed an armed man riding a bike near the Jordan Downs Housing Project in Watts on Christmas morning.

According to the L.A. Times, LAPD officers responded to a report of an assault by someone armed with a rifle around 4 am. While they were talking with the occupants of an SUV, a man holding an assault rifle rode his bike towards the officers. They shot him when he refused their commands to drop the gun; the rider, described only as a man in his 20s, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

As others note, there seems to be more to the story than what has been reported. Why the man would ride towards the police or refuse to drop the weapon have not been explained.

And oddly, none of the news reports indicate whether the rider was wearing a helmet.


Once again, a heavy-handed police crackdown as the Long Beach police go out of their way to undo the city’s reputation for being bike friendly. Bicycle Fixation’s Rick Risemberg — not exactly a hotheaded radical — calls it goonsquad tactics.

Maybe the next L.A. Critical Mass should hop the Blue Line for a quick trip south.


I’ve long argued that there’s no such thing as a vehicular accident, since collisions invariably involve one or more people breaking the law or operating their vehicles in an unsafe manner; turns out, the DMV agrees.

And on the subject of breaking traffic laws, Will Campbell says the way some cyclists run red lights is a sign of pathological tendencies. Unfortunately, I can’t disagree; red light running has gotten completely out of hand lately. It seems like most riders I see riding in the bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd go through the lights — even when it means riding through traffic on cross streets.

So for anyone unclear on the concept, bikes are legally required to stop at all red lights, just like cars are. And yes, you can — and probably should — get a ticket for it.


Damien Newton unveils the first of this year’s Streetsie Awards and gives you a chance to vote on your own choices; you’ll find my name there among some very good company, for which I am both honored and humbled.


Celebrate New Years Eve eve with the intersection of bikes and poetry on the final Spokes and Words ride of the year. Richard Risemberg confronts a reincarnating pothole. The OC Bike Coalition points out the kind of road work fencing that should never be used. A San Diego cyclist is injured after hitting road debris. A Santa Rosa pro takes a life-changing trip to Africa to ride with Team Rwanda.

The 1,000 mile Remember the Removal bike tour follows the route of the infamous Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee Nation was forcibly and shamefully removed from their traditional lands. TreeHugger calls for bike-only boulevards. The best and worst of American bike racing in 2010. Lance’s Team RadioShack just got a lot faster. GOP strategist and George W. Bush buddy Karl Rove writes about the Ride 2 Recovery program for wounded vets; Hell has officially frozen over when I find myself agreeing with him on just about anything. EcoVelo reminisces on a lifelong love affair with bikes. Tacoma WA tells motorists to drive nice. Proof that bikes and cars can co-exist — a bike-based headlight service in the Motor City. New York doctors ask for improvements in bike infrastructure, which could do a lot more to prevent injuries than putting a helmet on every head.

Just four months after saving the life of a motorist, an artist is paralyzed after getting hit by a truck riding at the same spot. Are 29 inch wheels the future of mountain biking? Four years for a UK driver who killed a cyclist while stoned. A road rage driver has a three-year ban on driving overturned because his assault on a cyclist occurred after he left his vehicle; yeah, that’s exactly the kind of person we want on the road. Note to the Daily Mail — since when did a Segway become a bike? A medal-wining Dutch Paralympian faces disqualification from the 2012 games as she unexpectedly regains use of her legs.

Finally, the UK’s Guardian says you’re a sissy if you don’t ride in the snow like those darn Danes, or give blood for that matter. Clearly, there are people in this country who couldn’t agree more. About the snow, anyway.

Although the other one is a good life-saving habit to develop, as well. I stopped counting after donating somewhere north of six gallons.

Watch out for drivers today, because they probably won’t be watching for you

December 24, 2010

Let’s be careful out there.

The closer we get to the holidays, the more drivers are focused on finding that elusive parking space and their frenzied search for those last minute gifts. And many may have started their Christmas drinking long before they’d consider tippling any other time of the year, and may be in no condition to drive — yet think they can do it anyway.

And the last thing most drivers are likely to be looking for on the road is a bike. Let alone anyone on one.

We’ve already had one rider killed in Orange County this week, and word came of another bad bike wreck at 7th and Spring in Downtown L.A. on Thursday.

And that’s two too many in just the last two days.

So if you’re riding today or over the weekend, use extra caution. Especially Christmas Eve, as people make their way home after imbibing in a little too much holiday cheer at lunch or office parties.

No, you shouldn’t have to assume responsibility for others on the road; and yes, it’s their obligation to operate their vehicles safely and soberly.

But this time of year, a lot of them don’t. And won’t.

And drives like that usually aren’t the ones who end up paying the price for their mistakes.

So ride defensively. Assume you’re invisible, and that everyone you encounter on the road is driving distracted. Or worse.

And light yourself up like a Christmas tree on your way home tonight.

And not just in honor of the holiday.


Opponents to NYC’s Prospect Park West break out the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer argument, claiming they just can’t understand those darn statistics. And Traffic meister Tom Vanderbilt joins in the debate as well, pointing out that a study of 24 California cities showed that the cities with higher bike usage also had a better safety rate — and not just for bikes.


Looks like Glendale’s Safe & Healthy Streets program has had a successful year, too. Playing Santa by bike in the South Bay. A cyclist is rescued after she was swept into flood waters in Palm Springs. The DMV points out that a helmet is required for all riders of motorized bikes; I had no idea. Look out for cars parked in bike lanes, which, despite all logic, remains legal in California unless banned by local ordinance.

Bikes are becoming so fashionable, one day, they may even be used for transportation. A typographic look at the anatomy of a bicycle. A Harford cyclist is threatened with bike confiscation after parking it in front of the hotel where he’s attending a conference. Fayetteville NC’s Bicycle Man fixes up and gives away 1,100 bikes to children in poor communities; yes, 1,100 bikes from a single, huge-hearted man.

Unbelievably, a Brit driver who ran down and killed a cyclist participating in a time trial walks, subject only to a one-year driving ban, community service and £110 in court costs; evidently, a cyclist’s life is cheap in Great Britain these days. Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin try to make sense of the UK’s blustery bike program days. The many joys of winter cycling. Dutch in Dublin looks at biking Irish fashion stylist Aisling Farinella. Pro cyclist Robbie McEwen is credited with saving his fellow yacht passengers from carbon monoxide poisoning. An 18-year old Aussie cyclist receives a five month driving ban for drunk driving.

Finally, Velonews looks at the good doctor, a very forgiving lawyer and whether Vail is responsible for their jerk of a DA.


My best wishes to you and yours for a very safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas!


Breaking News: Cyclist killed Wednesday evening in Huntington Beach

December 23, 2010

An Orange County cyclist was killed in Huntington Beach last night as a result of a hit-and-run.

According to the Orange County Register, 69-year old Jurgen Ankenbrand was hit by two separate vehicles at the intersection of Brookhurst Street and Villa Pacific Drive at about 5:35 Wednesday evening. The first occurred when he was turning from Villa Pacific onto Brookhurst and was struck by a dark colored Toyota 4-Runner on his right as it made a left turn onto northbound Brookhurst.

That knocked Ankenbrand onto the southbound side of Brookhurst, where he was struck and killed by a white Honda Odyssey. He was pronounced dead at the scene; by my count, the 16th cycling death in Southern California since August.

The driver of the 4-Runner fled the scene; the driver in the Odyssey remained.

Reading between the lines, there appear to be three likely explanations for how this collision may have happened.

The driver of the 4-Runner may have been either signaling for a right turn or angling over as if he was turning right, causing Ankenbrand to pass on his left when the driver changed his mind and made a sudden left turn without checking his mirror or looking to his left.

The 4-Runner could have been stopped, either in the lane or at the curb, and Ankenbrand may have been attempting to go around it when the driver suddenly pulled forward to make a left.

I’ve seen both happen enough times that neither would come as a surprise.

The third possibility is that Ankenbrand was making a left onto Brookhurst when the driver of the 4-Runner came up from behind and made his left without noticing that the cyclist was already in position ahead of him. This wreck occurred about the same time as the severe thunderstorms rolled through Orange County, so the driver’s vision may have been impaired by the weather conditions.

We may never know, since the driver ran away, rather than obey the law and face the consequences of his actions. And he — or she — could now face a felony hit-and-run charge, when he may or may not have been at fault in the collision.

Witnesses are urges to contact the Huntington Beach police at 714-536-5666.

Thanks to Allan Alessio for the tip.

In this season of miracles, a former pro and his son could use one of their own

December 23, 2010

Maybe you remember a couple months back, when racing legend Andy Hampsten came to town.

While the official reason for his visit may have been to promote the new Campagnolo Revolution 11 at the Agoura Hills Bicycle Johns, there was another reason for his visit.

A more important reason.

He was here to support former 7-11 teammate and ’84 Olympic bronze medalist Roy Knickman. Or more precisely, Roy’s 14-year old son Andreas.

It was something I’d mentioned in passing, a ride that was scheduled to take place the following day to benefit Andreas in his two-year fight against a rare form of bone cancer. Sponsored by Newberry Park resident and fellow firefighter Mike Nosco, the ride attracted cyclists from around the world, and raised over $30,000 to help defray Andreas’ medical costs. And Nosco hopes to raise thousands more through an online auction on his website.

We should all have friends like that.

The Thousand Oaks Acorn has a moving story about Andreas and his family, as well as Nosco’s extraordinary efforts to help. It’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to read, if only for a reminder of what really matters in this season of frenzied shopping and overindulgence.

And that there’s always something we can do to help. And always those who need it.

Even if it’s just offering a silent prayer.

Thanks to DC for the heads-up. If you want to wish Andreas and his family well, visit their site and sign the guestbook, or make a donation here.


In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, the family of a Los Altos Hills cyclist killed in a collision with a truck — whose driver had two previous fatal collisions — files a wrongful death suit against the driver and his employer; thanks to Al Williams for the link.

And the drunk hit-and-run driver who killed Angel’s pitcher Nick Adenhart, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson gets a well-deserved 51 years to life in prison. Now if we could just see a sentence like that for killing people who aren’t famous.


The New York Times offers a surprisingly rational debate on the Great Bike Lane Controversy with views from five separate writers; thanks to Stanley Goldich and George Wolfberg for the heads-up:


Debi Mazar helps give away 90 bicycles in South L.A.; now that’s my kind of actress. The City of Los Angeles introduces a new smartphone app to help drivers find open parking spaces; needless to say, it didn’t take long for cyclists to point out the obvious dangers of distracted driving. LACBC doesn’t always make a lot of noise, but they’ve accomplished a lot this year. Just Another Cyclist says Santa would be better off riding a bike; wait, you mean he doesn’t? Cyclelicious celebrates the diversity of the cycling community. Registration is now open for the L’Etape du California, your chance to ride the 7th stage of the Amgen Tour of California from Claremont to Mt. Baldy. Biking from San Francisco to Orange County to support music programs for children with autism.

A semi cute video promoting helmet use. Bicycling editor at large Bill Strickland says it all started when he bought a bike. Advice on locking your bike; key point being do it every time. A Denver cyclist uses his Garmin to prove the driver who hit him was lying; too bad that wouldn’t work with the schmuck who claimed new car smell sleep apnea made him flee the scene after running down a cyclist — and worse, he claims to be one of us. My hometown prepares to host the Echelon Gran Fondo and calls it the biggest bike event in Colorado in 2011; somehow, I think the new Quiznos Pro Challenge will be just a tad more important. A look at helmet use in Michigan doesn’t show much difference in collision outcomes. How is it that Pittsburgh gets a bike center designed by Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Hank Koning before Santa Monica does? link courtesy of George Wolfberg. Grist talks with NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the woman L.A. cyclists lust after (bureaucratically speaking). A Philadelphia cyclist wishes he’d just get a ticket, because cyclists will never obey the law until the police enforce it; I hate to say it, but he’s got a point. An odd quirk in Pennsylvania law prevents bike lanes outside major cities.

Camouflage — good for bunnies, not so good for road markers. More good advice on riding in ice and snow, some of which works for rain, as well. A parade of Santas on Boris Bikes. These days, it seems like everyone is riding a bike — yes, even Him. A secret UK Santa drops off bikes for children every Christmas. Tour Italy on traffic-free roads and catch the finale of the Giro. Default Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro, who claimed the title when Floyd Landis was disqualified, makes his debut on the soccer pitch. An Aussie state safety committee considers proposals to keep riders safer, including advanced green lights for bikes and airbags on the front of cars — even if the reporter a clearly biased. Lotto pro Matt Lloyd left to ride his bike to the bank in his native Australia, and woke up in the back of an ambulance, with no evidence of a collision and no idea how he got there.

Finally, it has nothing to do with bikes — just the future of our country, as the Sierra Club is urging the Senate to revise their rules to put the interests of Americans ahead of corporations.

And mark your calendar for the LACBC’s 2nd Annual  Mid-Winter Merriment at the Library Alehouse next Wednesday, December 28th.

I’ll see you there.


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