Groundbreaking L.A. cyclist anti-harassment law nears final approval

February 18, 2011

A first-of-its-kind new anti-harassment law could prove as inspiring as City Hall itself.

In the end it was a false alarm.

For a brief period Thursday afternoon, there was a flurry of online activity suggesting that the groundbreaking new Bicycle Anti-Harassment Ordinance had unexpectedly become law.

It hadn’t.

Instead, it was something almost as big, but not quite as final.

I first heard that this law was in the works when I appeared with LADOT Sr. Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery on Larry Mantle’s AirTalk program on KPCC back in November ’09. She told me confidentially that she had been working quietly behind the scenes with members of 11th District Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s staff to develop additional legal protection for the city’s cyclists, though in a far different form from what we see today.

So give credit where it’s due. Because this wouldn’t be happening at all if she hadn’t been pushing for it.

Yesterday was that the City Attorney’s office officially unveiled the final draft of the ordinance. The confusion came from the inclusion of Council Rule #38 in the City Attorney’s letter accompanying the draft, which said that because it didn’t require enforcement by an city officer, board or commission, it didn’t require review by “any such City officer or entity.”

To those of us who lack a legal background and aren’t grounded in the minutiae of city regulations, that sounded like it might not need further approval by the City Council to become law.

It does.

Fortunately, after a mad flurry of emails, texts and tweets Thursday afternoon, City Council President Eric Garcetti and his staff helped us unravel what had really happened, and what the next steps will be.

It turns out that Rule #38 simply means that the ordinance doesn’t need to be reviewed by any other city department, such as LADOT or the police department. Instead, it will go straight to the Transportation Committee for review, leading up to a hearing before the full Council; if they approve it, it goes to the Mayor for his signature.

And assuming Mayor Villaraigosa signs off, it will then become law, most likely 30 days after signing unless otherwise noted. L.A. cyclists will then be protected by this innovative ordinance — as near as I can find, it’s the first of its kind anywhere that makes the harassment of cyclists a civil, rather criminal, violation.

Which means that you’ll be able to take drivers — or anyone else — who threatens your safety or refuse to recognize your right to the road to court yourself, rather than relying on the police to determine if a crime has been committed, and the District Attorney or City Attorney to file charges.

And because your case will be heard in civil court, it requires a lower burden of proof; just a majority of jurors will have to agree instead of the unanimous verdict required in criminal cases.

It also doesn’t preclude criminal charges, so you can pursue your own case against someone who threatens you without jeopardizing any possible criminal case.

Of course, it won’t work miracles.

While it sets a new standard for other cities and states to follow in ensuring cyclists a safe place on the road, you’ll still need to prove your case. As all too many of us have learned the hard way, it’s not easy to get the license number of a driver who just ran you off the road. And you’ll still need to gather evidence and witnesses so it’s not just your word against theirs.

But with a potential judgment of triple your actual damages or $1,000, whichever is higher, plus any punitive damages the court may impose, it should act as a significant deterrent to hot headed motorists.

In addition, the provision for attorney’s fees should make it much easier to find a lawyer who’ll take your case despite the relatively small potential judgment. Which means that whatever money you receive as a result will go to you instead of your attorney — something I learned about the hard way when the small settlement I received in a road rage case was eaten up by attorney’s fees; in fact, I would have owed him if he hadn’t written off the excess.

So it should be an effective tool to fight back against things like this that occur countless times every day in every part of the city. And it should also serve as a model for other area cities, since harassment and threatening behavior is hardly confined within L.A.’s borders.

We still have some significant hurdles to jump before this becomes law, though. While the drafting of the ordinance enjoyed unanimous support from the council, we haven’t heard from the motoring public, who may not yet be aware this law is being considered.

But now we finally have an actual draft in our hands.

It was a just over a year ago that Council President Eric Garcetti offered me his personal assurance that he would stay on top of the proposed ordinance and keep it moving forward. Yesterday he reacted to the release of the draft by saying “This is a long-overdue recognition that our streets are shared and bicyclists deserve to be free from fear on our streets.”

It looks like he’s kept his word.

As has Rosendahl, who has been driving — or perhaps, pedaling — this ordinance since the very beginning, famously declaring that “The culture of the car is going to end now!”

There are other people to thank, of course — not in the least of whom is Deputy City Attorney Judith Reel, who had the brilliant idea of treating harassment as a civil violation.

But let’s save that until we’ve actually crossed the finish line.

Because we still have some work to do in the meantime.

Learn more about the Anti-Harassment Ordinance in Chris Kidd’s excellent step-by-step analysis at LADOT Bike Blog. And I’ll give you as much advance notice of any hearing as possible.

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Here’s the full draft of the proposed ordinance:

ORDINANCE NO. _________

An ordinance adding Article 5.10 to Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to prohibit harassment of bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists.

THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Article 5.10 is added to Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to read as follows:

ARTICLE 5.10

PROHIBITION AGAINST HARASSMENT OF BICYCLISTS

SEC. 45.96.00. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

After public hearings and receipt of testimony, the City Council finds and declares:

That the City of Los Angeles wants to encourage people to ride bicycles rather than drive motor vehicles in order to lessen traffic congestion and improve air quality;

That harassment of bicyclists on the basis of their status as bicyclists exists in the City of Los Angeles;

That existing criminal and civil laws do not effectively prevent the unlawful harassment of bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists;

That riding a bicycle on City streets poses hazards to bicyclists, and that these hazards are amplified by the actions of persons who deliberately harass and endanger bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists; and

That because people have a right to ride a bicycle in the City of Los Angles and should be able to do so safely on City streets, it is against the public policy of the City of Los Angeles to harass a bicyclist upon the basis of the person’s status as a bicyclist.

SEC. 45.96.01. DEFINITIONS.

The following words and phrases, whenever used in this Article, shall be construed as defined in this Section. Words and phrases not defined herein shall be construed as defined in Section 12.03 of this Code, if defined therein.

A. Bicycle. A device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain or gears, and having one or more wheels.

B. Bicyclist. A person riding a bicycle.

SEC. 45.96.02. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.

A person shall not do or attempt to do any of the following:

A. Physically assault or attempt to physically assault a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.

B. Threaten to physically injure a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.

C. Intentionally injure, attempt to injure, or threaten to physically injure, either by words, vehicle, or other object, a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.

D. Intentionally distract or attempt to distract a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.

SEC. 45.96.03. REMEDIES.

A. Any aggrieved person may enforce the provisions of this Article by means of a civil lawsuit.

B. Any person who violates the provisions of this Article shall be liable for actual damages with regard to each and every such violation, and such additional amount as may be determined by a jury, or a court sitting without a jury, up to three times the amount of actual damages, or $1,000, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation. In addition, a jury or a court may award punitive damages where warranted.

C. Notwithstanding Section 11.00(m) of this Code, violations of any of the provisions of this Article shall not constitute a misdemeanor or infraction, except where such actions, independently of this Article, constitute a misdemeanor or infraction.

D. The remedies provided by the provisions of this Article are in addition to all other remedies provided by law, and nothing in this Article shall preclude any aggrieved person from pursuing any other remedy provided by law.

Sec. 2. Severability. If any provision of this ordinance is found to be unconstitutional or othervvise invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, that invalidity shall not affect the remaining provisions of this ordinance, which can be implemented without the invalid provisions, and to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are declared to be severable.

Sec. 3. The City Clerk shall certify to the passage of this ordinance and have it published in accordance with Council policy, either in a daily newspaper circulated in the City of Los Angeles or by posting for ten days in three public places in the City of Los Angeles: one copy on the bulletin board located at the Main Street entrance to the Los Angeles City Hall; one copy on the bulletin board located at the Main Street entrance to the Los Angeles City Hall East; and one copy on the bulletin board located at the Temple Street entrance to the Los Angeles County Hall of Records.


Tour de Fat sets a date, Malibu Sheriffs don’t get it, and 6 month suspension for killing Roger Grooters

February 17, 2011

“Oh I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused.” — Elvis Costello, (The Angels Want to Wear My) Red Shoes

One quick breaking news note:

Tour de Fat has officially set a date for this year’s return engagement, coming back to Los Angeles on October 8th. Better yet, that’s one day before the city’s 4th scheduled CicLAvia, making for a full weekend celebration of cycling in L.A.

The bad news is, October 8th is also Yom Kippur.

You’d think someone would check the calendar before scheduling a date in a city with such a large Jewish community, many of whom are active cyclists. And might appreciate having a day full of beer and bikes to atone for.

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File this one under the heading of They Just Don’t Get It.

Malibu City Council approved a three-hour Bicycle Safety public workshop, to be held on a Saturday morning at a date to be determined. Great news so far, as cyclists have been pushing for an open discussion of the problems we face riding in and through the ‘Bu, while city officials — particularly members of the city’s Public Safety Commission — have been surprisingly open to dialogue with the biking community.

And then there’s the Sheriff’s Department.

“It should be noted that the Sheriff’s department expressed concern about whether a workshop would be a benefit to the city’s goals of improved safety. During previous discussions with members of cycling organizations and bike clubs, the Sheriff’s liaison stated that the cyclists continued to disagree with the Sheriff’s interpretation of the law. There was additional concern expressed that the goal to open communication between motorists and cyclists would not likely be achieved through the workshop as it is doubtful that many non-cycling members of the public would consider attending,” the staff memo adds.

So, discussion is only worthwhile when we think they’re right?

Maybe we continue to disagree because the Sheriff’s Department in Malibu continues to interpret state law incorrectly. Despite the best efforts of cyclists to point out that we do in fact have a legal right to ride in the traffic lane, and that nothing in state law prohibits riding side-by-side in order to safely control the lane when necessary, even — or especially — on busy highways like PCH.

And somehow, given the passionate hatred expressed towards cyclists by some Malibu residents, I doubt getting the non-riding public to attend will be a problem.

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Oh. My. God.

The driver who ran down cross-country cyclist and former USC Athletic Department employee Roger Grooters has had his license suspended for just six months and fined a paltry $1,160 by a Florida judge.

Six lousy months of being prohibited from driving — and no jail time — after carelessly killing another human being. Before being allowed back on the roads to do it again to someone else.

That isn’t even a slap on the wrist. They might as well have given him a cigar and a pat on the back for reducing the state’s surplus cyclist population.

Clearly, life is cheap in Florida.

There are no words. At least, none that I’d want to use here.

But I can tell you where I won’t be spending my next vacation.

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In our continuing coverage of former Tour de France winners accused of doping, Lance officially retired once again on Wednesday. Contador’s decision to ride this year’s Giro may be a polite way to avoid being banned from Le Tour, while Spanish meat producers say he’s full of mierda. A physician says he was fired from a Spanish bike team when he refused to dope the riders. And UCI threatens to sue Floyd Landis over his allegations of a cover-up; Dave Moulton says Landis has a right to be ticked off.

If you’re as disgusted as I am with all the endless doping and cheating charges, denials and countercharges, try following the Twitter feed of rising star Taylor Phinney, whose cheerful optimism could restore your faith in pro cycling.

Or even in humanity.

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The Seattle Times offers an in-depth and very insightful look at the seemingly inevitable conflicts between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, and the anger that springs from it. If you don’t read any of the other links on here today, read this one.

Meanwhile, Seattle Bike Blog asks how you handle anger while you’re riding. And the Wall Street Journal says if road rage wasn’t bad enough, now we have to deal with sidewalk rage.

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Santa Monica’s Planning and Community Development Department invites you to participate in a special workshop to help transform the Bergamot area into an urban transit village, including pedestrian and bike linkages to the Expo Line, Bergamot Arts Center and other destinations. The meeting takes place from 6:30 – 9 pm tonight at Pier 59 Studios, 2415 Michigan Ave in Bergamot Station.

Bike Long Beach is hosting a bike ride for the city’s next Bicycle Master Plan workshop this Saturday, Feb. 19th. The ride departs from the Silverado Park Community Center, 1545 W. 31st Street at 10 am; the workshop begins at 11:30 am. And take a look at what they’ve accomplished already.

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A new petition urges Maryland to stop senseless bicycle deaths; then again, do any bicycle deaths make sense? Maybe it’s time to take something like this nationwide. Thanks to Kim for the heads-up.

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Big bike happenings Downtown this week as DTLA Bikes opened on Wednesday, and the city’s first bike corral officially opens Friday. If you liked October’s first CicLAvia, you’ll love April’s on the same route. Glendale’s Safe and Healthy Streets Plan moves forward to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians; meanwhile, Glendale and Burbank cooperate to request Metro funds for transportation improvements, including a bike boulevard on Kenneth Road. At least some San Diego business people get that bikes are good for business, encouraging people to Bike the Boulevard this Saturday. The 2011 NorCal High School mountain bike racing season kicks off Feb. 27th; why didn’t they have that when I was in school?

Sunset Magazine lists bike sharing, bike planning and car-free festivals — including CicLAvia — among their top 100 cultural trends in the West. Actor Matthew Modine and filmmaker David Holbrooke will host a nationwide mountain bike event on October 8th — yes, once again on Yom Kippur — to call attention to women’s rights in Afghanistan; then again, you haven’t mountain biked until you’ve bombed straight down a volcano. Bikes in the national parks are not just for tourists. The 17-year old Utah driver who killed a cyclist because her vision was obscured by birthday balloons will face misdemeanor charges. Bike Portland offers an alternate explanation for a recent cycling death. Favorable results are in for Portland’s cycle track and buffered bike lanes. The rich and powerful try to take down New York’s Prospect Park West bike lanes, including former NYDOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall and her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Current ABC and former CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour rolls on two wheels. In an all-too-familiar story, a Florida family is devastated when the father is killed in a cycling collision. In case you ever wanted to see what it’s like to vicariously run down a jay walking cyclist, here’s your chance.

In a typically illogical, knee-jerk motorhead response, a UK Member of Parliament suggests banning bikes from a highway to keep cyclists from getting killed, rather than doing something to keep drivers from killing them. A new car hood design promises to protect cyclists and pedestrians in collisions; instead of building safer cars, why not make safer drivers? Creative things to do with old bike parts. An Irish man accidently runs down and kills his own biking father. A triple confrontation with a road raging driver convinces a Sydney rider that angry drivers can make a cyclist’s life hell. Kiwi cyclists call for repealing New Zealand’s mandatory helmet law.

Finally, KCET’s Departures offers an exceptional in-depth look at the abused, and slowly recovering, L.A. River from the Headwaters to the Sepulveda Basin. Kudos to KCET; this one of the best examples I’ve seen of using online media to tell a story. Meanwhile, Flying Pigeon blogger Rick Risemberg looks at the graffiti and grace of the Downtown section of the river and its bike path.

Congratulations to new LACBC board members Lourdes Lopez, Steve Boyd and Carrie Ungerman.


Victim and driver in San Diego street sweeper death identified; it just gets sadder

February 15, 2011

I often complain about the lack of information about bicycle collisions.

Usually, we’re lucky if the story merits a few paragraph’s in the paper. A bare description that a motor vehicle hit a cyclist, or the other way around; maybe the name of the victim and the driver. Sometimes not even that.

Then there are times when the press does its job, and we learn about the victim and the driver.

Too often, it just makes the whole story that much more tragic.

That’s what happened today in the sad, infuriating case of a San Diego cyclist killed when the driver of a street sweeper fell asleep behind the wheel last Friday.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the victim, Suntat Peverley, was a lab tech who had worked for UCSD Medical Center for the past 10 years. A popular lead phlebotomist with the Internal Medicine Group, he leaves behind a wife and two children.

Meanwhile, 77-year old Fred Franklin Fuller wasn’t just the driver of the street sweeper, he also owned the company. After sweeping parking lots for 33 years, he’d turned the business over to his son, but started driving again after his son died just three weeks ago. Tragically, Fuller’s wife also died about the same time.

Not surprisingly, he told police investigators that he hadn’t been sleeping well lately.

Fuller shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. Not at his age. Not in his physical condition. Not in his emotional state, after suffering two tragic loses so recently.

Maybe he thought working would ease the pain and give him something to do; maybe he felt like he didn’t have any choice.

There seems to be no question that he was at fault. The only question is what the consequences will be, whether he’ll be charged, and if he will be able to live with what he’s done after suffering so much tragedy already.

We know what the consequences were for Peverley. His wife will have to go on without the love and support of her husband. His children will grow up without a father.

This whole case is just too heartbreaking for words.

Sometimes, I really wish I didn’t know the details.


Post-Valentines lovers ride, triple teenage homicide in Rancho Cordova, Contador cleared for now

February 15, 2011

Click to enlarge

I’d planned to write about this yesterday before Streetsblog beat me to it (Darn you, Damien!).

But this still sounds like the perfect post Valentines ride. I’ll let Omari of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition take it from here:

Ok, so the week after Valentine’s day, this guy who’s a student at UCLA wants to ride his bike to drop his sweetheart off at the airport. He doesn’t wanna sit in 405 traffic, or take 3 trains and a shuttle to get there. Problem is, transportation planners, in all their wisdom didn’t foresee of anyone ever wanting to do that. As a result it’s kind of treacherous to ride a bike to LAX because the approaches are basically set up like freeways. Given that car-centricity, it’s no surprise that 85% of all ground trips to LAX are made by cars, with all the pollution and congestion that comes with that (and the majority of those trips are people getting dropped off and picked up, creating 4 trips total and 4 times the pollution)!

But what can be done? How can we help the lovebirds arrive safely at their destination without degrading the planet? The good news is, you can have fun and strength and safety in numbers with them on the Lovebirds to LAX Bike Party! So grab your bike on Sunday, February 20th and escort the happy couple on an EPIC ride from Helen’s Cycles in Westwood to LAX. Meeting at 11:30am, leaving at 12:30pm. Free bike safety checks will be provided beforehand. The trip will be about 10 miles one way, with an option to return on the Metro Rail Green/Blue lines. No cyclist will be left behind. We’ll stop at red lights and be courteous to others. This is a peaceful ride, channeling Ghandi and MLK: we’ll handle any obnoxious drivers with a smile and wave. Join us and be one of the few and the proud who can tell your friends (or wear a T-shirt that says), “I Rode My Bike to LAX!” We should have music, and signs saying “WHERE’S THE BIKE LANE?!” Tell a friend and spread the word that we’re partying against car-centricity… riding toward a future where, just as every street has a sidewalk, every street (including those to LAX) will have a bike lane.

Until then, safe travels!

He also wants some music on the ride, so he’s looking for bike-able speaks. Anyone have any suggestions or something he can borrow?

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Three Rancho Cordova teenagers were tragically killed in a drive-by shooting while riding their bikes on Monday; thanks to Allan Alessio for the heads-up. Oddly, the print version doesn’t mention the bike connection, while the video story leads off with it.

Of course, the real tragedy isn’t that it happened while they were riding their bikes; it’s that shootings like this occur  across the country virtually every day and no one really pays attention. Just like traffic deaths, over 30,000 Americans are killed with guns every year. And in typically American fashion, the solution employed by our leaders is to make guns more readily available, just as we deal with the endless plague of traffic fatalities by building more cars and increasing speed limits.

Our nation has fought two wars in the last 10 years because 3,000 were killed by terrorists, yet well over 200 times that many people were killed by guns and motor vehicles combined in that same time period.

When will we stop ignoring the elephant in the room and demand that it end now?

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In a surprising twist, defending TdF champ Alberto Contador is cleared of doping charges after the Spanish cycling federation reverses its earlier decision, concluding that it could not be proven that Contador deliberately took the clenbuterol that was found in his system. Needless to say, he’s very happy about it.

If that’s the new standard, they might as well throw out all drug testing, since proof of intent is difficult if not impossible to establish in most cases. Many other riders have been banned on far less evidence.

Maybe Floyd Landis should recant, move to Spain and file an appeal.

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Bicycling releases its annual list of America’s best bike cities; San Francisco checks in at number 6, while Long Beach is #23. No other California city made the list.

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The Daily News endorses bike activist Stephen Box over incumbent Tom LaBonge in CD4. The new Bike Plan Implementation Team is open to whoever shows up — which means you could be the one who guarantees the new bike plan will actually get built. Eleven years after being paralyzed in a motocross race, a recovering Jimmy Button prepares to bicycle 2,428 miles from San Diego to Daytona Beach to benefit Miles for Miracles. Bike sharing programs live and die according to the planning details. Flying Pigeon now carries Torker Cargo-T bikes. Mobile billboard operators try bikes to get around the recent ban. An OC woman is thankfully uninjured in a five-man bike jacking. Cyclelicious eavesdrops on CHP dispatches to uncover a possibly deliberate collision in the San Gabriel Valley. SF police blame cyclists for speeding even though they were travelling well below the speed limit; after all, it’s far easier to blame cyclists for riding too fast than ticket the drivers who throw open their doors or pull out in front of them. A Fresno hit-and-run turns out to be a cyclist who hit a parked car.

Register for an upcoming Webinar on the Safe Routes to School program on March 3rd. The term bike porn is taken to its literal and logical conclusion. Biking Bis offers a list of resources for special needs cyclists. Surprisingly enough, 60% of bike injury collisions occur at intersections, while two-thirds of fatalities occur on the open road — perhaps because of the difference in speed. An Oregon cyclist is killed after stopping in a traffic lane; despite his working red light, the driver claims it was a SMIDSY* — and yes, the report notes that the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. More biased reporting in New York’s endless Prospect Park West bike lane dispute; cooler heads say build more bike lanes, not less, while less cool heads prepare to sue. Cambridge MA doesn’t maintain bike facilities in the winter because no one rides, but maybe no one rides because they don’t maintain it. A Virginia cyclist wasn’t hit by that truck, just skimmed. Zeke rides up in the spring, and back down in the winter in the space of just 20 miles. A Georgia man blames the victim, posting a No Cyclists sign after a friend’s son plowed into five cyclists, killing one. The nation’s deadliest state in which to walk or bike lives up to its image, this time taking the life of the Dalai Lama’s nephew, who was walking to call attention to Tibet’s struggle for independence.

Copenhagenize casts a critical eye on the sect of Vehicular Cycling. After an Ontario rider is clipped by a car, the driver intentionally hits him at the next stop light and tells him to move over. A proposal for a 1 meter passing distance brings out the online road ragers. A step-by-step guide for beginning riders. London’s Telegraph offers a rave review of our humble beachfront bike path. Since 2006, more cars than bikes have crossed London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge at morning rush hour. Just three years after spending £800,000 pounds to install semi-segregated bike lanes, Brighton, England proposes spending £1.1 million to remove them. Everyone bikes in the Netherlands, in fact 55% of all bike trips are made by women; turns out it’s also faster. And it’s a myth that other country’s can’t replicate the Dutch success. A New Zealand driver gets 100 hours of community service and NZ$10,000 for each of the three cyclists she killed. Bike Radar busts common myths about tires.

Finally, a Seattle-area cyclist faces charges of malicious mischief after allegedly spitting on, and throwing his bike at, a car whose driver honked at him. And UK authorities show their compassion — or the lack thereof — by billing a cyclist who had the inexcusable rudeness to get hit by a car and survive.

But at least they waited until he woke up from his coma.

* Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You


San Diego cyclist killed by sleeping 77-year old street sweeper

February 13, 2011

Just a week after San Diego cyclist Ben Acree was killed in a highly questionable collision, another San Diego-area rider has been killed in truly horrifying incident.

The still unidentified 44-year old San Diego-area cyclist was riding in a marked bike lane on Genesee Ave near Clairemont Mesa Blvd Drive in the Clairemont neighborhood at about 5;20 pm on Friday. According to police reports, a 77-year old street sweeper operator fell asleep at the wheel, drifted into the bike lane and struck the bike from behind.

Clearly, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Not the least of which is why a 77-year old man was operating heavy equipment like that — in rush hour traffic, no less.

I don’t know if the driver will be held accountable.

But I’m pretty sure the person who put him there should be.

Update: The victim has been identified as Suntat Peverley of Mira Mesa, just north of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. My condolences to his family and loved ones.

And once again, the press feels a need to note that the victim in a bicycle collision was wearing a helmet, as if that means it wasn’t his fault he was killed. What part of he was run down by a street sweeper don’t they get? In a situation like that, a helmet isn’t going to make a bit of difference — and clearly, it didn’t.


Upcoming events — including two you’ll need to hurry for — and some hot weekend links

February 12, 2011

Welcome to an ever-growing list of upcoming events, and a lengthy reading list for the weekend. And yes, this will be on the test.

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Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Unless you read this overnight, it may be too late to make the Tour de Palm Springs, offering five rides of varying lengths from 7 to 9:30 am.

If you hurry, you could still make Chinatown’s Firecracker Bike Ride with 20 and 30 mile routes starting at 9 am; registration starts at 7:30.

Attend a free bike mechanics workshop presented by Bici Digna on Saturday, February 12th at 1 pm at Corazon del Pueblo, 2003 1st Street in Boyle Heights.

Meet CD4 City Council candidate and leading bike advocate Stephen Box from 2 – 4 pm Sunday, February 13 at William Kestling’s Johnstone House at 3311 Lowry Road, Los Angeles.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on February 12th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles invites you to explore the latest offerings from leading European manufacturers on February 17th, 2300 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica.

Celebrate the official opening of L.A.’s first official bike corral on Friday, February 18th in front of Café de Leche, 5000 York Blvd in Highland Park. LACBC, Flying Pigeon and C.I.C.L.E. will all lead a rides to the opening.

UCLA will host a free day-long Complete Streets workshop on Friday, February 25th; participation is open to registered attendees. The workshop will take place from 8:30 am to 7 pm at the Japanese American National Museum at 369 East 1st Street Downtown. Contact d.grantham@ucla.edu to register, or call 310/562-7356.

GOOD is hosting a fundraising party for CicLAvia from 2 to 7 pm on March 5th, at Atwater Crossing, 3229 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles; tickets range from $20 to $500.

Mark your calendar for the next three CicLAvias on April 10th, July 10th and October 9th; if you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again.

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century.

This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place on 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Ride; advance registration is open now.

.………

Alex Thompson says the Mar Vista neighborhood on L.A.’s Westside could soon be a bicycling paradise. LADOT Bike Blog reports on Wednesday’s Council committee hearing on the draft bike plan, while Damien Newton says it was a rocky road getting there; LACBC invites cyclists to help make sure the plan is implemented. The City Maven reports on Thursday’s debate with the candidates for L.A.’s 4th council district, including bike activist Stephen Box and incumbent Tom LaBonge, while Streetsblog looks at the candidates for CD8. The Downtown News says it’s time to move to a life with fewer wheels.

A look at the 7th, and possibly decisive, stage of the Amgen Tour of California from Claremont to Mt. Baldy as well as the final stage in Santa Clarita. Alcohol is the common element in most Santa Clarita bike collisions. CdM Cyclist offers a podcast interview with bike lawyer Bob Mionske. An 18-year old Carlsbad cyclist is seriously injured after running a red light; two drivers narrowly missed him, the third didn’t. San Mateo County will redesign a highway interchange where a cyclist was killed last year; the case has been reopened, but why do these things only get fixed after someone dies? Stats show biking by the Bay could be hazardous to your health.

Ernest Hemingway said you learn the contours of a country best by bike; thanks to the L.A. Times Martin Beck for the link. Oregon considers banning loose dogs in cars that could distract drivers; personally, I find loose women far more distracting. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz mocks bike lanes while cyclists continue to be injured on New York streets, and New York media treat cyclists like bedbugs in need of extermination. Charges have been filed in last year’s fatal 9/11 dooring of a New York cyclist. A Harvard study shows cycle tracks raise the rate of riding while reducing the rate of injuries. Lloyd Lemons offers his thoughts on the freedom, simplicity and solitude of cycling.

We may not be entirely sane, but crazy cyclists are not the majority. Advice on how to avoid five common beginner’s mistakes. Prosecution of a truck driver who killed a cyclist is dropped after police fail to get vital security footage. The UK’s Bike to Work program is getting more people to ride while creating better motivated employees. The road course route for the 2012 Olympics is confirmed; word is it will be technical and tactical, while plans are made for a one-time pre-Olympic race along the course. In a typical day in the Netherlands, 5 million cyclists make 14 million journeys; even more impressive for a country of just 16 million people. Cycling in Sydney is now twice as fast as driving at the morning rush hour. A look at decidedly non-recreational riding in Hanoi.

Finally, framebuilder Dave Moulton entertainingly throws a spanner in the works by looking at the conflicting terminology used in the bike world; part of that can be blamed on the age old problem of two nations divided by a common language.


A hero rides the bus — DWP employee Chris Bolivar stops a thief and saves a $2500 bike

February 10, 2011

Dan McLaughlin at the Tour de Palm Springs with his boss Andy Leeka; Dan is on the left

When Dan McLaughlin rode his bike into work on Wednesday, he never thought it would be stolen before he could get back home.

And he never thought a total stranger would run to his rescue, retrieving the bike almost before he knew it was gone.

According to Dan, he tries to ride his bike into work at least once a week. But the two-hour, 25-mile ride each way to his job at Good Samaritan Hospital is too much to sandwich around a full day at the office, so he usually takes the Commuter Express bus back to his home in Palos Verdes.

Wednesday night, he placed his $2500 Trek Madone in the rack at the front of the bus, and settled in to check his email in the back of the bus.

He barely noticed when the bus pulled over at a Downtown bus stop — it was somewhere on Flower, might have been at Washington Blvd, maybe Pico or Venice. What got his attention was the angry honking of the driver; soon everyone was standing, and someone yelled out “Your bike!”

He looked up to see his handlebars moving out of view through the windshield; by the time he got to the front of the bus, the bike was gone. He could see a young man struggling to hop on and ride it off, possibly because of the clip-in pedals.

As he stepped off the bus, though, he saw someone holding his bike. In the excitement, he ran towards him, only to realize that the man was walking back with it.

The other passengers were more than happy to fill him in.

When the bus stopped, the young man got off and immediately started to remove Dan’s bike from the rack. The driver, Pat Kesvy, started honking to stop him, but the thief kept going.

Thanks to DWP employee Chris Bolivar, this bike made it back home Wednesday

That’s when Chris Bolivar flew off the bus in pursuit of the thief. Bolivar, on his way home from his job with the Customer Service Department at DWP, quickly caught up to the struggling thief, scaring him into tossing the bike aside as he ran off down the street.

Bolivar picked it up and walked back, still shaking from the adrenalin rush.

Dan thanked his rescuer, and placed the bike back onto the rack. As they entered the bus, the passengers broke out in a spontaneous round of applause, applauding again when Bolivar got off at his stop.

And despite all odds, Dan McLaughlin made it home with his bike; as he puts it, it would have broken a roadie’s heart to lose a bike like that.

Meanwhile, one of the other passengers sent out an email telling the story, describing Bolivar as a gentleman who typically gives up his seat when the bus is crowded.

I’m told that email made it’s way to Chris Bolivar’s boss at DWP. And when he arrived at work Thursday morning, his co-workers stood up and applauded, as well.

McLaughlin is planning to take him to lunch next week to show his gratitude.

Maybe we should all thank him, in whatever way we can. After all, it could have been your bike. Or mine. And a total stranger cared enough to keep it safe.

It’s not every day you find a real hero riding the bus.

Update: A couple people have contacted me to point out that Chris Bolivar will honored at this year’s Blessing of the Bicycles at Good Samaritan Hospital on Tuesday, May 17th.

And am I the only one who sees a wonderful symmetry in a good Samaritan being honored by Good Samaritan?


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