Questions in the Silver Lake shooting death of Manuel Santizo, and lots of weekend links

April 30, 2011

Questions are being raised in the death of Manuel Santizo, the cyclist who was fatally shot in Silver Lake after being bumped by a car.

According to the Eastsider LA, Northeast Division homicide detectives say that while the suspects are believed to be gang members, there is no evidence that Santizo was involved in a gang.

“There is no indication that Manuel was a gang member. Nothing, nothing at all,” (homicide detective P.J.) Morris said.

The Eastsider LA adds that police are questioning something that had sounded odd to me in the original reports.

Also, Morris is puzzled by the fact that the shooters took the time to run down Santizo’s bike before opening fire. In most drive-by shootings, the suspects waste no time in firing their weapons and then fleeing from the scene. “It’s not indicative of a [typical] gang, drive-by shooting,” Morris said.


The rider killed in a solo bike collision in Coachella last week had been identified as 63-year old Nemesio Herrera of Coachella.


Witch on a Bicycle switches from confirmed vehicular cyclist to segregated infrastructure supporter, but warns that bad bike infrastructure is worse than no bike infrastructure.


Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu looks at the Grand Opening of Long Beach’s protected bike lanes. LADOT Bike Blog looks forward to Bike Week. New lights come to the L.A. River Bike Path. Metro bike maps are making their appearance at local train stations. An Indian cyclist passes through the Valley on his way around the world to call attention to the environment. SoCal AAA offers their advice to motorists and cyclists on how to share the road together. A 10-year old Altadena boy is okay after being hit by a car in a SWSS.* When a horse is killed by an out-of-control car, no one says it shouldn’t have been on the road. Long Beach is hosting a meeting on the city’s proposed new bike plan on Tuesday.

Sometimes, bike safety progress comes in baby steps. A Newbury Park woman has ridden over 4,000 miles for charity. Best of luck for two UC Santa Barbara cyclists who have qualified for the National Championships. Bakersfield’s Bike Festival takes place in two weeks; and yes, I have walked those very streets. The latest nuptial trend is bike weddings, including this one at L.A.’s Mormon Temple. A 12-year old Modesto girl is in grave condition after being hit by a car. A Redwood City cyclist is beaten up in a 7-Eleven parking lot in a road rage dispute. Once you’ve downed a pint or two down, your risk of a bike crash goes up — as a Tulare rider just learned.

After getting hit by a car, a Kingman AZ teenager is cited for riding on the wrong side of the road and not having brakes on his bike. In a case that doesn’t quite add up, a 78-year old Missouri cyclist is killed when he runs into a Highway Patrol car parked on the side of the road; aside from the question of why he couldn’t see it, it would seem to require traveling at a surprising rate of speed. A Portland, Maine paper reports that a five-year old boy was injured when he collided a dump truck; no hint of press bias there. A New Hampshire woman moves to San Jose by bike. After the NY Post’s latest anti-bike diatribe, the paper publishes some voices of reason. New bike lanes are about to bloom in Philadelphia. Delaware tells cyclists they’re riding the wrong way. The Maryland Department of Transportation says cyclists are just being safe, not arrogant. A Georgia cyclist faces a charge of vehicular homicide a year after his alleged failure to yield causes the death of a motorcyclist; I wonder how many drivers have faced similar charges after cutting off bike riders? A Florida pastor plans to bike 1500 miles to New York to raise funds for Haiti.

Tips on how to bike commute safely. Large trucks continue to take their deadly toll on UK cyclists. A UK man is arrested for a drunken bike ride through the local supermarket in a chicken suit. The Dutch didn’t always ride like the Dutch, which gives hope to Dubliners, as well as the rest of us. Taylor Phinney’s hard-luck freshman year on the pro tour continues, as he crashes in the Tour de Romandie, shattering his bike but finishing on a spare. Bangalore University works to become bike-friendly through the country’s first university bike share program. A 10-day bike race wraps up in Ho Chi Minh City.

Finally, in an absolutely astounding case, after a Lancaster driver is stopped at a DUI check point, police notice his state of intoxication, as well as the fresh blood on the bumper of his car — and trace his route back to find a dead pedestrian lying on the side of the road.

*Single Witness Suicide Swerve

San Diego cyclist shot and killed in National City area (updated)

April 30, 2011

It’s happened once again.

Early Friday morning, 21-year old Jordan Hickey was shot and killed while riding his bike in the Lincoln Acres neighborhood of National City, just southeast of downtown San Diego.

The shooting occurred at 12:30 am on the 2800 block of Grove Street. When police arrived, they found Hickey lying on top of his bike, fatally shot at least once in the upper body. No explanation yet on the motive for the shooting.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s department at (858) 565-5200, or the homicide detail at (858) 974- 2321.

Remarkably, this is the third fatal shooting of a cyclist in Southern California this year, and the fourth since December.

Update: According to the Union-Tribune’s Sign On San Diego website, Hickey did not drive due to developmental disabilities, and rode his bike everywhere. He was returning home from visiting his girlfriend, and was just minutes from the apartment he shared with his mother and brother when he was shot. 

“He was just at the bottom of the hill,” his mother said. “He was almost home….”

She said her son “lived in his own world,” and was kind and caring. “He did not believe me when I told him that there are people in the world who would hurt you,” said Hickey, a single mom who has raised her sons on her own.

The story quotes his uncle, John Hickey, describing Jordan as artistic and gentle, someone who “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

John Hickey said he was angry that this could happen to his nephew, who “never smoked, never did drugs, never drank” and who had “no malice toward anybody.”

Authorities still haven’t identified a motive; it doesn’t appear that he was robbed, and unlike the other recent bike-related shootings, there doesn’t appear to be any suspicion of gang violence.

Volunteers needed for Culver City bike count, and jam-packed bike weekend

April 30, 2011

Volunteers are needed for a bike count in Culver City next month.

As part of the Culver City Bicycle and Pedestrian Initiative, Culver City, the Culver City Bicycle Coalition, and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition will be conducting bicycle and pedestrian counts this May.  The last time counts were done was in 2009, so we need to get out there and document the changes.  Come join us and help Culver City become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly!

The counts will be held Wednesday, May 11th at 7 to 9am and 4 to 6pm and Saturday, May 14th from to 12 to 2pm and two volunteer training workshops will be conducted the Sunday afternoon (May 8th at 4pm) and Monday evening (May 9th at 6:30pm) at the Culver City Senior Center. It is really important that everyone attend one of the trainings as it’s where we’ll be passing count forms, providing you with location details, and making sure we’re all on the same page about how and what to count. Workshops will take about 1 hour to complete.

Volunteer Training Workshops:
When: Sunday, May 8th 4pm and Monday, May 9th 6:30pm
Where: Culver City Senior Center
Bicycle and Pedestrian Counts:
When: Wednesday, May 11th from 7 to 9am and 4 to 6pm and Saturday, May 14th from 12 until 2pm. 
Where: Sign up to volunteer and find out!!!
Please email either the Culver City Bicycle Coalition –
or Alexis Lantz at LACBC –


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

A bike ride will be held on Saturday, April 30th, to honor 17-year old German Alex Romero, who was killed by a speeding hit-and-run driver in Canoga Park last week. The ride will begin at 6 pm at the Reseda Orange Line bike path, ending at the crash site at De Soto and Valerio; participants are urged to wear white. Donations are being accepted to benefit Romero’s family at JB Bike Shop, 21527 Sherman Way.

Attention Boss fans — take in select screenings of the new Bruce Springsteen documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town at a Laemmle Theatre near you, and half of all ticket sales will go to benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition; screenings take place on Saturday, April 30th, Sunday May 1st and Monday the 2nd.

Sustainable Streets and Transition Culver City will be hosting a Confident City Cycling course for adult riders. The two-day course is intended to help bike riders gain the confidence and skill to ride a bike safely and legally in city traffic. The $75 course is limited to 12 people, and takes place Saturday, April 30th and Saturday, May 7th at 10 am to 2 pm at Linwood E. Howe Elementary School, 4100 Irving Place in Culver City; preregister at

Join Bikeside for Le Tour de Green Gardens, a tour of sustainable eco-friendly gardens on Saturday, April 30th, as they participate in the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase; meet at 11 am at 3141 Greenfield Avenue.

Also on Saturday, April 30th, the Conejo Valley Cyclists presents Cruisin’ the Conejo, offering rides from 21 mile to a 101 mile route that follows last year’s final leg of the Tour of California. The ride begins at the Skyworks parking lot located at 2504 W. Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks (aka Newbury Park);register online through April 28th.

The Dana Point Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, May 1st, featuring a .8 mile criterium; the start/finish will be located at the intersection of PCH and Del Prado in Dana Point.

If you can’t make it to Dana Point, don’t miss the May edition of the LACBC’s Sunday Funday Rides, with a tour of historic Northwest and Northeast L.A.; riders assemble at the Echo Park Boathouse at 9:30 am on May 1st.

Also on Sunday, May 1st, the Tour de Cure Ship to Shore rolls across the Vincent Thomas and Gerald Desmond bridges, starting from the Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway in Long Beach. Routes range from 8 to 100 miles, as well as an 11-mile route ending with a harbor cruise back to the starting point; in addition to the entry fee, riders are required to raise a minimum $150 in donations to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Thanks to GVDub for the reminder

Monday, May 2nd, Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets is sponsoring a free Bicycle Commuter Tips Workshop from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Sycamore Room of the Pacific Park Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave in Glendale. Topics include planning your route, what to do with work clothes, how to carry things and basic gear.

The BPIT (Bicycle Plan Implementation Team) will conduct its next monthly meeting at 2 pm on Tuesday, May 3rd in room 721 of the Downtown City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street.

Wednesday, May 4th, Glendale Transportation Management Associates and the LACBC team to host a free lunchtime Pre Bike to Work Expo at the courtyard between 400 and 450 North Brand Boulevard, from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

The Antelope Valley Conservancy sponsors the 16th Annual Antelope Valley Ride on Saturday, May 7th with rides of 20, 30 and 60 miles; check-in begins at 7 am at George Lane Park, 5520 West Avenue L-8 in Quartz Hill.

Also on Saturday, May 7th, celebrate the intersection of art, the environment and bicycling at the 20th Anniversary Santa Monica Fest, offering free admission, parking and bike valet. A special bike zone includes bike repair and maintenance advice from the Bikerowave, a Bike Learning Area sponsored by the City of Santa Monica Planning and Community Development, a Bike Exhibition with Santa Monica Spoke and a Ticket to Ride from the Santa Monica Museum of Art. It takes place from 11 am to 6 pm at Cloverfield Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica; free bike valet at 25th and Ocean Park.

Meet the members of Team HTC-Highroad before they compete in the Amgen Tour of California when Cynergy Cycles sponsors An Evening in Fast Company on Monday, May 9th from 6 to 10 pm to benefit the Right to Play organization. Your $100 donation includes dinner, drinks, raffle and gift card; 2300 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica.

Also on Monday, May 9nd, Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets sponsors a free Basic Bike Repair Workshop from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Auditorium of the Glendale Central Library, 501 S. Pacific Ave in Glendale. Topics include planning your route, what to do with work clothes, how to carry things and basic gear.

On Thursday, May 12th, there will be a party  to benefit the California Bicycle Coalition and preview the new state-of-the-art Bike Stations at Bikestation Long Beach, 211 E. 1st Street at the Promenade in Long Beach, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

The annual Long Beach Bicycle Festival takes place on Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th in Downtown Long Beach. The festivities include the Tour of Long Beach on Saturday, May 14th with rides of 4, 31 and 61 miles to benefit Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.

Saturday, May 14th, Streetsblog LA will host a pre-Bike Week Westside Ride to the Venice Pier starting at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 11555 National Blvd, at 10:30 am.

Also on Saturday, May 14th Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets is sponsoring a free 12-mile Ice Cream Ride as part of the city’s Bike Month, beginning and ending at the Colina Drive entrance to Verdugo Park. Riders meet at 1 pm and set off at 1:30; minors must be accompanied by adults, and participants should bring money to purchase ice cream.

For riders unafraid to venture behind the Orange Curtain, Bike Newport Beach is sponsoring a Family Fun Ride on Sunday, May 15th beginning at 8 am at the Oasis Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Avenue in Corona del Mar.

Also on Sunday, May 15th, the Pasadena Marathon takes to the streets of the City of Roses, including a 5:45 am bike tour before the runners hit the pavement. Riders and runners start and finish at Pasadena City College, 1570 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91106; thanks to Louie for the heads-up.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city.

  • Bike Week opens with an 8:30 am Monday, May 16th Kick-Off Event at the North Hollywood Metro Station
  • This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place from 8 to 9:30 am on Tuesday, May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street.
  • Ride with other cyclists through the streets of Downtown on Wednesday, May 18th; riders meet at 8 am at Union Station on Alameda Street
  • Bike to Work Day takes place on Thursday, May 19th, with morning pit stops throughout the greater Los Angeles Area, as well as a handful of Bike from Work happy hours; Metro is also looking for Bike Buddies to guide inexperienced cyclists to work.
  • Friday, May 19th is Bike to School Day

CICLE will celebrate Pasadena’s Bike Week with two special events:

  • Monday, May 16th is Bike Film Night with Streetsblog LA joining CICLE to present a series of Streetfilms and discuss how those lessons can be applied to Southland streets; 6:30 P.M. at Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena.
  • The Mayor’s Ride & Family Night will take place on Tuesday, May 17th from 5:30 to 8 pm at Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield; join with Pasadena mayor Bill Bogaard and other local officials at a family-friendly event to promote bicycle as a safe and sustainable transportation alternative.

The San Diego Century ride takes place on Saturday, May 21st with rides of 37, 66 or 103 miles, starting in Encinitas, along with free admission to an expo featuring sports, local cuisine and live music.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on Sunday, June 5th with the 11th Annual River Rideadvance registration is open now. Volunteers are needed now and on the day of the ride, email for more info and to sign up.

If you can make it up to Sacramento on Sunday, June 12th, Ride4Matt is sponsoring a charity ride to benefit Matthew Wietrick, who was seriously injured while riding last February. Choose from routes of 10, 35 and 70 miles, with a $7 BBQ lunch after the ride; donations gratefully accepted.

Flying Pigeon Bike Shop will host a fundraising bike ride to benefit Streetsblog LA on Friday, June 17th, beginning and ending at Flying Pigeon, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park; ride meets at 6 pm, with party to follow at 8 pm.

The next two CicLAvias will take place on July 10th and October 9th; anyone who was at the one last Sunday probably doesn’t need a reminder to mark their calendars.

Tuesday, August 30th, Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse will host a benefit night for Streetsblog LA; 5% of all food and drink purchases will benefit Streetsblog; 2911 Main Street.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th, unless you happen to be an observant Jew, since it falls on Yom Kippur this year.

Accused killer of Jim Swarzman arraigned in San Diego, currently facing relative slap on the wrist

April 29, 2011

The accused hit-and-run driver charged with killing Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman has pleaded not guilty in San Diego Superior Court.

According to multiple reports, Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was arraigned Wednesday on a single count of hit-and-run causing death.

That’s it.

No charges for DUI charges or killing another human being, whether carelessly or deliberately. Just running away like a coward and leaving a crumpled body behind.

Fernandez faces up to four years for taking the life of another human being – less than Dr. Christopher Thompson received for attempting to injure two riders in Mandeville Canyon.

Hopefully, the case is still under investigation; it’s always possible that additional charges may be added later.

The description of the collision suggests that the driver was either asleep or extremely drunk when he hit Swarzman, as witnesses reported the truck drifting from lane to lane before swerving over to hit Swarzman’s bike.

Witness descriptions also suggest that the driver was fully aware that he hit something, despite Fernandez’s reported comments when he turned himself into police that he thought he may have hit something over the weekend.

By all accounts, the collision was extremely violent. People on the scene, including Swarzman’s fiancé, say his bike exploded on impact and that he was hurtled through the air before crashing to the roadway; the driver then sped away from the scene.

And yes, Swarzman was riding exactly where he should have been on the roadway, and was lit up like a Christmas tree in the North County San Diego darkness.

It plausible that Fernandez was so drunk — or yes, so tired — that he couldn’t remember it the next day.

But I find it impossible to believe that he did not know, at the moment of impact and the minutes that followed, that he had hit someone or something, and made the decision to run away rather than stop and be held accountable for his actions.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if Fernandez had been drinking. My speculation — and at this point, that’s all it is — is based strictly on the late hour and the witness descriptions of the truck’s actions before and after the collision.

Although if I had to make a bet, I’d lay everything I own on it.

And that shows the failure of our current laws regarding hit and run. As it now stands, California law actually encourages drivers to flee the scene if they’ve been drinking, because the penalties for drunk driving are much stronger than the penalties for hit-and-run.

If he was in fact intoxicated, the smartest decision Fernandez made that night — as least as far as his legal prospects are concerned — was to run away until he could sober up, then turn himself in once the booze and/or drugs were out of his system and a DUI charge was off the table.

And that has to change.

At last report, Fernandez was still being held on $100,000 bond. His next scheduled court appearances are a readiness conference on May 5th, and a preliminary hearing on May 10th in the San Diego Superior Court, North County Regional Center, case number CN290834.

I’m not mad yet. But I’m getting there.

Correction: Originally, I had written that Fernandez had pleaded guilty. That was a typo; the plea was not guilty, as I’ve corrected it above. Thanks to Dj Wheels for the catch.

Hollywood blocked bikeways may be common, but not legal; moving story on fallen cyclist Alex Romero

April 29, 2011

It something we’ve all gotten used to living here in the greater metaphorical Hollywood.

And something we shouldn’t have to.

If you’ve ridden much around this city, chances are, you’ve found your way blocked by a movie crew, TV set or a commercial photo shoot at some point, forcing you to wait until the scene or shoot is over.

Or maybe you’ve run into my pet peeve — movie crews parked along the side of the road, with orange safety cones placed in the middle of the bike lane to protect their precious trucks from passing cyclists, forcing you out into traffic with little or no warning.

And often as not, with no legal basis.

Take the photo shoot Todd Munson encountered on his way home last week on the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

They were set up near the eastern end. When I rolled up they had a scrim set up that was a good 10 feet high and as wide as the path. Because of it, I had to come to a full stop and announce my presence before they even noticed I was there. Based on how “fashionable” they all were I’m guessing they came from the nearby Smashbox Studio.

When I realized how much I was “hassling” them by having to move their equipment to make some room, I asked if they had a permit for the shoot. Everyone just sort looked at each other and mumbled incomplete sentences. The guy who was apparently in charge was the one covering his face in the first photo. The amazing thing to me was that nobody including him was at all apologetic. The best they could do was “Hey man, we didn’t think anyone would be here.” And a couple of them even tried getting tough.

The other funny part was that girl in the red shirt in photo number 3 asked that I not take anyone’s picture.

Good times.

Problem is, unless they did have a permit, what they were doing was completely illegal. Section 21211 of the California Vehicle Code reads:

21211.   (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting, or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist.

But it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to prohibit parking or placing anything on the bike path that would block it, as well.

(b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

Of course, there are additional subsections specifying a handful exceptions, none of which apply in the situation Munson encountered. Or to the overwhelming majority of cases you might encounter that would delay your ride more than a few moments.

Then there’s the matter of blocked bike lanes.

As we’ve discussed before, bike lanes are considered traffic lanes by the LAPD, just like the larger lanes to their left. And just as it’s illegal to block any other traffic lane, it’s against the law to block a bike lane — whether with trash cans, orange cones or double parked vehicles.

The question is whether L.A.’s favorite industry enjoys a special exemption when it comes to their trucks.

The afore mentioned Mr. Munson, who seems to be having a rash of bad luck with this sort of thing lately, reached out to myself and Tony Arranaga, who works in the office of 11th District Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, after a recent encounter with bike lanes blocked by a movie crew on San Vicente Blvd in the Brentwood area.

Tony was kind enough to connect us with Geoffrey Smith, Director of Community Relations with FilmLA Inc, the agency responsible for overseeing the massive amount of filming that takes place in this city on a daily basis.

Once again, I’ll let Todd explain the situation:

The specific incident I encountered occurred in Brentwood along San Vicente last Thursday morning (3/24). A film production had vehicles parked on both sides of San Vicente near the golf course and had laid out large cones along the respective bike lanes.

The cones were placed on the outer edge of the bike line cutting down its width to the point that it was no longer safe to use. Any cyclist who chose to stay in the bike lane was faced with a lose-lose situation as they were forced to ride dangerously close to parked vehicles. Should a door swing open or a crew member walk out from between the vehicles, the tightly spaced cones to the immediate left eliminated any chance for a safe escape.

The only option for a cyclist wishing to avoid this mess would be to exit the bike lane and ride in traffic. This option was equally undesirable and dangerous as motorists tend to treat San Vicente as a mini freeway- especially during the morning rush hour.

Attached is quick diagram I made with the help of Google Street View illustrating the dangerousness of the situation.

To reiterate what Ted stated, those cones served no functional purpose other than creating a life-threatening situation for cyclists. Should the status quo be allowed to remain, it’s not a matter of if but when a deadly accident will occur.

That drew the following response from Smith, who answered promptly the next morning:

1)      No, the company should not have put cones in the bike path. It seems that the Transportation Captain was perhaps a little overzealous in trying to let everyone know that there was a trailer parked on the street. Why he felt that the general public would fail to see a trailer 8’ wide by 7’ high will undoubtedly remain a mystery.

2)      Yes, a company can close a bike path BUT, it requires submitting a traffic plan to DOT, showing what alternate route(s) are being created, via cones, barricades, signage, so that bicyclists are not forced into traffic. DOT has to approve of the closure before it will be allowed.

3)      As an FYI, FilmL.A. is 24/7. If you should run into this situation again, PLEASE call us 213/977.8600 ASAP. Let us check and see a) if there is a permit and b) if they have a closure of the bike path.

4)      I am also annoyed if they were parking on both side of San Vicente. Parking on the north side is not allowed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m putting that phone number in my speed dial.


Dj Wheels, who has been very busy keeping up with local bike-related criminal cases lately, shares the news that 19-year olds Patrick Roraff and Brett Morin will face trial for the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in Highland one year ago.

Roraff and Morin were allegedly street racing at around 70 mph when Roraff lost control and hit Alvarado, who died on the side of the road, far from his family and friends in Mexico.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the two will be arraigned on May 12th on a single count each of vehicular manslaughter.


Chances are, you’ve never heard of the San Fernando Valley Sun. But maybe you should.

Once again, they’ve written movingly about the death of yet another teenage Valley cyclist murdered by a hit-and-run driver.

Just six months ago, it was Danny Marin*; this time, it’s Alex Romero, run down by a speeding driver on De Soto Avenue in Canoga Park last week.

Consider the heart-rending pathos in the first paragraph alone:

Tomorrow, April 29, Maria De La Paz “Pacita” Romero will have to find the strength to bury her teenaged son. “Empty. I feel empty,” Maria said as she attempts to describe the loss of her son, German Alex Romero, a 17-year-old promising soccer player whose life was tragically cut short last week when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Canoga Park.

Remarkably, Romero’s family doesn’t bear any animosity towards the still unidentified driver; his mother saying “God bless him” of the man who killed her son.

The family would also like Romero’s death to serve a positive purpose. Their desire is for new bicycle markings to be placed on the street where he was killed, as well as additional lighting, a traffic light and cameras.

“We would like Alex’s sacrifice to be worth something,” Fuentes said. “He came to this earth for 17 years to give light to everybody, motorists and bicyclists, so that we may be more careful to make ourselves aware of everybody who’s on the road.”

Seriously, stop whatever you’re doing, and take just a few minutes to read a very well-written story about the massive hole a heartless driver has left in what appears to be a remarkable, and remarkably forgiving, family.

But don’t be surprised if you find a few tears in your eyes before you’re done.

*Unfortunately, the original Sun story is no longer available online.


Finally, the LACBC reports that the peak hour restrictions limiting bikes on Metro trains have been lifted, effective immediately. While the bike ban has been widely ignored in recent months, the action of the Metro Board means you can now take your bike on any Metro train, any time, to any destination.

As train cars come in for servicing, they will have seats removed to create additional standing and storage room to provide more space for bikes, as well as other large objects such as strollers and shopping bags.

Arrest warrant issued for Long Beach fire captain in drunken hit-and-run

April 28, 2011

Around 1 pm on April first, 47-year old Jeffrey Gordon was riding his bike on Westminster Blvd east of Bolsa Chica Street in Long Beach.

A moment later, he was sailing 70 feet through the air after being hit from behind by a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Long Beach fire captain John David Hines.

Rather than stop and render aid as he is trained to do, Hines fled the scene as witnesses chased after him begging him to stop. They followed him to his home in Huntington Beach where he was arrested by the police, who allege that he looked drunk and had a strong odor of urine on his clothes.

The Belmont Shore – Naples Patch reports that Billy Chisholm was a passenger in one of those pursuing vehicles.

“I was sick to my stomach the whole time,” Chisholm recalled. “He just hit him and left him to die like he was a skunk in the road. He had to have known he hit him because his truck was all busted up. That was a human being he left there to die. It’s not right.”

Then again, maybe its a good thing he didn’t try to save Gordon’s life; with a blood alcohol level of .24 percent — virtually the same level as Marco Antonio Valencia showed when he killed Joe Novotny — he probably would have done far more harm than good.

And he’d already done more than enough harm behind the wheel.

Hines reportedly spent the morning drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before driving down to Seal Beach. That’s where he allegedly drifted into the bike lane and struck Gordon’s bike from behind, then sped off without ever hitting his brakes or slowing down.

Not surprisingly, an arrest warrant was issued for Hines on Wednesday.

According to the Huntington Beach Independent:

John David Hines, 38, is charged with one felony count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more causing injury and hit-and-run with injury, according to a release from the district attorney. He also faces sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury and having a blood alcohol level over .20%.

Fortunately, Gordon survived the collision, despite spending two weeks in the hospital with severe injuries ranging from head trauma, severe lacerations and bruising to his head and body, to internal injuries and spinal and vertebrae injuries. However, he reportedly continues to suffer limited mobility, and speech and memory loss.

Hines faces up to six years and eight months in prison if convicted. According to the Times, he is still being sought by police on $250,000 bail; it’s possible that he may have entered rehab in an attempt to get leniency from the court.

The only real difference between this case and that of Valenica — who faces 24 years to life in prison after being convicted of 2nd degree murder and felony hit-and-run while intoxicated on Wednesday —  is that Hines’ victim survived, while Valencia’s didn’t.

Thanks to master wrench Chris K for the heads-up.

Breaking News — Marco Antonio Valencia guilty on all counts in murder of Joseph Novotny

April 27, 2011

According to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, a San Fernando courthouse jury has found Marco Antonio Valencia guilt on all counts in the drunken, hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny.

Valencia now faces 15 to life for a conviction on 2nd degree murder, as well as 24 to life due to special circumstance enhancements on the charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Wheels notes that Valenica’s two priors for driving while intoxicated may lead the judge to impose a stiffer sentence, on the higher end of the sentencing scale.

Sentencing scheduled for Thursday May 26th, at 8:45 am in Department C of the San Fernando courthouse; the D.A. will reportedly contact the other victims as well as Novotny’s family so they can be present for the sentencing.

Evidently, there was no question about guilt, as the jury deliberated for just 1 hour and 20 minutes before reaching a verdict. Novotny’s mother has been following the case and may have been in the courthouse for the reading of the verdict, before being taken to see the route Novotny rode and the scene of the collision by members of the Santa Clarita Velo Club.

Valencia was convicted on five of the original nine charges, after four lesser charges involving two of the other injured cyclists were dropped for unknown reasons.


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