A jerk driver nearly takes off a cyclist’s arm, and shows the need to change the law

February 20, 2012

The other night, I watched from behind as a cyclist did everything right. And still was nearly run down by an impatient driver.

I’d already watched as the driver of a Porsche run a red light at Ohio and Veteran, making his right turn without stopping — or barely slowing down for that matter — to end up heading north on Veteran directly in front of me.

He also ended up directly behind another cyclist on the narrow, parking-choked two-lane street.

The rider had already taken the lane, since there was no room for a car and a bike to safely share a lane. Then he put out his left hand to indicate a turn into a driveway — only to find the Porsche already whipping past on his left, on the wrong side of the road, nearly taking his arm off in the process.

Not surprisingly, that hand quickly moved up from its leftward extension into a single-fingered wave in the rapidly disappearing car’s rearview mirror. And couldn’t blame him in the slightest; in fact, it seemed like a rather restrained gesture under the circumstances.

As usual, there was nothing that could be done about it. The driver was long gone before there was any possibility of getting a license number.

And even if either of us had managed to, there would have been absolutely nothing the police could have done. State law bans them from writing tickets or making an arrest for a misdemeanor — which this would have been, given the lack of injury — unless they actually witness the infraction.

Even though they likely would have had at least two witnesses willing to testify.

Like the 85th percentile speed law, which forces cities to raise speed limits to the level dictated by speeding drivers, it’s a bad law. One originally intended to protect motorists from police abuse, but which actually serves to keep dangerous drivers on the street.

And jeopardize everyone else around them.

Then again, jerks like that sometimes get what they deserve; thanks to Rex Reese for the link.

……..

I had to miss Will Campbell’s Watts Happening Ride last weekend.

I’ve found the key to a happy marriage is spending my weekends home with my wife and dog, even when there are other things I’d like to be doing. Like riding my bike while I learned about one of L.A.’s most fascinating and sadly neglected neighborhoods.

Fortunately, Will offers a timelapse recap for those of us who couldn’t be there.

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone that L.A. has lessons to learn from cities near and far. Work has started on the new Sunset Triangle Plaza at the former intersection of Sunset and Griffith Park Blvds. Riverside police shoot a bike riding fugitive. Frank Peters offers a very nice look at his son getting a driver’s license and demonstrating his skills by safely passing a cyclist; definitely worth reading. Family and friends remember the 17-year old cyclist killed last week after riding through a red light. A San Diego professor argues that federal transportation policy can affect public health. A San Diego mayoral candidate wants to make it the nation’s most innovative city — and yes, he supports cycling, even if he is a Republican, Traffic fatalities in Ventura County nearly doubled last year, while cycling fatalities went from zero in 2010 to four in 2011. Lake Tahoe may soon be ringed with bike paths. The author of Boston’s Lovely Bicycle will be riding through Death Valley this March.

Lots of presidents have ridden bikes, dating all the way back to Lincoln, sort of. An interview with bike lawyer and former competitive cyclist Bob Mionske. The rate of Seattle bike crashes hold steady even as ridership rises. The makers of Fat Tire beer team with a local bike trailer maker to help a Boulder food rescue feed the hungry. The rich get richer, as Colorado is building a 63-mile off-road bikeway from Glenwood Canyon to Vail Pass. A Wyoming man is facing three to seven years after pleading No Contest to killing a cyclist while under the influence. Does building a bike culture in Chicago mean things have to get worse before they get better? A Minneapolis bike and pedestrian bridge is out of commission after a cable breaks. Evidently, life is cheap in Wisconsin as a college hockey player gets just 90 days for killing a cyclist by pushing him off his bike, resulting in his death. An Indiana judge reverses a ticket after discovering that bikes aren’t legally considered vehicles in the Hoosier state. A New Jersey driver is under arrest on a charge of attempted murder after hitting a cyclist; no reasons given for the charges yet. Pennsylvania drivers now have to give cyclists a four-foot passing margin — one foot more than the law CA Governor Jerry Brown vetoed. Philadelphia police actually justify putting cyclists at risk by double parking in bike lanes. A look at newly bike-friendly New Orleans; it certainly wasn’t friendly spot to ride when I lived in Louisiana. A Georgia man sues over a dangerous bike path after his mother is killed in a head-on collision with two other riders.

A new northern terminus for the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route tracing the path taken to freedom by escaped slaves during the dark days of American history, now ends in Ontario. Nine cyclists set out from the UK on an unsupported race around the world. Britain’s Prime Minister will hear “radical” ideas for making the country’s streets safer for cyclists; the question is, will he listen? Meanwhile, more than half of all UK residents think the county’s urban areas are too dangerous for cyclists. It certainly was for a former aide-de-camp to the Queen, who was run down by a driver blinded by the sun. A UK driver gets just 18 months for deliberately running into a cyclist and fleeing the scene, leaving the rider in a coma for over six months with two broken legs, a broken arm, cracked ribs, a temporary loss of sight in one eye, and permanent brain damage; call me crazy, but the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. A driver escapes jail for killing a cyclist by barely brushing him; a reminder that any contact by a careless driver can be dangerous. A look at Liverpool’s Ten Minutes of Hell underground time trial. The Belfast Telegraph says it time we learned to love the bike; some of us are already ahead of the curve. The first no-emission vehicle from Porsche has just two wheels. An Indian cyclist is probably paralyzed after a Lamborghini driver loses control at high speed, killing himself and seriously injuring the rider. Chances are your bike wasn’t actually made by the company whose name is on it.

Finally, bike haters have always suspected the bicycle was a tool of the devil; maybe they were right. Or maybe early cyclists only seemed possessed because they suffered from bicycle face. But maybe this is how we really look.


A long and ever growing list of biking events, from a Dim Sum ride to bike lanes on a grand L.A. boulevard

February 19, 2012

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

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

The Culver City Bicycle Coalition invites you for an easy ride with the city’s mayor at 8 am every Monday, starting at Syd Kronenthal Park, 3459 McManus Ave, at the east end of the Ballona Creek bike path.

Flying Pigeon hosts their popular Get Sum Dim Sum ride on Sunday, February 19th. Riders assemble at 10 am at Flying Pigeon, 3714 N. Figueroa ST in Highland Park, with a 10:30 departure time. Single speed beach cruisers are available to rent for $20.

The Slauson Avenue Public Improvements Taskforce will meet on Wednesday, February 22nd to consider a Complete Streets update to one of L.A.’s iconic boulevards — including one option including bike lanes. The meeting will take place at the Exposition Park Constituent Services Center, Administrative Offices East Building, 700 Exposition Park Drive.

Thursday, February 23rd, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership hosts an easy, under five mile ride around Downtown L.A., with a stop for lunch along the way. The ride will assemble at Angel’s Knoll Park at the base of Angel’s Flight in Downtown L.A.; click the link to RSVP.

Also on the 23rd, Cynergy Cycles teams with the Santa Monica Bicycle Center to present a one-night Commuter Clinic to help you learn everything you need to know to bike to work or school. The clinic starts at 7 pm at 2300 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica.

The City of Los Angeles will be hosting a series of four Mobility Think Lab Workshops to help solve the city’s mobility problems, on Saturday, February 25th and Saturday, March 3rd in Van Nuys, L.A. and Pacoima.

The draft bike plan for the County of Los Angeles will face a hearing by the county Board of Supervisors in a public session at 9:30 am on February 28th, in Room 381B of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street Downtown.

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability invites you to participate in Creating a Bikeable UCLA: A Vision for a Healthy & Vibrant Future on Wednesday, February 29th from noon to 2:00 pm at the California NanoSystems Institute Auditorium on the UCLA campus. Registration is free, but limited to people affiliated with the University, and space is limited.

You’re invited to train with the Wonderful Pistachios Pro Cycling team at their official winter training camp March 2nd through 4th in Paso Robles; the cost is a mere $3,000.

Sunday, March 4th, the LACBC rolls out it’s first Tour de Taste, offering an easy, guided 12 mile bike ride along Ballona Creek, as well as food and drinks from some of the area’s best restaurants. The event kicks off at Media Park at the corner of Culver and Venice Blvds starting at 10 am, with rides departing every hour. Cost is $65 for LACBC members and $95 for non-members, with discounted membership and ticket available for $120 (pro tip — become an LACBC member before the 4th and save $20); all proceeds go to create a more bikable Los Angeles. But don’t wait to register, because only 200 tickets will be sold.

Also on the 4th, the OC to LA Dream Ride 2012 will roll from El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana to Lincoln Heights, with a welcoming celebration at Solidarity Ink. The ride celebrates the passage of the California Dream Act while connecting the immigration rights movement with the cycling community.

Thursday, March 15th, support cycling on the Westside with Bikes – Ballads – Beers: A Benefit for the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition from 7 pm to midnight at the Little Bar, 757 S. La Brea.

The 28th Annual Redlands Bicycle Classic will take place on March 22nd through 25th in Redlands, offering one of the state’s most intense cycling competitions, as well as a joyful celebration of bicycling for cyclists of all ages.

If you’re looking for a serious challenge, consider the CORPScamp Death Valley, five days of biking in Death Valley National Park featuring 300 miles or more of riding, including the Hell’s Gate Hundred, March 27th through 31st.

If you enjoyed the last CicLAvia, you’ll love the next one on Tax Day, April 15th from 10 am to 3 pm; the route will follow the same expanded course as last October’s.

It might be worth the long drive to Davis CA for the first ever Legends Gran Fondo sponsored by the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame on May 6th, featuring America’s first Tour de France winner Greg LeMond — the man whose name is on my bike —  as well as former World Champion Ruthie Mathes, Olympic silver medalist Nelson Vails, and other members of the Hall of Fame.

May is Bike Month. The first National Bike to School Day is scheduled for May 9th, with National Bike to Work Week taking place on May 14th through 18th, and National Bike to Work Day on Friday the 18th.

L.A.’s favorite fundraising bike ride rolls out on Sunday, June 10th with the 12th Annual L.A. River Ride; this one just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Six different rides, from an easy family ride to a fast, flat century; more details to come.


It’s our first ever Presidential Weekend bike link clearance — all links must go!

February 18, 2012

Haven’t been able to keep up with this week’s massive amount of bike news. So here’s a hot, steaming mound of delicious bike links to see you through the weekend.

……..

Let’s start with today’s most popular item.

A French cyclist set a new age-group record for one hour cycling. No big deal, except it came 86 years after he lied about his age to enter his first cycling event — at the tender age of 14.

That makes Robert Marchand 100 years old when he rode 15.1 miles in 60 minutes on a track in Aigle, Switzerland recently.

As Velonews points out, it does not threaten the record of 30.1 miles set by Ondrej Sosenka in 2005. But it did motivate the UCI to establish a new 100-plus age category.

And yes, I want to be just like him when I grow up.

Thanks to Evan G. for the heads-up.

……..

Satnam Singh, the driver charged with the murder of Ventura cyclist Nick Haverland, entered a plea of not guilty to second-degree murder, felony drunken driving, felony hit and run, and misdemeanor hit and run, as well as two counts of inflicting great bodily injury.

……..

A British bus driver is sentenced to 17 months in jail for using his bus as a weapon when he deliberately ran down a cyclist he’d argued with moments earlier, in a horrifying wreck captured on a nearby security camera; his victim credits his helmet for saving his life. Thanks to Erik Griswald, Richard Risemberg and Stanley E. Goldich for the tip.

……..

A couple of noteworthy CHP reports today courtesy of Cyclelicious, as a bike rider reported a car stuck in the trees after seeing it come off the 405 near Carson — not off the exit ramp, but over the side of the freeway.

And a classic definition of a SWSS (Single Witness Suicide Swerve), as a Riverside cyclist is accused of intentionally turning into a vehicle in order to get hit.

Yes, they’re finally on to our evil plan to get ourselves killed in order to collect the insurance money.

……..

An Occupy 90210 rider is hit by a car in Beverly Hills; the aftermath is caught on video as fellow protesters press for information and flirt with the police. Downtown’s Spring Street green bike lane gets extended to Venice Blvd, but may lose it’s hue, which turns out to be not so Hollywood friendly; the LA Weekly never misses a chance to unfairly bash bicyclists. Here’s your chance to influence the city’s new Transportation Master Plan. LAist looks at the LACBC’s upcoming Tour de Taste; if you’re thinking about going, move fast because only 200 lucky ticket holders will get to attend — and once it’s sold out, you’re SOL. Santa Monica may roll out new bikeways sooner than planned. If you’re hit by a car while riding drunk, don’t try to fight with the paramedics who are trying to help you. Rolling Hills Estates considers a 1.3 mile bike lane along Palos Verdes Drive, as residents rail about the risks posed by out-of-town bicyclists; thanks to Jim Lyle for the link. A recent Long Beach transplant offers a video love letter to her new bike-friendly hometown. Alhambra’s proposed bike plan moves forward. SF Gate reviews the new book Hollywood Rides a Bike by Steven Rea; you can meet the author in Pasadena on Saturday.

Bicycling offers their take on the 100+ best rides in California. Frank Peters predicts the future in Newport Beach. A former Orange County postman and Klan member once held a bike speed record; maybe that robe and pointy hat were surprisingly aero. OC residents prematurely protest a planned expansion of the Santiago Creek Bike Trial. The 13-year old cyclist seriously injured in a Santa Ana hit-and-run has forgiven the driver who hit her; at 13 she’s already a better person than I will ever be. A bad week for San Diego cyclists continues with a Thursday hit-and-run that left a rider severely injured. Bicyclists in San Diego can Ride the Boulevard on Saturday. A 73-year old cyclist rear-ends a CHP patrol car in Cambria. Berkeley bicyclists are now part of the second city protected by an L.A.-style cyclist anti-harassment ordinance; we’re still waiting for that first test case here.

War vets plan a nearly 4,200 mile cross country bike ride to draw attention to veterans issues. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposes requiring automakers to stop electronic distractions from working while the car is moving; with a platform like that. why isn’t he running for President instead of those other guys? Did a federal prosecutor whitewash the Lance Armstrong case, or is Lance just too big to fail? Fat Cyclist features a guest writer who lost a whopping 364 pounds on his bike. Maybe it’s time to rebrand bikes and buses. A car site offers drivers 10 rules for coexisting with bicycles. Is big oil afraid of bikes?

Someone tries to nail Oregon bikes, literally. If you already have two outstanding warrants, maybe you shouldn’t ride your bike with meth in your sock. A world-class women’s bike race will be revived in Idaho. If you’re riding with drug paraphernalia, maybe you should replace your burned out headlight after the first six times you get stopped. Your next bike could have an automatic transmission, courtesy of students at my hometown university. Chicago’s WGN claims more than 1,000 people died in Illinois in the last year as a result of distracted driving; a little odd, since only 927 people died as a result of traffic collisions in that state in 2010. A New York driver who fatally doored a cyclist, then left the scene, will face charges — for driving with a suspended license, with a maximum sentence of 30 days; this is what passes for justice in Gotham? Then again, there’s no justice for pedestrians in NYC, either; what the hell is wrong with the NYPD? Maybe the reason is New York police will only investigate collisions if someone is killed or likely to die — and issues more summonses to cyclists than truck drivers. Ex-framebuilder Dave Moulton suggests killing someone shouldn’t be just a whoops-a-daisy. Writing for The Atlantic Cities, Sarah Goodyear says the city needs a version of their famed “Broken Windows” approach for traffic crimes. A 70-year old cyclist looks back on a lifetime of riding; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. When you’re riding with cocaine in your wallet, make sure you have a light on your bike — and don’t fight the cop who stops you.

Vancouver vigilantes battle bike theft with GPS-enabled bait bikes. A writer for London’s Independent writes about ghost bikes, but clearly doesn’t get it. Cyclists will be riding ‘round Parliament in protest on Wednesday. How cycling went mainstream in today’s London. Do bike safety campaigns do more harm than good? Uh, no. Make that hell no. A road raging driver head-butts a bicyclist in Bristol. Edinburgh cyclists get on-street bike lockers. Biking is just a little different in the Scottish countryside. An Indian court rules that dangerous drivers should see no mercy in case involving a bus driver who ran down a cyclist; is it too late to move to Delhi? The bike movement continues to spread as Jakarta plans 50 kilometers of new bike lanes.

Finally, a Gainesville City Commissioner evidently fears the local police will be threatened by Spandex-clad cyclists with plastic tire levers. And courtesy of frequent contributor George Wolfberg, why drivers may not see you; George was also — quite deservedly — named Pacific Palisades Citizen of the Year for 2011, and should be every other year, as well.

And in non-bike news, my dogsled racing brother and his team get stomped by an angry moose; fortunately, neither man no beast was seriously injured.


Are we failing our young bike riders?

February 17, 2012

I recently received a link to an online story in which a driver threatened to kill cyclists.

Or more precisely, he was afraid that he might.

The link came from David Huntsman, a lawyer and fellow bike advocate from Newport Beach, who was naturally outraged at the writer’s auto-centric windshield perspective.

My name is Nick Scholz, and I’m going to kill you.

Now, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with you guys. Heaven knows there are few groups more organized or zealous than outdoor bicyclists. Believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish to kill you. I’m not going to narrow my eyes and rev my engine menacingly at you. I don’t count the cyclists I crash into with notches on a special stencil on the side of my car.

Rest assured: if I kill you, it will be by accident.

His argument is that cyclists need to choose.

We can ride on the streets and be treated like other road users. Or we can ride on the sidewalks and be treated like pedestrians.

To the casual observer, it would appear that most of you are positively suicidal. It looks like you have chosen my car to be the Chariot of Fire that whisks you away to the Hereafter. Sadly, that moniker will probably become truer than you could know as your carbon-fiber bicycle gets stuck in my engine chassis at 50 miles per hour.

But, even sadder is the fact that this is not a suicide. Nor a murder. This is merely a tragedy that can  be avoided if only the cyclists will decide whether they are pedestrians or riding a vehicle.

Problem is, he has a point.

Our roads, and the laws that govern them, operate on the principle of predictability of movement. In other words, road users need to know whether other road users are going stop or proceed through the intersection, turn or go straight, and who has the right of way.

That’s why we have stop signs and red lights, are expected to signal, and yield to other road users when they have the right of way and we don’t.

It’s not perfect system.

It doesn’t take into account that cyclists are neither motorists or pedestrians. Or that it doesn’t always make sense for us to stop at stop signs when there is no conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

But it’s the system we have right now. And drivers need to know what we’re going to do in order to avoid a collision, which they don’t want any more than we do.

Even if they don’t always obey the law themselves.

And the consequences can be devastating.

Just this week, two SoCal cyclists were killed after reportedly riding through red lights.

In one case, the rider may have been trying to beat the light, and could have fallen victim to a short yellow on a wide intersection, which didn’t give him a fighting chance to get all the way across the cross street before cross traffic started.

In the other, a young rider on a fixie, apparently with no brakes, rode into a busy intersection without stopping and was hit by two cars in rapid succession.

Let’s be honest.

It’s one thing to roll through a stop sign, just like virtually every driver does. Slow down, look in every direction, and if — and only if — the way is clear, you can usually proceed without posing any unnecessary risk to yourself or anyone else.

Bearing in mind, of course, that you’re still breaking the law.

But red lights are another matter.

I’ve been roundly criticized in the past for criticizing riders for running red lights. But the fact is, there is no rational excuse for failing to stop when required at a signalized intersection.

It’s the law. It makes all of us look bad when one us of doesn’t, as far too many drivers lump everyone on two wheels together and seem to lack sufficient discernment to make the mental calculation that just because one cyclist — or a hundred cyclists — break the law, that doesn’t mean we all do.

Let alone that most of them routinely break the law themselves, even as they swear at us for doing it.

And don’t give me the excuse that it’s safer than waiting at the intersection. I’ve been stopping for red lights for over three decades, and I’m still here.

It’s just a matter of knowing how to do it.

And as this week’s deaths make painfully clear, failing to stop is dangerous as hell.

Not to mention that if you do get hit after going through a stop sign or red light, you lose all liability protection — regardless of what the driver who hit you may or may not have been doing.

Go through a stop, you’re at fault.

Case dismissed.

It may not be fair. The driver could have been drunk or distracted, speeding or breaking the law in some other way. But none of that will matter to a jury.

As far as they’re concerned, you broke the law, it’s your fault. Period.

Some would even go so far as to consider a cyclist who ran a red in traffic suicidal.

And it certainly seems that way at first blush. Even riders who routinely go through reds usually know enough to stop, or at least slow down, when cars are coming.

But what if they don’t?

What if an inexperienced rider gets in over his or her head, trying to make it across a busy intersection he should have stopped at. Or finding himself riding too fast to stop, on a bike with no brakes, when the light changes with too little warning.

Even experienced riders make mistakes. It’s easy to get in over your head, make the wrong decisions in rapidly changing traffic conditions or overestimate your own skills.

It’s even easier for in experienced riders.

It took me years, if not decades, to master the Tao of riding on busy roads. And even then, I still make mistakes; fortunately, I’ve had the skills to get myself out of it.

So far, at least.

Beginning riders don’t.

Unlike when I grew up, there’s no training in bike laws and riding skills in our schools. There’s no official training programs for beginning cyclists, or any other established method of reaching out to young riders to say do this, not that.

Like don’t push the limits and get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of. And maybe it’s not smart to ride with no brakes, even if that is the trendy thing to do these days.

Instead, they learn by emulating their friends, who may have been riding longer, but have no more knowledge of even the most basic traffic laws than they do.

We assume that everyone is familiar with traffic laws because they’ve taken their test and gotten a driver’s license.

But many young riders — and even some older ones — don’t have a license, whether by choice or some other reason. And so they may have no working knowledge of the laws that govern our streets.

I’ve spoken with some who didn’t have a clue that their right to the road is governed by the same laws that restrict motor vehicles.

They actually don’t know that bikes are required to stop for stop signs and red lights, just like cars. That they have to signal their turns, even though many other cyclists and most drivers don’t. Or even that they’re required to use lights at night or to ride with traffic, instead of making their way up the wrong side like salmon on their way to spawn.

And we all know what happens to salmon once they spawn, right?

Because no one ever told them.

They haven’t been taught the laws that govern cycling because no one bothered to do it. And in that, we, as a society and a cycling community, have failed them.

Many motorists think the solution is to license and register cyclists, just like drivers are. I won’t waste your time explaining why that’s not the answer; others have made the same points before, anyway.

Maybe there should be some sort of state or school-sponsored bicycle certification training. Maybe riders should get a discount on car insurance or bike parts if they complete one or more of the League of American Bicyclist’s training classes.

Maybe it’s up to our local cycling groups to step into the breach and offer rider education; the LACBC recently voted to reestablish its Education Committee in an attempt to address this problem.

Or maybe its up to you and me to offer advice, even unsolicited, when we see a rider doing something dangerous. Even though experience says the response will be made with just one finger, or its vocal equivalent.

I don’t have the answer. I just know that we need to find it.

Because right now, too many beginning riders are forced to figure it out for themselves.

And failing.


San Diego cyclist killed; second Southern California fatality in just two days

February 16, 2012

Another day, another Southern California cycling fatality.

For the second time in just two days, a SoCal cyclist has been killed in a motor vehicle collision, as a 20-year old bike rider died after being hit by two cars on Wednesday.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north on 61st Street at Imperial Avenue in the Encanto area around 3:05 pm when he hit by an eastbound car and knocked off his bike. He was then run over by a second eastbound vehicle and trapped underneath the car, where he died.

Police report that he ran the red light, and that both drivers remained at the scene and cooperated in the investigation. Comments on the UT story suggest he was riding a fixed-gear bike; no brakes are visible in the photo.

This is the seventh traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego County.

It’s also the second bicycling death in two days in which the rider is accused of going through a red light.

If you don’t learn anything else from reading this, remember this: Yes, you should always stop for every red light. But if you insist on running reds, never, ever go through a light when there are vehicles coming on the cross street.

You might as well be playing Russian roulette.

My deepest sympathy to the victim’s family and friends.

Update: Comments to the UT story indicate the victim was Francisco Porras; one comment identifies him as 17-years old instead of 20. Unfortunately, his Facebook page is private, but it does show him with the same bike shown in the news photos.

According to a comment that appears to have been left by his mother, he was a “lovable, courageous and responsible young man” who took care of his family and planned to enter the Marines after high school.


Breaking News — Cyclist killed in Irvine collision

February 14, 2012

This is exactly what I was afraid of.

Maybe it was the distraction of Valentines Day. But there was an unusually high number of bicycling collisions reported over the weekend, continuing through this morning. And sooner or later, it’s almost inevitable that one  or more of those collisions will turn out to be life-threatening.

That’s exactly what happened today, as a 28-year old cyclist died as a result of a Tuesday morning collision in Irvine.

According to the Orange County Register, Christian Rhineer of Irvine was hit by a Volvo Sedan at the intersection of Von Karman Avenue and Michelson Drive just before 8 am. He was taken to Western Medical Center with severe injuries, where he died at 6:30 pm.

The 26-year old driver remained at the scene. It was unclear who had the right of way; no one was arrested or cited at the scene.

And yes, the Register notes that the victim was not believed to be wearing a helmet; whether it would have done any good under the circumstances is not clear. Hopefully, we’ll get more details later.

This is the sixth traffic-related cycling fatality so far this year, and the second in Orange County; a third Orange County cyclist died of natural causes after a fall while mountain biking.

My sympathy and prayers for Rhineer and his family and loved ones.

Update: An anonymous source confirms that Rhineer was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. And thanks to Vinh Nguyen for the heads-up on the Register story.

Update: Comments to the original article in the OC Register from a man who claims to be a witness indicate that Rhineer ran the red light. In addition, he was reportedly wearing headphones, which is against the law in California; a single headphone in one ear is allowed, but not in both while riding.

People who knew Rhineer describe him as a great guy and former Mormon missionary who recently moved to Irvine from Salt Lake City along with his wife.

Bear in mind, though, that witness reports can be wrong, and comments on internet news stories aren’t always true. When I was injured in a road rage collision, a supposed witness lied to the police to make it look like I was at fault — even though the way he described the events was physically impossible.

There’s no reason to suspect that the witness in this case isn’t telling the truth, but take all unconfirmed reports with a grain of salt.

Thanks to ValleyBall1 for the tip.

……..

On a related note, the driver who ran down a 13-year old girl in Santa Ana earlier this month, leaving her bleeding in the street as he fled the scene, has finally turned himself into the police.

According to KABC-7, the family of Arif Abdul Sattar convinced him to turn himself in after seeing news reports, along with his admission that he may have been in a collision.

Don’t expect me to get all teary eyed because he did the right thing. The right thing would have been to stop at the scene and try to help the little girl he nearly killed, rather than run away like a coward before surrendering to the police over a week later  — after retaining an attorney, of course.

Fortunately, his victim, Teresa Pham, is recovering and has been released from the hospital. Let’s hope she continues to improve.

And that the man who put her there gets the justice he so richly deserves.


A fresh new batch of hot bike links to start your week

February 12, 2012

Grab a cup of joe, limber up your link-clicking finger and settle in for a little Monday morning reading.

The petition drive to get SCAG to increase funding for SoCal bike projects is nearing the deadline; have you signed yet? The Slauson Avenue Public Improvements Taskforce will meet on Wednesday, February 22nd; this is your chance to argue for bike lanes and a more human scale for one of our city’s great boulevards. Cynergy is offering a bike commuting clinic in conjunction with the Santa Monica Bicycle Center. There’s less than six weeks until the 28th Annual Redlands Bicycle Classic. Get ready for 300 miles of epic Death Valley cycling. Family members sue UC Santa Cruz as a killer bike path goes unrepaired. A 64-year old San Simeon man is killed near Cambria; police say he was hit at 60 mph as he stood next to his bike on the side of the highway. Mark your calendar for the first ever Legends Gran Fondo sponsored by the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis. The SF Gate says the U.S. House was wrong to eliminate funding for Safe Routes to Schools, and that the House Transportation Bill was hijacked by Republicans “locked in a pave-and-drill mentality of the 1950s.” Well said.

Drivers work about two hours a day to pay for their cars; cyclists work about 3.5 minutes a day to pay for their bikes. Seattle man gets off a bus, hails a cyclist, punches him in the face and rides off on the other man’s bike. A bike thief is busted by a little cooperative effort by Moots bikes and bike shops in Golden CO and Pittsburgh PA. My old hometown has come full circle in supporting cyclists; I’m still waiting for their call offering me the bike coordinator’s job. A Michigan cyclist is cited for not getting across the intersection before the light changes, even though the driver who hit him admits not seeing the bike directly in front of her. Little 500 teams compete to convert pedal power to electricity. A Texas cyclist argues against bike lanes, citing the dangers posed by cars, doorings & buses; aren’t those the exact reasons to build them? Preserving a historic bridge while making it more fit for humans. The death of his cyclist brother turned a Charleston lawyer into an advocate for bike riders. A South Carolina cyclist is killed as he’s turning his life around.

Cerebral Palsy doesn’t stop this UK man from riding, so what’s your excuse? The head of Scotland Yard’s Road Death Investigation Unit says current penalties for dangerous drivers are too lenient — and killer motorists should face up to life in prison. Advice on avoiding the door zone. A British MP warns about the dangers of Lycra Louts. After breaking our hearts with allegations of doping, tarnished legend Jeannie Longo is set to retire, a few years too late. An Australian Parliament Member wants to triple the fine for dooring. A New Zealand man wants to form a human chain to force participants in the annual World Naked Bike Ride off the road and into the ocean. A New Zealand bike safety advocate says bike helmets aren’t fit for the purpose they’re intended. Tokyo police have issued 10,000 warnings for violating the city’s new cycling regulations.

Finally, Bicycling reminds us about Wham-O’s long lost Wheelie Bar; when I was a kid, everyone had one of these, or wanted one. And the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain offers another of their typically great blog roundups, authored by my favorite London expat Scottish bike blogger.


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