A poignant and angry remembrance of a fallen cyclist, and a tale of justice denied

November 4, 2012

Yesterday, I received the following email from a reader named Kate.

In it, she describes a death of a dear friend in a San Bernardino County cycling collision two years ago today, and the apparent lack of justice that followed. Which may sound familiar if you’ve followed the case of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado and the two drivers charged with his death.

She hadn’t intended to make it public; she just wanted to vent her frustration and anger.

But I thought she had something important to say. So I asked for her permission to share it with you, which she graciously granted.

I am writing to you because Sunday, November 4th is the 2 year anniversary of the death of a dear family friend, Lynn Pletcher.  He was killed in Cherry Valley while riding in a bike lane with two other buddies.  Lynn was 70. He was fit (he had completed a 400-ish mile ride across Oregon for his 70th birthday a month prior). He was experienced and extremely safety conscious. He was a husband, father of two, grandfather of 2 (now 3).  Lynn was a retired educator who was very active in the local Rotary Club.  He was also my parents’ next door neighbor for almost 20 years, and my father’s closest friend. http://www.swrnn.com/2010/11/06/bicyclist-killed-in-beaumont-identified/

I know this is not current cycling news, but I guess I just want to vent my frustration about how this was handled. I know you don’t print names or details that aren’t already known, and I’m not looking for that.  I just want to vent.

The man who killed Lynn was never named publicly.  The man who killed Lynn was never charged with anything.  It took the cops more than a year to complete their accident report, and then it was determined that the accident was Lynn’s fault, and that the skid marks showed that he was out of the bike lane when he was hit.  The two men (one a retired postal worker and one a retired physician) who were riding with Lynn didn’t see the accident, as Lynn was last in the pace line.  Lynn was hit from behind, so regardless if he was in the lane or out of it, he was still rear-ended. The bike lane in that particular spot is 6 feet wide, wide enough to ride two abreast if you wanted to, and still be well within the lane. Rumor had it that the guy who hit Lynn was somehow connected to law enforcement, and even that he may have known the cop who came to the accident scene. He had a cell phone in his hand when he got out of the car. I heard this from Lynn’s family, but you can see that there are others out there who heard the same info. http://www.myvalleynews.com/story/52256/ .

The guy who killed Lynn got away with everything. He was never named publicly, never reported in the paper or online, he was never charged.  He never had to face Lynn’s family.  He declared bancruptcy to avoid any kind of law suit. He kept his house. The only thing he has to do is make a monetary contribution to the scholarship fund set up in Lynn’s name.  He writes the check to Lynn’s wife each month.  So far he has made 10 payments, as it took that long to get the final police report, and determine what the penality (if any) would be.  At least he has to think about Lynn every month.  Lynn’s sons are both attorneys, and after having other attorneys look over the case, they were told that based on the evidence, Lynn was most definitely not at fault, but that fighting the system would be expensive, lengthy, and likely a losing battle, so his sons and his wife opted to have the donation made to the scholarship fund each month. They are tired and sad, and don’t want to pursue anything else, which I understand and respect. Lynn’s family has been through so much in the last 2 years, they are glad the checks have been coming regularly so far, but wonder how long it will last.

Sunday will come and go, we wil leave flowers at Lynn’s ghost bike and on his grave, then we will go to lunch with his widow and one of his sons.  His killer might watch football, maybe he’ll work an extra shift and get paid overtime, maybe he’ll spend the day with his family.  Lynn no longer has that option.  I am disgusted at the how this was handled.  I am angry at the lack of accountability.  I am outraged at the blue wall protecting their own.

I will continue to read your blog faithfully, although, I have to say, some days I just want to put my bike in the garage and forget about it. Nope. I won’t let the morons of the world dictate what I do, and I will continue to do my small part to spread awareness when I can.

Thanks for listening,

Kate


Ride this Saturday to benefit injured cyclist Russell Moon; trial begins in DUI death of Nick Haverland

November 2, 2012

I received an email today from Dan Weinberg of Helen’s Cycles, announcing the Russell Moon Ride this Saturday to benefit a mountain biker who suffered a life-changing injury last year.

He makes a compelling case for why we all should participate.

So I’ll let Dan tell the story.

RUSSELL MOON RIDE

7:30 AM, Saturday, November 3, 2012
Ocean Ave & San Vicente Blvd, Santa Monica

Overview

Just over a year ago, Russell Moon was returning home from a mountain bike ride when a driver turned directly across his path and made contact. Russell sustained a serious spinal cord injury and is now a quadriplegic.

Prior to his life-changing injury, Russell had a thriving dental practice and taught dentistry at UCLA. He now focuses on his recovery participating in intensive physical therapy throughout the week.

Russell loved cycling, not only for the fitness benefits, but because of the sense of community it exuded. This non-competitive ride is the opportunity to ride for Russell, and honor his love for cycling.

Russell climbed effortlessly and was a confident descender. Whenever he sees his cycling friends he often says goodbye with the accompanying request; ‘Ride for me’.

All participation fees and additional donations will go directly to Russell for physical therapy and rehabilitation. If you can’t participate in the ride, please sponsor someone who is riding or you can donate here. Thank you.

Course Description

The 62-mile course will start at Ocean Ave and San Vicente Blvd at 7:30 AM on Saturday, November 3rd and take PCH to Encinal Canyon Rd, we will then take a right on Decker, then a left down Mulholland and back on PCH, to the original starting point. Click here for route map.

Helen’s Cycles will provide food and water the top of the 5.9-mile climb located at Decker Canyon Road and Mulholland Hwy.

If you choose not to climb, you can ride on PCH to Trancas Canyon Rd (at the west end of Zuma Beach) and return for a total of 41 miles.

Russell Moon will be at the end of the ride from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

The plan is for Russell to be on hand at the end of the ride at Ocean Ave and San Vicente Blvd. You will have a chance to give him encouragement and acknowledge his courage over the past year.

Registration
$25 donation on line.
 
Day of Event Registration
7:00 AM at the start of the ride – Ocean Ave and San Vicente Blvd, Santa Monica
$25 cash or check.

Registration & donations

Course map

………

Satnam Singh, accused of killing Ventura cyclist Nick Haverland in a drunken hit-and-run collision spree, is finally on trial. Singh had a BAC of .39 when he was arrested at his home, nearly five times the legal limit. And he was involved in another drunk driving collision just three months before killing Haverland — even if he tried to blame it on his wife.

Hopefully, he’ll get the sentence he deserves following his conviction, which seems inevitable.

………

Sigh.

Try as I might, I just can’t manage to ignore the whole Lance Armstrong doping scandal. Bicycling says even if he did dope — or maybe, even though he doped — the penalties imposed in l’affaire Lance may have broken the rules. Red Kite Prayer offers a 23-year trail of ignored clues that Lance was dirty, and suggests that the real hope for cleaning up pro cycling may come in the form of a reporter’s lawsuit.

………

Maybe we got his attention, as Calbike says Mayor Villaraigosa is ready to try one more time to get a three-foot law passed. Streetsblog looks at UCLA’s new bike box. LADOT Bike Blog reviews last month’s BPIT meeting. Bikerowave hosts a class on basic bike fit on the 18th. Better Bike comes out against Measure J. Will Campbell plays leapfrog with a safe and courteous Dash Bus driver, while Boyonabike! offers tips on bike commuting. Santa Clarita launches a new bike website; we’ll know they’re serious about cycling when they link to this site, right?

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition offers an in-depth look at OC bike injury stats. You don’t expect good things to appear at midnight on Halloween, but the sharrows on the coast highway in Corona del Mar may be the exception. Two-thousand cyclists are expected to participate in Oceanside’s Bike the Coast Ride this weekend. San Diego could get reverse-angle parking spots to improve driver visibility and eliminate dooring. If you want to ride on Edwards Air Force base, you’d better wear a helmet — and be prepared to yield to any motor vehicle, whether or not you have the right-of-way. A 12-year old Santa Cruz rider is intentionally doored on Halloween night. A San Francisco cyclist is wanted for a violent assault on a Muni station agent who tried to stop him from bringing his bike into the station.

Three ingredients for a world-class bicycling network from People for Bikes. Slate says riding with headphones is incredibly dumb. For once, AAA offers motorists good advice on how to drive around cyclists and pedestrians. Good infographic on the nation’s first protected bike lane in NYC. Great series of photos on bicycling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Wall Street Journal says novice New Yorkers are dusting off their bikes, while the NY Times observes it’s an effective way around the post-hurricane traffic mess; now the city just has to keep everyone riding once things improve. And even gas station owners are telling people to try bikes.

Ottawa considers lowering the speed limit on a dangerous roadway to protect cyclists, and confronts the classic conflict between bike and pedestrian advocates and city planning engineers; seems like every city eventually has to fight that battle. An RAF pilot says maybe that driver really didn’t see you. A UK rider punches another cyclist after they collide in a tunnel. If you think you have it rough, try biking in Yemen.

Finally, a Bakersfield driver was twice convicted of DUI and arrested at least three times for driving with a suspended license — yet remained on the road to kill an 18-year old driver on Monday.

And it turns out the bike wasn’t stolen, but the rider was wanted — and carrying nearly 10 grams of drugs.


Memorial ride for fallen Newport Beach cyclists — and a fundraising drive for bike safety

October 11, 2012

I’ve often heard that Newport Beach is a dangerous place to ride a bike.

That was driven home when two cyclists were killed less than 24 hours apart last month, as nutritionist Sarah Leaf was killed by a right-turning truck, and Dr. Catherine Campion-Ritz died in a hit-an-run as she was riding in a bike lane with her husband; a suspect has been charged in her death.

That’s why I’ve been following reports that the city was planning a memorial ride for the two cyclists later this month.

And more importantly, raising funds for safety improvements, with Newport Beach matching any money raised on a 3-to-1 basis — and our friend Frank Peters of cdmCyclist pledging the first $10,000.

I’ve been waiting for full details, which entered my inbox tonight in an email from April Morris, who gave me permission to share it with you.

I am one of the volunteers (and a cyclist) helping organize the Newport Beach-sponsored Memorial Ride on October 28, 2012. The ride starts at 8 am and it is open to riders of all levels, since it is only 1.2 miles. It will be a processional-paced ride to honor those who have fallen as well as those who survived collisions. As you probably know, in September 2012 within 24 hours two cyclists (women) were killed on the streets of Newport Beach from automobile collisions. A third woman (within a 3 day period) was critically injured. Three incidents in three days is just too much for our cycling community to sit still for.

The cycling community is up in arms and wants change. We want to be viewed as a cohesive group and part of the solution to the problem. I, and Joan Littauer, volunteered on behalf of all of our cycling brethren to help the city organize this Memorial Ride. A large attendance at this ride is important. We want the city to see how large our numbers are (the Mayor and several councilmen will be present).

Subsequent to these three collisions, we have pressed the City to start making advancements in bicycle lane improvements – since cyclists from all around So. Cal use the Newport Beach streets on their routes. We are pleased to report that as of last night, at the City Council Meeting, the City of Newport Beach agreed to match all of our funds raised, $3 to $1, up to $450,000 specifically for Bicycle Safety Improvements. This means if we raise $150,000, the City will put in $450,000 giving us $600,000 in the fund.

A special fund has been established by the City so that any donations are tax deductible. Can you help us spread the word about the ride and the need to generate $150,000 so that we can get ALL of the $450,000 matching funds for bicycle improvements? We have a website established for the ride with information on our fund raising activities: www.NewportBeachMemorialRide.com

Thank you so much for any help you can give us in publicizing the Memorial Ride and giving information on the fund raising element.

If you live or ride in Orange County, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning; you can go to brunch, catch the game or attend church to repent your failings afterwards.

Or a better cause to donate to, since the life you save may be your own or someone you love.

It’s definitely worth a few bucks if you’re on a tight budget, or more if you’re not. And maybe it’s time for bike-friendly businesses and wealthier riders to step up and make a donation big enough to make a difference.

Update: I’m told an unofficial ride with follow the official memorial ride, taking a longer route to visit the sites of local collisions that have left riders dead or seriously injured, as well as the site of the upcoming CdM sharrows on PCH.

………

One other quick note.

I’ve been busy curating LA Streetsblog this week, which has kept me too busy to ride as I’ve done my best to keep up with two busy blogs. And Thursday is my last day as guest editor for new father Damien Newton, since I have a prior commitment on Friday.

But there’s one more project waiting in the wings. Or actually, in the corner of my office where the bikes sleep.

Sometime in the next week or two, I’ll be writing a review  at the request of Critical Cycles, makers of a solid and surprising affordable single-speed/fixed gear bike.

And no, I won’t be riding brakeless.

Not me.

Not ever.

This…

Turned into this… (Note the hand brake on the handlebars)

Which, with a little effort — and an old water bottle cage — turned into this.


Could extra bright lights save the lives of SoCal cyclists?

October 5, 2012

A few months back, Mark Goodley nearly lost his life in a left hook while riding in Corona del Mar.

Since then, we’ve exchanged a few emails as he continued to recover from his injuries and return to riding. Most have focused on the subject of safety, and how to keep more riders from suffering his fate. Or worse.

Lately, he’s settled on a bold campaign to put multiple bright lights on the backs of bikes to demand attention from motorist, and overcome the common SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You) excuse that too often serves as a Get Out of Jail Free card for killer drivers.

To be honest, I can’t say I agree with the approach, for a number of reasons. But I thought it was worth letting Mark explain his program and let you decide.

……..

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride Ultra BRIGHT, Day AND night

I’m not going to get into the political/legal quagmire and entanglement of the who’s right and who’s wrong debates… I AM going to try and make a strong case for how you can greatly increase the odds of NOT being killed (or seriously injured) while riding your bicycle in our streets.

TODAY/ NOW; we will determine and ENGAGE; the quickest, cheapest, and most effective solution to avoid the horrific carnage of cycling’s fatality collisions… This letter applies to both cyclists and drivers. Today… not days, weeks, months, or years into the future… Everything else can/will come with time… safer roads, better drivers, smarter cyclists…

But we’ve GOT to start stemming the tide against the collisions, fatalities and injuries, NOW, TODAY…

I’m becoming more and more convinced, with each day, that the only expedient, practical, affordable, and immediately effective means to reduce the terrifying carnage on our streets is for cyclists to “Ride Ultra BRIGHT, DAY and night.” That is, ride with Multiple Ultra Bright FLASHING LED lights, DAY and night… This is not the ‘ole’ school’ approach of which I have been a staunch advocate in the past. But you’ve got to ask yourself a very real and important question: “which is more important, to look cool or stay alive?” The older (and wiser) we get, the more the response sways to the latter…

It is said that a smart man learns from his own mistakes… while the brilliant man learns from the mistakes of others… So PLEASE, PAY ATTENTION.

BRIGHT FLASHING LED lights are highly visible a minimum of 200 yards away during the DAY TIME! That’s TWO Football fields away… allowing ample time for a driver to spot, identify, move and avoid a cyclist... that’s many, many seconds of time to react, rather than mere fractions of a single second for a driver to see, and avoid YOU which is often otherwise the situation… IMPORTANT Note: Almost EVERY single driver interviewed by the police after a bicycling fatality makes nearly the same exact statement:I never saw them”… (I would add…until it’s too late)… This is no coincidence as we’ll see below. I am absolutely convinced that most often they are telling the truth.

If we want to be completely honest, ALL of us drive comatose at times, our IQ’s barely register, and what is EQUALLY true, is that often times cyclists ARE literally invisible; we’re in the dark shadows of tall trees on bright sunny cloudless days, riding directly into a sunrise/sunset, behind a wall or building, hidden amongst  the cars and trucks in traffic, etc… Combining these two factors together in any proportion is a recipe for DEATH. Half of the world’s population has a below average IQ, increasing a drivers reaction time.  (This is not being rude, nor a sociological commentary, but a simple statistical fact). The visual cortex is in the back of the brain, not the front, where it really should be, also lengthening response time. Our eyes’ pupils take a long time to adjust to changing light and dark conditions…. MOST drivers that hit cyclists are not bad people, they ARE human. You get the point… We, as cyclists MUST help them see us.

What’s the answer?

Ultra BRIGHT FLASHING Lights provide and communicate an effective Early Warning Defense System to the driver, giving them time to adjust to our presence. It also subconsciously tells the driver that “we care about our own life and welfare,” a surprisingly powerful and real human response/reaction.

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride ULtra BRIGHT, DAY And night… Attach at least three Flashing BRIGHT LED rear lights to you and your bike… Why three? That is the minimum number of distinct reference points in ‘space’ that our brain’s visual cortex needs to quickly and immediately “lock on” to detect distance, direction and speed… There is no time consuming overhead for the brain to waste many seconds triangulating a position or calculating paths, direction, speed, etc… as with a single point source for example. Why lights on the rear? Because hit from behind collisions outnumber all other fatalities 2-1, and we have to start somewhere. Would it be best to mount more on the front for example? Certainly; but START somewhere.  I recommend starting with one on the seat post, one on the left seat stay, and one on your person, the left jersey pocket if possible.

When you go fishing, do you fish with a dark black lure, or do you use a BRIGHT FLASHING LURE?  Imagine ALL drivers are just stupid fish, you have to get their attention first, to avoid you…

Ask yourself, why are ALL government/city trucks required by law to have multiples of flashing lights?  And THEY’RE HUGE TRUCKS… not easily missed relatively small cyclists…

So far I have only been able to find one rear hit, fatal collision accident (the jury is still out as the  Freedom of Information Act info trickles in) where a rider was hit from behind while cycling with light(s) ON (I don’t yet know  the brand/model)… (That was Danae Miller on San Joaquin, Newport Beach, last year). Therefore the overwhelming number of fatalities have happened WITHOUT Multiple FLASHING Lights ON… We had two in one weekend here last month! That seems VERY IMPORTANT to me…

Helpful Tips; Light Selection 1. If you can look directly at a flashing light at arm’s length, it’s NOT BRIGHT enough. 2. Get rechargeable batteries and you will quickly form the habit of always turning them on without worrying about “wasting them”… (Costco sells cheap packs). Isn’t your life and health worth more than a package of batteries? (I did it too).

Personally, for the moment, I’m not trying to change the roads, laws, public mindset, driver/cyclist education or habits, etc… and I really don’t care who’s at fault… (from personal experience, I can say with some assurance, that no one lying in the street in their own blood does)… for the moment, I’m trying help you save your own life and that of your family and friends… by preventing horrible accidents like mine… today/now!… and this “solution” clearly seems to be the lowest hanging fruit that’s quickly reachable…

Sometimes, “Might IS RIGHT,” and 2,000-10,000 pounds of hard, fast moving steel is ALWAYS going to be “right” against a cyclist.

Until we live in a perfect world, with perfect drivers, and on perfectly designed and built roads, this is the BEST, EASIEST, FASTEST, and CHEAPEST way to push and skew the odds HIGHLY in your favor.

Keep the rubber side down.

Ciao,

Mark

Note; I was in a near fatality accident on PCH in Corona del Mae three+ months ago, which was outlined in this blog. I ride about 10,000 miles/year, mostly with my wife on PCH. I went to France to see my first TdF in 1976. We’ve ridden stages of all three Grand Tours. I’ve been hit and thrown in Huntington Beach.

Professionally, I am an industrial product designer and teach design/engineering at IVC, but I am also a licensed USA Cycling Pro Race Mechanic and serve on the local Amgen Tour of California Stage Planning Committee in charge of the VIP tents. I studied pre-med at USC with one of my majors being Bio-Psychology, today’s topic.


Guest Post: Urge Gov. Brown to protect your life by signing a law promoting use of safety cameras

September 26, 2012

Los Angeles turned off its red light cameras last year, opening the door for scofflaw drivers to blow through red lights when there’s not a cop around.

There were a lot of reasons for that decision, including a lack of enforcement that made payment of fines just this side of voluntary. As well as accusations that they were used to fill city coffers, rather than actually improving safety. 

A new law sitting on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that could change that. 

All he has to do is sign it to make it law. Then again, he doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to signing traffic safety bills.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is asking you to sign a letter today urging Gov. Brown to approve the bill before it dies on his desk in a pocket veto at the end of the month.

After all, a cyclist who runs a red light might get himself killed.  But a red light-running driver could kill you. Or someone you love.

I’ll let them explain.

……..

The Traffic Safety Coalition, a national not-for-profit grassroots organization with a chapter in California, is encouraging biking advocates to sign a letter to Governor Brown in support of Senate Bill 1303 (“SB 1303”), legislation that has passed both chambers of the California legislature and is currently awaiting his signature before the end of the month.  If the Governor does not sign the bill within the next 5 days, the legislation is vetoed and will not become law.

SB 1303 reforms the use of traffic safety cameras (more commonly known as “red light cameras”) to encourage a focus on safety as a reason to use cameras rather than other motives.  The letter can be viewed and signed on the Coalition’s website at www.trafficsafetycoalition.com/caletter.

As you will read in the letter, for a number of reasons SB 1303 is a step in the right direction for the dozens of communities across the state that use traffic safety cameras to effectively and efficiently enforce our most basic traffic safety law – red means stop.   The bill does a few things:

  • It requires communities to make decisions about the placement of cameras for the right reasons – i.e., for safety reasons only and not for purposes of generating revenue.
  • It makes it easier for people to get cleared of wrongful tickets
  • It promotes transparency and public awareness by implementing strict signage requirements requiring the posting of signs alerting drivers of photo enforcement technology within 200 feet of an intersection

As municipalities across California continue to struggle with budget cuts, enforcement of basic traffic safety laws often must take a back seat to serious crimes and other community safety matters.  Through photo enforcement, local law enforcement has a tool that can help ensure traffic safety while law officers spend their time on more pressing matters – and the numbers prove photo enforcement is effective.

More than 50 communities in California currently use traffic safety cameras to make their roads safer.  For example, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal red light running crashes are down 62% in San Diego, 55% in Bakersfield, 53% in Sacramento, 44% in Santa Ana, and 34% in Long Beach.  All of these are well above the 24% average reduction in fatal red light running crashes in 14 of the largest cities in the U.S. using cameras.  In fact, studies show that between 2004 and 2008 over 150 lives were saved in those cities thanks to cameras, and a startling 800 more lives could have been saved had every large city in the U.S. been using them.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is proud to work to support this technology with more than two dozen bike and pedestrian advocacy organizations across the country.  Our partners include the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Ride of Silence, California Bicycle Coalition and California Walks.  In addition to supporting the use of safety cameras, the Coalition has worked with its partners to support 3-foot passing legislation and Complete Streets bills.

The effective use of safety cameras isn’t just a matter of catching drivers who break the law.  It’s also about deterring the illegal and dangerous behavior that puts cyclists at risk every day.  On your bike, you aren’t protected by a steel shell when someone runs a red light.  Consider signing the letter to urge Governor Brown to do the right thing and help keep California roads safe for everyone.


Cyclist suffers shuttle van hit-and-run on PCH; more on the two cyclists killed in Newport Beach

September 18, 2012

Sometimes bad news is good.

Or at least, not as bad as it could have been. Because last weekend’s three cycling fatalities could have easily been four.

Cristin Zeisler was riding on PCH last Saturday morning when she was hit by large passenger van that kept going after knocking her off her bike.

We’ll let her tell the story.

The details of my accident are as follows: I was riding north on PCH on Saturday 9/15. Around 9am, as I approached the Porto Marina turnout, a large passenger van/shuttle hit me as it passed. I was thrown over the handlebars and landed primarily on my left shoulder (although my head, hip, and knee also took some of the impact). The van’s rear wheel missed running over my head by no more than 6 inches. I remained alert and vigilant throughout the impact and aftermath. I attempted to make note of the van’s license plate or other identifying marks, but it did not stop or slow at all so I was not able to get any details.

I’ve searched dozens of Google images to try to find a photo that matches what I saw. I haven’t found a perfect fit yet. The attached image comes is closest I’ve found so far — however, “my” van looked a little “older” and I believe it was only 5 windows long (not 6) and that the frames around the windows were white, not black.  Also, the back portion of “my” van had an advertising billboard type of thing below the window, on its lower half. I have no idea what it was an ad for, but the main colors I remember from it were blue and green.

A girl in the Marina Porto parking area saw me hit the ground and she came over to check on me and call 911 and she stayed until the police and EMS arrived. I did not get her name or number, but the officers on the scene seemed to talk with her at length while the EMS guys were checking me out. I assume the on-scene officers got her info.

I was transported to UCLA via ambulance. About 45 mins after I got to UCLA, another officer (Yoon) came to interview me and he issued a little tiny form (sort of like a receipt) to let me know that a felony hit and run report was filed. I have not yet followed up to get a copy of the “full” report yet.

Thankfully, despite suffering a broken clavicle — and a busted bike — Crisitin is relatively okay.

It could have been a lot worse.

She thinks she was hit when the van gave her far less than three feet passing distance, sideswiping her as the driver tried to slip by.

That’s something that would have been clearly illegal if our governor hadn’t vetoed last year’s three foot passing law. Let’s hope he has enough sense to sign this year’s version, before more cyclists are sent to the hospital, or worse, thanks to his pen.

And let’s find the driver who ran her down so he — and the company he or she works for — can be held accountable.

………

The Daily Pilot offers a nice look at nutritionist Sarah Leaf, who was killed by a right-turning truck while riding in Newport Beach on Friday. Photos on the Orange County Bicycle Coalition website show a young woman with a lovely smile; maybe if the driver had seen that smile — let alone her bike — he might not have run her over.

Meanwhile, the paper remembers Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz, also killed while riding her bike over the weekend, as a caring and well-respected physician.

“Dr. Kit Campion was a warm, engaging leader, respected and loved by her patients, physician colleagues, nurses and health-care professionals throughout Orange County,” said Diane Laird, CEO of Greater Newport Physicians, which has more than 550 members. “She worked tirelessly to ensure that members of all the communities we serve had access to the best health care.”

The Daily Pilot also confirms that she used her maiden name professionally; she was reportedly riding with her husband when she was killed just four miles from her home.

But can we please get them to stop calling it an accident?

It was a collision — not an accident — right up to the moment the coward behind the wheel stepped on the gas pedal to run away.

And then it became a crime. As if it wasn’t already when he drifted into the bike lane and ran down an innocent woman from behind without slowing down.

Meanwhile, Corona del Mar Today says the investigation continues into both collisions. Police are looking for the driver of the large black pickup that killed Campion Ritz, possibly a 2001 to 2004 Toyota Tacoma with significant front end damage.

Frank Peters provides photos of the collision scenes and ghost bikes for both victims on bikeNewportBeach. He also sends word that 150 people turned out for a special meeting of the Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee Monday night to share their heartbreak over the two deaths. And that Newport Beach Police Chief Johnson, who lost his own brother in a traffic collision, promised an imminent arrest in the hit-and-run.

Corona del Mar Today reports on the meeting.

Correction: Earlier I wrote that Chief Johnson lost his brother in a bicycling collision; it was actually a motor vehicle collision. Thanks to Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the correction.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

………

After all the bad news, maybe you could use a little smile. And frankly, I don’t know how it’s possible to watch this video without your lips turning up at least a little.

No, it’s not bike related. In fact, I don’t think there’s a bike in it.

Just a loving family, and one of the sweetest little girls you’ll ever meet, should you be so lucky. It’s a day in the life of a K/1st grade child with Down Syndrome.

And she’s the daughter of my good friends at Altadenablog.


Surviving a Sunday Westside right hook — a first person account from the lucky cyclist involved

September 10, 2012

Sometimes it’s better to start at the end.

So let me start by saying that Michael Eisenberg is okay. Which is not what you’d expect after reading his description of the right hook collision he suffered on Sunday while riding his bike through Brentwood on his way to the Marina.

But we’ll let him tell the story.

I am very lucky. I was riding my road bike from home near the Chatsworth reservoir to Marina Del Rey today (Sunday) to go sailing. At noon, I was westbound on Sunset Blvd looking to make a left on Kenter Avenue.

There was too much traffic to work over to the left turn lane, so I chose to do what I thought was the safest alternative. I pedaled across Kenter, stopped at the corner, and waited for the traffic light to change so I could then cross Sunset. I could see a line of cars in the lane behind me with a Toyota Prius at the head of the line.  I did not see a right turn flasher.

The light changed, and I proceeded to cross Sunset. The next thing I remember is my shoes disengaging from the pedals of my bike followed by me slamming into the windshield of the Toyota Prius. My next recollection was of lying in the middle of Sunset Blvd, about 10 feet away from the Prius and my bike another 10 feet farther down the street.

I was surrounded by bystanders.  One was a cyclist who was an EMT asking me who the president of the United States is. Another bystander was a Doctor, and he started a basic neurological evaluation. LA City Fire arrived shortly afterwards, I’d guess within 2 minutes. LAPD arrived Code 3 in another 5 minutes. Fortunately, this was not a hit & run, as the 75 year old female driver of the Prius was a little shaken up.

The LA City Fire EMTs could not find any injuries, and I was feeling little discomfort. The most interesting anomaly was that my heart rate monitor had recorded an instantaneous jump from 70 to 160 at the moment of impact. For better or worse, I decided to decline a ride to the hospital. It was then the LAPD’s turn to write the accident report. I didn’t actually see the report, I only received an incident receipt to use to acquire the report in the future. I did mention to the female Prius driver, while standing next to the LAPD officer, that if her handicap placard wasn’t hanging from her rear view mirror obstructing her vision she probably could have seen me.

When all the paperwork was done, I checked my bike and equipment and found everything to be scuffed or cracked. My 2 month old BH Prisma Force looked trashed, but still operable. My Specialized helmet, gloves and carbon shoes were all scuffed. They all did their job blunting the impact and receiving road rash, saving my skull and skin from being injured.

I finished up the last 5 miles of my ride to the Marina. By that time there were various parts of my body (hip, calf, neck) that were causing me just a little discomfort. I elected to get a ride from my son to Kaiser for a quick check. That is where I received the biggest assault to my dignity. The Doctor came into the examining room, and said “I see you ran into a car”. I politely corrected him, and he then said “the nurse wrote down that you ran into a car, so you must have run into a car.” I felt I was being branded as guilty because I am a cyclist.

Anyway, X-rays showed nothing to be concerned about. The recommendation was to take it easy for 3 days, with application of an ice pack as necessary on my neck for a mild strain. The next step for me is to contact the Prius driver’s insurance company and see what they are going to do about replacing my bike and gear.

As Michael says, he was lucky.

And yes, it sounds like he did exactly what he should have done. I usually try to use the left turn lane to make a left, but when traffic conditions or a dangerous intersection make that too risky, I’ll make the same sort of L turn he did. I try to position myself just in front of the right fender of the lead car at the intersection, or just in front and to its left if it’s making a turn.

The problem comes when drivers too often don’t indicate they’re turning. Combine that with an obstructed view from behind, and you’ve got a situation where you can do everything right, and still get hurt.

It will be interesting to see if the police report agrees when he gets a copy.

………

Herb Meyerowitz forwards a flyer he received while trying to enter the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park, a popular parking spot for cyclists preparing to ride PCH.

I’ve been aware for some time that Malibu was considering asking cyclists to park elsewhere in order to leave sufficient space for other park visitors; complaints have been made that we hog too many weekend parking spaces, leaving little room for actual park visitors.

However, this is the first I’ve heard that they’re actually attempting to herd bike riders Webster Elementary School.

It seems like a reasonable request — especially with the promise that restrooms and water will be made available to riders.

Let me know how it works out if you give it a try.

………

Tragedy strikes the annual LoToJa race as a rider falls off a bridge to his death on Sunday.

According to multiple sources, Robert Verhaaren, a 42-year old father from Mesa, Arizona, reportedly swerved to avoid a pothole on over a Snake River bridge in Wyoming. He lost control, hit the guardrail and went over the side of the bridge, falling 35 feet to his death.

The 206 mile ride from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the longest race sanctioned by USA Cycling; tragically, Verhaaren died just eight miles from the finish line.

………

The victim in last weekend’s Topanga Canyon hit-and-run has been identified as 60-year old Gary Morris of Van Nuys. Police are looking for a 1996 to 2000 Land Rover with possible damage to the right front. Anyone with information should call CHP Investigator Brooke Covington at 818-888-0980, ext. 228.

………

A Denver cyclist says traffic laws weren’t made for cyclists. And uses that as justification for breaking them.

Meanwhile, an Asheville writer says cyclists have to give a little, too.

………

A hyperventilating commenter on an earlier story says cyclists are crazy to ride on major roads, where speeding cars pass them by just inches.

Do I really need to say I disagree?

………

Former doper tainted meat eater Alberto Contador makes a dramatic comeback by winning his second Vuelta; fellow Spaniards Alejandro Valverede and Joaquin Rodriguez finish second and third, respectively.

………

Finally, a writer for the London Mail rips the cycling world a new one — especially the life-threatening Lycra louts she claims hit her elderly mother twice in just three weeks. Only problem is, she wrote almost exactly the same story two years ago; thanks to UK bike scribe Carlton Reid for the links.


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