13-year old girl critically injured in OC hit-and-run; Tour of California press conference in Beverly Hills

February 8, 2012

A 13-year old girl was critically injured in yet another Southern California hit-and-run when she was run down in a Santa Ana crosswalk on Monday.

She was riding north on Greenville Street when she was hit by a vehicle travelling west on Warner Avenue at 7 p.m. The jackass who hit her — and I use that term advisedly — kept going without making any attempt to stop, leaving it to bystanders to attempt to offer aid and comfort as she lay bleeding in the street.

Do I really need to mention what I think should be done if they ever catch the jerk?

Anyone with information is urge to contact the Santa Ana Police Traffic Division at (714) 245-8214.

……..

Actor Patrick Dempsey, and pro cyclists Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson will hit Beverly Hills Wednesday morning for a press conference for the Amgen Tour of California.

Do I really need to point out the irony the Westside’s least bike-friendly city — with not one inch of bikeway anywhere within the city limits — hosting the nation’s biggest professional race?

No, I didn’t think so.

But maybe Patrick, Dave and the gang will stop by tonight’s Bike Up! LA benefit for the California Bicycle Coalition while they’re in town.

……..

A road raging driver runs a young L.A. cyclist — and afterwards, says he’s glad he did.

In 1908.

Sad how some things never change.

……..

Roadblock asks what will it take to create safe streets in L.A. — and offers advice on how to ride safely in the meantime. LACBC’s highly successful City of Lights starts a youth program on the Eastside. Matthew Ruscigno explains how to travel fast and light on your next bike tour. Gary writes about exception bike writer and advocate Elly Blue. LADOT is testing surfaces for the Spring Street green bike lane to find one that will stick around for awhile. Better Bike looks at the laws governing cycling in California, and says you’ve got 30 days to convince the Westside COG to make it more ridable. Learn how to maintain your bike for just $10 in Santa Monica. An unnamed 22-year old Lancaster man is killed while riding without lights in Butte County.

A Santa Rosa runner suffers a broken skull when she turns in front of a passing cyclist who fled the scene; and yes, while it’s up to the runner to make sure the way is clear before turning around, a hit-and-run cyclist is every bit as much of a schmuck as a hit-and-run driver. A Santa Barbara cyclist wants to thank the people who came to her aid — and talk to the driver who failed to see her in the bike lane. Kern County could get a new bike master plan. An Orange County cyclist is awarded a $6 million settlement following a 2009 collision with a John Wayne Airport shuttle bus.

Engineering streets to improve health. Looking at Lance Armstrong as the fallen hero of a Greek tragedy. Biking non-profits are doing well despite the bad economy. An advice columnist explains why cyclists should ride with traffic. Las Vegas’ very own Gran Fondo will start on the Las Vegas Strip the day after Interbike, and offer a ride over the Hoover Dam. Organizers of a Denver century ride drop a requirement that riders reveal their income in order to register; gee, who could possibly object to that? Houston cyclists are being harassed by a man in a black Honda. A Philadelphia driver faces charges for running down a rider while high on drugs — the day after he was arrested following a three-car collision. Dave Moulton’s legendary Fuso frames are about to be born again.

The Telegraph’s London Editor says the vast majority of British cycle lanes are either totally pointless or actively dangerous, but the carnage claimed by some simply isn’t real; meanwhile, a writer for the Evening Standard says he gave up cycling because it was too dangerous — but blames other cyclists, as well as bad streets. A British father uses cycling to fight back from brain cancer; thanks to Ed Cable for the heads-up. London cyclists may get a jump on other traffic at red lights, while Paris cyclists get permission to go through red lights.; thanks to David Huntsman for the link. Odd math, as Alberto Contador is banned for two years but could be back racing by August, which seems somewhat less to me. New Japanese road markings tell bike riders where to go.

Finally, BMC phenom Taylor Phinney has a discussion with his body; evidently, the guy is as funny as he is fast. And I wish I had this T-shirt when I still lived in Colorado.


L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend marred when cyclist hit in Tour de Fat adjacent wreck on Saturday

October 10, 2011

You’ll have to excuse me.

I’d planned on a post offering my thoughts on yesterday’s third CicLAvia — not the third year, as many press outlets have mistakenly reported — as well as Saturday’s Tour de Fat.

But here’s the Cliff Notes version: Major mondo fun for all.

As usual, CicLAvia offered a wonderful opportunity to experience the city car-free, and the added spur onto Central Avenue was inspired; I’d love to see it go further into L.A. biking’s undiscovered country. And the many admonitions to slow down seemed to result in a safer and more enjoyable event.

Hap Dougherty offers his usual great photos, as does Streetsblog’s Damien Newton; while the Times offers a good write-up. And KABC-7 tells the story well, as well. (Update: forgot to mention that the next CicLAvia will take place April 15, 2012, with another scheduled for next October; earlier I somehow mistakenly wrote April 4 even though I knew better, thanks to westculvermonicaside for the catch.)

Having learned from the past, I didn’t even bother taking my camera this year. So many people take so much better photos of the event that my meagre camera jockey efforts are wasted in comparison.

And even my non-biking wife and dog had a great time at Tour de Fat, though the latter seems to enjoy any event in which Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose rubs her belly.

Then again, my wife might enjoy it too, given the opportunity.

Unfortunately, the even was marred for many when a cyclist was hit by a car in front of Nick’s Cafe on Alameda Street just outside Tour de Fat.

Harv Woien initially gave me the heads-up later that night. Somehow I missed it, apparently passing through that same spot just moments before the collision. Twitterers @Revolbike and @GraphikDeziner added what they knew about it.

Meanwhile, @fts_acer sent a detailed, first-person account of wrenching effects of witnessing the wreck.

Gotta start off by saying I didn’t witness the accident per se, but I was standing literally on the corner of the intersection where it happened, on the patio at Nick’s Cafe across the street from LA Historic Park, facing the other way and heard an obvious (very loud) collision behind me, and immediately turned around to see a cyclist tumbling off the front right fender of a Ford Expedition, his bike literally coming to pieces under the SUV’s tires.

The loud noises were a combination of the SUV’s body work (front right lower bumper and passenger side door) getting dented in, the SUV’s right side view mirror getting broken, and the bike being crushed under the car, completely demolished.  Most visually stunning was the Aerospoke broken to bits and the disembodied tire/tube flailing about as the cyclist came to rest next to the car.

Notably, there were no screeching tires involved.  For the record, I used to work for BMW as a test driver and I am very familiar with the sound of tires whining under the stress of anti-lock brakes as well, and that sound was also absent, implying the driver was either not at all on the brakes leading up to the collision, or wasn’t on them very hard.

The driver stopped, thank heaven, staying in the car, perhaps in shock, a young woman with a few passengers in there.  The rider was conscious and moving as we ran over, he was rolling onto his back and took off his messenger bag.  No blood, outwardly didn’t look like any broken bones or anything, but he was definitely mentally out of it, tried to stand up and fell back down.  Noticed he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Luckily there were two police officers already stationed at the same intersection to watch over the event, so they were running up the same time we were.  A couple friends and I tried to lend a hand, but the police shooed us away so we stood and watched from a few feet back.  Medics were called.

The guy started talking to the police, who cleared the scene of onlookers and diverted traffic, using their squad cars to block off part of the road.  The driver got out of the car and said the rider “scared the shit” out of her.  The rider said she “scared the shit” out of him, too.  In other words, one or both of them were obviously not paying attention.

Frankly, it scared the shit out of dozens of cyclists who rode by, visibly mortified just by the aftermath of what happened.  I think most cyclists get that feeling when they see or hear that a cyclist and a car got into it.

No witnesses stepped forward, there were just about ten of us that heard the crash and ran to see if we could help.

My friend who was there with me says he knows that stretch of Spring is well-known for speeding, that drivers are typically very careless through that area.  I suppose that’s hearsay, but who knows how fast that SUV was going before the collision.  IMHO, under the conditions, with so many bikes and pedestrians obviously attending an event at the park, nothing about 25mph would have been safe.  But that’s just my opinion, I suppose.

Anyway, this all amounts to little more than an excessively detailed anecdote but hopefully it helps.  I hope the rider will be okay.

The police at the scene were not interested in talking to us, only in securing the scene, but I wouldn’t mind trying to give them a statement for what it’s worth, would you happen to have any idea how I would go about that?  What division it might be, etc?

I directed Acer to the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division, as well as the department’s bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer.

I agree with his suggestion that speed limits should be temporarily lowered on streets next to major events like that. And I second his hopes that the rider is okay; if anyone has word on his condition, send us the (hopefully) good news.

……..

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a major bike hangover this morning, with symptoms ranging from rubber legs to an overwhelming desire for sleep. And I’ve got an important work assignment due by morning that I should be working on right now.

Then again, all work assignments are important, right?

Before I go, though, a couple of great links.

First up, Russ and Laura, the Long Beach biking expats behind the must-read The Path Less Pedaled — who I had the pleasure of meeting over the weekend — are offering one last SoCal presentation Tuesday night in El Segundo before they once again hit the road. I can’t make it, but I’d strongly recommend attending if you can.

I’ve got an LACBC Planning Committee meetings to chair that same night; 7 pm Tuesday at Downtown’s Pitfire Pizza at 2nd and Main. We’ll be talking about what programs, plans and legislations you’d like to see implemented as we move forward, whether on a local, county or state level. So we’d love to have you join us if you can tear yourself away from Russ and Laura.

And finally, the BBC offers a great look at the non-existent war between cyclists and drivers — including this wonderful quote:

“When we make improvements for bicyclists, often the biggest beneficiary are people who drive motor vehicles.” — Mark LearBureau of transportation traffic safety program manager, Portland, Oregon

Definitely worth the click; thanks to L.A. Streetsblog for the link.


Harrowing first person account of collision that critically injured Adam Rybicki, and a call for justice

July 25, 2011

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia being taken into custody.

Last April, Adam Rybicki was critically injured in a collision with an alleged underage drunk driver while riding with friends in Torrance.

The collision occurred early on Sunday morning as a car driven by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia drove head first towards the cyclists, then suddenly jerked back to strike Rybicki and another rider as they swerved to avoid her. Despite her age and the early hour, 19-year old Garcia reportedly had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

Nearly three months later, Adam remains in a rehab facility, struggling to communicate using a white board; he still has both a feeding tube and a tracheotomy tube installed. Reportedly, he’s making good progress, though he has a very long way to go.

The driver who is charged with putting him there is facing a preliminary setting hearing on Wednesday, July 27th in Department 5 of the Inglewood Courthouse, Case #YA81126; she’s charge with two counts of DUI with injury, and two counts DUI with BAC of .08 and injury.

The case has been transferred to Inglewood after the Supervising Judge in Torrance recused all the judges in that courthouse because Garcia’s mother works as a court reporter there. Cyclists who knew Rybicki and were on the ride are worried that, even in another courthouse, Garcia could receive favorable treatment because of her mother’s relationship with local judges and prosecutors.

As a result, they want to get the story out about what really happened that tragic Sunday, and have sent me, and several prominent area reporters and columnists, the following, absolutely chilling, first person account of the collision.

Along with a signed petition calling for justice for Adam.

……..

At 7:15 AM on April 3, 2011, the group of riders known as “The Doctors’ Ride” was headed downhill on Camino de Encanto.

Minutes earlier they left the congregation point near the fountain at Malaga Cove Plaza, with ten riders headed north toward Marina Del Rey.  They use Camino De Encanto to avoid traffic on Palos Verdes Boulevard.

As the road curved slightly to the right at the bottom of the steep part, an oncoming car came into view.  The silver Kia driven by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia was already in the middle of the road and drifting into the path of oncoming bikes.

MB said to JT, “Watch the car.”

Incredibly and inexplicably, the car kept coming further into the cyclists’ lane.  MB and JT at the front veered right and hit their brakes, skidding on the pavement, but they had no place to go.  DC, behind MB, braked so hard he kicked up his back wheel, barely keeping control.  Adam, to his left, apparently saw an opening to go left around the car and headed that way.  KW and NG1 behind braked hard but stayed right.  Behind them, SH and NG2 also braked hard, skidding.  Well back, DS and DL watched the horror unfold.

At the front, MB yelped a primal scream as he braced for impact.  JT, an accomplished motorcycle rider, tried to keep control and find a way out.  At the last second, Garcia jerked her vehicle back to the proper side sparing MB his expected impact.  JT smashed his left handlebar into the left front fender and vaulted up, shearing off the driver’s side mirror and scraping his shorts on the left rear door handle.  He doesn’t recall hitting the ground but popped up with a smashed left hand and upper leg abrasions from the scrape with the mirror and door handle.

Adam was not as fortunate.  His chosen escape was abruptly cut off with no time to react. He struck the bumper and hood of the Kia just to the driver’s side of center.  His carbon fiber bike frame buckled and shattered from the impact, the only thing holding it together was the control cables.  His right femur also shattered from the impact to the hood.  He flew into the windshield just to the passenger side of center creating a hole about a foot in diameter and spraying shattered glass into the lap of the girl in the passenger seat.  Adam was tossed into the air and landed on the far side of the street, his chest and face-down head on the sidewalk, his pelvis and legs in the gutter.  His right leg stuck out at a horrible angle under his left leg; he looked dead.

MB circled back and assessed the situation.  The vehicle had stopped back in the proper lane about 10 feet beyond Adam’s body.  The engine was still running; he yelled at the driver to shut off the engine and stay in the car.  DS, an orthopedic surgeon, noted Adam had a pulse but was not conscious or breathing well; he had to be moved to clear an airway.  MB and DS moved Adam so he was laid out in the gutter face up.  He began moaning.  Neighbors emerged from houses to see what the commotion was about.  Riders franticly called 911 uncertain what the street name or block was.

Riders quickly ascertained that Adam and JT were the only riders hit, JT far better off than Adam.  Minutes seemed like hours as riders awaited help.  A neighbor produced a blanket to cover Adam against the morning chill.  DS tended to Adam imploring him to hang on.

Five girls gradually emerged from the vehicle and wandered to the curb to sit away from the cyclists.  One stated within earshot of KW that this was bullshit; she had to get to work.  KW, uncertain if this was the driver, told this girl she wasn’t going anywhere, this was a serious accident and she should calm down and stay put.  Jaclyn Garcia told the girl to come sit down with her.

After about five minutes, the first police appeared on scene.  Minutes later, paramedics showed up and took over first aid from DS.  Others were trying to contact Adam’s wife, Barbara, by calling information.  JT had someone call his wife, also.  JT insisted paramedics tend to Adam first.  Ambulance arrived on scene, the paramedics cut off Adam’s jersey, a nearly new Bike Tour of Colorado jersey he bought last June.  In the back of the jersey was his wallet, his mini pump and his phone.  They loaded Adam onto a gurney and hauled him away in the ambulance headed for Harbor UCLA Trauma Center.

The police secured the block with crime scene tape and segregated the car girls from the riders.  Everyone except Adam was interviewed over the next hour.  Garcia was field-sobriety checked and failed.  She was cuffed and stuffed into the back of a cruiser for a trip to Torrance Memorial Medical Center for Blood-alcohol content testing.  At age 19, the legal limit is zero.  When tested, hers was closer to 0.15.

Adam’s phone and other jersey contents disappeared from the trauma center.  It was later determined that someone in South Central LA was using his phone to make international calls.  Messages were sent to try to retrieve the phone; there were no responses.  After multiple surgeries in the trauma center, his condition was stabilized.

Three-and-a-half months later Adam is conscious, but has severely limited motor ability.  He was moved to a sub-acute care center where he receives 24-hour-a-day monitoring.  He has been bed-ridden for three months. He has a trach tube, a feeding tube and cannot do anything for himself.  He cannot hear or talk.  He can respond to written questions with yes and no nods of his head.  He has no memories of the crash.  He appreciates all visitors and well wishes.  We are all hoping that he can eventually recover some semblance of a normal life.

A number of the riders and friends of Adam have circulated a petition.  It has been deemed inappropriate for us to send it directly to the DA or the judiciary.  We feel that we’d like to put it out there anyway so we are sending to you, the press.  We appreciate any public airing this case can get.

……..

A Demand for Justice in the Case of Jaclyn Andrea Garcia

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia was 19.  She was a former student athlete at Palos Verdes High, a babysitter and a Jr College Student.  She was drunk and driving in south Torrance with four other girls in her Kia mini-SUV.  Adam Rybicki was 49.  He was a fit, enthusiastic, avid bicyclist, who was very well liked by all who knew him.  He was a productive software engineer and, perhaps more importantly, a loyal husband and father.  April 3, 2011 brought them together in a horrible, violent collision.

At age 19, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content is zero.  When tested, JAG’s was closer to 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit for adults.  She and friends had purchased alcoholic drinks (illegally) on Saturday night and spent the night drinking at JAG’s boyfriend’s house.  How or why they emerged at 7 AM Sunday and decided to pile into JAG’s car is unknown.  But by doing so, they sealed Adam’s fate.

JAG drove her car across the centerline into the path of a group of ten cyclists.  In the mad scramble to escape her vehicle, two cyclists were struck.  Adam was by far the worst casualty.  He was struck head on with a closing speed of nearly 55 mph.

Adam’s progress is slow.  He still cannot hear.  He is still on a feeding tube and a trach tube for breathing.  He cannot speak.  He cannot do anything for himself.  Nobody knows if he will ever recover those abilities we all take for granted.

Some feel that the District Attorney should tie JAG’s fate to Adam’s; as long as he’s in his ‘prison’, she should stay in the state’s prison.  That is probably not within the law and it is not going to happen.  But it would be a travesty if she walked just because of her youth and sympathy for her family.  Adam Rybicki has no ‘inside’ connections.  District Attorneys, as we have seen in the Colorado case (see http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/06/news/the-explainer-a-follow-up-to-the-sleepy-investment-banker_177721), can make decisions on how to prosecute.  They have autonomy to make deals in criminal court that determine the defendant’s destiny.  They have no say in Adam Rybicki’s destiny.

We will see what happens in this criminal proceeding; it bears watching and those prosecuting and/or dealing should be and will be accountable – no under-the-table or behind-closed-doors deals should be allowed.  This is no longer a juvenile offender – no more sealed verdicts.  Justice is supposed to be blind and beyond reproach .

Drunk driving is a crime.  Offenders are to be cited and prosecuted.   Bicyclists constitute some of the most vulnerable users of the roadways.  They are entitled to use the roadways.  Accidents happen.  This was not an accident; this was a crime.  By illegally drinking and driving, Jaclyn Andrea Garcia became a criminal.  She should be properly prosecuted and should be properly penalized.  Any parent can appreciate wanting to spare a child distress and life disruption due to penalties.  But take a look at Adam Rybicki’s life and family.  They did not sign up for this and did nothing to deserve it.  We are all hoping that Adam can eventually recover some semblance of a normal life.

We, the undersigned, implore the District Attorney and Judge to consider the facts of the case and impose the maximum possible sentence for these crimes.

Thank you.

Richard Lull
Javier Murphy
Richard Shrader
Cynthia Tenhouse
Davis Jensen
David Perez
Dave LaForest
Raymond Eastwood
William Klahr
Paul and Kelley Swanno
Ed Taylor
Benjamin Konell
James K Yokotake
John Thomson
John Reidy
Judith Elliot
Gus and Gail Ohlsson
H. Marq Prince
William Height
Marcus Edwardes
Michael C Barr
Susan Kessler
Robert Cedergreen
Jeff Dykzeul
Kathy Risley
Jon Rosen
Kathy Nelson
 
If the authors of this petition don’t mind, they can add one more name to this list. Mine.
 
Ted Rogers, BikingInLA
 

A moving meditation on the fragility of life and friendship

July 2, 2011

I didn’t write it.

As a writer, I wish I did; as a rider, I’m very glad I didn’t have to.

My phone rang at around 9:45PM. It was John’s girlfriend.  She didn’t know where John was.  She knew we’d been riding bikes earlier that night and asked if I knew anything.  I told her we’d parted ways at the fire station on the backside of Paradise Loop at around 7:15PM.  He had turned off early to go meet up with her.  Her voice cracked as she spoke. She started to cry.

l write a lot about the bad things that can happen on a bike. More than I ever thought I would. And far more than I really want to.

But I don’t think I’ve ever written anything as moving, and seldom as heartfelt.

I called John and got no answer.  I started calling police departments in southern Marin.  If my mind had a clear task then maybe I could ignore my rising fear.  Tiburon PD told me to call Sausalito PD.  Sausalito PD took my number and told me to await a call from the responding officer.  I told the agent this arrangement was not cool.  I asked what happened to my friend.  She said he’d been involved in an accident.  She said the responding officer was the only one who could give details.  I asked if he was alive.  She said the responding officer was the only one who could give details….

It’s beautiful and sad and heart-wrenchingly tragic. And one of the best things I’ve read about one of the worst things that can happen.

It’s not easy to read.

But well worth the effort.

Thanks to @BikeCrave and @bikesd for the heads-up.


The gift that just keeps on giving

November 14, 2008

Fourteen months after my infamous bee encounter on the beach, and I’m still dealing with it.

As I’ve written here before, I’ve managed to recover from my injuries — for the most part, anyway — and after a lot of hard work, managed to get myself back into shape. But a couple of nagging problem just haven’t gone away.

Take my hip, for instance. While it looks nothing like the picture in the second link anymore, there’s still a little discoloration, and some residual swelling that causes occasional pain and/or numbness.

Then there’s my right butt cheek, which seems to have developed a semi-gelatinous, subcutaneous mass that looks and feels like I sat on a catcher’s mitt. After all these years of riding, I may have the deeply dimpled derriere of a Roman gladiator on the left, but alas, not so on the right.

(Think of it as a 10-point buttocal scale, sort of like this: 10 Greek God; 9 Michelangelo’s David; 8 Roman Gladiator … 3 Roman Galley Slave; 2 Catcher’s Mitt; 1 Dom DeLouise.)

I feel kind of like Two-Face, but lower.

So my orthopedist sent me in for yet another MRI last week, which only confirmed my own self-diagnosis. He gave me a steroid shot in my hip to help the swelling, and he’s sending me to physical therapy to see if they can break down the fibrous tissue that’s keeping that ass mass in place.

Meanwhile, I try not to be self-conscious about it. Really, I do.

It’s not all that noticeable when I’m dressed, and my wife is the only one who sees me naked these days. And she usually tries not to laugh, though I sometimes think I catch a suppressed snicker or two.

So I packed my semi-lumpy, bi-polar butt into my skintight spandex cycling shorts and went out for a ride this afternoon.

And I’m sure it was just my imagination that the women I passed on my left turned and smiled, while those on my right quickly looked away.

 

Researchers at Perdue University point out what every Californian already knows — speed limits don’t count if there’s no one around to enforce them. New York imagines what a neighborhood designed for cycling would look like. Seattle cyclists are confused, as the city promotes cycling while the police harass them. The newspaper in New Haven tells cyclists to stay off the damn sidewalk (personally, I love the 3rd comment.) Bike Fixation gets action after losing the local parking meter/bike rack. Gary Reports of Obama’s new Office of Urban Planning, something that could benefit all of us. Finally, my friends at Altadena Blog report the San Gabriel Valley is being targeted by U2 spy planes. Anyone have an explanation?


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