An expanded CicLAvia goes off without a hitch; a killer driver walks with a virtual pat on the back

October 8, 2012

L.A. celebrated the fifth edition of city’s biggest two-wheeled block party on Sunday. KNBC-4 captures the day through Twitter comments and photos, as well as weatherman Fritz Coleman’s helmet cam.

Police say there were no major incidents in Sunday’s CicLAvia, but it’s odd that the estimates of how many people participated never seem to budge from 100,000, which seems to be a native expression meaning a shit load; as long as they’re making up numbers, why not pick a different — and vastly higher — one for a change? City officials seem to consider it $350,000 well spent, which works out to roughly $3.50 per under estimated person.

The new route took riders past USC to Exposition Park, as well as MacArthur Park, Boyle Heights and Chinatown. Personally, I enjoyed the new Boyle Heights and Figueroa legs, but Chinatown didn’t really work for me.

My own CicLAvia turned out to be a disappointment, as mechanical issues kept me from leaving home until afternoon; by the time I got there, I had just enough time to ride the route with no stops, finishing just as the traffic-blocking barriers were removed.

However, I did capture the ride on my own helmet cam. If I can figure out how to turn it into a Will Campbell-style timelapse video, I may put it online in a day or two.

Meanwhile, Claremont and Pomona may get a CicLAvia of their own.

………

I’m not sure if I’ve really been too busy to write this, or if the subject just turned my stomach.

The second street racing driver involved in the death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado was sentenced to a pat on the back slap on the wrist this past week, as it seems the judge did everything but thank him for reducing the excess cyclist population in San Bernardino County.

Like his co-defendant Patrick Roraff, Brett Morin was sentenced to a mere 90 days in jail — released for time served — and three years probation for recklessly killing Alvarado in what had previously been described as a street racing incident, but is now considered mere automotive horseplay. Somehow during the course of the non-trial the drivers’ speeds were reduced from an estimated 75 to 80 miles per hour to a relatively sedate 64 to 66 mph.

Yet even with the slower speeds, Alvarado is still dead.

Not that the judge seems too concerned.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin quotes him explaining the rationale behind his sentencing.

“Without question, this is a horrific event that everyone in the courtroom would take back if they could,” Judge William Jefferson Powell said.

Powell went on to say that nothing done on Wednesday would bring Alvarez back and that he did not see a reason to destroy another young life.

I sincerely hope someone reminds him of that statement the next time a defendant is on trial for shooting someone, since a stiff sentence wouldn’t bring that victim back, either.

Of course, it would be nice if the paper could get the name of the victim right. Let alone if the judge had given as much consideration to the victim as he did his killers.

Or placed as much value on the life of a cyclist as California courts do the life of a dog.

According to the Press Enterprise,

A harsher sentence, the judge decided, would compound the tragedy of Alvarado’s death… Powell explained that he was seeking to protect the public and hand down punishment for a tragic death without destroying the life of a young man who has no prior criminal record and, whom the judge said, has led an upright and productive life.

Other than taking the life of an innocent cyclist, of course.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel very protected.

The blame for this travesty of justice clearly rests with the judge, as the prosecutor claims he had nothing to do with the plea deal, which was made directly from the bench,.

Hopefully San Bernardino County cyclists will remember this case when Powell comes up for re-election.

………

Not surprisingly, accused hit-and-run driver Michael Jason Lopez pleads not guilty in the death of Newport Beach cyclist Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion. He’s facing eight years for felony hit-and-run causing death, and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, with a felony enhancement for a 1993 burglary conviction.

………

Now that L.A. has cancelled them, there’s evidence that red light cameras really do make roads safer. Flying Pigeon shop owner Josef Bray-Ali finally sees some success in his campaign for a car-free Lincoln Park. Urban bikewear manufacturer Swrve challenges two-time three-foot-law vetoing Governor Jerry Brown to a ride across Los Angeles; frankly, I doubt he cares any more than some judges I could name. What is bike advocacy, and who exactly gave you permission? An El Monte cyclist inadvertently prevents a kidnapping; thanks to Meghan Lynch for the heads-up.

A Newport Beach councilmember and the city’s police chief will talk bikes on Wednesday. Laguna Beach considers a road diet to make way for pedestrians and bikes. Four CdM cyclists, three riding styles. BikeSD is now officially an advocacy group; if you live or ride in the San Diego, you owe it to yourself to sign up. It’s been a bloody year for pedestrians and cyclists in Rancho Cucamonga. A Santa Barbara motorized bike rider suffers life-threatening injuries in a right-hook collision with a 16-year old driver. Richard Risemberg takes a ride in the SLO lane. Santa Cruz cyclists enjoy their version of a ciclovia. Fresno cyclists remember a seven-year old bike rider killed by a drunk driver last July. Just Another Cyclist takes on an anti-bike zealot who complains about bicycle zealots like you and me; nice to see his insightful writing once again.

Bicycling offers advice on buying a used road bike; my advice is be careful buying off Craigslist if you don’t want to support your local bike thief. Framebuilder Dave Moulton says Lance and Pat are harming the sport he loves. A bike riding Ogden UT writer says the city needs to do more to support cycling — including giving more tickets to riders for being stupid. After a cyclist is killed in a dooring, a Chicago Tribune columnist asks if cycling is getting more dangerous; bike advocate Steve Vance says no, but the realization of what it takes to keep us safe is. The usually rabidly anti-bike Daily News says it’s time for New York to build really separated bikeways. A judge criticizes the NYPD for stonewalling in the case of fallen cyclist Mathieu Lafevre.

It’s not about bikes vs cars, it’s about building better cities. Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr apologizes for his negative portrayal of a cyclist in an Icelandic sit com. The only thing more disheartening than having your bike stolen is finding it stripped for parts; London’s Guardian offers advice on how to avoid just that. A sharks-eye view on the safety in numbers theory. A British judge calls for banning bikes from high-speed highways. A Brit cyclist asks for greater safety and courtesy after a head-on collision with another rider on a bike path. Scott novelist and bike advocate Town Mouse writes her elected representatives to ask for more bike funding; seems congratulations are due on her election to the community council. Greg LeMond, now officially the only American Tour de France winner once again, talks bikes, ADD, Lance and doping in an Irish radio interview. Floyd “I didn’t dope, oh wait, yes I did” Landis can’t call bike racing’s governing officials bad names anymore.

Finally, an ode to putting your bike on the bus; thanks to our friends at the LACBC for the heads-up. And as usual, Britain’s Cycling Embassy offers a link roundup that puts mine to shame, if you have a few hours to kill.

I’ll be filling in as guest editor of L.A. Streetsblog through Thursday of this week, as Damien Newton takes some time off to spend with his new bouncing baby girl. So please forgive me in advance if postings are a little light this week; I’ll do my best to keep up. I just hope they gave me the right password.


Failed justice — alleged street racing killer of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado gets off with just 90 days in jail

August 10, 2012

Pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, a victim of our streets. And our legal system.

Sorry Jorge.

America let you down.

Or more precisely, San Bernardino County let you down, along with a court system that inexplicably denied you the justice you deserved.

You came to this country to live out your dream of becoming a professional cyclist. We sent you back in a coffin, the victim of two then-high school students who couldn’t manage to keep their feet off the gas pedal.

And then let the driver who killed you off with the barest slap on the wrist, as if your all-to-brief life had no meaning or value.

Less time than he might have gotten for killing a dog, in fact.

A lot less.

It was over two years ago, in April, 2010, that you were riding on Greenspot Road in Highland, just north of San Bernardino, training for your new role as a rider for the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team, founded by Compton’s own former national crit champion Raahsaan Bahati.

It was your big break.

A chance to prove yourself as a rising rider on a new pro team with a then-promising future.

You had no way of knowing, as you rode along that country road, that your dream would end at age 27, in the field on your right.

Maybe you reacted to those cars zooming towards you. driving far too fast. You probably saw one try to pass the other at around 80 mph, and watched in horror as the other driver cut hard to the left to keep him from passing. That sent the first car, driven by Patrick Roraff, back to the right, where he hit the shoulder and lost control, skidding across the road directly into you.

You probably hit your brakes and tried to swerve.

But it was too late.

At that speed, nothing you did or might have done would have made any difference.

I wonder if you muttered an obscenity as you saw the situation unfold. Or did you whisper one last prayer, or the name of a loved one just before the out-of-control car barreled into you, slamming you into the bushes on your right?

Were you aware of what was happening? Did you know you were dying there alone on the side of the road, thousands of miles from the people you loved?

Or did you slip mercifully into oblivion, a loss of consciousness masking the pain from your broken body?

The young men who took your life were arrested, and eventually, charged with your murder.

But that’s where the wheels of justice seemed to slowly slip off the tracks.

The long wait for charges to be filed combined with endless legal delays to push any promise of justice back time and again.

Meanwhile, Roraff and co-defendant Brett Michael Morin, who was driving the other car, were able to graduate from Redlands East Valley High School. And even with a pending homicide charge, Roraff remained the star of his high school soccer team, and went on to play soccer at the University of Redlands. Perhaps foreshadowing the leniency to come, the judge even gave permission for him to travel to Texas with his team.

God forbid that killing another person should be enough to negatively impact someone’s athletic career.

Even though yours ended that day at Roraff’s hands.

To be fair, he did say he was sorry.

It looked, ever so briefly, like you were going to get the justice you deserved when Patrick Roraff finally changed his plea to guilty. Given the seriousness of the charges — felony vehicular homicide with gross negligence and a serious felon enhancement — he should have faced serious prison time.

But he doesn’t.

Instead, the judge imposed a sentence that is far closer to a pat on the back than a slap on the wrist.

Roraff was sentenced on Monday to just 90 days in jail, with three years probation, along with community service.

Ninety lousy days. And probably a lot less than that, given this state’s over-crowded jails.

That’s less that three months for what was initially described as an illegal street race  — a felony in the state of California, by the way, for which neither driver was charged — resulting in a man’s death.

And let’s be clear. This was not an accident.

Your death was the entirely foreseeable consequence of a conscious decision to use two potentially deadly motor vehicles as oversized Hot Wheels toys.

You were just collateral damage.

The court used this case to send a message — that killing another human being while recklessly endangering the public is no big deal.

So go ahead and do whatever the hell you want on the roads, because there won’t be any serious consequences.

Especially if you have athletic skills, evidently.

They might as well have thrown Roraff a party for decreasing the excess cyclist population in the county.

It matters.

Not just because you were denied the justice you so richly deserved. But because cyclists are vulnerable on the streets, subject to the whims and careless actions of those with whom we share them.

It’s the protection we receive from the police and courts — or don’t — that dictates whether those streets will be survivable. And on that count, this court failed us miserably, putting every cyclist at greater risk.

Maybe Roraff is deserving of a second chance. But by failing to give him the sort of sentence his crime called for, the legal system missed an opportunity to show things like this can’t, and won’t, be tolerated.

And making it that much more likely that it will happen again.

There’s no word on when Roraff will begin his sentence.

It’s possible that his jail time may be delayed so he can compete again this season. If not, he’ll do his time, and be free to play again; maybe even transferring to a larger school now that this is no longer hanging over his head.

Why he received this gift from the court, I have no idea. I could speculate, but it would be nothing but a guess.

And not a pretty one, at that.

The sudden guilty plea suggests that this may have been a plea bargain. If so, I would question whether any District Attorney who signed off on a deal like this is fit to remain in office.

If not, I hope local voters will keep this case in mind when the judge comes up for reelection.

And why Roraff’s co-defendant continues to fight his charges when he could get a sweet deal like this is beyond me.

Maybe he’s not a star athlete.

To say I’m disgusted is to put it mildly.

I’m sorry, Jorge Alvarado.

We failed you.

You deserved better. You deserved justice.

But like far too many people who needlessly die while riding a bike, you’re not going to get it.

And absolutely nothing about this case will keep it from happening again.

……..

Update: Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels fills in some of the blanks in this case.

According to information on the website for the San Bernardino County Superior Court, the sentence was imposed by judge William Jefferson Powell, who was appointed to the court by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

Roraff was sentenced to 90 days in county jail, and taken into custody immediately after the hearing. Which means he should be back on the streets by early November at the latest, followed by three years of supervised probation; the judge also ordered his license revoked for a period to be determined by the DMV. 

And Roraff was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, half of which must involve discussion of the dangers of reckless driving. 

The terms of his probation also prohibit the possession of deadly weapons; in his case, maybe that should include motor vehicles.


A heartwarming story to end your week, a bunch of legal updates and week’s worth of links

July 14, 2012

Now that there’s finally a lull in this week’s rash of bad news, let’s catch up on all the news that’s been on hold this week.

………

First off, maybe you remember the story.

It was about a year and a half back, when I told the tale of a hero bus rider who jumped off his Commuter Express bus after a long day at the DWP to stop a bike thief, and rescue the prized ride of a total stranger.

It’s one of my favorite stories I’ve told on here, second only, perhaps, to a pair of female triathletes who saved two men from drowning off the Malibu coast.

And I was there last year when Good Samaritan Hospital, where the owner of the bike, Dan McLaughlin, serves as a vice president, honored him at the annual Blessing of the Bicycles.

But after that, I lost track of the story until L.A. Times writer Nita Lelyveld gave me a call a few weeks back.

What I didn’t know was that the story didn’t end that day when McLaughlin handed his bike’s rescuer a plaque in front of a group of gathered cyclists. They had become friends, bonding over bikes, and Bolivar and his wife had even taken to riding a tandem together.

It’s a beautiful story. And one that Nita tells beautifully.

It’s definitely a must read, if you haven’t already.

………

My apologies to Shane Feldon.

I had promised to write this week about a new light system currently looking for funding on Kickstarter. Unlike other bike lights, it doesn’t just attach to your handlebars, but actually is a structural part of your bike.

So it’s always there when you need it, and you never have to worry about forgetting it or having it stolen.

Unless they take your whole bike, of course.

Sadly, there’s only a few hours left to get funded, and it looks like it’s going to end up well short. But if you’ve got some money to invest — or happen to own a bike company — this looks like a great idea with a lot of potential.

………

Nineteen-year old Korean college student Jin Hyuk Byun has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of hit-and-run causing death for allegedly killing 18-year old Angel Bojorquez as he rode home from work in Rancho Santa Fe last Friday.

The judge recognized the risk Byun posed, calling him “an extreme danger to the community,” as he raised Byun’s bail from $50,000 to $1 million, according to the North County Times.

The NC Times also reports that Byun allegedly stopped after killing Bojorquez — not to render aid or call for help, but to push a broken headlight assembly back into place and strip the torn rubber from his tire before driving home on the bare rim.

Remarkably, he faces a maximum of just four years in prison for leaving another human being to die on the side of the road.

Surely there are other charges the DA can file.

Vehicular homicide might be a good start.

………

In other legal news, the Highland Community News confirms that Patrick Roraff has entered a guilty plea in the 2010 death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, as we discussed Monday; co-defendant Brett Morin is still pleading not guilty.

Dj Wheels reports that Phillip Goldburn Williams, charged with vehicular manslaughter in the July, 2010 death of cyclist Victor Apaseo-Rodriguez in Downtown L.A., has been convicted after changing his plea to no contest.

And walked away with a slightly bruised wrist.

Williams received a three years of probation, $194 in fees, 20 days of Caltrans road work, and 160 hours of community service. Oh, and a whopping 12 hours of anger management; we can only wonder what that’s about.

Meanwhile, his victim received a death sentence, carried out on the bumper of Williams’ Chevy Avalanche.

Wheels also reports that a preliminary hearing took place this week for a very pregnant Christine Dahab, charged with felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol count over .08, after injuring 13 cyclists in Culver City in June of last year.

And our anonymous South Bay source reports that Joel Alexander Murphy has pleaded not guilty in the hit-and-run death of cyclist Roger Lippman in Huntington Beach last month, as well as for violating his formal parole on drug charges.

I’m also told that both the D.A.’s office and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been trying to reach out to Lippman’s family and friends to aid in the prosecution and prepare Victim Impact Statements to present to the judge to influence sentencing.

………

In racing news, David Millar wins stage 12 of the Tour de France, seven years about coming back from a doping ban, in what’s turning into a British dominated race. Cadel Evans cracks in stage 11, while Wiggins tightens his grasp on the lead, and Thomas Voeckler won the first mountain stage of the Tour de France.

Bicycling offers an update on the eight Americans who started this year’s Tour; it ain’t pretty. Meanwhile, young riders Chris Froome and Tejay Van Garderen learn the hard way what it means to be a domestique.

Not content to go after Lance, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency bans his doctors and former trainer, while Armstrong refiles his lawsuit against USADA, and a U.S. representative calls for an investigation into the USADA for wasting time investigating Armstrong. And current former TdF champ Alberto Contador plans to return from his doping ban next month.

It’s been 45 years since British rider Tommy Simpson died in the Tour de France, the first, but sadly not only, fatality in its 109 year history.

The route for the fourth stage of August’s badly named USA Pro Cycling Challenge is in danger, as a giant sinkhole threatens to swallow the roadway.

In local racing, the Easy Reader offers a good wrap up of last weekend’s Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, as Ken Hanson and Shelby Reynolds take the top men’s and women’s categories, respectively.

………

A new date — and new routes — have been announced for this fall’s CicLAvia, in order to make room for the space shuttle. Here’s your chance to ask CicLAvia’s Stephen Villavaso about the changes. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa offers up a video explaining how CicLAvia is transforming our streets, while Better Bike provides a detailed look at the new areas you’ll experience.

………

Bill Cosby narrates a 1970s-era public service video about bi-cycling, as he calls it; who knew Santa Ana used to be bike friendly?

………

A reader sends in this photo of an angry Santa Monica bus driver cursing him out after he asked the driver to be more careful. He notes that Big Blue Bus officials were very helpful in handling his complaint, and that simply taking a photo is often the best thing you can do when confronted with a traffic altercation.

I’ve long been a believer in pulling out a camera when confronted with angry driver.

Especially ones that may have been otherwise distracted.

………

The monthly Spoke(n) Art ride rolls tomorrow. CD13 City Council candidate Josh Post is hosting a two hour fun ride along the L.A. River bike path on July 22nd to share his vision for a bike-friendly L.A. and revitalization of the L.A. River. If you’re in the market for a new job, Bikes and Hikes LA is looking for in-shape, bilingual tour guides. LADOT will be testing new treatments Sunday for the badly worn Spring Street green bike lanes. BIKAS offers a better than passing grade for L.A.’s new bikeway efforts. Will Campbell creates another great timelapse through Griffith Park. Santa Monica moves forward with their own 13 station bike share program, which may or may not be compatible with the upcoming L.A. bike share; Better Bike asks what role, if any, the Westside Council of Governments will play on the region’s expanding bike share plans. Glendale gives up on the Honolulu Ave road diet, as auto-centric council member Dan Weaver observes that the city’s streets were designed for automobiles, not bicycles; thanks to Michael Wade for the heads-up. The route has been set for Pasadena’s inaugural Gran Fondo. A ghost bike was installed Friday for Larry Schellhase, the cyclist killed when he hit road debris in Redondo Beach last April.

Newport Beach votes on placing sharrows on the East Coast Highway; word from cdmCyclist’s Frank Peters is that they were approved. San Diego cyclists are understandably upset after Caltrans decides to remove a ghost bike for fallen rider Nick Venuto, but manage to save another for Chuck Gilbreth; they’ll also host a ride to honor fallen cyclists Theodore Jones and Angel Bojorquez on July 25th. San Diego hires Safe Moves to provide bike and pedestrian safety training to students. A local resident asks why Coronado isn’t bike friendly. Sharrows are coming to Highway 101 in Solano Beach. The Bert and Ernie approach to sharing the road. Be careful biking with your dog running alongside; or better yet, just don’t. Security video catches a Solvang burglar breaking in to a bike shop and running out with two bikes. Palo Alto moves forward with a new bike plan. Good news, as the Modesto girl seriously injured when she stepped in front of an antique car to save her bike riding brother returns home from the hospital. Cyclists are gaining political influence in the Bay Area, though not everyone is happy with it. A not guilty plea from the driver accused of critically injuring New Zealand pro cyclist Michael Torckler in a Sonoma County hit and run.

The Bike League looks at our own Dorothy Wong. States can’t wait to spend former bike funding on other projects. New pedals double as bike locks. A Portland study shows bicyclists spend more at local business. Clif Bar celebrates its 20th Anniversary by giving Public bikes to their employees. According to a Denver paper, either cruiser bikes rule, or they’re ruining cycling for the rest of us. A micro brewery in my home town converts its parking lot into secure bike parking. Survivors of the devastating Colorado fires say their lives would be better if they could just get rid of those damn bikes. Aspen CO cyclist can now expect to get a warning instead of a ticket. A North Dakota’s Supreme Court rules a cyclist can be convicted of drunk bicycling. Republican candidates in Madison WI unite to oppose a local bike path. Turns out riding a bike in Chicago is safer than riding in the suburbs. A Michigan driver rear-ended and critically injured a rider, then casually continued on to the same casino where his victim worked. Ohio bike lawyer Steve Magas asks if this is the worst crash report ever. A reminder that cyclists aren’t always the good guys, while a Columbus writer says that city’s drivers are courteous, but cyclists are road-hogging jerks who should be ticketed — and describes unsafely passing a rider as proof. New York plans to slow more drivers down to a 20 mph speed limit. Boston’s Lovely Bicycle finds the middle ground in appreciating John Forester, the father of vehicular cycling. Shockingly, it turns out drivers break the law more than cyclists. Turns out that the DC-area cyclist who killed a pedestrian recently wasn’t a spandex-clad maniac after all. North Carolina cyclists ride in honor of Steve Jordan, the state director for mental health, who was killed while riding his bike on the 4th of July. Florida plans to allow bikes on some limited access highways on a trial basis.

A San Diego physician saves the life of a doored cyclist while vacationing in Vancouver. The British Medical Association says curb car use and make room for bikes and pedestrians. From anorexic model to a favorite in team pursuit at the London Olympics. A British Paralympic cyclist sees her games in doubt after she’s Jerry Browned by a passing car. German cyclist Kristina Vogel bounces back from a broken neck to compete in London. A London cyclist rhetorically asks why not just ban bikes entirely after they’re barred from bus and Olympic lanes prior to the games. A British cyclist receives the equivalent of 36 cents in court ordered compensation for his stolen bike. “Pranksters” nearly decapitate a 12-year old English boy by stringing rope across the footbridge he was riding on; yeah, real funny. Tests show cyclists using earphones at a reasonable level can still hear warning sounds from other riders, comparable to a car driver with no music playing. An Aussie cyclist calls for an end to road rage.

Finally, that’s what I call a rough ride, as a Type 1 Diabetic riding in the Tour Divide stops to check his blood sugar, encounters a bear, slides off of an embankment and nearly drowns in a river before making his way back to his bike — and on to a hospital. This is what I call a sharrow. And these are the rules that should govern every bike club:

1) Ride Bikes

2) Try not to be an ass

………

My apologies to everyone who sent me links this past week. Between all the breaking news and an inadvertent email crash, I’ve completely lost track of who sent me what. But I am grateful to each of you, and hope you’ll all keep sending me more stories as we move forward.


Breaking news — Road racing killer of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado pleads guilty

July 9, 2012

Big breaking news from San Bernardino.

I’ve just been forwarded an email indicating that Patrick Michael Roraff has entered a guilty plea in the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado.

According to the email from Velo Club LaGrange Race Program Director/Elite Men’s Team Manager Stu Press, Roraff pleaded guilty to charges today. He’d been charged with a single count of felony gross vehicular manslaughter with a maximum sentence of six years in state prison.

Alvarado was on a solo training ride on Greenspot Road in Highland, northeast of San Bernardino on April 8, 2010 when a car driven by Roraff went out of control while street racing and hit Alvardo, who died at the scene. Roraff later apologized for his actions.

The driver of the other car, Brett Michael Morin, was also charged in the same case; the San Bernardino County Court website indicates he’s scheduled for a disposition/reset hearing on August 15.

Roraff will be sentenced at 8:30 am on August 6th, in Department S26 of the San Bernardino County Court.

According to Press’ email, cyclists are encouraged to attend and make a brief (2 – 5 minute) victim impact statement stating how Alvarado’s death has impacted you. That can be anything from whether you knew him and suffered a direct loss, or if it has affected you in other ways, such as being afraid to ride for fear of similar incidents.

While his plea change suggests that a plea deal may be in place, a big turn out could still influence the sentence the judge imposes.


No news is good news? Stephanie Segal sentencing delayed

October 28, 2011

As many of you may know, Stephanie Segal was scheduled to be sentenced yesterday for the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.

However, when there was no word last night on the sentencing, I reached out to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels to see if he’d heard anything. As it turned out, he’d already checked with the court clerk, who informed him that the hearing had been continued to November 29th; no reason was given.

Personally, I’m hoping the judge will give us a strict sentence we can be thankful for around Thanksgiving, instead of a terrifying slap on the wrist just before Halloween.

……..

Wheels also reports that Shawn Fields is appealing his seven-year sentence in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin, case number B236186. His opening brief is due in mid-December; however, he’s still waiting for an attorney to be appointed, so expect a delay.

And a trial date has finally been scheduled for Patrick Roraff in the alleged street-racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for December 19, with a trial readiness conference January 20th, and the actual trial is set to begin on January 23rd. As Wheels notes, we’ll have to see how firm those dates turn out to be.

After all, Roraff may have some more soccer matches scheduled.


Be careful riding around schools, no news is very good news, and alleged Alvarado killer will face trial

September 6, 2011

School is back in session almost everywhere now.

So be especially careful riding around schools, particularly at times when parents are dropping off or picking up children. Someone passing by on a bike is likely to be the last thing they’re looking for in the mad rush to get back to their school routine.

……..

Keep your fingers crossed.

Despite seeing countless reports of cycling collisions throughout the U.S. and around the world — just a handful of which you’ll find below — I haven’t gotten any news of serious cycling incidents in the SoCal area.

I always hold my breath on three day weekends — the 4th of July was particularly bad. And sometimes, it takes a few days for news to filter in, as the press returns to work and police reports slowly leak out.

But in this case, no news really is good news.

……..

Dj Wheels reports that motions to dismiss or reduce the charges against Patrick Roraff, the teenage driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing in April of last year, have been denied.

However, he still gets to travel to Texas to play soccer with his teammates, 17 months after his alleged victim was run down.

William Gladstone was right.

Meanwhile, Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines faces a preliminary hearing today in an Orange County courtroom for critically injuring a cyclist in an allegedly drunken Seal Beach hit-and-run. Maybe he’ll meet Renato Demartino, who is scheduled for a hearing today in the same courthouse; he’s accused in the Tustin hit-and-run death of cyclist Marco Acuapan last April, four months after Demartino allegedly ran him down.

I wonder what they would talk about.

……..

New bike lanes hit the pavement on First Street in Boyle Heights. Meanwhile, Zeke’s L.A.-based brother Dave reports that work has begun on new bike lanes on Cahuenga Blvd from Franklin to near the Hollywood Bowl; eventually, they should reach all the way to Lankershim.

But don’t hold your breath.

……..

Damien Newton wants your questions for bike lawyer Howard Krepack. The next meeting of the nearly named group to re-envision North Figueroa as a Complete Street takes place at 7 pm on Friday, September 9th at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa. New signs pop up urging cyclists to share the L.A. River Bike Path with pedestrians in Elysian Valley. Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Blvd should soon be a significantly greener — and bike-friendlier — street. Santa Monica Spoke invites you to RSVP for dinner, bikes and cupcakes with Elly Blue. A driver reports hitting a bike in the HOV lane on the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park, but no word on whether it was being ridden or just laying in the lane; we’ll hope for the latter.

HuffPo offers more than your daily dose of celebs on bikes; thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up. Cyclists and motorists owe each other respect. According to Tucson Velo, a driver accused of hitting and killing a cyclist had previous DUI arrests; nice work keeping a dangerous driver on the streets until he finally killed someone. Tour de Fat draws 12,000 cyclists in my hometown of Fort Collins CO; it will be here on October 8th. After an Idaho boy’s new bike is stolen, replacement offers pour in. A Missoula cyclist is found dead on the sidewalk in an apparent solo collision; of course, as cyclists know but police can’t seem to figure out, you don’t have to actually hit a rider to cause a cycling collision. A Minnesota triathlete dies one month after a mountain biking accident in Colorado. A Vermont cyclist died after bypassing barriers closing a road damaged by Hurricane Irene; seriously people, when the road is closed, there may be a reason for it. A New York cyclist is killed after running a red light; that’s why you don’t do that, people. Cyclists open fire near the nation’s capitol; thanks to DC for the heads-up. A 75-year old Florida cyclist is killed by an 84-year old driver in a SMIDSY;* fortunately for the driver, failure to see your victim is the universal Get Out of Jail Free Card — especially in Florida.

Toronto Streets should be a delight, not a hospital waiting room. The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain officially takes flight; now the hard work begins. Progress is slow on London’s cycling revolution. Potholes in Sheffield UK threaten that city’s bid to host a stage of the Tour de France. Great bike art from Dublin. Instead of making the roads safer, Aussie authorities idiotically consider making hi-vis vests mandatory for all cyclists; maybe that way drivers will finally see the riders they run down. Another pro team bites the dust, as the Scheck brothers’ Leopard-Trek team merges with Team RadioShack and a bunch of riders prepare to get the boot. Investigation shows pro cyclist Riccardo Ricco gave himself a botched transfusion. A Chinese banking official is held for killing a cyclist while driving drunk.

Finally, David Hembrow reads L.A.’s new bike plan, finds it critically lacking and concludes we’re being fed a line. And the Economist says America is no place for cyclists, with a few notable exceptions.

*Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You.

SaMo cyclist deliberately assaulted; alleged Jorge Alvarado killer plays soccer in Texas

August 18, 2011

I’ve gotten reports of an intentional assault on a cyclist in Santa Monica on Wednesday.

Cyclist Will Ashe sends word that the driver of a black Lexus GS 470 deliberately rear-ended another rider on Colorado Ave, then fled the scene. Police were called, but the victim got the license plate number wrong.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s hard to get the number right when you’re trying to pick yourself up off the pavement.

Be on the lookout for a car that meets that description driven by an African-American man. But remember that there are probably hundreds of cars like that on the Westside.

So don’t get carried away.

Call the police, and let them deal with it.

Update: In my rush to get this online last night, I neglected to mention that the rider is okay, though the bike has a tacoed rear wheel.

……..

Good news and — to me, at least — maddening news on the legal front.

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that the judge has denied a motion to suppress evidence in the case of Shawn Fields; the allegedly drunk hit-and-run driver is accused of killing 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October.

The defense had argued that police did not have a warrant when the entered Fields’ house after he did not respond when they saw him sleeping inside. As a result, they wanted everything officers observed after entering the home suppressed, as well as the results of blood alcohol and field sobriety tests.

However, the judge ruled that the police did the right to enter the home based on probable cause and exigent circumstances.

The next court date is pre-trial hearing scheduled for September 20th at the San Fernando courthouse, case # PA068775.

Meanwhile, in the case of Patrick Roraff, the teenage driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing in April of last year, has had his pretrial hearing delayed until September 1st, case #SB – FSB1002475.

Wheels reports that attorneys for Roraff and co-defendant Brett Morin have both filed motions to have their charges dismissed for insufficient evidence; Roraff has also filed a motion to have his charges reduced from felony manslaughter to a misdemeanor; I’m told that both motions are routine.

Don’t go looking him around here next month, though. Despite the seriousness of the charges he faces, the judge had given Roraff permission to travel to Texas with his school soccer team.

So let me get this straight.

Despite — allegedly — killing another human being because he couldn’t resist the urge to illegally race another driver, he gets to play soccer with his friends, while Jorge Alvarado’s family and loved ones face going on without him.

Am I the only one who finds that more than a little infuriating?

……..

The California Bicycle Coalition calls for action to support AB 345 to give cyclists and pedestrians the voice with Caltrans we should have had all along.

……..

Intriguing idea, as Streetsblog’s Damien Newton reports — and supports — an idea floated by the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee to elevate the planned Expo Bikeway over several busy Westside intersections.

And speaking of Streetsblog, Damien looks at bike-friendly Long Beach this week.

……..

Looks like someone is deliberately trying to sabotage courses for next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Evidently feeling a need to attack all former Tour de France winners, Floyd Landis accuses Alberto Contador of doping by association; he’s no doubt looking for dirt on Cadel Evans as we speak. Meanwhile, the Cadel effect results in an upsurge of interest in cycling Down Under. Vincenzo Nibali will defend his title in the Vuelta. Twenty-year old Portland racer Jacob Rathe goes pro with top-tier team Garmin-Cervelo; evidently, Taylor Phinney isn’t the only pro cycling prodigy.

……..

A writer for the Baltimore sun reminds us that bikes can kill, too.

However, a tiny bit of perspective might be helpful — you can count the number of people killed by bikes each year on one hand and still respond with the inappropriate gesture of your choice, while motor vehicles kill well over 30,000 people a year in the U.S. alone.

Of course, the people who hate bikes also tend to forget that colliding with a pedestrian is just as likely to result in serious injuries or death to the cyclist. And it isn’t always the cyclists’ fault. But maybe the solution is as simple as better infrastructure.

……..

LACMA will offer a free screening of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure this Friday. More on the new 7th Street road diet and bike lanes from EcoVillage, CicLAvia and LADOT Bike Blog; I rode them myself Wednesday evening, but I’ll save that story for another day. Bicycle Fixation offers a lovely look at a bike Sunday in Santa Monica. CicLAvia expands into South L.A. and Olvera Street and Chinatown. C.I.C.L.E. says studies show exercise increases lifespan, so why aren’t we? A look back at biking in L.A. circa 1901. Photos from the newly upgraded section of the Ballona Bike Path in Culver City. UC Irvine makes a dent in campus bike thefts by arresting five suspected thieves, one for the third time; does the third strike law apply to bike theft? Meanwhile, Manhattan Beach police arrest another four bike thieves; 9 down, a few thousand or so to go. Live 4 Bikes, a new bike shop is officially opening in Bellflower this weekend, and offering free tune-up for the first 50 customers. Temple City plans to install protected bike lanes on Rosemead Blvd. The Claremont Cyclist asks why the recent stories about deaths in Yosemite ignored the park’s leading killer. Sometimes, when everything goes wrong it turns out better. After a flurry of activity by local advocates, Newport Beach’s illegal, though long-standing, ban on bikes on a local street is coming down, despite claims that it really wasn’t a ban after all, despite what the sign says.

L.A.’s own former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati wins the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix; San Diego’s Trina Jacobson takes the women’s crown. San Diego hosts a successful Courteous Mass. Drivers complain about cyclists, cyclists complain about bikers. A Fairfield cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after witnesses say he ran a red light and rode into the path of a turning car. A bill increasing penalties for using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving goes to the Governor’s desk — and extends the prohibition to cyclists, as well, so hang the damn thing up when you ride, already.

More evidence that bicycling is a lot safer than people think; still, Bob Mionske says it’s a good idea to wear a helmet — legally as well as medically — even if you don’t have to. It may be the end of the road for motormania. Utah hit-and-runs are on the rise as more people ride bikes. A beginner’s guide to safe cycling from my hometown, good advice that would work anywhere. More on the Black Hawk bike ban going to the Colorado Supreme Court. Compete Streets is now the law in New York state. There’s good news for NYC cyclists as the lawsuit against the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes is dismissed. After a shattering hit-and-run, New York police do…not much. Another day, another Daily News hack job on Gotham cyclists; judging by their reports, Daily News reporters would rather deal with a zombie apocalypse than an infestation of bike riders. Defining bikers, cyclists and rolling pedestrians. The New York Times says Florida pedestrians have to run for their lives.

A look at the infamously popular Rosarito-to-Ensenada bike ride coming up next month. A Canadian street performer has his prop bike stolen during his act. Victoria police crack down on cyclists for not wearing helmets. A UK motorist is convicted of using two mobile phones to talk and tweet at the same time while driving — and making the police wait while he finished his call. No, seriously. Bike theft is a problem in the UK as well, as a 14-year old rider helps bust a bike theft ring. Free-to-use bike pumps appear in London. Why Cambridge is a model cycling city. Now you can ride your bike to look for Nessie. The first improved roads were built for and by cyclists, before they were co-opted by motorists. Seville, Spain experiences a 100 time jump in cycling levels in just four years, which would probably put the Daily News writers in a padded cell.

Finally, Danny MacAskill is back, doing the impossible on two wheels. And writing for Bicycling, pro cyclist Ted King says enjoy — truly, consciously enjoy — your next ride. And your life.

Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind.


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