A Handy Checklist For Bicyclists If Hit By A Car

November 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Resources | 5 Comments
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All too often I hear of cyclists not getting all the info they need from motorists after a collision.Getting all the required information at the scene of the collision is one of the most important things that you can do to best position the incident to have charges pressed and/or to get compensation for any physical injuries, lost wages, property damage (i.e., your bike, your helmet, contents of your bags, etc.), and to make sure the driver is held accountable.

I spoke with Ross Hirsch, the local attorney who represented Ed Magos in the monumental Hit-and-Run case.  He explains that “often times the cyclist’s post-crash ‘weird state of mind’ is the culprit for the failure to get all of, and the right, information.”  Cyclists are typically in a state of shock after a collision, no matter how serious, and it is quite normal for them to be confused–and thus they may not be thinking clearly.  And motorists who will likely be looking out for their own interests and seeking to minimize any potential exposure, are typically reluctant to voluntarily offer all the information that the CVC requires to be exchanged in the event of a collision.  Thus, play it safe and ask for all their information—demand it if you have to.

For that reason Hirsch has put together a convenient “cheat sheet” that he carries around in his bag in the event of a collision.

“I always ride with a pen and my ‘handy dandy cheat sheet’–with fill-in-the-blank spaces for all the info I might need after a collision.  It’s very simple, but reminds me to get what I need.”  On the back side of the cheat sheet, he has also included some relevant CVCs and LAMCs that pertain to bikes—just in case a motorist or an officer is ever unsure of what the bike laws are.

The cheat sheet outlines some of the basic and most relevant information you need in the event of a collision:

1. Call 9-1-1
2. Car license plate
3. Car make+model+color
4. Driver’s name+license #
5. Driver’s phone #
6. Driver’s address
7. Driver’s insurance policy #, co.
8. Car Owner? Who?
9. Witness(es) info
10. Confirm above from driver’s license (don’t take their word for it)
11. Get a police report!
12. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES (of driver, too)!

Download your copy here and be sure to carry it with you.

For more information you can contact Ross Hirsch at rhirsch@candffirm.com

Angelina Everett Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail

November 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Bike News | 3 Comments
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Ed Magos (left), Bobby Gadda (moustache), Ross Hirsch (helmeted), and Danny Jimenez (glasses) gather outside the courthouse after the sentencing. (Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times / November 9, 2010)

The third, and now final, Ed Magos Ride for Justice rode yesterday from East Hollywood to the Superior Courthouse to witness Angelina Everett’s sentencing. After the grueling testimony last week I was curious to see how this would turn out. First, the prosecutor played the 911 tapes from the day, which we had not heard last week because we ran out of time. This included the Good Samaritan at the scene describing Magos’ injuries, and Everett calling in an hour and 20 minutes later, claiming that she left to look for somewhere to park and didn’t know what to do now. The operator told her that leaving the scene of an accident is a felony, and that she needed to turn herself in immediately, at which point Everett started crying and asked if she was going to go to jail. The operator was sympathetic and told her that she had once hit someone with her car(!) and didn’t go to jail. There was then a debate among the emergency operators (one commented “Lord have mercy”) on where exactly she should go, since Magos was already in the hospital. They ended up having her turn herself in at a police station.

At this point the actual haggling over the sentence began. The judge Elaine Mandel starting out by saying that in light of the seriousness of the misdemeanor, Everett was looking at “serious jail time”. This was a surprise to most of us in the courtroom, given the past history of hit and run judgments. I think that the press attention in this case made a big difference. LACBC worked diligently to make sure that this case got the press attention it deserved, starting with the first Ride For Justice back in February when we demanded that the city press charges in this case. Yesterday there was an LA Times reporter taking notes in the audience (who later wrote this great article on the subject), and an LA Times photographer had been removed from the court for having his camera with him. Thus the judge was well aware that others were paying attention to this case.

Mandel gave Everett a choice of 60 days contiguous city jail or 90 days non-contiguous, so that she could go to work during the week and jail on the weekends. Everett opted for the latter. She was also sentenced to 30 days community labor and significant restitution to Magos for medical bills and lost work. There will be one more hearing about her ability to pay the restitution and attorney’s fees.

Some would call this a ‘victory’ for the bike community, but we left the court room feeling more sad for everyone involved. Even if you think she ‘deserves’ it, it’s tough to see someone sentenced to jail time. There were few dry eyes in the court room by the end of the hearing. Hopefully other drivers (and judges!) will get the message that hit and runs are serious crimes that can and do carry jail penalties.

-Bobby Gadda

What To Do In Case of A Collision

November 9, 2010 at 8:24 am | Posted in Resources | 5 Comments
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Make a report regardless of how minor the incident. It is important for LAPD to track all collisions involving cyclists and motorists.

1. Call 911. Remain calm, and don’t move if you’re hurt.
2. Don’t assume you’re not injured; you might have internal injuries.
3. Get the following information from all involved drivers: name, address, phone, license number, plate number, make of car, insurance company and policy number, and visual identification of driver.
4. Get names and phone numbers of all witnesses.
5. Get the police report from the officer at the scene.
6. Write down how the incident happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.
7. Keep or photograph any damaged clothing or equipment.
8. Know your rights under the California Vehicle Code and the local Municipal Code.

More useful information regarding bicycle safety can be found in the new and improved LACBC Resource Guide. Details on how to purchase a copy will be released soon.

Mayor Villaraigosa, the Need To Take Action for Safer Streets in Los Angeles is Now Painfully Clear

July 20, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Bike News | 2 Comments
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A facility like San Francisco's protected green bike lane could have prevented the Mayor's crash. Photos; Bryan Goebel/StreetsblogSF

We just delivered a letter to Mayor Villaraigosa’s office. Click here to read it.

LACBC is saddened to hear about Mayor Villaraigosa’s recent bicycle crash. First and foremost, we wish Mayor Villaraigosa a quick recovery.

However, many local bicyclists can relate to the mayor’s experience all too well. The injury suffered by Mayor Villaraigosa on Venice Boulevard makes clear the need for safer streets for all road users in Los Angeles.

More education is needed for motorists about looking for bicyclists before pulling in or out of a parking space, opening car doors, or turning across a bike lane. With the Mayor’s leadership, the City should begin a bicycle safety awareness campaign similar to New York City’s “Look” campaign.

NYC's Bicycle Awareness Campaign "Look" is a model Los Angeles can look to. Photo; looknyc.org

Also, one of the best ways to increase motorist awareness of bicyclists is to create safety in numbers. This can happen through increased and better bicycle infrastructure and is why LACBC has been working so hard on the implementation of sharrows.

LACBC urges the Mayor to follow the lead of cities like Long Beach and San Francisco and make a commitment to implement multiple high-profile bicycle lane projects.  The designation of 10% of Measure R Local Return funds for bike/pedestrian projects in Los Angeles is an important step in this direction and we appreciate the Mayor’s continued support on this issue. The city of Los Angeles should use this opportunity to create a truly sustainable 21st century transportation system that features sound and comprehensive bicycle infrastructure.

Finally, LACBC has also begun working with the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance (LATWA) to promote mutual respect and understanding amongst taxi workers and bicyclists. Together we will create materials to help educate cab drivers about sharing the road with cyclists.

LACBC and LATWA are members of the Green LA Transportation Working Group and believe that both bikes and taxis are part of the sustainable transportation system that Los Angeles needs to reduce overall car dependence.  Bikes and taxis extend the reach of public transportation and will help realize the Mayor’s vision of sustainability, livability, and “elegant density.”

Los Angeles, under the leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and in partnership with the bicycling community and it’s partner advocates in the taxi world, must take action to make sure that our streets are no longer places where people from all walks of life can be injured in the blink of an eye.

How to Make Reports With LAPD

July 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Resources | 12 Comments
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Click to Enlarge

What to Do in Case of a Collision
Make a report regardless of how minor the incident. It is important for LAPD to track all collisions involving cyclists and motorists.
1. Call 911. Remain calm, and don’t move if you’re hurt.
2. Don’t assume you’re not injured; you might have internal injuries.
3. Get the following information from all involved drivers: name, address, phone, license number, plate number, make of car, insurance company and policy number, and visual identification of driver.
4. Get names and phone numbers of all witnesses.
5. Get the police report from the officer at the scene.
6. Write down how the incident happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.
7. Keep or photograph any damaged clothing or equipment.
8. Know your rights under the California Vehicle Code and the local Municipal Code.

What to Do in Case of Harassment
Throwing objects at cyclists, bumping cyclists with cars, specific and unquestionable imminent threats are all considered crimes and reportable to LAPD. Verbal harassment and violations of the vehicle code (passing too closely, improper use of horn) can also be reported.

Email Sergeant David Krumer, LAPD bicycle liaison. He will be able to help guide you.
To get connected to your local precinct, call 1-877-ASK LAPD and they can direct your call.

Injury or no injury?
If there is an injury, regardless of if there is contact, a Traffic report will be completed.
If there is no injury (regardless of contact) there is no report.
If there is an allegation that the driver purposefully struck/attempted to strike the cyclist a crime report will be completed if the elements of the crime are articulated.

No report will be made for violations of the vehicle code or rude comments made by drivers.

What to Do if Your Bike or Bike Parts Get Stolen
You should always make a report for anything stolen from a bike, even if it’s just your chain, or seat. LAPD needs this information to track thefts and to better address the issue.

If the theft is currently happening and the suspect is still at scene:
• Call 911.
• Let them know that the theft is in progress and the suspect is in the area.
If the theft has already occurred:
• Call 911 to take a report,
• or call local precinct to make a report,
• or call 1-877-ASK LAPD.
Things to check: maybe getting your bike back –D.I.Y. style
• Craigslist – you may want to check San Diego and San Francisco listings as well.
• Used bike shops and pawn shops

Los Angeles Bicyclists Threatened by Unsafe Motorists

April 30, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | Leave a comment
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LACBC submitted the following op-ed to the LA Times today:

Nicholas Goldberg

Deputy Editor of Op-Ed Page

Los Angeles Times

oped@latimes.com

Los Angeles Bicyclists Threatened by Unsafe Motorists

On April 20, 2009, police reported that a drunk driver who was driving with a suspended license struck and killed a Los Angeles bicyclist, then fled the scene.  The cyclist was 44-year-old Jesus Castillo.  A witness wrote down the motorist’s license plate number, and within hours, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) arrested the motorist on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter.

Members of the Los Angeles bicycle community reacted swiftly to this incident.  On April 24, they organized a 300-strong group ride in Jesus’ honor and dedicated a “Ghost Bike” – an all-white bike that is erected when a cyclist is killed – at the site of the crash.  Cyclists and community leaders staged a “die-in” at the memorial, and issued a call for prioritizing public safety on Los Angeles streets.

During the same week, another unfortunate car-on-bike conflict occurred.  In this second incident, the evening of April 23, the driver of a Hummer maneuvered the sport utility vehicle into a group of about a dozen cyclists, injuring one and destroying several bicycles.  In this incident, the motorist was clearly at fault, and should be held responsible for personal injury and property damage.  There were numerous witnesses at the scene and plenty of evidence of the driver’s misconduct.  However, a responding LAPD officer apparently sympathized with the SUV’s driver and passengers, and let them drive away without pressing charges.

Both of these incidents illustrate the vulnerability of bicyclists on Los Angeles streets, something many drivers and even law enforcement officers may not always consider. Whether riding alone or in a group, cyclists are endangered by the actions of careless and inattentive drivers on the roads of Los Angeles every day.  Clearly, the City needs to do more to protect bicyclists from getting killed, injured, and intimidated by motorists. Members of law enforcement agencies are too often unaware or misinformed about the rights of cyclists on the road, and are sometimes reluctant to offer their help when incidents occur between motorists and bicyclists. The contrast in the police response to these two incidents is striking, and begs the question: does it take a fatality for law enforcement to take cyclists’ rights seriously?

In light of these recent incidents, and the hostile atmosphere that cyclists experience daily on L.A. streets, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition strongly recommends the following:

The City should support a State bill comparable to Kentucky House Bill 88 for Vehicular Assault of a Bicyclist or Pedestrian.  This legislation gives traffic police and prosecutors the opportunity to hold reckless motorists accountable when they hit pedestrians or bicyclists, and is designed to ensure the safety of all road users regardless of their mode of transportation.

The City of Los Angeles should release its now-overdue Bicycle Master Plan draft documents as soon as possible to ensure adequate time for thorough public review and input.  A strong, fully implemented Bicycle Plan is essential for bicyclists’ safety in Los Angeles.

The cycling community has been calling attention to these issues for years in an attempt to create meaningful change.  If Los Angeles is to become a world-class livable city, we need streets that facilitate safe cycling, and police that work to protect the public and support cyclists’ legal rights on the road.

Jennifer Klausner

Executive Director

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

LACBC RESPONSE TO MEMBER HIT BY DRIVER MAKING RIGHT TURN ON RED

August 1, 2008 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 5 Comments
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The following statement from LACBC Board President Alex Kenefick is a response to LACBC member Marina Rostovskaya, who was hit from behind by a driver turning right on red and the subsequent mishandling of the incident by law enforcement:

Marina Rostovskaya, an active LACBC member and Los Angeles bicyclist, was recently hit by a car—she broke her hand. She reports having been riding through an intersection on a green light when a driver turning right on red hit her.

This was an accident—the driver called the Police and they showed up. Everything seems to be OK in LA, right? Wrong. Marina reports that the police officer who appeared on the scene and took her to the hospital did not take the driver’s information. An accident between two vehicles happened on the roadway. All parties remained on the scene, and the police showed up. Still, Marina has no recourse. She can’t get a settlement. She can’t even go to court because the accident didn’t officially happen. The driver’s record will still be clean, their car insurance rates will not be raised, and Marina will be left to struggle with the emergency room bills on her own.

Across our region, cyclists are not enjoying the full slate of rights available to motorists, while we are still presumably subject to the same responsibilities. Cyclists too often fall in a grey area with these rights and responsibilities. This goes both ways – traffic moves I have pulled while cycling could get a motorist arrested–though I often go unnoticed on a bike.  However, we also fall through the cracks when we need protection.

About 6 months ago I encountered the same kind of mishandling of cyclist rights and responsibilities. It was late at night and I was riding down Sunset Boulevard. A bus driver was repeatedly passing me, the bus tires crossing the line of the already narrow bike lane and crowding me towards the parked cars. It was a local bus, so the driver and I were leapfrogging each other repeatedly, and each time the bus would come further into the bike lane and closer to me. After this happened five or six times, I was convinced the driver’s actions were intentional. When I saw some police officers sitting in their car at a traffic light, I asked them if they were on duty and if they could have a word with the bus driver about how he had been passing me. The police officers were friendly, but ignorant of cyclist rights; one of them said “We’ll pull the bus driver over and have a word with him, but you should really be riding on the sidewalk.” I was painfully reminded of the lack of uniformity when enforcing the rights of cyclists stated in the California Vehicle Code.

The California Vehicle Code states that ‘bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers’ (CVC 21200) and that ‘bicycles traveling slower than normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except when passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid hazards and dangerous conditions, or if the lane is too narrow’ (CVC 21202).

Being told to simply ride on the sidewalk, did not acknowledge my right to use the roadway in a safe manner as granted by the California Vehicle Code. As bicycle ridership in Los Angeles continues to rise for both health and economic reasons, my hope is that bicyclists, motorists, bus drivers, law enforcement, and pedestrians will become aware that we all have rights and we all have responsibilities when it comes to using the roadways of Los Angeles. We all have a place in the city’s transportation system, and with more education on the policies that exist to protect cyclists, cyclists and motorists will be able to share the road in a safe and respectful manner. Then, Marina’s experience, as well as my own, will be dealt with fairly and with respect to a cyclist’s right to ride safely on our roads.

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