Bicyclists Ride for Justice, Chief Beck Hears All About It

February 24, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 2 Comments
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Bicyclists pause at Fig & 2nd St just west of Downtown where Ed Magos was hit.

This afternoon, bicyclists rode to City Hall to speak out against the unending number of hit-and-run incidents involving bicycle riders occurring across Los Angeles. Specifically they met in East Hollywood to ride the route that Ed Magos, an East Hollywood Neighborhood Councilmember and recent victim of a hit-and-run, would normally ride on any day heading to work Downtown. The ride stopped to point out the very location where Ed was struck and passed the places where several other bicyclists on the ride had been involved in what seems to be a right of passage for your average bicyclist in LA—incidents of harassment, hit-and-runs, and other absurdities of the dangerous streets most people casually brush off as accidents.

Arriving at City Hall, the afternoon’s Transportation Committee was scheduled for full Council Chambers in anticipation of the large bicyclist presence to speak with Chief Beck. As is usual at T-Committe meetings these days, the bicycle related agenda item was moved to the top of the list, and Chief Beck took the stage.

The Chief immediately jumped in with an impressive nod towards informing his entire police department to the “ever increasing” role of bicycles as a vital form of transportation in this City. Flanked by Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger,  Chief Beck dropped the fact that he has spoken directly to the City Attorney’s office who will be reopening Ed Magos’ case to give it a second look.

Assitant Chief Paysinger, Chief Beck, CM Rosendahl, and CM LaBonge

“We hear you, we know that we can do a better job for you, we will do a better job for you,” the Chief declared. As evidence of inroads made toward this goal, the Chief pointed out his appointment of Commander David Doan as the LAPD’s liaison to the newly created Bicycle Task Force. The Chief spoke to a culture change underway here in Los Angeles, “a good culture change” in his words, capping what was quickly turning into a preach to the choir. “But!” Chief Beck reminded, “don’t just listen to what I say, watch what I do,” braodcasting an open call for bicyclists to keep on Chief Beck and his department about their commitment to improvements.

The floor was then opened to the bicyclists. Stephen Box came forth to speak and was commended by Chief Beck for his leadership in working with the LAPD on the issue of cyclists rights. LACBC’s Aurisha Smolarski engaged in a direct question and answer with the Chief, getting him to state that an internal document aimed at educating individual officers is nearing completion and will go before the Bicycle Task Force before it’s made official. Colin Bogart read a piece submitted by Ed Magos, who’s recovering but still unable to ride. Roadblock began a string of questions on how to advance the likelihood for prosecution of hit-and-runs, which eventually lead to a pointed back and forth with the present Deputy City Attorney.

Councilmember Rosendahl asked the Chief a number of questions, key among them one which stemmed from a conversation had with Stephen Box. A concern has been developing over a potential disconnect between the Chief’s staff on the tenth floor and the boots on the street. The Chief reiterated his commitment to educating his uniformed resources, to which Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger spoke about both his background and interest in maintaining a connection between bicyclists and LAPD (it was Chief Paysinger who initiated the LAPD’s bike-cop program).

It was a good afternoon for bicyclists, speaking directly to and interacting positively with the Chief of Police. If we can keep up on these kinds of actions, change on the streets of LA is bound to happen.

No Warning of Hazardous Road Conditions Causes Bicyclists to Suffer Serious Injuries

February 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Bike News | Leave a comment
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An article written by GORDON, EDELSTEIN, KREPACK, GRANT, FELTON & GOLDSTEIN at geklaw.com

No Warning of Hazardous Road Conditions Causes Bicyclists to Suffer Serious Injuries

Death and taxes—those are givens. Most of us anticipate them, even plan for them. But what happens when the unexpected occurs? For several clients of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, it proved disastrous. For the responsible party—Caltrans—it means legal action. The story unfolded on a sunny weekend last August. The firm’s clients were four of many bicyclists who set out for a ride on Pacific Coast Highway that ended unexpectedly. Like most experienced cyclists, they went through their pre-ride routines—checking tire pressure, filling water bottles, packing an extra tube, identification and a cell phone in their jersey pockets. What they didn’t know, and couldn’t plan for, however, was that a stretch of PCH—at the bottom of an incline—was left in a dangerous state of disrepair caused by a Caltrans road construction project. There was no warning of what many cyclists referred to as a “death trap.” No signs, no delineating tape, no cones. The result? Cyclists went down…hard and suffered everything from severe cases of road rash to concussions, broken bones, punctured lungs, even paralysis. “Caltrans did not do their job,” says Personal Injury Attorney Howard Krepack, an avid cyclist who is handling the cases. “Pursuant to policy and directive, they are responsible for issuing warnings about highway construction projects, and they dropped the ball…big time. Call it oversight, carelessness, stupidity or indifference…it still comes down to many innocent people being seriously injured. “It’s all about safety. We elect representatives who hire bureaucrats and expect them to keep us safe. Safety went out the window here. And, this is just one example of what has become a systemic problem. Policies are set to protect the safety of the public, but all too often there is no implementation or enforcement of the policies. They’re just words, empty promises that lead to, in cases such as this, dire consequences for innocent victims.” To add insult to injury…literally, Caltrans said they were not aware of the hazardous conditions, which existed from Friday through Sunday, until Monday morning because they were closed due to the state-mandated furlough. “Caltrans left the road in a condition that was an accident waiting to happen. There was a total breakdown in communication. Messages were left on their hotline, e-mails were sent informing them of the conditions, and still nothing was done until Monday. When you have bicyclists being airlifted to hospitals, it’s difficult to believe that the powers that be weren’t aware of the problem.” Caltrans will have to face this issue head-on as claims have been filed against the governmental agency by Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton and Goldstein on behalf of its clients. “This is the same kind of negligence on the part of Caltrans that led to the death of bicyclist Scott Bleifer more than four years ago. They have a Bike Coordinator, there is a PCH Task Force, and yet they fail to warn cyclists of hazardous road conditions or remedy the situation in a timely fashion.”

LAPD Asks “What Are LA’s Worst Intersections for Bicyclists”

February 3, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 2 Comments
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Yesterday,  LACBC, members of the Bike Working Group and BAC Chair Glenn Bailey attended the second Bicycle Task Force meeting with LAPD. The sit down came out of an initial meeting with Glenn Bailey, members of the Bike Working Group, and Carlos Morales of The Voice Blog as well as a separate talk between LAPD and LACBC.  We had a very productive dialogue with LAPD’s Commander David Doan and Sargent David Krumer just before they made a presentation to the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Sargent Krumer presented on the power point he has been putting together from data related to bicyclist traffic incidents, statistics that the LAPD reports to the CHP every year.  Commander Doan stated that he could begin mobilizing his officers to help get these numbers down if only he could get a better sense of where the most dangerous locations for bicyclists are.

So we’re asking you: “What are Los Angeles’ most dangerous intersections for bicyclists?”

Let us know any incidents you’ve had and where.  Some of the “tools” Commander Doan mentioned they could start using to make sure drivers are respecting bicyclist safety are stings (similar to the pedestrian stings happening earlier this year), increased uniformed enforcement, and LAPD supported recommendations to DOT on streets and intersections that need to be reworked—including broken or non-existent bike-detectors that leave you forced to run a red light to get home at night and impassable intersections designed without any considerations beyond vehicles. At the very least, by getting the word out on these problem areas, we as bicyclists can know when to take extra caution and where to push for better facilities.

Our first nominee: Glendale Blvd, at Park st, just south of the Sunset Blvd Bridge.

Not only was this the site of Roadblock’s on going hit-and-run incident, the death of jornalero bicyclist Jesus Castillo, and other untold nightmares, it’s also one of the most used bicycle routes in the city–connecting Echo Park and Downtown–and it’s smack dab in a residential neighborhood surrounded by a historic park.

So what’s your least favorite intersection in LA?  Let us know via Twitter @lacbc, on Facebook, or through an interactive Google Map we’ve set up.

—ramon@la-bike.org

LAPD moves forward on education and outreach plans

February 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 1 Comment
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On Thursday, January 21st, LACBC met with Sgt. David Krumer, from the Office of Operations at LAPD. He is working with Commander Doan on bicycling issues. This meeting was a continuation of the work done by a collective group of advocates including LACBC, Bikeside, Bike Writers Collective, Sustainable Streets, the Bike Advisory Committee, LA Bike Working Group, IlluminateLA, the Voice Newspapers, and many individuals who have been working to make sure that LAPD create an educational program for officers to eliminate miss information on enforcement and cyclists’ rules to the road. LACBC had met with LAPD in August to request that they initiate an education program for officers and were assured that they would be working on it. We have forwarded them police trainings from other cities such as Chicago and San Fransisco.

At our Thursday meeting on January 21st, LACBC discussed and made comments on LAPD’s PSA which highlights some educational elements for both motorists and cyclists. It is a pretty basic manual on how to safely share the road. We offered suggestions on how to circulate the info once it is made public. LACBC pitched the idea of having visible visible billboards to educate motorists. We were notified that there was limited budget.

After speaking with the Mayor’s office last week on January 28th, it seems that we will be moving forward on discussing an Outreach Plan for creating safer streets. We are hopeful that this will get approved. LACBC has been asked to submit design concepts which the City will then use to make public billboards throughout LA. (Stay tuned for more info and how you can get involved.)

We also brought up the issue of hit and runs, collisions, bike thefts, harassment, officer discretion and lack of LAPD cooperation and respect. Sgt. Krumer clarified the process and importance of reporting these incidents.

Some important facts about reporting:

* When reporting a harassment make sure to establish that the motorist made an intentional attempt to harm.
* When reporting a hit-and-run be sure to identify the driver of the vehicle or find a witness who can place the face.
* When reporting a collision, LAPD will not respond unless there is a complaint of physical injury or pain.
* You are entitled to make a report for anything stolen from a bike, even if it just your chain or seat. LAPD needs this information to track thefts and to better address the issue.

This was the beginning of many more monthly meetings the bicycling community will be having with LAPD.

Cyclist-Involved Hit and Run

January 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Posted in Bike News | 1 Comment
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The Santa Monica Police Department needs your assistance in
identifying and locating a vehicle involved in a felony hit and run
traffic collision.

On January 17, 2009 at about 12:30, a 33 year-old male bicyclist
riding southbound on 20th Street at Arizona Avenue was struck by an
unknown vehicle. After striking the cyclist, the vehicle ran over the
bicycle and the rider’s body and then left the scene without rendering
any assistance or notifying the police. There is no description of the
vehicle at this time; however, it may have front scratches or dents
and possibly a cracked windshield. The bicyclist is currently in
critical condition at a local hospital

(Bulletin P-09-001 dated 19 January)

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