Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cyclists demand justice for DUI Victims and Safe Streets


Here's a broken record: Cyclist gets hit by motorist. Police investigate. Police blame the cyclist. Media reports blame the cyclist. DA declines to prosecute. Motorist evades prosecution. Cyclist is denied justice. End of story.

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The Los Angeles Bike Community was out in force this morning to preempt this story from repeating.


Standing before a pack of reporters and news crews, they set the record straight on the true cause of a recent horrific collision, and called out for improved safety for all residents of L.A.


Here's the scoop:

In the early hours of June 16th, 27 year old Christine Dahab drover her car into a group of people. The police were called. The ambulances arrived. 11 people were rushed to the hospital. She was arrested and booked with misdemeanor drunk driving. Less than 9 hours later, she was released. In those same 9 hours the victims were being treated for numerous injuries. One victim was on hand for the press conference.


Another victim had both her legs broken. Another was in critical condition with a head injury.


LAPD officers began an investigation, but the crash actually occurred in Culver City. This is where things get murky. Even though they responded to the 911 call, LAPD didn't have jurisdiction to perform an investigation. They should have called Culver City PD to get them out there to begin an investigation. The case is now in the the hands of Culver City Police, but that preliminary investigation by LAPD is now with Culver City PD. That investigation has not officially been released. BUT, during a meeting with senior LAPD officials, members of the cycling community were told the initial cause of the crash was attributed to cyclists in the roadway.


This is troubling for so many reasons. I'll just mention a few, but Bikeside and Streetsblog are so much more accurate about the minutae. Click here to read about it. All I'll say is:

- Multiple witnesses observed Christine Dahab driving erratically moments before she plowed into the cyclists.

- Dahab blew a .08 at the scene and .07 at the station, just below the legal limit. That does not mean she wasn't impaired.

- Witnesses observed Dahab exit her car holding a cell phone immediately after the crash. Was she tweeting?

- With 100 riders pulled over with blinking safety lights, it's inconceivable that any responsible driver would not see them.

- News reports mention condoms and beer bottles found nearby. WTF?


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More than anything, today taught me that as diverse as the cycling community in L.A. is, we all come together when any rider is in need. We'll continue to press for justice for the victims, for the police and media to not blame them for their injuries, and for improving the safety of all residents of L.A., in and out of the saddle. I was really impressed by the amazing response to this terrible and senseless crime. As I listened to the speakers make the case for justice, I had a moment of déjà vu.

Justice League

If you witnessed the crash, or have any knowledge relevant to this crime, the Culver City PD wants your help. Please call Officer Newman at (310) 253-6254.

A fundraiser has been planned for the victims this Friday. Click HERE for more info.

Another fundraiser is also scheduled for July 8th. Click HERE for more info!

99 Cent Store Breakfast: Green Tacos

On a recent trip to the 99 Cent Store (best place to buy bike lights!) I couldn't help but toss these green bad boys into my shopping basket and give them a whirl.

Once I got home, I pulled together a few odds and ends, some frozen spinach and garlic, and proceeded to toss them in the pan.

Grabbed a couple eggs

In another pan, placed los Tortillas de Nopal under medium heat

Then I went searching for flavor. A pinch little of Jeana Sohn's mild but flavorful homegrown (By her dad in Korea) pepper flakes went into the spinach

and a pinch of Chipolte, Tumeric, Cinnamon and Cumin

After a few minutes, the spinach was defrosted and looking ready for a bath of scrambled eggs

A torn up slice of havarti seemed appropriate

Under the broiler for a spell

et Voila!

garnish with a couple spears of Full Moon Pickle's Asparagus and some Tapatillo and I was ready to chow down on some green breakfast tacos.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Eagerly Awaiting CARmageddon 2011

Los Angeles Traffic
(image via lonut lordache)

In Los Angeles, where the weather is a constant 73 degrees, conversations revolve not around the temperature but the traffic:

Best Shortcut (Crescent Heights, 6th Street, Benedict Canyon)
Bottlenecks (101/110 interchange, 405 at Wilshire,)
The exact time when rush hour begins and ends (7:25am-10:45am and 3:30pm-6:45pm)
Record paces across town (18 minutes from Ocean Ave to Broadway)
Childhood memories of sailing along the 10 freeway (Once upon a time)
That band that's going to jail for doing a concert on the 110 (Not worth mentioning their name)
Fastest route over the hill: Sepulveda, 405 or Laurel Canyon (I won't say except that it's not listed)
PCH or 101 to get to Malibu on a Sunday morning (101 if your headed to Zuma beach or beyond)
Are Saturdays just a congested as weekdays? (Yes)
Surface Streets or Freeway (Depends. See rush hour times)
I would go see Dudamel if not for the 10 freeway at 6pm (Rich man's problem)
Fastest route to LAX (La Cienega or Lincoln)

So when the city announces that a major freeway will be closed for 48 hours, the whole city goes nuts. Well not the whole city. Some see it as an event worthy of celebration, CARmageddon Weekend!

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The few, the brave, the cyclists of Los Angeles relish in this proverbial sabot being tossed into the machine that is the broken L.A. transit network.

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They see a test case for exposing the gridlock caused by a failed strategy going on 70 years, and celebrating how viable the alternatives could be. In general, transit experts agree that a better city can be realized with a mix of transportation options, rather than the outdated obsession of favoring private automobiles over all other forms of travel.

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Cyclists could not agree more.

Many cyclists (myself included) are thrilled with the gains made recently by cycling advocates, including the adoption of a robust bicycle plan that promises to bring unprecedented and comprehensive bike facilities to this auto-centric metropolis. Perhaps this city is slowly starting to realize the potential of this shift away from automobiles. For example:

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The aforementioned Los Angeles Bicycle Plan (image via Damien Newton, LA Streetsblog)

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CicLAvia #1 & #2, with #3 on the way (image via CicLAvia)

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The success of Critical Mass, now rated one of the country's largest rides (Europe reigns on this count), where June's ride saw 1300+ cyclists participate peacefully in a 30 mile tour of L.A. with the full support of the LAPD (image via Barleye)

Los Angeles Metro - Blue Line
The expansion of mass transit rail and subway projects (image via rjmcconnell)

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The passage of Measure R and Mayor Villaraigosa's 30/10 proposal to gain federal support for accelerating those transit projects (image via Damien Newton, LA Streetsblog)

As the top ranking US city for the worst traffic, and air pollution, L.A. is literally at a crossroads: whether to continue building out our automobile infrastructure to accommodate an ever growing population of cars, or to shift to a new paradigm of that embraces the quality of life of each and every resident through a balanced mix of transportation methods.

So if you have a bicycle sitting in your garage, pump some air in those flat tires and ride it everyday, but especially the weekend of July 16th and 17th, when 600,000 drivers will try to figure out how to make their way across town, by any means necessary. This small action will remind your fellow citizens trapped in their cars that there is another way to get from point A to point B.

Los Angeles Critical Mass June 2011


After a terrible incident that sent nearly a dozen cyclists to the hospital, the June edition of Los Angeles Critical Mass was a much needed affirmation of cyclists' right to the road, as well as the support of law enforcement.


During the ride, an estimated 1000 cyclists were escorted by a squardron of smiling and supportive police officers on a 26 mile route throughout Los Angeles.


However, when collisions occur involving cyclists and motorists, it seems a separate police force arrives with the assumption the cyclist must somehow be at fault. With seemingly strong laws on the books, too many times we see perpetrators either charged with minor offenses or not charged at all, while cyclists lay in hospital beds with life threatening injuries.


People continue to debate the value of Critical Mass, with some believing that the disruption and delays give motorists a negative view of cyclists. Others argue that is exactly what is needed, for motorists to understand that we are not blocking traffic, we are traffic.


Los Angeles cyclists also debate whether the involvement of the LAPD has fundamentally changed the nature of the ride. Certainly, there are now less negative interactions with angry motorists. And the ride no longer performs acts of defiance such as the circle of death.


Also, the ride sticks mostly to larger streets, has fewer turns and sticks to a set route. All that said, I left the ride believing that Critical Mass is a positive force for change in perception of law enforcement and the greater community.


Note: For cyclists eager for a more authentic mass experience, try checking out the Santa Monica Critical Mass, which meets the first friday of every month. The ride numbers in the dozens of riders, not hundreds. Also, check the Midnight Ridazz calendar of group rides happening throughout Los Angeles. There's one nearly every night of the week, with different themes and flavors.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Find Love, In & Out of the Saddle

Team Wedding Spin!
(No, I will NOT take down this photo.

In case you haven't heard, Heather and I are making it official tomorrow and part of that celebration was an early morning "Wedding Spin" with our friend and the most amazing spin instructor, Tevia. To our delight and amazement, 9 of our bravest friends and family joined us for an hour of sweat, music and pedaling. Some have spun before and for some it was their first time. And though there were a few people we would have loved to see in class, it was nonetheless an amazing part of our wedding weekend that we will never forget. Thank you Amelia for making this happen and thanks Tevia for inspiring us with your unmatched integrity and your mildly perverted sense of humor.