Archive for category crime

The Crash

So, we were pedaling along just fine. Some might even say we were just coming into form. We had readers and followers and twitters (there’s a chance we still have a few of those things) and posts. There were even a few of us that could be expected to post something a couple of times a week, at the very least, then something happened. There was a slight touch of wheels in the group and, it seems, most of us hit the tarmac, hard.

It’s true. Crashes are a part of the sport. Even if you’re not competing you can expect that, at least once, you’ll topple to the ground. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic and, in many cases, it’s more embarrassing than painful. Maybe you went into a slick turn too fast, touched wheels with the guy in front of you, forgot to clip-out at the stoplight, hit a rock at slow speeds and pitched over the handlebars, or one of the things that happened to people other than me…after the crash the first thing we do is take stock. Broken bones? No. Excessive bleeding? No. Is the bike operable? Yes. Can I still ride it? Yes. Should I still ride it? Probably not. Will I still ride it? Yes.

Then we limp home hoping that no one we know saw the crash and that those who didn’t will think us tough and manly instead of clumsy and foolish.

It’s just slightly different if you leave your brand new bike on the roof of your car as you pull into the garage. The difference is in the shame and anger and feeling of stupidity that comes with crunching noise of house on bike violence.

When that happens, you don’t want to take stock. Opening the door and getting out to find that the force of the accident as used your carbon fork as a lever to rip the roof mounted rack from the top of the car and left it hanging, impotent, from the 2 remaining mounts is the last thing you want to do. When it happened to me I wasn’t even able to pretend to assess the damage before I dropped the mangled bike in the grass and tried to put my fist through the rear window of the car (a task I was, luckily, unsuccessful at).

Even now, a few weeks, a new fork, and a new brake caliper later, I’m angry at myself for letting something so dumb happen. Despite my wife’s claim that the whole incident was her fault (because we were shopping for a new bike for her and she was talking to me when it happened) there’s no one to blame but the man behind the wheel.

So, maybe it wasn’t a touch of wheels that derailed this site. Maybe it was something more controllable. Maybe someone left the damn thing on top of the car and drove it into the garage. Maybe it was me.


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in the saddle…

I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.

I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve dropped those same men.

I’ve been dropped by women.

And old men.

I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.

I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.

I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.

I’ve had road rash.

I’ve run red lights.

I’ve been defeated by headwinds.

And Coleman Valley Road.

I’ve stopped for wildlife.

I’ve been honked at.

And yelled at.

And waved at.

And smiled at.

I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.

I’ve taken turns at the front.

I’ve been stopped by the police.

I’ve underdressed.

And overdressed.

I’ve suffered.

But mostly, I’ve had fun.

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If you must ride your bike to your local Occupy protest,do not throw it at the Police:

One officer suffered a cut to his face when a demonstrator threw a bicycle at him

You’ll probably end up in jail.

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Worth a read

Okay I’m going to link straight to another dude’s blog here because everyone who drives a motor vehicle ought to read this post, and please pass it on especially to non cyclist friends & acquaintances…

Click below then read the entry for December 30, I can’t link directly to it for some reason.

Institutional Cyclist’s Christmas Lecture

– Sera

Update: Below is the bit I’ve found most moving, I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on it because of the inability to direct link to the post  (but really, go read the entire thing). -Michael

The point is this: behind the statistics, lie people. Each of the hundreds of cyclists killed every year, each of the thousands of other deaths and injuries on the roads each year are real people that have families and friends. Each death is a family devastated. Each death affects a hundred friends. For a hundred deaths, read ten thousand people grieving. A small town’s worth of grief.

The point is this: This is not a war. This is not genocide. This is not a disease. These people are no one’s enemies. Their deaths are not meant as a warning to others. Their deaths are pointless and banal. They are not killed out of spite but out of ignorance, out of foolishness, out of incompetence. They die because others send text messages. They die because others misjudge speed and distance.

The point is this: The people that kill these people do not want to kill them. We must never forget to spare a little pity for them. They are only there because the gamble that paid off on all the other times failed to do so on this occasion and the video game reality through the windscreen suddenly became horrifyingly real. They are, after all, only acting in that way because the society that we live in allows them to and only suffers to penalize their actions when people die.

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We got a small amount of grief last night regarding Heather’s post I’m talking about you @SchwankyTown. So, I thought I’d expand on the comment I made in response to the post and pull it out here for all to read.

I’ve rolled through stop signs. Both on my bike and in a car. Intentionally and because I wasn’t paying appropriate attention while driving or riding. Same with stop lights. Also, I’ve been pulled over, both in a car and on a bike.

Of course, there are a few laws I think could be improved. I’m a big fan of the Idaho Stop Law and wish we could implement something similar here in California, and, with a few exceptions, red turn arrows have always seemed pointless to me (I won’t go into detail, let’s just say they only add value if there at an intersection with a blind approach). None of that gives me license to break the laws I disagree with and not expect consequences.

What I mean here is that I’m not trying to defend cyclists who break the law. They shouldn’t do it.

But, even if a driver sees ME blow through a red light, he doesn’t earn the right to knock me down with his car door (which, I’m sure, isn’t what Heather was saying) and he certainly doesn’t earn the right to knock some other cyclist down with his car door. That driver also doesn’t have the right pass closely, honk, drive in the bike lane, or yell at every cyclist he passes (again, not what Heather was saying).

Cyclists, too, need to get over it. Some Lycra clad roadies will run red lights and some skinny jean wearing hipsters will ride the wrong way down one-way streets. We should be encouraging not criticizing. So, scofflaw or not, get out and RIDE.



from the O’Conner Family

Sam has previously written about the hit-and-run death of 27-year-old, Patrick O’Conner. As cycling advocates and citizens of Northern California, stories like this one hit close to home.

This morning we received this press release from the family of Patrick O’Connor. The O’Connor Family is reaching out to the community for letters that might be used by the judge as he determines sentencing for Vanessa Carrillo.

I don’t want to comment on the character of Ms. Carrillo nor do I offer judgment on the O’Connor Family’s claim that Ms. Carrillo’s relationship with law enforcement has had significant impact to the handling of the case. Instead, I want to reiterate my opinion that negligent, illegal behavior that results in the death of a cyclist, pedestrian or other motorist should be treated seriously by law enforcement. As a cyclist, I do not see a significant difference between a death caused by a drunk driver and death caused by driving over the speed limit while using a cell phone. It is my hope that the judge considers how Vanessa Carrillo’s illegal driving behavior and her flight from the scene contributed to the death of this cyclist and sentences accordingly.

Press Release:

November 6, 2011

PLEASE write a letter to the Judge for Patrick O’Connor!
Stanislaus Superior Court
Judge Thomas D. Zeff, Court #5
Case # 1426693
800 11th Street
Modesto, California 95354

On November 1, 2011, the Stanislaus District Attorney decided to Plea Bargain this case instead of going to trial. As a major part of this process, the DA recommendation to the Stanislaus County Probation Dept. is to file a Pre-Probation report. This report will be submitted to the Judge Thomas D. Zeff, Stanislaus County Superior Court with a recommendation for sentencing. The Probation Department has requested we send the letters within the week so as to collect and file them in the court documents, to ultimately be read and reviewed by the Judge. If you send your letter to the judge, please email me a copy at this address ( that we may ensure your letter reaches the probation department.

We as victims of this tragedy have an opportunity to express how you feel about the Death of Patrick O’Connor. How has it affected your personal life, your family, your friends, either emotionally, mentally, physically in any way or aspect or outlook of you or your family’s lives. The tragedy in the lost of Patrick cannot ever be justified in our court system; however, this is our opportunity to tell the judge and make an impact on the legal process.

You may feel free to express your thoughts about this 22-year-old woman, Vanessa Carrillo, who hit, killed Patrick, and left the scene leaving him to die in the middle of the road. She has four prior “at Fault” vehicles accidents, four major traffic violations, two for high speeding. She was on her phone while traveling over 65 mph and had just sent a text message prior to killing Patrick, then fleeing the scene. Her phone behavior is an openly defiant choice she made knowing, it took Patrick’s life. She has a very cavalier attitude and feels that she is not responsible for this murderous act! Additionally, she has lied and given false information to the police as a means to prolong and avoid the repercussions of her actions. In the past several years Vanessa Carrillo has built up a relationship with local, law enforcement officers, specifically an intimate relationship with a deputy sergeant of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. She has been on numerous all night ride-alongs with this local law enforcement department. This has been verified by the elected Stanislaus County Sheriff who openly admitted that his officers have “manipulated and interfered” with this case.

This is our chance to be heard and have an impact on this case. This is our opportunity to persuade our justice system to strike forth with the fullest extent against Vanessa Carrillo, whose incompetence and malicious behavior has cost us someone very dear to our hearts. She must be held accountable for her actions. We appeal to your moral principles of social responsibility, justice, and accountability as we humbly urge you to write a letter to the Judge expressing how you feel about Vanessa’s behavior and how Patrick’s death has affected you.

The DA has accepted a plea bargain in order to avoid a trial.

Please write your letter with a heading to Judge Zeff at the above address ref: case # 1426693 and sign your letter with your job title.

*Please share this with interested friends or loved ones.

With deep appreciation and thanks,
The O’Connor Family

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What about the brake pedal?

I’ve not been following the story very closesly, but on Sunday a cyclist was killed in Dixon when he was rear-ended by an Hyundai Tiburon. According to the Solano Times-Harold:

Hekker said Boe told investigating officers that a southbound vehicle prohibited him from moving to the left to pass White, who authorities said was riding on the fog line at the right of the lane. However, authorities initially said witnesses saw nothing preventing Boe from driving around the bicyclist or anything that would have caused White to swerve in front of Boe.

Now, I’m not a professional driver or anything, but usually when I’m driving and there’s an obstruction in the road in front of me and something preventing me from moving left to move around it safely, I use the brake pedal. Let’s say, instead of a cyclist, a slow moving Prius was in the road in front of Taylor Boe, whould he have rear-ended that too?

No word on if the driver will face criminal charges but this is one circumstance where I think they should be seriously considered.

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Motorist [and pedestrian] Tip of the Week, 4

The bike lane, anywhere on the road, really, is not a garbage can.

It seems that there’s a trend out there to discard trash in the bike lane. This is annoying and gross and makes your neighborhood look, well, trashy. My real problem though, isn’t the litter – that’s just annoying and thoughtless – it’s with the glass. It is true a beer bottle will break when tossed from a moving vehicle onto the road and very few things are as joyful as the experience of hurling a glass bottle and watching it explode, I know. But all that green and brown glass eventually ends up in my tire and, while my Gatorskins are durable, inevitably one shard will make it through to the sensitive inner tube and I’ll end up on the side of the road trying to look like I know what I’m doing as I change tubes.

You’ll probably get a good view of my Lycra clad butt, which, for all I know, is what you were after when you threw the bottle there in the first place.

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DIY Bike Lane

Right here in Sacramento.

To keep the bike lane, the car lane on this side would have been reduced to eight feet. Though this is not unheard of, especially when trying to control the speed of traffic, whoever originally designed this road had opted to give cars the extra leeway for speed and let anyone on a bike fend for themselves.

The bike lane painter had rectified this omission. Best of all, his vigilante paint-job worked: In our time there, a couple dozen cars went by, and only one encroached on the bike lane markings. Most gave the faded stripes several feet of respectful room.

I can think a few places I ride where the bike lane magically disappears for a few hundred yards, presumably to make things easier for city planners who are often worried about reducing traffic and maximizing traffic flow. In some cases the lane simply narrows and becomes an unmarked shoulder not quite wide enough to meet the legal definition of a bike lane, in others, it seems, the expectation is that you and your bike will just teleport up the road to where the bike lane restarts. In almost every case it’s the result of poor planning, which happens, but the vanishing bike lanes illustrate the fact that we live in a car centric culture – bike lanes are nice to have, as long as they don’t get in the way.

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