Friday, August 21, 2009

CityWatchLA - Cars vs. Cyclists: System Upside Down

CityWatch, Aug 21, 2009
Vol 7 Issue 67

A bike ride home on a quiet residential street almost ended tragically for the LA woman who was struck from behind by a hit-and-run motorist, thrown into a parked car, and left lying on the ground.

Actually, it wasn't the motorist who struck her, it was the passenger who leaned out of the window, shoving the cyclist with both hands and caused her to fly off the road.

The cyclist was riding at approximately 15mph when she crashed with enough force to send her bike flying over the car while she struck the cars back window face first.

The collision set off the car's alarm, alerting the owner of the vehicle who then rushed to the scene.

He surveyed the situation and asked the woman, now lying on the ground, what she was doing to his car. Once he had determined that the car was not the subject of a theft, he was gracious enough to call 911 for the dazed and injured woman.

The LAPD never responded to the scene but the Fire Department’s Paramedics arrived quickly and administered first aid to the cyclist.

The "Victim" was very lucky, escaping with minor injuries and healing quickly.

One might assume that the "Victim" in this incident is the cyclist, but that would be a mistake.

The cyclist, better known as the "Projectile," was shoved off the road by an assailant and then made the mistake of landing on the "Victim," a parked car.

The "Victim," a lovely Ford Mustang, suffered injuries and repair bills that are now the responsibility of the "Projectile."

The "Victim" carries a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) along with Vehicle Registration, Auto Insurance, legal representation and the confidence that on the streets of Los Angeles, motor vehicles have the right-of-way, even when they’re parked.

The "Projectile," a cyclist, had no Cycling Insurance (not available in the USA...yet) nor was she riding (and landing) with any support from the LAPD as she was assaulted and left in the street by a hit-and-run motorist and passenger.

She is learning quickly that when it comes to the streets, cyclists are second-class citizens.

The "Victim" suffered a dent and a scratch, minor injuries that were compounded by pain and suffering that has resulted in a fear of curbside parking.

Fortunately, while on the mend, the "Victim" received support and aid from the Insurance Company, an Adjustor and a Collection Agency, all working to make sure that the "Victim" made a full recovery, both physically and financially.

The "Projectile,” also suffered injuries and was treated by emergency workers at the scene of the incident. She went on to mend and has the bruises to remind her of her audacious flight through the air. She was able to repair her bike and to restore it to roadworthy state.

The cyclist neglected to visit the "Victim" in the Body Shop and she failed to send a get well card to the convalescent garage, small gestures that would have gone a long way to easing the "Victim's" pain.

Reports that the "Projectile" was simply busy working extra hours in order to save up to pay the $2,500 needed to cover the "Victim's" damages and to ward off the collections company were unconfirmed.

This incident serves as an example of everything that's wrong with the way we manage our public space, the streets of Los Angeles.

Vehicles are protected and supported while humans are perceived as 2nd class encroachers on the public right-of-way.

A crime against a vehicle is more likely to get attention and a response than a hit-and-run crime against a cyclist.

Visit your local Neighborhood Council meeting and listen to the Senior Lead Officer's crime report.

They'll spend more time reporting on iPods stolen from vehicles and permit parking than on the rights of pedestrians and cyclists.

Take a look at the local LAPD Captain’s reports and you’ll see “Burglary from Vehicle” right up there with the other “serious” crimes.

Meanwhile, Capt. Trotter of Valley traffic reports that the LAPD counts injured and killed cyclists as pedestrians. After all they’re not motorists.

The cyclist in this absurd incident is not without rights. She, just like anybody who climbs on a bike and pedals into the public right-of-way, rides under the Cyclists' Bill of Rights. She's covered!

It's up to us as a community to make sure that the Cyclists Bill of Rights comes alive and it's up to us to make sure that:

#3 Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

#4 Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure, or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Our streets, first and foremost, are for people. The cyclist in this incident deserves our full support and an apology for such an insulting experience from a system that is upside down and in need of correction.

(Stephen Box is a transportation and cyclist advocate and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at ◘


Anonymous said...

While we're at it, what's going on with the Hummer incident?

I mean, the cop on the scene there COVERED UP AN ATTEMPTED MURDER by falsifying his report. And that is an established fact.

We need to get a legal fund so the victim can sue officer Cho and get this dragged into court.

Anonymous said...

This happened to my husband. He was riding on a small side street in Hollywood early on a Sunday afternoon. He was wearing a helmet, but was still knocked unconscious and suffered a severe concussion. Police never even searched for the driver or looked for witnesses. Hospital bills would have killed us, but our auto insurance ended up paying for it. My husband finally recoveded. Doesn't ride bikes anymore.

Anonymous said...

Lots of badness in this situation, and I sympathize with the cyclist, but it should be noted that the cyclist (projectile) is indeed liable. She could claim against homeowners or renters if available, both of which provide general liability insurance.

Had the cyclist been truly negligent, and hit the vehicle by inattention or other lapse, would we seek to absolve her of blame?

Had the projectile been another car, propelled into the victim vehicle by a hit-and-run, the driver or owner of the projectile vehicle would have been clearly liable in the absence of the hit and run vehicle.

Se we have lots of victims here. I want to emphasize that my take on the liability situation in no way excuses (a) the assailant that pushed the cyclist or (b) the police, who failed to take a report and attempt to find the assailant.

Brent said...

@ Anonymous 10:37 AM -- I'd be curious to know the legal theory behind assigning responsibility to the cyclist. If the facts are, indeed, as stated, and the cyclist was pushed into the car, then why isn't the person who pushed the cyclist responsible?