Archive for category car on bike violence

Sacramento PD cyclists attempt 2011 Race Across America

On Saturday, June 18th, eight members of the Sacramento Police Department will gather at the starting line of the longest, fastest cycling race in America. Beginning in Oceanside, CA, competitors in the Race Across America(RAAM) will attempt to become the first individual or team to cross the finish line in Annapolis, MD, 3,000 miles away.

The RAAM is split into divisions – or categories – which separate relay teams from solo riders. Teams can be made up of 2, 4 or 8 riders who share the workload along the route. Solo riders are responsible for riding the entire race alone. The Sacramento PD will operate in a relay, with each individual cyclist riding for three hours at a stretch before handing off to a teammate.

Competitors in the RAAM ride against a clock which is always running, from the moment the first bike crosses the start line all the way across the country to the finish. The relay teams are expected to ride non-stop, 24 hours a day, while the top-ranked solo riders will be on the bike without a rest for more than 22 hours every day. The race has a 12-day time limit, so the solo riders at the front are forced to limit their sleep to 90 minutes in order to remain competitive. Because of this extreme demand, many critics say the RAAM is more about sleep deprivation than cycling skill or endurance, with the winner usually being the rider who can stay awake the longest.

Sacramento Police Department is riding for a reason: they are trying to raise money and media attention for the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. The memorial highlights the danger that police officers face in the line of duty. The cyclists from Sacramento will visit local police departments and memorials along the route to show their support for the cause.

Ideally, the participation of a group of police officers in a high-profile cycling race will raise awareness among police departments in the US of the risks that cyclists face on the nation’s roads. Complaints are common among regular road cyclists that the police often turn a blind eye to aggressive and negligent driving, or favor the automobile driver over the cyclist in the case of car-on-bike violence.

The team’s progress in the RAAM will be tracked over the next 12 days at the Sac PD website, where you can see photos and read reports from the road. There is also a real-time GPS tracker, and links to the official race leaderboard.

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possibly drunk and looking at her phone but…

Authorities said some of the riders also may be at fault, because they were standing in the street. Many of them also had on dark-colored clothing.

Ok. It’s bad that this woman slammed into a group of 50 cyclists. It’s bad that she was looking at her phone and is suspected of being drunk. But it’s really pissing me off that “authorities” are trying to say that cyclists that were standing (not moving) in a group (of 50) were at fault because she might not have seen them in their dark clothing.

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but officer…

Diaz told investigators that he thought he hit a cyclist but he “didn’t want to get in trouble again” so he didn’t stop.

via Andrew

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Riderless bike serves as poignant memorial

A solitary white bicycle has appeared chained to a traffic post outside CSUS, the scene of an accident earlier this month which killed one of the university students. The bike, spray-painted a stark, ghostly white, was left anonymously leaning against the post on a traffic island immediately in front of the entrance to the university campus on J Street. Beside the bike, flowers and ribbons add color, while a photograph of the victim, Arlene Sasse, reminds pedestrians how risky the city’s streets are for cyclists.

Sasse was crossing J Street on her bike shortly before 2am on April 1st when she was hit. She died at the scene. The driver of the car claims she did not see Sasse, whose bike reportedly did not have lights or reflectors.

Arlene Sasse was due to to graduate from CSUS in May with a psychology degree. She had hoped the qualification would help her find work as an occupational psychologist. Before transferring to Sac State, she had previously attended American River and Sacramento City junior colleges.

The Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) responded to the tragedy by issuing free bicycle lights to Sac State students, in an effort to encourage safer riding practices. Sacramento’s roads – already unfriendly and often deadly for cyclists in the daylight – can be lethal after dark. Though the city claims to be cycling-friendly, many major routes are effectively off-limits to bikes. Cars frequently abuse cyclists by parking illegally in designated cycle lanes or behaving aggressively towards law-abiding bicycle traffic.

“Ghost bikes” are a sad but common sight in metropolitan areas, appearing in more than 35 US states, and more than 20 countries worldwide. They almost always offer the same sombre, elegant memorial: a white bicycle beside a small photograph of the victim. Sacramento residents have noted at least half a dozen of the bikes, which are eventually removed by municipal workers.

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Driver in Sacramento cyclist death case finally booked

The family of Patrick O’Connor, the 27 year old Sacramento resident who was killed on his bike on September 1st, 2010, took comfort last week when the driver of the car that killed him, 21 year old Vanessa Carrillo, was formally booked in Modesto on Wednesday, April 6th.

At an earlier hearing, Carrillo was assigned a new public defender, adding to the growing list of reassignments, misdirections and general confusion which has characterised this case since last September. A new prosecutor has also been appointed, this time bringing promise of a new investigation and pre-trial hearing. For Patrick’s father, Jim, who has repeatedly expressed frustration at way the Stanislaus County District Attorney has handled the case, there seems to be a small glimmer of hope:

“Next Tuesday (April 12th) we will travel again to Modesto to lend support to the new prosecutor and his new investigative team and observe the proceedings.”

Jim O’ Conner was astonished to learn, however, that Carrillo had been stopped and issued a citation by police on the 25th March. Carrillo, whose license had been suspended and physically confiscated by the DMV, was caught driving illegally.

“She was not brought into jail or charged, just ticketed and released.” He said at the time, his anger and dismay palpable.“What does it take to get Carrillo booked? She has never been booked for anything. No picture, no fingerprinting, no bail, no jail time, just a complaint warrant that she killed someone in Stanislaus County.”

(At the pre-trial hearing on the 12th April, a charge of Driving While Suspended was added to the manslaughter charge.)

Patrick’s family, who live in Northridge, have traveled hundreds of miles to Modesto repeatedly since the start of the year to attend pre-trail hearings and to meet with the staff of the DA’s office. One such trip, Jim confided, led him to discover that Carrillo – a Senior at Stanislaus University – is majoring in Criminal Justice.

“(Carrillo) has been riding along with local law enforcement for some time. We found out that she “tweets” a lot, and has done so while driving. We hope that the new DA, Mr Mury, has subpoenaed her phone records as part of the new discoveries.”

A Facebook group – “In Loving Memory of Patrick O’ Connor” has been created to document the progress of the case, which, thanks to the efforts of Jim and his wife, Mary, is starting to gain much-needed attention in the local press.

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Watch Out!

Seen a number of places with no attribution. If you know where the image originated, let me know and I’ll update with a source.


Anger and frustration for family of slain cyclist

At just after 7.00pm on a hot, clear September evening last year, 27-year-old Patrick O’Conner was riding his bike west on Fulkerth Road in Turlock when he was struck from behind by a 1999 Toyota traveling at 55mph. The force of the impact threw Patrick off his bike, causing him to suffer severe and ultimately fatal injuries. The driver of the Toyota, Vanessa Carrillo, reportedly paused momentarily before speeding away from the scene, leaving Patrick to die in the road.

The 21-year-old Carrillo continued driving until she reached her home in Patterson, a few minutes west of Turlock. Upon arriving, she waited for an hour before telephoning 911 to report that she thought she may have hit a dog in the road.

After further questioning, Carrillo divulged that, in fact, she realized she had hit a person when she saw the body lying in the road behind her.

But it wasn’t until December 22nd, more than three months after Patrick’s death, that an arrest warrant was finally issued in the case. Carrillo was charged with Felony Hit and Run, and Vehicular Manslaughter without Gross Negligence, which is a misdemeanor.

But in the weeks immediately following the accident, in the midst of his grief at the sudden violent loss of his son, Patrick’s father, Jim O’Conner recognized that something wasn’t right. Why hadn’t the driver who killed Patrick been arrested or charged? On October 6th, a month after the accident, O’Conner wrote to the Department of Justice questioning why, despite her own admission of responsibility, Vanessa Carrillo was still free.

He was particularly dismayed by what he felt was a “cavalier attitude and lack of action” shown by assistant District Attorney, John R. Mayne, whom Jim O’Conner had expected would pursue more serious charges against Carrillo. Angry and frustrated, O’Conner researched the criminal history of Vanessa Carrillo, and discovered four recent convictions for moving traffic violations in Stanislaus County. Notably, Carrillo had been convicted twice of driving at unsafe speeds, a pattern of behavior which witnesses claim may also have been a major factor in the death of Patrick O’Conner. Carrillo’s last conviction for speeding occurred less than a year before she hit Patrick with her car.

Jim O’Conner claims that, in a phone conversation he had with Mayne, the assistant DA stated “that he was aware of Vanessa Carrillo’s driving history, and of this Vehicular Manslaughter case”. O’Conner went on to express his frustration that Carrillo had not been detained or charged, adding that he hoped the case would receive immediate review.

Shortly after Carrillo was finally arrested in December, Jim O’Conner met with the Stanislaus County District Attorney, Birgit Fladager. In the meeting, he expressed his consternation at the formal charges, which he and his family felt did not accurately reflect the severity of the crime.

O’Conner suggested that he thought Carrillo should face charges of Second Degree Murder with Implied Malice, a more serious charge which involves an “unintentional killing caused by extremely reckless behavior”. Specifically, the Implied Malice contingent assumes that “the defendant knew about the danger of the acts (in this case reckless driving), yet consciously and deliberately disregarded the danger to human life”. According to Jim O’Conner, Mayne refused to consider the more serious charge of Implied Malice in the death of Patrick.

The program given out at Patrick O’Conner’s memorial in September shows several pictures of a handsome, athletic young man with a disarming smile. The services, one in Northridge where he was born, and one in Sacramento, where he lived and worked as a tax consultant, were attended by friends of Patrick from all over the country. The assembled mourners reflected upon a promising life cut short, and a warm personality who would be terribly missed.

As Jim O’Conner revealed in an email to Talking Treads:

“Pat had a lot of great friends in Sacramento. He loved that city and had many friends there. He was training for the Iron Man competition.”

Vanessa Carrillo is due to be arraigned on 3rd March in Stanislaus County.


Family of Jim Rogers marks sad anniversary

On January 31st, 2010, former professional road cyclist and Grass Valley area resident Jim Rogers was struck and killed by an SUV on Highway 174 whilst out for a recreational morning ride. The driver, Patricia Hernandez, was charged with vehicular manslaughter, and her trial begins in early May.

Rogers was riding on one his most beloved routes, the scenic and winding road that connects Grass Valley and Colfax when the Ford Explorer approached from behind and hit him, knocking him off his bike. He suffered severe head injuries, despite wearing a helmet, and died in hospital shortly afterwards. He left behind a wife and two children.

Rogers raced professionally in the 1980s, dominating the popular Nevada City Classic as a member of the PenVelo team. He became quite famous locally, and was considered one of the finest, most aggressive and talented riders ever to come out of California.

Rogers’ widow, Carolyn, has continued advocating for greater car/bike relations in the year since her husband’s death, calling for a focus on the dangers of distracted driving. Authorities prosecuting Hernandez suspect she may have been using a cellphone while driving, which accounted for her failure to avoid colliding with Rogers.

A memorial fund has been established in honor of Jim Rogers, with proceeds to go to college tuition for his son, Nate. You can view the memorial and donate here.

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Really? Twice?

About seventeen minutes into my ride yesterday afternoon, two-hundred yards after I dropped my chain while shifting down into my small chainring (I need to get that derailleur tuned), ninety seconds into the final climb on Iron Point Road, I was passed at speed by a knobjacket in a clown-red Dodge pick-up truck. Now, IPR has a very generous bike lane, but it also has three massive lanes for traffic on a relatively un-busy stretch. But, given his torque and horsepower, and his geographical options, Old Crotchflaps decided to hum past me, hugging the white line while gunning his engine.

It was moist on the road from the ample rainfall, so I caught a little of his spray, which doesn’t bother me, since I don’t have mudguards anyway, but it does illustrate just how fucking close he was. “Arse doctor”, I thought to myself as I re-focused my attention on beating Michael’s very impressive best time for the ascent (sorry Mike), and by the time I crested the rise I had pretty much forgotten all about Mr Spleensucker.

But apparently he wasn’t finished with me. About seven and a half minutes later, as I rolled down Sophia Parkway, passed by eight or nine perfectly charming drivers who afforded me several acres of clear space as they slowed down to overtake, who should come up on my left flank but King Wankshaft in his lipstick-red scrotum-wagon, screaming past me at a steady clip, just inches from my shoulder.

Was he lost? Running errands? Or just a massive tool who gets his jollies from side-swiping innocent, law-abiding cyclists. I wish I had shouted something, or tried to memorize his license plate, but honestly, I was just keen to get the hell off the main road in case the smegmuncher came back.

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you know what else could jeopardize a person’s job?

Getting hit by a car and being left in the road…maybe?

A financial manager for wealthy clients will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job, prosecutors said Thursday.

Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, faces two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a July 3 incident when he allegedly hit bicyclist Dr. Steven Milo from behind then sped away, according to court documents.

This probably isn’t news to most of you (I’m not listing the hundereds of places I’ve seen this today) but there’s a petition to sign.

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