May 28, 2016 § 16 Comments
I went to a banquet last night for my youngest son’s high school speech and debate team. I haven’t been to a banquet in years and was surprised at the format. After a brief series of introductions by one of the teachers, the incoming president of the club invited each of the twenty graduating seniors to the lectern and they all made a speech.
Most had no idea they were going to give a talk in front of about eighty peers and adults, but if they were nervous they didn’t show it. And speech/debaters or not, they proved this bit of wisdom: Mark Twain, who recovered from his frequent financial disasters with speaking tours, and who was the funniest and most skilled public speaker of his time, was once interviewed about the art of speaking in public.
“How long does it take you to prepare for a five-minute speech?” the journalist asked.
“About four hours,” Twain said.
“That’s incredible,” the journalist remarked, awestruck. “And then how long does it take to prepare for a two-hour speech?”
“I can do that right now.”
Brevity, according to one who knew, isn’t merely the soul of wit, it’s the most challenging form of it. Some of the speeches involved direct or indirect bragging about college acceptances, some mentioned how their minds had been formed by debate, most talked about the mental beatdowns they’d been exposed to at debate tournaments, all expressed thanks, one evoked tears. None of the students mentioned their devotion to bike racing.
I’ve seen a lot of young people fall off into the abyss of competitive cycling at a young age. With help from their parents, friends, and coaches, they have foregone things like debate in order to race a bicycle. Whereas the intellectual residue from debate, like music and art, stays with you for life, little remains once you quit riding around in circles for trinkets. In fact, people who quit cycling at any age are often aghast as they gaze around the garage at the bikes, the wheels, the clothing, the racks, the trainers, and the endless pile of gadgets that now have no meaning, no use, no application to anything, and no value except what they can claw back on e-Bay.
So ever since I ran across a kid fully soaked in the Kool-Aid who seems to be at the right age to make all the wrong decisions, I have thought about pulling him aside and saying, “Get off the bike. It won’t take you anywhere. You’ll never make a livelihood at it and it will derail every other meaningful opportunity currently in front of you. If you want to race something, race your mind, and race it with books.”
But I didn’t.
Instead, I’ve thought about the kids at the debate banquet and what they have ahead of them–four years at some of the best colleges and a “bright future.” But how bright? I graduated from one of the best debate programs in the history of the NFL — which was christened the National Forensic League decades before the pro football merger — and I don’t think any of the people I went to high school with have better lives than some of the young people I’ve seen grow up as bike racers. And if they do have better lives, I don’t think you can pin it on their experiences in debate.
Moreover, what is a better life? More money? Bigger house? More bragworthy college for you or your children? And unlike youth, which is the only time window that you can reach for the stars as an athlete, aren’t books and education available throughout your life?
And what about that small handful of kids who are filled, consumed, obsessed, absorbed with passion? Sure, it’s sad to see kids pushed and prodded through cycling by vicarious-thrill-seeking parents who themselves don’t/won’t ever pin on a number, but what about the ones who do it in spite of their families, the ones who you can tell from a mile away that they live to ride their bikes? Isn’t that pursuit worth the weight of every book ever written?
I think it is.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and maybe you’ll be inspired to read a book and maybe you’ll be encouraged to go for a ride. Either way you win. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
May 27, 2016 § 29 Comments
A long, long time ago back in March if you’d said that you wanted to buy the most high-tech, high-performance bike out there, I would have advised as follows:
- Full carbon
- 100% carbon
- Aero carbon
Although carbon is still the material of choice for those who want to go fast, or more importantly look fast, or most importantly, talk fast, it is no longer the first requirement for a high performance bicycle simply because you can’t look fast and aero and pro while you’re dead.
The new high performance bike must have:
- Diablo or equivalent headlight with max 1,200-1,500 lumens for continual day/night operation.
- Lezyne or equivalent rear taillight with max 100 lumens for continual day/night operation.
- Front-facing video camera with spare batteries for swap-out during ride.
- Rear-facing video camera with continual 6-hour loop.
- Strava/Garmin data to record speeds/stops of the entire ride.
Of course if you’re fine being dead (and certain religious sects maintain that this is actually a preferable state of affairs), all you need is carbon.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn that having the most high performance bike out there now only requires a few hundred dollars of upgrades, less than a nice set of wheels. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
May 26, 2016 § 50 Comments
You’ve been buzzed. Worse, you’ve been buzzed and honked at. Worse, you’ve been buzzed and honked at and screamed at. Worse, you’ve been buzzed and honked at and screamed at and flipped off. Worse, you’ve been buzzed and honked at and screamed at and flipped off and had shit thrown at you. Worse, you’ve been buzzed and honked at and screamed at and flipped off and had shit thrown at you and veered into.
“At least I didn’t get hit,” you tell yourself, shaking with terror and rage. “At least I’m still alive.”
You, my friend, are a victim. And not just any old victim. You’re the victim of a crime. In California, what happened to you is a felony and is proscribed by California Penal Code Sec. 245(a)1.
If you’re like me, after the assault you keep riding your bike — occasionally you may go into the police station and try to get them to write a report. They won’t and they don’t. Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Can I make law enforcement to take me seriously?”
The answer is yes. Before I tell you how to do it, I’m first going to explain why it’s so important that we begin reporting violent crime perpetrated against bicycle riders. This is going to be a long read. I hope you’ve got a comfortable toilet seat.
Reporting is key
The first reason that reporting is crucial is because regardless of what happens when you’ve been assaulted in terms of prosecution, your report may later serve to apprehend, charge, and convict the perpetrator when he does it again. So let’s say it’s your civic duty.
The second reason is that only by reporting violent crime will law enforcement and the communities that employ them begin taking felony assault seriously. Currently it is regarded as “buzzing” or “asshat drivers” or some other mild term of pseudo-endearment that doesn’t have the jail bell ring of “felony,” “crime,” and my personal favorite, “prison.” Words matter. As law enforcement, media, lawyers, and pedal pushers begin dispensing with the word “accident” to describe volitional acts by motorists to harm bicycle riders, we begin to see those acts for what they are: Choices with consequences. And guess what, Mr. Assault With A Deadly Weapon? The consequences for you are not going to be pleasant.
In the same way, by using the language of felony assault, the criminal behavior no longer sounds innocuous. “Some punks buzzed me and hit me with a sandwich” sounds almost funny, especially if you were hungry at the time and it was organic peanut butter. “Some minors committed felony assault” sounds like a very premature end to the college application process.
This shift in seriousness only happens when we use the right words. And the right words must be used where they have to be taken at face value: On a police report. This means that a jurisdiction such as Palos Verdes Estates, which prides itself on its safety — a marketing pitch to rich white and rich Asian families to justify the high real estate prices and to encourage the “right” people to live here — reported only six felony assaults with a deadly weapon in 2015. If a fraction of the cyclists assaulted in 2016 report the crimes committed against them, the number of reports will triple, quadruple, or increase by a factor of ten or more.
Which means you get this headline: “Violent Crime in Palos Verdes Estates Increases 1000% in 2016.”
Nice. Now the city manager and police chief are spending a lot of time networking on Linked-In, Monster, and the Help Wanted section of the classifieds.
Suddenly everyone is paying attention, even the crotchety old shits at the council meetings who think that PVE was invented for them alone and that the public roads are private. Another way of saying it is that we have to play the long game. By piling up the reports we create a history, a record, a stack of statistics. Bureaucrats and politicians may not care about dead and maimed people, but they live and die by statistics.
The third reason is that reporting violent crimes will absolutely result in a handful of prosecutions. It already has. Two specific cases, one of which involved a road-raging cager who hit and beat up a cyclist, and another which involved a pickup trucker who swerved and tried to hit two riders, are currently on the criminal docket in Torrance. As reports continue to be made, some will be referred to prosecution, and prosecuted, and some of those will result in convictions.
You may not like the pace, but that’s called justice. And as word gets out and law enforcement gets more adept at dealing with felony assault with a deadly weapon, i.e. car-on-bike, people will change their behavior. Mrs. Gottaget Juniortoschool will compare how she looked at the PV Pageant of Homes in her Yves-St. Laurent with how she’s going to look in a bright orange jumpsuit and a set of used manacles, and she’s gonna yield.
Finally, a successful prosecution sets you up for civil damages. When someone commits a felony and is convicted, you get to sue them for damages. The cager’s moment of rage becomes years of misery, and at the end of the whole sad story you might even get paid for what you were put through.
So the rationale is simple: Civic duty, engaging law enforcement so that they enforce the law, prosecution of bad people, and money in your pocket (maybe).
Forcing the sluggish hand of the bureaucracy
Most people think that the police are the only ones who can write a police report. They’re wrong. What the police are expert at is NOT writing police reports. The police don’t write thousands of reports a year. Why? Because it’s a lot of work and it leads to more work, which leads to even more work, resulting in the worst of all outcomes, more work.
Although it takes a surprising amount of effort to deter victims from reporting felonies, it takes even more effort to take out a piece of paper, ask a few questions, and then write a comprehensive narrative that addresses the statute of limitations, jurisdiction, criminal intent, the other elements of the crime, and identification of the applicable section(s) of the penal code.
However, not only can you write the police report, you should. No one knows what happened better than you. No one can articulate it better than you. No one remembers the details better than you. And best of all, seated at your computer with plenty of time to think and reconstruct and revise and use the dogdamned spell-check for fuck’s sake, no one can write it better than you.
Procedurally, it’s very simple.
- Write what happened.
- Take it to the police station that has jurisdiction where the assault occurred.
- Tell them you want report a crime and you’ve already written it up for them.
- Have them review it, answer their questions, and hand over the physical evidence (video, photos).
- Make sure they assign a DR Number or a file number and they give it to you.
- Get the name and email and phone number of the detective assigned to the case.
- Go home and email the report to the detective so that you have an electronic trail of having submitted the report.
- You’re done. You’ve just reported your first felony. And now someone is gonna have to work.
Practically, there are a number of obstacles you can run into. The desk officer may say it’s a traffic issue. Politely tell him you’re there to report a crime. Emphasize that it concerns an assault with a deadly weapon. If he resists, ask to speak with the watch commander. The police are obligated by law to take your report. Whether they investigate it, or think it has merit, or plan to refer it for prosecution are wholly unrelated issues. You’re there to report a crime and you’ve done their work for them.
Another issue you may run into is that you didn’t get any identifying information other than a description of the vehicle, i.e. “white pick-up.” Didn’t see the driver, don’t have a license plate number. You can still, and you should still, make a report. Why? Because that driver may be a repeat offender and your record of where-and-what could become evidence at a later date.
You may also think that because it happened last month or last year that it’s too late. There’s often a feeling that if you don’t get the cops there immediately the opportunity is lost. Not so. There’s a three-year statute of limitations in California for felony assault. If you have video of numerous assaults, you can write a report and submit each one, along with copies of the video. Of course this also brings up an important point — your case is much more likely to be investigated if you have video or witness testimony. Still, we reported a felony assault last week with only the victim’s testimony. It may not go far, but the Torrance PD now has a record of this clown and the detective has interviewed the suspects. If they ever kill or maims a bicycle rider, it’s been reported that they have already committed assault with a deadly weapon in the past.
Murders don’t require witnesses and video testimony to be reported as crimes. In fact, lots and lots of crimes never get investigated, much less solved. They are still reported as crimes, though, and they still go on the books. A community drowning in reports of violent crime suddenly comes under the microscope … everyone’s microscope.
Click here to see a sample of Grade A++ crime report, written at home, then taken in and submitted. Note: Always go down in person. This isn’t a job for Mr. Internet, or Mr. Telephone. It’s a job for Mr. In Person.
You and your club should start thinking about how to formalize a procedure for reporting felony assault committed against cyclists, such as by developing a club clearinghouse for crime reports. Better yet, go through your video archives and pick a few cherries from PV and environs, write up a report or three with video clips, and go submit your reports.
If you do, reports of violent crime on our beloved hill are going to spike quicker than Rubbermaid punch at a frat party.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and do your part paying for the coffee to keep me awake late at night scheming up ways with my henchpeople for us all to stay alive a little bit longer. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
May 25, 2016 § 11 Comments
When your face is mashed against the stem and there is a 33-mph sweep up the left side and you’re already pegged trying to close a 3-foot gap just to get up to a wobbly, about-to-detonate wheel so you can (with much prayer) leapfrog over the next gap that is going from a bike length to a football field, when the pain is shooting up your legs into your lungs and rasping like a giant file on a block of concrete, when you’re at that point in the race when you have found THE WORD and THE WORD is “QUIT!” and you’re already making up reasons why QUIT is brilliant and clever and CONTINUE is for insecure insane people because WHAT DO I HAVE TO PROVE and HOW AM I GOING TO PROVE IT OUT HERE are the dominant models in your mind’s dialectical discourse re: the philosophy of not giving up, when all that is happening it is hard to feel fun, much less see it.
That was my Telo last night, a huge turnout with mighty hammers of enraged wrath swinging in the fists of Evens Stievenart, Josh Alverson, Evan Stade, Sam Warford, Dan Cobley, Garrett Olsen, Peyton Cooke, Dave Wells, and a host of other characters who found the front for long enough to dump a bucket of boiling pain down the throats of the suffering convicts who were chained in hell to the unrelenting single-file line of pain.
But one rider stood out, even among that throng of ill-tempered criminals. He was slight, he was small, he was young, he hadn’t really learned how to ride in a straight line or how to keep his head up when sprinting full bore in the middle of a pack, but he had this: He had the magic.
This kid went with every surge, attempted every breakaway, tried to bridge to every move, bounced around in the pack like a ping-pong ball, tore at his pedals to not get dropped in the back straight, launched off the front fearlessly in the draft of the big fast men, pushed his way to the point only to get batted to the back, surged, blew, attacked, blew, followed, blew, sprinted, blew, launched, blew, blew, blew, blew, recovered, hit the gas as hard as he could and did it all over again.
Bader the Bad made his mark not only with his tenacity, but with the effect he had on the aged, the grizzled, the cynical, the broken, the jaded, and the crusty old farts trying to decide whether it was worth hanging on. In sixty minutes this kid showed us why we first raced: For the abandon and complete immersion into the moment, where age doesn’t matter, gender is irrelevant, name/rank/serial number/national origin/sexual orientation all blend into the necessity of the moment, “Can you hang, and if so can you WIN?”
Bader didn’t win, but on the last lap with the pack in tatters and even the iron-legged titans feeling the burn, he leaped, he attacked, he gave it his all for the hundredth time, and he didn’t stop pedaling until he had crossed the line.
He he gave us hope, he gave us a bike race, he made us hurt, and best of all, after the gasping was done, he made us smile.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and race with us, even if it’s only on paper. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
May 24, 2016 § 28 Comments
John Bacon was killed on Wednesday, May 18, possibly by the white pickup truck that was caught on surveillance tape tailgating him. After what in polite company can only politely be called a “lackadaisical” response to what, on its surface, suggests the possibility of first degree murder, the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department sprang into action.
They sat on their asses while local cyclists searched for, found, and reported a vehicle that closely matched the pickup on surveillance tape and perhaps more importantly, matched the driver described in the police All Points Bulletin. When another cyclist put in a WTF phone call about the police response, he was advised by Detective Hellinga that the driver who voluntarily came in with the vehicle didn’t match, and that there were “minor differences” in the two vehicles that definitively ruled it out.
The person who came in with the vehicle was Hispanic, not a heavyset white dude as described in the APB. However, the PV Irregulars had corralled the person who appeared to be the owner of the white pickup, who was indeed a heavyset white dude. It appears that the owner may have sent a friend down to the police station with his vehicle to throw them off the scent.
With regard to the “minor differences,” the PVE police advised that they consisted of running boards and tinted windows, neither of which were present on the surveillance video. As the driver of a 2007 Prius (point of personal shame) with 149,000 miles on it (point of personal cheapassedness) and a person with zero knowledge of or interest in car modifications (point of supreme pride), even I can tell you that window tinting and running boards can be slapped on in a couple of hours.
At this point the police had done no additional queries in the cycling community regarding basic, Cop 101 work such as asking The Most Basic Question Ever: “Have any of you spandex weirdos ever been harassed by a nutjob matching this car and description?”
The PV Irregulars, however, did. And what they got was an avalanche of responses. Numerous cyclists had indeed been assaulted by a heavyset white guy in a white four-door pickup. Some would call it coincidence. Some would call it irrelevant. Some would call it a silly lead. But any halfway competent cop would at least take the time to round up every single cyclist lead, bring them in, and interview them.
Remember, folks. Someone has just died, and he may have been murdered. In TV shows this where Columbo comes onto the scene. In PV Estates? If the victim is a cyclist, not so much.
By now a combination of bad press, terrible press, awful press, and downright hysterical press had moved the donuts over to the far corner of the conference table and forced the higher-ups at PVEPD to get to work, or at least a rough approximation of it, because local cyclists were informed of some key facts that you should take to the bank and remember for the rest of your life:
- You don’t have to wait to be contacted to make a report.
- You don’t have to have the cops’ authority to make a report.
- You can write your OWN report.
- The police have to take it.
- Just because you couldn’t identify the car or the driver doesn’t mean a crime hasn’t occurred, it just means it may not be solved. There are actually cases on record of crimes happening where the killer wasn’t caught!! And they’re still considered crimes!! Who knew? Cf. Jack the Ripper.
- “Buzzing,” “harassing,” and “threatening” a cyclist with a car, with the intent to cause injury, is a felony per People v. Wright, as it constitutes assault with a deadly weapon.
Fast forward to yesterday. One of the cyclists who had been assaulted on an earlier occasion by the mystery white pick-up went down to the PVEPD to report the crime. What she saw there was a thing of beauty: “The phones were ringing off the hook!” Cyclists were calling in like crazy, reporting the crimes committed against them (“White Prius just buzzed me on Via del Monte!”), in addition to the people who had shown up to report being assaulted by the mystery truck.
As a result of all this, the heavyset white dude who the PVEPD definitively ruled out as a suspect, then moved up to a “person of interest,” is now possibly, according to the police, going to find himself in a police line-up. Maybe in the interim someone will get around to carefully documenting the front and side of his vehicle, and having a collision reconstruction expert analyze John Bacon’s bike to see if there are any paint transfers or other marks that might show that the vehicle actually struck John. And a quick check on how recent the running boards and window tinting are wouldn’t be a total waste of time, either.
But hey, what do I know? We’re just a bunch of cyclists.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and join up with the PV Irregulars. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
May 23, 2016 § 6 Comments
Here we go …
- Red tide: Two more dead cyclists this week, one in Palos Verdes Estates (third cyclist death on the peninsula, second in the city of PVE), one in Playa del Rey. The car caught on surveillance tape tailgating John Bacon immediately before his death matches the description of a vehicle that has been harassing cyclists for months. If you’ve ever been harassed by this or a similar vehicle in PV, contact Detective Hellinga at the PVE police now. Oh, and then on Sunday another long-time South Bay cyclist was hit by a car in PV and transported to the hospital by ambulance. Business as usual.
- Man-Zilla, bear catcher: Tony Manzella captured a district championship in the race of truth, the individual time trial. Rather than the truth, though, it was more like a lie of omission, because the only thing the race proved is what we already know, i.e. Tony is a human missile on a bike. What the title omitted are much more important facts. Tony’s a great guy, a wonderful son, husband, and dad, and like Greg “G$” Leibert, Tony always has a word of encouragement and praise for you as he feeds you head-first into the meatgrinder. Join Tony for his birthday Ride to Rock on May 28, leaving with the NOW Ride in Santa Monica at 7:30–free coffee at the Rock for anyone who’s still alive when they get there.
- All hail Cesar: Cesar Reyes, junior rider with Team Velosport Junior/RideBiker Alliance, is the junior rider of the month, courtesy of Law Office of Seth Davidson. The award comes with a $200.00 check and one heck of a big smile from Cesar! Excited to see great results from a hard working and promising young rider.
- Bello Britannica: Local hammerhead and British import Alex Barnes put everyone to the sword on the world famous Donut Ride, winning the historic and legendary and wonderful and amazing climb to the Domes against a field of bloodthirsty killers all prepped and stretching their legs for nationals. Not bad for a beginning biker who still can’t talk well English goodly.
- Go forth and conquer: The South Bay sends its best road racer, Derek Brauch, off to the wilds of North Carolina to compete in the masters national championships next week. Along with Derek goes the South Bay’s best crit racer (yeah, we’re claiming him) Charon Smith in search of a national crit title. These two guys are unbelievably good bike racers and what’s more important, are incredibly good people. I’ve been trying for years to come up with dirt and rumors on them with no luck at all. Here’s hoping that they, along with my Big Orange teammate Greg “G$” Leibert, come home victorious.
- The end is near: CBR hosts its next-to-last crit on Memorial Day. Gitcher fast four-corner beatdown while it’s hot!
- It takes a village: When Velo Club La Grange Thomas Rennier lost his left thumb in a catastrophic collision at the Dana Point Grand Prix, he was asked if he planned on riding a bike again. Never mind racing. Riding. He said that there was no way he was going out like this and that he was counting the days until he could get back riding. As a super strong rider, “riding” is a euphemism for “full-blown beatdowns.” Thomas’s La Grange community sprang into motion. Within days, his teammates and friends at Santa Monica BMW concocted a plan to help him on his road back to the bike. Thanks to Jay Wolff and Dan Weinberg at Helen’s Cycles, Mike Miranda at Cannondale, Velo Club La Grange, an anonymous donor, but most of all Thomas‘s La Grange teammates, everyone pitched in to make the new bike a reality for one of the best loved and most feared guys in the peloton. No one expected this less than Thomas, and no one is more deserving. Hats off to the La Grange community for coming together like it did.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog; there’s good out there, too. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
May 22, 2016 § 41 Comments
The recent trio of cyclist deaths here in Palos Verdes has another angle, in addition to the lackadaisical police response as compared to how they deal with property crimes and crimes such as Driving While Black, Driving While Latino, and Driving While Poor. This other angle is the angle of cyclist inaction.
Since John Bacon’s death, numerous cyclists have reported that they too were buzzed and harassed by a vehicle similar to the one in the surveillance video. At least one other person confirmed that the driver was a big white dude, matching the APB description. None of these cyclists, after being assaulted, took the step of filing a police report. In one instance it was because the driver sped away before the rider could get his license plate, and although the PVE cops came they refused to report the incident because the cyclist didn’t have a license plate.
[Note #1: The police aren’t required to have a license plate to make a report. Note #2: Why haven’t the police followed up with every single person who has reported being buzzed by a similar vehicle? All it would take is a post on Facebag, a couple of phone calls to a couple of local cycling clubs, or even reaching out to a certain South Bay cycling blogger, to get that information. Note #3: This slackness is another example of the PVE PD’s casual approach to this case, rather than active, aggressive detective work.]
The other cyclists who have been assaulted by the white pickup driver never called the police. The reasons are myriad, but they typically boil down to this: Stopping your ride, calling the cops, and insisting that a report be made ruins your whole ride; in some cases your whole day. Most people ride by “snatching” a bit of free time in their busy day to go out and pedal. If they knew they would be spending the balance of the day at the police station, few would do it. In fact, when people are riding before work or before they have to be home to take kids to school, they simply can’t afford to stop–or so they think. And when they think about the hassle involved and the fact that the cager who assaulted them didn’t hurt or kill them, they get on with the ride and maybe talk about it over coffee or on a Facebook post.
This failure on the part of cyclists to report assault with a deadly weapon means that people like the mystery white pickup driver, who may or may not be the person the PVE cops have now identified as a “person of interest,” know that they can go about their deadly ways with impunity. In fact, the most famous case of cager-rager Dr. Thompson intentionally hitting a cyclist, in which the cager lost his doctor’s license and went to prison, only came to pass because of a previous incident in which a rider had reported the doctor’s assault on him. No charges were filed in that earlier case but a record existed, and this record resulted in the Thompson’s prison sentence.
Many have written or facebooked asking what can be done. The short answer is, “Take the time to report every single instance of assault, and especially every instance of battery.” No assault with a deadly weapon is minor, and people who do it once are the most likely people to do it again.
To give you an idea of what a buzzkill it is to report a crime, consider this:
A local 17-year-old was returning from the Telo training crit two weeks ago Tuesday, riding in the bike lane. An angry driver began honking and screaming at him. Of course there was a passenger and a child in the back seat because, role model. The cyclist tried to find out what the problem was, when the cager said he would get out and beat him up. The rider, a small high school student who is hardly a cage fighter, pulled over as he was afraid he was going to be run over, and the passenger jumped out. The rider took pictures, but not before the passenger slapped him in the face (a battery), and the driver continued to scream and threaten him (an assault).
Then they drove away. All this because a kid was riding his bike. In the bike lane.
Shaken and terrified, this young man decided to do something about it. So my daughter, who is an attorney at my firm, went with him to the Torrance Police Department to make a report and have the police open an investigation. Despite the location of the incident being clearly within the Torrance PD’s jurisdiction, they were sent to Redondo Beach Police Department, where they were told to go back to Torrance. It’s called Complainant Ping-Pong and the object is to wear people out so they give up and go home.
At Torrance, they waited almost three hours for the police department to do its job, and the boy was questioned over and over again, ostensibly to “make sure” he had his story straight, but clearly in order to try and trip him up so that the police wouldn’t have to open a report. Then, when it became clear that the kid’s story was completely consistent, and he had photos of the perps, and the attorney wasn’t going to back down, they opened an inquiry but only as to battery. It took additional argument to get them to include the obvious charge of assault as well.
The entire process took four hours, and of course the only reason it happened at all is because the rider happened to be on a club that happened to have a lawyer sponsor who happened to have someone on his payroll who happened to be able to take half a day off work to go help a crime victim. You can imagine how the young man would have been treated had he shown up at Torrance PD on his own.
Yet now the people who committed the assault and battery are going to be investigated by the police, and since the rider took photos, they may also be charged with a crime–though it’s easy to imagine that they will fabricate a story defending or wholly denying their behavior. What they can’t expunge is that there is now a record of them and their vehicle. If they repeat their behavior, or run over and kill a cyclist, there will be a smoking gun pointing at their California driver licenses and vehicle registration.
What’s as important is that regardless of how the case turns out, these bastards will know that their actions have consequences. They will think twice before attacking a cyclist. They may even have to hire a lawyer and part with some cold, hard cash to avoid a criminal conviction. These are the kinds of consequences that can never happen unless cyclists are willing to sacrifice the day’s ride and peace of mind to do the right thing. Like it or not, it’s on us.
This type of reporting has a ripple effect. Police know that their time is going to be consumed if they don’t do a better job of policing cager criminals. Best of all, these reports show up in local, state, and national statistics. And although dead bodies don’t impress bureaucrats, numbers do.
I reflect on the times I’ve been assaulted and have caught up to the driver and exchanged heated words. Never again. From now on I’ll be taking photos and calling 911. I’ll also be upgrading my bike into a rolling video production machine with front and rear cameras. Ruin my day? Fine. But at least the fucker who tried to kill me won’t be ruining some innocent person’s life.
So to everyone who asks, “What can we do?” the answer is this: Report the crime. Because if you don’t, the next John Bacon may be you.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn that in PV as a cyclist yore life ain’t wuth a plugged nickel. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!