• Hit-and-runs make up roughly a 1/3 of all traffic collisions in Los Angeles 
  • In 2011 alone, there were over 18,800 hit-and-run collisions in the city.
  • 514  were riding a bicycle.
  • 759   were pedestrians.
  • Over 12,880  involved another motor vehicle.
  • 36 Angelenos  were killed by hit-and-run collisions in 2011.
  • 72% of those were people who were walking or riding their bicycles on the streets of Los Angeles at the moment they were hit.
  • Currently the LAPD does not know how many of those 18,800+ hit-and-run collisions were solved or how many were prosecuted.

(All statistics from LAPD via Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition – LACBC)

Marie

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my friend Alyssa contacted me about a friend of hers that was the victim of a hit and run. Marie was leaving LACMA after viewing a movie at the museum.

While walking across the street Marie was hit by a car. She was hurt pretty badly too. The driver took off and left her lying on the street. Alyssa wanted everyone she knew to spread the word. Trying to find the perpetrator or anyone that may have seen something – anything, and report it to LAPD.

Hit-and-runs, I report on them everyday. Usually it involves two vehicles with a person hitting another and then choosing to flee. Most are fender benders. Honestly, I never gave them much thought. To me, it was another accident. I don’t feel like that anymore.
After posting Marie’s story, I started receiving tweets from a guy in the cycling community. I had no idea how many pedestrians/cyclists are victims of a hit-and-run everyday in LA. Not until communicating with @WolfpackHustle…

“What is worse than getting hit by a speeding car? Getting hit by a driver that flees the scene. The ugly reality is that there are people who actually choose to leave their victims in the street, often with huge hospital bills. In 2011 in Los Angeles, according to LAPD statistics, 1,273 people chose to flee the scene after striking a cyclist or pedestrian with their cars. At least 26 of them left their victims to die in the streets. These stats are collected within the borders of the City of Los Angeles. Imagine the county-wide numbers.”

@WolfpackHustle is Don “Roadblock” Ward. After several tweets we started emailing and talking on the phone. When I found out how bad this situation is, I knew I had to do something. I spoke with a great producer here at KCRW, Avishay Artsy. He met up with Ward early one morning last week. The interview aired on WWLA. Educating the public and encouraging witnesses to report these crimes – those are ways that I can help.
Take back our streets from creeps – that is my battle cry.

 The Epidemic of Cyclist Hit-And-Runs

 by:

The Los Angeles City Council recently passed an ordinance giving bicycle riders the chance to sue automobile drivers for threatening them, harassing them or trying to force them off the streets. Hit-and-runs are a big concern to cycling activists.

Cycling activist Don Ward recounts his hit-and-run story. About three years ago, he collided with a car while riding on Glendale Boulevard, near Sunset Boulevard, in Echo Park. The car took off, but Ward was able to get the car’s license plate number. He tweeted the information and posted it to the Midnight Ridazz message board, a group he helped found. With the help of someone in the California Highway Patrol, he was able to track down the driver, and eventually bring him to justice.

But he recognizes that the police, who seemed unwilling to help him at first, are overburdened and unable to help cyclists go after aggressive drivers. He says the laws need to be changed so that a hit-and-run incident carried a far more serious consequence. Listen to the interview below.

Thanks Avishay

Solutions:

Don Ward has a plan…

“For now let’s call it “A Multi-Step Action Plan for an Organized but Loosely Affiliated Citizen’s Lobby Group to Demand Safer Streets Using Tools We Currently Have Access To.”
Read the plan 

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) …

“We are working with others in the bicycle community, most notably Don “Roadblock” Ward and partner organizations like Los Angeles Walks, to call attention to this issue. And we want to work with you to share your stories with LAPD leadership and city leadership. We’ve created a form to collect your hit and run experience and how it was handled. Help us make sure LAPD and the City of Los Angeles respond to and fully investigate all cases where a person walking or bicycling is hit no matter the type or severity of injury….”

The two top reasons why people flee the scene of their crime…
a) They are driving while intoxicated.
b) They are driving without a license.
It’s a lot less costly financially and functionally for a drunk driver to leave the scene of a hit-and-run than it is to stay and help their victim. Who would stay given these options?
A felony drunk driving charge or a misdemeanor hit-and-run. The unintended consequences of outdated laws are driving the decision process here. It’s no wonder law enforcement is hamstrung and irresponsible drivers are motivated  to take off.
A tagger is penalized with a felony for graffiti. Yes a felony, but a hit and run driver – that’s a slap on the wrist, few hundred bucks and some Caltrans community service. That is if you are caught, and that is not likely.

Now, what are you going to do? You don’t have to go to join a group, or go to meetings to help. You don’t have to become an advocate. But what you can do is be a good citizen.

If you witness a hit-and-run call the police. Don’t just get all freaked out, and keep on going along your merry way, then pick up your cell phone – call your partner or friend and breathlessly say I, “Oh my GOD! I just saw an accident!!!”.
Snap a picture with your phone, maybe you’ll get the vehicle color or the make of the car. You might even get the license plate. Call the police.
Jot down some notes if possible. Don’t trust your memory. Call the police. 
This is something we all can do. Please, let’s…

Take Back Our Streets From Creeps.

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