Double Tap on Sepulveda


There are no bike lanes in Van Nuys, from Woodman to Woodley. There are no bike lanes in North Hills. None in Panorama.  Put these three neighborhoods together and you have 265,000 people, nearly the population of Orlando, Florida. Orlando has bike lanes.  So does the city of Irvine, Pop. 266,000. But not us. We’re a colony.

Wait, a minute, what about the Orange Line? Ain’t that in Van Nuys?
Before the indigenous peoples south of Oxnard declared themselves to be Sherman Oaks, it used to be.  Now it’s an orphan.

The historic heart of the San Fernando Valley constitutes a medium-sized American city unto itself, but lacking the normal amenities found in such cities. Like say, Pittsburgh.
Then we have the nomadic tribes of the Favela, wandering their Sinai of dysfunction and dispossession from the 405 to the Wash, always on bikes.   Hundreds of them.

That’s a lot of people sharing lanes.   There are choke points, Sepulveda at Stagg being one of them.   It’s a great place to get clipped, pedaling against traffic.  At night.
Then again, it’s a great place to get clipped in broad daylight moving with the traffic flow, keeping yourself three feet from the parked cars, wearing a helmet and reflective clothing.

You don’t want to get hit twice.    Cause the first driver might not kill you. If he takes off, leaving you in the street, a second car might run over you like a speed bump, dragging your body up the block. She, too, might make a getaway, trailing sparks.   In the case of Stacy Adams, 55, neither driver rendered aid, though one of them managed to dispose of her bicycle in a spirited attempt to break the chain of evidence.

Erik Larson, the first driver, was arrested at his residence the next day.  The woman, Jenevieve Hegedus, was arrested a week later.

Cops like hit and runs.  They work them hard, they close ’em fast.  -Michael Clayton


The victim, one of 50 bicycle-vehicle fatalities in SoCal in 2017, has a ghost bike to mark where her body was crushed. It’ll be there for a year, and then it will be removed.

In a year’s time, Metro may raze Aetna and Bessemer street to build a maintenance yard for a light rail conversion of the Orange Line no one asked for.  I have a wee suspicion there still won’t be a bike lane on Sepulveda. There’s no money in that.  Maybe I could write a letter to the colonial bureau.

Ghost Bike

Ghost Bike
Seventeenth of the year

‘Have you seen the bike?” asked Mrs. UpintheValley. “What bike?” “The white bike, up on Lanark Street.  A kind of shrine popped up overnight. Something bad must have happened there.” “There might be a bike there, but I doubt it’s a shrine.” “I’m telling you…it’s a shrine.” Up to the corner the three of us went, and there the bike was, spray-painted funereal white right down to the chain, gears and tires. A procession of  votive candles lined the curb and a garland of roses threaded the spokes.   A flyer clipped to the wheel promoted a film called…well,  Ghost Bike.  It had a distinctly indie-movie look. Horror, perhaps, with artsy pretensions. And a website, of course. In LA, always be marketing. On the heels of Shia LaBoeuf’s skywriting stunt, I confess this filled me with cynicism.  But why there, in Van Nuys, so far off the beaten track? Not exactly a cyclist’s haven.  A visit to the website reveals Ghost Bike  is not a horror film, exactly, but a documentary ‘about members of the cycling community who volunteer to install ghost bikes anonymously at sites where cyclists were killed…and the lives that are affected by the conflict between motorist and cyclists to safely share the road.’ Indeed. But who was killed there? Google filled in the blanks. A neighbor. An unnamed 56-year-old man, struck by a hit-and-run driver two days before Christmas. A police canvas turned up no witnesses. This was certainly news to me, and I bike everywhere. He was the 17th cyclist killed in Los Angeles in 2013.  The seventeenth. There were less than 300 homicides in LA last year, which would make car-on-bike mayhem the third-leading cause of death, behind stabbings and gunshots.