Last night, a cyclist died on Critical Mass after losing control of his bicycle and crashing into a wall on UCLA’s campus. Jerico Culata was only eighteen years old and friends and family are already mourning his death. Police are investigating the cause of the crash but have already noted that Culata was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Other riders were involved in the crash, but the LAPD reports no other serious injuries.
That being said, NBC4, which is usually one of the better news organizations when it comes to covering cycling and healthy transportation options has a wildly irresponsible story which takes shots at fixed gear bicycles, Critical Mass, and group bike rides in general. A brief response to the NBC 4 piece can be found after the jump.
(Update: I was just informed over Twitter by LAist editor Emma Gallegos that NBC4 just reprinted an article by City News Service. Don’t be surprised if some of the weirdness in the article is repeated by other news organizations, especially on a holiday weekend.)
I’m sure there will be a lot more news on this crash as time goes on. Streetsblog would like to express our sympathy to the friends and family of Jerico Culata. More coverage of the crash can be found at LAist, Patch and the Los Angeles Times.
1) LAPD began riding along on Critical Mass after an LAPD officer was caught on camera kicking a cyclist in the May 2010 Critical Mass. Other officers on the scene then assaulted the camera person and broke his phone. They didn’t do it because CM was out of control. That being said, the relationship between the LAPD and cyclists is at an all time high in large part because of the cooperation this has caused.
2) There is no relationship between Critical Mass in San Diego and Los Angeles other than a shared name. Mentioning an incident in San Diego would be like a looking at crashes occurring in different freeways as proof that car drivers are out of control.
3) The number of cyclists killed by cars and negligent drivers is far higher than the number killed by cyclists regardless of how rowdy or not the cyclists are.
4) I look forward to your upcoming series on drivers that turn left after the light turns red, in clear violation of the law. This occurs millions of times a day in Los Angeles and is far more dangerous than Critical Mass.
5) “Bikes without breaks” are known as Fixed Gear bicycles. I was actually trained on a fixed gear bicycle as a child, although I ride a more traditional road bike these days. Look them up before writing about them and assigning blame. Here’s an article on Livestrong: http://www.livestrong.com/article/441945-fixed-gear-bike-safety/