Dangerous Taxi Driver Causes Bike Crash, Broken Arm for Villaraigosa

Well, that didn’t take long.

On Friday, Metblogs’ Will Campbell noticed a tweet from Mayor Villaraigosa about how much he enjoyed riding his bicycle as part of the Summer Night Lights program.  Campbell spent the time to page through the Mayor’s flickr feed and even found a picture of Villaraigosa laughing it up mounted on a slick looking bicycle.

On Saturday, the Mayor was involved in a bicycle crash.  The Times has the details:

The mayor was riding in the bicycle lane on Venice Boulevard in
Mid-City at about 6:50 p.m. when a taxi abruptly pulled in front of him.
The mayor hit his brakes and fell off the bike.

While I appreciate the tone of the LA_Now article posted by the Times, which focuses on the efforts to make the streets safer for cyclists; I have to take issue with the title of the piece.  The piece, and many more like it, feature the title "Mayor Villaraigosa breaks elbow in bicycle accident."  This wasn’t an "accident" and the Mayor did not "break his elbow."  A dangerous driver decided that wherever he was going was more important than driving safely.  The driver’s negligence caused a crash resulting in a broken elbow.  Villaraigosa deserves the same respect any victim of negligent driving, and the blame for the crash and the damage should not be his to bear.

While the Mayor heals, many are already wondering what impact his crash will have on city policy which has been turning in cyclists’ favor recently.  While that’s a worthy discussion, I’m content to give the Mayor the weekend off to heal and hopefully contemplate the many safety issues with the city’s streets.  So rest up Mr. Mayor.  But tomorrow, it’s back to work.  Having ridden a mile "in our shoes" and learned a painful lesson about drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists; the bar has been raised.

  • A. Editing.
    B. It’s clear from the mayors ‘slick bike’ that he HAS no brakes to hit. If anything pulls in front of a fixie abruptly, you’re kind of boned. After all, they’re intended for maneuvering through heavy, slow traffic; not biking normally down a street.

    If the taxi WAS being reckless (god knows I’m not going to vouch for taxis as being careful and I have no doubt it was driving like a dumbass), I’d like to see what kind of law the mayor might enact. As it is, I have little faith that anything useful will come out of this other than the mayor opting for a bike with gears and a fucking helmet.

  • Carter R

    Get well soon Tony!

  • PaulCJr

    The mayor doesn’t ride a fixie, he was just photographed on it.

  • JW

    The Times is famous for that. The drunkenly-blow-through-a-red-light-drag-a-body-off-your-windshield-fix-your-car-run-to-the-border near USC was also initially an “accident.”

    Really, motorists can’t be a fault.

    In my experience in Santa Monica, cab drivers are the worst. They cut me off several times a week so they can race to their free curb parking where they spend all day yucking it up and littering cigarette butts.


  • For the record, I actually really liked the LA_Now story. It’s just that there’s an automatic bias when you say someone “broke their arm” that places blame on the victim. When looking around at the other headlines, it’s striking how prevalent this bias is.

  • Spokker

    All car accidents are called just that, accidents, no matter who caused it. Why would bike accidents be any different?

  • patrick

    The Times’ latest release quotes a West Traffic Division Sgt. Murrel Pettway as saying, “Officers interviewed Villaraigosa and other witnesses but did not get a license plate number or the name of the cab company… The mayor was accompanied by his security detail.”

    How is this possible?

    The Times then goes on, “In such an incident, officials said, a law enforcement officer would have to witness the accident to issue a citation.”

    How is that possible?

  • I agree with the ‘How is that possible?’ sentiments.

    I fell off my bike about a month ago — tore up my collarbone/shoulder, and I’m still not back to normal. Messing up one of your arms severely limits how much you can do – and it hurts all the time. There’s no way to ‘get it’ until you actually do it, unfortunately.

    Not sure where these friendly motorist-type commenters are coming from.

  • Will Campbell

    A potential scenario for how it’s possible that no one got the license number of the cab is that the driver left the scene (perhaps intentionally fleeing or perhaps — as can be the case — not at all knowing the impact he had since it appears there was no contact with the vehicle). It’s easy to wonder somewhat incredulously why no one had the presence of mind to ID the taxi, but if it happened relatively quickly it shouldn’t be surprising that the mayor’s security personnel were more directly and immediately focused on Villaraigosa.

    As to how it’s possible no citation would be issue without an officer witnessing, it may not seem fair, but it’s standard. Scenes of traffic incidents and collisions often leave everyone who arrives afterward scratching their head as to what happened. I for one wouldn’t want an officer showing up and rushing to some judgment on any involved party without an investigation.

    Speaking of an investigation, one could argue that LAPD resources should be deployed to question all the cab companies in an effort to find out who had a cab in the vicinity of the incident’s location, but that would personally make me angry. When a cyclist like Roadblock gets mowed down by a hit-and-runner and basically has to initiate his own search for the perpetrator or when the motorist who struck Ed Magos, left the incident scene only to later turn herself in and be immediately released by the police, I’ll have a hard time understanding why detectives might go to all that trouble to track down a cabbie — and for what, to give him a ticket? To bill him for the mayor’s medical costs?

  • Doug

    In all likelihood, since there was no collision, the cab hasn’t even done anything wrong. CA would need laws like those in Massachusetts which make it a violation to cut off bikers.

    I look forward to seeing an updated bike agenda from the mayor’s office, as one commenter said, having walked a mile in our shoes.

  • Roadblock

    I’m impressed that our mayor was riding a bike at all. I wish he would have reached out to the cycling community to come out and ride with him. Safety in numbers!

    Get well soon Mayor V.

  • If a car pulls in front of another, precipitating a crash, the driver of that car is “at fault”.

  • Doug

    @ubray: From a financial, not legal standpoint, yes. I’m saying that person should have points on their license and be subject to ticketing, not just have to pay for the mayor’s medical bills and property damage.

  • Jen Petersen

    First off, way to go, Damien. When incidents such as the mayor’s get called accidents, culpability gets placed with the cyclist or motorist involved. But in the case of roads not properly designed to protect their most vulnerable slow movers, cars are rewarded for prioritizing their own interests/attending to the speed they facilitate, at direct cost to the safety and pleasure of non-motorized users.
    The problem is structural, and we advocates for more sociable streets needn’t become bogged down in arguments over who’s responsible when roads aren’t built to reward multi-modal sensitivity. Yes yes as the speediest and girthiest users if the
    road, motorists are responsible for their footprints, but the meek or often even silent infrastructure certainly doesn’t offer them many incentives to consistently look out for the little guys and gals.

    What might be fun is to design and upload to a central spot–LACBC’s website, maybe?–a simple consulation card. Anyone interested could dowload their own card and express empathy with his painful encounter of the shortcomings of streets that encourage motorists to not see cyclists–maybe sharing their own such encounters?  –And remark how fortunate he is
    as steward of our vast street network, to have the option to redeem his experience by catalyzing
    infrastructural changes that encourage harmonious cyclist/motorist interaction…

  • sfilkins

    where is the bicycle helmet?

  • sfilkins

    and the headlights?

  • Jimmy Huero

    The fact that the mayor tangled with a much hated taxista raises a red flag. Furthermore the fact that there was no contact physical contact betweeen taxi and bike makes me suspicious. If the mayor simply fell off his bike his adisers would advise him to concoct a story about a rougue taxi. If he admitted to simply dumping his bike in a grease puddle (as I have done) would make him look less than virile and vigorous. Although I believe the mayor to be a communist I know him to be a very nice man and hope he recovers quickly and completely.

  • Cameron Newland

    Sorry, Spokker, they’re not accidents, they’re collisions. In an accident, there is no one who is at fault.


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