It’s only a cyclist

May 20, 2016 § 75 Comments

The Palos Verdes Peninsula now has three cycling fatalities since March. The most recent person to die on a bicycle was John Bacon, age 68, a guy many of us knew from his old-school, dark green steel Eddy Merckx.

The facts surrounding his death are unclear. Immediately prior to his demise a surveillance camera shot video of a white pickup trailing him very closely. Here’s the pic:


The PV Estates Police Department is well known for its aggressive policing of property crimes, which makes sense in this super-rich, highly white, greedily exclusive enclave whose unofficial motto is “Don’t Touch My Shit.” A recent burglary caused law enforcement here to call in a helicopter, with all hands on deck by the police, and they fully cordoned off neighborhood.

Because you know, someone’s jewelry might get stolen.

One on one the officers here are professional and polite, but they take direction from their boss, who takes direction from the City Manager, who takes direction from the City Council, who takes direction from the Don’t Touch My Shitters. And cyclist deaths mean little or nothing to the wretched excuses for human life who run city politics here.

The police put out an all points bulletin for the white pickup and they put up a couple of signs going up and down Granvira Altamira requesting information. That, folks, is what a suspicious death of a cyclist merits in PVE. Two flashing signs.

What do you think they would have done if a couple of kids from Compton had rolled into town and shot someone?

The only real detective work done on the case was by outraged cyclists who identified a truck the following day at a construction site near the death scene that was extremely similar to the one in the video. After phoning in the information to the PV police, the caller waited for forty-five minutes for someone to come.

No one did, and the truck left. Because, donuts and coffee.

Imagine if an upstanding white property owner in PV had been gunned down at Malaga Cove and someone called in a tip that the African-American shooter was a few yards away the following day. It’s easy to imagine the response that would have gotten, and the hailstorm of lead that would have rained down.

Eventually a person did voluntarily appear at the police department for questioning, but he didn’t match the physical description of the person of interest in the APB, who was a heavyset white male. The PV cops decided that due to “minor differences” in the two vehicles, a running board and a tinted window, that it was definitively not the car in question.

Of course these are items that can be quickly added to a car to change its appearance, and there’s no indication that they did a detailed investigation of the front of the truck, which could still have had paint transfers or other evidence of hitting John if that’s in fact what happened. What’s even stranger is that the cyclist who called in the tip later talked to the person who appeared to be the owner of the truck, who was in fact a heavyset white male. It seems that the person who went in for questioning may not have even been the owner of the truck.

Later that day on Friday the 20th, the police put out another bulletin saying that thanks to a phone tip they had finally found the driver of the vehicle they were seeking. The report didn’t say whether it was the same truck that the cyclist had phoned in, and an NBC reporter couldn’t get the PV police to confirm, but it’s hard to imagine who else it could be.

If it turns out that the “person of interest” who has notably not yet been charged or arrested is the owner of the truck called in by the cyclist, it will only underscore what we already know: When it comes to doing police work regarding dead cyclists, the PVE police have more important priorities.

If it turns out to be someone else, it still doesn’t explain the police department’s lethargic response to this epidemic of death on the peninsula. What makes it worse is that after John’s death no less than four cyclists reported being previously buzzed and harassed by a white pickup and driver matching this vehicle’s description. The environment of hostility and hate towards cyclists in Palos Verdes has a parallel with the local surfing gang known as The Bay Boys.

Don’t touch my waves, don’t touch my shit. Even when the ocean and the roads aren’t mine.

Stay tuned …



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§ 75 Responses to It’s only a cyclist

  • debster822 says:

    I read stories from all over the country about cagers hitting cyclists and getting away with it. Oftentimes when no witnesses step forward the driver blames the cyclist, who, if dead, can’t refute the lie. We’re as human as the driver. Why, then, are cyclists treated as less worthy than someone’s Louis Vuitton satchel? That’s the worst. If a human life is lost, that should be given a much higher priority than someone’s lost diamond ring. No offense to owners of diamond rings, but your carbon isn’t worth my life.

    So frustrating…I want to do something about it and don’t really know how to start.

    Thanks, and no thanks, for this post. We need to know and where we go from here…I have no idea.

    • fsethd says:

      It’s enough to make you quit cycling.

      • debster822 says:

        The only thing that will make me quit cycling is death. I’ll go out with my lights and hand signals and ride until I can’t anymore.

        It’s enough to make me show up at court hearings and testify on the behalf of cyclists who need witnesses, when I’ve witnessed this kind of crime.

        I refuse to be intimidated.

      • debster822 says:

        We rode 9 days around Abruzzo, Italy, and the respect we had from cagers was amazing. They honk if you ride like an American. It made coming back to the U.S. hard.

  • Michelle Landes says:

    Wow! Heart wrenching ! How do we enjoy our sport with the anger towards us ! He was a gentle soul is gone and this man in the truck trust me is not!!

  • […] 3: According to Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson, a cyclist called the police after spotting what appeared to be the truck in question on Thursday, […]

  • Worldchamp says:

    Actually, a black man just has to enter the city to get the police’s attention. I was riding into PV on PV Blvd, crossed over to go up Via Anita and a black kid on a BMX bike was just crossing into PV. A cop happened to be there and stopped him. The kid got angry and rightly so, he was just riding his bike into PV. I guess black kids aren’t allowed to do that.

    But a cyclist is killed or maimed: “So sorry. Gotta get back to work.”

    • fsethd says:

      You nailed it.

    • debster822 says:

      How wrong is that. Racist and classist police. Glad I don’t live there and my sympathies to those who do, and those who ride there. You ride and bike and you’re less important than black guy on a bike. Where else in the US is that a problem?

  • number1bikermonkey says:


  • bikinginla says:

    This is why you always, always, always have to report harassment from a motorist, even if police don’t want to take a report. Let’s hope the police listen to those cyclists now, and take this case seriously.

    My fear is that the driver caused John Bacon to fall without actually making enough contact to leave evidence on the truck, and that the police will whitewash it by claiming he just fell on his own. Which we all know is BS.

  • cgnewgirl says:

    Absolutely no words. 💔

  • Turd Fergusen says:

    Since you’re so certain the white pickup caused this death, what’s stopping you from meting out a little vigilante justice? And if it’s not the right white truck (which I guess somehow is racist — being white and all), why not cover your bases: vandalize and physically attack the drivers of any and all white trucks you see in, near, or around PV. After all, you’re a lawyer, right? You Can tell who’s guilty! All those heavyset white guys driving white trucks will deserve exactly what they get!

    • fsethd says:

      I know it’s hard and painful and probably requires assistance, but please go back and read the post. This isn’t about who’s guilty, it’s about the police attitude towards criminal investigations against cyclists.

      • Tied Fergusen says:

        Oh *** get it, *** pissed that a *** on *** — absent any other *** — isn’t enough to spark a *** using all the ***. Throw in a *** for a *** and *** an all go sleep soundly in your *** It’s a *** the *** but rather than attack the *** who are *** why don*** for them to *** Oh wait — *** .

        • fsethd says:

          We did, Turd. And they couldn’t be bothered to come investigate a car that appeared to be a perfect match. I’ve already advised you to re-read, but that’s not getting us anywhere because hey, reading is hard. “Thumper’s Fluffy Tail” might be a better place for you to start. Also, why don’t you man up and post your name? Answer: You’ve got zero courage behind your supposed convictions.

        • fsethd says:

          His IP Address is

  • dankroboth says:

    Even here in France, where I feel extremely safe, I ride with lights and cameras front and back, an id card in my phone wallet and my road id. You can’t prevent the unthinkable from happening, but you can at least make it easy on those that have to reconstruct it.

    Besides an attitude that values human life, the shared value we are all equal, and that time is not urgent, a thing makes a difference is manual transmissions, roundabouts and yield signs not stop signs. Driving requires your complete and full attention here. There are no breaks. You don’t sit for 2 minutes and surf the web while you wait for the light to change. You are always driving. I couldn’t text and drive if I wanted to. Insurance is also incredibly strict. There is no accident forgiveness. You have to have a completely clean driving record for the last 13 years before you get the lowest insurance rates. One accident and it resets. People yield all the time.

    • fsethd says:

      Noticed the same thing in Mallorca. Texting isn’t possible behind the wheel, at least not for more than .0001 seconds.

  • Rod Lake says:

    I’m missing something. Using bitter sarcasm and stereotyping an entire neighborhood helps the cause how? Didn’t the video come from somebody in the neighborhood? It’s a horrible story. But I don’t see how publicly trashing a neighborhood, that did nothing wrong, not to mention slamming cops, will help the next time. Good luck.

    • channel_zero says:

      Posted the PVE resident. When your gardner doesn’t do his job, what happens? What happens if your housekeeper doesn’t show up? Do you whisper kind words in their ear encouraging them to do better next time and continue to pay them?

      Maybe this episode will teach those cyclists to stay off of “your roads” once and for all. Am I right?

      Wanky, what’s needed is what happened years and years ago with MADD and drunk driving. Essentially, the standards for charging/conviction were lowered. That needs to happen with cycling in the U.S.

    • fsethd says:

      Rod, first off thanks for using your name. Anonymous criticism is so weak and it’s reaffirming to argue with people who aren’t afraid/ashamed/embarrassed about their convictions.

      You raise two questions. One, is everyone in PV bad? No. And I specifically directed my criticism to those in charge of city politics and police policy. However, the character of the city is extremely anti-cycling. Please attend any city council meeting that address an issue related to cycling and you’ll be blown away by the hate. PV has ample room for bike lanes on many of its streets and specifically refuses to put them in, preferring instead to stripe them for roadside parking. PV’s demographic is as I’ve described. The city is hostile to poor people, African-Americans, or anyone who looks like they “don’t belong.” If you doubt this, dress up in your best homeless outfit and ride a crappy bike through PVE. You’ll be pulled over; I’ve seen it happen.

      Your second criticism, that it’s unproductive to “trash” PVE, is invalid. My criticism is factual and relates to the way the police here approach crime. It is property-crime oriented. When PV had its second fatality of the year, last month, the police and EMS openly speculated that the cyclist “must have fainted” with no evidence of the kind. The rider was old and dead, therefore the car that hit him must have hit him because he fainted. No arrests or charges, of course.

      I didn’t ask the police to be police. If they don’t like criticism, get another job. It comes with the territory, much like the practice of law. And if the people who enforce the law are too thin skinned to take factual criticism, well, they’ll get zero sympathy from me.

      Finally, we don’t need good luck. We need zealous enforcement of crimes against cyclists, we need neighborhoods that yield to cyclists and we need cyclists who do more than shrug and plan the next group ride when someone gets mowed down.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Jim says:

    The security video shows the truck dangerously tailgating John down the hill and closing on him as they leave the frame. You can see that the truck is on the right side of the center line and a car passes them in the opposite lane going up the hill. John was found in the street 150 feet beyond the camera’s field of view. Whether the driver was distracted or intentionally tried to intimidate the rider isn’t known, but it’s obvious who caused the death of a close friend.

    • fsethd says:

      Imagine the video showed a man holding a gun to someone’s head, and a few feet after the video the person was found dead with a gunshot wound. How much speculation would there be about the cause of death?

  • Winemaker says:

    MLK had it right…Education, Non-violent protest – good tactics.
    Abbie Hoffman had it right too…Off the pigs, Up the man.- good tactics
    Somewhere, somehow, each of us, fifty years later, will get it right.

    • A-Trav says:

      Since I got rear-ended I’ve been trying not to hate but it’s really hard. At this point I just want to do whatever I can to reduce the number of cars on the road. I want insurance minimums to be revisited and increased by about 10 or 20 times, because that’s where they need to be. I want people held responsible for their actions, and if paying for that prices people off the road, well good! In this country, if you run over a bicycle and say, “Oh gee…I’m sorry…I didn’t see them”, it’s called an “accident”. If you do that in Germany, it’s called “jail time”, because in most of the rest of the world they value things like holding people responsible for their actions (and education). Riding my bike used to bring me joy, but now it makes me feel sad. I hope I can shake that. I’ve been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to psyche myself into getting on the path for an hour or so. Trying to “psyche” myself into going for a ride just ain’t right.

      • channel_zero says:

        I’d encourage you to examine the history of MADD and their drunk driving cause. IMO, the same thing needs to happen for cyclists. Develop lower threshold for charges and simplify prosecution standards and raise penalties.

        We know at this point, most voters like multi-use streets. Now we need to keep going and make it clear in the law that the streets are multi-use.

        As it is right now, the easiest way to murder someone is to kill them with a car while the victim is on a bicycle.

      • fsethd says:

        No it isn’t right, because you’ve been victimized twice. Once by a driver, again by a system. And you know that it could just as easily happen again.

    • Turd Fergusen says:

      Right on! ***-fat rich *** *** on *** should definitely be a *** that gets ***! Maybe *** can come up with a *** like “***,” have PV*** bake you a ***, alter the *** to “***” then hold a *** to show how *** you are!

    • fsethd says:

      Still trying.

  • Winemaker says:

    Sorry, Seth, but as your most conservative, ecological, right/left (confused) friend, I have a unique coio-politcal perspective from which to comment about Tied Fergusen’s reply:
    Hey TIED – This was a MURDER. Yes, ALL of the PVEPD’s resources should be but to bear on this investigation. This isn’t, and I quote you, “..a split second image”, but a video and well, a MURDER. For Chrissakes!

    • Turd Fergusen says:

      So there are *** and/or *** of the guy *** down by ***, and *** from the *** that show *** this rider? Because short of ***, all you ***, and the *** to *** a ***. Innocent *** *** ***, unless a *** of cyclists *** you did it?

    • fsethd says:

      Relax. He can’t read.

  • LesB says:

    Seth, apparently you first covered this incident yesterday with an article titled “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” When I clicked on the link for that article I got sent to your error page. Still happens today. Is it just me?

  • JunkYard says:

    Wow, this Smokey and the “Turd” Bandit freak seems to be a good candidate for Trump’s cabinet. Keys in a whole lot of ASSterisks, without really saying anything at all. Sad case. RIP Woodsman

  • r says:

    just read about the fatality in pv and wanted to let you know about another bicyclist that was struck and killed yesterday on pershing just before the westchester parkway. At about 9:30am on friday may 20 a cyclist riding northbound on pershing (under the lax runway) was struck by a yellow ford pickup truck driven. The cyclist was wearing a helmet. Judging by the damage to the truck, he was hit at a very high rate of speed. I figured i would email you as i didn’t see much news coverage of this and its an area frequently riden by cyclists.

  • TomH says:

    The white Ford truck in the surveillance video was parked this morning at a construction site, in plain view, in the very same block of GVA where Bacon died.
    What doesn’t make sense to me is, if that truck is the perpetrator, why would he:
    – allegedly stop and flag down help, then
    – drive a 50-100 meters more to his workplace/jobsite and park in plain view.
    A typical hit&run driver’s response is to RUN , then lay low and keep the car out of sight until investigation winds down.
    It doesn’t completely add up …

  • Red says:

    Ease up on the race-baiting…. That kind of dipshittery detracts from the seriousness of the crime, and the focus that should be put on this case.

    • fsethd says:

      It’s race baiting when you point out that the police force is racist? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just talk about people getting hurt and ignore the other enforcement issues that go along with it? The unequal enforcement of laws is not limited to cyclists in PVE. If you don’t like it, you’re the dipshit.

      • Michelle Landes says:

        My biggest regret is not getting his plates when he almost hit me. The cops asked if I would id him in a line up , I said yes! No call! I knew he was a construction worker by his clothes . This is so unfair and disrespectful to the family’s ! Could there be some kind of town meeting we could have ?

  • Turd says:

    Ok, so this is my last post. I’m a driveling asshole, brainless, perhaps, but I’m happy that way. Back to my favorite animal porn site. Love you all, Turd.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Yes, laws and enforcement thereof, and licensing procedures (as in “you gotta know how to drive really”) and insurance practices all need to change.

    Bicyclists need a lobby, in general and specific senses.
    The sport, from what I see, has gone uptown and that, all across the board– “numbers”, including commuters, “civilian riders” of various stripe, and racer-dog and dogettes. Way uptown on the racer end– “young professionals” included among the dirtbag slacker Cat II’s, and accomplished professionals with some standing and status in the larger community are in the number now. That’s quite a difference from the state of the sport in the 70’s and 80’s when I jumped in.

    So where is the constructive self-interest?

  • […] driver fled the scene, but was located by bicyclists on the hunt for the vehicle, with little or no help from the local […]

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