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Highland Park Cyclist Urges Caution After Being Run Down on Ave. 50

Cyclist said she has filed report with LAPD's Northeast Division last week, but has yet to hear back.

Highland Park resident Winona Wacker said she was riding her bicycle along Ave. 50 last Friday when she had a dangerous encounter with a motorist in a white convertible.

Wacker, said she was run down and knocked off her bicycle by the driver of a white convertible Volvo C70, and she told Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch that she believes the motorist struck her on purpose.

According to Wacker, she was riding her bicycle near the intersection of Ave. 50 and Buchanan St. when the driver began honking and yelling at her to get out of the road.

Wacker said she responded to the motorist, who she described as a white male who looked to be in his fifties, by telling him that she was allowed to use the whole lane for her safety.

That response only angered the driver more, Wacker said.

“He laid on his horn, then yelled back at me  ‘you wanna test your weight against mine?’” Wacker said.  “ [He] continued blowing his horn, hit the gas and then sped up to run me down.”

Wacker said a Good Samaritan stopped to attend to her by the side of the road, and then sped along to retrieve the motorist's license plate number.

Stephen Box, a local cycling advocate and former candidate for city council district 4, contacted the Los Angeles Police Department last week on Wacker’s behalf.

In an e-mail to Sgt. David Krumer, Box urged LAPD to take action on the issue.

“I write to ask you to reach out to Winona and to follow up on this motorist. She waited a couple of hours, filed a police report and was left with hospital visits, road rash, bruises and mobility issues,” he wrote.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch spoke to one member LAPD’s Northeast Division who was not aware of the incident and who suggested that it was likely being handled by central traffic division.

A representative for LAPD’s central traffic division said that, according to the incident's file number, it was considered a “general assault,” and therefore fell under the jurisdiction of Northeast’s detectives.

Wacker said she has yet to hear back from LAPD after filing her police report, but understood that the department was likely busy handling other calls.

In the meantime, however, she urged cyclists to beware of the motorist in the white convertible.

“I’m not sure if [the police report] will lead to anything, but I would like to get the word out to cyclists in the area to beware of this vehicle, and to take extra precautions when riding on one lane roads without a bike lane,” she said.

Barney June 03, 2011 at 10:35 PM
yup attempted vehicular homicide. why isn't the license plate in this incident being published? Didn't someone get it? If so post it.
Sara June 04, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Well, even though I know I'm contributing to a topic thread that will never be satisfactorily resolved due to hardened attitudes on both sides (see above both RDP and PC's comments), I'll take the bait and answer this. If a little old lady were driving her car down Ave 50 at 15-20 mph, yes, I most definitely would expect her to pull over! Just like when driving on a 2-lane winding mountain road, slow vehicles are supposed to pull over to let faster traffic pass. Would the appropriate response if the little old lady didn't pull over be to ram her vehicle with yours? Of course not. That is posing a ridiculous choice, and a false one. The response to being stuck behind a slow vehicle, either a bike or a car, is never violence. It's not even flipping the bird. However, having said that, again - we SHARE the road. Both sides can be a little more accommodating. Cyclists can look for a safe place to pull to the right a little, maybe a corner where there aren't all of these threatening car doors, and drivers can have a little more patience. Geez.
Joe June 08, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Sara, Slow vehicles are required to turnout to let faster traffic pass, ONLY when they are obstructing traffic. In California, that is defined as having five or more vehicles following. But that's not what was going on here, where there was ONE car who wanted to pass. Please, try an experiment. Approach a typical intersection in a substandard width lane at 20mph. After you pass the last parked car (outside the door zone), drift to your right. As soon as it would be safe for a car to pass you, start counting the seconds. As you approach the first parked car on the next block and start to drift back to the left (in a predictable manner; no swerving!), stop counting. Depending on the intersection, you will have counted about 3-6 seconds. 3-6 seconds is not enough time for a car to safely pass you. So what you are suggesting is that courtesy requires that cyclists pull over and slow down or stop (to give the car time to pass), whenever they get to an intersection and a car wants to pass. Nobody is suggesting that cyclists shouldn't move to the right whenever it is practicable to do so. That's not just courtesy; that's the law. But you seem to think that there is a lot of wiggle room between what is legal and what is reasonable and courteous, and the truth is that there just plain isn't. I suspect that you are compromising your safety in the name of courtesy, and for your sake I hope you'll stop doing that, and for others' sake I hope you'll stop advocating it.
Susan R August 07, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Alberto was absolutely correct. And, a lawyer is not needed if you get the guy's license plate number and police report. You can take the guy to small claims court yourself along with your medical bills and the value of the damage to the bicycle. And, if the bicycle is a total you can show how much it costs new to replace it.
kenneth scalir May 23, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Winona Wacker is a great person.She deserves only the best in life!

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