Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Camille Killer Gets Off

As reported by Eugene Sonn, written by Jen Benepe
The driver that hit and killed Camille Savoy last November has been cleared of careless driving charges. 

The decision by Judge Robert Ritter of the Alpine, NJ municipal court, once again proves that there are two courts of justice in the United States: one for regular people, and one for cyclists.

Wha S. Kim, 72, the driver with an alleged string of careless driving accidents behind her (as reported by an Alpine police officer who did not want to be identified for this article,) was set free once again, this time after striking 
and killing Savoy from behind.

Amazingly, a man whose case was heard immediately before Kim's in the same court who had been caught by police tailgating the car in front of him was found guilty of careless driving. But Kim, Camille-Killer, was not.

Even the offense of careless driving is merely a slap in the hand, and bears no criminal intent or finding, though it affects your driving record. 

Eugene Sonn, reporter for WBGO 88.3 FM Newark, who has written a larger piece on the increase in cyclist deaths in New Jersey, was at the hearing held June 12. 

The Alpine, NJ prosecutor Sam Braverman had three witnesses speak, including the first officer who responded, Officer A. White, Michael Passow, the driver who was following Kim on Rte. 9W, and Sgt. Robert Ryan, a special investigator from the Rivervale Police Dept. who works on the Accident Investigation Squad for the Alpine area.

Sgt. Ryan who is a forensic expert in bicycle-motor vehicle accidents testified that he measured Kim's auto tracks as well as those of Savoy's bike wheels and based on his findings, Kim had traveled an incredible one foot six inches over the fog lane into the lane where Savoy was riding. 

Her action caused her to hit Savoy from behind sending him flying over the top of her SUV,damaging his helmeted head beyond repair, and splintering his bike into two parts. Savoy died two weeks later. 

Passow--the one witness-- said he had been driving behind Kim for about one mile, and that he could not actually see her car at the point of contact with Savoy from his vantage point. 

Kim's only testimony was the first documented words she told reporting officers at the scene, that Savoy swerved in front of her, a claim that was not substantiated by Passow's testimony. At the memorial held for Savoy last year on Dec. 7, Savoy's friends said publicly that Savoy was a very careful rider, and for that reason, did not even go out on his bike when there was even a drop of rain. Savoy had had some 30 years of experience riding his bike, they said.

But Judge Ritter, instead of going with Sgt. Ryan's testimony, said that he was ruling on the basis that Passow's testimony did not contradict Kim's, and he let her off.

Sonn, who has followed the case, said that Kim did not testify at the hearing and that "both the investigator and the prosecutor both very much thought this was a case of careless driving," with dry conditions, not a lot of traffic, and in the course of passing Savoy, did not give him enough room.

There was no physical evidence that the cyclist might have swerved, said Braverman.

As a case in point, the clothing in the picture (left) taken the day of Savoy's accident, Savoy's jersey that was cut off his body by paramedics while they tried to treat him on the scene of the accident, is all quite visibly right--not left--of the white line.

Previously we reported that Kim was supposed to be re-tested for her license. But when we checked with the Bergen County Prosecutor's office they said the new test had been requested by the Alpine Police Dept. We called them, and they said the Bergen County prosecutor's office had requested the re-testing, and neither party knew if it had been done.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Get Psyched for Ramapo Rally this August 16

A great ride is coming  up this August in North Bergen, NJ and BBB has heard nice things about it. 

For one, just about every North Jerseyan does this ride. You can make it any length you want, including the incredible 125 miles (that's for people who want to be able to eat as much as they want later on). But you can also do it with your kids, or in BBB's case, with your precious dog, by riding fewer miles.  Or you can assuage your guilt by sticking your spouse with the kids (okay they got some sunshine and exercise) while you go blow out your guts on the climbs.
Anyway, what better way to wile away a gorgeous August afternoon? Plus you'll get to see so many of your friends and neighbors, and beautiful green hills of New Jersey (I know you New Yorkers think it's all about vile toxic spills, ship container yards, belching dirty factories, and racist cop highways in New Jersey, but that's just SOUTH New Jersey, not North!--just joking.)

And if you sign up by the first of August, you'll get a free insulated cooler--good for all that sports drink--err beer, you're going to drink afterwards.

Writes Ted Semegran:

"This year’s Ramapo Rally, on Sunday Aug 16, 2009, again features a wide variety of rides for everyone “from families to fanatics”,  from a flat to rolling 12-mile ride up to a very challenging 125-mile route. In between there are rides of 25,  50, 62, and 100 miles.

The Rally starts at the Campgaw Mountain Reservation ski area at 200 Campgaw Road, Mahwah, NJ, with easy access to nearby major highways.

The short rides stay in the Bergen County area near Mahwah, NJ. The longer rides head towards Morris County and its many scenic country roads, including the Splitrock Reservoir and Black River Wildlife Area.  (Pic below of Splitrock Reservoir--maybe you can get off your bike and go swimming?)

 The century midpoint is in the charming town of Chester. The 125-mile route includes a challenging climb up Schooleys Mountain but rewards its participants with a great descent. There will also be a series of led rides for all distances departing at set start times, for those who prefer to ride in a group. But the routes are well-marked and detailed cue sheets will of course be supplied. 

For registrations postmarked by Aug 1, riders will receive a free six-pack insulated cooler. 

There will be six well-stocked rest stops featuring home-baked goods, and SAG support backed up by ham radio operators. [Note from editor, hopefully the "ham" operators won't have taken some samples from your beer cooler, and will be able to radio your exact position when you get a flat.]  

Register at www.active.com  or download form and get additional information at

  www.btcnj.com/ramaporally .  Before Aug 1, registration is $25 for BTCNJ members, $30 for non-members, afterwards $30 for BTCNJ members and $35 for non-members; day-of is $35 for all.

We’ll have a light meal back at the start site for returning riders, as well as music and a merchandise tent.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Camp Sunshine, a camp for multiply-handicapped children and young adults, located in Ridgewood NJ."

For those of you who are still skeptical about the greenery in New Jersey, here is a quote from Wikipedia about Schooley's Mountain, which the Ramapo Rally will pass through:

Schooley's Mountain is an unincorporated community in Washington Township, in Morris County, New Jersey, named for the Schooley family who owned a considerable amount of land there in the 1790s, is on Schooley's Mountain, a mountain with an elevation of about 1,000 feet directly north of Long Valley. It rises 600 feet above the surrounding valley, located about 45 miles from New York City. It contains many housing developments and Schooley's Mountain Park, a recreational area with an overlook, a waterfall, and numerous hiking paths, as well as Lake George. In its past, Schooley's Mountain was a resort and an estate. The Lenni Lenape Native Americans called it home.
The Vanderbilts were among the numerous New York City socialites who trekked to the mountain for its restorative waters. The rich chalybeate-infused waters were thought to improve health, detoxify the system, and generally "make it all better". Schooley's Mountain County Park offers active and passive recreation on 797 acres. The park was acquired by the Morris County Parks Commission in 1968 and opened to the public in 1974.

So how could you pass up a place where the Lenni Lenape indian tribe lived, and where later the Vanderbilts trekked and bathed in the rich chalybeate-infused waters! 

Be there or be square!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Woah, Watson's TDF Guide, and Trek Offers Hefty Discount

BBB is reading the new book by Graham Watson, Tour de France Travel Guide.  Watson made himself famous with iconic tour photos featuring not just the pro cyclists in the race, but also the amazing rows of sunflowers along the course which he incorporated in his shots.

You learn in his introduction that as a young lad in the 1970's he followed the Tour on a bicycle, sneaking into camping sites, and sometimes going hungry after a 100 mile day because small French towns shut down after 9 or 10 p.m. 

But most importantly, if you buy this book you will soon learn that you can STILL book a trip to see the Tour de France in 2009, the biggest cycling event in the year, and one that is sure to be a nail biter with Lance Armstrong, seven- time previous winner, coming back with the Astana Team.

So far, it's a great read, (a full review coming).
Watson outlines the tour companies that cover the TDF in the first few pages, and BBB found out that Trek is back doing the TDF as an unofficial tour company. 

No matter the title, they have some fantastic--very demanding--bike tours set up with various levels of luxury and gastronomy offered, plus a meeting with Lance Armstrong.

That's even if he doesn't win!   Full disclosure, BBB is sponsored
 by Trek Bikes, and rides the 2007 women's specific Madone, which is the fastest bike BBB has ever ridden. It took a little while to get used to the WSD fit, but after that, it worked like a charm (and helped me place number one in my category in the first two triathlons I did, and I haven't done any since.) I digress.

So BBB took a look at the Trek site, and lo and behold! Trek has gotten economic fever, and their amazing pro Madone bikes are all on sale, some in a big way!

For example, the men's 5.2 Madone which is really sleek in white with red accents, is $3569, down from $4069 (savings, $500).

Then there's the WSD Madone 6.5  in gorgeous white and red, a bike that made me slobber when I first saw it, original price $6,929, now $4,999. Yikes, that's $1930 in savings.

Finally, check out the men's Madone 6.9 Pro Red, originally $9,129, now $6,299. That's over $2,800 in savings.
This is better than buying a new car! Trek got it, the car companies' products have not gone on sale, and they should. 

Trek is on sale, and they're getting more people on gorgeous machines that they can use well into the future.

Of course, they were pretty damn expensive to begin with, but they're still less expensive than most Colnagos, and I haven't seen a Colnago go on sale lately--have you?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Alfredo Garcia Does the Brooklyn Tour!

Tour de Brooklyn 2009

Words & Photo by Alfredo Garcia


Kudos to Transportation Alternatives, the City of New York and the Tour de Brooklyn marshals, including Josh Gosiak.


The Coney Island start was great, although it took a bit to get used to (yeah, I live in Manhattan and had to take the subway).  

Among the things I saw at the Brooklyn Cyclones parking area was the statue of fabled Brooklyn Dodger greats Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese; Keyspan stadium; the cycling marshals, who were clad in orange safety vests; and remnants of the Parachute Jump ride seen on the Riegelmann Boardwalk.  

It was a warm day, so the Atlantic Ocean breezes coming from Coney Island were refreshing.


Lots of people were there, probably more than the expected 1,500 riders. Public announcements and speeches made by TA officials like Noah Budnick, who spoke from microphones powered by people riding stationary bikes that doubled as generators! The start line of cyclists snaked from the entrance of the stadium to across the parking lot.


The NYPD was therebesides the patrol cars and bike cops, and mounted motor scooters. The same cop corps that probably ravished cyclists on Critical Mass rides.


The route was nice, especially the roads lined with trees and brownstones and old homes that shaded us from the sun.


I didnt care much for the Prospect Park stop. Had a hidden anxiety of encountering Poison Ivy. I saw a bike with a damaged and detached Honjo fender. 

Suggestion for next year: go all the way to the East River, and use Brooklyn Bridge Park for water and rest stops.


The ride continued. It was great going through Borough Park. Lots of residents were standing in front of their homes, fire escapes and stoops, smiling and applauding.  More than several were families with young children.


However, there were a few Borough Park residents who were angry and riled up, especially those driving cars. One driver nearly hit a friend of mine.  A few cool heads of the marshals and NYPD motorized patrol settled matters.


The finish was as great as the startback to Coney Island. The parking lot was just right to accommodate us, unlike previous Prospect Park finishes. There were cheering young women welcoming us. There were T-shirts, but I got there too late to get one.


For once, after the Five Boro Bike Tour and the Montauk Century, it didnt RAIN. It was sunny throughout.


Lots of us had lunch at where elseNathans. My group munched on their renowned hot dogs and fries at Coney Island beach. Oh, to be young again!


Thanks again, TA. For next years edition, I would suggest: start again from Coney Island, get a rest stop and halfway point at Brooklyn Bridge Park, get the NYC DOT and NYPD to close the BQE and the Bay Shore Parkway so we can ride closer to the waterfront and end it again at Coney Island.


We should do outreach with Borough Park residents, perhaps let them know in advance about the bike event and maybe get them on bikes instead of going for a drive.


For my part, Ill ride faster so I can buy that $10 Tour de Brooklyn t-shirt, which quickly sold out.