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L.A. Bicyclists Unite To Protest The Hit-And-Run Of One Of Their Own

Roselle Chen |
July 31, 2010 | 11:30 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Bicyclists (Roselle Chen)
Bicyclists (Roselle Chen)
Hundreds of bicyclists whizzed up to the Beverly Hills Courthouse Friday night in conjunction with Critical Mass, held the last Friday of each month, to protest the light sentence of a hit-and-run driver committed against a cyclist.

Celine Mahdavi, 19, struck bicyclist Louis Deliz with her SUV in December and fled the scene. She was arrested shortly after and her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was between .05 and .08 percent, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. Under California’s Zero Tolerance Law, it is illegal to drive under the age of 21 if the person’s BAC is .01 percent or higher.

Deliz spent 11 days in intensive care and a total of 49 days in the hospital. Mahdavi pleaded no contest to the crime and was sentenced last week by Judge Elden Fox to 90 days of community service with no jail time and three years probation.

“Her 90 days of community service amounts to 720 hours, much less than 1176 hours Deliz spent in a hospital bed,” wrote Alex Thompson, organizer of Friday’s protest.

Thompson is president of BikesideLA, a website dedicated to bike activism. He organized the same protest earlier in the week. Pictures and a video of Tuesday’s event depicted the frustrated outlooks that many bicyclists had when it came to their rights.

“We’re here to ask for changes in laws; we’re asking for changes in attitude from the police departments across our country,” said a bike protester smeared in fake blood at Tuesday’s gathering. “We’re asking for empathy from drivers, especially if you hit us, stay and help us, don’t just leave us with huge hospital bills.”

Mahdavi was ordered to pay full restitution for Deliz’s injuries but was not court ordered to surrender her license. The DMV, however, has suspended her license until early next year, when she can reapply.

“The prosecution in the case for Louis did not ask for her license to be suspended which means they didn’t ask to protect all of us,” said Thompson.

Fox issued a stern warning to Mahdavi in last week’s sentencing, telling her to not drive without a license. This remark left many bicyclists outraged and questioning why Fox did not suspend Mahdavi’s license himself.

“If you are hit it is unlikely the police will care. If they do care, it is unlikely it will go to court,” wrote Thompson. “If it does go to court, it is unlikely the judge will care. You are on your own.”

SLIDESHOW: Friday’s Protest

To reach staff reporter Roselle Chen, click here.

Follow her on Twitter: @roselleUSC



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