Archive for February 27, 2010

Hot dry links for a cold wet day

Forecast says it’s going to be too wet to ride Saturday. So grab your beverage of choice and limber up your link-clicking finger.


The hit-and-run epidemic continues, this time claiming the life of a 13-year old pedestrian in Brentwood. Deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.

How many hit-and-runs before we say enough?

Update: Despite day-long reports that the driver had fled the scene and a police search for the missing Mercedes that killed the girl, followed by reports that two vehicles had been involved and only one had stopped and waited until the victim was taken away and then left without giving a statement to police, the LAPD now says it was all a big mistake.

According to the latest version of events, both drivers stopped at the scene and waited until the victim was taken away by ambulance, then apparently left without taking to police.

Odd that no one at the scene seemed to be aware of the presence of a vehicle that had just killed someone; you’d think someone might have noticed that. And also odd that, despite saying the victim was “grazed” by the mirror of the first car, which knocked her off balance and into the path of the second vehicle, resulting in her death, the LAPD does not consider that striking someone.

Evidently, a car must smack full on into someone before it’s even considered a collision.

No wonder we don’t feel safe out there.


In a case reminiscent of the Mandeville Canyon case, an Oregon man is charged with intentionally driving into a cyclist last January. And in a state that has a three-foot passing law but fails to enforce it, a 57-year old Arizona cyclist struggles for her life after being struck by a passing garbage truck, despite riding on the “far right side of the road.”


If the weather holds off — or you’re willing to risk it anyway — there may still be time to make Chinatown’s Firecracker 10k run/walk and bike ride, with rides of 20 and 42 miles, a bike valet courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and door prizes from the LACBC, Jones Biycles II and Flying Pigeon.

And a party that goes on all weekend.


Will Campbell goes to City Hall; when it’s raining Saturday, he may content himself with photos of the people he passed on the beachfront bikeway yesterday. The Salt Lake Tribune surprisingly endorses Utah’s proposed Idaho Stop law. The mayor of Columbus, Ohio, wants to turn the town into Bike City, USA, while Forth Worth’s mayor says car-centric planning was a mistake. Being for bikes and transit isn’t the same as being anti-car. Illinois considers three pro-bike measures, including an anti-harassment bill and an education campaign. 500 people turn out for a hearing on Austin’s first bike boulevard; despite loud opposition, over 300 were there to support it. Miami expands its bike safety PSA campaign — something desperately needed here in L.A. Longing for the recent past, when cycle teams had simple names and were sponsored by brothels. Bike sharing comes to Mumbai. A few simple pointers for your next long distance tour; like through Eurasia, for instance. A former railway is converted to a bike trail in Portsmouth, UK. The fiancé of a British soldier serving in Afghanistan will ride across the battlefields of Europe to honor the troops and raise money for charity. If you’re not doing anything on Monday, there a great sounding family ride that kicks off at 8 am — in Fiji. A group of Formula 1 engineers build what may be the world’s most expensive bike; $33,600 stripped, $40,000 fully loaded.

Finally, a great quote from the Director of Cycling South Africa, who won’t let his own children ride on the country’s roads:

It’s important to remember that cyclists are just as entitled to their space on the road as motorists, or donkey carts for that matter…. But this is telling: motorists bitch about cyclists riding abreast yet the cyclists who are killed are usually riding alone.

A few choice comments, a hit-and-run update and a whole lotta links

But first, breaking news as I post this:

Condolences to our friends at the LAPD, who lost one of their own in an off-duty traffic accident tonight. My deepest sympathies to the officer’s family and loved ones, and the entire department.

Seriously guys, we may have our issues from time to time. But this city and its cyclists couldn’t exist without the men and women in blue.

You do an impossible job, and you do it well.


Some interesting comments posted online today.

First up is our own frequent commenter Danceralamode, responding to another comment on the Times story about Chief Beck’s appearance at yesterday’s Transportation Committee meeting:

With rights come responsibilities. Before the LAPD starts worrying about bicyclists’ rights I’d like to see some enforcement of the many traffic laws that MOST bicyclists break every time they take to the streets.

Posted by: James Sullivan | February 25, 2010 at 07:49 AM

Her response:

James Sullivan,

If that philosophy were used to determine the rights of every road user, there would be NOT ONE car on the road. Motorists make traffic violations more often than cyclists do and with more serious results, since a bike weighs 20lbs and a car weighs 4000lbs. If a drunk driver slammed into you then fled the scene while you were in your car, but you had rolled through a stop sign a few miles back, would you want the LAPD to say, well, since we have you rolling a right turn a few miles back, we’re not going to look for the person who almost killed you.

Also, you cannot group all cyclists together in this “they all break the law” discrimination. You have never seen me commute to work. How can you know if I violate any traffic codes? That’s the equivalent of me saying that all motorists are drunk drivers and should have their licenses revoked, just because a few people drive drunk.

Get a clue, Sullivan. You have to share the road; it’s the law. And you have to do it regardless of whether or not you like how the people around you use the road. Seeing a cyclist roll through a stop sign is no justification for passing them so quickly that you hit them and seriously injure them or for trying to run them down or for throwing objects out your window at them. And the LAPD do hand out citations to cyclists who break the law, but they have to see it to do so.

Before LAPD starts investigating any car on car DUIs or accidents, I want to see them fully enforce the cell phone ban. So no justice for you either, Sullivan, how do you like that?

Posted by: danceralamode | February 25, 2010 at 08:43 AM

That girl really should have her own blog. Oh wait, she already does.

Then there was this insightful comment from a cyclist named Jeff:

Anonymously posting information that generalizes bike riders with a broad swath is exactly why it takes the Chief of Police to address the issue personally. Everyone knows at least one incident of bicycle riders ignoring the “rules of the road”, but to paint all riders with the brush shows ignorance. Claiming that bicycle riders need insurance and registration before they use the roads shows the same ignorance. Take your bike to work just once and see what commuting riders put up with daily. The problem is not in the occasional roll-through, the problem is that automobile drivers have the mistaken belief that bicycles are not vehicles.

They are, and they are afforded the same rights as any other vehicle on the road. It’s about time.

Posted by: Jeff | February 25, 2010 at 08:55 AM

Finally, there was this comment from an Australian visitor, in response to Damien’s story about the same meeting on Streetsblog:

As an Australian visiing the United States and California who chose to use my bicycle as my prefered mode of transport for my short stay rather than use a car. I have several times questioned my decision after numerous near misses. Incidents that were totally avoidable. And I don’t mean by me not riding on the road. It is every cyclists right to ride on the road. What I mean is motorists blatant actions to threaten and attack me on the road with their car. Cement truck drivers, moms in unnecessarily large black pick ups, Metro Rapid bus drivers etc…. motorists who have chosen to be agressive toward me as a cyclist on the road.

Take just the case of the woman in the pick up. She drove past me, so she must have seen me on the shoulder of the road as she pulled around me to apparently over take me, only to make an immediate right hand turn at the lights as she is still paralell with me on the road. This was clearly more than accidental. This was aggressive driving intended to be an attack on me as a cyclist. At the speed I was riding at, she could have simply backed off the gas for just a matter of seconds, I would have continued straight ahead though the intersection ahead of her, and she could have turned right just behind me. Perfectly safe, and would have had no impact on the time of her journey.

As a visitor to Los Angeles and this country, I’ll be returning home and advising all that i know, to never consider using cycling as a viable mode of transport in LA. Sad indeed, considering that we are the ones who are doing the right thing by everyone else in this town and on the planet by reducing our carbon footprint. Sad indeed.

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with the riding conditions in L.A. on a daily basis. It’s a shame that this is the image visitors to our city will take home with them.


A break in the investigation of last week’s Riverside hit-and-run death of Thomas Joseph Meeks, and the critical injury of his 15-year old stepbrother, reveals a possible motive for the driver’s failure to stop.

Motorcycle officers scouring the area found a white 1991 Camry that fit witness descriptions, with signs of recent repair work in the areas that would have been damaged in the hit-and-run collision. According to police, the same car may have been involved in a burglary in the parking lot of a Stater Bros. market just minutes before the impact.

Meek’s stepbrother remains in critical condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center; condolences and best wishes to him and his family.


Thanks to the LACBC’s Dr. Michael Cahn for pointing us towards what maybe be the most sardonic cycling jerseys on the streets. Share the Damn Road, indeed.


Make you plans for an urban cyclocross through the streets and stairways of Silverlake and Echo Park next month. The LAPD releases the full report on bike-involved collisions in 2008. Streetsblog discovers encouraging signs in Long Beach. The Long Beach Press-Telegram’s 77-year old Outdoor Columnist — and cyclist — urges drivers to share the road. USC’s Neon Tommy blog writes about the cycling community’s new relationship with Chief Beck. The Source covers the opening of the new bike stations in Claremont and Covina. Thanks to Curbed LA — one of my daily reads — Luckman Plaza now has bike parking. C.I.C.L.E.’s Joe Linton examines the new county bike plan, with a list of upcoming input meetings. Safety improvements on a busy San Francisco bike lane put the squeeze on cyclists. Rumors of its death evidently premature, the Idaho Stop law passes the Utah House. Evidently, the two drunk drivers who hit a Portland cyclist last year weren’t the ones who killed him. The 2012 Giro d’Italia kicks off in the sleepy little Italian village of… Washington DC? Car-Free Sundays, aka Via RecreActiva, aka Cyclovia, comes to Guadalajara. Swiss cycling deaths double in 2009. Complaining about cycle-pathic riders in Galway, Ireland, while contra-flow lanes may be coming to Dublin. The appropriately named 90-year old wife of a Bank of Scotland executive is allowed to keep driving, despite smashing into a high-vis clad cyclist. A Worcester UK cyclist and two pedestrians are shot with air rifles. How do you identify hit-and-run cyclists in Singapore?

Finally, in case you’ve fallen behind on your urology journals, the latest research clearly shows a connection between cycling and erectile disfunction in men, and related sexual disfunction in women.

But not (ahem) every cyclist.

LAPD Chief Beck: Things have changed — we will do better

For the second time since Bill Rosendahl took over as chair, the City Council’s Transportation Committee offered cyclists a highly anticipated bike-oriented session.

And once again, actually he delivered.

Left to right: Paul Koretz, Asst. Chief Paysinger, Chief Beck, Bill Rosendahl, Bernard Parks and Tom LaBonge; later joined by Richard Alarcón.

A number of cyclists, many of whom took the day off to participate, rode to the meeting on the route city employee Ed Magos was taking recently when he was run down by a driver who got out of her car, saw him writhing in pain and begging for help, then left him laying in the street as she fled the scene.

Inexplicably, she was not arrested or charged with hit-and-run after she later turned herself in at a police station; the ride was intended as a protest to call attention to the injustice cyclists have too often received when we’ve turned to the LAPD for help.

New police Chief Charlie Beck assured the riders that those days are over, saying “your voices have been heard.”

He continued by saying cyclists are the city’s most vulnerable commuters, and need the department’s support and protection. “We know we need to do a better job for you,” he said. “We will do a better job for you.”

He said that he’s asked the City Attorney to take another look at the Magos case to see if any charges can be filed. Yet as Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger noted in answering a question from local cycling leader Roadblock about his own hit-and-run case, how a case gets handled is determined by whether prosecutors believe they can “prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Though how there could be any doubt when witnesses not only saw the collision, but observed the driver leave the scene, is beyond me.

The Chief said it was the department’s job to protect those who need protecting, and the LAPD intends to do just that. As proof, he turned to the man sitting next to him, telling the assembled riders and committee members that he’s named Paysinger, second only to the chief in the department hierarchy, as the LAPD’s direct liaison to the cycling community.

Beck promised better officer training regarding bicycling, as well as shifting responsibility for traffic accidents — including bike collisions — from patrol officers to the specialized Traffic Investigation Unit. And assured riders that bike thefts will receive increased scrutiny from the department, noting that it’s one of the few crimes that has increased in recent years, “and we take that seriously.”

He also asked for patience, noting that it will take time for these changes to filter down to the rank-and-file officers on the street level. And assured cyclists that he will stay involved in the process.

“Don’t just listen to what I say,” he said, “but watch what I do.”

That lead to comments from a long line of cyclists, many of whom addressed the problem of drivers who flee, and getting the police to take these crimes seriously.

Roadblock addresses the Transportation Committee.

“It’s difficult to get a license number and see the face of the driver,” said Danny Jimenez, “especially if you get hit from behind.”

Like a number of others, Will Campbell noted that he took the day off because he was outraged over the Magos case, while Stephen Box gave the chief a copy of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. The LACBC’s Aurisha Smolarski offered hard-hitting comments about the need to reform department policies, with Rosendahl allowing her to go well over the allotted one-minute time limit. Amanda Lipsey said that as a professional ballet dancer, she couldn’t afford to suffer an injury due to a careless driver who wouldn’t stick around to take responsibility.

L.A. cyclists also received surprising support from an entirely unexpected quarter, as Hamid Khan, spokesman for the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance, voiced approval for the new bike plan and the need to protect cyclists.

When the Mayor and the head of LADOT, the police chief and cab drivers all support for cyclists, you know something has changed.

Meanwhile, I commented about the need to improve training for police accident investigators to give them a better understanding of bike accidents — something that’s been a problem for police departments around the country. And handed Beck a copy of two articles from the International Police Mountain Bike Association that explained how to investigate cycling accidents, which he promised to read.

Due to the late start of the meeting, Chief Beck had to leave during the comments, and turned the session over to Asst. Chief Paysinger, who quickly voiced his support for cyclists.

“Before my knees went bad, I was a rather avid cyclist myself,” he said.

He added that when he was a division chief — with Chief Beck serving beneath him — there were less than 100 bike officers on the force; now over 500 officers have received bike training. “Young cops love it,” he explained, since it gets them out of their cars, gives them a chance interact with people, and lets them exercise while working.

In other words, pretty much the same reasons the rest of us do.

CD5 Council Member Paul Koretz related a story of watching a hit-and-run incident in which a driver parked illegally in order to use an ATM. When a parking enforcement officer stopped to write a ticket, the driver jumped back in his car and took off, running over both of the parking officer’s legs in the process — but leaving his ATM card behind. Sure enough, the driver eventually came back for his card.

And wasn’t charged with hit-and-run since he returned to the scene.

He added that he doesn’t think bike and pedestrian incidents are taken seriously enough by the LAPD. To which Paysinger responded, “I can’t speak to the past. But we’re here today to show that things have changed.” Better investigations, he suggested, would lead to better prosecutions.

District 7 Councilmember Richard Alarcón told how he had been the first to arrive after a cycling accident, finding a rider laying unconscious in the road. After the cyclist had been taken away by ambulance, he asked the police officers what they were going to do with the bike, adding that they seemed confused, but took the bike — most likely because a councilman had asked them to.

Paysinger said the policy was to find someone on the scene who could take custody of the bike, or call a friend or relative of the victim to come get it. Failing that, the officers would impound the bike and release it later to the victim or someone the victim designates; the police should never leave the bike behind, he said.

There was one testy exchange when a rider complained about a recent incident when an officer stopped him for riding too slowly, telling him “If you want to ride like that, go to Culver City.” He said he had filed a complaint, but received a response denying that the incident had taken place. Paysinger said to give him a copy of the letter, and he would look into it personally.

As the meeting was winding down, Chief Paysinger responded to a comment from Roadblock by suggesting that state law may need to be changed to increase penalties for hit-and-run.

With that, I got up and asked that the council request the City Attorney to work with cyclists in drafting a bill that could be taken to the state legislature. And added that penalties should include automatic revocation of the drivers license for anyone who flees the scene of a collision, and seizure of the vehicle involved upon conviction.

After all, drivers can currently have their cars seized if they’re used for drug crimes, drunk driving or cruising for prostitutes. So why shouldn’t it be taken if the car is actually used in the commission of a crime, as in a hit-and-run?

Rosendahl responded by offering a resolution asking the City Attorney to look into drafting a bill, which Koretz quickly seconded.

So it’s a start.

A first step in drafting a new, tougher hit-and-run law.

And a new, and hopefully better, day in dealing with the LAPD.

My apologies to those who spoke at the meeting; I was drawn into other conversations during the comment period, and wasn’t able to write down everyone’s comments. However, you can read more about the ride and meeting, as well as comments from a number of riders, in stories from the L.A. Times, LA Streetsblog and the LACBC.


On a related note, proof that it’s not just the Chief and Asst. Chief who support cycling on the LAPD.

The general public is invited to take part in the upcoming March 13 Ride to Arrest Cancer, benefitting the Los Angeles Police Cancer Support Group. The ride offers routes of 15, 25 and 50 miles, starting at the Valley Traffic Division at the Plant in Panorama City, and visiting various police stations throughout the Valley. Preregistration cost is just $25 for adults ($30 day of the ride) and $15 for kids under 12, and includes BBQ, a T-Shirt and official police escort.

The LAPCSG exists to benefit “members of the law enforcement community who are living with cancer, cancer survivors, family members, friends, or caregivers.” As someone who has lost friends and family to the disease, I can’t think of a better cause.


I’ll have today’s links later in the day — it’s a nice day, and I’ve gotta ride.

Yesterday, I offered my heart to a stranger

Please don’t bury me in that cold cold ground; I’d rather have them cut me up and pass me all around. — John Prine, Please Don’t Bury Me

The other day I found myself at my bank, transferring a couple of accounts I never bothered to move from my old bank in San Diego, despite over 20 years of living in L.A.

Much to my surprise, when I handed them my drivers license to prove I really am who I say I am — yeah, like a lot of people want to pass themselves off as moderately broke, semi-self-unemployed bike writers these days — they handed it back.

“Do you have a valid ID instead?” the banker asked. And sure enough, when I looked at my license, it had expired.

Five months ago.

For some reason, I never received the automatic renewal form a clean driving record should have merited. And since I’m long past the age when bartenders ask for ID, and I seldom write checks, I’d never noticed the deadline had passed.

So yesterday I took the bus down to the DMV, and after a $31 check and a two-hour wait, I had my new temporary license in hand.

And I was, for the first time, a registered organ donor.

I don’t know why I never did it before. Partly squeamishness, partly a desire to meet my maker in as close to original condition as possible, I suppose.

But I’d been thinking about it ever since GT pointed me to the story of a local cyclist killed without warning in a freak accident.

Jeff Bayly’s death was such a heart-rending tragedy that it reminded me that anything can happen, anytime. And if it should ever happen to me, I want some good to come out of it.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that cycling is inherently dangerous. I probably face more risk slipping in the shower than I do even on the worst streets of L.A. And I’d certainly face a far greater health risk if I spent my time on the couch instead of in the saddle.

But things happen.

So while I plan to live a good, long life and annoy my loving wife for as long as possible, I want to make sure someone, somewhere, benefits in case I don’t.

Because even at the advanced age of 53, I still have a few good parts left.


Notice for anyone planning to attend today’s TranspoComm meeting with special guest star LAPD Chief Beck — the session has been moved from its usual site in Room 1010 to the City Council Chambers on the third floor.


Arnold joins the husband of the current Secretary of State for a Health, Nutrition and Obesity summit right here in Los Angeles; I wonder how many local cycling groups/advocates were invited to participate?


Hey, HuffPo backs CicLAvia, just like me (more on that next week). Does a split between founding members threaten the new South Bay Bicycle Coalition? Cyclists confront bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills, and see a possible shift in attitude. Long Beach’s cycling expats explore Marfa, Texas. Cycling lawyer Bob Mionske cuts through the posturing to put Portland’s new 2030 in context — including Long Beach and yes, Los Angeles. Alta Design’s attempt to build a more bike-friendly Southern California spreads to San Diego. A San Diego area bike path poses a hazard to cyclists; so what else is new? Beautiful views of the Chicago skyline captured in the puddles left by melting snow. DC area governments respond to budget cuts by slashing bike plan funding. Despite numerous calls to ban them, one city explicitly allows fixed-gear bikes. Not surprisingly, NYC’s new law mandating bike access results in high bike parking charges. A cycling J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame compared auto infrastructure in Oxford to the destructions of Saruman and the Dark Lord. The BBC offers a biased bashing of Brit cyclists. Two-time Formula 1 champ Fernando Alonzo considers forming a cycling team with buddy and two-time Tour de France champ Alberto Contador. Twenty-one months in jail for the driver who killed an army major taking part in a Cambridgeshire time trial last year. UK Grocery giant Tesco offers bike skills classes and considers adding bike departments to its stores — think bikes next to buns at your local Vons.

Finally, you don’t have to speak Hungarian to understand this great bike-to-work ad campaign. And if the last one doesn’t make you want to hop on a bike — if not your significant other — nothing will.

Last night’s missing bike links

Didn’t have time to add links to last night’s rant; somehow, sleep seemed a little more important as the night wore on. But I’ve got lots of great stories for you, including bike chases, drunken homicidal pickup drivers and a dope smuggling cyclist. So limber up your link clicking finger, and start reading.


Doored cyclist and KCRW host Warren Olney returned to the airways after a two-week absence. In case you missed it, listen to the podcast of yesterday’s technically plagued bike-centric Patt Morrison show on KPCC; Mihai offers the comments he couldn’t make during the live broadcast. WestsideBikeside transforms into the city’s first bike-oriented 501c4. Flying Pigeon officially endorses CycLAvia. Anonymous Cyclist offers a suggestion for NY’s legally limited Critical Mass. A proposal to ban texting and hand-held cell phones while cycling.

In a truly horrifying tale, a Montana cyclist barely outruns a group of drunks trying to intentionally run him down with their pickup. A bicyclist gets busted at the border with a novel method of smuggling dope. Only a handful of TIGER grants went to cycling projects. Organized opposition arises to Austin’s planned bike boulevard. Cycling collisions increase in Las Vegas, as authorities search for a hot-and-run driver.

A new movement to make cyclo-cross an Olympic event. A South African cyclist loses his leg to a hit-and-run driver. British Cyling unveils its inaugural Hall of Fame class, including Tom Simpson, the cyclist who died of exhaustion climbing Mt. Ventoux in the ’67 Tour de France. The UK pledges to put bikes at the heart of public transit and health policies. After far too many left-hook — the equivalent of our right-hook — deaths, London revives its police heavy-truck safety unit. A Brit writer responds to a writer’s comments that bikes have become a favorite tool of muggers by suggesting we ban pants and shoes, since muggers use those, too — and notes that cars have long been a favored tool of bank robbers, serial killers and rapists.

Finally, no, they weren’t filming a scene from the latest action movie; two bike messengers really did chase down a bike thief in a wild high-speed two-wheeled pursuit through the crowded streets of Downtown.


One last note that has nothing to do with biking. Hats off to the alert Metro operator who helped rescue a kidnapped 6-year old girl over the weekend. If anyone from Metro is reading this today, nice work — and give that driver a full-time job already.

Run down a cyclist, walk away with the LAPD’s blessing

At 2 pm Wednesday, the City Council Transportation Committee meets at City Hall for the long-awaited meeting with LAPD Chief Beck — and hopefully, the long promised report about conflicts between cyclists and motorists.

Chief Beck’s appearance just happens to coincide with the news that it is, in fact, possible to run down a city employee who’s riding his bike to work and leave him bleeding in the street begging for help — then walk away without charges after turning yourself into police later.

Yes, that does make everything okay, doesn’t it.

And I’m sure the woman who ran down Ed Magos said she was really, really sorry. Or maybe she was so frightened by all the blood that she had to go see her therapist, or her agent, or possibly hurry off to get a double tall decaf macchiato, before she turned herself in.

Heck, there could be a thousand excuses reasons why she was totally justified in driving off without rendering the aid or assistance the law requires.

As long as she doesn’t have a conscience, that is. Or any sort of human decency.

Then there’s a police department that clearly hasn’t gotten the memo that the city is trying to repair its badly damaged and long neglected relationship with cyclists. And that we are, in fact, human beings — and residents, voters, taxpayers etc. — who have a right to ride without fear of being run down by SUVs. Or that the police department that is supposed to protect us will let the driver off without even a slap on the wrist.

If I sound pissed off, I apologize.

It’s only because I am.

Which is just one reason I intend to be in that committee room on Wednesday.

And clearly, I’m not the only one.

The LACBC continues its march towards real relevance by sponsoring a protest ride to City Hall to demand “equal treatment for cyclist victims of hit-and-run collisions.”

The “Ed Magos Ride” will be held on February 24th to highlight the need for fair and equal treatment for cyclists who are victims of hit and runs. It will end at the LA City Transportation Committee Meeting at City Hall where LAPD Chief Charlie Beck will be in attendance and cycling safety issues will be discussed…

Cyclists will meet at 12:30 p.m. at the corner of Melrose and Heliotrope in Hollywood and follow Ed Magos’ regular bicycle commute to City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. At the end of the ride, participants will join LACBC at the LA City Council Transportation Committee Meeting at City Hall in room 1010. Cyclists and supporters will address police Chief Charlie Beck and Councilmembers to let them know that as citizens of Los Angeles, they will no longer tolerate being marginalized; victims of inadequate police investigations never to see their cases prosecuted, and must be given equal treatment as anyone else under the law.

The reason for the ride is best summed up by Ed Magos himself.

“In what appears to be a clear case of hit-and-run, it has been discouraging to see that inflicting pain and injury in this manner can go without consequence or justice. I have come to find out that I needed to die or be paralyzed in order for this to be an event of note,” states Ed Magos in response to the City’s decision not to prosecute.

Then again, maybe Jen Klausner, Executive Director of the LACBC, said it best.

“As cyclists, we are united in a common cause of justice and equal treatment on the streets of LA.  We are no longer going to be pushed to the side.”

That’s exactly the sort of leadership local cyclists have been begging for from the city’s largest bicycling organization — something that has slowly become more evident over the past year or so as the LACBC has stepped up its involvement in the issues we face on this city’s streets.

It’s enough to make me seriously consider joining, myself.

In fact, I just did.


In other, happier, news, two new Bike Stations are set to open on Wednesday in Claremont and Covina along the San Bernardino Metrolink line, with just about everything a cyclist’s heart could desire — including secure bike parking, restrooms, accessory sales, bike repairs and rental services.

Grand Opening events begin at 8 am with a light breakfast at the Bikestation Claremont, and include a group ride from there to the 11 am opening of the Bikestation Covina. And there’s music and a free taco plate for cyclists. too. Download an invitation with more details here.

How would you do Europe on two wheels?

I heard from a good friend of mine from Chicago the other day, who was looking for a little advice.

It seems he’s getting ready to enter law school, while a friend of his will be getting married in the fall. So they’re thinking about one last great adventure while they’re still in their 20s, before they buckle down to serious business of life.

And what they settled on was biking through Europe.

Smart guy. And not just because he already has an advanced degree under his belt.

Needless to say, I told him to go. And only begged and pleaded a little to go with him before reality and responsibility — along with an empty bank account — reared their ugly heads.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be much help. While I’ve got a few European stamps in my passport, I didn’t make it much further than London and Paris — and most of that on foot and rail, since I was accompanied by my non-biking wife.

So most of my answers to his questions were nothing more than semi-informed guesses. Like suggesting that he buy a bike once he lands, rather than shipping one over. And making sure at least part of his trip included Copenhagen — a city so devoted to biking it even seems to have influenced our own city’s mayor.

On the other hand, I know I have some readers who’ve spent time on the Continent — and on two wheels, no less — and may be able to offer more, and better, advice on the subject than I ever could.

So if you don’t mind, take a look at the questions he sent me in a follow-up email.

As we talked about before, my friend and I are trying to find out the logistics for planning a biking tour in Europe. Some of our main questions are:

1. Which bike to buy in a $800-1200 price range

2. Is it better to buy your bike in the states or upon arrival in Europe?

3. If you buy your bike in the U.S., what’s the best way to get it to and back from Europe?

We’d also be interested in any other advice people have to offer, like suggested routes and previous tips that have worked well for others. We have about 2 months to spend and it would be in April-May, possibly early June.

So what do you think?

What advice would you give a couple not-so-serious cyclists planning their first two-wheeled Euro tour?


Thanks to Fred Camino of The Source — your online resource for all things Metro — who listed Biking In LA as one of the city’s 10 essential transportation blogs, along with Streetsblog, the LACBC, and SoapBox LA, home to leading bike and neighborhood activist Stephan Box, just to name a few.


KPCC continues to take the lead on cycling issues, as Patt Morrison talks about cyclists’ rights and peaceful roadway coexistence with LADOT Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery; Claire Bowin of the L.A. Department of Planning; Alex Tompson of the Bike Working Group; 1st District Councilmember Ed Reyes; Doug Falling, Executive Director of Highway Programs & Interim Chief Planning Officer at L.A. Metro; and Aurisha Smolarski, Campaign and Communications Director for LACBC.


Turns out the FedEx driver who killed an Oklahoma cyclist — and now faces a whopping $100 – $1000 fine — was high at the time of the collision; so was the driver who killed a New Jersey cyclist forced to ride in the lane by plowed snow (thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up). Nevada drivers need to get used to cyclists, despite the comments of a few idiots. Alabama cyclists wrap themselves in bandages to make a point about safety. Idaho considers three-foot passing and anti-harassment measures. According to a Virginia state legislator, a bicycle is not a transportation device. Riding your bike for Lent doesn’t mean you have to give up anything. Remembering America’s first great cyclist — and the man who broke the color barrier a half century before Jackie Robinson. According to a report from the Insurance Institute for High Safety, cycling is getting safer. British schoolchildren receive Bikeability training. Sheffield, UK commuters can get free training and a loaner bike if they agree to ride to work at least 50% of the time. Crayfish get better protection than new Zealand cyclists; although Christchurch cyclists and pedestrians may soon get preference. 40% of Queensland residents ride regularly. South African drivers are urged to be more tolerant of cyclists, and cyclists to obey the law. New anti-bike theft registration program in Taiwan.

Finally, welcome back to the cycling cyber world to Texas bike blogger Opus the Poet, whose site is a must read for anyone concerned about making the world safer for cyclists. And he builds a mean custom bike, too.

Fatal hit-and-run in San Bernardino

A 19-year old cyclist was killed last night, and his brother critically injured, in a hit-and-run collision on 40th Street near Acre Lane in San Bernardino.

According to the Times, Joseph Meeks was sharing a bike with his younger brother when they cut across the roadway and were struck by a white 2000 or older Pontiac or Chrysler car, which should have front-end damage in the license plate area and possibly the windshield. Witnesses say the driver made no attempt to stop; KABC Channel 7 reports that Meeks’ friends watched as he died in the street.

Anyone with information about this crime — and yes, a hit-and-run resulting in death or serious injury is a felony — should call the San Bernardino Police Department Traffic Division at 909/385-5735.

How many more people have to die before we do something about the hit-an-run epidemic in California?

Update: The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that the younger victim was Meeks’ 15-year old stepbrother, who suffered critical head injuries, as well as other blunt force trauma; witnesses report he was conscious but having a hard time breathing after the collision.

They were apparently on their way home after buying some snacks at a nearby liquor store when they were struck by a car traveling east on 40th street at approximately 40 mph, throwing them about 60 to 80 feet; the driver fled the scene without stopping.

Cyclists and planners talk, Metro listens

Maybe they’ve ignored us. Or maybe we’ve just felt ignored.

Either way, today’s Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting seemed to be a new beginning for both sides.

The meeting was kicked off by Doug Failing, Executive Director of Highway Programs and Interim Chief Planning Officer for Metro, who said the massive agency was focused on cycling as a way to solve the problem of traveling the first and last mile in combination with transit, as well as finding better ways to accommodate bikes on trains.

Standard rule of thumb — the longer the title, the less power an executive actually has. We’ll hope that’s not the case here, because he comes highly recommended and has a reputation for working well with cyclists.

But he also made the point that he, and the other members of Metro in the room, were there to listen. And he meant clearly meant it, as he later interrupted a Metro staffer who attempted to defend — or maybe just explain — one of their programs.

So after a brief presentation by Lynne Goldsmith, Bike Planning Manager with the Westside Area team, the floor was turned over to the concerns of the 70+ cyclists, bike planners and other assorted transit and planning professionals from various governmental groups and cities around Southern California.

Common comments called for larger bike racks on buses, and the need to allow more bikes on trains, including calls for a separate bike car. Another common complaint covered the need to better train bus drivers to respect cyclists on the roads — which we were told Metro is currently working on.

A number of people urged a greater focus on livable streets over massive transportation projects, as well as more bike-focused staffing at Metro; that’s in addition to the two — yes, 2 — who currently work there. And putting Metro’s budget to work to fund more bike-oriented infrastructure projects, and using their creative staff to create ads to encourage cycling and safe sharing of the roads.

In fact, those in the room overwhelming encouraged Metro to use its size, funding and influence to support cycling — with the single exception of a gentleman representing the Cheviot Hills homeowners group, who insisted that the planned Expo Line bike path should not go through their neighborhood in order to reduce crime and protect their privacy.

To which someone in the back of the room replied, “Did he just say, not in my backyard?”

However, the best comment of the day came from recently elected LACBC board member Greg Laemmle, who noted the historic opportunity to build out the Expo Line, along with the associated bikeway — and at the same time, summed up the issues currently facing the city.

“Great cities,” he said, “solve problems.”


Hey, guess who I passed heading north along the beach on a five-person bike the other day. On their way to Alaska, maybe?


Those who weren’t invited inside to meet with Sen. Barbara Boxer and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood make their case outside. Speaking of Metro, they have funding available for a feasible new bike path along the lower Arroyo Seco. C.I.C.L.E. is working with LACBC and the Bicycle Kitchen to bring the celebrated Tour de Fat bike and beer fest — sponsored by the maker of my favorite American beer — to L.A. State Historic Park. Is it really being bike friendly to ticket high school students for riding on the sidewalk when the street is too dangerous? Riding PCH — carefully — and Latigo Canyon. L.A. compares favorably in the small percentage of people who bike to work or work at home, like me. Why the Backbone Bikeway Network isn’t a freeway for bikes, and how to find your way along it. Pasadena’s new $1.7 million bike plan goes before the public, while Glendale needs to update theirs or continue to get left out.

Reno sees two cyclists injured in crashes in two hours. An Oklahoma FedEx driver faces a whopping $100 to $1000 fine for falling asleep and killing a cyclist; see, if you’re napping behind the wheel, it’s just an accident. University of Arizona police go after salmon riders, not stop sign runners. Is it just a coincidence that all the drivers who yell “Get on the sidewalk!” look alike? Snow piled on road shoulder may be partially at fault in a N.J. cyclist’s death. A Texas town bans cyclists from a key roadway for their own good. International computer hacking suspect Floyd Landis appears on Larry King. The three foot passing law moves forward in Georgia and comes up for a hearing in Missouri. Your next bike might have a double bottom bracket and no spokes. And maybe your next helmet will protect your head from devastating injuries.

Evidently, Toronto cyclists don’t want to declare war on cars after all. An Irish driver is convicted of killing Commonwealth Games medalist David McCall. London’s mayor encourages cycling to work, yet the new the London Bridge Tower offers just 250 bike parking spaces for 6,500 occupants. UK riders plan to improve safety with mass Bike Train rides departing every 15 minutes during rush hour; no, they aren’t riding the train, they are the train. The BBC plans an upcoming show claiming 1 in 5 cyclists ride roughshod over the law. Anti-social drivers blamed for a spate of anti-bike behavior.

Finally, not only is Oregon bike friendly, so is their porn. Or maybe you’d rather have your own ghost bike; you know, without the inconvenience of actually dying.

For those keeping score at home, it’s Nose 1, Cancer 0.

Six weeks after surgery for my latest cycling injury, I’m happy to report that my proboscis is now skin cancer-free and healing nicely.

Thirty years of mostly unprotected cycling resulted in a diagnosis of basal cell skin cancer — fortunately, one of the mildest forms of cancer, easily eradicated with simple surgery.

In fact, the surgery itself took just a few seconds, as the surgeon took a single slice with his scalpel, then had me spend an hour cooling my heels in the waiting room while they conducted a biopsy to make sure they got it all.

Six weeks later and skin cancer-free. Not so bad, huh?

Then came the hard part, as a pair of surgeons tugged and pulled to stretch my flesh over the gaping gap to minimize the scarring. Imagine trying to stretch your eyelid over a bowling ball, and you’ll get a general idea what it felt like.

But now I’m finally both bandage and cancer free. And, as you can see, with just a small scar as a reminder.

My doctor says he can get rid of that for me. But I kind of like it.

To me, it’s just another scar from a lifetime of riding.

And a reminder that some of our most important safety equipment comes in a tube.


Tomorrow, USDOT Transportation Direct Ray LaHood and California Senator Barbara Boxer are hosting a hearing about priorities for the National Transportation Bill. The meeting will take place Friday, February 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in the Boardroom of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority at One Gateway Plaza, Downtown.

LACBC is hosting a ride to the meeting to emphasize the need for a higher priority — and more funding — for bikes and pedestrians projects. Riders are assembling at 8:15 at Union Station’s Patsaouras Plaza, or you can meet them there.


LACBC talks about the benefits of bike boulevards, including the proposed for 4th St. in L.A.; remember, how you sell them to the surrounding neighborhood is key. LAPD plans to step up enforcement of dangerous motorcyclists and other careless motorists. Gary offers advice on driving to the beach: Don’t. The Backbone Bikeway Network concept spreads to Long Beach. Orange County park rangers plan to dismantle an illegal off-road bike course. A San Diego rider rolls a stop, and faces down a confrontation with an angry driver. What do you call someone with an irrational hatred of bikes? The planned 3,000 pedestrian/bike greenway along the East Coast received $23 million in Federal funding. A cyclist who testified against Floyd Landis is charged with illegally importing Human Growth Hormone. Toyota’s gas pedal problems have been blamed for 34 fatalities between 2000 and 2008 — compared to 378 pedestrians and cyclists in the Detroit area alone. A London cyclist says the way to promote cycling is to ban car advertising. Contrary to reports of increased risk, analysis shows the rate of cycling deaths per mile traveled has in Britain has dropped 50%  since 1995. Calgary considers revising speed limits for cyclists on bikeways. Ten riders are biking from Bangalore to Mumbai to promote “Car Free Day.” Finally, the bad news is, Anchorage police attempt to shift responsibility for avoiding collisions to cyclists; the good news is, current traffic code requires drivers to yield to all human-powered vehicles.

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