Archive for February 17, 2010

Today’s ride, in which bike friendly Santa Monica actually was

I confess.

I’ve been known to criticize Santa Monica’s bike-friendly city status once or twice. No, really.

Hard to believe, I know.

But to be fair, I also feel I have an obligation to point out when they do something right.

And today, they did.

One of my biggest complaints about the beachside city — aside from the perpetually tourist and pedestrian clogged Marvin Braude Bike Path — is the frequency with which the bike lanes that helped Santa Monica gain its bike-friendly status from the League of American Bicyclists are blocked for some ridiculously needless reason or another.

Like movie crews who put orange cones in the bike lane to keep anyone from getting close to their trucks, even though they don’t extend far enough out to pose a risk to anyone. Or the utility crews who block bike lanes even though their work area is several feet away.

Which means that cyclists are regularly forced out into the traffic lane, where too often, drivers aren’t willing to concede an inch of their precious roadway.

So today, I was pleasantly surprised as I was riding back up the bike lane on San Vicente Blvd, headed inland from the coast, and saw this:

Amazingly, all the signs have been carefully placed outside the bike lane.

Instead of blocking the bike lane, as most road crews inevitably seem to do — regardless of necessity — this particular crew had clearly taken great pains to keep their signs out of the bikeway. And kept the lane clear for riders working their way uphill.

So, Mr. or Ms. Road Crew Sign Placement Guy or Girl, thank you.

Your efforts didn’t go unnoticed.

And they were appreciated.

Not one sign even partially blocking the bikeway. Seriously.

……….

In L.A., even homeless people hate bikes. Danceralamode, a frequent commenter on this site, offers up some lucid and insightful observations in response to the Times’ brief article about the hit-and-run death of Ovidio Morales. Bikerowave is throwing itself a third birthday party this weekend; also this weekend is C.I.C.L.E.’s Creek Freak Bike Tour. The Times takes note of Pasadena’s new bike plan. Streetsblog is now accepting donations to provide more complete coverage of L.A. transportation. A call for shared bus/bike lanes in L.A. A San Francisco writer asks if cycling is really getting more dangerous. Braess’ Paradox says that closing streets can reduce traffic congestion. Biking to work with Seattle’s bicycling mayor. The three-foot passing law passes in another state, as Maryland becomes the latest to give riders an enforceable cushion. It’s the Year of the Bike in Riverside; no, the one in Illinois.  London begins work on two cycling superhighways. A Kiwi rugby legend prepares to join the English charity ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats — sort of like riding from Key West to Seattle, but much shorter. Speaking of Kiwis, a New Zealand man asks the High Court to allow naked bicycling on public roads. Prepare to step through the looking glass, because in Budapest, right-wing politicians actually support cycling. Finally, in what could spell the death of Critical Mass, a New York judge rules that large group rides must get a parade permit; a ruling that may migrate to the Left Coast.

Yet another cyclist killed in a hit-and-run

According to KABC Channel 7, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision in Compton this morning at the intersection of Dwight Avenue and Compton Boulevard.

The rider, described as a Hispanic man in his 30s, was riding north on Dwight when he was struck by a minivan driving east on Compton. Surveillance video shows the driver pull over, get out to look at the victim, then get back in his car and flee the scene.

The vehicle is described as a 1990s Ford van, possibly an Aerostar van, colored silver or gray. Anyone who may have information regarding this incient is asked to contact the Compton Sheriff’s Station, 310/605-6500.

Note: I selected the Channel 7 report because it offered a little better coverage than some of the other reports available online. It’s a very sad commentary when the hit-and-run murder of a bike rider is only worth 5 sentences from the local paper.

Update: The Times increased their coverage today, adding an additional sentence for a total of 6. But they did embed coverage from KTLA.

According to KTLA, the victim was Ovidio Morales, a 40-year old father of five who worked hard to send money back home to his family in Guatemala. He was crossing Compton in the crosswalk with the green light, when a driver who witnesses say was talking on a cell phone went through the red light, striking Morales and dragging him several feet.

The suspect is described as a very tall African American man, possibly around 7 feet tall.


Does the road to bike equality run through the courts?

I got an interesting email recently from a cyclist who is clearly fed up with the struggles riders face as we take our place in the streets of Los Angeles:

If this represents the state of bicycling in Los Angeles, is legal action the answer?

As I read the numerous stories about the unequal and obviously dismissive treatment of cyclists who are the victims of motor vehicle collisions, I am constantly wondering where the tipping point is?

Some of the stories are so truly ridiculous I think an equal protection lawsuit should be seriously considered against the city.  Time and time again cyclists are not treated equally under the law, and while cyclists are not considered a protected class in constitutional scrutiny terms, there may be no other alternative than to bring suit and get the city to wake up to the road warrior-esque state of depravity on our streets when it comes to treatment of cyclists.  At one end of the spectrum, I have been called names and yelled at by passing cars for riding in the bike line, which is indicative of the prevailing attitude in this (once great) city.  At the other end of the spectrum is letting a driver who just plowed a cyclist rightfully on the road go on about her day as if nothing happened (ed: here).  Clearly, this spectrum is lacking in a “good end” and it sucks for anyone riding a bike on the streets.

As long as the powers that be (cops, city attorneys and the city council/mayor’s office) continue to encourage, and, at a minimum, tolerate the unequal treatment of cyclists, so will the rest of the public and the horror stories will continue.

I almost feel like a call to the ACLU is in order.  Crazy as it seems, it might be the route that needs to be taken.

I had to admit, it was an idea that has occurred to me from time to time — and one I’ve heard from other cyclists, as well.

If we don’t feel safe, and don’t feel like the local authorities are taking our concerns seriously — and treating us equally to the motorists we share the road with — maybe we do need to start considering our options.

So I forwarded his email to an attorney of my acquaintance to get the opinion of someone who, unlike me, knows what the hell he’s talking about when it comes to the law.

Here is his response — though he reminded me to make it clear that this area of law is not his specialty, so we shouldn’t consider this the last word on the subject.

In regard to your question, I’ve thought about this as well.

Unfortunately, cyclists are NOT a “protected class” for purposes of the federal constitution and for an equal protection suit to stand.  A “protected class” is traditionally considered something like, race, nationality, religion, gender.  Some individual states have extended the meaning to include age, disability and sexual orientation for the purposes of their own state constitution.  So a lawsuit claiming that cyclists are a protected class would be dismissed pretty quickly, I think.

However, I have thought about another possibility, a class action lawsuit.  The problem with this is the technical nature of the class action laws.  Basically you’d have to show that a group of people (cyclists) have all suffered the same kind of injury from the same source.  Here is a breakdown of the elements for a federal class action:

(1) the class must be so large as to make individual suits impractical, (2) there must be legal or factual claims in common (3) the claims or defenses must be typical of the plaintiffs or defendants, and (4) the representative parties must adequately protect the interests of the class. In many cases, the party seeking certification must also show (5) that common issues between the class and the defendants will predominate the proceedings, as opposed to individual fact-specific conflicts between class members and the defendants and (6) that the class action, instead of individual litigation, is a superior vehicle for resolution of the disputes at hand.

California has its own laws on class actions, but the substantive basis for the claim follow the above elements as well.

I think the biggest obstacle here is determining the factual claims in the second element. Basically, what are we saying is the wrongful act and have all the members of the class suffered the same type of injury?  If you say the city of L.A. has put cyclists at danger with their lack of bike infrastructure, I think that’s too vague.  We’d have to point out a more specific point in the decision making process of the LADOT most likely….like treating traffic issues with an agenda to move more cars quickly, as opposed to other modes of transportation.  I think the city could still point to its on going efforts with the Bike Plan as a way to defend itself, as you’ve noted all ready.

You’d also have a real hard time finding that specific point or person within the agency to pin the wrong-doing on.  And then you still have to show a causal connection to the lack of infrastructure, crappy bike lanes in the door zone, pot holes, debris, etc. and the resulting injuries.  Unfortunately, I think we’d be all over the place with this one, and there’s still the issue of what role the motorists and law enforcement play in the injuries.  These are just some of the issues I can see off the top of my head.

There’s one more problem that adds an additional layer of complexity. In California, whenever you want to sue a public entity (state, city, school district, public works, police, public transportation) for some kind of wrongful act, you have follow the rules of the CA Tort Claims Act, which requires you to give notice to the particular agency that you are making a claim for injury no later than 6 months after the injury occurred.  No matter how you phrase the wrong-doing on the part of L.A., you still have to comply with this notice requirement first.

So, the problem then becomes finding not only a potential set of injured cyclists due to L.A. crappy streets, crappy bike lanes, lack of proper CVC enforcement, lack of thorough investigations, etc., but also that these plaintiffs fall within a 6 month window.

It’s a complicated case from the get-go, and we’d need a very serious and committed class action attorney with the desire and resources to take it.  I don’t want to say that there’s absolutely no attorney who would take a case like this, but I’m sure it’s slim pickings.

In other words, legal action may be possible, but success seems pretty unlikely.

Meanwhile, LADOT is working on revising the bike plan, the LAPD continues its new-found engagement with the cycling community, and bikes appear to be firmly on the radar of both the Mayor and City Council.

Although as Stephen Box points out, we’ve been here before.

But it’s an option to keep in mind, in case L.A.’s seemingly sudden support of cycling peters out before the next election cycle rolls around.

……….

Pasadena considers doubling the amount of bike lanes in the city as well as adding bike boulevards — or “emphasized bikeways” as they call it. A call for Bakersfield cyclists and pedestrians to do a better job of sharing the bike path. The three-foot passing law fails in the Virginia House. Advice on how to deal with a difference in leg lengths. Trek donates £20 million to the London Cycling Campaign. UK teenagers admit to brutally beating a cyclist because he “looked like a pedophile.”  In the final month of a 20-month suspension for doping, pro cyclist Riccardo Riccò dumps his girlfriend when she tests positive, too. Aussie world track cycling champ Mark Jamieson admits to four counts of sex with an underage girl. Finally, a writer in Iowa says a three-foot passing law isn’t the answer — and feels compelled to remind riders that cars “are fast and powerful.” Yeah, thanks, we didn’t know that.

A safer route from Westwood to Brentwood, Santa Monica and the coast

As people have pointed out lately, prior to 9/11, cyclists used to be able to ride through the Los Angeles National Cemetery just west of UCLA in Westwood — providing a much shorter, faster and safer route between the campus and the Brentwood, West L.A. and Santa Monica areas. A meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday to discuss reopening bicycle access through the cemetery, at a site to be determined.

The UCLA Bicycle Academy and the Bicycle Coalition at UCLA invite all interested cyclists, staff and representatives of UCLA Transportation Services, Office of Sustainability, the Campus Architect, UCLA Government and Community Relations, the Transportation Deputy for Councilmember Rosendahl, the Westwood Neighborhood Council, and other stakeholders and interested parties, to attend a meeting with Lisa Pinto, District Director for Congressman Henry Waxman.
The topic of the discussion is the Re-Opening the National Cemetery for Bicycle Traffic

The meeting will take place at 5:15 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010.  We are currently negotiating with Transportation Services and hope we will be able to hold the meeting in their conference room.

While I respect the need to maintain the pastoral nature of this cemetery, I would hope than anyone — cyclist, driver or pedestrian — would demonstrate the proper respect for hallowed ground, where 14 Medal of Honor winners dating back to the Civil War are buried, along with over 100 of the famed Buffalo Soldiers and countless others who have served their country with honor.

Maybe if we show a little courtesy and respect at the meeting, they may be more willing to believe we’ll show it to those buried and visiting there, as well.

……….

An international arrest warrant has been issued for former Tour de France non-winner Floyd Landis for allegedly hacking into a French doping lab computer following his failed drug test.

……….

Stephen Box calls attention to a “secret” LADOT meeting to preview the revised bike plan tomorrow afternoon. A first visit to the Bikerowave. A good turnout for the 8 Presidents Ride. The Amgen TofC ends in Thousand Oaks on May 23rd. Sidewalks and bikeways should be part of every federally funded road project because “when roads slim down, so do people.” Corpus Christi, TX considers a 3-foot passing law for cars, and 5 feet for trucks. Considering the monetary benefits of biking infrastructure. A $40 million jury award for a 14-year old Arizona cyclist killed by a drunk driver. Arizona reintroduces the Idaho Stop law. A 77-year old veteran bike racer is killed in a Texas SWSS (Single Witness Suicide Swerve), in which the only witness is the driver who swears the riding turned in front of him for no reason. A UK writer blames all cyclists, calling for mandatory testing and licensing after her mother is injured by one; I was once bitten by a dog, but I didn’t insist that every dog be muzzled and tested for rabies. Manchester, UK cyclists carry ironing boards and deckchairs on onboard to successfully protest a ban forbidding bikes on trams included carrying ironing boards. Riders are called a menace in Bahrain, as well. New Zealand authorities are still hunting the hit-and-run killer of a 62-year old cyclist last October. In Australia, road users stick to their own kind and everyone else is the enemy; sort of like it is here. A driver deliberately swerves into a Kingston, Ontario cyclist, then flees the scene. Mumbai cyclists prepare for their first ever Cyclothon. Finally, the men of England are encouraged to rise up against reckless drivers who endanger men, women and children — in 1908.

A brief bit of news, and hot bike links for a warm L.A. weekend

Lots of interesting bike stories in the news the last few days — far too many to hold onto until my next post. So pull up a chair, pop open a cold one, and settle in for a bit of reading.

But first, one bit of news. The hotly debated motion to support extending the Marvin Braude Bike Path nearly two miles north to the border with the ‘Bu was passed in the City Council Friday by a vote of 9 – 2.

Does that mean the path will be extended?

Far from it. All it means is that the city’s representatives in D.C. will start looking into the availability of Federal funding to build it. Which is a very long shot, indeed.

So for the time being, you’ll have to keep turning back at Temescal Canyon. Or take the lane on PCH.

………

The Times considers L.A.’s big jump in bike thefts, so does KABC; as usual, Damien Newton takes a more in-depth look, and Bicycle Law offers advice on how to avoid it, and what to do if you don’t.

………

Roadblock — or Rhode Block — calls on LADOT Bikeways Coordinator Michele Mowery to connect with the cycling community. NELA campaigns for a bike corral and a more ridable Four Corners. Flying Pigeon hosts this weekend’s Spoke(n) Art Ride. Bicycle Fixation remembers when California actually had good roads. Streetsblog says advocates love the Backbone Bikeway Network; hey, ma, look — I’m an advocate! Solving USC’s bike/foot/car/truck/bus traffic issues. Now that Long Beach is officially a bike-friendly city, they’re actually becoming one. Stephen Box says the Times got it wrong in the Warren Olney dooring, then again, the Culver City PD doesn’t get it, either. A San Diego cyclist tells a first-hand tale of a thankfully injury-free hit-and-run. Amgen’s Tour of California unveils it’s toughest route yet. Portland passes a new bike plan leading up to the year 2030. Colorado’s 25th Anniversary Ride the Rockies — think of it as an alpine RAGBRAI — kicks of June 13th. Dave Moulton continues his excellent advice on how to be seen and not be a victim. Finding peace on sleepy city streets. Seattle installs special rail-crossing markings for cyclists and a video explaining how to follow them. The three-foot passing law moves forward in Virginia, as well as in Maryland. Do Arizona drivers have to give a three-foot clearance even when the bike lane is blocked? A new study suggests Portland’s bike boxes may be working. Minnesota considers allowing cyclists to turn left on a red light if the light doesn’t change. Iowa Bike Blog argues why a local legislator is wrong about their proposed five-foot — yes, five foot — passing law, which also includes an anti-harassment measure. USA Today looks at the long road faced by electric bikes in the US. A Charlotte street is about to get a road diet. Why don’t British women ride? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the 19% increase in serious cycling injuries and deaths last year, would it? Helsinki gets new bike lanes and cycle paths, while L.A. continues to wait for sharrows.  Finally, maybe instead of recalling defective cars, we should recall defective drivers.

Anatomy of a bikeway — L.A.’s abandoned Class 1 bike path

In a city with so few bikeways, why would an off-road bike path over a mile long be forgotten — abandoned by cyclists and the city alike?

This Class 1 bike path runs south from Wilshire along Veteran, through the park, down Sepulveda, then several blocks west on Ohio.

Just a few blocks from the 275 foot long “stupidest bike lane in America,” you’ll find – if you look hard enough — a Class 1 bike path that should serve the massive biking population of UCLA, while providing a viable alternative to driving into car-clogged Westwood.

Yet few people even know it’s there.

It’s a bikeway that’s virtually unmarked, so hidden from view that I only found the final segment a few weeks ago when I decided to ride it from one end to the other.

This used to say Bike Path. I think.

Maybe I’m not very observant. Or maybe I just mistakenly assumed that a valuable asset like that would have signs indicating its existence.

Then again, I would also assume that it would be at least minimally maintained. While I understand that L.A. doesn’t have any legal responsibility to maintain any off-road path — having won their legal battle to absolve themselves of any liability for injuries suffered by cyclists — you would think common decency and human compassion would compel them to take some steps to protect the safety of those who might use it.

You would be wrong.

See any sign indicating a bike path? Me neither.

This path has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that it is virtually unridable in some places, putting the safety of less attentive riders at risk — particularly shameful since it runs through a public park and past a popular Little League field, explaining why most of the cyclists I’ve seen on it have been children.

This indentation is several inches deep — more than enough to catch the wheel of a passing cyclist.

However, the city may get an unpleasant surprise one of these days. Because the same law that the courts have ruled absolves the city of any liability for dangerous conditions on a Class 1 bike path also requires that adequate warning be provided for any known hazards.

And I can assure you that LADOT has been made aware of these conditions.

After all, I informed them myself.

One of the better sections of the path, and a great place to teach a child how to ride a bike.

And I saved a copy of the email, just in case anyone happens to need it.

……..

Bike Radar notes that two days remain to submit your thoughts on what constitutes harassment of cyclists on the streets of L.A. This year’s Amgen Tour of California kicks off with a Nevada City to Sacramento route on May 16. How to pee while riding your bike, male edition — step four, “Direct the stream away from you.”

If you want to keep cyclists from using a bike path, that’s a good way to do it.

A new book tells the story of how a masters cyclist recovered from a near-fatal broken neck to win 11 gold medals. South Dakota’s proposed three-foot passing law dies in committee. Forth Worth adopts a new bike plan with a 900% increase in biking infrastructure, including nearly 500 miles of on-street bike lanes. Central Oregon considers banning bike events on a popular racing route. A $10,000 racing bike stolen from Lance’s U23 development team is discovered in a Mexican flea market. Still drunk from the night before, a driver blames bright sunlight for why he struck and killed a Florida cyclist last fall. Biking continues despite the snowpacolypse. Finally, an Oxford, England cyclist has a unique approach to dealing with potholes — rather than complaining, he plants them with primroses. And You Are The Engine tells the tale of the first mile-a-minute cyclist, who accomplished the feat in 1899 by drafting on a steam engine train(!).

A cyclist on a bike can brake, turn or accelerate to avoid a collision; a rider walking his bike is a sitting duck if a driver runs the red light.

No signage indicating a bikeway here, either, but at least cars aren’t allowed on the sidewalk/bikeway. And yes, this is shown as a Class 1 bike path in the latest draft of the new bike plan.

These cracks rise several inches, and run most of the way across the path.

Note the faded yellow paint. Would you consider that an adequate hazard warning?

Now imagine encountering that after dark.

Of course, the crosswalk at Sepulveda and Ohio isn’t much better.

At Ohio, the bikeway turns west, sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians — few of whom seem to notice the faded markings on the cement.

At least this section has signs, though most people assume they indicate a bike lane in the street — which could be why most cyclists ride there, instead. And at the next intersection, cyclists going straight have to cross the path of drivers entering the VA grounds.

Talk bikes with Metro, and bike plan outreach with the County BAC

This is starting to get ridiculous.

After all these years of being ignored, suddenly everyone wants to talk bikes. From the Council and police, to the L.A. Times, which just can’t seem to get enough of us.

I feel like the latest Hollywood starlet du jour. Last year, we couldn’t get arrested in this town; although some of us came close. Now we’re having scripts thrust in our face, chased by paparazzi and rumored to be dating every up-and-comer and semi-has-been this side of the ‘Bu.

Latest in line is Metro, the friendly people who specialize in getting you from here to there by bus or rail.

As part of a planned series of Bicycle Roundtables, they’re inviting cyclists and other interested parties to sit down with them on Friday the 19th to “initiate a dialogue and identify issues of importance to cyclists.”

Not getting run off the road by buses would be a good start. Followed by allowing a few more bikes per train car than Noah did. Or would, anyway.

And how about not leaving cyclists on the side of the road at 4 in the morning?

This is your chance to voice your own opinion. But you have to RSVP by this Friday:

Metro is convening a series of Bicycle Roundtable meetings in 2010, and we welcome your participation! Doug Failing, Metro’s Executive Director of Highway Programs and Interim Chief Planning Officer, was active in the Caltrans Bicycle Advisory Committee. He will kick-off the first Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting.

The purpose of the first meeting is to initiate a dialogue and identify issues of importance to cyclists in Los Angeles County. This will lead to a vision for enhancing Metro’s current program. The outcome of the first meeting will determine the frequency, next steps, and agendas of future meetings.

The first Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting is scheduled for:

Friday, February 19, 2010

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Metro

One Gateway Plaza

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Windsor Conference Room, 15th Floor

Light refreshments will be served.

Sign-in and receive a visitor badge at the 3rd Floor security desk.

Please be on time. This meeting will start promptly at 2:00 pm.

Please RSVP by Friday, February 12, 2010 to Jennifer Gill at (213) 922-4224 or gillj@metro.net.

I’ve already made my reservation. Then again, I’m a sucker for free food.

And I promise I won’t be late.

Unless maybe my bus is.

Meanwhile, you’re also invited to the second meeting of the County Bicycle Advisory Committee on Wednesday the 17th to discuss preparations for the public meetings and outreach for the upcoming L.A. County bike plan:

This is to inform you that the next Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting for the County’s Bikeway Master Plan (Plan) has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th.  The meeting details are as follows:

Time & Date: 02/17/2010;  7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Board Overflow Room (across from Cafeteria)

3rd Floor, Metro Headquarters

1 Gateway Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90012-2952

Contact: Abu Yusuf, ayusuf@dpw.lacounty.gov, (626) 458-3940

Directions: Click here for directions to the Metro Headquarters Building.

Purpose: The materials to be presented at the first round of community meetings and suggestions for improving the public outreach strategy for the Plan.  Please visit lacountybikeplan.org for more information on the Plan.  The final meeting agenda will be sent out by February 12th.  A draft agenda is included for your reference.  Please let us know if you have any recommendation for topics to discuss at the meeting by February 10th.

DRAFT Agenda

Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting #2

County of Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan

Board Overflow Room; 3rd Floor, Metro Headquarters;

1 Gateway Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90012-2952

February 17, 2010

7:00PM – 8:30pm

Introductions (5 min)

Minutes from January Meeting (15 min)

Public Workshop Schedule and Locations (20 minutes)

Workshop Format and Presentation Materials (20 minutes)

Outreach and Promotion of Workshops (20 minutes)

Next Steps (10 minutes)

And to top things off, the County also invites you to join them to discuss the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail:

Thank you for your continued support for the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail project.  This is to inform you that the first Arroyo Seco Bike Trail working group meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, February 18th.  The meeting details are as follows:

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Location:  Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

Los Feliz Room

(323) 221-9939

570 West Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065

For a map click here

Purpose:  Discuss the progress to date and review the attached project concept report, including the project costs and trail alignment.

Maybe this really is the year of the bike.

………

Damien Newton continues his usual excellent work with an in-depth examination of the proposed Backbone Network, while the Times offers a summary of the comments. Stephen Box suggests L.A. should learn from Long Beach’s example. Will Campbell’s 8 Presidents Ride this weekend just happens to end near the first L.A. Street Food Fest, complete with bike valet. Coincidence? Meanwhile, Green LA Girl calls your attention to a beginner’s Mountain Bike Ride for happily single people on Valentines Day, and reminds us about the LACBC’s L.A. River Ride. Cynergy offers their latest lecture on cycling for health and performance Wednesday at 7p. A San Diego cyclist was killed trying to pass a city-owned dump truck on the right; seldom a good idea. Riverside considers an update to that city’s Bicycle Master Plan at tonight’s City Council meeting. Eight ways to stop killing cyclists in America. Does true democracy demand lower speed limits? A Wichita councilman says he doesn’t know anyone who bikes to work; a local blogger suggests he look out his City Hall window. An Austin physician pushing for a mandatory helmet law is undone by his own study, which shows helmets don’t make a difference — but drinking does. A London rider files a formal complaint against an abusive cabbie, and just hopes he doesn’t have a dog. Summer’s here and the time is right for riding in the streets — in New Zealand, anyway. Team New Zealand’s GM says bike racing is now as aerodynamic as Formula 1. Finally, it has nothing to do with bikes, but a group Oak Park high school students held a bake sale yesterday to raise money to help Boeing clean up the nuclear-contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory. They raised $99.31; Boeing reportedly declined to accept the donation.

They drive among us: More insights on cycling from the gasoline addled

Sometimes, they make it too easy.

The Times felt a need to troll for more online readers. So naturally, they turned to bikes, knowing the subject always keeps the comments flowing — even though they covered this same subject just last week.

And sure enough, the comments about the Bike Working Group’s proposed Backbone Bikeway Network has brought out the usual bike-hating suspects. Surprisingly, though, the comments have been overwhelmingly in favor of building the network.

Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the Times moderates comments on their blogs. So all the rabid, mouth-foaming, life-threatening, death-to-cyclists borderline insane, so-bad-they-make-the-Good-Doctor-look-good comments may be circling the silicon drain.

And man, would I like to see those.

So instead, we’re left with the observations of the relatively sane, though perhaps somewhat gas-addled drivers who managed to make it through the paper’s filtering process.

I read ‘em so you don’t have to.

Of course, many of the anti-bike comments fall into to usual category of bicyclists should be licensed and insured, just like drivers.

Yes, Just make sure they are licenced and pay fee’s like car owners do, and make em get insurance too!

Posted by: john | February 08, 2010 at 08:54 AM

And

If bikes want more space on the roads of LA then the bike should be registered just like cars and bikers should be licensed just like drivers. They should also be tested just like drivers after all it is a privelege not a right. And no bikes should be allowed on two lane roads if they pose a hazard to drivers.

Posted by: Jerry Brunner | February 08, 2010 at 12:41 PM

A perspective that fails to consider that the overwhelming majority of adult cyclists have a driver’s license, and have passed the exact same test as their accusers. Or do they honestly think that no one on a bike has any other transportation options?

Then there’s the fact that here in California, the operator is insured, rather than the vehicle. Which means that your car insurance policy should follow you regardless of what vehicle you operate — even a bike, as I learned the hard way following my road rage case, when my car insurance company picked up the entire tab for my medical expenses.

There are those who will only support cyclists when we obey the law.

only if they start obeying the traffic laws. 75% run stop signs and red lights

Posted by: Jon | February 08, 2010 at 09:11 AM

And no drivers ever speed, run stop sighs or fail to signal. Or park in bike lanes, for that matter.

Then there’s this rocket scientist, who can’t seem to grasp the concept that fixies can still manage to stop, even without added brakes.

Sure, as long as the cyclists follow the rules of the road like everyone else. Too often I see them running stop signs and even red lights with wanton disregard for their own safety. The worst offenders are the people on fixed-gear bikes that don’t have any brakes at all. I am not allowed to drive a car with no brakes, so why should someone be allowed to ride a bicycle with no brakes on that same road?

Posted by: Kirill | February 08, 2010 at 09:21 AM

There are comments that say get on the sidewalk.

no. infact the old law allowing people to ride bikes on the same roads that cars and trucks drive needs to be ended. they are a road hazard that should be on the sidewalk. when a person riding a bike is in the fast lane of a two lane road and is trying to make a left hand turn across traffic he is endangering himself and all the motorist on that same road. only if there is no side walk should it be legal to ride a bike on the road and only on the far right side at that. i am actually shocked that the ultra greedy insurance companies have not pushed for this already to avoid payouts that result from there injuries.

Posted by: dman in the inland empire | February 08, 2010 at 09:31 AM

And comments that say stay off the sidewalk.

The question ought to read “Should cyclists give pedestrians back the sidewalks?” I will give them room on the road if they will let me walk on the sidewalk.

Posted by: LBGirl | February 08, 2010 at 09:38 AM

Even some that say get on the sidewalk you damn commie liberals.

No! Bikers need to stay on the sidewalk or learn to drive a car. I am sick of liberal cheapskates on bikes slowing down the traffic just so they can save a few bucks on gas.

Posted by: Hal | February 08, 2010 at 09:40 AM

A few think there are better places to ride. Like the desert, for instance.

I disagree with giving them more room. The law provides enough room for bicyclists as it is. If they want somewhere to ride, they can ride to the desert and have all the room they want. As mentioned above, they are self-righteous and sanctimonious and do not DESERVE anything. Those idiots we see riding along the orads in their tight shorts and stupid helmets are not going to work and, therefore, should not get in the way of those of us who have to fight traffice every single day. I say drop the subject altogether,

Posted by: Gary | February 08, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Yeah, cycling a hundred miles out of your way in 112 degree temperatures is so much fun, when you only wanted to go a few blocks down the “orad” for a loaf of bread.

Or maybe Orange County.

I’m sorry but Los Angeles should not cater to cyclists. There are plenty of trails in the suburbs and most cyclists choose to live somewhere with more trails anyways. Suburbs like Orange County are prime real estate for pretty boy cyclists. LA is an inner city kinda place and always will be

Posted by: Phil | February 08, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Meanwhile, Julie is tired of getting stuck behind cyclists on the 405 Freeway.

I am begging you – NO!!!!!! let bicyclists ride on paseos and around neighborhoods. Bikes are NOT viable methods of transportation for work and should NOT be treated as such. I do not want to have to drive at 10 miles per hour because I’m behind a bicyclist on the 405….Please stop the insanity.

Posted by: julie | February 08, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Or did she think “bicycle freeways” meant we were actually going to ride on the freeway? And Rick, too.

On the freeway are they nuts or just have a death wish, totally unaccecptable

Posted by: Rick T | February 08, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Clearly, not enough emphasis is paid to reading for comprehension in today’s schools. And don’t even get me started on what some of these comments say about literacy rates these days.

Some say traffic is too bad for a solution that might actually provide an alternative to driving.

Yet another idiotic “politically correct” idea. Traffic is congested? Then let’s make it more congested so a handfull of bicycles can move freely while tens of thousands move even more slowly.

Posted by: rick1946 | February 08, 2010 at 10:55 AM

Never mind that many L.A. streets are already at or above capacity, and that the only viable solution is to reduce the number of cars on the roads. Or do they want us to remove the sidewalks so they can add another traffic lane?

On the other hand, Ron hates cyclists because of our fashion choices, as well as riding habits.

yes, please get these rude idiots off the streets, bicyclists don’t give a damn. they don’t care about anyone but themselves. Everywhere I go I see them challenge drivers, Never in single file, Run stop signs so they won’t lose momentum, ect…. Just because you ride an expensive bicycle and outfit yourself in ridiculious effiminite clothing, Does not give you the right to take over the road , which is what they do in packs. Are we supposed to stop all our cars on busy streets because your club needs to get to starbucks? I’m surprised there aren’t more road rage incidents against these self centered elitists. These people are riding for pleasure, the rest of us are trying to get to work,So stay out of the way, Heelhook

Posted by: Ron | February 08, 2010 at 09:40 AM

Some are only concerned with our safety:

For God’s sake, NO! NHTSA statistics have shown that a mile traveled on a bicycle is 14.7 times more likely to result in a fatality than one traveled in a passenger vehicle. Not only is it far more dangerous, bicycling, unlike motorcycling, is disastrous to efficient traffic flow in a region notorious for that problem already. Bicyclists who want this are zealots who care nothing for all those they would inconvenience.

Posted by: klesb | February 08, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Of course, he fails to mention that cars are far more likely to kill someone.

Some have clearly never heard of dooring.

Are you kidding me, they cause enough hazards on residential streets as it is. Why do they need more space they all just ride on the line anyways. Is it that important to hug the white line? They are putting their lives at danger. Then they get upset when a car passes them going the speed limit. Scoot over to the right bikers, you have the whole bike lane to ride in.

Posted by: T Nahas | February 08, 2010 at 11:09 AM

There there’s the argument that bikes need to pay their fare share for use of the roads.

Bicycles should be registered and riders licensed the same asrequire for Autos. The fees collected can be used for more an wider bicycle lanes.
Auto registration fees in Calif have risen, the fuel tax in Calif is one of the highest in the nation and the bicycle riders want the motoring public to share the revenue to build them bike lanes instead of improving the road ways for autos for which the revenue is intende?
Les be fair, the autos pay for the auto lanes and the bikes pay for the bike lanes.

Posted by: David Wayne | February 08, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Hey, I’m all for that. Gas and licensing fees cover less than half of all road construction and maintenance fees, which means those who don’t drive or only drive a little subsidize those who do. So a tax that charges people for their use of the roads would mean a huge increase for people who drive two hours to work every day. And a huge decrease for those of us who don’t.

Put that on the ballot, I’ll vote for it.

Some think there just isn’t enough demand.

I think all three bike riders in Los Angeles deserve more space on the road. Maybe we could give them each their own lane.

Posted by: Ranger | February 08, 2010 at 02:04 PM

Then again, there are some who just hate bikes. But at least this guy’s honest about it.

No, I hate all you bike riders that try to take over the roads. If you arent a car, you shouldnt try and act like one. stay out of my way.

Posted by: bikehater | February 08, 2010 at 11:06 AM

………

LADOT to lose 12 staffers in the latest round of mayor-ordered layoffs, Planning Department loses nine; how Bikeways will be impacted is yet to be determined. Public Radio KCRW’s Warren Olney, reportedly doored last week, misses today’s show with a possible concussion. Metro hosts a Cycling Roundtable Downtown on Friday, the 19th; RSVP by this Friday to attend. LA Weekly picks up the story that nearly a quarter of all cycling collisions are hit-and-runs. The California Supreme Court reaches the obvious conclusion that bicycle foot rests are not brass knuckles. Clearly, bikes have entered the zeitgeist, as Biking In Heels notices they’ve penetrated the Wedding Industrial Complex. After surviving the Snowpocalypse, a North Carolina cyclist wonders what that blinding light illuminating everything is. The scumbag musician who killed a Miami cyclist in a drunken daylight hit-and-run is back in jail. It’s time to stop blaming scofflaw cyclists for the actions of motorists; I couldn’t agree more.The usual suspects come out in Portland, as well, with a renewed call to register, inspect and insure bikes, while bikes are increasingly the exception. A critical look at policing Critical Mass. Horrifying photos of the aftermath of a life-threatening bike accident tell the whole story. A Florida writer asks how much of a bother bikes can really be. The head of the Lafourche Parrish Sheriff’s Patrol Division, in new NFL champion Saints territory, rides to relax. An Aussie writer rags on rude Lycra-clad cyclists with middle-aged butts. In the US, conservatives hate bikes, in Budapest conservatives promote them. Two years after a cyclist is killed, a UK community considers removing the railings that caused her death. Finally, in a bit of good news, an elderly Aussie rider falls off his bike, then over a bridge — and suffers only scrapes and a possible broken leg.

I couldn’t have said it better myself

Last weekend, I wrote about the many positive changes taking place in the local biking world, from new-found attention from our government officials to reforms in the way the LAPD relates to cyclists. That was followed by a few comments about the people in the cycling community working to bring those changes about.

This morning, Roadblock left a comment that sums things up far better and more succinctly than I ever could (as you may have noticed, brevity isn’t exactly my forte). So for the benefit of anyone who may have missed it, I’m going to shut up and let Roadblock have the floor this morning:

2010 is the year of the bicycle. Let’s keep our heads down and continue to draft off each other. Everyone will get a chance to pull. Keep it moving. We have a lot of miles to cover.

………

The Times renews its call for comments on the Bike Working Group’s Backbone Bikeway Network, while Stephen Box unveils the Harbor Gateway section. C.I.C.L.E. starts a new membership drive, with a prize from America’s most bike-friendly brewery. Speaking of breweries, cyclists make room for other people at the newly opened Eagle Rock brewery, which oddly isn’t in Eagle Rock. Flying Pigeon and L.A.’s bicycle mainstream counterculture are featured in a Canadian blog. The NCAA donates 36 bikes to New Jersey children. No wonder Utah rejected the Idaho Stop bill — the local paper says it gives cyclists the right to “legally run red lights and stop signs.” SpringfieldCyclist points your attention to the 1962 Tour de France. Former framebuilder Dave Moulton offers advice on how to be seen and avoid getting hit. Toronto’s cycling — yet anti-bike lane — mayoral candidate. Queensland drivers consider cyclists a nuisance; local police ticket 7,500 riders a year for riding bare-headed. New Delhi promotes cycling, even though streets are crowded and dangerous, and motorcycles hog the bike lanes. A Spanish cyclist clowning his way around the world has his life has been threatened seven times — once by snake, once by malaria and five times by cars. Italian cycling coach and two-time Paris-Roubaix winner Franco Ballerini was killed in a car rally accident over the weekend. Finally, a good Samaritan in Sacramento follows a suspected hit-and-run drunk driver who ran down a cyclist and snatches her keys at a red light.

A quantum leap in L.A.’s cycling culture

Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones? — Bob Dylan, Ballad Of A Thin Man


It can be challenging growing up with a physicist for an older brother.

Oddly, it doesn't look any different.

By the time I was in 7th grade, I had a better understanding of physics than most of the people who tried to teach me. Like the time I found myself trying to explain Schrödinger’s Cat to one of my science teachers, who couldn’t grasp the concept that a kitty could be both alive and dead at the same time. Or what it was doing in the damn box in the first place.

Or trying to explain that quantum leap doesn’t mean a sudden dramatic change, as most people assume. But rather, it’s an infinitesimally small shift at the subatomic level; yet one that can result in a dramatic change over time.

Sort of like what’s happened over the last year in with bicycling in Los Angeles.*

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out just when things started to change around here. Maybe it was the Mandeville Canyon case that finally made cyclists mad enough to coalesce around a cause. Maybe it was the LAPD’s tepid response to the infamous Hummer Incident that caused riders to storm City Hall.

Or maybe it was when a group of cyclists got together to metaphorically nail their 12 theses on City Hall’s Wittenberg Door.

I really don’t know.

All I know is that something has changed. And for once, it seems to be for the better.

Take City Hall, for instance.

A year ago, there was minimal support for cyclists in local government. At best, a council member might host a bike ride or two, or stage a two-wheeled press event on Bike to Work day. Current TranspoComm chair Bill Rosendahl seemed to be one of the first to take cycling issues seriously when he tried to host a community meeting to discuss the Mandeville case. And failed, due to the overwhelming anger on both sides.

And no one could seem to recall Mayor Villaraigosa even mentioning bikes, let alone favorably.

Things look a little different today.

Somehow, that quantum leap — or series of leaps — has resulted in a dramatically changed environment for cyclists in this city, especially in the last month or two.

The City Council has responded to the concerns of cyclists by proposing an anti-harassment ordinance, pushing for sharrows and a bike-sharing program, and demanding a real response from the city’s police department. Council President Eric Garcetti went so far as to offer his personal assurance that he’ll keep the anti-harassment ordinance moving forward.

Even the mayor has recently expressed support for the planned CycLAvia. And just this week, he tweeted about his concern for making the streets safer for cyclists.

When Antonio Villaraigosa notices cycling — and actually supports it, no less — you know there’s something serious going on.

For the first time I’m aware of, LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson also offered public support for bike safety and educating drivers about cycling. And Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery assured listeners yesterday that much of the proposed Backbone Bikeway Network is already being incorporated into the revised bike plan, based on feedback from cyclists.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the recent appointment of new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has apparently resulted in a sea change in the department’s attitude towards bicyclists.

In recent weeks, the department has established a task force to address cyclists concerns, and has begun tracking bicycling collisions — revealing that a full 23% of reported bicycle collisions are hit and runs. In addition, they’ve issued a call for cyclists to report dangerous intersections so they can step up enforcement and recommend changes to city planners, and started to crack down on bike theft.

And they’re working on a program to educate officers on the rights of cyclists, and ways to educate drivers and cyclists on how to share the road safely.

Next up, Chief Beck is scheduled to address a special bike-focused meeting of the Council’s Transportation Committee meeting on the 24th. And hopefully he’ll listen to cyclists, as well.

The real test, though, will come when — and if — this change in attitude filters down to the street level.

Then there’s the LACBC.

When I started this blog a couple years back, like a lot of other local cyclists, I didn’t have a lot of use for the County Bike Coalition.

As far as I was concerned, they were wasting their time on relatively trivial matters, and unwilling to take on the serious challenges that face cyclists in Los Angeles. Maybe I was wrong; maybe they were working on things that went under the radar. Or my radar, anyway.

Or maybe they’ve just seriously stepped up their game in the last year or so.

Either way, the LACBC has been actively involved in the changes currently taking place in Los Angeles, from pushing for sharrows, bike-sharing and the anti-harassment ordinance to fighting for the 4th Street Bike Boulevard, a better bike plan and reforming the way the LAPD deals with cyclists.

They’ve also learned to hold their own with aggressive and sometimes unfriendly council members, without backing down. And yes, I’ve been impressed.

So much, in fact, that I’m seriously thinking about joining myself. Which is not something I would have considered a couple years ago. Or last year, even.

And the news media have taken notice, as the L.A. Times, KPCC’s Patt Morrison and Larry Mantle, and others have begun covering cycling on a regular basis.

Things are changing.

It’s up to us to keep up the pressure — on the Council, the Mayor, LADOT, LAPD, and yes, the LACBC. Because it’s up to us keep things moving forward.

And make sure this is just the beginning.

*Admit it, you were wondering where the hell I was going with this.

………

Riding outside the box and keeping yourself — and the city — moving in a more positive direction. Learning from San Louis Obispo’s bike boulevards. Can the Backbone Bikeway Network make North Fig bike friendly? Planning to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on the Rose Bowl loop. Two new Bike Stations in Claremont and Covina. San Antonio becomes the latest city to approve a three-foot passing distance, while Portland delays a vote on their 20-year bike plan. The Bicycle Leadership Conference wants your input, including a separate survey for female cyclists. Better signage for better bikeways. Encourage cycling through a positive focus, or discourage it through a negative focus on safety? Slap your car with a Bicycle Safe Vehicle sticker, assuming you have one, of course. Busting the myth about taking the lane on a high-speed highway. A missionary’s son bikes from Alaska to Argentina. Cyclists will ride further for long distance trains with fewer stops; maybe cyclists should just park their bikes at the train station and stop complaining. The Bicycling Baronet rides to the rescue of Parliament. Will the Vancouver games result in more than a short-term uptick in cycling? Drivers target cyclists along the Australian coast, and Tasmanian drivers consider cyclists hazards; one in four reports a collision or near miss with a rider. A British cyclist is killed on her way to visit her Alzheimer’s-afflicted husband in a nursing home. Finally, yet another cycling collision in Orange County — but this time, it’s cyclists vs. raccoon. And at least it’s a reason for running late.

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