Archive for March 31, 2010

A last unleavened look back at StreetSummit

A few random thoughts on StreetSummit before we move on to other topics.

Just a portion of those in attendance for StreetSummit

New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan credited her amazing success in transforming one of the nation’s most crowded and built-out cities to the support she’s received from the city’s highly motivated mayor.

In Los Angeles, where the traffic demands of a built-out city are often used as a reason for attempting little and accomplishing less, our transportation officials have yet to receive a level of support that would give LADOT leader Rita Robinson the political cover she needs to begin the long overdue transformation of L.A.’s transportation picture.

Whether she has the will or desire to take action is another question. As is whether L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa will move beyond his newfound support of CicLAvia and his bold 30/10 plan, and use the political freedom provided by his final term in office to truly transform the livability of this city. And in the process, effectively position himself for higher office.

Or we can continue to follow an unsustainable auto-centric traffic model until it kills us — literally and figuratively.

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Meanwhile, Long Beach’s seemingly sudden transformation into SoCal’s most bike-friendly community followed a different pattern.

While the city’s Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy — the man once named America’s #1 Bike Advocate and the closest thing we may ever see to our own Sadik-Khan — gave credit to the support he’s received from elected officials and the business community, other members of his panel told a different story.

Professional cyclist and Long Beach Bike Ambassador Tony Cruz, BikeStation President and CEO Andrea White-Kjoss and Long Beach Bicycle Festival Director Mark Bixby talked about their 10-year struggle to change local attitudes that began long before Gandy arrived in the city. And refusing to give up despite the knee-jerk anti-bike opposition they initially faced.

When they failed to place a bike boulevard on one street, they simply moved to another street and got the support of local residents and business people before going forward. And kept plugging away until attitudes slowly shifted.

That’s the same model that has lead to whatever limited success we’ve had here in L.A. — and the one we’ll most likely have to follow in the absence of an unexpected turnaround from L.A.’s mayor and transportation officials.

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As the photo to the right shows, one of N.Y.’s boldest moves has not only proven to be exceptionally popular, but extremely effective, as well.

Closing a long swath of Broadway to vehicular traffic didn’t result in the disastrous gridlock many people predicted. Instead, it actually improved traffic flow while reducing injuries.

We know that because the city tracked vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as well as accident and injury rates, both before and after the transformation.

So there’s no argument that it hasn’t been a success. And no one has to guess what effect it’s had. It’s all right there in black and white. Or sort of a bluish grey and green, anyway.

Their stat tracking ability has also allowed the city to set definitive goals going forward — like doubling bicycle commuting and cutting traffic deaths by 50%. That’s in addition to more concrete goals like continuing to stripe bike lanes at a rate of 50 miles a year.

And that is the key argument in transforming our own streets.

Do we want to continue to follow the L.A. model of moving ever more cars through our streets, with ever decreasing efficiency — while adding bike lanes at an annual rate less than 5% of New York’s? Or do we want to ensure that more of the people who use those streets get home safely, even if that means arriving at your destination a few minutes later?

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That was something else Charlie Gandy addressed.

What has fueled Long Beach’s rapid transformation was a shift in transportation priorities from moving more cars to livable streets. And changing the city’s privileged class from motorists to pedestrians, bicyclists and businesses, along with a willingness to accept a certain level of congestion in order the achieve other goals.

And that seems like a reasonable trade-off to me.

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Going back to Sadik-Khan’s discussion of the Broadway transformation, given the success of the project, it’s easy to forget that it started out as an experiment. Broadway was initially closed on a temporary basis; it was only a few weeks ago that the closure became permanent.

And that was something else she stressed.

Bike infrastructure is relatively inexpensive — especially compared to other forms of transportation projects. “You can do a lot with a paintbrush and a paint can,” she said.

And it doesn’t have to be permanent.

“You have to experiment, try things out,” she insisted. “If it doesn’t work, okay, you move on and try something else.”

“There’s no risk, except falling behind and not being imaginative.”

We can only hope that LADOT was paying attention.

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One last thought before moving on to today’s linkage.

The panel I hosted on bikes and political action at StreetSummit resulted in a clear mandate for a Los Angeles branch of Austin’s successful League of Bicycling Voters. In fact, over 80% of the people who attended the workshop put their email addresses on an impromptu interest list.

More on that soon.

I also left with an invitation from Charlie Gandy to come down to Long Beach and take a look at what they’re doing down there.

And I plan to take him up on that.

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Josef Bray-Ali may say he’s running out of ideas, but this last one’s brilliant — changing the laws that require parking spaces for residential or retail development to allow bike parking, instead.

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L.A. is a bike Mecca — or at least it was, 113 years ago. The LACBC reports on the East L.A. meeting for the county bike plan, and will work with the South Bay Bicycle Coalition to develop a plan for the South Bay region. Dr. Alex is highly critical of LACBC’s leap into planning and LADOT’s new blog — and takes Damien to task for being too “balanced” in a story about LADOT’s new blog. Stephen Box takes Metro to task for the non-opening of the long unplanned Bike Room at Hollywood and Vine. Learning to ride in L.A. from the perspective of a veteran driver. Mark your calendar for Bike Night at the Hammer Museum on April 8th. Riders on San Francisco’s Wiggle wobble, but they don’t fall down. A 40-year old cyclist must have caught some serious air to cross onto the other side of the road and hit a car head on; thanks to Opus the Poet for the link. The California Bicycle Advisory Committee is scheduled to discuss bike boxes on April 8th. Road rash is a common — and painful — part of cycling. Tell me about it. Even in these Tea Party days, most Americans support safe walking and biking. If an attractive, cycle-chic woman can be invisible on a bike, there’s no hope for any of us. A busy Portland bridge gets a lovely 15-foot wide bike lane. Free bike use for hotel guests in DC. Contending with BPRs (Bike Path Racers) while riding at rush hour in Seattle. A follow-up to Sunday’s information-free story about a cyclist in my hometown critically injured in a left hook collision. The L.A. Times discusses bike sharing in Los Angeles Mexico City (sorry, from the description of car culture-crowded streets and rude, uncaring drivers, it’s hard to tell the difference). Lance, Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins all get invitations to this years Tour; Dutch teams get shut out despite the Netherlands start. AMEX demands compensation from a Dutch cyclist who damaged a rental car by allowing it to run into her. London’s long-planned bike sharing program — or scheme, as the Brits would say — becomes a reality July 30th. Britain’s pedaling posties are being phased out for safety reasons. Buy a home, get a bike. After surviving the war in Afghanistan, a British soldier dies trying to dodge a 15-foot pothole on his bike. Israeli cyclists protest a ban on riding in national parks. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority encourages people to ride bikes; Dubai Police respond by confiscating them.

Finally, more proof that bikes are entering the mainstream — a full-head helmet wearing bank robber makes his getaway on a red BMX bike, just days after a similar BMX getaway near Seattle; no report on whether they attempted to leap any cars as they fled.

Happy Passover!

Blessing of the Bicycles — because it can’t hurt to get God on your side

I confess, I didn’t participate in last year’s Bike to Work Week.

It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s just that for those of us who work at home, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to get on the bike to pedal from the bedroom to the living room.

Although I suppose I could have joined the squadrons of laptop-toting writers who commute to Starbucks or Coffee Bean every day.

And while I wouldn’t have minded grabbing some of the bike swag offered at places like REI, it was long gone before I could justify taking a break from my creative endeavors for a quick 30 miles in the saddle.

But there was one event I truly regretted missing.

Maybe it’s just my Catholic upbringing. Or maybe it was understanding that as safe as cycling actually is — despite common perceptions — anything can happen.

And sooner or later, it usually does.

So I did my best to find a way to get my butt out of bed, out of the house and on my bike in time to make it Downtown in time for Good Samaritan Hospital’s annual Blessing of the Bicycles. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make it work with my schedule — let alone overcome my wife’s reluctance to let me ride the mean streets that lurk between the Westside and Downtown, especially at rush hour.

Because there’s just no good way to get there from here.

This year, though, I intend to make it one way or another.

Whether that means fighting my way through L.A. traffic, popping my bike on the front of a Metro bus, or throwing it on a rack and driving most of the way — and parking a few blocks off so everyone will think I rode the whole way.

Good Sam cites some pretty horrific safety stats to support the event, most of which I will spare you — though I am struck by the fact that biking deaths are most likely to occur in summer or fall between 6 – 9 pm on a Friday.

But honestly, it just sounds like fun.

And it couldn’t hurt to get a little support from the deity of your choice before your next ride.

Good Samaritan Hospital’s 7th Annual West Coast Blessing of the Bicycles

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

8 am to 9:30 am

Good Samaritan Hospital Entrance, 616 S. Witmer Street (intersection of Witmer and Wilshire)

The non-denominational event will feature religious leaders from different faiths who will impart blessings in the service for cyclists to continue their safe ride to and from work and/or school.

Commemorative lap around hospital campus saluting the healing and remembering those injured in bicycle accidents.

Free bicycle safety check.

Golden Spoke Award recipient

Los Angeles Police Department Bicycle Training Unit to participate.



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The LACBC gives the LAPD a list of the city’s worst intersections. Last weekend’s Tweed Ride through Hollywood makes CNN’s website. LADOT’s new Bikeways blog offers advice on how to protect your bike from thieves. Burbank’s Verdugo Ave. goes on a road diet; trading a traffic lane for bike lanes wasn’t the end of the world after all. Bike corrals may soon be coming to L.A. The only thing different about a woman rider is, well, nothing actually. A Sacramento cyclist is cited for riding without a seat after his was stolen. Cyclelicious says the American Trucking Association is wrong — equal treatment for bikes does not equal economic catastrophe; Examiner cites knee-jerk reactions from car-centric legislators. AT&T’s anti-texting while driving PSAs could save lives, including yours. Turns out the witness in the hit-and-run death of an Illinois cyclist was the driver who killed him. A Denver-area cyclist dares last week’s blizzard to stop her from riding. Online tutoring to fix your Dutch bike. Aussie off-road champ James Williamson’s death was due to an undiagnosed heart condition. Belfast gets bike racks, while Dublin reaches its highest level of cycling in the past 10 years. A Toronto writer argues he isn’t anti-bike, he just opposes the bike lanes that could help ease congestion because the streets are too congested; meanwhile, a Toronto cop thinks cyclists would get more respect if they’d just wave politely. Evidently, the life of a cyclist in Canada is only worth 9 months probation — even if the cyclist killed by unsafe passing is an off duty cop. Singapore gets its first ghost bike after two riders are hit from behind by a suspected drunk driver.

Finally, the long hidden identity of New York’s Bike Snob is about to be unmasked.

16-year old Orange County cyclist critically injured

This hasn’t been a good weekend for teenage cyclists in Southern California.

Just two days after a Pacoima rider was shot in an apparent gang-related attack, a 16-year old Orange County cyclist was critically injured after a collision with a car in Santa Ana Sunday afternoon. According to the Orange County Register, the cyclist was riding across Lacy Street between Fifth Street and Santa Ana Blvd when he collided with a vehicle traveling north on Lacy — the story subtly assigns blame to the cyclist while noting the accident is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, Gustavo Arellano of the Orange County Weekly, author of the popular Ask A Mexican column, was on the scene to witness the aftermath of the collision.

Arelleno said that the car hit the rider — rather than the other way around — with enough force to shatter the windshield, leaving a massive dent in the vehicle and breaking the bicycle in two. While no blood was visible, Arelleno did not see the rider move his hands or legs, and says “the teen’s tortured gasps for air were a sound I hope to never hear again.”

He credits police and fire personnel for arriving on the scene within minutes of the 1pm collision, and places blame on the conflict between the city’s “ambitious plans to remake its downtown core and the head-in-the-sand approach to the area’s actual needs.”

“This is already a neighborhood that’s way overcrowded,” said a lady who identified herself only as Yuri. She had no idea of the city’s plans for her neighborhood, which include squeezing in high-rise apartments. “We need parks, not more buildings–there’s already too many apartments! With more people and more cars on these small streets, there’s going to be more accidents!”

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Even after everything, Murrieta’s Floyd Landis still loves cycling. San Diego’s San Louis Rey River Trail is extended three more miles. Get your free Ride a Fucking Bike sticker here. A Georgia insurance executive says bike riders face risks on the road, and there’s not much consolation in saying “it wasn’t my fault.” A 60-something cyclist in my home town is critically injured in a collision; no information on his name, direction or travel, whether the driver was distracted, wearing a seatbelt or whether charges might be filed. An 11-year old Iowa cyclist is critically injured in a hit-and-run; police say the driver may not even know she hit anything. Cell phone use while driving is even more dangerous than previously thought. Over 2300 riders roll the roads of New Zealand, despite warnings from police. Brisbane’s shared bike/pedestrian paths turn into danger zones as both users compete for space. Will a better water bottle holder revolutionize cycling? A 19-year old Brit cyclist hopes to raise £1 million to thank a hospital for saving his life. Instead of charging cyclists to use the roads, we should get tax cuts and the thanks of motorists.

Finally, a writer claims that most cars carrying two or more passengers have a smaller carbon footprint than the average man on a bike.

Another bike shooting in Pacoima, a local cyclist DJs for clean drinking water

In a repeat of a recent incident, an 18-year old cyclist was shot and killed in Pacoima in an apparent gang-related attack. According to LAist, Sebastian Caldera was riding near Pierce Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard around 7 pm Friday when he was shot several times and pronounced dead on the scene. Anyone with information is urged to contact LAPD homicide detectives at 818/834-3115.

KABC Channel 7 reports another shooting at virtually the same location just two hours earlier in which the shooter fled the scene by bike.

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One of my favorite local bike bloggers, James Haygood, author of Bike Date Santa Monica, will be a guest DJ at TapRadio.org this Sunday.

In this country, we take clean water for granted. But too many people around the world lack access to safe drinking water — in fact, waterborne illness is the second leading cause of death for children under five. The UNICEF fundraiser will help provide clean drinking water for 900 million people in over 100 countries; half of those are children.

As James points, out, just $5 will get a kid clean water for 200 days.

He’ll be spinning online at 11 am, 5 pm, 11 pm and again at 5 am Monday. Other Sunday DJs include John Taylor of Duran Duran, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and actor Kevin Durand of Lost and Robin Hood. Among the others contributing their time and skills throughout the two-week project are Tom Arnold, Lucy Liu, Elijah Wood, the Village People and Joey Santiago of the Pixies.

Tap Radio is scheduled to continue through April 5th; he will be online again on Sunday, April 4th. You can contribute via the Tap Radio website, or by texting “TAP” to UNICEF 864233 to make a $5 donation.

And be sure to check out Bike Date; while he’s been inactive lately, the archives are definitely worth scrolling through.

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In honor of Dodger owner Frank McCourt’s planned bike race, Damien invites you to plan it for him; the first Streetsblog fundraiser is less than two weeks away. Courtney Cox rides a bike, at least when she’s filming; Miley Cyrus and boyfriend ride through Toluca Lake. San Francisco’s new police chief keeps his promise to ride a bike. The San Diego Custom Bicycle Show kicks off on April 9th. Just weeks after Albuquerque unveiled a new bike safety campaign, a ghost bike appears for a cyclist killed by a driver who didn’t see him riding on the bike path. A Memphis rider asks, if traffic flows at the speed of a bike, why not just ride one? The driver who hit and killed a Northern Irish cyclist while rushing to catch a flight is sentenced to five years; in proof that some people just don’t learn, he was also ticked for speeding twice after killing David McCall. Former TdF winner Stephen Roche says it’s no contest between Lance and Contador, with his vote going to the latter. The hit-and-run epidemic spreads to South Africa, where police say there’s safety in numbers. Finally, the fixie has officially jumped the shark — Walmart unveils its $150 Fixed-Speed Bike.

A little this, a little that: Wolfpack Hustle crashes the Marathon, County bike news, a tragic death in New Zealand

Some of the cyclists in the "bikeless" L.A. Marathon; Wolfpack Hustle crashed the course hours earlier.

A reader sent the following email about crashing Marathon last Sunday by racing the course at 4:30 in the morning with the Wolfpack Hustle. And in the process, getting a reminder of why he rides.

I saw your post about the “bikeless” marathon. I was disappointed to find out there wasn’t going to be a pre-race bike ride this year, but then I saw this:

http://www.wolfpackhustle.com/viewStory.php?storyId=593

I dragged myself out of bed to go race with these hardcore L.A. riders, not really sure what to expect, and behold – just under 400 riders showed up for a 4:00am race/ride!  I have to say it was an amazing time.  I also have to say, I have never ridden so hard in my life; these ”kids” can ride!  I was really impressed by the fixie riders and the pace they were able to maintain over the entire distance…(here’s to being young).  In addition to the huge fixie/single speed contingent, there were a handful of lycra clad roadies as well (myself included).

As slightly unorganized as it was, we were not bothered by the police at all – most people out setting up for the race (or just out for that matter) were cheering everyone on and/or just baffled by the mass of riders pouring down Hollywood Blvd. at that early morning hour.  By the time we rolled out at about 4:30am, the street closures were just starting to take effect, but the entire route was not closed yet.  Given the time of the morning though, traffic was a non-issue.

I was impressed by some of the riders sense of teamwork as well.  I ended up in a group of about 5 or 6 riders for the last 8 miles and we pushed hard as a group all the way to the finish.  I definitely felt a passion for cycling from everyone who took part and will definitely be doing it again next year.

On a final note, I took off for home from the SM pier at about 6:30am.  I was by myself and it’s about a 10mi straight shot down Pico to my house.  At one point, just as the sun was starting to make its presence felt, I looked around and for just a moment there was nothing but green lights and silence.  No cars, no pedestrians, nothing, just me rolling solo early on a Sunday morning.  In that instant, I was again reminded why I ride.

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L.A. County plans to use a $32 million public health grant to create nearly 20 Transit Oriented Districts along Metro’s Blue and Green lines, creating bike and pedestrian paths and amenities near rail stations to help fight obesity, as well as programs to combat tobacco use. Funding will also be provided to conduct environmental reviews for the county’s new Bike Master Plan.

And Metro’s Doug Failing talks bikes, rating Los Angeles C- for bike friendliness, and saying the city needs an A-list bicycle transportation system.

Thanks to County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, via Dr. Michael Cahn, for the heads-up.

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More on StreetsSummit and NYC DOT superstar Janette Sadik-Khan. Damien takes a last look at last Saturday’s event; a call to action one step and one cycle at a time; and a Times critic compares L.A.’s innovation-resistant DOT with Sadik-Khan’s Bloomberg-backed reinvention of the Big Apple.

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Congratulations to frequent commenter — and one of my daily reads — Tracy Wilkins of Springfield Cyclist, who was just nominated as Springfield, MO’s Sports or Fitness Blog of the Year.

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New Zealand correspondent the Trickster reports that an Auckland cyclist was killed in a classic right (our left) cross collision, the driver reportedly “did not see” the academic superstar she killed before she turned into his path; MSN NZ responds by asking if bikes should be banned from the roads.

Note to MSN — it wasn’t the bike that killed someone.

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The city finally repaves a troublesome intersection on the (hopefully) future bike boulevard. Metro says the right thing after nearly curbing one of the city’s leading cyclists. Actually, red light cameras do reduce accidents according to the LAPD. Attention Department of DIY: Painting your own bike lane could mean big trouble. A look at Long Beach’s new found bike friendliness. San Diego botches a patch job on a popular cycling route — one I rode frequently when I live down that way — that has already claimed two lives. A Bay Area Jewish group will be “people of the bike” this May; while a “non-kosher” NYC bike shop now offers a bike gear vending machine. A good look at contraflow lanes, and an animated look at wheel sucking and totally cool bike commuting. Now that’s what I call a cargo bike. Idaho’s proposed three-foot passing and anti-harassment laws are done for this year. A 17-year old Chicago cyclist is killed when an 86-year old driver crosses the center line to hit her and two other riders head on. Actually, “avid cyclist” is a perfectly good term if it accurately describes what you are. Time to tell the GOP’s anti-bike lawmakers what you think. The current auto-centric perspective has roots dating back to the birth of cycling; but at least they don’t horsewhip us anymore. A Canadian driver dismantles his truck to avoid arrest after killing a cyclist and fleeing the scene. Danish police prematurely seize unabandoned bikes and deliver them directly to a landfill. Aussie cycling champ James Williamson’s recent death was due to an undiagnosed heart problem. York — the old one, not the New — urges Respect On Our Roads. Amazingly, a UK pregnant driver who fled the scene after hitting and killing a cyclist at 70 mph receives the equivalent of probation so her baby won’t be born in prison; trust me, the baby would get over it. A driver who killed an Irish racing champ while rushing to catch a plane is sentenced to five years. Seventy percent of Taipei cyclists don’t wear helmets, while 70% of survey respondents think they should be forced to.

Finally, a Florida real estate agent was moonlighting as a cab driver last year when a passenger attacked him; when passing motorists ignored his please for help, a Spanish-speaking cyclist loaned him a cell phone to call 911. Now he’s returning the favor by giving away free bike lights to anyone who needs one.

That’s class.

The hit-and-run epidemic spreads west; a champion triathlete is seriously injured in Camarillo

A champion triathlete was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver in near CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo Tuesday night.

According to CHP officials, the incident occurred as Jordan Rapp was riding north on Lewis Road near University Drive when an unknown vehicle made a left turn directly in front of him. The driver fled after Rapp collided with the left side of the vehicle, shattering a window.

When he failed to return home, his wife called the Ventura County Sherriff’s department to report him missing, where dispatchers made the connection with the hit-and-run.

Rapp is the reigning Subaru Ironman Canada and Ironman Arizona champion, as well as the winner of the Vancouver International Half-Ironman and Coronado’s Superseal triathlon, and was scheduled to compete in the 70.3 Oceanside triathlon this weekend. He also worked with World Bicycle Relief, raising $22,541 to provide bikes for school children in Zambia.

He remains sedated on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, with significant blood loss, contusions and lacerations about the head and neck, and numerous fractures including a broken clavicle and scapula. However, Slowtwitch.com reports that his brain function is normal, with no indication of nerve or spinal cord injury.

Authorities are looking for a vehicle with a shattered left window and possible damage to the left side; they suspect the driver could have been a worker leaving a nearby farm which closed minutes earlier. Anyone with information is asked to call CHP Lt. Casey Cronin at 805/477-4100

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Newly returned bike blogger Gary Kavanaugh of Gary Rides Bikes fame discusses the benefits of Cash Out Parking at StreetSummit. Damien Newton writes an open letter to an apparently bike-challenged Avatar star. The Times writes about Kristina Ripatti, the former LAPD officer paralyzed in an on-duty shooting, who’s planning to compete in the relay section of this year’s Race Across America. Dodger owner — at least until the divorce settlement — and L.A. Marathon meister Frank McCourt plans a world-class L.A. bike race this November. Channel 7 discovers Bicycle Kitchen. You can’t believe every sign you see, especially in bike-unfriendly Sausalito. The San Francisco Examiner says a green bike lane could improve safety. A 73-year old Modesto cyclist was killed in a hit-from-behind collision after signaling for a left turn on Monday. Bill Murray rides a bike, at least when he’s in Austin. Another term that needs to die a rapid death: freak accident. Tucson considers licensing bikes. More on springtime cycling in Yellowstone. Ski Town USA could soon be a bike town. Brooklyn worshipers park semi-legally in the bike lane during services. Yet another car manufacturer decides they understand bike design better than the bike designers. If you only go by government accident statistics, the roads no one would ride look like the best roads for cycling. Maybe painting wider lines on bike lanes would make them safer. In a classic case of windshield perspective, an Australian paper reports that a driver was shocked after sideswiping a bike rider; imagine how the cyclist felt.

Finally, an Oklahoma man is convicted of stealing medical equipment and posing as an off-duty fireman in the aftermath of a tragic collision, in which a drunk hit-and-run driver ran down three cyclists, killing two. And yes, he did attempt to render aid to at least one of the victims.

Will we see justice for Robert Painter and Ovidio Morales?

In the deepening gloom of an early December evening, a lone bicyclist waited amid the bustle of rush hour traffic to cross busy Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.

He used the crosswalk, whether for convenience or the greater safety he thought it would offer.

Traffic approaching in the right lane paused, allowing him to set out across the street. But a driver in a dark colored Jeep Cherokee speeding in the left lane blew past the stopped cars and plowed into the cyclist, then sped off, leaving 40-year old Robert Painter, a Canadian citizen who made his home in North Hollywood, laying broken and bloody in the street.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics and medical workers, he died in a local hospital after clinging to life for another 10 days.

Outraged by the callousness of the incident, a police detective reached out for the public’s help in solving the crime. Yet nearly four months later, no one has been arrested, no suspect is being sought, and any leads have long ago dried up.

According to sources at the LAPD, the case has been thoroughly investigated without suspect being identified.

The police have examined security video from a nearby gas station without success; even if it had captured the fleeing SUV, limited camera angles and poor lighting conditions would have prevented officers from being able to make out the license plate. And despite extensive press coverage, no significant leads were produced.

As a result, the case is currently classified as Investigation Continued; the detective in charge promises to pursue any leads as they come in.

So a murderer still roams free.

And he’s not the only one.

On the morning of February 15th, Ovidio Morales attempted to ride his bike across Compton Blvd in Compton.

As he did, the driver of a minivan reportedly blew through the red light while talking on his cell phone, striking the 34-year old father of five and dragging him beneath his car, in a crime captured by a nearby security camera.

The driver is then shown stopping and walking back to look at Morales laying in the street, then getting back in what witnesses described as a silver or gray 1990’s Ford van, possibly an Aerostar, and driving away.

Again, the video footage failed to identify a suspect; the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the apprehension and/or conviction of the person responsible.

Both Robert Painter and Ovidio Morales have been remembered by the cycling community.

But the best way we can honor them is to keep our eyes and ears open, and do whatever we can to bring their killers to justice.

Meanwhile, DJ Wheels forwards news that Patricia Ann Izquieta has pleaded not guilty in the hit-and-run death of Donald Murphy in Newport Beach last December.

According to prosecutors, Izquieta was on Methadone and Clonazapam when she struck Murphy from behind, dragging his bike under her car for over a mile before stopping; amazingly, Murphy’s family issued a statement shortly after his death forgiving her.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 26th.

If you have any information about the Painter case, contact Valley Traffic Division Detective Doug Larkin or Detective William Bustos at 818/644-8036 or 818/644-8020, respectively. Or you can call 1-877/LAPD-24-7 (1-877/527-3247) toll free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone with information about the Morales case is urge to call Detective Michael Lennig at the Compton Sherriff’s Station, 310/605-6500 or 310/605-3516 and refer to Report No. 010-02521-2832-251.

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James Williamson, elite mountain biker and former solo 24-hour champion, died in his sleep while in South Africa yesterday. The 26-year old cyclist could not roused by his teammate the morning after completing the second stage of the Absa Cape Epic endurance cross-country race. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead; cause of death is undetermined pending an autopsy.

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The recently formed South Bay Bicycle Coalition is selected to create a bike plan for the seven-city South Bay region, with support from the LACBC. A near-90 degree wallride in Echo Park. The 5th annual Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer rolls this Sunday, with a killer loop around — or through — Mt. Washington, Silver Lake and Dodger Stadium. Evidently, I’m the new poster child for blocked bike lanes. Maybe what we need is a bike excise tax; I’m in if all the funds go toward bicycling (yeah, that’ll happen). It’s spring, when anti-veloism rears it’s ugly head. Crowdsourcing bike jerseys in Chicago. With a few more bike shops, Nashville could be just like Portland. Boise State hosts a Bicycle Congress focusing on a women’s perspective on bike commuting. A Baltimore rider says we need enforcement, not a three-foot law; I’ll take both, thank you. Carbon fiber — light, strong, sexy and keeping bike lawyers employed. The war on the car goes on, with a few small victories from the Resistance. A New Zealand writer ask why so many people hate Lycra these days. A former Aussie media mogul gives up cycling after undergoing emergency brain surgery following a bike accident. Cycling in non-London Britain declined over the last four years — except for a 27% increase in six demonstration cities. A new Brit bike lane is great, except that it’s not possible to ride in it. Cycling from the UK to the World Cup in South Africa with a big, fat mosquito-bit lip. Da Vinci’s rough-riding bike goes on display in Manchester.

Finally, keep carried objects away from your wheels, or you too could end up shocked and dazzled.

Is it time for a cyclists’ legal defense fund?

A few months back, someone contacted me looking for a lawyer to represent a cyclist who’d been injured in yet another of the city’s steady stream of hit-and-runs.

I wrote back asking for a little more information before I reached out to my contacts; meanwhile, they found someone to take the case. But it started me thinking that L.A. should have a referral service for cyclists who need legal assistance.

In fact, one of the ideas I intend to address with the LACBC is the possibility of creating just such a service, where cyclists could find a lawyer knowledgeable about cycling issues and with experience in bicycle law. And who would agree to accept an occasional pro bono case or offer legal advice now and then in exchange for referrals on potentially more lucrative cases.

Take my own case when I was a victim of a road rage assault.

I spent a couple of days calling one attorney after another looking for help, only to be repeatedly turned down because a) I’d given the driver the finger before she hit me, and b) my case simply wasn’t worth enough to compensate a lawyer for the time he or she would have to put in.

Although how any word or gesture justifies an assault with a deadly weapon is beyond me.

That last part I understood, though, as frustrating as it was; lawyers need to make a living like anyone else. I finally got help through one of my in-laws; but if he had charged a normal rate for the legal services he provided, I would have owed him far more than the meager amount the insurance company finally settled for.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful for the help I received, and appreciate that my attorney’s fee barely covered his expenses.

But a referral service could have put me in touch with someone who specialized in bike cases, and had a better understanding of how bikes work and how the rights we’re supposed to enjoy on the road are frequently infringed by dangerous and uncaring drivers.

Then there are cases where legal rights, rather than a monetary award, are the issue. And where a lawyer’s assistance is every bit as necessary.

Like defending cyclists ticketed for imagined violations that aren’t actually against the law.

Or take the recent case in Flagstaff AZ, where a rider was brushed by a city bus. Yet amazingly, the local authorities concluded the driver didn’t violate that state’s three-foot law because he was in a bike lane — even though the right side of that lane was blocked by snow, forcing him to ride near the traffic lane on the left.

Then there’s the case of a Massachusetts LAB-certified cycling instructor stopped repeatedly and arrested for the crime of riding in the roadway on a state highway, rather than on the shoulder. Or the Texas rider who has been cited, arrested and convicted for impeding traffic even though drivers could easily pass using the other lane, and now faces trial in another jurisdiction for the crime of riding on the roadway.

A New Mexico writer makes an intriguing suggestion that could offer a solution for cases like this.

His idea is for a legal defense fund that would be operated by the League of American Bicyclists, supported by the deep pockets of the bike industry.

As he envisions it, this would operate as sort of a legal strike force, evaluating cases for merit and importance, and providing assistance where warranted anywhere in the U.S.

The benefit for cyclists should be obvious.

As is the benefit to the bicycle industry, which would profit from the expansion in ridership that would undoubtedly follow the expansion and protection of riders’ rights.

It’s certainly worth considering.

Because our right to the road is only as good as the willingness of the police and courts to enforce it.

………

Drivers often say bikes should be registered to pay for their place on the road; places that do it say it just doesn’t pay.

………

More on last weekend’s StreetSummit.

Damien covers the plenary speakers (if, like me, you had no idea what plenary means, click here), and covers the Bike Plan workshop, including BAC Chair Glenn Bailey’s comments that the revised plan looks better, but still needs work.  And Gary says the time is now, let’s kick some ass.

………

Metro’s Orange Line bike study kicks off this week; there’s still time to volunteer. Danceralamode says ladies, learn to fix your own bike like she now does. Congratulations to Ted’s Manhattan Cycles in Manhattan Beach, celebrating its 50th Anniversary. A British perspective on the South Bay — aka Marvin Braude — bike path. Santa Barbara curb extensions are credited with making a key street safer for cyclists and pedestrians. A DC councilman says we’re being too easy on drivers who kill. A rider on motorized bike is hit by a car, then run over and killed by an SUV as people tried to help. U of Maryland cyclists are allowed full use of the lane, and encouraged to stay off the sidewalk. As the Witch on a Bicycle astutely points out, how can a group of cyclists impede traffic when they are traffic? It’s time to stop peddling road rage over the airwaves; maybe it’s time to ban the term avid cyclist, too. And come to think of it, bikes aren’t alternative transportation, either. Yellowstone’s snowmobile season is over, so it’s time to break out the bikes and bear spray; just don’t ride into Canada loaded for bear. You don’t have to stink after riding your bike to work. It’s time to pull on your woolies and ride. Despite the rash of cycling deaths, London’s new 20 mph speed zones are saving lives. A London cyclist is charged with involuntary manslaughter after a fatal collision with a pedestrian at a busy intersection. Brits question why bike cops need 10 hours of training before they hit the streets. Two Kiwi cyclists credit their helmets with saving their lives over the weekend. Is a person on a bike worth less than one in a car? French President Sarkozy doesn’t have to ride those darn French bikes anymore. Now that’s what I call bike parking.

Finally, Albuquerque unveils a new bike safety campaign with the theme Easy to Miss, because we are with just a little effort; an L.A. version of their 10 Things Drivers Should Know should be mandatory reading for local drivers.

Why StreetSummit was just the 2nd most inspiring thing I saw this weekend

Simply put, StreetSummit was amazing.

Even if it did mean dodging buses and an inattentive angry motorist on Olympic on the way out, and jarring most of my internal organs loose riding the potholes and broken pavement that pass for a designated bike route on Venice Blvd on the way back.

Janette Sadik-Khan during her presentation at StreetSummit

But the event itself more than made up for it, from NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn’s rock star performance, to the assembled mass of bike and pedestrian experts and advocates eager to learn and share their own knowledge.

I’ll share more of my thoughts another time. For now, allow me to thank everyone who made this event possible, as well as the speakers and presenters who gave me far more to think about than I’ve been able to filter through my overly clogged gray matter on the few hours sleep that followed.

And a particular thanks to the LACBC, whose bike valet service allowed me to leave my car at home and take that bone-jarring ride. Because somehow, driving there just seemed so wrong in so many ways.

Panelists (from left) David Vahedi, a note-taking Aurisha Smolarski, Kent Strumpell and Marcel Porras

On a more personal level, I want to especially thank Marcel Porras, Aurisha Smolarski, Kent Strumpell and David Vahedi, who shared their insights and expertise on the political process in the workshop I hosted. As well as everyone who attended and helped turn an hour-long session into one that felt at least a couple hours too short.

As expected, I learned a lot more from all of you than you got from me. And if you’re one of the 23 people who put your email address on the interest list, you can expect to hear from me in the next week or two; if you don’t — or if you have any other questions or comments — email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com.

But as for that headline, Saturday’s StreetSummit was followed by Sunday’s L.A. Marathon, which took a new Stadium to the Sea course that brought it just a block from my apartment. And offered a 5 am wake-up call courtesy of the loudspeakers from the set-up crew.

Leaders of the Elite Men's group

It was impressive to see those world-class runners pass by. As well as the great mass of people pushing themselves beyond what they thought they could do.

I was also surprised to see the large number of cyclists participating in an event that had billed as being bikeless this year.

It's hard to see the big smile this competitor gave me when he saw my camera

But what blew me away were the wheelchair competitors, some of whom raced up the small hill near our home with a smile, while others struggled up one agonizing pedal crank or wheel push at a time, the pain of each and every accumulated mile clearly showing on their faces — yet refusing to quit.

For the cyclists, it was a small hill; for many others, it was huge

And humbling me for every time that one more mile felt like one mile too much.

They showed to me, and to everyone applauding on the side of the road, that three pedal-cranked wheels — or two slapped by gloved hands — can be every bit as cool as our two. And a lot better than any four.

I’ve said more than once on here that I usually ride solo.

But I’d roll with these guys anytime.

………

The Times architecture critic raves about NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s talk at Occidental College on Thursday; the Urbanophile was clearly inspired as well. Streetsblog provides a full audio recording of the speech, definitely worth a listen if you missed it. Inspired by StreetSummit, Riding in Riverside promises to share an online tour of our oft ignored neighbor to the east; I’m looking forward to it. Thanks to Curbed LA for the heads-up that City Council President Eric Garcetti tweets that some stimulus funds will be used to help keep cyclists safer — and concludes “Go bikes!” Another bike thief — and stroller stealer — busted in the Westchester area. An Philadelphia-area teenager is killed in a collision with a bus an hour after getting a new bike; police suspect the brakes weren’t working. Mississippi’s governor signs a new three-foot passing and anti-harassment law — and as Cyclelicious points out, it also includes a ban on blocking bike lanes — while Illinois considers toughening theirs and adding an anti-harassment element. A cool head gets a good result following a close call. Republican legislators ridicule DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and spending for bike infrastructure projects. A look at bike and pedestrian safety in San Angelo, Tx. Anchorage plans an aggressive new bike plan designed to double the number of cyclists while cutting car-bike collisions by a third. Halfway from Alaska to Argentina by bike. A bike route planning website that isn’t Google comes to Toronto. Britain’s outgoing chief medical officer calls for an 800% increase in cycling. London’s Guardian looks at the success of cycling in Britain; I’d argue that it’s not a success as long as riders keep getting killed. A new recycled-rubber coated bike rack won’t scratch your paint. Thirty South African cyclists set off to mark Mandela Day. Thousands of riders take over the freeways in West Australia.

Finally, what Lance should have done instead of boosting Tony Kornheiser’s ratings, while a local DC area rider says apology not accepted. And Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio network, bans all discussion of cycling — professional or recreational — as a result of the controversy; guess they never heard of anyone running errands or commuting by bike.

And on a personal note, congratulations to GT, who ends his own personal 383-day recession by starting a new job this week.

Kornheiser makes nice, Lance lets him off easy

Maybe they did a lot of talking offline, and ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser convinced Lance Armstrong just how sorry he was for urging motorists to run cyclists down with their cars.

And maybe Kornheiser truly is sorry. Maybe he meant it at the beginning of his broadcast when he reminded listeners not to take anything he says seriously.

Boys and girls, this is a comedy show. It is a often a show of outsize outrage, it is often a show of sarcasm, it is often a show of subversion. The only purpose in this show — and occasionally it’s even intellectual, occasionally, though that’s not the intent — the only reason this show exists is to entertain you and hopefully make you laugh.

But you’d think he would have enough sense to realize that some things just aren’t funny. And that some people take comments like that seriously — and I’m not talking about the reaction of the cycling community.

Especially since he says his own daughter sometimes rides a bike to work.

Personally, I think he needs a serious timeout, just like any other petulant child. And personally, I think Lance let him off way too easy.

But listen – and decide — for yourself.

Lance Armstrong on the Tony Kornheiser Show

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