Archive for April 18, 2010

Update — Carson cyclist killed in alleged drunken hit-and-run

A cyclist is dead, a driver faces a drunk driving murder charge.

The news finally broke this morning that the cyclist critically injured in a hit-and-run collision in Carson has died, and the driver has been arrested.

According to KCBS Channel 2, 40-year old William Keith Square was driving north on Santa Fe Blvd when he struck a cyclist at East 218th Place in Carson about 9:05 last night.

The Times reports that the victim, so far identified only as an adult man from Long Beach, was riding north on Santa Fe when he was struck, and was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. A bystander wrote down the license number of the dark-colored SUV as the driver fled the scene, leading to Square’s arrest at his home in Long Beach.

Square is being held at the Carson Sheriff’s station on charges of gross vehicular homicide while intoxicated.

Breaking news — cyclist critically injured in Carson hit-and-run

It’s happened again.

According to KABC Channel 7, a cyclist suffered critical injuries in a collision with an SUV on Santa Fe Avenue in Carson Saturday night, after which the driver fled the scene.

More information as it becomes available.

Your weekend reading list

The hit-and-run driver who left Roadblock lying injured in the street pleads no contest and receives a slap on the wrist —  and gets to keep his license. After years of reports that the LAPD didn’t take bike thefts seriously, things have clearly changed. Bikeside puts out a call for cyclists to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council. Cosmo — the Cycle Chic, not the magazine — wants to know if any Moms out there would be interested in a daytime Mama ride with kids; maybe they should read these safety tips for cycling kids and teens first. A Riverside writer has a pleasant experience cycling in San Francisco; boarding the train was another matter. Streetfilms takes a look at Long Beach. If you want to stop smartphone users from texting while driving, there’s an app for that; can we install it on every phone? Please?

Turns out a center divider on a narrow street actually encourages drivers to go faster. Tucson’s first cyclovia rolls this Sunday; ours is scheduled for this September. A Missouri lawyer publishes a book about how not to screw up your accident claim. Seventy wounded Iraq and Afghanistan vets will take part in a 110 mile ride to Gettysburg this month. Brooklyn cyclists call for a new bike lane after an 18-year old cyclist is killed on Flatbush Avenue. An Oregon parish creates the Episcopal Church’s first two-wheeled liturgy. Following a fatality, an Austin store owner says Please Be Kind to Cyclists.

Yet another cycling fatality in London, as a female rider is killed by a bus on Oxford Street, where other riders had predicted that would happen. A UK writer learns about police bike training from the inside, and why some apparent violations get enforced while others don’t. Town Mouse takes a friend for her first ride on a borrowed bicycle, and laments all those forgotten bikes yearning to breathe free. An open letter to Toronto candidates urging Complete Streets for all road users. A new website helps you find the perfect international bike tour.

Finally, a Danish cyclist teaches a busload of Dutch tourists and their driver not to park in the bike lane. Which reminds me of a story

Mark your calendar for Oct. 23 when the Tour de Fat visits L.A. for the first time

I don’t do press releases.

Not that I don’t get a lot of them these days. I seem to find them popping up in my inbox with surprising regularity these days.

But for the most part, it’s just a missive from some corporate hack trying to get me to shill a new MP3 player or New York travel, or some other thing that’s only tangentially related to bikes. And even on the rare occasion when it is actually bike related, it’s usually just an attempt to get a little free advertising.

Today, I’m going to make an exception, if only in hopes that they may reward me with a few bottles of my favorite beer, which just happens to come from my hometown — although this one runs a close second.

On the other hand, it’s also for a good cause.

The Tour de Fat has been rolling across the U.S. for 11 years now. Now finally, the nation’s biggest and best roving bike fest is coming to the nation’s second largest city, which often treats its cyclists like #2, as well.

From all reports, it’s a great time. And it will help promote cycling in the city at a time when we desperately need promoting, while contributing to the coffers of local non-profit bike organizations.

And one lucky Angeleno will get free bike in exchange for promising to live car-free for the next year.

So herewith is the full shill, fresh from my inbox.

New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat Spins into 13 Cities this Season

Come ride, dance and experience the ultimate freedom: trading your car for a bike!

Ft. Collins, CO, April 15, 2010 – Clip a card in your spokes and fluff the rainbow wig …Tour de Fat is back for its 11th season! New Belgium Brewing’s traveling celebration of all things bicycle rolls through 13 cities this year, raising money and sharing bike love. At each Tour de Fat stop, one person will help honor mankind’s greatest invention, the bicycle, by handing over their car keys and committing to a year of car-free living.

For the fourth year in a row, Tour de Fat is looking for volunteers to accept the swapper challenge. One volunteer in each city will give up their car and receive a hand-built Black Sheep (http://www.blacksheepbikes.com/) commuter bike. The volunteer is chosen after submitting a video or essay describing their desire to live sans-car for a year.  To submit an application, log on to http://www.newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat.

“The car-for-bike swap is the pinnacle of the day, illustrating one person’s true belief in all that a bicycle can offer,” said Bryan Simpson, spokesman for New Belgium. “Bikes represent freedom, fun, fitness and folly while helping the environment. It’s a way of life that we live and share at New Belgium.”

Tour de Fat kicks off in Chicago on June 26 and wraps up in Austin on October 30, with first-year debuts in two cities, Milwaukee and Los Angeles. The tour originated in Ft. Collins, Colorado to increase awareness and participation in cycling as a sustainable form of transportation.  Since then, it has become a rite of passage celebrated by bike enthusiasts of all skill levels across the land.

Why Tour de Fat is a Must-Attend Event:

  • Tour de Fat encourages everyone to embrace their inner-cyclist and ride the streets as a cohesive carnival of creativity. Each show begins with a costumed bike parade that stops traffic and turns heads along the way.  (Costumes are highlyencouraged!)
  • Tour de Fat seeks to leave as small an environmental imprint as possible and composts and recycles waste from each tour stop.  The waste diversion rate for 2009 was 94 percent.
  • Tour de Fat is free to participants, but beer and merchandise proceeds go to local cycling non-profits. So far, Tour de Fat events have raised more than $1.25 million for philanthropy.
  • All musical acts perform on a solar-powered stage with decorations made from recycled materials, trucks and transport use biofuel sourced from recycled waste oils, and all vendors operate off the grid.
  • This is a pro-bike celebration, not an anti-car rally…non-cyclists are more than welcome to join the festivities.

See http://www.newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat for the Tour de Fat credo, schedules, videos and to submit your entry to swap your gas guzzler for a shiny new bicycle.  Also visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Belgium-Tour-de-Fat/10150099069050417?ref=ts.

Tour de Fat 2010 will cycle through each of the following cities:

June 26 – Chicago, Palmer Square Park

July 3 – Milwaukee, Humboldt Park

July 10 – Minneapolis, Loring Park

July 31 – Seattle, Gasworks Park

August 14 – Portland, Waterfront Park

August 21 – Boise, Anne Morrison Park

September 4 – Fort Collins, Mothership

September 11 – Denver, City Park

September 25 – San Francisco, Lindley Meadows in Golden Gate Park

October 2 – San Diego, Balboa Park

October 9 – Tempe, Tempe Town Park

October 23 – Los Angeles, L.A. Historic Park

October 30 – Austin, Fiesta Gardens

About New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces eight year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Ranger IPA, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Mothership Wit and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases.  In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship.  For more information, visit www.newbelgium.com.

A little this, a little that — Mionske on Kornheiser, a culture change at LADOT

It’s a Bicycling Bob Mionske Tax Day double-header.

First up, the Bike Lawyer explains how — and more importantly, where — you can legally ride side-by-side; turns out it’s only illegal in three states. And California isn’t one of them.

As an aside, the new LAPD bike training module that went online at the end of last month specifies that L.A. cyclists are allowed to ride two-abreast. So if a cop tells you otherwise, either he or she hasn’t finished the training — due to be competed by the end of this month — or wasn’t paying attention. But I wouldn’t recommend arguing the point. They have full discretion to handcuff you if they think it’s warranted or feel threatened; according to the Department, that isn’t going to change.

Next up, he takes up the recent Kornheiser dust up, in which the ESPN radio host suggested that drivers rough up riders just because, well, we deserve it. You know, because we wear Spandex and run red lights and stuff.

Yeah, that’s a good reason to assault and potentially injure or kill someone. Although I’ve never heard anyone call the countless short, fat and/or middle-aged guys in Lakers jerseys you see all over L.A. Kobe Bryant wannabes.

As usual, though, Mionske gets it right.

But what if the character’s wrath is directed at a group that has historically been the target of violence? Suppose, for example, that the character expresses his dislike of women by telling listeners to go home and beat their wives? Or to go out and find a stranger to rape? Is his act still funny? Or suppose he goes on a rant about how much he dislikes gays, and tells his listeners to go out cruising with some friends looking for gay men to bash—is it still humorous? What if the rant is urging listeners to burn down a synagogue? Or suppose the target of his wrath is African-Americans, and the radio personality is urging a lynching? Is anybody still laughing? 
Of course not (or at least I certainly hope not). Nobody would consider those to be jokes or satire or entertainment, because the subject matter of the alleged entertainment is indistinguishable from real acts of violence, historical and contemporary, threatened and actual…

Daily, cyclists have drinks lobbed at them, have doors maliciously opened by passing motorists, are run off the road, and even run down, simply because they are on a bike. Sometimes, they’re even “just tapped,” as ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser recently urged. Perhaps the most common threat of violence against cyclists is one we’re all too familiar with—the buzz, where the driver passes within inches of us at high speed. Occasionally, a driver may truly have miscalculated the distance, or just plain didn’t see the cyclist. More often, I believe, the driver is intentionally threatening the cyclist. You can be sure it’s intentional when the driver checks his rear-view mirror for your reaction. In fact, I’m convinced that some “accidents” are buzzes gone awry—the driver intended to scare the cyclist, but didn’t expect that the close pass would result in a collision. And New Zealand police say that drivers are intentionally targeting cyclists. I’m convinced that’s a problem that’s not just limited to New Zealand . It happens here too.

Personally, I think Lance let Tony off way too easy.

But as Mionske points out, unless the FCC suddenly starts taking action against out-of-control self-described comedians who incite violence — or station owners suddenly grow a pair and hold their employees accountable for what they say on the air, despite the profits they bring in — nothing is going to change.

That is, until one of their listeners actually follows through on this kind of talk. And that’s when a good lawyer — hello, Bob — will go after the misguided purveyors of this kind of crap.

And maybe then we’ll put an end to it once and for all.

……..

The latest email from the LACBC has some important notes.

(Speaking of notes, maybe the Bike Coalition could try putting a copy of these emails on the website, so people like me can link to them.)

First, the LACBC has posted a petition online telling Mayor Villaraigosa it’s time for a culture change at LADOT — or whatever agency replaces and/or absorbs LADOT, given the current budget issues.

As the petition points out, the agency has a long history of favoring vehicular traffic at the expense of other road users. And it’s long past time for a new approach that puts the city and its people ahead of the countless cars that are destroying it.

I urge you to sign it.

You’ll find my signature right there at #71. And no, you don’t have to make a donation, despite what the petition host implies.

Next, the state Assembly Transportation Committee is scheduled to hear Assembly Bill 1951, which would toughen penalties for careless drivers who injure other people.  There’s still time to fax a letter in support of the measure today to committee chairperson Bonnie Lowenthal at 916/319-2154; click the link for a sample letter.

……..

The driver who hit Louis “Birdman” Deliz last December and left him laying injured in the street goes on trial in Beverly Hills on the 23rd. Damien asks if street cleaning will be LADOT’s excuse to endlessly delay bike corrals. The Anonymous Cyclist offers a reminder about Good Sam’s Blessing of the Bicycles. The second annual Bike Day LA comes up on May 2nd. More on the TranspoComm’s approval of what could be the city’s first bike corral. Changing minds via the comment section in San Diego. A detailed look at why women bike, and why they don’t. Zeke encounters a jerk on his rear wheel; I’m envious of any road where you see just three cars in five miles. An Ohio congressman blames his recent anti-bike outburst on LaTourrette syndrome. A DC video shows how not to cut off a bike, while a nearby county replaces a crappy non-standard bike lane with crappy non-standard sharrows. The DC cyclist killed by an 11,000 pound National Guard truck during the recent Nuclear Summit was ruled collateral damage. A Virginia cyclist is killed after running a red light. The University of Colorado says don’t be a DIRC — Dangerous, Irresponsible Rider on Campus. After Arizona cyclists complain about a dusty detour, they get banned from the road. A Toronto mayoral candidate calls for a $20 to $30 annual registration fee for bikes. A first-hand report from a London cyclist on a deliberate attack by a road raging driver; the result was 6 months in jail and two-year ban on driving. Make your plans now for a two-month, 4,100 mile circumnavigation of the British coastline.

Finally, a writer in the Baltimore Sun says instead of a three-foot passing rule, bikes should be banned from some roadways; yeah, no point in requiring motorists to drive safely when you can blame their victims instead.

And I don’t need a mirror to know I’ve got two-plus tons of hulking, smog-belching steel behind me, thank you.

Yesterday’s ride, on which topography was my co-pilot

I had a great ride yesterday.

It was one of those rare days when I found myself communicating with the drivers and pedestrians around me — and not that way, for a change — as we waved one another through busy intersections and signaled our thanks for little roadway courtesies.

Then there was the brief, but pleasant conversation about the idiocy of passing drivers with a passing pedestrian, as six cars blew through the crosswalk after I had stopped to let him cross — despite the fact that pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right-of-way in every circumstance here in California.

And yes, that means we have to stop, too.

On the other hand, it was only a couple of hills that made the difference between making it home with a smile on my face, and maybe not making it home at all.

The first came on my way out, just over a mile from my home.

The street I take through the Westwood area, Ohio, goes up and down a brief series a hills before culminating in a short, steep climb on the last block before Westwood Blvd.

I ride with more caution than usual on that block, as drivers tend to pull out suddenly from alleys and curbs, and dart across the road in search of a highly prized parking space near the Coffee Bean. Normally, that would suggest taking the lane, but I’ve learned the hard way that drivers there will just go around me anyway as my speed slows going uphill, jumping over to the wrong side of the road and cutting around me so closely that I’d rather take my chances in the door zone.

This time, I nearly won the door prize, as a driver threw her door open directly in my path without the slightest look in her mirror.

Fortunately, I was on that section where gravity slows me from well over 25 mph at the bottom of the hill to just over 10 mph at the crest. Had it occurred on level ground, where I usually cruise at around 18 to 20 mph, her door would have nailed me, knocking me in front of the oncoming cars rushing to make the light.

But as it was, I’d slowed enough that I was able to react in time, if only barely.

And in biking, barely is usually good enough.

Then on my way back home, I was riding back up San Vicente Blvd in Santa Monica, on that long, gradual climb between 7th and 26th.

I’ve learned to keep a close eye on the cars waiting between the wide median islands in the center of the roadway — what New Orleanians call the neutral ground — because they tend to dart across once vehicular traffic clears. And often without looking for bikes first, despite one of the area’s most heavily travelled bike lanes.

Sure enough, I saw an SUV waiting beside the grassy island at the next crossroad. Once the last car passed, she gunned her engine and cut in front of me without ever looking in my direction.

On level ground, my speed would have carried me directly into her path. But as it was, the long climb had reduced my speed just enough that I was able to make a panic stop a few feet from the face of her highly startled passenger.

And instead of ending my day as a hood ornament, I put it behind me and continued home. Even if I did have to resist the temptation to chase her down and employ a few choice expletives in explaining the necessity of watching for all road users.

So sometimes, it’s skill that gets us through the most difficult situations. Sometimes it’s luck.

And sometimes, it’s just topography.

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Cyclists help beautify the streets they ride in Glendale. A handful of voters pick traffic calming as the factor that would most make them more comfortable riding on a major street. Has it really been a year since the infamous Hummer Incident — and almost that long since we were promised a police report? LADOT explains the thought process behind the bike corral project, which will move forward to the full City Council. Stephen Box takes on the problem of bike parking, or the lack thereof. Not to mention the lack of bike planning in Metro’s new Westlake/MacArthur Park development. Benecia approves, then cancels, a competitive pro/am bike event scheduled for June. A new car technology could see you and brake in time even if the driver doesn’t. Riders love LaHood, but truckers don’t; well maybe not all truckers. A Boston biker gets hit by a red light-running…cyclist. A man in America’s most dangerous state for cyclists is seriously injured when his bike hits a parked truck, but he doesn’t. One of my favorite Cycle Chic writers asks if the government will embrace cycling, or do we all just have to be brave? A flawed new bike lane debuts in Baltimore. A pseudo Sarah Palin rides the Tour de Fat back in my hometown. It’s spring, when cyclists fight tourists for space on the Brooklyn Bridge; sounds like summer in Santa Monica. The Brooklyn Borough President — who travels in a chauffeured SUV— say NYDOT Commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan just wants to make life harder for drivers. But despite the recent tripling of New York’s bike lanes, only 5% of the city’s streets have them. A Brooklyn man faces criminally negligent homicide charges for running down a cyclist on Flatbush Avenue, which is in that other 95%. Police threaten to cut bikes from sign posts in Brooklyn. Debunking the biking myths in Spokane. Honestly, we shouldn’t have to envy Tucson this much. Biking the first and last mile. A Brit cyclist is fined £700 plus court costs after running a red light; of course, swearing at the police and trying to ride away didn’t help. Maybe bike training for constables isn’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe the best way to talk a grandmother into biking is tell her she needs a mobility scooter. The Four Season’s says ask your concierge about biking in Budapest.

Finally, the rookie NYPD cop who pushed a Critical Mass cyclist off his bike — then brought bogus charges against the biker — goes on trial in New York.

Today’s Nuclear Summit ignores a more urgent holocaust

When I open the administrative page for this blog, one of the first things I see is a list of the top 10 search terms people have used to find it.

Yesterday, eight of those terms represented people looking for information about Jorge Alvardo, the Bahati team pro cyclist killed by an 18 year old street racer in Highland, CA last week. So far today, nine of the top 10 search terms were about the same subject.

And that same pattern was reflected throughout the past weekend, ever since I wrote about his death on Friday.

Of course, that’s nothing new.

I see the same thing every time I write about a high profile incident, whether it involves someone well known, or a local physician testing his brakes in a Brentwood canyon.

I just wish I saw the same level of interest when I write about ordinary cyclists who lose their lives in less inflammatory incidents.

And that’s the problem.

We’ve reached a point in this country when the death of a cyclist or a pedestrian or even a family killed in a collision with a motor vehicle barely makes the news. We may pause for a moment to consider the tragedy, whisper a small prayer if we’re so inclined, then we go on with our lives, barely aware of the continuing holocaust that takes place on our streets every day.

In 2008, the last year statistics are available, 716 cyclists were killed on America’s roadways. Along with 4,378 pedestrians, 5,290 motorcyclists and 26,689 drivers and passengers. And another 188 people killed on the roads who couldn’t be classified for one reason or another.

Don’t bother doing the math, I’ll do it for you.

That’s 37,261 people killed on the streets and highways of the U.S. alone — let alone the hundreds of thousands killed around the world each and every year.

The real tragedy is that’s good news, because that number represents a drop of almost 10% from the 41,259 people killed in 2007.

Yes, over 37,000 people — not just statistics, but real human beings with hopes and dreams, families and friends — killed by motor vehicles in a single year is an improvement.

And I only hope it turns your stomach as much to read that sentence as it did mine to write it.

Now consider this.

The total number of people killed in nuclear attacks since the end of World War II 65 years ago is zero.

That’s right. Zero.

Which is not to say that the nuclear summit taking place in Washington, DC today isn’t important. Nuclear weapons, whether in the hands of nations or terrorists, have the potential to kill tens of thousands, if not millions, in just seconds. And reducing or eliminating that threat should be one of the highest priorities of every government around the world.

But yesterday, Constance Holden, a 68-year old woman riding her bike, was struck and killed by a 5-ton National Guard truck providing security for one of the summit’s many motorcades just five blocks from the White House.

A conference intended to prevent one holocaust ended up contributing to another. Yet like almost every other death on our streets, it barely made a blip in the news outside Washington.

We’ve gotten used to it. And accept it as part of our daily lives, just another risk we take when we leave our homes every day.

37,271.

That’s good news. Right?

Thanks to Noah Salamon for the heads-up on the death of Constance Holden in Washington DC yesterday.

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Condolences to the men and women of the LAPD, who buried one of their own today, and the family and loved ones of Officer Robert J. Cottle, killed while on duty with his Marine Reserve unit in Afghanistan last month.

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The LACBC is looking for volunteers to conduct a survey of pre-sharrow cyclist behavior. Bike corrals come up for a vote at Wednesday’s TranspoComm meeting. Hoover Street goes on a road diet as LADOT celebrates 1.64 miles of new bikes lanes — only 48.36 to go to match what NYC will do this year; on the other hand, L.A. Eco-Village reported it first and better. Big changes could be underway at L.A.’s Department of Planning; how that will affect bike planning is TBD. Long Beach’s bike-friendly mayor — at least judging by results — is up for re-election Tuesday. Photos from last weekend’s San Diego Custom Bicycle Show. The bigger, better newly transplanted U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame opens in Davis later this month. An Arizona driver gets four years for the death of a popular cyclist and soccer coach. An Anchorage woman commits to not driving for a month by freezing her car keys in a bucket of water; I hope she took the alarm remote off first. Most cyclists fit into more than one box. Advice from Chicago for beginning bike commuters. Evidently, biking with a Burley in tow is a rare thing around Beantown. Two South Carolina teenagers face felony assault charges after they push a cyclist off his bike from a passing car; read the comments only if you have a strong stomach and need to feel superior to someone. A Georgia State University cyclist says roads are made for cars, and Critical Mass should get a permit. Last weekend marked the Blessing of the Bicycles in New York and Toronto; ours is coming up next month. A Toronto cyclist dies a week after falling from his bike. Montreal may finally get bike racks on its buses. Photos from Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix classic. Britain has spent £2.4 million to build an online bike route planner, despite the fact there’s already a better one. What Brit cyclists should ask for from their politicians. From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like London’s bike scene is thriving, while Dr. Who has nothing on the city’s tweed-clad cyclists. Dublin’s bike share program may be the world’s most successful; only two bikes have been stolen and both were recovered. Adelaide cyclists plan a memorial ride for the third South Australian cyclist killed this year. Turns out low-fat milk is the ideal post-ride recovery drink — and chocolate milk is even better.

Finally, it turns out there’s an equivalent site to all those hot girls on bikes websites for you hot man lovers out there; oddly, my photo isn’t on there.

Go figure.

Is the Backbone Bikeway Network all it’s cracked up to be?

A local cyclist offers an intriguing analysis of why the Backbone Bikeway Network may not be the best thing for L.A.

I am simultaneously inspired and troubled by the hubbub regarding the Backbone Bikeway Network (BBN). It’s inspiring to see so many bicyclists working together for an ambitious unified citywide vision. On the other hand, some of the supporting rhetoric troubles me because it is packed with extremely simplified reactive viewpoints that are oblivious to the very large and very blatant barriers to progress for bicycling in Los Angeles…

Most importantly, although riding on secondary streets is not the same as riding on arterials, people who characterize it as inferior are wrong. A simple glance at the design guidelines in the New Draft Bike Plan reveals physical solutions that prioritize secondary streets for bicyclists, de-prioritizing them for auto-traffic. We don’t have to subscribe to the auto-oriented hierarchy of roads (i.e. freeway-highway-arterial-collector-residential). We are bicyclists! We are free! We can invent our own system. We can embrace the solutions that turn collector streets into bike boulevards and create a new world for ourselves, rather than futilely struggling to be part of one that is hostile to us.

Possibly the most egregious part of BBN support comes with the claim that it represents a “plan with a backbone.” Planning is more than drawing lines on a map. In a city like Los Angeles, it entails a mind-numbingly awesome amount of research and work, collaborating with various government branches and assessing the needs of myriad communities. Creating a plan that incorporates all competing interests takes time, effort and energy—not to mention risk of public shaming, which has happened plenty within the zany LA bicycle world. It isn’t easy to hash out specific solutions and details in a room with other people who disagree with you. It is much easier to insulate oneself in a room where everyone agrees with you, and it is even easier to mistake that insulation as strength.

It’s a well written and insightful criticism of a plan that has admittedly received an overwhelmingly positive response from the cycling community.

Myself included.

And whether or not you support the Backbone Bikeway Network, it’s worth reading all the way through.

From my perspective, what we need are a mix of arterials and secondary roads; overemphasis on one or the other won’t meet the needs of the city’s riders.

While many cyclists — myself included — prefer riding side streets, others may not, for a number of reasons. One of the many problems with L.A.’s roadway system is that side streets often stop and start frequently, and a street that is safe, wide and quiet can become narrow and crowded within just a few blocks. As a result, it can frequently be a challenge to get from one part of the city to another without riding primary streets.

And that, in a nutshell, is the biggest problem I, and many other cyclists, had with the last draft of the bike plan. While I liked the idea of bike-friendly streets and the collector system it offered, it lacked the viable cross-city routes we need to get to and from work and school, or just visit the many great neighborhoods and communities that make up Los Angeles.

It is also a misconception that the Backbone Network will require bike lanes along major boulevards, or the removal of parking or traffic lanes. Rather, it is, as I understand it — because I was not involved in either its creation or promoting it after — simply the recognition that these are streets that cyclists will use, and that they should be optimized in some way to make them safer and more convenient for riders.

In some areas, that could take dramatic forms, such as reconfiguring the roadway, while in others it may be nothing more than improved traffic signalization, better enforcement and signs saying bikes are allowed full use of the lane.

By itself, the Backbone Bikeway Network is not the solution to anything. But integrated into a network of bike lanes, bike boulevards, bike-friendly streets and off-road paths such as the Orange Line Bike Path or the planned Expo Line Bikeway, it could provide a way to ride safely through your own neighborhood, to get to and from the local market, or get to any other neighborhood throughout the city.

If the revised plan accomplishes that, it will be a huge step forward; if not, it will fail.

But if nothing else, the Backbone Network has succeeded beyond all expectations in one key way. For the first time, it had the entire city talking about making a place for bikes on the streets of L.A.

And that alone was an act of genius.

……..

The Press-Enterprise offers the most detailed report yet on the tragic death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado last week. The comments are another matter; some go out of their way to blame the victim for being on the road — or perhaps the planet.

……..

Two weeks, two wins — after winning the Tour of Flanders last weekend, Fabian Cancellara wins in a spectacular breakaway on the cobblestones of the legendary Paris-Roubaix classic, aka the Hell of the North.

……..

The UCLA Bicycle Academy looks at the new League of Bicycling Voters Los Angeles. Just because a rider is a woman or dressed for work doesn’t mean she can’t drop you. Is Orange County bike-friendly? The owner of the Tour de France will take over TV production for the Amgen Tour of California, which should mean better coverage for this year’s race. A New York bike messenger flew into a rage after chasing down a hit-and-run limo driver; naturally, the cyclist is arrested but the driver who hit him isn’t. A DC cyclist is intentionally run down by a driver who got out of his car and yelled an obscenity before fleeing the scene; fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured. Why Chattanooga is really is bike-friendly. Even in the 18th most bike-friendly city, cyclists face road rage and harassment. The senior Senator from Minnesota is a cyclist — and we had to learn this from a fashion magazine? The Miami schmuck musician who killed a cyclist earlier this year tried to flee the scene at over 80 mph with a blood alcohol level of .122. David Letterman’s alma mater is being terrorized by a bike-riding butt slapper. Baton Rouge hosts the first ever Velo Louisiane. In today’s sports news, it’s Cubs one bike valet, Dodgers zero. Biking through Alaska’s Denali National Park. While the British government is trying to get more people on bikes, they’re trying to get the postal service off. If cycling is to succeed, it must be reclaimed from “angry men with tiny bums.”

Finally, Aussie PSAs tell phoning and tweeting drivers, “Don’t be a dickhead.”

Pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado killed by street racer in San Bernardino area

Bahati rider Jorge Alvarado, from the VeloNews forum

These are the stories I hate to write.

Yesterday morning, a rising pro cyclist was killed in a collision with “car full of teenagers” in Highland, CA, northeast of San Bernardino.

Jorge Alvardo, a 27-year old native of Mexico living in Ontario, was on a training ride, riding on the shoulder of southbound Greenspot Road. A car headed north lost control, crossed over to the other side and continued up the west shoulder, apparently hitting Alvarado head on. According to the Press-Enterprise, he died in a field about a half-mile east of Santa Ana Canyon Rd.

The collision occurred at approximately 9:52 am. Drugs and alcohol don’t appear to have been a factor; however, late reports indicate the 18-year old driver was racing with two other cars when he lost control at over 70 mph. Amazingly, no arrests have been made.

Alvarado was one of  several cyclists added to the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team earlier this year, including former Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, who was later stripped of his victory. The team was founded by former Major Motion and Rock Racing star Rahsaan Bahati, a Compton native and the 2008 U.S. National Pro Champion in Criterium. The team’s Facebook page is rapidly filing with condolence messages.

Condolences to his friends, family and teammates.

Thanks to the Trickster for the heads-up.

Update: The latest news from the Press-Enterprise says the collision occurred at 9:45 am. Rather than “a car full of teenagers,” there was one passenger in the car that hit Alvarado, driven by 18-year old Patrick Roraff; all three cars were driven by seniors from a local, as yet unnamed, high school.

According to VeloNews, Floyd Landis and Bahati Foundation CEO notified Alvarado’s brother of the death, as of this morning, he was still trying to notify their parents in rural Mexico.

Alvarado won the recent UCLA Road Race and finished 5th in the Redlands Classic Pro/Am Criterion, and was scheduled to compete in the Dana Point Grand Prix this weekend.

Team Director Rick Crawford summed it up in the VeloNews story.

“For the love of God, you don’t want to wait until someone is gone to let someone know how you felt about them,” said Crawford.

“If there’s anything positive about this, it’s that he was on top when his life ended,” said Crawford. “He was winning races and he was on the team and loving it.”

Read more at VeloNews.

Update: The Press-Enterprise has posted a more detailed report online.

……..

On the other side of the country, Boston cyclists have suffered a rash of serious collisions, with at least one fatality.

A 22-year old cyclist described by his father as  “very, very safe” rider was killed in a collision with an MTA bus. The incident evidently occurred when he struck trolley tracks embedded in the street, throwing him under the bus.

The stories absurdly note that he was not wearing a helmet; for anyone unclear on the subject, a helmet will not save anyone’s life if they get run over by a bus.

Meanwhile, as noted last night, another Boston cyclist suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash with a car in the same area.

……..

These incidents may have happened on the other side of the country or far from L.A. in San Bernardino County, but they offer a warning to cyclists everywhere.

This time of year, people seem to be focused more on enjoying the spring weather and less on driving safely. I’ve noticed it lately on my own rides, as I find myself dodging far more cars and having more close calls than usual.

So be careful out there.

Drivers may not be watching for you. So you have to be watching for them.

Thanks to Peter for more information on the Boston collisions. And note that I try not to use the word accident — virtually every collision involves unsafe road conditions, or carelessness or traffic violations on someone’s part.

See you tonight at Eco-Village for the Streetsblog fundraiser

Image stolen from LA Streetsblog; artwork by Joe Linton with Colleen Corcoran.

Friday night L.A.’s leading transportation blogger, Damien Newton, will host the first ever Streetsblog fundraiser at Eco-Village.

Rather than try to tell the story myself, I’ll let Damien fill you in.

The beer is chilled and sitting in the (gasp) car.  The sponsors are lined up for the raffle.  Heck, there’s even rumors that we’re going to have a band for part of the evening.  Tomorrow night from 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. is the first Streetsblog fundraiser at the Eco Village, 117 Bimini Place.  Anyone not familiar with the Eco-Village should click on this link for directions, and note that it’s a couple of blocks away from the Beverly/Vermont Red Line Station.  The suggested donation is $25, but feel free to give whatever fits in your budget.

A lot of people have helped make this event happen.  A pretty awesome sounding buffet is being put together by a pair of caterers, Dawn Carey Newton and Deborah Murphy, with an Eco-Salad and some home cookin’ from my house as well.  We’ll have beer from our best friends at New Belgium Brewing and a non-alcoholic drinks courtesy of Trader Joe’s.  In addition to some good drinks, we’ll have a presentation including the handing out of four Streetsie Awards to Biking In L.A., the Eco-Village, City of Lights and the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, the debuting of the first L.A. Streetfilm that was written and produced right here in L.A., and a raffle with prizes sponsored by the Eco Home, Eco-Village and Orange 20 Bikes.

So if you’re looking for me tonight, I’ll be the one with the Streetsie Award in one hand, and a Fat Tire in the other.

And congratulations to the Eco-Village, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the amazing City of Lights Program.

………

Evidently, the driver in the Ed Magos case will be charged after all. L.A. could have had the Backbone Bikeway Network in place years ago; Bikeside LA discovers a 1977 L.A. bike plan that shows a virtually identical system. Some of L.A.’s leading bike and pedestrian advocates call for a moratorium on street widening and peak hour lanes. The hit-and-run case that left local biking leader Roadblock laying injured in the street moves to trial next week. Damien Newton looks at why only one local city made Bicycling’s list of bike-friendly cities; you only have to ride the streets to figure that out. What does bicycle culture really mean? Long Beach’s biking expats offer some classic bike touring videos. The proposed ban on texting while cycling will carry a lower fine than texting behind the wheel. A Florida man is injured after being chased by dogs; if it happens to you, try ordering it to “sit” or “go home,” since most dogs will respond to a firm command. A Boston cyclist gets blamed for being in a cab driver’s blind spot; yeah, it’s not the driver’s place to check that or anything. Follow step-by-step as a Boston blogger uncovers the details of what may be a fatal cycling collision; you may not want to see the photos. The “nicest man you’d ever want to meet” is killed by a Denver-area bus in what sounds like a classic left cross collision. Best advice I’ve seen on what to do if you’re involved in a serious collision. A Florida cyclist plans to fight the ticket after a cop tells her to get on the sidewalk — despite signs saying Bikes May Use Full Lane, and in an area where riding on the sidewalk is illegal. Good advice for beginning cyclists — or any cyclists, for that matter. Mathew Modine carries his bike through a NY fashion show; I just want to know what’s in the bottle. Ottawa Councillors are encouraged to get on a bike and see how bad the bike lanes really are. Evidently, we’re not the only ones trying to get cyclists to vote. Britain’s Conservative Party leader gets blame — and praise — for riding without a helmet; I’d be happy to see any U.S. conservative on a bike, helmet or not. Yet another Euro pro team comes under suspicion for doping. The family of the British cyclist killed by a hit-and-run driver is reportedly devastated that she avoided jail because of pregnancy. Three cyclists were killed in Spain when a van plows into a group of 60 riders.

Finally, Reno Rambler reveals the secret behind the incredible lung capacity all champion bike racers possess.

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