L.A.’s mayor jumps on the bike bandwagon — and promptly falls off

L.A. bicyclists have long fantasized about getting Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a bike.

Not just for the affirmation of cycling as a valid means of transportation and recreation it would provide in this often unwelcoming city, but so he would understand the challenges we face on its streets.

I have a feeling he gets it now.

Just days after Will Campbell revealed the first known photo of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a bicycle — and only seven months since Villaraigosa stunned L.A. cyclists by publicly voicing support for bicycling for the first time — he’s now officially one of us.

On Saturday evening, he was cut off by a driver. And ended up with a broken elbow that required surgery on Sunday.

He might be hard pressed to find a local rider who can’t relate to the first part of the story, if not the second.

According to the Times, His Honor was riding in the bike lane on Venice Blvd between Hervey and Hargis Streets near Culver City when a taxi suddenly pulled in front of him, causing the mayor to fall.

Many bicyclists read between the lines and suspected a classic right hook, in which the driver makes a right turn across the path of a rider. Or maybe the cabbie cut in front of the Mayor and stopped short, like an accidental version of what Dr. Thompson was convicted of doing on purpose.

According to LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the real story is just a little different.

It seems the cab was parked along the curb and pulled out directly in front of the Mayor without looking for approaching riders in the bike lane. And rather than the implied hit-and-run, the driver did stop and exchange information, then left the scene before police arrived.

So while the driver did cause what the police term a no-contact collision, it was not a hit-and-run. And the only chargeable offense would be making an unsafe lane change or failure to yield.

Welcome to our world.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s spent much time riding the streets of this city who doesn’t have a similar tale to tell. Except drivers usually don’t stop for cyclists who don’t ride with a security detail.

And I have a feeling the police took the mayor’s call a little more seriously than they have the rest of us.

So we wish you well, Mr. Mayor.

Some of us hope you ignore all of those people who say this proves how dangerous it is to ride in this city, and just get back out on your bike as soon as you can. While others are hopeful that you’ve learned a lesson about drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists, painful though it may be, and hope you’ll now partner with cyclists to make the streets safer. And are critical of the press that wrote this off as a mere accident and implied it was your fault.

But if you haven’t quite grasped it yet, just try reading some of the comments on the Times story about your injury. If you have the stomach for it.

Like it or not, you’re one of us now.

………

After a dull weekend, some real drama in the Tour de France.

Just as Andy Schleck was about to destroy Alberto Contador on a climb, Schleck lost his chain. And his yellow jersey, as Contador ignored the accepted courtesy of not attacking the leader when he has mechanical trouble. As a result, he now leads Schleck by a mere 8 seconds — with a very pissed of Luxembourger on his heels.

On Sunday, nothing much happened as Christophe Riblon won the stage and the leaders chose to play poker rather than compete; Vino bounced back from a two-year blood doping suspension to win stage 13. Judging by his comments, maybe Lance will be back in 2015 (third item), while his PR machine rolls over bad press. Jens Voigt wonders just how strong Contador really is this year.

………

A cyclist visits New York and asks, can we have some of those separated bike lanes too? Brayj says the city Planning Department clearly listened to him, but the new draft bike plan still has a way to go. How to make Riverside more bike-friendly; just change the name of the city and this would be make damn good approach for L.A. as well. Visiting L.A.’s largely forgotten Fisherman’s Village by bike. A female cyclist says if guys only knew how good they look on a bike, they’d ride everywhere. A cyclist is found dead on the side of a Santa Clara County roadway. Long Beach’s biking expats take the long — and very scenic — route from Nashville to Chattanooga. One of Amarillo’s leading bike activists is killed when a distracted driver tries to pick up the cell phone he dropped. Two cyclists are killed in separate incidents in OKC in just two days. A British cyclist was killed on the site of a planned bikeway that was scrapped just last week. Even for a trained cyclist, wearing a helmet is better than cracking your head. Even in Turkey, they’re building new bikeways.

Finally, a writer for the New York Post bends over backwards to ignore the safety improvements on Gotham’s streets and says no matter how many bike lanes the city builds, they will only make New York more dangerous.

As our own mayor can attest, more cars on the road only make our streets safer.

Right?

17 comments

  1. Will Campbell says:

    Thanks for filling in the blanks regarding the Villaraigosa incident and eliminating my speculating about the cab driver, made thinking he had left the scene (whether intentionally or because he was unaware).

    • bikinginla says:

      Trust me, I assumed the exact same thing — I had to go back and rewrite half of what I’d written this morning.

  2. I hope Andy Schleck DESTROYS Contador tomorrow. Not because of whatever happened today (okay because of that too)…come on, GO ANDY!

  3. Thanks for digging up those details – I’ll go amend my version of the story now.

  4. The Trickster says:

    Man, I wanted to read the story about how I look hot on a bike.

    Sadly it didn’t link to that but back to the bike lanes again.

    +1 with Dancer. Has been an action packed tour so far though with Renshaw pulling one on Julian Dean which was getting up there with the ‘Underarm Incident’.

    Note to those not from the antipodes – the action in that video caused ructions that were about the closest to war that NZ and Australia have gotten and I’m pretty sure if I remember rightly caused a war of words between our respective PM’s.

  5. [...] taxi driver passed Villaraigosa then pulled abruptly in front of the mayor, pulled out directly in front of Villaraigosa, causing the Mayor to lose control, tumble from the bike and break his [...]

  6. GTinLA says:

    I absolutely LOVE that title of this post – it could be used for so many of his other endeavors also!!!!!!

  7. Wow, Mayor V. just posted a blog article on Huffington Post titled Bikes Belong on LA Streets…Wow! That’s a big step for him!

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LACM, jesse r.. jesse r. said: RT @LosAngelesCM: Has the LA Mayor become "one of us"? http://alturl.com/i3jnd BikinginLA contemplates the concept. [...]

  9. [...] newly biking Mayor still doesn’t get it Over the weekend, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fell off his bike, and instantly captured the attention of the entire [...]

  10. [...] broken elbow when a taxi pulled in front of his bicycle while he was riding along Venice Boulevard. Biking in LA has an excellent write-up of the time-line involved. You can read the Mayor’s own thoughts on [...]

  11. [...] the weekend, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fell off his bike, and instantly captured the attention of the entire [...]

  12. [...] now officially one of us,” wrote Ted Rogers of the blog Biking in L.A. “Welcome to our [...]

  13. [...] now officially one of us,” wrote Ted Rogers of the blog Biking in L.A. “Welcome to our [...]

  14. [...] now officially one of us,” wrote Ted Rogers of the blog Biking in L.A. “Welcome to our [...]

  15. Rocco Deman says:

    Practically nothing better than a fishing joke. My father just shared this joke with me: How much fishing tackle can a man accumulate before his wife throws him out? I don’t know the answer but I think I’m nearly there.

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