Archive for August 31, 2010

Two-time Tour de France champ Lauren Fignon dies

Biking great Laurent Fignon passed away from cancer today.

Fignon was a two-time Tour de France winner, taking back-to-back yellow jerseys in 1983 and 1984; he could have easily won a third, losing to Greg LeMond in one of the most memorable races in Tour history.

In 1989, LeMond was attempting to make a comeback after a nearly fatal hunting accident, racing with 37 shotgun pellets in his body — including two in the lining of his heart. Fignon held a seemingly insurmountable 50-second lead heading into a final individual time trial; yet LeMond used an early aero bar to finish improbable 58 ahead of Fignon, winning the tour by the closest margin in TdF history.

BikeRadar quotes LeMond honoring Fignon as a great champion.

“It’s a really sad day. I see him as one of the great riders who was hampered by injuries. He had a very, very big talent — much more than anyone recognized,” LeMond told France 24 television.

“We were also team-mates, competitors, but also friends. When he lost the Tour de France in 1989 it was one of the few where I felt we both won,” said the three-time Tour de France champion.

“The saddest thing for me is that for the rest of his career he said he won two Tours de France, when in reality we both could have won that race.”

Lance Armstrong honored Fignon, the winner of 76 races over his career, as a “dear friend and a legendary cyclist,” and goes on to add “We will miss you. RIP LF.”

Fignon admitted to doping during his career, but did not know if they may have contributed to his illness.

He was just 50-years old.


Philippe Gilbert wins stage three of the Vuelta to claim the leader’s jersey; Joaquin Rodriguez moves to second as riders struggle with the heat of Andalucia. Temperatures cool slightly in stage four, as Igor Anton wins Spain’s first home-field stage victory and moves into second overall.

Thor Hushvold is the first of the former Cervelo riders to move to the new Garmin-Cervelo team.


Join the LACBC and get a free ticket to the Bicycle Film Festival. Gary offers a schedule of upcoming meetings about the Agensys bike path debate in Santa Monica; the first one is tomorrow night. The newly revitalized Streetsblog looks at the issue of bikes — folding and otherwise — on Metro trains. Ten places of worship along the CicLAvia route; identify the 10 11 mystery photos along the route and win CicLAvia T-shirt. An Examiner writer tells drivers we don’t block traffic, we’re part of it; thanks to @LosAngelesCM for the link. Giovanni Ribisi bikes on PCH in Malibu; I wonder if he jumped the lights? Someone steals a teenager’s bike while he’s trying to pawn a stolen violin. A frightening encounter with a knife-wielding man points out another risk riders face on the streets. A Chicago cyclist is killed riding the wrong way on a busy expressway where bikes aren’t allowed. Kailua HI begins the islands’ first year-round bike share. In an apparent repeat of the New York Critical Mass incident, a Boston CM rider is knocked off his bike by a cop, but may not pursue charges. Portland police offer insights on why stronger charges aren’t filed in some cases. A driver charged in a DC-area vehicular assault case is allowed to leave town and enroll in college, then charges are dismissed because authorities seemingly can’t find her. A Denton TX cyclist is intentionally assaulted by a hit-and-run driver. A Brit rider says she wouldn’t mind being a podium girl, as long as she gets a hot guy to kiss when she wins — and her sport gets the attention it deserves. Is a new congestion-free ad campaign to promote London cycling worth the £441,000 ($679,400) it cost? Seven mistakes cyclists make while riding. BikeRadar offers advice on the importance of avoiding skin cancer, something I can attest to.

Finally, a Colorado man faces trial for attacking a group of riders with a baseball bat; the driver claims self-defense, claiming one of the cyclists threw a bicycle at his car. Yeah, we cyclists are so crazy that we often get off our expensive bikes and heave them unprovoked at passing motorists.

A PCH cyclist responds to Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Chris Frost

Last month, Stanley E. Goldich, a Century City attorney and member of Velo Club LaGrange, wrote about the road conditions and safety problems on Pacific Coast Highway, based on his own personal experiences riding thousands of miles per year on PCH, as well as climbing the canyons of the Malibu area for over 20 years.

Today, he writes again in response to the recent post by Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Chris Frost, as well as the opinions expressed by fellow Public Safety Commissioner Susan Tellem in a recent letter to the editor and on a now-deleted Facebook group.


I have not met Chris Frost or Susan Tellum and cannot speak to whether or not they are nice people.  However, there is nothing nice or decent about their words and misguided efforts to target cyclists, who almost always are victims and not perpetrators with respect to safety conditions on PCH.  I am completely supportive of efforts to educate cyclists about the issues confronting Malibu residents with respect to exiting their driveways and U-turns and their need to be more considerate of these concerns, however the efforts of Tellum and Frost to target cyclists are grounded in fallacious arguments and facts that do not have any evidentiary basis.

1.   What is particularly pernicious in the views expressed by Frost and Tellum is the linkage between running of stop signs and lights with the aggression of motorists against cyclists and deaths and serious injuries of cyclists.  Frost’s denial is belied by his words:  “That means the law abiding rider gets treated pretty much the same as one who continually flaunts the law.  So when you get buzzed for no apparent reason, the cause may well be an incident you had no part of.  This is happening much too frequently now, and it has developed into a breeding ground for animosity and worse – injury and death.”

2.   The contentions that cyclists are a cause of any major safety problems on PCH and their flaunting of the law is a cause of “injury and death” are patently false and flawed justifications to unnecessarily target cyclists instead of other far more significant safety concerns.  My prior email that you published detailed the safety problems on PCH including what was identified in the PCH Taskforce Report – nothing Frost alleges is identified in that Report or any other report that I am aware of.  The deaths of Debra Goldsmith, Scott Bleifer, Stanislov Ionov and others were acts of careless and reckless drivers and/or unsafe road conditions and were not acts of vengeance.  Even the road rage incidents of Dr. Thompson on Mandeville were driven by not wanting cyclists in his neighborhood, not running of lights and stop signs. The suggestion that deliberate acts of violence against cyclists is defensible because of running of lights by scofflaw cyclists is outrageous and targeting cyclists to address such inexcusable actions is hardly an appropriate solution

3.    While it is true that cyclists are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists, the circumstances are not the same (or equal).  As a cyclist on PCH I get to ride on a shoulder that is not a true lane and deal with all of the dangers resulting from this.  I am not surrounded by a steel frame and am virtually always the victim in any truly dangerous situation on the road.  Yes, as a general matter cyclists should stop at lights.  However, there are times and some lights on PCH where it is unquestionably safer to go thru the light ahead of traffic due to dangerous roadway conditions including inadequate shoulders, lack of space next to parked cars, and cars pulling out requiring the cyclist to move into the right hand traffic lane.  Contrary to Frost’s contention, most of the T-intersections do not involve cars making U-turns or trying to pull out (an exception are cars U-turning at Corral).  Certainly, cyclists should be considerate of residents/motorists trying to make U-turns or pull out, particularly at lights; however, the primary dangers are motorists making U-turns in front of cyclists and pulling out or turning in front of them.

4.   The central reason a minority of motorists and Malibu residents are hostile is because cyclists impede them or they simply don’t want cyclists using the roads period, not because of running of stop signs or our Lycra clothes.  Many motorists do not take offense at running of stop signs or lights where the cyclist is not getting in their path (and sometimes trying to avoid doing so) – I regularly get waived thru stop signs by drivers.

5.   I am not arguing that I and other cyclists are free to break the law with impunity.  My point is simply that the targeting of cyclists is not justified by the fictions advanced and that a much more productive discussion would be trying to understand why cyclists are running the lights and addressing conditions that require cyclists to move out of the shoulder into the right hand lane.

6.  Finally, it would be one thing if Frost just argued that cyclists should stop at all lights (and presumably stop signs) to be “ambassadors of our sport.”  While I may disagree with singling out bicyclists to be role models (rather than all road users) and whether stopping at all lights is required to be an ambassador of cycling (rather than simply being courteous and considerate), I have no quarrel with Frost promoting this. However, Frost is not leaving things at encouraging what he believes is good bike-riding behavior.  Rather, it appears he seeks to misuse his position as a safety commissioner to threaten and punish cyclists who do not comply with his views.


In the comments to his post, Chris Frost invited a number of the people who responded to attend a meeting of the Malibu Public Safety Commission.

As Gary noted today, the next meeting will take place at 6 pm this Wednesday at the Council Chambers at Malibu City Hall, 23815 Stuart Ranch Road.

15-year old Lincoln Heights boy murdered anyway after surrendering his bike

Sometimes, the news just doesn’t make any sense.

It just too tragic to contemplate, too senseless to comprehend. And this is one of those times.

According to the Los Angeles Times,  two men approached a pair of boys riding their bikes on North Mission Road near North Broadway in Lincoln Heights and demanded their bikes. And even though 15-year old Miguel Machuca complied with their demands and surrendered his bike, they shot anyway, killing him and injuring an 11-year old girl.

Both were taken to L.A. County ­– USC Medical Center, where Machuca was pronounced dead; the girl is reportedly in stable condition.

This comes just four months after a pair of cyclists narrowly escaped death at the hands of pair of Koreatown bike thieves. In that case, the cyclists fought back; this time, Machuca did exactly what he should have done by giving up his bike.

Yet they shot him anyway. And a young life is ended for no reason.

There’s just no excuse.

And no words to describe someone who could do something like this.

Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD’s Hollenbeck Homicide detectives at 323/342-8957.

Update: The LAPD Blog adds a little more information. Miguel Machuca was at Lincoln Park with a friend  when they were approached by two suspects; one described only as a male Hispanic fired several shots with a handgun, striking Machuca; however, the report only describes a single wound to the upper torso. The 11-year old girl, who apparently not with the two boys, was hit in the back by a stray bullet.

Police ask for the public’s help in identifying a suspect.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call Hollenbeck Homicide Detectives Chavarria or Rios at 323-342-8957.  During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.   Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).  Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

Update 2: Carlos Morales indicates that this killing may have been gang-related, rather than a random bike theft as it originally appeared. Easier to understand, perhaps, but no less tragic.


Mark Cavendish jumped to an early lead on day one of the Vuelta, as HTC-Columbia takes the team time trial. Day two saw Cavendish keep the red leader’s jersey, despite being outsprinted for the stage win by unknown Belorussian Yauheni Hutarovich; American sprinter Tyler Farrar took third. Frank Schleck says he can win it all this year.

In other bike racing news, Nino Schurter finishes second in the final race behind Jarolslav Kulhavy to win the 2010 UCI Cross-country Mountain Bike World Cup.

And former rising racer Saul Raisin makes a comeback of a different sort, hosting a fundraising bike ride and working towards a degree in physical therapy or speech pathology, four years after suffering a nearly fatal brain injury while riding in Europe.


An “avid cyclist” says Dan Maes, the Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate/conspiracy theorist, is right, and that Denver’s new bike share program is nothing more than European-inspired politically correct window dressing that hurts local businesses, and masks more serious problems — like the birth rate in developing countries.

Or maybe it’s just a way to get more people on bikes.


Russ Roca, one half of the Long’s Beach biking expats touring the country for the past year, eloquently explains the beauty of riding without set deadlines or destinations. Photos from Friday’s Critical Mass. The L.A. Times looks at entrepreneurs catering to the urban cycling craze. Will seems to like the new Give Me 3 posters, but would like it more if drivers could see it; I saw several posters on the Westside over the weekend, most of which faced oncoming traffic. Pink rides through Venice on a red bike; doesn’t that clash? The designer of the proposed Agensys offices says a planned bike path across the Santa Monica property would “bring vehicles and cyclists in conflict;” yeah, like that never happens on the streets. Venice’s one-woman bike-riding anti-crime task force hangs it up and moves back to Boston. Missed him by that much…evidently, I shared the bike path on the beach with Zeke’s brother Dave on Thursday and didn’t know it. Evidently, bike lanes do make a difference. How to train dogs and cyclists to share a bike path; if you ask me, the dogs are easier to train. When his mom says he can’t have a BB gun, a 10-year old has a temper tantrum that ends in throwing his bike at a police car, resulting in $1300 damage; link courtesy of Tucson Velo. Albuquerque cyclists get a new $6.9 bike bridge over the Rio Grande. New Mexico authorities remove a ghost bike for a 19-year old cyclist killed in June. Oklahoma considers a new law to protect cyclists based on the Colorado Bike Safety Act; California could do a lot worse. Over 300 cyclists lead a funeral procession for a rider killed raising funds for cancer research. A Georgia cyclist’s life is going to be very different after he’s run down on a Okefenokee Swamp black road by a driver high on drugs and alcohol. Maybe those bike tubes I traded in awhile back will end up as a dog collar that doubles as a bottle opener. Bikes have replaced sports cars for middle-aged Kiwi men. Bike advocates call for bike lanes in Abu Dhabi. After a broken leg shattered his teenage dream of becoming a bike racer, leading designer Sir Paul Smith completes the circle by designing a new line of bikewear for Rapha. A Leicester cyclist rides down and tackles a bike riding burglar.

Finally, Nik Wallenda, 7th generation representative of the famous Flying Wallendas, set a new record for the highest high-wire bike ride at 260 feet above ground.

Without handlebars.

Riding with a Greasy Wiener, Manhattan non-cyclists ticketed, the Vuelta rolls in España

Only in L.A. could a quick spin along the coast lead result in a Greasy Weiner, getting chased by a Balrog and discovering a badly malfunctioning calendar.

Let’s take that in reverse order.

Seriously, August skies should not look like this in Southern California.

On an otherwise hot and sunny August day, I rolled into Venice and stopped near the pier to scarf down a quick snack. And found myself suddenly transported into mid-January, as the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped a dozen or so degrees in a matter of minutes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I want a do-over on this summer. While the rest of the country has sweltered in record-breaking heat, L.A. cyclists have been donning cold weather gear when we head to the beach.

In August, no less.

Fortunately, the skies cleared a few hundred yards north as I continued on my way, even if it didn’t warm up all that much. Then as I approached Santa Monica, a work crew was setting up the stage for that evening’s concert on the pier.

Evidently, they were doing a sound check, using a bass drum to tap out a steady rhythm so they could check out the levels.

Maybe I’ve read the Lord of the Rings too many times over the years. But as soon as I entered the tunnel under the pier, the boom of the drum reverberating through the timbers, I was instantly transported to the Mines of Moria, with an angry Balrog hot on my trail.

Doom. Doom. Doom…

Fortunately, I managed to escape out the other side, without the assistance of Gandalf the Grey. And found myself surrounded with something far more frightening — a path clogged with tourists as far as the eye could see.

I’ll take Balrogs and Orcs over tourists any day. Nothing personal.

Somehow, though, after numerous stops and starts, swerves and shouted warnings, I managed to make it past the pier area and continued north to where the path ends, dumping riders who want to continue just a little further into the parking lot above Temescal Canyon.

A Greasy Wiener on the beach. Damn, that just cracks me up.

And as I rounded the curve into the final lot, I spotted one of the leading celebrities in L.A.’s food truck boom.

It could just be me. But there was something funny as hell in the idea of stumbling upon a Greasy Weiner on the beach.

Maybe I just need a little more sleep.


In the most shocking news since the Mayor’s conversion to bike activist, a rollerblader is actually ticketed for skating on the Marvin Bruade bike path in Manhattan Beach — despite years of nearly universally ignored “bike only” markings. According to the Beach Reporter,

But the juxtaposition of bicycles, joggers, skateboarders and rollerbladers can lead to disaster on the bike path, according to city police, and bike path violations lead to an infraction and court date.

“It’s dangerous,” said Manhattan Beach Traffic Lt. Andy Harrod. “Bicycles and skaters and joggers just don’t mix.”

Note to Santa Monica: Evidently, it’s actually possible to enforce that restriction, after all. Who knew, huh? Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.


The media jumps in on the helmet debate, as an ER physician says wearing a helmet is “the single most important thing you can do to determine whether you live or die” in a bike accident, while the BBC notes it may not offer as much protection as you think. A Chicago writer and bike commuter says she didn’t know the subject was up for debate, but Obama has decided to wear one after all; I wonder if the GOP will call that a flip-flop. And bike injuries and deaths cost the country over $5 billion a year.

Meanwhile, a bill requiring mandatory helmet use for underage snowboarders awaits the governors signature, a mandatory bike helmet law for adults could be next; thanks to Brent for the tip.

(For anyone who’s not clear on the subject, I’m for helmet use but against making them mandatory, with all due apologies to our new mayoral BFF.)


The last of the year’s Grand Tours kicks off this weekend, as the legendary Vuelta a España — aka, Tour of Spain — starts with a team time trial; Contador is out, which means the field is wide open. My money is on Andy Schleck, but I’d like to see what a healthy Christian Vande Velde can do.


In upcoming events:

Chinatown Summer Nights hosts its final weekend in Downtown’s Chinatown District from 5 pm to midnight, with DJs, food trucks, and cultural and cooking demonstrations, among other activities; free bike valet courtesy of LACBC.

Sunday, August 29th, LACBC hosts a breakfast and brainstorming session for River Ride volunteers; RSVP by email for more information and location.

Sunday must be volunteer day; CicLAvia is looking for volunteers for outreach canvassing along the CicLAvia route, starting at 3:30 pm on the 29th at Shatto Park; other volunteer opportunities will take place over the coming weeks. Email CicLAviaVolunteer [at] if you’d like to pitch in.

LACBC hosts their second monthly mixer from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, September 1st at LACBC’s Downtown headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street. It’s a great chance to meet the staff, learn what the organization is doing and maybe even join up yourself or bring in a prospective member.

The curtain parts on the L.A. Bicycle Film Festival this Wednesday, September 1st and runs through the 5th; check the website for schedule and locations.

Flying Pigeon hosts a book signing with photographer and former D.A. Gil Garcetti (you may also know his son Eric) for his book Paris: Women and Bicycles on Thursday, September 9 at 7:30 pm. I had a chance to look it over at this year’s River Ride; if you love beautiful photographs of beautiful women on beautiful bikes in one of the world’s most beautiful cities — and who doesn’t? — this is a beautiful opportunity to meet the man behind the lens.

Make your plans for Parking Day LA on Sept. 17th.

Celebrate the third anniversary of C.R.A.N.K. MOB at C.R.A.N.K.MAS III, 9 pm on Saturday, September 18th and 7 am Sunday, September 19th; costumes mandatory.

Explore the effects of bicycles on art and culture at the Grand Opening of Re:Cycle — Bike Culture in Southern California, October 7th – 9th, at U.C. Riverside’s newly relocated Sweeney Art Gallery at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, 3834 Main Street in downtown Riverside. A reception will be held from 6 – 10 pm Thursday, October 7th; the exhibition continues through December 31st.

New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat makes its first L.A. stop on Saturday, October 23rd. The following day, Sony sponsors their bikeless Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.


Streetsblog reports on Wednesday’s fundraiser. Gary looks back at last Sunday’s successful Tour da Arts. A San Diego cyclist rides 15 miles to celebrate surviving a near fatal head-on collision one year earlier. Courtesy of Cyclelicious, a common sense guide for fat cyclists; one thing I’ve noticed about overweight riders, if you keep at it, you probably won’t be overweight very long. Your next bike jersey could be made from coffee beans; that should perk you up on those early morning rides. An Iowa cycling champion is seriously injured in a collision with a car. An NYC cyclist is critically injured in a hit-and-run. An OKC writer says the roads are crowded with bad and inexperienced drivers, so bikes don’t belong on there; it’s been a long time since I studied Logic in college, but something just doesn’t seem right with that argument. Yet another misguided bike ban, as a Texas town bans bikes from any roads under construction; seriously, they swear it’s for our own safety. Baltimore bikers are getting beaten up by teenagers; maybe they should ban bikes there so we’ll be protected from B-town beat downs. The Onion says Lance has something to tell us, but you have to promise not to get mad (remember, it’s satire, folks). Should London’s bike share program provide helmets for riders who want them? A tip for lazy riders: pick a route with lots of hills. One more reason to ride — you won’t have to drive a car that runs on fecal matter.

Finally, now Copenhagen cyclists get bike butlers to pamper their illegally parked bikes; I need to live a good life so I can go there when I die.

LAPD intervenes to fight anti-bike harassment at a highly personal level

Yesterday, I received the following email from a local cyclist named Aaron, relating his experience with a bike-hating driver. And a successful, and surprisingly personal, intervention from the LAPD.


I’m a regular reader of your blog and avid cycling commuter, and I’ve been excitedly following Police Chief Beck and Mayor Villaraigosa’s recent progress on the issue of cycling.  I know the city is really trying to take strides in its approach to cyclists, and I think the cycling community needs to give credit where credit is due.  In that spirit, I feel compelled to share my own recent mind-blowingly great experience with the LAPD regarding a motorist that had been repeatedly harassing my fiancé and me on our morning ride over the course of several weeks.

An ordinary looking car, with an angry driver inside.

To give you some background, my fiancé and I try to be model cyclists on our commute from Silver Lake to K-Town (we wear helmets, yield to pedestrians, stop at stop signs, stay to the right of the road where safe to do so), but occasionally we’ll still encounter some maniac who feels like he/she owns the road and targets us for harassment.

Over the past six weeks, we’ve had a series of unpleasant encounters with the same woman who apparently shares at least a few blocks of our morning commute.  It started when, on a quiet, residential stretch of Vendome one morning, we noticed a tan Toyota sedan driven by a middle-aged woman barreling past us in excess of the speed limit and honking; the car then swerved dangerously close to another cyclist up ahead, still honking.  When we (cyclists and motorists) all arrived at the same red light half a block later, all of the cyclists glared at the woman because of her dangerous and aggressive driving while we waited for the light to change.  She saw this and rolled down her window and started screaming that we have to “get out of the road” and other such nonsense.

We kept seeing this woman again over the coming weeks on the same block of Vendome, often waiting at the same red light with her, and whenever we saw her, she would honk, roll down her window and yell, give us the finger, etc.  This all came to a head this Monday (8/23), when she launched into a particularly toxic rant while we were waiting at the red (she kept calling my fiancé a “stupid bitch” claiming that cyclists have to “follow the law” by “stay[ing] out of the road,” telling us that she “recognizes” us, etc.).  We tried to explain that we had a right to be in the road and that she shouldn’t harass cyclists, but this just set her off screaming even more.  I mad a point of taking photos of her and her license plate before the light turned green.

Sgt. David Krumer juggles three phones at once; he may need more to handle the calls from cyclists.

We were feeling pretty intimidated at this point after weeks of harassment from this obviously unhinged woman, so using info from the LA County Bicycle Coalition, I contacted Sergeant David Krumer with the LAPD via email, explained the situation, and asked him if there was anything he could do to help with the situation.  Within a couple of days (he actually apologized for this short delay saying he was on vacation!), he called me up and we talked about the incidents further.  He explained that, because there were no elements of assault or specific credible threats, things had not yet escalated to a criminal issue (which I had figured from the start).  What blew me away is what he said next.

Sergeant Krumer explained that, even though no crime had been committed, the motorist was clearly behaving wrongly and, since I had her license plate number, he would have a talk with her.  He took down the details about where exactly the encounters took place and told me that he would either wait at the intersection in an unmarked car the next morning and pull her over when she drove by or go make contact at her home. That same night, Sergeant Krumer contacted me again and said that he had already met with the woman.  Here is his description of the encounter:

I had a pretty lengthy conversation with her with regards to a cyclist’s road position, the door zone, and under which circumstances a cyclist needs to cede the roadway.

We also had a discussion about honking horn, etiquette, and unnecessary provocations.

She indicated she understood and also stated that she will be using an alternate route to prevent future encounters.

He also told me that, after seeing me take her picture, she had actually gone to the police herself to try to tell her side in anticipation of me reporting her.  I guess she must have realized that she had let things get out of hand at that point.

So, in the span of a few days, the LAPD was able to contact a motorist that had been terrorizing me for weeks, personally educate her on traffic laws, cyclist safety and etiquette, and even get her to change her route in the morning!!!  All the while, Sergeant Krumer was incredibly courteous and professional, and he has asked me to contact him should I have any more trouble or need further assistance.  I’m extremely impressed with the degree of personal attention and seriousness that the LAPD devoted to me.  I can only conclude that the LAPD is serious about taking a new approach to cyclists.

Incidentally, after he helped me, I mentioned to Sergeant Krumer that I might like to share my story with some of the local cycling blogs that I follow.  He was very receptive, saying:

Chief Beck made a commitment to improving relations with cyclists and making a sincere effort to address their concerns.  I know that many cyclists have had negative contacts with law enforcement.  Anything that you can contribute that would let cyclists know that the LAPD is making a sincere and genuine effort to better our relationship would be greatly appreciated.

So that’s why I’m writing to you.  It’s just a minor issue involving a couple of cyclists and one motorist, but I hope that you see fit to share my story as one of the “small victories” that can be replicated around the city.  We’ve all heard a lot of talk lately from city institutions about how they’re taking our concerns seriously.  Now, after my interactions with the LAPD, I’m inclined to believe that talk.

Update: Sgt. Krumer offered a clarification in the comments to this post; I’m moving it up here for everyone who doesn’t read the comments.

Hello All,

Thank you very much for the positive comments. Just to clarify a few points: The driver volunteered to take a different route on her own without any suggestion or proding from me. It appears she recognized on her own the prudence of that decision.

While I did say that I would attempt to be at the intersection at the approximate time of the encounters (if necessary), my intent was to observe…not pull her over (unless a dangerous situation ensued).

Finally I did not “meet” with her but had a telephonic conversation in which we discussed all of the aforementioned issues. I left a message for her that she promptly returned. After our discussion a face to face did not appear warranted.

I am hopeful that the issue is resolved and that there will be no further incidents!

Take care,



Big bike happenings in the Valley. It looks like Wilbur Avenue really will get two miles of bike lanes; LADOT Bike Blog says Wilbur is getting bike lanes because it got a road diet, not the other way around. Meanwhile, new bridges at Tampa and Winnetka Aves mean work can proceed on two miles additional miles of the LA River Bike Path between Mason and VanAlden.


Streetsblog gets the first second photo of a real Give Me 3 poster on the street. Ten public spaces you can visit along the CicLAvia route on 10/10/10. Green LA Girl reports on Wednesday’s Streetsblog fundraiser. LACBC follows up on the Mayor’s Bike Summit, including the bike plan, Complete Streets and the proposed three-foot passing and vulnerable user laws. Bikeside says the only question in the Santa Monica bikeway vs Agensys dispute is how to make the bikeway happen. Is San Diego’s Critical Mass a victim of its own success? San Francisco remembers the German cyclist killed in an alleged drunken hit-and-run. SF cyclists “with an anti-establishment attitude” protest BP and a dangerous bike lane next to an ARCO station. Tucson police “suppress” cyclists behaving badly. A semi right hooks an SLC cyclist, leaving the rider with life-threatening injuries. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske notes that three-foot passing laws — like the one Mayor Villaraigosa and Council Member Rosendahl propose — only work if they’re actually enforced. Three ticketed cyclists challenge the constitutionality of the Black Hawk CO bike ban. A Colorado women describes what it’s like to hit a cyclist from the driver’s perspective; fortunately, the rider wasn’t seriously hurt — and the driver took full responsibility. Is that Mario Kart bike lane a genuine Banksy? In a twist on bike share, the Twin Cities host a successful bike library for low income adults. Officials fear bikes and pedestrians flooding the streets of Elmhurst. In the most dangerous state for bicyclists, a ninja cyclist is hit and killed by a Florida Sheriff’s deputy. The Cervelo men’s team folds, as the women’s team may continue; Garmin-Transitions will be on Cervelo bikes next year. On the other hand, India’s cyclists may not be on any bikes for the Commonwealth Games. Cambridge England creates a website to act as a suggestion box for cyclists; maybe L.A. cycling’s new BFF — aka the Mayor — should consider the idea. The body of a Brit cyclist is found stuffed in a sports bag; maybe it’s just a coincidence that he worked for MI6. A Brit teenager on a stolen bike critically injures a pedestrian in a two-wheeled hit-and-run. Now this sounds like a perfect ride to me.

Finally, a Kansas writer says cyclists make bad criminals, in part because bikes make awful getaway vehicles. And yet, that doesn’t stop a lot of bank robbers from trying.

Fighting over red lights: To stop or not to stop

I confess, I make a point of stopping for red lights.

Last week, another rider wanted to fight me because of it.

As an experienced cyclist, I feel an obligation to set an example — both for other riders, and to show drivers that we don’t all run red lights.

Not that they usually notice, of course.

Human nature being what it is, they may not notice the riders stopped next to them waiting for the light to change. But they’ll sure as hell see any rider who happens to blows through it.

Besides, it’s not only courteous and safer to stop on reds, it’s the law. And evidently, that’s what got the pugilistically inclined cyclist upset.

Maybe he was just hopped up on testosterone, driven to distraction by a riding companion whose figure, to steal a line from Woody Allen, “described a set of parabolas that could cause cardiac arrest in a yak.”

Or maybe he was just a jerk.

Either way, I was riding north in the bike lane on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica just south of Colorado Avenue, when I stopped at the red light at the on and off ramps for PCH. I probably could have continued through the intersection safely; the only danger I faced in going through the light was that a car turning onto Ocean from the onramp might carelessly stray into the bike lane.

But I’ve learned over the years never to count on a driver doing the right thing. And I recognize that red lights usually exist for a reason, even if I may not always understand or agree with it.

So I sat patiently and waited. The two riders I’d passed a little further up the block didn’t.

They rolled by on my right and continued through the red light; as they passed, the guy sarcastically commented, “Seriously, a red light? In the bike lane?”

So I simply glanced over and responded, “That’s the law.”

The next thing I knew, he was off his bike and standing in the roadway, fists balled and coming towards me. Fortunately, the light changed and I continued on my way, shaking my head that anyone would feel compelled to fight over something so trivial. And not the least bit concerned that he might catch up to me, as I glanced back a few moments later to see him pedaling furiously in my wake, yet falling further behind with every pedal stroke.

That’s not to say that I never run red lights.

In fact, I ran one just the other day on my way to the Mayor’s Give Me 3 press conference, when I found myself at a light where my bike couldn’t trigger the sensor and there was no pedestrian button to push.

So when traffic going in the opposite direction got the green and I didn’t, I waited until all the cars in the left turn lane went through, then rode through the light. And hoped that the stop light that held back cars on the busy street I was crossing wouldn’t change while I was still in the intersection.

I also recognize there are situations where it may actually be safer to ride through the red than to sit at a dangerous intersection waiting to get hit.

But the fact remains that the law require cyclists to stop for red lights, just like cars, trucks, buses and pedestrians. And as much as I would prefer to see an Idaho stop law here, to the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t currently exist anywhere outside of the Famous Potato state.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you to stop. Or chase you down and berate you in an attempt to police our sport if you go through a light. I assume you’re a grownup and fully capable of making your own decisions, whether or not I happen to agree with them.

But what I can’t accept are riders who insist on going through the light when someone else has the right-of-way.

Like the two fixie riders I recently watched weave their way through a crosswalk crowded with pedestrians, forcing the only road users more vulnerable than we are to get the hell out of their way or risk getting hurt.

(For anyone unclear on the concept, as long as they’re not crossing against the light, pedestrians in a crosswalk always have the right of way.)

Or the three riders I watched blow through the busy intersection of Santa Monica and Beverly Glen in Century City over the weekend, laughing as the drivers crossing on the green light had to brake or swerve to avoid them. And making me cringe with the expectation that one of those drivers might not be able to stop in time — whether to avoid the riders or the other cars scattering in their wake like so many pinballs.

Somehow, they made it across safely. Though one or more could easily have ended up adding to last weekend’s carnage.

Which brings up one last point.

Few things are riskier than going through a red light when opposing traffic is present. As bike lawyer Bob Mionske has pointed out, if you get hit after running a red light, you’re the one who’ll be held at fault, regardless of what the other person did or didn’t do.

And good luck getting your medical expenses paid after that. Or any kind of settlement, for that matter.

So when the light turns yellow, I’m reaching for my brakes. And making a quick calculation about whether I can make it through the intersection before it turns red, or if I need to pull those levers and wait until the light changes again, just like the drivers next to me.

Whether or not you choose to stop is your decision.

But just remember, going through the light is often dangerous.

And always illegal.


Gary says it’s time to stop letting the roadway bullies win. LADOT Bike Blog looks at sidewalk riding in the South Bay. Claremont Cyclist offers the history of roads in response to the KSU writer who claimed roads are for cars, explaining that roads are for general transportation and “not the hegemony of a single mode of transportation over others.” NorCal residents struggle to reclaim the street Caltrans turned into a highway; thanks to Brent for the link. More bicycle scorchers in 19th Century Denver. Zeke writes about his experiences on the Blue Ridge Breakaway. Bicycling Magazine offers seven steps to pain-free cycling. Austin on Two Wheels says the new riding stats from New York should be the death knell of vehicular cycling. A Maryland cyclist is killed in a right hook with a semi. Now that looks like a nice commute. A New Orleans community activist plans a 1600 mile bike ride along the Gulf Coast to raise awareness about fuel dependence in the wake of the BP oil spill. Bicycling through Tokyo at the speed of light. A insurance company plants unlocked bikes around London to show how easy they are to steal; turns out, no one wants them. Riding without brakes is illegal in the UK, and usually not smart. Miss Scotland rides a bike.

Finally, a Connecticut driver encourages cyclists to share the roads, but please act like adults and leave your egos at home. Somehow, I get the feeling he doesn’t like us very much.

I tweet therefore I am, Streetsblog parties and the Mayor says Give Me 3

Today I finally enter the Twitter age, only a few years after everyone else on the planet.

I’d been reluctant to add yet another demand on an already overcrowded schedule. But my friend GT — who writes eloquently about struggling to complete his first major climb after his recent heart attack — talked me into it to make it easier to keep you up with new content and breaking news.

So you can now follow me @bikinginla. And I’m now taking suggestions on who I should follow.

And in case you’ve missed it, there’s an interesting — and decidedly in-depth — discussion about helmet use going on at the Survival Tactics page.


Don’t miss tonight’s Streetsblog LA Re-Launch Fundraiser and Party, complete with silent auction courtesy of Green LA Girl. And set your browser for tomorrow’s official re-launch of the city’s leading — and most important — transportation news site. I have other commitments this evening, but will make a brief appearance before the night is over.


L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa continues his surprising support for safe cycling.

L.A. cycling’s new BFF continues to support the biking community.

Yesterday, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference to announce the winner of the recent contest to create a slogan for bike safety campaign — something that was in the works long before what London’s Guardian newspaper called his Road-to-Damascus conversion to cycling evangelist.

The Mayor autographs the Give Me 3 poster.

The contest, and resulting poster, were the result of a joint effort between the LACBC, Midnight Ridazz, LADOT and the LAPD, as well as the Mayor’s office.

Yes, that’s just as strange a coalition as it sounds. And one that would have been unimaginable just a year earlier.

The winning slogan, “Give Me 3,” was submitted by cyclist Danny Gamboa, and the poster was designed by L.A. based cyclist and graphic artist Geoff McFetridge.

The poster was also signed by many of the people who worked to make it happen.

According to the Mayor,

“California law currently requires drivers to give a ‘safe passing’ distance, but drivers may not know what safe means. Three feet is a safe passing distance and will help keep bicyclists out of the door zone.”

While the new campaign merely encourages drivers to give a minimum three feet distance when passing bike riders, Villaraigosa promised to work with cyclists and the state legislature to pass a state-wide three-foot passing law. A previous attempt to pass the law in 2006 failed to get out of committee after opposition from the trucking industry and the California Highway Patrol.

Who ever thought we'd see the Mayor flanked by cyclists and their bikes?

The website Three Feet Please says 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed three-foot laws, along with four cities — Austin and San Antonio Texas, Boise Idaho and Tupelo Mississippi. In fact, Mississippi recently became the latest to mandate a minimum three feet.

If they can manage to give cyclists a full yard on the narrow roads of the deep south, California drivers shouldn’t have any problem.

A phalanx of bikes storm the steps of power.

Villaraigosa also made a point of encouraging cyclists to wear a helmet, but did not mention his previous threat call for a mandatory helmet law. The event was followed by filming of a pair of PSA spots featuring the Mayor that will encourage safe driving and helmet use.

Other sites have already covered the press conference in greater detail, including the LACBC, LADOT Bike Blog, Streetsblog and the Mayor’s office; LADOT Bike Blog also offers a full listing of other coverage of the campaign.

A cross sections of cyclists sought shade while waiting to film the PSA.

It will be interesting to see what effect the Give Me 3 campaign will have on the streets of L.A.

In my experience, most drivers already pass at a safe distance, so the question is what influence it will have on the minority of drivers buzz cyclists — intentionally or not.

Or if they’ll only give a safe distance to riders who look like Gumby.

As I rode home, I spotted this poster just blocks from City Hall.


People for Bikes reaches 50,000 pledges to support cycling in the U.S.; if you haven’t signed up yet, you can do it here. I signed up a few months back.


Complaints surface about LADOT’s tendency to make infrastructure changes without public notice. Ten things to do at CicLAvia. Gary takes Agensys to task fighting a much needed biking link through Santa Monica. Glee’s Lea Michele rides a lavender cruiser through the streets of L.A. Headphones are legal while riding in most states, though California limits it to one ear only; then again, your choice of music could affect your performance. Rabobank, sponsor of one of the leading pro cycling teams, positions itself for next year’s Tour of California; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. After receiving 110 units of blood to save his own life, a former CA police officer rides 4,000 miles across the country to thank blood donors; meanwhile, a Brit cyclist rides 3400 miles less across the U.S. to fight cancer; then again, she’s only seven years old. A Tucson bike-grabbing road grate gets a quick fix. If you get run over while talking on a cell phone while riding in Arizona, the courts could rule that distracted riding is relevant to your case. A Portland bike lane gets the Mario Kart treatment from the Department of DIY. A look at Dora Rinehart, the greatest female cyclist of the 1890s; from Colorado, of course. If you want to do a little climbing this weekend, how about 24.5 miles — and 7,700 vertical feet — up Pikes Peak? Somehow, a Kansas State student can get all the way to college, and still think that riding a bike in the street is annoying, rude and has to stop, regardless of what the law says. It takes real food, not energy bars, to get you through the long rides. British police crack down on anti-social cyclists — that sounds so much scarier than scofflaws, doesn’t it? UK authorities are set to reject a call to reduce the BAC limit from .80 to .50. How to adjust your front and rear derailleurs. Racer Rosa Bicycles strives to be cleaner and greener than the rest. Eleven months and 23,000 kilometers of riding across Africa. A New Zealand driver admits to falling asleep and killing a cyclist on Easter Sunday.

Finally, he’s doing it on two feet instead of two wheels, but a tenacious walker is about to finish a remarkable stroll from Rockaway Beach, NY to Rockaway Beach, OR; thanks to Brent for the heads-up.

Just the links: A threatened SM bikeway, more injured cyclists and better bike etiquette

A long planned bikeway through Santa Monica is in jeopardy, thanks to the building plans of a major bio-tech company. If Agensys gets its way, they will block completion of the planned Michigan Ave bike path for the next 50 years, cutting off access to the upcoming Expo line from many parts of the city; somehow, they can safely accommodate cars and pedestrians, but bikes would present too much of a danger. Barbara Filet and Kent Strumpel have full details at Santa Monica Spoke.


Adding to the worst weekend for SoCal cyclists in recent memory, two women riders on the Cool Breeze Century ride were injured when one was struck by a semi-truck on Highway 101; thanks to DC for the link.


Ten public art works along the planned CicLAvia route. Green LA Girl offers a look at Sunday’s Tour da Arts, and says she’ll see you at tomorrow’s Streetsblog fundraiser. San Diego sees its first bike wedding; one writer calls it the best wedding ever. When it gets this hot, slow down to Tweed speed. A 17-year old cyclist is killed in Milpitas. A Chico bike trail will soon be marked with 15 foot steel sprockets. Now this is a bike. Free parking in Eugene OR could mean the loss of 288 bike spaces. Good wants you to spend a day with bike and without car, and send them a doodle to illustrate it. Kansas State students are assigned to identify physical barriers to biking. New York gets a new protected bike lane. Charleston police crack down on cyclists. A DC cyclist is fatally shot on his ride home from work. Anchorage needs a vulnerable user law, not an anti-vulnerable user law. Speaking of bike weddings, top pro Frank Schleck is officially off the market. Robbie McEwen gets left off the Aussie team for their home turf world championships. Here’s your chance to get a jersey autographed by three-time Tour de France champ Greg leMond. Guilty of nude cycling — and stopping to chat with an 11-year old girl.

Finally, traffic etiquette for cyclists — written in 1933, but it could have been written yesterday:

On corners you attempt, wherever possible, to brush the person or persons who dare to stand there. It is best if you’re travelling fast enough that you manage to knock one of them over. Then you can confirm beyond a doubt that the person in question was in your way or, in other words, ”That taught them a lesson!”…

In the courtyard you discard the bicycle as carelessly as possible, in order to give any potential bystanders the impression that you’re cool (superior in intelligence).

Ensure that the bicycle is placed so that anyone and everyone can trip over it. You’ll quickly discover that the person who trips over it will pick it up and place it politely against the wall – usually under a sign that reads: ”Bicycles will be removed”.

Leading local scientist and investor killed Friday morning while riding to JPL

I received an email last night from a reader named John, saying that a friend of his had been killed by a speeding motorist while riding his bike in the greater L.A. area, and that another rider had been hospitalized.

So far, there’s been no official confirmation of the report, either from the authorities or in the media. However, Brent pointed out in a comment that Scott Evans wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Thanks everyone for your well wishes! For those who haven’t heard, on Friday morning my buddy Doug Caldwell and I were hit by a car while we were riding our bikes to work at JPL. Unfortunately, Doug did not survive. I was very lucky and only ended up with a 48 hour stay in the hospital and some broken teeth.

As of now, I have no other details about the collision or where it occurred, other than that the driver stayed at the scene; however, unconfirmed reports indicate that Caldwell was taken off life support over the weekend.

Brent also pointed to a LinkedIn profile that appears to be the same Doug Caldwell, listing him as an investor in Pasadena Angeles, a Chief Architect in Renewable Energy Solutions at Boeing, and a principal at Angeles Energy, as well as a former lecturer in Applied Physics at CalTech and a Project Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Other sites seem to confirm that, including a Facebook posting that referred to his death on Saturday — which has since disappeared — and identified him as a co-founder of Ecliptic Enterprises.

In light of today’s Calabasas collision on Mulholland Hwy, in which a car driven by an 81-year old woman caused major injuries to three riders, many people are questioning the ease of getting — and keeping — a drivers license; as Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbuilt put it, a license is too easy to get and too hard to lose.

As John put it in his email,

I’ve read enough news accounts (and your blog as well) to know how it’s going to go. People will say it was an “accident,” when really it’s an artifact of our society’s treatment of driving as a birthright. We hand out drivers’ licenses like banks used to hand out credit cards, and we never seem to take them back.

Let’s remember that we still don’t know the details of either incident, and no one has yet been ticketed or charged in the Calabasas collision — even though it’s easy to infer what probably happened in Calabasas.

But as a society, we have to do something to regain the long-forgotten sense that cars are dangerous machines that must be operated with extreme care, rather than the casual carelessness far too many drivers adopt behind the wheel.

And that there are some people who simply shouldn’t drive, because of declining capabilities.

Or their own actions on the road.

My condolences to the family and friends of Doug Caldwell, and best wishes to Scott Evans for a fast and full recovery.

Three cyclists hit on Mulholland, two critically injured

Bikeside LA reports that three cyclists were hit this morning at the intersection of Mulholland Hwy and Los Virgenes Road in Calabasas, with two cyclists transported to the hospital in critical condition.

I’ve also received word that a bicyclist may have been killed in the L.A. area over the weekend. I’m still waiting for confirmation, and will provide any news as news comes in; if anyone has more information, let me know.

Update: The Daily News reports that the cyclists were riding west on Mulholland, and were struck by an eastbound car driven by an 81-year old woman that turning left onto Stokes Canyon Road around 7:30 am, the third cyclist received minor injuries.

Update 2: Brent confirms the name I was given earlier of the cyclist who was killed, and provides a link to a Facebook page reporting that Doug Caldwell was killed and Scott Evans was injured on their way to work at JPL on Friday.

Update 3: In the Calabasas collision, the Times now reports that three riders suffered major injuries, while a 4th rider suffered minor injuries and was released at the scene. KTLA has video of the aftermath.

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