Archive for November 28, 2010

Covina cyclist found dead, physician calls for helmet law, Contador continues to pout

A 55-year old Covina man apparently died of natural causes while riding his bike on Saturday. The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found lying unresponsive in Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas.


Writing on HuffPo, a physician calls for a mandatory helmet law for all cyclists, motor and otherwise. While I strongly favor helmet use — but oppose making it illegal not to — I’d like to know where he got the unsourced statistic that bike helmets reduce traumatic brain injury (TBI) by 95%.

He also fails to mention that falls are the leading cause of TBIs in the U.S., followed by traffic collisions, hitting or getting hit on the head, and assaults. Or that 45% of injury-related deaths occur in and around the home.

Clearly, the solution is to mandate helmet use for everyone, 24/7.

You know, just in case.

And in another example of America’s obsession with bike helmets, a North Carolina cyclist is killed riding without lights after dark.

Oddly, the reporter focuses on her lack of a helmet, which may or may not have helped, but ignores the obvious risks posed by riding without lights; after all, if she’d been using lights, whether or not she had a helmet might not have mattered.


Tour de France champ Alberto Contador claims to have proof his failed drug test was the result of eating tainted meat, and insists he might just quit cycling if he’s banned.

Meanwhile, the World Anti Doping Agency tells Spain don’t go easy on him or else. And ex-Tour de France champ Floyd “I swear I’m clean and would never, ever dope — oh wait, yeah, I guess I did” Landis says clenbuterol is common in the peloton and guilty riders are protected. Is it just me, or is Contador’s “clear me or I quit” attitude actually starting to make Floyd Landis look good? Or like less of a pathetic lying jerk, at least?

Or maybe not the only one, anyway.

In other pro news, politics may play a role in the investigation into Lance Armstrong, and rising star Taylor Phinney may focus on the road classics rather than track events, and may defend his world pursuit crown


The Times discovers the local bike polo scene. Gary reports on cycling issues at last week’s SaMo City Council meeting. A Castaic woman gives thanks that her husband is still around for Thanksgiving, even if he is in the hospital with serious injuries following a hit-and-run. Claremont Cyclist explains why pelotons function the way they do, and captures Thanksgiving morning in Claremont. Being able to bike to work isn’t the only thing that makes San Louis Obispo the happiest place in the U.S., but it clearly doesn’t hurt; thanks to Stanley for the heads-up. Santa Maria sends its proposed bike plan back for revisions. A Vacaville writer says two wheels are as chic as four. The death of a German tourist in San Francisco last August has been ruled vehicular homicide.

Once you go clipless, you never go back. In a bizarre case, an Oregon cyclist blows through a red light, crashes into a car and rides off — only to be found later stripping to his underwear. My hometown runs a holiday Bikes for Tykes program to recycle unwanted bikes for at risk children; something that L.A. might want to consider copying. Dottie offers her typically lovely bike-centric view of winter’s arrival in the Windy City. As if cyclists didn’t face enough risks, a Tennessee trail rider stops to look at a squirrel and gets bitten by a rattlesnake. Stumbling on a 1944 Swiss Military bike in Boston. In a clear case of the press just not getting it, a NJ cyclist gets doored, but the local paper says he crashed into the truck’s door; technically true, but kind of misses the point. Washington DC’s new-found commitment to bike infrastructure is making the city easier to get around; evidently, though, the city’s new bike share program has a top secret station that requires security clearance. A hit-and-run DC cyclist sends two pedestrians to the hospital, one in critical condition.

Cycling England touts the health benefits of cycling to medical professionals. Apparently, even a video recording of a motorist’s threat isn’t enough to get a prosecution. Women make up just 25% of the people who participate in London’s bike share program; one politician says it’s because of traffic and too few places to clean up. Talking bikes with noted designer Paul Smith. A 10-year old Brit boy invents a device to warn drivers about bikes on the road.

Finally, what I want to find in my stocking this Christmas.

Today’s post, in which I am truly grateful — and only complain a little

Oddly, Thanksgiving is still being held this year, despite marketers’ attempts to bypass it in favor of endlessly extending the holiday shopping season.

Or am I the only one offended by Christmas carols that began playing in stores before Halloween this year — let alone repeated attempts to move Black Friday up by several weeks. And since when has a day that marked retailers’ profits finally moving into the black become a holiday in its own right, anyway?

I won’t bore you with a list of things I’m thankful for. I’ll just acknowledge, as the LACBC pointed out, this has been a very good year for local cyclists. By far, the best in my memory, in fact; a year when the voices of cyclists finally shook the halls of government.

And our civic leaders actually did something about it.

I hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate the people and blessings in your life, as I do in mine. And I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read what I have to share, whether it’s your first time here or you’re a long time regular.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

And I’m very glad that Thanksgiving still means something.


Bike Skirt offers thanks for her many bike blessings, while Damien Newton says thanks to all Streetsblog readers and supporters.


Streetsblog interviews Aktive, who’s gone from a non-rider to a leader in the cycling community in just 14 months. The hard-won Hollywood Trader Joes bike racks disappear without warning. Local residents call for a road diet on Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. Continuing with Wednesday’s theme, a Santa Cruz County driver is arrested for allegedly running a cyclist off the road, then making a U-turn to come back and threaten him.

A reminder that not all tragic deaths occur on the road. When it comes to pro racing, a good excuse is all in how you frame it. Tips on the art of winter commuting; if it gets much colder here, we may need them ourselves. Despite being in effect since 2008, Vancouver, Washington’s mandatory helmet law is widely ignored and unenforced. Some of the city hall staffers who promote New York bike lanes ride in them, too. A Brit cyclist learns how to ride in New York.

Bromptons graduate from geek chic to everyone’s favorite commuter bike. London’s bike share program opens up to non-members next week. Police warn the UK’s new Deputy Prime Minister not to commute by bike to Downing Street. Oxford students buy bike lights to avoid tickets, then return them afterwards. A cyclist missing for eight hours is found with a broken leg and suffering from hypothermia after she was possibly struck by a car. A New Zealand rider asks why are cyclists are being picked on after the carnage of recent weeks. Cycling communities around the world reach out to those in need this holiday season.

Finally, a writer says I’m not a F***ing cyclist, I’m a Ruby’s daddy on a bike, while the Initiative Director for the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan says that she didn’t hear one single motorist yell an obscenity at a cyclist while she was in Amsterdam.

And if you’re looking for the perfect condiment for that turkey, it appears L.A.’s favorite native-born hot sauce has been around a lot longer than we thought.

Best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving.

On zombies, boogey men, murderous drivers and Dr. Christopher Thompson

Evidently, drivers aren’t really like zombies after all.

I’ve been catching up AMC’s Walking Dead lately — a must for fans of the mindless flesh-eating oeuvre, especially those of us who prefer the classic slow-moving zombies to their zippier modern brethren.

Watching it caused me to briefly entertain the notion that those swarming undead masses hungry for human flesh might make a decent metaphor for some of the deadlier drivers with whom we find ourselves sharing the roads.

But it didn’t really fit.

While too many drivers operate mindlessly behind the wheel, and allow their cell phones and other distractions to divert their attention from the road, the simple fact is that most drivers aren’t actually out to get us, despite how it sometimes seems. And while there may be great swarms of them swirling around us, the overwhelming majority of motorists are more concerned with the minutiae of their own lives than the presence of those of us on two wheels.

And yes, that is every bit as good and bad as it sounds.

Still, there are some scattered in that great mass of humanity on our roads who really do want to cause us harm.

Think of it as the early stages of a zombie infestation, when there are still just a few infected souls feasting on the unsuspecting.

Take David Mark Clark, the Bay Area man accused of intentionally running down four separate cyclists in a six minute hit-and-run rampage, for instance.

Or the driver who made a U-turn to come back and hit Opus the Poet, nom de web of the author of Witch on a Bicycle.

As long time readers will know, Opus has made it his life’s work to report on collisions and assaults involving cyclists, and offer advice on how to avoid similar situations yourself.

But what you may not know is that he himself is a survivor of a horrific near-fatal collision that left him with lasting life-changing injuries. And the simple fact that he’s still here riding and fighting for other cyclists makes him far more than just another bike blogger in my book.

In the last few days, though, he revealed that he finally found the driver who hit him; ironically, by the time he finally found the driver, the man was already six feet under in a local cemetery, the victim of another collision. And for the first time I’m aware of, Opus explained just what happened — and what it’s like to know he’ll never have a chance to confront his attacker:

There’s not much to tell from before the wreck. Until I got hit Dallas and Richardson cops would shadow my commute route because as one cop put it “Son, you are an idiot magnet.” and they could get a month’s worth of tickets from people acting stupid around me on my after midnight commute home. Garland cops couldn’t have cared less. Just before I crossed into Garland someone in a white pickup shouted at me to “Get off the Fucking road!” and a few minutes later someone in a white pickup shouted the same thing doing about 65 MPH just before I got hit by him….

Well in spite of finding out the guy I wanted to torture to death with blunt impact trauma has already died life must go on (just not for him). I never will get to find out why he made a u-turn around a median to come back and kill me, what inspired that level of rage. I think that’s the thing that bothers me the most about this whole “resolution” thing, it doesn’t resolve anything. I want to know “Why?” so I can do something about it in the future. Of course if the answer to “Why?” is “Because I’m an asshole and don’t like bicycles on the road.” there isn’t much I can do about that except request some kind of screening during the driver’s license test that prevents people like that from ever getting a license, along with stricter laws against driving without a license, ideally the same penalties as carrying concealed without a CHL. Whatever, I’m just glad the asshole population on the roads in control of deadly weapons of mass destruction has been reduced by one.

Then there’s our own biking Boogey Man, the good doctor whose name we invoke to frighten young cyclists — knowing full well that the man who used his car to attack two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon is locked safely behind bars.

Except, as noted here recently, there’s no guarantee he’s going to stay there.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Christopher Thompson is appealing his convictions for mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon (his car), battery with serious injury, and reckless driving causing injury.

Surprisingly, though, cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, who has followed the case from the beginning — and brought all of us into the courtroom with him — says he may have a point. While he’s still giving it some thought, he says it looks like Thompson may have some interesting, and potentially valid, arguments.

According to Wheels, Thompson’s appeal is based on six key grounds —

  1. Trial court erred when it allowed evidence of alleged prior conduct
  2. Trial court erred in finding appellant presumptively ineligible for probation
  3. Failure to object to jury verdict forms was ineffective assistance of counsel
  4. Trial court abused discretion in failing to grant probation
  5. Trial court abused discretion in awarding Peterson and Stoehr attorney fees of $20,000 each as restitution
  6. Appellant entitled to one additional day of presentence custody credit

Whether the appellate court will agree should be determined sometime next year. But it’s possible that 2011 may see Dr. Thompson back on the streets.

I think I’d rather take my chances with the zombies.

Especially the slow ones.


In a victory for Santa Monica cyclists, their City Council considers relaxing the penalty for riding on the sidewalk, while the City Attorney acknowledges that the city’s bike licensing law doesn’t comply with state law.

Now if someone could just tell Long Beach.


LACBC offers a cheat sheet courtesy of bike attorney Ross Hirsch in case you’re hit by a car. The new Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path is finally open. One of L.A.’s best wrenches (aka bike mechanic) has been running a great series of photos of bike shop decals from around the country, now gathered in one place; I have one I’ll have to send him. LADOT Bike Blog says December will be a busy month for local cyclists; you can add another Streetsblog fundraiser to the list. Highlights from yesterday’s Living Car-Free in Southern California live chat from KPCC, or read the complete transcript. The Mandoline Grill food truck offers a ride-up discount. SoCal mountain bikers will raise funds for five-year old Tyler Blick in his battle with leukemia on Friday with the 24-hour Le Tour de Tryptophan. Public bikes pop up in the Gap’s San Francisco flagship store.

Electric cars and hybrids will soon make noise to warn others on the road. Eugene, Oregon cyclists get a beautiful new car-free bridge. NYDOT Commissioner Jannette Sadik-Khan is interviewed in Esquire, while the city puts out a call for graffiti-resistant one-size-fits-all bikes for its new bike share plan. The head of AAA in the DC area insists bike lanes are part of a war on drivers. A cyclist killed Sunday in Gulfport, Alabama devoted his time to charity work, despite being homeless. Three — or maybe three-and-a-half — U.S. teams will compete on next year’s pro tour.

Here’s your chance to ride with one of cycling’s all-time greatest riders, as Eddy Merckx promises to ride in a new B.C. Granfondo. A London cyclist complains her coat seems to make her invisible to drivers; I’ve got a blue jersey that seems to do the same thing. A dog walker is upset when an off-road race blocks access to his favorite trails. A blind Scot pedestrian is injured by a hit-and-run cyclist. Spanish cyclists win the right to ride on the sidewalk.

Finally, a Kiwi writer says bikes and cars are a dangerous mix — and suggests banning them from the roads for our own good, since drivers can’t be bothered to drive safely. Tell that to Octavio Orduno, who’s still riding at age 102

Stop complaining and join something, already

Writing for Orange 20 Bikes, Richard Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation observes that while surrounding cities are throwing down bike love, L.A. has meetings…and more meetings.

There’s no excuse. Size doesn’t matter: New York and Chicago, the cities that bracket us in size, are going great guns on bike infrastructure, and they also have the issues of budget constraints, poverty, diversity, and a multiplicity of languages and culture that LA officials have used to excuse our slow crawl towards a Bicycle Millennium.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of great work being done for cycling in LA. I wrote it up last year. But most of it’s being done by NGOs such as the LACBC, CICLE, and so forth. LA’s government seems to be in a reactive mode. And that isn’t the way to get things done very quickly.

Still, it’s what we have. This means that making Los Angeles a true bicycling city is up to us for now.

Yeah, that means you too. Look up those organizations linked to in the previous sentence and lend a hand. The more of us are involved, the louder will be our voices (and our votes). Eventually they’ll have to listen.

He’s right.

It’s up to us. And there’s strength in numbers. It’s not enough to ride your bike and bitch about how bad things are here. You need to get involved.

The sad fact is, if you combined the total membership of every bike advocacy organization in the L.A. area, at most, maybe 10% of the cyclists who ride on a daily basis belong to one, based on the estimated number of riders in the new bike plan.

And that number drops to 2% or less of the people who ride on a monthly basis — many of whom would ride more often if there was sufficient infrastructure in place to make them feel safer on our streets.

So get involved.

Don’t wait. Don’t think about it.

If you don’t already belong to an advocacy organization, sign up today.

Join the LACBC. Join C.I.C.L.E. Join Bikeside. Join Santa Monica Spoke, the South Bay Bicycle Coalition, Long Beach Cyclists or any of the other local advocacy groups.

Make it an early New Years resolution to find one that supports your goals and interests.

But join something, now.

Because one voice is easily ignored. But together, the cycling community will have a powerful voice to shake the halls of government, here in L.A. and the surrounding SoCal communities, as well as in Sacramento and D.C.

And we haven’t even cleared out throat yet.

It’s time to be heard.


A recall has been ordered for Full Speed Ahead BB30 Gossamer double crank sets; bikes affected include 2010 and 2010 models from Bianchi, Cannondale, Felt, Fuji, Quintana Roo, Litespeed, Raleigh and Scattante. The cranks affected are painted black with “Gossamer” in white lettering or white with “Gossamer” in black lettering, and have serial numbers beginning with 10B, 10C or 10D; injuries have been reported as a result of defective cranks.


LAPD wants your help to find the hit-and-run driver who ran down an 81-year old woman in Koreatown. Santa Monica invites cyclists to an open house to discuss the city’s Bicycle Action Plan on December 13th. New bike corrals in Long Beach. A suspected drunk cyclist is hospitalized and arrested after fracturing his skull in a fall. Ex-Long Beach cyclist Laura Crawford explains what it feels like to have an emotional breakdown in the middle of a cross-country bike ride. Claremont Cyclist asks what kind of person drives in a bike lane. People in Bakersfield would be a lot better off if they all followed the lead of cyclists. A 73-year old Santa Maria cyclist is killed in a SWSS (Single Witness Suicide Swerve), as the driver claims the victim inexplicably turned in front of him.

Idaho cyclists sue after being to get off and walk on a popular bike path. The Kansas City Star applauds the city’s progress in creating biking infrastructure. Detroit’s M-bike takes a look at a 1894 patent for a suspended Bicycle Trolley-Car. A driver is accused of trying to pass too closely in a fatal 2009 collision with a cyclist; as usual, he claims the cyclist suddenly swerved into him. A New York cyclist collides with a 7-year old kid on the Brooklyn bridge; some wonder why this is even a story. The Wall Street Journal looks at the conflict between cyclists and drivers resulting from New York’s boom in biking, while the New York Times examines the backlash to the rapid expansion in biking infrastructure and asks what readers think. A Virginia cyclist says there’s no reason to be a scofflaw, while a writer for Alta offers advice on how to respond to accusing drivers. A Florida cyclist killed Sunday was a serious triathlete and the area’s unofficial ambassador for bicycling.

Buildings don’t cause traffic, people do. A recovering engineer questions the road standards that have destroyed our cities and put us all at risk. Bike commuting can save you up to $8,000 a year. Advance on what to do when you’re being followed by an angry threatening driver. A CNN writer says giving up his car was the best decision ever. Bicycling is safe and healthy modern transportation, but could be a lot better. Beginner and experienced bike locking techniques. Two separate cyclists celebrate the joys of riding alone and the zen of solo cycling. How to align a bent derailleur.

An 81-year old Vancouver man is killed in a collision with a cyclist; reportedly, the cyclist was traveling at 50 kph — 30 mph — which should have resulted in serious injuries the rider, as well. Birmingham, England cracks down on dangerous drivers who put cyclists at risk. The UK will increase penalties for drivers who fail to display their license plates; it’s about time California did the same. Two women are sentenced to community service and supervision for assaulting a cyclist. A look at the sad condition of bicycling infrastructure in Italy. The state of cycling in St. Petersburg. An Australian study shows 87% of bicycling collisions are caused by drivers; most resulting from unsafe left — our right — turns.

Finally, it helps to be a mind reader to understand why some drivers hope we get run over. And while the name of the column is Road Rant, a Cleveland writer takes a surprisingly positive view towards sharrows.

Champion triathlete Jordan Rapp survives a near-fatal hit-and-run to compete again

On November 22nd, 2009, Jordan Rapp set a course record in winning the Ford Ironman Arizona triathlon.

Four months later, he was nearly killed in a horrifying Camarillo hit-and-run, suffering two severed jugular veins, losing over two liters of blood and shattering his face, collarbone and shoulder when he broadsided a truck that turned into the path of his bike. Authorities believe the suspect in the case, Marco Garcia-Ortiz, may have fled to Mexico.

This Sunday he’ll defend his championship in Tempe, Arizona.

And the man who saved his life will be watching.

Update: Rapp not only completed the race today, he nearly made the podium by finishing fourth — capping an amazing comeback over the past eight months. I may just have a new hero.

Breaking news: Michael Nine case ends in hung jury; retrial begins next week

Somehow, I missed this story last night; fortunately, Richard Masoner at Cyclelicious seldom seems to miss anything.

He sends word that the trial of Jose Louis Huerta Mundo, charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the July death of cyclist Michael Nine in Newport Beach, has ended in a hung jury. According the Daily Pilot, there’s no word on how the jury broke down in in favor or against conviction.

However, the courts aren’t wasting any time; a new trial is set to begin on Tuesday, November 23rd.

Memorial ride for James Laing, and why it’s important to remember those who died

Jim Laing, photo courtesy of his sister Peggy Laing-Krause

Late word is that the memorial ride for James Laing scheduled for Saturday morning will be held rain or shine.

Sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club, the easy, 16-mile ride is being held in memory of the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk hit-and-run driver in Agoura Hills on October 23rd, and will visit the roadside memorial where he was killed. The ride is scheduled to begin at 8 am at the Agoura Hills Bicycle John’s, 29041 Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to be there; if you can’t, or if you read this later, I hope you’ll join me in offering a short prayer or a moment of silence for Jim, his wife Lulu and all of their family and loved ones.


A couple of friends raised a good point lately.

They said that, while they enjoy reading about biking in this overgrown traffic-choked city we call home, it’s depressing to read about the seemingly endless barrage of deaths on SoCal streets lately.

I couldn’t argue with them; that’s something I’ve worried myself. And trust me, if you think it’s depressing reading things like that, try writing about them.

So let me explain why I do it.

It’s certainly not to suggest that cycling is dangerous. The number of people killed or injured on bikes pales in comparison to the number of miles we ride every day. And as studies have shown, the benefits of bicycling more than outweigh whatever risks we may face on the roads.

Though you can certainly improve your odds by doing simple things like using lights after dark, signaling, stopping for red lights and riding with traffic.

But there are reasons why these stories need to be told.

First, it’s import to remember the victims.

Except in rare cases, traffic fatalities seldom make the news. Or if one does, it’s usually just a few paragraphs buried in the paper or on a news website.

If you’ve been a reader here for awhile, you may have noticed that few things offend me more than a news report that doesn’t tell you much more than someone was killed while riding a bike.

Nothing about how it happened or why, or who was responsible; nothing about the victim or the heart-wrenching hole that’s been torn in the lives left behind. Sometimes, not even a name, or any follow-up once it’s released.

On rare occasions, the press gets it right. Other times, I feel like someone has to make sure they aren’t forgotten. And when I look around, I see that someone is usually me.

I’ve received enough comments and emails from family and friends of the various victims to know that it offers at least some comfort to know that someone, even a total stranger, cared enough to say something.

Second, I want to put whatever pressure I can on the mainstream media to same them into reporting these stories.

Somehow, we long ago reached the point where traffic fatalities ceased to be news. The 33,000 or more deaths that occur on American roads each year have come to be seen as collateral damage, the cost of getting from here to there — if we even stop to think about it at all.

We don’t want to consider the carnage on our highways, or the 93 people who leave home every day and never return.

But it’s something we have to think about, because the cost is too damn high.

The average American driver has long ago forgotten that a motor vehicle is an exceptionally dangerous thing. When we look at our cars, trucks, vans and SUVs, we see friendly, almost anthropomorphic machines that carry our loads and get us where we want to go.

And no one ever looks in the mirror and sees a careless, distracted or overly aggressive driver.

But maybe we should.

It’s responsibility of the press to be that mirror, and force us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves. Even if we don’t like what we see.

It may be too much to ask them to report on each of the nearly 31,000 or more fatal collisions every year (the numbers don’t add up because some collisions result in more than one death). But the relative handful of bicycling deaths — 630 nationwide last year — can, and should be, reported.

Because along with pedestrians, we’re the ones most vulnerable to the actions and distractions of those with whom we share the road.

Finally, it has to stop.

No one should have to risk their life simply because he or she decided to go out for a bike ride, or chose to benefit our city and planet by choosing a healthier and less harmful mode of transportation.

Compared to 33,000 total traffic deaths, 630 may not seem like much. But even one death is one too many — let alone 14 in the last four months alone.

As others have pointed out, the death of a cyclist is no more tragic than the death of pedestrian or a motorist, or any of the other countless accidental or violent deaths that occur in our cities everyday.

I learned a long time ago, though, that I can’t fight every fight, no matter how much I may care. But this is one I can take on.

I’m a cyclist, and this website is about bicycling.

That makes it my fight.

Our fight.

And I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that the last bike death was the last bike death.

If we can do that, then the loss of people like Jim Laing and Danny Marin may not feel any less tragic or heartbreaking than they do today.

But maybe, just maybe, some good will come out of them.


In a non-bike related case, a driver with two previous DUI convictions gets 15 years to life for causing a fatal freeway collision by trying to pass rush hour traffic on the shoulder at over 70 mph while high on grass and prescription drugs.


Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Flying Pigeon sponsors its next Get Some Dim Sum Ride on Sunday, November 20th, including a visit to the Arroyo Arts Collective 18th Annual Discovery Tour; riders meet at 10 am at Flying Pigeon LA, 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on Saturday, December 11th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Bike Long Beach sponsors a two part Traffic Skills 101 Course to teach cyclists how to ride in traffic. November’s session has been cancelled due to expected rain; the next class is scheduled for Wednesday, December 15th from 6 – 8 pm, with part two following on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 9 am – noon at Cal State Long Beach.

Mark your calendar for the LACBC’s all-day Holiday Open House on Tuesday, December 28th at the Library Alehouse, 2911 Main Street in Santa Monica. Festivities begin at 11 am and continue until closing with great food and beer, fun and raffle prizes; a percentage of the days sales will be donated to the LACBC.

Explore the effects of bicycles on art and culture at Re:Cycle — Bike Culture in Southern California, at U.C. Riverside’s newly relocated Sweeney Art Gallery at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts3834 Main Street in downtown Riverside, exhibition continues through December 31st.

The Bikerowave will ring in 2011 with a New Years Eve party, starting at 8 pm on December 31st at 12255 Venice Blvd.


Damien Newton presents three more candidates to lead LADOT; lets just hope the Mayor reads Streetsblog. Bicycle Kitchen still has workshops open this month, including one Saturday morning on wrenching bottom brackets and headsets. And I though getting a flat from a late night pothole was a problem. CicLAvia explores uncharted territory, as the biking community finally discovers South L.A. Work starts on the northern extension of the Orange Line Bikeway. Bikes and ebikes crash the L.A. Car Show. Pasadena City College students discuss why they ride. Bike-banning USC may soon provide cyclists and pedestrians with their own bike boulevard; maybe one day they’ll even be a Bike-Friendly University, but I’d put my money on UCLA first. Charlie Gandy invites you to ride Long Beach in search of the perfect tres leche. Just Another cyclist covers the vital topic of bike lights, particularly now that it’s getting dark earlier. A Palo Alto cyclist is hit by a salmon hit-and-run driver. To clip or not to clip, that is the commuting cyclists’ question. San Francisco cyclists get five new green boxes on Market Street.

Sure, you can prepare your bike for winter storage, but why would you — especially if you live in L.A.? Good advice: grant yourself permission to be a beginner. Helmet cams and carbon wheels for junior racers won’t be banned after all. A comparison of bike commuting benefits in the US and the UK. A Portland writer says please don’t dump your trash in the bike lane, or you’ll hurt his dad. Serial numbers and Samaritans unite three hot bikes with their owners. An OKC thief makes his getaway by bike with a large flat-screen TV. A Chicago cyclist decides to keep riding after getting doored. People for Bikes offers an introduction to federal funding for bicycling, while Streetsblog DC says the GOP wants to take transportation funding back to the 1950s and an influential group fights bike projects in the district. A DC cyclist gets hit by a cab, then ticketed while still in the hospital — without ever speaking to a cop about the collision. Family members question whether a rider’s apparent solo accident was actually a homicide.

A Toronto cyclist killed in a collision with a streetcar may not have been able to see the traffic signal. Alejandro Valverde fails to overturn an Italian doping ban. Biking Barcelona’s beachfront bikeway. After a Kiwi cyclist is fatally doored, officials decide to remove the offending parking spots. Unbelievably, the Singapore driver who hit a cyclist, bouncing him off her windshield, before driving home with the bike still stuck under her car, gets off with an $800 fine. Pneumatic tires — like the ones on your bike — were invented because John Dunlop Jr. had a bumpy ride on his trike.

Finally, to help get you in the mood for the upcoming holiday season, how about a Christmas tree made entirely of bikes?

Celebrating L.A.’s most magnificent, wheel crunching and sometimes life-giving potholes

Just one of the many massive potholes cyclists have to contend with in the City of Angels.

No one has to tell L.A. cyclists that the streets are getting worse.

These days, even a brief ride means dodging potholes and ridges of rumpled asphalt that can take down even the most careful riders. And God help the bike rider taking a new route after dark, unaware of the road hazards that lay hidden in the night.

That was driven, or more precisely, ridden home last night, as my riding companion and I plowed into a deep rut left behind by road work on Olympic Blvd.

We both hit it hard; my front wheel hit it squarely, causing my back wheel to fly off the ground and briefly putting me at risk of going over the handlebars. Fortunately, I nailed the landing and escaped unscathed.

My companion wasn’t so lucky.

While he successfully navigated the rut, it took a toll on his tires as the rear quickly went flat. Once he got the tire off, it didn’t take long to spot the telltale twin snakebite punctures caused by solid smack against an unflinching surface. Fortunately, I had a spare tube with me, and we were back on our way in just a few minutes.

Unfortunately, though, the city’s budget problems mean that the roads aren’t going to get fixed anytime soon. While L.A. says it’s still fixing potholes, the job doesn’t seem to be getting done as fast or as well as it has in the past, and other issues — like the trench we hit last night — present more complicated problems. And many streets are long past the point where patching would do any good.

Which bring us to my current candidate for the worst pothole in the city.

Other cyclists may point to the huge recurring pothole caused by flowing water on 4th Street known as the Hudson River. Or the endless series of cracks, ruts and gaping holes on the westbound stretch of Wilshire Blvd between Beverly Glen and Wilshire Blvds unaffectionately called the Gauntlet.

Pothole planter at Glendon and Holman.

But I would direct your attention to the intersection of Holman and Glendon Avenues in Westwood, where you’ll find what I call the Westwood Community Garden — a pothole of such breadth, depth and duration that is has grown to become an unofficial city planter.

And judging by the multiple L.A. Street Services sawhorses gathered in its gaping maw, one that the city is well aware of and chooses to ignore, instead allowing nature to reclaim a small section of our asphalt megalopolis.

Fortunately, it’s not a street that cyclists frequent. And we can always use a little more greenery here on the Westside.

So call it a victory of nature. Or even a failure of city government.

Just don’t try riding through it.

L.A. Street Services has clearly staked out their turf.

If you have a better candidate for Pothole of the Year, send me your photos and I’ll post them on here. The winner will receive absolutely nothing, other than the satisfaction of knowing the continued neglect of your streets has not gone unnoticed by your peers.

And remember — unless you know for a fact that there are no cars behind you or on your left, you’re often better off riding through the pothole than suddenly darting into traffic to go around it.


Following on the heels of the recent rescue of two scuba divers by a pair of biking triathletes in Malibu, a hero cyclist saves the life of a woman drowning in the San Gabriel River.

Meanwhile, a teenage salmon cyclist in Calabasas stops a drunk driver after narrowly avoiding a collision himself. Oddly, while recognizing his actions, not one word about the obvious dangers of riding the wrong way in traffic — or that he wouldn’t have been in the drunk’s way to begin with if he’d been riding on the right side of the street.

Note to cyclists: Saving lives, good; wrong-way riding, bad.


A hit-and-run driver is in custody after critically injuring a cyclist at the intersection of Walnut and Browning Avenues in Tustin; the name of the driver and victim have not yet been released.


Lulu Laing, widow of cyclist Jim Laing killed by an alleged drunk driver in Agoura Hills last month, writes about her loss on Bikeside; warning — reading it will just break your heart all over again.


Victorious hit-and-run victim Ed Magos writes to thank the L.A. cycling community for its support. Streetsblog interviews bike advocate and BAC member Ayla Stern, and recommends four fresh faces who should be considered as the new head of LADOT. The UCLA Bike Coalition sponsors its first group ride on Friday, while Flying Pigeon sponsors its next Get Some Dim Sum Ride on Sunday including a visit to the Arroyo Arts Collective 18th Annual Discovery Tour. Currie Technologies opens its first iZIP store in Venice, offering electric bikes and ebike tours of Venice, Santa Monica and the Marina.

The driver who killed a cyclist near Portola Valley earlier this month had been involved in two previous fatal collisions, including a 2007 collision that took the life of another cyclist. Cycling the 31-mile California Delta ride. Promoting bicycling in the African American community through the National Brotherhood of Cyclists. Lovely Bicycle compares different types of Mixtes. A bicycling Portland bus driver stops a thief from stealing a ghost bike. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, a Seattle cyclist is attacked with an umbrella. No matter how mad you get at a driver, do not throw your bike at the offending vehicle. New York cyclists are blindsided by the removal of a vital Staten Island bike lane.

Happy birthday to the world’s oldest bike shop, which just turned 150 but doesn’t look a day over 135. Sadly, the Joy of Cycling didn’t make the cut for a new London cycling promotion. Brit road safety experts call for a ban on large trucks in cities to protect cyclists, while an aptly named severely hung-over truck driver gets seven years and a lifetime driving ban, and a cyclist wins a £280,000 settlement in another case. A new campaign urges drivers to be BikeAware. Budget cuts in Scotland could undo years of bike and pedestrian progress. Tour de France champ Alberto Contador claim his positive doping test resulted from tainted meat; the World Anti-Doping Agency says “yeah, right.” Signage for salmon cyclists. Australia introduces new standards for bike helmets to provide better protection, making thousands of unsold helmets obsolete. An Aussie cyclist is hit by an SUV while fleeing from police. A third cyclist has died in the head-on collision that took the lives of two other cyclists on Sunday, while a British tourist is fatally doored — making five New Zealand bike deaths in five days.

Finally, stunt ace Danny MacAskill releases his latest film full of impossible tricks. And if you thought you were skilled on a bike, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Evidently, juries blame the bike-riding victims too

Maryland injury lawyer Ronald V. Miller, Jr. forwarded a couple of interesting links.

They show that while the average jury award in a bike case is $279,970, the median is only $50,000, thanks to a handful of high verdicts that skew the average. And they reveal that cyclists only prevail in 41% of cases — something that hasn’t significantly changed in the past 20 years.

In case you wonder why, you only have to look as far the comment section of virtually any online story about bicycling. There are people who just don’t like cyclists and don’t think we belong on the roads — and believe anything that happens to us as a result is our fault, regardless of what the law says.

And those are some of the same people you’ll find in jury pools.

To put it in perspective, motorcyclists injured by cars — hardly a popular group in our society — prevail in court roughly two-thirds of the time.

Which means we’re even less sympathetic to jurors than your neighborhood biker.

As Miller’s legal partner, Laura G. Zois, put it,

The motorcycle thing (that) drives our lawyers crazy is when we know our client is a motorcyclist who did the right thing and the defense lawyer is just using the bias against motorcyclists in a way that completely ignores the real facts. But I’m amazed this same bias also exists to bike riders.

Miller himself adds,

I think the relatively low success rate of bicycle accident cases at trial is a general bias against bikes that may be even stronger than the bias against motorcycles. Many jurors, who typically drive cars, simply think bicycles shouldn’t be on the road.

However, one place I disagree with him is that, like our mayor, he calls for a mandatory helmet law.

While I never ride without one — and credit mine for saving my life in the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter a few years back — I think making helmet use mandatory would be counterproductive.

As others have pointed out, despite the low rate of helmet use in many parts of Europe, the injury rate is also significantly lower, which many people ascribe to the greater number of cyclists on the road and greater emphasis on accident prevention. And there is evidence to suggest that the reduction in injury rates in areas with helmet laws is due to a decline in ridership after the law takes effect, rather than an actual reduction in the rate of injuries per mile travelled.

I think a program to encourage helmet use — such as a tax break for buying a helmet or a discount on insurance rates for using one — would do far more to increase the number of riders who wear one, as opposed to a more punitive approach that might only increase the percentage of helmet use, while reducing the actual number cyclists on the road.

On the other hand, one study I haven’t seen yet is the effect helmet use has on jury verdicts.

I have a feeling most jurors would look far more favorably on an injured rider with a skid lid than one without one.

And be far more likely to blame the helmetless rider for his own injuries.


I love this comment from Meghan Kavanagh on her Facebook page; made, she said, in frustration after nearly getting run over from both directions while in a crosswalk:

We should not have to educate seniors, pedestrians, and cyclists on how to deal with reckless drivers. We should stop the reckless driving.

Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?


Cyclist and attorney Ross Hirsch updates his webpage, and looks like the bike attorney he is. Mayor Villaraigosa’s bicycle proposals go before the Metro board on Thursday. Car-less Valley Girl finds her bike helmet a useful prop for social interaction. Stripes hit the L.A. River Bike Path through Elysian Valley. The Claremont Cyclist discovers the joys of the unexpected. Turns out the “don’t touch my junk” guy is one of us. Bicycle cops are the best bet for improving campus security. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition gives out free lights to Ninja cyclists by the Bay. Cyclelicious demonstrates how to avoid the door zone; SF Streetsblog asks if you should say anything to riders who ride there.

An appropriately named Boulder, CO cyclist is arrested for biking under the influence with a BAC of .215. The ups and downs of bike commuting, and a look at Chicago’s Cocktail Party Ride. European car manufacturers are getting on the bike bandwagon; will Detroit follow suit? Can death and serious injury ever be eliminated from our roadways? An off-duty Connecticut police officer was drinking before he ran down a teenage cyclist, but fellow officers neglected to give him a blood test; link courtesy of Urban Velo. Advocacy group People for Bikes gathers their 150,000th pledge; you’ll find mine somewhere around 20,000 or so.

The lead investigator in the Lance Armstrong Inquisition meets with the French anti-doping agency. A London cyclist finds her stolen bike, only to have it slip through her fingers. Regular exercise, such as bicycling, is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Finally, after the year with no summer, this is what November looks like on the beach. And it turns out the reason we need a Subway to the Sea is that above ground rail has been permanently barred from Wilshire Blvd, as in forever.

A couple quick personal notes — a speedy recovery to Rach, who survived a silent collision with a Prius last night, and says she managed to capture a photo of the suspect. Welcome to Cheryl T, who recently bought a bike and joined the L.A. cycling community; remember, new girl buys the donuts. And happy anniversary to LAPD Chief Beck, who in one year has done more to improve relations with the cycling community than all the chiefs who came before.

BAC Chair Glenn Bailey files to run for L.A. City Council

Glenn Bailey, left, with other members of the BAC.

Evidently, Stephen Box isn’t the only local bike advocate running for City Council next spring.

I’d glanced at the list of candidates who filed before the deadline on Saturday, but hadn’t really paid much attention to it; other than Box and the current council members running for re-election, none of the names jumped out at me.

I should have looked a little harder.

I was on the phone last night with Hillel Aron, Editor-at-Large of Neon Tommy, USC’s outstanding online news source, when he asked what I thought about bike advocates such as Stephen Box and Glenn Bailey running for the council.

Wait a minute, I said.

Glenn Bailey is running for L.A. City Council?

So as soon as I got off the phone, I went back to look at the list of candidates to succeed retiring Councilmember Grieg Smith. And there he was, one of 11 candidates running in that district and the 72nd person to file for the council in Los Angeles, filing his papers on Friday, November 12th.

It’s true.

Neighborhood Council member and Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Glenn Bailey is running for City Council in the Valley’s District 12. And yes, it’s the same Glenn Bailey.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be on the ballot.

He still has to gather 1000 valid signatures (pdf) by December 8th to make it on the ballot, or gather 500 signatures and pay a $300 filing fee; unfortunately, petitions can only be signed by people registered to vote in that district or I’d volunteer to sign right now. And he has until December 13th to change his mind and back out.

But depending on how things turn out on March 8th, two of the city’s leading voices on behalf of cyclists could be doing a lot more than speaking for us.

And speaking of Grieg Smith, he promises to protect the Wilbur Ave bike lanes when and if the road diet is reconfigured.


In light of Bailey’s candidacy, this would be a good time to remember his eloquent remarks at Mayor Villaraigosa’s recent Bike Summit.

Good morning Mayor Villaraigosa, fellow cyclists.

On behalf of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Mayor’s Bike Summit.

The BAC, was established by Mayor Bradley 35 years ago to make recommendations to the City on all bicycle related matters.  It is composed of an appointee of each of the fifteen Councilmembers and four from the Mayor.  For most of Mayor Bradley’s twenty years in office, his office staffed the Committee.  As a result, when the Mayor’s office called a City department about a bicycle matter, they were usually responsive.

Several days ago the Mayor’s office requested the top bicycle priorities of the BAC.  I invited each BAC member to respond and those suggestions have been compiled and submitted to your office as an “unofficial” list.


Mr. Mayor, last December in an interview from Copenhagen you stated that the Los Angeles has to do a much better job for bicycling.  We couldn’t agree more.

A better job for bicycling means safely accommodating bicycles on all projects, on all streets, without exception.

A better job for bicycling means the prompt repair of potholes, cleaning debris, and other hazardous road conditions.

A better job for bicycling means the vigorous enforcement against the blocking of bike lanes by delivery vehicles, unhitched trailers, or anything else.  (Audience:  trash cans!)

A better job for bicycling means a transit system that integrates cyclists in every aspect of its operation, not just when it’s convenient to do so.

A better job for bicycling means providing convenient and secure parking at every City building and park, including at City Hall itself, and at all commercial and retail locations.

A better job for bicycling means holding the line, in fact, rolling back the recent increases in speed limits.

A better job for bicycling means a properly trained police force that enforces the law equally and fairly and that protects and respects the rights of cyclists.

A better job for bicycling means vehicular hit and runs will be fully investigated and prosecuted for the crimes that they are.

A better job for bicycling means a visionary and robust City Bicycle Plan that is implemented each and every day, not just sitting on sitting on a shelf for five years awaiting its next revision.

A better job for bicycling means installing at least fifty miles of bicycle lanes every year for the next three years, rather than the five mile annual average of the past fourteen years under the current 1996 Bicycle Plan.

A better job for bicycling means incorporating the City Council endorsed Cyclist’s Bill of Rights in the operation of every City department and every action taken by the City and its employees.

And a better job for bicycling means welcoming and encouraging cyclists to participate in every step of the decision making process, the outcome of which affects our very lives.

Thank you for listening and for your support.


Two actors on ABC’s Castle agree to go car free in Los Angeles for seven days a month, and follow their progress on an online reality program.


An L.A. bike theft is caught on tape, and $1000 reward is offered for return of the bikes; in Tucson, a police car is shown rolling past a bike theft in progress captured on a security camera.


The social calendar is starting to get busy, as the South Bay Bike Coalition is holding an informal cocktail mixer from 7 – 9 Tuesday night, and the Bikerowave plans a New Years Eve party, which could be the highlight, or highlighter, of the year.


The LACBC announces their first annual report is now available for download. Bob Muellner reports on the proposed anti-harassment ordinance on KCRW’s Shortcuts blog, and says if everyone would just obey standard traffic laws, things would go a lot better. Meanwhile, KPCC profiles L.A. eco, bike and river activist extraordinaire Joe Linton; anyone notice that it’s the public radio stations who provide the best coverage of bicycling issues? Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles offers a workshop on Winter Training for Metabolic Efficiency this Wednesday. A cyclist discovers LADOT’s bike riding parking enforcement officers. Glendale plans to add bike parking downtown; granted, it’s only five words out of the entire article, but it’s a good five words. The latest area bike co-op is born as the Bicycle Lounge opens its doors in Riverside. San Francisco buses, bikes and businesses battle to be king of the road. A Redding bike count shows an 80% increase in the last year alone.

Pick your bicycling calendar for the upcoming year, including one from Long Beach’s cycling expats, Russ Roca and Laura Crawford. Or maybe you’d prefer an autographed George Hincapie championship jersey. Victims of distracted driving are remembered online. Even the U.S. Secretary of Energy rides a bike. An all natural, biodegradable spoke card. A new website celebrates the bicycle as an art form; thanks to EvoVelo for the link. MTV host and BMX cyclist TJ Lavin returns home after a nearly fatal bike stunt. A Utah teenager turns herself in following a fatal hit-and-run. A Phoenix woman is arrested in the hit-and-run death of a cyclist. More on the Oregon bike commuter study, which shows cycling is good for you except when you crash, while a local paper offers a highly skewed perspective on the same study. At least L.A. cyclists don’t have to deal with moose on the bike paths. My hometown passes a ballot measure to create and implement a citywide Bicycle Safety Education Plan. The Eagle County, CO District Attorney who declined to file felony hit-and-run charges against a wealthy fund manager hasn’t filed charges in the other hit-and-run that occurred the same day, either; thanks to Cyclelicious for the link. An Ohio cyclist is killed in what locals call a hit-skip collision, making it sound so much more fun than a mere hit-and-run. Yet another cyclist is killed in the most dangerous state for bicycling, the 9th Tampa-area rider to die in the last four months.

Nova Scotia considers the metric equivalent of a three-foot passing law. A street racing Brit driver who killed a cyclist at 80 mph six years ago asks for his license back. The Guardian asks what you would do if you saw a bike being stolen. The great Aussie helmet debate goes on, as an ER doctor says research shows the effectiveness of that country’s mandatory helmet law. A New Zealand driver is reportedly traumatized after crossing onto the wrong side of the road to hit three cyclists head-on; on the other hand, two of the riders she hit are dead, which just seems a little worse to me. In a separate Kiwi collision, a cyclist questions if she’ll ever ride again after seeing her riding partner killed. Also in New Zealand, a driver runs a cyclist off the road, then stops to lecture him before driving off. Biking the Hajj from Capetown to Mecca. An American expat buys a bike in Beijing. UCI announces an amateur world championship tour for next year.

Finally, a successful Hollywood director strips away the trappings of his success to live the change he advocates, and chooses to ride his bike virtually everywhere. With a helmet, the article notes.

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