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.
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.
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.
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.
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.