Archive for December 30, 2010

A call for tougher hit-and-run laws; cycling legend Gino Bartali hid family from Nazis during WWII

Tuesday night, yet another person was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver — this time, a pedestrian in Playa del Rey.

Just the latest in a long, long list of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as others, killed by cowards who lack the basic human decency to stop and render aid as required by law.

Let alone just see if their victim is still alive.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado law actually makes it wiser for drivers who’ve been drinking to flee the scene, rather than risk a higher penalty for drunk driving; chances are, they’ll sober up before the police ever track them down.

I’ve long argued exactly the same point holds true right here in the late great formerly Golden State.

That’s because California’s stiff penalties for drunk driving far outweigh the relatively light penalties for hit-and-run. Many drivers don’t even lose their license after leaving an injured motorist, pedestrian or cyclist lying in their wake; something Bikeside has tried to address with their Life Before License campaign.

Personally, I think LB4L is a good start.

I just don’t think it goes far enough.

What we need is law that makes license revocation an administrative process, rather than judicial, so that hit-and-run drivers will lose their licenses regardless of whether or not they’re convicted. And make it automatic, so that the license is permanently revoked — not suspended — as soon as it’s shown that a driver has the scene of a collision. By leaving the scene, their actions have already proven they’re unfit to be behind the wheel.

Then make them go before a judge for permission to apply for a provisional license — and only after any sentence has been served.

But as we’ve seen, the lack of a license isn’t always enough to stop some people from getting behind the wheel.

As a result, any car used in a hit-and-run should be impounded as soon as an arrest is made. Then if the driver is convicted, the car should be seized by the state and sold, with the proceeds used to compensate the victim.

After all, it’s been used to in the actual commission of a crime.

Robbers and murderers aren’t allowed to keep their guns after they’re convicted; a car used in a hit-and-run shouldn’t be treated any differently. And California law already permits the seizure of any vehicles used for drug crimes or to solicit prostitution.

Isn’t leaving someone dead or bleeding on the side of the road just a little more serious than offering money for a blow job?

Maybe when drivers face the prospect of making payments for the next several years to pay off a car they no longer own, they might think twice about hitting the gas instead of the brakes.

And maybe then, finally, they’ll actually stick around after a collision.


On a related subject, NY Streetsblog responds to outraged NIMBY’s complaining about dangerous bike lanes by showing where the real danger comes from, with a devastating list of cyclists and pedestrians killed on the city’s streets in 2010.

Meanwhile, Treehugger asks why not aim for zero deaths?

My thoughts exactly. Our only goal should be to make sure the last cyclist or pedestrian killed on our streets really is the last one.


More evidence that Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia and two-time winner of the Tour de France, was a genuine hero of the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Bartali used his bike to smuggle documents on behalf of Italian Jews during the Nazi occupation. Now comes word that he also hid a family of Jews in his cellar for nearly two years, saving their lives at the risk of his own.

These days, when the internet and sports section seems to bring more bad bike news with every passing day, it’s nice to be reminded what a real cycling hero is.


Join the LACBC for the first monthly Sunday Funday Ride with the Valley Pride Ride at noon this Sunday starting at Los Encinos State Park, led by board member Heidi Zeller; the ride is free for members and a guest.

Speaking of which, I’ll be hosting the next one with a four-city, 35 +/- mile tour of the Westside on Super Bowl Sunday.

And L.A. Critical Mass rolls on New Years Eve, just in time to confront the many, many drunks on the road.


I got an email earlier today from someone looking for a 64-65 cm lugged steel bike frame, or possibly a full bike; he says an ’80s era Trek 720 frame would be ideal, but he’s open to anything that meets those specs. If you have one you’re willing to part with, or know where he can find one, let me know and I’ll forward the information.


More on the teenage cyclist shot to death in South L.A. last night. Damien Newton names the Livable Streets People of the Year, as well as the year’s many low lights. The city may — or may not — be liable for injuries or damage caused by potholes; Council President Eric Garcetti directs you to the right form to file your claim. Bike lanes may come to Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills next year; thanks should go to Better Bike Beverly Hills. Stanley Goldich forwards a spectacular photo of the recent storm damage. Bob Mionske points out you could be arrested if you’re stopped by a cop for a traffic violation and can’t produce ID. Cyclelicious lists the top 10 bike stories of 2010.

A comprehensive list of Twitter bike hashtags for cities around the world from my new friends at Bike Commute News. The tax benefits of riding to work. Motorists may be facing a crisis of confidence as the former(?) alpha dogs of transportation. An interview with leading bike advocate Elly Blue on women, cycling and why Portland still has a way to go. Even Seattle cyclists have to deal with snow this year. Just one of 16 bike/ped bridges in the Twin Cities. Michigan adopts a Complete Streets policy. A 17-year old Ohio man is under arrest, suspected of intentionally stalking and killing a cyclist. Mapping crash data to build awareness of bike danger areas.

Now you can have a Porsche of your very own, without sacrificing cycling. looks back on the highs and lows of the 2010 racing season, while VeloNews offers a complete calendar of 2011 racing events. Turns out that Aussie study that showed the country’s mandatory helmet law did not reduce head injuries contained “serious arithmetic and data plotting errors.” A bad knee will keep Lance out of a Kiwi triathlon, but he still plans to race with his RadioShack team in the Tour Down Under. An Israeli cyclist is sentenced to three months in jail for allegedly organizing a 2008 Critical Mass ride; thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.

Finally, more on the Dutch cyclist disqualified from the 2012 Paralympics after miraculously regaining use of her legs — remarkably, after being hit by another cyclist on a training ride.

14-year old cyclist shot and killed in South L.A.

In yet another heartbreaking case of apparent gang violence, a 14-year old kid is murdered while riding his bike in South L.A.

According to the LAPD, he was riding around the intersection of St. Andrews Place and 87th Street around 7:25 pm last night when a gunman shot him from behind. And as usual, it’s the details that are most saddening, as the police note he dropped his bike and attempted to run before collapsing about a block away.

14-Year-Old Boy Shot While Riding His Bicycle

A 14-year-old Black male, has been shot to death while riding his bicycle.

On Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at about 7:25 p.m., the teenage victim was riding his bicycle around Saint Andrews Place and 87th Street. An unknown suspect(s) approached the victim from behind and started shooting at him. The victim was hit by the gunfire, then dropped his bicycle on the street and started to run. He collapsed around the 1800 block of 87th Street.

The suspect(s) ran in an unknown direction. Detectives believe the motive for this crime is gang related, however, there is no suspect description at this time.

Los Angeles City Fire Department personnel responded to the location and transported the victim to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD 77th Street Area Criminal Gang and Homicide Division Detectives Eric Crosson or Samuel Arnold at (213) 485-1383. After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “CRIMES” with a cell phone or log on to and click on Web Tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.” All calls and contacts are anonymous.

Another life wasted. Another young man who will never grow up.

Another future wiped out and another family destroyed in a single moment of insanity.

Thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up.

Don’t miss today’s intersection of bikes and beer at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica

Don't forget Tuesday's all-day LACBC fundraiser and party at the Library Alehouse — I'll be stopping by this afternoon and again tonight, so look for me there.

Police kill armed Watts cyclist, LBPD cracks down once again, DMV says accidents aren’t

Don't forget Tuesday's all-day LACBC fundraiser and party at the Library Alehouse.

Catching up from a long and fattening weekend:

In a bizarre case, police shot and killed an armed man riding a bike near the Jordan Downs Housing Project in Watts on Christmas morning.

According to the L.A. Times, LAPD officers responded to a report of an assault by someone armed with a rifle around 4 am. While they were talking with the occupants of an SUV, a man holding an assault rifle rode his bike towards the officers. They shot him when he refused their commands to drop the gun; the rider, described only as a man in his 20s, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

As others note, there seems to be more to the story than what has been reported. Why the man would ride towards the police or refuse to drop the weapon have not been explained.

And oddly, none of the news reports indicate whether the rider was wearing a helmet.


Once again, a heavy-handed police crackdown as the Long Beach police go out of their way to undo the city’s reputation for being bike friendly. Bicycle Fixation’s Rick Risemberg — not exactly a hotheaded radical — calls it goonsquad tactics.

Maybe the next L.A. Critical Mass should hop the Blue Line for a quick trip south.


I’ve long argued that there’s no such thing as a vehicular accident, since collisions invariably involve one or more people breaking the law or operating their vehicles in an unsafe manner; turns out, the DMV agrees.

And on the subject of breaking traffic laws, Will Campbell says the way some cyclists run red lights is a sign of pathological tendencies. Unfortunately, I can’t disagree; red light running has gotten completely out of hand lately. It seems like most riders I see riding in the bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd go through the lights — even when it means riding through traffic on cross streets.

So for anyone unclear on the concept, bikes are legally required to stop at all red lights, just like cars are. And yes, you can — and probably should — get a ticket for it.


Damien Newton unveils the first of this year’s Streetsie Awards and gives you a chance to vote on your own choices; you’ll find my name there among some very good company, for which I am both honored and humbled.


Celebrate New Years Eve eve with the intersection of bikes and poetry on the final Spokes and Words ride of the year. Richard Risemberg confronts a reincarnating pothole. The OC Bike Coalition points out the kind of road work fencing that should never be used. A San Diego cyclist is injured after hitting road debris. A Santa Rosa pro takes a life-changing trip to Africa to ride with Team Rwanda.

The 1,000 mile Remember the Removal bike tour follows the route of the infamous Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee Nation was forcibly and shamefully removed from their traditional lands. TreeHugger calls for bike-only boulevards. The best and worst of American bike racing in 2010. Lance’s Team RadioShack just got a lot faster. GOP strategist and George W. Bush buddy Karl Rove writes about the Ride 2 Recovery program for wounded vets; Hell has officially frozen over when I find myself agreeing with him on just about anything. EcoVelo reminisces on a lifelong love affair with bikes. Tacoma WA tells motorists to drive nice. Proof that bikes and cars can co-exist — a bike-based headlight service in the Motor City. New York doctors ask for improvements in bike infrastructure, which could do a lot more to prevent injuries than putting a helmet on every head.

Just four months after saving the life of a motorist, an artist is paralyzed after getting hit by a truck riding at the same spot. Are 29 inch wheels the future of mountain biking? Four years for a UK driver who killed a cyclist while stoned. A road rage driver has a three-year ban on driving overturned because his assault on a cyclist occurred after he left his vehicle; yeah, that’s exactly the kind of person we want on the road. Note to the Daily Mail — since when did a Segway become a bike? A medal-wining Dutch Paralympian faces disqualification from the 2012 games as she unexpectedly regains use of her legs.

Finally, the UK’s Guardian says you’re a sissy if you don’t ride in the snow like those darn Danes, or give blood for that matter. Clearly, there are people in this country who couldn’t agree more. About the snow, anyway.

Although the other one is a good life-saving habit to develop, as well. I stopped counting after donating somewhere north of six gallons.

Watch out for drivers today, because they probably won’t be watching for you

Let’s be careful out there.

The closer we get to the holidays, the more drivers are focused on finding that elusive parking space and their frenzied search for those last minute gifts. And many may have started their Christmas drinking long before they’d consider tippling any other time of the year, and may be in no condition to drive — yet think they can do it anyway.

And the last thing most drivers are likely to be looking for on the road is a bike. Let alone anyone on one.

We’ve already had one rider killed in Orange County this week, and word came of another bad bike wreck at 7th and Spring in Downtown L.A. on Thursday.

And that’s two too many in just the last two days.

So if you’re riding today or over the weekend, use extra caution. Especially Christmas Eve, as people make their way home after imbibing in a little too much holiday cheer at lunch or office parties.

No, you shouldn’t have to assume responsibility for others on the road; and yes, it’s their obligation to operate their vehicles safely and soberly.

But this time of year, a lot of them don’t. And won’t.

And drives like that usually aren’t the ones who end up paying the price for their mistakes.

So ride defensively. Assume you’re invisible, and that everyone you encounter on the road is driving distracted. Or worse.

And light yourself up like a Christmas tree on your way home tonight.

And not just in honor of the holiday.


Opponents to NYC’s Prospect Park West break out the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer argument, claiming they just can’t understand those darn statistics. And Traffic meister Tom Vanderbilt joins in the debate as well, pointing out that a study of 24 California cities showed that the cities with higher bike usage also had a better safety rate — and not just for bikes.


Looks like Glendale’s Safe & Healthy Streets program has had a successful year, too. Playing Santa by bike in the South Bay. A cyclist is rescued after she was swept into flood waters in Palm Springs. The DMV points out that a helmet is required for all riders of motorized bikes; I had no idea. Look out for cars parked in bike lanes, which, despite all logic, remains legal in California unless banned by local ordinance.

Bikes are becoming so fashionable, one day, they may even be used for transportation. A typographic look at the anatomy of a bicycle. A Harford cyclist is threatened with bike confiscation after parking it in front of the hotel where he’s attending a conference. Fayetteville NC’s Bicycle Man fixes up and gives away 1,100 bikes to children in poor communities; yes, 1,100 bikes from a single, huge-hearted man.

Unbelievably, a Brit driver who ran down and killed a cyclist participating in a time trial walks, subject only to a one-year driving ban, community service and £110 in court costs; evidently, a cyclist’s life is cheap in Great Britain these days. Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin try to make sense of the UK’s blustery bike program days. The many joys of winter cycling. Dutch in Dublin looks at biking Irish fashion stylist Aisling Farinella. Pro cyclist Robbie McEwen is credited with saving his fellow yacht passengers from carbon monoxide poisoning. An 18-year old Aussie cyclist receives a five month driving ban for drunk driving.

Finally, Velonews looks at the good doctor, a very forgiving lawyer and whether Vail is responsible for their jerk of a DA.


My best wishes to you and yours for a very safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas!


Breaking News: Cyclist killed Wednesday evening in Huntington Beach

An Orange County cyclist was killed in Huntington Beach last night as a result of a hit-and-run.

According to the Orange County Register, 69-year old Jurgen Ankenbrand was hit by two separate vehicles at the intersection of Brookhurst Street and Villa Pacific Drive at about 5:35 Wednesday evening. The first occurred when he was turning from Villa Pacific onto Brookhurst and was struck by a dark colored Toyota 4-Runner on his right as it made a left turn onto northbound Brookhurst.

That knocked Ankenbrand onto the southbound side of Brookhurst, where he was struck and killed by a white Honda Odyssey. He was pronounced dead at the scene; by my count, the 16th cycling death in Southern California since August.

The driver of the 4-Runner fled the scene; the driver in the Odyssey remained.

Reading between the lines, there appear to be three likely explanations for how this collision may have happened.

The driver of the 4-Runner may have been either signaling for a right turn or angling over as if he was turning right, causing Ankenbrand to pass on his left when the driver changed his mind and made a sudden left turn without checking his mirror or looking to his left.

The 4-Runner could have been stopped, either in the lane or at the curb, and Ankenbrand may have been attempting to go around it when the driver suddenly pulled forward to make a left.

I’ve seen both happen enough times that neither would come as a surprise.

The third possibility is that Ankenbrand was making a left onto Brookhurst when the driver of the 4-Runner came up from behind and made his left without noticing that the cyclist was already in position ahead of him. This wreck occurred about the same time as the severe thunderstorms rolled through Orange County, so the driver’s vision may have been impaired by the weather conditions.

We may never know, since the driver ran away, rather than obey the law and face the consequences of his actions. And he — or she — could now face a felony hit-and-run charge, when he may or may not have been at fault in the collision.

Witnesses are urges to contact the Huntington Beach police at 714-536-5666.

Thanks to Allan Alessio for the tip.

In this season of miracles, a former pro and his son could use one of their own

Maybe you remember a couple months back, when racing legend Andy Hampsten came to town.

While the official reason for his visit may have been to promote the new Campagnolo Revolution 11 at the Agoura Hills Bicycle Johns, there was another reason for his visit.

A more important reason.

He was here to support former 7-11 teammate and ’84 Olympic bronze medalist Roy Knickman. Or more precisely, Roy’s 14-year old son Andreas.

It was something I’d mentioned in passing, a ride that was scheduled to take place the following day to benefit Andreas in his two-year fight against a rare form of bone cancer. Sponsored by Newberry Park resident and fellow firefighter Mike Nosco, the ride attracted cyclists from around the world, and raised over $30,000 to help defray Andreas’ medical costs. And Nosco hopes to raise thousands more through an online auction on his website.

We should all have friends like that.

The Thousand Oaks Acorn has a moving story about Andreas and his family, as well as Nosco’s extraordinary efforts to help. It’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to read, if only for a reminder of what really matters in this season of frenzied shopping and overindulgence.

And that there’s always something we can do to help. And always those who need it.

Even if it’s just offering a silent prayer.

Thanks to DC for the heads-up. If you want to wish Andreas and his family well, visit their site and sign the guestbook, or make a donation here.


In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, the family of a Los Altos Hills cyclist killed in a collision with a truck — whose driver had two previous fatal collisions — files a wrongful death suit against the driver and his employer; thanks to Al Williams for the link.

And the drunk hit-and-run driver who killed Angel’s pitcher Nick Adenhart, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson gets a well-deserved 51 years to life in prison. Now if we could just see a sentence like that for killing people who aren’t famous.


The New York Times offers a surprisingly rational debate on the Great Bike Lane Controversy with views from five separate writers; thanks to Stanley Goldich and George Wolfberg for the heads-up:


Debi Mazar helps give away 90 bicycles in South L.A.; now that’s my kind of actress. The City of Los Angeles introduces a new smartphone app to help drivers find open parking spaces; needless to say, it didn’t take long for cyclists to point out the obvious dangers of distracted driving. LACBC doesn’t always make a lot of noise, but they’ve accomplished a lot this year. Just Another Cyclist says Santa would be better off riding a bike; wait, you mean he doesn’t? Cyclelicious celebrates the diversity of the cycling community. Registration is now open for the L’Etape du California, your chance to ride the 7th stage of the Amgen Tour of California from Claremont to Mt. Baldy. Biking from San Francisco to Orange County to support music programs for children with autism.

A semi cute video promoting helmet use. Bicycling editor at large Bill Strickland says it all started when he bought a bike. Advice on locking your bike; key point being do it every time. A Denver cyclist uses his Garmin to prove the driver who hit him was lying; too bad that wouldn’t work with the schmuck who claimed new car smell sleep apnea made him flee the scene after running down a cyclist — and worse, he claims to be one of us. My hometown prepares to host the Echelon Gran Fondo and calls it the biggest bike event in Colorado in 2011; somehow, I think the new Quiznos Pro Challenge will be just a tad more important. A look at helmet use in Michigan doesn’t show much difference in collision outcomes. How is it that Pittsburgh gets a bike center designed by Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Hank Koning before Santa Monica does? link courtesy of George Wolfberg. Grist talks with NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the woman L.A. cyclists lust after (bureaucratically speaking). A Philadelphia cyclist wishes he’d just get a ticket, because cyclists will never obey the law until the police enforce it; I hate to say it, but he’s got a point. An odd quirk in Pennsylvania law prevents bike lanes outside major cities.

Camouflage — good for bunnies, not so good for road markers. More good advice on riding in ice and snow, some of which works for rain, as well. A parade of Santas on Boris Bikes. These days, it seems like everyone is riding a bike — yes, even Him. A secret UK Santa drops off bikes for children every Christmas. Tour Italy on traffic-free roads and catch the finale of the Giro. Default Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro, who claimed the title when Floyd Landis was disqualified, makes his debut on the soccer pitch. An Aussie state safety committee considers proposals to keep riders safer, including advanced green lights for bikes and airbags on the front of cars — even if the reporter a clearly biased. Lotto pro Matt Lloyd left to ride his bike to the bank in his native Australia, and woke up in the back of an ambulance, with no evidence of a collision and no idea how he got there.

Finally, it has nothing to do with bikes — just the future of our country, as the Sierra Club is urging the Senate to revise their rules to put the interests of Americans ahead of corporations.

And mark your calendar for the LACBC’s 2nd Annual  Mid-Winter Merriment at the Library Alehouse next Wednesday, December 28th.

I’ll see you there.

A NorCal cyclist dies, and CHP blames the victim

Unbelievably — or all too believably — the CHP has concluded that the death of a Los Altos Hills cyclist last month was her own fault.

This despite the fact that the driver of the truck that killed her has been involved in two previous fatal collisions. And officially exonerated in all three.

Maybe he’s just unlucky.

Or maybe those he shares the road with are.

According to the official version, the driver, Gabriel Manzur Vera, was travelling in the right lane and signaling his move into a right turn lane when Lauren Ward attempted to pass on her bike to his left. The report says Ward attempted to make an unsafe turn — where she was turning or why is unexplained — and fell to her right, where she was run over by Vera’s massive 26-wheel truck.

The report does note the lack of witnesses, as well as the possibility that there may or may not have been another vehicle involved in some unexplained way.

In other words, they really have no idea what the hell happened. But the CHP is still jumping through hoops to blame the victim, rather than a driver whose record would suggest that he’s either one of the unluckiest truckers on the road, or doesn’t belong on it.

To be fair, it is possible that the official report could be correct.

Ward may have swerved to avoid a pothole or glass, and lost control of her bike. She may have been buzzed by a passing car and fallen as a result.

But just as likely is the possibility that the actions of a careless, inattentive or overly aggressive driver caused her death in some way. Maybe he bumped her as he swung to the left to make his turn, or came close enough that she made a panic turn in an attempt to avoid him.

Maybe she wasn’t even passing the truck. It’s entirely possible that the driver was upset at being stuck behind a bike and made an unsafe move to pass her on the right, possibly bumping her with his mirror as he went by.

We’ll probably never know.

What we do know is that the CHP has already demonstrated a clear bias against cyclists, concluding that cyclists are at fault in 60% of all bike-involved collisions — despite numerous studies from other areas showing just the opposite. Or are California cyclists just that much more dangerous than riders in the rest of the world?

As Bob Mionske notes, police bias against cyclists is not unusual — whether out of animosity, a lack of understanding how bicycles operate in collisions or just poor training.

But as this case clearly illustrates, if you’re involved in a collision on a state highway, chances are, the investigating officers are likely to conclude that you’re at fault.

And cyclists will never be safe on California roads until that changes.


Yesterday I heard from an attorney who’s representing a cyclist injured when she ran into sand on the Marvin Braude bike path in Venice in October 2009. He’s looking for anyone who might have suffered a similar accident and filed a claim as a result. If that happened to you or someone you know, email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com and I’ll forward it to him.


Bob Mionske digs into his archives to examine the question of whether cyclists can ride in a crosswalk; California’s state legislature recently tried to clarify that matter, only to create more conflict due to poor wording.

The law now says cyclists are allowed to ride “along” any crosswalk — but does that mean we can ride on it or next to it? After all, when you walk along a path you’re walking on it, but when you walk along a river, you don’t walk in it.

Last I heard, the LAPD was looking for clarification from the Attorney General’s office before deciding how to enforce the law.


Writing for Grist, Elly Blue jumps into the great helmet debate, concluding that the argument over whether or not to wear a helmet is the wrong question. Meanwhile, Traffic’s Tom Vanderbilt provides a forum for Dr. Ian Walker — famed for a study showing motorists drive closer to riders wearing helmets — who says:

This leads me straight onto the big issue: I do not know whether or not bicycle helmets save lives. And, critically, nor does anybody else.

Interestingly, Walker concludes exactly as Blue does, that the emphasis should be on making our streets safer, rather than insisting on body armor for riders. And Bicycling’s Fit Chick relates a story of her husband’s injury to argue why you should wear a helmet all the time.

The funny thing with helmets is, you don’t need one until the one time you do. Personally, I always wear a helmet for the same reason I always carry a patch kit in addition to a spare tube; chances are I’ll never need it, but I’d rather have one than wish afterwards that I did.


Bike Revolution works with Kryptonite to bring their free international bike registration program to the U.S.; I’ll put my Pulse ID tags (note — the registration is free, the tags aren’t) on as soon as I figure out where I packed them.


Ten reasons to attend the LACBC fundraiser at the Library Alehouse on Tuesday, the 28th. Flying Pigeon explains how to track stand. Hats off to the Burbank city employees who donated their time to help repair bikes to give to needy families. A private bike rental company asks for free space on the Hermosa Beach pier, after gaining a similar concession from Manhattan Beach. Rain cuts the turnout at last weekend’s Hunger Ride in Orange County to benefit the Second Harvest canned food drive; there’s still time to make a donation to a very worthy cause. Speaking of worthy causes, friends are attempting to raise $10,000 to pay an air ambulance flight to take a critically injured cyclist back home to Denver; you can donate here.

Send an e-carol and Schwinn will donate bikes and helmets to children across the U.S. In case you missed it before, Bicycling has a great story about a 501 pound man who saved his own life by taking up the bike — even if it did require a custom-made bike to support his weight. Urban cycling needs to attract more women and people of color in order to grow. Tour de Fat raised over $3.3 million for non-profit organizations. Portland holds a vigil for a cyclist killed by a drunk driver last Wednesday. A key Portland bridge is closing for two years, so the state DOT makes special accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists. A biking flautist names her new band Bike Lane. In an incredibly biased story, the New York Post blames 2-wheel heels for a 16% increase in vehicle/bike collisions; yeah, it couldn’t possible have to do with more cyclists on the streets or drivers unwilling or unable to share the road with them.

A look at pro cycling’s all-time ugliest jerseys; trust me, I’ve seen worse. Two-thirds of all UK bike thefts occur at home. A left cross (our right) collision from a rider’s perspective. It looks like Britain’s acclaimed Bikeability bike safety training program may survive, despite budget cutbacks. After a cyclist hits the side of a red-light running car, the road raging driver and his passengers attack the rider, as well as a bus carrying a witness. A former Argentine national champion takes his own life following a kidnapping. Good advice on how to ride in winter weather; a lot of these tips will work on L.A.’s soggy streets.

Finally, after a friend of her sons was killed as they were riding together, a mother urges motorists to drive safely.

Congratulations to recent guest writer Zeke and his wife for their 28th anniversary.

The problems with Griffith Park from a cyclist’s perspective — and how to fix them

One of the big problems cyclists — as well as other L.A. residents and visitors — face around here is that the things that should be our greatest assets are often virtually unusable due to a lack of planning and/or maintenance.

From a pedestrian-choked beachfront bike path to a proposed bike boulevard rutted with potholes and misplaced bike routes that thrust unknowing riders onto streets most cyclists choose to ignore, too many areas in this city fall far short of what they could be. And should be. Yet in most cases, it would only take a little effort and minimal investment to correct the problems.

Today, Patrick Pascal, cyclist, Downtown professional and fellow founding member of the League of Bicycling Voters LA — and yes, the LBVLA is still alive and preparing to play a role in next year’s council elections — joins Ross, Zeke, Damien and Eric in stepping into my shoes for a day with a guest post on riding in Griffith Park, and how it can be improved to benefit everyone.


Griffith Park from a Cyclist’s Perspective

Griffith Park, despite increasing urban encroachment, remains a remarkable oasis of tranquility within central Los Angeles.  To preserve the already low level of park space within the City, citizens must be vigilant in protecting existing places like Griffith Park.  Minor improvements and changes to Park policies and infrastructure can both ensure and increase this tranquility for many more years.

Like many aspects of Los Angeles’ management, Griffith Park demonstrates a disconnect between purpose and policy.  Most can generally agree that the purpose of the Park is to provide a welcoming and bucolic setting where Angelinos can safely enjoy a variety of physical, recreational and social activities.  Below, specific policies that are contrary to the purpose of the park which demonstrate this disconnect between purpose and policy are identified along with potential remedies.

Is it a Park or a Thoroughfare?

Park roads should only be used by and designed to accommodate Park patrons.  Speed limits are presently so high that they encourage commuters to bypass the (5) Freeway during traffic periods, which undermines the safety, atmosphere and the infrastructure of the Park.  The speed limit inside Griffith Park should be at a speed that considers the many (non-auto) recreational users who are present.  A strictly-enforced limit of 20 miles/hour would keep nearly all Park attractions within 5 minutes of an entry point, while making the Park safer, quieter, less-crowded and cleaner.  There is simply no park-centric reason for a higher speed limit.

Park Access by Bicycle

By encouraging patrons to come by bicycle, Griffith Park could accommodate more visitors with a lower impact.   An entire family should be able to safely ride their bicycles to Griffith Park from most parts of the city, however, at present, it isn’t even safe from adjoining Los Feliz or Atwater.  A family should be able to safely use the Griffith Park Blvd Bike Lane to reach the Park and a family should be able to safely use the Los Angeles River Bike Path to reach the Park, but neither of these routes safely accesses the Park.  They both again demonstrate the basically deficient policies that do not consider actual purpose—the paths themselves don’t really go anywhere.

Take the Griffith Park Blvd Bike Lane.  After coming north from Sunset Blvd for over two miles (don’t get me started on the condition of the roadbed), the bike lane abruptly ends just 50 yards short of Los Feliz Blvd.  Putting a bike lane where there is a need and plenty of room is appreciated, but easy.  Abandoning a rider, just when a lane is most needed, gives the rider little opportunity to react and adapt before the busy intersection.  The bike Lane should be merged into the middle traffic lane to cross Los Feliz Blvd and on to the northern terminus of Griffith Park Blvd.

Right-of-way link between Griffith Park Blvd & Park

At the end of Griffith Park Blvd. the roadbed of the original street (which once continued under what is now the (5) Freeway) remains, extending to Griffith Park Drive within the Park (see above).  This abandoned right-of-way has been used by pedestrians and bicycles for decades.  It would take little effort to install a safe, sanctioned access way for these few yards.  Making these two minor improvements would, for the first time, link the core of Los Angeles with a safe bike route all the way to its most important park.

Recently the city dedicated the southern portion of the Los Angeles River Bike Path which will now make it easier for bicyclists from southern Atwater, Highland Park and beyond to come to Griffith Park.  Many other residents along the path can easily avail themselves to this option to reach the Park.  Remarkably, despite passing within 50 yards from the Park for about four miles, not one of the four possible entry points can be considered reliably safe.  From north to south the following conditions face riders:

  • Riverside Drive at the north terminus of Bike Path.  From the end of the River Bike Path to the bike lane within the Park the distance is less than 75 yards.  However this ride entails a left turn across a shoulder-less, 4-lane, high-speed roadway and across busy on and off-ramps to the 134 Freeway, two stop signs and another left turn at a busy intersection—all within 75 yards.  This entrance is particularly unsafe during traffic hours.

    Riverside Drive meets the Park (LA River Bike Path terminates in the distance near power pylon)

  • Zoo Drive. This is probably this safest route on which to enter the park.  A few signs and markings could make it the preferred entry for safety minded bicyclists.  The entry/exit gate is narrow, with a small sign so riders must pay close attention.  Zoo Drive has single, wide lanes with ample room for both auto and bicycle traffic.  There are still two on-ramps for the (5) Freeway with which to contend, but they are not as busy as the others and cars tend to travel at lower speeds.  The bridge over the freeway may provide the biggest hill to climb of the whole ride.  If the DOT and Park Dept were more serious about safety, they would make this the preferred, designated and marked route between the park and the bike path.  It is not the most convenient entry point, but it is the best one for those considering safety alone.

    Looking east on Los Feliz Blvd from Park (LA River Bike Path 400 yards away)

  • Los Feliz Blvd. This is the most dangerous route between the Bike Path and the Park.  Both exits from the Path are hard upon either a freeway on or off-ramp.  My experience suggests that the closer a driver is to a freeway, the more (s)he drives as if already on the freeway and Los Feliz Blvd. is a good example of the behavior.  After negotiating across those ramps, each side of the road has two more ramps which propel traffic onto busy Los Feliz blvd at a dangerous speed.  Los Feliz Blvd itself is another shoulder-less road with six lanes of speeding cars that do not afford safe bicycling.
  • Lastly, is the bicycle/pedestrian bridge, over the (5) Freeway from the River Bike Path, and into the Park near the tennis courts and soccer field south of Los Feliz Blvd.  At the park side landing of the bridge walkers and pedestrians are met with 75 yards of a fenced off, dirt path before reaching any paving.  In the summer the path is dry and dusty, but in the winter it is often muddy and sometimes impassible.

Use of Existing Assets

Except in front of the Greek Theatre and around the Zoo, all roadways within Griffith Park are single lane.  However, the north-south route across the Park along the (5) Freeway from Los Feliz Blvd to the golf courses is comprised of a two-lane, one-way, northbound Crystal Springs Drive and a two-lane, one-way, southbound Griffith Park Drive.   The present configuration allots a total of 44’ of width for cars, and 18’ to be shared by walkers, runners, horses and bicyclists.  The purpose of Griffith Park is not to serve as an alternate route for harried commuters, but this two-lane, one-way design encourages commuters to speed through Griffith Park as an alternate to a busy freeway.

For the past year Crystal Springs Drive has been closed for major water-works and all traffic has been diverted onto just Griffith Park Drive which now handles all auto and bicycle traffic.  Despite this 50% reduction in automobile capacity and narrowing of bicycle lanes, traffic has not been heavy or slowed.  Before reopening Crystal Springs Drive to traffic configured as before, consider restoring it as a two-way, single-lane roadway without a bike lane; make the dirt trail along Crystal Springs Drive’s east side a “horses only” trail (no pedestrians) and; close Griffith Park Drive, north of Los Feliz Blvd, to automobiles altogether.  Split the newly-closed, segregated roadbed into dedicated bike, running and walking paths with benches, water and picnic amenities.  Only the entrance to the Tregnan Golf Academy would need anything but cosmetic alterations.  These small, inexpensive changes would greatly add to the easily accessible areas that can be used by recreational Park patrons and further reduce the city’s footprint in the Park.

Mt Hollywood Drive north of Observatory

Mt Hollywood Drive north of Observatory

For a number of years Mount Hollywood Drive, which runs from behind the Observatory (just north of the tunnel) over the top of Mount Hollywood and down into the San Fernando Valley, has been closed to cars.  It is one of the few hill-routes bicyclists can ride without concern for cars.  Recently, the condition of the roadbed has become a bigger concern than any auto traffic could pose.   Present conditions are such that patching and other cosmetics now could extend the useful life of the surface, but if this roadway continues to be neglected, it will soon be impassible and expensive to restore.  If the Park is here to provide a welcoming and bucolic setting where Angelinos can safely enjoy a variety of physical and recreational activities, it should be policy to invest the small sum needed to maintain this route.

The four broad improvements listed above could all be realized at very little cost and with great benefit to all Park users—not just cyclists.  They offer a low bar by which to judge the City’s commitment to providing constituent friendly amenities.  While many of these efforts may appear bicycle-centric, they will improve the quality and experience of the park for all users.  More patrons choosing bikes on which to visit the Park means more available parking, less traffic, less pollution, less noise, and a better utilized park for all.  They do not threaten non-bike-riding park users, instead, bicycle riders represent elemental and environmental changes that all users can enjoy and embrace.


A cyclist was rescued from the rain-swollen L.A. River after slipping off the bike path and falling into the water. Bicycle fixation interviews LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery about the planned 4th Street Bike Boulevard, among other issues. Hearings are coming up next month for the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan. Do your part to help stop bike thieves in Venice. The Valley News profiles Peter Zupan, the Lake Elsinore native killed while riding his bike to collect recyclables last September. Phil Wood, founder of Ten Speed Press died over the weekend; his first title was Anybody’s Bike Book, the bible for all home bike mechanics in the ‘70s and ‘80s — I still have my copy on my bookshelf.

As if ex-former Tour de France champ Floyd Landis didn’t have enough credibility problems, now comes word he wore a wire in a meeting with Michael Ball, owner of the Rock Racing pro team. The Lovely Bicycle looks at the safety frame, resulting in a truly lovely bike. Arizona’s great Tucson Velo website asks if our roads are really a matter of us vs. them. An 18-year old Hawaiian cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run, while riding at the head of a group of 35 riders. A masked man yells a racial slur at a Seattle-area cyclist before chasing down and punching him, while a cyclist gets egged in Denton, Texas (home to the world’s best nuevo polka band.) Sometimes riding is a melancholy experience, even if you don’t get egged or punched. Now this is more like it, as a driver gets 36 years for killing a cyclist; then again, he did use a gun instead of a car. The founder of Design Within Reach is recreating his life as the head of Public Bikes. How to encourage the great mass of potential cyclists.

After barely surviving a collision with a drunk driver, a recuperating cyclist faces discharge from the Navy. Motorists come to the rescue of a severely injured cyclist in Australia. Converting car parking to bike parking.

Finally, if bikes get their own lane, why not build one for everyone — except drivers.

LACBC Family Holiday ride, advice for wet weather, and don’t blame Vail for the idiots who work there

The LACBC is sponsoring its free 2nd Annual Family Holiday Bike Ride Sunday starting at 4 pm in the Larchmont Village area, including a possible visit from Santa Claus; word is the ride will go on rain (likely) or shine (not so much). And if you need gift ideas for the rider on your list, they have a few suggestions.

Courtesy of DC comes word that Team In Training is hosting a cycling training program geared towards a century ride next spring in Lake Tahoe, with a preview this Sunday at 3 pm in Newbury Park.


Speaking of rain, if you’re going to ride in this weather, remember that puddles can hide potholes, so slow down and try to go around them if possible. And drivers will have a harder time seeing you with fogged-up rain-streaked windshields, so look out for them — because chances are, they won’t be looking for you.


The Vail newspaper says the judge failed to judge in the case of a high-income driver who claimed he ran down a cyclist and fled the scene because he was overcome by the new car smell. Meanwhile, Vail takes the blame for it, even though the collision occurred in a nearby town and the DA who let him off the hook doesn’t even live there.


The Wall Street Journal has a detailed report about the money men behind America’s success in international cycling over the past few decades, who helped build what was arguably the best team in the history of pro cycling — and how their efforts ended in acrimony and scandal; link courtesy of George Wolfberg.


Final candidate list for the March City Council election — Stephen Box in, Glenn Bailey out. LACBC celebrates progress for a new bike-friendly Westwood development. A San Diego area theatre professor died of an apparent heart attack while riding his bike Saturday morning. Santa Rosa replaces traffic circles with stop signs on a planned bike boulevard, on the questionable theory that drivers will actually observe them. San Francisco cyclists and drivers both need an attitude change to usher in what should be a golden age of bicycling in the city. Cyclelicious shares his biking Christmas ornaments. A three-term member of the League of American Bicyclists’ Board of Directors resigns, saying LAB no longer serves the needs of its members. Maybe the solution to encouraging more urban bicyclists is building cycling superhighways. Riding a bike can unify your life. Taking a page from soccer, cyclists can now give drivers a yellow card. A Denver firm buys a membership in the city’s bike share program for all its employees. UK cab drivers say take the money budgeted for cycling and spend it on fixing potholes, instead. A cyclist is afraid to ride again after getting hit for the second time in two years. An Aussie rider says if you can’t sing while you cycle, you’re riding too fast. Singapore drivers complain that maintaining a 1.5 meter – approx. 5 feet passing distance would mean actually slowing down while passing; yeah, life is hell sometimes.

Finally, A Canadian journalist says complaints about cyclists stress the limits of sanity, while a Montreal writer tells a bike-hating sportscaster to stop picking on cyclists, you kook.

%d bloggers like this: