Archive for January 19, 2011

Breaking news: Eight year old OC third grader killed riding his bike to school

News broke within the last half hour that an eight-year old was killed riding his bike to school today.

According to the Orange County Register, Andrew Brumback, a 3rd grader at Sequoia Elementary School in Westminster, was riding with his sister when he was struck by an SUV driven by Anita Cherry of Westminster. The collision occurred at the intersection of Choctaw Drive and Iroquois Road at about 8 am today; he was pronounced dead at Huntington Beach Medical Center.

Unfortunately, there’s not enough information to speculate on how this collision may have occurred. However, the paper notes that the driver stayed at the scene and did not appear to be under the influence.

This is the fourth SoCal biking death this year, and the second in just two days.

My heart and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. Thanks to Lois for the heads up.

Update: The Register has updated their story with additional information, including photo that can’t help but break your heart. Westminster police Cpl. Van Woodson was quoted as saying the driver was inconsolable, and that the accident is”too sad for words.”

I couldn’t agree more.

80-year old Garden Grove cyclist killed; third SoCal bike death in three weeks

An 80-year old Garden Grove man died yesterday after being hit by a car while riding on the sidewalk.

According to KCBS Channel 2, the man was hit when a Ford F-250 pickup made a right turn from a the driveway of a business near the intersection of Brookhurst Street near Jennrich Avenue in Garden Grove. The victim’s name has been withheld pending notification of next-of-kin; my condolences to his family and loved ones.

The Orange County Register reports that the 36-year old driver remained at the scene, telling police that he looked for traffic before pulling out of the parking lot, but didn’t see the cyclist; no arrest has been made, and alcohol or drugs is not believed to have been a factor.

This tragedy is a reminder that, contrary to common perceptions, it’s actually a lot more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk than in the street.

Drivers exiting driveways and parking lots are focused on traffic as they try to enter the street, and may not see anyone approaching on the sidewalk — even though they should. And visibility for drivers is greatly reduced, as nearby buildings can hide riders from view until the last second.

In fact, one prominent study found a nearly 25% greater risk factor for cyclists riding on the sidewalk as opposed to riding a typical street. In other words, while you might be frightened by those cars buzzing by, you’re a lot safer in the street where drivers can see you then relying on the false security of the sidewalk.

And just how sad is it that in this age of rampant hit-and-run, it’s necessary for a reporter to mention that the driver didn’t run away?

This marks the third biking fatality in Southern California in less than three weeks, following the deaths of Joseph Powers and Kevin Unck less than 10 days into the new year.

Be careful out there.

For crying out loud, just stop at the damn stop sign already

If someone else has the right-of-way, just do what the damn sign says.

Enough already.

Over the weekend, I saw two cyclists run stop signs directly in front of oncoming traffic, forcing drivers to jam on their brakes in order to avoid hitting them.

And one of those drivers was me.

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s true, I stop for stop signs, whether I’m driving or riding my bike. I’ve made a point of doing it on my bike ever since I blew through a stop just as a young boy pointed at me and told his dad he wanted to be just like me. And I realized that I’d just taught a little kid to run stop signs.

It’s not like I’m a fanatic about it. I come to a near stop, without putting my foot down, then go as soon as I think it’s safe and I have the right-of-way.

Sort of like pretty much every driver in Los Angeles does, to a greater or lesser degree.

But what I never, ever do is go through any intersection when someone else has the right-of-way. Even if they wave me through themselves, I’m reluctant to take advantage of it if I think there’s any possible risk of a misunderstanding.

Frankly, my life is worth a hell of a lot more than any need to get through the intersection first. Let alone do it without stopping.

Let’s take the first case.

I don’t drive often anymore. In fact, I put less than 800 miles on my car last year. But I had an errand to run that just wasn’t practical to do on foot or two wheels.

So I found myself at a four way stop in Westwood, waiting for the cross traffic to go by. Just as I pulled out into the middle of the intersection, though, a cyclist snaked by the car waiting on the cross street and blew out in front me of without stopping — forcing me to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting him.

Not that he cared. Or even seemed to notice.

Then I watched it happen again with a different rider a few blocks later. Except this guy blew through a stop sign just as the car to his left was making a right turn — one the driver had actually signaled for, so unlike most L.A. drivers, there should have been no question of his intentions.

Fortunately, the driver saw the cyclist blowing by on his right, and made a panic stop just inches from the idiot on the bike.

And had he hit him, I would have been the first in line to testify on the driver’s behalf.

Why they did it, I have no idea. Maybe they were no different than the impatient drivers who aren’t willing to invest an extra two seconds to pass a bike safely — or in this case, stop long enough to protect their own lives. Or  maybe they just don’t think the law, or common sense, applies to them.

So let’s get everyone on the same page.

If you’re the only one at the intersection, I couldn’t care less if you run the stop sign. Seriously, be my guest. Worst that happens is you might be a bad role model. Or get a ticket if there’s a cop nearby.

If there are other people at the intersection, I don’t care if you come to a full stop as long as you observe the right-of-way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, pedestrian or another bike. It’s a simple rule — if they have the right-of-way, you don’t.

If you don’t understand what right-of-way is or who has it, it’s high time you learned. The rules are exactly the same for cyclists as they are for drivers.

And for anyone still unclear on the concept, pedestrians in the crosswalk always, always, always have the right-of-way. Capice?

So for crying out loud, stop already. At least long enough to let the other people and vehicles pass, then go when — and only when — it’s your turn.

There is absolutely nothing special about you or your bike that gives you the right to ignore traffic laws — especially not when it puts you or anyone else in jeopardy. Nothing.

If a cop sees you run a stop sign, you could — and probably should — get a ticket.

If you cause a collision by running a stop sign, you’re at fault. Period. Even if you weren’t directly involved. Which means that you could be held legally and financially responsible for any injuries or property damage resulting from a collision that you weren’t even in.

And if you get hit by a car after running a stop sign, you lose any liability protection you might otherwise enjoy — even if that wasn’t the primary cause of the collision. Which means that any medical care, lost wages or damage to your bike comes right out of your pocket.

Don’t like it? Tough shit.

The law doesn’t care why you blew the stop. Only that you did.

And you make it that much harder on those of us who do stop, because it only reinforces the attitude that none of us do. Which means that, fairly or not, cops and juries are likely to believe that any cyclist injured in a collision was most likely at fault — something I found out the hard way when I was hit while stopped at a stop sign.

The driver claimed I ran it and fell on my own while making a high speed turn. And the cop believed her, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Because, he said, “all you guys run stop signs.”

It’s also not just Los Angeles, or even California. Although it seems to be becoming more common here all the time.

Frankly, it’s just common sense. If someone else has the right-of-way, stop already.

Otherwise you may learn, like I did, that cars are bigger than we are. And they hurt.

And if you were one of the idiots morons jackasses jerks stop sign running riders I encountered over the weekend, we need to talk.

Seriously.

.………

Welcome Nathan Baird to the newly created position of LADOT Bike Program Coordinator. A new video looks at the LACBC’s City of Lights and the invisible cyclists. The Examined Spoke points out that Beverly Hills still has a bike registration law on the books, even if it’s not enforced anymore; then again, they also have a law on the books requiring cyclists to ride as close to the curb as possible, in violation of state law. The Kit Karzen Foundation kicks off their program to promote cycling for kids with ADHD with a celebration at Cynergy Cycles on Saturday. A lack of bikeways on the Gerald Desmond bridge could jeopardize Long Beach’s bike friendly image. The family of a cyclist allegedly killed in a drunken SF hit-and-run files suit. Santa Maria’s utilities director is injured in a collision with a semi-truck; notice how the story subtly places blame on the cyclist for colliding with the truck, even though the limited details suggest the truck pulled out in front of the oncoming bike.

A Yuma AZ cyclist wants to know why people there endanger every cyclist’s life by driving irresponsibly; a letter that could have been written by almost any cyclist anywhere. The best way to promote cycling could be to make it faster than driving. Despite claims to the contrary, New York cyclists get tickets after all. A new rear-view bike camera could record the last 10 seconds in the event of a collision. Virginia considers increasing the distance to pass bikes from 2 to 3 feet, and prohibit tailgating bikes. Sports Illustrated spells out the latest doping accusations against Lance Armstrong; is it just me, or is someone really out to get him?

British Big Brother host Davina McCall launches a new women-only charity ride. A rash of stolen manhole covers could lead to the death of cyclists in Oxfordshire. Aussie cyclist Amber Halliday is brought out of sedation after suffering “horrific” head injuries in a fall.

Finally, eight years in prison for a drunken ex-athlete who ran down a cyclist, then allegedly stepped on the victim’s face as he lay dying.

Hell does not have a hole deep enough.

Update: Santa Monica takes a big step forward in becoming truly bike friendly

Yesterday, I saw the blue screen of death.

No matter what I tried — and as an experienced Apple Computer user, I tried everything —I couldn’t revive my laptop. Then suddenly, on its own, it came back to life after being dead for over two hours.

I can only assume that my computer is now among the silicon undead. And that this is the beginning of the long-dreaded Mac zombie apocalypse, as hordes of hip, user-friendly computers will soon by crawling through the streets in search of brains.

Or maybe processors.

So while I spent my evening in the local Apple Store, where my Mac inexplicably got a clean bill of health, other cyclists were storming Santa Monica City Hall to protest a bike licensing law that had been used more as a punishment for cyclists than as a means of recovering lost or stolen bikes. And with a penalty that far exceeded the $10 maximum allowed by state law.

By all accounts, they were remarkably successful.

According to LACBC-associate Santa Monica Spoke, the council voted to continue the current bike licensing program on a free, voluntary basis — which means no one, resident or not, will get a ticket for not having a license.

And that, as Gary points out, neither he nor anyone else will be a criminal any more.

The city will also work with cyclists to establish an alternative registration program that is more focused on actually recovering bikes — and preventing theft to begin with. Ideally, they would work with the LAPD and City of Los Angeles, as well as the county and other cities in the area to come up with a regional solution, since bike thieves seldom confine themselves to a single jurisdiction.

Spoke and UCLA Bicycle Academy member Dr. Michael Cahn offered a detailed report on last night’s meeting.

Tonight the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to discontinue the Bicycle License Ordinance, to allow free registration for an interim period until staff develops an alternative plan (based on collaboration with SMPD and Bicycle Community) on how to do the right thing: to facilitate return of lost bikes and reduce theft. YEAH!

Great outcome, much shaking of hands and expressions of good intentions. Speakers tonight were Richard McKinnon, Michael Brodski, Gary Kavanagh, “Per Se,” and myself. Councilor Kevin McKeown reported on his romantic childhood attachment to bicycle licenses, and it transpired during the meeting that evidently for some years in the past he must have been one of the very few owners of a valid license. Mayor Bloom told the story how he bought a bike at a police auction for 2 dollars when he was so small that the auctioneer could not see his raised hand, being just a little boy.

Thanks everybody for making this possible! A great foundation for our future work as SPOKE. Thanks to everybody, bloggers, speakers, email writers, well wishers, and meeting room searchers ! The city council has heard us and extended us a hand. Now we need to grasp this hand and move along. Calmly and determined.

Watch it tomorrow by clicking here, (select agenda item 7B).

Well done Santa Monica Spoke, well done everybody!

Let me add my own thanks to everyone involved in getting this law changed, including the Spoke’s Cynthia Rose and Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu, both of whom are rapidly climbing the list of the area’s leading bike activists.

And thanks the officials in Santa Monica, who came to the meeting with an open mind and clearly listened to the concerns of cyclists.

And that, in my book, is the single most important feature of any bike-friendly city.

.………

Another day, another front in the battle to make the coastal area friendlier to bike riders and other humans, as LADOT and the LACBC make the case for a road diet to transform Venice’s Main Street in a more Complete Street that will benefit everyone, as opposed to just cut-through drivers. Both groups will present to the Venice Neighborhood Council tonight in an effort to get everyone onboard and avoid the silly and unnecessary controversy that followed the Valley’s Wilbur Ave road diet. Cyclists are urged to attend to show your support; the meeting begins at 7 pm in the auditorium of the Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice.

.………

Lance Armstrong remains confident and defiant despite a grand jury investigation into allegations of doping on his semi-federally funded U.S. Postal Team; on the other hand, it’s hard to make the argument that he defrauded the government when it spent $32 million in sponsorship but received over $100 million in value? A UCI committee member calls for a 2-year ban for TdF champ Alberto Contador. And Floyd “I was lying then but I’m telling the truth now, really” Landis calls it a day.

.………

LADOT’s Bike Program launches Twitter and Facebook accounts. A 70-year old cyclist was seriously injured when he was hit by a car in Arcadia. Last week, someone wrote me looking for a bike to rent; next time, I might have a better suggestion. Hearings for the South Bay Bike Plan continue this week, including tonight in Hermosa Beach. Cyclists argue for Class 1 bike paths on the rebuilt Gerald Desmond bridge. The Claremont Cyclist notes the 40th anniversary of the death of Ireland’s first great international cycling champ. Where else can you bike and ride the rails to the slopes? Sonoma confronts the classic battle of bike lanes verses parking. A Martinez CA judge denies a defense request to exclude vital evidence against a driver charged with the hit-and-run homicide of a local cyclist. Response to the Levi’s GranFondo was so great, it crashed the servers on the first day of registration. Ross del Duca — author of one of California’s best bike blogs — adds his own thoughts on bike licensing.

Elly Blue asks what it means to ride responsibly. You may be insured on your bike after all. The makers of a new brake pad promise an end to endos. Lane markings can warn cyclists while also welcoming us to the road. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spent her last night before the shooting on her bike. An Oregon state legislator survives the slings and arrows of bike activists after calling for a ban on carrying children in, on or around a bike. Washington continues to move forward with Vulnerable User and Complete Streets laws. Virginia’s proposed reckless cycling law could be ripe for abuse. An NYC councilman says cyclists brought his licensing proposal on themselves, while the anti-bike debate goes on. One of the astronauts scheduled for next month’s space shuttle flight is injured in a bike accident. Why you should be proud to ride like a girl.

An Ottawa cyclist says if bike lanes ghettoize cyclists, then by all means, ghettoize her. A 67-year old Gloucestershire cyclist is killed when she’s hit by a van & trailer while on a club ride. Aussie cyclist Amber Halliday is critically injured after crashing in a Down Under tour women’s crit.

Finally, at least one car manufacturer gets it, as Kia says why own the road when you can share it?

An open letter to the Santa Monica City Council on bike licensing

Santa Monica has made great strides recently in its effort to become one of Southern California’s leading bike-friendly cities. Something that has been recognized by a bronze level award from the League of American Bicyclists.

But for every step you take forward, your city seems to take an equal step back.

While the city experiments with sharrows, it continues to list Lincoln Blvd as a Class III bike route, enticing cyclists to ride a dangerous street far beyond the ability of most riders. And one that even most skilled riders usually prefer to avoid.

Santa Monica offers one of the nation’s most popular bike paths along the beach, yet fails to provide adequate signage or enforce restrictions on bike-only sections, rendering it virtually unridable much of the year.

You ban riding on sidewalks, going so far as to ticket school students who choose the sidewalk over cycling on busy streets they — and their parents — consider too dangerous to ride. Yet you fail to adequately inform cyclists of that ban in most parts of the city, turning much of Santa Monica into the cycling equivalent of a speed trap as less-informed cyclists and out-of-town visitors are subject to a law they don’t even know exists.

Yes, ignorance of the law is no excuse. But there also needs to be an adequate effort to inform the public so it’s possible to obey the law.

That also applies to bike licensing.

As you have recently become aware, Santa Monica has long violated state law by imposing a penalty for failure to license that goes far beyond the maximum $10 fine allowed by law.

While the expressed purpose of bike registration is to create a database to facilitate the identification and return of stolen bikes, it has more often been used as a bludgeon to penalize cyclists when police are unable to find other violations — just as it has been in Long Beach and Los Angeles, until L.A. wisely repealed its licensing requirement.

It is also ineffective, in part because the law is difficult to enforce and many, if not most, cyclists are unaware of its existence. In addition, an isolated, citywide registration is meaningless in today’s modern age, when thieves can sell bikes online or simply cross city limits to a different jurisdiction where the Santa Monica licensing law does not apply.

If the program is effective, the SMPD should be able to provide detailed statistics on the number of lost and stolen bikes recovered through the city’s registration database. If they can’t, it should be considered prima facie evidence of its ineffectiveness.

There are also better and more effective alternatives. Both Bike Revolution and the National Bike Registry offer cyclists the ability to register their bikes for free, while offering non-removable registration tags at an affordable price. They also offer the advantage of a database that goes far beyond city limits to identify a stolen bike anywhere it might be found or sold.

I’m sure either would be more than happy to work with your city to establish a more effective, voluntary registration program at little or no cost to the city — and could even bring money into the city coffers through the sale of registration stickers. Or better yet, you could work with the City and County of Los Angeles and other cities within the area to establish a regional program that would protect any bike stolen within the greater L.A. metro area.

Finally, the existing licensing requirement gives cyclists a reason to avoid your city, as many riders are familiar with anecdotal reports of cyclists simply passing through being ticketed for failure to license their bikes in Santa Monica, even though state law expressly prohibits ticketing cyclists from other jurisdictions. More than a few cyclists have been known to carry a copy of the state law with them when they ride through the city in case they get stopped by a police officer for whatever reason.

I therefore urge you to immediately repeal the unfair and ineffective bike licensing program, and demonstrate that you are serious about reaching the next level of bike-friendliness.

Or simply being deserving of the one you already have.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
BikingInLA.com

The licensing requirement is schedule to be discussed at today’s Santa Monica City Council meeting at Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main Street. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm, item 7B on the agenda. Learn more at Gary Rides Bikes, Bikeside LA, Santa Monica Spoke and the Scandal in Santa Monica Facebook page.

Driver: “I didn’t hit him, I just brushed him a little;” Mark your calendar for my first group bike ride Feb 5

Scroll down for news of the first ever BikingInLA/LACBC group ride on Sunday, Feb 6

Strange how life works out sometime.

I was riding around the Marina on my way to Ballona Creek when I spotted a rider down on the side of the road. Next thing I knew, the other rider with him was chasing after a beat-up pickup that had just pulled out of the lot behind them.

Fortunately, the driver stopped to argue with the other rider, which gave me time to call 911. The driver insisted he didn’t hit anyone, while the rider, a man named Craig, I later found out, demanded he pull over right away.

Meanwhile, I was on the phone with the 911 operator, who completely understood when I interrupted as she answered, asking her to write down the license number before the driver could get away. So she listened patiently while I carefully read the plate digit by digit, then repeated it back to me before asking where I was or what happened.

I don’t know who she was. But I do know that if I ever need help, I hope she’s the one who answers the call.

She passed me on to the sheriff’s department, who passed me onto the highway patrol; for some reason, they investigate traffic collisions in the area, even though the Marina sheriff’s station was just two blocks away.

Meanwhile, the driver finally pulled back around and parked his truck. As he walked past, he looked at me, still on the phone with the CHP dispatcher, and said “I didn’t hit him! I only brushed him a little bit.”

To which I responded. “Brushing him is hitting him.” And then into the phone, I asked “You heard that, right?”

As we waited for the highway patrol to arrive, I pulled out my first aid kit and did my best to patch up the first rider, named Jeffery, who fortunately only seemed to have cuts and scrapes. I did my best to talk him into letting the paramedics come take a look; my experience is that once the adrenalin and other stress hormones wear off, it often uncovers more serious injuries.

Which is why I always recommend getting medical care after a collision. Because chances are, you’re hurt worse than you think. You just don’t know it yet.

He declined, though. So once I got off the phone, they explained what had happened.

They were chatting in the parking lot of the shipbuilder after both had visited there. The truck driver had come up behind them, and demanded that they get out of his way — while talking on his cell phone, of course.

Not an unreasonable request under the circumstances. But the driver didn’t wait for them to get out of his way; instead he stepped on the gas as soon as he thought he had an opening.

He didn’t.

His truck ran over the rear wheel of Jeffrey’s bike while he was still straddling it. The bike went down, and so did Jeffrey. All because an impatient driver wasn’t willing to wait the extra second or two that it would have taken a couple of men to get out of his way.

After a lot of discussion, the driver seemed to take responsibility for his actions, exchanging insurance information and offering to pay for the bike. Although he continued to look at the damage to the bike, such as a shredded rear tire, and insist that he couldn’t have done that.

As if any cyclist would have been able to ride anywhere with the sidewall of his tire ripped out on both sides.

The interesting thing, though, for me at least, came as we continued to wait for the CHP to arrive — which never happened while we were there, despite waiting nearly an hour after the 911 call.

As we talked, I mentioned that I was with the L.A. County Bike Coalition. The injured rider, Jeffrey, said he’d just gotten an email from the LACBC about an upcoming ride. Something about a 30 mile ride through the Westside set to begin at the Santa Monica Pier on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Yeah, I know,” I said. “I’m leading it.”

In fact, that’s why I’d been there to help, because I was checking out the route I’d planned.

One more thing, though, before I change subjects. There were two cyclists about 20 yards ahead of me when all his happened, who should have been in perfect position to see the collision. So if you happened so see a truck hit a cyclist in front of one of the shipbuilders on Fiji Way Friday afternoon, let me know.

.………

Now then, about that ride.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, February 6th, when I’ll host my first ever group ride as part of the LACBC’s new Sunday Funday Rides.

Since it will be in February, and just a week before Valentines Day, we’ll be riding in search of the beauty and romance West L.A. and its surrounding cities with a ride themed “I ♥ the Westside.”

We’ll meet at the Santa Monica Pier at 9:30 am, and start rolling at 10. The ride will take in Main Street and the sharrows on Abbott Kinney before working our way up to Culver City and Beverly Hills, then down through Brentwood and Santa Monica, before heading back along the coast to the pier.

At least that’s plan; construction on the Ballona Creek bike path already threatens to throw a monkey wrench in that segment, so some flexibility may be in order.

While I’m still working out the exact route, we should be looking at a total distance of around 30 to 35 miles from start to finish. The course will be mostly flat, with a moderate pace, and best suited for intermediate riders or above. It should last about three hours, allowing for stops along the way — which should have you home well before kickoff of the Super Bowl.

It gets cold at the beach on February mornings, so dress warmly — preferably in layers you can remove as we move inland and the day warms.

And yes, despite what my wife might tell you, I do have enough sense to come in out of the rain. So in the event of bad weather, we’ll postpone or cancel.

The ride is free to LACBC members, and you’re allowed to bring one guest. If you’re not a member and want to ride along, we’ll sign you up on the spot at a reduced rate.

So if you’ve ever want to ride with me, this is your chance.

.………

This week’s upcoming events —

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

Bike Talk is also holding their first-ever benefit event on Saturday, January 15th from 7:30pm-midnite at Vlad the Retailer, 4314 Melrose Ave., at the intersection of Heliotrope & Melrose. Admission is just $10, with food, music, door prizes and Fat Tire Ale on tap.

Bikerowave is offering a free bike-fitting workshop at 6 pm Saturday, January 15th at 12255 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles CA; RSVP to info@bikerowave.org.

Streetsblog joins with KPCCAmerican Institute of Architects, Pasadena and Foothill Chapter, and Pasadena Magazine to discuss Planning the Future of Our Streets from 7 to 9 pm on Tuesday, January 18th at the Crawford Family Forum at 474 South Raymond Street in Pasadena.

Also on the 18th, the LACBC is calling on cyclists to support the proposed Main Street road diet at the board meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council, from 7 – 10 pm, at 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice.

Click on the Events page for more upcoming bike events.

.………

The city is offering a $50,000 reward in the murder of 14-year old Taburi Watson, who was shot while riding his bike just before New Years. Anyone with information is urged to call 77th Division Criminal Gang/Homicide Detectives at 213/485-1383. Thanks to George Wolfberg for the tip.

.………

Streetsblog looks at LADOT’s bike applications in Metro’s Call for Projects. Usually bike-friendly Councilmember Bill Rosendahl acts as a committee of one to cut the heart out of the Wilshire BRT, the proposed bus (and bike) only lane. To the surprise of no one, Manuel Gallegos, the cyclist who recorded apparently violent police action at the May Critical Mass, filed suit against the city. A look at the January Downtown Art Walk, and an exhausted pedi-cab driving Josef Bray-Ali. An update on last week’s meeting of the UCLA Bicycle Academy. Matthew Ruscigno reminisces about the 2010 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, and says the date of this years competition is still up in the air. The revitalization of the L.A. River could be derailed by the Union Pacific Rail Yards. The Claremont Cyclist diagnoses a few cases of Auto-Dependency Syndrome. Friends react to the death of Kevin Unck, the champion masters cyclist killed when he lost control of his bike and slid in front of an oncoming SUV last Sunday.

A driver is expected to get a slap on the wrist for killing a cyclist, despite driving with a known history of seizures.  A violent alleged shoplifter leads SF police on a wild bike pursuit. A Sacramento cyclist is killed in yet another hit-and-run, while San Luis Obispo rider died five days after getting hit by a truck.

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood meets with cyclists, and voices his support for cycling; you wouldn’t see that under a Palin administration. Arizona considers an Idaho Stop bill, allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields. Tucson Velo looks at winter riding in my hometown. Hoboken says the speed limit may be 25 mph, but 20 is plenty. A NJ legislator withdraws her bill to put license plates on bikes, while New York’s most biased bike-hating major daily cheers a proposal to stick ID tags on bikes. A truck driver is convicted of entering the country illegally, but walks on killing a cyclist; is it just me, or is that horribly backwards?

How to ride offroad more responsibly. A fear of London traffic appears to be behind the lower than expected use of the city’s new bike share program. A photographic view of cycling in Oxford; definitely worth checking out. A Parliament member from Cambridge breaks his arm while riding Down Under. The 2011 Vuelta will ride through the beautiful — and sometimes restive — Basque country. A look at the Tour de France back when men were men and rode their bikes that way.

Finally, the reader who wrote in last month asking for help finding a 64-65 cm lugged steel frame emailed today to report that he’d found — and won — exactly what he was looking for.

Ride it in health. And keep the rubber side down.

Two weeks into the new year, two cycling deaths

Evidently, Kevin Unck wasn’t the first cyclist killed in Southern California this year after all.

On January 4th, I’d linked to a story about a Ventura cyclist who was injured after losing control of his bike while rounding a curve at 30 mph — oddly similar to what happened with the popular masters racer Unck, who lost control after hitting a patch of gravel and mud, and slid into the path of an oncoming car.

In this case, though, there wasn’t another vehicle involved. Forty-eight year old Joseph Powers was riding on Highway 150 on the morning of January 3rd, when he lost control near the intersection with Gobernador Canyon Road in the Carpenteria Valley and was airlifted to the hospital.

After that, there was no follow-up story in the news, which wasn’t really surprising. There was no indication that Powers injuries were life threatening, and today’s modern emergency care can quickly stabilize most accident victims. And most news outlets don’t usually run stories on people who survive their injuries.

Powers wasn’t so lucky.

Word broke today that he was pronounced dead on January 6th at the Ventura County Medical Center. According to the Ventura County Star, he died of blunt force chest injuries, his death was ruled an accident.

According to an obituary in the Star, Powers, a native of Ventura County, was an employee of the Ventura Unified School District, and was passionate about his friends, cycling, baking and his dogs. Messages left online suggest he was well liked; services will be held tomorrow at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

My condolences to his family and loved ones.

We may never know what caused an experienced cyclist like Powers to lose control. However, it may very well have been something similar to the bad road conditions that took Unck’s life; the heavy rains over the holidays could have easily left mud and debris on the roadway.

Let their deaths be a reminder that while the bright California sunshine following a storm can call us out onto the roads, it’s best to assume that bad weather will leave behind bad road conditions.

And ride accordingly.

********

There will be a memorial ride for Kevin Unck on Saturday, January 22nd; check back with the Cycling Connection IE for more information.

L.A. cyclists busted in BUI, anti-bike backlash spreads

Everyone knows it’s against the law to drink and drive.

Well, you do, right?

But here in California, it’s also illegal to bike under the influence.

A group of cyclists in Baldwin Hills learned that the hard way last night, when CHP officers were called to the scene after one struck the center divider while riding the wrong way on La Cienega Blvd. According to the Times, five of the fifteen riders were arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

While the Times suggests that riders are subject to the same 0.08 BAC that drivers are, no specific alcohol level is included in the statute, so riders could conceivably be charged at an even lower level than drivers. And while the fine is a relatively affordable $250, a conviction could affect your drivers license even though you weren’t operating a motor vehicle at the time.

Although personally, if someone is going to be on the road after imbibing, I’d much rather see ‘em on a bike than behind the wheel.

And as an aside to the Times, may I politely enquire what the hell helmet use has to do with a) riding while drunk, or b) whether the riders were able to be seen after dark?

Riding sans skid lid may or may not reflect bad judgment, depending on your perspective.

But it has absolutely nothing to do with this story.

.………

Having evidently solved all the illegal and dangerous behavior by motorists, who have far more potential to kill or injure others, police in Australia and New York City have turned their attention to scofflaw cyclists.

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t have any problem with ticketing cyclists who break the law, any more than I do anyone else on the streets. My problem comes when cyclists are singled out for enforcement, rather than enforcing the law equally against all illegal behavior.

And if there is going to be any bias in enforcement, shouldn’t it be directed at the operators of the vehicles responsible for over 30,000 deaths each year?

Scofflaw cyclists may annoy the hell out of other people. And they may give the cycling community a black eye, and encourage the anti-bike backlash the flares up with frequent regularity throughout the country.

But to the best of my knowledge, even the worst cyclists still pose a greater risk to themselves than to anyone else.

That doesn’t stop the anti-bike comments online or in the media, though. Not to mention the ill advised knee-jerk reaction to register and license bikes, or a bill that would prohibit reckless cycling in Virginia — a law that just begs for abuse as it leaves it up to individual officers, who are often ill-informed as to bike law, rights and safety, to determine just what is reckless.

Like riding in the traffic lane, maybe.

Then there’s the attempt by an Oregon legislator to ban carrying a child on a bike or in a bike trailer — this even though 630 people were killed in the entire U.S. while riding bikes in 2009, compared to over 10 times as many motor vehicle passengers.

Maybe it would make more sense to ban carrying a child in a car or SUV.

.………

The LACBC’s new Bike Wrangler program will collect and recondition unwanted bikes, which will be distributed in low-income, high-obesity areas; Good examines the Bike Coalition’s efforts to reach out to the city’s invisible cyclists. The new L.A. River Bike Path extension is nice, but it could use a little direction; Lisa Newton points out that the historic De Anza Trail runs along its path. LADOT unveils some interesting ideas in their Call for Projects application. Todd Munson relates the ugly side of sharing the road, as well as the good. Gary gets harassed by an armored car driver and does something about it. Jessica Alba takes her daughter bike shopping in Santa Monica; it’s hard to read, but that looks like that could be a Helen’s tag. A court date is scheduled for the deaf hit-and-run driver accused of killing cyclist Patrick Szymanski in La Quinta last month.

An apparently highly-flawed study suggests that cell phone users may actually be safer drivers; problem is, it focused on a time when most people aren’t driving. A Coronado bike thief gets a well-deserved year in jail. The mayor of Del Mar calls on drivers and cyclists to sharrow the road during a bridge retrofit. A San Louis Obispo cyclist is in critical condition after inexplicably turning in front of a big rig truck. San Fran times stop lights to keep cyclists moving. A San Francisco Chronicle writer revisits his old paper route on video. Santa Cruz rejects a second claim for injuries at a single intersection, with a third cyclist’s claim waiting in the wings. A lifelong bike commuter tells her story.

While we’ve finally got more typical L.A winter weather, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters still struggling to ride in the south and east. Evidently, among the other promises Obama has kept are the ones he made about bike and pedestrian projects. The next long distance cycling route will aim to recreate the original Route 66; link courtesy of Lloyd Lemons. EcoCycle provides underground bike parking. The solution to placing bike paths in high-water areas could be floating bikeways. Bike-friendly Boulder CO gets a B-Cycle bike share program. A proposed bill would ban bike bans in Colorado cities. Bike lawyer Steve Magas reports on three upcoming criminal trials for drivers charged with killing cyclists. New York’s uber-popular Magnolia Bakery turns a bike lane into a parking lot; thanks to @BicycleFixation for the link.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s through biking ability. Strategies to avoid a bike infrastructure backlash. Don’t fight a losing battle for bike safety, sell it in terms of protecting children. London’s new bike superhighways result in a 70% increase in bike traffic. Irish courts award £10,000 to a child frightened when a bike fell in front of her in a Dublin toyshop. Lance leads the effort to fight back against Aussie flooding. Separated bikeways and handicap bike parking in Shanghai. A new bike share program kicks off in Haikou.

Finally, a cyclist survives an attack by unleashed killer dachsunds. And no matter how hardcore you think you are, you’re not a real cyclist until you pedal yourself to the hospital to give birth.

Now that takes balls. Or not.

Open letter to Metro and LA County DPW — making the Marvin Braude Bikeway a transportation corridor

Pedestrians often block cyclists on the bike path, despite numerous bike-only signs

If you’ve ever tried to ride the beachfront bike path through Santa Monica and Venice, chances are, you know what the problem is.

Despite countless bike-only signs along most of its length, the path is plagued by the seemingly inevitable conflicts between cyclists, skaters, joggers and pedestrians, as we all fight for a few feet of space on what should be the crown jewel of SoCal cycling.

The problem stems from a traditional lack of enforcement, which has caused countless residents and tourists to believe the path is open to everyone. Not mention location, since the bike path is situated directly on the sand, while pedestrian walkways, where they exist, are often well away from where most people want walk.

Now the County Department of Public Works is preparing a proposal that might solve that problem for a relatively lengthy section of the bikeway.

The County is submitting an application in Metro’s Call for Projects for a pedestrian walkway that would parallel the bike path from Ocean Front Walk north to Will Rogers State Beach. Something that would provide other users a space of their own directly on the sand, while freeing room for bikes on a path that was built for our use — but which many riders avoid because it’s often too crowded to ride.

Problem is, they’ve made a similar request before. And were turned down because the project was seen as benefitting recreational riders, rather than commuters.

This, despite the fact that simple observation indicates that at least some commuter cyclists already use the bike path as an alternative to PCH and crowded Santa Monica streets. And more commuters would use it if there weren’t so many non-cyclists clogging their way.

As a result, I’ve written the following letter in support of the project.

I urge you to write a letter of your own asking Metro to fund the pedestrian walkway, and send it to L.A. County Bikeway Coordinator Abu Yusuf, who has agreed to forward our letters to the right people and include them in the application.

Since Metro’s focus is on transportation, rather than recreation, your letter should stress how a pedestrian walkway would make it easier for you to commute to work, class or other situations, and make you more likely to use your own bike as opposed to other methods of transportation; feel free to use my letter as a guide.

.………

January 11, 2011

Gail Farber
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works
900 South Fremont Ave
Alhambra, CA 91803-1331

Dear Ms. Farber,

It has come to my attention that the Department of Public Works for the County of Los Angeles will be submitting an application for funding for the Marvin Braude Pedestrian Walkway Gap Closure Project in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2011 Call for Projects.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the Marvin Braude Bike Trail is one of Southern California’s most popular bikeways, drawing a very high volume of bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters and other users. While there are nearby walkways along other sections of the bike path, there is no pedestrian walkway along the section between Ocean Front Walk in Santa Monica and Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades.

As a result, bike riders and pedestrians are forced to compete for a limited amount of space, creating inevitable conflicts between various users, as well as congestion that greatly reduces the path’s utility for transportation riders and dramatically increases the risk of serious injuries.

Closing the proposed gap closure between the existing walkways would allow both bicyclists and pedestrians to travel this section of the Marvin Braude bikeway with greater safety. It would also provide access to local transit hubs, as well as the Exposition Light Rail Transit line that is currently in the beginning stages of being extended to Santa Monica.

In addition, moving pedestrians onto a separate pathway would increase the viability of the bikeway as a transportation corridor for bicyclists by providing safer access for riders commuting to the many activity, shopping and employment centers in the Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu areas. It would also encourage people who do not currently use their bikes for transportation to consider it as an alternative to driving or other methods of transit.

I myself have often considered using my bike for transportation to work or meetings in the area, but have usually rejected it at least in part due to the congestion and safety hazards caused by pedestrians and other non-bike users on the bike path.

I strongly urge the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to move this vital project forward by approving funding for the Marvin Braude Pedestrian Walkway Gap Closure Project in the 2011 Call for Projects.

Sincerely,

Ted A. Rogers
BikingInLA.com

.………

UCLA will host a day-long Complete Streets workshop Downtown on Friday, February 25th; participation is open to registered attendees; thanks to @Maddz4planning and @kneel28 for the heads-up. Bikerowave is offering a free bike-fitting workshop at 6 pm Saturday, January 15th; few things will improve your performance and enjoyment more than a bike that fits right. CicLAvia ventures into L.A. cycling’s undiscovered country, scouting streets for a possible South L.A. route. Bikeside encourages cyclists to walk precincts for the newly beardless Stephen Box. LADOT Bike Blog introduces LADOT’s Assistant Coordinators. Flying Pigeon looks at the January Spoke(n) Art Ride; the next one takes place on Feb. 12. Gary writes about the lessons learned from Long Beach’s bike planning. One of L.A.’s best wrenches, who I never seem to get over to see even though he works just down the road, offers some breathtaking views of the city from a recent off-road ride.

A Huntington Beach cyclist sues the city after falling while crossing railroad tracks. San Clemente requests funding for a possible bicycle freeway. Would new bike racks encourage more San Diego cycling? Santa Cruz officials consider moving the 1800-mile Pacific Coast Bike Route off a busy main road and onto a quieter, more picturesque street. Even famed bike builder Gary Fisher is a victim of bike theft.

Streetsblog says we’re all pulling for AZ Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; a vigil will be held for her and the other shooting victims on Tuesday evening. Commuting to work could save your life. Bike Portland’s Jonathon Maus says it’s time to tone down the rhetoric on our streets, as well as our political discourse; I couldn’t agree more. People riding bikes aren’t jerks, they’re just like you. Does the Mary Poppins effect keep cyclists in regular clothing safer? New Belgium’s Tour de Fat raises over $300,000 for bike non-profits, including C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC.  Ohio bike lawyer Steve Magas — one of the out-of-area lawyers you’ll find over there on the right — looks at the official stats for cyclists killed in that state in 2010, and lowers the count by two. Make phone calls directly from your bike with this awkward, butt-ugly innovative helmet with built-in phone; thanks to Just Another Cyclist for the link. Tips to quiet your ride. Fears of unbridled gentrification rise as streetcars return to Lego City; yes, it’s written with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

I confess, there were times I felt like a cowboy riding around the Mountain West, but turn my bike into a horsie? No. Just no. A top British barrister says the courts have to do more to protect cyclists. A Spanish mountain biker charged with doping offenses has committed suicide. The London Olympic Velodrome could be the world’s fastest track. British Olympian James Cracknell says he’s lucky to be alive after getting hit by a gas tanker near Winslow AZ last July; I think everyone who’s followed the story would agree. A Surrey cyclist raises over £90,000 for charity by riding 100,000 miles. Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde remains banned. A German biker didn’t think cycling through Siberia would be so darn cold.

Finally, the solution to dooring could be as simple as stop riding your damn bike on the street, according to antidooring.org, which also notes that every car on the road can replace up to six bicycles; I sincerely hope this is tongue-in-cheek. An Ohio used car dealer is willing to give joggers and cyclists a 15% discount if you just promise to stay the hell out of his way. Maybe it would help if we all took this pledge.

And RIP to Peter Yates, director of Breaking Away, the movie that got me on a bike three decade ago. Arrivederci, papa.

Bicycle Pit Stop at UCLA today from 10 – 2

I’m working on my next post, but I didn’t want you to miss out on this.

Westside and Bruin riders may want to stop by the UCLA campus, as the UCLA Bike Coalition is hosting a bike pit stop from 10 am to 2 pm today to help get you back on your bike.

And be sure to stop back later for big news on the Marvin Braude bike path.

%d bloggers like this: