Archive for February 15, 2011

Post-Valentines lovers ride, triple teenage homicide in Rancho Cordova, Contador cleared for now

Click to enlarge

I’d planned to write about this yesterday before Streetsblog beat me to it (Darn you, Damien!).

But this still sounds like the perfect post Valentines ride. I’ll let Omari of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition take it from here:

Ok, so the week after Valentine’s day, this guy who’s a student at UCLA wants to ride his bike to drop his sweetheart off at the airport. He doesn’t wanna sit in 405 traffic, or take 3 trains and a shuttle to get there. Problem is, transportation planners, in all their wisdom didn’t foresee of anyone ever wanting to do that. As a result it’s kind of treacherous to ride a bike to LAX because the approaches are basically set up like freeways. Given that car-centricity, it’s no surprise that 85% of all ground trips to LAX are made by cars, with all the pollution and congestion that comes with that (and the majority of those trips are people getting dropped off and picked up, creating 4 trips total and 4 times the pollution)!

But what can be done? How can we help the lovebirds arrive safely at their destination without degrading the planet? The good news is, you can have fun and strength and safety in numbers with them on the Lovebirds to LAX Bike Party! So grab your bike on Sunday, February 20th and escort the happy couple on an EPIC ride from Helen’s Cycles in Westwood to LAX. Meeting at 11:30am, leaving at 12:30pm. Free bike safety checks will be provided beforehand. The trip will be about 10 miles one way, with an option to return on the Metro Rail Green/Blue lines. No cyclist will be left behind. We’ll stop at red lights and be courteous to others. This is a peaceful ride, channeling Ghandi and MLK: we’ll handle any obnoxious drivers with a smile and wave. Join us and be one of the few and the proud who can tell your friends (or wear a T-shirt that says), “I Rode My Bike to LAX!” We should have music, and signs saying “WHERE’S THE BIKE LANE?!” Tell a friend and spread the word that we’re partying against car-centricity… riding toward a future where, just as every street has a sidewalk, every street (including those to LAX) will have a bike lane.

Until then, safe travels!

He also wants some music on the ride, so he’s looking for bike-able speaks. Anyone have any suggestions or something he can borrow?

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Three Rancho Cordova teenagers were tragically killed in a drive-by shooting while riding their bikes on Monday; thanks to Allan Alessio for the heads-up. Oddly, the print version doesn’t mention the bike connection, while the video story leads off with it.

Of course, the real tragedy isn’t that it happened while they were riding their bikes; it’s that shootings like this occur  across the country virtually every day and no one really pays attention. Just like traffic deaths, over 30,000 Americans are killed with guns every year. And in typically American fashion, the solution employed by our leaders is to make guns more readily available, just as we deal with the endless plague of traffic fatalities by building more cars and increasing speed limits.

Our nation has fought two wars in the last 10 years because 3,000 were killed by terrorists, yet well over 200 times that many people were killed by guns and motor vehicles combined in that same time period.

When will we stop ignoring the elephant in the room and demand that it end now?

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In a surprising twist, defending TdF champ Alberto Contador is cleared of doping charges after the Spanish cycling federation reverses its earlier decision, concluding that it could not be proven that Contador deliberately took the clenbuterol that was found in his system. Needless to say, he’s very happy about it.

If that’s the new standard, they might as well throw out all drug testing, since proof of intent is difficult if not impossible to establish in most cases. Many other riders have been banned on far less evidence.

Maybe Floyd Landis should recant, move to Spain and file an appeal.

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Bicycling releases its annual list of America’s best bike cities; San Francisco checks in at number 6, while Long Beach is #23. No other California city made the list.

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The Daily News endorses bike activist Stephen Box over incumbent Tom LaBonge in CD4. The new Bike Plan Implementation Team is open to whoever shows up — which means you could be the one who guarantees the new bike plan will actually get built. Eleven years after being paralyzed in a motocross race, a recovering Jimmy Button prepares to bicycle 2,428 miles from San Diego to Daytona Beach to benefit Miles for Miracles. Bike sharing programs live and die according to the planning details. Flying Pigeon now carries Torker Cargo-T bikes. Mobile billboard operators try bikes to get around the recent ban. An OC woman is thankfully uninjured in a five-man bike jacking. Cyclelicious eavesdrops on CHP dispatches to uncover a possibly deliberate collision in the San Gabriel Valley. SF police blame cyclists for speeding even though they were travelling well below the speed limit; after all, it’s far easier to blame cyclists for riding too fast than ticket the drivers who throw open their doors or pull out in front of them. A Fresno hit-and-run turns out to be a cyclist who hit a parked car.

Register for an upcoming Webinar on the Safe Routes to School program on March 3rd. The term bike porn is taken to its literal and logical conclusion. Biking Bis offers a list of resources for special needs cyclists. Surprisingly enough, 60% of bike injury collisions occur at intersections, while two-thirds of fatalities occur on the open road — perhaps because of the difference in speed. An Oregon cyclist is killed after stopping in a traffic lane; despite his working red light, the driver claims it was a SMIDSY* — and yes, the report notes that the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. More biased reporting in New York’s endless Prospect Park West bike lane dispute; cooler heads say build more bike lanes, not less, while less cool heads prepare to sue. Cambridge MA doesn’t maintain bike facilities in the winter because no one rides, but maybe no one rides because they don’t maintain it. A Virginia cyclist wasn’t hit by that truck, just skimmed. Zeke rides up in the spring, and back down in the winter in the space of just 20 miles. A Georgia man blames the victim, posting a No Cyclists sign after a friend’s son plowed into five cyclists, killing one. The nation’s deadliest state in which to walk or bike lives up to its image, this time taking the life of the Dalai Lama’s nephew, who was walking to call attention to Tibet’s struggle for independence.

Copenhagenize casts a critical eye on the sect of Vehicular Cycling. After an Ontario rider is clipped by a car, the driver intentionally hits him at the next stop light and tells him to move over. A proposal for a 1 meter passing distance brings out the online road ragers. A step-by-step guide for beginning riders. London’s Telegraph offers a rave review of our humble beachfront bike path. Since 2006, more cars than bikes have crossed London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge at morning rush hour. Just three years after spending £800,000 pounds to install semi-segregated bike lanes, Brighton, England proposes spending £1.1 million to remove them. Everyone bikes in the Netherlands, in fact 55% of all bike trips are made by women; turns out it’s also faster. And it’s a myth that other country’s can’t replicate the Dutch success. A New Zealand driver gets 100 hours of community service and NZ$10,000 for each of the three cyclists she killed. Bike Radar busts common myths about tires.

Finally, a Seattle-area cyclist faces charges of malicious mischief after allegedly spitting on, and throwing his bike at, a car whose driver honked at him. And UK authorities show their compassion — or the lack thereof — by billing a cyclist who had the inexcusable rudeness to get hit by a car and survive.

But at least they waited until he woke up from his coma.

* Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You

San Diego cyclist killed by sleeping 77-year old street sweeper

Just a week after San Diego cyclist Ben Acree was killed in a highly questionable collision, another San Diego-area rider has been killed in truly horrifying incident.

The still unidentified 44-year old San Diego-area cyclist was riding in a marked bike lane on Genesee Ave near Clairemont Mesa Blvd Drive in the Clairemont neighborhood at about 5;20 pm on Friday. According to police reports, a 77-year old street sweeper operator fell asleep at the wheel, drifted into the bike lane and struck the bike from behind.

Clearly, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Not the least of which is why a 77-year old man was operating heavy equipment like that — in rush hour traffic, no less.

I don’t know if the driver will be held accountable.

But I’m pretty sure the person who put him there should be.

Update: The victim has been identified as Suntat Peverley of Mira Mesa, just north of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. My condolences to his family and loved ones.

And once again, the press feels a need to note that the victim in a bicycle collision was wearing a helmet, as if that means it wasn’t his fault he was killed. What part of he was run down by a street sweeper don’t they get? In a situation like that, a helmet isn’t going to make a bit of difference — and clearly, it didn’t.

Upcoming events — including two you’ll need to hurry for — and some hot weekend links

Welcome to an ever-growing list of upcoming events, and a lengthy reading list for the weekend. And yes, this will be on the test.

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

Unless you read this overnight, it may be too late to make the Tour de Palm Springs, offering five rides of varying lengths from 7 to 9:30 am.

If you hurry, you could still make Chinatown’s Firecracker Bike Ride with 20 and 30 mile routes starting at 9 am; registration starts at 7:30.

Attend a free bike mechanics workshop presented by Bici Digna on Saturday, February 12th at 1 pm at Corazon del Pueblo, 2003 1st Street in Boyle Heights.

Meet CD4 City Council candidate and leading bike advocate Stephen Box from 2 – 4 pm Sunday, February 13 at William Kestling’s Johnstone House at 3311 Lowry Road, Los Angeles.

Flying Pigeon and the Bike Oven host the free Spoke(n) Art Ride on the 2nd Saturday of every month; the next ride will take place on February 12th, starting 6:30 pm at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles invites you to explore the latest offerings from leading European manufacturers on February 17th, 2300 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica.

Celebrate the official opening of L.A.’s first official bike corral on Friday, February 18th in front of Café de Leche, 5000 York Blvd in Highland Park. LACBC, Flying Pigeon and C.I.C.L.E. will all lead a rides to the opening.

UCLA will host a free day-long Complete Streets workshop on Friday, February 25th; participation is open to registered attendees. The workshop will take place from 8:30 am to 7 pm at the Japanese American National Museum at 369 East 1st Street Downtown. Contact d.grantham@ucla.edu to register, or call 310/562-7356.

GOOD is hosting a fundraising party for CicLAvia from 2 to 7 pm on March 5th, at Atwater Crossing, 3229 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles; tickets range from $20 to $500.

Mark your calendar for the next three CicLAvias on April 10th, July 10th and October 9th; if you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again.

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century.

This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place on 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Ride; advance registration is open now.

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Alex Thompson says the Mar Vista neighborhood on L.A.’s Westside could soon be a bicycling paradise. LADOT Bike Blog reports on Wednesday’s Council committee hearing on the draft bike plan, while Damien Newton says it was a rocky road getting there; LACBC invites cyclists to help make sure the plan is implemented. The City Maven reports on Thursday’s debate with the candidates for L.A.’s 4th council district, including bike activist Stephen Box and incumbent Tom LaBonge, while Streetsblog looks at the candidates for CD8. The Downtown News says it’s time to move to a life with fewer wheels.

A look at the 7th, and possibly decisive, stage of the Amgen Tour of California from Claremont to Mt. Baldy as well as the final stage in Santa Clarita. Alcohol is the common element in most Santa Clarita bike collisions. CdM Cyclist offers a podcast interview with bike lawyer Bob Mionske. An 18-year old Carlsbad cyclist is seriously injured after running a red light; two drivers narrowly missed him, the third didn’t. San Mateo County will redesign a highway interchange where a cyclist was killed last year; the case has been reopened, but why do these things only get fixed after someone dies? Stats show biking by the Bay could be hazardous to your health.

Ernest Hemingway said you learn the contours of a country best by bike; thanks to the L.A. Times Martin Beck for the link. Oregon considers banning loose dogs in cars that could distract drivers; personally, I find loose women far more distracting. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz mocks bike lanes while cyclists continue to be injured on New York streets, and New York media treat cyclists like bedbugs in need of extermination. Charges have been filed in last year’s fatal 9/11 dooring of a New York cyclist. A Harvard study shows cycle tracks raise the rate of riding while reducing the rate of injuries. Lloyd Lemons offers his thoughts on the freedom, simplicity and solitude of cycling.

We may not be entirely sane, but crazy cyclists are not the majority. Advice on how to avoid five common beginner’s mistakes. Prosecution of a truck driver who killed a cyclist is dropped after police fail to get vital security footage. The UK’s Bike to Work program is getting more people to ride while creating better motivated employees. The road course route for the 2012 Olympics is confirmed; word is it will be technical and tactical, while plans are made for a one-time pre-Olympic race along the course. In a typical day in the Netherlands, 5 million cyclists make 14 million journeys; even more impressive for a country of just 16 million people. Cycling in Sydney is now twice as fast as driving at the morning rush hour. A look at decidedly non-recreational riding in Hanoi.

Finally, framebuilder Dave Moulton entertainingly throws a spanner in the works by looking at the conflicting terminology used in the bike world; part of that can be blamed on the age old problem of two nations divided by a common language.

A hero rides the bus — DWP employee Chris Bolivar stops a thief and saves a $2500 bike

Dan McLaughlin at the Tour de Palm Springs with his boss Andy Leeka; Dan is on the left

When Dan McLaughlin rode his bike into work on Wednesday, he never thought it would be stolen before he could get back home.

And he never thought a total stranger would run to his rescue, retrieving the bike almost before he knew it was gone.

According to Dan, he tries to ride his bike into work at least once a week. But the two-hour, 25-mile ride each way to his job at Good Samaritan Hospital is too much to sandwich around a full day at the office, so he usually takes the Commuter Express bus back to his home in Palos Verdes.

Wednesday night, he placed his $2500 Trek Madone in the rack at the front of the bus, and settled in to check his email in the back of the bus.

He barely noticed when the bus pulled over at a Downtown bus stop — it was somewhere on Flower, might have been at Washington Blvd, maybe Pico or Venice. What got his attention was the angry honking of the driver; soon everyone was standing, and someone yelled out “Your bike!”

He looked up to see his handlebars moving out of view through the windshield; by the time he got to the front of the bus, the bike was gone. He could see a young man struggling to hop on and ride it off, possibly because of the clip-in pedals.

As he stepped off the bus, though, he saw someone holding his bike. In the excitement, he ran towards him, only to realize that the man was walking back with it.

The other passengers were more than happy to fill him in.

When the bus stopped, the young man got off and immediately started to remove Dan’s bike from the rack. The driver, Pat Kesvy, started honking to stop him, but the thief kept going.

Thanks to DWP employee Chris Bolivar, this bike made it back home Wednesday

That’s when Chris Bolivar flew off the bus in pursuit of the thief. Bolivar, on his way home from his job with the Customer Service Department at DWP, quickly caught up to the struggling thief, scaring him into tossing the bike aside as he ran off down the street.

Bolivar picked it up and walked back, still shaking from the adrenalin rush.

Dan thanked his rescuer, and placed the bike back onto the rack. As they entered the bus, the passengers broke out in a spontaneous round of applause, applauding again when Bolivar got off at his stop.

And despite all odds, Dan McLaughlin made it home with his bike; as he puts it, it would have broken a roadie’s heart to lose a bike like that.

Meanwhile, one of the other passengers sent out an email telling the story, describing Bolivar as a gentleman who typically gives up his seat when the bus is crowded.

I’m told that email made it’s way to Chris Bolivar’s boss at DWP. And when he arrived at work Thursday morning, his co-workers stood up and applauded, as well.

McLaughlin is planning to take him to lunch next week to show his gratitude.

Maybe we should all thank him, in whatever way we can. After all, it could have been your bike. Or mine. And a total stranger cared enough to keep it safe.

It’s not every day you find a real hero riding the bus.

Update: A couple people have contacted me to point out that Chris Bolivar will honored at this year’s Blessing of the Bicycles at Good Samaritan Hospital on Tuesday, May 17th.

And am I the only one who sees a wonderful symmetry in a good Samaritan being honored by Good Samaritan?

Bike plan moves forward, police crackdown in OC, Box and bikes profiled in LA Weekly

First the big news, as the joint Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management votes to move forward with the draft bike plan, with a five year plan for implementation.

While that’s great news for city cyclists, it also means no for now to the proposed South Venice Beach bike path extension.

The debate was dominated by discussion over whether to allow bikes on city trails currently used by hikers and equestrians — something that safely occurs around the world, yet according to the local horse crowd, would lead to inevitable disaster here in L.A.

While there’s an obvious need for people to use trails safely and courteously, and observe the rights of other users, public parks and trails belong to everyone and shouldn’t be set aside for any single group. Or exclude any single group of users.

The committee voted to have the Planning Department negotiate language between both types of riders; however, anything that doesn’t find a way to accommodate all users would be a failure.

Meanwhile, the plan will now go to the full committee for final approval before going to the Mayor for his signature; all indications are Villaraigosa will sign off on the plan.

You can still follow yesterday’s live coverage of the meeting from L.A. Streetsblog, LACBC and Christopher Kidd of LADOT Bike Blog by clicking here.

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New York cyclists have been justifiably up in arms the last few weeks over the NYPD’s efforts to crack down on lawbreaking cyclists, while ignoring more dangerous violations by drivers.

Now a similar move is underway here as the Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa police departments are banding together to conduct a “specialized Bicycle Safety Enforcement Operation” on the 19th and 24th of this month.

Despite the title, the press release promises officers will address traffic violations by cyclists and other vehicle operators that could “lead to bicycle vs. vehicle collisions, injuries and fatalities.”

The goal of the program is to educate the public about the safe and lawful use of bicycles, as well as the safe and lawful use of vehicles that share the roadway with bicycles. Prevention is a key component of the program, which centers on the traffic laws that can prevent bicycle riders from becoming injured to killed due to illegal use or reckless behavior by bicyclists and vehicles. In addition, the Police Departments involved may be required to enforce obvious violations to the City’s Municipal Code to maintain safe operations.

I don’t have any problem with enforcing traffic violations by cyclists; frankly, I’ve seen some cyclists who should be ticketed, if not thrown into leg irons. However, I would expect — and all cyclists have every right to expect — that unlike the situation in New York, the crackdown will address violations by drivers as well as cyclists.

And it should take into account which violators pose the greater risk to others.

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Neon Tommy Editor-at-Large Hillel Aron offers an in-depth profile of CD4 City Council Candidate Stephen Box and the history of L.A. bike activism in this week’s L.A. Weekly.

As the article notes, it’s almost impossible to unseat a sitting council member in L.A.; even the most unpopular usually cruise to victory over seemingly more worthy opponents once special interest money starts pouring in. Despite that, there’s a growing sense that Box may have a real shot at forcing incumbent Tom LaBonge into a runoff next month.

LaBonge has long supported cycling, though not always in the way cyclists would prefer; if he were smart, he’d move to strengthen his support of bicycling to undercut Box’s strongest base of support. Instead, he seems to be focused on shoring up support from the anti-bike crowd, as many cyclists see him, rightly or wrongly, as an obstacle in the way of many bicycling issues.

And it’s hard to take the other candidate in the race, Tomas O’Grady, seriously when he ignores questions from the city’s leading newspaper.

You have your own chance to evaluate the candidates tonight when the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council hosts a candidate’s forum at Silver Lake Community Church, 2930 Hyperion Ave. Or you can meet Stephen Box at an open house from 2 to 4 pm this Sunday at 3311 Lowry Road in Los Angeles.

Box has also received an endorsement from MobileFoodNews; not to surprising since LaBonge has been seen as an opponent of L.A.’s popular food trucks.

One other note — the writer of the Weekly article gave me every opportunity to attack other bicycle advocates and advocacy groups; I chose not to do that. It’s my firm belief than anyone working to support cycling in Los Angles deserves my support and gratitude, whether or not I happen agree with them. I’m saddened that not everyone feels the same way.

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If you’re looking for a good ride this weekend, consider the Tour de Palm Springs, with rides ranging from 5 to 100 miles. A little further down the road, the Santa Clarita Century rolls on April 2nd offering a full century, half century, 25-mile and family rides.

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CicLAvia has received a $25,000 grant from the California Endowment. Meanwhile, GOOD is throwing a fundraising party to benefit CicLAvia on Saturday, March 5th; tickets range from $20 to $500.

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The newly unveiled draft plans for South Figueroa range from good to wow, though Josef Bray-Ali says they could use some polishing; then again, there are more important things than signing in for a meeting. L.A. will soon get its first bike corral in Highland Park. Rick Risemberg, who appears to be everywhere these days, writes about taking part in last weekend’s LA Brewery Ride with Flying Pigeon. Cool Claremont bike racks. Long Beach replaces a mandatory bike licensing law with voluntary registration through the National Bike Registry.

A popular retired Bakersfield educator died of a heart attack while riding with friends. A three-year old Visalia girl is killed when she’s backed over by a neighbor’s pickup while riding on the sidewalk. San Francisco police have refused to take reports or issue citations for collisions involving cyclists unless an ambulance is called; so not matter what a driver does, if they don’t seriously injure a rider, they walk. Shameful. Matt Ruscigno rides from San Louis Obispo to L.A. in a single day — while sick. This year’s Amgen Tour of California won’t tour California exclusively.

J. Edgar Hoover on a bike, sort of. It’s not the same as an Idaho Stop Law, but Oregon considers lowering the fines for cyclists who roll through stop signs. Somehow I missed this; Dr. Matthew Burke, the orthopedic surgeon, U.S. Army Major and Iraq war vet critically injured by aggressive driver while on a group ride last October, passed away over the weekend after 4 months in a coma; the driver is charged with reckless homicide.

Yet another London cyclist is killed by a large truck, this time a 28-year old art curator. More bikes than cars expected to cross London’s bridges during morning rush hour in 2011. Irish physicians urge the passage of a mandatory helmet law, even though you’re over six times more likely to die walking on the sidewalk. Europe already has the kind of airport bike lanes John McCain wants to kill. Looks like rising star Taylor Phinney will compete in the Tour of Oman after all. South African cyclist Michael Dean Pepper is banned for three years for a failed drug test; sometimes I think we should just ban everyone for two years and start over.

Well, that’s one more problem we don’t face in L.A. — a South African cyclist survives after using his bike to fight off a leopard attack; evidence suggests that the animal had just escaped from a snare and was fighting for its life, as well.

Rolling down Rodeo Drive and the best of the Westside with the LACBC last Sunday

Some of the riders before the start, including the Spoke's Cynthia Rose in the purple top; photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

Okay, so it turned out to be a very long ride.

When I mapped out a route for the I ♥ the Westside ride, the second in the LACBC’s new series of Sunday Funday rides, I rode the 28 mile route in about two hours without breaking a sweat.

So I added another hour to my estimate to allow for a series of five minute stops to discuss different cities and issues along the way. And then added another half hour just to be safe, and assumed everyone would be on their way home to watch the Super Bowl commercials by 1:30.

Paul Backstrom discusses the proposed Main Street road diet in Venice

Like the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

What I hadn’t counted on was the need to stop — repeatedly — when riders were cut off by traffic or red lights. Not mention an unexpected encounter with the Sweet E’s Bakeshop truck in Culver City.

I learned a long time ago never to come between cyclists and their cupcakes.

In the end, we got back to our pier-side start point over an hour after what I thought was a very generous worst case scenario.

Rick Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation discusses native plants on Ballona Creek

On the other hand, we made it without a single flat or mechanical problem. And everyone who started out either made it to the finish with the rest of the group, or left along the route to meet other obligations.

That alone made it a successful ride in my book.

I also learned that leading a ride is a lot like hosting a party — you spend so much time looking after everyone that you barely spend time with anyone.

There were a lot of great people that I didn’t get to spend as much time with as I wanted. And some I didn’t get to meet at all, much to my regret. In fact, 42 riders started out, including four new members of the LACBC who signed up that morning.

An unexpected Culver City food truck encounter made it a very sweet ride

And everyone seemed to have a great time, myself included. Then again, any day on a bike is a good day, and the perfect Westside weather and great guest speakers just made it that much better.

We started off with a brief presentation from the LACBC affiliate Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose, who offered a brief overview of the many projects the Spoke is working on to make L.A.’s city by the bay live up to it’s bike-friendly status.

After a brief jaunt down Main Street, I asked if anyone could tell me when we left Santa Monica and entered Los Angeles; not surprisingly, almost everyone was able to pinpoint the exact spot where the bike lanes ended, the road widened to two lanes and traffic sped up.

Jim Shanman discusses the work of the recently formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition

That lead to Paul Backstrom from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office speaking for a few minutes about the proposed road diet that would tame the L.A. section of Main, by creating a mirror image of the Santa Monica stretch. He noted that the city is working on solutions to move the bike lanes that would result out of the door zone, which has been fairly criticized in the original plans.

As we rode up Ballona Creek, Rick Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation and one of the city’s leading bike advocates, volunteered to talk about the native plants and rest area that had recently been installed along the bikeway, as well as a water filtration system designed to keep pollutants out of the bay.

Bikes roll down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

When we got to Culver City, Jim Shanman spoke briefly about the efforts of the newly formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition and their work on the new Culver City bike plan. And invited everyone to come back to participate in the LACBC-affiliate group’s next monthly Family Ride on the 27th.

One of my first thoughts in planning this ride had been that I wanted to see bikes rolling down Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Bentley-choked Rodeo drive. But I regretted that I hadn’t had time to reach out to Mark Elliot of the group Better Bike Beverly Hills — yes, yet another LACBC affiliate — to join us on the ride.

Mark Elliot talks about Better Bike Beverly Hills' work to make the city friendlier to bikes

So while we were stopped in Culver City, I asked if any of the riders were from Beverly Hills. When one man raised his hand, I asked if he was involved with the BBBH.

He introduced himself as Mark, and said “I founded it.”

That was how I finally met Mark Elliot, one of my personal heroes among local bike advocates, if only because he’s taken on one of the hardest battles in the L.A. area.

So when we got to Beverly Hills — which currently lacks a single inch of bike lane — Mark spoke about the work his group has been doing to transform the Westside’s bicycling black hole into something more ridable. Including the group’s efforts to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure Santa Monica Blvd to make it, not just safe for cyclists, but actually inviting for the countless riders who now go out of their way to avoid it.

I talked about the decline of Westwood and biking through the VA; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

At our stop in Westwood Village, I spoke briefly about the decline of one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, and my personal vision to turn Westwood Blvd into a pedestrian walkway from Wilshire to the UCLA campus. We also discussed the new Veterans Administration master plan and the importance of regaining bike access through the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which was closed to bikes after 9/11 — evidently because of the threat that bicycles would pose to all the people buried there.

LACBC Executive Director Jen Klausner talks about the perils of riding and walking in Brentwood

Finally, Jen Klausner, Executive Director of the LACBC, spoke about the dangers that cyclists and pedestrians face in the Brentwood area, as well as the lack of adequate infrastructure to protect them from the dangerous behaviors and sense of entitlement displayed by many Westside drivers.

In the end, it was a great day, combining a fun, beautiful ride with an overview of local advocacy.

LACBC board member Alex Amerri (in white) will lead the next Sunday Funday ride March 6th

And it sets the stage for next month’s Sunday Funday #3, in which fellow board member Alex Amerri will lead a fast-paced 62-mile ride through the north San Gabriel Valley.

And riders on that one probably won’t have to worry about the group being broken up by red lights.

My thanks to everyone who turned out for the ride, especially Cynthia Rose, Paul Backstrom, Jim Stanman and Mark Elliot for their help in discussing the issues and opportunities for bicycling on the Westside. And special thanks to the LACBC’s Jen Klausner, Joni Yung, Alex Amerri, Greg Laemmle, Carol Feucht and Martin Lopez-lu for making it a success.

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Photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

 

Harry Dougherty offers a great set of photos from Sunday’s ride — definitely better than my feeble attempts and worth the click to take a look.

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LAB calls on Colorado cyclists to support proposed legislation to fight the Black Hawk bike ban. I’d go a step further and encourage any cyclists to write in to support the legislation; Colorado’s economy depends on tourism, so your opinions on the misguided ban on bikes that could affect your decision to visit the state matters.

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The LACBC notes that a second workshop will be held Thursday night on the proposed redesign of the South Figueroa Corridor that could result in the city’s first true Complete Street, incorporating real pedestrian and bike access.

And don’t forget Wednesday’s 2:30 pm joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Committees at Downtown City Hall to consider the city’s draft bike plan; this is the last public hearing before it goes to the full Council for approval. At the moment, it looks like illness will keep me away, but I urge you to show your support if you can make it.

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Kids, don’t try this at home! A cyclist was injured in a collision with a Blue Line train on Monday. According to authorities, he was holding onto a moving bus while wearing headphones and turned into the train when he let go.

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Long Beach finally eliminates their illegal bike licensing law. A driver sticks her neck out to support the Wilbur Ave road diet (scroll down). RSVP now for a free bicycle inspection and safety check workshop at the Bike Oven Wednesday night. The city’s first bike corral will be officially unveiled Friday morning in front of Café de Leche in Highland Park. CicLAvia invites you to help extend its route into South L.A. Flying Pigeon blogger Mickey Wally offers more of his great urban cycling photos. Green LA Girl talks with Jessica Meaney of Safe Routes to Schools. Car-less Valley Girl asks drivers not to mess with the balance on the street. How to contest a bad police collision report. Charlie Gandy talks about Long Beach’s bike-friendly successes in Corona del Mar. Tracking San Francisco’s most dangerous streets for cyclists. The Bay Citizen analyzes two years of bike collision data, and finds riders responsible for most wrecks — with the chief cause pedaling too fast. Huh? Now this kind of harassment from a passing car I wouldn’t complain about.

Dave Moulton says learn something from DC’s Swanson case, and don’t let matters surrounding the death of cyclist Ben Acree in San Diego last weekend drag on for three years. Better food and bicycling could be the cure for childhood obesity. If there’s a war on cars, then why are so many of the victims pedestrians (and cyclists)? Portland authorities search for the hit-and-run schmuck who ran down a stage 4 cancer patient. A Seattle lawyer jumps head-first into the Great Helmet Debate, concluding skid lids leave a lot to be desired. A Washington woman wins a lawsuit against REI for a defective bike part one day after she died in a backcountry accident. A Minneapolis study clearly shows the rate of bike crashes goes down as ridership increases. New York cyclists are up in arms over a citation to a rider for not wearing a helmet — even though that’s not illegal under New York law. A HuffPo writer urges a backlash to the New York anti-bike backlash. More than half a million New Yorkers ride more than once a month, but the Daily News hasn’t seemed to notice; makes you wonder what other stories they might be missing.

Brit blue-eyed soul singer Adele rides a bike. Pro cyclist Riccardo Riccò is hospitalized with kidney failure after allegedly botching a transfusion in an attempt to kick-start his comeback from a 2008 doping ban, while TdF winner Alberto Contador plans to fight the relative slap on the wrist Spanish authorities are reportedly planning to give him. Somehow, people shocked! shocked! to discover the windshield perspective of the host of the BBC’s top-rated Top Gear show; BBC radio is starting a 10 part series on the history of the bike.  L.A. cyclists have to contend with big ugly cars, while Dutch cyclists have to worry about big friendly dogs. The 2012 Olympic road course will finish with a sprint ending at Buckingham Palace; no word on whether the Queen’s corgis will be in attendance.

Finally, a non-bike related conclusion as a motorcyclist’s helmet cam shows exactly what it’s like to get rear-ended at stop, but without the pain, courtesy of Cyclelicious. Will Campbell plans a train-assisted March March through the real Eastside along historic Whittier Blvd; knowing both Will and Whittier, this one you won’t want to miss.

Help make bicycling a priority in Santa Monica’s next budget

Santa Monica Spoke sends out a reminder that tonight’s Santa Monica City Council meeting will address budget priorities for the next two years at tonight’s meeting. Cyclists are encouraged to attend to ensure that bike projects receive the attention they deserve — especially in a city that ranks highest in it’s category for bike and pedestrian collisions.

When: Tuesday, February 8th 6:00 pm
Where: Santa Monica City Hall, Council Chambers (2nd Floor)
1685 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-9975 ‎

Personally, while I support the Spoke, it doesn’t look like I’ll speaking there or anywhere else for the next few days since I lost my voice following Sunday’s bike ride.

Long delayed news of Redondo bike fatality; cyclist rescued in dramatic Glendora mountain fall

I’ve never understood why the death of a human being on our streets isn’t news.

Sometimes a serious injury makes the news; often, in fact. I find stories about injured cyclists throughout the country almost every day. Unless there’s something unique about the story, I usually don’t comment on them; I have to write about enough bad news as it is.

Even when they’re close to home.

Yet other times, a rider is killed right here, and not one word makes the news, as if it never happened. Or didn’t matter.

And yet, every death matters to someone.

And every fallen cyclist deserves to be remembered.

Somehow, the death of 69-year old cyclist Robert Gary Garvin slipped through the cracks. Or someone, somewhere, decided it just wasn’t worth mentioning.

According to the Redondo Beach News, Garvin was hit by a black pickup at PCH and Agate Street in Redondo Beach around 7 pm on January 5th, suffering a “substantial head injury” after being knocked from his bike. He died eight days later at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.

Yet the story didn’t make the news until the police put out a request for witnesses a full month after the collision.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like it may have been a hit-and-run since the story says the police have identified a suspect. Yet another reason you’d think someone would have mentioned it.

Thanks to Steve Montalto for finding the story.

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Then again, sometimes the stories about injured cyclists are worth mentioning.

In a dramatic mountain rescue that was carried live on a number of L.A. TV stations, a sheriff’s department air rescue crew airlifted a cyclist to safety after he slid off Glendora Mountain Road around 10 am Tuesday.

Just a month after the death of cyclist Kevin Unck on the same road, a 22-year old cyclist, identified only as a Hispanic resident of Walnut, lost control of his bike during a high speed descent and plunged 200 to 300 feet down the mountainside.

Despite his injuries, he was able to reach his cell phone and call for help; without it, it’s entirely possible that no one would have known he was there — let alone that he needed rescue — until it was too late.

Remarkably, reports indicate that the cyclist’s injuries are not life threatening.

George Wolfberg, who seems to have his finger on everything bike-related in the L.A. area, forwards an excellent description of the morning’s events from Captain Mike Parker of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

(Note: while the story refers to the rider as a mountain cyclist, the footage on KABC Channel 7 appears to show a road bike.):

Mountain bicyclist rescued by Sheriff’s helicopter crew after 300 foot fall in Glendora

A 22-year mountain bicyclist lost control while riding alone down a steep mountain road Monday, falling nearly 300 feet down the mountainside in rugged terrain in Glendora.

The male Hispanic resident of Walnut, an experienced mountain bike rider, said he was unable to slow down in time as he picked up too much speed on Glendora Mountain Road at Glendora Ridge Mountainway in the Glendora area of the Angeles National Forest.

He was unable to stop as he went over the edge and fell a distance about the length of a football field. Injured, he called rescuers from his cell phone in the remote area at about 10:10AM. Surprisingly, he was able to get a phone connection.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, as did officers from the Glendora Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including San Dimas Sheriff’s Station for a mutual aid effort to find and rescue the man.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air-5 rescue helicopter and flight crew including deputy sheriff paramedics were in the area and found the man at about 10:45AM. Sheriff’s helicopter rescue Crew Chief Deputy Darrel Airhart lowered two paramedic sheriff’s deputies via a hoist, while the deputy pilots hovered over a deep ravine.

Paramedic Deputies Mark Desmarteau and Dan Aleman were lowered from the helicopter into position. They provided emergency medical attention, secured the injured man into a gurney, and prepared to have him hoisted up into the helicopter.

As Deputy Desmarteau was hanging off the side of the gurney to protect and secure the injured man, the deputy was dragged through trees and brush, but the injured man was kept clear of these hazards. The team was able to bring the man safely up into the helicopter, which must have been an unnerving but necessary experience for the injured hiker.

By 11:15AM, about one hour after being notified, the deputies were bringing the injured man into the helicopter. Soon thereafter, they flew him to an area hospital for medical treatment. Although injured, the bicyclist’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. The rescued man was very appreciative and thanked the deputies for their efforts.

“Given the terrain, we were surprised to see he could get cell phone reception, especially on the back side of the ridge line,” said Deputy Airhart. “It’s a good thing he did or who knows how long he could have been laying there.”

Parademic deputies said the more difficult aspects of the rescue included trying to get their footing and balance so they could secure the injured man into the gurney. Meanwhile, the helicopter rotor wash (the winds created by the helicopter blades) loosened dirt and rocks on the steep terrain, causing the footing to be more difficult and causing the deputies to have to protect the cyclist from flying debris.

The Air 5 rescue helicopter crew and the eight Search and Rescue teams of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department average about 350 search and rescue missions every year, making it one of the most active counties for search and rescue missions in the nation.

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This is just another reminder to always carry your cell phone with you when you ride. In fact, it may be the single most important bike safety device you own; if I had to choose between a wearing a helmet or taking a cell phone, I’d take the phone every time.

After all, I’ve landed on my helmet once in 30 years of riding, while I’ve used my cell countless times to report drunk or dangerous drivers, call in collisions or use the camera to defuse dangerous situations with road raging drivers.

That last point was driven home tonight when a friend of mine, Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News, was threatened by an angry driver who quickly calmed down once Joe started recording the interaction on his cell phone.

Thank God he came out of it okay. And had the presence of mind to defuse the situation.

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Today’s news took precedence over my take on Sunday’s I the Westside ride; barring any more breaking events, I’ll try to get my thoughts and photos online Tuesday.

A successful LACBC bike ride, VA bike access, and NY may be safer than you think — except for bikes

We had a great, if very long, bike ride through the Westside yesterday. I’d planned to write about that this morning, but those of us in L.A. have been blessed with perfect riding weather and I have no intention of wasting it, so bear with me and I’ll get back to that later.

Meanwhile, Michael of the Claremont Cyclist offers some great photos and thoughts on the ride, including a shiny new LACBC membership, while Bicycle Fixation’s Richard Risemberg says the ride offered a reason to get involved.

That reminds me. If you’re looking to save money, the LACBC offers a discount on memberships at the Sunday Funday rides the first Sunday of every month. And that gets you a discount at a number of the area’s local bike shops; I used mine to get 15% off a pair of bike shorts at Cynergy on Saturday.

Or you can become a member by volunteering with the Coalition; contact the LACBC for more information.

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Neighbors are heartsick over the death of San Diego cyclist Ben Acree on Saturday, while the press is — finally — starting to report the story more objectively. Of course, that doesn’t stop the usual bike-hating trolls.

Then again, does anything?

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You’ve got just over two weeks to ask for bike access through the VA grounds and the Los Angeles National Cemetery. Before 9/11, cyclists used to be allowed to ride through the cemetery grounds, providing a safe, fast alternative to dangerous high-traffic Westwood streets.

And for those behind the Orange Curtain, the Newport Beach Bicycle Safety Committee will meet at 4:30 pm Monday with guest speaker Charlie Gandy, Long Beach Mobility Coordinator; thanks to Frank Peters for the news. Meanwhile, Long Beach may be ready to repeal their illegal bike licensing program.

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Contrary to common perception, the New York Times says the city’s streets are among the safest in the country — unless you happen to travel on two wheels, as bike deaths increased a whopping 50% in 2009; that’s still less than the 26 deaths in 2006, though. No word on how many motorists died as a result of all those killer scofflaw cyclists the local press — or an influential Congressmen — has been hyperventilating over recently.

And as it turns out, NYDOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan shares my views on accidents:

“We need to stop thinking about these as accidents,” Ms. Sadik-Khan said. “An accident suggests that it happened by chance. These are crashes that happen by human error, by bad choices, and they are avoidable.”

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L.A.’s new point man in Sacramento helped bring the Bicycling Hall of Fame to Davis before taking his new post; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads up. The Claremont Cyclist takes a driver to task for being unwilling to take two seconds to save a life. Santa Monica ranks highest in its category for bike and pedestrian collisions; is it because of ninja cyclists and careless peds? Considering the poor infrastructure and bad drivers I’ve encountered there, probably not. Gary goes car free, again. Examined Spoke asks if bikes are more like cars or pedestrians. Now you can play Oregon Trail in the real world, or at least what passes for it here in L.A. GT recommends a better ear bud. Downtown News looks at plans to remake the Figueroa Corridor. CicLAvia is looking for a media consultant. Here’s a hint — don’t ride through a red light when you’re on parole and carrying drugs.

LovingTheBike looks at the way of whey. Lies, damned lies and bicycle statistics. I’d spend the extra ten bucks for one of these. Kill a cyclist, find a sympathetic judge, get 78 days. In a rare outbreak of common sense, a Salt Lake bike advocate says planning for street cars and bikes will work a lot better if they’re planned together. The Idaho Senate shoots down three-foot passing and anti-harassment laws; Wyoming rapidly follows suit. Riding in the aftermath of the great blizzard. The Manhattan DA bends himself into knots to find a reason to let the driver in a fatal dooring incident off the hook. DC pedestrians and cyclists urge more and better enforcement. A heartwarming story of local residents pitching in to get a new bike for a dancing former special needs student and part-time traffic guard. Popular cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran was killed Saturday in Deefield Beach FL, when her bike was t-boned by a car exiting a driveway; link courtesy of George Wolfberg.

Euro cyclists are urged to write their European Parliament members to support a bill that would eliminate blind spots on large trucks; we could use that here. Fewer parking spaces mean lower emission rates. Brits are urged to ride their bikes on streets that could kill them, which could explain why bike deaths and serious injuries are up while the overall death rate is down. Is it smart to dial and ride? Uh, no. A UK writer says let’s get rid of that whole idea that we’re vulnerable road users. British cops fight crime with two wheels, three elephants and lemon curd. Crowd sourced advice on what to do for cycling knee pain. Video of the world’s most effective bike lock. The great debate over whether fixies need brakes reaches Down Under. Ghost bikes have spanned the globe, but evidently not in Christchurch.

Finally, in a case of rampant irrational NIMBYism, after a car skids off a bridge in icy weather, local residents see that as proof that a putting bike lane on the bridge would lead to more deaths because — wait for it — the sight of bikes behind a separated barrier would be too distracting.

Note to drivers: if the mere presence of a bike on the road would cause you to lose control and drive off a bridge, you really don’t belong behind the wheel.

In light of AOL’s $315 million HuffPo purchase over the weekend, I’d like to note that I can be bought.

Seriously.

60-year old cyclist killed in San Diego; police and press fall over themselves to blame the victim

Excuse me if I’m a little livid.

But once again, a cyclist has been killed. And once again, the police — and the local press — have fallen all over themselves to blame the rider.

Let’s start with official version first.

Around 11:50 am Saturday, a pair of cyclists were riding in a designated bike lane on eastbound Friars Road in San Diego, near the off-ramp for the northbound I-15 freeway. The riders attempted to cross the off-ramp; one made it, one didn’t. The victim was described only as a 60-year old white male who lived with his wife in San Diego.

According to some reports, he was hit when he attempted to ride in front of a truck; according to other reports, he hit the side of the truck and fell beneath its wheels.

No, he didn’t.

There are very few cyclists anywhere who don’t have a healthy respect for — if not fear of — large trucks. The chance that anyone would actually ride into one is somewhere between slim and none.

Then there’s the comparative speeds. The rider would have likely been travelling at somewhere around 15 – 20 mph, possibly a little more or less, while the truck would have been exiting a major freeway at highway speeds.

So who exactly hit whom? Saying the bike hit the truck is kind of like saying you hit Mike Tyson’s fist with your face.

Meanwhile, according to the San Diego NBC station, a spokesman for the police suggested that the cyclist was clearly at fault.

“It appears at this time, that the bicyclist traveled in front of the truck violating his right-of-way and was struck by the commercial vehicle,” said San Diego Police Lt. Dan Christman.

Maybe it’s me. But one of us seems to misunderstand the most basic concepts of right-of-way law.

I was taught that merging traffic must yield to through traffic. Which means, unless the intersection was clearly marked to the contrary, the cyclists should have had the right-of-way, not the truck.

There is nothing in the law that says that the larger vehicle — or the faster vehicle — has the right-of-way.

Then, in an astounding demonstration of failing to understand the most basic traffic concepts, the officer points out that the bike lane the cyclists were riding in stops just before the off ramp, then begins again in the far right lane on the other side of the junction.

So what, exactly, were the cyclists supposed to do when the bike lane ended? Magically levitate to where it starts up again?

Or maybe they just weren’t supposed to be there in the first place?

As the satellite view clearly shows, cyclists using the bike lane have no choice but to ride across a busy, high-speed off ramp, hoping against hope that exiting drivers will yield to them.

Maybe the police should try riding across that off-ramp themselves.

So rather than the fault lying with the cyclists, it would appear to be a case of exceptionally poor road design, combined with the driver’s failure to yield to oncoming traffic — in this case, a bike. And an investigation by a police department that could use a little more training in the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

I hope his family has a very good lawyer.

It looks like they’re going to need one.

Update: The victim has been identified as Marberry Ben Acree of San Diego; his brother-in-law writes to note the family is still in shock, as would be expected, while friends express their grief.

A couple of the news reports indicate that satellite photos show the bike lane runs along Friars Road as the off-ramp merges with the through lanes. I relied on Google’s satellite photos because I’m over 125 mile from the scene of the collision; there’s no excuse for any San Diego-based station relying on satellite photos instead of taking news van over there to look at the damn road themselves.

A man was killed; isn’t that worth a little actual reporting?

 

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