Evidence spring has sprung along the 10 Freeway; bike lawyer says CicLAvia streets aren’t safe to ride

Funny how much beauty you can find in the most unexpected places when you ride a bike.

I spotted this on a recent ride to check out the newly rebuilt section of the Ballona Creek Bike Path in Culver City; I doubt the drivers speeding by have any idea it’s there.

Im not sure what the wooden structure was originally intended for, but it makes a lovely rustic wildflower planter.

Viewed from the other side, the planter disappears and youre left with just a hillside covered in flowers.

Its only on closer inspection that you realize its a rare island of beauty on the edge of an ugly freeway.

Then again, the new section of the bikeway looks pretty good, too; maybe someday, it will look like that all the way into the Marina.

.………

A Los Angeles attorney says it just isn’t safe to ride the recent CicLAvia route when cars are allowed.

Event participant Greg Pincus stated that it is Los Angeles is a different place without all of the vehicles. But Attorney Ehline says: “Los Angeles has a long way to go before anyone should consider riding a bicycle on that 7.5 mile stretch that they shut down last Sunday.”

Lawyer, please.

I usually ride that exact route along 4th, 6th and 7th Streets when I go Downtown, and I’m not dead yet. In fact, I choose those streets because I feel a lot safer there than I do on busier boulevards just a few blocks away, even at rush hour. As do hundreds, if not thousands, of other cyclists every day.

And while I’m not exactly a cheerleader for L.A. streets, I’ve ridden with relative safety throughout the city for nearly two decades, as have countless other riders.

Yes, bad things can and do happen.

Despite the recently adopted bike plan, L.A. stills lacks proper infrastructure, and will for decades to come until the plan is finally built out. Even then, it will take a massive investment to repave and patch the city’s crumbling streets before they offer the safety Angeleno cyclists deserve.

Then there’s the city’s notoriously careless, aggressive and distracted drivers, many of whom seem would seem to require major surgery to pry their precious cell phones from their faces. Let alone their foot off the gas pedal.

Yet in the overwhelming majority of cases, it only takes a modicum of care to get from here to there safely. And enjoyably.

I don’t know Michael P. Ehline, Esq. For all I know, he may be an excellent and caring attorney, exactly the sort of person every cyclist wants in his or her corner when it all hits the fan.

But to suggest that cyclists take their lives in their hands to ride on what are actually some of the city’s better bike streets isn’t exactly the best way to demonstrate expertise in the subject.

I mean, seriously.

.………

No surprise as Danae Marie Miller pleads not guilty in the February death of world class triathlete Amine Britel, Miller was allegedly under the influence and texting when she ran down Britel as he rode in a Newport Beach bike lane, and had at least 15 traffic citations in the previous 6 years; thanks to Lois Rubin for the link.

Meanwhile, the deputy who initially stopped Marco Antonio Valencia confirmed on the witness stand that Valencia told him “Shoot me, my life is over” as he was being detained. The arrest came minutes after the hit-and-run collision that took the life of Joseph Novotny and seriously injured three other riders, suggesting that Valencia was well aware of what he had just done.

.………

Yo! Venice! sounds the alarm over bike theft by the beach; if you’re looking for suspect, you might want to start with Bill Effing Murray. Santa Monica Spokers Brian and Cynthia ride foldies in Oregon with the Long Beach bike expats. Retailers are gearing up to meet the needs of female triathletes. Richard Risemberg says the real junk miles are the ones spent racing and training, as opposed to actually going somewhere; personally, I say there are no junk miles. Damien Newton says thanks to everyone who attended or helped make an amazing Friday fundraiser possible. More great photos and video from Thursday’s Bike Night at the Hammer Museum. A new TV and online show follows a cyclist touring the country car-free, by whatever means available including an odd assortment of bikes. Actors Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen ride through Studio City. Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles plans a special charity event on May 9th featuring the 2011 Tour of California HTC-Highroad men’s team, benefitting Right to Play. A Confident City Cycling course will be held in Culver City starting April 30th; maybe a certain lawyer might benefit by attending.

A few fond looks back at this month’s San Diego Custom Bike Show. A driver leaving a San Jose party hits and kills his own friend; initial reports indicate the cyclist was riding in the middle of the street, despite bike lanes on either side of the road. A Vallejo man was killed when he hit a power pole support cable while riding on the sidewalk. A Monterrey paper reports on last weekend’s Sea Otter Classic.

Now you can ride with no air down there. Former framebuilder Dave Moulton tells physicists nice experiment, but that’s a push toy, not a bike. Bike Noob says you’re going to fall sooner or later so learn how first, citing my advice on the subject in part. Bike Hugger looks at this year’s Bicycle Leadership Conference. Elly Blue makes the economic case for secure on-street bike parking. Advice on what to do if you’re chased by a dangerous dog — and a first hand view on what happens if it catches you. Illinois offers new Share the Road license plates. The Cutters win Indiana’s Little 500 for the 5th year in a row. A civil rights attorney says you can’t be arrested for talking back to a cop, at least in New York, while the Post continues its smear campaign against cycling in the city; any pretense of journalistic objectivity went out a window a long time ago. A wheelchair-bound Florida man is accused of ramming a female cyclist after chasing her through a parking lot the previous two days.

In Montreal, everyone thinks they have the right-of-way. A writer for the London Mail says Lycra Louts should not be above the law. A cheap mirror could save the lives of London cyclists. A drunk cyclist has to be pulled out of a UK river. Maserati is the latest high-end automaker to produce their own bicycle. Police in the United Arab Emirates begin a bike safety campaign; why is it that bike safety campaigns always focus on cyclists, rather than the drivers who can, and sometimes do, kill us? South Korea’s president says bicycling is a key component of the country’s green growth. A Philippine Senator files a bill calling for bike lanes and bike parking throughout the island nation. Aussie cyclist Matthew Lloyd is confident he’ll be back after being fired from the Omega Pharma Lotto team.

Finally, a truck-driving Bakersfield father asks other drivers not to hit his son anymore when he rides in a local bike lane. And advice from my hometown on how cyclists and horses can share the trail; oh wait, L.A. equestrians say that’s impossible.

5 comments

  1. Joe says:

    Cyclists and horses/hikers can share the trail, in the same way that cars and cyclists can share the road.

    So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that proposals to open up ped-only trails to bikes are met with the same sort of reaction as you might have to a proposal to open up the LA River Bike Path to freeway overflow traffic.

    I think it’s really telling that Blumhardt knows that bikes must yield to hikers, yet he sees no problem with complaining about two pedestrians who didn’t get out of his way fast enough.

    • bikinginla says:

      Actually, Joe, he didn’t complain about that at all; his complaint was about people being careless and not paying attention on a trail, which anyone who has ever ridden on the beach bike path can relate to.

      And as a matter of fact, cars and bikes can share the roadway extremely well when everyone observes the law and rides and drives safely. Conflicts only arise when one or more road users are selfish, careless, distracted or ignore the law.

      As someone who lived a good portion of my life in Colorado and spent countless hours hiking the backcountry, I can attest that hikers, cyclists and equestrians can share a trail with minimal conflict when due consideration is given to other users. I had far more conflicts with bears and mountain lions than mountain bikers or horse riders.

      As this article states — and as Will’s comment below illustrates — it only takes a little effort an everyone’s part to share a trail. It’s done other places on a daily basis; to claim it’s impossible to do in L.A. only reflects the most selfish and shameful NIMBYism.

      • Joe says:

        Part of safely using a multi-use trail involves making sure that your stopping distance is less than your sight line. Another part of safe trail use is making sure that when you pass, you pass safely.

        Leaving aside the fact that Mr. Blumhardt only “nearly” hit the two pedestrians, it doesn’t sound like he was following either of these two rules. In the first case, he was going too fast around a corner. In the second case, he tried but failed to get the attention of the pedestrian he was passing before he passed, after which he passed her close enough that her unexpected movement put her in his path.

        “Bikes yield to peds” isn’t just a slogan; it actually means that bikes might have to slow or even stop and stand aside — you know, “yield” — when there are peds on the trail. I don’t think Mr. Blumhardt understands this. He tries to shift the blame onto the peds by demanding that they “pay attention” — which I guess means that they clutch their dogs in tight at all times, and make sure to remain alert for audio cues from high-speed traffic passing close from the rear. Does Mr. Blumhardt also recommend that children as well as pets be clutched in close, and that deaf people stay off the trail entirely?

        I think you’re right that hikers, cyclists, and equestrians can share a trail when everybody behaves themselves. But, two things: first, not everybody behaves themselves. Dangerous mountain bikers are common. Even when they manage to avoid a collision, having to be on the alert and ready to dodge can really ruin an otherwise pleasant hike. I sometimes hike with folks in their 60’s-70’s, and they are very scared that they might get hit and seriously injured.

        And second, there are times when I like a little peace and quiet. I enjoy going places where there’s nobody there who didn’t want that quiet bad enough to hoof it all the way in. I don’t expect to be able to find this in a city park, but I do expect and enjoy it in places like Topanga SP.

        I don’t think it’s NIMBYism for people to want to have a place where they can walk with their dogs, or with their kids, or while listening to headphones, without worrying about having to pay attention to high-speed scofflaw traffic. And I don’t think it’s NIMBYism to want to have just a couple of lonely places where the long hike in protects one’s solitude.

        I get that mountain bikers want a place to play, and I think that they should have some trails (SOME trails) open for their use. More users = more people supporting parks = more parks, and I’m all for more parks. But I find bikers’ insistence that excluding them is some kind of irrational selfish NIMBY plot (at the same time as they are advocating for car-free bike lanes, car-free bike paths, and car-free Ciclavias) to be baffling and rather inconsistent.

  2. Will Campbell says:

    What a gape-mouthed money-grubbing numbskull that LA lawyer is… trying to drum up more bike accident business for his firm by hijacking CicLAvia to demonize the activity with flimsy “press releases” that SF Gate then vomits up onto its website.

    He’d be the last attorney I’d call in the event of a bike-related emergency.

    PS. On the horse/bike tip: In my 20 years of mountain biking not one of the scores upon scores of trail encounters I’ve had with equestrians has been eventful in the slightest.

  3. @Will Campbell: Will. I am Los Angeles rider, have seen and had many close calls, and I think that stretch is unsafe. Why else would it have to be shut down? Yes, I agree that they shut it down to accommodate more cyclists. But the whole idea is that we want more people riding. Before that can happen, I think it is foolhardy to encourage more riders. Just one “gaped mouthed” attorney’s view.

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