Minor miracles — new signage in SaMo and bike lanes on Via Dolce, and a new bike commuter benefit

If you’ve been coming here for awhile, you’ll know that one of my biggest complaints is the beachfront bike path through Santa Monica and Venice.

Or more precisely, the fact that it’s often almost impossible to actually ride a bike on it on busy summer days and weekends, when it’s overrun by pedestrians, skaters, skateboarders, dog walkers, Segway riders and other assorted forms of beach-loving humanity.

At its worst, the much dreaded Carmegeddon anticipated when the 405 closes this weekend will merely approximate a vehicular version of the congestion cyclists face on a daily basis.

At least, those patient and/or brave enough to attempt it.

Whenever the opportunity has presented itself, I’ve complained to anyone who would listen about the lack of signage along the bike path. And how it contributes to the problem by failing to warn crossing pedestrians about the presence of cyclists — after all, who would ever expect to find bikes on a bike path? — let alone direct riders and walkers to the sections devoted to each.

So imagine my shock this week when I rode through and saw exactly that.

Granted, it’s only a handful of signs, and only in the most crowded section around the Santa Monica Pier and just south.

And they’re only temporary signs, easily moved or knocked over. But they seem to be working, at least when the path isn’t already overrun with people.

On a quiet Tuesday morning, most people appeared to follow the warnings, whether pedaling or bipedaling. On a crowded Thursday afternoon, not so much.

But still, it’s a start. And maybe if it works, they’ll make these signs permanent, and spread them out throughout the pathway from the Palisades to the Venice Pier.

……..

That wasn’t the only minor miracle I discovered on my rides this week.

When I ride the bike path, I often continue down Pacific Avenue to the end of the Marina del Rey peninsula, returning along Via Marina. Depending on my mood, I may continue around the Marina on Admiralty Way, or turn off onto Via Dolce to make my way back home.

The route adds a little more than two miles to my ride, while giving me a relatively car-free — and mostly pedestrian-free — section of road where I can open it up a little without fear of hitting anyone who might unexpectedly step or pull into my path.

The only problem was the pitted and potholed surface of Via Dolce, which required frequent swerves into oncoming traffic to avoid the obstacles. Or at least it would, if there was traffic to contend with.

So imagine my surprise on Tuesday when I turned onto the street and found smooth, fresh pavement under my wheels, with a newly resurfaced road marking a refreshing change to a formerly jolting ride.

Let alone my shock on Thursday, when I rode the same route and discovered that the newly repainted lane lines had resulted in newborn bike lanes in the interim.

Granted, it’s only a few blocks, from south of Washington Blvd to near the junction with Marquesas Way.

And it’s a lightly travelled side street where bike lanes are largely superfluous, and of primary benefit to the people who live in the immediate area.

But still, it’s nice.

And aside from the bike lanes on Washington Blvd and the Marina extension of the bike path, it’s the first biking infrastructure in the Marina.

……..

SB582 was passed by the state legislature Thursday, mandating transportation benefits to employees who choose not to drive —including bike commuters. It now moves on to the Governor’s desk, who has 12 days to sign or veto it.

Meanwhile, L.A.’s proposed bike parking ordinance has passed the city Planning Commission, and moves on to the City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee. And Councilmember Bill Rosendahl explains the upcoming Bicycle Anti-Harassment Ordinance he has shepherded through the Council, while Damien Newton gets responses from local bike advocates about the ordinance.

……..

Not surprisingly, the ill-conceived near-killer speed cushions that resulted in critical injuries to cyclist Richard Schlickman have proven unpopular with local drivers and haven’t solved the problem of speeding drivers. So Palos Verdes Estates is looking at yet another study of how to solve the problem, including possible medians, chicanes and roundabouts.

Aside from the cost, the concern is that such measures could slow response times for emergency vehicles. Like the ones who came to save the life of Schlickman after he was nearly killed by their first failed attempt at traffic calming.

……..

The Source offers a two-wheeled guide to surviving Carmageddon, which does not include riding your bike on the 405, under penalty of arrest.

Speaking of which, anyone who enjoys a good race should be in front of their computers on Saturday, as Wolfpack Hustle challenges Jet Blue to a race from Burbank to Long Beach

You know, just your typical bike vs commercial airliner race.

The route will run door-to-door, from a home in Burbank to the lighthouse in Long Beach, starting at 10:50 am with an expected finish around 1:20 pm. And yes, the cyclists will observe all traffic laws; no word on whether the jet will signal or stop for red lights.

The story has gone viral, picked up already by bike writer Carlton Reid, Road.cc, the L.A. Times, Streetsblog, Cyclelicious, Slate and USA Today.

Gary explains how it all came together; follow #FlightVsBike to keep up with the rapidly developing events.

My money’s on the bikes.

……..

The first mountain stage of the Tour de France shuffles the standings, as expected. After 13 stages, Thomas Voeckler leads by 1:49 over Frank Schleck; his brother Andy is 4th with Cadel Evans in between.

Things are not looking good for defending champ Alberto Contador in this year’s Tour, who’s already 4 minutes back; guess that’s what happens when you stop eating Spanish beef. Samuel Sanchez won Stage 12, but to many, Geraint Thomas was the hero of the day. After unexpectedly finding himself in 9th place overall, tour rookie Tom Danielson plans to attack.

Maybe it’s just me, but this has been the most exciting Tour in years
……..

In an amazingly horrifying tale of the legal system run amuck, a mother is convicted of second degree vehicular homicide after one of her children was killed by a one-eyed hit-and-run driver who had been drinking and was on pain medication. She was held accountable simply for not using a crosswalk to walk across the street with her three children, even though they crossed at an intersection and the cost of prosecution was greater than the cost of painting one.

The driver faces just six months after the other charges were dropped, despite previous convictions for two prior hit-and-runs — on the same day, no less — while the mother faces three years for the crime of crossing the street.

And doing it in a manner that would be legal in more enlightened states, where every intersection is assumed to have an unmarked crosswalk.

Unless there’s more to the story that hasn’t made the press yet, something tells me the DA who prosecuted this case won’t be in office very long. If he’s not tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail first.

Thanks to Rick Risemberg for the tip.

……..

Will Campbell writes a truly outstanding letter of complaint about AAA’s opposition to SB910, California’s proposed three-foot passing law. Stephen Box says L.A.’s super secret final bike plan in finally available online; you might not need the infrastructure it includes, but the overwhelming majority of potential riders do. A Los Angeles firefighter will ride coast to coast to remember victims of 9/11, while a father and son from Manhattan Beach ride across the county to raise money for cancer research. Love this evocative photo from Long Beach’s biking expats as they ride through Eastern Oregon. The sobering truth about drinking and driving. Huntington Beach City Councilman Joe Shaw explains the city’s new bike traffic school program for adult offenders. An Ojai man is arrested for an allegedly drunken hit-and-run that left a cyclist with moderate injuries. Hollister asks Caltrans for roundabouts and bike lanes.

After being convicted in the death of a cyclist, a Portland man will pay to fly her family out for his sentencing. A Houston driver says he’d rather hit something — or rather, someone — soft than something hard. An Ohio judge is killed while riding his bike when a woman swerves to avoid a raccoon, and thinks she hit a mailbox — despite knocking the judge’s body 160 feet through the air. The New York Post fires another salvo in the city’s bike wars, blaming bike lanes for bad business on Broadway rather than blaming bad businesses; after all, a good business might consider putting in some bike racks or even a bike corral to entice those passing riders to stop. A lawsuit will attempt to prove that NY officials lied about stats supporting the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes. Cycling collisions are up in tiny Elmira NY. Outrage in Charleston SC when a distracted driver is ticketed for improper lane usage after knocking a cyclist off a bridge to his death; thanks to Dave Yount for the link. A new Miami shop rescues and resells unloved bikes.

Montreal police crack down on earphones. Rachel McAdams rides a bike in Toronto with boyfriend Michael Sheen. Bike teams scramble for sponsorship despite positive returns. London attempts to improve road safety for cyclists by leaving no room for them. The Brit driver who punched a cyclist turns himself in. More road rage in the UK, this time it’s a cyclist who punched a passenger through a car window. A writer for London’s Guardian says the U.S. has a lot to learn from Europe when it comes to encouraging bike commuting; link courtesy of Rex Reese. The seven Estonian cyclists kidnapped in Lebanon while on a bike tour last March are finally free after French authorities negotiate their release. Following a collision, a drunk cyclist is fined for BUI in Dubai.

Finally, an auto-centric columnist for the Boston Globe calls for banning cyclists from the city, while the Times’ Hector Tobar urges patience even though some cyclists are setting a bad example for all those law-abiding drivers out there. But seriously, when you pass “two slow moving cyclists” and have no idea why they’re both flipping you off, there’s probably a reason for it.

And here’s your perfect soundtrack for Carmegeddon weekend.

Although this one seems kind of appropriate, too.

One comment

  1. Edward R. Fette says:

    liked your piece on the bike path. I was there last Friday, Sept. 1, to try and get some bike riding done before the crowd hit the beaches for Labor Day. I’ve been riding the path for years and this is the worse I’ve ever seen it. I had a minor crash in the sand while trying to pass two pedestrians on the path and almost hit a woman and her son as they crossed the path without looking. It’s getting to the point that riding my bike on this path is too stressful. I’m constantly watching to make sure I see people who are not paying attention or little children who dart out in front of me or people who ignore the signs and walk on the path shoulder to shoulder across the entire width of the path and then many of them get angry when you ask them to move to one side. I wish the pedestrian path that parallels the bike path in SM could be extended to go all the way up to Will Rogers. It’s just so aggarvating.

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