Archive for August 19, 2011

Getting the royal road treatment from Hollywood police, and encouraging a motorist to drive better

Earlier this week, I was cut off by a driver who pulled out from a side street without ever looking in my direction.

So I jerked on my brakes and yelled out a warning. And he responded by calling me an asshole before speeding on his way.

So let me get this straight.

He drives in a careless manner, putting other people’s lives at risk. But I’m the asshole for trying to avoid getting killed?

Or maybe just being on the planet?

Fortunately, experiences — and drivers — like that are the exception.

Santa Monica Spoke member and bike advocate Eric Weinstein had a couple of much better encounters recently, demonstrating that there is hope for détente on our streets.

And that maybe things are better out there than it seems sometimes.

Sunday I was cycling back from a bar near Universal City. So, I’m southbound on Cahuenga Bvld, through the pass, which I expect to be difficult, with a narrow road and fast cars. Well…the auto traffic is conveniently stopped on most of the downhill portion. About 3/4 of a mile of cars: all nose to tail, not moving at all.

They can’t hurt you if they’re not moving! Nice!

So, I ride between the lanes and arrive at the Hollywood Bowl entrance intersection. There is an event starting, with a bunch of traffic and police types, and everyone waits for quite a few minutes until the cross traffic is stopped. When it’s time to go, the traffic officer points to me and says “You first.” I go, all alone, and she holds the rest for at least 30 seconds, which gives me time to accelerate to speed, take the lane, etc. Nice!

Then I get to Highland and Hollywood Boulevard, where my route turns right. Another line of cars, all turning right, all stopped by a traffic guy and a large bunch of pedestrians in the crosswalk. I cruise up the outside, because you all know you do not want to be between a car and a right turn!

When I get to the head of the line, the cop asks me “ You turning right?” “Yep” I say. Where else would I be going stopped at a right turn. The pedestrian mob ends, and he points to me and says “Go now!” and he holds the rest of the cars until I’m well clear. Nice! And much safer.

Are there new instructions on this to the Hollywood Traffic police? Have any other cyclists been allowed go first like that? This was a great experience! I really felt that a cyclist belonged in traffic.

The following day, I was biking down Colorado in Santa Monica near 20th. It was the part where it’s pretty commercial — the road is two lanes per side with some parking, some curb. It’s reasonably wide.

An unfortunately typical thing happens – the squeeze. When I bike there, I take 1/3 of the lane, putting me just outside the door zone. At almost 20 mph I expect the cars to follow me until there is room to pass in the lane to their left.  When there’s room on my right I put over to let them past.

What surprised me was that a small silver sports car could just squeeze by in the 2/3 of a lane remaining at about 35 mph. Always brings that feeling of mortality when there’s a car zooming by right next to your handlebar.

Sometimes, though, you catch them at the next light. That’s what happened this time, so I put up next to the open passenger side window and say “Hey” to the driver.

The driver is a blond woman, who is hunched over, looking down and texting! She is very, very startled as she realizes someone is talking to her from outside the car and sits up, looking guilty. I say, “You just did the same thing to me back there!”

Pause while she (maybe) remembers passing me a minute ago. If anything she looks more guilty. Next I say “Please don’t text!” She says apologetically “I wasn’t texting back there.”

“Please leave more space when you pass,” I say. “Sorry,” she says. And I think she means it. She really looked very embarrassed.

The light changes, and we drive off. I think she got it.

And, I hope, another driver converted to changing their ways.

Something tells me that the driver I encountered wouldn’t have responded quite so well had I been able to catch him.

Not that I tried, of course.

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As you may recall, Stephanie Segal is currently facing charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run for the death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last year. Laing was riding in the bike lane on Agoura Road when Segal allegedly ran him down, with a blood alcohol content of .26%.

Now, in what promises to be a very emotional day, Victim Impact Statements are scheduled to be heard on September 7th, starting at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way.

Cyclists are urged to attend to show support for the victim and his family. I’m told that a room full of riders in bike jerseys would make a real statement to the court and offer comfort to the family; however, wear long pants, because shorts — bike or otherwise — are not allowed in the courtroom.

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Bicycling offers a look at the top contenders and 3 stages to watch in next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, aka Tour of Colorado. It doesn’t bode well for the Pro Cycling Challenge that another Colorado bike race is sabotaged. Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad team want to win one last grand tour at the Vuelta before the team is dissolved at the end of this season.

And then there’s this:

Q. Do you think Lance cheated?

A. Evelyn Stevens. Marianne Vos. Emma Pooley. Jeannie Longo. Kristin Armstrong.

Those are just five of the hundreds of female pro cyclists who deserve more attention and discussion than the question of whether Lance cheated.

That beautiful, brilliant response comes from competitive cyclist Kathryn Bertine, along with her responses to nine other questions cyclists get asked.

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After getting hit by a car 10 years ago, Simon Richardson recovered to become a Paralympic cycling champion. Now he’s fighting for his life, a victim of a hit-and-run collision on Wednesday.

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The L.A. Weekly decides the city’s new bike plan is already in trouble, just four months after it was adopted. Richard Risemberg points out that the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has a golden opportunity to do something that would benefit cyclists — and everyone else. Stephen Box says Metrolink passes the bike friendly test. Leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes tour comes to Santa Monica on Saturday, September 10th; word is another local date is in the works on Monday the 12th. More on Temple City’s plans to construct the city’s first bikeway with separated bike lanes on Rosemead Ave. Long Beach makes a long leap towards livability. The L.A. firefighters riding to New York for 9/11 make a side trip to visit the victims of the Joplin MO tornado.

Two Orange County teenagers are under arrest for shooting passing cyclists with a BB gun. San Diego’s Courteous Mass and Critical Manners ride may not bring about world peace, but it’s a start. A driver gets two-years for killing a cyclist in a Bay Area hit-and-run. A Cupertino cyclist rides across Iowa at age 70 after taking up riding just last winter.

As usual, Bob Mionske nails it with a look at internet trolls who respond to every cycling news story from a highly biased and usually inaccurate windshield perspective. Bicycling says follow this diet, and you’ll be able to ride longer on less food and never bonk. Another example showing cyclists are at least as likely as pedestrians to be seriously injured in a collision between the two; oddly, I don’t hear anyone calling for dangerous scofflaw pedestrians to be taxed and licensed. Five easy steps to buying your next bike; they forgot to mention step six, which is finding a way to pay for it. After the rear cyclist on a tandem is killed in a collision, a witness is arrested for going through their belongings. So let me get this straight — did a teenage cyclist riding in a crosswalk dart out and hit a passing truck, or did the driver ignore the girl riding in the crosswalk and cut her off? Springfield Cyclist asks if you’ve ever done anything dumber than locking your bike to a post without the key; maybe that’s what happened here. An Ohio driver is charged with killing a bike-riding judge while driving with a blood alcohol content of nearly .29. New York cyclists may have won the lawsuit over the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes, but some local residents still think they suck — the cyclists and the bike lanes, that is. The sore losers at the Daily News complain about NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s highhanded ways; then again, they’d probably complain if she picked up the tab for drinks. Our North Carolina friend Zeke points out that road rage is relative, as drivers patiently line up behind a slow moving tractor without a single horn or finger.

A Canadian cyclist is injured after firecrackers are thrown from a passing car. A Vancouver cyclist is fighting British Columbia’s mandatory helmet law in court; although a little helmet hair isn’t a bad trade-off when your skull is at stake. A 10-year old Brit cyclist is impaled on his handlebars; fortunately, he’ll survive, but this seems to happen far more often than it should. Cyclists and driveways don’t have to be in conflict. Sydney bike riders would feel safer using the city’s bikeways if pedestrians and buses wouldn’t.

Finally, genius must have skipped a generation, as a bike thief is arrested after mentioning on his Facebook page that the bike he’s trying to sell is stolen.

And after nearly getting turned into bug splatter by a stop sign-running VW Beetle on my way home Wednesday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that my last words on this planet may very well be “Oh fu…!”

But then, aren’t we supposed to be the ones who run stop signs?

SaMo cyclist deliberately assaulted; alleged Jorge Alvarado killer plays soccer in Texas

I’ve gotten reports of an intentional assault on a cyclist in Santa Monica on Wednesday.

Cyclist Will Ashe sends word that the driver of a black Lexus GS 470 deliberately rear-ended another rider on Colorado Ave, then fled the scene. Police were called, but the victim got the license plate number wrong.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s hard to get the number right when you’re trying to pick yourself up off the pavement.

Be on the lookout for a car that meets that description driven by an African-American man. But remember that there are probably hundreds of cars like that on the Westside.

So don’t get carried away.

Call the police, and let them deal with it.

Update: In my rush to get this online last night, I neglected to mention that the rider is okay, though the bike has a tacoed rear wheel.

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Good news and — to me, at least — maddening news on the legal front.

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that the judge has denied a motion to suppress evidence in the case of Shawn Fields; the allegedly drunk hit-and-run driver is accused of killing 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October.

The defense had argued that police did not have a warrant when the entered Fields’ house after he did not respond when they saw him sleeping inside. As a result, they wanted everything officers observed after entering the home suppressed, as well as the results of blood alcohol and field sobriety tests.

However, the judge ruled that the police did the right to enter the home based on probable cause and exigent circumstances.

The next court date is pre-trial hearing scheduled for September 20th at the San Fernando courthouse, case # PA068775.

Meanwhile, in the case of Patrick Roraff, the teenage driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing in April of last year, has had his pretrial hearing delayed until September 1st, case #SB – FSB1002475.

Wheels reports that attorneys for Roraff and co-defendant Brett Morin have both filed motions to have their charges dismissed for insufficient evidence; Roraff has also filed a motion to have his charges reduced from felony manslaughter to a misdemeanor; I’m told that both motions are routine.

Don’t go looking him around here next month, though. Despite the seriousness of the charges he faces, the judge had given Roraff permission to travel to Texas with his school soccer team.

So let me get this straight.

Despite — allegedly — killing another human being because he couldn’t resist the urge to illegally race another driver, he gets to play soccer with his friends, while Jorge Alvarado’s family and loved ones face going on without him.

Am I the only one who finds that more than a little infuriating?

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The California Bicycle Coalition calls for action to support AB 345 to give cyclists and pedestrians the voice with Caltrans we should have had all along.

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Intriguing idea, as Streetsblog’s Damien Newton reports — and supports — an idea floated by the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee to elevate the planned Expo Bikeway over several busy Westside intersections.

And speaking of Streetsblog, Damien looks at bike-friendly Long Beach this week.

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Looks like someone is deliberately trying to sabotage courses for next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Evidently feeling a need to attack all former Tour de France winners, Floyd Landis accuses Alberto Contador of doping by association; he’s no doubt looking for dirt on Cadel Evans as we speak. Meanwhile, the Cadel effect results in an upsurge of interest in cycling Down Under. Vincenzo Nibali will defend his title in the Vuelta. Twenty-year old Portland racer Jacob Rathe goes pro with top-tier team Garmin-Cervelo; evidently, Taylor Phinney isn’t the only pro cycling prodigy.

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A writer for the Baltimore sun reminds us that bikes can kill, too.

However, a tiny bit of perspective might be helpful — you can count the number of people killed by bikes each year on one hand and still respond with the inappropriate gesture of your choice, while motor vehicles kill well over 30,000 people a year in the U.S. alone.

Of course, the people who hate bikes also tend to forget that colliding with a pedestrian is just as likely to result in serious injuries or death to the cyclist. And it isn’t always the cyclists’ fault. But maybe the solution is as simple as better infrastructure.

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LACMA will offer a free screening of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure this Friday. More on the new 7th Street road diet and bike lanes from EcoVillage, CicLAvia and LADOT Bike Blog; I rode them myself Wednesday evening, but I’ll save that story for another day. Bicycle Fixation offers a lovely look at a bike Sunday in Santa Monica. CicLAvia expands into South L.A. and Olvera Street and Chinatown. C.I.C.L.E. says studies show exercise increases lifespan, so why aren’t we? A look back at biking in L.A. circa 1901. Photos from the newly upgraded section of the Ballona Bike Path in Culver City. UC Irvine makes a dent in campus bike thefts by arresting five suspected thieves, one for the third time; does the third strike law apply to bike theft? Meanwhile, Manhattan Beach police arrest another four bike thieves; 9 down, a few thousand or so to go. Live 4 Bikes, a new bike shop is officially opening in Bellflower this weekend, and offering free tune-up for the first 50 customers. Temple City plans to install protected bike lanes on Rosemead Blvd. The Claremont Cyclist asks why the recent stories about deaths in Yosemite ignored the park’s leading killer. Sometimes, when everything goes wrong it turns out better. After a flurry of activity by local advocates, Newport Beach’s illegal, though long-standing, ban on bikes on a local street is coming down, despite claims that it really wasn’t a ban after all, despite what the sign says.

L.A.’s own former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati wins the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix; San Diego’s Trina Jacobson takes the women’s crown. San Diego hosts a successful Courteous Mass. Drivers complain about cyclists, cyclists complain about bikers. A Fairfield cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after witnesses say he ran a red light and rode into the path of a turning car. A bill increasing penalties for using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving goes to the Governor’s desk — and extends the prohibition to cyclists, as well, so hang the damn thing up when you ride, already.

More evidence that bicycling is a lot safer than people think; still, Bob Mionske says it’s a good idea to wear a helmet — legally as well as medically — even if you don’t have to. It may be the end of the road for motormania. Utah hit-and-runs are on the rise as more people ride bikes. A beginner’s guide to safe cycling from my hometown, good advice that would work anywhere. More on the Black Hawk bike ban going to the Colorado Supreme Court. Compete Streets is now the law in New York state. There’s good news for NYC cyclists as the lawsuit against the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes is dismissed. After a shattering hit-and-run, New York police do…not much. Another day, another Daily News hack job on Gotham cyclists; judging by their reports, Daily News reporters would rather deal with a zombie apocalypse than an infestation of bike riders. Defining bikers, cyclists and rolling pedestrians. The New York Times says Florida pedestrians have to run for their lives.

A look at the infamously popular Rosarito-to-Ensenada bike ride coming up next month. A Canadian street performer has his prop bike stolen during his act. Victoria police crack down on cyclists for not wearing helmets. A UK motorist is convicted of using two mobile phones to talk and tweet at the same time while driving — and making the police wait while he finished his call. No, seriously. Bike theft is a problem in the UK as well, as a 14-year old rider helps bust a bike theft ring. Free-to-use bike pumps appear in London. Why Cambridge is a model cycling city. Now you can ride your bike to look for Nessie. The first improved roads were built for and by cyclists, before they were co-opted by motorists. Seville, Spain experiences a 100 time jump in cycling levels in just four years, which would probably put the Daily News writers in a padded cell.

Finally, Danny MacAskill is back, doing the impossible on two wheels. And writing for Bicycling, pro cyclist Ted King says enjoy — truly, consciously enjoy — your next ride. And your life.

Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind.

Yet another teenage cyclist killed earlier this month, this time in Rancho Cucamonga

A 16-year old Rancho Cucamonga cyclist died August 5th, nearly a week after he collided with a car.

Bernie Cota, who would have been a junior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, was riding his bike to a friend’s house on Friday, July 29th when the wreck occurred at the intersection of Milliken Ave and Terra Vista Parkway. No other details about the collision are currently available.

Cota was not wearing a helmet at the time, even though helmets are required for anyone under 18 in California. He suffered severe brain injuries, and despite surviving emergency surgery, lingered in a coma before being declared dead on Friday, August 5th.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, his organs were donated after his death.

All of Cota’s organs were healthy and his mother opted to have them donated. She is absolutely certain that her son would have wanted it that way.

“Many people got good news that day,” Denise Cota said.

But many others received news that broke their hearts, including friends, relatives and Bernie Cota’s two younger brothers, Brent and Brandon.

A public memorial was held for Cota this past weekend, while a local hair salon and pizza parlor both held fundraisers for the family; friends made and sold t-shirts and bead bracelets to raise money for the funeral.

A local mortuary offers a moving slide show of a life cut short.

This is the 49th confirmed traffic-related cycling death in Southern California this year, and 4th in San Bernardino County; Cota was the second teenage cyclist to die in the county this month.

My heart and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. Thanks to Ann for forwarding the news.

Guest post: leading L.A. bike attorney and advocate Howard Krepack on taking the lane

There are just a handful of attorneys I’d want on my side when I need help, most of whom you can find over there on the right column.

Howard Krepack is one of those, someone I’ve come to know and respect as a friend and fellow cyclist, as well as an experienced attorney specializing in bike law and a strong supporter of our local cycling community. So when he contacted me recently to say he’d written a piece about the law behind your right to take the lane — as well as when and how to do it — I offered to let him share it here.

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Taking the Lane—It’s a Personal Decision

By Howard Krepack, Esq.
Partner, Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant Felton & Goldstein, LLP

Bicycling safety is all about balance and control, particularly when it comes to taking the lane. Sharing the road with motorists can be a breeze or a nightmare; you can do a lot to shape that reality for yourself.

Taking the lane makes you more visible to motorists by basically becoming one of them. It enables an approaching driver to spot you, slow down as necessary and pass you as if you were a car. If you are hugging the shoulder, many drivers will pass you too quickly and/or too closely. In addition, motorists are often preoccupied with other things—the phone, the radio, their passengers—to pay a great deal of attention to the cyclist riding near the curb (drifting to the shoulder is common for inattentive drivers).  Taking the lane also helps alleviate your chances of being caught in a right hook when a motorist makes a right turn.

The California Vehicle Code tackles the topic in Section 21202—Position in Traffic. It reads as follows:

(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

But, just because taking the lane is legal and oftentimes optimal, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. It is as much of a mental act as a physical one, and shouldn’t be done until you are comfortable putting yourself in that situation.

Even then, there are cases when balancing the legality with the reality doesn’t add up to taking the lane. For instance, when vehicular traffic is moving at 45 mph or more, a bicyclist traveling at 20 mph will be seen as a nuisance at best (with the possible accompanying road rage that implies) and an unseen victim at worst.

We live in a car-centric society where infrastructure improvements that would increase bicycling safety are slow in coming. Grassroots, non-profit groups are making great strides, but until cities and governmental agencies get on board in earnest, bicyclists will still be considered second-class citizens. Needed changes include:

  • An increase in the length and number of bike lanes and sharrows.
  • Keeping road shoulders clear of debris and obstacles.
  • Utilizing proper/appropriate signage to warn bicyclists of road conditions and hazards.
  • A better understanding on the part of public safety officers about the vehicle code as it pertains to bicyclists.
  • Public awareness that bicyclists and motorists share the same responsibilities and rights to the road.
  • Motorists adhering to the rules of the road.
  • Bicyclists adhering to the rules of the road.
  • Motorists and bicyclists treating each other with common courtesy.

Just like taking the lane, it’s all about balance and control.

(The law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of those who have suffered serious injuries on or off the job. Partner Howard Krepack, an avid bicyclist, leads the firm’s bicycle accident practice. For more information about our firm, call us at 213-739-7000 or visit our website: www.geklaw.com.)

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I welcome guest posts, whether you’re a leading bike attorney or just a cyclist with something to say. And whether or not you agree with what I have to say — or vice versa.

So if you’d like to share your thoughts with your fellow cyclists on any bike-related subject, email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com.

12-year old Victorville cyclist killed near Hesperia

In yet another tragic cycling collision, a Victorville middle school student was killed after reportedly running a stop sign on Saturday.

The San Bernardino Sun reports that 12-year old Zachariah Houck was riding south on Joshua Road in Oak Hills with a group of friends around 6:45 pm when he went through the stop at Mesquite Street, and was struck by a Lincoln Navigator driven by George Peery.

Peery reportedly tried to swerve to the right to avoid Houck’s bike, but was unable to stop in time. Houck was pronounced dead at the scene; tragically, his parents arrived at the scene before police.

He had just started his first week of 7th grade on Thursday. The Victorville Daily Press quotes his aunt speaking for the family.

“We’re all numb,” Sarah Houck-Garcia, Houck’s aunt, said Monday. “It’s been tragic for the entire family. He was just a big love bug.”

According to the Daily Press, his middle school is accepting donations for the family.

Quail Valley is collecting donations for Houck’s family at the front office including gift cards, money or letters and cards of encouragement, according to Principal Dennis Zimmerman. Anyone wishing to make a donation to Houck’s family can visit the school at 10058 Arrowhead Road in Phelan or make out a check in the name of Zachariah Harrison Houck II and take it to a Wells Fargo branch.

This is the 48th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 3rd in San Bernardino County.

My deepest sympathies to Houck’s family and friends.

Pristine bike lanes adorn 7th Street for your morning commute, and a weekend full of links

The sparkling new road diet on 7th Street east of Downtown; photo courtesy of Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News.

According to Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News, the long-planned bike lanes on 7th Street west of Downtown appeared almost as if by magic over the weekend — despite not being expected for another month.

Seventh has been my favorite route into Downtown for the past several months; a relatively lightly travelled four lane street where riders could easily take the lane. And usually hold it without too much difficulty.

Now the street has undergone a road diet — and this time, there was a lot of outreach to the surrounding community, unlike some streets we could name. The result is, from the looks of it, a beautiful road with spacious bike lanes that extend well past the door zone.

And one that presumably has support from the people who live and work along its route, unlike some streets we could name.

I’ll be riding it myself later this week, so I’ll let you know what I think.

But it looks like one of the city’s best kept secrets for riding in or out of Downtown just got a lot better.

Update: In an earlier version of this story, I inadvertently said the bike lanes on 7th were east of Downtown; of course, they are west of Downtown. Thanks to Mike for catching my directionally challenged blunder.

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A soon-to-be-Angeleno asks for advice on where to live in L.A. where the riding is easy.

I’m an east-coaster who loves the easy biking in Cambridge and Boston, MA for my 15 minute work commutes. My husband and I are moving out to the LA area and are considering what neighborhoods are the most bike friendly and have a decent amount of bike lanes. Any feedback would be much appreciated!

I’m tempted to say that, aside from Long Beach and maybe Santa Monica, that kind of easy riding doesn’t exist yet in Los Angles. But what would you say? Any neighborhoods you’d recommend?

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Don’t ride your bike without lights at 2:15 am when you’ve been drinking underage. Then again, don’t get hit by a car when you’re riding with three times the legal blood alcohol limit. And don’t ride salmon without lights when you’re drunk, either.

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After a hit-from behind collision just minutes from Glacier National Park, a cyclist from my hometown is told that surgeons don’t see many patients like him. Because they’re usually dead.

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In pro news, Edvald Boasson Hagen wins the Eneco Tour, edging Phillippe Gilbert and David Millar, as biking prodigy Taylor Phinney just misses his first pro podium. After a disappointing Tour de France, Levi Leipheimer wins the Tour of Utah.

Tour de France hero Johnny Hoogerland still struggles with the scars from his famous crash, emotionally and physically. U.S. cyclist David Clinger has been banned for life after testing positive for eating Spanish beef. Speaking of which, Alberto Contador will skip next years Giro to focus on reclaiming the tour de France, assuming he’s not banned for doping, uh, eating beef.

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A cyclist is repeatedly run off the road by a tow truck driver working for the city, yet the City Attorney says no harm, no foul — giving the driver tacit approval to do it again. Rethink North Figueroa this Friday. Richard Risemberg wisely says its time to stop complaining that the machine driving our cycling infrastructure is big, it’s time to start learning how to steer it. The Santa Monica Mirror looks at SaMo’s new Bike Action Plan; Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu likes what he sees. No bail for SaMo bike thieves busted with purloined bolt cutters. Cynergy Cycles unveils the 2012 BMC line on Thursday. Over 100 people gather on Manhattan Beach to remember 7-year old Jeremy Perez, who was killed by a grocery truck as he rode to visit his mother. The Claremont Cyclist revisits last week’s action at the Encino Velodrome. A Simi Valley cyclist with cerebral palsy plans to ride 500 miles to remember 9/11; maybe the challenges the rest of us face don’t look so big in comparison.

A Bakersfield letter writer says the more you weigh, the more you should pay for road maintenance; I like it. Imperial Valley cyclists enjoy a ride by moonlight. Camarillo bike thefts have tripled in the past two months. The Ventura County Star endorses a Thousand Oaks bike lane project. Lake Arrowhead will host their first Tour de Arrowhead on August 27th. Newport Beach violates state law by banning bikes from Fernleaf Ave. Long Beach’s biking expats offer a little bike wisdom that’s proven true in my experience. San Francisco police respond to a recent tragedy by cracking down on red light runners, most of whom are cyclists. A San Francisco musician is gay bashed while riding his bike with a bandmate. Now that’s what I call a fuzzy bike. Ped and bike collisions spike in Alemeda. Palo Alto looks forward to a new bike bridge over the 101.

Research shows bike-friendly cities are safer for all road users. Bicycling offers a 108 point list of the rites of bike passage; the C-Blog lists his favorites. The infamous Black Hawk bike ban goes before the Colorado Supreme Court; how other Colorado towns say no to bikes. Michigan puts their road engineers on bikes; the real question is, why doesn’t everyone do that? An 84-year old Wisconsin cyclist rides 60 miles to promote lung health. New York’s Daily News takes yet another potshot at cyclists and NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan; the Brooklyn Spoke responds. A New York Times columnist hits the wall 500 miles into a cross country trip; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. The Virginia Bicycling Federation takes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to task for attempting to put bike share on the chopping block. A Baltimore cyclist disregards studies showing it’s dangerous and encourages others to ride on the sidewalk; yes, neither studies nor common sense are true if you choose not to believe them. House star Hugh Laurie tours the Big Easy by bike. Florida police ticket children on their way to school for not wearing helmets.

A fixie-riding DJ has become a hero of the London riots by providing accurate, real-time information. Two Israeli cyclists are killed and five injured when an 18-year old truck driver falls asleep at the wheel. Aussie cyclists say a planned off-road path will lead to road rage. Biking through Bhutan.

Finally, a nice memory and good smile from Will Theisen at Cynergy. And if your pot patch is missing, you can blame a cyclist.

Update: Bike Rally to benefit Lisa Collins, bike tour of historic Glendale, BBQ to benefit Ride2Recovery

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

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

Saturday, August 13th, Block Bikes is hosting a bike rally to benefit Lisa Collins; registration begins at 1 pm at American Heroes Park, 701 West Kettering Ave in Lancaster, with the rally starting at 2 pm. Cost is $20 per two-person team, with all proceeds going to Collins, who was critically injured in a collision with a distracted driver last month.

Flying Pigeon hosts their monthly Spoke(n) Art Ride on Saturday, on August 13th at 6 pm, followed by the popular Get Sum Dim Sum Ride at 10 am on Sunday, August 21st. All rides meet at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

Also on Saturday, the Glendale Historical Society, Glendale Community Services and Parks Department, and the LACBC is co-sponsoring a bike tour of historic Glendale this weekend. The free 14-mile ride meets at the historic Glendale Train Station, 400 West Cerritos Avenue, at 8:30 am, departing at 9 am sharp. Riders must bring a helmet, water and a snack.

Sunday, August 14th from 1 to 3 pm, American Legion Auxillary Post 817 is hosting a BBQ and raffle at 13553 Reedley St, Van Nuys. Just $2.50 a plate gets you a choice of burger, hot dog, chicken or hot link, including chips and potato salad; full bar will be available for an additional price. 100% of the BBQ proceeds will benefit Ride2Recovery, a program to help injured veterans overcome the obstacles they face through bicycling.

Also on Sunday, LACBC affiliate Better Bike will host a transit-themed ride through the streets of Beverly Hills as they tour the remnants of old Pacific Electric rail line through the city, as well as the site of the future Purple line subway station. Riders meet at the Peets Coffee at 258 S. Beverly Drive at 2 pm. (I inadvertently left this out earlier; my apologies to Better Bkike.)

Friday, August 19th, the latest LACBC affiliate chapter will take form as the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition meets for the first time. The meeting will take place at 7 pm at Poinsettia Park, 7341 Willoughby Ave. You don’t have to live in West Hollywood to participate or become a member.

The Encino Velodrome hosts the Encino 6 Hour Race on Saturday, August 20th at 17301 Oxnard Street, at the edge of Balboa Park in Encino. Gates open at 10 am; race day registration is at 11 am and racing starts at noon.

C.I.C.L.E. and the Santa Monica Museum of Art co-host the Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts on Sunday, August 21 from noon to 7 pm at 2525 Michigan Ave in Santa Monica. Pre-registration is advised since it usually fills up.

Metro is holding a roundtable discussion to talk about operator training, bicycle outreach and education on Monday, August 22nd from 6 to 8 pm in the 3rd floor conference room, One Gateway Plaza in Downtown L.A. Anyone who has ever been buzzed by a bus — which means just about every cyclist in L.A. — may want to attend.

Tuesday, August 30th, Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse will host a benefit night for Streetsblog LA from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; a portion of all food and drink purchases will benefit Streetsblog; 2911 Main Street. Events will include a raffle, drink specials and possibly a bike valet.

Also on Sunday, September 4th, the LACBC will hold the next monthly Sunday Funday Ride; details are still being fleshed out.

The 2011 Far West and SCNCA Elite Track Cycling Championships come to the Encino Velodrome on Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th at 17301 Oxnard Street, at the edge of Balboa Park in Encino. Gates open at 8 am; racing starts at 9 both days.

Mark your calendar for L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend, as the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat comes to town on Saturday, October 8th, followed by the next CicLAvia on Sunday, October 9th, offering an expanded route taking participants another 2.5 miles into Boyle Heights.

The LACBC IS co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking from Friday, October 14th through Sunday, October 16th, 634 S. Spring Street, Suite 821.

The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, October 27th from 6 to 11 pm at CARECEN HQ, 2845 W 7th Street. Tickets will be available for $45 later this year.

Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13th, the Eastside Bike Club hosts the LA Tamale Throwdown at a site to be determined, offering a chance to sample some of the city’s best tamales, coffee and pan Mexicano; bike valet courtesy of Flying Pigeon LA.

Cyclist pedals into action to prevent disaster on the Venice Boardwalk

It’s been less than a decade since the disaster at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, when a confused motorist plowed through a crowd of pedestrians, killing 10 people and injuring 63.

Last weekend, it could have happened again. This time on a busy Venice Boardwalk crowded with tourists.

Fortunately, a cyclist named Kim Rivera was riding her bike north through Venice around 8:30 pm last Saturday night, making her way towards Santa Monica, when she saw a possible tragedy in the making.

As I approached one of the parking lot entrances, I saw a car driving on the Boardwalk.  Right behind it, I saw a black Jeep follow the first car.  Both continued driving north on Ocean Front Walk. The 1st car was driving at a normal speed (I estimate 22-25mph). The Jeep was slower.  They both drove past a restaurant with people sitting outside. Pedestrians moved to the sides of the walk and were calling out “wrong way!” but the drivers seemed clueless.

A lot of people would have just shaken their heads and continued riding on their way, or stood to watch it all unfold before them. Instead, Kim swung into action to try and catch the drivers before it as too late.

I was riding right behind the Jeep.  My intention was to ride up along side him and point him in the right direction, but I couldn’t safely get to the side since people were already moving to the sides of Ocean Front Walk. Soon the Jeep got a clue and turned right toward the alley.

That left one more car still threatening the safety of everyone on the Boardwalk.

The 1st car was well ahead of him.  I road toward him cautiously because I didn’t know if he was drunk or what he might do next. He started to drive onto the Santa Monica Pedestrian Path that parallels the bike path, about half a car length, before stopping. He backed up and started to make a U-turn.  His car was now sideways on Ocean Front Walk.

That’s when I felt it was safe enough, and rode up about five feet away, stopped my bike lengthwise along the passenger side of the car and waved my arms, yelling “No! No! You can’t drive here.  No cars!”  He asked where he was supposed to go.  I told him this was not a street, and pointed for him to drive alongside the condos at the end there and enter the alley.

Unfortunately, the confused driver still didn’t get it.

He slowly continued to make his U-turn, so I started doing the same thing again; parked in front of him with my bike, arms waving.  He pointed to the Boardwalk and asked me, “But I can go back this way?” So I said a THIRD time, “No cars! This is not a street. You could hurt someone!”

He finally ended up going where I told him and into the alley.

Disaster averted, if barely.

Overall, they didn’t drive very far on the Boardwalk. I think they entered from Rose, but there were still a lot of people there that could have gotten hurt. Especially toward the far end near Santa Monica where it gets real dark.

Next time I ride that way, I plan to stop and take a look at the entrance to the Boardwalk at Rose, and see if something needs to be done to keep clueless drivers off.

And say a little thanks that Kim was there that night to keep a minor incident from turning into something worse.

Update: Taco Tuesday cyclists cited for bad behavior; anti-bike DWP employee a fake

In a story that seemed important at the time, police responded to complaints about the popular Taco Tuesday ride in Playa del Rey Tuesday night.

Upwards of 100 — or maybe 200 — riders were reportedly engaging in drunken, unruly behavior at the intersection of Culver Blvd and Vista del Mar.

At least six riders were cited for various traffic infractions, while four others were ticketed for curfew violations; a white van accompanying the riders was impounded after stopping briefly in a tow-away zone.

However, despite numerous reports that the riders were intoxicated and drinking in public, no arrests were made for liquor violations or biking under the influence, which is illegal under California law.

In the end, it was nothing more than a bike ride that may have gotten out of hand. A few hundred — or maybe just a few out of a few hundred — engaged in exactly the kind of two-wheeled boorish behavior that gives every other cyclist a bad name. And encourages the sort of bike hatred we all face in online forums and on the streets.

But it was not the near traffic riot some might suggest.

However, if this comment from the Daily News story about the event really is from a city employee, it may not be bad behavior from cyclists that we have to worry about.

Michael Walter · Sr. Purchasing Clerk at Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power

Cyclists are highway vermin. Run ‘em down with your Hummer.

Surely a city employee isn’t dumb enough to post a threat — even one which he would undoubtedly claim to be a badly failed attempt at humor — under his own name and title.

Right?

Update: Good news. I just received a phone call from LAPD Sgt. David Krumer, who said he contacted DWP to followup on this comment, and was informed that no one by that name works for DWP and that position does not exist within the company. Evidently, someone with a grudge against DWP created the Michael Walter Facebook account and made the comment in order to make them look bad.

Somehow, it’s comforting to know that this is just the work of a random psycho, rather than a city employee.

……..

I’m told that charges have been filed against Glenn Michael Moore and Michael Dennis Roach, who were allegedly street racing on PCH when a collision sent Moore’s Accord sailing onto a nearby bike path, where it struck and critically injured cyclist Richard Lauwers.

Both are charged with a misdemeanor count of engaging in a speed contest; Moore is also charged with felony DUI causing great bodily injury and felony DUI with a BAC over .08% causing great bodily injury — despite the fact that the collision occurred around 8 am on a Sunday morning.

Fortunately, reports are that Lauwers has recovered from his injuries and continues to ride his bike.

……..

Late calendar additions:

Metro is holding a roundtable discussion to talk about operator training, bicycle outreach and education on Monday, August 22nd from 6 to 8 pm. Anyone whose ever been buzzed by a bus — which means just about every cyclist in L.A. — may want to attend.

The LACBC is co-sponsoring a bike tour of historic Glendale this weekend, and co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking in October. Meanwhile, the Coalition is forming a new West Hollywood affiliate chapter at 7 pm on Friday, August 19th at Poinsettia Park.

And C.I.C.L.E. and the Santa Monica Museum of Art co-host the Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts on Saturday, August 21 from noon to 7 pm; pre-registration is advised since it usually fills up.

……..

Bob Mionske says congratulations to Los Angeles for passing the first-of-its-kind anti-harassment ordinance. And in a must read, he looks at the tendency of police and the media to blame the victim in cycling collisions.

In one of the cases he mentions, anti-bike bias rears its ugly head as a Kelowna, British Columbia rider is blamed for riding too fast in a bike lane after she’s right hooked by a driver.

……..

In bike racing news, American racing prodigy Taylor Phinney loses 35 seconds to drop to 8th place in the Eneco Tour after holding the leader’s jersey; and no, I never heard of that race before this year, either. But I have heard of the Tour of the Netherlands.

Tour de France champ Cadel Evans heads a strong line-up for the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado later this month. SoCal Cycling looks at last weekend’s Brentwood Grand Prix (scroll down), as does the Claremont Cyclist. A Tahoe cyclist relates life as a Category 1 racer; how to make the jump from Cat 4 to Cat 3. And a 15-year old Manhattan Beach bicyclist is invited to train in Europe by USA Cycling.

……..

The city releases its first quarterly report on the Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT); thanks to George Wolfberg for forwarding the link. But when cyclists were offered a chance to set the BPIT agenda, only two people bothered to respond.

Even so, Bikeside insists there’s no way to achieve progress on implementing the bike plan, while Alex Thompson considers the whole thing a complete and utter failure.

Meanwhile, Santa Monica cyclists applaud the city’s newly unveiled bike plan, while the Santa Monica Spoke applauds the process and city staff behind it. The Spoke offers a link to the plan and an email address to offer comments, bikeplan@SMSpoke.org.

……..

Damien Newton blames the poor design of De Soto Ave for contributing to the death of Alex Romero by encouraging drivers to speed. L.A. attorney and cyclist Howard Krepack says it’s past time to invest in Safe Routes to Schools. The biking black hole of Beverly Hills bars transparency by banning search engines; what ever happened to the idea of open government? KPCC looks at how to start cycling in the city. Turns out triple bike racks on buses could be against the law. KCET asks if L.A. needs a bike share program. A memorial grows for Jeremy Perez, the 7-year old cyclist killed in Redondo Beach on Saturday. The West San Gabriel Valley Bicycle Coalition — an LACBC affiliate — is working to make Alhambra bike friendlier. The Claremont Cyclist reports on local riders behaving, in some cases very, badly.

A San Francisco pedestrian has died after being struck by a red light-running rider last month. No DUI charges in the death of a cyclist walking his bike on PCH in Ventura as prosecutors apparently misplace the blood alcohol results. Here’s your chance to go downhill in Death Valley. A state grant has been awarded to close a gap in a Thousand Oaks bike lane. A mountain biker is rescued after being injured on a Laguna wilderness trail. An arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of a Santa Cruz area cyclist; unlike the father of Dominique Rush in the Alex Romero case, the driver’s parents urged her to turn herself in and co-operated in the investigation. The owner of a Humboldt County trucking company clearly gets it in a look at the proposed three-foot passing law. San Francisco’s Rapha Cycle Club is a new kind of biker bar. A cyclist breaks into — not out of — Folsom prison. The Navy Seabee who saved the life of triathlete Jordon Rapp following a cycling collision last year receives a well-deserved honor for his efforts.

Broken Sidewalk looks at the problem of bicycle infrastructure designed by drivers — definitely worth reading. Transportation as a civil rights issue. The hidden perils of urban bike paths. Advice on how to wash your bike, and how to refresh your legs fast; personally, I use two hard boiled eggs and a café mocha — to bounce back, not wash. A Wisconsin rider says it’s time for all of us to take the pledge to make our streets a little safer, one driver and cyclist at a time. The Green Bay Packers are role models for cycling. Cyclists are rude, drivers are ruder. Rolling out the bike rides to commemorate 9/11. Bike lanes are used for everything but bikes. A well thought-out response to the typical complaint about cyclists not paying taxes. An Irish poet pedals across the U.S.

Tijuana sets the example in showing how bicyclists and motorists can co-exist peacefully. Building bike lanes pays dividends, despite perceptions of local merchants; meanwhile, Toronto’s mayor declares war on bikes. Bikes as looting lookouts and the subjects of violence on the streets of Hackney. The UK has seen a more than 10% jump in annual cycling casualties, defined as death or serious injury. Seeing Beijing in a whole new light after buying a bike.

Finally, a personal injury attorney with offices throughout L.A., O.C. and the Bay Area talks about L.A.’s new anti-harassment ordinance, and repeatedly insists there are only 13,000 cyclists in Los Angeles — missing the mark by roughly 587,000 monthly riders, according to estimates in the new bike plan.

And in the wake of the Dominique Rush case, a couple of readers remind us of another case where a father actively assisted in a cover-up after his son killed a cyclist; thanks to maggie and Jim Lucas for the heads-up.

Breaking news: Cyclist killed by SUV in Irvine Wednesday afternoon

According to the Daily Pilot, a 42-year old cyclist was killed while riding in Irvine this afternoon.

The collision occurred around 1 pm Wednesday on northbound Shady Canyon Drive south of Quail Hill Parkway when the rider, who has not been publicly identified, was struck from behind by a Mercedes SUV.

The Orange County Register reports that two other cyclists were performing CPR when authorities arrived; the rider was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Not surprisingly, the unidentified 35-year old driver and her infant passenger were uninjured.

The collision is still under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact Sgt. Dennis Maisano at 949-724-7023.

This is the 7th cycling fatality in Orange County this year, and 47th confirmed traffic-related fatality in Southern California.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the tip.

Update: The Contra Costs Times identifies the victim as Duane Parkinson of Irvine, a detective with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; he leaves behind a wife and three children.

Update 2: According to the Contra Costa Times, a co-worker says Parkinson may have fallen in front of the SUV that killed him; the 15-year veteran is described as someone who was loved by everyone.

“People say `oh he was a great guy,’ about someone but Duane was that really, really great guy,” said Sgt. Phill Dupper who started his career with Parkison at the county jail. “Everybody loved him. He treated everybody the same, from grounds keeper to council members. He loved being a detective, always smiling.”         

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