LACBC Planning Committee tonight, blaming OC biking victims & guilty of DUI but not killing cyclist

The LACBC’s Planning Committee will meet at 7 pm tonight at the Downtown Pitfire Pizza at 2nd and Main.

Tonight’s agenda will include a presentation by Alison Kendall of Kendall Planning + Design on the upcoming USC Campus Bike Plan, as well as a possible discussion of traffic calming efforts on Via del Monte in Palos Verdes Estates — which has already nearly taken the life of at least one cyclist.

You don’t have to be an LACBC member to participate. Just give a damn about safer, more livable streets.

……..

I honestly don’t know what to think about Orange County Register columnist David Whiting.

I mean, his heart seems to be in the right place. I think he genuinely cares about keeping cyclists safer and diffusing tensions on the road.

He just too often seems to go about it by blaming the victims.

For instance, he complains about perceived offenses such as riding two or more abreast, which, much to the surprise of many misinformed motorists — and law enforcement personnel — is not even mentioned in the California Vehicle Code. Let alone prohibited.

But then he follows it up with mostly well-reasoned advice from the Executive Director of the OC Bicycle Coalition. Though I’d take issue with the rationale behind this bit of advice, as well as the second suggestion.

Seven: Running stop signs

Running stop signs irritates drivers.

Smart: Respect stop signs and the right of way of vehicles. If a driver waves you through, stop and put your foot down to show that you “get it.” Most drivers are so amazed to see a bicyclist stop, they chill out for next rider they pass.

Yes, stopping at a stop sign is important, especially when there are other vehicles or pedestrians around. It’s one thing to carefully go through a stop after ensuring there’s no one else around; dangerous and foolish to do it when someone else has the right-of-way.

But intersections are risky enough without trying to unnecessarily complicate matters by insisting on stopping when someone else safely defers the right-of-way to you.

Then there’s his most recent column with comments from readers that include complaints against overly entitled riders and suggestions that bikes don’t belong on the road when there’s a perfectly good bike path nearby. Not to mention a former law enforcement officer who claims to have ticketed a rider for doing 41 mph in a school zone.

If I got a ticket for going that fast, I wouldn’t fight it.

I’d frame it.

But what ultimately puts me off Whiting’s writings is his frequent insistence on the old auto-centric fallacy that better behavior by cyclists will result in greater respect and courtesy from drivers.

It won’t. It doesn’t. And it never has.

Yes, you should always ride safely, and as legally and courteously as the situation allows — bearing in mind that it’s your life that’s on the line, and what’s legal isn’t always what’s safest.

But angry drivers don’t act that way because of anything you do or don’t do on the saddle. In reality, they’re usually upset by your simple presence on the road. Let alone the fact that you’re in front of them, which means a few seconds delay in their death-defying rush to wherever they’re going.

Telling cyclists not to make drivers mad is like telling a battered housewife to be more obedient so her husband won’t beat her anymore.

It’s long past time to stop blaming the victims.

Thanks to David M. Huntsman, Esq. for the links.

……..

Then again, a comment by a Streetsblog reader pretty well sums up the whole argument.

Yesterday I saw a bicyclist do [insert dangerous, stupid, inconsiderate, boneheaded move here] and it nearly inconvenienced me. This means all bikers better watch out because the responsible, productive, law-abiding members of this community aren’t going to tolerate this kind of anti-social behavior from you riffraff much longer.

Yesterday I saw a car driver do [insert dangerous, stupid, inconsiderate, boneheaded move here] and kill someone!  A tragedy, but it was an accident, no one’s fault really, just one of those bad parts of living in the modern age that we all have to put up with. After all, anyone can make a mistake. It would be a shame to even suspend the driver’s license over it because they really might need it to get to work. It certainly is no reflection on me or how most people drive.

……..

A Ramona driver is convicted of being under the influence of methamphetamine and driving under the influence when she killed a cyclist, followed by hitting a parked car, stop sign and a liquor store.

Yet according to the Ramona Sentinel, she wasn’t responsible for his death, because the cyclist was drunk when he was killed.

David Bruce Menea was riding with a BAC of .17 — over twice the legal limit — as well as riding without lights when he reportedly rode out in front of Suzanne Nicole Reed on September 11th of last year. Despite veering right to avoid him, Reed hit and killed Minea before crashing into the other objects.

She was sentenced to one year in jail, with all but 90 days suspended, as well as 5 years probation and fined 2008.

Now, if Whiting wants to complain about drunk cyclists riding without lights, I’m totally in his corner.

……..

A Mississippi Gulf-area judge shows that at least some jurists take drunk driving seriously, dishing out the sort of sentence Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines and underage drunk driver Jaclyn Garcia may have deserved, but could never have gotten here in the late, great Golden State.

Let alone drivers high on meth who kill other people.

Circuit Judge Roger Clark threw the book at convicted drunk driver Robin Lee Vo for critically injuring a cyclist while driving at over twice the legal limit — sentencing her to 20 years in prison, 10 years suspended, plus $400,000 restitution.

That’s 10 years in state prison, compared to one year apiece in the comparable California cases, and just 90 days for meth-driving Reed.

Are you listening, judges?

I don’t know a damn thing about Mississippi judge Roger Clark, but he’s got my support for any office he wants to run for.

……..

Not only do those damn cyclists back up L.A. traffic, but they actually seem to be enjoying themselves. L.A. endurance athlete and registered dietitian Matthew Ruscigno amusingly takes up cyclocross; maybe he’ll be at this weekend’s Santa Cross in Griffith Park. Flying Pigeon’s next Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place this Sunday, while Walk Bike Glendale will host a family-friendly holiday ride. Santa Monica Spoke invites everyone to the LACBC’s 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Merriment at the Library Alehouse on the 27th, and looks for volunteers for the bike valet. The Daily News finds flaws in L.A.’s new bike plan. The Hansen Dam bike path gets security upgrades after series of after dark assaults. The Port of Long Beach will approve the final environmental impact statement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge — including bike lanes. Ride with Alta Planning principal Mia Birk in Long Beach Thursday. Rancho Cucamonga cyclists and pedestrians now have their own bridge over freeway-like Foothill Blvd. How to repair your Joe Blow.

Holiday season riding means dodging crazed shoppers. The Senate considers an amendment that could improve safety for all road users, yet at the same time, considers banning cyclists from some roads on federal lands. Interestingly, the percentage of people who bike is pretty evenly distributed across all income levels. A graphic argument on how bikes can save us. A series of 60-second sprints could help control Type-2 Diabetes. Columbia MO allows parking in bike lanes, and a local bike advocate thinks that’s a good thing. Seriously? Advil promotes winter bike congestion relief in Chicago. A Wisconsin study shows transit costs $50 per year per household, while roadways cost $779. Turns out a Wisconsin town isn’t planning to ban bikes and pedestrians after all — but the scary thing is, they could. A leading bike safety advocate is killed when he’s run down from behind. A U.S. Representative keeps the pressure on following the deliberately botched investigation of a cycling fatality by tribal police on a New Mexico reservation. A cyclist is the latest injury in New York’s contested Prospect Park. A North Carolina driver claims she was blinded by the sun and sneezing when she ran over a cyclist; oh, well it’s okay then. North Carolina cyclists may be left out in the cold on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Louisiana authorities suspect alcohol use in the death of a 76-year old cyclist; the victim, not the driver. When it comes to traffic signals, Florida cyclists just want fair treatment.

A Canadian cyclist is nearly refused entry to this country because he didn’t have a helmet. The Department of DIY strikes in Toronto. An Ottawa cyclist files suit after an open manhole leaves him an incomplete quadriplegic. Evidently, English soccer fans — or at least Hotspur fans — are too dense to figure out the difference between Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy and Premier League referee Chris Foy. In the UK, they actually enforce speed limits on popular cycling routes; go figure, huh? What do Dutch expats miss more than bicycling? Herring. An Aussie driver goes on a crime spree after killing a cyclist. Long Beach’s biking expats take their Path Less Pedaled to New Zealand.

Finally, the rules of bicycle touring haven’t changed much in the last 128 years, as bad teeth was no barrier to enlistment in the bike corps, and even billionaire robber barons rode bikes.

And returning to this century, frame meister Dave Moulton offers 10 tips for driving around cyclists; don’t click the link unless you’re in the mood for the best laugh of the day.

Maybe David Whiting should read that before he writes his next column.

13 comments

  1. Biker395 says:

    Cyclists who regularly run stop signs are one of my pet peeves … and I know many other cyclists who feel the same way. The reasons for stopping are many:

    1. It’s foolish. If you look at most “accidents” you’ll see that they are usually the result of several mistakes, one chained with the other, and if any of those mistakes were to be reversed, you break the chain of causation and the “accident” doesn’t happen.

    People are human. They make mistakes. When you come to a 4-way stop, you’re expecting that the people coming the other way will stop. But if a motorist runs the stop sign (not all that uncommon) and doesn’t see you (very common) you run the stop sign and you don’t see them (a lot more common than most will admit), the result is death or serious injury. And for what?

    I’m an old fart. I’m not infallible. I make mistakes. I ride about 10,000 miles a year, and I don’t want one of my mistakes to kill me. And if someone else makes a mistake, I want a fighting chance to avoid a collision. That’s a big reason why I stop.

    2. It’s the law, and the law is there so all may share a common resource safely. Yes, I know that a bicycle is capable of inflicting much less damage than a motor vehicle. Yes, that is relevant. But no, it doesn’t excuse running stop signs.

    3. Running stop signs pisses motorists off, and whether it’s fair or not, it’s a fact, and it affects the reputation of all cyclists and how we are viewed by motorists.

    I don’t think we are any less immune to the kind of thinking we are talking about. I would tell you that among motorcyclists, I have a greater fear of crotch rockets than I do hogs or touring bikes. Is that fair? Perhaps not. But it’s based on my experience , or at least my perception of those experiences. Sometimes, perception IS reality.

    • bikinginla says:

      Let me make clear that I’m not in favor of running stop signs. But after 3-1/2 years of writing this blog, I’ve come to realize that a sizable percentage of cyclists are going to do it, regardless of what I may say on the subject.

      My personal approach is to brake to a near stop, check for traffic, and proceed only if I have the right-of-way. If not, I’ll come to a full stop and proceed when I do.

      However, I try to never clip out and put my foot down unless absolutely necessary. Experience has taught me that it’s sometimes necessary to move quickly to avoid dangerous situations, and it’s a lot easier to take evasive action if you don’t have one foot on the pavement.

      • Biker395 says:

        Sorry. I didn’t mean to infer that you were.

        I think that a lot of the friction between cyclists and motorists are rooted in misunderstanding and ignorance. For the most part, I think the ignorance is on the part of the motorists, because unlike us, they do not participate in both activities.

        Like a lot of us, I find myself often put in the role of a cycling ambassador, and get asked all sorts of cycling related questions. Yea, there are reasons we wear those funny black shorts, why we might ride to the far left part of a marked bike lane, why we don’t generally ride on sidewalks, etc.

        And I’m more than happy to answer all those questions.

        But the question I get asked again and again is “Why don’t cyclists stop at stop signs?” And for that, I really have no good answer. I remind them that laws are generally not directed against protecting us from ourselves, but rather, from others, and a cyclist running a stop sign is far more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else. A 200 pound cyclist is a lot less to worry about than a 4000 pound automobile.

        But we certainly have the reputation for running stop signs, and based on my experience, that reputation is well-deserved. And it does affect our reputation in other respects.

        I’m not at all suggesting there is a need to clip out and put a foot down on the pavement (although I do that when I want to make it clear to a motorist that I am stopping and will not proceed until after they do). I mean … I’ll agree to do that when motorists do (lol), but I don’t think that is necessary.

        I guess the point, is that like it or not, we are all ambassadors for the [sport, transportation, lifestyle ... take your choice] we participate in. And what we do reflects on others and what they can expect from motorists. Lets be good ambassadors.

        I recall one of your recent entries where you had several positive interactions with motorists. Simply a matter of courtesy, but it really goes a long way, and that is the way it should be. It probably won’t make any difference to people like Ms. Escalade, but that kind of ambassadorship adds up.

  2. Hi, I agree that better behavior by cyclists doesn’t necessarily mean more respect from drivers and there may not be any causal relationship between the two. At the same time, bad behavior by cyclists become an excuse for drivers to demand that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road. I suggest obeying the laws as they stand (as stupid as the laws may be) until we change the laws so that drivers have fewer excuses. (And yes, I know that most drivers and many in law enforcement don’t know the laws.)

    Also, I don’t necessarily mean obey the laws to the absolute letter of the law, as Mr. Whiting suggests. I agree with your obeying the intent of the law that many people will view as compliance.

    Finally, bad behavior by cyclists endangers cyclists who do things like stopping at red lights. I can’t tell you how many near misses I’ve had with other cyclists who had no intent on stopping at a red light and came screaming past me just as the light changed and just as I started rolling. That’s just one bad behavior example.

  3. BikingBrian says:

    I agree with your assessment of David Whiting’s columns. I do think his heart is in the right place, but almost every column he writes makes things worse for cyclists. Usually it’s by making cycling seem more dangerous than it actually is, scaring away would-be cyclists and/or marginalizing current cyclists as a bunch of extreme risk takers. Don’t get me wrong, we need to improve on the current safety record, as any cycling death is one death too many. But simply stating there’s “X” number of cycling deaths per month without putting into perspective with the total number of miles/hours cycled does no one any good. Maybe he should write about automobile deaths using the same approach, that will clear the streets of traffic. :-)

    The main problem with his “Bicyclists’ behavior endangers everyone” column is that he blurs the distinction between cycling behaviors which are a safety issue (such as swerving) versus those that are not a safety issue but a delay issue (two abreast). That lack of distinction plays into the hands of motorists who claim that their safety was in jeopardy because they had to slow down for a cyclist for any reason.

    Regarding the single file issue, there’s certainly merit in singling up when it makes it easier for motorists to pass safely. (By the way, that photo of cyclists two abreast on Modjeska Grade Road is a cheap shot, because it’s a low speed, low traffic volume road, where it would be easy to single up when hearing a motorist approaching.) But let’s face it, there’s some situations such as PCH in Laguna Beach where the single or double file issue is moot, because in either case a motorist would have to use the adjacent lane to safely pass. Whiting’s advocacy of single file cycling under all circumstances is simply pandering to the motoring majority, which will backfire in the long run since it reinforces current misconceptions of the law as it applies to cyclists.

  4. [...] to write about my views on David Whiting’s cycling columns in the Orange County Register. But BikingInLA beat me to it. So I’ll just share the comment I left on his blog: I agree with your assessment of David [...]

  5. On the subtopic of riding two abreast, I’ve noticed that in Marina Del Rey on Fiji Way leading to and from the entrance to the Ballona Creek Bikeway is painted with “Ride Single File.” I’m curious what specific CVC section any officers would use in citing riders who fail to do so (such as the two pictured in this Google Streetview of Fiji Way as they ride over the words: http://tinyurl.com/7w7as8k)?

    • That’s a very good question, Will. I wonder if the city sought the advice of counsel before it put down markings which may, in fact, endanger a cyclist being passed by a motorist in a narrow right lane.

    • bikinginla says:

      Now that’s funny, Will. Nice catch to find that restriction being willfully violated by such obvious scofflaws.

      It would be interesting to know if anyone has been cited for violating that. As often as I’ve ridden that way, I’ve never seen a cyclist get a ticket there. My guess is that they would try to justify the restriction under CVC 21202, misapplying the statue like the CHP sometimes does to say the outside rider isn’t riding as close as practicable to the curb. But maybe they have enough sense to know it’s not enforceable.

      My argument would be “But officer, I couldn’t ride any closer to the curb — there was someone else there already!”

      I need to correct David on one small point that he wouldn’t know from down there in OC, but that section of roadway is controlled by the county, not the city. And of course, being the county, it’s highly unlikely they sought counsel from anyone.

    • Eric B says:

      I participate in the group ride that goes through there on weekday mornings. We’ve had run-ins with Sheriff deputies in that segment consisting of them ineffectually shouting on their loudspeakers while 100 bicyclists ride along in the right lane. As far as I understand it, one of the superior officers based out of Marina Del Rey is a cyclist and has informed the deputies that it’s unenforceable. Who knows if there is any truth to that rumor.

      The markings date from the 1970s-era bike plan as part of the Marvin Braude Bike Path from the South Bay to Pacific Palisades. It’s a short on-street segment between the Ballona Creek jetty and a winding path through the Marina. Maybe getting those signs and markings removed should be included in the new County bike plan.

      • Eric, that’s a good idea (removing the markings). I remember riding there a lot in the eighties, but I don’t remember the markings. But my riding was always in a small group.

        This is one of those situations that seems pretty innocuous but in reality has great negative consequences: (1) The lane markings could actually pose a hazard if they create a situation where cyclists ride single-file and invite a car to unsafely pass; (2) The Sheriff’s deputies see the markings, assume they are lawful, and assume they are giving a lawful order by telling cyclists to ride single-file when, in fact, they are harassing lawfully progressing travelers on the road (and by doing so are likely to cause the cyclists to crash); and (3) any bystander witnessing this assumes cyclists are violating a law and disobeying a lawful order from a police officer.

  6. Mike says:

    Interesting story on the Eastsider blog, with a huge number of comments, concerning a proposal to put Rowena on a “road diet” between Glendale and Hyperion — http://www.theeastsiderla.com/2011/12/silver-lake-road-diet-would-trim-traffic-lanes-instead-of-carbs/#more-27631 .

    “The idea behind a slimmer, trimmer Rowena between Glendale Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue is to reduce speeding traffic and create a safer and more attractive environment for pedestrians and cyclists, according to proponents of the road diet.”

  7. Richard says:

    Please allow me to respond to this:
    “But intersections are risky enough without trying to unnecessarily complicate matters by insisting on stopping when someone else safely defers the right-of-way to you.”

    As an almost-daily commuter, I fully understand the inconvenience of coming to a complete stop on a human-powered vehicle.

    But an intersection is only risky when someone doesn’t follow the law.

    If it’s a red light or a stop sign I will stop, whether I’m cycling or driving.

    I do it because I want to show drivers that I’m traffic too, that I understand and respect the laws, and that I require the same of them.

    Those cyclists who advocate double standards for bikes often express disappointment when those double standards don’t favor cyclists.

    Let’s just end the double standards altogether. If we want drivers to be accountable, we must be equally accountable.

    Know the laws, respect the laws, and require everyone sharing the road to do the same, regardless which mode of transportation they may be using at the time.

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