Archive for January 31, 2012

Main Street road diet brings joy to Venice cyclists; a road rage finger and a shipload of links

This is what the new bike lanes on Main Streets looked like on Thursday.

Those of us who ride near the coast are celebrating the long awaited arrival of the Main Street road diet in Venice.

After winning approval from the local Neighborhood Council, hopes were high that the bike lanes would be installed by the end of the year. While that didn’t happen, work finally began the weekend before last — only to be halted due to the recent storm.

And leaving barely sketched out lane lines that seemed to confuse almost everyone, as I watched driver after driver try to squeeze into the narrow soon-to-be bike lane.

Even though it lacked the bike markings, you’d think drivers would realize that a lane narrower than their cars probably wasn’t meant for them. Then again, that’s assuming most drivers think behind the wheel, which may be a stretch.

But this past weekend, it finally became a reality.

And frequent contributor Eric Weinstein — excuse me, Eric “lets extend the Main St. bike lanes” Weinstein, as he signed his email — could barely restrain his excitement.

The Main Street bike lanes in Venice are here!

Katarina, on her electric bike, and I went for a bicycle ride and victory lap, up and down the freshly painted Venice Main Street Bike lanes on Sunday. They came out pretty good after all this time. It was perfect weather and there were already lots of other cyclists.

These lanes appear to be a bit wider than the Santa Monica section. There’s less chance of being doored with a space on the right of the lane for much of the route. And the car traffic seemed calmed by the lane re-configuration. There’s a section Northbound from the kicking clown to the Santa Monica border which has long had lane confusion, with awkward last second merges into the left lane. That’s completely fixed and is much safer and smoother now. The South end of the bike

lane is at the Windward Circle allowing a easy merge around the circle. Connecting to Abbot Kinney’s sharrows is easy too, making a good route over to Venice Blvd.’s bike lanes to Culver City and even Downtown LA.

This is great new place for bicyclists. Now there’s safe, easy route from downtown Santa Monica to the Windward Circle. These are the best places near the beach to visit by bicycle. And the new lanes make this an easy trip on flat ground that anyone can pedal. Merchants near Main St. should now be asking LADOT for more bike racks in front of their stores to bring in these new customers (www.bicyclela.org/RackRequest.htm). We should all be taking this route for a test spin on the next sunny day.

Like all things there’s room for small improvement, which will make a big difference. The one I’d really like so see would be some wayfinding signage. One or two signs at the south terminus

pointing to the beach path and the alternate route avoiding Washington Blvd. to the Marina Del Rey section of the path. And put a few signs on Ocean Ave. and Venice Blvd. pointing toward the new lanes on Main Street. Showing the connections to the bike lane will really help increase it’s usability.

These bike lane projects take a massive effort by many, many people to see anything appear on the ground. A big tailwind on their next ride to LADOT and Michelle Mowery’s group for initiating this great connecting route. Not the mention engineering, presenting and constructing it. Also to the Venice Neighborhood Council for voting to proving a safer place for cyclists in the community. And Bill Rosendahl’s office for getting the plans approved by all concerned. And a really big kudos to all the SPOKE and LACBC people who advocated for this, especially our Bicycle Advisory Committee representative Kent Strumpel.

……..

The latest trend seems to be automotive greenwashing support of bikes, as Volkswagen begins a two-year relationship with Bikes Belong, and Fiat wants to clear the air to improve relations between cyclists and motorists.

Of course, that’s after the League of American Bicyclists partnered with AAA, even though the SoCal version of the auto club was one of the prime opponents of California’s proposed three-foot passing law.

Speaking of the bike league, they report that bike and pedestrian funding is once again under attack in the Tea Part-addled House.

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It may be in broken English — the original is in Swedish — but a Stockholm cyclist complains about news reports that never fail to blame cyclists but never seem to blame drivers. Instead, it always seems to be driverless cars that bump into other people and vehicles.

I’ve complained about the same thing on here more than once.  Then again, if you subscribe to my Twitter account, I’ve probably complained about it ad naseum.

But it’s interesting to see it’s not just an American phenomenon.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

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L.A. Live is getting more bike parking. A review of a 32-mile ride through the Westside guided by Bike and Hikes LA. If you liked last November’s CicLAvia, you’ll love the next one on April 15th on the same route. Glendale is reaching out to local residents to support a road diet of their own. Baldwin Park wants more bicycle-friendly streets. The Culver City Bicycle Coalition will host a fundraiser the day after Valentines Day at Joxer Daly’s on Washington Blvd. Better Bike recaps the recent Beverly Hills Bike Plan Update Committee meeting to discuss proposed — and rapidly shrinking — bike lanes and bike racks both current and planned; and he’s right, if the meetings weren’t the same night as the LACBC board meeting, I’d be there. Venice may have new bike lanes on Main Street, but Pink and baby prefer the bike path. The Time is running out to become Streetsblog’s new Santa Monica correspondent. A Santa Monica bike company based on a made up bike team based on a real beer-drinking Belgium racer. Rick Risemberg meets a man on an 85-year old bike; he also finds a bike/ped bridge in Whittier, but no signage that says how to get there. Some schmuck stole a 86-year old WWII vet’s bike in La Habra. San Diego gets buffered bike lanes.

View the trailer for the upcoming bike movie Peloton. Bicycling interviews rising BMC star Tejay van Garderen. Drivers like to complain about red light running cyclists, but it’s the cyclists and pedestrians whose lives are endangered by the scofflaws on four wheels. After two years of bike commuting, an Arizona cyclist has to get new clothes. Washington’s House passes legislation to slow some speed limits to 20 mph. Evidently, Springfield Cyclist hates SUVS as much as I do; or almost, anyway. A Texas cyclist is collateral damage when a drunk driver flips his truck, killing his two passengers as well. Is someone stealing and selling ghost bikes in the Big Apple? The captain of the Appalachian State University bike team is injured when his wheel hits a pit bull. LeBron bikes to work.

Grist offers 10 lessons from the world’s great bike cities. A Calgary columnist says just say no to bike share. After his bike is stolen, a UK youth gets it back through Facebook for £50 — about $78 bucks. A driver is fined a whopping £25 after being caught on video verbally abusing a cyclist. A London councilor says four cyclists have died within a two-minute walk of his home in the last two years; a very lucky cyclist could have added to the toll. Yet another delay in the Contador doping case. Aussie cricketer Shane Warne is being sued by the cyclist he apparently slandered — and hit.

Finally, when a group of teenagers tried to rob a 65-year old Pennsylvania cyclist, he pulled out a gun and fired, killing one and injuring another. Now friends of the victim speak out in support of his friends and family. Thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up.

And this is what a road raging driver looks like after threatening to run me off the road the next time I get in front of him — even though I was doing 20 in a 20 mph zone on the VA grounds when he Jerry Browned me for no apparent reason.

Breaking news — Dominique and Stephen Rush accept a plea deal in hit-and-run death of Alex Romero

Big news on the legal front.

According to courtroom reports from cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, Dominique Rush, the driver charged with the hit-and-run death of 17-year old cyclist Alex Romero, will spend the next few years behind bars.

Wheels, who was in the courtroom for today’s preliminary hearing, reports the 23-year old Rush entered a plea of No Contest to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run.

Her father, Steven Rush, also entered a plea of No Contest to being an accessory after the fact for his efforts in helping his daughter cover-up her crime.

Romero was riding north along De Soto Avenue with a friend on the night of April 20th when he was struck by a speeding car near the intersection with Valerio Street. The driver, later identified as Rush, reportedly tried to pass another vehicle on the right, striking Romero’s bike from behind and killing him instantly before speeding off without stopping or slowing down.

That began a months-long investigation in which the police soon identified Rush as the suspect, but were unable to find the 2003 Toyota Corolla she’d been driving at the time.

According to the police, that difficulty was due, at least in part, to her father’s efforts. As KNBC-4 reported at the time of the arrest,

“The father went way beyond taking care of his child,” said Capt. Ivan Minsal of LAPD Valley Traffic Division. “He concealed the information. He concealed the car that his daughter, the driver, was driving.”

Now they’ll both have to pay for their crimes.

Wheels reports that Dominique will be sentenced to two years and eight months in prison on March 6th, while her father will receive 10 days in jail, along with 30 days on a Caltrans road crew.

I hope he works on a roadway where he’ll have to watch a lot of cyclists go by.

And yes, that sentence is a relative slap on the wrist for running down another human being and leaving him to die in the street where he fell. Maybe someday someone can explain to me how anyone could do that to another person.

Anyone with a heart, anyway.

But it may be the best prosecutors could do under the circumstances.

The fact is, this is one case the police didn’t give up on. Maybe it was pressure from the cycling community. Or maybe it was dedication to their jobs, and a commitment to keep going until they had the guilty party behind bars.

The LAPD investigators in charge of this case kept at it long after they could have given up and pushed it off the back burner. And long after many of us had given up on this case.

That they didn’t says a lot about them.

And the gratitude we all owe them on Alex’ behalf.

Wheels reports that his aunt Matilda addressed the court, saying Alex was a precious gift from God, and asking Dominique to repent. He says Dominique cried during the aunt’s comments, while Steven was tearful but composed.

I’m sure they’ll shed more tears in the days and years to come.

But it won’t begin to compare with the tears that have already been shed by Romero’s family and friends.

……..

A couple other notes from Dj Wheels.

He reports that Jeffrey Ray Adams, the road raging driver charged with intentionally cutting off a cyclist in Santa Monica — then ranting about it as the camera rolled — had a preliminary hearing last Friday. The court found there was enough evidence to take the case before a jury; he’ll have a felony arraignment in a couple of weeks.

And a restitution hearing was held Tuesday in the case of Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, the underage driver charged with nearly killing cyclist Adam Rybicki last April when she collided with a group of Sunday morning riders while still drunk from the night before.

She may have gotten off with a slap on the wrist at her sentencing. But the judge lowered the boom in assigning restitution, ordering Garcia to pay $16,162,239.24.

Yes, that’s 16 million, one-hundred-sixty-two-thousand, two-hundred-thirty-nine dollars. And twenty-four cents change.

On top of that, she was ordered to pay 10% annual interest until the amount is paid in full.

Although I suspect they might be willing to write off that last 24 cents.

Which means that unless she’s phenomenally successful, Garcia will likely be working for the Rybickis for the remainder of her life. And that is a heavy price to pay for a night of youthful stupidity.

Yet it doesn’t begin to make up for what Garcia has put Adam Rybicki and his family through.

Speaking of Adam, Jim Lyle sends word that he continues to make slow, steady progress in recovery from his injuries. And that he’s back on a bike — even if it is a stationary bike in rehab.

That’s a lot more than most of us would have expected — or even dared to hope — just nine months ago. He’s clearly one tough, determined guy, with a support circle that refuses to give up.

I hope you’ll join me in offering my best wishes and prayers for Adam and his family for a full recovery. 

More bad news from Orange County, as Santa Ana hit-and-run victim died last weekend

Somehow, another one went under the radar.

Last Friday, news broke that an unidentified cyclist was severely injured in a Santa Ana hit-and-run. Unfortunately, he died from his injuries on Saturday — barely meriting two paragraphs in the Orange County Register.

No wonder I missed it.

The victim was riding on the 100 block of South Broadway when he was hit by a pickup around 6:45 pm Friday; paramedics found him lying unconscious in the roadway. The rider, identified today as 39-year old Elfego Lozano-Nicolas, was in critical condition when he was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he died the next day from blunt-force head trauma.

The Register reports that the driver left before police arrived. Reading between the lines, it sounds like he may have stopped briefly before fleeing the scene — particularly since police have a detailed description of the truck.

Authorities described the vehicle as a white pickup, possibly a Toyota Tundra, with a ladder rack and ladders on top, as well as blue lettering running on the length of the truck. The pickup is missing a hubcap, which was left at the scene of the traffic accident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Santa Ana police at 714/245-8701

This is the fifth cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Orange County this year, following 13 last year. It’s also the second bike death in Santa Ana since last June.

Thanks to Louis for the heads-up.

Innovative insights to prevent bike theft, DUI hit-and-run fire captain found drunk behind bars

There’s no shortage of advice on how to keep your bike from being stolen.

But it’s rare that someone offers insight that goes much beyond using a U-lock, locking your rear triangle or parking in a public place where your bike can be seen.

That’s why I was surprised when I was forwarded an email written by cyclist and former LAPD officer Craig White.

In it, White was responding to a recent rash of bikes stolen from garages on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. And offering advice that goes far beyond anything I’ve encountered before.

For instance, he points out that many roll-up garage doors have windows at the top. The middle window can be punched out, providing easy access to the door mechanism and allowing thieves to reach inside and release the door so it can be pulled up. And then they’re free to walk right in — and right out with your bike.

The solution? Simply use a zip tie to secure the door mechanism so it can’t be pulled down and released.

Another prevention tool he suggests is to get an inexpensive hotel door alarm that alerts you if someone tries to enter your room. And hang it on an inconspicuous place on your bike, so it will sound if someone tries to move it, alerting you and possibly scaring the thief away.

It’s a cheap enough solution that I intend to get one and carry it with me for when I have to lock up my bike.

And of course, using a cable lock to secure your bike even when you park it inside.

After all, every extra bit of security helps.

Then there’s the question of how thieves know which bikes to steal, and which homes have bikes worth stealing.

White points the finger at the Garmin on your handlebars. He’s heard reports that thieves can track your GPS signal when they spot you riding and follow that signal to your home. Or hack your Stava or Garmin account to figure out where you live.

Likely? Maybe not.

Possible? Absolutely.

The simple solution is to make sure the info on your accounts is not public.

He also adds a suggestion I’ve made a number of times. Make sure you’ve recorded your serial number in a secure place — and keep a current photo of your bike the way it looks now, especially if you’ve made any changes recently.

And I’d take if a step further by encouraging you to register your bike. Bike Shepherd offers free lifetime registration, with tamperproof ID stickers available at REI for just $15.

Or you could just do what I’ve done for the last few decades, by keeping your bike securely inside your home — not your garage — when you’re not riding. And always keeping it within reach when you are.

Of course, that’s not always practical if you’re using your bike for transportation.

Which is why I now own a U-lock the size of a small SUV.

Thanks to my friends at GEKLaw for the heads-up.

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Now this is just sad. If not pathetic.

Not too long ago, we were criticizing the apparent slap on the wrist given former Long Beach fire caption John David Hines.

Now it’s looking like he is a very sick man. And on his way to a long stint in state prison.

As you may recall, Hines was convicted for the drunken hit-and-run that severely injured cyclist Jeffrey Gordon in Seal Beach last April 1st, after spending the entire morning drinking in a Long Beach bar. He was arrested after witnesses followed him to his home, where police found him wearing urine-soaked pants, with a blood alcohol level of .24 — two hours after he left the bar.

Yet despite pleading guilty to driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury, he received just one year in the relatively plush pay-to-stay city jail in Huntington Beach.

A jail that actually lied — repeatedly — about his presence when our anonymous source called to confirm that he was staying there, I might add.

The judge suspended a much tougher sentence of five in state prison on the condition that Hines keep his nose clean.

He didn’t.

Last week, his jailers noticed Hines wobbling. And discovered he had a BAC of .22 — behind bars. And that he got the booze by filtering liquid hand sanitizer through salt to filter out the alcohol.

Now there’s a party trick for you.

And that was after a stint in rehab.

He’s now locked up in county jail, pending a probation hearing scheduled for March 16th.

That anonymous source also reports that Hines EMT certification has been revoked, along with his ambulance driver’s certificate. And his Class C driver’s license has been suspended until at least April.

It’s not often that I pity a drunk driver. Especially not one who sped off and left innocent victim — the kind he devoted his career to saving — bleeding in the street.

But Hines’s clearly has a serious problem.

Yes, he deserves prison. But he also needs help.

Desperately.

Thanks to Jim Lyle for the tip.

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What should we think about an unarmed man getting shot by Sheriff’s deputies after getting stopped while riding his bike?

Deputies initially attempted to stop 26-year old Christian Cobian for not having a headlight on his bike late Saturday night. He reported responded by dropping his bike and running, then was shot when he reportedly reached into his waistband, making the pursuing officers think he was reaching for a gun.

Maybe it happened exactly that way.

On the other hand, police often have more important things to do than pull over a cyclist for a simple light violation. Which is not to say they never do, but more likely, it was a pretense to stop someone they thought looked suspicious, just as police may pull over a car with a broken tail light as an excuse to look inside.

Or the way some LAPD divisions reportedly used the now repealed bike licensing law as an excuse to stop — some would say harass — bike riders.

The minor traffic violation gives them probable cause to make a traffic stop.

The question is, why did he run?

Most likely, it was because there was a felony narcotics warrant for his arrest. It’s also possible that he might have been holding, though authorities haven’t mentioned any drugs being found on his body or in the immediate area.

And unless they happened to recognize him — which no one has mentioned up to this point — police had no way of knowing he was wanted. Or that he had a record and was on probation for receiving stolen property.

Then there’s the question of why an officer would shoot simply because a suspect reached towards his waist, without determining what he was reaching for first.

Given the current low hung fashions, it’s entirely possible he was just trying to keep his pants from falling down while he ran.

I’m not one to be overly critical of the decisions police have to make in the heat of the moment. Things happen fast, and officers have to make split second decisions that others have the luxury of endlessly analyzing after the fact.

But this one raises a lot of questions.

One of which is whether this should be included in the list of cycling fatalities. My gut reaction is to say no.

Anyone disagree?

Thanks to Erik for the link to the Weekly article.

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A study from the Los Angeles County Department of Health shows it will take $40 billion dollars to make the six county region represented by the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG) safe for cyclists and pedestrians over the next 25 years. The current budget allocates $6 billion — just 1.1% of the total $524.7 billion budget — for biking and walking projects, despite the fact that non-motorized transportation makes up 21% of all trips and 25% of the fatalities in the region.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Biking and Walking has released their new study Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report. Despite a long-held myth that no one walks in L.A., Los Angeles ranks 20th on list of biking and walking cities, and 26th for bike/ped fatalities; California as a whole ranks 19th and 32nd, respectively.

L.A. County takes a tentative first step in fighting the unacceptably high rate of obesity by requiring wider sidewalks and bike parking, while studying other ways to make the county more friendly for the non-motorized.

And Dave Moulton points out the relationship between food diets and road diets.

……..

A couple other quick notes —

Steve Herbert reminds us that new LACBC board member Herbie Huff is a Hollywood star, or Westwood, anyway. Roadblock rides in the King Day parade. Great photos from the recent cyclocross state championships. Maybe women are the real riding experts. Our friend Zeke sends word that Western North Carolina bicyclists are on their way to a new regional bike plan — even if they are dramatically underfunded, like cyclists everywhere. May 9th will mark the first ever National Bike to School Day.

And finally, a Turlock man celebrates his 8oth birthday by riding 103.5 miles.

Seriously, I want to be just like him when I grow up.

BOLO Alert: LAPD looking for hit-and-run driver who seriously injured cyclist in West L.A.

I just received an email from LAPD Sgt. David Krumer asking cyclists to be on the lookout for a speeding hit-and-run and run driver, who fled the scene of a serious collision last month, and left a cyclist with life-altering injuries.

The victim of a hit and run (car vs bicycle) on December 13, 2011 (case #110 718 955) as riding southbound on Curson crossing Pico with a fully green light. He was hit by a car traveling westbound on Pico at 40 to 50 miles an hour. He was thrown across the intersection and suffered broken bones in the hand and wrist as well as a fractured tibia and a torn PCL in the knee. The driver never braked or turned away. The injuries sustained are life changing and have confined the victim to a wheelchair for at least a few more months.

SUSPECT VEHICLE: 2007 Mercedes CL 550, 2Dr, CP, dark gray, California Lic Plate 6EGY041

SUSPECT: Male Black, Short Black Hair, late 20′s

Anyone having information about the driver of suspect vehicle, or was a witness to the accident is asked to contact the Los Angeles Police Department West Traffic Division, Investigator Fischer at:

4849 W. Venice Blvd. LA 90019, Phone number (213) 473-0229 or
West Traffic Division Watch Commander, Phone No. (213) 473-0222

Let’s keep our eyes open and catch this son of a bitch before he kills someone.

Analyzing 2011 SoCal cycling fatalities: Los Angeles — and door zones — may be safer than you think

Earlier this month, we remembered the people behind the statistics, the victims of cycling collisions on Southern California streets.

Now lets take a look at the numbers. And some of the surprising findings those statistics reveal — including some that suggest Los Angeles could be your safest place to ride. And that the door zone may be a hell of a lot safer than we all think.

But first, a couple of big important disclaimers.

These stats are based strictly on the fatalities that I am aware of, whether they have been reported in the press or have come to my attention in other ways. It is entirely possible that there were other bicycling-related deaths that I don’t know about.

These numbers also do not include non-fatal collisions. It’s possible that any given area could have had a high rate of injury collisions while having few or no fatalities. Or that one risk factor may result in a high rate of fatalities but few injuries — or the other way around.

The limited data I have to work with simply doesn’t show that.

Nor does it suggest why one area may appear to be more dangerous than another, even though I may make a guess at it.

And with that, let’s get on with it.

By my count, 71 cyclists were killed in traffic-related collisions in Southern California last year. That does not include another nine riders who were fatally shot — eight in Los Angeles County and one in San Diego.

Those 71 fatalities represent a dramatic increase over most recent years on record, with 55 cyclists killed in both 2008 and 2009. In addition, it’s slightly more than the five-year average from 2005 to 2009, at just over 68 traffic-relating cycling fatalities per year.

It also marks a return to the roadway carnage of 2005 and 2006, when 76 and 89 riders were killed, respectively.

Fatalities by county: 2011       2009*       2006**     Ave. 2005 – 2009

Los Angeles                24           22             24           24.2

Orange                       13           11             21           13

San Diego                   12           8               5             8

Riverside                     11           7              14            10

San Bernardino            6            4              11            7.4

Ventura                       4            2              11            4.6

Santa Barbara***        1            1               3             1.8

Imperial                       0            1               0             .4

As you can see, Los Angeles County has remained remarkably steady despite a dramatic increase in ridership, with an average of two riders killed per month. At the same time, while Orange County has dropped significantly from the horrors of 2006, it continues to reflect an average of more than one cyclist killed every month.

Meanwhile, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties all showed a 50% increase over 2009, though both Ventura and San Bernardino were still below their five-year averages.

At first glance, it would appear that Los Angeles County is by far the most dangerous place to ride in Southern California. However, L.A. is also the most populous of the eight counties included in this count.

Ranking the counties in terms of risk of death per capita reveals some surprises, with the eight counties ranked from worst to best:

County                    Population               Rate of death

Riverside                  2,100,516               1 death per 190,956 population

Ventura                   797,740                  1 per 199,435

Orange                    3,010,759               1 per 231,597

San Diego                3,001,072               1 per 250,089

San Bernardino        2,015,355               1 per 335,893

Santa Barbara***    405,396                  1 per 405,396

Los Angeles              9,862,049              1 per 410,919

Imperial                  174,528                   0 per 174,528

Unfortunately, there’s no objective measure of how many people ride bikes in each county. But surprisingly, these stats suggest that heavily congested L.A. County may actually be twice as safe as other heavily populated counties.

Those fatalities occurred in 53 cities and unincorporated areas throughout the region, with eight cities suffering more than one fatality last year:

San Diego   7

Los Angeles  5

Long Beach  4

Garden Grove  2

Redondo Beach  2

Pasadena  2

Riverside  2

Oceanside  2

Again, using the measurement of deaths per population reveals some very surprising results:

City                               Population                 Rate of death

Redondo Beach              66,748                      1 per 33,374

Pasadena                       137,122                    1 per 68,562

Oceanside                      167,086                    1 per 83,543

Garden Grove                 170,883                    1 per 85,441

Long Beach                    462,257                    1 per 115,564

Riverside                        303,871                    1 per 151,936

San Diego                      1,301,617                 1 per 185,945

Los Angeles                    3,792,621                 1 per 758,524

While multiple deaths in smaller cities may raise a red flag, they don’t really tell us much. Two deaths apiece in each in the first four cities could be a statistical fluke; just one more in any of the other 45 cities not listed here, and they could have made this list, as well.

It’s also worth noting that some of these cities, such as Oceanside and Redondo Beach, are destination areas for cyclists, with a level of weekend ridership that can far exceed their relatively small populations as cyclists pass through from other areas.

More interesting is the fact that the City of Angels, with it’s long-held reputation for car culture, bad streets and open hostility to cyclists, has significantly fewer fatalities per capita than Riverside and San Diego. Combined.

And at least in terms of fatalities, Los Angeles is over six times safer than bike-friendly Long Beach.

That could reflect any number of factors, from the possibility of better trauma care and emergency response times in L.A., to more dangerous streets in Long Beach — including Los Coyotes and PCH — that have yet to see the improvements that have made biking safer in other areas of the city.

But it’s shocking to think that you may actually be safer riding your bike in bike-unfriendly L.A. than the streets of the self-proclaimed most bicycle friendly city in America.

Then again, the real shocker is that L.A. could a hell of a lot safer than most of us thought.

Myself included.

Now let’s look at some equally surprising stats on how these collisions occurred.

Again, bear in mind that most of this information has been gleaned from media reports; in some cases, they offer a detailed analysis of the collision, and in others, barely mention anything more than the fact that it occurred.

We’ll start with the question of who was at fault.

  • Driver:  32
  • Cyclist:  28****
  • Unknown or both:  11

This is my own analysis of the collision, based on the limited information I have; it does not necessarily reflect how the police, sheriff’s or CHP may have assigned fault.

Especially since many investigative officers tend to be poorly trained in bike collision analysis and investigation, and often appear to be biased in favor of the motorist.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, I assigned hit-and-runs to the fault of the driver, on the assumption that an innocent person has little motive to flee — while recognizing that is not always true.

I have also assigned fault for solo collisions and riders hit by trains to the cyclist. Even though it’s possible that other factors, such as near misses by motorists or poor road conditions, may have contributed to the death in some way.

These numbers also err on the low side, reflecting only the information I have been able to document; in many cases, there was not enough information to make a determination.

And there may be multiple factors involved in any given collision, so these won’t add up to a total of 71.

So let’s look at some of the other numbers.

  • At least 25 riders were hit from behind — by far the leading cause of cycling fatalities in 2010
  • At least 13 were hit-and-runs
  • At least 12 were hit at intersections or driveways
  • At least 10 involved drugs or alcohol — and not always on the part of the driver
  • At least eight were hit while riding on or leaving a sidewalk
  • At least seven were hit head-on, usually while riding on the wrong side of the street
  • Seven were solo collisions
  • Seven victims were over the age of 70
  • At least six were killed after running stop signs
  • At least six were killed while riding in a marked bike lane or off-road bike path
  • At least six were killed in right hook collisions
  • Six 12 years old or younger
  • Another five were between the ages of 15 and 17
  • At least four weren’t using lights after dark
  • Three were killed by trains
  • Three were killed by out of control vehicles
  • At least two were killed by drivers running red lights or stop signs
  • At least two were killed distracted drivers
  • At least one was killed in a left cross
  • One was killed by a truck backing into a loading bay
  • One was killed, at least in part, due to poorly designed infrastructure
  • And just one was killed as a result of a dooring

Stop and think about that.

For decades, we’ve been taught that the door zone is one of the most dangerous places to ride; vehicular cyclists often refer to it as the death zone.

Yet these stats show just the opposite. You are far more likely to be killed in a hit-from-behind collision or at an intersection than you are by getting doored. And yet, the solution we’re invariably taught is to ride in the traffic lane, directly in front of traffic coming up from behind.

Maybe that’s because so many cyclists are heeding that advice and avoiding the door zone, while placing themselves at greater risk of getting hit from behind. Or maybe because hit-from-behind collisions tend to occur at higher speeds, reducing survivability, while doorings tend to be relatively slow speed collisions that are more likely to result in injury than death — especially if the rider is wearing a helmet to protect from head injuries in a fall.

And that’s not to say that riding in the door zone is safe. But it may be far less deadly than we have been lead to believe.

Of course, that’s not the only conclusion that jumps out from these numbers.

Like far too many drivers are willing to flee the scene, leaving their victims to die in the street. Too many cyclists run stop signs — especially when other vehicles are present.

Sidewalks remain dangerous places for cyclists, particularly where they intersect with streets and driveways.

Riders can lower their risk simply by riding on the right side of the road and using lights after dark. And staying of the roads after drinking or using drugs.

Ditto for stopping for trains; once the warning signals chime and the gates drop, stay the hell off the tracks. And that goes for drivers trying to beat a train, as well.

Bike lanes are no guarantee of safety. Yet there were fewer cyclists killed in bike lanes than on sidewalks and crosswalks, and far fewer than on streets without them. But that may just speak to the scarcity of bike lanes in most of Southern California.

Then there’s the single most glaring conclusion we can make from these fatalities.

Too many people have died, and continue to die, on our streets.

One is one too many; 71 is an obscenity.

And it’s clearly headed in the wrong direction.

Update: in response to one of the comments to this post, I’ve added information on how many of the victims were under 18; six riders were 12 or under when they were killed, while another five were aged 15 to 17. In addition, seven of the victims were over the age of 70.

……..

*Most recent year currently on record

**Worst of the five years on record

***I will drop Santa Barbara County from this count next year, to reflect the 7-county area included in the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG)

****Includes solo collisions and collisions with trains

The link love is back — Villaraigosa’s failing bikeway promise, Roadblock joins the bloggerati

Leading L.A. bike advocate and Creak Freak Joe Linton offers another of his exceptional bike wonk efforts, digging deep into the mayor’s promise to build 40 miles of bikeways each year.

And not surprisingly, finding it lacking.

Linton points out that between what’s already installed and what’s projected to be installed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, the city will end up over 23% short of the mayor’s promise, at 31.04 miles.

And that includes eight miles of sharrows, which we all seem to appreciate, but which most would hardly consider fulfillment of the mayor’s promise.

After all, sharrows are easy to put down almost anywhere. But unlike bike lanes, they don’t grant us one inch of pavement we weren’t entitled to before. Or get us out of the traffic lane, where our safety depends on the willingness of drivers to observe the law. Let alone pay attention.

Which isn’t something you really want to count on.

Still, Joe holds out hope that L.A. will live up to its promise. And offers a list of low hanging fruit that could be installed quickly and easily.

Are you listening Mayor?

……..

Speaking of our soon-to-be outgoing mayor, Streetsblog is keeping an eye on L.A.’s 2013 mayoral candidates.

I particularly like cyclist, businessman and former First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner’s comment that 35 years is too long to build out the city’s bike plan.

“We want a bike-friendly city. What does the City deliver? A 35-year plan.  It took Tolstoy one year to write “War and Peace,” four years for physicists to assemble an atom bomb, eight years to answer JFK’s call to land a man on the moon, and it took Dick Riordan three months to fix the 10 freeway after the Northridge earthquake. Why is it going to take 35 years to make us bike-friendly?

Why indeed?

A motivated mayor could easily build out the entire plan before he or she is termed out, even if we tossed in a few cycle tracks, bike boxes and other assorted infrastructure still considered experimental under current Caltrans guidelines.

As NYDOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said, it’s just paint.

……..

In a very pleasant surprise, one of the leaders of L.A.’s cycling community joins the bloggerati, as Roadblock begins a bi-weekly column for the excellent KCET’s Departures series; it’s worth the click just for the breathtaking photos.

They also offer a first-hand report on Flying Pigeon’s ever popular Get Sum Dim Sum ride.

……..

The long awaited Main Street road diet in Venice is now underway. Richard Risemberg reminds the Tea Partiers among us that bikes aren’t socialistic, but highways are. The LACBC tours bike-friendly Long Beach with County Supervisor and presumed L.A. mayoral candidate Zev Yaroslovsky. LADOT offers an update on the latest BPIT meeting, while Street Services take a patchwork approach to preserving sharrows. Better Bike offers advice on how to put a dent in Beverly Hills bike theft. The Weekly looks at the Fresh Food Bike grocery delivery mentioned here awhile back. USC releases a draft plan for dealing with bike safety on campus; all options seem to include at least a partial bike ban or dismount zone. Will Campbell discovers a new bike/ped path in Burbank. South Pasadena is looking for advisory committee members for a remake of Monterey Road, including possible bike lanes. A must read, as KCRW’s Shortcut’s blog asks if the auto industry will ever give a crap about safety; the proliferation of texting and Facebook enabled dashboards suggests otherwise.

California has updated it’s overly conservative guide to what traffic signals, signage and markings are allowed on our streets; wayfinding and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs are now allowed, NACTO not so much. Riverside’s mayor calls for fighting obesity with more bike lanes. Redlands cyclists set out to form the desperately needed Inland Empire Bicycle Alliance; if you’re in San Bernardino County, you should definitely look these guys up. A look at the recent High Desert Cyclocross. Buellton approves a close-circuit bike race for March 31st; yes, that’s what they call it. Santa Barbara’s Wheel House Dutch-style bike shop will go out of business at the end of the month after a steep rent increase; don’t get me started on greedy landlords, especially in this economy.

People for Bikes is now up to nearly 500,000 supporters; as I recall, I signed up about 490,000 ago. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske says “I didn’t see the cyclist” — or as the Queen’s loyal subjects put it, “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You” aka SMIDSY — is a confession of guilt; something I’ve been saying for years. Good offers a beginners guide to Cycle Chic. There seems to be little love for Seattle’s so-called Mayor McSchwinn. Albuquerque decides to ban bikes from an industrial area rather than require truckers to drive safely; a local bike blog quite correctly calls them on it. A Madison WI cyclist offers a mittened response to angry drivers on snowy days, and not the one you might think. St. Louis could soon require bike parking along with new car parking lots. New York vehicle crashes disproportionately affect children in poor neighborhoods. More Miami mayhem as a Brazilian race car driver plows into a man loading his bike onto a car, allegedly after a night of drinking and cocaine use. A long time vehicular cyclist feels uniquely qualified to debunk the practice.

A writer for London’s Guardian considers his double life as a slow cycling Dutch-style commuter and a Lycra-clad speedster; meanwhile, the paper offers advice on how to start cycling to work. While we’re on the subject of Fleet Street, a writer for the conservative London Mail says he wishes cars had never been invented after getting hit by one while riding to church. UK businesses offer to pitch in with money, materials and equipment to cut the cost of a much-needed bike path. Britain’s Parliament considers a new law to criminalize dangerous cycling that results in death — of others, that is; causing your own death by riding recklessly will remain perfectly legal. Bicycle registration is not the answer for bad behavior, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation. A witness claims that bike-hating Aussie cricketer Shane Warne deliberately hit a cyclist he blamed for attacking his car; thanks to cyclist and attorney David Huntsman for the tip. Horrifying story of an Australian sex offender who deliberately ran down and crippled a female cyclist in a failed attempt at abduction; there is not a hole in hell deep enough for someone like that.

Finally, a reminder to check the background of your photos before you post them online, even if it does feature a famous cyclist. And a great Monty Python-esque response to the question what have the cyclists ever done for us?

And thanks to Margrét Helgadóttir and D. D. Syrdal for reminding me that it’s possible to ride past angry drivers as calmly as I’ve passed other dangerous beasts over the years.

Bad day in San Diego area, as one cyclist is killed and another critically injured

Just heartbreaking.

A 77-year old cyclist was killed while riding past a school in Chula Vista Thursday morning, and another cyclist suffered life-threatening injuries in a second collision Thursday afternoon.

In the first case, the victim was riding past Chula Vista’s Rice Elementary School when an employee of the school, described only as “elderly,” pulled out of the parking lot around 8:30 am, hitting the cyclist with her Jeep Cherokee. The rider, whose name has been withheld, was taken to a nearby hospital where he died about an hour later.

It’s unsure if the driver will face charges, though the police note the victim did have the right-of-way.

This is the 5th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego County. And we’re less than three weeks into the new year.

In the second case, a cyclist in his mid 40’s was riding in the bike lane on Sorrento Valley Blvd east of Whispering Heights Lane when he was rear-ended by a Toyota driven by a 75-year old woman about 1:05 pm.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports the rider was thrown from his bike and run over by the car, which ended up against a tree with the unconscious cyclist trapped underneath. A police spokesman said at least three witnesses saw the collision; one told police the driver was using a cell phone just before the collision.

According to the paper, doctors say he will be a paraplegic if he survives.

My heart and prayers to both victims and their loved ones.

Update: The victim has been identified as Robert Howard Marshall of Chula Vista, a 20-year Navy veteran of Korea and Vietnam. He leaves behind his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

That’s what’s so heartbreaking about any traffic fatality. It’s not a statistic, but a real human being with a life and loved ones. And whose death leaves a huge hole that can never be filled in the live of everyone who knew him.

Thanks to Philip Young for forwarding the identification.

……..

A couple of other quick notes.

A memorial service will be held for Hollywood writer/producer Carol Schreder at noon Sunday, March 4th at the Aero Theater at Montana and 14th in Santa Monica. As you may recall, she was killed by an out-of-control van on Mulholland Hwy in the Malibu Hills last month; at last word, the CHP was still unwilling to take action against the driver, despite repeated reports that he was speeding and driving recklessly prior to the collision.

Bike advocate Richard Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, writes to remind us about this weekend’s midnight bike movies at the Vista Theater in Silverlake, with four short films all set in the world of L.A. bicycling.

Finally, congratulation to new LACBC board members Herbie Huff, Lynn Ingram and Efren Moreno. Alex Amerri was elected board president at the board meeting on Wednesday, with Steve Boyd as Vice President and Greg Laemmle elected Treasurer; Scott Moore continues as Secretary. Alex replaces outgoing President Chet Kostrzewa, who has done a great job guiding the Coalition through a period of rapidly expanding influence over the past few years and will be very missed.

My apologies to everyone looking for an analysis of last year’s cycling fatalities, as I had promised on Twitter Thursday. Unfortunately, today’s bad news takes precedence; barring any further breaking news, I’ll have the story online Monday. Look for some very surprising findings, including the possibility that neither L.A. or the door zone is as dangerous as you might think.

The CABO debate goes on; a badly broken Cinelli helps make the point

Just a quick follow-up on last week’s post about the California Association of Bicycle Organization’s (CABO) opposition to the original intent of state assembly bill AB 819.

As originally written, AB 819 would have allowed California cities and counties to use infrastructure designs that have been proven safe and effective in other places, but haven’t been approved under Caltrans extremely conservative guidelines.

Unfortunately, at the urging of CABO, the bill was rewritten to force Caltrans to review any project that isn’t currently allowed under the MUTCD guidelines, adding a needless layer of red tape, delay and expense. And discouraging planners and designers from even attempting innovative projects that could encourage more riders and enhance safety.

And, I might add, allowing CABO to maintain their influence with Caltrans, which gives them a say on road and bike projects that far outweighs their small size — and gives them the opportunity to challenge projects that don’t meet their own conservative Vehicular Cycling bias.

Amid the incredible mass of comments in response to that post — 174 and counting, as of this morning — a couple stood out, and are worth bringing up to a wider audience reluctant to slog through the many, many critical and defensive points and counterpoints.

First up is this from Gary Kavanagh, author of Gary Rides Bikes, and one of the most intelligent analysts of biking issues I’ve encountered.

Something of great importance that has mostly been left out of this discussion is the impact of bike lanes and other facilities on other street users besides bicyclists. Streets that go through configuration changes to include bike lanes often see safety improvements across the board, including for pedestrians and drivers as well cyclists.

Something that has come up several times during the Santa Monica bike plan process was the results of the Ocean Park bike lane and road diet, which was initially installed as a trial project, and resulted in a 50% reduction in collisions of all kinds. Despite increased bicycle ridership, total bike collisions dropped as well.

Personally I wish the bike lanes were a little wider, with more room to buffer from doors, but it’s hard to argue that the changes to the street were a bad thing. The street became easier and safer to cross for pedestrians, bicyclists were given their own lane, which attracted more riders, but decreased collisions, and the travel time impact to drivers were minor, and fewer drivers collided with each other. It was a win win for everyone.

In New York some street reconfigurations reduced fatalities by so much, that it is literally increasing the average lifespan of New Yorkers because of the past years of traffic fatality reductions. Cities in California could be learning and implementing based on the successes elsewhere, but instead we will continue to be hobbled by having approval go through the unresponsive Caltrans.

As leading L.A. cycling advocate Roadblock put it in response —

This comment basically hits the ball out of the park into the next town folks.

I should also mention that Roadblock, and several others, argued passionately throughout the comments in support of better infrastructure and non-vehicular cyclists. It’s definitely worth taking the time to read all the comments if you have the time.

Then there’s this from DG

I was somewhat impressed that the CABO people were willing to try to defend their views here, until I read this by (Dan) Gutierrez above: “Since you support segregated infrastructure, there are plenty of other organizations better suited to your interests.”

You’re absolutely right, bikinginla: CABO is an anti-biking fraud if they think bike lanes (AKA “segregated infrastructure”) are not an essential part of bike safety. Of course, bike lanes are expensive, and CABO provides a fig-leaf for avoiding that expense.

And that’s the problem. Or at least, one of them.

Even though they changed their mind later, CABO’s initial opposition to California’s proposed three-foot passing law gave cover for groups and individuals who opposed the bill entirely, from AAA to Caltrans and the CHP.

After all, they might reason, if even cyclists don’t support it, why should we?

Their opposition gave Governor Brown an excuse to veto it, placing countless cyclists in continued danger from dangerous motorists. And making Jerry Browned the new bike slang for getting dangerously buzzed by a passing vehicle.

Don’t misunderstand me.

I am not opposed to CABO. As they point out in the comments — over and over again — they’ve done some good work to benefit California riders.

What I am opposed to is a small organization professing to speak on behalf of California cyclists while seeming to stand in the way of the bills and projects we want.

If CABO truly believes they are misunderstood and unappreciated, as their responses indicate, maybe they should take a hard look at why so many cyclists are so angry with them.

Because that anger certainly didn’t start with anything I wrote.

……..

The need for safer streets was driven home by a collision suffered by reader and frequent tipster Todd Mumford, who offers a badly broken bike as evidence.

I was heading down Federal Ave. from my office on Wilshire/Federal.  About a quarter mile down the road, just as the hill gets a little steeper, there is a cross street (Rochester) with a two-way east/west stop.   The car seemed to be checking both ways, but all of a sudden they just roll right across the road as I am coming down the road.  There were no cars behind me, the closest car in front of me was about 4 or so car lengths in front of me and no cars were coming up the hill.  I have two bright blinkers on the front of my bike, along with reflective sidewalls on my tires and a bright fluorescent green jacket.  The driver obviously didn’t look carefully before proceeding across the street.  When I realized that the driver was actually rolling into my path, I slammed on my brakes and turned to avoid them, but ended up laying my bike down and sliding right into the passenger side of their car, slamming it really hard.  The driver stopped and was really freaked out, but glad he didn’t actually have a dead cyclist on his hands.  He gave me his info and hung out while I waited for my wife to pick me up.  Also, a few other cars and pedestrians stopped to check on me.  Unfortunately, none of them were actually there to witness the collision.

Fortunately, he didn’t suffer any serious injuries — just a lot of painful ones, with major bruising and road rash. Here’s hoping he heals fast, and gets back out on a new bike soon.

As an aside, Todd is working with his wife and brother to get a new microbrewery up and running Downtown later this year. They’ve already got the beers, now all they need is a location. And money. If you’re in the market to invest, a bike-friendly microbrewery might be a tasty place to start.

You can follow their progress on their website and on Twitter @MumfordBrewing.

……..

My apologies to everyone who has sent me links lately, especially in regards to Gene Hackman getting hit by a car while not wearing a helmet, the anti-bike ravings of Aussie Cricketeer Shane Warne, and the jerk who physically assaulted Long Beach bike expats The Path Less Pedaled in New Zealand, leading to the two-fisted driver’s arrest.

I’m still crunching numbers on last year’s far too high total of 71 bike riders killed on SoCal streets — 80 if you count gunshot victims. I’ll try to get back to my normal link-loving self soon.

And don’t assume that my posting today means I’m not in support of the opposition to SOPA; a tight schedule this week just means I have to post when I can.

Finally, a quick shout out to Mr. Salamon’s class; I truly enjoyed meeting and talking with you yesterday.

Update: Cyclist murdered in intentional hit-and-run

Then there were four.

And the latest is the most horrifying of them all.

According Southwest Riverside News Network, a 68-year old Corona man was intentionally run-down and killed while riding in Home Gardens.

And no, I’ve never heard of it either.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s department reports that Herman Armando Villalobos was riding his bike in the 3700 block of Windsong Street in Home Gardens around 4:40 pm Sunday. That’s when 23-year old Anaheim resident Anthony Ray Lopez allegedly took aim with his car and deliberately plowed into Villalobos’ bike, then drove off like any other killer.

CHP officers discovered the victim laying in the street; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lopez based on information provided by witnesses, as well as other evidence. No word yet on motive, how the collision occurred or why investigators believe the collision was intentional.

Lopez is booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside Monday morning, and is being held on $1 million bond for suspicion of murder.

And give the SRNN and Orange County Register reporters credit for not calling this an accident.

This is the fourth cycling fatality in Southern California since the first of the year, and the second already this year in Riverside County.

Update: As of Tuesday night, there’s still no update on why the authorities consider this an intentional attack.

The Orange County Register reports that the victim’s family has no idea who Lopez is or why he would attack the 68-year old grandfather.

KCBS quotes Villalobos’ son as saying the loss hits his family particularly hard, since Villalobos’ son says his mother and sister both passed away earlier this year.

“My dad, he was a very loving man,” said Joseph. “I think it’s absolutely disgusting that my dad was run down, recklessly, for no reason…”

“Whoever did this, I hope they can feel the pain that we feel,” said Joseph. “This person made me and my sister orphans.”

According to the Press-Enterprise, Villalobos was near his home when he was killed, and just riding for exercise. They also report there were a number of witnesses to the collision. 

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