Archive for May 31, 2012

Guest post: Just how much space is enough for cyclists and bike lanes; no jail in SaMo road rage case

The other day, I got an interesting offer from one of my favorite bloggers and one of the city’s leading livable streets advocates.

Severin Martinez, author of the always excellent Walk Eagle Rock, has been a leader in the fight to reshape dangerously high-speed and far too wide Colorado Blvd through the newly vibrant northeastern L.A. neighborhood.

It seems that he had written a detailed examination on how much space a cyclist needs to safely operate a bicycle, as opposed to how little we usually get.

But after writing it, he realized it wasn’t right for his audience. And wondered if my readers would be interested.

Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.

You can thank me later.

……….

Operable Width?

Looking through the Technical Design Handbook for the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan, I was reminded of something I’ve been thinking about lately – operable width. What is operable width? In the context of the bike plan it refers to the amount of space a cyclist needs to safely operate a bicycle.

In the first section of the Handbook, “design needs of bicyclists” is discussed. On page 7 it is determined that cyclists need a minimum 4-feet operating space with a preference for 5 feet. Similarly in the section discussing design for bike lanes, a 5-foot minimum is established for the bike lane width.

In Los Angeles our bike lanes typically are 5 feet wide but they do not allow for a minimum of 4 feet operating width. Why? Because most of Los Angeles’ bike lanes are adjacent to car parking. Bicycle safety literature issued by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation explicitly warns about the “door-zone,” space within the bike lane which may suddenly be interrupted by motorists opening their car door to exit their vehicle. The door zone reduces the safe operable width of bike lanes to 2 or 3 feet.

The door zone is acknowledged in this blog post at the LADOT Bike Blog, suggesting that cyclists position themselves at least 11 feet from the curb to avoid conflict with opening car doors. Anyone who has cycled in Los Angeles long enough eventually learns the potential danger posed by cycling too close to parked cars while in the bike lane. It is for this reason why cyclists often only operate in the left half of a bike lane.

A visualization of dangers typical bike lanes pose to cyclists in LA. This bike lane, like most bike lanes in LA, does not achieve the desired minimum operable width. Image credit: Gary Kavanagh

Unless parking is prohibited, cyclists never get the minimum operating width recommended by the Technical Design Handbook. What is puzzling is that despite the Department of Transportation’s awareness of the dangers of cycling to close to parked cars, it appears efforts are not consistently made avoid this danger.

Take for example this proposed bike lane on Winnetka Avenue.

Image credit: LADOT Bike Blog

A 6-foot bike lane is placed next to a 7-foot parking lane. If taking the LADOT’s recommendation of placing oneself 11 feet from the curb, the effective width of the bike lane becomes 3 feet, one foot below the desired minimum operating width. If the bike lane were 7 feet, then cyclists could have their minimum operating width of 4 feet. But where would this space come from? The California Highway Design Manual seems to offer a solution

The minimum [motor vehicle] lane width standard is 12 feet. There are situations where it may be desirable to reduce the width of the traffic lanes in order to add or widen bicycle lane or shoulders.

The Manual goes on to say

When vehicle parking is permitted adjacent to a bicycle lane or on a shoulder where bicycling is not prohibited, reducing the width of the adjacent traffic lane may allow for wider bicycle lanes or shoulders, to provide greater clearance between bicyclists and the driver-side doors when opened.

If safety was the number one priority, it would seem the Department of Transportation would propose 10 foot wide motor vehicle lanes. This would allow the creation of 8-foot wide bike lanes with 5 feet of operating space outside the door zone (as defined by the LADOT) or a 5-foot bike lane placed entirely outside of the door zone.

………

A couple other quick notes.

Despite earlier reports that road-raging Santa Monica driver Jeffrey Ray Adams wouldn’t face felony charges for assaulting a cyclist last summer, two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon were eventually filed.

According to a comment left on one of those earlier stories yesterday, the case has concluded with no jail time for the driver.

Jeffrey Ray Adams pled no contest on May 29th, 2012 to a violation of Penal Code Section 245 (a) (1) Assault with A Deadly Weapon [his car]. He was placed on three years of formal, felony probation and must complete 20 days of labor as well as an anger management program. Restitution was ordered (as required by law) in an amount unknown at this point.

I think we all — or must of us, anyway — would have preferred some jail time. However, we’ve already seen that people sentenced to short terms in county jail usually stay just long enough to change into their prison uniform before they’re back out on the streets.

And undoubtedly, it was the lack of jail time that induced Adams to accept a plea.

………

It was announced at yesterday’s LAPD Bike Task Force meeting that the shooting death of a 19-year old Koreatown cyclist last weekend was definitely gang related.

That doesn’t make his death any less tragic, or any less of a waste.

But it should reduce fears of murderous road-raging motorists attacking innocent riders. It’s just business as usual on the streets of L.A.

………

Finally, an arrest warrant has been issued for a San Bernardino County man for attacking a cyclist last July.

According to the Mountain News/Crestline Courier News, 20-year old  Steven Wayne Barnett is wanted for allegedly grabbing a cyclist through the passenger window of a passing car, then throwing the rider to the ground. The unidentified victim suffered a broken wrist, as well as scrapes and bruises, and his bike was destroyed.

The rider and a passing motorist were able catch enough of the license plate to identify the car, which belonged to a friend of Barnett’s.

He is wanted on a charge of assault with serious injury, with a $100,000 bond.

Today’s post, in which I rant on anti-bike fallacies

Because one cyclist cut him off, in what may or may not have been a right-hook on the driver’s part, an Austin writer once again trots out the common fallacies that a) cyclists don’t pay for the roads, and b) we’re not held accountable because we’re not required to ride with large numbers on our backs.

Driver, please.

One of the biggest lies told in this country is that drivers pay for the roads they use through gas taxes and license fees.

The fact is, the federal gas tax, which isn’t indexed to inflation, hasn’t been raised in nearly 20 years, and doesn’t begin to cover the costs of building and maintaining federal roadways. And the overwhelming majority of funds used to build and maintain roads on the local level, where motorists do most of their driving — and cyclists do most of their riding — comes from the general tax fund.

In other words, we all pay for the roads. Even those who’ve never bought a gallon of gas or been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and never will.

Since the overwhelming majority of cyclists are drivers, as well — and virtually all of us are taxpayers — we already pay for the roads in multiple ways, just as other drivers do. And those who don’t drive are subsidizing those who do.

Never mind the other costs associated with driving, as pointed out in a letter from Micah Posner to the Santa Cruz Sentinel (which has since been deleted from their website, unfortunately).

But roads are not the biggest expense that society takes on for cars. For every mile driven in a car, cyclists pay 4.8 cents to subsidize car parking, 3.5 cents to subsidize accidents caused by cars, four cents to pay for the effects on human health, etc. Every mile driven costs society as a whole 32.9 cents, not including wars over oil. Only .5 of these costs are paid for by driver user taxes. That’s why gasoline is taxed much more heavily in most other industrialized countries.

Then there’s that whole licensing issue that continues to rear its ugly head far too often.

I won’t get into the abundant arguments against licensing cyclists, except to say that licensing would discourage cycling at a time when it is in everyone’s best interests to have more riders on the road to cut congestion, decrease pollution and improve overall health in our overly obese society.

Instead, let’s just consider the common fallacy the Austin writer brings up, that vehicle licenses enable enforcement of traffic laws, and that cyclists can’t be held accountable because we don’t have them.

So tell me, when was the last time a police officer knocked on your door and handed you a ticket for a traffic violation that occurred hours, or even days, before?

Because, excluding red light and speed cameras, where legal, a traffic violation must be observed by a police officer in order for the driver to be ticketed.

It doesn’t matter how many witnesses are willing to testify that the driver ran a red light, or wove dangerously in and out of traffic at an excessive speed. If a cop didn’t see it, he can’t write a ticket — even if everyone else on the road copied the license number of the offending vehicle and called it in to the police.

Yet somehow, a number on a cyclist’s ass is supposed to allow police to ticket or even arrest him or her based on eyewitness reports?

Not gonna happen.

Police have exactly the same authority to ticket cyclists as they do anyone else. If they see the violation, they can pull the rider over and write ‘em up. And contrary to the perception of far too many motorists — and cyclists — they do.

We’ll also ignore his absurd observation that whoever pays makes the rules, which applies exactly nowhere else in American law.

Then there’s this comment I received last night in response to an old post in support of SB 910, the three-foot passing law vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown last year.

Aside from the usual bike-hating blather — including a comment that a law should be passed requiring cyclists to stay three-feet from motorists — he argues that a three-foot passing law will increase congestion. And that we don’t belong on the roads in the first place.

This law will have an adverse affect on commerce and create even more grid lock on our roadways. After all, the roadways were built to support interstate commerce and paid for with motor vehicle and fuel taxes. The roads were not built for your cycling entertainment.

Never mind that roads were not built for cars.

Very few state and local roads, where most cyclists ride, play any role in interstate commerce. And even if that standard was applied, it would result in most motor vehicles being banned along with bikes, since only a small part of traffic is engaged in commerce at any given time — let alone of the interstate variety.

And don’t get me started on the absurd misconception that bikes are only ridden for entertainment.

While many cyclists do ride for fun and health — which should be encouraged as a means of combating rising societal health costs due to obesity and related health problems — many others ride for transportation, and far more do both.

And even with California gas prices hovering well over $4 a gallon, I haven’t heard anyone call for a ban on recreational driving. Even though that contributes far more to traffic congestion than every cyclist on American roads combined, whatever reason they ride.

If you don’t believe me, just try finding parking anywhere near the beach on a sunny weekend. Or counting cars buzzing by on a popular scenic byway with no commercial centers in sight.

I’ll be riding my bike to a meeting tonight, and expect to enjoy the trip far more than I would if I was driving.

So does that make it transportation or recreation?

Other than a relative handful of bike haters, who really cares?

………

As for that meeting, I hope you’ll join me at the first meeting of the LACBC’s newly formed Civic Engagement committee.

The committee is being created to allow the LACBC to play a role in local elections in the city and county of Los Angeles. While the non-partisan committee will not endorse or work for individual candidates, our plan is to get candidates on the record through the use of questionnaires, as well as candidate forums, socials and debates.

The meeting will take place from 6:45 to 8:45 pm on the Mezzanine level of LACBC headquarters, 634 South Spring Street, with future meetings to be held on the last Tuesday of every month, location to be determined.

Participation is open to everyone, member or not. And candidates are welcome to stop by to introduce themselves, at tonight’s meeting or any future meetings, though time restrictions may limit speaking time.

………

Claremont Cyclist notes that Andy Schleck has backed into his yellow jersey. Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal takes home Canada’s first grand tour victory; Mark Cavendish misses the Giro’s points title by one point.

Evelyn Stevens wins the inaugural Exergy Tour women’s pro stage race, which should put her on the U.S. Olympic team. And Tim Duggan is your new national pro road race champion, while Dave Zabriskie wins the time trial once again.

………

The L.A. Weekly notes the neighborhood where a 19-year old cyclist was shot in Koreatown last weekend is ground zero for one of the city’s most notorious gangs. Will Campbell offers a time lapse of his annual ride to remember the real reason for Memorial Day; hint: it’s not barbeque, beaches or shopping. Bikas spots new bike lanes on White Oak Avenue. The Ballona Creek bike path will be closed in Culver City for two months beginning tomorrow. Glendale officers ride to remember one of their own. Long Beach gets a bike-friendly promotion.

Let’s Go Ride a Bike profiles San Diego’s Brown Girl in the Lane. Is roadway bullying just a matter of boys will be boys? A San Francisco cyclist is acquitted of hit-and-run in a collision that injured an elderly pedestrian. Wrong way cycling may seem safer, but it’s far from it. California’s proposed three-foot passing law advances after being watered down in the Senate.

Grist says Congress gives young cyclists the middle finger. Ten reasons to ride your bike. An unlicensed Washington driver swerves to avoid a skunk and kills a cyclist. Mountain bikers head to Colorado’s Grand Valley. A South Dakota political candidate is cited for DUI after hitting a seven-year old cyclist. Once again, a select group of cyclists will retrace the Trail of Tears. Chicago adopts a bold Vision Zero plan, committing to zero traffic deaths — bike, pedestrian or motor vehicle — within 10 years; so far, I only know of one L.A. candidate or elected official who even knows what Vision Zero means, let alone has called for it. David Byrne looks favorably on bike share in New York. Eight years ago, a 12-year old girl was promised a new dog if she won her age group in the national cycling championships; today, that dog helps pay for her college education.

An upcoming conference says children have a universal right to ride. Ottawa cyclists complain about non-bikes in the bike lane, just like cyclists in every other city. Utterly useless article in the great helmet debate, as a Vancouver writer refers to a number of studies to support his position without linking to or citing any; a Euro study suggests adverse health effects from a drop in cycling will outweigh benefits of a mandatory helmet law. Prince Charles rides an ebike. There’s something seriously wrong when the police are afraid to ride. Relatively inexpensive mirrors could help cyclists avoid truck blind spots. The Wall Street Journal says Asia is a hub for bikes.

Finally, rather than lock up his family’s bikes, a Nebraska man writes a stern letter to the thief or thieves; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up. And the Dutch don’t wear helmets or lycra, and they don’t ride racing bikes.

Except when they do.

Update: Two cyclists shot in Koreatown, one killed

Multiple sources report that two Hispanic men were shot while riding their bikes in Koreatown Saturday afternoon.

According to the L.A. Times, incident began near the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and San Marino Street around 1:20 pm, when a bike rider was struck by a white SUV. One of the men inside the SUV then got out and shot the victim as he lay on the ground, killing him.

Witnesses report that the SUV appeared to be chasing at least one one of the riders when some sort of altercation occurred leading up to the collision and shooting.

Following the first shooting, the men in the SUV began pursuing the second rider; it’s unclear whether he was riding with the first victim or just happened to be riding alone in the same area. He was shot by the same man in the 800 block of south Vermont Avenue; fortunately, his wounds are not life threatening.

The suspects are described only as three Hispanic men in a white SUV-like vehicle. They were last seen driving south on Vermont Avenue towards Olympic Boulevard.

Police continue to investigate the motive for the shooting.

While gang violence seems like the obvious explanation, as the Times points out, it could also be the result of road rage or a personal vendetta.

Thanks to Sam Ebnet for the heads-up.

Update: KABC-7 identifies the victim as a 19-year old Los Angeles resident; while they give a name on the video report, but I’m unable to clearly make it out after several listenings. Police report two men exited the vehicle; witnesses report hearing approximately 15 gunshots.

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Mark Morgan at 213/38-9470 or 877/527-3247.

Update 2: LAist identifies the victim as Shaoyan Almazan. The Times reports Almazan appears to have been targeted by his killers.

Update 3: According to the L.A. Times, the second victim was riding with Almazan, and was struck in the hand as he tried to ride away. He stopped to in the 800 block of Vermont to call 911, which is why he was found a few blocks away. The shooter is described as medium height and weight, wearing a hooded sweat shirt. In other words, it could be just about anyone.

Still no word on why the riders were targeted.

Update 4: According to the LAPD, the shooting was definitely gang related. That doesn’t make it any better, but it means local cyclists don’t have to worry about a crazed road raging driver roaming the streets.

Just a cold-blooded killer.

Win a week at the Tour de France and a free bike from Cannondale; and a long list of LA bike events

Here’s your chance to participate in this year’s Tour de France.

For the second consecutive year, Cannondale will give one cycling fan the chance to spend a week working with Peter Sagan and the Team Liquigas-Cannondale. The winner will be a member of the behind-the-scenes team working on race day preparations and rider support for the team.

Oh, and they’ll give you a pretty decent bike, too.

To enter, just like Cannondale’s Facebook page, click on the Backstage at the Tour de France icon and fill out the application. Deadline for entering is Thursday, May 31st at 11:59 pm EDT; 8:59 West Coast time.

………

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.

It Magazine invites you to celebrate the end of bike month with a panel discussion on Greening Your City: Biking Los Angeles, moderated by actor Ed Begley Jr. from 7:30 to 10 pm on Saturday, May 26th at the Lineage Performing Arts Center, 89 South Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena. Panelists include LACBC Executive Director Jennifer Klausner, former LA District Attorney and Paris cycle chic photographer Gil Garcetti, C.I.C.L.E. Executive Director Dan Dabek and Bike San Gabriel Valley co-founder Wesley Reutimann.

Sunday, May 27th, LACBC affiliate chapter Bike SGV invites you to their free SGV River Loop, held monthly on the last Sunday of the month along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo River bike paths. Meet at 9 am at Santa Fe Dam, 15501 Arrow Highway, with a 10 am departure; the ride features feeder ride check points, as well as a pit stop at Legg Lake with booths, music, mechanics, snacks, water and other goodies. Bike SGV has invited candidates for the 49th Assembly District to join in on this month’s ride.

Los Angeles cyclists enter the political realm when the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s new Civic Engagement Committee meets for the first time promptly at 6:45 pm (note the new start time) on Tuesday, May 29th on the Mezzanine level at LACBC headquarters, 634 South Spring Street in Downtown L.A. Help us work to get candidates for mayor and city council in Los Angeles and other area cities on the record for their stands on bicycling issues to ensure the election of more bike-friendly political leaders.

L.A.’s Council District 14 joins the LACBC, LADOT, and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council to host a Downtown Bicycle Network Open House from 5 to 8 pm on Wednesday, May 30th at Aiso Plaza, Judge John Aiso Street & 1st Street, Downtown.

The Palms Neighborhood Council will host their 19th Annual Bike Rodeo on Saturday, June 2nd from 10 am to 2 pm at Palms Elementary School, 3520 Motor Ave. The event is free for Palms residents and children attending Palms area schools.

The next of the LACBC’s popular Sunday Funday rides takes place on Sunday, June 3rd with the East Valley Hansen Dam Ride; meet in front of the entrance to the North Hollywood Metro Station on Lankershim and Chandler in North Hollywood at 8:30 am, with the ride rolling at 9 am.

Take Back the Boulevard holds its third public meeting on Tuesday, June 5th from 7 to 9 pm at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, 2225 Colorado Blvd. Participants will review a preliminary plan for a more livable Colorado Blvd to better serve residents and business.

The fourth annual Bike Night at the Hammer Museum takes place on Thursday, June 7th starting at 7:30 pm at the Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd. The free event includes a free portrait with your bike, a screening of the Kevin Bacon bike messenger movie Quicksilver — which LAist says he called “the absolute lowest point of my career” — and admission to the museum’s Made in L.A. 2012 biennial exhibition.

The Antelope Valley’s High Desert Cyclists hosts a series of monthly Brunch Rides starting at Marie Kerr Park on 30th Street West in Palmdale on the second Saturday of each month. The comfortably paced 15 to 20 mile rides will visit a local restaurant or coffee shop for brunch before returning to the starting point; organizers promise no rider will be left behind. The next ride is scheduled for Saturday, June 9th at 7:30 am, with successive rides scheduled for July 14th, August 11th, September 8th and October 13th.

L.A.’s favorite fundraising bike ride rolls out on Sunday, June 10th with the 12th Annual L.A. River Ride; this one just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Six different rides, from an easy family ride to a fast, flat century; this year’s ride includes an optional reverse start beginning in Long Beach. Funds go to support the LACBC in building a better, more bikeable L.A. County.

Recover from The L.A. River Ride with a laid-back bike, brunch and beer ride the following Saturday, June 16th. The first annual B3 charity bike ride will raise funds for the Pablove Foundation with beer and food specials, while making a loop between Golden Road BrewingTony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend.

Sunday, July 1st, Shuntain Thomas, the Real Rydaz and We Are Responsible People (WARP) will host a ride through the streets of South Los Angeles to raise attention to the problem of childhood obesity and streets as recreational space. The ride starts at 10 am at Exposition Park, and ends at a street festival at 86th Street and Vermont Avenue.

The 2012 GranFondo Cannondale Los Angeles rolls on Sunday, July 15th starting at Saddlerock Ranch at Malibu Family Wines, 31727 Mulholland Highway, offering rides of 40 and 75 miles; registration closes at 9 pm on Friday, June 8th.

The 4th Annual California Tour de Dreams 2012 will take place August 9th through 19th as cyclists will ride 540 miles from UC Berkeley to UCLA to educate communities about the passage of the California Dream Act and advocate for passage of the Federal Dream Act; register online by May 31st.

Bikes are normally banned from the famed San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge, but you can ride it on Sunday, August 26th, during the 5th Annual Bike the Bay, to benefit the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Get an early registration discount through April 30th.

Early registration has opened for the national Pro Walk/Pro Bike® conference to be held September 10th through 13th in Long Beach. The 17th annual conference is sponsored by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, and Project for Public Spaces.

This year’s Tour de Fat will take place on Saturday, September 15th at Los Angeles State Historic Park — and this time, it’s not scheduled on the Jewish high holidays, so everyone can attend.

Mark your calendar for the next CicLAvia from 10 am to 3 pm on October 14th; more details to follow

Update: OC cyclist and former LACC engineering professor August Bissiri killed in Sonoma County

Bad news from the wine country, as a Laguna Woods cyclist was killed in a Thursday afternoon collision on the coast highway.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 85-year old August Bissiri was rounding a corner on Highway 1 outside of Bodega Bay around 1:30 pm when he apparently drifted onto the wrong side of the road, and was hit nearly head-on by a Ford Focus traveling at about 50 mph.

Driver David Chaote Tryon of Berkeley swerved to the right, hitting Bissiri’s bike with the right front of the car before striking an embankment on the right side of the road and rolling over. The CHP reports that skid marks indicate Tryon was in the center of the northbound lane when he collided with Bissiri, who was riding south.

Bissiri, who had taken up cycling 13 years ago following his retirement from L.A. City College, was riding ahead of a group of riders from the Bicycle Club of Irvine, who came upon the collision shortly afterwards. The club members had driven up to Sonoma County last weekend for a week of riding the wine country, and were due to return home this Sunday.

The paper reports that a passerby attempted to perform CPR, but Bissiri died at the scene from multiple traumatic injuries; it does not note if the person who tried to help him was a member of the bike club or a passing motorist or pedestrian.

Bissiri is described as a cautious rider; the local fire chief suggests that 30 to 40 mph winds at the time may have been a contributing factor. Winds that strong can easily blow a rider across the roadway.

He leaves behind a wife of 15 years, as well as three children from a previous marriage, and two step children.

My prayers and condolences for August Bissiri and all his family and loved ones. Let’s hope this is the only cycling fatality we have to report this Memorial Day weekend.

Thanks to Jorga Houy for the heads-up. And to the Press Democrat for a well-researched article that not only explains what happened, but who the victim was; every traffic victim deserves as much.

Update: Fellow BCI member Bill Sellin, who was on the tour with August Bissiri, emailed to say that it is his understanding that Bissiri was actually riding north to the hotel the group was staying at, but may have overshot the hotel.

He likely made a fatal U-Turn or crossed the road at a curve from the south bound side turn out when he was hit. He was rear ended or hit from his right side… not head on. It was not a right turn or hairpin, just a curve with limited line of sight. 2 lanes, narrow shoulders. Head wind from NW & downhill toward Bodega Bay; August did not hear well & if the car was coming from his blind spot on his right, he may have never seen it in his mirror.

Other riders may have come upon him, but not BCI or the other riders in the group he was touring with, as we had all stopped at the hotel in Bodega Bay.  Several BCI members were on the fund raising tour, but it was not a BCI event & other riders were from Montana, New Jersey, Utah, Minnesotta, Oregon as well as Northern & Southern California. 

Update 2: Bill Sellin also forwards information on a memorial for August Bissiri this Wednesday in Laguna Woods.

The Celebration of August’s life will be Wednesday, May 30th, at 1:00 p.m. in Club House 7, Laguna Woods, located at 24111 Moulton Parkway, Laguna Woods, CA 92637.  Phone 949.268.2417. The family has requested that you do not bring flowers or gifts, just your love and support.

We hope to see you there and please pass this on to all of August’s friends. 

The note also asks that any questions be directed to Bissiri’s step-daughter Kirsten, rather than his widow.

A good friend of L.A. cycling to be honored at this year’s River Ride

I’d planned to talk about bike safety today.

And how important it is to ride within your own abilities, especially on holiday weekends when the roads are more crowded, drivers more distracted and/or drunk, and riders more relaxed.

It’s easy to push the limits just little too hard, and find yourself in a situation you can’t get out of.

But then I received the following email from Alan Krepack, brother of GEKlaw bike attorney Howard Krepack, and decided to set that aside for another day.

As you may know — and as I’m sorry to tell those who don’t — Howard was diagnosed over a year ago with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, an incurable disease that progressively robs the victim of control over his or her own body. While his mind is as sharp as ever, and he continues to practice law with the help of his associates and partners, this illness has taken a terrible toll on him.

I’ll let Alan pick up the story from there.

Hi Everyone,

I’m sure most, if not all of you, know that Howard has been battling ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s disease) for 1 1/2 years now.  He continues to be the kind-hearted, smart, loving man he has always been.  And continues to be surrounded by his immediate and extended family, and his many friends.  His mobility is limited, but his spirit remains strong.

I am writing to let you know about an event in Howard’s honor and about his web site:

1) The upcoming Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday, June 10. The ride is being dedicated to Howard and ALS awareness.  As you know, Howard has been a longstanding bicyclist and advocate for bicycle safety and policy in Los Angeles. Howard’s law firm, GEK Law, have also been sponsors of the River Ride for the past three years.

Everyone is invited to join our “team” for the River Ride.   You can ride any one of the distances (15, 36, 50, 70 or 100 miles), or simply hang out at this great event.  Details and registration are available by linking to the River Ride from the Howard’s web site or: http://la-bike.org/events

At the ride on June 10 we will be giving out t-shirts from the Howard D. Krepack Fund booth, next to the GEK law booth for anyone who wants to be part of our team.  At 7:45am we will meet at the booth for a picture. For those riding the century or 70 mile course the t-shirts will be available at 7am.

Also at the River Ride on June 10 Howard will be receiving the first annual Service to Cycling award given to citizens who have made significant contributions to bicycle advocacy, safety and use in Los Angeles.

2) The Howard D. Krepack web site and fund was launched last month.  If you haven’t visited, please take a moment to check it out, pass the link on to anyone who may be interested and connected to Howard, and hopefully motivated to make a contribution to ALS research in Howard’s name from his web site:  http://community.als.net/krepack

Please make a donation of any amount to help us reach our donation goal for ALS research in Howard’s name.

Howard, Vivian and our entire family thank you for your support.

Over the years, Howard has been a big supporter of Los Angeles bicycling and a good friend to cyclists.

Or just a good friend, period.

He is someone I’ve been happy to know, and I’ve referred riders to him for legal help more than once, knowing they’d be in good hands.

I last had a long talk with Howard at last year’s River Ride, discussing what the LACBC, and we as individuals, could do to improve safety for cyclists in the L.A. area. I didn’t know at the time that he has already been diagnosed; yet typically, instead of worrying about himself, he was focused on what we could do for others.

If you’ve been on the fence about this year’s River Ride, I urge you to come out and participate — whether you choose to ride or just hang out and visit the booths. And honor Howard Krepack along with the LACBC, his family and friends.

I don’t know if he’ll be up to attending this year.

But either way, it will mean a lot to him. And to all of us.

………

Please take just a moment this Memorial Day weekend to remember what this holiday is all about, and honor those who have given so much — and so often, too much — for our country. And those who continue to give.

And be careful out there.

I want to see you all back here next week.

A little this, a little that: a little bike courtesy goes a long way, NIMBY homeowners battle Expo bikeway

Once again, the issue of conflicts between fast riders, slow riders and pedestrians rears it’s ugly head on the L.A. River bike path.

A slower rider complains about cyclists he calls “speed racers” brushing past and cutting in too close, and wonders why they can’t just slow down.

The answer is not, as the story suggests, imposing speed limits on riders or taking other steps to slow faster cyclists. Or, as some riders have suggested, getting non-cyclists the hell off the bike path.

It’s a simple matter of showing other path users the same courtesy you expect them to show you.

Even though it often seems few things are less common than common courtesy these days.

But really, it’s very simple.

For slower riders and pedestrians, always be aware of your surroundings and other people on the path, keep to the right and leave room for faster riders to pass you.

For faster cyclists, remember that it’s a multi-use path, which means that other people have every bit as much right to be there as you do. Always slow down, announce your presence — ie, “on your left” or “passing on the left” — and pass carefully, waiting until the way is clear and it’s safe to do so. And whenever possible, give other path users the same three-foot passing distance you expect from drivers.

If you can’t manage that, find another place to ride or walk.

There are enough jerks on the roads without bringing that crap onto the paths we use to get away from it. And them.

And that goes for every other bike path, too.

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up.

………

In the most astounding example of bold-faced NIMBYism this side of Beverly Hills, a group of Westside homeowners have filed a federal environmental lawsuit attempting to block the bike path — yes, bike path — along the Expo Line extension into Santa Monica.

Because, evidently, we cause more harm to the environment than all those trains rushing past. Especially after filling up on Danger Dogs $1 burritos.

Of course, what they really fear is all us big, bad bike riders besmirching the safety and sanctity of their neighborhood. And are willing to ridiculously abuse existing environmental laws to stop us.

We can only hope the judge recognizes this for what it is, and tosses them out on their NIMBY ass. And sticks them with the court charges.

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It Magazine invites you to celebrate the end of bike month with a panel discussion on Greening Your City: Biking Los Angeles, moderated by actor Ed Begley Jr. on Saturday, May 26th in Pasadena; panelists include LACBC Executive Director Jennifer Klausner, former LA District Attorney and Paris cycle chic photographer Gil Garcetti, C.I.C.L.E. Executive Director Dan Dabek and Bike San Gabriel Valley co-founder Wesley Reutimann.

And L.A.’s Council District 14 joins the LACBC, LADOT, and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council to host a Downtown Bicycle Network Open House next Wednesday.

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Despite the urging of GOP party leaders, Tea Party Congressional representatives once again target all federal bike and pedestrian funding in an attempt to force the socialistic funding of highways by people who may or may not use them.

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No wonder American kids are so fat.

At least 60 Michigan high school seniors are suspended for — get this — riding their bikes to school, even though they were escorted by the city’s mayor and a police car. Something tells me it may have been one of the principal’s last official acts at that school.

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Matthew Gomez for the heads-up.

………

LACBC board member Steve Boyd talks about the new Tern folding bikes, which GOOD says could transform transit; GOOD also takes a look at L.A.’s lowrider bike club. LADOT offers a list of new bike rack locations, while the new Orange Line bike path extension is nearing completion; oddly, without having to content with an environmental lawsuit from over-privileged homeowners. New bike lanes appear in Boyle Heights. Nightingale Middle School students ask for bike lanes so no more kids will get hurt. Seems like there’s one in every crowd, as Will Campbell and another rider stop for a stop sign and let a crossing driver pass — who then has to jam on his brakes when a trailing jerk rider blows through the stop. A writer for the Daily Trojan says more bike lanes won’t solve USC’s problems, but fewer bikes would. The annual Bike Night at the Hammer Museum returns Thursday, June 7th. A look at bike polo in North Hollywood Park. Beverly Hills is surrounded with sharrows, but can’t seem to figure them out. Sunset magazine looks at a Glendale woman who embraced biking to take back the suburbs. Welcome to Mike Don, the newly hired director of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition.

The state Senate votes once again on whether California cyclists deserve a three-foot passing law; a nearly identical law passed both the Senate and House last year before being vetoed by our misguided governor. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times says the proposed three-foot law is sort of better than nothing. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious has developed a statewide map showing the location of bike-involved collisions reported to the CHP; wrecks from the last 24 hours are shown in yellow, older ones in red. Grant Fisher, the cyclist critically injured in San Diego the same day Robert Marshall was killed, is now paralyzed from the waist down, but with a better attitude than most of us; heads-up courtesy of BikeSD. In better news, Baron Herdelin-Doherty, the cyclist seriously injured in the collision that killed cyclist Nick Venuto when a driver flew off a San Diego freeway and landed on the bike path they were riding, says he’s almost back to health almost a year later. Camarillo cyclists are about to get bike lanes over Highway 101.

George Wolfberg forwards a look at some unusual and artistic bike racks; something else Beverly Hills says they just can’t manage to do. Bicycling offers advice on how to avoid rookie roadie mistakes. GOOD looks at the history and psychology of sharing the road. A year later, Utah authorities are still looking for the hit-and-run driver who killed a 24-year old cyclist. Portland cyclists are going to get a new bike highway on the left side of the road to avoid buses; local Portland groups look to develop a crowd-sourced case for bike advocacy. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club seeks to train grassroots bike activists. On the eve of the Exergy women’s stage race, a Bay Area women’s pro team has their bikes stolen; hats off to Boise police for getting them all back. A South Dakota drunk driver plows through three kids riding their bikes; link via Witch on a Bicycle. Whatever issues we have in here in L.A., at least you don’t have to worry about a deer jumping over your bike, though you may have to watch out for cougar killing SaMo police. Bicycling declares Dallas the worst bike city in America. Trial is starting in the case of the hit-and-run driver accused of killing a Maryland Senate candidate in 2010. A vigil is held for Mickey Shunick, the Lafayette LA woman who disappeared riding home from a night out; it couldn’t hurt to say a prayer if you’re so inclined. The six best cities to take a bike vacation.

A former Vancouver city councilor says the city’s bike share program will fail if riders are required to wear helmets. A Toronto cyclist was trying to walk away when he was deliberately run down by a cab driver. A London writer says Chicago gets it right and they don’t. London’s transportation department says six of the city’s most dangerous intersections are safe. One of the UK’s top teen cyclists battles back against meningitis. That inflatable bike helmet is about to hit the market overseas for the equivalent of $525; I think I’ll keep using my $65 Trek hard hat.

Finally, a British Member of Parliament is hit from behind by a minicab at a red light, then yelled at by the driver for not getting the hell out of his way. It may be worth noting that the cab belongs to the same Addison Lee cab company whose owner recently encouraged cabbies to drive illegally in bus only lanes, and said it’s cyclists’ own fault if we get hit.

Oops.

Bicycling says we’re sort of bike-friendly; Better Bike’s Mark Elliot bounces off a Beverly Hills SUV

Let’s make it a Tuesday news day.

So settle back with your favorite libation and catch up on all the bike news that fits.

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Bicycling magazine names their top 50 American bike-friendly cities.

And in a very surprising development, L.A. makes the list at 32, just ahead of Thousand Oaks at 38, and behind Long Beach at 19. Not surprisingly, Portland leads the list at number one, followed by Minneapolis, Boulder and newly bike-friendly Washington DC; New York City comes in just before San Francisco at seven and eight, respectively, while my hometown just misses the top 10 at number 11.

………

Best wishes to Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who was hit by an SUV in Beverly Hills on Saturday, just days after getting screwed by the city’s auto-centric Traffic and Parking Commission. Fortunately, Mark says he’s okay. But warns ominously that it might be you next time.

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Robert Gesink wins the Amgen Tour of California just eight months after breaking his leg in four places in a training accident. Will Campbell shows just how fast the Amgen riders passed by. Aussie cyclist Robbie McEwen retires at the end of the Tour of California. LACBC offers photos of the final stage, which began in the biking black hole where Mark Elliot nearly got his ass run over. And once again, a feared carmageddon fails to materialize.

………

If you’re only going to click on one link today, make it this one, as a writer explains how not to kill a cyclist. And then forward it to every driver — and cyclist — you know.

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Flying Pigeon needs help moving to their new location on Tuesday and Wednesday. An Eastside bicyclist was injured after falling through a manhole after thieves stole the cover. Adonia Lugo and Allison Mannos question whether the urban poor and communities of color are being left behind by eco developments. Riding from Watts to Long Beach on a Friday night. Mayoral candidate and current CD13 Council Member Eric Garcetti has a new website. A UCLA study says excessive cycling could interfere with male reproductive health — and give you man boobs; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. New signage and pavement markings on the Santa Monica section of the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path could ease conflicts between cyclists and beach-going pedestrians. Long Beach urban planner Sean Warner says rational arguments supporting biking infrastructure may not be enough.

Two Fontana teenagers are being sought for shoving two children off their bikes and stealing them — the bikes, not the children. A Redlands rider is shot while on his bike Saturday night. Los Olivos hosted the California State High School Mountain Bike Championships over the weekend. A 54-year old Campbell cyclist is injured when a 17-year old unlicensed driver attempts to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space she was in at the same time. Nearly 1,200 Tahoe cyclists attempt to set a record for single-file riding; almost three times that many are expected for the area’s 21st annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride on June 3rd.

The Bike League is now tracking bicycling fatalities on a national level, just as I’ve been doing in SoCal; preliminary results show over a third of all bike-related collisions were hit-from behinds, followed by failure to yield (18% drivers, 10% cyclists). Riding a bike to work could cut your tax bill, as well. The bike writer for my hometown paper says education is more important than more bike lanes. A Lafayette LA cyclist disappears riding home from a night out. Bollards are almost always a failure of good bikeway design — especially when they go in for no apparent reason. Charleston SC proposes a 32 mile bikeway crossing eight bridges. Dave Moulton says it’s time to opt out of the culture of speed.

A Halifax writer says cyclists deserve more respect and better infrastructure. A UK writer asks if adults are mature enough to share the road with children; good question. A British publication asks if the war between motorists and cyclists will ever end — or if it really exists. Free bicycles help keep Indian girls in school. A Singapore cyclist is found dead of unnatural causes along a trail.

Finally, an Aussie writer has had it up to here with people saying cycling is being spoiled by anyone on a sports bike. And a rider in Mississippi is reunited with his dog after three months in a coma following a collision.

Bike racing and bikeways come to DTLA, and lots of links and events for your weekend reading pleasure

Now that I’ve caught up on sleep after a busy bike week — I mean seriously, why can’t people bike to work at a more reasonable hour, like maybe noon? — let’s catch on the news before moving on to this week’s events.

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AG2R La Mondiale rider Sylvain Georges leads from the first mile to win a dramatic stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California; Dave Zabriskie holds onto the leader’s jersey he won on Thurday in the Bakersfield time trial. And Kristen Armstrong wins once again in the women’s annual token appearance in the Tour of California.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Mark Cavendish wins his third stage of this year’s Giro, despite a couple of crashes the first week, while Joaquim Rodriguez keeps the leader’s jersey. Liquigas-Cannondale’s Damiano Caruso hopes to win best young rider; I’d vote Taylor Phinney for gutsiest young rider after cycling on this for the past week.

………

Big news on the local bike lane front, as B.I.K.A.S says the new bike lanes on NELA’s Via Marisol probably won’t get a lot of use. Three new bike lanes prove there’s cycling life south of the 10 Freeway. LADOT plans a full interconnected bikeway network in Downtown L.A. within the next 13 months or so; I’ll be glad when I don’t have to dodge cabs and buses on 7th street east of Figueroa anymore.

………

LACBC offers advice on how to lock your bike. A non-biking reporter rides to work in Glendale. One in ten California drivers are on their cell phones at any given time. Calbike asks you to contact your state Senator to ask for a safe passing distance. Bike thieves hit Coronado. Four decades of manning a Bike to Work station in Palo Alto. A San Francisco attorney with two previous speeding convictions is arrested in the hit-and-run death of a cyclist in Dublin CA. New separated bike lanes in are bad for everyone according to a San Francisco writer. The father of a Napa City council candidate is killed riding back from a half century when a 20-year old driver drifts off the road. A bicyclist is killed after falling into a Fresno canal.

Five things every mayor should know before starting a bike share program; link courtesy of Alan Thompson. Science is still trying to figure out how we balance on a bike. Save up to $9,000 a year by balancing one on your way to work. Now you can get that stainless steel DeLorean you always wanted, just with two fewer wheels. Are bikes the next great technology platform? Albuquerque cyclists will soon get a bike/pedestrian bridge over I-25. A Denver cyclist slams into a police car after allegedly running a stop sign. The women’s pro tour hits Idaho next week; maybe some day they’ll get the attention they deserve, right Amgen? L.A. expat Amanda Lipsey says bikes equal smiles, and Missoula ain’t L.A. A Tulsa bike thief pulls an endo attempting his getaway. An Indiana driver slams on his breaks in front of a cyclist; the rider responds by pulling out a gun and shooting him. Chattanooga area police refuse to enforce Tennessee’s three-foot passing law unless the driver actually makes contact with the rider; I guess that’s one way to be sure the distance was less than three feet. Joe Jonas loses his bike to thieves. Questions surround locations for New York’s new bike share. It’s as easy as learning to ride a bike — again. A Florida driver won’t face charges after killing a cyclist with morphine, muscle relaxant and a tranquilizer in her system.

Vancouver cyclists have to deal with close calls and narrow streets. Seven things you should give up to be a happy cyclist; can’t say I’d argue with any of it, even if I often fail to practice them myself. UK police threaten to prosecute a five-year old for riding his bike on a promenade; no, really. A professional Brit pollster dismantles a recent highly misleading anti-bike survey.

Finally, if Norman can ride a bike, so can you. Even if he does have twice as many legs and a lot more hair. And even supposedly sensitive women bloggers take it out on cyclists.

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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.

DTLA’s popular Downtown L.A. Bicycles hosts the Grand Opening of their new Santa Monica location at 7th and Wilshire in Santa Monica starting at noon on Saturday, May 19th. Events include a custom Yoga routine designed for biking, BMX bike demonstrations, an interactive safety scavenger hunt, raffles and much more.

Pasadena wraps up Bike Week with the free All City Ride and Bike Week Pedal Party, from 6:30 pm to 11 pm on Saturday the 19th. The ride starts and ends at Paseo Colorado, 280 East Colorado Blvd.

Cap off Bike Week with a Bike Exhibition hosted by the Santa Monica Spoke at the annual Santa Monica Festival on Saturday, May 19th from 11 am to 6 pm at Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd, offering a full day of music, dance, visual arts, food, information and shopping. Admission is free, and there will be a bike valet.

The Culver City Bicycle Coalition is looking for volunteers for the city’s bike count on Saturday, May 19th and Wednesday, May 23rd.

The Amgen Tour of California concludes with a penultimate Ontario to Mt. Baldy stage on Saturday, May 19th, and the final stage from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live on Sunday, May 20th, with the race starting at 10:10 am and an expected finish between 11:40 and noon.

Speaking of the Tour of California, you’re invited to ride the Downtown leg of the final stage with the Nissan Ride Before the Pros on Sunday the 20th. Riders of all ability levels can ride the 5-mile closed circuit from 8 am to 9:30 am starting at Staples Center. Think of it as a mini-CicLAvia; free registration required.

Also on the Sunday the 20th, the younger set can join in the inaugural Kidical Mass Bixby Knolls bike ride, from 1 to 3 pm beginning and ending at Los Cerritos Park in Long Beach. The four mile ride will be led by Long Beach Bike Ambassador and Olympic cyclist Tony Cruz, and feature complimentary ice cream, music, free tune ups, yoga demonstrations and a blessing of the bicycles.

Anyone who rides PCH — or would like to — is invited attend a meeting discussing design of the Pacific Coast Bike Route Improvements Project between Busch Drive and the western Malibu city limit. The meeting is scheduled for 6 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday, May 23rd in the Multi-Purpose Room at Malibu City Hall, 23825 Stuart Ranch RoadNote that the meeting has been moved from Saturday the 19th; the Saturday meeting has been cancelled.

San Diego cyclists are invited to Ride to Vote on Wednesday, May 23rd to advocate for safer bicycling facilities in the city. The all ages ride will assemble at 5 pm at the fountain in Balboa Park for an easy 11-mile ride. While the organizers strongly support independent candidate Nathan Fletcher for mayor of San Diego, they want to send a message that they will strongly support any candidate, regardless of party, who genuinely embraces a vision of a people-friendly San Diego.

Los Angeles cyclists enter the political realm when the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s new Civic Engagement Committee meets for the first time promptly at 6:45 pm (note the new start time) on Tuesday, May 29th on the Mezzanine level at LACBC headquarters, 634 South Spring Street in Downtown L.A. Help us get us work to get candidates for mayor and city council in Los Angeles and other area cities on the record for their stands on bicycling issues to ensure the election of more bike-friendly political leaders.

The Palms Neighborhood Council will host their 19th Annual Bike Rodeo on Saturday, June 2nd from 10 am to 2 pm at Palms Elementary School, 3520 Motor Ave. The event is free for Palms residents and children attending Palms area schools.

The Antelope Valley’s High Desert Cyclists hosts a series of monthly Brunch Rides starting at Marie Kerr Park on 30th Street West in Palmdale on the second Saturday of each month. The comfortably paced 15 to 20 mile rides will visit a local restaurant or coffee shop for brunch before returning to the starting point; organizers promise no rider will be left behind. The next ride is scheduled for Saturday, June 9th at 7:30 am, with successive rides scheduled for July 14th, August 11th, September 8th and October 13th.

L.A.’s favorite fundraising bike ride rolls out on Sunday, June 10th with the 12th Annual L.A. River Ride; this one just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Six different rides, from an easy family ride to a fast, flat century. Funds go to support the LACBC in building a better, more bikeable L.A. County; save $10 if you register by May 15th.

Recover from The L.A. River Ride with a laid-back bike, brunch and beer ride the following Saturday, June 16th. The first annual B3 charity bike ride will raise funds for the Pablove Foundation with beer and food specials, while making a loop between Golden Road BrewingTony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend.

Sunday, July 1st, Shuntain Thomas, the Real Rydaz and We Are Responsible People (WARP) will host a ride through the streets of South Los Angeles to raise attention to the problem of childhood obesity and streets as recreational space. The ride starts at 10 am at Exposition Park, and ends at a street festival at 86th Street and Vermont Avenue.

The 4th Annual California Tour de Dreams 2012 will take place August 9th through 19th as cyclists will ride 540 miles from UC Berkeley to UCLA to educate communities about the passage of the California Dream Act and advocate for passage of the Federal Dream Act; register online by May 31st.

Bikes are normally banned from the famed San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge, but you can ride it on Sunday, August 26th, during the 5th Annual Bike the Bay, to benefit the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Get an early registration discount through April 30th.

Early registration has opened for the national Pro Walk/Pro Bike® conference to be held September 10th through 13th in Long Beach. The 17th annual conference is sponsored by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, and Project for Public Spaces.

This year’s Tour de Fat will take place on Saturday, September 15th at Los Angeles State Historic Park — and this time, it’s not scheduled on the Jewish high holidays, so everyone can attend.

Mark your calendar for the next CicLAvia from 10 am to 3 pm on October 14th; more details to follow.

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