Archive for May 18, 2012

A popular bike path closes with no apparent warning; a bike-hating OC writer tries to rip us a new one

I’ve gotten a few emails lately wondering why the Coyote Creek Bike Trail suddenly closed with no advance warning.

The popular Class I bikeway provides a 9.5 mile off-road route along Coyote Creek from Santa Fe Springs until it merges with the San Gabriel River Trail.

Or at least it did.

According to the following email I received from Fullerton cyclist Colin Campbell, the bike path is going to be closed at Alondra Drive for the next several years. And if Caltrans bothered to tell anyone in advance, the word didn’t get out to the riders who use it.

After this morning’s ride, I ate a slice of cold pizza and went out to “finish” today’s ride.  (I’m in the Strava “Twice the Tour” Challenge, in which riders must ride double the miles of the Tour of California, or 1479 miles, during May.)

I’ve been trying to find out how long the Coyote Creek bike trail would be closed around Alondra, I-5, and Firestone.  Last Friday I rode up to the closure from the south, and I couldn’t find anyone to talk to.  Over the weekend, I searched on the Internet and read about the I-5 widening and improvement project from the Orange County line to I-605.  What I read said that there were seven smaller projects, one of which is at Coyote Creek and Alondra. This project has just started, and is schedule to complete sometime in 2015.

So today, I rode across Rosecrans and headed south.  Just past the Alondra underpass, I found people, who directed me to the contractor’s construction office at the corner of Alondra and Freeway Dr, just east of Coyote Creek.  I was able to speak with Mark, the project manager.

He gave me a short overview of the project, and the bad news – the trail will likely be closed for at least a couple of years.  It has already been filled with dirt so that equipment can access the strip of land between the creek and the trail, where 36-inch piles will be sunk 100 feet to support the new I-5 bridge.  I-5 is going to be raised about six feet, and Alondra about 10 feet above where they are today.  So eventually, the trail may head through there “at grade”, rather than being sunk several feet.  (This is just my guess, nothing I was told.)

For now, there are signs at Artesia and at Rosecrans advising riders that the trail is closed.  It is possible to ride south to the swap meet (old drive-in theater) and exit onto Alondra.  However, at some point, Alondra will be closed while it is rebuilt 10 feet higher.  From there, ride east to Valley View, and take Valley View south to Artesia to reenter the trail southbound.

It is also possible to ride north to Firestone, follow Firestone southeast under Valley View, turn right, then right again, and take Valley View north past the closure (most likely to Rosecrans for most riders).

The bottom line is that the Coyote Creek trail is lost to us for a good while, and we should get used to using other routes.  And of course, the other bottom line is that no one in Caltrans thought to inform the cycling community of this “minor” impact….

In a follow-up email, Campbell talks a little more about the closure and apparent lack of notice, and notes that parts of the trail that remain open are in need of repair.

In short, the trail was closed as part of the improvement project on Interstate 5 from the Orange County line to Interstate 605.  I understand that closure of the trail was necessary, but I’m a little sad that Caltrans apparently did nothing to tell cyclists about the closure or the duration thereof.  I suppose that several hundred riders use the trail daily, while about 178,000 vehicles travel I-5 each day.  I am a little bit hopeful that some planning can be done to reopen the trail sooner than the project manager indicated.

One thing I didn’t mention in my e-mail below is that the Coyote Creek trail has been repaved along most of its length, except for about four miles in Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, and Los Alamitos.  Part of the trail is breaking up, leaving the surface narrowed and rough.  LA County DPW tells me that the cities along the trail built it and are responsible for maintenance.  I haven’t yet tried to find out if improvements are in their plans.

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An Orange County letter writer calls out every anti-bike cliché in the book to protest the recent decision to put sharrows on the coast highway.

After all, we non-bicyclists contribute monies, through our taxes, which pay for all of those never-ending miles and miles of bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, bicycle markings and other alleged “safety measures.” Presently, bicycle riders are getting a “free ride.” Bicyclists are the only group who share the road but don’t pay their fair share.

Evidently, she’s aware of a lot more never-ending miles of bikeways than than the rest of us. Which makes me wonder just where the hell Orange County is hiding them.

She also complains about “older, leisure-time bicycle riders” who dress up in too-tight clothes and an “all-too-common case of road rage.” In fact, she goes so far as to call for banning any cyclists over the age of 65 from riding on public streets.

No, seriously.

I never knew road rage was something you could wear. Then again, I also didn’t know it was possible to meander aggressively. Or that cyclists put drivers of cars, SUVs and trucks in peril.

I must have missed all those stories about careless, distracted and/or aggressive cyclists slamming into SUVs and killing or maiming the drivers. Evidently, it must happen a lot, and we can only thank her for bringing it to our attention.

I know I, for one, will immediately pack away my spandex so as not to threaten or offend innocent motorists such as herself. Even if I still have a few good years left before I can expect to lose all control over my bike and body after crossing that magical 65-year old threshold.

Especially since she thinks the sharrows and bike lanes that we demand others pay for only make drivers more impatient and aggressive. And make it our own damn fault if we get doored and thrown in front of oncoming traffic.

She concludes that if we really insist on having such life-threatening bikeways, we should be forced to pay the exorbitant construction costs ourselves.

Then again, maybe we should send her a bill for all those roads that motorists like her don’t pay for, either.

And as it turns out, she doesn’t seem to like dogs any more than she likes bikes.

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Finally, one more reason to pass pedestrians with the same margin you’d expect from drivers, as a Pennsylvania man pulls out a gun and shoots at a cyclist who brushed against him. And just in time for Bike to Work Day, the father of Vehicular Cycling seems to suggest that Complete Streets are a fraud, and nothing can be done to encourage people to switch from cars to bikes; thanks to Christopher Kidd for the link.

Culver City’s bike friendly honorable mention, tonight’s Ride of Silence, & Blessing of the Bicycles

Yesterday we received the surprising news that Culver City was awarded an honorable mention as a bike-friendly city by the League of American Bicyclists.

Something that would have seemed unthinkable just a few short years ago.

Much of the credit goes to the members of the LACBC affiliate Culver City Bicycle Coalition, who’ve worked with city leaders to make it safer and more inviting to those of us on two wheels.

So while I don’t normally reprint press releases, we’ll let them take a bow this one time.

Culver City Bicycle Coalition Applauds Bicycle Friendly Community Honorable Mention Recognition

The Culver City Bicycle Coalition (CCBC) is proud to announce that Culver City has been recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community with an Honorable Mention by the League of American Bicyclists. The award is a product of the hard work of City staff, community members, and, of course, Culver City’s elected officials.  Since its adoption in 2010, the Culver City Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (BPMP) has led to concrete improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians throughout the City, with more on the way.

Being recognized by the League is no small tasks. Many cities apply each year, but without a formal bike-friendly foundation and plan going forwardI, many are rejected. Culver City was recognized for many improvements, including new bike routes and lanes, improved bike parking, successful Safe Routes to School programs, the addition of Shared Lane Markings (a.k.a. sharrows), effective education and outreach program and a supportive community.

“Culver City has always had many great places to walk and bike. In fact we are already considered one of the top cities for walking in the country. The BPMP is about connecting these places together into a network that allows people to feel safe and comfortable getting around on two wheels, or with no wheels. Today the League of American Bicyclists recognized Culver City for those efforts,” CCBC co-founder Jim Shanman said.

In addition to recognizing communities for their achievements, the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program is a valuable resource that offers guidance to local governments looking to become even more bike-friendly.  As communities improve, they can be recognized with Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community status.  The League has identified specific policies and programs that will keep our local community moving in the right direction.  This Honorable Mention recognizes that Culver City is on the path to reach these higher levels.  CCBC looks forward to working with the City to take these next steps.

“We are genuinely appreciative of City staff who guided development of the Master Plan and are now working diligently on its implementation.  This award is primarily a recognition of their leadership,” Shanman continued.  CCBC thanks the League for recognizing the City’s many accomplishments in the past two years.

And don’t forget that Culver City is looking for volunteers for their annual bike count this Saturday and next Wednesday.

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Don’t forget tonight’s Ride of Silence in memory of riders killed in traffic.

The nearest ride for those of us in the L.A. area will be the Pasadena Ride of Silence, an easy 12 mile, moderately paced ride starting at 7 pm at the Rose Bowl. The nationally featured ride takes place in Oxnard in memory of 6-year old Anthony Martinez. Other rides will take place in Rancho Cucamonga, as well as other cities throughout California. (Note: in an earlier draft, I mistakenly located the Rancho Cucamonga ride in Claremont.)

I’m committed to attend the LACBC board meeting tonight. But my heart will be with all those who ride tonight, and everyone they’re riding for.

Wherever you are, I hope you’ll take part.

Both to remember those we’ve lost, and send a message calling for safer streets for cyclists.

And for everyone.

Update: If you really want to understand what the Ride of Silence is all about, read this from Chris Phelan, founder of the Ride. But fair warning, you can expect to have a tear in your eye before you’re finished.

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If you read this early enough, you can still celebrate Bike Week by riding the new Expo Line bikeway.

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The fine for using a hand-help cell phone could go up a whole $10 to a whopping $30; yeah, that will certainly act as a deterrent. How about making the penalty the same as DUI, since studies show hand-held cell use is the equivalent of drunk driving?

The proposed law would also ban texting and hand-held cell use while biking, with a $20 fine.

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Peter Sagan makes it three in a row in the Amgen Tour of California, while Heinrich Haussler finishes second — also for the third time. Tommy Duggan has been spending more than his share of time leading the peloton in the Tour of California. And the race is even making news in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez takes the Giro d’Italia’s pink leader’s jersey on the streets of Assisi.

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Clif Bar invites you to celebrate their 20th anniversary by sharing your life-changing moment; five winners will have $5,000 donated to the non-profit of their choice, while all contestants will be entered in a drawing for a month’s supply of Clif Bars.

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Alex Baum gets a well-deserved Golden Spike award for a lifetime of bike advocacy; photo courtesy of George Wolfberg.

LADOT Bike Blog offers a look at Tuesday’s Blessing of the Bicycles, which honored L.A.’s original bike advocate Alex Baum with a very well-deserved Golden Spoke Award. One of my favorite writers for the Times offers her take, as well. More much-needed bike lanes sprout in long-neglected South L.A. Examined Spoke says sharrows schmarrows, and points out L.A. seems to pay more attention to shrubbery than bikeways. LAPD Central offers tips on how to protect your bike; instead of just saying “Learn how to lock your bike,” though, maybe they could explain how to do that. If you’re a member of the LACBC, you’re automatically entered in the Coalition’s May member appreciation raffle. Santa Clara County proposes spending $2 million to complete a key bikeway.

Electric and hybrid cars are 66% more likely to collide with cyclists than traditional gas-powered vehicles. The League of American Bicyclists says a quarter of all bike collisions are hit-from-behind wrecks, a far higher percentage than we’ve been told in the past. Hammacher Schlemmer promises to address that with a real-time rearview camera for bikes; I’d much rather have a three-foot passing law. People for Bikes invites you to meet their Western U.S. crew. Even Sitka AK earns a bronze level bike-friendly city nod; maybe someday, L.A., maybe someday.

Bike unfriendly Toronto claims yet another victim, as the mayor continues to rip out bike lanes. The UK seriously considers lowering speed limits to 20 mph in residential areas; something we should consider ever though current limits are universally ignored. Instead of bitching that cyclists don’t pay our own way, maybe it’s time drivers had to pay the full cost for the roads they use.

Finally, worse than the claim that over half of all cyclists run red lights is an unscientific survey showing nearly half of all cyclists have upset a kitten, the heartless bastards. Even though some of us claim to do it so they don’t get killed.

Jump red lights, that is.

Not upset kittens.

Bakersfield bike racer dies in Sunday stage race crash; Culver City gets an honorable mention

Bad news from Bakersfield, as top local bike racer Suzanne Rivera was killed in a Mariposa County stage race on Sunday.

Apparently, she rear-ended a support van that had stopped on the shoulder during a steep downhill. Rivera will be honored on Wednesday’s Bakersfield Ride of Silence.

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The League of American Bicyclists releases their latest list of new bike-friendly cities; congratulations to Culver City for getting an honorable mention.

And nice work to the hard work put in by LACBC-affiliate Culver City Bicycle Coalition to help make it possible. Thanks to CCBC member Steve Herbert for the heads-up.

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Peter Sagan keeps the leader’s jersey in the Amgen Tour of California, despite a spill and a flat; Cyclelicious captures his shadow crossing the finish line. Maybe Levi Leipheimer is just playing possum. And Sunday’s final stage finish at L.A. Live may lead to Sportsageddon as the Kings, Dodgers, Clippers and the ToC collide in DTLA.

Can we just call a time out on all the blank-ageddons for awhile?

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There are plenty of people who live car free in L.A. every day, so why plan a day around it? LADOT is hiring a Pedestrian Coordinator as well as an Assistant Pedestrian Coordinator. The 10 busiest bike intersections in L.A.; I ride four of them on a regular basis. Better Bike recaps the meeting that lead Beverly Hill’s Traffic & Parking Commission to reject two of the city’s five proposed underwhelming bike pilot projects. As if Bike to Work Day wasn’t enough, you can join in on Bike from Work happy hours, as well. A 50-something cyclist is injured after getting rear-ended by a car in Pasadena. A recap of last weekend’s Montrose Historical Bike Ride. New bike racks in Redondo Beach thanks to the Chamber of Commerce.

The California Department of Transportation offers advice on bike safety for Bike Week. San Diego endorses Scott Peters for Congress. A four-year old Palm Desert boy is hit by a red light running schmuck truck driver while crossing the street in the crosswalk with his mom. Santa Maria police question whether a cyclist was really hit by a car, as he claims. How cars should turn right when bikes are around.

The Sierra Club, which hasn’t always support cycling, seems to be coming around. AAA endorses a more bike-friendly America; does that mean they’ll stop fighting bike safety measures in California? Bike lawyer Bob Mionske looks at drunk biking laws. Walk Score rates the most bikeable cities; maybe L.A. can get a bike score of its own soon. Maybe they need an L.A.-style anti-harassment ordinance in my old hometown. Then again, maybe bike education would make for safer cycling and driving. Turns out riding a bike is the fastest way to get around Boston. New York uses liquor licenses to fight back again scofflaw bike delivery people.

Turns out that bike-unfriendly Toronto is even less bikeable than Saskatoon. A British motoring organization claims over half of all cyclists run red lights; turns out it ain’t necessarily so once you get the facts. An Aussie city considers a proposal to waive the country’s mandatory helmet law for riders on separated bikeways.

Finally, Alabama film maker Katie Rogers talks about her in-process film about going carless in L.A., which just got funded on Kickstarter today. And if this car runs you over, at least you’ll know why.

Beverly Hills steps up — and stumbles badly — in their attempt to accommodate cyclists

First watered down, then at least partially down in flames.

Over the last year or so, the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has consulted with cyclists to develop a bike route pilot program.

And those cyclists have chaffed under a process that seemed designed to reduce participation, while imposing so many restrictions on the end result that hit hardly seemed worth the effort.

In the end, the ad hoc committee working on the program recommended five pilot bike routes that seemed to offer only a slight improvement over nothing at all. Which, oddly, is exactly the amount of bicycling infrastructure the city currently offers.

Then the city’s Traffic and Parking Commission proceeded to shoot two of the five routes off their low-hanging branch. And did it using the same old half and non-truths typically employed by anti-bike forces who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Like bikes impede traffic. We don’t belong in residential neighborhoods. We don’t deserve safe infrastructure — or even the modest improvements the plan called for — because cyclists run stop signs.

Never mind that traffic flow could be improved and the streets made safer if some of those stop signs were removed.

And members of the commission even asked whether placing sharrows on streets like Charleville would give riders a false sense of security. As if we could somehow forget that we’re riding in a city full of self-entitled motorists who believe they actually do own the road.

As Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who has lead the Sisyphean task to make bikes more welcome — or even welcome at all — on the city’s streets put it, cyclists ended up with just three-fifth of half a loaf.

Which is better than nothing, I suppose.

But it does raise the question of why cyclists would bother to support the Rodeo Drive start of the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California in a city that so clearly doesn’t support us.

Or why the Tour of California would start their race in such a bike-unfriendly city to begin with.

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Speaking of the Tour of California, Liquigas-Cannondale’s Peter Sagan overcomes a flat tire in the last five minutes to win the first stage; clearly, he and teammate Vincenzo Nibali did not come to California to take a stroll.

In other proc cycling news, the first Canadian to wear the pink jersey continues to lead the Giro d’Italia. Road.cc documents the day in Verona when U.S. cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney lost the leader’s jersey after suffering a bad ankle injury in a crash just days earlier.

And the witch hunt continues as prosecutors go after Lance’s former team manager Johan Bruyneel.

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It’s the first day of L.A. Bike Week, with a full slate of rides, activities and Bike to Work pit stops scheduled throughout the week.

Or as they call it in Beverly Hills, Monday.

If you’re curious about biking to work this week, you could do a lot worse than brushing up on this bit of advice from KCRW chief engineer Steve Herbert.

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The Times says bicyclists and pedestrians are remaking the city’s classic boulevards, as people demand more bikeable, walkable and livable streets. Writing for Momentum Magazine, Rick Risemberg asks if Los Angeles is a cyclists’ paradise regained. A cyclist is seriously injured after falling off a trail into a canyon in Porter Ranch. Long Beach ups the bike-friendliness a notch with new bike lanes and sharrows in new areas. A Carlsbad company trades bike to work for biking instead or working. The 75-year old Santa Cruz cyclist who was killed after going over his handlebars has been identified; and yes, he was wearing a helmet.

AAA and LAB team up to promote bike safety. A writer for my hometown newspaper says bike lanes add economic value; someday I hope to go back and ride those 38 miles of off-street trails and 112 miles of bike lanes myself. A Texas cyclist is recovering after being hit by a red light running state trooper. The Broward County FL sheriff’s department mistakenly says the first rule of bike safety is wearing a helmet; actually, it’s riding safely so you won’t need one.

Audi and Specialized team up to build a 50 mph ebike prototype. After getting laid off, a British Frisbee champion plans a 4500 km ride to Istanbul. A camera happens to catch it all as a black-clad woman rushes up to attack a bike riding man; is it just me, or does that camera placement seem just a tad too convenient?

Finally, a writer makes a very apt comparison between cycling and battered wife syndrome.

And in case you missed it over the weekend, you can find a much longer list of links here.

On a personal note, a personal childhood hero passed away Friday, when one of my older cousins sat down after mowing the lawn, closed his eyes for a nap and never woke up. Dick had been a champion open-wheel racer in the 60’s; his lifelong claim to fame was passing his rookie test at Indianapolis, then just missing qualifying for the Indy 500. His unsponsored, self-financed car may not have been fast enough to make the cut, but how many people can say they made the attempt on a set of tires borrowed from A.J. Foyt?

Rest in peace, cousin.

Catching up on news — and deals — from the bike world; a bakfiets load of Mother’s Day links

Looking for a deal this weekend?

Right now, you can get 20% off the Mini Monkey Light I reviewed last year, or save 10% on Dutch-style cycling attire from Road Holland. And you can still get half off a cycling vest when you buy a retro-style jersey from Solo.

Or you can bid on bike items in the California Bicycle Coalition’s online auction through the end of the month.

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The Amgen Tour of California kicks off on Sunday. On the eve of defending his title, Chris Horner still doesn’t remember his vicious crash in last year’s Tour de France. Bissell rider Eric Young rises from the Little 500 Cutters team made famous in Breaking Away, to a competitor in the Tour of California. And six weeks after getting hit by a car while training in Europe, Levi Leipheimer says he’ll ride, but not compete, in the ToC.

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Damien Newton says we may never know what happened to Susanna Schick, aka Pinkyracer. Bike and business-friendly non-politician Austin Beutner backs out of the L.A. mayor’s race. The LACBC offers a series of tips to get started riding for Bike Month. It you build it, they will come; the green Spring Street bike lanes see what the Times calls a moderate boost in cycling traffic and Streetsblog considers an explosion in ridership, while L.A. sees a 32% increase in cycling in just three years. A cyclist illegally rides the 101 Freeway — and in the middle lane, no less — but at least he had clothes on. LADOT Continues to tweak the Expo/Gramercy crossing on the Expo bike path. What it means to be an HIV positive cyclist. Highland Park’s Flying Pigeon bike shop will soon be moving to a new location on North Figueroa. Paris Hilton rides with her puppy in Hollywood. Montrose will host a kid’s bike safety rodeo on Saturday, May 19th. Progress continues on highly anticipated Calabasas bike café Pedalers Fork, which is now looking at a fall opening. Simi Valley rejects new bike lanes at the urging of local businesses, who evidently assume we don’t spend money; local cyclists beg to differ.

It looks like California’s simplified three-foot passing bill will pass the state legislature, and the governor promises to sign it this time after vetoing a similar bill last year. The Times visits the bike-friendly Long Beach borough of Bixby Knolls. Long Beach’s biking expats say it’s time to redefine the roadtrip. Orange County’s annual Breathless Agony ride tortures participants with 12,000 feet of climbing. Corona del Mar cyclists will finally get sharrows on the Coast Highway after a member of the city’s Task Force on Cycling Safety has a change of heart. Laguna Beach ranks as the most dangerous town for cyclists and pedestrians among 98 California cities of similar size. San Diego cyclists get their first bike corral. A 75-year old Santa Cruz man dies in a solo fall after going over the handlebars, despite riding at a leisurely pace. The CHP recommends a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge against the 84-year old driver who drifted onto the shoulder of Highway 1 to kill a cyclist. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious deals with the helmet morality police. Drivers should treat green bike lanes the same as any other bike lane; and no, they don’t have to worry about slipping on the paint. Tulare County says we all can share the road. Did Alameda police protect the driver who killed a 13-year old boy, as his mother suspects? Thanks to Erik Griswold for the link.

People for Bikes is now officially halfway to their goal of one million pledges; if you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for? No offense to the anti-bike leadership in the U.S. House, but 83% of Americans want to maintain or increase funding for bikes and pedestrians, not cut it. Don’t try to ride between a fire truck and a parked car; seriously, just don’t. A New Hampshire police chief wants cyclists to stop chatting and ride single file; thanks to Eric Griswold for the heads-up. Bikeyface offers another great look at the cycling life, this time on biking in the other guy’s shoes. A Pennsylvania teenager is seriously injured in a horrible accident as a mower bar protruding from a truck strikes him in the chest while riding; thanks once again to Eric Griswold for the heads-up. A Syracuse cyclist is shot in the eye with a BB gun from a passing car; yet another reason to always wear shatterproof glasses when you ride. A cycling poet rides 40 miles a day cross country with a communal typewriter in tow; thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the heads-up. A Charleston SC cyclist is killed in a sideswipe collision barely six months after killing a pedestrian as the driver in a DUI collision. Even in South Carolina, there are too many hit-and-runs. Alabama film maker Katie Rogers — no relation — is less than $1100 away from funding her Kickstarter project to finish a documentary on living carfree in L.A.

Even Dickens dealt with an out of control driver who wasn’t held accountable for his crime, though his solution seems a little extreme. What some consider Britain’s dumbest cycling lane isn’t; rather, it’s a modified form of sharrows. A UK driver walks with a suspended sentence after ramming a teenage cyclist in a road rage attack. Why there’s no war between drivers and cyclists in the Netherlands. A little boy riding with training wheels becomes the iconic image of Russia’s political protests. A look at the world’s top 10 cycling destinations from a Malaysian perspective; two American cities make the list, and no, Los Angeles isn’t one of them. The second Pedal Asia podcast is now online, offering a fascinating look at cycling on the other side of the world.

Finally, the Eastside Bike Club’s Carlos Morales offers proof that dogs can ride bikes, after all. And L.A. cycling expat Amanda Lipsey says a donation to support the U.S. Bicycle Route System could keep zombies at bay, or at least give you an escape route.

Maybe that’s why a Seattle cyclist seems to have traded his bike for something a little faster.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Leading L.A. bike activist victim of apparent hit-and-run; Bike Week is here & other upcoming events

Just received word that Jesse Ramon, aka Aktive, one of L.A.’s leading bike activists, was hit by a car in an apparent hit-and-run on Olympic Blvd on Friday.

No word yet on his condition; hopefully he’s okay and just laying low tonight.

If you haven’t met Jesse, you’ve missed out on one of the city’s hardest fighters for the rights of bike riders. He’s also the go-to guy for ghost bikes in the L.A. area, committed to honoring fallen riders without regard to the type of rider; in his eyes, a fallen bike commuter deserves the same respect as a weekend warrior or one of the city’s invisible cyclists.

And once you meet him, he’s almost impossible not to like.

So please join me in saying a few prayers and/or sending our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

It hurts like hell to hear about a rider down. And even more when it’s someone you know and like.

Update: Good news. Jesse commented on Facebook that both he and his bike are okay, and that the police are on the case.

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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.

The Spoke(n) Art Ride takes place on Saturday, May 12th; riders meet at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street, at 6 pm, with a 6:30 departure time, and return for a reception around 10 pm or 10:30. Single speed beach cruisers are available to rent for $20.

Also on Saturday, Walk Bike Glendale hosts a family-friendly Montrose Historical Bike Ride, visiting historical sites around the Montrose area. Riders meet at 10 am at Montrose Bike Shop, 2501 Honolulu Avenue, with a 10:30 am departure time.

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, May 12th at 7:30 am, with successive rides scheduled for June 9th, July 14th, August 11th, September 8th and October 13th.

National Bike to Work Week takes place May 14th through 18th, and National Bike to Work Day on Friday the 18th. Here in L.A., Bike Week kicks off at 10 am Monday, May 14th at Expo Park/USC Station, which is also the starting point for the Expo/Mid-City Bike Ride starting at 8 am. Good Samaritan Hospital’s annual Blessing of the Bicycles will take place on Tuesday, May 15th from 8 am to 9:30 am in front of the hospital at 1225 Wilshire Blvd; expect a great breakfast and bike swag, with non-sectarian bike blessings from virtually every faith found in L.A. Bike to Work Day is Thursday, May 17th, including free rides on Metro buses and trains. Bike to School Day is Friday, May 18th.

Pasadena offers a busy Bike Week as well, with rides ranging from A Taste of Pasadena and Ladies Night, to a Mayor’s Ride and Bike-In Movie Night from Monday the 14th through Saturday the 19th. Check with CICLE.org for more rides and full details.

The annual Ride of Silence takes place in the middle of Bike Week on Wednesday, May 16th, with Southern California rides in Irvine, Rancho Cucamonga, Carlsbad, Temecula, Thousand Oaks and Ventura; a ride will be held in Oxnard in memory of six-year old Anthony Martinez Jr. The only ride in the immediate L.A. area will take place starting at 7 pm at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Ride of Silence takes place in cities around the U.S. and throughout the world to remember those who have died while riding their bikes. I couldn’t endorse it more strongly; while I’ll be tied up with other obligations that night, I hope you’ll take my place at the ride nearest you, and send a clear message that we belong on the streets and have a right to return home safely. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the Ventura County Star link.

The Amgen Tour of California will kick off with the first of eight stages on Sunday, May 13th in Santa Rosa, with Southern California stages from Palmdale to Big Bear on Friday, May 15th — where you can enjoy the full VIP experience, including free cowbell — Ontario to Mt. Baldy on Saturday the 19th, and the final stage from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live on Sunday, May 20th. You’re invited to ride the Downtown leg of the Amgen ToC final stage with the Nissan Ride Before the Pros on Sunday the 20th. Riders of all ability levels are invited to 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.

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.

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 Civics Committee – or maybe Civic Engagement Committee — meets for the first time promptly at 7 pm 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.

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.

A ride to honor a friend, a fatal hit-and-run and a loyal dog; Pasadena Ride of Silence next Wednesday

Forgive my lack of updates.

I’m still trying to catch up on work, which has kept me tied up this week. But I don’t want to let the day pass without a couple quick notes.

……..

First, I’ve been following this case all week, which just gets more heartbreaking with every new turn.

The story started with a cryptic report last Saturday that an unidentified cyclist had been killed in a hit-and-run on PCH north of Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz late Thursday night or early Friday morning. The story mentioned in passing that the man’s dog was unharmed despite riding in a crate on the bike at the time of the crash.

By the next day, the story had spread around the world of the loyal Cairn Terrier mix who had stayed by his master’s body for as long as 12 hours after he was killed. The dog was taken to a shelter for evaluation while police searched for his master’s killer.

Before long the victim was identified as a 39-year old homeless man, Joshua Laven of Massachusetts. Except he wasn’t homeless; he was riding across country from Florida to San Francisco in honor of a lifelong friend who had died while visiting Cambodia. In fact, he had been riding the friend’s bike until just days before he was killed, his dog his only companion on the trip.

According to some reports, it was the dog’s mournful howling that alerted a pair of passing riders on a tandem; Laven was just one day San Francisco when he was run down from behind.

Police are still looking for the driver of the truck that hit Laven and left him on the side of the road to die.

His five-year old dog, Ozziet, has been adopted — at least temporarily — by a family friend who had known Laven since he was 15 years old. She hopes to return the dog to his family soon.

The Mercury News says Ozziet whimpered as the shelter workers handed the dog over to his new owner.

……..

I received an email today from Thomas Cassidy asking me to help get the word out about the Pasadena Ride of Silence next Wednesday.

If you’re not familiar with the Ride of Silence, it’s a world-wide moving memorial in honor of fallen cyclists, to remember those who have died while riding their bike and call attention to the need for road safety. And it’s something I support wholeheartedly.

There are other rides nearby in Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Irvine and Temecula, just to name a few, but this is the only ride in the immediate L.A. area.

Cassidy says the Pasadena Ride of Silence has attracted around 100 riders in the past, but he’s hoping for a big increase this year, with a goal of 250 riders.

Personally, I’d like to see a thousand or more riders rounding the Rose Bowl this Wednesday to remember those who can no longer ride with us. And God knows, there are far too many of those.

The ride will start at 7 pm next Wednesday, May 16th, at the Rose Bowl. It’s an easy, slow-paced ride open to anyone, from beginning bicyclists to experienced riders. Or anyone and everyone in between — even if that means dusting off that old bike that’s been sitting in the garage covered in dust.

Yes, it’s that important.

I’m committed to attending the LACBC board meeting that same night, or I’d be there myself. So I hope you’ll do me the honor of taking my place.

And give real meaning to Bike Week by riding in the Ride of Silence, in Pasadena or whatever ride is closest to you.

Thanks to Thomas Cassidy  for the heads-up — and more importantly, for putting this ride together.

Breaking news: arrest made in Mel’s Drive-In beating case; two cycling victims identified

Just a quick note, as my other job — the one that actually results in income on all too rare occasions — is keeping me tied up tonight.

However, I don’t want the day to pass without a quick update on a few cases we’ve discussed here recently.

First up, I’ve received confirmation that the driver who severely beat a cyclist in front of Mel’s Drive-In in Sherman Oaks last month has been identified, and an arrest has been made.

According to LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the victim was supposed to be told of the arrest today (Monday).

As you may recall, the cyclist was riding on Ventura Blvd when he was honked at, then dangerously buzzed by a pickup truck coming up from behind. When he saw the same truck at Mel’s Drive-In moments later, he stopped to confront the driver.

But instead of arguing with the rider, the driver responded by knocking him down and repeatedly kicking him in the face.

There was some concern that the driver of the Oregon-licensed truck would leave the state before an arrest could be made — particularly since the LAPD detective in charge of the case had reportedly taken no action 48 hours after the assault due to a heavy caseload.

And there was some question whether the person driving the truck — and who attacked the cyclist — was the owner of the truck.

There’s no word yet on the identity of the driver, or what charges he will face.

But the simple fact that an arrest has been made is a positive step forward.

……..

Today also put names to the victims of two fatal bike collisions.

The cyclist killed in a solo fall yesterday has been identified as 47-year old Luis H. Esparza of La Puente. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, he was riding on the sidewalk when he collided with a raised metal mailbox and fell into the street, striking his head on the curb.

The incident took place in the Bassett area of unincorporated L.A. County.

And no, Esparza was not wearing a helmet, even though this is exactly the sort of collision bike helmets are designed to protect against.

This time, it may have cost him his life.

……..

Finally, Philip Young forwarded word today that the cyclist killed while riding past an elementary school in Chula Vista last January was 77-year old Robert Howard Marshall. Marshall was a 20-year Navy veteran who had served in Korea and Vietnam, and left behind a wife, four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Maybe it’s just me. But it strikes me as vital to put a name to every cycling victim when we can, so we can remember them for the people they were, and not just tragic statistics.

Update: Baldwin Park cyclist killed in apparent solo fall

According to reports from the CHP, a cyclist has died in Baldwin Park after an apparent solo fall.

Reading between the lines in the rather cryptic dispatch feed, a 45 to 50-year old Hispanic man fell and hit his head on sidewalk at 14049 Don Julian Road, apparently suffering a fatal head injury.

Why he fell off his bike is unknown.

While the dispatch feed suggests he may have hit the curb, it simply mean that he landed on the sidewalk. It’s entirely possible that he fell on his own, or was forced into the curb by a passing car; there’s simply not enough information to make an informed guess.

It also doesn’t say whether he was wearing a helmet. However, a relatively slow speed fall like this appears to have been exactly the sort of impact bike helmets were design to protect against.

This is the 19th cyclist killed in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Los Angeles County; this is also the third fatality this year resulting from an apparent solo fall.

My prayers to the victim and his loved ones.

Update: The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that the victim has been identified as 47-year old Louis H. Esparza of La Puente, and identifies the location as unincorporated Bassett in L.A. County. According to the paper, he was riding east on the sidewalk when he somehow hit a raised metal mailbox and fell into the street, sliding forward and striking his head on the curb.

And no, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. In this case, it may have cost Esparza his life. 

Review: great looking — and very comfortable — retro-styled bike jerseys from Solo

Solo Classique jerseys offer retro club styling combined with modern fabrics and detailing.

I’m old enough to remember jerseys like this the first time around.

Except they never looked this good. Or felt quite as comfortable.

Awhile back, I was approached by a representative of Solo cyclewear and asked if I’d like to review one of their Classique Jerseys. It seems the company, which has made a reputation for itself in New Zealand, was preparing to enter the U.S. market and wanted to know if I thought American cyclists would like their retro-styled, race-based cycling jerseys as well.

Make that a yes.

Their designs offer a colorful throwback to the riding styles of the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Think something the Cannibal might have worn. Or Eddy wannabees, anyway.

Like the styles I saw riders wearing as I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. And which were still in fashion when I got back on my bike in the early 80’s.

One small downside — washing instructions call for hand washing and cool dryer; I prefer to just let it drip dry overnight.

In other words, I wore jerseys like the ones Solo sells when they weren’t throwbacks.

Except this time around, they’re made from with Nuovotech polyester, which means the fit is better, the colors brighter. And they offer far better moisture-wicking properties than the early polypro jerseys I wore back in the day.

A built-in anti-microbial treatment means they smell a lot better, too.

So a few weeks later, a package came in the mail. And the next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the mirror, looking at a retro-style top so realistic I almost expected to see a much younger me staring back.

Of course, the key to bikewear is how it rides on the road, not how it looks in the bathroom mirror.

And yes, it rode beautifully.

The fit was comfortably close, but not tight. Even under the breeziest conditions, there was only the slightest bit of wind-resistant rippling of the fabric. And that could probably have been eliminated with a few more trips to the gym.

In fact, the jersey felt comfortable under almost every condition and position, from a warm, sunny day to chilly morning, riding upright or tucked tightly in the drops. Even with an under layer, there wasn’t the slightest bit of pulling or stretching. Most of the time, I barely noticed I was wearing it — if I noticed it at all.

The only time it felt the least bit uncomfortable was when I was riding through a heavy wet fog along the beach, and the damp fabric got a little clingy on my back. Then again, I’m not sure anything would have worked any better under those conditions.

Small zip pocket to secure valuables; I use it for emergency contact numbers and my Madonna del Ghisallo medal.

Then there were the little details I loved.

Like the three deep, roomy pockets in back, with elastic on top of each to keep whatever you stuff in there safely in place; something you wouldn’t have found on many jerseys like this the first time around.

And the small extra zippered pocket, perfect for holding anything you want to keep safe and secure, like your ID, cell phone, music player or a little emergency cash.

Then there’s the woven cuff on the arms and neck to keep the draft at bay.

Unlike my other jerseys, there was never a problem with wind blowing up my sleeves. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s feeling an updraft in my pits.

Or maybe a downdraft on my neck that I can’t seem to block. And yes, the cuffed collar zipped up snuggly, successfully blocking the wind and keeping my neck and shoulders warm.

The woven cuff is more than a style detail — it effectively blocks any draft up your sleeves.

Then there’s the appearance, which I judge in two ways.

The first is visibility, which it passed beautifully.

Riding on city streets, it’s easy enough to tell if drivers can see you, based on the number of close calls I experience.

For instance, I have a great looking blue jersey I call my cloak of invisibility because no one seems to see me when I wear it. The high number of close passes and near misses suggest it makes me blend into the urban background.

On that count, this Solo jersey performed beautifully. I’ve yet to have a single close call wearing it, which tells me it really stands out on busy L.A. streets.

And visibility means getting home in one piece.

On the other, I was a little disappointed.

Despite the attractive retro styling and its unique blend of bright red and pastel blue colors, no one seemed to take much notice. I thought I might get a comment or two from other riders or people passing by, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Maybe next time.

Because any jersey that feels and looks this good will be worn a lot. And there will be a lot of next times.

………

Solo offers more than just retro cycling jerseys. You’ll also find a full line of urban cyclewear, as well as bib shorts and gilets — or riding vests, to you and me.

Then there’s my favorite piece in their line, which would look great over my new riding jeans.

………

One final note.

Solo has made a special offer for readers of BikingInLA. Just buy Solo Classique Jersey through their website, and enter the code GILET50 to get a Solo Equip Gilet for $49.50 — half off the regular price of $99.

Don’t wait, though.

This offer is only good through the end of this month.

No, really. I’m smiling on the inside.

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