A little this, a little that — Expo bikeway heads off the rails, Long Beach writer gets it mostly all wrong

I’ve been hearing a number of reports that the westward extension of the Expo Line bikeway is rapidly going off the rails.

Instead of prudently incorporating a safe, separated cycling facility along the full route, word is that Metro and LADOT are cutting corners and giving riders short shrift — including those recruited to serve on the line’s Bicycle Advisory Board, who complain that no one seems to be listening to them.

Which begs the question, why have an advisory board if you’re not going to listen to their advice?

This bikeway has long been a dream for riders who are desperate for a safe, efficient route between Downtown and the Westside.

But despite repeated promises in recent years, it sounds like we may have to keep dreaming.

………

Once upon a time, journalists had standards.

Or so I’m told.

Writers — even columnists — were expected to get the facts straight before they went to press. And editors were expected to hold their feet to the fire to ensure that every item in the paper was as accurate as possible.

Seems like a long time ago, in that golden age before the current revenue crunch caused most papers to lay off too many of their editors. And allowing the few remaining writers to slip their erroneous flights of fancy onto newsprint and online without being challenged.

Then again, some papers never did have standards.

I’m not sure which case applies here.

Tim Grobaty, a columnist with the Long Beach Press-Telegram — who surely should know better, given the city he works in — could have gotten it right with just a little research. But apparently didn’t bother.

All it would have taken is a simple trip to the DMV website, where he would have learned that cyclists are expected to use left turn lanes. And which took me roughly 10 seconds to find via Google.

Instead, he offers the following advice.

1. Bicycles aren’t cars. Don’t act like you’re driving one by tying up the left-turn lane. Conversely, bicycles are cars. Don’t pedal through stop signs.

At least he gets the last part right.

Somehow, though, I manage to get through left turn lanes on my bike just as fast as the drivers in front or behind me, if not faster. So how, exactly, am I tying up anything?

He also instructs cyclists not to employ the common courtesy of calling out “On the left” when passing pedestrians, because it confuses him.

Maybe he should carry a pebble in his left hand when he walks to avoid stepping in the wrong direction.

One of the biggest complaints from pedestrians is that they don’t get any warning when riders are about to pass. But evidently, Grobaty would rather see cyclists refrain from offering walkers a verbal warnings, and is willing to accept the inevitable increase in collisions between bikes and pedestrians that would result, as if there aren’t too many already.

And yes, bike bells are friendlier.

But they don’t give walkers or slower riders any idea whether they should move right, left, go straight or levitate the hell out of the way.

All they tell you is that a bike is nearby.

And that an angel just got its wings.

Of course, it’s not just Grobaty.

We live in a society where the voices of those with little knowledge of a given subject carry as much weight as those who actually know what they’re talking about. Especially if they have their own TV or radio show.

Or newspaper column.

And don’t even get me started on the royal we Grobaty uses. Unless he has multiple personalities, in which case I owe him an apology.

Of course, the main point in his column is that Long Beach has spent $20 million on making the city safer and more inviting for bicyclists, and that retailers are starting to see a return on that investment as sales from cyclists increase. But people who drive to stores continue to spend more.

He’s right, of course. The overwhelming amount of retail sales continue to result from driven trips, even though numerous studies are starting to show the economic benefit of encouraging bicycling.

But he fails to consider the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested in streets and other infrastructure that allow people like him to drive a few blocks to the corner store.

And which is paid for in large part by every pedestrian, bicyclist and transit user, as well as drivers, whether or not they ever get behind the wheel.

Wake me when, or if, that ever gets repaid.

………

In a horrifying report, a 13-year old Milwaukee girl is charged with the hit-and-run death of a cyclist while street racing friends in a stolen car. A passenger in the car suggests she may have intentionally steered towards the bike rider, later laughing about it and saying he shouldn’t have been on the street.

………

Looks like LADOT hasn’t forgotten the Westside after all. Niall Huffman notes preliminary bike lane markings have gone down on Ohio between Bundy and Centinela, where the street becomes Broadway as it crosses into Santa Monica. And where they should join up with the Broadway bike lanes, providing a continuous route from Bundy to downtown Santa Monica.

………

LADOT Bike Blog looks at what the new Federal transportation plan means for local cyclists. Streetsblog’s Sahra suffers a cracked wrist jumping out of the way of an apparent drunk driver. A restored Tujunga Wash includes bike and walking paths. Support is growing for a NELA bike network. A bike ride will be held this Saturday to protest the coming Walmart in Chinatown; hopefully, they won’t attempt it on Walmart bikes. Flying Pigeon hosts the popular Get Sum Dim Sum ride this Sunday. The 4th Annual You’re Not Worthy Summer Century Ride rolls Sunday, August 25th. How to use bike racks on Metro buses. Better Bike says it’s time to hold Beverly Hills accountable when it’s not practicable to ride to the right on Santa Monica Blvd, even though parts of it are getting better; then again, they tried a patch job a couple years ago, and that only lasted a few months. Santa Monica allocates $164,000 for a planned Michigan Avenue Greenway connecting SaMo High with Bergamot Station. Manhattan Beach receives a nearly half-million dollar Safe Routes to Schools grant. Turns out I’ve been throwing bananas away when they reach their most healthful stage. More on the SoCal Colnago bike thief. The aptly named Hotter N’ Hell Mt. Baldy Hill Climb makes a comeback this Saturday,

San Diego cyclists get a new Whole Foods bike repair station; the city’s annual Midnight Madness ride rolls this weekend. Reducing the stress of riding across town. The latest version of California’s proposed three-foot passing law continues to move forward; Better Bike points out safe passing laws are literally all over the map. San Jose police decline to pursue a bike thief, even after he’s identified by the victim. Watsonville police warn cyclists about brakeless fixies following a serious crash. A 13-year old Sonoma cyclist faces a civil suit for running down and seriously injuring a 72-year old pedestrian; the city of Sonoma is also named for allowing bikes on the sidewalk. A boy scout on a bike tour through Fortuna finds fortune is not in his favor when he’s hit by a bus while crossing a freeway off ramp; sounds like the cyclist should have had the right-of-way since vehicles exiting a highway are required to merge safely, despite the biased press report.

Even Paralympic cyclists are doping now. According to the NHTSA, a pedestrian is killed in the US every 2 hours — with an injury every 8 minutes; but hey, it’s just an accident, right? Hats off to former framebuilder Dave Moulton for correctly calling our massive automotive infrastructure a waste of space, although I might quibble with his take on Olympic BMX racing. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske examines whether Strava can be held accountable for its members behavior. Five great American cities for cycling vacations; link courtesy of I Block the Bike Lane. Turns out my brother isn’t the only Iditarod musher to take up cycling. A Flagstaff paper appears to misunderstand a commonly misunderstood law regarding taking the lane. A Utah woman is critically injured trying to retrieve a bicycle than had fallen off her car on I-80. Rocky Mountain National Park considers opening a trail to mountain bikes. Former Angeleno Amanda Lipsey and her dog gear up for a week-long self-contained bike trip. West Texas cyclists don’t feel safe. Cyclists need better education, but let’s remember that the greatest threat to everyone on the road comes from motor vehicles. The founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works says Just Ride. A HuffPo writer says New York’s delayed bike share program will result in carnage once it opens. A prominent blind Detroit attorney is injured in a collision with a cyclist in New York’s Central Park — and he wasn’t the only one. A Washington writer says biking changed her life. A Florida cyclist is seriously injured in a hit-from-behind collision, but the driver isn’t expected to face charges.

Guadalajara businesses fund their own DIY bike share system; thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up. Six scandal ridden team jerseys you might want to avoid. A passing driver helps save the life of a cyclist after he’s stricken with a heart attack while riding, then leaves without taking credit. The UK’s success in Olympic cycling inspires Brits to take up riding and is making those cash registers ring. London cyclists may not get safe roads, but they are getting a two-day bike fest next year. Turns out that the highly reported increase in serious collisions after some UK cities cut speed limits to 20 mph resulted from a statistically meaningless jump from six incidents to seven. Dublin coroner calls for making helmets available with the city’s bike share. Former Northern Ireland Olympian Billy Kerr passes away at age 67. Olympic gold medal winner and former doper Alexandre Vinokourov calls it a career. Namibia riders call for a ciclovía of their own. Aussie pro cyclist Robbie Williams is killed in a solo fall as a result of an undisclosed medical condition. Melbourne bike lanes are being remade to reduce dooring.

Finally, it turns out that inflatable bike helmet that’s suddenly making all the news again was actually invented in the U.S. decades ago; thanks to Steve Herbert for the first link.

Personally, all this talk about a $600 single-use device brings out my inner cranky old man and makes me want to yell at them to get off my lawn. I’d rather see an actual helmet that can provide real protection beyond the current 12.5 mph standard — and one most cyclists can actually afford.

6 comments

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said except calling me a ‘former’ Angelino. There’s no such thing! Once an Angelino always an Angelino! Hahahahah!

  2. Alan Thompson says:

    I may be mistaken about the boy scout incident, but my read of the article is that the cyclist was riding on the freeway (legal on certain parts of the 101) and neglected to exit at the off-ramp. Judging by the article and a google map, I am inclined to believe that is what happened.

    For safety when traveling legally on a freeway, bicyclists should exit at each off-ramp and get back on via the on-ramp. At least that is what I was taught.

  3. Ed says:

    “….he should carry a pebble in his left hand…” rofl
    Thank you sir, may I have another….keyboard? well played!

  4. [...] Is Expo Bikeway Heading Off the Rails? (Biking In L.A.) [...]

  5. [...] probably read the action alert from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition or read the article on Biking In L.A. warning that things are not going smoothly for planning of the Expo Bikeway. As you might remember, [...]

  6. [...] – You’ve read about it here, at the LACBC blog and at Biking In L.A., and now it’s time for action. Join the Expo Bicycle Advisory Committee as they get updated [...]

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