Archive for August 22, 2012

Two big bike races at once, a perfect example of press anti-bike bias, and a whole lot of link love

It can’t be Wednesday already, can it?

The week’s halfway over, so weekend riders can start looking forward to their next ride, while those of us who ride during the week can finally enjoy some cooler temperatures.

And everyone can limber up their clicking fingers and settle in for some serious bike links.

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Sounds like a great race is going on overseas, as Valverde holds off the newly reinstated Contador for a stage victory in the Vuelta.

Meanwhile, BMC’s Tejay van Garderen takes the leader’s jersey to go along with his stage two victory in the USA Pro Challenge; great to see the next generation of pro cyclists stepping up to the podium.

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In a highly biased story, police won’t file charges against a group of cyclists who struck a driver’s car and shouted obscenities when she merely tapped her horn at them. However, the original story notes a broken mirror and dents on the passenger side, which might give an explanation for the riders reaction if they resulted from getting Jerry Browned by a sideswiping driver.

Then again, this sort of bizarre narrative in which a wholly innocent driver is assaulted by a group of crazed cyclists never ceases to astound me. You’d think someone — anyone — would question why the riders reacted that way, but too often, no one ever does.

Thanks to Bill Strickland and LadyFleur for the links.

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City of Lights shows how to install bike racks. L.A.’s Pure Fix Cycles introduces a $399 glow-in-the-dark fixie. Just when the Ballona Creek bike path finally reopens after construction work in Culver City, it will shut down again for maintenance work between National and Overland. Wolfpack Hustle sponsors a ride to the opening of Premium Rush this Friday. A salmon cyclist is seriously injured in a Baldwin Park collision, though it’s far more likely that it was the cyclist, and not the bike, that collided with the driver’s windshield; thanks to Witch on a Bicycle for the link. Boy on a Bike embraces his inner bike geek and gets a mirror. Registration is open for the National Women’s Bicycling Summit in Long Beach next month.

Orange County authorities are cracking down on drunk drivers. Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch looks at California’s proposed three-foot passing law. A San Diego writer explains sharrows to the chronically clueless; despite the hateful tone, he gets it mostly right. San Diego State University works to become a bike-friendly campus. S.D. police are looking for a bike path groper. Paso Robles considers becoming a bike-friendly city. Confusing signage leads a bike path rider onto the Facebook campus where he’s hit by a car. San Jose sets out to build the Bay Area’s most bike-friendly downtown; something L.A. can and should do down here. A Rancho Cordova teenager is dragged 50 feet after a car hits his bike, suffering life-threatening injuries; once again, all blame falls on the victim — who can’t speak for himself — for riding into traffic. A Lodi flautist rides solo across country. How Santa Rosa police tracked down the hit-and-run driver who ran down a cyclist on a golf course.

The founder of Bikes Belong has passed away from cancer; one of the few things I hate more than dangerous drivers. NPR explores ghost bikes. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske looks at the newly available bike insurance. When you’re on a bike, the direct route is seldom the best route. Despite a confession from the driver, AZ police still haven’t filed charges in a hit-and-run that left a cyclist severely injured and the suspect vehicle torched in the desert. After a Utah cyclist is killed, apparently auto-centric police want to know why he was riding a bike, let alone at that early hour. You know you’re a bike-friendly community when even the bank robbers get away by bike. Attention guys: cyclists — especially women cyclists — really don’t need your unsolicited advice. A 10-year old Michigan boy rides his bike wearing just his underwear to get help for his highly allergic father after he’s stung by bees (I originally wrote he rode his bike in his underwear; thanks to Joe Linton for questioning how he got his bike in there). Two-thirds of New Yorkers say bike lanes are a good thing. Even red solo cups can be enough to separate a bikeway. Gossip Girl star Blake Lively bikes beautifully in NYC. Fewer bike collisions on Hilton Head island.

The former Attorney General of Ontario CA — no, the other one — who killed cyclist Darcy Allen Sheppard as the victim clung to his car has written a book to tell his side of the story, but the victim’s father doesn’t approve; no matter how hard the incident was on the AG, I suspect it was a lot worse for the guy he killed. A British cyclist clips a traffic cone, and falls beneath a tailgating 17-ton truck; in case anyone ever wondered why drivers need to give us some space, that’s why. UK cyclist fakes a fall to distract driver while partner steals from her car. A Glasgow cyclist is stabbed in the neck after stopping to speak with an apparent stranger.

Finally, a Denver hit-and-run driver claims he thought he hit a dog when he killed a cyclist — even though he dragged the victim’s bike under his car for several blocks.

Call me crazy, but I think all the sparks and grinding of the bike underneath his car should have tipped him off. And I don’t know many dogs who ride a bike.

An open letter to the Expo Line Board of Directors

Maybe I just don’t understand the planning process.

It was my understanding that the Bicycle Advisory Committee for the new Expo Line extension was formed to get the input of knowledgeable bike riders prior to construction, in order to develop a safe, separated bike route stretching from the beach to Downtown to encourage more people to leave their cars at home.

I didn’t realize that it was just an attempt at greenwashing. Or that the apparent purpose in forming the Expo BAC was simply to placate the bicycling community while dangerous, cost-cutting designs were forced through by those charged with planning and building the bikeway.

At least, that’s how it looks right now.

Members of the Expo BAC have complained both publicly and privately that their input has been ignored, and that corners are being cut in a rush to complete the designs and speed up construction. And that as a result, dangerous design flaws are being incorporated into the plans that will put riders at risk and discourage usage — ensuring the expensive failure of what has long been one of the county’s most anticipated bikeways, and which, if designed properly, should be one of the most heavily used.

I implore you use your authority to step in and slow down the process, and require that those charged with designing and building the Expo line extension and its associated bikeway listen to the bicycling experts you yourself appointed, and work with them to incorporate their suggestions.

The success of this project — and the safety of those who use it — depends on it.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
Bikinginla.com

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Tyler Farrar takes stage one of Colorado’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, as Levi Leipheimer defends his title. The Denver Post asks why not let the peloton ride through the famous Tour of the Moon course through Colorado National Monument.

Meanwhile, the uglier side of cycling rears up once again as the judge dismisses Lance’s case against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

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Planning begins for a CicLAvia to the shore. The Los Angeles bike parking map is now available online. Once again, Beverly Hills goes for the short-term money, rather than open up the city for bikes and pedestrians. A Baldwin Park cyclist is injured after reportedly riding into traffic; funny how often cyclists are blamed after they’ve been taken from the scene by ambulance. CLR Effect, aka the former Claremont Cyclist, reminds riders to contact their Assembly Members prior to Friday’s vote on the state’s proposed three-foot passing law; Better Bike urges you to help make safe passing a reality here. Long Beach considers signing up with Bike Nation.

Orange County will spend $9 million to install 28 miles of new bikeways. Former World Champion OC cyclist Mark Hoffenberg still wears the rainbow bands on the podium. A 16-year old San Diego girl rides her bike to the hospital after being stabbed in a fight. A bicyclist hit by an Imperial County Irrigation District meter reader reportedly came out of nowhere, riding on the wrong side of the street. Sunnyvale becomes the latest city to adopt L.A.’s groundbreaking anti-harassment ordinance. A commenter first says cyclists need to obey the law, then says the law has to be changed when others point out what he’s complaining about isn’t actually against the law; thanks to former LADOT Bike Blogger Christopher Kidd for the heads-up. Neighbors say the 81-year old road raging motorist who drove onto a golf course to run down a cyclist is a nice, non-testy individual and say the rider must have had it coming; a writer says it’s time to change the conversation. A 75-year old Burlingame cyclist is killed after swerving into a  truck passing from behind — something many cyclists would recognize as a possible reaction to a too-close pass.

If you’re afraid to ride, try riding in ways that don’t terrify you at first. Too many people are dying on the streets of Las Vegas, the sixth most dangerous metro area in the U.S. Bikeyface suggests better urban planning. Seventy-nine year old Willie Nelson cancels a Colorado show, in part, due to a bicycling accident. A brief list of rules for riding in my hometown. Another day, another pedestrian injured by a New York cyclist. A Pittsburgh paper says cyclists aren’t always to blame in collisions; in fact, riders are only responsible for about half. A Tampa Bay cyclist collides with a crossing guard trying to avoid a motor vehicle collision.

Bicycling asks the Cannibal what made him the greatest cyclist of all time. Yet another list of the top 10 bike-friendly cities around the world — and once again, only one is in the U.S. ER docs think an injured Calgary cyclist suffered a stroke until GPS data shows he was the victim of hit-and-run. In just a tiny overreaction, a London cyclist spends a night in jail for riding in a no-biking zone. A London police office went airborne while driving at twice the speed limit before hitting a cyclist. A UK auto magazine says three-quarters of cyclists break the law — but cites offenses that aren’t against the law. An Aussie nurse saves a severely injured cyclist from an internal decapitation.

Finally, Town Mouse buys a Paper Bike for her Mum.

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On a personal note, thanks to Bike and Hike LA for renting a bike to my 15-year old nephew from Colorado last week. After a highly enjoyable ride on along the beach, I think he’s even more committed to becoming an Angeleno at the earliest opportunity.

And I learned that it is in fact possible to have a good time while riding slowly.

Who knew?

Urgent action needed on Expo bikeway and Beverly Hills; more breaking news on the legal front

Big news on the legal front to start your week.

Along with a call for urgent action on the Expo Bikeway, and to fight hit-and-run in the seemingly heartless biking black hole of Beverly Hills.

As well as your chance to be an ambassador for bicycling in your own neighborhood.

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Let’s start with the long-awaited Expo Line bikeway, which appears to be rapidly turning into a train wreck for Westside cyclists.

Expo Bicycle Advisory Committee member Damien Newton offers a detailed background on just how and why the plan is riding off the rails. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about the safety of cyclists on our streets.

Which is where cyclists will end up when the planned bikeway forces them onto dangerous crossings. Or when they avoid the bikeway entirely because they feel safer on busy high-speed streets than on a badly designed, rushed and corner-cutting bikeway.

Fortunately, you still have a chance to put your foot down and demand the Expo Line Authority start listening to the BAC they appointed, rather dictating bad design from above.

The LACBC is calling for concerned cyclists — and yes, you should be very concerned — to attend the next Expo BAC meeting at 8 am tomorrow at the Skanska-Rados Joint Venture Field Office, on the 3rd floor at 11390 W. Olympic Blvd.

If you can’t make it, they — and I — urge you to email the list of Expo Directors on their website today to demand a safer bikeway from Downtown to Santa Monica. They also provide a sample email you can use as a template.

It will only take you a few minutes to write and send an email.

And the bikeway you save could be your own.

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Meanwhile, Don Ward, aka Roadblock, calls on cyclists to attend the next Beverly Hills City Council session on Thursday to demand an end to their local — and hopefully unofficial —policy of letting hit-and-run drivers off the hook without even the slap on the wrist they get in most jurisdictions.

Ward points out a recent case in which a cyclist was severely injured, and the driver actually came forward to confess. Yet the case was so badly bungled by local authorities that no charges were ever filed.

According to Beverly Hills PD a break came the next day when the alleged driver, Victoria Chin, phoned in to confess her crime. Detectives arranged for her to turn herself in that day. They requested she bring the car in as well. This is where things apparently got complicated for the Beverly Hills Detectives. After flaking on her first appointment, Chin showed up the following day along with a lawyer but without her car. Beverly Hills Detectives acknowledge that they failed to process her confession and they sent her home without booking or arresting her.

Months later, citing issues not fully understood, the case was declined by District Attorney Steven Katz. Katz claims that since there was no car in custody, and the woman confessed on the phone and not in person, there was not enough evidence to move forward with a case. Questions arise of whether this is an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern of Beverly Hills apathy towards cyclists… Paul was not the first hit and run victim in recent memory to be denied justice by the city.

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Brett Morin, the other driver charged in the road racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, has accepted a peal deal. He’s scheduled for sentencing on October 3rd; considering the gift of a sentence given the driver who actually killed Alvarado, don’t expect more than a slightly harsh caress of the wrist.

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Our anonymous Orange County source reports that we finally have convictions in the case of two allegedly drunk Huntington Beach speed racers who flew off the road, critically injuring a cyclist riding on the beachfront bike path.

Yes, even separated bikeways aren’t safe from speed-crazed Southern California drivers.

And yes, both have once again gotten off with a relative slap on the wrist — even if one appears to be a tough sentence for that particular judge.

Which says far more about our SoCal court system than we should be willing to tolerate.

Glenn Michael Moore & Michael Dennis Roach are the scumbags who were skunk drunk at half past eight on a Sunday morning and racing each other down PCH (can’t be late for church!!!) when they clipped each other.  Both speeding vehicles flew down an embankment.  Moore’s car slammed into Richard Lauwers as he rode his bike on the completely segregated beach bike path.  The next speeding vehicle on PCH was the responding ambulance.

Lauwers was having a nice quiet ride after a leisurely weekend breakfast at our famous Sugar Shack.  He would’ve been home in another twenty minutes.  Instead he ended up in the ICU, where he spent six days.

On Wednesday, Moore pleaded guilty to all counts against him.  He was sentenced to fines & restitution, one year in jail (stayed), three years of formal probation, and a  ”First Offender Alcohol Program.”  Oh, and his license was suspended for a year.  I can’t figure this one out, because I’m working with insufficient data here.  IF Moore was before Judge Adams, who generally presides over that particular courtroom and is lenient, AND had a good lawyer (and by all accounts his lawyer is very good), AND he doesn’t have an extensive rap sheet (he’s pretty clean in OC at least), then this is a surprisingly tough sentence.  It’s still insufficient, but it’s certainly on par for Judge Adams and our overtaxed justice system in general.

Meanwhile, Michael Dennis Roach appears to have three separate sentences for the single count of engaging in a speed contest with injuries to another: two sentences for 90 days in jail, and a third for 90 days of service in lieu thereof.  Also, three years of formal probation as well.  Dunno what this is about, but there’ll be further proceedings on the 28th. Also, the OCDA unearthed a DUI with property damage that Roach had committed in November 2001 (while driving on a suspended license, but never mind that); a second DUI within 10 years could have resulted in a stiffer sentence, but oddly, his DUI charge and its enhancement were dismissed.

Did I ever mention that I have a real problem with drivers who put everyone else at risk because they can’t keep their damn feet off the accelerator — let alone get behind the wheel when they’re drunk or stoned?

The good news is that Lauwers is okay, and back on his bike.

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The LACBC is offering a way to become more active as a bicycling advocate in your own neighborhood. And make a real difference where you live and ride.

The new Neighborhood Bike Ambassador program is designed to empower you to influence the implementation of the L.A. bike plan, as well as programs developed by the LACBC.

The first kick-off meeting takes place tonight in the Valley, followed by four others throughout the L.A. area over the next 10 days. The meetings — and the program itself — are open to everyone; you can sign up to be a Bike Ambassador here.

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Finally, a few other brief notes from the world of bicycling.

In a truly shocking case, a Santa Rosa driver takes his road rage off road, chasing a cyclist 100 yards onto a golf course before running him down with his car. The good news is, an arrest has been made; the bad news is, the 81-year old driver has done it at least twice before. And was still allowed to drive.

Thanks to Emily C for the heads-up.

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The schmuck who kidnapped and murdered Louisiana cyclist Mickey Shunick pleads guilty to first degree murder in her death, as well as that of another woman. Hopefully they’ll shove him so deep into the living hell that is Louisiana’s Angola Prison that he’ll never see the light of day again.

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Police may have solved the recent rash of Calnago thefts. The Orange County Bicycle Coalition reports hat two stolen Calnagos have been recovered when they were abondoned by the thieves outside an OC Dennys, and a third was recovered in a West Hollywood pawn shop through stolenbikeregistry.com.

No word yet on arrests in the case.

The L.A. Times offers a nice profile of Cypress Park’s Flying Pigeon bike shop and the eponymous Chinese bikes they love and sell.

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And a PA cyclist moons a couple in a passing car, then threatens them with his bike seat before crashing into a police cruiser.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

Cyclist killed in solo Mt. Washington fall

According to the L.A. Times, a bike rider lost his life descending a steep hill in the Mt. Washington area early Sunday morning.

The Times reports that 34-year old Los Angeles resident Jean Carlos Galaviz was riding south on Canon Crest Street near Avenue 45 around 3:45 am Sunday. Galaviz had just left a relative’s home when he failed to make a turn and crashed into the hillside; he died of abdominal injuries and internal bleeding at USC Medical Center.

Police do no believe any other vehicles were involved.

No word on whether his bike had lights, which might have helped him negotiate the turn in the darkness.

This is the 47th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Los Angeles County. Galaviz is the 10 rider to die in a solo fall this year; half of those have occurred in L.A. County.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Newly installed Fiji Way buffered bike lane already blocked by Friday

That didn’t take long.

Just two days after the new buffered bike lane on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey was completed, it was already blocked on Friday by a semi-trailer illegally parked in the bike lane — in an area that had been designated as a no-parking zone long before the lanes were even contemplated.

And close enough to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Marina station that they could undoubtedly see it just by looking their windows. Let alone drive right past it every time a squad car leaves the station.

So what good does it do to install bike lanes if authorities don’t care enough to keep people from parking in them?

If that’s the way it’s going to be, the county should have just saved the money. Because the only thing worse than no bike lane is one we can’t safely use.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

One of L.A. County’s most dangerous streets gets a little safer with buffered new bike lanes on Fiji Way

Just quick update on last week’s item about pending bike lanes on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey.

A ride down to the South Bay yesterday morning showed that nothing had been done on the street beyond the preliminary markings that had gone down earlier.

Yet by the time I rode back a few hours and many miles later, the street had been transformed into, if not a cyclists’ paradise, a much safer and more inviting connection between the Santa Monica and South Bay bike trails.

And turned what has been one of the area’s busiest — and most dangerous — bicycling thoroughfares into something that promises to be significantly safer.

As you can see from the video, a bike lane has been installed on the west/southbound side of the roadway, and the much hated, and probably illegal restriction to ride single file — which is unsupported by anything in California law — has been painted over.

Moving down to the turnaround at the end of the street, near the connection to the Ballona Creek bikeway, the road narrows to a single lane, with painted separators keeping motorists away from riders. And hopefully, reducing the risk of right hook collisions.

Continuing around the turnaround to the north/eastbound side of the street reveals a road diet for most of its length to Admiralty Way.

It was unclear yesterday whether the reduced roadway was being striped for a buffered bike lane, or if the county was planning to allow curbside parking, which had previously been banned, with door-zone bike lane alongside.

But a quick conversation with a member of the county road crew confirmed that cyclists will now enjoy a wide curbside bike lane with a comfortable buffer to the left — separating riders from the high speed, and often confused, drivers who have traditionally frequented the area. And that work on re-striping the street should be finished today.

Fiji Way has long been the missing link in the Marvin Braude bike trail, the name given the full length of the bikeway connection Palos Verdes with Pacific Palisades

As well as one of the most dangerous streets for cyclists, with multiple near-daily collisions as drivers entered or exited driveways without looking for riders first — like this one. Or brushed past or rear-ended riders on the previously unmarked street.

This should go a long way towards reducing those collisions, making what had been a needlessly risky ride much safer.

And it’s a high-profile improvement that shows the county may really be committed to improving conditions for cyclists.

Bike lanes and possible road diet on Fiji Way; split decision in Earl Cox Angeles Crest road rage case

Just a few quick notes to start the week before I either A) go out for the ride I’d planned, or B) succumb to the heat and follow the dog’s example by going back to sleep.

Right now, I’d say it could go either way.

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Evidently, the county is taking their new commitment to bike-friendliness seriously, as shown by the beefed-up bike plan recently adopted by county supervisors.

A recent ride through the Marina revealed that commitment is about to make its way onto the pavement, if it hasn’t already.

Riders who take the beachfront Marvin Bruade bike path, aka South Bay and Santa Monica bike paths, through Marina del Rey have long been frustrated by the condition of the bikeway through the County-owned lands.

As if the cracked and crumbling, tree-root upraised conditions of the off-road pathway weren’t bad enough, riders have had to deal with the on-road portion on Fiji Way leading from where the off-road pathway ends to where it connects with the Ballona Creek bike path — including a painted prohibition against side-by-side riding that’s unsupported by anything in state law.

And with a nearby sheriff station to ensure compliance, if they happened to have too much time on their hands.

But it looks like things are in the process of changing.

Initial markings have appeared on the pavement sketching the outlines of an apparent road diet on Fiji Way, reducing the over-wide traffic lanes that encouraged speeding by the few car that actually use that street, and installing bike lanes for the hundreds, if not thousands, of cyclists who ride the street every hour on sunny days.

It’s hard to tell yet, but it looks the road could be cut from four lanes to two in places, with bike lanes more than wide enough to be ridden two-abreast, and placed safely against the curb in a no parking zone. And definitely reduced at the turnaround, where riders have had to contend with lost tourists and right-turning locals for far too long.

You can see the markings for that section in the short video below.

But however it turns out, it looks like a big improvement is on its way soon.

……..

Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that Earl Cox has been convicted of simple assault in the Angeles Crest road rage case in which he was charged with yelling at three separate groups of riders, and deliberately swerving at two of them — all because he thought they were being rude by riding in the roadway and felt a need to teach them some manners. However, Cox was acquitted on the more serious charge of assault with a deadly weapon for using his car as a weapon. Sentencing is set for September 12th in Burbank; I wonder if he’ll get more time than Patrick Roraff got for actually killing Jorge Alvarado.

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition sends word that police are on the lookout for a high-end bike thief suspected of riding off with a pair of Colnagos from SoCal dealers.

An Iowa driver ran a stop sign, swerved and hit a cyclist, then backed up, got out of his car and threw the rider’s broken bike at him before punching and kicking him. Only after he evidently felt he had sufficiently assaulted the victim — by car, bike, fist and foot — did he flee the scene. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

Sam Ollinger of the must-read Bike SD sends word of a tragic man-bites-dog twist in the seemingly endless reports of bike collisions, as a car overturns after striking and slightly injuring a cyclist, killing the driver. I’m grateful the cyclist survived relatively intact, but sad that anyone has to die on our streets.

Improvements are underway on Jefferson Blvd in Culver City at the notorious stretch where an allegedly drunk and/or distracted Christine Dahab plowed into a group of late night riders, injuring 13 — some severely. The road will now include five-foot wide door-zone bike lanes from Duquesne Ave to Higuera Street, as well as bike parking and improved access to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Thanks to Dan Mick for the link.

Finally, I’m booked in the morning, but anyone who can get to Van Nuys Tuesday morning should consider attending an L.A. Planning Department hearing on the proposed expansion of Universal Studios. As you may be aware, Universal is planning a dramatic expansion of their theme park property, including a left coast version of their popular Harry Potter park in Orlando FL. The problem is, the company has consistently blocked expansion of the L.A River bike path along their property while proposing a crazy-quilt alternative virtually guaranteed to keep cyclists away. As far as I’m concerned, alternate routes are great in that biking-infrastructure-starved part of town, But they’ll have to build their park over my dead body unless they agree to extend the bike path along the river as a condition of approval — and pay for it, for that matter, just for being such jerks about it. The meeting takes place in the Council Chambers at Van Nuys City Hall starting at 9:30 am.

And yes, you can quote me on that.

Salmon cyclist killed in early morning Simi Valley collision; possible Riverside bike rider fatally shot

Just when it looked like we might make it through a single week without another cyclist getting killed — which would have made it the first fatality-free week in the last 11 — comes word that two riders have died in the last two days.

One by truck. One by gun.

………

A 62-year old Simi Valley man died in a Thousand Oaks hospital less than an hour after he was hit by a semi-truck while riding the wrong way on a darkened street.

According to the Ventura County Star, Trinidad Nava was riding south in the north-bound side of First Street at Easy Street in Simi Valley around 4:35 am Friday, when a big rig truck made a right turn out of a driveway and hit Nava head-on; KTVA radio says the truck was leaving a car dealership.

The paper reports he was riding without lights despite the early hour; Nava was declared dead of blunt force trauma at 5:30 am.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, stayed at the scene and tried to help him.

The Star notes that the crash occurred just blocks from where the Simi Valley City Council recently rejected proposed bike lanes on Los Angeles Avenue at the urging of local business owners; however, even if they had been approved, they would not have made a difference in this case.

What might have helped is better education and outreach.

Many cyclists who learned to ride in Central American countries were taught to ride facing traffic, rather than with traffic; some Americans were taught the same thing, especially those who started riding as children in the 50s and 60s. Yet riding against traffic greatly increases risk to riders by placing them where drivers aren’t looking for them, while reducing reaction times and increasing the force of impact.

At the same time, outreach programs, such as the LACBC’s former City of Lights program, have worked to provide lights to riders who may not understand the need for them or have the money to buy them. I don’t know if such a program exists in Ventura County.

Either way, it’s too late to help Navi.

This is the 45th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Ventura County, following the death of Guadalupe Cruz in Fillmore this June; Cruz was reportedly riding on the wrong side of the street, as well.

My sympathy and prayers for Navi and his loved ones. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

………

Riverside police report that a man has died after being found suffering from gunshot wounds on Wednesday; the Southwest Riverside News Network says that he was found next to a bicycle.

Thirty-seven-year old Riverside resident Rene Barrientos Corona was found at Arlington Avenue near Fairhaven Drive in the La Sierra Hills neighborhood when police responded to a report of a man down and bleeding in the street.

Police initially thought he had been hit by a car before medical personnel determined that he had been shot; Corona died at a local hospital the following night.

There’s no indication whether he was riding the bike or walking it at the time of the shooting; it’s possible that the bike wasn’t even his. However, the presence of the bike and the fact that police assumed he’d been hit by a car would suggest it was.

Witnesses said a dark, four-door vehicle with a spoiler on the back sped away from the area where Corona was found. Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Ron Sanfilippo at 951-353-7105 or Detective Rick Cobb at 951-353-7135.

Corona is the third bike rider to be killed by gunfire in Southern California this year, compared to nine last year.

My prayers for Corona and his family.

Failed justice — alleged street racing killer of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado gets off with just 90 days in jail

Pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, a victim of our streets. And our legal system.

Sorry Jorge.

America let you down.

Or more precisely, San Bernardino County let you down, along with a court system that inexplicably denied you the justice you deserved.

You came to this country to live out your dream of becoming a professional cyclist. We sent you back in a coffin, the victim of two then-high school students who couldn’t manage to keep their feet off the gas pedal.

And then let the driver who killed you off with the barest slap on the wrist, as if your all-to-brief life had no meaning or value.

Less time than he might have gotten for killing a dog, in fact.

A lot less.

It was over two years ago, in April, 2010, that you were riding on Greenspot Road in Highland, just north of San Bernardino, training for your new role as a rider for the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team, founded by Compton’s own former national crit champion Raahsaan Bahati.

It was your big break.

A chance to prove yourself as a rising rider on a new pro team with a then-promising future.

You had no way of knowing, as you rode along that country road, that your dream would end at age 27, in the field on your right.

Maybe you reacted to those cars zooming towards you. driving far too fast. You probably saw one try to pass the other at around 80 mph, and watched in horror as the other driver cut hard to the left to keep him from passing. That sent the first car, driven by Patrick Roraff, back to the right, where he hit the shoulder and lost control, skidding across the road directly into you.

You probably hit your brakes and tried to swerve.

But it was too late.

At that speed, nothing you did or might have done would have made any difference.

I wonder if you muttered an obscenity as you saw the situation unfold. Or did you whisper one last prayer, or the name of a loved one just before the out-of-control car barreled into you, slamming you into the bushes on your right?

Were you aware of what was happening? Did you know you were dying there alone on the side of the road, thousands of miles from the people you loved?

Or did you slip mercifully into oblivion, a loss of consciousness masking the pain from your broken body?

The young men who took your life were arrested, and eventually, charged with your murder.

But that’s where the wheels of justice seemed to slowly slip off the tracks.

The long wait for charges to be filed combined with endless legal delays to push any promise of justice back time and again.

Meanwhile, Roraff and co-defendant Brett Michael Morin, who was driving the other car, were able to graduate from Redlands East Valley High School. And even with a pending homicide charge, Roraff remained the star of his high school soccer team, and went on to play soccer at the University of Redlands. Perhaps foreshadowing the leniency to come, the judge even gave permission for him to travel to Texas with his team.

God forbid that killing another person should be enough to negatively impact someone’s athletic career.

Even though yours ended that day at Roraff’s hands.

To be fair, he did say he was sorry.

It looked, ever so briefly, like you were going to get the justice you deserved when Patrick Roraff finally changed his plea to guilty. Given the seriousness of the charges — felony vehicular homicide with gross negligence and a serious felon enhancement — he should have faced serious prison time.

But he doesn’t.

Instead, the judge imposed a sentence that is far closer to a pat on the back than a slap on the wrist.

Roraff was sentenced on Monday to just 90 days in jail, with three years probation, along with community service.

Ninety lousy days. And probably a lot less than that, given this state’s over-crowded jails.

That’s less that three months for what was initially described as an illegal street race  — a felony in the state of California, by the way, for which neither driver was charged — resulting in a man’s death.

And let’s be clear. This was not an accident.

Your death was the entirely foreseeable consequence of a conscious decision to use two potentially deadly motor vehicles as oversized Hot Wheels toys.

You were just collateral damage.

The court used this case to send a message — that killing another human being while recklessly endangering the public is no big deal.

So go ahead and do whatever the hell you want on the roads, because there won’t be any serious consequences.

Especially if you have athletic skills, evidently.

They might as well have thrown Roraff a party for decreasing the excess cyclist population in the county.

It matters.

Not just because you were denied the justice you so richly deserved. But because cyclists are vulnerable on the streets, subject to the whims and careless actions of those with whom we share them.

It’s the protection we receive from the police and courts — or don’t — that dictates whether those streets will be survivable. And on that count, this court failed us miserably, putting every cyclist at greater risk.

Maybe Roraff is deserving of a second chance. But by failing to give him the sort of sentence his crime called for, the legal system missed an opportunity to show things like this can’t, and won’t, be tolerated.

And making it that much more likely that it will happen again.

There’s no word on when Roraff will begin his sentence.

It’s possible that his jail time may be delayed so he can compete again this season. If not, he’ll do his time, and be free to play again; maybe even transferring to a larger school now that this is no longer hanging over his head.

Why he received this gift from the court, I have no idea. I could speculate, but it would be nothing but a guess.

And not a pretty one, at that.

The sudden guilty plea suggests that this may have been a plea bargain. If so, I would question whether any District Attorney who signed off on a deal like this is fit to remain in office.

If not, I hope local voters will keep this case in mind when the judge comes up for reelection.

And why Roraff’s co-defendant continues to fight his charges when he could get a sweet deal like this is beyond me.

Maybe he’s not a star athlete.

To say I’m disgusted is to put it mildly.

I’m sorry, Jorge Alvarado.

We failed you.

You deserved better. You deserved justice.

But like far too many people who needlessly die while riding a bike, you’re not going to get it.

And absolutely nothing about this case will keep it from happening again.

……..

Update: Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels fills in some of the blanks in this case.

According to information on the website for the San Bernardino County Superior Court, the sentence was imposed by judge William Jefferson Powell, who was appointed to the court by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

Roraff was sentenced to 90 days in county jail, and taken into custody immediately after the hearing. Which means he should be back on the streets by early November at the latest, followed by three years of supervised probation; the judge also ordered his license revoked for a period to be determined by the DMV. 

And Roraff was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, half of which must involve discussion of the dangers of reckless driving. 

The terms of his probation also prohibit the possession of deadly weapons; in his case, maybe that should include motor vehicles.

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