Archive for February 28, 2013

Update — 21-year old bicyclist killed on campus of Cal Poly Pomona

News is just coming in that a bike rider was killed early this afternoon while riding on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona.

According to the San Bernardino County Sun, the 21-year old student was riding north on Kellogg Drive near South Campus Drive around 1 pm when he was struck by a southbound motorist; the victim has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin. The driver is also a student at the university.

The victim was transferred to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

No other details are available at this time.

However, judging by the photograph that accompanies the article, it looks as though the victim may have been riding against traffic, as the skid marks and debris appear to be confined to the southbound lane.

This is the sixth bike rider killed in Southern California this year, and the third in Los Angeles County. That compares with 10 deaths in SoCal this time last year.

My sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.

Update: The Cal Poly Pomona student newspaper has identified the victim as 21-year old communications student and Pomona resident Ivan Arturo Aguilar, putting the time of the collision at 12:45 pm.

“I think the whole campus is in mourning,” said Director of Public Affairs Uyen Mai. “Ivan was only 21 years old and was full of potential. It certainly feels like a tragic loss of life and we imagine his family and friends are going through an excruciating time. We want to share our deepest sympathies with his family and friends during this time.”

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the link.

Counseling is available for witnesses, as well as any other faculty, students or staff disturbed by the collision. The Polycentric website lists times for Friday. 

Meanwhile, CPP professor and bike blogger Boyonabike foresaw something like this, writing just last week about the very same street where today’s collision occurred. He calls for bike lanes, as well as road diets and stop signs — and greater enforcement — on the campus’ three main access roads.

In addition to bike lanes, other traffic calming strategies should be employed, insofar as many drivers reach speeds upwards of 45 mph on these roads (the posted speed limits are lower, but there is little traffic speed enforcement on these roads, and the wide lanes and lack of stop signs implicitly encourage speeding).  Near collisions are a regular occurrence, as I witnessed one recent weekday when a car traveling an estimated 40-plus mph nearly missed another car making a left turn in its path (see photo below).  The high speeds understandably deter people from bicycling on these roads, despite the fact that they are the most convenient routes to the main campus.

The full post is worth reading — especially by campus administrators, who could have done something to prevent this tragedy.

Unfortunately, his warning came too late for Aguilar. 

Maybe now they’ll listen, and do something to improve safety for everyone on campus before it happens again.

We can hope, anyway.

Update 2: Friends of Aguilar have set up a memorial Facebook page offering a number of photos, while a another remembers him as a good guy who was always there for his friends. 

CLR Effect notes that a memorial ride and ghost bike installation has been scheduled for next Thursday, March 7th — one week from the day and time Aguilar was killed — starting at 11:30 am.

Update 3: The Daily News remembers Aguilar as a role model who lit up a room when entered. 

Update 4: I’ve added a notation above that Ivan Aguilar was a resident of Pomona; I’m told his family is from Azuza. KNBC-4 reports on the grief felt by his friends and fellow students.

Chances are, riding a bike is a lot safer than you think — and just as fun

Let’s talk safety for a moment.

Or rather, the risk you face riding your bike on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Or wherever you happen to ride.

Because chances are, it’s a lot less dangerous than you might think.

Granted, it can look bad at times — especially if you read this blog on an irregular basis; I’ve long noticed that readership spikes whenever a bike rider gets killed or seriously injured.

That’s perfectly understandable. But that means you might miss the stories in between that talk about bike advocacy and improving infrastructure, as well as lists of links and the simple joys of just riding your bike.

Which I freely admit I don’t write about nearly enough.

So let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Riding a bike is fun.

Really fun.

Even a bad day on a bike is better than just about anything else I might do with that time; after a few hours — or sometimes, a few days — I forget about the few moments when something went wrong and remember just how good the rest of the ride felt.

Even when I have an encounter with an angry or dangerous driver, I try to forget the one or two jerks I had a problem with. And focus on the countless others who shared the road safely and, often, courteously.

Yes, bad things can happen on a bike.

Unlike drivers, we don’t have glass and steel plating to protect us. Or seat belts, air bags and crumple zones, for that matter.

Our crumple zones are our own bodies.

And we have nothing more than a helmet to protect us, if that.

On the other hand, we also have much greater maneuverability than those lumbering metal behemoths we share the road with. And can often avoid collisions that would be inevitable if we were behind the wheel.

It may seem counterintuitive, but you actually have a much lower risk of dying on a bike than you do in a car. In fact, you’re 15 times more likely to die in a car collision over the course of your lifetime than you are on a bike.

Even accounting for relative time in the saddle and behind the wheel, your risk of dying in a car is nearly twice as much as on a bike.

And neither one begins to approach the risks of sitting on your couch and doing nothing.

Surprisingly enough, Los Angeles is a pretty safe place to ride, as well. The city has seen five bicycling fatalities in each of the last two years, while the county averages 24 bike deaths per year.

That may sound like a lot, but it works out to just one cycling death per 750,000 and 400,000 residents, respectively. Which makes the area significantly safer than Orange and San Diego Counties, with one death per every 230,000 and 250,000 residents, respectively.

Granted, even one death is one too many.

But given that the city cites over 400,000 regular riders in Los Angeles — and climbing rapidly — your odds of surviving your next ride, and every ride after that, are pretty damn good.

Looking at it another way, I once read a study which said regular cyclists — that’s regular as in frequent, not ordinary or non-constipated — could expect an injury serious enough to require medical attention once every 8.3 years.

Which puts me right on course, with four trips to the ER in 32 years of adult riding.

And only one of those involved an automobile. Which is exactly the same number involving freak encounters with massive swarms of bees.

Better yet, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury just by taking a few simple precautions.

  • Always ride within your own abilities. Yes, it’s fun to push your limits, but riding on the edge is where most injuries happen.
  • Avoid the door zone. Ride at least three feet from parked cars and watch for people inside, open doors or brake lights that could indicate trouble.
  • Ride defensively. Assume that anyone you see on the road will do exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, and mentally prepare for it. If they do, you’re ready; if not, you’re no worse off.
  • Always ride with traffic. Drivers aren’t looking for you coming at them, and salmon cycling reduces reaction times and increases the force of any impact.
  • Signal your turns. Even though many, if not most, drivers don’t these days, they expect you to; predictability of movement is key to safe riding in any situation.
  • Use other hand gestures, as well. No, not that one. Point slightly to your left if you’re coming into the traffic lane, or point straight ahead if you’re going through an intersection to keep cars from turning. And if there’s any confusion, waive drivers through ahead of you — it’s a lot better than getting hit.
  • Always observe the right of way. The first vehicle at an intersection goes first, those going straight go before any turning left, and in the event of a tie, the one on the right goes first. It may mean stopping to let a driver go ahead of you, but isn’t your safety worth a few extra seconds?
  • Stop for stop signs and red lights. Yes, it’s inconvenient and requires more effort. But riders blowing through signals is one of the primary causes of preventable collisions. And just about all collisions are preventable.
  • If you use hand brakes, practice braking with your back brakes a fraction of a second before you squeeze the front one, until it becomes second nature. That will keep you from going over your handlebars, which I’ve done too many times.
  • Learn to turn by shifting your body weight instead of using the handlebars. Once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier, natural and more responsive, especially at speed, and allows you to swerve quickly to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Practice sprinting at a higher cadence. Even if you’ll never race, sprinting skills can help you get out of a dangerous situation before it sucks you in. I’ve probably avoided as many collisions by sprinting out of the way as I have by braking.
  • Wear a helmet. Yes, I know all the arguments against helmet use, as well as their limitations. And in 32 years of riding, I’ve only needed mine once. But that one time could have made my wife a widow if I’d been without it.
  • Use lights and reflectors after dark. The law requires a headlight and rear reflector, along with reflectors on both wheels. I use a flashing light up front, two blinkers in back and reflective strips on my wrists and ankles. Drivers can’t avoid you if they don’t know you’re there.
  • Wear clothes that contrast with your surroundings. Hi-viz isn’t necessary; bright colors, deep blacks and whites stand out from the surrounding environment on during the day, while light colors stand out at night. Avoid dull blacks, blues and grays, especially on cloudy days, since they blend in too easily.
  • If you don’t feel safe or confident on the streets, consider taking a Confident City Cycling or Savvy Cycling course. It doesn’t mean you have to turn into a rabid vehicular cyclist, but it helps to have the skills to ride in any situation.

Unfortunately, bad things can happen on a bike.

And I’m going to keep writing about the bad things that happen on bikes, and to bike riders, until there aren’t any more to write about.

But until then, don’t let that scare you off your bike.

Because those bad things happen a lot less often than it might seem.

And with a little effort and skill, they probably won’t happen to you.

Update: A bloody reminder to watch the door zone

Just got this email from Jeffrey Nerdin:

FYI – There was a bike/auto accident in front of the Skirball Center on Sepulveda Boulevard around 9:00 this morning when a motorist stopped to let a passenger out of the car while in a lane of traffic (stopped either at a stoplight or in slow traffic). The passenger in the car opened his door into the bike lane and a cyclist hit the door, shattered the window and suffered (at least) significant cuts to his face. (I arrived after the cyclist had already been loaded on the stretcher and was headed to the ambulance, but I didn’t get the impression that his injuries were life-threatening.) I don’t know the cyclist, but I see him regularly as we both commute daily by bike along Sepulveda between Ventura Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard. If you have a chance, please warn motorists and pedestrians to be very careful when crossing over or into the bike lane, either by driving, walking, or opening a door into the lane, and cyclists to avoid riding any closer than necessary to a lane of traffic. You never know what might pop out in front of you.


Photos of the collision scene by Jeffrey Nerdin.

Unfortunately, as this incident shows, cyclists risk dooring from either side.

We train ourselves to ride at least three feet to the left of parked cars — and many experts recommend five to keep out of the reach of massive SUV doors — and to watch for the brake lights, drivers or passengers inside the car and partially open doors that could suggest a door may open or a vehicle could pull out into our path.

Yet we risk dooring from the vehicles moving on our left, as well.

In that case, we must depend on them to maintain a safe distance, and check their mirrors and blind spots before pulling over or allowing passengers to get out. Because few things are as dangerous or terrifying as having a door suddenly fling open in front of you when you’ve got nowhere to go.

And as CVC 22517 makes clear, hitting a bike rider with an open door, making a rider collide with an open door or causing a collision by forcing a rider to avoid a vehicle door is virtually always the motorist’s fault.

Even though they may try to blame you. Or you happen to be riding in Santa Monica.

As the writer suggests, drivers and pedestrians should always be on the lookout for bikes on the right of the roadway. And especially where there’s a bike lane, which should always suggest the presence of bike riders, just as a crosswalk implies the possible presence of pedestrians.

Because failing to do so can have needlessly tragic results.

Let’s hope the rider makes a full and fast recovery. And the right people are held accountable.

Update: I’ve credited Jeffrey Nerdin as the person who emailed me and took the photos above, after getting permission to use his name.

A comment below provides the identity of the victim, as well as a few more details:

Rider is Roland Sunga. He blacked out for about ten minutes. Passenger driver opened door to get out of vehicle. Roland was traveling 30 mph and flew 20 ft. No time to react and that means no time to tense up which he says saved his life. Very lucky as he rides Sepulveda daily. Thank you.

Four months after a bike rider was fatally injured in a hit-and-run, Redlands police say it never happened

Something smells a little fishy here.

Last week I wrote about a Redlands bike rider who tragically died months after she was critically injured in an October hit-and-run.

Laura Lee Jones was reportedly hit from behind by a car traveling at an estimated 45 to 55 miles an hour; police asked the public to be on the alert for a newer black sedan with damage to the front bumper, windshield and roof.

Now they say it didn’t happen.

I’ll let a Redlands resident take up the story in an email I received Tuesday evening.

Thought I should send this your way as a follow up to your Feb 19 post about Laura Lee Jones, who passed away after an apparent hit-and-run in Redlands last October.  This is from the Redlands Police Department Facebook update this afternoon.

Fatal October accident determined not to be hit-and-runAn October traffic collision that resulted in the death of woman earlier this month was determined not to be a hit-and-run accident as initially believed.The collision occurred in the eastbound lanes of Lugonia Avenue at Grove Street at about 6:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26. The victim, 51-year-old Laura Lee Jones, was critically injured. She died Feb. 3 of injuries sustained in the accident. Early witness reports described a black vehicle that initially struck Jones and left the scene before she was struck by another vehicle which did stop. Police conducted an investigation, examining physical evidence at the scene and reinterviewing witnesses, and determined that the first vehicle was not involved in the accident. The driver of the vehicle that struck Jones was determined not at fault and no charges have been filed.Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Redlands Police Dispatch at (909) 798-7681. Anonymous tips can be provided by texting 274637 using the keyword “REDTIP.” Certain non-emergency crimes may also be reported online using the Redlands Police Department’s CopLogic reporting system at

I’m really trying to be reasonable here. This accident happened less than 2 miles from my home. Yes, it is a busy street, and yes, it was dark.

Initial reports stated that witnesses reported that a black vehicle had hit the victim and fled east toward Mentone without stopping. I didn’t ever see a report that talked about the second car hitting her at that time. Now that she’s dead, they re-interview witnesses and decide that the black car didn’t hit her after all? The car that supposedly had front end, windshield and roof damage didn’t even hit her?  Did the second car that stopped have damage, because if it’s the only car that hit her, it should have. The second car isn’t even mentioned until updates this month after the vigil her friends held for her at the site where she was hit.

Regardless of who hit her, she was nailed from behind and she died. Some driver should face a charge of some sort. Name the driver that hit her so there is at least a squinch of accountability.

Funny how the story changes completely only after the victim died.

Suddenly she was killed by a second car that hadn’t existed in the press or police reports in more than three months before Jones died. And the first car, which supposedly sustained extensive front end damage, never touched her.

Not that that strains credibility or anything.

It’s possible, of course. By now, we should all know that a speeding car can cause a rider to fall without ever actually making contact. Yet that doesn’t make the driver any less at fault.

In this case, though, police apparently ignore witness statements to conclude it’s just another case of harm, but no foul.

So maybe it’s just a case of exceptionally bad PR.

Maybe if the Redlands police had updated the investigation as they went on, rather than doing a complete 180 after Jones death, it might not strain their credibility to such a degree.

Maybe if they’d announced publicly that they’d found the driver and determined he wasn’t at fault months ago, it might be more believable.

Or maybe if they’d even mentioned the mere existence of the second vehicle, it might not seem like they’d pulled it out of their… well, hats.

Maybe they’ve just done an incredibly bad job of keeping the public informed. Or maybe there’s something else going on here.

Speaking strictly for myself, I’d like to know who was driving that black sedan.

Because something certainly seems rotten in the state of Redlands.

KABC-7 updates the Zoo Drive hit-and-run, and a BMW driver gives me good chance to check my brakes

A few quick notes this morning.

KABC-7 picks up the horrifying story of Damian Kevitt, the cyclist hit by an impatient driver while riding on Zoo Drive near the L.A. Zoo, and dragged by the fleeing minivan nearly a quarter mile onto the 5 Freeway.

As the story notes, Kevitt has already lost one leg below the knee and suffered 20 broken bones throughout his body; according to his uncle, he’s still at risk of losing the other leg.

Keep your eyes peeled for an older gray Toyota Sienna or other similar minivan with possible front end damage; witnesses report the van had a For Sale sign in the window with the partial phone number 213/XXX-0776.

The driver needs to do some serious jail time for such a cruel and vicious assault. The collision may not have been intentional, but the decision to flee with the victim still trapped underneath his van was.

Anyone with information is urged to call the CHP Altadena station at (323) 259-2010.


Yesterday, I had a clear demonstration of the importance of good brakes, as a driver on San Vicente cut in front of me with no warning the moment the bike lane ended just west of Brentwood.


After the success in getting all five major candidates for mayor of L.A. and several city council candidates on the record for their stands on bicycling issues, the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee meets tonight to discuss how to get out the bike vote, and the next steps for the May runoff election. The meeting takes place at 6:45 pm at the Johnnie’s Pizza at Museum Square, 5757 Wilshire Blvd.


LACBC local chapter Santa Monica Spoke is calling for cyclists to support a proposed $134 million Transportation Impact Fee at tonight’s Santa Monica city council session, including $59 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects throughout the city.

If you can’t be there in person, they urge you to call or email the council members before the vote.


I received an invitation yesterday to participate in this fall’s California Coast Classic to benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

Unfortunately, my wife’s recent health issues make my participation in a multi-day ride a little problematic, to say the least. However, given that I’ve suffered from severe arthritis in my right knee for over 15 years as a result of a botched knee surgery in my teens, this is one event I can whole-heartedly support.

And my relatively minor inconvenience doesn’t even begin to compare to what so many others, young and old, have to go through. Despite perceptions, arthritis doesn’t just affect the elderly and infirm.

But since I can’t make it, maybe you can take a few moments to support the woman who invited me, and make a pledge to Monet Diamonte to help raise money for her ride.

Not only does she have one of the best names I’ve encountered in recent years, she’s dealt with juvenile arthritis herself since she was just two years.

And clearly, hasn’t let it get the upper hand.


Finally, speaking of horrifying injuries, a young Chinese boy suffered a bizarre freak accident when he fell off his bike, breaking the seat post — and embedding it the last place you’d ever want it.

The good news is, surgeons were able remove it with no serious injury. But that might be the one injury that could make me quit riding forever.

Boorish behavior by bicyclists could lead to a CHP crackdown in the Santa Monica Mountains

There’s no excuse for boorish bike behavior.

Especially when it could lead to a crackdown on every cyclist in the Santa Monica Mountains.

A conversation last week with Leland Tang, Public Information Officer for the CHP’s West Valley Area, revealed that they’re planning to start ticketing cyclists for riding violations throughout the area.

All they’re waiting for on is funding to put extra officers in the field.

And to give bike riders one last chance to clean up their act.

According to Tang, the CHP has been getting a large number of complaints about group rides that refuse to play nice by failing to ride single file, not letting motorists pass, riding on both sides of the roadway and not allowing drivers to exit their driveways.

Never mind that I disagree strongly with the CHP on whether it’s legal to ride two abreast.

It’s not mentioned at all in the California Vehicle Code, and it’s a standard precept of common law that anything that is not expressly forbidden is permissible under the law. Not to mention that riding two abreast is safer under many conditions that require riders to take the lane, such as avoiding road debris on the right shoulder or riding on roads with a substandard lane width where lanes are too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle.

The LAPD considers it legal to ride two abreast anytime a rider has to take the lane, or other situations where the riders aren’t blocking traffic, such as riding in the right lane of a four lane roadway where drivers could use the other lane to go around.

The CHP, however, interprets CVC 21202, the law requiring cyclists to ride as close to the right as practicable, as banning riding abreast, reasoning that the rider on the left is not as close to the right as he or she should be.

Or as a friend of mine put it recently, “Your honor, I couldn’t ride any closer to the right. There was another bike there.”

However, that’s a discussion I’ve had with the CHP for some time now, and not one I expect to win outside of a courtroom.

On the other hand, there’s no excuse for riding on both sides of the road, especially on blind curves where drivers coming from opposite direction may not be able to see you. Or continuing to block the roadway and preventing drivers from passing when it’s safe to do so.

And it’s only common courtesy to allow other road users to enter or exit their own driveways if it doesn’t interfere with your own safety, or the other riders with you.

Cyclists at the back of the pack should be on the lookout for cars coming up from behind, and call out for the riders ahead to fall into single file if it’s safe for the vehicle to pass. Or signal to the driver to wait if it’s not, then waive them around at the first opportunity.

We don’t make any friends by needlessly blocking the road or inconveniencing the others on it.

Admittedly, I’m only hearing half the story, coming from the people pissed off enough to call to complain. And filtered through the views of the Highway Patrol officers who have to take those calls and deal with that anger.

But it’s clear that more courtesy is called for from all sides.

However, I’m told that the overwhelming majority of complaints stem from a single weekly ride. Fairly or not, a Sunday morning ride over Decker Canyon draws more calls than every other weekend ride combined — as much as 90% of the complaint calls against cyclists in the area, according to Tang.

In fact, Tang himself has sat on the side of the road and watched them go by, riding three, four or more abreast and blocking both sides of the roadway. Which is neither legal nor justified under any circumstances.

He assures me they don’t really want to crack down on cyclists. The CHP would much rather apply their limited resources other places, where they can deal with more dangerous violations by more dangerous violators.

But the sheer number of complaints stemming from this one ride dictate that they will soon have to do something.

And if they do, it won’t just be the boorish behavior of a single group ride that draws their attention. But rather, a crackdown on any violations by any cyclists, anywhere in their jurisdiction.

Which means you could get a ticket simply because someone else refuses to straighten up and ride right.

So if you know anyone on that Sunday Decker Canyon ride, let them know they’re about to face a hard, and undoubtedly unpleasant look from law enforcement.

And because of them, so are you.

One more quick note. A recent complaint to the CHP involved riders swearing at a driver and throwing objects at his car as he passed. I think we all recognize that as a common reaction to a too close pass by a dangerous or threatening driver. But thanks to the veto pen of our governor, a dangerously close pass remains legal, while hitting a car or throwing something at it is not. It may seem justified, but you’re the one who’s likely to face legal action if you get caught.


Another bike rider has been shot in South L.A. The shooting occurred when a suspect on foot fired at the rider late Saturday evening near 92nd and Vermont, leaving the victim in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds.


Bike Radar offers a look at some of the more interesting bikes at this weekend’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver. Bike Biz offers a full list of the winners, while Velo News wonders what it all means. And now there’s no need to get off your bike after pedaling to the slopes.


I hear Saturday’s first-ever ‘80s Bike Prom sponsored by the LACBC was a huge hit; with luck, that may mean there will be a next one. CICLE’s Wild West Chatsworth Community Bike Ride seems to have been a big success, as well. The NELA and Occidental College Bicycle Art Show opens this Thursday, which is the same day Santa Monica College celebrates the official Grand Opening of their new bike corral. Santa Monica sets a March 16th workshop for the planned Santa Monica Michigan Avenue Greenway project. Redondo Beach considers a major redesign of the area around Hermosa Ave and Harbor Drive, including a two-way cycle track. If you can’t lose weight despite all the miles you put in on the saddle, try trading your electrolytified sugar pop for a handful of dates.

A look at the e-bike revolution at the Terranea Resort. A 68-year old man died of an apparent heart attack in Corona del Mar Sunday morning; police originally though he’d been in a bike wreck. San Diego cyclists get their first ciclovia. The principal of a Vallejo school died Friday of injuries suffered in a hit-and-run while riding in a bike lane on February 13th. A San Ramon attorney has yet to set foot in a courtroom nine months after he was arrested for the hit-and-run death of a cyclist. A Vallejo father campaigns against unlicensed drivers two years after his son was killed. A cyclist was killed on the coast highway in Northern California Sunday afternoon.

An Albuquerque cyclist wants thank the rider who helped rescue him when he passed out and severely injured himself. Still no justice for an Indiana cyclist after 2-1/2 years. South Bend considers their own three-foot passing law. According to the Boston Globe, disregard for the safety of cyclists has reached pathological levels among some drivers. A Mississippi newspaper publisher says education and common sense beat requiring helmet use. Explaining the concept of complete streets to the nation’s deadliest state for cyclists and pedestrians.

London’s deadly cycling zone proves fatal for 14 women and no men; all but one were victims of buses or large trucks. A UK cyclist suffers a broken arm in a road rage incident. A Scot cyclist for 53-years explains that riding single file isn’t always the safest option; something we need to convince the CHP. Town Mouse goes biking in Copenhagen. Belgium’s one-day Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne classic is called on account of snow; weather has often played a role in bike racing. Temecula resident Sarah Hammer won her second gold medal at this year’s track cycling world championships in Minsk, and the sixth of her career. An Indian environmentalist is riding across the country on a seatless bicycle, averaging over 60 miles a day to spread his message. Aussie cyclists are fighting back against road rage with helmet cams. A Sydney man throws everything but the kitchen sink — including a bicycle — at the police outside his fifth floor apartment. Over half of Queenslanders think bike riders should be licensed, though a slight majority think motorists are at a fault in disputes with riders. A Kiwi cyclist is lucky to be alive after being rear-ended at over 60 mph.

Finally, you do not want to get run over in Montana.

Trust me.

L.A. bikes the vote, kneejerk anti-bike bias rears it’s ugly head, and a massive weekend list o’ links

A busy week of bike meetings and breaking news meant pushing back a lot of stories.

So grab a cup and settle in for a full weekend worth of the latest bike news from L.A. and around the world.


The LACBC provides responses to candidate surveys from 13 candidates for L.A. city council; surprisingly, some very bike-friendly candidates, such as Odysseus Bostick in CD 11, failed to respond.

Meanwhile, a writer for the L.A. Times offers a one-sided windshield-perspective look at the CD 11 candidates; I thought the Times had outgrown that sort of crap in recent years.

And I’m sick to death of people who don’t ride a bike stating with presumed authority that no one would ever ride from the Westside — or the Palisades — to Downtown when there are riders who do that, or its equivalent, every day.

I make the Westside to Downtown ride several times a month myself. And find it easier, cheaper, faster, more enjoyable — and yes, safer — than driving a car. But it’s so much easier to claim no one would do it than talk to someone who does.

As for the race for L.A. Mayor, Streetsblog offers video interviews from all five leading candidates. And the Times sort of makes up for their misstep above by getting them on the record for their stands on transportation issues, including bicycling.

If you want to do more than just cast a vote to ensure the city’s next leaders support bicycling — or any other city in L.A. County for that matter — come to the the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 26th at 6:45 pm at the Johnnie’s Pizza at Museum Square, 5757 Wilshire Blvd.


Has it really been two years since L.A. adopted a new bike plan? The city is making real progress, but anti-bike critics remain.

LADOT considers floating bike lanes for Westwood Blvd, but an LA Observed writer with a terminal case of windshield perspective says those damned bike lanes are going to ruin the streets for the rest of us. Examined Spoke responds, while Boyonabike smells anti-bike bias.

Rampant anti-bike NIMBYism rears its ugly head at the Westside bike lane meeting, as local neighborhood councils and business owners came in with minds already made up and their ears closed. On the other hand, Rancho Park Online offers a surprisingly well reasoned analysis of the Westwood proposal.

Meanwhile, Eagle Rock business owners question whether bike lanes are good or bad for business; that pretty much depends on whether their business can benefit from bike riders’ money. The Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council says keep bike lanes off Lankershim and put them on Vineland, instead; if you want to see a perfect example of irrational anti-bike bias, read the comments — seriously, elitist bike Nazis? And NoHoArtsDistrict tries to get the facts straight.


In one of the most outrageous cases in recent memory, a Buenos Aires driver runs down a cyclist, then flees with his victim’s body still on the hood of his car for 17 kilometers — 10.5 miles — until he’s stopped at a toll both.

And when the attendant pointed out he had a body on his car, he responded “Does that mean you’re going to charge me twice?”

Thanks to Ralph Durham for the heads-up.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the Glendale News-Press finally reports on last Sunday’s horrible hit-and-run collision in which a cyclist was knocked off his bike and dragged onto the 5 Freeway by the fleeing minivan; I’ve updated the original story.


Even pro teams are victims of violence these days.

According to Cycling News, the Jamis-Hagens Berman team was on a training ride outside otherwise bike-friendly Tucson when a car pulled up next to them and the driver started swearing at them.

The car then swerved into the lead riders before speeding off, causing the riders to crash; fortunately, no one was seriously injured. And just as fortunately, the team car was following the paceline and managed to get photos of the driver’s license plate.

Hopefully, there will be an arrest — and serious charges — soon.


KNBC-4 recommends the LACBC’s ‘80s Bike Prom this Saturday, as do I; if I wasn’t still keeping a close eye on my wife thanks to her foot-dragging insurance company, I’d be there myself. Streetsblog is hosting a fundraiser with outgoing councilmember Bill Rosendahl the same night. A Midwestern transplant discovers you can bike in L.A. without dying, and borrows this blog’s name in the process. Here’s your map for April’s CicLAvia to the Sea; there will be a community meeting to discuss it next Thursday. New pavement and bike lanes for Cypress Park. Burbank adopts its new general plan; naturally, the only no vote came because the plan includes a bigger bike network. Universal Studios will fund projects to alleviate Burbank traffic caused by their expansion, and extend the L.A. River bike path they’ve long tried to block. Long Beach wants to help you become a street savvy cyclist.

A La Habra teen is stabbed by two men for his bike. Huntington Beach plans to widen Atlanta Avenue and add bike lanes in both direction; hopefully they won’t follow the murderous OC pattern of striping wide lanes to encourage more speeding drivers. A Coronado driver says yes, it is my job to make you obey the law. Not so fast on those new bike lanes on the Coast Highway in Leucadia. San Diego plans to add bike lanes and sidewalks to fix a dangerous stretch of road in San Ysidro. Temecula’s Sarah Hammer takes gold in the women’s individual pursuit at the World Championships. This has got to be the crappiest name ever for a bike ride; no, I mean literally. Camarillo adds two miles of bike lanes. Cambria riders push Caltrans to fix the damage they did to one of California’s favorite riding routes. Turn any shoes into cleated bike shoes. Cyclists on San Francisco’s King Street are at the mercy of cars once the bike lane ends mid-block. San Francisco police bust a fugitive sex offender for riding on the sidewalk. Supporters of a fallen Oroville cyclist says it’s time to end hit-and-runs.

The man whose name graces my bike says he wants to get back into the business; makes sense since he’s now America’s only Tour de France winner. Not surprisingly, traffic fatalities rose nationwide in 2012. The USDOT questions whether dead cyclists and pedestrians count enough to count. L.A.-style bicyclist anti-harassment laws are spreading nationwide. Dave Moulton says lighter isn’t always better. Ninety members of my old fraternity plan to bike across the county to raise awareness for disabilities this summer. Sorry Wired, fat bikes don’t huck and bikes can’t outrun wolves. Washington considers a $25 fee on the sale of any bike over $500; even the woman who wrote the bill doesn’t support it. A bike rider is killed by a train because a Utah driver couldn’t be bothered to clean the frost off her windshield. Rocky Mountain National Park considers its first off-road bike trails. If you’re stopped for biking under the influence on your birthday, it’s probably not a good idea to celebrate by strangling the cop. A Chicago newsman panics over planned bikeways and bus lanes on the Loop. Now that’s more like it, as an Indiana driver gets 18 years for killing two teenage bike riders after smoking meth. New York plans a crackdown on bike delivery riders. Former Bogota mayor Enrique Penalosa says Gotham could be more livable. A Philly writer wisely suggests that instead of focusing on how to get women to ride, we should consider what works for everyone; Elly Blue says just invite everyone to the party. Bike safety goes down in flames in Virginia legislature. Wannabe Latin pop star Carlos Bertonatti finally pleads guilty in the 2010 drunken hit-and-run death of a Miami cyclist; Bertonatti faces up to 35 years, but it’s unlikely he would have changed his plea if there wasn’t a deal in place.

Once again, a study supports the obvious conclusion that lower speeds and separated bike lanes significantly reduce the risk of cycling injuries. Five lessons from the world’s most bike friendly city, winter edition. How to travel with your Brompton. Looks like next year we can look forward to the Giro d’Eire. A look at the five best Hollywood bike scenes from a Brit perspective, without mentioning Breaking Away, American Flyers or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. A major failure of education and traffic planning, as English children are banned from biking or walking to school. A New Zealand writer asks if hi-viz makes you a target. Australia, which mandates bike helmets for everyone, also requires bike bells in an apparent attempt to help more angels get their wings. Adelaide police statistics show drivers are at fault in an overwhelming 80% of all collisions; thank God Aussie cyclists have their bells to protect them.

Finally, this is why some people hate lawyers. A defense attorney claims his client wasn’t impaired when she killed a cyclist, but only took the drugs afterwards — apparently to cope with just having killed someone while driving distracted at over 70 mph.

Or maybe you just need a little bike rap to kick off your weekend; the language may be offensive to some, including heavy abuse of the dreaded n-word.


Thanks to Chris and the gang at the Westwood Helen’s, I no longer have a busted bearing in my bottom bracket. And neither does my bike.

If you’re looking for a great LBS, tell ‘em I sent you.

78-year old bike rider killed in Moorpark hit-and-run

Once again, a cryptic CHP dispatch hinted at a horrible cycling collision long before anyone else.

A transmission early Thursday afternoon told of a damaged bicycle on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark, with debris in the roadway — and a body in a tree.

And someone — maybe a passerby, maybe the driver involved — was waiting on the right shoulder to guide CHP officers to the collision site.

Now the Ventura County Star and Moorpark Patch confirm that 78-year old Simi Valley resident Bernard Cooper was killed in a rear-end collision while riding on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada east of the Moorpark Freeway around 1:20 pm Thursday; the CHP puts the initial report at 1:28 pm.

After hitting Cooper with enough force to throw his body into a tree, 20-year old Nicolas Santiago of Ridgecrest drove for another mile-and-a-half before evidently having a change of heart and returning to the scene. The CHP dispatch identifies the vehicle waiting for them as a Nissan Xterra; unfortunately, there’s no word on what kind of car Santiago was driving or whether he returned after the collision had been reported.

Both Cooper and Santiago were headed east on Tierra Rejada; a satellite view of the roadway shows a wide shoulder where Cooper should have been safely out of the line of traffic, while a Google street view shows a 55 mph speed limit in the area.

Not surprisingly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash was still being investigated Thursday evening, however, the CHP reports that alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.

Santiago was arrested at the scene for hit-and-run. However, based on similar cases, the fact that he returned to the scene of the collision — apparently voluntarily — suggests that the charge is unlikely to result in significant penalties.

This is the fifth cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Ventura County; that compares to three bicycling deaths in Ventura County in all of 2012.

My prayers and condolences for Bernard Cooper and all his family and loved ones.

Update: A comment below says the driver of the Xterra was the one who called 911, and was not involved in the collision.

West Hollywood needs your help — planned La Brea bike lanes could be replaced by sharrows

I’m not a big fan of sharrows.

Yes, they have their place, providing on-street wayfinding for riders and positioning them out of the door zone, while sending a clear signal to drivers that we have a right to ride in the traffic lane.

But they don’t give us any rights to road we don’t already have, or one inch of real estate we aren’t already entitled to. And they don’t move riders out of the way of heavy traffic and impatient drivers.

The strictly vehicular crowd will tell you that sharrows are better than badly designed bike lanes that put riders in the door zone. But they are never preferable to a well-designed bike lane that safely positions riders out of traffic and away from danger.

And unlike bike lanes, sharrows do little or nothing to encourage more timid riders to take to the road.

Yet West Hollywood has decided that sharrows make more sense on heavily travelled La Brea Avenue than the long-planned bike lanes that were supposed to be installed in the next few years. And which were supposed to connect with bike lanes that will be installed on the Los Angeles portions of the street under the current bike plan.

Apparently, they’ve concluded that a wide, landscaped median that would beautify the street is more important than bike lanes that would encourage bike riding, reduce congestion and improve safety for all road users.

LACBC regional chapter West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition is leading the fight to keep bike lanes on the redesigned street. So I’ll let them take up the story from here.

Did you know that the city of West Hollywood is planning a huge redesign of La Brea Avenue? It’s is an amazing opportunity to fix a street that currently suffers from some of the worst congestion and hazardous intersections in West Hollywood. Fortunately, La Brea also enjoys a high concentration of great destinations, diverse growth, and proximity to pleasant neighborhoods. A bike lane would be an easy, inexpensive way to capitalize on West Hollywood’s easternmost assets, and effectively reduce the inconveniences of a city that’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Sound the Alarm

WeHo’s Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration incorrectly claims that LA plans to paint sharrow stencils on La Brea. But the city of LA has proposed bike lanes — not sharrows — for La Brea Ave in its 2010 bike plan.

If West Hollywood’s portion of La Brea isn’t built with connectivity to LA’s future bike lanes, it could cost a lot of money to fix — and it could even cost lives.

Follow the Existing Guidelines

As luck would have it, the city of West Hollywood has already conducted a study that calls for bike lanes on La Brea. The recommendations of the Bicycle Task Force include the installation of Class II (that is, non-buffered) bike lanes on La Brea Ave. The report was unanimously approved by City Council in December of 2011.

La Brea bike lanes are also indicated by West Hollywood’s Climate Action Plan, the General Plan, and even the request for proposals for this very project.

Wouldn’t Bike Lanes Just Slow Traffic Down?

No. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but when done correctly, bike lanes can help move traffic along faster.

How’s that? Well, bike lanes keep cyclists separated from faster-moving traffic, eliminating the need for cars to change lanes or suddenly slow down to pass bikes. They also reduce conflicts between bikes and cars at intersections. And dedicated lanes allow bikes to move safely forward through traffic, rather than swerving hazardously between stopped cars.

And of course, the biggest benefit of all: with more bike lanes, more people bike instead of drive, so there’s an overall reduction in traffic on the road.

Safety Over Aesthetics

What’s more important for La Brea: a giant landscaped median that simply looks nice, or bike lanes that can actually save residents’ lives?

There’s no argument that bike lanes will make La Brea safer for everyone — not just cyclists, but pedestrians and motorists, too.

When Long Beach installed bike lanes, bike accidents decreased by 80%, vehicle accidents decreased 44%, and sidewalk-riding decreased from 70% to 28%. LADOT’s own study showed that bike lanes can reduce accidents by 35%. That reduction isn’t just for cyclists — it also includes collisions between cars.

With numerous new pedestrian-oriented projects under construction on this already-busy street, bike lanes are an easy, cost-effective way to reduce accidents and injuries. If the street’s wide enough for a median, it’s wide enough for bike lanes.

So what can you do?

Contact the City of West Hollywood and let them know that we need bike lanes. The comment period for the Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration closes very soon: 5pm on February 28.

Send your comments here:

Donn Uyeno, P.E.
Senior Civil Engineer
City of West Hollywood Department of Public Works
8300 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Tel: 323-848-6457 | Fax: 323-848-6564 | Email:

And of course, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and email newsletter to get updates on our progress with this and other projects.

West Hollywood has just one more week to get the redesigned La Brea Avenue right the first time. So take a moment to take a stand for a safer, complete bike network that would benefit everyone on what is currently one of the area’s busiest and most dangerous streets.

I’ll be emailing them before the week is over. And I hope you’ll join me.

One other brief note.

The West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition is one of the area’s most dedicated and effective groups fighting for better bicycling in the Los Angeles area. If you live or ride in West Hollywood, you owe it to yourself to get involved with them; if you’re an LACBC member, you automatically qualify for membership.

If not, what are you waiting for?

Guest post: No justice, no closure for family of a fallen Palm Spring cyclist

This story breaks my heart. And it scares the crap out of me.

Last spring, Donny McCluskey was waiting at a red light when he became collateral damage in a violent vehicular collision.

He did everything right. He was exactly where he was supposed to be, and obeying the law in every way.

And yet he still died when a speeding driver ran a red light, and was broadsided by a drunk driver who was crossing on the green, sending the van tumbling into him.

The pickup driver who was otherwise obeying the law was arrested on the spot for DUI. Yet the driver who caused the collision and took the life of an innocent cyclist got a relative slap on the wrist, charged with a single count of misdemeanor vehicular homicide.

The victim’s family thought they’d see justice and get closure at his hearing. They were mistaken.

I’ll let his sister, Patti McCluskey-Andre tell the story.


Update on Donny McCluskey’s case with opening court date completed on February 13, 2013. It appeared to be held in Indio traffic court where most of the crimes were DUI, not showing up for DUI work (warrants) or driving without a license. After hearing these cases, there was Donny’s case: MISDEMEANOR vehicular manslaughter. No bail, no driving suspension, no reason to even show up in court for the driver (Armando Gomez of Cathedral City) who killed Donny-HE NEVER has to go to court because as the judge said several times: he was only charged with a misdemeanor (never mentioned manslaughter again) and he hired an attorney to represent him.

The judge explained the charges and the law as the DA had but the DA had no way of knowing he had hired a lawyer. As a family, we believed we would see the man and have some kind of closure. We agreed it was a terrible tragic accident caused by one man’s inattention and selfishness but not intentional. Yet, after court we realize the man who killed my brother, NEVER HAS TO GO TO COURT. Court was imagined as a form of cathartic movement for us to check off our grief list. We know there is no bringing Donny back, no matter what our actions are. We left the court in disbelief as to what kind of message are these charges delivering? Donny’s life was not worth more than paying a lawyer and going on with your life without much ado?

I could literally feel my 82 year old dad’s heart break as he sat next to me. I sensed him using sheer will to keep on breathing through the impersonalization and lack of importance attached to the death of his son. He also had to go home to tell Donny’s wife and mom what occurred. My heart breaks for everyone. My sister, my dad and I came to INDIO as we felt it was Donny’s day in court and since he was dead, his family would represent him.

Seems there are no laws protecting cyclists who die from gross vehicular operation unless the driver was texting, drunk or leaves the scene. Mr. Armando Gomez ran a light and accelerated an additional 30 mph when he realized it. Unfortunately, Mr. Gomez and his van were hit by a truck traveling through a green light resulting in his van flipping and skidding into my brother causing massive life ending injuries (Donny was following ALL the laws).

Mr. Gomez’s lawyer actually stated it was possibly the OTHER man’s fault. Now that is taking responsibility for your actions. I don’t know what the green light man did, but he was arrested at the scene for being under the influence. Maybe he could have stopped, if he was not under the influence but he was not the root cause of the accident. I am sure this driver will have more profound consequences.

Meanwhile, we grieve and acknowledge every month that goes by without our amazing husband, brother, son and uncle. Today is the 10 month anniversary. February 28th would have been his 50th birthday.

We need to change CA law. A car is a weapon and when not following laws that govern their use, even if you did not intend to kill someone and you do, then there needs to be consequences. It could be you or someone you love next time!

We need guidance on how to change these laws!
Patti McCluskey-Andre

The scary thing is this could happen to any of us. The actions of a careless driver can cause a chain reaction that can put us at risk; I’ve jumped the curb myself to avoid a car careening from a collision.

And if it does, the driver will probably get off. Or face the most meagre of charges, despite the damage he or she may cause.

Patti’s right.

The law has to change to ensure lawbreaking drivers who kill or maim innocent people face consequences equal to their actions.

Because their victims do.

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