Archive for March 30, 2013

A ride derailed, and my best wishes for your own personal holiday weekend

This day did not go as planned.

Starting with a middle of the night wake-up call from a sick Corgi that ended up canceling my plans for a half-century ride to the South Bay; she needed me home to look out for her more than I needed to ride.

And trust me, I needed to ride.

That was followed by an unexpected call from a reporter for KABC-7, who was picking up the story of 18-year old hit-and-run victim David Alexander Granatos, and wanted to interview me as part of it.

And while I appreciate the LA Weekly giving me a heads-up about their story reporting on the hit-and-run — really, I do — it would have meant more if I hadn’t already been reporting on it all week, in significantly more detail.

But I’m glad they covered it, just as I’m glad they did a much better job of reporting on hit-and-run victim Damian Kevitt — the cyclist who lost a leg, and may lose another, after he was dragged nearly 600 feet onto the I-5 Freeway by a fleeing driver — and putting it in context of the larger issue of cowardly drivers who refuse to take responsibility for the devastation they cause.

And I’m just as grateful that KNBC-4 and KABC-7 both reported on tonight’s Critical Mass, which was dedicated to Kevitt and rode past his hospital room.

Meanwhile, the more I learn about Granatos, the more heartbreaking it gets, as I find myself mourning a young man I never knew.

And now, never will.

Good Friday, for me, is always a maudlin day at best.

One calling for introspection and acknowledgement of just how far I stray at times from the man I choose to be.

Which is why I usually try to spend as much of it on my bike as I can. Because it’s there that my thoughts are clearest, I am most at peace and feel closest to God. If only because L.A. drivers threaten to make me that much closer to meeting him.

All of which is a long way of explaining why there was no update tonight.

Instead, allow me to offer my best wishes for a happy Easter and a blessed Passover, both of which are acknowledged in our mixed faith home. Even if the last few years have left me feeling like God’s favorite.

Or whatever you observe, even if it’s just a lovely weekend.

And hopefully, a great ride or two.

As for the Corgi, she seems to be doing much better.

Fingers crossed.

Update — Valley Glen hit-and-run victim reportedly died of his injuries last night

I’ve just received word that David Alexander Granados, the 18-year old bike rider critically injured by a hit-and-run driver last Sunday, has died as a result of his injuries.

Both the Reddit site, as well as a commenter on this site, report that he passed away last night, surrounded by family and friends. Both sources have proven to be reliable throughout this breaking story.

You can read the full story here, if you haven’t already.

This is the 13th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second to die as the result of a hit-and-run. Alarmingly, eight of those deaths have occurred in Los Angeles County, compared to just one this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for David Granados and all his family and loved ones.

Update: The media discovered this story today, with new stories by North Hollywood Patch and Rudabeh Shahbazi for KABC-7, including a brief interview with yours truly.

A couple brief corrections — the victim’s full name is David Alexander Granados, not David Alexander as I had previously reported, and he died around 5:30 pm Tuesday when he was taken off life support, rather than Thursday night, as I had been told. 

Patch reports that the driver was traveling at 50 to 60 mph when he ran the red light and hit Granados, throwing his body as far as 200 feet by some estimates. A friend who witnessed the collision says Granados had the right of way, and looked both ways before crossing the street. 

In other words, he did everything right. And died anyway.

To say I’m heartbroken over someone I never knew, and now never will, is putting it mildly.

A memorial fund has been established in his name. And anyone with information is urged to call the LAPD Valley Traffic Division at (818) 644-8063. 

More bicyclists than voters in L.A., and it’s déjà vu all over again as 3-foot law makes a comeback

If you don’t remember anything else from today’s post, remember this.

Only 377,881 Angelenos bothered to cast a ballot in the city election earlier this month. That’s less than the estimated 400,000 people who ride a bike in Los Angeles every month.

If we don’t have power in this city — and we don’t — it’s our own damn fault.

Seriously.

If you don’t care enough to vote, don’t complain about the dangerous streets and lack of infrastructure you’ll help saddle the rest of us with in the years to come.

………

A California legislator makes a third attempt to pass a three-foot passing law — and get it past two-time veto pen wielding Governor Jerry Brown, who seems to be popular with everyone but bike riders these days.

This law seems significantly better than the last version; as I read it, it requires a minimum three-foot distance even when passing cyclists riding in bike lanes, unlike last year’s bill. And this one includes the exemption allowing motorists to briefly cross a double yellow line to pass a bicyclist, which is the excuse reason Brown gave for vetoing the last bill, and which seemed credible to virtually no one.

Even Sutter didn’t buy that crap.

Meanwhile, a bill that would have required drivers to be tested on their knowledge of bike laws and infrastructure was inexplicably gutted by it’s own author; it now deals just with distracted driving.

………

CD 14 Council Member Jose Huizar supports bike lanes on a reconfigured Colorado Blvd, while Tom “Bike Bell” LaBonge comes out against bike lanes on Lankershim. A public forum was held at Occidental College to examine the battle over NELA bike lanes; reports are cyclists came out in force, even if those who regularly ride the corridor were bizarrely called outside interests. Walk Eagle Rock addresses, in advance, some of the concerns expressed at the meeting.

Meanwhile, KCET’s SoCal Connected offers a good look at the bike lane controversy, which really shouldn’t be one unless you consider cars more important than human beings. The Times examines the conflict over a planned bikeway on Polk Street in Baghdad by the Bay; Boyonabike effectively dissects the story to expose an inherent anti-bike bias.

And apparently, building bike lanes is no easier in Riverside. Or Omaha, for that matter.

Once everyone is done attacking bike lanes, I’m sure Mom, baseball and apple pie will probably be next.

………

Flying Pigeon says the recent Rowena road diet creates the opportunity for a real bike network. MyFigueroa presents the updated plan for Downtown’s iconic boulevard on Tuesday, April 9th with guest speaker Charlie Gandy, who I want to be when I grow up. LA/2B offers a March update without really saying anything. Not surprisingly, UCLA says children who live next to parks are more physically active, which should be an argument for more parks, everywhere. An L.A. cyclist enters a light-bearing helmet in the James Dyson Award competition. The West Hollywood city council promises to leave room for possible future bike lanes in approving the La Brea streetscape design, while the WeHo Bicycle Coalition invites you to ride the city’s new sharrows on Fountain, Sunday, April 7th. VeloNews uses the recent Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race to explore the trend towards unsanctioned bike races across the U.S. Will Campbell wishes a jerk cyclist a nice day. A French couple stops in Malibu halfway on their round the world tour. KCBS-2 says there’s a turf war between cyclists and pedestrians on the beachfront bike path. The Santa Monica Bike Center celebrates women and bikes tonight with a Cycles and Suffragettes Tea Party. Glendale considers capping the 134 Freeway with a park. Environmentalists and mountain bikers clash over access to backcountry routes in the Angeles National Forest. Ride to benefit Habitat for Humanity in Palos Verdes on Saturday, April 6th; and mark your calendar for the Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride in Agoura Hills on Saturday, April 27th.

What it’s like to ride a belt drive bike. Firefighters rescue an injured mountain biker from Laguna Canyon. A look back at the founding of the Redlands Bicycle Classic in 1984. Once again, we’re reminded that bicyclists need to follow the rules, and assured that virtually none of us ever does; yawn. Biking to Costco is easy; biking back with a fully loaded trailer, not so much. A San Francisco writer enters a Dickensian urban underground in search of his stolen bike.

Riding is usually a refuge from whatever is going on in our lives, but not always. An evangelical minister has travelled nearly 220,000 miles and worn out seven bikes after leaving Portland in 1993 to spread the gospel by bike. Jackson Hole WY cyclists have a month-long car-free route cut in half due to budget cutbacks. A Corpus Christi publication correctly observes that if the roads aren’t safe for cyclists, they aren’t safe, period. For the second time in three days, a hit-and-run driver runs down a cyclist in a Louisiana parish; the first rider was killed. Before it was Motown, Detroit was a bicycle town. Bikes to be banned at Ohio State University; not unlike like their football team. The granddaddy of unsanctioned fixed gear races rolls this weekend with the Red Hook Criterium. Why don’t police take a broken windows approach to traffic violence? New York cyclists are posting living wills online begging police to investigate the crash if they killed. A petition calls for adding bike and pedestrian pathways on New York’s famed Verrazano bridge.

Science looks at why bicyclists ride through red lights. São Paulo cyclists fight for justice after a rider loses an arm in a hit-and-run. Canadian students develop a crash-test dummy to study bike collisions, something that’s long past due; one of my life’s goals is to establish an academy to study the unique forensics of bicycling collisions. Even cities in the Northwest Territories consider bike lanes, while Whitehorse wants help updating the rules. A UK plastic surgeon claims vanity is driving middle-aged male cyclists to have varicose veins removed; mine were caused by the road raging driver who deliberately crashed into me, so I’m keeping them as a reminder, thanks. British Cycling wants to get more people biking to work. Brit cyclists will soon get a four-mile train tunnel repurposed as the country’s longest underground bikeway; in this country, it would soon be overrun with homeless camps and lurking criminals. A Queensland Sikh successfully fights a ticket for not wearing a bike helmet. Two Christchurch cyclists are killed in three days. Scofflaw Tokyo cyclists could face up to three months in jail.

Finally, the Onion says it’s pretty incredible that American’s are entrusted to drive cars; yes, it’s satire, but there can be a lot of truth in humor. And as if parking in a bike lane isn’t bad enough, a Santa Cruz man is arrested for jerking off in one near a junior high school.

No, seriously.

Ewww.

……..

Thanks to Neil Myers for the kind words; always good to hear from a new reader. Especially one who isn’t pissed off or wants to threaten me.

And I somehow forget to offer passover greetings to my Jewish readers; fortunately, it’s an eight day holiday, giving me time to atone for my mistake. 

Chag Pesach sameach!

Update: Monday’s ride, in which I catch the county breaking the law

Just because they post a sign doesn't make it so.

Just because they post a sign doesn’t make it so.

Sometimes it’s the government itself that breaks the law.

A recent planned ride down to Manhattan Beach was interrupted by construction on the bike path, as barricades diverted cyclists onto busy Vista del Mar at Dockweiler State Beach.

That didn’t come as a surprise. The beachfront Marvin Braude bike path has been undergoing much needed reconstruction over the past several months.

Up to this point, however, riders were directed to virtually unused South Marine Avenue, providing a low-stress detour around the construction work.

However, that changed last week as the construction work moved further south, past the point where Marine Ave ends. South Bay cyclist Jim Lyle gave me the heads-up last week, so I knew the pathway would be closed when I got there.

I knew if I wanted to reach my planned destination, I’d have to ride a street that is notoriously unfriendly to cyclists. And pass the exact point where bike rider George Loudon was killed in a still-unsolved hit-and-run less than two years earlier.

The only accommodation to cyclists forced to detour around the construction were some newly added Share the Road signs on Vista del Mar. Not enough to tame the high-speed traffic, or make most riders feel safe on a roadway already known for dangerous traffic.

Myself included.

So rather than add needless stress to a ride intended to reduce it, I decided I’d gone far enough for one day, and would save Vista del Mar for another ride later in the week.

On a whim, though, when I turned back, I decided to ride through the county-owned RV park along the bike path to see if it would allow me to bypass the construction work. Or at least add a little more to my mileage count for the day.

And that’s when I saw it.

Right at the entrance to the park was a sign banning bikes, in clear violation of state law.

Under California law, bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of motorists, and are allowed to use any public roadway where cars are permitted. The only exception is some limited access freeways, where bikes can be banned as long as signs are posted.

And which some cyclists have been known to ride, anyway.

Since there were numerous cars and RVs visible right in front of me, it was clear that motor vehicles were allowed in the RV park. So the only question was whether the park was public or private property.

And a simple look online quickly answered that question.

In other words, an RV park owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles bans bikes from the roads, in clear violation of state law. That presumably applies to people paying to camp there, just as it does to any stray riders looking for a shortcut.

So if someone wants to ride their bike from their campsite to El Segundo or the LAX area via surface streets, and rides on the roadway through the park to get there, they’re in violation of the ban.

Which is in violation of the law.

Even if the RV park is privately operated under a county contract, the roads within it remain public property, and so are subject to state law.

Which brings up the question, when the government itself is either unaware of, or doesn’t care about, the laws of this state, who exactly is responsible for enforcing them?

Let alone protecting the rights of its citizens, on two wheels or otherwise.

Update: I just received the following notice from the county Department of Public Works:

Picture (Device Independent Bitmap) 1ADVISORY NOTICE
The County of Los Angeles will be closing a segment of the Marvin Braude Bike Path for reconstruction work until April 12th.  The limits of the beach bike path closure are from Imperial Highway in the City of Los Angeles to 45th Street in the City of Manhattan Beach.
To accommodate bike path users during this closure, a detour has been provided along Vista del Mar.  The most seaward of the 4 vehicle travel lanes (closest to the beach) will be barricaded and dedicated as a bike lane for both directions of bike path traffic for the duration of the work.
For information contact us at (626) 458-3110, (626) 458-4967 or visit http://dpw.lacounty.gov/bikepathclosures

Good news that they’re going to give cyclists a dedicated lane on Vista del Mar; however, that barricade did not seem to be place when I was there on Monday.

……..

One other quick note.

On Monday’s ride, I found myself chatting with a bike rider who had just flown in from Washington DC earlier that morning, and was enjoying a ride on a beautiful SoCal day.

Then last night, on a ride to a bike meeting in Downtown L.A., I struck up a conversation with a woman riding in her work attire, as she made her way from 7th and Fig to pick up the Gold Line for her commute home.

Nothing extraordinary about either event.

Except I can’t recall ever talking with a total stranger from behind the wheel of a car for any longer than it took for someone to ask directions before the light changed. Or exchange angry epitaphs with another driver.

That’s one of the rare joys of bicycling, as it allows a genuine interaction with our cities and those we share the road with, however briefly.

And helps make our city a better place to live, whichever and wherever that may be.

Let’s take a quick break for a cute dog on a bike. Or a bike trailer, anyway

Trix and owner

Trix and owner, both smiling on near perfect LA day

Let’s take a break for a little happier news.

Yesterday was a difficult morning for me, as I dealt with the emotional residue of a difficult weekend. So I set out on my bike in an attempt to improve my mood.

And yes, it did the job.

Over the years, bicycling has become my valium, my prozac, my meditation, my church. It clears my mind, energizes me when I’m tired, lifts my mood and gives me the distance required for much needed perspective.

So by the time I got to the Marina, my burden may not have been removed, but it felt a lot lighter than before I started.

Trix rides unrestrained, sitting or standing as it suits his — her? — whim

Trix rides unrestrained, sitting or standing as it suits his — her? — whim

Which may be why I laughed out loud when I looked up and saw a dog standing imperiously on trailer pulled by a recumbent bike, looking for all the world like a four-footed centurion pulled by a pedal-powered chariot.

I couldn’t resist.

So I caught up with the rider, and asked if he’d allow me to take a couple photos.

He was more than welcoming, while the dog, named Trix — I hope I got that right — mostly obliged.

Of course, like an idiot, I neglected to get the name of the friendly rider, or ask where he was from. Considering the riders I spoke with yesterday ranged from Alaska to DC, that could have been just about anywhere.

So if you recognize yourself, or know the rider and his dog, let me know.

And thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in days.

It wasn’t until much later, after I got back home, that I realized I’d captured the whole thing on video.

Update: LAPD confirms 18-year old cyclist was critically injured in Valley Glen hit-and-run

I’ve just received confirmation from the LAPD that a cyclist was injured in a hit-and-run in Valley Glen.

An 18-year old bike rider, identified as David Alexander of Van Nuys, was riding south on Bellaire Ave at Oxnard Street around 5:30 pm on Sunday when he attempted to cross Oxnard in the crosswalk on the northbound side of the street. A driver traveling west in the left lane on Oxnard ran the red light, striking Alexander.

According to a report on Reddit, he was thrown over 100 feet by the force of the collision.

Various witnesses described the vehicle as a Silver 2000-02 Mecerdes ML SUV. The driver was described as an overweight white or Armenian male in his 50s, with either gray hair or bald head.

The Reddit report, written by someone who identifies himself as a neighbor of the victim, indicates that Alexander is on life support with little or no brain activity.

If you have any information on this case, contact Det. Tucker at LAPD Valley Traffic, 818/644-8000.

My prayers go out to David Alexander and all his family and loved ones.

Update: Earlier information indicated that the vehicle might have been a Silver Range Rover; however, that is no longer under consideration.

Update 2: I’ve just received the following press release from the LAPD:

Hit and Run Driver Leaves Bicyclist Seriously Injured

VALLEY VILLAGE:   On March 24, 2013, at approximately 6:30 p.m., a serious injury traffic collision occurred at the intersection of Oxnard Street and Bellaire Avenue in the Valley Village area of the San Fernando Valley.

The victim, an 18 year old male resident of Van Nuys, was riding his bicycle southbound in the east crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle traveling west on Oxnard Street.  The bicyclist sustained major injuries and was transported by Los Angeles Fire Department personnel to Holy Cross Hospital for medical treatment.

The vehicle is described as an older model, light colored, possible silver/grey, Mercedes Benz ML class Sport Utility Vehicle.  The driver of the vehicle is described as an older male.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Valley Traffic Division Officer M. Tucker at (818) 644-8063.   The report number is DR #13 15 08298.  During non-business hours or weekends, calls may be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.  Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800)-222-8477).  Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most key pads) using a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Tipsters can also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “web tips” and follow the prompts.

Update 3: The Reddit site, as well as a commenter below, reports that David Alexander passed away last night, surrounded by family and friends. Both have proven to be reliable throughout this breaking story. 

This is the 13th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second to die as the result of a hit-and-run. Alarmingly, eight of those deaths have occurred in Los Angeles County, compared to just one this time last year.

Update 4: North Hollywood Patch and KABC-7 both report the victim’s full name is David Alexander Granatos, not David Alexander, as I reported. And his death came around 5:30 pm Tuesday, not Thursday.

Update: 18-year old bike rider killed in Palmdale; 2nd rider reported critically injured in Valley Glen

Bad news is just breaking two fronts.

KNBC-4 has just confirmed that a boy riding a bike was hit and killed by a school bus in Palmdale; an earlier CHP report places the collision at 3:54 pm at East Avenue R and 55th Street East. Reports are the victim died at a local hospital.

Adding to the tragedy, there were students onboard the bus at the time; fortunately, none were injured in the collision.

This is the 12th bicycling fatality so far this year, and the 7th in Los Angeles County.

Update: Despite earlier reports that the victim was a young boy, KNBC-4 now reports he is an 18-year old man.

Update 2: KTLA-5 has identified the victim as 18-year old Michael Valenzuela. who was attempting to cross the street when he was ht by the bus.

A commenter below says the victim was s friend of her son, and that the intersection, with just a stop sign on the cross street, was the scene of frequent collisions.

Update 3: The Antelope Valley Times reports that Valenzuela, a 2011 graduate of Pete Knight High School known to his friends as Speedy, was on his way to soccer practice after his first day of work at a nearby Vallarta Market. He was riding south on 55th Street East when he was hit by the bus traveling west on Avenue R at 45 mph.

Valenzuela reportedly stopped at the stop sign, then rode out directly into the path of the school bus; his destination was the park just across the street.

Tragically, he never got there.

Update 4: The L.A. Times reports a vigil will be held for Valenzuela at the scene of the collision at 8 pm tonight. An update to the A.V. Times story says the 54-year old driver attempted to swerve, but hit him in the center turn lane; his body was thrown 150 feet by the according to the L.A Times.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the emotional impact this will undoubtedly have on the 47 grade school and middle school children on the bus who may have witnessed the collision and its aftermath.

Note: Earlier reports misspelled the victim’s name as Venezuela; I’ve corrected it here.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michael Valenzuela and all his family and friends.

………

In an unrelated case, I haven’t gotten any confirmation on this yet, so take it with a grain of salt.

According to a Reddit post, an 18-year old bike rider was involved in a hit-and-run around 5:30 am today on Oxnard at Bellaire in Valley Glen; the writer says the victim is currently on life support with no brain activity.

I’ve reached out to my contacts with the LAPD for confirmation, but no response yet.

Thanks to Erik Griswald for the heads-up.

Update: I’ve just received confirmation from the LAPD that a hit-and-run involving a cyclist did occur at Oxnard and Bellaire, although it actually occurred Sunday evening. You can read more here

Guest post: A review of high-intensity rear lights for improved safety, day or night

Awhile back, OC cyclist Mark Goodley wrote a guest post calling for cyclists to ride with ultra bright bike lights both day and night for increased safety, following his own near-fatal riding collision

At the time, he mentioned he was working on a review of some of the brightest lights on the market, which would be easily visible in daylight. So I offered to post his review once he got it finished. 

And here is it, representing an exceptional amount of work and out-of-pocket expense.

……..

STAY WELL LIT and You Won’t be HIT!!!

In other words

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride Ultra BRIGHT, DAY And night”

A Bicycle Light Review

By Mark D. Goodley

Introduction: As a quick start; I was hit and almost killed last year by a car making an illegal turn… I was a lucky survivor. Many are not so fortunate. Even though I ride an average of 10K miles/yr., I’d never been a bike advocate or activist before; but seeing your own blood draining onto the street changes you. Within weeks of being released from the hospital, I started looking for a solution to the carnage. We had two more fatalities the next month further raising the stakes. What was the most expedient, reliable, and cost effective mechanism to preventing/stopping the fatalities?

You can say and preach all you want about driver and rider safety and education, but the truth is, you’re never going to get to every driver or rider. There had/has to be other options. I looked in all directions and researched numerous possibilities, and one statistic I found leapt out against all the others… To date, I have not found one, not a single fatality, hit from behind accident, (which out number all other cycling fatality accidents 2:1), when the cyclist was riding with today’s ultra bright rear lights turned on… that started me on the trek…  If you can give the driver 5-10 seconds (.1-.2 tenths of a mile at highway speeds) advance warning of your presence, you will not (at least statistically) have problems. In fact, from my and many others reported experiences, most every driver that passes you will appreciate the simple and effective “heads up” warning.

Cutting directly to the chase scene: Wear multiple ultra brite lights, day and night..  As a good rule of thumb; If  you can look directly at the light, it’s not even close to being brite enough. All the lights in this article are retina searing, some, more  than others.

The bottom line is, that after many months of searching police and sheriff records following my accident this past June, I still can’t find one rear end cycling fatality where the rider had ultra-bright rear lights flashing at the time of the accident. That is an impressive statistic to say the least; and one that no cyclist should ignore, take lightly, nor not heed.

Abstract:

Determining which rear end lights were most effectively seen, day and night by drivers. There are many dozens of lights to choose from. Which lights can be seen most easily? Which are the best Price/Performance options?

The minimum lighting standard I set for inclusion in this review was the light must be clearly visible flashing, in the daytime  .1 mile (one-tenth of a mile). At highway/road speeds, that represents between 10 and 20 seconds warning to the driver. An eternity in reaction time, and an early warning system to drivers.

A total of only 11 lights met this criteria, many more did not. Any of these lights will greatly enhance your chances of staying alive on the road. But there are profound differences between Good, Better, and Best, as you will see.

Prices ranged from $25-$200.

I intentionally did not make it easy to meet this standard. For the visibility tests, I chose early morning, around 8-8:30AM, bright cloudless days, when the sun was low on the horizon. The lights were placed roughly only 10 degrees east (North) of being directly into the sun. This is exactly the time when most cyclists have been killed, early morning or late afternoon, riding towards the sun.

Determining which is the best light is impossible. It would be the same as saying which bicycle is the “best.” Everyone has their own needs and budget. What works best for Fred doesn’t for Wilma, etc.

Please note, that as a matter of practical usage, ALL lights/batteries tested were rechargeable, in one manner or another. The intent was/is to take the typically heard excuse for not using lights, “I didn’t want to run my batteries down”, completely out of the equation.  Some lights were tested with rechargeable AA/AAA batteries, while others were USB rechargeable… In any case, no one can use that excuse again. Lights that did not have a rechargeable option were not tested, and in fact, are being erased from the market.

A power meter

A power meter

One light characteristic and function that becomes important to note to the reader is “lensing.” A light can appear to be extremely bright from one angle, but quickly loses effectiveness only a few degrees off this primary angle. To further complicate matters, more LED’s in a light may or may not be perceived as brighter, depending upon the relative photon count coming out from the individual LEDs. Therefore every light is a compromise of LED brightness, lensing focus brightness, viewable angle brightness, # of LEDs, and battery runtime.

P1020098

Testing LED lights is technically challenging. Numerous methods have been used over several decades. For this study I roughly followed the Modified Allard method for effective intensity. This calibrated protocol was combined with visual comparisons at .1 mile and .25 mile. The  empirical results of these protocols, were averaged.

Newport Corporation Optical 1918-R Power meter for determining overall light power, and Newport Corp optical table

Newport Corporation Optical 1918-R Power meter for determining overall light power, and Newport Corp optical table

Next, while the flashing color red denotes a heightened state of awareness in our minds, red lenses typically reduce overall perceived power by a significantly large factor. Again, everything is a compromise. Lastly; runtime of each light was tested and noted. The minimum was approx. 2 hours, which is usually acceptable  for a commuter who can and will recharge their lights at work, but not so good for the road cyclist who’s putting in 4-6 hours, and will be left unprotected.

Lastly,  note that all lights were paid for. None were “donated.” I wanted to eliminate any potential or possibility of the results being questioned or perceived as “bought” or “mailed in.” When multiples of light from a given mfg were tested, some were purchased at a discount which was appreciated to save my personal wallet a bit, but all were bought. Many of the lights were purchased at retail, multiples from some mfg’s.

  1. Best Overall Combined Brightest Light
  2. Best Price/Performance Light
  3. Brightest Single Angle tested Light
  4. Most Innovative light (and likely to be copied by competitors)
  5. Best Commuter Light

So, due to the large number of variables in testing, it seemed fairest to set several categories to list the order of finish, and “award” the winner, and hence for you to choose from: Each light has its own Strength and Weaknesses. What’s important to note is that all lights in this review passed the most basic of tests: Can the light be clearly seen flashing by a driver from a minimum of .1 mile (one-tenth of a mile)?

This is a non retouched pic showing a light at .1 mile distance.  You can see even from this singular, non-flashing photo that the light is clearly visible.  The pic does not do the flashing, justice.

This is a non retouched pic showing a light at .1 mile distance. You can see even from this singular, non-flashing photo that the light is clearly visible. The pic does not do the flashing, justice.

Quickly (skip this paragraph if not interested in testing protocols).

How do you test for brightness? This is not as EZ as it map first appear. There are numbers of industrial, military, auto, and FAA lighting standards, and none for cycling. I chose to loosely follow the Modified Allard method which is the most common, and augment the approach with visual confirmation. This incorporates very high end testing equipment such a Lab spheres, CCD spectrometers, Optical power meters, and finally, after the numbers were in; good ole’ eyeballs. Lights were tested by observers at .1 mile and then at .23 mile, both directly line of sight, and then approx.. 30 deg. off axis center line. All lights were tested with full charges, either from their own USB batteries, or fully charged Li+ rechargeable purchased from Costco. Lights and mounts were weighed and noted in grams.

For a complete analysis description, protocol, data taken, etc., please see website or write.

Newport Corporation

http://www.labsphere.com/products/light-measurement-systems/led-ssl-systems/lcs-led-characterization-systems/default.aspx

LabSphere

http://www.labsphere.com/products/light-measurement-systems/led-ssl-systems/lcs-led-characterization-systems/default.aspx

1.  The Top 11 lights tested (in OVERALL combined viewpoint- Brightest order)

  • DINOTTE 300L $200 USD This light is very bright (though not the brightest) from all possible viewing angles.  It also has the longest battery life, USB rechargeable, and nicest flashing pattern. It suffers in cost and weight.
  • SERFAS TL-60  $60USD WOW doesn’t seem to do justice to this little dynamo. Placing first in brightness both on the meters and visually, USB rechargeable, decent runtime, weight and EZ mounting options for frame and helmet. This guy was the surprise entry. Suffers only in viewing angle. Ride with two or three and you’re set.
  • NIGHTRIDER Solas USB http://www.niterider.com/ This is a Great Light. A Very Bright, and Very Well built light.  This  was the third brightest light. The light angle spread is wider than most of the others, including the TL-60 above it. The design works well on both helmet and frame. I used electricians tape to cap off the end when using it on my helmet. Can’t go wrong here.
  • PLANET BIKE Turbo Super Flash $30USD I’ve bought at least half of dozen of these over the years… They’re reliable, bright, good flashing patter, affordable, run forever, and EZ to mount. Close on the Price/Performance curve, but not in the same brightness category as the two above it.
  • CATEYE Rapid 5 This all-time favorite is historically one of the best lights ever manufactured and set the standard for many years, and can still holds its own.
  • NIGHTRIDER Cherry Bomb  Another strong entry from NightRider, not in the same briteness category as the others above, but a good light nonetheless. A very nice light, extremely well built, you can feel the quality of everything about this light.
  • BONTRAGER Flare Nothing wrong with this guy,  good briteness, just not in the same category as the first few… Good mount and EZ to use.
  • PLANET BIKE Super Flash My defacto standard for many years and still a very reliable, long running worker… Briteness has been passed in the last year by it’s Turbo sibling and the others above.
  • SERFAS Thunderbolt Yellow; SERFAS Thunderbolt Red These two lights have taken the world by storm. Instead of a string of singular, tightly focused LED bulbs, the Thunderbolts utilizes an entirely different technology emphasizing a new Wide Beam approach. Although not as intrinsically bright as the top entries, the Wide Beam pattern really gets your attention as you get closer… and it’s the only light tested that is meant to be attached to the seat stays and forks… This light is a revolution. It suffers only in runtime, about 2 hours, which is more than enough for most commuters, but not in the running for road cyclist needs.
  • CATEYE Rapid 3 A decent light in a pinch and fine at night. But nowhere in the same category as the above top Escalon. It just barely made the minimum criteria.

2. Best Price/Performance Light

3. Brightest Single Angle tested Light

4. Most Innovative light (and likely to be copied by competitors)

  • THUNDERBOLT Pair of RED/YELLOW

5. Best Commuter Light Conclusion:

  • THUNDERBOLT RED/YELLOW COMBINED
  • TL-60
  • CATEYE Rapid 5
  • ALL the ABOVE
Pic below; from top left clockwise: 1. Dinotte 300, 2. Serfas TL-60, 3. Planet Bike Turbo 4. Planet Bike Flash, 5. Nightrider Cherry Bomb 6. Blue Test light (not reviewed), 7. Night Rider Sola, 8. Serfas Thunderbolt Yellow, 9. Serfas Thunberbolt Red, 10. Cateye Rapid 5, 11. Bontrager Flair

From top left clockwise: 1. Dinotte 300, 2. Serfas TL-60, 3. Planet Bike Turbo 4. Planet Bike Flash, 5. Nightrider Cherry Bomb 6. Blue Test light (not reviewed), 7. Night Rider Sola, 8. Serfas Thunderbolt Yellow, 9. Serfas Thunberbolt Red, 10. Cateye Rapid 5, 11. Bontrager Flair

While any of these lights will greatly increase the odds of avoiding mishaps on the road and help to SAVE YOUR Life, there is a definite pecking order…  Buy the best that your wallet can afford. Increasing Brightness means early warning distance, and distance means time to avoid you.

I highly recommend riding with multiple flashing lights. You will not be missed. One on your helmet, one on your seat post pointed level, slightly to the left towards traffic (to the right in UK), and at least one on your back seat stay. If you wear a backpack, at least one if not two more.

 List Review Spreadsheet  
  Mfg Model BRITENESS Retail Weight Battery Runtime
    RATING 1-5 $ USD      
DINOTTE 300L

4.5

200

  USB 4 hr+
SERFAS TL-60

5

60

  USB 4 hr+
NIGHT RIDER SOLA

4

45

  USB 4+ hr.
PLANET BIKE SUPER FLASH TURBO

3

30

  AAA 4+ hr.
CATEYE RAPID 5

3

30

  AAA 4+ hr.
BONTRAGER FLAIR

2.5

30

  AAA 4+ hr.
SERFAS THUNDERBOLT

2

45

  USB 120 min
NIGHT RIDER CHERRY BOMB 1 W

2

25

  AAA 4+ hr.
 
Mark D. Goodley
USA Cycling Pro Race Mechanic
markdgoodley@aol.com

A call for justice for Damien Kevit; Redwood City police blame 14-year old cyclist for her own death

The fight for justice continues in the case of Damian Kevitt.

As you may be aware, the cyclist lost a leg — as well as suffering a number of other horrific injuries — when he was dragged onto the 5 Freeway by a hit-and-run driver last month.

Tonight I received the following email attempting to mobilize the community to find the heartless bastard who did it.

And I use that term advisedly.

……..

COMMUNITY MOBILIZING TO FIND HIT & RUN ASSAILANT

WHAT:  Members of the media are invited to attend a public outreach event in the continuing search for the driver who hit cyclist Damian Kevitt last month.

Volunteers and community organizers will be distributing fliers to inform the public of the hit-and-run collision and the $25,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the assailant(s).

Damian was struck on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:30AM, the timing and distribution area correlate to the time and location of the hit-and-run one month ago.  There is a strong possibility the assailant was playing soccer at or near the field prior to the accident.

WHEN:
Sunday March 24, 2013
10:30AM Check-In
Public outreach from 10:45AM-12:00PM
 
WHERE:
John Ferraro Athletic Fields – Griffith Park
Meet at the Giant Soccer Ball adjacent to the soccer field parking lot
4701 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 91207

BACKGROUND: On Sunday February 17, 2013, Damian Kevitt was struck by a light colored minivan, possibly a gray Toyota Sienna which might have had a “for sale” sign posted in the rear window, on Zoo Drive near the Ferraro Soccer Complex and Dog Park.  The driver was possibly wearing a soccer jersey.

A $25,000 reward is being offered by the City of Los Angeles and the CHP to find the hit-and-run driver.  Anyone with information is asked to call CHP’s Altadena station at (626) 296-8100 or (323) 259-2010

Damian Kevitt was struck on on Feb. 17 around 11:35 a.m. when a minivan made a hard left, that struck and dragged him 600 feet down the Interstate 5 on-ramp until he fell from the vehicle.  The violent collision broke 20 bones and crushed his right leg.  Doctors had to amputate his right leg below the knee.  His left foot is missing tissue and skin and may also need to be amputated the road rash was so severe, it was down to the bone on Kevitt’s left elbow, and his buttocks will need skin grafts.

………

In a heartbreaking case, police blame a 14-year old Redwood City bike rider for her own death in a right-hook collision.

The official conclusion is that she undertook a truck that was signaling for a right turn, and got squeezed out when the road narrowed at a bulb-out. However, it’s far more likely that the truck overtook her, then cut her off by turning in front of her.

Unfortunately, the victim isn’t around to tell her own side of the story.

But a local rider does a pretty good job of telling it for her; link courtesy of LadyFluer.

But regardless of how it happened or who was at fault, there’s something terribly wrong with expecting a 14-year old to ride and react like an experienced cyclist just to stay alive on her way to school.

………

The family of fallen hit-and-run victim Benjamin Torres still hope for justice, six months after he was killed while riding to work. Boyonabike looks at Thursday’s LACBC-sponsored discussion on making bike-friendly places. An LMU student tells what it’s like to crash the LA Marathon with thousands of other riders. Will Campbell enjoys the irony of biking to the DMV. Pasadena City College installs a self-serve bike repair station; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Streetsblog is throwing itself a 5th birthday party and Streetsie Award dinner on Saturday, April 27th.  C.I.C.L.E. hosts a Street Art Ride for the Pasadena Earth and Arts Festival on Saturday, April 20th. Ride with the mayor of increasingly bike-friendly Glendale on Saturday, April 6th. Santa Monica bike riders deliver Meals on Two Wheels. A Valencia woman faces up to four years for seriously injuring a bike rider in a hit-and-run. Long delayed Calabasas bike-centric farm-to-table restaurant Pedalers Fork is scheduled to open April 15th; let’s see, that’s only a 52 mile roundtrip ride from my place…

A look at San Diego bike paths. Residents are divided on a proposal to right-size a roadway in Riverside; that’s the new, more PC term for a road diet. Riverside’s mayor invites the public to join him on a bike ride today. A Hemet bike rider is airlifted to a trauma center following a collision. More — and more secure — bike racks coming soon to Bakersfield. In a bizarre case, a Fresno cyclist stabs two men after claiming another driver hit his bike when he stopped to help a stranded motorist. If you’re going to break the law by riding on the sidewalk in a city that bans it, leave the meth at home. A bike rider is hit and killed by a pickup in Clear Lake. Don’t plan on renting a bike in Yosemite anytime soon; not even for a guided fundraising ride to dismantle the park’s Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which never should have been built in the first place.

People for Bikes invites you to turn your bike into art. Those woodpecker-inspired cardboard bike helmets should be on the market this summer, while a new prototype headlight projects your current speed onto the roadway in front of you. Tell Bicycling about your favorite ride, and you could win a new bike valued at up to $4,999; my favorite ride is usually the one I’m on. Car commuters, even those who work out, put on more weigh than active commuters. How to ride to work and still wear a suit. Idaho bike club bands together to buy their own Watch for Bikes signs. How to build protected bike lanes even confident cyclists will use. A Minnesota city ends its experiment with advisory bike lanes, deciding a permanent bike lane is preferable. A New York bike rider breaks the rules of subway etiquette. New York bicyclists demand the NYPD get off its collective ass and hold killer drivers accountable; okay, some of that anger might actually be mine. Atlanta cyclists struggle to co-exist with motorists. Two Miami-area mayors ride to work for National Bike to Work Day, which doesn’t actually take place until May. Cycling Weekly gets the skinny on biking scion Taylor Phinney.

The long and ever-growing list of very high-end bikes from exclusive auto manufacturers. The difference between UK and US police is the Brits apologize after they hit you. British cyclists understandably take offense at being called Lycra-clad lemmings. A British pro soccer player credits his helmet with saving his life when a driver swerves into his bike. Road rage strikes even in the middle of a bike race, as a team car not-so-gently nudges a motorcycle out of the way. The Cannibal, AKA legendary cycling great Eddy Merckx, should be back on his bike in a couple weeks after getting a pacemaker. Spanish bicyclists seek asylum at European embassies to protest anti-bike legislation. Here’s your chance to help buy bikes for orphans in Kenya. The first African pro team to compete in a spring classic surprisingly wins the first time out. Tanzanian cyclists ride to support victims of sickle cell disease. New Zealand rider Jack Bauer — no, not the fictional terrorist fighter — suffers a nasty concussion in a racing crash. Safety issues discourage Aussie women from riding. Taiwan needs to lower its speed limits to become a bicycling island. A Thai bike rider’s body is scattered like roadkill in a horrific multiple hit-and-run; seriously, unless you have a strong stomach, you may not want to read that one.

Finally, an amputee makes his own prosthetic finger out of spare bicycle parts. Patrick at Red Kite Prayer continues to remind us that there are things far more important than riding a bike, as heretical as that may seem sometimes. Latest word is the surgery went well, but prayers and good thoughts, whatever you’re comfortable with, are still needed.

And ending on a more upbeat note, UK band British Sea Power becomes the latest group to offer a bike-centric music video. I say it has a nice beat and it’s easy to ride to.

Update: Courtesy of Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, here’s a story I missed last night, as a very pregnant Seattle woman gets out of a car, pulls a stun gun out of her bra and shoots a bike messenger in the face twice. The male driver of the car also got out and swung a second stun gun at the messenger, both apparently in retaliation for the messenger kicking the car’s wheel well in a crosswalk dispute.

Get a ticket for not signaling? Maybe you didn’t really break the law

Maybe you don’t have to signal your turns after all.

Turns out drivers don’t.

Like many Californians, I have long labored under the assumption that all road users — motorists and bicyclists alike — are required to signal every turn or lane change.

Something many, if not most, fail to do.

After all, there’s no point in tipping off total strangers about where you’re headed.

Still, it’s not uncommon for bike riders to be ticketed for failing to stick an arm out — preferably with multiple fingers extended — to let those around them know which way they’re going to go.

But as it turns out, it may not be illegal.

The section of the vehicle code that specifies our right to ride on the roadway, CVC 21200, clearly states “a person riding a bicycle… has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle….”

In other words, any law that applies to a driver applies to a bike rider. And drivers don’t have to signal their turns unless it affects other vehicles.

But don’t take my word for it. It says so right here in CVC 22107

22107.  No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

So if your turn doesn’t interfere with the movement of other road users, a signal isn’t required.

For instance, if you’re making a left turn onto a street with no vehicle traffic, there should be no legal requirement to signal. The only exception would be if there were cars in front or behind you on the first street whose movement might be affected by knowing if you’re going to turn or go straight.

Or say you’re turning right onto a street with a designated bike lane. A turn signal shouldn’t be necessary, even if there are cars on the street you’re turning onto because they aren’t legally allowed to drive in a bike lane, and therefore shouldn’t be affected by your movement.

Of course, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you won’t get a ticket for it.

But as bike lawyer Bob Mionske pointed out recently, if you get a ticket for something like that and you can afford to fight it, you probably should.

There’s a good chance that the officer who wrote the ticket won’t show up in court and the case will be dismissed. Or even if he or she does, the officer may not clearly remember the case — which is yet another reason to never argue with a cop so your case doesn’t stand out in his mind.

But assuming he does, ask the officer to diagram the location of every vehicle on the street at the time of the alleged infraction. And explain exactly which ones were affected by your failure to signal, and how.

If he can’t do it, the case should be dismissed.

Key words being, should be.

Because as we should all know by now, the courts don’t always bend over backwards to ensure justice for those of us on two wheels.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t signal your turns.

You should.

It’s smart. It’s courteous. And it’s usually safer, though there are times when prudence dictates keeping both hands on your handlebars.

And lord knows, you don’t want to argue with Prudence.

But you may not be breaking the law after all. Even if you don’t lift a finger.

Update: Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious points out that this law could be read to refer to movement of the vehicle, rather than a requirement to signal. The problem is, the law was written in the 1950s, evidently prior to the invention of punctuation, which could have clarified the meaning.

………

Then again, if you ride in Alhambra, you may be breaking the law.

But only if you live there.

That city is one of a rapidly dwindling list of towns that still requires registering your bike, even if does only cost a dollar to do so.

But despite what their city ordinance says, you can’t legally be ticked for riding your bike in Alhambra if you live in another city and haven’t licensed it in the city you live in. If your city even requires it.

That’s because their law is illegal.

The section of the state vehicle code that allows cities to require bike licenses, CVC 39002, clearly states that any such licensing requirement applies only to residents of that particular city. And therefore, may not be applied to anyone biking in or through that city who doesn’t actually live there.

So you live in Alhambra and get a ticket for not licensing your bike, pay it.

If not, once again, fight it.

………

Laemmle Theater president Greg Laemmle, your host for Team LACBC at Climate Ride

Laemmle Theater president Greg Laemmle, your host for Team LACBC at Climate Ride

Here’s your chance to take part in the upcoming Climate Ride for free.

And maybe even have your required fundraising done for you.

Laemmle Theaters invites you to ride along with company president and LACBC board member Greg Laemmle on the five-day fundraising ride through Northern California to benefit sustainable transit and green energy.

Four winners will have their entry fee paid as members of Team LACBC, and win a free pass for two at any Laemmle Theater for the remainder of this year.

And one of those four winners will receive the grand prize, meaning the company will contribute the minimum required fundraising amount of $2400 on your behalf.

Which means you’ll not only ride for free, but all your required fundraising will be done for you. Of course, you’re still welcome to raise more money on your own; it is a good cause, after all.

You just have to fill out the simple form on the link above, and explain why you want to ride with Greg.

Entries are due by April 5th.

………

Finally, after riding through the Biking Black Hole both ways on my way too and from a meeting in Downtown L.A. on Wednesday night, I have a suggestion for their new city motto:

Beverly Hills. Where the bike lane ends.

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