Sometimes it seems the truth doesn’t even matter anymore.
At least, not when it gets in the way of a bias against bicycles and those who ride them.
Stick with me here, because this is going to be a recurring theme today.
We’ll start with what was apparently a semi-tongue-in-cheek article in last week’s LA Weekly.
In it, writer Dennis Romero — who famously proclaimed impending disaster before the first CicLAvia and seldom seems to miss an opportunity to unleash his snark on those of us on two wheels — offers five suggestions for solving the city’s traffic problems, from penalizing drivers who stop the flow of traffic to mandatory loss of license for any driver over 65.
Never mind that drivers aged 65 to 74 have the lowest rate of fatal collisions of any age group.
Then there’s his number one traffic solution — Take back the bike lanes.
….taking an entire car lane and giving it to bike riders, as has been done in some parts of town, is useless. It means double the number of cars in one lane and, often, an unused bike lane that neither protects riders from cars nor particularly entices the cyclist. Take a ride down 7th Street, which used to have four lanes and now has two, and you’ll see both mad traffic and an empty bike lane next to you…
That reference to “mad traffic — whatever that means — took me by surprise. Because 7th Street, post road diet, has morphed into one of the calmest, sanest and safest streets I ride on a regular basis.
It wasn’t always so.
Before the road diet went in about a year-and-a-half back — or before it was right-sized, to use the current, more PC planning term — 7th felt more like the wild west, as impatient drivers took to the lightly utilized street to zoom past more heavily congested routes such as Wilshire Blvd and 6th Street, just one and two blocks north, respectively.
And many of those drivers seemed less than disposed to share those lanes with the cyclists who rode them specifically because they were quieter, if not always safer, than those other streets.
Post downsizing, it has become one of the most popular riding routes between Downtown and the Westside. Despite the city’s failure to repave or patch the badly broken asphalt where the bike lanes went in, leading to an at-times bone-jarring ride, especially after dark when the potholes and cracked pavement are harder to see.
Let alone avoid.
I frequently use it myself, at all times of the day or night, as I ride in or out of DTLA for various meetings.
And despite what Mr. Romero suggests, I have yet to see anything close to traffic congestion on the repainted street.
Or angry — or crazy — drivers, for that matter.
Or any other form of the word mad, as it could be applied to traffic on the street.
But don’t take my word for it.
Consider this helmet cam video from last Thursday, recorded as I rode to an interview during what passes for the lunch rush on 7th.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing exciting about it.
In fact, it may be the most boring video I’ve ever posted online. Nothing of any consequence happens.
There’s no right hooks. No left crosses. No near doorings. No impatient drivers honking for me to move out of their way.
Although I did catch a motorist driving in the bike lane about a minute-and-three-quarters in, something I missed until I looked at the footage later that night.
And more to the point, no traffic congestion or angry drivers. No back-ups. No needlessly impeded traffic.
And no, it wasn’t any different when I rode back home at rush hour. Except I saw a lot more bike riders using the bike lanes in both directions.
Where Romero encounters that “mad traffic” that would justify yanking out the bike lanes and restoring automotive hegemony over the street is beyond me.
But I can say without the slightest doubt, it’s not on 7th Street.
Speaking of bike lanes, I was shocked to see new bike lanes on Wilshire Blvd — yes, Wilshire — in the Westwood area.
Evidently, the lanes went in after the roadway was recently repaved from Beverly Glen Blvd east to Comstock Ave, finally fixing one of the worst stretches of roadway in the City of Angeles, unaffectionately known by local cyclists as The Gauntlet.
It may go further west, but I was unable to see beyond the crest of the hill before making my turn at Beverly Glen. But I’m told the bike lanes will eventually reach west to Selby.
Of course, the bike lanes are only going in because the Condo Canyon millionaires’ row in the Westwood area was carved out of the planned Bus Rapid Transit Project, where bikes would have shared a lane with buses, allowing the hoi polloi to mingle with the overprivileged, at least on the streets.
But I’ll gladly take the bike lanes, and the finally, and unexpectedly, smooth pavement.
Now then, back to today’s theme.
In one of the most egregiously misguided pieces in recent memory, a writer in the UK takes issue with a new paved shared-use pathway in the Warwickshire countryside, decrying what sounds like an ideal pathway as a “grim cycle route” has become the domain of the “Lycra Brigade.”
Thankfully, most of the comments question her judgment. If not her sanity.
Thanks to DD Syrdal for the link.
Then there’s this one.
Writing for the London Guardian, the Executive Director of Scotland’s Daily Mail says that encouraging his fellow countrymen and women to bike will only result in more heart attacks, while making offices smell like “a badger’s arse.”
Though just how he has become intimately acquainted with the unique aroma of a badger’s butt is a question I am reluctant to ask.
For the benefit of motorists like those above, a Canadian writer offers six ways to kill a cyclist.
Although he forgets one of the simplest and most effective — just frighten riders off the road until they eventually die of inactivity in front of the TV or behind the wheel of their surprisingly not-actually safer SUV.
A British study shows that maybe that driver really didn’t see you, as over a fifth of all motorists seem blind to cyclists; thanks to Matt Ruscigno for the heads-up.
Speaking of Matt, Patrick Pascal shared a great photo of Sunday’s view from the top of Fargo Street, as the competitors in L.A.’s 8th Annual Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer stage hill climb race organized by Mr. Ruscigno struggle up the near impossible and virtually impassable climb.
Hopefully, we’ll soon find out who won.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has his right shoulder replaced after a serious fall from his bicycle. Odd; I would have assumed he’d lean to the left. Thanks to David Huntsman and Patrick Pascal for the tip.
And finally, maybe there is something to that study, as a Mulholland motorcyclist plows a pair of bike riders.
I’m told the rider somehow fixated on the cyclists directly in front of him, and was unable to avoid what he was staring at.
Reports are the rider seem to be okay; one walked away while the other was taken to a hospital to get checked out. No word on whether the motorcyclist was injured, ticketed or charged.
My sincere thanks to everyone who submitted a link to this video via email, comments on here or Twitter. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten another story from so many sources.