Archive for August 22, 2013

Stupid human tricks: Hit-and-run triathlete, assault on a cyclist, and confused SF and NYC cops and DAs

Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a common theme to much of this week’s news.

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A Chicago cyclist is injured in a deliberate assault, as a passenger in a passing SUV reaches out and grabs her messenger bag, dragging her alongside the vehicle until her bike crashed into a parked car.

Evidently, just for the heck it, as she reported that the occupants were laughing as they risked her life.

Fortunately, she wasn’t badly hurt. But it’s another argument for protected bike lanes as she was quick to point out.

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Following the death of a San Francisco bicyclist, members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition held a rally calling for improved safety and a separated bike lane on the street where she was right hooked by a truck driver who illegally turned across the bike lane she was riding in.

Evidently, one of San Francisco’s finest didn’t get the memo.

He illegally parked his patrol car in the middle of the bike lane, in the middle of the rally — despite an empty parking space to his right — forcing riders to leave the bike lane to go around his car. All to make a point that bike riders are supposed to pass on the left, just like anyone else.

Except they aren’t. Bikes are allowed to split lanes in California. And cyclists using a bike lane are in a separate lane from automotive traffic, and are no more required to stop for traffic in the lane next to them than a driver in the right lane would be expected to stop for one in the left.

Which isn’t to say it’s not the smartest move in response to clueless drivers sometimes.

Better to come to a full stop even though the law doesn’t require it than end up under the wheels of a car or truck.

And he blamed the death of Amelie Le Moullac, and two other bike riders killed by trucks in the same area this year, strictly on the victims. Even though the truck driver who killed Le Moullac was most likely overtaking her, rather than the other way around.

So he took the law into his own hands, apparently making the law up as he went along and needlessly risking the safety of anyone using that bike lane, just to blame the victim of a collision that’s still under investigation and attempting to bully bike riders into seeing the world through his own windshield perspective.

Sound about right?

If he’s not working a desk and worrying about his pension today, there’s something seriously wrong in Baghdad by the Bay.

Thanks to murphstahoe and Bike Soup USA for the heads-up.

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Thankfully, not all San Francisco cops have their heads so far up their own badges, as the department responded to a tweet from a tipster to bust a bike chop shop.

And speaking of bike thieves, a San Francisco resident noticed one riding off on a stolen bike. And promptly nailed him with an ice cube from his third floor apartment.

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In a case of someone who really should have known better, a well-known San Francisco triathlete has been arrested for the hit-and-run that left a Bay Area business suffering from the after effects of a severe brain injury.

Ironman champion Meredith Kessler was allegedly driving the SUV that ran into Soren Krogh-Jensen as he walked in a crosswalk last March, tossing him into the air before crashing back down ob his head. Security video shows her remaining at the scene for several minutes, reportedly checking the victim before getting back in her car and running away like just another heartless coward.

You’d expect better behavior from someone who rides a bike, especially at that level.

At least, I would.

Then again, instant karma seems to have played a role, as Kessler suffered a head injury herself in a collision with another rider while competing in a triathlon that followed the hit-and-run.

And yes, I know karma doesn’t really work that way.

But still.

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On the opposite coast, a New York City cop decides to ticket a bike rider for going through a red light by knocking her off her bike, apparently failing to realize — or perhaps not caring — that any fall from a bike can result in serious injury.

Or worse.

That’s like deliberately crashing into a driver’s vehicle in order to make a simple traffic stop. Or pistol whipping a pedestrian for jaywalking.

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Update: Thanks to Joe B for pointing out that the case below actually dates to 2009. For some reason it popped up in a web search for stories posted online in the previous 24 hours, and I neglected to check the date before writing this. So the good news is, maybe today’s New York isn’t as bad as it seems; or maybe the bad news is, this sort of thing has been going on longer than we thought. 

Or maybe I just need to avoid posting my own stories after 1 am. My apologies.

In another example of the sheer idiocy of officials in supposedly bike-friendly New York, a rider faces a charge of criminal mischief after he was deliberately doored by the driver of a massive SUV.

The vehicle was stopped partially blocking a protected bike lane with no indication of why it was stopped; but when the rider attempted to go around it, it started moving again.

So the cyclist responded by slapping the side of the SUV to warn the driver he was there; I’ve done the same thing more than once, and seen other cyclists do it as well.

It usually scares the crap out of the driver, but it’s better than getting run over by someone who doesn’t even know you’re there.

But I’ve never seen anyone respond the way this driver did, flinging open his door into the victim and knocking him off his bike. Then standing over him threateningly before picking up the man’s bike and setting it on the kickstand and driving away.

Leave it to the New York DA’s office to victimize the victim all over again, apparently for that potentially life-saving tap on the driver’s door.

According to the story, criminal mischief requires property damage in excess of $250 — which is far more likely to have been caused by the door hitting the rider than the other way around.

And this from the city Bicycling ranks as the 7th most bike-friendly community in the US.

Maybe the New York DA’s office didn’t get the memo, either.

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In another horrifying case from Gotham City, a taxi driver took the leg — or possibly legs — of an English tourist after an apparent dispute with a bike rider.

And Dr. Oz came running to the rescue.

The bike rider, who was injured in the incident, was next to the cab when the driver allegedly became impatient while attempting to make a left turn. When the rider attempted to tell him to stop, the cabbie reportedly became angry and stepped on the gas, tossing the cyclist onto his hood before slamming into the woman who was sitting on a piece of concrete street furniture.

Her life was apparently saved by a bystander who had the presence of mind to use his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding on her severed leg, while another put the amputated limb on ice. Reports are her other foot was crushed and may not be able to be saved.

TV’s Dr. Oz reportedly saw the collision from his studio window, and came down to help, followed by a camera crew.

Needless to say, the NYPD seems to have ignored everything leading up to the crash and quickly determined there was no criminality involved. Not an impatient, careless or road raging driver, but just another tragic oops.

Fortunately, the city’s DA — yes, the same ones who charged the cyclist in the previous story — is taking another look at it. And the agency responsible for licensing cab drivers is taking steps to revoke the driver’s taxi license for a whopping 30 days; although under the circumstances, life would seem more appropriate.

Meanwhile, advocates are trying to get the NYPD to take traffic crime seriously, instead of just targeting bike riders while ignoring speeding motorists.

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A Florida detective makes a U-turn without checking his mirror, and collides with a driver in the next lane. But of course, it’s the stop sign-running bike rider who gets the blame.

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A British mom gives her hockey playing son a new BMW because she thought it was too dangerous to ride his bike to work.

Forty-two days later, he was killed driving his new car.

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Newport Beach’s highway-style right turn lanes put cyclists and pedestrians at needless risk. Actually, these are far too common throughout Orange County as well as San Diego County; another example of well-meaning but outdated planning gone dangerously amuck.

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But at least the Tour de France was dope-free this year. Right?

Although now that I think about it, I remember the same being said about Lance in the not too distant past.

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Finally, here’s the story I wrote for LA Streetsblog as guest editor yesterday, reporting on the new Save Our Streets LA proposal to repave the city’s crumbling streets.

And hopefully fix the sidewalks and install bikeways and build complete streets in the process.

Good news and bad news

Okay, so the bad news is that I didn’t get to write today’s post last night. And since I’m guest editing LA Streetsblog today, I won’t have a chance to make up for it this morning.

The good news is, the reason I couldn’t write it was because I was hosting a discussion on bike education for KPFK’s Bike Talk program.

Bike Talk host Nick Richert, C.I.C.L.E.‘s Julia Lippe-Klein, LACBC Education Director Colin Bogart, Jim Shanman of Walk and Rollers, Tana Ball, Education Director of Youth Education Sports, and Cynthia Rose, Director of Santa Monica Spoke all joined in on a free-flowing and informative talk about the need for educating beginning cyclists as well as more experienced riders.

Not to mention teaching motorists and the general public about the rights of cyclists, and how to ride around bicycles.

It was a great conversation, and I thank everyone who participated. Especially for keeping me from sounding like a complete idiot my first time hosting a radio show.

A partial idiot, I can live with.

The unedited version is online now; the edited discussion should be available later today.

Meanwhile, here’s a recent helmet cam video showing that sometimes, it’s the unexpected dangers you have to worry about at intersections.

A look at Camp Pendleton collision site; a killer driver may be back on the streets three years early

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent took a trip down to San Diego County in the wake of the Camp Pendleton collision that killed Udo Heinz and left fellow rider John Edwards critically injured.

Did you know you’re required to wear a helmet to ride at Pendleton? Learned that the Del Mar gate. So I own a helmet now. (And I want to read Heinz’s autopsy report to see whether his helped any.)

The site of the collision is on a shoulder-less stretch of two lane road, divided with a double yellow, between two guardrails. Signs indicate the bike route, set the maximum speed at 45 mph, and remind cyclists to ride single file. The shoulder completely disappears as the road crosses what appears to be a broad wash; the lanes may be substandard width, but I was too scared to stop to measure, partly because I was going too fast to discern whether there was non-sloping space on the other side of the guardrail to set my bike, and partly because there was just enough traffic to disincline me from stopping (or even slowing) long enough to find out.

The roadway’s in good repair; I didn’t notice any violent bumps or scary surface infrastructure like fissures or moguls. It’s certainly preferable to, say, Wilshire Blvd. This stretch of road is also completely straight, without even the gentlest curve that could possibly impair a driver’s view. The video from the NCTD bus shows absolutely no traffic coming from the opposite direction, although that video makes it seem as if the blind vertical curve ahead is much closer than it is. The hills worried me a lot more than the big vehicles on the road. In fact, the motorists on Pendleton seemed attentive and, frankly, kind of slower than I’d expected, not just in passing but generally. Passing through Oceanside afterwards was unpleasant in comparison.

New infrastructure on PCH stunned me. The stretch through downtown Oceanside is still bike-unfriendly, but going through other towns on the way to Del Mar blew my mind. There’s signage (regulatory & wayfinding), bike lanes, charming bike racks, bulbouts, ped-activated crossings with embedded flashing beacons, and even sharrows. Sharrows! On Highway 101! One town even had a portable message board parked in the median to inform road users what the heck these newfangled sharrows are for.

I crashed the memorial for Udo Conrad Heinz. Attendance was huge (I tried to count, but gave up after several attempts, and have to just estimate “well over two hundred”). Udo’s wife was clearly touched, and his son watched everything somberly with his great big eyes. I spoke very briefly with Susanne Davis, who left a comment on your blog, and she is hoping there will be a push now for a change in legislation to protect vulnerable road users, an Udo’s Law. (Also she mentioned in her comment the friendly attentiveness of the tank drivers at Pendleton, but part of this may be because she’s really attractive.)  The memorial touched everyone, family, friends, neighbors, fellow riders, former colleagues… I’m surprised the guy’s mailman didn’t show (maybe he did?) And the sunset was lovely.

On the return trip, I missed the Coaster because I was taking so many pictures of the aforementioned new infrastructure, so with darkness falling, I decided to catch the bus. I was standing under a lighted street lamp, wearing an extra large ANSI Class III hi-vis reflective vest, and shouldering a chrome bike with two reflective spoke cards. Also my bag, which has a prominent reflective stripe, was sitting on the bus bench next to me. I was almost blinded by the stupid blue-white high-intensity headlights of the approaching NCTD bus, which very clearly wasn’t slowing down or maneuvering towards the curb. I actually had to holler and wave to get the driver to notice me. As I boarded, I apologized sarcastically for my invisibility, and received no response. I’d hate to encounter this oblivious, unapologetic driver while riding.

Very shortly thereafter, the drivers changed shifts at a stop. The first thing the new driver did was wipe the front windows down. There was an amazing difference in visibility. The new driver said that it’s not a requirement for drivers to clean the windows, but it’s something he took upon himself to do as soon as he began driving Route 101, which is the coastal bus, because the sea spray builds up so fast. Sometimes, he said, he’ll even do it mid-route when it’s necessary.

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She also reports that Danae Marie Miller, — the driver convicted of killing Orange County triathlete Amine Britel while allegedly drunk and texting — appears to be out of prison well before her four year sentence is up, with no public explanation.

Danae Marie Miller’s out of prison. There’s no record of her within the California Dep’t of Corrections & Rehabilitation, at any rate. She could have been “realigned” to a county or city jail (not in any of the half-dozen I’ve checked, though.) She could be under monitored house arrest. She could be on unsupervised probation. She could be out there drunk & texting on the roads at this minute. Amine Britel? Still dead.

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LA’s hit-and-run epidemic hit a horrifying climax this past weekend, as four innocent victims lost their lives to murderous drivers who couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to save a life in four separate incidents.

Including a 19-year old woman and a three-year old child.

It’s clear that we need to change the law to halt this bloody crime spree. Including making the penalty for hit-and-run equivalent to drunk driving, to remove the incentive to flee the scene if a driver has been drinking.

If the victim dies, the driver should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim’s life might have been saved if the driver had stopped long enough to render aid or call 911 before fleeing like a coward — let alone lived up to their responsibility as a decent human being.

Yet as the Danae Miller case suggest, the current prison overcrowding crisis means that anyone convicted under such a law is unlikely to serve more than a fraction of their prison term. We need to take steps to insure anyone who flees the scene of a collision loses their privilege to drive for decades.

If not for life.

And the car they used to commit the crime is seized and sold, with the proceeds given to the victim; after all, you don’t give a bank robber back the gun he used.

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Last chance to help the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition set the city’s priorities for biking and walking.

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The MyFigueroa project is set for final approval, including LA’s first, albeit reduced in scope, cycle tracks, which even AARP approves of. Though someone might want to mention to LADOT that there are space-saving alternatives to creating semi-permeable car-blocking barriers.

And Streetsblog reports you still have to worry whether the long-planned Expo bikeway will survive latest assault from the wealthy homeowners in Cheviot Hills. These are the same people who argued in the past that a bike path would put their homes at risk from bike riding burglars who might try to peddle away with their 60” flat screens.

Just as an aside, I will be guest curating Streetsblog once again tomorrow.

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Don’t forget tonight’s public meeting to review recommendations to improve safety on PCH in Malibu. If you can’t make it, another meeting will be held on Thursday. This is your chance to stop another serial killer — this time, one of Southern California’s most deadly highways.

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LA traffic would be a lot better if the city’s commuters would follow UCLA’s example. Only 51% of campus employees drive alone, compared to 70% of Los Angeles commuters — and nearly 75% of the university’s students use some form of alternative transportation.

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Finally, anyone into adventure cycling will want to follow the exploits of Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley, who are just eight days into a planned 100 day, 11,184 mile ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa.

You can keep up with Pakravan and Pawley on Twitter as they make their way across three continents.

Friday’s ride, in which I met another bike rider the hard way

Okay, so I’m moving a little slow today.

August just hasn’t been my month as far as bike riding is concerned. Normally, I try to put in 100 to 150 miles a week this time of year, when increased fitness and summer weather usually combine for the year’s most enjoyable riding.

But various distractions have kept me off my bike much of the summer, to the point that I’ve averaged less than 30 miles a week for the past three weeks.

Part of that is due to last Friday’s limited ride, interrupted by a bike on bike collision on the bike path in Santa Monica, followed by a slow ride home with blood trickling down my leg.

Somehow, I failed to remember the alcohol swabs and bandages stashed in my seat bag. Or that the reason I shave my legs is precisely so bandages will adhere to them.

But that’s what happens when I break my own rules. 

First rule of thumb is to never ride the beachfront bike during the summer. And if I do, to do it in the morning when traffic on the pathway is at its lightest. 

But a late start meant a shorter ride than I had planned, while a lingering migraine suggested an easier route than the hill-filled one I’d penciled in earlier. Which led to the conclusion that an easy coast along the coast would be the best option to get at least a few miles in.

Then there’s my rule about avoiding the most crowded section of the pathway between the Venice and Santa Monica piers on Friday afternoons, when newly arrived tourists head straight to the beach, joining with locals who don’t appear to have been on a bike in years to form a rolling blockade and human obstacle course.

Don’t get me wrong. 

It’s not that they don’t have a right to be there, other than the chronically unenforced and inadequately marked bike-only sections. State law gives pedestrians a right to share the bike path — any bike path — anywhere there isn’t an alternative pedestrian walkway, such as the famed Venice Boardwalk, within a relatively few feet.

In fact, the newly restriped Santa Monica sections of the pathway include pedestrian walkways on either side of the bike path, though they aren’t adequately indicated as such.

It was a funny, but telling, moment at the most recent meeting of the LAPD’s bike task force when the subject of the beachfront Marvin Braude bikeway through Santa Monica and Venice came up. And the experienced bike cop next to me and I both said in unison that it was the single most dangerous place we ride.

Evidently, something about the presence of sand and sea air seems to disconnect the standard safety centers of the brain.

Or maybe it’s just the absence of sobriety that seems to go hand-in-hand with weekends at the beach.

Either way, it’s a risk I usually try to avoid. Except this time I didn’t.

Then there’s my third rule of thumb, which exceeds the standard allotment of opposable digits by roughly 50%, and forces me to use a finger in place of a thumb. Or borrow one from a total stranger, which seldom seems to be a good idea.

As an old school rider, I was taught to call it out whenever I pass another rider or pedestrian, with a simple “on your left” or “passing right” in the rare instance that the other person’s position makes that the safer option.

And yes, I know some people prefer bike bells. But a bell can only tell you a bike is present. Or an angel just got its wings.

Using my voice, I can tell them not only that I’m there, but that I am passing and which side I’m passing on.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that some people tend to get lost in their own world once they get to the beach. And even the most polite announcement can startle them.

So I’ll sometimes save my breath if I don’t think there’s any risk that they might move in front of me, or if I can give them at least the three-foot passing distance I’d expect from a motorist. Or if they’re wearing ear buds and aren’t likely to hear me anyway.

In this case, the bike path was just as crowded as you’d expect for a sunny summer Friday afternoon. And I was taking my time, both because of the crowds and my still aching head.

But even rolling far below my usual speed, I was still faster than the assorted beach cruisers and motley mountain bikes crowding the bikeway. So I’d wait patiently until there was a break in traffic coming the other way, then slide around the walkers and riders ahead of me, either calling it out as I passed or giving them as much room as I could.

And if the situation didn’t allow it, such as slowly working my way through the great mass of humanity jumbled before the skate park in Venice, I just didn’t pass until it was safe to do so.

It was an approach that got me safely, if slowly, through Venice Beach and well into Santa Monica, when I came upon a pair of casual cyclists riding slowly ahead.

So I moved onto the other side of the bike path, and was just deciding whether to call it out when the rider closest to me suddenly swung left, making a 90-degree turn directly in front of me.

I grabbed my brakes and swung left with him, but a collision was unavoidable.

We hit hard, my right impacting his left. Fortunately, we both managed to remain upright; somehow, though, I seemed to take the brunt of the impact. He was next to me in seconds, asking if I was okay and apologizing profusely, though he did say I should have called out that I was passing.

In retrospect, he was right. Although he turned before I had a chance to say something.

He and his bike seemed fine. Mine looked okay, other than a dropped chain.

On the other hand, I was pretty badly shaken, and both wrists hurt from holding the handlebars tightly at the moment of impact, but nothing seemed broken. Then there was a roughly two-square-inch abrasion inside my left knee, apparently from hitting the air pump I keep strapped to my frame.

The one I often find myself loaning to other riders after they run out of air cartridges or their cartridges fail to get the job done.

He seemed to expect me to be angry, but it was just one of those things. His failure to look before turning made a collision inevitable, but I could have done things differently, as well.

So we shook hands, and went our separate ways.

I probably shouldn’t have, though. My failure to even remember I had a first aid kit, let alone actually use it, was a pretty good indication I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I briefly debated continuing on my way before accepting that it probably wouldn’t be the best idea. Fortunately, I remembered yet another rule of thumb — after any collision or fall, you’re probably hurt more than you realize at the time, since injuries have a way of revealing themselves hours after the impact.

I have no idea how the other guy felt the next morning.

But I spent the weekend nursing a pair of jammed wrists and a stiff back. Not to mention a patch of knee missing its epidermis.

I’ll live.

All in all, I limped away — figuratively, anyway — in about as good a shape as I could have hoped under the circumstances. Had either of us hit the pavement, it might have been a different story.

But it serves as a reminder that the seeming safety of the bike path is an illusion. And you need to ride defensively every moment, because you never know when someone will do exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I did almost everything right.

And this time, it wasn’t nearly good enough.

Bike classes, SaMo MANGo meeting, Bike Learn & Celebrate in Watts, and 5th Annual Tour de Arts

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

Metro continues to offer a series of free bike safety classes throughout the LA area, including classes this weekend in Rosemead and La Verne, as well as a Spanish language classes in Hawthorne and Pomona.

This Saturday, August 17th, the Santa Monica Spoke hosts a discussion of the city’s planned Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo) from 11 am to 2:30 pm at 502 Colorado Ave. The meeting will also include updates on the Expo Line, the city’s Bike Action Plan and bike parking, as well as other projects.

Good LA hosts Bike | Learn | Celebrate in Watts, a free bike ride and discussion with community leaders on Saturday, August 17th. The ride starts at 3 pm at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), 10950 S. Central Ave.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art is hosting their fifth annual Tour de Arts this Sunday, August 18th from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is free, but registration is required; 2525 Michigan Ave.

San Marino is holding a meeting of the city’s Traffic Advisory Commission at 8 pm Monday, August 19th in the Barth Room of the Crowell Library, 1890 Huntington Drive; the meeting will include discussion of the proposed Lorain and Del Mar bikeways.

Formerly bike-unfriendly Malibu has made great strides in recent years. See just how far they’ve come in their efforts to re-envision the deadly PCH corridor with twin public meetings to review the draft Alternatives Analysis Report for the city’s PCH Safety Study on Tuesday, August 20th and Thursday, August 22nd. Both meetings will run from 6 pm to 8 pm at Malibu City Hall, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.

The Planning Committee of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosts a panel discussion on What Do Elected Officials Want to Hear on Thursday, August 22nd at 7 pm in the Edison Room on the 1st Floor of LACBC Headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street. Free for LACBC members, $10 for non-members.

Saturday, August 24th, you’re invited to attend the launch of Active Streets LA, a partnership of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, TRUST South LA, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation with funding through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The family friendly festivities run from 10 am to 2 pm, with a bike/walk at 11:30 am, at Angeles Mesa Elementary School, 2611 W 52nd St.

The second annual Clitoral Mass — yes, you read that right — women’s ride rolls on Saturday, August 24th from 4 pm to midnight. Riders assemble at Watts Towers, 1765 E. 107th Street.

Your yearly opportunity to ride San Diego’s iconic Coronado Bay Bridge comes on Sunday, August 25th with the annual 25-mile Bike the Bay ride through the cities surrounding the San Diego Bay.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Civic Engagement Committee meets at 6:45 pm on the last Tuesday of each month to discuss how to elect and influence bike-friendly politicians. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 27th, at the Johnnie’s Pizza at 5757 Wilshire Blvd in Museum Square. The meetings are open to everyone, and you don’t have to be an LACBC member to participate; email bikinginla at hotmail dot com to be added to the discussion list.

The next edition of the LACBC’s popular Sunday Funday Rides is scheduled for Sunday, September 1st; the ride is free for LACBC members and a guest. Details TBD.

Wolfpack Hustle hosts the final event in their Unified Title Race Series with the Midnight Drag Race on Downtown LA’s Sixth Street Bridge on Saturday, September 7th; qualifiers start at 6 pm with the finals at 8 pm.

The LACBC and Los Angeles Walks are looking for volunteers for the 2013 Los Angeles Bicycle and Pedestrian Count on Tuesday, September 10th from 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm, and Saturday, September 14th from 11 am to 1 pm.

Here’s your chance to bike the famed Las Vegas strip and the surrounding Las Vegas Valley, with the 6th Annual RTC Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello on Saturday, September 21st. The event will offer routes for riders of all levels, from a 17-mile ride to 60-mile Metric Century and a 103-mile Gran Fondo; the longer rides will visit the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead.

Streetsblog is hosting a fundraiser to celebrate their new SaMo edition, Santa Monica Next, on Sunday, September 22nd, from noon to 2:30 pm. The party, including food, drink and a raffle, takes place on the rooftop at 11th and Wilshire in Santa Monica; $35 donation, $15 for students.

Bike SGV invites you to join them for their 2013 Awards Ceremony and Fundraiser on Saturday, September 28th from 5 pm to 11 pm at the San Gabriel Mission Grapevine Arbor, 320 South Mission Drive in San Gabriel.

New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat will bypass Los Angeles this year; the nearest stop will be at San Diego’s Golden Hill Park on Saturday, September 28th, from 10 am to 5 pm. Join or renew your membership with the LACBC by September 12th and you could win a free two night trip to our neighbor to the south for Tour de Fat.

The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee meets at 7 pm on the first Tuesday of each even-numbered month; the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 1st at the Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall Community Room, 6501 Fountain Ave.

CicLAvia returns with an expanded version of the original Heart of LA route on Sunday, October 6th.

A polite response to a very wrong safety campaign, and blocking the bikeway in Manhattan Beach

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s nice when government agencies try to bring a little peace to our streets. Let alone when they respond to the demands of bike riders to do something — anything — to improve safety when too damn many people are dying just for riding a bike.

But it would be even nicer if they actually made things better instead worse.

Take Scotland’s new Nice Way Code, which tells drivers to think of bike riders like horses — without the requisite crap on the roadway, hopefully — and blames every bike rider for the actions of others.

Not so nice, actually.

That’s why a group of well-mannered Scot bike riders have written a very polite response asking the Scottish government to pull the campaign and put it where the sun don’t shine.

Okay, so I might have added that last part.

The Nice Way Code is failing in its own terms

At the launch of the Nice Way Code, Transport Minister Keith Brown said, “The Nice Way Code campaign seeks to build a culture of tolerance and patience between cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and all other road users across Scotland.” However, everything that has come out of this campaign – which was paid for out of the active travel budget – seems likely instead to create conflict, reinforcing divisions between people based merely on their mode of transport. One advert encourages cyclists not to run red lights simply in order not to give other cyclists a bad name (and not because it’s dangerous and discourteous, not least to pedestrians) – lumping all cyclists together and implying bad behaviour by a tiny minority justifies hostility to everyone who chooses to ride a bike.

As cyclists we are used to hearing from a few uninformed drivers that ‘all’ cyclists run red lights, ride on the pavement, hold up traffic and generally deserve to be treated like obstacles on the road. But we never expected our own government to run adverts saying the same thing. As nine cyclists have died on Scotland’s roads already this year, it’s unsurprising that this campaign seems to have angered almost everyone who regularly rides a bike.

Safer roads will not come from lecturing people and pandering to stereotypes. We believe they will come from rethinking our current emphasis on designing roads purely for motor traffic and redesigning them to remove the sort of conflicts these adverts reflect. Pending that, it’s clear that many people who don’t ride bikes themselves are unaware of the needs of cyclists on the road. A campaign that really aimed to build a culture of patience and tolerance could have helped to educate them about these things, and to get cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to see things from each others’ point of view. Calling cyclists names is not it.

We urge the Scottish government to recognise that it has made a mistake and to pull this campaign before it ramps up tensions on the road even further. We suggest that it takes this opportunity to start a real dialogue between road users about how we can recognise that we are all people, and behave accordingly.

The letter was signed by over 85 people.

If I lived in Scotland, or thought I might find myself riding there anytime soon, you’d find my name on that list, as well.

………

Photo by Don Hayashi

Photo by Don Hayashi

Don Hayashi emailed this photo of an apparently legally blocked Marvin Braude bike path in Manhattan Beach, writing:

I’ve always wondered what the criteria was for forcing the bicyclist to walk their bikes at the pier was.

In this case a Manhattan Beach camp employee has set up the barrier so that his charges can cross safely during their lunch break. He said his boss told him he could.

Funny thing he only set up the barrier on one side of the pier. So bikes were still riding from the other direction. I guess it was to inconvenient to set up the other sign.

The municipal code actually says that a public safety officer has to make the decision.

Apparently legal, that is, under CVC 21211(b):

21211.   (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting, or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist.

(b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

It’s that damned “safe operation” clause that gets you, which seems to give local governments the authority to shut down bikeways anytime they think it’s appropriate.

As well as write local ordinances like the one linked to above.

………

Cyclelicious offers a detailed update on all the bike-related bills before the California legislature, including the state’s third attempt to get a three-foot passing law past our bike-unfriendly governor’s veto pen.

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Amelie Le Moullac, the 24-year old bike rider killed in a San Francisco right hook yesterday, was a 2011 graduate of USC. CicLAvia unveils the official route for October’s Heart of LA event. The LACBC needs your help for this years bike and pedestrian count; scroll up for a chance to win a free trip to San Diego’s Tour de Fat when you become a member or renew your membership. A bank of full bike racks at one of the city’s leading hospitals is a good problem to have. Helen’s Cycles is inaugurating a no-drop, womens-only ride this Saturday. Streetsblog’s new SaMo edition goes online Monday. Santa Monica hosts a meeting to discuss the proposed Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greeway this Saturday. San Marino talks bikeways at Monday’s meeting of the Traffic Advisory Commission. The SoCal Cross Prestige Series announces their fall and winter racing schedule.

A 45-year old Costa Mesa bike rider was injured when she allegedly ran a red light; unfortunately, the details are hidden behind the Register’s paywall. A young Temecula city employee is given a bike to commute to work. A 68-year old Oxnard rider was seriously injured in a SWSS when he reportedly drifted out of a bike lane. I Bike Kern offers a graphic look at a 100-year tradition of bicycling. San Jose readers argue over whether bikes belong on local roadways. A 56-year old Freemont cyclist remains in a coma in critical condition a week after he was injured in a hit-and-run. After a blind Los Altos man invents a high-tech bike for sightless riders, some colossal jerk steals it. An 18-year old Pleasanton driver faces a murder charge for killing a cyclist after tweeting about going on a death ride; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up. San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere was formerly sentenced to three years probation and 1000 hours of community service for the death of a pedestrian. Get to know the co-founder of Public Bikes. San Francisco police are shaming bike thieves on Twitter. How to ride safely around trucks and buses. Should bikes be treated like cars, pedestrians or something in between? Grist calls MonkeyLectric the world’s coolest lights for bike wheels; might be fun to have those cartoon dogs light up the night.

A Las Vegas man with cerebral palsy is still riding his bike 45 years after doctors said he was going to be six foot under. Greg LeMond, now America’s only Tour de France winner, talks bikes and doping in Portland. A new Seattle road diet and bike lanes helped boost business 400%, or at least didn’t hurt it. Boulder CO is becoming a living bike lab. My hometown considers adopting a stop as yield law for bike riders. An Evansville firefighter is handcuffed and threatened with a stun gun after waving at a cop while riding through a stop sign. Michigan State University opens new secure bike parking facilities; I’m looking at you, USC. Long planned Jersey City bike lanes are still coming, cross their heart. New York police continue their crackdown on all those dangerous bicyclists, including writing tickets for supposed infractions they didn’t actually observe. The NY Times considers the problem of keeping the city’s bikeshare racks in balance. A DC church fights a long-planned cross-city separated bike lane, claiming “the slaves who built the church were not thinking about bike lanes;” then again, they probably weren’t thinking about cars speeding past every day, either.

After saying no one should jump to quick conclusions, a Canadian paper does exactly that by calling for a mandatory helmet law for adults. In a completely wrong-headed approach to traffic congestion, a UK city fines cyclists for violating a ban on bikes in the city center. Brit cyclists and drivers fight it out over Twitter. This is why you never ride with your head down, as a British rider competing in a time trial dies after rear-ending a stopped trailer. Evidently, hit-and-run isn’t just an LA problem, or even an American one, as two Irish riders are lucky to be alive when a driver flees the scene after running them down.

Finally, there’s a fatal loophole in an Aussie territory’s hit-and-run law, as it turns out drivers are free to flee if they actually kill their victims instead of merely injuring them.

Then again, in LA you just have to be a celebrity.

Memorial for Valley hit-and-run victim Victor Awad; more information on the death of Udo Heinz

My service with the Superior Court of L.A. County is now complete.

As it turned out, I wasn’t asked to sit in judgement of my fellow man. Or woman, for that matter. And unlike my previous round of service, there were no particular insights gained.

Just sitting around waiting in vain for someone to choose me.

In other words, pretty much like sitting around waiting to get picked for a team in grade school.

With pretty much the same result.

……..

A couple quick notes before I head off to bed to make up for somehow managing to stay awake in the courtroom.

And no, it wasn’t easy.

First up, a memorial service will be held today for Victor Awad, who was killed in a hit-and-run a little over a week ago at Plummer Street and Winnetka along the Northridge/Chatsworth border.

Funeral services for Victor Awad will be held at 10:00am on Thursday, August 15th at the following location:

St Mary & St Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church
17431 Roscoe Boulevard, Northridge, CA 91325-3903

According to the print business he ran, the collision is still under investigation, though an arrest has been made. His father will be taking over day-to-day operation of the business.

Thanks to ValleyBall1 for the heads-up.

………

Second, more details are finally in regarding the collision that killed Udo Heinz on Camp Pendleton on Sunday, August 4th.

Heinz was riding with two other cyclists when they were run down by a North County Transit District Bus. He died at the scene; his riding companions were both injured, one critically.

Now the attorney for John Edwards, the rider who was critically injured, has posted details of the suit he intends to file against the transit district, with the permission of his client.

And it ain’t pretty.

According to the pretrial disclosure, Edwards suffered a fractured right ankle, lacerations to his left ankle, multiple broken ribs, a fractured and lacerated nose, lacerations to his face, and trauma to his heart and other internal organs. He spent five days in the hospital, four them in Intensive Care.

The other rider, though injured himself, did his best to aid and comfort both of his companions in Heinz’ last moments.

Needless to say their bikes were destroyed, as well.

The scary part is, still photos from the onboard bus camera clearly show the driver did not swerve to avoid the three riders, as had been reported, despite doing so to avoid another group of riders moments earlier.

Instead, he drove directly into them from behind, and may have even drifted slightly to the right before hitting them. The pretrial disclosure contends the first moment he seemed to be aware of their presence was when he felt the impact and his passengers screamed as he plowed into them.

I warn you, though, the photos are haunting.

Blurry though they may be, I’ve been troubled ever since viewing them earlier today.

It’s hard to shake the image of three people just seconds before one has his life violently ripped away, and another’s shattered, as seen from the vehicle that did it. They all seem unaware of what is about to happen, failing to react to the bus that’s just seconds from hitting them.

I suspect that image may stick with me for a long time.

Thanks to MarkG for the link.

Update: A memorial will be held for Udo Heinz today as well; thanks to Matt Ruscigno for the information. 

Celebration of Life event for Udo:
Powerhouse Park, Del Mar
Thursday, August 15th, 5pm to sunset
-Beach casual attire please
-Food and beverages served
-Bring blankets and chairs (picnic style)

Major bike linkage to make up for a couple dead days

Let’s catch up with the latest news from the big wide wonderful world of bikes.

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The LACBC is looking for volunteers for next month’s bike count. The West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition wants your opinion for their Complete Our Streets survey; seriously, if you live or ride in WeHo, tell ‘em what you think, then join ‘em, already. A San Francisco writer explores the new and improved DTLA by bike. KNBC-4 reminds you to RSVP for Sunday’s Tour de Arts, but can’t figure out whether it should be SMMOA or SMMoA; I kinda like the  latter, but just pick one already. Don’t forget next week’s public meetings to review Malibu’s PCH Safety Study; anyone who rides the Coast Highway should make plans to attend; your personal safety could depend on it.

In the wake of a successful first — but undoubtedly not last — CicloSDias, support is growing for bicycling in San Diego. Temecula cyclists are staging the city’s first Gran Prix. Napa Bike says educated drivers make the streets safer for everyone; “It is astonishing to think that some people feel collisions between cars and bikes are unavoidable collateral damage…” The Sonoma County Bicycle Expo returns to Santa Rosa this Sunday.

The president of People for Bikes says when people ride bikes, great things happen. Bicycling says lose the spandex, though. The Bike League is seeking an Equity Initiative Manager. Pro cycling vet Tom Danielson captures the Tour of Utah. Boulder CO will experiment with bike infrastructure through the fall; a Boulder County rider is killed when he’s left crossed by a truck driver. Dallas may require bike racks at businesses; yes, the one in not-so-bike-friendly Texas. Cedar Rapids drivers can’t seem to figure out how bike lanes work; seriously guys, it’s not that hard. A leading Chicago businessman is killed riding his bike in Michigan. A Wisconsin drunk driver denies being behind the wheel despite driving the length of a football field after plowing through a cyclist; not surprisingly, it was not his first offense. New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner can’t seem to decide whether he supports bikes or not, as his campaign and pants sink slowly in the east. Naomi Watts and son bike in the Hamptons. Red Kite Prayer looks at the inexplicable firing of Serotta’s eponymous founder.

British bike advocates back the Prime Minister’s cycling revolution, or maybe not so much given that the PM’s giving so little. A London writer asks why riding a bike has to be so lethal; one death is one too many, but let’s not forget almost all of those 570,000 daily London bike trips end safely, just as they do here. UK prosecutors appeal an overly lenient sentence for killing a cyclist; yes, they can do that there. Biking to work cuts your risk of developing diabetes in half. A Brit bike thief is caught on camera moments after stealing a bike at a London bike event. English riders are under attack by drivers — or maybe just one. Two Welsh motorists are in custody following the death of a bike rider. You’re invited to sign an open letter complaining about Scotland’s feeble and ineffective Nice Way Code road safety campaign. Malta bike riders demand presumed liability. The vice chancellor of an Indian University suffers grievous injuries when his bike is hit by a speeding car. Kenyan women are welcome to ride a bike, as long as they can do it with their legs held tightly together. An Aussie rider gets punched in the face after confronting an angry driver; I’ve learned the hard way it’s better to just let the jerks go — especially if you can catch them on video first.

Finally, a UK website chronicles the 14 best bike scenes in cinematic history. Hollywood director Werner Hertzog offers a powerful look at distracted driving.

And if this wasn’t enough links for you, you can kill another few hours here.

Move along, nothing to see here

It looks like I have jury duty on Tuesday, so my apologies for the lack of an update today. Hopefully, things will be back to normal in a day or two.

Update: Bad news on a beautiful day; cyclist killed in Pomona shooting, another rider seriously injured in Tarzana

Just a quick note to take the shine off this beautiful Sunday.

……..

A bike rider was shot and killed in Pomona last night.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 45-year old Pomona resident Jose Cerda was riding on Lexington Avenue just west of Garey Ave around 9:30 pm when a vehicle pulled up next to him and one of the occupants opened fire, shooting him several times.

Cerda was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was just the first of three people killed by gunfire in the city overnight, in what would appear to by a series of drive-by shootings.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Pomona Police Department Detective Bureau at 909-620-2085.

Update:  According to the LA Times, no one has been arrested yet in any of the shootings; no word on whether police have any suspects or if the shootings are related.

……..

I’ve also gotten word of a serious collision involving a bike rider in Tarzana last night.

An email from reliable source says he was driving with his family along Reseda Blvd near the 101 Freeway overpass around 5:50 last night when he came upon the immediate aftermath of collision involving a bike and a car.

He arrived before the paramedics, and said the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, appeared to have been gravely wounded with a serious head injury.

Thankfully, the driver had remained at the scene; the window on the small car was completely smashed. Judging from the damage and position of the car, he said it did not appear to be a hit-from-behind collision, but couldn’t tell from what he saw how it might have happened.

As a frequent rider in the area, he reports the area is very congested with heavy vehicle traffic due to the freeway offramp, and that riding there can be challenging. despite the presence of a bike lane.

I haven’t been able to find any confirmation of the collision yet; however, knowing the source, I have no reason to question what he saw. Not surprisingly, he says he and his entire family were traumatized by what they witnessed.

Once again, it sounds like prayers or best wishes are in order, whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Thanks to Bro Dave for the heads-up.

Update: Sgt. Stephen Egan, the bike liaison for the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, reports that the collision occurred at 5:50 pm Saturday at the intersection Reseda and Collins. The driver was making a turn when he hit the rider; which way he was turning or what street he was turning onto is not clear at this time. 

The victim was transported to a local hospital with severe head trauma.

MB reports in the comments that the victim was wearing a helmet, but it was evidently knocked off by the force of the impact.

Update 2: Bad news. I’ve just gotten word that the victim died of his injuries last week. I’m trying to get more information.

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