Archive for October 20, 2013

Breaking news: Bike rider killed in Sunland collision Saturday night

More bad news.

I’ve just received confirmation that a bike rider was killed in Sunland on Saturday night.

Late Sunday afternoon, I received an email reporting that a young man was hit and killed by a car on Foothill Blvd around 7 pm. Numerous comments on the Facebook page of the Foothills Paper recount seeing a body covered by a white tarp at the intersection of Foothill and McVine, with a bicycle lying nearby.

Now the Foothills Paper has just confirmed that Sunland-Tujunga resident Billy Martinez was killed in a left cross collision at that intersection around 7:20 pm Saturday.

According to the paper, Martinez was riding home from his job at Von’s in Tujunga when a car turned left in front of him; another report indicates that he may have been riding at speed without lights, but that is unconfirmed at this time. Employees at the ARCO station on the corner attempted to help him, but the paper reports he died of internal bleeding at the scene.

A memorial was held for him Sunday evening at the same location, at about the same time he was killed.

A comment on the Facebook page identifies him as the father of two small children.

This is the 71st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 31st in Los Angeles County; it’s also the second bicycling death to occur in the county at almost the same time Saturday night.

And it’s the 13th cycling fatality in Los Angeles this year; a death that earlier had been attributed to Los Angeles actually occurred in unincorporated South LA.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Billy Martinez and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Meghan Jenks for the heads-up.

Update: 22-year old cyclist killed by Metrolink Train in Palmdale; 7th bike/train death this year

A bad year just keeps getting worse.

KNBC-4 is reporting that a teenage bike rider was killed in a collision with a Metrolink train in Palmdale Saturday night.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing the tracks at Palmdale Blvd and Sierra Highway, when he reportedly tried to beat the train across the tracks.

And failed.

No other details are available at this time, including the time of the collision or which directions the rider and train were headed.

This has been a horrible year for bike/train collisions in Southern California. Seven bike riders have been killed by trains so far this year; this is the second this month alone. That compares with just two in all of last year, and four in 2011.

Yet this is the easiest type of collision to avoid. Just stop when the crossing gates come down, and wait until they go back up — even it if looks like it’s safe to cross.

And don’t even think you can beat the train.

Because chances are, you won’t.

This is the 70th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 30th in Los Angeles County; that is eight more than were killed in the county in all of last year.

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

Thanks to Joni for the heads-up.

Update: The LA Daily News reports that the victim, who still has not been publicly identified, was a 22-year old man.

According to the paper, a witness at the scene said the victim was riding with a group of friends around 7:10 pm when he tried to outrun the northbound train. The paper doesn’t say if he was the only one who tried to beat the train, or if any others might have made it across before he was hit.

Not surprisingly, none of the passengers on the Number 269 train were injured.

Update 2: The Antelope Valley Times identifies the victim as 22-year old Manuel Correa, no hometown given. 

Meanwhile, a comment from Bryan Laine, below, indicates that he not only knew the victim, he was on the train at the time of the collision. According to him, the leaders of the group kept riding after the crossing arms began to fall, which led to Correa’s death as he evidently followed them across the tracks.

The Times on Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, Newton on LADOT insurrection, and lots of weekend rides

Just a few quick notes to kick off what promises to be a perfect weekend to ride a bike.

………

The LA Times interviews Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, who adroitly points out that everyone breaks the law on our streets — cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.

“Pretty much anyone who uses the road breaks the law on a regular basis. But people excuse their own breaking of the law,” he says…

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

As for weirdos, the paper notes Damien isn’t.

I could have told ‘em that.

………

Speaking of Damien, he offers an insightful look at yesterday’s insurrection by LADOT employees.

In case you missed it, a contingent of LADOT employees — estimated at anywhere from 50 to 200 — stormed Wednesday’s city council session to demand the ouster of their boss, Transportation General Manager Jaime De La Vega, saying the rank and file had lost confidence in their leader.

Just one problem.

De La Vega had been brought in by previous Mayor Villaraigosa to shake things up in a department that had previously been dedicated to automotive throughput at the expense of livability. And survivability.

Whether these employees have a legitimate complaint, or are simply demanding a return to the bad old days when they could ignore the needs of anyone not wrapped in a ton or two of glass and steel is anyone’s guess.

And certainly not mine.

Newton examines it in great detail, in a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our streets.

But consider this.

Many of those complaining are long-time LADOT employees, who were with the department during the bad old days.

And the bike plan they point to as a sign that the department has changed is one that was demanded by bike riders, after they rejected the watered-down plan LADOT presented that no one loved. Except perhaps bike hating motorists and the DOT engineers who bent over backwards to accommodate them while tossing cyclists a bone.

Meanwhile, most of the improvements we’ve seen on the streets have come in the last few years, during De La Vega’s tenure.

That’s not to say there aren’t major problems at LADOT.

Just that Mayor Garcetti and the city council should look long and hard before deciding just what the real problem is.

………

I confess.

I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up my Events page, as my focus has been elsewhere while I work on a reboot of this site in the coming weeks.

But a couple of upcoming rides demand attention.

First up, Active Streets LA returns to South LA on Saturday with a free mini-CicLAvia of sorts, featuring a bike ride and walk, free family activities, refreshments and a raffle.

The LACBC and Wolfpack Hustle host the first ever Huntington Park Grand Prix single speed bike drag race on Saturday.

For those looking for a reasonably challenging ride, the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles are teaming up with the LACBC to host a ride on Mulholland this Sunday.

CICLE hosts the perfectly alliterative Pomona Pumpkin Patch Pedal this Sunday, offering a much more sedate alternative to riding Mulholland.

And next Sunday, October 27th, you’ve got another chance to Ride Lankershim in support of a proposed bike lane on North Hollywood’s main street. Even though the bike lane is included in the 2010 bike plan approved by city council, it’s been opposed by bike-friendly-in-name-only Councilmember Tom LaBonge up to this point. So it’s up to us to show just how needed, wanted, convenient, traffic calming and life-saving this lane could be.

………

One other quick note. The LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee usually meets on the last Tuesday of every month to talk bike politics. However, due to a scheduling conflict, this month’s meeting has been moved to Wednesday, October 30th at 6:45 pm. The meeting will take place on the mezzanine level of LACBC Headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street Downtown, and is open to everyone; you don’t have to be a member to participate.

………

Finally, maybe you’ll have better luck loading this page than I’ve had, but you’ve got to respect a $36 million football player who prefers to bike and bus to work. Although I suspect his route is just a tad easier than this one.

And you know there’s something going on when even the Biking Black Grey Hole of Beverly Hills is talking bike share.

Don’t even think about bugging after 5:30 tonight until the Dodgers secure their place in Saturday’s game seven against the Cardinals.

And if they don’t, just don’t bug me, period.

Seriously.

Valley bike rider says he was threatened by road raging Metro bus driver

A San Fernando Valley bike rider reports being harassed by a Metro bus driver earlier this week.

The rider, whose name I’m withholding, was riding on westbound Burbank Blvd around 9:30 am Monday when he made a box turn onto southbound Valley Circle Blvd, first crossing Valley Circle, then waiting at the light to cross Burbank.

As he was crossing Burbank, the driver of a Metro Bus, which had also been waiting at the red light on Valley Circle, came up behind him and began honking. The driver continued honking as he pulled up within a few feet of his bike, illegally driving in the bike lane behind him for at least another 100 yards.

The rider says he pulled as far as he could to the right curb, leaving the bike lane in an effort to get out of the way of the threatening driver. The bus finally pulled into the traffic lane and went around him, continuing to honk until it had passed.

Despite being shaken up, he was able to get the route number of the bus — 645 — but not the number of the bus itself.

But it wasn’t over yet.

About a half block later, the bus pulled into the bike lane next to the parked cars to let some passengers off. The rider was about 200 yards behind the bus when he saw the doors close, but the bus didn’t move.

Not knowing how long the bus was going to sit there, he started to pass it on the left. But as soon as he approached the bus, the driver cut sharply left, in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to cut him off.

He’s filed a complaint with the police, as well as with Metro itself.

But without video or eyewitness testimony, there’s not likely to be much the police can do, unless they get the video off the bus itself. And then only if it clearly shows the driver acting in a dangerous or threatening manner.

Meanwhile, Metro considers complaints against their drivers private personnel matters, which means he’s unlikely to ever know if any action was taken against the driver internally. Or if they even took his complaint seriously.

This could make a good case under the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, but the bicyclist says he’s not interested in monetary damages. And besides, without witnesses or other evidence, it would be virtually impossible to make a case unless he could get the video from the bus, which would require a subpoena from a lawyer.

Unless someone who saw the events unfold on Monday — such as a passing motorist or pedestrian, or a passenger on the bus — sees this and happens to step forward.

Stranger things have happened.

But at the very least, this incident is now on record with the police. So if the driver does something like this again they will be able to use his complaint to establish a pattern of behavior.

And maybe get this bus driving jerk off the road before he kills someone.

………

The Times says Wilshire Blvd is no place for bikes, especially in Westwood; surprisingly, all the comments — so far, at least — have been pro bike.

Of course, what the paper fails to consider is that most of Wilshire is scheduled to get a shared bus/bike only lane. Except, of course, the section through the high-priced condos of Westwood where it is most needed.

And the reason cyclists dare the dangerous stretch of the boulevard beneath the 405 between Federal and Westwood is that they are prohibited from riding through the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which would provide the safest and most direct route from Westwood and UCLA to Brentwood and points west.

Until that changes, nothing else is likely to, either.

………

Matthew Gomez reports encountering preliminary markings for new bike lanes in East Pasadena, on California Blvd between Rosemead and Michilinda.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton says Mayor Eric Garcetti needs to slay the zombie projects before he can be the mayor we voted for. Metro wants your help to update their bikeway map, while the next meeting of the Metro Bicycle Roundtable is scheduled for Tuesday, November 5th from 5:30 to 7 pm. Not exactly bike related, but LA is finally going to consider moving its election date so more people might actually cast a vote for a change. Flying Pigeon considers the success of Portland’s bike corrals. Cyclelicious looks at LA bike advocate Nona Varnado and the LA bike trains. The Bird Wheel tests noseless bike saddles to protect delicate parts. Why bike parking could outnumber car spaces in some new — and not so new — developments. Hollywood races to get competing Lance Armstrong biopics on the screen; maybe they can film the finale on Spring Street now that the green lanes they love to hate are gone forever.

There will be a fundraiser next Sunday, as well as a Saturday bake sale, for fallen bike rider Angel Gonzalez; the 15-year old cyclist was killed in a collision with a Metrolink train last week. San Diego cyclist sues the city, county and state over inadequate bicycling facilities. Central Coast cyclists aren’t sold on Caltrans efforts to fix chip sealing on Highway 1. Menlo Park is the latest Bay Area town to consider an LA-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

Will a rapping puppet, not puppy, dog get you to wear a helmet? A new smart wheel provides battery powered pedal assist, offering speeds of 20 mph for up to 30 miles. The Christian Science Monitor takes up the debate over use of the word cyclist; you can guess where I, a cyclist of long standing, stand on the matter. Bike lane rage erupts in Portland. The recent Colorado flooding means Boulder may not host a leg of next year’s Pro Challenge. It was a bad day for bike riders in my hometown. It takes a real jerk to steal a legally blind Colorado boy’s custom made bike a second time. Chicago Streetsblog says the city has a speeding epidemic; actually, pretty much every city does these days. Chicago’s mayor caught riding sans-helmet. The good news is, this innovative Memphis bike lane is being partially paid for by crowdsourcing; the bad news is that it has to be. Charts show New York’s Citi Bike program is taking over the city; now that’s what I call a healthy growth curve. A well-spent 14 minutes watching NYDOT’s Janette Sadik-Khan’s TED talk. Gotham’s Guardian Angels are patrolling three of the city’s parks following attacks on bike riders. Sharrows come to Waynesville NC. Turning a crunched classic frame into a new folding bike.

Why do cyclists shave their legs; I do it for the third reason, myself, having learned my painful lesson the hard way. Interactive map shows where London cyclists outnumber motorists. Groningen shows how bicycles can rule a city. In a chain reaction collision, an Aussie driver rubs his eyes, veers off course and hits a light pole, which falls on a cyclist, fatally throwing him onto the hood of the driver’s SUV. WaPo looks at the Kolkata — nee Calcutta — bike ban.

Finally, repeat after me. When you’re riding your bike through London carrying a concealed switchblade, marijuana and traces of meth, stop for the bloody red light, already.

A call for a bike friendly DTLA, Bike Snob takes on Chicago honker, and Coronado declared bike friendly

LA cyclist Patrick Pascal writes to say he was disappointed that he was out of the country for last week’s CicLAvia.

Until, that is, he discovered he was just in time for Spain’s equivalent in Madrid the same day.

Madrid riders celebrate car-free streets; photo by Patrick Pascal

Madrid riders celebrate car-free streets; photo by Patrick Pascal

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LA’s DT News makes a mostly accurate and insightful call for a bike friendly Downtown.

The website cites opportunities like the Spring Street Bike Lane, CicLAvia, bike trains and the needlessly controversial MyFigueroa project, as well as the need for more bike lanes and bike racks at buildings in Bunker Hill and the Financial District.

It’s a good piece, and one I hope city officials pay attention to.

Just a couple of minor quibbles.

While wearing a bike helmet may be smart, it’s not required for anyone over 18.

And when riders get furious at drivers who honk at drivers for going too slowly in traffic, it’s not the bike rider who’s the problem.

Drivers have to accept that bicyclists have a right to the roadway, just as they do. And that shared lanes — which is every right hand lane not next to a bike lane — means they have to be patient and pass when it’s safe to do so.

Not lay on their damn horns until riders get the hell out of their way.

………

Bike Snob adroitly dissects the recent column by Andy Frye, the jerk ESPN and Chicago Sun-Times columnist who complained about getting flipped off when he gave a cyclist a “light toot” on the horn.

For anyone else tempted to give a bike rider a friendly honk on the horn, don’t.

Just don’t.

………

Coronado is the latest SoCal city to be named to the Bike League’s list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, at the same Silver level as Long Beach and Santa Monica.

Outside of Southern California, West Sacramento and Eureka gain Bronze designations, while Menlo Park and Calistoga move up to Silver.

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LA City and County leaders call for a regional bike share program, rather than the Balkanized system we seem to be headed for. The Times says LA streets have to be made safe for cyclists, starting with the potholes; a road divot that would be a minor inconvenience to a motorist can be life threatening for someone on a bike. And speaking of road divots, the Times offers up opinions from bike hating drivers, as well as cyclists and more rational motorists, on whether California should adopt an Idaho Stop law. Glendale councilmember and former mayor urges Mayor Garcetti to slow traffic on the Hyperion-Glendale bridge project. Rather than fix a dangerous intersection near Universal, Metro plans to spend $27 million to raise pedestrians out of the way of rampaging traffic; hey Tom LaBonge, a bike lane on Lankershim might help tame traffic and make the bridge unnecessary at a fraction of the cost. LADOT announces a new program to repurpose LA Streets. A look at LA’s 4th Street non-bike boulevard. The LACBC voices its support for the most inclusive plan to restore the LA River; this weekend’s Found LA Festival along the river includes a bike ride hosted by the LACBC, ending at the Golden Road Brewery. Redondo Beach adopts a Living Streets policy, including a planned two-way cycle track along North Harbor Drive.

Red Kite Prayer talks with famed framebuilder Richard Sachs. Bike Newport Beach says it’s time to fix the deadly free right turns that turn city streets into virtual freeways; you know, sort of like LA is proposing for the Hyperion-Glendale bridge. A Newport Beach couple is arrested for biking under the influence and public drunkenness after the husband falls off his bike. Davis CA reduces the fines for bicycling violations. Because you’re mine, I ride the line; yes, I would totally ride Folsom’s planned Johnny Cash Trail. A professional cyclist with the Leopard-Sapporo cycling team is critically injured when she’s collateral damage in a Los Gatos traffic collision.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says bicycling with your kids is too risky; so do we keep kids from riding or make our streets safe for them? Your next bike lock could be controlled by your smart phone. Maybe it’s time to stop sharing the road. A road raging Seattle driver is charged with assault with a deadly weapon after purposely slamming into a cyclist, while a Seattle bike rider gets his stolen bike back a year later, a little worse for wear. A bicyclist with 16 heart stents and a pacemaker is riding from San Diego to Florida — and that’s after being shocked back to life by firefighters nearly a decade ago. Looks like my hometown won’t be adopting an Idaho Stop Law after all. A Mexican national whose feet were chopped off by extortionists plans to bike 670 miles across Texas in a ride for justice. Neither cyclists or motorists can seem to figure out new bike lanes in Cedar Rapids. A New York bike documentary says cars are the real enemy. A New York bike rider pays forward the kindness of a cycling Samaritan. The city’s famed Plaza hotel files suit over a block-long bike share rack, calling it an eyesore.

Bike Radar looks at the best lights for road bikes. A look at the world’s most dangerous highways. London cyclist gets ticketed for stopping outside a bike box because a car was blocking it. London’s first bicycle superhighway is called an accident waiting to happen following the death of a cyclist. Texting while bike riding is putting UK children at risk. Paris reclaims a roadway alongside the Seine from motor vehicles. A Zimbabwe rider is stabbed to death after accidently bumping into the wrong guy. The Bangkok Post says don’t promote cycling until bike lanes are in place to make it safer. An Aussie rider sets two long distance records for riding backwards.

Finally, in today’s wildlife report, an apparently prescient rooster — yes, rooster — saves a woman from taking a header when her handlebars fail. It looks like bike-hating deer may be trashing a memorial to a fallen bike rider. And at least all we have to worry about here are road raging drivers, rather than rampaging anti-bike bulls.

Possible justice for Andy Garcia, Frye flips out after getting flipped off, and a big bike drag in HP

Looks like there may be justice for fallen cyclist Andy Garcia.

And the riding companions who were injured with him.

Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman reports that 21-year old Wendy Villegas was arraigned last week for the hit-and-run collision that left Garcia sprawled in the roadway, where he was hit and killed by a second vehicle.

Fortunately, the judge seems to be taking the case very seriously.

Not only is Villegas facing a sentence of between 5 – 7 and 10 – 15 years, but the unnamed judge wanted nothing to do with her lawyer’s complaints that an ankle monitor would cramp his client’s lifestyle.

Not to mention her choice of fashionable footwear.

According to them, the judge told Villegas she will wear the device because she is a danger to society. As such, she is no longer able to drive a vehicle, must obey a curfew, and is obligated to appear in court by 4 p.m. today (Oct. 11) to both pay for the monitor and have it placed around her ankle. Should she choose not to do so, the judge advised, a warrant would be issued for her arrest, she would be placed in custody, and her bail would be revoked.

Villegas was still drunk when she was taken into custody hours after dragging Garcia’s bike several hundred feet beneath her car.

Meanwhile, Sulaiman reports the survivors have been deeply affected by the collision. Mario Lopez suffered fractures to his back and leg, and now requires a walker and back brace to get around, painfully.

And Ule Melgar, the other rider hit by Villegas’ car, suffered severe road rash and leg pain; fortunately for him, his backpack broke his fall.

The other riders in the group have to live with watching their friend killed before their eyes.

As do the occupants of the car that took his life after Villegas left him sprawled in the road.

A memorial carwash will be held this Saturday in Garcia’s memory, and to raise funds for his family.

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Ever think there might be a reason why a cyclist might flip off a friendly driver just trying to give a helpful honk?

Evidently, a thought like that has never passed through the head of Chicago Sun Times, Men’s Health and ESPN.com columnist Andy Frye.

In what he (mis)labels as satire, Frye reports a recent incident in which he drove up behind a bike rider who apparently didn’t know he was there. So he “tooted” his horn lightly.

Guess I should have known better. Not that I expected a waive from the cyclist, nor did I expect him to stop and say thank you, but I didn’t expect him to give me the one-finger salute in a long, protracted, five-second long flip-off accompanied by a scornful face.

Suddenly I was the bad guy, and apparently an archetype that embodied everything that is wrong with society, at least in the eyes of this self-proclaimed roadhog radical. I had become “The Man” and perhaps a symbol of an oppressive oil-oligarchy, hellbent on usurping all that is good by bumping this free-spirited city cyclist off the road.

I never knew a single digit could convey so much deep meaning.

And “The Man?” Seriously?

What, is it 1968 all over again?

Meanwhile, I’ve scoured my car horn, but can’t find the light toot setting, let alone the friendly warning button. Call me crazy, but I always thought car horns make the same sound regardless of your intent in honking.

So how, exactly, was the rider supposed to gauge the supposed purpose behind Frye’s honk? Especially when even the most well-intentioned honk sounds loud and angry to anyone not encased in couple tons of relatively soundproofed glass and steel.

Chances are, the rider already knew Frye’s car was there; loud, hulking vehicles are kind of hard to hide, even without looking. And if not, all he managed to do was scare the crap out of the poor guy by hitting his horn behind an unsuspecting rider.

Under the same circumstances, I probably would have flipped him off too. And I guarantee I would have known he was there long before his misguided finger hit the horn.

And he’d know I was there long after.

So for anyone else as clueless as the self-proclaimed bike-riding Frye, never, ever honk at a cyclist. It will almost never be taken well, regardless of what’s hidden in your heart of hearts.

And as Bike Snob so succinctly pointed out, that old cliché of “I own — or ride — a bike too…” is the moral equivalent of “Some of my best friends are (insert ethnicity here)…”

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This coming Saturday should be a major drag in Huntington Park.

The city is teaming with the LACBC and Wolfpack Hustle to host a bike drag race compete with full support, including barricades, medical emergency response teams and police services. Registration is just $10 — and free for HP residents.

In addition, participants and spectators are invited to give your input on the city’s new Bicycle Master Plan at the LACBC booth.

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More on Mayor Garcetti’s plan for Great Streets, which doesn’t exactly jibe with proposed plans for a deadly virtual freeway on the Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex. The Times says men downplay the risks of texting and driving; oddly, I see more women texting behind the wheel, myself. Rick Risemberg reports riding in Portland is sort of like having CicLAvia every day. UCLA makes progress on their 2006 bike plan; I’d be happy if the red light on westbound Charles E. Young at the entrance off Sunset Blvd would just recognize my bike. The artist behind those incredible gates on the LA River. Governor Brown vetoes a poison pill bill that would have effectively halted a surface route for the long-planned extension of the 710 Freeway, but signs Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s bill extending the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases. Celebrate the newly bike-friendly Colorado Blvd on Saturday the 26th. A little 80-year old lady from Pasadena hits a salmon cyclist head on in broad daylight. Bike thefts spike in Torrance. Long Beach is scheduled to hold their bike count this week.

Bike Newport Beach introduces a bootleg bike master plan. After losing both his legs in Afghanistan, a San Diego vet rides 160 miles for charity. Thousand Oaks is striping roadways to reduce collision — not accident — rates, thank you. A Lake County CA cyclist is killed in a head-on collision with a sheriff’s deputy speeding in response to a reported home invasion. The musician behind last year’s viral hit Bike Path Love is arrested for DUI after colliding with a pedestrian. San Francisco firefighters are worried bike lanes and traffic calming are narrowing the city’s streets too much.

Elly Blue calls for putting a kickstand and other crap — her word, not mine — on your bike. Your helmet could text for help the next time you wipe out. Tacoma WA is ordered to pay nearly a quarter million dollars to a cyclist who did a face plant after getting a wheel caught in a crack in a bike lane. An Arizona writer says life is cheap in Tucson, at least when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians; evidently, it’s not just Tucson, as an El Mirage driver drags a rider 108 feet down the street before fleeing. A string of bad decisions is blamed for Boise bike and pedestrian collisions; then again, isn’t that the primary cause of virtually every collision? A Texas cyclist discovers the downside of riding into a closed national wildlife refuge during the government shutdown. Indianapolis residents want a butt ugly bike sculpture removed; it’s supposed to look like Kurt Vonnegut but instead looks like a tangled jumble on a pole. A New Hampshire woman administered fentanyl to calm down a young driver hours before she plowed into a group ride, killing two cyclists; I was given fentanyl for outpatient surgery a few years back, and was completely and totally unable to get out of bed for the next three days, let alone drive. A year after a liver transplant saved his life, a Boston area cyclist loses it to a hit-and-run driver. The Wall Street Journal questions the risks of unsanctioned bike races as they rise in popularity. NYC bike advocates predict even more bike lanes in the city. A New York rider ends up with nerve damage after being cuffed by police for running a red light. Don’t ride onto a Pittsburgh parade route, even if you’re in the bike lane. Sometimes you have to — politely — explain the law to the cops, like this rider did.

Hermes introduces an $11,000 handmade carbon fiber bike for casual cyclists with more dollars than sense. Will robocars be good for bike riders? British bike rider is escorted off the equivalent of the 5 Freeway, in the rain, no less. Brit track cyclist tracks down his stolen bike on Facebook. The women’s Tour of Britain receives equal standing with the men’s race, while UK’s Olympic champion women’s pursuit team calls for a women’s Tour de France. A USC professor — no, not that USC, the Australian one — determines cyclist safety is degraded because roads weren’t designed for cyclists’ needs; well, duh. Ride South Africa’s wine routes on your next vacation. An 81-year old Aussie man rides 30 miles a day; I want to be like him when I grow up. A New Zealand cyclist is dead, and two others injured, because a driver didn’t bother to wear his contacts and only saw two of the group of 10 riders he plowed into.

Finally, there’s no longer a need to choose between your cleats and sexy high heels.And there’s no need to ever shift again if you can afford this $1000 virtual automatic transmission for your bike.

Update: Mormon missionary killed in Arcadia bike collision

The Mormon Church has confirmed that a missionary assigned to the Arcadia area has died as a result of a bicycling collision.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, 18-year old Andrew Edward Page of Charlotte, NC died of injuries suffered when he was hit by a car in or near Arcadia; no date or other details are available at this time.

There is no mention of Page’s death or the collision that caused it in the LA-area press yet.

This is the 69th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 29th in Los Angeles County, compared to 22 in the county for all of last year.

My deepest prayers and sympathy for Andrew Page and all his family and loved ones.

Update: In the comments below, Calwatch, along with a handful of other sources, pointed to this story in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, which reports that an 18-year old bike rider from out of state was critically injured when he was hit by a car in Azusa Thursday afternoon. 

That collision occurred around 4 pm at the intersection of Newburgh Street and Cerritos Avenue in Azusa. There’s no word on how the wreck may have happened, however, the paper reports the victim suffered major head trauma.

While the details match up, there’s no guarantee this is the same collision. I’ve reached out to the author of the story for confirmation. 

Update 2: As Calwatch indicates in another comment below, the Deseret News has updated their story, confirming that Page was the victim in the Azusa collision reported by the Tribune. 

According to the story in the Deseret News, he was riding with a companion when they missed their turn, and were turning around when Page was hit from behind.

“For some reason Andrew stopped for a minute and adjusted his pants leg and then he just kind of whipped around his bike and didn’t look and a car was coming,” he said.

The paper reports he was taken to a nearby trauma center with major injuries, including head trauma, despite wearing a helmet. He was pronounced dead at 10 pm Thursday night. 

An officer at the scene reportedly said there was no fault on anyone’s part, and it was due to just a moment of inattention. 

Which is exactly the problem. 

As this case sadly illustrates, it only takes a moment of carelessness to result in tragedy.

Update: 15-year old bike rider killed in Metrolink collision; first SoCal bike death in nearly a month

We almost made it.

It’s been exactly 26 days since the last bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California. Lately I’ve kept my fingers crossed the we could make it to a full four weeks; a much needed respite in what has been a very bad year for SoCal cyclists.

Sadly, we didn’t make it.

And neither did a young Riverside man.

News is just breaking that a teenage boy was killed in a collision with a Metrolink train in Riverside earlier this evening; KCBS-2 originally identified him as 15 years old, but later removed that from their story.

According to Murrieta Patch, the young man, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing the tracks at Madison Street near Indiana Avenue at 5:58 pm Thursday when he was struck by a train headed from Orange County to San Bernardino.

A satellite photo shows standard drop-bar crossing arms on both sides of the tracks.

No word on which direction he was riding, or how he ended up on the tracks as the train was coming through. However, a division chief for the Riverside Fire Department speculated that there may have been a second train coming in the opposite direction after the first train had passed.

There are few things easier to avoid than a wreck with a train. Unlike cars, they can’t deviate from a set track; all you have to do is stop when the barricades come down, and wait until they go back up before crossing the tracks — regardless of how safe it may seem at the time.

This is the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Riverside County. That compares with 62 and 11, respectively, this time last year.

He is also the sixth Southern California bicyclist to be killed by a train this year, compared to just two in all of last year, and four in 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all his family and friends; this news will be devastating for whatever school he may have attended.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: A report from KNBC-4 confirms that the victim was 15-years old, and that witnesses said he waited for one train to pass, then was hit by second train coming from the opposite direction when he attempted to cross the tracks. 

Update 2: According to the Press-Enterprise, the victim was riding south on the sidewalk on the west side of Madison Street when he stopped for the first train. 

A witness who recognized the boy waved at him, and watched the wreck unfold. 

“We saw him riding his bike, and we just waved at him,” said Soto, who was heading to a friend’s home in the Casa Blanca neighborhood. “He stopped right there at the (crossing) light” when an eastbound freight train passed by.

“It passed by and 30 seconds later we’re still just waiting there for it (the crossing gate) to lift up. I see a train coming and oh, it’s another train,” Soto said. “I could see the kid go straight and I guess he didn’t look to his left and he got hit. It was a loud pop. At first … I didn’t believe it.”

The witness, who said he was scarred for life by what he’d seen, went on to say that the victim may have been fooled when the warning gate started to lift before coming back down again. 

“I thought something was wrong with it,” he said, “so I guess he (the boy on the bicycle) saw that with the corner of his eye and went straight. I guess now he’s in heaven.”

Update 3: The San Bernardino Sun identifies the victim as Serafin Gonzalez of Riverside.

Update 4: According to the Press-Enterprise, Gonzalez was just out for a quick ride when he was killed; he was dragged over 170 feet by the force of the impact.

He was described by his teachers as an extremely good young man without a mean bone in his body. 

And in an indication of a serious problem, the paper reports that Gonzalez was the fourth person in Riverside to be struck and killed by a second train after waiting for the first train to pass in the last four years.

Update 5: A vigil was held in Gonzalez’s memory Friday night. In a tragic irony, he lived on Railroad Avenue, paralleling the tracks he died on. 

Changes are coming to BikinginLA, along with a handful of bike links

Just a quick note this afternoon.

My focus this past week has been on updating my blog and preparing for a relaunch later this month, as I work on transitioning it from a personal bike blog to an advertising supported LA and SoCal oriented bicycling website.

Exactly what that means, I have no idea. My intention is to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but better and more of it.

More or less.

As part of that, I’ve been revising some of my pages and working adding more; you can see the changes I’ve made to the  Change the Law and Survival Tactics pages above.

Among the pages being added are a Resources page, which will include many of the links currently over there on the right, such as a listing of bike lawyers, organizations and some of the city’s better bike shops, as well as links for the LA bike anti-harassment ordinance, LAPD bike liaisons, among others.

I’m also adding a page of bicycling facts and links to studies that will provide useful information for advocates. So if you have any favorite facts or studies you think I should include, feel free to suggest them in the comments below, along with a link back to the source.

And the same goes for anything you think should be included on the Resources page.

………

Just a couple other quick notes.

Mayor Garcetti has announced a new Great Streets Initiative to get city agencies to work together for a change in improving our streets. They can start by sending the deadly-by-design Hyperion/Glendale bridge makeover back to the drawing board. But don’t take my word for it; state Assemblymember Mike Gatto says so, too.

The experimental resurfacing of Highway 1 north of Cambria to repair damage from Caltrans’ ill-advised chip sealing of the roadway has been deemed a success, allowing bike riders to resume using one of the state’s most popular riding routes. Hopefully our own Caltrans branch is paying attention and will fix the damage they’ve done to the road surfaces on Angeles Crest and Mt. Baldy.

The LAPD is stepping up efforts to save the lives of pedestrians and bike riders in the Valley. Although as Rick Risemberg noted in forwarding the story, they can’t resist blaming the victims instead of the people in the big, dangerous machines.

A writer for the Times’ Opinion page discovers road diets aren’t so bad, after all. Meanwhile, another suggests the way to be a better driver is to try riding a bike; actually, there have been studies showing that bike riders really do make safer drivers.

And then there’s this from the Times, in which they question whether freeing bike plans from CEQA review is a good thing, saying it’s hard to imagine anyone suing to halt a bike lane. Even though that’s exactly what happened in San Francisco, needlessly delaying that city’s bike improvements for several years.

The formerly bike-friendly London Daily Telegraph allows a writer to attack Lycra-clad riders in silly hats in what we can only hope is a failed attempt at bike humor.

A story in story in the Toronto Star cites a reader accusing cyclists of supreme arrogance when they pass on the bike path for the crime of — wait for it — using a bike bell. And threatening retaliation by honking like a maniac at every cyclist he sees on the streets.

Finally, in perhaps the most absurdly over the top anti-bike diatribe I’ve had the misfortune of reading, a Toronto writer says cyclists are sanctimonious jerks who should be shot — yes, shot — despite admitting to chasing and physically assaulting a rider who objected, if inappropriately, to the risk of being doored. We can only hope the rider in question reads the story and presses charges, published confession in hand, and the courts force his attacker into much needed psychotherapy.

Increasing penalties for hit-and-run, increasing opposition to high-speed Hyperion/Glendale bridges

Today's forecast calls for first winter storm of the year. But hopefully, not this bad. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Forecast calls for first winter storm of the year. But probably not like this. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Momentum is finally building to increase penalties for hit-and-run.

But while increasing penalties to match DUI will remove one incentive to flee, it won’t be enough to stop hit-and-runs at a time when prison overcrowding means non-violent offenders serve only a fraction of their sentences.

Original thinking is required, whether that means automatic revocation of the driver’s license and seizure of the vehicle used, as I’ve long advocated, or extensive home detention and community service.

We also need to require permanent license plates for every car on the road from the minute it leaves the sales lot. Too many drivers use loopholes in the law to avoid putting valid plates on their cars, making them virtually untraceable in the event of a collision.

Just try counting the number of cars you see without plates the next time you ride.

Drivers should also face homicide charges anytime someone dies following a hit-and-run on the assumption that the victim might have been saved if they had stopped and called for help.

………

Opposition is deservedly growing to the planned highway-speed redevelopment of the Hyperion/Glendale bridge complex.

How this deadly throwback design even got preliminary support from city officials is beyond me.

………

Wednesday’s planned hearing of the My Figueroa project before the city council’s Transportation Committee has been postponed until further notice.

Let’s hope it’s soon, because funding requirements dictate that all opponents have to do to kill the project is to delay the start until after the first of the year. It would be very easy for someone to halt the whole project just by demanding further study, without ever publicly opposing it.

Not that any, say, car dealer or councilmember would actually try that, of course.

………

The NY Times profiles our Jewish Latino Moby-accompanying semi-hipster mayor; meanwhile, our own Times talks with LADOT bike czar Michelle Mowery, and apparently approves. City of LA department performance data goes online, including a rising rate of bike lane miles. The Times says the new and de-improved Spring Street bike lane is ready for a road test. Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman walks and thinks at Sunday’s CicLAvia; Boyonabike explains why he boycotted this one. Roaming historic Leimert Park by bike. West Hollywood is about to get a new robot garage; disappointingly, it’s not actually for parking robots. Pasadena man rides to raise funds for a chemical dependency treatment program like the one that saved his life. The inaugural Rose Bowl Legacy Cycling Challenge scheduled for later this month has been cancelled until next year. Bike to the Pomona Pumpkin Festival on the 20th. A new petition calls on El Monte to approve the city’s first bike lane. Funny how frequently opponents can look at bike lanes and fail to see anyone use them, even in bike friendly Long Beach. Will we ever see the promised Bike Nation bike share programs in LA and Long Beach, and should we wait on them? CLR Effect offers more typically great photos from the 2013 Velocity Cross.

Governor Brown has signed AB 417, which will streamline the environmental process for urban bike plans, so they don’t get held hostage by absurd claims that bike lanes will cause pollution. Ride the 2014 Amgen Tour of California route before the pros. I’d love to know what OC Register readers have to say about cyclists and the recently passed three-foot law, but you know, draconian paywall and stuff. An eight-year old Corona boy is released from the hospital three weeks after he was attacked by dogs while riding his bike. Bike SD says without an implementation strategy, the city’s Bike Master Plan is just a wish list. Seven-year old Solano Beach boy finishes third in BMX Nationals. Registration opens for next month’s Tour de (Camp) Pendleton. A driver is sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison for the DUI death of a Morro Bay cyclist last month thanks to previous convictions for DUI, reckless driving and hit-and-run; she was still drunk from the night before at the time of the 11 am collision, even after going for a run. No bias here, as the local press reports a helmetless Pacific Grove cyclist slammed into the back of a stopped car, but fails to consider whether the driver may have stopped short or cut her off. A Sacramento bike rider is killed when she’s rear-ended by a bus pulling up to a stop. San Francisco cyclists complain about well-documented anti-bike police bias; the question is, was anyone listening?

About time, as the NAACP declares walkability a civil rights issue. A drop in driving rates — especially among young people — is causing car builders to rethink their business model. Not surprisingly, bike friendly mayors often result in bike friendly cities; one hundred days into his administration, it remains to be seen just how bike friendly our new mayor is. Hundreds pause in Boulder CO to remember fallen pro cyclist Amy Dumbroski. Chicago business owner refuses to move to any city without protected bike lanes. One in four Ohio bike collisions ends in hit-and-run. More New Yorkers are killed in motor vehicle collisions than by guns; not that the NYPD seems to give a damn. Leading New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio switches from opponent to supporter of protected bike lanes, but won’t bike to work if elected. New York jurists consider whether a driver can be too drunk to be responsible for his or her actions. Lindsey Lohan rides bikes with her mom; no word on whether they rode drunk or crashed into anyone. Because a driver wasn’t willing to wait 15 seconds for a bike rider to cross a bridge, a Maryland family no longer has a mother. Charleston SC officials want to encourage bike riding while reining in all that cluttered bike parking. Georgia’s absurdly anti-bike legislation is pulled by its authors, who don’t understand the negative reaction.

Mass retirements hit the pro peloton. Bolivia’s fourth largest city could require residents to ride once a week; thanks to Cyclelicious for the link. Breathtaking Ai Weiwei bike art installation opens in Toronto. Your next really heavy helmet could be made of flax. Evidently, Cambridge’s new cycle-safe junction design isn’t as two cyclists collide head-on. Biking the back roads of Southern England. Next year’s Giro will pay tribute to the late, great Marco Pantani. The Jerusalem Post looks at “righteous Christian Italian cycling great” Gino Bartali, who risked his life to save Jews during WWII; I look forward to the Catholic church giving him the respect he deserves. Dubai prosecutors want to increase the one-month sentence given the killer of triathlete Roy Nasr. Cape Town’s new cycle track is used primarily for motorbike parking and smoke breaks. Australia’s new Prime Minister defends making the country pick up the tab for his bike rides. An Aussie cyclist is arrested for riding at nearly four times the legal alcohol limit at 11:30 am, still drunk — and surprisingly not dead — from the night before.

Finally, every thief now has an alibi, as a California appellate court inexplicably rules that it’s not stealing if you plan to return a cell phone — or a bike — when you’re done with it. And here’s the perfect bike to borrow for all you temporary bike rustlers out there.

FYI, if you see an ad on this or any other post on here, the money is going to WordPress for hosting this blog, not me.

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