Morning Links: Reflections on crappy cyclist, sailor charged in fatal hit-and-run, and more Mobility madness

Sometimes, drivers have a point when they complain about bike riders.

And sometimes, people on bikes survive the streets, not because of their own skills, but because of the caution shown by those around them.

The other day, I found myself driving down Santa Monica Blvd to attend a meeting in West Hollywood.

As I drove, I watched a fixie rider make his way through traffic, buds firmly affixed to both ears, his lack of skill — and presumably, experience — evident by the way he awkwardly swayed from side to side with every pedal stroke.

I passed him, moving into the next lane to give him plenty of space, even though he was hugging the door zone.

About a block later, I found myself behind a line of stopped cars in the right lane. So I put on my signal, checked my mirror and started to pull to my left. Then jammed on my brakes, as he swung out around me, apparently blind to my change in direction.

He split the lanes, weaving through traffic before cutting suddenly to the right, the driver he’d just cut off narrowly averting a rear-end collision as he was forced into a panic stop.

A block or two later, I watched as he first jumped a light, weaving through vehicles coming from both directions, despite their far superior claim to the right-of-way, then swung around a Brinks truck without warning as it was pulling away from the curb.

In each instance, a collision was avoided, not through any skill of the guy on the bike, but through the alertness of those he shared the road with.

This is not intended as a rant against fixie riders, many of whom can put my own skills on a bike to shame. Nor is it intended as a complaint against riders who cut through traffic, even though I can’t recommend it; I’ve seen some who can slice and dice through moving cars like a chef at Benihana.

This guy was neither of those.

He lacked the skill to pull off the moves he made. Yet somehow survived his trip, not through the grace of God, but because others on the road were watching out for him when he wasn’t watching out for himself. And seemingly oblivious to the close calls he’d had.

Proof that those behind the wheel aren’t always the bad guys. And that our streets work best when we all look out for one another.

On the other hand, his reckless riding and lack of skill did not reflect on me.

Or anyone else who takes to two wheels, anymore than a crappy driver makes every other driver look bad.

………

It took awhile, but there may be justice for Philip White after all.

The hit-and-run victim was found lying next to his crushed bike in an Oceanside cul-de-sac early one morning last September. Police quickly identified a suspect, but no charges were filed.

Until now.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports Christopher Noah, an active duty sailor stationed at Camp Pendleton, has been arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run.

According to the U-T, personnel on the base noticed the damaged to Noah’s car, and convinced him to contact police.

He admitted to being the driver, while insisting he didn’t know he had hit anyone. However, evidence at the scene reportedly contradicted his statement, including indications that White’s body appeared to have been moved.

The paper questions why it took 10 months to file charges; I’d question why Noah doesn’t face more serious charges, since White might have had a chance if his killer hadn’t left him to die alone on a deserted street.

………

KPCC interviews Venice Councilmember Mike Bonin about the city’s newly approved transportation plan.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog’s Joe Linton weighs in on the plan on KCRW’s Which Way LA, along with Eastside Councilmember Jose Huizar, UCLA’s Madeline Brozen and a spokeswoman for the group threatening to sue over it.

An attorney writes on City Watch that the Mobility Plan is based on fatally flawed data and wishful thinking, and the city failed to follow proper procedure — even though it was based on over five years of public process.

KFI’s John and Ken rage over the Mobility Plan, riling up their listeners by misrepresenting both it and bicycling in the City of Angeles. And you know the plan’s on the right track when Rush Limbaugh bloviates against it.

It’s important to remember that radio personalities like those mentioned above aren’t reporters, they’re entertainers. Their job is to anger their listeners enough to keep them coming back for more in order to drive up ratings; in doing so, they’re no more committed to the facts than any internet troll.

………

Bicycling fatalities among children under 15 have dropped 92% since 1975. Which would be good news except the decrease may be due to fewer kids riding bikes these days.

………

Local

The Great Streets section of Venice Blvd will get a road diet, protected bike lanes and mid-block crossings, though maybe not all at once.

CiclaValley says biking to Dodger stadium is the fast and easy way to get there.

Bike Portland visits CicLAvia, and says we have some things to teach our friends up north about open streets.

Santa Monica police are conducting another bike and pedestrian safety enforcement operation today, and more in the next few weeks. So observe the letter of the law when riding through the city.

LAist offers 39 reasons why they love Long Beach; the city’s embrace of bikes is just one of them.

Wolfpack Hustle’s annual Civic Center Crit races around City Hall this Saturday.

UCLA Lewis Center and Institute of Transportation Studies will host a webinar this Wednesday on Streetscape Design to Improve Walking and Cycling.

The second-annual Santa Monica Bike Expo will take place at the pier on October 10th and 11th, and will include a 15-mile Tour of Santa Monica bike ride.

 

State

Calbike says the legislature’s extraordinary session to find money to fix the state’s crumbling streets and highways should include funding for bikeways.

Some people in Coronado really, really don’t want more bikes or a bike path on the beach.

Menlo Park may remove parking along the bay to make way for bike lanes.

Only the state can legalize the Idaho stop. So instead, a San Francisco supervisor has introduced an ordinance to make enforcement of cyclists riding through stop signs the police department’s lowest law enforcement priority.

Bike traffic on San Francisco’s Market Street sets a new record, with over 100,000 bike trips recorded in July.

The Marin County cyclist convicted of the road rage beating of a motorist now faces a personal injury lawsuit, as well as his upcoming sentencing.

 

National

Good article intended for police officers on the how’s and why’s of enforcing bike laws.

How to prevent the most common bicycling injuries.

Denver’s Streetsblog says public bike infrastructure shouldn’t have to depend on private money.

A 75-year old Kansas ‘bent rider hits the 120,000 mile mark.

Texas police officers don’t have a clue who to ticket for a right hook collision. Hint: the same right-of-way violation applies if a driver turns in front of a bike as it does if he turns in front of a car in the next lane; thanks to Cyclelicious for the link.

Ohio police want to know why a cyclist was riding salmon in the traffic lanes of an Interstate highway in the middle of the night. If they find out, I hope they tell us.

A 17-year old Indiana driver had a blood alcohol level of .28 — 3.5 times the legal limit – when she plowed into two cousins out for bike ride, killing one; prosecutors plan to charge the teenager as an adult.

A Boston researcher says the city should calm traffic and improve lighting, education and enforcement to increase safety for cyclists.

A Florida bike rider thanks the stranger who gave him a ride home after an early morning flat.

 

International

Calgary cyclists who have survived collisions share their frustration with the attitudes of drivers.

Caught on video: A London rider stops for every red light, yet manages to keep up with a guy who jumps them all. A lot of us have had that same experience.

No bias here. When a British man and his family are arrested for planning to join ISIS in Syria, the press identifies him primarily as a “keen cyclist.”

A Brit women’s racer says riding in London is safer than it seems, but women riders need to be more assertive.

Mashable goes behind the scenes of London’s secretive pedicab industry.

A new Dutch track bike only looks like it’s made of wood.

The founder of what was once the world’s largest bicycle maker has died in India; OP Munjal started the company because he was tired of sharing a single bike with his two brothers.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons insists there’s no scientific evidence that Australia’s mandatory helmet law has had an adverse effect on health by discouraging people from riding.

Aussie site Cycling Tips goes behind the scenes to look at pro cycling’s financial model. And it’s not a pretty picture.

 

Finally…

A Texas driver slams into a Walmart, so naturally, there’s a bike involved. Someone smashed the glass on a Clovis bike shop to steal a Stolen bike. Putting that in the window is just tempting fate.

And anyone can climb Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountains; these guys are riding up them.

 

3 comments

  1. David says:

    It was good to see Bonin at ciclavia last weekend, if more elected officials set up a table at this well attended event, I would be more excited about voting for them.

    The situation with the dangerous cyclist you describe (and the many I see every year too that have a death wish) is at the heart of the reason that cautious cyclists get consternation and disrepect from motorists, the general public, and a blind eye from some politicians. If a motorist has to jam their brakes one time to avoid a collision with a cyclist that blows a stop sign, or trys to snake between cars without the motorist seeing them, you have now converted another person into someone that does not like cyclists.

  2. Ktown rider says:

    Ten to one the fixie rider was a male between 14 and 24.
    We need bike education in the high schools to counter the assumption that the real world is just an obstacle course for those of superior bravado, a la the bike messenger in Premium Rush.

  3. The thing about the idiot on the fixie is that drivers will use confirmation bias to blame all cyclists for that behavior, and claim that we are all alike, while denying the 17 YO drunk in Alaska has any bearing on other drivers

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