Morning Links: Homeowner opposition to Westwood bike lanes may be a lie, and the CHP gets it wrong again

As I write this, the LA City Planning Commission is just hours away from a vote that could lead to the removal of Westwood Blvd and Central Ave from the city’s Mobility Plan, over the strenuous objections of virtually everyone who rides a bike on those streets.

Westwood resident Calla Wiemer has written a detailed, insightful and highly persuasive letter to the Commission arguing for keeping Westwood in the plan, which she has kindly agreed to let me share with you.

Regardless of how the commission votes, you should forward this to your councilmember before the city council takes up the matter in a few weeks.

Especially since only 42 of the roughly 3,000 homeowners in the area were concerned enough to oppose removing parking or traffic lanes to make room for bike lanes.

But those 42 are the only ones Paul Koretz seems to care about.

Dear LA CPC,

The proposed amendment to remove Westwood Blvd from the Mobility 2035 Plan and to replace it with a Gayley-Midvale route is ill-conceived. The argument in favor of such a change to the plan was articulated in a 6/22 email “Blast” from the Westwood South of Santa Monica (WSSM) Homeowners Association. The flaws in the case presented in this email Blast, however, are numerous. First, the claim that the alternative route “both maintains and respects the connectivity of the Bicycle Enhanced Network” is false. Westwood Blvd provides a through connection directly from UCLA to Westwood Station on the Expo Line and on to points south. Midvale, by contrast, truncates with a T-intersection at Santa Monica Blvd from which point riders moving in a north-south direction would need to make their way to or from Westwood Blvd to continue on course.

Second, the suggestion that a “growing presence of bicycle commuters on Westwood”, which will “slow traffic” and “create added conflicts”, can be averted by designating an inconvenient alternative route is a fantasy. A growing presence of bicycle riders on Westwood Blvd is the reality. Bike riders choose Westwood Blvd because it’s the most direct route to their destinations – destinations which are often located on Westwood Blvd for the many who shop, work, or live there. As much as non-cyclists might wish to impose an alternative route on those who ride, they simply do not have the authority to do so. The best way to avoid the conflicts the WSSM leadership is so concerned about is to provide accommodation for bike riders.

Third, the premise that “Most local residents do not feel comfortable riding through Westwood Village on Westwood Blvd” is true enough but serves better as an argument for bike lanes than against them. Westwood Blvd in its present form is a dangerous and scary place to ride a bike. Making it safer will raise the comfort level of local residents. Consider as well that most local residents similarly do not feel comfortable riding a bike on Midvale or Gayley as those streets are currently constituted. The concept in designating these alternative streets as bike routes would be to make them more inviting for bike riding. But we are better off applying such effort to Westwood Blvd which already has the cycling presence to justify it.

Fourth, continuing to speak for “most local residents” the WSSM leadership’s presumption that our ranks “have looked to our City’s planning and transportation experts to fashion” a biking alternative to Westwood Blvd is not borne out by the Association’s own survey research. The survey was conducted in June of 2014 and garnered 135 responses from the roughly 3000 homeowners in the neighborhood. Asked to express opposition to or support for “Removal of traffic or parking lanes on busy arterials for dedicated bike lanes”, only 42 respondents ticked opposition to the degree of “important” or “very important”. The number in support of removal was 18 while 59 declined to respond to such a broadly worded question and 16 others who opposed removal did not see the issue as “important” or “very important”. A more telling manifestation of local opinion on bike lanes for Westwood Blvd has been the consistently large turnout of advocates at public hearings conducted by government and civic organizations over the last few years. Of particular note, the Westwood Village Improvement Association (BID) held a series of three public hearings drawing packed houses of supporters and only a few opponents. As a result of that consultation with the community, the BID submitted a request to the city government and Councilmember Koretz that a study be conducted of bike lane designs for Westwood Blvd.

What in truth can be said about most local residents is that we are exasperated by the traffic, and yes, we look to the city’s planning and transportation experts to come up with strategies to mitigate it and to improve safety. Please let us not exclude Westwood Blvd from that process. If any street is in need of a re-envisioning, it is Westwood Blvd. Do let us keep it in the Bicycle Enhanced Network so that the planners can give us a vision of a street that works for people and businesses, not just one that is clogged with motor vehicles.

Respectfully,

Calla Wiemer

Homeowner, Westwood South of Santa Monica

………

Once again, the CHP gets bike law wrong when a San Luis Obispo driver asks for advice on whether to cross the yellow line or slow down to obey the three foot passing law, forgetting that drivers are allowed to pass closer than three feet as long as they slow down and pass safely.

And despite the officer’s assertions, there is no requirement under California law that cyclists have to ride single file — especially not in a bike lane.

Nor are they required to ride to the right in a bike lane under any circumstances, ever.

………

Not surprisingly, the Kalamazoo driver who ran down nine bicyclists has been charged with five counts of causing death while operating a motor vehicle under the influence, as well as four counts of causing serious injury while intoxicated; blood tests showed he was under the influence of an undisclosed substance.

Meanwhile, another survivor has been released from the hospital; two other victims remain hospitalized.

………

Now that’s a close pass. Credit the rider for staying upright rather than overreacting to it.

My apologies to whoever sent this to me; unfortunately, I’ve lost any record of who that was.

………

A driver of one of London’s famous black cabs records himself chasing down and apprehending a hit-and-run driver who knocked a cyclist off his bike. Although he must have scared the crap out of all the other riders as he cut in and out of a bike lane to catch up to the fleeing driver.

Thanks to Richard Masoner for the heads-up.

………

Yesterday there was a bike attached to this lock on Hollywood Blvd; today there isn’t. A reminder to buy a quality lock, and lock your bike securely.

And register the damn thing, already.

SAMSUNG

………

Lael Wilcox smashes the women’s record to win the Trans Am race across the US. The Alaskan cyclist becomes the first woman and the first American to win the solo, unsupported 4,200 mile race, finishing in 18 days.

Not to be confused with the better known, fully supported RAAM, going on now.

………

Local

Organizers of Sunday’s 626 Golden Streets event say it may have to be postponed if unhealthy air quality caused by the San Gabriel Complex fire doesn’t improve. Let’s hope not; the logistics of arranging another date with seven separate cities could prove challenging.

Universal announces plans to reorient their production facilities, including making way for a park and the previously announced extension of the LA River bike path through their property.

Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson says city council committee meetings are Dante’s tenth circle of hell; but in this case, a successful one, as the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Committee votes to formulate a bike plan to improve safety and connect with other cities in the area.

LADOT reminds everyone to submit their rides and other activities to the department’s calendar of upcoming bike events. Come back tomorrow, when we’ll have our own list of bike events.

A British cyclist takes a “blockbuster” ride through the San Gabriels before making his way up Mt. Baldy.

 

State

Now that’s more like it. Orange police impound 16 high-end cars for street racing after a GoPro shows one that hit a bike rider was traveling at 50 mph, rather than 25 mph as the driver claimed. It’s also a reminder to always assume you’re injured following a collision; the cyclist initially said he wasn’t hurt, but later found out he had a broken clavicle and finger, as well as cuts and bruises all over his body.

A bighearted Tustin cop buys a new adult tricycle for a woman with cerebral palsy after hers was stolen last month.

San Clemente plans a number of changes to improve bike safety, including a two-way bikeway on El Camino Real, sharrows on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route and buffered bike lanes on Avenida Pico.

Palm Springs police are trying to identify a thief who stole an $1,800 bicycle; fortunately, the bike was eventually recovered.

The family of Ventura teenager Jonathan Hernandez files a wrongful death suit against the tow truck driver who kept going after hitting him as he rode his bike last February, leaving him in the road to be struck by another driver, who also fled the scene. The Ventura County DA still hasn’t filed any charges against the driver, who has close business ties with city and county, and the Ventura PD. Leaving us to wonder once again if the DA is justice challenged when it comes to traffic victims.

Tragic news from San Francisco, as two bike riders were killed by hit-and-run drivers in separate incidents. A suspect was arrested in one crash in which a driver ran a red light before striking the rider, while a woman was killed by a speeding driver who hit her bike head-on in Golden Gate Park.

Streetsblog talks with the new executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Davis approves 36 housing units to provide funding for a bike path, even though the city is having trouble negotiating a necessary easement.

A Sacramento paper offers suggestions on taking the train to ride Bay Area bike trails.

 

National

VeloNews looks at a form of arterial disease that is increasingly affecting cyclists, including pro racer Joe Dombrowsky.

HuffPo offers five tips for better bicycling.

Bicycling provides nine tips from readers on how to get your family and friends hooked on bike riding.

An Illinois teacher and her husband were killed when they were struck by a car driven by a 16-year old boy, who turned out to be one of her former students.

An unlicensed and uninsured Louisville KY driver faces two murder charges for running down three girls who were standing in a bike lane; he had a BAC two and a half times the legal limit following the crash.

It’s back to the drawing board for New York’s DOT, as the debate over bike lanes in the city’s Clinton Hill neighborhood was won by the side that yelled the most. And needless to say, it wasn’t the bike riders.

A $4,200 e-cargo bike races a New York subway.

A pair of medical professionals say a contentious bike lane on a Charleston SC bridge would enhance livability and health; evidently, you don’t have to convince local bicyclists.

 

International

A Montreal writer says vehicular cycling is dead, even if it isn’t.

The UK’s Cyclist magazine examines the research behind bike helmets, concluding that whether you wear one or not is up to you.

Australia’s Canberra region finally makes it illegal to throw things at bike riders. Which doesn’t seem to stop anyone here.

An Aussie writer discovers bicycling can help with grief and depression after his own father died of cancer.

 

Finally…

Evidently, not even the dead are safe from bike thieves. Who needs wheels when your bike can have spider legs?

And no, Leonardo da Vinci did not invent the bicycle.

But he probably wishes he did.

 

One comment

  1. I keep saying this but the traffic test for the Charleston bike lane was a worst-case scenario, build a bike lane that nobody can use, and it still only added a minute to rush hour travel time. Imagine what would happen if only 1 driver in ten lived close enough to ride a bike over that bridge and half of those did

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