Morning Links: Playa del Rey non-traffic, 30-second delay on Venice Blvd, and more City Watch inanity

After all the horror stories, a rare moment of clarity in Playa del Rey.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ve undoubtedly heard motorists ranting that the recent road diets in Playa del Rey have been an unmitigated disaster. Resulting, they swear, in endless traffic backups that have cost people their jobs and stolen time from their families.

Maybe not so fast.

It’s always possible that Jon Phillips happened to ride Culver Blvd through Playa del Rey on an exceptionally light traffic night. Or maybe those horrendous traffic backups had dissipated by the time he rode through at 6 pm.

But other than a brief backup caused by the traffic light at the transition from Jefferson to Culver, it’s nowhere to be seen on the bike cam video he captured Monday evening, as he rode from Jefferson and Lincoln to Vista del Mar on Culver Blvd.

………

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton attended Saturday’s workshop to discuss the Venice Blvd Great Streets project in Mar Vista, where LADOT revealed the changes to the road have increased evening peak travel times by just 30 seconds, and not at all in the morning.

Which, unsurprisingly, commenters to the story promptly called fake news.

It’s one of the major problems in American society these days that far too many people are willing to throw actual research and facts out the window, and refuse believe anything that contradicts their own prejudices.

And anyone who has ever driven a car — or ridden in one, apparently — seems to consider themselves experts in traffic planning.

………

The hack jobs go on at City Watch, where a pair of reading-for-comprehension challenged columnists take issue with the scoring system used by Vision Zero LA, which gives more weight to injuries and deaths of people on foot or bikes than in cars.

So why are traffic collisions involving vulnerable road users considered more important than motor vehicle crashes?

Because, according to Vision Zero, “They account for roughly 15% of all collisions, but approximately 50% of all deaths.” Or in other words, are a little more than three times as likely to be fatal.

Which is right in the second paragraph of the page these self-appointed transparency advocates link to that explains how the scoring system was used.

Evidently, they missed that part.

………

Business Insider says credit Chris Froome’s four Tour de France victories on his unique physiology, while a writer for the Irish Times says don’t count on him making it five.

A Canadian cycling magazine offers a post Tour wrap-up.

A sprinter loses his shot at victory in an Oregon bike race when the men’s field catches up to the women near the finish line, and he collides with another rider.

Bicycling looks at the rich history of the cycling jersey.

……….

Local

An urbanist website looks at the expansion of bikeshare and parking-protected bike lanes in DTLA.

The Better Bike Share partnership offers an exit interview with the LACBC’s outgoing Executive Director Tamika Butler. Speaking of which, you still have a few weeks to get your resume in to replace her.

Every superhero has an origin story. The LACBC’s Zachary Rynew, aka CiclaValley, tells how he really became a cyclist. And gives this site some of the blame credit for inspiring him.

The Pasadena Star-News suggests bike theft — or mangling a bike trying to steal it — is apparently just part of the problems on the Gold Line. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

Santa Monica city officials explain how they go carfree at least some of the time. Note to Santa Monica Lookout: If SaMo is boldly moving into the post WWII era, they’re only about 70 years too late.

Plans to revamp the failing South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach include better bicycle and pedestrian access.

The CEO of the Union Rescue Mission rode his bike from LA’s Skid Row to Sacramento to call attention to homelessness, despite losing a leg to flesh eating bacteria last year.

 

State

San Diego is dealing with the problem of bad data from cameras that are supposed to automatically count bike riders.

A Napa teenager arrived at the US – Mexico border, completing a 1,000-mile bike journey down the California coast to raise money for the families of fallen police officers.

The Ventura County Star urges local cities to follow Ventura and the county’s lead in making bicycling and bike lanes a priority.

Sad news from Salinas, where a 60-year old man died two months after he was hit by a car while riding his bike; he initially refused treatment, saying he wasn’t injured. This is why you always assume you’re hurt following any collision or serious fall; serious injuries — especially internal injuries — may not be apparent in the immediate aftermath of a crash.

Bad dog! A Riverside bike rider t-boned a pickup truck while trying to escape from the two-year old German shepherd that was chasing him; the victim suffered a compound leg fracture.

The East Bay parks district will allow ebikes on some recreational trails on a trial basis.

 

National

NPR says instead of getting self-driving cars to recognize bicyclists, bicycles may need to signal their existence to the cars.

Bicycling examines bike helmets, and what you get at every price point. For $300, the damn thing had better come with a full body flak jacket that drops down in the event of a collision. Or maybe a force field.

The next time you go mountain biking, try riding on wood, not just through woods.

The editor of Bike Portland shares his views on the new Oregon bike tax. Meanwhile, Portland may be the first US city to offer an adaptive bikeshare for people with disabilities.

A tech website compares Seattle’s new LimeBike and Spin dockless bikeshare systems, while a local newspaper looks at LimeBike’s entrance to Key Biscayne FL.

Thanks to Donald Trump, Utah’s Bear’s Ears National Monument is becoming a more popular mountain biking destination.

An Austin TX hotel and bar are both facing lawsuits for serving an intoxicated woman who then got in her car and critically injured a woman riding her bicycle. Unfortunately, under California law, bars and restaurants can’t be held responsible for serving drunks who go out and kill or injure someone here. Thanks to Steve Katz for the link.

A Texas man says he was the victim of a road raging bicyclist, who he says circled back to attack him after he slowed to wave at a friend. Which kind of stretches credibility, though it is possible the rider may have misinterpreted the gesture; either way, just don’t. Period.

Chicago’s elevated 606 Trail bikeway and green space turns one year old, while Dayton OH is considering an elevated rail-to-trail park and bikeway, even if the possible completion is years away.

Must have been a heavy bike. J. Patrick Lynch forwards news that an Illinois cop will receive lifetime disability benefits after injuring his back picking up a bicycle.

This is who we share the roads with. A road-raging 19-year old Michigan dirt bike rider was sentenced to up to 100 years in prison for beating a driver to death after arguing with him.

 

International

A Canadian researcher deconstructs the way the press reports on fatal crashes involving bicyclists, subtly shifting the blame away from the driver. Like in this one, for instance.

An Ottawa, Canada bike rider says keep your head up, so you don’t crash into other riders. Like her, for instance.

A Montreal man posted the bloodied end results of the hit-and-run involving his bike-riding mom, adding, “We would love to catch the dirt bag who thinks it’s OK to leave a bleeding woman they just hit on the street.” Which is pretty much how most of us feel about any hit-and-run.

Glasgow bike cops are caught riding on the sidewalk, even though bikes are banned on them. Sort of like the sidewalk-riding bicycling meter readers in downtown Beverly Hills.

This is why you don’t confront bike thieves yourself. A Dublin teenager pled guilty to smashing the owner of a bicycle with a hammer when he tried to stop the teen from stealing his bike.

Speaking of Dublin, bike advocates are complaining about the local tram company’s video criticizing bicyclists, accusing it of covering up for calls to improve the safety of its tracks.

Police confiscated 225 bicycles for riding on the highway in Dubai, where it’s illegal to ride a bike on any road with a speed limit over 37 mph.

 

Finally…

Riding on railroad tracks is stupid; especially when there’s a train between them and your bike. Pro tip: If police bust you for carrying a concealed weapon on your bicycle, along with a backpack full of meth, hydrocodone, Clonazepam, morphine, needles and a scale, always claim you just found it a few blocks away.

And don’t run down the person you think stole your bike.

Especially if it’s not really your bike.

 

12 comments

  1. William Wickwire says:

    Most intelligent people will not dispute thorough data. However, we need some more details.

    Are we comparing heavy winter traffic against summer light? In my experience, the only way this could happen would be if enough people diverted onto Sepulveda Boulevard, or they just aren’t driving this week.

    Yes, more than 20 years of driving the same route does kind of make people feel like they are an expert on certain things about traffic.

    This morning, Tuesday 7/25/17, I drove from Big Bear Lake to Redondo Beach in two hours and 15 minutes, including 5 to 10 minutes stop for road construction and a pilot vehicle in Running Springs. The point is that it’s a light week.

    I’m just saying, that I think one video that shows an abnormally late afternoon combined with some statistics that show that commutes have only increased 30 seconds could be misleading.

    • Are there data for the number of cars that are passing through?
    • Do you think the people who run businesses who claim a 40% drop in business are just making excuses for a failing business?
    • Do we think bicycles should be on the Ballona Creek path and not on the road in the first place?
    Just some questions to pose …

    • bikinginla says:

      I understand how driving the same street over time provides a great deal of familiarity with it. However, it does not provide any familiarity with traffic studies from around the world, best practices from AASHTO and NACTO, or the benefits of an engineering degree.

      It also does not replace conducting traffic and engineering studies long before any paint goes on the ground, as well as numerous followup studies.

      I have my own opinions on how to make changes to our streets, based on decades of driving, walking and bicycling, as well as spending most of the last decade educating myself on the subject. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that the people who do this for a living know more than I do, even if I disagree with them. And that the only way to evaluate any project is to skip the anecdotes, and rely on actual data.

      To answer your questions:

      1. Yes, LADOT tracks data for the number of cars passing through. However, that standard, called Level of Service, does not take into account people using other forms of transportation, such as walking, biking or using transit, and has been replaced with the more accurate Vehicle Miles Traveled.

      2. I believe people who say they’ve seen a drop-off in business. However, that is to be expected during the construction and transition phases. Studies from around the country show that projects like this usually result in an increase in business over time, and a drop in commercial vacancies. Give it time, and they may discover it’s the best thing that’s ever happened for them. (As an added bonus, residential property values usually go up in the surrounding neighborhoods as well, since people prefer to live in walkable, bikeable communities).

      3. As for whether bicycles belong on Ballona Creek instead of on the road, that’s fine for recreational riders, as long as all they want to do is go to the beach, and not concerned about the obvious safety issues of riding a trail that’s out of public view. However, it doesn’t benefit most people who are commuting to work, and none who want to shop or eat at those businesses you’re concerned about. People who ride bikes want to go to exactly the same places people in cars do, and enjoy it more. And every person on a bike instead of in a car helps relieve traffic congestion.

      • William Wickwire says:

        1) TRUST AN EXPERT
        Ok, so you make good points about “people who do this for a living”. However, none of this data has been explained more than you just did. So, I’m not sold that it is really methodically valid more than subjective experience. Can you cite what sort of degree this is for this kind of work? What schools offer it? Are these really competent people doing it? We see places all over town where there could be two lanes but is only one (for example getting on the 405 South at Braddock, backing traffic up through the neighborhoods instead of using paved space as a staging area) and I suspect the same “best practices from worldwide data” argument would be applied there. “Best practices” is kind of a catch phrase used when actions defy common sense.

        2) DISCLOSURE, PUBLIC PROCESS, and SUFFERING BUSINESSES
        Well, if you do believe that businesses are really suffering as a result, even if temporary, I do think it is absolutely awful not to have allowed a public dialog and warning, as the merchants state was the case.

        3) BALLONA CREEK VS A SECOND PARALLEL BIKEWAY
        Ballona Creek bike path DOES go from the mouth of Playa del Rey to Marina del Rey, and goes inland to downtown Culver City/Jefferson and all the stuff in all those places. Spurs could be built easily to Playa Vista and even West LA. Yes, people in upper PDR would have to pedal west to go east, but it is a HIGHLY ironic argument that you would prefer a bike path on a crowded road “in public view”, in harm’s way of an errant car, to a private, secluded bike path. I do happen to have an office just off Duquesne and the Ballona Creek path, and do ride my bike. But it is poorly maintained by the county and is not safe at night. How about lights and cameras. Kind of like what COULD have been done to make Vista del Mar safer. Interestingly, the Ballona path is about to be closed for maintenance soon. So why is a closure needed? I wonder, “will there be a detour??”

        • bikinginla says:

          Oh please.

          1. Traffic planning and engineering is a highly specialized field. Maybe you’ve heard of UCLA and USC, which offer two of the best programs in the US. If you want to go back and get your masters in the field, we can talk about whether they’re competent. But I can assure you they know more about it than either of us.

          Best practices is not a catch phrase. They are determined by America’s two leading traffic engineering societies, AASHTO and NACTO (look them up), as well as Caltrans and the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

          As for widening roadways, look up Induced Demand. It failed when they spent a billion dollars widening the Sepulveda Pass, only to see congestion get worse afterwards. Wider is not always best; in fact, it’s often worse.

          2. The was significant public outreach extending over one year period on Venice, Pershing and Culver, all of which were driven by the local community. No one can force anyone to participate in the process.

          3. I know of people who have been mugged in broad daylight on the Ballona Creek bike path, as well as at night, going back to at least 1990. I also know few, if any, women who are willing to ride it after dark, especially alone, for reasons that shouldn’t need any explanation. I enjoy riding Ballona Creek when it serves my purposes, but I do not feel safe there. And it does not take me to most shopping areas and employment centers in Culver City, Mar Vista, Abbot Kinney, Venice Beach or Santa Monica. Nor does it connect with north-south bikeways.

          As for a detour, Culver City has always provided one in the past. I would expect them to do so again.

          • William Wickwire says:

            No need for condescension.

            1) WHAT MAKES AN EXPERT
            Thanks for providing the start of an education. Obviously, I’m late to the party. But, if I am, so are a LOT of people. Something we didn’t know we had to care about. Frankly, I don’t appreciate throwing around acronyms. Let me state that I believe that building consensus on this matter takes a more conciliatory attitude. I still think a lot of what they are doing DEFIES common sense, and I don’t trust data that defies common sense. Yes, I ride my bike, and yes I even ride in places with green lanes like Copenhagen (you almost get run over by bikes there…so obviously demand is higher for such lanes there.)

            Not opposed to learning more at all, but I can tell you that I think the adoption of manuals by AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’) and NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials’) is more about liability than common sense.

            Some of their goals:
            1) Serve
            2) Educate
            3) Adapt
            So here I am telling you that I think these bike lanes serve too few people at the expense of too many.
            I am telling you that education has failed, though I am doing some homework now. I am VERY unimpressed with what I have found so far. A bunch of documents that are more about verbose manual-making than about using data wisely. But, I admit I’ve just started learning.
            And, adaptation…well apply the standards to existing bikelanes and connect them!
            For example, the green corners to alert drivers to intersections with bikeways make a lot of sense, but they didn’t even do that on Culver.

            Regarding LADOT “Level of Service”, do you really think that biking and walking are going to make a difference in those numbers compared to the cars? People won’t even ride the bus…same reasons you decline to ride Ballona Creek, more or less.

            2) BUSINESS FAILURE
            I am truly sorry that you are more concerned about your own bike commute than you are about businesses that represent people’s lives and livelihood. Just can’t believe that callous attitude. If they say they weren’t informed, then, back to #1, EDUCATE has failed.

            3) BALLONA CREEK PATHWAY
            Again, this is SO silly that you think a dedicated bikeway is unsafe. So make it safe. Trust me, I’m aware of the muggings, homeless, bad lighting and lack of railings to prevent “going over the edge”. But, rationalizing not fixing a dedicated bikepath is really just infuriating. Your argument that “it does not take me to most shopping areas and employment centers in Culver City, Mar Vista, Abbot Kinney, Venice Beach or Santa Monica” is just not true. It goes to downtown CC, and the limited access offramps at Lincoln, Overland, Motor etc. can connect to any street. The spur that connects to Marina del Rey goes right up Fiji Way and on to MDR/Santa Monica BETTER than the new bikeway (no, I don’t like having to ride around MDR to get to Venice either, but you still have to). The best argument you can make for the Jefferson/Culver path is that it goes to all those zillions of new condos in Playa Vista, but even then, you can exit at Lincoln and Centinela and get to ALL those places. I reitierate that I think jumping on the bandwagon to adopt standards that defy common sense because you aren’t willing to fix Ballona Creek and connect it to other potential spur routes is just disengenous motive-wise. Cameras, fences, lights, bike-police beats make more sense than taking out car lanes. Not only that, there is ANOTHER bikeway down Culver Blvd (center median-ish) that is full of rubbish, weeds, and dangerous curb cuts, but there seems not to be much desire to fix it either! No one even talks about it, but it’s there. Also in Bonin’s district, though I think both that one an Ballona are technically COUNTY maintained. Talk to Janice Hahn!

            I doubt that there would be this much pushback/opposition if they just added bikeways to the sides of existing roads instead of taking out lanes…not always possible, but where it is, it can serve motorists AND bicyclists. Certainly possible in Ballona Creek. The decline in pollution from car idling would offset the harm to the wetlands, I believe.

            Anyway, I just disagree with both your statements and your attitude. It should be more about how can all of us get along. Consensus.

            • bikinginla says:

              1. No condescension here. You made it clear you were unaware of the degree of education required to become a traffic planner or engineer. And the only acronyms I used were UCLA, USC, US, NACTO and AASTO, which are the names by which they are known.

              And if you don’t like the Vehicle Miles Traveled standard, take it up with Caltrans, NACTO and AASHTO. I’m just the messenger here.

              2. Who’s condescending now? What about suggesting businesses stay the course and they’ll profit in the long run is callous? I want what’s best for them, for the community, and yes, even for people who drive cars, since road diets have been shown to improve safety for all road users up to 47%.

              Call me that again, and I won’t be so polite.

              And I can assure you that outreach was done by the local communities. Why they apparently failed to pay attention to it is not within my power to explain.

              3. I’ve been working with the LAPD for seven years as part of the bike liaison program to increase patrols on the Ballona Creek bike path, as well as reaching out to the LASD and Culver City police to improve safety. What have you been doing about it?

              And the reason the Culver Blvd bikeway has been abandoned is that it is unsafe; placing bike riders in the middle of the roadway created too many conflict points and resulted in too many collisions. That was a perfect example of bad planning.

              However, the point you’re missing is that this is not about bikes, or bike lanes. The roads were narrowed to improve safety, because road diets are proven to be the most effective way to slow traffic and reduce injury collisions. The bike lanes in Playa del Rey are merely a tool to do that; they could have used k-rails or flower pots. Providing a safer place to ride a bike, and hopefully encourage more people to leave their cars at home, was just an added benefit.

              In Mar Vista, the road diet was again to improve safety; three lanes in each direction encouraged speeding during off peak hours. Meanwhile, narrowing the street made it safer to cross, especially for the elderly and handicapped who struggled to cross six lanes of traffic. The already existing bike lanes were made protected to encourage more people to walk and bike by moving traffic further away from the sidewalks and bike lanes, and again, to reduce the crossing distance.

              If you don’t like my attitude, look in the mirror. I have done my best to be polite and explain things to the best of my ability. If you don’t like the answers, there’s not much I can do about that. But nowhere I have I insulted you in any way.

              And I could not agree more with your last sentence. The Mar Vista and Playa del Rey communities have worked very hard on this. Yet all they’ve gotten is angry blowback from people who didn’t participate in the process, and who prioritize their convenience over the safety of others. Which is their right, but with which I strongly disagree.

              I have spent the last ten years of my life working to improve safety for all of us, and have been willing to discuss it with people like you who disagree with me — and call me callous — in order to reach that consensus. And I will spend the rest of it in the same pursuit.

              Now, no offense, but I’ve spent far more time in this conversation than my day allows. You can have the last word if you want, but I’m done.

  2. Gary Olson says:

    On Mondays traffic is usually lighter than the rest of the week.

  3. Ralph says:

    As for the comment that businesses claim it was a surprise well I have been a planning commissioner in another city.These things are rarely a surprise. We would have community notification. Community outreach multiple times. Noticing of the exact project and dates and locations for input. Then first review at a noticed meeting. Still people would show up and say we had not idea until a friend called…… We were always trying to find new ways to reach out to the people who would be affected by projects. But…..

    • William Wickwire says:

      It’s like so many things now, Ralph. People aren’t voting, for example, like they used to. Why? SOOOOOO busy.
      The results of the road diet prove that people can and do get involved when they have to, and that when you have the community outreach meetings in advance, people just ignore them unless they have a special agenda.
      It’s almost as if the people who show up for the input meetings are the ones you should NOT listen to, because they are likely to have a non-generalist interest.
      And anything that seems popular at one of those meetings but defies common sense should be questioned.

      • bikinginla says:

        And yet, so many of those things that would appear to defy common sense turn out to be exactly the right thing to do once you learn a little more about it.

        Funny how that works.

      • bikinginla says:

        BTW, saw your post on Nextdoor. My wife was very surprised to learn I’m a woman. So was my urologist.

        • William Wickwire says:

          Here is the reason I thought that [bracketed]. Now I think your comment is sexist. LOL. Not really.
          I really do think you should work on fixing the bike path start really exist. Controlled access is such a luxury.

          “3. I know of people who have been mugged in broad daylight on the Ballona Creek bike path, as well as at night, going back to at least 1990.
          [I also know few, if any, women who are willing to ride it after dark, especially alone, for reasons that shouldn’t need any explanation. I enjoy]
          riding Ballona Creek when it serves my purposes, but I do not feel safe there.”

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