Morning Links: Flax calls out road diet bullies, PCH bike/ped safety grant, and ‘tis the season for bike giveaways

Yes, we were bullied.

An Op-Ed by Peter Flax offers a good look at what he describes as the histrionics and fake news that have corrupted the road diet debate in the wake of the Playa del Rey debacle.

He describes the one-sided videos and unsupported accusations that the lane reductions were harming businesses in Playa and Mar Vista. And that it was Mayor Garcetti who pulled the plug in Playa del Rey.

One unpublicized meeting spelled the end of the task force and the Playa del Rey road diet. In league with outside forces, lower Playa business owners — among them prominent members of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce, already applying public pressure — demanded an audience with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. People familiar with the proceedings tell me the group confronted Garcetti with a narrative that the road diet was destroying local businesses and made explicit threats to undermine the mayor’s political ambitions. These strong arm tactics set off a chain of events that led to the near-complete reversal of traffic-calming measures on Culver, Jefferson and Pershing…

This was a savvy move: Everyone cares about the health of small businesses in the community. As an advocate for pedestrian and cyclist safety, I will admit that I’m comfortable if peoples’ commutes get a few minutes longer if it makes our streets less dangerous, but I don’t want local merchants to suffer. Nobody does, and a perception that road diets harm local businesses could shift public opinion in a major way. Dozens of studies conducted in major U.S. cities have concluded that traffic calming efforts ultimately boost business, but that certainly hasn’t stopped opponents from arguing that these dynamics don’t apply in L.A.

He also points the finger where it belongs — at the mayor and city departments that have failed to lead and to stand up in support of their own programs.

The absence of facts is a defining problem in the public conversation about our roads. This cannot simply be blamed on one side of this dispute. Part of the problem is how poorly our politicians and transportation officials as well as the city’s dominant news outlets have communicated incontestable facts to people who live and drive in L.A. The mayor has been painfully silent.

This has created a void that allows a free-for-all on Facebook and Nextdoor, where people on both sides can essentially make up their own facts — about travel times, accident rates, business impacts, the laws governing speeding and jaywalking, the scientific underpinning of Vision Zero, and so on. Rather than form opinions about what to do on Venice Boulevard based on substantiated traffic or accident data, published studies on road diets, or an unbiased analysis of business impacts, the public has wound up getting informed and misinformed by social media, where people who are angry about traffic freely dismiss INRIX and LADOT data as #fakenews and then create memes with data they prefer.

It’s worth reading the full piece. Because this is the fight we’re all in if we want safer streets in the City of Angels, whether we like it or not.

And yes, I’ve felt a lot of that bullying myself, usually after something I’ve written has been mentioned on Nextdoor, a site I avoid like the plague.

Although nowhere near as much as Flax, who has been subject to more abuse and attempts at character assignation than anyone should have to tolerate.

All for the sake of safer and more livable streets, and a more vibrant community.

There is a sickness within our society right now, where what should be civil, fact-based debates too often degenerate into name calling and outright lies.

Not to mention the death threats I reported to the police earlier this year.

This is our city and these are our streets. They don’t belong to cars or the people in them.

They belong to all of us.

And we all have a right to live — and survive — on them.

………

A $15,000 state grant will be used to improve bike and pedestrian safety along PCH through Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Malibu, including better enforcement and education on bike laws.

Although they should start by educating the sheriff’s department, which frequently misinterprets CVC 21202 to ticket people for riding abreast or in the traffic lane, both of which are legal in most cases.

………

‘Tis the season.

The parents of a fallen soldier have purchased 70 bicycles for kids at Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood.

A Virginia Walmart has stepped in to supply 460 of the 600 bicycles needed for a kids’ bike giveaway, after the original order was screwed up.

One thousand volunteers turned out in Tampa FL to build 800 bicycles to give to needy children.

………

This is day seven of the 3rd Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive. Your support helps keep SoCal’s best source for bike news and advocacy coming your way every day.

You can donate with just a few clicks by using PayPal. Or by using the Zelle app that is probably already in the banking app on your smartphone; send your contribution to ted @ bikinginla dot com (remove the spaces and format as a standard email address).

As always, any donation, in any amount, is truly and deeply appreciated.

And thanks to J Patrick L, Michael Y, Jeffrey F, Mark J, Joel S, Ellen S and Evan B for their generous donations to help support this site. And a belated thanks to Robs M for being the first to donate using Zelle, which apparently doesn’t let me know when someone uses it.

………

Local

Spin is the latest dockless bikeshare company to invade LA, setting up office with a pilot program in Koreatown; Streetsblog asks if privately owned dockless bikeshare will prove to be a blessing or curse.

The LA Daily News looks at Metro’s plans to address the eight-mile gap in the LA River bike path through Downtown LA — although construction won’t start for at least another five years. Good thing they weren’t planning to use it for the road cycling course in the 2028 Olympics.

UCLA’s student newspaper say’s Elon Musk’s tunnels won’t solve LA’s traffic problems, and represents the same old thinking that got Angelenos stuck in this mess. Although the point of the tunnels isn’t to solve traffic problems, but just to let wealthy drivers avoid them.

A Monrovia letter writer can’t seem to grasp the concept that sharrows mean that’s where bikes are supposed to be, bike riders don’t have to get the way out of impatient drivers, and drivers are supposed to change lanes to pass people on bicycles.

 

State

Southern California officials say cuts in the proposed GOP tax bill could result in an increase in traffic, including the loss of a $20 benefit for people who bike to work.

The OC Sheriff’s Department is looking for the owners of the 1,000 presumably stolen bicycles that were recovered near a homeless camp along the Santa Ana River; if you think your bike might be one of them, send a description of the bike and the serial and police report numbers to [email protected].

A 19-year old Watsonville man will face a vehicular homicide charge in the September death of a bike rider after police concluded he was speeding. And even though the victim ran a red light.

A new short documentary profiles a bike-riding, tai chi-practicing, tennis-playing San Franciscan octogenarian artist.

Once again, opponents attempt to use California’s CEQA anti-pollution laws to stop construction of bike and pedestrian paths in San Francisco, which is exactly what the revised rules are supposed to prevent. Update: J. Patrick Lynch forwards word that the San Francisco Supervisors shot that attempt down

You’ll soon need a reservation to visit the popular Muir Woods National Monument near Sausalito, unless you’re riding a bicycle or entering on foot.

A Sacramento cyclist is using a new form of inhaled insulin to control his Type 1 diabetes.

 

National

A new bike trailer can carry as much as a minivan while doubling as a fork lift — although you might need an ebike to pull the full 400 pound load.

Phoenix parents hop in their car and chase down a thief who stole their son’s bike.

A Colorado letter writer addresses the hatred expressed by some people towards the people on bikes who have the audacity to slow them down for a few seconds. Proving that it’s not just a SoCal phenomenon after all.

Caught on video: A pair of mountain bikers make the first-ever bike descent of a famed black diamond ski run at Jackson Hole WY.

Once again, authorities managed to keep a dangerous driver on the road until he killed someone. A Houston woman calls for changes in DUI laws after her bike-riding husband was killed by an alleged drunk driver who was already facing a previous drunk driving charge. Anyone arrested for DUI should automatically have their license suspended and the car they were driving impounded until the case is resolved.

A Texas TV station steps in after a bike rider gets the runaround when his bike was damaged by an uninsured Lyft driver.

Heartbreaking story from Minnesota, where a restaurant worker was the victim of two crashes in three weeks while riding his bike. And may not survive the second one, after the driver fled the scene.

Kindhearted Michigan police buy a new bike for a five-year old boy after he got caught in his and had to be cut out.

The Department of DIY strikes in Boston, where someone spray painted a bike lane on a bridge.

Once again, the tone deaf NYPD responds to the death of bike rider killed by a speeding driver by ticketing people riding bikes.

No surprise here, as the man accused of killing eight people in the New York bike path attack on Halloween has pled not guilty.

Hundreds of Philadelphians form a human-protected bike lane to protest the death of a bike rider killed by the driver of a trash truck while riding in a faded bike lane.

A road raging Pennsylvania man was sentenced to between one to 23 months in prison for attempting to run a bike rider off the road and threatening to kill him; he blamed the victim, as well as medications he was taking for paranoia and bipolar disorders.

A Florida bike rider became the latest victim of a police officer responding to an alarm without lights and sirens.

 

International

Local politicians say more has to be done to protect bicyclists and pedestrians in Victoria, British Columbia. And pretty much everywhere else.

Toronto is considering adopting a bike registration and theft reporting app that has resulted in a 30% drop in bike thefts in Vancouver over the last two years. Can we get that here? Pretty please?

London’s protected cycle superhighways move people five times more efficiently than regular traffic lanes. Meanwhile, the city will ban construction of new parking spaces in large segments of the city to reduce pollution. Which is probably better than LA’s approach of ripping out bike lanes.

A British magazine talks with adventurer Mark Beaumont about his record-setting ride around the world in less than 80 days.

Kashmir bicyclists pedal for democracy to call attention to the upcoming election process.

Caught on video too: After an Aussie driver nearly sideswiped a man riding in a bike lane, the driver accused him of riding outside the lane, which he clearly didn’t.

 

Competitive Cycling

Israel may be paying Chris Froome two million euros — the equivalent of $2.37 million — just to participate in next year’s Giro d’Italia, which is scheduled to start in the country.

A federal judge rules that Lance can use the “everybody else was doing it” defense in the $100 million lawsuit brought against him for allegedly defrauding his government sponsors through systematic doping.

Seven Columbian cyclists and one Bolivian rider failed drug tests at August’s Tour of Columbia, testing positive for a form of EPO. But let’s all pretend the doping era ended when Lance got busted, okay?

 

Finally…

You may able to drink your next Surly. You could be able to ride on, not in, your next Rapha.

And probably not the best idea to interrupt your 25-year ride around the world by getting drunk and assaulting cops just hours after entering a new country.

………

Thank you all for the kind words about my wife. It looks like she may be doing a little better, and may be able to avoid additional surgery for now. 

Fingers crossed.

4 comments

  1. Biked says:

    Nothing, not parenting even, nothing has had more volunteered labor then driving cars, a hustle on us as a species that now has us with a system of hired truck drivers at risk of there trucks getting automated in present scale!

    We tolerate garbage trucks for a few jobs, the ratio of million dollars pay to lives lost is scandalous, but worse is to let robots run such units as if they had familkee to support, they do not. AI can change everything much more, make roads far more sane then yet imagined. Cheap computation can help, but ten robots are needed on land for every truck driver laid off, no less. The robot we can afford far more of, that is industry does not get windfall from at our continued slaughter unless we fail. The present budget can matter. Vision zero is easy if investment not gouging in design is required.

    400 pounds migjt well be max in city payload when cost of pay is debt service on small smart clean powered wheelbarrow scale infrastructure. Living wages designs for steerers have doomed planet not just killed more bikes then even volunteer self driven scams.

  2. Robs Muir says:

    broken link on “drink your next Surly”…

  3. The cyclist killed by the driver with a pending DUI was killed in Dallas county, just a few miles from my house. And you’re right the enforcement of DUI laws is way too lax with people getting let off time after time until someone either dies or is permanently crippled and bedridden. Because just crippled isn’t enough either.

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