Morning Links: LA area bikelash spreads, free Bike Hub memberships, and SUVs are built to kill

In the fight for safe streets, the streets are fighting back.

Or at least, the people trying to keep them dangerous are.

According to City Lab, the bikelash against redesigning streets to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians is spreading nationwide.

And Pasadena and Los Angeles are prime bad examples.

For several hours, opponents voiced their objections into the auditorium’s sound system. Shedding lanes, one said, would be an “unmitigated traffic disaster.” Not only would residents who live along the road never again be able to back out of their driveways, bicycle accidents would increase (because the new lanes would attract more riders). At one point, a city councilmember decided to hold a “voice vote” on the issue. Though several dozen shouted their support for the reconfiguration, their cries were drowned out by hundreds who bellowed their opposition.

The next day, the City of Pasadena announced that a second scheduled meeting on the issue was cancelled. And so ended the road diet of Orange Grove Boulevard.

And then there’s this from the City of Angels.

John Russo, one of Keep LA Moving’s organizers, bristles at this safety argument. “It makes me laugh when people say we’re anti-safety. You’d have to be a psychopath to be anti-safety,” he said. “We’re here to remind the city how most Angelenos use the road. Overall, we don’t think it’s a bad idea to take a step back and think long and hard about how Vision Zero is being implemented in Los Angeles…”

In addition to these kinds of grassroots efforts, UCLA’s Brozen is looking for more assertive leadership from the city’s political class. And so far, she’s not seeing it. “There’s a little bit of a void in the pro-transportation change space in L.A., and it seems like this anti-change backlash is filling that void,” she said. “There’s a lack of understanding as to why these projects are needed. Without that understanding, it gets really personal and very nasty very quickly.”

That is why I’m crashing city hall on May 18th to demand safer streets.

Far too often, our elected leaders listen to traffic safety deniers like Russo, and forget that some of their constituents are drivers. But all of them are people, everyone of whom use the streets in some way.

And it’s long past time we prioritized the needs and safety of people before cars, to create a safe, livable and prosperous city that benefits everyone.

I hope you’ll join me as we crash the 10 am city council meeting one week from tomorrow, and ask our elected officials to have the courage to do the right thing.

Because they already know what that is. We just have to make them to do it.

Photo from FHWA.

………

If you can’t join me on the 18th — or even if you can — feel free to send a letter demanding for safer streets for you, me and everyone else. Just email your letter by Wednesday, May 16th to ted at bikinginla dot com.

I’ll print them out and include them with the packages we’re giving each councilmember and the mayor, containing copies of Profiles in Courage and Do The Right Thing.

A couple quick tips if you plan to write a letter.

  • If you can, try to work in the theme of our protest by asking them to have the courage to do the right thing.
  • Mention what council districts you live, work or ride in.
  • Stress that safer streets benefit everyone, whether on bikes, on foot or in cars.
  • Feel free to (politely) express whatever anger or fear you may be feeling
  • Demand they take immediate action to protect us all

And let me know if it’s okay to share your letter. I’ll be happy to put it on here as a guest post leading up to Friday’s meeting.

………

Now here’s a great deal.

To celebrate Bike Month, Metro is offering free one-year Bike Hub memberships through the end of this month.

It’s worth signing up if only to have a safe, free place to lock your bike when you take transit or ride to DTLA, Hollywood or El Monte.

………

More fallout from the Insurance Institute study we mentioned yesterday, which blames SUV design, as well as bad road design, for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths.

The study suggests that the high, flat grills on most SUVs strike a person higher, with greater force and trauma than most cars would.

In other words, those massive SUVs we share the road with are just as deadly as you thought they were.

Never mind the distracted drivers in them.

………

Speaking of Bike Month, there’s no better way to celebrate than watching the start of the Amgen Tour of California in Long Beach this Sunday.

Except for getting out and riding your own bike there, of course.

………

Local

13th CD Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is hosting a community conference this Saturday, which will discuss pedestrian safety among other issues. Apparently he forgot to include a workshop on bike safety; maybe you should go and remind him. And tell him that cancelling the Temple Street road diet hurts everyone.

LA’s Jewish Journal asks if the Giro’s Jerusalem start makes Israelis the People of the Bike.

Santa Clarita’s mayor pro tem invites everyone to come out and enjoy Bike Month on the city’s 63 miles of trails.

A Streetsblog Op-Ed says that Santa Monica officials and employees have to start paying for parking if the city is serious about using it to discourage driving.

 

State

Today is Bike to Work Day by the Bay, as NorCal celebrates a week earlier than we do.

San Franciscans will now be able to rent ebikes through the Ford Go Bikes docked bikeshare. Let’s hope LA’s Metro Bike catches up soon.

San Francisco’s effort to allow people to report traffic and parking violations through a 311 app turns out to be a disappointment. We tried to get a similar program going here in LA several years ago, but couldn’t get approval from the LAPD and city attorney.

Larkspur is using eminent domain to close a gap in a bike path and make the “path to nowhere” actually go somewhere.

No surprise that San Raphael bike riders and business owners are split over a pilot protected bike lane, since business people usually seem to prefer parking spaces to customers. Although I’ve never heard anyone say “Why do we need a road here, since there’s another one just a block over.”

A Stockton ministry is using bicycles to help people find jobs and housing.

 

National

Ebikes are now free to roam county trails surrounding Aspen CO.

More on the two German bike riders who were run down from behind on a Kansas highway; authorities are still trying to inform their next of kin. There’s something seriously wrong when people can’t visit this country without being sent back home in a box, just because they chose to ride a bicycle.

You have to give this Michigan letter writer credit. It takes skill to turn a proposed $10 annual fee on kayaks and canoes into an attack on bicycles.

Apparently not understanding how westerns work, Nashville tells Bird scooters they’ve got 15 days to get out of town, Although some people want to save the Birds. Any fan of cowboy movies could tell you they’re supposed get out of town by sunset.

A small New Jersey town has restricted access to a number of its streets during rush hour to keep New York-bound Waze users off them. Although a better solution would be to install traffic diverters and convert the streets to bike boulevards, which would eliminate cut-through traffic while preserving local access.

Curbed features a one-week diary from a multi-modal Boston city councilor and mom. Show that to the next person who tells you every mom needs a minivan.

 

International

Nice piece from Singletrack, as a writer uses elderly neighbor as an example to make the point that planners should talk about walking, bicycling and driving, rather than pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, because each is a choice that should be an option for everyone, rather than who we are.

Bike Radar examines the six great mysteries of cycling, including why do bicyclists litter — which I’ve often wondered myself — and is it all just a cover for cake addicts?

My favorite story of the day: Costa Rica’s new president rides to his inauguration in a hydrogen powered bus, escorted by people on bicycles, including the new head of the national assembly. And with another bike on the bus rack for good measure.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A Montreal mother pleads for drivers to show a little patience, be polite and take responsibility for their actions, as spokeswoman for the city’s Ride of Silence just seven months after her teenage son was killed in a collision with a U-turning driver. Needless to say, the driver wasn’t charged.

HuffPo UK says bicycling can improve mental health. Which anyone who has ever started a bike ride in a bad mood can probably attest to.

London’s hugely successful Mini Holland bikeway has been shortlisted for a people’s choice civil engineering award, even if opponents consider the recognition a joke.

Glasgow is planning to turn a fashionable district into the city’s first bicycle village.

So much for being bike friendly. A bike-riding Indian actor is turned away from six out of seven luxury hotels in Mumbai, which evidently didn’t want bicycles besmirching their parking.

After a two-year trial period, violations of the 1.5 meter passing law in Australia’s New South Wales state — the equivalent of a 3-foot passing law in the US — will now result in a $330 fine and two points off a driver’s license. That compares to just $35 in California, although that rises to $235 once all the court and admin fees are tacked on.

You can now rent an ebike all over Tokyo, as well as reserve maps, guidebooks and helmets in advance.

 

Competitive Cycling

It was Italian day in the Giro d’Italia.

The Giro remembered Wouter Weylandt on Wednesday’s stage of the race, seven years after he was killed in a tragic crash.

Lance says cycling shouldn’t try so hard to stop doping, because it isn’t working. Problem is, he’s probably right; while pro cycling brags about ending the doping era, it’s more likely teams have just gotten better at hiding it.

 

Finally…

If you can’t go swimming with the dolphins, try riding with the emus. When a bike helmet turns into an attack ad.

And doesn’t everyone warm up for a WorldTour race by hosting a gravel gran fondo?

 

One comment

  1. Frank says:

    RE: SUV Danger, there’s a good book that came out about this in 2002 called High and Mighty. It’s out of print now but used copies are pretty cheap online.

    Here’s an interview with the author:
    https://youtu.be/H1qku0jScQs

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