Morning Links: NYT shines national spotlight on LA’s deadly car culture, and open season for open streets

Los Angeles’ hit-and-run car culture and deadly streets takes their bow in the national spotlight.

And the picture isn’t pretty.

The New York Times, in an article by LA-based reporter Jose A. Del Real, examines the problems on our streets and the rising toll among bike riders, through the tragic death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier in South LA.

Cyclists have long risked danger in Los Angeles, where a loose and lackluster network of bike lanes means they often ride alongside speeding cars. Today, cyclists draw a special kind of vitriol from drivers in America’s car capital, where traffic congestion is increasingly intolerable as the region’s population grows by an estimated 50,000 people a year.

In poor areas of the city, where people are more likely to depend on walking and cycling as the sole means of transportation, residents complain of a disregard for their well-being by drivers who treat their neighborhood streets like highways. City data shows that the dangers to pedestrians and cyclists are particularly acute in South Los Angeles — where Mr. Frazier was killed — which lags the rest of the city in safety infrastructure.

He note that the mayor has promised to ramp up advertising to fight the carnage on our streets.

That’s right, advertising.

“I am confident that without our efforts, things would be even worse,” Mr. Garcetti said earlier this year. He said the city’s transportation department would ramp up advertising related to road safety.

The purpose of Vision Zero is to remake our streets so that human mistakes don’t result in fatal crashes.

It’s hard to see how even the most hard-hitting ad can equal the life-saving effectiveness of a single road diet.

It’s an important read.

One that even quotes me couple times, along with the newfound advocates who’ve risen in the wake of Woon’s death.

And Del Real did me the favor of not quoting most of the things I said, as he caught me in one of my more pissed off moods at the inaction of city officials in the face of the rising bike and pedestrian deaths and lawlessness on our streets.

Then again, I don’t think they could print most of that in the Times, anyway.

Maybe that national spotlight will embarrass our mayor as he angles for higher office.

And make him realize he has a lot more work to do right here in the City of Angels first. Along with a few city council butts to kick.

We can hope.

………

The streets are officially open.

The Los Angeles Daily News looks at another successful CicLAvia in the North San Fernando Valley, and contrasts it with the dangers riders face on LA streets. KCBS-2 reports from earlier in the day.

Los Angeles wasn’t the only city celebrating open streets on Sunday, as thousands turned out for the fifth CycLOUvia in Louisville KY.

And just a tad further north, Winnipeg, Canada celebrated its ninth annual Ciclovia.

………

The Ad Council has posted the winners of their annual student film contest focusing on the dangers of texting while driving.

Hopefully they’ll show these to the sheriff’s department.

………

Local

The city council’s Transportation Committee has voted to approve protected bike lanes on 5th and 6th Streets in LA’s Skid Row. That should make it almost a done deal, since the full council usually rubber stamps decisions made in committee. Update: Joe Linton informs me that the full council has already approved the motion, voting 11 to 0 on Friday to install the lanes.

The LA Times travel section offers tips on how to choose a car bike rack for your next road trip. Best advice: Whatever rack you choose, make sure your can lock it to your car, then lock the bikes to the rack. And take them inside when you stop for the night or leave your car for any length of time.

Calabasas-based 10 Speed Coffee is opening a new bike-themed outpost in Santa Monica.

 

State

San Juan Capistrano police give a six-year old boy a new bicycle to replace the one he managed to jump off of, saving his own life just before it was crunched by a red light-running driver. However, it’s strange that the driver was booked on a felony hit-and-run charge, which requires serious injuries under California law; otherwise, it should be a misdemeanor.

The new captain of the Chino Hills police department is one of us, and a long-time member of Redland’s Citrus Valley Velo cycling club. 

Cycling legend and commentator Bob Roll takes a low-tech roll through Silicon Valley.

 

National

Trump’s tariff’s as he ramps up a trade war with China could come at the expense of the booming growth of ebikes, most of which are made in the Middle Kingdom.

A new study refutes the myth that more and wider roadways are necessary for regional economic success, showing that the cities that don’t have traffic congestion are the ones that are dying.

Bicycling takes a look at the new old Harley Davidson bicycle, which can be yours for a mere $4,200.

Popular Mechanics rates the best multi-tools, and says every kind of bike is going electric, from motor scooters to cargo bikes. Thanks to Tim Rutt for the heads-up.

An Anchorage AK bike shop suffered $75,000 in losses during a late night burglary, as thieves appear to be targeting high-end bicycles in the city.

Taking distracted driving to a new extreme, the backup driver responsible for overseeing the self-driving Uber car — and preventing the crash that took the life of Elaine Herzberg as she walked her bike across a Tempe AZ street — was watching The Voice on Hulu, instead of the road. Police had initially blamed Herzberg, calling the crash unavoidable before realizing it was anything but.

Three Utah bicyclists participating in a charity ride were seriously injured when they were run down from behind by a “drowsy” driver coming home from working a night shift; fortunately, their injuries were not life-threatening.

While the rest of the country is just discovering protected bike lanes, Boise ID had them in the ’70s, but let them fade away.

This is why you should always question police investigations following a crash. Colorado police reversed themselves after initially blaming the victim for a serious crash after they were finally able to talk to her in the hospital; she refuted the driver’s claim that she was riding her bike on the shoulder and illegally turned in front of him.

Emotions run high as 18 bike riders return home to Oklahoma after a three-week ride through seven states, retracing the steps of the Cherokee tribe during the infamous Trail of Tears.

LimeBike is threatening to walk away from Chicago’s pilot dockless bikeshare program over a clause that requires bikes to be locked to a stationary object when not in use.

A Massachusetts town celebrates its history as a bicycle factory town by giving new bikes to 19 kids.

An op-ed in the New York Times says if we want to build a sustainable future, cities and people must take priority over cars.

Sad news from Pennsylvania, where a woman was killed riding her bike home from her new job because she didn’t want to bother anyone by asking for a ride; her relatives didn’t even know she owned a bike. Naturally, police blamed her for the rear-end crash for riding in the traffic lane on a 45 mph road, rather than on the shoulder.

 

International

City Journal examines the worldwide problem of vandalism and destruction that’s causing a major retreat by bikeshare providers, docked and otherwise.

Road.cc reviews five of the best foldies, and considers 26 of the best books in bicycling. As if anyone has time to read when you could be out on your bike.

Bike Radar recaps the week’s best new bike gear.

A 29-year old Belgian man stopped in Winnipeg on a 30-month bike trip from the tundra of far northern Canada to the tip of southern Argentina.

Caught on video: A Toronto bike rider catches a crash on a bike cam when he’s hit head-on by a driver making an illegal U-turn, who drove off after giving him a fake name and phone number. Amazingly, police don’t consider it hit-and-run since he didn’t need immediate medical attention.

A commentator on a conservative website says a call for banning right turns on red lights in Toronto is based on junk science, saying that stats showing 13% of crashes occurred when drivers were turning right just means that 87% didn’t, and that drivers aren’t always at fault. By that measure, running red lights should be legal too, since it doesn’t always result in a wreck, either.

A London writer says putting signs on the back of large trucks isn’t enough to protect bike riders and pedestrians from getting killed in their drivers’ blind spots. But ads will stop deadly crashes in Los Angeles, right?

A English minister says he understands the benefits of bicycling, but may get rid of the bikes in his garage because of the dangers posed by motorists. Although he says “militant cyclists” don’t help the cause of bicycling by trying to impose their rights. Which is another way of saying people who want to legally ride their bikes without getting run off the road.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A South African driver’s mother suffered a heart attack and his father has suffered from depression after he was sentenced to ten years for killing two bike riders. Then again, if you think that’s bad, imagine the suffering of his victims’ families.

Nepal paid tribute to the country’s national cycling champion after he was killed falling into a river while competing in Sri Lanka.

Aussie police warn of an “epidemic” of headphone-wearing cyclists and pedestrians killed in traffic collisions. If you can call an average of two a year an epidemic — and if the headphones were actually what caused the crashes. After all, if headphones cause crashes, car sound systems and hermetically sealed, soundproof vehicles should, too. 

Touching story as a Japanese man flew to Taiwan to thank the man who cared for his son when he was fatally injured by falling rocks while mountain biking.

Now you can tour Vietnam and Sri Lanka by ebike.

 

Competitive Cycling

The fourth time is the charm, as SoCal’s Coryn Rivera nips Megan Guarnier to win her first US Pro national road race championship. Tennessee’s Emma White dominated the women’s U-23 races.

An Idaho man was part of an eight-person team that set a new record of just under five days, four hours in the Race Across America.

Bicycling explains how to watch the Tour de France this year. And no, streaming it live on your handlebars while you ride probably isn’t the best idea.

Seriously? Team Sky’s coach says Chris Froome’s safety is at risk after five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault calls Froome a cheat over his failed drug test.

The race of the century — or at least the next few weeks — will roll on July 1st as the grudge match between LA’s own Phil Gaimon and alleged motor doper Fabian Cancellara will charge up Switzerland’s Col du Pillon. You can cheer Gaimon on with your own cookie-themed kit.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you miss your train, and end up beating it to your destination. Even Transylvania is becoming bike friendly.

And presenting the Uniform Manual of Traffic Engineer Excuses.

 

6 comments

  1. Joe Linton says:

    fyi – the full council did approve the skid row bike lanes motion – on Friday – https://twitter.com/StreetsblogLA/status/1010223922078310400

  2. Dennis says:

    Thanks for bringing the LA situation into the spotlight. I think it is because of kind of pressure that nearby areas are improving their bicycle infrastructure, but car culture remains a problem. In San Clemente, far to the south, every street project includes major enhancements to bike lanes including shrinking lanes to allow for bigger bike lanes and buffer zones. But many drivers remain hostile to cyclists. Cyclists are using the improved lanes more than the ones they replace. My hope is that over time, as drivers get more accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road, they will treat cyclists better.

  3. DQ says:

    The woman in PA was riding in the lane at 11:30 at night on what is essentially a highway. Unfortunately, yes, she kind of does have to be held responsible for her death. Although I agree that cyclists do have the right to ride in lanes, one MUST utilize common sense at times. I often ride in lanes because I have come to find it safer but no way in hell would I ride in the lane in a situation that she found herself in.

    • bikinginla says:

      Let’s be cautious in blaming victims based on initial police reports. It’s very hard to pinpoint the exact location of a bike crash, since bikes don’t leave skid marks, and drivers often don’t brake before hitting a bike, especially if the driver is distracted. The police said it appeared she was in the traffic lane; it’s entirely possible that she was on the shoulder and the impact knocked her back into the roadway. It’s also possible that she was riding on the shoulder, and had to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid an obstruction.

      I’m more concerned by the statement that she didn’t have lights on her bike, other than the standard reflectors. The driver should have been able to see her based on the reflector alone, but no one should ever ride at night without front and rear lights.

  4. David Drexler says:

    Garcetti can’t manage a pot hole filling let alone a country. Head is bigger than a Watermelon.

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