Morning Links: LA wins best bike cities race to bottom, the beauty of bicycling, and update on SaMo bike crash

Bicycling is out with their bi-annual ranking of the best bike cities in America.

Needless to say, Los Angeles didn’t win.

Our bayside neighbor to the north is second, the same position San Francisco held last time.

My hometown slid up to third, while Seattle was a surprising choice for the top pick among America’s best bike cities after ranking fifth in 2016.

Then there’s LA.

The City of Angels, which ranked 24th on the best bike cities list last time around, didn’t come in quite so high this time.

In fact, LA didn’t make the list at all.

Then again, simply not making the list would have been an improvement for a city that was rated as the worst bike city in America.

That’s right, we’re number one on Bicycling’s list of America’s best bike cities. From the bottom.

An honor, if you want to use the term, that is well-deserved as city leaders have seriously backslid in their support for bicycling in Los Angeles.

Let alone safe streets.

This is what Peter Flax had to say on the subject, after he was asked to write the story for Bicycling.

Los Angeles should be heaven for cyclists. The weather is beyond dreamy—downtown L.A. has gotten less than four inches of rain so far this year. The city is an enormous, mostly flat grid of wide boulevards with plenty of room for smartly placed bike infrastructure. The traffic is literally the worst in the world, making it all the more reasonable to cover shorter trips by bike. The metro area boasts postcard-perfect oceanfront riding and spectacular climbing in legendary spots like the Malibu hills, Palos Verdes, and the San Gabriel Mountains. Every day, I see hundreds of people pedaling around town with smile on their faces, despite the challenges the city throws at them.

That’s the good news.

It all sounds quite lovely until you start to contemplate all of the cyclists who have been killed—and ask yourself why. In the past five years alone, more than 180 riders in the metropolitan area have been killed by people driving motor vehicles. During the last three years that national crash data has been compiled (2014-2016), only three U.S. states have seen more cyclist fatalities than just L.A. County—Florida, New York, and California as a whole.

The roads themselves are a disaster. The cruelest irony is that the city is spending money on them. But instead of investing in the quality infrastructure, millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to pay out civil lawsuits brought by severely injured cyclists or the families of killed riders. The sad truth is that in L.A., it’s more politically expedient to pay seven-figure civil damages than to fix all the crappy roads and build the infrastructure that keeps people from getting hurt or killed.

 

There’s more, sadly. A lot more.

Looking to sustain L.A.’s broken and ineffective transportation system are a cadre of well-funded organizations like Keep L.A. Moving, who are fighting any safety project that might remove a single driving lane from the urban grid. In their minds, one or two cyclist fatalities a month are acceptable collateral damage to keep a big car-centric city properly lubricated…

This angry populist rebellion resonated far beyond the borders of Playa del Rey. L.A. City Council members saw the political might wielded by angry motorists. So did Mayor Garcetti, who has aspirations for national office and wants to shy away from unpopular controversies. And since the bike lanes in Playa del Rey got ripped out, the already glacial pace of making streets safer practically came to a stop in L.A.

It’s not exactly pleasant to read.

But it’s worth your time, because Flax nails it, accurately calling out the multitude of problems we face. And the shameful lack of political support for making the changes we so desperately need.

Maybe this will serve as a wake-up call for our bad publicity-shy public leaders. Or maybe embarrass them just enough to actually do something.

At least enough to get us back onto the list. Even if we have to settle for the 50th spot, as America’s worst best bike city.

Which would be a hell of an improvement over where we are now.

Meanwhile, Long Beach did make the list, checking in at 27th, up one from their previous ranking.

Here’s the methodology Bicycling used to determine the rankings.

Thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

………

It was a busy day for Peter Flax; if the last story left you feeling down, take a few minutes to read his take on everything that’s beautiful about bicycling.

Trust me, you’ll feel better.

………

Sort of good news.

In answer to yesterday’s request for more information about a bike crash at 23rd and Navy in Santa Monica, City Manager Rick Cole responded that the victim was “severely, but not critically injured.”

Not exactly good news, but better than we had feared.

Let’s keep out fingers crossed for a full and fast recovery.

………

Speaking of bad news, I somehow missed the news that an unidentified bike rider was killed in Stanton on Monday. The driver initially fled the scene, but returned a short time later.

I’ll try to catch up with the story later today.

………

The Los Angeles Fire Department offers a video profile of LAFD’s bike-riding paramedics at LAX, who use their bicycles to respond to emergencies faster than they could by motor vehicle.

………

Local

Curbed’s Alissa Walker says the best way Angelenos can support climate action is to stop driving so much. And support improved transportation and density.

Streetsblog says California needs more bike diversion programs, after Bike SGV’s Andrew Yip helped a poor immigrant get into one when he faced a choice between a $240 fine or jail for riding on the sidewalk.

 

State

A writer for Medium says today’s hipsters have a long way to go to match San Francisco’s mustachioed high wheeled cycling fanatics of the 1890s.

 

National

The good news is bicycling fatalities in the US declined 8.1% last year. The bad news is they’re still too damn high, with an average of over two deaths a day, every day.

Lucky us. A new study shows, on average, every 13th driver that passes you on your bike is driving distracted.

Forbes says shared mobility data offers an opportunity to reshape cities.

Cycling Industry News refutes ten bike fit myths. I can personally testify to #4; bicycling is the only thing that held my balky right knee together as long as it did. Even now that I’ll need to get it replaced in the coming weeks, I can still ride with minimal pain, which is more than I can say about walking. Or sitting.

Speaking of that best bike cities list, Portland received its worst ranking ever, coming in at number five. Which is still 19 spots higher than LA ever has.

A Grand Junction CO newspaper urges donations to a Colorado high school marching band that was stiffed by an annual bike tour. If you’ve got a few extra buck lying around, there are worse things you could do with it.

A Chicago bike rider and a pedestrian were injured when a teenage boy hopped behind the wheel of an unlocked car and speed off, crashing into several parked cars in the process.

Caught on video: A Chicago bike rider complains about private parks security racing down a multi-use path in an SUV to chase riders around tight corners — especially when the ones being chased can simply turn around to get away.

A Massachusetts city has removed their requirement for bicyclists to hug the curb, allowing bike riders full use of the lane, like other city’s in the state.

A long list of drivers are still allowed in New York’s Central Park, months after they were supposedly banished.

 

International

Cities around the world are facing the question of how to adapt to an aging population, and what an age-friendly city would look like — including safer streets, improved transit and making bicycling accessible to older people.

A new foam liner from Vittoria and Tannus promises to replace your tubes and make your tires puncture proof.

A “secret” cyclocross fondo through the British Columbia countryside is gaining in popularity, despite being unannounced and not having any maps.

Putting the “mounted” back in Mounted Police, Canada’s famed Mounties are learning that patrolling by bicycle helps officers improve community relations and stop street crime.

An annual London charity ride takes you up to 90 miles from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust. The perfect royal ride for the Anglophile in your life.

File this under you’ve got to be kidding. Just riding a bicycle through a chain of outdoor malls in the UK could result in prison time, thanks to a recent court ruling.

Understanding your Emotional Quotient can improve your performance on your bike, according to a British lecturer.

CityLab says Paris could be a model for how cities can combat climate change, as the city works to reduce motor vehicle use.

Dutch phrases you need to know to ride a bike in the Netherlands.

No bias here. A Reuters story says Africa is locked in traffic as the “poor man’s transport,” aka the bicycle, is ignored. Which feeds into the narrative that people only ride bikes because they can’t afford to drive, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Competitive Cycling

Nebraska resident and new US cycling team member Ashton Lambie has gone from riding Kansas backroads to setting a world record in the 4,000-meter individual pursuit.

French cyclist Sylvain Chavanel reveals what he learned in 19 years in the pro peloton.

 

Finally…

Who needs an SUV when you can have a Sports Utility (e)Bike? That feeling when the city steals your bike to replace the rack.

And keep an eye on Craigslist; someone stole Geraint Thomas’ Tour de France trophy.

5 comments

  1. Ronald Hidinger says:

    Saw the item about your pending knee replacement. Although I’m sure you got lots of advice worth every penny you paid for it, I’ll add mine anyway. Do the work. That first month in rehab is very important for long term success. Take the pain killers, otherwise you will slack. My qualifications? After a lifetime of basketball and other pavement pounding recreational activities I could not walk up the stairs to my bedroom. I finally pulled the string when I couldn’t ride my bike. Now back on the bike nearly everyday for over ten years. My only regret is I didn’t get the second one done sooner.
    Good luck.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks for the advice. I’m not worried about doing the work, but good advice about the pain killers. I usually avoid those as much as possible. And glad your’s went well and got you back on your bike!

  2. Nick says:

    Reading Peter’s article, I never realized that the LACBC can’t advocate politicians due to it’s tax status. I’m involved with the West LA part of LACBC and wonder if my efforts should be focused on another group. Is that something that is a problem in other cities, and if so what lessons can we learn from advocates elsewhere?

    It really feels like we need to do a better job of building our political power in LA. Although it can be hard as our city council members cover populations as large as other major cities.

    • bikinginla says:

      Actually, I’d say your best effort would be to push the LACBC to form a 501(c)4, which would allow them to engage in political activity, like Bike SD and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. There’s been talk about it at the LACBC for years, but they haven’t done anything about it. I know there’s been talk of forming other political groups or PACs to represent LA bicyclists, but nothing’s come to fruition yet. We really need one.

  3. Thank you for the information

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