Archive for Anti-bike bias

City Council PLUM committee punts on My Figueroa; major sub-human scum steal an autistic girl’s e-bike

Four years ago Bill Rosendahl fought for bike riders; will anyone step up now?

Four years ago Bill Rosendahl fought for bike riders; will anyone step up now?

Four years ago, former Councilmember Bill Rosendahl famously declared the era of LA car culture was over.

Yesterday’s meeting of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee head-scratchingly yawned otherwise, as a car dealer and seemingly confused councilmember teamed to throw a monkey wrench into plans for cycle tracks on South Figueroa.

The long-planned and bid-ready My Figueroa has been delayed, perhaps fatally, by the owner of the Felix Chevrolet group of car dealerships, who inexplicably claims to support the project while simultaneously threatening to sue to stop it.

And by Councilmember Curren Price, who has previously proclaimed his support for bicycling, as well as the Figueroa cycle tracks, but now wants further study of a project that has already been studied to death, and consideration of options that have already been rejected for good reason.

And let’s not forget a little bike hate from Hollywood thrown in for good measure, which wants to keep parking their trucks on the street instead of paying for parking like every other Angeleno. Evidently, they’re not satisfied with merely watering down our formerly effective Spring Street green bike lanes, and won’t stop until they’ve turned the entire city into their exclusive back lot.

As Damien Newtown put it on Streetsblog, the project needs a hero.

Unfortunately, Rosendahl has retired. And no one, as yet, has stepped up to claim his mantle in fighting for the rights and safety of LA cyclists on the city council.

The vacuum that exists at the top of the LADOT flowchart means no one there will take on the fight, as the mayor continues to drag his feet on appointing a permanent leader for the department, and prime candidates like New York’s Janette Sadik Khan and Chicago’s Gabe Klein move on to less problematic pastures.

Meanwhile, the mayor himself has yet to publicly take a stand in support of bicycling, other than to sign on to the city’s application to the Green Lane Project — which could be jeopardized by the turmoil over My Figueroa.

That follows other city leaders washing their hands of cyclists, as Westside Councilmember Paul Koretz killed planned bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, and self-proclaimed bike-friendly Councilmember Tom LaBonge has single-handedly stopped major bike projects on 4th Street and Lankershim Blvd, while supporting a killer redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge complex.

Meanwhile, newly elected Councilmember Gil Cedillo has inexplicably halted all progress on shovel-ready bike lanes on North Figueroa that he previously supported, apparently in a fit of pique directed at his predecessor.

The only action taken by the committee on Tuesday was to ask city staff to study the issues they’ve already studied, using money that has already been spent.

And to report back in 30 days to explain why they recommend what they’ve already recommended.

Maybe it will be enough political Kabuki theater to suggest to opponents that the council members really did consider their objections before going forward with what they should have gone forward with anyway.

Or maybe Koretz, LaBonge and Cedillo will step up and battle for bike lanes, as long as they’re not in their own districts.

And maybe that bacon I had earlier in the week will reconstitute into its original porcine form and aviate out of my ass.

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In a major display of sub-human greed, a pair of lowlife schmucks have stolen a custom-made tandem e-bike from a severely autistic 12-year old girl.

The bike has a raised seat back and seatbelt that allows the girl, a double transplant recipient, to ride a bike, which would otherwise be impossible for her. And which render the bike pretty much useless for anyone else.

It was stolen November 30th at 2:32 am from a home in the 4200 block of Marina City Drive in Marina del Rey. Surveillance video shows two men — if you can call them that — carrying the bike over a locked gate at the Marina City Club condo complex.

Chances are, after two months, the bike — which was donated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation — has long been stripped and sold as parts. But the jerks who stole it are still around somewhere, and need to be taken off the streets.

For a very long time.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Sheriff’s Detective Keysha Gipson at the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station, 310-482-6022.

Thanks to Cynthia Rose for the heads-up.

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The LA Weekly begs to differ with the LA Times Op-Ed about the living hell Santa Monica has become. Because of, you know, bikes.

Evidently, all those cars streaming in and out of the city have no effect on traffic. Or livability, for that matter.

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Britain’s advertising authority bans a Scottish bike safety commercial because 1) it features a cyclist riding without a helmet, and 2) the rider doesn’t cling dangerously to the gutter in an attempt to ride as far right as possible.

The Guardian rightly asks, are they daft?

Note: As Nik points out, that should be “ride as far left as possible.”

Update: In the face of massive blowback, the ruling on road positioning has been suspended; the ruling on helmet use appears to remain in force, even though helmets are not required in the UK.

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Finally, Bangkok closes key intersections to become the Copenhagen of the east, even if bikes can hide bombs; thanks to Vanessa Gray for the link.

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Thanks to Erik Griswold for his generous donation to help support this site; contributions of any amount are deeply appreciated.

Lots of news — SaMo Blvd bike lanes, CicLAvia 2014, misguided SaMo Op-Ed piece, possible Olin charges

Sold out auditorium for the recent Southern California Cycling Summit; see below.

Sold out auditorium for the recent Southern California Cycling Summit; see below.

Let’s catch up on some of the recent news.

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First up, Westside riders owe a big thanks to Mark Elliott of Better Bike.

Elliot has led the fight — almost single-handedly at times — to improve safety and ridability in the traditionally bike-unfriendly Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

A comparison to a lone salmon swimming upstream would be putting it mildly; the mythical Sisyphus would be more apt.

Yet somehow Elliot persevered, resulting in a 1-year “pilot program” to install bike lanes on Burton Way, and bike lanes and sharrows on North Crescent Drive. While I’ve never had cause to ride Crescent, the Burton Way bike lanes have become my favored eastbound route out of the city — when I’m willing to risk my life riding through Downtown Beverly Hills to get there.

For the past year or more, Elliot has led the fight to include bike lanes on a reconstructed Santa Monica Blvd when it goes under the knife in 2015, providing a vital missing link between existing lanes in West Hollywood and Century City.

Despite overwhelming odds and the opposition of the city’s paid consultant and members of the Blue-Ribbon Committee established to study the issue, his efforts have once again carried the day, winning approval by a 9-2 vote of the committee.

Then again, the fight isn’t over yet.

The committee’s recommendation now goes to the Beverly Hills City Council for approval next month, on a date to be determined. Hopefully, we’ll get enough advance notice of the meeting to show up and voice our support.

But for the first time, it looks like we might actually get a near-continuous Santa Monica bike lane stretching from the 405 in West LA to east of La Cienga in WeHo. And we have him to thank for it.

Of course, there still are problems to be solved.

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Next up is the newly announced CicLAvia schedule for 2014.

This year offers three of the exceptionally popular Open Streets events, minus last year’s overly crowded CicLAvia to the Sea and the long-rumored San Fernando Valley CicLAvia. Both are promised for next year, though the former may see a reconfigured route to overcome some of the problems that resulted in near-impassible blocks of bike-congestion on Venice Blvd.

Yet even with just three events on the calendar, it looks like a strong line-up.

The Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route returns on Sunday, April 6th, once again following LA’s main street from Downtown to the Miracle Mile — although Mark Elliot has hinted that Beverly Hills might like to get in on the action. The route visits some of the city’s finest architecture and historical sites, as called out in this guide from the Militant Angeleno.

CicLAvia takes the summer off — perhaps because that Valley route fell through? — before returning with a reconfigured Heart of LA route through the Downtown area on October 5th. This year’s route extends from Echo Park to East LA, as well as traveling the length of Broadway from 9th to Chinatown, with a stop at the relatively new Grand Park.

Finally, the first holiday season CicLAvia will take place on December 7th, with its first full foray into South LA. The route will range from Leimert Park, the cultural center of the Southside, to Central Avenue, the birthplace of West Coast Jazz and home of the legendary Dunbar Hotel. Can’t wait to read the Militant’s guide to this one.

Of course, the question is, does any of this really matter?

And the answer is, of course it does. In ways that many of us, myself included, may not have realized.

LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has written what may be the best and most insightful analysis of what CicLAvia is and can be. And the role it plays in transforming our city for the better.

It’s a must read.

Just don’t read the comments.

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On the opposite side of the coin, there’s this misguided Times opinion piece from a long-time resident of Santa Monica, who blames bikes and urban planning for all the traffic problems in the city.

In it, he laments the young urbanites who have invaded his city, while simultaneously proclaiming that the majority of the city’s 92,000 residents can’t ride bikes and live too far to walk to the city’s newly hip urban core.

So wait.

Despite the influx of moneyed young people, most city residents are too out of shape — or maybe just too lazy — to get on a bicycle? They can’t be too old, given the number of riders I know in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who somehow manage to ride on a regular basis.

And if no one can ride, where do all those casual bike riders come from?

As someone who used to work in the city over decade ago, I can testify that Santa Monica’s traffic problems existed years before more than a handful of bike lanes appeared on the street. It frequently took me over an hour to drive the 6.5 miles from my beachside office to my apartment just 6.5 miles to the east — and not because of any bikes on the streets.

And don’t even get me started on virtually impassible Lincoln Blvd, which has long been avoided by bicyclists — despite being a designated bike route — because of the heavy automotive traffic.

Then he complains about bicyclists who position themselves in traffic — “because they can!” — moments after complaining about the bike lanes that move riders safely out of the way.

For someone who claims to have lived in Santa Monica for nearly three decades, he doesn’t seem to understand the city very well.

Or urban planning, for that matter.

Or bicycling, at all.

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The investigation into the December 8th death of cyclist, entertainment lawyer and former Napster exec Milt Olin is nearly complete. According to the LA Times, the case will be presented to the District Attorney to determine whether charges will be filed.

The Daily News reports the Sheriff’s Deputy who killed Olin when his patrol car somehow drifted into the bike lane on Mulholland Hwy could face a charge of vehicular manslaughter, or possibly even felony manslaughter.

“Could” being the key word.

It’s also possible, if not probable, that the DA will decline to file charges based on the evidence presented by the Sheriff’s investigators. And no word on whether charges will be filed against the department if it’s found that the deputy was following policy by using the onboard computer in his patrol car while driving, as some have suggested.

And while the department has gone out of its way to stress the independence of the investigation and deny any special treatment, they have guaranteed that the results will be second guessed — no matter what they conclude — by investigating a death involving their own deputy, rather than turning it over to an outside agency such as the CHP.

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The Metro Board approved a motion calling on the transit agency to look into a countywide bike share program (Item 58).

While there’s no guarantee such a program will actually be approved, it could provide deep pockets to back the system, while avoiding the Balkanization caused by competing and possibly incompatible programs in various cities.

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(L-R) Anthony Reguero, President PTE Events, Chris Carmichael, author Time-Crunched Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, President Bahati Foundation and Michael Bell, Oakley.

(L-R) Anthony Reguero, President PTE Events, Chris Carmichael, author Time-Crunched Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, President Bahati Foundation and Michael Bell, Oakley.

I received a press release this past weekend from the Bahati Foundation about the SoCal Cycling Summit 2014, held at Oakley Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA.

Unfortunately, I found out about it long after the January 14th event was over.

I say unfortunately because I’m a big fan of the efforts of the foundation, founded by former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati, to bring the joy of bicycling to inner city youths.

And because I would have enjoyed hearing from famed cycling coach Chris Carmichael, author of The Time-Crunched Cyclist.

Summit attendees representing a diversified audience that ran the gamut– Olympic medalists, serious weekend enthusiasts as well as international competitors, filled the 400-seat amphitheater to hear Carmichael discuss his revolutionary time-crunched cyclist technique. “The SoCal Cycling Summit is a wonderful platform for our foundation to share its vision in providing assistance to inner-city youth through cycling,” said Rahsaan Bahati, founder Bahati Foundation.

“Athletes want to stay engaged in the sports they love, but it can be a difficult balance for working parents and career professionals. The time-crunched athlete program is a new approach to endurance training, one that actually takes advantage of a busy athlete’s limited training time. It’s been successful for tens of thousands of athletes, and I look forward to sharing the program with everyone at the SoCal Cycling Summit,” stated Carmichael.

Maybe next year.

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Things aren’t looking good for long-planned bike lanes on North Figueroa Blvd, which had been approved and ready to implement until new City Councilmember Gil Cedillo appeared to throw a wrench in the works — despite his previous support for the plan.

As a result, the LACBC is calling on bike riders to contact the councilmember to express their support for the lanes, especially if you live or work in the area.

Since the candidate forum we sponsored in 2013, we have seen bike lanes installed on Colorado and the Eagle Rock bike lanes extended to Colorado.  All that is left to complete the backbone network in Northeast LA is N. Figueroa.

The residents of Northeast LA are scratching their heads thinking why haven’t they been installed yet?  After all, they were packaged for last year’s projects alongside Colorado/Eagle Rock.  This is a good opportunity to raise the question and urge Councilman Cedillo to keep his promise and install bike lanes on this very important corridor. Please join us TODAY for a day of action urging Councilmember Cedillo to add bike lanes on N. Figueroa between York and San Fernando!

Call Cedillo’s office and share your thoughts.  Dial his downtown office (213) 473-7001 and let his staffer know why you think bike lanes on N. Figueroa are good for everyone.  Then, email alek@la-bike.org and let me know how it went.  Remember to stay positive!

You can find a sample script here.

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Finally, the CEO of Ford gets it. Even if certain residents of Santa Monica don’t.

 

Honor the memory of a fallen cyclist, a Santa Barbara bike smackdown, and enough links to last a weekend

Lots of news to share today, so let’s get right to it.

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John Rapley; photo from The Age

James Rapley; photo from The Age

Friends and family of fallen Australian cyclist James Rapley call for your help to honor his memory.

As you may recall, Rapley was killed by an alleged drunk and possibly distracted driver while riding in the bike lane on Temescal Canyon during an extended layover at LAX just before Christmas.

We have had a lot of people ask how they can help and if they can send flowers. Karen and his family believe that donating to a charity would help honour James memory in a more lasting way and we would like to direct you to the below everyday hero site for how you can help via a number of avenues including:

1) donating to the Amy Gillett Cycling Foundation

2) participating in a Hello Sunday Mornings challenge

3) please share these links with your friends and family and spread this important message. Remember to share the roads and to never let yourself or others drink and drive. If you can’t afford a taxi, you can’t afford to drink.

Thank you all for your support. James was very loved and will be forever missed.

They also explain the  purpose of the HSM challenge.

We are hoping to encourage 100 people to sign up for a Hello Sunday Morning’s 3 month challenge to abstain from alcohol and create a ripple affect to change Australia’s drinking culture and hopefully save a life. Each HSMer’s story has a positive impact on the drinking culture of 10 people around them. If 1,000 people stop their friends from getting behind a wheel drunk or not binge drinking we can help James make a difference and hopefully spare another family this incredible tragedy.

One last note.

James Rapley was laid to rest Thursday in Hadfield, Victoria, Australia.

If not for a drunken LA driver shattering the quiet of a Sunday morning, he’d be back at work at Groupon in Chicago. And all this would have been a bad dream.

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Yesterday, a Santa Barbara writer offered some reasonable bike safety advice. After a hate-filled, auto-centric introduction in which she collectively blamed all cyclists for the actions of a few, that is.

Or possibly, just two.

Although she never bothered to explain how her coffee ended up in lap when she slammed on the brakes to avoid one; it’s not like someone so safety conscious would have been holding it while she drove. Right?

I was debating how to respond to her piece, when I found myself reading an insightful, brilliantly constructed take down that made any response from superfluous. I wasn’t surprised when the writer mentioned he was a lawyer; yet somehow, I missed his name until I got to the end.

I should have known.

Thanks to Charles Hudak for the heads-up.

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This should put the value of our lives in perspective.

A South Carolina man who killed a police dog in a shootout gets 35 years, while an Iowa woman is fined a whopping $500 for killing a cyclist after claiming she thought she hit a deer.

Of course, a rational person might have stopped to see what she hit. Then again, a rational law enforcement agency — or judge — might have questioned such a convenient excuse.

Thanks to Michael McVerry for the link.

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If you haven’t seen it yet, this New Zealand traffic safety spot is a must watch. Even though studies show traffic safety ads don’t work.

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An LA rider lives out his biggest bike commuting fear in colliding with a stop sign-running rider; thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up. Federal anti-poverty funds could be used to build bike lanes in some of LA’s least advantaged neighborhoods. LA’s 2020 Commission concludes the city is going to hell in a hand basket. We’re just over the halfway point to completing the full 51-mile LA River bike path, with 25 miles to go. Breaking Away, the movie that got me back into bicycling, will screen as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition at Laemmle’s NoHo7 on Wednesday, February 12th. Experience South LA’s iconic Central Avenue by bike this Sunday. New film looks at the Eastside Riders Bike Club. SaMo police bust a homeless man for stealing a bait bike. Great pair of letters in response to an anti-bike screed in the Santa Monica Daily Press, one from a bike rider and one from a non-rider who gets it. CICLE’s Arroyo Seco tweed ride rolls this Saturday. A San Gabriel walker correctly notes we should give pedestrians three feet passing distance, too. Boyonabike resolves to be a pain in the ass for safer cycling in the SGV this year. CLR Effect is selling a classic Bottecchia I would kill for if I was just a touch more psychotic. After a friend barely survives broadsiding a U-turning car on Via del Monte in Palos Verdes Estates, Cycling in the South Bay barely avoids the same fate; I thought I recognized that deadly street.

Nine top international pro teams will take part in this year’s Amgen Tour of California. The Huntington Beach Independent looks at the local cost of distracted driving. The Bike League’s Stephen Clark talks about what it takes to be a Bike Friendly Community in Huntington Beach next Wednesday. Advocacy group BikeSD endorses David Alvarez for mayor of San Diego. Cannondale Pro Cycling unveils its 2014 team; Thousand Oaks is not LA, though. A Santa Cruz writer says “Share the Road” has failed to protect local cyclists. Palo Alto cop is faulted for using his Taser on a 16-year old cyclist, but it’s okay to knock him off his bike with a patrol car; anything that could cause a rider to fall from his bike should be considered deadly force. After a 90-year old Menlo Park driver jumps the curb and hits two small kids, his lawyer accuses them of recklessness for walking on the sidewalk. SF Gate looks at May’s Climate Ride; I’ve heard nothing but good things from those who rode it last year. A salmon cyclist is expected to survive a head-on collision with tow truck in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. San Francisco supervisors call for a crackdown on dangerous drivers; will LA’s city council ever have the courage to demand that motorists stop killing Angelenos? Is spray painting “road kill” in a Napa bike lane a hate crime; seriously, do you really have to ask?

Powerful story from a legally blind bike rider who fought the law, and won. Agenda announced for this year’s National Bike Summit in March. Legal commentary calls for tougher rules for bike and ski helmets, while the incomparable Elly Blue offers five things more worth arguing about than bike helmets — and nails it. Riding a bike in your teens could help prevent a heart attack later in life. Maybe it is a minor miracle, as Portland residents demand that parking be removed to improve bike access. A Spokane website offers a comprehensive list of women’s bike blogs. Gay marriage is off for now in Utah, but mayors biking to work is on. Does the world really need a smarter bike bell? Talk about a good cause — a Boulder CO event raises funds for the Amy D Foundation, dedicated to introducing young girls to cycling in honor of fallen pro cyclocross rider Amy Dombroski. Turns out auto traffic really does drop on bike to work day, at least in Boulder. Nebraska cyclists protest plans to ban them from a key bridge. A South Dakota driver gets a plea deal on road rage charges, though security camera footage may raise issues. Robbers pistol whip, then shoot a Pasadena cyclist; no, the other Pasadena. Zip-off pant extensions could help you arrive at work in style. Biking is up in Boston, though 70% of riders are men; helmet use is a surprising 76%. A Boston writer looks at the recent death of fallen cyclist Pam Leven, and questions whether it, or any other collision between cyclists, is really an accident. Students at Northeastern University develop a smart bike with built-in collision warning system; is anyone old enough to get a “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!” reference? November was the deadliest month for NYC cyclists and pedestrians in nearly two years. New York cyclists get bike repair vending machines. Florida legislature could remove incentive for drunk drivers to flee collisions; that’s just the first step we need to take here.

UCI appoints its panel to examine doping in pro cycling, and Lance promises to play nice. Experts debate whether bike helmets should remain mandatory in British Columbia. Oxford cyclist drowns on flooded pathway near where a teenage cyclist drowned in 2007; never try to ride through water if you can’t tell how deep it is. Panicked Lancashire publication says speeding poser cyclists on Strava risk road death. Irish authorities urge humans to wear hi-viz rather than ask motorists to actually pay attention. Hamburg plans to eliminate the need for cars within 20 years. Aussie driver harasses a cyclist, who turns out to be the state police commissioner. Freak mini-tornado blows rider off bike in Australian time trial. Brisbane closes a toxic bikeway for asbestos removal. Kiwi cyclists fear more deaths unless a new pathway bypasses known danger zones. New Zealand writer says bike safety should be a political issue; he’s right. A rider takes a record-setting tour of the South Pole.

Finally, a Canadian driver cuts out the middleman, and crashes into bikes before they ever leave the shop. LA now has the world’s first Burrito Vending Machine — and naturally, a bike lane leading right to it. And Another Perfect Day finds a road sign anticipating lonely cyclists.

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The more things don’t change, the more they remain the same; LA driver confesses to threatening cyclists

Here's a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog than the people I hired to do it.

Here’s a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog to a private server than the people I hired to do it.

So much for that.

As we left off last week, I promised this blog would be transferred to a private server over the holiday weekend, as the first phase of long-gestating plan to remake it into an advertising-supported website.

Long gestating, indeed. Many species have their babies in a lot less time than this process, which started in August, has taken.

But as you’ll see, either the transfer was done so perfectly that nothing has changed, or nothing has changed.

Smart money is on the latter.

Over the weekend I received an email from the web-hosting service I’d hired to do the transfer that they too lacked the capability to move it to their servers. This, despite sworn assurances from their sales staff that they’d done it many times before, and would have me up and running in a matter of days.

Turns out they hadn’t. And wouldn’t.

But at least I got my money back.

So the transfer is on hold for now. Hopefully, it will get done later this week, by another company that doesn’t have its head so far up it’s own ass knows what it’s doing and is a little more honest about its own abilities.

I’ll let you know more when I do.

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It’s not everyday someone confesses to assault with a deadly weapon on National Public Radio.

But that’s exactly what self-proclaimed life-long LA driver Jackie Burke did in an otherwise positive piece about LA Bike Trains.

The story focused on the founding of the program by New York transplant Nona Varnado, who has become a leader in the local bicycling scene in the short time she’s been here — though I do miss her incredible design work for women cyclists. Along with the success the program has had in helping beginning bike commuters take to the roads.

Not that everyone welcomes new riders to the roads.

Like the aforementioned Ms. Burke, for instance.

“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

Let’s start with the fact that neither Burke, nor anyone else, has a right to the roadway, let alone a right to drive unimpeded. And as Niall Huffman points out, bikes aren’t hard to pass — as long as you’re not the kind of sociopath who’s willing to intentionally threaten another human being for the crime of slightly inconveniencing your commute.

Because that’s exactly what Burke has admitted doing.

By her own account, she used her vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to intimidate another person using the roadway in a legal manner. She could, and perhaps should, be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Except that she would undoubtedly deny her own words, which is currently the only evidence against her.

In order for charges to stick, her victim or an independent witness would have to come forward who could testify that Burke threatened the rider with her car, and could place her — or at least her vehicle — at the scene of the crime.

Because a crime is exactly what it was.

Her words also place her in violation of LA’s groundbreaking cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows a cyclist to file a civil suit against deliberately threatening drivers. But again, that would require Burke’s victim(s) to come forward, and be able to identify her as the attacker.

Not likely, given the challenge of taking down a license number as a rider struggles not to get run off the road. Let alone over.

Which means, despite her very public confession on national radio, she’s likely going to get away with it. Just like all the other otherwise decent people who somehow turn into blood-thirsty, road-raging sociopaths once they get behind the wheel.

Although the DMV should seriously look into permanently pulling her license. Or at least until she can learn to drive without threatening the lives and safety of complete strangers who have the misfortune of sharing the road with her.

Perhaps more frightening, though, is that Alex Schmidt, the reporter on the piece, didn’t even bother to challenge her comments.

Because attitudes and actions like hers are far too common. And far too accepted in our society.

And if that doesn’t scare the crap out of every American, it should.

Fight for Westwood bike lanes at LA City Council Tuesday; Times writer tells motorists to get a grip

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has issued an action alert calling for bike riders to attend tomorrow’s city council session to protest the cancellation of planned bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard.

Please join us for a day of action tomorrow to urge Councilmember Koretz to keep his promise to study bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. He told us that we would be able to share our thoughts at a public forum, which he then canceled. So, we want to make sure he hears that you support bike lanes on Westwood.

You can show your support in two ways:

1) Join us at City Council at 10 AM tomorrow when we give public comment. You will have two minutes to make your case for bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. Let us know you’re coming: email alek@la-bike.org with your name and address and we’ll fill out a public comment card for you.

Council Chambers (10 AM on Tuesday)
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

2) Can’t make it downtown? Call Koretz’s office and share your thoughts. Dial (310) 289-0353 (field office) or (213) 473-7005 (downtown office). Then, email alek@la-bike.org to let us know how it went.

Sample script:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a (resident of CD5, student at UCLA, etc.) and I’m calling to urge Councilmember Koretz to complete the study of the Westwood Boulevard bike lanes and have a transparent public process, like he promised. Bike lanes on Westwood are important to me because…”

What’s your reason for supporting bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard? Consider these when making comments either at City Council or on the phone:

Safety – A report by Neighborhood Bike Ambassador and Westside South of Santa Monica (WSSM) resident Calla Weimer shows a history of collisions along Westwood in just the six blocks from Santa Monica Blvd to Pico. Westwood Blvd is among the most-traveled streets for bicyclists on the Westside that does not have bike lanes.

Lack of good alternatives – There’s been a lot of talk about alternatives, but when you map them out, they are hillier, indirect, have stop signs nearly every block, or lack ways to cross major boulevards. All of these factors make Westwood Blvd the preferred route for bicyclists.

Bikes are good for business – Study after study shows that bicyclists are a boon for local business. Bicyclists can stop on a whim, park easily, and shop more frequently that those arriving by other means. Routing bike traffic on side streets between major employment and transit hubs is a missed opportunity for small businesses.

Sustainability – Just days after opposing the Westwood bike lanes, Councilmember Koretz attended the launch of the UCLA Grand Challenge, calling for Los Angeles to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Transportation is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles, and research clearly demonstrates that alternatives to driving must be convenient for people to use them.

Access to the Expo Line – The Westwood station on the Expo Line will not have public parking, making it all the more important that it is accessible by bike. Over 90% of Metro customers access transit without a car. Metro is currently analyzing corridors for potential station access improvements and bikeshare opportunities, but Westwood will miss out if the bike lanes do not go through.

I can’t make it, since I’ll be sitting in for Damien Newton as guest editor of LA Streetsblog in the morning.

But I urge you to attend, or call or email CM Kortetz’ office if you can’t. Because a decision that gives a greater value to the convenience of a few homeowners over the safety of cyclists should not be allowed to stand.

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This is the editorial I’ve been waiting for, as a writer for the Times tells motorists who claim cyclists have it coming to get a grip.

Bravo.

So what is it that drives otherwise rational people to fits of apoplexy when the subject of cycling comes up?

Yes, some cyclists break the rules. Dangerously, at times.

But sit by any major street, and it only takes moments to observe an unending stream of stupid driver tricks. And has been pointed out many times before, even the most reckless cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Dangerous drivers kill; dangerous cyclists and pedestrians get killed.

The risk is by no means equivalent.

And only a truly sick SOB would ever take pleasure or find justification in the needless death of another human being.

So get a grip. And get over it already.

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Vancouver Cycle Chic writer Chris Bruntlett interviews me and other LA bikevocates in a photo essay on the state of bicycling in Los Angeles; a nice piece from a nice guy.

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4314920.web.templateCycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson rides to remember a fallen cyclist he didn’t know and writes about it movingly.

Speaking of Seth, word is he has a book coming out this week, with a signing this Thursday at 7 pm at Pages: A Book Store, 904 Manhattan Ave in Manhattan Beach — including wine from Victoria Hill Vineyards and beer from Strand Brewing. That alone would make it worth the trip to the South Bay.

Seth is one of my favorite bike writers, veering from wildly inappropriate to outrageously funny to deeply moving. Sometimes in the same post.

Something tells me his book will be on the can’t miss gift list for a lot of bike riders this year. Including mine.

Maybe a copy will find its way into my stocking.

And yes, that’s a hint. But someone please tell my wife, since she doesn’t read my blog.

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Don’t miss the LACBC Open House on December 5th; and yes, I’ll be there. How to protect your bike from theft while riding Metro; this is what can happen if you don’t. Pardon me boy, is that the Westwood Blvd choo choo tracks? Take a bike train to the LA Gran Prix on Saturday, and watch the first ever Wolfpacktrack Invitational. Better Bike recaps a recent tour of soon-to-be-made-over Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, with possible plans for bike lanes. A bike rider in Santa Monica gets hit by a car, assaults the driver, jumps up and down on the roof, and gets arrested; not that he overreacted or anything. New protected bike lanes in the San Gabriel Valley. Cyclists helping others with the SC Velo and Incycle Thanksgiving food drive. CLR Effect offers incredible photos from the El Dorado Park Cyclocross; hey Michael, ever think about putting a bike calendar together?

Six highlights from the recent California Bike Summit. Orange County riders turn out to remember fallen cyclist Paul Lin. Too bad this one is buried behind the paywall, as the OC Register’s Dan Whiting says it’s worth two seconds to save a cyclist’s life; I may disagree with Dan from time to time, but no one ever said his heart isn’t in the right place. An OC driver is sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing a cheerleader while drunk, thus proving the lives of cheerleaders are more valuable than cyclists; thanks to George Cook for the link. San Diego cyclists complain about trash cans in the bike lane. A memorial ride was held Saturday for popular San Diego cyclist Udo Heinz, who was killed by a bus on Camp Pendleton last August. Santa Barbara paramedics pitch in to buy a special needs man a new bike less than an hour after his was stolen. Some Santa Cruz cyclists protest the groundbreaking for a new bike path. A 72-year old cyclist suffers major injuries in a Cayucos collision. More evidence that police officers don’t always understand the laws they enforce. Two teens injured in Stockton bike-by shooting; thanks to Cyclelicious for the heads-up. San Francisco police are accused of beating a bike rider for riding on the sidewalk, then beating people who tried to come to his aid; turns out he was only packing a cupcake.

Lactic acid is your friend; no, really, that’s what they say. Floyd Landis goes to war against Lance Armstrong; speaking of Lance, he says former UCI president Verbruggen was in on the cover-up. Well, duh. A ghost bike goes up in my hometown. A Wisconsin bike evangelist wants you to get ‘bent. The NYPD cracks down on bicyclists for riding on a bike path. Riding with Wall Street MAMILS on $20,000 bikes.

In a virtual repeat of the Santa Barbara story, a stranger buys a new bike for an autistic Canadian boy after his is stolen. Is London Mayor Boris pushing too fast to make the city bike friendly, or not fast enough? Following a rash of bicycling deaths in London, police wisely choose to crack down on the victims, rather than the big ass trucks that are killing them. London gang members are barred from riding bikes to prevent them from committing crimes or fleeing police; yeah, they couldn’t possibly just take the Tube or run away or anything. Eight reasons to be grateful to cyclists. A UK driver didn’t see the young bike rider he killed because he was safely checking his rearview mirror; oh, well okay, then. UK police confiscate a $273,000 McLaren supercar after the uninsured driver hits a cyclist; seriously, you drive a quarter-of-a-million dollar car and can’t carry a little insurance? An 18-year old Irish rider pleads guilty to the new charge of drunk cycling; just one of an average five Irish cyclists who appear in court each week. A Spanish cyclist is fined the equivalent of $135 for eating a croissant while riding. Bicycling should be encouraged in India so youths learn to maintain balance in their lives. Can someone please explain what a Kiwi bike rider who was seriously injured after riding into a parked car five years ago has to do with a call to wear hi-viz to improve visibility?

Finally, a cyclist does the right thing by giving up bicycling to take up driving; no really, you should read this one. Unlike the Chinese driver who did the wrong thing, promising to take the cyclist he hit to the hospital before dumping him on the side of the road.

And if this wasn’t enough to satisfy your bike link lust, the world’s biggest and best bike link compendium is just a click away.

Anti-bike hatred rears it’s ugly head once again, wrapped in seeming rationality

There’s been another rash of bike hate in the media recently.

As well as a story a lot of cyclists loved. With a few notable exceptions.

In that particular case, a San Francisco rider writes an OpEd piece for the New York Times, saying it shouldn’t be okay to kill cyclists and walk away without charges. Even though that’s what usually happens.

His message clearly struck chord with bike riders, as links to the story flew across the weekend blogosphere and Twitterverse. Even the LA Times used it as a platform to ask why the driver usually gets the benefit of the doubt when a cyclist is killed.

Why indeed.

As both writers point out, and too many of us have learned the hard way, justice can be a hard thing to find when there’s a bike involved.

Meanwhile, another writer used the story to object that the driver who killed Paul Lin in Newport Beach last week hasn’t been charged. Although what I’m hearing suggests that the driver may not have been entirely at fault this time. (Update: other sources indicate Lin was at the end of a group of riders making a left turn, and may have still been in the intersection when the light changed, and that the driver may not have slowed in anticipation of the light changing.)

Not everyone approved, however.

The Economist calls it Onion-like before going on to compare the way the US handles such cases with how they’re handled in The Netherlands. Not favorably, I might add.

And Bike Snob declares his hatred for the piece. Especially the coda that calls for cyclists to be on our best behavior so we’ll earn the respect of police and motorists.

He’s got a point.

We shouldn’t have to be perfect ambassadors on the streets to get the same respect — let alone justice — which too many motorists too often seem to consider a God-given right, regardless of their own behavior behind the wheel.

Then there’s the anti-bike lane diatribe from last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, in which an Alexandria VA homeowner complains of attempts by bicyclists to besmirch his quaint little town with bike lanes. And warns that we’ll soon be coming to your town, too.

Unfortunately, this steaming pile of hate appears to have slunk back behind the Journal’s paywall, although your luck in accessing it may be better than mine.

But at least you can still see DC Streetsblog’s response to the WSJ once again allowing anti-bike bigots to sully their pages.

Then again, we’d all be better off if The Weekly Standard had locked its bike-smearing diatribe behind a paywall where no one would see it.

In a piece with a publication date that’s still nearly a week away, it starts out bad, blaming cyclists for the New England cop who dangerously stood in the roadway to halt a group of riders — seriously, what would the reaction have been if he’d stepped in front of a group of moving cars — and goes downhill fast.

His argument is that American streets are already crammed to over capacity, and there’s just no room left for anyone traveling on less than four wheels. And we bike riders don’t share the road so much as take it over to the detriment of motorists and the American way.

So, except in a few spots where roads were built too wide and can now accommodate bike paths, adding bicycles to the mix means squeezing cars. Bike-riders don’t “share” the road so much as take it over. Their wish is generally that the right-hand lane of any major or medium-sized road be turned into a bike lane or, at best, a shared-use lane. This would place drivers in a position of second-class citizenship on roads that were purpose-built for them. There are simply not enough cyclists to make that a reasonable idea. What is going on is the attempt of an organized private interest to claim a public good. Cyclists remind one of those residents in exurban subdivisions who, over years, allow grass and shrubbery to encroach on dirt public sidewalk until it becomes indistinguishable from their yards, and then sneakily fence it in.

The worst part is, like a few Congress members I could name, he sounds reasonable at first.

Until you realize that he’s getting many, of not most, of the facts and all of the opinions wrong. And it eventually dawns on you, if you’re paying attention, that his ranting conveys no more logical sense than a rabid monkey flailing on a keyboard.

And that he is actually the motoring equivalent of a Klansman explaining with seeming reasonableness why Jim Crow was a good idea.

And that’s the worst kind of hate of all.

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A new online petition calls on local officials to investigate that anti-bike sign in East San Diego County encouraging drivers to run over cyclists. And yes, I signed it — the petition that is, not the sign.

Unfortunately, though, I’ve lost track of who sent this to me, so please accept my apologies and thanks.

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Efforts are still underway to fix LA’s crumbling streets. It looks like LA’s mayor heard our complaints, and said slow down on the killer high-speed Hyperion-Glendale bridge design. In case you missed Artcrank last weekend — like me — JoJo offersgreat photo set showing most of the posters. Downtown News says bike share is a natural fit for DTLA. Downtown gets buffered bike lanes through the iconic 2nd Street tunnel. Another Perfect Day looks at the sad decline of Westwood Village, and call for protected bike lanes to help turn it around; speaking of which, here are the benefits of protected bike lanes in a single graphic. Santa Monica police bust a trio of bike thieves; they used to hang rustlers where I come from, and bike thieves don’t seem all that different to me. San Marino council considers the city’s proposed bike plan today, along with bike lanes and declaring next week Bike Week.

Turns out corporate bike fleets aren’t a risky investment after all. Chico businesses do the right thing, as they raise funds for a rider killed in the city recently. Following the recent California Bike Summit, the Times says bikes are an equal opportunity opportunity. Women on Bikes SoCal blossoms into the statewide Pedal Love.

A new study discovers just what kind of bikeway images people like, even if it seems to put the SF Weekly in a bit of a snit. Your next helmet could fold flat and look like a turtle. Eleven signs you might be a cyclist. Oregon infographic clearly shows who pays for the roads. Kill a Washington cyclist, claim you had a seizure and walk away with a hefty fine. A Montana paper says educating road users is important, but you can do everything right and still get run over; too true. If a driver doesn’t get a ticket following a collision, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect. Kill an Ohio cyclist while driving drunk, and get a whopping 30 days in jail. Louisville KY gets sporadic bike lanes. The person accused of killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run ran down another rider two years before. Clearly, blocking bike lanes isn’t just an LA problem. The big hearted people of Mobile AL decide ghost bikes are eyesores that should be removed; maybe they should be writing for The Weekly Standard.

One of Britain’s leading architecture experts is killed in a riding crash. London bystanders lift a car off a trapped cyclist. UK Parliament Member wants to encourage bike riding by mandating registration, taxes and insurance. Repeat after me — don’t punch the drivers, not matter how much you think they deserve it; just don’t. Someone is trying to decapitate cyclists in Edinburgh; deliberate sabotage aimed at cyclists should be considered a terrorist attack. After yet another triathlete is run down, bike clubs in the United Arab Emirates say roads were built for cars and bikes don’t belong on them; seriously? Someone please tell Lance to get over it, already, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Bike riding Aussie father dies after hitting a rock in the road, despite an origami crane campaign. Australian trucks will warn motorists a meter matters when passing cyclists. A Kiwi mom wants to know why the front wheel of the bike she bought collapsed as she was riding it; maybe because it cost $159 and came from Kmart? A New Zealand doctor says one-way separated bikeways are safest. Bike without brakes and face arrest in Japan.

Finally, after a 75-year old UK woman dumps dog shit on a cyclist’s head for riding too close, she tells him to go cry to his mummy; nice lady. And speaking of dumping a load of crap, you can now find me on the VeloReviews website.

Wait, that didn’t come out right.

Bike hate and road rage rear their ugly heads in San Diego County, leaving one rider seriously injured

Photo by @bikeSD

Photo from Sam Ollinger of BikeSD.com

Some people don’t even try to hide their willingness — if not desire — to kill you for getting in their way.

Bike San Diego reports coming across a frightening sign on the side of the road saying it’s better to run over a cyclist than risk a head-on collision by going around one.

I think the writer misunderstands the basic concept of sharing the road. It does not mean that bike riders have to get the hell out of the way, despite what some impatient drivers might suggest.

And unless you’re a total ass behind the wheel, hell-bent on getting where you’re going as fast as humanly possible regardless of the cost, it is in fact possible to wait patiently until it’s safe to pass, and avoid the risk of collision altogether.

The writer also makes it clear that he — I’m assuming, perhaps erroneously, that such a hate-filled colossal pile of human waste capable of writing something like this must be a he — couldn’t care less about the person on that bike if it’s in his way.

On the other hand, he very carefully avoids crossing the line by actually inciting violence. The sign is on private property, and as offensive as it is, the writer has a First Amendment right to express his highly objectionable opinion as long as he doesn’t actually encourage drivers to run cyclists over.

On the other hand, if he even so much as bumps the wheel of a bike, this sign could offer proof of criminal intent.

For the rest of his life.

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A San Diego cyclist was nearly killed in a collateral damage collision between two road raging drivers on Saturday.

The drivers were reportedly jockeying for position where two travel lanes merged into a single lane on State Route 67 in Poway. The vehicles sideswiped one another, causing the pickup in the right lane to swerve into the rider, who was taking part in the Pedal the Cause ride to raise funds for cancer research.

Both drivers left the scene; frighteningly, the driver of the pickup reportedly had no idea he hit her.

The victim was hospitalized with major injuries, including broken bones; doctors said her helmet saved her life. Personally, I’d blame a couple of dangerously aggressive jerks for nearly taking it, instead.

And that’s the difference between the risks posed by cyclists and drivers, which so many bike-hating motorists don’t seem to get.

Even the most aggressive cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while aggressive drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Update: According to San Diego’s NBC-7, the 38-year old victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding in a marked bike lane when the collision occurred; her injuries are described as severe but not life threatening. 

The two drivers are both 50-year old men, which is certainly old enough to know better. 

And speaking of knowing better, NBC-7 should know than a collision that results from the intentional act of two drivers each refusing to yield to the other may be many things. But it is no more an accident than if they had used guns rather than motor vehicles to settle their dispute.

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Despite a state law requiring bike helmets for anyone under 18, only 11% of LA children injured while riding a bike were wearing theirs. Children over 12, minority children and children from low income families are least likely to wear one.

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Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 9th at 4 pm when The Long Bike Back screens at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood as part of the All Sports Film Festival.

The new film traces the recovery and cross country ride of a cyclist seriously injured in a bicycling collision.

Pearson Constantino was preparing to fulfill his lifelong dream of bicycling across the United States when he was hit from behind by an SUV.  Despite his helmet, Pearson suffered serious injuries including a shattered femur, a crushed vertebra, and head trauma.

The Long Bike Back follows his recovery and his exciting bike ride across America with his brother Pete advocating for safer roads and reminding people of the joy of riding a bicycle.

Pearson and Pete’s cross-country journey covers the length of historic US Route 20.  Along the way, Pearson encounters many unexpected challenges including record high temperatures, flooding, food poisoning, inhospitable drivers, poor road conditions, crashes, detours, flat tires, and new injuries which inspire him to recommit to what matters most.

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A writer for the Times suggests licensing bike riders, but acknowledges it might not make a bit of difference. You’re invited to ride Central Avenue this Sunday. The 7th Street bike lanes are being extended from Figueroa to Main St, hopefully taming what has long been one of the most dangerous streets I regularly ride. Rick Risemberg joins about a hundred other riders to plead for bike lanes on Lankershim Blvd, and calls out “Uncle Tom” LaBonge for betraying the bicyclists he claims to support. The Eagle Rock community celebrates the new Colorado Blvd, though the comments suggest not every community member does. An Atwater Village advocate complains about last minute attempts to add bike lanes and sidewalks to the proposed Hyperion-Glendale bridge makeover, failing to note they were included in the 2010 bike plan; Streetsblog’s Damien Newton counts 45 speakers against the proposed plans for a highway speed makeover at tonight’s meeting, and only 3 in favor. The Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills asks a somewhat biased question about bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica will host a bike expo next to the pier next May. You can now call them Santa Monica’s award-winning Ocean Park green bike lanes. SoCalCycling offers results from Sunday’s Krosstoberfest along with photos from Saturday’s Spooky Cross; CLR Effect offers more great photos. South Pas prioritizes sidewalks over bike lanes. Best wishes to Seth at Cycling in the South Bay, who hits the pavement hard in a gnarly 10-bike crash caught on video; he credits his helmet with preserving his brain matter. Corona del Mar hosted a Halloween costume ride over the weekend. The embattled Bike Nation bike share system lives on in Fullerton. There’s still time to attend the California Bike Summit in Oakland next month.

How to avoid bike-on-bike crashes; maybe the group Seth was riding with should have read this first. Well yeah, if you built a bike path next to it, maybe the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t be such a total ecological disaster after all. The late, great Lou Reed was one of us. A Portland man steals his stolen bike back, and helps bust a theft ring. No more excuses — bike-friendly Portland built their entire bikeway network for the price of a single mile of urban freeway; just imagine what all that money wasted on the much-maligned 405 makeover would buy. In yet another Portland story, a clown has his tall bike stolen, while people report someone approaching strangers trying to sell one for 20 bucks. Just heartbreaking: A 92-year old Chicago-area man was killed when his adult tricycle was hit by a speeding car. Security is increased after an Illinois bike rider threatens blue-eyed private school children. If you’re bicycling in Ohio, make sure you’re not riding recreationally if you want any protection under the law. Maybe it’s time to stop being polite when a law-breaking driver threatens your safety. Just heartbreaking 2: An 89-year old Florida man is killed in a left cross while riding his adult tricycle in a crosswalk. Bike lanes may reduce the frequency of collisions, but not their severity.

The effectiveness of pro cycling’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission depends on how far back they go; I doubt the golden, dope-free age of cycling we all fondly want to remember ever existed. British parents write about the loss of their bike-riding daughter. Maybe #space4cycling should be #space4people. How to stay cycle chic all winter; wouldn’t those shorts be cold, though? A Brit bike rider verbally — and physically — abuses a 12-year old girl after a minor collision; seriously, that’s taking general obnoxious jerkishness way too far. A writer for the Guardian says the lack of a women’s Tour de France keeps cycling in the dark ages. Video shows an Amsterdam cyclist nearly crushed by a tree felled by yesterday’s hurricane force winds. Just a slight disconnect here, as a New Deli writer complains about how dangerous it is for bike riders to commute to work in the city — like his driver, for instance. Katy Perry rides Down Under, sans skid lid; now that I think about it, I don’t recall if she was wearing one when I saw her riding with her ex on the South Bay bike path awhile back. Japanese bureaucracy is effectively banning biking to work.

Finally, the future meets the past with this new e-Penny Farthing. And there was a time when Malibu actually encouraged people to bike there; as the photo suggests, though, it was a long time ago. Thanks to Jen Klausner for the heads-up. 

Malibu Pro-Bike Cover

Today’s post, in which we discuss the anti-bike biased, and breaking the law in the name of good

Stolen with permission from Carlton Reid; click on photo for more.

I love this photo, stolen with permission from Carlton Reid.

There’s been a new round of bike hate rearing its ugly head lately.

Most of it somewhat confusing.

Like this piece forwarded by bike rider and motorsport enthusiast Michael Eisenberg, in which a Brit driver takes cyclists to task.

For not knowing our place. And not waving.

Seriously.

Today’s cyclists seem to be angry.  They seem not to enjoy what they do but to grimly pursue their ‘hobby’ in the name of fitness.  They seem to think other road users are a threatening morass of metal out to kill them.  So they spew vibes of resentment and refuse to acknowledge the presence of anything else.  They do not flinch.

The problem is they travel at one third the speed of other traffic and never recognise that fact nor do anything about it.  I don’t mean that cyclists should get out of my way, I mean that after I have waited behind said two-wheeled leg-driven machine that the human on top of it could at least raise a hand and acknowledge my patience, and I will wave back at him to acknowledge his politeness and right to use the same roads as I do.

Cyclists and other road users should get along.  They don’t because they’re either in a race (which no-one else is allowed to do on the road) or because they have a deep in-built sense of entitlement to the detriment of everyone else.

They grit their teeth and hate us.

And yet, he acknowledges that many cyclists are drivers, and vice versa. But insists that we hate them — or us — when we ride, whoever we and us and them happen to be at any given time.

So, when I ride, I hate myself for driving when I’m not riding, right?

Okay, so he’s got a point.

We can all be a  little friendlier when we ride. A little wave of thanks or a nod and smile here and there can make a big difference in your day. And theirs.

But the rest just makes my head hurt.

Then there’s this piece from a writer in the San Fernando Valley, who hates bike riders, in part, because a drunk smelled of booze fell off his bike and scratched her Mercedes.

Even though that drunk probably would have done a lot more damage if he’d been behind the wheel. Or likely just as much if not more if he’d been on foot.

And to be honest, the overwhelming majority of bike riders may smell of something. But’s it’s probably not liquor; that usually comes later.

I mean, she’s more than welcome to sniff me after my next half century.

But what really set her off was having to swerve to avoid a bike rider who had the audacity to take a tumble in front of her expensive German engineered automobile.

In fact, on Wednesday I saw a potentially lethal accident almost occur in a busy Victory Boulevard intersection near my house when a man who was riding his bike and talking on his cell phone lost control of his bike and fell in the middle of the friggin’ street! It happened in front of me so I saw him and maneuvered around his sorry self. I don’t know if everybody behind me saw him and avoided hitting him or not. But hey, we drivers are not allowed to drive and talk on cell phones at the same time. But apparently bicyclists are. That incident is the reason I am writing this.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

But if it’s a potentially lethal accident, wouldn’t anyone with the slightest bit of human compassion try to stop her car in front of the victim to keep drivers running over him?

Or at least stop afterwards to see if the guy needs help, and wave other motorists around him?

No, she’d rather just swerve around his crumpled body and go on her merry way. Then complain about what a jerk he was later.

Then again, maybe she was just trying to avoid a parking ticket.

And yes, under current California law, bike riders are allowed to use a cell phone while they ride, on the assumption that our 20 pound bikes pose less risk than her multi-ton machine, regardless of distraction.

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Not all the recent conversation has been filed with hate, though.

In a mostly positive piece, a Philadelphia bicyclist extolls the virtues of breaking the law. Not all the time, of course; just when it makes sense for safety and convenience.

I broke a law and one that I hold in much higher esteem than stopping at a red light when there are no cars or pedestrians around. I did it because I feared for my safety, which is very often my motivation when breaking traffic laws on my bike. Cars are scary as hell. A lot of people just see them as a given, practically an appendage. Get out of my way, I’m drivin’ here. (Studies show that drivers are at fault in the vast majority of auto/bicycle crashes.)

On the whole, I’m a pretty civilized biker. I don’t salmon down one-way streets, I don’t ride on the sidewalk, and when I arrive at a four-way intersection after a car I try to indicate that they should just treat me as another vehicle and go first. But biking in the city can be dangerous, and I’ll take the law into my own hands when I feel threatened. I even break the sacrosanct sidewalk rule when I bike up to my apartment, as the street in front of it is usually lined with cars and lacks a northward stop sign, so drivers frequently blast down it at alarming speeds. I’m not dismounting there, thanks.

He’s got a point.

I’m a firm believer in following the law all the time. Except when I don’t.

Out of all the stop signs on the Westside, there’s only one I run, because the placement of the sign makes stopping there more dangerous than not.

And while I insist riders should never, ever ride salmon, I’ve been know to do it for short distances when a gap in traffic makes it the safest option to get to my destination.

But that’s the thing.

Traffic laws weren’t written with bicyclists in mind. While obeying them provides the safest and best choice in the overwhelming majority of situations, you’re the one with your life on the line. And it’s up to you to make the decisions that will best ensure your safety.

And that doesn’t always mean following the letter of the law.

On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean riding like a jerk just because you can.

As far as I’m concerned, it comes down to this. The highest law of bicycling is to always ride safely; that is, in a way that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to yourself or those around you.

Most of the time that means obeying the law.

And sometimes, it doesn’t.

………

Unbeknownst to me, Contour — the make of my helmet cam — went belly up in August; one of the original investors may try to resuscitate the brand.

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The coming artistic revolution will not be coming by car. Advocates continue to push for a more livable Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex; maybe there’s a better plan. The Ghost Bikes of LA exhibit opens tonight. Culver City council to consider bike parking on Monday. Malibu hits the brakes on a study of PCH parking; but don’t you have to know what the problem is before you can solve it? Spooky Cross comes to the Pomona Fairplex this weekend. Next month’s LACBC Sunday Funday Ride visits the architectural gems of LA’s most upscale neighborhood with the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire Ride November 3rd. CICLE and Metro team up for a Northridge Delis, Desserts and Deliciousness Ride on the 16th. The LACBC and LA Walks invite you to discuss the Public Health Approach to Walking and Biking November 21st. Ride 2 Recovery rolls through the Central Coast. Chico prepares a ghost bike for a fallen cyclist who did everything right and died anyway.

If bicycling is booming, why are bike sales down? How not to be a bike jerk in three easy steps. Good advice: stop riding when your butt hurts. Speaking of which, an Indiegogo campaign promises to deliver more comfortable bike jeans for women. An “indicator species” cyclist says bike lanes are bad, even though studies show they improve safety. Denver reaches 100 miles of bike lanes. A Chicago alderman calls for a $25 annual registration fee for bikes; good way to discourage bike riding and increase traffic congestion. Meanwhile, an anti-bike columnist says $25 isn’t enough, let’s make it $100, while a cyclist says bike riders should pay their share, so where’s her check? A Chicago thief is caught on video trying to steal 384 pounds of meat by bike; if he can lift that much that easily, he must be the world’s strongest man. New York wins its first lawsuit over bike share docks. New York cops ignore the state’s careless driving law. A DC driver uses Craigslist to apologize to the cyclist she almost hit. WaPo looks at the quest to reinvent bicycling. The president of Virginia Tech right hooks a bike rider, then sends her flowers to make up for it. A cyclist bikes the Underground Railroad.

Once again, the bike rider wins a commuter challenge, this time in Vancouver. Ontario considers increasing penalties for distracted driving. London’s flawed bike safety campaign extends to five other UK cities. A UK cyclist is charged with wanton and furious cycling for the collision that gravely injured a young girl. A British bicycling organization says white lines aren’t enough to keep cyclists safe, while London’s coroner calls for further action to save the lives of bike riders. Maybe it’s me, but when you erect safety barriers after a cyclist gets killed, isn’t it a little too late? After the cyclist he hit dies in his arms, a UK truck driver tells the court it’s been bad for his family, but worse for his victim’s; nice to see someone who gets it for a change. A new Streetfilm looks at how the Netherlands transformed itself for cycling. Long-time German pro Andreas Kloeden calls it a career; is it just me, or are a lot of riders from the doping era retiring now that pro cycling has supposedly cleaned up its act? Bikes are outselling cars in virtually every European country. Why banning bikes is bad for Kolkata, or Calcutta, or whatever you want to call it. Saudi women to protest laws prohibiting them from riding bikes. Japan teaches students not to be killer cyclists; yeah, I’m sure that’s the biggest death risk on the country’s roads.

Finally, what a seriously hairy downhill and 360 degree flip look like from the rider’s perspective. And if you want to see more breathtaking bike photos, take a look at this series from yesterday’s ride by UK bike journalist Carlton Reid.

A brief list of must reads for a perfect LA day

Just a quick note on a quiet news day in the bike world, as only a handful of stories stand out as must-reads this gorgeous Monday morning.

Over the weekend, London’s Telegraph newspaper offered an exceptionally one-sided newspaper report of people in the UK countryside complaining about those damn Wiggo-wannabe Lycra Louts ruining their peaceful roadways — without bothering to speak to a single cyclist, suggesting there is only one side worth considering in this multi-sided story. Fortunately, their competition at the Guardian skillfully deconstructs the anti-bike bias in the story, in typically polite English fashion.

There have been countless stories in recent years looking at why and how the Dutch have set the world standard for designing streets around the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. The Boston Globe offers one of the best examinations I’ve yet seen, with an eye on how we can do it here. And throws in a look at laws holding drivers automatically at fault in a collision with a vulnerable road user; the only way we’ll ever stop the careless carnage on our roads is to adopt a modified of that here.

The Times discovers LA’s ovary gang sign flashing, fem bike centric Ovarian Psycho Cycles Brigade. But as Streetsblog’s Damien Newton points out, can’t bring itself to use the word “clitoral,” as in the recent Clitoral Mass ride.

After months of saying there was nothing they could do to improve safety on campus following the death of bike riding student Ivan Aguilar, Cal Poly Pomona breaks down and does the right thing, re-striping a major campus artery to restrict the use of cars on campus.

Finally, in case you missed it, DTLA’s Spring Street green bike lane ceased to exist over the weekend, with predictable results, even though the now-colorless, rough-riding buffered bike lane remains. LADOT promises the new, less garish — and presumably, less noticeable — treatment will be down in time for CicLAvia in two weeks.

More on the 2nd-car death of Andy Garcia, no more green bike lane, and LA gets tougher on hit-and-run

Streetsblog attempts to clear up the confusing details over the hit-and-run collision that resulted in the death of Luis “Andy” Garcia.

Garcia was killed after 21-year old Wendy Villegas hit a group of five riders and fled the scene, leaving her victims lying in the street, where he was hit by a second vehicle.

Streetsblog writer Sahra Sulaiman talks with some of the other riders involved.

What they have to say contradicts some of the details in the official press release from the LAPD — including the fact that Mario Lopez, one of the riders hit in the initial collision, suffered a broken back, rather than the minor injuries the police report.

And paints a picture of a needlessly horrifying night that took the life of a young bike rider, shattered two families, and forever scarred the four surviving riders, as well as the three men who prayed over Garcia after their van took his life.

All because a young woman got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive, and fled like a coward after colliding with her victims.

Then again, there’s no such thing as being just a little drunk when you’re driving.

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Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Also courtesy of Streetsblog, which has been very busy on the bike front this week, comes official confirmation that you can kiss your green Spring Street bike lanes goodbye.

The highly popular bike lanes barely survived an attempt by Hollywood filmmakers to have them removed entirely; regretfully, self-described bike supporter Council Member Tom LaBonge bought into the industry’s easily disprovable lies — as did our new bike-friendly Mayor Eric Garcetti.

If it wasn’t for the efforts of Council Member Jose Huizar and a few others, the bike lanes would have been removed entirely, rather than just stripped of their green paint.

Now they await a newly approved treatment that costs significantly less, but may not be as effective in capturing the attention of motorists.

We should all hold Hollywood — and our elected readers — accountable for any drop in ridership on the street.

Or increase in injuries.

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The LA City Council instructs the LAPD to take a tougher stance on tracking hit-and-runs. And will work at the state level to revoke the licenses of fleeing drivers, and forfeit their vehicles.

Which is exactly what I’ve long been calling for.

So whether someone has read my blog, or just came up with the idea on their own, thank you. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who gets the credit as long as long-needed changes are made.

Now let’s get it done. And put a stop to this deadly epidemic.

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The LA Times says the ball is in Governor Brown’s court when it comes to signing the three-foot passing law, noting that this is the fifth attempt at passing it in California. The first two never made it out of committee, while our esteemed governor vetoed the last pair.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog notes the Times promises more coverage of bicycling issues on their Opinion page. With all the bike-riding reporters and editors who work at the paper, the only question is what took so long.

Speaking of which, Streetsblog and the new Santa Monica Next are holding a fundraiser this Sunday.

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lb_market_valetKelly Heller sends word that the Long Beach Southwest Farmers Market will begin offering a bike valet this Sunday:

Since it doesn’t begin till next weekend, I cannot tell you anything about how the valet staff is or what the bike accommodations look like.

However, I certainly *can* attest to the fact that this farmer’s market has a significant car-traffic problem.  They are paying for at least three traffic guards, and the whole time we were locking up our bikes and readying our shopping bags we observed the frustration of both the drivers and the traffic guards as they yelled at each other and everyone struggled to find any remaining needle-in-a-haystack open parking spots.

It’s nice to see that someone did the math and figured out that putting up a free bike valet might be the ideal solution.

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There may be hope for the LA River yet, beyond the current unfinished bike path next to a graffiti-clad concrete river bed. The city breaks ground on a new park next to the river in Sherman Oaks that will include a short bike path. The city council approves a new $6 million bike, pedestrian and equestrian bridge over the LA River in North Atwater Village. Larchmont Village loses thirty — yes, 30 — bike racks in order to satisfy drivers who prefer parking meters. Residents want to tame traffic on Ave 64.

There will be a blood drive in honor of fallen OC cyclist Kurt Kirkey in Aliso Viejo on Wednesday, October 2nd. Bike Newport Beach looks at the different mindset for riding in Paris. A Bakersfield driver was using a legal hands-free device when she struck and killed a cyclist riding in a bike lane Tuesday night, in what has been a horrible year for Kern County cyclists and pedestrians; police say the driver was at fault. Sharrows or Supersharrows? When a cyclist is nearly decapitated by fishing line strung over a bike trail, it’s not a prank, it’s a terrorist attack.

Industry trade group Bikes Belong folds itself into its own People for Bikes subsidiary. Elly Blue offers five tips for the bike industry to increase ridership among women. Lovely Bicycle asks if it’s possible to have too short a ride. The Houston Chronicle asks how relatively ancient Chris Horner won the Vuelta. A Houston rider has his bike stolen when he’s mugged on a popular bike trail. Evidently, there’s a requirement in Montana that says drivers have to pass bike riders even when it’s not safe to do so. A Milwaukee man is shot and killed after spotting a man riding a child’s stolen bike. Apparently, more bikes really do mean safer streets, even if New York’s Daily News has trouble believing it. Evidently, you can do tricks on a bike share bike. Male riders outnumber women in Philly, like just about everywhere else. A Maryland rider explains what it’s like to be a cyclist on the state’s roads. DC could remove restrictions preventing bike shops from selling used bikes. A 77-year old Arlington VA driver threatens the cyclist he right hooked with a baseball bat; the driver claimed the rider should have signaled for the left turn he wasn’t making.

A Winnipeg law would absurdly force groups of 10 or more bike riders to get a parade permit. Beat the crap out of a UK bike rider in a road rage incident, and walk away with a fine. A three-year old Brit girl is banned from riding her bike because she might damage resident’s cars. Is Europe’s bad economy causing the boom in bicycling? After overseeing the worst doping era in bike racing history, Pat McQuaid says he’s the only one who can clean it up; I’d say let’s give him the same ban Lance got. The mother of racing great Marco Pantani thinks her son was poisoned after breaking pro cycling’s doping omerta. A Sydney paper continues its highly biased anti-bike reporting, including blaming bike lanes for a loss of handicap parking and cyclists for running red lights; apparently, objectivity and grammatically correct headlines aren’t attributes expected of the local press. Meanwhile, the Guardian says the anti-bike hysteria in the Sydney press has got to stop, and local cyclists fight back on Twitter.

Finally, this is one way to ride with a dog. And if you’re planning to burgle a flat screen TV, maybe a bike isn’t your best choice for a getaway vehicle.

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