Archive for Anti-bike bias

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.

………

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.

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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.

………

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.

……..

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.

Update: LAPD traffic investigators evidently don’t believe other cops who witness a right hook bike collision

Evidently, cops aren’t credible witnesses.

At least as far as LAPD traffic officers are concerned.

Imagine you’re riding along when a driver right hooks you — not just turning across your path, but illegally making a right turn from the left lane — and in the process, not only violates your right-of-way, but causes a collision.

And for once, not just one, but two cops witness the whole thing.

And then…

Nothing.

………

That’s exactly what happened yesterday morning, when Melanie Freeland was making her regular bike commute from Highland Park to Downtown LA.

She was riding on North Broadway through Chinatown around 8:40 am, in the right peak hour lane — that is, what would normally be the parking lane, but converts to a regular traffic lane to accommodate rush hour traffic.

As she was passing the Far East National Bank at 977 N. Broadway, the Lexus traveling in the lane on her left — what was, in effect, the center of three lanes — suddenly turned into the building’s parking lot. The driver cut across the lane Freeland was riding in, without warning, forcing her off the roadway and causing her bike to collide with the car’s door and front panel.

A classic right hook, with the extra added benefit of an illegal turn from the wrong lane. Without signaling, no less.

If that’s not clear, just imagine you’re in the right lane of a two lane street, and the driver on the left suddenly makes a right turn directly in front of you.

And for once, a cop saw the whole thing.

Two police officers — one in uniform, the other in plain clothes — were on their way to court when the collision occurred right before their eyes. They pulled over to offer assistance, calling for an ambulance and staying with her until a regular traffic officer arrived to investigate.

Both officers — I’m leaving out the names of all the cops involved, though Freeland provided their names and badge numbers* — said the driver failed to signal or yield the right-of-way. But even though they were the ones who witnessed the wreck, it would be up to the traffic cop to actually issue a ticket.

The officers gave their report to the traffic investigator, then left for the courthouse.

………

And that’s when everything went to hell.

The investigator told Freeland he couldn’t issue a ticket or determine fault in the collision because he did not actually witness it, saying he “could not issue a traffic ticket for something he did not see.”

Never mind that two sworn officers did. As well as a security guard for the building, who supported the first officers’ version of events.

So Freeland smartly asked to speak with the traffic officer’s supervisor. Yet when the Sergeant arrived, she repeated the exact same sentence.

And added that “It is not a crime to hit a pedestrian.”

Note to police: bike riders are not pedestrians. We have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicle operators, and are allowed on every public street cars are allowed to use, with the exception of some limited access freeways. Calling us pedestrians implies we belong on the sidewalk and belittles our legal right to the roadway.

While it’s true that police officers are generally prohibited from writing citations for traffic violations they don’t witness, I’ve been assured by officers that they can write a ticket or make an arrest based on clear evidence pointing to responsibility for a collision or other violation.

And if the testimony of two cops who witnessed the whole thing — as well as a third independent witness — isn’t clear evidence, I don’t know what the hell is.

Instead, the officers sent just as clear a message that, as far as they’re concerned, bikes don’t’ belong on the street. And good luck getting justice.

Just like the bad old days of LAPD’s anti-bike, windshield bias I thought we’d left long behind us under Chief Beck’s more enlightened leadership.

As Michael MacDonald put it in an email informing me of the case,

There are a lot of things wrong in this picture, not the least of which is that LAPD has again made it clear that cyclists are essentially fair game. I am particularly frustrated that someone I know that had made a concerted effort to make a mode shift towards cycling and to educate herself to ride safely now feels no degree of protection on the road, and is deterred from ever commuting by bike in Los Angeles again.

Fortunately, Freeland does not appear to have suffered any serious injuries, although she was due to be examined by a physician late yesterday.

She’s following up with the original officers, and contacting the department’s bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division. And she plans to reach out to Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Jose Huizar to express her disappointment and call for safety improvements on Broadway.

Police officers also tell me you should contact the Watch Commander overseeing the officers involved as quickly as possible after an incident like this.

But make no mistake.

Yesterday the LAPD failed Melanie Freeland.

Tomorrow, it might be you.

*My purpose here is not to embarrass the officers. The LAPD was been provided with all the names and badge numbers; it’s up to them to deal with the individuals involved.

Update: Okay, now I’m pissed. Melanie Freeland emailed this morning that she tried to call the bike liaison officer for the Central Traffic Division after I passed his contact information on to her. Except the desk officer who took the call initially refused to put the call through, significantly misrepresenting her case and saying “I know the same laws he does.”

She was finally able to leave a message, but hasn’t heard back yet.

Under former LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the department made great strides in improving relations with the bicycling community. But the expanded bike liaison program is absolutely meaningless if self-appointed gatekeepers are allowed to screen their calls.

And no one should ever have to face an argument when reaching out to anyone in the department for help.

I’ve praised the LAPD as one of the most progressive and bike-friendly police departments in the county since Chief Beck took over. But this is starting to feel like a huge step back to the bad old days.

Update 2: Freeland reports she spoke with the Watch Commander on duty at the time of the incident. Who turned out to be the same Sergeant who came to the scene and backed up the original traffic officer. 

In the course of a long conversation, the officer described a Catch 22 that makes it almost impossible for the department to issue a ticket to anyone. Which goes a long way towards explaining the wild west mentality of LA streets, where drivers feel entitled to do virtually anything without fear of consequences.

I called the Central Traffic Division and asked to speak with the Watch Commander on duty yesterday. As I probably should have guessed it was [the Sergeant she’d spoken to at the scene].  I explained to her my phone conversation with [the desk officer] and she stated she did not know why he would state it was a rear end incident when it wasn’t.  We talked at length about why a citation would not be issued for this offense.  She stated that in order for a traffic citation to be issued two criteria must be met. An LAPD officer must witness the incident and be trained in traffic laws (taken the special course in traffic). Because the [traffic officer] didn’t witness the incident it did not meet the two criteria. Secondly, the officer who did witness the incident is not trained in traffic laws, so again it does not meet the criteria.  Thus it is now my understanding, due to the letter of the law that it is not possible for the LAPD to issue a citation to the driver who hit me.

But aren’t all officers trained in traffic law at the Academy? 

And are you seriously trying to tell me that a uniformed LAPD officer lacks sufficient judgement and training to determine that a driver failed to signal and violated the right-of-way of another road user?

Sorry, but this explanation sounds like BS.

And if it isn’t, even worse.

Malibu study suggests PCH safety improvements; a NELA paranoid bike lane conspiracy theory

Lots of news to wrap up the work week.

No, seriously, don’t take note of the perfect summer weather that finally arrived in LA this week. You’ve got important things to do. And you can live without riding your bike for another day.

Right?

………

UCLA professor Donald Shoup would be proud.

The nation’s parking meister has long argued against the high cost of free parking. Now a new Malibu safety study seems to be taking him seriously, suggesting parking meters along PCH could improve safety by reducing the problems with drivers looking for free parking.

I like it.

The study also recommends putting east/west bike lanes along the full length of the 21-mile city to get cyclists out of the way of high-speed traffic. Although someone should tell them that sharrows are not bike lanes.

You can read the study here, and weigh in with your own thoughts online through September 17th; thanks to Paiwei Wei for the link.

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Anti-NELA bike lane activist Tom Topping writes in his Boulevard Sentinel newspaper that he’s being smeared by bike advocates — and oddly, KPCC’s Larry Mantle. I listened to the Airtalk program he refers to when it aired last month; actually, I though Larry was going easy on him. And having appeared on Larry’s program, I can’t say I detected a bit of pro or anti-bike bias, though word is he’s a car guy at heart.

Then again, it does make for a damn good paranoid conspiracy theory if bike shop owners and public radio hosts are all on the city payroll to ram through “vehicle removal plans” for a fast buck.

Though I’m not exactly sure who profits from road diets and bike lanes. Except, of course, for the businesses and residents who reside alongside them.

………

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one to host a Bike Talk program on Tuesday. Flying Pigeon’s Josef Bray-Ali — the unnamed bike shop owner in the above conspiracy theory — hosted a discussion touching anti-bike UN paranoia, billionaires and bikes, and measuring the success of bike projects, among other topics.

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ABC’s 20/20 program takes a look at LA’s hit-and-run epidemic, which the LA Weekly takes sole credit for uncovering; I seem to recall a long list of bike advocates who have been raising the alarm for years, but what do I know? Culver City hosts the annual bike-friendly Fiesta La Ballona this weekend. The comment period for the new Union Station master plan has been extended through the end of this month. Santa Monica will hold a free festival next month to preview the planned MANGo Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway; for the sake of fairness, I hope they also have a WOMANGo greenway in the works. Santa Monica’s Bike Center will try to help the city’s businesses become more bike friendly. Sunday will see a Kidical Mass ride in Chinatown. Metro and CICLE team up to offer three free community bike rides in the LA area in the next three months. County Supervisor Gloria Molina joins with the LACBC and LA County Parks and Recreation to hold a free East LA Bicycle Ride on Saturday, Sept. 7th. Ride Pablove Across America will hold an LA fundraising ride in the Valley on October 12th. Okay, so it’s not a bike race, but proceeds from the October 20th Loco Motion 10K Run will benefit the LACBC in honor of fallen cyclist Marisela Echeverria, killed while riding on PCH last year. Red5 Yellow7 will host a workshop on how to choose the right bike on September 9th. The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition will hold its first official meeting Saturday. Incycle Bike Shop says they’re having their biggest sale of the year. Bike Long Beach explains when you can really take the lane.

Laguna Beach moves towards complete streets while trying to move bike riders off PCH; maybe the city should consider a Roman role model. Irvine is now officially bike-friendly, but that’s about all you’ll learn thanks to the OC Register’s draconian paywall. A San Diego writer proposes using the city’s unpaved canyons for bike superhighways. A bicyclist gets her bike back, thanks to a door-to-door wildfire evacuation; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up. Yet another holier-than-thou Napa bike rider says she obeys the law and rides courteously, but those damn speeding spandex-clad cyclists should stay the hell off the streets.

AAA says American drivers are growing less concerned about behaviors that could kill you. Biking improves employee productivity. The firing of Serotta’s founder takes some of the soul out of American framebuilding. I’ve been to Maui’s Haleakala volcano, and would not want to ride a bike off the edge of it. A sidewalk riding Las Vegas cyclist is killed in an apparent SWSS. Bicycle tourists are a major source of revenue in Arizona. It takes a village to capture a Longmont CO bike thief. BMC’s Tejay van Garderen takes the leader’s jersey in the USA Pro Challenge. A 74-year old MA pastor was murdered with a hammer while riding home on his bike. Needless to say, the New York cabbie who severed the leg of a British tourist earlier this week blames the bike rider who tried to warn him, as well as the city’s bike lanes; the Daily News reveals the bike rider may not be a nice person, but fails to note what the hell does that has to do with the wreck. Those NYC bike lanes may be key to outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy. Citi Bike rides the subway; New York bike share riders may ride drunk, but at least they don’t black out. Even a Philly bike cop can be a victim of hit-and-run. Is it time to end the longtime Share the Road campaign in Delaware — and everywhere else, for that matter?

British cycling star Bradley Wiggins calls for making helmet use mandatory; how about making it mandatory for cars to not hit bicyclists, instead? Volvo’s new cyclist detection system wins the UK’s award for best car safety system. Edinburgh is the latest city to drop speed limits to 20 mph to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Queensland, Australia cyclists could get a minimum 1-meter passing distance, maybe more in high speed areas.

Finally, repeat after me: If you have two bags of meth stuffed in the tubes of your bike, stop for the damn stop signs, already. And a car crashes into a San Fernando Valley post office; witnesses report the building swerved into the car’s path and wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Stupid human tricks: Hit-and-run triathlete, assault on a cyclist, and confused SF and NYC cops and DAs

Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a common theme to much of this week’s news.

………

A Chicago cyclist is injured in a deliberate assault, as a passenger in a passing SUV reaches out and grabs her messenger bag, dragging her alongside the vehicle until her bike crashed into a parked car.

Evidently, just for the heck it, as she reported that the occupants were laughing as they risked her life.

Fortunately, she wasn’t badly hurt. But it’s another argument for protected bike lanes as she was quick to point out.

………

Following the death of a San Francisco bicyclist, members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition held a rally calling for improved safety and a separated bike lane on the street where she was right hooked by a truck driver who illegally turned across the bike lane she was riding in.

Evidently, one of San Francisco’s finest didn’t get the memo.

He illegally parked his patrol car in the middle of the bike lane, in the middle of the rally — despite an empty parking space to his right — forcing riders to leave the bike lane to go around his car. All to make a point that bike riders are supposed to pass on the left, just like anyone else.

Except they aren’t. Bikes are allowed to split lanes in California. And cyclists using a bike lane are in a separate lane from automotive traffic, and are no more required to stop for traffic in the lane next to them than a driver in the right lane would be expected to stop for one in the left.

Which isn’t to say it’s not the smartest move in response to clueless drivers sometimes.

Better to come to a full stop even though the law doesn’t require it than end up under the wheels of a car or truck.

And he blamed the death of Amelie Le Moullac, and two other bike riders killed by trucks in the same area this year, strictly on the victims. Even though the truck driver who killed Le Moullac was most likely overtaking her, rather than the other way around.

So he took the law into his own hands, apparently making the law up as he went along and needlessly risking the safety of anyone using that bike lane, just to blame the victim of a collision that’s still under investigation and attempting to bully bike riders into seeing the world through his own windshield perspective.

Sound about right?

If he’s not working a desk and worrying about his pension today, there’s something seriously wrong in Baghdad by the Bay.

Thanks to murphstahoe and Bike Soup USA for the heads-up.

………

Thankfully, not all San Francisco cops have their heads so far up their own badges, as the department responded to a tweet from a tipster to bust a bike chop shop.

And speaking of bike thieves, a San Francisco resident noticed one riding off on a stolen bike. And promptly nailed him with an ice cube from his third floor apartment.

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In a case of someone who really should have known better, a well-known San Francisco triathlete has been arrested for the hit-and-run that left a Bay Area business suffering from the after effects of a severe brain injury.

Ironman champion Meredith Kessler was allegedly driving the SUV that ran into Soren Krogh-Jensen as he walked in a crosswalk last March, tossing him into the air before crashing back down ob his head. Security video shows her remaining at the scene for several minutes, reportedly checking the victim before getting back in her car and running away like just another heartless coward.

You’d expect better behavior from someone who rides a bike, especially at that level.

At least, I would.

Then again, instant karma seems to have played a role, as Kessler suffered a head injury herself in a collision with another rider while competing in a triathlon that followed the hit-and-run.

And yes, I know karma doesn’t really work that way.

But still.

………

On the opposite coast, a New York City cop decides to ticket a bike rider for going through a red light by knocking her off her bike, apparently failing to realize — or perhaps not caring — that any fall from a bike can result in serious injury.

Or worse.

That’s like deliberately crashing into a driver’s vehicle in order to make a simple traffic stop. Or pistol whipping a pedestrian for jaywalking.

………

Update: Thanks to Joe B for pointing out that the case below actually dates to 2009. For some reason it popped up in a web search for stories posted online in the previous 24 hours, and I neglected to check the date before writing this. So the good news is, maybe today’s New York isn’t as bad as it seems; or maybe the bad news is, this sort of thing has been going on longer than we thought. 

Or maybe I just need to avoid posting my own stories after 1 am. My apologies.

In another example of the sheer idiocy of officials in supposedly bike-friendly New York, a rider faces a charge of criminal mischief after he was deliberately doored by the driver of a massive SUV.

The vehicle was stopped partially blocking a protected bike lane with no indication of why it was stopped; but when the rider attempted to go around it, it started moving again.

So the cyclist responded by slapping the side of the SUV to warn the driver he was there; I’ve done the same thing more than once, and seen other cyclists do it as well.

It usually scares the crap out of the driver, but it’s better than getting run over by someone who doesn’t even know you’re there.

But I’ve never seen anyone respond the way this driver did, flinging open his door into the victim and knocking him off his bike. Then standing over him threateningly before picking up the man’s bike and setting it on the kickstand and driving away.

Leave it to the New York DA’s office to victimize the victim all over again, apparently for that potentially life-saving tap on the driver’s door.

According to the story, criminal mischief requires property damage in excess of $250 — which is far more likely to have been caused by the door hitting the rider than the other way around.

And this from the city Bicycling ranks as the 7th most bike-friendly community in the US.

Maybe the New York DA’s office didn’t get the memo, either.

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In another horrifying case from Gotham City, a taxi driver took the leg — or possibly legs — of an English tourist after an apparent dispute with a bike rider.

And Dr. Oz came running to the rescue.

The bike rider, who was injured in the incident, was next to the cab when the driver allegedly became impatient while attempting to make a left turn. When the rider attempted to tell him to stop, the cabbie reportedly became angry and stepped on the gas, tossing the cyclist onto his hood before slamming into the woman who was sitting on a piece of concrete street furniture.

Her life was apparently saved by a bystander who had the presence of mind to use his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding on her severed leg, while another put the amputated limb on ice. Reports are her other foot was crushed and may not be able to be saved.

TV’s Dr. Oz reportedly saw the collision from his studio window, and came down to help, followed by a camera crew.

Needless to say, the NYPD seems to have ignored everything leading up to the crash and quickly determined there was no criminality involved. Not an impatient, careless or road raging driver, but just another tragic oops.

Fortunately, the city’s DA — yes, the same ones who charged the cyclist in the previous story — is taking another look at it. And the agency responsible for licensing cab drivers is taking steps to revoke the driver’s taxi license for a whopping 30 days; although under the circumstances, life would seem more appropriate.

Meanwhile, advocates are trying to get the NYPD to take traffic crime seriously, instead of just targeting bike riders while ignoring speeding motorists.

………

A Florida detective makes a U-turn without checking his mirror, and collides with a driver in the next lane. But of course, it’s the stop sign-running bike rider who gets the blame.

………

A British mom gives her hockey playing son a new BMW because she thought it was too dangerous to ride his bike to work.

Forty-two days later, he was killed driving his new car.

………

Newport Beach’s highway-style right turn lanes put cyclists and pedestrians at needless risk. Actually, these are far too common throughout Orange County as well as San Diego County; another example of well-meaning but outdated planning gone dangerously amuck.

………

But at least the Tour de France was dope-free this year. Right?

Although now that I think about it, I remember the same being said about Lance in the not too distant past.

………

Finally, here’s the story I wrote for LA Streetsblog as guest editor yesterday, reporting on the new Save Our Streets LA proposal to repave the city’s crumbling streets.

And hopefully fix the sidewalks and install bikeways and build complete streets in the process.

A polite response to a very wrong safety campaign, and blocking the bikeway in Manhattan Beach

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s nice when government agencies try to bring a little peace to our streets. Let alone when they respond to the demands of bike riders to do something — anything — to improve safety when too damn many people are dying just for riding a bike.

But it would be even nicer if they actually made things better instead worse.

Take Scotland’s new Nice Way Code, which tells drivers to think of bike riders like horses — without the requisite crap on the roadway, hopefully — and blames every bike rider for the actions of others.

Not so nice, actually.

That’s why a group of well-mannered Scot bike riders have written a very polite response asking the Scottish government to pull the campaign and put it where the sun don’t shine.

Okay, so I might have added that last part.

The Nice Way Code is failing in its own terms

At the launch of the Nice Way Code, Transport Minister Keith Brown said, “The Nice Way Code campaign seeks to build a culture of tolerance and patience between cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and all other road users across Scotland.” However, everything that has come out of this campaign – which was paid for out of the active travel budget – seems likely instead to create conflict, reinforcing divisions between people based merely on their mode of transport. One advert encourages cyclists not to run red lights simply in order not to give other cyclists a bad name (and not because it’s dangerous and discourteous, not least to pedestrians) – lumping all cyclists together and implying bad behaviour by a tiny minority justifies hostility to everyone who chooses to ride a bike.

As cyclists we are used to hearing from a few uninformed drivers that ‘all’ cyclists run red lights, ride on the pavement, hold up traffic and generally deserve to be treated like obstacles on the road. But we never expected our own government to run adverts saying the same thing. As nine cyclists have died on Scotland’s roads already this year, it’s unsurprising that this campaign seems to have angered almost everyone who regularly rides a bike.

Safer roads will not come from lecturing people and pandering to stereotypes. We believe they will come from rethinking our current emphasis on designing roads purely for motor traffic and redesigning them to remove the sort of conflicts these adverts reflect. Pending that, it’s clear that many people who don’t ride bikes themselves are unaware of the needs of cyclists on the road. A campaign that really aimed to build a culture of patience and tolerance could have helped to educate them about these things, and to get cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to see things from each others’ point of view. Calling cyclists names is not it.

We urge the Scottish government to recognise that it has made a mistake and to pull this campaign before it ramps up tensions on the road even further. We suggest that it takes this opportunity to start a real dialogue between road users about how we can recognise that we are all people, and behave accordingly.

The letter was signed by over 85 people.

If I lived in Scotland, or thought I might find myself riding there anytime soon, you’d find my name on that list, as well.

………

Photo by Don Hayashi

Photo by Don Hayashi

Don Hayashi emailed this photo of an apparently legally blocked Marvin Braude bike path in Manhattan Beach, writing:

I’ve always wondered what the criteria was for forcing the bicyclist to walk their bikes at the pier was.

In this case a Manhattan Beach camp employee has set up the barrier so that his charges can cross safely during their lunch break. He said his boss told him he could.

Funny thing he only set up the barrier on one side of the pier. So bikes were still riding from the other direction. I guess it was to inconvenient to set up the other sign.

The municipal code actually says that a public safety officer has to make the decision.

Apparently legal, that is, under CVC 21211(b):

21211.   (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting, or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist.

(b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

It’s that damned “safe operation” clause that gets you, which seems to give local governments the authority to shut down bikeways anytime they think it’s appropriate.

As well as write local ordinances like the one linked to above.

………

Cyclelicious offers a detailed update on all the bike-related bills before the California legislature, including the state’s third attempt to get a three-foot passing law past our bike-unfriendly governor’s veto pen.

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Amelie Le Moullac, the 24-year old bike rider killed in a San Francisco right hook yesterday, was a 2011 graduate of USC. CicLAvia unveils the official route for October’s Heart of LA event. The LACBC needs your help for this years bike and pedestrian count; scroll up for a chance to win a free trip to San Diego’s Tour de Fat when you become a member or renew your membership. A bank of full bike racks at one of the city’s leading hospitals is a good problem to have. Helen’s Cycles is inaugurating a no-drop, womens-only ride this Saturday. Streetsblog’s new SaMo edition goes online Monday. Santa Monica hosts a meeting to discuss the proposed Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greeway this Saturday. San Marino talks bikeways at Monday’s meeting of the Traffic Advisory Commission. The SoCal Cross Prestige Series announces their fall and winter racing schedule.

A 45-year old Costa Mesa bike rider was injured when she allegedly ran a red light; unfortunately, the details are hidden behind the Register’s paywall. A young Temecula city employee is given a bike to commute to work. A 68-year old Oxnard rider was seriously injured in a SWSS when he reportedly drifted out of a bike lane. I Bike Kern offers a graphic look at a 100-year tradition of bicycling. San Jose readers argue over whether bikes belong on local roadways. A 56-year old Freemont cyclist remains in a coma in critical condition a week after he was injured in a hit-and-run. After a blind Los Altos man invents a high-tech bike for sightless riders, some colossal jerk steals it. An 18-year old Pleasanton driver faces a murder charge for killing a cyclist after tweeting about going on a death ride; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up. San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere was formerly sentenced to three years probation and 1000 hours of community service for the death of a pedestrian. Get to know the co-founder of Public Bikes. San Francisco police are shaming bike thieves on Twitter. How to ride safely around trucks and buses. Should bikes be treated like cars, pedestrians or something in between? Grist calls MonkeyLectric the world’s coolest lights for bike wheels; might be fun to have those cartoon dogs light up the night.

A Las Vegas man with cerebral palsy is still riding his bike 45 years after doctors said he was going to be six foot under. Greg LeMond, now America’s only Tour de France winner, talks bikes and doping in Portland. A new Seattle road diet and bike lanes helped boost business 400%, or at least didn’t hurt it. Boulder CO is becoming a living bike lab. My hometown considers adopting a stop as yield law for bike riders. An Evansville firefighter is handcuffed and threatened with a stun gun after waving at a cop while riding through a stop sign. Michigan State University opens new secure bike parking facilities; I’m looking at you, USC. Long planned Jersey City bike lanes are still coming, cross their heart. New York police continue their crackdown on all those dangerous bicyclists, including writing tickets for supposed infractions they didn’t actually observe. The NY Times considers the problem of keeping the city’s bikeshare racks in balance. A DC church fights a long-planned cross-city separated bike lane, claiming “the slaves who built the church were not thinking about bike lanes;” then again, they probably weren’t thinking about cars speeding past every day, either.

After saying no one should jump to quick conclusions, a Canadian paper does exactly that by calling for a mandatory helmet law for adults. In a completely wrong-headed approach to traffic congestion, a UK city fines cyclists for violating a ban on bikes in the city center. Brit cyclists and drivers fight it out over Twitter. This is why you never ride with your head down, as a British rider competing in a time trial dies after rear-ending a stopped trailer. Evidently, hit-and-run isn’t just an LA problem, or even an American one, as two Irish riders are lucky to be alive when a driver flees the scene after running them down.

Finally, there’s a fatal loophole in an Aussie territory’s hit-and-run law, as it turns out drivers are free to flee if they actually kill their victims instead of merely injuring them.

Then again, in LA you just have to be a celebrity.

Embarrassing video shows Sheriff’s deputy doesn’t know what a sharrow is or what it means

They should be embarrassed.

Or maybe we should, since the LA County Sheriff’s Department is supposed to work for all of us.

Yet as this new YouTube video from WesHigh shows, at least one Sheriff’s Deputy has no idea what a sharrow is. Let alone that bicyclists aren’t required to ride to the ride on a non-sharable lane.

As the video points out, sharrows are not just wayfinding symbols that indicate a Class III bike route, but indicate the preferred position for bike riders within the lane. While you’re not required to ride on the sharrows, if you position yourself on the point of the arrow, you’ll be in the exact spot traffic engineers think you should be within the lane.

Those charged with enforcing the law should know that.

Yet from what I heard from other bike riders, the Deputy’s misconception, while an extreme example, isn’t that unusual for the department.

Many riders have complained about Sheriff’s Deputies demanding that they ride as far as possible to the right, in violation of CVC 21202, which only requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable. And then, only when traveling below the speed of traffic.

If you’re riding as fast or faster than the vehicles around you, you can legally ride anywhere you damn please, as long as you travel in the direction of traffic.

Yet even if you’re just crawling along, there are countless exceptions to the requirement to ride to the ride — including riding in a non-sharable lane, which is defined as any lane too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. And that includes allowing for sufficient space to avoid the door zone, which is one of those hazards the law refers to.

Which means that virtually every right lane in the Los Angeles area should be considered non-sharable. Especially if it allows parking on the right.

The officer is also mistaken in his insistence that the rider was obstructing traffic. Under California law, that only applies on two lane roadways, and by definition, requires five or more vehicles stuck behind the slower vehicle and unable to pass. If drivers can pass, or if there is another lane to the left they could use to pass if they chose to do so, the rider is not legally obstructing traffic.

As the video shows, this was a four lane street. And drivers were able to pass with ease — including the officer who dangerously chose to speak with a moving cyclist without pulling over to the curb first.

Unfortunately, this brings up a much bigger problem.

While the LAPD has worked with local bike riders to clarify the laws applying to cyclists, and developed a training session to train their officers in just how to — and how not to — enforce traffic laws relating to cyclists, the LASD, to the best of my knowledge, has not.

Just what training their officers receive in bike law isn’t known outside of the department and the officers who actually receive it. Or not.

And while the department may feel their officer training is adequate, this video — and complaints from bike riders around the county suggesting a lack of knowledge and inconsistent enforcement in various areas of the county — would suggest it isn’t.

It’s long past time for the Sheriff’s Department to step up and work with cyclists to ensure their officers understand bike law and enforce it correctly, and fairly.

In the meantime, this video prepared by the LAPD in conjunction cyclists participating in the department’s bike task force remains the state-ot-the-art for bicycle traffic law training among SoCal police agencies.

Even then, it’s only as good as department’s commitment to ensure every officer views it.

And learns it.

Virginal new bike lanes on Washington, Rowena lanes are here to stay, and RIP to a 95-year old bike racer

Ran into a pleasant surprise on Monday’s ride. Or over it, more precisely.

I’ve been watching the repaving of eastbound San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood the last few weeks, anticipating the smooth asphalt and newly repainted bike lane that greeted me on my ride back from the South Bay.

What I wasn’t expecting was the new pavement I discovered when I left the Marina bike path on Washington Blvd, extending from Oxford on the west to Lincoln on the east. However, the real surprise was the virtually virginal new bike lane extending the whole way on both sides.

This on a street I ride on a regular basis, making my way a few blocks from the bike path to Abbot Kinney, as in the video below. And one where there was room to ride between the door zone and the traffic lane to the left — but which left me feeling at the mercy of speeding and/or drivers not content to share a lane that waas nearly wide enough for two cars.

Granted, I only rode it a short distance.

But for the first time ever, I didn’t feel like I had to fight for my space on the road. And riding on Washington felt, well, wonderful.

………

The results are in on last week’s prematurely called community to discuss the results of the Rowena road diet and bike lanes, just 90 days after they were installed.

Despite the usual bike hate — some from the usual quarters — word from Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s office is the road diet is here to stay, though it may see some “improvements.”

As long as he doesn’t try to improve it like he did on Spring Street, where LaBonge helped lead the Hollywood attack on the green bike lanes.

Thanks to Patrick for the heads-up.

Update: Velobakery offers a great recap of the Rowena meeting — including the observation that only one person spoke out against bike riders, despite what the other stories might have implied. Thanks to grrlyrida for the link.

Update 2: I’ve received a new PDF from CM LaBonge’s office correcting his position on crosswalks with flashing lights, and replaced the link at the top of this section with the new PDF.

Meanwhile, things may be changing in Pasadena in the wake of the recent death of Phillip O’Neill. Boyonabike reports that a new coalition has been formed to push the city to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, and work for complete streets.

Pasadena is already one of the area’s most livable cities. Except when it comes to its streets.

If they’re smart enough to listen to the people who live and work there, it could be, as he says, the next great walkable, bikeable sity in SoCal.

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If you haven’t read it yet, stop what you’re doing and read this viral blog advice to motorists, You’re Going to Kill Someone.

Do it now. I’ll wait.

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Is South LA about to become bike-friendlier? Downtown’s Broadway is about to undergo a massive road diet to make room for people. Newly elected Councilmember Mike Bonin will replace outgoing Councilmember Bill Rosendahl as chair of the Transportation Committee, which should bode well for the city’s cyclists and transit users. Better Bike looks at the former Biking Black Hole’s baby steps to become bike friendlier. Burbank riders will soon get a new bike path — not lane, thank you — connecting the Lake-Alameda bike path to the Burbank Metrolink station. The LACBC invites you to an all-ages Sunday Funday ride in Long Beach this weekend. A Murrieta man is riding 10,000 miles to carry his father’s ashes to China. A Fresno writer asks why police concluded investigations based solely on the testimony of the one with the most to lose. Fresno residents say we’re the ones not sharing the road.

Bicycling’s Bod Mionske offers advice on how to take — or start — a bike traffic school. Surly suggests some things you might not need on your next ride; I’d argue that gloves matter, as anyone who’s ever had road rash on their palms could attest. The Christian Science Monitor says there’s a bike boom going on, in great length and detail. They may be right, as even Sioux Falls holds a ciclavia. Denver cyclists try out a temporary protected bike lane. Lance can’t ride the Tour anymore, but he can ride RAGBRAI. In a horrifying collision, seven bike riders are injured — three seriously enough to require life flight — when a group of 13 bicyclists on their way to Santa Monica are rear-ended by an Arkansas motorist. Dallas police are being sued for running down and killing a bike rider for not wearing a helmet. Minnesota AAA is now offering roadside assistance for bicyclists; no word on whether they oppose bike safety legislation like ours does. After his tandem is stolen, a blind New York rider is deluged with bike offers. Panic in the streets of New York, as Gothamites discover they’re at the mercy of uninsured bike share riders — and helmetless ones, too. In an apparent attempt to troll for web hits, the NY Times calls for a dialogue on bicycling and those ugly bikes clogging the streets. Meanwhile, the Times declares an end to car culture; a Houston writer says it ain’t necessarily so. Steve Martin — yes, that Steve Martin — gets his wallet back after losing it while riding in Pennsylvania. DC area Black Women Bike group raises the profile of cycling. Three years for a hit-and-run Virginia driver who had been drinking the night he killed a bike rider. Clearly, you can carry anything on a bike, even a stolen air conditioner.

How not to fix your bike. British motorists want bike riders to wear helmets and pay for the road; in other news, the bear does shit in the woods. Two UK bicyclists are killed by a truck on a roadway riders are encouraged to avoid whenever possible; they were on the first day of a cross-county bike tour. Brit bike share users may soon be able to don paper helmets. An Irish rider is nearly decapitated by a rope strung across the roadway; less a prank than an anti-bike terrorist attack. Welshman Geraint Thomas rode 90 Tour de France miles with a cracked pelvis. Why women don’t ride the Tour de France; actually, there’s another race going on right now. Remarkably, the cab driver who killed Kiwi pro cyclist Burry Stander will not face charges.

Finally, rest in peace to Gordy Shields, the record-setting 95-year old San Diego bike racer who passed away on Sunday following complications from a recent surgery. He may not have died riding, but if anyone deserves a ghost bike, that man does.

A successful Wilshire CicLAvia, Give Me 3 moves forward, and who knew drivers run stops signs, too?

The view from the Downtown hub

The view from the Downtown hub

Just a few quick thoughts on Sunday’s CicLAvia.

After all, there’s been more than enough written on the subject to make a review by yours truly truly irrelevant.

But let me offer my congratulations to the folks at CicLAvia for pulling off the most successful event yet.

Maybe it was the extended 9 am to 4 pm hours, allowing people to travel the route more leisurely.

It could have been using both sides of a wide boulevard, unlike the recent CicLAvia to the Sea, allowing more space to move. And the limited traffic crossings certainly didn’t hurt, making it possible for even the slowest riders to cover the entire route in an hour or so of actual pedaling.

Meanwhile, the shorter distance encouraged more walking, making this the first one where I’ve seen a significant amount of pedestrians along the entire route.

Evidently, bikes are good for business

Evidently, bikes are good for business

It might have been the iconic theme for an iconic boulevard. Along with the many entertainment and educational options along the route; the woman singing traditional Korean songs in not so traditional Koreatown was a highlight for me.

Call it Gangnam-style from a handful of centuries back.

Then there was the food of every possible description, dispensed from everything from trucks and restaurants to church groups and kids hawking cookies and lemonade.

It could have been the abundance of portapotties, reducing bladder pressure and putting everyone in better mood.

Or maybe it was all of the above, in what felt like the best planned and organized CicLAvia yet. Clearly, organizers have looked at what didn’t work in previous events and made some changes for the better.

I'll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see  unicorn on it

I’ll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see unicorns

One minor criticism is that participants universally ignored signs suggesting slower people should keep to the right, resulting in conflict zones throughout the full length of Wilshire. Which may have been why I saw three riders fall, resulting, thankfully, in relatively minor injuries.

The worst was a woman who lay in the street grabbing her collarbone, causing me to ride a few blocks back to an aid station get medical help.

The others suffered scrapes and road rash, and declined medical help.

Note to everyone: If you have the option for free medical help in an event like this, take advantage of it. Prompt first aid can prevent worse problems later, and the need for avoid more expensive medical attention if further injuries become apparent the next day, as often happens.

A friend writes that she witnessed a bike-bourn hit-and-run, in which a couple on a tandem rode off after knocking down another rider. Witnesses were unable to stop the bike before it disappeared into the crowd, leaving the victim sprawled bloody on the street.

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Then there’s the schmuck — and I use the term advisedly — who apparently was unwilling to make his way to one of the four crossing points, and gunned his late model Toyota through the barricades at Windsor Ave and across the CicLAvia route, where he hit a cyclist before fleeing the scene.

Fortunately, the rider wasn’t seriously hurt, though badly shaken. (Update: The rider has three fracture vertebrae as well as a mangled bike; having suffered the same injury a few decades back, he likely faces a long road to recovery and a lifetime of back pain.)

Unfortunately, the limited description means the driver will probably get away with it.

But on the off chance they find him, I hope they take away his license. And shove it so far up his ass he’ll need to see a proctologist to buy his next six pack of beer.

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Congratulations to Wolfpack Hustle on pulling off what I’m told was a very successful and popular first-ever Civic Center Criterium on Sunday.

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California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law is now before the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation and Housing after overwhelmingly passing the state Assembly, just shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority.

The bill’s sponsor, Inglewood Assemblymember Steven Bradford, has been very smart in answering the unreasonable objections Governor Jerry Brown gave in vetoing the last two attempts to pass a three-foot law.

There should be no rational reason for Brown to veto the law this time around. Although as we’ve seen, rationality isn’t exactly his strong point when it comes to bikes.

There are some strong supporters of bicycling on this committee, including West Valley Sen. Fran Pavley. But it couldn’t hurt to contact committee members to voice your support.

As we’ve seen with the previous attempts to pass this law, nothing is guaranteed in California politics.

………

After learning that the rate of cellphone violations are down in California, a writer from the Press-Enterprise conducts his own survey and finds 7.7% of drivers he observed at a Temecula intersection were texting or using handheld phones — slightly higher than state stats.

More interesting, however, was his secondary observation that two-thirds of the drivers failed to stop for the stop signs.

Based accusations from motorists, I would have sworn only bike riders do that.

Pot, meet kettle.

………

Speaking of anti-bike bias, so much for the L.A. Newspaper Group’s self-proclaimed Summer of Cycling being a good thing, as the owners of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press Telegram, et al, once again trot out the tired cliché of licensing cyclists and requiring insurance for bike riders.

As usually happens when the press chums for angry drivers, the results will inevitably skew towards requiring licensing for bike riders, if only because there are far more motorists than there are bicyclists. Never mind that this question reads like a classic push poll designed to draw a negative response.

So once again, for their benefit and that of anyone else unclear on the concept, like most bicyclists, I have a drivers license, which means we’ve already passed the same test as anyone else on the road — and probably have a better knowledge of traffic law than most, since we too frequently have to defend our right just to be on the road.

And despite what the papers suggest, my automotive insurance covers me for liability when I ride, as well as covering medical expenses resulting from a collision with an uninsured motorist or a solo fall.

Just like pretty much every American bike rider over the age of 16.

So get over it, already.

And before they claim to cover the subject, they need to reach out to the people and groups who are fighting for the rights of cyclists every day.

Not the angry drivers who don’t have a clue about the rights of cyclists, or how to ride a bike safely on the streets of Southern California.

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Congratulations to our friends at LA Streetsblog, winners of two L.A. Press Club awards Sunday night.

Well deserved.

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Former LADOT Bike Blogger and current Calbike board member Chris Kidd updates his comprehensive listing of state sidewalk riding laws, including percentages of where it’s legal in each county.

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Looks like we’re all invited to the official inauguration ceremony for our new mayor this Sunday evening. LADOT ranks the 50 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians; something tells me they’re not much safer for anyone else. Beverly Hills begins work on the city’s first bike lanes; needless to say, they’re only being installed on a trial basis. A writer raises questions about plans to improve bicycling on Redondo Beach’s Harbor Drive. A SoCal cyclist sets a new national one-hour record at the Home Depot Center Velodrome in Carson. A Valencia woman faces charges for a hit-and-run that seriously injured a cyclist. San Diego prosecutors decide on misdemeanor charges for the driver responsible for killing cyclist Charles Gilbreth — despite recklessly passing a bus — and blame fallen cyclist David Ortiz, at least in part, for his own death.

Bikes Belong looks to reinvent itself. A smart new Maine bill redefines traffic to include bikes, bans right hooks and removes the restriction to ride to the right. NYPD is — finally — starting to take traffic fatalities seriously; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. A New York columnist offers his take on the city’s new bike share program; Gothamist says that all you got? A Virginia cyclist is hit by a stray bullet when a man can’t manage to load his gun without firing it. A Texas woman leaps off her bike at the last second to avoid getting run over by a cement truck. New Orleans gets bike lanes on iconic Esplanade Ave. One hundred nineteen years ago yesterday, a Jewish mother of three successfully set out from Boston to bike around the world.

A bike-hating Toronto writer changes his tune after just  two hours on two wheels. A Winnipeg writer offers a tongue-in-cheek look at six ways a cyclist with a death wish can become a hood ornament; decent advice, but somehow, not so funny. Bikes now make up as much as a quarter of London’s rush hour traffic. Tips for the bike curious. Even in the Netherlands, childhood bike riding is down as more parents drive their kids to school. A look back at 150 years of bicycling in Copenhagen. Evidently, you need nine lives to ride a bike.

Finally, I don’t even know what to say here, as a Swiss man sexually assaults a bicycle after puncturing both tires; presumably so it couldn’t get away, I guess. And if you’re carrying a sunglass case full of meth on your bike at 1 am, put a damn light on it, already.

The bike, that is, not the meth.

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