Archive for Health

Morning Links: Dennis Hindman found safe, terrorist attacks bike riders in New York, and Bruins joins Bonin’s staff

Let’s start with the good news.

According to his sister, longtime LA bike advocate Dennis Hindman has been found safe in a San Gabriel hospital after being missing for two months.

Apparently, the Toluca Lake resident has been in the hospital for the entire time he’s been missing.

No word on Hindman’s condition yet, or why his relatives were never notified.

However, a hospital stay of that duration is never a good sign; let’s keep him in our thoughts and prayers until we have more information.

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This time, it was us.

At least eight people were killed when a terrorist claiming an allegiance with ISIS drove 20 blocks down a New York bike path, leaving crumpled bikes and bodies in his path.

At least eleven others were injured.

Five of those killed were Argentine tourists who were visiting the city to celebrate their 30th high school reunion. One of the dead, and three of the people injured, were from Belgium.

The killer was shot by police after crashing his rental truck and exiting waving pellet and paintball guns; at last report he was hospitalized in grave condition after undergoing surgery.

The 29-year old native of Uzbekistan has been a legal resident of the US since 2010; he would have been unaffected by the recent travel bans.

The Associated Press lists other attacks where vehicles have been used as weapons.

Thanks to John Dammann for the heads-up.

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Congratulations to former LACBC Planning and Policy Director Eric Bruins, who is joining CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin’s staff as Transportation Policy Director, replacing longtime aide Paul Backstrom.

Or maybe we should offer our congratulations to Bonin for landing him. And to the people of CD11 for the exceptional hard work and dedication they’re about to receive.

Let’s hope they have the good sense to appreciate it.

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Nothing like rounding a corner in San Clemente, and nearly getting hit head-on by a driver on the wrong side of the road.

Although that little honk from the scofflaw motorist was a nice touch.

Credit Eric Fleetwood for the video, and thanks to David Drexler for forwarding it.

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There may be a lot of cyclists looking for work soon, as UCI’s new president calls for reducing the size of pro cycling teams to just six riders, after next year’s reduction to eight.

And former LA pro Phil Gaimon offers the latest in his Worst Retirement Ever series, as he tackles Colorado’s legendary Mt. Evans Hillclimb, the highest paved road in North America.

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Local

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Susanna Schick, who writes about Move LA’s efforts to keep the city moving, while noting that every time she’s tried to push back against traffic, the cars push back harder.

Selena Gomez is one of us, as she stops to talk with fans while riding her bike in Studio City.

Santa Monica’s Breeze bikeshare celebrates its second birthday with a day of free rides this Saturday.

Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson writes movingly about his friend Rob Dollar, who was killed by an allegedly drunk and stoned teenage driver while riding outside of Phoenix on Sunday.

Long Beach’s Beach Streets wants to know what you thought about this past weekend’s open streets event in the city.

 

State

California’s new twelve cent gas tax increase will kick in today.

San Juan Capistrano will widen Del Obispo Street to remove a bottleneck, adding a lane in each direction, along with bike lanes on either side.

Orange County will begin restricting access to the Santa Ana River Trail in order to control the homeless camps that have sprung up along the trail; starting today the path will be closed from 6 pm to 7 am through the end of February, then 9 pm to 7 am until next October 31st.

San Diego’s city council makes the tough choice to remove parking to make room for bike lanes on University Avenue as part of the city’s Vision Zero program, reducing a gap in the city’s bike network. Meanwhile, the city approved a new connector road that will split existing neighborhoods, which would help complete a regional bike network, even though they’ve failed to track whether they’re meeting ambitious bicycling and transit goals to reduce greenhouse gasses.

An Arroyo Grande man says bike riders aren’t paying the “overinflated vehicle registration fees” car owners do, and suggests an annual $75 fee to ride a bike on the road. Never mind that bikes cause virtually no wear and tear on the road. Or that most bike riders already pay those same vehicle registration fees for one or more motor vehicles.

A middle-aged man was shot in the face while riding his bike near a San Jose light rail station. Thanks to Lynn Ingram for the link.

San Francisco police are looking for a pair of brutal bike-riding San Francisco hat thieves.

 

National

A TV website lists ten things you probably didn’t know about American Flyers.

NACTO says a future of autonomous cars calls for a transportation blueprint that puts people first.

Forbes asks if private dockless bikeshare will become a fixture on college campuses.

Lil Kim is sort of one of us, too, as she teaches her three-year old daughter how to ride a bike.

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for Colorado’s bike-riding bank robber, the Sneaky Cyclist Bandit. No word on what makes him so sneaky, though.

No bias here. A Denver TV station says the city’s efforts to become more bike-friendly may have hit a snag, because drivers don’t like a new sidewalk, calling it twice as wide as it needs to be.

A Dallas writer says the city can’t handle dockless bikeshare, where abandoned bikes are littering the sidewalks.

Chicago cab drivers are no longer required to drop passengers off at the curb, reducing their liability if someone doors a bicyclist.

Minneapolis has a bicycle-riding, unicorn-costumed candidate for mayor. Maybe Garcetti should consider that approach if he runs for president in 2020.

A Detroit bike co-op gave a new bike to a man with undisclosed medical problems, after the bike he used as his only form of transportation was stolen when he stopped to rest for a few minutes.

A Louisville KY bicyclist declares victory after authorities dropped charges of running a red light and obstructing traffic for not riding in a bike lane; he had claimed there was debris in the bike lane that could have given him a flat.

A New York bus driver was charged with a misdemeanor for the death of a bike rider last year, the first bikeshare rider killed in the city. But at least the driver honked before running him over.

 

International

You can now own your very own $815,000 cycling watch, which comes complete with a limited edition Colnago bike. For that price, it should also come with your own private bikeway to ride it on.

A bike-raging Toronto bike rider gets 18 months probation for an incident caught on video last August, in which a taxi driver intentionally turned into him after he had repeatedly slapped the cab and reached inside for the keys.

A road-raging London driver gets two years for intentionally running over a bike rider, breaking his back — then getting out of his car and telling the injured rider he’d run over him again if he had to.

Apparently they take repeated DUIs seriously in the UK, at least if you kill someone. A woman with three previous drunk driving arrests got eight years for the death of 17-year BMX rider after downing three pints of beer.

Caught on video: A British bicyclist confronts a motorist for driving on the sidewalk to get around a traffic diversion, who was none too happy about it.

 

Finally…

Seriously, don’t shoot your gun in the air while riding stoned, especially with a previous felony conviction. Your next ebike could run on hydrogen.

And you can now ride your bike through Graceland.

No, not that Graceland.

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Thank you to Alice Strong for her very generous donation to help support this site; you can make a donation anytime to help keep SoCal’s best bike news coming your way every day using the PayPal link.

 

Morning Links: Drunk cyclists and pedestrians, bike lanes benefit public health, and support bikes in Hollywood

More victim blaming from the governors.

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association says one-third of pedestrians killed in 2014 traffic collisions, and 20% of bike riders, were legally drunk at the time of the crash.

Which, like most of their reports, sounds damning but lacks any real context.

Like whether the victims’ intoxicated state had anything whatsoever to do with the crashes that killed them.

The report implies pedestrians stumbling drunk into the path of oncoming motor vehicles, or weaving bike riders blowing red lights to meet their demise.

Yet it’s just as likely that a drunk pedestrian could have been hit while walking legally in a crosswalk, or that a bike rider may have been rear-ended while riding in a bike lane, despite having a couple beers.

As LAPD officers have repeatedly drilled into my head, intoxication is never the proximate cause of a collision. A driver may run a red light or veer onto the wrong side of the road because she’s drunk, but the cause of the crash is the traffic violation, not the DUI, which is considered a separate offense.

And never mind that a drunken bike rider or pedestrian is a danger to him or herself, while drunk drivers pose a danger to everyone around them.

So yes, the public should be made aware that walking or riding a bike after drinking can put you at serious risk. And taking transit or ordering a Lyft may be a better idea if you’ve had too much.

But seriously, everyone will be better off if you do anything except get behind the wheel.

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Another new study shows building bike lanes compares extremely well to other interventions designed to protect health, resulting in significant health cost savings and benefits to society at minimal expense.

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The LACBC is asking you to turn out next Tuesday to support bike lanes in Hollywood, which currently has none.

The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council Transportation Committee will be discussing transportation issues including cycling. A public show of support for bike infrastructure is needed so that the committee will prioritize bike safety issues. In particular it would be helpful if cyclists were able to speak about The Hollywood Boulevard commercial district/corridor, Vine Street, Cahuenga Blvd, and/or Highland Avenue as they are all heavily trafficked and precarious for daily cyclists.

When: 6 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Where: Hollywood Methodist Church located at 6817 Franklin Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90028

Parking: Plenty at the church itself

Closest Metro Stop: Hollywood/Highland

Please RSVP at if you plan to attend.

As someone who lives and rides in the area, I can attest to the need for major changes, since there’s currently no safe way in or out of Hollywood in any direction.

Let alone that we’ll be throwing tourists to the wolves once Metro’s bikeshare comes here in the next few years.

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Mark Cavendish’s plans to catch the Cannibal’s record for Tour de France stage wins suffers a setback as he’s sidelined with infectious mononucleosis.

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Local

The Daily News says any public sign of friction on the LA City Council is a good thing, such as CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s endorsement of challenger Joe Bray-Ali in CD1 over incumbent Gil Cedillo.

Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman talks about the LACBC’s Tamika Butler talking about bikes, equity, and tokenization on the Bike Nerds Podcast.

An Alhambra man was critically injured when he was hit by a car while walking his bicycle across the street; for a change, the driver stayed at the scene.

The 61-year old self-proclaimed UniGeezer spends six days a week mountain unicycling along off-road trails in Agoura Hills, Simi Valley and Santa Barbara.

 

State

Oceanside puts a planned crosswalk on hold as the city questions plans to install a road diet that would protect the lives of kids walking and biking to school.

The second phase of San Diego’s Torrey Pines Corridor project will begin this fall, including buffered bike lanes on both sides.

Professional BMX riders take an anti-bullying message to a Rancho Bernardo high school.

The Big Bear Grizzly says it’s time to ride bikes in Big Bear. I assume that’s the local newspaper, rather than, you know, an actual bear.

A San Francisco bike shop will take your old car in trade for a new ebike. Throw in a sidecar for the Corgi, and I’m in.

 

National

The new Copenhagen Wheel, which promises to turn any bicycle into an ebike, is finally available for purchase. With starting price of $1499, it costs more than most bikes it might be used on.

Denver paramedics are training to ride their bikes to the rescue. Meanwhile, a coalition of bike and safety groups is calling on the city to dedicate $40 million a year for sidewalks, bikeways and access to transit.

Bryan Dotson forwards word that BikeHouston, which just helped guide approval of the city’s ambitious new bike plan, is looking for a new advocacy director. On the plus side, you’ll get to help reshape one of the country’s most notoriously auto-centric cities. On the other hand, you’ll have to live in Texas.

Caught on video: An Ohio driver appears to target one of three kids riding their bikes, running over his bicycle and up onto a lawn as the victim jumps out of the way.

A Massachusetts town votes to remove two whole parking spaces to sort of make way for a bike lane, because removing the four spaces that were actually needed was just too much to ask.

The drunken hit-and-run Baltimore bishop who left a bike rider to die in the street is now eligible for parole, despite serving just 18 months of her seven-year sentence, because Maryland doesn’t consider vehicular manslaughter a violent offense. I’m sure her victim would beg to differ.

A Georgia driver faces multiple felony charges, including aggravated assault and hit-and-run, for turning around and intentionally clipping a cyclist after honking and yelling at the group of riders as he passed moments earlier.

 

International

Caught on video too: The BBC’s Jeremy Vine is once again the victim of a near miss as he rides his bike through the streets of London.

London bike commuters want more showers. And someplace to dry their sweaty clothes.

Dublin’s lord mayor says he doesn’t know anyone who takes bags of shopping home on their bicycles. Maybe he needs to expand his circle of acquaintances since countless people do just that every day.

Irish police sergeants and inspectors say the country’s streets are too dangerous, so they call for making helmets and hi-viz mandatory for bike riders instead of making the streets safer. At least wiser heads prevailed on a plan to force pedestrians to wear fluorescent clothing.

Not even Copenhagen gets bike infrastructure right all the time.

Shanghai tries to halt China’s bike boom, banning bicycles — ridden or parked — from certain downtown districts, as well as a number of roads without bike lanes.

 

Finally…

Seriously, if you’re going to steal a bicycle, inside a police station is probably not the best place to start. Or at least wait until the rider gets off.

And if you’re going to jump your bike across a pond, try stay on until you hit the ramp, anyway.

 

Morning Links: A reminder to always ride with water, and why drivers continue to flee following crashes

Got an email late Thursday telling me I almost lost a friend last week.

Long story short: Heatstroke.

I rode from Seal Beach to Azusa, then “rested” under a bridge by the San Gabriel River, viciously under-hydrated, out of water, with the temperature climbing, because I’m a moron.

I banged up my shoulder tripping against the concrete pier. I hallucinated. I blacked out. I threw up the first bottle of water that a good stranger gave me. Retrospect terrifies me: I actually could’ve passed out permanently under that bridge.

I’m heading back this afternoon to put up a thank-you poster because I never got the name of the guy who rescued me, got me water/Gatorade/ice, put me in his air-conditioned car, and kept me from wandering off. If he didn’t save the coroner a bunch of work, he at least spared me from crushing hospital bills.

Let that be a reminder to always carry more water than you think you’ll need. And remember to actually drink it, especially on hot days.

You should also make sure to have a little cash with you, so you can duck into a store or gas station to buy more in case you run out.

And always carry some form of ID when you ride, just in case a stranger finds you passed out under a bridge somewhere.

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Evidently, there’s no reason not to flee after collision.

A Whittier woman got less than a slap on the wrist — more like a pat on the back — for last year’s South Pasadena hit-and-run wreck that injured a couple and their baby, and killed the family dog. While driving on a suspended license, no less.

None of that seems to matter, though, as she threw herself on the mercy of the court. And was richly rewarded with just three years probation and 30 days Caltrans duty.

That’s it.

So as long as the courts refuse to take hit-and-run seriously, let alone a license to drive, why should anyone else?

Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

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Looks like frequent contributor danger d now has his own blog. And the first post is a complaint about the problem of having to beg for a green light if you’re not driving a car.

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The often anti-bike LA Weekly offers a great profile of a third-generation, six-year old lowrider bicyclist. With training wheels.

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Now this should be interesting. The Vuelta a España kicks off with a team time trial on Saturday on a course that’s partly dirt and sand. The former director of Team Sky says put your money on Chris Froome.

BMC’s riders just switched places after the fourth stage of the USA Pro Challenge as Rohan Dennis won in a breakaway, taking the leader’s jersey from teammate Brent Bookwalter. But if you’re not going to win the stage, you might as well pop a mid-race wheelie.

The women’s three-stage version of the Pro Challenge kicks off today, offering prize money equal to the men’s race. And apparently not comprehending the message it sends, the same podium girls, too. Yahoo looks at women’s cycling’s token appearance at the Tour de France and the problems still facing the sport.

The new head of USA Cycling wants the organization to be vehemently anti-doping, with an increased focus on grassroots and women’s cycling.

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Local

LA Weekly wants your vote for your favorite bike shop; Helen’s, Golden Saddle and Flying Pigeon are the nominees.

CiclaValley professes profound indifference to the new bike lanes on Vineland. Here’s what usually happens: They put bike lanes where no one wants them, so no one uses them. Then say there’s no point in building more bike lanes, because we don’t use the ones we’ve got.

A great Vine illustration clearly shows how Pasadena’s proposed two-way, buffered cycletrack on Union Ave would work.

 

State

A Santa Ana cyclist suffered major injuries when he reportedly lost control of his bike and veered into the path of an oncoming pickup Wednesday night. The story reports he was riding east in a bike lane on the 900 block of East McFadden Ave; however, there aren’t any there for him to veer out of. Thanks to Lois for the heads-up, and thanks to David Huntsman for pointing out the lack of bike lanes.

Costa Mesa police revive their bike patrol after 15 years to deal more effectively with homeless people and drug abusers.

Garden Grove will hold their second annual open streets festival on October 10th.

Coronado residents rise up in opposition to a proposed multi-use path along the beach. And apparently, bike riders in general.

A dangerous Orinda bike lane will get a coat of green paint, rather than moving a turn lane leading to a freeway onramp to improve safety.

San Francisco police ride along with the city’s cyclists in an effort to mend fences after a recent crackdown on bike riders.

San Fran’s 2nd Street will get a road diet with raised, curb-protected bike lanes. And we get to be envious.

Nice. A 17-year old girl scout raised $8,000 to give every sixth grader at an Oakland Catholic school a new bike, helmet and assorted gear.

After police stop a man for suspicion of riding a stolen bike, they discover he skipped out on a Marin County drunk driving charge 21 years earlier.

The Marin County paper offers an in-depth obituary of Deb Hubsmith, founder of Safe Routes to Schools.

 

National

People for Bikes kids infographicA new infographic from People for Bikes provides stats on children and bicycling; despite the perception that kids don’t ride bikes anymore, 57% ride an average of 40 days a year. That could show a lot of improvement if more parents felt safe letting their children ride to school and more administrators would allow it.

Bicycling offers tips on how to finance your new bike. Just don’t buy more bike than you can afford, or go into debt if you can’t comfortably manage the payments.

This is so not what bicycles are for. A Montana man is under arrest for repeatedly punching his girlfriend and whacking her with his bike. Hopefully, she’ll get the hell out before he makes bail.

Five college-bound Chicago teens show up in a Mercedes to beat and pepper spray a man in an attempt to steal the $500 bike he was selling. That scholarship to Cal Poly won’t be used anytime soon.

The parents of a soldier killed in Afghanistan are fulfilling his dream of building a parking lot where Minnesota cyclists can safely unload their bikes away from a busy roadway.

A Minnesota writer pens an ode to the best month to ride a bike.

It takes a pair of real jerks to shoot a Detroit bike rider with a paint gun. And a couple of idiots to follow that by shooting it at a police SUV.

New York’s mayor is considering undoing the highly popular Time Square pedestrian plaza by reopening the street to cars to fight the scourge of body-painted breasts. Yes, breasts.

 

International

Caught on video: More than a half dozen people pitch in to lift a car off an injured British bike rider; a basket decorated with flowers is attached to the unseen bike and rider trapped under the car.

After she’s knocked off her bike by a hit-and-run driver, London novelist says the city’s cyclists are being scared off the road. Although maybe someone might explain the meaning of TMI to her.

A bike-riding Catholic nun is changing the lives of former sex slaves in the Congo.

An Aussie driver faces a minimum of 18 months for plowing into a pack of riders; somehow, he couldn’t see the seven cyclists directly in front of him for a full 17 seconds.

Thailand’s Crown Prince gives the equivalent of $2,200 to the family of a man killed in a collision while training to for a bike ride in honor of the Queen’s 83rd birthday.

 

Finally…

No point in working as a dog walker when you can do it by bikeshare. Now you can get a KOM while working on that new IPO.

And it’s okay if a man wants to ride a women’s bike.

No, really. It is.

 

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Thanks to Jeffery Fylling for his generous donation to help support this site.

Morning Links: Shaming the fat shamers, USA Pro Challenge starts today, and more Mobility Plan fallout

Just keep it to yourself.

In a blog post that went viral over the weekend, a self-described curvy British bike rider recites the pain the comes from being told to get “off the fucking road you fat bitch” by a pair of spandexed riders.

Then later on the same ride, she’s told to “get that fat ass up here” by another.

Seriously.

I remember a few years back, I was riding along the beach when I came upon an extremely large woman riding with a friend. Someone whose weight could have easily been measured in the multiple hundreds of pounds.

I admit, my first thought was how ridiculous she looked atop that tiny bike.

Then I shamed myself with my second, as I realized the courage it took for her to get out there and risk the ridicule of total strangers. And how she could be saving her own life by riding that bike, improving her health with every pedal stroke.

And that, if she kept it up, she might not be that large for long.

I kept those thoughts to myself.

But as I passed, I gave her a smile, along with the same nod I would any other rider. Because she was one of us, just as much as any fixie rider or spandexed roadie.

And maybe more so, because it took more effort just to get on that bike to begin with.

So if you see someone whose body doesn’t fit your image of what a bike rider should be, give him or her a nod or smile, or a maybe a word of encouragement.

And if you can’t manage that, just keep your damn mouth shut.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

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Aussie rider Rohan Dennis is one of the favorites in the USA Pro Challenge that kicks off today, after achieving all of his long-range goals in just six months; the three-day women’s tour starts Friday.

The young Norwegians are coming on strong.

And Tour de France winner Chris Froome wants to be the spokesman for clean cycling. Which is only a little ironic since so many fans — and at least one previous winner — accused him of cheating during the tour.

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Local

The Times offers a look at the Rowena road diet as a model for what the new Mobility Plan hopes to achieve. Let’s not forget that reducing serious collisions benefits motorists, too.

LA Times’ reader’s react to the passage of the plan with a couple of well thought-out letters. Then there’s the other kind, with one saying getting people out of their cars is like trying to get Charlton Heston to give up his guns, and another suggesting we should emulate Shanghai’s switch from bikes to cars — neglecting to mention that didn’t turn out so well. Thanks to John Lloyd for the last link.

A writer in the Daily News says rip out all those road diets and the bike lanes that came with them to make more room for cars.

Three groups have just 23 days to raise funds for their Great Streets challenge grants, including a musical intersection at Florence and Crenshaw and a complete streets demo on Cesar Chavez.

 

State

A San Diego woman was seriously injured when she reportedly turned her bike into the path of a tow truck after she’d been drinking, although the description of the collision just doesn’t add up. Thanks to San Diego’s Mark Ganzer for trying to help figure this one out.

Virgin Atlantic lists the ten best bikeways in San Diego.

A Fremont cyclist was killed when he — allegedly — suddenly turned into the path of a car. In the absence of independent witnesses, in many cases like this, it’s more likely the driver simply didn’t see the bike rider in front of them until it was too late.

Marin County is about to open a 17 acre bike park.

 

National

A Maui letter writer asks the mayor why volcano bike tours are allowed to endanger the lives of local residents. Although it sound like the real danger comes from impatient drivers.

An SMU student’s design for a portable, inflatable bike rack, which took second place in the university’s innovation competition, ships this month after a successful Kickstarter campaign. So what the heck finished first?

Big hearted Omaha gang detectives buy a kid a new bike after he scrapes his knee trying to ride a girl’s bike with a flat tire.

This is why people continue to die on our roads. An allegedly drunk Iowa driver fled the scene after running down three cyclists on a group ride; he had a previous conviction for DUI, as well as convictions for drug offenses, assault and child endangerment. Yet somehow, he was allowed to keep driving until he nearly killed someone.

The Amish in Kentucky have recently received the okay to ride their bikes, much to the consternation of local drivers.

Sad news from Rhode Island, as an 80-year old masters racer died after crashing into the back of a truck that had broken down on the side of the road.

It’s not fast delivery if it never gets there; a New York e-bike delivery man was arrested for riding salmon through the Holland Tunnel.

Props to a Virginia driver for rushing an injured hit-and-run victim to the hospital. On the other hand, don’t just leave the guy’s bike lying in the middle of the street.

The family of a cyclist murdered by a homeless man while riding from Maine to Florida to propose to his girlfriend last year plan to finish the ride in his honor.

 

International

More problems for the upcoming Rio Olympics, as a team of photographers were mugged while covering a road cycling test, after the route was changed to accommodate a street protest.

A writer for the Guardian says it’s not satanic to say cyclists get a raw deal. It’s actually a pretty good look at the polarization of modern society. And equally valid on both sides of the Atlantic.

Heartbreaking story from the UK, as some low-life scum stole the bike a seven-year old girl was given as a birthday present by her father, who died just 12 weeks ago.

A group of British bystanders may have saved the life of a critically injured 18-year old cyclist by lifting a car off him after he was struck during a sportive ride.

Long promised Brit bikeways were never built because infrastructure for cars is considered a national priority, while bikes aren’t.

Something’s going on in Helsinki. A bus drove into a crowd of bicyclists protesting the road rage death of a bicyclist earlier in the week, followed by a fight between the driver and protesters.

The bike boom is even spreading to Putin’s Russia.

In a truly sickening case, 13 Bangladeshi men have been arrested for torturing and killing a 13-year old boy suspected of stealing a bike, and posting the video online.

Austrian doctors urge the country to dump its mandatory helmet law, saying it’s keeping people off their bikes. And an Aussie researcher says the country’s roads are fundamentally unsafe, and big decisions have to be made about the real value of on-street parking. Seriously, is a more convenient parking space worth a human life?

The Thai crown prince leads thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of cyclists on a ride honoring his mom’s 83rd birthday.

 

Finally…

Can you really call it a cycle superhighway if it’s just a third of a mile long? A judge with a keen insight into the law says a father went to far when he bashed a helmeted cyclist over the head with a wrench. Gee, you think?

And don’t even think about riding your bike naked in Anchorage.

 

Newport Beach bike rider dies after fall, apparently due to natural causes

Another cyclist has died on the streets of Southern California.

For once, though, no one seems to be at fault.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a 61-year old Costa Mesa man apparently fell off his bike while riding in Newport Beach; sadly, he passed away after being taken to Hoag Hospital.

The Orange County Register reports that police responded to word of a collision on Jamboree Road north of San Joaquin Hills Road at 10:32 am Thursday.

When they arrived, they found the victim in the roadway with no sign of a collision. He appeared to have suffered some sort of medical emergency and stuck his head while falling; no word on whether he was wearing a helmet.

It’s not clear whether his death was due to the head injury or some other cause. An autopsy will be performed later this week.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County. That compares to 47 in SoCal this time last year, and ten in the county.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

 

Today’s post, in which I talk pain and what the hell is wrong with me

When I started this website over six years ago, the first decision I made was that it was not about me, but rather, about bicycling. If I did write about myself, it was in the service of a larger point. 

Today, I’m breaking that rule. 

If there’s a larger message to come out of this, I don’t know what it is. 

I have struggled with whether to write this. But I have been open in discussing my diabetes up to this point; to not finish the story seems somehow dishonest.

And it affects my ability to maintain this site and bring you the bike news you’ve come to expect.

So if you’re interested, read on. If not, no hard feelings; feel free to skip it and come back another time.

Either way, we’ll be back to discussing bikes in the next post. And you can find today’s Morning Links here

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Let’s talk pain.

As a long-time cyclist, I thought I knew what it meant to suffer.

From the pain of struggling to make it up a tough climb or somehow make it back home when you ran out of gas miles before. To nursing bruised and broken bones and flesh, or debriding a massive case of road rash.

But nothing I’ve been through in 30-plus years of adult riding — or anything that came before — prepared me for what I’ve experienced this past summer, and the months since.

But at least now it has a name.

Diabetic Amyotrophy, to be exact.

Which means I beat the odds once again. First by developing diabetes without any of the usual risk factors other than a family history. Then developing a form of diabetic neuropathy that affects just 1% of adult diabetics.

I should play the lottery more often.

Unlike most medical conditions, it’s easy to point to when it began. According to my calendar, I took my last recreational bike ride in mid-June; my last ride for transportation at the end of July, as the pain started taking over my life and forcing me off my bike.

Surprisingly — both to me and my doctors — it came as I was gaining control over my diabetes.

When I was first diagnosed in April, I had an A1C — the key marker of diabetes, measuring blood sugar levels over a three-month period — of 14.5. A figure that was, quite literally, off the charts, as I discovered recently when I noticed the graph on my doctor’s wall only goes up to 12.5.

In fact, one of my doctors — I have a virtual peloton of physicians these days — said the biggest surprise was I hadn’t ended up in diabetic coma. Or worse.

No wonder I’d felt like crap.

Yet, despite being repeatedly told it would be impossible, I was able to bring my blood sugar back down to normal levels less than three months after my diagnoosis. My most recent A1C was just 5.8 — a level that would be on the high end of the normal range for a non-diabetic.

And through diet and medication alone, without having to go on insulin.

In fact, low blood sugar is a more of a problem these days, as I have to carefully monitor myself to keep from crashing.

As my diabetes improved, though, the pain increased. Until it became the single defining factor affecting my life.

My doctor advised me to just wait it out, guessing that it was my body’s reaction to lowering my blood sugar too far too fast. And that it would simply go away in time.

Instead, it continued to get worse. So I finally got a referral to a physician specializing in diabetes, and was lucky to find one who takes the Sherlock Holmes approach to diagnostics.

As in, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

So we began a months-long journey through a wide range of exotic blood and neurological tests in an attempt to discover what it wasn’t. Including some very scary things.

And once everything else had been considered and dismissed, we were left with this:

Diabetic amyotrophy, also known as proximal diabetic neuropathy, diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy, and diabetic polyradiculoneuropathy, occurs in patients with diabetes (more likely in those with type II than type I). It usually involves weakness followed by wasting of muscles, and excruciating pain in the muscles of the thigh, hip, and buttocks.

Bingo. Although excruciating is putting it mildly.

What it doesn’t mention, though, is that the pain comes in three distinct flavors.

The first is a constant burning or freezing sensation in my feet, like they’re alternately on fire or encased in a block of ice.

Next comes uncontrollable muscle spasms in my calves and thighs lasting hours at a time, and resulting in a sensation like the lactic acid build-up that follows a hard ride. But many times worse.

Finally, I’m subject to intense, sudden shocks that come with no warning, strong enough to drop a grown man — namely me — to his knees. And striking anywhere from the waist down.

And I do mean anywhere.

Yes, even there.

You know those movies where they torture someone by shocking him with a car battery? My body doesn’t need any help to torture me. I can do that all by myself, without the need for external electricity.

The pain is constant, without relief, ranging from moderate to, by far, the worst pain I’ve ever felt, feared or imagined. Sometimes it’s just one of the three forms, at other times, all three at once.

And it’s worse at night. Much worse.

Which meant I spent most of my summer on the couch; awake all night from the pain, trying, usually unsuccessfully, not to wake my wife in the next room with my muffled cries of pain. Then curled up in a ball all day desperately trying to get the sleep I didn’t get the night before.

Relief, when it finally came, was in the form of a powerful anti-seizure medication used off-label for neuropathic pain. But it would only help for a day or two, at best, as my doctor slowly ratcheted up the dosage.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that it finally reached a level that offered any significant help. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but on a good day, helps bring it down to a more tolerable level.

Not that there are many of those.

Or more precisely, there are bad days, and less bad days.

On better days, I can function almost normally for a few hours, though even just going shopping with my wife is enough to wear me out. Going out on my own, unsupervised, requires cutting back on the amount of medication I take, and accepting the pain that comes with it.

And overdoing it means a relentless bout of pain that can last for days; it took over a week to get it back under control after spending just a few hours at the LACBC’s Firefly Ball recently.

There’s also a fine line between taking enough medication to control the pain and being unable to function. Too little and the pain knocks me on my ass; too much and I’m a virtual zombie until it finally wears off.

And even then, there’s no guarantee it will be enough to overcome the pain.

As a result, I’ve been unable to work, since I can’t commit to being anywhere, or being conscious enough to meet a deadline. Or guarantee that my head will be clear enough to be productive or that the pain won’t drive me back to bed.

Not that I have work to do. In fact, I haven’t worked a single day since the onset of my diabetes towards the end of last year.

Or an hour, for that matter.

It’s also kept me from making the changes I’ve wanted to this website; usually, it’s all I can do just to keep it going every day.

Or almost every day, as you may have noticed. Some days I’m just not up to the simple act of pounding out a new post.

And it’s kept me off my bike for nearly four months. While I’m determined to get back to riding, I don’t know when that will happen. Or if I can ever get back to riding the way I used to.

My life is now centered, not on the things I used to do, but the pills I have to take.

I’m finally starting to accept that.

Up to now, I’ve been fighting to overcome my pain and get back to normal. Now I’ve finally accepted that isn’t going to happen.

This is my new normal.

I have to accept that this is a chronic, and possibly permanent, condition. It may go away on its own someday, just as unexpectedly as it came on. Or it may be something I have to deal with all day, every day, for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that I’m stronger than I thought I was. And I can endure more than I thought was humanly possible.

My challenge now is to find a way to live my life, regardless of what’s going on with my body. What that means, I have no idea.

But I’m looking forward to finding out.

And other people have overcome far worse.

 

Today’s post, in which I win the genetic lottery, or why you haven’t seen me on my bike — or anywhere else — lately

These numbers now run my life, not the ones found on my bike computer.

Well that sucks.

I’ve ridden a bike for most of my adult life, in part, to avoid the heart disease that killed my father, and the diabetes my mother suffered from for over 40 years.

My heart is fine.

My mother developed Type 2 diabetes in her 40s, after struggling with her weight most of her adult life. And my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family suffered from Type 1 her entire life, even though she was so skinny she’d disappear if she turned sideways.

Despite that, I’d been assured by countless doctors over the years that my high fitness level, combined with a bout with hypoglycemia — basically, the opposite of diabetes — in my 20s meant I had little risk of developing the disease.

So much for that.

In retrospect, the first clue something was wrong came when my weight dropped from a muscular 185 to a still fit 160. Something I put off to the stress of dealing with the dramatic decline in income as my copywriting clients cut back on advertising, and the contacts I’ve built over my career were laid off or moved on to other jobs.

I also had trouble building and maintaining muscle, having to ride longer and harder just to stay at the same level, which I assumed was just part of getting older.

Then last summer, I started having difficulty sleeping at night and staying awake during the day, something I once again put off to stress.

I often found myself feeling too tired to ride, my mileage dropping from over a hundred miles a week to maybe 50 to 60 on a good month.

In fact, I was tired all the time. I would get up in the morning, walk the dog, then go back to sleep for another couple hours. And sometimes sleep again in the afternoon, and doze off with my computer on my lap while writing at night.

I sometimes found myself dressed and ready to ride, only to put my bike back up and go back for a nap. Even driving wasn’t an option, too tired to feel safe behind the wheel.

Note to motorists: If you’re not alert behind the wheel, you don’t belong there. Period.

Then after the past holiday season, things took a nose dive.

My weight dropped again, until I weighed just 150 pounds — something I hadn’t seen since I was a 5’2” defensive tackle in junior high school. And whatever muscle I had left melted away, taking my energy with it.

In other words, I lost my ass. Literally.

As well as every other muscle in my body, including those legs I’d proudly honed for over 30 years, until I looked more like my grandmother than I ever wanted.

I cancelled meetings, even ones I was supposed to lead. And stayed home planning to write or work on this site instead, only to accomplish little or nothing. After all, it’s hard to get any work done when you’re sleeping or too tired to think.

A trip to the doctor, followed by a blood test, only confirmed what, by then, I already knew.

I had inherited my mother’s illness, to go along with the devilish good looks and rapier wit I got from my dad.

I’m diabetic.

Type 2, to be exact. Although my doctor is reluctant to call it that because I’m so far out of the norm for that disease, dramatically underweight instead of over.

In the last 10 days, since I got the diagnosis, my life has changed dramatically.

I’ve gone from eating as much as I want because I knew I’d burn it off riding, to carefully structured meals with limited portions. From a diet rich in whole grains to one in which I have to count every carb.

I’ve gotten used to being hungry most of the time. As well as testing my blood multiple times a day to determine what effect what I last ate had on my blood sugar levels.

Meanwhile, I’d kill for a decent beer. Or a crappy one, for that matter.

And a cinnamon roll, please.

My already low energy levels have crashed; even walking the few blocks to the corner drugstore can be exhausting. Which means my bike sits in my office where it’s been since CicLAvia, waiting for the day I feel strong enough to get back on it.

And how I’m going to pay for it, I have no idea. Even with my wife’s insurance, I’ve added over $100 a month in prescription costs alone. Not to mention countless co-pays for all those doctor visits.

On the plus side, I’m not on insulin. Yet.

Between diet and medication, I’ve got my blood sugar down from a resting count north of 400 —over four times what it should be — to 250. Still dangerously high, but moving in the right direction. And I’ll be meeting with a dietician this week to try and work out a meal plan that will allow me to put weight back on and get back into shape without causing my levels to spike.

And maybe I won’t be so hungry all the time.

On the other hand, I’m feeling, if not good, at least better than I have in months, and back to doing most of my sleeping at night and in bed. And I’m hoping to be back on my bike in time for Bike Week next month.

Although all most of my bikewear now falls off my overly skinny ass. So if any bike shops or manufacturers want to trade some smaller kits for an ad on here, let me know.

As for the long-term, my doctor says my chances of overcoming this are somewhere south of zero. Which means, at best, a lifetime of glucose monitoring and watching what I eat; at worst, the same insulin dependency my mother lived with until the day she died.

But it is a manageable condition. And something I can live it.

Which is good, since I may not have any choice.

One thing bicycling has taught me, though, is that I can do anything I set my mind to. Whether it’s getting up that hill or somehow pedaling back home when I’m too exhausted to turn the crank another time.

So I will be back on my bike. If not now, then soon. And riding at the same level I always have. If not better.

And if this can be beaten, I will.

If not, it sure as hell isn’t going to beat me.

 

Today’s post, in which I repeat myself and offer my heartfelt thanks

I don’t often repost something I’ve written before. 

In fact, I recall doing it just once before, when I repeated the Father’s Day post thanking the man who instilled my lifelong love of bike riding. 

But I’m going to make an exception today.

Because it was exactly one year ago that my wife nearly died from a heart attack that seemed to come out of the blue — although in retrospect, there were warning signs. As there usually are, if you know what to look for.

What you’ll see below is probably the most heartfelt piece I ever have ever written. Or ever will.

And the message is still worth considering.

Because you never know where life will take you.

Or your loved ones.

……..

Before you ride, before you work, before it’s too late

I almost lost my wife today.

Not the way I often do at the mall, where her petite five-foot frame too easily disappears behind department store racks.

And not the way I sometimes fear, when I foolishly question whether love is stronger than the anger that never fails to fade following a fight.

This time the heart I fell in love with gave out without a warning.

Or rather, without one we heeded.

Like the odd pain she complained about last night, that felt like someone punching her between the shoulder blades.

Or this morning, when she was too tired to help make the bed. Something we put off to a long standing iron deficiency still awaiting approval for another round of treatment.

But off to work she went, just like any other day.

Then a little after noon, she told her boss she wasn’t feeling well. Moments later, she was passed out at her desk.

Fortunately, the people she works with found her right away, and knew exactly what to do. And within minutes, paramedics from the Beverly Hills Fire Department had her on a gurney and on her way the ER, red lights and siren blaring.

She was already in surgery before I was halfway to the hospital.

That was followed by a tense couple hours in the waiting room, surrounded by strangers with worried faces just like mine, waiting for word on loved ones of their own.

A steady parade of physicians walked through the door, calling names that weren’t mine. And breaking news that brought smiles to faces that weren’t mine, either.

Finally I heard my name, and looked up as a doctor in surgical scrubs beckoned me down a hall leading to the cardiac ICU.

His words didn’t make me smile. That heart I loved was badly broken.

But unlike Humpty Dumpty, they were able to put it back together again. And the prognosis, thankfully, is good.

Only time will tell how much damage was done. If any.

Her life will be different. She’ll be on medication for the foreseeable future, and under the care of a cardiologist for life.

But at least she’ll have one. And I’ll still have her.

It could have been different.

If her coworkers had been at lunch. If the hospital had been farther away. If it had happened tonight, when I would have been away at a meeting, and she would have been home alone, with only the dog to call 911.

And the dog can’t reach the phone. Even if she did know how.

As cyclists, we accept a certain degree of risk. We understand that bad things can happen when we ride, but probably won’t.

And we get angry when it does, usually to someone else. Maybe because we’ve all had enough close calls to know it could be us, some other place, some other time.

People are fragile.

And bad things can happen to anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.

And sometimes, there’s no second chance to say the things you wish you’d said.

So say them. Please.

Now.

Take a moment to tell the people you love that you do. Before you ride. Before you go to work. Before it’s too late.

Because one day, hopefully not soon, it will be.

Tonight I’m going to sleep in an empty bed, with just the dog to keep me warm. And my heart will be miles away, badly broken. But getting better.

And thankfully, that bed won’t be empty long.

……..

A year later, the news is good.

Whatever damage there was to her heart has healed almost completely. And she is back to where she was before a blood clot nearly took her life. 

But they never figured out why it happened, as she had none of the common factors that normally lead to clotting or cardiac arrest. Which means that it could happen again at any time, for whatever reason.

Or it could have been a one time thing that will never repeat.

I’m hoping for the latter.

But let it be a reminder to you, as it is to me, every day, that life is short. And the people in your life precious and irreplaceable.

And far more important than all the things and worries and events that too often distract us.

So take a moment to remember who you love, and why. Then let them know.

It may be the most important thing you do today.

And you may not get another chance.

……..

One more thought.

I love what I do. This blog is my passion, and one day soon, it will, hopefully, be my job.

Even when the writing is hard, and the subject painful, there is nothing I would rather do. But writing is meaningless without readers.

So whether this is your first time here, or you’ve been with me since the beginning, please accept my sincere thanks, from as deep within my soul as I’m capable of.

Because without you, nothing I do here matters at all.

Thank you.

Owner of PV Bicycle Center died while riding in Malibu Hills last weekend

Just getting word this morning that Steve Bowen, owner of the PV Bicycle Center, died of an apparent hear attack while riding above Malibu on Sunday.

Bowen was reportedly climbing up a hill with a friend when he collapsed, and a passing motorist flagged his companion down to tell her he’d fallen. A physician stopped and attempted to revive him, without success.

I won’t waste your time trying to tell you more about Bowen or what happened to him. To the best of my knowledge, I never had the privilege of meeting the man; Seth Davidson of Cycling in the South Bay did, and writes far more beautifully than I ever could about the loss of his friend.

Read it, and you’ll understand why I regret not knowing him. And why the local cycling community will be poorer for his loss.

Bowen was the 74th cyclist to die in Southern California this year, excluding gunshot victims, and the 24th in Los Angeles County, matching the total for last year as well as the average for the past six years. And he is at least the third rider to die of natural causes in SoCal this year; it’s likely that others have, as well, but have not been publicly reported.

I include deaths from natural causes in the fatality totals since in many, if not most, cases, it’s impossible to determine if riding or a fall from the bike contributed to the physical events leading up to the death, or if they were what cause could have triggered a heart attack or stroke; however, that does not appear to have happened in this case.

But to avoid splitting hairs to a near-infinite degree, I now include all deaths from any cause other than gunshots in these totals, which is why they are unlikely to match the figures from law enforcement or highway safety agencies.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Steve Bowen, and all his family and loved ones. Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

The health benefits of biking, and a call to be careful riding today

I’m on the run today, so my apologies for not offering a full update this morning.

But I didn’t want to let the week pass without offering this thought about the health benefits of bicycling from Michael Eisenberg.

Glad to hear your wife is recovering. I had a heart incident a couple of years ago. Since then, I’ve taken up cycling, including commuting 30 miles round trip every day, and weekend rides like today’s 70 miler. I’ve lost 64 lbs, lowered my blood pressure to the point that I no longer take BP medications, lowered my blood sugar to normal numbers even after discontinuing diabetes medication, and improved my cholesterol numbers to well within normal too.  Keep preaching.

There are lots of reasons to ride.

But whether you’re riding for fun, exercise, transportation or any other reason, you’re saving your own life with every pedal stroke you take.

And that’s a good thing.

………

One other quick note.

Today is the last working day for a lot of people before Christmas. And that means a lot of office parties, and people getting off work early and starting their holiday celebrations on the way home.

So if you’re riding any time after noon today, ride defensively. And assume every driver you meet on the road has been drinking.

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