Archive for Bicycle Safety

Popular bikeway to remain open this weekend, scholarship fund for fallen cyclist, and your Morning Links

Pete van Nuys, Executive Director of the Orange County Bicycle Coalition, sends word that the popular Pacific Coast Bike Route will remain open this weekend, despite the scheduled Ironman race.

After months of emails and the threat of lawsuit, organizers of the Ironman 70.3 race through Camp Pendleton have agreed to assign volunteer course marshals at the south end of San Clemente to permit regular bicycle traffic between that city and Oceanside.

In recent years Caltrans in San Diego has been issuing permits to the event which has become increasingly possessive of the only connection between Orange and San Diego Counties for 100 miles.

Those permits violate Streets and Highways Code 888, intended to assure citizens that when Caltrans builds a freeway it will not sever connections for non-motorized travelers.

The I-5 freeway alternate is the popular Old Hwy 101 to Las Pulgas, through a portion of the Marine base. When the Marines close it for maneuvers Caltrans routinely opens the shoulders of I-5 for bicyclists. But the race permit even closed those shoulders, stranding bicyclists in Oceanside and San Clemente for up to 5 hours. With little or no notice riders from LA County usually had no choice but to turn around.

Thanks to the hard work of Seth Cutter, Bicycle Coordinator for Caltrans San Diego, the agency convinced Ironman to do what most bike race organizers do: use course marshals to cross civilian bikes and peds. Caltrans is posting signs alerting motorists to bicycle presence. And anyone riding to San Diego’s Bikes & Beers event should find the route open fast along I-5′s shoulders all the way to Oceanside.

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Australian cyclist James Rapley lost his like while biking in LA.

Australian cyclist James Rapley lost his like while biking in Los Angeles.

A memorial website and scholarship fund have been set up in honor of Australian cyclist James Rapley, killed while riding on Temescal Canyon last December.

If you want to grasp just an inkling of the love a parent has for his son — and the enormity of that loss — take a moment to read that page and browse through the website.

As you may recall, Rapley was on an extended layover at LAX on his way home from his new job in Chicago to join his family back in Seymour, a small country town in Victoria. So early in the morning of December 22nd — the last Sunday before Christmas — he rented a bike and took off to explore the beachfront bike path from LAX to the Palisades.

It must have seemed magical to ride along the nearly deserted beach at that early hour. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning myself.

For some reason, he made a detour onto Temescal Canyon; maybe he wanted the challenge of the steep uphill after the easy ride along the coast. I often do the same, even though it’s not a comfortable bike lane, as drivers frequently go too fast around the sweeping curves, and cut into the bike lane regardless of whether anyone is in it.

In other words, what followed could have happened to me. Or to any of us.

As Rapley rode in the bike lane, doing absolutely nothing wrong, he was struck from behind by an allegedly drunk, and possibly texting, 19-year old driver. He died there on the side of the road; I can only imagine his final thoughts, 8,000 miles from home and the loved ones who were eagerly awaiting him.

I’m told his family has dug deep to fund the scholarship, to be given to a rural student studying engineering or science at Melbourne University, as Rapley had done. But it will take a lot more money to make the scholarship a success, and honor a good and cringe man who should still be with us.

I’d love to see some significant donations come from here in LA. It’s the last place he ever saw, and we owe him and his family a debt we can never repay.

My wallet is pretty anorexic right now, but I’m going to do my best to send a little something their way. I think we owe him that.

Meanwhile, I’ve started making inquiries about how we can convert the bike lane he was riding in into the state’s first parking protected bike lane. It will take a change in state law, which currently requires cars to be parked within 18 inches of a curb.

But this is an ideal location for it, with no cross streets from PCH to Palisades High School, roughly 3/4 of a mile up the hill. And it would, for large portions of the day, help eliminate the risk riders currently face from aggressive and distracted drivers with little respect for a line a paint.

Because the best way we can honor James Rapley is to ensure it never happens to anyone again.

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This sort of things always pisses me off.

A friend of mine reports she was assaulted while riding in Huntington Beach over the weekend when a group of idiots in a passing car threw a cup of ice at her, hitting her on the ass.

The good news is, she was able to maintain control of her bike and avoid a potentially dangerous fall, making it nothing more than a major annoyance. The bad news is, she wasn’t able to get a license number or good description of the car, so the jerks remain free to do it again to someone else.

For anyone unclear on the subject, throwing anything at a bike rider runs the risk that they might lose control and fall, or swerve into traffic or parked cars in an attempt to get away. The result can be serious injury, whether or not that was the intent of the attacker.

And it takes a real jackass to attack a woman riding alone after dark.

Then again, harassment isn’t reserved just for women riders.

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Local

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton calls for a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths in the City of Angels. Now will our new mayor or council members step up to answer the call?

Metro’s Bike Week website is up. If you want to find me that Tuesday, I’ll be at the blessing of the bicycles.

LADOT Bike Blog looks at the problem of dooring. but let’s not forget that drivers are almost always at fault for dooring, since they’re required ensure that it’s reasonably safe and doesn’t interfere with other traffic before opening their door. And then, only as long as necessary.

A hero cyclist helps a Santa Monica woman recover her phone from a thief.

There are things you see while bicycling that should be seen by more.

 

State

California considers language that could bar bikes from most off-road trails.

Temecula could vote to support Federal legislation to create long-term, low interest loans to build biking and walking networks.

A close encounter of the potentially stinky kind.

A $9.4 million temporary bike path on the Bay Bridge will be torn down to be replaced with a permanent structure.

 

National

People for Bikes debunks the myths non-riders too often use against us; the answer for “Bicyclists think they own the road” could have been a lot better, though.

Bicycling says you may be getting too much sugar.

Evidently, life is cheap in Ohio, as a doctor gets a whopping 15 days in jail for seriously injuring a cyclist while driving drunk. Why should drivers take drunk driving laws seriously when the courts don’t?

A Louisiana schmuck driver faces charges for running over a four-year old bike rider while fleeing from police; the child suffered moderate to severe injuries.

 

International

The UK renews a campaign calling for cyclists and motorists to “Think! Cyclist” after a successful campaign that may not have changed anyone’s behavior.

Turns out Dickens — yes, that Dickens — supported safe and courteous cycling.

Customers of a Yorkshire paperboy pitch in to buy him a new bike when his is stolen while he was delivering his route.

An Aussie blog asks — and answers — what is a cyclist? My answer is a lot simpler; you’re a cyclist whenever you’re on or with your bike, just as you’re a motorist when you’re driving your car.

 

Finally…

Everyone needs a leather banana holder for their bike, right?

 

A year in jail for killer Moorpark driver, cyclist hit by Maserati on Rock Store climb, and your Morning Links

Somehow, this one fell through the cracks last month.

Susan Levy, a cousin of fallen Moorpark cyclist Bernie Cooper’s widow, reported that the driver who killed him pled guilty to felony hit-and-run and two related misdemeanor counts.

Twenty-two year old Ridgecrest resident Nicholas Santiago was sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation.

Santiago hit Cooper’s bike as he was riding on Tierra Rejada Road with enough force that Cooper’s body was thrown into a nearby tree. Santiago fled the scene, but apparently had a change of heart and returned half an hour later to accept responsibility.

Thanks to Levy for keeping us in the loop. And my apologies for the delay in reporting this.

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Reports are a cyclist was airlifted to a hospital after being struck by a Maserati on the Rock Store Climb — aka the Snake — on Mulholland yesterday morning. No word on the condition of the rider.

Paul Herold, the famed photographer who documents the activity on that contested stretch of roadway — and offered advice here on how to stay safe there — somehow managed to capture the male victim in midair following the initial impact. Personally, I think it’s in poor taste to post a photo of someone in the process of being injured, so use your own judgment on whether to click the link.

However, it should also be noted that Herold was seen comforting the victim until help arrived.

And of course, the comments devolve into whether cyclists should be allowed on the crowded roadway, especially on weekends. A better question is why speeding motorists are allowed to test their limited skills there.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the links.

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Interesting idea. Denver has an Amber Alert-type system to warn the public to be on the watch for hit-and-run vehicles, called a Medina Alert. Oregon is considering a similar system, which was named after a 21-year old man killed in a hit-and-run.

Maybe we should push our City Council members and state legislators to get a similar system in place here. Especially one that notifies every body shop to be on the lookout for a car matching the description of the suspect vehicle — with serious penalties for failing to report it the police.

Of course, the problem with any citywide program is that drivers could sidestep the law by taking their vehicles across the city limit, where compliance would be voluntary rather than mandatory.

On the other hand, the city can usually move much faster than the lumbering state legislature to get something like that in place.

Thanks to our anonymous OC/South Bay source for the tip.

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Local

Friday’s Critical Mass will honor hit-and-run victims with a candlelight vigil.

A LAPD officer and a bike rider both suffered injuries in a South LA fight after the rider refused to accept a vehicle code citation. Or maybe they’re predicting the future, since the article — dated today — says the fight occurred, or maybe will occur, at 9:35 tonight. Though I assume they meant last night.

Outside Magazine looks at the recent uncanceled Marathon Crash ride, while the LA Weekly offers a comparison of the Ballona Creek bike path and the Elysian Valley section of the LA River bike path.

Errands by bike are easier when you add the Red Line to your route.

USC’s Neon Tommy looks at the benefits and challenges of riding in LA, and offers a vision for the future.

Cynergy Cycles offers a free seminar on making extreme cycling events easier with science on Wednesday.

If you still give a damn about the Lance Armstong saga, the Times reviews two new books on the subject.

Long Beach’s Charlie Gandy offers a detailed look at the city’s streetdecks.

 

State

More proof that bike riders aren’t always the good guys as a Riverside County cyclist stabs a driver in the neck and steals his vehicle.

A 23-year old driver turns himself in for killing a cyclist in a Half Moon Bay hit-and-run. Maybe he had enough time to sober up before coming forward.

Fruit of the poisonous tree? A Napa man is arrested for meth possession after being stopped for texting while riding his bike. Except texting on a bike isn’t illegal in California, which could call the stop and everything that followed into question if he has a good lawyer.

A Yuba City program teaches people with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheeled bike independently; I’d love to see a program like that here. And everywhere.

A local cyclist with nearly 50-years riding experience writes the book on Northern California’s best riding routes.

 

National

A Tucson women develops an LED/reflective harness to improve bike and pedestrian safety.

Tulsa gets its first mile-long bike lanes following a road diet; do I really have to say some residents aren’t happy?

An Ohio rider is killed by a 78-year old driver while on a 200-mile group ride.

New York’s highly successful and suddenly embattled bike share program faces a possible cash shortfall, as the mayor refuses a bailout and Alta is accused of shoddy maintenance.  But if it survives, you can (illegally) add an e-motor to your rental ride for just $1,350.

CNN looks at New York’s Worksman Industrial Cycles, the oldest large-scale bike manufacturer that actually makes its bikes in the US, in operation since 1898.

 

International

Huh? A Hamilton Canada letter writer says don’t build bike lanes to make bicycling safer because it’s too dangerous for motorists when cyclists ride in the winter. Oh, and fix those damn potholes first.

Tragic news from across the Atlantic as a British father of three is killed by an 18-year old drunk driver while on a 24-hour, 248-mile solo charity ride. He’d hoped to raise £1000 for the mental health charity; after his death, over £40,000 in donations have poured in. A 19-year old man has also been arrested.

The UK’s Independent looks at the rise of the female cyclist, while two teenage girls have been arrested for attempting to decapitate one.

My favorite Scottish bike blogger writes about getting caught in a stinging rain and offers advice for surviving such. And appropriately closes with this line: “Anyone commenting to the effect that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, will be hunted down and drowned.”

Copenhagenize conducts a little bike archeology, and comes up with 10 former bike features worth reviving.

A Philippines congressman calls for bike lanes on the country’s major thoroughfares.

A Bangkok airport offers bike riders a new 14-mile off-road bikeway.

 

Finally…

In a man bites dog twist, a Florida man was arrested for leaving the scene after drunkenly colliding with a SUV.  On a bike. And in a case of man bites cop, a  Sacramento rider is under arrest for biting the officer who tried to stop him for a traffic violation, and assaulting another.

Makes that South LA case look pretty tame.

15-year old bike rider killed in Fountain Valley, just days before his birthday

Ghost bike for Sean Severson; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Ghost bike for Sean Severson; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Every death on our streets is needless tragedy. Every fallen rider a heartbreaking loss.

But some tug a little harder at the heartstrings.

Like when a young boy with a lifetime of possibilities is taken from us before he can even grow up or become who he was destined to be.

On Thursday, 15-year old Sean Severson was hit and killed while riding his bike in Fountain Valley at 7:47 am, most likely while on his way to school.

According to a press release from the Fountain Valley Police Department, Severson was riding along the west curb line of Bushard Street north of Rose Avenue when he rode out into the traffic lane and was hit by a Volvo Sedan.

The report doesn’t say why he went out into the traffic lane, or wether he was riding with or against traffic, rear-ended or hit head on.

He was transported to a local hospital in critical condition; according to the Orange County Coroner’s office, he died at 11:50 am this morning, just four days short of his 16th birthday.

The driver remained at the scene, and there was no suspicion of drug or alcohol use. Anyone with information is urged to call the Fountain Valley Police Department at 714-593-4484.

This is the 26th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County.

I’m told a ghost bike will be installed for Sean on Saturday morning.

This one will devastate a lot of people, including his schoolmates, as well as those of us who never knew him.

And now never will.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Sean Severson and all his family and loved ones. 

Update: I’m told by Danny Gamboa that there are no brake marks on the street anywhere near where the collision occurred, indicating that the driver made no attempt to stop. Which suggests that Severson either made a last-second swerve to the left that the driver was unable to avoid, or that the driver never saw him.

Unfortunately, Sean isn’t around to tell his version of events.

Update: BMX rider killed riding against traffic in Twentynine Palms Thursday night

A salmon cyclist was killed in Twentynine Palms last night.

According to the Hi Desert Star, a 32-year old man, whose identity has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was riding against traffic on the north shoulder of Valley Vista Road west of Sherman Hoyt Road at 8:31 pm, when he reportedly attempted to cross the road. Note: The coroner’s office lists the victim’s age as 31.

He was struck by a westbound car driven by 31-year old Ann Marie Platzke of Twentynine Palms. The story inexplicably says he was struck from behind, which would be impossible given that they were traveling towards one another.

Other sources suggest the collision was head-on, which makes more sense. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:03 pm.

Investigators found an open container of alcohol near the victim, implying that he may have been riding under the influence, which is illegal under California law.

Drunk or not, the victim should have been able to see a car approaching directly in front of him on such a flat, straight road. Why he might have attempted to cross the road at that point will remain a tragic mystery.

This is the 25th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in San Bernardino County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 31-year old Micky James Mroz of Lucerne Valley. 

My prayers and sympathy for Micky James Mroz and his loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Santa Monica police blame the victim in a new bike safety video, two better videos and your Morning Links

Santa Monica police are offering up a new PSA suggesting that stopping for stop signs while riding a bike is child’s play. And the best way to ensure you’ll get home to yours.

Children, that is.

It’s not like their message isn’t reasonable — both the law and common sense dictate that we should observe traffic signals just like anyone else. But while they’ve undoubtedly scored points with bike-hating residents, they could have done a lot more good by focusing on the need for motorists to pay attention and drive safely around bike riders.

Which is what share the road really means, despite the way some drivers — and police departments, apparently — try to twist it these days.

After all, even the most dangerous cyclists pose a risk primarily to themselves, while dangerous drivers pose a risk to everyone around them.

I don’t have any records on what may have caused bike injury collisions in Santa Monica. But neither of the two bicyclists killed in Santa Monica in recent years ran a red light or stop sign. Antonio Cortez died after riding into an open car door while allegedly riding drunk, while Erin Galligan was run down from behind by while riding home from work on PCH.

Even if he was as stumbling drunk as SMPD officials implied, Cortez would probably still be alive today if a driver hadn’t left his car door open in violation of California law.

And to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever suggested that Galligan did anything wrong, other than occupy the same road space as the speeding hit-and-run driver who killed her.

Maybe the SMPD’s next bike safety videos should focus on closing your damn car door and not running away like a coward after you kill someone.

Then again, this is the same department that has promised to crackdown on scofflaw cyclists more than once. Even though they can’t legally focus enforcement on specific violators as opposed to violations.

That is, they can legally ticket everyone who rolls stop signs, for instance. But they can’t direct their enforcement towards cyclists as opposed to everyone else on the road.

And they should know that.

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As long as we’re sharing videos, here’s one from the Encino Velodrome’s recent Swap Your Legs Race.

Meanwhile, a great video says it’s time to fix LA’s broken sidewalks. And even our Twitter-using mayor liked it.

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The Daily News is the latest to notice that current LA law bans kids playing on or near streets.

LA’s first protected bike lane has already seen better days.

How many people get to work car-free in your neighborhood?

A writer for City Watch says the Pacoima Wash bike and pedestrian pathway recently approved by the San Fernando City Council has the power to transform the area.

Zev says you’ll soon be able to sponsor your own section of bike path in LA County.

Drivers can — and should — cross into a bike lane to make a turn, even when there’s a solid white line. California law requires drivers to make a right from the lane closest to the curb, and never turn across a bike lane.

Fair warning to Los Angeles, as Oakland agrees to pay out $3.25 million to a cyclist seriously injured after hitting a pothole. The city had received numerous complaints about the pothole-ridden road but failed to fix it.

Across the bay, San Francisco is on its way to becoming a bike utopia.

How bicycling helped build Kickstarter.

A new helmet attachment promises to keep you cool by soaking your head. No, really.

Turns out the wicked witch of the Wall Street Journal was wrong, while famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz says it’s time for vigorous law enforcement against reckless drivers before they kill someone, not after.

Drivers are at fault for injury collisions with bicyclists in a Georgia county two-thirds of the time. But why did they illustrate the story with a crashed motorcycle?

A documentary maker for the BBC moves to LA, but gives up bicycling to work due to “distracted drivers going 50 mph in the dark.” But isn’t that half the fun? Thanks to Jim Pettipher for the heads-up.

Funny how often totally insane cyclists attack perfectly innocent motorists for absolutely no rational reason. Seriously, no one should ever attack anyone else on the roadway or use their U-lock as a weapon. But something tells me there’s probably another side to stories like this.

The owner of Soigneur magazine looks at five up and coming bicycling groups, and manages to be only somewhat offensive, particularly in regards to women riders.

A writer for the Guardian says cyclists aren’t the enemy, and it’s time to end the us versus them mentality.

An Australian writer suggests bike cams have been beneficial, but oddly worries about privacy concerns even though nothing that occurs in public view is ever private.

Your next helmet could look like an alien brain if you’re willing to spend more than $1000 for the privilege.

Finally, after an Aussie BMW worker calls for intentionally dooring cyclists and posting the videos online, the story somehow devolves into a debate over licensing cyclists, rather than protecting them from illegal assaults by bike-hating jerks.

And Boyonabike found this bike lane fail at Cal Poly Pomona. Are they trying to tell us something?

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Breaking news: Wendy Villegas accepts plea in September hit-and-run death of cyclist Andy Garcia

Ghost bike being installed for Andy Garcia; photo from Ghost Bike Luis "Andy" Garcia Facebook page

Ghost bike being installed for Andy Garcia; photo from Ghost Bike Luis “Andy” Garcia Facebook page

News is just coming in that Wendy Villegas has been convicted in the hit-and-run death of cyclist Luis “Andy” Garcia.

According to Danny Gamboa, Villegas changed her plea to no contest for the September 14th collision that took the life of Garcia, and left two other riders seriously injured.

Gamboa reports she accepted a plea bargain of three years and eight months in prison for felony hit-and-run and DUI. That represents a gift from the DA’s office, as she had been facing a minimum of five to seven years for vehicular manslaughter, DUI and felony hit-and-run, with a maximum of 10 to 15 years.

In other words, she was sentenced to just 20% of what she could have faced.

Garcia was riding with Ule Melgar, Mario Lopez and two other riders on the LA River Bridge on Cesar Chavez Avenue near Mission Road at 2:45 am on Saturday, September 14th, when they were hit from behind with no warning by Villegas’ car.

She proceeded to drive home, dragging Garcia’s bike several hundred feet beneath her car according to LA Streetsblog. She was reportedly still drunk when she was taken into custody several hours later.

Meanwhile, her victims remained where they’d fallen. Lopez had been tossed into the air, breaking his back and leg; Melgar was nearly knocked over the guardrail and into the LA River below.

Garcia was left lying in the roadway, where he was run over by a second vehicle. Whether he could have survived the initial impact had Villegas stopped as the law requires will never be known.

Many reports suggested that the 21-year old Villegas never seemed to grasp the seriousness of her actions, as exemplified by this courtroom incident reported by Sahra Sulaiman in the Streetsblog story above.

So, when she and her lawyer complained that wearing an ankle bracelet that would monitor both alcohol intake and movement would be inconvenient to a young, working student as well as a challenge for her to pair it properly with the variety of shoes she wears, Lopez couldn’t take it any more.

“I thought to myself at that moment, ‘Well, what about Andy?’” he wrote. “‘[Andy] was a full time student in college. He had responsibilities. But yet, he can’t and will never be able to fulfill them…And she is worried about her fashion sense! What about the inconvenience she brought upon his family and friends?’”

He finally yelled out, “But she killed someone!”

Maybe a few years in state prison will succeed in driving that home.

Update: KTLA-5 reports that Villegas is scheduled for sentencing on April 22nd. Not surprisingly, the story notes that many of the cyclists in the courtroom were unhappy with the minimal sentence, and the Garcia’s mother was repulsed by Villegas lack of remorse. 

Morning links, a defensive riding tip, a BAC Bikeways Committee Agenda, and a Metro ciclovia of your very own

Just a few quick notes to wrap up the week.

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First up, let’s go back to that video we shared yesterday, in which I was Jerry Browned by a pair of our fellow cyclists.

But this time, instead of looking at what they did, take a look at what I did. Or more precisely, didn’t do.

Which is, react.

Notice that in both cases, I held my line without swerving in either direction.

Not exactly the easiest thing to do.

It’s human nature to react — or too often, overreact — to the unexpected, either by swerving away from it or, counter intuitively, swerving into it. Many people react to being startled by turning to look towards whatever it is that surprised them. And naturally, if they’re on a bike, their bikes follow.

Either one can increase your risk exponentially, as a rider startled by an unexpected pass on the left could swerve right into parked or turning cars, or risk injury by falling or crashing over a curb. Meanwhile, a swerve to the left can result in a crash with the person or vehicle that startled you, or a cutting dangerously or falling in front of traffic.

If I’d reacted to the first rider by jerking my bike to the right, I could have collided with the cars in the right turn lane; to the left, I could have been hit by the cars going straight.

That’s why one of the most important skills you can develop — and a key to defensive riding, as well as driving — is learning not to react unless you need to.

Practice holding your line — that is, continuing to ride in the same path you were headed — regardless of what is going on around you.

And learn not to overreact to a situation that may already be over before you can respond — like a swinging door when you’re already riding outside the door zone, for instance — as was the case with both of these riders.

It could make all the difference between a minor annoyance and a major disaster.

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Metro wants to hold a ciclovia in your neighborhood.

The Metro Board approved the Open Streets Program in September 2014 to include up to $2 million annually for open street events in Los Angeles County that will be distributed through a competitive grant application process. Open streets are events which temporarily close the streets to automobiles and open them up to people to re-imagine and experience their streets while walking, biking, rollerblading or pushing a stroller in a car-free environment. The goals of the program are to encourage sustainable modes of transportation (biking, walking and transit), provide an opportunity to take transit for the first time, and provide an opportunity for civic engagement that can foster the development of multi-modal policies for cities.

The Metro Open Streets Program application is now available to cities to apply for grant funding and the deadline to apply online is Friday March 14, 2014. For more information contact Avital Shavit at shavita@metro.net.

Click here for the Metro Open Streets Application

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The LA Bicycle Advisory Committee’s Bikeway’s Subcommittee meets next Wednesday, March 19th — despite the date on the agenda below. The public is invited to discuss upcoming improvements on the city’s streets.

Planning-Agenda

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Mark your calendar. According to the LACBC, the MyFigueroa project is due back before the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee on the 25th of this month.

The Times editorial board is no fan of the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Rails to Trails movement.

The first step in becoming a biker in LA: buying a bike.

Big bike-friendly changes are coming to Downtown Santa Monica. But once again, much needed safety improvements in LA only seem to come after someone gets killed.

Calbike’s Dave Snyder says there may be hope for Caltrans yet.

Twelve-year old middle school student was injured in a collision with a Chevy Suburban in Whittier. No word on what happened or who was at fault.

Once again, a foreign visitor comes to this country and is sent home in a box, as a Dutch cyclist is one of two victims of a murderous Austin TX driver who injured 23 other people — 5 critically — when he plowed into crowds at the South By Southwest festival. The suspected drunk driver was fleeing from police, and now faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault. If only we could get the authorities to take less high profile cases so seriously. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Minneapolis police reopen the case of a cyclist killed in a hit-and-run over five years ago.

WaPo says maybe we’ve reached peak car, which is bad news for global auto makers. And as we’ve noted recently, that seems to hold true for California, as well.

Brit bike rider makes friends with a golden eagle.

Pyscho cyclist terrorizes a Brit couple in a road rage incident. Or at least, that’s one side of the one-sided story.

Now here’s a great idea. Paris makes their Velib free for three days to combat dangerous air pollution. I wonder what other city that suffers from bad air could benefit from something like that? Oh wait, we don’t have a bike share system here.

Tracing the growth of Parisian bike culture.

Bet that comes out of his salary, as pro cyclist Marcel Kittel smashes his $11,000 Giant Propel bike into the asphalt.

The Cannibal, possibly the greatest un-banned cyclist of all time, says that Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso could be the best thing to happen to (pro) cycling. Oddly, he’s not expected to have any significant impact on recreational riding or bike commuting.

Finally, despite six previous DUI convictions — and seven arrests — an Ohio driver was still on the streets so he could kill a cyclist in a drunken hit-and-run. I’d like to know why the hell someone like that wasn’t banned for life from getting behind the wheel — let alone not behind bars already?

Seriously, don’t be a two-wheeled Jerry Browning jerk, and your Morning Links

It’s bad enough when drivers pass far to close.

It’s another thing entirely when the danger comes from being buzzed by other bike riders who really should know better. Especially when there’s no damn reason for it.

In the first case captured in the above video, a rider blew by with no warning whatsoever, apparently  because he couldn’t be bothered to squeeze his brakes long enough to announce his presence and make a safe pass. Had I moved more than a few inches off my line — which would have happened as soon as I thought it was safe to pass the rider ahead — we would have collided.

And probably ended up beneath the cars to our left.

The second rider evidently felt the need to risk my safety by remaining firmly inside the frequently ignored solid yellow no-passing line, brushing by as close as humanly possible without making actual physical contact.

If I had even turned my head to look behind me, she would have hit me. She must have recognized my obvious skill and was confident in my ability to hold my line.

Right.

So let’s get this straight.

What passes in the peloton doesn’t play on the street. Or the bike path, for that matter, which tends to be over populated with the least skilled riders and pedestrians,.

If you’re going pass another human being — on a bike or otherwise — give them at least an arms-length passing distance, if not the full three feet you’d expect from a motorist.

If for any reason you can’t give sufficient passing distance or if there’s any danger of conflict, call if out before you pass. A simple “On your left” can avoid most problems, and is often, though not always, greeted with a thank you and a move to the right.

Which is exactly what I would have done if the woman on the bike path had just announced her damn presence.

And if the guy on the street had yelled it out before blowing by, at least I would have known not to move left, which I was about to do.

While I’m no fan of bike bells, even that helps by offering a friendly announcement that you’re there, if not where you’re going.

And lets everyone know an angel just got it’s wings.

Always pass on the left whenever possible, and never undercut a rider by passing in the door zone he or she is carefully avoiding. If a car door happens to swing open, it could knock you into them, and you could both end up under passing traffic.

Or better yet, just treat other riders the same way you want drivers to treat you. And simply don’t pass until it’s safe to do so.

Better to lose a few seconds off your Strava time than spend a few hours in the ER.

Or force someone else to.

Update: In the comments below, Chuck questioned whether the first rider was really as close as he seemed, noting he passed the rider in front of me at over an arms length.

While he goes by far too fast in the video to tell just how close he is, this still should give a better idea. Clearly, not as close as the near-shoulder brushing rider on the bike path, but still too close for safety, let alone comfort.

Especially at that speed.

Way too close for comfort.

Way too close for comfort.

………

Nice.

Some walking — or in this case, rolling — human scum used sleeping homeless people as props for BMX stunts in Downtown’s Skid Row.

I don’t care how much of a self-absorbed jackass you may be, show some respect for other human beings. Especially those less fortunate than you.

………

Abbott Kinney gets a pair of surprise bike corrals; LADOT Bike Blog offers full details on the design and construction, while Streetsblog says the city is taking applications for more. I expect rioting from parking-challenged Venice motorists over the loss of two spaces.

Even so, Flying Pigeon suffers from infrastructure envy.

Meanwhile, the needlessly embattled MyFigueroa project is gaining key support from neighborhood councils, and is due back before the city council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee any day. Hopefully, we’ll get some advance notice of the hearing so supporters can actually show up.

At least one candidate for Glendale city council supports bicycling.

Bike Long Beach invites you to join them for a low-speed Sunday morning bike ride to remember city leader and bike advocate Mark Bixby, killed in a plane crash three years ago Sunday. A more permanent memorial to Bixby is the city he helped transform, where a downtown cycle track has boosted bicycling 33% while reducing bike-involved collisions 80%.

Outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky looks at Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable; has it really been four years since so many cyclists showed up for the first one?

If you need inspiration, you’ll find it here, as the Orange County Register talks to a recumbent-riding Wounded Warrior who’s not letting cancer kick her ass. Thanks to the Register for sharing this one.

Riverside’s long-debated Brockton Ave road diet and bike lanes finally gets a final approval.

Five-foot wide bike lanes are coming to Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas, while green bike lanes are coming to a deadly intersection in Goleta.

More evidence that Caltrans is hopelessly locked in the auto-centric past as they propose widening Highway 1 to six lanes in Pacifica to possibly save 5 minutes drive time 20 years from now. But at least they did include bike-friendly 10-foot wide shoulders in the plan.

Does San Francisco’s MTA spend more on Post Its than bike projects?

More on the unanimous committee approval of AB 1532, which would suspend licenses and create minimum sentences for any hit-and-run.

Two Utah bike commuters were killed by a driver who apparently didn’t see them. No one will ever be safe on our roads until that’s an admission of guilt instead of a Get Out of Jail Free card.

An off-duty Chicago cop who drove away after hitting a cyclist gets one whole year probation and 30 days community service.

New York firefighters will ride 18-days from Ground Zero to the Navy Seal Museum in Florida, towing an I-beam from the World Trade Center.

Very cool bike murals from Buenos Aires. I wonder if I could fit an entire wall in my carry on? Then again, I have not idea how I’d get to Argentina to begin with.

An Ontario Canada triathlete gets $75,000 restitution for taking a beating from a road raging driver, yet, as usual, no jail time for his attacker.

Lots of people swear at cyclists, but this guy may have been going for the record as a road raging Brit driver is caught on video swearing at a cyclist 25 times in just 35 seconds.

Finally, stealing a bike is nothing unusual. Stealing a penny-farthing for a drunken Christmas Day ride home, on the other hand, is.

Morning links: More ghost bikes needed, watch out for drowsy drivers and a call for historical women on bikes

This was not a good weekend for SoCal cyclists, with four riders losing their lives in three separate collisions.

If you don’t want the details — and trust me, I understand if you don’t — stop reading at the end of this post. The only thing you’ll miss from over the weekend is the weekly listing of events, which you can find on the Events page above.

……….

On a related note, the unusually and unacceptably high rate of bicycling fatalities in Los Angeles County this year has depleted the stock of bikes available for ghost bikes.

If, like me, you support the ghost bike movement to remember fallen cyclists, and unlike me, you have an unneeded bike that can be turned into a moving memorial and a warning for all to ride and drive safely, email Danny Gamboa at danny@zkofilms.com to arrange a donation.

And if you question just how moving a two-wheeled memorial can be, you’ll find the answer here.

……….

The first workday after clocks are turned forward or back reportedly show a big jump in traffic collisions, as sleepy drivers struggle to adjust their internal clocks to the new reality.

So take fair warning, and ride extra defensively today.

It couldn’t hurt, right?

……….

A good friend of mine will be leading a Women’s History Ride on Saturday, March 22nd starting at the Angeles-Rosedale Cemetery, start time TBD.

There’s no shortage of notable LA women on bikes in the modern era, or during the first bike boom of the early last century. However, she’s having trouble finding information on women’s cycling from the ‘50s through the ‘90s; she notes even the 1932 LA Olympics didn’t have a single woman cyclist.

If you have any knowledge of female riders from the last half of the last century, whether in the news or tales passed down through your family — or maybe even experienced first hand — leave a comment below or email the address on the About page and I’ll pass it along.

……….

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will help fund the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail in South Pasadena; thanks to Steve Messer for the heads-up..

LA bike lanes will soon be crossing the York Street bridge to connect with lanes in South Pasadena.

Glendale approves $138,000 in bicycling improvements.

A born again Wilmington rider — in the bike, not the religious sense — recalls a childhood on two wheels. And a 1900-mile Buffalo Soldier ride from 117 years ago.

Cycling in the South Bay offers a list of 10 ways to upgrade your ride. And unlike virtually every similar list I’ve ever read, this one really does make sense. All of it. For virtually every rider. So read it, already.

Not sure if this one refers to a bicycle or a motorcycle. Either way, don’t hit cars with your helmet. Just don’t.

A Bakersfield woman holds signs telling motorists to slow down after witnessing the death of an 11-year old bike rider.

A Contra Costa writer tells drivers how to make a right turn when there’s a bike around. Hint: It doesn’t involve cutting the rider off, then wondering why you got the finger.

Speaking of just don’t, a Colorado driver used coke for two days before killing a cyclist last September while on her way to court for a previous DUI arrest.

A Connecticut cop is suing the state over allegations he covered up for his drunken son in the death of a 15-year old bike rider. And blaming the victim, saying the boy appeared drunk and drifted into traffic lanes before he was killed. Schmuck.

Turns out 20 year later, a Boston writer was just two degrees of separation from the fallen rider who motivated him to always wear a helmet.

The New York Times looks at the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a unique eight-mile bike and pedestrian trail helping to revitalize the city.

A Florida driver gets a well-deserved 13 years for the drag racing death of a cyclist. Compare that to a case closer to home, in which the driver who killed pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while allegedly racing another car got a whopping 90 days from the San Bernardino County courts. Clearly, life is cheap in the Inland Empire — especially if you get about on two wheels.

Bike riders face a 10 times higher risk in South Carolina — and throughout the unforgiving roads of the Southern US — than in Oregon.

A BBC survey says 90% of drivers report having trouble spotting cyclists.

If you’re dealing ketamine and ecstasy, don’t sample your own products before riding your bike.

A government minister promises a cycling revolution in Northern Ireland; let’s hope it goes better than the non-cycling one in the Ukraine.

Lovely Bicycle recalls a story of the bike as an escape tool; far too many women and girls can sing a variation on the same tune. I promised myself as a young man I’d never be that guy; that’s one promise I think — and hope — I’ve kept.

Aussie riders celebrate a very colorful World Naked Bike Ride.

Finally, it turns out it’s illegal to play catch in Los Angeles. And cyclist Wes High captures an extremely close call as a driver attempt to make a left turn around a bus — without a clue what’s hidden behind it.

………

A special thanks to Elizabeth Trautmann, Will Campbell, Bryan Beretta and Margaret Wehbi for your generous donations to support this site over the weekend. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am.

Update: Red-light running cyclist killed in Glendale collision Sunday morning

More bad news on what should have been a weekend of celebration after a last minute reprieve for the Marathon Crash Ride.

KNBC-4 is reporting that a Glendale man in his late 20s was killed after riding his bike through a red light in Glendale this morning.

According to the station, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding at the intersection of Glendale and California Avenues at 7:10 am when he allegedly rode through the light at a fast pace, and was hit by a car. He was taken to USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, identified only as a woman in her 40s, remained at the scene and was not arrested.

No other details are available at this time.

As always, the question is whether there were any independent witnesses, other than the driver, who saw him run the red light. It’s too easy to blame the victim when it’s impossible for him to give his side of the story.

This is the 24rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in Los Angeles County.

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

Update: Evidently, there was another witness. According to the Glendale News Press

(Sgt. Tom) Lorenz said a witness at the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf saw the cyclist, headed south on Glendale Avenue, run a red light before being struck by a car headed east. “He didn’t even slow down,” he said, adding the driver of the car, a woman in her 40s, has been cleared of any fault.

Thanks to Rogelio Yanez for the link.

Update 2: the Glendale News-Press has identified the victim as 25-year old Melik Khanamiryan, presumably of Glendale. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link.

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