Archive for Describe Your Ride

Morning Links: Reminder to expect the unexpected on bike trails; Feds decide bike/ped safety matters, too

People are unpredictable.

Mike Wilkinson sends a video reminder of that, as he barely avoided a pedestrian who turned into him without warning on the San Gabriel River Trail.

I’ve been there countless times myself; I still carry a scar from a piece of Velcro that got embedded in my hip when someone turned into me on the beach bike path.

The obvious solution is to give pedestrians and slower cyclists as much room as possible when you ride by. Mike was able to avoid the woman only because he was riding the center line on the trail, which was as far left as he could go with riders coming in the opposite direction; I usually cross over to the other side when it’s safe to do so.

And using a bike bell or calling it out when you’re about to pass usually helps, though even that can confuse or startle some people. Which is why I usually save it for when I can’t give the person I’m passing at least the same three-foot distance I’d expect from a driver.

The best answer is to always ride defensively and expect the unexpected, even when you’re in a supposedly safe environment.

………

The Feds finally recognize that the lives of people on bikes and on foot matter, too, by issuing their first safety performance standards for bicyclists and pedestrians.

………

Not bike related, but still worth checking out, as great artworks are reworked by a Minneapolis Group to show how they’d look in the age of the automobile.

Including a typical Sunday in the Park.

Sunday in the PArk

………

Local

A man in his 30s survived being shot multiple times while riding his bike South LA Sunday night; police say the victim of the drive-by was not a gang member.  On the other hand, that doesn’t mean the people who shot him weren’t.

Robert Gottlieb, founder and former director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College, discusses the possibilities of a post-car, or at least car lite, Los Angeles.

Flying Pigeon captures a shot of the new bollard-protected bike lane on Venice Blvd.

CiclaValley offers video evidence of why the southbound Magnolia ramp off the 170 Freeway is dangerous by design.

KPCC looks at the new bikeshare system in Long Beach, and discusses the lack of compatibility with the coming system planned for Los Angeles. Maybe the operators of both systems should attend the Better Bike Share Conference to work out their differences.

 

State

Palm Desert residents will get a chance to try out a planned road diet, including bike lanes and wider sidewalks, with a pop-up event in May.

A Santa Barbara paper provides tips on where to ride your bike on your next trip to town.

Sacramento is the latest California city to consider adopting a Vision Zero plan. As the story notes, education and engineering are important. But we’ll never come close to eliminating traffic deaths until we change the culture that places the convenience of drivers over the safety of humans and the livability of our cities.

 

National

A writer for Next City says it’s time for American cities to ban right turns on red lights if we’re going to improve safety for bike riders and pedestrians.

The great Seattle bikeshare battle is over, and the good guys won. The city council voted Monday to buy and expand the troubled bikeshare system.

A London cyclist only made it three days into a planned 5,500 mile ride from Vancouver to Panama before he was hit by a Washington driver.

A new study finds a third of all Boston cyclists ride distracted — if you consider earbuds and headphones distractions, that is; otherwise it drops to just 12.5%. And none of them pose anywhere near the danger to others that a single distracted driver does.

A Maryland website says bicyclists and motorists must learn to share the road safely, because people seem determined to ride their bikes despite the risks. Although it’s entirely possible that bicycling is actually safer than other modes of travel, since they failed to put it in context with the risk to people walking or driving.

There is a special place in hell — and hopefully, prison, and for a very long time — for whoever walked up and shot a six-year old Georgia boy as he rode his bike; fortunately, he’s expected to survive.

 

International

Calgary university students now have their own bikeshare system. Which is really more of a bike library, but why be picky?

New children’s bike maker and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins says bike riders need to mind their Ps and Qs on the streets; his comments raise the question of who exactly is a cyclist? As far as I’m concerned, a cyclist is anyone who rides a bike, just as a driver is anyone who operates a motor vehicle.

The Belgian cyclocross rider at the heart of cycling’s first confirmed motor doping scandal has decided to retire at age 19 rather than defend herself.

Let’s all go fat tire biking down the snow-covered Italian Dolomites.

After an 86-year old man plowed through a group of cyclists, a Spanish news site feels obligated to point out that some cyclists break the law sometimes. Which has absolutely nothing to do with what happened.

Just three drivers have been held accountable for violating the equivalent of a three-foot passing law in the six weeks since it went into effect in Australia’s New South Wales. But they don’t seem to have any problem citing cyclists.

Australia’s NSW government isn’t the only ones who appear to hate bikes Down Under, as a Gran Fondo is halted when a saboteur strews tacks and nails across the roadway.

Not surprisingly, a Kiwi driver appears to have taken down an expletive-laden video showing her swearing a blue streak as she was stuck following a group of cyclists for a whole 53 seconds. The only question is why the hell would she have posted it in the first place.

 

Finally…

Forget doping, motor or otherwise; the latest cycling scandal is hairy legs. Your next Brompton could do a lot more than fold, while your next bike pedals could be made of rice.

And if you still haven’t gotten enough bike news for one day, check out the massive list of links in this week’s Sadik-Khan — with and without the hyphen — themed bike blog roundup from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain.

………

A special thanks to Margaret W. and Todd Rowell for their generous contributions to support this site. Margaret considers it her annual subscription to BikinginLA, while Boston-based Todd says it should be the start of a Rides of March fundraiser.

 

Describe Your Ride: Nearly run down by a speeding driver — with a twist

Unfortunately, not every ride is a happy one.

Today, an OC rider who prefers to remain anonymous describes a recent ride in which she had a brush with a speeding, overly aggressive driver in a high-powered car. Literally.

With a surprise ending that left her livid.

………

Tuesday afternoon I was nearly swiped by a speeding Charger (Challenger?) whose incompetent driver, immediately behind me, suddenly punched the gas and squeezed between me and the box truck to his left. I had proceeded from a full stop at a red light, and had just cleared an intersection full of kids leaving school. Because of gravel on the gutter pan, I was gutterbunnying it, close enough to worry about pedal strike.

The pass was so sudden and so close that I was less articulate than usual, but managed to bellow WHAT THE F***! while wobbling. No remedial, YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY. No accompanying, GET YOUR HOMICIDAL ASS OFF THE ROAD. No PATIENCE IS A F****** VIRTUE, my most frequent high-volume communication. Me, speechless. If that’s at all believable. The passenger side was less than 8 inches from my bullhorns, and the side of the box truck to his left thundered the revving engine back at me. Before I had time to even want to smack the car’s window, I was looking at tail lights. That Charger had passed me in less time than it took for Shaun Eagleson to look over his shoulder. Somehow I stayed mostly upright, and didn’t even hit the concrete bus bench whose acquaintance I was certain I was going to violently make.

Though the lane ahead narrowed, the car continued to accelerate and then, despite its speed, took the corner like it was on rails.. The Charger was already out of sight by the time I made the corner by the hospital. But I stopped to ask a pair of orderlies at the ambulance bay if they’d seen a speeding car, and they confirmed it had turned left at the next street. As I approached the intersection, the westward gazes of some animated warehouse workers on the sidewalk indicated that the orderlies were correct. The next intersection was a T-intersection, and a group of workers had abandoned a steam shovel to walk south for a peek around the corner. When I turned right, there sat the Charger, crosswise in the middle of the intersection. Its driver had just stepped out, and stood next to it.

DSCN3354

Los Alamitos CopYes, A F****** COP IN AN UNMARKED F****** CAR. An extremely fast, extremely heavy car. Grey, camouflaged amid the asphalt and overcast sky. I’m going to assume that although it did have the blue and red in the back window (engaged eventually), it is not equipped with a siren that would have alerted me to pull over, because certainly a law enforcement officer traveling at that speed is required to alert road users of his presence, right?

 

A couple miles later, on the river path, I realized I was bleeding. I think my knuckle scraped the bus bench that I nearly landed on, but I can’t be sure. Frankly, I was kind of disappointed at how hilariously tiny the scrape is, considering all the dripping blood.

I’m not riding without my GoPro again. And I might get all FOIA on that Charger’s (possible) dashcam.

The Los Alamitos Police Department owes me an apology and some new bar tape.

 

Describe Your Ride: What riding a bike can teach us about driving a car

Here’s a little different take on this feature. 

Brian Dotson offers insights on what he’s learned about “mindful driving” by riding his bike in the suburbs of Houston, which he compares to Anaheim.

And that may be my favorite new phrase of the year. 

……..

I’d like to describe one of my ride’s effects on me.

I cycle primarily for transport in the suburbs of Houston Texas.  My environment is like that around Anaheim.  We’ve got a few shared-use routes like your Santa Ana River Trail, and we’re getting more.  And these trails are really good when they go the right direction.  But to reach destinations like work, stores, and public services, I have to cycle with motor vehicle traffic.

Consequently most of my cycling is on suburban roads with 35-50 mph posted speed limits, and my primary objective is preventing collisions.  Over the past ten years I’ve gotten in the habit of replaying each trip in my head, thinking through ways to reduce my risk.  As recently as my last trip to an infrequent location, I decided to adjust my route to handle a specific situation at an intersection in a different way.  This “mindful cycling” is a habit that kicks in anytime I ride, even on the shared-use trails.

Earlier this year I had occasion to think about the pyramid of traffic casualties that is topped by over 300 deaths per year in Harris County, Texas.  By far, the majority of the casualties are motor vehicle occupants.  So I decided to start “mindful driving” when motoring.

Wow.  I’m finding it incredibly difficult to change 40+ years of habit.  What drove this home for me was the day I started off with no radio (no distractions for “mindful driving,” of course) and when I got to my destination, the radio was on!  All by itself!

Why is this?  It must be because I’m a highly-trained, above-average driver who is so experienced that thinking about my driving experiences and looking for ways to improve just aren’t worthwhile.

Yeah, right.

Much more likely is that 40+ years of mindless habits inside a steel box are very hard to break.

So my ride has shown me that I have a driving problem.

I need help.  I’ve recruited my daughter to help me say a little reminder that “no one gets hurt around us on this trip” when we set off in a motor vehicle.  Maybe going public with my problem will help. I really want to drive as safely as I cycle.

……..

If you’d like to share your ride with us, just send it to the email address on the About BikinginLA page. It can be a rant, rave or anything in between, from a few sentences to a detailed description. Or any other format you think tells the story best, however and wherever you ride.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

Describe Your Ride: A “Tour de Two Parks” along the San Gabriel River Trail

2013_01_19_OC_RebelsToday’s submission takes us further south than usual for a ride with Mike Wilkinson along the San Gabriel River Bike Trail and two nearby parks.

Mike says he’s been riding with enthusiasm since he was a kid. Now he and his wife ride their tandem bike all over Southern California, and he rides his road bike for “10 mile exercise blasts” during the week. His biking motto: “I’m not slow and I’m not fast… I’m half fast!”. Mike is a freelance website designer, and he runs the TandemClassifieds.com website.*

……..

If you’d like to share your ride with us, just send it to the email address on the About BikinginLA page. It can be a rant, rave or anything in between, from a few sentences to a detailed description. Or any other format you think tells the story best, however and wherever you ride.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

……..

*Special thanks to Mike for doing all the work for me, including writing his own introduction. Especially after I insulted him by misspelling the name of his Alma Mater in today’s Morning Links headline. And yes, I fixed it after he pointed it out.

Describe Your Ride: A car-free, pre-Christmas Highland Park shopping trip

Today’s submission comes from Harv, who relates a quick ride through LA’s Highland Park neighborhood for groceries on the day before Christmas Eve.

He describes himself as a long time LA resident of who began riding for transportation at the tender age of 12, and has been active in the resurgence of bicycle activism since the bike boom of the early 1970s.

………

Since I am no longer commuting to my former job in DTLA or my volunteer job in Highland Park, my most frequent repeated ride is for food shopping. A round trip of 5 miles, all hilly, with tricky freeway feeders and a dangerous intersection at Figueroa and Avenue 50. I have been car-free for three years, before then I was car very light for several years. My bike is my only transportation from home, if I want to eat, I have to ride. So let’s get started for an Xmas eve-eve run to the Food for Less in Highland Park.

.

It will start with my bolting on my cut-down milk crate to the rack of my grocery bike built for the purpose. A frame low enough to step over when my crate is stacked high with groceries, 1.5 inch street tyres for stability and load bearing, a low enough bottom gear to lug up my moderate hill with 20 pounds of food, 5 pounds of rack/crate, a 5 or 6 pound back pack, and, of course, me. Without the added cargo, I can fly up my hill on one of my single speed bikes with less effort.

.

OK, we descend the hill and get within a mile of the market without having to pedal at all. A short run along Griffin Avenue takes us past the playing fields of Montecito Park, which are empty today, but frequently have several ball games going. Continue past the Audubon Center and the north gate of Debs Park which usually has several homeless camps going on behind it, and then the Avenue 52 freeway feeder looms up disturbing the tranquility of the trip thus far. Here, there are I-110 on and off ramps on either side of the parkway. As I pass the first set, I glance to my left to see how many cars are backed up at the end of the off ramp stop sign. All these cars will be turning left into my path. I adjust my speed and position to minimize the conflict and sprint up the short distance to get across the bridge and duck into the residential area which provides refuge. When the I-110 was put in, about 1940, all streets in the grid across the Arroyo to Figueroa were dead-ended except for the freeway feeders such as Avenue 43, 52, and 57. So there is no way I can get across without hitting this feeder traffic.

.

To avoid Figueroa and Ave 52, I wiggle through the residential area alluded to and approach the market on Ave 50 but hop onto the sidewalk before the corner to avoid the dreaded right hooking cars into the Mickey Dee’s parking lot. Finally rolling into the F4L lot after clearing the bus passengers and Big Mac gobblers, now only to dodge cars backing out of spaces and errant shopping carts rolling down the slight incline. But finally making it to the front door, I dismount and walk the bike into market, up and down the aisles, putting my purchases into the crate. My bike is my shopping cart. Every store employee knows me (after shopping there for over 20 years) and no one bats an eye.

.

The return trip is the reverse, except I have to handle the downhill traffic rushing toward the on ramps on the narrow 2 lane street. I wait patiently for a break in the traffic and bounce down the broken pavement with a glance over my shoulder every few seconds. Most drivers cut me enough slack, but I still have to time myself to not be at the on ramp entrance when someone might right hook me. Then I have to cross the off ramp with similar timing, eye contact, and negotiation. Finally clear of this mayhem, I speed up on the downhill section of Griffin past the homeless encampments, the Audubon, the playing fields and turn left up my hill for the grind to the top. I eat for another week.

………

If you’d like to share your ride with us, just send it to the email address on the About BikinginLA page. It can be a rant, rave or anything in between, from a few sentences to a detailed description. Or any other format you think tells the story best, however and wherever you ride.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

Describe Your Ride: A very fast ride home through the San Fernando Valley

We recently started a new feature in which bike riders tell us about the everyday experience of riding a bike, wherever and however they ride.

Or in this case, show us. 

kdbhiker with a very fast paced video condensing an 18-mile roundtrip ride from Burbank to Lake Balboa via the Chandler/Orange Line bike paths to just 35 seconds. 

If you’d like to share your ride with us, just send it to the email address on the About BikinginLA page. It can be a rant, rave or anything in between, from a few sentences to a detailed description. Or any other format you think tells the story best, wherever you ride.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

 

Describe Your Ride: Commuting to work on the beach path and tourist-lined streets of Santa Monica

Adra and Ellie at the beginning of their commute

Adra and Ellie at the beginning of their commute

Today we’re starting a new feature in which bike riders tell us about their ride — the good, the bad, the ugly, the everyday experience of riding a bike, wherever and however they ride.

First up, bike commuter Adra Graves describes her daily bike commute through Venice and Santa Monica, partly on the bike path, partly in bike lanes and partly on city streets.

If you’d like to share your ride with us, just send it to the email address on the About BikinginLA page. It can be anything you want, from a few sentences to a detailed description, a rant, rave or anything in between. Or maybe you tell the story best visually, verbally or musically.

And no restrictions on location, where you ride here in LA, SoCal, or anywhere in the world.

Let’s get a conversation started.

………

Bike path at Ocean Park

Bike path at Ocean Park

I may have one of the best commutes in LA county. At the very least, I have 75% of one.

Every morning around 9:30, I load my purse and laptop into my pannier, my dog into my front basket, and ride the half block to the Venice boardwalk, where I turn north and take the beach bike path a mile and a half up to Santa Monica. There are no stop lights, no cars, few pedestrians, and even the sun is at my back. I have to look out for the occasional sand puddle, which can make me skid out of control (it’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way), but for the most part, I can ride along and try to glimpse the waves across the sand to my left, with few distractions.

Company on the bike path, and Santa Monica Pier in the distance

Company on the bike path, and Santa Monica Pier in the distance

Just before the Santa Monica pier, I leave the bike path and make my way up to a small street called Appian Way. At this point, the nice part is over.

I ride towards the pier on Appian and make a right up a steep hill that will bring me up to Ocean Avenue. (If I’m feeling super energetic, I’ll take advantage of my bike’s gears and ride up in first gear, but more often than not I walk.) At the top, there’s no good way to immediately get to the northbound side of Ocean, so I ride along the sidewalk for a block (less than ideal: I would normally never advocate for a cyclist to do that, but this stretch doesn’t have any other palatable options) to the pier and cross Ocean at Colorado Avenue.

Up the hill at Appian Way, looking up at Tongva Park

Up the hill at Appian Way, looking up at Tongva Park

From here, I do my best to stay in the bike lane, but there are cars pulling in and out of the hotel, buses (sightseeing + regular) taking up the entirety of the lane at Broadway, and a nasty angled section (pictured) where I’m forced to dodge into traffic if there’s a car parked (entirely legally) there. This is part of why I cross where I do: a red light stops other northbound traffic and so I have a little more protection for if and when I need to ride outside the bike lane.

Worst case scenario (biking north on Ocean Avenue at Colorado)

Worst case scenario (biking north on Ocean Avenue at Colorado)

At Broadway, I make a right, and head inland for a mile or so. There’s a green bike path from 5th Street on, but west of there, we only have sharrows. If you’re on the westbound side of the road, as I am when heading home, there’s a bus lane that I usually ride in so as not to draw the ire of the cars making their way through the area. (This works great when there are no buses.)  Once across Lincoln, I’m at my destination.

My ride home is all downhill along Ocean Avenue (after it diverges from Neilson) if I so choose. During the summer, I don’t—there are too many cars searching for parking on that stretch—but in the winter, I’m often the only person there.

Sharrows are great and all but...

Sharrows are great and all but…

My fiancé is the one who pushed me to start riding to work five years ago, when I lived and worked in Santa Monica and had a mere mile and a half to go to work, almost entirely along streets with bike lanes. Aside from a short stint last summer when I was working in Culver City, I’ve biked to work almost every day since then. We chose our apartment in Venice partly because we love the area, and partly because it allows both of us to walk or bike to work. (He walks to work along Abbot Kinney, also an enviable commute.) While I consider myself lucky to have this setup, it wasn’t an accident, either. Our apartment search was a bit more difficult because of location constraints, but being able to bike to work is important to both of us.

From sharrows to bike lanes (yessssss)

From sharrows to bike lanes (yessssss)

Being able to bring my dog with me is the cherry on top. She’s small enough to fit in the bike basket, and well-behaved enough to stay there. Yes, it took some time to get her used to it—she immediately leapt out the first time I tried to put her in!—but she’s a pro now and knows what to expect. In cold weather, she wears a red hoodie to stay warm, and it is the cutest damn thing you’ve ever seen.

I have no idea what we’ll do when El Nino rears its head—with a dog, I don’t think the bus is an option—but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. (Probably in a raincoat.)

AG Bike Map

%d bloggers like this: