Tag Archive for 2012 Transportation Bill

A Register writer points the finger, bike crime fighting councilmembers, and a trail full of bike links

The OC Register’s Dan Whiting calls for better etiquette from riders after a couple of roadies yell at a group of children scattered on the wrong side of the Santa Ana River trail.

While yelling at children who may not know any better is never the right thing to do, I question if the parents involved — and Whiting, for that matter — considered the danger uncontrolled children pose to themselves and those around them on shared trails.

Personally, I consider it child endangerment when parents allow their kids to run around on pathways oblivious to the presence of other path users. I’ve gone to the ER myself when I had to lay my bike down to avoid a small boy who darted out in front of my bike with no warning.

Whiting’s explanation is that the cyclists were simply unwilling to slow down. Having been there too many times, I’d suggest it’s far more likely they were worried about a collision that could have sent both them and the children to the hospital.

And responded in a predictable, if inappropriate, manner.

Yes, the situation he describes was a violation of trail etiquette, as well as safety. But he may be pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

While there are no shortage of rude riders — and walkers, drivers, skaters, equestrians and humans in general — as Rashomon makes clear, there are multiple perspectives to every story.

And please, enough with that bike bashing “Lance Armstrong wannabe” crap, already.

Meanwhile, Lovely Bicycle gets it pretty much right on how to share pathways with pedestrians.

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After dragging on… and on… and on… it looks like we may finally see white smoke on the new federal transportation bill.

Despite rumors that negotiators were going to cave in to the more radical anti-bike and pedestrian elements in Congress — even though 83% of Americans support continued funding, as do over 70 national organizations, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and 13 state governors — at least some protected funding for non-motorized traffic appear to have made it into the final bill.

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A New York cyclist and bike researcher says it’s insane for the city to offer a bike share program without mandating helmet use, while the city’s CFO calls for mandatory helmet use, but gets the numbers, among other details, wrong.

So let me get this straight. Anyone wanting to rent a bike would have to bring their own helmet, or share one with the all the greasy haired, lice-ridden riders who used it before you?

Count me out.

Besides, there are other ways to keep cyclists safer.

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Evidently, local politicians are going the extra mile to get the bike vote, as a Santa Cruz city councilmember chases a bike thief during a break in yesterday’s council session. And a Costa Mesa council candidate calls police after spotting a bike thief, leading to his arrest.

The bike thief, not the council candidate.

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David Hembrow compares L.A.’s new bike plan to the Netherlands and finds it, not surprisingly, lacking. Streetsblog looks behind the scenes at the upcoming, and somewhat questionable, Bike Nation L.A. bike share program. Better Bike reports on the bike studies presented at the LACBC’s recent grad night. KCET Departures rides the L.A. River bike path, while the Orange Line bike path gets a four mile extension. South L.A.’s Real Rydaz are doing more than just getting paint on the street. The Source says potholes are good for nothing and we should get them fixed before they hurt someone; good advice, even if the repair is sometimes worse than the hole. Former BMX rider Stephen Murray still loves the sport that nearly killed him. Local riders prepare for the first Pasadena Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia; thanks to Matthew Gomez for the heads-up. Cyclists from Cal Tech are asking for east-west bikeways through Pasadena. Alhambra moves forward with the city’s first bicycle master plan. A Long Beach company is looking for test riders for their new bike.

AAA’s Westways magazine talks bikes this month. OC Girl Scouts create their own biking map of San Clemente. An allegedly drunk cyclist is seriously injured in a Hemet collision. Inspiring story as a former Camarillo CHP officer qualifies for the Paralympics cycling team five years after his spinal cord was severed by a drunk driver. A San Luis Obispo woman intentionally runs down a cyclist following an argument in a parking lot. Six women cyclists will ride the Tour de France course one day ahead of the men. Sunnyvale could be the third city to pass an L.A.-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. A San Francisco attorney is charged with felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor manslaughter for leaving a cyclist to die in the street; at least he shouldn’t have trouble getting a lawyer. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske writes about the Strava racing San Francisco cyclist charged with felony vehicular manslaughter in the death of a pedestrian, and follows-up by answering questions about the case in detail. A 68-year old Sonoma cyclist was killed last week in an apparent SWSS after reportedly signaling for a left, then making his turn directly into the path of a big rig coming from behind.

Bicycling looks at Americans riding in this year’s Tour de France; we’re not so parochial as to only cheer for our fellow countrymen, are we? Bicycling’s Bill Strickland falls in love with the new, nearly $12,000 Trek Madone. Washington AAA now offers bike assistance; if they’d do that down here, I might reconsider renewing my membership — if they promise not to use my dues to lobby against bike safety legislation. American cycling scion Taylor Phinney takes his appointment to the U.S. Olympic team seriously. One Colorado highway, three world-class bike parks. The Colorado wildfires force postponement of a mountain bike race in my hometown, but don’t seem to affect the city’s Bike to Work Day. A Knoxville cyclist is sideswiped, then beaten by an angry driver — apparently for touching the car to keep his balance. A Louisiana man pleads not guilty to killing one cyclist and critically injuring another, despite a BAC of .307. Twitter gets a writer’s bike back just hours after it was stolen. Good news for New York drivers, as it’s still legal to kill a cyclist with your car door. Our North Carolina friend Zeke has lost his cycling mojo; any suggestions on how to get it back would likely be appreciated.

Bike advocates head to Vancouver for Velo-City. The Toronto Sun calls mandatory helmet laws a no-brainer; so is finding a new editorial writer if they can’t get past that tired no-brainer cliché. Or maybe the solution is to require helmets for drivers. A group of 25 Canadian opera singers are biking around the country to promote their art. Bookmark this page — a UK cyclist offers an extraordinarily detailed response to virtually every objection a motorist could have to bike riders. British bike traffic is up 18%. NBC re-ups to cover the Tour de France for another 10 years. An Aussie Olympic cyclist gets a slap on the wrist after being convicted of drunk driving in Spain. A German physician guesses there’s a high rate of drunk cycling crashes in his town. Here’s your chance to compete in a one day race in the Himalayas against the prince of Bhutan; one word of advice, it’s not always a good idea to finish ahead of the local royalty.

Finally, the Economist looks at the great Agenda 21 conspiracy in which a single sidewalk or bike lane will inevitably lead to one-world government.

They’re on to us, comrades.

Door-flinging driver causes near-quadruple collision; election year politics behind horrible House bill

The sheer stupidity of some drivers amazes me.

Or maybe it’s carelessness — in the most literal sense of the word.

I had a business event to attend on the Miracle Mile last night. And rather than go through the hassle of fighting rush hour traffic in my car, I decided to ride the relatively short five mile distance from my home. Dressed in semi-professional casual wear, I might add.

For the most part, it was a mostly pleasant and uneventful ride. Other than the driver who flipped me off when I yelled out a warning after he cut me off, of course.

But that’s almost to be expected in L.A. traffic. There’s always some jerk who has to take out his or her frustration on someone else. And since cyclists are exposed and vulnerable, and stand out from the overwhelming majority of traffic, we seem to make as good a target as any in the eyes of the angry and misguided few.

But it was just past the intersection of Charleville Blvd and South Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills that things really got interesting.

Charleville is a great street to bypass the bumper-to-bumper madness of Santa Monica and Wilshire Blvds. It’s lightly traveled, and most drivers seem willing to make room for bikes; the only downside is the stop signs on virtually every corner.

And the occasional idiot behind the wheel.

I had just waited at the light to cross Beverly along with a number of cars. Once it turned green, I allowed the first few cars to pass, then took my place in the lane as we entered a narrow section with a lot of parked cars.

Suddenly, the lead car screeched to a stop when the driver of a massive SUV flung her door open directly in its path. And the car behind it jammed on its brakes, avoiding the bumper of the car ahead by just inches.

So there I was, riding at traffic speed with two stopped cars directly ahead of me, another coming up from behind and a huge door blocking the path to my right.

There was no time to make a conscious decision.

Yet somehow, my mind worked out the complex mathematics of my few available possibilities, the same way a baseball player calculates exactly when and where to catch a ball without consciously thinking about it. Even when that catch seems impossible.

Given my speed, it wasn’t possible to stop before colliding with the back of the vehicle ahead of me. And even if I did, I would have been rear-ended by the car behind me — and probably sandwiched between the two cars.

So I instinctively cut hard to the right to take my chances with the open door. And came to a panic stop just inches away from it. Meanwhile, the car behind me stopped just short of the one ahead — right where I would have been if I hadn’t swerved.

And that’s when I heard it.

I don’t know what the driver of the lead car said. But the attractive young women who’d caused the whole problem responded by calling him a “crazy person.”

I just couldn’t help myself.

Since I was stopped right next to her, I suggested, as calmly and politely as possible, that the crazy person just might be the one who threw open her door and left it open in heavy traffic, nearly causing a quadruple chain reaction collision.

“What,” she responded, “I’m not allowed to get out of my car?”

“Not if it causes a wreck.”

So I did my best to explain the concept and consequences of dooring, and how drivers are legally required to verify that the road is free of traffic and that it’s safe to open the door before doing so. And then only for as long as necessary to get in and out.

In other words, not leaving it open to adjust her skirt and fix her hair before leaning back in to grab her purse while traffic around her screeches to a halt.

But I might as well have been talking to the SUV she just got out of, which seemed to be at least as comprehending as she was.

“Whatever,” she said, storming off with her panties in a twist.

So at least three drivers and a cyclist were put in jeopardy simply because she couldn’t wait until it was safe to get out of her car. But that, in her mind, wasn’t her problem.

Because she, like, had a right to get out of her car, okay?

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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have declared war on anyone who uses anything but motor vehicles to get just about anywhere. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood calls the new highway-focused House Transportation Bill the worst ever; he’s a Republican, by the way.

While cycling and pedestrian organizations are up in arms — and rightfully so — about this unprovoked attack on average Americans, it’s worth noting that this bill has no chance of becoming law with a Democratic majority in Senate. And the sponsors know it.

Instead, it’s just election year politics, as the L.A. Times notes. A paean to their Tea Party supporters, as well as big donors in the oil industry; a political shot over the bow that was never expected or intended to become law.

And unfortunately, one that leaves a much better bi-partisan Senate bill similarly dead in the water.

But it’s fair warning what could happen if the more radical elements of the party win control of both houses this November.

Let alone the White House.

It’s not about party affiliation.

It’s about electing candidates who understand what they’re voting on and the effect it will have on their own constituents, rather than paying off big donors and political pressure groups.

John Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage nearly 60 years ago.

Something tells me today’s Washington would make him weep.

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Don’t miss Wednesday’s BikeUP! LA benefit for the California Bicycle Coalition next Wednesday at the Living Room in Silver Lake. CicLAvia is hosting a fundraising Valentines Party at Atwater Crossing next Friday. Better Bike recounts the uphill battle to get bikeways on Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills. Downtown’s Spring Street green bike lane will soon get a partner one block over on Main Street; hopefully, this one will last a little longer. Leading Eastside bike advocate Carlos Morales asks where the outreach was for the 1st Street bike lanes. Hit a celeb, lose your license — Reese Witherspoon now wears bangs, courtesy of the driver who ran her down; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up. A Monrovia gang member is convicted in the 2008 attempted murder of a cyclist. Glendale’s Honolulu Avenue is about to go on a diet. Claremont Cyclist encounters the Trickster; and no, not our frequent correspondent from New Zealand. A writer urges us to stop saying good things about vehicular cycling. Better bike security through technology.

AB 819, the proposed law to modernize bikeway standards — and which was gutted at the urging of CABO — has passed the state Assembly; maybe the Senate will have more sense. Just Another Cyclist, one of my favorite bike bloggers, is moving to a new online address. Santa Ana residents seem to have missed the memo that bike paths increase property values. Temecula elementary students take the bike train to class. A La Jolla cyclist is injured after blowing through a flashing red light; for anyone unclear on the concept, a flashing red should be treated like a stop sign — and no, that does not mean you should run it. A plea has been reached in the case of the San Francisco cyclist who ran a red and killed a pedestrian; however, the ruling has been delayed so the rider and the victim’s husband can face one another in court. An SF rider is seriously injured when she’s hit by a mail truck. If you’re an ex-con carrying a concealed weapon, maybe you shouldn’t ride against the flow of traffic; I’m just saying.

A Las Vegas BMX rider is killed in a SWSS; further details reveal he was riding salmon and in a crosswalk, which is prohibited there. Guess what happens when Helena MT uses crushed glass to improve traction on icy streets. A Missoula man is charged in a drunken hit and run, first claiming he hit a rock before blaming his victim for riding without lights. An Iowa court rules a police search of a bicyclist violated his rights. A Houston driver may have intentionally attacked a bike rider. Cyclists in Texas — and everywhere else — want cleaner bike lanes. Three riders are hit in two days in one Louisiana parish. Grid Chicago offers a detailed record charting the many failed promises for the city’s long-promised bike plan — something every city could use to hold our elected leaders to account; thanks to Cyclelicious for the link. An anonymous landlord in New York’s Crown Heights neighborhood urges his peers not to rent to immodestly clad bike riding goyim, or maybe even hipster Hasids. The NYPD evidently falsified reports to protect a killer driver. A rider in the most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians in killed when he’s hit and run over by three cars.

London’s Guardian joins the Times of London in calling for safer streets for cyclists, saying the city’s biking mayor BoJo is wrong — and has the stats to back it up — while yet another fatality demonstrates the need for better safety. A writer for the Manchester Evening News makes his bid as Great Britain’s anti-bike village idiot with a bizarre rant, while a Telegraph scribe evidently believes we deserve to die because we’re already smug enough; if he’s looking for unbearable people, I’d suggest starting with the mirror. The Guardian asks who is the American heir to Lance? A former pop star turned vicar evangelizes for biking. A New Zealand writer calls for the equivalent of a six-foot passing law for drivers — and for cyclists passing parked cars. Cycling seems to be an uphill battle in Singapore.

Finally, the schmuck hot-tempered driver/former cyclist who attacked Long Beach expat and The Path Less Peddled’ Russ Roca pleads guilty to the assault; sentencing will take place next Month. We’re rapidly approaching the 150th anniversary of the first header. And PETA opposes a bid to make Dorothy’s bike basket-riding Cairn Terrier the state dog.

If California needs a state dog, I nominate Snoop.

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