Tag Archive for Alexis Lantz

A relatively light post-holiday list of links, including an odd news focus ignoring 90% of traffic fatalities

We’ve got a relatively light load of bike news over the 4th of July holiday.

Which, given that Independence Day is the deadliest day of the year on American roads, suggests that no news really could be good news.

But before we move on, let’s consider the odd perspective of the above link, which appears to have been driven by a nationwide AAA press release, and notes with horror that 10% of those holiday fatalities are teen drivers.

Which means that 90% aren’t.

So let’s be clear.

There is no acceptable level of traffic fatalities, no matter what the age of the victim. Even one death is one to many.

And teenage drivers do seem to over represented in traffic fatalities, as Colorado records show they account for 12% of the state’s deaths despite representing just 6% of the state’s drivers.

But doesn’t it make more sense to reduce the over whelming majority of traffic fatalities — or better yet, all traffic deaths — rather than just focusing on the relatively small percentage represented by teen drivers?

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Andre Greipel wins stage four of the Tour after Cav goes down in a mass crash; it’s Greipel’s second stage win in just his first two tours. The Washington Post compares Peter Sagan to a young Lance Armstrong, but without all the doping accusations.

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LACBC promises to keep an eye on the city’s environmental impact report process for 43.3 miles of bike lane projects. Richard Risemberg realizes he’s not so special any more, and likes it. In the biking black hole of Beverly Hills, it’s a little more talk and a lot less action, and more dollars than sense. The Bike League urges your support of the first ever National Women’s Bicycling Summit this September in Long Beach.

A San Diego pedicab driver wins the right to sue the SDPD for allegedly harassing him by stealing his license and then charging him for operating without one, among other escalating offenses. A Mission Beach couple battles cyclists after they’re enveloped by Critical Mass riders while walking on the boardwalk. A new video promotes San Diego cycling as a fun, safe and sensible activity. Why do so many drivers insist that cyclists must obey traffic laws too, yet fail to note that most drivers don’t, either. A local writer says the High Desert won’t ever become a bike community. Turns out police ticket cyclists after all. In an amazing — and amazingly brief — story, a Chico driver loses control while allegedly driving under the influence, and flips his car over a cyclist riding in a bike lane; the rider remarkably escapes with just scratches. An Oakland cyclist is chased by two vehicles, then robbed of his bike and jewelry at gunpoint. A Merced County cyclist is mauled by a pack of dogs, 20 minutes after they’d bitten another rider; thanks to Meghan Lynch for the heads-up.

The otherwise disastrous new federal transportation bill could mean less red tape for local transportation projects — including bikeways. Helmet laws could be on the way out due to a lack of enforcement and increased local liability. Denver tries to keep up with a growing number of cyclists. A Chicago writer says the bike lane is not your parking spot; it’s not the place to fix a broken down bus, either. Time magazine discovers the New York bikelash about two years after everyone else. After a Gotham cyclist and driver exchange words and spit, the driver flashes an NYPD courtesy badge and tells the rider and a traffic cop that his badge number is his apparently minuscule sexual appendage. A New York cyclist is making a slow recovery from nearly crippling injuries. A DC-area driver is convicted of intentionally running down a rider, then beating the crap out of him afterwards.

After a cyclist is let off with a slap on the wrist for severely injuring a pedestrian, a rocket scientist writer for the London Mail says cyclists should be held to the same standard as drivers — not realizing that was exactly what happened, as most UK drivers are held to the same incredibly low standards. Can China go from the world’s leading bicycle nation to one billion cars and back to one billion bicycles?

Finally, if this doesn’t bring a post-Independence Day smile to your face, nothing will. Especially with appropriate holiday musical accompaniment from the Eastside’s own Dave Alvin.

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Best wishes to departing Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition Planning and Policy Director Alexis Lantz, with thanks for the amazing progress the LACBC — and L.A. cycling — has made during her all too short tenure. And congratulations to the Los Angeles County Department of Health on landing a great new employee.

Best wishes, as well, to incoming Planning and Policy Director Eric Bruins, who has very big pumps to fill.

And the skills to do it.

Accused drunk/distracted driver plows into group of cyclists; 11 injured with two critical

Photo by Magnus Sheen Nihilus; click photo for other shots from the crash scene on his Facebook page.

The most dangerous intersections aren’t always the junction of two streets.

Even here in L.A., where the safety of cyclists has long been little more than an afterthought.

The events of early this morning clearly proved that, as a popular weekly bike ride intersected tragically with a suspected drunk and/or distracted driver, leaving 11 cyclists injured, six of whom reportedly suffered serious injuries. LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer reports that two of the injured are in critical condition.

The incident occurred at around 1:49 am on the 5900 block of West Jefferson Place in the Blair Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, near the border with Culver City.

The Midnight Ridazz weekly Koreatown ride had just visited the Baldwin Hills Overlook, which often offers spectacular views of the L.A. Basin, and were paused on the street to regroup when the riders reportedly saw a white car approaching.

According to KABC-7, the driver, who appeared to be using a cell phone — or possibly texting — slowed down, then sped up and plowed into the group.

“We were by the bike lane, waiting for more people to come down. Out of nowhere, I saw the lights coming fast,” said Mario Cruz, who was hit by the car. “It looked like she was stopping, but she kept going.”

Another rider said he warned others to get out of the way.

“I saw her first, and then I started calling everybody out, ‘Hey everybody, merge right, get out of the bike lanes to the sidewalk,’” said one bicyclist. “She slows down. She sees us, I think, and I could see her engine rev, and she just takes everybody out.”

While there are no bike lanes on Jefferson, a satellite view shows a wide shoulder indicated by painted hash marks on the side of the road.

A report on KTLA-5 says at least one rider was trapped under the car for a time.

The driver revved her engine, hopped a curb and “just took everybody out,” Alex, a cyclist, said.

Witnesses say one cyclist was dragged by the car.

Meanwhile, MSNBC suggests the car may have been speeding, as well.

“We were all just chilling right here … she merges in and takes everybody out,” one rider told RMG News.

Another rider estimated the car was traveling at more than 60 miles per hour. “I saw everybody flying towards me. Luckily I didn’t get hit … one of the guys got dragged by the car,” he said.

According to cyclist Eric Bruins, who lives in the area, drivers frequently pass through that section at over 60 mph, despite a 40 mph speed limit and a wide turn offering limited visibility.

The L.A. Times cited a televised witness as comparing “what happened to a bowling ball knocking down pins.”

Of course, it didn’t take long for the media to shift blame from the driver to the cyclists.

KABC reports that at least some of the riders may have been wearing dark clothing, and were stopped under a non-working streetlight. However, other reports indicate that the riders were using lights, as required, while the witness statement that the driver jumped the curb suggest at least some of the riders were out of the roadway at the time of the collision.

And while it might not be smart, I know of no law forbidding cyclists from wearing dark clothing after dark.

Bizarrely, the KABC report goes a large step beyond rational reporting by saying beer and condoms were found in the area, evidently implying that the riders were engaged in a drunken orgy in the middle of the street.

And the auto-centric L.A. Weekly lumps the Ridazz in with Critical Mass for committing the unforgivable crime of being in the way while having fun on two wheels.

The Ridazz, along with sister bike group Critical Mass, are a controversial L.A. institution: Many car-bound Angelenos complain the cyclists are rowdy and in-the-way, whereas Ridazz generally feel the cars are the real problem.

Yes, that certainly justifies an allegedly drunk, speeding driver plowing into a group of stationary bikes and riders, regardless of where they might have been stopped or what they were wearing.

So much for that other intersection, the one where we often find ourselves waiting in vain for good reporting and common sense to somehow collide.

Though I suppose, that may be asking a little too much from the local media under the circumstances.

Fortunately, word is that the LAPD is focusing on investigating the actual incident to determine what happened and who is at fault, rather than getting distracted by the irrelevant matters that seem to fascinate some members of the press.

Like whether there may have been condoms at the scene.

Thanks to Will Campbell, Al Williams, Michael Byerts, Karen Lai, Sgt. Krumer, Alexis Lantz, Alex Amerri, Richard Risemberg, Rex Reese, Richard Masoner, Todd Munson and Eric Bruins for the heads-up; my apologies if I left anyone out.

Update: The Times reports that 27-year old Christine Dahab has been booked on a charge of misdemeanor drunk driving, with $15,000 bail — which would seem exceptionally low under the apparent circumstances, given the number and seriousness of the injuries.

Update: Patrick Miller clarified that neither the Koreatown ride, or any of the rides organized on the Midnight Ridazz site, are sponsored directly by the loosely organized group. Rather, it’s a site where individuals can post their own rides, not unlike posting your own ride on Facebook or some other site. 

And apologies to Alex Amerri, whose name I misspelled in my rush to get this story online.

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The LACBC’s Alexis Lantz sent the following email to Sgt. Krumer this morning in response to these events:

Good morning Sgt. Krumer,

I’m assuming you’re probably already pretty busy with the collision that occurred last night with a drunk driver and the K-town group ride.

We are hoping you can keep is in the loop on this issue, we have some issues with the way the news has been reporting the incidents – as with so many stories involving people on bicycles – misinformation and blame is often placed on the victim, even when a drunk driver, distracted driver, and speeding are involved.

In particular we’re concerned about folks focusing in on what people are wearing – this should not be a discussion item, whether or not the cyclist had lights, which are required by law is justified – but questioning the color of people’s clothing really shouldn’t be where folks focus their discussion.

While we don’t know the particulars of where exactly the group was in the roadway we hope that the fact that the driver was speeding, drunk, potentially texting at the time of the collision, and failed to slow, change lanes or do anything to avoid a collision will be taken seriously and be the focus of this investigation and reporting. If a car was stopped in a travel lane due to mechanical problems and the same thing happened – the onus would be on the drunk driver, not the driver with mechanical problems. This collision should not be treated any differently and I have complete faith in you and the officers at LAPD that this collision will be well investigated and the driver will be held accountable.

Please use this opportunity to try and further educate the media and public about the rights and responsibilities of all road users.

Thank you for your constant hard work and dedication.

Sincerely,

Alexis Lantz
Planning & Policy Director
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

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On an unrelated subject, Byerts also reminds us that current Congressman, future New York mayoral candidate and all around schmuck Anthony Weiner is resigning his office after revelations that he texted images of the little Weiner to a number of women, none of whom his wife.

Considering this is the same guy who famously promised to tear out all of the city’s new bike lanes, I say it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving jackass fellow.

Collision maps reveal L.A.’s unsafe routes to school; more tragedy in pro cycling (and not just Lance)

I knew L.A. wasn’t the safest place to bike or ride.

But it never really sank in until I saw the maps.

Safe Routes to Schools has joined with the LACBC to call attention to just how far this city has to go before children to walk or bike to many schools, especially in lower income areas. New collision maps based on TIMS data (the Transportation Injury Mapping System) clearly shows how many injuries and fatalities occur near schools.

Just take a look at this map showing three years of collision data for South L.A. alone.

And I hope you have a stronger stomach than me when you realize that every dot on that map represents a human being injured or killed on our streets.

Of course, they weren’t all children. But these maps make the strongest argument yet that we have to improve safety around our schools.

“Traffic collisions, and the death or injury of Los Angeles’ people, especially our youngest community members, is heartbreaking and impacts everyone,” says Alexis Lantz, Planning and Policy Director at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

While the city has recently allocated $1.2 million to develop a citywide strategy to provide safer routes for children and their parents to get to and from school — and anyone else who happens to ride or bike nearby — there’s clearly a lot to do.

And a long way to go.

“Now with the TIMS data, the State of California has provided an amazing tool that allows us to see the neighborhoods, intersections and streets of greatest need and make strategic investments.  We need the City to provide staff, and create a plan to implement safety improvements quickly, so we can see our transportation priorities shift.  For too long, there has been a focus on moving cars to the detriment of our health and communities, the City of Los Angeles needs to put safety and people first,” says Jessica Meaney, California Policy Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

I mean, seriously. Just look at the maps.

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In pro cycling news, Movistar rider Xavier Tondo was killed in a freak accident when he was hit by a garage door while leaving for a ride; friends and fellow pros remember him. Conspiracy theorists may note that he had recently told authorities about being approached by a doping ring.

Mikel Nieve scores his second mountain stage win in the Giro, as Alberto Contador surges to more than a four minute lead leading up to Monday’s rest day before the final week of racing.

Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner cross the finish line atop Mt. Baldy at virtually the same time to clinch the Amgen Tour of California for Horner. The Claremont Cyclist spends the morning with Rabobank. What it’s like to ride the Mt. Baldy stage of the AToC. Horner wraps it up on Sunday as HTC rider Matthew Goss wins the final stage and Lance Armstrong’s Team RadioShack takes the first two places in the general classification. Bicycling offers video of post-race reactions, while the Daily News is too busy talking with fans to get the details straight.

Between Chris Horner’s exciting run and the race up Mt. Baldy, this is the first Tour of California that seemed, to me at least, like a legitimate contender as a top-tier cycling race. Now if they can add another challenging stage or two — like maybe a peak-to-peak route around the San Diego area ending with a climb up Mt. Palomar, where snow wouldn’t be a factor — they might have something. Although going head-to-head with the Giro will always be a limiting factor.

And in case you’ve been in a coma the past few days, CBS’ 60 Minutes reported that former friends and teammates of Lance Armstrong  have turned on him to accuse the seven time TdF champ of doping; no one seems to care that George Hincapie reportedly confessed, though. If the accusations against Lance Armstrong are proven, he faces serious jail time; at the very least, his reputation will be in tatters. Tyler Hamilton’s lawyer discusses why the rider finally came clean. Former pro Scott Mercier says doping was pervasive when he was racing in the ’90, and UCI responds with the expected shock and indignation.

A writer for Road.cc asks the same question a lot of riders are asking right now: what happens when your idol and inspiration lets you down? And Italian police reportedly find nothing in an impeccably timed raid on Team RadioSchack’s hotel at the Giro.

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LACBC releases a great new video explaining the upcoming 7th Street road diet and bike lanes in your choice of three popular languages. Meanwhile, those new LED lights on the Elysian Valley section of the L.A. River Bike Path are out of order for the foreseeable future after thieves steal the copper wiring.

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Streetsblog wants your questions for LAPD Sgt. David Krumer, the department’s popular point man for the cycling community. LADOT Bicycle Services unveils a nifty new website. L.A. bike attorney Howard Krepack argues that the safety of cyclists has to be considered during road work, as well. Richard Risemberg looks at the art of riding in Santa Monica. CicLAvia wants to know what you think about the proposed expansion routes into Boyle Heights and South L.A. The Times looks at some unusual bike designs. Santa Monica riders review that city’s proposed bike plan. The recent presidential visit gives a UCLA employee a chance to ride the Westside.

A reader corrects the Press-Enterprise for saying cyclists are required to ride as far right as possible; the writer insists that possible and practicable mean the same thing. A Fresno-area cyclist’s tragic death in a solo bike accident could help up to eight other people through organ donation; I’d want some good to come out of it for someone if anything ever happened to me. Surprisingly, California ranks 20th on the list of bike-friendly states; surprising we’re that high, that is.

USA Today notes a nationwide movement to make the streets safe for cyclists; thanks to Zeke for the heads-up. That great epiphany moment that turns non-cyclists into confirmed riders is a myth. Fifteen reasons to fall in love with your bike. Elly Blue continues her excellent Bikenomics series with a look at riding while broke. Evidently believing them to be magic talismans that will ward off injury, a writer calls bike helmets the most important safe cycling habit — above, say, stopping for traffic signals, remaining visible or riding with traffic, or any of the other riding habits that might keep a helmet from being necessary. A firefighter’s career could be over after a cycling hit-and-run. New Jersey authorities seem unclear on the concept, as they instruct riders to share the road with fast moving traffic, rather than requiring speeding drivers to slow down; it may be time to retire Share the Road entirely. A New York actor and personal therapist explains why he’ll be riding the 10th Anniversary AIDS Ride. In a classic example of press bias, an 11-year old West Virginia boy is sideswiped while riding his bike, yet the local press reports that he collided with the car; thankfully, they note the car was not damaged.

The return of bike season means the return of road rage. Buy a Victorian London house, and get your very own bike museum. Police tell cyclists to stay off the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course. Scott cyclists pay to ride a new freeway for just one day, though not all do it to celebrate. This is what bike parking is supposed to look like; a Brit company tweets to take credit. A video look at the Pillars of Italian Cycling. How about a Norwegian-style bike lift? Jakarta gets its first bike lane, which immediately turns into parking for three-wheeled pedicabs.

Finally, video captures a cyclist getting by a car, and landing on his feet. And apparently, the solution to dropping off a bike and still getting back home is to throw your Dahon on the back of your Urbana — sort of like tossing a Mini in the back of a Hummer.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

As Twain – or was it Disraeli? — suggested, statistics can be used to support virtually any argument, valid or not.

And often, both sides of the same argument.

For instance, numerous New York publications and organizations have used a recent Hunter College study to support their contention that cyclists in the city are a bunch of dangerous, out-of-control scofflaws.

They cite statistics showing that 37% of New York cyclists didn’t stop at red lights, while another 28.7% stopped briefly before going through the light. And that 13% rode the wrong way, against the flow of traffic.

Sounds pretty damning.

But look at it another way, and it shows that 63% of cyclists did stop at red lights, and less than half of those continued through after determining it was safe to proceed. And an overwhelming 87% of cyclists did not ride the wrong way, despite the city’s numerous one-way streets.

Statistics.

I relied on them on the AirTalk program the other day to rebut the popular contention that all cyclists run red lights — citing the Hunter College study, as well as studies from London and Melbourne that each showed a compliance rate of well over 80%.

Other studies allowed me to show that cyclists aren’t the only ones who break the law, such as over a third of drivers routinely run stop signs in residential areas and seven out of 10 drivers exceed the speed limit.

Of course, the validity of the statistics depends on the quality of the research. And like Schroedinger’s Cat, the results can depend on the observer.

For instance, a study by the California Highway Patrol showed that cyclists were at fault in 60% of collisions, while research by a Toronto professor said cyclists were at fault less than 10% of the time. Cyclists would argue that the CHP study offers proof of bias in investigating bicycling accidents; drivers would contend that the Toronto professor’s interpretation of the data was biased because he is a cyclist himself.

I’ve often struggled to find valid statistics for cycling in Los Angeles — like how many people in L.A. ride bikes, what routes are most popular, where they would ride if more people felt safer on the streets, what percentage observe stop signals, and how much cyclists contribute to the local economy.

With over 40 universities in Los Angeles County — including a number of world-class research institutes — it should be easy for the LACBC or the LADOT to find one willing to help design and conduct a study that would answer those questions, and countless more. And give us a detailed picture of where we are now and where we need to go.

Of course, some baby steps have been taken. Earlier this year, the LACBC called on volunteers to conduct the city’s first bike count, establishing a baseline we can use to measure further growth in ridership.

Local cyclists are anxiously awaiting the results — some with rapidly diminishing patience, if my emails are any indication.

Now Alexis Lantz, a Master’s student in UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning — and an intern with the LACBC — is conducting a cycling survey on behalf of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative.

It may not give us all the answers we want. But it could provide a good snapshot of how and why we ride.

You can find it by clicking here. Participation is limited to Los Angeles residents over the age of 18, and the deadline is December 15th.

So why not take few moments to complete the survey?

I just did.

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Westwood is about to get its own Neighborhood Council; could a bikeway through the LA Country Club be far behind? Westwood is also home to a new student bike group, the UCLA Bicycle Coalition. SoCal’s wayfaring bike couple pedal through Yosemite — and they have the breathtaking photos to prove it. Speaking of photos, who knew a Missouri sky could look so good? Now that the Gold Line extension is open, you’ll need a place to park your bike. Maybe you missed Mr. and Mrs. Cindy Crawford riding along the beach last weekend. A Cupertino cyclist is killed in an apparent right hook or left cross. San Francisco wants to know where you ride, and they’ve got just the app to do it. Would stricter penalties help protect vulnerable road users? If you’re riding with an Easton EA30 stem, get off the bike and stop riding now; then again, if you’re riding now, you shouldn’t be reading this. For a change, the Feds want to increase bike and pedestrian funding. Coming soon: your very own I Pay Road Tax jersey. Finally, the most stirring eight minutes of bicycling video you’re likely to see today. And the music’s not bad, either.

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