Tag Archive for anti-bike bias

Morning Links: CM Cedillo turns a deaf ear to pleas of bike riders, portraying cyclists as bullies from the 1%

Evidently, 1st District Councilmember Gil Cedillo doesn’t understand how democracy works.

Word from yesterday’s LA City Council session is that Cedillo turned a deaf ear to the pleas of bike riders begging for a safer street on North Figueroa, and instead went forward with a plan to install diagonal parking rather than the bike lanes called for in the city’s already approved bike plan.

As anyone who has ever ridden or driven past cars attempting to back out of an angled parking space can attest, that does the exact opposite of improving safety.

Standing in the same chamber where retired councilmember Bill Rosendahl famously declared that “the culture of the car is going to end now!,” Cedillo insisted that he would not be bullied by cyclists.

I didn’t know that the pleas of a traffic minority group begging for a safe place to travel on our streets amounted to bullying; it seems more like a constituent group lobbying an apparently uncaring elected leader for relief, to me. Which is the very definition of democracy in action.

But what the hell do I know.

Cedillo also described bike riders as “the one percent,” deliberately miscasting cyclists with a term used to imply social and economic exclusivity, based on census data that bike riders make up just one percent of LA’s commuter traffic.

Never mind that the one percent stat only refers to rush hour commuters, and does not count the many people who ride to school or to do errands. Or the many low income, often immigrant, riders in his own district who ride to and from their jobs any hour of the day, often because they have no other way to get there.

And this from a man who publicly professes his support for immigrants to anyone who will listen.

Of course, no one should be surprised by the cold shoulder bicyclists received from Cedillo. Ever since his election last year, it has been clear that he intended to renege on the promise he made to support bike lanes on North Figueroa, back when he still needed our votes.

Cedillo has evidently made the political calculation that he doesn’t need our support to retain his office, in a city where incumbent councilmembers almost never lose elections.

Let’s hope we can prove him wrong.

More disappointing is that no one else on the council, or in city government — all the way up to the mayor’s office — has had the courage to stand up to the real bully in the room.

On that day nearly five years ago when LA bike riders finally found the voice we so desperately needed at City Hall, Rosendahl proclaimed, speaking for the full council, “We’re going to give cyclists the support they should have been getting.”

Unfortunately, Rosendahl has left the council.

And the support for cyclists appears to have gone with him.

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Be careful riding in Glendale, which once again ranks near the bottom on a list of America’s worst drivers.

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Local

Who says no one rides in the rain?

LA Curbed offers a look at the design finalists for the planned bike/ped bridge over the LA River at the Glendale Narrows.

The Mid City West Community Council is teaming with the LACBC to offer a bike safety class on Sunday, January 11th.

Streetsblog spinoff Longbeachize celebrates its first anniversary tonight with a happy hour at the Blind Donkey in Long Beach.

 

State

An arrest is finally made after at least six cyclists were knocked off their bikes by a thief who then rode off on the bicycles in San Francisco’s Panhandle area.

Another would-be bike thief is busted after trying to wrestle a bike from a man inside a store in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

 

National

Cycling Savvy offers ten tips for successful bicycling in traffic.

Bounce back from your next hard ride with a little tart cherry juice.

More Denver residents are biking and walking to work, thanks in part to the city’s investment in better bike infrastructure.

An 18-year old Boston hit-and-run driver was allegedly under the influence of prescription drugs when he took out a cyclist and five parked cars while fleeing police; the rider is expected to survive, no word on the cars.

In more bike thief news, a Louisiana man is busted for burgling a $5,000 bike from a Mandeville bike shop.

 

International

We all know about the most popular bicycling movies, but what about the top five unknown cycling films?

No, really, the doping era in pro cycling is over. Even though a Mexican rider was arrested smuggling EPO through an airport.

Turns out bicyclists in the UK’s north may be marginally tougher than their southern counterparts.

Excerpts from a new book reveal the ugly drug-fueled final days of Italian cycling legend Marco Pantani.

 

Finally…

No, seriously, if you’re going to rob a pedestrian while riding your bike, make sure he’s got more than $7 on him first. It might have been more helpful if advice on how to bike home with your Christmas tree had come before most people had already bought one.

And caught on video: A cyclist survives a collision with a hit-and-run deer that violated his right-of-way, then fled the scene without stopping to render aid or exchange IDs.

Morning Links: San Diego cyclists get blamed for collisions, and accused Eagleson killer enters not guilty plea

Evidently, it’s our fault.

Mostly, anyway.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, an analysis of San Diego bike crashes since 2011 shows cyclists at fault in nearly 60% of collisions.

Of course, those stats are based on police collision reports. And as the story notes, the results are subject to question.

Their accuracy depends largely on the individual officer’s knowledge and interpretation of bike law, ability to properly investigate bike collisions — especially when the injured cyclist is often unable to give his or her side of the story — and a lack of bias.

The simple fact is that few California police officers receive adequate, let alone in-depth, training in the rights and responsibilities of bike riders, as evidenced by the frequency with which riders are ticketed for things that aren’t actually illegal, such as riding in the traffic lane or two or more abreast.

And none are trained in the unique forensics of bicycle collisions, which differ dramatically from typical automobile crashes.

As for bias, with the exception of bike cops and officers who ride on their own time, most cops see the world from the same windshield perspective as other motorists.

All of which means that stats like this may provide support those who want to write bike riders off as law-breaking scofflaws.

But until we demand better bike training for traffic investigators — and police officers in general — they will have little basis in reality.

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Local

Not even zoo animals are safe from LA’s hit-and-run drivers, as a big horn sheep is killed after escaping its enclosure, and the jerk behind the wheel just keeps on driving.

Velonews reports on the first day of the CXLA Weekend at the Greek, with victories by Katerina Nash and James Driscoll in the elite races. Cycling Across LA offers video of the race.

A ride will be held on December 7th to honor fallen cyclist Milt Olin, roughly three months after the DA dishonored him by refusing to file charges in the case.

BikeSGV delivers their monthly newsletter filled with upcoming events in the San Gabriel Valley

 

State

Neil Storm Stephany entered a not guilty plea Friday in the alleged intoxicated hit-and-run death of cyclist Shaun Eagleson in Newport Beach last month. Stephany faces a well-deserved murder charge based on a prior DUI conviction.

Short-sighted San Clemente votes not to include bike lanes in a coming reconstruction of Calle Frontera, apparently not realizing that giving people an alternative to driving could reduce traffic.

‘Tis the season: A Pismo Beach man donates 57 bikes to the local sheriff’s department to give away for Christmas.

 

National

Great news from Tucson, as former Rep. Gabby Giffords gets back on her bike three years after the near-fatal shooting.

A road raging Seattle driver faces just three to nine months in jail following her conviction for second-degree assault for intentionally running down a cyclist in a horrific attack.

An allegedly very drunk Chicago bike share rider is critically injured after being hit by two cars.

Turns out that Wolverine-playing song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman is one of us, as he goes for a cold weather ride on the streets of New York.

A father and daughter finish their 4,200 mile trip from Washington to Key West to benefit wounded vets.

 

International

E-bikes are on a roll in Europe, but just starting to catch on in the US.

Bikes will be banned from a bucolic garden bridge over the Thames because they would allegedly spoil the peaceful walking atmosphere. And as we all know, it’s impossible to ride a bike peacefully.

Caught on video: A London cyclist captures a first-hand perspective of what it’s like to be hit by an unseen cab; the footage is evidence in a civil case.

Down Under girls just want to have fun on fixies. That is, if they’re not collecting a menagerie of bikes.

A newborn Aussie baby is safe, thanks to the cyclists who discovered him hidden in a storm drain where he had been abandoned up to five days earlier.

 

Finally…

Turns out rocket powered cyclists are nothing new. British cyclists have a better knowledge of road safety than motorists do; not surprising, since people on bikes are a lot more vulnerable on the roads those who can rely seat belts, air bags and crumple zones.

And a Boston man confronts the thief who’s stealing his bike, and wins.

 

A new video — and change of heart — from the formerly bike-hating former reserve Santa Paula police officer

Now she gets it.

Maybe you remember a couple weeks ago when the internet blew up over a bike-hating video from a woman who was quickly identified as a reserve Santa Paula police officer.

Even though, as it turned out, Laura Weintraub was only peripherally associated with the department, helping out around the office a few hours a week. She was never a patrol officer, and never in a position to enforce the law, fairly or otherwise.

And the bike-friendly department she barely worked for got an undeserved black eye based on the comments of someone who should have known better.

It wasn’t like the anger we all felt wasn’t justified.

Weintraub’s failed attempt at humor fell into a long list of shock jocks, newspaper columnists, comedians, online commenters and just plain anti-social jerks who can’t seem to understand that bike riders have as much a right to the road as they do.

And that we’re all just people trying to get from here to there in one piece.

They somehow seem to think the idea of running us over or off the road is outrageously funny. And fail to grasp the concept that a simple tap that would be nothing more than a fender bender between cars could result in serious injury — or worse — if it was with a cyclist, instead.

I was as outraged as anyone.

Yet somehow felt that in our anger, we were missing out on a teachable moment. One that could allow us to reach out to the Santa Paula police, and maybe even drivers like Weintraub herself, to educate them on our rights and how to drive safely around us. And why.

Turns out, a lot of people read that piece.

Including Laura Weintraub.

So I was surprised when I opened my inbox a few days later to find an email from the alleged bike hater herself, asking if we could talk.

When we spoke on the phone a few days later, I found a very caring and contrite young woman who realized she’d made the biggest mistake of her life. And had listened to the angry comments directed her way, and truly got just how and why she was so wrong, and why we were all so upset with her.

A typical motorist, she had never seen us from anything other than a windshield perspective, unaware of our right to the road and the dangers we face on a daily basis from drivers just like her.

She’d never put herself in our position, literally or figuratively, she said.

But she wanted to.

So I agreed to meet with her, and take her on a ride through the relatively quiet streets of Santa Monica and Venice, unwilling to throw a neophyte rider into the deep end on more challenging streets.

Even that brief tour through tame traffic scared her. But somehow, she held her own, remembering the riding tips she’d gotten from me, as well as cycling instructor Stanley Appleman the day before.

She also picked my brain in an attempt to truly understand the dangers we face, and what we can do to make peace on the roads with people like her.

Or at least, like the way she’d been a few weeks before.

She’s changed. She truly gets it.

She’s doing her best to make amends. Not to improve her badly tarnished reputation, but to fix the mistake she made.

And talk to the people out there who might have found the humor in her previously video, and explain to them and other like-minded drivers that we’re all just people, on two wheels or four.

But don’t take my word for it.

Take a look at her latest video, and decide for yourself.

And let’s stop the death threats. Against her or anyone else, no matter how deserved you think they may be.

Just like her earlier video, it’s not funny.

And never appropriate.

 

Morning Links: The battle over Santa Paula cop’s anti-bike video is over, but we may have lost the war

And then it was over.

Less than 36 hours after the flap over a bike hating Santa Paula reserve police officer blew up online and in her face, she found herself unemployed by the department.

Apparently her own choice, much to the displeasure of countless riders who were out for blood. And not in a mood for ritual career hari-kari.

I first became aware of the video in question when Bike Snob tweeted about it on Saturday morning.

Meet Laura Weintraub, horrible person, incompetent videographer, and utter moron: 

Like countless others, I watched in varying degrees of horror and outrage as she laughingly expressed her hatred of bikes, bicyclists and spandex, as well as her desire to run us all off or into the road.

After tweeting about it a few times myself, I made plans to express my own outrage on here. Only to discover the video had been taken down before I could get to it, leaving nothing to link to and no copy to repost.

Meanwhile, the proverbial defecation had hit the fan.

It didn’t take long for someone to discover that she worked as reserve officer for the Santa Paula PD, compounding the outrage that a uniformed cop would express such offensive thoughts in a cheap and badly failed attempt at humor.

Although cop is stretching it; someone sent me a link to a page showing Weintraub had made less than $100 working for the department in recent weeks.

Countless riders — and others who simply didn’t like the idea of killing or maiming innocent people for giggles — inundated Weintraub’s Facebook page, as well as the SPPD, with calls, emails and online comments.

She responded by removing the offensive video without comment, followed by what seemed like a sincere apology. Or at least, a damn good job of faking one.

I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists. It was never meant to be hurtful or harmful in anyway, I am a human being, I made a mistake, I have learned from this and ask for your forgiveness. The responses have shown me overwhelmingly just how hurtful my comments were to some and that is not at all what I intended. As soon as I knew, I removed the video immediately.

The response from the cycling community has made me aware of the sport and its safety issues and challenges with drivers on the road of which I was completely unaware. My heartfelt apologies to those that have been offended and to those who face these very real challenges.

Then again, you’d think any reasonably sentient being would get that calling for violence against anyone for the simple crime of riding a bike would likely be taken the wrong — or in this case, the right — way.

For some inexplicable reason, though, many drivers don’t seem the grasp the fact that people don’t just bounce back after being knocked down; what would be a simple fender bender if they hit another car could be catastrophic if they collided with a cyclist or pedestrian.

Although you’d certainly think a cop — even a lowly reserve officer — would grasp the damage motor vehicles can do in the wrong hands.

At the same time, we can only imagine Chief Steven McLean’s reaction, as whatever community relations he had managed to build up in his year on the job were seemingly undone in a single afternoon by someone who barely worked for him.

Once his head undoubtedly finished exploding, the long-time veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department responded by suspending Weintraub pending investigation. Along with another reserve officer who snarkily answered the criticism by complimenting her videos and suggesting cyclists need to obey the law.

At that point, the controversy appeared to be over. The video was down, the woman in question appeared to have learned her lesson, and the chief had done the right thing.

And then the media picked up the story, further fanning the justifiable outrage long after the fact, and leading to countless calls for Weintraub’s job, if not her head.

The final shoe dropped Sunday evening when Chief McLean posted on Facebook that he had accepted her resignation effective immediately — whether she volunteered it or he demanded it was left unstated.

So allow me to offer a contrary opinion.

I’m sorry to see her go.

Had she remained on the job — or even in limbo for awhile — we would have had a rare opportunity for a teachable moment.

If she truly got what she did wrong, and listened, as she said, to the many reasons why her attempt at humor wasn’t funny, she might have become more sympathetic to cyclists and a positive influence on her fellow officers. Or at the very least, unlikely to make a similar mistake a second time.

Not that she didn’t deserve to lose her job. But I’ve found that forgiveness is often more effective than vengeance in the long run.

Meanwhile, Santa Paula cyclists would have had a rare opportunity to demand a meeting with the chief and his officers to discuss the rights of riders and explain the risks we face in employing our legal and moral right to the road.

That door is probably closed now.

Chief McLean is likely to conclude that the matter has been concluded now that Weintraub is no longer a part of the department. And given the entirely justifiable vitriol dumped on him and his officers, he’s unlikely to open his door to our representatives anytime soon.

Which is not to say the anger wasn’t justified.

It was.

I was just as livid as anyone else when I viewed the video. However, we need to learn to direct that anger effectively, not just to get a young woman who did something incredibly stupid fired.

But to use it as an opportunity to build better relations with those charged with enforcing our rights. And achieve long-lasting changes that can and will improve safety and courtesy for everyone on the roads.

We won the battle.

But in doing so, we may have shot ourselves in the foot. And cost us an opportunity for dialogue that may not come again.

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about this story; there are simply far too many to thank each of you individually.

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Local

The media seems to be coming down on the other side of Gil Cedillo’s veto of the North Figueroa road diet — a veto that may or may not be legal.

Construction delays are keeping a new section of the LA River Greenway from opening.

The next LACBC Sunday Funday ride rolls through Lakewood on Sunday, August 3rd.

Neon Tommy looks at how bikes empower women.

 

State

New Seal Beach bike paths help close some of the final links in Orange County’s 66 mile OC Loop. Note to Press-Telegram: bike riders can actually ride anywhere they want in Downey, or anywhere else for that matter.

Caltrans will widen bike lanes through Chico to improve a dangerous section of roadway.

 

National

Google Maps now allows you to check elevations on your route, whether you want to seek out hills or avoid them.

Colorado Springs CO cyclists are tired of riding in the killing zone.

If you want to talk with the mayor of Fort Worth, you’d better get on your bike. Meanwhile, neighboring Dallas has a new bike czar.

New Orleans riders rally to demand safer streets.

 

International

A Montreal letter writer says cyclists aren’t a menace on the roads, comparing the one Canadian killed by a bike in 2010 with the 2,227 killed by cars. He’s got a point.

Indian army cyclists ride over 400 miles through the Himalayas, at altitudes up to 19,000 feet in an attempt to set a new record.

Talk about a good cause. A cyclist is planning to spend a full year riding across Ghana to meet 25,000 people and raise funds to provide shelter and healthcare for the county’s homeless street kids.

A young Kiwi rider overcomes diabetes to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

Cyclist deaths expose a culture clash on the congested streets of Sydney, Australia; thanks to New Colonist for the heads-up.

The best way to see Beijing is by bike.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Before you build that bike jump, put a little thought into how you’re going to land. A Dutch pro miraculously avoids death on both Malaysian Airlines disasters.

And a special thanks to Cycling in the Southbay’s Seth Davidson for his very kind words and high praise.

 

Morning Links: Biking backlash to misguided WaPo bikelash, and a fund for injured Manhattan Beach racer

Nice.

The transportation beat reporter for the Washington Post responds to yesterday’s anti-bike screed from a fellow WaPo writer.

Here’s my bias: No matter how you go — bike, car, bus, train, boat or plane — I want you to get there safely.

I’m sick to death of people who take risks with other people’s lives.

And lately I’ve become disgusted with all the venom aimed at cyclists.

It’s a great piece. Take a few moments to read it.

I’ll wait.

Back already?

A writer for the Washingtonian offers his own response. The editor of Greater Greater Washington — the site that innocently set off the misguided screed — suggests letting understanding win over hatred. The Brooklyn Spoke says embracing the crazy is the best way to stop the bikelash.

And Streetsblog USA cites still more sources giving the misguided rant the smackdown it deserves.

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Great Le Tour coverage from VeloNews.

Defending champ Chris Froome is out after falling on rain-soaked cobbles, his third crash in two days; Team Sky’s decision to leave Wiggins at home is looking pretty foolish, despite what the team manager says. Then again, things aren’t looking so good for the Spaniards, either. American Tejay van Garderen is growing into his role as team leader for BMC.

And China’s first Tour de France rider is hanging in there, while Garmin-Sharp domestique Jack Bauer says in a Bicycling video that Wednesday’s Stage Five was as bad as it gets.

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A fund has been set up for SoCalCycling.com Team rider Ronnie Toth, who was severely injured in the final sprint of the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix this past Sunday.

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Streetsblog’s Joe Linton adds to the discussion of the OC cyclist threatened with arrest for swearing at the road raging driver who tried to run him off the road.

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Local

Bike liability lawyer and BikinginLA sponsor Jim Procrass answers an intriguing question on Streetsblog: Can city council members be held liable after killing bike safety improvements?

PCH remains a dangerous place, as a 58-year old rider is injured in a collision in Pacific Palisades; thanks to Barry Goch for the heads-up. Meanwhile, a writer for the Weekly says riding a bike in LA can be deadlier than Mumbai or Shanghai.

Protesters march on Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s office to demand a safer North Figueroa.

Levi’s will open a pop-up bike commuter hub in Los Angeles next month; other hubs will open in Brooklyn and London.

Bike in to the Frog Spot on the LA River bike path in Elysian Valley.

Santa Monica police insist their announced July crackdown on bike riders is about education, not writing tickets. So remind them about that if they pull you over; I’m sure they won’t mind.

Long Beach police catch a thief with a taste for $1000 bikes.

Santa Clarita will add more off-road bike trails to their existing 76-mile network.

Westlake Village resident and former pro rider Dave Zabriskie, aka Captain America, calls on everyone to use common sense to improve safety for cyclists.

 

State

A Newport Beach bike rider goes from collision victim to wanted criminal after whacking the driver with a bottle.

Turns out that USA Today report listing San Diego as one of America’s top 10 bicycling cities was based on a single bike path across the bay in Coronado. But admittedly, it’s a nice path.

A writer for Wired takes a three-day, 77-mile journey through the Mojave Desert.

When you’re a known Ukiah meth user on probation with a recent firearm arrest, stop for the damn police car already. Or at least, don’t ride in front of it.

 

National

An NPR producer describes the lessons learned from her high-speed solo cycling fall. Like know your limits and stop when your body says enough.

A Portland rider discovers the risks of falling of your bike include contracting flesh eating bacteria.

Nice to see some businesses get it. Instead of fighting bike lanes, a group of Portland business owners ask for a protected bike lane in front of their storefronts.

Lance gets props from cops for trying to help catch a notorious Austin bike thief.

Instant Karma? An Atlanta thief is severely injured doing a faceplant while trying to ride off with a purloined bike.

 

International

Caught on video: After a speeding motorist nearly runs down a Brit cyclist, he tries again. In reverse.

Scotland’s Town Mouse takes the long way home through the rural countryside. Looks like a lovely ride; maybe she can show me the way someday.

Corking intersections may be controversial, but a network of new bike lanes in Cork, Ireland should be reason to celebrate.

 

Finally…

Don’t get drunk and ride through the middle of a police investigation. Just don’t. Bikeyface says it’s hard to talk to a machine, let alone understand what it’s trying to say.

And bike friendly Beverly Hills toasts their 12th annual Cycling Classic with a special brew. No, sadly, not that Beverly Hills.

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Fight for Westwood bike lanes at LA City Council Tuesday; Times writer tells motorists to get a grip

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has issued an action alert calling for bike riders to attend tomorrow’s city council session to protest the cancellation of planned bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard.

Please join us for a day of action tomorrow to urge Councilmember Koretz to keep his promise to study bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. He told us that we would be able to share our thoughts at a public forum, which he then canceled. So, we want to make sure he hears that you support bike lanes on Westwood.

You can show your support in two ways:

1) Join us at City Council at 10 AM tomorrow when we give public comment. You will have two minutes to make your case for bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. Let us know you’re coming: email alek@la-bike.org with your name and address and we’ll fill out a public comment card for you.

Council Chambers (10 AM on Tuesday)
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

2) Can’t make it downtown? Call Koretz’s office and share your thoughts. Dial (310) 289-0353 (field office) or (213) 473-7005 (downtown office). Then, email alek@la-bike.org to let us know how it went.

Sample script:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a (resident of CD5, student at UCLA, etc.) and I’m calling to urge Councilmember Koretz to complete the study of the Westwood Boulevard bike lanes and have a transparent public process, like he promised. Bike lanes on Westwood are important to me because…”

What’s your reason for supporting bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard? Consider these when making comments either at City Council or on the phone:

Safety – A report by Neighborhood Bike Ambassador and Westside South of Santa Monica (WSSM) resident Calla Weimer shows a history of collisions along Westwood in just the six blocks from Santa Monica Blvd to Pico. Westwood Blvd is among the most-traveled streets for bicyclists on the Westside that does not have bike lanes.

Lack of good alternatives – There’s been a lot of talk about alternatives, but when you map them out, they are hillier, indirect, have stop signs nearly every block, or lack ways to cross major boulevards. All of these factors make Westwood Blvd the preferred route for bicyclists.

Bikes are good for business – Study after study shows that bicyclists are a boon for local business. Bicyclists can stop on a whim, park easily, and shop more frequently that those arriving by other means. Routing bike traffic on side streets between major employment and transit hubs is a missed opportunity for small businesses.

Sustainability – Just days after opposing the Westwood bike lanes, Councilmember Koretz attended the launch of the UCLA Grand Challenge, calling for Los Angeles to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Transportation is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles, and research clearly demonstrates that alternatives to driving must be convenient for people to use them.

Access to the Expo Line – The Westwood station on the Expo Line will not have public parking, making it all the more important that it is accessible by bike. Over 90% of Metro customers access transit without a car. Metro is currently analyzing corridors for potential station access improvements and bikeshare opportunities, but Westwood will miss out if the bike lanes do not go through.

I can’t make it, since I’ll be sitting in for Damien Newton as guest editor of LA Streetsblog in the morning.

But I urge you to attend, or call or email CM Kortetz’ office if you can’t. Because a decision that gives a greater value to the convenience of a few homeowners over the safety of cyclists should not be allowed to stand.

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This is the editorial I’ve been waiting for, as a writer for the Times tells motorists who claim cyclists have it coming to get a grip.

Bravo.

So what is it that drives otherwise rational people to fits of apoplexy when the subject of cycling comes up?

Yes, some cyclists break the rules. Dangerously, at times.

But sit by any major street, and it only takes moments to observe an unending stream of stupid driver tricks. And has been pointed out many times before, even the most reckless cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Dangerous drivers kill; dangerous cyclists and pedestrians get killed.

The risk is by no means equivalent.

And only a truly sick SOB would ever take pleasure or find justification in the needless death of another human being.

So get a grip. And get over it already.

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Vancouver Cycle Chic writer Chris Bruntlett interviews me and other LA bikevocates in a photo essay on the state of bicycling in Los Angeles; a nice piece from a nice guy.

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4314920.web.templateCycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson rides to remember a fallen cyclist he didn’t know and writes about it movingly.

Speaking of Seth, word is he has a book coming out this week, with a signing this Thursday at 7 pm at Pages: A Book Store, 904 Manhattan Ave in Manhattan Beach — including wine from Victoria Hill Vineyards and beer from Strand Brewing. That alone would make it worth the trip to the South Bay.

Seth is one of my favorite bike writers, veering from wildly inappropriate to outrageously funny to deeply moving. Sometimes in the same post.

Something tells me his book will be on the can’t miss gift list for a lot of bike riders this year. Including mine.

Maybe a copy will find its way into my stocking.

And yes, that’s a hint. But someone please tell my wife, since she doesn’t read my blog.

………

Don’t miss the LACBC Open House on December 5th; and yes, I’ll be there. How to protect your bike from theft while riding Metro; this is what can happen if you don’t. Pardon me boy, is that the Westwood Blvd choo choo tracks? Take a bike train to the LA Gran Prix on Saturday, and watch the first ever Wolfpacktrack Invitational. Better Bike recaps a recent tour of soon-to-be-made-over Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, with possible plans for bike lanes. A bike rider in Santa Monica gets hit by a car, assaults the driver, jumps up and down on the roof, and gets arrested; not that he overreacted or anything. New protected bike lanes in the San Gabriel Valley. Cyclists helping others with the SC Velo and Incycle Thanksgiving food drive. CLR Effect offers incredible photos from the El Dorado Park Cyclocross; hey Michael, ever think about putting a bike calendar together?

Six highlights from the recent California Bike Summit. Orange County riders turn out to remember fallen cyclist Paul Lin. Too bad this one is buried behind the paywall, as the OC Register’s Dan Whiting says it’s worth two seconds to save a cyclist’s life; I may disagree with Dan from time to time, but no one ever said his heart isn’t in the right place. An OC driver is sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing a cheerleader while drunk, thus proving the lives of cheerleaders are more valuable than cyclists; thanks to George Cook for the link. San Diego cyclists complain about trash cans in the bike lane. A memorial ride was held Saturday for popular San Diego cyclist Udo Heinz, who was killed by a bus on Camp Pendleton last August. Santa Barbara paramedics pitch in to buy a special needs man a new bike less than an hour after his was stolen. Some Santa Cruz cyclists protest the groundbreaking for a new bike path. A 72-year old cyclist suffers major injuries in a Cayucos collision. More evidence that police officers don’t always understand the laws they enforce. Two teens injured in Stockton bike-by shooting; thanks to Cyclelicious for the heads-up. San Francisco police are accused of beating a bike rider for riding on the sidewalk, then beating people who tried to come to his aid; turns out he was only packing a cupcake.

Lactic acid is your friend; no, really, that’s what they say. Floyd Landis goes to war against Lance Armstrong; speaking of Lance, he says former UCI president Verbruggen was in on the cover-up. Well, duh. A ghost bike goes up in my hometown. A Wisconsin bike evangelist wants you to get ‘bent. The NYPD cracks down on bicyclists for riding on a bike path. Riding with Wall Street MAMILS on $20,000 bikes.

In a virtual repeat of the Santa Barbara story, a stranger buys a new bike for an autistic Canadian boy after his is stolen. Is London Mayor Boris pushing too fast to make the city bike friendly, or not fast enough? Following a rash of bicycling deaths in London, police wisely choose to crack down on the victims, rather than the big ass trucks that are killing them. London gang members are barred from riding bikes to prevent them from committing crimes or fleeing police; yeah, they couldn’t possibly just take the Tube or run away or anything. Eight reasons to be grateful to cyclists. A UK driver didn’t see the young bike rider he killed because he was safely checking his rearview mirror; oh, well okay, then. UK police confiscate a $273,000 McLaren supercar after the uninsured driver hits a cyclist; seriously, you drive a quarter-of-a-million dollar car and can’t carry a little insurance? An 18-year old Irish rider pleads guilty to the new charge of drunk cycling; just one of an average five Irish cyclists who appear in court each week. A Spanish cyclist is fined the equivalent of $135 for eating a croissant while riding. Bicycling should be encouraged in India so youths learn to maintain balance in their lives. Can someone please explain what a Kiwi bike rider who was seriously injured after riding into a parked car five years ago has to do with a call to wear hi-viz to improve visibility?

Finally, a cyclist does the right thing by giving up bicycling to take up driving; no really, you should read this one. Unlike the Chinese driver who did the wrong thing, promising to take the cyclist he hit to the hospital before dumping him on the side of the road.

And if this wasn’t enough to satisfy your bike link lust, the world’s biggest and best bike link compendium is just a click away.

Anti-bike hatred rears it’s ugly head once again, wrapped in seeming rationality

There’s been another rash of bike hate in the media recently.

As well as a story a lot of cyclists loved. With a few notable exceptions.

In that particular case, a San Francisco rider writes an OpEd piece for the New York Times, saying it shouldn’t be okay to kill cyclists and walk away without charges. Even though that’s what usually happens.

His message clearly struck chord with bike riders, as links to the story flew across the weekend blogosphere and Twitterverse. Even the LA Times used it as a platform to ask why the driver usually gets the benefit of the doubt when a cyclist is killed.

Why indeed.

As both writers point out, and too many of us have learned the hard way, justice can be a hard thing to find when there’s a bike involved.

Meanwhile, another writer used the story to object that the driver who killed Paul Lin in Newport Beach last week hasn’t been charged. Although what I’m hearing suggests that the driver may not have been entirely at fault this time. (Update: other sources indicate Lin was at the end of a group of riders making a left turn, and may have still been in the intersection when the light changed, and that the driver may not have slowed in anticipation of the light changing.)

Not everyone approved, however.

The Economist calls it Onion-like before going on to compare the way the US handles such cases with how they’re handled in The Netherlands. Not favorably, I might add.

And Bike Snob declares his hatred for the piece. Especially the coda that calls for cyclists to be on our best behavior so we’ll earn the respect of police and motorists.

He’s got a point.

We shouldn’t have to be perfect ambassadors on the streets to get the same respect — let alone justice — which too many motorists too often seem to consider a God-given right, regardless of their own behavior behind the wheel.

Then there’s the anti-bike lane diatribe from last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, in which an Alexandria VA homeowner complains of attempts by bicyclists to besmirch his quaint little town with bike lanes. And warns that we’ll soon be coming to your town, too.

Unfortunately, this steaming pile of hate appears to have slunk back behind the Journal’s paywall, although your luck in accessing it may be better than mine.

But at least you can still see DC Streetsblog’s response to the WSJ once again allowing anti-bike bigots to sully their pages.

Then again, we’d all be better off if The Weekly Standard had locked its bike-smearing diatribe behind a paywall where no one would see it.

In a piece with a publication date that’s still nearly a week away, it starts out bad, blaming cyclists for the New England cop who dangerously stood in the roadway to halt a group of riders — seriously, what would the reaction have been if he’d stepped in front of a group of moving cars — and goes downhill fast.

His argument is that American streets are already crammed to over capacity, and there’s just no room left for anyone traveling on less than four wheels. And we bike riders don’t share the road so much as take it over to the detriment of motorists and the American way.

So, except in a few spots where roads were built too wide and can now accommodate bike paths, adding bicycles to the mix means squeezing cars. Bike-riders don’t “share” the road so much as take it over. Their wish is generally that the right-hand lane of any major or medium-sized road be turned into a bike lane or, at best, a shared-use lane. This would place drivers in a position of second-class citizenship on roads that were purpose-built for them. There are simply not enough cyclists to make that a reasonable idea. What is going on is the attempt of an organized private interest to claim a public good. Cyclists remind one of those residents in exurban subdivisions who, over years, allow grass and shrubbery to encroach on dirt public sidewalk until it becomes indistinguishable from their yards, and then sneakily fence it in.

The worst part is, like a few Congress members I could name, he sounds reasonable at first.

Until you realize that he’s getting many, of not most, of the facts and all of the opinions wrong. And it eventually dawns on you, if you’re paying attention, that his ranting conveys no more logical sense than a rabid monkey flailing on a keyboard.

And that he is actually the motoring equivalent of a Klansman explaining with seeming reasonableness why Jim Crow was a good idea.

And that’s the worst kind of hate of all.

………

A new online petition calls on local officials to investigate that anti-bike sign in East San Diego County encouraging drivers to run over cyclists. And yes, I signed it — the petition that is, not the sign.

Unfortunately, though, I’ve lost track of who sent this to me, so please accept my apologies and thanks.

………

Efforts are still underway to fix LA’s crumbling streets. It looks like LA’s mayor heard our complaints, and said slow down on the killer high-speed Hyperion-Glendale bridge design. In case you missed Artcrank last weekend — like me — JoJo offersgreat photo set showing most of the posters. Downtown News says bike share is a natural fit for DTLA. Downtown gets buffered bike lanes through the iconic 2nd Street tunnel. Another Perfect Day looks at the sad decline of Westwood Village, and call for protected bike lanes to help turn it around; speaking of which, here are the benefits of protected bike lanes in a single graphic. Santa Monica police bust a trio of bike thieves; they used to hang rustlers where I come from, and bike thieves don’t seem all that different to me. San Marino council considers the city’s proposed bike plan today, along with bike lanes and declaring next week Bike Week.

Turns out corporate bike fleets aren’t a risky investment after all. Chico businesses do the right thing, as they raise funds for a rider killed in the city recently. Following the recent California Bike Summit, the Times says bikes are an equal opportunity opportunity. Women on Bikes SoCal blossoms into the statewide Pedal Love.

A new study discovers just what kind of bikeway images people like, even if it seems to put the SF Weekly in a bit of a snit. Your next helmet could fold flat and look like a turtle. Eleven signs you might be a cyclist. Oregon infographic clearly shows who pays for the roads. Kill a Washington cyclist, claim you had a seizure and walk away with a hefty fine. A Montana paper says educating road users is important, but you can do everything right and still get run over; too true. If a driver doesn’t get a ticket following a collision, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect. Kill an Ohio cyclist while driving drunk, and get a whopping 30 days in jail. Louisville KY gets sporadic bike lanes. The person accused of killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run ran down another rider two years before. Clearly, blocking bike lanes isn’t just an LA problem. The big hearted people of Mobile AL decide ghost bikes are eyesores that should be removed; maybe they should be writing for The Weekly Standard.

One of Britain’s leading architecture experts is killed in a riding crash. London bystanders lift a car off a trapped cyclist. UK Parliament Member wants to encourage bike riding by mandating registration, taxes and insurance. Repeat after me — don’t punch the drivers, not matter how much you think they deserve it; just don’t. Someone is trying to decapitate cyclists in Edinburgh; deliberate sabotage aimed at cyclists should be considered a terrorist attack. After yet another triathlete is run down, bike clubs in the United Arab Emirates say roads were built for cars and bikes don’t belong on them; seriously? Someone please tell Lance to get over it, already, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Bike riding Aussie father dies after hitting a rock in the road, despite an origami crane campaign. Australian trucks will warn motorists a meter matters when passing cyclists. A Kiwi mom wants to know why the front wheel of the bike she bought collapsed as she was riding it; maybe because it cost $159 and came from Kmart? A New Zealand doctor says one-way separated bikeways are safest. Bike without brakes and face arrest in Japan.

Finally, after a 75-year old UK woman dumps dog shit on a cyclist’s head for riding too close, she tells him to go cry to his mummy; nice lady. And speaking of dumping a load of crap, you can now find me on the VeloReviews website.

Wait, that didn’t come out right.

Bike hate and road rage rear their ugly heads in San Diego County, leaving one rider seriously injured

Photo by @bikeSD

Photo from Sam Ollinger of BikeSD.com

Some people don’t even try to hide their willingness — if not desire — to kill you for getting in their way.

Bike San Diego reports coming across a frightening sign on the side of the road saying it’s better to run over a cyclist than risk a head-on collision by going around one.

I think the writer misunderstands the basic concept of sharing the road. It does not mean that bike riders have to get the hell out of the way, despite what some impatient drivers might suggest.

And unless you’re a total ass behind the wheel, hell-bent on getting where you’re going as fast as humanly possible regardless of the cost, it is in fact possible to wait patiently until it’s safe to pass, and avoid the risk of collision altogether.

The writer also makes it clear that he — I’m assuming, perhaps erroneously, that such a hate-filled colossal pile of human waste capable of writing something like this must be a he — couldn’t care less about the person on that bike if it’s in his way.

On the other hand, he very carefully avoids crossing the line by actually inciting violence. The sign is on private property, and as offensive as it is, the writer has a First Amendment right to express his highly objectionable opinion as long as he doesn’t actually encourage drivers to run cyclists over.

On the other hand, if he even so much as bumps the wheel of a bike, this sign could offer proof of criminal intent.

For the rest of his life.

………

A San Diego cyclist was nearly killed in a collateral damage collision between two road raging drivers on Saturday.

The drivers were reportedly jockeying for position where two travel lanes merged into a single lane on State Route 67 in Poway. The vehicles sideswiped one another, causing the pickup in the right lane to swerve into the rider, who was taking part in the Pedal the Cause ride to raise funds for cancer research.

Both drivers left the scene; frighteningly, the driver of the pickup reportedly had no idea he hit her.

The victim was hospitalized with major injuries, including broken bones; doctors said her helmet saved her life. Personally, I’d blame a couple of dangerously aggressive jerks for nearly taking it, instead.

And that’s the difference between the risks posed by cyclists and drivers, which so many bike-hating motorists don’t seem to get.

Even the most aggressive cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while aggressive drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Update: According to San Diego’s NBC-7, the 38-year old victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding in a marked bike lane when the collision occurred; her injuries are described as severe but not life threatening. 

The two drivers are both 50-year old men, which is certainly old enough to know better. 

And speaking of knowing better, NBC-7 should know than a collision that results from the intentional act of two drivers each refusing to yield to the other may be many things. But it is no more an accident than if they had used guns rather than motor vehicles to settle their dispute.

………

Despite a state law requiring bike helmets for anyone under 18, only 11% of LA children injured while riding a bike were wearing theirs. Children over 12, minority children and children from low income families are least likely to wear one.

………

Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 9th at 4 pm when The Long Bike Back screens at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood as part of the All Sports Film Festival.

The new film traces the recovery and cross country ride of a cyclist seriously injured in a bicycling collision.

Pearson Constantino was preparing to fulfill his lifelong dream of bicycling across the United States when he was hit from behind by an SUV.  Despite his helmet, Pearson suffered serious injuries including a shattered femur, a crushed vertebra, and head trauma.

The Long Bike Back follows his recovery and his exciting bike ride across America with his brother Pete advocating for safer roads and reminding people of the joy of riding a bicycle.

Pearson and Pete’s cross-country journey covers the length of historic US Route 20.  Along the way, Pearson encounters many unexpected challenges including record high temperatures, flooding, food poisoning, inhospitable drivers, poor road conditions, crashes, detours, flat tires, and new injuries which inspire him to recommit to what matters most.

………

A writer for the Times suggests licensing bike riders, but acknowledges it might not make a bit of difference. You’re invited to ride Central Avenue this Sunday. The 7th Street bike lanes are being extended from Figueroa to Main St, hopefully taming what has long been one of the most dangerous streets I regularly ride. Rick Risemberg joins about a hundred other riders to plead for bike lanes on Lankershim Blvd, and calls out “Uncle Tom” LaBonge for betraying the bicyclists he claims to support. The Eagle Rock community celebrates the new Colorado Blvd, though the comments suggest not every community member does. An Atwater Village advocate complains about last minute attempts to add bike lanes and sidewalks to the proposed Hyperion-Glendale bridge makeover, failing to note they were included in the 2010 bike plan; Streetsblog’s Damien Newton counts 45 speakers against the proposed plans for a highway speed makeover at tonight’s meeting, and only 3 in favor. The Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills asks a somewhat biased question about bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica will host a bike expo next to the pier next May. You can now call them Santa Monica’s award-winning Ocean Park green bike lanes. SoCalCycling offers results from Sunday’s Krosstoberfest along with photos from Saturday’s Spooky Cross; CLR Effect offers more great photos. South Pas prioritizes sidewalks over bike lanes. Best wishes to Seth at Cycling in the South Bay, who hits the pavement hard in a gnarly 10-bike crash caught on video; he credits his helmet with preserving his brain matter. Corona del Mar hosted a Halloween costume ride over the weekend. The embattled Bike Nation bike share system lives on in Fullerton. There’s still time to attend the California Bike Summit in Oakland next month.

How to avoid bike-on-bike crashes; maybe the group Seth was riding with should have read this first. Well yeah, if you built a bike path next to it, maybe the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t be such a total ecological disaster after all. The late, great Lou Reed was one of us. A Portland man steals his stolen bike back, and helps bust a theft ring. No more excuses — bike-friendly Portland built their entire bikeway network for the price of a single mile of urban freeway; just imagine what all that money wasted on the much-maligned 405 makeover would buy. In yet another Portland story, a clown has his tall bike stolen, while people report someone approaching strangers trying to sell one for 20 bucks. Just heartbreaking: A 92-year old Chicago-area man was killed when his adult tricycle was hit by a speeding car. Security is increased after an Illinois bike rider threatens blue-eyed private school children. If you’re bicycling in Ohio, make sure you’re not riding recreationally if you want any protection under the law. Maybe it’s time to stop being polite when a law-breaking driver threatens your safety. Just heartbreaking 2: An 89-year old Florida man is killed in a left cross while riding his adult tricycle in a crosswalk. Bike lanes may reduce the frequency of collisions, but not their severity.

The effectiveness of pro cycling’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission depends on how far back they go; I doubt the golden, dope-free age of cycling we all fondly want to remember ever existed. British parents write about the loss of their bike-riding daughter. Maybe #space4cycling should be #space4people. How to stay cycle chic all winter; wouldn’t those shorts be cold, though? A Brit bike rider verbally — and physically — abuses a 12-year old girl after a minor collision; seriously, that’s taking general obnoxious jerkishness way too far. A writer for the Guardian says the lack of a women’s Tour de France keeps cycling in the dark ages. Video shows an Amsterdam cyclist nearly crushed by a tree felled by yesterday’s hurricane force winds. Just a slight disconnect here, as a New Deli writer complains about how dangerous it is for bike riders to commute to work in the city — like his driver, for instance. Katy Perry rides Down Under, sans skid lid; now that I think about it, I don’t recall if she was wearing one when I saw her riding with her ex on the South Bay bike path awhile back. Japanese bureaucracy is effectively banning biking to work.

Finally, the future meets the past with this new e-Penny Farthing. And there was a time when Malibu actually encouraged people to bike there; as the photo suggests, though, it was a long time ago. Thanks to Jen Klausner for the heads-up. 

Malibu Pro-Bike Cover

Today’s post, in which we discuss the anti-bike biased, and breaking the law in the name of good

Stolen with permission from Carlton Reid; click on photo for more.

I love this photo, stolen with permission from Carlton Reid.

There’s been a new round of bike hate rearing its ugly head lately.

Most of it somewhat confusing.

Like this piece forwarded by bike rider and motorsport enthusiast Michael Eisenberg, in which a Brit driver takes cyclists to task.

For not knowing our place. And not waving.

Seriously.

Today’s cyclists seem to be angry.  They seem not to enjoy what they do but to grimly pursue their ‘hobby’ in the name of fitness.  They seem to think other road users are a threatening morass of metal out to kill them.  So they spew vibes of resentment and refuse to acknowledge the presence of anything else.  They do not flinch.

The problem is they travel at one third the speed of other traffic and never recognise that fact nor do anything about it.  I don’t mean that cyclists should get out of my way, I mean that after I have waited behind said two-wheeled leg-driven machine that the human on top of it could at least raise a hand and acknowledge my patience, and I will wave back at him to acknowledge his politeness and right to use the same roads as I do.

Cyclists and other road users should get along.  They don’t because they’re either in a race (which no-one else is allowed to do on the road) or because they have a deep in-built sense of entitlement to the detriment of everyone else.

They grit their teeth and hate us.

And yet, he acknowledges that many cyclists are drivers, and vice versa. But insists that we hate them — or us — when we ride, whoever we and us and them happen to be at any given time.

So, when I ride, I hate myself for driving when I’m not riding, right?

Okay, so he’s got a point.

We can all be a  little friendlier when we ride. A little wave of thanks or a nod and smile here and there can make a big difference in your day. And theirs.

But the rest just makes my head hurt.

Then there’s this piece from a writer in the San Fernando Valley, who hates bike riders, in part, because a drunk smelled of booze fell off his bike and scratched her Mercedes.

Even though that drunk probably would have done a lot more damage if he’d been behind the wheel. Or likely just as much if not more if he’d been on foot.

And to be honest, the overwhelming majority of bike riders may smell of something. But’s it’s probably not liquor; that usually comes later.

I mean, she’s more than welcome to sniff me after my next half century.

But what really set her off was having to swerve to avoid a bike rider who had the audacity to take a tumble in front of her expensive German engineered automobile.

In fact, on Wednesday I saw a potentially lethal accident almost occur in a busy Victory Boulevard intersection near my house when a man who was riding his bike and talking on his cell phone lost control of his bike and fell in the middle of the friggin’ street! It happened in front of me so I saw him and maneuvered around his sorry self. I don’t know if everybody behind me saw him and avoided hitting him or not. But hey, we drivers are not allowed to drive and talk on cell phones at the same time. But apparently bicyclists are. That incident is the reason I am writing this.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

But if it’s a potentially lethal accident, wouldn’t anyone with the slightest bit of human compassion try to stop her car in front of the victim to keep drivers running over him?

Or at least stop afterwards to see if the guy needs help, and wave other motorists around him?

No, she’d rather just swerve around his crumpled body and go on her merry way. Then complain about what a jerk he was later.

Then again, maybe she was just trying to avoid a parking ticket.

And yes, under current California law, bike riders are allowed to use a cell phone while they ride, on the assumption that our 20 pound bikes pose less risk than her multi-ton machine, regardless of distraction.

………

Not all the recent conversation has been filed with hate, though.

In a mostly positive piece, a Philadelphia bicyclist extolls the virtues of breaking the law. Not all the time, of course; just when it makes sense for safety and convenience.

I broke a law and one that I hold in much higher esteem than stopping at a red light when there are no cars or pedestrians around. I did it because I feared for my safety, which is very often my motivation when breaking traffic laws on my bike. Cars are scary as hell. A lot of people just see them as a given, practically an appendage. Get out of my way, I’m drivin’ here. (Studies show that drivers are at fault in the vast majority of auto/bicycle crashes.)

On the whole, I’m a pretty civilized biker. I don’t salmon down one-way streets, I don’t ride on the sidewalk, and when I arrive at a four-way intersection after a car I try to indicate that they should just treat me as another vehicle and go first. But biking in the city can be dangerous, and I’ll take the law into my own hands when I feel threatened. I even break the sacrosanct sidewalk rule when I bike up to my apartment, as the street in front of it is usually lined with cars and lacks a northward stop sign, so drivers frequently blast down it at alarming speeds. I’m not dismounting there, thanks.

He’s got a point.

I’m a firm believer in following the law all the time. Except when I don’t.

Out of all the stop signs on the Westside, there’s only one I run, because the placement of the sign makes stopping there more dangerous than not.

And while I insist riders should never, ever ride salmon, I’ve been know to do it for short distances when a gap in traffic makes it the safest option to get to my destination.

But that’s the thing.

Traffic laws weren’t written with bicyclists in mind. While obeying them provides the safest and best choice in the overwhelming majority of situations, you’re the one with your life on the line. And it’s up to you to make the decisions that will best ensure your safety.

And that doesn’t always mean following the letter of the law.

On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean riding like a jerk just because you can.

As far as I’m concerned, it comes down to this. The highest law of bicycling is to always ride safely; that is, in a way that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to yourself or those around you.

Most of the time that means obeying the law.

And sometimes, it doesn’t.

………

Unbeknownst to me, Contour — the make of my helmet cam — went belly up in August; one of the original investors may try to resuscitate the brand.

………

The coming artistic revolution will not be coming by car. Advocates continue to push for a more livable Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex; maybe there’s a better plan. The Ghost Bikes of LA exhibit opens tonight. Culver City council to consider bike parking on Monday. Malibu hits the brakes on a study of PCH parking; but don’t you have to know what the problem is before you can solve it? Spooky Cross comes to the Pomona Fairplex this weekend. Next month’s LACBC Sunday Funday Ride visits the architectural gems of LA’s most upscale neighborhood with the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire Ride November 3rd. CICLE and Metro team up for a Northridge Delis, Desserts and Deliciousness Ride on the 16th. The LACBC and LA Walks invite you to discuss the Public Health Approach to Walking and Biking November 21st. Ride 2 Recovery rolls through the Central Coast. Chico prepares a ghost bike for a fallen cyclist who did everything right and died anyway.

If bicycling is booming, why are bike sales down? How not to be a bike jerk in three easy steps. Good advice: stop riding when your butt hurts. Speaking of which, an Indiegogo campaign promises to deliver more comfortable bike jeans for women. An “indicator species” cyclist says bike lanes are bad, even though studies show they improve safety. Denver reaches 100 miles of bike lanes. A Chicago alderman calls for a $25 annual registration fee for bikes; good way to discourage bike riding and increase traffic congestion. Meanwhile, an anti-bike columnist says $25 isn’t enough, let’s make it $100, while a cyclist says bike riders should pay their share, so where’s her check? A Chicago thief is caught on video trying to steal 384 pounds of meat by bike; if he can lift that much that easily, he must be the world’s strongest man. New York wins its first lawsuit over bike share docks. New York cops ignore the state’s careless driving law. A DC driver uses Craigslist to apologize to the cyclist she almost hit. WaPo looks at the quest to reinvent bicycling. The president of Virginia Tech right hooks a bike rider, then sends her flowers to make up for it. A cyclist bikes the Underground Railroad.

Once again, the bike rider wins a commuter challenge, this time in Vancouver. Ontario considers increasing penalties for distracted driving. London’s flawed bike safety campaign extends to five other UK cities. A UK cyclist is charged with wanton and furious cycling for the collision that gravely injured a young girl. A British bicycling organization says white lines aren’t enough to keep cyclists safe, while London’s coroner calls for further action to save the lives of bike riders. Maybe it’s me, but when you erect safety barriers after a cyclist gets killed, isn’t it a little too late? After the cyclist he hit dies in his arms, a UK truck driver tells the court it’s been bad for his family, but worse for his victim’s; nice to see someone who gets it for a change. A new Streetfilm looks at how the Netherlands transformed itself for cycling. Long-time German pro Andreas Kloeden calls it a career; is it just me, or are a lot of riders from the doping era retiring now that pro cycling has supposedly cleaned up its act? Bikes are outselling cars in virtually every European country. Why banning bikes is bad for Kolkata, or Calcutta, or whatever you want to call it. Saudi women to protest laws prohibiting them from riding bikes. Japan teaches students not to be killer cyclists; yeah, I’m sure that’s the biggest death risk on the country’s roads.

Finally, what a seriously hairy downhill and 360 degree flip look like from the rider’s perspective. And if you want to see more breathtaking bike photos, take a look at this series from yesterday’s ride by UK bike journalist Carlton Reid.

Update: LAPD traffic investigators evidently don’t believe other cops who witness a right hook bike collision

Evidently, cops aren’t credible witnesses.

At least as far as LAPD traffic officers are concerned.

Imagine you’re riding along when a driver right hooks you — not just turning across your path, but illegally making a right turn from the left lane — and in the process, not only violates your right-of-way, but causes a collision.

And for once, not just one, but two cops witness the whole thing.

And then…

Nothing.

………

That’s exactly what happened yesterday morning, when Melanie Freeland was making her regular bike commute from Highland Park to Downtown LA.

She was riding on North Broadway through Chinatown around 8:40 am, in the right peak hour lane — that is, what would normally be the parking lane, but converts to a regular traffic lane to accommodate rush hour traffic.

As she was passing the Far East National Bank at 977 N. Broadway, the Lexus traveling in the lane on her left — what was, in effect, the center of three lanes — suddenly turned into the building’s parking lot. The driver cut across the lane Freeland was riding in, without warning, forcing her off the roadway and causing her bike to collide with the car’s door and front panel.

A classic right hook, with the extra added benefit of an illegal turn from the wrong lane. Without signaling, no less.

If that’s not clear, just imagine you’re in the right lane of a two lane street, and the driver on the left suddenly makes a right turn directly in front of you.

And for once, a cop saw the whole thing.

Two police officers — one in uniform, the other in plain clothes — were on their way to court when the collision occurred right before their eyes. They pulled over to offer assistance, calling for an ambulance and staying with her until a regular traffic officer arrived to investigate.

Both officers — I’m leaving out the names of all the cops involved, though Freeland provided their names and badge numbers* — said the driver failed to signal or yield the right-of-way. But even though they were the ones who witnessed the wreck, it would be up to the traffic cop to actually issue a ticket.

The officers gave their report to the traffic investigator, then left for the courthouse.

………

And that’s when everything went to hell.

The investigator told Freeland he couldn’t issue a ticket or determine fault in the collision because he did not actually witness it, saying he “could not issue a traffic ticket for something he did not see.”

Never mind that two sworn officers did. As well as a security guard for the building, who supported the first officers’ version of events.

So Freeland smartly asked to speak with the traffic officer’s supervisor. Yet when the Sergeant arrived, she repeated the exact same sentence.

And added that “It is not a crime to hit a pedestrian.”

Note to police: bike riders are not pedestrians. We have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicle operators, and are allowed on every public street cars are allowed to use, with the exception of some limited access freeways. Calling us pedestrians implies we belong on the sidewalk and belittles our legal right to the roadway.

While it’s true that police officers are generally prohibited from writing citations for traffic violations they don’t witness, I’ve been assured by officers that they can write a ticket or make an arrest based on clear evidence pointing to responsibility for a collision or other violation.

And if the testimony of two cops who witnessed the whole thing — as well as a third independent witness — isn’t clear evidence, I don’t know what the hell is.

Instead, the officers sent just as clear a message that, as far as they’re concerned, bikes don’t’ belong on the street. And good luck getting justice.

Just like the bad old days of LAPD’s anti-bike, windshield bias I thought we’d left long behind us under Chief Beck’s more enlightened leadership.

As Michael MacDonald put it in an email informing me of the case,

There are a lot of things wrong in this picture, not the least of which is that LAPD has again made it clear that cyclists are essentially fair game. I am particularly frustrated that someone I know that had made a concerted effort to make a mode shift towards cycling and to educate herself to ride safely now feels no degree of protection on the road, and is deterred from ever commuting by bike in Los Angeles again.

Fortunately, Freeland does not appear to have suffered any serious injuries, although she was due to be examined by a physician late yesterday.

She’s following up with the original officers, and contacting the department’s bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division. And she plans to reach out to Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Jose Huizar to express her disappointment and call for safety improvements on Broadway.

Police officers also tell me you should contact the Watch Commander overseeing the officers involved as quickly as possible after an incident like this.

But make no mistake.

Yesterday the LAPD failed Melanie Freeland.

Tomorrow, it might be you.

*My purpose here is not to embarrass the officers. The LAPD was been provided with all the names and badge numbers; it’s up to them to deal with the individuals involved.

Update: Okay, now I’m pissed. Melanie Freeland emailed this morning that she tried to call the bike liaison officer for the Central Traffic Division after I passed his contact information on to her. Except the desk officer who took the call initially refused to put the call through, significantly misrepresenting her case and saying “I know the same laws he does.”

She was finally able to leave a message, but hasn’t heard back yet.

Under former LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the department made great strides in improving relations with the bicycling community. But the expanded bike liaison program is absolutely meaningless if self-appointed gatekeepers are allowed to screen their calls.

And no one should ever have to face an argument when reaching out to anyone in the department for help.

I’ve praised the LAPD as one of the most progressive and bike-friendly police departments in the county since Chief Beck took over. But this is starting to feel like a huge step back to the bad old days.

Update 2: Freeland reports she spoke with the Watch Commander on duty at the time of the incident. Who turned out to be the same Sergeant who came to the scene and backed up the original traffic officer. 

In the course of a long conversation, the officer described a Catch 22 that makes it almost impossible for the department to issue a ticket to anyone. Which goes a long way towards explaining the wild west mentality of LA streets, where drivers feel entitled to do virtually anything without fear of consequences.

I called the Central Traffic Division and asked to speak with the Watch Commander on duty yesterday. As I probably should have guessed it was [the Sergeant she’d spoken to at the scene].  I explained to her my phone conversation with [the desk officer] and she stated she did not know why he would state it was a rear end incident when it wasn’t.  We talked at length about why a citation would not be issued for this offense.  She stated that in order for a traffic citation to be issued two criteria must be met. An LAPD officer must witness the incident and be trained in traffic laws (taken the special course in traffic). Because the [traffic officer] didn’t witness the incident it did not meet the two criteria. Secondly, the officer who did witness the incident is not trained in traffic laws, so again it does not meet the criteria.  Thus it is now my understanding, due to the letter of the law that it is not possible for the LAPD to issue a citation to the driver who hit me.

But aren’t all officers trained in traffic law at the Academy? 

And are you seriously trying to tell me that a uniformed LAPD officer lacks sufficient judgement and training to determine that a driver failed to signal and violated the right-of-way of another road user?

Sorry, but this explanation sounds like BS.

And if it isn’t, even worse.

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