Tag Archive for Better Bike

One last chance to fight for Santa Monica bike lanes in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills

Please forgive the short notice; I’ve been a little under the weather today.

Okay, maybe a lot.

But there’s a meeting tonight that could make a huge difference for the safety of cyclists forced to ride through decidedly bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. As well as encouraging more people to take to bikes and relieve the near 24/7 traffic congestion through the city.

If city officials actually care enough to listen, that is.

Tonight is the final meeting of the Santa Monica Boulevard Blue-Ribbon Committee, formed to weigh public input before making a recommendation on how to proceed with the planned reconstruction of the former famed Route 66 through the city. Including proposals for bike lanes, which have bizarrely been placed in opposition to a planted center median.

Even though, as Better Bike’s Mark Elliot makes clear, the roadway could easily accommodate both.

The inexplicable opposition to bike lanes was made clear when the consultant hired by the city dropped an unexpected “preferred option” that included widening the roadway to include a center divider and an ultra-wide 16″ right lane.

But no bike lanes, even though they could easily fit within the widened street.

As Elliot explains, that appears to be intentional. The design, an effort to discourage riders on the newly designed street by preventing them from legally taking the lane. And the timing, an effort to short circuit the public process and jam through a design that maintains automotive hegemony on a street that belongs to everyone.

Keeping bikes from besmirching their precious little enclave of the overly entitled.

So let’s make no mistake.

Bikes — and pedestrians — can easily be accommodated in the reconstructed roadway at little additional cost, providing a street that benefits everyone, safely and efficiently. And connects with bike lanes in Century City to the west and West Hollywood to the east to create a complete bikeway through most of the Westside.

The alternative is a short-sighted decision that discourages bike riding at a time when it is rapidly growing in popularity, and when alternatives to automotive transportation are desperately needed.

Especially in traffic-choked Beverly Hills.

They can make room for bikes, and take a modest step in improving the situation. Or be cursed by future leaders and city residents who will have no choice but pay the high price to correct their error at a later date.

And failure to include bikes on the street would only invite the sort of lawsuits city leaders have used themselves to fight other projects, including the planned Subway to the Sea. Particularly when it flies in the face California’s Complete Streets policies, as well as such overwhelming public support.

The meeting takes place this evening starting at 6 pm at Beverly Hills City Hall. Be there if you can, or fill out the online comment form.

As for me, I’ll be home nursing sick head.

But I plan to be at the Beverly Hills City Council session next month when the city formally decides on how to move forward. And whether to slide back into the Biking Black Hole they’ve only begun to tentatively step out of.

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Speaking of Elliot, thanks for his recent call for donations to help support my work here at BikinginLA, among other deserving organizations. With the redesign of this site and the move to an advertising and sponsor-supported model taking much longer than anticipated, I can use all the help I can get.

If you do make a contribution based on his recommendation, consider giving part of it to support Better Bike. Mark Elliot has been relentless in fighting for your right to ride in a city that has been far less than welcoming to us.

Update: Thanks to Vanessa Gray and Danila Oder for the generous donations.

Bicycling says we’re sort of bike-friendly; Better Bike’s Mark Elliot bounces off a Beverly Hills SUV

Let’s make it a Tuesday news day.

So settle back with your favorite libation and catch up on all the bike news that fits.

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Bicycling magazine names their top 50 American bike-friendly cities.

And in a very surprising development, L.A. makes the list at 32, just ahead of Thousand Oaks at 38, and behind Long Beach at 19. Not surprisingly, Portland leads the list at number one, followed by Minneapolis, Boulder and newly bike-friendly Washington DC; New York City comes in just before San Francisco at seven and eight, respectively, while my hometown just misses the top 10 at number 11.

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Best wishes to Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who was hit by an SUV in Beverly Hills on Saturday, just days after getting screwed by the city’s auto-centric Traffic and Parking Commission. Fortunately, Mark says he’s okay. But warns ominously that it might be you next time.

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Robert Gesink wins the Amgen Tour of California just eight months after breaking his leg in four places in a training accident. Will Campbell shows just how fast the Amgen riders passed by. Aussie cyclist Robbie McEwen retires at the end of the Tour of California. LACBC offers photos of the final stage, which began in the biking black hole where Mark Elliot nearly got his ass run over. And once again, a feared carmageddon fails to materialize.

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If you’re only going to click on one link today, make it this one, as a writer explains how not to kill a cyclist. And then forward it to every driver — and cyclist — you know.

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Flying Pigeon needs help moving to their new location on Tuesday and Wednesday. An Eastside bicyclist was injured after falling through a manhole after thieves stole the cover. Adonia Lugo and Allison Mannos question whether the urban poor and communities of color are being left behind by eco developments. Riding from Watts to Long Beach on a Friday night. Mayoral candidate and current CD13 Council Member Eric Garcetti has a new website. A UCLA study says excessive cycling could interfere with male reproductive health — and give you man boobs; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. New signage and pavement markings on the Santa Monica section of the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path could ease conflicts between cyclists and beach-going pedestrians. Long Beach urban planner Sean Warner says rational arguments supporting biking infrastructure may not be enough.

Two Fontana teenagers are being sought for shoving two children off their bikes and stealing them — the bikes, not the children. A Redlands rider is shot while on his bike Saturday night. Los Olivos hosted the California State High School Mountain Bike Championships over the weekend. A 54-year old Campbell cyclist is injured when a 17-year old unlicensed driver attempts to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space she was in at the same time. Nearly 1,200 Tahoe cyclists attempt to set a record for single-file riding; almost three times that many are expected for the area’s 21st annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride on June 3rd.

The Bike League is now tracking bicycling fatalities on a national level, just as I’ve been doing in SoCal; preliminary results show over a third of all bike-related collisions were hit-from behinds, followed by failure to yield (18% drivers, 10% cyclists). Riding a bike to work could cut your tax bill, as well. The bike writer for my hometown paper says education is more important than more bike lanes. A Lafayette LA cyclist disappears riding home from a night out. Bollards are almost always a failure of good bikeway design — especially when they go in for no apparent reason. Charleston SC proposes a 32 mile bikeway crossing eight bridges. Dave Moulton says it’s time to opt out of the culture of speed.

A Halifax writer says cyclists deserve more respect and better infrastructure. A UK writer asks if adults are mature enough to share the road with children; good question. A British publication asks if the war between motorists and cyclists will ever end — or if it really exists. Free bicycles help keep Indian girls in school. A Singapore cyclist is found dead of unnatural causes along a trail.

Finally, an Aussie writer has had it up to here with people saying cycling is being spoiled by anyone on a sports bike. And a rider in Mississippi is reunited with his dog after three months in a coma following a collision.

Beverly Hills steps up — and stumbles badly — in their attempt to accommodate cyclists

First watered down, then at least partially down in flames.

Over the last year or so, the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has consulted with cyclists to develop a bike route pilot program.

And those cyclists have chaffed under a process that seemed designed to reduce participation, while imposing so many restrictions on the end result that hit hardly seemed worth the effort.

In the end, the ad hoc committee working on the program recommended five pilot bike routes that seemed to offer only a slight improvement over nothing at all. Which, oddly, is exactly the amount of bicycling infrastructure the city currently offers.

Then the city’s Traffic and Parking Commission proceeded to shoot two of the five routes off their low-hanging branch. And did it using the same old half and non-truths typically employed by anti-bike forces who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Like bikes impede traffic. We don’t belong in residential neighborhoods. We don’t deserve safe infrastructure — or even the modest improvements the plan called for — because cyclists run stop signs.

Never mind that traffic flow could be improved and the streets made safer if some of those stop signs were removed.

And members of the commission even asked whether placing sharrows on streets like Charleville would give riders a false sense of security. As if we could somehow forget that we’re riding in a city full of self-entitled motorists who believe they actually do own the road.

As Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who has lead the Sisyphean task to make bikes more welcome — or even welcome at all — on the city’s streets put it, cyclists ended up with just three-fifth of half a loaf.

Which is better than nothing, I suppose.

But it does raise the question of why cyclists would bother to support the Rodeo Drive start of the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California in a city that so clearly doesn’t support us.

Or why the Tour of California would start their race in such a bike-unfriendly city to begin with.

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Speaking of the Tour of California, Liquigas-Cannondale’s Peter Sagan overcomes a flat tire in the last five minutes to win the first stage; clearly, he and teammate Vincenzo Nibali did not come to California to take a stroll.

In other proc cycling news, the first Canadian to wear the pink jersey continues to lead the Giro d’Italia. Road.cc documents the day in Verona when U.S. cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney lost the leader’s jersey after suffering a bad ankle injury in a crash just days earlier.

And the witch hunt continues as prosecutors go after Lance’s former team manager Johan Bruyneel.

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It’s the first day of L.A. Bike Week, with a full slate of rides, activities and Bike to Work pit stops scheduled throughout the week.

Or as they call it in Beverly Hills, Monday.

If you’re curious about biking to work this week, you could do a lot worse than brushing up on this bit of advice from KCRW chief engineer Steve Herbert.

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The Times says bicyclists and pedestrians are remaking the city’s classic boulevards, as people demand more bikeable, walkable and livable streets. Writing for Momentum Magazine, Rick Risemberg asks if Los Angeles is a cyclists’ paradise regained. A cyclist is seriously injured after falling off a trail into a canyon in Porter Ranch. Long Beach ups the bike-friendliness a notch with new bike lanes and sharrows in new areas. A Carlsbad company trades bike to work for biking instead or working. The 75-year old Santa Cruz cyclist who was killed after going over his handlebars has been identified; and yes, he was wearing a helmet.

AAA and LAB team up to promote bike safety. A writer for my hometown newspaper says bike lanes add economic value; someday I hope to go back and ride those 38 miles of off-street trails and 112 miles of bike lanes myself. A Texas cyclist is recovering after being hit by a red light running state trooper. The Broward County FL sheriff’s department mistakenly says the first rule of bike safety is wearing a helmet; actually, it’s riding safely so you won’t need one.

Audi and Specialized team up to build a 50 mph ebike prototype. After getting laid off, a British Frisbee champion plans a 4500 km ride to Istanbul. A camera happens to catch it all as a black-clad woman rushes up to attack a bike riding man; is it just me, or does that camera placement seem just a tad too convenient?

Finally, a writer makes a very apt comparison between cycling and battered wife syndrome.

And in case you missed it over the weekend, you can find a much longer list of links here.

On a personal note, a personal childhood hero passed away Friday, when one of my older cousins sat down after mowing the lawn, closed his eyes for a nap and never woke up. Dick had been a champion open-wheel racer in the 60’s; his lifelong claim to fame was passing his rookie test at Indianapolis, then just missing qualifying for the Indy 500. His unsponsored, self-financed car may not have been fast enough to make the cut, but how many people can say they made the attempt on a set of tires borrowed from A.J. Foyt?

Rest in peace, cousin.

Streetsblog benefit in SaMo, Walk It or Lock It in Long Beach, better biking in Beverly Hills & outrage in TN

I’ve got a long list of legal matters to catch up on — including reader insights into last week’s road rage assault in Santa Monica, first reported by Mihai Peteu on Bikeside.

As well as a letter written by the underage, allegedly drunk driver who nearly killed cyclist Adam Rybicki in Torrance earlier this year. And the driver who called police pretending to be a witness to the collision that killed cyclist Hung Do before being arrested for the crime himself.

But in the meantime, as I rush from riding to meetings to work and back again — let alone trying to squeeze in a little sleep into to process — let me offer a reminder about today’s Streetsblog benefit at Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse.

As it turns out, I won’t be able to make it this time. But if you can make it, I strongly recommended heading to 2911 Main Street for some New Belgium beer, raffle, auctions and a cargo bike worth of fun. Along with a lot of good people having a good time for a good cause.

And yes, there will be a bike valet.

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Long Beach is kicking off the Walk It or Lock It campaign to remind cyclists that it’s against the law to ride bikes on the sidewalk in the city’s business districts.

Police will be handing out safety cards to instruct riders to either walk their bikes or lock them up in areas including Broadway and Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach, Atlantic Avenue in Bixby Knolls, Second Street in Belmont Shore, “Retro Row” on Fourth Street, and Cambodia Town on Anaheim Street.

And if you haven’t already, Long Beach residents are encouraged to take five minutes to complete the city’s 2011 Bike Safety Survey.

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Hats off to what — hopefully — will soon be the former Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

Along with a number of other bike advocates and local residents and business people, I attended last night’s meeting of the city’s Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee.

For a town that currently lacks a single inch of biking infrastructure, the representatives from Beverly Hills were surprisingly committed to changing the situation and getting test projects off the ground — or rather, on the ground — as quickly as possible. And remarkably open to suggestions, including innovative ideas that are just starting to gain acceptance elsewhere.

Make no mistake. They have a very long way to go, and still have to sell the idea of biking infrastructure to a city government and populace likely to cast a wary eye on two-wheeled interlopers in their city.

And the toughest challenge, recreating Santa Monica Boulevard in a format that will be inviting to cyclists — or at least less likely to risk our lives — still awaits discussion down the road.

But they’re off to a good start. And with a far more positive and approachable attitude than many other cities I could name.

If you live or ride through Beverly Hills — or would like to if it was a little safer and more inviting — sign up with LACBC affiliate Better Bike to get involved and stay abreast of the latest happenings.

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Finally, allow me a moment of sheer outrage, as a Tennessee woman is threatened with arrest for the crime of allowing her 10-year old daughter to ride her bike to school.

According to Bike Walk Tennessee, Teresa Tyron of Elizabethton thought her daughter had a reasonably safe 7 – 9 minute ride to school in the tiny town near the border with North Carolina.

Evidently, the authorities disagreed.

Teresa Tryon said, “On August 25th my 10 year daughter arrived home via police officer, requested to speak to me on the front porch of my home. The officer informed me that in his ‘judgment’ it was unsafe for my daughter to ride her bike to school.”

She followed up by contacting the mayor and chief of police. But instead of getting the apology any rational person would have expected, she was told that the officer would be contacting Child Protective Services — and that she could be arrested for child neglect if she allowed her daughter to ride to school in the meantime.

So let me get this straight.

A town of just 13,000 people is so dangerous that children can’t safely ride their bikes on the streets.

Of course, they don’t say whether the danger stems from the horrible traffic conditions, which surely must be far worse than those of the Los Angeles area, where children are encouraged to ride to class, though few actually do.

Then again, maybe the town is so overwhelmed with child molesters and other criminal sorts that it is unsafe for anyone to ever be outside of their homes day or night. Let alone a child.

Or maybe city officials have their collective heads so far up their own collective asses that the entire collective city government would have to visit a proctologist just to get their glasses cleaned.

If the problem is the condition of the streets, it’s up to the mayor and other city officials to make them safe — not parents to keep their children off them. If it’s a fear of criminal activity, the police should stop harassing parents and start arresting criminals until families don’t have to be afraid to let their children go out alone for less than 10 minutes on the way to and from school.

But if it’s the latter problem — which I would highly suspect — local residents should seriously consider riding the police chief, mayor and anyone else involved in this idiotic process out of town on a rail.

And replace them with far more rational people who understand that riding a bike to school isn’t a crime, and should in fact be encouraged in this day of rampant childhood obesity. And willing to do their damn jobs to make the streets safe for everyone.

Maybe they could use a little gentle encouragement to see the light.

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