Tag Archive for Beverly Hills

Bypassing busy traffic on 7th Street, notes from the LAPD bike task force, and Beverly Hills bike lanes redux

When is a bike lane not a bike lane?

When it’s a traffic lane allowing impatient drivers to bypass backed-up traffic for a whole block, shaving maybe a few seconds off the evening commute.

……….

A few notes from last week’s meeting with the LAPD’s bike liaisons.

First off, Sgt. Lazlo Sandor has taken over as bike liaison for the West Traffic Division; you’ll find his email address on the Resources page.

As part of Chief Beck’s proclamation that this will be the year of traffic enforcement, the LAPD has transferred a number of officers to work the city’s four traffic divisions. The good news is, the city is now focused on cracking down on dangerous drivers — like the one in the video above, for instance. The bad news is, bike violations are considered traffic offenses as well, so be forewarned.

One of the biggest problems in fixing traffic problems has long been that no one has been tracking bicycling and pedestrians collisions, injuries and fatalities. Which meant no one had a clue just what and where those problems might be, let alone how to solve them. Fortunately, the LAPD is now keeping track of all of the above as part of their Compstat program, requiring traffic officers to appear four times a year to discuss problems in their areas. And the department is tracking the most dangerous intersections for all road users to determine what has to be done to improve safety for everyone.

Last week’s story that Houston police officers were conducting traffic stings to improve safety for the city’s cyclists made news around the world. Which may have come as a surprise to LA officers, who have been doing the same thing for some time without public notice. In fact, LA’s West Traffic Division has conducted nine such stings since the first of the year — eight to enforce bike lane issues and one for stop sign enforcement. A total of 53 people were cited, including both cyclists and drivers; LAPD policy does not allow for selective enforcement, so they’re required to write up any violations they see during a sting, regardless of who commits it.

Finally, they stressed the importance of getting permits in advance for events that will require police participation. When the recent Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race was cancelled at the last minute, the department cancelled the officers who had been scheduled to work the event. Then when it was rescheduled at the last minute as a ride, they had to scramble to get enough officers to work the event on such short notice, and ended up paying out over $10,000 in overtime. While they understood the situation with the Marathon Crash, they ask for a minimum of 28 days advance notice to avoid any issues if you’re planning some sort of event.

On the other hand, if you break the law, they’re happy to show up with little or no notice.

……….

The subject of bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd through Beverly Hills is back on the council agenda this Tuesday. Except they’re not, but maybe they are. It’s a complicated subject explained well by Better Bike.

Meanwhile, a Beverly Hills homeowner’s association offers their reasons why bike lanes are a bad idea, few if any of which actually hold water.

For instance, someone should tell them that California law requires that drivers merge into bike lanes before making right turns, rather than turning across the lane as they suggest (#2). And surprisingly, blind spots exist on motor vehicles, which can hide the presence of bikes from careless drivers like themselves, whether or not bike lanes exist.

……….

Finally, this just in as a friend of mine reports an assault while riding home on PCH in Orange County.

I was riding on the super dark stretch of PCH between the oilfield and 10,000 miles of ocean. An empty car was stopped, no blinkers, on the shoulder. With cars coming up behind me at 60mph, the only option is to stop and wait for them to pass, or hike over the shrubs on the slope to the right of the (red) curb.

I take a picture of the car, and an angry guy kicks the driver’s side door open, emerges, and comes at me barking, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I dismount in case I have to run for it and start backing away while he repeatedly demands the camera, which he ain’t gonna get.

Long story short, he ends up throwing me, my bike & my bag (containing the Coolpix he was so interested in, plus my MacBook Air & iPad) into the ice plant.

I’m not injured, but my glasses are still out there because I gave up looking for them when the damn sprinklers came on. Also, I called Hunny PD back, and arranged them to just meet me at work for the report. The officer arrived before me AND TOLD MY COWORKER I HAD BEEN HIT BY A CAR. Boy, was she relieved when I grumped up my boss’s porch stairs with bike on shoulder & no visible injuries.

Lesson: Assume even parked cars are full of ex-convicts who will be violently angry with you for nothing.

I’m scared to check my MacBook.

Beverly Hills tells bicyclists to drop dead; LAPD to focus — finally — on traffic violations this year

Screw bike riders.

That was the message sent last night by notoriously bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills in refusing to incorporate bike lanes in next year’s planned reconstruction of Santa Monica Blvd.

Even though the reconstruction gives the city a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix one of the region’s most congested and dysfunctionally incomplete streets.

And even though it could be done for pennies on the dollar during the massive reconstruction project.

And even though it would connect the bike lanes that currently exist on the boulevard on either side of the city, completing the gap that exists between bike lanes in West Hollywood and Century City.

And even though Beverly Hills traffic already makes it the most dangerous city of its size in the state of California.

Oddly, several of the city’s council members expressed their concern for the safety of cyclists before voting to ignore their needs.

We’ll let Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who led the seemingly Sisyphean fight in this over-privileged Mayberry tell the whole disturbing and dystopian tale.

The question is, what can we do going forward?

Personally, I think it’s long past time for a worldwide boycott of the Biking Black Hole, where the dollars of those on bikes seem to be valued far below those who arrive in Bentleys and luxury SUVs.

Maybe they’ll wake up if they start seeing hotel cancellations, as domestic and foreign bike riders choose to spend their money somewhere else. Or when the annual Gran Fondo gets moved to out of Beverly Hills because cyclists refuse to support a city that refuses to support us.

Or maybe the answer is to take a page from their own playbook, where seemingly endless lawsuits have attempted to derail the planned subway-sort-of-to-the-sea.

I don’t know if there are legal grounds to sue Beverly Hills for its hard-hearted failure to find room for bike riders on the rebuilt street, even if it does seem to conflict with the state’s requirement to consider complete streets in any road construction project. Or to accommodate all road users on streets that belong to more than just motor vehicle operators.

Maybe there’s a lawyer out there who’d like answer those questions.

But if nothing else, a lawsuit might delay their plans just enough to make it easier to compromise with bike supporters than fight.

It wouldn’t be cheap.

But that’s one Kickstarter I’d be happy to contribute to.

……….

More on last night’s breaking news that the extremely popular Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race has been cancelled, at least for this year.

And the way these things seem to go, possibly forever.

The finger is being pointed at a fear of liability in a notoriously risk-averse city. But as noted last night, I suspect there’s more going on behind the scenes than we may yet be aware of.

Like maybe a wealthy marathon operator upset about those damn bikes piggybacking on their event. Especially when they’re not getting the profits.

Meanwhile, word is some riders intend to crash the route anyway.

……….

The LA City Council celebrated the city’s first Complete Streets Day on Wednesday.

Which seems odd, since so many council members seem to be actively opposing complete streets on Westwood Blvd, north and south Figueroa, and Lankershim Blvd, as well as a new and improved bike-friendly 4th Street.

I’m sure Councilmembers Koretz, Cedillo, Price and LaBonge wholeheartedly support complete streets.

As long as they’re in someone else’s district.

……….

For years, bike and pedestrian advocates have called on police to increase enforcement of traffic laws in an attempt to rein in the wild west mentality on our streets, where too many drivers feel entitled to do anything they damn well please — too often to the detriment of those they share those streets with.

Finally, LAPD Chief Beck is in agreement, declaring this the “year of traffic” with stepped-up enforcement of traffic regulations, including a crackdown on hit-and-runs.

While that’s good news for cyclists who have share the road with dangerous drivers, remember the knife cuts both ways.

Representatives of the department have often said they are required to enforce the law equally. Which means if they see you go through a red light or stop sign, you’re likely to get a ticket, just like a driver would for the same offense.

……….

Writing for Flying Pigeon, Rick Risemberg fears support for bicycling is backsliding under the Garcetti administration — echoing exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past several months.

Shockingly, the Weekly discovers a group of cyclists who like to get high and ride. Who could have ever imagined?

Bike safety is an issue around USC, as a cyclist is injured in a collision near campus.

Bikable streets spread further east as Pomona approves the city’s first bike and pedestrian plan.

The 84-year old Newport Beach driver who killed cyclist Debra Deem — claiming he just didn’t see her — entered a not guilty plea to a single count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. If convicted, he faces just one year in jail; Deem’s sister doesn’t think that’s enough.

Plans call for extending an Orange County protected bikeway.

You can contribute to help Riverside cyclist Travis Freeman recover from a serious cycling injury.

This simple bar chart clearly illustrates the relative affordability of protected bike lanes. And as long as we’re talking charts, this one from the UK kind of puts the relative risk posed by cyclists in perspective.

You could own Pee-wee’s bike, some assembly required.

It’s sad to think a bike advocacy group is going out of business after 40 years when bicycling is finally on the rise.

In what seems like at least a minor miracle, Brooklyn police begin ticketing drivers who park in bike lanes.

A Florida man waves at a motorist, who responds by plowing into him and fleeing the scene.

In what may be one of the most intentionally offensive public safety spots I’ve seen, Britain’s Top Gear attempts to teach cyclists the difference between red and green. While we all need to observe traffic signals, very few cycling fatalities are the result of riders blowing through red lights; far more often, it’s a driver who fails to stop and kills an innocent victim. So for the boys at Top Gear — and I say this from the bottom of my heart — fuck you. No, seriously.

A UK bike rider is the victim of an anti-bike terrorist attack when someone strings a rope across a walkway at neck level. Oddly, despite Top Gear’s insistence, there is nothing to suggest that she ran a red light before nearly being decapitated.

Finally, South African cyclists face charges in the road rage attack against a van driver. No matter how angry you are or how justified you feel, always — always — resist the temptation to resort to violence, as hard as it may be sometimes.

Which is not to say I’m an angel; I’ve called drivers every name in the book, including some I’ve made up on the spot.

Then again, they aren’t always the problem.

An open letter to the Beverly Hills City Council

I had planned to attend tonight’s meeting of the Beverly Hills City Council to voice my support for bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd through the city, closing the gap between existing lanes in West Hollywood and Century City when the street is reconstructed next year.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend tonight. So I’d like to share my thoughts with the Council Members here.

……….

Dear Beverly Hills City Council Members,

I am not a resident of your city.

Yet I frequently find myself traveling through Beverly Hills on my way to meetings in Downtown LA, whether by bike, bus or car. Whenever possible, I prefer to travel by bicycle; I find it more convenient, safer and less stressful than other means of travel.

With one major exception.

The journey through Beverly Hills is usually, by far, the most dangerous part of my trip.

That is not to say that some parts of my trip through the city aren’t safe and enjoyable. The bike lanes that were recently painted on Burton Way are among the best in the LA area; wide enough to keep riders out of the door zone, while moving us safely out of the way of traffic.

The problem is getting to them.

When travelling east from Century City, cyclists have only a handful options to pass through Beverly Hills.

Olympic Blvd is a high speed thoroughfare much of the day, yet dangerously over-congested during the long rush hour periods, safe for bike travel only at night or on weekends.

Charleville Blvd is a safer alternative, though it forces cyclists to either stop at every intersection or flaunt the law in order to conserve energy, while dodging impatient drivers unwilling to share the road. But it takes riders too far south to connect with those bike lanes on Burton Way.

Wilshire Blvd is simply too congested, dangerously unridable most of the day.

Little Santa Monica through the Golden Triangle connects directly with the Burton Way bike lanes, but the narrow traffic lanes force cyclists to ride directly in front of aggressive, and too often, angry motorists. It is an unpleasant place to ride during the day, and dangerous at rush hour.

As a result, many riders prefer Santa Monica Blvd, even though it currently offers a cramped space for cyclists next to traffic that can vary from high speed to severely congested, often in a matter of blocks. And puts riders at risk of being cut off by frequent buses and both left and right-turning vehicles, whose often out-of-town drivers aren’t looking for bicycles on such a busy street.

Carmelita and Elevado Avenues offer much more pleasant options, but again have the disadvantage of having stop signs on every block, and are too far north to provide a viable alternative for most riders.

We need a safe route through your city. We need bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.

By installing bike lanes on Santa Monica, you will provide bike riders with a safe, convenient route through the heart of Beverly Hills, while creating a single, nearly continuous bikeway from the 405 Freeway to east of La Cienega in West Hollywood. The resulting Westside bikeway will bring bike riders — and their spending power — into the heart of Beverly Hills.

Meanwhile, pass-through riders will be easily able continue on to West Hollywood or Century City, or drop down a single block to connect with the bike lanes on Burton Way.

In addition, you will improve safety and traffic flow on Santa Monica by moving cyclists out of the way of traffic — not just on Santa Monica, but on all the streets mentioned above, as cyclists will be encouraged to take Santa Monica rather than streets like Charleville or Little Santa Monica.

In fact, studies have shown that painted bike lanes reduce injuries for all road users by as much as 50% — and up to 90% for protected bike lanes. Bike lanes also act as traffic control devices by channelizing both cyclists and motorists into their own separate spaces and encouraging compliance with traffic regulations.

And bike lanes are a vital step in transforming Santa Monica Blvd from today’s traffic-congested barrier blocking access to the rest of the city, to a complete street that will enhance livability for residents and encourage the tourism local businesses depend on.

Best of all, next year’s planned reconstruction of the boulevard provides a rare opportunity to implement bike lanes at virtually no additional cost, saving future generations the cost of adding them later to correct your mistake if you fail to vote in favor of them tonight.

In fact, a vote in favor of bike lanes creates a unique opportunity in which everyone benefits — motorists and residents, tourists and businesses owners. As well as bike riders who want to pass through the city, and those who want to stop and frequent the city’s many shops and cafés.

I urge you to do the right thing. And cast your vote tonight for a better, safer and more livable future for everyone who lives, visits or passes through Beverly Hills.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
BikinginLA.com

Lots of news — SaMo Blvd bike lanes, CicLAvia 2014, misguided SaMo Op-Ed piece, possible Olin charges

Sold out auditorium for the recent Southern California Cycling Summit; see below.

Sold out auditorium for the recent Southern California Cycling Summit; see below.

Let’s catch up on some of the recent news.

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First up, Westside riders owe a big thanks to Mark Elliott of Better Bike.

Elliot has led the fight — almost single-handedly at times — to improve safety and ridability in the traditionally bike-unfriendly Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

A comparison to a lone salmon swimming upstream would be putting it mildly; the mythical Sisyphus would be more apt.

Yet somehow Elliot persevered, resulting in a 1-year “pilot program” to install bike lanes on Burton Way, and bike lanes and sharrows on North Crescent Drive. While I’ve never had cause to ride Crescent, the Burton Way bike lanes have become my favored eastbound route out of the city — when I’m willing to risk my life riding through Downtown Beverly Hills to get there.

For the past year or more, Elliot has led the fight to include bike lanes on a reconstructed Santa Monica Blvd when it goes under the knife in 2015, providing a vital missing link between existing lanes in West Hollywood and Century City.

Despite overwhelming odds and the opposition of the city’s paid consultant and members of the Blue-Ribbon Committee established to study the issue, his efforts have once again carried the day, winning approval by a 9-2 vote of the committee.

Then again, the fight isn’t over yet.

The committee’s recommendation now goes to the Beverly Hills City Council for approval next month, on a date to be determined. Hopefully, we’ll get enough advance notice of the meeting to show up and voice our support.

But for the first time, it looks like we might actually get a near-continuous Santa Monica bike lane stretching from the 405 in West LA to east of La Cienga in WeHo. And we have him to thank for it.

Of course, there still are problems to be solved.

……….

Next up is the newly announced CicLAvia schedule for 2014.

This year offers three of the exceptionally popular Open Streets events, minus last year’s overly crowded CicLAvia to the Sea and the long-rumored San Fernando Valley CicLAvia. Both are promised for next year, though the former may see a reconfigured route to overcome some of the problems that resulted in near-impassible blocks of bike-congestion on Venice Blvd.

Yet even with just three events on the calendar, it looks like a strong line-up.

The Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route returns on Sunday, April 6th, once again following LA’s main street from Downtown to the Miracle Mile — although Mark Elliot has hinted that Beverly Hills might like to get in on the action. The route visits some of the city’s finest architecture and historical sites, as called out in this guide from the Militant Angeleno.

CicLAvia takes the summer off — perhaps because that Valley route fell through? — before returning with a reconfigured Heart of LA route through the Downtown area on October 5th. This year’s route extends from Echo Park to East LA, as well as traveling the length of Broadway from 9th to Chinatown, with a stop at the relatively new Grand Park.

Finally, the first holiday season CicLAvia will take place on December 7th, with its first full foray into South LA. The route will range from Leimert Park, the cultural center of the Southside, to Central Avenue, the birthplace of West Coast Jazz and home of the legendary Dunbar Hotel. Can’t wait to read the Militant’s guide to this one.

Of course, the question is, does any of this really matter?

And the answer is, of course it does. In ways that many of us, myself included, may not have realized.

LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has written what may be the best and most insightful analysis of what CicLAvia is and can be. And the role it plays in transforming our city for the better.

It’s a must read.

Just don’t read the comments.

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On the opposite side of the coin, there’s this misguided Times opinion piece from a long-time resident of Santa Monica, who blames bikes and urban planning for all the traffic problems in the city.

In it, he laments the young urbanites who have invaded his city, while simultaneously proclaiming that the majority of the city’s 92,000 residents can’t ride bikes and live too far to walk to the city’s newly hip urban core.

So wait.

Despite the influx of moneyed young people, most city residents are too out of shape — or maybe just too lazy — to get on a bicycle? They can’t be too old, given the number of riders I know in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who somehow manage to ride on a regular basis.

And if no one can ride, where do all those casual bike riders come from?

As someone who used to work in the city over decade ago, I can testify that Santa Monica’s traffic problems existed years before more than a handful of bike lanes appeared on the street. It frequently took me over an hour to drive the 6.5 miles from my beachside office to my apartment just 6.5 miles to the east — and not because of any bikes on the streets.

And don’t even get me started on virtually impassible Lincoln Blvd, which has long been avoided by bicyclists — despite being a designated bike route — because of the heavy automotive traffic.

Then he complains about bicyclists who position themselves in traffic — “because they can!” — moments after complaining about the bike lanes that move riders safely out of the way.

For someone who claims to have lived in Santa Monica for nearly three decades, he doesn’t seem to understand the city very well.

Or urban planning, for that matter.

Or bicycling, at all.

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The investigation into the December 8th death of cyclist, entertainment lawyer and former Napster exec Milt Olin is nearly complete. According to the LA Times, the case will be presented to the District Attorney to determine whether charges will be filed.

The Daily News reports the Sheriff’s Deputy who killed Olin when his patrol car somehow drifted into the bike lane on Mulholland Hwy could face a charge of vehicular manslaughter, or possibly even felony manslaughter.

“Could” being the key word.

It’s also possible, if not probable, that the DA will decline to file charges based on the evidence presented by the Sheriff’s investigators. And no word on whether charges will be filed against the department if it’s found that the deputy was following policy by using the onboard computer in his patrol car while driving, as some have suggested.

And while the department has gone out of its way to stress the independence of the investigation and deny any special treatment, they have guaranteed that the results will be second guessed — no matter what they conclude — by investigating a death involving their own deputy, rather than turning it over to an outside agency such as the CHP.

……….

The Metro Board approved a motion calling on the transit agency to look into a countywide bike share program (Item 58).

While there’s no guarantee such a program will actually be approved, it could provide deep pockets to back the system, while avoiding the Balkanization caused by competing and possibly incompatible programs in various cities.

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(L-R) Anthony Reguero, President PTE Events, Chris Carmichael, author Time-Crunched Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, President Bahati Foundation and Michael Bell, Oakley.

(L-R) Anthony Reguero, President PTE Events, Chris Carmichael, author Time-Crunched Cyclist, Rahsaan Bahati, President Bahati Foundation and Michael Bell, Oakley.

I received a press release this past weekend from the Bahati Foundation about the SoCal Cycling Summit 2014, held at Oakley Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA.

Unfortunately, I found out about it long after the January 14th event was over.

I say unfortunately because I’m a big fan of the efforts of the foundation, founded by former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati, to bring the joy of bicycling to inner city youths.

And because I would have enjoyed hearing from famed cycling coach Chris Carmichael, author of The Time-Crunched Cyclist.

Summit attendees representing a diversified audience that ran the gamut– Olympic medalists, serious weekend enthusiasts as well as international competitors, filled the 400-seat amphitheater to hear Carmichael discuss his revolutionary time-crunched cyclist technique. “The SoCal Cycling Summit is a wonderful platform for our foundation to share its vision in providing assistance to inner-city youth through cycling,” said Rahsaan Bahati, founder Bahati Foundation.

“Athletes want to stay engaged in the sports they love, but it can be a difficult balance for working parents and career professionals. The time-crunched athlete program is a new approach to endurance training, one that actually takes advantage of a busy athlete’s limited training time. It’s been successful for tens of thousands of athletes, and I look forward to sharing the program with everyone at the SoCal Cycling Summit,” stated Carmichael.

Maybe next year.

………

Things aren’t looking good for long-planned bike lanes on North Figueroa Blvd, which had been approved and ready to implement until new City Councilmember Gil Cedillo appeared to throw a wrench in the works — despite his previous support for the plan.

As a result, the LACBC is calling on bike riders to contact the councilmember to express their support for the lanes, especially if you live or work in the area.

Since the candidate forum we sponsored in 2013, we have seen bike lanes installed on Colorado and the Eagle Rock bike lanes extended to Colorado.  All that is left to complete the backbone network in Northeast LA is N. Figueroa.

The residents of Northeast LA are scratching their heads thinking why haven’t they been installed yet?  After all, they were packaged for last year’s projects alongside Colorado/Eagle Rock.  This is a good opportunity to raise the question and urge Councilman Cedillo to keep his promise and install bike lanes on this very important corridor. Please join us TODAY for a day of action urging Councilmember Cedillo to add bike lanes on N. Figueroa between York and San Fernando!

Call Cedillo’s office and share your thoughts.  Dial his downtown office (213) 473-7001 and let his staffer know why you think bike lanes on N. Figueroa are good for everyone.  Then, email alek@la-bike.org and let me know how it went.  Remember to stay positive!

You can find a sample script here.

………

Finally, the CEO of Ford gets it. Even if certain residents of Santa Monica don’t.

 

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.

……..

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.

Rail-to-River comes to South LA, important meeting in BH, and e-bikes to help the recently homeless

We finally made it.

As you can see, things look a little different around here.

Which is a clear sign this site finally made the transition to a new server, the first step in transitioning to an advertising supported bike news site.

There are still some bugs to work out, including the fact that links from the old site haven’t followed over to the new one yet, and visitors to the old site aren’t automatically transferred over here.

Meanwhile, the design is just temporary, an attempt to replicate the old look and feel while we work on the cool new site to come.

So bear with me while we work out the bugs, and build a whole new bigger and better BikinginLA.

And thanks to everyone for the kind words of support in recent days.

I’m definitely feeling the love.

………

Big news from LA’s undiscovered country south of the I-10.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has joined with fellow Supervisor Gloria Molina to propose an 8.3 mile rail-to-trail conversion through the heart of South LA.

The proposed Rail-to-River trail would follow Slauson Avenue east from the future Crenshaw/LAX rail station in Inglewood to just north of Washington Blvd near the LA River. Which means that riders will finally have a direct off-road route from the LA River bike path most the way to the beach.

More importantly, bike riders — and potential riders — in one of LA’s most underserved areas will have a safe place to develop their skills and build a healthier lifestyle. And the county will turn an underutilized eyesore into an asset that could help revitalize the area.

What’s not to like?

The first meeting to discuss the trail will take place this Wednesday at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School, 644 E. 56th Street in Los Angeles.

Big thanks to Ridley-Thomas and Molina for bringing this to the table.

………

The Cyclist Down Facebook page reports yet another hit-and-run in Downtown LA.

A Cyclist was injured in a Hit & Run early Sunday morning in DTLA.

The cyclist suffered injuries to his wrist and a broke his nose in two places.

The incident occurred around 1 am near 4th & Hill. Cyclist was knock unconscious and does not remember the incident and was transported to a local hospital.

No further details available at this time.

Hopefully, we can find the jerk who left yet another rider bleeding in the street.

In case you have noticed, I effing hate hit-and-run drivers.

………

The Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills — upgraded from Black Hole thanks to some nice bike lanes on Burton Way — will host a meeting tonight to discuss the planned reconstruction of Santa Monica Boulevard through the city, including the possibility of bike lanes to fill the gap between lanes in Century City and West Hollywood.

The meeting will take place in the Municipal Gallery on the second floor of the Beverly Hills City Hall, 455 North Rexford Drive starting at 6 pm. If you ride through the city — or would if you felt safer on the streets — you owe it to yourself to be there.

Or at least voice your opinion on the comment page.

………

I’m not one to simply repost a press release.

In fact, most never make it any further than the trash bin on my email account.

But I’m going to make an exception this one time. Because not only is the piece unusually well-written, but it tells the tale of a young man determined to make a difference.

And we could use a lot more like him.

bikeshareLOS ANGELES, CA, December 9, 2013 – Formerly homeless residents at two Los Angeles supportive housing projects will soon have wheels to get to jobs and job training, school, interviews, medical appointments, sober meetings, and gatherings with loved ones – courtesy of a teenage Eagle Scout candidate and competitive bicyclist.

Diego Binatena of Boy Scout Troop 927 in Westchester learned that the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), a bicycle advocacy group, was looking for a good home for 20 electric pedal-assist bicycles that were sitting unassembled in a warehouse due to the closure of a bicycle company.

“A bicycle is a terrible thing to waste,” joked Binatena, a Scout since first grade, a bicycle commuter and national-level competitive racing cyclist. More seriously, said the Playa del Rey teenager, he created “Cycle Forward BIKESHARE” as his Eagle Scout Service Project to put the LACBC bicycles to use as transportation for formerly homeless youth and men trying to improve their lives.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Binatena is aware of the effects of poverty and homelessness. His mother, Julie Lansing, is the administrator of a rent-subsidy housing program for low-income families and chronically homeless adults.

“Our dinner table conversations were often about the problems of homelessness and how our family could help with solutions,” said Binatena. “My mother had us participate in food drives, adopt-a-family, and fundraising events. She taught us that everyone who cares about people in need can make a difference in their lives.”

Binatena found his partners and beneficiaries for BIKESHARE at two Los Angeles transitional housing agencies: Jovenes, Inc, in Boyle Heights and PATH La Kretz Villas in East Hollywood. Jovenes focuses on helping at-risk men ages 18-25 years and PATH provides intensive supporting housing for 48 residents.

“Moving around the city is a tremendous challenge for our residents, and this bike sharing program will make a real difference,” said Eric Hubbard, Development Director for Jovenes, Inc.

Be Prepared

Binatena launched his project in September and quickly learned that for his project, the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” required hard work, money and friends. After consulting with bicycle advocates, he set a $25,000 budget for the project. Beyond the bikes donated by the LACBC, valued at $1,000 each, he needed bike racks, safety equipment, locks, commuter bags, and safe-cycling program materials.

With a polished Power Point presentation in hand, Binatena got agenda time at the Westchester/Playa and East Hollywood Neighborhood Councils and the Westchester Rotary Club. He left all three meetings with checks in his pocket. He got donations from the South Bay and Los Angeles Wheelmen Bicycle Clubs and the Southern California Gas Co. He successfully solicited bicycle accessories, and safety equipment from KHS Bicycles, Collision & Injury Dynamics, and Planet Bike. He recruited fellow Scouts and friends to assemble the bicycles and racks.

Three months after project launch, Binatena exceeded his goal: He collected $2,700 in donations and $2,300 worth of bicycle equipment.

“I was not prepared for such a positive reaction from everyone,” he said.

Hard work and persistence are not new to Binatena. Bicycle racing requires planning, preparation and focus – plus countless hours on the bike in training to compete at a high level, he said. After winning the 2013 California Junior State Road Championships and other elite races, he was recruited by the USA Cycling National Team to race in Europe against the best in the world.

When Cycle Forward “BIKESHARE” is rolling at PATH and Jovenes, Binatena will present his service project to the Eagle Board of Review to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.

………

Finally, maybe you missed the uproar over the weekend about the overly-litigious gang that couldn’t shoot straight, as Specialized threatened to sue a small Canadian bike shop that dared to use the name Roubaix, which Specialized claims to own but really doesn’t.

No offense to local bike shops who carry the brand. But it’s going to be a long time before I’ll be willing to buy anything bearing the Specialized S. Evidently, I’m not the only one.

And no, an apology won’t be enough.

Not this time.

Breaking news: bike lanes come to Beverly Hills

Looking east from just past Rexford Drive

Looking east from just past Rexford Drive

Okay, so it wasn’t a total surprise.

Recent news reports had indicated Beverly Hills would be installing their first bike lanes over the next week or so.

So when I saw temporary no parkings signs on Burton Way on my way to CicLAvia on Sunday, I assumed something was in the works.

Since a meeting of the LACBC’s Civic Engagement committee meant I had to ride through Beverly Hills on my way to Downtown LA Tuesday evening, I made a point of taking Burton Way just to check it out.

And sure enough, as soon as I passed Rexford Drive, after surviving the relative terror that is Little Santa Monica at rush hour, there it was. A sparking, capacious new bike lane — so new, in fact, that other riders were taking to the sidewalk in apparent disbelief of what was right there on the street in front of them.

And who could blame them?

Beverly Hills had long earned its moniker as the Biking Black Hole for being the only city in the area without a single inch of bikeway.

Until today.

Maybe we should call them the Biking Grey Hole now. Especially since the new lanes, along with bike lanes and sharrows due to go in on Crescent Drive, are only being installed on a one-year trial basis.

Still, the lanes felt good, more than wide enough to ride two abreast. And the eastbound lanes connected with the lanes on the Los Angeles section of the street, allowing a smooth, comfortable ride from Rexford to San Vicente.

With the slight downhill, I found myself easily riding at 29 mph; previously, I would have held my speed down for fear of traffic conflicts.

Although I might question the placement of sharrows where the bike lanes end to allow right turn lanes on some of the major streets. While they are placed according to standards in the center of the right through lane, few cyclists are likely to ride there, as there is more than enough room to ride next to vehicular traffic in the few feet before the traffic light.

Looking back at Beverly Hills City Hall, which suddenly looks just a little bike-friendlier.

Looking back at Beverly Hills City Hall, which suddenly looks just a little bike-friendlier.

At least, that’s where I rode, since stopped traffic blocked access to the center of the lane, anyway.

On the ride home, the westbound lanes skipped a block between where the L.A. lanes end just at Doheny, and the Beverly Hills lanes picked up a block later.

After all this time, it seems like a minor miracle that Beverly Hills finally has bike lanes. And maybe a warning sign of the apocalypse.

And of course, they installed bike lanes on one of the streets in Beverly Hills that doesn’t need them, since it was more than wide enough to ride outside of the traffic lane as it was.

But still. They’re actually here.

We all owe a round of thanks to Mark Elliot of Better Bike, who has been leading an almost single-handed, and finally successful. fight for cyclists in the Biking Grey Hole.

Which could take a little getting used to.

Reward in hit-and-run murder of David Granados, new video in Beverly Hills road rage attack

Maybe the city is getting serious about hit-and-runs.

Or at least, the kind that leaves an 18-year old bike rider lying dead in the street.

As you may recall, 18-year old David Alexander Granados was attempting to cross Oxnard Street in the crosswalk at Bellaire Avenue when he was hit by a speeding SUV that ran the red light, throwing his body nearly 200 feet according to witness estimates. A friend who saw the collision told police Granados had the right of way, and looked both ways before crossing the street.

In other words, despite doing everything right, he was murdered by a lawbreaking motorist who fled the scene like a heartless coward, rather than face the consequences of his actions. And his killer continues to hide despite numerous pleas for him to come forward, and offers of forgiveness from the victim’s family.

Now the L.A. City Council will vote Tuesday to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the suspect.

The LAPD has released security camera footage of the suspect vehicle, a white or silver Mercedes M Class SUV with likely damage to the passenger side, driven by a man in his 50s.

Anyone with information is urged to call Valley Traffic Division Officer M. Tucker at 818-644-8063.

Thanks to Richard Risemberg for the heads-up.

……..

On a related note, the Beverly Hills Police Department has released a pair of new videos showing the vehicle involved in the road rage assault on a bicyclist in an alley just off Wilshire Blvd on April 3rd.

The videos show a white, newer model BMW 3281; the driver is described as a white or Middle Eastern man in his mid-30s with dark hair and eyes, and a slender build.

Despite the lengthy delay in announcing the case to the public, the BHPD appears to be taking the case seriously, seeking the driver on suspicion of attempted murder.

Anyone with information should call Det. Eric Hyon at 310/285-2156.

……..

A letter on the Encinitas Patch site reports that fund has been established for the family of fallen Carlsbad cyclist Eric Ringdahl, who was killed by an allegedly sleeping driver while riding in the bike lane on El Camino Real last Sunday.

To make a donation to help support Eric’s family, please send checks to the “Eric Ringdahl Memorial Fund.” Checks may be deposited at any Wells Fargo Branch or mailed to Wells Fargo, 277 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024.

The letter fills in the blanks in his biography, confirming that he worked in cell-based therapies at Cytori Therapeutics Inc. He leaves behind his wife Amy, an amateur triathlete, as well as three children ranging from five to nine.

In a tragic irony, the family has been active in efforts to improve road safety, working to get a new stop sign near their children’s school.

……..

Finally, a 25-year old Berkeley-area cancer patient leaves a note for the jerk who stole his or her bike, apparently attached to the one remaining wheel the thief left behind.

The note adds that the rider didn’t drive, and the bike was the only means of transportation to get to oncologist appointments.

And that “Biking made me happy.”

However, the first — and so far, only — comment to the story goes a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity.

i have a bike – you can have it.

Breaking news: Cyclist attacked in Beverly Hills road rage assault; rider not seriously injured

More bad news from the Biking Black Hole.

News is just breaking that a bike rider was deliberately attacked with a motor vehicle after the rider hit the driver in a road rage dispute.

According to the Beverly Hills Police, the incident occurred nearly three weeks ago, around 6 pm on Wednesday, April 3rd.

Evidently, they don’t feel an urgent need to keep the public informed of violent crime on their streets. Let alone for the prompt release of information that might lead to the arrest of a dangerous suspect.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, reportedly punched the driver of a white, possibly 2008 model year BMW 328i in the face. The motorist threatened to kill the rider, and followed him into an alley in the 9000 block of Wilshire Blvd, between Wetherly and Almont Drives; a Google satellite view shows alleys on both sides of the street behind the buildings facing Wilshire.

The driver then intentionally rammed the cyclist with his car, pinning him against a metal trash bin. Fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured; the fact that the trash bin was on rollers may have lessened the force of the impact.

The assault was captured on security footage; the attacker can clearly be seen reversing course in the alley and striking the victim, who clings to the mirror of the car as it backs away. Once he’s thrown off, he walks back to collect his bike.

There’s no word from the police on what caused the dispute.

Yes, the rider broke the law in striking the driver, regardless of what led up to it. It’s possible that he could face criminal or civil charges for assaulting the driver unless it can be shown that he hit him in self-defense; however, that requires that the action is necessary to halt a current or imminent physical attack.

The far more serious crime, though, is the motorist using his vehicle in a deliberate attempt to injure or kill the rider after the initial incident had concluded. It should be no different under the law than someone who gets into a fight in a bar, then goes out to the parking lot and shoots the person he’d argued with.

This is a clear case of assault with a deadly weapon. Any claim the driver may have had to self-defense ended the moment the cyclist initially rode away.

The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern or White male in his mid-30s, with dark hair and eyes, and a thin build; the Beverly Hills Courier has a somewhat sketchy sketch of the suspect. The car suffered possible minor front-end damage, although it may have been repaired by now.

Hopefully, the BHPD can overcome the delay in releasing this information and bring a violent criminal to justice.

And take this for fair warning.

As tempting as it may be sometimes to get even with the jackass that just ran you off the road, it’s never a good idea. There are some crazyass, and potentially very violent, people out there.

And it doesn’t take much to set them off.

What the f*** is wrong with Beverly Hills??????

Excuse me if I’m a little livid.

Okay, mad as hell, to the point that my head may explode.

Because once again, a story has surfaced of a cyclist seriously injured on the streets of Beverly Hills. And once again, the local gendarmerie is either incompetent, or just doesn’t give a damn about a bike rider bleeding on their streets as a heartless motorist just drives away.

It’s an all-too-common complaint I’ve heard from far too many bike riders. They get hit by a car in the Biking Black Hole, and there’s little or no follow-up by the Beverly Hills police.

And as a result, little or no justice.

The latest case comes courtesy of L.A. Streetsblog, as they follow-up with Paul Livingston, a rider so critically injured in a hit-and-run that he’s able to walk only through the miracle of modern medicine.

Let alone still alive.

The last thing Paul remembers that day is being put on a stretcher before he woke up in a hospital bed six days later. He suffered spinal and pelvic fractures. His pelvic bone, broken in half and pushed upwards into his bladder had severed blood vessels causing him to bleed internally. When he was first admitted to the hospital he was hypotensive, which means his organs were shutting down with the lack of blood and his body was going into shock. Paul underwent three abdominal surgeries within the first two days just to stop the bleeding. On the fourth day, the doctors were able to fix his pelvis and then he went through spine surgery only to have pelvic surgery once again to get it back to its original position. Paul also suffered from post-operative infection from the abdominal surgeries. Finally, with his fever gone, he was healthy enough to have his spinal fusion – as a result, Paul is a bit shorter now.

You’d think that any competent police agency would conduct a thorough investigation of such a serious felony, and do everything necessary to bring the near-killer driver to justice.

You’d think.

I ask him about the person who hit him, self-identified as Victoria Chin. He tells me that during the time of his recuperation, he had been in touch with the Beverly Hills Police Department to find out what was going on with the woman who hit him and then ran. Apparently, they were dropping the ball on his case as they never even processed her car for evidence. And her explanation for not stopping, as given to the BHPD, “There was no place to park.”

The technical loophole that Victoria Chin falls into is that no one could properly identify her even though the day after the collision she called the BHPD herself. The police officer she spoke to said she had to come in to the police station to turn herself in. She then called back saying she would be in tomorrow. The police officer reminded her to bring her car in for processing. The next day, Chin showed up without her car and with a lawyer. She only admitted to being Victoria Chin refusing to say anything else. Her lawyer asked the police officer if they were going to book his client. BHPD said no. So, the lawyer asked if they were going to arrest his client. BHPD said no.

They let Victoria Chin go. No arrest. No charges.

It’s far from the first time something similar has happened.

Beverly Hills police and courts have repeatedly dropped the ball on cases involving cyclists. And while they have responded to pressure from riders, it shouldn’t be up to us to force them to do their damn jobs.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I’m not anti-police.

In fact, I have a great deal of respect for most cops, and have often been impressed with the responsiveness of the LAPD when I’ve dealt with them on various issues. While there are always a few bad apples, I’ve found overwhelming majority of officers are caring and committed to doing their best to protect the public and bring justice to those who have been wronged.

With the obvious exception of the NYPD, who the Beverly Hills police are evidently trying to emulate in their lack of responsiveness in incidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians.

But there is simply no excuse for any department dropping the ball so badly in so many cases where bike riders are run down on their streets. And given that it happens so often, the question arises whether it’s the fault of a few incompetent cops, or if there is a willful, systemic bike-blindness within the department that emanates from the top down.

It’s not a question I can answer right now.

Fortunately, charges were finally filed in the Livingston case, despite the failure of the department to conduct the most basic investigation.

In late august 2012, over a year after the crime, Don Ward wrote about the crash here at Streetsblog and elsewhere informing people about Paul’s situation and called on the cycling community to join them at the Beverly Hills City Council Meeting to draw attention to his case.

For a moment, Paul pauses his story, speechless, he swallows and then tells me that four months later, after the public outcry and the persistency of his lawyer, Otto Haselhoff, the DA of Beverly Hills is finally pressing charges. The helplessness that Paul describes to me, all his suffering, mental and physical anguish, had begun to lift. He quit drinking, started jogging, he was able sleep through the night.

“Knowing that something can be done, that there will be some kind of justice, this changed my life.”

Maybe so.

It’s long past time for Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden and new Mayor John Mirisch to meet with bicyclists to find some solutions to the dangers we face on their streets. And the apparent lack of support we get from the police.

In the meantime, I will continue to avoid Beverly Hills as much as possible. Not just because of their failure to provide a single inch of bikeway anywhere in the city.

But because I don’t trust the police to give a damn conduct a thorough and honest investigation if I end up bleeding on their streets.

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