Tag Archive for bicycle courtesy

Weekend Links: Avid cyclist gets bike safety wrong in the ‘Bu, and a highly biased 3-foot report from the Bay

A self-described “avid” cyclist offers advice for cyclists in the canyons above Malibu.

And gets most of it wrong.

Despite what he says, bike riders aren’t expected to ride on the shoulder, or even hug the white line at the right of the road. In fact, nothing to the right of the limit line is even considered part of the roadway under California law.

And despite a common misperception, cyclists are not required to ride as close to the right as possible. Rather, bike riders — like any other slow moving vehicles — are expected to ride as close to the right as practicable.

Which means far enough into the roadway to avoid the broken glass, rocks and potholes that too often accumulate on the right.

Then there’s the question of the narrow traffic lanes usually found on canyon roads. The requirement to ride to the right does not apply to any lane too narrow for a bike and a car to safely share with at least three feet between them. Which includes most of the right lanes in Southern California.

There’s also nothing in California law prohibiting cyclists from riding two or more abreast, as long as they stay within a single unsharable lane. In fact, it’s often safer to ride abreast in order to increase visibility and maintain control of the lane.

While it may seem safer and more polite, riding single file along the limit line encourages drivers to pass cyclists in a dangerous manner, rather than change lanes to safely go around them. And it increases the likelihood that passing motorists will try to cut back in between the riders to avoid oncoming traffic, greatly raising the risk of a collision.

Never mind that it’s actually easier to pass a more compact group of cyclists riding abreast than it is a long, strung out line of single file riders.

Yes, bicyclists should always obey the law, and show courtesy to others on the road whenever it’s safe to do so.

And as he notes, we will inevitably come out on the losing end in any conflict with a motor vehicle.

That is why cyclists can and should ride in the manner they consider safest, and motorists should drive carefully around them. Even if drivers — or other “avid” cyclists — may not understand why we ride the way we do.

It only takes a modicum of courtesy and patience on everyone’s part to make sure we all get home safely.

……..

In a highly biased report, a Bay Area TV station takes a remarkably one-sided look at California’s new three-foot passing law.

San Francisco’s KGO-7 concludes that it is virtually impossible for drivers on the city’s crowded streets to give a bike rider three-feet of passing distance while remaining in the same lane.

Evidently, San Francisco drivers somehow lack the ability to change lanes or wait until it’s safe to pass. And never mind that the law allows drivers to pass at less than three feet after slowing to a reasonable speed, whatever that may be.

They also inexplicably note that bike riders aren’t subject to a fine for coming within three feet of a motor vehicle, evidently failing to realize that the purpose of the law is to protect the lives and safety of cyclists, rather than keep motor vehicles from getting scratched.

The law may be far from perfect, thanks to Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of a better version of the law in 2011, as well as weaker version in 2012.

But it’s a hell of a lot better than their amateur reporting would make it seem.

And misguided reports like this only add to the animosity on our streets, putting cyclists at even greater risk.

Jerks.

……..

A bike rider was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in Compton last month after a traffic stop for illegally riding while wearing headphones.

The official version is he tried to flee, then grabbed the officer’s gun in a struggle to get away; a deputy wounded in the incident was shot with his partner’s gun.

……..

Local

Bicycle Retailer notes the ascension of ex-Helen’s employee Chris Klibowitz to editor of Road Magazine. Seriously, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Updated plans for a remade Union Station include two bike and pedestrian bridges over the busy rail yard.

The Bike League makes a mini-grant to the LACBC and Multicultural Communities for Mobility to promote women as community leaders.

There will be a commemorative ride for fallen Pasadena cyclist Phillip O’Neill in the city’s Grant Park next Sunday.

Long Beach’s new mayor calls for more bike cops, and making the bike-friendly city safer for everyone.

The Santa Clarita Century Ride and Expo rolls next weekend.

 

State

The five-day I Can Bike camp teaches disabled children to ride.

OC’s cdmCyclist confesses to Dirty Old Man On A Bike Syndrome. For the sake of full disclosure, I have to confess to riding into the back of a park car while gazing upon an attractive woman in my younger days. She thought it was funny; the owner of the car, not so much.

A bicycling victim of the Isla Vista tragedy hopes to walk in his graduation ceremony; the rider ho was run down in the vicious rampage is the last victim still hospitalized.

San Jose attempts to discourage, but not ban, sidewalk riding.

 

National

A new book tells the story of early bike racing legend Major Taylor, who broke the color barrier over a century ago.

An Oregon man alleges police beat him for riding while black.

A bamboo bike-riding Utah charity fundraiser is convicted of using the money to fund a Ponzi scheme.

Non-cycling Chicago residents are afraid of the city’s new bike lanes, but bike riders aren’t.

Fortunately, the reports of an upstate New York rider’s death were greatly exaggerated. Oops, say the local police.

The public could soon be banned from parking their bikes at the US Capitol.

Some people just don’t belong on the road. A Virginia driver who killed a cyclist had received two tickets in the last year — both after a crash that killed her daughter and niece last spring.

 

International

CNN offers the world’s most incredible bike routes.

Women’s cycling is starting to take its rightful place next to men’s. But women riders offer a voice to be listened to, not a problem to be solved.

Five UK residents rescue a cyclist who was trapped under a car.

It’s not only cars that crash into buildings, as a UK cyclist crashes through a local storefront.

Keep your eyes on Craigslist. Brazen thieves steal 200 bikes worth over $1.1 million from Scott’s Swiss factory, including 2015 models not even on the market yet.

An Aussie cyclist competing in a race swaps his water bottle for a beer. For the second time.

 

Finally…

In an amazing story, 25-year old cyclist Jonny Bellis will be riding in the Tour of Britain — five years after nearly dying and being told he would never walk again, let alone ride.

And maybe we should cut drivers some slack, because parking really does make them crazy.

 

A slow building right hook, how it looks to be invisible and a very courteous SaMo parking officer

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to post any videos from my recent rides.

I ended up deleting most of them this past month as I worked to catch up from my recent involuntary computer downtime. And anything that didn’t seem all that dramatic didn’t make the cut.

But here are a few that did.

First up, as happens far too often, a driver speeds up to pass me on Abbot Kinney, then cuts in front of me to make a right turn. He might have gotten away with it if he hadn’t had to stop short to let a pedestrian cross the street he was turning onto.

If I didn’t have good brakes — thanks Chris! — and more importantly, been prepared to use them, this could have had a different outcome.

Note to drivers — never count on a best case scenario to complete a move you shouldn’t have started in the first place.

Then there’s this one taken the same day while riding past the VA hospital in Brentwood, in which I discover just how it feels to be invisible, by nearly rear-ending a driver who pulled out directly in front of me.

Same notes about good brakes and preparation, same thank you to Chris, formerly of the Westwood Helen’s and now a rockstar bike buyer in the Santa Monica store.

And by the way Chris, if you ever need someone to review anything…

Finally, my videos tend to focus on stupid driver tricks, simply because that’s what I usually encounter on the streets. And what shows up well on video.

Trust me, I wish the video of the idiot who nearly t-boned me Thursday by making a left into the bike lane I was riding in on San Vicente had come out better so I could show it to you. But even though he finally stopped about a foot from my left hip, I was looking straight ahead at the time trying to get the hell away from him.

And the camera doesn’t show what I’m not looking at.

But riding north on Ocean through downtown Santa Monica that same day, I was annoyed to find a parking enforcement officer cruising in the bike lane ahead of me, and started searching for a break in traffic to go around him.

Until he evidently noticed me in his rear view mirror, that is, and courteously — and safely — pulled out of my way to let me pass.

And no, he wasn’t pulling over to write a ticket; he gave me a wave as I passed, then pulled back in behind me once I was out of the way.

Note to the City of Santa Monica — if you can identify this guy from the video, give him a medal or a commendation or something.

He makes your city look damn good.

If only all your parking officers — let alone drivers — would follow his lead, the streets would be a much safer place for all of us.

A little this, a little that: a little bike courtesy goes a long way, NIMBY homeowners battle Expo bikeway

Once again, the issue of conflicts between fast riders, slow riders and pedestrians rears it’s ugly head on the L.A. River bike path.

A slower rider complains about cyclists he calls “speed racers” brushing past and cutting in too close, and wonders why they can’t just slow down.

The answer is not, as the story suggests, imposing speed limits on riders or taking other steps to slow faster cyclists. Or, as some riders have suggested, getting non-cyclists the hell off the bike path.

It’s a simple matter of showing other path users the same courtesy you expect them to show you.

Even though it often seems few things are less common than common courtesy these days.

But really, it’s very simple.

For slower riders and pedestrians, always be aware of your surroundings and other people on the path, keep to the right and leave room for faster riders to pass you.

For faster cyclists, remember that it’s a multi-use path, which means that other people have every bit as much right to be there as you do. Always slow down, announce your presence — ie, “on your left” or “passing on the left” — and pass carefully, waiting until the way is clear and it’s safe to do so. And whenever possible, give other path users the same three-foot passing distance you expect from drivers.

If you can’t manage that, find another place to ride or walk.

There are enough jerks on the roads without bringing that crap onto the paths we use to get away from it. And them.

And that goes for every other bike path, too.

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up.

………

In the most astounding example of bold-faced NIMBYism this side of Beverly Hills, a group of Westside homeowners have filed a federal environmental lawsuit attempting to block the bike path — yes, bike path — along the Expo Line extension into Santa Monica.

Because, evidently, we cause more harm to the environment than all those trains rushing past. Especially after filling up on Danger Dogs $1 burritos.

Of course, what they really fear is all us big, bad bike riders besmirching the safety and sanctity of their neighborhood. And are willing to ridiculously abuse existing environmental laws to stop us.

We can only hope the judge recognizes this for what it is, and tosses them out on their NIMBY ass. And sticks them with the court charges.

………

It Magazine invites you to celebrate the end of bike month with a panel discussion on Greening Your City: Biking Los Angeles, moderated by actor Ed Begley Jr. on Saturday, May 26th in Pasadena; panelists include LACBC Executive Director Jennifer Klausner, former LA District Attorney and Paris cycle chic photographer Gil Garcetti, C.I.C.L.E. Executive Director Dan Dabek and Bike San Gabriel Valley co-founder Wesley Reutimann.

And L.A.’s Council District 14 joins the LACBC, LADOT, and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council to host a Downtown Bicycle Network Open House next Wednesday.

………

Despite the urging of GOP party leaders, Tea Party Congressional representatives once again target all federal bike and pedestrian funding in an attempt to force the socialistic funding of highways by people who may or may not use them.

………

No wonder American kids are so fat.

At least 60 Michigan high school seniors are suspended for — get this — riding their bikes to school, even though they were escorted by the city’s mayor and a police car. Something tells me it may have been one of the principal’s last official acts at that school.

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Matthew Gomez for the heads-up.

………

LACBC board member Steve Boyd talks about the new Tern folding bikes, which GOOD says could transform transit; GOOD also takes a look at L.A.’s lowrider bike club. LADOT offers a list of new bike rack locations, while the new Orange Line bike path extension is nearing completion; oddly, without having to content with an environmental lawsuit from over-privileged homeowners. New bike lanes appear in Boyle Heights. Nightingale Middle School students ask for bike lanes so no more kids will get hurt. Seems like there’s one in every crowd, as Will Campbell and another rider stop for a stop sign and let a crossing driver pass — who then has to jam on his brakes when a trailing jerk rider blows through the stop. A writer for the Daily Trojan says more bike lanes won’t solve USC’s problems, but fewer bikes would. The annual Bike Night at the Hammer Museum returns Thursday, June 7th. A look at bike polo in North Hollywood Park. Beverly Hills is surrounded with sharrows, but can’t seem to figure them out. Sunset magazine looks at a Glendale woman who embraced biking to take back the suburbs. Welcome to Mike Don, the newly hired director of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition.

The state Senate votes once again on whether California cyclists deserve a three-foot passing law; a nearly identical law passed both the Senate and House last year before being vetoed by our misguided governor. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times says the proposed three-foot law is sort of better than nothing. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious has developed a statewide map showing the location of bike-involved collisions reported to the CHP; wrecks from the last 24 hours are shown in yellow, older ones in red. Grant Fisher, the cyclist critically injured in San Diego the same day Robert Marshall was killed, is now paralyzed from the waist down, but with a better attitude than most of us; heads-up courtesy of BikeSD. In better news, Baron Herdelin-Doherty, the cyclist seriously injured in the collision that killed cyclist Nick Venuto when a driver flew off a San Diego freeway and landed on the bike path they were riding, says he’s almost back to health almost a year later. Camarillo cyclists are about to get bike lanes over Highway 101.

George Wolfberg forwards a look at some unusual and artistic bike racks; something else Beverly Hills says they just can’t manage to do. Bicycling offers advice on how to avoid rookie roadie mistakes. GOOD looks at the history and psychology of sharing the road. A year later, Utah authorities are still looking for the hit-and-run driver who killed a 24-year old cyclist. Portland cyclists are going to get a new bike highway on the left side of the road to avoid buses; local Portland groups look to develop a crowd-sourced case for bike advocacy. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club seeks to train grassroots bike activists. On the eve of the Exergy women’s stage race, a Bay Area women’s pro team has their bikes stolen; hats off to Boise police for getting them all back. A South Dakota drunk driver plows through three kids riding their bikes; link via Witch on a Bicycle. Whatever issues we have in here in L.A., at least you don’t have to worry about a deer jumping over your bike, though you may have to watch out for cougar killing SaMo police. Bicycling declares Dallas the worst bike city in America. Trial is starting in the case of the hit-and-run driver accused of killing a Maryland Senate candidate in 2010. A vigil is held for Mickey Shunick, the Lafayette LA woman who disappeared riding home from a night out; it couldn’t hurt to say a prayer if you’re so inclined. The six best cities to take a bike vacation.

A former Vancouver city councilor says the city’s bike share program will fail if riders are required to wear helmets. A Toronto cyclist was trying to walk away when he was deliberately run down by a cab driver. A London writer says Chicago gets it right and they don’t. London’s transportation department says six of the city’s most dangerous intersections are safe. One of the UK’s top teen cyclists battles back against meningitis. That inflatable bike helmet is about to hit the market overseas for the equivalent of $525; I think I’ll keep using my $65 Trek hard hat.

Finally, a British Member of Parliament is hit from behind by a minicab at a red light, then yelled at by the driver for not getting the hell out of his way. It may be worth noting that the cab belongs to the same Addison Lee cab company whose owner recently encouraged cabbies to drive illegally in bus only lanes, and said it’s cyclists’ own fault if we get hit.

Oops.

Tuesday’s ride, in which I discover that not all dangerous jerks ride on four wheels

Recently, Santa Monica’s Parks and Rec Commissioner commented about how dangerous the beachfront bike path can be.

I experienced that for myself yesterday, when I was almost nailed by another cyclist who couldn’t seem to grasp what the problem was.

I’d thought I was going to be stuck at home all day, despite the best weather we’d seen in a few weeks. But as the morning progressed, I found myself with an unexpected opportunity to get out for a quick ride, so I grabbed my bike and took off for the coast.

Apparently, a lot of other people were distracted by the lovely day, too.

I could almost count on getting left crossed and right hooked, cars pulling out in front of me and doors flying open unexpectedly. But a little defensive riding kept me out of harms way.

Still, I was having a very enjoyable ride as I come down the bike path below the Palisades, headed towards the pier. I had just passed the life guard headquarters, and was approaching the end of the parking lot below the life guard station, at the point where the bike path takes a short jog to the left before turning right and down a short hill.

While I usually prefer to stay on the bike path to enjoy the view, a lot of riders take the more direct route through the parking lot there. And sure enough, I saw a rider coming up on my left through the parking lot to merge onto the bike path.

A quick mental calculation indicated we were on a direct collision course; if neither of us changed our pace, I would arrive at the access point just in time for him to t-bone me.

Since I was already in the superior position on the path, prudence would have dictated that he should yield and pull in safely behind me. But sometimes, prudence is nothing more than a woman’s name. And not a fashionable one at that.

As I watched, he accelerated, picking up his cadence in an apparent attempt to beat me. Sure enough, he darted onto the path just feet in front of me, as I feathered my brakes to avoid a collision.

As he darted down the hill, I yelled out “a**hole!”

And instantly regretted it.

Not because his riding didn’t deserve it, but because I’ve learned over the years that the only thing you accomplish by calling someone that is to convince them that you’re one yourself. And it didn’t fail in this case, either.

Clearly, he heard me, as he slowed down to let me catch up to him, anger evident on his face. Yet in typical passive aggressive style, insisted that the only problem was my anger over something so trivial as risking the safety of a total stranger.

It was clear that any discussion would be a waste of breath, so I just rode on, leaving him in my wake.

Yet a few moments later, he was at my side again, demanding to know what he did wrong. So I pointed out that he had sped up to cut me off, and said that what he did was no different than what a bad driver might have done. And that merely avoid a collision wasn’t good enough, any more than it is when a driver thinks he passed safely after buzzing you, just because he didn’t actually make contact.

And that he would be just as angry if someone did to him.

Instead of conceding the point, though, he denied accelerating — despite having started out well behind me, yet somehow miraculously getting there before me.

Again, it was evident that I was wasting my time, so I refocused on my own riding as he once again dropped back behind me.

This time, though, he slipped into my wake, and drafted on me for about half a mile. Then out of the blue, called out from behind, asking me to get out of his way so he could finish his ride — despite a wide open lane on the other side of the center line where he could have easily gone around me.

Once again, exactly like drivers all too often do, honking and yelling behind a cyclist rather than just pulling around to pass.

So I moved to my right and slowed to let him go by, sincerely hoping that I wouldn’t see him again.

I’ve long suspected that people ride the way they drive. So it wouldn’t surprise me if he would have done exactly the same thing if we’d met when he was behind the wheel.

All I know is that’s not the kind of person I want to share a road or path with, on two wheels or four. And proving once again that anyone can learn to ride fast, but it takes experience and effort to learn to ride well.

And for once, I understood what drivers are talking about when they complain about dangerously aggressive cyclists.

Turns out it’s not a myth, after all.

.………

If you’re not busy Wednesday evening, stop by the Palms Neighborhood Council, as Mayor Villaraigosa stops by to discuss making the streets safer for cyclists. Or discuss the Santa Monica Bike Plan with special guest Long Beach Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy. Meanwhile, Gary sums up coverage of the recent SaMo Bike Plan Workshop, and takes a consultant to task for the absurd comment that all the easy bike projects have been done already.

.………

Amazingly, the bike lane on eastbound Ohio near the VA Hospital has been restriped and moved out of the badly broken asphalt along the gutter; I’ve long considered this the worst bike lane on the Westside, so the news is more than welcome. Interestingly, I just rode that section on my way home Tuesday afternoon and nothing had been done yet; clearly, they worked fast.

.………

Council candidate Stephen Box releases his first campaign video. Don Ward, aka Rhode Block, responds to his well-deserved honor as Advocate of the Year. The city authorizes a $50,000 reward in the murder of a 14-year old bike rider. Mark your calendar for the next Streetsblog event on Tuesday, January 18th, as they join with KPCC, American Institute of Architects, Pasadena and Foothill Chapter, and Pasadena Magazine to discuss Planning the Future of Our Streets. The L.A. Business Journal looks at the story behind Riding Bikes With the Dutch.

Bike San Diego says 2011 will be the year of the bike in our neighbor to the south. A Davis cyclist is left crossed by a 78-year old driver, while a Modesto cyclist is killed in a right hook while riding in a crosswalk without a light. CHP investigators are “getting pretty close” to an arrest in a fatal Redding-area hit-and-run last November. California’s new higher threshold for grand theft will be “bad for bikes, and bad for bike business.” Life as a diabetic cyclist. Courtesy of Just Another Cyclist comes word of DIY bike snow tires.

Ending the mythical war on the car, or how to talk to conservatives and drivers; a writer for London’s Guardian newspaper astutely asks where the victims of this so-called war are, maybe the real war is the one on bikes. The focus for government should be on comprehensive policy measures to make cycling safer, not helmet laws. The old saw that roads pay for themselves turns out to be a myth, and cyclists probably overpay for our share of the road; dig deep into the details with the full report. Virtually ride through virtually any neighborhood with Google Bike. Safe passing bills are introduced in Virginia and Washington state, but not everyone thinks the Washington law is a good idea. Taking a stand against a dangerous project in Montana. A DC cyclist spots his stolen bike and politely leaves a note on it. The new year claims its second victim in Florida.

The best way to protect cyclists and pedestrians could be to make driving more dangerous. Researchers call for a ban on large trucks in cities after finding they’re involved in 43% of fatal bike collisions — despite making up just 4% of traffic. An Edinburgh city councilor gets criticism for claiming mileage when travelling by bike. A Dutch formula for calculating the benefits of cycling, including cupcakes consumed. Bike helmets may offer protection for children, but can be dangerous when not riding. Say it ain’t so, Jeannie — the ageless Jeannie Long-Ciprelli, one of the greatest cyclists of all time, hints at retirement at age 52.

Finally, the former king of Bhutan takes up cycling to support the county’s GNH — Gross National Happiness. Imagine what could happen in this country if our leaders actually focused on what would make us happy.

And seriously, don’t build jumps on multi-use trails; that won’t make anyone happy.

Better bike courtesy won’t keep cyclists alive

Note: there were too many important news items today to include in this morning’s post. Come back a little later this morning for news about AAA attacking bike and pedestrian funding, the Mayor calls for a bike friendlier Metro, cyclists urged to ride right at Critical Mass, and a Maryland driver runs over a deer who turned out to be a candidate for Senate.

………

Maybe he just doesn’t get it.

Or maybe we’re just not going to convince David Whiting that all the courtesy in the world won’t keep careless, dangerous or distracted drivers from running down even the most polite cyclists, pedestrians and yes, other drivers.

Whiting — the OC Register writer who wrote last week that the solution to the county’s one-a-month rate of bike deaths was for bike clubs to ride single file and stop running red lights and stop signs — now says the answer could be as simple as being more courteous to drivers.

Seriously.

Even though a failure to show the proper deferential politeness hasn’t been a factor in any of the deaths I’m aware of.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in roadway courtesy. I make a point of signaling, and often wave drivers across the intersection in front of me if there’s any question who has the right-of-way. And I do my best to let drivers behind me pass anytime it’s safe to do so.

But not just to be nice.

I’ve learned the hard way that there are few things more dangerous than having a frustrated, angry jerk stuck on your rear wheel. And I’d much rather signal my intentions or let someone else go first than risk any misunderstanding that could result in us both attempting to occupy the same space at the same time.

I’m also a big believer in obeying traffic laws, as well as avoiding unnecessary distractions while I ride. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it keeps me safer on the streets.

But let’s be honest. Bike courtesy wasn’t a factor when nine-year old Nicolas Vela was run over by a monster truck whose driver couldn’t see the little kid riding his bike across the crosswalk directly in front of him.

Nor did it come into play when Donald Murphy was run down by a woman high on prescription medications, who kept driving with his bike still stuck under her car. Or when Alan Earl Miller was killed by a truck that drifted off the roadway while he was riding on the shoulder.

And it certainly wasn’t a factor when a car veered off the road, killing Christy Kirkwood and injuring another rider.

So if Mr. Whiting or anyone else wants to start a campaign to increase courtesy on the streets, count me in. Though I do look forward to the companion campaign, in which drivers are urged to show more courtesy to other road users by passing safely, observing the speed limit, stopping for stop signs, signaling, sobering up before driving, and turning off their cell phones when they get behind the wheel.

But let’s not pretend for one minute that it has one damn thing to do with the tragic and completely unacceptable rate of cyclists killed on the streets of Orange County.

Because it doesn’t.

And pretending it does will only mean more deaths until we stop blaming the victims and address the real problems.

………

While we’re in Orange County, the OC Register reports that the senior cyclists cited for riding on the sidewalk — despite a sign saying it was legal to do just that and a cop who seemed to suggest they should— recently had their day in court.

And won.

Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Max DeLiema ruled in favor of the two-wheeled scofflaws, delivering a not guilty verdict for both.

“According to the Judge, since there is no signage that directs bicyclist to exit the sidewalk, then the interpretation of the law is that ‘riding your bicycle on the sidewalk’ is OK!” Leslie Smith told us by e-mail. “We have spent three days in court (one for my husband, Duane, to enter a plea of not guilty, one for me to enter a plea of not guilty, then today in court to testify)! Such a waste of taxpayer $$$….”

Now maybe Newport Beach should consider improving their signage.

And maybe the police should offer a well-deserved apology.

Thanks to David Bain for the link.

………

Enjoy the confluence of bikes and poetry on L.A.’s Eastside with the Spokes & Words Back to School Ride this Thursday. Flying Pigeon is featured on the Green Jobs California web site. KCRW discusses CicLAvia and biking in LA (no, not me); not surprisingly, the first comment is about how dangerous those darn bicyclists are. Riding a bike while towing a device for riding a bike in place. A Santa Monica council candidate talks local issues, including how to make the city bike friendlier. A look at the Whittier Greenway. San Diego area authorities opt for cheap sealant on a local $10 million bike bridge, which means it will be out of action for the next two weeks. A San Jose cyclist is killed in a apparent hit-and-run. Cyclo-cross comes to Las Vegas this week. Speaking of Vegas, Cyclelicious visits Interbike. An Oregon cyclist is killed trying to beat a train across a crossing. Two Portland cyclists are run down in rapid succession, apparently by the same possibly intentional hit-and-run driver. The New York law that allows cyclists to bring their bikes into their office buildings hasn’t worked as planned. Bicycling as a way of life to reclaim America’s streets. Construction begins on the London 2012 velodrome track. A Labor candidate for London mayor tries to out-bike BoJo. The IMBA joins with component manufacturers to improve European Mountain biking. A Kiwi mother is knocked cold by a hit-and-run cyclist.

Finally, the widow of a man killed by a cyclist last year in NYC gets an apology from the city’s DOT commissioner; no doubt she’s cleared her schedule for the next few weeks to apologize to the relatives of all the cyclists killed by drivers.

And happy World Car-Free Day, a holiday that will no doubt be little noticed on the streets of L.A.

Don’t ever do anything that could possibly piss a driver off

No.

Oh, hell no.

It’s true, like it or not, that our behavior on the road can affect how drivers respond to us. And yes, we have as much responsibility for avoiding confrontations on the streets as drivers do, even though they have to potential to do far more harm.

Sharing the road goes both ways, requiring all road users to observe the law and show courtesy and respect for others. And yes, that includes you and me.

But you can take that philosophy too damn far.

A bicyclist and writer for New West does exactly that, arguing that cyclists must “do what they can to stop angering and inconveniencing motorists.”

It’s not like the writer is completely out of line. Of the five pieces of advice he offers, four make perfect sense. For the most part, anyway.

He tells riders to hold your line, noting that riding in a straight line is “perhaps the best habit a cyclist can have,” in terms of safety and allowing drivers to maneuver around you.

He suggests wearing bright clothing — which is something I’ve always advocated, despite the current fashion for muted earthtone bikewear — as well as using lights and reflectors in low-light conditions.

And as many others have, he notes that there is safety in numbers, and that more bikes on the roads means drivers will get more used to sharing them with us. However, he also says cyclists should ride single file; mostly true, even though it can be safer to ride two abreast in some cases in order to control the lane and increase visibility.

He also instructs riders to obey traffic laws. Again, good advice, although there can be cases where what’s safe and what’s legal aren’t always the same thing in a world where traffic laws weren’t written with cyclists in mind.

So far, so good.

The problem comes in the final bit of advice — the first in his list —  where he accuses “too many” riders of angering drivers with a “holier-than-thou attitude” and thinking they have special rights.

So tell me. How can any driver — or any other cyclist, for that matter — know what someone’s attitude is without stopping and asking them? Stepping behind the wheel of car or onto the saddle of a bike does not make me or anyone else a mind reader. And whatever attitudes I may ascribe to those I share the road with is more a projection of my own state of mind than any deep psychological insights into others.

Besides, what some may see as a “holier-than-thou” attitude may reflect nothing more than a thorough knowledge of the law and our right to the road.

He goes on to suggest that you never, ever do anything to tick off drivers.

Basically, be constantly careful not to give motorists any reason to dislike cyclists. Don’t take over a road. Don’t inconvenience motorists. Pull over when you have traffic backed up. When waiting at a stoplight, leave room for motorists to turn right on red. Be considerate.

Reward politeness with politeness. Smile and wave when a motorist gives some courtesy and space. Be careful you wave correctly so it isn’t misinterpreted as an obscene gesture.

Yes, it is often courteous to move a little to the left at a red light, so cars can use the right turn lane; however, in places without a turn lane, it’s not always safe to do so.

And you should allow others to pass when it’s safe and there’s enough room. Although nothing says you have to pull over and stop unless there are five or more cars backed up behind you and unable to pass.

Simply put, if they can go around you, you aren’t impeding traffic. Period.

I also believe in giving a wave of thanks when a driver shows me courtesy or operates with unusual safety. But I have a right to be there, and thanking a driver for merely giving me the space the law requires just reinforces the mistaken idea that streets are for cars and that bikes don’t belong there.

And whatever you do, he says, don’t ever express anger or talk to a driver to let them know that they did something dangerous.

Reward meanness with kindness. Even when a motorist cuts you off, yells obscenities or hazes you, don’t yell back or offer up the universal salute. Don’t ride over the driver’s side window for a little chat; this almost never has a good outcome. Again, smile and wave. Nothing will change that incident; but next time, the motorist might feel and behave differently. Suck it up; take one for the team; do it for all cyclists who will come down that road after you do. Guilt is a powerful motivator.

Yeah, I’m just going to smile and wave and take one for the team when a driver leaves me in a bloody heap in the road.

I don’t think so.

And as the cyclist who may come down the road after you, I’d strongly prefer that you politely let a driver know when he or she does something dangerous. My life may depend on it.

Look, I understand where he’s coming from. A little courtesy goes a long way towards making everyone’s trip safer and more enjoyable. And in any confrontation, the cyclist is the one who is most likely to come out on the losing end; after all, we’re not the ones armed with two-ton weapons of mass destruction.

But the sort of condescending obsequiousness he suggests only reinforces the common, but mistaken, attitude that we’re interlopers on the drivers’ turf.

Finally, he concludes by repeating his call for bike riders to be “ambassadors for everybody who rides a bicycle, now and in the future.”

So lets make this very clear.

I am not an ambassador for bicyclists, any more than any driver is an ambassador for every other motorist on the roads.

An ambassador is someone who represents others in a foreign land. But these streets are not foreign territory belonging to motorists.

I belong here. I have a right to be here.

And I’m not going to apologize for it.

………

Meanwhile, a new survey shows 65% of Brits think biking is normal, and only 7% think cyclists are strange. And 43% wish they were on a bike while they sit stuck in traffic.

I’m not sure I want to know what a similar stateside survey would show.

………

Allesandro Petacchi jets to victory in a mass sprint in stage 7 of the Vuelta. Christian Vande Velde looks to make a comeback at the Vuelta, if he can stay in one piece. And the Times says new evidence may have surfaced implicating Lance Armstrong in the government doping investigation.

………

Funding approved for the first phase of the West Valley Greenway. The Southern California Association of Governments prepares to take a collaborative approach by launching a BikePed Wiki website next month. UCLA Today looks at Ayla Stern, new BAC member and co-founder of the Valley Bikery. LACBC looks at Wednesday’s Monthly Mixer. Claremont Cyclist looks back at the weekly Wednesday Griffith Park Ride. Courtesy of dudeonabike, proof that even cars in Oregon can support bikes. Santa Rosa installs a 65-foot obelisk made of recycled bikes in the middle of the city’s automotive district; isn’t every city an automotive district? Cyclists complain about getting bumped from Caltrain. Struggling to focus on the road while riding through Big Sur. A San Francisco conservative — there’s an endangered species for you — ridicules Obama for wearing a helmet, a year after he was criticized for not wearing one; sometimes you just can’t win. The University of Arizona opens an on-campus bike valet. A Spokane city councilman starts a flame war with cyclists, insisting he can be rude if they can and suggests banning bikes “if this ignorance continues to happen here.” A look at the court case that established your right to ride on the road, hard to believe it’s only been 10 years; the lawyer who handled that case says you have to fight for your rights. A cross-country cyclist has his bike and gear stolen in Missouri. Why Chicago is falling behind other biking cities. Some drivers take the blame and some pass it. A cyclist gets hit twice in one month in Downtown DC; bad luck or bad biking? Florida cyclists complain about misplaced rumblestrips on roadway shoulders; at least that’s one problem we don’t have on PCH. Yet. A helmetless Ottawa cyclist dies in a solo accident after flipping over the handlebars. An Irish cyclist is found dead on the side of the road, with no sign of a collision. Bonnie Prince Charlie joins with British Cycling to promote bikes as sustainable transport. A Brit cyclist falls off his bike and punches the paramedic who tries to help him after downing 12 pints. Photos of the latest bikes from Eurobike 2010; the latest bike shorts have a fly. Police in North Wales says no race marshals from the local cycling association, no race. Doubling the number of Danes who bike to work. Yet another warning to beware of middle-aged men in Lycra, aka Mamils.

Finally, in yet another example of heartlessness, a Sacramento cyclist is killed when a driver hits him from behind at 55 mph, then stops, sees a body lying in the roadway, and continues driving for another hour before calling to 911 to report that she thinks she hit a dog.

I swear, there is a special place in hell…

Running red lights on PCH: Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Chris Frost speaks out

A couple weeks ago, I met with Malibu Public Safety Commissioners Susan Tellem and Chris Frost, along with LaGrange member and BAC Vice Chair Jay Slater, and a representative from the Sheriff’s Department, to discuss safety issues in the Malibu area.

While there was disagreement on some issues, one thing we all agreed on was the need for cyclists to observe stop lights on PCH. A serious cyclist himself, Frost made a compelling argument that riders who run red lights in that area pose a significant risk to their own safety, as well as needlessly causing problems for other road users.

As a result, I offered to let him write about the issue from his own perspective, as a rider and Public Safety Commissioner. What follows is his comments, presented without input or editing on my part.

………

The City of Malibu has been inundated with cyclists who fail to stop for the required red lights on Pacific Coast Hwy. I am a cyclist myself and put in a great many miles out there amongst you. Many of you know me, as I have taken the time to poll you (mostly at the Trancas Starbucks) on your feelings about PCH. I have ridden with many of you, and know you outside of my duties as a Public Safety Commissioner. I have asked you about your riding habits, and from that have culled a pretty good understanding of what goes on out there. This, coupled with what I personally observe and experience, has led me to the following.

The red light issue has reached a level that is causing problems for all cyclists, even those who obey the law. Motorists have developed a kind of tunnel vision that does not differentiate one cyclist from another. That means that the law-abiding rider gets treated pretty much the same as one who continually flaunts the law. So when you get buzzed for no apparent reason, the cause may well be an incident you had no part of.

This is happening much too frequently now, and it has developed into a breeding ground for animosity and worse–injury and death.

No one is so entitled that they are permitted to ignore a red light. And for you top tier riders, this means being a role model, not the cause of an accident. I know firsthand what is like to lose a friend out on this highway; and many of you do as well. It changes the lives of many forever–including the motorist involved. Recently, I have had reports of riders who claim they are time trialing down PCH, and thus will ignore the red lights whenever convenient. I’m not even going to comment on this. These riders know who they are, and they need to change their riding style. This is completely unacceptable, and is looked at by the majority of the cycling community as unacceptable. There are stretches of this highway with no lights that allow you to ride without stopping. If you don’t like stop lights, this might be your alternative.

On the subject of T-intersections (e.g., Busch Dr,  Kanan Rd, Paradise Cove, Malibu Pier, Carbon Cyn, Big Rock): we have all taken liberties with these types of intersections. A whole pack of riders was recently written up at Big Rock for running the red light. This was not the case of the lead riders entering on a yellow, but the whole group blasting through a red. That ticket cost each rider approximately $400. Please take into consideration that the residents east of that light use the red light interval to exit their garages and driveways. If there are riders coming through, the drivers have very little time to see this and react. Reports of near collisions and angry exchanges between the cyclists and drivers have become all too common. I have spoken with these residents, and heard about too many cases of these residents being flipped off and having water sprayed at them. Come on everyone, is this the way we want to be portrayed? A T-intersection with a stop light is the same as any other and carries the same requirements as any other.

So in finishing, please stop at the red lights and stop signs. They are there for a reason. If you want to question why, I will be happy to hear your comments at a Public Safety Commission Meeting. Meetings are held at 6 PM the first Wednesday of each month at the Malibu City Hall. Bring your complaints, and try to have solutions as well. Don’t think of it as someone else’s responsibility. It belongs to all of us.

Please understand that I am a long-time cyclist, and will always stand up for cyclists rights. I am also a big fan of public safety because it benefits everyone, not just the cyclists. You are all ambassadors of our sport and what you do on the highway is viewed by other cyclists, motorists, residents, and–most of all–by the youth who will possibly be riders themselves.  So what kind of impression do you want to leave? Remember you are no more entitled than anyone else. And the responsibility belongs to every cyclist out there.

Please police your own sport. It will lessen the impact of having it policed for us.

Thank You,

Chris Frost
City Of Malibu
Public Safety Commission
Vice-Chair

………

The Reseda Blvd bike lanes are nearly finished, while the Wilbur Ave. road diet and bike lanes are threatened. More on Wednesday’s upcoming Streetsblog fundraiser and silent auction, with sponsorship from Ralphs, Trader Joes and my favorite American brewery. Eight members of the oddly, but somewhat appropriately, named Palisades Literary Society bike club follow the Tour de France route through the Pyrenees; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. From my friends at Altadena blog comes word of a $50 reward for a stolen Schwinn Voyageur. Witnesses say the drunk driver charged with killing a biking German tourist in San Francisco got out of his car, moved the bike out of his way, then switched seats with his girlfriend passenger before fleeing the scene.

Levi Leipheimer wins the Tour of Utah. A study shows cars really do make Americans fat. A Pittsburgh man makes his own bike map to guide even timid cyclists through the city’s busiest areas. An NYC proposal to clear out abandoned bikes threatens to sweep up ghost bikes as well. A ciclovía by any other name, as New York closes down Park Avenue to vehicle traffic. A Missouri driver ignores police traffic directions and kills a caring cyclist during a fund raising ride. An Oklahoma State student gets the beer-inspired idea to ride from Stillwater to Alaska, then actually does it. Framebuilder Dave Moulton opens an online registry for current owners of his classic bikes.

Raúl Alcalá, winner of the 1987 Coors Classic and the Best Young Rider classification in the ’87 Tour de France, caps a remarkable comeback by winning the Mexican time trial championship at age 46; thanks to Claremont Cyclist for the heads-up. In a twist on vulnerable user laws, Japanese courts rule that in principle, pedestrians are not at fault for collisions with cyclists on sidewalks. A cyclist is seriously injured after hitting the back of a parked car; residents blame the road, not the rider. A motorcyclist hits a bicyclist; for a change, it’s the guy on the bike who walks away. Great Britain’s Bikeability cycling proficiency program — and the organization behind it — could be on the chopping block. A British writer discovers Mexico City is surprisingly bike friendly. Join the campaign to keep Pat the Postie on his Pashley. Brit cyclists fight a proposed mandatory helmet law in Northern Ireland. London’s Guardian says there’s a bike niche for everyone. Coke discovers bicycling in Turkish with English subtitles; if the video won’t play, try this link.

Finally, police backup is required to pull an 84-year old great-grandfather out of a British bank to ticket him for riding on the sidewalk; meanwhile, a Salinas cyclist says sidewalks don’t belong to pedestrians. And maybe that gesture is actually a roadway blessing.

Today’s ride, in which I decide to emulate my new role model

It was towards the end of a 44 mile ride down the coast.

I’d planned on a half century, but got tired of riding on sand where bike path was supposed to be, and turned back short of my destination.

And yes, Manhattan Beach, I’m talking to you.

Despite that, it was a good ride, aside from multiple motorhead jerks who looked me right in the eye before pulling out directly in front of me or turning too closely across my path.

Somehow, though, I managed to resist temptation and kept my fingers wrapped firmly around my handlebars, other than to give one driver the classic school teacher “oh no you don’t” finger wag as she passed after left-crossing me. She slowed down just a moment, as if to verify exactly which finger I extended, then sped off with a small smile visible in her rear-view mirror.

In fact, it was a good enough ride that I added an extra, completely unnecessary and only slightly out of my way climb about 35 miles in.

But it was near the end of my ride as I was sitting at an intersection in Brentwood, waiting for the light to change, that I discovered my new role model.

A young man, maybe high school age, was riding a fixie up the cross street and positioned about three feet from the parked cars, exactly where he should have been.

Cars going forward were able to easily go around him; unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough for a woman who found her path to the right turn lane blocked by the rider. She was too close to the intersection to go around him and still make her turn, so she blared her horn at the sheer audacity of someone blocking her way for even a few seconds.

He looked back to see who had honked, then did something absolutely amazing.

Nothing.

No response, no gestures, not even a change in expression or riding position. It was almost like he didn’t care, as if the driver’s impatience and anger meant absolutely nothing to him.

He simply kept riding exactly as he had before, making his right at the intersection and getting on with his life, as she had no choice but to follow patiently behind him.

Maybe he was a teenage Zen master, maybe just unusually calm.

Or maybe he really didn’t care.

All I know is, when I grow up, I want to be just like him.

………

This Sunday marks the return of the LACBC’s 10th Annual River Ride, with rides of 100, 70, 50 and 35 miles, along with a 15 mile family ride and a free kid’s ride. While online registration is closed, you can still sign up the day of the event in Griffith Park.

I won’t be riding this year; instead, you can find me at the LACBC’s booth at the Autry Center, where I’ll be working as a volunteer Sunday afternoon.

Stop by and say hello if you get the chance. Or bring your computer with you and maybe I’ll autograph my blog for you.

You can warm up for River Ride with something a little more casual on Saturday, as Flying Pigeon rides to the Eagle Rock Brewery to share a pint or two.

And on Saturday, June 19th, explore art and culture with the Folk Art is Everywhere Bike Tour, an easy 3.5 mile ride through Echo Park and historic Filipinotown.

………

As forecast earlier Friday, a claim was filed against the city by Manny Gallegos, who recorded the now infamous You Tube video of the LAPD’s Critical Mass Takedown — before allegedly being beaten by police and having his iPhone stomped by officers in an apparent attempt to destroy the evidence.

If the claim is dismissed, as expected, his attorneys will file suit in Federal court alleging violations of his 1st, 4th and 14th Amendment rights. Reports indicate that his lawyers, the law firm of Moreno & Perez, have heard from several other cyclists claiming to be victims of the police during last week’s Critical Mass ride.

A word of advice to the city. You’re holding a losing hand — settle this case while you can, before we all end up on the hook for a lot more.

………

The LACBC submits a letter calling on Mayor Villaraigosa to step up and support cycling in Los Angeles in light of the Critical Mass mess:

  1. We urge the Mayor to work with the LAPD to actively support the bicycling community by partnering to sponsor bicycle events, including the street opening event CicLAvia.
  2. We urge the Mayor to work with the LADOT to immediately implement multiple high-profile bicycle lane projects already approved in the city’s 1996 Bicycle Master Plan and the 2009 Downtown Street Standards.
  3. We urge the Mayor to step forward and publicly voice City support for bicycling as a valid means of transportation in the City of Los Angeles.

………

The San Francisco police arrest a suspect accused of running down four cyclists in a deliberate hit-and-run assault after the owner of the SUV involved walked into a police station to report a carjacking; police say significant evidence points to the vehicle’s owner.

And there’s a not guilty plea in the case of a Bay Area hiking advocate charged with slashing cyclists with a hacksaw.

………

The LAPD offers tips to keep your bike from getting stolen. A bill to ban cell phones and texting while biking advances in the state legislature. Santa Monica High School suggests leaving the car at home, while the Santa Monica Library doubles its bike parking by removing space for just two cars. L.A. Cycle Chic offers a look at a Seersucker Social; and they say no one looks good in spandex? A Riverside rider gets dangerously buzzed — by a cop. San Diego cyclists are ordered to keep their clothes on during the Naked Bike Ride. NBC Sports looks at the upcoming Race Across America, which kicks off in Oceanside this Tuesday. Oakland has an exhibit on bikes in the airport. A rolling stone gathers no moss, but no one said anything about bikes. Evidently, we’re facing a spreading epidemic of jerk drivers. Riding from Austin to Anchorage to beat cancer, while a priest rides cross county to fight poverty. A Tucson rider gets his bike back over a month after it was stolen. Springfield Cyclist encounters a foolish rider desperately in need of an education in safe cycling. Rap stars and racers converge at the Harlem Cycling Classic. Advice on what not to do when you’re hit by a car, by someone who just went through it. What you get when you cross a bike seat with a sex toy. Portraits of everyday cyclists in South Africa. An Oxford student demonstrates how to steal a bike in broad daylight as unconcerned bystanders look on. A new British study shows that spending for cycling returns a minimum of three dollars (or pounds) for every $1 invested. German scientists invent a helmet that smells like stinky cheese when it needs to be replaced.

Finally, in non-biking news, the Westside’s long-planned Subway to the Sea and other L.A. are rail projects may actually be built in our lifetime finally become a reality, as the Obama administration officially endorses the Mayor’s 30/10 plan.

So this is how the Lone Ranger feels

It was one of those days.

A Monday in the most pejorative sense, from the time I got up this morning. One of those days when the best laid plans work out no better for mice, or at least, we can assume, than they do men — i.e., me.

I spent the morning gazing wistfully out the window as my planned riding time came and went, along with one of the most spectacular mornings we’ve seen in ages.

I finally managed to wrap up my obligations and get out on the road about the same time most of L.A. was making its way back from lunch. Fortunately, the day still had a lot to offer, even as I mentally sliced one leg after another off of my planned route to get back home in time to resume working and make dinner.

Then again, I tend to believe things happen for a reason.  And as I rode through a parking lot along the beach, that reason soon became apparent.

A couple of women cyclists were stopped in the middle of the parking lot, their bikes on the ground, with one wheel in a state of disassemble. So I pulled up next to them and asked if they needed anything; once they assured me everything was under control, I continued on my way.

As I looped around the lot and came back around the other side, though, they flagged me down to see if I had an extra air cartridge. Being the old school type I am, I offered them my pump, instead.

When the tire lever they were using snapped, I loaned them mine. Then when tube they had put on wouldn’t hold air, I reached into my bike bag and pulled out my spare. And when the woman fixing the flat had trouble getting the tire back on the rim, I offered my assistance.

Unfortunately, her problems went far beyond a bad tube; her tire was shot, a section of the rim separated from the bead. So I patched it up as best I could, and we gave her directions to the nearest bike shop.

Meanwhile, I got to enjoy a conversation with a couple of very pleasant riders. There are certainly worse ways to spend a day.

And I was impressed that a couple of other riders stopped to make sure everything was okay. Although the fact that I was in the company of two attractive female cyclists may have had something to do with it.

The one with the flat offered to replace my tube for me. Instead, I suggested that she pass it on to someone else when the opportunity presents itself.

Then we all went our separate ways. Three strangers, one who needed help and two who’d stopped to offer it.

And I rode back home in a far better mood than I had left in.

……….

LACBC urges everyone to attend tomorrow’s Transportation Committee meeting to fight for a share of Measure R funds for bikes and pedestrians. The woman who successfully transformed New York’s bike system will be the Keynote speaker for next year’s bike summit. The County Sherrif’s Department will hold this year’s Tour of Altadena Bike Ride on December 5th. With so much talk about the new bike plan, C.I.C.L.E. offers a workshop on biking infrastructure and creating great places to ride. Damien Newton calls for a bike network to support the new Gold Line extension. Travelin’ Local looks at bike sharing at UC Irvine. Santa Maria considers their own bike master plan. Minneapolis studies the causes of bike/car collisions; failure to yield — for both — tops the list. South Dakota considers a three foot passing law. Coming soon to a theater near you: a bike messenger action thriller. A U.S. group ships thousands of unwanted bikes to developing countries, while the Los Angeles St. Louis Rams donate 275 bikes to local children — including 22 therapeutic bikes for special needs kids. Philadelphia tells rogue cyclists to stop. Even dolls are getting into the Cycle Chic movement. Brits are up in arms over a new guide for bike cops, which among other things, tells them to not to tackle a suspect while still “engaged with the bike.” Also in the UK, complaints about dangerous cyclists on the sidewalks. Finally, U.S. bike thieves are using Craigslist to sell your bike one part at a time, while in Denmark, insurance companies are part of the problem.

And as an aside to our Kiwi correspondent, congratulation on your local footballers qualifying for the World Cup. See you in South Africa (metaphorically speaking, of course, since I’ll be watching on TV).

The rules of the peloton won’t pass on the street

Let’s take one more quick look at common bike courtesy. Which seems to be pretty uncommon these days.

A few weeks back, I was riding on the bike path above Santa Monica when I came up behind an older woman riding slowly on an old beach cruiser.

Normally, I would have just passed her and been on my way, but there were a couple of joggers coming in the opposite direction. And there wasn’t enough room to complete my pass without posing a risk to her or the runners.

So I settled in behind her, matching her speed until I could safely go around her.

Meanwhile, a couple of riders entered the bike path behind me. One I recognized as a local amateur racer; judging by his jersey, the other appeared to be a member of a mid-level pro team.

As they rode up behind me, I positioned myself just behind and slightly to the left of the woman rider, making it clear that I was waiting to pass. But once the runners passed and I began to make my move, the two riders behind cut me off, without a word, passing so closely that our arms nearly brushed — something that could have easily taken out all four riders at once.

I had no choice but to squeeze my brakes and drop back, then offer my apologies to the woman I’d been trying to pass, who was nearly caught up in a dangerous collision through no fault of her own.

And once I caught up to the other riders, I was mad as hell.

I’m the first to admit that I handled it badly. Instead of calmly discussing the matter, I gave them both a piece of my mind. Not that I have that many pieces left.

But here’s the thing. There are different rules for racing and riding on the roadway. And what works in the peloton doesn’t work on the street. Or on the bike path.

From their perspective, they saw their opening and took it; it was up to me to respond more assertively. And in the peloton, passing closely is a sign of a rider’s skill — not the dangerous rudeness I perceived.

From a non-racer’s perspective, though, it’s just the opposite. The rules of the road dictate that you wait until it’s safe to pass, and allow the rider in the superior position to go first. And then, and only then, you give other riders the same clearance you’d expect a driver to give you.

In other words, three feet when possible. Or roughly the length of a grown man’s arm.

If the situation dictates that you have to pass closer than that, for whatever reason, you should always announce your presence by saying “on your left” or “passing left.” And always, always, always pass on the left.

The only exception is the rare instance when the rider is so far to the left that passing on that side just isn’t possible. In which case you may need to pass on the right, but only after announcing that you’re going to — and waiting a moment to make sure the other rider doesn’t respond by cutting back in front of you.

After all, some people seem to have trouble with advanced concepts like right and left.

And when the shoe is on the other foot — when a rider comes up behind you and announces “on your left” — remember that he’s not being rude, obnoxious or aggressive. He’s being polite and showing concern for your safety, as well as his own.

So just respond by continuing to ride straight, or if there’s room, move over to your right to let the other rider pass. And it couldn’t hurt to nod your head or say thanks as the rider passes.

It might encourage him or her to show the same courtesy to other riders down the road.

And who knows, this courtesy thing might just catch on.

………

L.A. prepares for its first ever bike count, there’s still time to sign up if you’d like to volunteer; Nashville just did it. Fellow cyclist Russell Crowe braves the traffic on Sunset Boulevard; note BOA and Chateau Marmot in the background. As usual, Joe Linton takes the high road and encourages Santa Monica to make positive changes to maintain its bike friendly city status. Another stolen bike alert in L.A. A new study suggests that bike lanes may encourage drivers to pass closer that they would otherwise. A man who dedicated his life to providing bikes to disadvantaged children passed away this week; most of us can only hope to do that much good in this world. A Colorado man is convicted of letting his dogs attack a cyclist during a race last year. Boise gets new bike lockers. Turns out the Vatican has long supported cycling, as well as other sports. An elite Aussie cyclist drives drunk, crashes into his former training partner and flees the scene. Budapest Critical Mass riders plan to encircle city hall in protest. A Middle-Eastern cyclist demonstrates the origin of the Camelback brand. Finally, two teams face off in a Gotham Iron Chef-style contest to raise New York cycling to Amsterdam-ish levels. Maybe we could use something like that here.

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