Tag Archive for bicycle safety

Morning Links: OC Register writer shows ignorance on road diets, and a look at ghost bikes and bicycle safety

This is the final day of our first-ever May BikinginLA LACBC Membership Drive. And your last chance to get some great bike swag when you sign up or renew your membership with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

We’re up to 29 members who’ve signed up as part of the drive. So we just need two more to make it one a day for the month of May, with 31 members by the end of the month. Or better yet, get your entire riding club to sign up today to help make our original goal of 100 new members by the end of this month.

So don’t wait. Join or renew now to help make this a more livable, bikeable city and county.

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Let’s keep things short today — relatively, anyway — to kick off the week after a far too busy three day weekend. We’ll get back to our regular link-filled format tomorrow.

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This is what happens when someone doesn’t have a clue what he’s writing about.

But doesn’t let that stop him.

Fifty-two years after Bob Dylan warned “don’t criticize what you don’t understand,” indignorant Orange County Register columnist Joel Kotkin attempts to create a public panic over road diets, without apparently bothering to understand what they are or how they’re used.

Kotkin warns that Governor Brown has a secret plan to reduce greenhouse gases by making traffic congestion so bad that it will force Californians out of their cars. And into a “high-density, transit-oriented future.”

And the tool to accomplish this “Soviet-style social engineering?”

Road diets.

That’s right, comrades. He’s onto us.

Never mind that road diets have absolutely nothing to do with reducing global warming or getting people to leave their supposedly non-polluting electric cars at home. (Note to Joel Kotkin: Electric cars cause pollution, too. That power has to come from somewhere, like coal and gas-fueled power plants in most cases.)

Despite his extremely off-base protestations, road diets are performed on streets with excess capacity in order to reduce speeding and improve safety. And in many, if not most cases, can actually improve traffic flow, while making the street safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and, yes, motorists. They can even increase property values by improving livability along the street.

In other words, everyone benefits. Even the bourgeois capitalists in their motor vehicles.

Making matters worse, Kotkin apparently thinks the state’s plan to encourage road diets will a) prevent the widening of freeways, and b) actually be used to narrow said freeways. Although it’s hard to tell with his jumbled, nearly incoherent mixing and mangling of unrelated subject matters.

So just to clarify, road diets are used on surface streets. Period.

They have absolutely nothing to do with freeway projects, nor do they in any way increase freeway congestion. Although they may reduce congestion in the surrounding area by providing people with viable alternatives to driving.

All of which he could have discovered with a simple 30-second Google search.

If he cared enough to actually understand what the hell he’s talking about.

Thanks to Mike Wilkerson for the heads-up.

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Mike also forwards this piece about Southern California Ghost Bikes founder Danny Gamboa.

It tells the story of how Gamboa, a photographer and filmmaker, became involved in the ghost bike movement when his neighbor’s six-year old son was killed while riding his bike.

And how the purpose of the bikes is to call attention to the need to ride safely, and drive carefully around bike riders.

Vincent Chang, who started Bike San Gabriel Valley, remembers two ghost bikes he helped place in Pasadena.

“It’s to honor the individual who passed,” Chang said. “Also, there’s hope that it brings to light the need for safety improvements. They act as a reminder to vehicles that we have to share the road.”

Gamboa’s been asked if he has a morbid fixation. It’s a question he quickly shrugs off.

“Our goal is to be put out of business so we don’t ever have to do this again,” he answered.

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The author of that story, Steve Scauzillo of the Los Angeles News Group, also wrote a piece about bicycling fatalities in Southern California, in which he quoted me extensively, along with Danny Gamboa and the LACBC’s Colin Bogart.

And got it right.

Despite the scary headline, he offers a fair and balanced piece, making it clear that while too many people die on our streets, the rate of bicycling deaths is actually going down as ridership goes up.

And that the odds of returning safely from a ride are overwhelmingly in your favor.

It’s worth noting that Scauzillo, a bike rider himself, spent over an hour on the phone with me to get the story straight. Unlike, say, his colleague above.

I spend a lot of time talking with reporters about bicycling and bike safety, on and off the record. And it’s nice when a reporter goes to the effort to make sure he quotes me accurately and in context.

So whether or not you like what I said, I said it. And meant it.

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Hopefully it’s not a spoiler at this point. But if you still have the last few stages of the Giro or the Nats on your DVR, skip this section.

Still here?

It was a big upset in Friday’s stage 19, as Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali won the stage — and eventually, the tour itself — after Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk, who seemed to have an insurmountable lead, hit a snow bank and wiped out in spectacular fashion.

Back on our shores, the US National road title was taken by virtually unknown 21-year old Greg Daniel. Megan Guarnier cemented her position as America’s leading women’s roadie by winning her second US road championship, and her third in five years.

And Taylor Phinney completed a nearly impossible comeback from a devastating crash caused by a race moto in the 2014 road championships by winning his second national crit title; doctors weren’t sure he would ever walk again, let alone ride a bike. Carmen Small won the women’s title.

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Sad news from Spain, as former pro David Cañada died after colliding with another rider in a sportiv, just six years after retiring from racing.

And race motos cause yet another massive crash, as two lead motorcycles collided in a Belgium race, causing dozens of riders to go down and leading to the cancellation of the stage. At last report, Belgian rider Stig Broeckx was still in a coma after suffering a skull fracture in the crash; it was Broeckx’ second wreck involving a race moto just this year.

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Over the weekend, my wife and I happened to stumble on another new bicycle-themed coffee shop when we stopped to check out a restaurant in West Hollywood.

The Black Bicycle Café opened two months ago on Havenhurst Drive and Santa Monica Blvd; the name comes from the idea that just like bicycles get you where you’re going, coffee fuels you to your destination.

Black Bicycle Cafe

Black Bicycle Cafe Interior

And they make a pretty good cup of joe.

Tell ‘em I said hi if you stop by.

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Finally…

Your next bike could be a blimp, if they can actually get it off the ground. Or maybe a lawnmower.

And it’s bad enough when a kangaroo knocks you off your bike; worse when it ruptures both your breast implants.

 

All hands on deck! Planning Comm to consider anti-bike LA Mobility Plan amendments Feb. 11th

My apologies.

Due to health problems after attending an event last night, there won’t be a Morning Links today. I’ll try to pull it together and get the Weekend Links for you tomorrow.

However, one important item came through my inbox Thursday.

The Planning Commission meeting to consider amendments to LA’s recently adopted Mobility Plan 2035 will be held at City Hall on Thursday, Feb 11 at 8:30 am.

This is the one where opponents to the plan will try to remove key streets, such as Westwood Blvd and North Figueroa — as well as most of Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s CD1 — from the Mobility Plan.

Which means it’s an all-hands on deck meeting for anyone who cares about bicycling and safe streets in the City of Angels. Let alone Vision Zero.

Which should be just about everyone who reads this in LA.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 1.23.43 AM

Morning Links: SaMo approves bike share, SMPD targets bike & ped safety, and a blast from the BikinginLA past

Let’s start with a quick blast from the past.

It came up in conversation on Tuesday, when the subject turned to the needless divisions between bike riders based on what we ride or wear.

This is how I addressed the topic a couple years ago, in a post called The terrible tyranny of two-wheel tribal wear.

The bottom line is, clothes don’t make the bike rider.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how you ride, what you ride, where you ride, or what you wear. Especially not what you wear.

The only thing that really matters that you ride.

The rest is just details.

It’s not a bad piece, if I say so myself. And maybe worth a second look if you’ve got a few extra minutes.

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It came too late to make the news, but word is the Santa Monica city council voted to go forward with a 500-bicycle bike share program, making it the first in the LA area.

And hats off to the Santa Monica Police Department, which will fairly target violations that can lead to bike and pedestrian collisions this Friday.

They deserve congratulations, because unlike previous safety efforts that unfairly focused on bicyclists or pedestrians, this one will look equally at violations by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

And yes, as we all know, motor vehicles pose the greatest risk.

But police are required to enforce the law equally, rather than targeting one group while ignoring the rest.

Nice to see they get it.

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No page to link to yet. But mark your calendar for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s 2nd Annual Open House on December 4th at LACBC world headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street in DTLA.

And while we’re on the subject, the LACBC is hosting a Basic Biking Skills class for coalition members on Saturday, November 22nd. A good reason to join if you haven’t already.

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Local

Bike thefts are on the rise in Huntington Beach. And pretty much everywhere else, as well.

Student run Tommy’s Bike Shop is gaining momentum at traditionally less than bike friendly USC.

KABC-7 looks at Ride 2 Recovery, a great program that uses bicycling to help bring wounded vets all the way back home.

 

State

San Diego has to address the concerns of the city’s bike-loving residents if it plans to meet ambitious goals to increase bike commuting by 2035.

A San Diego bike manufacturer makes Oprah’s list of Favorite Things, which is pretty much the next best thing to being anointed by God.

Caltrain is looking for new members for its Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Nothing like getting into a bike collision on the way to an interview with a San Francisco paper to discuss your new album.

 

National

This is what can happen when you ride in extreme weather, as a Portland cyclist is hit by a falling tree; fortunately, she’s expected to survive.

If you’re going to steal a bike, probably not the best idea to try to make your getaway through a group of Spokane ROTC cadets.

Louisville KY plans to build 100 miles of bike boulevards.

In response to the city’s panic over speeding cyclists, New York officials propose banning hand-held cell phone use by bicyclists, which should cut the city’s traffic death toll by roughly zero.

No bias here. A Florida TV station blames a teenage bike rider for a sideswipe collision with a driver when the kid’s pedal — yes, pedal — allegedly hit the car, rather than blaming the driver for passing too close. And they freak out over riding his bike safely and legally a whole 30 inches inside the traffic lane. Or at least it would have been safe if the driver hadn’t been violating the state’s three-foot passing law.

Palm Beach officials seriously think Share the Road signs will make bicycling safer. There’s a first for everything.

Thanks to an alert — and caring — bike rider, a Florida Marine gets his missing ring back.

 

International

A Toronto writer goes into histrionics over the supposed wasted space of bike lanes in the winter when no sensible person would ride a bike; clearly, these people would beg to differ.

A British study shows drivers pass bikes more safely on roads without center lines; not too surprising that motorists will give more space when they don’t feel constrained by lane markings.

London Cyclist offers advice on riding safely around potholes — something every LA bike rider should know, considering the decrepit quality of our deteriorating streets.

‘Tis the season. A UK charity is looking for bike riding Santas.

Apparently, I’m not the only one with concerns about that new solar panel bike path in the Netherlands, which will only generate enough power for three households when it’s fully built out.

 

Finally…

Congratulations to the newly married Chris Froome. If Cadel Evans and Oakley have their way, your next bike could have a truly bizarre set of handlebars. Or you could end up with an e-bike that weighs less than 11 pounds and folds down to fit in your backpack.

 

Morning Links: More criticism of the GHSA bike safety report; register now for SoCal state highway safety summit

More responses to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s report on bicycle safety, which we discussed here yesterday.

Bike Portland digs deep into the stats to show the report just doesn’t add up. Streetsblog says despite what the report says, the bike boom has been fantastic for bike safety.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking says those scary numbers the report cited for California add up to just 6.3 deaths per 10,000 bike commuters in the state, and that the real scary data is how little states spend on bike and pedestrian safety.

The Bike League says the tone deaf press release doesn’t even mention speeding or driving behavior, and yes, bicycle safety is a national issue. And People for Bikes suggests that the safety in numbers effect means biking has been getting dramatically safer as Americans ride more.

On the other hand, KPCC’s Airtalk keeps it superficial in discussing the matter.

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The State of California is updating its Strategic Highway Safety Plan, described as a “holistic, statewide plan” that coordinates the efforts of a wide range of organizations to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on the state’s roadways.

There are currently over 400 stakeholders participating in the process, from state and federal agencies to police departments, regional transportation agencies, tribal governments and private individuals.

As part of the update process, a Southern California summit will be held to collect public input on how to improve safety on the state’s roadways.

November 12, 2014
8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
California State University, Los Angeles
Golden Eagle Student Union
 

Advance registration is required no later than November 5th at

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1821831/California-SHSP-Development-Summits

Thanks to Alan for the heads-up.

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Local

Metro gets the ball rolling on South LA’s much needed Rail to River bikeway.

A writer for City Watch bizarrely asks if LA’s walkable streets and bike lanes are only for the creative class, before arguing that the streets will be incomplete if they don’t include street food vendors.

Writing for Streetsblog, former city council candidate Odysseus Bostick asks if Los Angeles can fix roads and sidewalks, invest in rail and bike share, and complete other needed infrastructure projects without raising taxes. Good question.

 

State

After five long years, Newport Beach unanimously approved the new Bicycle Master Plan. Maybe this will finally provide some much needed safety improvements down there.

San Diego plans to change the way residents get to work in the next 21 years.

A San Jose State University art exhibit documents a student’s bike tour down Highway 1.

 

National

Auto-centric magazine Road & Track surprisingly admits America is losing the war on distracted driving.

A cyclist rides a single speed from LA to Charleston SC in 27 days to raise awareness of human trafficking.

You can have Kevin Costner’s bike from American Flyers for a cool $40 grand. No offense, but for that price you can have damn near any bike you want.

Great idea, as the University of Louisville gives over 1,000 students $400 vouchers redeemable at local bike shops when they agree not to buy a campus parking permit for at least two years. Are you listening, parking-challenged UCLA?

A DC website asks if city residents will be willing to make the unpopular decisions necessary for Vision Zero to succeed. LA needs to ask itself the same question, now that it’s finally official policy here.

 

International

Cycling Weekly offers advice on how to ride in the rain, which is about as much winter as we ever get around here.

British employers should do more to ensure bike safety, as a significant proportion of road deaths and injuries are caused by work vehicles.

London’s Express offers ten, uh, make that six tips for safe winter riding.

Cycling Central argues that women riders don’t need their own Tour de France, but should have a pro tour of their own somewhere else. Probably because that would make it easier for TV and the press to ignore.

Bicycling is even booming in the land of Putin, as Russian cyclists bring bike culture to Moscow.

Life is cheap in Singapore, as a driver gets a whopping two weeks in jail for the death of a cyclist. But at least he won’t be driving — legally, anyway — for the next three years.

 

Finally…

No bikes involved, as Michigan man in a zombie costume tries to scare passing motorists, with predictable results; police are still looking for the driver. Speaking of which, you’ll need this bike for the coming zombie apocalypse.

And Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson reports on the 2nd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards in his own inimitable style, tongue planted deeply in cheek.

 

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

Now she gets it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was as outraged as anyone.

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

Turns out, a lot of people read that piece.

Including Laura Weintraub.

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

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

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

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

But she wanted to.

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

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

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

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

She’s changed. She truly gets it.

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

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

But don’t take my word for it.

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

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

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

And never appropriate.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Seriously, don’t be a two-wheeled Jerry Browning jerk, and your Morning Links

It’s bad enough when drivers pass far to close.

It’s another thing entirely when the danger comes from being buzzed by other bike riders who really should know better. Especially when there’s no damn reason for it.

In the first case captured in the above video, a rider blew by with no warning whatsoever, apparently  because he couldn’t be bothered to squeeze his brakes long enough to announce his presence and make a safe pass. Had I moved more than a few inches off my line — which would have happened as soon as I thought it was safe to pass the rider ahead — we would have collided.

And probably ended up beneath the cars to our left.

The second rider evidently felt the need to risk my safety by remaining firmly inside the frequently ignored solid yellow no-passing line, brushing by as close as humanly possible without making actual physical contact.

If I had even turned my head to look behind me, she would have hit me. She must have recognized my obvious skill and was confident in my ability to hold my line.

Right.

So let’s get this straight.

What passes in the peloton doesn’t play on the street. Or the bike path, for that matter, which tends to be over populated with the least skilled riders and pedestrians,.

If you’re going pass another human being — on a bike or otherwise — give them at least an arms-length passing distance, if not the full three feet you’d expect from a motorist.

If for any reason you can’t give sufficient passing distance or if there’s any danger of conflict, call if out before you pass. A simple “On your left” can avoid most problems, and is often, though not always, greeted with a thank you and a move to the right.

Which is exactly what I would have done if the woman on the bike path had just announced her damn presence.

And if the guy on the street had yelled it out before blowing by, at least I would have known not to move left, which I was about to do.

While I’m no fan of bike bells, even that helps by offering a friendly announcement that you’re there, if not where you’re going.

And lets everyone know an angel just got it’s wings.

Always pass on the left whenever possible, and never undercut a rider by passing in the door zone he or she is carefully avoiding. If a car door happens to swing open, it could knock you into them, and you could both end up under passing traffic.

Or better yet, just treat other riders the same way you want drivers to treat you. And simply don’t pass until it’s safe to do so.

Better to lose a few seconds off your Strava time than spend a few hours in the ER.

Or force someone else to.

Update: In the comments below, Chuck questioned whether the first rider was really as close as he seemed, noting he passed the rider in front of me at over an arms length.

While he goes by far too fast in the video to tell just how close he is, this still should give a better idea. Clearly, not as close as the near-shoulder brushing rider on the bike path, but still too close for safety, let alone comfort.

Especially at that speed.

Way too close for comfort.

Way too close for comfort.

………

Nice.

Some walking — or in this case, rolling — human scum used sleeping homeless people as props for BMX stunts in Downtown’s Skid Row.

I don’t care how much of a self-absorbed jackass you may be, show some respect for other human beings. Especially those less fortunate than you.

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Abbott Kinney gets a pair of surprise bike corrals; LADOT Bike Blog offers full details on the design and construction, while Streetsblog says the city is taking applications for more. I expect rioting from parking-challenged Venice motorists over the loss of two spaces.

Even so, Flying Pigeon suffers from infrastructure envy.

Meanwhile, the needlessly embattled MyFigueroa project is gaining key support from neighborhood councils, and is due back before the city council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee any day. Hopefully, we’ll get some advance notice of the hearing so supporters can actually show up.

At least one candidate for Glendale city council supports bicycling.

Bike Long Beach invites you to join them for a low-speed Sunday morning bike ride to remember city leader and bike advocate Mark Bixby, killed in a plane crash three years ago Sunday. A more permanent memorial to Bixby is the city he helped transform, where a downtown cycle track has boosted bicycling 33% while reducing bike-involved collisions 80%.

Outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky looks at Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable; has it really been four years since so many cyclists showed up for the first one?

If you need inspiration, you’ll find it here, as the Orange County Register talks to a recumbent-riding Wounded Warrior who’s not letting cancer kick her ass. Thanks to the Register for sharing this one.

Riverside’s long-debated Brockton Ave road diet and bike lanes finally gets a final approval.

Five-foot wide bike lanes are coming to Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas, while green bike lanes are coming to a deadly intersection in Goleta.

More evidence that Caltrans is hopelessly locked in the auto-centric past as they propose widening Highway 1 to six lanes in Pacifica to possibly save 5 minutes drive time 20 years from now. But at least they did include bike-friendly 10-foot wide shoulders in the plan.

Does San Francisco’s MTA spend more on Post Its than bike projects?

More on the unanimous committee approval of AB 1532, which would suspend licenses and create minimum sentences for any hit-and-run.

Two Utah bike commuters were killed by a driver who apparently didn’t see them. No one will ever be safe on our roads until that’s an admission of guilt instead of a Get Out of Jail Free card.

An off-duty Chicago cop who drove away after hitting a cyclist gets one whole year probation and 30 days community service.

New York firefighters will ride 18-days from Ground Zero to the Navy Seal Museum in Florida, towing an I-beam from the World Trade Center.

Very cool bike murals from Buenos Aires. I wonder if I could fit an entire wall in my carry on? Then again, I have not idea how I’d get to Argentina to begin with.

An Ontario Canada triathlete gets $75,000 restitution for taking a beating from a road raging driver, yet, as usual, no jail time for his attacker.

Lots of people swear at cyclists, but this guy may have been going for the record as a road raging Brit driver is caught on video swearing at a cyclist 25 times in just 35 seconds.

Finally, stealing a bike is nothing unusual. Stealing a penny-farthing for a drunken Christmas Day ride home, on the other hand, is.

Horrific DUI hit-and-run case goes on trial, bicycling may be safer than you think, and a Saturday San Gabriel ride

Before we start, a little housekeeping.

Note the addition of four new pages at the top of this site. Hopefully, they’re self-explanatory.

Facts & Stats is exactly that, a random collection of bike facts and statistics that will continue to grow as we stumble upon useful and/or interesting information — including the bit about bike safety a little further down this page.

Resources is a listing of things bicyclists may need, from information on the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance and the seemingly dormant Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, to the LAPD’s Bike Liaisons and a listing of lawyers experienced in bike cases.

Organizations lists bike advocacy groups on the national, state and local levels, as well as local riding groups.

Bike Shops & Co-ops provides links to a small listing of local bike shops that I recommend, or that have been recommended to me; obviously, there are too many shops in the LA area to list them all. In addition, you’ll find bike co-ops and other bicycle services, as well as locally based manufacturers and online retailers. Other online retailers may be added down the road, but the idea is to support local bike shops and builders.

All of these should be considered works in progress. So if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or email the address on the About page.

And I promise to update the Events page now that things are finally getting back under control.

………

Somehow, I’d forgotten all about this case. Maybe because it didn’t involve a bike rider.

Just a drunken Torrance drug and alcohol counselor who hit a pedestrian so hard she knocked him out of his pants and boxers. Then drove two more miles with her dying victim lodged in her windshield, naked from the waist down. And turned away from the emergency room that could, maybe, have saved him.

Consider this from The Awl.

When Wilkins had pulled into the gas station with a pantless (Phillip) Moreno embedded in her windshield, her blood alcohol level was .17. That’s twice the legal limit. There were traces of THC and benzodiazepine in her bloodstream. When police searched her car they found two empty mini-bottles of Absolut Vodka and a 40-ouncer, along with a receipt that showed it’d been purchased that evening.

That driver, Sherri Lynn Wilkins, is on trial now in a Downtown LA courtroom in a case that’s expected to take three weeks.

With two prior felony convictions, she faces life in prison if convicted of vehicular manslaughter, which would be her third strike.

I have a lot of sympathy for people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. But anyone who could do what she did deserves to go away for a long time.

Take a few moments, and read Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s story from The Awl. It’s very well-written, and a very powerful read.

Though perhaps one that’s best done on an empty stomach.

Thanks to Geoff Stiltz for the heads-up.

………

Ever wonder how safe bicycling really is?

According to the 2010 National Bicycling and Walking Study, Americans took 4 billion bike rides in 2009; resulting in an estimated 52,000 injuries, while the national FARS database recorded 628 deaths.

As a result, the odds of returning home unscathed that year would have been nearly 77,000 to one in your favor, while the odds of surviving any given ride were an overwhelming 6.3 million to one.

And yes, deaths and injuries have gone up since then, but so has ridership. If anything, your odds could be even better today.

So don’t let the bad news scare you off. Even if you’ve seen far too much of it here lately.

As for me, I’ll gladly take those odds. Especially when the health benefits of bicycling significantly outweigh the risks.

Thanks to People for Bikes for the top link.

………

City leaders are finally talking Vision Zero. Just not in this city.

New York’s new mayor follows through on his campaign promise for a Vision Zero; even if new NYPD Chief Bratton’s famed data blames the victims. And San Francisco steps up to the plate to stop killing cyclists and pedestrians.

Even new US DOT Secretary Foxx says it’s time to make bike and pedestrian safety a priority.

Los Angeles?

<crickets>

………

Update: Ride cancelled due to smoke from the Colby fire.

This Saturday my friends Jon Riddle and Sarah Amelar, authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles, are hosting their latest monthly ride through the LA area — this time a tour of the San Gabriel foothills.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 – 8:30am

When: Saturday, January 18;  Meet at 8:30 a.m., ride at 9:00 a.m.

Where: Classic Coffee – 148 North Glendora Avenue, Glendora, 91741 (Meet in the public parking lot behind Classic Coffee)

This is the 2nd edition of our very first Touring LA County ride—a tour in the San Gabriel foothills along the northeastern fringe of urban Los Angeles. Rich in history, variety and natural beauty, the area is home to some of LA County’s earliest small cities: Monrovia (incorporated in 1887), Azusa (1898) and Glendora (1911). Two river bike-path systems — along the San Gabriel and the Rio Hondo — tie together the ride, passing along the Emerald Necklace, an evolving string of pocket parks and greenways. The route also includes the Royal Oaks Bike Trail (a rails-to-trails path on the old Red Line trolley right-of-way) and a foray into Monrovia Canyon Park, with its forest and streams.

Ride Length: 46 miles

Ride Duration: About 5-6 hours, including stops

Hopefully, the Colby Fire will be out by then, and everyone can enjoy some good air to breathe.

And mark your calendar for a new Los Angeles Bicycle Commuter Festival and Summit on Sunday, February 16th.

………

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton finds problems with the mayor’s recent traffic collision. LA City Council members want to set rules for how long ghost bike should stay up; how long do the victims stay dead? New Virgil Ave bike lanes officially open on Saturday. New semi-green bike lanes on UCLA campus. Neon Tommy explains why traffic sucks in Century City. Looks like a massive Boyle Heights roundabout is finally moving forward; no word on whether they plan to accommodate bikes or use us as bumper fodder for speeding drivers. Great idea, as a last-minute effort attempts to save the Figueroa-Riverside Street bridge as an elevated parkway for cyclists and pedestrians; as usual, the city says no. On the other hand, we should get a new bright orange Taylor Yard bike and pedestrian bridge soon. UCLA Today interviews parking meister Donald Shoup. Glendale gears up for the 2014 Jewel City Ride next May. Massive new Burbank Ikea will have 1,726 parking spaces — and 86 for bikes.

When your bike becomes your frenemy. San Diego’s acting mayor sees a world-class bike city in the town’s future. A 71-year old Riverside County rider is injured when she allegedly turns into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Thousand Oaks cyclists get new bike lanes on a bridge, but no safe way to get to them. UC Santa Barbara student committee works on improving bicycling on campus. It takes a real schmuck to assault an 11-year old Bakersfield boy to steal his BMX bike. A 70-year old Antioch cyclist is killed in a collision; witnesses report he ran a red light, not something most 70-something riders are normally prone to do. Napa cyclist responds to hate speech graffiti.

Four 5x goals from People for Bikes. Protected bikeways mean business. Elly Blue writes about riding out your period. High speed Seattle road ragers crash multiple times, on purpose. Washington farmers say bikes and trees are incompatible; seriously, I can’t make this crap up. Headline of the day: If smartphones are so smart, why don’t they tell drivers to watch the road? Chicago lawyer goes after taxi that apparently hit a cyclist, only to find the real culprit. Chicago celebrates winter Bike to Work Day; strange that we don’t have one when our weather is so much better. Unlicensed Illinois teenager gets five years for killing a nine-year old bike rider. Tennessee teens pepper spray a cyclist from a passing car. A Massachusetts cyclist is run down by a drunk driver early New Year’s morning after his mother warned him not to go out. Utica NY driver ticketed for failing to pass safely after running down a 74-year old woman with a reputation for “recklessly bicycling in the street;” no, really, that what they said. Cars don’t kill people, irresponsible drivers do; amen brother. Florida police catch a bike riding cross-dressing bank robber. Miami cyclists want the mayor to ride with them to see why riders are getting run down on a city causeway.

In a case eerily reminiscent of the Torrance tragedy above, a Brazilian motorist drives 6 km — 3.73 miles — with the body of his bicyclist victim embedded in his windshield. Maybe bike forks don’t have to be angled after all. Brit motorcyclist tries to kick a bike rider into traffic. Britain needs more cyclists. Britain’s bicycling minister sees a future for everyday riders the current streets can’t support; at least they have a cycling minister, unlike some countries I could name. As long as we’re introducing crazy laws for cyclists, here’s three more. We don’t need no stinking elevated bikeways. Spaniards riot over plans for a bike-friendly boulevard. Think your ride’s tough? Try a 12,000 km race across Africa. Kiwi driver gets 32 months for pushing a triathlete off his bike in a road rage attack. Family of a fallen New Zealand cyclist forgives the driver she collided with, saying he did nothing wrong; that’s class. Aussie pro quits his comeback due to a dangerous heart arrhythmia. Australian judge loses her license for a whole eight months after hitting a cyclist while driving under the influence, but at least she’s barred from hearing alcohol and traffic cases.

Finally, CNN looks at the future of bicycling, which oddly doesn’t include just getting on a bike and going for a ride. And that would probably please a Santa Monica letter writer, who wants to rein in all those killer bike riders on the boardwalk.

Sadly, I’ve gotten word of yet another apparent bicycling fatality, but haven’t been able to get confirmation yet. Let’s hope Friday will bring better news.

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 brief observation on walking the dog, as it relates to dangerous drivers and surviving on two wheels

Let’s talk dog walking.

Or rather, walking the dog as it relates to dangerous drivers. And how that relates to riding a bike in the swirling cesspool of human interaction we call traffic.

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Take what happened last week.

I was walking the Corgi a few blocks from our home, after dark, during rush hour traffic. The last building on the block we were on featured that 1960’s style covered parking in which the front of the building overhangs the parking spaces, with the sidewalk passing between the driveway apron and the parking spaces.

As we were strolling in front of the building, a car pulled up on the side street in front of us, barely paused at the stop sign, then suddenly pulled onto the wrong side of the busy street we were walking along and turned left, making a shallow U into a parking space just in front of us.

Fortunately, I was able to pull her back in time and took a quick step back myself, allowing the driver to zoom by without hitting either of us.

I was not, however, able to control my own reaction, calling him a jackass as we walked past and rounded the corner.

Moments later, though, the driver came running up after us on the dark side street we’d turned onto. As he approached, I moved the dog behind me and balled my fists, prepared to defend myself against the jerk who’d just threatened our safety.

Since we rescued the then four-year old Corgi a few years ago, we’ve developed an interesting dynamic. She’s taken it upon herself to protect my wife, and more than once has shown signs that she would fight to the death to defend her — even standing up to a coyote over twice her size that dared to walk through our urban neighborhood.

On the other hand, she’s also made it clear that she trusts me to protect her, lowering her guard when I walk her in a way she never does with my wife alone. And I take that trust very seriously.

Threaten my safety with your car and I’ll be pissed. But God help you if you endanger my dog.

What happened next caught me completely off guard, though.

He apologized.

He said he hadn’t seen us, and was sorry if he had frightened my dog. Never mind that he’d scared the crap out me.

No apologies for the dangerous stunt he had pulled — and probably not for the first time, since he appeared to live in the building. And no explanation how it was that he failed to see a grown man and a light colored dog on a well-lighted sidewalk.

I was still too angry to politely discuss the situation, so I simply accepted his apology, shook his hand and turned away to walk home, shaken by the close call.

The very next night, I was once again walking the Corgi when we ran into another, all-too-common situation.

We were alongside a large apartment building on a busy side street when a driver entering the parking lot paused to let us safely cross the driveway. However, that left the rear of his car extending out into the traffic lane, much to the chagrin of the driver behind him who was forced to briefly pause in his mad dash through the residential neighborhood.

So needless to say, that second driver leaned on his horn, blasting an angry rebuke that anyone might have the audacity to stop in his way, with no idea why it washappening.

In other words, he was more than willing to let someone else run us over if it meant he didn’t have to slow down for even a moment.

Never mind that he could have simply gone around the other car. Which is exactly what he did after treating us to his rage-filled car horn soliloquy.

And never mind that his honking could have startled the driver ahead of him, possibly leading to tragic results.

And there, in a nutshell, is the problem on our streets. Or one of them, anyway.

Too many of today’s drivers have lost any sense of the danger their vehicles pose to others. They feel entitled to their place on roadway, and have little or no fear of the reckless stunts they pull, having gotten away with them too many times in the past.

Even though getting away with it doesn’t mean it’s legal. Or safe, for that matter.

The problem is, you can only get away with something until you don’t. At which point, it’s too late for anything but the too-often tragic consequences.

Then there’s the sense of entitlement, to use that phrase again, that allows some — not all, but far too many — drivers to feel they have a right to move unimpeded along the streets. And that anyone in their way, be it other motorists legally slowing or stopping for a turn or to let a pedestrian pass, or a bicyclist in the lane in front of them, is committing some offense by delaying their progress by even a second or two.

I see it every day on the busy street in front of my building, as some speeding jerk lays on his horn because a car is stopped in the left lane, legally, to make a turn. Or slows down to safely make a right, rather than taking the corner at a dangerously high speed, as too many do.

Even though using a horn for any reason other than a safety warning is against the law.

And don’t get me started on the drivers who see a car stopped ahead of them, then whip around on the right or left without considering that there may be a reason why they stopped. Other than the other driver just felt like it, that is.

Like maybe a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing the street.

Which is why I politely refuse any invitation from a driver to cross an intersection in front of them unless I know for a fact that every other motorist in the shares their courtesy and inclination.

And yes, before you say it, there are countless reckless, self-entitled jerks on two wheels — and two feet — as well.

The difference being that a reckless cyclist or pedestrian poses a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers pose a danger to everyone around them.

There may be hope, though.

Some drivers get it when they see the potential consequences of their actions. Like the driver who apologized for nearly running down the Corgi and I.

Though whether that will keep him from pulling the same stunt next time remains to be seen.

Then there’s the valet driver I had a brief conversation with in Santa Monica last week.

I was riding past a large hotel on Ocean Ave when a car exited the parking garage right in front of me. And as too often happens, another car followed closely behind him, on a collision course with my bike.

So I yelled out a warning, and the driver came to a sudden stop just a few feet from my right.

He caught up to me at the next light, waiting to make a right as I sat on his left to go straight.

“Dude,” he called out, “I wasn’t going to hit you. I do this all day long, every day.”

“Yeah, but how do I know that?” I responded. “I don’t have any choice but to assume you don’t see me.”

“Oh.” He sat for a moment, letting it sink in.

“So, you’re just doing what you have to do to stay alive. Okay, I get that.”

The light changed and I rode on as he turned away, a little more hopeful than I’d been just a few moments before.

………

Speaking of Santa Monica, still no response seven days later to the complain I filed about being forced to share a bike lane with a Big Blue Bus.

And that’s frightening.

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