Tag Archive for bicycle safety

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.

……..

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.

 

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.

………

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.

Just another typically risky ride on the Westside, and a whole lot of mostly non-Lance links

It was just another ride on the Westside.

Full of doorings and blocked bike lanes, cut-off drivers and construction zones.

The sad part is, there was nothing unusual about it. This is what we have to contend with on a daily basis. And this part of the city, through now officially bike friendly L.A. and Santa Monica, is about as good as it gets in SoCal with the possible exception of Long Beach.

It could have been worse.

I left out video from a three-block stretch of San Vicente Blvd where the bike lane was blocked by a Hollywood production crew, because it *might* have shown someone riding through it anyway.

And we certainly don’t want to encourage that sort of behavior.

………

I’ve been doing my best to ignore the whole Lance Armstrong dopergate scandal. And it’s not like you can’t find all the news you can stomach on the subject without my help.

But there are a few stories that add a little depth to the coverage.

A report on CNN accuses Lance of pocketing $1 million donors that may have thought was going to Livestrong, as well as accusing him of being an arrogant jerk. Lance gets a lifetime ban, but the door is left open for other doping riders to repent. The NY Times reports that his wall of silence fell one rider at a time.

Meanwhile, UCI chief Pat McQuaid — who oversaw over a decade of doping cyclists with no apparent repercussions — calls Landis and Hamilton scumbags; pot, meet kettle. Christophe Bassons, known as Mr. Clean for his anti-doping stance, is banned for one year for dodging a dope test. Johny Schleck, father of top pros Frank and Andy, urges his sons to quit, saying “This is no life.” Rabobank is shocked! shocked! to find doping in pro cycling.

And if a doping cyclist causes you to rethink your support of an anti-cancer charity, you’re giving for the wrong reasons.

Thanks to George Wolfberg and @sonofabike for some of the above links.

………

Evidently, attempting to intentionally run down a cyclist and a pedestrian — the latter because he was wearing plaid — is no big deal, as a Tiburon driver gets one-year probation and a three to five year driving ban.

Does anyone think he would have gotten the same wrist-slap sentence if he’d used a gun instead a car?

Anyone?

………

LACBC co-founder Ron Milam makes the case for Los Angeles as a bicycling city; the Bike League says it takes a village to build a Bike Friendly Community. A road diet is being considered for 6th Street in the Miracle Mile, so why aren’t they planning on bike lanes? Better Bike says Beverly Hills police are off-base in how they read the law relating to bikes. Los Angeles gets its first pedestrian coordinators. Cycloscross comes to Glassell Park this weekend. Bikes bring cyclists of different ethnicities together to reduce tensions. The Eastside Bike Club invites you to join in on their Dia de los Muertos ride on November 2nd. Temple City prepares to try once again to make Rosemead Blvd better for bike riders and other humans. CLR Effect looks at last weekend’s Spooky Cross costume ride and the actual race that followed; he also notes the passing of a local cycling legend.

Anaheim police shoot an alleged gang member trying to flee on his bike. Orange County — yes, the entire county — gets a bronze Bike Friendly Community award the same day L.A. does. OC’s Aliso Creek trail is named part of the national trail system. Despite the recent deaths in Newport Beach, Santa Ana is the most dangerous city for cyclists in Orange County. A San Diego councilmember rides with local cyclists to learn about bike issues in his district. Bike SD looks at three-foot laws across the US in the wake of Governor Brown’s second misguided veto. After a Poway boy is injured by a car while riding his bike, press reports note that he wasn’t “wearing a helmet or any other protective gear;” what, like body armor or bubble wrap? Seriously? A 13-year old Ventura County boy is critically injured when he’s run down from behind in a SWSS, as the driver claimed he couldn’t avoid the victim after the rider stopped at the intersection then turned across the vehicle’s path. Our neighbors to the north in Kern County plan to increase county bikeways by a factor of 10. Maybe they’re starting to fight back — a Benecia cyclist is seriously injured after crashing into a flock of wild turkeys. Berkeley’s first Sunday Streets event is a success. Pleasanton police target underage riders without helmets.

Grist says bike riders are better for the economy than drivers; but you already knew that, right? Bike commuting is on the rise in the US. Bike Snob offers his own unique take on cyclocross. Boulder CO cyclist get a new 40-acre off-road bike park. Colorado’s Fort Lewis College dominates the collegiate mountain bike championships. St. Louis passes a city ordinance banning harassment of cyclists and pedestrians. Vandals destroy a new lighted bike path at Syracuse University. A Boston bike share rider explains why he doesn’t use a helmet; maybe so, but going without one because they’re not attractive has to be one of the most asinine reasons ever given. Dispelling the myths about bicycling in Philadelphia; clearly, the writer gets it. A Florida driver gets seven years for the hit-and-run death of a bike riding Japanese college student.

A new study from the University of Duh shows roads with parked cars are most dangerous for cyclists, and separated bikeways pose one tenth the risk of unmarked routes. An Ottawa writer clearly gets it, in one of the smartest pieces I’ve seen from a motorist’s perspective. In a horrifying case from Cardiff, Wales, a murderous driver goes on an intentional hit-and-run spree, killing one woman and injuring 11 others in a rampage that lasted three miles and 30 minutes. Evidently, life is cheap in the UK, or maybe they just take boat racing seriously — a British driver gets eight months for killing a cyclist, two months more than another man got for disrupting a race on the Thames. Maybe that will change, as British government officials meet with bike advocates to discuss justice for cyclists, while a Brit writer says FU, sincerely — and more than once — to the UK’s father of Vehicular Cycling. Three-time Giro d’Italia winner Fiorenzo Magni died at the age of 91. And the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain offers a link wrap-up that goes far beyond mine; the student has clearly surpassed the master.

Finally, when a man walks in on his girlfriend with another man, the writer building a bike for her gets to keep it. Then again, if someone would just move those damn deer crossing signs, maybe they wouldn’t get hit so often.

And if you missed it, here’s a helmet cam video of LACBC Planning and Policy director Eric Bruins’ remarks at last week’s press conference announcing L.A. as a Bike Friendly Community.

A meditation on bicycling, advocacy, failure and mortality, and your weekend events

“There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone
And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone
And you won’t find me singing on this song when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.”
— Phil Ochs, When I’m Gone
 

My father died a failure.

At least, that’s what he thought. Although a funeral that filled the largest Catholic church in town, in what was then a largely Catholic town, would tend to suggest otherwise.

But as a lifelong mechanic and mail carrier, he struggled to feed his family; a meager pension and social security meant there was nothing left to pass on to his children when his time came, far too soon at far too young an age.

Twenty years later, it still feels like a knife to the heart to know that those were among his last words and thoughts.

Yet he left behind four strong, healthy children more than capable of fending for themselves, and not one of whom ever doubted for a single moment that they were loved.

And I can’t think of any better definition of success than that.

But lately, I’ve come to understand the feeling.

After three years of battling the current economic meltdown, I have almost nothing left to leave my wife if anything were to happen to me.

It wasn’t always like this.

A dozen years ago, I was on my way to becoming a VP of Marketing, with the six-figure salary that came with it, for with a company so cool that Apple’s engineers and designers turned to it for inspiration. But internal politics and a corporate bankruptcy put an end to that.

It didn’t take long to bounce back, though. Within a few years I’d built up a lucrative freelance practice, writing advertising, marketing materials and strategic briefs for accounts ranging from local builders to Fortune 100 companies.

Yet over the past few years, the recession has taken its toll. Almost all of my clients have either gone belly up or zeroed out their marketing budgets; the few that haven’t have seen a 100% turnover in their marketing departments, so the people who would have to hire me now don’t even know who I am.

Yes, I could rebuild yet again.

But just as the economy started to go south, my close call with the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter caused me to confront my own mortality. And accept that, at this point in life, the time I have left on this planet is shorter than it is long.

Like anyone else, it could measured in days or weeks, or it could be decades. But no one gets out of this world alive.

And I’m not likely to be the exception.

Fortunately, I have never feared my own death. I was lucky to discover The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in my early teens; if an emperor of ancient Rome could accept his own mortality, I could as well.

So when my time comes, I expect to greet it like an old friend. On the other hand, it’s one I hope not to meet for a very long time.

I also accepted long ago that it may come while I’m riding my bike.

Not because bicycling is inherently dangerous, but simply because I spend more time on my bike than almost anything else I do. If I spent that much time behind the wheel, it would be just as likely to happen there.

Then again, with a family history of heart disease, diabetes and cancer — and exposure to second-hand smoke for the first 12 years of my life — it’s far more likely I’ll have my own family to blame.

As I slowly recovered from my injuries, though, I came to the conclusion that whatever time I have left should be spent trying to make a difference in this world. And that it was time to redirect my life from convincing people they can’t live without this thing or that thing to doing what I can do to improve bicycle safety, and ensure that everyone who sets out on a bike comes back home again. And in one piece.

As a result, I’ve focused most of my efforts on writing this blog, as well as doing what I can as an advocate for bicycle safety, on my own and as a member of the LACBC Board of Directors.

Yet even though it’s become the equivalent of a full time job — plus overtime — it seems like it’s not enough sometimes. Every cycling death or serious injury feels like a failure; every rider run off the road is a reminder of just how far we have to go.

And yes, I do take it personally.

Every meeting I can’t attend, every day I don’t write something for this blog — this past morning, for instance — it feels like I should be doing more, even though it already seems like I’m doing more than I can.

There are others who would agree. And still others who do far more that I do.

But after all these years, it finally feels like I’ve found my calling. Simply put, there’s nothing I would rather do than what I’m doing right now. Even if, three years later, all I have to show for it is a $25 gift card and a pair of bike socks.

Some days, when the bills outweigh the funds on hand and the news and inattentive drivers conspire to remind me just how vulnerable we can be out there, I understand all too well how my father felt, and why.

But I also believe the solution is an inherent part of every problem. And tomorrow is a new day, with opportunities blooming like bougainvilleas if we can just see past the obstacles in our way.

So let’s keep up the fight.

And maybe we’ll finally reach that day when the last bike death will be the last bike death.

“And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.”

……..

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

This Saturday, August 27th, Santa Monica Spoke will answer all your questions about biking in SaMo and the new Draft Bicycle Action Plan at the 10th Street Neighborhood Potluck Block Party from noon to 4 pm on 10th Street between Olympic and Michigan.

Also on Saturday the 27th, the Culver City Bicycle Coalition is hosting their monthly Family Ride starting at 10 am at the Culver Hotel, 9400 Culver Blvd in downtown Culver City. The easy ride will travel from downtown to the annual Fiesta La Ballona, where you’ll find a free bike valet hosted by Palms Cycle and the CCBC.

The Beverly Hills Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee meets from 5 pm to 7 pm on Monday, August 29th at 345 Foothill Road. Cyclists who ride through the biking black hole that is Beverly Hills — or would like to if it was more inviting to cyclists — are urged to attend.

Tuesday, August 30th, Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse will host a benefit for Streetsblog LA from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; a portion of all food and drink purchases will benefit Streetsblog; 2911 Main Street. Events will include a raffle, drink specials and possibly a bike valet.

Flying Pigeon hosts three popular rides each month, starting with the Brewery Ride at 3 pm on Saturday, September 3rd, followed by the Spoke(n)Art Ride at 6 pm Saturday, September 10th and the Get Sum Dim Sum ride at 10 am on Sunday, September 18th. All rides meet at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

On Sunday, September 4th, the LACBC will hold the next monthly Sunday Funday Ride, hosted by LACBC Board President Chet Kostrzewa; the ride starts at 9:30 am at the Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia, 27746 McBean Parkway. Or join the riders at the end of the ride for beer and brunch at Wolf Creek Brewery; a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the LACBC. (Note: an earlier version said the ride started at 11:30; it actually begins at 9:30 and will conclude around 11:30.)

Wednesday, September 7th, Victims Impact Statements will be held in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run in the death of cyclist James Laing; Segal reportedly had a BAC of .26 at the time of the collision. The hearing starts at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way; cyclists are urged to attend wearing bike jerseys, but no shorts are allowed in the courtroom.

Saturday, September 10th, the Santa Monica Spoke hosts the Dinner & Bikes Tour from 7 to 9 pm with leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue, vegan chef Joshua Ploeg and Joe Biel, founder of Microcosm Publishing; tickets are $7 to $20 on a sliding scale, location to be determined.

The 2011 Far West and SCNCA Elite Track Cycling Championships comes to the Encino Velodrome on Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th at 17301 Oxnard Street, at the edge of Balboa Park in Encino. Gates open at 8 am; racing starts at 9 both days.

Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes Tour repeats on Monday, September 12th from 7 pm to 9 pm, this time hosted by the LACBC in the 1st Floor Edison Room of the MALDEF Building, 634 S. Spring Street. This time, the admission is free, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Flying Pigeon LA.

Also on Monday, September 12th, the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils is hosting a town hall meeting with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Felicia Mahood Senior Citizen Center, 11338 West Santa Monica Blvd. Light refreshments start at 6:30, with the Mayor’s presentation & questions and answers from 7 pm to 8:15 pm.

Saturday, September 17th from 8 am to noon, Amigos De Los Rios hosts the easy, family-friendly Healthy El Monte Community Bike Ride at Pioneer Park, 3535 Santa Anita Blvd in El Monte. Register before September 8th and get a free T-Shirt, raffle ticket, lunch and bike bottle; children $5, adults $10.

Also on Saturday the 17th, C.I.C.L.E. LA invites you to join in the Made in L.A. Bicycle Tour from 1 pm to 4 pm starting a the L.A. State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring Street in Downtown L.A. The eight mile family-friendly ride will visit sites including Homeboy Industries, El Pato Factory and the Angel City Brewery.

Head up to Palo Alto on Saturday, September 17 for the Echelon Gran Fondo, with rides of 65, 80 or 95 miles, as well as a fundraising walk, run or ride and A Taste of Palo Alto. The ride benefits Bikes Belong, parent organization of both People for Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The goal is to raise $10,000; if you can’t make the ride, you can still donate and get some cool Bikes Belong swag.

You’re invited to Think Bikes with the Dutch when the General Council of the Netherlands joins with the LACBC and the City of L.A. to present ThinkBike Los Angeles. The public is welcome to the Opening Session from 9 am to 10:30 am on Thursday, September 22nd at the LADOT, 100 South Main Street, and the Closing Session, from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm at LAPD Headquarters, 100 West 1st Street. Preregistration is required for both the Opening and Closing sessions.

Mark your calendar for L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend, as the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat comes to town on Saturday, October 8th, followed by the next CicLAvia on Sunday, October 9th, offering an expanded route taking participants another 3 miles north into Chinatown and south into South L.A.

You’re invited to participate in the Gladiator Rock’n Run at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, October 1st. Not bike related, but at least they’re offering a discount for cyclists; enter code GLADIATORZ10 (all caps) to save $10 on registration.

The LACBC is co-hosting a weekend-long training program for bicycle and pedestrian advocates with the Alliance for Biking and Walking from Friday, October 14th through Sunday, October 16th, 634 S. Spring Street, Suite 821.

The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, October 27th from 6 to 11 pm at CARECEN HQ, 2845 W 7th Street. Tickets will be available for $45 later this year.

Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13th, the Eastside Bike Club hosts the LA Tamale Throwdown at a site to be determined, offering a chance to sample some of the city’s best tamales, coffee and pan Mexicano; bike valet courtesy of Flying Pigeon LA.

And mark your calendar for Sunday, November 13th, when the LACBC unveils a marriage of bikes and food with the 1st annual Tour de Taste in Culver City.

Save a life, right now. In fact, save hundreds.

It’s not every day you get a chance to save a life.

But that’s exactly what you can do in the next few minutes. Without moving from wherever you are right now.

Chances are, you’ll never know when it happens.

It could be a young child who doesn’t get hit by a car on her way to school, thanks to a safe crosswalk on a dangerous intersection. Or one who doesn’t develop diabetes or other obesity-related illnesses because he can to safely ride his bike in his own neighborhood.

Or it could be you, benefitting from the same improvements that help keep countless area children and their parents safe as they walk or bike to and from school.

In fact, the life you save could be virtually anyone, and everyone. And all you have to do is take a few moments right now to endorse the Southern California Regional Platform developed by Safe Routes to School California.

I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t do. In fact, you’ll find me right here, along with other names you may recognize, representing people and groups throughout the area.

They’re out to get 75 endorsements by May15th. Personally, I think we can do a lot better than that. I’d like to see at least 75 endorsements by the end of this week. And a few hundred more by the May 15th deadline.

If even just a fraction of the people who visit this blog every day sign up, we can easily meet that goal. And make a real difference in the health and safety of children and adults throughout Southern California.

So if you bike or walk in Los Angeles — or care about children who do — stop whatever you’re doing and take just a couple minutes to click this link and endorse the Safe Routes to School platform.

Please.

.………

Speaking of Safe Routes to Schools, the Santa Monica chapter says there’s a big, gaping Trench of Doom blocking access for students at Santa Monica High. Evidently, there used to be a pedestrian and bike bridge over the Santa Monica freeway, which — despite what one councilmember recalls — was removed to make room for a new off ramp.

And they want it back.

Although personally, I think a park would be a better option there.

.………

Here’s the next bike book I want to read. Olympic medalist and TdF stage winner Davis Phinney writes about his riding career and battle to overcome Parkinson’s disease, as well as raising a rising pro riding phenom in his son Taylor.

Phinney used to lead rides around Denver and Boulder with his wife, fellow Olympian Connie Carpenter, that I fell in with on more than one occasion. So I like to say I’ve ridden with them — even though he probably never knew I was there at the end of the pack.

He’s also one of the few people I’ve never heard anyone say a single negative word about.

.………

Still no charges in the hit-and-run death of Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman; a sheriff’s spokesman confirms that alcohol may have been a factor, as many people have speculated.

.………

A Topeka, Kansas lawyer has his license suspended after pleading No Contest in the DUI death of a local cyclist. Blood tests showed he had a .12 BAC, as well as marijuana, a “narcotic-like pain reliever” and an antidepressant in his system — and was driving in that state with his own son in his car. It was his 4th DUI since 1989, and third since 2000. Thanks to Stanley Goldich for the heads-up.

.………

Zev talks bikes and trains, or more precisely, bikes on trains. Although rumor has it that Metro’s commitment to put bikes back on trains may not be as strong as they suggest, so Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board’s Operations Committee could turn out to be important.

There also may be some pushback on plans to remove seats to make room for bikes, as well as strollers, shopping and suitcases, all of which can block doorways and turn into projectiles if left in aisles.

.………

If you’re 12 -18, you can earn a bike at Bicycle Kitchen; if you’re too old for that, join the volunteers at Bikerowave. LACBC offers flyers explaining the upcoming road diet on Downtown’s 7th Street. Streetfilms looks back at the recent CicLAvia. Cynergy Cycles is offering an introduction to cycling lecture on Wednesday, and will soon feature a blog of their own. KPCC reports on how to get a bike lane or corral on your street. LADOT Bike Blog examines the long history behind the recently opened Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path. The Source looks forward to next month’s Bike to Work Week. L.A. Creek Freak suggests a visit to the double parentheses of Burbank’s Lake-Providencia Bridge. Bikeside’s Mihai Peteu calls for better — aka separated — bike lanes; Long Beach officially opens theirs on Saturday. The Long Beach City Council takes up the cause of naming the bike paths on the new replacement for the Gerald Desmond bridge for late bike advocate Mark Bixby. Bike and dine at a discount on Earth Day in Long Beach. San Diego magazine looks at the rise of citizen cyclists. The Golden Gate Bridge considers a 10 mph speed limit — and a ban on tall bikes and unicycles. The Art of the Group ride looks at the recent list of bike friendly universities, and concludes that smart people ride bikes.

The Economist says distracted driving is the new drunk driving. Green bikeways finally receive preliminary approval from the Feds. Bicycling interviews cycling actress Monica Raymond of Lie To Me. A woman fantasizes about fighting back when she gets right hooked. Vulnerable user laws gain speed across the country. Apparently, a Portland coffee shop doesn’t love cyclists anymore. Motor-centric Indianapolis will add 33 miles of bike lanes this year alone. A Kentucky jury gets it, as they sentence a drunk driver to 35 years for the death of an 11-year old bike rider. Listen my children and you shall hear of bike routes that follow the midnight ride of Paul Revere. A commenter deftly dismantles the NY Posts latest anti-bike diatribe, while BikeNYC offers photographic proof that the city’s traffic-clogged streets are just a myth, and are actually occupied only by bike riders. Robin Williams gets stopped as part of NYC’s bike crackdown, while talk show host Chelsea Handler reportedly finds dead cyclists amusing. The New York Times discovers Japan’s post-earthquake bike boom. A Virginia campaign urges drivers to be bike friendly. NASCAR driver and cyclist Bobby Labonte is hosting a Share the Road Memorial Ride in North Carolina this weekend to honor fallen cyclists; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads up.

A stabbing victim feels police don’t care, comparing it to reporting a stolen bike; now that hurts. A writer takes the UK’s Automobile Association to task for their recent bike helmet and hi-vis vest handout, rather than focusing on dangerous drivers. London cyclists complain about the city’s ghost bike lanes. Everyone cycles in Antwerp. Pro teams walk out on a meeting with UCI President McQuaid in a dispute over race radios. Plans to remove parking spaces to put in bike lanes have Tel Aviv residents up in arms, who see it as an attempt to turn the city over to the rich; evidently, poor people must not ride bikes in Israel. Pietro Ferrero, CEO of the company that brings you Nutella and Ferrero Rocher died after falling from his bike in South Africa. Philippine cyclists campaign for cleaner air.

Finally, a 72-year old Aussie cyclist says red lights are a bloody hindrance. Maybe he’d like the new brakeless bike from Target, although he may need the Army’s new Kevlar bike shorts if he keeps running them.

It’s not what you wear, it’s how you ride

On her blog Let’s Go Ride a Bike, Dottie writes about the Mary Poppins Effect, saying she failed to experience it on her latest ride after wearing a pantsuit.

For those just catching up, the Mary Poppins Effect is the idea that motorists drive more carefully and politely around women riding in skirts.

Something I have never experienced, needless to say. Though I do have a blue jersey that I’ve learned not to wear without a vest, since it seems to act as a cloak of invisibility to the drivers around me.

If it’s any consolation to Dottie, though, I nearly got run over a few times on Tuesday, and I’m sure it had nothing to do with my attire. More likely, it was due to drivers who weren’t paying attention, or exercising the care required of someone operating such a dangerous vehicle.

Take the blue Mercedes than nearly hit me in Brentwood.

I was riding on a side street, and found myself passing a large panel truck that blocked the view of anything that might be on its other side. As usual in such situations, I moved a little further out into the lane to give myself more room to maneuver in case something unexpected happened.

And sure enough, just as I came around the front of the truck, I glanced to the right and saw a car lurching out at me from a hidden driveway. Fortunately, the extra distance I had added gave me time to swerve out of the way, and gave the driver time to jam on his brakes to avoid me.

I shook it off and just kept riding, grateful that a little extra caution gave me the safety cushion I needed.

So I was surprised when the same car passed me a few minutes later, with the driver pointing his finger at me and shaking his head.

Clearly, he blamed me for what had just happened. Though how I could be responsible for his failure to exit his driveway cautiously when he had no view of oncoming traffic is beyond me.

In fact, the only fault I could have possible born in the situation was simply exercising my right to be on the street. But I’ve long ago learned that doing everything right doesn’t keep those who don’t from assessing blame.

Then there was the woman on Ocean in Santa Monica who right hooked me, cutting over to make her turn without checking to see if there was anyone else there.

So I quickly turned along with her, making an unplanned right to avoid smashing into the side of her car.

I was tempted to say something. But when I looked in her car, I saw two young women pouring over maps and searching out landmarks while they drove, and it quickly became clear that they were a couple of tourists, and would just say they never saw me.

And anything I might add after that would be wasted breath.

Here’s the thing, though.

It would be easy to look at close calls like that as confirmation of the common perception that cycling is just too dangerous.

But the truth is, in both cases, it only took a modicum of caution on my part to keep me safe. Because I was prepared for something unexpected, I was able to respond to both instances — and a handful of others that took place before I got home — making them nothing more than minor irritations on an otherwise pleasant ride.

In fact, none were enough to stir my anger for more than a few passing moments. And as Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious points out, those were just a handful of negative incidents, compared to the tens of thousands of interactions with motorists in which nothing bad happened.

Whether cycling is safe or dangerous doesn’t depend on what you wear, or whether drivers are distracted, or the position of the sun and moon in your astrological charts.

It all depends on the cyclist, and the skills you bring to your ride.

If you ride carelessly or obliviously to the risks, or take chances that push the limits of safety, then yes, bicycling can be a very dangerous activity. And you can easily fall victim to the first texting, arguing, sight-seeing distracted driver who comes along.

But if you ride carefully and defensively, chances are, you’ll avoid the dangers. And enjoy a safe, healthy and happy ride — and years of safe riding to come.

Yes, that does mean stopping for red lights, signaling and observing the right-of way.

It’s true that some things can’t be avoided. But you can say that about anything in life whether you’re riding a bike, driving your car or sitting on your couch.

As proof, I can only offer my own experience.

In 30-some odd years of riding, the only time I’ve felt the painful bite of a car was when I forgot the cardinal rule of never flipping off the driver behind you. And in response, the woman behind me gladly plowed her car into the back of my bike.

Yes, I have had a lot of close calls over the years.

But a little care, a little caution — and a little discretion with words and gestures — is usually all it takes to stay safe.

.………

The League of American Bicyclists offers stats comparing Federal spending for bikes compared with bike-related sales data on a district level; not surprisingly, retail revenue matches or exceeds Federal investment in almost every case.

.………

The Northridge South Neighborhood Council unanimously votes to support completion of the Reseda Blvd bike lanes — the same lanes that nearly were written off for peak hour traffic lanes in a blindside attack two years ago. The Times chooses one of Mikey Wally’s typical exceptional bike photos as their Southern California Moment of the Day. LADOT Bike Blog points out several important upcoming meetings and bike events; Bikeside urges all to join them at the BPIT meeting April 5th. LACBC says the citywide Safe Routes to School plan needs your help on Friday. Travelin’ Local offers stats showing that L.A. bike collisions are on the rise. Burbank’s Magnolia Avenue shopping district plans a bike themed evening this Saturday. Santa Monica Spoke reminds you about this weekend’s Sunday Funday ride; I’ll be there myself, so come join the fun. Highway 1 in Big Sur is sort of reopen for bike and pedestrian traffic following a recent landslide. San Francisco’s Market Street gets its first green bike boxes. The makers of Clif Bars have opened Vino Velo Napa Valley, a bike-themed wine tasting room; cabernet and pinot Clif Bars are sure to follow.

Lovely Bicycle is giving away a free Superba bike to a woman in need; maybe even you? Commute by Bike calls the Brompton the Sex Pistols of folding bikes; Long Beach’s biking expats seem to like theirs. Crate and Barrel’s CB2 stores now sell Dutch Bikes. Bicycling asks if Livestrong can live on without Lance. Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong and People for Bikes shares 12 trends that will help biking grow in the coming years. A writer calls on bike-friendly Boulder CO to maintain a ban on mountain bikes in one area. The Purdue chapter of my old fraternity is staging a 72-hour bike-a-thon to raise funds for a member suffering from cancer. New York finally fights back against misinformation about the city’s bike lanes. Zeke designs his own bike cap; you can order yours for $20.

Next year could see an 18,000 mile around the world bike race. A UK man faces manslaughter charges in the death of a former 100-mile time trial champion. A Brit engineering apprentice will be coming to L.A. in May to compete with 1,600 other students thanks to a bike helmet she developed to help cyclists make their presence and intentions known. The UK proposes longer trailers on trucks in order to kill more cyclists cut carbon emissions. The organizer of the Tour de France is staging an amateur version of the famed Paris – Roubaix race next month. Not only is a 91-year old New Zealand man one of the world’s oldest active two-wheel riders, he also has a sponsor.

Finally, cyclists don’t need traffic calming devices, we are traffic calming devices.

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