Tag Archive for bicycling infrastructure

One of L.A. County’s most dangerous streets gets a little safer with buffered new bike lanes on Fiji Way

Just quick update on last week’s item about pending bike lanes on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey.

A ride down to the South Bay yesterday morning showed that nothing had been done on the street beyond the preliminary markings that had gone down earlier.

Yet by the time I rode back a few hours and many miles later, the street had been transformed into, if not a cyclists’ paradise, a much safer and more inviting connection between the Santa Monica and South Bay bike trails.

And turned what has been one of the area’s busiest — and most dangerous — bicycling thoroughfares into something that promises to be significantly safer.

As you can see from the video, a bike lane has been installed on the west/southbound side of the roadway, and the much hated, and probably illegal restriction to ride single file — which is unsupported by anything in California law — has been painted over.

Moving down to the turnaround at the end of the street, near the connection to the Ballona Creek bikeway, the road narrows to a single lane, with painted separators keeping motorists away from riders. And hopefully, reducing the risk of right hook collisions.

Continuing around the turnaround to the north/eastbound side of the street reveals a road diet for most of its length to Admiralty Way.

It was unclear yesterday whether the reduced roadway was being striped for a buffered bike lane, or if the county was planning to allow curbside parking, which had previously been banned, with door-zone bike lane alongside.

But a quick conversation with a member of the county road crew confirmed that cyclists will now enjoy a wide curbside bike lane with a comfortable buffer to the left — separating riders from the high speed, and often confused, drivers who have traditionally frequented the area. And that work on re-striping the street should be finished today.

Fiji Way has long been the missing link in the Marvin Braude bike trail, the name given the full length of the bikeway connection Palos Verdes with Pacific Palisades

As well as one of the most dangerous streets for cyclists, with multiple near-daily collisions as drivers entered or exited driveways without looking for riders first — like this one. Or brushed past or rear-ended riders on the previously unmarked street.

This should go a long way towards reducing those collisions, making what had been a needlessly risky ride much safer.

And it’s a high-profile improvement that shows the county may really be committed to improving conditions for cyclists.

A meditation on moving, bike lanes and expectations

I’m back, after what can only be described as the move from hell.

A move in which nothing went horribly, irretrievably wrong. But in which nearly everything was more challenging, problematic, expensive or just plain aggravating than anticipated.

Even now, what is, in theory at least, my office remains more reminiscent of the aftermath of the ’94 earthquake than any functional working space I’ve ever encountered. Everything that didn’t fit anywhere else is piled there, along with everything that’s supposed to be there.

And trust me, that’s a lot of stuff. At this rate, I expect to finally excavate my desk sometime in mid-March.

The first night was the hardest, though.

Aside from all the problems we anticipated — like not knowing what box something we needed might be packed away in — it seemed lit nothing fit where it was supposed to.

Naively, perhaps, we assumed that everything we moved from the old place would find a corresponding space in the new one. But our new apartment, while about the same size, was arranged differently. And the things that had fit perfectly there didn’t necessarily fit here.

Or at least, didn’t fit the same way.

It wasn’t that there’s anything wrong with it. It was just very different.

And even though we went to bed that night thinking we’d made a big mistake, the only error we really made was failing to adjust our expectations.

Sort of like the way some people react when bike lanes unexpectedly appear on their streets.

Take the controversy that has developed in New York City over the rapid expansion of the city’s bikeway network, particularly over Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West and Father Capodanno Blvd in Staten Island.

Or attempts to make Washington DC more bike friendly, including new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, that elicited a backlash from groups and individuals as varied as ESPN’s Tony Korneiser and the East Coast branch of AAA.

Or even right here in Los Angeles, where a road diet on the Valley’s Wilbur Avenue had council members, drivers and the local media up in arms — even though people who actually live in the area seem to like it.

Because, you see, it just wasn’t what they expected.

Many people have gotten used to roadways dedicated solely to motor vehicles. And don’t necessarily welcome the intrusion of bikes on their streets.

In their minds, reducing the number of lanes, narrowing them or taking out parking spaces meant the streets were less safe than they were before — even though that usually calms speeding traffic and results in safer streets. And in some cases, actually forces drivers to get out of their cars and walk a bit.

The horror, huh?

To some, it represents a war on cars. As if traffic planning was a zero-sum game in which motorists must lose something for every step forward for anyone else.

Never mind that drivers gain as cyclists slowly replace other cars on the streets, reducing congestion and ultimately speeding their commutes. And that well-designed cycling infrastructure gets us out of the way of impatient drivers by moving bikes out of the shared right lane.

Meanwhile, the backlash goes on, with at least one member of the media doing his best imitation of the yellow journalism of the robber baron era, up in arms that bike lanes got plowed before some streets. Or maybe not. And describing the Prospect Park West bike lanes as “widely detested,” with no objective figures to back it up — and despite evidence that those lanes are “widely detested” by a just a small minority of very vocal people.

At least the DC press is smart enough not to fall for  that sort of crap.

Yet despite what some people insist, it’s not reckless cyclists who pose a risk to life and limb.

Then there are those who consider all things bike-related to be part of a liberal conspiracy to force people out of their cars, and in their deeply clouded minds, that’s reason enough to halt even the most basic of bike plans.

And no, they’re not all failed Colorado gubernatorial candidates.

If they gave them a chance, they might find that bike lanes and other bicycle infrastructure can actually increase traffic safety, enhance local neighborhoods and improve their own quality of life.

Quite an accomplishment for just a few inches of white paint.

And like my wife and I, they may realize that it may not be what they’re used to. But with a little time, and a little effort, they may actually get used to it.

Or even like it, just a little.

.………

Then again, not all bikeways are improvements.

Consider this recent email from Rex Reese, in response to a link about a proposed Bakersfield bike path that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.

I sincerely believe the honor of Bike Path to Nowhere belongs to the metropolis of Trona, which is a small hell hole located on the shores of Searles Dry Lake, between Ridgecrest and Death Valley — literally The Middle of Nowhere. It’s very, very hot in the summer, very cold during winter, and smells like shit all year ’round because of the chemicals and powdered mineral dust that blows off the dry lake.

The path sorta starts maybe a quarter mile outside of town, parallels Trona Road, and sorta ends at East Outer Trona Road and Center Street a mile or so later. It’s separated by a narrow strip of dirt which qualifies it as a Class I Bike Path, right? And it’s got markings and everything. I can’t imagine who uses it or how it got funded — maybe done as a favor to the town warlord.

It’s barely not worth the drive to check out, but you can see it if you look it up on Google Maps.

With a description like that, I may just have to drive up there sometime just to give it a ride. If I can just figure out where the hell Trona is.

.………

A reader from Boston writes to ask for a recommendation on where to rent a bike in Anaheim when he comes out to visit next week. He’s used to a fixie conversion or older steel road bike, but open to anything practical for riding the mean streets of OC. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments or email me; you can find my address on the About BikingInLA page.

.………

Santa Monica’s Parks and Rec Commissioner is pushing to make the beachfront Marvin Bruade Bike Path a little safer; I’ll have something on that same subject later this week. The LACBC’s Valley Pride Ride is rescheduled for next weekend, after getting washed out on Sunday. KPCC looks at the upcoming Streetsblog event in Pasadena. Bikeside offers advice on gearing up for a cold wet winter, while Flying Pigeon offers much simpler advice for riding in rain and snow. The Times looks at efforts to lift the ban on mountain bikes on L.A. trails.  Will offers a video look at off-roading on the Beaudry Trails loop. A look at the upcoming South Bay Bike Plan. Long Beach cyclists fight back against regressive policies in America’s self-proclaimed “most bike friendly city.” Carlsbad police are looking for information on how a cyclist found lying injured in the street got that way, while a Ventura man is injured after losing control of his bike on a 30 mph descent; thanks to DC for the second link.

Elly Blue looks forward to the year in bikes, including predictions for an even bigger backlash. Forget peak oil, we may have already hit peak travel. Cleaning bike water bottles the easy way. Washington considers a three foot passing law when traveling under 35 mph, and five foot over 35; the local paper insists on framing it as a battle of car vs bike. A suggestion to combine bike lanes with right turn-only lanes. It only took three days for the country’s most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians to register its first bike death of the new year.

The secrets of riding in a group. The UK’s acclaimed Bikeability program may be saved from government cutbacks after all. Town Mouse touts the new Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. Road.cc offers their 2011 predictions, including copper-plated bikes and Andy Schleck winning the Tour twice in a single year. A Ugandan candidate rides his bike to win votes. Movistar racer Andrey Amador is beaten and robbed by thieves out for his Pinarella Dogma with the new electronic Campy shifters.

Finally, cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney visits the beach, offering his view of a Santa Monica sunset and a 360° view from the bike path; you can follow his stay in SoCal on Twitter @taylorphinney.

Charges finally filed in the death of Jorge Alvarado; revised bike plan released

Bahati rider Jorge Alvarado, from the VeloNews forum

Two months after pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado was killed by a street racing teenager, two of the three drivers involved have been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 18-year old high school seniors Brett Morin and Patrick Roraff were racing when Roraff lost control of his car and hit the cyclist.

“Individually, their driving behavior may not have resulted in the tragedy that occurred,” Supervising Deputy District Attorney Vic Stull said Friday, “but combined, it was just almost vehicular Russian roulette — way beyond what anybody would see as reasonable conduct.”

The Contra Costa Times — which lists Morin’s age as 20, rather than 18 — says that Roraff was travelling in excess of 70 mph at the time of the collision.

“You can call it street racing, you can call it negligent driving – what they were doing depends on your point of view,” prosecutor Vic Stull said Friday. “We don’t have to prove they were racing to have a jury find them liable for the death. They were driving very fast, they were driving very dangerously. For us, that’s sufficient.”

A story in the Highland Community News — which describes the events in more detail than you may want — says three cars were involved after the drivers and passengers skipped school to go “hang out.” According to the paper, the events leading to Alvarado’s death began when Morin moved left to keep Roraff from passing, causing the second car to swerve right, lose control and skid across the left shoulder where Alvarado was riding.

The Community News reports that Roraff apologized to the victim’s family, and told investigators:

“I feel so stupid for even doing that, like trying to show off and trying to be – just stupid. I don’t know why I would do that. It’s just like – I wish I could go back and just change everything, but I can’t. I feel so – I just want to say sorry to the family. I can’t believe I took away a life.” Roraff had a promising soccer (sic) and was hoping to go to college on a soccer scholarship.

At the scene, he was reported saying, “There goes my life. There goes my soccer career.”

No reason was given why there were no charges against the third driver, or why prosecutors did not charge the drivers with murder, which the Contra Costa Times suggests the Sheriff’s Department had recommended. However, they note that investigators are still looking into whether others may have contributed to Alvarado’s death in some way.

………

KCBS Channel 2/KCAL 9 reports on the bicyclist injured in a collision with a Sheriff’s Department vehicle in the aftermath of the Lakers’ victory Thursday night. Evidently, the rider was going east on 11th at an estimated 11 mph, with the police cruiser headed north on Flower at slow speed when the cyclist hit car and was thrown into air. (Unfortunately, coverage of the collision is merged with the other reports from Downtown; it should be the third story after you push play. Thanks to David for the link.)

The Times indicates the collision occurred at 9:18 pm as the Sheriff’s vehicle was stationary, while L.A. Rider questions whether it was the same cyclist he witnessed riding the wrong way on 9th while talking on a cell phone.

And somehow, this one missed the radar, as L.A. Creek Freak discovers a shrine to a dead father along the L.A. River Bike Path in Cudahy; no mention of whether he was walking or biking, or if it actually occurred on the bike path; there are no news reports that I can find.

………

It’s almost summer, and infrastructure seems to be in full bloom.

Eco-Village reports that the rare painted bike lane has taken root on San Pedro Street adjacent to the 105 Freeway in South L.A. LADOT Bike Blog confirms the sighting, as well as confirming that we weren’t hallucinating and there really are new sharrows on Fourth Street.

And as promised, the revised bike plan was released on Friday; I’ve already downloaded my copy. Bikeside’s Alex Thompson notes that the new draft marks a 180° reversal from the much reviled previous draft.

As he wisely points out, we’re under no obligation to accept or support this or any other plan. If LADOT delivers a great new bike plan, we should back it; if not, then we can and should reject it. We should also take full advantage of the comment period make sure we end up with the best possible plan for the streets of L.A.

………

In weekend riding news, unfortunately, it’s too late to join in on Streetsblog’s Friday fundraising ride through NELA; though I’m sure Damien wouldn’t mind if you still wanted to send in a few bucks.

Click to enlarge

Saturday marks the long awaited Folk Art Is Everywhere Bike Tour, offering an easy 3.5 mile art ride with several stops at shops and galleries in Echo Park and historic Filipinotown — perfect for beginning or occasional riders, or anyone who just enjoys art and good company.

Sunday, Dorothy Le of the LACBC hosts a Los Angeles Bike Tour through the bridges of L.A.

………

Slovenian rider Jure Robic won this year’s Race Across America on Friday for a record 5th time, covering the course from coast to coast in nine days, 61 minutes.

Robert Gesink holds onto the leader’s jersey in the Tour of Switzerland, with Lance Armstrong in striking distance less than one minute back. Bicycling looks at the real reasons Lance’s new team was snubbed by the Vuelta.

………

Gary reports that Santa Monica has set aside $25,000 for bicycle education, what form it will take is still to be determined; if you’re not familiar with Gary Rides Bikes, check it out for intelligent insights on bicycle issues. Biking cross country on the Yellowstone Trail. Dave Moulton offers his objections to Critical Mass. Yet another radio jock spews a violent anti-bike rant, while cyclists call for his firing; maybe he just wants Lance to appear on his show. Tips on how to trigger a traffic light sensor. A Tucson man removes graffiti by bike. A Baltimore columnist calls for adopting the Idaho stop and says bicyclists to wear helmets and slow down in the door zone. The first London bike share station goes up. The Guardian looks at the Black Hawk bike ban, as well as the joys of night riding — something I rediscovered myself just the other night. An Aussie cyclist plans a ghost bike for his fallen friend, only to discover one already on the site.

Finally, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry as the International Cycling Union (UCI) announces that all bikes used in this year’s Tour de France will be scanned for illegal motors.

Open Source bike mapping; ranking the top US and UK bike-friendly cities

Following up on last week’s post on mapping whether the L.A. areas bikeways actually exist in ridable condition, Tony writes in with a suggestion on how we could accomplish that on a DIY basis.

Have you thought of using the OpenStreetMap based OpenCycleMap and getting everyone to contribute their local data to build a map collectively as a community project? It looks like someone has already put in a few cycle paths and lanes for LA. (Ed. note: enter Los Angeles CA in the search window at lower left to get a usable map)

Scoot the map over to the UK to see what a cycling community working together can produce.

You can even make route planners from it such as this one from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign

I have to admit, that London map looks pretty damned impressive. And while I haven’t tried it yet, the route planner couldn’t work any worse than Google’s new bike route feature does right now.

………

Bicycling Magazine names its Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities; the only SoCal city to make the list is Long Beach, at #23. Oddly, Portland is only #2, behind Minneapolis. The rest of the top 10 include Boulder CO at #3, followed by Seattle, Eugene OR, San Francisco, Madison WI, Janette Sadik-Khan’s New York, Tucson AZ, and Chicago.

Meanwhile, Bristol tops the UK’s list of top 20 bike-friendly cities, while Belfast lags behind at #12. London, which has recently seen a rash of biking deaths, lags even farther behind at #17, but at least they beat Glascow.

………

GOOD says well done whoever you are, for L.A.’s latest DIY bike signs. L.A. can’t seem to keep a dangerous pothole on the proposed 4th Street Bike Boulevard paved despite several crashes. LADOT says where you park your bike and what you lock it to matters. A Palm Desert driver says local cyclists area a danger to themselves; oddly, most cyclists tend to think that cars and trucks are the real danger.

Green LA Girl visits the newly bike and pedestrian – friendly plazas on New York’s Great White Way. A Washington city suggests a $25 per car fee to pay for sidewalks and bike lanes. A fire hydrant in the middle of a bike path seems like a problem. On a twist on bike sharing, low-income Minneapolis residents will soon be able to borrow a bike on long-term loan. A 17-year old Albany cyclist suffers minor injuries in an apparently intentional vehicular assault. This Wednesday marks the beginning of Circle Zydeco, a four-day tour through the Cajun food, music and bayous of Louisiana’s Acadiana region. Is the new belt-drive Trek District Carbon the ultimate road-going singlespeed?

Fabian Cancellara leaves Boonen — and Lance — in his wake to win the Tour of Flanders. Riding through parts of Cape Town is like driving through a war zone. Cardiff, Wales explains why they spent the equivalent of $3,000 to paint an 8 foot bike lane. A London newspaper catches a fourth Conservative politician breaking bike laws. In a rare attack of common sense following the death of a cyclist, a British county considers banning the large trucks that can kill people, rather than their potential victims bikes, who don’t. An Irish cyclist is killed by his own stalled car in a bizarre collision as he rode back to restart it. An Aussie cyclist rescues the driver of a sinking car from drowning. An Australian woman is seriously injured in an intentional assault after two men push her off her bike from a passing car, while a Chamber of Commerce group pushes for cyclist licensing and registration; frankly, it doesn’t sound like the riders are the problem.

Finally, a cyclist riding home from work through Boyle Heights witnesses the Crucifixion. Yes, that one.

Do L.A’s bikeways exist where they’re supposed to — and are they actually ridable?

Some of the most interesting ideas pop up in my inbox.

Those broken lines mean dodging traffic once the bike lane ends.

For instance, a rider named Noah emailed me last month asking about the stop and start nature of the city’s bike lanes — something virtually every rider in the city has complained at one time or another.

I wanted to raise a quick issue about bike lanes.  The city has a document online that purports to inventory Bike Plan Designated Class II bike lanes — I am not sure if this is the 1996 plan, if it is an inventory of proposed bike lanes or what it is .  . . but I used it to plot a route home on Monday and did not find bike lanes where I had hoped (based on the list) to find them.  For example, the document lists a lane on Devonshire from Topanga Canyon to Woodman — there was some bike lane in that area, but it was not continuous, and I was forced to ride in traffic (on a heavily traveled street) for part of the ride.  Same thing on Woodman itself, and on Laurel Canyon — a lane is listed from Roscoe to Moorpark . . .  Perhaps I am reading this wrong, perhaps these are planned lanes, but if these are supposed to be existing lanes (and if the claim is that we don’t need more lanes because we already have all these wonderful lanes) then someone (LACBC? volunteers through your blog?) should go an do an independent audit of the actual existing lanes in LA . . .

Part of the problem stems from turning to the wrong source for information. Which is actually easy to do, since searching for online biking information in Los Angeles can be a confusing process, leading to as many wrong turns and dead ends as the routes themselves.

A better source for planning a route is Metro’s L.A. bike map, which — unlike LADOT’s map, which seems to assume you do all your riding within the city of Los Angeles — crosses city limit lines to show a complete picture of local Class I, Class II and the generally useless and often dangerous Class III routes.

But don’t be surprised if your browser crashes; you’re better off downloading it to your desktop and using your pdf software to view it.

A quick look confirms that the route Noah used stops and starts without offering any alternative other than dumping the rider into often heavy traffic on busy Valley boulevards.

Someone who’s comfortable taking the lane in traffic might not think twice about it — though there’s no guarantee that the drivers you’re sharing the road with would understand the concept. And someone who knows the local area might use an alternative route to bypass the areas that lack the magical few inches of paint that are somehow supposed to create a virtually impermeable barrier to vehicular traffic.

Not that some drivers understand that, either.

But even if you map out your complete route using the best maps available — or try plotting your way with Google’s promising but buggy biking directions — it won’t tell you anything about traffic conditions, signalization or what hills you might face along your way. And if you knew those things, you wouldn’t need a map to begin with.

So you plot out the best route you can plan, only to end up dodging buses or riding jackhammer streets that jostle your internal organs to the point that you fear a kidney or bowel could pop loose any moment.

And those are the good streets.

Then there are others where the bike lanes and paths are so cracked and broken as to be virtually unridable on a skinny-tired bike. Or barely even exist anymore.

Of course, the obvious solution would be to require that LADOT and similar transportation departments in other cities ride these routes on a regular basis to monitor the conditions riders face. And report back for anything that needs repair or improvement.

But with the current budget issues, and the 40% cut in staffing that LADOT’s Bikeways department has reportedly suffered, that’s just not going to happen. Even if it did somehow manage to make their radar.

So as Noah suggested, it’s up to us.

We ride these streets everyday. No one has a better idea whether a line on a map actually translates to a ridable bikeway. Or if it actually exists in what passes for the real world around these parts.

I’ve suggested some sort of bikeway survey as a project the LACBC might want to take on, and I’ll bring it up again as time goes on — maybe in conjunction with the deep pockets at the newly bike-friendly Metro. Maybe it’s a project L.A.’s Bicycle Advisory Committee might want to consider. Or it could be something Bikeside might do as a natural outgrowth of their current efforts to map collisions, near misses and harassment — after all, those are places you might want to avoid, as well.

Or just email me — biking in la at hotmail dot com — and I’ll track things on my own until we have a better system for it.

And I’ll mention the worst areas on here, so you can plan a route to avoid them.

Because if we don’t do it, it’s pretty clear no one else will.

You can find links to most of the area’s bike maps on at the LADOT and LACBC (scroll down) websites. And thanks for the reminder from Timur that you find some fully vetted bike routes on his excellent, though recently neglected site; other local cyclist-designed routes are available at MapMyRide.

And after wishing everyone a happy Passover the other day, how could I have forgotten to wish the rest of you a happy Easter? Whatever you believe, best wishes this weekend. And for those of you with children, do not — repeat, do not — eat the ears off their chocolate bunnies.

That’s just so wrong.

………

Oddly, when I take a day off to attend to other matters — like earning a living, for instance — the stories still keep coming. So settle in for a long list o’links.

………

A San Francisco cop in an unmarked police car threatens a cyclist, saying “Shut your fucking mouth or I’ll knock you off your bike.” Meanwhile, a New York cyclist gets doored — which is against the law in New York, just like it is here — and police respond by ticketing the cyclist for not having a bell and wheel reflectors.

………

One of L.A.’s best biking routes reopens after repairs due to rain damage. Dr. Alex rips LADOT’s new bike blog, and suggest that Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery fall on her sword. Will offers an exceptionally artistic photo of his bike, ad look who rolls through a stop into the path of his unblinking bike cam.  A Santa Monica writer and actor says the city could do a lot more to promote cycling. A Downtown street gets a mini-road diet, but oddly, no bike lanes. Gary argues that cyclists spend a lot of money in Santa Monica, so where is our bike parking? L.A.’s Anonymous Cyclist offers the story of a biking detention at LAX, and yes, one should bear yesterday’s date in mind. The 2.5 mile, LED-lit Elysian Valley Bike Path along the L.A. River Bike is coming soon, really. The Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association will hold its 21st annual Save the Trails pancake breakfast on Sunday, April 25th. Don’t forget Bike Night at the Hammer — featuring Pee Wee’s Big Adventure — April 8th. GOOD offers a video look at the Wolfpack Hustle’s roll through the L.A. Marathon course.

The California Bike Coalition pushes a vulnerable user law to protect all at risk road users. Mark Cavendish decides to break in his new dental work on the Tour of California, rather than the tougher Giro. NPR finds a grave problem with Google Bike Maps, literally. Is a bike a toy or a vehicle — or a device, as it’s defined here. Streetfilms looks at DC’s first Contraflow Cycle Track, while Portland releases a video explaining cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. Consider the Better World Club sort of an auto club for bikes. Five cyclists win a $97,751 settlement in a 2007 New York Critical Mass excessive force and wrongful arrest case in which the arresting officer was caught lying under oath. Portland cyclists are asked to help get a road rage victim back on a bike. The New York Times asks what is bike culture? A Brooklyn cyclist cited for riding outside the bike lane in a police sting fought the law, and for once, the law didn’t win. A Holland, Michigan driver encounters a cyclist riding in the center of the lane on a multi-lane road “going about 5 mph” in a 45 mile zone, and despite honking several times, the bastard just wouldn’t get out of his way. Florida cyclists threaten legal action if bike lanes aren’t included in a major resurfacing project.

A team of Brit rowers teams up to compete in this year’s RAAM. A Royal Mail carrier says please don’t take my bike away. Constables charge a Leicestershire cyclist with murder following the death of a cyclist this week; British press restrictions mean no explanation for why he was charged. Get your bespoke Tweed Ride togs here. Finally, a bike lane even shorter than the one in Westwood.

Finally, take your pick:

1) A Team Sky cyclist lost the lead in the Tour of Oman due to a bizarre pre-planned pee experiment. 2) London’s biking mayor chases down a driver who threw something at his head; oddly, the press reports it as litter rather than an assault, while the driver responded, “Please Mr. Boris sir, this wasn’t meant to happen. We know you is the Mayor, man.” 3) Pearl Izumi tests their new chamois on Uranus.

Today’s post, in which I consider my attitude

Let’s talk about negativity. Mine, in particular.

You see, during the panel I was on at last week’s Bike Summit, I mentioned that one of the many reasons I’d started this blog was that I was concerned — okay, pissed off — about the state of cycling in Los Angeles. And said that this is, with the possible exception of 1980’s era Louisiana, the worst city in which I’ve ridden.

Then someone asked if I thought that cycling had gotten better or worse in my 30 years of riding — and here in L.A. over my near two-decades of residence, in particular.

My response was, worse. Much, much worse, in fact.

And it’s true.

Once I learned to avoid busy streets unsuitable for cycling — and to never, ever ride after an LSU home game, when the risk of being intentionally run off the road by drunken frat boys increased exponentially — Louisiana really wasn’t that bad. There were lots of quiet side streets perfect for cycling, and the River Road along the levee was wide, flat and virtually car free. And cyclists were enough of an anomaly in those days that drivers usually gave us a wide berth.

Every other city I’ve passed through or called home, for whatever reason or length of time, had a system of cycling infrastructure far superior to present day L.A. Even San Diego, circa mid-‘80s, had a better system of Class 1 and Class 2 bikeways (off-road paths and on-road lanes) than L.A. does today.

And in many ways, L.A.’s bikeways are in worse shape than they were 10 years ago, as crumbling asphalt, increased traffic and lax enforcement of bikeway restrictions take their toll.

Another thing that’s changed over the last 10 years is the willingness of local drivers to share the road. And in case you’re unsure where this is going, I’m not suggesting that it’s gotten better.

Maybe it’s the fact that traffic here on the Westside is significantly heavier than it once was. Maybe it’s the added stress everyone is under these days. It could be the distractions to drivers offered by the proliferation of cell phones, iPods and PDAs.

Or it could be the simple fact that L.A.’s understaffed police force, combined with an increasing population and shifting departmental priorities, means there aren’t enough officers on the streets to enforce traffic laws. As a result, local drivers seem to feel free to do whatever strikes their fancy, legal — or safe — or not.

And whether or not there’s a cyclist in their way.

So if that sounds negative, I’m sorry. That’s just my experience, from my perspective.

On the other hand, it’s not all bad.

Things actually seem to have gotten better over the past year. There seems to be less tension on the roads today than there was just a year ago. Maybe the Mandeville Canyon incident has made drivers rethink their attitudes.

Or maybe we’re all just trying a little harder to get along.

Then there’s the fact that even a bad day on the bike is better than just about anything else I might be doing. And for every negative moment on the road, there are a thousand moments that make it all worth while.

Some people at the forum thought that it was wrong to focus on the negatives. They felt that too much negativity might discourage people from riding.

And they have a point.

This sport needs its evangelists. We need people who will encourage beginners, and help them get the skills they need to start on a long, safe and rewarding riding career.

But we also need to talk about the wrongs we see and experience on the road. The things that can, and should, be changed, so that the people who start riding today will experience a better, safer and more bike friendly city than we did yesterday.

Because we owe them that.

 

One of my fellow panelists says it’s time to become a more considerate cyclist. According to Streetsblog, cyclists may finally be getting some respect in Washington. An economics professor at Oregon State University says instead of taxing cyclists, they should pay us to ride. An off-duty police officer in Tucson was killed when his bike was struck from behind in broad daylight; as usual, the driver was not cited. And also as usual, it doesn’t take long for the anti-cyclist rants to start. Another cyclist, also run down by a pickup truck, credits his survival to wearing a helmet; while this site suggest that learning how not to get hit in the first place is an even smarter option. Evidently, I’m not the only rider who complains about iPods on the bike paths. And finally, L.A. Magazine has added a postscript to their description of Los Angeles’ Bike Culture, discussing the role we cyclists may have played in influencing the outcome of last week’s primary election.

 

%d bloggers like this: