Tag Archive for bike politics

The 30 mph LAPD fail, Sunday’s CicLAvia and L.A. bike politics from the 1890’s

A few quick — or maybe not so quick — updates on the ever-changing Susanna Schick/Pinkyracer case before we move on to other matters.

Schick’s friend Jennifer Beatty offers an update on her condition, along with the off-and-ongoing investigation on her ChipIn page, which is now up to nearly over $6000; seriously, you guys rock.

KPCC’s always excellent Patt Morrison interviews LAPD Chief Beck, asks him about the case and gets exactly the sort of non-specific answer you’d expect. But hats off to Patt for asking the question.

Meanwhile, KCRW’s Warren Olney discusses hit-and-run and the Pinkyracer case with Don Ward, aka Roadblock, and LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer; thanks to Mike for the heads-up.

Mike also sends word that police say Susanna Schick told them she was travelling at 18 mph before she fell; fast enough to get hurt, but hardly enough to account for her extensive injuries. Schick, who is now communicating online, confirmed on Twitter that her bike computer showed she was travelling at 18 mph just before the fall.

Or at least, that’s what they said to MSNBC.

The police officers who claimed to be following her — and who assisted her after they say she fell on her own with no provocation — insist she was riding at 30 miles per hour, according to KNBC-4.

That’s quite a speed differential.

Yes, a fall at 30 mph could very well result in the injuries she suffered. Only problem is, a top pro cyclist would have a hard time accelerating from a full stop to 30 mph on level ground in a few hundred feet. And no one has suggested that Schick was engaged in a mad sprint away from the light.

The mere fact that police investigators would believe she fell at 18 mph and suffered such severe injuries — or that she miraculously managed to hit 30 mph in such a short distance — demonstrates just how desperately traffic investigators need specialized training in bike collisions.

The MSNBC story that Mike referred to also says Schick was riding without lights and reflectors, which could help explain why the driver cut into the bike lane while she was in it. However, Schick has said she was at least using a rear blinkie, which the police should have seen.

And which seems to be visible — to people with better eyesight than I have these days, at least — in security footage posted online Thursday by the L.A. Times.

The pair of videos show a car exiting a parking garage on the 200 block of South Spring Street shortly before midnight, then what looks to be the same car swinging into the bike lane on Spring, barely missing a cyclist riding in the lane.

By barely, I mean it looks to be by inches, though camera angles can be deceiving.

Any cop who witnessed that and failed to stop the driver needs some serious retraining. Which doesn’t even come close to what I really want to say right now.

And after initially suggesting that Schick may have been drinking, LAPD Lt. Vernon now says there’s no evidence that alcohol played a roll in the incident.

It would be nice if he said that in the form of a public apology after so publicly smearing her.

He also says he examined the bike on Thursday, but didn’t see any sign of damage. But doesn’t mention who let him in, since the victim is in the hospital and her friend didn’t do it.

Then again, the police also said there was no damage to my bike after I was the victim of a road rage attack, even though I had to walk it two miles home because it wasn’t in ridable condition.

There’s that little matter of better police training in bike collision investigations again.

Meanwhile, LAist offers a great comment from Gary Kavanagh about the improbability of Susanna Schick suffering her injuries in a solo fall. As well as one from someone who witnessed the immediate aftermath of Schick’s fall, if not the fall itself or what caused it.

One more thing.

I’ve heard from a reliable source that police detectives have collected security camera footage from a building at 5th and Spring, which I’m told offers a clear view of the intersection in question.

So maybe, just maybe, we might actually find out what really happened last Friday night.

………

This weekend’s CicLAvia allows Angelenos to experience our city in a whole different way; and yes, it matters. Zev says it’s time to slow down, get off your bike and smell the CicLAvia. There will be a number of Westside feeder rides headed to the event, including rides from the Bikerowave and back again, too. LACBC offers tips for safe and happy riding this Sunday.

My advice?

Remember CicLAvia isn’t a Gran Fondo, it’s a moving street fest. And it belongs to every Angeleno and visitor willing to spend their Sunday without a motor, bike riders, pedestrians and skaters, older walkers in walkers and toddlers in tiaras. So slow down, enjoy the day and make room for everyone.

Seriously, don’t be a jerk. And have fun.

……..

The LACBC is in the process of forming a new Civics committee to offer a non-partisan look at local political candidates and help ensure the election of bike friendly politicians, to be co-chaired by board members Efren Moreno and myself.

We’re just looking for an open date for our first meeting, after our first two proposed dates failed to work out for various reasons. I’ll let you know as soon as we set a date and location, probably within a couple weeks.

The meeting, not the notification.

Meanwhile, a reader sends word suggesting that this may not be the city’s first non-partisan cycling organization.

In November, 1898, the East Side Cycling Club held its annual pre-election “smoker” party to which all the local political candidates were invited to speak before the wheelmen.  The ESCC’s own platform basically had one plank (“Good Roads!”) and the club members themselves were of assorted political leanings.

So imagine the club’s surprise when the local Republicans mailed out post cards announcing that “there will be a Republican meeting at the hall of the bicycle club,” signed (oh so ironically) “Yours respectfully” by the Republican campaign secretary.

Think of the social media uproar this would have caused if only they’d had the technology back then!  But instead, the club made do with chalk and fury.

On the evening of the smoker, all attendees were greeted with a conspicuous chalkboard.  On it, the offending postcard was affixed next to a brief and  unequivocal statement signed by the club’s board of directors, including Republican Owen McAleer, who himself was just a few years away from being L.A.’s mayor.  Though concise, the message conveyed the ESCC’s staunch nonpartisanship, and to the club’s further credit, neither Republicans nor non-bikers were turned away from the event.

……..

My friends Sarah Amelar and Jon Riddle have written a new guide to Los Angeles bicycling, offering routes, tips and other useful information for locals and tourists alike; find it soon at your favorite local bike shop.

………

The cyclist who killed a 71-year old pedestrian in San Francisco apparently lied about laying his bike down to avoid a collision, while a bike commuter says it’s time to grow up and start acting like we belong here; I couldn’t agree more. However, while a cyclist killing a pedestrian is national news, pedestrians are killed by cars on a daily basis with hardly a peep.

And no, I don’t mean the candy kind.

Then again, bike cops don’t always seem to follow the law, either.

………

That Cypress Park kid who wrote to his councilmember asking for bike lanes in front of his school may be a lot older before he gets them. LADOT makes improvements to a key intersection along the new Expo bikeway. New buffered bike lanes will soon make their bow on Winnetka Ave. Caltech busts a bike thief. A Long Beach crime scene technician raises funds to replace an 82-year old cyclist’s stolen bike. A singer from Long Beach is planning a bike-based concert tour of the West Coast.

Cyclelicious asks who are all these legal drivers we keep hearing about, in contrast to all us scofflaw cyclists. A San Diego cyclist reflects on last month’s death of bike rider David Ortiz; thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up. Moorpark struggles to find room for cyclists at the city’s skate park. Levi Leipheimer says he had a premonition that he was going to be hit by a car just moments before it actually happened; a Santa Rosa writer says a three-foot passing law, like the one currently under discussion in California, could have made a difference for Levi. A Sequoia mountain biker avoids death by millimeters when he’s impaled on a tree branch that just missed his jugular vein and cranial nerves. A hit-and-run driver kills a Richmond cyclist. A father and daughter are remembered after being killed by a speeding and possibly texting teenage driver in Concord, so why does the press insist on calling it an accident?

Bad bike shop marketing and service could be contributing to the lack of women riders; Bikeyface probably wouldn’t argue with that. Lovely Bicycle concludes cities do need bike lawyers. Five things drivers need to understand about sharing the road with cyclists, and 10 things you don’t need for bike touring. The makers of my favorite beer are the new official beer sponsor for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge; I guess Coors isn’t Colorado’s favorite anymore. Chicago cyclists support speed cameras for motorists. A Massachusetts cyclist is killed after his bike fails, possibly due to a recalled Cervelo fork.

Canada prepares for fair-weather bike traffic jams. Toronto’s Deputy Mayor urges city residents not to vote for cyclists. British Columbia police accuse a cyclist of staging fake bike collisions for a quick financial payout; damn, why didn’t I think of that? Looks like London’s cycling mayor won’t get the support of the city’s cyclists. A UK driver admits to screaming abuse at a pair of cyclists and obstructing them with his car; nice to know it’s not just American drivers who do that. New Zealand bike shops are warned that if you’re going to have a Going Out of Business Sale, you actually have to, you know, go out of business. Australia’s Global Mail offers a very nice, in-depth look at cycling in the City of Angeles, including quotes from several people you might know.

Finally, a New York pedestrian asks what the f*** is wrong with the city’s spandex-clad cyclists, among other Gothamists. Dave Moulton asks when did society decide that we don’t want dangerous and deadly driving to be a crime?

And I don’t think I ever got a chance to mention this great Spanish language PSA, courtesy of the LACBC’s City of Lights, LADOT and REI.

Bikes and politics: Choosing the best candidate in CD2

Maybe you didn’t notice that we have yet another election next week, in L.A.’s 2nd Council District.

However, unlike the recent race in CD 5, I haven’t been involved in this one.

That’s partly due to the overwhelming number of candidates in the race. It was hard enough keeping up with a race with just six candidates, five of whom eventually submitted statements discussing their stands on local bicycling issues — including the eventual winner, Paul Koretz.

And partly due to plain old-fashioned political burnout, after last fall’s election, followed shortly by two elections in CD5 and the race in state Senate District 26, eventually won by Curren Price.

Frankly, by the time it was over, I didn’t want to hear from or about any more candidates. Even if they promised to turn the Santa Monica Freeway into the city’s first bike boulevard.

Fortunately, Damien Newton over at Streetsblog stepped in to pick up the slack.

So far, he’s managed to get responses from seven of the 10 candidates — which I’ve learned is no easy task. Some offered the typical by-the-numbers, guaranteed-not-to-offend anyone answers; yet a surprising number have shown real insight into this city’s many transportation issues.

Most of the candidates oppose the mayor’s plan to trade the city’s parking meters for a bundle of cash and a player to be named later, and oppose the automatic speed limit increases currently mandated by state law — something AB 766, sponsored by one of the candidates for the CD2 seat, would address. Even if some people don’t want to talk about it.

All seven seem to support cycling, as well as other forms of alternative transportation. And all support measures to help keep riders safer on the roads, with varying degrees of insight.

Cycling activist Stephen Box also seems to have made an impression on just about all of them. But then, he has a way of doing that. Just ask Tom LaBonge.

Even if you’re as tired of the endless electoral cycle as I am, though, this election matters.

And your vote matters.

So allow me, briefly, to be obnoxiously self-indulgent and quote something I wrote during the CD5 campaign. Because it’s just as appropriate today, in this election, as it was seven months ago.

One of these people will be the one we turn to when we need to address the lack of cycling infrastructure in this city. He or she will also be responsible, along with the other members of the council, for turning the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights from mere words to meaningful change, as well as addressing the future of transportation — and quality of life — in this city. And by extension, for every city in the surrounding metro area.

This same person will be the one you’ll reach out to whenever you have a problem or concern in this district — and hope that… he or she will actually listen to you, and do something about it.

It matters. Not just for the (2nd) District, but for the 4th, 12th and 15th. And every other district, and for every other cyclist, in the city.

In a race with this many candidates, and the notoriously low voter turnout in this city’s local elections, a single vote could actually make a difference.

Your vote matters. Your support matters.

It all matters.

No really, it does.

So take a moment to click on the links below and read what the candidates have to say. And if you live in CD2, make time to vote on Tuesday.

Assuming there’s a runoff — which is almost guaranteed with so many candidates — I’ll ask the winning candidates to get more specific about cycling issues before the next election.

Because we need to elect people who care about bicycling.

And about making this city a better place. For all of us.

Mary Benson

Chris Essel

Tamar Galatzan

Paul Krekorian

Michael McCue

Frank Sheftel

Zuma Dogg

Not responding as of Sept 17, 2009: Augusto Bisani, Jozef Thomas “Joe” Essavi, Pete Sanchez.

I won’t tell you how to vote. But considering that openness and responsiveness are two of important qualities a council member, failing to respond to Damien’s questionnaire really isn’t a good sign.

………

Santa Monica’s AltCar Expo will offer an expanded bike section, Oct. 2 &3 at the Civic Auditorium. The Anonymous Cyclist — whose secret identity I know, but you’ll never get it out of me — offers you a chance to write to anything you want about cycling. Anonymously, I assume. Damien drops Santa Monica from Friday’s Park(ing) Day Ride after Santa Monica drops Park(ing) Day. Alex gets the response he expected to his comments about bike theft vigilantes. The Valley gets its first Bike Kitchen/Bikerowave-style co-op. Elisa at Bike Skirt says just let her ride and don’t try to label her. Bob Mionske tells the tale of two young Canadians; one who grew up to be a cyclist, and the former Attorney General who went on to kill him. The Tucson Bike Lawyer says it actually is against the law to kill a cyclist in the bike lane, if they could only get someone to press charges. Finally, a cyclist in my home town is hit by a car; police say charges will depend on the extent of his injuries. Are they suggesting that it’s okay hit one of us, as long as you don’t kill anyone?

The secret agenda of L.A. cyclists

I’ve been bicycling in Los Angeles for nearly two decades now.

For most of that time, I haven’t involved in local politics or government, aside than complaining about the idiots running this city, like everyone else.

Which made me the idiot, of course.

Because like most Angelenos, I was far too busy with my work and family to get caught up in some seemingly unimportant local election. And like most cyclists, I was more concerned with my next ride than what might be happening at the next city council meeting.

But while I was busy with my own concerns, decisions were being made that would affect the ability of cyclists to ride in L.A., as well as the very livability of the city. And not only did I not have a voice in those decisions, I was quite sure that my voice — and yours — didn’t matter, because no one was listening anyway.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Over the past year or so, I’ve learned that the low level of involvement exhibited by most Angelenos means that it really doesn’t take a lot of people to influence the process. In fact, one reason special interests have such an outsized influence in this city is that too many of us don’t bother to make our voices heard.

Of course, the other reason is they have all that money to contribute to campaigns and parties and PACs to influence the process.

As it turns out, though, a few motivated cyclists really can make a difference. And we seem to have some real friends in government, as well as a few others who are willing to take our side as long as we can make a good argument and show that we have some support on our side.

There’s also a secret government agency that exists solely to deal with cycling issues in Los Angeles. Or at least, it might as well be a secret since most riders have never heard of it.

Don’t believe me? Just stop the next cyclist you see, and ask if he or she is going to the BAC meeting tomorrow night.

That blank stare should be all the answer you need.

Yet the Bicycle Advisory Committee has been around for over 30 years, ever since it was founded by Tom Bradley — the city’s last great visionary mayor and standard every local political leader has failed to measure up to since the ‘70s.

And it’s a pity, because the BAC has the potential to make a huge difference for L.A. cyclists. It can, and should, provide a direct voice for cyclists in our city government — giving cyclists access to the city’s leadership and giving our leaders insight into the issues we face on the street everyday.

But it only has the power our mayor and city council give it. And the power they give it is in direct proportion to the support it gets from the cycling community.

You and me, in other words.

I can’t speak for you, but I know I haven’t been giving it enough support. In fact, I’d never heard of it until about a year ago, and only attended my first meeting just two months ago to argue in support of better police training.

That’s on the agenda for tomorrow night, along with further discussion of the proposed new bike plan, the new Expo bikeway, the proposal to limit bikes on Metro trains to just two per car, and the problem of trucks blocking bike lanes, among other items.

You don’t have to go. Unless you happen to live around there, it’s a major pain in the ass to get downtown, especially so close to rush hour. In fact, I can usually drive to Orange County in less time than it takes me to get Downtown from the Westside.

But it’s important, and it’s worth it. Because what happens there will help determine the quality of biking in L.A. today, and for the foreseeable future.

Besides, you might just see me there.

………

Will Campbell bears witness to a recent tragedy. MetroRider discusses the city’s proposed bike plan. A Helena letter writer insists that the rules of the road apply to cyclists, too, while a Toronto paper observes an intersection where only 13% of cyclists stop. A suburban Chicago paper says there’s room enough on the road for everyone, and a writer in South Carolina says safety goes both ways. Colorado cyclists and a driver fight in the roadway, and can’t agree on what happened. Finally, a Cleveland teen hits a police car. You really, really don’t want to do that.

%d bloggers like this: