Tag Archive for bike safety

Morning Links: CicLAvia coverage, cyclist injured in bike-on-bike wreck, benefits of protected bike lanes

The news coverage of Sunday’s CicLAvia continues to trickle in.

The LA Times offers video and a handful of photos. Curbed LA does the same while the Source serves up still more photos as well as tweets.

Orange 20 calls the new Echo Park to East LA route another great success. The CSUN Sundial says cyclists ruled the road for a day. And Takepart calls it the biggest public open space event in America.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog questions the relative lack of news stories about Sunday’s 10th CicLAvia since the first one rolled through Downtown on 10/10/10.

But maybe that’s a good thing.

CicLAvia may be huge in our world, but it’s not new anymore. It’s proven itself to be a huge success, and now has the funding and support to continue and grow beyond the confining limits of Los Angeles itself.

In a way, the lack of the breathless news stories we’ve seen in the past is a tacit acknowledgement that the event has become part of the fabric of the city.

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A Manhattan Beach bike rider suffered serious injuries when she was hit head-on by another cyclist where the Marvin Braude and Ballona Creek bike paths meet in Marina del Rey. To make matters worse, Ana Beatriz Cholo had no insurance since she was just starting a new job, so a fund has been created to help her pay her five-figure medical bills.

Let this be a reminder to never pass slower riders unless it’s safe to do so.

Which means never, ever passing if there’s a rider coming in the opposite direction. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to swerve suddenly — if not bail off the bike path entirely — to avoid someone who seemed to think he had a supreme right to the pathway.

Or maybe just lacked sufficient common sense to realize that the same safety rules that govern passing slower vehicles when driving apply on the bikeway, as well.

And if you’re ever involved in a collision with another cyclist, always give your name and contact information. Your car insurance should cover liability on your bike, as well.

It’s no less hit-and-run when a bike rider or pedestrian leaves the scene without identifying themselves after causing a collision than it is when a driver does it.

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A new study reconfirms the benefits of protected bike lanes. According to the study, ridership increased anywhere from 21% to 171% after protected lanes were installed, with 24% of the increase coming from other routes and a full 10% actually switching from other modes of transportation.

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The route for next year’s Giro d’Italia is unveiled, with an eye towards a possible rare sweep of the Giro and Tour de France.

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Local

Bike riders are urged to attend tonight’s meeting of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Transportation Committee to help elect new bike friendly members.

Milestone Rides’ Johnny Lam explains why he volunteers with bike organizations, and why you should, too.

PV Bike hosts a perfectly alliterative Pomona Pumpkin Patch Pedal on October 19th.

A bike rider was seriously injured in a collision on PCH in Long Beach Sunday night.

 

State

A Santa Barbara cyclist says the Milt Olin case shows the dangers of distracted driving.

A San Luis Obispo woman charged in the hit-and-run death of a cyclist had three prior convictions for driving under the influence. Somehow, though, she was still allowed to remain on the road until she finally killed someone; too bad the judges and other authorities who helped keep her behind the wheel can’t be forced to serve some of her sentence with her.

 

National

City Lab makes the case for banning traffic lanes wider than 10 feet.

Bicycling’s Elly Blue says motherhood is one of the biggest obstacles preventing women from biking.

Different types of bike riding requires different muscle use. But you knew that, right?

Kansas City is just the latest municipality to prohibit the harassment of bicyclists and pedestrians.

A Chicago writer calls for banning bikes for a single day to give pedestrians a break. Not an entirely bad idea; maybe it would help the relatively few overly aggressive cyclists realize the risk they pose to others. But probably not.

How rare is this? A Pittsburgh cartoonist offers a mea culpa for an anti-bike diatribe after riders convince him he was wrong.

A Richmond VA writer says yes, cyclists break the law, but so does everyone else; and if bikes bug you, maybe you’re the problem.

 

International

Members of a cancer charity ride 800 km — roughly 500 miles — to deliver a custom made ebike to Pope Francis.

Be a more successful cyclist in just seven simple steps.

Yet another ridiculous pie-in-the-sky plan is floated — literally — for a London bikeway.

A New Zealand editorial writer says a visit to DC shows separating bikes and cars is the best way to go, while an email writer says the Kiwi equivalent of a three-foot passing law is ridiculous because cyclists do bad things.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: A first-person bike cam view of an Aussie cyclist attacked by a magpie. A daredevil squirrel tries to pass through the spokes of a Sonoma County Gran Fondo rider; not surprisingly, the rider doesn’t fare well, though the squirrel fares worse.

And after a six-year old bumps his head at CicLAvia, a big-hearted cop buys helmets for him and his three brothers. Let’s hope he gets a commendation for that.

 

Santa Monica police blame the victim in a new bike safety video, two better videos and your Morning Links

Santa Monica police are offering up a new PSA suggesting that stopping for stop signs while riding a bike is child’s play. And the best way to ensure you’ll get home to yours.

Children, that is.

It’s not like their message isn’t reasonable — both the law and common sense dictate that we should observe traffic signals just like anyone else. But while they’ve undoubtedly scored points with bike-hating residents, they could have done a lot more good by focusing on the need for motorists to pay attention and drive safely around bike riders.

Which is what share the road really means, despite the way some drivers — and police departments, apparently — try to twist it these days.

After all, even the most dangerous cyclists pose a risk primarily to themselves, while dangerous drivers pose a risk to everyone around them.

I don’t have any records on what may have caused bike injury collisions in Santa Monica. But neither of the two bicyclists killed in Santa Monica in recent years ran a red light or stop sign. Antonio Cortez died after riding into an open car door while allegedly riding drunk, while Erin Galligan was run down from behind by while riding home from work on PCH.

Even if he was as stumbling drunk as SMPD officials implied, Cortez would probably still be alive today if a driver hadn’t left his car door open in violation of California law.

And to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever suggested that Galligan did anything wrong, other than occupy the same road space as the speeding hit-and-run driver who killed her.

Maybe the SMPD’s next bike safety videos should focus on closing your damn car door and not running away like a coward after you kill someone.

Then again, this is the same department that has promised to crackdown on scofflaw cyclists more than once. Even though they can’t legally focus enforcement on specific violators as opposed to violations.

That is, they can legally ticket everyone who rolls stop signs, for instance. But they can’t direct their enforcement towards cyclists as opposed to everyone else on the road.

And they should know that.

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As long as we’re sharing videos, here’s one from the Encino Velodrome’s recent Swap Your Legs Race.

Meanwhile, a great video says it’s time to fix LA’s broken sidewalks. And even our Twitter-using mayor liked it.

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The Daily News is the latest to notice that current LA law bans kids playing on or near streets.

LA’s first protected bike lane has already seen better days.

How many people get to work car-free in your neighborhood?

A writer for City Watch says the Pacoima Wash bike and pedestrian pathway recently approved by the San Fernando City Council has the power to transform the area.

Zev says you’ll soon be able to sponsor your own section of bike path in LA County.

Drivers can — and should — cross into a bike lane to make a turn, even when there’s a solid white line. California law requires drivers to make a right from the lane closest to the curb, and never turn across a bike lane.

Fair warning to Los Angeles, as Oakland agrees to pay out $3.25 million to a cyclist seriously injured after hitting a pothole. The city had received numerous complaints about the pothole-ridden road but failed to fix it.

Across the bay, San Francisco is on its way to becoming a bike utopia.

How bicycling helped build Kickstarter.

A new helmet attachment promises to keep you cool by soaking your head. No, really.

Turns out the wicked witch of the Wall Street Journal was wrong, while famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz says it’s time for vigorous law enforcement against reckless drivers before they kill someone, not after.

Drivers are at fault for injury collisions with bicyclists in a Georgia county two-thirds of the time. But why did they illustrate the story with a crashed motorcycle?

A documentary maker for the BBC moves to LA, but gives up bicycling to work due to “distracted drivers going 50 mph in the dark.” But isn’t that half the fun? Thanks to Jim Pettipher for the heads-up.

Funny how often totally insane cyclists attack perfectly innocent motorists for absolutely no rational reason. Seriously, no one should ever attack anyone else on the roadway or use their U-lock as a weapon. But something tells me there’s probably another side to stories like this.

The owner of Soigneur magazine looks at five up and coming bicycling groups, and manages to be only somewhat offensive, particularly in regards to women riders.

A writer for the Guardian says cyclists aren’t the enemy, and it’s time to end the us versus them mentality.

An Australian writer suggests bike cams have been beneficial, but oddly worries about privacy concerns even though nothing that occurs in public view is ever private.

Your next helmet could look like an alien brain if you’re willing to spend more than $1000 for the privilege.

Finally, after an Aussie BMW worker calls for intentionally dooring cyclists and posting the videos online, the story somehow devolves into a debate over licensing cyclists, rather than protecting them from illegal assaults by bike-hating jerks.

And Boyonabike found this bike lane fail at Cal Poly Pomona. Are they trying to tell us something?

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Breaking news: Councilmember Koretz abandons safety, cyclists and his word on Westwood Boulevard

Evidently, the lives and safety of bike riders don’t matter when wealthy homeowners raise their voices in opposition.

At least, that the message CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz seems to be sending.

According to LA Streetsblog, Koretz has come out in opposition to bike lanes in any form on Westwood Blvd between National and Santa Monica Boulevards — despite an earlier promise to study the feasibility of such lanes, which is currently ongoing.

Evidently, he doesn’t want any facts to get in the way of making up his mind.

As Damien Newton, author of the Streetsblog story points out, any kind of bike lane on that section of Westwood has been adamantly opposed by a small group of local homeowners represented by the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowner’s Group, as well as business owners along the boulevard who fear a loss of parking spaces.

It is wildly unlikely that the city will move forward with a bicycle lane project without at least tacit support from the Council office, which is bowing to pressure from homeowner groups that have been hostile to transportation options outside of the automobile….

Local opposition to the lane publicly centered around an LADOT study of a bus lane (bikes allowed) which would have removed travel lanes and parking.  That plan was DOA.  Instead, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition proposed a “floating” bicycle lane where the parked-car adjacent bike lane would be moved to the curb during rush hour so that the road could continue to have a peak hour lane.  After the public meeting, the LADOT began a study of the floating bike lane (which they had only briefly introduced as an “idea” at the public hearing), but that was put on hold by the Councilmember.

It should be noted that the floating bike lane would not have resulted in the loss of a single traffic lane or parking space; the greatest handicap anyone would face would be crossing the street from one side to the other as the parking lane flipped sides.

Now, the floating bike lane plan has been rejected by the Councilmember before he has allowed the formal study to be was completed.  In response, today, the LACBC released an action alert calling on Koretz to move forward with a full study of the lanes that includes all stakeholders.

In that alert, the Bike Coalition calls attention to the councilmember’s broken promise.

Word on the street is that Councilmember Paul Koretz is reneging on his commitment to study bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard, connecting the future Expo Line Station to UCLA and Palms.  Earlier this year Koretz wrote, “I am an advocate of bike paths so long as we implement them intelligently and with the input of local stakeholders.”  With that in mind, LACBC respected local opposition to the City’s proposed bus-bike lanes and developed an alternative that still provides safety benefits without the traffic impact that upset some stakeholders. We then requested to work with the Councilmember to:

  • Study alternatives for Westwood with less traffic impact
  • Create an inclusive engagement process that is fact-based and respectful of divergent opinions

After agreeing to the above, Koretz stalled.  He did not set up an open and transparent process and instructed LADOT to stop the study.  Instead of seeking input from all stakeholders, he has listened to one small insular group of homeowners that have repeatedly put out inaccurate information to rally opposition to even studying the project.  At LACBC, we firmly believe that studying options is the first step in making decisions “intelligently.”

Koretz opposition also flies in the face of support for the lanes from his own appointee to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, CD5 representative Jonathan Weiss, as quoted by Streetsblog.

Weiss argues that the road width is actually wide enough to put in lanes without removing parking or mixed-use lanes if lanes are narrowed.

“There is ample room for bike lanes without losing car lanes or parking,” Weiss writes in a letter to Koretz. “Providing bike lanes would actually free up traffic by separating bikes from cars.  And safety concerns will continue to keep risk-averse people from riding – exacerbating, rather than relieving, automobile traffic to UCLA and keeping buses stuck in traffic.  (Biking is actually faster than the bus during the evening commute.)  UCLA has done a great job in cutting its carbon footprint, but this bottleneck on its doorstep hinders its ongoing efforts in that regard.”

It’s short notice, I know.

But the LACBC is calling on everyone who rides Westwood — or would like to — to attend a meeting this evening to discuss the next steps in light of Koretz firmly planting a knife in the back of the Westside cycling community.

Come to our meeting TONIGHT (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. to plan next steps for RideWestwood and find out about upcoming actions:

UCLA – Public Affairs Building – Faculty Lounge (Room 5391)
337 Charles E. Young Dr. East (near Wyton and Hilgard).

If you can’t make the meeting — or even if you can — the coalition asks that you email Koretz’ office to demand he reconsider bike lanes on Westwood Blvd.

Sample email:

to: paul.koretz@lacity.org 
cc: joan.pelico@lacity.org, jay.greenstein@lacity.org 
bcc: info@la-bike.org 

subj: Study Westwood Bike Lanes

Dear Councilmember Koretz,

Westwood Boulevard is currently one of the most popular routes for people riding bikes in your district.  It is also one of the least safe.  You’ve said before that, “I do not vote for things that kill people.”  I hope that you’ll at least study how to fix a dangerous situation that has already killed and will likely again if it is not improved.  As a community leader, it’s your responsibility to convene people with differing views, seek out accurate information and make informed decisions that respect all stakeholders.  I ask that you take this commitment seriously by studying alternatives for bike lanes along Westwood Boulevard and hosting an open and inclusive process to discuss the merits of the project.

Sincerely,

your name
your neighborhood 

And while you’re at it, you might remind him of his own support for bicycling, as he stated right here when he was first running for office.

When I was the Mayor of West Hollywood, I requested input from the bicycle community on how to implement bike lanes on part of Santa Monica Boulevard. I think Los Angeles needs to adopt a regional public transportation approach that not only addresses improving traffic flow, and mass transit, but also how we can improve options and the quality of life for bicyclists.

In general, we need to focus on the creation of an effective bicycle infrastructure. Los Angeles, with over 330 sunny days a year, should be the world leader in bicycle commuting. We need to start the work of building many more miles of safe bikeways and adequate secure parking for commuters. These two steps will be a good beginning in our efforts to alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow.

Odd that someone who fought for bike lanes on the even more congested Santa Monica Blvd through West Hollywood would oppose them on Westwood.

Or was he just saying what he thought we wanted to hear to win an election?

Important LAPD meeting next week for anyone who lives or rides through the San Fernando Valley

Yesterday I received the following email from Glenn Bailey, Vice-Chair of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee. 

Dear Valley Bicyclists:

At the request of LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas, commanding officer of LAPD’s Operations-Valley Bureau, an important meeting with Valley bicyclists to discuss and improve the handling of:

  •       traffic enforcement to ensure cyclist safety
  •       hit and run collisions/crimes
  •       bicycle thefts
  •       improving safety on the Orange Line and other bicycle paths in the Valley
  •       safety education for motorists and cyclists
  •       and other topics of interest to bicyclists

The LAPD Valley Traffic Division will be participating and the County Sheriff (Metro Orange Line enforcement) has been invited as well.

You are cordially to invited to attend:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
LAPD Van Nuys Division
6240 Sylmar Avenue
Van Nuys, CA 91401

So that there is adequate seating and copies of handouts, please RSVP via email to glennbaileysfv@yahoo.com if you are attending OR may be attending. Also, if you have additional topics you wish to be considered for this or a subsequent meeting, please forward those as well.

I encourage you to forward this invitation to other interested Valley cyclists.

Hope to see you there.

Thank you.

Glenn Bailey, Vice-Chair
Bicycle Advisory Committee
City of Los Angeles

Having worked with both Bailey and Deputy Chief Villegas as part of the department’s bike task force, I can assure you this is one meeting that will definitely be worth your time.

Especially given the subject matter.

Chances are, riding a bike is a lot safer than you think — and just as fun

Let’s talk safety for a moment.

Or rather, the risk you face riding your bike on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Or wherever you happen to ride.

Because chances are, it’s a lot less dangerous than you might think.

Granted, it can look bad at times — especially if you read this blog on an irregular basis; I’ve long noticed that readership spikes whenever a bike rider gets killed or seriously injured.

That’s perfectly understandable. But that means you might miss the stories in between that talk about bike advocacy and improving infrastructure, as well as lists of links and the simple joys of just riding your bike.

Which I freely admit I don’t write about nearly enough.

So let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Riding a bike is fun.

Really fun.

Even a bad day on a bike is better than just about anything else I might do with that time; after a few hours — or sometimes, a few days — I forget about the few moments when something went wrong and remember just how good the rest of the ride felt.

Even when I have an encounter with an angry or dangerous driver, I try to forget the one or two jerks I had a problem with. And focus on the countless others who shared the road safely and, often, courteously.

Yes, bad things can happen on a bike.

Unlike drivers, we don’t have glass and steel plating to protect us. Or seat belts, air bags and crumple zones, for that matter.

Our crumple zones are our own bodies.

And we have nothing more than a helmet to protect us, if that.

On the other hand, we also have much greater maneuverability than those lumbering metal behemoths we share the road with. And can often avoid collisions that would be inevitable if we were behind the wheel.

It may seem counterintuitive, but you actually have a much lower risk of dying on a bike than you do in a car. In fact, you’re 15 times more likely to die in a car collision over the course of your lifetime than you are on a bike.

Even accounting for relative time in the saddle and behind the wheel, your risk of dying in a car is nearly twice as much as on a bike.

And neither one begins to approach the risks of sitting on your couch and doing nothing.

Surprisingly enough, Los Angeles is a pretty safe place to ride, as well. The city has seen five bicycling fatalities in each of the last two years, while the county averages 24 bike deaths per year.

That may sound like a lot, but it works out to just one cycling death per 750,000 and 400,000 residents, respectively. Which makes the area significantly safer than Orange and San Diego Counties, with one death per every 230,000 and 250,000 residents, respectively.

Granted, even one death is one too many.

But given that the city cites over 400,000 regular riders in Los Angeles — and climbing rapidly — your odds of surviving your next ride, and every ride after that, are pretty damn good.

Looking at it another way, I once read a study which said regular cyclists — that’s regular as in frequent, not ordinary or non-constipated — could expect an injury serious enough to require medical attention once every 8.3 years.

Which puts me right on course, with four trips to the ER in 32 years of adult riding.

And only one of those involved an automobile. Which is exactly the same number involving freak encounters with massive swarms of bees.

Better yet, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury just by taking a few simple precautions.

  • Always ride within your own abilities. Yes, it’s fun to push your limits, but riding on the edge is where most injuries happen.
  • Avoid the door zone. Ride at least three feet from parked cars and watch for people inside, open doors or brake lights that could indicate trouble.
  • Ride defensively. Assume that anyone you see on the road will do exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, and mentally prepare for it. If they do, you’re ready; if not, you’re no worse off.
  • Always ride with traffic. Drivers aren’t looking for you coming at them, and salmon cycling reduces reaction times and increases the force of any impact.
  • Signal your turns. Even though many, if not most, drivers don’t these days, they expect you to; predictability of movement is key to safe riding in any situation.
  • Use other hand gestures, as well. No, not that one. Point slightly to your left if you’re coming into the traffic lane, or point straight ahead if you’re going through an intersection to keep cars from turning. And if there’s any confusion, waive drivers through ahead of you — it’s a lot better than getting hit.
  • Always observe the right of way. The first vehicle at an intersection goes first, those going straight go before any turning left, and in the event of a tie, the one on the right goes first. It may mean stopping to let a driver go ahead of you, but isn’t your safety worth a few extra seconds?
  • Stop for stop signs and red lights. Yes, it’s inconvenient and requires more effort. But riders blowing through signals is one of the primary causes of preventable collisions. And just about all collisions are preventable.
  • If you use hand brakes, practice braking with your back brakes a fraction of a second before you squeeze the front one, until it becomes second nature. That will keep you from going over your handlebars, which I’ve done too many times.
  • Learn to turn by shifting your body weight instead of using the handlebars. Once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier, natural and more responsive, especially at speed, and allows you to swerve quickly to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Practice sprinting at a higher cadence. Even if you’ll never race, sprinting skills can help you get out of a dangerous situation before it sucks you in. I’ve probably avoided as many collisions by sprinting out of the way as I have by braking.
  • Wear a helmet. Yes, I know all the arguments against helmet use, as well as their limitations. And in 32 years of riding, I’ve only needed mine once. But that one time could have made my wife a widow if I’d been without it.
  • Use lights and reflectors after dark. The law requires a headlight and rear reflector, along with reflectors on both wheels. I use a flashing light up front, two blinkers in back and reflective strips on my wrists and ankles. Drivers can’t avoid you if they don’t know you’re there.
  • Wear clothes that contrast with your surroundings. Hi-viz isn’t necessary; bright colors, deep blacks and whites stand out from the surrounding environment on during the day, while light colors stand out at night. Avoid dull blacks, blues and grays, especially on cloudy days, since they blend in too easily.
  • If you don’t feel safe or confident on the streets, consider taking a Confident City Cycling or Savvy Cycling course. It doesn’t mean you have to turn into a rabid vehicular cyclist, but it helps to have the skills to ride in any situation.

Unfortunately, bad things can happen on a bike.

And I’m going to keep writing about the bad things that happen on bikes, and to bike riders, until there aren’t any more to write about.

But until then, don’t let that scare you off your bike.

Because those bad things happen a lot less often than it might seem.

And with a little effort and skill, they probably won’t happen to you.

Memorial ride for fallen Newport Beach cyclists — and a fundraising drive for bike safety

I’ve often heard that Newport Beach is a dangerous place to ride a bike.

That was driven home when two cyclists were killed less than 24 hours apart last month, as nutritionist Sarah Leaf was killed by a right-turning truck, and Dr. Catherine Campion-Ritz died in a hit-an-run as she was riding in a bike lane with her husband; a suspect has been charged in her death.

That’s why I’ve been following reports that the city was planning a memorial ride for the two cyclists later this month.

And more importantly, raising funds for safety improvements, with Newport Beach matching any money raised on a 3-to-1 basis — and our friend Frank Peters of cdmCyclist pledging the first $10,000.

I’ve been waiting for full details, which entered my inbox tonight in an email from April Morris, who gave me permission to share it with you.

I am one of the volunteers (and a cyclist) helping organize the Newport Beach-sponsored Memorial Ride on October 28, 2012. The ride starts at 8 am and it is open to riders of all levels, since it is only 1.2 miles. It will be a processional-paced ride to honor those who have fallen as well as those who survived collisions. As you probably know, in September 2012 within 24 hours two cyclists (women) were killed on the streets of Newport Beach from automobile collisions. A third woman (within a 3 day period) was critically injured. Three incidents in three days is just too much for our cycling community to sit still for.

The cycling community is up in arms and wants change. We want to be viewed as a cohesive group and part of the solution to the problem. I, and Joan Littauer, volunteered on behalf of all of our cycling brethren to help the city organize this Memorial Ride. A large attendance at this ride is important. We want the city to see how large our numbers are (the Mayor and several councilmen will be present).

Subsequent to these three collisions, we have pressed the City to start making advancements in bicycle lane improvements – since cyclists from all around So. Cal use the Newport Beach streets on their routes. We are pleased to report that as of last night, at the City Council Meeting, the City of Newport Beach agreed to match all of our funds raised, $3 to $1, up to $450,000 specifically for Bicycle Safety Improvements. This means if we raise $150,000, the City will put in $450,000 giving us $600,000 in the fund.

A special fund has been established by the City so that any donations are tax deductible. Can you help us spread the word about the ride and the need to generate $150,000 so that we can get ALL of the $450,000 matching funds for bicycle improvements? We have a website established for the ride with information on our fund raising activities: www.NewportBeachMemorialRide.com

Thank you so much for any help you can give us in publicizing the Memorial Ride and giving information on the fund raising element.

If you live or ride in Orange County, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning; you can go to brunch, catch the game or attend church to repent your failings afterwards.

Or a better cause to donate to, since the life you save may be your own or someone you love.

It’s definitely worth a few bucks if you’re on a tight budget, or more if you’re not. And maybe it’s time for bike-friendly businesses and wealthier riders to step up and make a donation big enough to make a difference.

Update: I’m told an unofficial ride with follow the official memorial ride, taking a longer route to visit the sites of local collisions that have left riders dead or seriously injured, as well as the site of the upcoming CdM sharrows on PCH.

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One other quick note.

I’ve been busy curating LA Streetsblog this week, which has kept me too busy to ride as I’ve done my best to keep up with two busy blogs. And Thursday is my last day as guest editor for new father Damien Newton, since I have a prior commitment on Friday.

But there’s one more project waiting in the wings. Or actually, in the corner of my office where the bikes sleep.

Sometime in the next week or two, I’ll be writing a review  at the request of Critical Cycles, makers of a solid and surprising affordable single-speed/fixed gear bike.

And no, I won’t be riding brakeless.

Not me.

Not ever.

This…

Turned into this… (Note the hand brake on the handlebars)

Which, with a little effort — and an old water bottle cage — turned into this.

Could extra bright lights save the lives of SoCal cyclists?

A few months back, Mark Goodley nearly lost his life in a left hook while riding in Corona del Mar.

Since then, we’ve exchanged a few emails as he continued to recover from his injuries and return to riding. Most have focused on the subject of safety, and how to keep more riders from suffering his fate. Or worse.

Lately, he’s settled on a bold campaign to put multiple bright lights on the backs of bikes to demand attention from motorist, and overcome the common SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You) excuse that too often serves as a Get Out of Jail Free card for killer drivers.

To be honest, I can’t say I agree with the approach, for a number of reasons. But I thought it was worth letting Mark explain his program and let you decide.

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SAVE YOUR Life, Ride Ultra BRIGHT, Day AND night

I’m not going to get into the political/legal quagmire and entanglement of the who’s right and who’s wrong debates… I AM going to try and make a strong case for how you can greatly increase the odds of NOT being killed (or seriously injured) while riding your bicycle in our streets.

TODAY/ NOW; we will determine and ENGAGE; the quickest, cheapest, and most effective solution to avoid the horrific carnage of cycling’s fatality collisions… This letter applies to both cyclists and drivers. Today… not days, weeks, months, or years into the future… Everything else can/will come with time… safer roads, better drivers, smarter cyclists…

But we’ve GOT to start stemming the tide against the collisions, fatalities and injuries, NOW, TODAY…

I’m becoming more and more convinced, with each day, that the only expedient, practical, affordable, and immediately effective means to reduce the terrifying carnage on our streets is for cyclists to “Ride Ultra BRIGHT, DAY and night.” That is, ride with Multiple Ultra Bright FLASHING LED lights, DAY and night… This is not the ‘ole’ school’ approach of which I have been a staunch advocate in the past. But you’ve got to ask yourself a very real and important question: “which is more important, to look cool or stay alive?” The older (and wiser) we get, the more the response sways to the latter…

It is said that a smart man learns from his own mistakes… while the brilliant man learns from the mistakes of others… So PLEASE, PAY ATTENTION.

BRIGHT FLASHING LED lights are highly visible a minimum of 200 yards away during the DAY TIME! That’s TWO Football fields away… allowing ample time for a driver to spot, identify, move and avoid a cyclist... that’s many, many seconds of time to react, rather than mere fractions of a single second for a driver to see, and avoid YOU which is often otherwise the situation… IMPORTANT Note: Almost EVERY single driver interviewed by the police after a bicycling fatality makes nearly the same exact statement:I never saw them”… (I would add…until it’s too late)… This is no coincidence as we’ll see below. I am absolutely convinced that most often they are telling the truth.

If we want to be completely honest, ALL of us drive comatose at times, our IQ’s barely register, and what is EQUALLY true, is that often times cyclists ARE literally invisible; we’re in the dark shadows of tall trees on bright sunny cloudless days, riding directly into a sunrise/sunset, behind a wall or building, hidden amongst  the cars and trucks in traffic, etc… Combining these two factors together in any proportion is a recipe for DEATH. Half of the world’s population has a below average IQ, increasing a drivers reaction time.  (This is not being rude, nor a sociological commentary, but a simple statistical fact). The visual cortex is in the back of the brain, not the front, where it really should be, also lengthening response time. Our eyes’ pupils take a long time to adjust to changing light and dark conditions…. MOST drivers that hit cyclists are not bad people, they ARE human. You get the point… We, as cyclists MUST help them see us.

What’s the answer?

Ultra BRIGHT FLASHING Lights provide and communicate an effective Early Warning Defense System to the driver, giving them time to adjust to our presence. It also subconsciously tells the driver that “we care about our own life and welfare,” a surprisingly powerful and real human response/reaction.

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride ULtra BRIGHT, DAY And night… Attach at least three Flashing BRIGHT LED rear lights to you and your bike… Why three? That is the minimum number of distinct reference points in ‘space’ that our brain’s visual cortex needs to quickly and immediately “lock on” to detect distance, direction and speed… There is no time consuming overhead for the brain to waste many seconds triangulating a position or calculating paths, direction, speed, etc… as with a single point source for example. Why lights on the rear? Because hit from behind collisions outnumber all other fatalities 2-1, and we have to start somewhere. Would it be best to mount more on the front for example? Certainly; but START somewhere.  I recommend starting with one on the seat post, one on the left seat stay, and one on your person, the left jersey pocket if possible.

When you go fishing, do you fish with a dark black lure, or do you use a BRIGHT FLASHING LURE?  Imagine ALL drivers are just stupid fish, you have to get their attention first, to avoid you…

Ask yourself, why are ALL government/city trucks required by law to have multiples of flashing lights?  And THEY’RE HUGE TRUCKS… not easily missed relatively small cyclists…

So far I have only been able to find one rear hit, fatal collision accident (the jury is still out as the  Freedom of Information Act info trickles in) where a rider was hit from behind while cycling with light(s) ON (I don’t yet know  the brand/model)… (That was Danae Miller on San Joaquin, Newport Beach, last year). Therefore the overwhelming number of fatalities have happened WITHOUT Multiple FLASHING Lights ON… We had two in one weekend here last month! That seems VERY IMPORTANT to me…

Helpful Tips; Light Selection 1. If you can look directly at a flashing light at arm’s length, it’s NOT BRIGHT enough. 2. Get rechargeable batteries and you will quickly form the habit of always turning them on without worrying about “wasting them”… (Costco sells cheap packs). Isn’t your life and health worth more than a package of batteries? (I did it too).

Personally, for the moment, I’m not trying to change the roads, laws, public mindset, driver/cyclist education or habits, etc… and I really don’t care who’s at fault… (from personal experience, I can say with some assurance, that no one lying in the street in their own blood does)… for the moment, I’m trying help you save your own life and that of your family and friends… by preventing horrible accidents like mine… today/now!… and this “solution” clearly seems to be the lowest hanging fruit that’s quickly reachable…

Sometimes, “Might IS RIGHT,” and 2,000-10,000 pounds of hard, fast moving steel is ALWAYS going to be “right” against a cyclist.

Until we live in a perfect world, with perfect drivers, and on perfectly designed and built roads, this is the BEST, EASIEST, FASTEST, and CHEAPEST way to push and skew the odds HIGHLY in your favor.

Keep the rubber side down.

Ciao,

Mark

Note; I was in a near fatality accident on PCH in Corona del Mae three+ months ago, which was outlined in this blog. I ride about 10,000 miles/year, mostly with my wife on PCH. I went to France to see my first TdF in 1976. We’ve ridden stages of all three Grand Tours. I’ve been hit and thrown in Huntington Beach.

Professionally, I am an industrial product designer and teach design/engineering at IVC, but I am also a licensed USA Cycling Pro Race Mechanic and serve on the local Amgen Tour of California Stage Planning Committee in charge of the VIP tents. I studied pre-med at USC with one of my majors being Bio-Psychology, today’s topic.

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.

Are we failing our young bike riders?

I recently received a link to an online story in which a driver threatened to kill cyclists.

Or more precisely, he was afraid that he might.

The link came from David Huntsman, a lawyer and fellow bike advocate from Newport Beach, who was naturally outraged at the writer’s auto-centric windshield perspective.

My name is Nick Scholz, and I’m going to kill you.

Now, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with you guys. Heaven knows there are few groups more organized or zealous than outdoor bicyclists. Believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish to kill you. I’m not going to narrow my eyes and rev my engine menacingly at you. I don’t count the cyclists I crash into with notches on a special stencil on the side of my car.

Rest assured: if I kill you, it will be by accident.

His argument is that cyclists need to choose.

We can ride on the streets and be treated like other road users. Or we can ride on the sidewalks and be treated like pedestrians.

To the casual observer, it would appear that most of you are positively suicidal. It looks like you have chosen my car to be the Chariot of Fire that whisks you away to the Hereafter. Sadly, that moniker will probably become truer than you could know as your carbon-fiber bicycle gets stuck in my engine chassis at 50 miles per hour.

But, even sadder is the fact that this is not a suicide. Nor a murder. This is merely a tragedy that can  be avoided if only the cyclists will decide whether they are pedestrians or riding a vehicle.

Problem is, he has a point.

Our roads, and the laws that govern them, operate on the principle of predictability of movement. In other words, road users need to know whether other road users are going stop or proceed through the intersection, turn or go straight, and who has the right of way.

That’s why we have stop signs and red lights, are expected to signal, and yield to other road users when they have the right of way and we don’t.

It’s not perfect system.

It doesn’t take into account that cyclists are neither motorists or pedestrians. Or that it doesn’t always make sense for us to stop at stop signs when there is no conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

But it’s the system we have right now. And drivers need to know what we’re going to do in order to avoid a collision, which they don’t want any more than we do.

Even if they don’t always obey the law themselves.

And the consequences can be devastating.

Just this week, two SoCal cyclists were killed after reportedly riding through red lights.

In one case, the rider may have been trying to beat the light, and could have fallen victim to a short yellow on a wide intersection, which didn’t give him a fighting chance to get all the way across the cross street before cross traffic started.

In the other, a young rider on a fixie, apparently with no brakes, rode into a busy intersection without stopping and was hit by two cars in rapid succession.

Let’s be honest.

It’s one thing to roll through a stop sign, just like virtually every driver does. Slow down, look in every direction, and if — and only if — the way is clear, you can usually proceed without posing any unnecessary risk to yourself or anyone else.

Bearing in mind, of course, that you’re still breaking the law.

But red lights are another matter.

I’ve been roundly criticized in the past for criticizing riders for running red lights. But the fact is, there is no rational excuse for failing to stop when required at a signalized intersection.

It’s the law. It makes all of us look bad when one us of doesn’t, as far too many drivers lump everyone on two wheels together and seem to lack sufficient discernment to make the mental calculation that just because one cyclist — or a hundred cyclists — break the law, that doesn’t mean we all do.

Let alone that most of them routinely break the law themselves, even as they swear at us for doing it.

And don’t give me the excuse that it’s safer than waiting at the intersection. I’ve been stopping for red lights for over three decades, and I’m still here.

It’s just a matter of knowing how to do it.

And as this week’s deaths make painfully clear, failing to stop is dangerous as hell.

Not to mention that if you do get hit after going through a stop sign or red light, you lose all liability protection — regardless of what the driver who hit you may or may not have been doing.

Go through a stop, you’re at fault.

Case dismissed.

It may not be fair. The driver could have been drunk or distracted, speeding or breaking the law in some other way. But none of that will matter to a jury.

As far as they’re concerned, you broke the law, it’s your fault. Period.

Some would even go so far as to consider a cyclist who ran a red in traffic suicidal.

And it certainly seems that way at first blush. Even riders who routinely go through reds usually know enough to stop, or at least slow down, when cars are coming.

But what if they don’t?

What if an inexperienced rider gets in over his or her head, trying to make it across a busy intersection he should have stopped at. Or finding himself riding too fast to stop, on a bike with no brakes, when the light changes with too little warning.

Even experienced riders make mistakes. It’s easy to get in over your head, make the wrong decisions in rapidly changing traffic conditions or overestimate your own skills.

It’s even easier for in experienced riders.

It took me years, if not decades, to master the Tao of riding on busy roads. And even then, I still make mistakes; fortunately, I’ve had the skills to get myself out of it.

So far, at least.

Beginning riders don’t.

Unlike when I grew up, there’s no training in bike laws and riding skills in our schools. There’s no official training programs for beginning cyclists, or any other established method of reaching out to young riders to say do this, not that.

Like don’t push the limits and get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of. And maybe it’s not smart to ride with no brakes, even if that is the trendy thing to do these days.

Instead, they learn by emulating their friends, who may have been riding longer, but have no more knowledge of even the most basic traffic laws than they do.

We assume that everyone is familiar with traffic laws because they’ve taken their test and gotten a driver’s license.

But many young riders — and even some older ones — don’t have a license, whether by choice or some other reason. And so they may have no working knowledge of the laws that govern our streets.

I’ve spoken with some who didn’t have a clue that their right to the road is governed by the same laws that restrict motor vehicles.

They actually don’t know that bikes are required to stop for stop signs and red lights, just like cars. That they have to signal their turns, even though many other cyclists and most drivers don’t. Or even that they’re required to use lights at night or to ride with traffic, instead of making their way up the wrong side like salmon on their way to spawn.

And we all know what happens to salmon once they spawn, right?

Because no one ever told them.

They haven’t been taught the laws that govern cycling because no one bothered to do it. And in that, we, as a society and a cycling community, have failed them.

Many motorists think the solution is to license and register cyclists, just like drivers are. I won’t waste your time explaining why that’s not the answer; others have made the same points before, anyway.

Maybe there should be some sort of state or school-sponsored bicycle certification training. Maybe riders should get a discount on car insurance or bike parts if they complete one or more of the League of American Bicyclist’s training classes.

Maybe it’s up to our local cycling groups to step into the breach and offer rider education; the LACBC recently voted to reestablish its Education Committee in an attempt to address this problem.

Or maybe its up to you and me to offer advice, even unsolicited, when we see a rider doing something dangerous. Even though experience says the response will be made with just one finger, or its vocal equivalent.

I don’t have the answer. I just know that we need to find it.

Because right now, too many beginning riders are forced to figure it out for themselves.

And failing.

A Hi-Viz approach to blaming — and trying to save — the victims

Growing up in Colorado, I quickly learned to wear my brightest attire when venturing into the woods during hunting season, lest someone mistake me for Bambi’s mother.

Not that we look the least bit alike.

But still, there was always the risk that some armed fool might sense movement, raise and fire without first determining just what the hell he was shooting at.

Even riding my bike, I had to worry about hunters mistakenly assuming that deer tend to travel at relatively high speeds on paved roads wearing spandex. And have spoked wheels instead of legs.

Things that should be readily apparent at a glance to even the most sleep deprived, drunken and/or inexperienced idiot with a high-powered hunting rifle. And it never ceases to amaze me just how many of those we’re willing to arm and send out into the world.

But every year, it seemed like one or more people would get shot just because they ventured out into the woods when the beer and blood lust was running high.

And almost without exception, it would be written off as just an accident.

After all, the shooter didn’t mean to kill anyone. Even if the victim would still be alive if the person with the gun had taken just a few more seconds to verify what he was shooting at before pulling the trigger.

Instead, the authorities would inevitably blame the victim for venturing out without high-visibility clothing, even though the hunters themselves were usually in camouflage gear.* Or just being outdoors in the relative wilderness, when anyone with a salt-lick of sense would know they just didn’t belong there.

Maybe you can see where I’m going with this.

Despite the requirement for a license, and a proliferation of hunter safety classes, it was still up to everyone else to stay the hell out of the hunters’ way, rather than on hunters not to shoot those on two legs instead of four.

After all, they’d suggest, you should know there are people with guns out there. And it’s up to you to stay the hell out of their way.

Or at least make sure they see you if you do.

Sort of like cyclists and pedestrians are expected to do everything short of setting off a thermonuclear device to get a driver’s attention.

No, seriously.

Don’t require drivers to pay attention to what’s in the road directly in front of them. Or improve infrastructure to help keep everyone safe.

No, the standard solution is to put the blame squarely on the potential victim, rather than on the ones capable of causing harm.

Or as former competitive cyclist and current OC attorney David Huntsman put it, it’s like handing out longer skirts to prevent sexual harassment.

It was David who forwarded me a link to a New Zealand story praising a local trucking company for handing out hi-vis vests to cyclists.

The article quotes Tony Gare, general manager of Icon Logistics, discussing a collision one of his drivers had with a dark-attired cyclist, who fortunately was only slightly injured.

“If he had been wearing high-visibility clothing instead, the crash might not have happened.”

There were many cyclists in Dunedin who did not wear the visibility gear, he said.

So Mr Gare bought several hundred high-visibility vests, at a cost of about $50 each, to give away to cyclists.

“If, at the end of the day, it’s going to save someone’s life, it will be worth it.”

Clearly, his heart is in the right place.

Even if his efforts could, perhaps, be better directed by improving training for his drivers, rather than getting local cyclists to dress like people hiking through a high-fire hunting zone.

Huntsman, however, is clearly not one to let a matter such as this lie. So he sent the following email to Mr. Gare.

Mr. Tony Gare
Icon Logistics

 Mr. Gare,

The referenced article came across in my alerts this morning here in California.

First I want to say that the purchase of those reflective vests is a nice gesture.

However, as a logistics firm, isn’t your organization better suited to assess and address the education and habits (and any deficiencies) of truck drivers?  I’m curious to know if your firm has taken any steps in that direction.

Of course it would be helpful if all cyclists and pedestrians dressed in day-glo.  But focusing on that aspect of accident prevention distracts from the other side of the equation – the motorists’ side.

Regards,

David Huntsman

Remarkably, the response came just a few minutes later.

Dear David

Thank you for your email regarding the Hi Vis Vests.

As a company Icon Logistics Ltd  is very proactive in its driver training and all safety matters whether it be on road or off. We have regular Training,  Health and Safety sessions, including those with the local enforcement agencies to keep our staff aware of their responsibilities in operating heavy vehicles.

On this occasion our most senior driver, plus the truck turning into the freight yard failed to see the cyclist because he was indistinguishable from the parked vehicles. This accident occurred on a heavy traffic bypass and an industrial area and as a result of this many of the business in the area have asked for changes in where people can park so turning vehicles have better visibility. While we can’t direct people where to ride, they also must take a degree of responsibility to ensure they can be seen and the choice of roads that they use.

Our General Manger, Tony, has kept in touch with the cyclist, to ensure he has had no further health issues, has replaced his bike and ensured he has the proper reflective clothing.

Regards

Glenda

 Glenda Kempton
Administration Officer

And a few hours later, this came in from Mr. Gare himself.

Hi David

Thanks for your e-mail but as far as training goes in this situation the cyclist was in a heavy transport area with-out any hi-viz and the driver concerned and all of our drivers to this point are well trained and equipped in all aspects of the heavy transport industry

Many Thanks for your response

Kind Regards

Tony Gare
General Manager
Icon Logistics Ltd

Evidently, there’s a punctuation shortage down there in Kiwi land.

But don’t get me wrong.

Like David Huntsman, I appreciate the gesture. Even more when it’s done on a more personal basis, simply because someone cares.

I’m also a firm believer in being as visible as practical, if not as possible. I make a point of riding where I can be seen by everyone else on the road, and lighting myself up like a Christmas tree after dark.

And I’ve learned over the years that what I wear makes a big difference in how well drivers see me. Bright reds, yellows and whites seem to result in far fewer close calls, while an otherwise good bright blue jersey seems to mean dodging cars all day.

I call it my cloak of invisibility because it somehow seems to make me disappear from drivers’ view.

But I draw the line at wearing fluorescent vests to ensure that those who should see me anyway actually do. Let alone that we don’t blend in with parked cars, not one of which I have ever seen that looked even remotely like a bike rider.

There is a point at which drivers must be held accountable for seeing other road users and operating their vehicles safely, without cyclists having to light themselves up with neon signs to point out their position on the road.

Just as hunters have an obligation not to pull the trigger until they know what the hell they’re shooting at.

……..

One quick suggestion for anyone who still hasn’t finished their holiday shopping.

L.A.’s own Pure Fix Cycles offers this very cool $1000 table made with their own Pure Fix Urban Forks and custom wheels, in your choice of frame and wheel colors. Or maybe you’d prefer one of their single speed/fixed gear bikes, starting at just $300 — each of which comes standard with front brakes, as well as optional rear brakes.

After all, if comes down to a choice of brakes or wearing a Hi-Viz vest, I’d rather err on the side of stopping.

*Whenever I see someone dressed in camo, I have to resist the urge to run up and say “I can totally see you, you know.”

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