Tag Archive for Bike Summit

For one brief shining moment, détente between cyclist and motorist

Sometimes, it seems like there may actually be hope for these streets.

Just a day after the Mayor called for an end to L.A. car culture at Monday’s Bike Summit, I experienced an unusually positive interaction with a driver. Even if it was next door in Santa Monica.

I’d just crossed over 7th Street, riding in the San Vicente Blvd bike lane on my way to the coast. I was still accelerating, in a section where I usually hit about 25 mph, when an SUV went by on my left and immediately began slowing down.

That often means the driver is about to do something stupid. So I slowed my cadence and feathered my brakes; sure enough, shortly after passing, she cut in front of me and pulled to a stop at the curb.

I braked hard, then rolled to a stop next to her window.

She had a cell phone in her hand, and it quickly became clear that she had done the right thing — although in the wrong way — by pulling to the curb to take her call, rather than break the law against using a handheld phone while driving. Which made me a little more sympathetic than I might have been otherwise.

So when she rolled down her window, I told her as calmly as possible that it was very dangerous to cut in front of me like that, explaining that I could have rear-ended her.

Surprisingly, she wasn’t the least bit defensive. Instead, she listened quietly, then said simply “I’m sorry.”

I continued be saying that what she should have done was to pull in behind me, then move over to the curb only after I was out of the way.

She smiled, and said “Okay, sweetie. I will next time.”

I thanked her and we wished each other well, then she turned her attention back to her call while I continued on my way. And while I can’t speak for her, I left feeling a lot more hopeful about the relationship between cyclists and drivers than I have in a long time.

Although I could have lived without that “sweetie.”

………

More on L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Bike Summit:

London’s Guardian newspaper observes that the Mayor’s Road to Damascus conversion to bicycle advocacy is proof that God is a cyclist. And they have the good taste to quote yours truly.

LAist says cyclists are excited about 11th District Council Member Bill Rosendahl’s proposal for a three-foot passing law, but not so much about Mayor Villaraigosa’s call for a mandatory helmet law.

Streetsblog notes that helmets are not required for driving and walking, which both result in as much or more risk than bicycling.

Gary predicted this moment over a year ago, but thought he was joking; as usual, his photos are amazing, including a nice B&W shot of the LACBC’s Aurisha Smolarsky and your humble scribe.

The Bike District says the driver’s lack of intent in Villaraigosa’s accident doesn’t absolve him of responsibility.

The Source concludes that cyclists left with a favorable, but wait and see attitude; I’d say that pretty well sums it all up.

Still more Summit links at Streetsblog L.A.

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Gardena is offering a $10,000 reward in the hit-and-run death of pregnant cyclist Jennifer Costlow. Anyone with information should call Investigator Sergio Borbon at (310) 217-6135.

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Tonight, Good sponsors Moving Beyond Cars in celebration of L.A.’s alternative transportation; the event takes place from 7 to 10 pm Downtown at City National Plaza, 525 S. Flower, in conjunction with railLA, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and de LaB.

Also on tonight, the LACBC Board of Directors meets in the mezzanine at 634 Spring Street from 6:45 to 8:45 pm; as always, the meeting is open to the public.

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LADOT Bike Blog’s excellent survey of where it is and isn’t legal to ride on the sidewalk pedals down to the South Bay. LACBC celebrates a successful City of Lights Awards Dinner. Ten reasons for CicLAvia, with ten historic structures you’ll see on the way. The Bus Bench’s Browne Molyneux says one reason more women don’t bike is because they need to be able to pick up the kids. Claremont Cyclist gets results with the trash bins in the bike lane. An Oakland man is under arrest for the hit-and-run death of a bicycling German tourist; the SF Chronicle says it shows the need for better bike lanes.

The NY Times says Google’s bike map service isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad. NYPD is cracking down on Upper East Side cyclists. NYC will test a wireless bike share program. Now that New York is mapping pedestrian deaths, I’d suggest watching out for left turning drivers hopped up on testosterone; thanks to George Wolfberg for the links. A driver is arrested for turning a local park into a throughway in a deliberate attempt to run down cyclists; Boston Biker wonders about drivers who go into a rage over a little damage to their cars, but don’t consider the damage they’ll do when they hit someone. Turns out CNN’s Anderson Cooper is one of us, too. Houston’s Metro removes seats for cyclists; maybe L.A. Metro should give ‘em a call. The bare essentials for bike commuting. Firing back at the Seattle Times over negative coverage of a proposed road diet. A 16-year old Chicago boy is killed while riding to visit his mother; his parents say the collision was the result of a police chase. Villaraigosa isn’t the only mayor injured while cycling recently. Three-hundred bicyclists give a rolling send off to a Michigan cyclist who had ridden despite suffering from cerebral palsy. Ten years after being paralyzed from the chest down in a cycling collision, a Colorado cyclist continues to ride.

The reshuffle of the pro bike teams continues as Carlos Sastre opts for a new team. Twenty-three year old former Liquigas rider Gianni Da Ros sees his doping ban cut from 20 years to 4. Just days after L.A.’s Mayor calls for a mandatory helmet law, Aussie researchers call for its repeal, while a Canadian study shows that helmet laws don’t discourage ridership; Cyclelicious interviews one of the study’s authors. Now that’s what I call utility cycling. Cyclists and drivers trade blame in New Zealand; ignore the location and the story could have easily been written here.

Finally, three-hundred bicyclists give a final rolling send off to a Michigan cyclist who rode despite suffering from cerebral palsy, while a Colorado cyclist continues to ride, ten years after being paralyzed from the chest down in a cycling collision.

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa meets with cyclists, the world does not come to an end

Maybe he really did hit his head.

Something has to explain the seemingly overnight change in the Mayor’s support of bicycling.

His first four years in office, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa never let the word bicycle pass his lips in public. Or if he did, it occurred outside the hearing of the bike community, leaving many cyclists — myself included — to assume he was anti-bike.

Evidently, we were wrong.

It was just seven months ago that Villaraigosa captured the attention of L.A. cyclists by voicing support for CicLAvia, even if he didn’t actually use the word. And just a month since he stunned the entire city by falling off his bike and shattering his elbow.

No, it wasn’t the fall that shocked us — it was that he was even on a bike.

Former Richard Riordan and longtime bike advocate Alex Baum; all photos courtesy of George Wolfberg.

Now, less than a month later, bicyclists were the invited guests at the Mayor’s first Bike Summit — where he received a pair of training wheels, courtesy of cyclist and former Mayor Richard Riordan and BAC Chairperson Emeritus Alex Baum. And in two short hours, had made an impression, grudgingly perhaps, on a highly skeptical house of roughly 300 bicyclists.

What he said was less important than the mere fact that he stuck around for the full two hours and listened to a long line of cyclists voice their suggestions.

And their complaints.

So instead of the press event some of us feared — though there was a lot of that — it became an actual conversation.

The Mayor started things off by talking about his near-collision and discovery of the possibilities of cycling on last year’s trip to Copenhagen, and quickly morphed into the need to enforce the vehicle code and change the car culture on the streets of L.A.

With a panel that included LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson and Planning Director Michael LoGrande, among others, he addressed complaints ranging from Joe Linton’s remarks about the errors in the bike plan, to Jessica Meaney’s comment that “Roads are for everyone, not just the brave.”

Along with Brent Butterworth’s statement about drivers who think they know traffic law without truly understanding it. “People are driving around with laws in their heads that they made up.”

And please forgive me if I spelled anyone’s name wrong.

BAC Chair Glenn Bailey seemed to sum up the attitudes of audience members when he called on the Mayor and his staff to “safely accommodate bicycles on all streets, in all projects, without exception.”

The Mayor said Los Angeles was committed to building 40 miles of bikeways each year for the next 5 years, and 1600 over the next 25 — even though the city has built only 372 miles of bikeways in the previous 13 years. And responded favorably, but noncommittally, when cyclists asked for a biking equivalent of the Mayor’s 30/10 plan to speed up the pace of transit projects.

The CicLAvia group makes its presentation.

Villaraigosa responded to comments about CicLAvia with a promise to attend, and reiterated his support for a 10% set-aside for from Measure R funds for bike and pedestrian projects. He also said that he will soon film PSAs to promote bicycle safety, safe driving and helmet use, and will encourage local TV stations to play them.

However, he drew a round of boos when he said he’ll ask the state legislature to pass a mandatory helmet law, noting his doctors said he would still be hospitalized if he hadn’t been wearing his at the time of his accident. At least one audience member, BAC Vice Chair Jay Slater, agreed though, noting that the state already has a mandatory helmet law for minors. “Aren’t the brains of those over 18 just as valuable as those under,” he asked?

Mayor Villaraigosa agreed with 11th District Council Member Bill Rosendahl, the only Council Member who spoke — or appeared to be in attendance, for that matter — that they should work for a statewide three foot passing law, as well. Both also seemed to support the City Attorney’s plan for a civil anti-harassment law that would allow cyclists to sue drivers who assault, threaten or harass them, regardless of whether criminal charges are filed.

He assured the audience that his representatives will show up — and stay — for meetings of the city’s own Bicycle Advisory Committee, and that city staff and engineers will attend bike-related meetings when appropriate; if smaller cities like Glendale and Burbank can have staff attend meetings, he said, “so can we.” And that the city will look for opportunities to work with other agencies and jurisdictions to coordinate bicycle programs and capitalize on opportunities for funding.

On the other hand, he said the city had fixed potholes at three times the rate of the previous city administration, but that was going was going to slow down due to L.A.’s budget problems. Even though he acknowledged the risk that presented for riders.

Finally, the Mayor announced that he wanted to meet with cyclists again in a year to evaluate the city’s progress.

So is this the day that the Los Angeles finally turned the corner to become the bike-friendly city it always should have been?

Probably not.

Don’t get me wrong. This was huge, and hugely successful.

But there’s still a lot of work to do. And Mayor Villaraigosa still needs to demonstrate that his support goes beyond mere words and meetings, and will lead to the genuine action and hard choices that will make a difference on our streets and for our safety.

But it’s a start.

After five years in office, the Mayor is finally talking to us.

More importantly, he actually seems to be listening.

The Mayor and other panelists actually seemed to listen, but will it result in real change or more talk?

You can hear my comments about the Bike Summit, along with a brief interview with the Mayor, by downloading the podcast of Monday’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle on 89.3 KPCC.

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At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Villaraigosa said that he’d just received word that a bicyclist had been killed in the San Fernando Valley Monday morning. So far, I haven’t been able to find any information to confirm that report. If you have any information, let me know.

Welcome to the dawn of a new day for L.A. cyclists. Or not.

This could be one of the biggest days in L.A. bicycling. Or just a colossal waste of time.

Monday morning, L.A. cycling’s new BFF, L.A. Mayor Antonio “Bionic Elbow” Villaraigosa, is hosting his quickly arranged Bike Summit at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza.

In just a few short weeks, Villaraigosa has gone from barely mentioning the word bicycle, to actually riding — and falling off — one. And now, according to a story by the Associated Press, he’s become a newly minted advocate of bike safety and cyclists’ rights.

Villaraigosa says the city needs to invest in bicycling infrastructure and focus on traffic safety enforcement to make streets safer for cyclists.

“We also have to have a cultural paradigm shift,” Villaraigosa said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We have to recognize that even in the car capital of America, drivers have to share the road.”

The real test, tough, will be what happens in the Metro Board Room on Monday and in the weeks and months that follow.

Hopefully, the Mayor will seize the opportunity to begin a real engagement with the cycling community, show some genuine leadership and start a two-way conversation that will benefit both bicyclists and the community at large.

Or he could turn it into just another press event, pop in to make a brief statement and get his picture taken with cyclists, then duck out to deal with some “unanticipated crisis” or another.

One approach will win him a lot of new friends, yours truly included. And finally set this car-clogged city on a path towards complete streets and greater livability.

The other will leave a roomful of very angry people demanding an end to the sort of lip service that has too long been employed to buy us off for yet another few years.

Because we’re not going to settle for that any more.

Villaraigosa didn’t ask to be cut off by a careless cab driver, making him the unintended poster boy for everything that’s wrong with L.A. bicycling, and giving him a bully pulpit to push for change on our streets.

But it happened, he is and he does.

The question is, what is he going to do with it?

Larry Mantle’s AirTalk program may host a discussion of the Bike Summit after the 11 am conclusion of the Summit on 89.3 KPCC if they can make the necessary arrangements.

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Wilbur goes on a road diet, and gets bike lanes — along with the long-promised lanes on Reseda Blvd. Finding a faux fur bike on Abbot Kinney. Bicyle Fixation challenges L.A. to sign up for the future of wayfinding. San Francisco challenges Portland and Long Beach to a bike-friendly smackdown. The Times looks at the Black Hawk Co bike ban, where gambling tour buses own the roads and bikes are banished; Chewie offers the city manager’s email address for anyone who wants to weigh in and threaten to do your gambling elsewhere. After Lance pulls out, Levi Leipheimer sets a new record in winning the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Rolling in the vanguard of the vast bicycle conspiracy. A North Carolina newspaper says danger lurks at every turn, and never ride at night; a Michigan lawyer offers much better advice. Bicyclists have to obey the law too, but we can’t control other riders who break it. Then there’s the Alabama driver who says cyclists are the real danger on the road; yeah, we’re the ones who kill nearly 40,000 people every year. A cyclist says helmets aren’t the key to safety, drivers are; a New Zealand study shows head injuries dropped before the mandatory helmet law went into effect. Riding the Continental Divide from Alaska to Argentina, and waking up to guns more than once. Jan Ullrich withdraws from public life, but not because he lost a court case over the Operacion Puerto doping scandal. Purple Harry’s eco-friendly bike floss. A Toronto cyclist dies a month after a solo helmetless collision. Britain’s Cambridge United Football Club installs bike parking to encourage fans to ride to the matches.

Finally, a Brit cyclist moves to a new town and finds himself on trial for riding naked, something his old neighbors evidently didn’t object to, though his ex did.

Brentwood Grand Prix, City of Lights Awards Dinner and Villaraigosa’s Bike Summit

It’s going to be a very busy month on the local bike front.

First up is the free Chinatown Summer Nights in Downtown’s Chinatown district from 5 pm to midnight every Saturday in August, with DJs, food trucks, and cultural and cooking demonstrations, among other activities; free bike valet courtesy of LACBC.

Sunday features the Brentwood Grand Prix on San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood, sponsored by Herbalife and Velo Club LaGrange, among others. Races take place all day, starting at 7 am, with the final race scheduled to finish shortly after 4 pm; categories range from kids to masters to Cat 1 racers. You’ll also find a bike and fitness expo, with a free bike valet provided by the very busy LACBC.

Learn to fix your bike from 4 to 8 pm on Tuesday the 10th at Coco’s Variety Store, 2427 Riverside Drive.

On Wednesday the 11th, the third Metro Bike Roundtable takes place at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza Downtown. Friday was the last day to RSVP, but you may still be able to beg your way in.

The following day, Thursday, August 12th, the LACBC host the 1st Annual City of Lights Awards Dinner at the Maldef Building, 634 S. Spring Street. Tickets are still available.

The Mayor’s rapidly thrown together Bike Summit is scheduled for Monday, August 16 from 9 am to 11 am at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza.

On August 18th, Good sponsors Moving Beyond Cars to celebrate L.A.’s alternative transportation, in conjunction with railLA, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and de LaB. The event takes place from 7 to 10 pm at City National Plaza, 525 S. Flower, Downtown.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art hosts the bike-centric Cause for Creativity: Tour da Arts, vol. 2, on August 22, 2010; activities include spoke card workshop, a sold-out bike tour, and closing party.

Streetsblog LA resumes regular publication on Thursday, August 26; the night before, Damien will be hosting a re-launch party and fundraiser starting at 7 pm on Wednesday the 25th at St. Andrews Lutheran Church, 11555 National Blvd.

In the category of non-biking but fascinating, a 25th Anniversary walking tour of sites associated with the infamous Night Stalker takes place on August 29th.

And looking further down the road, New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat hits town for the first time on Saturday, October 23rd. The following day, Sony sponsors a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon; they just need to figure out a way to include bikes in it.

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I met with a couple of very pleasant writers this past week. Sarah Amelar and Jon Riddle are collaborating on a family friendly guide to Where to Bike in Los Angeles. If you have any favorite riding routes or biking destinations you’d like to share, or any tips, stories, secrets or other recommendations for cycling in the City of Angeles — like watch out for cabs on Venice Blvd, especially if it’s your first ride since becoming mayor — they invite you to email them at wheretobikeLA@gmail.com.

And keep your cameras ready; they’re planning a photo contest for shots to be included in the book a little later this year.

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Gary rethinks bike routes and lane position. Damien confesses his role in the UN bike share plot. A Long Beach council member looks at the city’s bike share plans. George Wolfburg forwards a story of bike on bike crime in Sacramento. San Francisco is finally freed from the bike injunction in a case that absurdly argued that building bikeways would increase air pollution. Do you stop for a red light at the top of a T intersection, or do you go? Personally, I stop, but I seem to be in the minority. Mad Men actor John Slattery rides a bike in a sharp suit. The League of American Bicyclists updates the fight against bike bans in Black Hawk CO and St. Charles County MO. Can’t we all just get along on the roads? A call for art that can be thrown from bikes, as opposed to at them.  If I’d just moved a little quicker, I could have owned my own bike race and even had Lance race in it. Bicycling’s Alex Steida offers tips on how to stay safe in traffic. Yes, bicyclists have to overcome a bad image and obey the rules, but maybe a more nuanced look is called for. Charleston police finally conclude that the driver was at fault, and that an expert cyclist did not make a suicide swerve in front of an oncoming SUV. Four annoying bike trends, including Cycle Chic, Floyd Landis, expensive Dutch bikes and backlash against the Fixerati.

Finally, a Wisconsin DA recommends ticketing a driver who hit and killed a cyclist for violating the state’s three foot passing law; honestly, I don’t even know where to start.

See you at the Bike Summit

I’ll be honest. I didn’t think I’d be attending this weekend’s Bike Summit.

Not that I didn’t want to, you understand. But my weekends are reserved for spending time with my lovely wife (who I just happened to meet exactly 16 years ago today). Which is why you don’t see me on weekend rides, however much I might want to be there.

But then Damien asked me to be part of this panel.

Suddenly, I had a perfect excus…uh, valid reason to attend — one that even a non-riding spouse couldn’t find fault with. Besides, I’ll make it up to her. Honest.

But frankly, this is important.

This city has long had a large number of cyclists, myself included for the last few decades. And a large number of cycling groups and organizations, from La Grange and the Wheelmen (I’ve really got to get around to adding them to my links over there) to the LACBC and C.I.C.L.E. Not to mention the Ridazz and Socal Bike Forums.

Just to name a few.

But it’s only over the last year or so that these disparate voices have started to coalesce into a political movement. And that riders — or ridazz, if you prefer — have come to realize that if we want things to get better for SoCal cyclists, we’re going to have to do something about it.

And we can do a lot more by working together than we can just bitching about it on our bikes. Or on our blogs.

So I’m really looking forward to it. And plan on doing a lot more listening than talking, because there’s a lot to learn.

I’m also looking forward to meeting some of the people attached to all those links over there. Along with some of the people who visit this site on a semi-regular basis, for reasons I will never understand. But for which I am eternally grateful.

Which brings up a question.

What would you like me to discuss during my part of the presentation? Is there anything that you been dying to know about biking or blogging, L.A. politics — or surviving beachfront bee and massive hematomas, for that matter.

Because I’d much rather discuss something you find fascinating than just blather on in my own inimitable manner.

 

Nate covers yesterday’s Pre-Bike Summit meeting. An Iowa cyclist takes other riders to task for opposing the state’s Bike Safety Bill. Isn’t it time we got one of those, too? Cyclists in Toronto deliver nearly 6,000 signatures to city hall demanding a new cross-town bikeway. Our own Rearview Rider echoes that in calling for a 4th St. Bikeway right here in L.A. Arizona bucks the trend towards common-sense revisions of bike safety laws by refusing to allow rolling stops in their state. Looks like almost everyone is getting into the bike sharing, even if our own city can’t figure out how to do it. Finally, Gary barely dodges after-dark joggers in the bike lane.

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