Tag Archive for bike vs bike

Seriously, don’t be a two-wheeled Jerry Browning jerk, and your Morning Links

It’s bad enough when drivers pass far to close.

It’s another thing entirely when the danger comes from being buzzed by other bike riders who really should know better. Especially when there’s no damn reason for it.

In the first case captured in the above video, a rider blew by with no warning whatsoever, apparently  because he couldn’t be bothered to squeeze his brakes long enough to announce his presence and make a safe pass. Had I moved more than a few inches off my line — which would have happened as soon as I thought it was safe to pass the rider ahead — we would have collided.

And probably ended up beneath the cars to our left.

The second rider evidently felt the need to risk my safety by remaining firmly inside the frequently ignored solid yellow no-passing line, brushing by as close as humanly possible without making actual physical contact.

If I had even turned my head to look behind me, she would have hit me. She must have recognized my obvious skill and was confident in my ability to hold my line.

Right.

So let’s get this straight.

What passes in the peloton doesn’t play on the street. Or the bike path, for that matter, which tends to be over populated with the least skilled riders and pedestrians,.

If you’re going pass another human being — on a bike or otherwise — give them at least an arms-length passing distance, if not the full three feet you’d expect from a motorist.

If for any reason you can’t give sufficient passing distance or if there’s any danger of conflict, call if out before you pass. A simple “On your left” can avoid most problems, and is often, though not always, greeted with a thank you and a move to the right.

Which is exactly what I would have done if the woman on the bike path had just announced her damn presence.

And if the guy on the street had yelled it out before blowing by, at least I would have known not to move left, which I was about to do.

While I’m no fan of bike bells, even that helps by offering a friendly announcement that you’re there, if not where you’re going.

And lets everyone know an angel just got it’s wings.

Always pass on the left whenever possible, and never undercut a rider by passing in the door zone he or she is carefully avoiding. If a car door happens to swing open, it could knock you into them, and you could both end up under passing traffic.

Or better yet, just treat other riders the same way you want drivers to treat you. And simply don’t pass until it’s safe to do so.

Better to lose a few seconds off your Strava time than spend a few hours in the ER.

Or force someone else to.

Update: In the comments below, Chuck questioned whether the first rider was really as close as he seemed, noting he passed the rider in front of me at over an arms length.

While he goes by far too fast in the video to tell just how close he is, this still should give a better idea. Clearly, not as close as the near-shoulder brushing rider on the bike path, but still too close for safety, let alone comfort.

Especially at that speed.

Way too close for comfort.

Way too close for comfort.

………

Nice.

Some walking — or in this case, rolling — human scum used sleeping homeless people as props for BMX stunts in Downtown’s Skid Row.

I don’t care how much of a self-absorbed jackass you may be, show some respect for other human beings. Especially those less fortunate than you.

………

Abbott Kinney gets a pair of surprise bike corrals; LADOT Bike Blog offers full details on the design and construction, while Streetsblog says the city is taking applications for more. I expect rioting from parking-challenged Venice motorists over the loss of two spaces.

Even so, Flying Pigeon suffers from infrastructure envy.

Meanwhile, the needlessly embattled MyFigueroa project is gaining key support from neighborhood councils, and is due back before the city council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee any day. Hopefully, we’ll get some advance notice of the hearing so supporters can actually show up.

At least one candidate for Glendale city council supports bicycling.

Bike Long Beach invites you to join them for a low-speed Sunday morning bike ride to remember city leader and bike advocate Mark Bixby, killed in a plane crash three years ago Sunday. A more permanent memorial to Bixby is the city he helped transform, where a downtown cycle track has boosted bicycling 33% while reducing bike-involved collisions 80%.

Outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky looks at Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable; has it really been four years since so many cyclists showed up for the first one?

If you need inspiration, you’ll find it here, as the Orange County Register talks to a recumbent-riding Wounded Warrior who’s not letting cancer kick her ass. Thanks to the Register for sharing this one.

Riverside’s long-debated Brockton Ave road diet and bike lanes finally gets a final approval.

Five-foot wide bike lanes are coming to Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas, while green bike lanes are coming to a deadly intersection in Goleta.

More evidence that Caltrans is hopelessly locked in the auto-centric past as they propose widening Highway 1 to six lanes in Pacifica to possibly save 5 minutes drive time 20 years from now. But at least they did include bike-friendly 10-foot wide shoulders in the plan.

Does San Francisco’s MTA spend more on Post Its than bike projects?

More on the unanimous committee approval of AB 1532, which would suspend licenses and create minimum sentences for any hit-and-run.

Two Utah bike commuters were killed by a driver who apparently didn’t see them. No one will ever be safe on our roads until that’s an admission of guilt instead of a Get Out of Jail Free card.

An off-duty Chicago cop who drove away after hitting a cyclist gets one whole year probation and 30 days community service.

New York firefighters will ride 18-days from Ground Zero to the Navy Seal Museum in Florida, towing an I-beam from the World Trade Center.

Very cool bike murals from Buenos Aires. I wonder if I could fit an entire wall in my carry on? Then again, I have not idea how I’d get to Argentina to begin with.

An Ontario Canada triathlete gets $75,000 restitution for taking a beating from a road raging driver, yet, as usual, no jail time for his attacker.

Lots of people swear at cyclists, but this guy may have been going for the record as a road raging Brit driver is caught on video swearing at a cyclist 25 times in just 35 seconds.

Finally, stealing a bike is nothing unusual. Stealing a penny-farthing for a drunken Christmas Day ride home, on the other hand, is.

Friday’s ride, in which I met another bike rider the hard way

Okay, so I’m moving a little slow today.

August just hasn’t been my month as far as bike riding is concerned. Normally, I try to put in 100 to 150 miles a week this time of year, when increased fitness and summer weather usually combine for the year’s most enjoyable riding.

But various distractions have kept me off my bike much of the summer, to the point that I’ve averaged less than 30 miles a week for the past three weeks.

Part of that is due to last Friday’s limited ride, interrupted by a bike on bike collision on the bike path in Santa Monica, followed by a slow ride home with blood trickling down my leg.

Somehow, I failed to remember the alcohol swabs and bandages stashed in my seat bag. Or that the reason I shave my legs is precisely so bandages will adhere to them.

But that’s what happens when I break my own rules. 

First rule of thumb is to never ride the beachfront bike during the summer. And if I do, to do it in the morning when traffic on the pathway is at its lightest. 

But a late start meant a shorter ride than I had planned, while a lingering migraine suggested an easier route than the hill-filled one I’d penciled in earlier. Which led to the conclusion that an easy coast along the coast would be the best option to get at least a few miles in.

Then there’s my rule about avoiding the most crowded section of the pathway between the Venice and Santa Monica piers on Friday afternoons, when newly arrived tourists head straight to the beach, joining with locals who don’t appear to have been on a bike in years to form a rolling blockade and human obstacle course.

Don’t get me wrong. 

It’s not that they don’t have a right to be there, other than the chronically unenforced and inadequately marked bike-only sections. State law gives pedestrians a right to share the bike path — any bike path — anywhere there isn’t an alternative pedestrian walkway, such as the famed Venice Boardwalk, within a relatively few feet.

In fact, the newly restriped Santa Monica sections of the pathway include pedestrian walkways on either side of the bike path, though they aren’t adequately indicated as such.

It was a funny, but telling, moment at the most recent meeting of the LAPD’s bike task force when the subject of the beachfront Marvin Braude bikeway through Santa Monica and Venice came up. And the experienced bike cop next to me and I both said in unison that it was the single most dangerous place we ride.

Evidently, something about the presence of sand and sea air seems to disconnect the standard safety centers of the brain.

Or maybe it’s just the absence of sobriety that seems to go hand-in-hand with weekends at the beach.

Either way, it’s a risk I usually try to avoid. Except this time I didn’t.

Then there’s my third rule of thumb, which exceeds the standard allotment of opposable digits by roughly 50%, and forces me to use a finger in place of a thumb. Or borrow one from a total stranger, which seldom seems to be a good idea.

As an old school rider, I was taught to call it out whenever I pass another rider or pedestrian, with a simple “on your left” or “passing right” in the rare instance that the other person’s position makes that the safer option.

And yes, I know some people prefer bike bells. But a bell can only tell you a bike is present. Or an angel just got its wings.

Using my voice, I can tell them not only that I’m there, but that I am passing and which side I’m passing on.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that some people tend to get lost in their own world once they get to the beach. And even the most polite announcement can startle them.

So I’ll sometimes save my breath if I don’t think there’s any risk that they might move in front of me, or if I can give them at least the three-foot passing distance I’d expect from a motorist. Or if they’re wearing ear buds and aren’t likely to hear me anyway.

In this case, the bike path was just as crowded as you’d expect for a sunny summer Friday afternoon. And I was taking my time, both because of the crowds and my still aching head.

But even rolling far below my usual speed, I was still faster than the assorted beach cruisers and motley mountain bikes crowding the bikeway. So I’d wait patiently until there was a break in traffic coming the other way, then slide around the walkers and riders ahead of me, either calling it out as I passed or giving them as much room as I could.

And if the situation didn’t allow it, such as slowly working my way through the great mass of humanity jumbled before the skate park in Venice, I just didn’t pass until it was safe to do so.

It was an approach that got me safely, if slowly, through Venice Beach and well into Santa Monica, when I came upon a pair of casual cyclists riding slowly ahead.

So I moved onto the other side of the bike path, and was just deciding whether to call it out when the rider closest to me suddenly swung left, making a 90-degree turn directly in front of me.

I grabbed my brakes and swung left with him, but a collision was unavoidable.

We hit hard, my right impacting his left. Fortunately, we both managed to remain upright; somehow, though, I seemed to take the brunt of the impact. He was next to me in seconds, asking if I was okay and apologizing profusely, though he did say I should have called out that I was passing.

In retrospect, he was right. Although he turned before I had a chance to say something.

He and his bike seemed fine. Mine looked okay, other than a dropped chain.

On the other hand, I was pretty badly shaken, and both wrists hurt from holding the handlebars tightly at the moment of impact, but nothing seemed broken. Then there was a roughly two-square-inch abrasion inside my left knee, apparently from hitting the air pump I keep strapped to my frame.

The one I often find myself loaning to other riders after they run out of air cartridges or their cartridges fail to get the job done.

He seemed to expect me to be angry, but it was just one of those things. His failure to look before turning made a collision inevitable, but I could have done things differently, as well.

So we shook hands, and went our separate ways.

I probably shouldn’t have, though. My failure to even remember I had a first aid kit, let alone actually use it, was a pretty good indication I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I briefly debated continuing on my way before accepting that it probably wouldn’t be the best idea. Fortunately, I remembered yet another rule of thumb — after any collision or fall, you’re probably hurt more than you realize at the time, since injuries have a way of revealing themselves hours after the impact.

I have no idea how the other guy felt the next morning.

But I spent the weekend nursing a pair of jammed wrists and a stiff back. Not to mention a patch of knee missing its epidermis.

I’ll live.

All in all, I limped away — figuratively, anyway — in about as good a shape as I could have hoped under the circumstances. Had either of us hit the pavement, it might have been a different story.

But it serves as a reminder that the seeming safety of the bike path is an illusion. And you need to ride defensively every moment, because you never know when someone will do exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I did almost everything right.

And this time, it wasn’t nearly good enough.

The terrible tyranny of two-wheel tribal wear

One day last winter, I found myself riding Downtown to attend an early morning press conference.

And something I’ve learned in recent years is that the press likes to talk to people who look like their preconceived notions of a cyclist.

It doesn’t matter if the guy next to you is the head of a bicycling organization, a professional cyclist or someone who’s been riding for decades. If he or she is dressed in street clothes and you’re in spandex, you can expect the camera in your face.

Since there were things I wanted to say on the day’s subject, I put on my best road gear and set out on a rush hour ride to City Hall.

On the way, though, I noticed an interesting thing.

Despite the chilly early hour, there were a lot of other riders on the road.

Some, like me, were dressed in spandex. Many of whom nodded in my direction as they passed, acknowledging me as one of their own.

Others were clad in jeans or business attire, apparently on their way to work or school. And not one of whom seemed to take any notice of me, as if we were members of two separate species.

More interesting, though, was what happened later that same evening as the situation was reversed.

I had a business party to attend that night, starting just after working hours. And since it was located in an office building on Wilshire Blvd, in an area where parking is virtually non-existent — or unaffordable — during the evening rush, I concluded that riding was once again the most viable option.

So I threw on my jeans and a button-down shirt, along with a semi-professional looking jacket, and set out along the same route I’d taken earlier that day.

Except this time, the situation was reversed.

Many of the bike commuters I encountered threw a brief nod in my direction; a couple even struck up a conversation as we waited for red lights to change.

Yet the spandex-clad riders I passed hardly cast a glance in my direction. The way I was dressed marked me as a member of another tribe.

And that, my friend, is when it finally sank through my thick helmet-covered skull.

I was exactly the same rider on both the morning and evening rides. I was on the same bike and riding the same way. Let alone the same direction.

But I was seen in a completely different manner by different people, strictly because of what I was wearing.

The clothing we bike in isn’t just what feels comfortable as we pedal to our destination, or what will be appropriate once we get there.

It’s what connects us to others like us, identifying us as members of our own cycling tribe. And more importantly, what separates us from all the other self-selected cycling tribes, whispering — or sometimes shouting — in the unmistakable language of bicycle fashion, I’m not like you.

And probably don’t want to be.

Divide, and self conquer.

No wonder we can’t even present enough of a unified front to get the governor to sign a damn three-foot passing bill.

Too often we’ve seen the spandex crowd turn up their noses at the fixie riders in our midst. Or the cycle chic and citizen cyclists, to borrow a phrase or two from Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic fame, criticizing those who insist on donning specialized bicycling attire instead of regular street clothes, let alone helmets.

Or haute couture and drop dead heels, in some cases.

Then there are the women who wonder why they should have to dress to the nines just to ride a bike. The hipsters who wouldn’t be caught dead wrapped in a skin-tight logo-covered road jersey.

And the great mass of casual riders who just want to go for a bike ride, and don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Or even that there is a fuss.

Of course, there are reasons for what we wear.

When I first started riding, I saw no reason to wear anything other than the T-shirt and cut-off jeans I wore for any other physical activity.

Until a couple of more experienced riders explained that bike shorts and jerseys actually made for cycling would dramatically cut down on the wicked wind resistance that wore me out before I barely got going. Not to mention eliminating those aggravating sweat and chafing issues, while offering the support necessary to help ensure the existence of any potential future generations.

If you get my drift.

And so I rode for over twenty years; eventually the concept that I could ride in something else, even for a quick trip to the market or out for coffee, lost in the deep dark depths of bike days long past.

As my fellow cycling advocates and colleagues can attest, it took me a couple years of riding to various meetings — and the embarrassment of usually being the only one sitting through them just a stretchy microthread’s-width away from near nudity — before I worked up the courage to bike in regular clothes like they did. And dress for the destination rather than the ride.

It just seemed oddly foreign to me after all those years in spandex.

Just as it would to many fixie or casual riders to wear the brightly colored skin-tight attire most roadies wrap around themselves before they hit the road. Even if they would likely be far more comfortable on long rides, as I learned myself so many years ago.

Now I still wear spandex for long, fast rides demanding physical exertion. And jeans and casual shorts and shirts — some made for bicycling, some not — for transportation and more relaxed riding.

The bottom line is, clothes don’t make the bike rider.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how you ride, what you ride, where you ride, or what you wear. Especially not what you wear.

The only thing that really matters that you ride.

The rest is just details.

And once we finally figure that out, once we realize that the one thing that links us all together is more important than all our tribes and differences, we’ll be a social and political force no one can resist.

Not even Jerry Brown.

……..

On a related subject, Melissa Balmer of Long Beach-based Women on Bikes SoCal offers a must-read look at women, bicycling and cycle chic — and whether bike advocacy has to make room, not just for all the many types of women who already ride, but all those who might want to.

If we don’t agree with one and other’s approach could we step back and and try and understand where she is coming from rather than attacking first? Is there something we could learn from each other? Could we find the places where we agree and be cordial in our agreeing-to-disagree where we disagree? If we become known as a movement of great diversity yet united in our good will towards getting women and girls on bikes won’t we be much much stronger and powerful for it?

Seriously. It’s an important topic for anyone who cares about bike advocacy and reaching out to women — and potential bike riders — of all sorts. And not just because she mentions me in it.

So read it, already.

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