Tag Archive for Boulevard Sentinel

Teenage cyclist loses leg in collision, 3-foot passing law awaits Brown’s veto, and an 8-year old PCH bike reporter points a finger at Caltrans

We’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s not waste any time.


In still more tragic news, a teenage Long Beach girl loses a leg, and nearly both, when her bike is struck by a Lexus and she’s pushed through a plate glass store window Monday afternoon.

According to the Long Beach Post, the girl was riding to the beach with her adult nephew when the Lexus allegedly ran a red light and struck another vehicle. The collision caused the Lexus to veer into the riders, who were standing with their bikes waiting for the red light to change.

Both riders were struck, though the other rider suffered less serious injuries.

In a sign of just how trivially traffic laws and dangerous drivers are treated, the driver was cited and released.

Meanwhile, his or her victim has been sentenced to a lifetime on one leg.


AB 184, which would add one year to the statute of limitations for prosecutors to file charges once they identify a suspect in hit-and-run cases, moves forward in the state Senate.

Meanwhile, California’s third attempt at passing a three-foot passing law once again sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, awaiting his signature — or perhaps a chance to veto it a third time. Texas Governor Rick Perry is the only other governor to veto a three-foot bill, and he only did it once.

There is simply no reason left to veto this watered down bill, after every objection Brown expressed to the previous versions has been addressed or removed.

So when if he vetoes it once again, I hope he’ll be honest with us and say he just doesn’t like bikes.


Opus the Poet’s Witch on a Bicycle has long been one of my favorite bike-related websites, tracking cycling collisions and other bike news from around the world — and offering advice on how to avoid them yourself.

The collisions, not the news.

What many readers may not realize, though, is that he himself was briefly a bicycling fatality, brought back to life only by the miracle of modern medicine.

And, as he movingly explains, as a different person than he was before. Not necessarily better or worse, but very different.

It can be a damn long road back from a devastating collision, and not everyone has the courage to do it. He did, and does.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I admire that guy.


Just heartbreaking.

Some despicable low life has stolen the bike that would been used by a San Pedro man in the cycling portion of last June’s Redondo Beach Triathlon — if he hadn’t died of a heart attack in the swimming leg that proceeded it. His adult son had been planning to ride the yellow Specialized Allez in next year’s race in his father’s honor.

If the schmuck who took it has any human decency left, he’ll put it back where he found it. If not, hopefully we can find some room for a lengthy stay behind bars for him.


First the good news about the news, then the bad.

In a must-watch news report, an eight-year old journalist reports on Caltrans’ dangerous installation of K-rail along the shoulder of north/westbound PCH above Malibu.

The concrete barrier, installed in response to a recent brush fire in the area, dangerously forces riders in front of high speed traffic on a bend in the roadway. Funny how a child has a better sense of bike safety than the state Highway Department charged with keeping us all safe.

That is their job, isn’t it?

Then again, a group of riders recently took the lane on PCH instead of hugging the shoulder. And declared it the best bike lane in the world.


Yellow journalism lives, as the anti-bike publisher of NELA’s Boulevard Sentinel accuses the LACBC of planning to pad the planned Eagle Rock bike count on September 14th.

Tom Topping, who has led a vociferous, if somewhat biased, opposition to planned road diet and bike lanes in Northeast LA, writes that a planned Sept. 14th bike safety class in Eagle Rock, as well as additional classes in Glendale and Pasadena, exist only so the Coalition can get unsuspecting participants to ride past the Eagle Rock bike count location scheduled for the same day.

Never mind that the two events are completely unrelated, or that the planned route for the Metro-sponsored safety classes go nowhere the bike count location. Or that the dates and times for the citywide bike count co-sponsored by the LACBC and Los Angeles Walks are the same for every neighborhood in the LA area, regardless of whether they face opposition from a local newspaper publisher intent on keeping bike lanes from besmirching his neighborhood.

Of course, by calling advance attention to this paranoid conspiracy theory, he’ll later be able to claim that he stopped the Coalition from cheating on the count when the class participants don’t go anywhere near where they never going to go in the first place.

Just like I can keep tigers away by snapping my fingers.

No, really. Haven’t seen one yet.


Somewhere in between those two journalistic efforts, the Los Angeles News Group’s Summer of Cycling comes to a disappointing end.

The parent group of the Daily News, Press-Telegram, Daily Breeze, et al, finishes its short examination of bicycling in the Los Angeles area with a positive look back at the last 20+ years. Along with unexamined — and unchallenged — readers comments, including a call for every bicyclist to ride facing traffic.

I kid you not.

And a “can’t we all just get along” summation of the lessons learned in their feeble efforts over the past few months. One that mistakenly says bike riders must dismount and walk at crosswalks, ignoring state law that, confusing though it may be, allows bicyclists to ride along crosswalks.

The LAPD’s current interpretation of that law is that bike riders can ride in the crosswalk as long as they go in the direction of traffic; ignoring the bi-directional nature of both crosswalks and the sidewalks of which they are an extension.

Los Angeles cyclists and drivers could have both benefitted from an in-depth examination of the issues facing local cyclists and the impact of bikes on our communities. Instead, we got a series that barely skimmed the surface, offering less depth than the investigative efforts of a typical high school newspaper.

They apparently didn’t even contact any of the many bicycling advocates and city officials fighting for greater safety, acceptance and improved infrastructure for bicyclists on SoCal streets. Any series on local cycling that doesn’t mention Long Beach’s Charlie Gandy, CICLE or the LACBC, or examine the progress in Long Beach or Santa Monica, just to name a few, is a failure from the outset.

If this is the face of LA journalism, count me out.


I’ve always wondered how any bike rider — or anyone else — could get hit by a train; a new Metro video dramatically drives it home. The Source talks with bike commuting LADOT employee Jon Overman, who helped the city score a grant for 43 miles of new bike lanes; when I started this blog, I don’t think most of the city’s traffic planners and engineers knew what a bike was, let alone actually rode one. LA’s city council takes a big step towards livability by voting to cap the 101 Freeway in Downtown LA with a park. A call for entries for Ghost Bikes of LA, a multi-media exhibition exploring the ghost bike phenomenon, hosted by red35 yellow#7. LAist offers tips for drivers and cyclists on how to survive around one another. Gary Kavanagh offers his input on the planned redesign of Santa Monica’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGO); loss of parking is a concern. A September 15th ride around the Santa Monica Airport is planned to consider its future after the city’s agreement with the FAA expires in 2015. Ten reasons to complete the survey for the Malibu PCH Safety Study. Pasadena police arrest two suspects for knocking a cyclist off his bike in an attempted robbery. The Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition is hosting a barbeque on Saturday, Sept. 21st to thank everyone for their support.

Cycling in the South Bay writes movingly about fallen Newport Beach rider Debra Deem. Four hundred competitors take part in the inaugural Temecula Grand Prix. A Cayucos CA driver is under arrest after allegedly running down two cyclists, killing one and critically injuring the other while under the influence; she already had an outstanding warrant for reckless driving, but apparently was allowed to remain on the road until she succeeded in killing someone. In a case that sounds like a surreal scene from a David Lynch movie, a Stockton man riding with his son is wacked eight times with a cane by a 20-something Asian man. Petaluma brothers repair bikes for the homeless. Bike riders go just partway on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

Twenty-nine riders have been named to the US World’s team. Family members say ‘70s cycling legend Dale Stetina is showing improvement. This is why you always carry ID with you on your bike, as an unidentified rider is killed in Wyoming. Eight months later, not a single citation has been issued under the new Dallas vulnerable road user law. A Lincoln NE bike rider ignores his injuries to aid the driver of the SUV that hit him. An Arkansas driver faces charges for the alleged distracted driving collision that took the life of a high school student on a cross country bike tour. Chicago’s bike friendly mayor shows just how friendly he is by aiding a rider who was injured in a collision. Evidently, she’s a Ramones fan, as an Ohio woman proceeds to beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah, after a 14-year old bike rider hits her in the face when she yelled an obscenity at him from her car; both were — deservedly — cited for assault. A New York state man is charged with hit-and-run after a road rider is found dead on the side of a street Sunday morning. New Jersey cracks down on New York bike riders. Boston wants to be the nation’s leading city for bicycling. If you think there’s been an increase in road raging drivers, you’re probably right. Florida confronts the state’s well-deserved killer reputation with protected and buffered bike lanes; it comes too late to help a tandem-riding couple critically injured by a hit-and-run driver.

A Vancouver area man is arrested in a fatal hit-and-run after his license plate is found next to the victim’s body; passersby tried heroically to save the victim’s life before paramedics arrived. Protesters surround the UK Parliament to protest cycling conditions; MPs respond by voting to Get Britain Cycling. Could a new London building be the ultimate weapon in the war on cars? Spandex — or rather, Lycra — clad thieves simply ride off on high-end bikes. A big hearted Liverpool cop teams with Walmart to replace a boy’s stolen bike. Clearly, hit-and-run is not just an LA problem. Tour de France riders live an average of 6.3 years longer than the general population; maybe because they get all the good drugs. Formula 1 star saves unpronounceable Spanish Euskaltel Euskadipro cycling team. New Varibike can be pedaled with feet or hands. A teenage Delhi boy is killed in a fight over bicycling courtesy; seems needlessly rude if you ask me. A young girl’s collarbone is broken in a collision with an Aussie cyclist on a shared pathway.

Finally, what it’s like to live in a town so bike friendly, even the chef at your soon to be ex-favorite restaurant can recognize a bike part in your food. You can now ride your bike up a tree. And if you’re going to walk off with the bike you just stole — complete with U-lock still attached to the rear wheel — don’t cross against the light.

Malibu study suggests PCH safety improvements; a NELA paranoid bike lane conspiracy theory

Lots of news to wrap up the work week.

No, seriously, don’t take note of the perfect summer weather that finally arrived in LA this week. You’ve got important things to do. And you can live without riding your bike for another day.



UCLA professor Donald Shoup would be proud.

The nation’s parking meister has long argued against the high cost of free parking. Now a new Malibu safety study seems to be taking him seriously, suggesting parking meters along PCH could improve safety by reducing the problems with drivers looking for free parking.

I like it.

The study also recommends putting east/west bike lanes along the full length of the 21-mile city to get cyclists out of the way of high-speed traffic. Although someone should tell them that sharrows are not bike lanes.

You can read the study here, and weigh in with your own thoughts online through September 17th; thanks to Paiwei Wei for the link.


Anti-NELA bike lane activist Tom Topping writes in his Boulevard Sentinel newspaper that he’s being smeared by bike advocates — and oddly, KPCC’s Larry Mantle. I listened to the Airtalk program he refers to when it aired last month; actually, I though Larry was going easy on him. And having appeared on Larry’s program, I can’t say I detected a bit of pro or anti-bike bias, though word is he’s a car guy at heart.

Then again, it does make for a damn good paranoid conspiracy theory if bike shop owners and public radio hosts are all on the city payroll to ram through “vehicle removal plans” for a fast buck.

Though I’m not exactly sure who profits from road diets and bike lanes. Except, of course, for the businesses and residents who reside alongside them.


Evidently, I wasn’t the only one to host a Bike Talk program on Tuesday. Flying Pigeon’s Josef Bray-Ali — the unnamed bike shop owner in the above conspiracy theory — hosted a discussion touching anti-bike UN paranoia, billionaires and bikes, and measuring the success of bike projects, among other topics.


ABC’s 20/20 program takes a look at LA’s hit-and-run epidemic, which the LA Weekly takes sole credit for uncovering; I seem to recall a long list of bike advocates who have been raising the alarm for years, but what do I know? Culver City hosts the annual bike-friendly Fiesta La Ballona this weekend. The comment period for the new Union Station master plan has been extended through the end of this month. Santa Monica will hold a free festival next month to preview the planned MANGo Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway; for the sake of fairness, I hope they also have a WOMANGo greenway in the works. Santa Monica’s Bike Center will try to help the city’s businesses become more bike friendly. Sunday will see a Kidical Mass ride in Chinatown. Metro and CICLE team up to offer three free community bike rides in the LA area in the next three months. County Supervisor Gloria Molina joins with the LACBC and LA County Parks and Recreation to hold a free East LA Bicycle Ride on Saturday, Sept. 7th. Ride Pablove Across America will hold an LA fundraising ride in the Valley on October 12th. Okay, so it’s not a bike race, but proceeds from the October 20th Loco Motion 10K Run will benefit the LACBC in honor of fallen cyclist Marisela Echeverria, killed while riding on PCH last year. Red5 Yellow7 will host a workshop on how to choose the right bike on September 9th. The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition will hold its first official meeting Saturday. Incycle Bike Shop says they’re having their biggest sale of the year. Bike Long Beach explains when you can really take the lane.

Laguna Beach moves towards complete streets while trying to move bike riders off PCH; maybe the city should consider a Roman role model. Irvine is now officially bike-friendly, but that’s about all you’ll learn thanks to the OC Register’s draconian paywall. A San Diego writer proposes using the city’s unpaved canyons for bike superhighways. A bicyclist gets her bike back, thanks to a door-to-door wildfire evacuation; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up. Yet another holier-than-thou Napa bike rider says she obeys the law and rides courteously, but those damn speeding spandex-clad cyclists should stay the hell off the streets.

AAA says American drivers are growing less concerned about behaviors that could kill you. Biking improves employee productivity. The firing of Serotta’s founder takes some of the soul out of American framebuilding. I’ve been to Maui’s Haleakala volcano, and would not want to ride a bike off the edge of it. A sidewalk riding Las Vegas cyclist is killed in an apparent SWSS. Bicycle tourists are a major source of revenue in Arizona. It takes a village to capture a Longmont CO bike thief. BMC’s Tejay van Garderen takes the leader’s jersey in the USA Pro Challenge. A 74-year old MA pastor was murdered with a hammer while riding home on his bike. Needless to say, the New York cabbie who severed the leg of a British tourist earlier this week blames the bike rider who tried to warn him, as well as the city’s bike lanes; the Daily News reveals the bike rider may not be a nice person, but fails to note what the hell does that has to do with the wreck. Those NYC bike lanes may be key to outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy. Citi Bike rides the subway; New York bike share riders may ride drunk, but at least they don’t black out. Even a Philly bike cop can be a victim of hit-and-run. Is it time to end the longtime Share the Road campaign in Delaware — and everywhere else, for that matter?

British cycling star Bradley Wiggins calls for making helmet use mandatory; how about making it mandatory for cars to not hit bicyclists, instead? Volvo’s new cyclist detection system wins the UK’s award for best car safety system. Edinburgh is the latest city to drop speed limits to 20 mph to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Queensland, Australia cyclists could get a minimum 1-meter passing distance, maybe more in high speed areas.

Finally, repeat after me: If you have two bags of meth stuffed in the tubes of your bike, stop for the damn stop signs, already. And a car crashes into a San Fernando Valley post office; witnesses report the building swerved into the car’s path and wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Fairness and objectivity go out the window in NELA newspaper’s fight against North Figueroa bike lanes

So much for fairness.

Or facts.

A local NELA newspaper offers a misguided editorial disguised as news, arguing against proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa Blvd (upper right corner; click to enlarge).

Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone who takes a stand I may disagree with.

Granted, I may get a little hot under the collar at times, but my attitude is they have as much right to their opinion as I do to mine. And I can learn more from people who don’t agree with me than I can from those who do.

However, just because you own a newspaper doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.

In this case, the writer, Tom Topping, claims — among many other highly questionable assertions — that studies show bicyclists are 12 times more likely to have a fatal collision than someone in a motor vehicle. Even though the studies I’ve seen say you are far more likely to die behind the wheel than riding on two.

In fact, your lifetime risk of dying in a car is 58 times greater than on a bike. Meanwhile, a 1993 study shows that, even adjusted for comparable time spent driving and riding, you have almost twice as much risk of dying from driving as from bicycling.

Needless to say, he doesn’t offer any support for his claim.

He also suggests that bikes represent just 2% to 3% of traffic — again, not citing a source — so we should only be entitled to 2% to 3% of the roadway, apparently willing to relegate us to a strip 1.1 to 1.65 feet wide.

For both directions, that is, not each way.

And he makes the absurd assertion — again, without any evidence to support it — that bike lanes on Figueroa will add a full hour to an average commute. Never mind that the much lower delays projected by LADOT are worst-case projections that are unlikely to actually occur, let alone mutate into the automotive horror show he projects.

No, far easier to simply make numbers up to support his NIMBYist anti-bike argument.

Of course, he insists he couldn’t be anti-bike, as he trots out the same claim found in virtually every anti-bike or bike lane screed, because he is a bike rider himself. Yet at the same time, calls those who created a study showing no harmful effects to local businesses as a result of the York Blvd bike lanes — one he calls “obviously slanted” — “pro-bicycle fanatics.”

Actually, the carefully controlled study was conducted by a UCLA researcher as part of his class work, with support from the LACBC and funding from industry trade group Bikes Belong.

If he thinks those are fanatics, I know a number of far more rabid bike riders I could introduce him to.

And never mind that studies in other cities support that finding, concluding that rather than harming local businesses, bike lanes actually result in increased business.

Then again, his style of riding may hint at one likely reason for his opposition to bike lanes, even as he reluctantly admits that bike lanes increase safety.

Additionally, safety studies show that while a bicyclist is 1200% more likely to have a fatal accident (see above) than a motorist, bike lanes make it only 30% safer (again, no source cited)*. So, instead of being 12 times more likely to die, a bicyclist is only 8 times more likely to die, a small gain to consider when the specter of removing motorist lanes comes up. (To use a bike lane you have to trust that motorists will look out for you — something I cannot bring myself to do when I am on two wheels. I always ride like I am invisible, never assume anyone can see me and am therefore 99% safe at all times)

*Comments in italics mine

Personally, I’d call a 30% reduction in fatalities a huge improvement.

Never mind that every single study I am aware of shows that bike lanes improve safety for bicyclists, as well as others on the road, motorized or not — cutting injury risk as much as 50% with a simple painted lane, and 90% on protected bike lanes.

He is right to suggest it’s best to assume drivers don’t see you when you ride.

But to conclude that cyclists are less safe in bike lanes flies in the face of all available evidence. And once again, he fails to provide any evidence to support his bizarre claim that assuming no one can see him reduces his risk on the road to just 1%.

If Topping or anyone else can provide a valid study supporting that assertion, I’d like to see it.

And in an all-too-tired refrain, he concludes by complaining about the lack of outreach for a bike plan that was adopted over two years ago, following more than a year of public comment.

So why does it suddenly become our problem when other people have had their heads in the sand for over three years, rather than engaging in what was a very public and high profile process?

Unfortunately, this is what too often passes for local journalism in the debate over bikes, with no hint of objectivity or fairness. When one local business owner on North Figueroa called to complain about the inaccuracies and lack of objectivity in Topping’s story, he was told to “buy your own newspaper.”

He’s got a point.

It’s his newspaper, and he can print whatever he wants, regardless of facts or fairness.

Just like the big metropolitan dailies do.

Well, some of them, anyway.


Long-time L.A. bike advocate Richard Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, has started a petition calling on Governor Jerry Brown to sign a three-foot passing law to make up for the two he inexplicably vetoed.

You’ll see my name right there as signee number two.

Please join me in signing it, and forward it to every bike rider you know. Let’s let our governor know we’re not going to stand by and allow him to needlessly risk our lives and safety on California streets.


This is why police investigators need specialized training in analyzing bike collisions.

Utah authorities say that after a 10-year old boy riding on the shoulder of a highway was passed by a semi-truck, he rode into the traffic lane where he was hit and killed by a second semi-truck.

A far more likely explanation is that the first semi passed too close at too high a speed, sucking the boy into the truck’s slipstream and onto the roadway, into the path of the trailing truck.

But only someone who has experienced the terrifying power of that kind of slipstream when riding — or been trained to look for it — would understand that.


Good news for distracted drivers, as Volvo designs the world’s first second cyclist detection system to recognize and automatically brake for bike riders in the car’s path; the first such system is called “eyes,” which come as standard equipment on every driver.

And notice how they assume it’s the rider who will swerve into the car’s way, and not the other way around?


Note to Redlands Daily Facts: It’s good that Redlands is getting more bikeways. But sharrows aren’t bike lanes, and bicyclists already have the right to use the full lane in many, if not most, situations; the presence or absence of sharrows doesn’t change that.


Damien Newton asks what does it mean and what comes next now that the primary election for L.A. Mayor and City Council is over. LADOT has installed 123 miles of bikeways since the 2010 L.A. bike plan was adopted. Gary Kavanagh reports on UCLA’s Complete Streets Conference last week; nice to see the moribund Bikeside website come back to life to discuss it, as well. Curbed looks at the effects of AB 2245, which removed bike lanes from CEQA review. L.A.’s 4th Street is already a bike boulevard, whether or not the city wants to call it that — or fix it. Better Bike looks at the results of Tuesday’s election in the Biking Black Hole; it looks like the outsiders — and the only semi-bike supporter — may have won. Santa Monica College officially unveils their new 400 space bike parking lot. Fallen Cal Poly Pomona cyclist Ivan Aguilar will be remembered with a memorial ride and ghost bike today. CLR Effect notes that Southern California is becoming more colorful.

Remarkable sometimes how easy it is to park in a bike lane and force riders to risk their lives in high speed traffic; no, Mr. Topping, that is an argument for better enforcement, not another reason to oppose them. San Diego’s city council approves an ordinance calling for safer recreational and commuter routes for bike riders. Bike SD makes the case for protected bike lanes on El Cajon Blvd. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition rewards cyclists with chocolate for good behavior. Cyclist Chris Bucchere faces a preliminary hearing for killing a pedestrian in San Francisco last year. A Fresno school teacher is killed in a classic SWSS — single witness suicide swerve — as the driver claims he did everything right, but the rider inexplicably swerved into his path; thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

Bob Mionske offers advice on whether to fight that ticket. AAA releases a bike safety video, which you may recognize as a Canadian video released last year, as the Bike League casts its lot with an organization that fights bike safety laws in California and elsewhere. Bicycle Retailer reports on Day Two of the National Bike Summit. The Bike League reveals what Congress really thinks of us — including that bike advocates are sore winners, while the economic benefits of bicycling dominate discussions with Congress. Outgoing DOT Secretary Ray LaHood calls for increased, high-quality infrastructure for people who ride bikes. How to recognize a Stroad. Stereotypes of who rides a bike are rapidly falling away. The driver accused of attacking a pro cycling team in an Arizona road rage assault defends himself online. A Colorado woman saves her own life through cycling, dropping 170 pounds in four years. At Austin’s SXSW one good Tern deserves another. Bike Safe Boston says ride straight through an intersection; definitely good advice for all the reasons they cite. Transportation Alternatives provides the facts about New York bicycling. A New York lawyer says the city needs to introduce strict criminal liability for traffic violence. Residents of one New York neighborhood don’t want their historic cobblestones ripped out to make way for a bikeway; for once, I might agree with them. While we all face harassment while riding, women can face a far worse kind.

Bike-centric traffic signals go up in Montreal. British politicians lack the will to get anything done to promote bicycling, but London’s bicycling mayor BoJo finally unveils a real plan to remake parts of the city into mini-Hollands and change the future of bicycling in the city. A 94-year old British driver claims an unforeseeable medical condition left her unconscious behind the wheel and therefore, not responsible when she ran down and killed a bike rider a third her age. Perhaps the most subtly sarcastic bike advocacy headline in human history. Is Spain trying to force bicyclists off the roads? An Israeli company wants to turn your helmet into a heart monitor. A Zimbabwe man kills his father with a brick after they argue about borrowing the older man’s bike without permission, then allowing it to get stolen. Someone dumped uncooked rice on an Aussie bike path in an apparent attack on bicyclists. A Kiwi rider suffers a heart attack while on a cross country charity ride, and rejoins the ride just days later after heart surgery.

Finally, after a drunk driver runs down a Florida cyclist and flees the scene, her father takes her to Mickey D’s before driving her to the police to turn herself in. A Florida legislator finds his drive delayed a few seconds by a bus, and responds by attempting to ban public buses from stopping on streets.

And as bike ads go, this one for the British video release of Premium Rush isn’t half bad.

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