Tag Archive for car culture

Morning Links: Serious sentence for a serious crime, memorial for 9-year old victim, and blame drivers, not bikes

They continue to take traffic crime seriously in Orange County.

An unlicensed drunk driver got 18 years — yes, years, not months — for fleeing the scene after killing an elderly woman and injuring her blind grandson as they stood in a Santa Ana bike lane to observe fireworks on the 4th of July in 2013.

When she was arrested two hours later, Kelly Michele Wolfe had a blood alcohol level of .31, nearly four times the legal limit.

Now she’s going to have a very long time to sober up.

Maybe someone should tell the LA DA this is what can happen when you don’t bargain away all the serious charges.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.


Hundreds of mourners turned out on Sunday to remember the nine-year old boy killed while riding his bike in Irvine on Sunday.

He was a recent Chinese immigrant whose parents had come here looking for a better life.

Instead, they lost a son to this country’s deadly streets.


Great piece from Boyonabike, who says we should “tell car companies to take cynical marketing gimmicks like ‘Volvo Life Paint’ and shove it where the sun don’t shine.”

Because, he says, the real problem is dangerous and distracted drivers, a lack of safe infrastructure, and a “car culture that sells cars on TV by overt appeals to fantasies of speed and danger”

Seriously, read it, already.



The LACBC’s Eric Bruins examines the investment priorities for a proposed transportation ballet measure.

The editor of USC’s Daily Trojan says bikeshare has the potential to revolutionize transit in Los Angeles if anyone actually uses it, while a writer for the Los Angeles News Group questions if people will pay $3.50 a trip to ride a bike.

Western Avenue in Palos Verdes could trade street parking for buffered bike lanes; for a change, the primary concern of local residents isn’t over the loss of parking spaces.

Writing for Orange 20 Bikes, Rick Risemberg offers advice on how to winterize your riding to prepare for El Niño and what passes for winter in the City of Angels.

Santa Clarita wants your opinion on the city’s off-street biking trails.

People for Bikes looks at Burbank’s own Pure Fix Cycles.



A San Jose cyclist is killed in a collision after allegedly bicycling under the influence; no word on why police think he’d been drinking.

San Francisco completes its 24th Vision Zero bike and pedestrian safety project three months ahead of schedule. Which puts it about 23 ahead of LA.



Great news from Arizona, as former US Representative Gabby Giffords takes her recumbent on a 40 mile ride less than five years after her near-fatal shooting.

Evidently, a Colorado letter writer really hates bike lanes; he condemns any government official who puts more than 20 cents into bike lane construction to suffer an eternity of spilling hot coffee in their laps while driving.

A Colorado mountain biker relates the frightening story of how he got lost for nearly two days after falling into a river during a recent Costa Rican race.

A discussion of installing crosstown bike lanes in New York’s Upper East Side draws little opposition, even if one community board member says bicyclists’ lawlessness has resulted in a “complete and total Armageddon.” Not to exaggerate or anything.

A Philadelphia magazine explores the challenges of being African American in white suburbia, including a troubling story of black teenagers just out for a bike ride.

The World Championships didn’t turn out to be the financial windfall for the Richmond area that had been promised.



London’s Cycling Commissioner says banning large trucks during rush hour won’t save as many lives as making trucks safer and building protected bike lanes. He also called a reporter a liar over claims bike riders weren’t using one of the city’s new cycle superhighways.

London plans to close a busy and dangerous junction in the heart of the city to motor vehicles for at least five years to improve safety and “all round congeniality,” while making more room for bikes and pedestrians.

A UK publication says leave the car at home if you don’t want to die young.

Two Brit bike thieves have been jailed for a long running con; they’d leave a laptop bag as security for taking a bike for a test ride, which turned out to hold nothing but books when they didn’t return. They’d gotten away with 23 bikes worth $93,000 before they were caught.

A British woman is left with a broken hip after a collision with a sidewalk-riding bicyclist. But if he just rode off without stopping, how do they know he had a foreign accent?

Forty Americans biked the length of Israel to show support for the Israeli military.

An 18-year old South African man designed and built his own very cool custom bike from scratch.

An Aussie website says it may be time to rethink the country’s bike helmet requirement.

A Kiwi earthmoving company has installed cameras with a dashboard monitor in their trucks to eliminate blind spots that put cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

A five-year old Chinese boy is able to ride his bike again after getting a 3D-printed hand.

Japanese police are looking for a man who smacked a woman in the head with a blunt object after her clothes somehow got caught in his bike when he rode up behind her.



Evidently, it’s okay to steal a bike from a celebrity restaurant as long as you’re a hunk with washboard abs. If you’re going to use a bike as your getaway vehicle after robbing a bank, wearing a cycling cap sets the right stylistic tone.

And who says beautiful bikes don’t grow on trees?


Thanks to Wes High and Matthew Robertson for their donations to support this site. Thanks to their generosity, the first ever Biking in LA Holiday Fund Drive is now up to, uh, three contributions!

An open letter to the L.A. City Council — let’s move forward, not retreat to our auto-centric past

Dear Council Members,

It was just three years ago that CD11 Councilmember Bill Rosendahl famously stood before his fellow council members and declared that “The culture of the car is going to end now!”

True to his word, the City of Los Angeles has made remarkable progress in the last 24 months, rapidly expanding rail lines, moving forward on the long-promised Subway to the Sea — or Brentwood, anyway — and most improbably, being named a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community.

Although pedestrians seem to be lost in the process, as the city continues to remove crosswalks as it build others.

But now the city is threatening to backslide into the same old car-focused past that has repeatedly driven the many communities that make up our city into decline over the last half-dozen decades.

A new proposed bond measure promises to repair our crumbling streets, yet contains not one word committing to improvements for anything but motor vehicles, returning us to the bad old days of automotive hegemony that CM Rosendahl had promised was in the past.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea, though not everyone agrees; some are quite vocal in their opposition for a number of reason.

Yet no one can deny that our streets are crumbling. Too many L.A. streets now resemble the cobblestones of Europe, as a broken patchwork of pavement causes collisions and needless costs for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

And fixing them now makes sense, sparing Angelenos the estimated $750 a year in added repair costs, not to mention the untold cost to repair countless broken bikes — and broken bones — suffered by cyclists who hit potholes or swerve dangerously to avoid them.

Historic low interest rates mean the city can borrow the money at favorable rates, and repave the streets now at a fraction of the cost it would cost in decades to come. And since the bond will be funded by a relatively insignificant increase in property taxes, the work can be done without adding to the city’s debt burden.

The problem, as always, is in the details.

Or the lack of them, as far too much as been left out of this measure.

Like a commitment to implementing bikeways contained in the city’s new bike plan as those streets are repaved, dramatically cutting the cost of implementation since those streets would need to be repainted anyway. And potentially cutting the time to build out the bike plan from 30 years to perhaps half of that, or less.

Worse, there is absolutely nothing in this massive bond issue that promises to repair the city’s broken sidewalks, estimated to cost $1 billion to $1.5 billion. Leaving a massive obstacle to creating more livable and walkable communities, while failing to give people an incentive to get out of their cars and off our highly congested streets.

My own wife has been injured twice as a result of tripping over broken sidewalks, suffering first a broken foot, followed by wrenched knee that continues to cause her problems to this day. How many others have been similarly injured, or simply stopped walking in their own neighborhoods because it’s simply not worth the risk?

Clearly, this will not be an easy measure to pass.

It will require a two-thirds majority, something very difficult to achieve as the recent failure of Measure J demonstrated, despite getting over 66.1% of the vote.

Which means you’ll need every vote you can get for passage, including the support of bicyclists and pedestrians. And right now, we have no incentive to support it — let alone vote yes in May.

In fact, as far as I’m concerned, this is dead in the water unless significant changes are made.

The city needs to make a firm commitment to building out the bike plan as streets are repaired, and rebuilding our streets using best practices that benefit all road users — based on the new mobility plan currently being finalized, rather than the outdated version it will replace.

It also needs to include provisions to fix our sidewalks. After all, while most Los Angeles residents are drivers, we’re all pedestrians at one time or another. And this will never be the great city it can and should be until we are free to walk when and where we want, safely and enjoyably.

Let’s also not fall into the old trap of treating infrastructure as separate elements; streets and sidewalks and crosswalks should be rebuilt as a single Complete Street designed to move people, not vehicles, and bring renewed life to all our communities. And they should incorporate Safe Routes to Schools, while providing necessary access for the disabled.

Granted, CD12 Councilmember Mitch Englander has promised that much of this will addressed down the road.

But with all due respect, you’ll excuse us if we don’t settle for promises than can be broken down the line. These matters need to be included in the ballot measure, locked in as part of the bond issue.

This morning’s City Council session will be visited, not by three ghosts, but by a phalanx of impassioned bicycling, pedestrian and safety advocates determined to fix this bond measure before it goes to the ballot in order to win their support, and the support of countless like-minded Angelenos such as myself.

Listen to them.

Then act on the suggestions they make.

The success of this bond measure, the livability of our city and the safety of its residents depends on it.


Ted Rogers
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