Tag Archive for car culture

Morning Links: NYT shines national spotlight on LA’s deadly car culture, and open season for open streets

Los Angeles’ hit-and-run car culture and deadly streets takes their bow in the national spotlight.

And the picture isn’t pretty.

The New York Times, in an article by LA-based reporter Jose A. Del Real, examines the problems on our streets and the rising toll among bike riders, through the tragic death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier in South LA.

Cyclists have long risked danger in Los Angeles, where a loose and lackluster network of bike lanes means they often ride alongside speeding cars. Today, cyclists draw a special kind of vitriol from drivers in America’s car capital, where traffic congestion is increasingly intolerable as the region’s population grows by an estimated 50,000 people a year.

In poor areas of the city, where people are more likely to depend on walking and cycling as the sole means of transportation, residents complain of a disregard for their well-being by drivers who treat their neighborhood streets like highways. City data shows that the dangers to pedestrians and cyclists are particularly acute in South Los Angeles — where Mr. Frazier was killed — which lags the rest of the city in safety infrastructure.

He note that the mayor has promised to ramp up advertising to fight the carnage on our streets.

That’s right, advertising.

“I am confident that without our efforts, things would be even worse,” Mr. Garcetti said earlier this year. He said the city’s transportation department would ramp up advertising related to road safety.

The purpose of Vision Zero is to remake our streets so that human mistakes don’t result in fatal crashes.

It’s hard to see how even the most hard-hitting ad can equal the life-saving effectiveness of a single road diet.

It’s an important read.

One that even quotes me couple times, along with the newfound advocates who’ve risen in the wake of Woon’s death.

And Del Real did me the favor of not quoting most of the things I said, as he caught me in one of my more pissed off moods at the inaction of city officials in the face of the rising bike and pedestrian deaths and lawlessness on our streets.

Then again, I don’t think they could print most of that in the Times, anyway.

Maybe that national spotlight will embarrass our mayor as he angles for higher office.

And make him realize he has a lot more work to do right here in the City of Angels first. Along with a few city council butts to kick.

We can hope.

………

The streets are officially open.

The Los Angeles Daily News looks at another successful CicLAvia in the North San Fernando Valley, and contrasts it with the dangers riders face on LA streets. KCBS-2 reports from earlier in the day.

Los Angeles wasn’t the only city celebrating open streets on Sunday, as thousands turned out for the fifth CycLOUvia in Louisville KY.

And just a tad further north, Winnipeg, Canada celebrated its ninth annual Ciclovia.

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The Ad Council has posted the winners of their annual student film contest focusing on the dangers of texting while driving.

Hopefully they’ll show these to the sheriff’s department.

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Local

The city council’s Transportation Committee has voted to approve protected bike lanes on 5th and 6th Streets in LA’s Skid Row. That should make it almost a done deal, since the full council usually rubber stamps decisions made in committee. Update: Joe Linton informs me that the full council has already approved the motion, voting 11 to 0 on Friday to install the lanes.

The LA Times travel section offers tips on how to choose a car bike rack for your next road trip. Best advice: Whatever rack you choose, make sure your can lock it to your car, then lock the bikes to the rack. And take them inside when you stop for the night or leave your car for any length of time.

Calabasas-based 10 Speed Coffee is opening a new bike-themed outpost in Santa Monica.

 

State

San Juan Capistrano police give a six-year old boy a new bicycle to replace the one he managed to jump off of, saving his own life just before it was crunched by a red light-running driver. However, it’s strange that the driver was booked on a felony hit-and-run charge, which requires serious injuries under California law; otherwise, it should be a misdemeanor.

The new captain of the Chino Hills police department is one of us, and a long-time member of Redland’s Citrus Valley Velo cycling club. 

Cycling legend and commentator Bob Roll takes a low-tech roll through Silicon Valley.

 

National

Trump’s tariff’s as he ramps up a trade war with China could come at the expense of the booming growth of ebikes, most of which are made in the Middle Kingdom.

A new study refutes the myth that more and wider roadways are necessary for regional economic success, showing that the cities that don’t have traffic congestion are the ones that are dying.

Bicycling takes a look at the new old Harley Davidson bicycle, which can be yours for a mere $4,200.

Popular Mechanics rates the best multi-tools, and says every kind of bike is going electric, from motor scooters to cargo bikes. Thanks to Tim Rutt for the heads-up.

An Anchorage AK bike shop suffered $75,000 in losses during a late night burglary, as thieves appear to be targeting high-end bicycles in the city.

Taking distracted driving to a new extreme, the backup driver responsible for overseeing the self-driving Uber car — and preventing the crash that took the life of Elaine Herzberg as she walked her bike across a Tempe AZ street — was watching The Voice on Hulu, instead of the road. Police had initially blamed Herzberg, calling the crash unavoidable before realizing it was anything but.

Three Utah bicyclists participating in a charity ride were seriously injured when they were run down from behind by a “drowsy” driver coming home from working a night shift; fortunately, their injuries were not life-threatening.

While the rest of the country is just discovering protected bike lanes, Boise ID had them in the ’70s, but let them fade away.

This is why you should always question police investigations following a crash. Colorado police reversed themselves after initially blaming the victim for a serious crash after they were finally able to talk to her in the hospital; she refuted the driver’s claim that she was riding her bike on the shoulder and illegally turned in front of him.

Emotions run high as 18 bike riders return home to Oklahoma after a three-week ride through seven states, retracing the steps of the Cherokee tribe during the infamous Trail of Tears.

LimeBike is threatening to walk away from Chicago’s pilot dockless bikeshare program over a clause that requires bikes to be locked to a stationary object when not in use.

A Massachusetts town celebrates its history as a bicycle factory town by giving new bikes to 19 kids.

An op-ed in the New York Times says if we want to build a sustainable future, cities and people must take priority over cars.

Sad news from Pennsylvania, where a woman was killed riding her bike home from her new job because she didn’t want to bother anyone by asking for a ride; her relatives didn’t even know she owned a bike. Naturally, police blamed her for the rear-end crash for riding in the traffic lane on a 45 mph road, rather than on the shoulder.

 

International

City Journal examines the worldwide problem of vandalism and destruction that’s causing a major retreat by bikeshare providers, docked and otherwise.

Road.cc reviews five of the best foldies, and considers 26 of the best books in bicycling. As if anyone has time to read when you could be out on your bike.

Bike Radar recaps the week’s best new bike gear.

A 29-year old Belgian man stopped in Winnipeg on a 30-month bike trip from the tundra of far northern Canada to the tip of southern Argentina.

Caught on video: A Toronto bike rider catches a crash on a bike cam when he’s hit head-on by a driver making an illegal U-turn, who drove off after giving him a fake name and phone number. Amazingly, police don’t consider it hit-and-run since he didn’t need immediate medical attention.

A commentator on a conservative website says a call for banning right turns on red lights in Toronto is based on junk science, saying that stats showing 13% of crashes occurred when drivers were turning right just means that 87% didn’t, and that drivers aren’t always at fault. By that measure, running red lights should be legal too, since it doesn’t always result in a wreck, either.

A London writer says putting signs on the back of large trucks isn’t enough to protect bike riders and pedestrians from getting killed in their drivers’ blind spots. But ads will stop deadly crashes in Los Angeles, right?

A English minister says he understands the benefits of bicycling, but may get rid of the bikes in his garage because of the dangers posed by motorists. Although he says “militant cyclists” don’t help the cause of bicycling by trying to impose their rights. Which is another way of saying people who want to legally ride their bikes without getting run off the road.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A South African driver’s mother suffered a heart attack and his father has suffered from depression after he was sentenced to ten years for killing two bike riders. Then again, if you think that’s bad, imagine the suffering of his victims’ families.

Nepal paid tribute to the country’s national cycling champion after he was killed falling into a river while competing in Sri Lanka.

Aussie police warn of an “epidemic” of headphone-wearing cyclists and pedestrians killed in traffic collisions. If you can call an average of two a year an epidemic — and if the headphones were actually what caused the crashes. After all, if headphones cause crashes, car sound systems and hermetically sealed, soundproof vehicles should, too. 

Touching story as a Japanese man flew to Taiwan to thank the man who cared for his son when he was fatally injured by falling rocks while mountain biking.

Now you can tour Vietnam and Sri Lanka by ebike.

 

Competitive Cycling

The fourth time is the charm, as SoCal’s Coryn Rivera nips Megan Guarnier to win her first US Pro national road race championship. Tennessee’s Emma White dominated the women’s U-23 races.

An Idaho man was part of an eight-person team that set a new record of just under five days, four hours in the Race Across America.

Bicycling explains how to watch the Tour de France this year. And no, streaming it live on your handlebars while you ride probably isn’t the best idea.

Seriously? Team Sky’s coach says Chris Froome’s safety is at risk after five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault calls Froome a cheat over his failed drug test.

The race of the century — or at least the next few weeks — will roll on July 1st as the grudge match between LA’s own Phil Gaimon and alleged motor doper Fabian Cancellara will charge up Switzerland’s Col du Pillon. You can cheer Gaimon on with your own cookie-themed kit.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you miss your train, and end up beating it to your destination. Even Transylvania is becoming bike friendly.

And presenting the Uniform Manual of Traffic Engineer Excuses.

 

Morning Links: Former Councilmember Bill Rosendahl near death; led fight to make LA better for bike riders

Bill Rosendahl addressing the city council to announce an end to cur culture in LA

Bill Rosendahl addressed the city council in 2010 to announce an end to car culture in LA

Heartbreaking news, as Councilmember Mike Bonin reports on his personal Facebook page that his predecessor and mentor, former Westside Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, is near death and receiving hospice care at home.

Rosendahl set the standard for what a city councilmember could and should be here in the City of Angels — caring, responsive and committed to doing the right thing, and serving the whole community. Whether or not it was the popular stand at the time.

As chair of the council’s Transportation Committee, it was Rosendahl, more than anyone else, who set the city on the path to becoming more welcoming to people on bikes, leading to the adoption of the Cyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance and the 2010 bike plan, now part of Mobility Plan 2035. As well as revoking the city’s bike licensing requirement, which was often used by police as an excuse to harass riders.

It was Rosendahl who famously said “The culture of the car is going to end now!” in addressing the full council. And Rosendahl who got then new LAPD Chief Beck to sit down with cyclists and listen to their grievances, leading Beck to promise — and deliver — a new relationship between cops and cyclists on the streets of the city.

It’s hard to believe the bad old days for LA cyclists were just six years ago. And that so much has changed for the better in such a short time.

Admittedly, there were many catalysts for that change. The 2010 Bike Plan. CicLAvia. Mayor Villaraigosa’s road to Damascus conversion. A more assertive LACBC.

But in reality, it all began with Rosendahl, and his impassioned response to a driver who deliberately injured a pair of cyclists on Mandeville Canyon. And a promise to do everything in his power to prevent it from happening again.

And one he kept.

He will be sorely missed. This will be a much poorer city when Bill Rosendahl is gone.

But one he’s leaving much better than he found it.

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Local

The President of Fix the City calls plans for bike lanes in the city’s Mobility Plan 2035 a game of Three-Card Monte where the rules are constantly changing, and urges Councilmember Ryu to vote against the plan when it comes back before the council for approval. He’s a little late, though; the city council re-approved the Mobility Plan last year; the only thing under consideration now are a handful of amendments to the plan.

In yet another case of a car being used as a weapon, LA sheriff’s deputies arrested a driver on suspicion of murder after he ran down a man jogging in a Walnut bike lane before smashing through a hedge and into a home.

Registration is open to join the LACBC team for this year’s Climate Ride.

 

State

San Diego plans to install a buffered bike lane on a street where a skateboarder was killed recently.

A Santa Barbara social worker remembers a tireless advocate for the homeless who died in a fall while riding his bike earlier this month.

A San Francisco writer says courtesy is the key when cyclists and drivers share narrow hilly roads; otherwise, the legislature will step in to dictate behavior.

A man broke the window of a Fresno bike shop and stole a bicycle; it’s the second time thieves broke into the store in the last two years. Note to KFSN-30 TV: $500 is hardly an expensive bike.

 

National

A Wyoming man uses bicycling to fight back against a genetic lung disease.

Evidently, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use bike emojis, according to a DC writer.

 

International

A writer for the Guardian says bike touring may be the best way of meeting the world on its own terms.

The weekly blog roundup from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain continues to offer a detailed look at bike news from around the world that puts this site to shame.

An Aussie writer says a three-foot passing law is a good start, but drivers should be required to give extra attention to cyclists and pedestrians at all times — especially when crashes are considered mere “bingles.” Although local police don’t seem sold on the new passing distance.

A new #helmetsarecool online campaign is gaining steam in Australia. Should we be suspicious that it’s backed by a helmet maker?

Evidently, NIMBYs are the same everywhere. Residents of Christchurch NZ urge the city council to rescind plans for a pair of bikeways out of fear that a) they will negatively impact safety and b) a loss of parking will be the death knell for local businesses. Never mind that bike lanes have been repeatedly shown to a) improve safety for all road users, and b) increase sales and property values, while bringing greater vitality to the neighborhood.

A Singapore website explains why some people are calling for bike licensing, and why it’s not likely to happen.

 

Finally…

It’s not a flag, it’s 33 years worth of driver repellant. When you’re riding with an old, rusty rifle over your shoulder and a drill in a suitcase you probably stole, remember to put a damn light on your bike.

And if you’re going to use a bike as your getaway vehicle, make sure you know how to ride it first.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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Local

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.

 

State

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.

 

National

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.

 

International

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.

 

Finally…

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?

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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.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
Bikinginla.com
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