Tag Archive for car vs. bike

Two sides to every anti-bike story — maybe we’re not two-wheeled pack-riding psychopaths after all

If it seems like there must be more to the story, there usually is.

Take this one from Woodside, near Palo Alto, in which a motorist reported to the police that a group of about 50 cyclists surrounded his vehicle after he had passed them, punching and kicking his window and mirror. And evidently, for no apparent reason.

Those crazy cyclists.

Fortunately, Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious was as curious about the cryptic story as I was, and dug a little deeper to get the answers.

And found them on the discussion list of the Bay Area’s Alto Velo cycling group, where witnesses reported that the driver of a full-size Dodge Ram diesel pickup truck had deliberately brake-checked riders and run them off the road, blown diesel soot into their faces, and run stop signs to get away from them.

After passing one large group of cyclists, he got out of his truck to start something — then quickly got back in when he realized he was outnumbered by something like 50 to one.

Then called the police to report the altercation he started.

Which is kind of like a bank robber calling police to say the security guard was rude to him while he was making of with the contents of the vault.

Unfortunately, unless someone managed to capture his actions on video, it’s likely to end up as just another case of he said, she said, as police are usually reluctant to dig any further to get to the truth in a situation like this.

Which means a dangerous, aggressive and violent driver is likely to remain on the roads to threaten someone else’s life another day.

That’s not to say the riders are automatically blameless. Maybe one or more of the cyclists said or did something to provoke his wrath.

Like occupy space on his planet, for instance.

But nothing short of brandishing an automatic weapon — or maybe a small rocket launcher — would be equivalent to attacking a group of riders with a multi-ton truck.

………

LADOT will try to keep cars out of the bike lanes on Sepulveda with an application of Botts’ Dots; no, not the gummy candy they sell in theaters. L.A. finally learns to play nice with other cities when it comes to bike lanes. What does it take to get cyclists off the sidewalk and into the bike lane? By the time you read this, Pasadena will have its first bike boulevard, and L.A. still won’t. Caltech Bike Lab offers free bike repair classes this Saturday. CORBA is offering a free mountain bike skills clinic at Malibu Creek State Park this Saturday, and the first Saturday of every month. The Times explores the L.A. in a Day bicycle tour from Bikes and Hikes L.A. Santa Monica is remarking the beach bike path in an attempt to bring a semblance of order from decades of chaos. Malibu has $14 million to spend on PCH improvements, including bike lanes on the west side of town; unfortunately, where they’re really needed is on the east side. South Bay beach cities are getting healthier, in part because of bicycling.

California bike advocates are asking our governor to step up his support for biking and walking, which has been somewhat lacking up to this point. Calbike sets a bold agenda for 2013. The 2nd Orange County Bicycle Film Festival screens at the end of February. Bike lanes and sharrows should be coming soon to the Coast Highway following a unanimous vote by the Encinitas City Council. Cyclists give Caltrans a June 1 deadline to fix a botched repaving job on PCH above Cambria. Santa Cruz police bust five bike thieves in a single week — one of whom stole a bike as he was leaving jail on another charge. UCSF offers a mini-course on the Medicine of Cycling. A San Francisco supervisor says it’s time to do something about the bike theft epidemic. San Francisco’s new bike strategy could make it one of the nation’s top cycling cities. The owner of women’s pro Team TIBCO was seriously injured in a left cross collision last weekend.

Not surprisingly, people who bike or walk to work enjoy their commute more. Sometimes your legs come around, sometimes they don’t; either way, you usually get where you’re going. A New Mexico truck driver loses control, hears a thump and drives off, leaving an injured cyclist in his wake; no point in stopping to see what he hit, right? Aspen considers a 14 mph speed limit. Somehow, a Topeka driver manages to hit a salmon cyclist traveling in the same direction on the opposite side of the road. When you’re riding around the world, take a pass on El Paso. What good are bike lanes if Dallas motorists drive all over them? LSU police are ticketing cyclists in response to a whopping 27 bike and/or pedestrian collisions last year — and evidently, ignoring the other 587 collisions that didn’t involve either. A passing hero on a bike saves a Boston-area girl from drowning. Over 15,000 cyclists and pedestrians were injured in New York traffic last year, with 155 killed. Brooklyn businesses are up in arms over the loss of a single — yes, one — parking space to make room for a bike corral; if the success of your business depends on a single parking space, your problems go way beyond parking. Before you try to steal a bike, make sure you know how to ride it. A ban on U-turns across DC’s Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes suggests authorities are taking bike safety seriously. Rural Virginia lawmakers say their roads just aren’t wide enough for a three-foot passing law; far safer to let drivers buzz cyclists, right? A 16-year old cyclist is seriously injured in a Ft. Lauderdale hit-and-run. A Florida man gets his fourth DUI in the last 15 years, this time, thankfully, on a bike.

Exterior air bags could protect cyclists and pedestrians; not likely if they’re just an expensive option. Two Whistler BC drivers threaten cyclists in separate incidents. The criminal justice system is failing British cyclists; then again, the same could be said just about everywhere. Britain’s cycling minister tells bike riders to give it up, because the UK will never be like Denmark; but at least they have one, right? Danish pro Michael Ramussen is the latest to admit a career of doping on his way out. Children who walk or bike to school learn and retain more. A new monument will honor a Prague bike activist and others killed on the city’s streets. Aussie authorities let Twilight’s Robert Pattison off with a warning for riding without a helmet; want to bet anyone less famous would have gotten the ticket? Touring Kuala Lumpur’s largest city by bike. A writer says Japan needs a mandatory helmet law, but not for the reasons you’d think. Singaporeans have taken to bicycling, but will they ride to work?

Finally, what to wear the next time you’re riding with the crew of the Enterprise. And Lance Armstrong’s stepmother calls him a hypocrite, while Charlie Sheen says he’s “kind of a douche.” And Sheen should know.

Then there’s this, the very definition of heartbreak, courtesy of Martyn Jones.

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Are slow Los Angeles Fire Department response times putting your life in danger?

Now here’s a scary thought.

Whether or not you survive a cycling collision could depend on which side of the city limit line you land on.

That became clear when I considered the implications of my wife’s recent heart attack, in light of a recent report of on LAFD response times by the L.A. Times.

According to her co-workers, paramedics from the Beverly Hills Fire Department arrived within just two minutes of their 911 call. And got her to the hospital fast enough to avoid any serious permanent damage.

Had she fallen just blocks away in Century City, it could have taken the Los Angeles Fire Department precious minutes more to arrive; anywhere from six to 10 minutes, according to the chart prepared by the Times.

In fact, the Times reports that national standards require rescuers to respond within 6 minutes in medical emergencies — a standard the LAFD missed in the Westside’s hillside communities a whopping 85% of the time.

Almost makes me glad I can’t afford to live in them.

Now consider what that could mean when you ride your bike. Or just cross the street, for that matter.

You might actually be safer in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills, without a single inch of biking infrastructure, than you are in bronze level bike-friendly Los Angeles.

Not because you’re less likely to get hit by a car. But because you may not get the help you need in time if you are.

(To be fair, Beverly Hills recently approved their first two bikeway pilot routes. Welcome to the 1970s, guys.)

I don’t blame the firefighters and paramedics. Having seen these men and women in action, I’d trust them with my life any day of the week.

In fact, I have.

I blame city leaders who absurdly thought they could cut back on the department’s budget and staffing levels and conduct rolling unit closures at one-fifth of the city’s fire stations without affecting performance. And department leaders who provided the misleading stats to justify it.

Los Angeles placed a losing bet on being able to maintain effective response times.

And what they’re gambling with is your life.

I’ve long been opposed to the city’s cutbacks at the Los Angeles Police Department. Especially the loss of civilian employees, which means more uniformed officers behind desks and fewer on the streets tracking down hit-and-run drivers and keeping us all safe.

But cutbacks at the LAPD mean the person who hit you might get away with it. Cutbacks at the LAFD mean you might not be around to care.

It’s time to put pressure on our city leaders to restore full funding to the fire department.

Your life, and mine, could depend on it.

In the meantime, if you get hit by a car anywhere near the L.A. city limits, I’d suggest falling on the other side of it.

………

Here’s your chance to say goodbye to one of the founders of the modern L.A. bike movement, as Streetsblog raises funds with an Engagement Celebration and Farewell Party for LACBC co-founder and former C.I.C.L.E. head Joe Linton. Santa Monica plans to install new striping and signage on the overly-popular beachfront bike path through the city. CLR Effect captures the reason we live and ride here in Southern California, and notices odd critters in hats on the side of the side; we can assume he was sober since he’s got the photograph, right?

Orange County will see a silent auction to benefit bike safety next Thursday. The popular San Clemente Coastal Trail gets a new surface. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is on board with the city’s new bike share plan. A Santa Barbara cyclist is severely injured after allegedly running a red light. A local paper says Porterville is on the right track in building more bike lanes. Rohnert Park police identify the hit-and-run motorcyclist who seriously injured a bike rider last month. The CHP is still looking for the hit-and-run driver who killed a Shasta County cyclist two years ago, with a $10,000 reward.

U.S. cyclists — and non-riders — are making fewer trips to their local bike shop. A Colorado driver pleads not guilty to harassment charges in a case caught on a viral bike cam video. Comparing the costs of building sidewalks versus roadways. Parts of Dallas bike lanes are turning green. Chicago cyclists get a new protected bike lane. Bike Portland looks at the art of New York bicycling. Instead of blocking bikeways, one New York precinct is actually improving them. Chattanooga’s bike share program burns its first million calories. A Memphis councilman says he’s got nothing against bike lanes, but those signs are butt ugly. A DC cyclist is convicted of groping women while he rode.

A Toronto writer makes his case for a mandatory helmet law. A 12-year old UK cyclist is making a name for himself against older riders in international competition. Town Mouse encounters a courteous, if rule breaking, truck driver. Graeme Obree tests his handmade, possibly record-breaking recumbent. A Kilkenny cyclist is killed after clipping the bike in front of her and falling into the path of an oncoming car. Ireland’s most versatile cyclist signs with a US team. The EU defines what qualifies as an e-bike. A cyclist is injured and a pedestrian killed by the motorcade for the first lady of Ghana. You’ve got to be crazy to deliberately run over and kill a cyclist — and get away with it as a result. Rescued by a professional trombone player while riding a red e-bike on the streets of China.

Finally, a judge inexplicably reduces bail to just $1000 for a Long Island driver who swerved across the road to kill a cyclist while high on methadone — and with his kids in the car. And a South Carolina letter writer says an immoral new bike path violates two of the Ten Commandments, while putting the county on the road to communism.

Good heart news, stupid driver tricks and a first-hand biking screw-up caught on video

Please forgive the lack of a full post this morning; after a full day in the hospital with my wife yesterday, I came home and collapsed on the couch instead of writing anything.

The good news is, she’s doing amazingly, phenomenally, unbelievably well. Despite suffering what her physicians described as a major heart attack, she appears to have suffered little or no lasting damage to her heart, thanks to an emergency response team that had her in surgery within minutes of her collapse.

She looks and sounds great, to the point that you wouldn’t even know why she’s in the hospital. If all goes well, she should be out of the ICU today, and could even be back home before the weekend is over.

We owe big thanks to the Beverly Hills Fire Department, the ER staff at Cedars Sinai, and her coworkers; without the exceptional efforts of each, this story could have had a much different outcome. While I have often criticized Beverly Hills, their fire department is first rate.

And a very big thank you to everyone for your prayers and kind words. I am truly humbled that so many people, those I know and countless others I’ve never met, took time to express your caring thoughts.

Bless you all.

I hope to get back to regular bike programming later today; check back late tonight or in the morning and hopefully I’ll have a link round-up for you, and maybe an events update.

……..

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at a couple of helmet cam videos from a recent ride. Both show dangerous driving tricks that put my safety at risk.

As well as one that demonstrates bad judgement on my own part.

Yes, I make mistakes too. And nearly paid for it this time.

Update: Cyclist gets double smackdown crossing PCH — seriously injured by car, then blamed by police

First he gets run down by a car on PCH.

Then he gets smacked down once more by the LAPD.

According to Pacific Palisades Patch, a bicyclist was riding his bike in the crosswalk across Pacific Coast Highway at Temescal Canyon Road at 7:51 am on Tuesday, October 30th when he was hit by a car heading north on PCH.

The rider, identified only a 30-year old white male, suffered severe injuries, including broken legs and lacerations to his arms and chest.

Then, Patch reports, police blamed him for the collision simply because he was riding in the crosswalk.

(Officer) Johnson said the accident report has the bicyclist listed as the cause of the accident.

“Bicyclists can’t ride in the crosswalk,” he said. “You have to walk it. As soon as you start pedeling (sic) you’re basically considered a vehicle and have to consider the rules of the road.”

Never mind that in order for the collision to occur the way it’s described, someone had to run the red light. Either the cyclist was crossing against the light — which would seem unlikely, given the heavy traffic on PCH at that hour — or the car that hit him ran it.

Either way, that would seem to be a more immediate — and important — cause of the collision than the simple presence of the rider in the crosswalk.

And never mind that the explanation given by Officer Johnson would appear to be in direct contradiction to state law.

According to California law, bikes are allowed to use crosswalks, which are legally considered an extension of the sidewalk. So if it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk — which the City of Los Angeles allows — it’s also legal to ride your bike in the crosswalk.

Sort of.

In a failed attempt to clarify the law, the state legislature recently amended the law to say that cyclists can ride along a crosswalk. Yet failed to clarify what exactly that means.

After all, you can ride along a pathway or along a river, with very different meanings. One puts you on it, the other next to it.

So depending on who is interpreting the law, and how, you can either ride on the crosswalk or alongside it.

Thanks for the clarification, guys.

Then there’s the question of which way you can ride on the crosswalk. And that’s where it really gets complicated.

According to the LAPD, after consulting with the City Attorney, they’ve come to the following, extremely convoluted, interpretation of the law.

As we discussed, cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk in Los Angeles. And since sidewalks don’t have any direction, bike riders can legally ride either way — as long as they remain on the sidewalk.

But in what appears to be a gross misinterpretation of the law, the LAPD says as soon as a bike enters the street, it becomes a vehicle. Even if it’s just crossing the street. And regardless of whether it’s in — or next to — the crosswalk.

And since it’s a vehicle, it then has to be ridden in the direction of traffic.

Even though pedestrians are allowed to use the crosswalk going in either direction. And even though state law says absolutely nothing about direction in allowing bikes to ride along the crosswalk.

That would appear to be the actual violation the police were referring to in this case, rather than riding in the crosswalk.

And there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that I am aware of in state law that says riders must dismount and walk their bikes across the street.

In fact, that would appear to be another violation of state law, which assigns bike riders all the rights and responsibilities of other vehicle users. I am unaware of any requirement that drivers have to get out of their cars and push them across the street before being allowed to get back inside and drive off.

Which brings up the other problem with this collision.

This intersection is a popular route for riders leaving the beachfront bike path along Will Rogers State Beach, whether to ride up Temescal Canyon or cross to the other side of PCH to continue on towards Malibu.

But there is no way for cyclists to trigger the green light at this intersection. The signal detectors embedded in the pavement don’t recognize bikes, and there is no push button for bikes or pedestrians headed east across PCH.

During busy summer months, that’s usually not a problem. Cars leave the parking lot on a regular basis, triggering the light and allowing riders to cross with the light.

But this time of year, you can wait hours for a car to come by and trigger the signal.

So the workaround many riders use — myself included — is to ride over to the north side of the intersection, push the signal button at the crosswalk, then ride across the street on or next to the crosswalk.

Which is probably exactly what the victim was doing that morning when he was hit by a Subaru. And which is now illegal, according to the LAPD.

So first this cyclist was victimized by bad roadway design, which robbed him of his right to ride like any other vehicle, and forced him to use the crosswalk.

Yes, state law does require signal detectors that recognize the presence of bikes, but only when the intersection is repaved or rebuilt in some other way. And just like drivers, cyclists are legally allowed to cross against the red light if it fails to change for several cycles.

Although you might have a hard time explaining that to a cop. And it would be a foolish thing to attempt at rush hour on a busy, high-speed highway like PCH.

Then he was hit by car, which may or may not have run the red light.

And finally, if the article is correct, he appears to have been victimized a third time. This time by the LAPD, with what looks like a highly flawed interpretation of the law.

He may or may not have been at fault.

But he certainly wasn’t at fault for the reason given.

Update: Now it makes more sense. 

It turns out that the Patch story misplaced the location of the collision, according to the LAPD’s new bike liaison for the West Traffic Division, Sgt. Christopher Kunz, in response to an email from Colin Bogart, Education Director for the LACBC.

Rather than the intersection of PCH and Temescal Canyon, the collision actually occurred about 1700 feet north at the crosswalk leading from the parking lot to the trailer park

And rather than being cited for riding in the crosswalk, the primary factor leading to the collision was a violation of CVC 21804(a), entering a highway without yielding to oncoming traffic. Sgt. Kunz says independent witnesses reported the victim rode across PCH at a high rate of speed, in an apparent attempt to beat oncoming traffic.

And failed. 

So while the intersection of PCH and Temescal remains a difficult and dangerous place for cyclists to cross, and the department’s current interpretation of crosswalk law would seem to leave a lot to be desired, neither one had anything to do with this collision. 

Instead it appears to be a case of bad judgement. A rider taking a chance he shouldn’t have taken.

And a news report that only told part of the story.

Update — 20-year old cyclist killed in Buena Park; cyclist injured in Culver City

More bad news from Orange County.

According to the Orange County Register, a 20-year old man was hit by a vehicle while riding his bike at the intersection of Knott and La Palma Avenues in Buena Park around 6 pm Monday. The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was pronounced dead at UCI Medical Center in Orange.

The driver was taken to West Anaheim Medical Center with undisclosed minor injuries. He was not identified other than as a man in his 40s; no description was given of the vehicle involved, or how the collision occurred.

The Register reports that alcohol was not believed to have been a factor, and police are investigating who had the right-of-way.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Buena Park Police traffic bureau at 714/562-3940.

This is the 67th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Orange County, just one behind the total for all of last year. It’s also the second bicycling death in Buena Park this year.

My deepest condolences and prayers for the victim and his family.

Update: A post on SoCal Trail Riders identifies the victim as Jeremy Kidder, a former employee of Buena Park Bicycles, and a sometimes employee of Fullerton Bicycles.

Update 2: The Orange County Register confirms the victim was 20-year old Jeremy Kidder of Buena Park. The paper reports he was hit by a Chevy SUV while crossing near the crosswalk; no word on what direction he was going or how the collision occurred. Police say there are conflicting witness accounts. 

……..

Culver City Patch reports that a cyclist was hit by a car at the corner of Washington Place and Sawtelle Blvd in Culver City around 4:45 pm Monday.

According to police, witnesses said the cyclist, who was not publicly identified, ran the red light; he was taken to UCLA Medical Center.

No other information is available at this time.

Just another typically risky ride on the Westside, and a whole lot of mostly non-Lance links

It was just another ride on the Westside.

Full of doorings and blocked bike lanes, cut-off drivers and construction zones.

The sad part is, there was nothing unusual about it. This is what we have to contend with on a daily basis. And this part of the city, through now officially bike friendly L.A. and Santa Monica, is about as good as it gets in SoCal with the possible exception of Long Beach.

It could have been worse.

I left out video from a three-block stretch of San Vicente Blvd where the bike lane was blocked by a Hollywood production crew, because it *might* have shown someone riding through it anyway.

And we certainly don’t want to encourage that sort of behavior.

………

I’ve been doing my best to ignore the whole Lance Armstrong dopergate scandal. And it’s not like you can’t find all the news you can stomach on the subject without my help.

But there are a few stories that add a little depth to the coverage.

A report on CNN accuses Lance of pocketing $1 million donors that may have thought was going to Livestrong, as well as accusing him of being an arrogant jerk. Lance gets a lifetime ban, but the door is left open for other doping riders to repent. The NY Times reports that his wall of silence fell one rider at a time.

Meanwhile, UCI chief Pat McQuaid — who oversaw over a decade of doping cyclists with no apparent repercussions — calls Landis and Hamilton scumbags; pot, meet kettle. Christophe Bassons, known as Mr. Clean for his anti-doping stance, is banned for one year for dodging a dope test. Johny Schleck, father of top pros Frank and Andy, urges his sons to quit, saying “This is no life.” Rabobank is shocked! shocked! to find doping in pro cycling.

And if a doping cyclist causes you to rethink your support of an anti-cancer charity, you’re giving for the wrong reasons.

Thanks to George Wolfberg and @sonofabike for some of the above links.

………

Evidently, attempting to intentionally run down a cyclist and a pedestrian — the latter because he was wearing plaid — is no big deal, as a Tiburon driver gets one-year probation and a three to five year driving ban.

Does anyone think he would have gotten the same wrist-slap sentence if he’d used a gun instead a car?

Anyone?

………

LACBC co-founder Ron Milam makes the case for Los Angeles as a bicycling city; the Bike League says it takes a village to build a Bike Friendly Community. A road diet is being considered for 6th Street in the Miracle Mile, so why aren’t they planning on bike lanes? Better Bike says Beverly Hills police are off-base in how they read the law relating to bikes. Los Angeles gets its first pedestrian coordinators. Cycloscross comes to Glassell Park this weekend. Bikes bring cyclists of different ethnicities together to reduce tensions. The Eastside Bike Club invites you to join in on their Dia de los Muertos ride on November 2nd. Temple City prepares to try once again to make Rosemead Blvd better for bike riders and other humans. CLR Effect looks at last weekend’s Spooky Cross costume ride and the actual race that followed; he also notes the passing of a local cycling legend.

Anaheim police shoot an alleged gang member trying to flee on his bike. Orange County — yes, the entire county — gets a bronze Bike Friendly Community award the same day L.A. does. OC’s Aliso Creek trail is named part of the national trail system. Despite the recent deaths in Newport Beach, Santa Ana is the most dangerous city for cyclists in Orange County. A San Diego councilmember rides with local cyclists to learn about bike issues in his district. Bike SD looks at three-foot laws across the US in the wake of Governor Brown’s second misguided veto. After a Poway boy is injured by a car while riding his bike, press reports note that he wasn’t “wearing a helmet or any other protective gear;” what, like body armor or bubble wrap? Seriously? A 13-year old Ventura County boy is critically injured when he’s run down from behind in a SWSS, as the driver claimed he couldn’t avoid the victim after the rider stopped at the intersection then turned across the vehicle’s path. Our neighbors to the north in Kern County plan to increase county bikeways by a factor of 10. Maybe they’re starting to fight back — a Benecia cyclist is seriously injured after crashing into a flock of wild turkeys. Berkeley’s first Sunday Streets event is a success. Pleasanton police target underage riders without helmets.

Grist says bike riders are better for the economy than drivers; but you already knew that, right? Bike commuting is on the rise in the US. Bike Snob offers his own unique take on cyclocross. Boulder CO cyclist get a new 40-acre off-road bike park. Colorado’s Fort Lewis College dominates the collegiate mountain bike championships. St. Louis passes a city ordinance banning harassment of cyclists and pedestrians. Vandals destroy a new lighted bike path at Syracuse University. A Boston bike share rider explains why he doesn’t use a helmet; maybe so, but going without one because they’re not attractive has to be one of the most asinine reasons ever given. Dispelling the myths about bicycling in Philadelphia; clearly, the writer gets it. A Florida driver gets seven years for the hit-and-run death of a bike riding Japanese college student.

A new study from the University of Duh shows roads with parked cars are most dangerous for cyclists, and separated bikeways pose one tenth the risk of unmarked routes. An Ottawa writer clearly gets it, in one of the smartest pieces I’ve seen from a motorist’s perspective. In a horrifying case from Cardiff, Wales, a murderous driver goes on an intentional hit-and-run spree, killing one woman and injuring 11 others in a rampage that lasted three miles and 30 minutes. Evidently, life is cheap in the UK, or maybe they just take boat racing seriously — a British driver gets eight months for killing a cyclist, two months more than another man got for disrupting a race on the Thames. Maybe that will change, as British government officials meet with bike advocates to discuss justice for cyclists, while a Brit writer says FU, sincerely — and more than once — to the UK’s father of Vehicular Cycling. Three-time Giro d’Italia winner Fiorenzo Magni died at the age of 91. And the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain offers a link wrap-up that goes far beyond mine; the student has clearly surpassed the master.

Finally, when a man walks in on his girlfriend with another man, the writer building a bike for her gets to keep it. Then again, if someone would just move those damn deer crossing signs, maybe they wouldn’t get hit so often.

And if you missed it, here’s a helmet cam video of LACBC Planning and Policy director Eric Bruins’ remarks at last week’s press conference announcing L.A. as a Bike Friendly Community.

Could extra bright lights save the lives of SoCal cyclists?

A few months back, Mark Goodley nearly lost his life in a left hook while riding in Corona del Mar.

Since then, we’ve exchanged a few emails as he continued to recover from his injuries and return to riding. Most have focused on the subject of safety, and how to keep more riders from suffering his fate. Or worse.

Lately, he’s settled on a bold campaign to put multiple bright lights on the backs of bikes to demand attention from motorist, and overcome the common SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You) excuse that too often serves as a Get Out of Jail Free card for killer drivers.

To be honest, I can’t say I agree with the approach, for a number of reasons. But I thought it was worth letting Mark explain his program and let you decide.

……..

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride Ultra BRIGHT, Day AND night

I’m not going to get into the political/legal quagmire and entanglement of the who’s right and who’s wrong debates… I AM going to try and make a strong case for how you can greatly increase the odds of NOT being killed (or seriously injured) while riding your bicycle in our streets.

TODAY/ NOW; we will determine and ENGAGE; the quickest, cheapest, and most effective solution to avoid the horrific carnage of cycling’s fatality collisions… This letter applies to both cyclists and drivers. Today… not days, weeks, months, or years into the future… Everything else can/will come with time… safer roads, better drivers, smarter cyclists…

But we’ve GOT to start stemming the tide against the collisions, fatalities and injuries, NOW, TODAY…

I’m becoming more and more convinced, with each day, that the only expedient, practical, affordable, and immediately effective means to reduce the terrifying carnage on our streets is for cyclists to ”Ride Ultra BRIGHT, DAY and night.” That is, ride with Multiple Ultra Bright FLASHING LED lights, DAY and night… This is not the ‘ole’ school’ approach of which I have been a staunch advocate in the past. But you’ve got to ask yourself a very real and important question: “which is more important, to look cool or stay alive?” The older (and wiser) we get, the more the response sways to the latter…

It is said that a smart man learns from his own mistakes… while the brilliant man learns from the mistakes of others… So PLEASE, PAY ATTENTION.

BRIGHT FLASHING LED lights are highly visible a minimum of 200 yards away during the DAY TIME! That’s TWO Football fields away… allowing ample time for a driver to spot, identify, move and avoid a cyclist... that’s many, many seconds of time to react, rather than mere fractions of a single second for a driver to see, and avoid YOU which is often otherwise the situation… IMPORTANT Note: Almost EVERY single driver interviewed by the police after a bicycling fatality makes nearly the same exact statement:I never saw them”… (I would add…until it’s too late)… This is no coincidence as we’ll see below. I am absolutely convinced that most often they are telling the truth.

If we want to be completely honest, ALL of us drive comatose at times, our IQ’s barely register, and what is EQUALLY true, is that often times cyclists ARE literally invisible; we’re in the dark shadows of tall trees on bright sunny cloudless days, riding directly into a sunrise/sunset, behind a wall or building, hidden amongst  the cars and trucks in traffic, etc… Combining these two factors together in any proportion is a recipe for DEATH. Half of the world’s population has a below average IQ, increasing a drivers reaction time.  (This is not being rude, nor a sociological commentary, but a simple statistical fact). The visual cortex is in the back of the brain, not the front, where it really should be, also lengthening response time. Our eyes’ pupils take a long time to adjust to changing light and dark conditions…. MOST drivers that hit cyclists are not bad people, they ARE human. You get the point… We, as cyclists MUST help them see us.

What’s the answer?

Ultra BRIGHT FLASHING Lights provide and communicate an effective Early Warning Defense System to the driver, giving them time to adjust to our presence. It also subconsciously tells the driver that “we care about our own life and welfare,” a surprisingly powerful and real human response/reaction.

SAVE YOUR Life, Ride ULtra BRIGHT, DAY And night… Attach at least three Flashing BRIGHT LED rear lights to you and your bike… Why three? That is the minimum number of distinct reference points in ‘space’ that our brain’s visual cortex needs to quickly and immediately “lock on” to detect distance, direction and speed… There is no time consuming overhead for the brain to waste many seconds triangulating a position or calculating paths, direction, speed, etc… as with a single point source for example. Why lights on the rear? Because hit from behind collisions outnumber all other fatalities 2-1, and we have to start somewhere. Would it be best to mount more on the front for example? Certainly; but START somewhere.  I recommend starting with one on the seat post, one on the left seat stay, and one on your person, the left jersey pocket if possible.

When you go fishing, do you fish with a dark black lure, or do you use a BRIGHT FLASHING LURE?  Imagine ALL drivers are just stupid fish, you have to get their attention first, to avoid you…

Ask yourself, why are ALL government/city trucks required by law to have multiples of flashing lights?  And THEY’RE HUGE TRUCKS… not easily missed relatively small cyclists…

So far I have only been able to find one rear hit, fatal collision accident (the jury is still out as the  Freedom of Information Act info trickles in) where a rider was hit from behind while cycling with light(s) ON (I don’t yet know  the brand/model)… (That was Danae Miller on San Joaquin, Newport Beach, last year). Therefore the overwhelming number of fatalities have happened WITHOUT Multiple FLASHING Lights ON… We had two in one weekend here last month! That seems VERY IMPORTANT to me…

Helpful Tips; Light Selection 1. If you can look directly at a flashing light at arm’s length, it’s NOT BRIGHT enough. 2. Get rechargeable batteries and you will quickly form the habit of always turning them on without worrying about ”wasting them”… (Costco sells cheap packs). Isn’t your life and health worth more than a package of batteries? (I did it too).

Personally, for the moment, I’m not trying to change the roads, laws, public mindset, driver/cyclist education or habits, etc… and I really don’t care who’s at fault… (from personal experience, I can say with some assurance, that no one lying in the street in their own blood does)… for the moment, I’m trying help you save your own life and that of your family and friends… by preventing horrible accidents like mine… today/now!… and this “solution” clearly seems to be the lowest hanging fruit that’s quickly reachable…

Sometimes, “Might IS RIGHT,” and 2,000-10,000 pounds of hard, fast moving steel is ALWAYS going to be “right” against a cyclist.

Until we live in a perfect world, with perfect drivers, and on perfectly designed and built roads, this is the BEST, EASIEST, FASTEST, and CHEAPEST way to push and skew the odds HIGHLY in your favor.

Keep the rubber side down.

Ciao,

Mark

Note; I was in a near fatality accident on PCH in Corona del Mae three+ months ago, which was outlined in this blog. I ride about 10,000 miles/year, mostly with my wife on PCH. I went to France to see my first TdF in 1976. We’ve ridden stages of all three Grand Tours. I’ve been hit and thrown in Huntington Beach.

Professionally, I am an industrial product designer and teach design/engineering at IVC, but I am also a licensed USA Cycling Pro Race Mechanic and serve on the local Amgen Tour of California Stage Planning Committee in charge of the VIP tents. I studied pre-med at USC with one of my majors being Bio-Psychology, today’s topic.

Surviving a Sunday Westside right hook — a first person account from the lucky cyclist involved

Sometimes it’s better to start at the end.

So let me start by saying that Michael Eisenberg is okay. Which is not what you’d expect after reading his description of the right hook collision he suffered on Sunday while riding his bike through Brentwood on his way to the Marina.

But we’ll let him tell the story.

I am very lucky. I was riding my road bike from home near the Chatsworth reservoir to Marina Del Rey today (Sunday) to go sailing. At noon, I was westbound on Sunset Blvd looking to make a left on Kenter Avenue.

There was too much traffic to work over to the left turn lane, so I chose to do what I thought was the safest alternative. I pedaled across Kenter, stopped at the corner, and waited for the traffic light to change so I could then cross Sunset. I could see a line of cars in the lane behind me with a Toyota Prius at the head of the line.  I did not see a right turn flasher.

The light changed, and I proceeded to cross Sunset. The next thing I remember is my shoes disengaging from the pedals of my bike followed by me slamming into the windshield of the Toyota Prius. My next recollection was of lying in the middle of Sunset Blvd, about 10 feet away from the Prius and my bike another 10 feet farther down the street.

I was surrounded by bystanders.  One was a cyclist who was an EMT asking me who the president of the United States is. Another bystander was a Doctor, and he started a basic neurological evaluation. LA City Fire arrived shortly afterwards, I’d guess within 2 minutes. LAPD arrived Code 3 in another 5 minutes. Fortunately, this was not a hit & run, as the 75 year old female driver of the Prius was a little shaken up.

The LA City Fire EMTs could not find any injuries, and I was feeling little discomfort. The most interesting anomaly was that my heart rate monitor had recorded an instantaneous jump from 70 to 160 at the moment of impact. For better or worse, I decided to decline a ride to the hospital. It was then the LAPD’s turn to write the accident report. I didn’t actually see the report, I only received an incident receipt to use to acquire the report in the future. I did mention to the female Prius driver, while standing next to the LAPD officer, that if her handicap placard wasn’t hanging from her rear view mirror obstructing her vision she probably could have seen me.

When all the paperwork was done, I checked my bike and equipment and found everything to be scuffed or cracked. My 2 month old BH Prisma Force looked trashed, but still operable. My Specialized helmet, gloves and carbon shoes were all scuffed. They all did their job blunting the impact and receiving road rash, saving my skull and skin from being injured.

I finished up the last 5 miles of my ride to the Marina. By that time there were various parts of my body (hip, calf, neck) that were causing me just a little discomfort. I elected to get a ride from my son to Kaiser for a quick check. That is where I received the biggest assault to my dignity. The Doctor came into the examining room, and said “I see you ran into a car”. I politely corrected him, and he then said “the nurse wrote down that you ran into a car, so you must have run into a car.” I felt I was being branded as guilty because I am a cyclist.

Anyway, X-rays showed nothing to be concerned about. The recommendation was to take it easy for 3 days, with application of an ice pack as necessary on my neck for a mild strain. The next step for me is to contact the Prius driver’s insurance company and see what they are going to do about replacing my bike and gear.

As Michael says, he was lucky.

And yes, it sounds like he did exactly what he should have done. I usually try to use the left turn lane to make a left, but when traffic conditions or a dangerous intersection make that too risky, I’ll make the same sort of L turn he did. I try to position myself just in front of the right fender of the lead car at the intersection, or just in front and to its left if it’s making a turn.

The problem comes when drivers too often don’t indicate they’re turning. Combine that with an obstructed view from behind, and you’ve got a situation where you can do everything right, and still get hurt.

It will be interesting to see if the police report agrees when he gets a copy.

………

Herb Meyerowitz forwards a flyer he received while trying to enter the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park, a popular parking spot for cyclists preparing to ride PCH.

I’ve been aware for some time that Malibu was considering asking cyclists to park elsewhere in order to leave sufficient space for other park visitors; complaints have been made that we hog too many weekend parking spaces, leaving little room for actual park visitors.

However, this is the first I’ve heard that they’re actually attempting to herd bike riders Webster Elementary School.

It seems like a reasonable request — especially with the promise that restrooms and water will be made available to riders.

Let me know how it works out if you give it a try.

………

Tragedy strikes the annual LoToJa race as a rider falls off a bridge to his death on Sunday.

According to multiple sources, Robert Verhaaren, a 42-year old father from Mesa, Arizona, reportedly swerved to avoid a pothole on over a Snake River bridge in Wyoming. He lost control, hit the guardrail and went over the side of the bridge, falling 35 feet to his death.

The 206 mile ride from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the longest race sanctioned by USA Cycling; tragically, Verhaaren died just eight miles from the finish line.

………

The victim in last weekend’s Topanga Canyon hit-and-run has been identified as 60-year old Gary Morris of Van Nuys. Police are looking for a 1996 to 2000 Land Rover with possible damage to the right front. Anyone with information should call CHP Investigator Brooke Covington at 818-888-0980, ext. 228.

………

A Denver cyclist says traffic laws weren’t made for cyclists. And uses that as justification for breaking them.

Meanwhile, an Asheville writer says cyclists have to give a little, too.

………

A hyperventilating commenter on an earlier story says cyclists are crazy to ride on major roads, where speeding cars pass them by just inches.

Do I really need to say I disagree?

………

Former doper tainted meat eater Alberto Contador makes a dramatic comeback by winning his second Vuelta; fellow Spaniards Alejandro Valverede and Joaquin Rodriguez finish second and third, respectively.

………

Finally, a writer for the London Mail rips the cycling world a new one — especially the life-threatening Lycra louts she claims hit her elderly mother twice in just three weeks. Only problem is, she wrote almost exactly the same story two years ago; thanks to UK bike scribe Carlton Reid for the links.

Motorists behaving badly — casually cutting off cyclists for no apparent reason

It never ceases to amaze me.

Cyclists are constantly criticized for cutting off drivers. And yes, some of it is justified.

On the other hand, many drivers don’t think twice about cutting off a cyclist, casually pulling out in front of a rider with the right-of-way, as if we don’t have any right to the road.

Or aren’t even there.

A recent ride last week seems to illustrate that perfectly.

In the course of a few short hours, I was cut off by four separate drivers in four separate incidents. And none seemed to think it was any big deal.

None drove aggressively. None seemed in a particular hurry, or even seemed to take much notice of my presence on the road.

No big deal, evidently.

First up was a driver who made a left turn across my path, without ever looking in my direction. And at the base of a hill where I usually reach 25 mph; fortunately, I began feathering my brakes as soon as I saw him, just in case he did something stupid.

Like not even noticing me until he was passing me.

Then exactly one block later, I was about to cross Westwood Blvd when one driver turned left in front of me, with plenty of time to clear the intersection before I entered.

Unlike the driver behind him, who casually followed the first through the intersection, even though I was already crossing it.

And this one definitely saw me.

You can see me point at her in an attempt to get her to wait; what you can’t see is the driver sarcastically pointing back at me.

In other words, she knew I was there. And just didn’t care.

An hour or so later, I was waiting on the light at Washington and Pacific, with cars in the lane behind me, and others lined up in the right turn lane next to me.

Yet when the light changed, the driver attempted to make a left directly in front of me. Or more precisely, through me, since I foolishly assumed I had the right-of-way once the light changed.

I have no idea whether he actually saw me before he turned directly towards me. But he had to have seen the cars behind me, and known it wasn’t his turn.

Or smart, for that matter.

Finally, there was the driver on Montana in Brentwood who passed me, then casually cut in front of me to wait for a parking space.

Never mind that I was riding at the edge of the traffic lane, just outside the door zone.

She clearly knew I was there, having just passed me. And clearly, my presence didn’t seem to make any impression on her.

Frankly, I don’t know which is worse.

The drivers who cut you off because they don’t see you. Or the ones who do, and do it anyway.

………

Then again, the other major complaint against cyclists is how casually we run stop signs.

………

While New York continues to crack down on scofflaw cyclists, a study shows 60% of cyclists and pedestrians killed in the city over a 15 year period resulted from motorists breaking traffic laws — most of which weren’t prosecuted.

………

Pasadena-based bicycle attorney Thomas Forsyth — you’ll find him over there on the right — has developed a new iPhone and Android app to help walk you through the steps to follow if you’re ever in a collision.

It wouldn’t hurt to download it just in case.

I’m not much of an app user myself; I still suffer from that antiquated notion that phones are annoying devices best used for making and receiving calls. But if anyone would like to try it out and write a review, I’ll be happy to post it on here.

………

Metro is sponsoring a free family bike ride on Saturday, September 8th. Don’t miss next week’s meeting to discuss a possible CicLAvia to the Sea. B.I.K.A.S. deconstructs the new US bicycling postage stamps. Flying Pigeon hosts the Spoke(n) Art Ride this Saturday. L.A.’s soon-to-be bike share provider now has a new blog; thanks to LADOT Bike Blog for the link. Better Bike takes a detailed look at Beverly Hills bike collisions. A Santa Monica cyclist is challenged to fight by a group of men who cut him off in a car, then steal his bike when he calls 911; if you know the victim, I know a lawyer who wants to help. KPCC looks at the non-Olympic sport of bike polo, and offers video of Wolfpack Hustle’s recent midnight drag race. Advice on riding in hot weather; my suggestion is to buy insulated water bottles, and put them in the freezer before you ride. Long Beach’s bicycling expats, who seem to have taken up at least semi-permanent residence in Portland, have published The Unauthorized Brompton Touring Guide, available as an ebook. Upcoming Calabasas bike-centric restaurant and coffee roaster Pedalers Fork introduces their new team kit.

OC bike advocate Frank Peters is interviewed for an online radio show, while Mrs. cdmcyclist walks away — or rather rides — from a tumble. Del Mar residents will vote on whether to make their downtown more livable, or keep it a gridlocked mess. An annual, but unofficial, bike ride gridlocks Santa Barbara when over 1,000 riders show up. A Corona teacher plans to give away 155 bikes to disadvantaged children. Cyclist survives a 40 mph hit-from-behind collision when a driver removed his shirt while driving to wipe sweat from his eyes; no, really, that’s what it says. Riverside County discusses a multi-use trail from Temecula to Idyllwild, featuring a 4,000 foot elevation gain. The Imperial Valley Press profiles the weekly Mexicali ride in Calexico, and a 78-year old cyclist who’s still going strong.

How to transport a small mammal by bike. As others have pointed out, roads were not built for cars; evidently, railroad tracks weren’t, either. Bicycling says coffee can help you bounce back from a hard ride, if you drink enough of it. A publication on governing says cities need to protect cyclists and pedestrians. A tossed beer can reminds the publisher of Tucson Velo just how vulnerable cyclists are. Chicago cyclists will get 34 miles of protected bike lanes before the end of the year; as far as I know, L.A. cyclists still don’t have any. A Minneapolis driver admits to running over a cyclist and fleeing the scene. A Vermont rider is injured in a left cross collision when a driver turns in front of four — yes, four — cyclists, but claims he never saw any of them. A writer for Reuters says the recent ethical case for running red lights is morally indefensible, while the Atlantic Cities looks at why riders do it. A volunteer Brooklyn bike patrol escorts women safely to their homes. New York bike thieves are stripping ghost bikes for parts. If this is all you have to say about ghost bikes, why bother? Chattanooga-based LiteSpeed Bicycles helped build the new Mars rover. A Virginia driver is indicted for felony hit-and-run in the death of cyclist last week; the driver claims he thought he hit a deer, though he has at least a dozen other moving violations over the last 10 years — so why did he still have a license? The Virginia Bicycling Federation looks at proper lane positioning; I like the way the LAPD puts it — ride where it’s right, not to the right. A Florida man is charged with two counts of first degree murder for running down two cyclists while trying to escape from police; his alleged accomplice has also been arrested.

The World Anti-Doping Agency tells the UCI to back off in the Lance Armstrong case; the current cat fight between doping agencies is more interesting than the case itself. It’s all about the bike in the UK right now, as the Royal Mail honors the country’s many, many gold metal winning cyclists. Evidently, cycling really is dangerous, as a superfan dies while watching track cycling at the Olympic velodrome. The UK’s Southampton Cycling Campaign calls for strict liability for drivers who hit cyclists. The Guardian calls for bicycling proficiency to be required to get a drivers license; best idea I’ve heard in a long time. A new book traces a mythical bike race through the streets of London in highly detailed illustrations. South Africa considers banning bike trailers for no apparent reason.

Finally, after a cyclist runs a stop sign, a road raging driver chases him down to yell at him, then uses her car as a weapon to cut him off. And brags about it online. Of course, it’s not the first time the bike-hating writer had taken all cyclists to task for the actions of a few. Or one.

And a London rider watches as a truck driver forces a cyclist off the road, then admits to doing it on purpose.

Things you see when you’re riding — road raging cyclist and driver fist fight on Santa Monica Street

.

Don’t ask me why I went that way.

My plan was to bypass the meshugenah frenzy of Main Street traffic and shopping Main in Santa Monica on Wednesday.

But at the last moment, I decided to cut up Ocean Park Blvd from the beach, and head up Main to Abbot Kinney before making my way down the coastal bike path.

Just as I rounded the corner at Main, though, I saw a guy charge up to a little red delivery truck on the opposite side of the street, jerk the door open and pull the driver out before he began punching him.

Or more precisely, punching at him, as neither party seemed to be able to land a decent punch.

Ali vs Frazier, this was not.

As I went back and dialed 911, the pugilists seemed to calm down; the first guy went around the other side of the truck, emerging with a bike.

He looked like he was trying to ride off when the driver grabbed the rack on the back of his bike; next thing I knew they were exchanging words again, followed quickly by more punches.

Eventually, sanity seemed to prevail, and the cyclist rode off up Ocean Park, followed by the SUV. And both were gone long before the police arrived.

Then again, so was I, as I got tired of waiting and continued on my ride after the 911 operator assured me they had my phone number if they needed me.

Why the fight, I have no idea.

Judging from the position of the bike behind the truck, it could have been a near miss right hook, or the driver may have even bumped the bike just before I got there.

But that’s pure speculation. It could just as easily been the result of an ongoing dispute that started blocks earlier.

And either party could have been to blame.

However, I do know that the cyclist was legally in the wrong the moment he pulled the driver from the truck. On the other hand, the driver had the chance to walk away and chose not to, leading to round two.

In other words, they could both have faced charges if the police had arrived sooner.

So don’t be an idiot.

No matter how mad you get, or how justified you feel, just get the license number and ride away.

It beats the hell out of going to court on criminal charges.

Or maybe getting your ass kicked.

Or worse.

Thanks to Chris and the gang at the Westwood Helen’s for hooking me up with the helmet cam — and fixing up my bike so I could ride a little easier with it. And thanks to Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious for volunteering to pitch in to process the video when my Mac failed me.

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