Tag Archive for car vs. bike

Today’s post, in which we discuss the anti-bike biased, and breaking the law in the name of good

Stolen with permission from Carlton Reid; click on photo for more.

I love this photo, stolen with permission from Carlton Reid.

There’s been a new round of bike hate rearing its ugly head lately.

Most of it somewhat confusing.

Like this piece forwarded by bike rider and motorsport enthusiast Michael Eisenberg, in which a Brit driver takes cyclists to task.

For not knowing our place. And not waving.

Seriously.

Today’s cyclists seem to be angry.  They seem not to enjoy what they do but to grimly pursue their ‘hobby’ in the name of fitness.  They seem to think other road users are a threatening morass of metal out to kill them.  So they spew vibes of resentment and refuse to acknowledge the presence of anything else.  They do not flinch.

The problem is they travel at one third the speed of other traffic and never recognise that fact nor do anything about it.  I don’t mean that cyclists should get out of my way, I mean that after I have waited behind said two-wheeled leg-driven machine that the human on top of it could at least raise a hand and acknowledge my patience, and I will wave back at him to acknowledge his politeness and right to use the same roads as I do.

Cyclists and other road users should get along.  They don’t because they’re either in a race (which no-one else is allowed to do on the road) or because they have a deep in-built sense of entitlement to the detriment of everyone else.

They grit their teeth and hate us.

And yet, he acknowledges that many cyclists are drivers, and vice versa. But insists that we hate them — or us — when we ride, whoever we and us and them happen to be at any given time.

So, when I ride, I hate myself for driving when I’m not riding, right?

Okay, so he’s got a point.

We can all be a  little friendlier when we ride. A little wave of thanks or a nod and smile here and there can make a big difference in your day. And theirs.

But the rest just makes my head hurt.

Then there’s this piece from a writer in the San Fernando Valley, who hates bike riders, in part, because a drunk smelled of booze fell off his bike and scratched her Mercedes.

Even though that drunk probably would have done a lot more damage if he’d been behind the wheel. Or likely just as much if not more if he’d been on foot.

And to be honest, the overwhelming majority of bike riders may smell of something. But’s it’s probably not liquor; that usually comes later.

I mean, she’s more than welcome to sniff me after my next half century.

But what really set her off was having to swerve to avoid a bike rider who had the audacity to take a tumble in front of her expensive German engineered automobile.

In fact, on Wednesday I saw a potentially lethal accident almost occur in a busy Victory Boulevard intersection near my house when a man who was riding his bike and talking on his cell phone lost control of his bike and fell in the middle of the friggin’ street! It happened in front of me so I saw him and maneuvered around his sorry self. I don’t know if everybody behind me saw him and avoided hitting him or not. But hey, we drivers are not allowed to drive and talk on cell phones at the same time. But apparently bicyclists are. That incident is the reason I am writing this.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

But if it’s a potentially lethal accident, wouldn’t anyone with the slightest bit of human compassion try to stop her car in front of the victim to keep drivers running over him?

Or at least stop afterwards to see if the guy needs help, and wave other motorists around him?

No, she’d rather just swerve around his crumpled body and go on her merry way. Then complain about what a jerk he was later.

Then again, maybe she was just trying to avoid a parking ticket.

And yes, under current California law, bike riders are allowed to use a cell phone while they ride, on the assumption that our 20 pound bikes pose less risk than her multi-ton machine, regardless of distraction.

………

Not all the recent conversation has been filed with hate, though.

In a mostly positive piece, a Philadelphia bicyclist extolls the virtues of breaking the law. Not all the time, of course; just when it makes sense for safety and convenience.

I broke a law and one that I hold in much higher esteem than stopping at a red light when there are no cars or pedestrians around. I did it because I feared for my safety, which is very often my motivation when breaking traffic laws on my bike. Cars are scary as hell. A lot of people just see them as a given, practically an appendage. Get out of my way, I’m drivin’ here. (Studies show that drivers are at fault in the vast majority of auto/bicycle crashes.)

On the whole, I’m a pretty civilized biker. I don’t salmon down one-way streets, I don’t ride on the sidewalk, and when I arrive at a four-way intersection after a car I try to indicate that they should just treat me as another vehicle and go first. But biking in the city can be dangerous, and I’ll take the law into my own hands when I feel threatened. I even break the sacrosanct sidewalk rule when I bike up to my apartment, as the street in front of it is usually lined with cars and lacks a northward stop sign, so drivers frequently blast down it at alarming speeds. I’m not dismounting there, thanks.

He’s got a point.

I’m a firm believer in following the law all the time. Except when I don’t.

Out of all the stop signs on the Westside, there’s only one I run, because the placement of the sign makes stopping there more dangerous than not.

And while I insist riders should never, ever ride salmon, I’ve been know to do it for short distances when a gap in traffic makes it the safest option to get to my destination.

But that’s the thing.

Traffic laws weren’t written with bicyclists in mind. While obeying them provides the safest and best choice in the overwhelming majority of situations, you’re the one with your life on the line. And it’s up to you to make the decisions that will best ensure your safety.

And that doesn’t always mean following the letter of the law.

On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean riding like a jerk just because you can.

As far as I’m concerned, it comes down to this. The highest law of bicycling is to always ride safely; that is, in a way that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to yourself or those around you.

Most of the time that means obeying the law.

And sometimes, it doesn’t.

………

Unbeknownst to me, Contour — the make of my helmet cam — went belly up in August; one of the original investors may try to resuscitate the brand.

………

The coming artistic revolution will not be coming by car. Advocates continue to push for a more livable Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex; maybe there’s a better plan. The Ghost Bikes of LA exhibit opens tonight. Culver City council to consider bike parking on Monday. Malibu hits the brakes on a study of PCH parking; but don’t you have to know what the problem is before you can solve it? Spooky Cross comes to the Pomona Fairplex this weekend. Next month’s LACBC Sunday Funday Ride visits the architectural gems of LA’s most upscale neighborhood with the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire Ride November 3rd. CICLE and Metro team up for a Northridge Delis, Desserts and Deliciousness Ride on the 16th. The LACBC and LA Walks invite you to discuss the Public Health Approach to Walking and Biking November 21st. Ride 2 Recovery rolls through the Central Coast. Chico prepares a ghost bike for a fallen cyclist who did everything right and died anyway.

If bicycling is booming, why are bike sales down? How not to be a bike jerk in three easy steps. Good advice: stop riding when your butt hurts. Speaking of which, an Indiegogo campaign promises to deliver more comfortable bike jeans for women. An “indicator species” cyclist says bike lanes are bad, even though studies show they improve safety. Denver reaches 100 miles of bike lanes. A Chicago alderman calls for a $25 annual registration fee for bikes; good way to discourage bike riding and increase traffic congestion. Meanwhile, an anti-bike columnist says $25 isn’t enough, let’s make it $100, while a cyclist says bike riders should pay their share, so where’s her check? A Chicago thief is caught on video trying to steal 384 pounds of meat by bike; if he can lift that much that easily, he must be the world’s strongest man. New York wins its first lawsuit over bike share docks. New York cops ignore the state’s careless driving law. A DC driver uses Craigslist to apologize to the cyclist she almost hit. WaPo looks at the quest to reinvent bicycling. The president of Virginia Tech right hooks a bike rider, then sends her flowers to make up for it. A cyclist bikes the Underground Railroad.

Once again, the bike rider wins a commuter challenge, this time in Vancouver. Ontario considers increasing penalties for distracted driving. London’s flawed bike safety campaign extends to five other UK cities. A UK cyclist is charged with wanton and furious cycling for the collision that gravely injured a young girl. A British bicycling organization says white lines aren’t enough to keep cyclists safe, while London’s coroner calls for further action to save the lives of bike riders. Maybe it’s me, but when you erect safety barriers after a cyclist gets killed, isn’t it a little too late? After the cyclist he hit dies in his arms, a UK truck driver tells the court it’s been bad for his family, but worse for his victim’s; nice to see someone who gets it for a change. A new Streetfilm looks at how the Netherlands transformed itself for cycling. Long-time German pro Andreas Kloeden calls it a career; is it just me, or are a lot of riders from the doping era retiring now that pro cycling has supposedly cleaned up its act? Bikes are outselling cars in virtually every European country. Why banning bikes is bad for Kolkata, or Calcutta, or whatever you want to call it. Saudi women to protest laws prohibiting them from riding bikes. Japan teaches students not to be killer cyclists; yeah, I’m sure that’s the biggest death risk on the country’s roads.

Finally, what a seriously hairy downhill and 360 degree flip look like from the rider’s perspective. And if you want to see more breathtaking bike photos, take a look at this series from yesterday’s ride by UK bike journalist Carlton Reid.

Just another right hook — from the left lane

After awhile, you get to know the streets you ride.

Like this intersection on eastbound Ohio Ave, one block west of Sepulveda. I’ve learned to slow down there in anticipation of right hooks, as drivers stuck in traffic make a sudden decision to turn right without checking the bike lane first.

But I’ve never been right hooked from the left lane before.

Just another ride on the Westside, and the Department of DIY finds a way on the LA River

Please forgive yesterday’s radio silence.

I try to post something every day, or weekday, anyway; even bike bloggers need a little time off. But sometimes the demands of daily life get in the way.

And sometimes, I just need to get in a good ride on a perfect fall LA day. Good ride being a relative term, if Westside drivers have any say in the matter.

Then there’s the problem of the day’s designated Preventer of Productivity climbing up unbidden for an extended round of petting, ear scratching and belly rubs, forming an impermeable barrier between my laptop and lap.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to edit video one handed.

Sienna on lap

Then there’s another project that’s been occupying most of my time lately, which I hope to share with you in the coming weeks as progress allows.

Stay tuned.

……….

Meanwhile, Patrick Pascal sends word that the Department of DIY has been hard at work on wayfinding signage on the LA River bike path near the southern end of the Frogtown section, which he describes as “both professional and also informative, useful and long overdue.”

Word is that the city is working on a half million dollar wayfinding system of their own, which will cover bikeways across the city.

But whether they can do a better job than the person or persons who took it upon themselves to craft these particularly well-done on-path street signs remains to be seen.

la river path denbyA well-deserved tip of the hat, whoever you are.

Sometimes, no news is just no news, so let’s get on with a long list of bike links

That’s how it goes sometimes.

I started collecting links for a new post on Friday, but breaking news has kept it offline. And in the meantime, they aren’t getting any fresher, as some of the stories I’ve been hoarding are rapidly nearing their expiration date.

Meanwhile, there’s still no more news on the cryptic reports of cyclists killed in Blythe and Pomona, let alone identification of the rider fatally doored in Hollywood earlier this month. And the bike liaisons for the area appear to be ignoring my request for more information, after apparently thinking no one would be interested in hearing about it at the LAPD bike task force meeting last week.

God, I miss Sgt. Krumer.

Although you’d t least think the death of a bicyclist would make the local news in small town like Blythe, but evidently, it’s less important than announcing the winner of the local rabbit show.

And details on the rider killed in Pomona appear to be a state secret, as no more details appear to have been released by anyone, let alone the authorities. An unconfirmed, and somewhat distasteful, comment to my story suggests the victim was an older man who may have died from a head injury.

So rather than wait for details that don’t appear to be coming, let’s get these links out and make a little more room on the shelf.

………

The battle over bike lanes goes on.

A forum is scheduled to discuss bike lanes in NELA March 27th, while Brentwood residents say no to bike lanes on Bundy; you can sign a petition to support the Bundy and Centinela bike lanes here. And in a surprisingly rational approach, North Hollywood cyclists and business owners agree to actually sit down and talk with each other.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Tom LaBonge officially unveils new bike lanes on Rowena Ave, saying the city’s plan is to make L.A. more bike friendly “where appropriate.”

So where exactly is bike safety inappropriate?

And Better Bike insightfully asks whether the proposed Bundy bike lanes will be the canary in the coal mine that tests the city’s commitment to balancing road safety with political commitment.

………

The Times’ new transportation reporter offers a look at the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race; estimates of riders participating the highly praised event range from 3,000 to 5,000.

Meanwhile, hand cyclists compete in the L.A. Marathon. And if you can’t manage to plan your driving around a highly publicized event that’s scheduled a full year in advance, maybe you shouldn’t be driving.

………

Help fund a series of bike-in movies on the L.A River. Photos from the funeral of fallen Cal Poly Pomona cyclist Ivan Aguilar. The 5th annual Santa Clarita Century rolls on the 30th. Despite what some drivers think, PCH is not a freeway, which is exactly the problem. An alleged L.A. gang member is injured in a ride-by shooting, which happens far more often than you might think. This Thursday, the LACBC Planning Committee hosts a discussion of how bike friendly places are made; highly recommended. LACBC storms DC for the National Bike Summit earlier this month. Better Bike updates the sad state of bicycling in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills, including possible, but not necessarily likely, bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. WeHo News looks at balancing peds, bikes and cars on busy La Brea Avenue. UCLA continues to make progress in reducing auto dependency. Santa Monica suggests making Colorado Ave a one-way street with a two-way cycle track. Glendale makes a number of bike-friendly improvements, though how censoring intersections will help is beyond me; maybe they meant sensors, instead.

California police promise a crackdown on distracted driving next month; how about cracking down on it every day, instead? The Orange County Bicycle Coalition says OC representative Diane Harkey hates bicyclists, as shown by her bill that absolves cities of any liability for bad bike lane design or maintenance. Newport Beach is accepting applications for the new Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee; first action for the committee should be a slightly less unwieldy name. San Diego’s new mayor pledges to make the city the bicycling capital of the nation, if he can only win over the auto-centric people who live there. The rough rides on Highway 1 above Cambria may finally be coming to an end, but not before May. Bakersfield will require more bike racks at new buildings. The Amgen Tour of California will host its third annual elite women’s time trial in San Jose; once again, women riders get crumbs when they should have their own parallel tour. Is Palo Alto improving road safety for cyclists? BART tries out a full week of access for bikes. San Francisco should have bike share by August. The CHP cracks down on a West Marin Sunday morning ride, just as they’ve threatened to do in the Santa Monica Mountains. A Sacramento writer says Californians will continue to rely on their cars, so deal with it.

Long Beach ex-pats the Path Less Pedaled offer five reasons why bike tourism matters. People for Bikes says bike commuting is one of the best ways to stay in healthy. Your Facebook, Twitter and GPS are the latest tools for bike thieves, but a new Kickstarter project promises to employ GPS to protect your bike, while automatically reporting crashes. A new bike computer tracks how much gas you save by riding yours. A guide to how not to put warning signs in bike lanes. Utah bike rider waits for a train to pass, then gets killed by a second one he didn’t see coming. The mere presence of a bike rider on the road is enough to cause a Utah student driver to flip his car. Bad news for women’s bike racing as last year’s inaugural Exergy Bike Tour won’t be repeated; the teams say they saw it coming. Denver’s bike share program gets a $1.3 million boost from the Feds. My hometown of Fort Collins CO narrows their search for a bike program manager to four finalists; regrettably, I’m not one of them. A new Colorado company promotes beer and bike tourism in bike-friendly Fort Collins, where even the thieves are on two wheels. An Iowa cyclist is awarded $1.2 million after mud causes a fall on a bike path. An Illinois man is charged with throwing his bike at the conductor after being thrown off a train. An Indiana man dies of gunshot wounds suffered while riding his bike — 33 years after he was shot. A Queens councilmember says a little speeding never hurt anyone. Bicycling offers photos of the recent Bike Summit in Washington DC.

A new warning system puts sensors — not censors — on bikes to warn truck drivers of their presence. The editor of an automotive website says there’s no war between drivers and cyclists and it’s actually possible to enjoy both; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up. London police criminalize Critical Mass. When two cyclists fall 20 feet into a subway at the same site just three year apart, maybe they should consider fixing the damn barrier. In a bizarre coincidence, the founder of Aston Martin was inspired to build motorcars after one ran his bicycle off the road, then was killed in a bicycling collision 45 years later. A Scot driver is clocked doing 138 mph, just a tad over the local speed limit. One hundred thirty five riders survive a Milano-Sanremo classic so brutal it gives suffer face a whole new meaning and the riders had to be bused mid-race; Taylor Phinney bounces back from a career and character defining last place finish to come in seventh despite a snow-crusted helmet. The Afghan women’s cycling team fights for their right to ride in public, let alone compete. A Malawi driver kills three members of the same family walking along a roadway; naturally, uninvolved bicyclists get the blame. A South African writer calls for a shift in behavior on the roads. The cyclist will bounce back from a South African collision, but what about the antelope? A bike rider is killed on one of New Zealand’s most popular, and dangerous, riding routes. A Polish cyclist will ride a seatless bike 2754 steps up the 100 story Shanghai World Financial Center; wait, he already did.

Finally, how many times do I have to say it? If you’re going to carry nine grams of meth in your hat, put a damn light on your bike. Congratulations to the Sydney Daily Telegraph for one of the worst articles on bicycling I’ve ever read, which is saying something. And a Bakersfield bike bum — and I mean that in the best possible way — has some great stories to tell.

You really should read that one.

KABC-7 updates the Zoo Drive hit-and-run, and a BMW driver gives me good chance to check my brakes

A few quick notes this morning.

KABC-7 picks up the horrifying story of Damian Kevitt, the cyclist hit by an impatient driver while riding on Zoo Drive near the L.A. Zoo, and dragged by the fleeing minivan nearly a quarter mile onto the 5 Freeway.

As the story notes, Kevitt has already lost one leg below the knee and suffered 20 broken bones throughout his body; according to his uncle, he’s still at risk of losing the other leg.

Keep your eyes peeled for an older gray Toyota Sienna or other similar minivan with possible front end damage; witnesses report the van had a For Sale sign in the window with the partial phone number 213/XXX-0776.

The driver needs to do some serious jail time for such a cruel and vicious assault. The collision may not have been intentional, but the decision to flee with the victim still trapped underneath his van was.

Anyone with information is urged to call the CHP Altadena station at (323) 259-2010.

………

Yesterday, I had a clear demonstration of the importance of good brakes, as a driver on San Vicente cut in front of me with no warning the moment the bike lane ended just west of Brentwood.

……..

After the success in getting all five major candidates for mayor of L.A. and several city council candidates on the record for their stands on bicycling issues, the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee meets tonight to discuss how to get out the bike vote, and the next steps for the May runoff election. The meeting takes place at 6:45 pm at the Johnnie’s Pizza at Museum Square, 5757 Wilshire Blvd.

……..

LACBC local chapter Santa Monica Spoke is calling for cyclists to support a proposed $134 million Transportation Impact Fee at tonight’s Santa Monica city council session, including $59 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects throughout the city.

If you can’t be there in person, they urge you to call or email the council members before the vote.

……..

I received an invitation yesterday to participate in this fall’s California Coast Classic to benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

Unfortunately, my wife’s recent health issues make my participation in a multi-day ride a little problematic, to say the least. However, given that I’ve suffered from severe arthritis in my right knee for over 15 years as a result of a botched knee surgery in my teens, this is one event I can whole-heartedly support.

And my relatively minor inconvenience doesn’t even begin to compare to what so many others, young and old, have to go through. Despite perceptions, arthritis doesn’t just affect the elderly and infirm.

But since I can’t make it, maybe you can take a few moments to support the woman who invited me, and make a pledge to Monet Diamonte to help raise money for her ride.

Not only does she have one of the best names I’ve encountered in recent years, she’s dealt with juvenile arthritis herself since she was just two years.

And clearly, hasn’t let it get the upper hand.

……..

Finally, speaking of horrifying injuries, a young Chinese boy suffered a bizarre freak accident when he fell off his bike, breaking the seat post — and embedding it the last place you’d ever want it.

The good news is, surgeons were able remove it with no serious injury. But that might be the one injury that could make me quit riding forever.

Restaurant run down, cyclist collateral damage in Venice police chase; plus major Fat Tuesday linkage

A cyclist was collateral damage in a Venice police chase Sunday night.

Police reportedly spotted a pickup driven by a parolee driving too fast the wrong way on a one-way street just off the beach at Venice Blvd and Speedway. Following a short chase, the cyclist was struck at the intersection of Lincoln and Brooks before the truck crashed into the Wurstküche restaurant a few blocks away at Vernon.

Fortunately, the rider is relatively okay; the Times reports that he suffered a broken leg in the collision.

But these chases are getting far too frequent and dangerous.

And the next person to become collateral damage may not be so lucky.

………

As hard as it is for me to admit at times, there are other issues besides bicycling in this year’s race for mayor of Los Angeles. Candidate Kevin James offers a detailed position on animal issues for of us who care about the city’s four-footed residents; I’d like to see what the other candidates have to say on the subject.

………

Streetsblog posts video of Sunday’s CD 1 candidates debate; I’m told there may be a problem with one candidate’s responses. UCLA’s Daily Bruin looks at Saturday’s ride for more bike lanes in Westwood. Santa Monica’s first complete green street opened on Ocean Park Blvd on Saturday. Santa Monica College gets a spectacular new bike parking lot with space for 400 bikes — and skateboard parking, too. If you’re on probation and in possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, maybe you should steal a cheaper bike. Better Bike is back to bug the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills into becoming less bike unfriendly. Occidental College and NELA want your bike art for a gallery exhibition opening later this month. The Path Less Pedaled offers their typically great photos from their recent trip back to SoCal. The podcast of Saturday’s edition of Bike Talk hosted by the LACBC’s Colin Bogart is available online now. Cyclelicious reveals the face of a bike thief. Learning to ride safely with dead batteries. A cyclist is critically injured by a drunk driver in Fresno. As a cyclist, nothing scares me more than sharing the road with a cement truck; a San Francisco woman lost her life to one on Saturday.

We need more research on the effects of bicycling on the brain. Bob Mionske offers advice on dealing with the door zone. The Bike League forms a new Equity Advisory Council to reach beyond the usual voices. A 72-year old Scottsdale AZ woman is killed by a 20-year old driver in an apparent right hook. A hero Spokane cyclist saves a jogger from her attacker, then rides off without leaving her name. A Colorado woman is fined a whopping $100 after apologizing for running down a cyclist before running away. Chicago Tribune says Gen Yers are falling out of love with cars; maybe I’m younger than I thought. Ignoring all the available evidence, Illinois puts the brakes on a protected bike lane in Chicago by pretending they’re unproven. A Wisconsin man rides over 800 miles to visit friends in New Orleans, then gets run down from behind and killed just miles from his destination. Brooklyn is New York’s most dangerous borough for cyclists for the third year running. Dear Mr. Obama, give us another Ray LaHood, please. Maryland’s proposed mandatory helmet law would make cyclists less safe. A Florida cyclist commits suicide by car; the driver wouldn’t have faced charges if he’d stayed at the scene.

A cyclist is killed by a speeding ambulance in Guyana. A 16-year old UK cyclist tracks his stolen bike four miles through the snow to get it back. Dealing with anti-social cyclists. Sure, you could say one in five Oxford, England cyclists run red lights — or you could realize that means an overwhelming 80% don’t. Brit trucks drivers say bike safety shouldn’t rest solely on their shoulders. London’s Sunday Times says Strava is turning cyclists into dangerous speed maniacs; bike writer Carlton Reid says not so fast. That sound you hear is a Scottish politician backpedalling furiously when it comes to cycling targets. Israel lacks sufficient infrastructure to keep cyclists safe on intercity highways.

Finally, an apparently older writer says the privilege of driving is far too important to test drivers over 80 for cognitive impairment, and somehow equates getting dangerous older drivers off the road to Nazi Germany; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up.

And I thought I had a close call with a Big Blue Bus recently; this guy nearly lost his head.

Happy Mardi Gras! Throw me something, mister!

A brief observation on walking the dog, as it relates to dangerous drivers and surviving on two wheels

Let’s talk dog walking.

Or rather, walking the dog as it relates to dangerous drivers. And how that relates to riding a bike in the swirling cesspool of human interaction we call traffic.

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Take what happened last week.

I was walking the Corgi a few blocks from our home, after dark, during rush hour traffic. The last building on the block we were on featured that 1960’s style covered parking in which the front of the building overhangs the parking spaces, with the sidewalk passing between the driveway apron and the parking spaces.

As we were strolling in front of the building, a car pulled up on the side street in front of us, barely paused at the stop sign, then suddenly pulled onto the wrong side of the busy street we were walking along and turned left, making a shallow U into a parking space just in front of us.

Fortunately, I was able to pull her back in time and took a quick step back myself, allowing the driver to zoom by without hitting either of us.

I was not, however, able to control my own reaction, calling him a jackass as we walked past and rounded the corner.

Moments later, though, the driver came running up after us on the dark side street we’d turned onto. As he approached, I moved the dog behind me and balled my fists, prepared to defend myself against the jerk who’d just threatened our safety.

Since we rescued the then four-year old Corgi a few years ago, we’ve developed an interesting dynamic. She’s taken it upon herself to protect my wife, and more than once has shown signs that she would fight to the death to defend her — even standing up to a coyote over twice her size that dared to walk through our urban neighborhood.

On the other hand, she’s also made it clear that she trusts me to protect her, lowering her guard when I walk her in a way she never does with my wife alone. And I take that trust very seriously.

Threaten my safety with your car and I’ll be pissed. But God help you if you endanger my dog.

What happened next caught me completely off guard, though.

He apologized.

He said he hadn’t seen us, and was sorry if he had frightened my dog. Never mind that he’d scared the crap out me.

No apologies for the dangerous stunt he had pulled — and probably not for the first time, since he appeared to live in the building. And no explanation how it was that he failed to see a grown man and a light colored dog on a well-lighted sidewalk.

I was still too angry to politely discuss the situation, so I simply accepted his apology, shook his hand and turned away to walk home, shaken by the close call.

The very next night, I was once again walking the Corgi when we ran into another, all-too-common situation.

We were alongside a large apartment building on a busy side street when a driver entering the parking lot paused to let us safely cross the driveway. However, that left the rear of his car extending out into the traffic lane, much to the chagrin of the driver behind him who was forced to briefly pause in his mad dash through the residential neighborhood.

So needless to say, that second driver leaned on his horn, blasting an angry rebuke that anyone might have the audacity to stop in his way, with no idea why it washappening.

In other words, he was more than willing to let someone else run us over if it meant he didn’t have to slow down for even a moment.

Never mind that he could have simply gone around the other car. Which is exactly what he did after treating us to his rage-filled car horn soliloquy.

And never mind that his honking could have startled the driver ahead of him, possibly leading to tragic results.

And there, in a nutshell, is the problem on our streets. Or one of them, anyway.

Too many of today’s drivers have lost any sense of the danger their vehicles pose to others. They feel entitled to their place on roadway, and have little or no fear of the reckless stunts they pull, having gotten away with them too many times in the past.

Even though getting away with it doesn’t mean it’s legal. Or safe, for that matter.

The problem is, you can only get away with something until you don’t. At which point, it’s too late for anything but the too-often tragic consequences.

Then there’s the sense of entitlement, to use that phrase again, that allows some — not all, but far too many — drivers to feel they have a right to move unimpeded along the streets. And that anyone in their way, be it other motorists legally slowing or stopping for a turn or to let a pedestrian pass, or a bicyclist in the lane in front of them, is committing some offense by delaying their progress by even a second or two.

I see it every day on the busy street in front of my building, as some speeding jerk lays on his horn because a car is stopped in the left lane, legally, to make a turn. Or slows down to safely make a right, rather than taking the corner at a dangerously high speed, as too many do.

Even though using a horn for any reason other than a safety warning is against the law.

And don’t get me started on the drivers who see a car stopped ahead of them, then whip around on the right or left without considering that there may be a reason why they stopped. Other than the other driver just felt like it, that is.

Like maybe a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing the street.

Which is why I politely refuse any invitation from a driver to cross an intersection in front of them unless I know for a fact that every other motorist in the shares their courtesy and inclination.

And yes, before you say it, there are countless reckless, self-entitled jerks on two wheels — and two feet — as well.

The difference being that a reckless cyclist or pedestrian poses a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers pose a danger to everyone around them.

There may be hope, though.

Some drivers get it when they see the potential consequences of their actions. Like the driver who apologized for nearly running down the Corgi and I.

Though whether that will keep him from pulling the same stunt next time remains to be seen.

Then there’s the valet driver I had a brief conversation with in Santa Monica last week.

I was riding past a large hotel on Ocean Ave when a car exited the parking garage right in front of me. And as too often happens, another car followed closely behind him, on a collision course with my bike.

So I yelled out a warning, and the driver came to a sudden stop just a few feet from my right.

He caught up to me at the next light, waiting to make a right as I sat on his left to go straight.

“Dude,” he called out, “I wasn’t going to hit you. I do this all day long, every day.”

“Yeah, but how do I know that?” I responded. “I don’t have any choice but to assume you don’t see me.”

“Oh.” He sat for a moment, letting it sink in.

“So, you’re just doing what you have to do to stay alive. Okay, I get that.”

The light changed and I rode on as he turned away, a little more hopeful than I’d been just a few moments before.

………

Speaking of Santa Monica, still no response seven days later to the complain I filed about being forced to share a bike lane with a Big Blue Bus.

And that’s frightening.

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.

BB_gQbyCAAAV0Nz.jpg-large

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.

%d bloggers like this: