L.A. bicyclists have long fantasized about getting Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a bike.
Not just for the affirmation of cycling as a valid means of transportation and recreation it would provide in this often unwelcoming city, but so he would understand the challenges we face on its streets.
I have a feeling he gets it now.
Just days after Will Campbell revealed the first known photo of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on a bicycle — and only seven months since Villaraigosa stunned L.A. cyclists by publicly voicing support for bicycling for the first time — he’s now officially one of us.
He might be hard pressed to find a local rider who can’t relate to the first part of the story, if not the second.
According to the Times, His Honor was riding in the bike lane on Venice Blvd between Hervey and Hargis Streets near Culver City when a taxi suddenly pulled in front of him, causing the mayor to fall.
Many bicyclists read between the lines and suspected a classic right hook, in which the driver makes a right turn across the path of a rider. Or maybe the cabbie cut in front of the Mayor and stopped short, like an accidental version of what Dr. Thompson was convicted of doing on purpose.
According to LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer, the real story is just a little different.
It seems the cab was parked along the curb and pulled out directly in front of the Mayor without looking for approaching riders in the bike lane. And rather than the implied hit-and-run, the driver did stop and exchange information, then left the scene before police arrived.
So while the driver did cause what the police term a no-contact collision, it was not a hit-and-run. And the only chargeable offense would be making an unsafe lane change or failure to yield.
Welcome to our world.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s spent much time riding the streets of this city who doesn’t have a similar tale to tell. Except drivers usually don’t stop for cyclists who don’t ride with a security detail.
And I have a feeling the police took the mayor’s call a little more seriously than they have the rest of us.
So we wish you well, Mr. Mayor.
Some of us hope you ignore all of those people who say this proves how dangerous it is to ride in this city, and just get back out on your bike as soon as you can. While others are hopeful that you’ve learned a lesson about drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists, painful though it may be, and hope you’ll now partner with cyclists to make the streets safer. And are critical of the press that wrote this off as a mere accident and implied it was your fault.
Like it or not, you’re one of us now.
After a dull weekend, some real drama in the Tour de France.
Just as Andy Schleck was about to destroy Alberto Contador on a climb, Schleck lost his chain. And his yellow jersey, as Contador ignored the accepted courtesy of not attacking the leader when he has mechanical trouble. As a result, he now leads Schleck by a mere 8 seconds — with a very pissed of Luxembourger on his heels.
On Sunday, nothing much happened as Christophe Riblon won the stage and the leaders chose to play poker rather than compete; Vino bounced back from a two-year blood doping suspension to win stage 13. Judging by his comments, maybe Lance will be back in 2015 (third item), while his PR machine rolls over bad press. Jens Voigt wonders just how strong Contador really is this year.
A cyclist visits New York and asks, can we have some of those separated bike lanes too? Brayj says the city Planning Department clearly listened to him, but the new draft bike plan still has a way to go. How to make Riverside more bike-friendly; just change the name of the city and this would be make damn good approach for L.A. as well. Visiting L.A.’s largely forgotten Fisherman’s Village by bike. A female cyclist says if guys only knew how good they look on a bike, they’d ride everywhere. A cyclist is found dead on the side of a Santa Clara County roadway. Long Beach’s biking expats take the long — and very scenic — route from Nashville to Chattanooga. One of Amarillo’s leading bike activists is killed when a distracted driver tries to pick up the cell phone he dropped. Two cyclists are killed in separate incidents in OKC in just two days. A British cyclist was killed on the site of a planned bikeway that was scrapped just last week. Even for a trained cyclist, wearing a helmet is better than cracking your head. Even in Turkey, they’re building new bikeways.
Finally, a writer for the New York Post bends over backwards to ignore the safety improvements on Gotham’s streets and says no matter how many bike lanes the city builds, they will only make New York more dangerous.
As our own mayor can attest, more cars on the road only make our streets safer.