Tag Archive for City of Lights

If you love something, let it go — LACBC spins off its popular City of Lights program

Maybe you’ve heard the rumors.

For the past few months, people have asked me what’s been going on with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s City of Lights program.

Today, I can finally tell everyone the good news.

Just as they did with CicLAvia, which began its existence within the LACBC, the Coalition has decided it’s time to let the award-winning program go off on its own to pursue a larger agenda. Now City of Lights is free to focus on a broader spectrum of transportation issues affecting low-income communities, while the LACBC continues to serve cyclists of all types and income levels throughout L.A. County.

This isn’t a divorce.

As the press release (below) notes, the staff and board of the LACBC has great affection for City of Lights, and takes great pride in what began as a simple effort to pass out free bike lights to L.A.’s invisible cyclists.

It was just time to let go.

And let City of Lights go on to even greater success on their own.

Speaking strictly for myself, I couldn’t be prouder of the people who have built City of Lights into what it is today, and wish them nothing but the best.

And expect great things from them in the years to come.

Ventura cyclist evidently dies of natural causes, LACBC City of Lights dinner tonight

After a 70-year old cyclist was found dead on the side of the road near Fillmore, authorities conclude that he died of natural causes.

The rider, who has not yet been publicly identified, was discovered on Guiberson Road roughly three miles east of Chambersburg Road in Ventura County around 10:30 am Tuesday.

According to the Ventura County Star,

The 70-year-old man was riding his bicycle when he pulled off the road, collapsed and died, said Armando Chavez, a senior deputy Ventura County medical examiner. An autopsy was not performed, but there were no signs of trauma Chavez said. The man had an extensive history of medical problems, he added.

So in other words, they’re guessing that he died of natural causes, since it sort of looks that way. No sense wasting time and money on an autopsy; after all, he was just  a cyclist with a history of medical problems.

Thanks to a regular reader for tipping me off to the story.

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There’s still time to attend tonight’s City of Lights 2nd Annual Awards Dinner at La Fonda Supper Club2501 Wilshire Blvd, followed by music and dancing. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Times columnist Hector Tobar will be honored, and ticket prices have been reduced to $45 for everyone.

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San Francisco elects to put cyclists at further risk by allowing cab drivers to stop in bike lanes.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, at least some cabbies feel justified in blocking the lane since some bike riders break the law.

Ed Healy, another driver, said cabbies miss out on fares because they’re reluctant to pull over to the curb for fear of getting a ticket.

“The bicyclists may not like this, but I don’t think they can complain about much, considering they run red lights all the time,” Healy said.

But doesn’t allowing drivers to stop in a bike lane violate state law, since it’s a legitimate lane of traffic — albeit one reserved for bikes?

I hope the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has a good lawyer on their payroll.

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Gary looks at the good, the bad and the ugly in Santa Monica’s new bikeways. Here’s your chance to work at Santa Monica’s new Bike Center. L.A. cyclists are finally going to get our first wayfinding signs. Joe Linton asks how long it takes to get sharrows on the street. A good discussion on the Eastsider website about police traffic stops that place cyclists in jeopardy — except for the kind of semi-illiterate bike-hating troll who always seems to show up in any story about bikes, and threatens to wrap his Camry around any rider who goes through a stop sign; thanks to Mike for the heads-up. Advice on how even Angelenos can ride in the rain. Don’t miss the Velo Cult Bike Swap on November 5th, even though I will, since I’ll be getting ready for the California Bike Summit later that day. Hermosa Beach becomes the latest city to adopt the new South Bay Bike Plan.

An OC cyclist confronts a driver who admits that yes, she was trying to hit the rider with her car; you’d think that would be something the authorities might take just a little more seriously. An interview with Elk Grove cyclist Scott Brown following his recent finish in the Furnace Creek 508. The body of a Roseville cyclist missing since the 16th of this month has been found, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. Shasta County turns to eminent domain to acquire a .12 acre sliver of land needed to complete a bike path. Levi Leipheimer calls Sonoma County the best place on earth to ride a bike.

Elly Blue takes an intelligent look at running stop signs and drivers who complain simply because she’s in the road; although there can be consequences for jumping lights. When a Phoenix truck driver flees the scene after killing a cyclist, a second driver uses his truck to protect the victim. A Tucson cyclist killed last week did have brakes on his bike, though witnesses say he didn’t appear to be panicking as he rode through a stop sign into oncoming traffic. Once again, Utah good Samaritans lift a car off an injured person, this time a bicyclist. Exploring Denver by B-Cycle. A Tulsa cyclist survives a crash into a parked car that sent him through the rear windshield and into the vehicle, where he had the presence of mind to call 911; the Witch on a Bicycle says he may have been forced into it by another car. Chicago authorities line up mannequins along a busy street to demonstrate pedestrians killed in the city so far this year. Once again, a driver admits to not seeing a cyclist before killing him, this time in Michigan, and once again, police ignore the confession and let the driver off; if you ever want to murder someone, just use your car then claim you didn’t see the victim. A Cincinnati student newspaper directs Halloween thrill seekers to the site of a cyclist’s death. This is so wrong in so many ways, as New York police blow off the family of a recent cycling victim and crack down on reckless cyclists after giving the driver a pass because he didn’t know he’d killed anyone (see above). Mobile AL becomes the latest city to adopt its own three-foot passing law; somehow, they managed to pass what our governor vetoed. After a cyclist is killed by a fire truck, Florida officials demonstrate a complete and total ignorance of fixed-gear bikes, asserting the only way to stop a brakeless fixie is to put a foot down or fall off, apparently unaware that fixies can stop if the rider just stopz pedaling; seriously, how is it that police are allowed to be so damned ignorant about the very subject they’re investigating? A study from the most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians shows that drivers really do base passing distance on cyclist’s sex and attire, as well as how far you ride from the curb; from now on, I’m wearing a dress and taking the lane. And no, it won’t be pretty.

The Canada Safety Council bizarrely declares traffic calming a waste of money; clearly, not everyone agrees. A Canadian driver on trial for hit-and-run claims he thought he hit a deer — though not many deer have reflectors and a tail light. A $110 fine for fatally dooring a cyclist on Ottawa. After a campaign by a grieving father, the Ottawa coroner will review cycling deaths in an attempt to improve safety. London’s much derided cycling superhighways have seen their first fatality, as anger turns to Mayor BoJo and Transport for London (their LADOT-equivalent). The only cyclist to fail a drug test at this year’s Tour de France gets fined a whopping $1,000, yet a former Paralympic champ gets a two year ban. An Australian court rules it’s okay to punch a cyclist in the face, breaking his glasses and drawing blood, if the cyclist calls you names and tries to write down your license number. An Aussie helmet cam study shows drivers at fault in 9 out of 10 potential collisions. A look at delivery bikes in India carrying far more than you’d think they — or you — could. Japanese authorities crack down on cyclists following an increase in bike vs. pedestrian crashes following the recent earthquake.

Finally, a Eureka cyclist credits his helmet after bouncing 20 feet off a car’s windshield and landing in traffic; the driver was turning her car with the sun in her eyes and the rider in a blind spot — so needless to say, the police wrote it off as “just one of those things.”

Good news and bad news — Box finishes third in CD4, LACBC’s City of Lights honored

Newly re-elected CD4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge with LACBC board member Scott Moore.

Despite running what appeared to be a very smart campaign, bike activist Stephen Box lost overwhelmingly to Council District 4 incumbent Tom LaBonge yesterday.

While he appeared to have support from many in the cycling community — as well as backing from food truck operators — it wasn’t enough to keep him from finishing third in the three man race, with less than half the votes of second place Tomas O’Grady.

And far behind LaBonge, who sailed to victory with over 55% of the vote — echoing predictions from internal polling.

I won’t go into a lengthy post-mortem here. Bicycle Fixation offers a good look at what went wrong, while pointing out LaBonge’s re-election is far from a disaster.

However, it would be wrong to look at this as a failure of the cycling movement in Los Angeles. Prior to the election, a number of cyclists told me privately that they preferred the more moderate and usually bike-friendly LaBonge; so despite how it may have looked before the election, the bike vote may have actually been split between the two candidates. And it’s important to note that many of Box’s most ardent supporters live outside of his district.

In the end, he lost out to one of the city’s most likeable politicians. As well as the power of incumbency, which seems almost impossible to overcome in L.A.

It is worth noting that LaBonge will be termed out in four years, leaving an open seat; whether Box will try again is another question.

So let me congratulate Councilmember Tom LaBonge on winning another four years, and encourage him to continue to be a friend to the cycling community.

And hats off to Stephen Box for a very hard-fought, if ultimately unsuccessful, campaign. And for opening the door for cyclists to run for city office.

Whatever the reasons behind his loss, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.

And he certainly won’t be the last to try.

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Congratulations to the LACBC’s City of Lights program, which was honored last night with the Best Practices Award from the Alliance for Biking and Walking at this year’s National Bike Summit.

The Best Practices Award goes to an organization that serves as a model for other bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. In 2010, countless individuals and a number of advocacy organizations drew information and inspiration from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The LACBC’s City of Lights initiative elevated the conversation about “invisible cyclists” - men and women who ride bicycles but whose voices aren’t heard and needs aren’t acknowledged because of language or economic barriers. Through thoughtful outreach and, more importantly, true collaboration, the LACBC is changing the dialogue among city officials about urban planning, bringing new advocates into the movement and, expanding the scope of the bike-ped movement to address critical issues of social and economic justice.

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Lately, it seems like half the links on here have to do with the state of cycling in New York City. For instance…

A writer for the New Yorker bizarrely says he supports programs that encourage cycling, as long as they don’t affect his ability to park his Jag, although he does seem to consider bipedalism a passing fad; Aaron Naparstek artfully deconstructs — or perhaps eviscerates — his arguments. The Observer says straw men on bikes represent the city’s last culture war. Turns out that NY pol was only joking about ripping out the bike lanes; it was a real knee-slapper alright. The suddenly embattled Janette Sadik-Khan reports that her controversial efforts to reshape Gotham’s streets have improved safety 40% for all road users; yeah, I can see why they want to get rid of her. Bob Mionske offers his typically insightful perspective on the city’s bike wars. And the Guardian says it could negatively affect the future of cycling worldwide.

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If you find yourself in the Valley Thursday afternoon, stop by the groundbreaking for the West Valley L.A. River Greenway. Streetsblog reports $2.6 million in local Measure R funds will go to L.A. bikeways. LADOT Bike Blog looks at the role of mini-roundabouts in calming traffic on bike-friendly streets; considering the way drivers race around the one near me at Eastborne and Westholme, it doesn’t seem to be working. Local SF residents want to live on a street, not a virtual freeway. Cyclicious offers a more in-depth look at the new Bicycle Studies Program at Lees McCrae College.

Looking at the politics of cycling from a female perspective. The National Bike Summit is now underway in Washington DC; one of these days, I’ll find a way to be there. New national bikeway design standards are released. Why you should participate in group rides. The top five most influential women is cycling. After just one year, People for Bikes is one-fifth of the way towards their goal of 1 million cyclists. Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbilt offers an interesting infographic on the causes of traffic jams. Eight states continue to hold out in efforts to create a national bike route system; someone should tell them bike tourists spend money too. A New Mexico State Police spokesman tells cyclists to stay off the open roadways; having spent a lot of time in the Land of Enchantment, I can attest that covers most of the state. In a tragic incident, a blind Illinois cyclist is killed by an apparently distracted driver. A bike theft with a happy ending. Minneapolis cyclists find strength in numbers.

UK cyclists fight back against Northern Ireland’s proposed mandatory helmet law. Evidently, becoming the UK’s leading bike city doesn’t happen overnight, or even in three years. A look atSouth African cyclists. And a brilliant post on IPayRoadTax.com looks at driver bias and says cyclists don’t own the road, we rent it; seriously, if you don’t read any other links today, read this one.

Finally, a new study shows that traffic fatalities increase after nail-biter finishes in sporting events, but only in the hometown of the winning team. So you might want to be careful riding after Lakers games, but feel free to ride after Clippers play.

Empowering L.A.’s invisible cyclists

There was a time when I described myself as a “serious” cyclist.

In my pedal-addled mind, that distinguished me as a spandex-clad, 50 mile a day rider who lived and breathed bikes. As opposed to someone who might pull the clunker out of the garage on the weekend for a leisurely roll through the park or along the beach, for instance.

Or someone who would ride in sneakers and street clothes.

It wasn’t that I looked down on the spandex-challenged. It’s just that, as I saw it at the time, they didn’t have the skills and commitment of a serious rider such as myself.

And clearly, I wasn’t the only one.

As another spandexed rider I know jokingly put it, “I don’t trust cyclists who don’t shave their legs.”

But slowly over the years, it penetrated my thick helmet-covered skull that other kinds of riders might be just as devoted to riding as I was, but just do it a little differently. And that there were equally valid reasons to ride that had nothing to do with improving speed, skills or fitness.

Maybe it was the first time a blue jean clad fixie rider dropped me, much to my shame. Or maybe when the bike lanes appeared on Santa Monica Boulevard, and I started seeing countless commuters roll past my home every day.

It could have been a growing awareness that all those women on Dutch bikes and beach cruisers were actually going places, even if they weren’t going as fast — or sweating as much — as spandex speedsters such as myself.

Then there was the humbling realization that there were people who rode, not because they chose to, or to stay in shape or because it was hip or fashionable. But because it was their most viable — or perhaps only — form of transportation.

And that the needs and safety of those riders were just as legitimate as mine.

Fortunately, not everyone is as slow on the uptake as I am. The local bike co-ops — Bicycle Kitchen, Bike Oven, Bikerowave and Valley Bikery — have long helped riders of all types repair their own bikes at little cost.

The LACBC has gone a step further, forming the City of Lights program to reach out to cyclists in the immigrant community; primarily — but not exclusively — Spanish speaking immigrants.

As relatively recent arrivals in the country, many of these cyclists may not know how and where to ride safely, or how to map out a route that can get them to and from various parts of the city. Or have the money to invest in the lights and reflectors that could help keep them safe on the streets of L.A.

So a small program to pass out lights, maps and safety information didn’t seem like a bad idea.

What few anticipated, however, was that it would grow to become a significant outreach to the immigrant community.

That initial free light program was followed by a study of how to increase bike parking facilities in low income areas, resulting in the city’s first ever guide to surmounting the countless technical and regulatory requirements to placing racks on the streets, available for download in English and Spanish.

Soon the program will be releasing a Spanish language resource guide — including information on safe riding techniques and equipment, basic maintenance, and advocacy and legal rights — which will be distributed for free and made available online.

In addition, I recently sat in on a report from the LACBC’s Allison Manos, in which she discussed a new program to train immigrants in bike repair, whether to maintain their own bikes or to give them the skills to find work in bicycle repair shops. And several program members have responded by becoming bike safety advocates themselves.

So in just a few short years, what started as a small safety outreach has turned into a program that empowers people to make changes in their own lives, and in their community.

You can’t ask for any more than that.

The Times’ Hector Tobar writes about it today — though he somehow neglects to mention City of Lights by name — focusing on one of the program’s participants, Jose Guzman, as well as Ramon Martinez of the LACBC and Bike Oven.

“In L.A. we have thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people on bikes that mainstream cyclists never see,” Martinez told me. He called them “invisible cyclists” but then corrected himself because really, if you pay attention, you’ll almost always see them on the streets.

I’ve seen the cyclists in the garment district, Koreatown and Pasadena, often in the uniforms of cooks or kitchen workers. They don’t wear spandex and they don’t bike to lower their cholesterol or to reduce their “carbon footprint.”

They don’t bike because it’s a cool lifestyle choice. Mostly they bike out of necessity.

“My bike is my salvation,” Guzman told me.

“I see it as part of me. It’s my vehicle. I carry bags, backpacks, groceries on it. Everything.”

It’s a good story. And a great program — one definitely worth supporting.

Maybe it will help keep a few more riders safe, change a few lives and make this city a better place for riders of all types.

And help make those invisible riders just a little easier to see.

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Austin’s Yellow Bike Project, in which abandoned bikes are fixed-up, painted yellow and donated to the needy, has spread east to Augusta, Georgia; evidently, Portland has a similar program. Maybe it’s time the project moved a little northwest.

It could be a great complement to the work being done by City of Lights.

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The schmuck Swedish Rapper who beat a Hollywood pedestrian senseless, then ran over him as an off-duty police officer begged him to stop — and had the audacity to claim self-defense — is sentenced to 15 years to life for 2nd degree murder.

Personally, I vote for the latter.

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I’ve got more links — too many, actually. So come back later tonight or over the weekend after you’ve had a chance to limber up your link-clicking finger.

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