Tag Archive for Class 1 bike paths

Whittier cyclists under attack; female rider severely beaten in most recent assault

A 19-year old woman was severely beaten after being knocked off her bike on a Whittier bike path.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the attack took place on Wednesday around 10:30 pm on the Greenway Trail, a Class 1 off-road bike path between Painter and Greenleaf Avenues when three or four men in dark clothing pushed her off her bike. Her attackers then punched her repeatedly in the face and body, and may have kicked her, as well.

Authorities report she suffered injuries to her face, teeth, hands and elbows, as well as losing consciousness for a period of time; she was reportedly awake when police and firefighters arrived on the scene, and was transported to a local hospital.

The suspects fled when other people approached. Police say she was not robbed and the motive for the attack is unknown.

However, KTLA reports that there have been at least three other attacks in the same pathway in the past month. In one case, a man was able to fight off an attacker who tried to steal his bike, while a 16-year old boy was arrested for allegedly grabbing another man and demanding his money; no information was available on the other attack.

These cases are reminiscent of the reports of attacks on cyclists riding along the Ballona Creek bike path a few years back, and point out the inherent problem with off-road bikeways.

While they can offer a pleasant respite from the headaches and risks of riding busy streets, they are often largely isolated and hidden from public view, providing secluded areas where criminal activity may occur.

And most are rarely, if ever, patrolled by police.

In fact, when cyclists tried to report the Ballona Creek attacks, 911 operators and police officers reportedly had difficulty even identifying where the bike path was and who had jurisdiction in order to respond.

Fortunately, the Ballona attacks proved to be the rare exception, rather than the rule on that pathway, though the reports circulated widely enough that many cyclists still express reservations about riding there.

Hopefully, this latest, unidentified victim will recover from her injuries — both physical and emotional — and get back on her bike soon.

And greater enforcement will improve safety for everyone on Whittier’s Greenway Trail.

Victims and driver identified in San Diego bike path collision; speed may have been a factor

One was a 40-year old father of two small children; the other is a 51-year old father of a college age son. One was an executive with a bioenergy company; the other is president and CEO of the YMCA in San Diego County.

One was a bike commuter on his way home; the other an avid triathlete who rides several times a week.

Both are married; neither one knew the other.

Yet yesterday, both men were the victims of a possibly speeding driver who lost control of her SUV and ended up flipping over on the bike path they were riding on.

Now bioenergy executive Nick Venuto of Poway is dead, while YMCA CEO Baron Hederlin-Doherty is in stable condition, his body shattered with broken hips, ribs and arms, according to the North County Times.

The San Diego Union Tribune’s SignOnSanDiego reports that 27-year old Sheena Saranita was driving her Ford Escape at an estimated 65 – 80 mph when she attempted to change lanes. She overreacted after seeing a vehicle in the right lane and went off the road, climbing the 15-foot embankment, blowing through a chainlink fence and flipping over onto the bike path; her SUV landed on its side, hitting both riders in the process.

Police don’t think drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision; no word on whether Saranita may have been texting or otherwise distracted behind the wheel. However, the nature of the collision would suggest that either excess speed or some sort of distraction could have been a factor.

According to the Union Tribune,

Dr. Dave Chotiner, a dentist from Carmel Valley, witnessed the accident and was the first to render aid. He said Venuto, who appeared to have been hit first, died within minutes. Herdelin-Doherty was lying on his back about 40 feet behind Venuto.

He said Saranita was out of her SUV near Venuto and was yelling hysterically, “you have to help him.”

Both papers feel compelled to report that the riders were each wearing helmets, despite the fact that bike helmets can’t, and were never intended to, protect against a multi-ton vehicle travelling at highway speeds.

And as Hederlin-Doherty’s injuries make clear, helmets can do absolutely nothing to protect against injuries to any other part of the body.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m a firm believer in wearing a helmet every time I ride. But in a collision like this, they would have been of little, if any benefit.

And whether or not the victims were wearing them is truly irrelevant in this case.

My heart and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones of Nick Venuto, and best wishes to Baron Hederlin-Doherty for a full and fast recovery.

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On a related subject, I’ve received word from a source who doesn’t wish to be identified that cyclist Richard Lauwers is doing very well, back on his bike and is now a firm believer in the power or prayer. As you may recall, Lauwers was critically injured last January when a driver went off the road and hit him while he was riding on the Huntington Beach Bike Path; the driver, Glen M. Moore of Newport Beach, was allegedly intoxicated and racing a BMW driven by Michael D. Roach.

And a memorial will be held this Sunday for Nick Haverland, the 20-year old Ventura College student killed last month in an allegedly drunken roadway rampage. Driver Satnam Singh was reportedly  involved in three separate collisions in a matter of minutes, injuring five other people.

Update: Jim Lyle forwards some good news about Adam Rybicki, the cyclist critically injured when he was hit by an underaged, allegedly drunk driver in Torrance in April. While he has been unable to respond to verbal commands, he is now moving his hands and responding to commands and questions written on whiteboard. Clearly, he faces a long road back, but this is the first news that offers real hope for his recovery.

San Diego cyclist killed, another seriously injured when SUV flips onto bike path

At least one cyclist was killed and another seriously injured when an SUV lost control on busy highway and flipped onto a bike path near Rancho Peñasquitos in north San Diego.

Initial reports indicated that two cyclists had died at the scene; however, later reports said the second rider had been transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The collision occurred about 6:20 pm on the 56 Bike Trail, which runs parallel to the eastbound side of State Route 56 west of Black Mountain Road; the CHP called for a coroner less than 25 minutes later.

A woman driving an SUV on eastbound SR56 apparently lost control while making a lane change, went off the road, up a grassy embankment and through a chainlink fence before flipping over onto a group of riders.

According to SignOnSanDiego, both riders were in their 30s or 40s; neither has been publicly identified as of this time. Pedestrians and other cyclists reportedly attempted to aid the riders until paramedics arrived.

The driver was also taken to the hospital; reports disagree on whether anyone else was in the SUV. No explanation has been given for why she lost control of her vehicle.

There’s simply no way to protect against a collision like that. The riders should have been safe from motor vehicles on an off-road bike path; undoubtedly, they thought they were. Certainly no one expected a vehicle to fall onto a bike path — let alone at the exact moment a group of riders are passing by.

SignOnSanDiego reports that both riders were wearing helmets; if anyone ever invents a helmet strong enough to protect against an SUV falling on top of a cyclist, I hope they let us all know.

This is the 32nd cycling death so far this year, and the ninth in San Diego County since the first of the year, which includes 7 traffic deaths and one shooting.

That compares with 8 cycling deaths for all of last year for San Diego County, and an average of 6.8 over the last five years, according to the FARS database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Thanks to Eric Bruins for the heads-up.

Update:  The Times now reports that two cyclists have been injured, in addition to the rider who died at the scene; however, they still say just one rider was hospitalized, in addition to the driver.

Update: as of 9 am Wednesday, no other source has confirmed that report, and the Times has changed the wording of the story to remove any reference to a second injured rider.

Update: both victims and the driver have been identified; speeding may have been a factor in the collision.

A low-cost fix for a troubled West L.A. bikeway

Click for detailed map with description and photos

Earlier this year, I wrote about Westwood’s abandoned bikeway — a winding Class 1 route that leads from the intersection of Wilshire and Veteran to the southern edge of the VA Center along Ohio Ave.

It should be a pleasant off-road feeder route for UCLA students, especially since cyclists are no longer allowed to pass through the National Cemetery north of Wilshire. Unfortunately, a lack of maintenance has made it virtually unridable in places; yet it continues to remain on the city’s draft bike plan, for reasons only a bureaucrat could understand.

Recently Evan Garcia, a cyclist who works at UCLA, emailed me with a suggestion that could revive the route by allowing riders to bypass the worst sections and connect to Ohio without running the gantlet of traffic on narrow Veteran Blvd.

Not only is it a great idea, it could be accomplished right now at minimal cost. So I asked Evan to explain it in his own words.

.………

This site did a great service for all West LA and Westwood cyclists when it thoroughly dissected the problems with the Westwood Park bike path. As it currently stands, it’s a forgotten route. That isn’t to say that cyclists don’t ride through Westwood Park — I do, and I see others often — but right now it has been so neglected in parts (simply look at the photos of the path along Sepulveda) that its full length is not a viable route for cyclists. So, out of both wishful thinking and selfish reasons (it would make my bike commute between Santa Monica and Westwood Village much more enjoyable), I’m proposing some changes to the route that would extend its usefulness.

A simple change here could let bikes bypass heavily trafficked Westwood streets

If you aren’t familiar with the area, Ohio Ave. is a two lane east-west street between Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds used by many cyclists. Veteran Ave. runs north-south, and it is between Sepulveda and Westwood Blvds. Neither Ohio or Veteran have bike lanes. The “existing” bike path, as previously described on this site, runs on a crumbling sidewalk along Sepulveda. One could of course ride along Sepulveda in the street, but there is no bike lane and drivers seem to treat it as a mini-freeway. On the sidewalk on the east side of Sepulveda are many businesses with parking lots, leading to a risk of a car entering or exiting without looking for bikes traveling on the sidewalk.

Narrow Veteran Avenue isn’t safe or inviting even for experienced for cyclists

Currently when I bike to Westwood, I travel along Ohio and turn left onto Veteran heading north. The ride along Ohio is acceptable, though of course it could be better.  I feel a major problem is alongside Veteran, however. Veteran is a street with two lanes and parking for cars on both sides, as is Ohio, but it is much more narrow than Ohio.

As a result, riding along Veteran can be very intimidating and unpleasant. If there are cars coming in the opposite direction, cars behind a cyclist cannot pass. Of course, many drivers have honked at me (or at the car waiting to pass me) and the cars parked along Veteran ensure that a cyclist is in the door zone unless they take the full lane. What I propose is linking Ohio to the bike path through Westwood Park via Greenfield Avenue, a street one block west of Veteran that dead-ends at a parking lot for the park. This would allow cyclists to travel between Ohio and Veteran through the park and without the dangers of riding along narrow Veteran Ave.

Gate at the end of Greenfield Ave

Greenfield Ave. terminates at the far end of the parking lot. Access from the street to the parking lot is currently blocked off — I assume to prevent cars traveling south on Veteran from driving through the lot quickly as a shortcut to get to Ohio — by a large swinging gate. Along the sidewalk are two stationary poles. Replacing the gate with additional poles — which could be removed by park employees to allow park vehicles to get through — would let cyclists pass between Greenfield and the parking lot without going on the sidewalk, while still preventing cars from cutting through.

Curb blocking convenient bike access

Between the parking lot and the bike path is a curb, and a small incline with a dirt path. Removing the curb would let bikes connect to the path from the parking lot. Further north near where the path exits the park and runs alongside the Federal Building is a crosswalk across Veteran at Rochester Avenue.

Installing a wheelchair cutout on the west side of Veteran — there is already one on the east side — would let cyclists cross much more easily than trying to turn left onto Veteran from one of the Federal Building driveways.

Veteran Ave near exit from Westwood Park; even with a crosswalk, it can be difficult to get across

This may be a pipe dream, but also having a crosser-controlled light warning signal would alert drivers that someone — a cyclist or pedestrian — is waiting to cross (I know from personal experience that very few drivers will voluntarily stop to let someone waiting to cross; it usually takes going into the crosswalk when there is no traffic on the nearest side and hoping that drivers coming on the other side slow down).

I realize that this would not make for a perfect bike path — it does nothing to address the problems of the path along Sepulveda and Ohio — but I think it would make getting from Westwood to Ohio less stressful and dangerous.

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After challenging in the Vuelta, Philippe Gilbert won his second consecutive Tour of Lombardy. Just days after having his two-year ban for doping reduced for cooperating with investigators, Danilo di Luca is free to compete again. David Millar and the ageless Jeannie Longo win the final time trial of the European pro season. Katie Compton wins in the first round of the MTB World Cup.

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SoCal based Felt bikes rolled along with the rest of us at CicLAvia. The people behind CicLAvia are officially honored by the City Council, and deserve our thanks, as well. Examined Spoke compares biking infrastructure in the U.S. and Europe firsthand, and not surprisingly, finds us lacking. The Claremont Cyclist reports on the CORBA Fat Tire Festival — and encourages you to support the advocacy groups that work to keep us all safer. El Random Hero becomes yet another victim of bike theft. A look at Tucson Velo, that great bike website to our east. Building memories in a two-week family bike tour of the Rockies. Nearly 25% of bicyclists killed in the U.S. in 2008 were legally drunk; a BAC of .08 raises a cyclist’s risk of serious injury by 2,000%. Don’t just ride on sharrows, wear them. Building bike culture in the land of Elvis and Rev. Al Green. An 82-year old Destin FL man rides his first century just to see if he could. A Manhattan cyclists alleges an off-duty cop pulled a gun on him in a road rage incident. Taking a bike tour of the palace of Versailles. Biking for transportation means riding anytime, not just bike commuting. Kiwi cyclists can look forward to riding with Landis.

Finally, some good news over the weekend as pro BMX rider and MTV host TJ Lavin shows signs of improvement after being critically injured attempting a stunt in Las Vegas; is he’s.

And in non-bike related news, congratulations to my good friends at Altadenablog, who are now officially related to a saint, by blood or marriage, respectively. I have no idea how that would feel; most of my relatives lean the other way.

Do L.A’s bikeways exist where they’re supposed to — and are they actually ridable?

Some of the most interesting ideas pop up in my inbox.

Those broken lines mean dodging traffic once the bike lane ends.

For instance, a rider named Noah emailed me last month asking about the stop and start nature of the city’s bike lanes — something virtually every rider in the city has complained at one time or another.

I wanted to raise a quick issue about bike lanes.  The city has a document online that purports to inventory Bike Plan Designated Class II bike lanes — I am not sure if this is the 1996 plan, if it is an inventory of proposed bike lanes or what it is .  . . but I used it to plot a route home on Monday and did not find bike lanes where I had hoped (based on the list) to find them.  For example, the document lists a lane on Devonshire from Topanga Canyon to Woodman — there was some bike lane in that area, but it was not continuous, and I was forced to ride in traffic (on a heavily traveled street) for part of the ride.  Same thing on Woodman itself, and on Laurel Canyon — a lane is listed from Roscoe to Moorpark . . .  Perhaps I am reading this wrong, perhaps these are planned lanes, but if these are supposed to be existing lanes (and if the claim is that we don’t need more lanes because we already have all these wonderful lanes) then someone (LACBC? volunteers through your blog?) should go an do an independent audit of the actual existing lanes in LA . . .

Part of the problem stems from turning to the wrong source for information. Which is actually easy to do, since searching for online biking information in Los Angeles can be a confusing process, leading to as many wrong turns and dead ends as the routes themselves.

A better source for planning a route is Metro’s L.A. bike map, which — unlike LADOT’s map, which seems to assume you do all your riding within the city of Los Angeles — crosses city limit lines to show a complete picture of local Class I, Class II and the generally useless and often dangerous Class III routes.

But don’t be surprised if your browser crashes; you’re better off downloading it to your desktop and using your pdf software to view it.

A quick look confirms that the route Noah used stops and starts without offering any alternative other than dumping the rider into often heavy traffic on busy Valley boulevards.

Someone who’s comfortable taking the lane in traffic might not think twice about it — though there’s no guarantee that the drivers you’re sharing the road with would understand the concept. And someone who knows the local area might use an alternative route to bypass the areas that lack the magical few inches of paint that are somehow supposed to create a virtually impermeable barrier to vehicular traffic.

Not that some drivers understand that, either.

But even if you map out your complete route using the best maps available — or try plotting your way with Google’s promising but buggy biking directions — it won’t tell you anything about traffic conditions, signalization or what hills you might face along your way. And if you knew those things, you wouldn’t need a map to begin with.

So you plot out the best route you can plan, only to end up dodging buses or riding jackhammer streets that jostle your internal organs to the point that you fear a kidney or bowel could pop loose any moment.

And those are the good streets.

Then there are others where the bike lanes and paths are so cracked and broken as to be virtually unridable on a skinny-tired bike. Or barely even exist anymore.

Of course, the obvious solution would be to require that LADOT and similar transportation departments in other cities ride these routes on a regular basis to monitor the conditions riders face. And report back for anything that needs repair or improvement.

But with the current budget issues, and the 40% cut in staffing that LADOT’s Bikeways department has reportedly suffered, that’s just not going to happen. Even if it did somehow manage to make their radar.

So as Noah suggested, it’s up to us.

We ride these streets everyday. No one has a better idea whether a line on a map actually translates to a ridable bikeway. Or if it actually exists in what passes for the real world around these parts.

I’ve suggested some sort of bikeway survey as a project the LACBC might want to take on, and I’ll bring it up again as time goes on — maybe in conjunction with the deep pockets at the newly bike-friendly Metro. Maybe it’s a project L.A.’s Bicycle Advisory Committee might want to consider. Or it could be something Bikeside might do as a natural outgrowth of their current efforts to map collisions, near misses and harassment — after all, those are places you might want to avoid, as well.

Or just email me — biking in la at hotmail dot com — and I’ll track things on my own until we have a better system for it.

And I’ll mention the worst areas on here, so you can plan a route to avoid them.

Because if we don’t do it, it’s pretty clear no one else will.

You can find links to most of the area’s bike maps on at the LADOT and LACBC (scroll down) websites. And thanks for the reminder from Timur that you find some fully vetted bike routes on his excellent, though recently neglected site; other local cyclist-designed routes are available at MapMyRide.

And after wishing everyone a happy Passover the other day, how could I have forgotten to wish the rest of you a happy Easter? Whatever you believe, best wishes this weekend. And for those of you with children, do not — repeat, do not — eat the ears off their chocolate bunnies.

That’s just so wrong.

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Oddly, when I take a day off to attend to other matters — like earning a living, for instance — the stories still keep coming. So settle in for a long list o’links.

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A San Francisco cop in an unmarked police car threatens a cyclist, saying “Shut your fucking mouth or I’ll knock you off your bike.” Meanwhile, a New York cyclist gets doored — which is against the law in New York, just like it is here — and police respond by ticketing the cyclist for not having a bell and wheel reflectors.

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One of L.A.’s best biking routes reopens after repairs due to rain damage. Dr. Alex rips LADOT’s new bike blog, and suggest that Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery fall on her sword. Will offers an exceptionally artistic photo of his bike, ad look who rolls through a stop into the path of his unblinking bike cam.  A Santa Monica writer and actor says the city could do a lot more to promote cycling. A Downtown street gets a mini-road diet, but oddly, no bike lanes. Gary argues that cyclists spend a lot of money in Santa Monica, so where is our bike parking? L.A.’s Anonymous Cyclist offers the story of a biking detention at LAX, and yes, one should bear yesterday’s date in mind. The 2.5 mile, LED-lit Elysian Valley Bike Path along the L.A. River Bike is coming soon, really. The Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association will hold its 21st annual Save the Trails pancake breakfast on Sunday, April 25th. Don’t forget Bike Night at the Hammer — featuring Pee Wee’s Big Adventure — April 8th. GOOD offers a video look at the Wolfpack Hustle’s roll through the L.A. Marathon course.

The California Bike Coalition pushes a vulnerable user law to protect all at risk road users. Mark Cavendish decides to break in his new dental work on the Tour of California, rather than the tougher Giro. NPR finds a grave problem with Google Bike Maps, literally. Is a bike a toy or a vehicle — or a device, as it’s defined here. Streetfilms looks at DC’s first Contraflow Cycle Track, while Portland releases a video explaining cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. Consider the Better World Club sort of an auto club for bikes. Five cyclists win a $97,751 settlement in a 2007 New York Critical Mass excessive force and wrongful arrest case in which the arresting officer was caught lying under oath. Portland cyclists are asked to help get a road rage victim back on a bike. The New York Times asks what is bike culture? A Brooklyn cyclist cited for riding outside the bike lane in a police sting fought the law, and for once, the law didn’t win. A Holland, Michigan driver encounters a cyclist riding in the center of the lane on a multi-lane road “going about 5 mph” in a 45 mile zone, and despite honking several times, the bastard just wouldn’t get out of his way. Florida cyclists threaten legal action if bike lanes aren’t included in a major resurfacing project.

A team of Brit rowers teams up to compete in this year’s RAAM. A Royal Mail carrier says please don’t take my bike away. Constables charge a Leicestershire cyclist with murder following the death of a cyclist this week; British press restrictions mean no explanation for why he was charged. Get your bespoke Tweed Ride togs here. Finally, a bike lane even shorter than the one in Westwood.

Finally, take your pick:

1) A Team Sky cyclist lost the lead in the Tour of Oman due to a bizarre pre-planned pee experiment. 2) London’s biking mayor chases down a driver who threw something at his head; oddly, the press reports it as litter rather than an assault, while the driver responded, “Please Mr. Boris sir, this wasn’t meant to happen. We know you is the Mayor, man.” 3) Pearl Izumi tests their new chamois on Uranus.

Anatomy of a bikeway — L.A.’s abandoned Class 1 bike path

In a city with so few bikeways, why would an off-road bike path over a mile long be forgotten — abandoned by cyclists and the city alike?

This Class 1 bike path runs south from Wilshire along Veteran, through the park, down Sepulveda, then several blocks west on Ohio.

Just a few blocks from the 275 foot long “stupidest bike lane in America,” you’ll find – if you look hard enough — a Class 1 bike path that should serve the massive biking population of UCLA, while providing a viable alternative to driving into car-clogged Westwood.

Yet few people even know it’s there.

It’s a bikeway that’s virtually unmarked, so hidden from view that I only found the final segment a few weeks ago when I decided to ride it from one end to the other.

This used to say Bike Path. I think.

Maybe I’m not very observant. Or maybe I just mistakenly assumed that a valuable asset like that would have signs indicating its existence.

Then again, I would also assume that it would be at least minimally maintained. While I understand that L.A. doesn’t have any legal responsibility to maintain any off-road path — having won their legal battle to absolve themselves of any liability for injuries suffered by cyclists — you would think common decency and human compassion would compel them to take some steps to protect the safety of those who might use it.

You would be wrong.

See any sign indicating a bike path? Me neither.

This path has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that it is virtually unridable in some places, putting the safety of less attentive riders at risk — particularly shameful since it runs through a public park and past a popular Little League field, explaining why most of the cyclists I’ve seen on it have been children.

This indentation is several inches deep — more than enough to catch the wheel of a passing cyclist.

However, the city may get an unpleasant surprise one of these days. Because the same law that the courts have ruled absolves the city of any liability for dangerous conditions on a Class 1 bike path also requires that adequate warning be provided for any known hazards.

And I can assure you that LADOT has been made aware of these conditions.

After all, I informed them myself.

One of the better sections of the path, and a great place to teach a child how to ride a bike.

And I saved a copy of the email, just in case anyone happens to need it.

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Bike Radar notes that two days remain to submit your thoughts on what constitutes harassment of cyclists on the streets of L.A. This year’s Amgen Tour of California kicks off with a Nevada City to Sacramento route on May 16. How to pee while riding your bike, male edition — step four, “Direct the stream away from you.”

If you want to keep cyclists from using a bike path, that’s a good way to do it.

A new book tells the story of how a masters cyclist recovered from a near-fatal broken neck to win 11 gold medals. South Dakota’s proposed three-foot passing law dies in committee. Forth Worth adopts a new bike plan with a 900% increase in biking infrastructure, including nearly 500 miles of on-street bike lanes. Central Oregon considers banning bike events on a popular racing route. A $10,000 racing bike stolen from Lance’s U23 development team is discovered in a Mexican flea market. Still drunk from the night before, a driver blames bright sunlight for why he struck and killed a Florida cyclist last fall. Biking continues despite the snowpacolypse. Finally, an Oxford, England cyclist has a unique approach to dealing with potholes — rather than complaining, he plants them with primroses. And You Are The Engine tells the tale of the first mile-a-minute cyclist, who accomplished the feat in 1899 by drafting on a steam engine train(!).

A cyclist on a bike can brake, turn or accelerate to avoid a collision; a rider walking his bike is a sitting duck if a driver runs the red light.

No signage indicating a bikeway here, either, but at least cars aren’t allowed on the sidewalk/bikeway. And yes, this is shown as a Class 1 bike path in the latest draft of the new bike plan.

These cracks rise several inches, and run most of the way across the path.

Note the faded yellow paint. Would you consider that an adequate hazard warning?

Now imagine encountering that after dark.

Of course, the crosswalk at Sepulveda and Ohio isn’t much better.

At Ohio, the bikeway turns west, sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians — few of whom seem to notice the faded markings on the cement.

At least this section has signs, though most people assume they indicate a bike lane in the street — which could be why most cyclists ride there, instead. And at the next intersection, cyclists going straight have to cross the path of drivers entering the VA grounds.

Today’s ride, in which I thank the LAPD

I try to always be courteous when I ride, and respectful of other people’s rights and safety. All I ask is that I receive the same courtesy and respect in return.

Which doesn’t always happen.

Take today’s ride. My route took my down Ohio through Westwood, before cutting through the Veterans Center on my way to San Vicente.

Just west of Sepulveda, the wide sidewalk along the north side of Ohio is designated as a shared Class 1 (off road) bike path. Maybe it shouldn’t be; it’s not a great place to ride, and many cyclists prefer the street. Personally though, I find it preferable to dealing with the drivers along that stretch who try to squeeze by too fast and far too close.

Besides, I almost feel like we have to use whatever infrastructure we have — however crappy it may be — or our good friends at LADOT will question why we need a new Bike Master Plan — again, crappy though it may be — when we don’t use the infrastructure we’ve got.

So when I came up behind a couple of pedestrians blocking my way, I slowed down and moved as far to the side as possible, then politely said “Bike passing on your left.”

No response. At least not from the guy blocking my way, though the other pedestrian further away seemed to hear me clearly. So I said it again a little louder. This time, he turned around, and yelled at me to “get my fucking bike off the sidewalk and ride in the fucking street.”

Now, I could have responded by pointing out that it’s perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk in Los Angeles. But the stronger argument seemed to be that he was, in fact, walking on a bike path.

He wasn’t having any of it, though, He pointed to a brief stripe on the asphalt and insisted it was a bike lane. And again told me to get my “fucking ass off the sidewalk.”

Now, most days, I might have just flipped him off and gone on my way. But I’ve challenged myself not to make any rude gestures or swear at anyone — no matter how deserving — while riding for the next three months.*

Yeah, I wouldn’t bet on it, either.

Besides, I was damned if I was going to let some indignorant a**hole chase me off one of the few Class 1 paths on the Westside.

So I walked over to the nearby Bike Path sign, and tapped on the arrow pointing to the sidewalk. He responded by showing me the rare double bird. At that point, it was rapidly becoming clear that I might need to defend myself, so I squared up to him and said, “you got a problem?”

“No,” he replied, “but you’re about to.”

At that exact moment, we both noticed a police car driving by in the opposite direction. And like the idiot he was, he yelled out to them for help. Then as the officers made a U-turn and pulled up next to us, he walked off — leaving me to deal with them.**

They both stepped out of their car and asked what was going on. So I explained the situation as carefully as I could, pointing out the sign indicating this was a bike path, and saying I was just trying to ride safely and courteously when I had indicated my presence. And complaining that it was bad enough dealing with people who aren’t willing to share the road, nodding at the cars that passed by, without having to deal with it on a bike path.

The senior officer nodded, and said, “You know, some guys are just jerks.” And then added, “We’ll go talk to him.”***

So I apologized that they had to get involved, thanked them both, and shook their hands, hoping that my bike gloves weren’t too sweaty yet. Then I rode off, taking extra care to come to a full stop and signal for my turn at the next light.

I just hope the other guy showed them more respect than he did me.

Well no, actually, I don’t.

*And no, I didn’t. Today, anyway.
**Highly abridged version of conversation.
***Ditto.

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Lovers of bicycle comics can come in off the ledge now — Yehuda Moon is back. Damien Newton fills us in on today’s TranspoComm meeting, which most of the committee evidently considered less important than the Lakers victory parade. The lawyer for the pedestrian-killing Swedish hip hop star wannabe wants us to believe he beat a Hollywood jazz musician to death in self defense. The Cycling Lawyer suggests how to cover your ass since American insurance won’t cover cyclists. Thanks to the other cycling lawyer for calling attention to a plot by drivers to block an upcoming Colorado century ride. London’s cycling mayor thinks mirrors on stop lights could help save cyclists’ lives. Looks like my old stomping grounds are becoming bike-friendly, just a few decades too late to do me any good. Finally, a former downhill champion discovers weed dealing can take you down faster a good mountain bike.

Bike law change #8: Require regular police and maintenance patrols of off-road bike paths

It should be the perfect place to ride. Instead of fighting our way through traffic or dodging drivers who can’t seem to grasp the concept of a bike lane, an off-road, or Class 1, bike path should offer the perfect opportunity to just relax and enjoy a good ride.

But too often, it doesn’t work out that way.

While many of these paths meander through common public spaces such as parks, lake shores and beaches, others are hidden from view. Which means that any problems along the path will be hidden, as well, from massive cracks and potholes in the pavement, to ugly graffiti and criminal activity. Eventually, many cyclists decide they’re better off taking their chances on the streets — abandoning the alternate routes they fought so hard to get, and leading to further deterioration. Or forcing organized efforts — or somewhat less organized efforts — to reclaim them.

But it shouldn’t be up to us to reclaim the bike paths, any more that it’s up to drivers to reclaim the 405 freeway or Ventura Boulevard.

So let’s demand regular safety and maintenance patrols of all off-road bike paths, both by the local police and the appropriate maintenance agency, whether city, county or state — and require that at least some off those patrols be done by bike. Because as we all know, things look and feel completely different behind the handlebars than they do from behind the wheel.

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