Tag Archive for close calls

Weekend Links: One near miss caught on video, and one that didn’t; cops already parking on LA Street bike lane

I didn’t plan on writing a new post this morning. But there’s just too much bike news we need to share today.

And who needs sleep anyway?

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Now that’s a close call.

Weshigh shares video of a driver who dangerously buzzed him on Venice Blvd after he signaled to move into the traffic lane. And apparently didn’t care.

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Ohio bike lawyer Steve Magas forwards dashcam video of a cyclist nailed in a left cross. He reports the driver had a stop sign, while the rider faced an uncontrolled intersection with the right-of-way.

Fortunately, the rider is relatively okay, suffering a broken ankle in the crash. And he’s got a good lawyer.

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Streetsblog celebrates the opening of the new protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street, while KNBC-4 talks with BikinginLA sponsor Josh Cohen about the new bicycle traffic lights.

LADOT explains how the new protected lane works, including the new two-stage left turn bike boxes.

But so much for the hope that the protected lanes would keep cops from parking in it.

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The Hollywood Reporter stages a three-way Starbucks to Starbucks race from DTLA to Santa Monica by car, train and ebike.

Needless to say, the Expo train to the coast finished last, but surprisingly, the car beat the ebike rider by four minutes.

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The leader of the group of nine Kalamazoo cyclists run down by an out-of-control driver last week turns the other cheek, saying she has no ill will towards the man who killed five of her friends while wounding herself and three others.

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Local

Los Angeles Magazine says a proposed new NoHo development includes an elevated cycle track through the property.

Richard Risemberg says road diets don’t impede emergency vehicles, but the lack of them does.

KPCC looks at LADOT’s hiring of sound artist Alan Nakagawa to work on Vision Zero.

Burbank approves stop signs, and possibly bike lanes, on Edison Blvd despite the reservations of one councilmember over whether bike lanes would improve safety. Maybe he could look at some of the many studies showing just that next time.

County supervisors Shiela Kuehl and Hilda Solis call for more parks in LA County.

 

State

San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies are looking for a Montclair man who allegedly stabbed another man several times in a dispute over a bicycle. It’s an effing bicycle, for chrissake. It’s not worth trying to kill someone over.

Here’s your chance to go on a 50 mile bike ride with Kawasaki motorcycle racers at the famed Laguna Seca raceway.

Any East Bay bike riders who haven’t licensed their bikes are probably breaking the law.

Nice piece from bike scribe Peter Flax — the ebike rider in the above mention race from DTLA to the coast — about the peace that comes from riding a century in wine country.

 

National

Surly may have some problems, but the popular bike maker isn’t going under.

The NFL’s Ryan brothers are two of us, as the Buffalo Bills coaches are spotted riding a tandem bike — which the writer aptly describes as “the Corgis of the transportation world – ­adorable, and hard not to love.”

Instead of fixing a dangerous intersection, Denver authorities say bikes shouldn’t even be there — despite a sign saying just the opposite.

Two cyclists participating in Colorado’s Ride the Rockies pause along the nation’s highest continuous paved road in Rocky Mountain National Park to spread their father’s ashes; their dad had participated in the ride 18 times himself.

This is the cost of traffic violence, as a San Antonio mother mourns the loss of her 15-year old son in a bicycling collision. Thanks to Steve Katz for the heads-up.

Now that’s more like it. An Iowa drunk driver gets 34 years in prison — yes, 34 — for the death of a cyclist; he was already barred from driving for a previous DUI conviction, and had another eight misdemeanor drug and traffic convictions in just 16 months before the fatal crash. With good behavior, he could see his kids again in another 17 and a half years.

What the hell is wrong with Michigan drivers these days? A hit-and-run driver faces 15 years for running down a bike rider on a charity ride after allegedly snorting coke, huffing and inhaling nitrous oxide.

A Michigan sheriff says he only stopped a bike rider and cussed him out because he was worried the “road-raging” rider may have been clipped by a driver who flipped him off. Sure, let’s go with that.

I want to be like him when I grow up. An Ohio cyclist is still winning bike races at 92 years old.

A Rhode Island man “borrowed” a bike to get home, but was so drunk he couldn’t remember where he left it.

Caught on video: Apparently, a New York bike lane is just a way for drivers to get around traffic.

Caught on video 2: A motorist, a bike rider and an unidentified woman come to blows in a three-way brawl on a New York street for undisclosed reasons.

A road-raging Maryland cyclist smacked a driver in the face with his U-lock; of course, judging by the article, the driver did absolutely nothing to provoke it. Seriously, no matter what a driver does, never resort to violence. If this rider is found, he could face a charge of aggravated battery, with a potential jail time measured in years, not months.

NPR looks at how Atlanta’s architecture can make the city friendlier to bike riders.

A group of African American cyclists embarked on a three-day ride from New Orleans’ Congo Square to AfricaTown in Mobile, Alabama.

 

International

Mexican researchers develop phosphorescent cement that could allow bikeways to glow in the dark to improve safety.

A Vancouver bicyclist calls for cyclists to show more courtesy to others on the streets. And says the same goes for drivers.

New suicide barriers dangerously narrow a bikeway on an Edmonton bridge.

A Toronto website lists the many condescending anti-bike statements from the city’s councilors, such as we’re dangerous psychos who cause anxiety among those poor, innocent drivers. Well, okay then.

A new British bike taillight flashes brighter when you ride through hazardous situations, crowdsources road data, sends an alert if someone tries to steal your bike and texts your next of kin if you wipeout.

A UK paper lists ten lesser known benefits of bicycling. All of which are pretty well-known to anyone who rides.

No, Dublin, a ghost bike is a memorial, not an abandoned bicycle.

Probably not the best idea to hitch a ride by grabbing ahold of a speeding English tram.

 

Finally…

If you’re carrying dope and a loaded handgun on your bike, put a damn light on it. No, seriously, put a damn light on your bike if you’re planning to use it as your getaway vehicle after burglarizing some homes.

And we only have to worry about dodging tourists on the bike path, not a bear darting into your path.

Describe Your Ride: Nearly run down by a speeding driver — with a twist

Unfortunately, not every ride is a happy one.

Today, an OC rider who prefers to remain anonymous describes a recent ride in which she had a brush with a speeding, overly aggressive driver in a high-powered car. Literally.

With a surprise ending that left her livid.

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Tuesday afternoon I was nearly swiped by a speeding Charger (Challenger?) whose incompetent driver, immediately behind me, suddenly punched the gas and squeezed between me and the box truck to his left. I had proceeded from a full stop at a red light, and had just cleared an intersection full of kids leaving school. Because of gravel on the gutter pan, I was gutterbunnying it, close enough to worry about pedal strike.

The pass was so sudden and so close that I was less articulate than usual, but managed to bellow WHAT THE F***! while wobbling. No remedial, YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY. No accompanying, GET YOUR HOMICIDAL ASS OFF THE ROAD. No PATIENCE IS A F****** VIRTUE, my most frequent high-volume communication. Me, speechless. If that’s at all believable. The passenger side was less than 8 inches from my bullhorns, and the side of the box truck to his left thundered the revving engine back at me. Before I had time to even want to smack the car’s window, I was looking at tail lights. That Charger had passed me in less time than it took for Shaun Eagleson to look over his shoulder. Somehow I stayed mostly upright, and didn’t even hit the concrete bus bench whose acquaintance I was certain I was going to violently make.

Though the lane ahead narrowed, the car continued to accelerate and then, despite its speed, took the corner like it was on rails.. The Charger was already out of sight by the time I made the corner by the hospital. But I stopped to ask a pair of orderlies at the ambulance bay if they’d seen a speeding car, and they confirmed it had turned left at the next street. As I approached the intersection, the westward gazes of some animated warehouse workers on the sidewalk indicated that the orderlies were correct. The next intersection was a T-intersection, and a group of workers had abandoned a steam shovel to walk south for a peek around the corner. When I turned right, there sat the Charger, crosswise in the middle of the intersection. Its driver had just stepped out, and stood next to it.

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Los Alamitos CopYes, A F****** COP IN AN UNMARKED F****** CAR. An extremely fast, extremely heavy car. Grey, camouflaged amid the asphalt and overcast sky. I’m going to assume that although it did have the blue and red in the back window (engaged eventually), it is not equipped with a siren that would have alerted me to pull over, because certainly a law enforcement officer traveling at that speed is required to alert road users of his presence, right?

 

A couple miles later, on the river path, I realized I was bleeding. I think my knuckle scraped the bus bench that I nearly landed on, but I can’t be sure. Frankly, I was kind of disappointed at how hilariously tiny the scrape is, considering all the dripping blood.

I’m not riding without my GoPro again. And I might get all FOIA on that Charger’s (possible) dashcam.

The Los Alamitos Police Department owes me an apology and some new bar tape.

 

Friday’s ride, in which I nearly acquire some prime agricultural land

I’ve often dreamed eventually settling down in Southern Colorado.

Maybe somewhere around Spanish Peaks, which is still one of the most beautiful and mysterious places I’ve ever seen. But I’ve always imagined myself living on a ranch.

Not buying the farm like I almost did today.

The funny thing is, I spent about half an hour Thursday evening on the phone with a reporter from the Times discussing whether it’s dangerous to ride on PCH. The point I tried to make was that the problems on PCH aren’t due to cyclists; it’s dangerous, aggressive and inattentive drivers, lax enforcement and a near total lack of infrastructure improvements to make things safer for everyone. Bicyclists included.

Yet what nearly happened to me didn’t happen on busy PCH; it was on Westwood’s relatively placid Ohio Ave, barely a mile from my home.

I was just starting out on my ride when I crossed Westwood Blvd heading west. As I rode, I watched as a driver at the next intersection started to make a left turn off Midvale, then noticed the oncoming traffic on Ohio.

And instead of gunning it to complete his turn and get the hell out of the way, he did exactly the wrong thing.

He froze.

He stopped right where he was, partially blocking the eastbound lane of Ohio. Which meant that the oncoming cars had a choice between stopping safely in front of him or going around him.

Do I really need to tell you which option the first driver took?

So just as I approached the intersection doing about 20 mph, I found myself staring face to face with a Cadillac Escalade driving on the wrong side of the road at over 30 mph, and at a distance of maybe 10 yards.

Which meant that I was less than half a second from becoming a bloody Caddy hood ornament. And at a combined speed of 50 mph, my survivability didn’t look very promising.

It wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference that I was wearing a helmet and riding exactly where I was supposed to be.

And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I had just enough time for that “Oh f***” moment in which I fully grasp the seeming inevitability of my demise, when he suddenly swerved back to the other side, clearing my handlebars by just a few feet. And leaving me riding rubber legged for the next several blocks.

It’s possible that he just didn’t see me. Although how you miss a 6’ tall, 180 pound man in a bright yellow jersey is beyond me.

Then again, maybe he did see me, which is even scarier. Because the total lack of surprise on the driver’s face would suggest that he knew I was there all along — and chose to risk the life of a total stranger just to avoid the minimal inconvenience of braking to avoid another car.

And let’s be very clear.

The danger I faced had nothing to do with being on a bike. Even if I’d been behind the wheel, that big ass truck would have mounted my little car like a dog in heat, most likely removing my head in the process.

Instead, it resulted from a frightened driver who made a mistake, then froze when he should have stepped on the gas. And an overly aggressive driver who chose to swerve dangerously when he should have stopped.

And that’s what makes riding, driving and walking across or along our roads risky, whether it’s on Ohio or PCH.

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Joaquin Rodriguez outsprints Alberto Contador for the finish in stage 12 of the tour de France. Andy Schleck rallies to cut his losses to 10 seconds; the question is how much did it take out of him.

Lance Armstrong is slipping further behind the leaders, but maybe it’s on purpose. Bicycling talks with Contador on video. A day after being bounced from the Tour, Mark Renshaw blames the competition. This was supposed to be Tyler Farrar’s year; instead he drops out 10 stages after breaking his wrist. Life as a TdF rider means learning to love pain; more backstage tidbits from le Tour.

And caption this photo of Tour leader Andy Schleck and his wool-bearing friend to win a $20 gift certificate.

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Click to enlarge

In case you missed yesterday’s list of upcoming events, click here and scroll down to catch up.

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Hell has officially frozen over — L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is photographed riding a bike; no, seriously. Gary says Santa Monica may host its first ciclovia on 10-10-10; maybe it should start at 10:10 am. It looks like L.A.’s best transportation blog may be sticking around after all. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who nearly got nailed recently. Bell unveils new commuter-friendly helmets. The Wall Street Journal continues make itself over into Bicycling Magazine; this time asking if you would commute to work. Three ways to pedal faster. Why it makes no sense to license cyclists. A Georgia driver faces aggravated assault charges after imitating Dr. Christopher Thompson. It looks like Memphis and Toronto will be getting new bike lanes, while Jakarta cyclists demand theirs. French President Nicolas Sarkozy rides a bike. Secret to cycling with traffic #5: signal sensibly. Bike is a four letter word in Halifax. Vancouver residents are up in arms after efforts to create what sounds like a bike boulevard. Copenhagen requests high tech bids to make biking in the city even better, as the rest of the world falls further behind.

Finally, first the NYPD blocks a bike lane, then tickets cyclists for going around them.

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