Tag Archive for Critical Mass

No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

Does “Bike-friendly” Long Beach intentionally stomp on cyclists’ civil rights?

Long Beach has long proclaimed its intention to be America’s most bike friendly city.

And under the guidance of mobility coordinator Charlie Gandy, it’s gone far beyond any other city in Southern California in terms of building bicycle infrastructure and promoting cycling.

So it’s disappointing to find out that their bike-friendly attitude doesn’t extend to all cyclists. Or recognize the most basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.

As you may recall, controversy developed in October when the Long Beach police staged a heavy-handed crackdown on the city’s first official Critical Mass ride.

Police are accused of waving cyclists through a stop sign, then ticketing riders who obeyed their apparent instructions. They also attempted to enforce a bicycle licensing law that violates state law, which limits penalties for failing to license a bike to a maximum of $10 — and prohibits ticketing any riders from outside their jurisdiction for failing to register their bikes with Long Beach.

In addition, the police decided, with no apparent legal authority, that fixed gear bikes without separate brakes violate the state law requiring bikes be able to make one wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement — a standard most fixies can easily meet.

And the police enforced those so-called violations by seizing the bikes of the riders involved — again, without any apparent legal authority.

Now, a new story from the Long Beach Post reveals just how far the city is willing to go to violate the civil rights of American citizens, simply because they travel on two wheels and have chosen to practice their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly under the banner of Critical Mass.

According to the Post, despite official denials from the city, the organizers of the ride attempted to get a permit in advance, which Long Beach officials failed to issue. Yet they were found in violation of a requirement that any group of 75 or more is required to get a Special Events Permit — even though that law was legally unenforceable because parts of it had been declared unconstitutional.

Long Beach City Manager Patrick West — a serious cyclist for 18 years — chillingly explains that the city is in fact targeting Critical Mass, and that any other ride, by any other name, would not face the same heavy-handed enforcement.

“Long Beach has been a leader in [developing] bike infrastructure. When a group goes out there to violate traffic laws, it brings more [negative] attention to the money that we’re spending on infrastructure, and angers the average motorist.

“If it’s a Critical Mass ride,” West continued, “you can expect our police department to be there to to monitor that. A Critical Mass ride is something that is going to attract the attention of our police department to prevent cyclists from, you know, to maintain the vehicle code. And I’m just speaking of Critical Mass. I’m not speaking about any other ride in Long Beach at all, whenever, where-ever, whoever. I’m speaking about a Critical Mass ride.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that called selective enforcement?

His words were born out by another crackdown on a Christmas ride intended to raise funds to help cyclists fight the tickets from the October crackdown. Suspecting it was actually a super-secret Critical Mass ride under another name, the police arrived in force and halted the ride before it could even begin.

According to City Manager Patrick West, “we suspected that the second [ride] was a Critical Mass ride and, in hindsight, it was clear to us that it was not a Critical Mass ride. We communicated that to the group, then I talked to Jerome Podgajski [founder of MashLBC.com-ed] and I apologized.

“The second ride involved many of the same individuals,” said West, “and, at the end of the day, it turned out that no one had any intention of creating a Critical Mass ride, so we would have supported that ride. We’re learning as we go along, and we’re talking to event organizers to just be careful about billing things as a Critical Mass ride because we’re very very conscientious of that group.”

In other words, better to apologize afterwards than get the facts right first. And it’s okay to violate the rights of one group, as long as you support other groups who may do the same things, but under a different name.

The writer, Sander Wolff, got the perspective of a local attorney about the first incident:

I asked attorney Robert Thomas Hayes Link, Esq., who grew up in Long Beach, what he thought of the incident. “As described by (cyclist) Gerry Campos, the supposedly bicycle-friendly City of Long Beach, by way of the conduct of the Long Beach Police Department, would seem to have arranged for a sting operation designed to discourage future cycling awareness activities within its borders. Whether the City managed this in a fashion that shields them from civil rights liability remains to be seen.”

Read the full article.

It clearly drives home the fact that Long Beach may see itself as bike friendly.

But a bike-friendly attitude goes far beyond mere paint on the street.

Unless and until the city begins to observe the requirements of the California Vehicle Code — which supersedes city ordinances — and interprets the law in a fair and legal manner, treating all cyclists equally under the law, it will continue to put to lie their self-proclaimed vision as the country’s leading bike city.

And continue to be a city that cyclists  — Critical or otherwise — might be better off avoiding.

……..

Let me make one thing clear. I’m not a fan of Critical Mass; I tend to believe, like LB City Manager West, that it only serves to anger people who might otherwise support us.

But I am a big fan of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And I cannot support any person, city, jurisdiction or authority that willfully ignores the law to violate the rights of any cyclist.

As Emma Lazarus said, until we are all free, none of us is free.

Apparently, bicycling’s own Bull Connor is alive and well and living in Long Beach

In case you’re still wondering why you need to vote today, consider this.

Even in the most bike-friendly city in Southern California, a seemingly out-of-control police department can engage in a heavy-handed crackdown on cyclists.

Not only did the Long Beach police department halt the city’s first Critical Mass ride for lack of a permit — raising questions over the rider’s First Amendment right to free association and freedom of assembly — they seized up to 40 bikes with no apparent legal basis.

Or at least, no police officer I’ve spoken with was unaware of any law that would allow a mass seizure of legally owned bikes.

Maybe they have a different set of laws down there.

One of the reasons for the seizure cited in the Times article was a lack of brakes on 11 of the bikes. Yet the standard under state law only requires that the operator must be able to make one wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement — a standard that most fixies can easily meet.

Any guesses whether the officers made the riders try to skid their bikes before taking them?

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

The article also says that bikes must be registered with the city and inspected by the fire department. Yet under state law, such local licensing requirements can only be enforced against city residents, and cannot be applied to anyone who lives in a different jurisdiction or is just riding through the city.

And the law only allows for a maximum fine of $10 for not having a license. Nothing in the law allows for the seizure of a bike for not having a license — even for local residents.

The official statement from the city, which goes to great lengths to remind everyone what a cycling Nirvana Long Beach is — or rather, was prior to Friday — says 21 bikes were impounded, and over 70 citations issued. It also claims the riders chose not to get a permit, even though the Times story reports that they attempted to get a permit for the past two months.

And even though that pesky little First Amendment seems to make a permit unnecessary. Does Long Beach plan to crack down on any group of riders who happen to gather together for a ride?

Or only the ones that call themselves Critical Mass?

As more details come to light, the words of Police Chief Jim McDonnell sound even more chilling than they did over the weekend:

“The group known as Critical Mass travels from city to city and as a matter of practice engages in dangerous conduct, violating every rule of the road and endangering the public.” said Police Chief Jim McDonnell. “We take bicycle safety seriously in Long Beach and will not stand by idly while any person or group acts with blatant disregard for safety of the residents of our community.”

If you’ve been reading this for awhile, you may know that I’ve never been a fan of Critical Mass. And I’m the first to agree that police have every right to write up cyclists for legitimate violations such as running stop signs and not having lights after dark.

On the other hand, I’m even less a fan of police officers who seem to operate under their own version of the law. If this is how the “most bicycle friendly city in America” treats cyclists, God help the rest of us.

I thought this kind of policing went out of style with Bull Connor in the ‘60s.

But clearly, not everyone agrees.

.………

More information about the memorial ride for Jim Laing, the cyclist who was killed by an alleged drunk hit-and-run driver on October 23rd.

The ride is tentatively scheduled to begin at 8 am on Saturday, November 20th, at the Agoura Bicycle John’s at Kanan Road and East Thousand Oaks Blvd, and will pass by the site where he was killed on Agoura Road. It will be short, and slow to moderate pace, so it should be something anyone can feel comfortable participating in.

The early start may make it difficult for me to get out there in time for the ride, but I’m going to do my best to be there.

Because we need remember all those cyclists who have died needlessly on our streets, and let their loved ones know we share their grief.

And make it clear that too damn many of us have died already.

Thanks to Dave Mace for the information.

Fear mongering at its finest, events & weekend links

Seriously, they should know better.

On KABC Channel-7’s 5 pm Friday news broadcast, they teased a report on the then-upcoming L.A. Critical Mass by urging viewers to find out “what police are doing to keep it from becoming violent.”

So let me get this straight.

After a week of police and cycling community leader’s efforts to get CM riders to stay on the right side of road, not block intersections and stop for stop signals, the take away for one of the city’s leading news stations was that the LAPD was concerned about the ride becoming violent.

And with one 5 second tease, they managed to plant the suggestion that L.A. cyclists are aggressive thugs hell bent on rioting and/or assaulting innocent motorists.

So the next time a motorist cuts you off or runs you off the road, just remember he’s only acting in pre-emptive self-defense.

And you have KABC to thank for that.

The actual news report — which wasn’t available online as of midnight — was only slightly less biased, focusing on asking drivers if it was okay for cyclists to block intersections. And goading them into a negative response when most didn’t seem too concerned about it.

I have no idea what they said after the ride, or if they even covered it at all on the 11 pm news, since I decided to opt for a little less fear mongering with my nightly news. And switched to KNBC Channel 4, who said it turned out to be a smooth ride, after all.

And evidently, one without violence.

Despite what some other channels might have implied.

Update: Thanks to Aaron for providing a link to KABC’s 11 pm story on Critical Mass; to their credit, it was a much better report than their earlier efforts to frighten the driving public.

………

LADOT Bike Blog interviews two of the driving — or in this case, non-driving — forces behind the upcoming CicLAvia on 10/10/10.

And the L.A. Weekly makes clear that their days as a credible alternative publication are long past, as they demonstrate a surprising windshield bias against the upcoming CicLAvia. As a number of the comments point out, an event held on secondary streets — on a Sunday, no less — is highly unlikely to contribute to the city’s gridlock, despite the Weekly’s exceptionally negative take on it.

Maybe fear mongering is contagious.

………

Jure Robič, five-time winner of the ultra-endurance Race Across America, was killed in a collision with a car on Friday while on a training ride in his native Slovenia. The 45-year old rider was the winner of this year’s RAAM, as well as other ultra-endurance events and a holder of the world 24-hour endurance record. Thanks to Zeke for the heads-up.

Meanwhile, Riverside County officials released the name of the rider killed in Wildomar on Wednesday; 53-year old Lake Elsinore resident Peter Anthony Zupan died at the scene after being hit by a pickup while crossing Mission Trail.

And still no official confirmation on the rider who died after a collision on Mulholland Highway and Cornell Road in Agoura Hills last weekend.

………

In upcoming events:

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Volunteers are needed for the Glendale bike count on Saturday the 25th.

The annual Abbot Kinney Festival takes place on Abbot Kinney Blvd between Venice Blvd and Main Street this Sunday; expect massive crowds and scarce parking, so take advantage of the bike valet.

Hearings for the proposed bike plan are scheduled for September 25, 29, 30 and October 2, with a noontime Webinar scheduled for Wednesday the 29th.

The second Folk Art Bike Ride rolls on Sunday, October 3rd at 12:30 pm, starting and ending at the Craft and Folk Art Museum at 5814 Wilshire Blvd. The easy, 6.5 mile route stops at several restaurants, galleries and cultural centers along the way; the first one got rave reviews, so don’t miss this one.

The Long Beach Green Port Fest takes place on Saturday, October 2, with bike valet and guided rides to the event departing every 45 minutes, as well as a guided pre-event bike tour beginning at 9 am.

Visit the Events page for more upcoming happenings, including CicLAvia and Santa Monica’s ciclovía on 10/10/10 and Tour da Fat on Oct. 23rd.

………

Gary says ridership is up 11% in Santa Monica, but bike collisions are up 78% — even though other cities tend to show a corresponding decrease as more people ride bikes. Tim Robbins bikes through Venice. Must be some kind of trend — Berkeley police crack down on stop sign running cyclists, Boston cracks down on rule breakers and Park City police let a stop-sign running rider off with a warning. Forgiving distracted drivers won’t keep anyone safe. Bike Snob says it’s okay to keep riding in the off-season. Salem OR removes a traffic lane to improve congestion. Independence MO bans harassment of cyclists, runners, pedestrians and roadway wheelchair users. It’s not the press who oppose the first Critical Mass in Aurora IL, it’s other riders. Kentucky authorities are looking for a driver intentionally targeting cyclists with his pickup truck. A Flying Pigeon spotting in Boston. An arrest has been made in the murder of a DC cyclist last month; the shooter — just 16-years old at the time — shot Eric Foreman as he rode by, then walked over and shot him twice more after he fell from his bike. Five reasons why your neighborhood cyclist hates you. A Google contest donates $1 million for a recumbent operated monorail system; Reuters says there must have been 149,996 stupid ideas if that was one of the five winning suggestions. The Department of DIY Toronto branch strikes again, graphically asking where’s our bike lane? Fixie-riding cyclists introduce polo vélo to Parisiens. Evidently, Barclay’s isn’t winning many friends for sponsoring London’s bike share program. Cycling England, the agency behind the Bikeability program to teach British children to ride safely, is rumored to be on the chopping block; instead of cutting it, how about exporting it? A promising young Belize cyclist is killed in an apparent hit-from-behind collision.

Finally, courtesy of our Kiwi correspondent the Trickster, comes a two part video tour of Australia’s World Championships course hosted by Robbie McEwen. And Aussie police tell cyclists not to run red lights or ride four abreast — even if they are training for next week’s World Championships.

Think they’ll enforce that during the race, too?

………

In case you were wondering what was in that big box last week...

LAPD warns riders to kick it or ticket at tonight’s Critical Mass

Lately, Critical Mass has become the face of L.A. cycling for many Angelenos.

And like so many L.A. faces, it’s time to have a little work done.

Following the incident earlier this year in which an LAPD officer appeared to kick a passing cyclist, a ride that had largely passed under the radar has been front and center, as the LAPD has worked with cyclists to avoid any similar incidents.

But even with a police escort, some riders have still taken the concept of organized anarchy to the extreme, including swarming drivers on the wrong side of the street. And causing local residents to complain to the LAPD and other government officials.

And while it wasn’t a CM ride, last week’s incident at the Ralphs on Lincoln Blvd — with cyclists riding through the aisles of the market — didn’t help.

As a result, police and leaders of the cycling community are calling on Critical Mass riders to cool it. And obey the minimal rules they expect riders to observe on tonight’s ride, such as:

  • Don’t run red lights or stop signs
  • Don’t ride on the wrong side of the yellow line
  • Don’t block intersections so that cross traffic can’t pass

That’s it.

No mass crackdown, no hard rules to enforce rigid regulations.

Just three simple don’ts. But riders who don’t observe them risk getting a ticket — or even face arrest if the police feel the violation warrants it.

Of course, the LAPD does have a few other simple requests, like avoiding various violations big and small that they’ve addressed in the past — and which should go without saying — including:

  • Vandalism
  • Thefts
  • Assaults
  • Criminal Threats
  • Drinking in Public
  • Smoking/using illicit substances
  • Driving/Riding under the influence
  • Participants under the age of 18 must wear a helmet
  • Participants should have necessary lighting equipment
  • All bikes must have brakes or otherwise comply with the braking requirements

Now go out and have fun.

But just remember, as Carlos Morales, founder of the Eastside Bike Club said, we need to police ourselves, or the police will do it for us.

………

More on Thursday’s press conference to formally announce CicLAvia from blogdowntown and KABC-7. The Daily News says streets may close for on 10/10/10; what part of closing streets for CicLAvia don’t they get? This is what ciclovía looks like in Bogotá, Colombia.

………

Councilmember Greig Smith revises his anti-bike resolution to allow neighborhood councils to review all street projects. No more need to lock your bike to City Hall’s front railing; oh, and the Mayor took some serious bike action at Metro, as well. Bike plan hearings begin this weekend. Photos from last weekend’s Vuelta de la BiciDigna. Why can’t some bike shops tell their Presta from their Schrader? Ride bikes, do good and drink beer at Tour de Fat, coming to L.A. next month. A San Rafael driver is charged after critically injuring a cyclist in a hit-and-run and driving off with the rider still on his hood. A Florida cyclist watches from behind the wheel as a rider gets hit by a car. In a truly tragic event, a Pennsylvania man paralyzed in a 1993 cycling accident is killed riding a hand bike he was given just last weekend when he veered into the path of an ambulance. Sag Harbor NY students organize a bike train for a safe route to school. An NYC paper supports separated bike lanes, but calls on fast cyclists to slow down, while a writer says more bikes means slower bikes. Upright riders have an anti-Critical Mass attitude. A Jacksonville FL man pleads guilty to stabbing two cyclists in a Memorial Day road rage attack. The death of a Maryland Senate candidate brings attention to a loophole in local traffic laws. The epitome of jerk-hood, as a Kansas City police dash cam catches three men stealing a bike, as police, paramedics and firemen tend to its wounded owner laying in the street after being hit by a car. Three cyclists have now pulled out of India’s Commonwealth Games because of health concerns and worries over accommodations. A preview of next month’s World Championships, while an Aussie academic says let Landis speak. More on the antique tricycle stolen from an English bike charity over the weekend along with more modern bikes and computer equipment. Brits say cycling is cool, but those who do it are miserable and lazy; well, only when we’re not on our bikes. London Mayor BoJo wants helmets for the city’s new bike share program after two riders are hospitalized with injuries. Excerpts from the new Cyclopedia. Former pro racer Mario Cipollini unveils his new bike; very sexy looking, but comfortable? Not so much.

Finally, the view from China suggests L.A. is going to become a bike-friendly city, saying “the city of Los Angeles will try every means possible to encourage its residents to ride bikes instead of driving cars.”

The view from L.A. says we’re — finally — off to a nice start, but we’ve got a very long way to go.

The incredible disappearing sharrows, part two

Now you see them, now you don’t.

Just days after sharrows magically reappeared in Westwood — after being covered up in a massive failure of communication between two city agencies — it’s happened again.

Only this time, it’s a good thing.

According to an email I received on Wednesday, Torrance joined the recent rush to put sharrows on the streets this month — to the delight and disappointment of local cyclists.

Delight, because shared lane markings have proven exceptionally popular with many bike riders, indicating to drivers that we have a right to the road.

And to the lane.

Nice try, but this is just so wrong in so many ways.

Disappointment, because the markings were placed in entirely the wrong location — in the bike lane and well out of the traffic lane. And worse, they indicated that cyclists should ride directly in the door zone, rather than positioning riders outside it, as the marking are intended to do.

Maybe someone in the city’s Public Works Department saw the pretty bike and chevron design in another nearby town, and thought they’d look lovely on the streets of their own town. Or maybe they just wanted to be trendy, like everyone else here in SoCal, and didn’t want to get left off the sharrow express.

Problem is, they clearly didn’t research the hows and whys and — most importantly — wheres before they put paint on the street.

I’ll let my correspondent take it from here, quoting from the email he sent to the Public Works Department just last Saturday, with a copy sent to the city’s mayor.

Shared Lane Markings (aka “sharrows”) have been incorrectly installed on streets in the City of Torrance.

According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Shared Lane Markings are not to be used in designated bicycle lanes and, on streets with parallel parking, should be placed at least 11 feet from the curb.

The recently installed “sharrows” on Torrance Blvd (in designated bicycle lanes) and those on Anza Avenue (less than 11 feet from the curb and in the “door zone”) are nonconforming, exposing the city to possible liability should a bicycle rider be injured.

While the City of Torrance is to be applauded for its bicycle friendly efforts, the use of Shared Lane Markings should be in accordance with the MUTCD.

Under that black paint lies an unlamented misplaced and swiftly removed sharrow.

The response was surprisingly swift.

When he went out for his ride on Wednesday, he passed one of the locations where sharrows had been placed on Torrance Blvd.

And he was surprised to see that the offending pavement markings had already been painted over,  just five days —and only three business days — following his email. Evidently, it doesn’t hurt to copy the mayor’s office when you complain.

As he put it:

Better no sharrows than ones in the door zone.

………

As if people didn’t already think most cyclists are law-breaking scum.

The LAPD hosted a news conference Wednesday evening to announce that, despite improved relations with the cycling community, there are certain biking behaviors that just won’t be tolerated.

Like corking intersections. Riding on the wrong side of the road. Or swarming a grocery store parking lot, drinking beer and smoking pot, and riding bikes through the aisles of the store, scattering shoppers in your wake.

As Brent wrote in an email Wednesday,

…it’s like the new “skateboarding” — hanging out with your friends, skateboard in one hand, joint in the other. But it sure does tar the rest of us just trying to get to our destination by bicycle.

Leaders of the local bike community are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again at Critical Mass this Friday. And the police will be on hand to make damn sure it doesn’t.

Tolerance only goes so far.

And patience has clearly run out.

………

Damien Newton breaks the news that Rita Robinson may be leaving her position as LADOT General Manager to take a high-level position with the county. Interesting timing, as it comes at the same time that New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, a graduate of Occidental College, is rumored to be having trouble with her new, less-bike-friendly boss.

Maybe this is Mayor Villaraigosa’s opportunity to demonstrate that he really is the bike community’s new BFF, and bring her back home to L.A.

………

LADOT Bike Blog sums up its excellent series on where you can and can’t ride on the sidewalk in L.A. County. And concludes by saying it just shows there’s still work to be done.

If bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles with responsibilities and rights equal to automobiles, like CVC 21200 states, then bicyclists deserve to have rules for their operation that are at least as uniform as the rules for operating an automobile.

The LA County Sidewalk Riding series proves, if nothing else, that we’ve still got a ways to go in that regard.

………

Villaraigosa offers Angelenos a personal invitation to attend CicLAvia on 10/10/10. Gary says when someone steals your bike, you can always rollerblade. Here’s what you can look forward to at next month’s Tour da Fat. A Fresno mother pleads for justice in the hit-and-run death of her son. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske discusses liability for road hazards, saying you may not be at fault for that fall; something you might want to remember, considering we have the 2nd worst roads in the U.S. The search continues for the schmuck driver who fled the scene after hitting two cyclists in rapid succession in Portland. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looks back on Tuesday’s Distracted Driving Summit, saying distraction-related crashes are 100% preventable. A reputed Lance Armstrong accuser testifies before the Grand Jury investigating him here in L.A.; is it truth or sour grapes? Top young pro Taylor Phinney blows off Lance and signs with BMC. How to ride in a paceline. If you want to get away with murder, use a car instead of a gun. Canadian TV asks if enough cyclists use Vancouver’s new bike lanes to justify their existence, while a writer says the city’s cyclists are their own worst enemies. An English cyclist was five times over the legal drunk driving limit when he was killed in a collision. A British rider asks for advice on how to make her longer bike commute more fun. A rare, 130-year old tricycle is stolen from a Brit bike charity. Researchers say traffic jams are caused by a combination of aggressive and/or timid drivers; link courtesy of @Metro Library. A different approach to Budapest’s Critical Mass works better than expected.

Finally, the inevitable far-right backlash begins against Wednesday’s Car-Free Day; evidently, it’s another left-wing plot, just like bike sharing.

News Update: Senate candidate killed, AAA attacks bike funding, a move to make Metro bike friendlier

A Maryland driver tells police she thought she hit a deer, despite driving four miles home with a bicycle lodged under her SUV. But what she actually hit was the state’s Green Party candidate for Senate; 30-year old Natasha Pettigrew died of her injuries early Tuesday. WashCycle continues to follow the story.

Thanks to houseofpies and DC for the heads-up.

………

The cyclist killed in Carlsbad on Sunday after losing control of her bike has been identified as 50-year old Susan Eiko Akana of Poway.

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The Rails to Trails Conservancy reports that AAA thinks the pittance the government spends on bike and pedestrian programs would be better spent on more highway projects, blaming the less than $1 billion budget for such projects for the $89 billion shortfall in the annual highway fund.

Clearly, AAA could use a refresher math course. As well as a good swift kick in the tail pipe.

RTC urges you to sign their petition calling on AAA to support funding for safe walking and biking. As a long-time AAA member, I couldn’t agree more; in fact, I just did it.

………

Cyclists will be expected to behave a little better at Friday’s Critical Mass — like no corking or riding on the wrong side of the road. The LAPD be hosting a press conference to discuss policing of Critical Mass at 5 pm today at the plaza of the new Police Administration Headquarters, 100 West First Street Downtown.

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L.A. cycling’s new BFF, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has proposed that Metro get a lot more bike friendly, including more than doubling bike funding in next year’s Call for Projects. LACBC calls on all cyclists to attend the Thursday meeting, 9:30 am in the Third Floor Conference room at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza.

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LADOT Bike Blog reports that sharrows are back on Westholme Ave; something I can confirm from Monday’s ride, when I rolled over them for the first few blocks before I even noticed.

Okay, so maybe I’m not always the most observant rider on the road.

Sharrows returned to Westholme Ave in Westwood on Monday; did anyone other than cyclists notice?

L.A. survives Critical Mass; plus weekend rides, races and fireworks

Evidently, Friday night’s LAPD-accompanied Critical Mass was a success, with reports of police corking intersections, passing out lights and one officer riding a tall bike.

Now that’s something I’d like to see.

Update: Read more at Bicycle Fixation, Streetsblog and BikesideLA. Some of the news outlets reported on CM Friday night, but don’t seem to have the stories online as of noon Saturday.

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In this weekend’s riding news, Saturday marks the Eastside Bicycle Club’s 2nd Anniversary Celebration in Lincoln Park, with fireworks at sunset; Stephen Box and the LAPD’s bike point man Sgt. David Krumer will be honored with the club’s 1st Annual Golden Crank Award.

Saturday will also see the Los Angeles Wheelmen’s 52nd Annual Grand Tour, with rides from 200 to 400 miles. It was on last year’s Grand Tour that Rod Armas was killed and his son critically injured when they were struck by a truck allegedly driven Robert Sam Sanchez, who fled the scene.

On Sunday, Flying Pigeon looks forward to the second annual Pershing Square Discovery Bike Ride, while Claremont Cyclist looks at Sunday’s 49th Annual Manhattan Beach Grand Prix.

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Maybe sharrows are contagious; after suddenly appearing in Los Angeles, signs suggest they’re about to make an appearance in Santa Monica. Flying Pigeon offers photos of the recent Streetsblog fundraising ride. The birth of a (fast) bike. Riding under the 405 on Wilshire just got a lot safer. More on the arraignment of two San Bernardino teens charged with killing pro racer Jorge Alvarado. San Francisco cyclists won’t ride the city’s new sharrows; even the city’s lead traffic engineer says no way. Bike fashions for on and off your ride. A new rider makes the slow transition to serious cyclist, but can’t quite work up the nerve to shave his legs. How to corner at speed. Ten riders to watch in the 2010 Tour. How to ride wisely as you age. Portuguese soccer star Christiano Ronaldo shows what he does when he’s not competing in the World Cup; evidently, cycling is sexy. London cracks down on rogue road users, on two or four wheels. UK police look for a hit-and-run schmuck cyclist who left an elderly woman badly injured in the street. The department of DIY moves north as homemade sharrows hit the pavement in British Columbia.

Finally, bike lawyer Bob Mionske offers advice on what to do when you really, really have to go.

A look at tonight’s Critical Mass

I confess. I’ve never ridden a single Critical Mass.

It’s not that I’m against it. Although personally, I don’t think we win friends by reinforcing the motoring public’s perception that bikes never stop for red lights or that we inconvenience drivers needlessly.

And it would be fun to celebrate our right to ride with a few hundred — or in tonight’s case, more likely a few thousand — like-minded riders. Especially when there’s a point to be made following last month’s Critical Mass Takedown.

If I was still single, I’d probably be a regular at rides like this.

Then again, if I was single, there’s a lot of things I’d do that I don’t do now.

However, as a married man, I have other obligations. Which means that events that take place on nights and weekends are usually out for me, as much as I might like to join in on the fun.

But in my book, family comes first.

Then again, it’s not like anyone is likely to miss me. Tonight’s CM promises to be one of the largest the city has ever seen, including a number of the local biking community’s more prominent members who don’t normally participate on a regular basis.

Representatives from the LACBC will be there. Bikeside will undoubtedly be there, along with the Ridazz. And the rapidly growing Eastside Bicycle Club — which celebrates its second anniversary at Lincoln Park on Saturday — will no doubt be represented.

Even the LAPD’s point man for bike issues, Sgt. David Krumer, will be there — in fact, he’s hoping to have his picture taken with Plebis Power, author of the popular CM poster parody.

And he won’t be alone.

The Los Angeles Police Department will not only be attending the ride, they expect to participate in some way. While they readily acknowledge that this is an experiment, they’re committed to finding a way to more effectively police and support the ride, without the heavy-handed problems of last month.

Police cruisers, they promise, will be kept in the background unless needed. And there won’t be a crackdown on “ticky tacky” violations as some riders have feared — such as bikes without side reflectors, for instance.

But cyclists will be expected to have lights and brakes — defined as being able to skid on dry pavement, for you fixie aficionados. And anyone under 18 needs a helmet, as required by state law.

The department is encouraging leaders within the ride to step — or maybe roll — forward to help self-police the ride to keep officers from feeling the need to step in themselves.

And they offer three key points to remember as you ride tonight —

  • People are encouraged to follow the rules of the road
  • The police will not be corking intersections — though they reserve the right to change their mind if it becomes necessary
  • Riders will be expected to stop at all red lights unless instructed otherwise

I’d also like to add a little advice that Sgt. Krumer offered earlier this month, not just for Critical Mass, but anytime you find yourself dealing with the police —

  • Stop if a police officer instructs you to
  • Be polite and respectful, even if you don’t think you did anything wrong — “No sir” or “Yes ma’am” will go a long way towards avoiding any problems
  • Don’t try to correct the officer, even if you know the law better than he or she does — some officers may see that as being combative, which could cause things to escalate unpleasantly
  • If the officer writes a ticket, just accept it quietly and fight it in court later

Finally, if you think you’ve been treated unfairly, contact the watch commander at the officer’s precinct. Or contact anyone involved with the department’s Bike Task Force — such as myself, the LACBC, Bikeside, Carlos Morales or bike activist extraordinaire Stephen Box, just to name a few, and we’ll contact the department on your behalf.

And yes, you do have a right to film or photograph any police officer in the performance of his or her duties — despite what you might have seen — as field officers were recently reminded.

But you might not want to push the point, especially if you value your iPhone.

Now have fun.

And stay out of the news.

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The teenage suspects in the car racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado plead not guilty. The LACBC calls on LADOT to do sharrows right, and endorses the Wilshire Bus (and bike) Only Lane along with the Green LA Transportation Working Group. Council Member Tom LaBonge’s police-accompanied group ride along the new 4th Street sharrows was “like Critical Mass, but with gray hair and guns.” Your tentative route for CicLAvia is unveiled. A Bay Area cyclist is killed after broad-siding a truck, possibly while trying to set a downhill speed record. A Folsom man dies shortly after falling from his bike on a local bike path. Bike Attorney Bob Mionske looks at the Black Hawk bike ban and not surprisingly, finds it violates Colorado law. A leadership vacuum on bike issues in Chicago; sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ikea tries to veto bike lanes in Brooklyn.­ Even in Missouri, you can have a ride from hell — although that loud long horn could be a friend trying to say hi. A student riding across country to raise money for charity is killed by a car in New Mexico. The new Oklahoma law that allows cyclists to run red lights that don’t change doesn’t actually allow cyclist to go through red lights after all. FedEx says call the police if one of their trucks blocks a bike lane because their not going to do anything about it. A Pittsburgh area cemetery — final resting place of perhaps the greatest player in baseball history — opens its gates to cyclists. Who needs bike parking when you’ve got a good fence? UK cycling rates are up, while deaths are down. If you’re planning a bike ride, it helps to know where the keys are. A driver loses her license for killing a cyclist while trying to toss a spider out of her car. A woman barely survives a brush with a massive truck as horrified bystanders look on.

Finally, I dare anyone to run you off the road on this bike.

Friday’s Critical Mass — making a point through parody

It seems like everyone is anticipating this Friday’s L.A. Critical Mass  — whether with excitement or trepidation — especially in light of the recent announcement that the LAPD intends to participate.

Some cyclists are planning to respond by observing the letter of the law and stopping for all red lights, regardless of the effect that may have on traffic. Or on the department’s ability to manage countless groups of riders converging on a single spot.

Meanwhile, a rider going by the name of Plebis Power — loosely translated, Power of the People — left a comment on a recent post that featured the department’s poster announcing their plans to attend the next CM, as well as on the LACBC’s blog. And in it, offered a link to a tongue-in-cheek response to the LAPD.

It’s pretty damn funny — and effectively makes a good point, while demonstrating that there are two sides to this story.

And I’m told that even the officer who created the department’s original poster found it pretty amusing.

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Sharrows began hitting the streets on the Valley’s Reseda Blvd, making it the third of six locations scheduled to get them; bike lanes are still planned from Devonshire to Parthenia and Parthenia to Valerio. As for the others, I rode both Westholme Ave and Abbot Kinney over the past few days; no sign of sharrows yet.

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Long Beach’s biking expats offer images from Music City. Good Samaritans save a cyclist who suffers a heart attack in Silicon Valley. How to safely navigate your way around trucks, and how drivers can safely navigate their way around you. A road-raging writer says he hates bike riders more than serial killers and TV pitchmen. U.S. Representative Earl Blemenauer and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood write about the new bike lane on one of the world’s most famous streets; now maybe our bike riding president can use his to get to the next State of the Union address. A Portland cyclist beats a ticket for carrying a passenger on his bike. Seattle gets its first buffered bike lanes. The RAAM rider critically injured in a Kansas collision still has no feeling from the waist down; still no word on charges against the driver. Oklahoma cyclists can now legally run red lights that don’t change. New York neighborhoods start to fight back against more bike lanes, while the city’s Sanitation Department revokes a misguided plan to remove ghost bikes. A bike riding first grader hit on the last day of classes shines a light on Safe Routes to School. New Florida road signs say “Ride Right, Drive Right.” Using lights to see and be seen. Lance Armstrong’s Radioshack team names its roster for the Tour de France; after his second place finish in the Tour of Switzerland, Lance may be competitive this year after all. Guerilla tactics to protect your bike. New Zealand authorities seek a teenage BMX riding groper. A cyclist wins in court after slipping in oil spilled by a farmer.

Evidently, it’s open season on cyclists in the Windy City. In a truly bizarre case, a Chicago judge celebrates their Bike to Work Day by giving two drunk drivers who intentionally sought out and hit two cyclists — actually changing seats so both would have a chance — to less than a slap on the wrist. One driver got 7 to 10 days in jail; the other was sentenced to two years probation.

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