Tag Archive for Damien Newton

Morning Links: An open letter to the LA DA’s office; Streetsblog talks with LADOT head Seleta Reynolds

The fight for justice goes on.

Following up on DA Jackie Lacey’s non-response to the LACBC’s demand for justice in the Milt Olin case, cyclist Al Williams shares an email he sent to the DA’s office. And cites a similar case from Santa Clara County where the DA actually did give a damn.

Milt Olin was cycling in a designated, marked bike lane on a clear, sunny afternoon.

While it may be legal for a sheriff’s deputy to use his computer while driving, it is not legal for him to be inattentive while driving, which he most clearly was; and it is not legal for his car to enter a designated bike lane, as his car clearly did.

It is inconceivable to conclude that Andrew Wood was other than inattentive when he struck and killed Milt Olin on 8 Dec 2013.  Please correct this decision.  Please correct the finding of your office.  It is imperative that a message be sent that inattentiveness resulting in death will not be tolerated.

James Council, the Santa Clara County deputy sheriff who “fell asleep” while driving on duty, crossed the road, and killed Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson on March 9, 2008 was charged with vehicular manslaughter by the Santa Clara Count District Attorney, plead guilty and was convicted.  (http://abc7news.com/archive/6884991/)  The punishment was distressingly minor, but at least he was charged and convicted.  You should follow this precedent.  Failure to charge Deputy Wood is an outrage.

You can contact the DA’s office to express your own outrage any of the following ways, courtesy of the LACBC.

1. E-Mail :webmail@da.lacounty.gov, bcc: info@la-bike.org

2. Snail mail to:
District Attorney’s Office
County of Los Angeles
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000

Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

3. Phone: (213) 974-3512

4. Twitter: @LADAoffice

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New Vuelta winner Alberto Contador rules out a trip to the world championships; Chris Froome finished second in the race.

Caught on video: A rider in the Tour of Britain loses it on a sharp curve and takes out several spectators.

Jeremy Powers and Katie effing Compton — no really, that’s her Twitter handle — capture the Boulder Cup cyclocross race.

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Local

The upstart LA Register says fat bikes are big business.

Two former USC students want to cover the world with free bicycles; profits come from ads on the bikes.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton talks with new LADOT boss Seleta Reynolds; she may just be the world-class transportation leader LA has been begging for. And deserves.

 

State

The Orange County Register takes an in-depth look at the state’s new three-foot law, which goes into effect on Tuesday.

Seriously? A reader poll in the San Diego Union Tribune’s story on the three-foot law says bikes are bigger road hogs than cars. I kid you not.

Incensed motorists accuse San Jose’s Mr. Roadshow of being biased towards bicyclists; bike riders get their say the next day. Personally, I’ve always found the column fair and balanced in dealing with road issues. Then again, I’m one of the one’s he’s accused of favoring.

Hundreds of Marin County cyclists ride to remember fellow rider Robin Williams.

If you’re riding with a fake gun and police try to stop you for a traffic violation, don’t try to flee into an acquaintance’s home — especially if she has meth and hash inside. Oops.

 

National

Miss America contestants highlight their footwear; Miss Oregon gives a whole different meaning to bike shoes.

New York bicycling injuries drop despite an increase in ridership.

A Maryland writer is shocked by the irrational hatred directed towards cyclists by online commenters, saying riders just want to safely return to their loved ones.

A Virginia writer says the first step in solving traffic problems is treating bike riders and pedestrians as respected users of the public right-of-way.

 

International

An 18-year old UK cyclist is back to riding after technically dying four times — whatever that means — following a trackside heart attack.

After a frequently photographed bike is stolen from the Scottish barn it leaned against for at least four decades, a local photographer contributes a suitably rusty replacement.

Another look at Australia’s first hydrogen-powered bicycle.

 

Finally…

Biking to work can improve your romantic relationships — and your sex life. But you already knew that, right? An actual human cyclist pulls off a video game quality stunt; even I’m impressed.

And it seems like the entire world is in an uproar over the Columbia women’s cycling team’s highly unfortunate new uniforms; some with tongue apparently planted deep in cheek.

 

Morning Links: Streetsblog scores at the LA press awards; West Hills bike shop gutted in weekend fire

Congratulations to Streetsblog LA for being named Best Group Blog at the 56th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

And yes, that’s my name on there, too, thanks to my occasional role as guest writer and editor last year.

Photo shameless stolen from Damien Newton's Twitter account.

Photo shameless stolen from Damien Newton’s Twitter account.

The site also scored a third place award for best multimedia package, and Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman took second place awards for best online journalist and best news photo.

While I’m honored to have my name on the award, Sulaiman, Brian Addison, LA Streetsblog founder Damien Newton, editor Joe Linton and the other members of the Streetsblog team are the real rock stars behind Southern California’s best source for transportation news.

I’m just honored they let me play in their sandbox from time to time.

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Local

Cycling in the South Bay discovers taking the lane on PCH through the ‘Bu works fine when you’re riding in a group, not so much when you’re on your own.

West Hill’s popular Spoke N’ Wheels Bicycles is out of business for now following an apparent electrical fire that gutted the store.

A pretty graphic. Until you realize it’s a heat map of Los Angeles bicycling crashes — and only those that get reported.

 

State

A new law could save our cities by replacing Level of Service as the standard for traffic flow.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition teaches Silicon Valley shuttle bus drivers how to drive around bike riders.

If you build it, they will ride. Marin County ridership is up 66% after the county invests $28 million in new infrastructure.

 

National

The Bike League examines bike share’s gender gap.

Iowa sets an official policy to reduce traffic fatalities in the state to zero, after suffering 127 traffic deaths so far this year.

A Michigan teenager with cerebral palsy returns home from his first bike ride — a 250 mile journey across the state.

Indiana will now allow cyclists to ride through red lights that don’t change after two minutes.

 

International

An Ottawa writer says the city still isn’t safe enough for cyclists. Then again, name one city on this continent that is.

UK’s Mirror looks at the recognition finally swirling around Yorkshire cycling legend Beryl Burton.

A writer for the Telegraph decries snobbish cyclists who place themselves above other riders.

Bicycling lists this year’s Tour de France contenders.

Christchurch, New Zealand cyclists are hit by a car on an average of one every three days.

 

Finally…

Someone has taken bike porn to a new extreme by hacking Madrid’s new e-bike share system. And a cute video from British retail chain Halfords introduces the Bike Whisperer.

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An open letter to cyclists from the Rock Store photographer, and a warning about a dangerous NELA bike lane

Cyclists tackle The Snake on Muholland; photo by Paul Herold

Cyclists tackle The Snake on Muholland; photo by Paul Herold

Sometimes, my posts get written for me.

Not that I’m complaining.

This is one of those occasions, with an open letter to cyclists from a well-known motor sports photographer. A couple of videos. A request for witnesses from an LA bike lawyer.

And a friend who played an unwanted game of bumper bike near Westside Pavilion on Pico Blvd.

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First up is that open letter to cyclists who ride the famed Snake on Mulholland, aka the Rock Store ride, from Paul Herold, known around the world for his photos of the cyclists, motorcyclists and high-end sports car drivers who test their skills there.

I can’t say I agree with everything he’s written. On the other hand, I don’t ride there; some cyclists who do tell me his advice is spot on.

Either way, it’s worth a read.

Dear Velonauts,

Rumour has it that Amgen’s 2014 Tour of California will be returning to The Snake (the Rock Store climb) this May with the same circuit format we all enjoyed so much back in 2010. While I can find no confirmation on the TOC web site, I see ample support for the rumour in the faces of scores of new visitors I am seeing every weekend. Enthusiasm is not the only thing I am seeing in those new faces though….fear, horror, dread, anger frustration and rage are there too, mixed in with the usual fatigue and desperation. I can’t help much with fatigue. But perhaps I can help ease some of the fear, dread, loathing and rage.

And there's the problem; photo by Paul Herold

And there’s the problem; photo by Paul Herold

After sitting on The Snake camera in hand for seven years of weekends and holidays, I have some ideas to help make your ascent or descent of the Rock Store more enjoyable and safer. First, some perspective.

The Snake is one of the greatest 2.3 mile stretches of tantalizingly twisty tarmac on the West Coast. Located on Mulholland Highway north west Los Angeles County, the road is accessible to millions of car enthusiasts, motorcycle riders and cyclists. And it ain’t no secret. Crash videos from The Snake on YouTube are viewed by tens of millions viewers world wide. Visitors from South America, Europe and Asia are on the hill every weekend to witness the spectacle in person. Unsurprisingly, the top sweeper known as Edward’s Corner, is probably as famous and recognizable as any street curve in the world.

Local car clubs regularly include The Snake on their weekend cruises. National car clubs run The Snake for their national events. Individuals in everything from tricked out Civics to convertible Bugatti Veyrons run The Snake on a normal weekend. And the vehicles Jay Leno brings are sweet enough to ruin your diet.

Photo by Paul Herold

Rider down; photo by Paul Herold

Motorcyclists from all over the USA ride The Snake too. For some, it is a jumping off point for hundreds of miles of canyon and coastal riding. For many, many others, it is an end destination.  I have seen individual riders pass me over 50 times in the course of a day, up and down, again and again loving every minute. The mix of motorcycles is split between crotch rockets, sport tourers and cruisers.

So…how do you stay safe on your bicycle, amidst the mechanized din? Here are my suggestions.

  • Please ride single file. Don’t force overtaking traffic into oncoming lanes. If you are riding with two friends or twenty please respect the rights of the traffic behind you.
  • Lose the ear buds. It is unlawful and dangerous. Not every motorcycle or car has loud pipes.
  • Ride early….or late. The mechanized madness peaks between 10am and 3pm.
  • Hug the white line. I read many years ago that if you can’t keep your road bike on the line, you shouldn’t be on the street. The white line is your friend. Hug it robustly.
  • Generally, the higher the RPM of the vehicle approaching you, the less skilled the operator. Stay alert.
  • Don’t stop and sightsee in turns. Step over the guardrails if you must, unless a wheelchair sounds like fun.
  • Another rider down; photo by Paul Herold

    Another rider down; photo by Paul Herold

    Imagine an out of control car or bike heading your way from the other side of every blind apex…and pick your line accordingly. If a driver or biker is going to lose control, it will usually be at the exit of a turn.

  • While climbing, courteous riders vacate the apex post haste. There is only one ‘best line through’ any turn. If you don’t need that line, don’t hog it
  • If you didn’t climb it, don’t descend with abandon, because you don’t know what road hazards may await…oil, wet patches, gravel….
  • Ride with a GoPro or dash cam. If you complain to me about a car or motorcycle, I can’t educate/mediate/excoriate unless I know who it was.
  • Prepare your body. Out of shape climbers rock to and fro enough to move themselves around within their lane.
  • Prepare your mind. This is not an abandoned country road. You are going to get ‘buzzed’. You are going to hear a horn or two. And you will certainly hear some throaty exhausts.
  • Prepare your bicycle. The Snake is not where you want to discover a slow leak or frayed cable.
  • I keep water, velo tools, tubes (thank you Ashton Johnson of Franco) and air in my truck at all times. So if you are in need, find me on the hill.
  • This is what you may see coming from behind; photo by Paul Herold

    This is what you may see coming from behind; photo by Paul Herold

    STAY OFF THE YELLOW PAINT! It is slick as bal… er, uh… ice. If you try and corner on the yellow lines, you will go down.

  • Be especially vigilant on the first Sunday of each month. A well attended Valley automobile event gets a lot of motors running, usually between 9am and noon.
  • Be prepared for anything. A group from Helen’s on a break neck descent came around a fast curve only to confront an armada of three radio controlled cars screaming towards them in the wrong lane. Semis, garbage trucks and longboarders are also sighted frequently.
  • Road shoulders at the exit of any turn are not the place for repairs. Cross the road or get well off to the side.
  • The better the weather, the more mechanized company you will have.
  • RIDE SINGLE FILE!

In these past few years, I have taken over I million photos on The Snake. In that time, I am aware of only three incidents in which a cyclist was hospitalized, and know of only five incidents involving motor vehicles vs. cyclists. The catalog of close calls and WTF’s could fill a reservoir, but the safety record still isn’t bad.  I’d guess that despite the frenetic nature of a sunny Sunday prime time on The Snake, you are still safer here than you would be on PCH…or in Kabul. ;).

Major speed differential creates danger among the various road users; photo by Paul Herold

Major speed differential creates danger among the various road users; photo by Paul Herold

And there is no real enmity among the motorcyclist towards the cyclists. The moto riders’ #1 complaint is when cyclist ride two or more wide. Conversely, the number one complaint I hear from cyclists is that they were buzzed by a motorcycle. Seems to me that if fewer cyclist rode in social formation, there would be fewer incidents of ‘buzzing’.

My experiences, observations and suggestions are limited specifically to weekend conditions on The Snake, but may have general applicability to narrow canyons throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. As May approaches, there will be more and more riders heading for the Rock Store climb, as our heroes will be doing in the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. The purpose of this letter has been to give you some perspective about The Snake and offer some suggestions that will keep you and everyone else safe.

Come. Ride. Enjoy. Buy pictures! And remember….You Will Never Ride Alone.

Ride safe,

Paul Herold
RockStorePhotos.com
 

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Next up, Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney Josh Cohen offers a warning about a dangerous stretch of bike lane on westbound Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. And he’s looking for witnesses familiar with that hazard for a case he’s handling representing an injured bike rider.

A serious injury has been reported due to a dangerous condition in the center of the westbound bicycle lane on Colorado Boulevard, between Vincent Avenue and Mount Royal Drive, in Eagle Rock. The condition is a deviation in the center of the lane that runs for several yards parallel to and directly between the lines that delineate the bicycle lane. It consists of an undulating ledge that has formed where the asphalt of the roadway dips into a shallow trench where it meets the concrete that forms the gutter and sidewalk. Cracks also exist between traffic side lane line of the bicycle path and the number two vehicular lane (and bus lane). There is also a bus stop just west of and adjacent to the hazard, which makes navigating this section of roadway even more treacherous. Cyclists riding along this section of lane should use extreme caution and be especially mindful, as following the arrow at Vincent Drive that directly them into the bicycle lane on Colorado forces them into having to choose between avoiding a series of cracks on the left side, the ledge on the right, and possibly a bus that may be merging across their path.

Anyone with first-hand information or experience with this situation is urged to call him at 323/937-7105 or email josh@paulfcohenlaw.com.

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Okay, so it’s not LA. Or even Southern California.

Or the US, for that matter.

But I was forwarded this short video from Vancouver Cycle Chic about a veteran Vancouver politician, the man who loves him and their mutual love for bicycling. And liked it enough to share with you.

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I’ve long considered Streetsblog’s Damien Newton a friend, sometimes collaborator, occasional employer and always, editor of the best transportation website in the city.

On Wednesday, we can add dooring victim to that list.

Damien was riding his bike east on Pico Blvd between Overland and Beverly Glen Blvds — a busy stretch of roadway which inexplicably used to be considered a Class 3 bike route and isn’t anymore, for good reason — when he was dangerously buzzed by passing driver who nearly didn’t.

Riding my bicycle on Pico Blvd. going east between Overland and the really hilly section a driver buzzed so close to me (note: the lane to his left was empty) that I veered right…right into an opening car door that was opened inches in front of me. As I struggled to maintain balance, another car buzzed me and this time I toppled over onto my right side into an empty parking space directly in front of the Beverly Hills Bike Shop.

I probably terrified the woman in the car. To be fair, I doubt she was at fault. I came at her at a funky angle after reacting to the “Jerry Browning.” Frustrated, scared and filling up with adrenaline I took my helmet off and slammed it into the ground as Gunpowder clattered itself on the asphalt and I walked to the sidewalk. A 6’2 guy acting erratically after a high-stress incident probably seemed like something from another planet to this elderly woman who was gripping her steering wheel and staring at me.

Thank goodness he was able to limp away.

It could have been so much worse.

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Broadway make-over; photo by Patrick Pascal

Broadway make-over; photo by Patrick Pascal

Downtown’s Broadway has long lost the luster that made it the heart of pre-war LA. Now it looks like it could once again become the heart of a revitalized Downtown, as the city gives it a pedestrian, if not bike, friendly makeover.

Frequent bike commuter Patrick Pascal shares a photo showing the work has already begun.

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One of yesterday’s links was to the story of a Bermuda Dunes bike rider who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run. Now more information has come out.

And as too often happens, the truth is worse than anything most of us may have imagined.

According to MyDesert.com, 20-year old Liliana Avalos was talking on her cell phone as she drove down Country Club Drive at a high rate of speed, weaving through traffic and passing vehicles in the left turn lanes and right shoulder. She was attempting to pass yet another car on the right when she entered the shoulder and struck the 28-year old victim from behind before speeding off.

And in a sign of just how seriously the courts don’t take traffic crime, she was released within hours on a mere $25,000 bond.

No, really.

And we wonder why so many people don’t take traffic laws seriously.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

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Finally, music videos featuring the LA bike scene are becoming a very crowded sub-genre these days.

The latest is from Nashville-based indie-rock band And the Giraffe, who rigged a camera onto the front of a bike with some strapping tape, and rode around greater LA from PCH to the high desert, capturing a number of recognizable vistas.

The whole thing cost them about $200 to make; I’ve seen far worse for a comma and two or three zeros more. They talked about it with KPCC.

Not a bad song, either.

The Times on Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, Newton on LADOT insurrection, and lots of weekend rides

Just a few quick notes to kick off what promises to be a perfect weekend to ride a bike.

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The LA Times interviews Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, who adroitly points out that everyone breaks the law on our streets — cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.

“Pretty much anyone who uses the road breaks the law on a regular basis. But people excuse their own breaking of the law,” he says…

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

As for weirdos, the paper notes Damien isn’t.

I could have told ‘em that.

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Speaking of Damien, he offers an insightful look at yesterday’s insurrection by LADOT employees.

In case you missed it, a contingent of LADOT employees — estimated at anywhere from 50 to 200 — stormed Wednesday’s city council session to demand the ouster of their boss, Transportation General Manager Jaime De La Vega, saying the rank and file had lost confidence in their leader.

Just one problem.

De La Vega had been brought in by previous Mayor Villaraigosa to shake things up in a department that had previously been dedicated to automotive throughput at the expense of livability. And survivability.

Whether these employees have a legitimate complaint, or are simply demanding a return to the bad old days when they could ignore the needs of anyone not wrapped in a ton or two of glass and steel is anyone’s guess.

And certainly not mine.

Newton examines it in great detail, in a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our streets.

But consider this.

Many of those complaining are long-time LADOT employees, who were with the department during the bad old days.

And the bike plan they point to as a sign that the department has changed is one that was demanded by bike riders, after they rejected the watered-down plan LADOT presented that no one loved. Except perhaps bike hating motorists and the DOT engineers who bent over backwards to accommodate them while tossing cyclists a bone.

Meanwhile, most of the improvements we’ve seen on the streets have come in the last few years, during De La Vega’s tenure.

That’s not to say there aren’t major problems at LADOT.

Just that Mayor Garcetti and the city council should look long and hard before deciding just what the real problem is.

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I confess.

I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up my Events page, as my focus has been elsewhere while I work on a reboot of this site in the coming weeks.

But a couple of upcoming rides demand attention.

First up, Active Streets LA returns to South LA on Saturday with a free mini-CicLAvia of sorts, featuring a bike ride and walk, free family activities, refreshments and a raffle.

The LACBC and Wolfpack Hustle host the first ever Huntington Park Grand Prix single speed bike drag race on Saturday.

For those looking for a reasonably challenging ride, the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles are teaming up with the LACBC to host a ride on Mulholland this Sunday.

CICLE hosts the perfectly alliterative Pomona Pumpkin Patch Pedal this Sunday, offering a much more sedate alternative to riding Mulholland.

And next Sunday, October 27th, you’ve got another chance to Ride Lankershim in support of a proposed bike lane on North Hollywood’s main street. Even though the bike lane is included in the 2010 bike plan approved by city council, it’s been opposed by bike-friendly-in-name-only Councilmember Tom LaBonge up to this point. So it’s up to us to show just how needed, wanted, convenient, traffic calming and life-saving this lane could be.

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One other quick note. The LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee usually meets on the last Tuesday of every month to talk bike politics. However, due to a scheduling conflict, this month’s meeting has been moved to Wednesday, October 30th at 6:45 pm. The meeting will take place on the mezzanine level of LACBC Headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street Downtown, and is open to everyone; you don’t have to be a member to participate.

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Finally, maybe you’ll have better luck loading this page than I’ve had, but you’ve got to respect a $36 million football player who prefers to bike and bus to work. Although I suspect his route is just a tad easier than this one.

And you know there’s something going on when even the Biking Black Grey Hole of Beverly Hills is talking bike share.

Don’t even think about bugging after 5:30 tonight until the Dodgers secure their place in Saturday’s game seven against the Cardinals.

And if they don’t, just don’t bug me, period.

Seriously.

Was the brother of a Gardena bike theft victim murdered by the cops sent to help them?

Maybe those riders in Gardena are lucky they only got ticketed for blocking the lane.

It was suspicious enough when Gardena police blew away the brother of the victim — yes, victim — of a bike theft last month, because they couldn’t be bothered to let him explain that the bike-riding men they’d detained were friends who were helping to look for his brothers bike.

And yes, he said it in English, according to witnesses.

Somehow, the patrons at a nearby restaurant were able to understand Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino clearly. But the cops couldn’t seem to make it out, claiming he was shouting and gesturing before reaching towards his waistband.

So they shot him.

Eight times.

Including twice in the back.

One of those non-bike theft friends was also shot. And yes, also in the back.

Maybe they have a problem with backward shooting trick shot artists down there.

Never mind that the officers shot and killed an unarmed man. Or the recklessness they showed in opening fire just feet from of a crowded Redondo Beach Boulevard restaurant.

At best, it looks like an incredibly bad shoot by a trio of trigger happy cops. At worst, they may have murdered the brother of a petty crime victim

I cannot repeat that enough. They killed someone helping the victim of the crime.

And now those officers are back on the street after being placed on administrative leave.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stay the hell out of Gardena for the foreseeable future.

And whatever you do, don’t report a crime there.

Correction: An earlier draft said police had killed the victim of the bike theft, which had been my understanding. However, this story from the Daily Breeze makes it clear that the man who was killed, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was the brother of the man who had his bike stolen, and was assisting in the search for the stolen bike. Thanks to Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman for the correction.

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Meanwhile, in yet another black mark on the city’s police department — which still hasn’t been able to catch the killer of hit-and-run victim Benjamin Torres — Streetsblog’s Damien Newton writes that you shouldn’t expect justice in the case of the LAPD Sargent whose daughter is charged with killing bike-riding postal worker Jesse Dotson in a hit-and-run.

That’s because Gardena police aren’t even investigating the father, even though she was driving his car, which was later reported stolen. And oddly, discovered just blocks away from their home.

As Damien put it,

He either believes his daughter’s ridiculous story and is one of the worst investigative officers ever, or he is complicit in the scheme to report the car stolen.

Yeah, no point in investigating that.

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Bike racer Emma Pooley says it’s long past time that women bike racers were allowed to compete equally with the men — in fact, they used to just a few decades back, both in the Tour de France and America’s late, great Red Zinger/Coors Classic.

If you agree women belong in a parallel Le Tour — let alone the Amgen Tour of California and the upcoming USA Pro Challenge — sign the petition here.

I did.

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A new bike and pedestrian bridge over the LA River on its way to approval by the LA City Council may make a planned Glendale bridge superfluous. The county breaks ground on a new segment of LA River pathway in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. The Source is enthusiastic about bike trains. Participants in Friday’s Zócalo Public Square/Grand Park forum call for a cease fire between bicyclists and drivers. Tell that to the papers of the Los Angeles News Group, who continue to troll for bike hate, this time questioning if LA commuters will ever bike to work, in a negatively worded poll. A Pasadena bike rider suffers life threatening injuries in a head-on collision with a salmon cyclist. Boyonabike looks at cars and the environment. Ride with the mayor of Montebello next Sunday. Over 500 riders turn out for the first ever Long Beach women’s only Beach Babe Classic. A Santa Clarita cyclist suffers a broken back in a hit-and-run; the driver turned himself in four hours later, apparently at the urging of family members. The San Diego Union-Tribune endorses efforts to promote bicycling in the county. Evidently, you don’t have to be sane to have a drivers license in California, with predictable results.

Scion thinks you’re an obstacle, but they’re really, really sorry about it. Elly Blue says our roads are depreciating, too. Do bike shops just market to white males? Cycle chic is already a thing; you can’t co-opt it by adding “ing,” even if helmets really are becoming more fashionable. Five innovative ways to park a bike. Using a bike as a weapon is no different from using a car as a weapon, except for the results. Famed researcher John Pucher says it’s time for a bike renaissance in Seattle. The Boulder CO sheriff says the road rage brake check that left a leading triathlete seriously injured wasn’t. An aggressive road-raging, horn-blaring, multi-car passing Colorado driver films his own apoplectic outrage at a group of bicyclists. Turns out you can’t use your car as a weapon to run down a bike riding, cigarette-stealing Wisconsin thief, after all. Even a protected bike lane isn’t enough to protect a Chicago bike rider. Michigan police arrest a 12-year old bike riding bank robber. Thanks to our veto-wielding governor, California can’t even get a three-foot passing law; a Maine writer says three-feet isn’t enough. Lesson #1: Try not to share the same stretch of asphalt as your boyfriend’s crazed, motor-maniacal ex. Upstate New York triathlete killed when he rides into the back of a parked car; another is seriously injured while exchanging water bottles. A pair of bike-riding Pennsylvania teenagers rescue a kidnapped five-year old girl; thanks to D.D. Syrdal for the heads-up. The next broken down bike rider you see could be Dave Matthews on his way to his own show, and you could get front row tickets if you stop. Seriously, no matter how pissed off you are about the 70-something driver who nearly hit you, don’t try to punch him out. A nice piece from Bike Delaware explains why you may be invisible to some drivers.

A British pub owner is really, really sorry he threatened to run down “weak-kneed” cyclists at 60 mph. Half of all Brits admit to road rage; maybe that’s why someone is pushing people off bikes in Leicester. With a week left, the Tour de France may already be over, as Froome looks unbeatable. Cadel Evans tweets advice on how to watch a bike race safely. A year after she quit racing, American Mara Abbott is a two-time winner of Italy’s prestigious Giro Rosa. Lexus rolls out a one million-yen limited edition bike; yawn.

Finally, what do you do after leaving City Council? Former Councilmember Ed Reyes rides a bike. And it looks like Westfield Century City will soon open LA’s first bike station; more on that later.

Westfield Bike Station

Stephen Box, his campaign, and our game changer

Today, Damien Newton, editor of L.A. Streetsblog — by far, the city’s most influential source for transportation news — steps in with a guest commentary, as I continue packing in anticipation of my first move in 17 years.

Damien tackles the topic of Stephen Box and his campaign to unseat Tom LaBonge as councilmember for L.A.’s 4th Council District. However, he stresses that this piece reflects his personal opinion, and doesn’t reflect the position of Streetsblog or any other organization.

.………

Photo by Alex Thompson

Usually a City Council election is about the incumbent, and whether or not he deserves to be returned to City Hall.  However, for any cyclist who follows politics in Los Angeles knows, there is one election on the docket for 2011 that is different: Stephen Box’s challenge of incumbent Tom LaBonge in the 4th Council District.

The election of Stephen Box to the City Council would be a watershed moment for cyclists.  No offense meant to Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes, Bill Rosendahl or even LaBonge himself, but Box has had a laser-like focus on improving safety for cyclists in the city and beyond.

But it’s not just that Stephen understands what’s important to cyclists, he also has an understanding of City Hall and the levers of power that means his ideas can become reality.

The cyclists/LAPD task force was a direct result of Stephen’s advocacy with the police department over the years.  Heck, watch Stephen interact with the police before a Critical Mass ride, and you can forget who is the authority figure and who’s the advocate as police officers happily mug for the camera with Box and his wife, Enci.

Or, just read the newest edition of the Bike Plan and run a search for the word “Backbone.”  Stephen was the leader of the citizen’s group that created the Backbone Bikeway Network after a series of public meetings in 2009.  While a lot of people worked hard to get the Bike Plan changed from the wretched first draft that was dropped in 2009 to what we see today; Box’s imprint, and that of the entire Bike Working Group, is all over the most recent proposal.

Sometimes being a leader means doing something you aren’t particularly thrilled about.  Saddled with a newborn and trying to find the funds to keep Streetsblog going, I had to sit out much of the end of the debate on how Los Angeles will spend its local return funds from Measure R.  The idea of a bike/ped set-aside had originated at the back of the Metro Board Room between myself and LACBC’s Dorothy Le in the summer of 2008, and Box had tried to talk us out of it.

He argued that trying to get a small piece of the pie for bike/ped facilities was the wrong strategy.  Instead we should be pushing for every road project to have a bicycle and pedestrian component.  A fair point.  At the time, I used a football analogy that we were trying to move the ball, but he was going for the touchdown.  A group of people that all wanted the same thing, better designed roads and streets, but had different ideas and plans how to do that.

The point, Stephen wasn’t a fan of the set-aside strategy.  Fast forward to this year.  Both Rosendahl and Mayor Villaraigosa are pushing for 10% of the city’s local return funds to be set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects.  The LADOT was agreeing, but was using a budget trick that would have stripped out nearly $20 million of the $60 million that would have been dedicated to cyclists and walkers.

Photo by Enci Box

I read the LADOT’s reports and I missed it.  So did the staff for Council Members Rosendahl, Parks, Alarcon, Koretz and LaBonge.  They missed it.  So did the Bike Coalition (who have been champs on this issue, make no mistake.)  Stephen didn’t.  He called the LADOT out for it during a Transportation Committee Hearing.  Rosendahl directed them to fix the “error.”  And they did.

And remember, he didn’t even like the idea of a “set aside.”

Let’s also remember that he’s not paid for any of this.  In fact, he’s often paying his own money for materials or even a trip to Sacramento.  He doesn’t always win, after all he’s been the poster boy for the fight against raising speed limits on local streets, but it’s not for a lack of effort.

After convincing then Assemblyman Paul Krekorian to introduce legislation that would have pushed back against limit increases that were popping up throughout the valley, Stephen and Enci took a trip to Sacramento, on their own dime, to lobby for the legislation.  It didn’t pass, but if Los Angeles had put the muscle into lobbying for it that Stephen and Enci did, it would have had a much better shot.

Supporters of LaBonge could point to his history of advocacy for issues such as better bicycle facilities on 4th Street, his voting record at the Council, or the annual Tour LaBonge summer bike series.  Others could argue that LaBonge’s record, which includes obstructing the Bicyclists’ Bill of Rights and originally supporting a plan for the Griffith Park Observatory that didn’t include bike parking.  But the reality is that LaBonge’s record shouldn’t matter when discussing this race.  When it comes to bike issues, Box is a once in a generation chance to get a real champion in City Hall.

Conversely, a lot of people have problems with Stephen’s combative style.  Other advocates have complained to me about it and I’ve known some city staff that just can’t stand him.  More than once I’ve been on the other end of some of his pointed criticism, but it’s because he’s always focused on the results.  And for a one-man army armed with only his brain and a social media-network, the results are impressive.

And I would argue that neither Box’s personality nor LaBonge’s record are the issue.  Whether cyclists as a group can embrace this candidacy and push it over the top is.

And while there are plenty of reasons to support his campaign, as cyclists, we honestly shouldn’t need to look beyond our spokes.  Box will be a great Council Man for Neighborhood Councils, for government transparency, for neighborhood empowerment and for always focusing on results, not intentions.

There’s a reason Box won Streetsblog’s “2009 Livable Streets Person of the Year” award and that Alex Thompson bluntly refers to him as “literally the single most important bike activist in Los Angeles ever.”  His record of advocacy is second to none.

He’s also our game changer.  There’s only one Stephen Box, and we may only have one chance to get him in City Hall.

.………

In a bizarre case that just doesn’t seem to add up, the L.A. Times says questions remain in the shooting death of Beverly Hills publicist Ronni Chasen. According to Beverly Hills police, Chasen was shot in a botched robbery attempt by a bike riding ex-con — despite the tight grouping of shots, which would have been difficult to achieve from the saddle of a bike. Let alone the lack of bullet casings at the scene or the fact that nothing appears to have been taken. And evidently, according to the police theory, leaving the bike he was reportedly devoted to at the scene.

As a writer for the Huffington Post put it —

How many robbers in America ride a bicycle seven miles to commit a robbery, approach from the passenger side of a single occupant vehicle, shoot with deadly accuracy, center mass, through the passenger window and then leave after taking nothing? Then, potentially leave their bicycle in the area and walk seven miles home? Take the bus? Hitchhike? More than that what about all the firefighters, ambulance, and police that rolled out no one saw him, interviewed him or anything?

So he kills her but doesn’t have time to grab her purse or anything of value from the scene? That really does stretch the notion of “botched robbery.” Not impossible, but very “weird” nonetheless.

Personally, I suspect Joe Anthony, aka @ohaijoe offered a more credible theory when he suggested that it could have been road rage.

At least that theory makes a little sense.

.………

Transit advocates and cyclists are outraged as the Metro Board discards the recommendations of their own staff and LADOT to exempt the multi-million dollar condos along Wilshire Blvd in the Westwood area from the planned Bus Rapid Transit, or bus-only, lanes.

The lanes would run on either side of Wilshire Blvd; impact on traffic would be manageable, while encouraging alternative transportation and moving more people more efficiently.

Yet somehow, the entire board voted unanimously against the recommendations of the people paid to know what the hell they’re talking about — as well as a room full of people arguing passionately in favor of the extending the BRT the entire length of Wilshire. The attitude of the board seemed to be summed up by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who responded to the comments with “I respect people’s right to pontificate, but the rest of us have a responsibility to make sure things work.”

Yes, he actually said that.

And yes, the rest of the board voted with him to support the desires of the very wealthy few over the needs of everyone else in the room, exempting an approximately 1-mile stretch from Selby to Comstock.

Personally, I intend to remember that quote the next time Zev asks for my vote.

Pontificate, my ass.

.………

Finally, Chris K, wrench-meister and author of (just) Riding Along, offers up a guest post on Pedalr that they call their best blog post yet. And Long Beach may drop their heavy-handed bike licensing requirement.

See you tonight at Eco-Village for the Streetsblog fundraiser

Image stolen from LA Streetsblog; artwork by Joe Linton with Colleen Corcoran.

Friday night L.A.’s leading transportation blogger, Damien Newton, will host the first ever Streetsblog fundraiser at Eco-Village.

Rather than try to tell the story myself, I’ll let Damien fill you in.

The beer is chilled and sitting in the (gasp) car.  The sponsors are lined up for the raffle.  Heck, there’s even rumors that we’re going to have a band for part of the evening.  Tomorrow night from 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. is the first Streetsblog fundraiser at the Eco Village, 117 Bimini Place.  Anyone not familiar with the Eco-Village should click on this link for directions, and note that it’s a couple of blocks away from the Beverly/Vermont Red Line Station.  The suggested donation is $25, but feel free to give whatever fits in your budget.

A lot of people have helped make this event happen.  A pretty awesome sounding buffet is being put together by a pair of caterers, Dawn Carey Newton and Deborah Murphy, with an Eco-Salad and some home cookin’ from my house as well.  We’ll have beer from our best friends at New Belgium Brewing and a non-alcoholic drinks courtesy of Trader Joe’s.  In addition to some good drinks, we’ll have a presentation including the handing out of four Streetsie Awards to Biking In L.A., the Eco-Village, City of Lights and the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, the debuting of the first L.A. Streetfilm that was written and produced right here in L.A., and a raffle with prizes sponsored by the Eco Home, Eco-Village and Orange 20 Bikes.

So if you’re looking for me tonight, I’ll be the one with the Streetsie Award in one hand, and a Fat Tire in the other.

And congratulations to the Eco-Village, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the amazing City of Lights Program.

………

Evidently, the driver in the Ed Magos case will be charged after all. L.A. could have had the Backbone Bikeway Network in place years ago; Bikeside LA discovers a 1977 L.A. bike plan that shows a virtually identical system. Some of L.A.’s leading bike and pedestrian advocates call for a moratorium on street widening and peak hour lanes. The hit-and-run case that left local biking leader Roadblock laying injured in the street moves to trial next week. Damien Newton looks at why only one local city made Bicycling’s list of bike-friendly cities; you only have to ride the streets to figure that out. What does bicycle culture really mean? Long Beach’s biking expats offer some classic bike touring videos. The proposed ban on texting while cycling will carry a lower fine than texting behind the wheel. A Florida man is injured after being chased by dogs; if it happens to you, try ordering it to “sit” or “go home,” since most dogs will respond to a firm command. A Boston cyclist gets blamed for being in a cab driver’s blind spot; yeah, it’s not the driver’s place to check that or anything. Follow step-by-step as a Boston blogger uncovers the details of what may be a fatal cycling collision; you may not want to see the photos. The “nicest man you’d ever want to meet” is killed by a Denver-area bus in what sounds like a classic left cross collision. Best advice I’ve seen on what to do if you’re involved in a serious collision. A Florida cyclist plans to fight the ticket after a cop tells her to get on the sidewalk — despite signs saying Bikes May Use Full Lane, and in an area where riding on the sidewalk is illegal. Good advice for beginning cyclists — or any cyclists, for that matter. Mathew Modine carries his bike through a NY fashion show; I just want to know what’s in the bottle. Ottawa Councillors are encouraged to get on a bike and see how bad the bike lanes really are. Evidently, we’re not the only ones trying to get cyclists to vote. Britain’s Conservative Party leader gets blame — and praise — for riding without a helmet; I’d be happy to see any U.S. conservative on a bike, helmet or not. Yet another Euro pro team comes under suspicion for doping. The family of the British cyclist killed by a hit-and-run driver is reportedly devastated that she avoided jail because of pregnancy. Three cyclists were killed in Spain when a van plows into a group of 60 riders.

Finally, Reno Rambler reveals the secret behind the incredible lung capacity all champion bike racers possess.

Move along folks; nothing to see here

Not that I don’t have some things to say.

But this one time, I’ll be saying them on L.A.’s Streetsblog — the city’s best source for local and national transportation news, offering a unique perspective from the streets up.

I’m joining a long list of local activists, writers and bloggers — including Joe Linton, Stephen and Enci Box, Angela Serratore and Dan Koeppel — who’ve sacrificed a day or more of their time filling in for Damien Newton so he can spend some quality time with his newborn baby, wife and various assorted relatives. And there’s still more to come.

So today is my day.

Click on the link, and you’ll find coverage of last week’s panel discussion on bikes and livability with former Talking Head David Byrne, along with today’s headlines, and reports from around the Streetsblog network. And later in the day, you’ll find my wrap-up of last night’s meeting of the L.A. Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a rant about the lack of public involvement.

You’ll also find a photo of yours truly.

I’m the one on the left.

For once, I shut up and let someone else talk

Ever since last Friday’s Transportation Committee meeting, I’ve been filtering my own thoughts in preparation of discussing the subject today.

But then Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles added a comment to my initial post on the subject. And since not everyone clicks the link to read the comments, I thought for once, I’d just shut up and let someone else do the talking.

So take it away, Damien:

It was pretty awesome to see us pack a board room like that…a hundred cyclists, ready to take part in the process…Unfortunately, we’ll still see a lot of setbacks before we get the kind of changes we want to see, and I hope the enthusiasm stays high.

In the meantime, I wrote up a draft letter on bike licensing that people should feel free to use if they want to get City Council to take up this issue. Rosendahl, LaBonge and Parks all seemed ready to go…

councilmember.greuel@lacity.org, councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org, councilmember.parks@lacity.org, councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org, Councilmember.labonge@lacity.org,


Dear Member of the City Council XXX,

As a committed cyclist, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for respect and concern you showed at last Friday’s committee hearing on bicycling, bicycling infrastructure, and bicyclists rights. During the sometimes heated hearing, you continued to listen to our concerns and questions.

While it is not going to be easy to recreate Los Angeles as a cycling haven, there is one thing that can be done quickly and that is placing a moratorium on the bicycle licensing program. Whether a mandatory program is necessary is a conversation that can’t occur until cyclists are not being harassed for not having a sticker license that is difficult to obtain and not being distributed by the LAPD as they are required to.

Unfortunately, as you saw on Friday, the LAPD doesn’t seem interested in suspending their uneven enforcement of bike licensing even after being confronted on the program several times by Council Members LaBonge, Parks and Rosendahl at last week’s hearing. To that end, we are asking that you not let go of this issue and that you quickly introduce a motion to suspend the program. We understand that Councilman Rosendahl will not be at tomorrow’s hearing, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take action.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you in the future on other bike-related issues.

Sincerely,

X

Just copy, paste and send. Or if you prefer, use Damien’s email as a template, and put it in your own words. But as one who has been an active rabble-rouser over the years, I can tell you that letters and emails like this really do make a difference.

I’ll be back with my own thoughts soon. In the meantime, you can read a recap of the meeting from Stephen Box of the Bike Writer’s Collective — creators of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights (and a big thanks to all of you for your efforts). Or you can listen to Enci’s recording of the meeting here. 

Note: I’m waiving copyright for this post, in case anyone wants to repost Damien’s letter — and I’m sure it would be okay with him, as well. Right, Damien?

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