Tag Archive for dangerous drivers

Morning Links: Bike lanes get blame in West Hills, East Side Riders profiled, and Bev Hills goes auto autonomous

Somehow bikes always seem to get the blame.

Even when they’re nowhere around.

In yet another horrible sacrifice to LA’s car culture, a woman and her adult daughter were killed, along with their dog, while attempting to cross Roscoe Blvd in West Hills Monday night.

Yet instead of blaming the dangerous drivers who residents say speed through the intersection, the Daily News points the finger at a recent road diet, saying westbound Roscoe was narrowed to provide a buffer for cyclists.

Except it wasn’t.

That road diet, like every other road diet, was done to slow those speeding drivers and improve safety for everyone. Bike lanes are just a tool to accomplish that; providing a buffer for people on bikes is just an added benefit.

Which means the problem isn’t the bike lanes.

It’s the culture that says it’s okay to drive 10 miles, or 20, or even 30, above the 40 mph speed limit, then cut over at the last second when the roadway narrows.

Police say the driver wasn’t intoxicated, and wasn’t talking on his cell phone. So the question is how fast was he going, why didn’t he see the two women and their Labrador retriever in a zebra crosswalk, and why he couldn’t stop in time.

And why in God’s name is a 40 mph speed limit allowed in a residential neighborhood to begin with.

There may be a lot of factors that led up to this tragedy.

But bike lanes isn’t one of them.

Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the heads-up.

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Bicycling Magazine offers a great interview with John Jones III, founder of the East Side Riders bike club, who is using bikes to change Watts for the better.

We have this thing we implemented with the police, the sheriff’s office, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, called Life Lanes. Basically, it means gang members know not to bother folks on bikes around Watts. We went out and talked to gang members and told them, “You’re gonna see people who don’t look like us riding through here, people from different ethnic groups—don’t mess with them.” And we told law enforcement, “You’re gonna see people from outside the community riding through here—protect them.” And everybody listened! …

Now we ride through some of the projects, and folks don’t bother us. Some of the people in our club are in gangs, but when we’re on bikes, they get a pass from other gangs because they know we’re doing something good for the community.

Nice to see one of LA’s unsung bike heroes get the attention he deserves.

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Beverly Hills, which fought the Purple Line subway extension tooth-and-nail, is now planning an autonomous vehicle program to solve the first mile/last mile problem with a fleet of self-driving cars once it opens in 2026.

Never mind that they could solve a lot of that by just putting bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd.

Thanks to John Dammon for the link.

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Cannondale pro cycling team leader Jonathan Vaughters discusses the future of pro cycling in the US.

CNN offers an extensive profile of Lance Armstrong and the movie The Program, calling him a tragic hero.

And see the grueling Paris-Roubaix from the cyclists’ perspective.

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Local

Streetsblog says Metro bikeshare really is coming to DTLA. Meanwhile, West Hollywood wants to know where you’d put stations for their coming system.

Downtown News looks at plans for protected bike lanes on Spring and Main in Downtown LA.

Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell is one of us, as she tweets about how she loves riding her bike along the beach.

St. Vincent Meals on Wheels is hosting their 21st annual Walk/Bike-A-Thon on Sunday the 24th, including a 10 mile ride along the beach to raise funds for Meals for Wheels. Maybe you’ll see Shay Mitchell there. Or maybe not.

 

State

Concern for equity reaches the state level, as bills in the state legislature would shift priority for transportation funding to disadvantaged communities to ensure everyone has access to safe walking, biking and transit infrastructure.

Streetsblog looks at how the San Diego Association of Governments falsely sold a package of highway expansions under the promise of improving the environment, while kicking bike and walking projects down the road.

The Voice of San Diego says a recent road diet on the Coast Highway in Oceanside marks the end of the road for the car-only highway. We can only hope.

A gofundme account has been established for a Bakersfield 6th grader who was seriously injured in a collision while riding to school on Monday.

Classic bicycle fans from 29 countries took part in last weekend’s three-day Eroica California bike fest in Paso Robles.

San Francisco Streetsblog asks if new paint and phased traffic signals are enough to keep bike riders safe on a dangerous intersection.

A Bay Area website recommends five stunning destinations you can ride to from San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is looking for a part-time graphic designer.

 

National

The Atlantic says the absurd primacy of the automobile in American life is insane.

A new study from the University of Duh discovers drunk bike riders are more likely to be injured than sober ones. No, really, they needed a study to figure that out.

The next time you head to Ikea for a bookshelf, you can pick up a unisex, belt-drive bicycle, too. No word on whether you have to assemble it yourself.

Seattle’s Transit Blog tells drivers to relax about cyclists blowing through red lights.

Robin Leach, of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fame, calls gambler Dan Bilzerian’s successful $1.2 million bet a “dangerous and nearly impossible ride” through the brutal Mojave desert. Even though countless other cyclists have done it for free.

A Chicago couple quit their jobs to travel 4,000 miles across the US on just $6,000.

Charleston cyclists call for a trial bike and pedestrian lane over a bridge to be made permanent since it’s the only safe and, so far, legal route over the river; the local paper says so far, so good.

Louisiana considers a vulnerable user law with real teeth, establishing a $2,000 fine and three months in jail for injuring a bicyclist, pedestrian or motorcyclist, and up to $5,000 and five years in prison for killing someone who isn’t in a motor vehicle.

 

International

The Times recommends a three-day mountain bike, llama and rafting tour of Peru’s Sacred Valley.

Modacity’s Chris Bruntlett writes in praise of the upright bike.

A Toronto bike blog imagines how treating traffic collisions like we do aircraft or marine disasters, where human life has absolute priority, would change our driving culture. Thanks to Chuck Castillo for the tip.

A British opposition MP says there’s a real gap between the government’s words and their actual support for cycling.

A Brit woman says she was just driving alone minding her own business, giving a man walking his bike plenty of passing room, when he just randomly picked up his bike and threw it at her car for no apparent reason. Sure, that seems credible. Let’s go with that.

Now that’s refreshing. After a London cellist hits a woman riding her bike while on his way to rehearsal — in front of an Aussie actor and recording star, no less — he takes full responsibility and tells other drivers to slow down.

Once again, someone has sabotaged a bike trail in the UK, this time stringing fishing line at neck level on a pathway popular with children.

A Brit bike rider says today’s focus on sportives, carbon frames and Rapha kits is sucking the life out of cycling.

All the world is a bikeway, and all the men and women merely cyclists marking the 400th anniversary of the Bards’ death.

A Malaysian writer says it’s hard to grow cycling in the country if there aren’t any races and little or no support at the club level.

An Aussie driver says the equivalent of a three-foot passing law wouldn’t be necessary if they weren’t such a bunch of Neanderthals behind the wheel. Maybe they should pass a law protecting cyclists from kangaroos, too.

A Chinese man is under arrest for allegedly riding his bike up to a car, taking his clothes off, and lying under it to pretend he’d been hit by the driver and demanding compensation. But can someone please tell me what being naked has to do with it?

The 82-year old founder of the world’s biggest bicycle maker is now the poster boy for Taiwanese bicycling; oddly, he didn’t take up bicycling himself until he was 73.

 

Finally…

Yes, you can draw a bike from memory, but you probably can’t ride it. If you’re going to ride off with an $11,400 bike from a bike shop, make sure it has pedals on it first.

And you’re not a bike rider, you’re a member of the Federali terrorist group.

 

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

Unfortunately, not every ride is a happy one.

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

With a surprise ending that left her livid.

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

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

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

DSCN3354

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

 

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

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

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

 

Weekend Links: Scary head-on GMR driver, bikes for the zombie apocalypse, and a beer keg messenger bag

Halloween is just a week away. So let’s start with something scary.

Like an SUV driver coming around a blind curve on the wrong side of the road on Glendora Mountain Road after an ill-advised pass, courtesy of Ron.

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Washington Bikes spells out what I’ve been saying for years, with 13 reasons why you’re going to need a bike when the zombie apocalypse starts.

You can practice for the days of flesh-eating doom with Walk Bike Glendale’s 4th Annual Zombie Walk tonight.

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Forget a messenger bag. What you really need is this Timbuk2 keg-carrying backpack.

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Local

DTLA’s new and still unnamed bikeshare system needs a General Manager. Why shouldn’t it be you?

Frogtown’s Spoke Bicycle Café wants your help to expand into a full-fledged restaurant, microbrewery and coffee roaster along the LA River bike path; they’re trying to raise $25,000 via Indiegogo

Talk about not getting it. A Santa Monica coffee shop owner strikes gold by having a Breeze bikeshare station placed directly in front of her business, and freaks out over the loss of one or two parking spaces. If people aren’t using the bike racks next to her business, despite the city’s boom in bicycling, that should tell her something. But probably won’t. Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Santa Monica moves towards its own Vision Zero plan.

The Ride 2 Recovery will be wheeling into SaMo today if you want to help welcome the wounded vets at the end of their week-long ride down the coast.

Say goodbye to the iconic Sixth Street Viaduct today from 2 to 10 pm, with free bike valet courtesy of the LACBC.

Don’t forget the Grand Opening of the San Gabriel Valley Bicycle Education Center, complete with costume bike train, on Sunday.

 

State

There may still be time to get to Santa Barbara for its third annual Open Streets event today, offering two miles of beachfront boulevard free from cars.

An Oakland bike rider gets a $2.5 million settlement after she was hit by a left-turning bus just after escaping from another one.

 

National

Can a little green paint improve the lowly and much maligned sharrow? Probably not.

A website on governing looks at the Complete Streets movement spreading across the country.

A Spokane city councilman claims it costs $63,500 to paint one mile of bike lanes; he’s right, as long as you include all engineering costs and expenses to repaint the entire roadway after repaving. In other words, it’s impossible to break out the relatively minor cost of bike lanes from roadwork that would have been done anyway.

A member of the Denver Broncos is raffling an autographed, custom Broncos Trek to help make Colorado children better readers.

Nice. A 98-year old Wisconsin man gets one last bike ride on a three-wheeled rickshaw.

This is the cost of traffic violence. A Boston researcher killed while riding her bike this past August was part of a team that just announced a major breakthrough in using stem cells to grow a new thyroid.

Boston bike advocates are ambivalent about the possibility of an Idaho stop law.

Streetfilms looks at DC’s protected bike lanes, while African American churches in DC are joining in a fight to preserve 75 street parking spaces used primarily on Sunday. Instead of bike lanes that would be used every day, and could help fight obesity in the community.

A League Cycling Instructor in Virginia — not a Licensed Cycling Instructor, thank you — says forget better lights, electronic turns signals and bike lanes, just learn how to ride more safely.

A New Orleans man is under arrest for intentionally running down a bike rider he suspected of trying to break into his car.

 

International

Let’s face it. Pro cyclists are just flat out better riders than the rest of us.

A group of international scientists will run and bike to Paris from both poles to demand action on climate change; although people coming from the South Pole have a hell of a lot further to go.

Even drivers are more comfortable on streets with protected bike lanes, as a Toronto survey shows.

Caught on video: This one is tough to watch, as a UK cyclist shares a first-person helmet cam view of his epileptic fit while riding a mountain bike.

Despite the headline, a British lawyer’s comments about Chinese President Xi Jinping had absolutely nothing to do with his two-wheeled mode of transportation.

A 19-year old Brit career criminal stole a car, blocked the path of a bike rider, then get out and attacked him before intentionally ramming two taxis as he made his getaway; he got three years for his efforts.

Perth, Australia is about to get its first bike boulevards. Although for some reason, the rendering still shows cars tailgating the bikes.

Life is cheap in Singapore, as a speeding taxi driver gets a whopping two weeks behind bars for killing a slow-speed salmon cyclist; at least he’s banned from driving for the next three years.

 

Finally…

Maybe the answer is bike therapy, or it could be better riding through hypnosis. You don’t have to understand Spanish — or maybe Portuguese, despite what the story says — to enjoy seeing bike thieves get punked; thanks  to Brian Dotson for today’s language lesson.

And now you too can buy your very own ice bike from Hammacher Schlemmer for just $2,500, plus shipping and handling.

 

Weekend Links: Blinded by the light, get out of jail free; your final updates on Sunday’s Heart of LA CicLAvia

Once again, blinded by the sun absolves a motorist of any responsibility to drive safely.

Authorities have ruled that the 74-year old driver who killed San Diego bike tourist and cycling instructor Kerry Kunsman won’t face charges in the death after concluding he was momentarily blinded by the sun when rounding a corner.

Which just happened to be the corner where Kunsman was riding.

Bizarrely, he was ticketed for careless driving on the assumption that his familiarity with the roadway and its popularity with cyclists meant he should have been more careful.

He was also ticketed for driving on a suspended license. There is something seriously wrong when a driver can kill someone without any real consequences despite having no legal right to be behind the wheel.

The story also notes that Kunsman was riding near the shoulder when he was hit.

Unfortunately, while most experts would recommend riding further into the traffic lane to increase visibility, there’s no way of knowing if driver would have seen him either way under the circumstances.

Thanks to Serge Issakov for the link.

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The LA Times celebrates CicLAvia by looking at the state of bicycling in Los Angeles. This is the 10th CicLAvia since the first one rolled on 10-10-10; and only the second one I will miss.

Streetsblog offers advice on how to gentrify 1st Street for a day, as well as 25 things to see along the CicLAvia route. They also provide tips on how to keep your cool in the oppressive heat; here’s my advice.

And drink lots of water.

The LA Post-Examiner takes a quick look at highlights of the route. And as always, the Militant Angeleno checks in with the definitive epic guide, and promises they’re all legit after punking us with his April Fools guide for the last one.

Meanwhile, the Daily News says Downtown traffic will be a living hell for motorists this weekend. But bike riders and pedestrians will rule the roads on Sunday.

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Local

KPCC interviews former New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan about what LA can learn from New York; first lesson is have a great DOT leader. Which it sounds like we finally have.

The candidates for next year’s CD4 council race talk traffic and bicycling.

A new stretch of bike path is unveiled in Pacoima.

A Monday meeting will discuss the bike-friendly replacement for the Sixth Street Viaduct.

A Glendale letter writer correctly points out that bike riders pay more than our fair share for the roads, despite what the anti-bike crowd insists.

 

State

An Indio father and daughter finish their ride from the desert city to New York.

Caught on video: A Santa Rosa City Councilman is caught swearing at a bus driver after a scary close pass; thanks to murphstahoe for the heads-up.

Sacramento will soon get bicycling paramedics.

Folsom unveils a new ped and bike bridge as part of the perfectly named Johnny Cash Trail; from which one could reasonably expect to hear a train a’ coming round the bend.

A 19-year old Milpitas driver is under arrest for leaving her bike riding victim to die in the street.

 

National

A conservative website says bicycling fatalities and falls far exceed deaths from mass shootings, thus missing the point entirely.

A Denver rider urges motorists to drive carefully around cyclists.

That Missouri mayor who intentionally ran a cyclist off the road faces a well deserved charge for felony assault.

Providence RI will convert a freeway causeway into a car-free bridge.

As for that NYPD bike crackdown to improve safety for cyclists, data says not so much. Meanwhile, injuries to pedestrians caused by collisions with cyclists are going down, despite the increase in ridership.

A county official in New York state was drunk when he hit a cyclist and fled the scene; fortunately, the victim was not seriously injured.

 

International

Thirty-one things you always wanted to know about bicycling but were afraid to ask.

Caught on video: A teenage UK cyclist gets nine weeks for walking his bike through a train tunnel at rush hour.

A Brit driver seems to think 10 years for killing two cyclists while driving drunk at over twice the legal limit is a tad harsh; I’m sure most bike riders would agree he got off easy.

Major road raging jerk frightens a six-year old French girl off her bike, then attacks her father — as well as the police who show up to break it up.

A Kiwi truck driver is a two-time loser after taking the life of a second bike rider in less than 10 years.

 

Finally…

Now that’s just too scary, as a Santa Cruz driver in clown makeup intentionally runs down a cyclist in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Here’s proof that a bike doesn’t always make the best getaway car.

And comic book hero Dr. Manhattan steals a bike from an Orlando Wal-Mart; okay, maybe not the real Dr. Manhattan.

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Best wishes for a good Yom Kippur and an easy fast.

My advice is to wear spectator shoes today; why just atone when you can two-tone?

Morning Links: The battle over Santa Paula cop’s anti-bike video is over, but we may have lost the war

And then it was over.

Less than 36 hours after the flap over a bike hating Santa Paula reserve police officer blew up online and in her face, she found herself unemployed by the department.

Apparently her own choice, much to the displeasure of countless riders who were out for blood. And not in a mood for ritual career hari-kari.

I first became aware of the video in question when Bike Snob tweeted about it on Saturday morning.

Meet Laura Weintraub, horrible person, incompetent videographer, and utter moron: 

Like countless others, I watched in varying degrees of horror and outrage as she laughingly expressed her hatred of bikes, bicyclists and spandex, as well as her desire to run us all off or into the road.

After tweeting about it a few times myself, I made plans to express my own outrage on here. Only to discover the video had been taken down before I could get to it, leaving nothing to link to and no copy to repost.

Meanwhile, the proverbial defecation had hit the fan.

It didn’t take long for someone to discover that she worked as reserve officer for the Santa Paula PD, compounding the outrage that a uniformed cop would express such offensive thoughts in a cheap and badly failed attempt at humor.

Although cop is stretching it; someone sent me a link to a page showing Weintraub had made less than $100 working for the department in recent weeks.

Countless riders — and others who simply didn’t like the idea of killing or maiming innocent people for giggles — inundated Weintraub’s Facebook page, as well as the SPPD, with calls, emails and online comments.

She responded by removing the offensive video without comment, followed by what seemed like a sincere apology. Or at least, a damn good job of faking one.

I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists. It was never meant to be hurtful or harmful in anyway, I am a human being, I made a mistake, I have learned from this and ask for your forgiveness. The responses have shown me overwhelmingly just how hurtful my comments were to some and that is not at all what I intended. As soon as I knew, I removed the video immediately.

The response from the cycling community has made me aware of the sport and its safety issues and challenges with drivers on the road of which I was completely unaware. My heartfelt apologies to those that have been offended and to those who face these very real challenges.

Then again, you’d think any reasonably sentient being would get that calling for violence against anyone for the simple crime of riding a bike would likely be taken the wrong — or in this case, the right — way.

For some inexplicable reason, though, many drivers don’t seem the grasp the fact that people don’t just bounce back after being knocked down; what would be a simple fender bender if they hit another car could be catastrophic if they collided with a cyclist or pedestrian.

Although you’d certainly think a cop — even a lowly reserve officer — would grasp the damage motor vehicles can do in the wrong hands.

At the same time, we can only imagine Chief Steven McLean’s reaction, as whatever community relations he had managed to build up in his year on the job were seemingly undone in a single afternoon by someone who barely worked for him.

Once his head undoubtedly finished exploding, the long-time veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department responded by suspending Weintraub pending investigation. Along with another reserve officer who snarkily answered the criticism by complimenting her videos and suggesting cyclists need to obey the law.

At that point, the controversy appeared to be over. The video was down, the woman in question appeared to have learned her lesson, and the chief had done the right thing.

And then the media picked up the story, further fanning the justifiable outrage long after the fact, and leading to countless calls for Weintraub’s job, if not her head.

The final shoe dropped Sunday evening when Chief McLean posted on Facebook that he had accepted her resignation effective immediately — whether she volunteered it or he demanded it was left unstated.

So allow me to offer a contrary opinion.

I’m sorry to see her go.

Had she remained on the job — or even in limbo for awhile — we would have had a rare opportunity for a teachable moment.

If she truly got what she did wrong, and listened, as she said, to the many reasons why her attempt at humor wasn’t funny, she might have become more sympathetic to cyclists and a positive influence on her fellow officers. Or at the very least, unlikely to make a similar mistake a second time.

Not that she didn’t deserve to lose her job. But I’ve found that forgiveness is often more effective than vengeance in the long run.

Meanwhile, Santa Paula cyclists would have had a rare opportunity to demand a meeting with the chief and his officers to discuss the rights of riders and explain the risks we face in employing our legal and moral right to the road.

That door is probably closed now.

Chief McLean is likely to conclude that the matter has been concluded now that Weintraub is no longer a part of the department. And given the entirely justifiable vitriol dumped on him and his officers, he’s unlikely to open his door to our representatives anytime soon.

Which is not to say the anger wasn’t justified.

It was.

I was just as livid as anyone else when I viewed the video. However, we need to learn to direct that anger effectively, not just to get a young woman who did something incredibly stupid fired.

But to use it as an opportunity to build better relations with those charged with enforcing our rights. And achieve long-lasting changes that can and will improve safety and courtesy for everyone on the roads.

We won the battle.

But in doing so, we may have shot ourselves in the foot. And cost us an opportunity for dialogue that may not come again.

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about this story; there are simply far too many to thank each of you individually.

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Local

The media seems to be coming down on the other side of Gil Cedillo’s veto of the North Figueroa road diet — a veto that may or may not be legal.

Construction delays are keeping a new section of the LA River Greenway from opening.

The next LACBC Sunday Funday ride rolls through Lakewood on Sunday, August 3rd.

Neon Tommy looks at how bikes empower women.

 

State

New Seal Beach bike paths help close some of the final links in Orange County’s 66 mile OC Loop. Note to Press-Telegram: bike riders can actually ride anywhere they want in Downey, or anywhere else for that matter.

Caltrans will widen bike lanes through Chico to improve a dangerous section of roadway.

 

National

Google Maps now allows you to check elevations on your route, whether you want to seek out hills or avoid them.

Colorado Springs CO cyclists are tired of riding in the killing zone.

If you want to talk with the mayor of Fort Worth, you’d better get on your bike. Meanwhile, neighboring Dallas has a new bike czar.

New Orleans riders rally to demand safer streets.

 

International

A Montreal letter writer says cyclists aren’t a menace on the roads, comparing the one Canadian killed by a bike in 2010 with the 2,227 killed by cars. He’s got a point.

Indian army cyclists ride over 400 miles through the Himalayas, at altitudes up to 19,000 feet in an attempt to set a new record.

Talk about a good cause. A cyclist is planning to spend a full year riding across Ghana to meet 25,000 people and raise funds to provide shelter and healthcare for the county’s homeless street kids.

A young Kiwi rider overcomes diabetes to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

Cyclist deaths expose a culture clash on the congested streets of Sydney, Australia; thanks to New Colonist for the heads-up.

The best way to see Beijing is by bike.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Before you build that bike jump, put a little thought into how you’re going to land. A Dutch pro miraculously avoids death on both Malaysian Airlines disasters.

And a special thanks to Cycling in the Southbay’s Seth Davidson for his very kind words and high praise.

 

What to do when the road rages and bumpers bite — part 1

I’m going to do something today I usually try very hard not to do.

Repeat myself.

But lately, I’ve heard and seen a lot of reports about conflicts between bike riders and road raging drivers, and sometimes, riders taking out their frustrations on motorists, deserving or not. 

A few years back, I offered my own advice on the subject, as well as advice on what to do if you’re the victim of a collision, based strictly on my own personal experience. 

The advice still stands. But unless you’ve been following this site from the beginning, chances are, you may not have seen it before. 

And even if you have, a refresher might be in order to help keep you safe on the roads, and protect your interests if the worst ever happens.

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“Boy, boy, crazy boy, get cool boy! Got a rocket in your pocket, keep coolly cool boy!”

— Cool, from West Side Story

On a good day, nothing beats a good ride.

Days when the sun is shining and traffic effortlessly parts to let you glide by. And you find yourself offering a nod and a wave to express your gratitude for the courtesy of others on the road.

And there are the other days.

Days when traffic snarls and tempers flare. When horns become curses and cars are brandished like threats.

In most cases, that’s as far as it goes.

But when steel and glass impact flesh and bone — intentionally or otherwise — how you respond in the first few minutes before and after can go a long way in determining whether you finish your ride. Or whether you have a case.

I was the victim of a road rage attack a few years back, and in retrospect, I did almost everything wrong. Over the next couple days, I’d like to share some of the painful lessons I learned so you’ll know what to do if, God forbid, it ever happens to you.

Maybe you’ll be smarter than I was and find a way out that doesn’t pass through the emergency room. Or lose your case before it starts.

Let’s start with those precious few minutes before the impact, when there’s still time to de-escalate and find an exit strategy — or at least find a way to protect yourself and your legal rights.

Ride courteously

Let’s face it. There are hotheads on the road. A driver might be mad because he had a fight with his significant other. Maybe he’s an aggressive driver who doesn’t want to share the road. Or maybe he — or in this case, she — is just a bike-hating jerk. How you react to them can go a long way in determining whether that anger gets directed towards you. So always ride courteously. And if you see signs that a driver may be angry or acting in an aggressive manner, try to give them a very wide berth.

Ride legally

I won’t to tell you how to ride. But I will make one simple point: As Bob Mionske observed, whether or not you obey traffic laws could determine whether you have a legal case in the event of a collision or road rage incident. Simply put, if you run a stop sign or red light, or fail to signal a turn or lane change, chances are, you will be found at least partially at fault regardless of what the driver may have done.

And not just during the incident; police and lawyers will look for anyone who may have seen you riding in the miles and weeks leading up to the incident. So the red light you blew through half an hour before, or even last week, may be used to show that you probably didn’t stop at the stop sign when you got hit — even if, as in my case, the physical evidence shows you did. It may not be fair, but that’s the world we live in.

Keep your fingers to yourself

It’s a bad habit, one I’ve struggled to break with limited success. Unlike drivers, we don’t have horns to express our fear and anger, so it only seems natural to flip off someone who’s just cut you off or threatened your safety in some way. The problem is, it doesn’t work. I’ve never seen anyone respond to a rude gesture with an apology; instead, it only escalates the situation. At best, they may ignore you or respond in kind; at worst, it gives an angry driver a reason to retaliate.

And never, ever flip off a driver behind you.

Let dangerous drivers pass

You have a right to the road, no less than anyone with a motor and four wheels. And you have every right to take the lane when the situation warrants it; drivers are legally required to follow or pass safely. But just because it’s the law doesn’t mean that’s what they’re going to do. So the question becomes whether it’s better to stay where you are and fight for your right to the road, or pull over and let the driver — and the situation — pass.

Before my road rage incident, I would have stayed right where I was and held the lane. But I’ve learned the hard way that cars are bigger than I am, and they hurt. So when you find an angry driver on your ass, pull over and let the jerk pass. Then take down the license number, pull out your cell phone and call the police.

Snap a photo

Your camera phone may be one of the most important safety tools you own; I keep mine within easy reach in a Topeak case attached just behind my handlebars. When tempers flare, simply pull it out and snap a photo of the other person, as well as the license of their vehicle. Instantly, you’ve established a record of the incident and documented the identity of the driver — destroying the sense of anonymity that allows most violent acts to occur.

I’ve used mine on a number of occasions. And in every case, the driver has backed down and driven away.

Next: What to do after a collision

 

The more things don’t change, the more they remain the same; LA driver confesses to threatening cyclists

Here's a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog than the people I hired to do it.

Here’s a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog to a private server than the people I hired to do it.

So much for that.

As we left off last week, I promised this blog would be transferred to a private server over the holiday weekend, as the first phase of long-gestating plan to remake it into an advertising-supported website.

Long gestating, indeed. Many species have their babies in a lot less time than this process, which started in August, has taken.

But as you’ll see, either the transfer was done so perfectly that nothing has changed, or nothing has changed.

Smart money is on the latter.

Over the weekend I received an email from the web-hosting service I’d hired to do the transfer that they too lacked the capability to move it to their servers. This, despite sworn assurances from their sales staff that they’d done it many times before, and would have me up and running in a matter of days.

Turns out they hadn’t. And wouldn’t.

But at least I got my money back.

So the transfer is on hold for now. Hopefully, it will get done later this week, by another company that doesn’t have its head so far up it’s own ass knows what it’s doing and is a little more honest about its own abilities.

I’ll let you know more when I do.

………

It’s not everyday someone confesses to assault with a deadly weapon on National Public Radio.

But that’s exactly what self-proclaimed life-long LA driver Jackie Burke did in an otherwise positive piece about LA Bike Trains.

The story focused on the founding of the program by New York transplant Nona Varnado, who has become a leader in the local bicycling scene in the short time she’s been here — though I do miss her incredible design work for women cyclists. Along with the success the program has had in helping beginning bike commuters take to the roads.

Not that everyone welcomes new riders to the roads.

Like the aforementioned Ms. Burke, for instance.

“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

Let’s start with the fact that neither Burke, nor anyone else, has a right to the roadway, let alone a right to drive unimpeded. And as Niall Huffman points out, bikes aren’t hard to pass — as long as you’re not the kind of sociopath who’s willing to intentionally threaten another human being for the crime of slightly inconveniencing your commute.

Because that’s exactly what Burke has admitted doing.

By her own account, she used her vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to intimidate another person using the roadway in a legal manner. She could, and perhaps should, be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Except that she would undoubtedly deny her own words, which is currently the only evidence against her.

In order for charges to stick, her victim or an independent witness would have to come forward who could testify that Burke threatened the rider with her car, and could place her — or at least her vehicle — at the scene of the crime.

Because a crime is exactly what it was.

Her words also place her in violation of LA’s groundbreaking cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows a cyclist to file a civil suit against deliberately threatening drivers. But again, that would require Burke’s victim(s) to come forward, and be able to identify her as the attacker.

Not likely, given the challenge of taking down a license number as a rider struggles not to get run off the road. Let alone over.

Which means, despite her very public confession on national radio, she’s likely going to get away with it. Just like all the other otherwise decent people who somehow turn into blood-thirsty, road-raging sociopaths once they get behind the wheel.

Although the DMV should seriously look into permanently pulling her license. Or at least until she can learn to drive without threatening the lives and safety of complete strangers who have the misfortune of sharing the road with her.

Perhaps more frightening, though, is that Alex Schmidt, the reporter on the piece, didn’t even bother to challenge her comments.

Because attitudes and actions like hers are far too common. And far too accepted in our society.

And if that doesn’t scare the crap out of every American, it should.

Cut off — and flipped off — in DTLA

Last night took me to a meeting of the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee in Downtown LA.

And nearly into the rear end of a delivery driver who cut me off by swerving from the left lane to the curb with no warning.

Then he flipped me off before driving away.

But rude and dangerous bicyclists are the problem, right?

A couple quick reminders that cars are big, dangerous machines that must be used with caution

No, really.

Who could have possibly seen something like this coming?

Besides everyone, I mean.

A pickup truck driver crashed into a building in Downtown L.A. on Sunday, injuring several people on the sidewalk and killing a 52-year old woman; reportedly, the collision was the result of a previously known medical condition.

Meanwhile, a 40-year old man was arrested after using his car as a weapon to ram two men he’d argued with earlier inside a Downtown strip club; one man lost both legs while the other had one leg severed.

Yet somehow, to some people, the biggest problem on our streets is scofflaw bike riders blowing through red lights and stop signs.

Yes, everyone needs to observe the law, and ride and drive safely and legally.

But motor vehicles are dangerous machines, used too often in dangerous ways. And until we accept that as a society, people will continue to be needlessly killed and maimed on our streets.

It’s not cyclists who kill over 33,000 people on American streets every year.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading some of the comments online.

………

An unlicensed Santa Barbara BMW driver hits another car while making an unsafe turn, hits a cyclist riding in a bike lane trying to flee the scene, gets stuck on the curb, then nearly runs over a pedestrian trying to stop him.

The driver was arrested on charges of hit-and-run with injury, driving without a license and driving under the influence; he also faces charges of dissuading a witness.

………

That petition calling on Governor Brown to atone for his vetoes by signing a three-foot passing law the third time around has now passed over 700 signatures.

………

Los Angeles continues to needlessly treat cyclists like second-class citizens on its streets. The LACBC and the authors of Where To Bike LA invite you to join them on a tour of the Rio Hondo, Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers next Saturday. The LACBC’s Planning Committee will host a forum with three of the area’s leading bike planning experts on Thursday, March 21 at LACBC headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street. A 31-year old woman was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center with serious injuries after a solo fall while mountain biking off Mulholland Highway. Burbank police will participate in the Police Unity Tour Bike Ride this May, riding from New Jersey to DC in honor of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka, who was killed in the line of duty 10 years ago. Burbank bans mobile billboards, including those pulled on trailers that can block bike lanes or fall and injury a cyclist or others passing by. Following the death of bike riding student Ivan Aguilar, a Cal Poly Pomona official promises to maintain the auto-centric focus on campus for the foreseeable future, while police continue their investigation. A look at one of SoCal’s leading bike advocates and nicest people, Melissa Balmer, founder of Women on Bikes.

The founder of Vista CA-based Electra bikes started a revolution in casual bicycling. A Santa Rosa cyclist explains why he isn’t one anymore. Sonoma County considers adopting an L.A.-style anti-harassment ordinancethanks to Megan Lynch for the link. Over 100 bicyclists ride in honor of two fallen Santa Cruz police officers. Two Santa Cruz County bicyclists are air-lifted to trauma centers in unrelated incidents. Could bike tourism make a difference in Redding? I’ve said it before, if you’re carrying illegal drugs and a weapon, use a headlight on your bike.

If you want to get more women on bikes, try treating them like normal people; my thought exactly. The Cascade Bicycle Club talks with Ed Orcutt, the Washington Representative who called for taxing bike riders because our breath emits greenhouse gases, and finds he’s not all bad. Phoenix police look for not one, but two hit-and-run drivers who fatally tag-teamed a bicyclist. A Boulder CO dump truck driver is convicted of careless driving resulting in death for killing a bike rider — his second offense involving a cyclist in the last four years. If you don’t think the lives of cyclists count, you’re right, at least in Wyoming. Topeka cyclists discover bike polo, saving some unused tennis courts from closure in the process. When a local rider is killed Lubbock TX, cyclists share tips on how to stay safe. After losing 60% of it’s population, Cleveland is slowly becoming a bike and pedestrian friendly city. After years of clearing killer drivers by reciting the mantra “no criminality involved,” New York police finally get serious about investigating traffic collisions; they’ve also stopped referring to collisions as accidents.  A Rochester NY driver flees the scene after Jerry Browning a cyclist riding in a bike lane with an alcohol level over twice the legal limit; yet somehow, he was still allowed behind the wheel despite a “significant criminal history” of prior DUI offenses.

A drunken Brazilian driver flees with a cyclist’s severed arm inside his car, dumping it into s stream before turning himself in. A highly detailed examination of the pros and cons of bicycle registration, including Nazi Germany’s fondness for licensing bikes; so when you license a bike, you ride with Hitler. The Pakistan cycling team gets visas to compete in the Asian Cycling Championships for the first time. South African cyclists ride to call for a five-foot passing law in honor of fallen pro cyclist Burry Stander.

Finally, an extremely drunk Montana rider crashed his bike into the back of a patrol car; no word on whether he damaged the alcohol monitoring bracelet he was wearing. And following a terrifying road rage assault, a Kansas City cyclist threatens to kill his attacker.

With kindness.

A brief observation on walking the dog, as it relates to dangerous drivers and surviving on two wheels

Let’s talk dog walking.

Or rather, walking the dog as it relates to dangerous drivers. And how that relates to riding a bike in the swirling cesspool of human interaction we call traffic.

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Take what happened last week.

I was walking the Corgi a few blocks from our home, after dark, during rush hour traffic. The last building on the block we were on featured that 1960’s style covered parking in which the front of the building overhangs the parking spaces, with the sidewalk passing between the driveway apron and the parking spaces.

As we were strolling in front of the building, a car pulled up on the side street in front of us, barely paused at the stop sign, then suddenly pulled onto the wrong side of the busy street we were walking along and turned left, making a shallow U into a parking space just in front of us.

Fortunately, I was able to pull her back in time and took a quick step back myself, allowing the driver to zoom by without hitting either of us.

I was not, however, able to control my own reaction, calling him a jackass as we walked past and rounded the corner.

Moments later, though, the driver came running up after us on the dark side street we’d turned onto. As he approached, I moved the dog behind me and balled my fists, prepared to defend myself against the jerk who’d just threatened our safety.

Since we rescued the then four-year old Corgi a few years ago, we’ve developed an interesting dynamic. She’s taken it upon herself to protect my wife, and more than once has shown signs that she would fight to the death to defend her — even standing up to a coyote over twice her size that dared to walk through our urban neighborhood.

On the other hand, she’s also made it clear that she trusts me to protect her, lowering her guard when I walk her in a way she never does with my wife alone. And I take that trust very seriously.

Threaten my safety with your car and I’ll be pissed. But God help you if you endanger my dog.

What happened next caught me completely off guard, though.

He apologized.

He said he hadn’t seen us, and was sorry if he had frightened my dog. Never mind that he’d scared the crap out me.

No apologies for the dangerous stunt he had pulled — and probably not for the first time, since he appeared to live in the building. And no explanation how it was that he failed to see a grown man and a light colored dog on a well-lighted sidewalk.

I was still too angry to politely discuss the situation, so I simply accepted his apology, shook his hand and turned away to walk home, shaken by the close call.

The very next night, I was once again walking the Corgi when we ran into another, all-too-common situation.

We were alongside a large apartment building on a busy side street when a driver entering the parking lot paused to let us safely cross the driveway. However, that left the rear of his car extending out into the traffic lane, much to the chagrin of the driver behind him who was forced to briefly pause in his mad dash through the residential neighborhood.

So needless to say, that second driver leaned on his horn, blasting an angry rebuke that anyone might have the audacity to stop in his way, with no idea why it washappening.

In other words, he was more than willing to let someone else run us over if it meant he didn’t have to slow down for even a moment.

Never mind that he could have simply gone around the other car. Which is exactly what he did after treating us to his rage-filled car horn soliloquy.

And never mind that his honking could have startled the driver ahead of him, possibly leading to tragic results.

And there, in a nutshell, is the problem on our streets. Or one of them, anyway.

Too many of today’s drivers have lost any sense of the danger their vehicles pose to others. They feel entitled to their place on roadway, and have little or no fear of the reckless stunts they pull, having gotten away with them too many times in the past.

Even though getting away with it doesn’t mean it’s legal. Or safe, for that matter.

The problem is, you can only get away with something until you don’t. At which point, it’s too late for anything but the too-often tragic consequences.

Then there’s the sense of entitlement, to use that phrase again, that allows some — not all, but far too many — drivers to feel they have a right to move unimpeded along the streets. And that anyone in their way, be it other motorists legally slowing or stopping for a turn or to let a pedestrian pass, or a bicyclist in the lane in front of them, is committing some offense by delaying their progress by even a second or two.

I see it every day on the busy street in front of my building, as some speeding jerk lays on his horn because a car is stopped in the left lane, legally, to make a turn. Or slows down to safely make a right, rather than taking the corner at a dangerously high speed, as too many do.

Even though using a horn for any reason other than a safety warning is against the law.

And don’t get me started on the drivers who see a car stopped ahead of them, then whip around on the right or left without considering that there may be a reason why they stopped. Other than the other driver just felt like it, that is.

Like maybe a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing the street.

Which is why I politely refuse any invitation from a driver to cross an intersection in front of them unless I know for a fact that every other motorist in the shares their courtesy and inclination.

And yes, before you say it, there are countless reckless, self-entitled jerks on two wheels — and two feet — as well.

The difference being that a reckless cyclist or pedestrian poses a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers pose a danger to everyone around them.

There may be hope, though.

Some drivers get it when they see the potential consequences of their actions. Like the driver who apologized for nearly running down the Corgi and I.

Though whether that will keep him from pulling the same stunt next time remains to be seen.

Then there’s the valet driver I had a brief conversation with in Santa Monica last week.

I was riding past a large hotel on Ocean Ave when a car exited the parking garage right in front of me. And as too often happens, another car followed closely behind him, on a collision course with my bike.

So I yelled out a warning, and the driver came to a sudden stop just a few feet from my right.

He caught up to me at the next light, waiting to make a right as I sat on his left to go straight.

“Dude,” he called out, “I wasn’t going to hit you. I do this all day long, every day.”

“Yeah, but how do I know that?” I responded. “I don’t have any choice but to assume you don’t see me.”

“Oh.” He sat for a moment, letting it sink in.

“So, you’re just doing what you have to do to stay alive. Okay, I get that.”

The light changed and I rode on as he turned away, a little more hopeful than I’d been just a few moments before.

………

Speaking of Santa Monica, still no response seven days later to the complain I filed about being forced to share a bike lane with a Big Blue Bus.

And that’s frightening.

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