Tag Archive for David Whiting

It’s the weekend, and all links must go — CicLAvia, Spring Street and David Whiting, just to name a few

Experts say I need more photos on here. So here's a kitty sleeping in a donation bowl.

Experts say I need more photos on here. So here’s a kitty sleeping in a tip jar.

It’s been one of those weeks.

Which means a long list of bike news and links have been piling up.

And it’s the weekend, so everything must go.

Besides, it could take you until Sunday’s CicLAvia just to get through all of this.

………

You are going to be at CicLAvia this Sunday.

Right?

KPCC suggests where to go and what to do there, while Streetsblog’s Damien Newton says treat it like your first one and just go out and have fun. The Militant Angeleno offers yet another of his incredibly fascinating guides to sites along the route; seriously, download this to your smartphone and follow it along the way.

You can even have fun at CicLAvia without a bike, including dancing in the street for six hours straight.

But you might want to visit the Chinatown section first, just in case.

………

Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Here’s one of a no-longer green Spring Street bike lane, shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Meanwhile, Newton is frustrated over how long it’s taking to fix the no longer existent Spring Street bike lane along the Downtown leg of the route. LADOT promises it will be finished by Sunday’s CicLAvia; the Times says work is underway to change it from bright to dark.

And Flying Pigeon’s Josef Bray-Ali lays the blame for the whole fiasco at new Mayor Eric Garcetti’s feet.

Then there’s this comment from a rider who went through the unfinished work Friday morning.

I could cry.

So far, Spring’s got its green back… from Aliso Street to half-past Second Street. The FHWA standard “New York” Green hue leans toward blue, so I’m wondering about nighttime visibility. Even where the “green lanes” are in, the buffers aren’t painted down yet. The “cyclist” graphic that’s supposed to be centered in the lane at the approach to intersections isn’t in yet either. Discouragingly, for a stretch, the patched-over recent street work has left an unpleasant, visible lip into the bike lane. Some of the solid green areas had what looked like giant smudges, but a closer squint makes it clear that these areas only got a single slapdash layer of paint.

I wanted to kick over the stupid mocking “ROAD CLOSED SUNDAY” CicLAvia sign.

Heartbreakingly, in a few teeny spots, some of the former green peeks through like a feeble, grizzled old veteran trying desperately to hold onto glory and dignity. And failing.

………

The same rider, who prefers to remain anonymous, forwards news that I was quoted in the OC Register recently.

My coworker saved me yesterday’s paper, which includes an article by David Whiting about the new 3-foot passing law.

A brief excerpt:

Ted Rogers has a prominent voice about bicycle safety through his blog, BikingInLA.com. Despite his and other L.A. bloggers’ professed ability to figure me out because I criticize drivers and cyclists for dumb behavior, Rogers makes excellent points about weaknesses in the 3-feet law. 

“The problem is,” Rogers says, “unless a driver actually does make contact with a cyclist, the law is virtually enforceable.

“The bill includes a provision allowing drivers to pass at less than 3 feet if they slow down and pass only when it won’t endanger a cyclist’s safety. In other words, the same sort of vague, virtually unenforceable standard we have now.”

The article also references a guy who began advocate when a boy on a bike was hit in his Garden Grove neighborhood. Since Westminster is the neighboring city, my coworker and I both wondered if the boy was A.J. Brumbeck (this coworker’s brother’s neighbor’s kid), but I snooped a little and he’s not.

The giant photo that accompanied the article was of a single-file herd of MAMILs on Santiago Road. I wish the damn editor had chosen to go with a pic of anyother type of OC cyclist, maybe una pareja de invisibles riding in the gutter in Santa Ana, or a high school kid navigating her way to school on South County’s speedways, or even a beach cruiser with a wet-suited rider & a loaded surfboard rack flying down the bike lane on Golden West. Pictures are powerful, and casual readers aren’t even going to reach Whiting’s “Lance Armstrong wannabes” quote in the second column. Not to mention, Whiting says right there, “the dead aren’t just faceless road riders,” but that huge picture’s failure to show the riders’ faces knocks a big chunk of humanity out of the equation.

Editorial criticisms aside, the article itself is even, fair, and reasonable…. and hey, it quotes you!

Ride safe out there!

I’m linking back to the original column, but you know, draconian paywall and stuff.

Note to David Whiting: Thanks for the kind words, David, didn’t know you were reading. It’s not that I think I’ve got you figured out; I suspect you care about bike safety every bit as much as I do. We just disagree sometimes about who’s responsible and how to go about it.

Now, if you could just do something about that damn paywall, I’d love to get back to reading your column on a regular basis.

………

A carwash memorial will be held on Saturday in honor of Luis “Andy” Garcia, killed by a second car last month after being knocked off his bike by a hit-and-run driver.

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LAPD is looking for the hit-and-run driver who critically injured a bike rider in Hollywood on August 6th.

Yes, August 6th.

Maybe it’s just me, but wouldn’t they have a better chance of catching the jerk if they got the word out just a little quicker?

………

Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious crunches the numbers and finds San Diego’s planned bike spending is half of what’s planned for the LA area.

………

Governor Jerry Brown approves a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

Regardless of what you might think about immigration issues, the new law means that there’s a much better chance the next driver who hits you might actually have insurance.

And might actually stick around afterwards.

……..

A petition calls on Caltrans to stop chip sealing routes where bicyclists ride; then again, they should assume cyclists will ride everywhere and stop chip sealing, period. Like we didn’t know this already; LA has the worst road conditions in the country. LA Times writer Nicholas Goldberg considers my suggestion that cyclists should be exempt from stop signs, and concludes, maybe not. A handful of readers respond to the Times’ Opinion page series on cycling, but why doesn’t the press ever refute the myth that we don’t pay for the roads we ride? The fate of the My Figueroa project could hinge on a hearing before the city council Transportation Committee next Wednesday. Richard Risemberg asks if LA is destroying the Glendale/Hyperion bridge in order to save it. A new DTLA development will have more bike parking than car spaces. SaMo students will participate in Bike It! Walk It! Week next week. Malibu letter writer says no to a PCH bike lane because cyclists are the spawn of Satan, more or less. An armed, off-duty Glendale PI stops a bike thief. Torrance bike thieves caught on camera. Turns out I’m not the only one to have a bee encounter, as Michael of CLR Effect feels a pinch between cheek and gum. SoCal’s Original Night Stalker was a bike rider; not to be confused with the other psycho who followed.

California’s new CEQA reform could mark the beginning of the end for auto-centric Level of Service requirements. Corona del Mar will invest in 50 new bike racks. San Diego hosts a ride to honor late local cycling legend Gordy Shields on October 25th. A cross-country cyclist has his bike stolen in San Diego. San Diego mayoral candidate rides for better bike safety, while a letter writer is critical of Critical Mass. Torrey Pines State Beach officials ban bicyclists from riding downhill; whether that’s legal depends on whether it’s considered a public or private road. Santa Barbara gets its own Open Streets — ie, ciclovia — event in November. In the wake of their non-investigation of a recent bicycling fatality, the SFPD is trying to improve relations with bicyclists, which evidently needs improving. Two-thirds of fatal SF bike and pedestrian collisions don’t result in charges. San Francisco cyclists are getting traffic signals timed so bikes get greens. Yes, it’s legal to ride a bike with your dog on a leash, but may not be smart. No bias here, as a Sacramento cyclist is fatally right hooked by a big rig truck, yet the press blames the victim for crashing into it. A Sonoma paper writes about the new three-foot law, but doesn’t seem to realize the 15 mph clause isn’t in this year’s bill.

Twenty years later, the gas tax is still stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon, which is just one reason our highways are crumbling. Smart infographic offering myths about women and cycling; on the other hand, here’s another reason women don’t ride, as femme bikes become the new push-up bra. Turns out protected bike lanes don’t have to be ugly. A Portland writer says if you get yourself killed by riding recklessly, the driver who hit you is going to feel really bad about it. A Oregon bike rider stabs the road raging driver who came after him; no word on whether he feels bad about it. One more reason not to get run down by motorists in Montana, where it just became legal to eat roadkill. At least we only have to deal with angry drivers; a Wyoming cyclist fends off a stalking cougar with bear spray. Very cool exhibit of bike photos in Denver gallery; if you’re trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas, I want the third one. Cyclists are packing guns in Houston. Do whiskey shots, run down a San Antonio cyclist and get six years in prison. St. Louis could get 100 miles of better bikeways. Michigan rider says its not if, but when you’ll kill a cyclist if you keep driving like that. A Minnesota writer questions whether bike lanes are enough. Tampa Bay pitcher David Price rides a bike share bike to Fenway Park. Goldie Hawn rides a bike in New York. The New York cabbie who took the leg of a British tourist after a road rage dispute with a cyclist is back on the streets without even a slap on the wrist. Biking across the Hudson River without benefit of a bridge. The federal government shutdown may be behind a jump in DC bike share use — including the shirtless Kiwi who followed Thursday’s fatal police pursuit. Severe bicycling injuries are up for the third year in a row at an Alabama Children’s hospital. After a Miami driver backs his SUV over a cyclist, the police do everything but pat him on the back and hang a medal around his neck.

Bike prices may fall north of the border as Canada considers scrapping an anti-dumping duty on imported bikes. A writer argues against use of the term cyclist, which I employ on a regular basis along with every other term I can think of for someone on a bike. Cyclists — there’s that word again — can commit fatal hit-and-runs, too, as a Canadian rider pleads guilty to killing a grandmother and fleeing the scene. Deliberately assault a group of Brit cyclists with your car, and walk away with no jail time. A UK cancer specialist is acquitted of killing a bike rider, despite driving on the wrong side of the road. The sister of a woman killed by a truck in London blames the victim, calling for testing of all cyclists. What happens when you buy a £137.90 — $222.89 — bike. Brit bike thief is cornered by basketball team. This is why you never go around train barricades, as a British woman is caught on video barely avoiding being crushed by a train. Wales votes to build a comprehensive network of bikeways connecting communities. The Giro could be in trouble, with up to $11 million missing from the race’s books. Call it a private bike share program — buy a $16 cup of Czech coffee, and get a free loaner bike. Sri Lankan paper says a cyclist wasn’t killed by a train, he was killed by stupidity. Despite fears, an Aussie bike lane over a bridge adds less than one minute to drivers’ commutes. A decent examination of Down Under bike rage. Road raging Kiwi driver chases down, then repeatedly attempts to run over a bike rider as he hides on the sidewalk.

Finally, when you get drunk and steal a bike, it may not be the wisest move to make your getaway by riding it down a flight of stairs. When you’re carrying pot and already wanted for violating probation, maybe riding without a light isn’t the best idea. And don’t throw your bike shoe at your wife.

Just don’t.

LACBC Planning Committee tonight, blaming OC biking victims & guilty of DUI but not killing cyclist

The LACBC’s Planning Committee will meet at 7 pm tonight at the Downtown Pitfire Pizza at 2nd and Main.

Tonight’s agenda will include a presentation by Alison Kendall of Kendall Planning + Design on the upcoming USC Campus Bike Plan, as well as a possible discussion of traffic calming efforts on Via del Monte in Palos Verdes Estates — which has already nearly taken the life of at least one cyclist.

You don’t have to be an LACBC member to participate. Just give a damn about safer, more livable streets.

……..

I honestly don’t know what to think about Orange County Register columnist David Whiting.

I mean, his heart seems to be in the right place. I think he genuinely cares about keeping cyclists safer and diffusing tensions on the road.

He just too often seems to go about it by blaming the victims.

For instance, he complains about perceived offenses such as riding two or more abreast, which, much to the surprise of many misinformed motorists — and law enforcement personnel — is not even mentioned in the California Vehicle Code. Let alone prohibited.

But then he follows it up with mostly well-reasoned advice from the Executive Director of the OC Bicycle Coalition. Though I’d take issue with the rationale behind this bit of advice, as well as the second suggestion.

Seven: Running stop signs

Running stop signs irritates drivers.

Smart: Respect stop signs and the right of way of vehicles. If a driver waves you through, stop and put your foot down to show that you “get it.” Most drivers are so amazed to see a bicyclist stop, they chill out for next rider they pass.

Yes, stopping at a stop sign is important, especially when there are other vehicles or pedestrians around. It’s one thing to carefully go through a stop after ensuring there’s no one else around; dangerous and foolish to do it when someone else has the right-of-way.

But intersections are risky enough without trying to unnecessarily complicate matters by insisting on stopping when someone else safely defers the right-of-way to you.

Then there’s his most recent column with comments from readers that include complaints against overly entitled riders and suggestions that bikes don’t belong on the road when there’s a perfectly good bike path nearby. Not to mention a former law enforcement officer who claims to have ticketed a rider for doing 41 mph in a school zone.

If I got a ticket for going that fast, I wouldn’t fight it.

I’d frame it.

But what ultimately puts me off Whiting’s writings is his frequent insistence on the old auto-centric fallacy that better behavior by cyclists will result in greater respect and courtesy from drivers.

It won’t. It doesn’t. And it never has.

Yes, you should always ride safely, and as legally and courteously as the situation allows — bearing in mind that it’s your life that’s on the line, and what’s legal isn’t always what’s safest.

But angry drivers don’t act that way because of anything you do or don’t do on the saddle. In reality, they’re usually upset by your simple presence on the road. Let alone the fact that you’re in front of them, which means a few seconds delay in their death-defying rush to wherever they’re going.

Telling cyclists not to make drivers mad is like telling a battered housewife to be more obedient so her husband won’t beat her anymore.

It’s long past time to stop blaming the victims.

Thanks to David M. Huntsman, Esq. for the links.

……..

Then again, a comment by a Streetsblog reader pretty well sums up the whole argument.

Yesterday I saw a bicyclist do [insert dangerous, stupid, inconsiderate, boneheaded move here] and it nearly inconvenienced me. This means all bikers better watch out because the responsible, productive, law-abiding members of this community aren’t going to tolerate this kind of anti-social behavior from you riffraff much longer.

Yesterday I saw a car driver do [insert dangerous, stupid, inconsiderate, boneheaded move here] and kill someone!  A tragedy, but it was an accident, no one’s fault really, just one of those bad parts of living in the modern age that we all have to put up with. After all, anyone can make a mistake. It would be a shame to even suspend the driver’s license over it because they really might need it to get to work. It certainly is no reflection on me or how most people drive.

……..

A Ramona driver is convicted of being under the influence of methamphetamine and driving under the influence when she killed a cyclist, followed by hitting a parked car, stop sign and a liquor store.

Yet according to the Ramona Sentinel, she wasn’t responsible for his death, because the cyclist was drunk when he was killed.

David Bruce Menea was riding with a BAC of .17 — over twice the legal limit — as well as riding without lights when he reportedly rode out in front of Suzanne Nicole Reed on September 11th of last year. Despite veering right to avoid him, Reed hit and killed Minea before crashing into the other objects.

She was sentenced to one year in jail, with all but 90 days suspended, as well as 5 years probation and fined 2008.

Now, if Whiting wants to complain about drunk cyclists riding without lights, I’m totally in his corner.

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A Mississippi Gulf-area judge shows that at least some jurists take drunk driving seriously, dishing out the sort of sentence Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines and underage drunk driver Jaclyn Garcia may have deserved, but could never have gotten here in the late, great Golden State.

Let alone drivers high on meth who kill other people.

Circuit Judge Roger Clark threw the book at convicted drunk driver Robin Lee Vo for critically injuring a cyclist while driving at over twice the legal limit — sentencing her to 20 years in prison, 10 years suspended, plus $400,000 restitution.

That’s 10 years in state prison, compared to one year apiece in the comparable California cases, and just 90 days for meth-driving Reed.

Are you listening, judges?

I don’t know a damn thing about Mississippi judge Roger Clark, but he’s got my support for any office he wants to run for.

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Not only do those damn cyclists back up L.A. traffic, but they actually seem to be enjoying themselves. L.A. endurance athlete and registered dietitian Matthew Ruscigno amusingly takes up cyclocross; maybe he’ll be at this weekend’s Santa Cross in Griffith Park. Flying Pigeon’s next Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place this Sunday, while Walk Bike Glendale will host a family-friendly holiday ride. Santa Monica Spoke invites everyone to the LACBC’s 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Merriment at the Library Alehouse on the 27th, and looks for volunteers for the bike valet. The Daily News finds flaws in L.A.’s new bike plan. The Hansen Dam bike path gets security upgrades after series of after dark assaults. The Port of Long Beach will approve the final environmental impact statement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge — including bike lanes. Ride with Alta Planning principal Mia Birk in Long Beach Thursday. Rancho Cucamonga cyclists and pedestrians now have their own bridge over freeway-like Foothill Blvd. How to repair your Joe Blow.

Holiday season riding means dodging crazed shoppers. The Senate considers an amendment that could improve safety for all road users, yet at the same time, considers banning cyclists from some roads on federal lands. Interestingly, the percentage of people who bike is pretty evenly distributed across all income levels. A graphic argument on how bikes can save us. A series of 60-second sprints could help control Type-2 Diabetes. Columbia MO allows parking in bike lanes, and a local bike advocate thinks that’s a good thing. Seriously? Advil promotes winter bike congestion relief in Chicago. A Wisconsin study shows transit costs $50 per year per household, while roadways cost $779. Turns out a Wisconsin town isn’t planning to ban bikes and pedestrians after all — but the scary thing is, they could. A leading bike safety advocate is killed when he’s run down from behind. A U.S. Representative keeps the pressure on following the deliberately botched investigation of a cycling fatality by tribal police on a New Mexico reservation. A cyclist is the latest injury in New York’s contested Prospect Park. A North Carolina driver claims she was blinded by the sun and sneezing when she ran over a cyclist; oh, well it’s okay then. North Carolina cyclists may be left out in the cold on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Louisiana authorities suspect alcohol use in the death of a 76-year old cyclist; the victim, not the driver. When it comes to traffic signals, Florida cyclists just want fair treatment.

A Canadian cyclist is nearly refused entry to this country because he didn’t have a helmet. The Department of DIY strikes in Toronto. An Ottawa cyclist files suit after an open manhole leaves him an incomplete quadriplegic. Evidently, English soccer fans — or at least Hotspur fans — are too dense to figure out the difference between Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy and Premier League referee Chris Foy. In the UK, they actually enforce speed limits on popular cycling routes; go figure, huh? What do Dutch expats miss more than bicycling? Herring. An Aussie driver goes on a crime spree after killing a cyclist. Long Beach’s biking expats take their Path Less Pedaled to New Zealand.

Finally, the rules of bicycle touring haven’t changed much in the last 128 years, as bad teeth was no barrier to enlistment in the bike corps, and even billionaire robber barons rode bikes.

And returning to this century, frame meister Dave Moulton offers 10 tips for driving around cyclists; don’t click the link unless you’re in the mood for the best laugh of the day.

Maybe David Whiting should read that before he writes his next column.

Better bike courtesy won’t keep cyclists alive

Note: there were too many important news items today to include in this morning’s post. Come back a little later this morning for news about AAA attacking bike and pedestrian funding, the Mayor calls for a bike friendlier Metro, cyclists urged to ride right at Critical Mass, and a Maryland driver runs over a deer who turned out to be a candidate for Senate.

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Maybe he just doesn’t get it.

Or maybe we’re just not going to convince David Whiting that all the courtesy in the world won’t keep careless, dangerous or distracted drivers from running down even the most polite cyclists, pedestrians and yes, other drivers.

Whiting — the OC Register writer who wrote last week that the solution to the county’s one-a-month rate of bike deaths was for bike clubs to ride single file and stop running red lights and stop signs — now says the answer could be as simple as being more courteous to drivers.

Seriously.

Even though a failure to show the proper deferential politeness hasn’t been a factor in any of the deaths I’m aware of.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in roadway courtesy. I make a point of signaling, and often wave drivers across the intersection in front of me if there’s any question who has the right-of-way. And I do my best to let drivers behind me pass anytime it’s safe to do so.

But not just to be nice.

I’ve learned the hard way that there are few things more dangerous than having a frustrated, angry jerk stuck on your rear wheel. And I’d much rather signal my intentions or let someone else go first than risk any misunderstanding that could result in us both attempting to occupy the same space at the same time.

I’m also a big believer in obeying traffic laws, as well as avoiding unnecessary distractions while I ride. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it keeps me safer on the streets.

But let’s be honest. Bike courtesy wasn’t a factor when nine-year old Nicolas Vela was run over by a monster truck whose driver couldn’t see the little kid riding his bike across the crosswalk directly in front of him.

Nor did it come into play when Donald Murphy was run down by a woman high on prescription medications, who kept driving with his bike still stuck under her car. Or when Alan Earl Miller was killed by a truck that drifted off the roadway while he was riding on the shoulder.

And it certainly wasn’t a factor when a car veered off the road, killing Christy Kirkwood and injuring another rider.

So if Mr. Whiting or anyone else wants to start a campaign to increase courtesy on the streets, count me in. Though I do look forward to the companion campaign, in which drivers are urged to show more courtesy to other road users by passing safely, observing the speed limit, stopping for stop signs, signaling, sobering up before driving, and turning off their cell phones when they get behind the wheel.

But let’s not pretend for one minute that it has one damn thing to do with the tragic and completely unacceptable rate of cyclists killed on the streets of Orange County.

Because it doesn’t.

And pretending it does will only mean more deaths until we stop blaming the victims and address the real problems.

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While we’re in Orange County, the OC Register reports that the senior cyclists cited for riding on the sidewalk — despite a sign saying it was legal to do just that and a cop who seemed to suggest they should— recently had their day in court.

And won.

Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Max DeLiema ruled in favor of the two-wheeled scofflaws, delivering a not guilty verdict for both.

“According to the Judge, since there is no signage that directs bicyclist to exit the sidewalk, then the interpretation of the law is that ‘riding your bicycle on the sidewalk’ is OK!” Leslie Smith told us by e-mail. “We have spent three days in court (one for my husband, Duane, to enter a plea of not guilty, one for me to enter a plea of not guilty, then today in court to testify)! Such a waste of taxpayer $$$….”

Now maybe Newport Beach should consider improving their signage.

And maybe the police should offer a well-deserved apology.

Thanks to David Bain for the link.

………

Enjoy the confluence of bikes and poetry on L.A.’s Eastside with the Spokes & Words Back to School Ride this Thursday. Flying Pigeon is featured on the Green Jobs California web site. KCRW discusses CicLAvia and biking in LA (no, not me); not surprisingly, the first comment is about how dangerous those darn bicyclists are. Riding a bike while towing a device for riding a bike in place. A Santa Monica council candidate talks local issues, including how to make the city bike friendlier. A look at the Whittier Greenway. San Diego area authorities opt for cheap sealant on a local $10 million bike bridge, which means it will be out of action for the next two weeks. A San Jose cyclist is killed in a apparent hit-and-run. Cyclo-cross comes to Las Vegas this week. Speaking of Vegas, Cyclelicious visits Interbike. An Oregon cyclist is killed trying to beat a train across a crossing. Two Portland cyclists are run down in rapid succession, apparently by the same possibly intentional hit-and-run driver. The New York law that allows cyclists to bring their bikes into their office buildings hasn’t worked as planned. Bicycling as a way of life to reclaim America’s streets. Construction begins on the London 2012 velodrome track. A Labor candidate for London mayor tries to out-bike BoJo. The IMBA joins with component manufacturers to improve European Mountain biking. A Kiwi mother is knocked cold by a hit-and-run cyclist.

Finally, the widow of a man killed by a cyclist last year in NYC gets an apology from the city’s DOT commissioner; no doubt she’s cleared her schedule for the next few weeks to apologize to the relatives of all the cyclists killed by drivers.

And happy World Car-Free Day, a holiday that will no doubt be little noticed on the streets of L.A.

Blaming the victims in OC — bad behavior isn’t behind the high rate of bike deaths

You might recall that earlier this week, I linked to a column in the Orange County Register.

A writer for the Orange County Register joins with the OC Wheelmen to challenge other bike clubs to enforce safety rules for their members.

I have to admit, the story bothered me.

In it David Whiting joined with a couple of local OC cycling organizations to call for strict observance of all traffic laws, with riders who don’t risking banishment from the club. And suggested a prohibition against riding side-by-side, even though that’s legal in California — and explicitly allowed under chapter 11-1206 of the Universal Vehicle Code.

Obeying red lights is probably not the deal breaker. But stop signs? As a cyclist, I know many of us figure they don’t apply to us. Wrong.

And single-file pelotons? You might be muttering, “Not going to happen.”

As one man said Wednesday night, cyclists are more visible and safer when riding in a pack. And I might agree.

But I’m also looking at it from a driver’s perspective. Not only do packs block streets, they scare the bejeebers out of drivers.

Simply put, cyclists need to extend courtesy to drivers whenever possible. Swarming a road is not the way.

The reason for that club-level crackdown is to keep cyclists alive, noting that 80 cyclists have died in Orange County over the last 5 years — seven this year alone.

It’s an admirable goal.

Personally, I support anything that will make our chosen form of transportation/recreation safer while supporting our right to the road. And I have no problem with enforcing traffic laws, as long as authorities target dangerous behavior regardless of who commits the violation, and don’t single out cyclists for selective enforcement.

I also recognize that this could go a long way towards improving the image problem cyclists have with the driving public, many of whom see us as reckless scofflaws who needlessly flaunt traffic regulations.

Unlike all those drivers who never speed, text while driving or fail to come to a full stop at red lights and stop signs, of course. And each of whom are no doubt fully versed on the rights of cyclists, and gladly give us the road space to which we’re legally entitled.

I had other things to deal with, though — not the least of which is a bad back that’s kept me off my bike and wacked out on muscle relaxants most of the week.

Not to worry, though. It only hurts when I move.

Or breathe.

But the story continued to lurk in the back of my drug addled mind, until Richard Masoner, author of the excellent Cyclelicious, emailed me yesterday to ask the same question that had been eating at me.

Just how many of those recent deaths resulted from club rides or cyclists blowing through stop signals or riding two abreast?

So I stopped what I was doing, cleared my head, and dug through my files for every OC bike death I could find dating back to December of last year. The results didn’t surprise me, though they might surprise Mr. Whiting.

  • Dan Crain died in August, hit by a car merging at high speed at what appears to be a poorly designed intersection.
  • Michael William Nine died in July while on a club ride; but rather than “swarming the road,” he was leading the group downhill when a gardener’s truck pulled out in front of him on the wrong side of the street.
  • Alan Earl Miller died in May when a driver drifted off the road and struck him while he was riding on the shoulder of the roadway.
  • Annette Ferrin-Rodgers died in April when she was hit by a bus while riding in a crosswalk with no lights on her bike.
  • Jeffery Blum died in March after lingering in a coma since 2007, following a collision in which the driver who hit him — the only witness — blamed Blum for swerving in front of him.
  • Donald Murphy was killed in December when a woman high on prescription meds ran him down as he was riding single file with other riders on the shoulder of the road.
  • Nine-year old Nicolas Vela was killed in December when he was crossing in the crosswalk in front of a monster truck whose driver was too high up to see the kid on a bike directly in front of him.

That’s seven deaths in nine months — none of which involved cyclists running red lights or stop signs, or riding two or more abreast. And only two involving multiple riders or club rides.

I also found three other bike collisions I’d mentioned since last December.

  • An unnamed 16-year old rider was critically injured in March while riding across a Santa Ana street.
  • Patrick Shannon was killed in April, 2009 when he was struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver while riding home from work.
  • Fourteen-year old Danny Oates was killed in August, 2007 by a driver high on drugs who was also texting at the time of the crash.

If you see any collision on that list that could have been prevented by observing stop signals or riding single file, you’re doing better than me. And only three — Blum, Ferrin-Rodgers and the unnamed 16-year old — could arguably be blamed on the cyclist.

And that my problem with Whiting’s plan.

While I have no doubt his heart is in the right place, it sounds like another case of saying we have to clean up our act so drivers won’t kill us, rather than placing the blame squarely where it belongs — on dangerous drivers, bad infrastructure and lax enforcement.

And dangerously customized trucks that prevent drivers from seeing bike riding kids right in front of their bumpers.

As Masoner wrote,

I’m sure the monster truck driver was terrified of the little nine year old he crushed on the road.

I’m a big believer in being responsible for my own safety. There are certainly actions we can take to reduce the risk of crashing and dying. We as cyclists should be courteous, and we should share the road by riding legally, but pelotons of cyclists hogging the road and blowing stop signs is not a bike safety issue in Orange County or anywhere else. Will single file riding do anything to prevent cyclist fatalities in Orange County? Should a bike club really suspend membership for rolling a stop sign, which is something that 97% of motorists are also guilty of? Can we also call on the AAA to suspend benefits for their members who are observed violating the rules of the road and not exercising common courtesy on the road?

Whiting promises a Phase II that will focus on driver safety. I’ll look forward to seeing it.

In the meantime, though, let’s agree that cyclists should ride safely and observe the law.

But stop blaming the victims.

And stop pretending that it’s the behavior of bicyclists that puts us at risk.

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After 17 stages of the Vuelta, Nibali found himself back in the red leader’s jersey; the question is, can he keep it? Cavendish claims his third victory in stage 18; the race should be decided on Saturday’s final climb.

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NIMBY residents file a lawsuit to stop the Expo Bikeway. Writing for the Bus Bench, Browne Molyneux says she hasn’t seen the Give Me 3 campaign south of the 10 Freeway, and doesn’t want LADOT’s and the Mayor’s table scraps. Santa Monica Spoke plans a Park(ing) Day park at Swingers on Broadway, complete with bike valet; LADOT Bike Blog looks at Park(ing) Day and Saturday’s Bicycle Beauty Pageant. Speaking of LADOT BB, Bikeside responds to the USC bike ban by taking the poorly paid student intern who reported it to task, rather than the university that did it. Join the LACBC and Bicidigna for a Vuelta de la Bici Digna, a free ride with the Bicidignarias from MacArthur Park to Pan Pacific Park this Saturday from noon to three. Now that texting while driving has been banned, there’s twice as much risk that the driver that hits you will be doing it. Occidental College students should benefit from the improved access provided by the West Valley Greenway Project. Car-less Valley Girl may have to get a new name, but promises not to give up her bike. Will reminisces about living in a city where the destination is always more important than the journey.

The San Francisco Gate takes a look at the Idaho Stop Law, and asks why shouldn’t drivers be able to roll stop signs as well — not that they don’t already; Dave Moulton says it’s one thing to roll through slowly, but blowing through makes us all look bad. A Santa Rosa area cyclist is hospitalized after being sideswiped by a pickup; the driver plays the universal SMIDSY get-out-of-jail-free card.

Bikes Belong and Interbike combine to bring 3.2 miles of bike lanes and a student bike program to the trade show’s soon-to-be-ex-home in Las Vegas. A primer on protecting yourself from the sun while you ride; take it from me, it matters. The fashion world discovers cycle chic at Monday’s Betsey Johnson runway show. A Chicago lawyer suggests buying a non-owners car insurance policy even if you don’t drive. The joys of riding to work — and a little exercise, too. Are you ready for some… High School Mountain Bike Racing? The mean streets of Detroit turn surprisingly bike friendly; losing half a city’s population makes for a lot of empty streets. The perfect lock for anyone who’s looking for a prettier way to secure a bike; personally, I’d use a Brinks truck if I could fit it in my seat pack. A writer questions how it’s possible to go over the handlebars; in my experience, it’s pretty easy if you’re not careful.

A British writer strives to be a MAMIL — in this case, a Middle Aged Mum in Lycra. A driver repeatedly cuts off a cyclist, then throws a drink cup at him — and gets convicted, thanks to the rider’s helmet-cam footage. More debate on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Copenhagen cyclists get the right to turn right on a red.

Finally, an Indiana cyclist discovers the hard way that there’s only one thing more dangerous than texting while driving. And don’t try this at home — a fourteen year old cyclist gets off his bike, climbs on the hood of the car behind him and smashes the windshield, causing $500 damage.

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