Tag Archive for driving

Morning Links: Green bike lanes coming to Beverly Hills, and windshield bias from Pepperdine economics prof

Hell is about to freeze over.

After years of telling us it was impossible and repeatedly voting it down, Beverly Hills has given final approval for bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd, between Wilshire Blvd and Doheny Drive.

The city council also overrode a staff recommendation for white striped lanes with a little green paint at key conflict zones, instead voting for green lanes the entire length, at a cost of around $100,000 — nearly triple the staff’s $35,000 budget.

Which should give you an idea just how cheap bike lanes really are.

The work should be done sometime this spring.

Thanks should go to Beverly Hills’ bike-friendly Mayor Lili Bosse, as well as Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who continued a quixotic and nearly solitary fight for the lanes, long after others had given up.

Myself included.

Photo from Beverly Hills website.

………

I’d give this econ professor an F.

In an Op-Ed for the Orange County Register, Pepperdine’s Gary Galles writes that transit use is down because cars remain popular.

And that the reason they are so popular is because they are “vastly superior” transit and other forms of non-motorized transportation.

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances.

Of course, what he fails to consider from his windshield-perspective perch overlooking PCH is that drivers around Southern California already complain about massive traffic congestion.

And, in fact, one of the reasons bus use is less attractive that driving is that bus schedules are constantly thrown off by all those people in cars jamming streets beyond their practical capacity.

So what traffic planners are attempting isn’t to create a gridlock purgatory.

It’s dealing with the traffic congestion hell we already find ourselves in, and preparing for an otherwise dystopian future in which more and more people try to jam themselves into an already built-out traffic system that can no longer be expanded.

So unless we provide those people with safe, practical alternatives to driving, our streets will continue to get worse with every new car added to the grid.

That means more frequent and reliable transit, and safer walking and biking. Which in some cases will require making traffic worse in the short term in order to make it better in the long term.

As an economics professor, he should understand that.

But as a shill for the motor vehicle industry, he’s doing a damn good job.

………

The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council will discuss the draft Hollywood Community Plan at the William & Ariel Durant Library, 7140 West Sunset Blvd on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 6-8 pm.

If you live, work or ride in bikeway-challenged Hollywood, you’ll want to be there to support the bike lanes described in Section 6 of the plan.

Because the Hollywood Hills homeowners will undoubtedly turn out in force once again to complain about density and traffic congestion. As well as bike lanes, if they think it will contribute to either one.

Thanks to the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition for the heads-up.

………

Local

A Pacoima square will be dedicated in honor of fallen cyclist Saul Lopez, the 15-year old boy who was collateral damage in a crash between two cars at Glenoaks Boulevard and Vaughn Street after one of the drivers ran a red light.

 

State

Coronado, where bike lanes give residents vertigo, considers improving bike safety by replacing stop signs with roundabouts; needless to say, not everyone approves.

The annual Tour de Palm Springs rolls this weekend, and a letter writer says it’s rude to ride two or more abreast and force drivers to change lanes (scroll down) to go around them. Even though that’s exactly what drivers are supposed to do, unless there’s a solid yellow line.

A Bakersfield columnist shares the joys of his regular Saturday morning group ride, which has been riding together for over 20 years.

Not so fast on the bike boulevard in San Luis Obispo, as the cycle track portion of the project has been put on hold after residents rise up to demand their God-given right to free street parking.

The former mayor of SLO tries to out-crazy the Coronado NIMBY’s, describing the planned bikeway as “urban rape … not to be performed by a male penis, but by thousands of inanimate bicycles … .” No, seriously.

Three-time world champ Peter Sagan will host a pair of California fondos, starting with a gravel ride in Truckee this May, and a road ride in a city TBD in November.

 

National

Nice idea. In an attempt to support sustainable transportation, a Washington couple builds a small Bike Hut on the edge of their property, providing riders in need with spare tubes, chain lube and other small necessities.

A Montana paper looks at the efforts of rural towns to capitalize on bicycle tourism.

Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance in Minneapolis.

After moving off campus, a Johns Hopkins University student discovers the joys of bicycling in Baltimore and the city’s monthly Bike Party.

A writer from Los Angeles falls head-over-heels — literally — for mountain biking just a few hours outside Atlanta. And wonders why he doesn’t do it more here in California.

 

International

A couple of British pub owners ride the length of South America, covering over 3,000 miles from Chile to Argentina.

A London physician gets it, saying the city’s Camden neighborhood won’t meet its smog reduction goals without a greater emphasis on bicycling and presumed liability. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, presumed liability assumes the operator of the more dangerous vehicle is at fault in any collision, unless it can be proven that the other party is at fault, because they have a greater responsibility to avoid crashes due to their ability to cause greater harm.

A British coroner rules that a velodrome did not follow safety guidelines when a cyclist was killed in a 35 mph crash with another rider in 2014.

An Aussie letter writer says bicycles should be required to have bells, since there’s apparently no other way to politely warn others a bike is approaching. And seems to be under the illusion that drivers politely yield to people on bikes and on foot.

 

Competitive Cycling

An entre Italian amateur team gets busted for systematic doping (scroll down) following the heart attack death of a 21-year old cyclist last May. But sure, tell us again how the era of doping is over.

VeloNews previews this year’s Amgen Tour of California, and says the key stages will be the famed Gibraltar climb and the time trial in Morgan Hill. And looks at how the pros overcome the fear of failure and getting hurt.

 

Finally…

Evidently, I’m not actually a road cyclist. Maybe someday you’ll ride wearing an inflatable flak jacket.

And today is International Winter Bike to Work Day.

So pat yourself on the back if you were able to somehow endure Southern California’s sunny winter weather on your way to work this morning.

The dog crap theory of road safety

Let’s talk responsibility.

Every morning, I walk outside with my dog, carrying a bag in my hand.

Then after a few minutes of watching her sniff every fire hydrant, bush, nook and cranny on our block — the Corgi equivalent of reading her Facebook page — she settles in for a good poop.

And inevitably, when I bend over to pick it up, I have to dodge piles of crap left behind by dog owners who aren’t as responsible.

It’s not just the unpleasant prospect of stepping in it that poses a problem. Or the simple fact that the law clearly requires owners to clean up after their animals.

What their dogs leave behind can spread disease, both to other dogs and the people who may inadvertently come in contact with it. And eventually, when the rains come, it will wash into the storm drains and out to the ocean, fouling the water that countless people swim and surf in.

Granted, one pile of crap isn’t going to cause any real harm. But multiply that by the multiple mounds on my block, and virtually every other block in this City of Angeles and the 88 other cities and towns, as well as unincorporated areas, in the county.

And you’ll start to understand why it’s not safe to eat many of the fish that come out of the bay. Or to spend much time in it yourself.

As I stand waiting for her to finish her morning rounds, I also have an opportunity to study the busy street that runs in front of our building.

I watch as a steady stream of cars flows past, observing countless drivers talking on their hand-held cell phones.

Others turn left or right or change lanes without ever using their turn signals, leaving other drivers to wonder — often with obvious impatience — why the car ahead is slowing down for no apparent reason. Or slamming on their brakes and swerving dangerously into the next lane to get around them.

Then there are the speeding drivers who weave in and out of the morning traffic, ignoring both speed limits and common sense, trusting their own driving skills to avoid the many near misses they create.

And too often, failing.

All this, despite their responsibility to obey the traffic laws they flaunt, and operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner.

Less frequently, I’ll see bikes rolling past as riders make their way up the street to UCLA, or down the street to jobs in Century City or beyond.

From time to time, I see one blow through the red light on the corner, forcing drivers who have waited patiently to cross the street to jam on their brakes to avoid a collision as the rider rushes into their path.

At night, as I take my dog out for the last walk of the day, I often see cyclists ride past without lights, briefly highlighted by the streetlights before rolling into semi-invisibility in the twilight between.

Other times, as I ride my bike, I often watch in amazement as I stop for a red light, only to see a cyclist ride up from behind and ride right through, ignoring my example as well as their own safety.

In fact, I was hit by one the other night, as I stopped and he kept going, brushing hard against my side as he blew through on my right, oblivious to the traffic starting to flow in either direction on the cross street.

Evidently, hitting me and risking getting hit himself were worth it to avoid stopping for less than a minute.

It breaks my heart when I reach an intersection and see oncoming or crossing drivers hesitate, despite having the right-of-way, because they expect me to ride through a stop sign or red light. Or anticipate that I’ll cut in front of them, ignoring both the right-of-way and my own safety.

Because that’s what we’ve trained them to do.

Too often, I find myself waving drivers through the intersection, granting my permission to do what the rules of the road say they have the right to do anyway. Or needlessly clicking out of my pedal and putting my foot down, so they’ll see that I am in fact stopping.

Because, like them, I have a responsibility to obey the law.

And more importantly, to share the road safely.

The difference is, when drivers act irresponsibly, they pose a danger to everyone else on the road. When we do, the risk is primarily to ourselves.

Although we, too, can harm others by our actions.

The problem isn’t irresponsible cyclists, despite what countless bike-hating internet trolls and shock-jock DJs will tell you. Or drivers who have forgotten the danger their vehicles pose, and their responsibility to operate them safely.

Or even dog owners who can’t be bothered to clean up after their pets.

It’s a society that has become irresponsible in the truest sense of the word, willing to let others clean up the messes we create. Except they often don’t do it either.

Whether on Wall Street, in Washington, Sacramento or City Hall, or on our own block.

When that lack of responsibility occurs on the streets, it forces other road users to assume responsibility for our own safety.

By blowing through that red light or stop sign, or driving while distracted — or any of the other countless, seemingly insignificant violations we commit every day — we’re placing responsibility for our own safety in the hands of others, who may or may not accept it.

When they do — or can, for that matter — everyone rolls off safely, if perhaps a little more angry at the cyclists or drivers they blame for posing a hazard to everyone else. And oblivious to the way they do the same things every day.

I’ve often said that the highest responsibility of any cyclist is to ride safely, in a manner that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to ourselves or others around us.

And yes, drivers bear that same responsibility, too.

So I promise I won’t make you deal with my crap on the road. I’ll ride responsibly, obeying the law when it’s safe to do so, and rarely, breaking it when safety demands doing something else, and ensuring that safety is always my top priority.

And hope that you won’t make me deal with yours.

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