Tag Archive for drunk driving

Morning Links: LACBC responds to LA worst bike city nod, Englander bails, and who we share the roads with

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition offered a response yesterday to Los Angeles being named the worst bike city in America by Bicycling magazine.

Worst Bike City in America Another Mandate to Make LA’s Streets Safer

Reading Peter Flax’s article “Los Angeles is the worst bike city in America” is not a wake up call for LACBC, but we hope it serves as one for some of our leaders. For those that work, partner, and volunteer alongside us, we’re highly aware of the dangers of biking and walking in LA, and care deeply about making our streets safer for all road users. Since 1998, LACBC has steadily grown our advocacy and education efforts around safe streets, with a re-focused commitment to equity and inclusion for the most vulnerable road users over the past three years. And while Los Angeles has seen some progress over our two decade history, having to see our friends and neighbors continue to die on our streets while walking and biking is not something we take lightly.

The October 10 article in Bicycling Magazine makes some excellent points, and speaks to the urgency regarding the state of our county’s streets and sidewalks. Working to advocate for livable streets in all 88 cities in LA County is a difficult task, but one from which LACBC does not shy away. Our team is proud of the framework our Interim Executive Director Janet Schulman and our Board of Directors are providing to the organization, and looks forward to ever-increasing our presence in making Los Angeles a better place to bike. During this time of transition, staff continues to focus on critical mobility justice issues.

As a 501(c)3, the LA County Bicycle Coalition is dedicated to helping our community identify and implement complete street changes that would make our streets safer for people walking and biking. Much of our non-profit’s time is focused on base-building and advocating for policies and practices that encourage safer street design and improve the community engagement process. This is work that takes years to develop and grow, and the programs are transforming Los Angeles’s landscape into one that supports a culture of complete streets.

Like you, we take great pride in being an Angeleno, and we’ll never tire in trying to make tomorrow better than today. We invite you to become a part of the movement for safer streets in Los Angeles, and to volunteer with us in making our streets safer for those traveling around LA County.

It’s not exactly the hard-hitting response we might have wanted. But it may be the best we can hope for as the coalition struggles without permanent leadership after losing two executive directors in the space of a year.

Meanwhile, there’s still no hint of a response from the mayor’s office, or any member of the city council.

Today’s photo, like yesterday, represents the massive fail of being named America’s worst bike city. And the repeated failures on behalf of city leaders that brought us to this point.

Maybe we’ll just keep using it every day until they finally do something about it.

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Speaking of the city council, the only Republican on the panel, CD12 Councilmember Mitch Englander, announced he’s leaving the city council at the end of the year.

He becomes the second councilmember in recent years to blow off the people who elected him in favor of a higher paying job in the private sector.

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This is who we share the roads with.

A Florida man was driving 100 mph in a 40 mph zone when he plowed into another car and sent it into a man walking his dogs on the sidewalk.

And was so drunk he didn’t even realize he’d suffered a compound wrist fracture, with the fractured bone breaking through the skin.

Blood tests afterward showed he had an alcohol level of .28, three and a half times the legal limit.

He had two previous arrests for DUI in Florida, as well as four DUI convictions in a ten year period in Virginia, along with another three for driving with a suspended license, earning him a whopping one year of probation.

He’s now facing charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, DUI causing serious bodily injury and reckless driving.

Just one more example of authorities going out of their way to keep a dangerous drunk driver on the roads until it’s too late.

And on the other side of the world, the passenger in a New Zealand contractor’s truck can be heard on video urging the driver to run over a bicyclist on the shoulder of the roadway.

The owner of the company responded by calling it “extremely embarrassing.”

Never mind how embarrassed he should be that his employees were stupid enough to post it online.

………

Local

L.A. City Councilmember José Huizar officially opened the new left-side Spring Street parking protected bike lane with a ribbon cutting in DTLA.

The LA Daily News reports on the ghost bike installation for Roberto Perez, the victim in Sunday’s Sun Valley hit-and-run. Now if we can just find the heartless coward who left him to die in the street.

North Hollywood residents will have more time to weigh in on the planned widening of Magnolia Blvd through the NoHo Arts district after people questioned whether it meets LA’s Vision Zero goals; you now have until November 26th to comment.

CiclaValley looks back at the recent NACTO convention in Los Angeles.

 

State

Orange County rapper Innate followed up last year’s solo album with a 5,000-mile bike ride across the US.

The California Coastal Commission has given its blessing to plans for a lane reduction, bike lanes and Complete Streets makeover of the Coast Highway 101 through Leucadia.

San Francisco’s new mayor shows what can happen when the mayor isn’t running for president, moving to speed up work on a pair of safety projects on Market Street. Maybe LA’s mayor could take notes the next time he has a layover at LAX.

JUMP is looking to hire a Market Entry Project Manager in San Francisco.

 

National

Bicycling repeats what we’ve been talking about all week. If you want to fight climate change, leave your car in the garage and ride a bike.

Three bike riders tell Bicycling what Coming Out Day means to them, and why it matters. I’ve had a number of deeply closeted friends over the years, and have seen close up the damage living a double life can do. And the relief that comes with coming out.

Singletacks talks with the executive director of Little Bellas, an organization dedicated to mentoring young girls on mountain bikes.

Outside talks with the professional race car driver who helped Denise Mueller-Korenek shatter the land speed record for a human-powered bicycle.

An Oregon FedEx driver is going on trial for failing to yield in the death of a bike rider; the case hinges on whether a bike lane continues through an intersection. But it’s still just a traffic citation, rather than a criminal case.

A Seattle TV station questions whether it’s really the best bike city in the US. On the other hand, a Seattle weekly doesn’t mince words, saying Bicycling is dead wrong about the city’s first place finish.

My hometown is just one of four Colorado cities that made Bicycling’s list of the 50 best bike towns in the US.

A Denver TV reporter bikes to work live on camera, then learns from angry viewers that the state didn’t actually legalize the Idaho stop, they just made it so individual cities could if they want. And so far, Denver doesn’t.

Residents of an Ohio city are unhappy with plans to relocate a bike path in front of their homesEven though studies show it will make their property values go up.

Akron, Ohio is right sizing the city’s streets by removing lanes and installing bike lanes. And without the near riots that accompanied LA’s attempts to do the same thing on the Westside.

Support is growing for a two-way protected bike lane on New York’s Central Park West.

The NYPD responds to Streetblog’s Freedom of Information request on its decision to “close critical Manhattan bike lanes” during last month’s United Nations General Assembly by telling them, in effect, to mind their own business.

He gets it. A Maryland university professor says the cities of the future should be built for people on two wheels.

 

International

A Canadian writer explains that there are good reasons why you don’t need a license to ride a bike.

European bike makers, bicycle tourism companies and nonprofit organizations have banded together to form an organization representing 650,000 workers to “unite all the private sector voices in cycling, behind one vision, in one structure.”

If you build it, they will come. London opened three new quiet ways across the city, as newly released figures show bicycling in the UK capital increased 8% last year. Los Angeles has no idea how much bicycling went up or down last year because they’ve never bothered to measure it.

Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says traffic planners should consider the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, children and older people to improve safety.

British bike hero Sir Chris Hoy says it’s time to end the “us versus them” attitude between drivers and bicyclists. No shit. Especially since most of the latter are also the former.

A writer from the UK suggests that the 30-mile Sellaronda in Italy’s Dolomites may be the most beautiful bike route in the world.

 

Finally…

Why mountain bikers should be glad summer is over. And the forgotten era of women’s bike racing in the ’90s.

No, the 1890s.

Morning Links: Arrest in Valbuena hit-and-run, adaptive bikes in the news, and who we share the roads with

Police have arrested a suspect in the hit-and-run death of bike rider Jonathan Valbuena in Torrance last month.

Thirty-seven-year old Thomas Hudson was arrested at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes following a two week investigation.

He was being held on $50,000 bail.

Valbuena, who was described as homeless, was left to die in the street following the 5 am crash at Hawthorne Boulevard and 227th Street.

Let’s hope the DA’s office takes this case seriously, and don’t just write it off because the victim didn’t have a home. Or was on a bicycle.

And that our state legislators finally do something to stop this murderous epidemic.

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Today’s common theme is adaptive riding.

Bicycling profiles handcycle mountain biker Jeremy McGhee, who has developed a rating system for mountain bike trails accessible to adaptive riders. But then they don’t bother to, you know, link to it.

After losing the use of his own legs, a Colorado framebuilder switched his focus to building one-of-a-kind adaptive mountain bikes to bring wheelchair-bound riders back to the trails.

A Pittsburgh paraplegic is preparing to make an attempt to set a new record for the most miles traveled by handcycle in 24 hours.

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This is who we share the roads with.

An allegedly drunk, off-duty Lyft driver takes a wide, fast turn onto Sunset Blvd, and takes out a handful of people standing on the sidewalk outside the Whiskey a Go Go.

Then there’s this guy.

In yet another example of keeping a dangerous driver on the road until it’s too late, a British driver with eight previous convictions for distracted driving killed a bike rider moments after reading a text. And just weeks after magistrates agreed to let him keep his license.

Maybe those magistrates should be looking for a new line of work.

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Get your zen on with mesmerizing drone footage of bicyclists rounding a roundabout in bike-friendly Davis.

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Women on Wheels rides to brunch in the San Gabriel Valley on Sunday.

Maybe they’ll bring me back something from Donut Man. Not that I could actually eat it or anything.

………

Damn.

This punishment pass from the UK is about the closest I’ve ever seen without actually hitting someone.

………

Local

A motion by San Fernando Valley Councilmember Bob Blumenfield would revoke regulations that have officially taken 374 LA streets off the books, preventing some of them from getting repaved since 1934.

NIMBY pressure group Fix the City settled a lawsuit that had stopped plans for a Frank Geary designed complex on Sunset Blvd; the group had somehow sued to preserve a dangerous right turn slip lane at Sunset and Crescent Heights that puts pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers at needless risk.

Lyft is teaming with LADOT to sponsor a promotion to get you out of your car for 30 days. Shouldn’t be a problem; I haven’t driven mine for 285 days, give or take. Although if you’re just going to move to a ride hailing service, it doesn’t accomplish much.

Good news for South Bay bicyclists, as bike-friendly former Long Beach city councilmember Suja Lowenthal has taken over as city manager for Hermosa Beach.

 

State

The Folsom History Museum is offering new exhibits combining bicycles and beer. Or you could just ride your bike to your favorite microbrewery.

 

National

A City Lab Op-Ed proposes the concept of Universal Basic Mobility, based on the idea that everyone has a right to get around — for a price.

A business writer considers the inevitable conflicts between mountain bikers and trail runners as a metaphor for resolving business conflicts. Although from his description, I get the feeling he doesn’t know enough regular bike riders.

Gear Junkie looks at the latest ebikes on display at Reno’s recent Interbike show.

A Colorado letter writer makes the point that even when a bike lane is empty, it’s “reducing congestion and aggravation for transportation users of all kinds.”

Now that’s a ciclovía. Colorado Springs CO is closing the spectacularly beautiful Garden of the Gods Natural Landmark to motor vehicles this Sunday, replacing the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic with people on foot and bikes.

An Idaho man spends a late fall Sunday riding a little too fast past bears, elk and bison in Yellowstone Park.

Boston is working to improve its bike infrastructure, including a new two-way centerline bike lane, protected intersections and bicycle traffic signals.

No bias here. The NYPD continues to target immigrant delivery people riding banned throttle-controlled ebikes, rather than the restaurants they work for, despite the mayor’s promises and in violation of the city’s ordinance governing ebikes.

A bike-riding New York councilmember discusses her proposal to require crews to provide bike lane detours around construction sites. We could really use a similar law here in Los Angeles.

North Carolina bicyclists are warning each other to be careful after a bike rider was hit by an object thrown from a passing car.

A Louisiana parish responds to the collision that killed a bicycling Baton Rouge city councilmember by adopting an anti-bike “bike safety” law requiring bicyclists to wear flouro hi-viz and ride single file in groups of ten or less. None of which would have prevented the crash that killed him. Or likely the next one, for that matter.

 

International

Talk about not getting it. A Montreal letter writer says a ghost bike should be installed in front of city hall to remind politicians to “curb inappropriate cycling behavior to prevent hogging the road.” Which is not exactly what ghost bikes are for.

Bike riders and pedestrians will be included in a small class of vulnerable road users as Nova Scotia updates its traffic regulations for the first time since 1932.

No, removing bike parking from an English train station is not an “improvement.”

Scottish blogger Town Mouse gets a bad case of the speed wobbles.

Paris will now ban cars from the entire city center on the first Sunday of every month, starting this Sunday, to improve air quality and share public spaces.

The mayor of an Istanbul neighborhood is doing more than encouraging people to people get out of their cars and bike to work; he gave up his own official car and is using a bike to get to and from appointments.

An Indian cycling club will try to set a new record for the longest line of moving bicyclists; the current record of 1,186 bicyclists is held by Bangladesh.

A Sikh cyclist is challenging an Indian randonneuring ride’s requirement for all riders to wear a helmet, since that would mean removing the turban he’s required to wear by his faith.

Australian bicyclists are angry that two of the most popular riding routes have been bumped off plans for promised bike infrastructure, leaving thousands of bike riders on their own every day.

Australia’s eight-time world BMX champ Caroline Buchanan took time off from training in California to marry boyfriend Barry Nobles at Nevada’s Valley of Fire.

Japanese police explain how a wanted man was able to hide in plain sight by posing as a bike tourist in Osaka Prefecture for seven weeks.

 

Competitive Cycling

The barren dirt slopes of Afghanistan are witnessing the birth of an equal opportunity mountain biking movement; 40% of the cyclists in a recent race were women.

Women’s cycling will visit the UK’s north for the first time next year, with the three-day Tour of Scotland.

Hard-hitting piece from Canadian cyclist Devaney Collier, as she explains why she’s still afraid to leave her home for training rides, two years after her teammate Ellen Watters was killed in a collision.

 

Finally…

Why buy a bakfiets when you can just subscribe to one? Your wait for a gold-plated track bike is finally over.

And the best drink mix for every type of ride.

And no, margarita mix isn’t one of them.

 

Morning Links: 15 years for Oceanside drunk driver, ebike regulations, and young cyclist dies in Paris-Roubaix

For once, the charges — and the conviction — fit the crime.

An Oceanside woman faces up to 15 years behind bars after she was convicted of second degree murder for the drunken hit-and-run crash that took the life of a homeless man.

In an extreme case of heartlessness, she drove over a mile with the victim’s body embedded in the seat next to her. Then parked the car around the block from her house and walked home.

And did all that after her friends warned her she was too drunk to drive, but got behind the wheel anyway.

At least she’s not likely to be driving again for a very long time.

Drunk or otherwise.

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Today’s common theme is ebikes and the rules governing them.

City Lab considers New York’s recent, and way too late, approval of ped-assist ebikes.

Popular Mechanics questions when ebikes cease to be bicycles.

And the Washington Post looks at changing ebike regulations across the US.

Meanwhile, police departments are quickly adopting ebikes as the best tool for bike cops.

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Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix bike race, stop reading now and skip to the next section.

Still here?

World Champion Peter Sagan out sprinted Swiss rider Silvan Dillier to take the cobbled Monument after taking off on a breakaway with 33 miles to go.

But don’t take my word for it.

https://twitter.com/Paris_Roubaix/status/983003465222905856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Ftheradavist.com%2F2018%2F04%2Fthe-last-moments-at-this-years-paris-roubaix-spoiler%2F

If that wets your appetite, SoCal Cycling has posted video of the full race broadcast. And in a piece written before the race, a Scottish website says Sagan is a throwback to an earlier era.

All was not good, however.

The race known as the Hell of the North lived up to its billing with the heartbreaking news that 23-year old Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts died of cardiac arrest in a Lille, France hospital several hours after the race.

Goolaerts heart reportedly stopped 65 miles into the race, as medical staff struggled to resuscitate him as he lay on the side of the road; it was unclear if he collapsed while riding or as the result of a crash.

His team released a statement announcing the death, and asking everyone to respect the privacy of Goolaerts’ family.

He had posted this moving photo on Instagram just two weeks ago.

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Local

A new report shows what the lower LA River could look like as you ride through, once the existing gaps in the bike path are finally closed.

An Op-Ed in the LA Times says almost no one walks to or from LAX because the airport has made it virtually impossible to do. But those who do may find some hidden gems. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the heads-up.

Culver City goes to the polls Tuesday; Bike the Vote LA has your voter guide.

 

State

A section of the Santa Ana River Trail near Angel Stadium has finally reopened after authorities cleared out a massive homeless encampment. Although they can’t seem to find anyone willing to take the people in.

Dockless bikeshare comes to downtown San Diego.

San Francisco celebrates Walk to Work Day with a tone-deaf distracted walking tweet from the fire department.

The US Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis is now accepting nomination for this year’s class.

 

National

Great piece from elite cyclist Ayesha McGowan on the need to go beyond tokenism in bike marketing, and bring more diversity to the bike industry. McGowan is working to become the first African-American woman on the pro tour.

Fast Company makes the case that the Trump administration blew it by focusing on highway projects in their infrastructure plans, rather than bike and pedestrian trails that can revive rural economies.

Curbed’s Alissa Walker says you can’t be a climate mayor if you’re making room for more cars. Let’s hope LA Mayor Eric Garcetti reads that.

It only took Goodyear 120 years to get back to making bike tires.

Seattle’s new mayor puts the brakes on plans for a promised bike lane on 4th Street, delaying it until at least 2021 over fears of slowing traffic. Because everyone knows people on bikes don’t count as traffic. Right?

The Durango, Colorado newspaper calls on everyone — or mountain bikers in particular — to respect the land, and stop using closed trails and building illegal ones.

Denver’s bikeshare system is adopting a hybrid program to compete with dockless bikeshare, allowing riders to leave bikes in hundreds designated bike corrals, or leave them anywhere for a small additional fee. Something Metro may want to consider as dockless bikes expand through Los Angeles.

New York bicyclists ride to call for safer streets and remember a father killed by a drunk driver as he rode his bike.

Treehugger says you could solve the problem of New York’s salmon cyclists by getting rid of one-way streets. Or at least installing contraflow bike lanes.

This is the cost of traffic violence. The University of Georgia remembers an award-winning professor and experienced cyclist who was killed while riding her bike last week; the driver was accused of following too close and not giving a safe passing distance.

 

International

Road.cc explains why cycling clothes are better for long rides, and why you probably don’t need them around town.

A Costa Rican website recognizes the need to improve bike safety, but questions whether a new 9.5 mile bike lane in the capital does more harm than good.

A Canadian broadcaster has been cited by two government agencies for calling on drivers to hit “idiot” bicyclists.

A Vancouver Op-Ed says bicycling is often more convenient than driving in major cities. I’ve found that true in Los Angeles, where I could commute from Westwood to DTLA in the same time it took to drive, with far less hassle and aggravation.

Around 4,000 young Londoners took over the streets as they rode to call for an end to knife crime in the wake of several recent murders. Meanwhile, a website looks at the movement bringing young riders onto the streets of the city.

A UK bike rider kicks the car habit after 20 years, and says it feels great.

A British newspaper asks if it’s time to make bike helmets mandatory after a young helmetless rider suffers major facial injuries after going over the handlebars. While some studies have shown helmets can help prevent facial injuries, he would have had to wear it over his face to prevent most of his; a good pair of glasses probably would have done more to prevent his eye injuries.

An English town tries “cyclist speed dating” to get more people on bikes.

An Egyptian man set off on a two month, 3,000 mile ride to Russia to watch the 2018 World Cup after Egypt qualified for the first time in 28 years. And the US didn’t. I’m just saying.

Walking and bicycling could be the best solution to Nairobi’s crushing traffic.

An allegedly drunk South African driver was convicted of killing two cyclists on a group ride in a high speed crash after leaving a night club at 5 am.

No bias here. A Kiwi columnist proudly admits to road rage when it comes to people on bicycles — especially MAMILS in colorful Lycra.

An Aussie study suggests that suggests that speed limits and lane widths may be more to blame for crashes with bicyclists than bad driving. However, a Canadian study shows that nearly half of bike collisions are the result of driver error and following too closely.

A 15-year old Australian cyclist takes bike-hating drivers to task for their shocking attitudes.

 

Competitive Cycling

London’s Independent talks with the author of a new book about the dark side of cycling.

A pair of Kiwi cyclists rode Paris-Roubaix in honor of nearly 60 members of the New Zealand Cycling Corps buried nearby, who were killed on the Western Front in the war to that was supposed to end all wars. Except it didn’t.

Tom Boonen hints that he believes Fabian Cancellara used motor doping to beat him in the 2010 Tour of Flanders. 

In an absolutely unnecessary display of stupidity on the part of race organizers, American cyclist Lawson Craddock was lucky to escape without injuries after crashing into one of several parked cars that were left on the race course on the final stage of the Tour of the Basque Country.

 

Finally…

Stopping dockless bikeshare vandalism 19¢ at a time. When a bike lane is just a hippie plot to make construction workers ride bicycles.

And the next time you find yourself being attacked by angry cows on a bike ride, call a plumber.

 

Morning Links: Auto-centric Cal Poly becoming bike friendly, and more events to wrap up LA Bike Month

Good news from Cal Poly Pomona, for a change.

CPP professor Boyonabike! provides a wrap-up of Bike Week at the traditionally auto-centric and bike-unfriendly university. And reports that things are finally beginning to change.

The university’s new President, Dr. Soraya Coley, has been supportive of efforts to encourage alternative transportation (the previous campus president once threatened to ban bikes from campus). The campus installed new bus shelters last summer and this year we’ll be getting new bike racks and bike repair stands at several locations on campus.  Even bigger changes may be just around the corner, however.

This year the president created a new campus Transportation Advisory Committee that will take a more holistic approach to mobility, and next year’s update of the Campus Master Plan could provide a blueprint for a more bike- and transit-friendly campus.  Better transit connectivity to campus and discount student transit passes will be a priority, but it is in bike infrastructure that we may see some of the most sweeping changes.  I still can’t believe I’m writing these words, but the President recently approved installation of protected bike lanes on a stretch of Kellogg Drive that is being realigned to accommodate new student housing. Yes, you read that right.  By September 2017 there should be protected bike lanes and improved intersections on a roadway where a cyclist was killed by a distracted driver a few years ago.

That would be the best possible memorial to fallen cyclist Ivan Aguilar, to transform the university he never got to graduate from into one where no one else needs to fear for their lives, however they choose to travel.

My apologies to John Lloyd and everyone at Cal Poly; I meant to include this one last night, but lost it as I struggled to get yesterday’s post online despite a balky, and since replaced, trackpad.

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These are the people we share the roads with.

A drunk, speeding Corvette driver gets six years for running down a 77-year old Oregon man as he rode his bicycle in a bike lane; a lawsuit is proceeding against the six bars that allowed him to achieve a BAC three and a half times the legal limit. A previous DUI (or DUII in Oregon) was dismissed after he completed a diversion program, which obviously didn’t take.

A Michigan woman faces up to five years behind bars for doing coke before running down a bike rider.

And Michigan driver was high on heroin when he fled the scene after killing a 61-year old man riding his bike on the shoulder of the roadway.

Clearly, more has to be done to keep drunk and drugged drivers off the roads. Especially if they’ve already been arrested — not merely convicted — for driving under the influence.

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Pasadena Now recaps the hometown finish of America’s only WorldTour race.

After finishing second in her first road race, a Roseville cyclist serves as a “human shield” — otherwise known as a domestique — in the women’s tour of California.

Cycling Weekly looks at the Cima Coppi, the intense climb up the famed Stelvio — the highest point of the Giro d’Italia — named after one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

Estonian cyclist Tanel Kangert is out for the season after breaking his arm and shoulder after falling in the Giro; he was the leader of the Astana team, which lost Michele Scarponi earlier this year when he was killed in a collision while training.

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Local

The Spoke Bicycle Café along the LA River bike path in Frogtown has re-opened, after re-imagining itself as a full service restaurant.

Make your plans for the final event of LA’s Bike Month, with Metro’s Bike Night at Union Station this Friday.

Black Kids on Bikes will host the BKOB Memorial Ride 2017 this Sunday

Mark your calendar for the LA Mural Ride in Northeast LA on June 3rd.

 

State

Three hundred chefs rode three hundred miles in three days to raise funds for No Kids Hungry.

An Orange County church has built 100 bicycles for needy families.

Coronado will reduce fines for bike riders in hopes of encouraging police to write more tickets; officers sometime are reluctant to ticket bicyclists if they think the high fines aren’t justified by the offense.

An apparent road-raging driver pleads not guilty to murdering a Barstow bike rider after exchanging words with him.

Watsonville holds its first open streets event, hopefully pointing the way to a more bike friendly future.

Sacramento held an open streets event Sunday on what would normally be one of the city’s busiest streets.

 

National

People For Bikes says that connecting bikeway networks is going to be harder now that cities have built the easy “low-hanging fruit,” but worth it. Or you could do it the Los Angeles way and give up, calling the difficult ones merely “aspirational.

A business website considers how Trek became a $1 billion global business.

Once again, the cops just don’t get it, blaming the victim of a right hook for trying undertake a right-turning driver during a Tennessee Ironman race.

The Department of DIY strikes again, as Boston bike advocates take safety messaging into their own hands, with an assist from former LA resident Bikeyface — and Matt Damon. Needless to say, the city took the signs down within hours.

A Syracuse NY cycling and speed skating coach has been arrested for allegedly having sexual contact with girl under 15 years old. There’s a special place in hell for people like that. And hopefully, a place behind bars for a very long time.

A DC cycling instructor offers advice on how to navigate city streets with confidence.

The war on bikes continues, as two cyclists participating in an Alabama Gran Fondo were shot at with a pellet gun, injuring one. Meanwhile, the mythical war on cars remains just that.

Once again, kind-hearted cops replace a bicycle for kid after his was stolen, this time in Georgia.

A drunk Florida driver was busted for barreling 62 mph down the road while weaving in and out of a bike path.

 

International

Mexico City becomes the latest city to elect a bike mayor. Meanwhile, Los Angeles doesn’t even have an official bike neighborhood councilmember.

Winnipeg is importing the Netherlands bike culture along with 140 single speed Dutch bikes.

Bike advocates question whether Montreal is doing enough to remain one of North America’s most bike-friendly cities.

A Conservative candidate for Parliament says she wouldn’t feel safe riding in Birmingham, England either.

Riding a bikeshare bike home from the local pub after downing a few pints in Bristol, England could get you a fine up to £2,500 — the equivalent of over $3,200.

City Lab looks at bike scribe and historian Carlton Reid’s efforts to revive Britain’s forgotten bikeway network.

Not surprisingly, a new French study shows drivers who bike are more likely to spot a bicyclist on the roadway — and less likely to run into one.

Both the cycling and motor racing worlds were in mourning today, as word broke that former MotoGP champ Nicky Hayden passed away five days after he was hit by a driver as he rode his bike in Italy. There’s something seriously wrong when a man can race a motorcycle at over 200 mph, but isn’t safe riding a bicycle.

A Philippine graduate student finds deeper meaning in learning to ride a bike for the first time.

 

Finally…

Honestly, who among us hasn’t ridden through the Tuscan countryside with a full security detail?Even Mafiosos ride bikes, though they don’t always make it home, either.

And a Brazilian cyclist gives a whole new meaning to rescuing a kittie.

 

Insights and updates on Orange County bike cases — laughter or tears?

Over the past year or so, I’ve featured a number of updates on various Orange County and South Bay legal cases from an anonymous source.

Like the updates I get from Dj Wheels, I’ve come to trust and rely on the insights from this source to keep us up to date on cases from behind the Orange Curtain, which can be hard to follow from up here in L.A. — especially since these cases seldom make the news unless something major happens.

Today she sent me an email offering background information on a couple of cases that are slowly moving through the system. And I thought it was good enough that I wanted to share it with you.

This article from the Sunday Orange County Register shows why the OCDA’s office wants to nail Michael Dennis Roach (and his ilk) so bad.  (Roach is the drunken racer on PCH who hit another drunken racer, spinning both cars onto a segregated beach path.)  Things do not look good for Roach.  His co-defendent Glenn Michael Moore, on the other hand, has a much shorter rap sheet and a terrifyingly good lawyer.

Our drunk-driving laws are nauseating liberal.  MADD had to fight for years to get that excessively high .08 limit, and it’s so easy to circumvent in court.  In other, more civilized countries with a better grasp of public safety and/or neurochemistry, the limit is much lower, and the penalties are more appropriate.  Every year in America alone, more people are killed by drunk drivers than by firearms, knives, blunt objects, & strangulation combined, and drivers under the “legal” limit (but at .04 or above) account for 25% of these deaths.  Our laws fail to address the severity of the repercussions of dangerous operation of motor vehicles.

Danae Miller (um, for example) had a preliminary hearing on December 1st and naturally the judge decided that there is indeed enough evidence to send her to trial.  Miller’s due to be arraigned in a few hours;  I won’t be there because both Anita Sue “Stop Signs Don’t Apply to Me” Cherry and Adam Carl “Just a Witness” Garrett have appearances at a different couthouse.  However, an incredibly wonderful MADD victim services specialist assisting the Britel family will forward me the plea and any details.

Miller’s preliminary hearing was tedious, thorough and heart-rending. The D.A. called four individuals to testify; the defense called none.  The hearing included some of the evidence that will be shown if Miller doesn’t just plead guilty like Hines, including the video from the dashboard-mounted camera of the first responding officer’s approach to the scene, which showed Britel’s shattered carbon fiber bike lying in the gutter, front light still blinking.

Although it was dusk, the view of the roadway was completely unobstructed, the streetlights were on, and the bike had plenty of reflective material on the rims and below the seat.  Britel was wearing a yellow dayglo jacket with reflective material.  A blind man could have seen him.  Miller could not.

Evidence also included the dozen or so texts & calls made in the minutes preceding the collision, as well as Miller’s ratty ancient-tech flip phone, which she’d handed over to the first responding officer at his request after stating that she never texts while driving.  Two prior citations to which she pleaded guilty refute this remark.  Disappointingly, a Verizon custodian of records testified that there’s no record of the content of the texts sent or received.

Miller also initally lied to the police on scene about her intake of alcohol.  With bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, she first claimed she’d had nothing to drink prior to driving.  She then changed her story, saying she’d had “one glass” of wine about an hour prior to leaving work.  However, her BAC was measured at .105 and .106 from two separate vials of her blood collected approximately an hour and forty-five minutes after the collision.  (This amount was rounded down to .10.)

In questioning the D.A.’s theory of culpability, the judge requested a brief review of testimony in order to determine whether, as Miller’s lawyer attempted to suggest, the incident was a simple SWSS.  But Miller had never told investigators,  “I saw the cyclist ahead.”  She admitted to the arresting officer that the first indication she had that she’d hit something was the shards of her shattered windshield hitting her arm.  (At least she wasn’t too drunk to wonder what all the sparkly stuff was.)

After the hearing, I asked D.A. Hayashida whether Britel had a bike computer and whether the data had been accessed.  To my surprise, she admitted she didn’t know (!!!) but would look into it.  I’d squinted at the pics & video of Britel’s mangled bike, but could only see a dark blur to the left of the areo bars.  It just strikes me as unlikely that a serious, competetive cyclist wouldn’t have the bells and whistles that could pinpoint the location, sudden deceleration & trajectory of his bike… and possibly even indicate the exact time, to the second, when his heart stopped beating.

Incidently, Hayashida is also assigned to prosecute Adam Carl Garrett, so I expect to see her  again today.  AND (refer back to the Orange County Register article) she’s the one who nailed Dennis Malavasi.

Mad props to good stranger Heather Lohrman (hope that’s spelled right), who stopped at the crime scene, attempted to find Britel’s pulse, and ran up to Miller’s car to get the license plate number in case the perp decided to flee.  Another good stranger was present as well but his name was not released.

Just a quick and irrelevant note about Anita Sue Cherry:  Last month, only two days before her most recent scheduled hearing, her first lawyer (whose list of traffic citations is longer than Cherry’s) was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign.  And next Monday, her most recently retained lawyer (her first lawyer’s legal partner) has his arraignment for the DUI w/property damage he got in September.

I swear to God I’m not making this up.

Laugh, or cry?

Drunken Long Beach fire captain suffers a severe slap on the wrist

Is a single year in county lockup sufficient penalty for nearly killing a cyclist with a blood alcohol content three times the legal limit?

An Orange County judge seems to think so.

Yesterday, Santa Ana Superior Court judge Erick Larsh sentenced Long Beach fire captain John David Hines to four years and four months in state prison — then suspended the sentence in lieu of one year in the Orange County jail and five years probation.

Reports could not be confirmed that Hines responded by grabbing his wrist and yelling “Ow!”

And yes, that’s slightly bridled sarcasm, as I find myself censoring what I’d really like to say.

It was almost three months ago that Hines pleaded guilty to three felony counts — driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury.

Those charges stemmed from a bloody, drunken and reportedly urine-soaked April Fools Day episode that left cyclist Jeffrey Gordon struggling for his life.

And no, it wasn’t the least bit funny.

The scion of a leading Long Beach firefighting family, Hines spent the morning drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before climbing behind the wheel of his truck and attempting to drive home, despite a BAC measured at .24 over two hours later.

The legal limit in California is .08.

The bar should bear at least some responsibility for allowing Hines to get that drunk at their hands. Let alone letting him drive after serving him so much alcohol knowing full well how drunk he had to be at that point.

I hope Gordon has a great lawyer; if not, I’ll be happy to recommend a few. If there’s any justice, he’ll own the bar before this is done.

And hopefully, the first thing he’ll do is change that damn name.

As he reportedly wove his way across the roadway on Westminster Blvd, Hines lost control of his truck, drifting into the bike lane to hit Gordon’s bike from behind at an estimated 60 mph. The rider was thrown 70 feet through the air before landing in a crumpled, bloody heap.

His injuries were severe enough to require two weeks hospitalization, as well as limited mobility, and speech and memory loss that continues to this day. Then again, given the speed and severity of the impact, it’s a miracle Gordon survived at all.

Meanwhile, Hines continued to make his merry way to his Huntington Beach home, either unaware or unconcerned that he had nearly killed another human being. He was followed by two witnesses who reported his location to the police.

According to the Belmont Shore – Naples Patch, Billy Chisholm was a passenger in one of those pursuing vehicles.

“I was sick to my stomach the whole time,” Chisholm recalled. “He just hit him and left him to die like he was a skunk in the road. He had to have known he hit him because his truck was all busted up. That was a human being he left there to die. It’s not right.”

When police arrived, they found Hines in an obvious state of drunkenness, with a strong urine odor coming from his clothes. His parked pickup showed major damage to the front-end and hood — including blood spatter from the victim.

As so many scoundrels do these days, he immediately entered rehab after his release from jail, spending over five months in an alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Like Schrodinger’s Cat, whether that was a badly needed attempt to gain control over his apparent alcoholism or a blatant attempt at gaining leniency from the court depends on your perspective.

He also served a 90-day diagnostic evaluation — make that 86 days — in state prison to determine whether he is suitable to serve a sentence in the state penitentiary.

Maybe I’m just not up on current sentencing practices. But I doubt many gangbangers or bank robbers enjoy such sensitivity from the judge after pleading guilty.

Then again, not many felons come from such prominent fire fighting families.

And last but not least, Hines was ordered to pay $102,000 in restitution — most of which has already been eaten up in medical costs.

According to the Los Alamitos Patch, Gordon prepared a written victim impact statement to be considered at sentencing.

“I am a very active person who enjoys being outdoors with my family. I also have a very mentally and physically demanding job that I love. All of that was taken from me in just seconds.

“As a result of the impact, I was seriously injured, receiving an 18-centimeter head laceration, cranial bleeding, three broken vertebrae, a bruised kidney and multiple cuts, scrapes, and contusions over a large area of my body. Medical expenses are piling up from the long hospital stay and treatment from so many specialists… so far reaching nearly $65,000. The doctors are not yet sure when or if I will recover enough to return to full duty at work or to the quality of life that I had before.

“I have found myself becoming more and more upset by the possibility that the negligence of another person may have lasting effects on me, but the person who is responsible may suffer little or no consequences for his actions.”

An anonymous source who was in the courtroom for part of the sentencing hearing offers this assessment of Hines professional position, who has been severely criticized by many — including me — for causing exactly the sort of injuries he was trained to treat.

I wish to point out that although Hines undoubtedly responded as part of a pre-hospital care team to the type of vehicular crime he committed, he was not the one who would have been providing hands-on care to patients.  As a captain, he directed others on the response team.  In fact, Hines is not a paramedic; he holds only an EMT certificate (pending review), and this is probably the bare minimum medical education requirement for a person of his position within his agency.  At EMT level, he cannot even administer painkillers.  With his certification, he would not likely be the one in the back of an ambulance with a puking head trauma victim like the one he created last April, because injuries of that magnitude require paramedic-level response.  He could monitor vitals and provide oxygen in such situations, and that’s about it.

My opinion is that his interest in public safety is less about his interest, if any, in humanity than in the salary & inherent reputation of a firefighter, and the protection that such a reputation affords him as an alcoholic.  But this is just an opinion.

Meanwhile, the OC Weekly offers a scathing report on the lenient sentence.

As they suggest, current jail overcrowding problems make it highly unlikely Hines will serve the full year, joining local public enemy #1 Lindsey Lohan in the revolving door of SoCal jurisprudence.

And I’m sure her wrist is just as sore.

On the other hand, Hines acted as self-appointed judge and jury in sentencing the victim to a possible life sentence of disability.

As disgusted as I am by the apparent leniency, I honestly don’t know if a long prison sentence is the right answer in this particular case.

Alcoholism is an illness, and punishment in prison will do little or nothing to reform a dangerous drunk and return him to a productive member of society.

But I do know that until judges start taking cases like this seriously — and impose sentences that will serve as a warning and deterrence to other drivers — we’ll continue to experience the ongoing carnage on our streets.

And not everyone will be as lucky as Gordon.

North County San Diego area cyclist killed in a drunken hit-and-run; a full roster of bike events

An 18-year old man from Bonsall has become to latest Southern California cyclist to die at the hands of a drunken hit-and-run driver.

According to press reports, a passerby found David Mendez laying on the side of the road on the 1300 block of Sleeping Indian Road in Oceanside around 7 am Monday, suffering from severe head injuries. He was taken off life support and died at 3 pm Tuesday after his organs were donated.

A hubcap found at the scene identified the car as a black 1998 Plymouth Neon, which was found by the police on Monday. As a result, 23-year old Herman Gonzalez of Oceanside was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and felony DUI; his passenger was booked for public intoxication.

Yes, authorities believe both people in the car were drunk, and that Gonzalez was behind the wheel — and killed another human being — before 7 in the morning.

Gonzalez is expected to be arraigned on Monday. Authorities are looking for a man who stopped briefly to offer help; anyone with information is urged to call Officer Mark Edgren at 760/435-4958.

Mendez is, by my count, the 20th cyclist to be killed in traffic collisions in Southern California this year.

And as always in cases like this, the real tragedy is that one life is ended, another in ruins, and two families needlessly devastated simply because someone felt the need to drive after drinking.

My heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of David Mendez.

.………

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

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century, and a free expo and entertainment throughout the day. All rides begin and end at the Valencia Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd.

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, visit the free Magical Magnolia Bicycle Tour on Saturday, April 2nd from 3 to 7 pm in the Magnolia Park neighborhood in Burbank; be sure to visit Porto’s Bakery for a great Medianoche or Cubano sandwich and Cuban pastries.

Another option for a relaxed — and relaxing — ride is Flying Pigeon’s monthly Brewery Ride to the Eagle Rock Brewery; meet at 3 pm at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park. Other regularly scheduled Flying Pigeon rides include the Spoke(n) Art Ride on April 9th and the Get Sum Dim Sum Ride on April 17th; see their Shop Rides page for more information.

The fourth installment of the LACBC’s popular series of Sunday Funday rides takes place on Sunday, April 3rd, with the Crosstown Traffic Sunday Funday Ride led by board member Greg Laemmle. The 28-mile ride will assemble at 9:30 am the Westwood Recreation Center1350 South Sepulveda Blvd, and explore routes from the Westside to Downtown, with a stop for some of L.A.’s best coffee and tamales. I’ll be along for the ride, so come say hi.

Help ensure the bike plan moves from ink on the page to paint and signage on the streets by participating in the Bike Plan Implementation Team. The next monthly meeting will take place at 2 pm on Tuesday, April 5th in room 721 of Downtown City Hall, 200 North Spring Street.

Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, a quasi-governmental body assigned to advise the Mayor and City Council on bicycle issues, meets at 7 pm Tuesday, April 5th at the Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall, 6501 Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles.

The San Diego Custom Bicycle Show takes place April 8th, 9th and 10th at Golden Hall in San Diego, 3rd Ave and B Street. Single day admission is $15; a four-day pass including professional workshops on Thursday, April 7th is $45.

Get a head start on CicLAvia on Sunday, April 10th with the 2011 edition of Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, a 10 stage race up some of the city’s steepest hills. Competitors will assemble at 7:45 am at the intersection of Sunset and Griffith Park Blvds.

The next CicLAvia will take place on Sunday April 10th, with two more to follow on July 10th and October 9th. If you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again; word is that Lance will be there.

Keep the post-CicLAvia good bike feelings going on Thursday, April 14th with Bike Night at the Hammer Museum, starting at 7 pm at 10899 Wilshire Blvd in Westwood. Free admission, free food, drinks and screenings of the 1986 BMX classic Rad.

Celebrate tax day with the second annual Streetsblog fundraiser at Eco-Village on Friday, April 15th from 6 to 10 pm at 117 Bimini Place; suggested donation is $20, but L.A. Streetsblog editor Damien Newton says no one will be turned away.

The Culver City Bicycle Coalition hosts a special Family Ride on Saturday, April 16th to tour the bicycle and pedestrian improvements planned for the Safe Routes to School grant recently awarded to Linwood Howe Elementary School; riders meet at Town Plaza near the Culver Hotel at 10 am. with the ride starting at 10:30 or 11.

The Dana Point Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, May 1st, featuring a .8 mile criterium; the start/finish will be located at the intersection of PCH and Del Prado in Dana Point.

The Antelope Valley Conservancy sponsors the 16th Annual Antelope Valley Ride on Saturday, May 7th with rides of 20, 30 and 60 miles; check-in begins at 7 am at George Lane Park, 5520 West Avenue L-8 in Quartz Hill.

The annual Long Beach Bicycle Festival takes place on Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th in Downtown Long Beach. The festivities include the Tour of Long Beach on Saturday, May 14th with rides of 4, 31 and 61 miles to benefit Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city. This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place as part of Bike Week from 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street. And Metro is looking for Bike Buddies to guide inexperienced cyclists on Bike to Work Day.

The San Diego Century ride takes place on Saturday, May 21st with rides of 37, 66 or 103 miles, starting in Encinitas, along with free admission to an expo featuring sports, local cuisine and live music.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Rideadvance registration is open now. Volunteers are needed now and on the day of the ride, email [email protected] for more info and to sign up.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th; unfortunately, Yom Kippur also falls on that date this year, so cyclists of the Jewish Persuasion will have to choose between atoning and having something else to atone for.

First review of County Bike Plan for Santa Clarita Valley; driver gets one year for LA DUI fatality

The first draft of L.A. County’s draft bike plan just dropped late last week, and already the first review is in.

Writing for Santa Clarita Valley blog SCVTalk, Jeff Wilson says the plan highlights the current deficiency of biking infrastructure in area, as well as how the plan would go a long way towards correcting that.

Currently there are only 3.3 miles of bicycle lanes in unincorporated SCV. If adopted and built-out completely, the County’s bike plan would add 45 miles of Class I and Class II bike lanes and 101 more miles of Class III Bike Routes in unincorporated SCV.

Among the more exciting aspects of the plan: a Class II bike lane from Castaic to the Newhall Pass along the Old Road (13 miles), a Class I grade-separated bike path along Castaic Creek in Castaic (5.5 miles), and a Class I grade-separated bike path near Highway 126 all the way to the Ventura County line (10.2 miles), which would be a very positive step forward in bike-path-to-the-sea dream some of us cyclists have had.

The 100+ miles of Class III routes aren’t as exciting because they are merely lines on a map. Few or no alterations to roads are permitted (save for signage), and cyclists are expected to ride in the shoulder or in the traffic lane if that is not possible. The plan puts Class III routes on some of the more popular roads outside of town, including Bouquet Canyon and Sierra Highway.

He notes that the plan says it’s essential to that county bikeways connect with bikeways in Santa Clarita, although many of the existing lanes and routes aren’t on roads that go out of town, especially on the west side. And that just because something is on the map, that doesn’t mean it will be built, as other projects in other areas have been given a higher priority.

So what do you think?

Download the bike plan and take a look at the areas you ride — or would like to ride. And let me know what you think.

Or more importantly, attend one of the workshops or respond online.

And let the county know.

.………

An L.A. man who killed a 72-year old motorist while speeding at 20 mph over the speed limit — and twice the legal blood alcohol limit — gets just one year in jail because his victim may have made an illegal U-turn.

And if Mark David Skillingberg completes his probation without incident, the felony conviction could be reduced to a misdemeanor and expunged from his record.

According to the L.A. Times:

Judge Katherine Mader expressed sympathy for the victim’s family but referenced a probation report that concluded that Skillingberg was not a danger to the community and will learn from the experience.

“Mr. Skillingberg was obviously drunk and he made the decision to drive,” she said. “But he is not going unpunished.”

So let me get this straight.

Someone who gets drunk, gets behind the wheel and takes the life of another human being isn’t a danger to the community. And it’s okay to kill someone, as long as you promise to learn from the experience.

The primary cause of the other driver’s death wasn’t a U-turn — legal or otherwise. It was a speeding drunk behind the wheel.

And how will any of us be safe on the streets as long as the courts refuse to take that seriously?

.………

WeHo Daily asks if Stephen Box can beat incumbent CD4 City Councilmember Tom LaBonge. The dreaded Hudson River on L.A.’s future 4th Street Bike Boulevard may have finally run dry. The prolific Rick Risemberg asks cyclists to get involved in the Bike Plan Implementation Team to help turn the new bike plan into a ridable reality. Exploring Los Angeles on two wheels, including good advice on using transit and riding safely. Mark your calendar for Bike Night at the Hammer Museum on April 14th. C-Blog thanks a Mercedes driver for the near-miss wake-up call.

Temple City is next up on the list of local bike plans under consideration. Claremont cyclist offers a lesson in cycling lingo. Hermosa Beach cyclists are about to get new artisan bike racks in high traffic areas; thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up. A columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram says no one uses those new bike lanes, and no one is asking for them; note to Doug Krikorian — if you don’t know anyone who bikes in Long Beach, maybe you need to expand your circle of friends. Orange County gets another ghost bike amid calls for improved bike safety and more sharrows. The OC’s cdm Cyclist interviews Jeff Mapes, author of Pedaling Revolution.

The Bakersfield Californian says if L.A. can embrace bicycling, they can too; let’s not get carried away though — L.A.’s recent bike love still exists primarily on paper, not on the streets. The country’s healthiest and happiest city continues to invest in the bike infrastructure that helps make it that way. Overcoming a fear of bike commuting. Evidently, I’m not the only one who’s dreamed of opening a combination bike shop/brew pub. Placer County will pay you to buy a new bike. Forget cell-phone using drivers; nearly 20% of drivers admit to surfing the internet while they drive. How to ride in the rain. Ten articles for beginning cyclists, including one from our friend the Springfield Cyclist. Bike Biz asks if the bike industry gives bloggers enough love; hey, I can always use a little more. If you want change, write a letter.

The Colorado man accused of attacking a group of cyclists with a baseball bat has been found guilty. Dottie offers her typically lovely look at Chicago’s spring thaw. In a horrifying story, a New York cyclist is arrested, physically abused and thrown in jail for nearly 24 hours for allegedly running a red light. Despite the backlash, New York cyclists are ahead of the curve, says the Wall Street Journal, while Bike Snob says history is repeating itself. The much criticized Prospect Park West bike lanes have tripled the number of riders and slowed speeding traffic — while adding one second to the average commute. The New York Times looks at cyclists who build their own frames. A look at riding in New York from a Dutch perspective. Brooklyn cyclists plan a ghost bike in honor of the victims of unreported collisions. A 13-year old cyclist is attacked after asking a driver who buzzed him to put his cell phone away and look out for cyclists; thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

How to tell when it’s time to get back on your bike after illness. Bicycling looks at this week’s Race to the Sun. After 18 months, a Brit water board can’t seem to find a dangerous road hazard, let alone fix it. Turns out that one of London’s most popular — and threatened — cycling bridges could be closed to cars without adversely affecting traffic. Remarkably, an Edinburgh court finds it more credible that a motorist made an emergency stop, then drove off in fear — with a rider’s bike still stuck under his car — than the possibility that the driver hit the cyclist. Rising French star Fabien Taillefer is the latest rider to admit to doping. A Singapore physician calls for banning recreational cyclists from the road. Even the Chinese People’s Daily is reporting on L.A.’s bike plan.

Finally, I received an email from New York music website Break Thru Radio, promoting a new performance video from guitarist Brian Bonz. In a segment they call Hear & There, the site asks their artists to immerse themselves in an unusual environment; Bonz chose New York bike shop Zen Bikes for his song Terror in Boneville.

And thanks to everyone who has sent me the link to the NY Times article about Janette Sadik-Khan; evidently, the Times registration program was created specifically to keep me out.

Sharing the road with drunks — and worse

There are certain days I try not to ride. Or if I do, I try to get out and back before the kegs and cocktails start flowing.

Like Christmas Eve. New Years Eve. Super Bowl Sunday.

And yes, St. Patrick’s Day.

Days when the risk of getting intimately acquainted with the bumper of an intoxicated driver is just too high for comfort. And not based on statistics or studies, but my own personal experience of having dodged far too many far too close calls over the years.

Lately, though, it’s become clear that there’s another roadway risk that’s not tied to the calendar or the local bar. One that seems to be a daily, and rapidly growing, occurrence.

Take Monday’s ride.

I was at the base of San Vicente Blvd in Santa Monica, waiting to make my left onto Ocean Blvd.

I watched as the driver approaching from my left signaled for a right turn. And having been fooled by far too many turn signals over the years, waited until she actually began her right before starting across the intersection

Then I jammed on my brakes as she suddenly cut back to her left, forcing the driver behind her to slam on his brakes — as well as his horn — as she blew through the stop sign in front of her.

And rolled through the very spot I would have been occupying if I hadn’t hit my brakes in time.

It was okay, though, because she gave the other driver L.A.’s ubiquitous “sorry” wave. And I’m sure she would have gladly directed it my way as well, if only she’d actually seen me.

Do I really need to mention that she was on her cell phone the whole time?

Or consider another incident from last week.

I was on Beverly Glen, waiting with a long line of cars to make the left onto Olympic Blvd. And watched in horror as a pickup coming from the other direction made a right turn onto Olympic from the opposite left turn lane, cutting off three lanes of traffic in the process.

He then drove well below the speed limit, swerving from lane to lane before finally forcing his way into the left lane, nearly leaving a demolition derby’s worth of cars strewn in his wake.

Thanks to his slow speed, I found myself stopped at the same light with him, so I looked over, expecting to see a noticeably drunk motorist behind the wheel.

Instead, he had his hands in his lap.

No, texting.

Or consider another case from later that same day, when I took my car out to run an errand.

Just a few blocks past the spot of the earlier incident, I put on my turn signal and slowed to make a right turn. And nearly got rear-ended by a driver who evidently couldn’t see the car directly ahead of him, despite the working turn signal and brake lights.

And yes, I checked.

And yes, he had his phone pressed tightly to his ear.

So what do you think my chances would have been if I’d been on a bike instead of wrapped within a rolling ton of rubber, glass and steel?

I wish these were just random events. But the fact is, simple observation suggests that the laws prohibiting handheld phones and texting behind the wheel are almost universally ignored these days — though I have noticed more drivers holding their phones in their right hands, where they would presumably be less noticeable from a passing patrol car.

Even though studies have consistently shown that talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk.

And texting behind the wheel is worse.

Which brings up the problem.

We can ban dangerous behavior behind the wheel and pass all the laws we want to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

But just like the trash bins in the bike lanes on Venice Blvd — or the three-foot passing law in our neighbors to the east — it won’t make a damn bit of difference without adequate enforcement.

Santa Clarita to honor fallen cyclist with silent ride

novotny-2Every cycling death is tragic. And unnecessary.

And this year, there have been far too many around here.

Whether it’s a father taking his son on a grand adventure. A local handyman who took up riding after losing part of his vision in an accident. A day laborer from Sonora, Mexico, who rode everywhere. A woman police blame for causing her own death by riding the wrong way on the sidewalk. Or a man in Orange County just trying to get home from work.

And then there’s Joseph Novotny.

Like Rod Armas and Jesus Castillo, he was killed by an accused drunk driver who fled the scene — a driver who had already been arrested multiple times, despite being too young to legally drink.

And it was preventable.

His killer was driving with a suspended license, and passing motorists had already reported him to the authorities. But despite their best efforts, sheriff’s deputies arrived just moments after he’d plowed his truck into a group of oncoming cyclists riding on the opposite shoulder of the road, and continued down the road.

Four cyclists were injured, two seriously. And Novotny was killed.

It could have been anyone of us.

Adding to the tragedy, he was on one of his first rides with the Santa Clarita Velo Club, having just moved to the area with his wife. Now she, and all those who knew and loved him, have to find a way to go on without him.

Next Saturday, October 3rd, the City of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Velo Club are sponsoring a Memorial Ride of Silence in memory of Robert Novotny, and other cyclists who have been killed on the roads.

I’ll let Jeff Wilson explain:

Los Angeles cyclists and Biking in LA readers, we could use your help!

On July 11, 2009, 43 year old cyclist Joseph Novotny was struck and killed by an underaged drunk driver while riding his bike in the Bouquet Canyon area of Santa Clarita.

On October 3, Santa Clarita cyclists will ride silently in memory of Joe Novotny and all other cyclists who have been killed while riding. Please consider joining us to raise awareness of bicyclists and our right to use roads.

The 12 mile ride begins at 8am in Santa Clarita. A Sheriff’s escort will be provided as we ride into Newhall, then Stevenson Ranch, and finally back to Valencia. Most of the route is flat; other parts are somewhat hilly (but brief). Cyclists are asked to ride in silence and at around 12mph.

From Los Angeles, Santa Clarita is just minutes north of the San Fernando Valley. Take Interstate 5 north and exit at Valencia Blvd. Proceed east on Valencia until you reach Citrus Avenue. Turn left on Citrus Avenue. Free parking is available.

Unfortunately, while Metrolink service is available to Santa Clarita, the earliest northbound train will arrive after the ride has started.

I know it’s short notice, and you may have other commitments already. But if you’re planning to ride next weekend, I can’t think of a better place to do it.

Or a better reason.

And please, be careful out there this weekend. I want to see you all back here on Monday.

For more information, contact [email protected], or click here to visit the Facebook page.

………

Submitted for your approval: LADOT has finally released the full draft bicycle plan and scheduled dates and locations for public comment; Bike Girl calls the deadline for comments “infeasible,” while Dr. Alex notes that it excludes input from Neighborhood Councils. Pasadena has a meeting scheduled to discuss its new Bicycle Master Plan. Mark your calendar for the Festival of Rights to protest the illegal exclusion of bikes from the DWP’s annual Holiday Light Festival. We could have had bike lanes on Topanga Boulevard by now, no thanks to the Department of Currently Unfeasible, aka LADOT. L.A.’s leading bike wonk makes the case for making the case for active transportation. The only thing missing from Santa Monica’s new green maintenance facility is bike racks. Long Beach’s cycling expats offer a report from the road. An Arizona cyclist was killed riding with a group of other cyclists; he leaves behind a wife and three children, including a newborn. Evidently, cars really do make Americans fat. Proof there’s more than one way to park a bike. I don’t know what’s worse — that they put up speed bumps in a cemetery without warning cyclists, or that a few rude cyclists made it necessary. San Francisco police take a report of harassing a cyclist seriously. Finally, your word for the day is Traumadinejad.

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