Tag Archive for Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Brown tacitly endorses hit-and-run; LA finally says enough is enough when it comes to traffic deaths

Once again, California cyclists have been Jerry Browned.

And this time, we’re not alone.

Everyone who uses the state’s streets and highways has been put at risk by our severely out of touch governor, who may be one of the last people left who has no idea that hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions.

The state legislature gets it.

LA-area legislators Mike Gatto and Steven Bradford, and Corona’s Eric Linder — two Democrats and a Republican — successfully shepherded bills through both houses to address the rampant problem of drivers fleeing the scenes of collisions.

Although problem probably isn’t the right word. Crisis fits a lot better for a crime that afflicts nearly 50% of all collisions in the City of Los Angeles, and countless others throughout the state.

And yes, it is a crime.

One that kills and cripples far more people than mass shootings every year — even though that was something Governor Brown was quick to sign a bill to address.

Yet he apparently doesn’t think hit-and-run is a problem.

In vetoing four bills addressing hit-and-run — modestly increasing penalties, ensuring fleeing drivers lost their licenses for a mere six months, creating an Amber Alert-style warning system for the most serious cases and preventing wealthy drivers from buying their way out of criminal charges — he helped ensure that the crisis will remain one.

And that untold numbers of Californian’s will continue to bleed and die on our streets, since the governor sent a clear message — four, in fact — that it’s no big deal.

Thanks, Jerry.

Granted, he paid lip service to the seriousness of the problem (pdf). But then he went on to insist that current penalties are high enough.

Never mind that if penalties really were high enough, drivers would actually remain at the scene instead of driving home to sober up before turning themselves in. Or just pretending it never happened and hoping they don’t get caught.

And knowing they probably won’t.

Actions speak far louder than words. By vetoing all four widely varied bills — as well as another that would have increased penalties for vulnerable road users — Brown sent a clear message to heartless drivers to go ahead and flee.

Because even if you do get caught — which is less likely thanks to his veto of the Yellow Alert system — you’ll face a slap on the wrist, at best.

It took three tries to get a three-foot passing bill past his misguided veto pen. Each time weakening the bill by removing key features Brown objected to before he finally accepted a relatively toothless measure, with advocates making a mental note to strengthen it once he left office.

Which isn’t likely to be anytime soon, since he continues to enjoy a nearly two-thirds lead over his Republican challenger.

And that means, unless someone can manage to get the seriousness of the problem through his thick bald skull — hello AAA and CHP — we face another four years before we’ll finally have a new governor who may decide that too many people have been killed and maimed by cowardly motorists unwilling to face the consequences of their actions.

Then again, if his opponent in this year’s election, Neel Kashkari, were to come out strongly in favor of actually doing something about hit-and-run, he might change a few votes.

Including mine.

………

At least there’s better news from Los Angeles.

I was told over a year ago by someone involved in the process that the city’s new mobility plan would call for reducing — though not eliminating — traffic deaths. And that the words Vision Zero would appear nowhere in the document.

What a difference a year makes.

Whether it was the influence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, or new LADOT head Seleta Reynolds already putting her stamp on it, the just released document calls for eliminating traffic deaths in the city by 2025.

The new strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, reflects a fundamental rethinking of our streets, from the traditional focus on automotive throughput — moving as many vehicles through a given intersection as quickly as possible — to ensuring that everyone on those streets gets home safely.

And that, instead of destroying our neighborhoods, our streets will finally become the key to revitalizing them.

After years of never uttering the phrase — despite nearly ceaseless prodding from myself, the LACBC and others — city officials have finally joined New York and San Francisco in committing to a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.

Make no mistake. It won’t be easy.

In fact, as others have pointed out, it may be impossible.

But the key to Vision Zero is that it is a process as much as a goal. What matters are the steps taken to reduce the risk of traffic deaths, from calming traffic and reducing speed limits to improving crosswalks and bikeways. As well as increasing enforcement and education for everyone on the streets, and studying traffic deaths to determine why they happened and how they could have been avoided.

All based on the realization that even one fatality is one too many.

About time.

Or course, there’s more to the plan. As Streetsblog put it,

There’s plenty more in the plan that Streetsblog readers will love. We can’t get to all of it in this short article, but the plan includes: neighborhood traffic calming, bike share, car share, dedicated bus lanes, an improved bikeway network, transportation demand management, reducing disabled parking placard abuse, and plenty more.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Eric Bruins calls it “an ambitious yet achievable framework for the department over the next three years of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s term” and commends “LADOT’s new mission [which] prioritizes safe and accessible options for Angelenos of all ages and abilities, no matter their chosen mode of transportation.”

Then again, as bold as the plan is, it’s doomed to failure as long as individual councilmembers such as Koretz, LaBonge and Cedillo can opt out of already approved safety plans to ensure the streets in their districts remain dangerously auto-focused.

In other words is, we have to find a way to protect our nascent Vision Zero from elected officials with zero.

Vision, that is.

Two year sentence in Dotson case, Brown yields his veto pen in support of hit-and-run, dooring caught on video

Just a quick update today, since I’m having some major computer problems. Assuming I get things straightened out, I should be back Saturday night with some Weekend Links. If not, you may not hear from me for awhile until I can get my laptop fixed.

Keep your fingers crossed. 

Update: The jury is still out. Reinstalling the OS may have solved the problem. Or not.

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First up, in case you missed it, the driver who killed postal worker Jesse Dotson as he rode his bike to work in Gardena last year has been officially sentenced to two years in prison.

Twenty-four year old Vanessa Yanez, the daughter of a veteran LAPD sergeant, was behind the wheel when she struck Dotson’s bike and fled the scene, leaving him lying on the street; he died in a hospital three days later.

After running Dotson down, Yanez drove to a nightclub to meet a friend before reporting her car stolen the next day in an attempt to cover-up the crime.

The sentence was a given, having been worked out in a plea deal last month.

It’s not enough. The meagre sentence reflects the lack of seriousness with which our society takes traffic crimes, even when they kill.

And even when drivers try to cover up their crimes.

She should have faced a murder charge on the assumption that Dotson might have been saved if he’d gotten emergency care sooner.

But given the lax hit-and-run laws and weak penalties currently on the books, it’s probably the best we could have hoped for.

……..

Speaking of lax hit-and-run laws, there is one person who doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem.

And unfortunately for all of us, he’s the governor of our state.

Three-term Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 2337 on Thursday; the bill would have ensured that a hit-and-run driver would lose his or her license for two years if they injured someone.

The only governor in the US to veto a three-foot passing two times, before finally signing it last year, Brown wrote in his veto message (pdf) that penalties for hit-and-run are already stiff enough.

Evidently, he’s the only person in the state who still has no idea hit-and-run has reached epidemic proportions. If the penalties really were strict enough, most drivers would stop at the scene and render aid to their victims, as the law requires.

And quite frankly, a two year suspension for leaving another human being bleeding in the streets isn’t nearly strong enough. Anyone who lacks the basic human decency to obey the most basic requirement of the law has shown that they are undeserving of the privilege — not the right — to drive.

Our governor clearly doesn’t get that.

Instead of a mere two-year suspension, a hit-and-run driver should face lifetime revocation of their license.

Instead, Brown is fighting to keep the most dangerous and callous drivers on the streets.

Thanks, Jerry. No, really, we owe you one.

Meanwhile, Calbike is calling for everyone to contact the governor to demand that he sign AB 1532, which would increase the fines for hit-and-run — though not the prison sentences — to match those for drunk driving, in order to reduce the incentive for drivers who have ben drinking to flee the scene.

And it would ensure that hit-and-run drivers would lose their licenses for a minimum of six months — regardless of whether anyone was injured.

Given that Brown has already expressed his opinion that penalties for the crime are high enough, it’s very questionable whether he’ll sign this one.

If not, the blood of every future hit-and-run victim will be on his hands.

……..

One of the best jobs in bike advocacy just became available.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is looking for a new Executive Director to replace Jen Klausner, who is stepping down after nearly a decade of successfully leading the organization.

Under her stewardship, the LACBC has grown to become a leading voice for Southern California bicyclists, and one of the most influential bike advocacy groups in the US.

The organization has had an exceptional track record in recent years, from nurturing CicLAvia in its earliest stages to developing award-winning programs like City of Lights. They were a driving force behind the initial Give Me 3 efforts that recently became California’s new three-foot passing law, and the key backer of the cyclist anti-harassment ordinance that is being copied across the nation.

In just a few short years, they’ve helped turn one of the nation’s most car-centric cities into a certified bike-friendly community. And they were one of the first organizations to reach out to underserved ethnic and economic communities, and to push for cycling infrastructure in less affluent areas — not because that’s where their members are, but simply because it was the right thing to do.

Now they’re looking for a superstar capable of leading the LACBC to the next level and building it into one of the nation’s pre-eminent bicycle advocacy organizations.

Maybe it’s you. Or someone you know, anyway.

……..

Recently we mentioned that the Santa Monica Bike Center had been named the area’s only Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists.

But dig a little deeper into the list of honored businesses (pdf), and you’ll find Santa Monica marketing communications agency Phelps.

The agency was honored by the Bike League for amenities including on-site showers, secure bike parking and financial incentives for bike commuters.

It’s also home to WesHigh, whose YouTube videos from his 15-mile commute from Silver Lake to Santa Monica have often been featured here.

In celebration of the honor, the agency created this infographic encouraging their employees to ride.

And maybe even you.

Phelps-Bike-InfoGraphic

……..

Might as well buy a used bike off Craigslist. After all, it’s probably your bike, anyway.

……..

Finally, I was forwarded this security cam footage showing a dooring that occurred in Burbank recently.

The shocking thing is just how quickly it happens, and how little time the rider has to react.

Fortunately, I’m told the rider was okay; his bike, maybe not so much.

And just to be clear, drivers are required to ensure that it’s safe to open their car door without interfering with the operation of other road users (CVC 22517).

So unless you’re doing something stupid, like riding the wrong way or without lights after dark, the driver is almost always at fault.

……..

Don’t miss this weekend’s most exciting bike action — the Lucha Libre-themed HP Gran Prix from 5 to 9 pm tonight in Huntington Beach.

HPimage004

 

Will three times be the charm for the state’s latest attempt to create a three-foot passing law?

I originally wrote this story earlier today for LA Streetsblog. Thanks to Streetsblog editor Damien Newton for allowing me to repost it here.

………

Maybe the third time is the charm.

Or it could be three strikes and you’re out.

Only the veto pen on Governor Brown’s desk knows which way he’s leaning. And like the Corgi at his feet — and the governor himself — it isn’t talking.

Yesterday, the state Senate approved AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act. This is the latest attempt at creating a minimum three-foot distance to pass a cyclist on California streets, after Brown vetoed two previous attempts in the last two years — joining Texas governor Rick Perry as the nation’s only state leaders to veto three-foot bike safety legislation.

Or rather, surpassing Perry, who only wielded his veto pen once in opposition to safe cycling legislation.

Twenty-one other governors have already signed similar legislation; Pennsylvania mandates a minimum of four feet.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Steven Bradford of Gardena, would replace the current requirement that drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance without specifying what that distance is. Instead, it would require a minimum three-foot cushion between any part of the vehicle and the bike or its rider.

The act passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 31-7. It will now go back to the Assembly for a vote to concur with the amendments made following its approval by that chamber earlier this year.

And then it’s back to the governor’s desk, where he’ll have 12 days to sign it.

Or not.

There should be no reason for him to say no this time, however. The bill addresses his expressed, if questionable, reasons for vetoing the previous bills.

This time around, there is no provision requiring drivers to slow down to 15 mph to pass a bike rider if they are unable to give a three foot passing distance as mandated in the 2011 version, or to slow down to 15 mph more than the speed of the rider, as contained in the 2012 version.

And unlike the 2012 version, it does not give drivers permission to briefly cross the center line in order to pass riders safely, even though that is exactly what many drivers already do, legally or not.

In fact, that’s one of the problems with the current bill.

The primary reason Brown gave for vetoing last year’s bill was a fear of lawsuits stemming from drivers unsafely crossing the center line, even though the state is already largely exempt from such suits, and the bill required drivers to do so only when safe.

The current bill, which was very smartly written by Bradford’s staff in a attempt to address the governor’s concerns, originally included language that would specifically exempt the state from being sued if someone was injured by driver who ignored the provision to cross the line safely.

Unfortunately, that language was removed from the bill, along with the section permitting drivers to cross the line. So many motorists will continue to attempt to unsafely squeeze past riders in the same lane, or follow angrily behind until they have a chance to pass.

Or they’ll just do what many already do, and break the law by going onto the other side of the roadway to pass at a safe distance.

The other problem with the bill is that it contains a provision that takes much of the teeth out of it, allowing drivers to pass at less than three feet if they decide, for whatever reason, that the three-foot margin isn’t safe or practical. Even though nothing says they have to pass in the first place.

(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.

The requirement to take into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle could help prevent the too frequent buzzing of bicyclists by trucks and city buses, though.

However, this bill is a big improvement over last year’s, which would have applied only to vehicles traveling in the same lane. Which means that if you were riding in a bike lane, the vehicle next to you could legally pass at significantly less than three feet — something that happens with far too much frequency already.

Instead, AB 1371 simply mandates a three-foot passing distance for any motor vehicle traveling in the same direction as the bike it’s passing. So the law applies whether you’re in a through lane, bike lane or turn lane, or any other situation when you’re headed the same way.

Of course, not everyone is in favor of the bill.

The San Jose Mercury News quotes Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, presumably one of the seven who voted against it.

“It’s just impossible to gauge what three feet is and so I don’t think it really accomplishes what you want,” Huff said. He said the state should instead focus on educating people about sharing the road with non-motorized vehicles when they renew their driver’s licenses.

“To create outlaws of everybody because you can’t judge the distance is nuts,” he said.

Then again, anyone who ever played football knows exactly how far a distance three feet — aka one yard — is.

And to argue that no one can judge that distance is absurd.

No one is going to pull out a tape measure to determine if a driver passes a vehicle at 34.5 or 37 inches. But anyone without serious depth perception issues can tell if they’re significantly less than three feet away from a rider.

Also, that three foot margin is a minimum passing distance, not a maximum target drivers are expected to adhere to. There is no reason why a motorist can’t pass with a four or five foot margin when it’s safe to do so, as many drivers already do.

“I have been riding for 25 years, and I have seen my share of run-ins and close calls,” Bradford said. “Too many people just don’t realize that cyclists are legally allowed in the street. This bill gives everyone clarity as to what is safe behavior.”

The bill should have no problem passing the Assembly once again, especially in the watered-down version passed by the Senate.

What happens once it reaches Governor Brown’s desk is anyone’s guess.

Distracted Driving: Playing a Risk for Drivers and Cyclists

I’ve been otherwise occupied by out-of-town guests this past weekend.

Not to mention dealing with a 17+ hour internet outage, which is why you didn’t see a post this morning, and I haven’t gotten around to answering my email yet.

Thanks, Verizon. 

Fortunately, Brooke Kerwin has stepped into the breach, offering her thoughts on one of my favorite topics, the ever-increasing risk posed by distracted driving.

And distracted cycling.

……..

There’s no question that automobiles and drivers play a large risk to cyclists every day. In the last few years, technology has certainly had an effect on society, in both a positive and negative light. When it comes to transportation, technology had served as a major distraction to both drivers and cyclists everywhere.

In 2012, smart phones and other tech devices serve as a risk for those using them on their bikes, as well as a risk from people who are driving distracted. The issue of distracted driving is one that is at the forefront for a number of different bicycling advocacy groups right now. While the risk to other drivers is often spotlighted, the risk that is presented to cyclists is often overlooked.

Personally, I can say that I’m guilty of certain times becoming distracted both on a bicycle and operating an automobile. With the increase in accidents, deaths and general injuries related to distracted driving in the past few years, I’ve tried to be more cautious in both forms of transportation. There’s no doubt that this has been the general consensus, yet there’s still plenty of awareness to be had and people to reach.

Legislation is a good step forward in getting awareness of the ground and though the ultimate goal should be a nationwide restriction, it’s likely to continue to stay in the hands of individual states for the near future.

Just as many things that go back and forth between the driving and biking communities, one issue has developed in the form of whether or not texting laws should include cyclists. As someone who both drives and rides a bike, I believe it should. Texting and distracted driving have certainly played a role in a number of different injuries and accidents involving cyclists, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look to protect cyclists as well.

Already in some large cities such as Philadelphia, legislation has crossed over to include a texting ban while operating a vehicle or a bicycle. The next great move is likely to be here in California, which is a good thing because being one of the larger states in the union, what is done here is likely to be looked at closely by other states.

It’s my general thought that distracted driving and biking can only begin to come down with a combination of things coming together in the future.  It won’t just be limited to increasing legislation and influence from larger states and cities. There will also need to be continuing work to communicate the dangers that distractions and texting can cause to both drivers and cyclists.

……..

The California legislature passed a bill last year to increase penalties for distracted drivers, while banning handheld cell phone use by cyclists, which is currently legal — despite what some websites might say.

Unfortunately, the law was vetoed by Governor Brown, who said he thinks the currently penalty is strict enough to stop most drivers from using handheld phones.

Clearly, he doesn’t get out enough.

I’ve counted ratios ranging anywhere from one in 10 to one in four drivers blissfully ignoring the ban at various times — including uniformed police officers on patrol. And nearly been hit by cyclists using theirs, as well.

Meanwhile, Chicago recently banned cyclists from texting or speaking on a handheld device while riding.

And the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that cell phone use be banned entirely for all drivers, handheld or otherwise.

Thanks to Brooke Kerwin for the contribution.

New Bike Center wayfinding signs in SaMo, tears at Adam Garrett hearing, and your weekend events

No mistaking where to turn with the new signs

I knew it was coming.

But I was surprised to see signs pointing to the new Santa Monica Bike Center on my last pass down Ocean Ave in our own little city by the bay.

I was less than 10 miles into my ride, though, so I saved a closer inspection for my return trip.

And while the northbound stretch of Ocean didn’t yet have the signs indicating the turn at Broadway that the marked the southbound route, once made my turn, I was easily able to follow the well-marked path to the Bike Center site at 2nd and Colorado.

You can just make out the Bike Center sign on the corner of the parking lot

Thanks to a recent typically insightful and well-deserved critique by Gary Kavanagh, I wasn’t surprised to see newly painted sharrows — and even new bike lanes — throughout the area. Though I found it much easier to ride past the typically backed-up Broadway traffic on the right than follow behind as the sharrows indicated.

Although I didn’t see — or at least didn’t notice — the dueling bike lane and sharrows that somehow ended up on 2nd Street right next to me.

Evidently that’s just a reflection of how hard SaMo is trying, though as Gary points out, not always succeeding, to become bike friendly.

The effort is appreciated, if not always the results.

A peak behind the curtain shows there's still a long way to go

I was disappointed, though not surprised, to discover the Bike Center — actually, Centers, with another satellite location slated to open at 4th and Broadway — are still far from opening.

In fact, a little research revealed an opening date scheduled for the 18th of this month. And yes, you’re invited.

Which means Santa Monica residents and visitors will soon be treated to:

Hopefully, these privately operated Bike Centers will prove successful, and offer a model for other cities throughout the area.

And yes, I’m talking to you, L.A.

……..

One of my favorite anonymous sources offers this update in the case of Adam Garrett, the schmuck teenage driver accused in the late night hit-and-run death of cyclist Hung Do. And then calling police the next day pretending to be a witness in an apparent attempt to find out what they knew — a call that resulted in Garrett becoming the lead suspect.

No one said he was a rocket scientist.

On Wednesday morning, Adam Carl Garrett was in court again.  I didn’t expect anything more than a quick, perfunctory appearance before the judge.

But the victim’s family & friends were there.  And they spoke before the judge.  It was horrible.

Hung Do’s mom is a widow, and she told the judge how it feels, every day, to have lost her only son. She doesn’t speak English, but a mama’s grief doesn’t need a court-appointed translator.  Other family members spoke, too, as well as a guy named Scott who identified himself as one of Hung’s best friends.  He wants justice.

Poor li’l Garrett was also teary-eyed.  He’s probably upset over the inequity of a system that allows a maximum six-year prison term for a criminal whose victim received a death sentence.

Garrett’s back in court on Monday, December 5th.  I’ll be bringing Kleenex, because on Wednesday there wasn’t enough to go around.

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Before we move on to this weeks events, a special thanks to Governor Jerry Brown.

Because it was our honored governor who not only vetoed a law that would have required drivers to give cyclists a minimum three-foot passing distance, but also vetoed a bill that would have increased the penalty for drivers who text or call on a hand-held cell phone, since the current law is almost universally ignored.

Because without his foresight, I might not have gotten Jerry Browned — that’s the new term for buzzing a cyclist, which as I recall originated with the aforementioned Gary Kavanagh — by a texting driver who forced me out of the lane I was occupying.

And nearly into the rear of a parked car.

It was easily the most memorable moment of my riding week, and not in a good way.

So thanks, Governor, for clearly demonstrating just how out of touch you really are. And putting my life, and that of every other cyclist, pedestrian and driver on our streets, at continued risk because you couldn’t be bothered to understand just how these vetoes effect us.

Although you’d think that simultaneously suffering the consequences of two misguided Jerry Brown vetoes should get me some sort of prize or something.

……..

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

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

Velo Cult and the Golden Saddle Cyclery team up for a bike swap on Saturday, November 5th at 11 am, 1618 Lucille Ave.

Streetsblog hosts an upscale fundraiser at the home of Joel Epstein and Karen Sarachick on Saturday the 5th. The casual dinner reception begins at 6:30 pm with a suggested donation of $100, email damien at streetsblog dot org to RSVP and get directions.

Also on the 5th, Free the Streets unfolds its eco-visionary experiential art/music fest celebrating the burgeoning bicycle cultural scene of South Los Angeles. (And yes, I lifted that directly from the Facebook page.) It takes place from 2 pm to 10 pm at Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave. Admission is restricted to 21 and over, with a $10 entry free and on-site bike valet; all proceeds go to support the expansion of CicLAvia into South L.A.

This month’s edition of Flying Pigeon LA’s Brewery Ride takes place on Saturday the 5th, with a slow paced ride to the new Angel City Brewery in Downtown L.A. The ride meets at 3 pm, and rolls at 3:30 pm, with bikes available to rent for $20. That will be followed by the Spoke(n)Art Ride on the 12th, and the popular Get Sum Dim Sum Ride on November 20th. All rides depart from the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at 3714 N. Figueroa ST in Highland Park.

Saturday, November 5th through Monday, November 7th, the California Bicycle Coalition will host the 2011 California Bike Summit to help set the statewide bicycle advocacy agenda for 2012 and beyond. The sessions with take place at Downtown’s Kyoto Grand Hotel, with the Monday session held at the California Endowment for Health; Flying Pigeon is offering a $30 weekend bike rental.

The next ride in the LACBC’s popular series of Sunday Funday rides takes place on Sunday, November 6th with the East Valley Hansen Dam Ride, lead by board member Carrie Ungerman. The ride meets at the North Hollywood Metro Station at Lankershim and Chandler at 9 am and rolls at 9:30. The easy 23 mile ride is free for LACBC members and one guest; memberships will be available at a reduced price.

November 7th and 10th, LADOT will hold a series of Westside Mobility meetings to discuss the future of Westside Commuting; topics include Project Overview, Bicycle and Pedestrian, Transit – Light Rail, Bus and BRT, Roadways, Smart Choices for Commuting, Parking, and Project Ideas via Electronic Surveying. See website for times, locations and registration.

The South Bay Bike Plan continues it’s long march to approval with hearings before the four remaining city councils: Lawndale on November 7th, Gardena on November 8th, Manhattan Beach on the 15th and Torrance on November 22nd.

The LACBC Planning Committee meets the second Tuesday of each month; the next meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on November 8th, note the new location at Johnny’s New York Pizzeria in Museum Square, 5757 Wilshire Blvd. This month’s meeting will focus on developing a list of policies for the LACBC.

Update: The LA Tamale Throwdown scheduled for November 11th through 13th has been cancelled for this year.

On Saturday, November 12th, C.I.C.L.E. hosts a ride through the streets canvas of our city, with a leisurely paced 7.5 mile tour of L.A. street murals in Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights and the Downtown Arts District, with a party to follow. Riders meet at Lincoln Park by the Valley Blvd parking lot, Valley Blvd and San Pablo Street, with the ride starting at 1:30 pm.

Also on Saturday the 12th, Palm Desert hosts the first Palm Desert Century Bike Ride, with rides of 20, 32, 50, 60, 70 and 100 miles; online registration ends November 11th.

Update: The LACBC’s Tour de Taste originally scheduled for Sunday, November 13th, has been postponed, with the date to be determined.

The County of Los Angeles unveils the final draft of their proposed new bike plan, offering a more than 500% increase in bikeways. Your last chance to comment of the plan could come before the County of Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission, Wednesday, November 16th at 9 am in the Hall of Records, Room 150, 320 West Temple Street in Downtown L.A.

December 7th through 11th, Antenna Magazine’s Re:mix Lab will hit L.A. after a semi-national tour, featuring two urban Bad Boy bikes designed by Cannondale in cooperation with Junk Food Clothing. The art, music, fashion and cultural festival will unfold at a site to be selected.

Friday, December 9th, the Midnight Ridazz host what may be the most important ride of the year, when they ensure that thousands of L.A. children will have a happy holiday with the 6th Annual All-City Toy Ride. Routes will begin from points throughout the city, converging on Downtown L.A. to collect the toys and celebrate the season.

Tuesday, December 27th, the LACBC returns to Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse for the 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Merriment, 2911 Main Street. Good beer, good friends, bike valet and a portion of all sales goes to support cycling in the great L.A. area. What’s not to like?

Gov. Brown inexplicably vetoes 3feet2pass, Tour de Fat and CicLAvia on tap this weekend.

I lost a lot of respect for Jerry Brown today.

California’s once and current governor had a chance to sign SB 910, a common sense bill mandating a simple three-foot passing distance when passing a cyclist. Legislation that has passed in 19 other states already, and been signed by a long list of governors including Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman.

In other words, some of the leading conservative lights in the GOP.

In fact, the only other governor to veto a three-foot passing law up to now was Tea Party conservative Rick “The Executioner” Perry.

Not exactly good company our governor is keeping these days.

He reasoning doesn’t exactly pass the logic test. Or the smell test, either.

Courtesy of BAC Vice Chair Glenn Bailey

While he claims to support bicycle safety, he vetoes the bill that would do much to improve it, taking the advice of Caltrans and the CHP — two groups that probably understand California bike law and bike safety less than anyone else he could find.

His primary concern, based on advice provided by those decidedly bike-unfriendly state agencies, is that drivers would suddenly jam on the brakes to slow down to 15 mph to pass cyclists when they couldn’t pass by three feet.

Yet they have to do that right now, because current law doesn’t allow drivers to cross the center divider to go around cyclists, as the bill the governor vetoed would have. Which means that motorists either have to slow down and follow riders in front of them, or attempt to squeeze past dangerously.

Or just run them over.

And the dangers the Governor so desperately fears have so far failed to materialize in any of the 19 states that have a similar law now — and have had for as long as 38 years.

So I’d like to issue Gov. Brown a challenge.

Let him get on a bike, and I’ll pass him by less than three feet at 35 to 40 mph. And we’ll see if he thinks it’s safe.

From this moment forward, Gov. Brown has the blood of every cyclist who’s injured or killed by a too-close pass on his hands.

I hope he’s planning to observe Yom Kippur.

Because he has a lot to atone for.

……..

Moving on to happier things, this weekend marks two of the biking highlights of the year, with Tour de Fat on Saturday and an expanded CicLAvia on Sunday.

As I’ve noted before, CicLAvia reminds riders to be nice, as well as offering other tips for cyclists.

Be nice – CicLAvia is for everyone – 8-year olds and 80-year olds. Folks will be walking and skating. CicLAvia welcomes families, beginners, on foot, on skateboard, on wheelchair, on training wheels. This isn’t a race. It’s not the Tour de France or the Wolfpack Hustle (and we love those, too), this is CicLAvia. Keep an eye out for slow moving traffic, pass with care (the way you want drivers to pass you every day.) Wherever CicLAvia gets really crowded, walk your bike. If you see pedestrians trying to get across CicLAvia, help them out. (If you’re looking for a fast-paced workout ride, maybe take a long ride to and from CicLAvia – check our feeder ride listing.)

Though overall the route is very flat, we had a couple of serious injuries last year on two hills. These hills are minor, and many of us bike them every day. In the interest of safety, we’ve instituted two MANDATORY DISMOUNT ZONES going downhill on hills. These are at:

  • 4th Street just west of Boyle Avenue (in Boyle Heights)
  • New Hampshire just north of Beverly Blvd (in East Hollywood)

I’m not sure about those dismount zones.

While they won’t be a problem for riders with old school pedals, walking downhill for those of us who wear cleats could pose a whole different set of problems.

KCRW’s Shortcuts blog offers good logistical advice. Santa Monica Spoke is hosting a feeder ride from the Westside. Other rides will funnel in from almost every direction. Bikeside will be hosting political candidates and the LAPD.

As for me, I plan to take a quick loop around the route, then hang out at the LACBC bike valets at the plazas in Olvera Street and Little Tokyo during the afternoon.

So look for me there.

……..

The other big event takes place on Saturday at L.A. Historic State Park when the massive bike and beer filled carnival that is Tour de Fat rolls into town.

Sponsored by New Belgium Brewing — makers of my favorite American ale — and benefiting the LACBC, C.I.C.L.E. and Bicycle Kitchen, Tour de Fat is about as much fun as you can with your clothes on, a brew in your hand and your bike parked nearby. A weird, wild and wacky celebration of all things bikes and beer.

Best of all, admission is free. And beer is just $5 a pint.

It all kicks off with a bike parade from 11 to noon, with beer, bands, contests and other assorted entertainment from noon to 5 pm.

Costumes are strongly recommended. As is fun, as you’ll see from last year’s photos.

Besides, it’s Yom Kippur. Might as well have something else to atone for.

Not you, Jerry.

You’ve done enough.

An open letter to California Governor Jerry Brown in support of SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to urge you to sign SB 910 to require motorists to give at least three feet of clearance when passing a person on a bicycle.

As a long-time bicyclist, I have ridden a bike on the streets and highways of California for nearly 25 years; over 130,000 miles by a conservative estimate. Yet there has not been one moment in all those miles that have I been free of the fear of being sideswiped or hit from behind by a driver attempting to pass too close, or being run off the road — intentionally or otherwise — by a driver interpreting the current requirement to pass at a safe distance as anything short of actual contact with a bike rider.

Anyone who has ever ridden a bike on our streets knows the dangers posed by being passed too closely. A rider can lose control after being startled to find a speeding car just inches away or swerve to get away from it; both can potentially result in serious, even fatal, accidents, without the vehicle ever coming in contact with the rider. Bike riders can be boxed in by passing cars and forced into parked cars, open doors or other objects, edged off the road or even knocked off their bikes by the slipstream of a large vehicle zooming past.

Serious collisions can also result when cyclists are forced to swerve to avoid potholes, broken glass or other obstacles in the road, only to find themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle with potentially disastrous results.

At one time or another, all of those things have happened to me as I rode my bike in an otherwise safe and legal manner. It’s only through a combination of luck and the skills developed over a lifetime of bicycling that I am here today.

You have the power to take that danger away. By signing SB 910, you can ensure that California drivers understand just what a safe passing distance is when passing a bicyclist. And replace the current vague and misunderstood standard with one that is clear, easy to understand and enforceable, with no cost to the state.

I beg you to sign SB 910. My life, and the life of millions of California bicyclists, is in your hands.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
bikinginla.com

………

This is my letter.

Now the governor needs to hear from you.

There are powerful forces that oppose this commonsense legislation to make our streets safer for California cyclists. And it will take all of us joined together in support of SB 910, the 3feet2pass pass bill, to make sure he hears our voices.

You can write your own letter and email it to the California Bicycle Coalition to forward to the governor, or fax it to the governor’s office at 916/558-3177. Or simply go here and fill in your personal information to send a pre-formatted email containing all the key points, along with your personal comments, in just seconds.

Don’t wait.

Send your letter in support of SB 910 today. Now, in fact.

And make your voice heard for safer streets for all of us.

……..

One other quick note — I received the following announcement from Eric Weinstein about Friday’s Park(ing) Day:

Santa Monica is getting a new park. For Park(ing) day tomorrow ( Friday ) SPOKE is setting up a temporary park in front of Swingers cafe on Broadway where it intersects Lincoln. Starts at 9AM or so – come on by and park! More info: www.parkingday.org

Haute couture cycling, Gov. Brown vetoes distracted driving/biking bill, GOP tried to gut bike spending

Biking goes haute couture; I discovered this bike in the Fendi store on Rodeo Drive during Thursday's Fashion's Night Out.

……..

Go ahead and text while you ride.

Remarkably, Governor Brown vetoes a measure that would have increased fines for the nearly universally ignored law banning the use of handheld cell phones, as well as banning handheld use while biking.

According to the North County Times,

Brown explained his decision to kill the bill on Wednesday in a brief letter: “I am returning Senate Bill 28 without my signature. I certainly support discouraging cell phone use while driving a car, but not ratcheting up the penalties as prescribed by this bill.

“For ordinary people, current fines and penalty assessments should be sufficient deterrent.”

I think the governor needs to get out of the office more. By my count — and yes, I have counted — anywhere from 25% to 50% of drivers appear to be using a handheld phone at any given time.

Brown vetoed a very good and very needed, law. Which doesn’t give me a lot of confidence regarding his support of the newly passed three-foot passing law.

However, it seems the legislature may try to override his veto. Maybe that’s something the GOP members can get behind, if only to embarrass our Democratic governor.

……..

The League of American Bicyclists begins the I Bike I Vote campaign to save federal funding for cycling projects from a GOP-led effort to eliminate all Transportation Enhancements. You’re urged to contact your Senator today; you can download your own IBIV graphic here.

Hopefully they can resist the right’s mad dash rush to return to the transportation policies of the 1950s.

……..

Another two bike thieves are behind bars; the Santa Monica Mirror shows a little levity in describing the situation police found when they were called to the Santa Monica Place mall.

When they arrived at the scene the officers spoke with the security personnel who told them that they had observed two men who had been using bolt cutters to cut bicycle locks.

This sparked the interest of the security personnel because they evidently knew that typically owners of bicycles do not do this.

Then again, make that three bike thieves.

……..

This is why you always see a doctor after a cycling collision.

A Memphis cyclist dies after riding home following a collision and telling his girlfriend not to call for medical help; charges won’t be filed against the driver who tried to render aid but was chased off by the rider.

If someone ever asks if you want an ambulance following a collision, the answer is yes. Insurance should pay for it — yours or the drivers; regardless, your life is worth it.

If I’d followed my instincts and ridden home after the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter, I probably wouldn’t be here today. Fortunately, the EMTs insisted I go to the ER, where they found a massive hematoma on my hip that could have bled out if I’d tried to ride home.

And yes, I’m grateful as hell.

……..

Streetsblog says the 7th Street bike lanes are now officially open; LACBC offers photos of the press conference. The Times seems amazed that a car lane on 7th is removed in favor of bikes, while KPCC asks if the city is doing what it should to support cyclists and bikeways. And Dave Moulton uses the road diet as an example to ask if more lanes really move more traffic.

……..

The L.A. firefighters biking across the country to honor victims of 9/11 should have arrived Friday. How about Safe Routes to Universities, too? Nate Baird clarifies LADOT’s confusing stats on bikeway installation. L.A. Eastside visits the new bike lanes on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. Bike friendly City Council President Eric Garcetti announces his candidacy for mayor. The Times looks at the Bicycle Film Festival on now; Flying Pigeon will be there with select children’s and cargo bikes available at a discount. Rick Risemberg says it’s time for Beverly Hills to reach beyond the low-hanging fruit. Beverly Hills Patch looks at last week’s meeting to make the city more bike friendly, which could start with bike parking if they’d stop saying no. Why the beachfront bike path is named after Marvin Braude. Slow progress for cyclists and pedestrians in Malibu. Santa Monica lays out an ambitious implementation plan to become a bike friendly city. Streetsblog examines the unique arrangement that resulted in Glendale’s Safe and Healthy Streets program, including the planned Riverdale-Maple Greenway. A bike-riding gunman robs  a Glendale woman. A Glendora cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries when he’s hit by a car; no other details are currently available. KPCC offers a great video of cycling the Angeles Crest Highway. Long Beach’s biking expats discuss trading Long Haul Truckers to tour by Brompton.

Thousand Oaks cyclists ride to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A Santa Maria cyclist is stabbed in a robbery attempt. Santa Paula cyclists are about to get a new three-mile bike trail. Chico State students protest police citations for illegal bike parking at the same time bike racks are being removed. A Bakersfield teenager is critically injured after being hit by two cars while riding in the wrong direction. Tahoe cyclists are identified as a “major problem” because they’re the victims of a large part of injury collisions; next, South Tahoe police will target local deer because they keep getting shot by hunters. The cyclist nearly killed in a collision during last year’s Sonoma County Gran Fondo is nearly ready to ride again, almost a year later.

Help Kickstart A Day in the Life with Vegan Athletes. Urbana’s industrial-strength rear rack is now available for all cyclists. A writer for the New York Times considers the lessons learned riding across the West; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Thanks to an article in the Economist, a spotlight shines on Seattle’s hazardous conditions for cyclists. Durango CO cyclists need to observe the law; you know, so they don’t offend all those drivers who don’t, either. An Idaho driver is scared to death after hitting a cyclist who must have been right in front of him; just imagine how the rider must have felt. The Missoula cyclist found dead on the sidewalk apparently died of internal bleeding after crashing his bike and hitting his chest on the handlebars. The widow of a cyclist is forced to pay court costs as a jury blames her husband for the driver’s left cross that killed him. A Milwaukee driver claims he blacked out before his car drifted across the road to hit a salmon cyclist riding in the same direction in the wrong side of the road; police say a search warrant for cell phone use is standard procedure in such cases, which should be the case everywhere. A ghost bike is reinstalled after residents complain about its removal. Using GPS data to fill in the blanks following a crash.

Courtesy of Carlton Reid, British researchers say if you want to grow cycling, ignore existing riders and focus on people who don’t ride; interesting advice, but isn’t that how we got the crappy infrastructure we have now? A UK cyclist dies when a fly flew into his eye while riding at high speed; a tragic reminder to always wear shatter-proof glasses when you ride. A minor lapse in judgment, another dead cyclist. The problem in Copenhagen is too many cyclists. Magnesium frames make a comeback; hopefully these will withstand exposure to oxygen, which seems to be almost everywhere these days. Say it ain’t so, Jeannie — one of the greatest cyclists of all time faces a ban for dodging doping tests. The Leopard-Trek – Team RadioShack merger doesn’t seem  to be going so well. Hong Kong police start an educational campaign prior to a crackdown on scofflaw cyclists. An Indian cyclist dies in a freak collision with two motorcycles.

Finally, a UK cyclist is beaten with a hammer by a motorist for riding too slowly up a hill into the wind; a police spokesman calls it a “massive over-reaction.” And a DC cyclist is intentionally hit by a driver for the crime of riding in the street.

Evidently, human compassion sometimes skips a generation.

And I notice the L.A. Weekly’s blatant misrepresentation of the new bicycle anti-harassment ordinance is still online, and still hasn’t been corrected despite a number of people repeatedly pointing out their error. I guess journalistic integrity skips a generation, too.

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