Tag Archive for incomplete streets

Morning Links: South Figueroa Complete Street project opens next week, and updates on OC court cases

The long awaited My Figueroa Complete Streets project will finally open a week from tomorrow.

City officials will open the long-delayed makeover of the iconic South Figueroa corridor with an official ribbon cutting, as well as walking and biking tours.

Although not everyone is happy with the unprotected, cab-blocked bike lanes by Staples Center, the pedestrian beg buttons required to cross the street, and the interminable bicycle red lights that give drivers clear priority over people on bikes on a street that’s supposed to serve everyone.

LADOT has promised they’re still fine-tuning the street, but I’m hearing complaints that too many compromises were made to get everyone to sign off on the My Figueroa project.

Let’s hope they get it fixed before Angeleno bike riders write off the remade Figueroa as just another incomplete, auto-centric LA street.

Meanwhile, nothing has been done at all on North Figueroa, which remains just as deadly as ever.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from our anonymous OC correspondent, who checks in today with a number of updates on outstanding court cases.

Along with a little justified criticism of yours truly.

Hi, here’s a few overdue updates on OC cases, along with some typical ranting.

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(Alleged) murderer Justin Scott German was released from custody on August 10th on $1mil bond. His preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for September 17th. No surprise that this bartender was on probation for DUI at the time of the killing.

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Baby-faced rager Pratiti Mehta is facing a slew of charges: unsafe right turn, unsafe lane change, unsafe operation of a motor vehicle causing injury, hit and run causing injury, and oh yeah, ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON with an enhancement for great bodily injury. And since her fleeing ass provided false information to the investigating officers, there’s another charge.

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The Rita Faye McLaughlin case drags on and on and on. Last fall, I skipped a “pretrial” hearing. Turns out, it wasn’t yet another pretrial. It was the victim impact hearing. The victim’s siblings and daughter were there, and Rita Faye was supposed to plead. But she changed her mind. The jury trial was scheduled to begin on the 16th, but has been delayed again.

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Jason Roy Rocha‘s case is also dragging. There will be no good outcome; he needs extensive mental health maintenance and he needs to be permanently banned from operating a motor vehicle, but neither of these things will happen.

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Taylor Russell Evans pleaded guilty in June and is currently serving 364 days in County. His prelim on June 11th was canceled because he accepted a plea bargain, and sentencing was the following week (I skipped both because I had that gimongous facial hematoma)*. He’ll probably be out by Thanksgiving, and his victim will probably still be dead.

*(Editor’s note: Our correspondent was hit by a driver while riding, suffering what the police consider minor injuries.)

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Not bike collisions, but Bani Duarte, who was interrupted by officers as she was packing her suitcase to flee the country, will be allowed out if she raises $4mil bail.

And imagine if Garrett James McKinnon injured 12 people in two separate firearms incidents, instead of using a car.

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Can you stop lauding the OCDA sooo highly? I remind you that killer Becki Lee James was acquitted after she ran down a cyclist, from behind, in broad daylight, inside a 23′ lane, even though her victim was riding in the door zone. The deputy DA at the trial sprawled out in his seat like Dwight the Surly Teen and was clearly irritated to be in the courtroom. The DA absolutely failed to provide the level of prosecution the case deserved, and James is still out there driving around.

Young Dylan Rand-Luby served his 90 days in the cushy pay-to-stay section of Santa Ana’s jail, and is going on about his life.

I was sooo hopeful that the OCDA’s Vehicular Homicide Team would be be brave enough to set some precedent and prosecute on murder/DUI-marijuana charges, but they’ve decided not to go for murder, and so far there are no charges at all.

There’s more, but we’ll save it for another day.

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BikinginLA sponsor Josh Cohen offers a good explanation of California’s comparative liability law, which could cut the amount you receive in any settlement if a jury finds you’re partly at fault in a crash.

On the other hand, it could also allow you to receive something, even if you’re the one who screwed up.

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Local

The Los Angeles Public Library has a bouncing baby bakfiets book bike, which was donated to the Baldwin Hills branch by the LACBC.

LADOT and CD3 Councilmember Bob Blumenfield are hosting a public workshop to discuss street improvements for Winnetka Ave between Vanowen St and Victory Blvd next Wednesday.

Bloomberg says forget vaporware tech promises, and just build a decent sidewalk that would allow fans to walk to Dodger Stadium.

A bill just signed by Governor Brown will allow the County of Los Angeles to develop a program to get employers to encourage their workers to use alternative forms of transportation, including bicycling.

 

State

No surprise here, as the San Francisco driver who allegedly admitted he was drunk after running down and killing a bike rider has pled not guilty, with his attorney calling it just a “tragic accident.” He faces a murder count due to two previous DUI convictions, which led to a warning under state law that he could be charged with murder if he killed someone while under the influence.

San Francisco bike advocates want to end the city’s cap on bikeshare ebikes.

Police in Elk Grove turned to Facebook to find the owner of a Colnago Extreme C racing bike after busting a burglar. Seriously, register your bikes, already. It doesn’t cost anything, and will give police a much easier way to find you if something like this happens.

 

National

The national Vision Zero Network says it will focus on managing and reducing speeds, while defending the program against cities that treat it like a tag line or a PR campaign. Like Los Angeles, for instance.

Bicycling says bicycling — lower case — is the best way to banish the blues. Unless, of course, you’re sad because you can’t ride for some reason, in which case you’re screwed.

A writer for Bicycling says keep your feet out of our bike lanes.

DIY advice on how to wall mount your bike.

Portland’s Community Cycling Center is looking for a new Director of Equity, Engagement and People.

A Utah man suffered cuts and bruises, and broken glasses, when he was assaulted by a bike rider who objected to the man’s dogs being off-leash on a shared use trail. Seriously, just… don’t. No matter how justified you may think your anger is, violence is never the answer.

No bias here. A Colorado music professor is being blamed for a fatal suicide swerve into the side of a passing tanker truck. A more likely explanation is the truck driver passed too close at too high a speed, in violation of the state’s three-foot passing law, and the victim got sucked into the truck’s slipstream.

The subway apocalypse predicted for New York when the L-train shuts down for 15 months of maintenance next year could be a boon for buses and bicycling in the city.

A group of DC Eagle Scouts just earned their bicycling across the US merit badge.

This is how Vision Zero is supposed to work. DC is fixing a bike lane and intersection where a bike rider was killed earlier this summer.

Arlington VA is conducting a trial next month to see how well bicycling volunteers can deliver emergency supplies and messages following a disaster. But oddly, they’re charging people to participate.

A North Carolina newspaper says if the city is bike friendly, where are the bike lanes?

 

International

The Guardian says urban walking could save humanity.

Bike riding is growing in Toronto, even as the BBC calls it the worst city in the world for bicycling.

London’s Scotland Yard has developed a “shocking” 360° virtual reality film to show the dangers of riding a bike near large trucks.

A member of the British Parliament accepted an invitation to ride with a bicyclist after his Conservative party sent out a since-deleted tweet promising a crackdown on dangerous bicycling. Many, if not most, of LA’s elected officials agreed to meet and ride with bicyclists when they filled out candidate questionnaires from the LACBC, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever held them to that. Maybe we should change that.

Seriously? A UK study shows Millennials are spending more on hobbies, including bicycling, than their elders, because they have to have the latest fashionable gear and most up-to-date equipment. Which is the exact opposite of most bike riding Millennials I know, but sounds like a lot of older riders.

A pair of British men now officially own the world record for circumnavigating the globe by tandem, riding over 18,000 miles in a little more than 290 days. Speaking of which, tandems are in again.

This is why you have to ride carefully around horses. A woman in the UK suffered a punctured lung when a bike rider tried to pass between her horse and the curb without announcing his presence. Seriously, equestrians can be self-righteous jerks when it comes to demanding exclusive rights to trails and bridges, but both rider and mount can be seriously injured if the horse gets frightened.

The London driver caught on video deliberately swerving at a group of bike riders wasn’t lying when he said the car was stolen; he faces multiple charges for car theft and driving without a license.

A new British government program will spend the equivalent of $645,000 to train driving instructors to teach bicycle awareness to their students.

 

Competitive Cycling

The Continental Jelly Belly-Maxxis team could be on its way out after 18 years, after Jelly Belly announces it’s pulling out at the end of this year.

An Indiana mountain biker is still winning races after 25 years.

 

Finally…

Apparently, you ride like a moose. An injured goose’s goose isn’t  cooked, thanks to a pair of bike riders.

And evidently, there were no major advances in road bikes before 1948.

 

Guest Post: CD1’s Gil Cedillo blocks Vision Zero complete street project on Temple Street

We’ve talked a lot on here about North Figueroa. And how CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo singlehandedly blocked a shovel-ready complete streets project designed to tame the deadly street.

Less discussed is how committed Cedillo has been about blocking any similar projects in his district. Including a long-planned lane reduction on Temple Street that crosses council district boundaries.

Derrick Paul writes today to explain what’s going on with Temple.

Or not, in this case

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I recently discovered a proposal to improve street safety near my neighborhood has been quietly canceled. LADOT proposed a group of projects around the middle of 2017 in support of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which is a commitment to stop tolerating traffic-related injuries and fatalities on city streets.

One of the streets included — Temple Street — is directly adjacent to my neighborhood. The street carves through numerous street-facing residences and intersects several commercial corridors, connecting residents with businesses and public facilities (schools, parks, a library). However, like many streets in Los Angeles, this very localized thru-fare is also very large, and accommodates little else besides passing automobile traffic.

Crossing the street is a daring negotiation, and attempting to use a bicycle along it is hostile and outright dangerous, pushing any reasonable person to the sidewalk. The Vision Zero project called for numerous infrastructure changes to improve safety for all users of the street, but it’s implementation, set for completion last month, never materialized.

I learned that our district councilman stopped LADOT from moving forward. This is very surprising, as there had been no meetings with my neighborhood, no general outreach to constituents of the community. The project had been shelved with no public explanation.

Seeking further information from Council District 1, which is represented by Gil Cedillo, I reached out through one of his social media channels. I asked why his office doesn’t support mobility safety in our community. A response eventually came, but in the form of another question. “I support vehicle and pedestrian safety in our district. What makes you think otherwise?” he or someone associated claimed. After pointing to his contradicting decisions and pressing for further details, the chat went silent  His form of outreach and accessibility turned out to be lip service, a façade of transparency. So I dug a little further and found this ground had been covered before.

In 2014, residents in Highland Park ran into a similar obstacle. After years of outreach and effort, advocates found their push for better street conditions unilaterally halted by Gil Cedillo. Initially promising constituents he would support their process, which had preceded him under councilmember Ed Reyes (who termed out in 2013), Gil Cedillo changed his mind once winning his election and denied LADOT the authority to implement the project.

Pushes to convince Cedillo to move forward with the project, as he promised, yielded divisive, charade meetings, little reasonable conversation or explanation, and little actual engagement. Pressure from advocates eventually ended with a letter from Cedillo, declaring his decision to indefinitely halt the project and expressing a list of alternatives, which strangely excluded the bicycle lane that formed the centerpiece of the project advocates long pushed for. Nearly four years later, most of Cedillo’s alternatives never materialized.

During this inaction, several people died or suffered severe injuries from traffic collisions along Figueroa Street. The history I reference is well documented in the archives of a blog maintained during the time.

From 2013 to 2017, 23 people suffered severe injuries along the dangerous stretch of Temple Street near me, 5 of them fatal. Under a backdrop of this much carnage, our street has a lot of room for improvement, and our city’s department of transportation recognizes this and has done the hard work of designing, proposing, and funding a project to do so. Yet my city councilman mysteriously wants to keep it from moving forward. It’s really baffling. Is it out of spite? What stake does he have in keeping the street dangerous? None of this is clear. I could understand if Cedillo had made this decision out of a genuine concern of the community, but his decision is unilateral.

Our councilman should be supportive, not disconnecting from his constituents and making these very important decisions on his own. Is it not us who he is representing and responsive to?

The lack of engagement is reflected in our district webpage, where a photo of a smiling Gilbert Cedillo is surrounded by a ghostly shell of text, devoid of many community updates. Our councilmen and councilwomen practically have the power of kings in their jurisdiction, and unfortunately we have to pray they are virtuous enough to empower us. There are engaged constituents in District 1 interested in working to solve problems in our community. Momentum to reconfigure our most dangerous streets to a safer layout, as Vision Zero proposes, is an easy one, and Cedillo should support it. The alternative is dangerous streets that continue to fail us.

Fortunately all is not lost. Temple Street crosses through two districts — District 1 and 13. District 13, overseen by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, plans to support the project.

Photos of Temple Street by Derrick Paul

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Here’s the contact page for Cedillo’s office , as well as Mitch O’Farrel’s, if you want to let them know what you think. 

One of them might actually listen to you.

 

Morning Links: Driver busted in fatal Winnetka hit-and-run, and Krekorian kills Lankershim Great Street

As we noted last week, an arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of a bike rider in Winnetka.

Forty-seven year old Victor Mainwal Jr. was arrested Friday on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, and is being held on $50,000 bail, with his utility truck impounded as evidence.

Police have not confirmed whether the crash was intentional, as a witness alleged.

The name of the victim has still not been released, pending notification of next of kin; the surviving victim has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

News of the arrest was first announced right here on Friday, and on the BikinginLA Twitter account.

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Following in the footsteps of former Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Councilmember Paul Krekorian snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last week.

Announcing his decision on the Friday before a three-day weekend — a longstanding public relations ploy to ensure whatever you do doesn’t make the next news cycle — Krekorian pulled his support from the nearly shovel-ready plan to remake dangerous Lankershim Blvd into a safer Complete Street that would meet the needs of all road users.

The LACBC reports that he blocked the plan, like LaBonge before him, saying it had to go back to the drawing board because of inadequate public outreach.

Apparently, the countless well-attended public meetings, workshops and pop-up bike lanes held over the past year don’t count. Never mind all the previous meetings going back nearly a decade.

Instead, Krekorian inexplicably threw his hat in with street safety opponents Gil Cedillo, Paul Koretz and Curren Price, all of whom blocked much-needed safety projects supported by large segments of the community.

And never mind that this was exactly the sort of lifesaving project he claims to support, judging by this quote from Yo! Venice.

“Reducing pedestrian and traffic fatalities is something we urgently need to work toward,” said Krekorian, who serves as the Chair of the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee.

Evidently, like Cedillo, Koretz and Price, he’s all for projects designed to save lives. As long as they’re in someone else’s district.

Which means businesses on Lankershim will continue to suffer, and people will continue to risk their lives, however they chose to travel.

And they’ll have their councilmember to blame.

The LACBC offered this call to action in response to Krekorian’s misguided decision:

We firmly believe that this is not an approach that is consistent with Vision Zero’s goal of saving lives.  Want to help? Join us in calling Councilmember Krekorian (818-755-7676) and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (213-972-8470) today to tell them you don’t think this project needs to go back to the drawing board.

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In today’s edition of how to lose your job as a pro cyclist, Daniel Summerhill, a rider on the United Healthcare Pro Cycling team, is charged with firing his gun at a Colorado hillside near occupied homes on a February training ride; he says he did it because he was having a bad day.

Never mind why he had a gun in his jersey pocket to begin with.

Needless to say, once word got out, he immediately resigned from the team.

Which is PR speak for they fired his ass.

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Bid on a bike tour with cyclist and KPCC political and infrastructure reporter Sharon McNary — one of LA’s most insightful and knowledgeable members of the media — while you help support Southern California Public Radio.

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The war on bikes continues, as a tire bounds across a roadway to attack a helpless bike before leaping into the arms of a man inside an office. Thanks to David Wolfberg for the heads-up.

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Local

Construction is nearing completion on the Venice Blvd Great Streets protected bike lanes in Mar Vista, which are already being used by bike riders, although local residents worry the loss of a traffic lane will cause more cut-through traffic. Which shows you what can happen when a councilmember — Mike Bonin, in this case — actually has the courage of his convictions.

LA’s Metro Bike will be expanding this summer, with new branches opening in Pasadena on July 14th, and along the LA Waterfront in San Pedro and Wilmington on July 31st.

The presumed death of the 710 Freeway extension means there’s now $600 million available to spend on transportation projects in the area, in addition to $100 million already budgeted for improvements including synchronized traffic lights, sound walls and bike lanes.

This is the cost of traffic violence. The Cal Poly Pomona student newspaper looks at the impact the loss of fallen cyclist and Cal Poly student Ivan Aguilar had on his family and fellow students, four years after his death.

If you lost a red Specialized Allez recently, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station could be looking for you after recovering one they believe was stolen.

 

State

The San Diego Union-Tribune gets it right after a worrisome start, concluding that bike lanes have little or no negative effect on business. And are often good for local businesses, even if that means a loss of parking spaces.

 

National

A new video series explores the allure of tall bikes.

A Colorado woman will spend the next 12 years behind bars for the drunken hit-and-run death of a man on his bicycle.

The national Little Bellas organization helps empower young girls through mountain biking; the Denver Post looks at how a local chapter helps make a difference.

Massachusetts is adding a section on bike safety to their driver’s training manual, as well as posting a video on the Dutch Reach to avoid doorings.

Here’s another reason to ride a real bicycle. A former VP with Peloton was arrested at his Manhattan home for allegedly looting the indoor cycling company of $400,000 to support his lavish lifestyle.

GQ spots actor Justin Theroux riding his fixie through the streets of New York with a $3,000 Tom Ford bag on his back. Note to Theroux: Next time you have an extra three grand lying around, spend it on the bike, not the bag.

The New York Times offers a pretty good beginner’s guide to biking to work.

Evidently having run out of kids to order off his lawn, a columnist with the New York Post takes time out of his busy day to tell cyclists just how much they suck. Mike Wilkinson reminds up this is how it’s really done.

 

International

Toronto has a 10-year plan to build out a complete bicycling network to coax nervous riders onto the roads, though polite Canadian bicyclists want it built sooner, if possible. LA has a 25-year plan to create a safe bicycling network, but we’re told it’s only “aspirational.

A writer for Forbes recommends luxury self-guided European bike tours. Or you could just buy a good guide book, make some reservations, and start riding.

Treehugger goes in search of the lost British bike lanes.

A driver decided to use a new raised, separated bike lane as a convenient and traffic-free way to bypass all those other cars on an Irish highway.

A 73-year old German woman was killed by lightning as she rode her bike. A tragic reminder to find the nearest shelter if you get caught in a thunderstorm while riding; the National Weather Service advises waiting at least 30 minutes after the last thunder before resuming your ride.

A Spanish art project shows the dangers of disappearing bike lanes by placing bicycles that disappear into blank walls, titling one “Cycle Lane 9 ¾ to Hogwarts.”

After a Bollywood actress is criticized for falsely claiming she was so poor she had to ride a bicycle to school, others point out her fellow students were so poor they couldn’t afford one.

A Billings, Montana non-profit collected 260 bicycles to deliver to impoverished villages in Jordan.

There’s something seriously wrong when someone who drives a 233 mph race car for a living is afraid to ride his bike because the streets are too dangerous.

 

Finally…

When you’re pedaling with plans to peddle the crystal meth you’re carrying, just put a light on your bike, already. No, really, if you’re carrying meth, marijuana and drug paraphernalia on your bike, put a damn light on it — and leave the machete at home.

And your next bike could be made like a bamboo wicker basket.

 

Morning Links: CM Cedillo turns a deaf ear to pleas of bike riders, portraying cyclists as bullies from the 1%

Evidently, 1st District Councilmember Gil Cedillo doesn’t understand how democracy works.

Word from yesterday’s LA City Council session is that Cedillo turned a deaf ear to the pleas of bike riders begging for a safer street on North Figueroa, and instead went forward with a plan to install diagonal parking rather than the bike lanes called for in the city’s already approved bike plan.

As anyone who has ever ridden or driven past cars attempting to back out of an angled parking space can attest, that does the exact opposite of improving safety.

Standing in the same chamber where retired councilmember Bill Rosendahl famously declared that “the culture of the car is going to end now!,” Cedillo insisted that he would not be bullied by cyclists.

I didn’t know that the pleas of a traffic minority group begging for a safe place to travel on our streets amounted to bullying; it seems more like a constituent group lobbying an apparently uncaring elected leader for relief, to me. Which is the very definition of democracy in action.

But what the hell do I know.

Cedillo also described bike riders as “the one percent,” deliberately miscasting cyclists with a term used to imply social and economic exclusivity, based on census data that bike riders make up just one percent of LA’s commuter traffic.

Never mind that the one percent stat only refers to rush hour commuters, and does not count the many people who ride to school or to do errands. Or the many low income, often immigrant, riders in his own district who ride to and from their jobs any hour of the day, often because they have no other way to get there.

And this from a man who publicly professes his support for immigrants to anyone who will listen.

Of course, no one should be surprised by the cold shoulder bicyclists received from Cedillo. Ever since his election last year, it has been clear that he intended to renege on the promise he made to support bike lanes on North Figueroa, back when he still needed our votes.

Cedillo has evidently made the political calculation that he doesn’t need our support to retain his office, in a city where incumbent councilmembers almost never lose elections.

Let’s hope we can prove him wrong.

More disappointing is that no one else on the council, or in city government — all the way up to the mayor’s office — has had the courage to stand up to the real bully in the room.

On that day nearly five years ago when LA bike riders finally found the voice we so desperately needed at City Hall, Rosendahl proclaimed, speaking for the full council, “We’re going to give cyclists the support they should have been getting.”

Unfortunately, Rosendahl has left the council.

And the support for cyclists appears to have gone with him.

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Be careful riding in Glendale, which once again ranks near the bottom on a list of America’s worst drivers.

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Local

Who says no one rides in the rain?

LA Curbed offers a look at the design finalists for the planned bike/ped bridge over the LA River at the Glendale Narrows.

The Mid City West Community Council is teaming with the LACBC to offer a bike safety class on Sunday, January 11th.

Streetsblog spinoff Longbeachize celebrates its first anniversary tonight with a happy hour at the Blind Donkey in Long Beach.

 

State

An arrest is finally made after at least six cyclists were knocked off their bikes by a thief who then rode off on the bicycles in San Francisco’s Panhandle area.

Another would-be bike thief is busted after trying to wrestle a bike from a man inside a store in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

 

National

Cycling Savvy offers ten tips for successful bicycling in traffic.

Bounce back from your next hard ride with a little tart cherry juice.

More Denver residents are biking and walking to work, thanks in part to the city’s investment in better bike infrastructure.

An 18-year old Boston hit-and-run driver was allegedly under the influence of prescription drugs when he took out a cyclist and five parked cars while fleeing police; the rider is expected to survive, no word on the cars.

In more bike thief news, a Louisiana man is busted for burgling a $5,000 bike from a Mandeville bike shop.

 

International

We all know about the most popular bicycling movies, but what about the top five unknown cycling films?

No, really, the doping era in pro cycling is over. Even though a Mexican rider was arrested smuggling EPO through an airport.

Turns out bicyclists in the UK’s north may be marginally tougher than their southern counterparts.

Excerpts from a new book reveal the ugly drug-fueled final days of Italian cycling legend Marco Pantani.

 

Finally…

No, seriously, if you’re going to rob a pedestrian while riding your bike, make sure he’s got more than $7 on him first. It might have been more helpful if advice on how to bike home with your Christmas tree had come before most people had already bought one.

And caught on video: A cyclist survives a collision with a hit-and-run deer that violated his right-of-way, then fled the scene without stopping to render aid or exchange IDs.

Today’s post, in which I beat a dead horse

Let’s take a quick look back at last week’s LADOT controversy, before I move on to other subjects.

As you may recall, last Monday I broke the news that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation was secretly planning to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd, which would have necessitated the removal of two miles of existing bike lanes, as well as the cancellation of another long-planned — and long delayed — 3-mile extension.

This came to light courtesy of Glenn Bailey, chairman of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He had learned of the plans in an official LADOT status report to the BAC, which indicated that the planned extension conflicted with “peak hour usage in the near future.” Bailey then confirmed those plans in a conversation with Ken Firoozmand, Transportation Engineer for the West Valley division of LADOT.

The response was overwhelming, as the story quickly spread through the Internet. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition issued an action alert from urging cyclists to attend a meeting of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, which was planning to vote on a resolution in support of the plan after learning about it from Bailey; the large, highly motivated turnout resulted in a unanimous vote against the peak hour lanes.

And that’s when the inevitable backlash began.

Representatives from LADOT contacted both Streetsblog and LAist, insisting that the agency had no plans to install peak hour lanes on Reseda and that “…It was all based on rumor, nothing that we had propagated.”

Obviously, they were mistaken. Or lying. I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt; others didn’t.

Joe Linton, BAC member and founder of the LACBC, responded by providing the original document revealing the existence of the peak lane plan, and expressed concern for the LADOT staffer who was only doing his job in providing that information to the BAC.

Meanwhile, Glenn Bailey circulated an open letter providing full details of how he became aware of the plan and confirmed its existence with Firoozmand. He also pointed out the Notice of Street Work for a one-mile section of Reseda where the proposed bike lanes would go, which local residents were concerned would provide an opportunity to install the peak hour lanes; Glenn has requested that this section be restriped for the long-promised bike lanes, instead.

A commenter on Streetsblog noted that the bridge over the viaduct near Victory Boulevard was widened with the express purpose of turning the Reseda into a major north-south thoroughfare. In my initial conversation with Bailey, he’d quoted Firoozmand as saying “We wouldn’t have widened the bridge if we weren’t planning to include peak hour lanes. The only reason I didn’t include that in the initial story only because I had failed to write down which bridge he was referring to.

Yet incredibly, when LADOT was confronted with proof of the plan, they stuck by their initial denials. Damien at Streetblog offered this official response from LADOT:

The information provided yesterday is accurate and still stands: the Department has no current plans to remove any portion of the bike lane or to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Note the key word “current.”

All they had to do was acknowledge their error, and admit that a plan had been considered but was no longer under consideration — whether or not that had anything to do with the massive response in opposition to the plan.

Instead, they chose to engage in a cover-up — not exactly the kind of open, honest government we have a right to expect as citizen of a democratic society. And in the process, they continued to smear both Glenn Bailey and me as the unnamed sources of those unfounded “rumors.”

Unfortunately, as of this writing, a few local websites still haven’t corrected the stories based on LADOT’s false denials, despite the overwhelming proof to the contrary.

And a full week later, none of the council members I contacted before publishing the initial story — Rosendahl, Kortetz, Zine and Smith — has bothered to respond in any way.

Meanwhile, Joe Linton has written an open letter to Rita Robinson, General Manager of the LADOT, as well as Mayor Villaraigosa, Council President Garcetti, and Council Members Rosendahl, Smith, and Zine. It reads in part:

It doesn’t surprise me that LADOT would favor a peak lane plan that would increase capacity for cars, indeed this is LADOT’s job and what LADOT has historically successfully focused on. What surprises me is that LADOT staff lied. Governmental agencies depend on the trust of the public to make our city work. When LADOT staff deny something that LADOT staff have already put in writing, this duplicity damages the public trust and makes it difficult for all of us to work together in the future.

I urge you to work with your staff to be honest, clear and transparent and to rebuild the public trust that their actions have strained. I also urge you to immediately implement the long-delayed bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Meanwhile, the LACBC has sent out another Action Alert calling attention to the LADOT’s false denials, and urging everyone to contact the appropriate officials:

Some of you may have been getting letters assuring you that the bike lane was never going to be removed and that this was all a rumor.  Due to the overwhelming response to this threat, it seems that DOT has retracted their plan and is now claiming that there is currently no plan to install a peak hour lane.

We want to make sure that there will never be a plan to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd.

Let’s install the already approved bike lanes on Reseda Blvd!

Due to your emails and the extreme circumstances of this issue, Mayoral staff requested a meeting with LACBC. They suggested that if there is community consensus, a bike lane could be completed this year.

Here’s what you can do:

Please write to Councilmembers Smith and Zine and let them know that you would like to see the already approved extension of the Bike Lane of Reseda Blvd from Vanowen to Rinaldi installed by the end of 2009.

Please send in and email your letters to:

Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine
200 North Spring Street, Suite 450
Los Angeles, CA 90012
[email protected]
Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Greig Smith
200 North Spring Street, Suite 405
Los Angeles, CA 90012
[email protected]Jonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine
[email protected]

Phyllis Winger, Chief Planning Deputy for Greig Smith
[email protected]

Honorable Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
[email protected]

It’s your government. And it’s up to you to decide whether to accept secret plans and cover-ups. Or whether you’re going to do something about it.

This just in: Did LADOT lie? Or don’t they even know what they’re doing?

Earlier this evening, Joe Linton left the following comment on today’s post — about LADOT’s official denial of any plans to put peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard — which I’ve moved up here to give it the attention it deserves:

The LADOT owes you an apology, Ted! Bicyclists were responding to an earlier document from LADOT that pretty clearly states that they intended to implement the peak hour parking restrictions, and put the bike lane project on hold. From the June report from the LADOT bikeway engineer to the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee – regarding the status of the Reseda lanes: “West Valley District does not concur with the [Reseda bike lane] project, cites peak hour lane usage in near future.”

See the original LADOT report document here: http://glatwg.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/bike_lane_projects_in_progress1.pdf

Cyclists deserve an apology from the LADOT for their lie… and the immediate implementation of the long-delayed Reseda bike lanes.

Note item #8 from the LADOT document:

Reseda-1

And note the status report:

Reseda-Cropped

The question is, did LADOT intentionally lie to us? Or do they honestly not know what their various divisions are doing?

I don’t know which possibility scares me more.

Thanks, Joe. I owe you one.

But I’m not going to hold my breath on that apology.

Update: 8-14-09, 3pm:

BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey has written a detailed rebuttal to LADOT’s denial of their plans to install a peak hour lane on Reseda Blvd. Damien Newton has put the full text of Glenn’s letter online at Streetsblog — and says he doesn’t believes that LADOT intentionally misled him.

LADOT: We didn’t do it, nobody saw us do it, you can’t prove anything*

We could declare victory. But the opposition now claims they were never playing.

In fact, they have no idea what we were even talking about.

No, really.

I first heard about the West Valley DOT’s plans to install Peak Hour Lanes on Reseda Boulevard when I was sitting in on the meeting of the Bike Advisory Committee last week. Committee Chairman Glenn Bailey mentioned it in passing, saying he’d like it added to the agenda for the next meeting.

He said it had come to light when bike planners had tried to coordinate with their West Valley counterparts about installing another three miles of bike lanes on Reseda, and were told not to bother because it wasn’t going to happen. The decision had been made to go with the peak hour lanes instead.

In speaking with Glenn later, he related a conversation with a district engineer who confirmed the plans.

Yet a spokeswoman for the LADOT now tells Damien Newton that there were never any plans to install peak hour lanes or to remove the existing bike lane.

Fair enough.

Maybe a few rogue engineers had been acting on their own without getting approval from their superiors. Maybe it was only under consideration and they were just making preparations in case such a plan was approved.

Or maybe they were surprised by the overwhelming opposition from the cycling community, and are now in full backpedal mode, sounding like Sgt. Schultz as they deny any knowledge of any such plan.

As Stephen Box sagely points out, the fact that the old bike plan called for a bike lane the full length of Reseda, while the new bike plan calls that “currently infeasible,” indicates that someone, somewhere made a decision to do something else with the boulevard.

But that’s the advantage of secret plans.

They’re easy to deny if anyone finds out.

*Also known as the Bart Simpson approach to public relations

……….

Bike Date uncovers the latest high-tech bike prototype, complete with biodegradable wheels. Metblogs notes the opening of Bikrowave 3.0. Stephen Colbert offers his tips for cyclists. A blogger questions the quality of police investigations of cycling accidents — scroll down for some fascinating insights from a retired cop. Following the recent attempted shooting of a cyclist, an Asheville writer calls for a peace treaty between cyclists and drivers. Four years after a near fatal collision on the same spot, a New York cyclist marks the opening of a new protected approach to the Manhattan Bridge. A new Missouri law allows bikes and motorcycles to run red lights if they fail to change. A Minneapolis-area driver attacks a cyclist with an ax following an on-road dispute. The author of the new Colorado Bike Safety bill explains how it should benefit cyclists and drivers. Finally, a Louisiana cyclist is stopped for riding with a three-foot alligator on his shoulders.

Incomplete Streets: A line in the sand — and on the street

The line is drawn.

At first, I didn’t notice a lot of excitement following yesterday’s post about the West Valley DOT’s secret plan to remove two miles of existing bike lanes from Reseda Blvd, along with another three miles of planned lanes.

Then Damien at Streetsblog picked up the story.

The next thing I knew, it was featured on the website of KPFK and a topic of discussion on the Ridazz forum and on Los Angeles Fixed Gear, as well as countless Facebook and Twitter pages. LAist gave it a brief mention, as did the Examiner.

And the LACBC sent out an action alert late in the day — thought they failed to give BAC Chairman Glenn Bailey credit for his legwork in bringing this to light:

EMERGENCY ACTION NEEDED:

STOP THE REMOVAL OF RESEDA BIKE LANES!

TAKE ACTION TODAY!!

Unbelievably, LADOT’s West Valley office has proposed to REMOVE the existing bike lanes on Reseda Blvd. between Ventura Blvd. and Vanowen to make room for peak hour traffic lanes.  The City’s current Bicycle Master Plan actually calls for extending these lanes three miles farther north, which would also be killed by plans to run the peak hour lanes there as well.

There is a motion in favor of the Peak Hour Lane proposal before the Northridge West Neighborhood Council Tuesday night at 7pm, in the auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School, at 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge.

What you can do:

1) Attend this meeting and oppose this outrageous plan!

Where: 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge

Auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School

When: Tuesday 7 pm

2) Contact the local Council Member, Dennis Zine, to let him know how you feel!

Jonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine

[email protected]

213-473-7003

200 N. Spring Street, Rm 450

Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 473-7003 Tele

(213) 485-8988 Fax

3) Contact LA Mayor Deputy Borja Leon [email protected] and Deputy Mayor Transportation Jaime de la Vega [email protected]

Key points:

• Rather than removing the bike lanes on Reseda, they need to be extended north three miles as called for in the current Bicycle Master Plan

• The current Bicycle Master Plan also stipulates that before any bike lanes are removed, there must be a public hearing before the Transportation Commission. -Insist that this procedure be followed.

• Peak hour lanes have also been installed recently on Balboa, De Soto, Tampa and Topanga Cyn Blvd., key arterials in an area that serves cyclists poorly.

• Are the peak hour lanes were actually needed?

This is a significant move backwards on bicycling issues in Los Angeles.  With the LA Bicycle Plan soon to be released, we need to take positive steps forward.

According to Glenn, the result was a great last minute turnout at the Northridge West Neighborhood Council meeting last night — with over 60 “bicyclists, homeowners, residents and stakeholders” — which he was told was their largest crowd ever.

And as a result, they voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

Unfortunately this is only the beginning. A line has been drawn, but it’s going to be a long, hard fight.

So don’t stop just because we’ve won the first battle. Call or write your councilmember, as well as councilmembers Zine and Smith, who represent the districts affected, along with the deputy mayors listed in the LACBC alert.

As Glenn put it,

This effort has just begun, and it won’t be easy.  Fighting City Hall never is.  But that will make our ultimate victory that much more significant.

…………

Evidently I inadvertently broke the news about the new Transportation Committee officers. Oops. A cyclist collided with a deer on Angeles Crest Highway over the weekend; L.A.’s Cycling Examiner says be prepared to offer first aid in an emergency. Green LA Girl calls our attention to this weekend’s Bike Day LA. Stephen Box calls on LADOT to slow down its mad rush to approve higher speed limits that risk everyone’s safety. Bike Date looks at Idaho Stops and bike lanes that disappear at intersections. Someone is attacking Wilmington, DE cyclists and joggers with blow darts. The Philadelphia Enquirer says it’s time for détente between cyclists and drivers. A Boston writer uses the cycling death of her own daughter to call for fairer treatment for bicyclists. Following a typical anti-cyclist rant, a Baltimore writer says we all have to share the road. Finally, after a conflict between Critical Mass riders and a driver in the bike Mecca of Ogden, Utah, the mayor plans to ride with cyclists. Yeah, like that could ever happen here.

Incomplete Streets: DOT’s secret plan to take away your bike lanes

Prepare to get mad.Parking-Sign

Because this is a city that lacks even a minimally sufficient level of biking infrastructure. A city where the new bike plan fails to include a number of routes proposed in the previous plan that no one ever got around to building. And where the vast majority of potential routes that cyclists might actually use are considered “currently infeasible.”

Yet the Department of Transportation is preparing to remove an already existing bike lane in the San Fernando Valley.

That’s right.

West Valley traffic planners intend to erase the thin line of paint that carves out just a tiny fraction of Reseda Boulevard for bicyclists, just to feed an ever increasing need for motorized vehicle capacity. Regardless of what effect that might have on the safety of cyclists. Or the livability, and sustainability, of our city.

Or maybe they just didn’t get the memo that there are other road users on the streets of L.A.

And now it’s up to us to stop them.

Not surprising, they’ve done their best to keep local residents and business people in the dark — along with the area Chambers of Commerce and all three of the Neighborhood Councils in the effected area.

Then again, the people who live and work in the affected area shouldn’t feel alone. The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, and even the DOT’s own bicycle planning department, were kept out of the loop, as well.

Evidently, as far as the West Valley DOT was concerned, it was on a need to know basis. And anyone who might possibly object didn’t need to know — even though public hearings are required before removing an existing bike lane.

According to BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey, it only came to light when bike planning engineers tried to coordinate with the West Valley traffic engineers about long-standing plans to add another three miles of bike lanes, and eventually extend the current bike lane the full length of Reseda Blvd.

Instead, they were told not to waste their time. The WVDOT had already overridden those plans in order to create Peak Hour Lanes along Reseda Boulevard — meaning that all on-street parking will be banned during peak hours.

As a result, the three miles of planned bike lanes, which would have run next to the parking lane, were no longer under consideration. And a full two miles of the existing bike lanes on both sides of the road between Van Owen and Ventura Boulevard would have to be removed.

Similar Peak Hour Lanes have recently been installed along Balboa, Tampa and De Soto, as well as Topanga Canyon Blvd — a state highway where CalTrans had been willing to put in a bike lane, but was overridden by the DOT’s inexplicable lust for maximum motorized throughput at the expense of any form of alternative transportation. Even though research shows half of all car trips could be walked or biked.

Evidently, four north/south Peak Hour routes within just a few miles aren’t enough, even though evidence has repeatedly shown increasing capacity usually results in short term gains, at best.

Of course, when Glenn tried to get more information, his emails were ignored — despite that fact that he chairs a supposedly important civic committee and was appointed by the mayor himself.

Then when he finally reached the West Valley District Engineer by phone to ask about the cancelation of the planned extension, he was told “I’m not going to put in a bike lane for one or two bicyclists.”

This despite the fact that neither the city, nor anyone else, has yet conducted an accurate survey of existing ridership along the route, or potential ridership if the route is completed. And the fact that a completed bike lane would serve Cal State Northridge, as well as other area schools, and countless commuters who might feel more comfortable riding to work if they had a dedicated lane to ride in.

Instead, area residents will be forced to contend with high speed, curb-to-curb traffic, which will only serve to discourage cyclists and pedestrians, while putting both groups at greater risk.

Not to mention the inconvenience faced by people who live along Reseda, who will no longer be able to park in front of their homes and apartments. Then there’s the impact an unexpected loss of street parking will have on local businesses already struggling to survive in an adverse economy.

It’s only a bike lane.

But removing it would establish a dangerous precedent, putting every bike lane in the city at risk. And rendering the proposed Bike Plan meaningless, because even existing routes could be eliminated at any time, for any reason.

Mad enough yet?

It’s draw a line in the sand. And fight back.

There is a motion in favor of the Peak Hour Lane proposal before the Northridge West Neighborhood Council Tuesday night at 7p, in the auditorium of Beckford Avenue Elementary School, at 19130 Tulsa Street in Northridge.

If you live or ride in the Valley, I encourage you to join Glenn at this meeting to oppose the motion and fight for your bike lanes. Or if you can’t make it, email your comments to Glenn at glennbaileysfv @ yahoo . com (remove spaces).

And contact your councilmember — as well as councilmembers Greig Smith and Dennis Zine, who represent to affected area — to demand a halt to this misguided, short-sighted plan.

Because it may just be a bike lane. But it — and what it represents — couldn’t be more important.

I emailed councilmembers Smith and Zine to ask for their comments, along with Transportation Committee Chairperson Bill Rosendahl, and my own councilperson, Paul Koretz, Vice Chairperson of the Transportation Committee. So far, I haven’t received a response from any of them; if it turns out someone actually cares enough to get back to me about this, I’ll let you know.

………

Like me, Will Campbell comes down squarely in the helmet-wearing camp. Flying Pigeon announces this month’s non-Dim Sum ride. Enci and Stephen are looking for volunteers for what could just be the coolest bike ride in L.A. Allstate says L.A. and Glendale drivers are among the worst in the nation. Well, duh. L.A. Creek Freak examines construction on the L.A. River Bikeway. Detroit shock jocks say they’d love to lob something at your head. Lance Armstrong urges Colorado’s governor to revive the great bike stage races of the ‘70s and ‘80s. A newspaper in Rochester, MN argues that bike-friendly streets need bike-friendly drivers, while New Mexico cyclists argue for safer streets. A bikeway named after America’s first black cycling champion is treated with as much respect as he was. In other words, not much. With a little luck, you can buy former Talking Head David Byrne’s folding bike on E-Bay. Spanish riders get the world’s longest bicycle commuter tunnel. Finally, if you’ve ever felt like your bike could fly, an English cyclist proves you may just be right.

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