Tag Archive for Jefferson Blvd

Bike lanes and possible road diet on Fiji Way; split decision in Earl Cox Angeles Crest road rage case

Just a few quick notes to start the week before I either A) go out for the ride I’d planned, or B) succumb to the heat and follow the dog’s example by going back to sleep.

Right now, I’d say it could go either way.

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Evidently, the county is taking their new commitment to bike-friendliness seriously, as shown by the beefed-up bike plan recently adopted by county supervisors.

A recent ride through the Marina revealed that commitment is about to make its way onto the pavement, if it hasn’t already.

Riders who take the beachfront Marvin Bruade bike path, aka South Bay and Santa Monica bike paths, through Marina del Rey have long been frustrated by the condition of the bikeway through the County-owned lands.

As if the cracked and crumbling, tree-root upraised conditions of the off-road pathway weren’t bad enough, riders have had to deal with the on-road portion on Fiji Way leading from where the off-road pathway ends to where it connects with the Ballona Creek bike path — including a painted prohibition against side-by-side riding that’s unsupported by anything in state law.

And with a nearby sheriff station to ensure compliance, if they happened to have too much time on their hands.

But it looks like things are in the process of changing.

Initial markings have appeared on the pavement sketching the outlines of an apparent road diet on Fiji Way, reducing the over-wide traffic lanes that encouraged speeding by the few car that actually use that street, and installing bike lanes for the hundreds, if not thousands, of cyclists who ride the street every hour on sunny days.

It’s hard to tell yet, but it looks the road could be cut from four lanes to two in places, with bike lanes more than wide enough to be ridden two-abreast, and placed safely against the curb in a no parking zone. And definitely reduced at the turnaround, where riders have had to contend with lost tourists and right-turning locals for far too long.

You can see the markings for that section in the short video below.

But however it turns out, it looks like a big improvement is on its way soon.

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Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that Earl Cox has been convicted of simple assault in the Angeles Crest road rage case in which he was charged with yelling at three separate groups of riders, and deliberately swerving at two of them — all because he thought they were being rude by riding in the roadway and felt a need to teach them some manners. However, Cox was acquitted on the more serious charge of assault with a deadly weapon for using his car as a weapon. Sentencing is set for September 12th in Burbank; I wonder if he’ll get more time than Patrick Roraff got for actually killing Jorge Alvarado.

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition sends word that police are on the lookout for a high-end bike thief suspected of riding off with a pair of Colnagos from SoCal dealers.

An Iowa driver ran a stop sign, swerved and hit a cyclist, then backed up, got out of his car and threw the rider’s broken bike at him before punching and kicking him. Only after he evidently felt he had sufficiently assaulted the victim — by car, bike, fist and foot — did he flee the scene. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

Sam Ollinger of the must-read Bike SD sends word of a tragic man-bites-dog twist in the seemingly endless reports of bike collisions, as a car overturns after striking and slightly injuring a cyclist, killing the driver. I’m grateful the cyclist survived relatively intact, but sad that anyone has to die on our streets.

Improvements are underway on Jefferson Blvd in Culver City at the notorious stretch where an allegedly drunk and/or distracted Christine Dahab plowed into a group of late night riders, injuring 13 — some severely. The road will now include five-foot wide door-zone bike lanes from Duquesne Ave to Higuera Street, as well as bike parking and improved access to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Thanks to Dan Mick for the link.

Finally, I’m booked in the morning, but anyone who can get to Van Nuys Tuesday morning should consider attending an L.A. Planning Department hearing on the proposed expansion of Universal Studios. As you may be aware, Universal is planning a dramatic expansion of their theme park property, including a left coast version of their popular Harry Potter park in Orlando FL. The problem is, the company has consistently blocked expansion of the L.A River bike path along their property while proposing a crazy-quilt alternative virtually guaranteed to keep cyclists away. As far as I’m concerned, alternate routes are great in that biking-infrastructure-starved part of town, But they’ll have to build their park over my dead body unless they agree to extend the bike path along the river as a condition of approval — and pay for it, for that matter, just for being such jerks about it. The meeting takes place in the Council Chambers at Van Nuys City Hall starting at 9:30 am.

And yes, you can quote me on that.

Just poor planning? Or are they trying to kill us?

When I ride my bike, I tend to stick to routes I know, and take side streets whenever possible.

That gives me an intimate knowledge of the danger spots; because I know the streets, I know where I’m likely to run into trouble, so I can be ready for it.

For instance, when I take the bike lane on Main Street in Santa Monica, I know I’ll have a long, straight route where I can get up a good head of speed, often approaching — or sometimes exceeding — the speed of traffic. But I keep a close watch for taillights and drivers behind the steering wheels of parked cars, so I can avoid getting doored. And I have to be prepared for cars that suddenly cut in front of me and stop in the bike lane to back into a parking space.

If I keep a close watch on the oncoming cars behind me, though, I can easily cut out into traffic and take the lane for as long as it takes to avoid any obstacles.

Closer to home, I often take Ohio through Westwood, which gives me a nice, relatively quiet street to ride. East of Westwood Blvd, I look out for cars that dart out from the side streets without looking for bikes coming downhill at 25 or 30 mph; west of the boulevard, I know that cars tend to pass too closely. Sometimes intentionally.

But when I drive my car, I don’t have to be concerned about things like that. So I frequently find myself driving down streets I seldom, if ever ride.

Like Pico Blvd, for instance.

According to the most recent Metro Bike Map, it’s designated as a bike route between the 405 freeway to Century Park East.

Evidently, they assume a lot of cyclists are going to ride along the 405, then sling their bikes over their shoulders and climb down from the overpass, since there’s no exit ramp there. Or else we’re going to ride Pico to Cotner — just before the freeway — and then take the onramp for a nice, exhilarating ride over the Sepulveda pass.

And who knows, that could happen. Because anyone crazy enough to ride through all the traffic and potholes along there is probably crazy enough to ride the freeway.

The next section, just east of Sepulveda, offers two narrow lanes in each direction, bounded by parked cars on either side. And there’s no room to ride in the parking lane, even if you did manage to avoid any swinging doors.

Which means that any rider there would be forced to take a lane on one of the Westside’s most crowded streets. Then try to dodge all the cars pulling in and out of all the various driveways, parking lots and valet stands, as well as one of the city’s busier shopping centers.

I suppose that explains why I’ve never seen a cyclist on that particular bike route. And I can only assume it was designated as a bike route in a blatant attempt to thin the herd, since I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone without a death wish.

Then I find myself driving down other streets, such as Centinella, which was recently repaved and widened, leaving plenty of room for a bike lane now, in an area that desperately needs one. Instead, they put in nice, wide lanes and a center divider lane. The newly rebuilt Santa Monica Blvd, where they could easily extend the bike lane through Beverly Hills — or at least far enough to accommodate the route Will recently attempted.

Or Jefferson, which has three full lanes of traffic leading to and from the new Playa Vista development, yet no bike lanes to help move those people in and out of the area, or get riders to and from all the work places that have opened up in the former warehouse district south of Ballona Creek.

Maybe they assume riders will take the Ballona Creek bike path to get there. Except that it runs on the north side of the creek, with little access to the south side. And it presents it’s own set of problems.

I could go on (and on… and on…), but you get the idea.

Pick virtually any street in West L.A. If it’s a designated bike route, chances are, it shouldn’t be. Or if it could safely accommodate a bike lane, it doesn’t. And if by some miracle it actually has a bike lane, it usually doesn’t go anywhere, and dumps riders off in the most dangerous spot possible.

I think Timur hit it on the head. (If you haven’t read his blog, drop what you’re doing — once you finish reading this, of course — and check out one of the most intelligent, insightful and beautifully written sites in local cyberspace.)

The problem is that our entire bike system shows every sign of being designed by people who have never ridden a bike in their entire lives. Or at least, haven’t been on one that didn’t training wheels, streamers on the handlebars or playing cards attached to the spokes.

It’s a system that was designed to move cars with maximum efficiency, though little evident efficacy, with no thought paid to any other form of traffic or the effect it will has the surrounding community — like the mayor’s plan to turn Olympic and Pico into one-way streets, for instance. And whatever minimal effort was made to accommodate cyclists or pedestrians was obviously nothing more than an afterthought.

That why we need to add our comments to the new bicycle master plan, which the city is updating right now. (Yes, there actually is one now, believe it or not.) Then contact your council member to insist on adoption of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights — and do something concrete about it by insisting that Metro include a 1% each set-aside for cycling and pedestrian projects in the proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase.

You don’t have to look very had to see the failure of bicycle planning around here.

And no one’s likely to do anything about it unless we stand up and make them.

 

The Times’ Bottleneck Blog’s questions SoCal bike routes, including one on a Ventura highway in the sunshine; you’re gonna go, I know. Once again, the city breaks the law by banning cyclists from the holiday light display in Griffith Park. Maybe we should get a group together and go anyway. LACBC celebrates it’s tenth anniversary with a potluck party. Thankfully, only Will Campbell’s shadow bites the dust, courtesy of a non-stop driver, then encounters the owner of these road we ride on. Back from vacation, Gary catches us up on the Brentwood Grand Prix, and urges us to support the subway to the sea. But who won the Manolos? Alex says goodbye to Spook. And finally, New York has over 3600 reports of vehicles blocking bike lanes; L.A. zero. Somehow, I don’t think that means it never happens here; maybe we just don’t have enough functional lanes that anyone out here thinks it matters.  

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