Tag Archive for L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky

Are calculated risks taking the lives of L.A. area cyclists?

Just last week, 30-year old Venice resident Erin Galligan was killed by a hit-and-run driver on PCH in Santa Monica.

A collision that might not have occurred if lights had been installed on the Santa Monica beach bike path to make it a safer and more inviting alternative to remaining on PCH during the construction work for the coastal interceptor sewer project.

We’ll never know why she chose the high-speed traffic of PCH over the dark and secluded bike path, since the only person who could have told us is now tragically silent.

Now another cyclist may have died due to an ill-advised roadway modification touted by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Speculation by cyclists as to the cause of the solo cycling accident that took the life of Willis Veluz-Abraham last Saturday has centered on the rumble strips that were recently installed on Stunt Road, where his collision occurred.

A comment left Monday says the strips have been installed on Piuma, Schuren and Stunt Roads, which, combined with Mulholland Highway and Cold Canyon, form the informal Mulholland Raceway popular with motorcyclists and performance drivers. According to the article on Yaroslavsky’s website, the high-speed motorists who frequent the area pose a risk to everyone on the roadway, while providing a near-constant aggravation to people who live in the area.

After considering other possibilities, the rumble strips were installed to calm these overly aggressive drivers and motorcyclists.

Whether they’ve had any real effect is yet to be determined.

But they may have cost Veluz-Abraham his life.

Yaroslovsky’s article hints at the danger.

The solution is not without its own possible downsides. Although centerline rumble strips have been used successfully in other areas—the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, for example, credited them last year with a 35%-50% reduction in crashes in areas on which they were installed—any change in the road surface can create hazards, especially for bicyclists and motorcyclists (emphasis mine).

In other words, they knew even before these strips were installed that they would pose a risk to bike riders. Yet evidently, made the conscious decision that it was worth risking our lives by deliberately making the roadway more dangerous in an attempt to slow down motorized traffic.

And it looks like that calculated risk came true on Saturday, just months after the first rumble strips were carved into the center dividers.

When the driver of a car, truck or SUV hits a rumble strip, it creates a loud, unpleasant noise and shaking sensation. But when motorcyclists hit them, they can result in shaking bad enough to adversely affect their ability to control their bikes.

And when a bicyclist hits a rumble strip, the effect can be devastating.

Especially since a bicycle rider is only likely to cross the center line when rounding a curve at high speed, and leaning hard into the curve in an attempt to control their bicycle. Combine the high speed and steep angle of the bike with an intentionally uneven road surface, and you have a recipe for disaster, making control of their bikes almost impossible for even the most skilled riders.

Like Willis Veluz-Abraham, for instance.

Something I know from first-hand experience in my more aggressive riding days.

I managed to survive my one and only encounter with center line rumble strips, if just barely, skidding across the road and ending up in the bushes on the opposite shoulder — while thanking God there had been no traffic coming in the opposite direction while I was sliding helpless on the highway.

It looks like Veluz-Abraham may not have been so lucky.

In another comment on Monday, Jeff says he was following him down Stunt Road when the incident occurred.

I was riding behind Willis when this happened and it was truly a tragedy. He was an experienced and cautious rider. He was a true family man and great guy to be around. He was really excited about being out riding that day. From what I saw it looked as though the rumble strip in the middle could have been part of the reason he went off.

…We were going downhill and making a right turn and he went wide and off to the left. There is a deep ravine and some metal beams sticking out of the ground that he struck.

Considering the location of the rumble strips, it’s virtually guaranteed that they played some role in causing Veluz-Abraham to go off the road; if they weren’t the direct cause, they undoubtedly contributed to his inability to regain control as he slid across the roughened pavement.

Depending on how recently he’d ridden that area, he may not have even known they were there, as I’m told that no warning signs were installed after the rumble strips carved into the pavement. And even if he did know they were there, he may not have been aware of the extreme danger they posed to riders such as himself.

Then again, he may have been fully aware of the danger, and simply couldn’t avoid them as he came around the corner too hot, unable to keep from drifting over the center line despite the danger.

Once again, we’ll never know.

But what we do know — what Yaroslavsky’s article makes abundantly clear — is that a conscious decision was make to slow motorized traffic by increasing the danger to everyone else on a popular riding route.

And it clearly illustrates that the safety of cyclists is too often ignored in making decisions that put us at risk.

Thanks to Eric Bruins and J for the link to the Yaroslavsky article.

………

Meanwhile, another comment points out that you can put your money where your heart is in the wake of this needless tragedy.

Willis’ co-workers and friends at Farmers Insurance have established a fund for his Family. Please forward this information to the Biking-Community in Los Angeles who would like to donate.

You can make donations to The Willis Veluz Abraham Fund
Wells Fargo Account #3268012758. You can also make a check out to either Willis Veluz Abraham Fund Or Melissa Abraham Fund

………

San Francisco family photographer Joseph Pascua provides portraits of Willis Veluz-Abraham and his family, while El Cerrito Patch remembers him as a former resident and graduate of the local high school.

The family and girlfriend of Fontana hit-and-run victim Alex Patrick Silva speak directly to the cycling community in calling for safety. A commenter says that police are looking for a black Chrysler sedan in the hit-and-run death of BMX rider Richard Paine in Fullerton.

And ghost bikes were installed Sunday night for Antonio Cortez, Erin Galligan and Willis Veluz-Abraham.

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Over the years. I’ve seen a lot of comments online from auto-centric drivers who just don’t get it. And inexplicably — and heartlessly — express their misguided anger on stories about fallen riders.

Like this one, for instance.

I am so sorry for the family and friends left behind but It is to dangerous to ride PCH and Malibu canyon on a bicycle, we have minimum speed requirements for a reason, meaning you can get pulled over for going to slow in a car.!!!!! And until we support a bike lane bike’s cannot ride these roads, and think of the poor driver that smacks Capernikus in the malibu tunnel..!!! or on Kanan Road??? Plus some moron made it so the bicycle has the right away on these roads??? Ha? some and I do mean alot of idiots ride next to each other taking a big part of the lane…Hello!!! What part of 4000lbs going 55 do they think won’t hurt???? I think it really needs to be outlawed Sorry…Or we just wait till some big shot get’s killed and then we outlaw it, Let’s do it before or the people that keep us safe are dumber than I all ready think they are…Over and out..

Never mind that California doesn’t have a minimum speed law. Or her mistaken insistence that cyclists have the right of way — or right away, as she puts it — over automotive traffic, as much as we might all enjoy that.

What really takes the cake is the idea that bicycling should be outlawed, not because of any damage we might cause, but because we could be the victims of dangerous drivers like her.

Kind of like outlawing banks because someone might rob them.

Lastly, for her, and every other person who insists on making the same, tired and idiotic old statement, I have been hit by a car.

And I can assure them and everyone else that it hurts like hell.

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You may recall a few months back that I included a few links to stories about a bike collision involving the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Author Steven Covey was seriously injured in a solo fall in Provo UT, yet seemed to be on the road to recovery when he was released from the hospital a few weeks later.

Now word comes that he died early Monday at a hospital in Idaho, apparently from the residual effects of his injuries.

Or maybe he was never bouncing back at all, as it’s not usual for the family and handlers of celebrities to issue false press releases to hide the severity of their injuries or illnesses from the press and public.

Thanks to Stanley Goldich and Matthew Gomez for the heads-up.

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The nation’s first bicycling accident and liability policy is now available with a discount through Sustainable Streets. If you’re not already covered by an auto policy, you should quit reading and sign up right now.

It’s okay, I’ll wait.

………

In today’s racing update, Tour de France Riders are poised to make big moves in the final week, while André Greipel could turn out to be a surprise.

Sunday’s stage 14 of the Tour de France is sabotaged by thumbtacks in the roadway; non-cyclists may think it’s just a prank, while bike riders realize just how dangerous it really is; thanks to Cycleliscious for the Central Park link. Pierre Roland says he didn’t get the memo and is sorry he attacked on the tacks, while incidents like this show the downside of letting fans so close.

Team Sky’s Chris Froome is frustrated riding in support of fading 2011 champ Cadel Evans in a race he thinks he could win.

Meanwhile, the women of the Reve Tour, who are preceding the TdF on the same route, continue their tour despite contending with a car and a resulting broken tailbone.

And Thor Hushovd pulls out of the Olympics due to illness.

………

The LACBC introduces Eric Bruins as the coalition’s new Planning and Policy Director, replacing the popular and effective Alexis Lantz, who has moved on to a position with the L.A. County Department of Health. Santa Monica Spoke says a full length Expo Line bikeway is at risk; you can have your say in a meeting this Wednesday evening in Santa Monica. L.A.’s Planning Department will host a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss implementation of the first year of the city’s bike plan. The Caltech Bike Lab is hosting a ride to the Eagle Rock Brewery on Saturday. Two Azusa cyclists are seriously injured in separate crashes; not surprisingly, neither driver is either cited or arrested.

Concluding that the body count on California roadways isn’t high enough, our governor — only the second to veto a three foot passing law — legalizes texting with while driving with hands-free devices; clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea. Evidently, it wasn’t a good weekend for NorCal cyclists either, as rider dies on Donner Pass, and a renowned Israeli psychologist was killed while riding in Berkeley on Friday when he was hit by a dump truck. And the CHP blames a seriously injured Sonoma cyclist for crossing onto the wrong side of the road, resulting in a head-on collision.

A writer for the Alliance for Biking and Walking explains why every bicyclist, and the riding death of his friend, count. Are cyclists and drivers really locked together in an endless life-and-death struggle? Aspen’s planned bike share program gets delayed for a second year. A writer in my hometown suggests we all add our own biking PSAs in email messages. One of my favorite bike bloggers looks at Denver and Estes Park through a bike rider’s eye. Two Iowa men are arrested for stealing bikes minutes after they’re released from jail. A Tulsa duathlon honors a cyclist killed by a drunk driver. Turns out the New York Post doesn’t just hate biking infrastructure. A New York ad campaign shows how not to encourage women to ride bikes. Just what part of Bikes Can Use Full Lane is unclear to Virginians; link courtesy of Bob Mionske’s bicyclelaw.com.

London’s Mirror asks if bicycling has become the cool way to get around, while the Guardian wonders how Britain became a bicycling nation in just 10 years. Meanwhile, the Evening Standard relates how to remain stylish despite being forced to ride a bike during the upcoming Olympics. An Indian firm pays its employees 1,000 rupees a month to bike to work.

Finally, our streets are turning into a violent Peyton Place, as an off-duty Philadelphia police officer is apparently intentionally run down by his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. And a Santa Rosa woman does her best to run down a motorcyclist before plowing into another car and killing an innocent driver.

A Thanksgiving thank you, editing Google bike maps, and Zev says back to the drawing board

I’ll be honest.

This has been yet another rough year, in a string of rough years that has gone on way too long.

And yet, I have a lot to be thankful for. Not the least of which is the simple fact that I’m here, and have a loving home and family waiting for me at the end of a ride.

That’s a lot more than some people have.

I’m also very thankful for you. Because it doesn’t matter what I have to say if no one bothers to read it.

So much for that question about a tree falling in the forest.

Thank you for coming by, whether this is your first visit or you’ve been with me from the beginning.

Please accept my best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving for you and your loved ones. And my hope that we’ll all have more to be thankful for next year.

But if you want to read some heartfelt thanks from someone who clearly means it, try this one.

And People for Bikes says be thankful for biking.

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Another thing I’m thankful for is all the people who send me links and contributions, and help me put this blog together on a regular basis.

Such as frequent contributor Eric Weinstein, who offers his thoughts on Santa Monica’s newly adopted Bike Action Plan.

The Santa Monica Bike Action Plan was enacted by the City Council last night. This means that Santa Monica will budget the expenditure of 2.5 Million dollars for the next two years, and has grants to bring the total up to about 8 Million dollars. That’s a big bunch of money to improve cycling!  I think this will change the entire experience of biking in Santa Monica to a level greater than Portland. Santa Monica is on it’s way to increasing the bike mode share – aiming for 30%!

Some of the items: lots of bike lanes, sharrows, bike boxes, and green lanes for major east-west and north south signature corridors. The largest bike garage in the country – oops it’s already here! Some bike education/encouragement for students, and a bunch of other useful items – some signage to improve the overcrowded beach bike path. And a bike share. There’s a 5- year and a 20 year wish plan for better facilities. These will include: taking some parking for wide (passing lane) bike lanes, even more lanes and sharrows, bike parking at the coming Expo stations, and my favorite: a recreational cycletrack around the Santa Monica Airport. Bring on the Tour of California.

Hooray for progress! This is a major milestone in getting people out of cars and on bikes!

……..

County supervisor — and widely anticipated yet currently unannounced mayoral candidate — Zev Yaroslavsky says L.A. County should send the proposed county bike plan back to the drawing board.

The motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky calls on the county Department of Public Works to create a bike plan that “will not just move us out of the 1970’s, but move Los Angeles County forward as a leader in 21st Century bicyclist safety and comfort.”

Specifically, the motion says that the plan should “promote the use of leading-edge designs such as those found in the Model Design Manual for Living Streets that was prepared by the Department of Public Health.” Those include “cycle tracks” that separate bike lanes from traffic with dividers such as a lane of parked cars, and experimental street design approaches—including the possibility of varied lane and sidewalk widths in some areas—that do not fall within current Caltrans standards.

The motion urges the county to take the lead in helping such street layouts receive state approval for broader implementation.

A longtime leader in L.A. politics, Yaroslavsky offers a surprisingly strong and influential voice in support of safer cycling in the county. And could soon join Austin Beutner and outgoing City Council President Eric Garcetti in a bike-friendly mayoral field.

Things are getting very interesting.

Thanks to Streetsblog’s Damien Newton for the heads-up.

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George Wolfberg, who I frequently rely on for some of our best links — as well as his incomparable behind the scenes contributions in reaching the right people and getting things — sends word of a rash of bike burglaries in the Brentwood area. He sends the following report from LAPD Senior Lead Officer Kirk.

  • 11/14/11 1500 Hrs – 11/21/11 1000 Hrs, 1300 Block of Wellesley Ave, Susp removed window to residence and entered the loc. Susp removed property and fled loc. Property taken was a bicycle.
  • 11/04/11 1800 Hrs – 11/08/11 0930 Hrs, 1800 Block of Stoner Ave, Susp cut bike lock and removed bicycle from parking lot.
  • 11/18/11 0400 – 0600 Hrs, 1400 Block of Barry Ave, Susp removed bicycles from apartment balcony.
  • 11/19/11 1200 Hrs – 11/21/11 0800 Hrs, Susp cut off lock and removed the bicycle from property.
  • 11/19/11 0900 Hrs- 11/21/11 0600 Hrs, 11300 Block of Wellesley Ave, Susp cut off lock and removed bicycle from carport area.
  • 11/20/11 1330 – 2130 Hrs, 1600 Block of Granville Ave, Susp cut cable lock off and removed bicycle from apartment courtyard.
  • 11/21/11 0645 – 0830 Hrs, 2000 Block of Colby Ave, Susp cut off lock and removed bicycle from property.

Officer Kirk suggests keeping your bike inside your residence, and writing down the serial number. I’d add that you should keep a current photo of your bike, register it, and lock it with a secure U-lock any time you have to leave it outside or in your garage.

Remember, weight doesn’t matter if you don’t have to carry it with you, so go for the biggest, strongest lock you can find to protect your bike at home.

……..

Another contribution comes from Alejandro Merulo, who calls our attention to Google Maps feature I was unaware of.

I wanted to let you know of a feature that readers of your blog may find useful. As you know in Los Angeles, a large number of bike lanes and sharrows have been added to our streets recently. These bike lanes should be added to Google Maps so that more people ride on them. Google has made it possible to do this for any user using Google Map Maker. It would be great to have other cyclists adding/reviewing these features. For example, today I added the Spring Street and 1st street bike lanes. But these additions need approval. There aren’t that many cyclists reviewing other people’s submission to Google Map Maker.

Sharing the ability of cyclists to add our routes to the roads will make them safer. If you could share this feature through your blog, many cyclists would appreciate it.

Not being familiar with this feature — and a little to dense to figure it out on my own — I asked Alejandro to explain the process.

The link for Google map maker is http://www.google.com/mapmaker. If you are in normal Google maps with the biking layers on, there is some small text on the bottom right that says “Edit in Google Map Maker.” Using a Google account, you can then draw lines along roads. Clicking next, you can then edit road attributes and add bike lanes. Once you have gotten this far, I found it intuitive to figure out other features. However, if you try these steps and still have trouble, let me know and I’ll be happy to assist you. You can see some of the work I’ve added if you type in “Spring Street and 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA” in the text box at the top. You can also see Community Edits like mine by clicking on “Community Edits.”

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Santa Monica’s Bike Effect hosts a trunk show of women’s cycling apparel from New York designer Nona Varnado this Saturday. L.A. wants your ideas on how to keep the city moving, including a suggestion to make motorists pay the true cost of driving. KCET Departures features Flying Pigeon’s always informative, entertaining and elucidating Josef Bray-Ali. Damien Newton unveils this year’s Streetsie Award winners, including a much deserved nod to the LACBC’s Colin Bogart as Advocate of the Year. Curbed takes you on a ride down the new Spring Street bike lane, which has bike parking, too. The Beverly Hills Bicycle Ad Hoc Committee considers the biking black hole’s first pilot projects. Cyclists make their case for a safer PCH while Malibu officials consider becoming bike friendly. Former Burbank city council candidate Garen Yegparian offers a spot-on look at the state of cycling in the Los Angeles area, and finds drivers in his own Armenian community among the worst offenders; definitely worth reading. This is what 10 years of L.A. traffic fatalities looks like, based on the Guardian’s map of U.S. casualties from the last decade; thanks to Simon for the link.

A San Diego cyclist thanks the life guards who saved his life. A San Francisco cyclist pleads not guilty in the death of a pedestrian; he’s accused of running a red light and hitting the 68-year old woman as she walked in the crosswalk with her husband. In a heartwarming story, an S.F. cyclist rescues a puppy while riding. San Jose cyclists pitch in to fix up a derelict bike path. A new bike rack keeps a Los Altos bike safe on a public street for four months. San Rafael cyclists celebrate Cranksgiving. A San Anselmo cyclist is in a coma after being found unconscious on the side of a fire road.

New Mexico cyclists install a ghost bike for a six-year old boy killed 21 years ago. In a classic chicken or egg equation, St. Louis County doesn’t build bikeways because not enough people bike; the current leadership in Ohio doesn’t seem much better. A Huntsville radio station helps ensure 2800 children will receive a new bike for Christmas. A Florida cyclist was drunk when he was hit and killed by an unmarked police car while carrying a case of beer in each hand. Dunedin FL officials turn down nearly $450,000 in Safe Routes to School funding because they’re afraid residents might object.

Nine-and-a-half years for on Oxford driver who deliberately ran down a cyclist; turns out he knew the rider if that makes it any better. A video guide to wearing tweed while you ride. Then again, if you really want to be seen, this should do the trick. Seven people face up to 2 years in prison each in the Operation Puerto bike doping scandal. A New Zealand driver is found guilty of killing a cyclist, despite claiming she just didn’t see him — which is usually the universal Get Out of Jail Free card for careless drivers.

Finally, North Carolina police kill a disabled, partially deaf cyclist by shooting him with a stun gun while he was riding. For any law enforcement personnel unclear on the concept, never, ever knock anyone off a bike while their riding unless you actually intend to kill them.

Because you just might.

Update on the dangerously sandy Marvin Braude Bike Path

As you may recall, last week I complained about the long-standing problem of sand on the popular Marvin Braude bike path through Venice and Santa Monica.

I also mentioned contacting a city official to get something done about it, only to get a response saying they weren’t sure who had responsibility for maintaining the pathway.

Bike tires and sand don't mix; maybe L.A. County doesn't get that.

Turns out, I reached out, not just to the wrong department, but the wrong government. Because even though the bike path borders Venice, which is part of the City of Los Angeles, it’s the county that maintains that section of the bike path.

As a result, yesterday afternoon I sent the following email to Abu Yusuf, Bikeway Coordinator for the County of Los Angeles, and cc’d County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents that district.

I’ll let you know when I get a response.

Dear Mr. Yusuf —

I want to reach out to you regarding the sand on the Marvin Braude bike path along Venice beach, since it is my understanding that L.A. County is responsible for maintenance of the path, rather than the City of L.A.; I don’t know if the county also has responsibility for maintaining the pathway through Santa Monica, as well.

As you may be aware, the bike path has been covered with sand since a series of heavy storms back in May. While attempts have been made to remove the sand using a heavy front-loader, that has actually made the situation worse by leaving behind a thin layer of sand that can cause riders to slip and fall.

Even as an experienced bicyclist, I’m forced to slow down and ride carefully when I take this path, especially on the many curves in the Venice section, and I have personally seen a number of bicyclists suffer minor injuries after falling because of the sand on the bike path. It is clearly only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured.

You can see photos on my blog, taken last week, showing the sand covering the bike path by clicking here. I’ve made suggestions as to more effective methods of removing the sand, and I’m sure you can come up with a number of others. But something has to be done; this bike path is one of the prime tourist attractions in Los Angeles County, as well as a vital recreation and transit corridor for local cyclists.

I urge you to look into this matter as quickly as possible, and take whatever steps are necessary to clear the sand off the County-maintained sections of the Marvin Bruade Bike Path — and keep it clear so that the tens of thousands of bicyclists who use this path on a daily basis can ride in safety.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
bikinginla.com

………

Day three of le Tour traveled the legendary cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix, as the teams broke out special gear to handle the rough roads. Norwegian Thor Hushovd won the stage and a non-motor-assisted Fabian Cancellara moved back into the yellow jersey. Losers included Frank Schleck, who is out of the Tour after fracturing his collarbone in three places, and Lance Armstrong, who fell two minutes and 30 seconds back after suffering a flat, noting that his chances of victory have dropped.

Day four was, thankfully for the riders, far less eventful as Alessandro Petacchi wins the stage. Meanwhile, Saxo Bank rider Jens Voigt calls the organizers assassins. Cancellara doesn’t just wear yellow, he rides it as well. And the World Anti-Doping Agency says the drug probe resulting from Floyd Landis’ allegations is “significant.”

………

Two cyclists were injured in separate collisions in Glendale.

On Thursday, a cyclist riding on the sidewalk was struck by a driver who fled the scene; police later arrested 24-year old Akop Arshamian of Sun Valley on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

In the other incident, a bike rider struck a car from behind on Sunday and did a face plant in the rear windshield. The Glendale News-Press says the rider was tailing the vehicle; reading between the lines, some cyclists might suspect the driver cut off the rider in order to make a right turn.

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Check out the new video about BiciDigna, the Spanish-language bike co-op developed by the LACBC’s City of Lights program and the Bicycle Kitchen. Gary rides the new sharrows in Santa Monica, while Stephen and Enci Box take the debate over the LADOT sharrows program to the National Committee of Uniform Traffic Control Devices in Chicago. Travelin’ Local takes a lovely spin around Marina del Rey. Bicycle Fixation wishes all those bike-hating drivers who make anonymous comments would just shut up, and seemingly devotes his life to getting a water-filled pothole on 4th Street fixed. More bikes in Big Bear is a good thing. Heaven for bike riders: riding through a car-free Yosemite. A look at car-free spaces around the world. Are blue bike lanes better than black? A small Texas town bans groups of 10 riders or more without a permit. In DC, even NFL players ride bikes. A DC area radio host criticizes cyclists for riding on the road, and doesn’t think they belong off it, either. Would you rather ride in freezing weather or sweltering heat? Having lived in Louisiana and Colorado, I’ll take the heat, thank you. Speaking of Colorado, the Rockies baseball team actively encourages cyclists to ride to the games; any guess when the Dodgers will do the same? Miami-Dade is the deadliest county for cyclists in the nation’s deadliest state. London takes steps to reduces the number and severity of bike collisions with big trucks. When you suck in a fly, do you spit or swallow? Frida Kahlo rides a bike. A positive review for DIY sharrows in British Columbia. Wear your helmet, get a free ice cream. Two men in India are arrested after hitting a cyclist and loading into their van, telling bystanders they’re taking him to the hospital, then dumping him on the side of the road and leaving him to die.

Finally, everybody do The Bike.

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