Tag Archive for L.A. City Council Transportation Committee

TranspoComm takes up Wilshire BOL; NoCal driver witnesses solo bike collision she may have caused

The City Council Transportation Committee takes up the Wilshire Blvd Bus Only Lane — aka Bus Rapid Transit or BRT lane — on Wednesday.

Writing for HuffPo, Joel Epstein says a Wilshire without bus lanes is no longer acceptable.

As I’ve stated before, anyone who has taken the 720 bus from the Westside to Downtown knows how desperately this is needed. Not to mention that it will make cycling safer by sharing the new, smooth pavement that would be installed with riders, who are legally allowed to ride in the bus lane.

Wealthy residents of Brentwood and the Westwood’s multi-million dollar Wilshire Corridor are up in arms about allotting a full lane of traffic to a form of transportation they would never lower themselves to use. But traffic-choked Wilshire Blvd is only going to get worse until something is done to get people out of their cars and onto other forms of transportation, making more room for their Bentleys and Beemers.

And it’s not like we’re going to see the long-promised Subway to the Sea anytime soon.

Establishing the BOL for the full 7.7 mile route recommended by Metro is a vital first step in turning around the ever-worsening situation on our streets, as well as ending L.A.’s infamous car culture Councilmember Bill Rosendahl famously proclaimed more than a year ago.

Now it’s time to turn his bold words into real changes on our streets.

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Courtesy of Witch on a Bicycle comes this story of a NorCal woman who sees a cyclist riding in a bike lane, in full control of her bike.

Then less than 100 feet after she passes him, watches in her rearview mirror as the rider wobbles, loses control and suffers a severe brain injury in what’s described as a solo bike accident.

Anyone want to guess what’s wrong with this picture?

Yes, it’s possible that it was a total coincidence. The rider, Richard Kadet, could have simply lost control of his bike on a fast descent and fallen all on his own.

Possible, but highly unlikely given the circumstances. Far more likely is that the witness passed too close, causing Kadet’s fall, whether from the effects of the vehicle’s slipstream or over-reaction by a startled rider.

Just more evidence that it’s possible to pass a cyclist safely without passing safely. And that many police still don’t understand what causes bike collisions.

And one more reason why we need a minimum three-foot passing law to let drivers know how close is too close.

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The LACBC’s Alexis Lantz joins with William Roschen, President of the L.A. City Planning Commission to discuss L.A.’s new bike plan tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Naturally, the meeting will take place in Santa Monica, at 2515 Wilshire Blvd.

The same link will also take you to news of Bicycle Kitchen co-founder Jimmy Lizama speaking at UCLA on June 18th from 12:15 to 3 pm, with the intriguing title I am a Bicycle Messenger, My Message is Bicycle. Having heard Lizama speak, this one comes highly recommended.

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Former Angeleno and current NYDOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan discusses how we can get the most out of our streets. More great photos from last Sunday’s River Ride. An arrest is reportedly near in the Highland Park case of a driver accused of intentionally running down a cyclist; remarkably, the local Patch virtually invites retaliation against the driver by publishing his personalized license plate. Santa Monica finally turns the single line on 11th Street into a real bike lane, and marks spots for future bike racks. KCRW’s Shortcut’s blog keeps up with the latest bike news from the California Bicycle Coalition. Adam Bray-Ali, co-owner of L.A.’s Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, writes about Alhambra city codes that can discourage cycling.

The much improved KCET website looks at the new Long Beach Bicycle Business Districts, and suggests a similar approach for L.A.’s 7th Street. Inland area bike groups teach repair techniques to encourage new riders. A funeral will be held today for Nick Venuto, the cyclist killed when a car flipped onto an off-road bike path in San Diego last week. A 25-year old man was found dead on the campus of UC Santa Cruz lying 15 feet from a bicycle, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run. One of the joys of riding is exploring new areas. Cyclelicious discusses how to make a fast stop without pulling an endo; my technique has always been to squeeze the rear brake a fraction of a second before pulling the front, with a little practice it becomes second nature.

Bike touring can benefit local economies. The Vet Hunters will ride 1900 miles in a search to help homeless veterans. Making a movie about riding a ’67 Schwinn across country wearing a tux. River Ride was great, but it didn’t offer fresh bacon on the bikepath. CNN looks at how early bikes meant freedom for women. What’s your best excuse not to commute by bike? Bicycling offers advice on how to get your kids started with cycling. An Oregon man banned from driving argues that an electric bike is not a car; does it help or hurt his case now that Hertz is renting them? Thankfully, the 7-year old Alaska girl severely beaten when she refused to give up her bike is expected to make a full recovery. My bike-friendly hometown gets its first bike box. The Bozeman, MT newspaper says get a bike and use it, you’ll be glad you did. Chicago riders get a warning to obey traffic laws. The former Ugly Betty bikes the Big Apple. The trip leader of a national Bike and Build group was killed while riding in Alabama; this is the second fatality to strike the group in less than a year.

Bike Radar offers 10 tips to make your road bike faster. Should bicycling and running events be moved off city streets to accommodate motorists horribly inconvenienced on one or two days a year? Your next bike helmet could be made of cardboard. London Cyclist asks if one bike is enough, or is enough never enough? London’s Torries walk about to avoid voting on a proposal to protect cyclists and pedestrians. International transportation leaders say it’s time to take cycling seriously. Riccardo Ricco is once again banned from competitive cycling, just days after being reinstated.

Finally, apparently having learned absolutely nothing from last year’s Tony Kornheiser fiasco, ESPN once again allows a pair of their radio ranters to ride off the rails with a 20-minute long discussion of how much fun it would be to door cyclists. Maybe it’s time to let Disney — ESPN’s parent company — know that we don’t want their employees encouraging people to kill or injure people on bikes.

Then again, idiotic shock jocks aren’t just an American phenomenon

Transportation Committee moves forward with anti-harassment ordinance

I’m buried with work today.

And I’m damned if I’m going to let an 84 degree sunny SoCal day pass without at least a quick spin down the coast.

But I don’t want to let this morning pass without catching up on yesterday’s news from the City Council Transportation Committee. Because it marked one of those vital quantum leap moments — a seemingly small shift that could result in a dramatic change down the road.

I’ll try to fill you in with more details later, but here’s the key point. After eloquent comments by Ross Hirsch — the attorney for hit-and-run victim Ed Magos — and BAC chair Glenn Bailey, the Transportation Committee voted unanimously to move forward with drafting a first-of-its-kind ordinance to ban harassment of cyclists.

While other cities and states have passed anti-harassment laws, this ordinance would be the first to allow cyclists to file suit themselves for violent or aggressive actions directed towards them, whether it’s committed by drivers, bystanders or even other riders.

As the representative from the City Attorney’s office stressed, it would not prohibit anything that is not already against the law, and it would not prevent criminal prosecution for any incident where there’s sufficient evidence to prosecute.

It would simply, finally, give cyclists the opportunity to protect themselves on the streets of L.A. And possibly prevent the kind of harassment that we’ve all experienced at one time or another.

And mark L.A.’s growth from a bicycling backwater to a world leader in protecting the rights of cyclists.

Yes, it really is that big.

The next test comes on Monday when the proposal will be taken up by the Council’s Public Safety Committee, which has been significantly less friendly to cyclists in the past.

The more riders we can get in that room, the better our chances to keep it moving forward.

Today’s post, in which I rant about a misguided carhead Council Member

City Hall as seen from the entrance to Chinatown.

I expect this sort of willful ignorance from the comment section of the Times.

I don’t expect it from the people who have been elected to lead this city.

Admittedly, I didn’t attend Monday’s joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Budget & Finance committees to discuss a 10% set-aside for bike and pedestrian projects — 5% each — from the local-return portion of Measure R funds.

And since the local news no longer covers local news — even three days later, no one has bothered to report who it was that got killed in Saturday night’s Carson hit-and-run — I’m relying strictly on Damien Newton’s as-always excellent reporting on Streetsblog.

But I went through the ceiling this afternoon when I read his report on yesterday’s meeting. And several hours later, my blood is still boiling.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my stand on any given issue. My philosophy has always been to make my case as clearly as possible, and trust others to make their decisions based on their own best judgment and analysis of the testimony presented.

So while I disagree — strongly — with Council Member and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks that setting aside a specific portion of Measure R funding might deny funding for more deserving projects, I can respect it.

Even though I think his suggestion to commit “up to 10%” of the funding to bike and pedestrian projects couldn’t be more wrong, since it would cap funding, rather than setting aside a single penny.

The one I really had a problem with was Council Member Greig Smith.

As Damien described it,

Following Parks, Valley Councilman Greig Smith put on a private clinic on how little he knows about transportation funding in the city.  After agreeing with Parks’ position, Smith pushed for someone to tell him what percent of residents are cyclists.  Of course, there’s no bike counts being done by the city.  Smith also didn’t seem to understand that a lot of people are cyclists even if they don’t use their bike every day or even every week.  After the city couldn’t answer his question with anything more than a guess, Smith declared that it was “a lot less than 10%.”  I guess the Councilman has done his own bike counts and is just keeping the numbers secret from the rest of us? Thus the city shouldn’t set aside “10% for this group.”

So let me get this straight.

Rather than doing a modicum of research to determine a rough estimate of the number of cyclists — a simple internet search would have lead him to the US Department of Transportation’s estimate that 27.3% of Americans over 16 ride bikes — he made up his own number, based on his own evidently extremely limited experience, to conclude that the number was “a lot less than 10%.”

Never mind that the DOT’s figures were based on 2002 numbers, so they don’t reflect the recent boom in the popularity of bikes — let alone L.A.’s mostly flat terrain and year-round riding weather — that should boost that total significantly. Or that even conservative estimates suggest that 15% to 17% of adults ride a bike in a given month.

Then there’s the fact that building bike infrastructure usually results in an increase in ridership, like the recently installed bike lane in New Orleans that boosted ridership among male cyclists 44% for men and 133% for women.

But Smith seems to think he knows something the statisticians don’t.

Then again, he did turn to city officials — presumably  LADOT — for an answer. However, most of us can attest that’s exactly the wrong place to turn for information, since, despite their recent attempts at better communication with the cycling community, LADOT clearly seems to believe that the T in their name refers to automotive throughput at the expense of any other form of transportation.

So here’s a suggestion.

As others have noted, it’s long past time that this city stopped relying on misguided guesswork and conducted an accurate count of cyclists and pedestrians in this city. And quite frankly, LADOT should be embarrassed that the LACBC has to do their damn job for them.

Meanwhile, if you’re not a member of the LACBC, it’s time you became one so your voice will be represented before the council and other government bodies.

And while you’re at it, sign up for the new League of Bicycling Voters LA so that our next class of council members might enter office with a little more knowledge of, and support for, bicycling than many of our current officials.

And Council Member Smith, the next time you need information about bikes, call me.

Seriously.

Have your aides email me, and I’ll give them my number. And I promise to drop everything to track down the data you need.

Because frankly, it will be a lot better for everyone if you don’t try to make these things up.

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C.I.C.L.E. sponsors a presentation on Creating Great Places to Ride on Wednesday the 21st at Caltech; food and drinks will be provided.

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In today’s jurisprudence report, a cyclist is sentenced for criminal threatening in Portsmouth, NH after wielding a large rock in an attempt to apprehend a road raging driver. Meanwhile, the Critical Mass cyclist-shoving cop goes on trial in NY; the victim admits to taunting the officer after being knocked to the ground — and confesses to being a bad driver.

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Will coins a new term we can all relate to. Mickey Wally reminds us that the 2nd Bike Day LA is scheduled for May 2nd. More on the police crackdown that nabbed three bike theft suspects with another at large; however, someone needs to teach them how to use a calendar. The President of the League of American Bicyclists visits Long Beach to see what a bike-friendly SoCal city looks like; note that he did not visit semi-bike-friendly Santa Monica. An 18-year old cyclist injured in a Costa Mesa collision last year says the traffic signal didn’t give her enough time to cross the intersection.

The hit-and-run epidemic claims yet another life, as a New York cyclist is taken off life support. Bike sharing kicks off in Denver on Thursday. Tucson celebrates a successful ciclovia. New Orleans’ Gentilly Blvd gets a road diet with enhanced bike lanes. Making Portland cycling less white and middle class; and while we’re on the subject, what’s with the negativity towards bike racers these days?  Walmart sells out of their $150 fixie — which isn’t that bad, but isn’t that great, either. Interesting insights on the challenges of representing a competitive cyclist in a personal injury case. An 83-year old Seattle-area woman is critically injured after stepping in front of two passing cyclists. NJ cyclists required to use transit off-peak will see a 64% rate increase; maybe transit should be planned with bikeability in mind. What does it mean when you see a trail of bike parts along the bike path? Missouri moves forward with Complete Streets and Safe Passing legislation. A Portland woman tries to collect 400 used bikes this weekend to send to South Africa.

Global warming means sea levels will rise, so why not floating bikes? London Cyclist lists the top 50 cycling blogs. A tougher, but Lance-free, route for this year’s Tour of Britain. The University of Edinburgh says Lance is the second-happiest tweeter; former Laker Shaq clocks in at number one. Just three weeks into a three year, round-the-world tour, a cyclist is knocked of the road by a British driver. Can you complain about drivers encroaching in the bike lane when the car lane isn’t even wide enough for a Smart Car? Five years for a “sickening” attack on a cyclist that left him permanently brain damaged. New Zealand cyclists complain about cow crap on the bike path; city officials say go home and wash it off.

Finally, Creek Freak and all-around bike, civic and environmental activist Joe Linton receives some well-deserved recognition from the County Board of Supervisors.

LAPD Chief Beck: Things have changed — we will do better

For the second time since Bill Rosendahl took over as chair, the City Council’s Transportation Committee offered cyclists a highly anticipated bike-oriented session.

And once again, actually he delivered.

Left to right: Paul Koretz, Asst. Chief Paysinger, Chief Beck, Bill Rosendahl, Bernard Parks and Tom LaBonge; later joined by Richard Alarcón.

A number of cyclists, many of whom took the day off to participate, rode to the meeting on the route city employee Ed Magos was taking recently when he was run down by a driver who got out of her car, saw him writhing in pain and begging for help, then left him laying in the street as she fled the scene.

Inexplicably, she was not arrested or charged with hit-and-run after she later turned herself in at a police station; the ride was intended as a protest to call attention to the injustice cyclists have too often received when we’ve turned to the LAPD for help.

New police Chief Charlie Beck assured the riders that those days are over, saying “your voices have been heard.”

He continued by saying cyclists are the city’s most vulnerable commuters, and need the department’s support and protection. “We know we need to do a better job for you,” he said. “We will do a better job for you.”

He said that he’s asked the City Attorney to take another look at the Magos case to see if any charges can be filed. Yet as Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger noted in answering a question from local cycling leader Roadblock about his own hit-and-run case, how a case gets handled is determined by whether prosecutors believe they can “prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Though how there could be any doubt when witnesses not only saw the collision, but observed the driver leave the scene, is beyond me.

The Chief said it was the department’s job to protect those who need protecting, and the LAPD intends to do just that. As proof, he turned to the man sitting next to him, telling the assembled riders and committee members that he’s named Paysinger, second only to the chief in the department hierarchy, as the LAPD’s direct liaison to the cycling community.

Beck promised better officer training regarding bicycling, as well as shifting responsibility for traffic accidents — including bike collisions — from patrol officers to the specialized Traffic Investigation Unit. And assured riders that bike thefts will receive increased scrutiny from the department, noting that it’s one of the few crimes that has increased in recent years, “and we take that seriously.”

He also asked for patience, noting that it will take time for these changes to filter down to the rank-and-file officers on the street level. And assured cyclists that he will stay involved in the process.

“Don’t just listen to what I say,” he said, “but watch what I do.”

That lead to comments from a long line of cyclists, many of whom addressed the problem of drivers who flee, and getting the police to take these crimes seriously.

Roadblock addresses the Transportation Committee.

“It’s difficult to get a license number and see the face of the driver,” said Danny Jimenez, “especially if you get hit from behind.”

Like a number of others, Will Campbell noted that he took the day off because he was outraged over the Magos case, while Stephen Box gave the chief a copy of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. The LACBC’s Aurisha Smolarski offered hard-hitting comments about the need to reform department policies, with Rosendahl allowing her to go well over the allotted one-minute time limit. Amanda Lipsey said that as a professional ballet dancer, she couldn’t afford to suffer an injury due to a careless driver who wouldn’t stick around to take responsibility.

L.A. cyclists also received surprising support from an entirely unexpected quarter, as Hamid Khan, spokesman for the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance, voiced approval for the new bike plan and the need to protect cyclists.

When the Mayor and the head of LADOT, the police chief and cab drivers all support for cyclists, you know something has changed.

Meanwhile, I commented about the need to improve training for police accident investigators to give them a better understanding of bike accidents — something that’s been a problem for police departments around the country. And handed Beck a copy of two articles from the International Police Mountain Bike Association that explained how to investigate cycling accidents, which he promised to read.

Due to the late start of the meeting, Chief Beck had to leave during the comments, and turned the session over to Asst. Chief Paysinger, who quickly voiced his support for cyclists.

“Before my knees went bad, I was a rather avid cyclist myself,” he said.

He added that when he was a division chief — with Chief Beck serving beneath him — there were less than 100 bike officers on the force; now over 500 officers have received bike training. “Young cops love it,” he explained, since it gets them out of their cars, gives them a chance interact with people, and lets them exercise while working.

In other words, pretty much the same reasons the rest of us do.

CD5 Council Member Paul Koretz related a story of watching a hit-and-run incident in which a driver parked illegally in order to use an ATM. When a parking enforcement officer stopped to write a ticket, the driver jumped back in his car and took off, running over both of the parking officer’s legs in the process — but leaving his ATM card behind. Sure enough, the driver eventually came back for his card.

And wasn’t charged with hit-and-run since he returned to the scene.

He added that he doesn’t think bike and pedestrian incidents are taken seriously enough by the LAPD. To which Paysinger responded, “I can’t speak to the past. But we’re here today to show that things have changed.” Better investigations, he suggested, would lead to better prosecutions.

District 7 Councilmember Richard Alarcón told how he had been the first to arrive after a cycling accident, finding a rider laying unconscious in the road. After the cyclist had been taken away by ambulance, he asked the police officers what they were going to do with the bike, adding that they seemed confused, but took the bike — most likely because a councilman had asked them to.

Paysinger said the policy was to find someone on the scene who could take custody of the bike, or call a friend or relative of the victim to come get it. Failing that, the officers would impound the bike and release it later to the victim or someone the victim designates; the police should never leave the bike behind, he said.

There was one testy exchange when a rider complained about a recent incident when an officer stopped him for riding too slowly, telling him “If you want to ride like that, go to Culver City.” He said he had filed a complaint, but received a response denying that the incident had taken place. Paysinger said to give him a copy of the letter, and he would look into it personally.

As the meeting was winding down, Chief Paysinger responded to a comment from Roadblock by suggesting that state law may need to be changed to increase penalties for hit-and-run.

With that, I got up and asked that the council request the City Attorney to work with cyclists in drafting a bill that could be taken to the state legislature. And added that penalties should include automatic revocation of the drivers license for anyone who flees the scene of a collision, and seizure of the vehicle involved upon conviction.

After all, drivers can currently have their cars seized if they’re used for drug crimes, drunk driving or cruising for prostitutes. So why shouldn’t it be taken if the car is actually used in the commission of a crime, as in a hit-and-run?

Rosendahl responded by offering a resolution asking the City Attorney to look into drafting a bill, which Koretz quickly seconded.

So it’s a start.

A first step in drafting a new, tougher hit-and-run law.

And a new, and hopefully better, day in dealing with the LAPD.

My apologies to those who spoke at the meeting; I was drawn into other conversations during the comment period, and wasn’t able to write down everyone’s comments. However, you can read more about the ride and meeting, as well as comments from a number of riders, in stories from the L.A. Times, LA Streetsblog and the LACBC.

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On a related note, proof that it’s not just the Chief and Asst. Chief who support cycling on the LAPD.

The general public is invited to take part in the upcoming March 13 Ride to Arrest Cancer, benefitting the Los Angeles Police Cancer Support Group. The ride offers routes of 15, 25 and 50 miles, starting at the Valley Traffic Division at the Plant in Panorama City, and visiting various police stations throughout the Valley. Preregistration cost is just $25 for adults ($30 day of the ride) and $15 for kids under 12, and includes BBQ, a T-Shirt and official police escort.

The LAPCSG exists to benefit “members of the law enforcement community who are living with cancer, cancer survivors, family members, friends, or caregivers.” As someone who has lost friends and family to the disease, I can’t think of a better cause.

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I’ll have today’s links later in the day — it’s a nice day, and I’ve gotta ride.

TranspoComm Chair Rosendahl draws a line in the sand

It hasn’t been easy watching the City Council this past year.

Especially the Transportation Committee.

I’ve watched as council members requested a response from various city agencies on issues ranging from the long-delayed Sharrows pilot project to the LAPD’s flawed response to the Hummer Incident.  Only to see them sit back and accept lame excuses from the people who supposedly work for them — to the point that I’ve wondered who really runs this city.

Sort of like watching someone tease a caged animal that has long ago given up fighting back. And yes, I have seen that, in a less enlightened time and a far less enlightened place; it evokes the same sort of stomach-twisting pity I’ve felt watching our government in action.

Maybe that changed yesterday.

This is how the Transportation Committee chambers looked when the hearing was scheduled to begin

After a seemingly endless delay in the scheduled 2 pm start time that left cyclists wondering if the committee had blown them off — followed by visibly livid committee member Richard Alarcón storming out of the meeting just moments after the members finally arrived and an impromptu hearing on the issue of overnight RV parking in Venice — the nearly bike-only Transportation Committee meeting finally began.

And truncated though it was, it was worth the wait. If only to watch committee Chair Bill Rosendahl get his back up and start demanding answers from the people who work for this city.

Because of the late start, two items — updates on the Sharrows program, which has been delayed to near-infinity, and the proposed bike-sharing program — were dropped entirely.

A third motion to increase the number of bike parking spaces required for new developments was touched on briefly, only because an audience member wanted to comment on it after going out of his way to attend the meeting. Although why it should be limited to new developments is beyond me, when City Hall doesn’t even offer adequate bike space.

This is what passes for bike parking at L.A. City Hall

From the beginning, Rosendahl ran the short-handed meeting with a firm hand. In addition to the Alarcón storm-out, Bernard Parks was missing in action and Tom LaBonge had to leave before the last, and most important, issue was discussed — leaving just Rosendahl and the recently elected 5th district representative Paul Koretz.

When the representatives from LADOT and the Planning department mentioned Federal funding that may be available in connection to the new bike plan, Rosenhdahl asked, “Do we need a resolution to get that? Because I want to get that money.”

He followed up with a list of 12 hard-hitting questions prepared in conjunction with bike activists Stephen Box and Alex Thompson; to be honest, though, the limited responses offered were far less important than the fact that someone was finally starting to ask them.

Bike Coordinator Michele Mowery’s insistence that the plan the city presented was the one that Alta Planning delivered brought audible murmurs of “bullshit” from the audience — or it could have just been me. Her answer may have been technically correct, but very few people actually believe this is the plan that Alta wanted to deliver.

She also was taken to task by audience members for “playing the race card,” suggesting that L.A.’s diversity makes it more challenging to build to a functional bikeway system than it is in a city like Portland — “a homogeneous community that is very white, and very progressive with respect to transportation,” while L.A. is a “very diverse, disjointed city of 4 million people.”

Dr. Alex has already written a very hard-hitting response to that; if you haven’t read it, click here and read it now. Well, maybe when you’re done with this. But seriously, read it.

Complementing Rosendahl’s newly newly demonstrated commitment, Koretz was also a pleasant surprise.

Throughout the meeting, he spoke very little, sitting quietly until audience members were making their comments. Then he interrupted briefly to note that he also rides a bike, but isn’t comfortable riding on L.A. city streets. And asked if this plan would allow inexperienced cyclists to get where they want to go.

The overwhelming answer was no.

Rosendahl responded firmly to my comment that all the work spent on this bike plan is a waste of time unless there was a commitment to actually build it — unlike the 1996 plan, which had no apparent use other than as a very large and clumsy paperweight.

He insisted that he will make sure the final plan is built — the first commitment any city official has made to this plan, including the people responsible for it. “There’s been enough talk,” he said. “No more words, it’s time for action.”

That attitude was also in evidence when representatives of the LAPD appeared to update the council on recent cycling cases, including the Hummer Incident, as well as the West L.A. case I wrote about recently — noting that no arrest has been made, but the matter has been referred to the City Attorney for possible charges.

When the respected Commander Greer — recently promoted to Assistant Commander of the Detective Bureau — mentioned that a report has been completed on the Hummer case, but not yet approved, Rosendahl said he wanted a copy prior to the next meeting, approved or not.

And in a huge win for cyclists, Cmmdr. Greer announced that all officers below the rank of Lieutenant will be required to complete a brief online course on riders’ rights and responsibilities, created by a group a bike officers. Rosendahl pushed them to take a step further, insisting that the department needs to create a bike training module for the police academy — something I’ve repeatedly called for on here.

Of course, it wasn’t all good news. The Commander noted that Lt. Andre Dawson, recently appointed by Chief Beck as the point man for cycling complaints, will no longer be involved in the process and asked that cyclists no longer contact him.

However, the committee saved the best for last.

The most important issue of the evening — and yes, by then it was evening — was the proposed anti-harassment ordinance.

After hearing from several cyclists, Koretz said he’d heard a few stories about the problems cyclists face on the roads, but had no idea it was so widespread. With that, he made a motion to forward the proposal on to the Public Safety Committee, which was quickly seconded by Rosendahl — meaning that it carried, since they were the only two members left at that point.

However, it was not quite the win that LAist suggested last night. What passed was merely a proposal requesting that the City Attorneys’ office write such an ordinance, similar to the one that recently became law in Columbia, Missouri. Mowery suggested that it cover such topics as hurling projectiles at cyclists, threats or verbal abuse, using a vehicle to intimidate cyclists, and passing too close to — or buzzing — cyclists.

Its small win, the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and complicated process.

But it’s a win.

And for once, I left with a smile on my face

And without a knot in my stomach.

LA Streetsblog has more on the meeting here; and you can listen to a recording of the meeting here.

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Will Campbell has a front road seat to a bike wreck. Paul Krekorian, author of the failed Safe Streets bill, is the city’s newest council member. Sharrows pop up in Glendale — legal ones, this time. Wilshire Boulevard is 75 years old; Flying Pigeon keeps up the fight to make Figueroa bike friendly. The Pigeons are also featured on the VOA’s Persian TV. Bikerowave claims success with their recent swamp meet. Photos of the CalTrain bike car. A Tucson mother fights for a memorial for her cycling son — and politely corrects thoughtless car-head commenters. Copenahgenize reminds us that us that New York’s recently removed bike lane results from a conflict between the Hasids and the Hotties; city hall isn’t denying a deal was made, while Bike Snob suggests maybe cyclists should act like grown-ups. New bike lanes in Philadelphia have resulted in a doubling of bike traffic; just imagine what they could do here. Bikes remain banned from a primary street in De Soto, Kansas; old car-head thinking from a town that shares its name with an old car. A biking Asheville lawyer argues for equilibrium on the roads. Trust the geniuses at MIT to create a combo bike rack/tire pump. A cycling schoolgirl plunges 90 feet into a Scottish gorge and lives to tell the tale. Finally, Brit cyclists are in a tizzy over the bike-hating Mail’s obviously staged photograph, standing in a bikeway to force a cyclist onto the wrong side, then taking — and publishing — a photo of it.

An open letter CD5 Council Member Koretz and the Transportation Committee

Council Member Paul Koretz
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 440
Los Angeles, California 90012

Dear Council Member Koretz,

During your race for the Los Angeles City Council, I submitted a series of questions about bicycling issues to your campaign; in your response, you voiced support for bicyclists and for improving bicycle infrastructure in Los Angeles, as well as the need to reform the law in order to better protect cyclists.

In light of this Wednesday’s Transportation Committee meeting focusing on bicycling issues, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of your support, and call your attention to a few of the items on the agenda:

1) Proposed bicycle anti-harassment ordinance

As you may be aware, cyclists throughout the U.S. face daily harassment simply for exercising their right to ride in a safe and legal manner. Virtually any experienced rider can tell you stories of being yelled at or honked at by motorists, passed in an unsafe manner, having things thrown at them or being forced off the roadway — or in extreme cases, intentionally struck by a motor vehicle.

A number of states, including Massachusetts, Louisiana and Colorado, have recently passed laws to address this problem, as have a handful of cities, including Austin, Texas and Columbia, Missouri. While a similar law should be passed on a statewide level, there is much the city can and should do to address this problem.

Article 1 of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights — which you endorsed — says cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear. Therefore, I strongly urge you to support the proposed anti-harassment ordinance, and encourage you to take an active interest in its drafting to ensure a law that is both effective and enforceable to protect the rights and safety of bicyclists.

2) Report from LAPD on bicycle incidents and conflicts between bicyclists and motorists

Many local cyclists have long felt that we don’t receive adequate support from the LAPD. There have been numerous reports of police officers misinterpreting or misapplying existing laws, as well as reports of apparent bias in investigating incidents between bicyclists and motorists; Chief Beck has recently agreed to create a working group to look into these complaints.

Again, this problem is not limited to the City of Los Angeles. Municipalities throughout California and across the nation have struggled with the same problem, which appears to be a result of inadequate training rather than active discrimination against cyclists. In my experience, most officers want to do the right thing, but may lack the training in bicycle law and bike accident investigation necessary to evaluate the situation, interpret the evidence and make qualified decisions.

Fortunately, this is easily rectified. MassBike, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has developed a simple two-hour program intended to serve as a national template for training police officers in bike law, available as a free download or on CD for just $15; this program could be easily modified to reflect local and state regulations. The International Police Mountain Bike Association offers detailed articles on how to investigate accidents involving bicycles, also available as a free download.

Article 3 of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights says that cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement. I urge you to hold the LAPD to their commitment to report back to the Council, accurately and in detail, and encourage the department to improve training for both new and existing officers.

3) Support changes in state law to curtail hit-and-run drivers

Finally, I would like to bring up one item that isn’t on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, but perhaps should be.

This year alone, three local cyclists have been killed by hit-and-run drivers; in each instance, the driver was also suspected of driving under the influence. Just last week, two cyclists were critically injured in collisions in which the driver fled the scene.

As you pointed out in your responses, the problem is that penalties for hit-and-run under state law are far too low:

I also believe that penalties for hit-and-run drivers need to be substantially increased and enforced. It’s a serious crime and the penalties need to be much stiffer for offenders.  I strongly believe that our current system lets drunk drivers off the hook too easily.

Under existing law, it is actually to the driver’s benefit to flee the scene of an accident if he or she has been drinking, as the penalties for drunk driving far outweigh the penalties for hit-and-run. This has to change.

As a member of the City Council and a former member of the state legislature, I strongly encourage you to introduce a motion putting the Transportation Committee and the full L.A. City Council on record as supporting an increase in the mandatory penalties for hit and run, including automatic loss of license and/or forfeiture of the vehicle involved. In addition, I urge you to use your influence with the legislature to get such legislation passed into law.

This meeting is your opportunity put your words in support of cycling into action. And for you, and the other members of the Transportation Committee, to help make the streets of this city safer and fairer, not just for bicyclists, but for everyone who drives, walks or rides in Los Angeles.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
Bikinginla.com

An open letter to the L.A. City Council Transportation Committee

As things stand right now, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to attend today’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee. So this morning, I emailed the following letter to each of the committee members:

Dear Councilmember,

During recent City Council and Transportation Committee meetings, I have watched as council members have made a number of specific bike-related requests to various city agencies. These have ranged from requesting a trial Sharrows project from LADOT, to asking the LAPD to report back about recent bicycle incidents and improving training related to bicycle activities.

However, instead of proceeding with a Sharrows project, a representative of LADOT first claimed uncertainty over what type of paint to use to avoid liability for cyclists slipping on wet paint. Yet they could have answered that question by calling their corresponding departments in San Francisco or New York, or any of the countless cities which already use Sharrows – or they could have simply visited UCLA, which has had Sharrows on campus for a number of years. Now LADOT reports that they will be unable to move forward with an initial Sharrows project until at least next year.

Meanwhile, the LAPD initial response on the Hummer incident barely scratched the surface, concluding that the investigating officer had been correct – without addressing the concerns of the cycling community that this accident could not have occurred in the manner the officer described, or that by their failure to respond appropriately, they had given drivers tacit approval to assault cyclists.

The clear impression given by these inadequate responses is that city agencies do not feel they have to take council members seriously, or respond to them in a timely or accurate matter. Frankly, as a resident of Los Angeles, I find that prospect frightening, as it raises questions of whether our elected officials are actually in charge of this city.

Today, you are scheduled to hear from Alta Planning regarding the new Bicycle Master Plan, as well as receiving a report from the LAPD following their failure to appear last week. I hope that you will insist that all city agencies, as well as outside contractors, respond to the Council and its committees in a complete, accurate and truthful manner, and that you will not accept any response that fails to address the questions at hand.

I would also call your attention to the MassBike Police Officer Training program, developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a national template to educate police departments about laws relating to bicyclists. I would request that the representatives of the LAPD be asked whether this information is currently being taught at the police academy; and if not, if there is any valid reason why this free, two-hour program cannot be incorporated into the existing officer training curriculum at the police academy.

As for Alta Planning, I hope you will ask them if the current version of the Bicycle Master Plan accurately reflects their vision and work, or if there is an earlier draft which is more reflective of their efforts. In addition, I request that you will ask them if any city employees or departments have played an active role in restricting their efforts, resulting in the expensive failure of the current proposed plan.

As citizens of Los Angeles, you are our representatives in governing this city. Unless and until you hold every city agency accountable for failing to respond appropriately to your requests, we will have no voice in the management, future and livability of our own city.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers

Los Angeles 5th Council District

………

Alex marks the one year anniversary of Taco Tuesdays, and the rapidly evolving bike scene that gave birth to it. Mikey Wally is one of 42 cyclists making their way from New York to L.A. A San Diego-area cyclist riding across country is killed in Illinois by a hit-and-run driver. Long Beach is moving forward with a new bike trail along the old Red Car line. Kiplinger calculates how much you can save biking to work. Bike Week comes to my old hometown. Alabama discovers that narrow country roads and inattentive/aggressive drivers could pose a hazard to cyclists. New York marks over 30 years of bike racing in Harlem. And finally, evidently, the recent Arizona letter writer was right, as one of those selfish cyclists in Utah is killed when a driver goes into diabetic shock.

Sometimes, not riding is the right thing to do

Just as the weatherman predicted, this turned out to be a beautiful day. A perfect day for riding, in fact — warm, mostly sunny and almost no wind.

In fact, when I stepped outside this morning, every fiber of my being urged me to get on the bike, and not look back until I had at least 30 miles under my belt. Every fiber, that is, except the ones that insisted I belonged here, instead.

Maybe it had something to do with putting my money where my mouth is. Maybe it was a genuine desire to make a difference, or hold our elected officials accountable.

Or maybe I just wanted to meet some of those people I read every day. Like the ones you’ll find over there on the right.

So I rearranged my schedule, put off a couple of work calls, and made it out of here about 15 minutes after the meeting was supposed to start. Then there was the hour drive it took to travel 12 miles from West L.A. to downtown. (Note to L.A. traffic planners: if you really need another reason why we need to put more bikes — and fewer cars — on the roads, I’d say that just about sums it up.)

Combine that with the 15 minutes it took to hike from the parking lot and pass through security, and I got to the 3-hour City Council Transportation Committee meeting about the time it was halfway over. So I’ll let someone who was actually there for the whole thing tell you what happened.

What I saw, though, was surprising enough.

From a room full of cyclists of every possible description, to council members  — like Bill Rosendahl and Wendy Greuel — who actually seemed to give a damn about making this city a better place for bicyclists, not to mention the other people we share the roads with (or with whom we share the roads, if you prefer).

And to be fair, some of the other people who were there had good things to say about Tom LaBonge, who was called away before I arrived, and Bernard Parks, who was largely silent while I was there.

By the time the meeting was over, I was ready to kiss Rosendahl. Though I don’t think either one of us would have particularly enjoyed that.

The speakers from the L.A. Department of Transportation were a different matter. Sharrows have been used successfully in a number of cities for years now — even right here in Los Angeles, on the campus of UCLA. And yet, to hear them talk, you would assume it was some sort of new technology that must be tested in double blind safety studies to prove they won’t explode or turn us into brain-sucking mutant zombies.

And not only could they not figure what streets to put them on, they weren’t even sure if the paint would be too slick to ride on safely. (Note to LADOT: just call UCLA and ask them what the hell they used, since it hasn’t seemed to have killed anyone yet.)

They also weren’t sure sharrows could, or should, be painted on busy streets. (Note to LADOT: we already ride on those streets. We’d just like it to be a little safer, please.)

In the end, though, it turned out to a pretty positive experience — even if it did cost me a good ride.

And all those cyclists I met?

They turned out to be pretty nice people, too.

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