Tag Archive for L.A. City Council Transportation Committee

Morning Links: Clueless think tankers get bike funding wrong, and LA TranspoComm votes to screw cyclists

How does someone get a job at a think tank when they’re this clueless?

The San Diego Reader talks with Cato Institute Senior Fellow Randall O’Toole, who goes to great lengths to stress that he is, in fact, a cyclist himself, in discussing the city’s planned downtown bikeway network.

When I spoke with O’Toole, he wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t be construed as anti-bicycle or anti-public transportation. His stance is that the best form of transit is the one that pays for itself, which leads, he says, to vital questions: Why should the government subsidize non-automotive transportation, and if said modes can’t make it on their own, why should they be preferred? O’Toole urges governmental neutrality when it comes to how Americans choose to travel, adding, “That neutrality should extend to financing. There should be no subsidies to any form of travel.”

Never mind that the automobile is the most heavily subsidized form of surface transportation in the US.

So sure, let’s level the playing field.

Let’s stop subsidizing freeways and road expansions, traffic signals, traffic enforcement, pothole fixing and the whole auto-industrial complex that is funded, not out of gas taxes, but out of the same general fund everyone pays into.

Bike riders included.

You’d think even someone with a Koch Brothers funded think tank would know that.

And we’ll see how long it takes for drivers to rise up in revolt when they suddenly have to pay the full cost of the roads they use, and every other associated service, out of their own pockets.

Then there’s Baruch Feigenbaum of the libertarian-leaning Reason Institute, who also gets it wrong when it comes to who pays for the road.

And a lot more.

If the streets are underused and there’s room for the bicycle lanes, I have no problem with San Diego putting them in. They’re relatively cheap to install, assuming all you’re doing is re-painting lines or painting the bicycle lane green. That’s fine. The challenge is that when you have a lot of car traffic in that area, the bike lane will make congestion worse. Since car traffic seems to be dominant in San Diego, motorists are the folks we should actually be building the infrastructure for. There is a subsidy for automobiles, but it’s typically much smaller than the ones for other forms of transportation. Cyclists don’t pay for the use of the infrastructure they’re utilizing; there’s no ‘bicycle tire tax’ or anything like that. But we should be planning for the way people actually commute, not the way we’d like them to commute. Since most San Diego residents are driving, I’m hesitant to take away lanes for cars and allocate them for bike use unless there’s excess capacity.

Never mind that taking those lanes away can improve safety, livability and air quality, along with a host of other benefits to the general community.

And never mind that studies consistently show that up to two-thirds of the American people would like to ride a bike if they felt safe doing it.

Or that with many of our streets already at or over capacity, the only way to improve traffic congestion is to get people out of their cars by providing them with viable alternatives to driving.

Which is exactly what San Diego is doing. And what LA desperately needs to.

You’d think someone with a high-paying job at a prestigious think tank would get that.

But evidently, you’d be wrong.

Thanks to Frank Lehnerz for the heads-up.


No surprise here.

Streetsblog reports the LA City Council’s Transportation Committee voted to adopt the anti-bike amendments to the Mobility Plan, stripping bike lanes planned for Westwood Blvd and Central Ave out of the plan.

Especially since Paul Koretz, who has led the fight against the Westwood bike lanes on behalf of a small group of entitled homeowners, sits on the committee.

Although it’s disappointing to see CD4 Councilmember David Ryu vote to support Koretz’ ill-advised motion to keep continue to depress business and keep Westwood Blvd dangerous.

Now all that’s left is for the full council to rubber-stamp the decision in a week or two; as we’ve noted before, the fix is in, and has been for some time.


Vuelta officials apologize for a bollard near the finish of Wednesday’s course that left Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk with a broken collarbone; Chris Froome narrowly avoided the crash.



A website talks with Manny Silva, owner of Manny’s Bike Shop in Compton, who claims to have invented the lowrider bicycle.

Westwood officially became the only section of the city where it’s legal to lock a bicycle to a parking meter, as LADOT installed hoop racks on the meters. However, the law against locking up to parking meters is rarely enforced.

The LACBC is now looking at families who ride together with the new LACBC Family page, leading to a family bike ride next month; the site profiles LA Bike Dad Terence Heuston, who we met here last week.

LA’s Eco-Village is planning to develop a Koreatown lot currently containing an auto repair shop into a four story, carfree mixed use building.

Evidently, Haley Joel Osment is one of us, as the paparazzi catch him going into a Burbank bike shop.

The nation’s first Raleigh store opened on Main Street in Santa Monica over the weekend.

The LACBC is hosting their Beach Cities Sunday Funday ride on Memorial Day weekend.

The inimitable Seth Davidson will host the fourth annual South Bay Cycling Wanky Awards on October 22nd. I’d probably need a hankie if I won a Wanky.

And mark your calendar for the return of Long Beach’s Beach Streets open streets event on November 12th.



An Encinitas cyclist is recovering from a hit-and-run that nearly left him paralyzed earlier this month, but the driver remains at large; a gofundme account has raised over $5,000 for a reward.

Coronado, where bike lanes make local residents dizzy, has installed a pair of city-owned bike repair stations. Which means residents are probably sharpening their pitchforks and prepping their torches for the next city council meeting.

A Ramona cyclist raised nearly $29,000 for Alzheimer’s research on a 9-1/2 week ride across the US to honor his late wife.

Two years later, opinions are still split on a Riverside road diet, even though crashes are down 29%; bike crashes increased from two to four after the bike lanes were put in, perhaps because ridership also doubled.

Katy Perry is one of us, too, as she admits to singing while riding her bike on the way to a Santa Barbara studio to record her new album.

A Redding driver, who says he’s a cyclist himself, says bike riders need to share the road too. Even though he seems to think that means we should get the hell out of his way.



The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says go ahead and keep using that cellphone while you drive.

Co.Exist lists 50 reasons why everyone should want walkable streets. Virtually all of which apply to bicycling, as well.

Bicycling, the magazine, adapts Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to bicycling, the sport/transportation mode.

A Kickstarter project is funding a locking wall bike mount that could secure your bike in your home, garage or office.

Portland proposes considering all road users, including bike riders and pedestrians, in setting speed limits, which could result in slashing limits on several streets. A similar interpretation of the deadly 85th percentile rule could improve livability and save untold lives here in Los Angeles.

A Seattle area blogger says he’s quit bike commuting due to the terrible state of bike infrastructure on the east side of the city.

A Utah truck driver, who apparently doesn’t have brakes on his rig, warns cyclists not to ride abreast and to get the hell out of his way when he honks because he doesn’t want to kill them.

A Wisconsin bike shop owner says you don’t have to be a pro to get out on your bicycle.

A Wisconsin woman gets just 60 days for fleeing the scene after crashing into a nine-year old boy, despite trying to cover-up the crime by removing her hubcaps and dying her hair.

The mother of a fallen Chicago bicyclist calls on the Catholic school her younger kids attend to lift its ban on biking to school. Meanwhile, a Chicago advocacy group starts a public campaign to stop people from blocking the bike lanes.

A newly re-configured New York protected bike lane appears to be protecting cars instead of bike riders.

Philadelphia police are on the lookout for a bike-riding serial groper who sexually assaults women in dresses.



Great ad campaign from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park in the Canadian Rockies says if you’re not riding, you’re not really awake.

An Ottawa man now walks wearing a t-shirt reading “Use your bell” after getting knocked down by a bike rider. I find saying “passing on your left” works better than a bell, since it tells people exactly where you’re going, and usually get thanked for it. Although Bike Snob somehow finds that rude.

A Toronto personal trainer offers tips on how to mitigate the negative effects of cycling on your body.

A coalition of British cycling groups says drivers should have to interact with cyclists as part of their driving test. So who wants to volunteer to be the driving test crash test dummies?

A new Swedish apartment building is the country’s first built around the needs of bicycle and cargo bike riders, with no motor vehicle parking.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo is committed to giving Parisians back the space cars have stolen from them.

A writer for the Guardian asks if Sydney, Australia’s draconian anti-bike laws have gone too far, as a rider gets $531 in fines — including a $106 fine for not having a bell — and bike riders will soon be required to carry ID at all times. Gee, you think?



No, seriously. Don’t ride up to a driver, punch him in the face and steal his sunglasses. Just don’t. Call it the Swiss Army Knife of Kickstarter smart bike gadgets.

And your next Brooks product could go on the other end.


Morning Links: Mobility Plan suffers setback, Militant Angeleno’s CicLAvia guide, and more Bike Week news

The May BikinginLA LACBC Membership Drive is slowly climbing, now up to 14 new or renewing members of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition — which means we’ve got just two and a half weeks to reach the goal of 100 new members by the end of May.

Few things are more important that adding your voice to Southern California’s leading bike advocacy organization. Because individually, we can’t accomplish much, but together, we can move mountains. And maybe even councilmembers.

So please, take a few moments to sign up now. Consider it a personal favor for me, you, and countless other bike riders in the LA area.

And a special thank you to everyone who has already signed up already!


Looks like the fix is in.

And Westwood and Central could be out.

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton reports the LA City Council’s Transportation Committee voted Wednesday to support a pair of anti-bike amendments to the city’s Mobility Plan.

After the Planning Commission voted to keep the city’s Mobility Plan intact earlier this year, rejecting proposals to remove bike lanes proposed for Westwood Blvd and Central Ave, the plan came back to the Transportation Committee yesterday, where Councilmember Paul Koretz pulled a fast one.

Rather than arguing once again for removal of the streets from the plan, he proposed a quartet of alternate streets: Gayley Avenue and Midvale Avenue in Westwood, and Avalon Boulevard and San Pedro Street in South LA.

None of which provide direct routes, while shunting bike riders off commercial corridors and onto back streets — even though studies have repeatedly shown bike lanes are good for local businesses. And even though many riders, especially women, are less likely to ride routes out of public view after dark.

Not to mention that those streets would require extensive signalization and improved crossings, dramatically increasing costs.

Surprisingly, the usually bike friendly Jose Huizar joined Koretz and David Ryu in supporting the proposal, despite near unanimous calls from speakers to keep the plan intact. As a result, Koretz’ proposal will now go before the full council on Friday; if they vote to support it, it will go back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.

But regardless of what the commission rules, the full council can, and possibly will, override their recommendations with a three-quarters vote.

Which is more likely than not in a city where councilmembers usually vote in lockstep out of a deathly fear of alienating one another. With the result that they rule as virtual kings in their own districts, with virtually no checks or balances on their decisions.

Not to mention an ostensibly bike-friendly mayor who professes to support safer streets, yet doesn’t seem willing to take on individual councilmembers to make it happen. Thus making LA’s weak mayor system that much weaker.

And demonstrating once again that the seven-year public process that went into developing the Mobility Plan means nothing compared to the whims of a councilman.


It’s here!

The Militant Angeleno has released his long-awaited, personally researched guide to Sunday’s CicLAvia through the cities of Southeast LA County.

His guides are always fascinating, so don’t ride without giving it a read first.


Still more news leading up to next week’s Bike Week.

Metrolink is offering free rides to anyone with a bicycle during Bike Week.

Santa Monica Spoke is hosting a Bike Week Camp Coffee Wednesday on the jetty at the end of Ballona Creek.

And Pasadena invites bicyclists to stop by city hall on Bike to Work Day next Thursday.


More sad news, as Canadian pro downhill champ Stevie Smith was killed in an enduro motorcycle crash on Tuesday.

Women’s pro cyclist Lauren De Crescenzo is back in her home state of Colorado as she continues to recover from a devastating head injury suffered in the San Dimas Stage Race; her memory is slowly returning after initially being unable to even recognize her own parents or teammates. A gofundme account has raised over $46,000 to help defray her medical expenses.

And seriously, what’s a little tow between friends?



Just a tad late. The LA Times finally catches up with BMX pro Nigel Sylvester’s high speed, law defying tour of LA, a month after the video was featured here and on other media sites.

The LACBC talks with the bike-riding Gangsta Gardner of South LA.

Bikeshare has officially opened in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills. That chill you feel is Hell freezing over.

Walk or ride your bike to the station when Metro opens the Expo line next week; otherwise it will cost you a whole $2 a day to park at the station.

The Canyon News looks forward to Santa Monica’s first open streets event next month.

The Glendale driver caught on video trying to run a cyclist off road, then lying about it to authorities, has pled not guilty to three misdemeanor counts.

A Santa Clarita mountain biker was airlifted to safety after falling and apparently dislocating his shoulder. Rescuers rescued his bike, as well.

A man who may have been riding a bicycle was shot to death in an alley in Bell Tuesday night; two bikes were found in the alley along with the victim after the shooter fled.



A Chula Vista bike rider was struck by a big rig truck on an onramp to the 805 Freeway Wednesday morning; the 62-year old victim escaped with a broken leg.

A columnist for the Riverside Press-Enterprise is back to riding after breaking his wrist in a mountain biking race.

A British man has been arrested hiding on bike path on the Central Coast after he allegedly killed his estranged wife and mother-in-law in Clovis, then fled on a stolen bicycle.

A San Jose paper looks at the growth in bicycling and efforts to improve safety and infrastructure in the Bay Area. Although the headline could use some improvement. Cyclists don’t “trump” cars; bicycles simply provide an alternative to driving, which benefits everyone.

Sacramento begins construction on bike lanes on a city street, six years after high school students produced a video demonstrating the need for them.



Some pastors are extending their parishes to bike lanes and the riders who use them, recognizing that cyclists know the risks of the roads and choose to ride anyway. Nothing like making bicycling seem more dangerous than it really is.

Nearly 500 US retailers are participating in the BikeExchange, an online marketplace for bikes and equipment.

Momentum Magazine makes the business case for public bikeshare systems.

A black teenage girl is suing a white police officer for a brutal assault when she tried to ride off after he stopped her and her brother as they biked through a Tacoma WA parking lot; security camera footage shows the cop repeatedly pushing her up against an SUV and throwing her to the ground before using his Taser on her, while later claiming that she had attacked him.

San Antonio residents get out their torches and pitchforks after sharrows unexpectedly appear on their street, successfully demanding their removal. Seriously people, they’re just sharrows; it’s not like they actually mean anything.

Chicago police allege a group of gangbangers in an SUV made a U-turn to deliberately run down a bike rider, dragging him for blocks in an apparent random attack; yet so far the driver only faces misdemeanor charges.

A writer for the New York Times says combining intense intervals with longer rides could offer the greatest health and fitness rewards.

New York’s mayor overrides objections from a local community board to build protected bike lanes on Queens’ Boulevard of Death. Which shows what can happen in a city where leaders have the political will to support bicycling.

A Virginia woman was killed in a hit-and-run after she and her boyfriend met with a young woman, assaulted her and stole her phone before the pair fled by bicycle.

Louisiana moves forward with a vulnerable user law to increase penalties for drivers who injure or kill bicyclists and pedestrians. How about just keeping them from hitting us in the first place?



A Canadian writer says he pities long distance hikers and cyclists; but once the pain wears off, the vivid memories remain and he wants to do it all again.

A philosophy professor asks why so few black people ride bikes in Toronto, while the local paper says the city needs the political will to make its bold bike plan happen. Sounds familiar.

A British man ditched his job to ride 35,000 miles through 44 countries, raising $7,700 for charity. Which works out to 22 cents a mile.

The Guardian offers advice on how to ride in a group, while Bike Radar provides good tips on safer city cycling.

Bicycling offers four reasons by Budapest is great for bicycling.



Now all you thrash rocker fans can own your very own Slayer BMX bike. A British inventor wants to secure your bike with a big bang.

And give your fellow riders a wave. But only if you deem them worthy.


Morning Links: Mobility Plan back to Transpo Comm, and Caltrans hosts bike/ped plan meeting few can attend

Our first ever May BikinginLA LACBC Membership Drive stalled yesterday at 11 new or renewing members of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, which means we still have 89 to go to reach our goal of 100 new members before the end of this month.

So drop what you’re doing and sign up now, because the LACBC may be Southern California’s leading voice bicycle advocacy organizations, but it’s only as strong as its membership. And they need your support.

Not to mention you’ll get free bike swag when you sign up, with special discounted memberships starting at just $20.


LA’s Mobility Plan 2035 comes back before the city council’s Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, the city Planning Commission unanimously rejected proposed anti-bike amendments to the plan, including proposals to remove Westwood Blvd and Central Ave from the plan.

Now those amendments will be discussed by the committee, which includes Paul Koretz, who unilaterally stopped implementation of the Westwood bike lanes, and is the author of the amendment to remove them from the plan.

Opponents of the plan are likely to be out in force, so your voice needs to be heard, as well.

If you can’t make it, you can email the committee members at the addresses below.

You can find contact information for the rest of the city council here.


If you’re not doing anything this afternoon, Caltrans is hosting a public forum to discuss the first California State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, immediately followed by a stakeholder’s meeting.

Hats off to Caltrans for their brilliant strategy to avoid overcrowding by holding the meeting at a time when most people can’t attend.


In Bike Month news, Santa Monica will formally proclaim May as National Bike Month at tonight’s council meeting.

Multicultural Communities for Mobility will host an Eastside Mural Ride this Saturday, which should help you get in the mood for Sunday’s CicLAvia.

CICLE hosts the 10th Annual Bike Week Pasadena next week, including a Pasadena Restaurant Tour, Women’s Bike Night and a Bike-In Movie Night.

A Santa Clarita hospital will work with the city to co-sponsor five pit stops for Bike to Work Day on the 19th.

The Orange County Transportation Authority officially kicks off bike month with a morning bike rally this Thursday; OC’s Blessing of the Bicycles will be held on the 16th, followed by the annual Ride of Silence on the 18th.

And evidently, it’s National Protected Bike Lane Week.


Giro d’Italia riders and fans pause to remember Belgian rider Wouter Weyland five years after he lost his life during the third stage of the 2011 race.

Meanwhile, teams are gearing up for the Amgen Tour of California, which kicks off at San Diego’s Mission Bay on Sunday; CiclaValley provides a preview of the race.



Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers a visual look at Sunday’s Los Angeles Bike Festival at Grand Park in DTLA.

The LACBC profiles former pro mountain biker Neil Shirley, editor of Road Bike Action Magazine.

A man rode his bike up to a South El Monte business Monday and fatally shot a 22-year old co-worker; he was wrestled to the ground by his fellow employees and held until sheriff’s deputies arrived.



Not even motorcyclists are safe in San Diego bike lanes. Not that he should have been riding there to begin with.

San Bernardino opens a bike co-op operated by the Inland Empire Biking Alliance.

That didn’t take long. An automated San Francisco bike counter was vandalized less than a week after it was installed.

A San Francisco cyclist suffered a shattered clavicle in a hit-and-run when a motorcyclist tried, and failed, to pass him on the right while traveling with a group of four other motorcycle riders, none of whom stopped.

SFist offers advice on bike etiquette the City by the Bay. And surprisingly, gets it right for the most part.



Nevada officials approve the first steps in a planned three-mile bike and pedestrian path on Lake Tahoe’s east shore.

A writer for the LA Times visits Moab UT for a little mountain biking, finding even the beginner trails tougher than advertised.

A Wisconsin town embraces an ex-con, despite a life of crime that began with stealing a bicycle and a candy bar when he was just eleven years old; he spent all but six months of the last five decades either on the run or behind bars.

A Massachusetts professor says it’s time to stop treating bicyclists and pedestrians like second class citizens. Amen.

Around 2,000 bicyclists ride down a deadly upstate NY highway in the Slow Roll Buffalo to call attention to plans to convert the road to a parkway.

A New York news site lists the things they hate about bike riders in the city. Most of which you’ve got to be pretty damn cranky to object to.

Hundreds of police officers are riding from the 9/11 Memorial to DC to honor fallen officers.

A Charleston SC bike lawyer says bicycling is a civil rights issue, and as important as any in its ability to positively change lives and communities. As much as I believe in biking’s ability to bring about positive change, I’d suggest voting rights, fighting poverty and equal rights for all minorities ranks a hell of a lot higher.



In a case of locking the barn after the horses escape, a judge orders the closure of the elevated Rio bikeway that collapsed last month, killing three people. Meanwhile, a Brazilian soccer player advises anyone thinking about attending the Rio Olympics to just stay home.

Toronto plans to invest $200 million dollars over the next ten years to build over 325 miles of bikeways.

London’s new mayor promises to accelerate the bicycling progress the city has already made.

Britain’s 51-year old Countess of Wessex joins with members of the Royal Military Academy to train for a ride from Edinburg to Buckingham Palace. In case you’re wondering, she’s the wife of Prince Charles’ baby brother. And yes, I had to look that up.

A gay Glasgow bike rider gets a round of applause for shutting down a homophobic street preacher.

The Limerick, Ireland man who rode his bike on a body armored shotgun shooting rampage gets a well-deserved five and a half years.



As if drivers weren’t happy to do it, now your bike jacket can tell you where to go, too. Seriously, if a road raging driver slams into a car on purpose, it’s not an accident.

And congrats to LA, the unofficial road rage capital of America.

But we already knew that, right?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Ted Rogers

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.


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.

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