Tag Archive for L.A. City Council

Morning Links: A profile in political cowardice on Lankershim Blvd, and biking while your spouse shops

Call it a profile without courage.

The Daily News looks at CD2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian’s last-minute decision to pull the plug on the long-discussed Lankershim Blvd bike lanes in North Hollywood, as he hides under the political fig leaf of claiming more outreach needed to be done.

Because evidently, five years worth of Lankershim meetings, workshops and pop-up bike lanes just isn’t enough. Maybe what he really wants is to keep talking until he’s termed out in 2024, so it can be someone else’s problem.

Meanwhile, CiclaValley questions Krekorian’s leadership on the issue, and sounds pretty damned pissed off about it. And justifiably so.

Krekorian’s rejection of the project may be at least partially related to the defeat of bike advocate Joe Bray-Ali in last month’s CD1 council race, which may have sent a mistaken signal that LA’s politicians have nothing to fear from bike riders.

That’s the wrong lesson to take away from that election, however.

Bray-Ali appeared to be on the verge of an upset victory over incumbent Gil Cedillo when he lost many of his supporters as his comments on a racist website came to light.

It should be seen instead as a sign of what the bicycling community can do when they’re truly motivated, when a sitting councilmember was forced to fight dirty just to hold onto his seat in a city where incumbent members of the city council virtually never lose.

And that’s something Krekorian may want to remember as 2020 approaches.

Krekorian cited fears of lost business along the Lankershim corridor, even though numerous studies have shown that bike lanes are good for business, and creating a more walkable, bikeable corridor could more than make up for the loss of any parking spaces. Which LADOT must have undoubtedly pointed out in discussing the project with him.

And fears of unending traffic jams are usually unfounded, as well, as road diets have been shown to actually improve traffic flow in some cases.

The simple fact is that Krekorian’s decision to keep Lankershim solely dependent on dangerous and unhealthy automotive traffic is far more likely to hinder the success of the district than to benefit it, or the people and businesses in it, in any way.

What it really comes down to is what former New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan discussed in her book Street Fight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution.

…An important observation that I share from my years as commissioner is that when you push the status quo, the status quo pushes back — hard. Six years after we rolled the first barrels into place, closing Broadway to cars, the plazas at Times Square became the new status quo…

The Times Square saga is a reminder that in New York and other cities, changing the streets is a blood sport at all levels. Projects that alter streetscapes upset people who naturally cling to stability, even if that stability is unsafe or inefficient. The flip side is that once change is in place, it becomes the new norm and frames expectations of citizens.

The most important lesson is that safer streets work, and that they can be executed quickly and cheaply… Sustainable streets make sense for safety, traffic, and long-term planning, and they make sense for the economy.

Maybe we should buy him the book.

Or maybe we should all send him copies of Profiles in Courage and Do the Right Thing, because he seems to have missed the point of both.

The real problem, with Krekorian and the rest of LA’s city government, is that they live in constant fear of angering the electorate in their districts — never mind that they probably hold some of the most secure council seats in the country. And so they’re afraid to do anything that might upset anyone, which makes doing nothing seem to be the safer choice.

Which is why the city’s streets are crumbling underneath us, and why they will likely remain dangerous long after our current leaders are gone.

There are exceptions, of course. Mike Bonin in CD11, CD14’s Jose Huizar, and Joe Buscaino in CD15, in particular, have shown genuine leadership and courage in transforming the streets of their districts.

But let’s be honest.

However he chooses to frame it, Krekorian’s decision to pull the plug on Lankershim was less an example of leadership than plain, old fashioned cover-your-ass cowardice.

And the people of Los Angeles deserve better.

If you’re as angry about this as I am, you can let Paul Krekorian know how you feel at an ice cream social today at noon in North Hollywood.

………

Mike Wilkinson forwards this photo captured by his wife Argelia in a Walmart parking lot yesterday.

Photo by Argelia Wilkinson

………

Another young bike racer has been killed on a training ride, as promising junior time trial specialist Joe Guy died when he was struck by a van in the UK.

A European website suggests Giro winner Tom Dumoulin’s bowels may have saved the 100th edition of the race from an epic flop.

The 2019 edition of the Tour de France will honor the legendary Eddy Merckx in the five-time winner’s homeland by departing from Brussels.

………

Local

Unlike NoHo, road diets and bike lanes will be coming to a number of Playa del Rey streets in an attempt to slow traffic, improve safety and reduce cut-through driving. Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents the area, gets it right, pointing out the need for improvements while overcoming the usual kneejerk NIMBY objections by suggesting that the changes aren’t necessarily permanent.

Barrio.LA takes a field trip to Atwater Village in advance of the Glendale – Atwater Village CicLAvia on the 11th.

 

State

The Orange County Register says the county is the mecca of the ebike craze.

The New York Times looks at Berkeley-based Monkeylectric and nearby Revolights wheel lights, noting the former is nearly required at Burning Man.

Sad news from Yuba County, where a 50 year-old Marysville woman was killed from behind as she rode her bike without lights at 1 am. Seriously, if you’re going to ride at night, put some damn lights on your bike. And carry a spare set with you during the day in case you get caught out after dark.

 

National

Streetsblog says blaming dangerous streets on people wearing black, as the Seattle Times did on Sunday, wins the prize for anti-pedestrian — and anti-bike — idiocy.

Former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is training to ride the 2,800-mile Tour Divide.

The father of a killer hit-and-run driver brought gasps to a Colorado courtroom when he blamed the victim for simply riding his bicycle on the street — even though his daughter had a BAC nearly twice the legal limit three hours after the crash, as well as trace amounts of cocaine and THC.

A Tennessee woman who took up ebike riding in her 40s says ride big in every way. Thanks to Karen Karabell for the link.

This is who we share the roads with. After tearing up a ball field by cutting doughnuts on the grass, a Connecticut pickup driver apparently targeted a bike rider, forcing him to dive off his bicycle to avoid getting hit.

Syracuse NY offers a $2.25 million settlement to a bike rider injured when he was struck by an off-duty police officer driving a city police car; the officer played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, saying he was blinded by glare on his windshield.

It took the NYPD just four days to piece together security camera footage to catch the hit-and-run driver who killed a bicyclist, even though it took them four months to make an arrest in the case.

 

International

The BBC looks at how the privately funded ciclovías in Santiago, Chile are transforming the streets.

A Canadian paper says your epic fundraising bike journey across the Great White North probably won’t actually make any money, and isn’t really a great idea.

In a change from just two years ago, all three major British political parties support bicycling in their manifestos, the equivalent of American political platforms; Brit cycling great Chis Boardman says that represents progress.

A London bike project fixes old bikes to give to refugees, providing around 90 bikes a month to people in need.

An Irish judge rules an ebike rider was highly negligent in riding without lights after dark, denying him any damages from the driver who hit him.

The Telegraph asks if Italy’s Alta Badia is the world’s greatest cycling destination. Actually, the best cycling destination is wherever you happen to be going today.

A new Spanish study shows the amount of bikeways boosts the number of bike riders, while improved safety depends on connecting them into an actual network.

Caught on video: An Aussie bicyclist was lucky to survive when a rope attached to a truck got caught in his spokes, dragging him for 70 feet.

 

Finally…

This is what it looks like when a stray dog steals a GoPro and accidently films a Russian bike ride, along with the inside of its mouth. When you’re named after a bird, you can probably expect to be attacked by one.

And if you miss your brother, just dig him up and take him for a bike ride.

Literally.

 

Morning Links: LA Council revives Vision Zero funding, New York and Chicago show what can be done

Maybe they care after all.

Or maybe they were just stunned by the outrage.

Just days after the LA City Council’s Budget Committee zeroed out funding for Vision Zero in the city’s proposed budget — while saying they had no intention of doing exactly that — the full council passed a final budget allotting $27.2 million for Vision Zero over the next year.

Which is still nearly $53 million less than LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds says is needed to meet the mayor’s goal of reducing traffic fatalities 20% by the end of the year.

Let alone eliminating traffic fatalities entirely by 2025.

Surprisingly — and not surprising — the vote was unanimous to adopt the budget; not surprising, since the council usually votes in lockstep, but surprising that safety curmudgeon Councilmembers Koretz, Cedillo and Ryu went along.

It’s just a fraction of the amount New York spends on Vision Zero each year — let alone the additional $400 million in Vision Zero funding the city will spend over the next six years.

But it’s a start.

Only a start.

………

Demonstrating what Los Angeles could — and should — be doing, New York’s infamous Boulevard of Death has gone two years without a traffic fatality after being selected by the city as a Vision Zero Priority Corridor.

NYC added bike lanes, increased space for pedestrians and slowed traffic on Queens Boulevard, choosing to save lives at the risk of slightly inconveniencing drivers.

Meanwhile, as Chicago increased bike infrastructure 135% over the past decade, crashes dropped 54%, deaths and serious injuries fell 60%, and ridership jumped 167%.

Now that’s how Vision Zero is supposed to work.

………

Just in time for Bike Week, the Bike League announces two new Bicycle Friendly Businesses in California, including one in Los Angeles.

And strangely, the Coronado City Hall, where residents complained that bike lanes make them dizzy and compared them to desecrating their daughters.

………

The Sacramento Bee celebrates local rider Evan Huffman’s breakaway victory in Wednesday’s 4th stage of the Amgen Tour of California, while Thursday’s Big Bear stage ended in a surprising sprint finish after nearly four hours of climbing.

Bicycling looks at how Toms Skujins’ Cannondale team reacted to his crash in the Tour of California.

………

Local

After surviving this year’s election, CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo thanks voters and touts his accomplishments, barely hinting at the raging discontent that nearly cost him his seat. Meanwhile, defeated challenger Joe Bray-Ali swears to hold his nemesis accountable “…for every misstep, every false move, every idiotic proposal…”

The Daily News looks at Wednesday’s North Hollywood Ride of Silence.

LA’s Fox 11 discovers it’s Bike Month after nearly three weeks.

Burbank residents took to their bikes for Thursday’s Bike and Walk to Work Day in the city; no word on whether more people strapped on their sneakers.

Nothing like inciting a little panic about Pasadena traffic due to a confluence of events in the city, including the finale of the Tour of California; the Pasadena Star-News shows it’s possible to take a more measured tone.

Long Beach is collecting unloved and unwanted bicycles this Saturday to help find them a new forever home.

 

State

Bike Month puts the spotlight on bicycling in Solano Beach, thanks to the local advocacy group.

Thousands of San Diego residents took advantage of the 100 Bike to Work Day pit stops in the county.

An arrest has been made in the hit-and-run murder of a Barstow bike rider, who was deliberately run down after an argument with a pickup driver.

A Santa Barbara chiropractor says wear your darn helmet, already.

A candidate for the Olympic track team was injured in a collision with a trash truck in Santa Barbara while he was riding his bicycle; he was riding, rather than running, due to an ankle injury.

San Francisco’s Ride of Silence was longer this year to remember the too many people killed while riding their bikes in the city.

The Sacramento Bee maps where you’re most likely to get hit by a car while riding your bike in the capital city, just in time for the start of the city’s bikeshare system.

 

National

Clean Technica says no, 80% of private cars will not disappear from American roads in the next 13 years.

Bicycling talks with long distance cyclist Brody Levin about how to have the ultimate bikepacking adventure.

Pro wrestler Dean Ambrose is one of us, as he talks about crashing his mountain bike a week before Wrestle Mania.

A Portland man is suing the police department claiming that he was just trying to ride his bike home from work when a cop stopped him, knocked him to the ground and arrested him, apparently for the crime of riding while black.

Seattle has the right idea. Instead of Bike to Work Day, they celebrate Bike Everywhere Day. Meanwhile, a Seattle bike rider writes a thank you note to everyone who came to her aid following a collision on Monday.

Forget toilet plunger protected bike lanes. A Texas bike club designed and built their own four-ton steel truss bike and pedestrian bridge.

An Arkansas newspaper looks at the annual Remember the Removal Bike Ride, a 950-mile bike tour following the route of the 1830s Trail of Tears that devastated the Cherokee Nation.

A Chicago woman is suing the police department, claiming that she was struck by an unmarked police SUV while riding her bike, and the officer falsified the report to blame her for the crash.

Caught on video: Columbus, Ohio drivers are using an off-road bike path to bypass heavy traffic.

That’s more like it. A Pennsylvania man gets five to ten years behind bars for causing the chain reaction crash that led to the death of a woman on her bike; he was driving despite a suspended sentence and had synthetic marijuana in his system.

The war on bikes continues, as four Virginia bicyclists were attacked with a paintball gun from a passing car.

A Florida doctor somehow feels the need to point out that pro cycling is dangerous before offering safety tips for bike riders. Just like you should always point out how dangerous F1, NASCAR and IndyCar racing is before telling drivers to buckle their seatbelts.

 

International

Caught on video too: This is how quickly a dooring happens. And how close it can come to disaster.

Bike Radar offers six reasons you should leave your headphones at home on your next ride.

Political campaigning was suspended in Wales after former First Minister Rhodri Morgan collapsed and died while riding his bicycle.

Once again, a bike rider is the hero, as a Scottish man riding his bike home from work rescued a fawn drowning in a canal.

Former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden remains in extremely critical condition in a Milan, Italy hospital with severe brain damage.

 

Finally…

Yes, your Ganesha bike shorts are offensive. Why teach people how to bike around cars when you can teach people how to safely drive around bikes?

And this is what happens when you get your bike too close to a crossing gate.

 

Morning Links: Zero vision instead of Vision Zero in Los Angeles, and bike riders really do make better lovers

So much for Vision Zero being a priority in Los Angeles anytime soon.

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton reports that the new budget the city council will vote on later this week won’t include dedicated funding for the campaign to end traffic deaths in Los Angeles.

Even though the council’s Transportation Committee had voted to devote 60% of Measure M return funds to stop killing bicyclists and pedestrians.

And even though LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds estimated it would take $80 million to meet the mayor’s goal of reducing traffic fatalities 20% this year. Let alone ending them by 2025.

And even though the mayor’s own budget had included a woefully inadequate $16.7 million for Vision Zero.

Instead, the council’s Budget Committee voted to zero out funding for Vision Zero, while saying it was no one’s intention to zero out funding for Vision Zero. They promised to circle back at a later date to consider giving some unspecified piece of the pie to improve safety, while channeling much of the funding to repaving streets.

And we’ve learned from experience what their promises are worth.

As Linton wrote,

Despite LADOT having submitted a Vision Zero work plan with costs (see budget memos 130 and 131), Krekorian and Englander both asserted that directing monies to LADOT for Vision Zero was – in Krekorian’s words “buying a pig in a poke” – paying for an unknown quantity lacking “specific expenditures.” The Bureau of Street Services has not submitted an expenditure plan, but can pour money into its perpetually backlogged repaving programs, which divide expenditures by 15 for the 15 council districts….

In an interview with Streetsblog this morning, Bonin expressed frustration that his colleagues were praising the city budget for its no-kill animal shelters, while not yet dedicating any money to no-kill sidewalks. Bonin said that it didn’t make any sense for the council to put off Vision Zero funding that would prevent deaths and save lives. Bonin further stated that he is continuing to push for a genuine city commitment to Vision Zero.

So for now, at least, it’s exactly what so many of us have feared.

LA may have a Vision Zero plan. But zero commitment to follow through.

………

Forget those reports from a few years ago that bicycling can cause erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems.

Because a new study shows no significant negative impacts for men or women; in fact, cyclists scored higher in sexual function than non-riders.

But we already knew that, right? And so did our undoubtedly very pleased significant others.

And you can stop riding those cut-out and cutoff saddles, because bike seats didn’t matter, either.

………

Metrolink will be hosting a Bike Week Twitter Party this evening.

………

As a public service, no more news about today’s elections in CD7, and especially, CD1 until we have actual results, and can kiss this seemingly endless election cycle goodbye.

You’re welcome.

………

Cycling Weekly takes advantage of a rest day at the Giro to catch up with who’s out of the race. America’s best hope took a hit as Tejay van Garderen cracked on Sunday’s stage, dropping four minutes behind the leader.

Monday’s stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California featured a long breakaway, a dramatic finish, and snakes. And Kiwis.

Latvia’s Toms Skujins was pulled from the race by his Cannondale-Drapac team despite somehow managing to get back on his bike following a particularly nasty solo fall during Monday’s race.

Team Sky’s Ian Bosewell wants to rebuild fans’ trust in American cycling by showing the new generation of riders can succeed without doping; he’s going to participate in a bike giveaway at the Hollywood Boys and Girls Club the day after the race’s Pasadena finish.

The AToC will roll along the Central Coast in today’s stage 3, finishing in Morro Bay.

………

Local

KNBC-4 wishes you a happy Bike Week.

The Daily News says business owners are struggling to deal with the increasing homeless encampment along the Orange Line bike path in Van Nuys, with open drug dealing and prostitution, as well as people turning the bikeway in an open air toilet. I’ve heard from several riders who no longer feel safe riding the bikeway, and asked an LAPD officer to look into it; he reported that they couldn’t be legally removed because they’re on private property.

The LACBC reports Culver City will get a Metro Bike Hub next year.

The County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal to proceed with the San Gabriel Valley Greenway Network at today’s meeting.

 

State

Coronado suffered a rash of bike thefts, averaging nearly one stolen bike a day over an 11 day period.

The long-planned CV-Link multi-use pathway around the Coachella Valley gets final approval, after excluding Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells from the route. Which they will regret once it’s built and the bizarre resistance to the pathway fades away.

Nearly 300 chefs from around the US will depart from Santa Barbara on their bikes today, riding 300 miles to raise $2 million to help end child hunger; you can donate or sponsor a rider here.

It’s time for the four-day Great Western Bicycle Rally in Paso Robles next week.

Santa Paula police bust the bike-riding suspect who allegedly set a man on fire as he slept on a bench; the victim is being treated Los Angeles with burns over 50% of his body.

Writing in the Fresno Bee, a conservation advocate seems to believe the prospect of allowing bicycles in American wilderness areas will crack the final seal holding back the two-wheeled apocalypse.

Sad news from the Bay Area, where a bike rider was killed in a crash on Mount Hamilton near San Jose. And a 15-year old boy was killed by a train while crossing a bridge in Manteca in the Central Valley.

Once again, San Francisco bike advocates form a human barrier to create a temporary protected bike lane.

 

National

Police departments across the US are going undercover to catch drivers texting behind the wheel. Except in Southern California, of course.

A Oregon paper asks readers whether there should be a tax on bicycles. And gets a response saying bicycles take up more room than cars do. No, really.

A 62-year old legally blind Idaho man has regained his freedom now that he can safely ride a bike on a Boise bikeway.

A Colorado man has been cited for careless driving after the tandem bike he was piloting veered onto the wrong side of the road and sideswiped an SUV, injuring two children on the bike.

The DIY toilet plunger protected bike lane movement has now spread to Omaha NE.

The former Governator took advantage of Houston’s bikeshare system while he was in town to give a commencement address.

A Michigan woman gets six months in jail for a fatal collision with a bicyclist because she had THC in her blood, even though she had the right-of-way and, according to her lawyer, police concluded there was nothing she could have done to avoid the crash.

Heartbreaking news from Indiana, where a driver lost control swerving to avoid a bike rider who had fallen while crossing the roadway and collided with a truck, killing an 11-year old girl in the passenger seat.

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Ohio Bike Lawyer Steve Magas, who talks about Bike Week and the challenges facing Cincinnati’s growing bicycling community.

Once again, a bike rider has been struck by a cop responding to a call, this time in New York.

The LACBC’s Tamika Butler delivered the keynote address at last week’s Transportation Alternatives’ Vision Zero Cities conference, asking if Vision Zero can work in a racist society.

Eight hundred riders turned out for a South Carolina bike race — including some of NASCAR’s top drivers.

Caught on video: The moment a New Orleans cyclist was shot with a pellet gun was captured on bike cam by one of his fellow riders; fortunately, he’s now out of the hospital.

 

International

Cycling Weekly takes a look at knee pain and what to do about it.

Brit bike scribe Carlton Reid’s effort to resurrect Great Britain’s forgotten bike highways of the 1930s continues to gain traction. Thanks to Tim Rutt for the heads-up.

A British army vet with early onset Alzheimer’s is riding across the country to raise funds to fight the disease that killed his father and grandfather in their 40s.

An Irish advocacy group says horses are treated better on the country’s highways than cyclists are.

In a terrifying, yet ultimately harmless crash, a South African cyclist was dragged behind a semi-truck after a hook from the truck got caught on his jacket.

A New Zealand bike advocate is concerned by a plan to let children, as well as older and disabled cyclists, ride on the sidewalk, saying it would put kids at greater risk from cars backing out of driveways. But evidently, running over older bike riders is perfectly okay.

One thousand riders from a dozen countries around the world turned out for a two day Chinese Gran Fondo.

 

Finally…

As long as they’re removing statues of Confederate leaders, New Orleans might want to rename a bikeway or two. Red Bull says tall bikes will save the world.

And don’t steal bikes, dude. Especially from America’s biggest bike race.

 

Yet another bike rider dies on SoCal streets, as a 57-year old cyclist is killed riding in Carson

I could just scream.

For the fifth time in the last seven days, a bike rider has been killed on the mean streets of Southern California,.

According to the Daily Breeze, a 57-year old man was killed in a collision with a passenger van around 5 pm at the intersection of Avalon Blvd and Gardena Blvd in Carson. The victim, who is believed to be a resident of the city, was declared dead at the scene.

The driver remained at the scene following the collision; no other details are available at this time.

This is the 36th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, a horrifying half of which have occurred in L.A. County – which compares with 23 cycling deaths in L.A. County for all of last year.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his loved ones.

………

Meanwhile, despite the lack of any information, KCBS-2 seems to think it’s important to question whether or not the victim in this case was wearing a helmet — without any details on how the collision occurred or whether a helmet would have made any difference.

Or, evidently, if the victim even suffered a head injury.

Despite popular opinion, bike helmets are not magic devices that can ward off serious injuries or death for the wearer.

While they are designed to protect against catastrophic head injuries in slow speed collisions, they offer little protection in high speed crashes, little or no protection against concussions, and no protection for any other part of the body.

I never ride my bike without one.

But it is simply irresponsible for any journalist to bring up the question of whether the victim was wearing one with no information to support it.

………

The Fontana Herald News offers a look at the life of 18-year old Carlos Morales Guzman, the bike rider killed by a train in Fontana last Saturday.

………

The green bike lanes on Spring Street, popular with everyone but Hollywood filmmakers, will see a significant reduction in paint coverage — and possibly safety — thanks to an unpopular compromise passed today in a unanimous vote of the L.A. City Council.

You can read my report here on LA Streetsblog.

………

Finally, a Santa Monica cyclist pleads guilty to a charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon after running a red light at the Third Street Promenade and seriously injuring a pedestrian.

I’ve never heard of a motorist facing a similar charge after running a red light, though, even if someone is killed as a result. And to the best of my knowledge, a charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon requires intent to cause harm, which would seem highly unlikely in a traffic collision — and which the police say was not present in this case.

Yes, cyclists who cause harm by breaking the law can and should be prosecuted, just as drivers are. Or should be, anyway.

But at first glance, this would seem to have been a significant overreach by prosecutors. Even if they did get away with it.

And don’t get me started on the promise by the Santa Monica police to focus on bicycling violations this summer, which sounds a lot like selective enforcement. Let alone the opposite of the bike-friendly city that SaMo aspires to be.

I’ll be writing about this for Streetsblog on Friday. If you have any inside knowledge of this case, or you’re a lawyer or police officer who can offer insight into the matter — on or off the record — email me at bikinginla at hotmail dot com.

Move along, nothing to see here

I have to beg your forgiveness.

Trying to follow up on the recent rash of bicycling fatalities ate up the time I would have used to write today’s post, which was intended to be a rant over the City Council’s repeated rescheduling of the vote to repaint the Spring Street green bike lanes.

Because it’s looking more and more like this issue is being hammered out behind closed doors. And while the council may or may not be talking with representatives of the film industry, they sure as hell aren’t talking to us.

And that scares me.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen them, I’ve updated the stories on the death of the 25-year old Los Angeles resident killed while riding near Caltech, and the 12-year old killed in Camarillo on Sunday.

Just a couple other quick notes.

Damien Newton offers a great recap of the issues involved in the debate over repainting the Spring Street green bike lanes, pointing out the fallacies offered by the other side — which is the nicest way I can put it.

A new study shows California drivers want bike lanes just like we do. I’ve long argued that bike lanes provide as much benefit to drivers as they do for cyclists; thanks to Monet Diamonte for the link.

Yes, the Bible teaches us to share with the less fortunate. But if you encounter a bear while riding your bike, it’s probably best not to offer it any barbecue from your church picnic.

And if you’re too drunk to stay on your bike, you might not want to ride away from the police while making siren noises with your mouth.

Just a suggestion.

L.A. cycling loses its best friend, as Councilmember Bill Rosendahl announces he won’t seek re-election

Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl addresses the City Council in 2010.

In very disappointing news, CD 11 Councilmember Bill Rosendahl announced he won’t seek re-election next year as he continues his battle to overcome urethral cancer.

Rosendahl has probably been the best friend L.A. cyclists have ever had in local government, stepping strongly up after the Mandeville Canyon incident to demand greater safety and acceptance for cyclists on our streets.

He was the council’s prime mover behind the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, as well as shepherding the bike plan through the legislative process. And it was Rosendahl who famously proclaimed an end to car culture in the self-proclaimed car capital of the world.

In a powerful statement before the full council, Rosendahl said “The culture of the car is going to end now!” He reminded his fellow council members about the harassment cyclists face on the road, as well as the lack of support riders have received from the LAPD in the past. “We’re going to give cyclists the support they should have been getting.”

“This is my pledge to the cycling community.”

In fact, it was his meeting, as chair of the Transportation Committee, that first brought then new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger to meet with cyclists in council chambers, beginning the process that has helped make the LAPD one of the most bike-friendly police departments in the country.

Rosendahl has named his chief of staff Mike Bonin as his preferred successor. But whoever wins next year’s election will have massive shoes to fill.

And it’s up to us to ensure his replacement will support bikes as much as he has. Or this will be a huge loss for L.A. cyclists.

And for the city.

You can read his announcement here.

Best wishes to Bill Rosendahl in his fight against cancer, and for a long and healthy return to service once he recovers.

And my personal thanks for all he’s done to make bike riding a safer and more enjoyable means of transportation in the City of Angels.

………

Cal State Northridge’s newspaper looks at Sunday’s CicLAvia, while CLR Effect offers Michael’s usually outstanding photos, and Richard Risemberg provides a great photo collection of his own. The Time’s CicLAvia collection isn’t too shabby, either. Meanwhile, LAist fills a page with photos of Sunday’s event — and has the infinite good taste to quote yours truly — while Will Campbell offers yet another of his great timelapse videos.

………

Tonight’s Westside Mobility meeting will be streamed live online. Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles invites you to kickoff the new season with the UCLA Cycling Team. C.I.C.L.E. hosts a Pasadena ArtNight Ride this Friday. Biking Brian says Caltrans has ruined the popular Angeles Crest Highway for bicyclists; that’s what happens when the needs of bike riders aren’t even considered. OC’s cdmCyclist interviews cycling Newport Beach councilwoman Leslie Daigle. As if dodging dangerous drivers isn’t bad enough, maybe mountain bike riding on opening day of deer hunting season isn’t the best idea. A Menifee couple came up with the cool new frame and wheel bike lights used in Paralympic closing ceremonies. This past weekend, at least, a bike was the faster way to get around San Francisco. Two bike riders are injured, one seriously, in a St. Helena collision.

Something about this Schwinn helmet PSA just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe bicycling would be taken more seriously as transportation if it wasn’t so damn much fun. Elly Blue makes the case for equal prize money for men and women in bike racing. A six-year old Las Vegas boy is critically injured after riding out from between two parked cars. Is it an accident when a bike rider hits a strand of barbed wire strung along a bike path, or was it an act of sabotage — update: it was sabotage. If you’re riding with a bag of meth, don’t cross against the Don’t Walk signal in Coon Rapids TN. How to keep your skirt down while you ride; not a problem I normally have. An 83-year old Maine driver seriously injures an 11-year old cyclist months after his license was revoked for a medical condition. Massachusetts police arrest a cyclist for riding in the middle of the road in the middle of the night; the article doesn’t make it clear if he was taking the lane or riding down the center line. The NYPD, which doesn’t exactly share their L.A. counterpart’s reputation for bike-friendliness, is targeting their crackdown on cyclists, but that didn’t stop a bike rider from getting $1,555 in fines from a single stop. Here’s a new one; a Virginia letter writer says cyclists don’t pay for the roads — so we should pay for schools, instead.

A Calgary columnist says clearing snow from bikeways is a misplaced priority. An Ontario writer asks why bike helmets aren’t mandatory. A Brit bike rider complains about cyclists and their — our — “almost constant stupidity;” if the shoe fits, lady. A new TV ad says cyclists should See Track: Think Train; seriously, there’s no excuse for getting hit by a train. A new UK bike safety campaign is called too soft on drivers. An Oxford ethicist says instead of helmet laws, we should make cities bike friendly. Just when you thought bike racing was over for the year, Andy Schleck attempts a comeback in the Tour of Beijing.

Finally, I love this story about Scottish parents who travelled over 4,000 miles to surprise their bike-riding son as he rode across the U.S. And this bike takes single-speed riding to the extreme by attaching the pedals directly to the wheel, unicycle style.

A quantum leap in L.A.’s cycling culture

Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones? — Bob Dylan, Ballad Of A Thin Man


It can be challenging growing up with a physicist for an older brother.

Oddly, it doesn't look any different.

By the time I was in 7th grade, I had a better understanding of physics than most of the people who tried to teach me. Like the time I found myself trying to explain Schrödinger’s Cat to one of my science teachers, who couldn’t grasp the concept that a kitty could be both alive and dead at the same time. Or what it was doing in the damn box in the first place.

Or trying to explain that quantum leap doesn’t mean a sudden dramatic change, as most people assume. But rather, it’s an infinitesimally small shift at the subatomic level; yet one that can result in a dramatic change over time.

Sort of like what’s happened over the last year in with bicycling in Los Angeles.*

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out just when things started to change around here. Maybe it was the Mandeville Canyon case that finally made cyclists mad enough to coalesce around a cause. Maybe it was the LAPD’s tepid response to the infamous Hummer Incident that caused riders to storm City Hall.

Or maybe it was when a group of cyclists got together to metaphorically nail their 12 theses on City Hall’s Wittenberg Door.

I really don’t know.

All I know is that something has changed. And for once, it seems to be for the better.

Take City Hall, for instance.

A year ago, there was minimal support for cyclists in local government. At best, a council member might host a bike ride or two, or stage a two-wheeled press event on Bike to Work day. Current TranspoComm chair Bill Rosendahl seemed to be one of the first to take cycling issues seriously when he tried to host a community meeting to discuss the Mandeville case. And failed, due to the overwhelming anger on both sides.

And no one could seem to recall Mayor Villaraigosa even mentioning bikes, let alone favorably.

Things look a little different today.

Somehow, that quantum leap — or series of leaps — has resulted in a dramatically changed environment for cyclists in this city, especially in the last month or two.

The City Council has responded to the concerns of cyclists by proposing an anti-harassment ordinance, pushing for sharrows and a bike-sharing program, and demanding a real response from the city’s police department. Council President Eric Garcetti went so far as to offer his personal assurance that he’ll keep the anti-harassment ordinance moving forward.

Even the mayor has recently expressed support for the planned CycLAvia. And just this week, he tweeted about his concern for making the streets safer for cyclists.

When Antonio Villaraigosa notices cycling — and actually supports it, no less — you know there’s something serious going on.

For the first time I’m aware of, LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson also offered public support for bike safety and educating drivers about cycling. And Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery assured listeners yesterday that much of the proposed Backbone Bikeway Network is already being incorporated into the revised bike plan, based on feedback from cyclists.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the recent appointment of new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has apparently resulted in a sea change in the department’s attitude towards bicyclists.

In recent weeks, the department has established a task force to address cyclists concerns, and has begun tracking bicycling collisions — revealing that a full 23% of reported bicycle collisions are hit and runs. In addition, they’ve issued a call for cyclists to report dangerous intersections so they can step up enforcement and recommend changes to city planners, and started to crack down on bike theft.

And they’re working on a program to educate officers on the rights of cyclists, and ways to educate drivers and cyclists on how to share the road safely.

Next up, Chief Beck is scheduled to address a special bike-focused meeting of the Council’s Transportation Committee meeting on the 24th. And hopefully he’ll listen to cyclists, as well.

The real test, though, will come when — and if — this change in attitude filters down to the street level.

Then there’s the LACBC.

When I started this blog a couple years back, like a lot of other local cyclists, I didn’t have a lot of use for the County Bike Coalition.

As far as I was concerned, they were wasting their time on relatively trivial matters, and unwilling to take on the serious challenges that face cyclists in Los Angeles. Maybe I was wrong; maybe they were working on things that went under the radar. Or my radar, anyway.

Or maybe they’ve just seriously stepped up their game in the last year or so.

Either way, the LACBC has been actively involved in the changes currently taking place in Los Angeles, from pushing for sharrows, bike-sharing and the anti-harassment ordinance to fighting for the 4th Street Bike Boulevard, a better bike plan and reforming the way the LAPD deals with cyclists.

They’ve also learned to hold their own with aggressive and sometimes unfriendly council members, without backing down. And yes, I’ve been impressed.

So much, in fact, that I’m seriously thinking about joining myself. Which is not something I would have considered a couple years ago. Or last year, even.

And the news media have taken notice, as the L.A. Times, KPCC’s Patt Morrison and Larry Mantle, and others have begun covering cycling on a regular basis.

Things are changing.

It’s up to us to keep up the pressure — on the Council, the Mayor, LADOT, LAPD, and yes, the LACBC. Because it’s up to us keep things moving forward.

And make sure this is just the beginning.

*Admit it, you were wondering where the hell I was going with this.

………

Riding outside the box and keeping yourself — and the city — moving in a more positive direction. Learning from San Louis Obispo’s bike boulevards. Can the Backbone Bikeway Network make North Fig bike friendly? Planning to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on the Rose Bowl loop. Two new Bike Stations in Claremont and Covina. San Antonio becomes the latest city to approve a three-foot passing distance, while Portland delays a vote on their 20-year bike plan. The Bicycle Leadership Conference wants your input, including a separate survey for female cyclists. Better signage for better bikeways. Encourage cycling through a positive focus, or discourage it through a negative focus on safety? Slap your car with a Bicycle Safe Vehicle sticker, assuming you have one, of course. Busting the myth about taking the lane on a high-speed highway. A missionary’s son bikes from Alaska to Argentina. Cyclists will ride further for long distance trains with fewer stops; maybe cyclists should just park their bikes at the train station and stop complaining. The Bicycling Baronet rides to the rescue of Parliament. Will the Vancouver games result in more than a short-term uptick in cycling? Drivers target cyclists along the Australian coast, and Tasmanian drivers consider cyclists hazards; one in four reports a collision or near miss with a rider. A British cyclist is killed on her way to visit her Alzheimer’s-afflicted husband in a nursing home. Finally, yet another cycling collision in Orange County — but this time, it’s cyclists vs. raccoon. And at least it’s a reason for running late.

An open letter to the Los Angeles City Council and the cyclists of L.A.

The purpose of government is not to enforce the will of the majority, but to protect the rights of minorities and the most vulnerable members of society.

And on the streets of Los Angeles, the vulnerable minority are the people who ride bicycles.

As was noted in a recent meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Los Angeles is a city dominated by motor vehicle traffic, to the detriment of other legal road users. In fact, Council Member Dennis Zine was quoted on KABC-TV as saying,

I think we are a car culture here in Southern California.  I don’t know if we’re ever going to change that.

Yet the continued livability of this city requires that we do.

Many of this city’s streets are already at or above capacity. Repeated attempts have been made to increase capacity and maximize vehicular throughput, often to the detriment of the surrounding community. Yet these street “improvements” typically result in only short term relief before returning to a state of congestion.

The only viable option is to reduce demand on the streets. We must get people out of their cars by encouraging alternative methods of transportation, such as effective mass transit and bicycling.

Studies have shown that nearly 40% of all trips made in the U.S. are less than 2 miles in length and could easily be done by bike, and that more people would ride bikes if they felt safer on the streets. Yet Council Member Tony Cárdenas recently summed up the attitude of many Angelenos when he said that the city’s streets are so dangerous that he won’t allow his own children to ride on them.

One reason for that fear, in addition to a lack of adequate bicycle infrastructure, is the harassment cyclists face too frequently on city streets.

Most drivers attempt to share the road and operate their vehicles safely. However, virtually any cyclist can tell a tale being harassed by angry drivers, who often lack a knowledge traffic law and the rights of bicyclists, and incorrectly believe that bikes don’t belong on the road or in the traffic lane.

Too often, these driveway vigilantes attempt to take the law into their own hands, and illegally enforce their interpretation of the law by honking or shouting at cyclists, throwing objects at riders, and hitting or pushing riders. In addition, some drivers attempt to use their cars as weapons to threaten, intimidate or injure riders by passing dangerously close to cyclists, intentionally opening car doors into riders, encroaching from behind, deliberately turning across the path of riders or intentionally braking in front of them — as happened in the Mandeville Canyon incident — or purposely striking a cyclist.

Fortunately, you have an opportunity to do something about it.

This Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council will consider a resolution requesting that the City Attorney draft an ordinance banning harassment of cyclists in Los Angeles, Council File 09-2895.

I urge the Council Members to approve this measure, without the unnecessary step of requesting that the City Attorney first report back on what can be done by the city without conflicting with state law; any conflicts can be addressed by the City Attorney in drafting an ordinance. I also urge cyclists to contact their council member or appear at the meeting to support this vital resolution.

Other cities have taken similar approaches. Even though traffic law is generally the responsibility of the states, Boise, Idaho and Columbia, Missouri have both passed ordinances banning harassment of cyclists and mandating a minimum three-foot passing distance; San Antonio, Texas is currently considering a similar law.

I would, however, suggest one minor change to the resolution. I request that the City Attorney and LADOT also coordinate with a local bicycling organization, such as the L.A. County Bicycling Coalition, to ensure that the voices of cyclists are heard, and that the final ordinance will truly protect vulnerable road users in Los Angeles.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers

The resolution will be considered by the Los Angeles City Council this Wednesday, January 27; item #22 on the agenda. The meeting will take place starting at 10 am in room 340 of the Downtown City Hall, 200 North Spring Street; a resolution concerning the proposed bike sharing program is also on the agenda (#20, 08-2053).

………

A Riverside traffic safety engineer and cycling advocate was injured last month in a deliberate incident reminiscent of the Thompson case. And in a truly heartbreaking story, a grieving mother took her own life late last year — three years after her cyclist son was run down by a car driven by a homeless meth addict.

………

Dr. Alex observes that when the other Dr. Thompson returns to L.A. after five years in prison, he may not recognize the city — if cyclists stay involved. Flying Pigeon rides to, and samples the offerings of, the Eagle Rock Brewery this Saturday. Famed framebuilder Dave Moulton takes a look at the recent meeting between bike activists and the LAPD. Witch on a Bicycle returns after a long, computer-failure-imposed absence, with a story of trying to save a driver in a horrific accident. A cyclist wearies of fighting for her place on the road; Yehuda Moon knows the feeling. Photographic evidence: Boulder’s contraflow bike lane, and asking a cop why the bike lane is blocked. Thousands of riders turn out to honor the cyclist killed by an intoxicated musician in Miami last week. Lance finishes 25th in the Tour Down Under, and considers competing in this year’s world championships. Yet another English woman is killed in a collision with a large truck. The head of the historic Wilier Triestina bike racing brand was killed in a head-on collision while cycling on Saturday. Lancashire authorities say watch out for wobbly cyclists. China says it’s time to go back to cycling, while Jakarta’s government calls on citizens to support cycling. LADOT take note: Danish State Railways finds an effective and affordable way to reach Copenhagen cyclists — you know, in case you ever have some good news to tell us. Finally, a seven-year old London cyclist organizes a bike-a-thon in his local park, and raises over $100,000 for earthquake victims in Haiti.

An idea whose time has come — waking the sleeping giant

Here it is, over a week later, and we still don’t know who won Los Angeles 5th Council District. And from the looks of it, it may be a very long time before we know for sure.

But one thing is certain. Whichever candidate is ultimately declared the winner, we should have another friend on the city council. That’s because both candidates addressed local cycling issues as part of their campaign, and each pledged to support bicycling as an integral part of the overall transportation plan.

But something else is also clear.

As important as this election was, only a handful of eligible voters even bothered to cast a ballot. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that more L.A. cyclists voted for the loser of American Idol last week in last weeks’s election.

And that has to change.

The cycling community is the sleeping giant of local politics. Based on statistics provided by Bikes Belong, up to 38% of all Americans ride bikes — which means that as many as 3.8 million residents of L.A. County may get around on two wheels at least part of the time.

Even if we use the significantly lower estimate of 12.4% of Americans who ride bikes, that still makes cyclists one of the largest potential voting blocks in L.A. politics — certainly larger, and potentially more powerful, than many of the special interest groups who currently hold sway at City Hall.

And yet, we still can’t get sharrows. Let alone the respect we deserve from the LADOT — or the LAPD. Or our fair share of transportation funding.

It’s time to wake to that giant up.

Lately, some L.A. cyclists have been trying to flex their political muscle. And our government leaders are finally starting to take notice.

But we need to do more.

You only have to take a look at the streets of this city to understand the kind of cycling city Los Angeles could be — a potential that lead Bicycling magazine to name it a Future Best City for bicycling. And you only have to ride those streets to realize how little has been done.

If you’re not pissed off yet, maybe you should be.

Next up: Waking the sleeping giant. And taking back our government — and our streets.


L.A.’s best-named bike shop now offers an American-made alternative to Dutch cargo bikes, and a Pasadena firm introduces its new commuter bike. Gary nearly gets hit over the weekend, even while walking his bike. The Eastside’s Random Hero rides the Marathon route. An Oregon writer offers a half-baked attack on the Idaho Stop Law. Dublin officials support cycling, as does London’s mayor, who barely survived a recent exploratory ride. A recent incident in Boulder, CO offers a reminder of why we all have to be careful on off-road paths. A New York writer insists that cyclists should be licensed and insured, while an Examiner writer asks why we can’t get insurance. New Zealand police say there’s nothing suspicious about finding a dead cyclist in a ditch. And finally, New York’s latest Broadway hit may not win a Tony, but seems to be winning fans.

%d bloggers like this: