Tag Archive for LA Metro

A close call in DTLA, a biking Hollywood producer gets left off the bus, and get your kicks on Route 66 next Sunday

It could have been so much worse.

Friday night, a high speed chase ended with a dramatic crash at Olympic Blvd and Los Angeles Street in Downtown LA, followed by police fatally shooting the driver for reasons that have yet to be explained.

And all just steps away from a group of bike riders who were nearly collateral damage in the crash, and had a front row seat for everything that followed.

Take a look at the link below — for some reason, I can’t embed the video — and watch carefully just above the geyser where the other car takes out the fire hydrant. (Hint — click on the full screen option for a better view.) You’ll see three bike riders who can count their lucky stars as both cars spun out on either side of them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbDwKspYgiU

Looks like some of the angels this city is named for were looking out for them. Ether that, or they need to buy some lottery tickets for Tuesday’s drawing, because they had to be some of the luckiest people on two wheels.

Thanks to Matt Ruscigno for the heads-up, who says a friend of his was one of those lucky riders.

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You might be surprised who rides a bike. Or takes it on the bus.

When they can, that is.

It’s been a long-time problem that bike riders can be left stranded on the streets when the two bike racks on the front of Metro buses are full — including a woman who was forced to ride home alone at 4 am on New Years morning a few years back when she wasn’t allowed to take her bike on the bus.

TV producer Michael Binkow gets it.

Despite achieving a level of success that allows many of his peers to travel by limo or luxury car, he chooses to ride his bike to worksites throughout the city. And combine that journey with taking a Metro bus to get through some of the more challenging sections.

Except when full racks leave him stranded on the side of the road, waiting for bus after bus to pass by until one finally has an open space for his bike — even when there’s room for both him and his bike inside.

Here’s an email he sent to Metro on Friday, and cc’d me on.

Dear Ms. Johnson,

My name is Michael Binkow and I’ve been a resident of Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks) for the past 32 years.  I’m a television producer (“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” “1 vs 100,” “Container Wars,” etc.) so my work takes me to various parts of the city.  I’m now in Santa Monica and riding a bike to and from work most everyday.  With (the end of) Daylight Savings Time and ongoing construction on northbound Sepulveda Boulevard through the Sepulveda pass (and no bike lane), I’ve been riding the bus for 3 miles from Church Lane or Getty Center to Skirball Center to continue my ride home.

Here’s the issue—if there are two bicycles on the front of a bus, I’m stuck.  Drivers are “not allowed” to let me on and sometimes I must wait for several buses to pass before there’s an open slot.  By then of course it’s dark and even more dangerous to ride.  I’ve heard it’s a liability issue with potential injury to other passengers.  This is just fair.  One possible solution:  leave it to the driver’s discretion.  If there’s room on the bus and the bike won’t affect other passengers, let us on.  If the bus is too crowded and there’s not enough room, so be it, we’ll have to wait for the next one.

It’s obviously frustrating that those of us trying to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce auto traffic and take advantage of public transportation are discriminated against.

Please do what you can to revise this current policy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Michael Binkow

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My friends Jon Riddle and Sarah Amelar, authors of Where To Bike Los Angeles, have been hosting a series of rides around the city and nearby environs in conjunction with the LACBC.

Their next ride will explore the legendary Route 66 that reaches its terminus right here in the City of Angels. Or more precisely, in Santa Monica, despite what the song says.

Route 66

When:   Sunday, December 22, 2013

Time:    Meet at 8:30am; ride at 9:00am

Where: Union Station in downtown Los Angeles

Meet in the garden courtyard on the south side of the main concourse of Union Station. Here’s the map.

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, Main Street of America, or the Will Rogers Highway, is one of our Nation’s first interstate highways. Opened in 1926, it rolls west from Chicago. In our end of the country, it passes through Azusa, Pasadena, downtown L. A., and on to its unofficial terminus at the Pier in Santa Monica. On this tour, we’ll experience a bit of this historic highway by following a bike friendly version of Route 66 (the current official route is on the 101 Freeway from downtown to Hollywood) from Union Station west on Sunset Boulevard, then Fountain Avenue, then Santa Monica Boulevard and a few side streets to the ocean. Along the way, we’ll ride down holiday decorated streets in Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. After a short break at the Pier, we’ll meander back to downtown on Main Street, Abbot Kenney, Venice Boulevard, and another Main Street.

Ride Length: 40 miles.

Ride Duration: Approximately 4-5 hours, including stops.

Difficulty: Recommended for intermediate-level riders, aged 16 and up. We’ll be riding on city streets, sometimes in bike lanes and sometimes on bike friendly streets marked with sharrows. Bottom line: be prepared for riding around automobiles on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Hardly any climbing.

Weather Policy: Torrential rain, snow, earthquake or fierce wind cancels the outing. Otherwise, we ride.

What to bring: A road-worthy bike, extra inner tubes, a patch kit and pump, plenty of drinking water, a pocket snack (such as an energy bar, banana or trail mix), a helmet, proper clothing, and money for refueling at random espresso bars and for post-ride refreshments.

Parking: There’s plenty of inexpensive parking not far from Union Station in Chinatown. Or, save gas and parking coin—ride a Metro train or a bus to the station.

RSVP: Strongly encouraged, via wheretobikela@gmail.com, so we can send you last-minute advisories, particularly about weather.

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Finally, there’s still time to get into the spirit of the season — assuming you read this before Sunday evening — with the LACBC’s annual Larchmont Holiday Caroling Bike Ride.

 

Today’s post, in which I follow Metro’s lead and issue a challenge to bike lane-averse merchants

I’ve been surprised by the opposition from local businesses to the planned bike lanes that could bring them more business.

Yes, I fully expected some blowback to plans to install bike lanes on busy streets like Westwood, Bundy and Figueroa. Auto-centric residents who can’t comprehend any other means of getting to and from their homes can be counted on to rise up in NIMBYist opposition to any suggestion of reducing traffic flow to a more rational level, or providing a safe alternative to getting behind the wheel.

Even though they don’t have to get out of their cars to enjoy the benefits. But just make it practical for other people to leave their cars behind so they can move more freely in theirs.

But the vehemence of the opposition from the merchants who would benefit from bike lanes has come as a very unpleasant surprise.

It doesn’t take a Masters in Business Administration to realize that anything that enables more customers to come to your door is good for the bottom line. Never mind that bike riders have been shown to visit merchants more often, resulting in higher sales over the long run.

Or that calming traffic — one of the many secondary benefits of bike lanes — can make a shopping district more attractive to everyone, And at the same time, replacing cut-through drivers with destination traffic more likely to actually stop and spend money.

So I was intrigued this morning when I received an email from Metro announcing that this year’s Bike Week will take place from May 13th to 19th. And that a new feature in 2013 will be the first Bike Weekend, in which merchants will be encouraged to offer a discount to bike riders.

Metro invites you to be part of Bike Week LA by offering discounts to any bicyclist who mentions “Bike Week” during Bike Local Weekend, Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19, 2013. This is a FREE advertising opportunity to attract and encourage customers to eat, shop, and play locally. Metro wants to promote you as a destination location for Bike Local Weekend through our website, social media network, and other media channels.

Did you know that bicycling is great for local business? Studies show that people who travel by bicycle actually make more visits to small businesses than people who travel by car. These visits add up – cities all across the U.S. are discovering that when bicycling increases, sales revenue does too. In San Francisco and New York City, for instance, retail sales along certain bike lanes is up as much as 50%! Because bicyclists travel at slower speeds than cars, it’s easier for them to stop and smell the coffee. (It also helps that they don’t have to pay for parking).

If your business would like to participate in Bike Local Weekend, please sign up here no later than May 1, 2013. The earlier you sign up, the better we are able to promote you! Please feel free to contact us with any questions at bikeweekla@metro.net or 213.922.5634.

So let me issue a challenge to business owners who oppose bike lanes in front of their shops. Especially those who have been most outspoken in their opposition, like Galcos in Highland Park and A Little Taste of Hoboken in Westwood.

Just give it a shot.

Offer a discount to bicyclists that one weekend.

If you don’t notice any difference in sales, maybe you’re right. You can come to the next meeting and argue that you tried to market your business to bike riders, and it didn’t do any good.

But if, more likely, your business goes up that weekend, you’ll have solid evidence that we bicyclists spend money at places that make us feel welcome.

And that, rather than the highway to financial ruin you fear, a bike lane in front of your business could be the pathway to higher profits. Let alone a better, safer and more livable business district.

The best part is, you have nothing to lose.

Except your misconceptions.

But don’t be surprised if we complain about the lack of bike parking.

Bike rider killed in Blue Line collision; Metro once again fails to inform the public

According to the L.A. Times Sunday edition, a bike rider was killed in a collision with the Blue Line Metro Train yesterday.

According to the paper, the collision occurred about 12:50 pm at the intersection of Grandee Avenue and Century Blvd, apparently in an unincorporated area of South L.A.

The identity of the male rider was unknown at the time of printing; the photo shows a mountain bike with a tacoed and twisted front wheel.

Unfortunately, no other information is available at this time.

The photo is not available on the Times’ website, and no information is available online from the Times, L.A. Metro, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department — which evidently investigated the death — or any other news source. If I hadn’t happened to read the California section of the Times’ print edition just now, I wouldn’t have known about it.

Maybe it’s just me, but I consider it shameful that Metro doesn’t post information about fatal collisions involving their buses or trains as soon as possible after they happen. Or at all, in too many cases.

They have an obligation to keep the public informed about the safety of their operations, and far to often, fail to fulfill it. Which isn’t to say the Sheriff’s Department couldn’t do a much better job, as well.

This is just the third bicycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the second in the County of Los Angeles.

My sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.

Update: Streetsblog has identified the victim as 26-year old Sylvester Henderson.

Monday’s ride, in which the mean streets of the Westside seem safer than the safety of the bike path

Something is seriously wrong when a busy shopping street feels safer than an off-road bike path.

But that was the choice I made on Monday, on what rapidly deteriorated into one of the most stressful bike rides I’ve ever taken. And one of the few times I’ve ever gotten off my bike far less relaxed than when I got on.

Another late start caused me to change my planned route, and break my cardinal rule of never riding the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path through Santa Monica and Venice after noon after Memorial Day.

And I was quickly reminded why I don’t.

It started with a couple of twenty-something couples who were coming out of a parking lot near the Annenberg Center on their way to the beach.

As I approached on the opposite side of the path, I watched as the first member of the group stepped onto the pathway without looking in either direction — right into the path of an oncoming cyclist, who had to make a panic stop on loose sand to just barely miss him.

Then, apparently having learned absolutely nothing from the experience, he stepped right in front of me, forcing me into a panic swerve to avoid him. When I made a comment about looking both ways like his mama taught him, I got a resounding chorus of “what a jerk” from the full group.

And things went downhill from there.

Take, for instance, the grandmother who led a toddler onto the pathway on the far side of a blind curve. And again, stepped out directly in front of me, without a single glance in my direction.

I wonder how she would have explained that to the child’s parents if I hadn’t been able to stop in time?

Or the unsupervised child, around five or so, who was stopped on the opposite side of the bike path, and suddenly swerved directly towards me as I was trying to slip past, forcing me into the sand to avoid him.

But I don’t blame him.

I blame the parents who were nowhere to be scene, leaving a kindergarten-aged kid to navigate a busy bikeway on his own.

And don’t even get me started on the countless groups of pedestrians who somehow managed to block both sides of the bike path as they meandered mindlessly along. Sometimes just inches from the separate pedestrian walkway they should have been using.

All of which combined to make the bike lanes along Main Street seem like the much safer choice on my return trip. And despite dodging doors and double-parked cars and trucks in the bike lane, it felt infinitely safer than the bike path I’d previously navigated just a few blocks away.

Which is absolutely shameful.

It’s one thing to share the pathway with other users, even those sections marked for bicycles only. But it’s another thing when the very people the path was intended to serve are forced to choose alternate routes because it just isn’t safe to ride.

Then again, the streets weren’t that great, either.

As I rode back up Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica, I was nearly crushed between a parked Metro bus partially blocking the bike lane and a passing 720 bus whose driver refused to surrender a single inch of his lane, despite the limited space available.

And evidently, was willing to risk my life to stay on schedule.

Then there’s the driver that right-hooked me as she pulled into the driveway of her apartment building in Brentwood, forcing me to turn along with her to avoid a collision.

By this time, though, I’d had enough.

But when I confronted her about nearly causing a collision, something totally unexpected happened.

She apologized so completely and profusely, I found myself with no idea what to say. And felt all that pent-up anger just melt away.

So I urged her to be more careful next time, more to give myself an exit line than to suggest she drive more safely, since she had clearly gotten the message. And rode off with a cascade of apologies following me down the street.

And oddly, leaving me feeling just a little more hopeful than I had been before she cut me off.

If maybe even a little more stressed.

Do L.A’s bikeways exist where they’re supposed to — and are they actually ridable?

Some of the most interesting ideas pop up in my inbox.

Those broken lines mean dodging traffic once the bike lane ends.

For instance, a rider named Noah emailed me last month asking about the stop and start nature of the city’s bike lanes — something virtually every rider in the city has complained at one time or another.

I wanted to raise a quick issue about bike lanes.  The city has a document online that purports to inventory Bike Plan Designated Class II bike lanes — I am not sure if this is the 1996 plan, if it is an inventory of proposed bike lanes or what it is .  . . but I used it to plot a route home on Monday and did not find bike lanes where I had hoped (based on the list) to find them.  For example, the document lists a lane on Devonshire from Topanga Canyon to Woodman — there was some bike lane in that area, but it was not continuous, and I was forced to ride in traffic (on a heavily traveled street) for part of the ride.  Same thing on Woodman itself, and on Laurel Canyon — a lane is listed from Roscoe to Moorpark . . .  Perhaps I am reading this wrong, perhaps these are planned lanes, but if these are supposed to be existing lanes (and if the claim is that we don’t need more lanes because we already have all these wonderful lanes) then someone (LACBC? volunteers through your blog?) should go an do an independent audit of the actual existing lanes in LA . . .

Part of the problem stems from turning to the wrong source for information. Which is actually easy to do, since searching for online biking information in Los Angeles can be a confusing process, leading to as many wrong turns and dead ends as the routes themselves.

A better source for planning a route is Metro’s L.A. bike map, which — unlike LADOT’s map, which seems to assume you do all your riding within the city of Los Angeles — crosses city limit lines to show a complete picture of local Class I, Class II and the generally useless and often dangerous Class III routes.

But don’t be surprised if your browser crashes; you’re better off downloading it to your desktop and using your pdf software to view it.

A quick look confirms that the route Noah used stops and starts without offering any alternative other than dumping the rider into often heavy traffic on busy Valley boulevards.

Someone who’s comfortable taking the lane in traffic might not think twice about it — though there’s no guarantee that the drivers you’re sharing the road with would understand the concept. And someone who knows the local area might use an alternative route to bypass the areas that lack the magical few inches of paint that are somehow supposed to create a virtually impermeable barrier to vehicular traffic.

Not that some drivers understand that, either.

But even if you map out your complete route using the best maps available — or try plotting your way with Google’s promising but buggy biking directions — it won’t tell you anything about traffic conditions, signalization or what hills you might face along your way. And if you knew those things, you wouldn’t need a map to begin with.

So you plot out the best route you can plan, only to end up dodging buses or riding jackhammer streets that jostle your internal organs to the point that you fear a kidney or bowel could pop loose any moment.

And those are the good streets.

Then there are others where the bike lanes and paths are so cracked and broken as to be virtually unridable on a skinny-tired bike. Or barely even exist anymore.

Of course, the obvious solution would be to require that LADOT and similar transportation departments in other cities ride these routes on a regular basis to monitor the conditions riders face. And report back for anything that needs repair or improvement.

But with the current budget issues, and the 40% cut in staffing that LADOT’s Bikeways department has reportedly suffered, that’s just not going to happen. Even if it did somehow manage to make their radar.

So as Noah suggested, it’s up to us.

We ride these streets everyday. No one has a better idea whether a line on a map actually translates to a ridable bikeway. Or if it actually exists in what passes for the real world around these parts.

I’ve suggested some sort of bikeway survey as a project the LACBC might want to take on, and I’ll bring it up again as time goes on — maybe in conjunction with the deep pockets at the newly bike-friendly Metro. Maybe it’s a project L.A.’s Bicycle Advisory Committee might want to consider. Or it could be something Bikeside might do as a natural outgrowth of their current efforts to map collisions, near misses and harassment — after all, those are places you might want to avoid, as well.

Or just email me — biking in la at hotmail dot com — and I’ll track things on my own until we have a better system for it.

And I’ll mention the worst areas on here, so you can plan a route to avoid them.

Because if we don’t do it, it’s pretty clear no one else will.

You can find links to most of the area’s bike maps on at the LADOT and LACBC (scroll down) websites. And thanks for the reminder from Timur that you find some fully vetted bike routes on his excellent, though recently neglected site; other local cyclist-designed routes are available at MapMyRide.

And after wishing everyone a happy Passover the other day, how could I have forgotten to wish the rest of you a happy Easter? Whatever you believe, best wishes this weekend. And for those of you with children, do not — repeat, do not — eat the ears off their chocolate bunnies.

That’s just so wrong.

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Oddly, when I take a day off to attend to other matters — like earning a living, for instance — the stories still keep coming. So settle in for a long list o’links.

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A San Francisco cop in an unmarked police car threatens a cyclist, saying “Shut your fucking mouth or I’ll knock you off your bike.” Meanwhile, a New York cyclist gets doored — which is against the law in New York, just like it is here — and police respond by ticketing the cyclist for not having a bell and wheel reflectors.

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One of L.A.’s best biking routes reopens after repairs due to rain damage. Dr. Alex rips LADOT’s new bike blog, and suggest that Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery fall on her sword. Will offers an exceptionally artistic photo of his bike, ad look who rolls through a stop into the path of his unblinking bike cam.  A Santa Monica writer and actor says the city could do a lot more to promote cycling. A Downtown street gets a mini-road diet, but oddly, no bike lanes. Gary argues that cyclists spend a lot of money in Santa Monica, so where is our bike parking? L.A.’s Anonymous Cyclist offers the story of a biking detention at LAX, and yes, one should bear yesterday’s date in mind. The 2.5 mile, LED-lit Elysian Valley Bike Path along the L.A. River Bike is coming soon, really. The Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association will hold its 21st annual Save the Trails pancake breakfast on Sunday, April 25th. Don’t forget Bike Night at the Hammer — featuring Pee Wee’s Big Adventure — April 8th. GOOD offers a video look at the Wolfpack Hustle’s roll through the L.A. Marathon course.

The California Bike Coalition pushes a vulnerable user law to protect all at risk road users. Mark Cavendish decides to break in his new dental work on the Tour of California, rather than the tougher Giro. NPR finds a grave problem with Google Bike Maps, literally. Is a bike a toy or a vehicle — or a device, as it’s defined here. Streetfilms looks at DC’s first Contraflow Cycle Track, while Portland releases a video explaining cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. Consider the Better World Club sort of an auto club for bikes. Five cyclists win a $97,751 settlement in a 2007 New York Critical Mass excessive force and wrongful arrest case in which the arresting officer was caught lying under oath. Portland cyclists are asked to help get a road rage victim back on a bike. The New York Times asks what is bike culture? A Brooklyn cyclist cited for riding outside the bike lane in a police sting fought the law, and for once, the law didn’t win. A Holland, Michigan driver encounters a cyclist riding in the center of the lane on a multi-lane road “going about 5 mph” in a 45 mile zone, and despite honking several times, the bastard just wouldn’t get out of his way. Florida cyclists threaten legal action if bike lanes aren’t included in a major resurfacing project.

A team of Brit rowers teams up to compete in this year’s RAAM. A Royal Mail carrier says please don’t take my bike away. Constables charge a Leicestershire cyclist with murder following the death of a cyclist this week; British press restrictions mean no explanation for why he was charged. Get your bespoke Tweed Ride togs here. Finally, a bike lane even shorter than the one in Westwood.

Finally, take your pick:

1) A Team Sky cyclist lost the lead in the Tour of Oman due to a bizarre pre-planned pee experiment. 2) London’s biking mayor chases down a driver who threw something at his head; oddly, the press reports it as litter rather than an assault, while the driver responded, “Please Mr. Boris sir, this wasn’t meant to happen. We know you is the Mayor, man.” 3) Pearl Izumi tests their new chamois on Uranus.

A little this, a little that: Wolfpack Hustle crashes the Marathon, County bike news, a tragic death in New Zealand

Some of the cyclists in the "bikeless" L.A. Marathon; Wolfpack Hustle crashed the course hours earlier.

A reader sent the following email about crashing Marathon last Sunday by racing the course at 4:30 in the morning with the Wolfpack Hustle. And in the process, getting a reminder of why he rides.

I saw your post about the “bikeless” marathon. I was disappointed to find out there wasn’t going to be a pre-race bike ride this year, but then I saw this:

http://www.wolfpackhustle.com/viewStory.php?storyId=593

I dragged myself out of bed to go race with these hardcore L.A. riders, not really sure what to expect, and behold – just under 400 riders showed up for a 4:00am race/ride!  I have to say it was an amazing time.  I also have to say, I have never ridden so hard in my life; these “kids” can ride!  I was really impressed by the fixie riders and the pace they were able to maintain over the entire distance…(here’s to being young).  In addition to the huge fixie/single speed contingent, there were a handful of lycra clad roadies as well (myself included).

As slightly unorganized as it was, we were not bothered by the police at all – most people out setting up for the race (or just out for that matter) were cheering everyone on and/or just baffled by the mass of riders pouring down Hollywood Blvd. at that early morning hour.  By the time we rolled out at about 4:30am, the street closures were just starting to take effect, but the entire route was not closed yet.  Given the time of the morning though, traffic was a non-issue.

I was impressed by some of the riders sense of teamwork as well.  I ended up in a group of about 5 or 6 riders for the last 8 miles and we pushed hard as a group all the way to the finish.  I definitely felt a passion for cycling from everyone who took part and will definitely be doing it again next year.

On a final note, I took off for home from the SM pier at about 6:30am.  I was by myself and it’s about a 10mi straight shot down Pico to my house.  At one point, just as the sun was starting to make its presence felt, I looked around and for just a moment there was nothing but green lights and silence.  No cars, no pedestrians, nothing, just me rolling solo early on a Sunday morning.  In that instant, I was again reminded why I ride.

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L.A. County plans to use a $32 million public health grant to create nearly 20 Transit Oriented Districts along Metro’s Blue and Green lines, creating bike and pedestrian paths and amenities near rail stations to help fight obesity, as well as programs to combat tobacco use. Funding will also be provided to conduct environmental reviews for the county’s new Bike Master Plan.

And Metro’s Doug Failing talks bikes, rating Los Angeles C- for bike friendliness, and saying the city needs an A-list bicycle transportation system.

Thanks to County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, via Dr. Michael Cahn, for the heads-up.

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More on StreetsSummit and NYC DOT superstar Janette Sadik-Khan. Damien takes a last look at last Saturday’s event; a call to action one step and one cycle at a time; and a Times critic compares L.A.’s innovation-resistant DOT with Sadik-Khan’s Bloomberg-backed reinvention of the Big Apple.

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Congratulations to frequent commenter — and one of my daily reads — Tracy Wilkins of Springfield Cyclist, who was just nominated as Springfield, MO’s Sports or Fitness Blog of the Year.

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New Zealand correspondent the Trickster reports that an Auckland cyclist was killed in a classic right (our left) cross collision, the driver reportedly “did not see” the academic superstar she killed before she turned into his path; MSN NZ responds by asking if bikes should be banned from the roads.

Note to MSN — it wasn’t the bike that killed someone.

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The city finally repaves a troublesome intersection on the (hopefully) future bike boulevard. Metro says the right thing after nearly curbing one of the city’s leading cyclists. Actually, red light cameras do reduce accidents according to the LAPD. Attention Department of DIY: Painting your own bike lane could mean big trouble. A look at Long Beach’s new found bike friendliness. San Diego botches a patch job on a popular cycling route — one I rode frequently when I live down that way — that has already claimed two lives. A Bay Area Jewish group will be “people of the bike” this May; while a “non-kosher” NYC bike shop now offers a bike gear vending machine. A good look at contraflow lanes, and an animated look at wheel sucking and totally cool bike commuting. Now that’s what I call a cargo bike. Idaho’s proposed three-foot passing and anti-harassment laws are done for this year. A 17-year old Chicago cyclist is killed when an 86-year old driver crosses the center line to hit her and two other riders head on. Actually, “avid cyclist” is a perfectly good term if it accurately describes what you are. Time to tell the GOP’s anti-bike lawmakers what you think. The current auto-centric perspective has roots dating back to the birth of cycling; but at least they don’t horsewhip us anymore. A Canadian driver dismantles his truck to avoid arrest after killing a cyclist and fleeing the scene. Danish police prematurely seize unabandoned bikes and deliver them directly to a landfill. Aussie cycling champ James Williamson’s recent death was due to an undiagnosed heart problem. York — the old one, not the New — urges Respect On Our Roads. Amazingly, a UK pregnant driver who fled the scene after hitting and killing a cyclist at 70 mph receives the equivalent of probation so her baby won’t be born in prison; trust me, the baby would get over it. A driver who killed an Irish racing champ while rushing to catch a plane is sentenced to five years. Seventy percent of Taipei cyclists don’t wear helmets, while 70% of survey respondents think they should be forced to.

Finally, a Florida real estate agent was moonlighting as a cab driver last year when a passenger attacked him; when passing motorists ignored his please for help, a Spanish-speaking cyclist loaned him a cell phone to call 911. Now he’s returning the favor by giving away free bike lights to anyone who needs one.

That’s class.

Talk bikes with Metro, and bike plan outreach with the County BAC

This is starting to get ridiculous.

After all these years of being ignored, suddenly everyone wants to talk bikes. From the Council and police, to the L.A. Times, which just can’t seem to get enough of us.

I feel like the latest Hollywood starlet du jour. Last year, we couldn’t get arrested in this town; although some of us came close. Now we’re having scripts thrust in our face, chased by paparazzi and rumored to be dating every up-and-comer and semi-has-been this side of the ‘Bu.

Latest in line is Metro, the friendly people who specialize in getting you from here to there by bus or rail.

As part of a planned series of Bicycle Roundtables, they’re inviting cyclists and other interested parties to sit down with them on Friday the 19th to “initiate a dialogue and identify issues of importance to cyclists.”

Not getting run off the road by buses would be a good start. Followed by allowing a few more bikes per train car than Noah did. Or would, anyway.

And how about not leaving cyclists on the side of the road at 4 in the morning?

This is your chance to voice your own opinion. But you have to RSVP by this Friday:

Metro is convening a series of Bicycle Roundtable meetings in 2010, and we welcome your participation! Doug Failing, Metro’s Executive Director of Highway Programs and Interim Chief Planning Officer, was active in the Caltrans Bicycle Advisory Committee. He will kick-off the first Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting.

The purpose of the first meeting is to initiate a dialogue and identify issues of importance to cyclists in Los Angeles County. This will lead to a vision for enhancing Metro’s current program. The outcome of the first meeting will determine the frequency, next steps, and agendas of future meetings.

The first Metro Bicycle Roundtable meeting is scheduled for:

Friday, February 19, 2010

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Metro

One Gateway Plaza

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Windsor Conference Room, 15th Floor

Light refreshments will be served.

Sign-in and receive a visitor badge at the 3rd Floor security desk.

Please be on time. This meeting will start promptly at 2:00 pm.

Please RSVP by Friday, February 12, 2010 to Jennifer Gill at (213) 922-4224 or gillj@metro.net.

I’ve already made my reservation. Then again, I’m a sucker for free food.

And I promise I won’t be late.

Unless maybe my bus is.

Meanwhile, you’re also invited to the second meeting of the County Bicycle Advisory Committee on Wednesday the 17th to discuss preparations for the public meetings and outreach for the upcoming L.A. County bike plan:

This is to inform you that the next Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting for the County’s Bikeway Master Plan (Plan) has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th.  The meeting details are as follows:

Time & Date: 02/17/2010;  7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Board Overflow Room (across from Cafeteria)

3rd Floor, Metro Headquarters

1 Gateway Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90012-2952

Contact: Abu Yusuf, ayusuf@dpw.lacounty.gov, (626) 458-3940

Directions: Click here for directions to the Metro Headquarters Building.

Purpose: The materials to be presented at the first round of community meetings and suggestions for improving the public outreach strategy for the Plan.  Please visit lacountybikeplan.org for more information on the Plan.  The final meeting agenda will be sent out by February 12th.  A draft agenda is included for your reference.  Please let us know if you have any recommendation for topics to discuss at the meeting by February 10th.

DRAFT Agenda

Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting #2

County of Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan

Board Overflow Room; 3rd Floor, Metro Headquarters;

1 Gateway Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90012-2952

February 17, 2010

7:00PM – 8:30pm

Introductions (5 min)

Minutes from January Meeting (15 min)

Public Workshop Schedule and Locations (20 minutes)

Workshop Format and Presentation Materials (20 minutes)

Outreach and Promotion of Workshops (20 minutes)

Next Steps (10 minutes)

And to top things off, the County also invites you to join them to discuss the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail:

Thank you for your continued support for the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail project.  This is to inform you that the first Arroyo Seco Bike Trail working group meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, February 18th.  The meeting details are as follows:

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Location:  Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

Los Feliz Room

(323) 221-9939

570 West Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065

For a map click here

Purpose:  Discuss the progress to date and review the attached project concept report, including the project costs and trail alignment.

Maybe this really is the year of the bike.

………

Damien Newton continues his usual excellent work with an in-depth examination of the proposed Backbone Network, while the Times offers a summary of the comments. Stephen Box suggests L.A. should learn from Long Beach’s example. Will Campbell’s 8 Presidents Ride this weekend just happens to end near the first L.A. Street Food Fest, complete with bike valet. Coincidence? Meanwhile, Green LA Girl calls your attention to a beginner’s Mountain Bike Ride for happily single people on Valentines Day, and reminds us about the LACBC’s L.A. River Ride. Cynergy offers their latest lecture on cycling for health and performance Wednesday at 7p. A San Diego cyclist was killed trying to pass a city-owned dump truck on the right; seldom a good idea. Riverside considers an update to that city’s Bicycle Master Plan at tonight’s City Council meeting. Eight ways to stop killing cyclists in America. Does true democracy demand lower speed limits? A Wichita councilman says he doesn’t know anyone who bikes to work; a local blogger suggests he look out his City Hall window. An Austin physician pushing for a mandatory helmet law is undone by his own study, which shows helmets don’t make a difference — but drinking does. A London rider files a formal complaint against an abusive cabbie, and just hopes he doesn’t have a dog. Summer’s here and the time is right for riding in the streets — in New Zealand, anyway. Team New Zealand’s GM says bike racing is now as aerodynamic as Formula 1. Finally, it has nothing to do with bikes, but a group Oak Park high school students held a bake sale yesterday to raise money to help Boeing clean up the nuclear-contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory. They raised $99.31; Boeing reportedly declined to accept the donation.

The Dept. of Currently Infeasible vs. the Dept. of Just Get It Done.

The difficult, I’ll do right now; the impossible may take a little while.

— Crazy He Calls Me, by Carl Sigman and Sidney Keith Russell

A few years back, I was hired as advertising director for a company that made electronic musical and recording equipment.

Years of mismanagement had put the company in serious financial trouble. And I was given less than five months to hire and train an in-house creative team, develop a new marketing strategy to completely reposition the company, and create an ad campaign good enough to pull them from the brink of bankruptcy.

It wasn’t possible.

I knew it. They knew it. And I agreed to do it anyway.

After countless long hours, including working both Christmas and New Years Day, we got it to the printer just minutes before our final drop-dead deadline, and broke the new campaign on the eve of the most important trade show in the company’s history. Three days later, they left with over $6 million in new sales — nearly 75% of the total sales for the entire year before.

It wasn’t enough. Within a few weeks, the bank cut off funding, and the company’s assets were liquidated in bankruptcy court.

It may not have been my best work, but I am more proud of that than anything else I’ve ever done in my career. Because I refused to accept that it couldn’t be done. And got it done anyway.

Now compare that with the sad state of our local transportation authorities. At a time when this city desperately needs bold leadership to solve its transportation problems, we get excuses and endless delays.

Consider our nascent rail system.

Metro has methodically focused on building just one or two lines at a time, making painfully slow progress on a railway that is decades away from touching the lives of most Angelenos, unless their starting and ending points just happens to be near one of the lines. And they don’t mind going through Downtown to make their connections.

The planned routes that might, someday, turn it into a viable transit system won’t break ground for years — and many, such as the long-promised Subway to the Sea — aren’t even scheduled to be completed in my lifetime. Unless I happen to live a very long damn time.

Contrast that with Denver, where city leaders had talked about the need for light rail for decades, yet it was constantly derailed by one seemingly insurmountable obstacle or another. Until local voters finally elected an administration determined to cut through the red tape and just get it done.

Instead of following L.A.’s example, they committed to building the entire system at once. The result is an integrated regional system that has been fully functional — and successful — virtually from day one. And yes, they actually encourage cyclists to take the trains.

Meanwhile, our own leaders are pushing, with no promise of success, for just three of the 14 scheduled L.A.-area projects to be moved forward a little.

Or take the pitiful, disjointed system of L.A. bikeways that don’t connect, don’t actually lead anywhere and are frequently in virtually unridable condition.

The problem, we’re told, is that the city’s built-out street system is already over-stressed. As LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michele Mowery was recently quoted in Bicycling Magazine, “What I need is roadway. Right now, all I can do is try to find places to squeeze bikes in.”

Yet New York City, home to one of the most congested, built-out road systems in the country, recently completed a 200 mile expansion of their bike lane system — increasing the system by nearly 50% in just three years.

The result has been equally impressive, with bike commuting up 45% since the project began — a nearly a 50% increase in ridership in just three years. And it will undoubtedly rise further now that the system is complete, reducing stress on the local traffic and transit systems while helping to improve the health of those new commuters.

The difference is civic leaders — from the mayor’s office down — who recognize the value of bicycles as a legitimate part of the overall transit system, and have the political will to overcome objections and just it done.

The same leadership that had the courage to convert one of the city’s busiest boulevards into a pedestrian walkway.

Yet even L.A.’s proposed Bike Master Plan fails to “squeeze bikes in,” since most bikeways that might actually make a difference are listed as “currently infeasible.” And the people charged with leading the change continue to offer implausible excuses, like telling council members that they can’t move forward with a sharrow test project because they’re worried about cyclists slipping on rain-soaked paint.

And yes, I actually heard them say that. Which makes me wonder just how many riders have been killed or crippled on Long Beach’s new sharrow green lane. Or maybe it just hasn’t rained there yet.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has the most congested roadways in the nation. Yet we’re still waiting for our civic leaders to recognize that the city’s decades-long focus on increasing traffic capacity has failed miserably. And that maybe, just maybe, the real solution is offering people viable alternatives to getting behind the wheel.

Like biking, for instance. Or taking a train system than can actually get you where you want to go.

And for someone — anyone — with the courage to just step up and get it done.

………

Streetsblog interviews the LACBC. Will defuses a potentially violent situation, and proves he who honks last honks best. Today could be the day you get a ticket for riding through a crosswalk in Santa Monica. An Eastside writer asks if the Class 1 bike path in South Gate could be used to improve the quality of life for local residents. Cycle Chic looks haute on a Batavus Fryslân. No Whip rides the high altitude Alta Alpina Double Century. Texas cyclists vent their wrath on their veto-wielding governor. An experienced bicycle safety instructor is killed after inexplicably turning directly in front of an oncoming car. A Virginia judge laments the lack of civility between cyclists and drivers. Vancouver discovers their new bike bridge could actually turn a profit. San Francisco’s Mission District is about to get new bike lanes, as is Dar-es-Salaam — maybe they just have more road space than we do. Town Mouse discovers the value of a good tailwind. Finally, the Guardian asks if bikes and beer really mix.

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