Tag Archive for L.A. River bike path

A little this, a little that: a little bike courtesy goes a long way, NIMBY homeowners battle Expo bikeway

Once again, the issue of conflicts between fast riders, slow riders and pedestrians rears it’s ugly head on the L.A. River bike path.

A slower rider complains about cyclists he calls “speed racers” brushing past and cutting in too close, and wonders why they can’t just slow down.

The answer is not, as the story suggests, imposing speed limits on riders or taking other steps to slow faster cyclists. Or, as some riders have suggested, getting non-cyclists the hell off the bike path.

It’s a simple matter of showing other path users the same courtesy you expect them to show you.

Even though it often seems few things are less common than common courtesy these days.

But really, it’s very simple.

For slower riders and pedestrians, always be aware of your surroundings and other people on the path, keep to the right and leave room for faster riders to pass you.

For faster cyclists, remember that it’s a multi-use path, which means that other people have every bit as much right to be there as you do. Always slow down, announce your presence — ie, “on your left” or “passing on the left” — and pass carefully, waiting until the way is clear and it’s safe to do so. And whenever possible, give other path users the same three-foot passing distance you expect from drivers.

If you can’t manage that, find another place to ride or walk.

There are enough jerks on the roads without bringing that crap onto the paths we use to get away from it. And them.

And that goes for every other bike path, too.

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up.

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In the most astounding example of bold-faced NIMBYism this side of Beverly Hills, a group of Westside homeowners have filed a federal environmental lawsuit attempting to block the bike path — yes, bike path — along the Expo Line extension into Santa Monica.

Because, evidently, we cause more harm to the environment than all those trains rushing past. Especially after filling up on Danger Dogs $1 burritos.

Of course, what they really fear is all us big, bad bike riders besmirching the safety and sanctity of their neighborhood. And are willing to ridiculously abuse existing environmental laws to stop us.

We can only hope the judge recognizes this for what it is, and tosses them out on their NIMBY ass. And sticks them with the court charges.

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It Magazine invites you to celebrate the end of bike month with a panel discussion on Greening Your City: Biking Los Angeles, moderated by actor Ed Begley Jr. on Saturday, May 26th in Pasadena; panelists include LACBC Executive Director Jennifer Klausner, former LA District Attorney and Paris cycle chic photographer Gil Garcetti, C.I.C.L.E. Executive Director Dan Dabek and Bike San Gabriel Valley co-founder Wesley Reutimann.

And L.A.’s Council District 14 joins the LACBC, LADOT, and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council to host a Downtown Bicycle Network Open House next Wednesday.

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Despite the urging of GOP party leaders, Tea Party Congressional representatives once again target all federal bike and pedestrian funding in an attempt to force the socialistic funding of highways by people who may or may not use them.

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No wonder American kids are so fat.

At least 60 Michigan high school seniors are suspended for — get this — riding their bikes to school, even though they were escorted by the city’s mayor and a police car. Something tells me it may have been one of the principal’s last official acts at that school.

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Matthew Gomez for the heads-up.

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LACBC board member Steve Boyd talks about the new Tern folding bikes, which GOOD says could transform transit; GOOD also takes a look at L.A.’s lowrider bike club. LADOT offers a list of new bike rack locations, while the new Orange Line bike path extension is nearing completion; oddly, without having to content with an environmental lawsuit from over-privileged homeowners. New bike lanes appear in Boyle Heights. Nightingale Middle School students ask for bike lanes so no more kids will get hurt. Seems like there’s one in every crowd, as Will Campbell and another rider stop for a stop sign and let a crossing driver pass — who then has to jam on his brakes when a trailing jerk rider blows through the stop. A writer for the Daily Trojan says more bike lanes won’t solve USC’s problems, but fewer bikes would. The annual Bike Night at the Hammer Museum returns Thursday, June 7th. A look at bike polo in North Hollywood Park. Beverly Hills is surrounded with sharrows, but can’t seem to figure them out. Sunset magazine looks at a Glendale woman who embraced biking to take back the suburbs. Welcome to Mike Don, the newly hired director of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition.

The state Senate votes once again on whether California cyclists deserve a three-foot passing law; a nearly identical law passed both the Senate and House last year before being vetoed by our misguided governor. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times says the proposed three-foot law is sort of better than nothing. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious has developed a statewide map showing the location of bike-involved collisions reported to the CHP; wrecks from the last 24 hours are shown in yellow, older ones in red. Grant Fisher, the cyclist critically injured in San Diego the same day Robert Marshall was killed, is now paralyzed from the waist down, but with a better attitude than most of us; heads-up courtesy of BikeSD. In better news, Baron Herdelin-Doherty, the cyclist seriously injured in the collision that killed cyclist Nick Venuto when a driver flew off a San Diego freeway and landed on the bike path they were riding, says he’s almost back to health almost a year later. Camarillo cyclists are about to get bike lanes over Highway 101.

George Wolfberg forwards a look at some unusual and artistic bike racks; something else Beverly Hills says they just can’t manage to do. Bicycling offers advice on how to avoid rookie roadie mistakes. GOOD looks at the history and psychology of sharing the road. A year later, Utah authorities are still looking for the hit-and-run driver who killed a 24-year old cyclist. Portland cyclists are going to get a new bike highway on the left side of the road to avoid buses; local Portland groups look to develop a crowd-sourced case for bike advocacy. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club seeks to train grassroots bike activists. On the eve of the Exergy women’s stage race, a Bay Area women’s pro team has their bikes stolen; hats off to Boise police for getting them all back. A South Dakota drunk driver plows through three kids riding their bikes; link via Witch on a Bicycle. Whatever issues we have in here in L.A., at least you don’t have to worry about a deer jumping over your bike, though you may have to watch out for cougar killing SaMo police. Bicycling declares Dallas the worst bike city in America. Trial is starting in the case of the hit-and-run driver accused of killing a Maryland Senate candidate in 2010. A vigil is held for Mickey Shunick, the Lafayette LA woman who disappeared riding home from a night out; it couldn’t hurt to say a prayer if you’re so inclined. The six best cities to take a bike vacation.

A former Vancouver city councilor says the city’s bike share program will fail if riders are required to wear helmets. A Toronto cyclist was trying to walk away when he was deliberately run down by a cab driver. A London writer says Chicago gets it right and they don’t. London’s transportation department says six of the city’s most dangerous intersections are safe. One of the UK’s top teen cyclists battles back against meningitis. That inflatable bike helmet is about to hit the market overseas for the equivalent of $525; I think I’ll keep using my $65 Trek hard hat.

Finally, a British Member of Parliament is hit from behind by a minicab at a red light, then yelled at by the driver for not getting the hell out of his way. It may be worth noting that the cab belongs to the same Addison Lee cab company whose owner recently encouraged cabbies to drive illegally in bus only lanes, and said it’s cyclists’ own fault if we get hit.

Oops.

A little this, a little that — social media bike thieves, a jerk cyclist and a leading blogger dumps on LACBC

They’re getting smarter.

According to an email circulating in the local cycling community, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department has broken up a bike theft ring that used social media to identify what bikes to steal.

The email reported that the suspects would identify bike owners through Facebook, Craigslist and geotagged photos, and exchange emails using a fictitious name and email address. Then they would research their victims and their homes online before driving to their houses at night, breaking in and stealing their bikes.

The thieves used the names Joe Wayne and Mark Silverstein, both using Yahoo accounts. They may have negotiated with their victims about buying a bike or just about riding; victims may have emailed them a photo of their bike before it was stolen.

According to the email, most of the bikes that were recovered have been stripped of their components; however, the Sheriff’s Department has around 40 frames and 100 wheels they hope to return to their owners.

I’m not going to post the name and contact numbers of the Sheriff’s Lieutenant who sent the email online; however, if this story sounds a little too familiar to you, email me at the address on the About page and I’ll send his contact information to you.

Thanks to Eric Bruins and the staff at Geklaw for the heads-up.

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Mike tips us to the story of a hit-and-run of a different sort, as a volunteer working to help clean up the L.A. River is the victim of a cyclist who failed to stop after crashing into her.

So let’s make this very clear.

If you hit someone while riding your bike, you have just as much of an obligation to stop as anyone else. No matter who’s at fault.

And while it’s called the L.A. River bike path, it’s actually a multi-use trail, like most off-road bike paths in the L.A. area. Which means pedestrians have as much right to be there as you do, whether they’re cleaning up the river or out for a late night stroll.

And whether you like it or not.

Yes, they have an obligation to use the bikeway safely and watch out for other people, whether on two wheels or two feet.

Just like you do.

And anyone who yells at pedestrians to “get off the bike path” — let alone fails to stop after hitting one — is just a jerk.

Meanwhile, the comments offer the usual distasteful back and forth that seems to occur whenever anything involving a cyclist occurs.

As a famous L.A. area resident put it 20 years ago this week, can we all get along?

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You’re invited to participate in a webcast with pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer at 1:30 pm on Monday, May 7th.

The webcast is open to the public; however, you must have a Ustream profile or log-in using your Twitter account in order to join the live chat, or ask questions using your Facebook account. And if Levi likes your question, you’ll win a limited edition Levi poster from CLIF Bar.

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In other upcoming events, this Saturday will see a free Tour de Palmdale Poker Run Fun Bike Ride to celebrate the city’s hosting of the 6th Stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Riders will meet at Marie Kerr Park, 2723 Rancho Vista, and ride a 30 mile course through the city, picking up a playing card at each stop; the one with the best poker hand at the end of the ride wins. Thanks to Michele Chavez for the tip.

And everyone who rides PCH — or would like to — is invited attend a progress meeting on the design of the Pacific Coast Bike Route Improvements Project between Busch Drive and the western Malibu city limit. The meeting is scheduled for 10 am to noon in the Multi-Purpose Room at Malibu City Hall, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.

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Erik Griswald forwards a couple of stories, as a Bay Area TV station goes after those damn law breaking and non-helmet wearing cyclists.

And an 18-year old Chandler AZ cyclist can thank the deity of his choice after he was right hooked by a 69-year old driver while walking his bike across the street — apparently with the light, and most likely in a crosswalk.

Even though he ended up with a broken collarbone and tire marks across his chest — and even though the driver assumed she had just hit the curb and kept going on her way to Famous Footwear — a police spokesperson said it was just a tragic accident, and no charges were likely to be filed.

So lets get this straight.

A woman fails to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, never even looking in the direction she’s actually turning. Then continues merrily on her way, oblivious to the fact that she’d just literally run over another human being.

And the police say it’s just an oops?

Just thank God you don’t live or ride in Chandler AZ.

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Santa Maria cyclists are mourning the death of a popular club leader who was run down by an 84-year old driver who failed to negotiate a turn on PCH.

I suppose that will just be an “oops,” too.

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Thanks to the multiple people who have sent me links to the many, many stories about the Berkeley hit-and-run that was captured by bike cam, leading to the arrest of a typical scumbag ex-con.

There’s really not much left to say about this one.

Except that it offers dramatic evidence that every cyclist should have a bike cam of their very own. I’m starting to consider it every bit as important as lights or a helmet.

After all, while lights can help keep you from getting hit and a helmet could offer some protection if you get hit, a cam could offer proof of what happened if you do get hit. And as this case shows, help catch the driver if he or she flees the scene —as happens in a third of all L.A. collisions.

And it seems to be absolutely necessary to build a case under the city’s still-untested cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which still hasn’t seen its first test case.

Of course, I should talk.

I don’t have one yet myself, thanks to a budget so tight it squeaks. Maybe GoPro or Contour would like to sponsor a poor, lowly bike blogger.

Hey, it could happen. Right?

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LA/2B and GOOD invite you to imagine your ideal car-free day in L.A.; the winner will receive $500 to make it a reality.

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Finally, Mikael Colville-Andersen, author of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic — and arguably the world’s leading bike blogger — takes the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to task for its standard liability waiver for group rides, describing it as a “massive marketing/advocacy FAIL.”

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe Denmark is a far less litigious society that ours. Maybe he just doesn’t understand American legal culture. Or maybe his rabid campaign against bike helmets has led to a little confusion due to one too many falls.

But even so, he should have realized that the waiver form comes from the LACBC’s insurance company and was written by their lawyers, not the coalition’s. And that use of that form is a requirement to even get insurance, without which a non-profit organization such as the LACBC would be unable to host rides, since the legal fallout from a single fall or collision could be enough to wipe out the entire organization.

He’s right, though.

The form could be written a lot better. But that’s a matter to take up with the insurance companies and lawyers, not a non-profit leading the fight for safer streets and improved access for cyclists in L.A. County.

And which just wants to let local cyclists enjoy a simple bike ride.

Without getting sued.

Happy Bike Month!

Random thoughts on last Sunday’s River Ride; simple new rules for rude River Riders

Now that life has finally settled down a little, let’s talk about last Sunday’s successful L.A. River Ride.

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Just a few of the riders resting at the Long Beach pit stop, turnaround point for the 70-mile ride.

First off, a huge thanks to everyone who made this ride possible.

It never fails to amaze me that a largely volunteer organization can pull off an event like this every year. And do it well enough that riders not only come back year after year, but that it keeps growing.

In fact, the one comment I heard more than anything else during and after the ride was how well organized it was.

Credit for that goes to the relative handful of LACBC staffers, as well as the many volunteers who put in countless hours in the weeks leading up to the event. Without them, it wouldn’t have happened — let alone been the success that it was.

So if you had anything to do with it, there are over 2500 cyclists who owe you a round of thanks.

And a special thanks to JJ Hoffman, who once again did the impossible as River Ride Coordinator, along with Volunteer Coordinators Martin Lopez-Iu and Erik Alcaraz.

Update: I inadvertently left Erik Alcaraz’s name out of the sentence above when I first posted; my apologies to Eric, and thanks to Carol Feucht for calling that to my attention.

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Several people gave up their Saturday so we could enjoy a clearly defined route.

I was particularly grateful to the people who sacrificed their Saturday to mark the route and keep us all from riding off the rails.

It took me awhile to catch on to how the riders ahead of me invariably knew just where to turn. And yes, I confess that I can be a little slow sometimes.

Once I finally spotted those little tags on the pavement, I was never again in danger of being lost. Even in parts of town where the route strayed far from the river and on which I had never before set foot or tire.

Anytime I started to get confused, I just cast my eyes down to the pavement, and within a few minutes I’d know exactly where to go and what to do.

Now, if someone could just provide the same service for my life.

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As we neared Long Beach, concrete and graffiti gave way to beautiful wetlands.

I do have one criticism, though.

The one part of the ride that wasn’t so successful was the exit from the bike path back to the finish at the Autry Museum at the end of the ride, where cyclists leaving the bike path were thrown into bumper-to-bumper traffic with little or no idea where to go.

And while it’s one thing to expect experienced riders to contend with crowded streets, it’s another to ask little kids and parents returning from the family ride to know how to navigate between traffic lanes jammed with frustrated drivers.

More attention needs be paid to the end of the ride next year, including the possibility of arranging for traffic cops to rein in motorists and direct riders safely back to their destination.

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After the ride, I had the privilege of talking with biking attorney Howard Krepack, who had allowed me to ride as his guest — and for which I remain extremely grateful.

Part of our discussion centered on the dangers posed by thoughtless road design and construction work that fails to consider the safety of cyclists.

Discussing bike safety with GEK Law's Howard Krepack; I'm the one in full bike drag.

Krepack has spent the last year or so dealing with exactly that problem, resulting from construction work on PCH that left an open trench and loose gravel on the side of the road where countless riders usually pass safely every day. Yet in this case, the lack of consideration given to the needs of all road users left a dangerous situation uncorrected for a full weekend, resulting in a number of riders being seriously injured.

I saw a similar sort of thoughtlessness on the lower section of the L.A. River Bike path below Vernon — which this time, fortunately, only posed a potential danger.

It was at a section where the southbound path forked, with the left fork continuing downriver by passing under a bridge, while the right fork led up to the roadway.

In between was a white concrete retaining wall, with the butt end facing directly towards oncoming riders. And no signs or painted warning of any kind to alert riders to the dangerous obstruction placed directly in the center of the pathway leading up to it.

A moment of indecision or distraction — or getting crowded off the path, which was a distinct possibility at times on Sunday — could easily have resulted in serious injuries.

Cyclists in Long Beach, with the legendary Queen Mary in the background on right.

Of course, since it’s a permanent part of the pathway, it’s a danger riders will continue to confront on a daily basis until it’s fixed.

Or until someone is seriously injured, or worse.

All because someone failed to think about the safety of cyclists on a pathway intended for our use.

And because of a quirk in state law, no one will ever face any liability for such a dangerous obstruction, or have any legal obligation to fix it.

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Speaking of getting crowded off the pathway, there was an ongoing problem throughout the ride of a handful of bikers behaving badly.

To be fair, the overwhelming majority of cyclists seemed to be very considerate, as riders of widely varying types and abilities went out of their way to make room for one another and ride safely.

Unfortunately, though, a few riders seemed to think they had no obligation to ride safely around their fellow cyclists. Time and again, I found myself or other riders passed by mini-pacelines with no warning and just inches of clearance, or in some cases, even grazing other riders as they rode by.

In one particular case, I was amazed to watch a slower rider being passed on both sides simultaneously, with no warning whatsoever and just inches to spare on either side — and an unprotected drop of over 30 feet to the concrete riverbed below.

A very bored paramedic, one of the best signs of a successful ride.

Had he been startled by the unexpected pass, all three could have found themselves tumbling down the steep embankment. And they could have easily taken a number of other riders with them, myself included.

So for anyone unclear on the concept, here are a few rules to remember for next year’s River Ride.

Or any other ride, for that matter.

  • Don’t pass unless you can do so safely. That means don’t start a pass if you can’t get back before oncoming riders get in the way, or if there’s not sufficient room to do it without interfering with the safe movement of other riders.
  • Always pass on the left. Cyclists will instinctively move to their right when startled or if they feel a need to avoid objects or other riders, and won’t expect to find you there.
  • Don’t pass closer than an arms-length distance to another rider. While you may be used to passing shoulder to shoulder in the peloton, it’s guaranteed to startle, threaten and/or piss off most riders. Like me, for instance.
  • Never try to pass a rider who is already in the process passing someone else. That’s just begging for trouble, even under the best of circumstances.
  • Call it out before you pass. A simple “On your left” or “Passing left” will avoid the overwhelming majority of collisions — let alone altercations — between cyclists.
  • That said, shouting “Left! Left! Left!” is not French for “Get the hell out of my way.” Other riders are under no more obligation to get out of the way of jerks on two wheels than they are the ones on four.
  • Speaking of jerks, calling out “Rolling” does not give you a free pass to run red lights; particularly when there is cross traffic waiting for the green — and especially when a few dozen of your fellow riders are already stopping.
  • Never put other riders at risk. Save your aggressive riding tatics for race day, when you’re riding with people who are presumably willing to assume the same risks, rather than people who are just out for a good ride on a nice day.
  • Show a little respect to everyone you pass. It’s entirely possible that the rider you just cut off could run you down and drop you like freshman English if the mood strikes. Or that the plump girl or guy struggling to finish the 30-miler could end up being the hottie on the century who won’t give you the time of day in another year or two.

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One thing seldom comes up in the seeming endless conflict between cyclists and equestrians over who should have the right to ride off-road trails.

Undoubtedly, some riders could show more consideration to other trail users. But I’ve never seen a bike leave a massive, steaming and slippery pile of crap in the middle of a heavily used pathway.

I am legally required to clean-up after my dog — and do so gladly — even though she does her business out of the way, where no one is likely to step or slip in it.

Yet horse owners seem to feel no similar obligation to clean-up after their animals. And left several mounds of manure in the middle of the river bike path on the busiest day of the year, where it posed a health and safety danger to everyone that passed.

Thanks again to Howard Krepack, Lisa Waring and the entire GEK Law team for the chance to ride with them on Sunday.

A rising and reviving L.A. River — and a 10th annual ride to celebrate it

Someday it’s gonna rain, someday it’s gonna pour, someday that old dry river, it won’t be dry any more. — Dry River, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men


Los Angeles tried to kill its river.

Unlike other cities where life revolves around the streams at their hearts, L.A.’s central river has been abused and ignored, and all but forgotten.

Admittedly, it was an act of self-defense, after one too many violent floods. And so they dammed it and tore up the riverbed, straightened its course and lined it with concrete to in an attempt to tame the usually mild and sometimes wild river and transform it into the world’s largest culvert system.

Instead they created a popular movies set, home to key scenes in everything from Grease and Chinatown to Terminator 2 and Transformers. As well as a massive canvas for countless taggers. And the site of odd events and dramatic rescues, human and otherwise, that transfix L.A. nearly every time it rains.

And so the city turned away from it, other than a relative handful of cyclists who continued to ride the bikeway that follows the river channel for much of its lower length. Sometimes holding their nose.

Yet, the river refused to die.

And in a comeback every bit as improbable and unexpected as Robert Downey Jr. or Mickey Roarke — or Jay Leno, for that matter — the L.A. River is slowly coming back to life.

Led largely by groups such as Friends of the Los Angeles River and L.A. Creak Freak’s Joe Linton and associates, efforts are under way to revitalize the river, and extend the bikeway its full length, from the harbor in Long Beach to Canoga Park.

Now one of the key steps in that revitalization, the new park on the site of the former Albion Dairy in Lincoln Heights, is up for review. While the deadline for offering comments online has passed, you can still comment on the plans — and insist on the inclusion of a bikeway paralleling the river —  from 6:30 to 8:30 pm this Thursday at the Downey Recreation Center, 1772 N. Spring Street.

There will also be free refreshments, which should be enough to get the cycling community out.

Speaking of the L.A. River, Joe Linton offers advice on who to call on those not-infrequent occasions when the access gates to the county’s many river-channel bikeways remain locked long after the risk of rushing water has passed.

And no, it’s not Joe. Or Stephen Box. Or even me, for that matter.

Meanwhile, you have a perfect opportunity to explore the L.A. River bikeway for yourself at the recently announced Los Angeles River Ride.

Sponsored by the LACBC — which has been revitalized itself in recent years — the L.A. River Ride is one of the city’s largest and most popular rides. It’s scheduled for Sunday, June 6th, with rides ranging from a 15-mile Family Ride and free Kids Ride to a relatively flat Century. And just about everything in between.

Full information and registration form for the 10th Annual L.A. River Ride are available by clicking here.

From what I’ve heard, it’s a lot of fun.

So maybe this time, you’ll see me there. And vice versa, I hope.

Update: Janette Hoffman emailed to remind me about the role the L.A. River Ride has played in pushing for the revitalization of the river, with a 2006 postcard campaign urging the mayor to complete the bike path — including the recently completed section between Fletcher and Fig, which will be part of this year’s ride. She also met with the Gateway Council of Governments in 2008, resulting in re-striping of the path and removal of graffiti between Maywood and Long Beach.

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California’s car-centric Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) gave a big, fat screw you to cyclists at a meeting in San Diego last week, refusing to allow cyclists to be represented on the committee. The Times looks at the big changes taking place in suddenly bike-friendly Long Beach, yet fails to note the death of a cyclist there just a few weeks ago. Enci Box explains how to make L.A. safe, effective and more enjoyable for cyclists. Damien Newton notes that comments may not be allowed when the Council considers the anti-harassment ordinance tomorrow, but suspects Rosendahl might argue otherwise if a lot of cyclists show up. Dr. Alex argues that speed limit increases should be put on hold at the TranspoComm meeting that follows. The LAPD busts a Downtown bike theft ring selling hot bikes on Craigslist. Living well without a car. A helmetless Pink and husband ride the streets of L.A.; Carson Daley puts on his helmet and sticks his tongue out at photographers on Ocean Blvd. A town in North Carolina considers a clearly well thought-out plan to ban bikes from the bike path. BikeDenver unveils a series of public service announcements to promote bike safety. A look at Carlos Bertonatti, the drunken schmuck musician who kept going after driving over — and killing — a Miami cyclist last week. Kenosha, WI revises their cycling laws after a cyclist is ticketed for drinking from his water bottle. Yet another city gets (legal) sharrows before L.A., this time in New York’s lower Hudson Valley. Bike Radar provides a heads-up for the upcoming Handmade Bike Show and Rocky Mountain Bicycle Fest. A New Hampshire man threatens cyclists, misses his arraignment, and gets a slap on the wrist. Sydney replaces the site of drunken brawls with a hub for cyclists, including outdoor café, bike shop and showers. Hello, is anyone in L.A. listening? Hello? Finally, a Hummer driving cyber bully threatens cyclists in New Zealand — and claims to have already run two off the road — then quickly backs off after riders unmask his identity; thanks to the Trickster for the heads up!

Bike paths: Ride at your own risk.

Most experienced cyclists know that we risk our safety every time we venture into the traffic lane.

But maybe you didn’t know that you’re also at risk when you ride in a designated off-road bikeway (Class I). Except the risk there isn’t from careless or aggressive drivers.

It’s from a bottom-line obsessed bureaucracy that has little or no incentive to protect your safety, or even your life. Because they have no liability whatsoever for the condition of that bike path.

Trip on a misaligned manhole cover on the sidewalk — as my wife did a few years ago — and the company or government agency responsible for maintaining it is legally responsible. Get into an accident on the street because of a missing traffic sign or a dangerous road condition, and the city, county or state agency responsible can be held liable.

But suffer an injury because of a massive pothole or botched patch job in a bike lane, or a huge crack — or even criminal activity — on an off-road trail, and you’re on your own.

Swerving around the frequent bumps and cracks in the bike path around the Marina, I always assumed that someone would be injured there sooner or later — if they haven’t already. And that the county, which is responsible for most of the Marina del Rey area, would be sued as a result.

But I never knew that such a suit would be summarily dismissed.

It wasn’t until I read the statement from Council District 5 candidate David Vahedi that I had the slightest clue that no city, county or state government, nor any private enterprise, bears any legal responsibility for maintaining safe riding conditions on a Class I or Class II bikeway. (I’m assuming they’re still responsible for conditions on a Class III bike route, since those usually require riding in the traffic lane. But I could be wrong.)

When I asked Vahedi if her had any more information, he was kind enough to pass along the law that removed liability on off-road paths and trails, as well as the California appellate court ruling that greatly expanded it.

It’s clear that the original intent of the law was to encourage property owners to grant access to the public by removing liability for conditions they didn’t intentionally cause, and may not be aware of. For instance, DWP might not be willing to provide a trail leading to one of their reservoirs if they had to worry about being sued any time someone slipped and fell on a wet rock.

The problem came when the courts began to interpret any off-road path, trail or sidewalk — including heavily traveled Class I bikeways, such as the Marvin Broad Bikeway along the beach from Santa Monica to Palos Verdes — as being covered under the law. Or on-road bike lanes for that matter, such as the bike lane through the Sepulveda Pass, as Vehedi notes in his comments.

And even, as in his example from the Venice bike path, if they are fully aware of the problem and have done nothing to correct it.

So if you’ve wondered why things never seem to get fixed along our bikeways, that’s why. Problems get corrected when the agencies responsible face liability. If there’s no risk to them, it usually falls to the bottom of a long list of things they intend to get around to eventually, when and if their budget allows — even if that poses a greater risk for everyone else.

Yet while government and corporate lawyers have been quick to capitalize on their new-found freedom from liability, one section of the law has been universally ignored — the one that says warning signs have to be posted if there are any known health or safety hazards along a paved pathway.

So if authorities know that the lights are out along the L.A. River bikeway, they are required to post signs warning riders about it. If L.A. is aware — and they are — that the Ballona Creek trail runs through known gang territory and that riders have been subject to assaults, they have to provide a warning to anyone who might consider riding there.

And if Los Angeles and Santa Monica refuse to enforce the No Pedestrian signs on the beachfront bike path through their respective cities, they have to warn riders about the presence of pedestrians.

Otherwise, they can — and should — be held liable for any injuries that may result.

C.I.C.L.E. reposts an article tracing the early history of the bicycle. Bike craftsmen exhibit their work at the North American Handmade Bike Show. Once they clear the snow, Yellowstone opens its roads to cyclists and other non-motorized traffic for several weeks of car-free riding, starting in mid-March. A woman and her children are hit head-on by a car while riding on a popular bike path on Hawaii’s North Shore. And finally, Bike Date reposts a list of great bike safety tips from the Onion.

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