Tag Archive for LA Times

Morning headlines: Another day, another three Times bike opinion pieces — and this time, they get it right

Wednesday was a good day for the LA Times editorial department.

First up is a ringing endorsement of the seemingly troubled My Figueroa project, which would create the city’s first complete street if the local councilmember and various bike lane-hating businesses — hello Felix Chevrolet! — would just get out of the way.

Yes, they note, the project may result in some traffic congestion until motorists adjust their routes or adapt to other forms of transportation. But as they put it —

Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council should not let fears of traffic congestion turn this transformative project into another incomplete street.

Meanwhile, another writer for the Times notes that bicyclists are not the only ones who will benefit from the project.

But only if City Hall has the courage to say yes to a project that will benefit everyone. Including the people and businesses currently opposing it.

On a related subject, Times writer Paul Thornton correctly calls the city out for failing to patch the roadway before painting bike lanes.

Like the cracked and badly patched pavement the passes for a bike lane on 7th Street, which too often calls for an ice pack in a very private place by the time I get home. Over in the UK, they sue for that sort of thing.

And Cycling Unbound takes on Tuesday’s Times opinion piece that tacitly endorsed running down cyclists who have the audacity to complain about nearly getting run over.

Funny how bike riders’ instinct for self-preservation so often looks like self-righteousness to uncomprehending motorists.

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A high desert official says if cars can’t pass your bike safely and there’s no place to pull over, you have to get off and walk your bike.

Uh, no.

You are required to pull over and let cars pass if, and only if a) you are on road with only one lane in your direction, b) you are traveling at less than the speed of traffic, and c) there are at least five vehicles stuck behind you and unable to pass. If they can go around you, you aren’t impeding anything.

And there is absolutely nothing in the law that would require you to get off your bike.

However, that’s not to say you can’t be polite and pull over to let cars go by. Anytime I take the lane, I try to move right and wave trailing traffic around me when it’s safe to do so.

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Mentioned this one over the weekend, but it bears repeating, as Sheriff’s investigators prepare to turn the results of their investigation into the death of cyclist and former Napster exec Milt Olin over to the DA’s office for evaluation. Don’t hold your breath for criminal charges, though; I suspect this one would have been brushed under the carpet along time ago if it had just been you or me under that deputy’s car.

The LACBC calls on Metro and LA County to fight for our share of active transportation funds.

Outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky looks at Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable, and notes that bicyclists are no longer the squeaky wheel that gets ignored. Even if there is room for improvement.

Long Beach’s traffic calming dinosaurs go the way of the stegosaurus and non-speeding motorists.

San Diego’s Bicycle Film Festival starts this weekend.

Cyclelicious explains why the Fourth Power Rule means cyclists shouldn’t have to pay for the streets we ride on. Or if we do, SUV drivers should be prepared to write a very large check.

San Francisco okays a project to give unclaimed bikes to the poor, starting with low-income at-risk youths. Now that’s a program I can get behind.

When you’re raging against a driver, remember you’re the one who’ll come off looking like a jerk, no matter how much he or she may deserve it. Which explains why some of the videos I record will never see the light of day.

It’s a mixed bag in court for the fallen king of pro cycling, as Lance loses in Texas and wins in LA. But aside from his financial advisors, does anyone really care anymore?

The Canadian politician who killed cyclist Darcy Allen Sheppard is attempting to make a comeback five years later. Unfortunately, his victim won’t be making a comeback anytime soon. Or ever.

A South African bike commuter races for his life to escape armed robbers chasing him in a car, before finally giving up his bike at gunpoint.

A reminder from Tokyo to ride safely around pedestrians. And not just because it could be you that ends up going to the hospital.

Oh, so that’s the reason women don’t ride in greater numbers: it’s the helmets. Or maybe not.

Finally, a Jupiter FL cyclist gets a $3 million dollar settlement for a dooring — yes, million — and his wife gets over half a million for loss of consortium.

Don’t tell my wife, or she’ll ask me to start riding in the door zone. Something tells me she’d gladly trade consortium for a cool half mil.

The Times winds down their look at biking in the City of Angels, and the day’s best bike links

I love it when someone does my work for me.

Today it’s the LA Times that takes a look at the sometimes contentious relationship between bike riders and drivers, just a day after columnist Steve Lopez took a moving look at the ghost bike phenomenon.

And quoted yours truly in the process.

The Times follows up with twin videos offering a look at biking in LA from both a motorist’s and cyclist’s perspective.

They’re not exactly hard-hitting. But both step away from the angry give-and-take that too often defines the discussion. Even between cyclists.

And maybe they can start a more civil conversation about how to safely make room for everyone on the streets.

Meanwhile, they kick off the conclusion of their RoadshareLA series with a look at the state’s new mandate for complete streets.

Yet oddly, drawing no conclusion in the process.

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Just a few other quick notes.

Huntington Beach police are using Facebook to identify a bike thief; thanks to Geri for the heads-up.

LAist may have misstated the purpose of this website, which does a lot more than just chronicle fallen riders. But they offer a haunting series of ghost bike photos, along with a brief documentary, from ghost bike builder and photographer Danny Gamboa.

A Santa Cruz writer says we can do more to protect cyclists. And we should.

If you see something, say something. The NYPD is urging residents to call 911 if they see a dangerous threat to peace and security in the city — like bicycle pizza delivery people riding on the sidewalk.

Got to be more to this story, as a Texas man is shot to death in a dispute over a bicycle. As much as I love my bike, once the guns come out they can have it.

Does anyone really buy this “Dear Abby” style story of a Toronto cyclist who repeatedly rams into right-hooking drivers — on purpose? In real life, I’d suspect that’s the sort of thing someone might try once, as the bruises and broken bones dissuade a second attempt. Let alone a third.

Good news for Virginia drivers as dooring remains perfectly legal. So get out there and slam a few bike riders in the name of freedom.

As if aggressive and careless drivers weren’t enough, now we have to worry about suicidal rabbits.

If you have more time to kill, take a couple minutes — or maybe a few hours — the check out the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain’s massive list o’ bike links.

I hadn’t ridden past the Santa Monica pier for awhile. So I was surprised to see a new bike corral has sprouted on the sand next to the bike path. Great idea.

Bike-Parking-Still

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As you may have noticed, I’m trying something a little different today.

When I first started linking to news stories about bicycling, there weren’t many stories out there. Sometimes I had to struggle to fill a single paragraph.

These days, the explosion in bicycling has resulted in an equal explosion in news stories. Which is why I end up with those massive lists of links that take nearly a full day just to write, let alone read. And why you now only see them a few times a week.

So I’ve been thinking about offering a daily list of just the best links instead, sort of like you see above. Which would mean you’d get a daily fix of bike news from around the world. Just less of it, more often.

And still have time to actually have a life once you’re done reading.

So what do you think? Would you like to see something like this every day? Or would you prefer to keep doing what we’ve been doing?

Any thoughts?

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Finally, a brief reminder that if you like this site, you can help support my work through a much needed and deeply appreciated personal donation, advertising or sponsorship. This is a more than full-time job, and the only income I receive these days is what comes through this site.

A moving look at local ghost bikes, Pico Blvd cyclist threatened with knife, and your weekend reading list

Ghost bike for Compton victim Pete; photo by Danny Gamboa

Ghost bike photo by Danny Gamboa

I’ve long been a fan of LA Times columnist Steve Lopez.

And not just because he’s been a long standing supporter of safer bicycling, on the mean streets of LA or the seemingly serene Santa Monica bike path.

Today, he offers a moving look at the local ghost bike movement. It’s a must read. And one in which he quotes me extensively, as well as ghost bike builder Anthony Novarro, who lost his own 6-year old bike-riding son, and documentary maker and ghost bike photographer Danny Gamboa.

The comments that follow, not so much.

And while we’re visiting the Times, after writing last year about braving LA traffic as a bike commuter, writer Ben Poston calls it quits after getting right hooked by a pickup; not everyone approves.

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A cyclist says a road raging driver threatened him with a knife for riding on the street on Pico Blvd Friday afternoon.

Hopefully he reported the incident to the police; just brandishing the weapon should be enough for an assault with a deadly weapon charge. It’s bad enough when they threaten us with their cars.

And if he has witnesses to the threat — or other evidence, like an arrest or criminal charge — it could allow him to file suit under the city’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

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The Amgen Tour of California begins May 11th, with three SoCal stages — Santa Clarita to Mountain High on May 16th, Santa Clarita to Pasadena City Hall on May 17th, and a final Thousand Oaks stage on May 18th that offers four ascents of the famed Rock Store Climb.

The full roster of teams is announced. And for the first time, this year’s race also includes two women’s races; hopefully, a full women’s stage race won’t be far behind. Cycling in the South Bay says you can help that happen.

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The case against the sheriff’s deputy who killed entertainment lawyer Milt Olin on Mulholland Highway last December goes to the DA to determine if charges will be filed.

Meanwhile, a bike rider suffered severe injuries when he was hit from behind in South LA Friday night.

And a Santa Ana man who may have been on a bicycle was the victim of what may have been a gang shooting.

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Great article on the non-spandexed women cyclists and riders of color who make up a large but largely unnoticed part of the LA cycling community. Better Bike says Beverly Hills is making little progress on traffic safety, and may have the most dangerous streets for any city of its size in the state. Writing for Orange 20 Bikes, Rick Risemberg looks at last weekend’s successful Bicycle Commuter Festival and Summit. LA County Supervisor candidate Sheila Kuehl calls for bike valets at Expo stops; I like it, but it will take more than that to win my vote. Streetsblog maps out the upcoming 20 miles of new sharrows recently promised by LADOT. Outside looks at LA’s upcoming NELA Bike-Friendly District. If you’re an early riser, you may still have time to ride for dim sum with Flying Pigeon. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune applauds connecting the Rio Hondo river trail to the El Monte bus station. Redondo Beach will get a new bike sculpture over the bike path.

Cyclelicious offers a look at bike-related bills before the state legislature, including a plan to tax new bike sales to fund bike path repairs and appease motorists who mistakenly claim we don’t pay our way. I don’t feel it’s my place to criticize a guest post on here, but I can always count on others to have my back. San Diego’s North Park — my old neighborhood when I lived down that way — could become a better place to ride a bike. On the other hand, a bike lane could spell the death of the Hillcrest entertainment district by removing up to 91 parking spaces; cause, you know, no one would ever ride a bike to go out or anything. A participant in the recent fatality-marred Tour of Palm Springs looks at the event and finds it lacking. The Man in Black’s daughter offers her blessings to the new Johnny Cash Trail in Folsom.  If you see someone riding your stolen bike, try not brandishing a knife to get it back. A San Francisco Good Samaritan ends up behind bars after attempting to help and injured bike rider; thanks to my friends at the new and improved Altadena Point for the heads-up.

The long forgotten protected bikeway boom of 1905. Even Las Vegas is getting bike friendlier. The next step in better bike infrastructure could be protected intersections for cyclists. A cyclist is seriously injured attempting to ride through a tunnel in Zion National Park. My hometown newspaper says it’s time we all got along on the roads; not getting along may create conflict, but it’s seldom the cause of traffic collisions. Once again a bike wins, beating two buses, a pedestrian and a driver in rush hour traffic, this time in Austin TX. Dallas bike rider brawls with police after being stopped for not wearing a helmet. A Chicago rider says the cycling community can — and must — do better when it comes to including women and treating them fairly. A remarkably big-hearted Indiana family forgives the drunk driver who killed a cyclist. New York’s new mayor pushes for a 25 mph speed limit to save lives; I wonder if LA will ever have the courage to slow drivers down to safer levels.

A British Columbia bike rider is ordered to pay over a quarter million dollars for running down a walker on an off-road trail. British driver gets two years for leaving a cyclist for dead after hitting him at 80 mph; thankfully, the rider survived, but lost an arm. A UK van driver gets a lousy six months for laughing while deliberately attempting to run down a group of cyclists; a rider tells the story from the victims’ perspective. A Brit truck driver walks after claiming he couldn’t stop or swerve to avoid killing a cyclist, so he just ran him over. Amsterdam struggles to accommodate an ever increasing number of bike riders. An Aussie anti-bike group says keep to the right because you own a bike, not a Mack truck.

Finally, adding insult to injury, a Seattle man finds his bike stolen on Valentines Day, with a pile of crap left in its place. No, literally.

And a rider on the Santa Monica bike path has seemingly solved the problem of riding with your best friend.

Dog-Bike-2

Thirteen fallen cyclists in the City of Angels, and no one even seems to notice — or care

Ghost bike for Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Ghost bike for Andy Garcia, from MidnightRidazz.com

Thirteen.

That’s the answer to the question the LA Times didn’t ask.

In an opinion piece that went online Thursday as part of the paper’s extensive coverage of bicycling issues in the City of Angels, Times writer Robert Greene notes that London is reeling over the deaths of six bike riders in the last two weeks. And 14 this year.

It’s a devastating total for a city that, like Los Angeles, has made great strides in accommodating cyclists in recent years, and has seen an accompanying jump in ridership.

Or maybe it’s the other way around, as an increasing number of riders have demanded better infrastructure.

Either way, the uproar is entirely justified, as Londoners are shocked by the carnage on their streets, and demand action. Even if some insist on blaming the victims, whether for wearing headphones or other imagined violations that had noting to do with the deaths.

Just one problem.

Los Angeles, with less than half the population of the British capital, has suffered just one less death this year.

Thirteen Angelenos have lost their lives on the city’s streets since the first of the year. All in traffic collisions.

And shockingly, nine of those 13 deaths have been hit-and-runs, as heartless drivers have fled the scene, leaving their victims to bleed out in the street.

Yet unlike London, there is no outrage on the streets of LA.

There are no protests. There are no die-ins. There are no calls in the press for urgent action to keep our two-wheeled citizens safe as they ride, whether for transportation or recreation.

In fact, as far as I can tell, no one in the press has even noticed.

It’s just accepted as the cost of sharing our streets. Maybe there’s brief outpouring of shock and grief in some cases, near total silence in others. But in the long run, as the late Phil Ochs sang, it doesn’t seem to interest anyone outside of a small circle of friends.

And no one in the media or government ever does the math to come up with the horrifying total.

Thirteen.

Some might say it’s only 12, as one victim — Markeis Vonreece Parish — was walking his bike when he was run down by a cowardly killer in a speeding Mercedes who didn’t even slow down after blasting through another human being.

Technically, Parish was a pedestrian when he was hit. But the fact that he was holding his bike as he walked with friends implied he’d ridden it there, and would likely get back on it to return home.

And that makes him one of us.

Then again, I don’t see where 12 victims is any less tragic than 13. Especially when the city saw just five fallen cyclists in each of the last two years.

As if that isn’t five too many.

Even as the press reports on the deaths in London, the loss of lives on our own streets is unnoticed or ignored.

There’s no demand for action from our advocacy groups as the death toll mounts; no mass protests at city hall.

And no reaction at all from city hall. No calls from the mayor to halt the bloodshed, no action from the city council to help keep bike riders alive, no demands, unlike other cities, for an end to traffic deaths, let alone those of more vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians.

In fact, in this bloody year of 2013, with nearly three times the bicycling deaths of recent years — and still six weeks left to go — supposedly bike-friendly councilmembers like Tom LaBonge and Paul Koretz have gone on record as opposing bike lanes on Lankershim and Westwood. And had the mayor’s support in gutting the green lanes on Spring Street.

When we need a hand up, we get a knife in the back.

But what’s a few more dead cyclists in the grand scheme of things, if that means drivers — and Hollywood — can continue to maintain their hegemony on our streets?

Greene’s piece isn’t bad.

He suggests the need for protected bike lanes, though noting that we’re unlikely to get them everywhere they’re needed. And he calls for greater enforcement against law-breaking drivers, even though he can’t resist the false equivalency of headphone-wearing bike riders.

But where is the outrage over the blood that’s being spilled on our own streets, as too many Angelenos lose their lives on the hoods and bumpers of cars? And the angels that watch over this city silently scream at the indifference we show to the deaths of our brothers and sisters.

Thirteen.

It’s just accepted as the cost of transportation, the desperately high price we pay for getting from here to there.

And that may just be the greatest tragedy of all.

Fight for Westwood bike lanes at LA City Council Tuesday; Times writer tells motorists to get a grip

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has issued an action alert calling for bike riders to attend tomorrow’s city council session to protest the cancellation of planned bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard.

Please join us for a day of action tomorrow to urge Councilmember Koretz to keep his promise to study bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. He told us that we would be able to share our thoughts at a public forum, which he then canceled. So, we want to make sure he hears that you support bike lanes on Westwood.

You can show your support in two ways:

1) Join us at City Council at 10 AM tomorrow when we give public comment. You will have two minutes to make your case for bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. Let us know you’re coming: email alek@la-bike.org with your name and address and we’ll fill out a public comment card for you.

Council Chambers (10 AM on Tuesday)
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

2) Can’t make it downtown? Call Koretz’s office and share your thoughts. Dial (310) 289-0353 (field office) or (213) 473-7005 (downtown office). Then, email alek@la-bike.org to let us know how it went.

Sample script:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a (resident of CD5, student at UCLA, etc.) and I’m calling to urge Councilmember Koretz to complete the study of the Westwood Boulevard bike lanes and have a transparent public process, like he promised. Bike lanes on Westwood are important to me because…”

What’s your reason for supporting bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard? Consider these when making comments either at City Council or on the phone:

Safety – A report by Neighborhood Bike Ambassador and Westside South of Santa Monica (WSSM) resident Calla Weimer shows a history of collisions along Westwood in just the six blocks from Santa Monica Blvd to Pico. Westwood Blvd is among the most-traveled streets for bicyclists on the Westside that does not have bike lanes.

Lack of good alternatives – There’s been a lot of talk about alternatives, but when you map them out, they are hillier, indirect, have stop signs nearly every block, or lack ways to cross major boulevards. All of these factors make Westwood Blvd the preferred route for bicyclists.

Bikes are good for business – Study after study shows that bicyclists are a boon for local business. Bicyclists can stop on a whim, park easily, and shop more frequently that those arriving by other means. Routing bike traffic on side streets between major employment and transit hubs is a missed opportunity for small businesses.

Sustainability – Just days after opposing the Westwood bike lanes, Councilmember Koretz attended the launch of the UCLA Grand Challenge, calling for Los Angeles to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Transportation is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles, and research clearly demonstrates that alternatives to driving must be convenient for people to use them.

Access to the Expo Line – The Westwood station on the Expo Line will not have public parking, making it all the more important that it is accessible by bike. Over 90% of Metro customers access transit without a car. Metro is currently analyzing corridors for potential station access improvements and bikeshare opportunities, but Westwood will miss out if the bike lanes do not go through.

I can’t make it, since I’ll be sitting in for Damien Newton as guest editor of LA Streetsblog in the morning.

But I urge you to attend, or call or email CM Kortetz’ office if you can’t. Because a decision that gives a greater value to the convenience of a few homeowners over the safety of cyclists should not be allowed to stand.

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This is the editorial I’ve been waiting for, as a writer for the Times tells motorists who claim cyclists have it coming to get a grip.

Bravo.

So what is it that drives otherwise rational people to fits of apoplexy when the subject of cycling comes up?

Yes, some cyclists break the rules. Dangerously, at times.

But sit by any major street, and it only takes moments to observe an unending stream of stupid driver tricks. And has been pointed out many times before, even the most reckless cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Dangerous drivers kill; dangerous cyclists and pedestrians get killed.

The risk is by no means equivalent.

And only a truly sick SOB would ever take pleasure or find justification in the needless death of another human being.

So get a grip. And get over it already.

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Vancouver Cycle Chic writer Chris Bruntlett interviews me and other LA bikevocates in a photo essay on the state of bicycling in Los Angeles; a nice piece from a nice guy.

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4314920.web.templateCycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson rides to remember a fallen cyclist he didn’t know and writes about it movingly.

Speaking of Seth, word is he has a book coming out this week, with a signing this Thursday at 7 pm at Pages: A Book Store, 904 Manhattan Ave in Manhattan Beach — including wine from Victoria Hill Vineyards and beer from Strand Brewing. That alone would make it worth the trip to the South Bay.

Seth is one of my favorite bike writers, veering from wildly inappropriate to outrageously funny to deeply moving. Sometimes in the same post.

Something tells me his book will be on the can’t miss gift list for a lot of bike riders this year. Including mine.

Maybe a copy will find its way into my stocking.

And yes, that’s a hint. But someone please tell my wife, since she doesn’t read my blog.

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Don’t miss the LACBC Open House on December 5th; and yes, I’ll be there. How to protect your bike from theft while riding Metro; this is what can happen if you don’t. Pardon me boy, is that the Westwood Blvd choo choo tracks? Take a bike train to the LA Gran Prix on Saturday, and watch the first ever Wolfpacktrack Invitational. Better Bike recaps a recent tour of soon-to-be-made-over Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, with possible plans for bike lanes. A bike rider in Santa Monica gets hit by a car, assaults the driver, jumps up and down on the roof, and gets arrested; not that he overreacted or anything. New protected bike lanes in the San Gabriel Valley. Cyclists helping others with the SC Velo and Incycle Thanksgiving food drive. CLR Effect offers incredible photos from the El Dorado Park Cyclocross; hey Michael, ever think about putting a bike calendar together?

Six highlights from the recent California Bike Summit. Orange County riders turn out to remember fallen cyclist Paul Lin. Too bad this one is buried behind the paywall, as the OC Register’s Dan Whiting says it’s worth two seconds to save a cyclist’s life; I may disagree with Dan from time to time, but no one ever said his heart isn’t in the right place. An OC driver is sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing a cheerleader while drunk, thus proving the lives of cheerleaders are more valuable than cyclists; thanks to George Cook for the link. San Diego cyclists complain about trash cans in the bike lane. A memorial ride was held Saturday for popular San Diego cyclist Udo Heinz, who was killed by a bus on Camp Pendleton last August. Santa Barbara paramedics pitch in to buy a special needs man a new bike less than an hour after his was stolen. Some Santa Cruz cyclists protest the groundbreaking for a new bike path. A 72-year old cyclist suffers major injuries in a Cayucos collision. More evidence that police officers don’t always understand the laws they enforce. Two teens injured in Stockton bike-by shooting; thanks to Cyclelicious for the heads-up. San Francisco police are accused of beating a bike rider for riding on the sidewalk, then beating people who tried to come to his aid; turns out he was only packing a cupcake.

Lactic acid is your friend; no, really, that’s what they say. Floyd Landis goes to war against Lance Armstrong; speaking of Lance, he says former UCI president Verbruggen was in on the cover-up. Well, duh. A ghost bike goes up in my hometown. A Wisconsin bike evangelist wants you to get ‘bent. The NYPD cracks down on bicyclists for riding on a bike path. Riding with Wall Street MAMILS on $20,000 bikes.

In a virtual repeat of the Santa Barbara story, a stranger buys a new bike for an autistic Canadian boy after his is stolen. Is London Mayor Boris pushing too fast to make the city bike friendly, or not fast enough? Following a rash of bicycling deaths in London, police wisely choose to crack down on the victims, rather than the big ass trucks that are killing them. London gang members are barred from riding bikes to prevent them from committing crimes or fleeing police; yeah, they couldn’t possibly just take the Tube or run away or anything. Eight reasons to be grateful to cyclists. A UK driver didn’t see the young bike rider he killed because he was safely checking his rearview mirror; oh, well okay, then. UK police confiscate a $273,000 McLaren supercar after the uninsured driver hits a cyclist; seriously, you drive a quarter-of-a-million dollar car and can’t carry a little insurance? An 18-year old Irish rider pleads guilty to the new charge of drunk cycling; just one of an average five Irish cyclists who appear in court each week. A Spanish cyclist is fined the equivalent of $135 for eating a croissant while riding. Bicycling should be encouraged in India so youths learn to maintain balance in their lives. Can someone please explain what a Kiwi bike rider who was seriously injured after riding into a parked car five years ago has to do with a call to wear hi-viz to improve visibility?

Finally, a cyclist does the right thing by giving up bicycling to take up driving; no really, you should read this one. Unlike the Chinese driver who did the wrong thing, promising to take the cyclist he hit to the hospital before dumping him on the side of the road.

And if this wasn’t enough to satisfy your bike link lust, the world’s biggest and best bike link compendium is just a click away.

BikinginLA takes on the Times Opinion page, and arraignment delayed for killer OC DUI driver

If you’re wondering why there was no post yesterday, here’s one reason.

The LA Times Opinion page continues their excellent series on Sharing the Road in LA with an insightful rebuttal written by the author of BikinginLA to an earlier editorial saying cyclists don’t belong on Wilshire Blvd on the Westside.

Wait, that’s me.

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Yesterday’s planned arraignment of Hasti Fakhrai-Bayrooti, the 39-year old lawyer charged with killing OC bike rider Eric Billings while on a cocktail of prescription drugs, has been postponed until December 6th.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti denies she was impaired when she killed the popular father and Mormon elder, despite suggesting that she had no idea what was happening and no control over her car as it drifted into the bike lane.

Yeah, that’s credible.

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The Los Angeles Wheelmen are forced to cancel their annual Five County Century after the Forest Service demands a permit to use public roads and rest stops on federal land — even though it had gone on permit-free since 1984.

Despite working out other alternatives, the last straw was the USFS refusal to allow sag wagons to stop on federal roads to aid riders in distress.

Seriously.

Something tells me they’d let a tow truck stop to aid a disabled motorist.

And they’d probably permit an ambulance to rescue riders after they’re forced to keep going despite being at the end of their capabilities because they didn’t have a damn sag wagon to pick them up.

I don’t know if this had anything to do with the recent government shutdown. Or just someone with the forest service who has to visit a proctologist to get a root canal because his head is jammed way too far up his own ass.

Thanks to Vic for the heads-up.

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Aviator light

Aviator light

Please forgive the last minute notice.

I’ve mentioned this project before, but it’s worth noting again. You’ve got just a few hours left to back this Kickstarter project for the virtually theft proof and indestructible new Aviator and Afterburner bike lights from Fortified Bicycle Alliance.

I get a lot of pitches to promote various products, most of which go directly into the trash bin. But this one I really like, with tough, ultra-bright LED bike lights smartly designed by a team of former MIT students.

Afterburner light

Afterburner light

Back the project today at a level of $45 or more, and you’ll get one or more of the lights at a discount on the retail price. The Kickstarter is already funded, so you’re guaranteed to get your light(s), with a projected delivery date of next April.

And no, they haven’t promised me anything in exchange for promoting their products.

Dammit.

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The hidden bike path along the southbound 405 east of the VA campus that hardly anyone knows about will be closed from now through November. I only learned it existed a couple years ago when a previous shutdown was announced.

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In upcoming events, the exhibition Ghost Bikes of LA opens at red5yellow7 this Friday, 4257 Melrose Ave. And Trust South L.A. and Community Health Councils are sponsoring a bike ride from Central Ave to Leimert Park this Sunday to promote peace in South LA

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The New York Times looks at the state of bicycling, with reports from the father of vehicular cycling, the founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works, a senior research associate with the University of North Carolina Highway Safe Research Center, a researcher with the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, and the mayor of technical and environmental administration for Copenhagen.

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LADOT General Manager Jaime De La Vega highlights the department’s recent accomplishments, including 101 miles of new bike lanes. Maybe it’s a sign of the end times, as the auto-centric San Fernando Valley becomes pedestrian and yes, bike friendly, auto-centric Warner Center wants to get people out of their cars and Northridge could actually become pedestrian-friendly like Westwood — but hopefully without the vacant storefronts. KCET says the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge complex needs to be about more than just cars; evidently, the city is starting to get the message, as they’ve called a new public hearing next Monday. Popular LA cyclist Will Campbell founds the Happy Foot Bicycle Club, which departs each Wednesday before I even get out of bed. Video from last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle HP Gran Prix. The annual Spooky Cross cyclocross race takes place this weekend in Pomona. The CHP will establish a bike and pedestrian safety enforcement project throughout Southern California next year.

Charlie Gandy and Steven Wallauch talk about the upcoming Calbike bike summit on KPCC’s AirTalk program. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske talks with cdmCyclist. A great San Diego program provides refurbished bikes to refugees living in the city. A San Diego triathlete refuses to be pretty in pink. Riverside approves a controversial road diet and bike lanes on Brockton Ave. This is one reason why some cyclists run stop signs, as confusion over who goes first leads to an injury collision. Santa Barbara hosts their first ciclovía on November 2nd. A Menlo Park writer doesn’t like the city’s proposed LA-style cyclist anti-harassment ordinance. A Mountain View writer says the city’s El Camino Real needs cyclists to survive. A Fresno father credits Obamacare for helping save his critically injured bike riding son without bankrupting the family. San Francisco police are targeting cyclists rolling through stop signs; I hope they’re also ticketing drivers who do the same thing. The San Francisco bus that ran over and killed an elderly cyclist was missing a rear wheel guard designed to prevent exactly that. Trying to track down East Bay bike thieves leads to the arrest of a woman for stealing a $1000 pair of jeans.

Distracted driving is killing more bicyclists and pedestrians in the US. Here’s a GOOD pre-ride checklist. Hammerhead wants to be Waze for bikes. The false dichotomy of civil vs militant cyclists. Seattle drivers are confused by new two-way bike lanes. A Colorado driver is found guilty of hit-and-run, but not guilty of vehicular homicide in the death of a cyclist. The per capita bike collision rate rises to record levels in my bike-friendly hometown; drivers are found at fault in 57% of cases. A call to make Montana roads safe for everyone. Wisconsin considers a law making it a felony to kill or injure vulnerable road users. Last year’s vaporware Copenhagen Wheel becomes a reality, easily turning your bike into an e-bike, which is exactly why I don’t want one. The New York Times says cycling is probably pretty safe, or maybe not, sort of. Gotham cyclists, including the famed Bike Snob, are up in arms over an OpEd piece in the NY Times that says blue Citi Bikes are besmirching the city, even though they seem to be popular with rich white people. New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says it’s been a wonderful six years; imagine what she could do here in the next 12. Evidently, in New York, bike lanes just happen. DC cyclists will get a jump on red lights — legally — while drivers will be held more responsible for hitting cyclists. An Atlanta cyclist is run down by a 15-year old in a golf cart.

Canadian police seize a truck used to intentionally run down and kill a bike rider. After an Alberta driver hits a cyclist head-on, she yells at him to get his bike out from under her car — then drives off with it still trapped underneath. Michael Bublé and wife bike baby-free in Vancouver. The Guardian asks if companies like Strava have a responsibility to discourage reckless behavior. A day in the life of a female London bike messenger. A long list of bike books for kids. Four — yes, four — people face manslaughter charges in the apparent hit-and-run death of a Welsh cyclist; can’t wait to see the explanation for that one. The 2014 Tour de France starts in England and returns to the cobbles; meanwhile, the only remaining American Tour de France winner calls Lance Armstrong the greatest fraud and says he belongs in jail. Cyclists and pedestrians make up over half of all traffic fatalities in India. While bikes appear to be booming everywhere else, bike use is dropping Down Under; maybe it’s due to the mandatory helmet law.

Finally, you can wear your new Bianchi around your wrist, without the inconvenience of wrecking it first. If the bike path you’re riding on glows in the dark, do you still need a bike light? And seriously, when you’re carrying cocaine, crack, meth, concealed knives and $1000 Canadian, stop for the damn stop light, already.

The Times on Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, Newton on LADOT insurrection, and lots of weekend rides

Just a few quick notes to kick off what promises to be a perfect weekend to ride a bike.

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The LA Times interviews Streetsblog’s Damien Newton, who adroitly points out that everyone breaks the law on our streets — cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.

“Pretty much anyone who uses the road breaks the law on a regular basis. But people excuse their own breaking of the law,” he says…

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

As for weirdos, the paper notes Damien isn’t.

I could have told ‘em that.

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Speaking of Damien, he offers an insightful look at yesterday’s insurrection by LADOT employees.

In case you missed it, a contingent of LADOT employees — estimated at anywhere from 50 to 200 — stormed Wednesday’s city council session to demand the ouster of their boss, Transportation General Manager Jaime De La Vega, saying the rank and file had lost confidence in their leader.

Just one problem.

De La Vega had been brought in by previous Mayor Villaraigosa to shake things up in a department that had previously been dedicated to automotive throughput at the expense of livability. And survivability.

Whether these employees have a legitimate complaint, or are simply demanding a return to the bad old days when they could ignore the needs of anyone not wrapped in a ton or two of glass and steel is anyone’s guess.

And certainly not mine.

Newton examines it in great detail, in a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our streets.

But consider this.

Many of those complaining are long-time LADOT employees, who were with the department during the bad old days.

And the bike plan they point to as a sign that the department has changed is one that was demanded by bike riders, after they rejected the watered-down plan LADOT presented that no one loved. Except perhaps bike hating motorists and the DOT engineers who bent over backwards to accommodate them while tossing cyclists a bone.

Meanwhile, most of the improvements we’ve seen on the streets have come in the last few years, during De La Vega’s tenure.

That’s not to say there aren’t major problems at LADOT.

Just that Mayor Garcetti and the city council should look long and hard before deciding just what the real problem is.

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I confess.

I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up my Events page, as my focus has been elsewhere while I work on a reboot of this site in the coming weeks.

But a couple of upcoming rides demand attention.

First up, Active Streets LA returns to South LA on Saturday with a free mini-CicLAvia of sorts, featuring a bike ride and walk, free family activities, refreshments and a raffle.

The LACBC and Wolfpack Hustle host the first ever Huntington Park Grand Prix single speed bike drag race on Saturday.

For those looking for a reasonably challenging ride, the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles are teaming up with the LACBC to host a ride on Mulholland this Sunday.

CICLE hosts the perfectly alliterative Pomona Pumpkin Patch Pedal this Sunday, offering a much more sedate alternative to riding Mulholland.

And next Sunday, October 27th, you’ve got another chance to Ride Lankershim in support of a proposed bike lane on North Hollywood’s main street. Even though the bike lane is included in the 2010 bike plan approved by city council, it’s been opposed by bike-friendly-in-name-only Councilmember Tom LaBonge up to this point. So it’s up to us to show just how needed, wanted, convenient, traffic calming and life-saving this lane could be.

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One other quick note. The LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee usually meets on the last Tuesday of every month to talk bike politics. However, due to a scheduling conflict, this month’s meeting has been moved to Wednesday, October 30th at 6:45 pm. The meeting will take place on the mezzanine level of LACBC Headquarters, 634 S. Spring Street Downtown, and is open to everyone; you don’t have to be a member to participate.

………

Finally, maybe you’ll have better luck loading this page than I’ve had, but you’ve got to respect a $36 million football player who prefers to bike and bus to work. Although I suspect his route is just a tad easier than this one.

And you know there’s something going on when even the Biking Black Grey Hole of Beverly Hills is talking bike share.

Don’t even think about bugging after 5:30 tonight until the Dodgers secure their place in Saturday’s game seven against the Cardinals.

And if they don’t, just don’t bug me, period.

Seriously.

LA Times confesses to being pro bike, possible Caltrans chip seal solution, and news of the Worlds

The LA Times launches their examination of biking in the City of Angels in the Opinion pages with a trio of editorials.

The main one manages to raise a lot of questions, both from a bike rider’s perspective and from those who love to hate us, while confessing to a pro-bike bias. Hopefully, they’ll answer at least some of those questions as the series moves forward.

Meanwhile, a cyclist questions just what the rules of the road are, as training for bike riders remains virtually non-existent.

No, seriously.

I got an email recently from a rider who was surprised to learn that cyclists have to stop at stop signs, even when there’s no one else around. Except for the cop who wrote him up for it, that is.

Because no one ever told him he had to.

Clearly, we have a long way to go in educating cyclists when something that seems so obvious isn’t. Although this is a good place to start.

And a foot commuter says it’s not just about bikes versus cars, but rather, a broader discussion about public space and decision making.

Clearly, they get it. Although there’s no guarantee that they’ll get everything right, or that we will agree with everything they have to say.

But one day and three opinion pieces in, the series already feels far more honest than the Los Angeles News Groups’ much — and deservedly — maligned bike-baiting Summer of Cycling Series.

Besides, one of the writers had the infinite good taste to link back to me.

So seriously, how bad could it be?

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Caltrans develops a possible solution to the disastrous chip sealing of the coast highway north of Cambria. Now maybe they can try the same approach on Angeles Crest Highway and Mt. Baldy, where the same anti-bike road treatment was applied, to exactly the same reception.

Thanks to Stephen Villavaso for the link.

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After the big names bail due to heavy rain, Rui Costa edges Rodriguez to win the Worlds. While he didn’t win, at least it was educational for Peter Sagan, while Russian learned the hard way to lock their bikes better.

And as usual, Marianne Vos is unbeatable on the women’s side, though American Evelyn Stevens gave it her best shot.

Meanwhile, bike racing’s new head honcho promises a new era — with the help of a certain disgraced cyclist.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton calls the new plans for a high-speed Hyperion-Glendale bridge project a looming disaster; as far as I’m concerned, a 1970’s style 55 mph mini-highway in the heart of the city is dead in the water. A new gateway greets visitors to the LA River Bike Path. New buffered bike lanes besmirch Colorado Blvd in Northeast LA. The Eastside access project continues to move forward. The ArtNight Pasadena Bike Ride rolls on Friday, October 11th. CICLE leads a ride to the CalPoly Pumpkin Patch on Sunday, October 20th; whether the patch is sincere enough remains to be seen.

Good news for CA cyclists, as bikes get a 30% boost in the state budget. A Riverside hit-and-run leaves a cyclist in critical condition; 32-year old Alvin Lennon Johnson of Riverside was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run. UC Riverside wants to curb reckless bike riders. Bike count volunteers are needed in Newport Beach. A San Diego writer says he intends to keep crossing the centerline to pass bike riders regardless of what our esteemed governor thinks; may I be the first to say thank you. Fresno is tearing out one of the nation’s first pedestrian malls. A new Kickstarter project promises to block wind noise from your helmet straps. A Chico letter writer says bike riders have to obey the same laws drivers and pedestrians don’t obey. A San Francisco cyclist pedals across the Bay; no, not on a bridge.

Now there’s a Blue Book to set prices for used bikes. A potential partner who doesn’t ride a bike doesn’t have to be an impediment to love. How to avoid being the victim of a right hook. Security video captures a Michigan bike rider repeatedly robbed after being knocked unconscious. For once, police are taking the deaths of bike riders seriously, as a third arrest has been made in the DUI death of two New Hampshire cyclists. A thug bashes a Boston bike rider while pretending to be a cop and runs off with her bike. The Department of DIY opens an NYC bureau. Bike Snob is bummed out because yet another child has been killed in New York and the police don’t care. The Wall Street Journal says bike share is blossoming in Gotham, despite the rantings of the paper’s Wicked Witch. A Delaware driver loses control and kills a passenger in his car, so naturally, it’s the bike rider’s fault. North Carolina names a trailhead after the Bicycle Man, who gave refurbished bikes to kids every Christmas.

A Toronto cyclist is chastised by the city’s police chief after she taps his SUV when it repeatedly drifts into the bike lane, nearly hitting her. Bookmark this one, as the London Times explains why non-bike riders should support increased spending for bicycling. Remarkably, two Brit bike riders survive a 70 mph crash with just relatively minor injuries. Police apologize after a law breaking British cop stops a bike-cam wearing rider who didn’t; break the law, that is. Nothing is more exhausting, and few things more enjoyable, than biking with kids. Scot cycling legend Graeme Obree retires after failing to set the land speed record he was after. Alpha Romeo is the latest high-end automaker to roll out a high-end concept bike; no offense, but I’m not impressed with overpriced vanity projects. Bikes are making a comeback in Nigeria. Champion Australian cyclist Alex Simmons gets a $1 million settlement after losing a leg when caretakers neglected to open a gate on a cycling route. Aussie cyclist credits $30 helmet with saving her life. Brit expat works to make Hong Kong a better place to ride a bike.

Finally, a Saudi cleric says driving a car could cause irreversible damage to women’s ovaries; just another reason to ride a bike. Except women aren’t allowed to do that there, either, except in parks and accompanied by a male relative.

More on the 2nd-car death of Andy Garcia, no more green bike lane, and LA gets tougher on hit-and-run

Streetsblog attempts to clear up the confusing details over the hit-and-run collision that resulted in the death of Luis “Andy” Garcia.

Garcia was killed after 21-year old Wendy Villegas hit a group of five riders and fled the scene, leaving her victims lying in the street, where he was hit by a second vehicle.

Streetsblog writer Sahra Sulaiman talks with some of the other riders involved.

What they have to say contradicts some of the details in the official press release from the LAPD — including the fact that Mario Lopez, one of the riders hit in the initial collision, suffered a broken back, rather than the minor injuries the police report.

And paints a picture of a needlessly horrifying night that took the life of a young bike rider, shattered two families, and forever scarred the four surviving riders, as well as the three men who prayed over Garcia after their van took his life.

All because a young woman got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive, and fled like a coward after colliding with her victims.

Then again, there’s no such thing as being just a little drunk when you’re driving.

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Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Photo of no-longer green Spring Street bike lane shamelessly stolen from Niall Huffman

Also courtesy of Streetsblog, which has been very busy on the bike front this week, comes official confirmation that you can kiss your green Spring Street bike lanes goodbye.

The highly popular bike lanes barely survived an attempt by Hollywood filmmakers to have them removed entirely; regretfully, self-described bike supporter Council Member Tom LaBonge bought into the industry’s easily disprovable lies — as did our new bike-friendly Mayor Eric Garcetti.

If it wasn’t for the efforts of Council Member Jose Huizar and a few others, the bike lanes would have been removed entirely, rather than just stripped of their green paint.

Now they await a newly approved treatment that costs significantly less, but may not be as effective in capturing the attention of motorists.

We should all hold Hollywood — and our elected readers — accountable for any drop in ridership on the street.

Or increase in injuries.

……..

The LA City Council instructs the LAPD to take a tougher stance on tracking hit-and-runs. And will work at the state level to revoke the licenses of fleeing drivers, and forfeit their vehicles.

Which is exactly what I’ve long been calling for.

So whether someone has read my blog, or just came up with the idea on their own, thank you. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who gets the credit as long as long-needed changes are made.

Now let’s get it done. And put a stop to this deadly epidemic.

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The LA Times says the ball is in Governor Brown’s court when it comes to signing the three-foot passing law, noting that this is the fifth attempt at passing it in California. The first two never made it out of committee, while our esteemed governor vetoed the last pair.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog notes the Times promises more coverage of bicycling issues on their Opinion page. With all the bike-riding reporters and editors who work at the paper, the only question is what took so long.

Speaking of which, Streetsblog and the new Santa Monica Next are holding a fundraiser this Sunday.

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lb_market_valetKelly Heller sends word that the Long Beach Southwest Farmers Market will begin offering a bike valet this Sunday:

Since it doesn’t begin till next weekend, I cannot tell you anything about how the valet staff is or what the bike accommodations look like.

However, I certainly *can* attest to the fact that this farmer’s market has a significant car-traffic problem.  They are paying for at least three traffic guards, and the whole time we were locking up our bikes and readying our shopping bags we observed the frustration of both the drivers and the traffic guards as they yelled at each other and everyone struggled to find any remaining needle-in-a-haystack open parking spots.

It’s nice to see that someone did the math and figured out that putting up a free bike valet might be the ideal solution.

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There may be hope for the LA River yet, beyond the current unfinished bike path next to a graffiti-clad concrete river bed. The city breaks ground on a new park next to the river in Sherman Oaks that will include a short bike path. The city council approves a new $6 million bike, pedestrian and equestrian bridge over the LA River in North Atwater Village. Larchmont Village loses thirty — yes, 30 — bike racks in order to satisfy drivers who prefer parking meters. Residents want to tame traffic on Ave 64.

There will be a blood drive in honor of fallen OC cyclist Kurt Kirkey in Aliso Viejo on Wednesday, October 2nd. Bike Newport Beach looks at the different mindset for riding in Paris. A Bakersfield driver was using a legal hands-free device when she struck and killed a cyclist riding in a bike lane Tuesday night, in what has been a horrible year for Kern County cyclists and pedestrians; police say the driver was at fault. Sharrows or Supersharrows? When a cyclist is nearly decapitated by fishing line strung over a bike trail, it’s not a prank, it’s a terrorist attack.

Industry trade group Bikes Belong folds itself into its own People for Bikes subsidiary. Elly Blue offers five tips for the bike industry to increase ridership among women. Lovely Bicycle asks if it’s possible to have too short a ride. The Houston Chronicle asks how relatively ancient Chris Horner won the Vuelta. A Houston rider has his bike stolen when he’s mugged on a popular bike trail. Evidently, there’s a requirement in Montana that says drivers have to pass bike riders even when it’s not safe to do so. A Milwaukee man is shot and killed after spotting a man riding a child’s stolen bike. Apparently, more bikes really do mean safer streets, even if New York’s Daily News has trouble believing it. Evidently, you can do tricks on a bike share bike. Male riders outnumber women in Philly, like just about everywhere else. A Maryland rider explains what it’s like to be a cyclist on the state’s roads. DC could remove restrictions preventing bike shops from selling used bikes. A 77-year old Arlington VA driver threatens the cyclist he right hooked with a baseball bat; the driver claimed the rider should have signaled for the left turn he wasn’t making.

A Winnipeg law would absurdly force groups of 10 or more bike riders to get a parade permit. Beat the crap out of a UK bike rider in a road rage incident, and walk away with a fine. A three-year old Brit girl is banned from riding her bike because she might damage resident’s cars. Is Europe’s bad economy causing the boom in bicycling? After overseeing the worst doping era in bike racing history, Pat McQuaid says he’s the only one who can clean it up; I’d say let’s give him the same ban Lance got. The mother of racing great Marco Pantani thinks her son was poisoned after breaking pro cycling’s doping omerta. A Sydney paper continues its highly biased anti-bike reporting, including blaming bike lanes for a loss of handicap parking and cyclists for running red lights; apparently, objectivity and grammatically correct headlines aren’t attributes expected of the local press. Meanwhile, the Guardian says the anti-bike hysteria in the Sydney press has got to stop, and local cyclists fight back on Twitter.

Finally, this is one way to ride with a dog. And if you’re planning to burgle a flat screen TV, maybe a bike isn’t your best choice for a getaway vehicle.

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