Tag Archive for LA Times

Morning Links: The Times looks at the need for real bike data; and a crowded weekend calendar of bike events

The LA Times continues their recent look at bicycling issues with a great article pointing out the need for real data to support the growth in bicycling and bike infrastructure.

And they support it with an interactive map showing the growth in bikeways on an annual basis since 2005; I notice almost all growth occurred after I started this site in 2008.

You can thank me later.

No, seriously, I’m kidding.

But the simple fact is, LA has long fallen down in tracking who rides, where they ride and what happens when they do.

And the result is that council members like Gil Cedillo, Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge can halt vital bike projects because there’s no data to prove them wrong.

The LACBC has tried to step in to provide stats on bicycling in the city and on select streets. But it should be the city’s responsibility, and only the city has the resources to capture vital data throughout the city.

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Lots of great bike events are coming up in the next few days.

Bike SGV invites you to the Grand Opening of their new headquarters this Friday, complete with complementary bike valet.

The annual Midnight Ridazz All City Toy Ride rolls Friday night.

You’re invited to ride and shop in Northeast LA this Saturday. Or enjoy a community bike ride in Cypress Park the same day.

There will be a Kiddie Bike Rally this Sunday at Sycamore Grove Park on North Figueroa; ignore the typo about the date in the headline.

Also on Sunday, there will be a swap meet and racing at the Encino Velodrome, not far from the site of the Santa Cross cyclocross race at Pierce College. Update: Michael from the excellent Centerline Rule website noticed what I didn’t — that event at the Velodrome was last Sunday.

Sunday night will see a tour of ghost bikes and a bike light vigil in Downtown LA.

And mark your calendar for the Love Your Hood Ride in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, sponsored by Bikesanas del Valle, CICLE, Pacoima Beautiful and Metro.

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Local

A Santa Monica columnist says bike lanes are to blame for the city’s traffic congestion; silly me, I thought it was all those cars. And never mind that SaMo traffic sucked long before the city even thought about welcoming bikes in an attempt to provide an alternative to, if not reduce, that congestion.

 

State

KPBS says Caltrans is finally entering the 21st Century and discovering that more Californians are biking and walking more, and driving less.

Keep your eyes open, as a number of vintage bikes were stolen from a home in Santa Ana. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

Newport Beach police ticket 21 drivers and four bike riders in their new traffic safety crackdown.

A new state legislator from the Bay Area says California cyclists should throw away our red rear lights and reflectors, and use a flashing white rear light instead. Evidently, so drivers would have no idea whether we’re coming or going.

A Marin County columnist insists that bike advocacy in the area has been set back by a) a road raging cyclist and b) a speeding bike rider who crashed into two kids on a bike path. If the same standard were applied to motorists, no one would ever be allowed to drive again.

 

National

This is how doorings turn deadly, as a rider in my hometown is hit by a car when he swerved to avoid an open car door.

Virginia’s Department of Transportation tracks down the owner of a hand cycle that had somehow come loose on a freeway interchange.

Huh? A Louisiana parish lowers the speed limit on a 17-mile recreational trail because an 83-year old woman was killed by a bike rider four years earlier and over 2,000 mile away.

 

International

A Canadian province moves to require helmets for all bike riders after April 1st. And no, it’s not an April Fools joke.

A British Kickstarter takes an enlightened approach to visibility with bike apparel and backpacks that light up after dark.

Rome’s mayor insists he’s going to keep riding his bike despite mafia threats.

Competitive cycling’s governing body promises much needed sweeping reforms, but so far it’s the moral equivalent of vaporware. However, they do raise the prospect of mixed gender competition in the Olympic Games.

A Philippine priest defies his doctors to ride across the country to raise awareness of climate change.

 

Finally…

Forget titanium, what you really need to impress the gang on the weekly beer ride is a racing bike layered in 24 karat gold.

And a new Aussie study says kids are seven times more likely to need brain surgery if they suffer a head injury while not wearing a helmet — especially they’re in a motor vehicle. So where’s the call for mandatory car helmets for kids?

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Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and Vanessa Gray for their generous donations to help support this site.

Weekend Links: LAPD officers accused of beating South LA bike rider, SDSU police blame the victims in bike wrecks

An LAPD officer is accused of beating and kicking a bike rider in South LA.

According to the LA Times, 22-year old Clinton Alford was riding on the sidewalk on Avalon Blvd near 55th Street — something that’s perfectly legal in Los Angeles — on October 16th when a police car pulled up behind him and he was ordered to stop.

However, Alford kept riding, since he says the person failed to identify himself as a cop. After a brief pursuit, he voluntarily laid down on the street and put his hands behind his back, making no attempt to resist as officers restrained him.

That is, until another very large officer arrived on the scene. And immediately stomped Alford as the other officers held him down.

The officer then dropped to the ground and delivered a series of strikes with his elbows to the back of Alford’s head and upper body, sources said. Alford’s head can be seen on the video hitting the pavement from the force of the strikes, two sources recounted. Afterward, the officer leaned his knee into the small of Alford’s back and, for a prolonged period, rocked or bounced with his body weight on Alford’s back, the sources said. At one point, the officer put his other knee on Alford’s neck, a source said.

It gets worse.

The paper describes the officer kicking Alford’s head like a football, before several officers carried his limp body into a patrol car.

Alford was booked for drug possession and resisting arrest, and released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty — likely to be tossed for a lack of probable cause in making the initial stop.

Meanwhile, the officers involved have been relieved of duty — with pay — pending an internal investigation.

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Oh please.

The campus police at San Diego State University say bike collisions are up in the area surrounding campus — and that it’s usually the cyclist’s fault. Oh, and those scofflaw cyclists cause psychological trauma to the poor drivers by getting blood on their bumpers.

No victim blaming there.

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Local

The LAFD is now the first fire department in the nation to post response times online; and yes, this matters, since your life could depend on how fast help arrives if you’re injured in a fall or collision.

LADOT is testing traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start before cars are allowed to cross the street; hopefully, they’ll try giving bikes the same four-second safety margin.

Calla Weimer — who made a detailed argument here for bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, which Councilmember Paul Koretz blithely ignored to placate wealthy homeowners — calls for more bike lanes and bike racks instead of increased parking at Metro stations (second letter).

Figueroa For All says Koretz’ fellow councilmember Gil Cedillo is putting politics over people by diverting two hundred grand from housing funds to pay for a new traffic signal at a dangerous intersection — when the same amount could pay for the entire already-funded road diet he killed for the same street.

Santa Monica will host a Halloween-themes Kidical Mass ride today, while the Santa Monica Spoke hosts next Sunday’s edition of the LACBC’s Sunday Funday ride.

Wounded vets will ride in Redondo Beach on Sunday, November 9th, the weekend before Veteran’s Day.

A local couple create what the Long Beach Post calls the ultimate guide to urban cycling.

 

State

Ford works with California-based Pedego to market an e-bike beach cruiser under their own moniker.

Calbike’s coming 241-mile bike tour will avoid parts of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach due to the dangerous conditions on the cities’ streets.

San Diego considers a one-mile bike path through congested Mission Valley.

The San Luis Obispo sheriff’s department is asking for donations of unwanted children’s bikes to be repaired and given to kids this Christmas.

San Francisco thinks cargo bikes have a role to play in improving disaster response.

 

National

USA Cycling has three job openings at their Colorado Springs CO headquarters.

VeloNews talks to a recovering Taylor Phinney.

Seattle’s mandatory helmet law could hinder the city’s new bike share program.

In another case of cops gone wild, Idaho police detain five BMX riders for the crime of being in a skate park 12 minutes after closing time — then illegally tell them they don’t have any legal rights when one tries to record the confrontation.

A road raging Kansas driver intentionally veers into a cyclist, knocking him into a ditch, then turns around and rams him again before fleeing the scene. All in front of a sheriff’s deputy and two witnesses who saw the whole thing.

A Minneapolis cyclist says a new protected bike lane could make things more dangerous for bike riders, and says there’s little research on the subject — ignoring studies that show protected bike lanes reduce injuries up to 90%.

 

International

An 85-year old Vancouver man regains his mobility with an e-bike.

A UK cyclist is threatened with a knife after a man demands to “borrow” his bike, then refuses to give it back.

A road raging Brit driver is convicted of intentionally running into a cyclist.

Three men are convicted for stealing over 500 bikes from British railway stations.

Graeme Obree and son plan to go after the pedal-powered land speed record once again next year.

A Vienna, Austria industrial design student has invented a self-filling bike water bottle that literally sucks moisture from the air.

 

Finally…

Lance can’t even ride in a non-competitive Gran Fondo run by his fellow ex-doper friend. A London website takes the city’s bike bashing Baroness to task for her vigilante violence. And over 91% of UK residents insist that cyclists aren’t a menace on the roads.

 

Morning Links: Possible Olin cover-up, USC students launch Nutlock, and the other cyclist from my hometown

The LA Times updates the lack of action in the Milt Olin case, killed by an LA County Sheriff’s Deputy while riding on Mulholland Highway last December.

The story offers one bit of new information, reporting that an initial examination of the driver’s cell phone showed no activity at the time of the crash, while phone records later showed he had texted six times in the minutes leading up to it.

Which suggests that the texts may have been erased from the phone in an attempt to cover it up — or that someone may have ignored evidence on the phone pointing to his guilt.

Meanwhile, Salon is the first national news source to pick up the story, noting that texting while driving is illegal in California. But they fail to note the exemption for on-duty emergency workers, which could explain why the DA’s office can’t seem to find anything to charge him with.

This one was forwarded from multiple sources, so thanks to everyone who sent it for the heads-up; thanks to Hwy 39 for the Salon link.

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USC students unveil an innovative new wheel lock to help prevent wheel theft and eliminate the need to lock them in addition to the frame. Security is enhanced by plans to create multiple key designs to prevent thieves from simply buying a set to unlock the wheels.

After just two days, their Kickstarter campaign has already raised over $10,000 towards the $15,000 goal. A pledge of just $25 dollars will get you a pair of Nutlocks of your very own.

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The other famous cyclist from my hometown, Teejay van Garderen, will defend his USA Pro Challenge title later this month. Former next big thing pro cyclist Joe Dombrowski has vascular surgery to try and get his leg strength back.

And Peter Sagan may not be headed to Tinkoff-Saxo after all. Update: Yes, he is.

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Local

The LACBC invites you to attend Hot August Bikes at Hollywood’s Amoeba Records on Sunday, the 17th.

London Bridge may not be falling down, but the Riverside Figueroa Bridge is. Or being dismantled, anyway.

No irony here, as Beverly Hills promotes heart health while fighting bike lanes and discouraging bike riding in the city.

Santa Monica gets $4.4 million to improves streets and implement their Bike Action Plan.

Proposed Glendale Green Streets could include bike lanes. And a smart OpEd in the Glendale News-Press patiently explains why motorists are a bigger danger than cyclists.

 

State

Measuring traffic flow by automotive throughput — aka Level of Service — is now officially a thing of the past in California.

BikeSD makes a public call for the resignation of the chair of the city’s Uptown Planners group.

A 73-year old San Diego cyclist suffers major head trauma in a head-on collision with another rider.

Mobile bike repair service comes to San Diego.

BART hopes new signs will keep bike riders from breaking the rules.

 

National

The problem with Share the Road campaigns.

If you want to get cyclists off the sidewalk, build bike lanes.

Wearing headphones when you ride may not be smart, but it’s safer than driving with the windows rolled up.

East Texas cyclists start a safety campaign reminding drivers that bike riders are people, too.

A reminder that a new bike path isn’t any good if it’s not maintained, like this one in New Jersey.

A former American Gladiator allegedly flattens a pedestrian while riding in New York’s Central Park.

To protect and serve (pizza). Baltimore bike cops go above and beyond by delivering pizza to a seriously injured cyclist after she’s released from the hospital; link via Bicycling magazine.

The Baltimore airport opens a 12.5 mile bike path, complete with bike share to entertain waiting passengers and employees.

Kill a bike rider in Florida, and lose your license for a whopping six months.

 

International

A Vancouver motorist drives down a protected bike lane, then right crosses a cyclist after leaving it.

Evidently, a unanimous vote of Toronto’s city council doesn’t mean any more than it does here, as they voted for a separated bike lane that never gets built. Sort of like bike lanes on Lankershim, Westwood and North Figueroa.

A London grocery truck gets outfitted with 360-degree cameras in an effort to protect bike riders.

Caught on video: A London bike rider captures a first-person view of a cut-off collision; fortunately, he survived the brutal impact.

Lovely Bicycle meditates on a ghost bike for a 16-year old Irish rider.

A new Chinese bike helmet promises to be a combination turn signal and mood ring for your head.

 

Finally…

After a six-year old Portland girl posts a sign shaming the thieves that stole her dad’s bikes, the publicity helps get them back. After repeatedly giving a Texas man with Asperger’s Syndrome a ride to work, local police pitch in to buy him a bicycle; now that’s class.

And Austrian police tell a naked bike rider to put her damn clothes on, already.

 

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

………

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.

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