Tag Archive for LADOT

Michelle Mowery in the LA Times, the most heartless hit-and-run driver yet, and a Saturday memorial for Milt Olin

The Times’ Patt Morrison interviews LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery.

It’s a good piece for the most part, with an eye on where we’re going; using Copenhagen as a role model can’t be a bad thing.

Although I have to admit, I cringed in a few places.

Like where she responded to a question about licensing cyclists by correctly addressing the need for better education, without discussing why licensing is a bad idea. Let alone questions about bikes running red lights, without pointing out most riders don’t, and we’re not the only scofflaws on the road.

Others readers I heard from objected to a seemingly flip response to the question of parents who don’t wear helmets even though their children do.

And Morrison brings up the nonexistent traffic jams on 7th Street following the road diet that added bike lanes, with no refutation from Mowery — let alone a tacit admission that it could have resulted in a significant increase in pollution from idling cars.

Right.

Still, she has some good things to say, and it’s a good look at the woman who’s the closest thing this city has to a bike czar.

And who deserves a lot of credit for the changes we’ve seen on the streets in recent years, as the city has done the seemingly impossible by becoming officially bike friendly.

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In the single most horribly heartless report I’ve ever seen, a Florida man drives for two miles after striking a cyclist, with the rider embedded in the car’s rear window. Then after arriving home, he pried the rider out of the glass, and dumped him behind a dumpster to die before hiding his damaged car from his girlfriend.

Fortunately, a landscaping crew found the victim nearly over two hours later, albeit in critical condition with a deep gash in the forehead, nearly severed ear, and spinal injuries that could leave him paralyzed.

Police arrested the driver at a body shop later that same day, as he attempted to get his car fixed before the damage could be discovered.

If there’s any justice, he’ll face an attempted murder charge for deliberately dumping the victim and leaving him to die.

And a very long sentence in a very unpleasant pen.

Wait. Attempted manslaughter? Seriously?

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A memorial will be held for fallen cyclist, entertainment attorney and former Napster CEO Milt Olin at 2 pm this Saturday at the Jim Henson Company Lot, 1416 N. La Brea. The family asks attendees to carpool and RSVP here.

Still no word on the official cause of the collision that took his life, though rumors are rampant that the 16-year veteran sheriff’s deputy behind the wheel was using the patrol car’s laptop computer while he drove.

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The LA Times says the LAPD should focus on riskier behavior than jaywalking; Streetsblog’s Damien Newton offers arguments against the crackdown. Meanwhile, Streetsblog Sahra Suliaman asks for community involvement in the planned Slauson active transportation corridor. Better Bike reviews the recent meeting to remake bike-unfriendly Santa Monica Blvd; there may be hope for Beverly Hills yet, thanks largely to the efforts of Better Bike’s Mark Elliot. Santa Monica hosts an important meeting on the planned MANGo project on Saturday, January 7th. Downey’s new mayor has supported bike lanes since he was eight years old; let hope he still does. Wolfpack Hustle announces the official results of their 2013 race series. As we’ve been telling you, wayfaring signs really are coming to the LA River; no, really. Celebrate the season with the LACBC’s East LA Holiday Bike Parade. A bird-flipping Benz driver threatens to kill a Highland Park cyclist; could be another test case for the city’s anti-harassment ordinance.

Coronado’s temporary bike corrals may not be. Annual National City bike giveaway needs more bikes. Now you can ride the last leg of the Amgen Tour of California just like the real pros. but without the EPO and clenbuterol and stuff. Trek’s John Burke backs plans for a Santa Barbara bike network. San Francisco’s fire department opposes safety measures that could protect cyclists and pedestrians. More green lanes in San Francisco, and a parking protected bike lane. Oakland truck driver fatally drags a cyclist two blocks after hitting her; he may not have known he hit anyone. Sonoma County sting stops people driving away from the courthouse after their licenses have been suspended; wait, you mean the judge was serious about that?

Alta offers advice on how to avoid collisions, and what to do if you don’t. The seven habits of highly effective bike cities. Now you, too, can honk your horn in an obnoxious manner, or not. Drunk ND driver hits a cyclist, then backs up and runs over a pedestrian coming to the rider’s aid. Wisconsin hit-and-run driver who killed a 61-year old bike rider had 13 previous traffic violations in the last four years; so why was he still allowed to drive? Maybe bike lanes aren’t the cause of Buffalo’s traffic congestion. New York’s DOT launches a new campaign against reckless driving. Road raging New York cyclist arrested for bashing in a driver’s window for no apparent reason, if you believe the story. Philadelphia now allows you to tweet about blocked bike lanes, and they’ll actually do something about it. Boston police still won’t identify the officer who killed a cyclist last July. Bikes are the new enemy for misguided conservatives.

Canadian bike safety taught via Legos. UK driver gets six years for killing a cyclist while driving drunk and without a license. Riding a bike cross-county, and with a pig. Riding a London bike share bike up Mt. Ventoux before the rental period expires; then again, Boris Bikes are turning up in Gambia, too. UK bike rider takes the long way home — from South Korea. New German fitness shirt promises to manage your e-bike for you; but if you’re riding an e-bike, why do you need a fitness shirt? Ninety-four percent of Turkish motorists think they’re better drivers than they really are; I suspect that would hold true everywhere. Kolkata bans bikes, or maybe not. Saudi groom rides his bike into his wedding hall on a dare. Gambia cracks down on dangerous cyclists. Aussie world-champion time trialist Michael Rogers claims his positive drug test for clenbuterol resulted from tainted meat; why not, it’s worked before. An Australian concrete company bars a bike path. Road raging Kiwi driver gets 32 months in prison for attacking a triathlete.

Finally, a Missouri woman won’t face charges for fatally running down a bike rider at 82 mph. But her ex-boyfriend will, after flashing a gun and chasing her through the streets; he’s charged with second degree murder in the rider’s death.

Seriously, there are no words.

Thanks to John McBrearty and Rich Alossi for their generous donations to help support this site.

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.

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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.

Update: Bike lanes approved for Figueroa and Colorado Blvds in NELA. Or not.

LADOT has just announced that road diets and bike lanes have been approved for Figueroa and Colorado Blvds in Northeast L.A., over the objections of a small but very vocal minority.

This is a huge victory for supporters who have been battling for the lanes, including Flying Pigeon’s Josef Bray-Ali, Fig4All and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

I’m guest editing LA Streetsblog once again tomorrow, so look for a full report there. You can read a PDF of the full General Manager’s determination on link below.

LADOT LOD 053013

Update: So much for that. Just moments after I got my story online at Streetsblog, the city sent out a notice that yesterday’s announcement was merely procedural, and that no final decision has been made.

Not only is the war not over yet, it seems the battle has barely begun.

At least you can console yourself with a mostly bike-centric look at today’s headlines.

Guest post: Just how much space is enough for cyclists and bike lanes; no jail in SaMo road rage case

The other day, I got an interesting offer from one of my favorite bloggers and one of the city’s leading livable streets advocates.

Severin Martinez, author of the always excellent Walk Eagle Rock, has been a leader in the fight to reshape dangerously high-speed and far too wide Colorado Blvd through the newly vibrant northeastern L.A. neighborhood.

It seems that he had written a detailed examination on how much space a cyclist needs to safely operate a bicycle, as opposed to how little we usually get.

But after writing it, he realized it wasn’t right for his audience. And wondered if my readers would be interested.

Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.

You can thank me later.

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Operable Width?

Looking through the Technical Design Handbook for the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan, I was reminded of something I’ve been thinking about lately – operable width. What is operable width? In the context of the bike plan it refers to the amount of space a cyclist needs to safely operate a bicycle.

In the first section of the Handbook, “design needs of bicyclists” is discussed. On page 7 it is determined that cyclists need a minimum 4-feet operating space with a preference for 5 feet. Similarly in the section discussing design for bike lanes, a 5-foot minimum is established for the bike lane width.

In Los Angeles our bike lanes typically are 5 feet wide but they do not allow for a minimum of 4 feet operating width. Why? Because most of Los Angeles’ bike lanes are adjacent to car parking. Bicycle safety literature issued by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation explicitly warns about the “door-zone,” space within the bike lane which may suddenly be interrupted by motorists opening their car door to exit their vehicle. The door zone reduces the safe operable width of bike lanes to 2 or 3 feet.

The door zone is acknowledged in this blog post at the LADOT Bike Blog, suggesting that cyclists position themselves at least 11 feet from the curb to avoid conflict with opening car doors. Anyone who has cycled in Los Angeles long enough eventually learns the potential danger posed by cycling too close to parked cars while in the bike lane. It is for this reason why cyclists often only operate in the left half of a bike lane.

A visualization of dangers typical bike lanes pose to cyclists in LA. This bike lane, like most bike lanes in LA, does not achieve the desired minimum operable width. Image credit: Gary Kavanagh

Unless parking is prohibited, cyclists never get the minimum operating width recommended by the Technical Design Handbook. What is puzzling is that despite the Department of Transportation’s awareness of the dangers of cycling to close to parked cars, it appears efforts are not consistently made avoid this danger.

Take for example this proposed bike lane on Winnetka Avenue.

Image credit: LADOT Bike Blog

A 6-foot bike lane is placed next to a 7-foot parking lane. If taking the LADOT’s recommendation of placing oneself 11 feet from the curb, the effective width of the bike lane becomes 3 feet, one foot below the desired minimum operating width. If the bike lane were 7 feet, then cyclists could have their minimum operating width of 4 feet. But where would this space come from? The California Highway Design Manual seems to offer a solution

The minimum [motor vehicle] lane width standard is 12 feet. There are situations where it may be desirable to reduce the width of the traffic lanes in order to add or widen bicycle lane or shoulders.

The Manual goes on to say

When vehicle parking is permitted adjacent to a bicycle lane or on a shoulder where bicycling is not prohibited, reducing the width of the adjacent traffic lane may allow for wider bicycle lanes or shoulders, to provide greater clearance between bicyclists and the driver-side doors when opened.

If safety was the number one priority, it would seem the Department of Transportation would propose 10 foot wide motor vehicle lanes. This would allow the creation of 8-foot wide bike lanes with 5 feet of operating space outside the door zone (as defined by the LADOT) or a 5-foot bike lane placed entirely outside of the door zone.

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A couple other quick notes.

Despite earlier reports that road-raging Santa Monica driver Jeffrey Ray Adams wouldn’t face felony charges for assaulting a cyclist last summer, two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon were eventually filed.

According to a comment left on one of those earlier stories yesterday, the case has concluded with no jail time for the driver.

Jeffrey Ray Adams pled no contest on May 29th, 2012 to a violation of Penal Code Section 245 (a) (1) Assault with A Deadly Weapon [his car]. He was placed on three years of formal, felony probation and must complete 20 days of labor as well as an anger management program. Restitution was ordered (as required by law) in an amount unknown at this point.

I think we all — or must of us, anyway — would have preferred some jail time. However, we’ve already seen that people sentenced to short terms in county jail usually stay just long enough to change into their prison uniform before they’re back out on the streets.

And undoubtedly, it was the lack of jail time that induced Adams to accept a plea.

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It was announced at yesterday’s LAPD Bike Task Force meeting that the shooting death of a 19-year old Koreatown cyclist last weekend was definitely gang related.

That doesn’t make his death any less tragic, or any less of a waste.

But it should reduce fears of murderous road-raging motorists attacking innocent riders. It’s just business as usual on the streets of L.A.

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Finally, an arrest warrant has been issued for a San Bernardino County man for attacking a cyclist last July.

According to the Mountain News/Crestline Courier News, 20-year old  Steven Wayne Barnett is wanted for allegedly grabbing a cyclist through the passenger window of a passing car, then throwing the rider to the ground. The unidentified victim suffered a broken wrist, as well as scrapes and bruises, and his bike was destroyed.

The rider and a passing motorist were able catch enough of the license plate to identify the car, which belonged to a friend of Barnett’s.

He is wanted on a charge of assault with serious injury, with a $100,000 bond.

The link love is back — Villaraigosa’s failing bikeway promise, Roadblock joins the bloggerati

Leading L.A. bike advocate and Creak Freak Joe Linton offers another of his exceptional bike wonk efforts, digging deep into the mayor’s promise to build 40 miles of bikeways each year.

And not surprisingly, finding it lacking.

Linton points out that between what’s already installed and what’s projected to be installed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, the city will end up over 23% short of the mayor’s promise, at 31.04 miles.

And that includes eight miles of sharrows, which we all seem to appreciate, but which most would hardly consider fulfillment of the mayor’s promise.

After all, sharrows are easy to put down almost anywhere. But unlike bike lanes, they don’t grant us one inch of pavement we weren’t entitled to before. Or get us out of the traffic lane, where our safety depends on the willingness of drivers to observe the law. Let alone pay attention.

Which isn’t something you really want to count on.

Still, Joe holds out hope that L.A. will live up to its promise. And offers a list of low hanging fruit that could be installed quickly and easily.

Are you listening Mayor?

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Speaking of our soon-to-be outgoing mayor, Streetsblog is keeping an eye on L.A.’s 2013 mayoral candidates.

I particularly like cyclist, businessman and former First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner’s comment that 35 years is too long to build out the city’s bike plan.

“We want a bike-friendly city. What does the City deliver? A 35-year plan.  It took Tolstoy one year to write “War and Peace,” four years for physicists to assemble an atom bomb, eight years to answer JFK’s call to land a man on the moon, and it took Dick Riordan three months to fix the 10 freeway after the Northridge earthquake. Why is it going to take 35 years to make us bike-friendly?

Why indeed?

A motivated mayor could easily build out the entire plan before he or she is termed out, even if we tossed in a few cycle tracks, bike boxes and other assorted infrastructure still considered experimental under current Caltrans guidelines.

As NYDOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said, it’s just paint.

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In a very pleasant surprise, one of the leaders of L.A.’s cycling community joins the bloggerati, as Roadblock begins a bi-weekly column for the excellent KCET’s Departures series; it’s worth the click just for the breathtaking photos.

They also offer a first-hand report on Flying Pigeon’s ever popular Get Sum Dim Sum ride.

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The long awaited Main Street road diet in Venice is now underway. Richard Risemberg reminds the Tea Partiers among us that bikes aren’t socialistic, but highways are. The LACBC tours bike-friendly Long Beach with County Supervisor and presumed L.A. mayoral candidate Zev Yaroslovsky. LADOT offers an update on the latest BPIT meeting, while Street Services take a patchwork approach to preserving sharrows. Better Bike offers advice on how to put a dent in Beverly Hills bike theft. The Weekly looks at the Fresh Food Bike grocery delivery mentioned here awhile back. USC releases a draft plan for dealing with bike safety on campus; all options seem to include at least a partial bike ban or dismount zone. Will Campbell discovers a new bike/ped path in Burbank. South Pasadena is looking for advisory committee members for a remake of Monterey Road, including possible bike lanes. A must read, as KCRW’s Shortcut’s blog asks if the auto industry will ever give a crap about safety; the proliferation of texting and Facebook enabled dashboards suggests otherwise.

California has updated it’s overly conservative guide to what traffic signals, signage and markings are allowed on our streets; wayfinding and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs are now allowed, NACTO not so much. Riverside’s mayor calls for fighting obesity with more bike lanes. Redlands cyclists set out to form the desperately needed Inland Empire Bicycle Alliance; if you’re in San Bernardino County, you should definitely look these guys up. A look at the recent High Desert Cyclocross. Buellton approves a close-circuit bike race for March 31st; yes, that’s what they call it. Santa Barbara’s Wheel House Dutch-style bike shop will go out of business at the end of the month after a steep rent increase; don’t get me started on greedy landlords, especially in this economy.

People for Bikes is now up to nearly 500,000 supporters; as I recall, I signed up about 490,000 ago. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske says “I didn’t see the cyclist” — or as the Queen’s loyal subjects put it, “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You” aka SMIDSY — is a confession of guilt; something I’ve been saying for years. Good offers a beginners guide to Cycle Chic. There seems to be little love for Seattle’s so-called Mayor McSchwinn. Albuquerque decides to ban bikes from an industrial area rather than require truckers to drive safely; a local bike blog quite correctly calls them on it. A Madison WI cyclist offers a mittened response to angry drivers on snowy days, and not the one you might think. St. Louis could soon require bike parking along with new car parking lots. New York vehicle crashes disproportionately affect children in poor neighborhoods. More Miami mayhem as a Brazilian race car driver plows into a man loading his bike onto a car, allegedly after a night of drinking and cocaine use. A long time vehicular cyclist feels uniquely qualified to debunk the practice.

A writer for London’s Guardian considers his double life as a slow cycling Dutch-style commuter and a Lycra-clad speedster; meanwhile, the paper offers advice on how to start cycling to work. While we’re on the subject of Fleet Street, a writer for the conservative London Mail says he wishes cars had never been invented after getting hit by one while riding to church. UK businesses offer to pitch in with money, materials and equipment to cut the cost of a much-needed bike path. Britain’s Parliament considers a new law to criminalize dangerous cycling that results in death — of others, that is; causing your own death by riding recklessly will remain perfectly legal. Bicycle registration is not the answer for bad behavior, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation. A witness claims that bike-hating Aussie cricketer Shane Warne deliberately hit a cyclist he blamed for attacking his car; thanks to cyclist and attorney David Huntsman for the tip. Horrifying story of an Australian sex offender who deliberately ran down and crippled a female cyclist in a failed attempt at abduction; there is not a hole in hell deep enough for someone like that.

Finally, a reminder to check the background of your photos before you post them online, even if it does feature a famous cyclist. And a great Monty Python-esque response to the question what have the cyclists ever done for us?

And thanks to Margrét Helgadóttir and D. D. Syrdal for reminding me that it’s possible to ride past angry drivers as calmly as I’ve passed other dangerous beasts over the years.

Catching up: A well deserved award, an aside to Beverly Hills, and a lot of links

Congratulations to LADOT Bike Blog’s Chris Kidd for winning the California APA Distinguished Leadership Award — Student Planner. It couldn’t go to a more deserving person.

Or one who more deserves a job with the city; money may be tight, but we can’t afford to lose this level of talent and commitment.

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One of California’s leading bike bloggers is visiting Los Angeles this coming weekend, and looking for some fun bike-related activities. But aside from Critical Mass and Bicycle John’s Customer Appreciation ride in Agoura Hills, I’ve got nothing.

Any suggestions for fun bike activities this weekend? Just leave your suggestions in the comments below, and I’ll forward them.

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Note to Beverly Hills: If the city was safer and more inviting to walk and bike — and stopped fighting transit plans that might relieve your hellish traffic congestion — you might not have that high commercial vacancy rate. And that lack of parking south of Wilshire Blvd wouldn’t really matter.

Just a thought.

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The International Rescue Committee works with LACBC and C.I.C.L.E. to provide bikes and helmets to refugees in L.A. Streetsblog gets L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky on the record supporting bicycling — including a hint that he might support extension of the L.A. River bike Path through Universal Studios — and picks up the story of what to do about trash cans in the bike lane. Just when I finally get the monthly BPIT meeting on my list of events, they move to quarterly meetings, among other changes; LADOT lists bikeways installed so far in year zero of the new bike plan. Downtown News names CicLAvia the best reason to leave your car at home. A Santa Monica writer says cyclists need to tell other riders to obey the law and ride responsibly; I understand the thinking, but does anyone ever say drivers need to tell other motorists to clean up their act? Hear in the City talks to LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer about the recently passed cyclist anti-harassment ordinance; speaking of which, when can we expect the Mayor’s signature?

In the wake of a recent death, the San Francisco Examiner weighs mandatory helmet use. A San Francisco designer tackles a bike thief; thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up. The Sonoma paper considers what they call the peloton of Peter Pans; maybe someone can tell me what riding a bike has to do with refusing to grow up. A California woman rides RAGBRAI on one leg after losing a leg to cancer as a child. Charges have been dropped against an alleged distracted driver who killed a popular Nevada City cyclist. A cyclist files suit after she was snagged by a hot air balloon.

Maybe it’s enough for bike riding to just be, you know, fun. Ten tips to find the right bike, and 10 great American cities for urban riding; any guesses on whether L.A. made the list? Maybe the hysteria over emasculating bike seats is just a tad overblown. Great idea, as towns across the country build Safety Towns to teach bike safe bike riding techniques to kids. A road rage incident with racial overtones ends well, after all. Three suspects have been arrested for assaulting a 71-year old cyclist from a passing car. If you were involved with the late, great Red Zinger/Coors Classic bike races, you’re invited to a reunion; too bad watching the races isn’t enough to get in or I’d be there. Chicago officially unveils its first separated bike lane with a second on the way, even if drivers don’t know what to make of it. After a DC area cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run, Maryland authorities suggest that he shouldn’t have been on the road to begin with. In a nice piece, Zeke finds balance in his life as a bike advocate. Spotting the rare bare-breasted Florida bike thief.

Your next Porsche could fit between your legs if you have a spare $5,000 to $9,000. A cyclist riding from Alaska to Argentina has his bike stolen in Canada. A Toronto columnist discovers the glories of the fixie. An Ottawa paper calls out the bad bicyclist of the day; I’m sure elsewhere on their site they focus on bad drivers, right? After being passed so closely that his bike mirror was smashed, a Canadian cyclist calls for bike training for drivers; maybe the Ottawa paper should post a photo of that driver. A British news anchor asks why cycling fatalities are up while other traffic fatalities are down. A bungling thief rides the bike he’d stolen to a police station to claim his belongings. Best shot yet of Alberto Contador punching an over-aggressive fan in the Tour de France last week; meanwhile, his appeal hearing has been postponed yet again. The infinite jest of the TdF; Dave Moulton calls it a perfect result. Aussie cyclists push for a safe passing law in the wake of Cadel Evans victory in the Tour de France. After getting hit twice, a Kiwi cyclist doubts the value of high-visibility bikewear.

Finally, a cop nails a raccoon and a cyclist with a single shot. A Wisconsin bike thief completes his own unofficial triathlon in an attempt to escape authorities. And the Onion notices our little anti-harassment ordinance; Streetsblog invites you to come up with a better caption.

 

Double BOLO alert for L.A. hit-and-run drivers, surprising choice for LADOT head

Yesterday, I got word of two cyclists asking riders to be on the lookout for drivers who hit them, then fled the scene.

Including one that left a rider seriously injured, and another that may have been an intentional attack.

The LACBC’s Alexis Lantz forwards word of collision involving a cyclist at 3333 McLaughlin Ave, just north of Mar Vista Park, on the street also known as S. Barrington Ave just a little north.

The collision, which left a rider named Cary lying unconscious in the street with 14 broken ribs, occurred around 2 pm on Thursday, May 26th.

While police were called, they have little information to work with, since Cary was knocked out and unable to get any information on the car that hit him, and no one else has come forward with a license number or description of the vehicle.

If you witnessed the collision or have any additional information that could help in the investigation, contact me and I’ll make sure it gets to the right people,  including the victim. Or you can call the LAPD’s 24-hour tip line at 1-877-LAWFUL (1-877-529-3855).

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Richard Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation forwards word of a Highland Park road rage incident in which a rider was knocked off her bike after exchanging words with a driver.

According to the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, Winona Wacker was riding her bike along Avenue 50 near Buchanan Street when a driver in a Volvo convertible came up from behind and started yelling at her to get out of the road.

Wacker said she responded to the motorist, who she described as a white male who looked to be in his fifties, by telling him that she was allowed to use the whole lane for her safety.

That response only angered the driver more, Wacker said.

“He laid on his horn, then yelled back at me  ‘you wanna test your weight against mine?’” Wacker said.  “ [He] continued blowing his horn, hit the gas and then sped up to run me down.”

The writer reports that a good Samaritan stopped to help her, then sped up to get the motorists license number. Police are handling the case as a general assault, and cycling and community activist Stephen Box has reached out to Sgt. Krumer urging action on the case.

In the meantime, area cyclists are urged to be on the lookout for a middle-aged white male driving a white Volvo C-70 convertible. If he’s run down a rider once, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again.

If anyone still needed proof of why L.A. needs an anti-harassment ordinance to protect the rights of cyclists, this is a textbook example of exactly what the proposed law, which is still awaiting final approval by the city council, is intended to address.

And don’t think this case is unique.

Change the location and reverse the sex of the participants, and it’s very similar to the road rage case that left me injured in Westwood over a decade ago.

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After months of instability at the head of LADOT, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is nominating his transportation deputy Jaime De La Vega as the agency’s general manager.

Not surprisingly, the story was broken on Twitter by Streetsblog Damien Newton, who clearly has his pulse on the city’s transportation beat. Just one more reason to support the site’s Spring Fundraising Drive.

And yes, that sigh you heard this morning was thousands of cyclists around the city expressing their disappointment that the mayor didn’t make a bold move by appointing a proven bike-friendly director to the post. On the other hand, it would be hard to get someone like that to take a politically appointed post in any mayor’s lame duck administration, with no guarantee the role would continue into the next mayor’s term.

In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that the new mayor will want his or her own person in the roll.

We’ll have to wait and see whether De La Vega will push to reform the chronically auto-centric agency, or if the former Hummer driver will just assume a caretaker role until the mayor’s term runs out.

Better news on Adam Rybicki, LA engineers get bike/ped training, CA considers 15 mph passing law

Good news on the condition of Adam Rybicki, who was critically injured in a collision with an allegedly drunk, underage driver in Torrance on Sunday.

Jim Lyle forwards the following comment from the original story in the Daily Breeze:

A number of physicians ride on this ride and were instrumental in initially saving Adams life. Richard Brenner is one of our riders and is also a physician. Here’s what he has to say about his visit to Adam tonight: “I just returned from visiting Adam at Harbor General. He is in the ICU 3 West. He is still in a coma but shows responsiveness in his extremities. 
He has a trach tube but is not on a ventilator. He has a drainage tube in the head but they haven’t needed to drain anything. The nurse, a great guy, 
told me that his ICP, intracranial pressure, was excellent. He had a cervical collar on and has not been to the MRI. His vitals were good. His face looks a lot better than I expected. There is some swelling but I didn’t see any of the lacerations I was expecting. The nurse noted that Adam has been improving in his responsiveness during his shift. Say a prayer.

Also, in answer to questions I’ve gotten from several people, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels confirms that the passengers in the car driven by Jaclyn Garcia could not be legally required to take a breathalyzer test, even though they were underage and allegedly drunk at the time of the collision. Under California law, only the driver is required to prove sobriety.

The officers investigating the crash could have given them field sobriety tests to test for underage drinking or public intoxication, however. Wheels also notes that police would not have allowed them to leave on their own if they were too drunk to take care of themselves, and could have taken them into custody until they sobered up or someone came to get them.

The passengers also bear no legal responsibility, according to Wheels, either for the collision itself or for allowing Garcia to drive under the influence, unless they were actively interfering with her ability to drive. That’s something we should look at trying to change; anyone who knowingly allows someone to drive after drinking should bear some responsibility for whatever follows.

And contrary to my understanding, while the person(s) who sold, served or supplied the girls with alcohol could be held responsible for violating state liquor laws, they bear no responsibility for the collision itself under California law.

For anyone who may have missed it yesterday, it appears the initial comments by a Torrance Police spokesperson were wrong. All reports I’ve received from people on the scene of Sunday’s collision indicate the Torrance police conducted a fair, thorough and unbiased investigation, and that the officer who’s comments suggested police were blaming the cyclists was not involved in the investigation and had no direct knowledge of the case.

.………

One of my biggest complaints over the years, and one I’ve frequently heard from other cyclists, is that bike infrastructure too often looks like it was designed by someone who had never been on a bike.

From bike lanes that start and stop at random and place cyclists squarely in the door zone, to bike paths that double as sidewalks and force riders to navigate through turning motor vehicle traffic.

Now the LACBC is working with LADOT and the Mayor’s office to do something about it.

Since the Mayor’s Bike Summit last year, the LACBC has been working quietly behind the scenes to arrange a training program in complete streets and bicycle and pedestrian safety design. Now it’s finally going to take place later this month, with an intensive two-day training session, not just for Bikeways staff, but for all of the city’s roadway engineers.

Maybe we can use this as a springboard for a Vision Zero plan for Los Angeles to achieve a rate of zero cyclists and pedestrians killed on city streets by 2020.

With the new bike plan, better relations with and enforcement from the LAPD, a bike-friendly mayor, a soon-to-be adopted anti-harassment ordinance, and now bike and pedestrian safety training for the people who design our streets, the pieces are finally in place.

It might be hard, but it is doable.

.………

Cyclelicious reports on the latest attempt to approve a three-foot passing law in the California legislature. As the bill now stands, it contains not only the three-foot provision, but also a requirement that drivers pass cyclists at a maximum 15 mph speed differential.

While most reasonable people understand the need to slow down to pass a cyclist, this appears to be an unenforceable standard as it now stands, requiring drivers to slow from 60 mph or more on some highways to 30 or 40 mph — or less — when they pass a cyclist riding on the shoulder.

A better standard might be to require the maximum speed differential when passing a cyclist in the same lane.

Even then, such a speed differential would be virtually impossible to objectively measure, requiring an officer with a speed gun to measure the relative speeds of both the cyclist and the passing vehicle. And frankly, police usually have better things to do with their time.

The only time something like this might come into play would be in the event of a collision, when it could be proven that the vehicle did not slow down before hitting the cyclist.

Which makes me wonder if it’s really just a straw dog — something that could be negotiated away in order to gain approval for the three foot provision.

Or does someone else have some insights on this that I don’t?

.………

CicLAvia is still looking for volunteers for Sunday, as well as the days leading up to L.A.’s new favorite biking, walking, sitting and just generally hanging out event. Fill out this form to volunteer on Sunday, or this one to volunteer to help get ready on Friday and Saturday; email CicLAviaVolunteer [at] gmail [dot] com for more information.

.………

LADOT Bike Blog offers an interview with new BAC chair Jay Slater. Damien Newton looks at the county’s proposed bike plan and not surprisingly, finds it lacking, with no plan to implement any of it. Steven Box writes that is has been a long road to relevance for L.A. cyclists, but this is just the beginning. Santa Monica unveils their proposed Bicycle Action Plan on Wednesday. Answering questions about the coming weekend’s 2011 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer event. Richard Risemberg rolls with the monthly Vélo Rétro ride. L.A. Cyclist recounts the restoration of a Nishiki with a bizarre front freewheel. Cynergy Cycles invites you to be one with your bike this Thursday. What to do to keep from getting dropped on group rides. A look back at Santa Monica bicycling history. Evidently, there’s a new Pashley in town. The Times offers a story on biking the steep trail to Little Pine. April is Distracted Driving Month in California — which means don’t do it, rather than encouraging it.

The Quiznos Pro Challenge thankfully abandons their horrible sandwich huckstering name and will hereby be known as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge; now that sounds like something I might actually watch. A new study shows that the percentage of who rides is nearly equally divided among economic groups, with lower income riders making up the largest group and upper income the smallest — so much for the idea that only rich yuppies ride bikes.

Twelve reasons to start using a bike for transportation. The U.S. once led the world in cycling. Minneapolis’ success offers a lesson in how to beat the bikelash. A cycling physician is killed when a driver has a sneezing fit. DC bike commuting on the increase. A cyclist participating in an annual Florida cycling event is killed when a driver attempts to retrieve a dropped cell phone; am I the only one who thinks calling this the event’s first fatality sounds like they’re planning for more?

In what’s sure to be seen by Tea Partier’s as yet another plot for world domination, the UN is now tweeting about road safety. After riding 1750 miles across Europe, a group of Brit soldiers riding for to raise funds for charity are forced to complete the journey on foot due to safety regulations. Mayor Boris considers establishing the London Marathon on Wheels. Saxo Bank SunGuard rider Nick Nuyens takes the Tour of Flanders in a final breakaway with Sylvain Chavanel and Fabian Cancellara; proof the strongest rider doesn’t always win. An Aussie man gets a slap on the wrist after setting a trap for mountain bikers, then changing his mind and warning riders.

Finally, Gothamist offers a hilarious take on the New York Post’s idiotic attempt to link their irrational hatred of New York bikeways and the woman behind them to — wait for it — 9/11.

I’m in catch up mode this week, so please bear with me. I’ve got lots of good stories in the queue, including a guest post from Eric Weinstein on Sunday’s Crosstown Traffic Ride, updates on bike-related criminal cases from Dj Wheels, bike lanes blocked by movie crews, and photos of the crappiest bike lane on the Westside — yes, even worse than Westwood’s Ohio Ave.

Dear New York: Can we have your Dept. of Transportation Commissioner? Please?

What sadly passes for a writer at the New York Post calls NYDOT Commissioner Jannette Sadik-Khan a “psycho bike lady” and an “incompetent, overpromoted, overzealous bureaucrat.”

And that’s just the beginning.

This time, it’s because of a plan to convert the city’s 34th Street from a throughway to a Complete Streets busway. Although based on the paper’s highly biased coverage of biking news, it could have been about any number of other issues.

Sadik-Khan is recognized across the country as one of the nation’s leading transportation planners — willing to confront NYC’s addiction to the automobile and return some small portion of the streets to the people who actually live along and use them, rather than the machines that have long destroyed the city’s quality of life.

Yet the Post continues to fan the flames of self-righteousness over any attempt to take a single inch of roadway away from overly entitled motorists in order to actually improve the city’s over burdened streets.

And God forbid that the city’s residents should have viable alternatives to driving. Or pleasant and safer places to live, walk and bike — or just be, for that matter.

But evidently, they couldn’t care less how many people are killed or injured by motor vehicles on New York streets, or how poor the quality of life is along them, as long as they can speed from New Jersey to Long Island without stopping along the way.

And you thought yellow journalism was dead.

So here’s an offer.

Los Angeles has been without a General Manager for our Department of Transportation for the past several months. And we’d like Ms. Sadik-Khan to come home every bit as much as the Post’s writers would like to get rid of her.

So if they can convince New Yorkers it’s better to wallow in their own traffic and smog than actually do anything to improve it, we’ll gladly take her.

Please.

Meanwhile, in an amazing outbreak of enlightened self-interest, Toyota proposes building 250,000 kilometers (roughly 155,000 miles) of Japanese bike lanes in order to ease congestion and reduce the risk of collisions with bikes.

And as it turns out, the secret to happiness could be as simple as commuting by bike.

Maybe the Post’s writers should try it sometime.

.………

Video shows the aftermath of a horrifying, apparently intentional attack in which a driver plowed through the full length of a Critical Mass ride in Porto Allegre, Brazil, injuring over a dozen riders; the vehicle involved was later found abandoned, but no arrest has been made.

The driver reportedly felt threatened because cyclists were banging on his car, yet cyclists report that he was driving aggressively before his attack on the riders.

Here’s a thought: if you feel threatened by cyclists, just turn at the next corner and get away from them. Somehow, watching them bounce off the hood of your car as you drive through several blocks of bikes would seem to weaken that argument just a tad.

But that’s just me.

Meanwhile, posters on a gun forum seem to find it pretty damn funny; then again, they’re posters on a gun forum.

Thanks to Will Campbell for the tip.

.………

In an ironically appropriate crash, a drunk driver smashes into a sober living facility in South L.A.; as long as his SUV is already in one of the bedrooms, he might as well check in.

No word on whether Charlie Sheen was behind the wheel.

.………

Make a trip downtown Wednesday morning to witness Mayor Villaraigosa signing the — hopefully — newly approved bike plan in front of City Hall. Sign up as a Bike Buddy to guide less experienced riders on Bike to Work Day this May; I’m seriously considering it even though my usual commute is from my bedroom to the living room. A reminder about GOOD’s fundraising party to benefit CicLAvia this weekend. Jim Shanman, a founding member of the Culver City Bicycle Coalition, looks at a possible Westside bike share program. Adventures in bike commuting: Matt Ruscigno finds himself with 40 minutes to get five miles to the airport on a broken bike, and makes his flight anyway. Chinatown is catching bike rack measles. Here’s your chance to ride through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Palm Springs police catch a bike burglar after a brief chase. San Diego kicks off a new anti-obesity campaign, including emphasis on safe bike paths and walkways. A grieving father sets off on a cross-country ride to promote awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. A San Jose cyclist is critically injured after losing the hit-and-run lottery; thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up. The North American Handmade Bicycle show moves to Sacramento next year; Cyclelicious has links to coverage of this year’s show in Austin over the weekend. Experience the Amgen Tour of California, without the inconvenience of actually having to ride it.

Biking our way to a better economy. Urban Country eviscerates the argument that bicyclists must obey the law if we want to share the road. A look at Major Taylor, one of the greatest racers of all time, who broke the color barrier in cycling 20 years before Jackie Robinson was conceived. A medical study shows spending on bikeways returns 1.2 to 3.8 times that amount in healthcare savings. Over 3,700 cyclists take on the Chilly Hilly ride on Seattle’s Bainbridge Island. Kansas shoots down a proposed three-foot passing law, while Georgia considers one of their own. Rising numbers of Chicago cyclists points to the need for more protected bikeways. Ohio’s Bike Lawyer Steve Magos says it’s time to criminalize negligent driving; he’s right.

If there really is a war on cars, the cars are winning. A British motorists organization calls for a mandatory helmet law, rather than just asking their members not to hit us. But at least they have the sense to pull an anti-bike rant from one of their columnists and say her services will no long be needed; those Brits are so polite, aren’t they? Edinburgh cyclists create their own DIY map of off-street bike paths, patterned after the famous London Tube map; thanks to Evan Garcia for the links. A look at bike parking in Amsterdam; and to think we’re happy to get a lousy bike rack. Proof that population density has nothing to do with cycling rates. A Sydney paper looks at the rising numbers of video cams on bikes.

Finally, Colorado’s proposed legislation to ban the Blackhawk bike ban failed thanks to the actions of the state’s Republican House Majority Leader; maybe it’s time to point out that cyclists spend a lot of money in her state, which can easily be spent elsewhere.

And a New York legislator proposes hanging a $25 license plate off the back of every bike in the state; and yes, that includes children, evidently. But why stop there? Let’s confront the menace of scofflaw pedestrians by forcing everyone to hang a set of numbers on their ass.

The incredible disappearing sharrows, part two

Now you see them, now you don’t.

Just days after sharrows magically reappeared in Westwood — after being covered up in a massive failure of communication between two city agencies — it’s happened again.

Only this time, it’s a good thing.

According to an email I received on Wednesday, Torrance joined the recent rush to put sharrows on the streets this month — to the delight and disappointment of local cyclists.

Delight, because shared lane markings have proven exceptionally popular with many bike riders, indicating to drivers that we have a right to the road.

And to the lane.

Nice try, but this is just so wrong in so many ways.

Disappointment, because the markings were placed in entirely the wrong location — in the bike lane and well out of the traffic lane. And worse, they indicated that cyclists should ride directly in the door zone, rather than positioning riders outside it, as the marking are intended to do.

Maybe someone in the city’s Public Works Department saw the pretty bike and chevron design in another nearby town, and thought they’d look lovely on the streets of their own town. Or maybe they just wanted to be trendy, like everyone else here in SoCal, and didn’t want to get left off the sharrow express.

Problem is, they clearly didn’t research the hows and whys and — most importantly — wheres before they put paint on the street.

I’ll let my correspondent take it from here, quoting from the email he sent to the Public Works Department just last Saturday, with a copy sent to the city’s mayor.

Shared Lane Markings (aka “sharrows”) have been incorrectly installed on streets in the City of Torrance.

According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Shared Lane Markings are not to be used in designated bicycle lanes and, on streets with parallel parking, should be placed at least 11 feet from the curb.

The recently installed “sharrows” on Torrance Blvd (in designated bicycle lanes) and those on Anza Avenue (less than 11 feet from the curb and in the “door zone”) are nonconforming, exposing the city to possible liability should a bicycle rider be injured.

While the City of Torrance is to be applauded for its bicycle friendly efforts, the use of Shared Lane Markings should be in accordance with the MUTCD.

Under that black paint lies an unlamented misplaced and swiftly removed sharrow.

The response was surprisingly swift.

When he went out for his ride on Wednesday, he passed one of the locations where sharrows had been placed on Torrance Blvd.

And he was surprised to see that the offending pavement markings had already been painted over,  just five days —and only three business days — following his email. Evidently, it doesn’t hurt to copy the mayor’s office when you complain.

As he put it:

Better no sharrows than ones in the door zone.

………

As if people didn’t already think most cyclists are law-breaking scum.

The LAPD hosted a news conference Wednesday evening to announce that, despite improved relations with the cycling community, there are certain biking behaviors that just won’t be tolerated.

Like corking intersections. Riding on the wrong side of the road. Or swarming a grocery store parking lot, drinking beer and smoking pot, and riding bikes through the aisles of the store, scattering shoppers in your wake.

As Brent wrote in an email Wednesday,

…it’s like the new “skateboarding” — hanging out with your friends, skateboard in one hand, joint in the other. But it sure does tar the rest of us just trying to get to our destination by bicycle.

Leaders of the local bike community are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again at Critical Mass this Friday. And the police will be on hand to make damn sure it doesn’t.

Tolerance only goes so far.

And patience has clearly run out.

………

Damien Newton breaks the news that Rita Robinson may be leaving her position as LADOT General Manager to take a high-level position with the county. Interesting timing, as it comes at the same time that New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, a graduate of Occidental College, is rumored to be having trouble with her new, less-bike-friendly boss.

Maybe this is Mayor Villaraigosa’s opportunity to demonstrate that he really is the bike community’s new BFF, and bring her back home to L.A.

………

LADOT Bike Blog sums up its excellent series on where you can and can’t ride on the sidewalk in L.A. County. And concludes by saying it just shows there’s still work to be done.

If bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles with responsibilities and rights equal to automobiles, like CVC 21200 states, then bicyclists deserve to have rules for their operation that are at least as uniform as the rules for operating an automobile.

The LA County Sidewalk Riding series proves, if nothing else, that we’ve still got a ways to go in that regard.

………

Villaraigosa offers Angelenos a personal invitation to attend CicLAvia on 10/10/10. Gary says when someone steals your bike, you can always rollerblade. Here’s what you can look forward to at next month’s Tour da Fat. A Fresno mother pleads for justice in the hit-and-run death of her son. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske discusses liability for road hazards, saying you may not be at fault for that fall; something you might want to remember, considering we have the 2nd worst roads in the U.S. The search continues for the schmuck driver who fled the scene after hitting two cyclists in rapid succession in Portland. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looks back on Tuesday’s Distracted Driving Summit, saying distraction-related crashes are 100% preventable. A reputed Lance Armstrong accuser testifies before the Grand Jury investigating him here in L.A.; is it truth or sour grapes? Top young pro Taylor Phinney blows off Lance and signs with BMC. How to ride in a paceline. If you want to get away with murder, use a car instead of a gun. Canadian TV asks if enough cyclists use Vancouver’s new bike lanes to justify their existence, while a writer says the city’s cyclists are their own worst enemies. An English cyclist was five times over the legal drunk driving limit when he was killed in a collision. A British rider asks for advice on how to make her longer bike commute more fun. A rare, 130-year old tricycle is stolen from a Brit bike charity. Researchers say traffic jams are caused by a combination of aggressive and/or timid drivers; link courtesy of @Metro Library. A different approach to Budapest’s Critical Mass works better than expected.

Finally, the inevitable far-right backlash begins against Wednesday’s Car-Free Day; evidently, it’s another left-wing plot, just like bike sharing.

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