Tag Archive for League of American Bicyclists

Morning Links: Coddling drunk drivers, analysis of the new Bike League study and a moving new hit-and-run video

This is why people continue to die on our streets.

An Olympia WA man gets work-release despite his seventh — yes, seventh — DUI arrest; he’ll spend nights and weekends in jail, but be released every day to run his business. Odd that they don’t offer bank robbers and drug dealers the same consideration. And no word on how he plans to get there; let’s hope he won’t be driving.

And an Illinois lawmaker proposes a new bill to help keep more drunks on the road. Because it’s too inconvenient for them to find some other way to get around without killing someone.

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More on the League of American Bicyclists’ 12-month study of bicycling fatalities across the US, as USA Streetsblog offers eight takeaways from the study released Wednesday, including:

  • Most fatalities occur on urban arterial roads
  • Hit-from-behind collisions were the most frequent cause of bicycling fatalities
  • Intersections are the most dangerous place for urban riders
  • Most victims were wearing helmets
  • The more people who ride in your state, the less risk you face

Vox provides their own analysis of the report.

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A moving new documentary profiles Damian Kevitt and Ghost Bikes LA to call attention to the dangers cyclists face, especially from hit-and-run drivers. At only eight minutes long, it’s definitely worth watching.

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Local

Streetsblog looks at Temple City’s new partially protected bike lane on Rosemead Blvd.

Both Milestone Rides and Boyonabike offer reviews of last week’s LA Bike Week, most of which I missed.

Santa Monica considers dropping speed limits to 15 mph near schools; then again, it doesn’t matter what the speed limit is if they don’t adequately enforce it.

Downey is preparing a new citywide bicycle master plan. They’d better hurry, as a bike rider was seriously injured attempting to cross a freeway onramp early Thursday morning.

 

State

Redlands gets a new Community Based Bicycle Master Plan, which will provide 175 miles of bikeways — a huge amount for a town of just 69,000. And a local market plans their own privately operated bike share program.

A new company plans to provide bike camping around San Luis Obispo.

Specialized finally puts their wind tunnel to good use by determining the aerodynamics of beards on bikes. Now if they’d just figure out if shaving your legs really makes you faster.

 

National

According to Forbes, American bicyclists save $4.6 billion a year by riding instead of driving; I’d like mine in cash, please. Meanwhile, Intuit explains just how that works.

A Grist writer says Idaho Stop laws infringe on pedestrians’ right-of-way; actually, cyclists are still required to yield to anyone with the right-of-way. Brooklyn Spoke says the subject is complicated.

Chicago drivers — including city bus drivers — are turning a buffered bike lane into their own traffic bypass lane.

The NYPD is back to ticketing cyclists in Central Park.

The US Pro National Championships roll in Chattanooga this Monday.

A Virginia lawyer offers advice on the eight things you should do right away if you’ve been injured in a bike collision. Seriously, though, you’d think an attorney would know not to call them accidents.

 

International

An Ottawa writer says the city doesn’t need any more bike lanes because they can’t make the climate bike friendly. Oddly, he doesn’t suggest they stop building roads due to adverse winter driving conditions.

Four hundred London cyclists stage a die-in at a notoriously dangerous intersection.

Liverpool plans to triple the number of cyclists who ride at least once a week.

A Melbourne bike rider is injured when she crashes into a police vehicle hidden by a blind curve on a bike path. The cops were targeting motorbikes and other motorized vehicles illegally using the trail, like… uh, them.

Aussie cyclists protest the country’s mandatory helmet law; ridership in Tel Aviv jumped 54% in just two years after the Israeli city revoked theirs.

Even Chinese robots can track stand, so why the hell can’t I?

 

Finally…

A road-raging New Hampshire bike rider shatters a driver’s passenger window, then takes his anger out on a nearby construction worker; no matter how angry you get, acting on it only makes things worse. A PA man posts a thank you for the man who stole his bike. And three young cyclists are arrested for speeding at a blistering 10 mph.

In 1899.

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The Memorial Day weekend means heavy traffic this afternoon as people get off work early and rush to get home and get out of town. So ride defensively and watch out for drivers today, because chances are, they won’t be watching for you.

I expect to see you all back here safe and sound on Tuesday.

 

Morning Links: Hidden danger on the Coyote Creek Trail, and the Bike League analyzes cycling fatalities

I’m just getting word of a dangerous situation on the Coyote Creek Trail in Los Alamitos.

Orange County cyclist Bob Masuzumi writes that he was riding south on the trail with a small group of riders between Wardlow Road and Los Alamitos Blvd, just before a bridge that crosses a secondary creek next to the high school.

As he tells it,

The rider in the lead didn’t realize the trail, which is poorly marked, curved away from the creek and that you had to cross the creek using the bridge.  Unfortunately, he rode off the trail and ended up at the bottom of Coyote Creek, sustaining a serious concussion resulting in 3 days in the ICU.  He was then transferred to their rehab facility from which he should be released tomorrow.  However, he will continue to receive therapy as an out-patient for an unknown length of time.

I believe that not only does it need proper markings, but there should be a fence extending from the bridge past the curve, so that other riders do not make the same mistake.  Also, a fence needs to be added on the other side of the bridge.  Currently, a rider, after crossing the bridge, needs to make a 90 degree right turn, otherwise they  will end up going down the embankment toward the high school.  This area does not seem to be very safe for cyclists at all & we believe should be corrected to prevent anything similar happening to another cyclist.

I can’t say I’m familiar with the area, even though we’ve discussed problems on the trail before. Including the fact that Los Alamitos has failed to adequately maintain its section of the pathway.

But if you know the part of the trail he’s talking about, what do you think?

Is this as dangerous as it sounds, and does it need corrective measures — or at least a warning sign to comply with state law regarding known dangers on off-road trails?

And is anyone familiar with any other riders who may have been hurt there?

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A new report from the League of American Bicyclists offers a detailed analysis of bicycling fatalities over a recent 12-month period.

We learned, for example, that a much higher percentage of fatal crashes than expected — 40% of fatal crashes with a reported collision type — were “hit from behind” incidents — that’s important to know for our education program. Not surprisingly, high-speed urban and suburban arterial streets with no provisions for bicyclists are an over-represented location — representing 56% of all bicyclist fatalities — that’s good information to share with our Bicycle Friendly Community partners.

We found important new information about why crashes happen, how they are reported, and the scope of enforcement actions taken against motorists — including common felonies charged and average sentences for 77 convictions related to bicyclist fatalities

Overwhelmingly, however, we were struck by the lack of information, the lack of action, and the lack of a sense of outrage over these deaths, even in communities where this kind of tragedy is relatively common.

It’s something I plan to dive into over the next few days. Because the better we understand how and why these tragedies occur, the more we can do to prevent them.

As they say in asking us all to call on the US Department of Transportation to demand action — and as I’ve argued many times before — there’s only one acceptable number of traffic fatalities when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Zero.

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Local

Metro honors Sweeyoke Ooi for their monthly Why We Ride series. Because, as they say, Bike Week never ends for many Angelenos. And they offer photos from their Bike Week Guided Ride Day, which evidently did. End, that is.

The Times astutely notes that it’s time to retire the myth that Los Angeles has a love affair with cars, despite what our state’s senior Senator says.

Rick Risemberg attends Sunday’s Reinventing the Wheel: the Future of Mobility in LA sponsored by Santa Monica public radio station KCRW and finds it sadly auto-focused. And out of beer.

Surprisingly, LA doesn’t make the list of the 20 most dangerous cities for pedestrians, though the Riverside/SanBernardino/Ontario region does.

Michael Wagner of CLR Effect confronts Death at the Tour of California. Twice, in fact.

I missed this one last week, as Cycling in the South Bay says being nice has nothing to do with how we’re treated on the road.

 

State

A seven-hour bike ride along the Orange County coast.

The new Napa County Bike Commuter of the Year just got back on his this January after suffering a broken leg in a dooring.

A new infographic lists the top eight American cities for cyclists. Bagdad by the Bay makes the list; LA, not surprisingly, doesn’t.

 

National

Sixteen drunk driving arrests, nine convictions, and the maximum sentence allowed under Washington law is three lousy years. This is why people continue to die on our streets.

The Las Vegas Weekly questions whether the city deserves its new bike-friendly designation. Then again, I once wondered the same about Santa Monica.

A Montana man gets five years for killing a cyclist in a drunken hit-and-run.

A Boston pediatrician prescribes public bike share to treat heath problems due to poverty.

Why teach your kid to ride a bike when you can hire a coach at $90 per lesson to do it for you?

 

International

Caught on video: A British Columbia cop goes on trial for punching a handcuffed cyclist in the face. Since when do bike riders get arrested — let alone punched — for not wearing a helmet and allegedly running a red light?

London’s Telegraph tells cyclists not to vote for an anti-bike political party. Good advice for bike riders everywhere.

Ex-Chevalier Lance Armstrong is stripped of the French Legion of Honor.

In a brilliant experiment, a Swedish city gives residents free bikes for six months as long as they promise not to drive three days a week; thanks to Daniel Blazquez for the link.

Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich injures two people in a three car crash while driving drunk at 20 kilometers over the speed limit. Then tries to pass it off by saying it could happen to anyone. Uh, no. Only someone stupid and careless enough to get behind the wheel after drinking.

 

Finally…

Yet another reason to wear a helmet, as a road-raging Oregon driver hits a bicyclist in the head with a hatchet; fortunately, the rider is okay. And police recover a Welsh cyclist’s stolen bike, but give it to someone else due to a clerical error.

But at least he got his pedals back.

 

Hell freezes over, as LA is now officially bike-friendly; let’s go for three on the 3-foot passing law

By now, you’ve probably heard what the press conference I cryptically hinted at yesterday was all about.

Not that I didn’t want to tell you.

But when someone swears me to secrecy, I tend to take that seriously.

Especially when the League of American Bicyclists releases their latest list of Bike Friendly Communities. And Los Angeles, shockingly, is on it.

No, seriously.

Councilmember Ed Reyes makes the announcement flanked by members of the L.A. cycling community.

In an announcement that few of us thought we’d ever hear, the bike league named the formerly bike-unfriendly City of Los Angeles one of the nation’s best places to ride a bike.

And the oddest thing is, for once, we actually deserve it.

This award would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. When I started this blog a little over four years ago, which was my introduction to bike advocacy, Los Angeles was a very bike unfriendly city.

There were no sharrows, few bikeways connected to one another, and the only major bike lane built in recent years unceremoniously dumped riders off with no warning in the middle of high-speed Century City traffic, just a few blocks from even more bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. And we had no voice whatsoever in City Hall or LADOT.

If we can point to any moment when that changed, it’s when a careless cab driver cut off the mayor of this city, leading to a broken arm and his Road to Damascus moment when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa saw the light and became a convert to the cause of safe bicycling in the City of Angels.

Although, to be fair, there were hints of a change in attitude when he publicly mentioned the word “bicycle” for the first time following a trip to Copenhagen a few months earlier, to the shock of just about everyone.

However, that ignores the work of long-time bike advocates like Joe Linton and Stephen Box, just to name a few, as well as the roll of the recently dormant Bikeside and the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in demanding a better bike plan and a safer riding environment.

Then there’s the work of a revitalized LACBC fighting for justice and better support for L.A. cyclists in City Hall on an almost daily basis.

Not to mention the friendly ear provided by City Council members such as Bill Rosendahl, Eric Garcetti, and Ed Reyes, just to name a few, and the support of LAPD Chief Beck in turning one of the most bike-unfriendly police departments into one of the nation’s most responsive to the needs of bike riders.

Admit it. You never thought you’d see this.

The two Bike Summits helped galvanize bicyclists — as did the Mayor’s own Bike Summit — while CicLAvia showed us for the first time what the city could be. And L.A. Streetsblog deserves a lot of credit for shining a light on bicycling and other transportation issues, both good and bad.

Let’s also not forget Wolfpack Hustle’s brilliant victory over a Jet Blue airliner. And all the Ridazz and riders who risk the streets to carve out a place for bikes on the city’s too often unforgiving streets.

This award is yours. And you’ve earned it.

One other note.

For years, LADOT and Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery have been the ones local cyclists loved to hate — Mowery especially suffered heaps of blame as the highest ranking bicycling official in the city.

But I long wondered what she could do with the actual support of city leaders, and without the roadblocks posed by senior auto-centric engineers more concerned with maintaining automotive throughput than making the streets safe for everyone.

I think the rapid changes of last few years — and this award — have given us an answer.

And reason to give her our thanks.

That’s not to say our city has suddenly turned into a bicycle paradise. Amsterdam, we’re not.

The bronze award is the lowest level the LAB bestows. It signifies the city has made significant progress, but we still have a very long way to go.

And as the L.A. Weekly pointed out, it’s hard to say the city is truly bike friendly when a full one-third of all bicycling collisions are hit-and-runs.

Then again, as the bike league’s Andy Clarke reminded me at Thursday’s press conference, I was one of the angry cyclists who demanded the LAB rescind their recognition of Santa Monica as a bike-friendly city when it was first awarded back in 2009.

And look how that turned out.

Santa Monica took that modest award, and used it as a springboard to challenge Long Beach as the most bike-friendly community in Southern California.

Maybe we’ll look back on this as the day L.A. took it’s first big step towards becoming the great city it should be. One that works for everyone who uses its streets, rather than bequeathing de facto dominance to the ones with motors.

And truly earns, not just this award, but the silver, gold and platinum levels that could come if we continue to demand and work for them.

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In an even more surprising award, the LAB named Orange County — yes, the entire county — a Bike Friendly Community as well. And like L.A., at the bronze level.

Something I’m sure a lot of OC cyclists may take as much issue with as I did Santa Monica’s a few years back, given the county’s unacceptably high level of cycling fatalities.

But maybe like SaMo — and hopefully, L.A. — this will spur them to actually do something about it.

And congratulations to already bike friendly Claremont on its promotion to the silver level.

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The L.A. Times has picked up a story from a Sacramento paper about how Jerry Browned has become the new term for cyclists getting passed dangerously close, in honor of our governor’s two-time veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing law.

And they have the infinite good taste to not only quote me on the subject, but to embed my video of getting Jerry Browned by a Hollywood tour bus.

Not that they seem to realize the same devilishly handsome and wickedly charming cyclist was responsible for both.

But there’s still that problem of a two-time veto by our two-time governor. And what the hell we’re going to do about it.

That was something that came up in conversation with other riders at Thursday’s press conference. And led to a commitment to try one more time.

If for no other reason than we should refuse to give up on something so important to our safety, regardless of what any pen-wielding curmudgeon may have to say on the subject.

Maybe this time we can demonstrate our real clout, and make it clear it’s in Governor Brown’s best interest to sign it this time, if he wants to be in a position to sign anything next term. Or maybe with the new redistricting and electoral reforms, we can get a veto-proof margin in the legislature to ensure his signature is nothing more than a formality.

The problem is, we’ve lost one of the bill’s two champions.

Senator Alan Lowenthal, who shepherded both bills through the legislature, is termed out of office, and now running for Congress in the 47th District. We could do a lot worse than electing a proven bike-friendly leader to the federal government.

That leaves the bill’s other big supporter — our own Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Chances are, he’s licking his wounds after achieving apparent victory on two separate occasions, only to have it snatched away by our non-friend in Sacramento. Or at least, I would be if I was in his wingtips.

We need to encourage him to give it one more try.

That’s why I’m asking you to contact the mayor’s office by phone or email. Or Twitter, for that matter.

And urge him not to give up on us.

Ask him to use his clout as mayor of the state’s largest city, and his connections in the legislature, to pass a three-foot passing law one more time.

Then it will be on all of us to make sure we don’t get Jerry Browned again.

Los Angeles, Orange County named Honorable Mention Bike Friendly Cities(?)

We’ll ignore the fact the Orange County is, well, a county. Not a city.

Or if you prefer, a lot of cities, even if they do tend to blend into one another at times.

But O.C. and L.A. have made the League of American Bicyclists list of Bike Friendly Cities, if only just barely. Both were named Honorable Mention, a step below the Bronze designation, in recognition of the steps each has made.

And just how far they have to go.

Los Angeles makes its claim on the basis of the new-found support from City Hall that has resulted in a widely praised new bike plan — which is just starting to result in new paint on the street — as well as the groundbreaking bicyclists’ anti-harassment ordinance.

But as Bikeside’s recent survey suggests, local cyclists face far too many unfriendly streets and drivers to deserve a higher ranking; I would read this more as recognition of the possibilities, rather than what’s already been accomplished.

Sort of like Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. And I’ll let you decide how that’s turned out.

If — and it’s a big if — the city manages to stay on course, it may legitimately deserve a bronze designation next year.

Meanwhile, someone else who actually rides there will have to address whether the collection of cities and towns behind the Orange Curtain deserves its designation.

There seems to be an unfortunate tendency to blame rude and scofflaw cyclists for the county’s unacceptably high fatality rate, including a crackdown on the victims — even though the overwhelming majority of Orange County fatalities have been the result of careless, drunk or distracted drivers, rather than lawbreaking riders.

And at least one OC city seem to have an inexplicable fear of sharrows.

But there must be progress being made; Irvine and Huntington Beach have already made the list as Bronze level cities, joining northern neighbors Long Beach and Santa Monica.

And even though SaMo’s designation was widely derided at the time — including by yours truly — they seem to be making every effort to live up to it now.

So maybe there’s real hope for L.A. and O.C., after all.

We’ll just have to wait a few years and see.

Haute couture cycling, Gov. Brown vetoes distracted driving/biking bill, GOP tried to gut bike spending

Biking goes haute couture; I discovered this bike in the Fendi store on Rodeo Drive during Thursday's Fashion's Night Out.

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Go ahead and text while you ride.

Remarkably, Governor Brown vetoes a measure that would have increased fines for the nearly universally ignored law banning the use of handheld cell phones, as well as banning handheld use while biking.

According to the North County Times,

Brown explained his decision to kill the bill on Wednesday in a brief letter: “I am returning Senate Bill 28 without my signature. I certainly support discouraging cell phone use while driving a car, but not ratcheting up the penalties as prescribed by this bill.

“For ordinary people, current fines and penalty assessments should be sufficient deterrent.”

I think the governor needs to get out of the office more. By my count — and yes, I have counted — anywhere from 25% to 50% of drivers appear to be using a handheld phone at any given time.

Brown vetoed a very good and very needed, law. Which doesn’t give me a lot of confidence regarding his support of the newly passed three-foot passing law.

However, it seems the legislature may try to override his veto. Maybe that’s something the GOP members can get behind, if only to embarrass our Democratic governor.

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The League of American Bicyclists begins the I Bike I Vote campaign to save federal funding for cycling projects from a GOP-led effort to eliminate all Transportation Enhancements. You’re urged to contact your Senator today; you can download your own IBIV graphic here.

Hopefully they can resist the right’s mad dash rush to return to the transportation policies of the 1950s.

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Another two bike thieves are behind bars; the Santa Monica Mirror shows a little levity in describing the situation police found when they were called to the Santa Monica Place mall.

When they arrived at the scene the officers spoke with the security personnel who told them that they had observed two men who had been using bolt cutters to cut bicycle locks.

This sparked the interest of the security personnel because they evidently knew that typically owners of bicycles do not do this.

Then again, make that three bike thieves.

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This is why you always see a doctor after a cycling collision.

A Memphis cyclist dies after riding home following a collision and telling his girlfriend not to call for medical help; charges won’t be filed against the driver who tried to render aid but was chased off by the rider.

If someone ever asks if you want an ambulance following a collision, the answer is yes. Insurance should pay for it — yours or the drivers; regardless, your life is worth it.

If I’d followed my instincts and ridden home after the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter, I probably wouldn’t be here today. Fortunately, the EMTs insisted I go to the ER, where they found a massive hematoma on my hip that could have bled out if I’d tried to ride home.

And yes, I’m grateful as hell.

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Streetsblog says the 7th Street bike lanes are now officially open; LACBC offers photos of the press conference. The Times seems amazed that a car lane on 7th is removed in favor of bikes, while KPCC asks if the city is doing what it should to support cyclists and bikeways. And Dave Moulton uses the road diet as an example to ask if more lanes really move more traffic.

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The L.A. firefighters biking across the country to honor victims of 9/11 should have arrived Friday. How about Safe Routes to Universities, too? Nate Baird clarifies LADOT’s confusing stats on bikeway installation. L.A. Eastside visits the new bike lanes on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. Bike friendly City Council President Eric Garcetti announces his candidacy for mayor. The Times looks at the Bicycle Film Festival on now; Flying Pigeon will be there with select children’s and cargo bikes available at a discount. Rick Risemberg says it’s time for Beverly Hills to reach beyond the low-hanging fruit. Beverly Hills Patch looks at last week’s meeting to make the city more bike friendly, which could start with bike parking if they’d stop saying no. Why the beachfront bike path is named after Marvin Braude. Slow progress for cyclists and pedestrians in Malibu. Santa Monica lays out an ambitious implementation plan to become a bike friendly city. Streetsblog examines the unique arrangement that resulted in Glendale’s Safe and Healthy Streets program, including the planned Riverdale-Maple Greenway. A bike-riding gunman robs  a Glendale woman. A Glendora cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries when he’s hit by a car; no other details are currently available. KPCC offers a great video of cycling the Angeles Crest Highway. Long Beach’s biking expats discuss trading Long Haul Truckers to tour by Brompton.

Thousand Oaks cyclists ride to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A Santa Maria cyclist is stabbed in a robbery attempt. Santa Paula cyclists are about to get a new three-mile bike trail. Chico State students protest police citations for illegal bike parking at the same time bike racks are being removed. A Bakersfield teenager is critically injured after being hit by two cars while riding in the wrong direction. Tahoe cyclists are identified as a “major problem” because they’re the victims of a large part of injury collisions; next, South Tahoe police will target local deer because they keep getting shot by hunters. The cyclist nearly killed in a collision during last year’s Sonoma County Gran Fondo is nearly ready to ride again, almost a year later.

Help Kickstart A Day in the Life with Vegan Athletes. Urbana’s industrial-strength rear rack is now available for all cyclists. A writer for the New York Times considers the lessons learned riding across the West; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Thanks to an article in the Economist, a spotlight shines on Seattle’s hazardous conditions for cyclists. Durango CO cyclists need to observe the law; you know, so they don’t offend all those drivers who don’t, either. An Idaho driver is scared to death after hitting a cyclist who must have been right in front of him; just imagine how the rider must have felt. The Missoula cyclist found dead on the sidewalk apparently died of internal bleeding after crashing his bike and hitting his chest on the handlebars. The widow of a cyclist is forced to pay court costs as a jury blames her husband for the driver’s left cross that killed him. A Milwaukee driver claims he blacked out before his car drifted across the road to hit a salmon cyclist riding in the same direction in the wrong side of the road; police say a search warrant for cell phone use is standard procedure in such cases, which should be the case everywhere. A ghost bike is reinstalled after residents complain about its removal. Using GPS data to fill in the blanks following a crash.

Courtesy of Carlton Reid, British researchers say if you want to grow cycling, ignore existing riders and focus on people who don’t ride; interesting advice, but isn’t that how we got the crappy infrastructure we have now? A UK cyclist dies when a fly flew into his eye while riding at high speed; a tragic reminder to always wear shatter-proof glasses when you ride. A minor lapse in judgment, another dead cyclist. The problem in Copenhagen is too many cyclists. Magnesium frames make a comeback; hopefully these will withstand exposure to oxygen, which seems to be almost everywhere these days. Say it ain’t so, Jeannie — one of the greatest cyclists of all time faces a ban for dodging doping tests. The Leopard-Trek – Team RadioShack merger doesn’t seem  to be going so well. Hong Kong police start an educational campaign prior to a crackdown on scofflaw cyclists. An Indian cyclist dies in a freak collision with two motorcycles.

Finally, a UK cyclist is beaten with a hammer by a motorist for riding too slowly up a hill into the wind; a police spokesman calls it a “massive over-reaction.” And a DC cyclist is intentionally hit by a driver for the crime of riding in the street.

Evidently, human compassion sometimes skips a generation.

And I notice the L.A. Weekly’s blatant misrepresentation of the new bicycle anti-harassment ordinance is still online, and still hasn’t been corrected despite a number of people repeatedly pointing out their error. I guess journalistic integrity skips a generation, too.

Is it time for a cyclists’ legal defense fund?

A few months back, someone contacted me looking for a lawyer to represent a cyclist who’d been injured in yet another of the city’s steady stream of hit-and-runs.

I wrote back asking for a little more information before I reached out to my contacts; meanwhile, they found someone to take the case. But it started me thinking that L.A. should have a referral service for cyclists who need legal assistance.

In fact, one of the ideas I intend to address with the LACBC is the possibility of creating just such a service, where cyclists could find a lawyer knowledgeable about cycling issues and with experience in bicycle law. And who would agree to accept an occasional pro bono case or offer legal advice now and then in exchange for referrals on potentially more lucrative cases.

Take my own case when I was a victim of a road rage assault.

I spent a couple of days calling one attorney after another looking for help, only to be repeatedly turned down because a) I’d given the driver the finger before she hit me, and b) my case simply wasn’t worth enough to compensate a lawyer for the time he or she would have to put in.

Although how any word or gesture justifies an assault with a deadly weapon is beyond me.

That last part I understood, though, as frustrating as it was; lawyers need to make a living like anyone else. I finally got help through one of my in-laws; but if he had charged a normal rate for the legal services he provided, I would have owed him far more than the meager amount the insurance company finally settled for.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful for the help I received, and appreciate that my attorney’s fee barely covered his expenses.

But a referral service could have put me in touch with someone who specialized in bike cases, and had a better understanding of how bikes work and how the rights we’re supposed to enjoy on the road are frequently infringed by dangerous and uncaring drivers.

Then there are cases where legal rights, rather than a monetary award, are the issue. And where a lawyer’s assistance is every bit as necessary.

Like defending cyclists ticketed for imagined violations that aren’t actually against the law.

Or take the recent case in Flagstaff AZ, where a rider was brushed by a city bus. Yet amazingly, the local authorities concluded the driver didn’t violate that state’s three-foot law because he was in a bike lane — even though the right side of that lane was blocked by snow, forcing him to ride near the traffic lane on the left.

Then there’s the case of a Massachusetts LAB-certified cycling instructor stopped repeatedly and arrested for the crime of riding in the roadway on a state highway, rather than on the shoulder. Or the Texas rider who has been cited, arrested and convicted for impeding traffic even though drivers could easily pass using the other lane, and now faces trial in another jurisdiction for the crime of riding on the roadway.

A New Mexico writer makes an intriguing suggestion that could offer a solution for cases like this.

His idea is for a legal defense fund that would be operated by the League of American Bicyclists, supported by the deep pockets of the bike industry.

As he envisions it, this would operate as sort of a legal strike force, evaluating cases for merit and importance, and providing assistance where warranted anywhere in the U.S.

The benefit for cyclists should be obvious.

As is the benefit to the bicycle industry, which would profit from the expansion in ridership that would undoubtedly follow the expansion and protection of riders’ rights.

It’s certainly worth considering.

Because our right to the road is only as good as the willingness of the police and courts to enforce it.

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Drivers often say bikes should be registered to pay for their place on the road; places that do it say it just doesn’t pay.

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More on last weekend’s StreetSummit.

Damien covers the plenary speakers (if, like me, you had no idea what plenary means, click here), and covers the Bike Plan workshop, including BAC Chair Glenn Bailey’s comments that the revised plan looks better, but still needs work.  And Gary says the time is now, let’s kick some ass.

………

Metro’s Orange Line bike study kicks off this week; there’s still time to volunteer. Danceralamode says ladies, learn to fix your own bike like she now does. Congratulations to Ted’s Manhattan Cycles in Manhattan Beach, celebrating its 50th Anniversary. A British perspective on the South Bay — aka Marvin Braude — bike path. Santa Barbara curb extensions are credited with making a key street safer for cyclists and pedestrians. A DC councilman says we’re being too easy on drivers who kill. A rider on motorized bike is hit by a car, then run over and killed by an SUV as people tried to help. U of Maryland cyclists are allowed full use of the lane, and encouraged to stay off the sidewalk. As the Witch on a Bicycle astutely points out, how can a group of cyclists impede traffic when they are traffic? It’s time to stop peddling road rage over the airwaves; maybe it’s time to ban the term avid cyclist, too. And come to think of it, bikes aren’t alternative transportation, either. Yellowstone’s snowmobile season is over, so it’s time to break out the bikes and bear spray; just don’t ride into Canada loaded for bear. You don’t have to stink after riding your bike to work. It’s time to pull on your woolies and ride. Despite the rash of cycling deaths, London’s new 20 mph speed zones are saving lives. A London cyclist is charged with involuntary manslaughter after a fatal collision with a pedestrian at a busy intersection. Brits question why bike cops need 10 hours of training before they hit the streets. Two Kiwi cyclists credit their helmets with saving their lives over the weekend. Is a person on a bike worth less than one in a car? French President Sarkozy doesn’t have to ride those darn French bikes anymore. Now that’s what I call bike parking.

Finally, Albuquerque unveils a new bike safety campaign with the theme Easy to Miss, because we are with just a little effort; an L.A. version of their 10 Things Drivers Should Know should be mandatory reading for local drivers.

The state of cycling in semi-bike friendly Santa Monica

I wouldn’t want to be a traffic planner these days.

Following the recent controversy over LADOT’s super-secret plan to remove the existing bike lanes from Reseda Boulevard — so secret, even they didn’t know about it — comes two perspectives on the fight for a share of asphalt in Santa Monica.

First, fellow bike blogger J. Haygood — whose always entertaining output has been limited lately due to a couple little somethings coming soon to a screen near you — addresses coverage of that city’s attempt at traffic calming on Ocean Park Boulevard.

As part of a pilot project, a portion of the street was narrowed from four lanes to two, with a center turn lane and bike lanes on either side. And as he notes, local motorists responded with all the road-sharing equanimity you might expect.

In other words, they hated it. And demanded a return of their God-given right to zoom down the street and run off the road any unfortunate riders who might happen to be in their way.

Though I did appreciate the person who suggested that pedestrians and cyclists move to Bermuda; as soon as I receive my voucher from the city, I’m out of here.

I just hope my non-cycling wife can join me someday.

And as if that’s not enough to drive a traffic planner over the edge, now those darn cyclists want to revoke Santa Monica’s Bike Friendly Bronze Award.

Alex Thompson — one of the area’s most respected bike activists and proud possessor of a recently minted PhD — takes both that city and the League of American Bicyclists to task for an award many cyclists, including yours truly, consider something less than deserved.

It’s not that Santa Monica isn’t one SoCal’s more pleasant places to ride. Which, unfortunately, isn’t saying much.

I do a lot of my own riding in and through the city. And it’s a breath of fresh air — sometimes literally — after slogging my way through L.A. traffic.

And it’s not that we don’t appreciate their efforts. It’s just that they have a long way to go, as Dr. Alex explains:

Santa Monica has 19 miles of bike routes, but many of those bike routes are placed on some of the nastiest roads in the West LA Metro area.  Lincoln Blvd is a notorious road, and yet three miles of it count towards Santa Monica’s 19 miles of bike route.  Having ridden the 10 and 405 freeways, I can assure you that they are preferable.  In general, a sign denoting “bike route” in the LA Metro Area is most often a sign you should take another street.

Santa Monica has 16 miles of bike lanes, but nearly all of those miles of bike lane are directly in the door zone of oblivious motorists.  The beach bike path is not in the door zone but, as LA Times transit blogger Steve Lopez wrote the day before the award was issued, for utilitarian cycling the path is rendered useless by throngs of tourists walking, rollerblading, skateboarding, and Segways.  The Main St bike lane is probably the world’s foremost producer of right hooks, crammed with streetside parking and motorists turning down side streets.  If you haven’t nearly died on Main St, you probably haven’t ridden it.

The award cites Santa Monica’s efforts to encourage, including a bike valet service and a Bike to Work Day.  However, it fails to note the efforts of the department of discouragement, also known as the Santa Monica Police Department.  Apart for its $3000 monthly outlays to police Critical Mass, which may please the VC community, SMPD has been specifically citing cyclists riding brakeless fixies, despite their compliance with California Vehicle Code.  SMPD is generally loved for their response to emergency calls, but they are nearly universally loathed for their handling of accidents between cyclists and cars, and have recently failed atrociously at dispatching with bike thieves when provided detailed and specific evidence.

Personally, I haven’t ridden the 10 and 405 freeways, or Lincoln Boulevard. But having driven all three, I have to agree that I would much rather ride the freeways if forced to choose.

I can also testify that the beachfront bike path that should be the crown jewel of Santa Monica cycling is virtually impassible in the summer months, due to a complete lack if enforcement of bike only restrictions. And despite the promises made to Robert Downey Jr., uh, I mean Steve Lopez of the Times — I get them confused now — nothing has been done to improve the situation.

So if the award is based on nothing more than the amount of cycling infrastructure in the city, I can understand it. But if they factor in the actual safety and usability of those bike lanes, paths and routes — let alone the other factors Alex mentioned — they clearly have a long way to go.

And I agree that the LAB should figure out a way to make their Bike Friendly City program a more inclusive process, and get feedback from the local cycling community before presenting any award.

Maybe they should come up with a “Nice Effort, But…” award.

I’d be the first to nominate those long-suffering Santa Monica traffic planners.

………

Next month, an evening of bikes with ex-Talking Head David Byrne. Will Campbell plans an upcoming Westside presidential ride. A cool cycling video wins first place on YouthNoise Play City. Ex-Long Beacher Russ Roca and Laura Crawford discuss gear for long tours like theirs. A review of riding rules in Tehachapi. A Santa Cruz company unveils a bike light drivers might actually notice. A horrific collision in Tucson as an apparently distracted driver takes out eight cyclists before stopping. Spend the fall cycling through a few Mountain West national parks. A comparison of cycling in Canadian cities. More on the outrage over the vehicular homicide of a Toronto cyclist. The British bicycling Baronet gets a promotion. An Arab Gulf perspective on the recent Bicycle Film Festival. Finally, Bicycle Fixation meets with the Mayor of West Hollywood; has any cyclist ever had lunch with the mayor of Los Angeles? I’m just asking…

This WTF moment, courtesy of Santa Monica and the League of American Bicyclists

Don’t get me wrong.

I like riding in Santa Monica. It’s a genuine pleasure to ride in a city that has actual cycling infrastructure, let alone where bike routes actually connect with something and you can plot out a route to just about anywhere you want to go.

Coming from traffic-heavy Los Angeles, it’s a breath of fresh air. Literally.

Still, I was surprised when the League of American Bicyclists named SaMo a bicycle-friendly city. Even if it was just a bronze.

I know the state of cycling pretty well sucks in this country. But either they didn’t consult local riders before they made their award, or the bar is set so low we’ll have to be careful not to trip on it.

Because it takes more than just infrastructure and good intentions to truly be bicycle friendly. Even for a city of less than 90,000 people that offers 16 miles of bike lanes, 19 miles of bike routes and a 3 mile beachfront bikeway.

It takes a genuine commitment to work with cyclists to encourage riding. Not government officials who refuse to meet with them to work out a compromise that would allow Critical Mass to take place without a heavy-handed police crackdown, complete with bogus — and possibly illegal — tickets.

It takes a city where infrastructure doesn’t just exist, but was smartly planned to protect the safety of riders while preserving traffic flow. It also means a commitment to enforcing restrictions on that infrastructure — or to put it another way, keeping cars the hell out of the bike lane.

In fact, Santa Monica could balance their entire city budget by placing a couple of officers on northbound Ocean Avenue. Then just ticket the drivers who blithely cruise down the bike lane for nearly a full city block between Arizona and Wilshire. I usually see at least couple such idiots every time I ride through there — even though I’m the only one using it for its intended purpose.

And don’t get me started on the way the city allows movie crews to place cones blocking the bike lanes, for no other purpose than to keep cyclists from coming within three feet of their precious trucks.

Yeah, that’s worth risking a life for.

Then there’s the city’s crown jewel, which was mentioned prominently in their press release touting the LAB award — three miles of beach-front bikeway, part of the larger Marvin Braude Bike Path.

As the Times’ Steve Lopez pointed out recently, it’s nearly impossible to ride at times due to the sheer number of pedestrians, dogs, skaters and other assorted non-two-wheeled flotsam. A bikeway on which people are often surprised to encounter cyclists, despite the “Bikes Only” and “No Pedestrians” markings every few feet. And despite the presence of a parallel pedestrian walkway mere feet — or in some cases, inches — away.

Because just like with drivers on the street, if the city won’t enforce bikeway restrictions — let alone state laws that prohibit the blocking of any Class 1 bikeway — other users will take it over and claim it as their own.

Of course, it’s not just a problem in Santa Monica. L.A.’s segment of the bikeway along Venice Beach isn’t any better. And evidently, Long Beach — another recent bronze winner — has issues of its own.

Maybe the LAB thinks things like that are acceptable for a bike-friendly city. Or maybe they’re trying to encourage cities that have made a modest start to keep improving until bike-friendliness permeates the entire city culture.

Or maybe they just didn’t ask those of us who know those city streets best.

I’ll leave the last word to Gary Se7en, in a comment he made on LAist:

I live and work in Santa Monica, live car free and ride a bike every day. It’s not that bad here. It’s not that great either, although it beats most anywhere else in Los Angeles. Maybe SM should get a copper rating instead of bronze. Also bike routes should not count for anything. Lincoln Blvd. is a bike route, Lincoln is also one of the worst streets to ride a bike on in L.A. county.


LAist covers today’s press conference about AB 766, the Safe Streets Bill. The Orange Line Bike Path finally gets a much-needed makeover, while talk of sharrows surfaces yet again in L.A.; the LACBC asks you to beg our mayor to move forward. C.I.C.L.E. promotes Bike Week in Pasadena. Connecticut considers a bill that would set aside 1% of all state and federal transportation funds to improve bike and pedestrian access. A bike-hating deputy sheriff from hell assaults two cyclists in Ohio, and a bike riding cop from Florida explains why you should stop anyway. A writer in western Colorado asks why drivers can’t give cyclists as much space as they would a horse or cow. Finally, from across the pond, a new campaign says there’s safety in numbers, while the leader of the Conservatives in Parliament has his bike stolen. Again.

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