Tag Archive for Mark Elliot

One last chance to fight for Santa Monica bike lanes in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills

Please forgive the short notice; I’ve been a little under the weather today.

Okay, maybe a lot.

But there’s a meeting tonight that could make a huge difference for the safety of cyclists forced to ride through decidedly bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. As well as encouraging more people to take to bikes and relieve the near 24/7 traffic congestion through the city.

If city officials actually care enough to listen, that is.

Tonight is the final meeting of the Santa Monica Boulevard Blue-Ribbon Committee, formed to weigh public input before making a recommendation on how to proceed with the planned reconstruction of the former famed Route 66 through the city. Including proposals for bike lanes, which have bizarrely been placed in opposition to a planted center median.

Even though, as Better Bike’s Mark Elliot makes clear, the roadway could easily accommodate both.

The inexplicable opposition to bike lanes was made clear when the consultant hired by the city dropped an unexpected “preferred option” that included widening the roadway to include a center divider and an ultra-wide 16″ right lane.

But no bike lanes, even though they could easily fit within the widened street.

As Elliot explains, that appears to be intentional. The design, an effort to discourage riders on the newly designed street by preventing them from legally taking the lane. And the timing, an effort to short circuit the public process and jam through a design that maintains automotive hegemony on a street that belongs to everyone.

Keeping bikes from besmirching their precious little enclave of the overly entitled.

So let’s make no mistake.

Bikes — and pedestrians — can easily be accommodated in the reconstructed roadway at little additional cost, providing a street that benefits everyone, safely and efficiently. And connects with bike lanes in Century City to the west and West Hollywood to the east to create a complete bikeway through most of the Westside.

The alternative is a short-sighted decision that discourages bike riding at a time when it is rapidly growing in popularity, and when alternatives to automotive transportation are desperately needed.

Especially in traffic-choked Beverly Hills.

They can make room for bikes, and take a modest step in improving the situation. Or be cursed by future leaders and city residents who will have no choice but pay the high price to correct their error at a later date.

And failure to include bikes on the street would only invite the sort of lawsuits city leaders have used themselves to fight other projects, including the planned Subway to the Sea. Particularly when it flies in the face California’s Complete Streets policies, as well as such overwhelming public support.

The meeting takes place this evening starting at 6 pm at Beverly Hills City Hall. Be there if you can, or fill out the online comment form.

As for me, I’ll be home nursing sick head.

But I plan to be at the Beverly Hills City Council session next month when the city formally decides on how to move forward. And whether to slide back into the Biking Black Hole they’ve only begun to tentatively step out of.

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Speaking of Elliot, thanks for his recent call for donations to help support my work here at BikinginLA, among other deserving organizations. With the redesign of this site and the move to an advertising and sponsor-supported model taking much longer than anticipated, I can use all the help I can get.

If you do make a contribution based on his recommendation, consider giving part of it to support Better Bike. Mark Elliot has been relentless in fighting for your right to ride in a city that has been far less than welcoming to us.

Update: Thanks to Vanessa Gray and Danila Oder for the generous donations.

A UPS SaMo minor bike lane miracle, and Sunday Funday Beverly Thrills fun was had by all

I’m a firm believer in miracles.

I’ve learned over the years that they tend not to occur with a parting of the skies and a booming voice from above, but in small ways that you might not even notice at the time.

Like the Venice Blvd cab driver who pulled out from the curb too quickly, and set Mayor Villaraigosa on the path to unexpected bicycle advocate.

But I never expected one to come in the form of a Twitter comment from UPS.

Recently, I’ve had my fill of UPS drivers parking their big ass brown trucks in the bike lanes on Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. Something that seems to be happening with increasing frequency in recent weeks, forcing riders to share a lane with dangerously distracted, beach-air addled drivers.

So when it happened once again on Friday, I stopped to take a photo. And when I got home, tweeted my frustration to the world, never expecting a response.

Yet that’s exactly what I got just moments later from UPS Customer Support. So at their request, I followed up with an email, including a close-up of the truck’s license plate.

About an hour later, I was on the phone with a local representative, who promised me that the problem would be dealt with promptly. And that they would speak with local supervisors and dispatchers to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

We’ll see.

But UPS earned some real respect for genuine customer service. And to a non-customer, no less.

It may not be a real miracle, even if it seems that way. But if more companies dealt with complaints that promptly and efficiently — or even just gave a damn — it would be a much better world.

And that really would be a miracle.

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Will Campbell and John Wayne at the beginning of the ride; Will is the one on the bottom.

Allow me to offer my personal thanks to Will Campbell and special guest Mark Elliot for a truly thrilling Beverly Thrills Sunday Funday ride this past weekend.

Along with Greg Laemmle, Colin Bogart, Eric Weinstein, Niall Huffman, Carol Feucht and designated Tweeter Joni Yung for their contributions to ensuring a safe and enjoyable ride for everyone.

Not mention everyone who showed up to ride.

Or rather, especially everyone who showed up to ride.

Will offered a fun, insightful and entertaining tour of the biking black hole of Beverly Hills, starting with the very street where he learned to ride a bike (mumble mumble) years ago. And extended past the soon-to-be exploding Beverly Hills High School to sites such as the homes where gangster and Las Vegas founder Bugsy Siegel met his ignoble end, and Marilyn Monroe and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio shared a whole nine months of connubial bliss.

The only downside was the Beverly Hills cop who decided to welcome us to their fair city by using his loudspeaker to order everyone to ride single file — which not only isn’t required under California law, but would have inconvenienced the exceptionally light vehicular traffic even more by stretching the 40 – 50 riders out over several blocks.

On the other hand, even though we were cruised by several other patrol cars over the course of the ride, the only other contact we had with the BHPD was a friendly wave in passing.

Mark Elliot shares his remarkably in-depth recap of the ride, and Hap Dougherty offers his typically great photos of the day.

And Will himself offers an exceptional timelapse video cutting the four hour ride down to a very fast and entertaining 11 minutes; don’t miss the rapid-fire notations in the upper right.

Seriously, it’s more than worth the click.

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A preliminary hearing opened Monday for the two men charged with killing developmentally disabled cyclist Jordan Hickey in National City last year. According to testimony from a friend, Humberto Galvez and Juan Gomez bragged about murdering Hickey, reportedly picking their victim at random and shooting him three times with a shotgun as he rode.

Just for the fun of it.

Hickey’s mother understandingly lost control during the testimony and had to be escorted from the courtroom.

There’s not a pit in hell deep enough for these two alleged psychopaths.

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LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega reports on what he calls L.A.’s best year ever for bicycles.

The 2011 – 2012 fiscal year saw 76 miles of new bikeways, nearly double the number the city committed to in the bike plan adopted last year. That includes 51 miles of bikeways, 21 miles of sharrows and 4 miles added to the Orange Line bikeway, as the city starts to see the beginnings of an actual bike network.

The most intriguing part, for me at least, was acknowledgement that LADOT is shifting from a historic focus on maximizing automotive throughput to a more complete focus on all forms of transportation.

Can the former department of automobiles really help the city of Angels evolve into the type of metropolis that embraces cyclists, pedestrians, and transit?

We think the answer is an unequivocal “yes”.

LADOT is committed to making Los Angeles a place where cyclists are safe and city streets make room for bicycles.

We’ll wait for Joe Linton’s analysis of just how accurate the city’s claimed mileage actually is. But just looking at L.A.’s new and improved streets suggests that LADOT is more than fulfilling their promise.

And that things really have changed in the department local cyclists have long loved to hate.

Meanwhile, the department presents their progress to the City Council Transportation Committee, and improves signage to help cyclists stay alive during the Riverside Dr. bridge reconstruction.

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Mark Cavendish pulls another Tour de France stage win out of his hat, while Spartacus keeps the yellow jersey. World time trial champ Tony Martin steps up to stage 2 despite a broken hand. And evidently, 22-year old Peter Sagan really is that good, the youngest stage winner in nearly 20 years.

Once again, however, we should note that only Americans with names that start with L — LeMond, Lance and, briefly, Landis — have won le Tour.

Which means Levi Leipheimer remains our best hope for victory.

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People for Bikes reports on the new federal transportation bill that dramatically cuts funding for bike and pedestrian projects. They won’t say it, but let’s remember which of our elected officials attacked cycling and/or sold us out, and cast our votes accordingly in the fall.

Meanwhile, PfB staffer Kate Powlison is among the five women riding the entire Tour de France course one day ahead of the men. Their stated goal is to inspire women to ride more often, and encourage people everywhere to tackle dreams that seem impossible.

Maybe so.

But hopefully they’ll also inspire professional cycling to open more doors for women, either by a vastly improved women’s tour or by opening top level professional teams to female riders.

You can’t tell me that the best women aren’t as good or better than many of the men who fill out the support roles.

And might even kick some ass if given the chance.

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Tomorrow marks L.A.’s can’t miss bike sale with the annual 4th of July Blowout Sale at Helen’s in Santa Monica and Arcadia. And just a few blocks away, Cynergy Cycles is extending their No Tax sale through the 4th.

Any other big bike sales we should know about this week?

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Flying Pigeon offers tongue-in-cheek advice — at least I hope it’s tongue-in-cheek — on how to take your vehicular cycling to the next level. Sunday’s Peace, Love and Family ride catches the eyes of local residents. Richard Risemberg reviews the Bromptons they took to Denver. LADOT kicks off the environment impact reviews that will determine if 43 miles of projected bikeways will ever be built. The LAPD reports on a four-month old biking under the influence arrest that left a 50-year old rider injured; something tells me there’s more to the story if they’re bringing this up after so long. Beverly Hills police let a road raging driver off the hook. New bike lanes appear in El Sereno. East Side Bike Club is hosting a 4th of July Ride to see the fireworks in Alhambra. Over at CLR Effect, Michael encounters an unpleasant odor that isn’t the rider next to him, and notes that Glendora Mountain Road will be closed to motor vehicle traffic on the 4th of July, allowing for an unofficial high country ciclovía.

Readers respond to OC Register columnist David Whiting’s recent column calling for more courtesy on multi-use trails. An Orange County florist gets attention with a bicycle through the store’s front window. More on La Mesa cyclist Nicola Grossi, who lost 120 pounds in just two years of riding before dying in a solo collision on Saturday during the Climb to Kaiser ride. San Francisco bike corrals transform 30 parking spaces into 336 spaces for bikes. The Santa Rose Press Democrat says patient, defensive riding is the key to bike safety; they’re right, of course, but only because too many motorists can’t be bothered to do the same.

American cyclist and former model Dotsie Bausch overcomes anorexia to complete for the U.S. cycling team in the London Olympics. You can now get bike insurance if you live in the Portland area. A Utah man stabs a cyclist and a steals his bike; police find the bike in the laundry room of the thief’s building. Denver authorities crack down on scofflaw cyclists — including ticketing a rider for not putting his foot down on a stop, which isn’t illegal. A 90-year old Eau Claire driver kills a cyclist while driving on an off-road bike path; thanks to Witch on a Bicycle for the link. A Lancaster NY cyclist is killed by a dump truck; I usually pull off the road when I find one behind me, since they scare me as much as anything else on the road.

In shocking news, a Canadian study finds off-road mountain biking can be dangerous, and that bears often defecate in forested areas. Evidently, cowardly, murderous hit-and-run bastards aren’t just an American phenomenon — which is one word I have never spelled correctly in my life. Irish authorities consider a plan to fine parents if their children don’t wear helmets. A London lawyer is left with life-changing injuries after his skull is fractured when he’s hit in a crosswalk by a serial red light running cyclist, proving that not all bastards are on four wheels. While other traffic casualties have dropped, serious cycling casualties and pedestrian deaths have spiked in London. A new sign design warns cyclists about the dangers of big trucks. What if roads were designed the same way bikeways are? David Hembrow says the right to ride on any roads may not always be in cyclists’ best interests. Dutch police commandeer a tractor to chase down three bike thieves.

Finally, a deeply offended neighborhood watch group calls on L.A. to ban the annual Naked Bike Ride. Maybe if they didn’t watch so closely, they wouldn’t be so offended.

And just in time for the 4th, here’s your new bike anthem for the summer.

Let’s be careful out there this week. The period around the 4th is traditionally one of the most dangerous times for SoCal cyclists. Ride safely and defensively, so you can enjoy a lifetime of Independence Day riding.

Bicycling says we’re sort of bike-friendly; Better Bike’s Mark Elliot bounces off a Beverly Hills SUV

Let’s make it a Tuesday news day.

So settle back with your favorite libation and catch up on all the bike news that fits.

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Bicycling magazine names their top 50 American bike-friendly cities.

And in a very surprising development, L.A. makes the list at 32, just ahead of Thousand Oaks at 38, and behind Long Beach at 19. Not surprisingly, Portland leads the list at number one, followed by Minneapolis, Boulder and newly bike-friendly Washington DC; New York City comes in just before San Francisco at seven and eight, respectively, while my hometown just misses the top 10 at number 11.

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Best wishes to Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who was hit by an SUV in Beverly Hills on Saturday, just days after getting screwed by the city’s auto-centric Traffic and Parking Commission. Fortunately, Mark says he’s okay. But warns ominously that it might be you next time.

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Robert Gesink wins the Amgen Tour of California just eight months after breaking his leg in four places in a training accident. Will Campbell shows just how fast the Amgen riders passed by. Aussie cyclist Robbie McEwen retires at the end of the Tour of California. LACBC offers photos of the final stage, which began in the biking black hole where Mark Elliot nearly got his ass run over. And once again, a feared carmageddon fails to materialize.

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If you’re only going to click on one link today, make it this one, as a writer explains how not to kill a cyclist. And then forward it to every driver — and cyclist — you know.

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Flying Pigeon needs help moving to their new location on Tuesday and Wednesday. An Eastside bicyclist was injured after falling through a manhole after thieves stole the cover. Adonia Lugo and Allison Mannos question whether the urban poor and communities of color are being left behind by eco developments. Riding from Watts to Long Beach on a Friday night. Mayoral candidate and current CD13 Council Member Eric Garcetti has a new website. A UCLA study says excessive cycling could interfere with male reproductive health — and give you man boobs; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. New signage and pavement markings on the Santa Monica section of the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path could ease conflicts between cyclists and beach-going pedestrians. Long Beach urban planner Sean Warner says rational arguments supporting biking infrastructure may not be enough.

Two Fontana teenagers are being sought for shoving two children off their bikes and stealing them — the bikes, not the children. A Redlands rider is shot while on his bike Saturday night. Los Olivos hosted the California State High School Mountain Bike Championships over the weekend. A 54-year old Campbell cyclist is injured when a 17-year old unlicensed driver attempts to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space she was in at the same time. Nearly 1,200 Tahoe cyclists attempt to set a record for single-file riding; almost three times that many are expected for the area’s 21st annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride on June 3rd.

The Bike League is now tracking bicycling fatalities on a national level, just as I’ve been doing in SoCal; preliminary results show over a third of all bike-related collisions were hit-from behinds, followed by failure to yield (18% drivers, 10% cyclists). Riding a bike to work could cut your tax bill, as well. The bike writer for my hometown paper says education is more important than more bike lanes. A Lafayette LA cyclist disappears riding home from a night out. Bollards are almost always a failure of good bikeway design — especially when they go in for no apparent reason. Charleston SC proposes a 32 mile bikeway crossing eight bridges. Dave Moulton says it’s time to opt out of the culture of speed.

A Halifax writer says cyclists deserve more respect and better infrastructure. A UK writer asks if adults are mature enough to share the road with children; good question. A British publication asks if the war between motorists and cyclists will ever end — or if it really exists. Free bicycles help keep Indian girls in school. A Singapore cyclist is found dead of unnatural causes along a trail.

Finally, an Aussie writer has had it up to here with people saying cycling is being spoiled by anyone on a sports bike. And a rider in Mississippi is reunited with his dog after three months in a coma following a collision.

Beverly Hills steps up — and stumbles badly — in their attempt to accommodate cyclists

First watered down, then at least partially down in flames.

Over the last year or so, the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has consulted with cyclists to develop a bike route pilot program.

And those cyclists have chaffed under a process that seemed designed to reduce participation, while imposing so many restrictions on the end result that hit hardly seemed worth the effort.

In the end, the ad hoc committee working on the program recommended five pilot bike routes that seemed to offer only a slight improvement over nothing at all. Which, oddly, is exactly the amount of bicycling infrastructure the city currently offers.

Then the city’s Traffic and Parking Commission proceeded to shoot two of the five routes off their low-hanging branch. And did it using the same old half and non-truths typically employed by anti-bike forces who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Like bikes impede traffic. We don’t belong in residential neighborhoods. We don’t deserve safe infrastructure — or even the modest improvements the plan called for — because cyclists run stop signs.

Never mind that traffic flow could be improved and the streets made safer if some of those stop signs were removed.

And members of the commission even asked whether placing sharrows on streets like Charleville would give riders a false sense of security. As if we could somehow forget that we’re riding in a city full of self-entitled motorists who believe they actually do own the road.

As Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who has lead the Sisyphean task to make bikes more welcome — or even welcome at all — on the city’s streets put it, cyclists ended up with just three-fifth of half a loaf.

Which is better than nothing, I suppose.

But it does raise the question of why cyclists would bother to support the Rodeo Drive start of the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California in a city that so clearly doesn’t support us.

Or why the Tour of California would start their race in such a bike-unfriendly city to begin with.

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Speaking of the Tour of California, Liquigas-Cannondale’s Peter Sagan overcomes a flat tire in the last five minutes to win the first stage; clearly, he and teammate Vincenzo Nibali did not come to California to take a stroll.

In other proc cycling news, the first Canadian to wear the pink jersey continues to lead the Giro d’Italia. Road.cc documents the day in Verona when U.S. cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney lost the leader’s jersey after suffering a bad ankle injury in a crash just days earlier.

And the witch hunt continues as prosecutors go after Lance’s former team manager Johan Bruyneel.

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It’s the first day of L.A. Bike Week, with a full slate of rides, activities and Bike to Work pit stops scheduled throughout the week.

Or as they call it in Beverly Hills, Monday.

If you’re curious about biking to work this week, you could do a lot worse than brushing up on this bit of advice from KCRW chief engineer Steve Herbert.

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The Times says bicyclists and pedestrians are remaking the city’s classic boulevards, as people demand more bikeable, walkable and livable streets. Writing for Momentum Magazine, Rick Risemberg asks if Los Angeles is a cyclists’ paradise regained. A cyclist is seriously injured after falling off a trail into a canyon in Porter Ranch. Long Beach ups the bike-friendliness a notch with new bike lanes and sharrows in new areas. A Carlsbad company trades bike to work for biking instead or working. The 75-year old Santa Cruz cyclist who was killed after going over his handlebars has been identified; and yes, he was wearing a helmet.

AAA and LAB team up to promote bike safety. A writer for my hometown newspaper says bike lanes add economic value; someday I hope to go back and ride those 38 miles of off-street trails and 112 miles of bike lanes myself. A Texas cyclist is recovering after being hit by a red light running state trooper. The Broward County FL sheriff’s department mistakenly says the first rule of bike safety is wearing a helmet; actually, it’s riding safely so you won’t need one.

Audi and Specialized team up to build a 50 mph ebike prototype. After getting laid off, a British Frisbee champion plans a 4500 km ride to Istanbul. A camera happens to catch it all as a black-clad woman rushes up to attack a bike riding man; is it just me, or does that camera placement seem just a tad too convenient?

Finally, a writer makes a very apt comparison between cycling and battered wife syndrome.

And in case you missed it over the weekend, you can find a much longer list of links here.

On a personal note, a personal childhood hero passed away Friday, when one of my older cousins sat down after mowing the lawn, closed his eyes for a nap and never woke up. Dick had been a champion open-wheel racer in the 60’s; his lifelong claim to fame was passing his rookie test at Indianapolis, then just missing qualifying for the Indy 500. His unsponsored, self-financed car may not have been fast enough to make the cut, but how many people can say they made the attempt on a set of tires borrowed from A.J. Foyt?

Rest in peace, cousin.

Universal says no to bikes, Bob Mionske points the finger, Mark Elliot intelligently refutes John Cassidy

City Watch looks at Universal’s refusal to allow an extension of the L.A. River Bike Path and river revitalization efforts through Universal City.

As far as I’m concerned, until that changes, their plans for expansion should be dead in the water.

In fact, until they become friendlier to bikes and their riders — on and off their property — they shouldn’t get the time of day from the city of L.A. And every cyclist in L.A. should oppose their plans.

.………

Bob Mionske says the official explanation for the NYPD’s over-the-top vendetta against cyclists pegs the BS meter, and points the finger squarely at NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly.

Meanwhile, New York streets may be safer than ever, but the battle rages on. The Century Road Club Association offers a form letter to fight back against New York police targeting Central Park cyclists.

And Mark Elliot of Better Bike Beverly Hills offers a very intelligent, highly detailed refutation of anti-bike New Yorker columnist John Cassidy; it’s a long read, but definitely worth the time.

.………

In the third part of her excellent bikenomics series, Elly Blue says that investing in bicycle infrastructure leads directly to increased physical activity, which leads to lower healthcare costs and reduced mortality. And the more people who are riding, the safer everyone becomes.

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The L.A. Business Journal says if you drive, bike or motorcycle on the streets of L.A., you probably have broken teeth or a swollen tongue from all the potholes on the street, noting that just 3% of city streets are in good condition. Why does L.A. make it so hard just to park your bike and spend a little money? A Santa Monica writer say drivers aren’t as courteous and alert as they should be, so give cyclists a little extra room. The Long Beach Post looks at the funeral and memorial services for bike advocate Mark Bixby, who “lived an extraordinary life.” KABC-7 offers advice on getting back on your bike; although I’d think advising riders to use lights after dark would be more effective than recommending reflective tape. A really crappy press release announces events around the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling on May 1st. A new bridge will close a gap in a popular bike path around San Diego’s Mission Bay. The Soldier Ride helps give a wounded vet hope. In typical fashion, San Mateo County releases a bike plan full of gaps and disconnected bikeways.

A team of HIV-positive riders will compete in this year’s Race Across America (RAAM). Former framebuilder Dave Moulton looks at proper leisure riding position, while a bike shop worker says maybe most roadies are riding with the wrong handlebars — or maybe the wrong bike. Steve Vance says cargo bikes are American cycling’s newest sub-subculture. Bicycling asks how you would vote on the charges alleged against Lance Armstrong if you were on the jury. Presenting the 10 most popular bike commuting cities; and no, L.A. ain’t on the list. Tucson’s second successful Cyclovia pleases everyone from 6 months to 70. After 80 years, the Empire State Building finally adds a bike storage facility. If you’re visiting New York, you need to know what transit systems you can take your bike on and when. DC’s M-street needs a road diet. Maryland moves to make negligent drivers who kill subject to misdemeanor manslaughter. A new bike safety video from LAB and the NHTSA is a little simplistic, but hits the right notes.

The UK’s Transport Minister finds £836,000 laying around for bike projects. Britain’s traffic jams decrease as gas prices rise and drivers switch to bikes and walking. London Cyclist offers a rave review of the Strida folding bike; yes, you can find one in L.A. A detailed look at the conflict between the desire for Dutch-style infrastructure and what’s actually achievable. Oxfordshire road deaths increase 20% after speed cameras are shut off. Fabian Cancellara looks like the favorite for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders. A recent Aussie study shows that tensions between cyclists and drivers result from impatience, fear and fright, levels of expectations and differing levels of awareness. A South African cyclist gets punched by a Dr. Thompson wannabe. Japan’s 9.0 earthquake shifted transportation paradigms in favor of cycling. Not every woman wants a pink bike.

Finally, a great read from the UK on why cyclists don’t own the road, we just rent it. And the European Union wants gas-powered cars gone from Euro cities by 2050, while the Brits want nothing to do with it; the UK’s Transport Minister says it’s no more likely than rectangular bananas. But before you write it off as just another pipe dream, remember a lot can happen in 39 years; in 1972 we were still listening to 8-tracks, the personal computer hadn’t been invented yet and phones were still wired into walls.

Rolling down Rodeo Drive and the best of the Westside with the LACBC last Sunday

Some of the riders before the start, including the Spoke's Cynthia Rose in the purple top; photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

Okay, so it turned out to be a very long ride.

When I mapped out a route for the I ♥ the Westside ride, the second in the LACBC’s new series of Sunday Funday rides, I rode the 28 mile route in about two hours without breaking a sweat.

So I added another hour to my estimate to allow for a series of five minute stops to discuss different cities and issues along the way. And then added another half hour just to be safe, and assumed everyone would be on their way home to watch the Super Bowl commercials by 1:30.

Paul Backstrom discusses the proposed Main Street road diet in Venice

Like the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

What I hadn’t counted on was the need to stop — repeatedly — when riders were cut off by traffic or red lights. Not mention an unexpected encounter with the Sweet E’s Bakeshop truck in Culver City.

I learned a long time ago never to come between cyclists and their cupcakes.

In the end, we got back to our pier-side start point over an hour after what I thought was a very generous worst case scenario.

Rick Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation discusses native plants on Ballona Creek

On the other hand, we made it without a single flat or mechanical problem. And everyone who started out either made it to the finish with the rest of the group, or left along the route to meet other obligations.

That alone made it a successful ride in my book.

I also learned that leading a ride is a lot like hosting a party — you spend so much time looking after everyone that you barely spend time with anyone.

There were a lot of great people that I didn’t get to spend as much time with as I wanted. And some I didn’t get to meet at all, much to my regret. In fact, 42 riders started out, including four new members of the LACBC who signed up that morning.

An unexpected Culver City food truck encounter made it a very sweet ride

And everyone seemed to have a great time, myself included. Then again, any day on a bike is a good day, and the perfect Westside weather and great guest speakers just made it that much better.

We started off with a brief presentation from the LACBC affiliate Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose, who offered a brief overview of the many projects the Spoke is working on to make L.A.’s city by the bay live up to it’s bike-friendly status.

After a brief jaunt down Main Street, I asked if anyone could tell me when we left Santa Monica and entered Los Angeles; not surprisingly, almost everyone was able to pinpoint the exact spot where the bike lanes ended, the road widened to two lanes and traffic sped up.

Jim Shanman discusses the work of the recently formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition

That lead to Paul Backstrom from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office speaking for a few minutes about the proposed road diet that would tame the L.A. section of Main, by creating a mirror image of the Santa Monica stretch. He noted that the city is working on solutions to move the bike lanes that would result out of the door zone, which has been fairly criticized in the original plans.

As we rode up Ballona Creek, Rick Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation and one of the city’s leading bike advocates, volunteered to talk about the native plants and rest area that had recently been installed along the bikeway, as well as a water filtration system designed to keep pollutants out of the bay.

Bikes roll down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

When we got to Culver City, Jim Shanman spoke briefly about the efforts of the newly formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition and their work on the new Culver City bike plan. And invited everyone to come back to participate in the LACBC-affiliate group’s next monthly Family Ride on the 27th.

One of my first thoughts in planning this ride had been that I wanted to see bikes rolling down Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Bentley-choked Rodeo drive. But I regretted that I hadn’t had time to reach out to Mark Elliot of the group Better Bike Beverly Hills — yes, yet another LACBC affiliate — to join us on the ride.

Mark Elliot talks about Better Bike Beverly Hills' work to make the city friendlier to bikes

So while we were stopped in Culver City, I asked if any of the riders were from Beverly Hills. When one man raised his hand, I asked if he was involved with the BBBH.

He introduced himself as Mark, and said “I founded it.”

That was how I finally met Mark Elliot, one of my personal heroes among local bike advocates, if only because he’s taken on one of the hardest battles in the L.A. area.

So when we got to Beverly Hills — which currently lacks a single inch of bike lane — Mark spoke about the work his group has been doing to transform the Westside’s bicycling black hole into something more ridable. Including the group’s efforts to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure Santa Monica Blvd to make it, not just safe for cyclists, but actually inviting for the countless riders who now go out of their way to avoid it.

I talked about the decline of Westwood and biking through the VA; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

At our stop in Westwood Village, I spoke briefly about the decline of one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, and my personal vision to turn Westwood Blvd into a pedestrian walkway from Wilshire to the UCLA campus. We also discussed the new Veterans Administration master plan and the importance of regaining bike access through the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which was closed to bikes after 9/11 — evidently because of the threat that bicycles would pose to all the people buried there.

LACBC Executive Director Jen Klausner talks about the perils of riding and walking in Brentwood

Finally, Jen Klausner, Executive Director of the LACBC, spoke about the dangers that cyclists and pedestrians face in the Brentwood area, as well as the lack of adequate infrastructure to protect them from the dangerous behaviors and sense of entitlement displayed by many Westside drivers.

In the end, it was a great day, combining a fun, beautiful ride with an overview of local advocacy.

LACBC board member Alex Amerri (in white) will lead the next Sunday Funday ride March 6th

And it sets the stage for next month’s Sunday Funday #3, in which fellow board member Alex Amerri will lead a fast-paced 62-mile ride through the north San Gabriel Valley.

And riders on that one probably won’t have to worry about the group being broken up by red lights.

My thanks to everyone who turned out for the ride, especially Cynthia Rose, Paul Backstrom, Jim Stanman and Mark Elliot for their help in discussing the issues and opportunities for bicycling on the Westside. And special thanks to the LACBC’s Jen Klausner, Joni Yung, Alex Amerri, Greg Laemmle, Carol Feucht and Martin Lopez-lu for making it a success.

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Photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

 

Harry Dougherty offers a great set of photos from Sunday’s ride — definitely better than my feeble attempts and worth the click to take a look.

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LAB calls on Colorado cyclists to support proposed legislation to fight the Black Hawk bike ban. I’d go a step further and encourage any cyclists to write in to support the legislation; Colorado’s economy depends on tourism, so your opinions on the misguided ban on bikes that could affect your decision to visit the state matters.

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The LACBC notes that a second workshop will be held Thursday night on the proposed redesign of the South Figueroa Corridor that could result in the city’s first true Complete Street, incorporating real pedestrian and bike access.

And don’t forget Wednesday’s 2:30 pm joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Committees at Downtown City Hall to consider the city’s draft bike plan; this is the last public hearing before it goes to the full Council for approval. At the moment, it looks like illness will keep me away, but I urge you to show your support if you can make it.

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Kids, don’t try this at home! A cyclist was injured in a collision with a Blue Line train on Monday. According to authorities, he was holding onto a moving bus while wearing headphones and turned into the train when he let go.

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Long Beach finally eliminates their illegal bike licensing law. A driver sticks her neck out to support the Wilbur Ave road diet (scroll down). RSVP now for a free bicycle inspection and safety check workshop at the Bike Oven Wednesday night. The city’s first bike corral will be officially unveiled Friday morning in front of Café de Leche in Highland Park. CicLAvia invites you to help extend its route into South L.A. Flying Pigeon blogger Mickey Wally offers more of his great urban cycling photos. Green LA Girl talks with Jessica Meaney of Safe Routes to Schools. Car-less Valley Girl asks drivers not to mess with the balance on the street. How to contest a bad police collision report. Charlie Gandy talks about Long Beach’s bike-friendly successes in Corona del Mar. Tracking San Francisco’s most dangerous streets for cyclists. The Bay Citizen analyzes two years of bike collision data, and finds riders responsible for most wrecks — with the chief cause pedaling too fast. Huh? Now this kind of harassment from a passing car I wouldn’t complain about.

Dave Moulton says learn something from DC’s Swanson case, and don’t let matters surrounding the death of cyclist Ben Acree in San Diego last weekend drag on for three years. Better food and bicycling could be the cure for childhood obesity. If there’s a war on cars, then why are so many of the victims pedestrians (and cyclists)? Portland authorities search for the hit-and-run schmuck who ran down a stage 4 cancer patient. A Seattle lawyer jumps head-first into the Great Helmet Debate, concluding skid lids leave a lot to be desired. A Washington woman wins a lawsuit against REI for a defective bike part one day after she died in a backcountry accident. A Minneapolis study clearly shows the rate of bike crashes goes down as ridership increases. New York cyclists are up in arms over a citation to a rider for not wearing a helmet — even though that’s not illegal under New York law. A HuffPo writer urges a backlash to the New York anti-bike backlash. More than half a million New Yorkers ride more than once a month, but the Daily News hasn’t seemed to notice; makes you wonder what other stories they might be missing.

Brit blue-eyed soul singer Adele rides a bike. Pro cyclist Riccardo Riccò is hospitalized with kidney failure after allegedly botching a transfusion in an attempt to kick-start his comeback from a 2008 doping ban, while TdF winner Alberto Contador plans to fight the relative slap on the wrist Spanish authorities are reportedly planning to give him. Somehow, people shocked! shocked! to discover the windshield perspective of the host of the BBC’s top-rated Top Gear show; BBC radio is starting a 10 part series on the history of the bike.  L.A. cyclists have to contend with big ugly cars, while Dutch cyclists have to worry about big friendly dogs. The 2012 Olympic road course will finish with a sprint ending at Buckingham Palace; no word on whether the Queen’s corgis will be in attendance.

Finally, a non-bike related conclusion as a motorcyclist’s helmet cam shows exactly what it’s like to get rear-ended at stop, but without the pain, courtesy of Cyclelicious. Will Campbell plans a train-assisted March March through the real Eastside along historic Whittier Blvd; knowing both Will and Whittier, this one you won’t want to miss.

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