Tag Archive for Melissa Balmer

Morning Links: Crowdfunding for new bike book, ‘tis the season for bike giveaways, and a call to ban bikes

A new crowdfunding campaign is raising funds to publish a new book about the growth of bicycling in the US, by Jay Walljasper and Pedal Love’s Melissa Balmer.

Here’s what she had to say.

This book tells of the David & Goliath showdown between the U.S. Bike Movement and the National Highway Lobby in in 1997 + 1998 which saved and expanded federal funding not only for bicycling, but walking and public transit too, and set the stage for biking to flourish into the future.

It’s also a story about the real people heroes who’ve transformed their own lives by bike and are helping others and their communities do the same. People like Megan Ramey + BIKABOUT Monica Garrison + Black Girls Do Bike Barb Chamberlain Gandy Charlie Jonathan Maus + BikePortland.org Cynthia Rose + Santa Monica Spoke Renee Yvonne + Deb Hubsmith + Safe Routes to School National Partnership Maria Boustead + Po Campo Gail Copus Spann + League of American Bicyclists Marin Tockman + Robin Lennon Bylenga + Pedal Chic Kellie J Morris Kit Keller Deana Acklin Andy Clarke Jeff Miller Claudia WaskoSarai Snyder + CycloFemme Maria Sipin + Multicultural Communities for Mobility Walk Bike Places Anne Poarch • Poetry + Basket & Bike Tamika Butler, Dave Snyder + California Bicycle Coalition and more! To make this book happen we need your financial support too! Our perks start at just $3 and everyone who supports this campaign gets thanks in the book: https://igg.me/at/surprisingpromiseofbicycling.

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‘Tis the season.

LA City Council President Herb Wesson’s team builds 1,000 bicycles for South LA students.

Dozens of kids in Santa Maria received new bikes thanks the local Elks Lodge, the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and other nonprofits.

Thirty-three San Jose kids got new bikes from a nonprofit organization.

Marin County firefighters have collected 210 bicycles for kids affected by the recent North Bay fires.

Kindhearted Utah cops buy a new bike for an eight-year old boy after his was destroyed by vandals.

A West Virginia boy fulfills an anonymous little girl’s wish and gives her a bicycle.

A Virginia sheriff’s department has launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy a bicycle for a special needs kid.

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A writer for a financial paper calls for banning bicycles, saying bike lanes take up more space than they free up, cause pollution and drain public finances.

All of which are easily disproved with a little research.

But evidently, he’d rather settle for what the voices in his own head tell him that look it up himself.

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This is day eleven of the 3rd Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive.

Help keep SoCal’s best bike news coming your way with just a few clicks by using PayPal. Or by using the Zelle app that is probably already in the banking app on your smartphone; send your contribution to ted @ bikinginla dot com (remove the spaces and format as a standard email address).

Any donation, in any amount, is truly and deeply appreciated.

As an added bonus, frequent contributor Megan Lynch will provide a free download of her CD Songs the Brothers Warner Taught Me to anyone who makes a contribution during the fund drive. If you’ve already contributed and would like a copy, just email me at the address above and I’ll forward it to her.

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Local

A letter writer in the LA Times says using infrastructure to slow drivers down would be a boon to all who use our roads without a car, while another says road diets are behind the recent increase in pedestrian fatalities — even though numerous studies shows they slow traffic and improve safety.

The LA Auto Show currently under way at the convention center features a few ebikes and e-scooters, as well.

The LA city council moves forward with plans to establish a bike traffic school in lieu of paying traffic fines, just like drivers have done for decades. So topless comedy bike schools can’t be far behind.

Bike thefts are down in Claremont, despite a spike for the holidays.

 

State

A 39-year old bike rider was critically injured in a Fullerton collision Friday evening.

A pair of Santa Barbara men have started a new ebike company, and will donate a new road bike through World Bicycle Relief for every one sold.

 

National

A LinkedIn writer says might as well face it we’re addicted to cars.

Caught on video: A father saves his son from a certain crash while teaching him to ride a bike. And the internet freaks out because the kid wasn’t wearing a helmet.

A health website offers the answers to every awkward bicycling question your relatives are likely to ask at Christmas. Or Chanukah.

People for Bikes says no town is too small for quality bikeways, as a Washington town of just 20,000 people builds a neighborhood bikeway, aka bike boulevard. Unlike, say, Los Angeles.

Tragic news from Las Vegas, where a Good Samaritan was shot and killed after attempting to chase down an armed robber on his bike.

According to a local TV station, a Milwaukee holiday bike ride either had dozens of bicycling Santas, or 2,500. Just a slight difference there.

An Indianapolis man entertains people stuck in traffic by riding his bike backwards.

A road raging Connecticut bike rider faces charges for chasing down a speeding driver and spitting in his face; the road raging driver faces charges for running him down in response.

Speaking of road diets, not a single bicyclist or pedestrian has been killed on New York’s infamous “Boulevard of Death” since a road diet was installed three years ago; 186 people had been killed on the street in the prior 24 years. Maybe someone should show that to the Times letter writer.

Here’s your chance to ride across Louisiana in the company of five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault. Who still has his trophies, unlike a few American ex-Tour winners we could name.

The UPS ebikes have spread to Fort Lauderdale.

Designer Paul Frank has put his unique stamp on 200 Orlando FL bikeshare bikes.

 

International

An Ontario man gets 180 days for punching bike shop employees who refused to return the stolen bicycle he was trying to sell; he was already on probation for sex crimes.

A new report shows London’s protected cycle superhighways carry five times as many people as the roads they’re next to.

A London writer says the problem with dockless bikeshare is expecting others to learn how to share.

Don’t believe everything you read on social media. A British man is out the equivalent of $134 after ordering an ebike he saw in a Facebook ad. Seriously, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The UK’s transportation agency says bike-only lanes could save hundreds of lives in Scotland.

A Welsh man takes his first bike ride in 20 years — a 1,000-mile jaunt to Spain.

A Dublin letter writer says bicyclists are at the bottom of the traffic pecking order.

An Irish paper remembers a bike-riding dog from the 1950s.

An Indian father has ridden his bike nearly 1,000 miles looking for his disabled 11-year old son who disappeared six months ago.

An Aussie driver gets a $400 fine for buzzing a bike rider who he says abused him. Because really, it’s so easy to abuse someone who’s safely ensconced in two tons of steel and glass.

A Japanese man is riding his bike around Taiwan for the fourth time to show his thanks for the country’s support following Japan’s 2011 earthquake.

A letter writer says dockless bikeshare can help make Singapore a cycling city again.

 

Competitive Cycling

Giro d’Italia officials made Israel happy by removing a reference to West Jerusalem from its website; Palestinians, not so much. And no, Chris Froome won’t get a two million euro start fee, after all.

An ex-Marine from Ohio has reclaimed his world record by riding 415.2 miles in 24 hours on a fixie, as he gears up for next year’s RAAM.

A Portuguese man living in Wales set five new world cycling records in 24 hours, just a few months removed from living on the streets.

A cycling website interviews former pro Phil Gaimon about his new book.

If you’re going to dope, don’t break up with your supplier; US mountain biker Jenna Blandford gets a four-year ban after she was turned in by a spiteful ex-boyfriend.

 

Finally…

Your next bike shorts could be more connected than a New Jersey wiseguy. Probably not the best idea to speed past orange cones and construction workers to jump an open trench.

And if you already have an outstanding warrant, don’t ride your bike drunk.

Or get hit by a car, for that matter.

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On a personal note, my wife finally came home from the hospital yesterday, making this officially the best Monday I’ve had in a very long time. Thanks to everyone who has sent their support during these past weeks.

 

Morning Links: Mar Vista Great Streets success, 6th Street safety open house, and road rage around the world

My apologies for yesterday’s unexcused absence.

My hard drive cable failed just as I was finishing yesterday’s post. Fortunately, I was able to get it replaced, and recovered most, though not all, of what I had written.

As a result, today’s post includes news from both days. So grab your favorite beverage and settle in; we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

And come back tomorrow, when we’ll have even more bike and safety news we couldn’t squeeze into today’s post.

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It’s working.

Despite the claims of road diet opponents, the three-month safety stats show the Venice Great Streets project in Mar Vista is working exactly as promised, with collisions, injuries and speeding down, while resulting in what should be an easily tolerable delay in rush hour traffic.

Which should put the debate to rest, but probably won’t.

Meanwhile, a new Toronto study shows what Mar Vista has to look forward to, as controversial separated bike lanes on a downtown Toronto street have significantly improved safety, while boosting business in the surrounding area.

Like Mar Vista’s Venice Blvd Great Streets Project, Toronto faced near-constant demands from drivers to remove the Bloor Street bike lanes, as well as merchants angry over the loss of parking spaces.

It’s been successful in Toronto.

And it will be in Mar Vista, if local leaders can fight off the demands to remove them.

Thanks to Norm Bradwell for link to the Toronto study.

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Speaking of traffic safety improvements, CD4 Councilmember David Ryu is hosting an open house on Saturday, October 21st, to discuss the desperately needed changes to 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea.

As we’ve noted before, even though the Mid City West Community Council has voted unanimously to support lane reductions on 6th, Ryu has dragged his feet on the project, despite his oft-stated promises to listen to the local community.

He has suggested an alternative that would keep two lanes in each direction, while adding left turn bays at several intersections and removing parking spaces near intersections.

This would actually have the opposite effect of the safety improvements the local community has been begging for, speeding the flow of traffic rather than slowing it, while increasing the risk to bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as drivers.

It’s important that everyone who uses the street in any way, or cares about traffic safety, attend to if you can to demand a safer 6th Street.

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Long Beach bike advocate and Pedal Love founder Melissa Balmer teamed with Minnesota writer and consultant Jay Walljasper to author a new study on the Surprising Promise of Bicycling to be released today.

The study focuses on the “untapped demographic potential, growth of bike share and infrastructure, the deepening influence of grass roots advocacy,” as well as the promise of ebikes.

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Today’s common theme is road raging drivers.

And bike riders, too.

An Arkansas man faces charges for crashing into a man on a bike — evidently intentionally — then threatening him with a machete, apparently because the rider sprayed a couple dogs with a water bottle when they chased after him.

Witnesses say a driver appeared to intentionally cross over the yellow line to smash into Georgia teenager as the boy signaled for a left turn on his bike.

The Chicago bike rider who was hit with a drum by a road raging driver — after smashing the man’s rear window with his U-lock — has started a crowdfunding campaign to get his damaged teeth fixed.

An Ohio lawyer could face disbarment for brake-checking a bike rider and smashing his cellphone in a road rage incident.

Evidently, there’s no shortage of road rage in Asheville NC. Police are looking for a bicyclist who allegedly hit a driver several times with his helmet, kicked him, and stole his eyeglasses and $80. This comes just two weeks after a driver was caught on dashcam video punching a cyclist.

A London cab driver tells a bike rider to “go back to f***ing Poland” or wherever he’s from after the rider complains about the driver stopping in a bike box.

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We’ll catch up with a long list of bike events tomorrow, but I want to mention just a couple today due to the tight timelines.

Bike SGV is hosting the BEST Ride: Bike Art Night Pasadena tomorrow night, offering a free two-wheeled tour of the Pasadena art fest with stops at several venues.

And AIDS/LifeCycle is holding a pair of Kickoff AIDS/LifeCycle 2018 rides starting at Balboa Park this Saturday, to officially start training for next year’s 545-mile ride down the California Coast. You can choose from rides of 14 or 43.7 miles, with a free lunch provided for registered participants.

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Local

In what’s just the latest multimillion dollar settlement due to the city’s dangerous streets, the LA city council voted to pay $15 million to a man who suffered permanent brain damage due to a substandard Hollywood crosswalk. That’s $15 million they could have used to fix several dangerous intersections, instead of paying for not fixing one.

Paramedics at LAX will now make their way through the terminals by bicycle.

Volunteers are needed for the tenth annual Long Beach bike count.

Sports Illustrated reviews the new book Draft Animals from LA’s own former pro Phil Gaimon.

The SGV Connect podcast remembers Bike SGV staff member Brian Velez, who passed away unexpectedly last month. A memorial ride will be held in his honor this Sunday.

 

State

Governor Brown once again pulls out his veto pen to strike down a bike bill, negating a law that would have required the California Department of General Services to expand an employee bikeshare program it currently runs for staffers in Sacramento to other departments, and other areas of the state.

Goleta considers building a separated bike and pedestrian path through the city.

The very cool new Johnny Cash Art Trail officially opens in Folsom this Saturday.

San Francisco is preparing to issue permits to an e-bikeshare operator, portentially violating the non-compete agreement they have with Ford’s GoBike.

Oakland explores a new approach to fixing a dangerous intersection with paint and bollards, by adding bike lanes and a widened median for pedestrians, in just ten weeks for a mere $30,000. The result has been a 7% drop in speeding with no decrease in median speeds, and a whopping 86% increase in drivers stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

A seven-year old Oakland bike shop provides local youth with job training and affordable transportation.

A Marin writer questions the wisdom of reopening a closed-off tunnel for bike and pedestrian use.

A new study from UC Davis shows that many trips that could be made by foot, bike or transit are now being made by Uber and Lyft, adding to the congestion on our streets.

 

National

Doctors call for cities to do more to keep bike riders and pedestrians safe, as the US faces its biggest jump in traffic deaths in 50 years.

If you’ve spent much time walking or riding a bike, you may be surprised to learn that traffic engineers have an ethical duty to protect public safety, which they’ve too often ignored. Okay, maybe shocked is a better word.

Yes, it is possible to ride a bike from the airport in major cities around the US, including Los Angeles.

An article in Bicycle Times calls bicycling the ultimate social sport.

No irony here. A Nebraska bike rider was hit by a car on the way home from a bicycle safety meeting; needless to say, the driver wasn’t ticketed.

A retired Wisconsin legislator says the state’s governor is no friend to bicycling.

A pair of Detroit men have been arrested for at least three separate daylight abductions and sexual assaults of women as they rode their bicycles. Let’s hope they get thrown into a deep pit for a very long time.

An Indianapolis man entertains passing drivers by juggling and riding his bike backwards in a parking lot.

Massachusetts’ abolition-themed 1854 Cycling Company hires recently released inmates, giving them a second chance in life; the owner grew up in South Central LA.

New York police are targeting people on bikes, rather than focusing on the operators of more dangerous vehicles.

Lawyers are challenging a recent New York Vision Zero law making right-of-way violations a misdemeanor offense; three judges have found the law unconstitutional on the grounds that people can’t be held accountable for violations they don’t know they’re committing.

There’s a special place in hell for the guys who tried to jack a New York bikeshare bike from a 13-year old Hasidic boy; police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

Delaware is now officially the second state to authorized the Idaho Stop law, allowing bike riders to treat stop signs as yields on two-lane streets.

Officials say a proposal to build a bikeway alongside a North Carolina freeway could reduce congestion while boosting the local economy.

There is something seriously wrong when a soldier can receive multiple Purple Hearts on four overseas deployments, only to be killed in a collision while riding a bicycle back to his Georgia base; he was an advocate for wounded vets through the Operation Enduring Warrior program.

 

International

This is what happens when people who ride bicycles get involved in the political process, as both major candidates in Montreal’s mayoral election court the bike vote. Unlike, say, Los Angeles, where bicyclists should be a major political block, but aren’t.

A writer for a Canadian university says traffic laws apply to those cocky cyclists too, while apparently confusing the rate of fatalities caused by bicyclists with those caused by motorists.

An independent commission has urged London’s mayor to be bold in reducing congestion and air pollution, and create transportation system centered on walking, bicycling and transit.

A British bike rider has been jailed for three weeks for crashing into a four-year old kid while riding brakeless.

Britain’s Chris Boardman offers a ten-point plan to enjoy bicycling in your middle age. I can shorten that to two points: 1) get on your bike, and 2) ride it.

A councilmember in Bengaluru, India has demanded that the city fix the streets and make it pothole-free within 15 days. Let us know if it works; I know a few other cities that could use it.

A writer for the Nikkei Asian Review says a simple formula can reflect the affluence of a country by measuring those who ride a bike because they choose to, as compared to those who ride because they have no alternative.

 

Finally…

No, attaching a flashing light to your helmet will not ward off magpie attacks. Forget Pinarellas and Conalgos; if you really want to impress the guys on your club ride, show up on a gold-plated Giant.

And your new $4,000 BMW ebike would offer as much torque as a small car.

Okay, a very small car.

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A special thank you to Linda Campbell for her generous contribution to help support this site. Or maybe to the BikinginLA computer repair fund.

 

The terrible tyranny of two-wheel tribal wear

One day last winter, I found myself riding Downtown to attend an early morning press conference.

And something I’ve learned in recent years is that the press likes to talk to people who look like their preconceived notions of a cyclist.

It doesn’t matter if the guy next to you is the head of a bicycling organization, a professional cyclist or someone who’s been riding for decades. If he or she is dressed in street clothes and you’re in spandex, you can expect the camera in your face.

Since there were things I wanted to say on the day’s subject, I put on my best road gear and set out on a rush hour ride to City Hall.

On the way, though, I noticed an interesting thing.

Despite the chilly early hour, there were a lot of other riders on the road.

Some, like me, were dressed in spandex. Many of whom nodded in my direction as they passed, acknowledging me as one of their own.

Others were clad in jeans or business attire, apparently on their way to work or school. And not one of whom seemed to take any notice of me, as if we were members of two separate species.

More interesting, though, was what happened later that same evening as the situation was reversed.

I had a business party to attend that night, starting just after working hours. And since it was located in an office building on Wilshire Blvd, in an area where parking is virtually non-existent — or unaffordable — during the evening rush, I concluded that riding was once again the most viable option.

So I threw on my jeans and a button-down shirt, along with a semi-professional looking jacket, and set out along the same route I’d taken earlier that day.

Except this time, the situation was reversed.

Many of the bike commuters I encountered threw a brief nod in my direction; a couple even struck up a conversation as we waited for red lights to change.

Yet the spandex-clad riders I passed hardly cast a glance in my direction. The way I was dressed marked me as a member of another tribe.

And that, my friend, is when it finally sank through my thick helmet-covered skull.

I was exactly the same rider on both the morning and evening rides. I was on the same bike and riding the same way. Let alone the same direction.

But I was seen in a completely different manner by different people, strictly because of what I was wearing.

The clothing we bike in isn’t just what feels comfortable as we pedal to our destination, or what will be appropriate once we get there.

It’s what connects us to others like us, identifying us as members of our own cycling tribe. And more importantly, what separates us from all the other self-selected cycling tribes, whispering — or sometimes shouting — in the unmistakable language of bicycle fashion, I’m not like you.

And probably don’t want to be.

Divide, and self conquer.

No wonder we can’t even present enough of a unified front to get the governor to sign a damn three-foot passing bill.

Too often we’ve seen the spandex crowd turn up their noses at the fixie riders in our midst. Or the cycle chic and citizen cyclists, to borrow a phrase or two from Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic fame, criticizing those who insist on donning specialized bicycling attire instead of regular street clothes, let alone helmets.

Or haute couture and drop dead heels, in some cases.

Then there are the women who wonder why they should have to dress to the nines just to ride a bike. The hipsters who wouldn’t be caught dead wrapped in a skin-tight logo-covered road jersey.

And the great mass of casual riders who just want to go for a bike ride, and don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Or even that there is a fuss.

Of course, there are reasons for what we wear.

When I first started riding, I saw no reason to wear anything other than the T-shirt and cut-off jeans I wore for any other physical activity.

Until a couple of more experienced riders explained that bike shorts and jerseys actually made for cycling would dramatically cut down on the wicked wind resistance that wore me out before I barely got going. Not to mention eliminating those aggravating sweat and chafing issues, while offering the support necessary to help ensure the existence of any potential future generations.

If you get my drift.

And so I rode for over twenty years; eventually the concept that I could ride in something else, even for a quick trip to the market or out for coffee, lost in the deep dark depths of bike days long past.

As my fellow cycling advocates and colleagues can attest, it took me a couple years of riding to various meetings — and the embarrassment of usually being the only one sitting through them just a stretchy microthread’s-width away from near nudity — before I worked up the courage to bike in regular clothes like they did. And dress for the destination rather than the ride.

It just seemed oddly foreign to me after all those years in spandex.

Just as it would to many fixie or casual riders to wear the brightly colored skin-tight attire most roadies wrap around themselves before they hit the road. Even if they would likely be far more comfortable on long rides, as I learned myself so many years ago.

Now I still wear spandex for long, fast rides demanding physical exertion. And jeans and casual shorts and shirts — some made for bicycling, some not — for transportation and more relaxed riding.

The bottom line is, clothes don’t make the bike rider.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how you ride, what you ride, where you ride, or what you wear. Especially not what you wear.

The only thing that really matters that you ride.

The rest is just details.

And once we finally figure that out, once we realize that the one thing that links us all together is more important than all our tribes and differences, we’ll be a social and political force no one can resist.

Not even Jerry Brown.

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On a related subject, Melissa Balmer of Long Beach-based Women on Bikes SoCal offers a must-read look at women, bicycling and cycle chic — and whether bike advocacy has to make room, not just for all the many types of women who already ride, but all those who might want to.

If we don’t agree with one and other’s approach could we step back and and try and understand where she is coming from rather than attacking first? Is there something we could learn from each other? Could we find the places where we agree and be cordial in our agreeing-to-disagree where we disagree? If we become known as a movement of great diversity yet united in our good will towards getting women and girls on bikes won’t we be much much stronger and powerful for it?

Seriously. It’s an important topic for anyone who cares about bike advocacy and reaching out to women — and potential bike riders — of all sorts. And not just because she mentions me in it.

So read it, already.

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