Tag Archive for Michael MacDonald

Weekend Links: A wake-up call for Eric Garcetti, an endorsement tie in CD9, and upping the visibility arms race

Bike the Vote LA co-founder Michael Macdonald has penned a must-read Op-Ed for the LA Times, saying Los Angeles has seen too much talk and not enough action from Mayor Eric Garcetti when it comes to making our streets safer.

Couldn’t agree more.

Garcetti has done a great job setting priorities and policies for the city. But he’s done a lousy job of translating them to the real world, especially when it comes to our streets. Let alone his failure to even weigh in on street-level fights like ensuring human access on the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, or the shameful, and ultimately successful, effort to remove Westwood Blvd and Central Ave from the city’s Mobility Plan.

Let’s hope he does better in his next term.

Our lives, and the future livability of the city, depend on it.

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Speaking of Bike the Vote LA, they continue their recent string of endorsements with a tie in LA’s 9th council district between Jorge Nuño and Adriana Cabrera, saying the district has languished under current Councilmember Curren Price Jr.

And the Los Angeles Post-Examiner examines CD5 incumbent and pseudo-environmentalist Paul Koretz’s recent call to ban bikes from Westwood Blvd.

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A new waterproof cycling jacket ups the visibility arms race, with hi-viz panels for day use, and LED lights and reflective panels on the front, back and sleeves.

A new sci-fi styled bike taillight includes turn signals, crash detector, automatic brake light, and a rear cam that projects images directly to your handlebar-mounted smart phone, so you can watch your bike get rear-ended in real time.

Thanks to Zwift, riding indoor doesn’t suck as much. Even ghosts are getting in on it.

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The season’s last World Cup track cycling stage starts today at the StubHub Center’s Velo Sports Center in Carson. Although the Aussie team may have to withdraw after their bikes got stuck in Columbia.

You don’t need to read French to get the message not to celebrate your victory too soon.

Lance will finally face trial in DC this November for the feds $100 million dollar doping fraud lawsuit.

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Local

The LA Times goes fat biking in the snow.

Not surprisingly, West Hollywood has a higher rate of DUIs than surrounding cities, given the high number of nightclubs and bars in the city.

Santa Monica is throwing a party today to celebrate four park projects.

Monday will be another day of enhanced traffic enforcement in Santa Monica, as police are once again on the lookout for violations that affect bike and pedestrian safety, regardless of who commits them. So just make sure it’s not you.

The San Gabriel Valley’s 626 Golden Streets lists seven can’t miss open streets events this spring, starting with their own 18-mile event next Sunday.

 

State

San Diego’s Padres Pedal the Cause raised $2 million for cancer research.

A San Francisco supervisor commits to supporting protected bike lanes on upper Market Street, which has one of the city’s highest collision rates.

 

National

National Geographic shares bike maps from the 1890s, while questioning whether the current urban bike craze will live on.

The Denver Post says yes, walking, biking and transit are good things, but let’s not make it harder for people to drive, noting that it would take a monumental shift in behavior to get commuters to leave their cars at home five days a week. On the other hand, if people left their cars at home just one day a week, it would probably solve all of the city’s traffic problems.

Caught on video: A Chicago TV station catches a bike colliding with a taxi during a live remote.

A Detroit bike rider was the victim of second-hand lightening when a bolt struck a utility pole, causing a live wire to fall and electrocute him.

There’s a special place in hell for the jerk who mugged a 79-year old Michigan bike shop owner, stealing several hundred dollars from the shop; the victim recognized the thief as someone he had once fixed a bike for.

The good news is New York traffic deaths are down 23% under the city’s Vision Zero; the bad news is the good news doesn’t include bicyclists and pedestrians.

A Pennsylvania man got three months to five years behind bars for the drunken crash that left a bike rider with life-threatening injuries. But he wasn’t behind the wheel; he was pedaling his own bike at the time.

A North Carolina runner was impaled by a nail purposely placed on a trail; investigators have found at least 40 more four-inch nails pounded into tree roots and logs so up to an inch was sticking out. Like similar cases affecting bike trails, this needs to be treated like the domestic terrorism case it is, rather than just a dangerous prank.

 

International

Cycling Weekly says your riding habits will change when you have kids, but that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Protected bike lanes on a major Toronto street have boosted bicycling rates 36%, while increasing rush hour drive times by 8.5 minutes. However, the city believes they can eliminate that delay by making adjustments to turns, parking and traffic signals.

The thrills of playing Pokémon Go by bike on London’s busy streets.

Maybe they didn’t tip him. A Brit food delivery driver is caught on video stealing a customer’s $250 kids bike.

It’s ten years behind bars for a stoned British driver who killed a bike rider while fleeing from police.

Chinese police crack down on bike-riding food delivery people.

 

Finally…

If you’re on probation and riding your bike at two in the morning, leave your stun gun and blow pipe at home. If you have a lifetime driving ban for too many DUIs, it’s probably not the best idea to ride a gas-powered bicycle when you’re wasted.

And that’s one way to build a DIY protected bike lane.

And fix your toilet, too.

 

Morning Links: 4th Annual Resolution Ride this Saturday, local advocates nominated for Streetsblog awards

Update: The Resolution Ride has been cancelled for this weekend: 

The Resolution Ride has been postponed due to inclement weather! But don’t worry, you’ll still get a chance to continue your resolutions on our rescheduled date of February 12th! Same time, same place – and with the added bonus of happening alongside our annual Expo! This means more chances to win, more fun, more resolutions, and even more reason to come out and ride with us.
If you can’t attend the rescheduled date and would like a refund, please contact Gonzalo Garcia ([email protected]) to do so. Keep those resolutions going in the new year and come ride with us February 12th!

I’m a sucker for a good cause.

This Saturday, AIDS/LifeCycle is hosting their 4th Annual Resolution Ride in Griffith Park to raise funds the HIV/AIDS treatment programs of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

With rides of 15 and 35 miles, the very reasonable $30 pre-registration fee — $35 for day-of registration — is even more reasonable when you consider it includes lunch and music.

If the name sounds familiar, AIDS/LifeCycle hosts the hugely popular 600-mile San Francisco to Los Angeles ride each year, benefitting the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.

Here’s what they have to say about the day’s events.

WHAT:  4th Annual Resolution Ride

Join AIDS/LifeCycle for a fun bike ride to keep your New Year’s fitness resolutions going! Roll into the new year with two fully-supported bike rides (15-mile or 35-mile) and festival in beautiful Griffith Park. This annual event is for riders of all skill and fitness levels. The day includes a bike skills and safety clinic for new riders, a fitness festival with local businesses, nutritious food, and great music! Participants will have a chance to win a new bike from Just Ride LA.

Register at resolutionride.org.

The 4th Annual Resolution Ride is produced by AIDS/LifeCycle and benefits the HIV/AIDS treatment programs of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

WHEN:  Saturday, January 7, 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.                             

WHERE:  Griffith Park – Crystal Springs Picnic Area, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr.

COST:  $30 Registration Fee until January 6. (Registration fee increases to $35 on-site on January 7.)

Lunch is included.


Each rider is required to bring a bicycle, identification, and a Consumer Produced Safety Commission-approved helmet.

A limited number of loaner bikes will be available on a first-come, first-served basis courtesy of Just Ride LA. To reserve a bike, email [email protected].

For more information, visit resolutionride.org.

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Congratulations to CiclaValley’s Zachary Rynew on his nomination for Streetsblog’s 2016 Journalist/Writer of the Year; as of this writing, he’s leading with over half the vote.

You’ll also see familiar faces among the candidates for Advocate of the Year, including Bike the Vote LA’s Michael MacDonald and CicLAvia’s Romel Pascual, and Advocacy Group of the Year, where Bike SGV leads Investing in Place with LACBC.

Voting ends at noon tomorrow.

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Thirty-one-year old Belgian pro Gianni Meersman is forced to retire after discovering he has a heart condition, blocking his transfer to a new team.

Newly retired Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins attempts to follow in the tracks of Britain’s Eddie the Eagle by competing in ski jumping TV show.

American Olympic cyclist Missy Erickson talks about being sexually abused by someone close to her when she was 17.

I want to be like him when I grow up. France’s Robert Marchand will attempt to break the world senior hour record he set five years ago when he was just a wee lad of 100 years old.

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Local

The LACBC’s Colin Bogart is raising funds to go on this year’s Climate Ride, asking 200 people to donate $20.17 apiece.

Boyonabike looks back at year’s developments in car-free transportation in the San Gabriel Valley.

Time is running out to tell Metro where to put their bikeshare stations in Pasadena and Venice. Although we desperately need to come with a good nickname for them.

Ride smart in Hawthorne today, where police are conducting a bike and pedestrian safety operation, focusing on violations by drivers, cyclists and people on foot that can lead to crashes.

Chris Brown is one of us, even if he’s just riding past his fleet of luxury sports cars at his Tarzana home.

Caught on Video: Long Beach expats and famed bike travelers the Path Less Pedaled return to SoCal for a ride to the Tree of Life in the Verdugo Mountains.

 

State

A writer for San Francisco Streetsblog gets a horn-blaring punishment pass from an Uber and Lyft driver while riding in San Diego, for the crime of riding a bicycle — legally — on the street.

A suspected drunk driver faces charges after crashing into a Concord bike rider on New Years Eve.

Sad news from Elk Grove, where a bike rider was killed when he was rear-ended by one driver, then struck by another; and yes, he was riding with lights and a helmet.

 

National

Men’s Journal offers their annual bike buyers guide, with bikes ranging from $950 to $10,000.

That’s one way to get a ride home on New Year’s Eve. Oregon state police drop a bike rider off at his home after citing him for bicycling under the influence.

A Washington drunk driver will spend more than three years behind bars for killing a lightless, intoxicated bike rider.

China’s massive LeEco electronics conglomerate unveils two new smart bikes at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; both have a built-in four-inch screen with an Android operating system.

Wichita KS will spend $1.6 million to expand three bike paths this year.

Missouri police shoot and kill an armed bike rider who they suspect of being mentally ill.

A popular Indianapolis charity ride loses its booty.

A New York TV station looks at the perennial complaints about NYPD officers jeopardizing the safety of bicyclists by parking in the city’s bike lanes. So naturally, they focus on the people who think cyclists should just get over it.

Even though Savannah GA leads the state in bike commuting, the city has just two bike lanes to serve over 150,000 residents.

 

International

How to be a weight weenie.

Montreal residents are fighting a bike path behind their back yards as a symbol of densification and the direction the city is headed.

A London politician calls on the city to put plain clothes bike cops on the street to watch for bad drivers who put cyclists at risk.

Caught on video too: A Brit driver’s phone magically drops his phone from his hand when he realizes his texting is being filmed by a cyclist.

Northern Ireland’s police service says bike theft is the new car theft.

A German collector is selling his entire collection of 75 steel road bikes and frames on eBay for $35,000.

An Aussie rider describes what he saw on a 2,800 mile ride along the South Australian coast.

Another app-based Chinese bikeshare company hits the streets, putting 70,000 bicycles to work in just one month; unlike the dock-based American bikeshares, the Chinese systems use GPS to locate a nearby bike, allowing bikes to be picked up and left anywhere.

 

Finally…

We may have to deal with LA drivers, but at least we don’t have to worry about e-rickshaws. You can see a lot of things on a bike — like an alligator engaging in a death match with a Burmese Python.

And just stick it in your ear, already.

Morning Links: Buzzed by Metro Bus, blown off by Metro security, and a better Share the Road sign

This is what it looks like when an LA Metro bus passes way too close, in violation of the three-foot passing law.

And common sense.

Thanks to Don Ward and Carlos Morales for the heads-up.

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Speaking of Metro, you may recall last week Michael MacDonald wrote a guest post about being told by a sheriff’s deputy to get out of the Wilshire Blvd Bus-Only Lane.

Even though he was directly under a sign reading “Bikes Okay.”

On Friday, MacDonald, along with the BAC’s David Wolfberg, met with Metro head of security Alex Wiggins.

Suffice it to say it did not go well.

We hope to have a follow-up from MacDonald about his meeting, once he has time to think the matter over.

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Frequent contributor and unofficial BikinginLA proofreader Mike Wilkinson says he just happened to stop into his local Performance bike shop over the weekend, only to discover LACBC volunteers getting ready for next Sunday’s LA River Ride.

Volunteers from the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition were at Performance Bicycle in Long Beach yesterday signing up riders for Sunday’s 16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride. The event will feature rides from two miles to 100 miles that are meant to be enjoyed by every type of rider. The ride benefits the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Online sign ups are available through Wednesday, and there is more information on the LACBC website.

Volunteers sign up LACBC River Ride participants at Performance Bike

Volunteers sign up LACBC River Ride participants at Performance Bike

Adrian Oviedo and Sandy Brambila pose with the LACBC River Ride logo at Performance Bike in Long Beach

Adrian Oviedo and Sandy Brambila pose with the LACBC River Ride logo at Performance Bike in Long Beach

Meanwhile, CiclaValley looks forward to the River Ride.

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Bike lawyer Bob Mionske points out the real reason you need to wear a helmet: defense lawyers will use it against you if you get hit by a car and don’t have one on your head.

And Ohio Bike Lawyer Steve Magas offers an improvement to the useless and too-often misunderstood Share the Road signs.

Bikes May Be In The Way

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A driver’s training school forwards advice for young cyclists and drivers on how to safely share the road.

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Muhammad Ali may not have been The Greatest if someone hadn’t stolen his bicycle when he was 12 years old.

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Local

The LA Weekly asks if the City of Angels can really reduce the number of traffic deaths to zero, in a surprising fair report.

Richard Risemberg looks at LA’s non-network of disconnected bikeways.

A complication that could hold up the completion of the LA River bike path — and restoring the river itself — is the 400 parcels of river channel controlled by individual owners.

We already knew the former governator was one of us, as he takes a helmet-less spin in LA. So are Liev Schreiber and sons on the other coast.

Burbank residents suggest a bike lane would help beautify a sound wall along the 5 Freeway.

Santa Monica is revamping the beachfront parking lot at Ocean and Hollister Aves to reduce conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

 

State

The Daily Pilot gives a brief mention of Saturday’s memorial for eight-year old Brock McCann, who was killed by a garbage truck while riding his bike in Newport Beach last month.

The OC Register’s David Whiting looks at the ongoing conflict between mountain bikers, hikers and horse riders. Which could be solved with just a little courtesy and consideration on everyone’s part.

Napa is experimenting with roundabouts leading to the downtown area, though local cyclists aren’t too sure about the idea. Meanwhile, the victim of Friday’s fatal bicycling collision has been identified as a Napa bike commuter and advocate.

Not surprisingly, the hit-and-run driver who intentionally ran down three bike riders to culminate a Sacramento-area crime spree has pled not guilty by reason of insanity. As if a rational person would run down three innocent people just for the hell of it.

 

National

A website for Millennials offers five ways to reduce stress on your bicycle commute. Which actually make pretty good sense for a change.

USA Cycling dumps a British anti-doping expert after he calls for a re-examination EPO, asking why some substances are banned while others aren’t.

A Denver TV station breaks the shocking news that some bike riders break the law. Unlike, say, most motorists.

A group of fathers is riding 1,500 miles from Boston to Chicago by way of Baltimore to support fatherhood and raise funds for organizations that support parenting. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole the ghost bike for a highly decorated former Navel Seal who was killed while riding in Maryland last year.

A Louisiana legislator says drivers in his district shouldn’t be punished for hitting someone on a bicycle if they insist on playing in the street.

 

International

Canadian cycling champ Jocelyn Lovell has passed away at age 65, 33 years after a training collision that left him a quadriplegic.

If you build it, they will come. Bicycles now outnumber cars on two of London’s new bicycle superhighway corridors, with up to 1,200 riders per hour.

Seriously? After a British cyclist is clipped by a passing car, the local press responds by asking if bicyclists should stay off the roads. Sounds like they’ve been talking with a certain Louisiana politician.

A mountain biker in the UK was saved from a near-fatal heart attack because during a race because the riders behind him just happened to be medical resuscitation specialists.

A record 150 people from eight countries will take part a 55-mile ride from Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp to the Jewish community center in Krakow to commemorate the Holocaust.

Touching story, as an elderly Chinese woman was killed falling off her bike, and the eight stray dogs she had taken in surrounded her body to guard her for over six hours.

 

Finally…

Your next bike could have a belt drive and no seat tube — or Chinese Lacquer and no seat tube. If you’re going to pull a gun on someone who asks for his friend’s stolen bike back, get rid of the evidence. And the meth.

And if you’re going to steal a bicycle, at least put some damn pants on.

 

Morning Links: It’s Bike Night at Union Station, OC witnesses wanted, and don’t miss yesterday’s guest post

We’re stalled out once again at 24 new or renewing members of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition who’ve signed up in the first-ever May BikinginLA LACBC Membership Drive.

Which means we need just seven more people to sign up or renew your membership today to make get to 31 new members by May 31st.

So please take just a moment and invest a little time and a few dollars in making this the city and county it should be for bicyclists, by joining the one organization dedicated to fighting for your right to ride in comfort and safety, wherever you ride in the LA area.

Not to mention there’s still time to get some great LACBC swag with your membership. But only if you join before the end of this month!

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If you haven’t done it yet, take a few minutes to read Michael MacDonald’s guest post about being stopped by an ill-informed LA County sheriff’s deputy for riding in the Bus Only lane on Wilshire Blvd — right next to a sign saying bikes are allowed. Along with a couple other incidents in which police officers seem unaware of the laws regarding bike riders.

Just more proof that we have to know the law. Because the ones charged with enforcing it too often don’t.

Meanwhile, CiclaValley offers his take on the incident.

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Bike Month officially concludes tonight at with the free Bike Night at Union Station from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

This is from the event’s Facebook page —

Bike Night is more than just bikes. You are invited to Bike Night at Union Station, hosted by Metro and our partners. Join us for music from Jungle Fire, raffles and games, awesome prizes like a Public Bike, and the highlight of the evening, a bicycle fashion show. The fashion show features works by OTIS Fashion Design students under the direction of Todd Oldham, presented with a sneak preview of the Downtown LA bike share Metro Bikes.

Bike Night is free and will feature special guests, live music and entertainment, complementary bike valet, and non-hosted food trucks and vending.

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The CHP in Orange County is looking for witnesses to the tragic death of an eight-year old boy who was crushed by a garbage truck while riding his bike on Thursday. The Newport Beach neighborhood is reportedly devastated by the death of the boy, who still has not been publicly named even though his identity appears to be common knowledge in the area.

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Cycling Weekly offers five talking points from the 18th stage of the Giro, where Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk maintains a nearly insurmountable three-minute lead.

Italian pro Fabio Taborre gets a four year ban for doping.

Several members of pro cycling’s Team SmartShop are suing the team owner in Orange County Court for failing to support the team, which folded last year.

Steel frames may be making a comeback on the pro tour.

And Cycling News calls this weekend’s USA Cycling Professional Road Championships course in Winston-Salem NC a technical, hilly death by a thousand cuts.

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Local

Metro approves an Active Transportation Strategic Plan for first mile/last mile connections to transit, though the commitment to pay for it along the Purple Line leaves something to be desired. You can use their interactive budget tool to tell Metro what to do with their money.

Great idea. Give up your UCLA parking permit, and get a $400 credit towards a new bike from Helen’s Cycles in Westwood.

Cycling in the South Bay offers a primer in how and why to file a police report when you’ve been harassed, threatened or assaulted on your bike. Even if the cops really don’t want you to.

A sheriff’s SWAT team captured the man who shot a cop in West Covina last weekend when the deputy approach him as he walked his bike.

 

State

A local website looks at last week’s Temecula Ride of Silence. Meanwhile, Richmond CA bicyclists ride to remember victims of gun violence.

Newport Beach considers safety improvements on PCH and the Mariner’s Mile. Although converting the latter to a six-lane “super highway” to speed traffic flow should not be considered an improvement, safety or otherwise.

The new bike path along Highway 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties wins a state award for Bicycle Pedestrian Project of the Year.

Google funds the repaving of a four-mile stretch of a Bay Area bike and pedestrian trail.

Caught on video: A road raging San Francisco driver got out of his car to threaten and spit on a frightened female bike rider, after she became angry when he parked in a protected bike lane. Which evidently isn’t protected enough.

San Francisco plans improvements to the dangerous Masonic Drive, including raised bike lanes; the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition calls for protected lanes instead.

 

National

A Forbes writer asks for a bike brand just for women to increase the number of women on bikes, while a London bespoke framebuilder has the same idea, but one custom frame at a time.

An Illinois man used a fake check to buy a real 1957 Schwinn Black Phantom worth nearly two grand.

Hundreds of car racing fans will skip the traffic and parking hassles by biking to the Indy 500.

A Vermont website is apparently dedicating itself to ferreting out the grand AARP – World Health Organization conspiracy behind Complete Streets. Or maybe walkable neighborhoods are just part of the Agenda 21 plan to wipe out the auto industry.

Evidently, New York Bike Month plays second fiddle to Fleet Week.

Gothamist lists the six best bike rides in New York for your next trip to the Big Apple. Or maybe you’d prefer seven great places to bike in Bethesda.

A peeved Philadelphia cyclist blocks a city bus for a full hour because he felt the driver was following him too closely. Meanwhile, a Philly writer says if bicyclists had better infrastructure, there’d be fewer public displays of self-righteous moral outrage.

 

International

A Canadian writer predicts disaster when an Ontario regional government legalizes riding two abreast next year, even though the law prohibiting it was repealed because it was never enforced to begin with.

The Guardian says new London mayor Sadik Khan faces a challenge standing up to the fading dinosaurs who oppose improving bikeways and livability.

Olympic medalist Victoria Pendleton says she was forced out of bike racing by the corrosive culture in British cycling.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 99-year old British man looks back on 70 years of riding around the world.

The Netherlands is considering banning cell phone use while riding, after a 13-year old boy was killed while using his last year. But how would that affect mobile cycling apps and GPS systems?

Dutch bike maker VanMoof promises their new bike is so theft proof, that they will replace it if it can’t be recovered in two weeks after being stolen.

A 75-year old Catholic priest has put 50,000 miles on his bike serving his parish in Africa.

An Aussie study shows the further the distance cycled, the fewer women who make the trip.

 

Finally…

Your next bike could be a pedal-powered hamster. Maybe bicycling really is the new golf, at least for traffic planners.

And who needs a map when you’ve got GPS built into your shoes — or your handlebar grips?

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I’m planning to take the holiday weekend off. So get out and ride your bike. And unless there’s breaking news over the weekend, we’ll see you bright and early Tuesday morning.

And please join the LACBC or renew your membership today if you haven’t already!

 

Guest Post: Law Enforcement Needs to Understand Traffic Laws

Despite years of effort, we still have a long way to go in educating police officers on the rights of bicyclists. 

It seemed like we had solved the problem, in Los Angeles at least, five years ago when the LAPD worked with bike riders and the City Attorney to clarify the laws governing bicycling, and create a bicycle training module that all street level officers were required to complete.

Yet bicyclists still encounter officers who seem to have missed, or forgotten, that training. And as architect and bike commuter Michael MacDonald learned the hard way, we still haven’t made any progress with the Sheriff’s Department. 

lasd_interaction

By Michael MacDonald

I’m frequently the recipient of harassment, insults, and aggression from drivers who don’t understand that riding on the street is perfectly legal. Commuting by bike around Los Angeles — with little-to-no bike infrastructure within a 5-mile radius of my house, I’ve come to expect the regular rage-fueled driver. And yet as frustrating as this aggression is from the motoring public, it is even more demoralizing to receive similar harassment from law enforcement personnel. Too many officers in Los Angeles aren’t familiar with the fact that a person on a bike is perfectly within their rights to control a travel lane on almost all Los Angeles streets, and that cyclists take the lane for safety.

Before I started riding a bike in Los Angeles, I had thankfully had very few interactions with law enforcement. But then in 2013, I was detained in the back of a Sheriff’s Department squad car because 2 deputies thought that a person riding a bike on the street in Rosemead didn’t look right.

Over the last 2 weeks, motorcycle officers have twice stopped me – for riding in the street, legally.

The first incident was on returning from the wonderful CicLAvia Southeast Cities on May, 15 2016. On my way home by bike, still on a high note from the event, I took Central Avenue. Despite its lack of bike lanes, Central is a critical North/South connector within South L.A. Proposed bike lanes on Central are included in the City’s Mobility Plan 2035, have widespread community support, and are needed to address Central’s horrific safety record. But frustratingly, Councilmember Curren Price has blocked the bike lanes from being installed and is working with Councilmember Paul Koretz to try to get them removed from the Plan, so they won’t even be considered in the future.

While I was waiting at a red light in the rightmost travel lane on Central at 27th Street, an LAPD motorcycle officer approached at a rapid pace and stopped inches from me. He proceeded to aggressively explain, “This isn’t your lane – you can’t ride in the middle.” I have been riding long enough to have nearly memorized California Vehicle Code, not just CVC 21202(a)(3), but 21656, 21760, and 22400 too. I knew he was wrong. And yet his tone and demeanor made it clear this wasn’t a conversation. This was a stern demand with the threat of a ticket seconds away.

As he pulled off, I wasn’t even clear on how he expected me to ride since the lanes on Central are so narrow. I stopped and took some time to compose myself after this demoralizing experience of state-sponsored harassment. Then, I continued to ride in the middle of the lane: where it’s safest when bike lanes aren’t provided, and where California’s Vehicle Code says I have the right to ride.

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10 days later, I was again confronted with a similar situation – but this time I had my helmet camera rolling. During the Tuesday evening rush hour on May 24th, a Sheriff’s deputy pulled up alongside me as I rode in the Wilshire Blvd bus/bike lane through Koreatown (Wilshire & Kingsley). Just as before, the deputy clearly wasn’t familiar with relevant California traffic laws, but still felt the need to tell me what I was doing would not be permitted and that I would receive a ticket if I continued on.

First, as an aside, I will say that these Wilshire bus/bike lanes are so frequently filled with dangerous scofflaw drivers that it’s a tiny bit refreshing to see them actually being patrolled, and I commend Metro/the Sheriff’s Department for efforts to try to speed up the 20 & 720 buses on this route. But this deputy seems to be completely unaware that these lanes are also for the use of people on bikes, just as the lane’s signage says.

Photo of Los Angeles’ peak hour bus/bike lane signage, credit: Marc Caswell

Photo of Los Angeles’ peak hour bus/bike lane signage, credit: Marc Caswell

He started by claiming that cyclists are not permitted to use the bus/bike lane whatsoever. After I pointed out the sign ahead saying, ‘Bikes OK,’ he said that cyclists must ride the curb edge, which is dangerous and without legal basis. Finally, he claimed that cyclists are required to get out of the way of buses. Of course, how people on bikes are supposed to accomplish this feat within this tightly sized lane with no turnouts is a mystery to me.

Just to state the obvious: this deputy is wrong on all counts. First, LADOT has designated these lanes for the use of bicycles and accordingly posted signs stating “Bikes OK.” Second, there is no requirement to ride along the curb as CVC 21202(a)(3) applies, since the lane is too narrow to for a bicycle to be safely be ridden side-by-side with a vehicle, let alone a bus. Metro’s own “Bike Guide” even instructs people on bikes to ride at the center of the lane when proceeding straight. Third, there is no requirement for bikes or slower vehicles to turn-out on a multi-lane roadway. CVC 21656, the law requiring vehicles to turn out, only applies on 2-lane highways – and even then, it only is triggered when there is a queue of 5 vehicles behind.

This isn’t the first time someone has been pulled over by LASD in a bus/bike lane in Los Angeles. In 2014, my friend, Marc Caswell, was wrongly ticketed by a Sheriff’s deputy for legally riding in a bus/bike lane on Sunset Blvd. In the end, the deputy failed to appear at the hearing, so the ticket was dismissed.

But it isn’t just being pulled over. Twice last year, I was aggressively instructed by Sheriff’s deputies to ride up onto the sidewalk to let a bus pass while in the Sunset Boulevard bus/bike lane. And when I called to report Tuesday’s incident on Wilshire, the LASD Watch Commander also appeared to be completely unfamiliar that bikes might be permitted to ride in bus/bike lanes or centered within a lane.

If I have been the recipient of these types of incidents three times in the last year, how many other Angelenos have received the same dangerous misinformation, been ticketed incorrectly, or had an unwarranted traffic stop trigger other policing problems? If we are to look to officers to enforce traffic laws, it seems only reasonable to expect that they would understand the law. And, certainly, we should not accept these officers instructing people to endanger themselves by riding in an unsafe way just to speed up motor vehicle traffic.

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It’s obvious to me at this point that LADOT, Metro & the Sheriff’s Department need to sit down and get on the same page about bus/bike lanes and the Vehicle Code. There is a simple fix: Sheriff’s Department deputies, who are acting on Metro’s behalf, need to understand the laws they are sworn to enforce. Since these patrols are funded by Metro, the Agency has the responsibility to ensure that these deputies are performing enforcement in compliance with Metro policies.

The bigger picture is that all L.A. law enforcement needs to step up their game on bikes. I am not suggesting special treatment, just that officers take some time to better understand the laws they enforce. Different departments have made some commendable strides, recognizing that cyclists belong on the street and don’t deserve extra scrutiny beyond that which is applied to motorists. But we are well past the point where any law enforcement officer patrolling L.A. streets has an excuse to not be familiar with the fact that people are allowed to ride bikes in the street and legally afforded options to maintain their own safety.

The City, County, and State all have ambitious goals to increase bicycle commuting to increase public health and reduce greenhouse emissions. To paraphrase a friend of mine: People are not going to be attracted to cycling as long as you need to be a traffic law expert – capable of citing Vehicle Code chapter, line, and verse – just to ride on L.A. streets.

We need law enforcement to get on board. And fast.

……..

South Los Angeles-based architect Michael MacDonald is a frequent bike commuter and a steering committee member of local advocacy group, Bike The Vote L.A. His architectural practice, Studio MMD, provided design for Street Beats, one of 8 project teams awarded by the Mayor’s Great Streets LA challenge grant program to re-envision Los Angeles streets.

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