Tag Archive for Patrick Pascal

A call for a bike friendly DTLA, Bike Snob takes on Chicago honker, and Coronado declared bike friendly

LA cyclist Patrick Pascal writes to say he was disappointed that he was out of the country for last week’s CicLAvia.

Until, that is, he discovered he was just in time for Spain’s equivalent in Madrid the same day.

Madrid riders celebrate car-free streets; photo by Patrick Pascal

Madrid riders celebrate car-free streets; photo by Patrick Pascal

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LA’s DT News makes a mostly accurate and insightful call for a bike friendly Downtown.

The website cites opportunities like the Spring Street Bike Lane, CicLAvia, bike trains and the needlessly controversial MyFigueroa project, as well as the need for more bike lanes and bike racks at buildings in Bunker Hill and the Financial District.

It’s a good piece, and one I hope city officials pay attention to.

Just a couple of minor quibbles.

While wearing a bike helmet may be smart, it’s not required for anyone over 18.

And when riders get furious at drivers who honk at drivers for going too slowly in traffic, it’s not the bike rider who’s the problem.

Drivers have to accept that bicyclists have a right to the roadway, just as they do. And that shared lanes — which is every right hand lane not next to a bike lane — means they have to be patient and pass when it’s safe to do so.

Not lay on their damn horns until riders get the hell out of their way.

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Bike Snob adroitly dissects the recent column by Andy Frye, the jerk ESPN and Chicago Sun-Times columnist who complained about getting flipped off when he gave a cyclist a “light toot” on the horn.

For anyone else tempted to give a bike rider a friendly honk on the horn, don’t.

Just don’t.

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Coronado is the latest SoCal city to be named to the Bike League’s list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, at the same Silver level as Long Beach and Santa Monica.

Outside of Southern California, West Sacramento and Eureka gain Bronze designations, while Menlo Park and Calistoga move up to Silver.

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LA City and County leaders call for a regional bike share program, rather than the Balkanized system we seem to be headed for. The Times says LA streets have to be made safe for cyclists, starting with the potholes; a road divot that would be a minor inconvenience to a motorist can be life threatening for someone on a bike. And speaking of road divots, the Times offers up opinions from bike hating drivers, as well as cyclists and more rational motorists, on whether California should adopt an Idaho Stop law. Glendale councilmember and former mayor urges Mayor Garcetti to slow traffic on the Hyperion-Glendale bridge project. Rather than fix a dangerous intersection near Universal, Metro plans to spend $27 million to raise pedestrians out of the way of rampaging traffic; hey Tom LaBonge, a bike lane on Lankershim might help tame traffic and make the bridge unnecessary at a fraction of the cost. LADOT announces a new program to repurpose LA Streets. A look at LA’s 4th Street non-bike boulevard. The LACBC voices its support for the most inclusive plan to restore the LA River; this weekend’s Found LA Festival along the river includes a bike ride hosted by the LACBC, ending at the Golden Road Brewery. Redondo Beach adopts a Living Streets policy, including a planned two-way cycle track along North Harbor Drive.

Red Kite Prayer talks with famed framebuilder Richard Sachs. Bike Newport Beach says it’s time to fix the deadly free right turns that turn city streets into virtual freeways; you know, sort of like LA is proposing for the Hyperion-Glendale bridge. A Newport Beach couple is arrested for biking under the influence and public drunkenness after the husband falls off his bike. Davis CA reduces the fines for bicycling violations. Because you’re mine, I ride the line; yes, I would totally ride Folsom’s planned Johnny Cash Trail. A professional cyclist with the Leopard-Sapporo cycling team is critically injured when she’s collateral damage in a Los Gatos traffic collision.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says bicycling with your kids is too risky; so do we keep kids from riding or make our streets safe for them? Your next bike lock could be controlled by your smart phone. Maybe it’s time to stop sharing the road. A road raging Seattle driver is charged with assault with a deadly weapon after purposely slamming into a cyclist, while a Seattle bike rider gets his stolen bike back a year later, a little worse for wear. A bicyclist with 16 heart stents and a pacemaker is riding from San Diego to Florida — and that’s after being shocked back to life by firefighters nearly a decade ago. Looks like my hometown won’t be adopting an Idaho Stop Law after all. A Mexican national whose feet were chopped off by extortionists plans to bike 670 miles across Texas in a ride for justice. Neither cyclists or motorists can seem to figure out new bike lanes in Cedar Rapids. A New York bike documentary says cars are the real enemy. A New York bike rider pays forward the kindness of a cycling Samaritan. The city’s famed Plaza hotel files suit over a block-long bike share rack, calling it an eyesore.

Bike Radar looks at the best lights for road bikes. A look at the world’s most dangerous highways. London cyclist gets ticketed for stopping outside a bike box because a car was blocking it. London’s first bicycle superhighway is called an accident waiting to happen following the death of a cyclist. Texting while bike riding is putting UK children at risk. Paris reclaims a roadway alongside the Seine from motor vehicles. A Zimbabwe rider is stabbed to death after accidently bumping into the wrong guy. The Bangkok Post says don’t promote cycling until bike lanes are in place to make it safer. An Aussie rider sets two long distance records for riding backwards.

Finally, in today’s wildlife report, an apparently prescient rooster — yes, rooster — saves a woman from taking a header when her handlebars fail. It looks like bike-hating deer may be trashing a memorial to a fallen bike rider. And at least all we have to worry about here are road raging drivers, rather than rampaging anti-bike bulls.

Win a $25 Performance gift card, celebrate To Live and Ride in LA, and watch your ass on Angeles Crest

For once, it could actually pay to read this blog.

Starting today, the singularly named Performance Bike is holding what they describe as the biggest sale in their 29-year history. And to celebrate — and yes, get a little publicity — they’ve offered me a $25 gift card to give away to one of my readers.

According to their press release, everything in their stores will be on sale, as well as everything on their website, with doorbuster specials offering up to 70% off. The sale runs through Sunday, June 26th; and takes place in all of their local L.A.-area stores, including, presumably, the new Long Beach store.

And while you’re at it, you might want to like them on Facebook, for those of you who, unlike me, actually like Facebook.

Now, about that contest to win a free gift card.

Here are the rules:

I’m planning to go out for a bike ride on Wednesday. All you have to do is guess how far I’m going to ride; closest guess to my actual final mileage wins the $25 gift card from Performance Bike.

Simple, right?

Of course, the catch is, even I don’t know how far I’m going to ride.

To give you a clue, I’ll be riding from my home in Westwood to the coast, then along the beach and back. I live almost exactly 7.5 miles from PCH, so that’s a minimum of 15 miles right there. And exactly where and how far I go after that will depend entirely on my mood, the weather and how far my legs will carry me.

Just leave your best guess in the comments here; I’ll contact the winner by email, so be sure to use a valid email address. And to give everyone a fair chance, wherever you are and whenever you read this, we’ll make the deadline to enter a full 24 hours from the time I post this.

Which means the cut-off is Wednesday night at 11:58 pm PDT.

The gift card will be mailed to the winner directly from their agency, and should be valid on the Performance website, so you don’t need to live in Southern California to enter.

May the best guess win.

Note to other bike shops: I’m a firm believer in supporting local bike shops; the reason I’m promoting the Performance sale is because they asked. Just a hint.

And for the sake of full disclosure, they’re sending me a gift card for the same amount as well. And no, you can’t have it.

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The new, long-awaited movie about the L.A. fixie scene has just been released on DVD and iTunes. To Live & Ride in L.A. explores one of the world’s most vibrant cycling scenes taking place right now on the streets, alleys and velodromes of our fair city.

You can celebrate both the film and biking at the official release party this Saturday, June 26th, at Royal/T, 8910 Washington Blvd in L.A. The party runs from 6:30 pm to midnight, and is open to the public.

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Michael Byerts forwards an email from a member of the LA Tri Club warning about a dangerous driver on Angeles Crest Highway — which has already seen three traffic fatalities since the highway was reopened less than three weeks ago.

On Angeles Crest today, a silver Nissan XTERRA (ED: plate number deleted) slowed down to yell angrily at three pairs of cyclists and swerved into the shoulder cutting off two pairs (I was in one of the pairs). All three pairs were riding separately, didn’t know each other, and were at different sections of the highway between Foothill and Newcombs. Long story short, the car was reported, and the driver was stopped and arrested.

However, given that the driver seemed to show very little remorse when talking with the other pair of cyclists up at Newcombs Ranch and didn’t seem all that well balanced, we are a little worried that he will continue his dangerous driving into cyclists. All three pairs of cyclists were riding up, so going slowly. If he does the same thing to cyclists riding down, it could be much worse.

So, please be careful if you see a silver Nissan XTERRA while riding on ACH, particularly if the driver slows down or yells at you. The car had a bike rack on it today, too. If you experience anything similar (or have already since crest has opened), please notify the California Highway Patrol to build a case on this guy.

Please forward to friends/groups that ride on Angeles Crest.

I’m withholding the author’s name to protect his/her privacy.

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Finally, you may recall that L.A. cyclist Patrick Pascal offered his observations on the multitude of problems facing cyclists in Griffith Park in a guest post last December.

Now he offers an update indicating that at least one of the problems has been resolved.

I am happy to report that, a mere six months after the above left picture appeared on your blog (in my review of Griffith Park’s bike amenities), this stretch of pavement (pictured on the right has been restored. I have no illusions that my post was anything but a coincidence as we all know how fastidious the city is about maintaining infrastructure. Bravo to the Park Department for not letting the entire roadway wash away before making repairs.

BTW, this is one of LA’s best sunset rides with panoramas from the San Gabriel mountains to the islands and into the valley from the top.

Before.

After. Though from what I can see, the other side still doesn't look so good.

The problems with Griffith Park from a cyclist’s perspective — and how to fix them

One of the big problems cyclists — as well as other L.A. residents and visitors — face around here is that the things that should be our greatest assets are often virtually unusable due to a lack of planning and/or maintenance.

From a pedestrian-choked beachfront bike path to a proposed bike boulevard rutted with potholes and misplaced bike routes that thrust unknowing riders onto streets most cyclists choose to ignore, too many areas in this city fall far short of what they could be. And should be. Yet in most cases, it would only take a little effort and minimal investment to correct the problems.

Today, Patrick Pascal, cyclist, Downtown professional and fellow founding member of the League of Bicycling Voters LA — and yes, the LBVLA is still alive and preparing to play a role in next year’s council elections — joins Ross, Zeke, Damien and Eric in stepping into my shoes for a day with a guest post on riding in Griffith Park, and how it can be improved to benefit everyone.

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Griffith Park from a Cyclist’s Perspective

Griffith Park, despite increasing urban encroachment, remains a remarkable oasis of tranquility within central Los Angeles.  To preserve the already low level of park space within the City, citizens must be vigilant in protecting existing places like Griffith Park.  Minor improvements and changes to Park policies and infrastructure can both ensure and increase this tranquility for many more years.

Like many aspects of Los Angeles’ management, Griffith Park demonstrates a disconnect between purpose and policy.  Most can generally agree that the purpose of the Park is to provide a welcoming and bucolic setting where Angelinos can safely enjoy a variety of physical, recreational and social activities.  Below, specific policies that are contrary to the purpose of the park which demonstrate this disconnect between purpose and policy are identified along with potential remedies.

Is it a Park or a Thoroughfare?

Park roads should only be used by and designed to accommodate Park patrons.  Speed limits are presently so high that they encourage commuters to bypass the (5) Freeway during traffic periods, which undermines the safety, atmosphere and the infrastructure of the Park.  The speed limit inside Griffith Park should be at a speed that considers the many (non-auto) recreational users who are present.  A strictly-enforced limit of 20 miles/hour would keep nearly all Park attractions within 5 minutes of an entry point, while making the Park safer, quieter, less-crowded and cleaner.  There is simply no park-centric reason for a higher speed limit.

Park Access by Bicycle

By encouraging patrons to come by bicycle, Griffith Park could accommodate more visitors with a lower impact.   An entire family should be able to safely ride their bicycles to Griffith Park from most parts of the city, however, at present, it isn’t even safe from adjoining Los Feliz or Atwater.  A family should be able to safely use the Griffith Park Blvd Bike Lane to reach the Park and a family should be able to safely use the Los Angeles River Bike Path to reach the Park, but neither of these routes safely accesses the Park.  They both again demonstrate the basically deficient policies that do not consider actual purpose—the paths themselves don’t really go anywhere.

Take the Griffith Park Blvd Bike Lane.  After coming north from Sunset Blvd for over two miles (don’t get me started on the condition of the roadbed), the bike lane abruptly ends just 50 yards short of Los Feliz Blvd.  Putting a bike lane where there is a need and plenty of room is appreciated, but easy.  Abandoning a rider, just when a lane is most needed, gives the rider little opportunity to react and adapt before the busy intersection.  The bike Lane should be merged into the middle traffic lane to cross Los Feliz Blvd and on to the northern terminus of Griffith Park Blvd.

Right-of-way link between Griffith Park Blvd & Park

At the end of Griffith Park Blvd. the roadbed of the original street (which once continued under what is now the (5) Freeway) remains, extending to Griffith Park Drive within the Park (see above).  This abandoned right-of-way has been used by pedestrians and bicycles for decades.  It would take little effort to install a safe, sanctioned access way for these few yards.  Making these two minor improvements would, for the first time, link the core of Los Angeles with a safe bike route all the way to its most important park.

Recently the city dedicated the southern portion of the Los Angeles River Bike Path which will now make it easier for bicyclists from southern Atwater, Highland Park and beyond to come to Griffith Park.  Many other residents along the path can easily avail themselves to this option to reach the Park.  Remarkably, despite passing within 50 yards from the Park for about four miles, not one of the four possible entry points can be considered reliably safe.  From north to south the following conditions face riders:

  • Riverside Drive at the north terminus of Bike Path.  From the end of the River Bike Path to the bike lane within the Park the distance is less than 75 yards.  However this ride entails a left turn across a shoulder-less, 4-lane, high-speed roadway and across busy on and off-ramps to the 134 Freeway, two stop signs and another left turn at a busy intersection—all within 75 yards.  This entrance is particularly unsafe during traffic hours.

    Riverside Drive meets the Park (LA River Bike Path terminates in the distance near power pylon)

  • Zoo Drive. This is probably this safest route on which to enter the park.  A few signs and markings could make it the preferred entry for safety minded bicyclists.  The entry/exit gate is narrow, with a small sign so riders must pay close attention.  Zoo Drive has single, wide lanes with ample room for both auto and bicycle traffic.  There are still two on-ramps for the (5) Freeway with which to contend, but they are not as busy as the others and cars tend to travel at lower speeds.  The bridge over the freeway may provide the biggest hill to climb of the whole ride.  If the DOT and Park Dept were more serious about safety, they would make this the preferred, designated and marked route between the park and the bike path.  It is not the most convenient entry point, but it is the best one for those considering safety alone.

    Looking east on Los Feliz Blvd from Park (LA River Bike Path 400 yards away)

  • Los Feliz Blvd. This is the most dangerous route between the Bike Path and the Park.  Both exits from the Path are hard upon either a freeway on or off-ramp.  My experience suggests that the closer a driver is to a freeway, the more (s)he drives as if already on the freeway and Los Feliz Blvd. is a good example of the behavior.  After negotiating across those ramps, each side of the road has two more ramps which propel traffic onto busy Los Feliz blvd at a dangerous speed.  Los Feliz Blvd itself is another shoulder-less road with six lanes of speeding cars that do not afford safe bicycling.
  • Lastly, is the bicycle/pedestrian bridge, over the (5) Freeway from the River Bike Path, and into the Park near the tennis courts and soccer field south of Los Feliz Blvd.  At the park side landing of the bridge walkers and pedestrians are met with 75 yards of a fenced off, dirt path before reaching any paving.  In the summer the path is dry and dusty, but in the winter it is often muddy and sometimes impassible.

Use of Existing Assets

Except in front of the Greek Theatre and around the Zoo, all roadways within Griffith Park are single lane.  However, the north-south route across the Park along the (5) Freeway from Los Feliz Blvd to the golf courses is comprised of a two-lane, one-way, northbound Crystal Springs Drive and a two-lane, one-way, southbound Griffith Park Drive.   The present configuration allots a total of 44’ of width for cars, and 18’ to be shared by walkers, runners, horses and bicyclists.  The purpose of Griffith Park is not to serve as an alternate route for harried commuters, but this two-lane, one-way design encourages commuters to speed through Griffith Park as an alternate to a busy freeway.

For the past year Crystal Springs Drive has been closed for major water-works and all traffic has been diverted onto just Griffith Park Drive which now handles all auto and bicycle traffic.  Despite this 50% reduction in automobile capacity and narrowing of bicycle lanes, traffic has not been heavy or slowed.  Before reopening Crystal Springs Drive to traffic configured as before, consider restoring it as a two-way, single-lane roadway without a bike lane; make the dirt trail along Crystal Springs Drive’s east side a “horses only” trail (no pedestrians) and; close Griffith Park Drive, north of Los Feliz Blvd, to automobiles altogether.  Split the newly-closed, segregated roadbed into dedicated bike, running and walking paths with benches, water and picnic amenities.  Only the entrance to the Tregnan Golf Academy would need anything but cosmetic alterations.  These small, inexpensive changes would greatly add to the easily accessible areas that can be used by recreational Park patrons and further reduce the city’s footprint in the Park.

Mt Hollywood Drive north of Observatory

Mt Hollywood Drive north of Observatory

For a number of years Mount Hollywood Drive, which runs from behind the Observatory (just north of the tunnel) over the top of Mount Hollywood and down into the San Fernando Valley, has been closed to cars.  It is one of the few hill-routes bicyclists can ride without concern for cars.  Recently, the condition of the roadbed has become a bigger concern than any auto traffic could pose.   Present conditions are such that patching and other cosmetics now could extend the useful life of the surface, but if this roadway continues to be neglected, it will soon be impassible and expensive to restore.  If the Park is here to provide a welcoming and bucolic setting where Angelinos can safely enjoy a variety of physical and recreational activities, it should be policy to invest the small sum needed to maintain this route.

The four broad improvements listed above could all be realized at very little cost and with great benefit to all Park users—not just cyclists.  They offer a low bar by which to judge the City’s commitment to providing constituent friendly amenities.  While many of these efforts may appear bicycle-centric, they will improve the quality and experience of the park for all users.  More patrons choosing bikes on which to visit the Park means more available parking, less traffic, less pollution, less noise, and a better utilized park for all.  They do not threaten non-bike-riding park users, instead, bicycle riders represent elemental and environmental changes that all users can enjoy and embrace.

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A cyclist was rescued from the rain-swollen L.A. River after slipping off the bike path and falling into the water. Bicycle fixation interviews LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery about the planned 4th Street Bike Boulevard, among other issues. Hearings are coming up next month for the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan. Do your part to help stop bike thieves in Venice. The Valley News profiles Peter Zupan, the Lake Elsinore native killed while riding his bike to collect recyclables last September. Phil Wood, founder of Ten Speed Press died over the weekend; his first title was Anybody’s Bike Book, the bible for all home bike mechanics in the ‘70s and ‘80s — I still have my copy on my bookshelf.

As if ex-former Tour de France champ Floyd Landis didn’t have enough credibility problems, now comes word he wore a wire in a meeting with Michael Ball, owner of the Rock Racing pro team. The Lovely Bicycle looks at the safety frame, resulting in a truly lovely bike. Arizona’s great Tucson Velo website asks if our roads are really a matter of us vs. them. An 18-year old Hawaiian cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run, while riding at the head of a group of 35 riders. A masked man yells a racial slur at a Seattle-area cyclist before chasing down and punching him, while a cyclist gets egged in Denton, Texas (home to the world’s best nuevo polka band.) Sometimes riding is a melancholy experience, even if you don’t get egged or punched. Now this is more like it, as a driver gets 36 years for killing a cyclist; then again, he did use a gun instead of a car. The founder of Design Within Reach is recreating his life as the head of Public Bikes. How to encourage the great mass of potential cyclists.

After barely surviving a collision with a drunk driver, a recuperating cyclist faces discharge from the Navy. Motorists come to the rescue of a severely injured cyclist in Australia. Converting car parking to bike parking.

Finally, if bikes get their own lane, why not build one for everyone — except drivers.

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