Tag Archive for Reseda Blvd. bike lanes

Bike rider injured in Tarzana collision earlier this month has died; 11th LA bike death this year

More bad news.

Earlier this month I reported on a collision in Tarzana in which several people passing by saw a bike rider down with severe head injuries. Now I’ve gotten word from the LAPD that the victim has died.

Unfortunately, details are still sparse.

The collision occurred at the intersection of Reseda Blvd and Collins Street around 5:50 pm on Saturday, August 10th. The male victim, who has not been publicly identified, was presumably riding in one of the bike lanes on Reseda when he was struck by a turning car; whether it was turning onto or off of Collins is unknown.

A comment from a reader indicated he was wearing a helmet, but it was knocked off during the collision. He was transported to a local hospital, and died of his injuries sometime last week.

Unfortunately, this was not unexpected.

Whenever a victim is described as suffering from severe head injuries, the outcome is unlikely to be good. Too often, it means he or she has been put on life support until family members can make a decision on organ donation. Even in the best cases, it’s likely to result in life changing injuries.

I’ve put in a request for more information. Hopefully we’ll know more soon.

This is the 60th fatal bicycling collision in Southern California this year, and the 27th in Los Angeles County. It’s also the 11th fatal bike collision in the City of LA since the first of the year.

That exceeds the total for both the city and county for each of the last two years, with over four months left to go.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Update: Bad news on a beautiful day; cyclist killed in Pomona shooting, another rider seriously injured in Tarzana

Just a quick note to take the shine off this beautiful Sunday.

……..

A bike rider was shot and killed in Pomona last night.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 45-year old Pomona resident Jose Cerda was riding on Lexington Avenue just west of Garey Ave around 9:30 pm when a vehicle pulled up next to him and one of the occupants opened fire, shooting him several times.

Cerda was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was just the first of three people killed by gunfire in the city overnight, in what would appear to by a series of drive-by shootings.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Pomona Police Department Detective Bureau at 909-620-2085.

Update:  According to the LA Times, no one has been arrested yet in any of the shootings; no word on whether police have any suspects or if the shootings are related.

……..

I’ve also gotten word of a serious collision involving a bike rider in Tarzana last night.

An email from reliable source says he was driving with his family along Reseda Blvd near the 101 Freeway overpass around 5:50 last night when he came upon the immediate aftermath of collision involving a bike and a car.

He arrived before the paramedics, and said the victim, who was not wearing a helmet, appeared to have been gravely wounded with a serious head injury.

Thankfully, the driver had remained at the scene; the window on the small car was completely smashed. Judging from the damage and position of the car, he said it did not appear to be a hit-from-behind collision, but couldn’t tell from what he saw how it might have happened.

As a frequent rider in the area, he reports the area is very congested with heavy vehicle traffic due to the freeway offramp, and that riding there can be challenging. despite the presence of a bike lane.

I haven’t been able to find any confirmation of the collision yet; however, knowing the source, I have no reason to question what he saw. Not surprisingly, he says he and his entire family were traumatized by what they witnessed.

Once again, it sounds like prayers or best wishes are in order, whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Thanks to Bro Dave for the heads-up.

Update: Sgt. Stephen Egan, the bike liaison for the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, reports that the collision occurred at 5:50 pm Saturday at the intersection Reseda and Collins. The driver was making a turn when he hit the rider; which way he was turning or what street he was turning onto is not clear at this time. 

The victim was transported to a local hospital with severe head trauma.

MB reports in the comments that the victim was wearing a helmet, but it was evidently knocked off by the force of the impact.

Update 2: Bad news. I’ve just gotten word that the victim died of his injuries last week. I’m trying to get more information.

Why the New York bikelash matters to L.A. cyclists

New York cyclists are up in arms over a lengthy New York Magazine article tracing the history of the bikelash — the tabloid-flamed controversy over the city’s rapid transformation into a more livable, walkable and ridable Gotham.

While opponents use anecdotal evidence to criticize the bike lanes — indeed, the entire concept of allowing bikes on the streets and/or sidewalks of the city — the data clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the bikeway system.

In fact, New York Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson recently  backed the bike lane argument with a solid set of statistics, including one demonstrating that once separated bike lanes are installed, injuries for all road users decline 40% to 50%.

Unfortunately, facts aren’t enough to win over those who think bikes are the biggest threat this side of al Qaeda. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

Consider this quote from the article — from a former bike shop owner, no less — who clearly needs to increase his meds:

“You know about the cars. You know about that potential danger when you’re crossing the street. You know you might end up a bag of blood and guts and bones. But that is a finite realm of danger,” says Jack Brown, who used to own a bike shop in the East Village. “When it comes to cyclists, that danger is infinite. Cyclists can be anywhere, at any time: on the sidewalk, riding the wrong way down the street. And you have no peace … The anarchy that has been allowed to prevail is astonishing. According to butterfly theory, according to chaos theory, I am sure that the level of emotional and psychological damage wrought by the bicycle far exceeds the damage done by cars.” And then Brown goes there: “It is homegrown terrorism. The cumulative effect is equivalent to what happened on 9/11.”

Not only does he equate the simple act of riding a bike to flying a jet into the World Trade Center, he claims that the harm done by the relative handful of bicycle incidents far exceed the emotional and psychological damage done by the 40,000 +/- deaths caused by cars on American streets each year — let alone the countless crippling and life-changing injuries resulting from car collisions each year.

Talk about blaming the victim.

As someone who has lost both a relative and a childhood friend to drunk drivers, I can assure you that he is quite mistaken as to which one inflicts lasting emotional harm.

As for psychological damage, I’d point the finger at whatever he’s been smoking.

As proof of the danger posed by cyclists, opponents inevitably trot out the case of Stuart Gruskin, who died as a result of a collision with a wrong-way bike deliveryman.

Needless and tragic as that case was, it was just a single death two years ago. And not caused by a speeding spandex-clad cyclist, or even the city’s notoriously anarchic bike messengers, but by a food delivery rider taking an ill-advised shortcut. And a victim who failed to look both ways when crossing a one-way street.

That compares with a long, long list of New Yorkers killed by motor vehicles last year alone.

It’s enough to make bike lane opponent Louis Hainline, founder of the ironically named — some say Orwellian — Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, seem relatively rational.

Although it never hurts to have a reminder not to take it all so seriously.

So why does a dispute on the opposite coast matter to riders here in L.A.?

Simply this.

We’ve just finished the battle to get a widely praised bike plan adopted. But right now, those bike lanes, sharrows and bike-friendly streets exist as nothing more than lines on a map.

And if you think New Yorkers are mad, wait until you see the blowback here in the City of Fallen Angeles when we try to take a single inch of road capacity away from drivers to create even a shadow of a complete street.

Because Wilbur Avenue is just the beginning.

Along those lines, cyclists are urged to come out to support completion of the bike lanes on Reseda Blvd, as the final half mile between Roscoe and Parthenia comes up for review by the Northridge South Neighborhood Council.

This one may prove controversial, as it will require the removal of parking on one side of the road for a one-block stretch between Chase and Napa Streets.

And the only thing L.A. drivers love more than an open lane to speed in is a place to park their gas-guzzling SUVs when they’re done. Most local businesses are yet to be convinced that bike riders spend money, too.

The meeting takes place at 7 pm this Thursday, March 24, in the Northridge Middle School Library, 17960 Chase Street.

So make your voices heard.

Because we already have more than enough disconnected bikelanes in L.A. And we need to head-off the L.A. bikelash before it begins.

.………

Santa Monica Spoke says yes, please to a proposed Michigan Ave Bike Boulevard. LACBC reports on their successful Bike Valet program. Men’s Journal says rides with Jake Gyllenhaal on the streets of L.A., and Ewan McGregor bikes with a cute dog. Glendale offers a children’s bike skills class April 30th. Those new separated bike lanes — the ones that Long Beach columnist Doug Krikorian complained about not seeing a single cyclist on — don’t officially open until April 2nd. A look at Mark Bixby’s final victory as a bike advocate.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says it won’t be easy to get biking or transportation projects funded by a cost-cutting Congress. Advocacy Advance grants are available for state and local biking organizations. NPR points out that it’s often cheaper to tear down outdated freeways than to fix them. Three years, one family, from Alaska to Chile. Portlanders are good, but not great, about using bike lights. Illinois cycling advocates consider legislation to force the state to track dooring incidents. Taking New York’s bike crackdown to ridiculous levels, cyclists are ticketed for violating an evidently fictional 15 mph speed limit. The Wall Street Journal looks at the growing popularity of hand-cranked bikes; thanks to George Wolfberg for the link. Partisan politics and negative perceptions of cyclists take down Virginia’s proposed three-foot passing law. Video tips for riding in the rain, which may come in handy for the rest of the week.

A one year suspended license and community service for driving dangerously and killing an 89-year old cyclist. Italian cycling needs to stop living in the past. Dutch cyclists are being terrorized by little kids in golf carts. A 10-point plan to make bike racing more exciting.

Finally, a London writer says the Mary Poppins Effect only works when riding an upright bike, without a helmet and while wearing a skirt.

Probably counts me out.

Do we dare to declare victory?

“I declare the war is over; it’s over…” — Phil Ochs, The War Is Over

In case you missed it, L.A. cyclists scored a couple of big victories in the last few weeks.

As you may recall, following the outrage over LADOT’s plans to remove the bike lanes on Reseda Blvd in order to install peak hour lanes, LADOT denied they would ever consider such a thing. As part of that denial, LADOT explained that they were planning to repave a 1-mile section of Reseda, and that maybe that’s where the “misunderstanding” started.

Cyclists, of course, smelled opportunity.

Or maybe we just smelled blood in the water. And insisted that LADOT prove their sincerity by completing the long-delayed bike lanes along the full length of Reseda that we were promised in the old bike plan, starting with that one mile section.

Then, as cyclists continued to press their case at a meeting of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, Alan Willis, LADOT Principal Transportation Engineer for Valley Traffic Operations, announced that the promised bike lanes would be installed on the section to be repaved. And that the remaining gaps in the bikeway could — maybe — eventually be closed.

Of course, they never admitted their deception. Let alone offered an apology.

Then last week came news that after 5 long years, the city is finally moving forward with a Sharrow test project. Nine streets are under consideration, including one along the current Class 3 bike route on Westholme Ave, just blocks from my home.

This comes less than a year after an LADOT representative gave an update to the city council’s Transportation Committee, claiming that the delay was because they didn’t know what kind of paint to use so that cyclists wouldn’t slip on wet paint when it rained.

Maybe that was a legitimate concern in today’s highly litigious society. Although when I mentioned that to a respected transportation planner at the Bike Summit earlier this year, he just rolled his eyes.

Of course, cities from Pittsburgh to Long Beach — not to mention Portland, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle, just to name a few — have already put sharrows to use on the streets. And to the best of my knowledge, there have been no rash of injured cyclists in those cities.

But maybe they don’t have wet streets in Seattle, Portland or San Francisco. Or maybe cyclists there don’t come out until the streets are completely dry after a storm.

Or maybe LADOT just forgot to call their counterparts in those soggy cities to ask what kind of paint they use.

Still, the commitment to move forward with a Sharrow pilot project is a major victory. And the LACBC deserves credit for hanging in there and refusing to let them delay it to death. Combined with the bike lanes on Reseda, those are the biggest wins for local cyclists in recent memory.

Of course, the bad news is that LADOT actually considered removing existing bike lanes to squeeze a few more cars onto the already overcrowded city streets. Which means that no bike lane, sharrow or bike route — existing or not — will ever be safe if it stands in the way of what they consider progress.

Which means that we need to remain vigilant, ready to defend what little biking infrastructure we have. Let alone fight for what we deserve.

Of course, there is another alternative.

The city — and LADOT in particular — could start working with cyclists, rather than seeming to fight us every step of the way. They could, finally, start focusing on how they can move more people, rather than just more cars.

And begin building complete, livable streets that work for all their users, as well as the people who live, work and shop along them.

They might just find that we could be the best friends that they — and this city — ever had.

……….

The Anonymous Cyclist spots new ex-parking meter bike racks in Westwood. No Whip discovers a wallride in Mammoth, and Stephen Box discovers a full-service bike station Down Under. Travelin’ Local presents five ways to use your bike while traveling on Metro. LADOT wins an Emmy for a PSA encouraging drivers to pay attention around kids. The Times much-missed transportation beat reporter is now pucking around online. Joe Linton details the latest controversy, this time over a SoCal Gas plan to “fix” the popular fat tire and hiking trail in Sullivan Canyon, while lining portions of the creek bed with rip rap and concrete matting. A writer on Bob Mionske’s Bicycle Law blog challenges car-centric news coverage of a driver arrested for intentionally striking a cyclist, while Bob discusses what “as far to the right as practical” means in real life. A DC cyclist is physically assaulted after pushing a car door to avoid being doored. Town Mouse outrides a herd of migrating Scottish cows. Controversy flares in Korea over a proposed mandatory helmet law. Finally, sex columnist Dan Savage dares drivers to show their contempt for the recent study showing they’re at fault for 90% of car/bike collisions — and they gladly oblige. Of course.

An alleged killer to be arraigned; peak hour lanes to be debated again in Northridge

A couple of quick notes.

A reader named Danny sends word that Robert Sam Sanchez, the driver arrested in connection with the hit-and-run death of cyclist Rod Armas, will be arraigned this Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

As you may recall, Rod and his 14-year old son Christian were nearing the finish of the L.A. Wheelmen’s Grand Tour Double Century when they were struck by an alleged drunk driver on PCH near Malibu early in the morning of Sunday, June 28; Rod was killed and Christian was seriously injured. The driver ditched his truck about a mile away and was arrested by sheriff’s deputies a short time later.

According to Danny, the arraignment will take place in Dept. 1 of the Malibu Courthouse this Thursday, August 20, at 8:30 am. He says he plans to be there and will fill us in on any details. If anyone else plans to attend, feel free to forward observations you may have (you can find my email on the About BikingInLA page.

My prayers go out to the entire Armas family; if anyone can provide an update on Christian’s condition, let me know. And you can still make a donation to the Armas family online through the Talbert Family Foundation.

On another note, on the heels of last week’s successful turnout at the Northridge West Neighborhood Council meeting to fight the “rumored” peak hour lane proposal, BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey sends word that the subject will be taken up by their Northridge East counterparts on Wednesday:

Fellow bicyclists and other interested persons:

This morning I received the attached agenda for the Northridge EAST Neighborhood Council meeting for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 19 which includes Item 7d:

7. Old Business

d. Proposed Peak Hour Lane Reseda Boulevard

[Possible Action]

The meeting will be held at CSUN’s University Club located northwest of Nordhoff and Zelzah, enter from Dearborn St.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and refreshments are usually served.  (NOTE:  When I called the University Club (818-677-2076) inquiring about bicycle parking I was told to “Tie it to a tree.”  <sigh>  I requested that they get a bicycle rack by tomorrow night’s meeting.)

FYI, I made a presentation at the Northridge East NC’s July meeting as to the information I had obtained as of then and I was well received.  This morning I emailed the NENC board recommending that they vote to OPPOSE the Reseda Boulevard peak hour lanes and SUPPORT the installation of the long planned bicycle lanes between Nordhoff and Rinaldi streets.  (The bicycle lanes would assure that no peak hour lanes would be installed in the future, or at least that it would be a much more difficult process.)

I am hoping you might be able to attend this meeting and inform others.  As you can see, this time there is no motion listed on the agenda so it could go either way.

I will not personally be able to attend this meeting as I have a previous commitment out of town.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email and/or telephone me,

Thank you for your interest and assistance.

Cordially,

Glenn Bailey, Chairperson

Bicycle Advisory Committee

City of Los Angeles

If you live or ride in the area, I urge you attend the meeting if you can. LADOT may claim they don’t have any current plans for peak hour lanes on Reseda, but that could change as soon as we turn our backs. Let’s keep up the fight until we get those long-promised bike lanes painted on the street. (And thanks to Joe Linton for providing a link to the NENC agenda).

………

Evidently, Stephen Colbert reads Streetsblog LA, at least when it’s about him. Mikey Wally announces a party at Orange 20 to celebrate his return, along with two other SoCal cyclists, from a NY to LA cross-country ride.  C.I.C.L.E. and the Santa Monica Museum of Art join together for an art ride this weekend, promising a slow pace and observance of all traffic laws. The Springfield Cyclist can now legally run red lights. A Colorado jerk motorist says bikes have as much right on the road as sheep, but at least sheep have enough sense to get out of the way. Athletes from the University of Colorado come to the aid of a fallen cyclist. Tucson unveils the Bike Church, a memorial to fallen cyclists made entirely of bike parts. Graphic evidence that cycling casualties go down as ridership goes up. A Toronto cyclist returns to find her bike ticketed for excessive awesomeness. Ireland agrees to pay for bike parking facilities; one of their top amateur cyclists is killed in a single vehicle car crash. Finally, in what may be the most vile incident in recent memory, a cyclist in Texas is killed by a hit-and-run driver who pulls the victim inside his back seat and drives home, leaving him in the car to die.

Today’s post, in which I beat a dead horse

Let’s take a quick look back at last week’s LADOT controversy, before I move on to other subjects.

As you may recall, last Monday I broke the news that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation was secretly planning to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd, which would have necessitated the removal of two miles of existing bike lanes, as well as the cancellation of another long-planned — and long delayed — 3-mile extension.

This came to light courtesy of Glenn Bailey, chairman of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He had learned of the plans in an official LADOT status report to the BAC, which indicated that the planned extension conflicted with “peak hour usage in the near future.” Bailey then confirmed those plans in a conversation with Ken Firoozmand, Transportation Engineer for the West Valley division of LADOT.

The response was overwhelming, as the story quickly spread through the Internet. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition issued an action alert from urging cyclists to attend a meeting of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, which was planning to vote on a resolution in support of the plan after learning about it from Bailey; the large, highly motivated turnout resulted in a unanimous vote against the peak hour lanes.

And that’s when the inevitable backlash began.

Representatives from LADOT contacted both Streetsblog and LAist, insisting that the agency had no plans to install peak hour lanes on Reseda and that “…It was all based on rumor, nothing that we had propagated.”

Obviously, they were mistaken. Or lying. I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt; others didn’t.

Joe Linton, BAC member and founder of the LACBC, responded by providing the original document revealing the existence of the peak lane plan, and expressed concern for the LADOT staffer who was only doing his job in providing that information to the BAC.

Meanwhile, Glenn Bailey circulated an open letter providing full details of how he became aware of the plan and confirmed its existence with Firoozmand. He also pointed out the Notice of Street Work for a one-mile section of Reseda where the proposed bike lanes would go, which local residents were concerned would provide an opportunity to install the peak hour lanes; Glenn has requested that this section be restriped for the long-promised bike lanes, instead.

A commenter on Streetsblog noted that the bridge over the viaduct near Victory Boulevard was widened with the express purpose of turning the Reseda into a major north-south thoroughfare. In my initial conversation with Bailey, he’d quoted Firoozmand as saying “We wouldn’t have widened the bridge if we weren’t planning to include peak hour lanes. The only reason I didn’t include that in the initial story only because I had failed to write down which bridge he was referring to.

Yet incredibly, when LADOT was confronted with proof of the plan, they stuck by their initial denials. Damien at Streetblog offered this official response from LADOT:

The information provided yesterday is accurate and still stands: the Department has no current plans to remove any portion of the bike lane or to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Note the key word “current.”

All they had to do was acknowledge their error, and admit that a plan had been considered but was no longer under consideration — whether or not that had anything to do with the massive response in opposition to the plan.

Instead, they chose to engage in a cover-up — not exactly the kind of open, honest government we have a right to expect as citizen of a democratic society. And in the process, they continued to smear both Glenn Bailey and me as the unnamed sources of those unfounded “rumors.”

Unfortunately, as of this writing, a few local websites still haven’t corrected the stories based on LADOT’s false denials, despite the overwhelming proof to the contrary.

And a full week later, none of the council members I contacted before publishing the initial story — Rosendahl, Kortetz, Zine and Smith — has bothered to respond in any way.

Meanwhile, Joe Linton has written an open letter to Rita Robinson, General Manager of the LADOT, as well as Mayor Villaraigosa, Council President Garcetti, and Council Members Rosendahl, Smith, and Zine. It reads in part:

It doesn’t surprise me that LADOT would favor a peak lane plan that would increase capacity for cars, indeed this is LADOT’s job and what LADOT has historically successfully focused on. What surprises me is that LADOT staff lied. Governmental agencies depend on the trust of the public to make our city work. When LADOT staff deny something that LADOT staff have already put in writing, this duplicity damages the public trust and makes it difficult for all of us to work together in the future.

I urge you to work with your staff to be honest, clear and transparent and to rebuild the public trust that their actions have strained. I also urge you to immediately implement the long-delayed bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Meanwhile, the LACBC has sent out another Action Alert calling attention to the LADOT’s false denials, and urging everyone to contact the appropriate officials:

Some of you may have been getting letters assuring you that the bike lane was never going to be removed and that this was all a rumor.  Due to the overwhelming response to this threat, it seems that DOT has retracted their plan and is now claiming that there is currently no plan to install a peak hour lane.

We want to make sure that there will never be a plan to install peak hour lanes on Reseda Blvd.

Let’s install the already approved bike lanes on Reseda Blvd!

Due to your emails and the extreme circumstances of this issue, Mayoral staff requested a meeting with LACBC. They suggested that if there is community consensus, a bike lane could be completed this year.

Here’s what you can do:

Please write to Councilmembers Smith and Zine and let them know that you would like to see the already approved extension of the Bike Lane of Reseda Blvd from Vanowen to Rinaldi installed by the end of 2009.

Please send in and email your letters to:

Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine
200 North Spring Street, Suite 450
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.zine@lacity.org

Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmember Greig Smith
200 North Spring Street, Suite 405
Los Angeles, CA 90012
councilmember.smith@lacity.org

Jonathan Brand, Planning Deputy for Dennis Zine
jonathan.brand@lacity.org

Phyllis Winger, Chief Planning Deputy for Greig Smith
phyllis.winger@lacity.org

Honorable Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
mayor@lacity.org

It’s your government. And it’s up to you to decide whether to accept secret plans and cover-ups. Or whether you’re going to do something about it.

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