Tag Archive for San Fernando Valley Sun

Morning Links: Valley newspaper invents disapproval of Van Nuys bike lanes, and early congrats to CiclaValley

It never fails.

Less than a month after the newly redesigned Van Nuys Blvd was officially opened, a local paper is already insisting residents are unhappy with the makeover.

And actually found one to back it up.

According to the San Fernando Valley Sun, the chief complaint is the parking-protected bike lane on the southbound side — even though it was developed with public input at a series of workshops, something they fail to mention.

And even though, of the three people they quote, only one didn’t like the project. Although one bike rider, who liked the protected lane, was concerned that it was too narrow to be able to pass the hopefully nonexistent salmon cyclists who might ride in it the wrong way.

But according to one woman, no one wants to go there anymore because of conflicts with cyclists as they cross the bike lane to get to their cars.

Because it’s just so hard to look for someone riding a bicycle before you step off the curb.

To be fair, though, the same story could be written in any city, anywhere, after a street has undergone any kind of makeover. And probably has.

It’s human nature to resist change. Even change for the better.

So initially, it’s easy to find people who will complain, for whatever reason. Then within a few months, the complaints go away as most people grow accustomed to the changes.

And often grow to like it.

That is inevitably what will happen here, if they’d bothered to give it more than a few weeks.

But that doesn’t make for good headlines.

Especially when you can extrapolate the complaints of one woman into an entire angry community that probably isn’t there.

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Congratulations to our friend Zachary Rynew, author of the frequently cited CiclaValley, on his apparent selection as Streetsblog’s 2016 Journalist/Writer of the Year.

While results won’t be announced until today, Rynew was in the lead with an overwhelming 77% of the vote.

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Make plans to spend Saturday glued to the electronic device of your choice, when VeloNews will live stream the national cyclocross championships, beginning at 6 am Pacific time.

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Local

DTLA’s free Night on Broadway celebration enters its third year, with festivities scheduled for the end of this month, on January 28th. Let’s hope they remember to set up a bike valet this time around.

LAist lists Saturday’s Resolution Ride as one of their 20 coolest things happening in LA this weekend.

Multicultural Communities for Mobility is looking for focus group volunteers willing to try out DTLA’s Metro Bike bikeshare system for a full month at no charge.

Culver City is hosting a public workshop tomorrow to discuss a planned protected bike lane through the downtown area.

Pasadena considers adopting Vision Zero, but fears it would mean defunding some existing traffic projects to pay for new safety work.

Police blame the driver for broadsiding a bike rider in Stevenson Ranch; the woman on the bike was hospitalized with moderate injuries.

Once again, a bike rider has been injured in a collision with an LA County sheriff’s deputy, as a 16-year old Palmdale boy was seriously injured when he allegedly ran a red light in front of the patrol car; the victim reportedly didn’t have lights on his bike and wasn’t wearing a helmet, as required under California law for anyone under 18. As always, the question is whether anyone other than the officers involved saw him run the red light. Thanks to dammannjohnnj for the heads-up.

 

State

Seriously? A new Palm Springs safety campaign places responsibility firmly on potential traffic victims by promoting a new custom-made reflective vest for bike riders and pedestrians, and another for their dogs. Because there’s evidently no point in asking drivers to slow down and actually look for people and animals on the road with them, without making them dress like glow-in-the-dark clowns.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole several high-end bicycles from non-profit in San Francisco’s South Bay that helps people who can’t afford a bike. Although I’d hardly call least five bikes valued at a total of $3,000 high-end.

Lodi residents want to know why a promised bike path disappeared from plans for a proposed subdivision.

 

National

Gucci Mane is one of us, as the rap star quit weed and sizzurp, got out of prison and into spandex. Now the only question is whether 36 is too young to be a MAMIL.

The Wall Street Journal looks at Zagster’s strategy of pursuing bikeshare contracts in smaller cities.

Forbes recognizes the bike industry, honoring the founders of Seattle-based ebike maker Rad Power Bikes in its 2017 30 under 30 listing.

A Washington bicyclist is foiled by ice, snow, driving rain and logging trucks in his attempt to complete a week-long, 400-mile cycling challenge in a single 40-hour ride.

A Texas mother has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to hand out free bike lights in memory of her son, who was killed while riding last year; so far it’s raised less than $450 of the $5,000 goal.

An Illinois cyclist is training to ride through the wilds of Siberia in next year’s 5,700 mile Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme race.

A Detroit coalition envisions a radically remade street system incorporating bicycle throughways, to make the city the greenway capital of the world by 2067. Meanwhile, a bike ride through the city will commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 Walk for Freedom, though rail construction prevents them from following his actual path in the civil rights march.

A new survey shows Tennessee residents overwhelmingly support increased funding for biking and walking infrastructure, as well as multimodal transportation projects.

The Massachusetts DOT is shifting its focus from promoting bicycling by building bike trails to making everyday streets more accommodating to cyclists.

In a bold ruling that could mark a big advance for traffic safety, New York’s highest court ruled that cities can be held liable for failing to redesign streets with a history of traffic injuries and reckless driving.

A first-ever Georgia bike drive brought in 800 bicycles to be repaired and donated to kids in need.

Florida residents worry that a new bike path along a canal will hurt property values by giving access to bad guys, ATVs and motorbikes, leaving path users at the mercy of thugs. Maybe someone should tell them about these things called streets that bad people can also use to get places.

 

International

Bike Radar says drivers owe a big thanks to bicycles for everything from ball bearings to good roads.

A Canadian man has abandoned his effort to ride a fat bike 700 miles across Antarctica, saying the frozen continent kicked his ass.

The head of Canada’s Mothers Against Drunk Drivers says seven years behind bars is not enough for a killer repeat drunk driver who joked about it on social media.

A Brit bicycle rider will spend the next three years and four months behind bars for pushing a 69-year old pedestrian, who died after hitting his head on the curb; considering this was his 18th conviction for various crimes, including violent assaults, 40 months hardly seems sufficient.

A British woman rode 50 miles to raise the equivalent of nearly $20,000 for the children’s hospital that cared for her nephew.

Caught on video: The BBC’s Jeremy Vine catches a passive aggressive cyclist on dash cam video, who rides slowly in front of a driver after getting cut off.

Caught on video too: A UK driver brake checks a cyclist on a wide open roadway, for the crime of failing to signal when the rider went around a parked car.

A Pakistani CEO beats traffic and religious protests in Lahore by riding his bike and following Google maps on his smartphone.

No overreach here. The parents of a Chinese motorcycle rider who was killed in a collision are suing 20 people, including the bike rider she was trying to pass, the bus driver who hit her, and the owners of the cars parked alongside the street.

 

Finally…

Apparently, even French presidents ride salmon. Who needs ear buds when you have a helmet?

And throwing your bike at someone on a horse is not a recommended use of it. Especially not when accompanied by a poodle-type dog.

 

Hollywood blocked bikeways may be common, but not legal; moving story on fallen cyclist Alex Romero

It something we’ve all gotten used to living here in the greater metaphorical Hollywood.

And something we shouldn’t have to.

If you’ve ridden much around this city, chances are, you’ve found your way blocked by a movie crew, TV set or a commercial photo shoot at some point, forcing you to wait until the scene or shoot is over.

Or maybe you’ve run into my pet peeve — movie crews parked along the side of the road, with orange safety cones placed in the middle of the bike lane to protect their precious trucks from passing cyclists, forcing you out into traffic with little or no warning.

And often as not, with no legal basis.

Take the photo shoot Todd Munson encountered on his way home last week on the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

They were set up near the eastern end. When I rolled up they had a scrim set up that was a good 10 feet high and as wide as the path. Because of it, I had to come to a full stop and announce my presence before they even noticed I was there. Based on how “fashionable” they all were I’m guessing they came from the nearby Smashbox Studio.

When I realized how much I was “hassling” them by having to move their equipment to make some room, I asked if they had a permit for the shoot. Everyone just sort looked at each other and mumbled incomplete sentences. The guy who was apparently in charge was the one covering his face in the first photo. The amazing thing to me was that nobody including him was at all apologetic. The best they could do was “Hey man, we didn’t think anyone would be here.” And a couple of them even tried getting tough.

The other funny part was that girl in the red shirt in photo number 3 asked that I not take anyone’s picture.

Good times.

Problem is, unless they did have a permit, what they were doing was completely illegal. Section 21211 of the California Vehicle Code reads:

21211.   (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting, or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist.

But it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to prohibit parking or placing anything on the bike path that would block it, as well.

(b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

Of course, there are additional subsections specifying a handful exceptions, none of which apply in the situation Munson encountered. Or to the overwhelming majority of cases you might encounter that would delay your ride more than a few moments.

Then there’s the matter of blocked bike lanes.

As we’ve discussed before, bike lanes are considered traffic lanes by the LAPD, just like the larger lanes to their left. And just as it’s illegal to block any other traffic lane, it’s against the law to block a bike lane — whether with trash cans, orange cones or double parked vehicles.

The question is whether L.A.’s favorite industry enjoys a special exemption when it comes to their trucks.

The afore mentioned Mr. Munson, who seems to be having a rash of bad luck with this sort of thing lately, reached out to myself and Tony Arranaga, who works in the office of 11th District Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, after a recent encounter with bike lanes blocked by a movie crew on San Vicente Blvd in the Brentwood area.

Tony was kind enough to connect us with Geoffrey Smith, Director of Community Relations with FilmLA Inc, the agency responsible for overseeing the massive amount of filming that takes place in this city on a daily basis.

Once again, I’ll let Todd explain the situation:

The specific incident I encountered occurred in Brentwood along San Vicente last Thursday morning (3/24). A film production had vehicles parked on both sides of San Vicente near the golf course and had laid out large cones along the respective bike lanes.

The cones were placed on the outer edge of the bike line cutting down its width to the point that it was no longer safe to use. Any cyclist who chose to stay in the bike lane was faced with a lose-lose situation as they were forced to ride dangerously close to parked vehicles. Should a door swing open or a crew member walk out from between the vehicles, the tightly spaced cones to the immediate left eliminated any chance for a safe escape.

The only option for a cyclist wishing to avoid this mess would be to exit the bike lane and ride in traffic. This option was equally undesirable and dangerous as motorists tend to treat San Vicente as a mini freeway- especially during the morning rush hour.

Attached is quick diagram I made with the help of Google Street View illustrating the dangerousness of the situation.

To reiterate what Ted stated, those cones served no functional purpose other than creating a life-threatening situation for cyclists. Should the status quo be allowed to remain, it’s not a matter of if but when a deadly accident will occur.

That drew the following response from Smith, who answered promptly the next morning:

1)      No, the company should not have put cones in the bike path. It seems that the Transportation Captain was perhaps a little overzealous in trying to let everyone know that there was a trailer parked on the street. Why he felt that the general public would fail to see a trailer 8’ wide by 7’ high will undoubtedly remain a mystery.

2)      Yes, a company can close a bike path BUT, it requires submitting a traffic plan to DOT, showing what alternate route(s) are being created, via cones, barricades, signage, so that bicyclists are not forced into traffic. DOT has to approve of the closure before it will be allowed.

3)      As an FYI, FilmL.A. is 24/7. If you should run into this situation again, PLEASE call us 213/977.8600 ASAP. Let us check and see a) if there is a permit and b) if they have a closure of the bike path.

4)      I am also annoyed if they were parking on both side of San Vicente. Parking on the north side is not allowed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m putting that phone number in my speed dial.

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Dj Wheels, who has been very busy keeping up with local bike-related criminal cases lately, shares the news that 19-year olds Patrick Roraff and Brett Morin will face trial for the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in Highland one year ago.

Roraff and Morin were allegedly street racing at around 70 mph when Roraff lost control and hit Alvarado, who died on the side of the road, far from his family and friends in Mexico.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the two will be arraigned on May 12th on a single count each of vehicular manslaughter.

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Chances are, you’ve never heard of the San Fernando Valley Sun. But maybe you should.

Once again, they’ve written movingly about the death of yet another teenage Valley cyclist murdered by a hit-and-run driver.

Just six months ago, it was Danny Marin*; this time, it’s Alex Romero, run down by a speeding driver on De Soto Avenue in Canoga Park last week.

Consider the heart-rending pathos in the first paragraph alone:

Tomorrow, April 29, Maria De La Paz “Pacita” Romero will have to find the strength to bury her teenaged son. “Empty. I feel empty,” Maria said as she attempts to describe the loss of her son, German Alex Romero, a 17-year-old promising soccer player whose life was tragically cut short last week when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Canoga Park.

Remarkably, Romero’s family doesn’t bear any animosity towards the still unidentified driver; his mother saying “God bless him” of the man who killed her son.

The family would also like Romero’s death to serve a positive purpose. Their desire is for new bicycle markings to be placed on the street where he was killed, as well as additional lighting, a traffic light and cameras.

“We would like Alex’s sacrifice to be worth something,” Fuentes said. “He came to this earth for 17 years to give light to everybody, motorists and bicyclists, so that we may be more careful to make ourselves aware of everybody who’s on the road.”

Seriously, stop whatever you’re doing, and take just a few minutes to read a very well-written story about the massive hole a heartless driver has left in what appears to be a remarkable, and remarkably forgiving, family.

But don’t be surprised if you find a few tears in your eyes before you’re done.

*Unfortunately, the original Sun story is no longer available online.

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Finally, the LACBC reports that the peak hour restrictions limiting bikes on Metro trains have been lifted, effective immediately. While the bike ban has been widely ignored in recent months, the action of the Metro Board means you can now take your bike on any Metro train, any time, to any destination.

As train cars come in for servicing, they will have seats removed to create additional standing and storage room to provide more space for bikes, as well as other large objects such as strollers and shopping bags.

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