Tag Archive for Santa Monica bike path

One of L.A. County’s most dangerous streets gets a little safer with buffered new bike lanes on Fiji Way

Just quick update on last week’s item about pending bike lanes on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey.

A ride down to the South Bay yesterday morning showed that nothing had been done on the street beyond the preliminary markings that had gone down earlier.

Yet by the time I rode back a few hours and many miles later, the street had been transformed into, if not a cyclists’ paradise, a much safer and more inviting connection between the Santa Monica and South Bay bike trails.

And turned what has been one of the area’s busiest — and most dangerous — bicycling thoroughfares into something that promises to be significantly safer.

As you can see from the video, a bike lane has been installed on the west/southbound side of the roadway, and the much hated, and probably illegal restriction to ride single file — which is unsupported by anything in California law — has been painted over.

Moving down to the turnaround at the end of the street, near the connection to the Ballona Creek bikeway, the road narrows to a single lane, with painted separators keeping motorists away from riders. And hopefully, reducing the risk of right hook collisions.

Continuing around the turnaround to the north/eastbound side of the street reveals a road diet for most of its length to Admiralty Way.

It was unclear yesterday whether the reduced roadway was being striped for a buffered bike lane, or if the county was planning to allow curbside parking, which had previously been banned, with door-zone bike lane alongside.

But a quick conversation with a member of the county road crew confirmed that cyclists will now enjoy a wide curbside bike lane with a comfortable buffer to the left — separating riders from the high speed, and often confused, drivers who have traditionally frequented the area. And that work on re-striping the street should be finished today.

Fiji Way has long been the missing link in the Marvin Braude bike trail, the name given the full length of the bikeway connection Palos Verdes with Pacific Palisades

As well as one of the most dangerous streets for cyclists, with multiple near-daily collisions as drivers entered or exited driveways without looking for riders first — like this one. Or brushed past or rear-ended riders on the previously unmarked street.

This should go a long way towards reducing those collisions, making what had been a needlessly risky ride much safer.

And it’s a high-profile improvement that shows the county may really be committed to improving conditions for cyclists.

A glance of responsibility

I had planned to write about Bicycling’s recent article on defusing conflicts with angry drivers — and how I’d thought kowtowing wasn’t practiced anymore.

But then something happened on my ride Wednesday that was so surprising — and surprising that something so simple would be surprising — that I was lost in thought for the remainder of the day.

You see, part of my ride took me north on the bike path along the beach through Santa Monica and the Palisades. As I rode, I was passing pedestrians, skaters and slower riders so often that “On your left” was quickly becoming my new mantra.

Then I came upon a man who was riding slowly, pulling his child behind him with one of those trailers that attach to your bike. Just as I was swinging out to the left to go around him, he started to go around a pedestrian. But before he did, he looked over his shoulder, saw me behind him, and patiently waited for me to pass first.

I was stunned.

It’s not that things like that never happen. But they’re rare enough to make me notice when they do. So I slowed down for a moment to ride along next to him, complimenting his riding and thanking him for riding safely.

Because instead of acting carelessly, like so many riders, pedestrians and skaters seem to do there, he put his safety, as well as mine — and more importantly, that of his child — first.

We live in a society that’s quick to assess blame, and slow, if ever, to accept responsibility. We tend to make others responsible for our safety, and blame them — rather than our own actions — if anything happens to go wrong.

Like the story a few years back about the burglar who got injured falling through a roof, and filed suit against the property owner. Or a driver whose tire blew out at well over 100 mph and then sued the manufacturer — never mind that he was driving at over twice the legal speed limit.

I can’t tell you how many times a pedestrian has stepped out in front of me without looking, or another cyclist has pulled out to pass someone without first checking to see if anyone else is there. Then blamed me, rather than their own carelessness, for the near collision — even though I was the only one who kept us from colliding in the first place.

Of course, it doesn’t just happen on the bike path. I frequently see riders swerving into traffic to get around some obstacle without checking first to see if another bike, a car or a Mack truck is bearing down on them. Or consider the idiot who was riding on the wrong side of the street, then blamed the bike-riding driver who pulled out in front of him.

And it’s not just cyclists, pedestrians and the like. Drivers do it, too. Such as the one that cut me off on Montana yesterday — there’s that street again — when I was riding along side her.

I had a feeling she was going to move right without warning, so I’d been holding back a little so she could see me in her mirror; if she bothered to look, that is. Then just as I was starting to pass her, she began inching right towards an open a parking space, forcing me to jam on my brakes and swerve around her. All because she’d never bothered to check her mirrors, let alone her blind spot, and had no idea I was there.

Best of all, though, was the driver I saw honking and yelling, demanding that another car that was double parked on the opposite side of the street to move out of the way so he could make an illegal U-turn in his Escalade.

There’s only one thing these stories all have in common. In each case, they acted carelessly, and made other people responsible for the consequences of their actions, as well as for their own safety — and the safety of anyone else around them.

That’s why I was so impressed with that bike-riding, trailer-pulling father. By taking the simplest of actions — a mere glance back over his shoulder — he took full responsibility for his own safety.

And didn’t have to blame anyone else for the accident that didn’t happen.

 

The Times’ Bottleneck Blog reports on a story in the Wall Street Journal, which says San Fran’s new bike plan is being held up by a single gadfly who claims bicycling is bad for the environment. Actually, I think a far worse problem is getting mugged on the bike path. A paper from Mad City suggests cycling could be the new golf. A biker in Walla Walla posted a notice from the Washington legislature calling for more and safer bike routes — dated 1974. Finally, it looks like Gary’s car is looking for a good home.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Shocked — shocked! — I am to find bikes on the bike path

I never cease to be amazed at people who are shocked — shocked! — to discover bikes on the bike path.

Like the people who casually stroll along the bike lanes on Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue, the Marvin Braude (nee Santa Monica) bike path along the beach is inexplicably full of people who seem to have no clue that they might actually encounter bicycles as they blithely ignore the Bikes Only and No Pedestrian markings under their feet.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking the entire 22.3 mile length of the path. The upper portion along Will Rogers State Beach is usually okay, as is the lower portion through the South Bay, at least until you get to Hermosa Beach. No, I’m referring to the vastly over-populated portion from the Venice Pier north to the walkway under PCH at West Channel Road.

I’ve had a number of bizarre encounters there over the years, such as the time a toddler darted out from the parking lost directly in front of me. I jammed on my brakes and managed to come to a panic stop just inches from her.

So did the bystanders chastise her parents, for letting a small child run unsupervised like that? Or did they commend me for riding defensively, and putting the safety of a child ahead of my own?

Of course not.

Instead, I got to hear an old guy complaining about “all the damn bicycles on the bike path.” And I rode off, wondering just exactly what he expected to find there.

Then there was the woman so engrossed in her cell phone conversation that she stepped directly onto the bike path — and right in front of me — without ever looking up. So I yelled out a warning and learned hard to my left, then immediately back to the right, carving a perfect C shape right around her.

And then I made my big mistake. I stopped to make sure she was okay.

She started screaming at me — without ending her call, of course — for having the audacity to frighten her. Never mind that if she’d done the same thing on a city street, she’d probably be dead now. Or that a less experience cyclist probably would have crashed right into her, sending both of us to the ER.

No, as far as she was concerned, she was blameless and I was the bad guy, just because I tried to spare us both from serious injury.

In other words, blame bicyclists first.

Or take the large family of very large Texans I encountered near the volleyball courts awhile back. There were about 12 of them, all gathered in a group and completely blocking the entire bike path in both directions.

Eternal optimist that I am, I assumed that they would move aside to let me pass when I got close. But no, they just stared at me, their bovine expressions unchanging as they gazed at the approaching cyclist.

Polite requests to pass accomplished nothing. So finally I came to a full stop just feet in front of them and, exasperated, yelled at them to get out of the way.

That had the same effect as poking an enraged bull. The women started screaming at me and the men started moving angrily towards me. One woman, apparently the matriarch of the group, sputtered that they were from Texas, and had never encountered such rudeness.

So let’s recap, shall we? They were far from home, blocking a major pathway, preventing anyone else from passing in any direction, and ignoring every reasonable request for passage.

And I was the rude one?

Finally, some other riders approaching on the other side of the group called for them to move, as well, and slowly they gave way to either side, not unlike Moses parting the Red Sea.

And I rode off, wishing them a safe and speedy return to Texas.

Okay, so I may have left out the safe part.

Today’s must reads: Streetsblog reminds readers about tonight’s DWP meeting to discuss the annual Festival of Lights, giving us an opportunity to protest their absurd — and illegal — ban on bicycles (thanks to Alex Thompson for pointing us to section 21 of the state vehicle code). Speaking of Alex, he’s posted a beautiful reverie on racing a magical wave on Ballona Creek. The Time’s Bottleneck Blog provides the details of the proposed sales tax increase, which still lacks any provision for bicycles and pedestrians. And finally, sad news from my home town, where one rider was killed and another severely injured when they were stuck from behind by a drunk driver — at 5:20 in the morning.

Blame bikers first

Normally, I try to avoid try to avoid the Santa Monica and Venice sections of the Marvin Braude bike path, aka Santa Monica bike path, this time of year. But I got out a little earlier than usual yesterday, so I thought I’d try to squeeze in a quick ride along the beach before it to got too late and the path became overrun with tourists and pedestrians.

And it was, for the most part, a pleasant experience. I did my best to ride safely and courteously, keeping my speed down and waiting behind slower riders until it was safe to pass, and announcing to the assorted riders, skaters, walkers, shopping cart jockeys, et al, that I was passing whenever appropriate.

Of course, there was that one incident. As there usually is.

A couple of surfers stepped out onto the path, without looking, maybe 10 feet in front of me, their surf boards parallel to the ground and blocking most of the path. So I yelled out a warning, then swung quickly to the left and immediately back to the right, avoiding them safely so we could all continue enjoying our day.

And that was when I heard a woman on my right yelling something about “aggressive cyclists.”

Of course, there was no way she could have seen what had just happened, so it was clear that she had just heard my warning, and immediately went into the ever popular Blame Bicyclists First mode.

Which left me to wonder just what it was that I had done wrong. Was that I warned them to avoid an accident? Or simply that I had the audacity to actually ride a bicycle on the bike path?

Or was it the mere fact of my spandex clad existence?

Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new. A few weeks ago, I was riding along a busy street with heavy traffic buzzing past my shoulder, when I saw a couple of young women standing in the middle of the bike lane up ahead as they waited to cross the street (illegally, of course).

They continued to just stand there as I approached, blocking my path as they gazed mindlessly at the cyclist bearing down on them. Finally, I yelled for them to get out of the way; their response, as their feet stood firmly planted in the bike lane in front of me, was “Fuck you.”

My only option was to jam on my brakes, coming to a stop just feet in front them. Which lead to a argument, of course. And sure enough, within a few moments, one of the local shop owners — who had no idea what had started the argument — came out and threatened to call the police and have me arrested.

Why? Because I’m a cyclist. And as we all know, cyclists are evil.

Which leads to this: last night’s public meeting to discuss the problems in Mandeville Canyon was cancelled, replaced by the first meeting of a task force to discuss the issue. (LAist has also posted a new video from Dual Chase productions on how to ride the canyon safely.)

Meanwhile, a group of bike and pedestrian advocates are collecting signatures to request that a mere 2 percent of Metro’s planned 1/2 cent sales tax increase be allocated for bike and pedestrian issues — that’s just 1% each to help keep bikers and pedestrians safe and alive.

And councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is rapidly turning into the biking community’s best friend, continues to support the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, and is calling for a larger discussion of the issues confronting bicyclists and drivers throughout the city later this year.

If you ask me, that can’t happen soon enough.

 

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