Tag Archive for Santa Monica Spoke

Two of SoCal’s best bike advocates are finalists for national Advocate of the Year award

When I started this site, it seemed like you could count the female bike advocates on one hand.

And still have enough fingers left over for the inappropriate gesture of your choice. Wherever you chose to direct it.

Times, thankfully, have changed.

In only a few short years, women riders have risen to the ranks of the most notable advocates fighting for the rights and safety of cyclists with organizations throughout the US. As well as right here in suddenly soggy Southern California.

Two, in particular, have drawn attention for helping reshape the cities in which they live and ride. And I’ve had the privilege of watching both develop into people I would not want to meet in a metaphorical dark alley if I stood on the wrong side of support for bicycling.

Which is not to say Santa Monica’s Cynthia Rose isn’t one of the most pleasant human beings I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

Hard to believe that it was only a few years ago that she was asking me for advice on how to work with city officials to improve the lot of bike riders and improve relations with police in the LA area’s city by the bay. Fortunately for all of us, she didn’t take it.

Instead, she forged her own path, building close working relationships with city officials and forming Santa Monica Spoke — now an affiliate chapter of the LACBC — in the process. And leading to her election to the board of the California Bicycle Coalition.

Now she is one of the most knowledgeable, insightful and persuasive advocates anywhere. And the formerly less than bike-friendly city she represents is challenging, if not surpassing, Long Beach for supremacy as the area’s top bike city.

Whenever someone says change is too hard, if not impossible, I point to Cynthia as a perfect example of what one highly motivated person can do.

And yes, I know it’s not polite to point.

On the other hand, San Diego’s Sam Ollinger is a force of nature.

I first got to know Sam as a fellow blogger who I often linked to as she covered the nascent bike scene in our neighbor to the south with rare passion and intelligence.

It was enough to get her an invitation to join the board of the local bicycle coalition, just as it did me a seeming lifetime ago. But she soon found herself butting heads with the entrenched interests of vehicular cyclists who have long dominated the city John Forester calls home.

She also asked my opinion more than once in late night emails on how she should proceed against seemingly unbearable friendly fire. Frankly, I don’t know if she ever took it.

But she quickly went from board member of the SDBC to founder of BikeSD, the city’s first and only 501(c)4 bicycling non-profit dedicated to political action.

And in the process, has helped reshape the future of bicycling in San Diego, as well as the present. Including the recent election for mayor in which both candidates came out strongly in support of bicycling.

Like Cynthia, she finds also herself on the board of the state’s leading bicycling organization.

Together, they have already significantly improved bicycling in Southern California, and are working to put their stamp on the state as a whole. And inspiring women and bicycling advocates of all stripes throughout the US.

Especially now that both are finalists for next week’s Advocate of the Year Award.

I can’t speak for any of the other nominees. But based on from my own personal experiences with both, don’t ask me to choose between the two.

Each has grown to be among the most outstanding people and bicycling advocates it has ever been my pleasure to know.

And both Cynthia Rose and Sam Ollinger more deserve the award.

If it was up to me, it would end in a tie.

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Speaking of Cynthia Rose, the Spoke is asking for tax deductible donations to send her to next week’s National Bike Summit 2014. Just $1500 is needed to add her voice to the national bike congress.

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Now for the bad news.

In an incredibly misguided decision, a California appeals court has ruled that the next distracted driver who plows into a cyclist with face firmly planted in his or her cell phone map app won’t be breaking the law.

In a case involving a Sacramento motorist, the 5th District Court of Appeal said the state’s ban on hand-held cell phone use only applies to making calls or texting, rather than using it for any other purpose.

So in theory, a driver could be looking at a phone for virtually any purpose, from texting to reading email or downloading porn behind the wheel.

And if a cop happened to spot him or her, all they’d have to do is call up their mapping app before pulling over, making the hand-held cell phone ban virtually unenforceable.

Hopefully, this case will go to the California Supreme Court where, with any luck, the judges won’t have their heads planted so far up their own posteriors.

Because this wrong-headed decision just put the lives of everyone on our streets at risk.

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After years of complaints from lost bike riders, LADOT promises wayfinding signs throughout the city. And offers you a chance to check them out in advance.

A writer for the Times says less parking for cars, more parking for bikes. On the other hand, the usual bike-hating letter writers aren’t so understanding.

Loz Feliz locals say they’d rather keep all their traffic lanes on the Hyperion bridge, and screw anyone who doesn’t use a car to cross it.

Better Bike offers an open letter to the Beverly Hills City Council in support of bike lanes on a reconstructed Santa Monica Blvd through the city, which comes up for a vote before the council next Tuesday.

A Santa Monica police sting helps a theft victim get his stolen bike back after spotting it on Craigslist, along with two others.

The first local non-LA ciclovia could follow Huntington Drive through the San Gabriel Valley: thanks to BikeSGV for the tip. Maybe you were photographed at one of the previous CicLAvias.

A permanent memorial was installed on the Cal Poly Pomona campus today to honor fallen cyclist and Cal Poly student Ivan Aguilar, who was killed on the campus one year ago today.

When you’re riding in Carson with meth and a concealed shotgun, don’t commit vehicle code violations, whatever that means. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

Cycling in the South Bay looks at who brakes for whom. Or at all.

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal reports a cyclist was injured in a collision with an SUV on Thursday. But why do they insist on putting “Cannondale” in quotation marks when they don’t do that with “Acura RDX?” Not that bikes are treated like others or anything.

More on California’s proposed vulnerable user law. Personally, I’d much rather see a modified version of the European strict liability laws, which places greater responsibility for avoiding collisions on the operator of the more dangerous vehicle.

Introducing a new line of bike-to-boardroom bicycling business attire, and creative ways to light your bike at night.

Yesterday’s road raging Portland bike rider attempts to explain himself, sort of.

Yeah, let’s blame the victim for riding on the street, not the hit-and-run driver who killed him.

It’s not the New York bike lanes that cause double parking, even if the local press thinks the ones getting the tickets are the victims. And sometimes, it’s the cops doing the blocking.

Good thing the era of doping is over, as a Venezuelan pro tests off the charts in blood screening tests.

London will spend £300 million — the equivalent of $500 million — to fix 33 killer junctions; does LA even know where the most dangerous intersections for cyclists and pedestrians are?

A shocking Chinese study shows the higher the speed at which a car is travelling, the more likely it is to kill a cyclist or pedestrian. In other surprising results, water is wet and it gets dark when you turn out the lights.

An Aussie paper calls for a 6 mph speed limit for bikes to prevent injuries to pedestrians, but doesn’t suggest a mandatory helmet law for anyone on foot. Or slowing down drivers to prevent injuries to cyclists.

Another Aussie paper says there’s no suggestion that a fatal bike crash was deliberate. So why did they suggest it?

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Finally, a bike-hating Chicago columnist says fuck cyclists because they — we — are worse than Hitler, and no one should be on a bike if they’re older than 13.  Or rather,

Bicyclists are worse than Hitler carrying a cancer death-ray shooting puppies, playing Justin Bieber music on repeat while your cell phone has 2 percent battery.

I realize he’s trying — and failing — to be funny. He should also fail at keeping his job.

Then again, he could take lessons from the semi-literate bike hater who called London cyclists wretched “Talebans” who poison people’s lives.

Cyclists-Talebans

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

Rolling down Rodeo Drive and the best of the Westside with the LACBC last Sunday

Some of the riders before the start, including the Spoke's Cynthia Rose in the purple top; photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

Okay, so it turned out to be a very long ride.

When I mapped out a route for the I ♥ the Westside ride, the second in the LACBC’s new series of Sunday Funday rides, I rode the 28 mile route in about two hours without breaking a sweat.

So I added another hour to my estimate to allow for a series of five minute stops to discuss different cities and issues along the way. And then added another half hour just to be safe, and assumed everyone would be on their way home to watch the Super Bowl commercials by 1:30.

Paul Backstrom discusses the proposed Main Street road diet in Venice

Like the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

What I hadn’t counted on was the need to stop — repeatedly — when riders were cut off by traffic or red lights. Not mention an unexpected encounter with the Sweet E’s Bakeshop truck in Culver City.

I learned a long time ago never to come between cyclists and their cupcakes.

In the end, we got back to our pier-side start point over an hour after what I thought was a very generous worst case scenario.

Rick Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation discusses native plants on Ballona Creek

On the other hand, we made it without a single flat or mechanical problem. And everyone who started out either made it to the finish with the rest of the group, or left along the route to meet other obligations.

That alone made it a successful ride in my book.

I also learned that leading a ride is a lot like hosting a party — you spend so much time looking after everyone that you barely spend time with anyone.

There were a lot of great people that I didn’t get to spend as much time with as I wanted. And some I didn’t get to meet at all, much to my regret. In fact, 42 riders started out, including four new members of the LACBC who signed up that morning.

An unexpected Culver City food truck encounter made it a very sweet ride

And everyone seemed to have a great time, myself included. Then again, any day on a bike is a good day, and the perfect Westside weather and great guest speakers just made it that much better.

We started off with a brief presentation from the LACBC affiliate Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose, who offered a brief overview of the many projects the Spoke is working on to make L.A.’s city by the bay live up to it’s bike-friendly status.

After a brief jaunt down Main Street, I asked if anyone could tell me when we left Santa Monica and entered Los Angeles; not surprisingly, almost everyone was able to pinpoint the exact spot where the bike lanes ended, the road widened to two lanes and traffic sped up.

Jim Shanman discusses the work of the recently formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition

That lead to Paul Backstrom from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office speaking for a few minutes about the proposed road diet that would tame the L.A. section of Main, by creating a mirror image of the Santa Monica stretch. He noted that the city is working on solutions to move the bike lanes that would result out of the door zone, which has been fairly criticized in the original plans.

As we rode up Ballona Creek, Rick Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation and one of the city’s leading bike advocates, volunteered to talk about the native plants and rest area that had recently been installed along the bikeway, as well as a water filtration system designed to keep pollutants out of the bay.

Bikes roll down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

When we got to Culver City, Jim Shanman spoke briefly about the efforts of the newly formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition and their work on the new Culver City bike plan. And invited everyone to come back to participate in the LACBC-affiliate group’s next monthly Family Ride on the 27th.

One of my first thoughts in planning this ride had been that I wanted to see bikes rolling down Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Bentley-choked Rodeo drive. But I regretted that I hadn’t had time to reach out to Mark Elliot of the group Better Bike Beverly Hills — yes, yet another LACBC affiliate — to join us on the ride.

Mark Elliot talks about Better Bike Beverly Hills' work to make the city friendlier to bikes

So while we were stopped in Culver City, I asked if any of the riders were from Beverly Hills. When one man raised his hand, I asked if he was involved with the BBBH.

He introduced himself as Mark, and said “I founded it.”

That was how I finally met Mark Elliot, one of my personal heroes among local bike advocates, if only because he’s taken on one of the hardest battles in the L.A. area.

So when we got to Beverly Hills — which currently lacks a single inch of bike lane — Mark spoke about the work his group has been doing to transform the Westside’s bicycling black hole into something more ridable. Including the group’s efforts to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure Santa Monica Blvd to make it, not just safe for cyclists, but actually inviting for the countless riders who now go out of their way to avoid it.

I talked about the decline of Westwood and biking through the VA; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

At our stop in Westwood Village, I spoke briefly about the decline of one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, and my personal vision to turn Westwood Blvd into a pedestrian walkway from Wilshire to the UCLA campus. We also discussed the new Veterans Administration master plan and the importance of regaining bike access through the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which was closed to bikes after 9/11 — evidently because of the threat that bicycles would pose to all the people buried there.

LACBC Executive Director Jen Klausner talks about the perils of riding and walking in Brentwood

Finally, Jen Klausner, Executive Director of the LACBC, spoke about the dangers that cyclists and pedestrians face in the Brentwood area, as well as the lack of adequate infrastructure to protect them from the dangerous behaviors and sense of entitlement displayed by many Westside drivers.

In the end, it was a great day, combining a fun, beautiful ride with an overview of local advocacy.

LACBC board member Alex Amerri (in white) will lead the next Sunday Funday ride March 6th

And it sets the stage for next month’s Sunday Funday #3, in which fellow board member Alex Amerri will lead a fast-paced 62-mile ride through the north San Gabriel Valley.

And riders on that one probably won’t have to worry about the group being broken up by red lights.

My thanks to everyone who turned out for the ride, especially Cynthia Rose, Paul Backstrom, Jim Stanman and Mark Elliot for their help in discussing the issues and opportunities for bicycling on the Westside. And special thanks to the LACBC’s Jen Klausner, Joni Yung, Alex Amerri, Greg Laemmle, Carol Feucht and Martin Lopez-lu for making it a success.

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Photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

 

Harry Dougherty offers a great set of photos from Sunday’s ride — definitely better than my feeble attempts and worth the click to take a look.

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LAB calls on Colorado cyclists to support proposed legislation to fight the Black Hawk bike ban. I’d go a step further and encourage any cyclists to write in to support the legislation; Colorado’s economy depends on tourism, so your opinions on the misguided ban on bikes that could affect your decision to visit the state matters.

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The LACBC notes that a second workshop will be held Thursday night on the proposed redesign of the South Figueroa Corridor that could result in the city’s first true Complete Street, incorporating real pedestrian and bike access.

And don’t forget Wednesday’s 2:30 pm joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Committees at Downtown City Hall to consider the city’s draft bike plan; this is the last public hearing before it goes to the full Council for approval. At the moment, it looks like illness will keep me away, but I urge you to show your support if you can make it.

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Kids, don’t try this at home! A cyclist was injured in a collision with a Blue Line train on Monday. According to authorities, he was holding onto a moving bus while wearing headphones and turned into the train when he let go.

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Long Beach finally eliminates their illegal bike licensing law. A driver sticks her neck out to support the Wilbur Ave road diet (scroll down). RSVP now for a free bicycle inspection and safety check workshop at the Bike Oven Wednesday night. The city’s first bike corral will be officially unveiled Friday morning in front of Café de Leche in Highland Park. CicLAvia invites you to help extend its route into South L.A. Flying Pigeon blogger Mickey Wally offers more of his great urban cycling photos. Green LA Girl talks with Jessica Meaney of Safe Routes to Schools. Car-less Valley Girl asks drivers not to mess with the balance on the street. How to contest a bad police collision report. Charlie Gandy talks about Long Beach’s bike-friendly successes in Corona del Mar. Tracking San Francisco’s most dangerous streets for cyclists. The Bay Citizen analyzes two years of bike collision data, and finds riders responsible for most wrecks — with the chief cause pedaling too fast. Huh? Now this kind of harassment from a passing car I wouldn’t complain about.

Dave Moulton says learn something from DC’s Swanson case, and don’t let matters surrounding the death of cyclist Ben Acree in San Diego last weekend drag on for three years. Better food and bicycling could be the cure for childhood obesity. If there’s a war on cars, then why are so many of the victims pedestrians (and cyclists)? Portland authorities search for the hit-and-run schmuck who ran down a stage 4 cancer patient. A Seattle lawyer jumps head-first into the Great Helmet Debate, concluding skid lids leave a lot to be desired. A Washington woman wins a lawsuit against REI for a defective bike part one day after she died in a backcountry accident. A Minneapolis study clearly shows the rate of bike crashes goes down as ridership increases. New York cyclists are up in arms over a citation to a rider for not wearing a helmet — even though that’s not illegal under New York law. A HuffPo writer urges a backlash to the New York anti-bike backlash. More than half a million New Yorkers ride more than once a month, but the Daily News hasn’t seemed to notice; makes you wonder what other stories they might be missing.

Brit blue-eyed soul singer Adele rides a bike. Pro cyclist Riccardo Riccò is hospitalized with kidney failure after allegedly botching a transfusion in an attempt to kick-start his comeback from a 2008 doping ban, while TdF winner Alberto Contador plans to fight the relative slap on the wrist Spanish authorities are reportedly planning to give him. Somehow, people shocked! shocked! to discover the windshield perspective of the host of the BBC’s top-rated Top Gear show; BBC radio is starting a 10 part series on the history of the bike.  L.A. cyclists have to contend with big ugly cars, while Dutch cyclists have to worry about big friendly dogs. The 2012 Olympic road course will finish with a sprint ending at Buckingham Palace; no word on whether the Queen’s corgis will be in attendance.

Finally, a non-bike related conclusion as a motorcyclist’s helmet cam shows exactly what it’s like to get rear-ended at stop, but without the pain, courtesy of Cyclelicious. Will Campbell plans a train-assisted March March through the real Eastside along historic Whittier Blvd; knowing both Will and Whittier, this one you won’t want to miss.

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