Tag Archive for scofflaw cyclists

Morning Links: Petition urges tougher hit-and-run penalties; an LA cyclist says you’re not above the law, either

A new petition urges tougher penalties for hit-and-run drivers who injure or kill bicyclists, runners or pedestrians, in the wake of the gentle wrist-caress plea deal given the drunken killer of cyclist Andy Garcia.

If you’ve been coming here for awhile, you know I’ve offered my own suggestions on how to put an end to hit-and-runs once and for all.

Meanwhile, another petition calls for an end to the common practice of driving — legally — without plates, which makes it virtually impossible to identify drivers who flee after injuring or killing someone. Although some people want to remove the requirement for a front plate entirely because it reduces aerodynamics and might get dinged during a car wash.

Seriously.

But if some driver takes off after running over my ass, I want the cops to be able to read the imprint of the jerk’s license plate embedded on my butt cheeks.

One way or another, though, something has to be done now to stop dangerous drivers from running away like the cowards they are after colliding with another person or vehicle.

And force them to take responsibility for their actions.

Willingly or not.

……..

An LA bike blogger offers a word of advice to his fellow bike riders:

JUST QUIT BREAKING THE DAMN LAW, PEOPLE!

It’s a good read. And he’s got a point.

Though I might argue with the suggestion that the distain some drivers have for cyclists is justified by our own bad behavior.

But I’ve had the same experience he has of obeying the law only to watch another rider blow through the red light or stop sign I’ve stopped for. Or pausing to observe a motorist’s right-of-way only to have a cyclist swerve dangerously around me and cut the car off — then flip off the driver for the chaos he created.

And yes, it’s inevitably a he.

Granted, traffic laws were not written with cyclists in mind. And sometimes safety dictates observing the spirit, rather than the letter of the law.

But we can’t expect others on the roads to obey the laws we choose to flaunt.

There’s absolutely nothing that says traffic regulations don’t apply to you. Or me, for that matter.

And let’s not forget that if anything bad does happen, you’ll likely lose any chance of an insurance or legal settlement if it can be shown you were even partly in the wrong. Regardless of what the other party may or may not have done.

It may not be fair.

But that’s the world we live in these days.

……..

Local

Flying Pigeon shows how it’s done when they successfully bike the vote at the recent NELA Neighborhood Council elections.

Bodacious Bike Babes visited Union Station in advance of its 75th — not 25th — anniversary.

UCLA celebrates Bike Week next week.

The annual Palms Bike Rodeo takes place this Saturday.

 

State

The OC Register reports on Sunday’s Dana Point Grand Prix that left five women riders injured.

Bike riders take over San Diego’s Barrio Logan for a full day of all-ages bike racing.

In a nice gesture, a San Jose writer suggests naming a bike boulevard after a local priest who was killed while riding his bike.

 

National

Sadly, Silicon Valley actor and “fanatical” cyclist Chris Welch succumbs to the cancer he’d battled since 2010.

Streetsblog remembers bike-friendly former Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar.

A Las Vegas driver faces DUI charges when he hits a 12-year old bike rider before and after slamming into multiple parked cars, then fleeing the scene.

A Portland bike rider files suit against the city after she’s injured on streetcar tracks trying to avoid people standing in the bike lane.

New York cyclists celebrate the Blessing of the Bicycles; LA riders will celebrate ours next Tuesday as Good Samaritan Hospital honors Ghost Bikes LA. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

As helmets become more common for kid’s activities, including bike riding, they still do nothing to prevent concussions. As I’ve learned the hard way.

 

International

A UK rider points out the indignities women have to put up with when she’s slapped on the ass from a passing motorcycle. Unfortunately, that’s a story I’ve heard too often from other women, as well.

Now that’s more like it. British drivers who kill while driving with a suspended license will now face 10 years in prison. Then again, I’d vote for prison time for anyone who continues to drive after their license has been revoked.

Nice promo for the inaugural Women’s Tour of Great Britain this month.

 

Finally…

Top women’s pro cyclist Evelyn Stevens is just the latest to offer a video on how to change a flat tire — after the proper nourishment, of course. And a new video shows how not to lock your bike like an idiot.

 

Morning Links: Turns out most bike riders don’t run red lights after all, and TdF winner LeMond fixes le flat

The next time someone tells you all bike riders run red lights, show them this.

According to a new study from Portland State University, an overwhelming 94% of bicyclists in four Oregon cities — not just bike-friendly Portland — stopped for red lights. And 89% were observed obeying the rules perfectly, while 4% jumped the light just before it changed.

Only a paltry 6% actually blew the lights.

The study was based on a review of over 2,000 videos from intersection crossing cameras. Which means there was no observational bias from researchers at the scene, or riders acting on their best behavior because they knew they were being watched.

As Bike Portland’s Michael Anderson notes, that compares to an estimated 36% to 77% of drivers who break the speed limit.

Which makes you wonder just who the real scofflaws are.

Interestingly, the study also notes that nearly four times as many helmetless riders ran their lights than helmet-clad riders.

Make of that what you will.

……..

America’s only remaining Tour de France winner responds to that recent video of Lance Armstrong fixing a flat with one of his own. And proves he’s a real blowhard in the best possible sense.

And speaking of TdF winners, the first women’s winner in recent years will be crowned with one-day circuit race before the men arrive on the Champs-Elysees on the final day.

……..

Local

Looks like there will be 10 of those new LA bike repair stations in the initial rollout.

NELA’s anti-bike Boulevard Sentinel accuses bicyclists of successfully hijacking this past weekend’s Neighborhood Council elections; a better description might be democracy in action.

BikeSGV is looking for bike count volunteers starting this weekend.

Long Beach ranks third on a list of the country’s 20 most bicycle-friendly cities behind San Francisco and Austin; Portland ranks a surprisingly low 15th.

The Long Beach Post looks at Stylish by Bike, part of the city’s annual Bike Fest this Saturday.

 

State

Bicycling suggests a few classic rides to create your own tour of California.

A Newport Beach city council member says improve safety on the Back Bay, rather than restricting usage as some have called for.

Bike share is coming to La Jolla and the rest of the San Diego area this June. Meanwhile, LA’s bike share program is scheduled to open a week from who the hell knows.

Riverside cyclists can look forward to a Cinco de Mayo ride next Monday.

The Times offers more details on that 17-year old Sacramento County driver who deliberately chased down a 10-year old boy after someone threw a water bottle at her SUV. The victim was riding bikes with his brother when the girl attacked him, dragging him 10 feet beneath her vehicle; according to a CHP spokesperson, she was non-remorseful and didn’t seem to care that she’d just committed assault with a deadly weapon.

 

National

Forget hockey — if you really want organized violence, try bike polo. But do we need yet another story saying cycling is the new golf?

Utah police can’t explain how a collision that took the life of two bike riders happened, but somehow conclude the driver wasn’t at fault.

Denver cyclist with early-onset Alzheimer’s plans to ride 100 miles to fight the disease.

Dallas considers repealing its rarely enforced helmet law to encourage bicycling and allow a successful bike share program.

America’s most famous college bike race — and the setting for Breaking Away — took place with another successful Little 500 last weekend.

The NYPD cracks down on Critical Mass while ignoring speeding drivers. So which one poses the greater threat to the public, I wonder?

 

International

Sadly, a British adventurer on a round-the-world bike tour is killed in a Bolivian collision.

People for Bikes offers three lessons from Calgary’s great bike leap forward.

Bike racing’s governing body establishes a commission to promote non-competitive events. Despite what the article suggests, there is no governing body for riding your bike down the street.

Caught on video: A Brit driver deliberately runs down a bike rider from behind, then backs up and flees the scene.

Evidently, Aussie women go out of their way not to commute by bike.

 

Finally…

There’s a new poster child for drunk driving, as an intoxicated motorist drove onto an off-road trail — and plowed into a marathon raising funds to fight drug and alcohol abuse.

And I don’t even know what to say about this one, as a Santa Rosa woman assaults customers and staff in a Dollar Store, steals not one but two bikes, and is finally arrested with Vicodin, a meth pipe and some things she stole from the store.

 

Today’s post, in which we discuss the anti-bike biased, and breaking the law in the name of good

Stolen with permission from Carlton Reid; click on photo for more.

I love this photo, stolen with permission from Carlton Reid.

There’s been a new round of bike hate rearing its ugly head lately.

Most of it somewhat confusing.

Like this piece forwarded by bike rider and motorsport enthusiast Michael Eisenberg, in which a Brit driver takes cyclists to task.

For not knowing our place. And not waving.

Seriously.

Today’s cyclists seem to be angry.  They seem not to enjoy what they do but to grimly pursue their ‘hobby’ in the name of fitness.  They seem to think other road users are a threatening morass of metal out to kill them.  So they spew vibes of resentment and refuse to acknowledge the presence of anything else.  They do not flinch.

The problem is they travel at one third the speed of other traffic and never recognise that fact nor do anything about it.  I don’t mean that cyclists should get out of my way, I mean that after I have waited behind said two-wheeled leg-driven machine that the human on top of it could at least raise a hand and acknowledge my patience, and I will wave back at him to acknowledge his politeness and right to use the same roads as I do.

Cyclists and other road users should get along.  They don’t because they’re either in a race (which no-one else is allowed to do on the road) or because they have a deep in-built sense of entitlement to the detriment of everyone else.

They grit their teeth and hate us.

And yet, he acknowledges that many cyclists are drivers, and vice versa. But insists that we hate them — or us — when we ride, whoever we and us and them happen to be at any given time.

So, when I ride, I hate myself for driving when I’m not riding, right?

Okay, so he’s got a point.

We can all be a  little friendlier when we ride. A little wave of thanks or a nod and smile here and there can make a big difference in your day. And theirs.

But the rest just makes my head hurt.

Then there’s this piece from a writer in the San Fernando Valley, who hates bike riders, in part, because a drunk smelled of booze fell off his bike and scratched her Mercedes.

Even though that drunk probably would have done a lot more damage if he’d been behind the wheel. Or likely just as much if not more if he’d been on foot.

And to be honest, the overwhelming majority of bike riders may smell of something. But’s it’s probably not liquor; that usually comes later.

I mean, she’s more than welcome to sniff me after my next half century.

But what really set her off was having to swerve to avoid a bike rider who had the audacity to take a tumble in front of her expensive German engineered automobile.

In fact, on Wednesday I saw a potentially lethal accident almost occur in a busy Victory Boulevard intersection near my house when a man who was riding his bike and talking on his cell phone lost control of his bike and fell in the middle of the friggin’ street! It happened in front of me so I saw him and maneuvered around his sorry self. I don’t know if everybody behind me saw him and avoided hitting him or not. But hey, we drivers are not allowed to drive and talk on cell phones at the same time. But apparently bicyclists are. That incident is the reason I am writing this.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

But if it’s a potentially lethal accident, wouldn’t anyone with the slightest bit of human compassion try to stop her car in front of the victim to keep drivers running over him?

Or at least stop afterwards to see if the guy needs help, and wave other motorists around him?

No, she’d rather just swerve around his crumpled body and go on her merry way. Then complain about what a jerk he was later.

Then again, maybe she was just trying to avoid a parking ticket.

And yes, under current California law, bike riders are allowed to use a cell phone while they ride, on the assumption that our 20 pound bikes pose less risk than her multi-ton machine, regardless of distraction.

………

Not all the recent conversation has been filed with hate, though.

In a mostly positive piece, a Philadelphia bicyclist extolls the virtues of breaking the law. Not all the time, of course; just when it makes sense for safety and convenience.

I broke a law and one that I hold in much higher esteem than stopping at a red light when there are no cars or pedestrians around. I did it because I feared for my safety, which is very often my motivation when breaking traffic laws on my bike. Cars are scary as hell. A lot of people just see them as a given, practically an appendage. Get out of my way, I’m drivin’ here. (Studies show that drivers are at fault in the vast majority of auto/bicycle crashes.)

On the whole, I’m a pretty civilized biker. I don’t salmon down one-way streets, I don’t ride on the sidewalk, and when I arrive at a four-way intersection after a car I try to indicate that they should just treat me as another vehicle and go first. But biking in the city can be dangerous, and I’ll take the law into my own hands when I feel threatened. I even break the sacrosanct sidewalk rule when I bike up to my apartment, as the street in front of it is usually lined with cars and lacks a northward stop sign, so drivers frequently blast down it at alarming speeds. I’m not dismounting there, thanks.

He’s got a point.

I’m a firm believer in following the law all the time. Except when I don’t.

Out of all the stop signs on the Westside, there’s only one I run, because the placement of the sign makes stopping there more dangerous than not.

And while I insist riders should never, ever ride salmon, I’ve been know to do it for short distances when a gap in traffic makes it the safest option to get to my destination.

But that’s the thing.

Traffic laws weren’t written with bicyclists in mind. While obeying them provides the safest and best choice in the overwhelming majority of situations, you’re the one with your life on the line. And it’s up to you to make the decisions that will best ensure your safety.

And that doesn’t always mean following the letter of the law.

On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean riding like a jerk just because you can.

As far as I’m concerned, it comes down to this. The highest law of bicycling is to always ride safely; that is, in a way that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to yourself or those around you.

Most of the time that means obeying the law.

And sometimes, it doesn’t.

………

Unbeknownst to me, Contour — the make of my helmet cam — went belly up in August; one of the original investors may try to resuscitate the brand.

………

The coming artistic revolution will not be coming by car. Advocates continue to push for a more livable Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex; maybe there’s a better plan. The Ghost Bikes of LA exhibit opens tonight. Culver City council to consider bike parking on Monday. Malibu hits the brakes on a study of PCH parking; but don’t you have to know what the problem is before you can solve it? Spooky Cross comes to the Pomona Fairplex this weekend. Next month’s LACBC Sunday Funday Ride visits the architectural gems of LA’s most upscale neighborhood with the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire Ride November 3rd. CICLE and Metro team up for a Northridge Delis, Desserts and Deliciousness Ride on the 16th. The LACBC and LA Walks invite you to discuss the Public Health Approach to Walking and Biking November 21st. Ride 2 Recovery rolls through the Central Coast. Chico prepares a ghost bike for a fallen cyclist who did everything right and died anyway.

If bicycling is booming, why are bike sales down? How not to be a bike jerk in three easy steps. Good advice: stop riding when your butt hurts. Speaking of which, an Indiegogo campaign promises to deliver more comfortable bike jeans for women. An “indicator species” cyclist says bike lanes are bad, even though studies show they improve safety. Denver reaches 100 miles of bike lanes. A Chicago alderman calls for a $25 annual registration fee for bikes; good way to discourage bike riding and increase traffic congestion. Meanwhile, an anti-bike columnist says $25 isn’t enough, let’s make it $100, while a cyclist says bike riders should pay their share, so where’s her check? A Chicago thief is caught on video trying to steal 384 pounds of meat by bike; if he can lift that much that easily, he must be the world’s strongest man. New York wins its first lawsuit over bike share docks. New York cops ignore the state’s careless driving law. A DC driver uses Craigslist to apologize to the cyclist she almost hit. WaPo looks at the quest to reinvent bicycling. The president of Virginia Tech right hooks a bike rider, then sends her flowers to make up for it. A cyclist bikes the Underground Railroad.

Once again, the bike rider wins a commuter challenge, this time in Vancouver. Ontario considers increasing penalties for distracted driving. London’s flawed bike safety campaign extends to five other UK cities. A UK cyclist is charged with wanton and furious cycling for the collision that gravely injured a young girl. A British bicycling organization says white lines aren’t enough to keep cyclists safe, while London’s coroner calls for further action to save the lives of bike riders. Maybe it’s me, but when you erect safety barriers after a cyclist gets killed, isn’t it a little too late? After the cyclist he hit dies in his arms, a UK truck driver tells the court it’s been bad for his family, but worse for his victim’s; nice to see someone who gets it for a change. A new Streetfilm looks at how the Netherlands transformed itself for cycling. Long-time German pro Andreas Kloeden calls it a career; is it just me, or are a lot of riders from the doping era retiring now that pro cycling has supposedly cleaned up its act? Bikes are outselling cars in virtually every European country. Why banning bikes is bad for Kolkata, or Calcutta, or whatever you want to call it. Saudi women to protest laws prohibiting them from riding bikes. Japan teaches students not to be killer cyclists; yeah, I’m sure that’s the biggest death risk on the country’s roads.

Finally, what a seriously hairy downhill and 360 degree flip look like from the rider’s perspective. And if you want to see more breathtaking bike photos, take a look at this series from yesterday’s ride by UK bike journalist Carlton Reid.

Dramatic drop in SoCal cycling deaths; Santa Monica police to focus on bad bicyclists behavior in April

Let’s take the good news first.

Only one bike rider appears to have been killed in the entire seven-county Southern California region last month.

According to my records, the only March cycling fatality was 29-year old Pacific Beach resident David Ortiz. As you may recall, Ortiz was originally blamed for riding against traffic, when it actually turned out that he was riding with traffic on his way to work, and was the apparent victim of a hit-and-run driver.

How police could possibly make that mistake is beyond me.

But that’s it.

One death is still one too many, but a single fatality in a region that averages nearly per month is a remarkable improvement. And it compares very favorably to last year when five riders died on SoCal streets in the month of March.

In fact, if we exclude the intentional murder of Corona cyclist Herman Armando Villalobos, the nine cycling fatalities so far this year are exactly half of the 18 that were recorded in the region in the first three months of last year.

As for the reason for that improvement, your guess is as good as mine.

Maybe after a horrible year in 2011, in which 71 cyclists lost their lives in traffic-related wrecks — and another nine were murdered by gunfire — we’re returning to the levels of recent years, with 55 fatalities in 2008 and 2009, and an official count of 48 in 2010.

Or maybe drivers and bicyclists are finally figuring out how to safely coexist on the asphalt.

My fear is that there may be cycling fatalities that just aren’t making the news; at least two occurred last year that were never reported in the media. Or that Google’s recently revised algorithms may mean some stories just don’t rise to the level necessary to show up in my daily news searches.

Although the readers of this site are very good at ensuring important stories make my radar, for which I am very grateful.

Still, just one death for the entire month of March is good news.

Because one death is very close to none.

And it proves it just may be possible to achieve a bicycling Vision Zero, in which no cyclists die on the streets of Southern California.

And if that isn’t the goal of every elected official, it should be.

……..

Now let’s correct a mistake I made over the weekend.

Pacific Palisades’ George Wolfberg — who somehow manages the remarkable feat of flying beneath the radar of most local cyclists despite being one of the area’s most vital bike advocates — forwarded an email to me from a representative of the Santa Monica police, noting that they will be focusing on law-breaking cyclists in the month of April.

And in my rush to get out the door on Saturday, I promptly tweeted that it was from the LAPD. Only to have that promptly retweeted by a dozen or so people.

So imagine my shame when I got back home and read the email again.

Mea culpa. Maxima mea culpa.

My apologies to George, the SMPD, LAPD, and everyone who read or forwarded that mistaken message. My cheeks have been red ever since, and not just from trying to ride in our recent winds.

So here’s the real story.

Every month, the Santa Monica police department focuses on specific behaviors that’s are primary causes of traffic collisions in the Westside’s city by the bay.

And this month, it’s our turn.

For the month of April, SaMo police will be focused on violations by scofflaw cyclists.

That doesn’t mean they’re going to be targeting cyclists. But it does mean that if they see you break the law, you’re more likely to get stopped — and possibly ticketed — than you might be when they’re more focused on other matters.

So take it as fair warning.

If you’re riding in Santa Monica, make a point of signaling, observing the right-of-way and stopping for stop signs for the next 29 days. And especially red lights — even on those T-intersections like the ones on Ocean Ave, where many riders seem to assume there’s no need to stop.

I’m sure the SMPD would be more than happy to explain otherwise.

And stay off the sidewalk.

It’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Santa Monica. Even if they don’t post it so riders from out of town might actually know what the local law is.

Which seems sort of like a town creating a speed trap by imposing a low speed limit, then never informing drivers that they need to slow down before writing tickets.

Meanwhile, the CHP is leading a statewide crackdown on distracted drivers this month.

Now if they could keep it up the other 11 months of the year, our streets might actually get a little safer.

……..

One other bit of interesting news in the email George Wolfberg forwarded to me.

In the first three months of this year, Santa Monica police have investigated 37 traffic collisions involving cyclists. And found that drivers have been responsible for the overwhelming majority of those collisions.

Shocking, I know.

Or at least it would be to a lot of bike hating drivers out there, who seem to blame scofflaw cyclists for every collision involving a bike.

In fact, through the first part of March, SaMo police found cyclists at fault in just 31% of the cases — a far cry from last year, when then Chief Jackman blamed riders for being at fault in over three-quarter of bike collisions.

Either we’re riding a lot better, or the SMPD has gotten a better understanding of bike law and how to investigate bike-involved collisions over the past year.

……..

Finally, proof that it’s not just average cyclists who have to worry about getting run down by cars.

Top American cyclist Levi Leipheimer was forced to withdraw from this week’s Tour of the Basque Country after he was hit from behind while training in Spain on Sunday.

Fortunately, he does not seem to be seriously injured.

Leipheimer reportedly didn’t see or hear the car coming before it hit him, describing the collision as “super scary” and saying he feels lucky to be alive. He’s returning to the U.S. today for further examination.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

For crying out loud, just stop at the damn stop sign already

If someone else has the right-of-way, just do what the damn sign says.

Enough already.

Over the weekend, I saw two cyclists run stop signs directly in front of oncoming traffic, forcing drivers to jam on their brakes in order to avoid hitting them.

And one of those drivers was me.

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s true, I stop for stop signs, whether I’m driving or riding my bike. I’ve made a point of doing it on my bike ever since I blew through a stop just as a young boy pointed at me and told his dad he wanted to be just like me. And I realized that I’d just taught a little kid to run stop signs.

It’s not like I’m a fanatic about it. I come to a near stop, without putting my foot down, then go as soon as I think it’s safe and I have the right-of-way.

Sort of like pretty much every driver in Los Angeles does, to a greater or lesser degree.

But what I never, ever do is go through any intersection when someone else has the right-of-way. Even if they wave me through themselves, I’m reluctant to take advantage of it if I think there’s any possible risk of a misunderstanding.

Frankly, my life is worth a hell of a lot more than any need to get through the intersection first. Let alone do it without stopping.

Let’s take the first case.

I don’t drive often anymore. In fact, I put less than 800 miles on my car last year. But I had an errand to run that just wasn’t practical to do on foot or two wheels.

So I found myself at a four way stop in Westwood, waiting for the cross traffic to go by. Just as I pulled out into the middle of the intersection, though, a cyclist snaked by the car waiting on the cross street and blew out in front me of without stopping — forcing me to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting him.

Not that he cared. Or even seemed to notice.

Then I watched it happen again with a different rider a few blocks later. Except this guy blew through a stop sign just as the car to his left was making a right turn — one the driver had actually signaled for, so unlike most L.A. drivers, there should have been no question of his intentions.

Fortunately, the driver saw the cyclist blowing by on his right, and made a panic stop just inches from the idiot on the bike.

And had he hit him, I would have been the first in line to testify on the driver’s behalf.

Why they did it, I have no idea. Maybe they were no different than the impatient drivers who aren’t willing to invest an extra two seconds to pass a bike safely — or in this case, stop long enough to protect their own lives. Or  maybe they just don’t think the law, or common sense, applies to them.

So let’s get everyone on the same page.

If you’re the only one at the intersection, I couldn’t care less if you run the stop sign. Seriously, be my guest. Worst that happens is you might be a bad role model. Or get a ticket if there’s a cop nearby.

If there are other people at the intersection, I don’t care if you come to a full stop as long as you observe the right-of-way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, pedestrian or another bike. It’s a simple rule — if they have the right-of-way, you don’t.

If you don’t understand what right-of-way is or who has it, it’s high time you learned. The rules are exactly the same for cyclists as they are for drivers.

And for anyone still unclear on the concept, pedestrians in the crosswalk always, always, always have the right-of-way. Capice?

So for crying out loud, stop already. At least long enough to let the other people and vehicles pass, then go when — and only when — it’s your turn.

There is absolutely nothing special about you or your bike that gives you the right to ignore traffic laws — especially not when it puts you or anyone else in jeopardy. Nothing.

If a cop sees you run a stop sign, you could — and probably should — get a ticket.

If you cause a collision by running a stop sign, you’re at fault. Period. Even if you weren’t directly involved. Which means that you could be held legally and financially responsible for any injuries or property damage resulting from a collision that you weren’t even in.

And if you get hit by a car after running a stop sign, you lose any liability protection you might otherwise enjoy — even if that wasn’t the primary cause of the collision. Which means that any medical care, lost wages or damage to your bike comes right out of your pocket.

Don’t like it? Tough shit.

The law doesn’t care why you blew the stop. Only that you did.

And you make it that much harder on those of us who do stop, because it only reinforces the attitude that none of us do. Which means that, fairly or not, cops and juries are likely to believe that any cyclist injured in a collision was most likely at fault — something I found out the hard way when I was hit while stopped at a stop sign.

The driver claimed I ran it and fell on my own while making a high speed turn. And the cop believed her, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Because, he said, “all you guys run stop signs.”

It’s also not just Los Angeles, or even California. Although it seems to be becoming more common here all the time.

Frankly, it’s just common sense. If someone else has the right-of-way, stop already.

Otherwise you may learn, like I did, that cars are bigger than we are. And they hurt.

And if you were one of the idiots morons jackasses jerks stop sign running riders I encountered over the weekend, we need to talk.

Seriously.

.………

Welcome Nathan Baird to the newly created position of LADOT Bike Program Coordinator. A new video looks at the LACBC’s City of Lights and the invisible cyclists. The Examined Spoke points out that Beverly Hills still has a bike registration law on the books, even if it’s not enforced anymore; then again, they also have a law on the books requiring cyclists to ride as close to the curb as possible, in violation of state law. The Kit Karzen Foundation kicks off their program to promote cycling for kids with ADHD with a celebration at Cynergy Cycles on Saturday. A lack of bikeways on the Gerald Desmond bridge could jeopardize Long Beach’s bike friendly image. The family of a cyclist allegedly killed in a drunken SF hit-and-run files suit. Santa Maria’s utilities director is injured in a collision with a semi-truck; notice how the story subtly places blame on the cyclist for colliding with the truck, even though the limited details suggest the truck pulled out in front of the oncoming bike.

A Yuma AZ cyclist wants to know why people there endanger every cyclist’s life by driving irresponsibly; a letter that could have been written by almost any cyclist anywhere. The best way to promote cycling could be to make it faster than driving. Despite claims to the contrary, New York cyclists get tickets after all. A new rear-view bike camera could record the last 10 seconds in the event of a collision. Virginia considers increasing the distance to pass bikes from 2 to 3 feet, and prohibit tailgating bikes. Sports Illustrated spells out the latest doping accusations against Lance Armstrong; is it just me, or is someone really out to get him?

British Big Brother host Davina McCall launches a new women-only charity ride. A rash of stolen manhole covers could lead to the death of cyclists in Oxfordshire. Aussie cyclist Amber Halliday is brought out of sedation after suffering “horrific” head injuries in a fall.

Finally, eight years in prison for a drunken ex-athlete who ran down a cyclist, then allegedly stepped on the victim’s face as he lay dying.

Hell does not have a hole deep enough.

Monday morning links — more bike complaints, Vuelta wraps and youth triumphs in the U.S.

There seems to have been a common theme to online bike stories over the weekend.

As in, some people just don’t seem to like us.

For instance, a Boston writer who took up biking again as an adult criticizes the behavior of his fellow cyclists; while he may have some legitimate complaints, these sound like the rants of a gutter bunny who hasn’t yet learned the rights of cyclists.  Another Massachusetts writer takes a far more objective look at maintaining the delicate balance on the roads.

Then there’s this hopefully there’s this attack from a Victoria BC columnist who blames cyclists for terrorizing all those law-abiding motorists in their Bentleys. Maybe if they stepped out of their multi-ton cars and spent a little time in a more vulnerable road state, they might understand who’s really being terrorized.

In recently bike friendly New York, complaints rise about the rapidly rising number of cyclists and seemingly inevitable conflicts with pedestrians that results. Meanwhile, the patron saint of New York cycling, NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, may be getting a little blowback from a new less than bike friendly boss.

Meanwhile, a Minnesota cyclist responds to bike-baiting columnists in the local paper, while Dave Moulton drives and rides to the letter of the law, Baltimore Spokes uncovers a 13-year old paper in which a psychology professor says road rage is a culturally acquired habit and Portland Tea Partiers complain about bike Nazis initiatives.

………

The final mountain stage of this year’s Vuelta features a climb steeper than the legendary Mont Ventoux, as hometown favorite Ezequiel Mosquera wins the stage while Vicenzo Nibali clinches the race. Tyler Farrar wins the final sprint, while Cavendish wins the points championship. Bicycling offers video highlights.

Here in the states, rising star Taylor Phinney edges Levi Leipheimer to win the U.S. time trial championship, while 21-year old Ben King wins the road title and announced he’s the newest member of Team RadioShack. Bicycling says youth was served in a Trek-Livestrong sweep.

And Floyd Landis finds himself banned from the upcoming World Championships, and doesn’t like it.

………

Bicycle Fixation offers a detailed guide to bike tires. Gary offers images from the Santa Monica Spoke’s Park(ing) Day site; LAist looks at sites in East Hollywood and Silver Lake. Kate Hudson, her celeb parents and musician boyfriend bike by the Santa Monica Pier. Long Beach’s cycling expats publish Panniers and Peanut Butter, an ebook on bike touring gear and tips with a great title. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood says people aren’t dying in distraction crashes, they’re being killed by distracted drivers. A Massachusetts cyclist takes construction blocking the bike lane in stride, saying sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. A look at the popular Minuteman Bikeway. Cycling missionaries and the bike of Mormon. The New York times looks at Critical Mass in Prague. A look at the world’s fastest human-powered bikes; I dare you to try one of this at your next crit. A Brit rider plans to attempt a world speed record on an all-wood bike. Sussez police receive over 20,000 complaints about anti-social drivers.

Finally, Zeke discovers the downside of a cycling tan, returning from the beach with a tricolor complexion. And his L.A.-based biking brother David points us to an attempt to build a bike powered washing machine; as the designated laundry specialist for my household, I think I’ll pass.

Redondo police threaten respectful crackdown on cyclists; Toronto bike-killer goes free

Not too long ago, a neighbor of mine came up to me with a question.

Every week, he said, on the same day each week, he’ll sit in heavy Sunset Blvd traffic waiting to make a left turn to drop his daughter off at school. And without fail, he’ll see a large group of cyclists riding east from the Palisades turn right at the same intersection — regardless of whether they have the right of way or the color of the traffic signal.

In fact, he’s had to jam on his brakes in the middle of his left as the leaders of the group blow through the light directly in front of him. Then he sometimes has to sit there through the light cycle, blocking the roadway until the riders clear the intersection.

Is that legal, he asked? Don’t cyclists have to obey the same laws as everyone else?

Uh, no. And yes.

I explained that there are reasons why riders in a peloton will keep going rather than stop, ranging from maintaining their momentum to the added safety of staying bunched together as they make their way through traffic.

But it’s not legal. And it’s hard to explain to angry drivers why they need to share the road when we don’t, at least not from their perspective.

I can offer every argument in my arsenal, from the fact that bikes pose a minute fraction of the risk that cars and other motor vehicles do, to statistics that show that the overwhelming majority of drivers don’t stop for stop signs, either. As well as the fact that most cyclists actually do stop for red lights, and that some cyclists think that going through a light is actually safer than waiting for it to change.

But the conversation usually ends up like this one did. “But I have to stop for red lights and observe the right of way. So why don’t they?”

Clearly, he’s not the only one who asks that question. And some of those end up calling the local police department to complain.

Which seems to be exactly what happened in Redondo Beach.

Jim Lyle recently forwarded me this very politely worded letter from the Redondo Beach Police Department Community Services Unit, which makes it very clear that they are prepared to crack down on cyclists if they think they have to.

Dear Cyclists,

The Redondo Beach Police Department would like to respectfully underline the message of obeying all of the rules pertaining to the California Vehicle Code while cycling through the city.  Increased disregard for stop signs by individual cyclists and by large groups or pelotons at several intersections has resulted in numerous calls to the Department for additional enforcement.  Please work with us in getting the word out to all bicyclists that their compliance will prevent a directed enforcement detail for bicycle violations in the City of Redondo Beach.

We wish you continued enjoyment toward a safe and healthy lifestyle.

Of course, we have every right to expect that they will enforce the rules equally against drivers and cyclists.

For some reason, though, few people seem to notice when drivers slow down without coming to a complete stop, while we seem to stand out if we don’t come to a full stop — even if we slow just as much.

So much for the argument that bikes are hard to see. And fair or not, we’re the ones that people complain about.

So be courteous. Play nice. And stop for red lights and stop signs.

Especially in Redondo Beach.

………

Charges have been dropped against Michael Bryant, the former Ontario Attorney General who killed a Toronto bike messenger in what appeared to be a deliberate attack last summer.

Despite video showing the victim, Darcy Allen Sheppard, clinging to Bryant’s car moments before his death, prosecutors blamed Sheppard for escalating the events, noting that he was legally intoxicated and had a history of violent confrontations with drivers.

Although how many people would keep their cool after being struck twice while waiting for a red light to change — the second time hard enough to throw him onto the hood of Bryant’s Saab — is subject to debate.

The whole event took less than 30 seconds.

Cycling advocates question whether it was really Sheppard’s temper or Bryant’s political connections that lead to the dismissal, though some say that Sheppard is the wrong kind of hero for cyclists, while others note that Bryant’s career is probably dead in the water now.

………

The fallout continues from the allegations leveled by admitted doper Floyd Landis, who loses support of his Murietta neighbors, while a bourbon maker demands an apology.

Federal official consider expanding their investigation into other areas — including the possibility of fraud charges — if it can be shown that money from Lance Armstrong’s former team sponsor US Postal Service was used to buy illegal substances. Meanwhile, Lance is running out of time to get in shape for this year’s Tour.

………

Glendale moves forward with a riverfront park, including a bike/pedestrian bridge connecting to Griffith Park. Evidently, you can’t just make a scraper bike; now there are official rules — and L.A. residents need not apply. A San Francisco judge will consider officially lifting that city’s misguided and unwanted injunction against bike infrastructure. Lose the support of cyclists, and Davis area candidates risk losing an election; that’s exactly where we need to get here in L.A. When leading a ride for beginning cyclists, always carry a 5/8” wrench just in case. A Dallas rider discovers a ‘70s era bike that apparently doesn’t exist, at least as far as Google knows. Also from Dallas, a blow-by-blow account of dodging Hummers and sorority girls on the city streets. Lack of a helmet cannot be used against a cyclist in Illinois courts. Safe cycling is courteous, but not always legal. A report from Holland MI says building more bike paths may mean more cyclists on the roads. How London can cut the rapidly rising rate of bike theft — note that a government program will pay commuters up to half the cost of a new bike. Britain’s Bristol City FC encourages fans to bike to their games; is anyone from the Dodgers or Lakers paying attention? A teenage girl is forced off the road by a speeding car and impaled on a barbed wire fence, as people passing by ignore her pleas for help. Paris plans to double its bike path network, while adding 1,000 bike parking spots. Toronto may be a boneyard of broken cyclists, but city officials don’t give them an inch.

Finally, a Canadian driving instructor offers advice on how cyclists and drivers can get along — and actually gets it right for a change.

A simple proposal to make next week’s LACBC bike count count more

It’s bike count season.

From Nashville to Portland, and various points over, under, around and through. And next week L.A. will have its first count, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Counting bike riders may not seem like a big deal, but it will provide a baseline number of how many people ride bikes in a normal week – when students are back in school and people are back at work, so it accurately reflects typical riding patterns.

Then next year, we can count again.

That will provide an idea if ridership is going up or down. Which could indicate what effect street conditions are having, whether infrastructure changes are needed and how local laws and policies should be adjusted. In other words, the documentation we need to make things better for cyclists around here.

Unfortunately, I won’t be one of the counters, though I do hope to be among the counted. And I will somehow resist the temptation to ride through the same intersections repeatedly in order to boost the count. After all, a high count might look good now, but it could hurt us down the road.

I do have a suggestion for the LACBC, though.

One of the most common complaints that drivers have about cyclists is that we all run red lights and stop signs.

It’s not true, of course. I stop. And I’m clearly not the only one, since I frequently find other riders waiting right there next to me.

A recent London study found the same thing. Despite similar complaints from UK drivers, researchers for the Road Network & Research Team found that the overwhelming majority of cyclists — 84% — observe stop lights.

Another recent study was cited by a New York organization that calls itself the Coalition Against Rogue Riding — notice the acronym, if you want a little perspective on their perspective.

Their goal is to reign in the “epidemic of scofflaw cycling” and “sense of anarchy” plaguing the city’s streets and sidewalks. Yet the study doesn’t exactly support that:

In May the results a rigorous study conducted in April by the departments of sociology and urban affairs of Hunter College was issued. “Biking Behavior in Midtown” observed 5,275 cyclists at 45 intersections between 14th St. and 59th Sts. and First and Tenth Aves. It was found that nearly 38 percent of observed cyclists did not stop at red lights. Nearly a third did not use a designated bike lane. More than 17 percent were either riding the wrong way, or at various times both with and against traffic.

Sound damning, doesn’t it?

But look at it from another perspective. Nearly 62% did stop for red lights. Over 2/3 used a designated bike lane — and considering the frequent problems riders cite with cars and trucks blocking the bike lanes, it’s amazing that so many were able to ride within the lines. And 83% of riders did ride the right way; impressive in a city with so many one-way streets.

Unfortunately, L.A. cyclists don’t have any similar figures to rebut biased arguments from anti-bike fanatics. But LACBC can do something about that.

Long term, we need to work with a local university to design an effective, in-depth study of riding patterns in the city. But in the meantime, they could easily incorporate a simple study of whether cyclists stop for traffic signals into next week’s bike count.

At any location with a traffic signal or stop sign, in addition to counting bikes, just count how many stop when they should.

All it takes is adding two simple columns to the form. Or pencil in a couple headers in the margin indicating “stopped” and “didn’t stop.” And for each rider you count, just mark down whether they did. Or didn’t.

It might not be a scientific survey. But like the bike count itself, it would be a starting point. And it would tell us that L.A. riders are safer than many people think, or that we have a lot of work to do.

Either way, we’d know more than we do now.

……….

Dr. Alex asks if you’ve considered the consequences before giving that bike thief a beat down. GT shares the story and photos of his recent Eastern Sierra Century. Mavic introduces new magnetic pedals, which may eliminate the need for cleats for some riders. Evidently, Sen. McCain hates transit, while Sen. Coburn merely hates bikes. Instead of getting hit by cars, bike couriers are getting hit by the internet. Illinois considers penalizing drivers who recklessly endanger the health and safety of vulnerable road users, like bicyclists. Bob Mionske questions Ottawa’s recent crackdown on cyclists in response to violent hit-and-run driver. Finally, the State Assembly honors my good friend at Altadenablog for his efforts during the recent fire; couldn’t be more deserved.

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