Tag Archive for scofflaw cyclists

Morning Links: TAP your way to Metro Bike, comparing bike & car violations, and the war on bikes goes on

One bit of news we neglected to mention yesterday.

On Sunday, LA Metro announced that in addition to recently reduced rates, you can now use your TAP card to rent a Metro Bike bikeshare bike.

However, you still need to enroll with Metro Bike using your credit or debit card, which poses a significant barrier for lower income people who may not have either one.

It’s not clear from the announcement if TAP cards can be used for one-time walkup rentals.

TAP card photo from Metro email

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Another good piece by Bike Snob’s Even Weiss, who says it’s time to stop comparing cycling and driving violations.

Then proceeds to do just that, to demonstrate that bicyclists and drivers both break the law, but not in equivalent ways.

And only one poses a significant risk to others.

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The war on cars is a myth, but the war on bikes goes on.

A British Columbia bicyclist captures a punishment pass on his bike cam, as a pickup driver tries to force him into the back of a parked car.

For a change, though, a cop saw the whole thing and immediately pulled the driver over.

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We mentioned this one last week, but it’s worth mentioning again.

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drivers tend to overestimate the safety technology in their cars.

Especially when it comes to automatically detecting and braking for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Maybe because virtually every other car ad on TV implies that newer cars can do exactly that. Even though current systems have trouble actually spotting either one.

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Local

Los Angeles is considering extending the bike lanes on Winnetka Ave to fill a one-mile gap connecting with the Orange Line, the LA River and Pierce College, after Ignacio Sanchez Navarro was killed in a hit-and-run as he rode his bike home from work last year. Naturally, local homeowners opposed the idea, with one even saying the bike lanes would lead to scooter riders on the sidewalk. Which is exactly where they are now, because of the lack of safe bike lanes. Thanks to Councilmember Bob Blumenfield for the proposal, which is how Vision Zero is supposed to work.

UCLA’s Daily Bruin explains the new law allowing e-scooter user without a helmet, and how they can help expand student mobility.

Streetsblog offers a look back at Sunday’s CicLAvia, while Curbed looks at the “whimsical” improvements on Western that made it more inviting to the walkers and riders passing by.

CiclaValley says it will be interesting to see how the attendees at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) convention perceive Los Angeles while they’re here. Maybe they can talk some sense into our recalcitrant city council. And give our presidential candidate mayor a good swift kick in the ambition while they’re at it.

 

State

San Francisco proves that a city can take a notoriously dangerous section of street, and turn it into a safe and comfortable place to ride a bike.

Curbed considers how to get around San Francisco without a car, calling it one of the best cities for bicycling.

 

National

A Denver scooter rider got slapped by an angry pedestrian for riding on the sidewalk, even though that’s where state law requires them to be. That’s just the opposite of California, where scooter users are required to ride in the streets — but banned from streets with speed limits over 35 mph, unless they have bike lanes.

Los Angeles wasn’t the only city celebrating a ciclovia this past weekend, as San Antonio TX drew an estimated 65,000 people to their open streets event.

Can’t see the traffic for the cars. Several older people in Massachusetts say that scofflaw bike riders are a bigger worry than drivers, even after an 80-year old man was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Hoping to inspire others through art and history, a Massachusetts artist paints a mural of a local bikemaker, decades after his factory was shuttered.

New York is improving safety for bicyclists by redesigning the city’s intersections, where 89% of bike collisions occur. Meanwhile, a New York councilwoman calls for maintaining bike lanes around construction zones. That would improve safety for LA bike riders, as well, who frequently find their commutes interrupted by roadside construction sites, or forced into unforgiving rush hour traffic.

The bus driver responsible for the second bikeshare death in the US faces just 30 days behind bars after being found guilty of a misdemeanor right-of-way violation for killing a man riding a New York Citi Bike; authorities had falsely blamed the victim for swerving into the bus at first. Correction: I originally wrote that this was the first bikeshare death in the US. It was actually the second, following the death of a woman using bikeshare in Chicago. Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for the heads-up.

After a Temple University student was nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding her bike, her brother invented a new kind of folding bike helmet that looks like a baseball cap “created by Space X engineers.” And raised over nine times his original $50,000 goal on a crowdfunding site.

DC’s mayor considers lowering the speed limit to 15 mph in parts of the city to improve safety, while raising fines for speeding.

A three-month temporary bike lane is already peeling off the street in New Orleans’ central business district, just weeks after it was applied.  Even with those problems, it’s an approach Los Angeles should try, instead of holding months of public meetings in front of angry NIMBYs trying to reach a virtually impossible consensus. Far better to share the stats, facts and reactions afterwards, than the fear and anger beforehand.

A Louisiana paper examines why it’s the second most dangerous state for people on bicycles, including one legislator who killed a bike safety bill because he didn’t want a kid to end up in jail for killing one of his bike riding constituents. There’s a good chance that some of his constituents might disagree, however.

 

International

Bike Radar suggests lazy ways to become a better cyclist. I can definitely get behind the recommendations to sleep more, drink a few beers and eat more cake.

Ottawa, Canada bicyclists are finding solidarity online after their bikes are stolen. The fear of having your bike stolen — let alone actually happening — is the best way to halt the growth of bicycling.

A Canadian bicyclist insists that his personal study shows half of all bike riders break the law, and he’s willing to wear a license plate so all those darn scofflaw riders can have their bikes taken away.

Writing for Forbes, Brit bike scribe and historian Carlton Reid insists ebikes aren’t cheating.

The BBC offers advice on what to do if you’re in a bike crash, ending with a suggestion to talk with a lawyer. The same advice applies on this side of the Atlantic; I can personally recommend the lawyers you’ll find on the right of this page, and you can find more on the Bike Lawyers page.

British bike riders start an online campaign to call attention to the problem of thieves stripping bike of their parts, or as they call it, half eaten bikes. Meanwhile, a London rider considers giving up bicycling after her bike was stripped for the third time.

Heartbreaking story, as an autistic boy in the UK suffered agonizing burns to his neck when bullies pelted him with “toxic slime” as he rode his bike to school.

Writing for Bike Biz, a woman questions whether the international Fancy Women Bike Ride, which got its start in Turkey, really aids the gender gap; some call it a “’patronizing and condescending’ ride ‘only reinforces stereotypes of how women should behave.’”

An experienced bike rider in Malta has given up bicycling because the roads — and the drivers on them — are becoming increasingly dangerous. And he’s got the video to prove it.

An editorial in an Indian newspaper argues that the country’s roads pose a huge risk to people’s lives, but traffic safety remains a low priorityMore proof that we face the same traffic problems everywhere.

Seriously? An Israeli paper asks how the government can tackle the rising dangers posed by ebikes — even though they’re limited to just 15 mph in the country, which is a fraction of the speed of many non-motorized riders. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls for regulating electric bikes after a 17-year old ebike rider was killed by a drunk driver. Although what kind of bike he was riding wouldn’t seem to have a damn thing to do with getting run over by a drunk.

A Melbourne, Australia traffic engineer argues for converting a protected bike lane into a regular painted lane, saying that downhill protected lanes connecting with a number of driveways actually increases the danger for bike riders.

Korea considers repealing an “ineffectual” new bill requiring bike riders to wear helmets, just days after it went into effect.

 

Competitive Cycling

A late-blooming Aussie cyclist has her sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite not riding a bike until she was 24.

A roadie magazine recaps Alejandro Valverde’s victory in Sunday’s world championships, while, a VeloNews roundtable examines how we should feel about Valverde’s win, given his status as a relic of the doping era.

The organizers of Iowa’s Jingle Cross cyclocross race cut ties with the race’s announcer, after a series of sexist remarks directed towards female cyclists over the three-day event. Seriously, referring to competitors as “the wives” and telling them to smile and look like they’re having fun shows a lack of respect that shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere, even in jest.

 

Finally…

That feeling when your newfound riding companion turns out to be an even bigger criminal than you. Why sit upright when you can pedal a recumbent bathtub (scroll down)?

And that feeling when Sir Paul McCartney just happens to crash your wedding photos.

Even if you don’t like the Beatles.

 

Morning Links: Sharing the road with flying cars, and maybe bike riders aren’t scofflaws after all

They drive among us.

Maybe you somehow managed to miss the multitude of new stories over the weekend about the allegedly stoned driver who managed to plant his car on the second floor of a dental shop in Santa Ana.

No, really.

According to reports, the driver, who hasn’t been publicly identified, hit a center median with enough force to launch his car into the air, across three lanes of traffic, and embed it into the wall of the shop while still gaining altitude.

The inevitable question of how fast he had to be traveling to launch his car with such force is only partially answered by security camera footage.

As well as the view from an oncoming bus that was nearly taken out by the airborne ballistic automobile.

Lets hope he loses his license.

Permanently.

And it’s not just LA.

A Denver motorist literally drove into a Catholic church, finally stopping inside the vestibule with shards of stained glass scattered around.

But at least that one seems to have stuck to the ground.

Top photo from Orange County Fire Authority. Thanks to Erik Griswold and Wes Salmon for the heads-up.

………

Pot, meet kettle.

It’s long been common knowledge, among drivers at least, that people who ride bicycles are a bunch of reckless scofflaws who pay no attention to the law.

And anyone who has argued to the contrary, by pointing to studies showing most bike riders actually do stop for red lights and stop signs, or that countless drivers treat speed limits and stop signs as mere suggestions, is usually shouted down.

Often by people on both sides.

Never mind that even the most reckless bike rider is primarily a danger to him or herself, while a reckless driver is a danger to everyone around them.

That should have changed a few years ago, when a study from the University of Colorado showed that drivers and bike riders broke the law at nearly the same rate — 8% to 9% for drivers, and 7% to 8% for bicyclists.

As well as a follow-up study that showed when drivers broke the law, they did it for convenience, while people on bikes did it out of concern for their own safety.

Except that the both studies were greeted with crickets by the mainstream media.

Let alone the motoring public.

Now another study has shown virtually the same thing.

Writing for Outside, Peter Flax has taken a look at the recent Florida study that showed drivers broke the law at a slightly higher rate than the bike riders participating in the study.

In the end, the results indicated that cyclists were compliant with the law 88 percent of the time during the day and 87 percent of the time after dark. The same study determined that drivers who interacted with the study subjects complied with the law 85 percent of the time. In other words, drivers were slightly naughtier than the cyclists—even without measuring speeding or distracted driving.

In a conversation with three of the researchers who conducted the study, I asked if they had any insight into why the findings vary so significantly from public perceptions about scofflaw cyclist behavior. “Many drivers simply don’t know the rules that concern people on bikes,” says Cong Chen. “About how much space to give cyclists, for instance, or when riders should get the right of way.”

The study also offers suggestions on how to improve safety.

In any case, based on the study findings, the researchers offered a number of recommendations to help mitigate the frighteningly high rate of close calls. For infrastructure improvements, they suggested wider and protected bike lanes; reflective green markings on bike lanes; improved lighting on roadways that see significant bicycle traffic; and so-called “through lanes,” which reduce conflicts between bicyclists and turning vehicles at intersections by letting riders be safely positioned before cars turn. “Based on what we saw and measured, we recommend measures that promote separating more than sharing,” says Kourtellis. “We think creating buffers between cars and bikes is smart.”

But once again, don’t bother trying to find any mention of the study in the mainstream media.

Evidently, dispelling a widely held misperception too often used to demonize people on bicycles just isn’t news.

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Speaking of demonizing bicyclists, one Aussie rider caught skitching — holding onto a moving vehicle to hitch a ride — is used to attack everyone who rides a bike for wanting “extra rights” on the road.

Never mind that most bicyclists haven’t done that, and never will.

And the only extra right we want is the right to ride a bike, and get home in one piece.

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Local

LADOT laid down the new Hollywood-approved green paint on the protected bike lanes on Venice Blvd in Mar Vista over the weekend.

Speaking of Mar Vista, Bikerowave is hosting a bike swap on Sunday the 28th; coffee and donuts will be available if you get there early enough.

Los Angeles County’s outgoing Health Services director says he didn’t expect to fall in love with LA after moving here from San Francisco, but riding his bike to work from Hancock Park to DTLA certainly didn’t hurt. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

Repaving started this past weekend on 6th Street between La Brea and Fairfax to prepare it for the half-measure safety improvements pushed through by Councilmember David Ryu, against the wishes of local residents who were fighting for a road diet. Any hope that the road diet might go through died following the fiasco in Playa del Rey, where recently installed road diets were yanked out after an outcry from motorists.

The latest Bike Talk podcast features John Russo and Karla Mendelson of Keep LA Moving, who successfully fought to have the Playa del Rey road diets removed, and want to halt any future lane reductions in the city.

Walk Eagle Rock shows that it’s possible to do more with less space on narrow streets.

The long discussed new section of the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail through South Pasadena is scheduled to open late next month.

The LA Times examines Chinese counterfeiting of small San Marino bikewear maker Team Dream.

Claremont is moving closer to a $16 million makeover of Foothill Blvd, including median divided bike lanes.

Long Beach surpasses its mobility goals for last year, with over 1.1 million bike riders and pedestrians passing a counter near the pier.

 

State

The co-founder of PayPal is one of us.

A Santa Ana cyclist was injured in an apparent gang shooting.

Tehachapi opens a new class 1 bike path along Tehachapi Blvd.

You never know what you might find while riding your bike. Like a boa constrictor with a broken jaw on the side of a Bay Area highway. The good news is, the snake has fully recovered.

The bike-friendly new Oakland bridge will be at least two years late and $6 million over budget.

Sad news from Paradise, where a bike rider was killed when she was rear-ended by one driver, then knocked into the path of another.

 

National

An ebike pioneer argues that an ebike charged using fossil fuels is actually greener than a regular bicycle when you consider the extra food needed to fuel the rider. Because everyone loads up on food before they ride to the corner market, right?

Meanwhile, TreeHugger says there’s an ebike revolution coming, and bikes and ebikes will eat cars.

An Oregon town posts a sign telling drivers not to text and drive, in honor of a 16-year old boy who was killed by a texting driver while riding his bike. Which will undoubtedly cause every driver to put down their phones. If they even bother to read it.

A Montana newspaper looks at the benefit bike tourism can have on small towns.

An Austin TX paper asks if an ordinary guy can ride 10,000 miles in two years. Considering that’s less than 100 miles a week, sure.

Kay Perry may be one of us, but she still takes Dallas to task over abandoned dockless bikeshare bikes.

The Chicago Tribune supports bringing bikeshare to the city’s transit deserts.

Bike registration rears its ugly head in Vermont, where a new bill would impose a $28 annual fee to ride a bicycle on public streets. Which is fine if your goal is to discourage bicycling, and keep people from taking ever down those unused bikes hanging in the garage.

An Op-Ed in the Philadelphia Enquirer considers how to make the city a safer place to ride a bike.

 

International

If you can’t ride your bike on a Manitoba highway because of the ice, get out your hockey skates. Thanks to Norm Bradwell for the link.

A Toronto Op-Ed says lowering speed limits throughout the city would save lives.

The Guardian offers a photo essay of a custom framebuilder in the UK.

Just a year after finishing a seven year, 43,000 mile around-the-world bike tour, an English man is planning to set a new record by riding across Europe in less than 20 days.

A Scottish woman is looking for homes for two stray dogs she rescued in Brazil while riding around the world.

A British father shares gruesome photos of his son after the boy crashed face-first into a brick wall, saying it’s a reminder to always wear a helmet. Which might have actually helped, but only if he’d worn it over his face.

An Aussie woman says she deserves a reduced sentence because the bike rider she left bleeding on the side of the road while driving high on ice didn’t die, but merely suffered permanent, life changing injuries.

You’ve got to be kidding. An Australian driver was fined for throwing a cup filled with ice that hit a bicyclist in the head. By the EPA. For littering.

An Aussie cyclist walks with probation for bike rage tirade against a distracted driver who cut him off in traffic, after arguing that “fuck” is not obscene.

Seriously, don’t be this guy. A bicyclist in Australia cuts directly in front of a driver, then flips the motorist off for good measure.

After an Australian man loses his driver’s license for six months, he discovers he feels better, weighs less and actually likes riding a bike. Even if he doesn’t take responsibility for those speeding tickets.

A New Zealand bicyclist is shocked to discover an 18-inch wide bike lane that’s narrower than her handlebars.

A bike shop in Yangon, Myanmar leads a weekly nighttime bike ride in the city, where bicycles are banned by tradition, if not law.

A distracted ebike rider in Singapore got a $2,000 fine for colliding with a bicyclist when his mobile phone rang.

A Chinese man rode nearly 10,000 miles from Benin back to his hometown to raise funds to help install solar power stations and water wells in the African country.

 

Competitive Cycling

The legendary Katie Compton won her 14th consecutive national cyclocross championship, while the recently unretired Meredith Miller took the singlespeed title.

Tragic news from the Netherlands, where BMX star Jelle Van Gorkom is in a coma after a training accident, with no word on when he might awaken.

The Guardian looks at the tenuous finances of lower tier pro cycling teams.

Cycling Weekly talks with recently retired British track cyclist Becky James about the importance of finding a balance between work, training and family life.

South African cyclist Louis Meintjes learned the hard way to put on sunscreen under his mesh jersey. I once ended up with the Canari logo tanned onto my back after wearing my favorite jersey a little too often.

A self-trained Kenyan cyclist will compete in the grueling Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme race, despite having a bullet lodged in his stomach from a shooting that killed his father when he was 15.

A Kiwi cyclist wins New Zealand’s U-23 cycling championship just one year after taking up the sport.

 

Finally…

Nothing like using a fat bike to make a really fat snow bike. Apparently, bottling a bicyclist is a thing.

And if you’re going to ride stoned, leave the illegal prescription meds, butterfly knife and counterfeit bills at home.

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Thanks to John H for his generous donation to help support this site.

Morning Links: Bonin recall effort suspended, and a Florida study shows bike riders aren’t scofflaws after all

Maybe there aren’t so many angry voters after all.

The effort to recall CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin over last year’s Playa del Rey road diet fiasco has hit a snag, as organizers say they need another $300,000 because they can’t afford to hire enough minimum wage signature gatherers to circulate the necessary petitions.

As a result, the recall effort has been put on hold until at least November.

If it happens at all.

Organizers claim to have raised nearly $100,000 for the recall effort, but somehow spent all but $20,000 — including a $6,000 consulting fee to co-chair Alexis Edelstein.

This comes after a bungled press event in which organizers attempted to file the necessary forms to begin the recall process, but left out a required signed affidavit. Then somehow never managed to make it back with the right forms.

But what it really boils down to is a lack of support to recall the popular councilmember, who won re-election just last year with 71% of the vote.

Not to mention a distrust of the people behind the campaign, including Edelstein himself.

Something tells me Bonin will sleep easy tonight.

But the fight will go on. Because the real reason behind the failed recall effort, aside from furthering Edelstein’s political career, was to intimidate city officials into halting any more road diets in the city.

And as CD4 Councilmember David Ryu’s recent rejection of the planned 6th Street road diet shows — one that local resident had fought for — in that, they’ve been very successful.

Above, a typical complaint about the since-removed road diet on Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey.

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If you read the comments to virtually any news story about bicycles — which I wouldn’t recommend — you’ll quickly find most accuse bike riders of being lawbreaking scofflaws who flaunt traffic regulations every chance we get.

Evidently, they’re wrong.

According to a new Florida study, bicyclists rode in compliance with traffic laws 88% of the time during daylight hours, and 87% after dark.

Meanwhile, drivers obeyed the law just 85% of the time.

And of the three near collisions and one actual collision involving bicyclists during the study, drivers were blamed in three of the incidents, along with a lack of infrastructure.

Show that to the next person who says we all break the law.

And tell ‘em to shove it.

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Let’s call it a tie for today’s best bike news.

Costa Mesa police and The Cyclist bike shop teamed up to give a new adult tricycle to a man who’s suffering from stage four cancer, after his $400 trike was stolen just before Christmas.

And a nice follow-up story from New Zealand, where a couple is still riding together after 44 years of marriage even though she has Parkinson’s; her husband modified a three-wheeled e-cargo bike to hold her wheel chair in front of the handlebars.

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Local

The LA Times says keep mountain bikes out of federal wilderness areas, despite a bill that would legalize their use.

If you can find one of the Ofo dockless bikeshare bikes around Griffith Park, they should be free to use for the remainder of this month, if a North Carolina story is correct.

Walk Bike Long Beach released a report on their efforts to make the city a better place to do both.

 

State

San Francisco’s Patrick Traughber is tracking all bicycling fatalities in the city, as well as calculating how many years of life was lost with each crash.

A San Francisco electric scooter-sharing company will be adding ebikes to their dockless rental fleet.

Officials are letting a curb-protected San Francisco bike lane fall into disrepair, despite repaving the traffic lanes next to it.

It’s bad enough that a firebug may be setting fires across Berkeley, but setting a bike on fire crosses the line.

 

National

Bike Snob says maybe you only need one bike after all.

Advice for aging Baby Boomers: Forget the car and get on a bike.

Women’s Health offers tips to get more out of your bicycling work out. Or you could just enjoy riding your bike, and let the workout take care of itself.

Oregon drivers face the horror of having to pump their own gas. This time, read the comments.

Nevada follows a pattern seen around the US, as traffic deaths decline for people in motor vehicles, but increase for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The war on bikes goes on. An Arizona cyclist is recovering after he was shot with a pellet gun from a passing car.

New York finally bans cars from Prospect Park after 50 years of trying. Maybe LA could take a page from their book, and at least start reducing motor vehicle access to Griffith Park.

A DC website offers advice on how to bike safely and comfortably in terrible weather. Which comes just in time for Angeleno bike riders, who actually saw clouds yesterday.

 

International

A Niagara Falls man was busted for trying to sell a $10,000 BMC bike that was stolen from a tourist’s car six months ago. Of course, that’s Canadian dollars; it was just an $8,000 bike in US dollars.

The Guardian’s Peter Walker offers advice for new bike commuters, including that the occasional soaking rain or buffeting wind is part of the joy of riding to work. Meanwhile, Cyclist magazine offers tips on how to become a better bicyclist this year.

After a British boy’s bike was stolen, he responded by organizing a bike safety and awareness workshop to keep others from suffering the same fate.

The real news isn’t that a UK paperboy’s bike was stolen, but that they still have paperboys in the UK.

Caught on video: An Irish food delivery cyclist plows through flood waters from a massive storm to get a meal to its destination.

Five must-sees on your next bike tour of France.

An Aussie rapper is under arrest after leading police on a car chase, nearly crashing into a bike rider in the process.

Life is cheap in Singapore, where a delivery driver was sentenced to 15 months for killing a bike rider after taking medications to induce sleep and driving anyway; he was so out of it he didn’t even know he hit anyone.

 

Competitive Cycling

Pro cycling is putting the disc brakes on.

No irony here. Lance will host a reception for the Netflix doping documentary Icarus that was partly inspired by his own fall from grace, calling it “incredible work.”

 

Finally…

Don’t fake a mountain bike crash just to steal someone’s backpack. Maybe taking on a downhill mountain bike course on a Walmart bike isn’t the best idea.

And cars are attracted to bikes like tornados are to mobile homes.

Whether or not we’re on them at the time.

 

Morning Links: No Carmageddon on Venice Blvd, auto-centric capitalism, and four-wheeled scofflaw cyclists

Yesterday, I wasted far too much of my life.

Hours, in fact, that I will undoubtedly regret on my dying day, trying in vain to defend the Mar Vista and Playa del Rey lane reductions, both here and on Twitter.

And yes, I should know better.

But I’m a firm believer in engaging with people of all viewpoints, in hopes that I can correct inaccurate beliefs, and that I might learn something from them. And maybe, just maybe, we could come to some kind of a consensus.

Hopes that were quickly dashed on the rubble heaps of online discourse.

The best one, by far, was a comment from someone complaining that traffic backups caused by the Venice Blvd Great Streets project had pushed cut-through drivers onto the surrounding side streets. So he insisted that since the project included bike lanes, bike riders should be licensed and taxed to mitigate the problems caused by… drivers.

Uh, sure.

However, the primary argument cited by virtually everyone opposed to the projects was the accusation of soul crushing traffic congestion causing total gridlock and destroying the vehicular lifeblood of the communities.

But as the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

Yesterday, we included a bike cam video made by Jon Phillips as he rode on Culver Blvd through Play del Rey, showing almost no congestion during the evening rush hour. Though as we noted, that was just one trip, and another journey at another time might have shown something different.

John Montgomery thought of that.

The author of the excellent Digital Slurry website, he set out to explore traffic on Venice Blvd following the lane reductions, and made a point of riding at different times of day, and on multiple days, to get a feeling of what traffic is really like on the street.

What he found was similar to what Phillips found on Culver. Traffic did back up at times, but it started flowing again once the light changed. And at least part of the problem appeared to stem from poor synchronization of traffic lights.

But don’t take his word for it. Or mine.

Read his report and watch the videos, whether the full 14 minute version, or the three minute highlight reel.

And decide for yourself is this is really the return of Carmageddon.

Which turned out to be no big deal, either.

………

Montgomery also forwarded this screen shot from the North Venice Beach Nextdoor, giving what may be the single most bizarrely auto-centric and capitalistic perspective ever on using a bicycle for transportation.

Meanwhile, the other argument used anytime the subject of bicycling comes up is the accusation that bike riders don’t deserve equal treatment on the streets because we all break the law anyway.

So he set out to record those scofflaw cyclists in action.

And this is what he found.

………

Sad news from Iran, where a 19-year old member of the national women’s cycling team was killed in a car crash.

Next month’s Colorado Classic four-stage race is attempting to reinvent pro cycling by charging a fee to participate in a music festival and view the final two stages.

Cyclists participating in Sunday’s Manhattan Beach Grand Prix will race backwards in pursuit of a total $21,500 purse.

……….

Local

LADOT has selected a new polymer color treatment for green bike lanes that was developed in conjunction with the film industry. Because Hollywood should always have the last word when it comes to traffic safety.

REI will open their first flagship store in LA County next month, taking over an old Sports Authority location in Burbank.

A Pasadena bike rider stole a 64-year old man’s backpack, then discarded it after rifling through it and stealing two beers. Let’s at least hope they were crappy beers.

West Covina is hosting a community open house – workshop tonight to discuss the city’s proposed Active Transportation Master Plan.

The Santa Monica Lookout talks with the rest of the SaMo city council about how they go carfree at least part of the time; the first part of the story appeared on Monday.

The rich get richer. Construction will begin on Monday on another east-west bike boulevard in bike friendly Long Beach.

 

State

Pink’s seven-month old son is one of us, too.

A Simi Valley bike tour operator could be out of business after thieves stole over $25,000 worth of high-end mountain bikes out of his garage.

San Diego is looking for people to adopt one of the city’s 54 largely abandoned bike and pedestrian counters.

Lompoc is experimenting with closing streets to cars for a weekly Friday evening market, while the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition gave dozens of kids refurbished bicycles to take advantage of it.

A DUI hit-and-run driver faces up to ten years in prison after pleading guilty in the death a Watsonville cyclist last year; she was also texting at the time of the crash, as well as driving with a suspended license.

San Francisco’s Public Works Department will enforce a proposed ban on bike chop shops, rather than the police. Because why would you want to arrest anyone for trafficking in stolen bikes and parts?

Dockless bikeshare is getting closer to LA, as Spin is moving into South San Francisco after colonizing Seattle.

No justice for the Sacramento running legend who was hit by a bicyclist on a river pathway, because prosecutors aren’t sure if California’s hit-and-run statutes apply to bikes ridden on trails instead of streets. Here’s a crazy idea: File charges and let a judge decide if the law applies. Because that’s what they do.

 

National

Most US students can legally drive a car before they’re old enough to legally ride a bikeshare bike, even though a bikeshare membership can be provided for a fraction of the cost of busing them to school. We should be encouraging students to ride any kind of bicycle rather than clogging the roads with more buses and cars. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson and David Drexler for the heads-up.

Streetsblog says autonomous cars should have to rely on their own sensors, rather than forcing bicyclists and pedestrians to wear sensors to avoid getting run over.

If you ride offroad, book your trip to Oregon now, where they’ve just opened a 668-mile singletrack course that covers the entire state.

A Colorado Republican legislator is shocked that anyone was shocked that he proposed taxing bicycles.

A generous Milwaukee man bought a stolen bike for $20 to return it to its owner after she posted the theft on Facebook.

A university website profiles MIT emeritus professor David Gordon Wilson, author of Bicycle Science, which they call the industry bible for bike design.

Talk about getting Vision Zero wrong. After a New York cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run, the NYPD responds by cracking down on bike riders, rather than the people in the big dangerous machines. Thanks again to Mike Wilkinson.

A proposed New York state law would require all bicyclists in New York City to wear bike helmets, including users of the Citi Bike bikeshare — even though there’s only been one fatality, and just 50 injuries requiring medical attention, in over 43 million Citi Bike rides. The real question is why the law would only apply to NYC; evidently, no one else in the state has heads worth protecting.

After a kindhearted South Carolina cop fails to recover a boy’s stolen bicycle, he buys him a new one.

A group of three boys and two girls in their early teens have been arrested for beating and stomping a 19-year old Orlando man, stealing his bike and sandals, and throwing away his groceries.

 

International

Bike Radar offers advice for how to manage riding during your period. Assuming you have one, of course.

The war on bikes continues, as a Canadian jogger stepped on a nail-filled board concealed on a bike trail.

The Guardian’s Peter Walker says that no matter what the safety issue, bike-hating commenters always shift the blame to cyclists. Which is exactly what’s happening in Mar Vista and Play del Rey, and pretty much everywhere else in Southern California; more proof that cyclists face the same issues virtually everywhere.

Caught on video: A British bike rider is shown riding through a red light as cars turn into his lane. No, seriously. Don’t do that.

After a 91-year old English man was killed in a collision while participating in a time trial, the proposed solution is banning bikes from divided highways, rather than expecting people to actually pay attention when they drive.

A 15-year old Irish boy received a twelve-month sentence for bashing another boy over the head with a board to steal his bicycle, on top of the eight-month sentence he’s currently serving for threatening to kill someone else. Along with his previous 24 convictions. Did I mention he’s only 15?

Caught on video too: An Irish cyclist gets doored; notice the driver not rushing to his aid.

World Bicycle Relief has distributed 78,000 bicycles in Zimbabwe after a 2010 New York Times story about a then 17-year old man who longed for a bike instead of walking nine miles to school.

The Guardian says cycling campaigns focusing on women and girls are changing the dynamics on African roads.

More Malaysian office workers are choosing to bike to work.

An Aussie writer says drivers in Western Australian can’t handle the concept of an Idaho Stop Law.

 

Finally…

No, Graeme Obree is not a fictional character. Now you, too can ride a modern take on a commie bike.

And now you won’t have to choose between a Bianchi and a Ferrari.

 

Morning Links: Scofflaw drivers and bike riders break laws at the same rate; too much news from Tour de France

The next time someone complains about law-breaking cyclists, show them this.

Because a new study from the University of Colorado says bike riders and motor vehicle operators admit to breaking the law at similar rates — eight to nine percent for drivers, and seven to eight percent for bicyclists. And usually for the same reasons.

But there’s one big difference.

Drivers — and pedestrians — will go through a red light to save time, while cyclists do it for perceived safety. By going through the light, bike riders say they can get a head start on traffic while feeling like they’re more visible to others on the road.

Which is definitely true, since every driver seems to see the riders who go through lights and stop signs, while those who stop seem to be invisible.

………

Way too much news from the Tour de France today.

MTN-Qhubeka’s Steve Cummings takes stage 14 of the Tour de France, the first TdF win by an African-based team. And they do it on Mandela Day, no less.

Andre Greipel outsprinted the pack to win Sunday’s stage 15 of the Tour de France; Mark Cavendish claimed stomach problems after getting dropped.

Once again, Chris Froome is on the defensive against unproven accusations of cheating, although he insists cycling is past its Wild West doping era.

Not everyone seems to buy that, though, as Froome’s yellow jersey got a little yellower when an angry “fan” threw urine in his face, while teammate Richie Porte got a punch in the ribs. Meanwhile Cycling Weekly asks if the French really hate Froome. Although I’d say a splash of piss in the face would seem to be a pretty good indication.

Then again, nothing has really changed, has it?

Not all the unruly behavior comes from the fans, as Tinkoff-Saxo sport director Sean Yates got grounded after a team mechanic heaved a water bottle at a TV cameraman who allegedly interfered with Peter Sagan’s bike change. Although it doesn’t really look like interference from this angle.

French rider Jean-Christophe Péraud won the respect of the peloton by not just finishing Friday’s stage with horrific road rash after crashing hard, but making the start line the next day, as well.

And Bicycling explains the tactics of a mass sprint to the finish.

………

Local

Local officials join with congressional leaders in Santa Monica to call for more transportation spending.

Hermosa Beach hopes bikeways can help it go carbon neutral.

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio takes her kids out for a training wheel-assisted bike ride in Brentwood. No idea what it says about me that I didn’t have a clue who she is.

 

State

An Orange County mountain biker was airlifted to the hospital after being found semi-conscious next to a steep trail at the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

Runners aren’t safe in bike lanes either; two joggers running in a Poway bike lane suffered serious head injuries when a driver fell asleep behind the wheel.

Friends and family remember BMX legend Scot Breithaupt.

A 54-year old Oxnard bike rider was critically injured when he was hit by a car early Sunday morning; he was reportedly riding without lights and drifted into the right lane, where his was rear-ended by a car. Both stories note he was not wearing a helmet, but no word on whether one could have actually made a difference. Thanks to Anthony Navarro for the heads-up.

A San Jose writer declares a road diet a failure after just three months. By that standard, Walt Disney, the Eiffel Tower and the US space program were failures, too.

Generous Sunnyvale residents have raised over $8,000 to pay the funeral expenses of a 12-year old boy killed while riding his bike on Monday.

 

National

Mohammad Ali famously began boxing after his bike was stolen; evidently, that works to motivate mixed martial arts fighters, too.

A group of Muslim women from various Middle Eastern countries are riding in Iowa’s RAGBRAI to promote equality.

A Niagara bike company specializes in crafting hollow-framed wood bikes weighing less than seven pounds.

A New York rider is in stable condition following a truly bizarre and grisly accident; he struck his head after hitting a pothole, then stumbled and fell onto a fence, impaling himself through the neck.

Police get a lot of bad press these days, but Newark officers are just the latest to pitch in to replace a victim’s stolen bike.

 

International

It seems as though everyone could see a UK cyclist except for the bus driver who killed him. If the driver is shattered, imagine how the victim’s family feels.

Welsh cycling casualties were up 38% in just the last year, possibly due in part to an increase in ridership.

German bike maker Canyon is changing the bike business paradigm by selling its bicycles only on the Internet, for around 600 euros apiece — the equivalent of just $650.

An 83-year old Aussie driver failed two driving tests before his license was finally reinstated; he killed a cyclist just five months later.

A Singapore bike coach says focus on quality components instead of a high-end frame when buying a bike. I’ve always believed just the opposite — buy the best frame you can afford, since you can always upgrade the components.

A Singapore letter writer calls for more consistency in designing bike and pedestrian paths.

 

Finally…

New headlights from Ford could light you up based on your body heat instead of hi-viz. Those high-end racing wheels could be counterfeit.

And national hospitals are overflowing with the victims of bicycling near-misses.

Yes, that last one is hugely tongue-in-cheek.

 

Morning Links: DUI driver in Palos Verdes rampage gets three years; scofflaw cyclists no worse than drivers

The Torrance man who went on a drunken rampage through the Palos Verdes Peninsula won’t be driving anywhere anytime soon.

William Thomas Kelly was sentenced to three years in jail Monday after pleading no contest to felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence causing injury.

Kelly had a BAC of .11 when he crashed into numerous cars, moving and otherwise, in September of 2013. Not to mention nearly hitting a pedestrian, and intentionally forcing a bicyclist off the road and into some bushes before repeatedly running over his bike.

According to the Daily Breeze, the rider, Doug Castile, was in the courtroom for the sentencing, hoping to see some sign of remorse from the man who tried to run him down. But didn’t get a single hit of it.

Maybe Kelly will finally show a little when he gets out in a few years

And hopefully, he’ll have to walk or bike anywhere he goes for the rest of his life.

……..

Interesting interview from Science Friday, as a professor from the University of Colorado Denver says despite perceptions, bike riders break the law at about the same rate as drivers do. But we do it for perceived safety reasons, rather than convenience or time savings, like drivers do.

As if to emphasize the point, a Napa resident complains about those darn scofflaw, semi-suicidal cyclists ruining her drive. And a New York editorial says cyclists have to get on board with the city’s safety plans.

Funny how motorists can see bike riders breaking the law, but never seem to notice the far more dangerous law-breaking drivers they share the road with.

……..

Fabian Cancellara crashed out of the Tour de France with two fractured vertebrae in his first day in the yellow jersey as part of Monday’s massive multi-rider pile-up. Remarkably, he managed to finish the stage, in what must have been incredible pain, before abandoning the race.

The Sacramento Bee offers a timeline of Monday’s third stage.

After being embarrassed when several riders went through a railroad crossing barricade in this year’s Paris-Roubaix race, French authorities have ordered the military to guard crossings during the tour to prevent bike racing rascals from trying it again.

You can support the first African team in the Tour de France by donating a bike for an African child as part of their #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. And yes, they do.

Meanwhile, mountain bikers were busy as well, as two Americans saw the podium in a World Cup race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

……..

Local

There’s no excuse for not learning how to ride a bike safely this summer, as Metro and the LACBC sponsor bike safety classes throughout LA County, including Long Beach and the San Gabriel Valley.

LADOT opens a new bike corral complete with repair stand outside Peddler’s Creamery near Fifth and Main in DTLA.

Bicycling looks at long-time bike advocate — and Calbike board VP — Charlie Gandy and his famed three-hour tour of Long Beach bike infrastructure.

 

State

KPCC looks at the state’s proposed hit-and-run alert legislation, which would notify the public to be on the lookout following particularly egregious hit-and-runs.

San Diego invests $74 million in fixing 300 miles of bad roads, which is especially good news for those on two wheels. Let’s hope they put in safe bike lanes while they’re at it.

A planned bike freeway promises to change the way Fresno residents live.

A Eureka cyclist crosses the 100,000 mile mark in his 40-year riding career. That’s a mark I left behind a long time ago.

 

National

A history professor from my hometown makes a full recovery from the gran mal seizure that caused her to crash during a bike race, suffering a concussion and fracturing her spine in five places; the benign golf ball-sized tumor that caused her seizure was successfully removed, as well.

Big hearted donors raise $5,000 for travel and funeral expenses for a Ukrainian woman killed while riding her bike home from work in Iowa.

Houston regulations will now require narrower traffic lanes, as well as taking all users into account, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

It takes a major schmuck to steal a custom-made bike from a Wisconsin girl with spinal bifida — let alone just before her 12th birthday.

A Minneapolis cyclist offers a harrowing first-hand account of what it’s like to see her best friend left lying in the street by a hit-and-run driver.

Beverly Hills is holding their annual bicycling classic crit. No, not the bike-unfriendly one on LA’s Westside. The one in Chicago.

Speaking of Chicago, they plan to turn a large patch of industrial wasteland into a world class 278-acre bike park.

A Cincinnati man is riding 2,000 miles to Yellowstone to remember his late wife who struggled with depression, while raising funds for mood disorder research.

A Michigan study shows apartments rent for 28% more in walkable areas, while home prices are 58% higher than non-walkable areas. Seems to hold true for bikeable areas, too.

A Connecticut driver is arrested on drug and DUI charges after nearly hitting a bicyclist; he admitted drinking four or five beers, and was found with three controlled substances prescribed to someone else, vodka, Bud Light and a straw that had been used to snort a prescription drug. And was then released on a whopping $100 bail.

 

International

A texting British driver gets 21 months for killing a hi-viz-wearing cyclist; he was busy flirting with a woman he met online instead of watching the road. Other drivers clearly saw the victim, but evidently, that would have required looking up from his phone.

A Brit woman is justifiably outraged that the drunk driver who killed her bike-riding husband while traveling at twice the speed limit will only serve six months behind bars.

As biking continues to grow in popularity, the UK government and local councils are urged to make riding safer; 55% of people surveyed said bicycling should be a higher government priority.

The Irish Independent says walking and biking aren’t just part of a green, hippy, sandal-wearing lifestyle.

Cape Town, South Africa’s new green bike lanes are declared a failure since motorists can’t resist parking in them.

An Aussie website looks at the bike tools every cyclist should own. Although most bike riders can get away with just a fraction of those, and a good mechanic.

 

Finally…

Don’t be too impressed with your bike riding skills; turns out even a Raccoon can do it. GoPro unveils a new lighter, more aero cam, as long as you’re willing to fork out nearly $400 bucks.

And what do you tip your waiter when he returns your stolen bike along with your latte?

 

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.

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