Tag Archive for share the road

A new video — and change of heart — from the formerly bike-hating former reserve Santa Paula police officer

Now she gets it.

Maybe you remember a couple weeks ago when the internet blew up over a bike-hating video from a woman who was quickly identified as a reserve Santa Paula police officer.

Even though, as it turned out, Laura Weintraub was only peripherally associated with the department, helping out around the office a few hours a week. She was never a patrol officer, and never in a position to enforce the law, fairly or otherwise.

And the bike-friendly department she barely worked for got an undeserved black eye based on the comments of someone who should have known better.

It wasn’t like the anger we all felt wasn’t justified.

Weintraub’s failed attempt at humor fell into a long list of shock jocks, newspaper columnists, comedians, online commenters and just plain anti-social jerks who can’t seem to understand that bike riders have as much a right to the road as they do.

And that we’re all just people trying to get from here to there in one piece.

They somehow seem to think the idea of running us over or off the road is outrageously funny. And fail to grasp the concept that a simple tap that would be nothing more than a fender bender between cars could result in serious injury — or worse — if it was with a cyclist, instead.

I was as outraged as anyone.

Yet somehow felt that in our anger, we were missing out on a teachable moment. One that could allow us to reach out to the Santa Paula police, and maybe even drivers like Weintraub herself, to educate them on our rights and how to drive safely around us. And why.

Turns out, a lot of people read that piece.

Including Laura Weintraub.

So I was surprised when I opened my inbox a few days later to find an email from the alleged bike hater herself, asking if we could talk.

When we spoke on the phone a few days later, I found a very caring and contrite young woman who realized she’d made the biggest mistake of her life. And had listened to the angry comments directed her way, and truly got just how and why she was so wrong, and why we were all so upset with her.

A typical motorist, she had never seen us from anything other than a windshield perspective, unaware of our right to the road and the dangers we face on a daily basis from drivers just like her.

She’d never put herself in our position, literally or figuratively, she said.

But she wanted to.

So I agreed to meet with her, and take her on a ride through the relatively quiet streets of Santa Monica and Venice, unwilling to throw a neophyte rider into the deep end on more challenging streets.

Even that brief tour through tame traffic scared her. But somehow, she held her own, remembering the riding tips she’d gotten from me, as well as cycling instructor Stanley Appleman the day before.

She also picked my brain in an attempt to truly understand the dangers we face, and what we can do to make peace on the roads with people like her.

Or at least, like the way she’d been a few weeks before.

She’s changed. She truly gets it.

She’s doing her best to make amends. Not to improve her badly tarnished reputation, but to fix the mistake she made.

And talk to the people out there who might have found the humor in her previously video, and explain to them and other like-minded drivers that we’re all just people, on two wheels or four.

But don’t take my word for it.

Take a look at her latest video, and decide for yourself.

And let’s stop the death threats. Against her or anyone else, no matter how deserved you think they may be.

Just like her earlier video, it’s not funny.

And never appropriate.

 

Santa Monica police blame the victim in a new bike safety video, two better videos and your Morning Links

Santa Monica police are offering up a new PSA suggesting that stopping for stop signs while riding a bike is child’s play. And the best way to ensure you’ll get home to yours.

Children, that is.

It’s not like their message isn’t reasonable — both the law and common sense dictate that we should observe traffic signals just like anyone else. But while they’ve undoubtedly scored points with bike-hating residents, they could have done a lot more good by focusing on the need for motorists to pay attention and drive safely around bike riders.

Which is what share the road really means, despite the way some drivers — and police departments, apparently — try to twist it these days.

After all, even the most dangerous cyclists pose a risk primarily to themselves, while dangerous drivers pose a risk to everyone around them.

I don’t have any records on what may have caused bike injury collisions in Santa Monica. But neither of the two bicyclists killed in Santa Monica in recent years ran a red light or stop sign. Antonio Cortez died after riding into an open car door while allegedly riding drunk, while Erin Galligan was run down from behind by while riding home from work on PCH.

Even if he was as stumbling drunk as SMPD officials implied, Cortez would probably still be alive today if a driver hadn’t left his car door open in violation of California law.

And to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever suggested that Galligan did anything wrong, other than occupy the same road space as the speeding hit-and-run driver who killed her.

Maybe the SMPD’s next bike safety videos should focus on closing your damn car door and not running away like a coward after you kill someone.

Then again, this is the same department that has promised to crackdown on scofflaw cyclists more than once. Even though they can’t legally focus enforcement on specific violators as opposed to violations.

That is, they can legally ticket everyone who rolls stop signs, for instance. But they can’t direct their enforcement towards cyclists as opposed to everyone else on the road.

And they should know that.

……….

As long as we’re sharing videos, here’s one from the Encino Velodrome’s recent Swap Your Legs Race.

Meanwhile, a great video says it’s time to fix LA’s broken sidewalks. And even our Twitter-using mayor liked it.

……….

The Daily News is the latest to notice that current LA law bans kids playing on or near streets.

LA’s first protected bike lane has already seen better days.

How many people get to work car-free in your neighborhood?

A writer for City Watch says the Pacoima Wash bike and pedestrian pathway recently approved by the San Fernando City Council has the power to transform the area.

Zev says you’ll soon be able to sponsor your own section of bike path in LA County.

Drivers can — and should — cross into a bike lane to make a turn, even when there’s a solid white line. California law requires drivers to make a right from the lane closest to the curb, and never turn across a bike lane.

Fair warning to Los Angeles, as Oakland agrees to pay out $3.25 million to a cyclist seriously injured after hitting a pothole. The city had received numerous complaints about the pothole-ridden road but failed to fix it.

Across the bay, San Francisco is on its way to becoming a bike utopia.

How bicycling helped build Kickstarter.

A new helmet attachment promises to keep you cool by soaking your head. No, really.

Turns out the wicked witch of the Wall Street Journal was wrong, while famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz says it’s time for vigorous law enforcement against reckless drivers before they kill someone, not after.

Drivers are at fault for injury collisions with bicyclists in a Georgia county two-thirds of the time. But why did they illustrate the story with a crashed motorcycle?

A documentary maker for the BBC moves to LA, but gives up bicycling to work due to “distracted drivers going 50 mph in the dark.” But isn’t that half the fun? Thanks to Jim Pettipher for the heads-up.

Funny how often totally insane cyclists attack perfectly innocent motorists for absolutely no rational reason. Seriously, no one should ever attack anyone else on the roadway or use their U-lock as a weapon. But something tells me there’s probably another side to stories like this.

The owner of Soigneur magazine looks at five up and coming bicycling groups, and manages to be only somewhat offensive, particularly in regards to women riders.

A writer for the Guardian says cyclists aren’t the enemy, and it’s time to end the us versus them mentality.

An Australian writer suggests bike cams have been beneficial, but oddly worries about privacy concerns even though nothing that occurs in public view is ever private.

Your next helmet could look like an alien brain if you’re willing to spend more than $1000 for the privilege.

Finally, after an Aussie BMW worker calls for intentionally dooring cyclists and posting the videos online, the story somehow devolves into a debate over licensing cyclists, rather than protecting them from illegal assaults by bike-hating jerks.

And Boyonabike found this bike lane fail at Cal Poly Pomona. Are they trying to tell us something?

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A slow building right hook, how it looks to be invisible and a very courteous SaMo parking officer

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to post any videos from my recent rides.

I ended up deleting most of them this past month as I worked to catch up from my recent involuntary computer downtime. And anything that didn’t seem all that dramatic didn’t make the cut.

But here are a few that did.

First up, as happens far too often, a driver speeds up to pass me on Abbot Kinney, then cuts in front of me to make a right turn. He might have gotten away with it if he hadn’t had to stop short to let a pedestrian cross the street he was turning onto.

If I didn’t have good brakes — thanks Chris! — and more importantly, been prepared to use them, this could have had a different outcome.

Note to drivers — never count on a best case scenario to complete a move you shouldn’t have started in the first place.

Then there’s this one taken the same day while riding past the VA hospital in Brentwood, in which I discover just how it feels to be invisible, by nearly rear-ending a driver who pulled out directly in front of me.

Same notes about good brakes and preparation, same thank you to Chris, formerly of the Westwood Helen’s and now a rockstar bike buyer in the Santa Monica store.

And by the way Chris, if you ever need someone to review anything…

Finally, my videos tend to focus on stupid driver tricks, simply because that’s what I usually encounter on the streets. And what shows up well on video.

Trust me, I wish the video of the idiot who nearly t-boned me Thursday by making a left into the bike lane I was riding in on San Vicente had come out better so I could show it to you. But even though he finally stopped about a foot from my left hip, I was looking straight ahead at the time trying to get the hell away from him.

And the camera doesn’t show what I’m not looking at.

But riding north on Ocean through downtown Santa Monica that same day, I was annoyed to find a parking enforcement officer cruising in the bike lane ahead of me, and started searching for a break in traffic to go around him.

Until he evidently noticed me in his rear view mirror, that is, and courteously — and safely — pulled out of my way to let me pass.

And no, he wasn’t pulling over to write a ticket; he gave me a wave as I passed, then pulled back in behind me once I was out of the way.

Note to the City of Santa Monica — if you can identify this guy from the video, give him a medal or a commendation or something.

He makes your city look damn good.

If only all your parking officers — let alone drivers — would follow his lead, the streets would be a much safer place for all of us.

A brief observation on walking the dog, as it relates to dangerous drivers and surviving on two wheels

Let’s talk dog walking.

Or rather, walking the dog as it relates to dangerous drivers. And how that relates to riding a bike in the swirling cesspool of human interaction we call traffic.

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Seriously, could you run over this smiling face?

Take what happened last week.

I was walking the Corgi a few blocks from our home, after dark, during rush hour traffic. The last building on the block we were on featured that 1960’s style covered parking in which the front of the building overhangs the parking spaces, with the sidewalk passing between the driveway apron and the parking spaces.

As we were strolling in front of the building, a car pulled up on the side street in front of us, barely paused at the stop sign, then suddenly pulled onto the wrong side of the busy street we were walking along and turned left, making a shallow U into a parking space just in front of us.

Fortunately, I was able to pull her back in time and took a quick step back myself, allowing the driver to zoom by without hitting either of us.

I was not, however, able to control my own reaction, calling him a jackass as we walked past and rounded the corner.

Moments later, though, the driver came running up after us on the dark side street we’d turned onto. As he approached, I moved the dog behind me and balled my fists, prepared to defend myself against the jerk who’d just threatened our safety.

Since we rescued the then four-year old Corgi a few years ago, we’ve developed an interesting dynamic. She’s taken it upon herself to protect my wife, and more than once has shown signs that she would fight to the death to defend her — even standing up to a coyote over twice her size that dared to walk through our urban neighborhood.

On the other hand, she’s also made it clear that she trusts me to protect her, lowering her guard when I walk her in a way she never does with my wife alone. And I take that trust very seriously.

Threaten my safety with your car and I’ll be pissed. But God help you if you endanger my dog.

What happened next caught me completely off guard, though.

He apologized.

He said he hadn’t seen us, and was sorry if he had frightened my dog. Never mind that he’d scared the crap out me.

No apologies for the dangerous stunt he had pulled — and probably not for the first time, since he appeared to live in the building. And no explanation how it was that he failed to see a grown man and a light colored dog on a well-lighted sidewalk.

I was still too angry to politely discuss the situation, so I simply accepted his apology, shook his hand and turned away to walk home, shaken by the close call.

The very next night, I was once again walking the Corgi when we ran into another, all-too-common situation.

We were alongside a large apartment building on a busy side street when a driver entering the parking lot paused to let us safely cross the driveway. However, that left the rear of his car extending out into the traffic lane, much to the chagrin of the driver behind him who was forced to briefly pause in his mad dash through the residential neighborhood.

So needless to say, that second driver leaned on his horn, blasting an angry rebuke that anyone might have the audacity to stop in his way, with no idea why it washappening.

In other words, he was more than willing to let someone else run us over if it meant he didn’t have to slow down for even a moment.

Never mind that he could have simply gone around the other car. Which is exactly what he did after treating us to his rage-filled car horn soliloquy.

And never mind that his honking could have startled the driver ahead of him, possibly leading to tragic results.

And there, in a nutshell, is the problem on our streets. Or one of them, anyway.

Too many of today’s drivers have lost any sense of the danger their vehicles pose to others. They feel entitled to their place on roadway, and have little or no fear of the reckless stunts they pull, having gotten away with them too many times in the past.

Even though getting away with it doesn’t mean it’s legal. Or safe, for that matter.

The problem is, you can only get away with something until you don’t. At which point, it’s too late for anything but the too-often tragic consequences.

Then there’s the sense of entitlement, to use that phrase again, that allows some — not all, but far too many — drivers to feel they have a right to move unimpeded along the streets. And that anyone in their way, be it other motorists legally slowing or stopping for a turn or to let a pedestrian pass, or a bicyclist in the lane in front of them, is committing some offense by delaying their progress by even a second or two.

I see it every day on the busy street in front of my building, as some speeding jerk lays on his horn because a car is stopped in the left lane, legally, to make a turn. Or slows down to safely make a right, rather than taking the corner at a dangerously high speed, as too many do.

Even though using a horn for any reason other than a safety warning is against the law.

And don’t get me started on the drivers who see a car stopped ahead of them, then whip around on the right or left without considering that there may be a reason why they stopped. Other than the other driver just felt like it, that is.

Like maybe a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing the street.

Which is why I politely refuse any invitation from a driver to cross an intersection in front of them unless I know for a fact that every other motorist in the shares their courtesy and inclination.

And yes, before you say it, there are countless reckless, self-entitled jerks on two wheels — and two feet — as well.

The difference being that a reckless cyclist or pedestrian poses a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers pose a danger to everyone around them.

There may be hope, though.

Some drivers get it when they see the potential consequences of their actions. Like the driver who apologized for nearly running down the Corgi and I.

Though whether that will keep him from pulling the same stunt next time remains to be seen.

Then there’s the valet driver I had a brief conversation with in Santa Monica last week.

I was riding past a large hotel on Ocean Ave when a car exited the parking garage right in front of me. And as too often happens, another car followed closely behind him, on a collision course with my bike.

So I yelled out a warning, and the driver came to a sudden stop just a few feet from my right.

He caught up to me at the next light, waiting to make a right as I sat on his left to go straight.

“Dude,” he called out, “I wasn’t going to hit you. I do this all day long, every day.”

“Yeah, but how do I know that?” I responded. “I don’t have any choice but to assume you don’t see me.”

“Oh.” He sat for a moment, letting it sink in.

“So, you’re just doing what you have to do to stay alive. Okay, I get that.”

The light changed and I rode on as he turned away, a little more hopeful than I’d been just a few moments before.

………

Speaking of Santa Monica, still no response seven days later to the complain I filed about being forced to share a bike lane with a Big Blue Bus.

And that’s frightening.

Big surprise — ex-LAPD cop killer doesn’t like bikes, either; big silence from Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus

You knew there had to be a bicycling connection in there somewhere.

Here in L.A., local news reports have been commandeered by the manhunt for Chris Dorner, the former LAPD officer who allegedly murdered three people in a bizarre attempt at getting justice for his firing.

Note to anyone considering a similarly unhinged rampage in an attempt to set the record straight: It won’t work. All it will do is convince the world that you’re crazy, and that they were right all along.

In an attempt to justify his actions, Dorner posted a rambling online manifesto (trust me, you’re better off with the Cliff Notes version) in which he professes his support for Tim Tebow, Charlie Sheen, Dave Brubeck’s Take Five and Michelle Obama’s bangs. Not to mention his love and admiration for a long list of female performers, and his thanks to unnamed individuals for some great and not-so-great sex over the years.

Oh, and a list of those deserving of death at his hands.

But surely, anything that long and convoluted has to mention bikes somewhere, right?

Dorner does not disappoint.

Near the end of his meandering philippic, he vents his spleen on those of us who take to two wheels.

Cyclist, I have no problem sharing the road with you. But, at least go the fucking speed limit posted or get off the road!!! That is a feasible request. Livestrong you fraudulent assholes.

How surprising that a former cop wouldn’t understand our right to the road. Then again, he was fired before the LAPD released its groundbreaking bike training video for its officers.

I guess we should just be glad that we didn’t make it onto his high-value target list.

But he’s not completely irrational. He does call for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips.

You know, to keep them out of the hands of people like him.

And Streetsblog notes that coverage of the story shows the need for a separated bike lane in front of LAPD headquarters.

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

………

Still no follow-up from Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus about the complaint I filed this week, following Monday’s close call in which I found myself sharing a bike lane with a speeding bus.

Despite leaving my phone number when I filed the complaint, as well as leaving it on the voice mail of their head of security, I’ve heard absolutely nothing from them. Which is even more disturbing since the woman I spoke with refused to view my video of the incident or take down a link to the video, saying they have their own cameras on every bus.

Maybe so.

But they don’t have anything that shows it from the perspective of a bike rider who came less than two feet from getting run down by a driver who should never have come close to the bike lane. Let alone passed me with two wheels inside it.

Kind of makes me wonder if they just don’t give a damn.

But we’ll see.

………

Bike Portland say new LACBC board member April Economides is bringing bicycling to business. L.A. wants your help to eradicate wheel-grabbing storm drain covers. New parklets open up on Spring Street next to the semi-green bike lanes; one features stationary bikes so you can pedal in place while other people ride by. They’re not the first ones in L.A., though. CD 11 candidate Mike Bonin promises to keep building out the district’s bicycle network if he’s elected. Flying Pigeon hosts its monthly Spoke(n) Art Ride this weekend. Training tips for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race; nothing about chugging green beer at the finish line, though. USC’s first feeble stab at accommodating — or perhaps channeling — bikes gets mixed reviews; the school’s Neon Tommy looks at the proposed My Figueroa project. Learn how to track ride with an intensive six-week course at the Encino Velodrome. Turns out there’s a city election in WeHo next month, as well; at least one candidate charges they’ve neglected East West Hollywood. A badly decomposed body is found next to the San Gabriel River bike path; why are bike paths such popular places to dump bodies? CLR Effect interviews an Irish rider with the local Full Circle Cycling team. Boyonabike reviews City Cycling.

The 15th annual Tour de Palm Springs rolls this Saturday. A cyclist is injured in a collision on the Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, but apparently not badly. San Diego commits to making the city safer for cyclists; considering the high speed virtual highways that pass for surface streets, they have a long way to go. San Luis Obispo students conduct a mock trial in a fake hit-and-run case that left an imaginary cyclist injured. Yes, it’s illegal to run over a cyclist, no matter how much he or she may annoy you; you’d probably get away with it, though. San Francisco cab drivers are learning to make room for bikes. A Tracy cyclist is killed by a hit-and-run driver as he tried to get back on his bike after a fall.

Forget road diets, the goal is now right-sizing streets to create great public spaces. Oh how the mighty have fallen, as Lance is now the most hated athlete in America. Can Seattle have a successful bike share program with a mandatory helmet law? Denver offers cyclists a separated bike lane complete with bike boxes, green mixing zones and a special signal giving riders a head start on vehicular traffic at a dangerous intersection, yet local bike advocates say it’s not good enough; someone should tell them not to let the perfect be the enemy of the pretty damn effing fantastic. Even tiny Hays Kansas — population 21,000 — is getting a bike-friendly makeover. Des Moines plans to make the bikeable city even better. Bikes may use full lane, except in New York. A Louisiana driver kills a 14-year old cyclist while drunk, and a grand jury concludes it’s no big deal. Maryland cyclists oppose a proposed mandatory helmet law.

Uruguay tries to cut violence by trading bikes for guns. Evidently, life is cheap in London, as a driver gets a six month suspended sentence for carelessly killing a cyclist, but at least he won’t be able to legally drive for the next three years; on the other hand, his victim won’t ever drive again. A rising young British cyclist was killed after losing control and crashing into a stone pillar at 40 mph at a dangerous corner, which should have been fixed long before someone got killed. A UK truck driver attempted to delete the texts he was sending when he killed a 13-year old bike rider. Cycling deaths and serious injuries are headed the wrong way in the UK. A lawyer says a new bike superhighway could make things more dangerous for British riders. Current Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins is voted Britain’s funniest celebrity. It’s hard to obey the cycling restrictions if you can figure out what the hell they are. Can Scotland copy the Netherlands success in cycling; then again, can anyone? Speaking of the Netherlands, the risk of death for Dutch riders over 80 is 80 times higher than for younger riders. A Kenyan pick-up driver disappears after a bike is crashed beyond repair in a collision; unfortunately, so was the person riding it. A new documentary charts the rise of the Rwanda national cycling team. A new national map of dooring spots is making waves in New Zealand. A Kiwi bike racer rides away from a terrible drug and gang-related past, including prison, molestation and the murder of his father.

Finally, Gotham insults don’t travel well when a young rider moves to the Midwest. And if your winter beard gets caught in your bicycle’s components, you’ve let it go too far.

A little human interaction turns a bad day into a good ride — one even the worst driver can’t ruin

This day did not start well.

Monday morning meant back to our regular routine after the long holiday weekend. Which meant walking my wife down to her car, then taking the dog out for its morning walk.

The dog has her own routine, too.

She insists on walking out front and waiting for my wife’s car to exit the garage. Then stands and barks a few times as my wife drives off to work.

And then — and only then — will she acquiesce to begin our daily constitutional around the block.

Today was different.

This time, she heard the garage gate open and took off running, jerking the leash out of my hand. And planted herself squarely in front of my wife’s car, hidden below her field of vision, in an apparent attempt to keep her from leaving.

Nice gesture. Bad execution.

Fortunately, my wife is a careful driver, and was exiting the garage slowly enough to hear my shouts of warning. She jammed on the brakes and stopped just short of turning our Corgi into road kill.

So I collected the dog, and after giving her a good talking to — which she seemed to clearly understand despite the language barrier — we finished our walk, my stomach churning the whole way over what might have been and almost was.

A few hours later I was still shaken, so I did what I usually when I’m upset.

I got my bike and went for a ride.

I was about three miles from home when the light at a busy intersection turned yellow. I noticed a driver facing the opposite direction, waiting to make her left and unsure what I was going to do. So I gave a quick nod for her to go ahead while I braked to a stop.

She smiled in response and waved her thanks as she turned just before the light changed to red.

A few moments later, as I waited at the light to turn green, a car pulled up behind me with its right turn signal on. I moved my bike slightly to the right so he could pull up to the intersection, nodding his thanks as he moved up next to me.

But instead of stopping, he continued to edge forward. So I pointed to the No Right on Red sign, unsure if he could still see me. Yet shortly afterwards, the car’s forward stance visibly relaxed as he took his foot off the gas, then turned around to give me a thumbs up for saving him from a possible ticket.

And suddenly, my mood brightened, the day’s near disaster finally behind me.

Throughout my ride, I found myself interacting with drivers and pedestrians in countless little ways. For once, it wasn’t drivers versus cyclists, but human beings recognizing the humanity in one another, and finding ways to share the road in peace and safety.

I even got the chance to express some thanks of my own, as a driver prepared to enter his car in a busy area where dooring is always a distinct possibility. He looked up and saw me, though, and somehow managed to squeeze himself into his car while barely holding the door open to allow himself the smallest possible entryway. And leaving me plenty of room to ride past as I thanked him for the courtesy.

Just one stranger looking out for another.

It was a day when courtesy and compassion seemed to override the usual stress on the streets. And a reminder that we’re not really cyclists or drivers, but just people trying to get from here to there and return to our loved ones in peace.

And in one piece.

Although that came into serious question when I encountered a woman who may just be one of the worst drivers in human history. Or at least one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

I was making my way home, taking my usual shortcut through the VA hospital grounds, when I was passed by a massive white SUV.

As we both neared a stop sign, she edged over to the right in an obvious attempt to block my path. So I rode around her anyway, only to have her lurch towards me in what I could only interpret as an unprovoked threat, coming less than a foot from hitting me before straightening her wheel and continuing down the road.

She didn’t get far, though. An ambulance coming from the opposite direction with red lights and siren blaring caused the car ahead of her to pull to the right and stop, blocking her path.

I pulled out my camera phone, intending to take a photo of her license plate while she was stopped.

Then watched in horror as she hesitated for a few moments before cutting sharply to the left, driving head-on into the path of the ambulance to get around the stopped car. And forcing the ambulance driver into a full panic stop, less than a block from the ER entrance, to let the dangerously aggressive driver pass without causing a wreck.

Barely.

And never mind that every second counts in an emergency situation, and that her idiotic stunt could have put the patient in jeopardy. Let alone everyone else on the road who could have been collateral damage to her need to get where she’s going just a few seconds faster.

Wherever the hell there might be.

Once the ambulance passed, I kicked it up into my smallest gears to catch up to her.

Unfortunately, shift change at the hospital flooded the street with cars, cutting me off before I could catch her. And letting her get away to threaten other cyclists and risk the lives of other people another day.

Yet even that couldn’t kill my upbeat mood.

It would take more than one dangerous, threatening jerk to outweigh all the safe, positive and friendly interactions that came before.

And that’s what I call a very good ride.

And a good day.

Even if the jerk got away.

A meditation on moving, bike lanes and expectations

I’m back, after what can only be described as the move from hell.

A move in which nothing went horribly, irretrievably wrong. But in which nearly everything was more challenging, problematic, expensive or just plain aggravating than anticipated.

Even now, what is, in theory at least, my office remains more reminiscent of the aftermath of the ’94 earthquake than any functional working space I’ve ever encountered. Everything that didn’t fit anywhere else is piled there, along with everything that’s supposed to be there.

And trust me, that’s a lot of stuff. At this rate, I expect to finally excavate my desk sometime in mid-March.

The first night was the hardest, though.

Aside from all the problems we anticipated — like not knowing what box something we needed might be packed away in — it seemed lit nothing fit where it was supposed to.

Naively, perhaps, we assumed that everything we moved from the old place would find a corresponding space in the new one. But our new apartment, while about the same size, was arranged differently. And the things that had fit perfectly there didn’t necessarily fit here.

Or at least, didn’t fit the same way.

It wasn’t that there’s anything wrong with it. It was just very different.

And even though we went to bed that night thinking we’d made a big mistake, the only error we really made was failing to adjust our expectations.

Sort of like the way some people react when bike lanes unexpectedly appear on their streets.

Take the controversy that has developed in New York City over the rapid expansion of the city’s bikeway network, particularly over Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West and Father Capodanno Blvd in Staten Island.

Or attempts to make Washington DC more bike friendly, including new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, that elicited a backlash from groups and individuals as varied as ESPN’s Tony Korneiser and the East Coast branch of AAA.

Or even right here in Los Angeles, where a road diet on the Valley’s Wilbur Avenue had council members, drivers and the local media up in arms — even though people who actually live in the area seem to like it.

Because, you see, it just wasn’t what they expected.

Many people have gotten used to roadways dedicated solely to motor vehicles. And don’t necessarily welcome the intrusion of bikes on their streets.

In their minds, reducing the number of lanes, narrowing them or taking out parking spaces meant the streets were less safe than they were before — even though that usually calms speeding traffic and results in safer streets. And in some cases, actually forces drivers to get out of their cars and walk a bit.

The horror, huh?

To some, it represents a war on cars. As if traffic planning was a zero-sum game in which motorists must lose something for every step forward for anyone else.

Never mind that drivers gain as cyclists slowly replace other cars on the streets, reducing congestion and ultimately speeding their commutes. And that well-designed cycling infrastructure gets us out of the way of impatient drivers by moving bikes out of the shared right lane.

Meanwhile, the backlash goes on, with at least one member of the media doing his best imitation of the yellow journalism of the robber baron era, up in arms that bike lanes got plowed before some streets. Or maybe not. And describing the Prospect Park West bike lanes as “widely detested,” with no objective figures to back it up — and despite evidence that those lanes are “widely detested” by a just a small minority of very vocal people.

At least the DC press is smart enough not to fall for  that sort of crap.

Yet despite what some people insist, it’s not reckless cyclists who pose a risk to life and limb.

Then there are those who consider all things bike-related to be part of a liberal conspiracy to force people out of their cars, and in their deeply clouded minds, that’s reason enough to halt even the most basic of bike plans.

And no, they’re not all failed Colorado gubernatorial candidates.

If they gave them a chance, they might find that bike lanes and other bicycle infrastructure can actually increase traffic safety, enhance local neighborhoods and improve their own quality of life.

Quite an accomplishment for just a few inches of white paint.

And like my wife and I, they may realize that it may not be what they’re used to. But with a little time, and a little effort, they may actually get used to it.

Or even like it, just a little.

.………

Then again, not all bikeways are improvements.

Consider this recent email from Rex Reese, in response to a link about a proposed Bakersfield bike path that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.

I sincerely believe the honor of Bike Path to Nowhere belongs to the metropolis of Trona, which is a small hell hole located on the shores of Searles Dry Lake, between Ridgecrest and Death Valley — literally The Middle of Nowhere. It’s very, very hot in the summer, very cold during winter, and smells like shit all year ’round because of the chemicals and powdered mineral dust that blows off the dry lake.

The path sorta starts maybe a quarter mile outside of town, parallels Trona Road, and sorta ends at East Outer Trona Road and Center Street a mile or so later. It’s separated by a narrow strip of dirt which qualifies it as a Class I Bike Path, right? And it’s got markings and everything. I can’t imagine who uses it or how it got funded — maybe done as a favor to the town warlord.

It’s barely not worth the drive to check out, but you can see it if you look it up on Google Maps.

With a description like that, I may just have to drive up there sometime just to give it a ride. If I can just figure out where the hell Trona is.

.………

A reader from Boston writes to ask for a recommendation on where to rent a bike in Anaheim when he comes out to visit next week. He’s used to a fixie conversion or older steel road bike, but open to anything practical for riding the mean streets of OC. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments or email me; you can find my address on the About BikingInLA page.

.………

Santa Monica’s Parks and Rec Commissioner is pushing to make the beachfront Marvin Bruade Bike Path a little safer; I’ll have something on that same subject later this week. The LACBC’s Valley Pride Ride is rescheduled for next weekend, after getting washed out on Sunday. KPCC looks at the upcoming Streetsblog event in Pasadena. Bikeside offers advice on gearing up for a cold wet winter, while Flying Pigeon offers much simpler advice for riding in rain and snow. The Times looks at efforts to lift the ban on mountain bikes on L.A. trails.  Will offers a video look at off-roading on the Beaudry Trails loop. A look at the upcoming South Bay Bike Plan. Long Beach cyclists fight back against regressive policies in America’s self-proclaimed “most bike friendly city.” Carlsbad police are looking for information on how a cyclist found lying injured in the street got that way, while a Ventura man is injured after losing control of his bike on a 30 mph descent; thanks to DC for the second link.

Elly Blue looks forward to the year in bikes, including predictions for an even bigger backlash. Forget peak oil, we may have already hit peak travel. Cleaning bike water bottles the easy way. Washington considers a three foot passing law when traveling under 35 mph, and five foot over 35; the local paper insists on framing it as a battle of car vs bike. A suggestion to combine bike lanes with right turn-only lanes. It only took three days for the country’s most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians to register its first bike death of the new year.

The secrets of riding in a group. The UK’s acclaimed Bikeability program may be saved from government cutbacks after all. Town Mouse touts the new Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. Road.cc offers their 2011 predictions, including copper-plated bikes and Andy Schleck winning the Tour twice in a single year. A Ugandan candidate rides his bike to win votes. Movistar racer Andrey Amador is beaten and robbed by thieves out for his Pinarella Dogma with the new electronic Campy shifters.

Finally, cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney visits the beach, offering his view of a Santa Monica sunset and a 360° view from the bike path; you can follow his stay in SoCal on Twitter @taylorphinney.

Today’s ride, on which I was so not invisible, for a change

There are days when I feel like I must be invisible, as one driver after another fails to see me. And too often, tries to drive right through me as if I wasn’t there.

Today was not one of those days.

Not a single car in the bike lane, for as far as you can see. Or ride, for that matter.

In fact, it was just the opposite, as one driver after another noticed my presence on the road, waving me through intersections and patiently waiting for me to pass. And I found myself doing the same, signaling drivers to go ahead, and waving my thanks so often that I felt like a beauty queen in a homecoming parade.

And they waived back in return. Like the guy I gave a small nod to, indicating that he should go ahead and make his turn while I waited at the stop sign. Not only did he notice, but gave me a smile and a wave of thanks as he rolled by.

Even pedestrians got into the act.

Like the guy who stood waiting at a crosswalk on a corner, despite having the green light. Maybe he was waiting for a walk signal that never came. Or maybe he was just waiting.

Either way, he finally began sauntering across just before the light changed, forcing everyone else to wait through the green until he eventually made it to the other side.

“Late start,” I grumbled as he walked by. But instead of getting annoyed, he laughed out loud and gave me a friendly wave for waiting.

Don’t ask me why.

Maybe everyone was just in a good mood. Or maybe the DWP spilled a few cases of Prozac in the city’s drinking water. Except no one drinks tap water in L.A.

Or unfiltered tap water, anyway.

Usually when I ride, I make a point of reminding myself to focus on the hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers who share the road safely, rather than the one or two jerks who don’t.

This time, I didn’t have do that.

Because there weren’t any.

Not one right hook. No left crosses. No close passes, rude gestures, insults, honks or near misses.

The closest I came to any kind of incident was the SUV-driving woman who darted out from a side street when she found a brief gap in traffic, only to spot me directly in her path. So she stopped where she was and waited for me to pass, blocking traffic in both directions until I was safely out of her way.

And yes, I waved my thanks to her, too.

Frankly, I’m grateful to anyone who doesn’t kill me. And unlike yesterday, if there was anyone driving dangerously or illegally, I didn’t notice.

It was a very good day.

Which just goes to show that, yes, we do have them. And more often than you might think.

Even in L.A.

………

Jeremy Grant explains how the California Vehicle Code applies to sharing the road, for the benefit of all those on either side who just don’t get it. Here in L.A., 36% of all crashes involve cyclists or pedestrians, yet only 1.2% of Federal transportation funding is spent on bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure locally. The CHP officer who said it’s against the law for a little kid to ride “the wrong way” in a crosswalk tries to explain himself; Damien Newton swiftly and effectively eviscerates his explanation (the comments are good for a laugh, too). The bike-riding jackass who allegedly stole a gold chain off the neck of a 5-year old boy faces charges. Ride your bike to Long Beach next Friday and get 20% off lunch. Lawmakers from my hometown propose a mandatory helmet law for children; the only penalty would be a friendly warning. Maryland is the latest state to consider a three-foot passing law — too late to save a popular rider. A lawyer’s take on why Florida is the most dangerous state for cyclists in the U.S. Over three-fourths of Toronto cyclists want separated bike lanes. Biking New Zealand cops offer advice on how to stay safe with idiots like this running around. Yet another risk on the road — your flashing bike lights could trigger a seizure in a passing motorist. Cambridge police give free lights — and tickets — to lightless riders. In the UK, they use cameras to measure the average speed of passing drivers; unfortunately, they put them in the middle of the bikeway. Finally, the Times asks if Long Beach is “the most bike-friendly city in America.” Uh, no.

But they’re sure making Los Angeles look bad.

A simple act of roadway courtesy

I have always believed in riding courteously, remembering that sharing the road is a two-way street. And that I have no less — or greater — right to it than anyone else.

So I didn’t think twice when I pulled up to a red light at a narrow intersection, and noticed the car behind me had its blinker on. I simply lifted my bike and made a couple quick sidesteps to the left so he could get by and make his right turn.

What happened next surprised me, though.

As he rolled past, the driver lowered his window, waved and said “Thank you; thank you very much” — sounding so much like an Elvis impersonator that I could barely keep from laughing.

Still winded from the sprint that got me there, the best I could manage in response was a nod and a smile, combined with a friendly wave. But he got the idea.

And just for a moment, we truly saw each other, not as adversaries competing for the same limited piece of pavement, but as real human beings.

Whether he’ll remember that the next time a cyclist is blocking his path, I have no idea. Or whether I will the next time an impatient driver follows too close or cuts me off.

But it only took a simple act of roadway courtesy, and its acknowledgement, to make me truly visible to another road user. And to lift my spirits for the rest of my ride.

And the rest of my day.

……..

Enci Box makes the case against Class 1 bike paths. L.A.’s best bike plan probably isn’t the one LADOT proposed; meanwhile, LADOT pleads poverty as an excuse not to attend future Bike Advisory Committee meetings. Will Campbell Embraces the Brilliance on a recent ride near Jefferson and Crenshaw. Flying Pigeon explains how to make your own Jasbeschermers clip; if you can pronounce it, you probably already know what it means. Making negligent driving fatalities a crime in the DC area. Bike Portland offers an in-depth examination on the lack of bike insurance. A candidate for mayor of Columbia, MO says vote for him “Because most Columbians drive cars and not bikes.” Denver lowers speed limits and adds bike lanes and traffic calming to around Washington Park (see LADOT? It can be done…). Hagerstown, Maryland includes cyclists in designing their new bike plan (see LADOT? It can be done…). The Orlando newspaper wants to know if cyclists have a right to the road. A look at 10 years of bike culture in America. Your Japanese-made bike now probably comes from China, but look for an increase in U.S. made bikes. Cycling casualties — serious injuries and deaths — in the British city of Leeds increased 10% in 2008; somehow, that works out to a fifth, according to the headline writer. Finally, this is why you never leave your sleeping children in your bakfiet; evidently, that’s just what they do over there. But at least the thief was honest responsible.

The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights

My first exposure to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights came in an online forum.

Someone had posted a comment about it, complaining that cyclists expected drivers to treat them like porcelain dolls.

I had to agree with him. Because that’s exactly the point — if you hit a bicyclist with your car, he or she will break, just like a glass doll. Except the clean-up will be a lot longer, more complicated and more painful for everyone involved.

The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights doesn’t create any new rights. All it does is gather rights that cyclists — and human beings, for that matter — already enjoy in various forms, under various statutes, and codifies them in a single document.

Created by the Bike Writers Collective — I may have mistakenly said Coalition on today’s AirTalk program — it’s been endorsed by a long line of individuals and elected officials, neighborhood councils and organizations, just a few of whom are shown here. And countless cyclists have requested that it be officially adopted as part of the new L.A. bike plan.

I’m including the full text below, for anyone who heard me mention it on the show.

I’m also including a link to something I wrote earlier, explaining why cyclists do some of the things we do — and one driver’s exceptional response to it. Along with a link to the single best explanation of how to share the road, from a cyclist’s perspective, that I’ve ever seen.

Because really, we all want the same things out on the road.

We want to get where we’re going. And we want to get home safely.

And that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

CYCLISTS’ BILL OF RIGHTS

WHEREAS, cyclists have the right to ride the streets of our communities and this right is formally articulated in the California Vehicle Code; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are both environmental and traffic congestion solutions; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are, first and foremost, people – with all of the rights and privileges that come from being members of this great society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, do hereby claim the following rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

2) Cyclists have the right to equal access to our public streets and to sufficient and significant road space.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development and design that enable and support safe cycling.

7) Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling.

8 ) Cyclists have the right to be actively engaged as a constituent group in the organization and administration of our communities.

9) Cyclists have the right to full access for themselves and their bicycles on all mass transit with no limitations.

10) Cyclists have the right to end-of-trip amenities that include safe and secure opportunities to park their bicycles.

11) Cyclists have the right to be secure in their persons and property, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment.

12) Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

And further, we claim and assert these rights by taking to the streets and riding our bicycles, all in an expression of our inalienable right to ride!

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