Tag Archive for speed limits

Morning Links: LA raises speed limits, Vision Zero holds course, and LA River Bike Path reopens in Long Beach

One quick note. Come back after 11:00 this morning for a guest post from Derrick Paul about the planned Vision Zero lane reduction and complete street project on Temple Street. 

And why it hasn’t happened.

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Los Angeles will be raising speed limits on nearly 100 miles of streets to comply with California’s deadly 85th Percentile Law, which allows drivers to set speed limits by applying their foot to the gas pedal.

Meanwhile, speed limits will decrease somewhat on a little more than 52 miles of streets.

The tradeoff is that police will now be able to use radar to enforce speeds, which they had been banned from doing on nearly 80% of LA streets.

Under the terms of the law, police can’t use radar to enforce the speed limit if a street hasn’t had a speed survey within the last seven years.

Once the survey is conducted, the speed limit must be set at the speed driven by the 15th fastest motorist driving unimpeded in non-rush hour traffic, although the city does have the option to round down slightly.

So in order to make our streets safer, we have to make them faster and more dangerous.

Or just repeal a stupid, outdated and deadly law.

Correction: In my haste last night, I mistakenly wrote that the 85th Percentile Law was based on the average speed of 85% of motorists, ignoring my gut feeling that I was wrong, but too tired to stop and look it up.

And I was right. That I was wrong, that is. 

The following email from Casey Kerrigan clarifies this complicated law better than any other explanation I’ve seen. 

When doing the speed survey the speed limit is based on the 85 percentile not on the average speed of 85% of the cars surveyed.  Note that speed surveys are conduced under the optimal conditions to speed, ie during the day, at a non rush hour time and only the speed of free flowing cars are measures. Free flowing are cars with no traffic ahead of them for at least 5 seconds on a straightaway and unmarked cars are used to house the speed measurement equipment.
This is from the Caltrans guidelines for how to set speed limits which you can find here.
This paragraph is taken from the Caltrans guidelines linked above on page 36.

3.2.6 Calculating 85th Percentile Speed

If 100 vehicle speeds are plotted, the 85th percentile speed is determined by looking at the speed of the 15th vehicle down from the top speed. Fifteen percent of the vehicles are travelling faster than this speed, and eighty five percent are travelling at or below this speed. If less than 100 vehicles are counted, the 85th percentile speed must be determined by calculating 85 percent of the number of vehicles counted and determining the vehicles’ 85th percentile speed. For example if 70 vehicles were counted, 0.85 x 70 = 59.5. The speed of vehicle 60 represents the 85th percentile. Examples are shown in Appendix A on the Speed Zone Survey Sheet examples.

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Speaking of which, Vision Zero Los Angeles has released their 2018 Action Plan & Progress Report.

The city plans to remain on course with the program, despite a sharp jump in pedestrian deaths, and badly missing Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal of a 20% reduction in traffic fatalities in 2017.

Of course, that was overly ambitious, since the program is just now gaining its footing and getting its first real funding.

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The LA River Bike Path has reopened in Long Beach, where it had been closed for construction work, now that a large construction crane has been removed.

However, work vehicles and flaggers will remain on the path, and riders may be required to slow down or walk their bikes through the construction zone.

Thanks to Long Beach Mobility and Healthy Living Programs Officers Michelle Mowery for the heads-up.

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Rent-a-cops driving on a Chicago bike path lose it when a bike rider complains that they don’t belong on the path. Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for the link.

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Local

The victim’s missing head was finally found in an LA multi-modal murder.

A UCLA letter writer says scofflaw Bird scooter users are no worse than bike riders, who he can’t recall ever having seen “obey the traffic laws to the letter.” Unlike pedestrians and motorists, who evidently always obey the letter of the law in his eyes.

CiclaValley imagines what a re-imagined, bike-friendly Ventura Blvd could be.

The Pasadena Star News looks at the proposal to reconfigure Orange Grove Blvd into a complete street that welcomes everyone.

 

State

Seven proposed U.S. Bicycle Routes could soon be coming to, and through, California.

Encinitas-based cruiser bike-maker Electra Bicycle Company turns 25.

Cycling Without Age comes to Merced.

A pair of dueling Op-Eds in the Sacramento Bee say a bill to allow mountain bikes in wilderness areas would be good for the backcountry, while another calls it a Trojan horse that would put wheels over wilderness.

 

National

Bike Snob says enough with the helmet shaming, already.

Streetsblog says American cities aren’t making much progress on Vision Zero, except for New York and San Francisco. Although for some reason, they aren’t tracking Los Angeles on their chart.

A Seattle-area man had his bike stolen after he was hit on the head with a pipe. No word on whether he was wearing a helmet, which might have helped. Or not.

Washington is the latest state to approve an ebike classification bill based on the one pioneered in California.

Great idea, as a Washington bike school teams with a woodworking school to teach everything from wrenching to wood frame and wheel building.

Evidently, LA drivers aren’t the only ones who complain about removing traffic lanes from massive streets. Tempe AZ will restripe a roadway to remove bollards protecting a bike lane and add back a third traffic lane in response to motorist complaints.

You’ve got to be kidding. Just days after the Utah house approved an Idaho stop law, a bill that would allow drivers to also treat red lights as stop signs passed a legislative committee. After all, what difference could there possibly be between someone on a 15-pound bike and someone wrapped in two tons of high-speed glass and steel? I mean, other than the bodies the latter would likely leave behind?

Plans for a new bridge on I-10 in Mobile, Alabama will be required to include options for bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

 

International

Cycling Tips offers advice on how to use music to get the best out of your rides. They probably don’t mean singing Hank Williams out loud while you ride, as someone who looks a lot like me may or may not have done on occasion.

Toronto rejects a staff recommendation to remove lanes from a major street, and keep it six lanes and dangerous instead.

Caught on video: British police use bike cam video to prosecute a 50 mph punishment pass, resulting in the equivalent of a $365 fine. A much better punishment would be to make the driver stand in the roadway while someone else does it to him.

The Irish government will introduce a safe passing law mandating that drivers pass bicyclists with the rough equivalent of three feet on roads with a speed limit below 31 mph, and five feet above that.

Eat and bike your way across Italy with Top Chef contestants.

The war on cars may be a myth, but the war bikes is all too real, as Aussie bicyclists find thumbtacks spread across at least four popular riding routes. Far from a harmless prank, something like that can cause serious injuries — or worse — if a flat causes a rider to fall. And should be prosecuted as such.

The government of Queensland, Australia, has introduced a presumed liability bill, which would presume that the operator of the more dangerous vehicle has a greater responsibility to avoid crashes, and would be considered at fault in a collision; the head of the local auto club calls it a divisive bill that pits motorists against cyclists. Actually, motorists have done that themselves for decades.

 

Finally…

Your WiFi depends on a Hollywood bombshell who escaped Nazis and an unhappy marriage on a bicycle. It’s golf balls over bikes on the beach.

And can a serial burglar really be a bad guy if he rides a bike and leaves the homes neat and tidy?

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Thanks to View-Speed for their generous contribution to help keep BikinginLA coming your way every day. Click here if you’d like to donate to help support this site

 

Morning Links: More proof lower speed limit cuts casualties, and CA bill could allow lower limits on dangerous streets

One quick question before we start.

Does it count as Viking Biking in Los Angeles when there’s water falling from the sky?

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Evidently, 20 really is plenty.

Overall traffic injuries in Edinburgh, Scotland have dropped 24% since the city instituted a 20 mph speed limit. And fatalities and serious injuries dropped nearly a third.

More evidence that if Los Angeles is serious about Vision Zero — something that remains to be seen — it will have to get serious about lowing speed limits.

Which will be difficult to do under current state law.

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That effort could be aided a little by a new bill in the state legislature that would allow cities to lower speed limits on streets with a high crash rate.

The bill, AB 2363, sponsored by Glendale’s Laura Friedman, is a long way from repealing the state’s deadly 85th percentile law, which allows speeding drivers to set dangerously high speed limits.

But at least it’s a step in the right direction.

And one Los Angeles should support if we hope to make a dent in the city’s far-too-high fatality rate.

Then again, one death is one too many.

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Local

Ewan McGregor is one of us, as the paparazzi catch him going for a bike ride with his daughter in LA.

 

State

A woman was seriously injured in San Diego County’s Imperial Beach when she was struck by a left-turning driver as she rode with two other people in a bike lane. Needless to say, the driver claims he never saw her — and somehow concludes, based on that total lack of knowledge, that she never saw him, either. Thanks to Frank Lehnerz for the heads-up. 

People for Bikes offers lessons learned from San Francisco’s “lightening-fast, dirt-cheap” protected bike lanes.

 

National

In news that should surprise absolutely no one, studies show that Uber and Lyft are adding to the congestion on our streets, rather than reducing it.

Hawaii bike riders complain that drivers give cyclists less space on the road than they’d give a dog.

A Wisconsin city is making efforts to become more bike-friendly, nearly two centuries after bicycles first came to town. Even if one of the two bike-friendly businesses is the local tackle shop.

Dozens of Illinois cyclists took a 40-mile winter bike ride to promote year-round bicycling, and raise funds to buy a new bicycle for the local police department.

A Detroit newspaper looks at calls to boycott the maker of Giro, Bell, Camelbak and Copilot bike gear, because their parent company also make guns and ammunition, and supports the NRA.

A 77-year old Pennsylvania woman has donated the funds needed to finish a $1 million bike and pedestrian bridge over a highway, which will be named after her surgeon husband, who passed away last year.

Bike riders in Atlanta are complaining about cars blocking bike lanes. In other words, just like drivers do virtually everywhere else.

 

International

Nice story, as a mother worries, and does the research, when her 5-year old daughter asks if she can ride to school by herself.

A Toronto newspaper sings the praises of bicycling in Mexico City, while noting it’s still far from a bike paradise.

An Ottawa, Canada newspaper complains that bikes were an afterthought in plans for a new train line, after commissioners reject plans to ban bikes from the trains at rush hour.

Ebike sales are surging in Europe, as they give older and disabled people the opportunity to ride, while others look to reduce their carbon footprint.

The war on bikes continues, as a road raging English driver tries to run a bike rider off the road, before getting out and pushing him off his bike.

An automotive website looks at the problem of introducing dockless bikeshare to Amsterdam, where most residents already own one or more bikes, and don’t welcome the new bikes cluttering their sidewalks.

A Spanish man tells the tale of how he spent 28 days in a coma after being struck by lightening, then recovered enough to win a bronze medal at last year’s paracycling world championships. Oddly, he was struck just days after getting a lightening bolt tattoo.

New Zealand bicyclists complain that moving a bike lane to the opposite side of the street to avoid conflicts with bus stops has actually made it more dangerous.

Auckland, New Zealand turns to polka dot streets in an effort to get drivers to slow down and protect bike riders and pedestrians.

Caught on video: A lane-splitting Aussie bike rider slams into an 80-year old man who was crossing mid-block between stalled cars.

 

Competitive Cycling

Locals fear Philadelphia’s 33-year old professional bike race is over for good, after being canceled for the second straight year.

VeloNews offers photo essays from the winter Omloop and Muur cycling classics.

 

Finally…

When you feel the need for a hard ride, but don’t actually want to go anywhere. That feeling when the hit-and-run driver who ran you over is a Nintendo character in a go-kart.

And why bother building more bikeways when you can just declare your city bike-friendly?

 

Morning Links: NTSB report concludes speed kills, Press-Enterprise misses the mark, and a new SoCal bike film

Traffic safety advocates already know that speed kills.

One of the basic tenets behind Vision Zero states that a pedestrian — or bike rider — hit at a speed of 20 mph has a far greater chance of survival than one hit at 40 mph or higher.

A difference of a 10% chance of death at 20 mph versus 80% at 40, according to one federal government study.

Although a study by AAA cites a much lower risk of death at similar speeds.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board — the group that brought you air bags and graduated driver’s licenses for teens — says speeding is responsible for roughly as many deaths as both drunk driving and not wearing a seat belt.

And they say it’s long past time to do something about it.

That something ranges from automated speed cameras — currently illegal in California — and cars that alert drivers when they’re exceeding the speed limit, to a national anti-speeding campaign and changes in how speed limits are set.

And yes, it also includes the sort of lane reductions that have been much maligned in Playa del Rey and Mar Vista. Even though they’ve proven hugely successful in improving safety and revitalizing Santa Monica’s Main Street and York Blvd in Northeast LA.

So, increasingly, traffic engineers are trying to design roads that reflect the needs of all users, not just motorists. “The design of a facility can help send the message of what the proper speed is and encourage people to drive at that speed rather than a faster speed,” Lindley says.

The NTSB report did not explore the issue of road design, and that’s a missed opportunity, says Atherton, the director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “You have to pair speed limits with physical traffic-calming measures for them to be effective,” she says. “Just lowering the speed limits is insufficient.”

One of the NTSB commissioners asked the agency’s researchers during their presentation why road design wasn’t emphasized in the report. One of the authors said that other publications, like street designs by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the Federal Highway Association already explained in great detail how to improve road design to improve safety.

The people fighting to have the lane reductions ripped out insist they’re not anti-safety.

In which case, they need to step up and work with those who have already been focused on improving traffic safety, rather than just standing in the way of community-driven improvements.

Because speed kills.

And it’s already taken far too many of us.

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The Riverside Press-Enterprise tried to clarify California bike laws after getting the rules on sidewalk riding wrong.

Yet they still get it wrong when they say that bicyclists have to use bike lanes when they’re available, but fail to point out that bike riders can legally ride on any public street, with or without a bike lane or sharrows, with the exception of some limited access freeways.

Or that bicyclists are legally allowed to ride in the center of the lane on any right-hand lane that’s too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle. Which is the case on most of the roadways in LA County, and many in the rest of Southern California.

Although nothing says riders have to take the lane if they’re not comfortable there. Even though riding to far right increases the risk of unsafe passing by motorists.

And if bicyclists are traveling with the speed of traffic, they can legally ride anywhere on the road they damn well want to, as long as they travel in the direction of traffic.

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A new experimental film dropping this weekend paints a portrait of Southern California’s Cryptic Cycles, award winner at the 2016 North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

The trailer below offers a first look at what the filmmaker describes as “the unique handmade build process of crafting a one-of-a-kind carbon fiber bike frameset and the amazing feeling it gives you on your first ride.”

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Ex-Tour de France winner Floyd Landis talks with Cycling News, saying nothing has really changed since he broke cycling’s omertà.

VeloNews says the Colorado Classic represents the future of bike racing, while the Denver Post offers some great photos from last weekend’s race.

Riders in the Tour of Britain could be breaking the law when one stage starts in a town where bicycling is banned in the city center.

Food & Wine examines the decidedly non-gourmet 7,000-calorie diet of a professional cyclist.

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Local

LA Downtown News explains what happened to the protected bike lane and other streetscape improvements that were promised as part of the Wilshire Grand construction project; city officials insist it’s still coming as part of a longer corridor improvement project leading into the Arts district.

Plans for safety improvements on North Figueroa are on hold, as Roadkill Gil Cedillo attempts to block any road diets in his district without his prior approval. Which would simply codify the virtual fiefdoms councilmembers currently enjoy in their districts, but for just him.

A smart essay on the Los Angeles Walks website says Vista del Mar offers a sad but instructive lesson for LA, and calls for more productive conversations to ensure pedestrians are protected.

 

State

The husband of an Encinitas hit-and-run victim calls for help in finding the coward who left his bike-riding wife lying injured in the street.

Great idea. The annual Victor Valley Bicycle Tour has donated 600 traffic signs promoting California’s three-foot passing law, to be posted in Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville and San Bernardino County.

A local TV station talks with the Atascadero man who won this year’s Tour Divide, despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year.

Tragic news from Fresno, where a 51-year old bike rider was killed after allegedly running a red light.

Streetsblog looks at last week’s pop-up protected bike lane in San Jose.

 

National

Bicycle Times offers advice on how to pack your bike for travel. Or better yet, you could just pack your panniers and ride it there.

Post-Charlottesville, conservative media sites are deciding that maybe it’s not a good idea to encourage people to drive through protesters. Although conservative lawmakers don’t seem to be getting the message. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

The Today Show profiles a DC doctor who only makes house calls — often by bicycle.

A Savannah GA weekly says widening roads can make them more dangerous, rather than the other way around. Which is putting it mildly.

A Florida business is raising funds to build a new custom bicycle, compete with speakers, for the town’s “bike man” after his was destroyed in a collision that left him hospitalized.

This is why so many people hate lawyers. A Florida attorney blames the hospital for a bicyclist’s death, even though the victim wouldn’t have been there if his client hadn’t dragged the man under his car for two miles following a collision, then dumped him into a trash bin.

 

International

Caught on video: A road raging Brazilian driver rams a bicyclist from behind, then repeatedly runs up onto his bicycle before the rider jumps up onto the hood of the car to keep him from fleeing. That last part’s not smart, as we saw in this week’s Long Beach crash.

A Vancouver cyclist is doing a double Everest — 58,058 feet of vertical climbing — to fight depression.

The war on bikes continues, as someone strung fishing line at neck height across a popular English biking trail. A particularly dangerous crime, since fishing line tends to be virtually invisible, even in daylight.

Caught on video too: A bike rider suffers a too close call in the British equivalent of a right hook.

Cyclists in South Africa’s Western Cape region complain about life-threatening drivers who run them off the road. More proof that you’ll find LA drivers everywhere.

Gold medal-winning Australian track cyclist Stephen Wooldridge died at age 39 after taking his own life; like many athletes, he struggled to cope after his cycling career ended.

The vice mayor of Brisbane, Australia calls for scrapping the country’s mandatory bike helmet law.

 

Finally…

Just because a bridge doesn’t have a bikeway doesn’t mean you can’t find a scary way across. Your next smart bike could cost 1999 yuan.

And it’s easy to go incognito on a bicycle.

Even if you’re dressed in spandex shorts and a hunting shirt.

 

Morning Links: Expanded mobile phone driving ban, Vision Zero speed limits, and scary bike-riding non-clowns

The good news is, we’ve figured out what caused the problem with email notifications for new posts. Now that the tech supports are back from their annual conference, maybe we can get it working again.

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Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation prohibiting drivers from holding and operating mobile phones for almost any reason, including changing a play list or using a GPS.

However, in a sign of just how seriously the state doesn’t take distracted driving, the fine for the first violation is a measly $20, rising to a whole $50 for subsequent violations.

Even though distracted driving is every bit as deadly as drunk driving.

And people will continue to die until we treat it that way.

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Seattle votes to lower speed limits on city streets, from 25/30 mph to 20/25 mph as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan.

Which is exactly what LA has to do if there’s any hope of reducing, let alone eliminating, traffic fatalities by 2025.

Yet here in the City of Angels, the case is complicated by streets with near-highway speeds as a result of the deadly 85% rule, which sets speed limits at the average speed of 85% of drivers on any given street.

In other words, the best way to make sure the speed limit goes up is to keep your foot firmly planted on the gas pedal. Which is kind of like putting bank robbers in charge of bank security.

Never mind that speed limits are unenforceable by radar guns on roughly 75% of the city’s streets, thanks to the city’s failure to conduct the required speed surveys.

And never mind that decades of flawed traffic planning has left Los Angeles with countless streets engineered to carry traffic at speeds far beyond the posted limits, and too many drivers more than happy to take advantage of that.

Angelenos have gotten used to driving that extra 10 to 15 mph above the speed limit, even on streets with posted limits of 45 mph or more.

We could see open rebellion and riots in the streets if the police started cracking down on speeders — or at least a number of recall threats and angry letters to the Times. Let alone if city officials found a way around the 85% law to lower limits to life-sparing levels.

But it has to be done.

Because until we do, Vision Zero will be nothing more than a couple of words.

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Maybe the national obsession with scary clowns is just a tad out of control.

Consider this report from Portland, Tennessee about the arrest of pranksters posing as clowns.

State and local police urge residents to call in all unusual behaviors to the nearest law enforcement agency. The warning comes in light of several incidences in Tennessee and beyond involving people disguised as clowns who have threatened and scared people and children…

Portland (TN) police received another call Tuesday morning reporting a clown was riding a bicycle near Highways 109 and 52. The report was false and police found a person riding a bike wearing a safety vest with flashing lights to warn traffic, Heavner said.

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Cycling scion Taylor Phinney jumps to the Boulder CO-based Cannondale-Drapac team for 2017, just two years removed from the crash that nearly ended his racing career; Cycling Tips offers a good profile of the 26-year old racer as he works to revitalize his career.

Atlas Obscura looks at the demise of America’s love affair with six-day track cycling competitions of the ‘20s and ‘30s.

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Local

Richard Risemberg argues the benefits of a road diet on 6th Street in the face of NIMBY opposition.

CiclaValley offers a recap of recent bike cam videos, including yesterday’s big bike lane dump in Griffith Park and a dump off his bike at the Griffith Observatory.

World Car-Free Day may be over, but Santa Monica gets into the act on October 7th.

The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition and Bike SGV wants your input if you walk or bike in the San Gabriel Valley.

Damien Newton talks with Wesley Reutimann about the rescheduled 626 Golden Streets open streets event.

 

State

San Diego’s Measure A would raise $18 billion for transportation infrastructure, but just $540 million would be set aside for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Chula Vista applies for funds to build a four-mile bike lane and make other bike and pedestrian safety improvements on a street where 33 bicyclists were involved in collisions over a four year period.

Three Redlands cyclists are riding 250 miles to Las Vegas to raise funds for underprivileged kids.

 

National

Cities around the US are using temporary, pop-up traffic installations to see if they work before making permanent changes. Which is a smart way of avoiding the inevitable panic that stops most projects before they ever start.

Students at the University of New Mexico pitch in to buy a new bicycle for a fellow student after his was stolen.

The nation’s best bike city, as anointed by Bicycle Magazine, has suffered six bicycling fatalities this year, all involving commercial vehicles. Meanwhile, a Chicago TV station finds the city’s bike lanes are often blocked by parked vehicles, despite a city ordinance prohibiting it.

A Michigan middle school student barely avoided becoming collateral damage when he jumped off his bike just before a van involved in a collision rolled over it.

Something is seriously wrong when a Western PA bike rider faces jail for taking the lane.

Boston’s bikeshare system really doesn’t want anyone riding their bikes on a busy highway.

New Yorkers are shaming drivers who block bike lanes on a new interactive website.

A Delaware cyclist says he’s giving up riding after he was rear-ended by a car, saying local roads are too dangerous and drivers don’t care.

Nice gesture, as Atlanta considers naming a one-block section of the Peachtree Street bike lane after the co-founder of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition after he died of a brain tumor.

 

International

Treehugger says Toronto has zero vision when it comes to Vision Zero.

A London supermarket will test one hour bicycle delivery.

A British cop stepped away from his duties protecting the US ambassador to save the life of a cyclist; the rider flew through the rear window of a parked car when he crashed into it on a training ride.

Scotland is in danger of missing their goal of having one in ten journeys made by bicycle by the year 2020, as ridership declined slightly last year.

A beautiful new 2/3-mile bike and pedestrian suspension bridge will be the longest bridge in Finland when it’s finished.

Turkey opens its first bike themed and bike friendly resort hotel.

A South African cyclist faces charges after he became enraged when a driver honked at him, attacking both her and a second rider who came to her defense, then throwing a cup of hot coffee at her husband when they spotted him at a bistro. Seriously, no matter what a driver does, violence is never the answer. Nor is losing control of yourself.

An Aussie cyclist takes silver in finishing her seventh triathlon, just three years after receiving a heart and double lung transplant.

A Chinese cyclist rode from China to Portugal, covering just under 1,000 miles in 87 days.

 

Finally…

When you’re on parole and carrying stolen credit cards and prescription drugs, it’s probably a good idea to obey local bike laws. If you’re carrying coke on your bike and have outstanding warrants, put a light on it — and don’t pass yourself off as your warrantless brother.

And the underwater mountain bike season is officially over.

 

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