Tag Archive for Stephen Box

Updates on Mark Leones and Margaret Conway, Box bites back on city bike ed and a bakfiets full of links

A few quick notes to start the week, starting with a few good follow-ups on two recent cycling deaths behind the Orange Curtain.

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The Orange County Register offers a nice profile of Mark Leones, who died last week after his bike hit a groove in the pavement on a steep downhill in Laguna Beach. They also provide a look at Margaret Conway, killed on her way home from work at Disneyland on October 13th.

Sounds like both will be very missed.

And thanks to the Register for their much-improved coverage of local cycling issues.

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In a must read, former city council candidate Stephen Box says the bike plan is great, but L.A. cyclists would benefit even more if all city agencies were to educate their employees on the rights of cyclists.

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LACBC has been selected to conduct a vital study of the economic effects of bike lanes and road diets on NELA’s York Blvd. KCRW’s Steve Herbert looks at the dangers of dooring and how to avoid it. Nagging pays off as Rick Risemberg gets bike racks installed in Playa del Rey. Friday’s monthly Critical Mass should be a costumed affair. Could separated bike lanes help transform Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock into a safe, sustainable and vibrant street? South Pasadena gets the San Gabriel Valley’s first bike plan. Simi Valley will soon connect a gap in a key bikeway, allowing cyclists to ride to the local Metrolink station. Evidently, those folks at the Bikerowave know how to party. The recumbent world holds it’s first trade show in Pomona this past weekend. Long Beach plans to survey bike use to determine next steps. One last chance to learn how to track race this year at the Encino Velodrome; speaking of which, if you’re looking for a good cause to support L.A. cycling, they could use the help.

Corona del Mar bike advocate Frank Peters beautifully captures the feeling of a single night’s ride; if you’ve ever wondered why we ride, this is a pretty good answer. A Navy corpsman is honored for saving the life of an injured cyclist in Oceanside last spring. NIMBYist landowners block extension of a Yuba City bike trail. A hit-and-run driver knocks down a homeless couple in Chico. A Sacramento cyclist helps capture three teenage home burglars. Richard Masoner, author of one of the nation’s leading bike blogs, barely survives a near miss with a brand-new Chevy crossover.

American cyclist Joseph Papp gets his penalty reduced to an eight year ban for doping, in addition to three years probation, including six months of house arrest, for distributing EPO and human growth hormone. Bicycling looks at energy bars. A Tucson cyclist is killed after reportedly running a stop sign, while Oregon Live asks if it’s worth it for cyclists to run red lights. The victim of a Brooklyn cycling collision was a well-known New York artist. An NYC community board backs off a proposal to license and register riders. Eighty percent of Manhattan voters embrace plans for a new bike share program. Kathy Perry and Russel Brand ride through Gotham. A New York Times columnist nears the end of his 4,100 mile cross-country bike ride; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. A Mississippi driver faces up to 13 years for killing a Dutch cyclist while high on morphine. Cyclists rally to support a German bike tourist injured in a Virginia collision. A Florida cyclist dies after falling over a guard rail on a highway ramp; as always, the question is why?

Bicycling profiles Eddy Merckx, possibly the greatest bike racer of all time; meanwhile, another candidate for best ever is the 23rd best triathlete. Toronto police propose licensing cyclists to improve enforcement; yes, the solution to over crowded streets is to make it harder for people to get out of their cars. Despite five local cyclists hit by cars in just two weeks, Sussex, UK press call for a crackdown on selfish cyclists; they’ve got a point, it is rude of us to bleed all over their cars. Tensions rise between German cyclists and drivers, while the Transport Minister threatens to mandate helmets if user rates don’t rise. How the Dutch got their cycle paths; Dutch drivers and cyclists often share the road without exactly sharing the road.

Finally, a sad day as former Aussie cycling champ Bob Ryan passes away at age 73. And a special note to occasional Kiwi correspondent the Trickster, and any other New Zealanders who may be reading — congratulations on a well-deserved victory by the All-Blacks.

And don’t forget that President Obama is coming into L.A. at rush hour Monday night; sounds like a perfect excuse to bike to work.

L.A.’s groundbreaking anti-harassment ordinance moves forward; Box says the journey continues

Unfortunately, transit issues kept me from getting to Wednesday’s Transportation Committee meeting until after the hearing for the proposed anti-harassment ordinance.

The good news is, there were plenty of other cyclists there to support it, including Ross Hirsch, Jeff Jacobberger and BAC Chair Jay Slater. In the end, the measure received unanimous approval to move forward to the full council, while the City Attorney’s office considers minor wording changes to clarify the penalties and to add a line prohibiting forcing cyclists off the road.

The committee also voted to support a study to develop solid data for a Safe Routes to School program, and to recommend funding of bike and pedestrian projects from Measure R.

Damien Newton offers a full recount of the meeting on Streetsblog, and LADOT Bike Blog provides an in-depth report on the anti-harassment ordinance. And you catch up on the meeting by following the Twitter feed.

As for me, I gained first-hand knowledge of why Wilshire Boulevard so desperately needs a Bus Rapid Transit lane.

And why I will avoid the 720 bus from here on, even if it means walking another 10 blocks to catch the 728.

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Stephen Box says even though he lost, the journey continues; let’s not forget that he remains the city’s most forceful bike activist. It will be interesting to see if the beard comes back, or if he stays in his new clean-shaven politico mode.

Meanwhile, Tom LaBonge says thanks, and Damien Newton offers his thoughts on Tuesday’s election results; as usual on Streetsblog, the comments are worth reading, too. Mark Elliot offers an insightful post-mortem on Better Bike Beverly Hills in which he blames you, if you were one of the overwhelming majority of voters who didn’t bother to.

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The Economist says if motorists paid for all the costs they impose on others, there’d be fewer drivers complaining about bike lanes and more people using them. And a writer for the Washington Post nails it when he says if you love driving, buy your neighbor a bike:

I see the (New York City) Bloomberg administration’s aggressive pursuit of bike lanes and related alternatives as an almost radically pro-car position. If driving is to remain half as pleasant as Cassidy wants it to, it will only be because most New Yorkers decide against purchasing cars. And they’re only going to do that if the other options seem attractive…. I’ve seen that future and it’s called Los Angeles. New Yorkers should want no part of it.

Neither should we.

Meanwhile, suddenly embattled NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan escapes the media-generated backlash to present at the National Bike Summit. And a DC writer says hatred of cyclists is not a partisan issue; she’s got a point, I’m sure liberal drivers blame cyclists as much as conservatives do. And Dave Moulton says the whole argument is a sign that we’re winning.

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CSU Long Beach and UC Irvine were named Silver-level Bike Friendly Universities by the League of American Bicyclists; UCLA was awarded Bronze. Needless to say, USC, which banned bikes from parts of campus — including a walkway Metro lists as designated bikeway — wasn’t.

The upper levels were held exclusively by California schools, with UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara awarded Gold, and Stanford the only school recognized with a Platinum award. And that little school in my hometown gets a little credit, too.

Thanks to Evan G. for the tip.

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The next Folk Art Everywhere ride rolls this Saturday from noon to 3 pm starting at Rudy Ortega Park in San Fernando, giving you a chance to tour the Northeast Valley in a fun and easygoing way while you learn about the Valley’s past and present Native American tribes. Guest speakers will represent Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, Pacoima Beautiful and Pukuu Cultural Community Services.

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ABC’s Modern Family talks up cycling and safe streets; maybe some of the other Hollywood shows will join in. Without bike parking, bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure won’t encourage commuting or shopping. More on the national Best Practices Award given to LACBC’s City of Lights Program. LADOT Bike Blog reports on the March BPIT meeting. A 55-year old rider known as the Unigeezer becomes the first to ride a unicycle up L.A.’s steepest street.

Thousand Oaks residents argue over widening a roadway for a planned bike lane; opponents actually call for a separated bike path instead. A look at Amine Britel, the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk driver in Newport Beach last month. Russ Roca says this bike is not a bike, it’s a Brompton — but please don’t tell. Santa Rosa senior citizens oppose a bike lane through their retirement community. Lodi is the latest city to crack down on cyclists, though most of their scofflaws are children. Cal State Fullerton police use GPS trackers to bust bike thieves. Visalia’s bike plan calls for 200 miles of new bike lanes. The Art of the Group Ride, a great new — well, new to me at least — Bay Area blog enjoys a group ride for two, even if the other rider is just 2-1/2.

Rising young marathoner, trail runner and triathlete  Sally Meyerhoff was killed in a collision with a pickup in Maricopa AZ on Tuesday when she reportedly failed to stop at a stop sign; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up. Looks like bike cafes may be the latest trend. The new Urban Bikeway Design Guide is out for all you traffic engineers, street planners and infrastructure wonks. Nine tips for beginning cyclists. Detroit focuses on biking to attract young professionals to the city. As part of CNN’s Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, a cyclist discovers the challenges of clipless pedals. Traffic isn’t the only risk some riders face.

Christian Vande Veld is passing on this year’s Giro. Former Liquigas rider Franco Pellizotti says a two-year doping ban probably marks the end of his riding career. Pro riders threaten to strike over a ban on race radios; somehow, Eddie Merckx and the other legends seemed to do okay without them. Brisbane pedestrians call for a ban on sidewalk riding “lycra lunatics” because “we were here first.” A Christchurch NZ cyclist is determined to ride again after breaking his neck while riding to check on his neighbors after the recent earthquake.

Finally, Bike Rumor says now this is a bike lane. Anyone want to bet there’s nothing like it in the L.A. or L.A. County plans?

Good news and bad news — Box finishes third in CD4, LACBC’s City of Lights honored

Newly re-elected CD4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge with LACBC board member Scott Moore.

Despite running what appeared to be a very smart campaign, bike activist Stephen Box lost overwhelmingly to Council District 4 incumbent Tom LaBonge yesterday.

While he appeared to have support from many in the cycling community — as well as backing from food truck operators — it wasn’t enough to keep him from finishing third in the three man race, with less than half the votes of second place Tomas O’Grady.

And far behind LaBonge, who sailed to victory with over 55% of the vote — echoing predictions from internal polling.

I won’t go into a lengthy post-mortem here. Bicycle Fixation offers a good look at what went wrong, while pointing out LaBonge’s re-election is far from a disaster.

However, it would be wrong to look at this as a failure of the cycling movement in Los Angeles. Prior to the election, a number of cyclists told me privately that they preferred the more moderate and usually bike-friendly LaBonge; so despite how it may have looked before the election, the bike vote may have actually been split between the two candidates. And it’s important to note that many of Box’s most ardent supporters live outside of his district.

In the end, he lost out to one of the city’s most likeable politicians. As well as the power of incumbency, which seems almost impossible to overcome in L.A.

It is worth noting that LaBonge will be termed out in four years, leaving an open seat; whether Box will try again is another question.

So let me congratulate Councilmember Tom LaBonge on winning another four years, and encourage him to continue to be a friend to the cycling community.

And hats off to Stephen Box for a very hard-fought, if ultimately unsuccessful, campaign. And for opening the door for cyclists to run for city office.

Whatever the reasons behind his loss, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.

And he certainly won’t be the last to try.

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Congratulations to the LACBC’s City of Lights program, which was honored last night with the Best Practices Award from the Alliance for Biking and Walking at this year’s National Bike Summit.

The Best Practices Award goes to an organization that serves as a model for other bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. In 2010, countless individuals and a number of advocacy organizations drew information and inspiration from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The LACBC’s City of Lights initiative elevated the conversation about “invisible cyclists” - men and women who ride bicycles but whose voices aren’t heard and needs aren’t acknowledged because of language or economic barriers. Through thoughtful outreach and, more importantly, true collaboration, the LACBC is changing the dialogue among city officials about urban planning, bringing new advocates into the movement and, expanding the scope of the bike-ped movement to address critical issues of social and economic justice.

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Lately, it seems like half the links on here have to do with the state of cycling in New York City. For instance…

A writer for the New Yorker bizarrely says he supports programs that encourage cycling, as long as they don’t affect his ability to park his Jag, although he does seem to consider bipedalism a passing fad; Aaron Naparstek artfully deconstructs — or perhaps eviscerates — his arguments. The Observer says straw men on bikes represent the city’s last culture war. Turns out that NY pol was only joking about ripping out the bike lanes; it was a real knee-slapper alright. The suddenly embattled Janette Sadik-Khan reports that her controversial efforts to reshape Gotham’s streets have improved safety 40% for all road users; yeah, I can see why they want to get rid of her. Bob Mionske offers his typically insightful perspective on the city’s bike wars. And the Guardian says it could negatively affect the future of cycling worldwide.

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If you find yourself in the Valley Thursday afternoon, stop by the groundbreaking for the West Valley L.A. River Greenway. Streetsblog reports $2.6 million in local Measure R funds will go to L.A. bikeways. LADOT Bike Blog looks at the role of mini-roundabouts in calming traffic on bike-friendly streets; considering the way drivers race around the one near me at Eastborne and Westholme, it doesn’t seem to be working. Local SF residents want to live on a street, not a virtual freeway. Cyclicious offers a more in-depth look at the new Bicycle Studies Program at Lees McCrae College.

Looking at the politics of cycling from a female perspective. The National Bike Summit is now underway in Washington DC; one of these days, I’ll find a way to be there. New national bikeway design standards are released. Why you should participate in group rides. The top five most influential women is cycling. After just one year, People for Bikes is one-fifth of the way towards their goal of 1 million cyclists. Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbilt offers an interesting infographic on the causes of traffic jams. Eight states continue to hold out in efforts to create a national bike route system; someone should tell them bike tourists spend money too. A New Mexico State Police spokesman tells cyclists to stay off the open roadways; having spent a lot of time in the Land of Enchantment, I can attest that covers most of the state. In a tragic incident, a blind Illinois cyclist is killed by an apparently distracted driver. A bike theft with a happy ending. Minneapolis cyclists find strength in numbers.

UK cyclists fight back against Northern Ireland’s proposed mandatory helmet law. Evidently, becoming the UK’s leading bike city doesn’t happen overnight, or even in three years. A look atSouth African cyclists. And a brilliant post on IPayRoadTax.com looks at driver bias and says cyclists don’t own the road, we rent it; seriously, if you don’t read any other links today, read this one.

Finally, a new study shows that traffic fatalities increase after nail-biter finishes in sporting events, but only in the hometown of the winning team. So you might want to be careful riding after Lakers games, but feel free to ride after Clippers play.

Bike plan moves forward, police crackdown in OC, Box and bikes profiled in LA Weekly

First the big news, as the joint Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management votes to move forward with the draft bike plan, with a five year plan for implementation.

While that’s great news for city cyclists, it also means no for now to the proposed South Venice Beach bike path extension.

The debate was dominated by discussion over whether to allow bikes on city trails currently used by hikers and equestrians — something that safely occurs around the world, yet according to the local horse crowd, would lead to inevitable disaster here in L.A.

While there’s an obvious need for people to use trails safely and courteously, and observe the rights of other users, public parks and trails belong to everyone and shouldn’t be set aside for any single group. Or exclude any single group of users.

The committee voted to have the Planning Department negotiate language between both types of riders; however, anything that doesn’t find a way to accommodate all users would be a failure.

Meanwhile, the plan will now go to the full committee for final approval before going to the Mayor for his signature; all indications are Villaraigosa will sign off on the plan.

You can still follow yesterday’s live coverage of the meeting from L.A. Streetsblog, LACBC and Christopher Kidd of LADOT Bike Blog by clicking here.

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New York cyclists have been justifiably up in arms the last few weeks over the NYPD’s efforts to crack down on lawbreaking cyclists, while ignoring more dangerous violations by drivers.

Now a similar move is underway here as the Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa police departments are banding together to conduct a “specialized Bicycle Safety Enforcement Operation” on the 19th and 24th of this month.

Despite the title, the press release promises officers will address traffic violations by cyclists and other vehicle operators that could “lead to bicycle vs. vehicle collisions, injuries and fatalities.”

The goal of the program is to educate the public about the safe and lawful use of bicycles, as well as the safe and lawful use of vehicles that share the roadway with bicycles. Prevention is a key component of the program, which centers on the traffic laws that can prevent bicycle riders from becoming injured to killed due to illegal use or reckless behavior by bicyclists and vehicles. In addition, the Police Departments involved may be required to enforce obvious violations to the City’s Municipal Code to maintain safe operations.

I don’t have any problem with enforcing traffic violations by cyclists; frankly, I’ve seen some cyclists who should be ticketed, if not thrown into leg irons. However, I would expect — and all cyclists have every right to expect — that unlike the situation in New York, the crackdown will address violations by drivers as well as cyclists.

And it should take into account which violators pose the greater risk to others.

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Neon Tommy Editor-at-Large Hillel Aron offers an in-depth profile of CD4 City Council Candidate Stephen Box and the history of L.A. bike activism in this week’s L.A. Weekly.

As the article notes, it’s almost impossible to unseat a sitting council member in L.A.; even the most unpopular usually cruise to victory over seemingly more worthy opponents once special interest money starts pouring in. Despite that, there’s a growing sense that Box may have a real shot at forcing incumbent Tom LaBonge into a runoff next month.

LaBonge has long supported cycling, though not always in the way cyclists would prefer; if he were smart, he’d move to strengthen his support of bicycling to undercut Box’s strongest base of support. Instead, he seems to be focused on shoring up support from the anti-bike crowd, as many cyclists see him, rightly or wrongly, as an obstacle in the way of many bicycling issues.

And it’s hard to take the other candidate in the race, Tomas O’Grady, seriously when he ignores questions from the city’s leading newspaper.

You have your own chance to evaluate the candidates tonight when the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council hosts a candidate’s forum at Silver Lake Community Church, 2930 Hyperion Ave. Or you can meet Stephen Box at an open house from 2 to 4 pm this Sunday at 3311 Lowry Road in Los Angeles.

Box has also received an endorsement from MobileFoodNews; not to surprising since LaBonge has been seen as an opponent of L.A.’s popular food trucks.

One other note — the writer of the Weekly article gave me every opportunity to attack other bicycle advocates and advocacy groups; I chose not to do that. It’s my firm belief than anyone working to support cycling in Los Angles deserves my support and gratitude, whether or not I happen agree with them. I’m saddened that not everyone feels the same way.

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If you’re looking for a good ride this weekend, consider the Tour de Palm Springs, with rides ranging from 5 to 100 miles. A little further down the road, the Santa Clarita Century rolls on April 2nd offering a full century, half century, 25-mile and family rides.

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CicLAvia has received a $25,000 grant from the California Endowment. Meanwhile, GOOD is throwing a fundraising party to benefit CicLAvia on Saturday, March 5th; tickets range from $20 to $500.

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The newly unveiled draft plans for South Figueroa range from good to wow, though Josef Bray-Ali says they could use some polishing; then again, there are more important things than signing in for a meeting. L.A. will soon get its first bike corral in Highland Park. Rick Risemberg, who appears to be everywhere these days, writes about taking part in last weekend’s LA Brewery Ride with Flying Pigeon. Cool Claremont bike racks. Long Beach replaces a mandatory bike licensing law with voluntary registration through the National Bike Registry.

A popular retired Bakersfield educator died of a heart attack while riding with friends. A three-year old Visalia girl is killed when she’s backed over by a neighbor’s pickup while riding on the sidewalk. San Francisco police have refused to take reports or issue citations for collisions involving cyclists unless an ambulance is called; so not matter what a driver does, if they don’t seriously injure a rider, they walk. Shameful. Matt Ruscigno rides from San Louis Obispo to L.A. in a single day — while sick. This year’s Amgen Tour of California won’t tour California exclusively.

J. Edgar Hoover on a bike, sort of. It’s not the same as an Idaho Stop Law, but Oregon considers lowering the fines for cyclists who roll through stop signs. Somehow I missed this; Dr. Matthew Burke, the orthopedic surgeon, U.S. Army Major and Iraq war vet critically injured by aggressive driver while on a group ride last October, passed away over the weekend after 4 months in a coma; the driver is charged with reckless homicide.

Yet another London cyclist is killed by a large truck, this time a 28-year old art curator. More bikes than cars expected to cross London’s bridges during morning rush hour in 2011. Irish physicians urge the passage of a mandatory helmet law, even though you’re over six times more likely to die walking on the sidewalk. Europe already has the kind of airport bike lanes John McCain wants to kill. Looks like rising star Taylor Phinney will compete in the Tour of Oman after all. South African cyclist Michael Dean Pepper is banned for three years for a failed drug test; sometimes I think we should just ban everyone for two years and start over.

Well, that’s one more problem we don’t face in L.A. — a South African cyclist survives after using his bike to fight off a leopard attack; evidence suggests that the animal had just escaped from a snare and was fighting for its life, as well.

Stephen Box, his campaign, and our game changer

Today, Damien Newton, editor of L.A. Streetsblog — by far, the city’s most influential source for transportation news — steps in with a guest commentary, as I continue packing in anticipation of my first move in 17 years.

Damien tackles the topic of Stephen Box and his campaign to unseat Tom LaBonge as councilmember for L.A.’s 4th Council District. However, he stresses that this piece reflects his personal opinion, and doesn’t reflect the position of Streetsblog or any other organization.

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Photo by Alex Thompson

Usually a City Council election is about the incumbent, and whether or not he deserves to be returned to City Hall.  However, for any cyclist who follows politics in Los Angeles knows, there is one election on the docket for 2011 that is different: Stephen Box’s challenge of incumbent Tom LaBonge in the 4th Council District.

The election of Stephen Box to the City Council would be a watershed moment for cyclists.  No offense meant to Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes, Bill Rosendahl or even LaBonge himself, but Box has had a laser-like focus on improving safety for cyclists in the city and beyond.

But it’s not just that Stephen understands what’s important to cyclists, he also has an understanding of City Hall and the levers of power that means his ideas can become reality.

The cyclists/LAPD task force was a direct result of Stephen’s advocacy with the police department over the years.  Heck, watch Stephen interact with the police before a Critical Mass ride, and you can forget who is the authority figure and who’s the advocate as police officers happily mug for the camera with Box and his wife, Enci.

Or, just read the newest edition of the Bike Plan and run a search for the word “Backbone.”  Stephen was the leader of the citizen’s group that created the Backbone Bikeway Network after a series of public meetings in 2009.  While a lot of people worked hard to get the Bike Plan changed from the wretched first draft that was dropped in 2009 to what we see today; Box’s imprint, and that of the entire Bike Working Group, is all over the most recent proposal.

Sometimes being a leader means doing something you aren’t particularly thrilled about.  Saddled with a newborn and trying to find the funds to keep Streetsblog going, I had to sit out much of the end of the debate on how Los Angeles will spend its local return funds from Measure R.  The idea of a bike/ped set-aside had originated at the back of the Metro Board Room between myself and LACBC’s Dorothy Le in the summer of 2008, and Box had tried to talk us out of it.

He argued that trying to get a small piece of the pie for bike/ped facilities was the wrong strategy.  Instead we should be pushing for every road project to have a bicycle and pedestrian component.  A fair point.  At the time, I used a football analogy that we were trying to move the ball, but he was going for the touchdown.  A group of people that all wanted the same thing, better designed roads and streets, but had different ideas and plans how to do that.

The point, Stephen wasn’t a fan of the set-aside strategy.  Fast forward to this year.  Both Rosendahl and Mayor Villaraigosa are pushing for 10% of the city’s local return funds to be set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects.  The LADOT was agreeing, but was using a budget trick that would have stripped out nearly $20 million of the $60 million that would have been dedicated to cyclists and walkers.

Photo by Enci Box

I read the LADOT’s reports and I missed it.  So did the staff for Council Members Rosendahl, Parks, Alarcon, Koretz and LaBonge.  They missed it.  So did the Bike Coalition (who have been champs on this issue, make no mistake.)  Stephen didn’t.  He called the LADOT out for it during a Transportation Committee Hearing.  Rosendahl directed them to fix the “error.”  And they did.

And remember, he didn’t even like the idea of a “set aside.”

Let’s also remember that he’s not paid for any of this.  In fact, he’s often paying his own money for materials or even a trip to Sacramento.  He doesn’t always win, after all he’s been the poster boy for the fight against raising speed limits on local streets, but it’s not for a lack of effort.

After convincing then Assemblyman Paul Krekorian to introduce legislation that would have pushed back against limit increases that were popping up throughout the valley, Stephen and Enci took a trip to Sacramento, on their own dime, to lobby for the legislation.  It didn’t pass, but if Los Angeles had put the muscle into lobbying for it that Stephen and Enci did, it would have had a much better shot.

Supporters of LaBonge could point to his history of advocacy for issues such as better bicycle facilities on 4th Street, his voting record at the Council, or the annual Tour LaBonge summer bike series.  Others could argue that LaBonge’s record, which includes obstructing the Bicyclists’ Bill of Rights and originally supporting a plan for the Griffith Park Observatory that didn’t include bike parking.  But the reality is that LaBonge’s record shouldn’t matter when discussing this race.  When it comes to bike issues, Box is a once in a generation chance to get a real champion in City Hall.

Conversely, a lot of people have problems with Stephen’s combative style.  Other advocates have complained to me about it and I’ve known some city staff that just can’t stand him.  More than once I’ve been on the other end of some of his pointed criticism, but it’s because he’s always focused on the results.  And for a one-man army armed with only his brain and a social media-network, the results are impressive.

And I would argue that neither Box’s personality nor LaBonge’s record are the issue.  Whether cyclists as a group can embrace this candidacy and push it over the top is.

And while there are plenty of reasons to support his campaign, as cyclists, we honestly shouldn’t need to look beyond our spokes.  Box will be a great Council Man for Neighborhood Councils, for government transparency, for neighborhood empowerment and for always focusing on results, not intentions.

There’s a reason Box won Streetsblog’s “2009 Livable Streets Person of the Year” award and that Alex Thompson bluntly refers to him as “literally the single most important bike activist in Los Angeles ever.”  His record of advocacy is second to none.

He’s also our game changer.  There’s only one Stephen Box, and we may only have one chance to get him in City Hall.

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In a bizarre case that just doesn’t seem to add up, the L.A. Times says questions remain in the shooting death of Beverly Hills publicist Ronni Chasen. According to Beverly Hills police, Chasen was shot in a botched robbery attempt by a bike riding ex-con — despite the tight grouping of shots, which would have been difficult to achieve from the saddle of a bike. Let alone the lack of bullet casings at the scene or the fact that nothing appears to have been taken. And evidently, according to the police theory, leaving the bike he was reportedly devoted to at the scene.

As a writer for the Huffington Post put it —

How many robbers in America ride a bicycle seven miles to commit a robbery, approach from the passenger side of a single occupant vehicle, shoot with deadly accuracy, center mass, through the passenger window and then leave after taking nothing? Then, potentially leave their bicycle in the area and walk seven miles home? Take the bus? Hitchhike? More than that what about all the firefighters, ambulance, and police that rolled out no one saw him, interviewed him or anything?

So he kills her but doesn’t have time to grab her purse or anything of value from the scene? That really does stretch the notion of “botched robbery.” Not impossible, but very “weird” nonetheless.

Personally, I suspect Joe Anthony, aka @ohaijoe offered a more credible theory when he suggested that it could have been road rage.

At least that theory makes a little sense.

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Transit advocates and cyclists are outraged as the Metro Board discards the recommendations of their own staff and LADOT to exempt the multi-million dollar condos along Wilshire Blvd in the Westwood area from the planned Bus Rapid Transit, or bus-only, lanes.

The lanes would run on either side of Wilshire Blvd; impact on traffic would be manageable, while encouraging alternative transportation and moving more people more efficiently.

Yet somehow, the entire board voted unanimously against the recommendations of the people paid to know what the hell they’re talking about — as well as a room full of people arguing passionately in favor of the extending the BRT the entire length of Wilshire. The attitude of the board seemed to be summed up by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who responded to the comments with “I respect people’s right to pontificate, but the rest of us have a responsibility to make sure things work.”

Yes, he actually said that.

And yes, the rest of the board voted with him to support the desires of the very wealthy few over the needs of everyone else in the room, exempting an approximately 1-mile stretch from Selby to Comstock.

Personally, I intend to remember that quote the next time Zev asks for my vote.

Pontificate, my ass.

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Finally, Chris K, wrench-meister and author of (just) Riding Along, offers up a guest post on Pedalr that they call their best blog post yet. And Long Beach may drop their heavy-handed bike licensing requirement.

Catching up with Le Tour, Box boxes LaBonge, surviving the dreaded death wobble

Overlooking a suddenly sand-free bike path; more on that later Wednesday.

Following a rest day in the Tour de France, it’s clear that Lance wasn’t the only one who took a spill on Sunday; Cadel Evans loses the leaders jersey after trying to ride with a broken arm. Andy Schleck is the one who ends up in it, taking a 41 second lead over chief rival Alberto Contador, as Sandy Casar takes Tuesday’s stage. Then again, maybe they should just give a trophy to anyone who survives to cross the finish line.

Lance shows he may be down but he’s not done. Meanwhile, a New York Grand Jury subpoenas his sponsor Trek, but NPR says his fans are unfazed. And Zeke just doesn’t get the glee some people seemed  to take in his misfortune.

Besides, between the cobbles and fractures and a falling Lance caught on video, this might just be the best Tour de France ever.

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Bike activist extraordinaire Stephen Box announces his candidacy for L.A. City Council, preparing to butt heads against incumbent 4th District Council Member Tom LaBonge; LAist says the reaction has been mixed, but some seem more than open to the idea.

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LACBC explains in graphic detail how to file a report with the LAPD. Walk and ride to a safer 4th Street on July 24th. A sweating Governator bikes the streets of L.A.; maybe it’s time to cut back on the cigars, Arnold. Our streets may have a lot of problems, but at least we don’t have to deal with rumble strips. I’m not the only one who had to deal with a basal cell skin cancer this year; the Springfield Cyclist went in for round two — as he suggests, consider sunscreen your most important safety equipment. A Miami driver is charged with murder after killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run. An insightful response to the standard argument that bicyclists should be licensed. Bicycling is transportation, even if you’re on your way to the airport, or maybe the train. Finding your bike community. The Chicago Bicycle Advocate explains why he runs red lights, saying we are traffic, but we are not cars. More on the anti-bike backlash in bike friendly Colorado. Surprisingly, most drivers really don’t want to kill you. Separated bike lanes are on their way in Vancouver. A controversial Portsmouth bike lane is put on hold. Two Brit riders are badly injured when they’re hit by a truck outside New Orleans.

Finally, the Claremont Cyclist fights to overcome the dreaded death wobble; something I never want to experience again.

A friendly greeting, a nearby death, another bike-hating DJ

It was one of those things that just wouldn’t happen if I’d been driving a car.

Last week, I was on my way back home from a long ride when I stopped at a red light across from Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Monica. Next to me was a frozen yogurt store than had opened recently in what had been an empty space.

The tables outside were filled with an eclectic assortment of people enjoying the sunny afternoon. At the one closest to me, a couple of well-dressed children sat enjoying their desserts.

“Excuse me sir,” said the young African American gentleman at the table, waving as his female companion concentrated on her yogurt. “Nice day, isn’t?”

I nodded in agreement.

“I just graduated from 5th grade,” he continued. “It was hard work, but I made it.”

“Well, congratulations. You should be very proud,” I said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”

“I am!” he answered cheerfully. “Thank you!”

Just then the light changed, so I wished him well as I clipped back into my pedal and started up the road.

“You too,” shouted the voice from behind. “Enjoy your ride!”

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A wrong-way cyclist was killed in Palm Springs Saturday night.

The rider, identified as 46-year old Indio resident Eric Mendoza, was headed north in the southbound lanes of North Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs when he was struck by an unidentified driver at about 11:24 PM.

Riding facing traffic greatly raises your risk of a collision while increasing the potential severity of injuries due to higher relative speeds. In fact, LAPD statistics show that 30% of cyclists killed in Los Angeles in 2008, and 20% of those severely injured, were riding on the wrong side of the road.

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A Pittsburgh cyclist responds to the latest bike-hating DJ, who admits to being tempted to run down those “arrogant little dorks” on their bicycles.

“They’ve got to stop being so arrogant about what they’re doing. They’ve got to obey the rules. They have to do the right thing or else they’re going to get killed.”

Funny how the people who hate bicyclists profess to be so concerned about our safety while simultaneously professing their desire to frighten, injure, maim and/or kill us for the heinous crime of riding a bike in the street. Or maybe just being in their way.

And maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the real arrogant ones are the people who insist that the roads belong to them, rather than acknowledging that others have a right to be there, too.

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Bike Advisory Committee Chair Glenn Bailey reports that LADOT has taken the initial steps to install 2.3 miles of bike lanes on Winnetka Ave between Gault and Nordhoff Streets, 14 years after they were included in the 1996 bike plan — and after another 1.75 miles included in the plan were replaced with curb-to-curb traffic lanes without consulting the bike community.

Bailey urges LADOT to extend the bike lanes two miles to the south, which is also called for in the bike plan, allowing riders to connect with the Orange Line and Pierce College.

Update: LADOT Bike Blog offered clarification in the comments that the bike lane only needs to be extended .8 mile to connect to the Orange Line and the Pierce College Station. He also notes that a couple of road narrowings, including a crossing over the L.A. River, would have to be addressed before the bike lanes can be extended to their planned terminus at Ventura Blvd — something Glenn Bailey had mentioned as well, but which I left out.

Meanwhile, Stephen Box takes LADOT to task for failing to attend last weekend’s Caltrans workshops on Understanding Bicycle Transportation, where they could have learned how to install sharrows correctly.

And speaking of Box, he will be honored, along with Sgt. David Krumer of the LAPD’s Bike Task Force, as the winners of the Eastside Bike Club’s 1st Annual Golden Crank Award for their outstanding contributions to the cycling community in Los Angeles over the past year. The awards will be given at the bike club’s second anniversary celebration this Saturday, June 26.

We will be making the presentation at the EASTSIDE BIKE CLUB 2nd Gear Anniversary Celebration which will be held at

LINCOLN PARK
3501 Valley Blvd, LA CA 90031
PARK PHONE #  213/847.1726

We will begin our day at 2pm to gather, meet and relax at Lincoln Park.  Our presentation will begin at 5pm  followed by a community bike ride   We will contain our ride to the LAPD Hollenbeck Division.  We are asking everyone to decorate your bikes in RED WHITE AND BLUE and wear clothing of the same colors if possible.  Bring Bells, Whistles and Horns!

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Lance Armstrong almost — but not quite — pulled off a big upset by jumping up from seventh place in the final stage of the Tour of Switzerland to finish 2nd, 12 seconds behind winner Frank Schleck; the previous day’s leader, Robert Gesink, dropped back to 5th.

However, the race was overshadowed by the heart attack suffered by 31-year old former Luxembourg national champion Kim Kirchen, who had been in 48th place after the seventh stage. Kirchen was reportedly in stable condition after being placed in medically induced coma.

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Bike Girl advises women riders how to gracefully dismount. Adult drivers are every bit as distracted as their teenage counterparts, which should come as no surprise to those who share the road with them. Into every bike commuter’s life a little rain must fall — along with hail and hurricane force winds, at times. Preview the upcoming movie about America’s first black bike hero. A Chicago man reminisces about his father walking the walk and biking the bike. CNN discovers naked bicycling in St. Louis; Pittsburgh rides naked while DC dons seersucker. In Colorado, even ski towns strive to be bike-friendly. Three to eight years in prison for an Idaho drunk driver convicted of killing a cyclist. Pylon-protected bike lanes on DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue. BMX racers from around the world will be headed to Allegany County, PA for the Stars-N-Stripes Nationals this weekend. Interview with a cam-wearing car-dodging cyclist in Annapolis. A Huntsville, AL bicyclist provides inspiration for Complete Streets in her hometown following her death while riding in another state. A triathlete gives up riding the roads of Israel after the latest of 12 fellow triathletes, the son of a former Israel Supreme Court justice, is killed in a hit-and-run collision. Cyclists in India may soon be required to paint their black bikes bright orange for the sake of safety. A UK cyclist has his new custom-made bike stolen just minutes into his first ride. A distracted Brit bus driver who killed a cyclist walks free.

Finally, an injured non-car-owning cyclist is banned from driving — but not riding — after running a red light and colliding with a car. And Missouri unveils bicycling commemorative license plates, so you can show your support for cyclists while you run them off the road.

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